1816 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Nichols

Edward Thurlow, "To Mr. Urban" Gentleman's Magazine 86 (before part ii, 1816) ii.



Now Spring has danc'd upon the budding meads,
And full-blown Summer led the graceful quires,
Vine-crowned Autumn tun'd the joyous reeds,
And limping Winter lights our house-hold fires.

What grateful custom asks, we gladly pay,
And follow Johnson in his Latian song:
If yet the Latian Muses keep away,
To English toil let English Verse belong.

Verse, that can nourish Children's budding hope,
Instruct the flowering Youth in Virtue's road,
Teach Manhood with disastrous fate to cope,
And please the honour'd Age, and light its load.

Such Verse, as is to Urban justly dear;
Urban who follows Phoebus in his course;
Who wakes the rising, charms the closing year,
With knowledge, that from truth derives its source.

Urban, who holds the keys of Learning's gate,
And duly opes, with each succeeding moon,
The sacred temple; never found too late,
And never judg'd by thirsty minds too soon.

Where all may drink of Wisdom's limpid stream,
The shepherd, and the man whose gifts are more:
This fountain is for all: a liberal theme
Of honest praise: and ever-flowing store.

Such works as Urban's, read in cottages,
With innocent delight instruct the mind:
Such works as Urban's, read in palaces,
Touch with a pure delight the more refin'd.

For there the Muses in full concord sing,
Not seldom, to the poor and wealthy throng:
Ah! when shall Time that happy aera bring,
When Kings and Shepherds list alike the song?

O, for a golden verse, to bless the heads,
That open to the poor the sacred book!
That guide the tender age, that feebly treads,
And tempt it on the holy page to look!

These are the deeds, which Angels love to see!
These are the men, whom Angels love to crown!
The blazing gates of Immortality
Fly ope, and Hallelujahs echo down:

By these communion is with Heaven made;
These holy men lift up to Heaven our state;
These are the salt of earth; and, being weigh'd,
Shall find a palm and crown, that lacketh date.

But not for me to sing their sacred praise:
Thou, Urban, art among this holy quire:
Thou lovest all upon good books to gaze,
And with pure truth to satisfy desire.

The Muses weave a wreath, and weaving sing,
Of laurels, that in wintry gardens shine;
And every verdant branch of beauty bring,
And me they choose to make that garland thine.

If then, Respected Sir, some leaves you see,
Which the lamenting Muse hath interwove,
Yet are they leaves of immortality,
Though softly pluck'd within a mournful grove:

Cypress, that never fades; to speak of those,
Whose pure fulfilled years with bliss are crown'd,
And earthly grief, for e'en the pure have woes,
With everlasting psalms and harpings drown'd;

Standing before the sempiternal throne,
The children of most blessed light and love;
Whose virtues shall again become thine own,
Beyond the power of Fate, or Time to move.

These words the Muses bade me gently speak;
Bade me their verdant laurel to present—
Above all Roman fame, above all Greek,
Virtue alone is perfect argument.
Laeken, near Brussels,
Dec. 17, 1816.