1736 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Dyer

Richard Savage, "An Epistle to Mr. John Dyer; Author of Grongar Hill, in answer to his from the Country" Gentleman's Magazine 6 (December 1736) 743.



Now various birds in melting consort sing,
And hail the beauty of the opening spring;
Now to thy dreams the nightingale complains,
Till the lark wakes thee with her chearful strains;
Wakes, in thy verse and friendship ever kind,
Melodious comfort to my jarring mind.

Oh! cou'd my soul thro' depths of knowledge see,
Cou'd I read nature and mankind like thee,
I should o'ercome, or bear the shocks of fate,
And e'en draw envy to the humblest state.
Thou can'st raise honour from each ill event,
From shocks gain vigour, and from want content.

Think not light poetry my life's chief care!
The muse's mansion is, at best, but air;
But, if more solid works my meaning forms,
Th' unfinish'd structures fall by fortune's storms.

Oft have I said we falsly those accuse,
Whose godlike souls life's middle state refuse.
Self-love (I cried) there seeks ignoble rest;
Care sleeps not calm, when millions wake unblest;
Mean let me shrink, or spread sweet shade o'er all;
Low as the shrub, or as the cedar tall!
'Twas vain! 'twas wild! — I sought the middle state,
And found the good, and found the truly great.

Tho' verse can never give my soul her aim;
Tho' action only claims substantial fame;
Tho' fate denies what my proud wants require,
Yet grant me, heav'n, by knowledge to aspire!
Thus to enquiry let me prompt the mind!
Thus clear dim'd truth, and bid her bless mankind!
From the pierc'd orphan thus draw shafts of grief,
Arm want with patience, and teach wealth relief!
To serve lov'd liberty inspire my breath!
Or, if my life be useless, grant me death!
For he, who useless is in life survey'd,
Burthens that world, his duty bids him aid.

Say what have honours to allure the mind,
Which he gains most, who least has serv'd mankind?
Titles, when worn by fools, I dare despise;
Yet they claim homage, when they crown the wise.
When high distinction marks deserving heirs,
Desert still dignifies the mark it wears.
But, who to birth alone wou'd honours owe
Honours, if true, from seeds of merit grow.
Those trees, with sweetest charms, invite our eyes,
Which, from our own engraftment, fruitful rise,
Still we love best what we with labour gain,
As the child's dearer for the mother's pain.

The Great I wou'd nor envy nor deride;
Nor stoop to swell a vain Superior's pride;
Nor view an Equal's hope with jealous eyes;
Nor crush the wretch beneath who wailing lies.
My sympathizing breast, his grief, can feel,
And my eye weep the wound, I cannot heal.
Ne'er among friendships let me sow debate!
Nor by another's fall advance my state!
Nor misuse wit against an absent friend!
Let me the virtues of a foe defend!
In wealth and want true minds preserve their weight
Meek, tho' exalted; tho' disgrac'd, elate;
Gen'rous and grateful (wrong'd or help'd) they live;
Grateful to serve, and gen'rous to forgive.

This may they learn, who close thy life attend;
Which, dear in mem'ry, still instructs thy friend.
Tho' cruel distance bars my grosser eye,
My soul, clear-sighted, draws thy virtue nigh;
Thro' her deep woe the quick'ning comfort gleams,
And lights up fortitude with friendship's beams.