1748 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Lyttelton

Cynthio, "To the Rt. Hon. Geo. Lyttelton, Esq." Gentleman's Magazine 18 (November 1748) 520.



A Muse unknown her feeble voice wou'd raise,
And join the chorus of thy country's praise;
Yet, while she thus her willing praise wou'd pay,
Her strains, ignoble, take that praise away.

O Lyttleton! whom nature form'd for state,
And made by genius eminently great;
O thou, adorn'd with ev'ry liberal art,
And ev'ry grace that science can impart,
What various praise is to thy merit due?
At once the Muse's pride and guardian too!
In whom the Courtier and the Christian shine,
And ev'ry virtue, ev'ry worth combine!
Whether as poet, christian, patriot view'd,
Prais'd, lov'd and honour'd by the wise and good.

Illustrious Bard! thee all the Nine inspire,
And warm thy breast with all the Roman fire;
Chear'd by thy strains, no longer they deplore
Immortal Pope, their glory now no more,
Pleas'd to behold in thee, their fav'rite son,
The softer wit of gentler Addison.

Rais'd by thy hand, Religion smiles applause,
And hails thee patron of her rising cause,
Who, banish'd courts, and doom'd to mean retreat,
Now hopes a levee of the gay and great!
In Truth's fair robe you dress the godlike dame,
And wipe Dishonour from her injur'd name,
With Reason's force the specious arts expose,
And secret rancour of her ruffian foes;
The pleas in which weak infidels confide,
And the rank folly of deistic pride.
How rare such virtue in such station known!
How rare such piety so near a throne!

Nor is this all; nor yet thy gen'rous mind
Exhausts the pow'r bestow'd to bless mankind:
Born your own Britain's honour to sustain,
And plead her cause in Freedom's sacred fane,
Unrival'd there, how copious, smooth and strong
You pour the tide of eloquence along!
To touch the springs that move the human heart;
Soften'd by thee, the sons of party smile,
Suspend their anger, and renounce their guile.

Now, with unbiass'd aim, and honest zeal,
You point the path that leads to Britain's weal;
While calmly reas'ning, latent truths grow plain,
And give to silence Faction's mad'ning train.
Each party sees thy moderation shine,
And whigs and tories in thy praise combine.

O since these glorious labours are thy choice,
Hear thou the plaudit of the public voice!
While, to the wonder of succeeding days,
In strains unbought I sing a Courtier's praise:
"A soul above Ambition mounted high,
Which borrows greatness only from the sky;
A mind illum'd by Reason's purest ray,
Which scorns the tyranny of passion's sway.
In science deep, of virtue unconfin'd,
Zealous for truth, and friend of human kind;
In taste the rule; in style correct, polite,
Where sense and candour, judgment, wit unite;
Refin'd as courts, as rural truth sincere,
Of morals blameless, and in honour clear;
Who fears no act to shew, no thought need hide,
His hand unstain'd, his heart untouch'd by pride;
In place or out, the patriot's path persu'd,
His glorious end but one, his country's good."