1755
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Untitled, "The Sun, reposing in the Ocean Bed."]

Carmina ad nobilissimum Thomam Holles ducem de Newcastle inscripta, cum academiam Cantabrigiensem bibliothecae restituendae causa inviseret prid. kalend. Maias, MDCCLV.

Rev. William Hayward Roberts


The river Cam arises from the depths to remind the poet of distinguished Cambridge students of old; here "O'er fairy Lands enchanted Spenser stray'd; | And gallant Prior woo'd th' Aonian Maid" p. 21. William Hayward Roberts, later a provost of Eton College, was an imitator of Milton and a respected author sacred poetry.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "William Hayward Roberts, d. 1791, educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge, was for some time Under-Master at Eton; became Provost of King's College in 1781; Chaplain to the King, and Rector of Farnham Royal, Bucks." Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 2:1820.

Robert Southey later acknowledged William Hayward Roberts's Judah Restored (1774) as an early influence — Thomas Campbell included extensive selections from it in his Specimens of the British Poets (1819).



The Sun, reposing in the Ocean Bed,
Had painted all th' Horizon round with red;
The modest Eve, with solemn pace, and still,
Stept from the summit of yon cloud-crown'd Hill:
Fast by the banks of Cam I rov'd along,
And idly mus'd some Time-beguiling Song.
Mute were the Zephyrs, and the Sky was fair;
No giddy noise disturb'd the silent Air:
Save that the Linnet, on a neighbouring Spray,
In sweetest Numbers chirp'd her artless lay.
When lo! the Streams in parting circles spread,
To see their Genius raise his awful head,
Immortal Cam: A Sage advanc'd in years,
Tho' flush'd with Youth his purple cheek appears:
Round his fair brow the verdant Osiers creep,
And matted Sedge, the Laurel of the Deep.
He shakes his Tresses, dank with dripping dews,
And speaks in Accents, such as Mortals use.

"Say, canst thou tune thy reed, and at thy side
These Streams neglected flow, unnotic'd glide?
Streams, which like fabled Helicon, infuse
Strength to the thought, and Fancy to the Muse.
Rise, rise, my Son, and in the trump of Fame
Blow the full praises of my slighted Name;
Sing the gay fields, where Science loves to rove,
Nymph of the plain, and Dryad of the grove.

"Let mad Sedition's Votaries never cease,
Sworn Foes to Virtue, Liberty, and Peace:
Let them in Faction's Rites the Night prolong,
Their Learning, Politics; their Prayers, a Song.
Far other cares my letter'd Sons employ,
Not Mirth's mad revels, but substantial joy.
No idiot brawls distract the madding brain,
Or shade calm Science in her antient reign.
Here, far from Crouds, she treads the vale of Life,
Nor plunges in the waves of Civil strife:
Digs the rich Ore from Nature's deepest mine,
Pours her large tribute at fair Freedom's shrine;
Freedom, which equal bounds at once divide
From servile Meanness, and licentious Pride.

"Oft in my rush-built Grot, the Nereids round
Attentive list'ning to the well-known sound,
Pleas'd I recount the Glories of my Line;
Where Statesmen, Sages, Poets, Patriots shine:
Tell first how Bacon's self-illumin'd Mind
From Error's dross Philosophy refin'd;
Nor aw'd by Prejudice, nor Slave to fame,
Scar'd at the Giant Phantom of a Name.
Then tell how Newton's all-discerning Eye
Pierc'd the vast Regions of the boundless Sky:
Saw in just course th' unerring Bodies run;
Wheel'd the bright Planets round their Central Sun;
Each Part united to the wondrous Whole;
And told the lawless Comet where to roll.

"Here Milton boldly swept the sounding Lyre,
And mix'd a Seraph's with a Poet's Fire.
Here did great Dryden's haughty Genius rove;
Here tender Cowley sooth'd the soul to love:
O'er fairy Lands enchanted Spenser stray'd;
And gallant Prior woo'd th' Aonian Maid.

But oh! what shouts from cave to cave rebound,
How every sweet-voic'd Nymph return'd the sound,
Whene'er Britannia's list'ning Senate hung
On Walpole's Art, or great Newcastle's Tongue.
All hail, thou last, and best of all my train!
Hail to these walls, where Peace, and Science reign!
Go, pluck, my Sons, the Laurel's learned bough,
And weave a chaplet for his Patriot brow.
Tis he, who stoops your loyal Vows to hear,
And wafts your Incense up to BRUNSWICK's ear.
Rais'd by his hand, (O spare their tender years,
Propitious Fate, nor bath my Urn with tears!)
Thro' dark futurity methinks I trace
Of Granta's Son's a long, illustrious race.
Some with wise skill like him shall guide the State;
Some on their Shoulders prop the important Weight:
While others, far from Glory's thorny road,
'Shall look thro' Nature up to Nature's God.'

To Hardwick's Name the joyful Strains prolong;
Swell the sweet Pipe, and tune the festal Song.
What tho', by Fate denied, my blameless page
Boasts not the Glories of his tender age;
Still in my cause he burns with equal fire,
Adopted Offspring of the tuneful Choir:
With Pelham, mine, as England's Weal defends,
The first of Patriots, and the best of Friends.

But GEORGE's Praise let every Tongue proclaim:
To Granta sacred is a GEORGE's Name.
Lo! by the great Example fir'd, the Son
Prepares to finish what the Sire begun.
I see, I see the lofty Dome arise,
And rear her tow'ring Columns to the Skies.
While o'er these Plains exhaustless Streams shall glide,
Still by fresh Springs insensibly supplied;
While Laws to Albion GEORGE's line shall give,
While Arts shall flourish, or while Virtue live;
To latest Times the grateful Muse shall tell,
(For here to latest times the Muse shall dwell)
That learning's Cause and Granta's Name are dear
To YORKE's, to PELHAM's, and to BRUNSWICK's Ear.

[pp. 20-22]