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LINES TO THE KING.

PRESENTED TO THE LORD KEEPER.

TO THE

RIGHT HON. SIR JOHN SOMERS, LORD KEEPER OF THE GREAT SEAL. 1

a

IF yet your thoughts are loose from state affairs,
Nor feel the burden of a kingdom's cares,
If yet your time and actions are your own,
Receive the present of a muse unknown:

* To the Right Honorable, &c., Sir John Somers :-Somers, equally eminent as a constitutional lawyer, a statesman, and a patron of letters, was born at Worcester in 1652. He studied at Oxford, soon distinguished himself at the bar, made his first appearance in political life as an opponent of the policy of Charles II., established his legal reputation by his five minutes' plea in defence of the seven bishops, sat for Worcester in the convention of parliament, was one of the managers for the Commons in the conference with the lords on the word abdicate, was knighted and made Solicitorgeneral in 1689, Attorney-general in 1692, Lord Keeper in 1693, and Lord High Chancellor in 1695, and Peer, by the title of Lord Somers, Baron Evesham. After William's death, he retired from public life to letters, which he had always loved, and, in this capacity, was chosen President of the Royal Society. In 1706 he drew up a plan of union for England and Scotland, and was appointed one of the Commissioners for carrying it into effect.

In 1708 he returned to public life as President of the Council, was dismissed in 1710, and died in 1716 of an apoplectic fit, at the age of 64. As a patron of letters, his name is closely associated with that of Addison, like whom he contributed to call attention to the neglected beauties of the Paradise Lost. He translated some of Ovid's epistles, Plutarch’s Alcibiades, and wrote several tracts, one of which, called “The judgment of whole kingdoms and nations concerning the rights, powers, and prerogatives of kings, and the rights, privileges, and properties of the people,

á This short address to his patron, is polite and proper, but, like the poem, which it introduces, very prosaic.

A muse that in advent'rous numbers sings
The rout of armies, and the fall of kings,
Britain advanc'd, and Europe's peace restor’d,
By Somers' counsels, and by Nassau's sword.

To you, my lord, these daring thoughts belong,
Who help'd to raise the subject of my song;
Το

you the hero of my verse reveals
His great designs, to you in council tells
His inmost thoughts, determining the doom
Of towns unstorm'd, and battles yet to come.
And well could you, in your immortal strains,
Describe his conduct, and reward his pains:
But since the state has all your cares engrost,
And poetry in higher thoughts is lost,
Attend to what a lesser muse a indites,
Pardon her faults and countenance her flights.

shewing,” &c., &c., was reprinted during the discussions which preceded our own revolution, with the following date:

Newport, Rhode Island : reprinted and sold by Solomon Southwick, in Queen-street, 1774.

Somers left also a large collection of scarce tracts, from which a selection was published, in 14 vols., and in 1809–1812, a new edition, in 12 vols. 4to. edited by Sir Walter Scott.

It is to him that Swift, in a letter to Bolingbroke, attributes “the regularity of an alderman or a gentleman usher;” and Evelyn says of him, in the 3d vol. of his memoirs, “It is certain that this chancellor was a most excellent lawyer, very learned in all polite literature, a superior pen, master of a handsome style, and of easy conversation : but he is said to make too much haste to be rich, as his predecessor, and most in place in this age did, to a more prodigious excess than was ever known.”

Addison, who was not yet known to Somers, was invited to wait upon him; and thus his second verses, like the first, opened the way to an important political as well as literary acquaintance.-G.]

a Lesser muse. Little has two comparatives, less and lesser. Use leaves us at libery to employ either. The sound will direct us when to prefer the one to the other." As here, a lesser muse, is clearly better than

01 you, my lord, with anxious fear I wait,
And from your judgment must expect my fate,
Who, free from vulgar passions, are above
Degrading envy, or misguided love;
If you, well pleas'd, shall smile upon my lays,
Secure of fame, my voice I'll boldly raise,
For next to what you write, is what you praise.

TO THE KING,1

WHEN now the business of the field is o'er,
The trumpets sleep, and cannons cease to roar,
When ev'ry dismal echo is decay'd,
And all the thunder of the battle laid;
Attend, auspicious prince, and let the muse
In humble accents milder thoughts infuse.

Others, in bold prophetick numbers skill'd,
Set thee in arms, and led thee to the field,
My muse expecting on the British strand
Waits thy return, and welcomes thee to land :
She oft has seen thee pressing on the foe,
When Europe was concern'd in ev'ry blow;
But durst not in heroick strains rejoice;
The trumpets, drums, and cannons drown'd her voice :

1 This poem was addressed to William on his return from the campaign of 1695 in Flanders, against the French army under Villeroy. The great event of the campaign was the taking of Namur on the 4th of August.-G.

a less muse. But, in general, it may be a good rule “to join less with a singular noun, and lesser with a plural:”-as, when we say, a less difficulty, and, lesser difficulties. The reason is, that few singular nouns terminate in s, and most plural nouns do.

Worser, the second comparative of bad, has not the same authority to plead, as lesser, and is not, I think, of equal use.-Our grammarians do not enough attend to the influence, which the ear has in modelling a language.

She saw the Boyne ' run thick with human gore,
And floating corps lye beating on the shore :
She saw thee climb the banks, but try'd in vain
To trace her hero through the dusty plain,
When through the thick embattl'd lines he broke,
Now plung'd amidst the foes, now lost in clouds of smoke.

O that some muse, renown'd for lofty verse,
In daring numbers wou'd thy toils rehearse !
Draw thee belov'd in peace, and fear'd in wars,
Inur'd to noon-day sweats, and mid-night cares!
But still the god-like man, by some hard fate,
Receives the glory of his toils too late;
Too late the verse the mighty act succeeds,
One age the hero, one the poet breeds.

A thousand years in full succession ran,
Ere Virgil rais'd his voice, and sung the man
Who, driv'n by stress of fate, such dangers bore
On stormy seas, and a disastrous shore,
Before he settled in the promis'd earth,
And gave the empire of the world its birth.

Troy long had found the Grecians bold and fierce,
Ere Homer muster'd up their troops in verse;
Long had Achilles quell'd the Trojans' lust,
And laid the labour of the gods in dust,
Before the tow'ring muse began her flight,
And drew the hero raging in the fight,

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She saw the Boyne. The usual poetic exaggeration. This battle, which on the 11th July, 1690, decided the fate of James II., cost him little more than 1500 men, William was slightly wounded.-G.

He should have said heats, as he does say in the Campaign, The midnight watches and the noon-day heats.

Engag'd in tented fields, and rolling floods,
Or slaught'ring mortals, or a match for gods.

And here, perhaps, by fate's unerring doom,
Some mighty bard lies hid in years to come,
That shall in William's god-like acts engage,
And with his battels, warm a future age.
Hibernian fields shall here thy conquests show,
And Boyn be sung, when it has ceas'd to flow;
Here Gallick labours shall advance thy fame,
And here Seneffer shall wear another name.
Our late posterity, with secret dread,
Shall view thy battels, and with pleasure read
How, in the bloody field, too near advanc'd,
The guiltless bullet on thy shoulder glanc'd.

The race of Nassaus was by heav'n design'd
To curb the proud oppressors of mankind,
To bind the tyrants of the earth with laws,
And fight in ev'ry injur'd nation's cause,
The world's great patriots; they for justice call,
And as they favour, kingdoms rise or fall.
Our British youth, unus'd to rough alarms,
Careless of fame, and negligent of arms,

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* And here Seneffe shall wear another name.

Battle of Seneft in Flanders, Aug 11, 1674. The last battle of the great Condé-who fought three divisions of the enemy in succession. The last combat lasted till midnight, and between both armies 25,000 men were killed without a decisive victory on either side. Condé was severely criticized for sacrificing so many men, and the lover of rhetorical artifice will admire the skill with which Bossuet in his celebrated funeral oration, escapes the perilous point of his subject, by connecting his mention of Seneff with a personal anecdote of the Prince and his son.-G.

a The guiltless bullet, &c. Delicately, and, at the same time, nobly expressed. Our great preacher, Tillotson, was not so happy when he spoke of the king's shoulder as being kindly kissed by this bullet.

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