1749 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Isaac Watts

B. Sowden, "On the Death of the Rev. Dr. Watts" Gentleman's Magazine 19 (March 1749) 134.



From earth remov'd, in ev'ry virtue warm,
Adieu! bright Seraph in a human form;
Whose noblest lot indulgent heav'n assign'd,
Whate'er could charm or edify mankind.
Whom true poetick talents largely bless'd,
Whose tuneful vein not hoary age suppress'd;
He like some dying Swan, beneath the reeds
Of rivers gliding thro' delightful meads,
In sweetest notes, resign'd his parting breath,
And sunk melodious in th' embrace of Death.

His much-lov'd Muse, Urania, heav'nly maid!
With artless grief bewails her fav'rite, dead.
Her bosom heaving with incessant sighs,
Stream the big sorrows from her melting eyes,
Whose graceful orbs, suffus'd their brilliant pow'r,
Look faint as sun-beams shining thro' a show'r.
No more with harmony divine she sings,
Her once enchanting lyre relax'd, and broke,
Hangs now neglected on the blasted oak.
While in the gloom of willows, that o'erlook
The sable waters of yon silent brook,
Whose leaden stream ne'er mantles to the wind,
Fix'd in dumb sadness, on her arm reclin'd,
With cheek all wan, and wild dishevel'd hair,
She lies, a breathing statue of despair.

Not causeless anguish this — her darling, Thou,
Illustrious Shade! while resident below,
While green in youth, she prompted thee to raise,
In her exalted numbers, Virtue's praise;
To strike with matchless skill the vocal lyre,
And kindled in thy breast Pindarick fire.
Oh lost too early! tho' thy life was long—
Who now shall rise renown'd in Lyric Song;
The harlotries of Vice with verse controul,
And pour instruction on the raptur'd soul?

Nor weeps o'er Watts the Lyric Muse alone;
Fair Science hears her, and returns the groan.
Beneath yon yew-tree's melancholy shade,
On the cold ground her form divine is laid;
Pensive, and pale, her speaking looks express,
Beyond the force of words, a vast distress;
So the fond mother mourns her infant trust,
Her blooming offspring mingled with the dust.

Well may'st thou weep, Parnassian virgin! well
Lament to think, in Watts what learning fell!
Nurs'd by thy care, and train'd beneath thy wing,
He drank deep draughts of knowledge from thy spring;
And when possess'd of an extensive share,
Rejoic'd to lead his fellow mortals there.
He broke the subtle cobwebs of the schools,
Freed the young genius from unmeaning rules,
Led Reason safely thro' th' illusive maze,
Where wide from Truth, bewitching Fancy strays.
Small was his stature, but his manly soul
Could grasp the globe, and reach the distant pole;
With ease the vivid planets' course could trace
Thro' their wide orbits in the fields of space.

But not the graces Science can impart,
Vy'd with his moral excellence of heart:
There unaffected goodness reign'd, and thence
Rush'd the strong tide of warm benevolence.
Easy of access; in the social hour
Censure grew dumb, and Envy ceas'd to lour,
Surpriz'd to hear his copious accents flow,
Wise without art, and learn'd without show.

Say ye his flock, his late peculiar care,
For whom he wrestled oft in fervent pray'r;
What transports ran thro' all your mental frame,
When e'er he made redeeming love his theme?
When he proclaim'd deliverance from sin,
How eagerly ye drank the musick in;
But when he chang'd the tender scene, and show'd
Th' awaken'd anger of an awful God,
Full in your ear all Sinai's terrors rung,
Flash'd from his eye-balls, thunder'd from his tongue:
Against himself his conscience rouz'd in arms,
The daring sinner trembles at th' alarms.

Just are the tears to such a pastor giv'n,
Who taught, at once, and led the way to heav'n,
Whose life enforc'd the rules he urg'd on you,
And was himself the great, good man, he drew.