1765 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Lloyd

Evan Lloyd, "On the Death of Mr. R. Lloyd" St. James's Chronicle (23 April 1765).



When Nature had fill'd up Creation's Plan,
And her great Task seem'd now complete in Man,
With curious Eye her Labours she survey'd,
And play'd the Critic o'er the Work she made,
A secret Joy o'erspread her Parent Breast,
To see the whole directed for the best,
To see each Part promote her gen'ral Plan;—
When, lo! a Rebel 'midst her Sons! — 'twas Man.
For Man was yet but rude unsoften'd Clay,
That play'd the Tyrant, when he should obey;
The Reins from Reason match'd, th' impetuous Soul
Despotic, lorded it above Controul.
Ill did his Manners suit his gracious Form!
Wild and unbridled, as the winged Storm,
That tears the boiling Ocean by the Root,
They sunk the Man below the lowest Brute.
Nature, all Kindness, sigh'd, and dropp'd a Tear,
To see Confusion proudly domineer,
And lay these Regions waste, where she ordain'd
That fairest Order should in Peace have reign'd.
Restless to finish what was well begun,
She mus'd on Means to tame her savage Son;
Nor mus'd she long what Means should be pursu'd—
Force gives no Merit — charm him to be good—
She gave the Muse — and sacred Bards begun
To perfect what herself had left half done.
By them our rude Forefathers were refin'd,
—Poets were made to humanize Mankind.—
The Pow'r of Song let Theban Annals tell,
And he whose Lyre releas'd his Wife from Hell.
The Muse's Lash has kept the World in Awe,
And Satire frighten'd Villains more than Law.

Is then the Earth of all her Monsters freed?
Lurks not a Nest, where pois'nous Vipers breed?
Has Vice in Jordan wash'd her lep'rous Skin,
All Snow without, and spotless all within?
Has Nature, sick and drooping with Offence,
Again attain'd the Health of Innocence?
And have the Sons of Men their Load of Sin
Shook off, the Work of Virtue to begin?
Has Avarice unclench'd his griping Hand,
And scatter'd Bread 'mid Lazar's needy Band?
Had hot Intemp'rance learnt to say, Enough,
And loves the Fountain more than Circe's Trough?
Have venal Slaves resum'd the Hearts of Men,
And thrown the Minister his Bribe Agen?
Can Impudence now blush and hide her Face?
Is pure Religion courted in the Land,
Religion of the Heart, not Gown and Band?
Falsehood and Treachery grown honest both?
And, Pillory apart, can keep their Oath?
Have Ministers this Lesson in their Mind,
—Friends to themselves, they should befriend Mankind?
Have Kings, awaken'd from their sottish Dream,
At length remember'd Man and Man's the same?
(Pre-eminence and Honour are their due,
But 'tis from Compact these Respects they drew:
The Rights of Nature are of no Degree,
But still the same to Caesar and to me.)
Oh! for such blessed Days! such golden Times!
When Laws grow needless for the Lack of Crimes;
When Priests and Poets, Ministers and Kings,
Rhimes, Absolutions, all are useless Things!

But, lo! yon robed Man of Law advance!
Scatters my Dream, and wakes me from my Trance:
The Clank of Pris'ners' Chains, and Lawyers' Brawl,
Bring me to Town, and prove it Vision all:
They shew the rugged Features of the Times,
And call forth Tears for Lloyd's reforming Rhimes.
In Times like these, how ill can Bards be spar'd!
He thousands hurts, who hurts one honest Bard.
Lloyd, and his glorious Twin, our Nation's Pride,
Churchill, sweet Bards, "hereafter should have died;"
When with the mighty Magic of their Lay,
They'd witch'd to Virtue all who from her stray.
Oh! had ye liv'd till then, illustrious Pair!—
Whole Herds of Rhymists we could better spare;
Whether in knitting Rebusses they deal,
Or spin a Birth-day Ode to earn a Meal;
Or squinting at the Subjects which they sing,
Some Stuff in Shape of Contradiction bring,
Scrape harsher than blind Beggar on his Fiddle,
And midwife to the World a still-born Riddle.
Or if in Verse, not half so sweet as Prose,
Of Celia's Lip they sing, or Chloe's Nose;
Or those, who wearing clumsily the Sock,
Write, as they meant Life not to draw, but mock;
The Bus'ness of the Scene so very poor,
A Gossip's Prattle interests you more;
And all their mighty Secret lies in this,
Get Songs and fine new Cloaths, you cannot miss:
In which it is as easy to excell,
As with poor Bays, to pen a Whisper well.

These, and whatever Game beside they chuse,
Mistaking Mrs. Griffiths for a Muse,
All in Oblivion's Grave might well be sunk,
Themselves for Worms, their Works to line a Trunk:
These, and ten Thousand more to Death were due,
If in Exchange he'd give us back but you:
But he, dull Marketman, in Thought knows Men
Too well, to give his Bargain back agen;
Old Time shall shew his Error by-and-by,
And make him know that you can never die.

Peace to thy Ashes, Lloyd, ill-treated Bard!
Thy Song so sweet! — a Prison thy Reward!—
Hard was thy Lot, sweet Bird, in this rude Age,
That coop'd thee up to whistle in a Cage:
But thou could'st even Freedom's Self survive,
And blythly sing, while Churchill was alive;
But when your Mate was snatch'd, you droop'd and died,
Blest was the Tryal, for thy Truth was tried.
For Ages hence your Chaplet shall be green,
And, Ages past, no withering Leaf be seen;
Softly repose upon the Muses Breast,
And Phoebus' Self shall sing you to your rest.