Slike strani

We are now arrived to the conclusion of our Author's Prefatory Disquisitions, after having travelled with him through all the various regions of Criticism for near forty years. With what vivacity and vigour his last composition, of that kind, was written, we have just seen; and of the spirit and elegance with which the old Bard could address a beautiful woman in his sixty-ninth year, the following harmonious verses prefixed to PALAMON AND ARCITE, (the last he ever wrote except the SECULAR MASQUE, and the Prologue and Epilogue to the PILGRIM,) afford a very pleasing proof. I shall therefore subjoin them as a kind of Envoy to this Collection of his Prose Works.




THE Bard who first adorn'd our native tongue,
Tun'd to his British lyre this ancient song ;
Which Homer might without a blush rehearse,
And leaves a doubtful palm in Virgil's verse :
He match'd their beauties where they most excel;
Of love sung better, and of arms as well.

Vouchsafe, illustrious ORMOND, to behold,
What power the charms of beauty had of old;
Nor wonder if such deeds of arms were done,
Inspir'd by two fair eyes, that sparkled like your own.

If Chaucer, by the best idea wrought,
And poets can divine each other's thought,
The fairest nymph before his eyes he set,
And then the fairest was Plantagenet ;
Who three contending Princes made her prize,
And rul'd the rival nations with her

eyes : Who left immortal trophies of her fame, And to the Noblest Order


the name.


s This lady, as has been already mentioned, was a daughter of Henry, Duke of Beaufort. She was born at, Beaufort House near Chelsea, in 1665, and died in the year 1733. She and the Duke had recently visited his estate in Ireland, in a private capacity, to which our author refers in this poem. The Duke of Ormond afterwards went to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant, in June 1703.

Like her, of equal kindred to the throne, You keep her conquests, and extend your own. As when the stars in their etherial race, At length have roll'd around the liquid space, At certain periods they resume their place ; From the same point of heaven their course advance, And move in measures of their former dance: Thus, after length of ages, she returns, Restor'd in you, and the same place adorns ; Or you perform her office in the sphere, Born of her blood, and make a new Platonick year.

O true Plantagenct, Orace divine ! (For beauty still is fatal to the line, Had Chaucer liv'd that angel-face to view, Sure he had drawn his Emily from you: Or had you liv'd, to judge the doubtful right, Your noble Palamon had been the Knight ; And conqu’ring Theseus from his side had sent Your gen'rous Lord, to guide the Theban government.

Time shall accomplish that; and I shall see A Palainon in him, in you an Emily.

Already have the Fates your path prepar'd, And sure presage your


When westward, like the sun, you took your way,
And from benighted Britain bore the day,
Blue Triton gave the signal from the shore,
The ready Nereids heard, and swam before
To smooth the seas; a soft Etesian gale
But just inspir'd, and gently swellid the sail ;
Portunus took his turn, whose ample hand
Heav'd up the lighten'd keel, and sunk the sand,
And steer'd the sacred vessel safe to land.
The land, if not restrain'd, had met your way,
Projected out a neck, and jutted to the sea.





Hibernia, prostrate at your feet, adored,
In you, the pledge of her expected Lord,
Due to her isle; a venerable name;
His father and his grandsire known to fame :
Aw'd by that house, accustom'd to command,
The sturdy kerns in due subjection stand,
Nor bear the reins in any foreign hand.

At your approach, they crowded to the port,
And, scarcely landed, you create a court:
As ORMOND's harbinger, to you they run ;
For Venus is the promise of the Sun.

The waste of civil wars, their towns destroy'd,
Pales unhonour'd, Ceres unemploy'd,
Were all forgot; and one triumphant day
Wiped all the tears of three campaigns away.
Blood, rapines, massacres, were cheaply bought,
So mighty recompense your beauty brought.

As when the Dove, returning, bore the mark
Of earth restored to the long-lab'ring ark,
The relicks of mankind, secure of rest,
Oped every window to receive the guest,
And the fair bearer of the message bless'd ;
So, when you came with loud repeated cries
The nation took an omen from your eyes,
And Gop advanc'd his rainbow in the skies,
To sign inviolable peace restor'd;
The saints, with solemn shouts, proclaim'd the new



When at your second coming you appear, (For I foretel that Millenary year,)

[ocr errors]

6 The Duchess of Ormond went to Ireland in autumii 1697, and the Duke followed soon afterwards.

[blocks in formation]
« PrejšnjaNaprej »