1770
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Liberty, on the Anniversary of his Majesty's Accession to the Throne.

Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement 10 (24 October 1770) 116-17.

John Tait


A Miltonic allegorical ode, signed "J. Tait," composed to memorialize the first decade of the king's reign. The Goddess Liberty descends to George III: "On him she bade her influence shine, | With all her radiant charms divine; | To him resign'd the cap and rod, | And bade the nations own his nod; | While he, with gen'rous heart, bestow'd | Her treasures for the public good." Nor does she travel alone: her retinue includes Art, Science, Commerce, Industry, Trade, and Justice. The mode in this poem had become something like the house style of George's reign; Robert Southey would return to it in his hapless Vision of Judgment written to mark its conclusion. John Tait, who would later publish a Spenserian allegory entitled The Land of Liberty, was at this point a prolific young poet in search of patronage.



Welcome, thrice auspicious day!
Sweeter than the vernal May;
Smiling mirth without alloy;
Laughing wit and social ease,
And each happy child of peace.
Come, then Goddess, blyth and free,
Heaven-descended LIBERTY;
Come with all thy jocund train,
From the variegated plain;
From the flower-bespangled dale,
Where the Zephyrs fan the gale;
Where the shepherd tends his flock
Underneath the pendant rock;
From the meadow's fragrant pride,
Where the soothing streamlets glide;
From the woodland's shady grove,
And each rural haunt of love;
From the city's splendid courts,
And the scenes where fortune sports:
Come, to GEORGE your tribute pay
On this fame-distinguish'd day;
When first to grace the British throne
He rose with lustre all his own.
See the Goddess wings her flight
From the fields of endless light;
Fair her form, her manners sweet,
Nature smiles beneath her feet;
Her presence every object charms,
And every breast to rapture warms.
In gentle accents, and with brow serene,
She calls her children from each pleasing scene.

See, they come! the frolic band,
Gayly frisking o'er the plain;
Soft they move with aspects bland,
And the MUSES lead the train.

Hark, hark, they touch the vocal strings;
With rapture's blaze the numbers rise;
And, borne on Aether's fleeting wrings,
To GEORGE the grateful strain they raise,
To GEORGE, who merits all their praise;
For him, their friend, their noblest wreathes they twine;
For him, their patron, swell the glowing line.

FANCY too appears attendant,
Keen her look, and bright her eye;
On her arm a robe dependent
Hangs, of Nature's various dye.
Welcome, sweet bewitching creature,
Firer of the Muse's song!
Most delightful child of Nature,
Charmer of the heavenly throng!

And see what fairy forms advance,
Joining in the sprightly dance,
Ever blythe and gay;
'Tis the Graces, Loves, and Pleasures,
Tripping light in wanton measures,
Pouring out their choicest treasures
On this happy day.

Fraught with the spoils of many years,
Behold each sister ART appears,
Cloath'd with celestial flame;
Each SCIENCE rears her laurel'd head,
Distinguish'd by the noblest meed,
A Sov'reign's just acclaim.
Rich COMMERCE comes, the sire of wealth,
And INDUSTRY, the friend of health,
With native lustre crown'd,
With TRADE, who every land explores,
And pours profuse his boundless stores,
Where Liberty is found.
Fair JUSTICE, darting heavenly rays,
Her open generous front displays,
The guardian of the whole;
With ruthless Law, of brow severe,
And Pity, mild with beaming fear,
"That speaks the very soul."
The Virtues too adorn'd the scene,
Led on by Innocence their queen,
Who wears eternal smiles;
Whose peaceful breast still feels the fire
Of dauntless Truth, her blissful fire,
And mocks all human wiles.

Such was the train the Goddess led,
When to Britannia's plaints she sped,
Encircled with a blaze of day,
To Thames's banks she wing'd her way,
And, fir'd with rapture at each view,
To GEORGE'S arms extatic flew:
On him she bade her influence shine,
With all her radiant charms divine;
To him resign'd the cap and rod,
And bade the nations own his nod;
While he, with gen'rous heart, bestow'd
Her treasures for the public good,
Profusely spreading o'er the land
Her blessings with a liberal hand.
Such bounteous gifts great GEORGE alone bestows,
Such blissful days Britannia only knows.

Then let each British swain rejoice,
With acclamations swell your voice,
The grateful voice of praise;
Raise, raise aloud sweet music's sound,
Let hills and dales your joy resound,
And nature catch the blaze.
Dispel discord and factious strife,
And all that sours your bliss of life,
Join Concord's happy band;
Contract yourselves in Friendship's ties,
Let unanimity arise
Throughout the British land.

That peace shall every blessing bring,
"To Britain, and to Britain's king."
And when the firy God of war
Shall mount his blood besprinkl'd car,
Britain obedient, at his call,
Triumphant in the bloody field,
Still shall she wear the victor shield:
Her dauntless sons of death shall check the pride of SPAIN,
And prove her noblest claim the empire of the main.

[pp. 116-17]