1791 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Polwhele

E., "To the Rev. R. Polwhele, writing the History of Devon" Gentleman's Magazine 61 (May 1791) 470.



As on the green-sward, from the ethereal heights
Sublime, the daring Aeronaut alights,
So from the lofty source of dulcet strains,
Poetic regions where young Fancy reigns,
While now we see thee, Polwhele, stoop to trace
Minute Topography's historic grace,
And witness all the powers that aid thy will,
Thy erudition, industry, and skill!
(As erst the Doric shepherd in his lays,
So now the learn'd Pausanias of our days),
Like choral imps, we lift our weaker voice
With SCIENCE, TASTE, and DEVON, to rejoice,
And hail, for each, that day's propitious shine
In which the task was well awarded thine.

What, though we view in this assuming age,
A crowd usurp the literary stage,
Whose bold pretensions are but found to lie
In tricks the liberal mind disdains to try;
Who, while they strut, the superficial please,
By mere finesse of impudence and ease:
Yet trust a Muse, who ne'er so much is mov'd
As when she hears such paltry arts approv'd;
Thy genuine modesty is merit's best
Impressive sign, concomitant, and test;
Trust her, already in thy classic name,
Enroll'd on more than one bright list of Fame.
And when Frivolity shall pass away,
And Envy's short-liv'd infamy decay,
Thy works instruction and delight shall give,
Thy genius flourish, and thy memory live!