An Ode to the Right Honourable the Earl of Huntingdon (Akenside)/An Ode to the Right Honourable the Earl of Huntingdon
EARL of HUNTINGDON.
Thro' all the spacious Walks of Time,
Where-e'er the Muse her Power display'd.
With Joy have listen'd and obey'd.
For, taught of Heav'n, the sacred Nine
Persuasive Numbers, Forms divine,
To mortal Sense impart:
They best the Soul with Glory fire;
They noblest Counsels, boldest Deeds inspire;
And high o'er Fortune's Rage enthrone the fixed Heart.
The vengeful Bosom to disarm;
To melt the Proud with human Woe,
And prompt unwilling Tears to flow.
Can Wealth a Power like this afford?
Can Cromwell's Arts, or Marlboro's Sword,
An equal Empire claim?
No, Hastings. Thou my Words wilt own:
Thy Breast to every Muse was early known;
Nor shall the mutual Tie disgrace thy noble Name.
And the fair Function of the Poet's Tongue,
Ne'er shalt thou blush to vindicate and raise
From all that scorned Vice or slavish Fear hath sung.
Nor shall the Blandishment of Tuscan Strings
Warbling at Will in Pleasure's myrtle Bower;
Nor shall the baser Notes to Celtic Kings
By lying Minstrels paid in evil Hour,
Move Thee to spurn the heavenly Muse's Reign.
A different Strain,
And other Themes
From her prophetic Shades and hallow'd Streams
(Thou well can'st witness) visit the chaste Ear:
Such, as when Greece to her immortal Shell
Rejoicing listen'd, godlike Words to hear;
To hear the sweet Instructress tell
(While Men and Heroes throng'd around)
How Life its noblest Use may find,
How best for Freedom be resign'd;
And how by Glory Virtue shall be crown'd.
To many a kind domestic Train,
Whose pious Hearth and genial Bowl
Had chear'd the reverend Pilgrim's Soul:
When, every hospitable Rite
With equal Bounty to requite,
He struck his magic Strings;
And pour'd spontaneous Numbers forth,
And caught their Ears with Tales of ancient Worth,
And fill'd their musing Hearts with vast heroic Things.
Where yet he tunes his sacred Shell,
Oft near him, with applauding Hands,
The Genius of his Country stands.
To list'ning Gods he makes him known,
That Man divine, by whom were sown
The Seeds of Græcian Fame:
Who first the Race with Freedom fir'd;
From whom aLycurgus Sparta's Sons inspir'd;
From whom bPlatæan Palms and cCyprian Trophies came.
When Aristides rul'd, and Cimon fought;
When all the generous Fruits of Homer's Page
Exulting Pindar d saw to full Perfection brought.
O Pindar, oft shalt thou be hail'd of me:
Not that Apollo fed thee from his Shrine;
Not that thy Lips drank Sweetness from the Bee;
Nor yet that, studious of thy Notes divine,
Pan danc'd their Measure with the sylvan Throng:
But that thy Song
Was proud to unfold
What thy base Rulers trembled to behold;
Amid corrupted Thebes was proud to tell
The Deeds of Athens and the Persian Shame:
Hence on thy Head their impious Vengeance fell.
But thou, O faithful to thy Fame,
The Muse's Law did'st rightly know;
That who would animate his Lays,
And other Minds to Virtue raise,
Must feel his own with all her Honours glow.
Whose Verse adorn'd a Tyrant's Crimes?
Who saw majestic Rome betray'd,
And lent the imperial Ruffian Aid?
Alas! not one polluted Bard,
No, not the Strains that Mincius heard,
Or Tibur's Hills reply'd,
Dare to the Muse's Ear aspire;
Save while, instructed by the Græcian Lyre,
With Freedom's native Notes their shameful Task they hide.
Amid the Domes of modern Hands!
Amid the Toys of idle State,
How simply, how severely great!
Then pause; and, while each western Clime
Presents her tuneful Sons to Time,
Cry, Hail, on Milton's Name;
And add, "Thus differs from the Throng
The Spirit which informed thy awful Song,
Which bade thy potent Voice protect thy Country's Fame."
His Memory with unholy Rage pursues;
While from these arduous Cares of public Weal
She bids each Bard begone, & rest him with his Muse.
O Fool! to think the Man, whose ample Mind
Must grasp whatever yonder Stars survey,
And with the Charms of every Scene combin'd
The World's most perfect Image must display,
Can e'er his Country's Majesty descry
With heedless Eye!
O Fool! to deem
That He, whose Thought must visit every Theme,
Whose Heart must every strong Emotion know
By Nature planted, or by Fortune taught;
That He, if haply some presumptuous Foe,
With false ignoble Science fraught,
Shall spurn at Freedom's faithful Band;
That He their dear Defence will shun,
Or hide their Glories from the Sun,
Or deal their Vengeance with a Woman's Hand!
Or where the Seine his Current leads,
From public Themes the Muse's Quire
Content with polish'd Ease retire.
Where Priests the studious Head command,
Where Tyrants bow the warlike Hand
To vile Ambition's Aim,
Say, what can public Themes afford,
Save venal Honours to an hateful Lord,
Reserv'd for angry Heaven, & scorn'd of honest Fame?
To all her valiant Sons is known;
Where All direct the Sword she wears,
And each the Power, that rules him, shares;
Here let the Bard, whose listless Feet
From public Labours would retreat,
Bid public Joys farewell:
Let him to fitter Climes remove,
Far from the Heroe's and the Patriot's Lore,
And lull mysterious Monks to slumber in their Cell.
Can ruling Heaven the same Endowments lend:
Yet still doth Nature to her Offspring call,
That each their different Powers to one Pursuit should bend;
To one, the general Weal. What, tho' the Muse
With Sweetness fill the Bosom of her Son?
Tho' public Power the high Patrician's Brows
With Honour clothe? Yet this Pursuit alone
Can rescue Both from Envy and from Blame.
The Poet's Name
He best shall prove,
Whose Lays the Soul to noblest Functions move.
But Thee, O Progeny of Heroes old,
Thee to severer Toils thy Fate requires:
The Fate which form'd Thee in a chosen Mould,
The grateful Country of thy Sires,
Thee to sublimer Paths demand;
Sublimer than thy Sires could trace,
Or thy own f Edward teach his Race,
Tho' Gaul's proud Genius sunk beneath his Hand.
They led the rustic Youth to Arms;
And Kings their stern fear'd;
While private Strife their Banners rear'd.
But loftier Scenes to Thee are shown,
Where Empire's wide-establish'd Throne
No private Master fills:
Where, long foretold. The People reigns;
Where each a Vassal's humble Heart disdains;
And judges what he sees; and, as he judges, wills.
The swelling democratic Tide;
To watch the State's uncertain Frame,
And baffle Faction's partial Aim:
But chiefly, with determin'd Zeal,
To quell that servile Band, who kneel
To Freedom's banish'd Foes;
That Monster, which is daily found
Expert and bold its Country's Peace to wound;
Yet dreads to handle Arms, nor manly Counsel knows.
That guilty Aims should sordid Paths pursue;
That what ensnares the Heart should curb the Hand,
And Virtue's worthless Foes be false to Glory too.
But look on Freedom. See, thro' every Age,
What Labours, Perils, Griefs, hath she disdain'd!
What Arms, what regal Pride, what priestly Rage,
Have her dread Offspring conquer'd or sustain'd!
For Albion well have conquer'd. Let the Strains
Of happy Swains,
Which now resound
Where g Scarfdale's Cliffs the swelling Vale surround,
Bear witness. There, let the glad Farmer say
What mighty Scenes have honour'd his low Gate,
And shew the Stranger passing on his Way,
Where Candish, Booth, and Osborn sate,
When, bursting from their Country's Chain,
Ev'n in the midst of deadly Harms,
Of papal Snares and lawless Arms,
They plann'd for Freedom this her awful Reign.
Which Nassau crave us All to share,
Had ne'er adorn'd the English Name,
Could Fear have silenc'd Freedom's Claim.
But Fear in vain attempts to bind
Those lofty Efforts of the Mind,
Which social Good inspires;
Where Men, for this, assault a Throne,
Each adds the common Welfare to his own;
And each unconquer'd Heart the Strength of All acquires.
Our Fields in civil Blood imbrued?
When Fortune crown'd the barbarous Host,
And half the astonish'd Isle was lost?
Did One of all that vaunting Train,
Who dare to curse a peaceful Reign,
Durst One in Arms appear?
Durst One in Counsels pledge his Life?
Stake his luxurious Fortunes in the Strife?
Or lend his boasted Name his vagrant Friends to chear?
Who challenge to themselves thy Country's Love:
The true; the constant: who alone can weigh,
What Glory should demand, or Liberty approve!
But let their Works declare them. Thy free Powers,
The generous Powers of thy prevailing Mind,
Not for the Talks of their confederate Hours,
Lewd Brawls and lurking Slander, were design'd.
Be thou thy own Approver. Honest Praise
Oft nobly sways
But from the Coward, and the lying Mouth,
Praise is Reproach. Eternal God alone
For Mortals fixes that sublime Award.
He, from the faithful Records of his Throne,
Bids the Historian and the Bard
Dispose of Honour and of Scorn;
Discern the Patriot from the Slave;
And write the Good, the Wise, the Brave,
For Lessons to the Multitude unborn.
- Octavius Cæsar.