1786 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Hugh Blair

Anonymous, "Lines in Defence of Dr. Blair addressed to the Writer of the Memoirs of that Gentleman" General Evening Post (24 August 1786).



Sure some low motive did your soul possess,
When first you strove his Merit to depress,
Or such dire rancour never could infest
A man of candour, or a human breast.
I know not Blair — his Sermons, I have read,
Oft have they warm'd my heart, form'd my head,
Those hopes inspir'd that give to Virtue peace,
And made my love to God and man encrease.
You say that friv'lous minds a Blair may please,
And claims regard from none but such as these.
"To strike thee dumb," attend what's said by Horn,
Learning and elegance his mind adorn;
Nay adds, by fine, by generous feelings led,
That Blair had much-deservedly been read;
That great respect his Sermons gain'd was true,
But can't be greater than is justly due.
Horn, who to ancient Oxford adds a grace,
And, as an author, holds and honour'd place.
To Cambridge, fam'd, next your attention turn,
There you may still his well-tim'd praises learn,
From him, who late on composition, wrote,
And mark'd his merit with discerning thought.
Should these conviction fail from you to draw,
Direct your thoughts from churchmen to the law;
Mansfield, with piercing eyes, on merit keen,
'Tis said, first read them to our virtuous Queen.
Struck with such thoughts congenial to his own,
He thus convey'd them to the British throne.
Blair's sterling sence, his eloquence, his ease,
His manly piety, were sure to please.
Love for the man such writings must impart,
To every feeling, ev'ry virtuous heart.
'Twas thus, imprest with worth, the Royal Pair
Resolv'd such merit should their bounty share.
Had pious Blair to England's church been bred,
His parts to highest honours might have led;
Instead of which, they little favours drew,
That so much envy now excite in you.
Blair's piety you own, but with a sneer,
That shews but little in your heart I fear;
Or surely such worth you never could describe
As being laugh'd at by a witling tribe;
Nor check his noble efforts to reclaim
The proud, the base, the wicked, and profane.
Could you once banish impious thoughts, your breast,
You sure then for Blair would find a taste,
And relish sermons, which the good admire,
That generous thoughts and happy views inspire.
If not, I venture to pronounce your doom,
You'll die — bewilder'd with your favourite Hume!