1792
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Candour.

Poems, chiefly by Gentlemen of Devonshire and Cornwall. In Two Volumes. [Rev. Richard Polwhele, ed.]

Dr. Hugh Downman


A nicely-turned allegorical ode in the manner of Milton's L'Allegro. Hugh Downman, who wrote his first allegorical odes three decades earlier, invents a genealogy and childhood for Candour, and pledges his devotion: "Oh! heed thy suppliant's humble prayer! | Do thou, O goddess, still be near! | From falshood and from flattery free, | Still may his bosom glow with thee!"

Richard Polwhele: "it is with the most lively satisfaction, that the Editor announces the author of the poems signed D. Dr. Downman, M.D. of Exeter; to attempt a delineation of whose literary character would be, in this place, frivolous and impertinent; though his poetical assistance, on the present occasion, deserves the warmest acknowledgment, since the little he hath contributed, stamps a value on the work, which must necessarily secure it from oblivion" 1:vii.



O Lovely Virgin! thee of yore
To manly Sense, Good-humour bore,
Whom with the Wood-Nymphs he espied
Sporting on Ladon's flowery side,
While simple Nature was rever'd,
And Truth the sylvan altar rear'd.
There with the Graces didst thou stray,
Who, smitten with thy infant play,
Gave thee a robe of purest white,
A girdle of transparent light:
Till now mature, with blushes chaste,
They join'd thy willing hand to Taste.
He led thee to th' Aonian mount,
Where bathing in the lucid fount,
Thou sought'st with speed the hallow'd quire,
And heard'st with joy Apollo's lyre.
Each Muse attun'd her sweetest lays,
Intent to share thy heartfelt praise.

Soft inmate of the soul refin'd!
To modest merit never blind!
Whose lips are always slow to blame,
Whose warm applause is more than fame.—
Proud in its lone retreat to spy
Virtue which shuns the illiberal eye,
To save from Error's partial gloom,
And bid Desert its rank assume;
Whom Envy views with look malign,
And shrinking, owns thy power divine;
Whom hasty Censure's flippant train,
And bigot Spleen, assail in vain;
Before whom Malice stands confest,
Howe'er by wit or fancy drest;
Oh! heed thy suppliant's humble prayer!
Do thou, O Goddess, still be near!
From falshood and from flattery free,
Still may his bosom glow with thee!

[1:30-31]