1737
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Essay on Nobility. To His Grace the Duke of Somerset.

Essays. I. On Nobility. To His Grace the Duke of Somerset. II. On the Ancient and Modern State of Britain, and on the Posture of Affairs in Europe in the Years 1734, and 1735. To His Grace the Duke of Marlborough.

Thomas Cooke


Edmund Spenser ("fruitful of invention") appears in a catalogue of Cambridge worthies in the conclusion of this brief but fawning poem by the Whig poet Thomas "Hesiod" Cook. The devoted university shall acknowledge its patron "While flows the Cam, and Sciences remain, | Till Fish forsake the Sea, and Herds the Plain." The elderly Duke of Somerset, one of the vainest creatures to ever walk the earth, was undoubtedly pleased with the flattery.

Joseph Mawbey: "At an early age, notwithstanding Lord Pembroke's friendship, he must have been thrown upon the town for a livelihood. He was all his life long a strenuous assertor of Revolution principles; and therefore he soon got connected with Tickell, Philips, Welsted, Steele, Dennis, and others, whose political opinions agreed with his own. He wrote in some Weekly Journals of the time, and was considered as a man of great learning and good abilities" "Anecdotes of Thomas Cooke" in Gentleman's Magazine 61 (December 1791) 1091.



Glory by few is rightly understood,
What's truly glorious must be greatly good;
And what is glorious we may noble call;
The Deed is glorious, and 'tis noble all.

Princes with Titles may their Creatures pay
For Acts too shameful for the Face of Day;
Heralds with Nobles may their Names enroll;
But who can give the Wretch a noble Soul?
Patents may pass to stile a Mortal Jove,
Or call a wealthy Hag the Queen of Love:
In such a Prince's Smiles himself who prides,
That makes a Noble of the Beast he rides?
If Nero reigns, of Honours he's the Spring,
Or he that knights his Beef, the pedant King.

Kings who of Honour nicely scan the Laws
No Nobles make for an ignoble Cause;
Men justly brave, and greatly good, they chuse,
And Honours give where they no Honour lose;
Our Seymours such, our Piercys such, of old;
And such our Kings who knew the Dross from Gold.

They who of long Descent are Nobles born,
Should look on all that's base with Eyes of Scorn;
When the bright List of their great Sires they see,
Thence they should learn what they themselves should be,
By them with Emulation fir'd, should strive
To keep the Honours of their House alive:
As in a Train the virtuous Fires should run,
Enriching ev'ry Vein from Son to Son:
They, like the Blaze that mounts to meet the Sky,
Should catch th' Aethereal Flame, nor let it dye.

In you, my Lord, the noble Soul is seen,
That flys, like Saints from Sin, from all that's mean,
That dignifys the Titles which you wear,
And shews what's truly great from what you are:
Without the least Advantages of Birth,
Nobles like you are Nobles of the Earth;
Virtues like thine demand the World's Regard;
And of those Virtues Glory's the Reward.
Glory's in England, Rome, and Greece, the same,
Tho chang'd the Clime, the Person, and the Name.
What Xenophon to Acts of Glory fir'd,
When Rome was great, her Atticus inspir'd:
Foremost in Arms behold th' illustrious Greek,
And lo! in all he writes the Graces speak;
In Arms, in Arts, in Virtue, well approv'd,
Friend to the Masters of those Arts he lov'd.
In troubled Times the noble Roman stood
The sure Asylum of the injur'd good;
Regardless he of Tyrants or their Pow'r,
The Wise were welcome to his learned Bow'r;
The Academic and the Stoic Sage
There reason'd calm amidst a ruffled Age:
Oppress'd by Fortune and the Weight of Years,
Dearer the Roman Orator appears,
To him, than Caesar, who usurp'd his Sway,
In Pride of Empire and his Blaze of Day.

What in th' illustrious Greek we noble see
Is noble, or in Atticus, or thee:
Thy gen'rous Views to future Days extend,
The Friend of Virtue, and of Arts the Friend.
Where Cam, in sacred Song immortal, flows,
Where Barrow, and his great Disciple rose,
Where Spenser, fruitful of Invention, sung,
Where Milton first his Lyre, and Dryden, strung,
Where meditated Lee the tragic Strain,
And Johnson first indulg'd his comic Vein,
Where Tillotson, that Tree of Wisdom, grew,
And Clarke, who ev'ry Branch of Knowledge knew,
That Seat of Learning shall your Bounty bless,
Shall you their Patron and their Sire confess,
While flows the Cam, and Sciences remain,
Till Fish forsake the Sea, and Herds the Plain.

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