1716
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode for the New Year MDCCXVI.

Ode for the New Year MDCCXVI. By N. Rowe.

Nicholas Rowe


A new year's ode by the Whig laureate Nicholas Rowe, who in 1715 succeeded the impoverished Nahum Tate. The poem is in eight irregular stanzas, the seventh of which imitates Milton's "L'Allegro": "Hence then with every anxious care! | Be gone, pale Envy, and thou, cold Despair! | Seek ye out a moody cell, | Where Deceit and Treason dwell." The ode marks the defeat of the Jacobite rebellion of 1715, the victories in Germany won by "Augustus" (the Prince of Wales), and the Prince's arrival in Britain with his consort Caroline; it concludes with an allegorical presentation of Whig policy. Not seen.

The ode was possibly written by John Hughes who was responsible for its successor, as appears from a letter from Rowe to Hughes dated 22 October 1716: "I beg you would be so good as to think of some words for Mr. Eccles and the new year. The entertainment is not to consist of above half an hour in time at most. Three or four airs, with some little recitative between, is what the composer will be glad of. I need not tell you, you are the fittest man in the world for this occasion, by your equal knowledge of music and poetry. I will only beg you now, for friendship's sake, to have compassion on ... N. Rowe" in Duncombe, ed. Letters of Several Eminent Persons (1772, 1773) 1:150-51. Hughes was an early admirer of Milton's companion poems. The New Year's Ode for 1719 was written for Rowe by George Jeffries ("Still may Caesar's reign excel; Sweet the praise of reigning well").

Cibber-Shiels: "It would perhaps be injurious to the memory of Rowe, to dismiss his life, without taking notice of his translations of Lucan, and Quillet's Callipaedia; the versification in both is musical, and well adapted to the subject; nor is there any reason to doubt but that the true meaning of the original, is faithfully preserved throughout the whole. These translations, however, with Mr. Rowe's Occasional Poems, and Birth-day Odes, are but little read, and he is only distinguished as a dramatist; for which we shall not pretend to assign a reason; but we may observe, that a Muse capable of producing so many excellent dramatic pieces, cannot be supposed to have executed any plan indifferently; however, it may charm a reader less than that kind of composition, which is set off on the Theatre, with so many advantages" Lives of the Poets (1753) 3:284.

John Duncombe: "Considering the humane and friendly disposition of Mr. Hughes, it is probable, that, in compliance with this request, the new year's ode for 1717 was written by him. Though Cibber, most certainly, disclaimed all assistance, it was not unusual for his predecessors to call in auxiliaries on such occasions. The new year's ode for 1720 was, in like manner, written by George Jeffreys, esq; at the request of Mr. Eusden, his fellow-collegian, then poet-laureat" Letters of Several Eminent Persons (1772, 1773) 1:151n.

Samuel Johnson: "Rowe is chiefly to be considered as a tragick writer and a translator. In his attempt at comedy he failed so ignominiously that his Biter is not inserted in his works; and his occasional poems and short compositions are rarely worthy of either praise or censure, for they seem the casual sports of a mind seeking rather to amuse its leisure than to exercise its powers" "Life of Rowe" in Lives of the English Poets (1779-81); ed. Hill (1905) 2:75.



Hail to thee, glorious rising Year,
With what uncommon grace thy days appear!
Comely art thou in thy prime,
Lovely child of hoary Time;
Where thy golden footsteps tread,
Pleasures all around thee spread;
Bliss and beauty grace thy train;
Muse, strike the lyre to some immortal strain.
But, oh! what skill, what master hand,
Shall govern or constrain the wanton band?
Loose like my verse they dance, and all without command.
Images of fairest things
Crowd about the speaking strings;
Peace and sweet prosperity,
Faith and cheerful loyalty,
With smiling love and deathless poesy.

Ye scowling shades who break away,
Well do ye fly and shun the purple day,
Every fiend and fiend-like form,
Black and sullen as a storm,
Jealous Fear, and false Surmise,
Danger with her dreadful eyes,
Faction, Fury, all are fled,
And bold Rebellion hides her daring head.
Behold, thou gracious Year, behold,
To whom thy treasures all thou shalt unfold,
For whom thy whiter days were kept from times of old!
See thy George, for this is he!
On his right hand waiting free,
Britain and fair Liberty,
Every good is in his face,
Every open honest grace.
Thou great Plantagenet; immortal be thy race!

See! the sacred scyon springs,
See the glad promise of a line of kings!
Royal youth! what bard divine,
Equal to praise like thine,
Shall in some exalted measure
Sing thee, Britain's dearest treasure?
Who her joy in thee shall tell,
Who the sprightly note shall swell,
His voice attempering to the tuneful shell?
Thee Audenard's recorded field,
Bold in thy brave paternal band, beheld,
And saw with hopeless heart thy fainting rival yield:
Troubled he, with sore dismay,
To thy stronger fate gave way,
Safe beneath thy noble scorn,
Wingy-footed was he borne,
Swift as the fleeting shades upon the golden corn.

What valour, what distinguish'd worth,
From thee shall lead the coming ages forth?
Crested helms and shining shields,
Warriors fam'd in foreign fields;
Hoary heads with olive bound,
Kings and lawgivers renown'd;
Crowding still they rise anew,
Beyond the reach of deep prophetic view.
Young Augustus! never cease!
Pledge our present and our future peace,
Still pour the blessings forth, and give thy great increase.
All the stock that fate ordains
To supply succeeding reigns,
Whether glory shall inspire
Gentler arts or martial fire,
Still the fair descent shall be
Dear to Albion, all, like thee,
Patrons of righteous rules, and foes to tyranny.

Ye golden lights who shine on high,
Ye potent planets who ascend the sky,
On the opening year dispense
All your kindest influence;
Heavenly powers be all prepar'd
For our Carolina's guard;
Short and easy be the pains,
Which for a nation's weal the heroine sustains.
Britannia's angel, be thou near
The growing race is thy peculiar care,
Oh spread thy sacred wing above the royal fair,
George by thee was wafted o'er
To the long expected shore:
None presuming to withstand
Thy celestial armed hand,
While his sacred head to shade,
The blended cross on high thy silver shield display'd.

But, oh! what other form divine
Propitious near the hero seems to shine!
Peace of mind, and joy serene,
In her sacred eyes are seen,
Honour binds her mitred brow,
Faith and truth beside her go,
With zeal and pure devotion bending low.
A thousand storms around her threat,
A thousand billows roar beneath her feet,
While, fix'd upon a rock, she keeps her sable seat.
Still in sign of sure defence,
Trust and mutual confidence,
On the monarch, standing by,
Still she bends her gracious eye,
Nor fears her foes' approach, while Heaven and he are nigh.

Hence then with every anxious care!
Be gone, pale Envy, and thou, cold Despair!
Seek ye out a moody cell,
Where Deceit and Treason dwell;
There repining, raging, still
The idle air with curses fill;
There blast the pathless wild, and the bleak northern hill;
There you exile vainly moan;
There where, with murmurs horrid as your own,
Beneath the sweeping winds, the bending forests groan,
But thou, Hope, with smiling cheer,
Do thou bring the ready year;
See the Hours! a chosen band!
See with jocund looks they stand,
All in their trim array, and waiting for command.

The welcome train begins to move,
Hope leads increase and chaste connubial love:
Flora sweet her bounty spreads,
Smelling gardens, painted meads;
Ceres crowns the yellow plain;
Pan rewards the shepherd's pain;
All is plenty, all is wealth,
And on the balmy air sits rosy-colour'd health.
I hear the mirth, I hear the land rejoice,
Like many waters swells the pealing noise,
While to their monarch, thus, they raise the public voice.
"Father of thy country, hail!
Always every where prevail;
Pious, valiant, just, and wise,
Better suns for thee arise,
Purer breezes fan the skies,
Earth in fruits and flowers is drest,
Joy abounds in every breast,
For thee thy people all, for thee the year is blest."

[Chalmers's English Poets (1810) 9:478-79]