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To The Memory Of The Right Honourable Lord Talbot, Late Chancellor Of Great Britain. Addressed To His Son.

James Thomson 1700 (Port Glasgow) – 1748 (London)



While with the public, you, my Lord, lament
A friend and father lost; permit the muse,
The muse assigned of old a double theme,
To praise the dead worth and humble living pride,
Whose generous task begins where interest ends;
Permit her on a Talbot's tomb to lay
This cordial verse sincere, by truth inspired,
Which means not to bestow but borrow fame.
Yes, she may sing his matchless virtues now -
Unhappy that she may. - But where begin?
How from the diamond single out each ray,
Where all, though trembling with ten thousand hues,
Effuse one dazzling undivided light?
Let the low-minded of these narrow days
No more presume to deem the lofty tale
Of ancient times, in pity to their own,
Romance. In Talbot we united saw
The piercing eye, the quick enlightened soul,
The graceful ease, the flowing tongue of Greece,
Joined to the virtues and the force of Rome.
Eternal wisdom, that all-quickening sun,
Whence every life, in just proportion, draws
Directing light and actuating flame,
Ne'er with a larger portion of its beams
Awakened mortal clay. Hence steady, calm,
Diffusive, deep, and clear, his reason saw,
With instantaneous view, the truth of things;
Chief what to human life and human bliss
Pertains, that noblest science, fit for man:
And hence, responsive to his knowledge, glowed
His ardent virtue. Ignorance and vice,
In consort foul, agree; each heightening each;
While virtue draws from knowledge brighter fire.
What grand, what comely, or what tender sense,
What talent, or what virtue was not his;
What that can render man or great, or good,
Give useful worth, or amiable grace?
Nor could he brook in studious shade to lie,
In soft retirement, indolently pleased
With selfish peace. The syren of the wise,
(Who steals the Aonian song, and, in the shape
Of Virtue, woos them from a worthless world)
Though deep he felt her charms, could never melt
His strenuous spirit, recollected, calm,
As silent night, yet active as the day.
The more the bold, the bustling, and the bad,
Press to usurp the reins of power, the more
Behoves it virtue, with indignant zeal,
To check their combination. Shall low views
Of sneaking interest or luxurious vice,
The villain's passions, quicken more to toil,
And dart a livelier vigour through the soul,
Than those that, mingled with our truest good,
With present honour and immortal fame,
Involve the good of all? An empty form
Is the weak Virtue, that amid the shade
Lamenting lies, with future schemes amused,
While Wickedness and Folly, kindred powers,
Confound the world. A Talbot's, different far,
To lose in deathlike sloth one pulse of life,
That might be saved; disdained for coward ease,
And her insipid pleasures, to resign
The prize of glory, the keen sweets of toil,
And those high joys that teach the truly great
To live for others, and for others die.
Early, behold! he breaks benign on life.
Not breathing more beneficence, the Spring
Leads in her swelling train the gentle airs;
While gay, behind her, smiles the kindling waste
Of ruffian storms and Winter's lawless rage.
In him Astrea, to this dim abode
Of ever wandering men, returned again:
To bless them his delight, to bring them back
From thorny error, from unjoyous wrong,
Into the paths of kind primeval faith,
Of happiness and justice. All his parts,
His virtues all, collected, sought the good
Of humankind. For that he, fervent, felt
The throb of patriots, when they model states;
Anxious for that, nor needful sleep could hold
His still-awakened soul; nor friends had charms
To steal, with pleasing guile, one useful hour;
Toil knew no languor, no attraction joy.
Thus with unwearied steps, by Virtue led,
He gained the summit of that sacred hill,
Where, raised above black Envy's darkening clouds,
Her spotless temple lifts its radiant front.
Be named, victorious ravagers, no more!
Vanish, ye human comets! shrink your blaze!
Ye that your glory to your terrors owe,
As, o'er the gazing desolated earth,
You scatter famine, pestilence, and war;
Vanish! before this vernal sun of fame;
Effulgent sweetness! beaming life and joy.
How the heart listened while he, pleading, spoke!
While on the enlightened mind, with winning art,
His gentle reason so persuasive stole,
That the charmed hearer thought it was his own.
Ah! when, ye studious of the laws, again
Shall such enchanting lessons bless your ear?
When shall again the darkest truths, perplexed,
Be set in ample day? when shall the harsh
And arduous open into smiling ease?
The solid mix with ele
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:50 min read
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James Thomson

James Thomson, who wrote under the pseudonym Bysshe Vanolis, was a Scottish Victorian-era poet famous primarily for the long poem The City of Dreadful Night, an expression of bleak pessimism in a dehumanized, uncaring urban environment. more…

All James Thomson poems | James Thomson Books

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    "To The Memory Of The Right Honourable Lord Talbot, Late Chancellor Of Great Britain. Addressed To His Son." Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 23 May 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/20637/to-the-memory-of-the-right-honourable-lord-talbot%2C-late-chancellor-of-great-britain.-addressed-to-his-son.>.

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