1759 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bp. Robert Lowth

William Whitehead, "Verses to Dr. Lowth, on his second Edition of the Life of William of Wykeham" London Chronicle (2 June 1759) 423.



O Lowth, whilst Wykeham's various worth you trace,
And bid to distant times his annals shine,
Indulge another bard of Wykeham's race
In the fond wish to add his name to thine.

From the same fount, with rev'rence let me boast,
The classic streams with early thirst I caught;
What time, they say, the muses revel'd most,
When Bigg presided, and when Burton taught.

But the same fate, which led me to the spring,
Forbad me farther to pursue the stream;
Perhaps as kindly; for, as sages sing,
Of chance and fate full idly do we deem.

And sure in Granta's philosophic shade
Truth's genuine image beam'd upon my sight;
And slow-ey'd reason lent her sober aid
To form, deduce, compare, and judge aright.

Yet, ye sweet fields, beside your osier'd stream
Full many an attic hour my youth enjoy'd,
Full many a friendship form'd life's happiest dream,
And treasur'd many a bliss which never cloy'd.

Yet may the pilgrim, o'er his temp'rate fare
At eve, with pleasing recollection say,
'Twas the fresh morn which strung his nerves to bear
The piercing beam, and useful tolls of day:

So let me still with filial love pursue
The nurse and parent of my infant thought,
From whence the colour of my life I drew
When Bigg presided, and when Burton taught.

O names by me rever'd! — till mem'ry die,
Till my deaf ear forget th' inchanting flow
Of verse harmonious, shall my mental eye
Trace back old time, and teach my breast to glow.

Peace to that honour'd shade, whose mortal frame
Sleeps in the bosom of its parent earth;
Whilst the free soul, that boasts celestial flame,
Perhaps now triumphs in a nobler birth.

Perhaps with Wykeham, from some blissful bower,
Applauds thy labours; or prepares the wreath
For Burton's generous toil. — Th' insatiate power
Extends his deathful sway o'er all that breathe;

Nor aught avails it, that the virtuous sage
Forms future bards, or Wykeham's yet to come;
Nor ought avails it, that his green old age,
From youth well spent, may seem t' elude the tomb;

For Burton too must fall. And o'er his urn,
While science hangs her sculptur'd trophies round,
The letter'd tribes of half an age shall mourn,
Whose lyres he strung, and added sense to sound.

Nor shall his candid ear, I trust, disdain
This artless tribute of a feeling mind;
And thou, O Lowth, shalt own the grateful strain,
Mean tho' it flow, was virtuously design'd.

For 'twas thy work inspir'd the melting mood
To feel and pay the sacred debt I ow'd;
And the next virtue to bestowing good,
Thou know'st, is gratitude for good bestow'd.