1745 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Ode to Virtue.

Whitehall Evening Post (14 September 1784).

Samuel Bradbury


In this gallant allegorical ode, the poet proposes that Virtue appear on earth in the form of his beloved: "O! come, array'd, celestial fair! | In my lov'd Delia's shape and air." But this is to be a only a temporary arrangement: "Soon let my Delia's real voice | Bid all my listening soul rejoice, | With accents mild my doubts remove, | And blushing own a mutual love! The poem, most likely written while or shortly after Bradbury was a student at Oxford, was posthumously published in 1784. Bradbury's name is given as "Silas" in the Alumnae Oxononienses; assuming this is the correct person, he matriculated at Wadham College in December 1734, aged 18.

Headnote: "The following Ode was written by the late Samuel Bradbury, Esq. who had been near forty years chief clerk and secretary to the board of trade. He was educated at Eton, and afterward removed to Wadham College, Oxford, where he took his degrees, and was distinguished as much for his private virtues as for his extensive knowledge. He was intended for the church, but could not be persuaded to take orders, though much pressed by the late Earl of Halifax, who offered to provide for him amply; having scruples about the articles, that no temporal advantage could induce him to abandon. He died a few weeks before the abolition of the Board of Trade took place."



Come, Heav'n-born maid! with aspect sweet,
Fair Virtue! from thy aweful seat,
From that steep mountain, whence descends
A shining rill to cheer thy friends;
While, through the sultry wilds of life,
Victorious over factious strife,
Thou guid'st them, with indulgent hand,
Securely to thy promis'd land.
Come, to my ravish'd sight confest,
In all thy native radiance drest,
And, warbling thy immortal strain,
Lead sprightly on thy fav'rite train,
Content, and Peace, and Wisdom meek,
And Health, the nymph with rosy cheek.

But if no mortal eye must know
Unveil'd that beauty's vivid glow,
With which, near Heav'n's imperial throne,
Through endless ages thou hast shone;
O! come, array'd, celestial fair!
In my lov'd Delia's shape and air;
And while deluded thus I gaze,
Through weary life's perplexing maze,
O'er dreary tracts where Envy reigns,
O'er Hate's inhospitable plains,
In Siren Pleasure's faithless way,
Where oft thy heedless vot'ries stray,
With thy serene, thy steady light,
Conduct my wandering footsteps right.
Or rather let the soft deceit
Soon disappear, however sweet;
Soon let my Delia's real voice
Bid all my list'ning soul rejoice,
With accents mild my doubts remove,
And blushing own a mutual love.
Then, Virtue! then thy pow'r exert,
Pour all thy influence on my heart,
From each debasing passion free,
And make it worthy her and thee.

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