1791 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Francis Hopkinson

W., "An Elegy, inscribed to the Memory of the Hon. Judge Hopkinson, L.L.D. &c" Universal Asylum and Columbian Magazine [Philadelphia] 6 (May 1791) 337-38.



Think not the rich, the haughty, or the gay
Claim from my muse the elegiac lay;
Flatter'd by mean dependents, let the proud
At least in fancy, tower above the crowd:
Uncensured by my verse, let wealth aspire
At pomp, or let his hoarded gold retire;
And let the gay still glitter at the ball;
Term laughter wit, and learning dulness call.

A different subject now my verse demands,
And to my mind the scene of woe expands.—

A sage expired! — Philosophy who knew;
Philosophy who wisely practised too;
And thousands to his talents bade submit;—
With Plato's judgment, and with Lucian's wit.

A sage expired! — who boldly traced in youth
Law through its windings till he grasped bright truth.
Firm, as a patriot; as a judge, revered;
The worthy honoured him; th' unworthy feared.
How often have his accents charmed our ears,
Sweet at the musick of the heavenly spheres!

A Sage expired! — who prized the rights of man,
And blended nature's claims with wisdom's plan.
The steady foe of tyranny confessed,
He by true wit licentiousness suppressed.
His happy hand that engine still obeyed,
By which the flames of party were allayed.

A Sage expired! — who weighed the woes of life;
Reproved the child, the husband, and the wife;
Yet with such art and gentleness reproved,
That, though some feared his pen, the man was loved.

True to humanity, to friendship true,
Life's paths he trod, with honour still in view:
Honour he gained — but ah! the real sage,
Whose mind was formed with folly to engage,
Morals to guide, and precepts to supply,
No blessings now expects — beneath the sky.
Yet shall his spirit to that power ascend,
Whose cause he ever gloried to defend.

What knowledge was withheld from him, whose mind
For universal science was designed?
He charmed the eye, and dignified the heart,
Blending the limnist's with the poet's art.
Fancy was ever present to his mind;
Whilst truth, wit, music, every thought refined.

Be harmony his meed, whose merits claim
From worldly harmony a lasting fame.
And be this line upon his tomb-stone writ—
"The friend of virtue — and the friend of wit"—

How short the date to human worth allowed!—
Death interposes his tremendous cloud;
Snatches the man of merit from our eyes;
We mourn in darkness; he ascends the skies.

Yet shall his virtues still our hearts direct
Genius to prize, and science to respect;
Arts to advance — Thus blessings shall be found,
And thus the name of Hopkinson renowned!
Philadelphia.