1767 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Lyttelton

Anonymous, "To the Right Hon. the Lord Lyttelton, when on a Visit to his patriot Friend in Herefordshire" Public Advertiser (5 August 1767).



Sage Lyttelton! fam'd Favorite of the Nine,
In whose smooth Lays the Loves and Graces shine;
Whose Mind, enrich'd from Wisdom's boundless Store,
Is sanctify'd by pure Religion's Lore:
Who, scorning the low, coz'ning Arts of State,
Thinks a good Man synonymous with great:
What Joys, what attic Pleasures, must attend
While visiting your hospitable Friend!

I hear your Converse: — not on trivial Themes,
Utopian Hints, or Rosycrucian Dreams,
But on high Topics, worthy of old Rome—
The Birth of Realms, their Progress, and their Tomb;
On Plans which best promote a Nation's Weal,
When upright Statesmen turn the mighty Wheel:
With madding Faction, War incessant wage,
Themselves the bright Examplars of their Age.

The Gates of ev'ry Seat will open fly,
Soon as 'tis known that Lyttelton is nigh:
Where'er thou com'st, due Honours thoul't receive
And all regret Thee after taking Leave.

Yet, in thy healthful Tour, thoul't find but few
With Hearts like thine, to sacred Friendship true:
Alas! that Virtue, so rever'd of old,
Now yields to an insatiate Thirst of Gold:
At Mammon's Shrine most Mortals Homage pay,
And call those Wise, who their best Friends betray.

But is this Wisdom? — O! 'tis Man's Disgrace,
And sinks him lower than the brutal Race.
Were Falshood, and fine Talents, thought the same,
Chart'res might be a reputable Name;
Lovatt, for Parts, be prais'd thro' ev'ry Age,
And all dark Traytors who in Plots engage.

How gracious is th' Almighty to Mankind,
To Evil prone, and to Instruction blind!
Scarce one, but trespasses each Day he lives;
Scarce one, whom Heaven not instantly forgives.
Wretched, beyond Description, were our Fate,
Did Heaven hate us, as oft we others hate.

Yet here and there we God-like Minds descry,
As stars seen glitt'ring in a clouded Sky;
Sages, who, fam'd for Justice, noble stand
Like Pillars, to support a tott'ring Land.

'Mong these shines one, for public Virtues known,
A Senator, whom Friendship calls thy own;
For ever mindful of th' industrious Poor,
To all their pressing Wants he seeks a Cure:
With him true Greatness not Pomp and Glare,
Mere titles, Ribbands, a contemptuous Air;
But being gen'rous, affable, sincere,
And sympathizing with the good Man's Tear.

Him his oblig'd Constituents fondly greet
From Town returning to his graceful Seat;
Hail him, in long Procession, on his Way,
And ev'ry Mark of Gratitude display;
Men of all Ranks, all Parties, round him throng,
While Hills and Dales resound with jocund Song:
They style him Father; think on ev'ry Name,
May best their Love, their Rev'rence proclaim:
Raise rural Decorations, scatter Flowers,
And crown with George's Health their genial Hours.

At solemn Midnight, by Disease opprest,
His aching Limbs, his Eyelids wanting Rest;
His gen'rous Soul, intent on public Good,
Oft' in St. Stephen's Chapel has he stood,
And foil'd Premiers, amid their hireling Train,
Whose Cry was Country, but their Object Gain:
Or trac'd Corruption thro' her winding Course,
And bravely pointed out her poys'nous Source:
'Gainst Standing Armies, Freedom's dang'rous Foe,
Then bid each Heart with Indignation glow;
(That Freedom which from Magna Charta springs,
To us not dearer than to gracious Kings)
Pleas'd, then to Albion's Victors Wreathes decreed,
But thought it just her coward Sons should bleed.
Next, painting Statesmen who fulfill'd their Trust,
Rank'd virtuous Rockingham among the first.—
Loos'd weeping Debtors from the Gaoler's Chain,
Who o'er their Mis'ries held a Tyrant Reign.

Such just Applauses all his Deeds attend,
'Tis Reputation to be called his Friend:
Yet, tho' the Cyder Lands his Worth proclaim,
Cornwall would be the last to hint his Name.