1781 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Charles Churchill

A Lady, "Elegy on Churchill" Aurora and Universal Advertiser (13 February 1781).



Ye echoes my sentiments hear,
While Churchill I truly deplore;
And now wet his grave with a tear,
Whom I freely have censured before.

With candour not enmity fraught,
I sometimes deny'd him the lays;
So if sensible e'er of a fault,
O let me be just to his praise.

By genius mark'd out from the throng,
The goddess beheld him and smiled,
And fancy still beam'd thro' his song,
Tho' rough, inharmonious and wild.

'Twas his thro' the musical maze,
With a perfect indifference to steer,
And teach e'en the harshest of lays,
To please the most delicate ear.

In a burst of the nobest flame,
His sentiments frequently ran,
Yet oft has the bard bought a name,
At the total expence of the man.

His muse with a fury would glow,
Too partial for sense to commend,
O'er look all the worth of a foe,
And forget all the faults of a friend.

Hence every engagement of pow'r,
He censur'd as national wrongs;
And bade Scotland enternally lour,
All barren and dreary in song.

Hence black as the vestments of night,
A Bute has he studied to show;
And painted his Wilkes in a light,
That washes him wholly to snow.

But who if a stricture is made
Can justice with certainty name,
That never has deviously stray'd,
Nor once been to pity or blame.

That Churchill had errors we know,
But then he was frank and sincere,
And never was told of a woe,
But he gave it his purse or his tear.

Too proud when his fortune he met,
By far, to a statesman to bend,
And too humble, by much, to forget,
The name of the shabbiest friend.

Then round the poor spot where he's laid,
May the laurel eternally bloom;
And nought but his virtues he made,
An epitaph e'er from his tomb.

If a fault is unhappily shewn,
Let us place it to nature and man;
And engaged by his merits alone,
Strive to imitate them if we can.