1759 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Joseph Spence

Thomas Blacklock, "To the Rev. Mr. Spence" 1759; Poems (1793) 188-89.



To tomes of dull theology confin'd,
(Eternal opiates of the active mind)
Long lay my spirits, lull'd in deep repose,
Incapable alike of verse or prose.
Unmark'd by thought or action, every day
Appear'd, and pass'd in apathy away.

Our friend, the Doctor, view'd with deep regret,
My sad catastrophe, my lifeless state;
Explor'd each ancient sage, whose labours tell
The force of powerful herb, or magic spell.
Physic in vain its boasted influence try'd;
My stupor incantation's voice defy'd:
No charm could light my fancy's languid flame,
No charm but friendship's voice and Spence's name.
So from the cold embraces of the tomb,
Involv'd in deep impenetrable gloom,
Should heav'n's great mandate bid some wretch arise,
How would he view the sun with ravish'd eyes;
Admire each part of nature's beauteous scene,
And welcome life and happiness again!
Amaz'd the Doctor stood, and lost in thought,
Nor could believe the wonder he had wrought;
Till, fir'd at last with sacerdotal pride,
"'Tis mine; — the work is all my own," he cried.
"Henceforth some nobler task my might shall prove,
I mean some lofty mountain to remove,
With woods and fountains bid it wing its way
Thro' yielding air and settle in the sea."
But recollecting, whence the virtue flow'd
To which returning life and sense I ow'd,
He snatch'd his pen, and with majestic tone;
"Hence Indolence and Sloth," he cry'd, "be gone;
Me Friendship's spirit, Spence's name inspire,
My heart is pregnant, and my soul on fire;
Thought crowds on thought, my brisk ideas flow,
And much I long to tell, and much to know."

Thus exorcis'd, to Lethe's dismal shore
Fled Indolence, and sought her haunts of yore,
With all her train forsook the poet's breast,
And left the man completely dispossess'd.
If to your very name, by bounteous heav'n,
Such blest, restoring influence has been giv'n,
How must your sweet approach, your aspect kind,
Your soul-reviving converse, warm the mind!