1751
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[To Lady Langham, Widow of Sir John Langham, Bt.]

Education, a Poem: in two Cantos. Written in imitation of the Style and Manner of Spenser's Fairy Queen. By Gilbert West, Esq. Canto the First.

Gilbert West


The inscription to Lady Langham, the poet's mother, prefacing Education is in four Spenserians: "And THOU, whose pious and maternal Care, | The Substitute of heav'nly Providence, | With tendrest Love my Orphan Life did rear, | And train me up to manly Strength and Sense." Since the theme of Education involves displacing the Latin classics with domestic literature, it is perhaps appropriate for the poem to dedicate the work to the one who taught him his "mother" tongue.

Hilario: "This canto is inscribed to lady Langham, who, it seems, had the care of the author's education in his orphan years. This introduction consists of five stanzas, and contrary to the practice of most other writers, the last introductory stanza contains the moral of the succeeding work" Magazine of Magazines 2 (April 1751) 367.

Elizabeth Montagu to Mrs. Boscawen: "I saw at Wickham [Gilbert West] the miracle of the Moral World, a Christian Poet, an humble philosopher, a great genius, without contempt of those who have none" 1750; in Emily J. Climenson, Elizabeth Montagu (1906) 1:278.

John Duncombe: "It should have been observed that Lady Langham, to whom this poem is inscribed, was mother of the author, Gilbert West, Esq. The objections that were made (and justly) to the obsolete words occasioned, I have been told, its never being finished" "Dodsley's Collection" Gentleman's Magazine 50 (March 1780) 124.



O Goodly DISCIPLINE! from Heav'n y-sprong!
Parent of Science! Queen of Arts refin'd!
To whom the Graces, and the Nine belong:
O! bid those Graces, in fair Chorus join'd
With each bright Virtue that adorns the Mind!
O bid the Muses, thine harmonious Train,
Who by thy Aid erst humaniz'd Mankind,
Inspire, direct, and moralize the Strain,
That doth essay to teach thy Treasures how to gain!

And THOU, whose pious and maternal Care,
The Substitute of heav'nly Providence,
With tendrest Love my Orphan Life did rear,
And train me up to manly Strength and Sense;
With mildest Awe, and virtuous Influence,
Directing my unpractic'd wayward Feet
To the smooth Walks of Truth and Innocence;
Where Happiness heart-felt, Contentment sweet,
Philosophy divine aye hold their blest Retreat,

THOU, most belov'd, most honour'd, most rever'd!
Accept this Verse, to thy large Merit due!
And blame me not, if by each Tye endear'd,
Of Nature, Gratitude, and Friendship true,
The whiles this moral Thesis I pursue,
And trace the Plan of goodly Nuture o'er,
I bring thy modest Virtues into View;
And proudly boast that from thy precious Store,
Which erst enrich'd my Heart, I drew this sacred Lore.

And thus, I ween, thus shall I best repay
The valued Gifts, thy careful Love bestow'd;
If imitating THEE, well as I may,
I labour to diffuse th' important Good;
'Till this great Truth by all be understood;
"That all the pious Duties which we owe,
Our Parents, Friends, our Country and our God;
The Seeds of every Virtue here below,
From Discipline alone, and early Culture grow."

[pp. 3-5]