1738 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Milton

Anonymous, "To Mr. Auditor Benson, upon his erecting a Monument for Milton, in Westminster Abbey" Daily Gazetteer (20 October 1738).



You who to MILTON'S Name this Altar raise,
Will share his Glory, and divide our Praise:
Whilst for the past Neglect your Pains atone,
His deathless Memory you make your own:
As often as this Sacred Ground we tread,
And view the Man whose Heav'nly Song we read;
To you so oft our Grateful Thanks return,
Who join the Poet's to the Monarch's Urn;
Nor are the Marbles of this awful Place
More honour'd by their Crowns, than by his Bays.

Hail, Britons, hail the Gen'rous Care that paid
The Tribute which too long had been delay'd:
One Virtue has the Debt discharg'd, and shewn
By paying it so well, how great 'twas grown:
Who knew the Labour best, cou'd best design,
What Honours shou'd reward the Work Divine;
The Beauteous Symbol to invent, and give,
Merits with MILTON'S lasting Name to live.

False Patrons, who but ill their Praise deserv'd,
Dead Poets flatter, whom they Living starv'd:
The Monuments of some record their Crimes,
And others plead no Merit but their Rhimes;
Merit that scarce has Life enough to last,
Till in its Niche the slighted Table's plac'd.
Your Bounty, Benson, with a nobler Aim
To our Applause asserts a juster Claim:
You set the best Example here in View,
And mark the Path the Poet shou'd pursue.
Sound Judgment, and the nicest Taste appear,
Alike in what you read, and what you rear;
The Fancy fine! a Master's Hand the Frame!
And Art and Nature have no greater Name.

Beneath their Feet the Venerable Stone,
Time was, when furious Bigots wou'd have thrown;
Not so this Age; in this, the Realm as free,
As ever wish'd the Patriot Bard, we see;
And Rest, and Science, and the shining Train
Of Arts, declare a BRITISH FATHER'S Reign.

Go on, thou Friend to Virtue, and Mankind;
Worthy of Thee, one Task remains behind;
Give to thy Milton next, thy Maro's Tongue,
In Latin Language clothe the British Song;
Farther than e'er th' Imperial Eagle flew,
His Fame shall spread, and owe the Wing to You:
To warm the Work with more than borrow'd Fire,
Thy Auspices the Lab'rer shall inspire.