1754 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Richardson

Anna Williams, "Verses to Mr. Richardson, on his History of Charles Grandison" Scots Magazine 16 (January 1754) 17.



Long the loose wits of a degen'rate age
Had fill'd with ribaldry the venal page,
Scorn'd all restraints of virtue, and of shame,
And rais'd the titled prostitute to fame;
Their idle novels thus the public pest,
Effus'd their bane, and poison'd ev'ry breast.

Thou, zealous friend of long insulted truth,
Didst first appear the guardian of our youth;
'Twas thine, a juster lesson to impart,
To move the passions, and to mend the heart.
Bright Pamela, in native beauty drest,
Then burst upon the world, a welcome guest:
Each fair one read, with emulation fir'd,
All joy'd to imitate what all admir'd.

Nor here, great mind, thy moral labours end;
Thro' life's wide round successive works extend;
From tale to tale the mighty plan pursue,
And raise new scenes before th' unweary'd view.

Here, bless'd with mind, with fortune, and with face,
The virgin falls, but falls without disgrace;
Touch'd with the woes her suff'ring virtue felt,
In distant times, when Jones and Booth are lost,
Britannia her Clarissa's name shall boast.

Yet take from grateful worlds the present wealth,
Nor owe thy garland to the hand of death.
Ev'n now, not rocks nor wave thy fame can bound:
The Rhine's rude banks Clarissa's worth resound;
And Tuscan bards her mournful tale relate,
In groves where Virgil sung of Dido's fate.

As where the Alps in awful grandeur rise,
And mix their hoary summits with the skies,
All Nature's pow'r exhausted in the past,
We think, but still the greatest is the last;
Thus every mind Clarissa's tomes rever'd,
Great work of art, till Grandison appear'd.
The firm and kind, the daring and polite,
To form one character, in one unite;
So highly finish'd, and so well design'd,
It charms with ev'ry grace of ev'ry mind.
In Byron all the softer beauties shine,
But heav'nly Clementina's worth be mine;
At her distress each maid shall drop a tear,
Each pious maid her firm resolve revere,
Deplore her woes, and emulate her soul,
And learn from her their passions to controul.

Thus in each character new beauties shine,
And forth instruction flows in ev'ry line.

Thou sweet preceptor of the rising age,
Let still another work thy thoughts engage;
Proceed to teach, thy labours ne'er can tire,
Thou still must write, and we must still admire.

O long may boundless Nature bid thee live,
Good to bestow, and honour to receive;
And when at Fate's mild call, replete with praise,
Thou goest to join the great of ancient days,
Thy dust shall emblematic shades embow'r,
The hero's laurel, and the maiden's flow'r.