1800 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Joseph Warton

William Boscawen, "Elegy on the Death of Dr. Joseph Warton" Gentleman's Magazine 70 (March 1800) 258-59.



Soft flow'd the lay, when late, with downcast eye,
The gentle Muse by Itchin's verdant side
Pensive reclin'd; while to each struggling sigh
In kindred notes the murmuring stream replied.

"Ye once-lov'd haunts!" (exclaim'd the sorrowing maid),
"Ye scenes, where oft my soul enraptur'd hung,
While o'er th' enamel'd vale my WARTON stray'd,
On the sage lore he taught, the lays he sung!

"No more, alas! shall joy's inspiring strain,
Dear to my heart, your sportive echoes fill,
When from yon classic dome the youthful train
Bounds o'er the mead, or climbs the breezy hill.

"Mute is that tongue, which, tun'd by genius, charm'd
By native eloquence, by sense refin'd;
Cold is that heart, which genuine virtue warm'd,
And lost that taste, which form'd the mind.

"Come, bright ey'd Fancy, for your favour'd child
Let kind remembrance prompt th' accordant tear!
You, on his votive lays who fondly smil'd,
Now with your grief adorn his sacred bier.

"And lo! in solemn guise the drooping maid
Appears! — around she calls a pensive throng:
Lo, many a Sage and Poet's honour'd shade!
Sovereigns in taste, or masters of the song.

"With air majestic and in modest state
Invok'd, the mighty Mantuan sweeps the string;
'Rome, Rome,' he cries, 'may well deplore his fate,
Who bade in British strains her Virgil sing';

"With him, sweet Horace, partner of his heart,
Once more attunes the lyre to mournful lays,
As, for Quintilius lost, with happiest art,
He join'd with soft laments sublimer praise.

"'Cease, cease your plaints,' exclaim'd the Bard divine,
Whose British Muse his taste, his skill, adorn,
'Mine was the loss, his works shall live with mine,
Alike shall charm to ages yet unborn.'

"In vain would coward Slander, veil'd in night,
Blast his bright laurels, taint his spotless name;
Applauding Britain's sons with pure delight
Shall crown his virtues, consecrate his fame.

"Say, ye fond vot'ries of the sacred lyre!
Say, can your guardian pow'r yet hope to find
The social wit, the well-attemper'd fire,
The candour that adorn'd his liberal mind?

"True worth to cherish, yet with tongue sincere
To mark those failings which he sought to mend,
Such was his art: nor servile, nor severe,
All prais'd the critic, but all lov'd the friend."

Thus mourn'd the Muse: from Winton's classic vale
The sounds far echoed thro' the yielding air.
Fair Isis heard the melancholy tale
With heart-felt sympanthy, in muste despair,

Melodious stream! to thee new sorrow rise:
New woes shall agonize thy gentle breast.
Another Warton late call'd forth thy sighs,
And sunk, lamented sunk, to endless rest.

Then for her laurell'd Bard, her classic pride,
Fair Rhedycina wept thy shores along:
Now, lost her son, by name, by worth allied,
Again thy vale resounds her plaintive song.

Alike each Bard to taste, to fancy dear:
Yet one the rugged heights aspir'd to clime,
Of Runic verse, and strike th' astonish'd ear
With Gothic minstrelsy, and antique rhyme.

A gentler task fraternal genius chose:
With flights less arduous he delights to soar:
His flowing verse, his unaffected prose,
Mark the chaste elegance of classic lore.

Yet one great end the kindred pair inspires;
(This prompts their genius, this directs their art,)
By fancy's charms to kindle virtue's fires,
And high o'er base desire exalt the heart.