1731 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Richard Steele

Isaac Thompson, "On Sr. Richard Steele's Christian Hero" Thompson, Collection of Poems (1731) 143-45.



'Twas nobly dar'd in these degen'rate Days
By such a Work as this to merit Praise:
To free the Soul from prejudic'd Mistake,
And teach the Mind it's Errours to forsake.
To set up Christian Strength before our Eyes,
And learn us, Roman Greatness to despise.

Methinks I now the modern Deist see,
Arm'd with his REASON and PHILOSOPHY,
Unfold thy Page, and with malignant Leer,
Survey the Name, and read it with a Sneer.
And bent on Mirth, or to divert his Spleen,
Resolves to view the stupid Stuff within;
But charm'd with Eloquence, and manly Prose,
Soon graver turns and more attentive grows.
He shortly finds his hasty Censure vain,
And feels less Joy in Sentiments profane.
Surpriz'd, he sees new Arguments prevail,
And REASON prove itself, as Nature, frail.
His dictates of Morality less lov'd
He finds, and bright RELIGION stands approv'd;
When he beholds firm Cato's Constancy,
His Strength, his Precepts, and Philosophy,
The steady Hate of Cassius, Brutus' Zeal,
And ev'ry boasted Roman Virtue fail,
When destitute of all his self supplies,
The Heathen HERO basely sinks and dies.
Abash'd, he feels a Sting of gen'rous Pain,
That bids him own his Principles are vain,
Than Artifice, his Fortitude no more.
That flies the Crisis of a trying Hour;
But vacant of himself, he now pursues
A glorious Path, and more extended Views:
New Scenes of awful Goodness strike his Eyes,
For here he sees the CHRISTIAN Hero rise;
What e'er the Roman in his Theory taught,
Is here improv'd and into Practice brought.
Here Grace perfects, what Reason first began,
And GOD supplies the weak Defects of Man.
The Hero bravely dares with just Disdain
The Perils of the Land, and of the Main.
And what the baffled Heathen sought to flie
The Gallant Christian meets with Smiles of Joy:
No Bolts, or Chains, are grievous to his Limbs,
But where the Roman groan'd, the Christian Hymns.
With strength of Faith he beats his Sorrows down,
And firmly Eyes his bright immortal Crown.