1740 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

William Somervile, "To the Author of the Essays on Man" London Magazine 9 (January 1740) 42.



Was ever work to such perfection wrought!
How elegant the diction! pure the thought!
Not sparingly adorn'd with scatter'd rays,
But one bright beauty, one collected blaze,
So breaks the day upon the shades of night,
Enliv'ning all with one unbounded light.

To humble man's proud heart thy great design,
But who can read this wondrous work divine,
So justly plan'd, and so politely writ,
And not be proud, and boast of human wit?

Yet just to thee and to thy precepts true,
Let us know man, and give to God his due;
His image we, but mix'd with coarse allay,
Our happiness, to love, adore, obey,
To praise him for each gracious boon bestow'd,
For this thy work, for ev'ry lesser good,
With prostrate hearts before his throne to fall,
And own the great Creator all in all.

The muse which shou'd instruct, now entertains,
On trifling subjects, in enervate strains,
Be it thy task to set the wand'rer right,
Point out her way in her aerial flight,
Her noble mien, her honours lost restore,
And bid her deeply think, and proudly soar,
Thy theme sublime and easy verse will prove
Her high descent and mission from above.

Let others now translate, thy abler pen
Shall vindicate the ways of God to men,
In virtue's cause shall gloriously prevail,
When the bench frowns in vain, and pulpits fail.
Made wise by thee, whose happy style conveys
The purest morals in the softest lays,
As angels once, so now we mortals bold,
Shall climb the ladder Jacob view'd of old;
Thy kind reforming muse shall lead the way,
To the bright regions of eternal day.