1788 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Mason

Nassovius, "Impromptu, written upon reading Mr. Mason's Secular Ode" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (8 November 1788).



Yes! it is age, that now is grown too wise,
The Poet's once-fam'd energies to prize;
Accounting Wisdom's lessons much the worse,
For being vested in magnetick verse.
Verse, the supreme accomplishment of speech,
The happiest art to please at once, and teach.

Yes, it is age, that on the wing to fly,
This goal of life to perfect liberty;
Loves more and more it's prison, and misdeems
Ingenuous youth's heroick feelings, dreams.
And will not, rich in old experience, shew
The way of Virtue, which it best should know.
Nor is it age alone that cannot trace
The varying course of Fancy's ample race;
For, save the inventor — scarce a sage is found
That knows the limits of invention's round,
And hence the real Poet asks an age
Ere admiration stamps his living page;
Then publick rev'rence waits upon his tomb,
And idly o'er his dust bids glory bloom.
True to thy genius, to thy duty true,
Puissant still thy hand that bow-string drew
Which in thy youth, O Mason! all the Nine
With many a smile auspicious, voted thine.
And still it sings so strongly, on it's way
(With all the chime of Pindar, and of Gray);
That as we hear the energizing strain,
The pulse of freedom beats in ev'ry vein,
We glow enraptur'd, and exult to own
The patriot-zeal which Britons feel alone.

Yes, it is true, that Britain soars at length
On such a legal, such a charter'd strength:
That still her Monarch must be found her friend,
Or see vain-glory in a meteor end.
Law, glorious law, the Seraph of our sphere,
With such a radiant influence governs here;
That freedom standing near her sun-bright throne,
Proudly proclaims Britannia's Isle, her own.
'Tis mine, she says, since abject tyranny,
Perish'd beneath the glaunce of Nassau's eye.

O gen'rous Mason! never known to stray,
Ambition's meaner slave, from virtue's way.
The Briton of his trust you well apprize,
Teach him the cruel commerce to despise,
And from his strength of native worth to soar
O'er all the earth, lost freedom to restore;
Nor end his glorious toils, 'till all the earth
Shall share at once his welfare, and his worth.