1726 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Thomson

Aaron Hill, "To Mr. James Thomson; on his asking my Advice, to what Patron he should address his Poem, called Winter" 1726 ca.; Hill, Works (1753-54) 3:77-79.



Some Peers have noble skill to judge 'tis true,
Yet, no poor prospect bounds the muse's view:
Firm, in your native strength, thus greatly shown,
Slight such delusive props, and stand alone:
Fruitless dependance, oft has prov'd, too late,
That greatness dwells not, always with the GREAT.
Patrons are NATURE'S nobles, not the STATE'S,
And Wit's a title, no broad seal creates:
E'en KINGS, from whose high source, all honours flow,
Are poor, in pow'r, when they would souls bestow.
He, who stoops safe, beneath a patron's shade,
Shines, like the moon, but by a borrow'd aid:
Truth should, unbiass'd, free, and open, steer,
Strong, as heav'n's heat, and, as its brightness, clear!
Heedless of fortune, then, look down, on state,
Balanc'd, within, by merit's conscious weight:
Divinely proud, of independent will,
Prince of your wishes, live a sov'reign still;
Oh! swell not, then, the bosoms of the vain,
With false conceit, you their protection gain.
Poets, like you, their own protectors stand,
Plac'd, above aid, from pride's inferior hand.
Time, that devours a lord's un-lasting name,
Shall lend her soundless depth, to float your fame:
On verse, like yours, no smiles, from pow'r expect,
Born, with a worth, that doom'd you to neglect.
Yet, would your wit be prais'd — reflect no more,
Let the smooth veil of flatt'ry, silk you o'er:
Aptly attach'd, the court's soft climate try;
Learn your pen's duty, from your patron's eye.
Dutile of soul, each pliant purpose wind,
And, following int'rest close, leave doubt behind;
Then, shall your name strike, loud, the public ear,
For, through good fortune, virtue's self shines clear.

But, in defiance of our taste — to charm,
And fancy's force, with judgment's caution, arm,
Disturb, with busy thought, so lull'd an age,
And plant strong meanings o'er the peaceful page,
Impregnate sound, with sense, teach nature art,
And warm, ev'n winter, 'till it thaws the heart:
How could you thus, your country's rules transgress,
Yet, think of patrons, and presume success!