1800 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Joseph Warton

William Lipscomb, "Elegy written and spoken by Mr. Lipscomb ... a Praepostor of Winchester School" 1800; Chalmers's Works of the English Poets (1810) 18:156.



The noon-tide hour is past, and toil is o'er,
No studious cares the vacant mind employ,
Yet hark! methinks no longer as before
Yon mead re-echoes the loud shouts of joy.

What sudden grief hath seiz'd the youthful band!
Say, Wykeham's sons, why reigns this silence round?
Why do ye thus in mute attention stand,
And listen to the death-bell's awful sound!

Ask ye the cause? 'tis Warton's knell; and lo!
The funeral train appears in black array!
Down yonder hill in solemn steps and slow
The hearse winds on its melancholy way.

Led by affection the sad sight to view,
The thronging youth suspend their wonted play;
All crowd around, to bid a last adieu,
Or, lost in thoughtful musings, steal away.

Yes, holy shade! for thee these tears are shed
The sullen death-bell's ling'ring pause between,
For thee o'er all a pious calm is spread,
And hush'd the murmurs of this playful scene.

O name to Wykeham's sons for ever dear,
While thus for thee the flood of tears we pour,
Thy partial spirit seems to linger here,
Blessing awhile the scenes it lov'd before.

Within these walls, to ev'ry duty true,
Twas thine to form the studious wind of youth,
To ope the fane of glory to their view,
And point the way to science and to truth.

And lo! the plants that grew beneath thy care
Now in matured age majestic stand,
And spread their clust'ring branches to the air,
And stretch their shadow o'er a smiling land.

Youth may forget this transitory tear,
But manhood feels a deeper sense of woe—
And sure thy name to them is doubly dear
Who to thy care their ripen'd honours owe.

They heard th' inciting dictates of thy tongue,
For thou could'st smooth the way thro' learning's maze,
Oft on thy words in dumb attention hung
Till emulation kindled at thy praise.

O mark their grief, e'en now in tender hues,
By mem'ry trac'd, their days of youth return;
But ah! fond mem'ry ev'ry pang renews,
And points with speechless sorrow to thine urn.

So stream their tears: but thou art thron'd on high,
Haply the seraphs' hallow'd choir among,
Lull'd by soft sounds of sweetest minstrelsy,
While Wykeham listens and approves the song.

O for a spark of that celestial fire
With which bright fancy warm'd thy kindling soul!
When erst the full chords of thy living lyre
Held all the list'ning passions in controul.

Alas! tho' vain the wish, tho' weak the lay
That feebly celebrates a Warton's name,
Yet, happy shade! there still remains a way
To raise a lasting monument of fame.

Be ours the virtues thy example taught
To feel, preserve, and practise, while we live;
Thus only can we praise thee as we ought,
The noblest tribute this thy sons can give.

Lo! when Affection at the close of eve
To yonder fane's dim cloysters shall repair,
No more with fruitless anguish shall she grieve,
But learn the lessons of true wisdom there.

There, while she sees thy sculptur'd bust arise,
Rais'd by the hand of gratitude and love,
Virtue shall consecrate her tend'rest sighs,
And thoughts exalted her rapt spirit move.

Then Wykeham's sons, with ardour new imprest,
Shall breathe one pray'r — that such their lot may be;
Prais'd by the wise and good, to sink to rest,
And mourn'd by tears, such as they shed for thee.