1754 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Jeffreys

James Marriott, "Verses to the Author" Jeffreys, Miscellanies (1754) xv-xvii.



And lives there still of verse that lofty rage,
Whose holy raptures fir'd the former age!
Rise from your urns, ye laurel'd dead, arise;
O here direct your steps, here turn your eyes,
See still in vig'rous strength, and green in years,
The last, nor meanest of your train, appears.

But chief, ye British Ghosts of warriors slain,
In death victorious, on Ramillia's plain!
Invok'd, O hear! and thou, departed shade
Of mighty Marlbro', lift thy honour'd head.
Still breathes the bard, who sung your glorious deeds;
Still in her verse Bavaria, vanquish'd, bleeds:
By time unfaded, there your chaplets bloom,
And high-suspended trophies deck your tomb.
Again I see your standards wave in air,
Again your trumpets wake the slumb'ring war;
The hills, the vales, the dreadful notes reboun,
And Gallia's lillies wither at the sound.

Say, shall we sigh o'er Gloucester's sable bier?
Or o'er thy coarse, Constantia, drop the tear?
Say, shall we melt with love, or glow with rage,
While treads, in sweeping robes, her lofty stage
The buskin'd Muse? — methinks we hear again
The sounding numbers of a Dryden's strain.

Nor does the Muse alone her wreaths bestow,
But list'ning Camus heard thy periods flow
Smooth and majestic; when his peaceful vale,
Of distant triumphs heard the glorious tale;
How round the globe were Britain's thunders hurl'd,
And conqu'ring Anna held the balanc'd world.
Rome's rev'rend fathers, silent in applause,
Of old thus stood, when, in his country's cause,
Thee, furious Cataline, their Tully brav'd,
And, without arms, the nodding empire sav'd.

These were the boast of youth. — With rapid pace
Now hoary Time has urg'd life's lenghten'd race;
But still superior stands thy lofty soul,
Uncheck'd, unhurt, and presses to the goal.
Still warms its influence, and still bright its blaze;
As in the vernal sky, at evening's close,
Sets fair; for fair thy morning genius rose.

Strong as the theme they pain, thy vary'd lays
With recent honours crown thy later days.
And well may Truth with holy charms engage
The serious pen of moralizing age.
Thy latest numbers well HER beauties claim,
Who now with endless wreaths adorns thy fame:
Whose hand with flow'rs thy future urn shall spread,
Attends thee living, and awaits thee dead.

Not that thy Muse could once, in brighter days,
Boast the fair friendship of the sons of praise;
And mix with strength the happier grace of ease;
But, that thy modest, and thy generous mind,
To fate superior, as to fate resign'd,
Adown life's stream, to fortune's varying gale,
Content, and humble, spread an even sail;
That 'mid the great receiv'd, in leisure bred,
Yet was thy life in blameless morals led;
That, arm'd with wit, unknowning to offend,
To learned worth, to Virtue's cause, a friend;
Backward to hope, what well desert might claim,
Thy heart disdain'd to push for wealth or fame;
To all, thy kind, thy boundless friendship shown;
To none thy merit, but thyself, unknown.
Trinity-Hall,
Cambridge.