1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Lyttelton

Edward Cooper, "Elegy on the Death of Lord Lyttelton" St. James's Chronicle (11 September 1773).



O yet a Moment to the pensive Tale,
Of real Grief, attend the Muse's Lyre,
As wayward Musing near yon' lonesome Vale,
A Youth attempts to catch poetic Fire!

Not the loud Trump of Verse in pompous Strain,
Does he invite to sound in Fattery's Ear,
But longs with Merit's Sons to join the Train,
Fearful, yet not averse that they should hear.

Such was the Man — each Son of Science tell,
(The Guardian of our Liberty and Laws,)
For ye attentive mark'd his Steps full well,
And knew him earnest in the Statesman's Cause.

Can we forget, my friend, the Historic Page,
What useful Lessons to Mankind he read?
View'd Life attentive thro' its every Stage,
And read those Lectures from the silent Dead.

How sweetly plaintive near yon' sacred Groves,
Where Loves, and Graces, and the Muses dwell,
He sooth'd the gentle Hours, and sung the Loves,
Of hapless Lucy in his hallow'd Cell!

For sure fair Hymen's Torch was lit by him
At Virtue's Altar with a sacred blaze:
Not like our Modern Rakes, devote to Whim,
Or dire Ambition's false alluring Rays.

Some holy Seraph touch'd his Lips with Fire
When Paul's Conversion was the sacred Theme;
From Heav'n the Light did oft his Page inspire,
O Blessed Jesu! to adore thy Name.

How oft with Pope the Sons of Science sought
Their kindred Genius in his sacred Bower,
Where Lyttelton, reclin'd in stretch of Thought,
Ey'd Nature's Works upheld by heav'nly Power!

To raise poor Merit from his lowly Cell,
And cheer his Heart from Penury set free;
Oh! canst thou blame, O Woodhouse, if I tell,
That Lyttelton, kind Friend, did this for thee?

The Boon I ask not from a feeling Breast,
Like thine, so warm'd when Gratitude inspires;
A great good Man saw me, like thee, oppress'd,
And warm'd the Muse with more than wonted Fires.

Of this no more. — When Delicacy hints
The force of Friendship in the mournful Tale,
How apt is Youth to spoil the truest Tints,
And youthful Ardors o'er the Sense prevail!

MANKIND the Theme: How various is our lot!
What sharp afflictions wait upon our life!
How often by our dearest Friends forgot,
Our Bosom Friends, the Father, Son, or Wife!

Smit with the Thought, I feel the deepest Woe;
By all the Tears of Friendship may I tell:—
On Virtue's Cheek I find the warmest Glow,
To think it came from one he lov'd so well.

Oh! oft as musing near these sacred Bowers,
Recall, vain Wanderer! thy ambitious Plan;
Nor idly chase away the precious Hours;
O L—, by virtuous, be a Man.

How melancholy silent are these Groves!
And from the Plain each Hamadryad's fled!
The Swain in thoughtful mood now devious roves,
With folded arms laments his Master dead.

Or, to yon' moss-clad Cott, directs his Way
To give to pensive Musing greater Scope;
Reflects the Globe itself shall melt away,
And to his Soul recalls this Holy Hope;

That when the Trump is echoed thro' the Sky,
And to these Bones new life my God shall give;
That blissful News he hopes to hear from High,
"Thy Soul secur'd, O Lyttelton, shall live."

'Twas the great Strength of thy capacious Mind,
O Lyttelton, thy Saviour to admire,
And thoughts so great, exalted, and refin'd,
Thou taughtst symphonious to the Muse's Lyre.

O, as reclining from yon' lucid Sphere,
Receive these mournful Accents o'er thy Hearse;
Deign to accept the Tribute of a Tear,
'Tis the small Tribute of a grateful Verse.

EPITAPH.
By Worth invited fix thy wand'ring Eye,
With sacred Awe deign Trav'ller here to tread,
Nor pass by Genius' Grave unheedfully,
But, oh! reflect that Lyttelton is dead.
PHILANDER