1765 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Charles Churchill

Anonymous, "On the Death of Mr. Churchill" Universal Magazine 37 (August 1765) 99.



Thus runs the motto sculptur'd on each urn,
"Man's sprung from dust, and shall to dust return."
No rank, no station can exempt from death
The Monarch's life, sustain'd but by a breath.
Howe'er we vainly flatter for a while,
And fondly bask in fortune's flattering smile;
Howe'er we sneer at Virtue's humble sons,
Whose life in one calm modest tenor runs;
Howe'er a puff of fame extols our parts,
And swells with pride our little empty hearts;
Howe'er beprais'd we wield the author's pen,
And think ourselves hence something more than men;
Howe'er a faction would affect our claim
To the high honours of immortal fame;
Howe'er we strut and swagger, speak and look,
For valour's sons egregiously mistook;
Death, who despis'd all this face of life,
Foe to Pride's triumphs, and Ambition's strife,
Steps in, delay indulg'd in no pretence,
And snatches our astonish'd spirits hence.
No force, no cunning can the stroke repel,
Nor youth, nor strength of limbs — thus Churchill fell.
Vice had not triumph'd, when fate's arrow flew,
Had Churchill's works been but as mortal too;
He then had prov'd, on Charity's kind plan,
A well-intention'd, harmless, honest man;
A nobler triumph, than the amplest fame
Annex'd to a mere literary name.