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JOHN LORD SOMERS was one of the earliest patrons of Addison, and procured for him, in 1699, a pension of 300l. a year to enable him to make the tour of Italy. This address paved the way to their intimacy; as we are told by Tickell, that on its being presented to his lordship he sent a message to its author to desire his acquaintance. According to Oldmixon he was introduced to him by Tonson; and we learn from the fourth line of the verses before us, that he was unknown to him at the time of their publication.
Lord Somers was the son of an attorney, and rose to the highest offices in the state by his talents and learning. In this situation he became a patron of men of letters, and was one of those who redeemed the divine poem of Milton from the obscurity into which it had been thrown by party-spirit and hatred. His greatest praise as a statesman is, that few ever passed through life with a purer political character.
LORD KEEPER OF THE GREAT SEAL.
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:
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;
To 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 indites,
Pardon her faults, and countenance her flights.
On 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.
WHEN now the business of the field is o'er,
The trumpets sleep, and cannons cease to roar,
When every 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 prophetic 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 every blow;
But durst not in heroic strains rejoice;
The trumpets, drums, and cannons drown'd her voice:
She saw the Boyne run thick with human gore,
And floating corps lie beating on the shore;
She saw thee climb the banks, but tried in vain
To trace her hero through the dusty plain,
When through the thick embattled 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 would thy toils rehearse;
Draw thee belov'd in peace, and fear'd in wars,
Inur'd to noonday sweats, and midnight 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,
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,
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 battles warm a future age.
Hibernian fields shall here thy conquests show,
And Boyne be sung when it has ceas'd to flow;
Here Gallic labours shall advance thy fame,
And here Seneffe shall wear another name.
Our late posterity, with secret dread,
Shall view thy battles, 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,