1790 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Warton

A. B. G., "On the Death of the Reverend Thomas Warton, Poet Laureat" Gentleman's Magazine 60 (July 1790) 648.



Long had the sorrowing sorrowing Vot'ress of the Nine
In secret mark'd her darling son's decline;
Saw Death's pale hand, in many a rueful trace,
Draw its wan furrows o'er his withering face;
View'd his quick eye, with beams of Genius bright,
Pale in its sinking orb the faded light;
And heard, with aching heart, his labouring breast
Startle with hollow cough the midnight rest.

Now fondly hanging o'er his mournful bier,
Her fix'd eye dripping with a silent tear,
She dwells with sad delight on each wan grace,
That faintly lingers on his clay-cold face;
And thinks o'er all the vigorous truths that prest,
Like inspiration, on his glowing breast.

For noble was his soul, and form'd to tread
The wastes of time, and relicks of the dead:
Back thro' the paths of age he roam'd, to bring
The untainted streamlet from the Muse's spring;
And of the flowers, that on its infant side
Hung their meek heads, and drank its crystal tide,
He wreathed a garland, rich with brightest hues,
Fresh with spring-gales, and wet with morning dews.
Ev'n on bleak Caledonia's barren strand
He found a Bard, that o'er a savage land
Hung sweetest notes of simple minstrelsy,
Like violets perfuming a polar sky!

Oft was he wont at parting day to tread
The lonely vale with ruin'd temples spread:
Or from the base of some quick-rising mound
Look'd up, to where the Baron's castle frown'd
High on the daring steep. He joy'd to roam
Where thro' the solemn aisles and vaulted dome
The full-voic'd quires and swelling organs roll
In pealing anthems o'er the lifted soul
At midnight: or at evening's softer hour
Stray'd where the moon shed o'er the Gothic tower
A tint of mellower grey, and calmly throws
O'er the fall'n pile a sadly-sweet repose.

But most for thee, fair Learning's noblest seat,
His glowing heart with filial transport beat:
Thy cloisters pale at midnight's solemn hours
Awing the soul, thy high o'er-arching bowers,
Thy fretted pinnacles, thy glitt'ring spires,
The swelling anthems of thy solemn quires,
Thy windows blazing with effulgent dyes,
Thy ample domes, that swell into the skies,
Thy Gothic towers with ancient honours grey,
Thy temples gloomy with excluded day,
The aweful Genius of thy place, that pours
A solemn grandeur o'er thy seats and bowers,
All in one full o'erpowering groups combin'd,
And rush'd congenial on his glowing mind.
Whene'er to distant scenes his steps he bent,
Oft on the way back to thy towers he sent
A mournful look, and saw, with aching eyes,
Thy lessening turrets melt into the skies:
Returning, on the neighbouring hill he stood,
And, near the margin of the silver flood,
With tears of transport view'd thy Gothic towers
Top with their glistering spires the darken'd bowers.
When Granta, envious of a sister's name,
Shed her fell venom o'er thy fair-earn'd fame;
His generous breast with instant vengeance flam'd,
With filial zeal the lay vindictive fram'd,
Bade thy firm domes, unmov'd by rival powers,
Rear in the fields of air their hundred towers,
And injur'd Isis, 'midst thy laurel wood,
Roll in triumphant waves her heaven-born flood.

Ah! still those turrets rise, those water roll;
But he, their guardian shield, their kindling soul,
Is sunk in death. Lo! Bathurst's fane along,
Scene of his life, and subject of his song,
His aged bones repose. Blest shade, farewell!
Long on thy name shall aching Memory dwell:
Long shall the glory of thy wide-spread fame
Kindle in generous souls a kindred flame:
And many a youth, that round thy mournful bier
Heaves the deep sigh, and drops the silent tear,
Shall place thy virtues constant in their view,
With rival steps thy glorious track pursue,
Glow with congenial fire, and boldly shoot,
Like vigorous scyons from the parent root.