1751
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

["Elegy on the Death of Prince Frederick."]

Epicedia Oxoniensia in Obitum Celsissimi et Desideratissimi Frederici Principis Walliae.

Rev. Thomas Warton


Five irregular Spenserians (ababcC) that begin with allusions to Milton's Lycidas and Spenser's Astrophel, and conclude with an allusion to James Thomson's Patriot dramas, patronized by Prince of Wales. The poem was later titled "Elegy on the Death of Prince Frederick" and considerably revised; it was prominently placed at the head of his Poems (1777). The opening allusions point to the ceremonial role Thomas Warton would assume at Oxford even before he was appointed laureate. In the original printing, however, Warton chooses to remain "ignoto," signing himself "John Whetham, M.A."

European Magazine: "In all it will be found, that his mind was full of poetical and beautiful images. The Encaenia, and public Collection of Verses of the University of Oxford upon their Marriage, and the Birth of the Prince of Wales, and other loyal subjects, were never in such esteem, either for elegy or congratulation, as when Mr. Warton contributed to them; and I remember at that time, it was natural to turn chiefly to his performances in the above work" "Tribute to Mr. Warton" in European Magazine 29 (February 1796) 78.

Richard Mant: "It was in 1751 that he contributed to the Oxford collection of verses on the death of Frederic, Prince of Wales, a copy of Latin hexameters in his own name, and his Elegy in that of John Whetham, fellow-commoner of Trinity College" Memoir of Thomas Warton in Poetical Works (1802) 1:xxiv.



O for the Warblings of the Doric Oate,
That wept the Youth deep-whelm'd in Ocean's Tide;
Or for the mournful Muse, whose varying Note
Chanted how dear the laurell'd Sydney dy'd:
Then should my Woes in worthy Strain be sung,
And with due Cypress-Wreath thy Herse, O FRED'RICK, hung!

But tho, my novice-hands are all too weak
To grasp the tuneful Reed, my Voice unskill'd
The graceful Words of Poesy to speak,
Tho' rude the Cadence of my Wood-Notes wild,
Yet shall not tend'rest Duty bid me tell
How great, how just, how good the matchless FRED'RICK fell?

How well he knew to leave the loftier Scene,
To throw the Pomp of purple State aside,
Led by calm Thought to Bow'rs of Eglantine,
And high-arch'd Walks on Thames's sacred Side;
To loose himself in Landscapes lone and still,
Where Contemplation sate on Cliefden's beech-clad Hill?

How lock'd in pure-ey'd Concord's golden Band,
With his bless'd Bride, thro' Wedlock's hallow'd Ways
With even Step he walk'd, and constant Hand,
His Temples binding with domestic Bays;
How in each Science most sublime he shone,
And crop'd the fairest Flow'rs of silver Helicon?

How to sweet Poesy, all-bounteous Lord,
He never barr'd his princely Palace-gate,
But bade his Thomson share the regal-Board,
With classic Converse seas'ning empty State;
Hence felt the exulting Bard a mighty Rage,
With bolder Buskin hence, he dar'd to tread the Stage.

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