In MEMORY of the Rt. Hon. Lord Aubrey Beauclerk, Who was slain at CARTHAGENA.
(Written in the year 1743, at the request of his Lady.)
1 Shall so much worth in silence pass away,
2 And no recording muse that worth display?
3 Shall public spirit like the private die,
4 The coward with the brave promiscuous lie?
5 The hero's toils should be the muses care,
6 In peace their guardian, and their shield in war:
7 Alike inspir'd, they mutual succours lend;
8 The Muses His, and He the Muses friend.
9 To me the solemn lyre you reach in vain,
10 The simple warbler of some idle strain.
11 What tho' the hero's fate the lay demands,
12 What tho' impell'd and urg'd by your commands;[Page 37]
13 Yet, weak of flight, in vain I prune the wing,
14 And, diffident of voice, attempt to sing.
15 What dreadful slaughter on the western coast!
16 How many gallant warriors Britain lost,
17 A British muse would willingly conceal;
18 But what the muse would hide, our tears reveal.
19 Pensive, we oft recal those fatal shores,
20 Where Carthagena lifts her warlike tow'rs.
21 High o'er the deep th' embattl'd fortress heaves
22 Its awful front, its basis in the waves;
23 Without impregnable by nature's care,
24 And arm'd within with all the rage of war.
25 Deep in oblivion sink th' ill-omen'd hour,
26 That call'd our legions to the baneful shore!
27 Where death, in all her horrid pomp array'd,
28 O'er the pale clime her direful influ'nce shed.
29 Want, famine, war, and pestilential breath,
30 All act subservient to the rage of death.
31 Those whom the wave, or fiercer war would spare,
32 Yeild to the clime, and sink in silence there:[Page 38]
33 No friend to close their eyes, no pitying guest
34 To drop the silent tear, or strike the pensive breast.
35 Here Douglas fell, the gallant and the brave!
36 Here much-lamented Watson found a grave.
37 Here, early try'd, and acting but too well,
38 The lov'd, ennobled, gen'rous Beauclerk fell.
39 Just as the spring of life began to bloom,
40 When ev'ry grace grew softer on the tomb;
41 In all that health and energy of youth,
42 Which promis'd honours of maturer growth;
43 When round his head the warriour laurel sprung,
44 And temp'rance brac'd the nerve which valour strung;
45 When his full heart expanded to the goal,
46 And promis'd victory had flush'd his soul,
47 He fell! — His country lost her earliest boast;
48 His family a faithful guardian lost;
49 His friend a safe companion; and his wife,
50 Her last resource, her happiness in life.
51 O ever honour'd, ever happy shade!
52 How well hast thou thy debt to virtue paid! [Page 39]
53 Brave, active, undismay'd in all the past;
54 Compos'd, intrepid, steady to the last.
55 When half thy limbs, and more than half was lost
56 Of life, thy valour still maintain'd it's post:
57 Gave the last signal*
* After both his legs were shot off. See the account of his death in the prose-inscription in Westminster-Abbey, written by the author, under his Lady's directions. The verse by Dr. Young. for thy country's good,
58 And, dying, seal'd it with thy purest blood.
59 Say, what is Life? and wherefore was it giv'n?
60 What the design, the purpose mark'd by Heav'n?
61 Was it in lux'ry to dissolve the span,
62 To raise the animal, and sink the man?
63 In the soft bands of pleasure, idly gay,
64 To frolic the immortal gift away?
65 To tell the tale, or flow'ry wreath to bind,
66 Then shoot away, and leave no track behind?
67 Arise no duties from the social tie?
68 No kindred virtues from our native sky? [Page 40]
69 No truths from reason, and the thought intense?
70 Nothing result from soul, but all from sense?
71 O thoughtless reptile, Man! — Born! yet ask why?
72 Truly, for something serious — Born to die.
73 Knowing this truth, can we be wife too soon?
74 And this once known, sure something's to be done —
75 To live's to suffer; act, is to exist;
76 And life, at best, a trial, not a feast:
77 Our bus'ness virtue; and when that is done,
78 We cannot sit too late, or rise too soon.
79 "Virtue! — What is it? — Whence does it arise!"
80 Ask of the brave, the social, and the wife;
81 Of those who study'd for the gen'ral good,
82 Of those who sought, and purchas'd it with blood;
83 Of those who build, or plant, or who design,
84 Ev'n those who dig the soil, or work the mine.
85 If yet not clearly seen, or understood;
86 Ask the humane, the pious, and the good.
87 To no one station, stage, or part confin'd,
88 No single act of body, or of mind;[Page 41]
89 But whate'er lovely, just, or fit we call,
90 The fair result, the congregate of all.
91 The active mind, ascending by degrees,
92 Its various ties, relations, duties sees:
93 Examines parts, thence rising to the whole,
94 Sees the connexion, chain, and spring of soul;
95 Th' eternal source! from whose pervading ray
96 We caught the flame, and kindled into day.
97 Hence the collected truths coercive rise,
98 Oblige as nat'ral, or as moral ties.
99 Son, brother, country, friend demand our care;
100 The common bounty all partake, must share.
101 Hence virtue in its source, and in its end,
102 To God as relative, to Man as friend.
103 O friend to truth! to virtue! to thy kind!
104 O early call'd to leave these ties behind!
105 How shall the muse her vary'd tribute pay,
106 Indulge the tear, and not debase the lay!
107 Come, fair example of heroic truth!
108 Descend, and animate the British youth:[Page 42]
109 Now, when their country's wrongs demand their care,
110 And proud Iberia meditates the war:
111 Now, while the trumpet sounds her shrill alarms,
112 And calls forth all her gen'rous sons to arms;
113 Pour all thy genius, all thy martial fire
114 O'er the brave youth, and ev'ry breast inspire.
115 Say, this is virtue, glory, honour, fame,
116 To rise from sloth, and catch the martial flame.
117 When fair occasion calls their vigour forth,
118 To meet the call, and vindicate its worth:
119 To rouse, to kindle, animate, combine,
120 Revenge their country's wrongs, and think on Thine.
121 Go, happy shade! to where the good, and blest
122 Enjoy eternal scenes of bliss and rest:
123 While we below thy sudden farewel mourn,
124 Collect thy virtues, weeping o'er the urn;
125 Recal their scatter'd lustre as they past,
126 And see them all united in the last.
127 So the bright orb, which gilds the groves and streams,
128 Mildly diffusive of his golden beams;[Page 43]
129 Drawn to a point, his strong concenter'd rays
130 More fulgent glow, and more intensely blaze.
131 And Thou! late partner of his softer hour,
132 Ordain'd but just to meet, and meet no more;
133 Say, with the virtues how each grace combin'd!
134 How brave, yet social! how resolv'd, yet kind!
135 With manners how sincere! polite with ease!
136 How diffident! and yet how sure to please!
137 Was he of ought but infamy afraid?
138 Was he not modest as the blushing maid?
139 Asham'd to flatter, eager to commend;
140 A gen'rous master, and a steady friend.
141 Humane to all, but warm'd when virtuous grief,
142 Or silent modesty, imply'd relief.
143 Pure in his principles, unshaken, just;
144 True to his God, and faithful to his trust.
145 Beauclerk, farewel! — If, with thy virtues warm'd,
146 And not too fondly, or too rashly charm'd,[Page 44]
147 I strive the tributary dirge to pay,
148 And form the pinion to the hasty lay;
149 The feeble, but well-meaning flight excuse:
150 Perhaps hereafter some more gen'rous muse,
151 Touch'd with thy fate, with genius at command,
152 May snatch the pencil from the female hand;
153 And give the perfect portrait, bold and free,
154 In numbers such as Young's, and worthy Thee.