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ON READING HIS HORA: LYRICA
ON HIS POEMS.
TO MR. WATTS,
Hall, heaven-born Muse! that, with celestial flame,
And high seraphic numbers, durst attempt Regard the man, who, in seraphic lays,
To gain thy native skies. No common theme And flowing numbers, sings his Maker's praise :
Merits thy thought, self-conscious of a soul He needs invoke no fabled Muse's art,
Superior, though on Earth detain'd awhile;
Like some propitious angel, that 's design'd
To guide the wandering souls to heavenly bliss, Thrice happy man! whose soul and guiltless breast
Thou seem'st; while thou their everlasting songs Are well prepar'd to lodge th’ Almighty guest!
Hlast sung to mortal ears, and down to Earth 'Tis he that lends thy towering thoughts their wing, Transferr'd the work of Hcaven; with thought sublime, And tunes thy lyre, when thou attempt'st to sing :
And high sonorous words, thou sweetly sing'st He to thy soul lets-in celestial day,
To thy immortal lyre. Amaz’d, we view Er'n whilst imprison'd in this mortal clay.
The towering height stupendous, while thou soar'st By Death's grim aspect thou art not alarn'd,
Above the reach of vulgar eyes or thought, He, for thy sake, has death itself disarm'd;
Hymning th’ Eternal Father; as of old Nor shall the Grave o'er thee a victory boast;
When first th’ Almighty from the dark abyss Her triumph in thy rising shall be lost,
Of everlasting night and silence call'd When thou shalt join th' angelic choirs above,
The shining worlds with one creating word,
And rais'd from nothing all the heavenly hosts,
Harmonious seraphs tun’d their golden harps,
And with their cheerful ballelujahs bless'd
From orb to orb th' alternate musie rang,
And from the crystal arches of the sky My pensive Muse no more
Reach'd our then glorious world, the native seat Of love's enchanting force complains,
Of the first happy pair, who join'd their songs Along the flowery shore.
To the loud echoes of th' angelic choirs, No more Mirtillo's fatal face
And fill'd with blissful hymns terrestrial Heaven, My quiet breast alarms;
The Paradise of God, where all delights His eyes, his air, and youthful grace,
Abounded, and the pure ambrosial air, Have lost their usual charms,
Fann'd by mild zephyrs, breath'd eternal sweets, No çay Alexis in the grove
Forbidding death and surrow, and bestow'd Shall be my future theme:
Fresh heavenly bloom and gay inmortal youth.
Not so, alas! the vile ap- tate race,
Who in mad joys their brutal bours employ'd,
Assaulting with their impious blasphemies Seraphic heights I seem to gain,
The Power supreme that gave them lite and breath; And sacred transports feel,
Incarnate fiends! outrageous they detied While, Warts, to thy celestial strain,
Th’ Eternal's thunder, and alınighty wrath Surpris'd, I listen still.
Fearless provok'd, which all the other devils The gliding streams their course forbear,
Would dread to meet; remembering well the day When I thy lays repeat;
When, driven from pure imunortal seats above, The bending forest lends an ear,
A fiery tempest hurl'd them down the skies, The birds their notes forget.
And hung upon the rear, urging their fail With such a graceful harmony
To the dark, deep, unfathomable gulf, Thy numbers still prolong;
Where, bound ou sulphurous lakes to glowing rocks And let remotest lands reply,
With adamantine chains, they wail their woes, And echo to thy song,
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, From her resplendent wings;
First taught in Heaven to mount itnmortal heights, Cnto the new-found realms, which see
And trace the boundless gluries of the sky, The latter Sun arise,
Should now to every idol basely bow, When, with an easy progress, he
And curse the deity she once ador'd, Rolls down the nether skies.
Erecting trophies to each sordid vice,
And celebrating the infernal praise July, 1706.
Of haughty Lucifer, the desperate foe · A name assumed by my rival.
Of God and man, and winning every bour
New votaries to Hell, while all the fiends
Mingle the images of things about him, Hear these accursed lays, and, thus outdone, But hear the least exalted of thy strains, Raging they try to match the human race,
How greedily he'd drink the music in, Redoubling all their hellish blasphemies,
Thinking his heavenly convoy waited near! And with loud curses rend the gloomy vault. So great a stress of powerful harmony, Ungrateful mortals! ah! too late you'll find
Nature, unable longer to sustain, What 'tis to banter Heaven, and laugh at Hell;
Would sink oppress'd with joy to endless rest. To dress-up Vice in false delusive charms,
Let none henceforth of Providence complain, And with gay colours paint her hideous face, As if the world of spirits lay unknown, 'Leading besotted souls through flowery paths, Fenc'd round with black impenetrable night. In gaudy dreams, and vain fantastic joys,
What though no shining angel darts from thence, To dismal scenes of everlasting woe;
With leave to publish things conceald from sense, When the great Judge shall rear his awful throne, In language bright as theirs, we are here told, And raging flames surround the trembling globe, When life its narrow round of years hath rolld, While the loud thunders roar from pole to pole, What 'tis employs the bless'd, what makes their And the last trump awakes the sleeping dead; Songs such as Watts's are, and love like his. [bliss ; And guilty souls to ghastly bodies driven,
But then, dear sir, be cautious how you use Within those dire eternal prisons shut,
To transports so intensely rais'd your Muse, Expect their sad inexorable doom.
Lest, whilst th’ ecstatic impulse you obey,
The soul leap out, and drop the duller clay.
Sept. 4, 1706.
HENRY GROVE. 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
TO DR. WATTS, Others, for the sublimest wisdom scorn'd;
ON THE FIFTH EDITION OF HIS HORÆ LYRICÆ. When pointed lightnings from the wrathful Judge Shall singe your blighted laurels, and the men
Sovereign of sacred verse, accept the lays. Who thought they flew so high shall fall so low. Of a young bård, that dares attempt thy praise.
No more, my Muse, of that tremendous thought: A Muse, the meanest of the vocal throng, Resume thy more delightful theme, and sing
New to the bays, nor equal to the song, Th’immortal man, that with immortal verse
Fir'd with the growing glories of thy fame, Rivals the hymns of angels, and like them
Joins all her powers to celebrate thy name. Despises mortal critics' idle rules :
No vulgar themes thy pious Muse engage, While the celestial flame that warms thy soul
No scenes of lust pollute thy sacred page. Inspires us, and with holy transports moves
You in majestic numbers mount the skies, Our labouring minds, and nobler scenes presents
And meet descending angels as you rise, Than all the Pagan poets ever sung,
Whose just applauses charm the crowded groves, Homer, or Virgil, and far sweeter notes
And Addison thy tuneful song approves. Than Horace ever taught his sounding lyre,
Soft harmony and manly vigour join And purer far, though Martial's self might seem
To form the beauties of each sprightly line, A modest poet in our Christian days.
For every grace of every Muse is thine. May those forgotten and neglected lie !
Milton, immortal bard, divinely bright, No more let men be fond of fabulous gods,
Conducts his favourite to the realms of light, Nor heathen wit debauch one Christian line,
Where Raphael's lyre charms the celestial throng, While with the coarse and dalibing paint we hide
Delighted cherubs listening to the song : The shining beauties of eternal Truth,
From bliss to bliss the happy beings rove, That in her native dress appears most bright,
And taste the sweets of music and of love. And charms the eyes of angels.-Oh! like thee
But when the softer scenes of life you paint, Let every nobler genius tune his voice
And join the beauteous virgin to the saint; To subjects worthy of their towering thoughts.
When you describe how few the happy pairs Let Heaven and Anna then your taneful art
Whose hearts united soften all their cares, Improve, and consecrate your deathless lays
We see to whom the sweetest joys belong, To Him who reigns above, and her who rules below.
And Myra's beauties consecrate your song.
Fain the unnumber'd graces I would tell, April 17, 1706.
And on the pleasing theme for ever dwell;
But the Muse faints, unequal to the flight,
And hears thy strains with wonder and delight
And all but heaven-born Piety shall die;
With thee shall thy divine Urania rise,
Adapt thy tuneful notes to heavenly strings, The breath of God, the everlasting source
And join the Lyric Ode while some fair seraph sings. Of love: And what is love, in souls like thine,
Sic spirat, sic optat, But air and incense to the poet's fire ?
Tui amantissimus Should an expiring saint, whose swimming eyes
ON HIS DIVINE POEMS
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 describ ng the nature and the glories of God, and in conreying 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 poetie 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 barmoniously 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:
Μύσαι Πιερύηθεν αοιδήσι κλείουσαι,
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 ber must sacred character to drollery, and dressed her up in a most vile and ridiculous disguise, for the fourn 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 barshest 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