1730 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elijah Fenton

William Broome, "On the Death of my dear Friend, Mr. Elijah Fenton, 1730" in Broome, Poems (1739) 206-14.



As when the King of Peace, and Lord of Love,
Sends down some brighter Angel from above,
Pleas'd with the Beauties of the heav'nly Guest,
Awhile we view him in full Glory drest,
But he, impatient from his Heav'n to stay,
Soon disappears, and wings his airy Way;
So did'st thou vanish, eager to appear,
And shine triumphant in thy native Sphere.

Yet had'st thou all that Virtue can bestow,
All, the Good practise, and the Learned know;
Such holy Rapture, as not warms, but fires,
While the Soul seems retiring, or retires:
Such Transports, as those Saints in Vision share,
Who know not whether they are rapt thro' Air,
Or bring down Heav'n to meet them in a Pray'r.

O! early lost! yet stedfast to survey
Envy, Disease, and Death, without Dismay;
Serene, the Sting of Pain thy Thoughts beguile,
And make Afflictions, Objects of a Smile.
So the fam'd Patriarch, on his Couch of Stone
Enjoy'd bright Visions from th' eternal Throne.

Thus wean'd from Earth, where Pleasure scarce can please,
Thy Woes but hasten'd thee to Heav'n and Peace:
As angry Winds, when loud the Tempest roars,
More swiftly speed the Vessel to the Shores.

O! may these Lays a lasting Lustre shed
O'er thy dark Urn, like Lamps that grace the Dead!
Strong were thy Thoughts, yet Reason bore the Sway,
Humble, yet learn'd; tho' innocent, yet gay:
So pure of Heart, that thou might'st safely show
Thy inmost Bosom to thy basest Foe:
Careless of Wealth, thy Bliss a calm Retreat,
Far from the Insults of the scornful Great;
Thence looking with Disdain on proudest Things,
Thou deemed'st mean the Pageantry of Kings;
Who build their Pride on Trappings of a Throne,
A painted Ribband, or a glittering Stone,
Uselessly bright! 'twas thine the Soul to raise
To nobler Objects, such as Angels praise!
To live, to Mortals' empty Fame, a Foe;
And pity human Joy, and human Woe!
To view ev'n splendid Vice with gen'rous Hate,
In Life unblemish'd, and in Death sedate!
Then Conscience shining with a lenient Ray,
Dawn'd o'er thy Soul, and promis'd endless Day.
So from the setting Orb of Phoebus fly
Beams of calm Light, and glitter to the Sky.

Where now, O! where shall I true Friendship find
Among the treach'rous Race of base Mankind?
Whom, whom consult in all th'uncertain Ways
Of various Life, sincere to Blame, or Praise?
O! Friend! O! falling in thy Strength of Years,
Warm from the melting Soul receive these Tears!
O! Woods! O! Wilds! O! every bow'ry Shade!
So often vocal by his Music made,
Now other Sounds, — far other Sounds return,
And o'er his Herse with all your Echoes mourn!—
Yet dare we grieve that soon the Paths he trod
To Heav'n, and left vain Man for Saints and God?

Thus in the Theater the Scenes unfold
A thousand Wonders glorious to behold;
And here, or there, as the Machine extends,
A Hero rises, or a God descends:
But soon the momentary Pleasure flies,
Swift vanishes the God, or Hero dies.

Where were ye, Muses, by what Fountain side,
What River sporting when your Fav'rite dy'd?
He knew by Verse to chain the headlong Floods,
Silence loud Winds, or charm attentive Woods.
Nor deign'd but to high Themes to tune the String,
To such as Heav'n might hear, and Angels sing:
Unlike those Bards, who uninform'd to play,
Grate on their jarring Pipes a flashy Lay:
Each Line display'd united Strength and Ease,
Form'd like his Manners to instruct and please.

So Herbs of balmy Excellence produce
A blooming Flow'r, and salutary Juice:
And while each Plant a smiling Grace reveals,
Usefully gay! at once it charms, and heals.

Transcend ev'n after Death, ye Great, in Show,
Lend Pomp to Ashes, and be vain in Woe;
Hire Substitutes to mourn with formal Cries,
And bribe unwilling Drops from venal Eyes,
While here, Sincerity of Grief appears,
Silence that speaks, and Eloquence in Tears!

While tir'd of Life, we but consent to live
To show the World how really we grieve!
As some fond Sire, whose only Son lies dead,
All lost to Comfort makes the Dust his Bed:
Hangs o'er his Urn, with frantic Grief deplores,
And bathes his Clay-cold Cheek with copious Show'rs,
Such Heart-felt Pangs on thy sad Bier attend;
Companion! Brother! all in one — my Friend!
Unless the Soul, a Wound eternal bears,
Sighs are but Air, but common Water, Tears;
The Proud, relentless weep in State, and show
Not Sorrow, but Magnificence of Woe.

Thus in the Fountain, from the Sculptor's Hands,
With imitated Life an Image stands;
From rocky Entrails, thro' his stony Eyes,
The mimic Tears in Streams incessant rise;
Unconscious! while aloft the Waters flow
The Gazers Wonder, and a public Show.

Ye hallow'd Domes, his frequent Visits tell,
Thou Court, where God himself delights to dwell;
Thou mystic Table, and thou holy Feast,
How often have ye seen the sacred Guest!
How oft his Soul with heavenly Mannah fed!
His Faith enliven'd, while his Sin lay dead!
While list'ning Angels heard such Raptures rise,
As when they hymn th' Almighty charm the Skies?
But where, now where, without the Body's Aid,
New to the Heav'ns, subsists thy gentle Shade?
Glides it beyond our gross imperfect Sky,
Pleas'd high o'er Stars, from World to World to fly!
And fearless marks the Comet's dreadful Blaze,
While Monarchs quake, and trembling Nations gaze?
Or holds deep Converse with the mighty Dead,
Champions of Virtue, who for Virtue bled?
Or joins in Consort with Angelic Choirs,
Where hymning Seraphs sound their golden Lyres,
Where raptur'd Saints unfading Crowns inwreath,
Triumphant o'er the World, o'er Sin, and Death?
O! may the Thought his Friend's Devotion raise!
O! may he imitate, as well as praise!
Awake, my heavy Soul! and upward fly,
Speak to the Saint, and meet him in the Sky,
And ask the certain Way to rise as high.