1789
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode on the Restoration of his Majesty.

Diary, or Woodfall's Register (24 April 1789).

Robert Merry


An irregular Miltonic ode "recited by Mrs. Siddons, at Brooke's Gala of Tuesday last; written by Mr. Merry." Robert Merry's Ode strives for maximal tonal contrast, apparently as a metaphor for the dangerous political forces held in check by liberty enjoyed under constitutional monarchy: thus the court's view of itself ("Sullen Hate and Party spleen, | Pride and Envy quit the scene! | Friendship here, and Pleasure bind | Flow'ry fetters on the mind") is juxtaposed with a more whiggish outlook ("Sons of Freedom hither haste, | Only you the bliss can taste. | Only you have pow'r to prove | What is Beauty, what is Love"). Merry would eventually cast his lot with the republicans.



Refulgent from his zenith'd height,
The vast orb show'rs the living light,
While roseate Beauty hails the bounteous stream;
Gigantic Ocean drinks the blaze,
Wild on his boundless billows plays,
And shakes his glitt'ring tresses to the beam.

But see, engender'd in the gloom
Of sullen Night's unhallow'd womb,
Dim clouds arise, and vapours fell;
Onward they speed their baneful flight,
Spread o'er the Heav'ns their shadowy spell,
Deform the promis'd day, and veil the glorious light.

Ah! now far off the tim'rous Pleasures haste,
Sad Silence slumbers in the list'ning waste;
From her lorn cave pale Melancholy steals,
And scarce a sigh her secret pang reveals;
Hush'd are the Zephyrs, mute the tuneful grove,
The notes that wak'd to joy, the gales that whisper'd love.

But short the mournful change — behold
Again from high the radiant splendour roll'd;
See, the fresh flow'rs with brighter tints are spread,
And richer colours paint the mountain's head;
The wanton river more luxurious leads
His silv'ry current through the laughing meads;
A sweeter song the feather'd minstrel tries,
Far sweeter perfumes from the blossoms rise;
'Tis Nature's incense fills the bright'ning skies.

So when thy lustre, GEORGE, awhile
Was lost to Britain's sorrowing isle,
Appall'd, we shrunk beneath the blow;
The boldest heart confest dismay,
Despair o'ercast our Glory's day,
Witness'd a Sov'reign's worth, and spoke a nation's woe.

But rising now to transport from her fears,
Health be to GEORGE, our King! Britannia cries;
Waft the warm wish, ye gales that rise,
Spread the glad sound ye ecchoing spheres,
Where'er Britannia proud her victor-sceptre rears:
Let distant CONTINENTS declare,
The glorious CAUSE that wakes a nation's care,
When in disaster's heavy hour,
Dire sickness clouds the Monarch's brow—
'Tis that unshrinking from his hallow'd vow,
That Monarch, to his free-born people just,
Reigns but for those who gave him power,
And makes it glory to deserve the trust.
Long rest the sceptre in his equal hand,
And to his sway may Heav'n propitious be,
Long may he rule a willing land,
But oh! FOR EVER MAY THAT LAND BE FREE!

Have we not seen a threat'ning world combine
To tear the laurels from Britannia's shrine;
Seen countless navies load the weary main,
Legions on legions swell th' embattl'd plain?
Yes, with disdain have seen them, and they know
How quick the bold presumption ends in woe:
As when of yore, on Poictiers' purple field,
Gaul's regal lord resign'd his lillied shield,
When CRESSY'S troops the sable Chief rever'd,
And first ICH DIEN on his plumes appear'd.
So STILL, the vanquish'd foes of Albion find
Nought can resist th' unconquerable mind;
From Elliot's thunder, Rodney's rage, they fly,
Fate gives th' inspiring word — 'Tis GEORGE and LIBERTY.

Fairy people! ye who dwell
In fragrant ev'ning's vap'ry cell,
To the clear moon oft repair,
And quaff the spirit of the air!
Bear Britannia's votive wreath,
Where the gentlest zephyrs breathe:
Lave it in the saphire tides,
Where immortal Fame resides;
Mark the leaves which valour wove,
Gather'd by the hand of Love;
Virtue bless'd them as she view'd—
'Tis the wreath of gratitude!

Yet still a nobler palm to Britain's heir
Let the fond ardour of affection bear;
Just so the favour'd PRINCE, in whom we trace,
The brightest glories of the Brunswick race,
Unfeign'd benevolence, grace void of art,
The mildest nature, and the firmest heart;
Feelings, that share the grateful bliss they give,
When blushing beauty bids the suff'rer live;
The pride of gen'rous worth which pants to prove
His dearest birth-right is the people's love;
His best ambition to revere that law,
Which holds the free-born heart in willing awe.
Such are the virtues happy Britons own,
Diffuse reflected lustre on a throne.
And, lo! HIBERNIA, from her fertile coast,
Leans o'er the lucid waves to hear the boast;
Then gaily strikes her harp's melodious string,
And with the fond applauses greet the spring,
Greets the light blast which jocund speeds away,
To where th' Atlantic clasps the sinking day.
Speed ye soft gales, our nation's honour raise,
And blend in kindred fame fraternal praise;
To' thou, ingenuous YORK, all praise disclaim,
And in a brother's glory seek thy fame,
Howe'er with conscious worth thy bosom glows,
Blest be those youths whose love and duty wait,
To guard the public Parent of the state—
And blest the Father, who when ills invade,
From Heav'n and nature claims the surest aid?

Sullen Hate and Party spleen,
Pride and Envy quit the scene!
Friendship here, and Pleasure bind
Flow'ry fetters on the mind,
Female charms around conspire—
Beaming love and soft desire;
Forms celestial, that surpass
Those beheld in Fancy's glass,
When the youthful Poet's eye
Meets the vision'd extasy
Sons of Freedom hither haste,
Only you the bliss can taste.
Only you have pow'r to prove
What is Beauty, what is Love,
Sons of Freedom hither throng,
Join with us the loyal song,
'Till in glad concord ev'ry heart agree,
BRUNSWICK'S blest line — BRITANNIA'S liberty.

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