1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To the Same [Philoclea]. Quaerum quod nimium est.

Poems, by Mr. Potter.

Rev. Robert Potter


An imitation of Spenser's Januarye in eight ababcc stanzas.

Robert Potter adds an extensive note on the idea behind the imitation: "The writer of Mr. Waller's Life, prefix'd to his Poems, observes, 'that the way of using the same initial letters in a line, which throws the verse off more easily, was first introduced by him (Waller.) And Mr. Dryden imitated it to affectation, as some others since him have also done.' Happily for Poetry, Mr. Waller had read the Roman Poets, and studied the harmony of Spenser, who has scatter'd this beauty thro' his Works with an unsparing hand. Indeed there is hardly a grace in all the regions of Poetry which Mr. Dryden did not seize and improve; but the affectation is to be look'd for in Writers of a different class. Instances abound. Virgil in the fourth Georgic describes the rise of his rivers with all the magic of poetic numbers, 'Unde Pater Tiberninus, et unde Aniena fluenta, | Saxofumque fonans Hypanis,' &c. A Writer, who thought he cou'd never be Poet enough, determin'd to be even with his master; so he tosses the Alps, one knows not how, into the end of an act, melts their snows, tumbles them into the Rhone, and makes them 'United there roll rapidly away, | And roaring reach o'er rugged rocks the sea' thus by putting this beauty on the rack he has distorted every feature, and destroy'd every grace; and so it will often happen, that an acknowledged excellence in a great Writer fills half the land with imitating Fools" pp. 51-52n.

John Langhorne: "With these poems, already published, at different times, and respectively noticed in our Review, a few others of less character and consequence contribute to make up this volume" Monthly Review 51 (July 1774) 20.

Robert Potter to Edward Jerningham: "See also what a portion of fame authors are to expect in the new Biographia Dramatica. As I find it cited in The Gentleman's Magazine for February, I shall make this figure, 'Potter, R. is of Wales, where he has a small living, but is a schoolmaster at Scarning in Norfolk (not Suffolk) where he resides.' Here is the history of my birth, connexions, and situation comprized in three circumstances, two of which are false" 4 April 1782; in Lewis Bettany, Edward Jerningham and his Friends (1919) 336.



Hark, how the chill north chides among the trees,
Making us shrink and shiver at the sound!
See, how the snow comes beating in the breeze,
And covers with unkindly cold the ground!
Keen cuts the cold with bitter-biting hate,
And sad th' unsightly season's stormy state.

The dainty daisy, and the primrose pale,
The silver'd snow-drop, and the violet blue,
The gorgeous daffodil that decks the dale,
The crocus glitt'ring in his golden hue,
Fold up their silken leaves, and droop their heads,
As they wou'd shrink again into their beds.

Mute is the music of the thrushes' throat;
No more the lively linnet sweetly sings;
Hush'd is the light lark's wildly warbled note,
And the gay goldfinch droops his gaudy wings;
The robin-red-breast, indigent and chill,
Knocks at the casement with familiar bill.

Pierc'd with the eager air the hardy hind,
Wrapt in his coarse-spun duffield bends along;
And hastens homeward from the wintry wind,
Nor chears his journey with one jocund song:
The houseless herds from such a raging sky
For shelter to the friendly hedge-rows fly.

This is the mirror of my mournfull mind,
All there is winter's waste, alas the while!
For thou, my Philoclea, art unkind,
Ah! too unkind to bless me with a smile:
All as the year with wrathfull winter wasted,
The budding blossoms of my joys are blasted.

Mirth, goddess gay, my pensive breast forsakes,
The lightly tripping train of pleasures flies;
Here his sad seat mute melancholy makes,
And dull despair, the god of doleful sighs:
With chiding blasts blow, blow thou winter's wind,
Thy murmurs are meet music for my wind.

But when the genial ruler of the year
Chears the glad vallies with a vernal ray,
Deck'd in their lovely liveries they appear,
With blooming bushes and fresh flowrets gay:
Pruning their painted plumes the sweet birds sing,
The hills, the dales, the woods, the fountains ring.

So, Philoclea, should'st thou sweetly smile
In pity of my painfull pangs of love,
That smile wou'd ev'ry cruel care beguile,
And wastfull winter from my heart remove;
Rose-robed the sprightly spring wou'd revel here,
And own thee for the ruler of my year.

[pp. 51-55]