1771 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Lyttelton

W. P., "A Poem most humbly inscribed to the Right Hon. Lord Lyttelton" Oxford Magazine 6 (February 1771) 75.



Let others load the mercenary muse,
Prone to extort the honest birth of truth,
Bought to extol the Premier's venal views,
Some tool of pow'r, or interest-lifted youth.

Let hireling pens corruption's sway defend,
And swell the lay expressive of a bride;
Let flattery, the food of courts, descend,
To yield her essence to the fawning scribe.

My Muse detests the borrow'd plume of praise,
Unbrib'd she sings what truth may deign to hear,
And boldly dares in these degenerate days
To be impartial, and to be sincere.

Lives there a man 'midst all the titled great,
Whose social virtues lift him to the view
Of honest fame — On Lyttelton they wait,
And rank him foremost of the virtuous few.

Did ever poor distress with unwip'd eye,
To his compassion pour her melting tale?
From him was needy worth e'er bade to fly?
The helpless orphan, or the widow pale?

Each fair perfection of the noble mind
Presides congenial in his generous breast;
Whose country's love his public actions bind,
His country's voice has long this truth confess'd.

Back memory with retrospective scan,
When late he fill'd a most important trust,
There envey owns this amiable man
The blameless Statesman, honest, fair, and just.

Friend to his Sovereign, and his country's weal,
Foe to venality, the Statesman's crime,
Britannia prompts her Lyttelton to feel,
And heal her wrongs at this contentious time.

Resume, my son, my Lyttelton, she cries,
Some station equal to my firmest friend,
Britannia's welfare in thy bosom lies,
Resume a power, and bid her discords end.