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Ir, dumb too long, the drooping Muse hath stayed,
And left her debt to Addison unpaid;
Blame not her silence, Warwick, but bemoan,
And judge, oh, judge, my bosom by your own.
What mourner ever felt poetic fires!
Slow comes the verse that real woe inspires:
Grief unaffected suits but ill with art,
Or flowing numbers with a bleeding heart.
Can I forget the dismal night, that gave
My soul's best part for ever to the grave!
How silent did his old companions tread,
By midnight lamps, the mansions of the dead,
Through breathing statues, then unheeded things,
Through rows of warriors, and through walks of kings!
What awe did the slow solemn knell inspire!
The pealing organ, and the pausing choir;
The duties by the lawn-robed prelate paid;
And the last words, that dust to dust conveyed!
While speechless o'er thy closing grave we bend,
Accept these tears, thou dear departed friend!
gone for ever, take this long adieu;
And sleep in peace, next thy loved Montagu!
To strew fresh laurels, let the task be mine;
A frequent pilgrim at thy sacred shrine;
Mine with true sighs thy absence to bemoan,
And grave with faithful epitaphs thy stone.
If e'er from me thy loved memorial part,
May shame afflict this alienated heart;
Of thee forgetful if I form a song,
My lyre be broken, and untuned my tongue,
My griefs be doubled, from thy image free,
And mirth a torment, unchastised by thee.
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,
And turn from ill a frail and feeble heart;
Lead through the paths thy virtue trode before,
Till bliss shall join, nor death can part us more.
That awful form (which, so ye heavens decree,
Must still be loved, and still deplored by me)
In nightly visions seldom fails to rise,
Or, roused by fancy, meets my waking eyes.
If business calls, or crowded courts invite,
Th' unblemished statesman seems to strike my sight;
If in the stage I seek to soothe my care,
I meet his soul, which breathes in Cato there :
If pensive to the rural shades I rove,
His shape o'ertakes me in the lonely grove:
'Twas there of Just and Good he reasoned strong,
Cleared some great truth, or raised some serious song;
There patient showed us the wise course to steer,
A candid censor, and a friend severe ;
There taught us how to live; and (oh! too high
The price for knowledge) taught us how to die.
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,
Some refuge in the muse's art I found:
Reluctant now I touch the trembling string,
Bereft of him, who taught me how to sing,
And these sad accents, murmured o'er his urn,
Betray that absence they attempt to mourn.
Oh! must I then (now fresh my bosom bleeds,
And Craggs in death to Addison succeeds)
The verse, begun to one lost friend, prolong,
And weep a second in th' unfinished song!
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.
How long, great poet, shall thy sacred lays
Provoke our wonder, and transcend our praise?
Can neither injuries of time, nor age,
Damp thy poetic heat, and quench thy rage?
Not so thy Ovid in his exile wrote;
Grief chill'd his breast, and check'd his rising thought;
Pensive and sad, his drooping muse betrays
The Roman genius in its last decays.
Prevailing warmth has still thy mind possest,
And second youth is kindled in thy breast;
Thou mak'st the beauties of the Romans known,
And England boasts of riches not her own;
Thy lines have heighten'd Virgil's majesty,
And Horace wonders at himself in thee.
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 i some such way.