1714 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Addison

John Hughes, "To Mr. Addison, on his Tragedy of Cato" Poems and Translations by Several Hands (1714) 47-49.



Tho' Cato shines in Virgil's Epic Song,
Prescribing Laws among th' Elysian Throng;
Tho' Lucan's Verse, exalted by his Name,
O're Gods themselves has rais'd the Hero's Fame;
The Roman Stage did ne're his Image see,
Drawn at full Length; a Task reserv'd for Thee.
By Thee we view the Finish'd Figure rise,
And awful march before our Ravish'd Eyes;
We hear his Voice, asserting Virtue's Cause;
His Fate renew'd, our deep Attention draws,
Excites by Turns our Various Hopes and Fears,
And all the Patriot in thy Scene appears.

On Tyber's Bank thy Thought was first inspir'd,
'Twas there, to some Indulgent Grove retir'd,
Rome's Ancient Fortunes rolling in thy Mind,
Thy Happy Muse this Manly Work design'd:
Or in a Dream thou saw'st Rome's Genius stand,
And, leading Cato in his Sacred Hand,
Point out th' Immortal Subject of thy Lays,
And ask this Labour, to record his Praise.

'Tis done — the Hero lives, and charms our Age!
While Nobler Morals grace the British Stage.
Great Shakespear's Ghost the Solemn Strain to hear,
(Methinks I see the Laurell'd Shade appear!)
Will hover o're the Scene, and wond'ring, view
His Fav'rite Brutus rivall'd thus by You.
Such Roman Greatness in each Action shines,
Such Roman Eloquence adorns your Lines,
That sure the Sybils Books this Year foretold;
And in some Mystick Leaf was found enroll'd,

"Rome, turn thy Mournful Eyes from Africk's Shore,
Nor in her Sands thy Cato's Tomb explore!
When Thrice Six Hundred Times the Circling Sun
His Annual Course shall thro' the Zodiack run,
An Isle remote his Monument shall rear,
And ev'ry Gen'rous Briton pay a Tear."