1719 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Nicholas Rowe

Nicholas Amhurst, "On the Death of Mr. Rowe, Esq." Musarum Lachrymae: or Poems to the Memory of Nicholas Rowe (1719) 22-30.



Farewel, the Genius of the British Stage,
Farewel, the Patriot of a madding Age;
O ROWE! unhappy deathless Bard, farewel,
Whose Worth applauding Theatres shall tell;
Oft as thy Heroes on the Stage appear,
Each Eye to Thee shall drop a grateful Tear;
Shouts to thy Name each grateful Voice shall raise,
And clapping Crowds in Thunder speak thy Praise.

Too cruel Death! that would no longer spare
This great Recorder of the Brave and Fair;
That in one dreadful Instant snatch'd from hence
The best good Nature, and the finest Sense:
Too cruel Death! that cou'd refuse to save
Him, that has resuc'd Thousands from the Grave;
Him that to latest Worlds conveys the Fame
Of TAMERLANE and great ULYSSES' Name;
At whose Command departed Saints revive,
And in his moving Scenes for ever live,
Past Times return, and from the moulder'd Tomb
Rise up the mighty Chiefs of Greece and Rome:
Their ancient Legions rally on the Plain,
And act their former Triumphs o'er again.
Touch'd with his powerful Magick, we deplore
The Beauteous Penitent, and Guilty SHORE.
GRAY, to appease the Wrath of human Laws,
Bleeds, a Fair Martyr, in her SAVIOUR'S Cause;
Undaunted bleeds, and by his matchless Art,
The fatal Blow wounds ev'ry British Heart.
We mourn with beating Breasts the greedy Stroke,
And yield reluctant to the Romish Yoke:
Of Idols now succeeds a motly Band,
And Popery pours in upon the Land;
Rage, Superstition, Massacre and Blood,
Come arm'd from Hell against the Publick Good:
Zeal sets on Fire the holy Smithfield Pile,
And Priestcraft rages thro' the trembling Isle.

Well has our Loyal Poet set to view
This direful Scene, this wonder-working Crew,
A bloody Tribe of persecuting Elves,
That weakly damn all Christians but themselves:
His generous Soul disdain'd that vain Pretence,
So shocking to the Gospel, and the Sense;
And in his Scenes the graceful Marks appear
Of Christian Freedom, and of Christian Fear.

Firm to the noble Cause which fir'd his Mind,
He never to a Popish Scheme inclin'd;
Nor sought the Favours of a Tyburn Crowd,
Whose perjur'd Hearts to foreign Gods have bow'd;
He judg'd it always an inglorious thing
To court their Praises who defam'd their KING;
Enough for him that CONGREVE was his Friend,
That GARTH and STEELE, and ADDISON commend;
That BRUNSWICK with the Bays his Temples bound,
And PARKER with Immortal Honours crown'd.

Great LUCAN now, by his unwearied Pains,
Breaths Roman Liberty in English Strains;
Dying, this wealthy Pledge He left behind,
The truest Pattern of his Free-born Mind:
Four times four Ages this heroick Song
Has lain, unlabour'd from its native Tongue,
Which now translated with its genuine Fire,
Shall noble Thoughts of Liberty inspire;
Convince the Bigot of the weighty Truth,
And free from passive Chains the British Youth:
Too long the useful Work has been delay'd,
But well that seeming Ill is now repaid:
Heav'n but defer'd to make it more compleat,
Not ev'ry Bard the glorious Theme could treat;
Not ev'ry Bard, that in mechanick Verse
Can a dull Love-Tale fluently rehearse,
And can in lifeless, jingling Lines complain
Of the false Nymph, or the forsaken Swain:
Vigour of Style, and Fancy must combine,
With Majesty of Rage, and Power divine,
To make the English like the Roman shine.
Such must he be, as LUCAN was of old,
His Figures strong, and his Expressions bold.
With the same constant Love of Freedom charm'd,
With the same Passion for his Country warm'd,
Whose Veins with one unvary'd Tenour flow,
Zealous and active, like Immortal ROWE.

At length, ye Sons of Servitude, awake,
And from your Necks the selfish Burthen shake;
Nor blindly, nor disdainfully refuse
This last great Labour of the Laurell'd Muse;
Pay the just Honours to his sacred Head,
Nor, whom you envy'd Living, envy Dead:
Against the Dead all Violences cease,
Great CHAUCER now, and SHAKESPEAR rest in Peace;
DRYDEN no more the impious World upbraids,
And MILTON slumbers in the silent Shades.

Thou too, thrice honour'd, in that ancient Dome,
Where soon or late our British Laureats come;
Where the fam'd Poets of three Ages lie,
And to their Tombs invite the curious Eye,
Where great NEWCASTLE, still to Wit a Friend,
To DRYDEN bids the stately Pile ascend;
(Immortal, glorious Deed! which After-times
Shall celebrate in their exalted Rhimes,)
Amongst thy Kindred Bards thy Bones shalt trust,
And mix in Quiet with Poetick Dust;
There no feign'd Dangers shall alarm thy Breast,
No factious murmurs interrupt thy Rest;
Banish'd shall be all Noise of worldly things,
Of warring Armies, and contending Kings;
The groundless Clamours of th' ambitious Gown,
And ALBERONI'S Crimes shall be unknown,
Pain, Loss and Sorrow, shall be far away,
Clasp'd in th' Embraces of thy native Clay,
'Till the last welcome Trump shall bid you Rise,
And cloath'd with Glory you ascend the opening Skies.