1788 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Nichols

William Hamilton Reid, "To Sylvanus Urban, Esq. on completing his LIXth Volume" Gentleman's Magazine 59 (front-matter, 1789) ii.



Still unimpeded as the lucid Spheres,
URBAN, thy Labours crown the rolling Years!
Unlike to those who dazzle for a Day,
As the firm Earth, you dread no quick Decay;
As those above, our Orb you still adorn,
By Truth supported, and on Science borne.

Now as fair Freedom brightens Gallia's Shore,
With lasting Gems, and Gold of richest Ore,
You best sustain the Story's weighty Trust;
Unwarp'd and free, to every Measure just:
You close her Triumphs o'er a Host of Foes,
The paler Lily blushing to the Rose.

Still be it yours to foil Oppression's Claim,
Whate'er its Garb, whate'er its specious Name;
Exalt and cherish, with benignant Beam,
Each Effort mark'd in Virtue's blissful Scheme:
Applause must greet you, as in Years no more,
And Myrtles spring on Envy's desart Shore.

Here if Debate in Opposites involve,
Candour must state, and Judgement clear resolve,
Define, explain, arrange in Order true,
Whate'er to Modes and just Distinction's due;
Till those who start for far-divided Ends
Meet at one Point, and wonder that they're Friends!
May such decide on POPE'S contested Bays,
Nor aught despress the bright DRYDENIC Blaze!

But not to this the pregnant Year is bound,
Still you possess the scientific Round;
Your full Repast each vary'd Taste improves,
And Judgement gains, as misty Doubt removes:
Nor here you stop — but higher Themes invest,
By Cherubs guarded, by Religion blest;
While the vain Sceptic withou Compass drives,
Nor Hope from future or the past derives.
But since your Aim, on Wisdom's better Plan,
Sees fairer Scenes beyond this mortal Span;
Respect, unfeign'd, must every Year increase,
And Labour end in Plenitude and Peace.
Dec. 31, 1789.