1739
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Epithalamium. John Dodd, Esq; and Miss St. Leger.

A Collection of Original Poems and Translations. By John Whaley.

Rev. Sneyd Davies


An amusingly self-conscious performance: "There ent'ring, thrice | She [the Muse] hemm'd, thrice blest the household with a sneeze, | Prelude of happiness to come." The marriage of John Dodd to Miss St. Leger (if that was the occasion) took place 4 September 1739; the poem was widely disseminated when reprinted in Dodsley's Collection of Poems (1758). In Whaley's volume Davies's poems are ascribed only to "a Friend."

John Duncombe: "Epithalamion, by the same, was, I suppose, on the marriage, at which he assisted, of his friend John Dodd, Esq. of Swallowfield, Berks, to Miss Jennings, one of the sisters of the present Sir Philip Jennings Clerke. 'A Scene at Swallowfield,' by the same, was inserted in the Gent. Mag. for 1779" "Dodsley's Collection" Gentleman's Magazine 50 (April 1780) 173.

George Hardinge: "A the same Eton school he formed an acquaintance with Mr. Dodd, afterwards of Swallow-field-place in Berkshire, and a Member of Parliament for the Borough of Reading. — They continued their acquaintance at King's, where Mr. Dodd was a Gentleman Commoner.... He was a favourite of many ingenious, and clever men, as well as of others, who were exemplary in worth, and were of high rank. Lord Fane described him as a fine horse ill broke-in. He was generous, open-hearted, and convivial, — friendly, and hospitable to a fault" in Nichols, Illustrations (1817-58) 1:502.

Robert H. Case: "I have remarked that the Epithalamion was for the most part replaced by a cold congratulatory poem, a poem invaded by politics and generalities; but even where retaining its name and shadow, it became frigid and artificial, intolerably refined. The taste of its writers was, as described in an appalling line in our first blank verse Epithalamium, the work of a Mr. D—, and first published in Dodsley's Collection of Poems, 1758: 'Bridegroom, thy taste is elegant indeed!'" English Epithalamies (1896) xliii.

Sneyd Davies also published imitations of Horace and a "Rhapsody, to Milton." His description of an indolent youth in "To the Hon. and Rev.—" sounds a Spenserian note: "Sithence no Fairy sights, no quick'ning Ray, | Nor stir of Pulse, nor Objects to entice | Abroad the Spirits" Hoxie Neale Fairchild, Religious Trends in English Poetry (1939) 1:407.



Ye Nymphs, that from Diana's Sport retir'd,
Yon Forest leave awhile, and love to haunt
The bord'ring Vallies; saw ye, as they pass'd,
A chosen Pair, the Glory of your Plains,
Array'd in Youth's full Bloom, and Nature's Prime?
Saw ye the Glance of Beauty, when the Fair,
Quiver'd with Charms, and by the Graces dress'd,
March'd on: with Joy the Bridegroom flush'd, beyond
What liveliest Fancy, unpossess'd, can dream?

Heard ye the Musick of the Groves around
Warbling, while Choirs of Gratulation rung
From ev'ry Spray; and Nightingales, soft tun'd,
In Notes peculiar trill'd, the Nuptial Song!
Such as in Neighb'ring Windsor's fav'rite Shade
They chaunt; and, if their Handel's Ear be true,
No where on Silence steal with Lay so sweet.

Auspicious Omens brood on the fair Hour!
Did ever Hymen's Look more fresh appear,
Or his bright Vest with deeper Yellow flow?
The Vest that on Occasions high and rare
Pontifical he wears, when Hearts sincere
Combine; of healthy Cheek, and sparkling Eye
As in the State of Nature, ere his Shafts
By Gold were blunted. How the blazing Torch,
Fann'd by Love's Pinion, sheds unusual Fire!
Lo! by the Trail of Light, he left behind,
As from the Shrine his Jubilee return'd,
The Muse, invited Guest, attends her Theme
Right to the Nuptial Bow'r. There ent'ring, thrice
She hemm'd, thrice blest the Threshold with a Sneeze,
Prelude of Happiness to come. Her Lyre
She strung, — a friendly, voluntary Strain.

"Hail (she began) distinguish'd Pair! how fit
To join in wedded Love, each other's Choice!
Bridegroom, thy Taste is elegant indeed,
And Fingers nice, that on some sunny Bank
In Beauty's Garden cull'd so fair a Flow'r,
To thine transplanted from her native Soil.
Cherish besure thy blooming Charge; keep off
Each Blast unkind, and Zephyr's Gale alone
Blow there, and genial Suns for ever smile.
Who not applaud thy Vow? hereafter who
Dispute thy Palate, judging and exact,
Owner of curious Bliss? — Nor Thou, fair Bride,
Repine, nor homeward cast thy longing Eye;
'Twas time to sever from the Virgin Choir.
What Joy in Loneliness to waste the Hours
Unfruitful? see, hard by, Loddona's Stream
Cold and inactive creep along; her Face
Shaded with pensive Willow, — till anon
Married to jovial Thames, briskly she glides
O'er many a laughing Mead.— 'Tis Nature wills
Such Union: blest Society! where Souls
Move, as in Dance, to Melody divine
Fit Partners. (How unlike the noisy Broils
Of wedded Strife!) Hence Friendship's gen'rous Glow
At Love's high Noon; and hence the sober Flame
Steady, as Life declines. — All Comforts hence
Of Child and Parent, strongest, dearest Ties!
Think not the fair Original design'd
To flourish and be lost. The World expects
Some Copies to adorn another Age.—
Thank the kind Gods; Be happy, live and love.

[pp. 242-45]