1736 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. George Sewell

Thomas Birch, "On the Death of Dr. Sewell" London Magazine 7 (January 1738) 42.



In vain the muse attempts to tune the lyre,
Invokes the god, requests his sacred fire;
In vain from music's charms she seeks relief,
And in soft accents vents her piercing grief;
The soul who did her genuine worth display,
Point out the prize, and mark the glorious way,
Who justly knew to censure and to write,
Struck by untimely fate, is sunk in shades of night.

Ye sons of Paean! touch the plaintive string!
In numbers, soft as his, your dirges sing!
Ye great possessors of Machaon's fame!
The healing bard with mournful rev'rence name.
'Twas he Apollo's double gift enjoy'd,
Breath'd tuneful sounds, and pow'rful herbs employ'd;
And whilst his hand repell'd the fever's rage,
His soothing verse cou'd all its pains assuage.

Genius divine! in thy consummate mind
The Coan's skill and Mantuan's wit were join'd.
Reviv'd by thee the patriot's virtues shine,
His god-like freedom breathes in ev'ry line:
How pure the diction! and the thoughts how bold!
How perfect all! so Sophocles of old,
So great Euripides with tragic rage
Sublimely thunder'd on the Grecian stage,
Rais'd virtuous hearts, and form'd the gen'rous age.
Thy grateful verse to future times transmits
The best of patrons, and the best of wits:
The celebrated statesman's deathless praise
Lives in his own, and thy immortal lays.
Thou hail'dst the day when fate propitious gave
The mighty GEORGE our tott'ring realms to save;
But when thy muse her tribute paid to love,
Thy am'rous strains could ev'n a stoic move;
Thy Cupid kindled in the breast desire,
Bright as the sun, and pure as vestal fire.

Thus while the world thy brows with laurel bound,
Blest the physician, and the poet crown'd,
Relentless death's resistless hand prevail'd,
And the physician, and the poet fail'd.
In vain Apollo interpos'd his pow'r,
In vain the muses charm'd the fatal hour.
The gloomy monarch, with his deadly dart,
Despis'd thy boasted skill, and pierc'd thy heart.
Oh! had good heav'n, to grant our wish inclin'd,
Prolong'd thy breath, in favour to mankind,
Sublimer notes thy matchless muse had sung,
Refin'd our lays, and smooth'd our rougher tongue;
And then the sacred sisters still had stay'd
In Britain's groves, nor sought a foreign shade.