1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Graves

William Meyler, "A Tributary Poem to the Memory of the Rev. Richard Graves, A.M. and Christopher Anstey, Esq. inscribed to H. Harington, M.D." Meyler, Poetical Amusement on the Journey of Life (1806) 198-204.



Let honest Truth its secret joys express!
It yields me pride and pleasure to confess
The THREE best men this city ever knew,
Profound in learning, and of genius true,
I call'd my friends — they listen'd to my lays,
Errors descried, yet gave their meed of praise.
Two, full of years as full of wit and worth,
Have bent their valued forms to mother earth;
Within a few short months "have sought that bourn,
Whence," cries the Bard, "no travellers return."
Mirth-loving ANSTEY, and that hoary wight
Who made the Quixote's pious zeal delight;
Inspired pair! ye were my friends sincere,
'Tis meet I shed my sorrows o'er your bier.
And thou, good HARINGTON, whose very name
Gives life and lustre to the Muse's flame,
Dear, much respected sage! whose varied worth
Call'd oft my strains of admiration forth;
Whose genius, spreading with elastic band,
Grasps the whole train of Science in thy hand:
Whether celestial HARMONY inspire
Thy soul with Handel's more than mortal fire;
Or sweetest POESY attune thy mind
With lays correct, as brilliant as refined;
Or deep research thy studious mind engage,
By NEWTON led o'er EUCLID'S mystic page;
Exploring all the labyrinths and cells,
Where mild Philosophy with Science dwells,
Oh! join with me o'er GRAVES' and ANSTEY'S bier,
Bind the sad wreath, and drop the grateful tear!
O'er the green turf the solemn dirge shall flow,
Inspired by Friendship, and inscribed to Woe;
Faintly I strive to register their praise,
In strains resembling their own dulcet lays—

Ye woods of CLA'RTON! once my pride
To tread your shades among,
To hear your waters murm'ring glide,
And frame my artless song,

The feather'd tribe invited here
By SHENSTONE'S classic friend,
Appear'd in strains divinely clear,
Their gratitude to blend.

Here oft, with step like school-boy young,
Though crown'd with ninety years,
The worthy Priest has to me sprung,
And gave me welcome cheers.—

I lately traced the well-known vale,
And lean'd the stile upon;
The hoary Woodman told his tale—
Our friend alas! is gone!

"A few weeks since I saw him borne
To yonder chancel's side;
My heart with bitt'rest grief was torn,
And all the village cried.

"He was the joy of ev'ry breast;
And though wise folks agree
Deep stores of learning he possess'd,
No pride or pomp had he.

"Oft on a summer's eve he sat
On stump of yonder oak,
And listen'd to my homely chat,
And bore my rustic joke.

"But he is gone, and with him's flown
Each blessing of this vale—
You sigh — and by your sorrows own—
How true the Woodman's tale.

"Oh! I have seen the infant train
Around their pastor flock,
His smiles all eager to obtain,
Or share his fruit-trees' stock.

"He praised fair industry and truth,
Shew'd life's uncertain span;
And bade each blooming village Ruth
Beware of treach'rous man.

"Methinks since he our fields has left,
The birds forget their strain;
And Hampton's richly vocal clift
Looks sullen o'er the plain;

"And Warley's woods and verdant meads,
So beauteous heretofore,
Seem fields forsook, and dreary shades—
They charm my sight no more.

"The great, the learn'd, no more in crowds
For us the city quit,
Since yonder chancel's side enshrouds
Age, genius, worth, and wit."

Thus spake "the sad Historian" of the wood,
Whose sinews firm some fourscore years had stood
The summer's heat, and winter's drifted snow,
But now seem'd shrunk by more than common woe—
Such accents warm a feeling mind bespeak,
True as the tear that wets the furrow'd cheek;
Above all pomp of grief, or blazing pyres,
Give me the sigh that gratitude inspires:
The bosom-tomb which honest rustics raise,
Shames the proud urn and monumental phrase;
Transcends the marble's boast, and chissel's art,
Sinking th' inscription deeply on the heart.

And now, my kind Mentor, ingenuous Friend,
O'er the grave of our ANSTEY let's mournfully bend—
How oft have I heard partial friendship complain
That genius, like ANSTEY'S, so long should have lain
Unwept by a Muse — who with early regard
Devoted a lay to her idolized Bard.
Come then, Oh! ye Muses, who aided his verse,
Come, weave the sad chaplet to hang o'er his hearse;
Come, in Sorrow's soft cadence my finger inspire,
To touch with sweet murmurs the strings of his lyre.
What ease and what beauty embellish'd his strain!
'Twas Satire supported by Humour's rich vein:
Around him the arrows of Ridicule flew,
And pierced with their barbs Folly's tittering crew.
His genius first led him those paths to explore
Which footstep poetic ne'er traversed before:
'Twas his, with true fancy, the medium to hit,
Of learning profound, and of elegant wit;
To raise at his pleasure the smile or the sigh,
To cheer the sunk spirits, or moisten the eye.
But virtues domestic excell'd e'en the fame
Which Merit long since had inscribed to his name,
He sought the low hut where Calamity press'd,
Taught Charity's hand to relieve the distress'd;
And, such is the force that pure models inspire,
Rear'd a numerous race, full of worth as their sire;
Whilst ONE, by a blessing most bounteously given,
His genius inhaled as it wafted to Heaven;
And now is preserving, with filial regard,
The gems of BATHONIA'S long-favorite Bard,
To hand down, in splendor, to far remote days,
The effulgence of fancy-the charms of his lays!

And may some trusty hand, with equal zeal,
Thy gems, good DOCTOR, from oblivion steal!
When hoary Time, with never-erring pace,
Lays thee aside thy long renowned race.
But far, far distant be that fatal day!
Thou still can'st charm us with effusions gay;
Of dire disease still dissipate the gloom,
Still snatch the sinking victim from the tomb;
Still calmly from the legal bench apply
The sentence mild, that bids contention die;
Still rich in Nature's gifts prolong thy days,
The constant object of regard and praise!