THE TRIUMPH OF ISIS.
OCCASIONED BY THE FOREGOING POEM.
1 ON closing flowers when genial gales diffuse
2 The fragrant tribute of refreshing dews;
3 When chaunts the milk-maid at her balmy pail,
4 And weary reapers whistle o'er the vale;
5 Charm'd by the murmurs of the quivering shade,
6 O'er Isis' willow-fringed banks I stray'd:
7 And calmly musing thro' the twilight way,
8 In pensive mood I fram'd the Doric lay.
9 When lo! from opening clouds, a golden gleam
10 Pour'd sudden splendors o'er the shadowy stream;
11 And from the wave arose its guardian queen,
12 Known by her sweeping stole of glossy green;
13 While in the coral crown that bound her brow,
14 Was wove the Delphic laurel's verdant bough.
15 As the smooth surface of the dimply flood,
16 The silver-slipper'd Isis lightly trod,
17 From her loose hair the dropping dew she press'd,
18 And thus mine ear in accents mild address'd.
19 No more, my son, the rural reed employ,
20 Nor trill the trifting strain of empty joy;
21 No more thy love-resounding sonnets suit
22 To notes of pastoral pipe or oaten flute.
23 For hark! high-thron'd on you majestic walls,
24 To the dear Muse afflicted Freedom calls:
25 When Freedom calls, and Oxford bids thee sing,
26 Why stays thy hand to strike the sounding string?
27 While thus, in Freedom's and in Phoebus' spite,
28 The venal sons of slavish Cam, unite;
29 To shake yon towers, when Malice rears her crest,
30 Shall all my sons in silence idly rest?
31 Still sing, O Cam, your favourite Freedom's cause;
32 Still boast of Freedom, while you break her laws:
33 To power your songs of gratulation pay,
34 To courts address soft Flattery's soothing lay.
35 What tho' your gentle Mason's plaintive verse
36 Has hung with sweetest wreaths Musaeus' hearse;
37 What tho' your vaunted bard's ingenuous woe,
38 Soft as my stream, in tuneful numbers flow?
39 Yet strove his Muse, by Fame or Envy led,
40 To tear the laurels from a sister's head? —
41 Misguided youth! with rude unclassic rage
42 To blot the beauties of thy whiter page;
43 A rage that sullies ev'n thy guiltless lays,
44 And blasts the vernal bloom of half thy bays.
45 Let Granta boast the patrons of her name,
46 Each pompous fool of Fortune and of Fame:
47 Still of preferment let her shine the queen,
48 Prolific parent of each bowing dean:[Page 207]
49 Be hers each prelate of the pamper'd cheek,
50 Each courtly chaplain sanctify'd and sleek;
51 Still let the drones of her exhaustless hive
52 On fat pluralities supinely thrive:
53 Still let her senates titled slaves revere,
54 Nor dare to know the patriot from the peer;
55 For tinsel'd courts their laurel'd mount despise,
56 In stars and strings superlatively wise:
57 No longer charm'd by Virtue's golden lyre,
58 Who sung of old amid th' Aonian choir,
59 Where Cam, slow winding thro' the breezy reeds,
60 With kindly wave his groves of laurel feeds.
61 'Tis ours, my son, to deal the sacred bay,
62 Where Honour calls, and Justice points the way;
63 To wear the well-earn'd wreath which Merit brings,
64 And snatch a gift beyond the reach of kings.
65 Scorning, and scorn'd by courts, yon Muses' bower
66 Still nor enjoys, nor asks the smile of power.
67 Tho' wakeful Vengeance watch my crystal spring.
68 Tho' Persecution wave her iron wing,
69 And o'er yon spiry temples as she flies,
70 "These destin'd seats be mine," exulting cries;
71 On Isis still each gift of Fortune waits,
72 Still Peace and Plenty deck my beauteous gates.
73 See Science walks with freshest chaplets crown'd;
74 With songs of joy my festal groves resound;
75 My Muse divine still keeps her wonted state,
76 The front erect, and high majestic gait:
77 Green as of old, each oliv'd portal smiles,
78 And still the Graces build my Parian piles:[Page 208]
79 My Gothic spires in ancient grandeur rise,
80 And dare with wonted pride to rush into the skies;
81 Ah! should'st thou fall (forbid it heavenly powers!)
82 Dash'd into dust with all thy cloud-capt towers;
83 Who but would mourn to British virtue dear,
84 What patriot could refuse the manly tear!
85 What British Marius could refrain to weep
86 O'er mighty Carthage fall'n, a prostrate heap!
87 Ev'n late when Radcliffe's delegated train
88 Auspicious shone in Isis' happy plain;
89 When yon proudd
d Radcliffe's library. dome, fair Learning's amplest shrine;
90 Beneath its Attic roofs receiv'd the nine;
91 Mute was the voice of joy and loud applause,
92 To Radcliffe due, and Isis' honour'd cause?
93 What free-born crowds adorn the festive day,
94 Nor blush'd to wear my tributary bay!
95 How each brave breast with honest ardors heav'd,
96 When Sheldon's fane the patriot band receiv'd;
97 While, as we loudly hail'd the chosen few,
98 Rome's awful senate rush'd upon our view!
99 O may the day in latest annals shine,
100 That made a Beaufort, and an Harley mine:
101 Then bade them leave the lostier scene awhile,
102 The pomp of guiltless state, the patriot toil,
103 For bleeding Albion's aid the sage design,
104 To hold short dalliance with the tuneful nine.
105 Then Music left her golden sphere on high,
106 And bore each strain of triumph from the sky:[Page 209]
107 Swell'd the full song, and to my chiefs around
108 Pour'd the full Paeans of mellifluous sound,
109 My Naiads blythe the floating accents caught,
110 And listening danc'd beneath their pearly grot:
111 In gentler eddies play'd my wanton wave,
112 And all my reeds their softest whispers gave;
113 Each lay with brighter green adorn'd my bowers,
114 And breath'd a fresher fragrance on my flowers.
115 But lo! at once the swelling concerts cease,
116 And crowded theatres are hush'd in peace,
117 See, on yon Sage how all attentive stand,
118 To catch his darting eye, and waving hand.
119 Hark! he begins, with all a Tully's art
120 To pour the dictates of a Cato's heart.
121 Skill'd to pronounce what noblest thoughts inspire,
122 He blends the speaker's with the patriot's fire;
123 Bold to conceive, nor timorous to conceal,
124 What Britons dare to think, he dares to tell.
125 'Tis his alike the ear and eye to charm,
126 To win with action, and with sense to warm;
127 Untaught in flowery diction to dispense
128 The lulling sounds of sweet impertinence;
129 In frowns or smiles he gains an equal prize,
130 Nor meanly fears to sall, not creeps to rise;
131 Bids happier days to Albion be restor'd,
132 Bids ancient Justice rear her radiant sword;
133 From me, as from my country, wins applause,
134 And makes an Oxford's a Britannia's cause.
135 While arms like these my stedfast sages wield,
136 While mine is Truth's impenetrable shield;[Page 210]
137 Say, shall the puny champion fondly dare
138 To wage with force like this, scholastic war?
139 Still vainly scribble on with pert pretence,
140 With all the rage of pedant impotence?
141 Say, shall I suffer this domestic pest,
142 This parricide that wounds a mother's breast?
143 Thus in the stately ship that long has bore
144 Britain's victorious cross from shore to shore,
145 By chance, beneath her close sequester'd cells,
146 Some low-born worm, a lurking mischief dwells;
147 Eats his blind way, and saps with secret toil
148 The deep foundations of the watry pile.
149 In vain the forest lent its stateliest pride,
150 Rear'd her tall mast, and fram'd her knotty side;
151 In vain the thunder's martial rage she stood,
152 With each fierce conflict of the stormy flood;
153 More sure the reptile's little arts devour,
154 Than waves, or wars, or Eurus' wintry power.
155 Ye venerable bowers, ye seats sublime,
156 Clad in the mossy vest of fleeting time;
157 Ye stately piles of old munificence,
158 At once the pride of learning and defence,
159 Where ancient Piety, a matron hoar,
160 Still seems to keep the hospitable door;
161 Ye cloisters pale, that length'ning to the sight,
162 Still step by step to musings mild invite;
163 Ye high arch'd walks, where oft the bard has caught
164 The glowing sentiment, the lofty thought;
165 Ye temples dim, where pious duty pays
166 Her holy hymns of ever-echoing praise;[Page 211]
167 Lo! your lov'd Isis, from the bordering vale,
168 With all a mother's fondness bids you hail! —
169 Hail, Oxford, hail! of all that's good and great,
170 Of all that's fair, the guardian and the seat;
171 Nurse of each brave pursuit, each generous aim,
172 By Truth exalted to the throne of Fame!
173 Like Greece in science and in liberty,
174 As Athens learn'd, as Lacedaemon free!
175 Ev'n now, confess'd to my adoring eyes,
176 In awful ranks thy sacred sons arise;
177 With every various flower their temples wreath'd,
178 That in thy gardens green its fragrance breath'd.
179 Tuning to knightly tale his British reeds,
180 Thy crowding bards immortal Chaucer leads:
181 His hoary head o'erlooks the gazing choir,
182 And beams on all around celestial fire:
183 With graceful step see Addison advance,
184 The sweetest child of Attic elegance:
185 To all, but his belov'd embrace, deny'd,
186 See Locke leads Reason, his majestic bride:
187 See sacred Hammond, as he treads the field,
188 With godlike arm uprears his heavenly shield.
189 All who, beneath the shades of gentle Peace,
190 Best plann'd the labours of domestic ease;
191 Who taught with truth, or with persuasion mov'd;
192 Who sooth'd with numbers, or with sense improv'd;
193 Who told the powers of reason, or refin'd,
194 All, all that strengthen'd or adorn'd the mind;
195 Each priest of Health, who mix'd the balmy bowl,
196 To rear frail man, and stay the fieeting soul;[Page 212]
197 All crowd around, and echoing to the sky,
198 Hail, Oxford, hail! with filial transport cry.
199 And see you solemn band! with virtuous aim,
200 'Twas theirs in thought the glorious deed to frame:
201 With pious plans each musing feature glows,
202 And well-weigh'd counsels mark their meaning brows:
203 "Lo! these the leaders of thy patriot line,"
204 Hamden and Hooker, Hyde and Sidney shine.
205 These from thy source the fires of Freedom caught:
206 How well thy sons by their example taught!
207 While in each breast th' hereditary flame
208 Still blazes, unextinguish'd and the same!
209 Nor all the toils of thoughtful Peace engage,
210 'Tis thine to form the hero as the sage.
211 I see the sable-suited prince advance
212 With lillies crown'd, the spoils of bleeding France,
213 Edward — the Muses in you hallow'd shade
214 Bound on his tender thigh the martial blade:
215 Bade him the steel for British Freedom draw,
216 And Oxford taught the deeds that Cressy saw.
217 And see, great father of the laureat band,
e Alfred. Regis Romani. V. Virg. Aen. 6. British King before me seems to stand.
219 He by my plenty-crowned scenes beguil'd,
220 And genial influence of my seasons mild,
221 Hither of yore (forlorn, forgotten maid)
222 The Muse in prattling infancy convey'd;
223 From Gothic rage the helpless virgin bore,
224 And fix'd her cradle on my friendly shore:[Page 213]
225 Soon grew the maid beneath his fostering hand,
226 Soon pour'd her blessings o'er th' enlighten'd land.
227 Tho' rude thef f dome, and humble the retreat,
— Ad Capitolia ducit
Aurea nunc, olim sylvestribus horrida dumis. VIRG. Aen.
228 Where first his pious care ordain'd her seat,
229 Lo! now on high she dwells in Attic bowers,
230 And proudly lifts to heaven her hundred towers.
231 He first fair Learning's and Britannia's cause
232 Adorn'd with manners, and advanc'd with laws:
233 He bade relent the Briton's savage heart,
234 And form'd his soul to social scenes of art,
235 Wisest and best of kings! — with ravish'd gaze
236 Elate the long procession he surveys:
237 Joyful he smiles to find, that not in vain
238 He plann'd the rudiments of Learning's reign:
239 Himself he marks in each ingenuous breast,
240 With all the founder in the race exprest:
241 With rapture views, fair Freedom still survive
242 In you bright domes (ill-fated fugitive)
243 (Such seen, as when the goddess pour'd the beam
244 Unsullied on his ancient diadem)
245 Well-pleas'd that in his own Pierian seat
246 She plumes her wings, and rests her weary feet;
247 That here at last she takes her favourite stand,
248 "Here deigns to linger, ere she leave the land."