1740 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Isaac Watts

J. W., "The the Rev. Dr. Watts on his Publication of Mrs. Rowe's Devout Exercises of the Heart" Gentleman's Magazine 10 (August 1740) 410.



To thee, the humblest, wisest, best of men,
The last, dear relicks of her matchless pen
Immortal Rowe, whose fame unspotted shines,
Mov'd by thy judgment and thy worth, consigns.
And lo! by thee revis'd, the work appears,
The bless'd memorial of her pious years!
What strains devout! how much the sacred page
Shames the loose conduct of an impious age,
Where vice, in robes of honour glaring, reigns,
Nor ought of solid piety remains.
Here, still preserv'd, her generous thoughts we find,
Here still we trace the progress of her mind,
That maind, so great that scorn'd to be confin'd
To earth's dull scenes, with nobler joys refin'd.

O say, if thou her wond'rous mind cou'dst scan,
Sure something more than woman — more than man,
What heav'nly raptures the dull clay inspir'd,
What transports rais'd her when devotion fir'd!
Behold her rise! to worlds of glory soar,
And all the beauties of the skies explore!
Now rapt'rous mount beyond the solar way,
And paint the glories of celestial day,
Unfold the scenes of heav'n to mortal eyes,
And half display the wonders of the skies.

How out that glorious truth her pen cou'd move,
The wond'rous myst'ry of redeeming love;
Now pleas'd she views, with joy and wonder mix'd,
Ere yet the confines of the world were fix'd,
Ere time began, the sacred plan design'd
In the great volume of th' eternal mind;
Her extasies beyond expression rise,
And silent meditations reach the skies.

Ah! weep ye virgins, and ye matrons mourn
Your sex's guide thro' ages yet unborn;
O keep the glorious pattern still in view,
Let the bright saint for ever live in you.
'Twas her's, with elegance of thought refin'd,
T' inculcate virtue, and sublime the mind,
To paint those scenes where endless pleasures rise,
And point the fair one to th' immortal prize.

O much-experienc'd WATTS! who well can'st tell,
What feels the breast that holy raptures swell,
Had she a lingering disease but known,
Nor, favour'd with her pray'r, so sudden flown,
Had she with gradual anguishment been try'd,
And calm and peaceful as Burissa dy'd,
What Muse but thine cou'd sing, or numbers paint
The joys extatic of the expiring saint,
And, while just marching off the verge of life,
And feeble lungs prolong the mortal strife,
With what serenity her moments roll,
What blissful prospects open to her soul;
But sudden see the tyrant hurls his dart,
And instant pangs assault the mortal part,
Prostrate she falls to earth, he spirit dies,
And mounts exulting to her native skies.