1715
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Vision. A Poem.

The Vision. A Poem. By Mr. Croxall, Author of the two Original Cantos of Spenser.

Rev. Samuel Croxall


In Samuel Croxall's allegorical vision verse characters of Chaucer and Spenser follow a catalogue of British monarchs, and "Elisa" makes a prophesy of British Greatness. The graphic imagery in the depiction of Spenser is new, and looks ahead to later and more familiar images of gothic bards: "Spenser sate | And twitch'd the sounding Chords in solemn State: | An Ivy Garland on his Temples hoar | With Sprigs of Lawrel interwove he wore: | Adown his Shoulders hung a Mantle blue | Bedrop'd with Spangles of a Golden Hue; | Of Arms and Elfin Knights he mus'd his Song, | And taught in Mystic Tales the list'ning Throng." Compare Matthew Prior's Ode to the Queen (1706).

William Lyon Phelps: "This is in the heroic couplet, but the style of the poem is distinctly unorthodox. It describes a vision of the ancient kings and queens of England, and the opening pictures of the woods and flowers and streams have a perceptible Romantic coloring. Besides the crowned heads, the poet has a vision of two English poets, not Cowley and Waller, but, strange to say, Chaucer and Spenser.... It is disappointing to find at the conclusion of this poem, that the work has a theological purpose — to attack Popery; but even this unfortunate ending does not rob the poetry of its rich and warm color. The Vision lay practically unknown till parts of it were republished by Southey. Since then it has lapsed into a still deeper obscurity" Beginnings of the English Romantic Movement (1893) 29.

Henry A. Beers: "His two pieces 'The Vision,' 1715, and 'The Fair Circassian,' 1720, though written in the couplet, exhibit a rosiness of color and a luxuriance of imagery manifestly learned from Spenser" English Romanticism in the Eighteenth Century (1899) 84.

Harko Gerrit De Maar: "Perhaps to strengthen his position Croxall took up his pen once more in praise of Royalty. In the same year [as An Ode Humbly Inscrib'd to the King], 1715, he published The Vision, in which royalty in general is complimented in the person of great English monarchs. 'Visions' were much in vogue at the time. Pope published The Temple of Fame, A Vision in 1715, Preston presented to the world in the same year: Aesop at the Bear Gardens, A Vision. In Imitation of the Temple of Fame. By Mr. Pope; and Lock brought out in 1717: The Temple of Love, A Vision. In the Vision Croxall is more papal than Pope himself. Spenser's method of cataloguing flowers is followed, but there is no trace of romanticism. Chaucer and his 'fellow-bard Spenser' are duly praised, but that Croxall was now sitting at the feet of Pope is evident enough. With the desertion of the Spenserian poem for the heroic couplet came the disappearance of the romantic mood" History of Modern English Romanticism (1924) 83-84.



The Man, whose Life by Virtue's Model fram'd
Flows calmly on unspotted and unblam'd,
Whose gentle Heart exults with freeborn Blood
In Principles of Honour richly good,
Can Envy's ugly Frowns unmov'd survey,
And look on Civil Storms without Dismay:
Him, nor the passive Bigot can controul,
Nor tricking Statesman bend his steady Soul;
His stable Breast inur'd to persevere
In wav'ring Times, admits not guilty Fear.
Tho' round his Head loud Warriour Thunders roar,
And vanquish'd Tyrants tempt with all their Store;
Inspir'd by conscious Worth and nobly bold,
He scorns alike proud Bourbon's Threats and Gold.
Tho' heaving Winds should burst this solid Ball,
And ev'ry Star in crumbling Ruin fall;
His Mind compos'd, and Temper manly stern,
Would meet the dreadful Crush with Unconcern.

Merit like this rais'd Hercules of old,
And Leda's Twins among the Gods enrol'd;
Thus Nassau, thus AUGUSTUS taught to rise,
Have spurn'd the Ground, and gain'd the Chrystal Skies;
Where Bacchus, sweet Inventor of the Vine,
Supplies in Purple Streams Nectareous Wine:
Their mortal Toils on soft Oblivion drown'd,
They feast repos'd in fleecy Clouds around,
And quaff full Bowls of Bliss with circling Glories crown'd.

Toss'd with these Thoughts, in vain my waking Head
Sought the sweet Quiet of the downy Bed;
And tho' no Cares of Love usurp'd my Breast,
No piercing Grief my peaceful Mind oppress'd;
Yet Morpheus still averse deny'd me Rest.
On various Themes I spent the tedious Night,
And sleepless saw the Morn's new-dawning Light;
Then rose, and issuing forth with early Day
Down to the woodland Glade I bent my Way;
Where gentle Mole rolls on his silent Streams
Thro' Surrian Dales to meet the Silver Thames.
Here in the Covert of a lonely Grove,
Retir'd alike for Poetry or Love,
Pensive beneath a spreading Oak I stood
That veil'd the hollow Channel of the Flood:
Along whose shelving Bank the Violet Blue
And Primrose Pale in lovely Mixture grew.
High over-arch'd the bloomy Woodbine hung,
The gaudy Goldfinch from the Maple sung;
The little warbling Minstrel of the Shade
To the gay Morn her due Devotion paid:
Next, the soft Linnet ecchoing to the Thrush
With Carols fill'd the smelling Briar-bush;
While Philomel attun'd her artless Throat,
And from the Hawthorn breath'd a trilling Note.
Indulgent Nature smil'd in ev'ry Part
And fill'd with Joy unknown my ravish'd Heart.

Attent I listen'd while the Feather'd Throng
Alternate finish'd and renew'd their Song;
Then, strolling on as Chance or Fancy led,
I gain'd the Margin of a verdant Mead;
Whose even Surface, like th' unruffled Main,
With Grassy Hue display'd a level Plain.
Here ev'ry Flow'r that Nature's Pencil draws
In various Kinds a bright Enamel rose:
The silver Dazy streak'd with ruddy Light,
The yellow Cowslip and the Snow-drop white;
The fragrant Hyacinth, Apollo's Flow'r,
And fresh Narciss that love the streamy Shore.
There Crow-feet did their Purple Bells unfold,
And the smooth King-Cup shone with Leaves of Gold.

The utmost Border was a lofty Mound
Of shady Forest-Trees that grew around;
Whose Boughs their little Tendrils interwove,
And clasping gave a Type of Friendly Love.
Beyond, a bushy Brake o'er-run the Place,
Which one continu'd mazy Thicket was.

Here, if we credit Fame, the Faery Court
Nightly frequent in Festival Resort;
The little Elfin Train attend their Queen,
And in light Gambols frisk it o'er the Green;
While the chaste Moon her friendly Lamp inclines,
And to the merry Crew with sloping Crescent shines.

With soft Reflections charm'd awhile I stood,
And touch'd with Joy the lively Landskip view'd;
When strait the Sun, that shot a feeble Beam,
Cloudless diffus'd a more prevailing Gleam;
Divinely clear, the Blue Etherial Sky
With genial Splendor shone and entertain'd the Eye.
Celestial Music warbled in the Air,
And Lyres unseen proclaim'd some Godhead near.

Struck with Surprise I eager gaz'd around,
And trod with secret Awe the hallow'd Ground;
When, from the Middle of the flow'ry Mead,
Behold! a rich Pavilion rear'd its Head.
Twelve Agat Pillars of a curious Mold,
Their Bases Silver and their Cornice Gold,
Justly enrang'd and oppositely plac'd,
The Coverlet at once sustain'd and grac'd.
The gorgeous Coverlet, a rich Brocade
Scarce yielding to the Breeze which o'er it play'd,
Green silken Cords with Threads of Gold entwin'd
Around the Chapiters were seen to bind,
Whose Tassels dangled down and wanton'd in the Wind.

The Pavement, all with colour'd Checques bestrew'd
Mosaic Work, some curious Fancy shew'd;
And here and there bright Jewels set between
With shining Metals mix'd were sparkling seen.

Above, five Canopies of Royal State
Depending from the Roof, Majestick Height,
Whose Curtains half display'd their inwrought Gold
Furl'd by the nimble Wings of Cherubs bold,
Five Jaspar Thrones discover'd to the Eye
Rising on Steps of sumptuous Porphyry:
In which by magic Skill compleatly rais'd
The Star within its mystic Garter blaz'd;
And to display the Grandeur of the Court,
The Fabric's Ornament and main Support,
Two Lions lowly couch'd below each Throne,
Emblems of Might, in golden Sculpture shone:
Their glitt'ring Manes wav'd to the distant Sight,
Their rolling Eye-Balls glar'd with trembling Light;
Whose Beams forth-streaming in a lively Ray
Illumin'd all the Tent with artful Day.

Thence, as with glancing Eye I chanc'd to rove
Along the Border of the neighb'ring Grove,
A fair Triumphal Arch begun to rise,
And shoot its spiring Top among the Skies.
On Gothic Columns fix'd, aloft it stood,
And thro' its opening Curve in Prospect shew'd
The gloomy Horror of the dusky Wood.
When, from the Sylvan Scenes remotest Shade
Sudden appear'd a Princely Cavalcade:
Such as did Rome's fair Streets of old adorn
When young Marcellus was in Triumph born;
Or when great Julius had subdu'd the Gall,
And laid the Northern World beneath his Thrall.
Heroes and Godlike Men, whose valiant Hand
Had sav'd from hostile Chains their Native Land;
Whose Souls, inform'd in Virtue's gen'rous School,
Stout and impatient of Tyrannic Rule,
Firm by the Cause of Liberty had stood
Profuse of Spirit and their Noble Blood.

These were the Barons, who in Times of Yore
Successful Arms for England's Safety bore;
Who drew the Patriot Sword, and stood at Bay
Against th' incroaching Pow'r of lawless Sway:
When vicious Fav'rites made the Crown their Tool,
And overturn'd the State by base Misrule.
Fair Property to Them her Charter owes,
From Them the living Springs of Freedom rose;
Which rolling down the swift Descent of Time
Refresh with lasting Streams Britannia's Clime.

Next these, a Martial Symphony appear'd,
Drums, Trumpets, Fifes thro' all the Grove were heard;
Mole and his Neighbour Hills return'd the Sound,
Which trembling skim'd along the hollow Ground,
And fill'd with Ecchoes sweet the Vallies all around.
Strait, from the leafy Covert of the Wood
A large Brigade of well-arm'd Troops ensu'd:
Whose lusty Limbs enchas'd in Armour bright
Were mark'd with Scars of many a bloody Fight:
Long stubborn Bows were cross their Shoulders slung,
Near which their winged Shafts in Quivers hung.
Their colour'd Banners floated in the Wind,
The Host in even Files came marching on behind.

But as by just Degrees they nigher drew,
And walk'd distinguish'd in a plainer View;
Five of a more exalted Port were seen,
Their Look Majestic and August their Mein;
Whose spritely Soul a brighter Lustre spread,
Which blaz'd in Glory round their awful Head;
And as they trod with grave and solemn Pace,
Each Motion utter'd a peculiar Grace.

Walk'd first, King EDWARD of uncensur'd Fame,
First of the Norman Line that bears the Name.
An Ermine Robe his graceful Person veil'd,
The Globe and Sceptre in his Hands he held.
Quick was his Eye, his Stature fair and tall,
And on his Head a golden Coronal.
Thrice worthy Monarch! who with Care pursu'd
And kingly Love his Country's chiefest good;
To Justice rightly yielded all her Due,
Confirm'd old Charters and establish'd New.
He wisely check'd Ecclesiastic Pow'r,
And purg'd the Chaff from off the Temples Floor:
Pluralities, as now, were then the Game,
At which aspiring Clerics took their Aim;
Who always think that Churchs Danger near
Where many unprovided Priests appear.
But cautious EDWARD clip'd their well-fledg'd Wings,
Reduc'd their Hony and pluck'd out their Stings.
Then too some Champion Drone his Voice might rear,
And sound Church-danger in each busie Ear;
While the dull Swarm alarm'd by Pulpit Drum,
Would buz and murmur with a drowsie Hum.

His Grandson next, the valiant EDWARD came,
Alike in Princely Virtues as in Name:
Who rais'd the Grandeur of the British Isle,
And made her gladden'd Vales with Plenty smile.
The mighty Sword in Battel which he wore,
Still seem'd to smoak embru'd with Hostile Gore;
The Gallic Lillies quarter'd in his Shield
Proclaim'd the Victory of Cressy Field;
And shew'd that vanquish'd France had truckled low
To English Pow'r four Centuries ago:
Before great Marlbrough saw the living Light,
Or Annals had recorded Blenheim Fight.

Next the Fifth HENRY march'd Triumphant on,
Whose blazon'd Scutcheon with like Trophies shone:
His Arms did erst with like Success advance,
To scourge the growing Pride of perjur'd France;
To damp her haughty Genius, and restrain
Her bloody Thirst for Universal Reign.
Drawn with an English Strength his Arrows fly,
Obscure the Day and intercept the Sky;
Then fall in ratling Peals upon the Foe,
Who trembles at the Smart and sinks beneath the Blow.
The goary Plains with slaughter'd Heaps bespread
Groan'd, and reluctant bore the weighty Dead:
Where many a luckless Swain half-gasping lay,
And curs'd the Effects of Arbitrary Sway.
With servile Blood enrich'd, the fertile Land
Yields its ripe Clusters to the Victor's Hand;
And all the wealthy Country with its Spoil
O'er-pays the hardy Soldier's willing Toil.
Then, no false Statesman, brib'd with Foreign Gold,
A Peace, inglorious! to the Vanquish'd sold;
Or chain'd the vengeful Sword within its Sheath
To skreen th'implacate Foe from coming Death.
But all with honest Resolutions joyn'd
To crush Tyrannic Pow'r and free Mankind.

ELISA next appear'd, fair Royal Maid,
In Garments Purple as the Morn array'd,
When first the Sun peeps o'er the Eastern Hills
And all the Sky with Golden Glory fills:
Her lovely Eyes with Gladness sparkling bright,
Where-e'er she look'd dispens'd a chearful Light,
In Beams of Joy that pierc'd the gloomy Breast,
And shining calm'd the stormy Mind to Rest.
Few Scraps of Paper in her Hand she bore,
And, all regardless of their Purport, tore:
Romish Decrees and damning Papal Bulls,
With Curses charg'd 'gainst unsubmissive Souls;
There Anathems new-breath'd from Priestly Mouth
Were cancel'd by the kind absolving South;
While unesteem'd the Pardon-Traffic lay,
Or by remorseless Winds was blown away.

Last came the Pillar of the British State,
The richest Blessing of indulgent Fate;
Immortal WILLIAM; who from Belgia's Strand
Cross'd the rough Seas to save a sinking Land:
Who, when Tyrannic Fury rais'd its Head,
And Popish Pestilence began to spread,
Shone thro' the pitchy Air, like some bright Star
That shoots his influencing Beams from far,
And yields the anxious Pilot certain Light
Bewilder'd in the Waste of dampy Night.
Then sportive Liberty for ever young
O'er all the Plains in bloomy Verdure sprung,
And, like the Dew of a soft Vernal Show'r,
Breath'd balmy Sweets thro' ev'ry Rural Bow'r.
Oh Liberty! whose dear enchanting Name
Fans in each human Breast a spritely Flame,
That with the noblest Thoughts the Soul inspires,
And kindles in the Heart the truest Fires;
Each gallant Mind, enliven'd by thy Charms,
Finds Peace in War and sweet Repose in Arms.
For thee Britannia's eager Sons abide
The foaming Surges of the stormy Tide;
Sustain the Fury of the Noon-Day Sun,
And o'er the Death-charg'd Mine intrepid run:
Pleas'd in thy Cause to spend their dearest Blood,
Thy Cause enwoven with their Country's Good.

WILLIAM, by Gallic Forces long rever'd,
The shrilling Music of thy Trumpet heard;
With speed he plung'd amidst the briny Wave,
Fearless of Danger, while intent to save:
Till nimbly born by Oriental Gales,
Which then Propitious fill'd his swelling Sails,
He fix'd his Standard on the British Plains,
And kindly broke the Lawless Tyrant's Chains.
For this, ordain'd a Star by Mighty Jove
Embeam'd with radiant Light he shines above;
Among those ancient Worthies of Renown
Who whilom having worn the English Crown,
Are still appointed, for a certain Space,
In thin Etherial Forms each Day to trace,
Of Albion's pleasant Isle some chosen Place.

And now advancing on the flow'ry Plain,
Mov'd on in Ranks the Visionary Train;
Right comely Forms all clad in rich Array,
And to the new Pavilion shap'd their Way.
These, in whose Face a Regal Semblance shone,
Fill'd with their noble Presence each a Throne.
The Guardian Barons stood encircled round.
In full Assembly on the chequer'd Ground;
The long extended Military Train
Drew up in closer Squares and cover'd all the Plain.

Hard by, a Turfy Mount with Flowrets spread
Mantled in Green uprais'd its double Head:
A Chrystal Spring forth-rilling from the Side
Tumbled adown its Cliffs a purling Tide;
Whose lucid Stream thro' secret Ducts convey'd,
Water'd the budding Herb, and o'er the Meadow stray'd.
High on the forky Ridge two Rev'rend Sires
Their Voices tun'd, and struck their Golden Lyres:
In Notes so sweet that ev'ry list'ning Ear
Was held attent their gentle Strains to hear:
The lingring Winds becalm'd now ceas'd to blow,
And Mole's neglected Urn forgat to flow.
Chaucer the Parent of Britannic Lays
His Brow begirt with everlasting Bays,
All in a Kirtle of green Silk array'd
With gleeful Smile his merry Lesson play'd.
His fellow Bard beside him Spenser sate
And twitch'd the sounding Chords in solemn State:
An Ivy Garland on his Temples hoar
With Sprigs of Lawrel interwove he wore:
Adown his Shoulders hung a Mantle blue
Bedrop'd with Spangles of a Golden Hue;
Of Arms and Elfin Knights he mus'd his Song,
And taught in Mystic Tales the list'ning Throng.

Mean while the great Cabal in Consult sate
Fixing their sage Resolves by wise Debate.
On Britain's Welfare all their Thoughts were turn'd:
For her their Soul with kindest Passions burn'd:
Their Country's Good was once their chiefest Aim,
And still they strive to raise their Country's Fame.
Then from her lofty Throne the Vestal Queen
Enrob'd with Silver Light like Cynthia sheen,
Fair Virtue's Child the bright Elisa rose,
And, as she graceful stood, her Lips these Words disclose.

Princes and Heav'nly Forms, whose chief Delight,
While earthly Rulers, sprung from dealing Right;
Who then enjoy'd your grateful People's Love,
As now you share these happy Realms above;
And still with pious Care intent survey
The thin-spun Plots which peevish Factions lay:
No more henceforth let jealous Fears molest
Your calm Repose, nor mar your peaceful Rest.
Rome, Nurse of Error, Cause of all our Woes,
The bitter Fount whence dire Sedition flows,
Rome and her triple Mischiefs are no more,
Her foul Pollutions and her Idol store.
Those fatal Perjuries that lurk'd erewhile
In ev'ry Temple of this spacious Isle,
Like Night give Place to more prevailing Day,
By Flames of true Religion purg'd away.
At my Command her Pagan Altars fell,
And all her Fury Troop withdrew to Hell;
Where Faux and Garnet rufully repine,
The foul Misguidance of their black Design,
Doom'd to eternal Plots in some Sulphureous Mine.

Britain from Rome while Alpine Rocks divide,
And Neptune rolls between his foamy Tide,
May Paul's Cathedral rear its gilded Head,
And o'er the City stretch a spacious Shade;
From foreign Climes see injur'd People come,
Invoking Aid beneath its ample Dome;
And hospitably form a safe Retreat
From the fierce Flames of persecuting Heat.
May fair Britannia's Adamantine Shield
To suppliant States a kind Protection yield;
While brandishing aloft her Ebon Spear,
She strikes the Tyrant Breast with thrilling Fear.
Far may the Trumpet of extensive Fame
To utmost Coasts resound her dreaded Name;
Where the Midflowing Sea 'twixt Europe pours
His liquid Barrier and the Afric Shores:
Or where the Danube from his distant Source
Glides thro' an hundred Cities in his Course.
Where-ever injur'd Right for Vengeance cries,
Or Innocence oppress'd implores the Skies;
Swift let her sailing Thunders plow the Main,
True Judgment give and lawless Pow'r restrain:
Impartial may her unsheath'd Sword controul
The rugged Warrior of the frozen Pole;
And shake the wrongful Tyrant's lofty Throne
Tho' fix'd beneath the distant burning Zone.

Hail happy Isle! whom Heaven-ruling Jove
Indulgent warms with a distinguish'd Love;
Who on her Bosom melts in balmy Rain
And scatters Golden Plenty o'er the Plain:
With Shades embrown'd adorns her rising Hills,
And opening Vales with kindly Moisture fills.
See teeming Ceres o'er the fertile Land
Pregnant with Grain, a hopeful Prospect stand.
The Shepherd on each Montain's shrubby Top
Varies his mellow Pipe in ev'ry Stop;
While all his woolly Grasers bite their Food,
Or seek the Cool along some banky Flood.
Here, close retir'd within the Sea-girt Shore
Nature profuse wantons with all her Store;
While springly Flow'rs adorn the smiling Earth,
And ripen'd Fruits burst out in kindly Birth,
With Fence of steepy Rocks environ'd round
Secure she hears the dashing Surges sound;
Tho' fretting Billows wash her chalky Sides
And frowning Neptune swells in threat'ning Tides;
Unmov'd she sits with pleasing Look serene,
While at her Feet he breaks and spends his frothy Spleen.

Now, disappointed Zealots may complain,
And in unseemly Grumblings vent their Pain;
Lament the Spurious Elf, their only Hope,
Idol of Slaves and Nursling of the Pope;
Or scar'd with Guilt and cover'd with the Night,
To their Fantastic Monarch urge their Flight;
Like exil'd Vassals justly share his Fate,
Nor longer stay to taint a freeborn State.
Now, now break forth fair Albion's Golden Days,
Illustrious GEORGE, long-wish'd, the Sceptre sways;
Now blissful Liberty reviv'd, again
With thousand Charms enamours all the Plain;
Virtue late languid rears her chearful Head,
And Honour stands in knavish Falshood's stead.
With Joy I now review the great Design,
When I appointed first the Stuart Line;
This Happy Age confirms the Work Divine.
The present Race of Heros shall atone
For all the past Misfortunes of the Throne;
Restore those ancient Laws to Britain's Isle,
Which France by Bribes has broke, or Rome by Guile.

Tho' Rome again should spawn new Vipers forth,
And with her Brood infect the purer North;
Tho' Popery, by me long since struck Dead,
Should bud, like Hydra, with redoubled Head;
Tho' Louis, noted for his faithless Fame,
Should thrice three Times a new Pretender frame;
And cite each Pagan Prince with loud Alarms
To back his Minion's Title with their Arms:
As oft my self with WILLIAM would descend,
And for Britannia's lab'ring Cause contend;
The French, as late on fam'd Ramillia's Field,
Vanquish'd by Protestant Allies should yield;
And Felon Traitors, as the due Reward
Of Foes to Justice, groan beneath her Sword.

Here ceas'd the Queen — and all with joynt Acclaim
The list'ning Circle bless'd her sacred Name:
The stern Plantagenets full lowly bow'd,
And their Consent in courtly Smiles allow'd,
Pleas'd with the soothing Rhet'ric, which assur'd
Old England's Freedom and her Laws secur'd.

Again, the tuneful Bards in Lyric Strain
Model'd their Notes, and warbled o'er the Plain,
Stealing my raptur'd Senses — when behold!
A Cloud Ambrosial skirted round with Gold,
Hov'ring descended from the azure Skies,
And snatch'd the pleasing Vision from my Eyes.

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