1781 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Moses Browne

Eliza, "To the Rev. Moses Browne, on reading his Sunday Thoughts" Westminster Magazine 9 (July 1781) 385.



Hail, venerable Bard, whose soothing lines
Can steal from Night the terrors of her reign!
Tutor'd by thee, how bright her darkness shines,
And fair Religion stifles mortal pain.

No more in anguish should the midnight hour
Of woe-worn wretches rend the breast with sighs;
Could they with thee attain the envied pow'r,
Could they with thee o'er earth superior rise.

Useless and vain, how many reach the age
That dignifies thy head with glory's crown?
For well, bless'd Saint, vers'd in the sacred page,
Hast thou the teachings of thy master known.

Here let my fancy, sometimes wont to stray,
Revel awhile with innocent delight;
Imagine Time, unused to brook delay,
Stood still — enraptur'd — as he saw thee write.

Think that he bade his messengers forbear,
And charg'd them on thee to defer their call;
Lest from their chilling touch aught might appear
Less energy or judgment, near to fall.

They lose their pow'r — and Genius with a smile
Proclaims her triumphs o'er their wonted force,
Which could the wreath from Science' head beguile,
Which could from Mem'ry all her aids divorce.

Thy latter page glows with the true sublime,
Thy pencil stole its colouring at the Cross;
With thee o'er Pisgah to the Lamb I'd climb,
And call the world's great boast — wealth, titles — loss.

Thy Sunday Thoughts the Lord of Sabbath blest,
And led thy pensive meditations, where
The shouting Seraphs sing the Saints to rest,
And Christians in their Saviour's glory share.

The little wanting to complete thy plan,
Little I said — not in its import small;
By nightly watchings lead the mind to scan
Each wond'rous work of the great All in All.

What if in youth affliction mark'd thy road?
What if deep sorrows were thy lot from heav'n?
The end was answer'd, since it led to God,
For the Saint's sigh a sure reward is giv'n.

To years remote the Christian world shall bless
Thy pious mem'ry, and thy labours praise:
With Browne enraptur'd, God's great acts express,
And high as Heav'n their grateful thanks shall raise.
Woolwich, Kent.