1802 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Nichols

Henry Lemoine, "To Sylvanus Urban, on his finishing the Seventy-Second Volume of the Magazine" Gentleman's Magazine 72 (front-matter, 1802) ii.



Admonish'd by the solemn, changeful year,
URBAN beholds again the jovial chear
That Christmas with his witty gambols brings,
And carol grave in every corner rings;
While, sage observant of the passing hour,
His page records the acts of human power;
Whether of public or of private schemes,
Remote Antiquities or modern Dreams;
For all alike by URBAN are convey'd,
And duly for the public good display'd
With classic grace in his historic page—
Where Truth, unfolding to the studious mind,
Explores the rudiments of human-kind—
Their states and rising arts, or patriots noble rage;
Then converse with the mighty dead, who rais'd
So high the British arms and British name;
Who, greatly struggling, nurs'd the virtuous flame
Which bless'd the State, and o'er the world has blaz'd.

Thrice happy who thus wisely chear the gloom
Of helpless Nature, — while, delighted, high
They court the Muses' shrine, and pleas'd descry
Fair heav'n-born Truth their darkness to illume.
Be others' task to brave the raging flood,
To climb the tottering, giddy heights of state,
Or, wildly bursting from a vulgar fate,
Invade their neighbours' right, and plunge in civil blood.
Superior to this Folly's fervid strife,
'Tis thine to harmonize and polish life;
With index-hand to guide us through the maze
Of winding arts; and thine the well-earn'd praise
Of regist'ring our friends' distinguish'd claims—
Recording noble, great, and learned names.

Indulgent Heaven has heard the general voice,
And injur'd Nations may again rejoice;
The purple scene of carnage now hath clos'd,
Although by sons of Belial long oppos'd;
BRITANNIA still, the injur'd, great, and good,
Who many a stubborn storm for ages stood,
Reclin'd in peace, and shall, for endless time,
Defy the threats to force from prose or rhyme,
Of generous speech, the power of awing crime.
The admiration of the wond'ring world,
Her swelling sails in every clime unfurl'd.
And now shall she, to shrink before unknown,
Stoop from her sea-girt, adamantine throne;
Throw to capacious Tyrants of the globe
Her precious privilege, of Freedom's robe;
Or, in a hapless moment of fall'n pride,
Imbrue her hands in fatal suicide?
Forbid it, gracious Heaven! Ye patriot band,
Ne'er by self-interested Vice unmann'd,
Firm in resolve, be stedfast as you may,
SUPPORT THE TRUTH, the COMPASS of the day:
So shall your little Island in the Sea
Remain the Rock of Freedom to the Free.

Father of Heaven and Earth, who bade the light
Of radiant Truth spring from thy sovereign mind,
Rise on the dark abodes of human-kind,
The shades of Ignorance chase, as morn dispels the night.
O teach us, rais'd, the noblest use of life,
To follow where thy wisdom points the way
To public happiness, immortal day;
And teach us now, superior, to despise
Whatever Vice appears in Virtue's guise;
Of torpid Indolence to burst the chain;
Help us to shun gay Pleasure's tempting train,
To use our noblest gift of Freedom's lore,
As Foreign Nations shall their want deplore;
From admiration to devotion rise,
At blessings which our present state supplies,
That, bless'd with conscious purity of heart,
Britons may chuse the happy, "better part."
Array'd in THIS, may we undaunted rise
Amid the falling orbs and opening skies!
Improve, O man, the current of thy days!
To resignation sacred; for the gleam
Of life shall vanish like a troubled dream,
And Heaven's bright sunshine burst with pure unclouded rays!
Dec. 31, 1802.