1790 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Warton

Wartophilus, "On Mr. Warton" St. James's Chronicle (5 August 1790).



Shall WARTON close his eyes in endless night,
And wasting pine upon the funeral bier,
"Without the meed of some melodious tear?"
Warton, whose keenly-penetrating eye
Pierc'd the thick gloom, in which obscure of old
Those ancient stars of wit were wont to lie,
Who from Oblivion's dull and stagnant stream
Rescu'd full many a name immers'd,
That now reflects a bright, irradiate beam
On regions dismal once, of thankless view.
Haply their spirits, hovering in the air,
Shall lull with nightly hymns his kindred shade,
Scattering with grateful hymns his hallow'd head.

"Thou honourest Verse, and Verse must lend her wing
To honour thee, thou Prince of Phoebus' quire;"
For thou could'st "build the rhime," and "strike the warbled string:"
And oft, where Isis rolls his classic tide,
The River Gods, and Nymphs with willows crown'd,
From their coral-paven beds,
Charm'd by thy voice, would form a circle round,
And life the magick of thy notes divine.
Their Patron thou, what time that daring youth,
With vaultings rude, and impious design,
Strove from old Isis' venerable brow,
With jealous hands to tear
The crown entwin'd of amaranthine hues,
The myrtle bay, and "ivy never sere."
A fairer crown never did Phoebus wear,
Drench'd in the sacred dews
Of Castaly, or ever-swelling Hippocrene.
So rash is still Presumption unabash'd!
But, arm'd with piety, thou didst intervene,
And check'd his daring. For this noble deed,
Long as Oxonia sits th' unrival'd Queen
Of Classick Learning, as of holy Truth,
Her sons shall hold thy memory ever dear.
For thee, perhaps, shall some congenial youth,
With lofty rhymes uprear
A deathless monument, in which thy name,
Free from intruding fear
Of jealous Envy, or malignant Fame,
Gathering fresh honours from each rising age,
Of Time and Chance shall brave the ruthless rage.

* See Milton's Lycidas, for the lines in inverted Commas.