1746
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Superstition. An Ode.

The Museum: or the Literary and Historical Register 1 (12 April 1746) 55-56.

Rev. Joseph Warton


A patriotic ode in five octosyllabic Spenserians (aabccB) in the Miltonic manner. Though there is nothing to mark this as an occasional poem, Joseph Warton's ode was not doubt inspired by the Jacobite Rebellion which aroused fears of an attempt to impose Catholicism on Protestant Britain. To Superstition, which was originally published anonymously, was reprinted in Joseph Warton's Odes (1746) with an additional stanza. The Museum, one of the pioneering literary periodicals of the eighteenth century, was edited by Mark Akenside for Robert Dodsley.

Michael F. Suarez: "The first issue of the Museum, forty octavo pages long and costing sixpence, appeared on 29 March 1746. Unlike other periodicals of the day, it was comprised wholly of original contributions: essays, poetry, book reviews, and 'Historical Memoirs' of contemporary events. Under Akenside's able direction, The Museum ran for thirty-nine numbers to 12 September 1747 and was a signal publishing and literary success" Dodsley, Collection of Poems (1997) 1:120.



Hence to some Convent's gloomy Isles,
Where chearful Daylight never smiles,
Tyrant, from Alibon haste, to slavish Rome;
There by dim Tapers' livid Light,
At the still solemn Hours of Night,
In pensive musings walk o'er many a sounding Tomb.

Thy clanking Chains, thy crimson Steel,
Thy venom'd Darts, and barbarous Wheel,
Malignant Fiend, bear from this Isle away,
Nor dare in Error's Fetters bind
One active, freeborn, British Mind,
That strongly strives to spring indignant from thy Sway.

Thou bad'st grim Moloch's fawning Priest
Snatch screaming Infants from the Breast,
Regardless of the frantick Mother's Woes;
Thou led'st the ruthless son of Spain
To wond'ring India's golden Plain,
From Deluges of Blood where tenfold Harvests rose.

But lo! how swiftly art thou fled,
When REASON lifts his radiant Head;
When his resounding, awful Voice they hear,
Blind Ignorance, thy doating Sire,
Thy Daughter, trembling Fear, retire;
And all thy ghastly Train of Terrors disappear.

So by the Magi hail'd from far,
When Phoebus mounts his early Car,
The shrieking Ghosts to their dark Charnels flock;
The full-gorg'd Wolves retreat, no more
The prowling Lionesses roar,
But hasten with their Prey to some deep-cavern'd Rock.

[pp. 55-56]