1751
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Untitled, "'Twas at the solemn hour when ghosts repair."]

Academiae Cantabrigiensis Luctus in Obitum Frederici Celsissimi Walliae Principis.

Sir James Marriott


An exercise in academic gothic: James Marriott constructs a visionary spectacle on patriotic themes. Assisted by patronage at Cambridge and at court, Marriott went on to have a splendid career in the law, serving two terms in Parliament and becomeing master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.

Nathan Drake: "His poetry, consisting principally of lyric effusions, was originally circulated for private amusement, but was afterward introduced into Dodsley's Collection, and into Bell's Fugitive Poetry; it displays some pleasing and well-conceived imagery, in metre correct and polished" Essays Illustrative of the Rambler (1809-10) 2:298.

John Mitford: "Sir James Marriot, Knt. Master of Trinity Hall, 1764. He is mentioned in Gray's Letters to Nicholls at pp. 60, 65, 67, 82. He continued Master for nearly forty years, and was succeeded by Sir William Wynne, Knt. There are some verses by him in Dodsley's Collection, iv. p. 285, and several small pieces in Bell's Fugitive Poetry. See also Nichols's Illustrations of Literature, vol. i. p. 134" Correspondence of Gray and Mason, ed. John Mitford (1853) 412n.



'Twas at the solemn hour when ghosts repair
To earth, and glide along the midnight air;
When all was hush'd, except a bell, whose toll
Rung the sad knell of some departing soul;
Musing I lay on life's uncertain date,
And the vain glories of this mortal state,
Then sunk to rest, but knew no calm repose
Still doom'd to scenes of visionary woes.

Along those gloomy isles I seem'd to tread,
Where sleep entomb'd Britannia's mighty dead;
Sudden the distant, plaintive echoes found
From vaulted roofs, and hollow tombs around;
Near and more near, the doubling voices rise,
And gleaming tapers strike my wond'ring eyes:
At length an awful train appear'd in view,
All cloth'd in flowing vests of snowy hue;
Slow, solemn, sad, they trod, a tuneful throng,
And swell'd in lengthen'd notes the melancholy song;
While mournful sounds the organ's breath inspire
Responsive pealing to the pausing quire:
Stretch'd on a bier, in ermine robes array'd,
All pale in death, a form majestick laid;
With royal arms the pall embroider'd o'er,
Soft as they trod, the garter'd nobles bore,
At each slow step they drop'd a silent tear,
And sighing crowds of mourners clos'd the rear;
Methought as near the sad procession drew,
The marble urns all sweat a clammy dew,
Loud jar the brazen gates, the statues nod,
And awful tremblings rock the dread abode:
By time-worn vaults, and mansions of the dead,
Pensive I saw the weeping orders tread,
Then sigh'd, and woke; and now the morning came,
The morning big with melancholy fame,
Our flowing tears the general loss deplore,
The Friend, the Prince, the Patriot breathes no more.

Weep, Britain, weep in agonizing woe,
And rend the laurel from thy mournful brow;
Lo, where in Death's encircling arms he lies;
With him thy pride, with him thy glory dies.
'Tis thus in vain to transient life we trust,
And each fair hope falls wither'd in the dust.
O, if to bear a mild, a generous heart,
To act each social, and each patriot part,
Fill ev'ry scene with dignity and ease,
In conscious merit ever sure to please;
To be whate'er the great, the good admire,
The faithful husband, and the tender sire;
Ardent to gain a nation's just applause,
And ever active in the publick cause;
If, Britons, these can claim the general tear,
Approach, and pour the grateful tribute here.

Fate, be thy darts at vulgar bosoms hurl'd,
The shame, the refuse of a selfish world,
Mean souls, who feel no int'rest but their own,
Of wealth who bow before the golden throne,
Rich in the tears from orphans eyes that flow;
Great, and triumphant in a nation's woe:
But know, dread pow'r, fair virtue cannot die,
She scorns the earth, and seeks her parent skie;
Urns like their dead shall moulder into dust,
And time tread down the monumental bust,
The stars must fall, the heav'ns be wrap'd in fire,
And Death himself by his own shafts expire;
Crown'd with immortal youth shall virtue bloom,
Defy the stroke, and triumph o'er the tomb.

Farewel, great Soul; O may thy shade be blest,
And seraphs waft thee to eternal rest.
Farewel, great Soul; till nature's second birth,
Secure we trust thy relicts to the earth;
There, 'till the trump shall rend th' astonish'd skies,
And with loud echoes bid the dead arise,
Sleep undisturb'd, amid that glorious train,
Whose honour'd bones yon hallow'd shrines contain,
The laurel'd bard, the philosophic sage,
Whoe'er delighted, or inform'd an age,
Warriors, who bled in freedom's glorious cause,
Patriots, whose counsels sav'd expiring laws,
Kings, whose good deeds still grateful nations tell,
Who liv'd belov'd like thee, like thee lamented fell.

What tho' thy tomb no martial trophy boasts
For ravag'd nations, and for slaughter'd hosts;
What tho' no crouching captives frown in stone,
And bound beneath thy statue seem to groan;
Yet shall where'er thy peaceful ashes sleep,
The friends of Britain and of Freedom weep;
Each peaceful Virtue shall thy grave surround,
And musing Silence watch the holy ground;
There too the Muse her choicest wreaths shall bring,
There to thy soul her soothing requiem sing,
There to thy fame with gen'rous labour raise
The time-defying pyramid of praise.

But, O! if ought departed spirits know,
Or heav'nly minds are touch'd with things below;
If those, who erst to loftiest views aspir'd
With love of fame, of publick virtue fir'd,
Yet urge the glorious task, ordain'd to wait
Ministrant guardians of a nations fate;
Still as thy Britain's Genius may'st thou stand,
And o'er her kingdoms stretch thy saving hand,
Far from her shores avert with watchful care,
The flames of Discord, and the rage of War,
Give Peace to rule for ever o'er her plain,
And spread her empire o'er the boundless main;
So may kind Heaven propitious hear our prayers,
And crown thy Father's life with length of years;
And when he late the debt of nature pays,
Mature in honours, as mature in days;
Then may thy Offspring to the throne arise,
And bless, like him, like thee, a nation's eyes;
With equal footsteps tread the paths of fame,
And join the Patriot's to the Monarch's name.
Thus long as round Britannia's sounding shore
His hoary waves embracing Ocean pours,
Thy fair descendants shall the scepter sway,
Shall teach the willing Briton to obey,
From age to age a bright succession shine,
And Fate and Freedom guard the BRUNSWIC line.

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