1750 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Anonymous, "To the Rambler" Gentleman's Magazine 20 (July 1750) 324.



When Vice, and Folly, with their num'rous bands,
Once wav'd their ensigns o'er Britannia's lands,
When Fopp'ry, Lewdness, and more daring crimes,
Were but the sports and fashions of the times;
Then Learning, Manners vanish'd; Virtue fled,
And in some milder region hid her head,
'Till Addison, (a much renowned name,
To be distinguish'd in the lists of fame)
With his embody'd Phalanx, clear'd the way,
Restor'd the Goddess to her lawful sway;
Bound Ignorance and Vice in brazen chains,
And drove pale Envy mutt'ring o'er the plains.

But ah! how soon this short-liv'd triumph pass'd!
How soon our day with clouds was overcast;
These hated monsters soon renew'd the fight,
Emerg'd from Chaos, and the gloom of night,
Happy for us! another Champion shines,
Equal in genius and in great designs,
To combat Vice, howe'er she changes place;
To flash his light'ning in each guilty face,
To paint fair Virtue's awful-striking mein,
Who to be lov'd needs only to be seen,
To fix her empire and confirm her throne,
With single arm and vigour all his own;
Proceed, Great Rambler, and with manly fire
War against crimes, and still make guilt retire,
'Till the detested Fiends shall shun the light,
Sunk in the shades of their primaeval night.