1784
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Regular Ode; addressed to the Honourable William Pitt.

Regular Ode; addressed to the Honourable William Pitt.

Rev. John Newell Puddicombe


A Miltonic ode in seventeen irregular Spenserians (aabccbdD). This anonymous work hails the recent appointment of the younger Pitt as Prime Minister at the young age of twenty-five: "Admiring senates, crowding round, | Hang with amazement on the sound, | And foes are won to hear! | Malice, subdu'd, of all her darts disarm'd, | Sits wondering at the change — her Gorgon snakes are charm'd!" In point of fact, Pitt's position was weak, and it would be some months before, with the assistance of the king, he was able to outmaneuver Charles James Fox and win a majority in the fall elections.

The attribution may be inferred from a sequel published a few weeks later, the second edition of which was pubilshed with the author's name. Puddicombe and Pitt were of an age, and both had attended Pembroke College, Cambridge. This Regular Ode, written in such a way as to underscore Cambridge connections, was doubtless a solicitation for patronage.

Critical Review: "The author of this Ode appears to be animated with his subject. The language, without being tumid, is supported by a pomp of metaphor well adapted to this species of composition: the sentiments are elevated and poetic; and the whole is distinguished by a harmony, sublimity, and ardor of imagination, beyond what is usual in the fleeting publications of the present age" 57 (March 1784) 232-33.



Immerst in more than midnight gloom,
Stript of her wreath and eagle plume,
Opprest Britannia lay;
Her terror and dishevel'd hair,
Her chains, and sceptre fall'n, declare
Fell Faction's tyrant sway.
Insulting Gallia triuimph'd in her doom,
And hop'd th' incumbent shade prophetic of her tomb.

When lo! a dazzling light from far,
More glorious than the Julian star,
Appear'd, and all was gay!
Discord was aw'd, the darkness fled,
Fair Liberty erects her head,
And hails th' auspicious ray,
Whose vital warmth should her lost charms restore,
And cloathe them with a bloom far lovelier than before.

'Twas Pitt! — Illustrious much-lov'd name,
Superior on the rolls of Fame,
To Albion ever dear!
A name, whose venerable sound
Diffuses extasy around,
And dissipates her fear:
This spotless sun, inimitably bright,
Soon vanquish'd and dispell'd the horrors of the night.

Ye virgin choir, harmonious maids,
That wake, in Acidalian shades,
Th' inchantment of the lyre,
Sweep from your silver-chorded shells
Those dulcet notes and warbling spells,
Which kindle epic fire!
Haste from your sacred groves and favourite spring,
Your loftiest numbers chuse, your fairest chaplets bring.

Blend, for his ever-honour'd head,
The brightest amaranths that shed
Their fragrance o'er your bow'rs,
With palms, for ever fresh and fair,
Such as you cull with zealous care,
Mixt with ambrosial flow'rs,
To crown the Patriot's brows, whose virtues claim
The meed of rapturous praise and ever-blooming fame.

Aid me, immortal, sister train,
Oh, dictate the adventurous strain
That dares a theme so high!
Give vigour to each languid line,
Infuse an energy divine,
Bid strength with softness vie,
The song all glowing with Dircaean fire,
Yet liquid — melting — sweet — as the soft Lesbian lyre.

Pourtray him, in mellifluous streams
Pouring his thoughts and patriot schemes
Upon th' attentive ear;
Admiring senates, crowding round,
Hang with amazement on the sound,
And foes are won to hear!
Malice, subdu'd, of all her darts disarm'd,
Sits wondering at the change — her Gorgon snakes are charm'd!

You, smiling, deck'd his infant brows
With laurels and Olympian boughs,
And on his cradle hung,
Intent and anxious to diffuse
Far sweeter than Hyblean dews
Upon his graceful tongue.
Be blest (you cry'd) with eloquence divine,
And with Orphean power to charm the heart be thine.

O how, if unsustain'd by you,
Shall I the glorious mark pursue,
And tune the trembling string!
How of that excellence, whose ray
No force can quench, no fraud allay,
Shall I presume to sing!
Beauteous it shines with an unsullied flame,
Mid Flattery's poisonous breath and Envy's blast the same.

All hail, accomplish'd Youth! in Thee
With reverence and with joy we see
Thy much-lov'd Sire revive:
His soul-o'erpowering eloquence,
Deep-piercing judgement, manly sense,
In thee are all alive.
Still em'lous, his unfading glories view,
Rise on paternal wings, and deathless fame pursue.

Now, like the gently-gliding rill,
Which, stealing down the gradual hill,
Soft-murmurs o'er the flow'rs;
Now, like the torrent, full and strong,
Which thundering swells — then foams along,
And o'er the mountain pours;
Thus thy persuasive accents can controul,
Can sooth to mildest peace, or rouse th' obedient soul!

No selfish mercenary aim
Sullies the whiteness of thy fame,
Chaste as the mountain snow.
How shall I paint that generous zeal
For thy lov'd country's drooping weal,
Which, with unceasing glow,
Reigns o'er each wish, superior and alone,
Still whispering, "To Her bliss, oh! sacrifice thy own!"

How, conscious Rectitude his guide,
He stemm'd Corruption's rapid tide,
Some nobler Muse shall tell:
Dauntless and bold, thus Abdiel stood:
By ill example unsubdued,
When warring angels fell.
Fix'd as th' ethereal poles, he still retain'd
Fair Truth's celestial gem, and the fierce shock disdain'd.

Our rock, our guardian Angel Thou:
To Thee fair Freedom's votaries bow
With many a duteous prayer;
Go on — the Idol of thy age,
Just candour's willing heart engage,
Be Virtue still thy care;
Her champion firm, her injur'd laws maintain,
Lift her dejected head, and propagate her reign.

Yes! he shall ever worthy prove
Of his illustrious Sovereign's love,
Britannia's hope and pride.
O sent by pitying Heaven to save!
Conduct her o'er the dangerous wave,
And at the helm preside:
Thus shall she soon attain the peaceful shore,
And bid, with placid scorn, the blustering billows roar.

Youth!! — Oh, still glory in the name,
And crown thy wondering foes with shame;
Yes, vaunt that glorious crime!
Tell them, that Honour's laurel blows
But for that head (though not with snows
Yet silver'd o'er by Time)
Which turns indignant from fair Folly's smiles,
From Interest's syren call, and Pleasure's serpent wiles.

Oh far — far distant be the hour,
Which bids thee Fate's resistless power
Confess, its yielding prey;
When soaring angels on their wings,
Far from the kindest, best of kings,
Shall waft thy soul away!
Oh, long remain beneath thy kindred skies,
Long be thy Albion's joy, and bless her ravish'd eyes!

[pp. 3-11]