1791 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Nichols

R. G. [Richard Gough?], "To Sylvanus Urban, Esq. on completing his Sixty-First Volume" Gentleman's Magazine 61 (front-matter, 1791) ii.



URBAN, my friend with studious cares
The annual mental feast prepares,
And ranges in th' historic page
The facts of each eventful age;
"Time past a different aspect wears
From that which time advancing bears,"
Palmeria said; nor said in vain;
Such chances through each year obtain!
Whether, upon this earthly ball,
Or mortals drop, or empires fall,
Subjects or kings in Hymen's bands
Unite, or die throughout these lands;
Whether, in giddy, flippant France,
The king or people lead the dance;
To please the democratic crew,
Old Constitution's forms undo;
Like spider's web, makes laws and break;
On dukes and priests their vengeance wreak:
Whether Potemkin trims the Turk,
Priestly and Payne belabour Burke;
All-conquering Death the victor stops,
And on the blood-stain'd field he drops.
Priestly, in vain thy powers assail,
Nor can o'er Church or State prevail;
Nor can address upon address
Thy self-taught grievances redress.
Fashion, whatever form prevails,
Floats down the stream like tubs for whales;
The rights of men and heresy
Felo de se alike, must die:
And ev'n the dying Negro's prayer,
Impolitic, is spent in air.
Whatever is is right we find,
And hard to shake the settled mind.
Though shaken off the feudal yoke,
Beware, lest some convulsive stroke
Level the pile so lately rear'd,
And Tyranny be less than Discord fear'd.

Hail, happy Britain, fam'd in song,
May Heaven thy Sovereign's years prolong!
Truth, Freedom, Science, ever live,
And SYLVANUS URBAN long survive!
Dec. 31, 1791.