1729 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Tickell

Thomas Cooke, in "The Battle of the Poets" Tales, Epistles, Odes, Fables (1729) 124-28.



Tickell, bless'd Bard, by Addison approv'd,
A Leader bold, and by the Muses lov'd,
Took in resplendent Arms the martial Field,
The Head of Homer painted on his Shield;
The Lines so strong the master Pencil speak,
All wish he'd draw'd at Length th' immortal Greek.

A Chieftain, who precipitates my Praise,
With Virgil's Genius, tho but Lucan's Days.
Behold. O! Youth, if into Fate I see,
Another Dryden shall arise in Thee.
Born to add Glory to thy native Land,
Thy early Virtues now our Hearts command:
Let Malice throw her feeble Darts in vain,
By Thee retorted only with Disdain,
Still shalt thou give her Reason to repine,
And to the Eye of Judgement ever shine.
Thee in thy Works shall Men unborn adore,
And call the Genius of pass'd Ages Moore.

With these a chosen Band of Warriors came,
Each zealous to assert his Leader's Fame;
Tho' worthy in themselves the Bard's Renown,
They modestly declin'd the laurel Crown.
Against the Foe they march'd in Arms ally'd,
And knew the God with Justice would decide.

The Armys met, the Word the Leaders give,
And all the Signal for the Fight receive.
Betwixt both Hosts Pope, dauntless Champion, stands,
And bids Defiance to the social Bands:
Who dares, he crys, with Me his Strength to try,
Let him consider well what 'tis to dy;
'Tis living to observe his Labours dead,
And by no Reader but their Author read:
Both Day and Night he may torment his Brain,
And write, and write, and ever write in vain:
The Works on which I look with Eyes unkind
Shall vanish like the Chaff before the Wind.
Who doubts my Vigour may repent too late;
Who can like Me invent, or who translate?
Of Epic Bards the Chief and oldest see
Explain'd, and more illustrious made, by Me.

He ends, and lo! his ample Shield uprears,
On which th' Unlikeness of the Greek appears.
Tickell step'd forth, with just Resentment fir'd
In Homer's Cause, and by the Muse inspir'd.
Shield against Shield the Heros now oppose;
Sense clash'd with Sense, and Words on Words arose;
For Pope, a Chief more resolute than strong,
Persisted boldly in the Fight of Song,
Till he at last the Foe too powrful found,
And by him fell unpity'd to the Ground.
About him throng'd his sad Attendants all,
And tho they saw would scarce believe his Fall;
Him to the greenwood Shade they gently bore,
And in hoarse Elegys his Fate deplore.
Tickell observ'd, and thus in Thoughts express'd,
Contempt and Pity rising in his Breast.
Severe his Lot to whom the Muses gave
A Powr so bounded, and a Soul so brave!

[He dyed since the last Edition of this Poem: he was a Man of Genius, and has left some few Monuments of it behind him. 1740.— Cooke, Original Works (1742) 191n.]