1769
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Ode to Fortitude.

An Ode to Fortitude. By William Russell.

William Russell


An allegorical ode partly in irregular Spenserians, the first publication by the future historian of Europe, William Russell. Russell had emigrated from Edinburgh to London in 1767, and was working in the book trade. This seems to be a particularly scarce poem; the ESTC locates one copy (April 2003); a reported Edinburgh edition is not in the ESTC. Not seen.

Critical Review: "To this ode is prefixed a poetical address to the honourable Archibald Douglas, Esq. The author has illustrated the subject by several examples of fortitude, among the heroes of antient and modern times. He tells us, that he has been more solicitous to place them in a just and striking, than an uncommon point of view; and that he has aimed at perspicuity rather than wildness; at strength and dignity rather than novelty and splendor: and this seems to be the real character of his performance" 27 (March 1769) 234-35.

Monthly Review: "The characters which the Author has chosen as examples of fortitude, are Leonidas; Brutus; our Henry and Edward, who fought at Cressy and Agincourt; Douglas and Piercy, who are celebrated in the song called Chivy Chace; General Wolf, Brigadier Murray, Alexander the Great, and a Capt. Douglas who suffered himself to be burnt on board his ship the Royal Oak, when our ships at Chatham were burnt by the Dutch, rather than quit his post" 40 (April 1769) 333-34.

C. H. Timperley: "he seems to have formed an intimacy with Patrick lord Elibank, who invited him to spend some time at his seat in East Lothian, and encouraged him in the prosecution of a literary career. He therefore relinquished his labours as a printer, and after spending considerable time in study at his father's house in the country, set out, in May 1767, for London. There he was disappointed in his best hopes, and found it necessary to seek subsistence as corrector of the press in the office of William Strahan, which in 1769 he exchanged for the office of overseer in the office of Brown and Aldred. While prosecuting these employments, he published several essays in prose and verse, but without fixing the attention of the world in any eminent degree. His success was nevertheless such as to enable him to relinquish the printing business" Encyclopaedia of Literary and Typographical Anecdote (1842) 2:782.



O impious man! from av'rice blind,
Blind to the sacred light of truth,
Not to discern the lineal mind,
The lineal features in the youth.
Can noble things from base proceed?—
Not so the lion springs, not so the steed;
Nor from the vulgar tenants of the grove,
Sublimed with pageant-fire, the strong-pounced bird of Jove.

[Lloyd's Evening Post (17 March 1769) 261]