1709 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Bentley

Laurence Eusden, "To the Rev. Dr. Bentley, on the Opening of Trinity-College Chappel, Cambridge" Poetical Miscellanies: the Sixth Part (1709) 587-91.



Long have we, safe, Time's envious Fury scorn'd,
By Kings first Founded, then by Kings Adorn'd;
If fainting e'er we fear'd a fatal close,
Some new Maecenas with new Life arose.
Fretted by Age we still the Stronger grow,
And to our Ruins all our Beauties owe.
So Cassia roughly chaf'd the sweeter smells,
And Silver more consum'd in Brightness more excels.

Rais'd on high Columns the proud Fabrick stands,
Where Barrow Praise from ev'ry Tongue commands:
Where the vast Treasures of the Learn'd are shown;
No Works more Rich, more Noble, than his own.
The Muses soon the stately Seat admir'd,
And in full Transports their glad Sons inspir'd:
Their Sons inspir'd sung loud, and all around
Echo redoubl'd back the chearful Sound;
Sweet was the Song, when Lays (if such they give)
Worth of Cedar, shall in Cedar live.

This sumptuous Pile shew'd the brave Founder's Mind,
But equal Labours still remain behind.
God's sacred House too long neglected lies,
And from some other Joash wants Supplies;
But none was found, 'till you resolv'd to show
How far exalted Piety could go:
From little Funds, so largely to design,
Yet to make all in full Perfection shine,
Great is the Glory, and the Glory's thine.

Of old a Joy in ev'ry Face was seen,
Flush'd by the Promise of a bounteous Queen:
She vow'd a Temple; but too soon her Breath
Vanish'd, and seal'd her pious Vows in Death.
Thus David drew the Scheme, but not begun;
The Dome was builded by his wiser Son.
Not so we far'd. Tho' by Eliza lov'd,
Her Sister's thoughts were lost, but not disprov'd.
'Till now we Mourn'd our Fate, but Mourn no more;
Chas'd are the Mists, which dull'd the Light before.
New Golden Censers on new Altars blaze,
New Musick sounds the great Creator's Praise.
Angels again from Heav'n might list'ning stray,
Did not another sweet Cecilia play.
Here, long conceal'd we view the living Paint;
Admire the Picture, not adore the Saint.
There, Cherubs with stretch'd Wings deceive the Sight,
And bending forwards seem prepar'd for flight;
While Flow'rs in pleasing Folds adorn each side,
Some droop their sickly Heads, some wanton in their Pride.
Much more we see, and silent with Surprize,
Recal Times past, and scarce believe our Eyes;
How gloomy once these hallow'd Mansions were,
But now, how wondrous lovely, how divinely fair!
So quickly, where the fragrant Dust was spread,
Riseth the Phoenix from his spicy Bed:
Or such the Change the witty Poets feign'd,
When hoary Aeson his young Bloom regain'd.
He but regain'd what was before his own,
While here are Beauties seen, 'till now unknown.

If it so Charms, how can we ever show
Thy matchless Worth, to whom those Charms we owe?
Our vain Essays our Weakness may proclaim,
But not enlarge the Circle of thy Fame.
Praises from some declusive may appear;
When Foes extol, we need no Flatt'ries fear.
The stubborn Atheist a fierce Shock has felt;
Steel'd tho' he was, he now begins to Melt:
Since thus he sees all Prejudice remov'd,
Thy Acts confess the God thy Learning prov'd.