1693 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Congreve

Thomas Southerne, "To Mr. Congreve" Congreve, The Old Batchelour (1693) sig. A3.



When Vertue in pursuit of Fame appears,
And forward shoots the growth beyond the Years:
We timely court the rising Hero's Cause;
And on his side, the Poet wisely draws;
Bespeaking him hereafter, by Applause.
The days will come, when we shall all receive,
Returning Interest from what now we give:
Instructed, and supported by that Praise,
And Reputation, which we strive to raise.
Nature so coy, so hardly to be Woo'd
Flies, like a Mistress, but to be pursu'd.
O CONGREVE! boldly follow on the Chase;
She looks behind, and wants thy strong Embrace:
She yields, she yields, surrenders all her Charms,
Do you but force her gently to your Arms:
Such Nerves, such Graces, in your Lines appear,
As you were made to be her Ravisher.
DRYDEN has long extended his Command,
By Right divine, quite through the Muses Land,
Absolute Lord; and holding now from none,
But great Apollo, his undoubted Crown:
(The Empire settled, and grown old in Pow'r)
Can wish for nothing, but a Successor:
Not to enlarge his Limits, but maintain
Those Provinces, which he alone could gain.
His eldest Wicherly, in wise Retreat,
Thought it not worth his quiet to be great.
Loose, wandring, Etheredge, in wild Pleasures tost,
And foreign Int'rests, to his hopes long lost:
Poor Lee and Otway dead! CONGREVE appears,
The Darling, and last Comfort of his Years:
May'st thou live long in thy great Masters smiles,
And growing under him, adorn these Isles:
But when — when part of him (be that but late)
His Body yielding must submit to Fate,
Leaving his deathless Works, and thee behind,
(The natural Successor of his Mind)
Then may'st thou finish what he has begun:
Heir to his Merit, be in Fame his Son.
What thou hast done, shews all is in thy Pow'r;
And to Write better, only must Write more.
'Tis something to be writing to commend;
But my best Praise, is, that I am your Friend.