1762
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Untitled, "On that auspicious day, when Britain's sons."]

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

William Benson Earle


The fairies gather to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Wales in the octosyllabic strains of Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. William Benson Earle had studied with Joseph Warton at Winchester College, which may have something to do with the romantic tenor of the poem. Upon his death in 1796, Earle bequeathed a small fortune to charity, taking particular care to fund libraries, musicians, and the arts. He seems to have been particularly fond of the musical concerts in and around Salisbury.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "William Benson Earle, 1740-1796, reprinted from a scarce pamphlet an exact Relation of the famous Earthquake and Eruption of Mount Etna, 1669, to which he added a Letter from himself to Lord Lyttelton, Lon., 1775, 8vo. Earle was a munificent benefactor to various charities in Bristol, Winchester, and Salisbury" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 1:539.



On that auspicious day, when Britain's sons
With suppliant voice invok'd all-gracious heav'n
For blessing on the royal babe; at eve
By pleasing contemplation led I stray'd
Where Thames nigh Windsor pours his crystal tide,
Rolling to great Augusta's citadel
The gen'rous tribute of his copious urn.
Nature thro' all her works triumphant join'd
Her joyful revels, save the silver moon;
She o'er yon eastern hill in silence seem'd
To listen, and restrain her course to hear
The universal shout of Albion's isle.
As on I mus'd in deep attention lost,
Sudden aerial sounds salute my ear,
Like such as in sweet whisp'ring accents drop
From leaves just fann'd by zephyr's softest breeze.
Trim fairy elves soon caught my wond'ring sight,
Wheeling with printless foot their airy rounds
O'er mossy bank, while glow-worm's moment lamp
Dim-twinkled thro' their clear pellucid form.
To the apt moments of their magic dance
They sang, how present at the royal birth,
Each had the tender infant form impress'd
With all that's fair and all that's beautiful.
Hark! The sweet song still strikes my ravish'd ear:

Hither all ye fairy powers,
Haste from your celestial bowers;
Whether in yon region high,
Or in cowslip's bell ye lie,
Feasting on the pearly dew,
That distills fresh sweets for you;
To conclude this festive day,
Come, ye dapper elves away.
E're the sun his beams had spread
O'er yon mountain's dusky head,
E're the bee this morn did sip
Food from rosebud's velvet lip:
Oberon! of race divine,
Shedding influence benign,
Say, how you with all the throng
Studious of enchanting song,
Sooth'd the royal mother's breast
With maternal care possest,
Whisp'ring to her ravish'd mind
Future blessings, hopes refin'd,
Days of glory, fame ensur'd,
Faction blasted, peace secur'd:
Whilst ye sat with rapt'rous joy
Brooding o'er the princely boy,
Charms infusing quick as thought,
Charms with subtlest magic fraught,
Breathing beauty o'er his face,
Virtue's beauty, virtue's grace.
Happy babe! whose willing breast
Quick receiv'd the stamp imprest:
Happier parents, who shall see
All their worth unite in thee.
To conclude this festive day,
Come ye dapper elves away.

Thus sang the elfin sprights: and now the moon
Had gain'd mid heaven, when the airy crew,
Mounting the subtle texture of her beams,
Fled thro' the regions of unbounded space
To realms unvisited by mortal eye.

[sigs U2-X]