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THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
EARL OF WARWICK, &c.
IF, dumb too long, the drooping Muse hath stayed,
Can I forget the dismal night, that gave
To strew fresh laurels, let the task be mine;
Oft let me range the gloomy aisles alone, (Sad luxury! to vulgar minds unknown,) Along the walls where speaking marbles show What worthies form the hallowed mould below: Proud names, who once the reins of empire held; In arms who triumphed, or in arts excelled; Chiefs, graced with scars, and prodigal of blood; Stern patriots, who for sacred freedom stood; Just men, by whom impartial laws were given; And saints, who taught, and led, the way to heaven. Ne'er to these chambers where the mighty rest, Since their foundation, came a nobler guest, Nor e'er was to the bowers of bliss conveyed A fairer spirit, or more welcome shade.
In what new region to the just assigned, What new employments please th' unbodied mind? A winged Virtue, through th' ethereal sky, From world to world unwearied does he fly; Or curious trace the long laborious maze Of heaven's decrees, where wondering angels gaze ? Does he delight to hear bold seraphs tell, How Michael battled, and the Dragon fell? Or, mixt with milder cherubim, to glow In hymns of love, not ill essay'd below? Or dost thou warn poor mortals left behind, A task well suited to thy gentle mind? Oh, if sometimes thy spotless form descend, To me thy aid, thou guardian Genius, lend! When rage misguides me, or when fear alarms, When pain distresses, or when pleasure charms,
In silent whisperings purer thoughts impart,
That awful form (which, so ye heavens decree,
Or, roused by fancy, meets my waking eyes.
I meet his soul, which breathes in Cato there:
Thou hill, whose brow the antique structures grace, Reared by bold chiefs of Warwick's noble race, Why, once so loved, whene'er thy bower appears, O'er my dim eye-balls glance the sudden tears? How sweet were once thy prospects, fresh and fair, Thy sloping walks, and unpolluted air! How sweet the glooms beneath thy aged trees, Thy noon-tide shadow, and thy evening breeze! His image thy forsaken bowers restore; Thy walks and airy prospects charm no more; No more the summer in thy glooms allayed, Thy evening breezes, and thy noon-day shade.
From other ills, however fortune frowned,
The verse, begun to one lost friend, prolong,
These works divine, which, on his death-bed laid, To thee, O Craggs, th' expiring Sage conveyed, Great, but ill-omened, monument of fame; Nor he survived to give, nor thou to claim. Swift after him thy social spirit flies, And close to his, how soon! thy coffin lies. Blest pair! whose union future bards shall tell In future tongues: each other's boast! farewell. Farewell! whom joined in fame, in friendship tried, No chance could sever, nor the grave divide.
ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS.
TO MR. DRYDEN.1
How long, great poet, shall thy sacred lays
Damp thy poetic heat, and quench thy rage?
Grief chill'd his breast, and check'd his rising thought;
Prevailing warmth has still thy mind possest,
It would not be fair to criticise our author's poetry, especially the poetry of his younger days, very exactly. He was not a poet born: or, he had not studied, with sufficient care, the best models of English poetry. Whatever the cause might be, he had not the command of what Dryden so eminently possessed, a truly poetic diction. His poetry is only pure prose put into verse. And
“Non satis est puris versum perscribere verbis.” However, it may not be amiss to point out the principal defects of his expression, that his great example may not be pleaded in excuse of them.
2 Thou mak'st.] Vide after, Thou teachest.] This way of using verbs of the present and imperfect tense, in the second person singular, should be utterly banished from our poetry. The sound is intolerable. Milton and others have rather chosen to violate grammar itself, than offend the ear thus unmercifully. This liberty may, perhaps, be taken sometimes, in the greater poetry; in odes especially. But the better way will generally be, to turn the expression differently, as, 'Tis thine to teach, or in some such way.