1820
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sudeley Castle.

Woodcuts and Verses.

Edward Quillinan


Eight Spenserians: a dirge on the passing of chivalry addressed to Samuel Egerton Brydges, and illustrated with four woodcuts. Woodcuts and Verses was anonymously published.

Author's note: "Sudeley Castle, which was long in possession of the ancestors of the Editor of this Press, for which reason these stanzas are addressed to him, was one of the Noblemen's seats visited by Queen Elizabeth in her Progresses."

S. C. Hall: "Quillinan was under sixty when he died in 1851. His first wife was a daughter of Sir Egerton Bridges. He was Irish by birth and descent, and was bred a Roman Catholic; but the shackles of his church hung loosely about him, and he was a Liberal, at least in creed. He was esteemed by all who knew him, and dearly loved in the family of the poet. His own poems were of a high, if not of the highest order; and he would, no doubt, have taken rank in the world of letters if circumstances had made his position depend on his writings" A Book of Memories (1871) 291-92.



Now savage elders flourish in thy courts;
The thistle now thy lorn recesses haunts;
Perch'd on thy walls the wild geranium sports,
And the rude mallows, deck'd in purple, flaunts:
Behold, proud Castle, thine inhabitants!
See how their nodding heads the zephyr hail,
As if they mock'd thee with triumphant taunts,
As victory's banners to each passing gale
From some dismantled Fort relate their boastful tale.

Are they not emblems, these obtrusive flowers,
Thus choaking up the sculptured Leopard's trace
And the old Cross on Sudeley's honour'd towers,
Are they not emblems of the motly race
Upraised by Mammon from their humble place?
Those weeds that on the ruins of the Great
Arise in rank luxuriance, and deface
The genealogic types of reverend date,
And flirt new symbols forth, and wear a gaudy state.

Brydges, the proud tear in thy dark eye swells,
When History thy Forefathers' fame displays,
And hoar Tradition garrulously tells
Tales that their shades to the mind's vision raise,
Like forms shewn dimly through a twilight haze:
Fancy the while in her insidious strain,
Whispering sweet words, exaggerates the praise,
The power, and wealth, and chivalry, and train
Of thy baronial Sires — magnificently vain.

Then follows Memory's fancy-withering part:
She bends, as a fond Sister, o'er the Urn
Of Youth's dead Expectations, the sad Heart;
And calls up every woe that thou hast borne;
And murmurs till the bosom is o'erworn
And the plumed spirit of ambition droops.
Thus to regrets life's vernal projects turn;
Pain's poisonous fruit succeeds the flowery hopes
That bloom'd in Denton's vale, and Wotton's sylvan slopes.

Yet why repine? — no more the Lydian stream
Devolves in its old bed the golden tide:
Ancestrel dignities have ceased to beam
Upon the children of a house of pride:
And thou, 'tis true, hast been severely tried:
To the maternal legacy of care
Thy birthright by no brother was denied;
No smooth supplanter kindly claim'd thy share,
As hard Rebecca's Hope beguiled the Patriarch's heir,

Yet, why, too fondly querulous, repine?
Still many a pure delight thy journey cheers;
And, though a way with thorns perplex'd is thine,
Fresh flowers still greet thee in the vale of tears;
And Love walks with thee to the goal of years;
And thou hast treasures, as Cornelia's prized;
And even of worldly state enough appears,
And, if enough, the rest should be despised;
Peace visits not the heart where pride is unchastised.

Of briers the earth, of clouds the heaven to clear,
Hast thou not too the love of lore and song?
If Sudeley now the haughty head could rear
As when its battlements withstood the strong,
And frown'd upon Rebellion; if the throng
Of chivalry and beauty, as of yore,
Still danced its beryl-glittering halls along,
And thou wert lord of hill, and plain, and tower,
While all within was pomp, and all without was power;

Could all the specious pageantry convey
A genuine pleasure to the thoughtful mind,
Which one who loves like thee the Muse's lay,
Within the shades of quiet cannot find?
Ambition's pillars shake with every wind,
And, like these Ruins, soon or late, must fall;
But the green wreaths in Learning's bowers entwined
Will grace the tomb, as o'er yon Chapel-wall
The clustering ivy spreads its rich enduring pall.

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