1754 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Jeffreys

John Duncombe, "Verses to the Author" Jeffreys, Miscellanies (1754) xiii-xv.



As Camus late his laurel'd Sons survey'd,
Propt on his silver Urn, in Granta's Shade,
And saw each Bard, an awful Train, appear,
To charm, with well-known Sounds, his longing Ear,
Old Chaucer first, array'd in Palmer's Weed,
On Time-worn Oat came piping o'er the Mead;
With smoother Lays the bord'ring Valley rung,
While Fancy's Fav'rite, Doric Spenser, sung;
Milton, Musaeus-like, o'erlook'd the Throng,
Divinely chanting his ecstatic Song;
Dryden soft-warbled a melodious Strain,
And courtly Prior join'd the tuneful Train.

Hush'd was the Breeze, and mute the babbling Tide,
While Camus listen'd with a Parent's Pride;
Then, as he rang'd them on his reedy Shore,
"Receive, he cry'd, one Bard, one Brother, more!
A living Bard, the last whose polish'd Lays
Sooth'd my sad Stream in our Deliv'rer's Days;
For, ev'n in William's Reign, his plaintive Verse,
Hung sweetest Wreaths on youthfull Gloucester's Herse;
Thy Urn with Tears, my Dryden, he bedew'd,
Nor mute his Master's slow Procession view'd.

"But Oh! what great, what happier Scenes inspir'd
His Patriot Muse, with Anna's Glories fir'd!
Then, when to Flandria's Fields her Marlbro's Sword
The long-lost Joys of Liberty restor'd,
These Groves re-echo'd with his plausive Song,
And Britain's Triumphs tun'd his glowing Tongue;
To distant Ages eager to display,
The deathless Deeds, that grac'd Ramillia's Day!

"Can I forget how thro' yon broider'd Vale,
Soft Music, floating on the vernal Gale,
Drew ev'ry green-hair'd Dryad from the Wood,
And ev'ry Naiad from my breezy Flood,
Till I, to listen, left my crystal Spring,
And cry'd, Does Eloise, or Constantia, sing?
Admir'd Constantia! o'er thy hapless Bier
Shall Genius mourn, and Beauty drop the Tear,
Till Genius or till Beauty fails to move,
Or Taste and Learning leave this laurel'd Grove.

"But when Rome's Patriot, true to Freedom's Cause,
Gave, on our Stage, his little Senate Laws,
Say why, of all th' applauding Train, alone
Was thy coy Muse to Addison unknown?
She, like a Vestal, veil'd from public View,
Sung Cato's Praise, and with a Blush withdrew:
Yet then, tho various Bards of deathless Fame,
In lasting Strains embalm'd the Poet's Name,
Still, still, we cry'd, unknowing whom to praise,
An equal Genius warms these nameless Lays.

"So when some Pyramid's stupendous Height
On Nile's proud Shore attracts our wond'ring Sight,
Tho' lost the Founder's Name, each Stranger knows,
That by a royal Hand the Fabric rose.

"Ev'n now, like Dryden, unsubdu'd by Age,
Flames forth thy Muse, 'midst Winter's chilling Rage;
She, like her own unchanging Laurel, boasts
A lively Verdure in December Frosts;
And green as ever were the Wreaths she spread
In Hymen's Fane round young Carnarvon's Head.

"Then haste, ye Nine, and, thro' th' Aonian Mead,
To Pindus' utmost Height your Vot'ry lead!
Fir'd with the Charms of Virtue and of Truth,
There let him bloom, renew'd to endless Youth
By that nectareous Stream, which sacred runs
To Britain's Bards, and, chief, to Granta's Sons."
C.C.C.
Cambridge.