Now, graver Britain, amiably severe,
To thee, with native zeal, to thee I steer;
My vent'rous bark, its foreign circuit o'er,
Exulting springs to thy parental shore.
Thou gorgeous Queen, who on thy silvery coast,
Sittest encircled by a filial host,
And seest thy sons, the jewels of thy crown,
Blaze with each varying ray of rich renown;
If with just love I hold their Genius dear,
Lament their hardships, and their fame revere,
O bid thy Epic Muse, with honor due,
Range her departed Champions in my view!
See, on a party-colour'd steed of fire,
With Humour at his side, his trusty Squire,
Gay CHAUCER leads — in form a Knight of old,
And his strong armour is of steel and gold;
But o'er it age a cruel rust has spread,
And made the brilliant metals dark as lead.
Now gentle SPENSER, Fancy's fav'rite Bard,
Awakes my wonder and my fond regard;
Encircling Fairies bear, in sportive dance,
His adamantine shield and magic lance;
While Allegory, drest with mystic art,
Appears his Guide; but promising to dart
A lambent glory round her list'ning Son,
She hides him in the web herself has spun.
Ingenuous COWLEY, the fond dupe of Wit,
Seems like a vapour o'er the field to flit;
In David's praise he strikes some Epic notes,
But soon down Lethe's stream their dying murmur floats.
While COWLEY vanish'd in an amorous riddle,
Up rose the frolic Bard of Bear and Fiddle:
His smile exhilarates the sullen earth,
Adorning Satire in the mask of Mirth:
Taught by his Song, Fanatics cease their jars,
And wise Astrologers renounce the Stars.
Unrivall'd BUTLER! blest with happy skill
To heal by comic verse each serious ill,
By Wit's strong flashes Reason's light dispense,
And laugh a frantic nation into sense!
Apart, and on a sacred hill retir'd,
Beyond all mortal inspiration fir'd,
The mighty MILTON sits — an host around
Of list'ning Angels guard the holy ground;
Amaz'd they see a human form aspire
To grasp with daring hand a Seraph's lyre,...
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