Undergraduate verse by Richard Farmer, later famous as a Shakespeare scholar and book collector. The poem imitates Milton, though perhaps the flower catalogue suggests an early interest in Elizabethan poetry.
George Dyer: "Dr. Farmer is only known as a Commentator on Shakespear. The following lines, written by him, when a young man, shew that he might have been a poet, had he cultivated his talent. They are extracted from the Gratulationes et Luctus published at Cambridge in 1755. As the original is in the hands of few people, the ensuing excerpt cannot fail of being acceptable. They are addressed to Thomas Holles, Duke of Newcastle, when he visited the university, for the purpose of authorizing the repair and enlargement of the public library" Monthly Magazine 17 (February 1804) 37-38.
Joseph Cradock: "It was thought strange at the time that, as Mr. Garrick always expressed a desire of being introduced to Farmer, I should rather cautiously avoid their meeting at my house; but the truth was, I knew that Garrick duly estimated his Essay on the Learning of Shakspeare, and I feared that his coarse manners would sink him in the estimation of the great Actor. Farmer, to speak plainly, absolutely mouthed a sentence, as dogs mouth a bone, and he was not always averse from freely reciting passages of poetry in a mixed company" Literary and Miscellaneous Memoirs (1828) 1:36-37.
W. Davenport Adams: "Richard Farmer, D.D. (b. 1735, d. 1797), wrote An Essay on the Learning of Shakespeare, the first edition of which appeared in 1766, the second in 1767, and the third in 1789. It was reprinted" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 218.
Arthur Sherbo: "There is but one extant published undergraduate poetic effusion by Farmer, a poem published in a collection compiled for the occasion of the laying of the foundation stone for the east front of the university library by the Duke of Newcastle, Chancellor of the University, on 30 April 1755.... George Dyer, a prejudiced judge because of his friendship with Farmer, wrote of Farmer's effort that it was 'very poetical, and to me it appeared to surpass every one I read in that collection for classical elegance,' an opinion he later qualified, 'Not setting up for the Arbiter Elegantarium of every thing in the Cambridge poems addressed to the Duke of Newcastle, I allude, in a way of comparison, only to the few copies of verses I have read in that collection'" Richard Farmer, Master of Emmanuel College (1992) 31.
Sherbo describes an extant volume of MS. verse from this period, including a tragedy in blank verse.
Haste, young-eyed May! and gently pour
From bosom green thy balmy store:
Bid violets paint their azure beds,
And daffodils with bending heads,
And tulip gilt, and primrose fair
Sweetly catch the laughing air.
Bring Joy along, thy eldest born,
And Plenty with her flowing horn;
Whilst Birds of many a various wing
To Cam in wildest woodnotes sing,
Who sees approach his sedgy Throne
The State's great Patron, and his own.
Hail, PELHAM by whose fav'rite hand
Peace yet strews olive round the land:
See, EUROPE's groans betray despair;
Her trembling Ballance asks thy care:
And if no human art can guide
The pendant weight on either side,
If sacred GEORGE at length shall cease
To bid the world be blest in Peace,
Of crowns in vain shall Lewis dream;
His scale shall mount, and kick the beam.
Whence then, Britannia, the big tear,
Lest Song detain thy Patriot's ear?
His noble breast at once is free
To guard the well-lov'd Muse, and Thee.
See, Learning marks his chosen way
With many a beam of early day;
And louring Ignorance gives place
To Science, with averted Face;
Whilst PELHAM bids the column rise,
And tell his bounty to the skies.
Now smiles old Cam, and scatter'd finds
His Gothic dust the sport of winds;
Nor envy Isis, who erewhile
Boasted her Mausolean Pile.
On Domes depends not PELHAM's name:
But be They founded on His fame!
Haste, ye Muses, to prepare,
Sweet flowrets for your Guardian's hair;
Beneath His banner safe engage,
And brave the Vandals of the age.
For Him your choicest lawrels bring,
Who lifts ev'n Me on Fancy's wing:
For Him let Nature's face be gay,
All be mirth, and holyday!
But when the ruddy Eve steals on,
And tips the grove with mantle brown;
When swings the solemn Curfeu slow,
Far absent be, thou Bird of woe!
Nor close the day with hoarseness drear,
This fairest daughter of the year!