1765 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Charles Churchill

Evan Lloyd, "On Mr. Churchill's Death" St. James's Chronicle (10 January 1765).



Unfeeling Witlings, who are all Out-side,
Bladders distended with low Wit, low Pride,
At each Event their brainy Pellets throw,
And must be merry at a World of Woe.
Such is the Game of silly Wit and Pride,
They crambo'd Epigrams, when Churchill died;
And taunting (Nature's Workings all unknown)
Exclaim'd, "What Churchill dead, and not one Groan!
A Tear from Phoebus, from each Muse a Verse,
Are the true 'Scutcheons of a Poet's Hearse."

Unheated Fops! how little do ye know
The genuine Marks of undissembled Woe!
How modest Nature, in her Hours of Grief!
To sigh in Silence is her dear Relief.—
On sad Occasions heavy is the Tongue,
Light are those Losses which are lightly sung:
Let but our Ministers (God bless 'em) die,
Why all the World shall sing, and so will I.

To Phoebus are the Days of Mourning come,
And ev'ry Maid of Castaly is dumb.
Their Bosom-fav'rite from their Bosom torn,
They Childless left their Absalom to mourn.
Cold is that Tongue, evaporate that Breath,
Which might almost disarm the Head of Death,
And teach him Mercy — but to him's denied
All Charm of Sound, or Churchill had not died.
Genius and Fancy weeping round his Tomb,
Water those Bays that will for ever bloom;
And Public-Spirit, in her Widow-weeds,
Sighs for her dauntless Son, and inward bleeds.
All who but love their Country, one and all,
Bewail that Country's Suffering in thy Fall.
And none, but those who England would destroy,
Smile thy Death — would they would die for Joy!

Gifted with Satire's wholesome Gall to heal
These fest'ring Ulcers of the Common-weal;
Thou, in full Midday-Splendour blazing round,
From many a noisome Vapour purg'd the Ground:
But since the Setting of thy radiant Muse,
A thousand pestilential wicked Dews,
Than those which Sycorax collects more vile,
When she would holy Innocence defile,
With baleful Influence poison'd half the Isle.

The troop of Ills that trample on the Earth
With bolder Hoof (thou gone) proclaim thy Worth.
"Satire now throws her Arrows on the Ground,"
If Churchill could not cure, 'tis vain to wound;
Freer the Thane may now make England bleed,
And with her Offals feed the famish'd Tweed:
Now Ministry spur on the Steed of Pow'r,
And fly with greater Swiftness to devour.
Dependent Bards, afraid of being free,
Put in their Right to vile Dependency:
Spaniel the Heels of some rich booby Drone,
And as his Spaniels, claim his mumbled Bone.
Now Strumpet Vice that play'd the modest Whore,
Strips off the Mask she wore for Fear before:
The dogs of Sodom to their Vomit run,
And act their Beastliness before the Sun.

The Muse must weep — though thou forbad'st a Tear
To play the Woman o'er thy sacred Bier:
'Tis for her Country these hot Tears are shed,
Who love their Country, must lament thee dead.
—But for thyself, sweet Seraph of the Lyre,
A friendly Joy sets all my Soul on Fire,
To see thy Spirit mingling with the Blest,
And, where they all are good, to see the best
Patriots and Poets greet thee; in the Band
Foremost see Legge and Shakespear take thy Hand:
While the illustrious Host of Spirits praise
All thy warm Virtues, and thy Faults erase.
Dryden shall bare his Brow to circle thine,
And his own Wreath around thy Head entwine.
And Pope (if Envy pass the Styx) shall pay
The Praise of Envy to thy nobler Lay:
The Pride of Juvenal shall bow to thee,
And Horace own you laugh as well as he;
Butler and Swift shall run quite out of Breath,
Hoping your Ghost is well e'en after Death.
Prior, with graceful Ease, shall glide to know
If Lloyd, your Friend, and his, be well below:
—"Blest be your Greetings!" and if it be giv'n,
To have some Intercourse 'twixt Earth and Heav'n,
Vouchsafe to look on Mortals now and then,
And let thy Genius guide some Patriot Pen,
Thy Spirit urge that Patriot Pen to draw,
And keep the Ministers of Vice in Awe!

—Mean while the Sons of Genius that survive,
Shall keep the Cause of Liberty alive.
Thornton shall gibbet Vice in Humour's Page,
And Colman stigmatise her on the Stage;
Lloyd shall be free, and freer still his Pen,
To pierce the Sides of Vice and vicious Men;
Shall whip Corruption with the Lash of Truth,
And Curre shall bite her with avenging Tooth;
While Reed and I, who have no Verse, have Feet,
To kick the Gypsey wheedling in the Street;
No Catholics to pray for parted Souls,
We yet remember Churchill in our Bowls.