1761
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

On His Majesty's Accesion to the Throne.

Pietas Universitatis Oxoniensis in Obitum Serenissimi Regis Georgii II. et Gratulatio in Augustissimi Regis Georgii III. Inaugurationem.

Rev. James Merrick


A cleverly conceited lyric ode in the meter and manner of Milton's companion poems: George III is hailed as the first properly British Hanoverian, as indeed he was. Other poems by James Merrick, an Oxford associate of Thomas Warton, appear in Dodsley, Pearch, and Bell's Fugitive Poetry (1789-97). Merrick had left Oxford to retire to Reading in 1758.

Epes Sargent: "Merrick (1720-1769) was a clergyman, as well as a writer of verse. He produced a version of the Psalms, a Collection of Hymns, and a few miscellaneous poems. His 'Chameleon' is still buoyant among the productions that the world does not willingly let die. At Oxford, Merrick was tutor to Lord North. Owing to incessant pains in the head, he was obliged to abandon his vocation of clergyman" Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 185.

William Cowper: "Take MILTON, read his shorter poems, and particularly LYCIDAS, COMUS, AND SAMPSON; wherever you meet with an epithet, more especially, if it be a compound one, put it in your note-book; for as MILTON copied the antients, the more you steal from MILTON, of consequence the nearer you come to the antients. This precept, in regard to epithets, deserves very particular attention, as upon a due observance in the choice of them depends the whole beauty of modern Poetry" St. James's Magazine 3 (April 1763) 124.



Late in yon sequester'd Grove—
How that calm Retreat I love!
For beneath it's hanging Shade
Oft my youthful steps have stray'd,
While my Thoughts, at Eve-tide hour,
Woo'd fair Wisdom's heav'nly Pow'r
My unpractis'd Bark to guide
Safe through Life's tempestuous Tide:
Now, each moral Truth to learn,
Oft the Attic page I turn,
There the Sage most knowing view
Owning that he nothing knew,
Then th' inferior Tribe survey,
As through Error's Maze they stray,
And in endless circles tread,
Still misleading, still misled:
By their Ignorance inform'd,
Now, with holy rapture warm'd,
O'er Judaea's Hills my Eye
Sees the Day-spring from on high
Through remotest Realms dispense
It's refreshing Influence.
Listening to the Hebrew Lyre,
Heavenward now my Thoughts aspire,
As my Ear the Accents greet,
Wrapt in Contemplation sweet,
While the Thrush, unheeded, nigh,
Tunes her artless minstrelsie.—
Late in yon sequester'd Grave,
(How that calm Retreat I love!)
Up I took my boxen Lute,
Joyless as it lay and mute,
And, to give my Transport birth,
Sought some Tune of highest Mirth;
Need my Verse the Cause explain?
GEORGE begins his happy Reign.

While my Hand each sullen Chord
With successless touch explor'd,
While my meditating Tongue
Yet preluded to the Song,
And, instinct with rapt'rous flame,
O'er them utter'd GEORGE'S Name,
Sudden from the dancing strings
Lo! th' unbidden Music springs,
While to my delighted Ear
Fancy, prompt Interpreter,
Thus articulates the Strain;
"GEORGE begins his happy Reign."

Hark! the Birds, around, above,
Guests familiar to the Grove,
Catch the Notes, and, as they sing,
Hov'ring clap the joyful wing;
And the vocal Woods reply,
And the Waters running by:
Echo from the arching Rock
Learns the distant sound to mock,
While to my delighted Ear
Fancy, prompt Interpreter,
Thus articulates the Strain;
"GEORGE begins his happy Reign."

Daughters of the Wood, I cry'd,
Let me strip your leafy pride;
Let me pluck a Wreath to throw
On the Monarch's youthful brow:
Not the Laurel I demand
From a fabled Paean's hand;
Happier Precepts, wiser Lore,
GEORGE'S well-fraught mem'ry store,
Than his Tripod knew to teach
On th' unhallow'd Delphic Beach;
Let no Braid of rosy twine,
Aid to lawless Mirth and Wine,
Nor the Myrtle's Branch impure
GEORGE'S vituous Brow obscure;
Give him not a Plant to wear,
Nurtur'd in a foreign Air,
Boetic Olive, Norway Pine,
Libyan Poplar, Gallic Vine,
But the English Bough impart;
GEORGE can boast an English Heart.
Offspring of the British Oak,
(So may never Woodman's stroke
Dare your peaceful Seats invade,)
Give me of your choicest Shade;
Give; nor can I ask in vain;
GEORGE begins his happy Reign.

See yon Oak, that long has stood
Sire and Sov'reign of the Wood,
Underneath whose younger Spray
Erst the dreaming Druid lay,
Nod, and to my Wish incline;
See the willing Branches join,
And with complicated Stem
Weave the mimic Diadem.
Now I pluck the Wreath, and now
Place it on the Monarch's Brow:
Guarded by the Virtues there,
See it flourish fresh and fair,
Proof to Storms and eating Age,
Proof to Envy's fiercest Rage:
From it's Circle banish'd wide,
Vice, submissive, veils her Pride,
And, her sable Wings outspread,
Flies to hide her hated head,
While o'er Britain's thankful Plain
GEORGE begins his happy Reign.

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