"Enchanting Spenser plum'd his Fairy-wing, | Though Famine pinch'd him with her venom'd sting": the author of the Faerie Queene appears with Homer, Thomas Otway, and Thomas Chatterton in a poem written for the annual meeting of the Literary Fund, a charity offering support to distressed writers and their families. "Sydenham" is Floyer Sydenham (1710-1787), whose Essay on the Divine Names according to the Platonic Philosophy was published in 1784. He was a barrister of Lincoln's Inn, in which capacity Hardinge might have known him personally.
Some two or three dozen addresses read at the Literary Fund were published in London newspapers and magazines; this posthumously-published poem by Hardinge seems to have been written in emulation of those appearing in the prints. It appears among the vast trove of topical verse in Hardinge's papers published by John Nichols in 1818.
British Critic: "The second volume is wholly occupied by five hundred and twenty-eight pages of rhyme, from wich we must endeavour to escape as quickly as possible.... Those of our readers who remember the titles prefixed to the effusions of the Della Crusca school, which Mr. Gifford has immortalized in his Baviad and Maeviad, may recognize an occasional likeness in Mr. George Hardinge's vers de Societe. We find among them — Sonnet on a beautiful Girl, a Milkmaid, aged 14 — On walking through a lane between the Kingston gate of Richmond Park and Canbury House, now destroyed — Admiral Gell, an angel of goodness, but a great swearer — On the performance of Mrs. William Cumberland upon the harp, accompanied by her voice, in a song written by Richard Cumberland, Esq. her father-in-law, upon her infant child, and set by her — On Mrs. Moody and Mrs. Inchbald becoming friends in one day — On seeing two beautiful Girls, just in their teens, with books in their hands, from which they were endeavouring to repeat their tasks — The Body and the Mind, occasioned by a fit of the cholic, a painful cough, and a fever, at the moment of a severe affliction" NS 11 (Feburary 1819) 210.
When Homer begg'd his way from door to door,
The base neglect his genius proudly bore;
With glance prophetic, though of sight bereft,
The sublunary world indignant left;
Anticipated Fame with sure demand,
And plac'd on Time's award his glowing hand.
When o'er the harp his magic language flew,
The dead awaken'd, and immortal, grew.
The Denizen of Nature's genial clime
To every age was present and sublime.
Enchanting Spenser plum'd his Fairy-wing,
Though Famine pinch'd him with her venom'd sting:
Pathetic Otway sigh'd in vain for bread,
Kill'd by the morsel that his hunger fed;
The hapless Forger died of human scorn,
To Inspiration's deathless honours born:
Though Plato's mantle was on Sydenham cast,
The Debtor was in chains, and breath'd his last;
Compassion, Taste, and Genius, rung his knell;
The tears of Science on his ashes fell.
Deploring him with provident regret,
You thought of other Sydenhams lingering yet;
With gentle voice the panting spirit cheer'd,
And for the Pilgrim's feet this temple rear'd;
If Genius owns him by the world oppress'd,
Encouragement is here, as well as rest:
His bright conceptions to the age are shewn,
His feelings cherish'd, and his virtues known.