1762
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

On reading the first and second Volume of A new General History of the World.

London Chronicle (24 April 1762) 387.

M.


Five irregular Spenserians, only the last stanza with the alexandrine, signed "M." Compare the sentiments in this poem to those of Written in Stanyan's Grecian History, a poem in Prior stanzas published in the Gentleman's Magazine 25 (September 1755) 420-21. Both poems may owe a debt to Edmund Smith's Thales, a Monody, which had been translated into English in 1751. John Free's An Ode to that heroick and learned Prince, Frederick III. King of Prussia (1757) also appears to be a member of this group. Only the Smith poem is written in Spenser's manner.

Despite its imposing title — A new General History of the World; comprehending both the ancient and modern History of its several Empires, Kingdoms, and States; ... from the Creation, to the present Time: collected from the best Authors in all Languages; and embellished with proper Cuts and Maps. By the joint labors of several learned Gentlemen (1762) — the work in question seems to have been a complete failure: the ESTC locates only the Bodleian copy (2003), and that missing two of the six volumes.



Antiquity unfolds her sacred page;
The heavy mass in ductile fusion runs:
Yours is the science of each vary'd age,
Primordial learning of the classic sons.
Each son of science, and of art, must own
You fill and dignify the classic throne.

Whate'er we seen in wide Creation's plan;
Each gradual system that mankind improv'd;
Those arts, which, civiliz'd from man to man,
Made each respected, honor'd, and belov'd,
In your great work accomplish'd well, we view:
Antiquity is moderniz'd in you.

Hard is the task, and glorious the design,
To open the expanding mind of youth:
To shew unerring Reason how to twine
Her wreaths immortal on the brow of Truth:
Shew Virtue in each diff'rent age renown'd;
Strip Vice, tho' laurell'd, deify'd, or crown'd.

Yet more: in your extended plan we trace
Whate'er combin'd the noble, just, and free;
Each living feature of the human race;
A work that is mankind's epitome.
Kings, Sages, Poets, and Historians, here,
Shall mark the aera of each rising year.

Such are they taught by your emending page,
Where shines the quintessence of ev'ry tome;
Rich and ennobled in each splendid age,
From Egypt's monarchy to that of Rome.
From Egypt, Greece, and Rome, extract each flow'r,
To grace BRITANNIA'S isle, and dignify its pow'r.

[p. 387]