1790 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Friendship.

Poems; by the late Mr. Samuel Marsh Oram: an Introduction by Percival Stockdale.

Samuel Marsh Oram


An allegorical ode, after Milton's Il Penseroso, in eight Prior stanzas (the first quatrain in octosyllabics): "Hence, thou torturing fiend, Despair, | That fill'st my soul with wild dismay, | And to the lonely haunts repair, | Where whilom thou hast used to stray." Samuel Marsh Oram was an obscure provincial attorney whose poems were posthumously published in 1794; they were reprinted by Thomas Park in Sharpe's Poets, and again by Richard Alfred Davenport in the Chiswick British Poets. Not seen.

Analytical Review: "Due allowance being made for the disadvantageous circumstances under which these poems were written, they must be admitted to possess considerable merit. It will not be expected that they should place the writer's name in the first class of british poets; but it must be rigorous criticism, which cannot find in his verses some traces of a poetic fancy, that, with better cultivation, might have raised him to distinction. As a specimen, we copy the following lines to friendship.... This whole [last] stanza would have done credit to any poet. We are to suppose that the human mind is dispirited, and dejected by the coldness and oppression of an unfeeling, and tyrannical world. Our authour compares the consolation which is afforded to that mind by true friendship, with the soothing pleasure which the eye, and imagination receive, on contemplating an ever-green, amid the fruits, and horrours of winter. The simile is new, just, and beautiful" 19 (May 1794) 82-83.

Critical Review: "Mr. Oram, as we learn from the Preface which Mr. Stockdale has prefixed to his poems, was an amiable and promising young man, a native of Shaftesbury, in Dorsetshire, where he practised as an attorney, and died at the early age of six and twenty, in full possession of the esteem of his friends and fellow-townsmen. He was fond of poetry and the elegant arts, and sedulously devoted his leisure time to their cultivation; not without success, as is sufficiently evinced by these specimens of his abilities, which are elegant and harmonious, but, at the same time, of that plaintive cast, which suggests a suspicion that he would have been happier if he had been less attached to pursuits very dissonant from the crabbed genius of his profession. At the same time we must confess, that we see no propriety in ushering these trifles into the world, in so pompous a manner as Mr. Stockdale has done in his account, which represents the author as a genius of a superior order, whose early progress was interesting to the world. the public may have been deprived of some future gratification by the death of the poet; it would have lost nothing worth regretting by the suppression of his works" NS 11 (August 1794) 75.

European Magazine: "These Poems have great merit. They were written by a young Gentleman lately deceased, who in them seems to have given great promise of becoming a very excellent Poet. Such splendid flowers as these now presented to the public, must ever produce excellent fruit. The Introduction is well written, and introduces to the public some notice of the decease writer" 26 (August 1794) 117.



Hence, thou torturing fiend, Despair,
That fill'st my soul with wild dismay,
And to the lonely haunts repair,
Where whilom thou hast used to stray:
And there, what time the day sinks in the west,
And night her mantle o'er the landscape throws,
Unseen glide through the darksome shades depress'd;
Thy mournful plaints, for all thy sum of woes,
Floating upon the bosom of the gale,
That softly sighs along the murmuring vale.

For ah! full many a pensive hour
Have thy dark clouds o'ercast my mind,
And whilst was felt thy stern, oppressive power,
What bless'd resource could fancy find,
Shunning each path where sported young Delight?
What sorrows keen recoil'd with memory's aid,
Nor rose one brightening prospect on the sight,
That erst gay hope with vivid tints portray'd:
Hence, then, away; nor more my peace molest,
But, Friendship, come, in all thy charms confess'd!

Methought Favonius caught the prayer
And bore it on his balmy wing
To where the laughing lovers repair,
And gaily pass the jocund spring;
There, blissful as the moments glided by,
Friendship, her flight propitious smiling sped
Adown yon brilliant bow that decks the sky,
With lambent glories beaming round her head:
And where she moved she chased away despair,
Whilst rays of comfort bless'd the child of care.

Hence Hope, elate with future joy,
Roved her flowery paths among;
And Bliss, unconscious of alloy,
Accompanied her tuneful song
With the soft lyre, where rose her bless'd alcove;
The Naiads, leaning o'er their trickling urns,
Round Stour's fair margin taught the sounds to rove,
And Echo, answering to the sweet returns,
Awaken'd Innocence with modest air,
To wreath her flowers, and strew them round the fair.

Hail! Friendship, then, thou source divine,
Whence copious streams of pleasure flow,
Inspiring every heart benign
With all thy honest warmth to glow:
Not vain thy power; for where extends thy sway
Unsullied honour o'er thy heart presides;
Vice from thy presence shrinks abash'd away,
And white robed Virtue all thy actions guides;
Her beaming sceptre casts thy holy spell;
And in the circle all the moral graces dwell.

Oh! bless'd irradiation mild,
To cheer us on our weary way,
Whether through gloomy deserts wild,
Or vales which fancy paints, we stray;
For where each brilliant pointed beam extends,
The' effects of vice no more disturb the mind
Illumined; but she cheerly onward bends
With rapture, permanent as great, to find
At thy pure crystal fount without control,
"The feast of reason and the flow of soul."

Scowling indignant round the scene,
Her devious tracks full fraught with woe,
Misfortune moves with pallid mien,
Around her venom'd shafts to throw;
And where she moves will Friendship eager press,
With pity's tear soft trembling in her eye,
To sooth the ruffling gales of grief, and bless
The darkening gloom with rays of constancy;
Kindly the lengthen'd roll of ills to share;
At last, to steal the sting from heart-corroding care.

So when the tempest-driven car
Old Winter mounts with rapid pace
Around to spread destructive war
O'er nature's animated space;
Haply, soft peering midst some snow fringed vale,
An evergreen may charm the wanderer's eye,
That braves the fury of the passing gale,
Till on its bloom the Summer's breath shall sigh;
Waving its green leaves in the sunshine hour,
That wither'd not, assail'd by Winter's ruthless power.

[Chiswick British Poets (1822) 73:174-76]