1699 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Congreve

Charles Hopkins, "To Mr. Congreve" 1699 ca.; Nichols, Select Collection of Poems (1780-82) 2:216-18.



Let other poets other patrons chuse,
Get their best price, and prostitute the Muse;
With flattering hopes and fruitless labour wait,
And court the slippery friendship of the great:
Some trifling present by my lord is made,
And then the patron thinks the poet paid.
On you, my surer, nobler hopes depend,
For you are all I wish; you are a friend.
From you, my Muse her inspiration drew,
All she performs I consecrate to you.
You taught me first my genius and my power,
Taught me to know my own, but gave me more:
Others may sparingly their wealth impart,
But he gives noblest, who bestows on art,
Nature and you alone can that confer,
And I owe you, what you yourself owe her.
O! Congreve, could I write in verse like thine,
Then in each page, in every charming line,
Should gratitude and sacred friendship shine.
Your lines run all on easy, even feet;
Clear is your sense, and your expression sweet:
Rich is your fancy, and your numbers go
Serene and smooth as crystal waters flow,
Smooth as a peaceful sea which never rolls,
And soft as kind consenting virgins' souls.
Nor does your verse alone our passions move,
Beyond the poet, we the person love.
In you, and almost only you, we find
Sublimity of wit, and candour of the mind:
Both have their charms, and both give that delight,
'Tis pity that you should, or should not write:
But your strong genius Fortune's power defies,
And, in despight of Poetry, you rise.
To you the favour of the world is shown,
Enough for any merit but your own.
Your fortune rises equal with your fame,
The best of poets, but above the name.
O! may you never miss deserv'd success,
But raise your fortunes till I wish them less!

Here should I, not to tire your patience, end;
But who can part so soon with such a friend?
You know my soul, like yours, without design,
You know me yours, and I too know you mine.
I owe you all I am, and needs must mourn
My want of power to make you some return.
Since you gave all, do not a part refuse,
But take this slender offering of the Muse.
Friendship, from servile interest free, secures
My love sincerely and entirely yours.