1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Lyttelton

John Jones, "On the much lamented Death of Lord Lyttelton. A Pastoral Elegy" Town and Country Magazine 5 (September 1773) 493-94.



As late I stray'd on Hagley's flow'ry lawn,
To breathe the gentle sweetly fragrant gale,
('Twas at the silent hour of early dawn)
I spy'd a swain in the sequestered vale.

Thoughtful he walk'd a murm'ring rill beside;
His look betray'd an heart surcharg'd with woe;
And oft he pensive paus'd, and deeply sigh'd,
At length he gave his sorrows vent to flow.

"Whilst good Honorio own'd my votive reed,
Content presided o'er my humble board;
If he was pleas'd I ask'd no brighter meed,
To win his ear, my mute ambitions soar'd.

"But me the muse no longer shall beguile:
I droop to each desponding thought resign'd:
Nor shall domestic joy extort a smile,
Whilst he is to affliction's couch confin'd.

"Ye happier shepherds, deem me not remiss,
To see my sportive lambs could I endure?
Yet may propitious time increase your bliss,
If them from skies inclement ye secure.

"Thou Hagley too, enrob'd in summer's pride,
Why dost thou thus thy peerless charms display?
Unless Honorio o'er those charms preside,
Soon shall thy verdant beauties fade away.

"Him let me boast my noblest, brightest friend:
Me oft he'd welcome to his fair domains;
Oft with distinguish'd grace would condescend,
To smile complacent on my rural strains.

"If merit languish'd in the shade obscure,
He sigh'd to fix it in a brighter sphere;
Hear this ye rich, absorb'd in joys impure,
And blush with conscious shame at what ye bear.

"O that I could the balm of health infuse,
Or stay the fountain whence his anguish flows:
O could my lyre his wakeful hours amuse,
Or soothe them into gentle soft repose!

"Why do those tears thus impotently flow?
Yet swell my griefs, your tribute's justly due;
For ah! when shall the sons of science know
A patron so illustrious and so true?

"Where now, O Johnstone, is thy healing pow'r?
Ah! what does that dejected look presage?
Though thou can'st not protract life's destin'd hour,
Yet may thy lenient hand his pains assuage.

"See, see Britannia, anxious and alarm'd,
The sigh incessant heaves her gentle breast:
Yes, well she knows what zeal his bosom warm'd,
In times corrupt the patriot firm confess'd.

"Ye powers! who from each ill the good defend,
To freedom him and to his muse restore;
To years remote his valu'd life extend,
Him let not virtue, genius, me deplore.

"But hark! deep groans convulsive shake the grove!
What chilling horrors o'er my frame are spread!
Here shall my muse no more presumptuous rove,
Alas! the great, the good Honorio's dead!

"Yet Hagley, o'er thy scenes with tearful eyes,
Thy hapless scenes, so late my chief delight!
Once more I'd gaze; but vapours foul arise,
And shrowd thy beauties from my aching sight.

"So one far banish'd from his native land,
All bath'd in tears attempts a parting view,
And when no more he sees the less'ning strand,
He bids with quiv'ring lips a last adieu!"

Thus, though in rustic strains, the shepherd sung,
His moving plaints no artful griefs inspir'd:
On the damp ground he left his lyre unstrung,
Then faint and slow disconsolate retir'd.
Kidderminster, Sept. 1773.