1752 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Mason

R. D., "To Mr. Mason on his Elfrida" Newcastle General Magazine 5 (March 1752) 136.



Hence livid envy, murkiest fiend of hell!
Hence, blood-stain'd malice, to thy baleful cell:
Avaunt, and shed not here your venom'd rage,
Nor with your touch pollute the sacred page;
To Mason the melodious lays belong,
Mason, the soul of genius and of song!

Hail, bard sublime, with raptur'd eyes we see
The soul of Sophocles reviv'd in thee.
Hail, envy'd youth! in whose bright strains conspire
Plato's cool judgment, and warm Pindar's fire;
Whilst Homer's grandeur, Virgil's sweetness join,
To make each noble sentiment divine.

Pity! those scenes which in an earlier age
Had won the wreath on Athens' polish'd stage;
Those scenes produc'd beneath bright learning's throne,
Which Delphos' god without a blush might own;
Those scenes where fire-fraught fancy's strongest ray
Adorns and animates the moral lay;
Pity those noble scenes should stand no chance
With a dull Pantomime, or paltry dance!
Pity that Attick elegance and wit
Dare hope no plaudit from a British pit.

What is th' applause of a theatrick croud?
The breath of folly, by caprice bestow'd?
A soul like thine disdains such trivial praise,
Nor seeks to mount to fame by vulgar ways;
Nobly content with modest merit's due,
The just applause of the judicious few.

That just applause for ever shall be thine,
And thro' each age Elfrida still shall shine;
Elfrida still shall shine, and Mason's name
Distinguish'd stand in the bright roll of fame,
Till time shall stop, 'till nature's frame decay,
And earth, and sea, and heav'n pass in one blaze away.