1776 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

David Hume

William Russell, "Verses occasioned by the Silence of the Poets, on the Death of David Hume, Esq." Town and Country Magazine 8 (September 1776) 493.



Where were ye, ye Pierian train!
What clime, what region did ye tread;
What grove, what valley heard your strain,
When fate proclaim'd, that Hume was dead!

But why inquire? — Were ye not playing
With Fancy in the groves of Folly?
With hoodwink'd Superstition straying,
Or moping with mad Melancholy?

Begone! begone! degenerate crew!
His manes scorns your lying lays,
As from thy lessons, Truth! he drew
His precepts, then shalt speak his praise.

To distant ages thou shalt tell,
What Envy's self could ne'er disown;
'Twas he that broke the fatal spell,
Which long had made the nations groan.

At his approach, false-science fled,
And false-religion clang'd her chain:
Her vengeful serpents venom shed,
And strove to sting, but strove in vain.

Alcides like, he seiz'd their throats,
And though in science yet a youth,
He held to view their many spots,
And slew them at the fane of Truth.

'Twas he, arriv'd at riper age,
Who mark'd the limits of the mind;
And he, who bad th' historic page
Become the code of human kind.

But chiefly lauded he his name
For one prime maxim — by the zeal
Of bigots tortur'd into blame;
"That Virtue's BASE is PUBLIC WEAL."

While teachers this great truth instill,
No bold contemner of the laws
Shall dare to set his single will
In contrast to the common cause:

No generous youth, who after fame aspires,
Appall'd by doctrines of debasing kind,
Shall quench, as impious, his elating fires,
And seek, by tears, to soothe th' eternal MIND!

But every heart, and every hand,
Shall Britain strive to bless, or save;
A Briton's heaven his native land,
And his worst hell the state of slave.
Gray's Inn,
Sept. 10, 1776.