1793 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Joseph Warton

Anonymous, "To Dr. Warton, Master of Winchester School, on his youngest Daughter's Marriage" Gentleman's Magazine 63 (November 1793) 1036.



O thou, our Father and our Friend,
Awhile from weightier cares descend,
Accept this humble lay;
Whether within thy green retreat,
Or classic Venta's hallow'd seat,
You muse the hours away.

To pour to thee the festive song,
Where Itchin glides his meads among,
Thy Wickham's sons agree;
With joy their grateful hearts o'erflow,
With new delight their bosoms glow,
Delight which springs from thou.

What, though inspir'd above the rest,
To thee belong the magic crest
Of Fancy, fairy maid;
Though Science grant a judgment chaste,
With Attic elegance of taste,
In Truth's bright garb array'd.

The poet's fire, the critic's art,
Ennoble not the human heart;
But, when thy mind we scan,
Humanity unites to raise
To greater honours greater praise,
The father and the man.

With heav'nly influence warm, thy breast,
Its Maker's image full confest,
With pure affection glows;
Glows, as amidst the envious thorn,
Cheer'd by the balmy breath of morn,
The dew-besprink'd rose.

By every charm which tends to raise
The Poet's, Critic's, Father's praise,
If such can aught avail,
By chaste-ey'd Virtue's magic name,
By pious Wickham's sacred flame,
His offspring bids thee hail.

And see, to glad thine aged eyes,
Young Joy, with dimpled smiles, arise,
And hither gaily move;
While Modesty, by Meekness led,
Approaching decks the bridal bed,
And weaves the crown of Love.

Fair Truth, in snow-white garb array'd,
And Chastity, distrustful maid,
With down-cast looks appear;
Fortune's glad train the scene adorn,
And Plenty, with her copious horn,
Leads on the vary'd year.

Oh! for the warblings of the Oat',
Which sweetly once were wont to float
O'er blest Sicilia's plains;
When the blithe Shepherd 'gan to sing
The joys of Lacedamion's king,
And soothe the list'ning swains!

Or, would some Muse that fire impart,
Which warm'd the sapient monarch's heart,
When, 'midst the spicy grove,
The carols of the feather'd choir
Inflam'd the sage to tune his lyre,
And celebrate his love;

Then should the bride obtain her meed,
Like the tall cypress or the steed
Victorious in the race;
Then should the rose of Sharon's field,
Then should the finest lily yield
To her superior grace.

Yet, while esteem the bosom fires,
The strain, which candid Truth inspires,
Who can refuse to raise?
Who can refuse to pour the verse,
Which strives her beauties to rehearse,
And celebrate thy praise?

Hail, then, to whom increasing years,
Her laureat head while Virtue rears,
Increasing joys shall bring;
Hail, with transcendent blessings crown'd,
To whom a blooming race around,
Like olive-plants, shall spring.

Eager the envy'd kiss to share,
Around thy knees, with infant care,
The sportive troop appear,
Long may they feel thy fost'ring pow'r!
May they, in dread Affliction's hour,
Support thy fainting years!

And, when you tread life's downward way,
May cherub Peace her wings display,
May Faith her influence shed;
May Friendship's hand thy sorrow's calm,
And sweet Affection pour the balm
Of comfort on thine head!

And, oh! when Life's aetherial flame
Shall warm no more thy mortal frame,
May Wykham's sons attend,
Hang o'er thy much-lamented bier,
And drop on thee the heartfelt tear
Their Father and their Friend!
Wint. Coll.