1731 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Richard Steele

Anonymous, "Verses to a Young Lady with the Spectator" Weekly Register (20 February 1731).



Thanks to the Men, who led by gen'rous Views,
Reliev'd the Age from Politicks and News;
Retail'd Instruction, at a cheap Expence,
And where Men sought Amusement, gave them Sense.
Unequall'd Genius form'd the happy Plan;
Immortal Addison, that wond'rous Man,
Beyond each other British Muse approv'd,
While Learning, Wit and Virtue are belov'd:
Steele, his Associate in the Work of Fame;
And great his Share, to bear a second Name.
A num'rous Tribe their friendly Labours aid,
Each modest Author lurks beneath the Shade;
Tries his young Parts, and if produc'd to Light,
Enjoys th' Applause, and dares again to write.
Still proud to see his fearful, first Essays,
Partaking in the fam'd Spectator's Praise;
Thro' more, and more Impressions yet survive,
When Flying-posts, and Journals cease to live.

The noblest Rules of Action they convey,
With mighty Force, but in a graceful Way;
Instruct us, by a Method less severe;
For rugged Precepts wound the tender Ear.
They place the Ridicule of Conduct right,
With modish Follies wage successful Fight;
Neglected Merit raise to just Applause,
Nor favour, nor disguise an impious Cause.
Here in Description we survey Mankind,
And trace the various Tempers of the Mind;
All human Life exactly pictur'd View,
And in feign'd Characters discern the True.
Each Sex is drawn in a conspicuous Light,
And shews its Beauties, or its Faults to Sight;
Rarely we find a faultless Nymph like Thee;
As faultless sure, as Womankind may be.
Surpriz'd, we see what num'rous Follies reign,
Thro' every Rank and Quality of Men;
What Whims by Turns possess the giddy Crowd,
And Praise, and Blame improperly bestow'd.
Here, Wit recovers from its long Disgrace,
Throws off its Cloud, and shows its heav'nly Face;
Employ'd aright, to make us wise and good,
To check the dang'rous Influence of Mode;
To teach us Honour, Decency and Truth,
And fix the flexile Principles of Youth.
More regular Opinions now we frame
Of Fashion, Dress, Behaviour, Worth and Fame;
Laugh at Impertinence, are shock'd at Vice,
Revere the Virtuous, and the Ill despise;
Enlighten'd more, and juster Notions taught,
Of whatsoe'er is done, or spoke, or wrote:
The Sentiments in beauteous Language flow,
The Standards of our Stile, and Manners too.

With Pride such Writings to your Toilet fly,
Implore your Reading, and invite your Eye;
For Wit is only seen, and relish'd well,
By those, who in fine Sense and Taste excel.
Not to embellish more your Mind they come,
Where Nature's Bounty scarce has left them Room:
They'll entertain you, and pretend no more,
Where every Charm and Merit dwelt before.