1737 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Isaac Watts

J. W., aetat 17, "To the Rev. Dr. Watts" Gentleman's Magazine 7 (July 1737) 445.



Illustrious Watts! accept these early lays;
To you the muse this grateful off'ring pays,
To your capacious and exalted mind,
Endow'd with talents of the noblest kind;
Superior knowledge; which experience press'd,
And wit, that's guarded by a pious breast;
Goodness, ally'd to an extensive soul,
Which all the sensual passions can controul;
In fine, with ev'ry grace and virtue bless'd,
Lov'd by the pious, by the wise caress'd.

Taught by thy labours, and instructive page,
See virtuous youths adorn the rising age;
And, sprung from them, in future ages shine
Youths, who shall glory in thy works divine.

The inward witness to the truth you prove,
And all th' objections of the vain remove,
Exhort the christian boldly to abide
The scoffing jests of all the sons of pride.
Humble religion, and sincere you show
To be the source of all our bliss below;
(Whence more true joy and solid comfort springs,
Than from the grandeur and the pomp of kings;)
By you with strongest reas'ning fortify'd
Against th' assaults of all high-literate pride;
'Gainst the Socinians, or their envious rage;
Those vile supporters of an impious age,
Your lovely youth, with pitying eyes, we view,
Rejecting Jesus, and salvation too:
Th' unwary youth (O fatal snare!) behold
Too strongly fetter'd in his chains of gold.

The lofty themes, that on your numbers wait,
Proclaim a soul that's nobly good and great;
While virtue triumphs in your hallow'd strains,
And binds our passions in harmonious chains.

Hail sacred bard! in British verse you'll sing
Th' inspired writings of the Hebrew king;
Which Denham's muse, aspiring after, sought,
But fail'd in constru'ing what great David thought;
In your more nervous and pathetick lines
Each sacred thought in genuine brightness shines.
Lo! here prophetick rage exalts the theme,
And spreads the glory of Messiah's name;
There dread Jehovah's pow'r inspires the lay;
Loud thunders roar, and livid light'nings play;
His cloudy chariot, with swift motion, flies,
As winged winds, a-cross the low'ring skies.
But see the glory of the vary'd scene!
The bright description of the god serene;
In matchless light, and dazling pomp display'd,
With honour rob'd, and majesty array'd:
While mercy, meekness, and salvation stand,
In glorious order, at his sov'reign hand.
Here Hebrew flocks the tuneful shepherd leads
To the green pastures, and the flow'ry meads;
And now with balmy rest he sooths his soul,
Where plenteous streams of living waters roll.
With ev'ry line my raptur'd breast is fir'd,
And hints like those that heav'nly bard inspir'd,
Far more delightful than Elyzian streams,
Or the vain fables of old poets dreams.

Let vainer wits perpetuate their name,
And shine for ever in the rolls of fame;
Tho' these shou'd universal praise obtain,
Vain is their honour, and their glory vain!
To raise the soul t' immortal realms be thine,
While heav'nly numbers swell the themes divine.