1753
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Valetudinarian.

Poems. Laura, or, the Complaint: Ode on the Power of Music: the Valetudinarian: on the Death of His Royal Highness Frederick Prince of Wales. By a gentleman of Cambridge.

Sir James Marriott


An ode to Health, after Milton's L'Allegro. The Valetudinarian (omitting the more allegorical portions of his original) fails not to ask for the pleasures of imagination: "O grant of verse the wonderous power, | That calls up shades of heroes bold, | Whose virtues warm'd the times of old; | Or which the wandering Fancy leads | Through sylvan shades, or magic meads" p. 26.

The Advertisement identifies The Complaint as an imitation of Pope, and The Power of Music as an imitation of Dryden, adding "In writing the Valetudinarian, or Address to Health, a view was had to the Allegro of Milton, but without a formal parody of the several parts, or a particular imitation of the stile" p. v.

James Kirkpatrick: "The Valetudinarian, or address to health, was intended to resemble Milton's manner. It is in the same measure indeed, but we submit it to deeper critics, whether the poet will be acquitted of impropriety, for imploring the goddess of health, not only to restore his, buut to add to it a delightful rural recess, and the faculty of soft and heroic verse besides, which last have been thought at the disposal of Phoebus and the muses" Monthly Review 8 (February 1753) 158.

James Marriott, a distinguished barrister and amateur poet, was elected master of Trinity College Cambridge in 1764.



Hence Disease, and pining Pain,
With all your pale and ghastly train,
Tossings dire, heart-piercing moans,
Sighs, and tears, and hollow groans;
That e'er with mortal bliss at strife,
Do mix with gall the sweets of life.
But whether more thou deign'st to dwell
In some low and rural cell;
Haunt'st the brink of tinkling rills,
Flowery vales, and sloping hills;
Or where the plowman turns the soil,
Do'st chear his song, and guide his toil:
Whether more thou lovest to wear
The dress and form of Dian fair,
And bid'st thy horns sweet Echo rouze,
Slumbering on the mountain's brows:
Or perhaps art wont to sport
Where the Loves and Smiles resort,
Jests, and Mirth, and all the train
Of Cytheria's golden reign:
Hither, bright Hygeia, fly,
With rosy cheek, and sparkling eye;
Such as thou do'st oft appear
When thy Heberden is near.
Bring with thee Content and Pleasure,
Moderate Mirth, and useful Leisure.
Far be wild Ambition's fires,
Wasting Love, and fierce Desires.
I ask not Fortune's glittering charms,
The pride of courts, the spoil of arms:
By silver streams, and haunted grove,
O give my peaceful steps to rove.
Beneath the shade of pendant hills
I'll listen to the falling rills:
Then on the flowery carpet green
I'll sit and trace the rural scene;
While by the mimic pencil drawn,
The herds shall seem to crop the lawn;
The piping swain, the distant towers;
The moss-grown, knotted oaks, and bowers,
As bending to the whispering breeze,
Some thatch'd cot rising 'mong the trees,
In rude and artless lines design'd,
Shall faintly mark the master's mind.
Or if soft verse delight us more,
O grant of verse the wonderous power,
That calls up shades of heroes bold,
Whose virtues warm'd the times of old;
Or which the wandering Fancy leads
Through sylvan shades, or magic meads;
Or gives to truth the tuneful art
With moral song to mend the heart.
Thus on through Manhood, Youth, and Age,
Nor stain'd with guilt, nor rough with rage,
In smooth maeanders life shall glide,
And roll a clear and peaceful tide.

[pp. 25-26]