1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Jago

Joseph Dennie, "Headnote to Life of Richard Jago" Port Folio [Philadelphia] 4 (25 February 1804) 60.



This elegant and feeling writer, deserves all the candid criticism of his Biographer. We have read his longest Poem with peculiar pleasure. It is entitled "Edge-Hill," deriving its name from the boundary line between the counties of Oxford and Warwick, and memorable as the scene of the first engagement, between loyalty, and rebellion, in the reign of Charles I. The Author's opinion of that malignant mob of fanatics and rebels, who, in their mad paroxysm of democracy, spilt the blood of their Sovereign; defaced the noblest institutions; oppressed the best men; exalted the worst; make hypocrisy a trade, religion a drab, liberty a jest, and totally annulled the public peace and private happiness of a whole country, is clearly expressed, in these lines.

—Here, thy subjects first, IMPERIAL CHARLES,
Dar'd in these fields, with arms, their cause to plead.
Where once the Romans pitch'd their hostile tents,
Other Campanias fair, and milder Alps
Exploring, now a nobler warrior stood,
His country's Sovereign liege! Around his camp
A gallant train of loftiest rank attend,
By loyalty and love of regal sway
To mighty deeds impell'd. Meanwhile below
Others no less intrepid courage boast,
From source as fair, the love of Liberty!
Dear Liberty! when rightly understood,
Prime social bliss! Oh! many no fraud
Usurp thy name, to veil the dark designs
Of vile ambition, or licentious rage.

But the popular part of Mr. Jago's reputation will rest upon those little Poems, dear to humanity, which have been devoted to the blest purpose of rescuing the inferior orders of animated nature, from the capricious cruelty of man. His "Elegies" are most amiable in their sentiments, and most elegant in their expression, and will probably save the life, and vindicate the freedom of many a feathered songster.