1720 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Mitchell

John Calender, "An Epistle to Mr. M—l" The Edinburgh Miscellany (1720) 116-18.



To thee, dear Friend, who prun'd my flutt'ring Wing,
Inspir'd my Muse, and taught me how to sing,
I send these Lines to hail you safe return'd
To Town, where I have long your Absence mourn'd.
Forgive the Rudeness of a beardless Bard,
And more my Meaning, than my Strains, regard.
Much have I suffer'd by your tedious Stay
In rural Scenes, in Summer only gay.
Enough hast thou delighted in the Plains,
And try'd the Lays of the Sicillian Swains.
To Pastorals bid now a long Farewell,
And in Edina love, with us, to dwell.
No more, with Flocks consume thy fleeting Hours,
But soar above the Shepherds and their Bow'rs,
To nobler Heights on lofty Themes arise,
Nor think it Labour that may gain the Prize.

So mighty Maro, on the Mantuan Plains,
First sweetly carol'd with the rural Swains,
Than soar'd in Epick, and obtain'd the Bays
So well deserv'd by his immortal Lays.

Had I your Genius, M—l, and your Skill,
(But Strength's not always measur'd to our Will,)
Soon shou'd the Muses in our Isle revive,
And at their ancient Character arrive.
Diversion, shou'd not be my End in Verse,
As ah! 'tis yours too much, when you rehearse.
My Country's Good I'd eagerly pursue,
And think my Pains a real Pleasure too.
But I am young! my Muse is in her Spring,
And only yet her grateful Lines can bring
To thee, from whom her Inspiration came,
To whom she owes her Being, and her Fame.
Yet, with my Years, my Vigour may increase,
And better Verse a Genius may confess,
That's fit to write, and able for the Press.
A Youth may grow a well accomplish'd Man:
Yea, ev'ry Poet at some Time began.
Clap but my Cheek, it will afford Delight,
And when I err, but set me in the right;
Approve at first my criminal Essays,
And, with good Words, correct my Infant Lays;
Perhaps my Blossoms may arrive at Fruit,
And I may write what my your Judgment suit.
Before I die (if Fates preserve me long)
Men may be pleas'd with my inspired Song.

So tender Hounds, unable for the Prey,
Unfit for Game, may grow another Day:
When Limbs are strong and nimble for the Sport,
To Hills and Dales they'll eagerly resort,
With open Mouth, the trembling Hare pursue,
And give Delight to the beholding Crew.