1754
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Night.

The World No. 74 (30 May 1754).

Rev. Charles Parrott


A descriptive ode in eleven couplet-Spenserians, not signed. As is apparent from its meter, imagery, and concluding resolve, the ode is based on Milton's Il Penseroso, though its turn towards sociability is rather out of that character. Charles Parratt (or Parrott, as the name was spelled in later editions of Dodsley's Collection) was a fellow of New College, Oxford; at Oxford he was a contemporary of Robert Lowth and William Whitehead. Not seen.

Robert Chambers: "The World was the next periodical of this class. It was edited by Dr. Moore, author of the tragedy of The Gamester, and other works, and was distinguished by contributions from Horace Walpole, Lord Lyttelton, Soame Jenyns, and the Earl of Chesterfield. The World has the merit of being very readable; its contents are more lively than any of its predecessors, and it is a better picture of the times. It was published weekly, from January 1753 to December 1756, and reached a sale of 2500 a-week" Cyclopaedia of English Literature (1844; 1850) 2:155-56.

In 1788 the Ode to Night was reprinted in several London newspapers in seven stanzas (three new) as "addressed to Cyril Jackson, D.D. Dean of Christ Church, Oxford." Jackson takes the place of the original John Carteret, Lord Granville (1690-1763), who like Jackson was a Christ Church man. The revision conjoins two names seldom linked beyond the pale of this college: Jackson "pleases and instructs the ear, | When he assumes the Critic's chair; | Or from a Chesterfield or Plato draws | The arts of well bred life, and spirit of the laws." Cyril Jackson (1746-1819) became Dean of Christ Church in 1783, devoting himself to university reform while declining several offers of a bishopric.

Lord Holland: "John Carteret, Earl of Granveille, was early distinguished in business, and sent Embassador to Denmark, and made Secretary of State when very young; but attempting to undermine Sir Robert Walpole, he was removed to the Lieutenancy of Ireland, and afterwards entirely laid aside. He became the principal speaker against the Court in the House of Lords; but towards the end of that Opposition, he was compelled by his associates, who suspected that he was negociating a peace for himself, to make the famous motion for removing Sir Robert Walpole, on whose fall he was again made Secretary of State" Memoirs of the Reign of King George II (1847) 1:168n.

Ralph Straus: "The paper, conceived and carried out in such a good-humoured spirit, scored an immediate success, and in a little time Moore was able to tell Joe Warton that Dodsley was obliged to print 2500 copies of each number — a large circulation for those days" Robert Dodsley (1910) 188.



The busy cares of day are done;
In yonder western clouds the sun
Now sets, in other worlds to rise,
And fills with light the nether skies:
With lingering pace the parting day retires,
And slowly leaves the mountain tops, and gilded spires.

Yon azure cloud, enrob'd with white,
Still shoots a gleam of fainter light:
At length descends a browner shade;
At length the glim'ring objects fade:
Till all submit to NIGHT'S impartial reign,
And undistinguish'd Darkness covers all the plain.

No more the ivy-crowned oak
Resounds beneath the wood-man's stroke.
Now silence holds her solemn sway;
Mute is each bush, and ev'ry spray:
Nought but the sound of murm'ring rills is heard,
Or, from the mould'ring tow'r, NIGHT'S solitary bird.

Hail sacred hour of peaceful rest!
Of pow'r to charm the troubled breast!
By thee the captive slave obtains
Short respite from his galling pains;
Nor sighs for liberty, nor native spoil;
But for a while forgets his chains, and sultry toil.

No horrors hast thou in thy train,
No scorpion lash, no clanking chain.
When the pale murd'rer round him spies
A thousand grisly forms arise,
When shrieks and groans arouse his palsy'd fear,
'Tis guilt alarms his soul, and conscience wounds his ear.

The village swain whom Phillis charms,
Whose breast the tender passion warms,
Wishes for thy all-shadowing veil,
To tell the fair his lovesick tale:
Nor less impatient of the tedious day,
She longs to hear his tale, and sigh her soul away.

Oft by the covert of thy shade
LEANDER woo'd the THRACIAN maid;
Through foaming seas his passion bore,
Nor fear'd the ocean's thund'ring roar.
The conscious virgin from the sea-girt tow'r
Hung out the faithful torch to guide him to her bow'r.

Oft at thy silent hour the sage
Pores on the fair instructive page;
Or wrapt in musings deep, his soul
Mounts active to the starry pole:
There pleas'd to range the realms of endless night,
Numbers the stars, or marks the comet's devious light.

Thine is the hour of converse sweet,
When sprightly wit and reason meet:
Wit, the fair blossom of the mind,
But fairer still with reason join'd.
Such is the feast thy social hours afford,
When eloquence and GRANVILLE join the friendly board.

GRANVILLE, whose polish'd mind is fraught
With all that ROME or GREECE e'er taught;
Who pleases and instructs the ear,
When he assumes the critic's chair,
Or from the STAGYRITE or PLATO draws
The arts of civil life, the spirit of the laws.

O let me often thus employ
The hour of mirth and social joy!
And glean from GRANVILLE'S learned store
Fair science and true wisdom's lore.
Then will I still implore thy longer stay,
Nor change thy festive hours for sunshine and the day.

[Dodsley (1755) 4:307-09]