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RECOMMENDATORY VERSES.

ON READING

MR. WATTS'S POEMS

SACRED TO PIETY AND DEVOTION.

REGARD the man, who, in seraphic lays,
And flowing numbers, sings his Maker's praise:
He needs invoke no fabled Muse's art,

The heavenly song comes genuine from his heart,
From that pure heart which God has deign'd t'inspire
With holy raptures, and a sacred fire.

Thrice happy man! whose soul and guiltless breast
Are well prepar'd to lodge th' Almighty guest!
"Tis he that lends thy towering thoughts their wing,
And tunes thy lyre, when thou attempt'st to sing:
He to thy soul lets-in celestial day,
Ev'n whilst imprison'd in this mortal clay.
By Death's grim aspect thou art not aların'd,
He, for thy sake, has death itself disarm'd;
Nor shall the Grave o'er thee a victory boast;
Her triumph in thy rising shall be lost,
When thou shalt join th' angelic choirs above,
In never-ending songs of praise and love.

TO MR. WATTS,

ON HIS POEMS.

To murmuring streams, in tender strains,
My pensive Muse no more

Of love's enchanting force complains,
Along the flowery shore.

No more Mirtillo's fatal face

My quiet breast alarms;

His eyes, his air, and youthful grace,
Have lost their usual charms.

No gay Alexis in the grove
Shall be my future theme:

I burn with an immortal love,
And sing a purer flame.

Seraphic heights I seem to gain,
And sacred transports feel,
While, WATTS, to thy celestial strain,
Surpris'd, I listen still.

The gliding streams their course forbear,
When I thy lays repeat;

The bending forest lends an ear,
The birds their notes forget.
With such a graceful harmony
Thy numbers still prolong;
And let remotest lands reply,
And echo to thy song,

Far as the distant regions, where
The beauteous Morning springs,
And scatters odours through the air,
From her resplendent wings;

Unto the new-found realms, which see
The latter Sun arise,

When, with an easy progress, he
Rolls down the nether skies.

EUSEBIA.

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TO MR. WATTS,

ON READING HIS HORE LYRIC

HAIL, heaven-born Muse! that, with celestial flame,
And high seraphic numbers, durst attempt
To gain thy native skies. No common theme
Merits thy thought, self-conscious of a sout
Superior, though on Earth detain'd awhile;
Like some propitious angel, that 's design'd
A resident in this inferior orb,

To guide the wandering souls to heavenly bliss,
Thou seem't; while thou their everlasting songs
Hast sung to mortal ears, and down to Earth

Transferr'd the work of Heaven; with thought sublime,
And high sonorous words, thou sweetly sing'st
To thy immortal lyre. Amaz'd, we view
The towering height stupendous, while thon soar'st
Above the reach of vulgar eyes or thought,
Hymning th' Eternal Father; as of oid
When first th' Almighty from the dark abyss
Of everlasting night and silence call'd
The shining worlds with one creating word,
And rais'd from nothing all the heavenly hosts,
And with external glories fill'd the void,
Harmonious seraphs tun'd their golden harps,
And with their cheerful hallelujahs bless'd
The bounteous author of their happiness;
From orb to orb th' alternate music rang,
And from the crystal arches of the sky
Reach'd our then glorious world, the native seat
Of the first happy pair, who join'd their songs
To the loud echoes of th' angelic choirs,
And fill'd with blissful hymns terrestrial Heaven
The Paradise of God, where all delights
Abounded, and the pure ambrosial air,
Fann'd by mild zephyrs, breath'd eternal sweets,
Forbidding death and sorrow, and bestow'd
Fresh heavenly bloom and gay immortal youth.
Not so, alas! the vile apostate race,
Who in mad joys their bratal hours employ'd,
Assaulting with their impious blasphemies
The Power supreme that gave them life and breath;
Incarnate fiends! outrageous they defied
Th' Eternal's thunder, and almighty wrath
Fearless provok'd, which all the other devils
Would dread to meet; remembering well the day
When, driven from pure immortal seats above,
A fiery tempest hurl'd them down the skies,
And hung upon the rear, urging their fall
To the dark, deep, unfathomable gulf,

Where, bound on sulphurons lakes to glowing rocks
With adamantine chains, they wail their woes,
And know Jehovah great as well as good;

And fix'd for ever by eternal Fate,

With horrour find his arm omnipotent.

Prodigious madness! that the sacred Muse, First taught in Heaven to mount immortal heights, And trace the boundless glories of the sky, Should now to every idol basely bow, And curse the deity she once ador'd, Erecting trophies to each sordid vice, And celebrating the infernal praise Of haughty Lucifer, the desperate foe Of God and man, and winning every hour

New votaries to Hell, while all the fiends
Hear these accursed lays, and, thus outdone,
Raging they try to match the human race,
Redoubling all their hellish blasphemies,
And with loud curses rend the gloomy vault.

Ungrateful mortals! ah! too late you'll find
What 'tis to banter Heaven, and laugh at Hell;
To dress-up Vice in false delusive charms,
And with gay colours paint her hideous face,
Leading besotted souls through flowery paths,
In gaudy dreams, and vain fantastic joys,
To dismal scenes of everlasting woe;

When the great Judge shall rear his awful throne,
And raging flames surround the trembling globe,
While the loud thunders roar from pole to pole,
And the last trump awakes the sleeping dead;
And guilty souls to ghastly bodies driven,
Within those dire eternal prisons shut,
Expect their sad inexorable doom.

Say now, ye men of wit! what turn of thought
Will please you then! Alas, how dull and poor,
Ev'n to yourselves, will your lewd flights appear!
How will you envy then the happy fate
Of idiots! and perhaps in vain you'll wish
You'd been as very fools, as once you thought
Others, for the sublimest wisdom scorn'd;
When pointed lightnings from the wrathful Judge
Shall singe your blighted laurels, and the men
Who thought they flew so high shall fall so low.
No more, my Muse, of that tremendous thought:
Resume thy more delightful theme, and sing
Th' immortal man, that with immortal verse
Rivals the hymns of angels, and like them
Despises mortal critics' idle rules:
While the celestial flame that warms thy soul
Inspires us, and with holy transports moves
Our labouring minds, and nobler scenes presents
Than all the Pagan poets ever sung,
Homer, or Virgil, and far sweeter notes
Than Horace ever taught his sounding lyre,

And purer far, though Martial's self might seem
A modest poet in our Christian days.
May those forgotten and neglected lie!
No more let men be fond of fabulous gods,
Nor heathen wit debauch one Christian line,
While with the coarse and daubing paint we hide
The shining beauties of eternal Truth,
That in her native dress appears most bright,
And charms the eyes of angels.-Oh! like thee
Let every nobler genius tune his voice

To subjects worthy of their towering thoughts.
Let Heaven and Anna then your tuneful art
Improve, and consecrate your deathless lays
To Him who reigns above, and her who rules below.
April 17, 1706.

TO MR. WATTS,

ON HIS DIVINE POEMS.

JOSEPH STANDEN.

SAY, human seraph, whence that charming force,
That flame, that soul, which animates each line;
And how it runs with such a graceful ease,
Loaded with ponderous sense! Say, did not he,
The lovely Jesus, who commands thy breast,
Inspire thee with himself? With Jesus dwells,
Knit in mysterious bands, the Paraclete,
The breath of God, the everlasting source
Of love: And what is love, in souls like thine,
But air and incense to the poet's fire?
Should an expiring saint, whose swimming eyes

Mingle the images of things about him,
But hear the least exalted of thy strains,
How greedily he'd drink the music in,
Thinking his heavenly convoy waited near!
So great a stress of powerful harmony,
Nature, unable longer to sustain,

Would sink oppress'd with joy to endless rest.

Let none henceforth of Providence complain, As if the world of spirits lay unknown, Fenc'd round with black impenetrable night. What though no shining angel darts from thence, With leave to publish things conceal'd from sense, In language bright as theirs, we are here told, When life its narrow round of years hath roll'd, What 'tis employs the bless'd, what makes their Songs such as Watts's are, and love like his. [bliss ; But then, dear sir, be cautious how you use To transports so intensely rais'd your Muse, Lest, whilst th' ecstatic impulse you obey, The soul leap out, and drop the duller clay. Sept. 4, 1706.

TO DR. WATTS,

1

HENRY GROVE.

ON THE FIFTH EDITION OF HIS HORE LYRICÆ.

SOVEREIGN of sacred verse, accept the lays
Of a young bard, that dares attempt thy praise.
A Muse, the meanest of the vocal throng,
New to the bays, nor equal to the song,
Fir'd with the growing glories of thy fame,
Joins all her powers to celebrate thy name.

No vulgar themes thy pious Muse engage,
No scenes of lust pollute thy sacred page.
You in majestic numbers mount the skies,
And meet descending angels as you rise,
Whose just applauses charm the crowded groves,
And Addison thy tuneful song approves.
Soft harmony and manly vigour join

To form the beauties of each sprightly line,
For every grace of every Muse is thine.
Milton, immortal bard, divinely bright,
Conducts his favourite to the realms of light,
Where Raphael's lyre charms the celestial throng,
Delighted cherubs listening to the song:
From bliss to bliss the happy beings rove,
And taste the sweets of music and of love.
But when the softer scenes of life you paint,
And join the beauteous virgin to the saint;
When you describe how few the happy pairs
Whose hearts united soften all their cares,
We see to whom the sweetest joys belong,
And Myra's beauties consecrate your song.
Fain the unnumber'd graces I would tell,
And on the pleasing theme for ever dwell;
But the Muse faints, unequal to the flight,
And hears thy strains with wonder and delight,
When tombs of princes shall in ruins lie,
And all but heaven-born Piety shall die;
When the last trumpet wakes the silent dead,
And each lascivious poet hides his head;
With thee shall thy divine Urania rise,
Crown'd with fresh laurels, to thy native skies:
Great How and Gouge shall hail thee on thy way,
And welcome thee to the bright realms of day,
Adapt thy tuneful notes to heavenly strings,
And join the Lyric Ode while some fair seraph sings.
Sic spirat, sic optat,
Tui amantissimus

BRITANNICUS,

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PREFACE.

It has been a long complaint of the virtuous and refined world, that Poesy, whose original is divine, should be enslaved to vice and profaneness; that an art, inspired from Heaven, should have so far lost the memory of its birth-place, as to be engaged in the interests of Hell. How unhappily is it perverted from its most glorious design! How basely has it been driven away from its proper station in the temple of God, and abused to much dishonour! The iniquity of men has constrained it to serve their vilest purposes, while the sons of piety mourn the sacrilege and the shame.

The eldest song which history has brought down to our ears was a noble act of worship paid to the God of Israel, when his "right hand became glorious in power; when thy right hand, O Lord, dashed in pieces the enemy: the chariots of Pharaoh and his hosts were cast into the Red Sea. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the deep covered them, and they sank as lead in the mighty waters." Exod. xv. This art was maintained sacred through the following ages of the church, and employed by kings and prophets, by David, Solomon, and Isaiah, in describing the nature and the glories of God, and in conveying grace or vengeance to the hearts of men. By this method they brought so much of Heaven down to this lower world, as the darkness of that dispensation would admit: and now and then a divine and poetic rapture lifted their souls far above the level of that economy of shadows, bore them away far into a brighter region, and gave them a glimpse of evangelic day. The life of angels was harmoniously breathed into the children of Adam, and their minds raised near to Heaven in melody and devotion at

once.

In the younger days of heathenism the Muses were devoted to the same service: the language in which old Hesiod addresses them is this:

Μᾶσαι Πιερύηθεν ἀοιδῆσι κλείουσαι,

Δεῦτε, Δι ̓ ἐννέπετο σφέτερον πατέρ' ὑμνείουσαι.

Pierian Muses, fam'd for heavenly lays,

Descend, and sing the God your Father's praise.

And he pursues the subject in ten pious lines, which I could not forbear to transcribe, if the aspect and sound of so much Greek were not terrifying to a nice reader.

But some of the latter poets of the Pagan world have debased this divine gift; and many of the writers of the first rank, in this our age of rational Christians, have, to their eternal shame, surpassed the vilest of the Gentiles. They have not only disrobed Religion of all the ornaments of verse, but have employed their pens in impious mischief, to deform her native beauty and defile her honours. They have exposed her most sacred character to drollery, and dressed her up in a most vile and ridiculous disguise, for the scorn of the ruder herd of mankind. The vices have been painted like so many goddesses, the charms of wit have been added to debauchery, and the temptation heightened where nature needs the strongest restraints. With sweetness of sound, and delicacy of expression, they have given a relish to blasphemies of the harshest kind; and when they rant at their Maker in sonorous numbers, they fancy themselves to have acted the hero well.

Thus almost in vain have the throne and the pulpit cried Reformation; while the stage and licentious poems have waged open war with the pious design of church and state. The press has spread the poison far, and scattered wide the mortal infection: unthinking youth have been enticed to sin beyond the vicious propensities of nature, plunged early into diseases and death, and sunk down to damnation in multitudes. Was it for this that Poesy was endued with all those allurements that lead the mind away in a

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