ODE To the Right Honourable FRANCIS Earl of HUNTINGDON.
I. 1.[Page 16]
1 THE wife and great of every clime,
2 Through all thy spacious walks of Time,
3 Where'er the Muse her power display'd,
4 With joy have listen'd and obey'd.
5 For, taught of heaven, the sacred Nine
6 Persuasive numbers, forms divine,
7 To mortal sense impart:
8 They best the soul with glory fire;
9 They noblest counsels, boldest deeds inspire;
10 And high o'er Fortune's rage inthrone the fixed heart.
11 Nor less prevailing is their charm
12 The vengeful bosom to disarm;
13 To melt the proud with human woe,
14 And prompt unwilling tears to flow.
15 Can wealth a power like this afford?
16 Can Cromwell's arts, or Marlborough's sword,
17 An equal empire claim?
18 No, HASTINGS. Thou my words wilt own:
19 Thy breast the gifts of every Muse hath known;
20 Nor shall the giver's love disgrace thy noble name.
21 The Muse's awful art,
22 And the fair function of the poet's tongue,
23 Ne'er shalt thou blush to honour; to assert
24 From all that scorned vice or slavish fear hath sung.
25 Nor shall the blandishment of Tuscan strings
26 Warbling at will in pleasure's myrtle bower;
27 Nor shall the baser notes to Celtic kings
28 By lying minstrels paid in evil hour,
29 Move Thee to spurn the heavenly Muse's reign.
30 A different strain,
31 And other themes
32 From her prophetic shades and hallow'd streams
33 (Thou well can'st witness) meet the purged ear:
34 Such, as when Greece to her immortal shell
35 Rejoicing listen'd, godlike sounds to hear;
36 To hear the sweet instructress tell[Page 17]
37 (While men and heroes throng'd around)
38 How life its noblest use may find,
39 How best for freedom be resign'd;
40 And how, by glory, virtue shall be crown'd.
41 Such was the*
* Homer.Chian father's strain
42 To many a kind domestic train,
43 Whose pious hearth and genial bowl
44 Had cheer'd the reverend pilgrim's soul:
45 When, every hospitable rite
46 With equal bounty to requite,
47 He struck his magic strings;
48 And pour'd spontaneous numbers forth,
49 And seiz'd their ears with tales of ancient worth,
50 And fill'd their musing hearts with vast heroic things.
II. 2.[Page 18]
51 Now oft, where happy spirits dwell,
52 Where yet he tunes his charming shell,
53 Oft near him, with applauding hands,
54 The genius of his country stands.
55 To listening gods he makes him known,
56 That man divine, by whom were sown
57 The seeds of Graecian fame:
58 Who first the race with freedom fir'd;
59 From whom Lycurgus Sparta's sons inspir'd;
60 From whom Plataean palms and Cyprian trophies came.
61 O noblest, happiest age!
62 When Aristides rul'd, and Cimon fought;
63 When all the generous fruits of Homer's page
64 Exulting Pindar saw to full perfection brought.
65 O Pindar, oft shalt thou be hail'd of me:
66 Not that Apollo fed thee from his shrine;
67 Not that thy lips drank sweetness from the bee;
68 Nor yet that, studious of thy notes divine,
69 Pan danc'd their measure with the sylvan throng;
70 But that thy song
71 Was proud to unfold
72 What thy base rulers trembled to behold;
73 Amid corrupted Thebes was proud to tell
74 The deeds of Athens and the Persian shame:
75 Hence on thy head their impious vengeance fell.
76 But thou, O faithful to thy fame,
77 The Muse's law didst rightly know;
78 That who would animate his lays,
79 And other minds to virtue raise,
80 Must feel his own with all her spirit glow.
81 Are there, approv'd of later times,
82 Whose verse adorn'd a*
* Octavius Caesar.tyrant's crimes?
83 Who saw majestic Rome betray'd,
84 And lent the imperial ruffian aid?[Page 19]
85 Alas! not one polluted bard,
86 No, not the strains that Mincius heard,
87 Or Tibur's hills reply'd,
88 Dare to the Muse's ear aspire;
89 Save that, instructed by the Graecian lyre,
90 With freedom's ancient notes their shameful task they hide.
91 Mark, how the dread Pantheon stands,
92 Amid the domes of modern hands:
93 Amid the toys of idle state,
94 How simply, how severely great!
95 Then turn, and, while each western clime
96 Presents her tuneful sons to Time,
97 So mark thou Milton's name;
98 And add, "Thus differs from the throng
99 "The spirit which inform'd thy aweful song,
100 "Which bade thy potent voice protect thy country's fame."
101 Yet hence barbaric zeal
102 His memory with unholy rage pursues;
103 While from these arduous cares of public weal
104 She bids each bard begone, and rest him with his Muse.
105 O fool! to think the man, whose ample mind
106 Must grasp at all that yonder stars survey;
107 Must join the noblest form of every kind,
108 The world's most perfect image to display,
109 Can e'er his country's majesty behold,
110 Unmov'd or cold![Page 20]
111 O fool! to deem
112 That He, whose thought must visit every theme,
113 Whose heart must every strong emotion know
114 By nature planted, or by fortune taught;
115 That He, if haply some presumptuous foe,
116 With false ignoble science fraught,
117 Shall spurn at freedom's faithful band;
118 That He, their dear defence will shun,
119 Or hide their glories from the sun,
120 Or deal their vengeance with a woman's hand!
121 I care not that in Arno's plain,
122 Or on the sportive banks of Seine,
123 From public themes the Muse's quire
124 Content with polish'd ease retire.
125 Where priests the studious head command,
126 Where tyrants bow the warlike hand
127 To vile ambition's aim,
128 Say, what can public themes afford,
129 Save venal honours to an hateful lord,
130 Reserv'd for angry heaven and scorn'd of honest fame?
131 But here, where freedom's equal throne
132 To all her valiant sons is known;
133 Where all are conscious of her cares,
134 And each the power, that rules him, shares;
135 Here let the bard, whose daftard tongue
136 Leaves public arguments unsung,[Page 21]
137 Bid public praise farewell:
138 Let him to fitter climes remove,
139 Far from the heroe's and the patriot's love,
140 And lull mysterious monks to slumber in their cell.
141 O HASTINGS, not to all
142 Can ruling heav'n the same endowments lend:
143 Yet still doth nature to her offspring call,
144 That to one general weal their different powers they bend,
145 Unenvious. Thus alone, though strains divine
146 Inform the bosom of the Muse's son;
147 Though with new honours the patrician's line
148 Advance from age to age; yet thus alone
149 They win the suffrage of impartial fame,
150 The poet's name
151 He best shall prove,
152 Whose lays the soul with noblest passions move.
153 But thee, O progeny of heroes old,
154 Thee to severer toils thy fate requires:
155 The fate which form'd thee in a chosen mould,
156 The grateful country of thy sires,
157 Thee to sublimer paths demand;
158 Sublimer than thy sires could trace,
159 Or thy own EDWARD teach his race,
160 Though Gaul's proud genius sank beneath his hand.
161 From rich domains and subject farms,
162 They led the rustic youth to arms;[Page 22]
163 And kings their stern atchievements fear'd;
164 While private strife their banners rear'd.
165 But loftier scenes to thee are shown,
166 Where empire's wide-establish'd throne
167 No private master fills:
168 Where, long foretold, The People reigns:
169 Where each a vassal's humble heart disdains;
170 And judgeth what he sees; and, as he judgeth, wills.
171 Here be it thine to calm and guide
172 The swelling democratic tide;
173 To watch the state's uncertain frame,
174 And baffle faction's partial aim:
175 But chiefly, with determin'd zeal,
176 To quell that servile band, who kneel
177 To freedom's banish'd foes;
178 That monster, which is daily found
179 Expert and bold thy country's peace to wound;
180 Yet dreads to handle arms, nor manly counsel knows.
181 'Tis highest heaven's command,
182 That guilty aims should sordid paths pursue;
183 That what ensnares the heart should curb the hand,
184 And virtue's worthless foes be false to glory too.
185 But look on freedom. see, through every age,
186 What labours, perils, griefs, hath she disdain'd!
187 What arms, what regal pride, what priestly rage,
188 Have her dread offspring conquer'd or sustain'd![Page 23]
189 For Albion well have conquer'd. Let the strains
190 Of happy swains,
191 Which now resound
192 Where Scarsdale's cliffs the swelling pastures bound,
193 Bear witness. there, oft let the farmer hail
194 The sacred orchard which imbowers his gate,
195 And shew to strangers passing down the vale,
196 Where Candish, Booth, and Osborne fate;
197 When bursting from their country's chain,
198 Even in the midst of deadly harms,
199 Of papal snares and lawless arms,
200 They plann'd for freedom this her aweful reign.
201 This reign, these laws, this public care,
202 Which Nassau gave us all to share,
203 Had ne'er adorn'd the English name,
204 Could fear have silenc'd freedom's claim.
205 But fear in vain attempts to bind
206 Those lofty efforts of the mind
207 Which social good inspires;
208 Where men, for this, assault a throne,
209 Each adds the common welfare to his own;
210 And each unconquer'd heart the strength of all acquires.
211 Say, was it thus, when late we view'd
212 Our fields in civil blood imbrued?
213 When fortune crown'd the barbarous host,
214 And half the astonish'd isle was lost?[Page 24]
215 Did one of all that vaunting train,
216 Who dare affront a peaceful reign,
217 Durst one in arms appear?
218 Durst one in counsels pledge his life?
219 Stake his luxurious fortunes in the strife?
220 Or lend his boasted name his vagrant friends to cheer?
221 Yet, HASTINGS, these are they,
222 Who challenge to themselves thy country's love:
223 The true; the constant: who alone can weigh,
224 What glory should demand, or Liberty approve!
225 But let their works declare them. Thy free powers,
226 The generous powers of thy prevailing mind,
227 Not for the tasks of their confederate hours,
228 Lewd brawls and lurking slander, were design'd.
229 Be thou thy own approver. Honest praise
230 Oft nobly sways
231 Ingenuous youth:
232 But, sought from cowards and the lying mouth,
233 Praise is reproach. Eternal GOD alone
234 For mortals fixeth that sublime award.
235 He, from the faithful records of his throne,
236 Bids the historian and the bard
237 Dispose of honour and of scorn;
238 Discern the patriot from the slave;
239 And write the good, the wise, the brave,
240 For lessons to the multitude unborn.
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About this text
Title (in Source Edition): ODE To the Right Honourable FRANCIS Earl of HUNTINGDON. MDCCXLVII.
Author: Mark Akenside
Themes: poetry; literature; writing; virtue; vice
Headnote: First printed by Dodsley in 1748.
References: DMI 27802
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