Richard Savage (1697 - 1743 / England)
Of Public Spirit In Regard To Public Works: An Epistle, To His Royal Highness Frederick Prince of Wa
Great Hope of Britain!-Here the Muse essays
A theme, which, to attempt alone, is praise.
Be Her's a zeal of Public Spirit known!
A princely zeal!-a spirit all your own!
Where never science beam'd a friendly ray,
Where one vast blank neglected Nature lay;
From Public Spirit there, by arts employ'd,
Creation, varying, glads the cheerless void.
Hail arts, where safety, treasure and delight,
On land, on wave, in wond'rous works unite!
Those wond'rous works, O Muse, successive raise,
And point their worth, their dignity and praise!
What tho' no streams, magnificently play'd,
Rise a proud column, fall a grand cascade;
Thro' nether pipes, which nobler use renowns,
Lo! ductile riv'lets visit distant towns!
Now vanish fens, whence vapours rise no more,
Whose agueish influence tainted heav'n before.
The solid isthmus sinks a wat'ry space,
And wonders, in new state, at naval grace.
Where the flood, deep'ning, rolls, or wide extends,
From road to road, yon arch, connective, bends.
Where ports were choak'd where mounds, in vain, arose;
There harbours open, and there breaches close;
To keels, obedient, spreads each liquid plain,
And bulwark moles repel the bost'rous main.
When the sunk sun no homeward sail befriends,
On the rock's brow the light-house kind ascends,
And from the shoaly, o'er the gulfy way,
Points to the pilot's eye the warning ray.
Count still, my Muse (to count what Muse can cease?)
The works of Public Spirit, freedom, peace!
By the mshall plants, in forests, reach the skies;
Then lose their leafy pride, and navies rise:
(Navies, which to invasive foes explain,
Heav'n throws not round us rocks and seas in vain,)
The sail of commerce in each sky aspires,
And property assures what toil acquires.
Who digs the mine or quarry, digs with glee;
No slave!-His option and his gain are free:
Him the same laws the same protection yield,
Who plows the furrow, as who owns the field.
Unlike, where tyranny the rod maintains
O'er turfless, leafless, and uncultur'd plains,
Here herbs of food and physic plenty show'rs,
Gives fruits to blush, and colours various flow'rs.
Where sands or stony wilds once starv'd the year,
Laughs the green lawn, and nods the golden ear.
White shine the fleecy race, which fate shall doom
The feast of life, the treasure of the loom.
On plains now bare shall gardens wave their groves,
While settling songsters woo their feather'd loves.
Where pathless woods no grateful openings knew,
Walks tempt the step, and vistas court the view.
See the parterre confess expansive day;
The grot, elusive of the noon-tide ray.
Up yon green slope a length of terrace lies,
Whence gradual landscapes fade in distant skies.
Now the blue lake reflected heav'n displays;
Now darkens, regularly-wild, the maze.
Urns, obelisks, fanes, statues intervene;
Now center, now commence or end the scene.
Lo, proud alcoves! lo, soft sequester'd bow'rs!
Retreats of social, or of studious hours!
Rank above rank here shapely greens ascend;
There others natively-grotesque depend.
The rude, the delicate, immingled tell
How Art wou'd Nature, Nature, Art excell;
And how, while these their rival charms impart,
Art brightens Nature, Nature brightens Art;
Thus in the various, yet harmonious space,
Blend order, symmetry, and force, and grace.
When these from Public Spirit smile, we see
Free-opening gates, and bow'ry pleasures free;
For sure great souls one truth can never miss,
Bliss not communicated is not bliss.
Thus Public Spirit, liberty and peace,
Carve, build, and plant, and give the land increase;
From peasant hands imperial works arise,
And British, hence, with Roman grandeur vies;
Not grandeur that in pompous whim appears,
That levels hills, that vales to mountains rears;
That alters nature's regulated grace,
Meaning to deck, but destin'd to deface.
Tho' no proud gates, with China's taught to vie,
Magnificently useless, strike the eye;
(Useless, where rocks a surer barrier lend,
Where seas incircle, and where fleets defend
What tho' no arch of triumph is assign'd
To laurel'd pride, whose sword has thinn'd mankind;
Tho' no vast wall extends from coast to coast,
No pyramid aspires sublimely lost;
Yet the safe road thro' rocks shall winding tend,
And the firm causeway o'er the clays ascend.
Lo! stately streets, lo! ample squares invite
The salutary gale that breathes delight.
Lo! structures mark the charitable soil
For casual ill, maim'd valour, feeble toil
Worn out with care, infirmity and age;
The life here entering, quitting there the stage:
The babe of lawless birth, doom'd else to moan,
To starve or bleed for errors not his own!
Let the frail mother 'scape the fame defil'd,
If from the murd'ring mother 'scape the child!
Oh, guard his youth from sin's alluring voice;
From deeds of dire necessity, not choice!
His grateful hand, thus never harmful known,
Shall on the public welfare build his own.
Thus worthy crafts, which low-born life divide,
Give towns their opulence, and courts their pride.
Sacred to pleasure structures rise elate,
To that still worthy of the wise and great.
Sacred to pleasure then shall piles ascend?
They shall-when pleasure and instruction blend.
Let theatres, from Public Spirit shine!
Such theatres, as, Athens, once were thine!
See! the gay Muse, of pointed wit possest,
Who wakes the virtuous laugh, the decent jest:
What tho' she mock, she mocks with honest aim,
And laughs each fav'rite folly into shame.
With lib'ral light the tragic charms the age;
In solemn-training robes she fills the stage;
There human nature, mark'd in diff'rent lines,
Alive in character, distinctly shines.
Quick passions change alternate on her face;
Her diction music, as her action grace.
Instant we catch her terror-giving cares,
Pathetic sighs, and pity-moving tears;
Instant we catch her gen'rous glow of soul,
'Till one great striking moral crowns the whole.
Hence in warm youth, by scenes of virtue taught,
Honour exalts, and love expands the thought;
Hence pity, to peculiar grief assign'd,
Grows wide benevolence to all mankind.
Where various edifice the land renowns,
There Public Spirit plans, exalts, and crowns.
She cheers the mansion with the spacious hall,
Bids painting live along the storied wall;
Seated, she smiling eyes th' unclosing door,
And much she welcomes all, but most the poor;
She turns the pillar, or the arch she bends,
The choir she lengthens, or the choir extends;
She rears the tow'r, whose height the heav'ns admire;
(She rears, she rounds, she points the less'ning spire;
At her command the college-roofs ascend;
For Public Spirit still is learning's friend.)
Stupendous piles, which useful pomp compleats,
Thus rise Religion's, and thus Learning's seats:
There moral truth and holy science spring,
And give the sage to teach, the bard to sing.
There some draw health from herbs and min'ral veins,
Some search the systems of the heavenly plains;
Some call from history, past times to view,
And others trace old laws, and sketch out new;
Thence saving rights by legislators plann'd,
And guardian patriots thence inspire the land.
Now grant, ye pow'rs, one great, one fond desire,
And, granting, bid a new Whitehall aspire!
Far let it lead, by well-pleas'd Thames survey'd,
The swelling arch, and stately colonnade;
Bid courts of justice, senate-chambers join,
Till various all in one proud work combine!
But now be all the gen'rous Goddess seen,
When most diffus'd she shines, and most benign!
Ye sons of misery attract her view!
Ye sallow, hollow-ey'd, and meagre crew!
Such high perfection have our arts attain'd,
That now few sons of toil our arts demand?
Then to the public, to itself, we fear,
Ev'n willing industry grows useless here.
Are we too populous at length confess'd,
From confluent strangers refug'd and redress'd?
Has war so long withdrawn his barb'rous train,
That peace o'erstocks us with the sons of men?
So long has plague left pure the ambient air,
That want must prey on those disease would spare?
Hence beauteous wretches (beauty's foul disgrace!)
Tho' born the pride, the shame of human race;
Fair wretches hence, who nightly streets annoy,
Live but themselves and others to destroy.
Hence robbers rise, to theft, to murder prone,
First driv'n by want, from habit desp'rate grown;
Hence, for ow'd trifles, oft our jails contain
(Torn from mankind) a miserable train;
Torn from, in spite of nature's tend'rest cries,
Parental, filial, and connubial ties:
The trader, when on ev'ry side distrest,
Hence flies to what expedient frauds suggest;
To prop his question'd credit's tott'ring state,
Others he first involves to share his fate;
Then for mean refuge must self-exil'd roam,
Never to hope a friend, or find a home.
This Public Spirit sees, she sees and feels!
Her breast the throb, her eye the tear reveals;
(The patriot throb that beats, the tear that flows
For others welfare, and for others woes)-
And what can I (she said) to cure their grief?
Shall I or point out death, or point relief?
Forth shall I lead 'em to some happier soil,
To conquest lead 'em, and enrich with spoil?
Bid 'em convulse a world, make Nature groan,
And spill, in shedding others blood, their own?
No, no-such wars do thou, Ambition, wage!
Go sterilize the fertile with thy rage!
Whole nations to depopulate is thine;
To people, culture, and protect, be mine!
Then range the world, Discov'ry!-Straight he goes
O'er seas, o'er Lybia's sands, and Zembla's snows;
He settles where kind rays till now have smil'd
(Vain smile!) on some luxuriant houseless wild.
How many sons of want might here enjoy
What Nature gives for age but to destroy?
Blush, blush, O sun (she cries) here vainly found,
To rise, to set, to roll the seasons round!
Shall heav'n distil in dews, descend in rain,
From earth gush fountains, rivers flow-in vain?
There shall the wat'ry lives in myriads stray,
And be, to be alone each other's prey?
Unsought shall here the teeming quarries own
The various species of mechanic stone?
From structure this, from sculpture that confine?
Shall rocks forbid the latent gem to shine?
Shall mines obedient, aid no artists care,
Nor give the martial sword and peaceful share?
Ah! shall they never precious ore unfold,
To smile in silver, or to flame in gold?
Shall here the vegetable world alone,
For joys, for various virtues, rest unknown?
While food and physic, plants and herbs supply,
Here must they shoot alone to bloom and die?
Shall fruits, which none but brutal eyes survey,
Untouch'd grow ripe, untasted drop away?
Shall here th' irrational, the savage kind,
Lord it o'er stores by heav'n for man design'd,
And trample what mild suns benignly raise,
While man must lose the use, and heav'n the praise;
Shall it then be?-Indignant here she rose,
(Indignant, yet humane, her bosom glows)-
No! By each honour'd Grecian, Roman name,
By men for virtue deify'd by fame,
Who peopled lands, who model'd infant state,
And then bade empire be maturely great;
By these I swear (be witness earth and skies!)
Fair Order here shall from Confusion rise.
Rapt, I a future colony survey!
Come then, ye sons of Mis'ry! come away!
Let those, whose sorrows from neglect are known,
(Here taught, compell'd, empower'd) neglect atone;
Let those enjoy, who never merit woes,
In youth th' industrious wish, in age repose!
Allotted acres (no reluctant soil)
Shall prompt their industry, and pay their toil.
Let families, long strangers to delight,
Whom wayward fate dispers'd, by me unite;
Here live enjoying life; see plenty, peace;
Their lands increasing as their sons increase.
As nature yet is found, in leafy glades,
To intermix the walks with lights and shades;
Or as with good and ill, in chequer'd strife,
Various the goddess colours human life;
So, in this fertile clime, if yet are seen
Moors, marshes, cliffs, by turns to intervene;
Where cliffs, moors, marshes desolate the view,
Where haunts the bittern, and where screams the mew;
Where prowls the wolf, where roll'd the serpent lies,
Shall solemn fanes and halls of justice rise,
And towns shall open (all of structure fair!)
To bright'ning prospects, and to purest air;
Frequented ports, and vineyards green succeed,
And flocks increasing whiten all the mead.
On science, science, arts on arts refine;
On these, from high, all heav'n shall smiling shine,
And Public Spirit here a people show,
Free, num'rous, pleas'd, and busy all below.
Learn, future natives of this promis'd land,
What your forefathers ow'd my saving hand!
Learn, when Despair such sudden bliss shall see,
Such bliss must shine from Oglethorpe or me!
Do you the neighb'ring blameless Indian aid,
Culture what he neglects, not his invade;
Dare not, Oh dare not, with ambitious view,
Force or demand subjection never due.
Let, by my specious name, no tyrants rise,
And cry, while they enslave, they civilize!
Know, Liberty and I are still the same,
Congenial!-ever mingling flame with flame!
Why must I Afric's sable children see
Vended for slaves, tho' form'd by nature free,
The nameless tortures cruel minds invent,
Those to subject, whom nature equal meant?
If these you dare (albeit unjust success
Empow'rs you now unpunish'd to oppress)
Revolving empire you and yours may doom,
(Rome all subdu'd, yet Vandals vanquish'd Rome,)
Yes, empire may revolve, give them the day,
And yoke may yoke, and blood may blood repay.
Thus (ah! how far unequall'd by my lays,
Unskill'd the heart to melt or mind to raise,)
Sublime, benevolent, deep, sweetly-clear,
Worthy a Thomson's Muse, a Fred'rick's ear,
Thus spoke the Goddess. Thus I faintly tell
In what lov'd works heav'n gives her to excel.
But who her sons, that, to her int'rest true,
Conversant lead her to a prince like you?
These, Sir, salute you from life's middle state,
Rich without gold, and without titles great:
Knowledge of books and men exalts their thought,
In wit accomplish'd, tho' in wiles untaught,
Careless of whispers meant to wound their name,
Nor sneer'd nor brib'd from virtue into shame;
In letters elegant, in honour bright,
They come, they catch, and they reflect delight.
Mixing with these a few of rank are found,
For councils, embassies, and camps renown'd.
Vers'd in gay life, in honest maxims read,
And ever warm of heart, yet cool of head.
From these the circling glass gives wit to shine,
The bright grow brighter, and ev'n courts refine;
From these so gifted, candid, and upright,
Flows knowledge, soft'ning into ease polite.
Happy the men, who such a prince can please!
Happy the prince rever'd by men like these!
His condescensions dignity display,
Grave with the wise, and with the witty gay;
For him fine marble in the quarry lies,
Which, in due statues, to his fame shall rise;
Ever shall Public Spirit beam his praise,
And the Muse swell it in immortal lays.
Richard Savage's Other Poems
- A poem, Sacred to the Glorious memory of...
- A Poem: To The Memory of Mrs. Oldfield
- An Epistle Of The Right Honourable Sir R...
- Nature in Perfection
- Of Public Spirit In Regard To Public Wor...
- The Authors: A Satire
- The Convocation: A Poem
- The Progress Of A Divine: Satire
- The Wanderer: A Vision: Canto I
- The Wanderer: A Vision: Canto II
- The Wanderer: A Vision: Canto III
- The Wanderer: A Vision: Canto IV
- The Wanderer: A Vision: Canto V
- Verses Occasioned By The Right Honourabl...
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.