1762
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Untitled, "Time-hounor'd Isis, and renowned Cam."]

Gratulatio Solennis Universitatis Oxoniensis ob Celsissimum Georgium Fred. Aug. Walliae Principem Georgio III. et Charlottae Reginae Auspicatissime Natum.

Rev. George Butt


A paradigmatic eighteenth-century Miltonic ode by George Butt, a poet-clergyman whose life and verse exemplify the values of the court of George III and the workings of the clerical patronage system. His poem describes how persons in various states of life react to the joyful news of the birth of the Prince of Wales, modulating through a range of styles in imagery in a short compass.

Butt, later a royal chaplain, had already gained experience with court affairs while at schoolboy at Westminster; he "was elected on the Royal foundation, and continued in it till he became Captain of the School. He was in this situation at the death of GEORGE II. and walked in procession at the funeral of that King, and at the Coronation of his present Majesty" "Some Account of George Butt" in Valpy, ed Poems ... at Reading School (1804) 227.



Time-honour'd Isis, and renowned Cam
Still see the laurel'd Muse beside their streams
Roam ever mindful of her loyal task.
Whether she sorrow o'er the Mighty fall'n
In strains expressive of the soul-felt grief,
Or paint the nuptial scene, or now proclaim
With gratulating lay a new-born prince.
Nor here alone, where wisdom justifies
The raptur'd heart, prevails with patriot joy.
The grateful tidings glad the jocund swains;
Blythe leap their hearts, and 'round the maypole, deckt
Anew with garlands, they in chearful dance
Trip lightly to the sound of shepherd's pipe.
The rural veteran underneath his vine
The cup of freedom quaffs, blessing the reign
Of patriot GEORGE; and whilst his infant train
Play 'round his knee, unconscious of the cause
Whence glows the lustre in their parent's eye,
"And you, my babes, he cries, in after times
Shall view with extasy a patriot prince."
Meantime the warrior, who in freedom's cause
Feels unremitting fires, what time he hears
His Britain gloried in another GEORGE,
Eager in th' edge of battle, when the drum
Heart-stirring, and the clarion wakes the fight,
Clenches with starting nerves his glist'ring sword,
And rushes to the conflict — GEORGE'S name
Provokes the manly combat: hark! I hear
The British cannon in the troubled air
Wing'd with dire vengeance: thro' the new-made breach
Methinks I see the sons of Freedom march
With hasty strides to victory and fame.
Now may Bellona drop her war-worn lance
Glutted with desolation; for alas
Too many thousands fill the tomb, who wish'd
In social ease to end their lengthened days.
How vain their hopes — the iron hand of war
Scatter'd their corses on th' ensanguin'd plain.
But other scenes await the praiseful muse,
And bid her wind afresh the sounding chords.
The sovereign word is pass'd — and peace descends.
See at her high behest war's troubled sea,
Which lately bore upon it's billowy wave
The wreck of nations, sink into a calm—
See on the stream where unaffrighted Nymphs,
Daughters of commerce, from their pearly caves
Disporting hear the rapture-breathing shell
By their slight fingers touch'd: hark! how they sing
Thy praises, honour'd GEORGE, with hymning voice
Sing thee large-hearted, with extensive zeal
Inflam'd to public virtue; while they wish
In rich profusion to thy royal babe
Each heavenly virtue, transcript of thine own,
Whose early bright example shall instruct
Kings yet unborn to form the patriot plan.
When thou shalt scrutinize with holy zeal
The secret crimes that stain a guilty land,
Then shalt thou thus bespeak thy fleets; "Go forth;
And where your streaming honours have been hail'd
By distant nations, bear that sacred name
At which with lowly reverence I bow."
Then shall recording angels character
Thy blazon'd name among the deathless kings
Who on eternal truth their glory rais'd—
And thou, exalted high amid thy peers
On sainted seats, shalt shine thro' endless time.

[Sig Kk2-Kk2v]