Epistle To The Bishop Of Landaff.

A poem by William Hayley

Christmas Day, 1811.

Epistle.

Thy fav'rite Prelate haste, my verse! to greet
Adorning nature in his sylvan seat!
His southern hermit, his unchanging friend,
Sends him such tribute, as the heart may send,
Love, that, in honouring a peaceful sage,
Invokes all blessings on his hallowed age.
Though many a mountain rears its head between
His wood-crown'd mansion, and my cell marine,
In mental vision I his form survey
Thro' various periods of our vital day;
Now as his manly figure struck my sight,
When first I heard his voice, with new delight,
Imparting science, or celestial truth,
With Latin eloquence, to English youth;
And now, as when, o'erpowering sceptic strife
In his mild vigor of maturer life:
His liberal spirit gain'd the world's applause,
The mitred champion of the Christian cause!
Oh ever friendly to a guileless bard,
Whose pure ambition sought thy kind regard;
How fervently I wish, that verse of mine,
Nor vain, nor languid, tho' in life's decline,
Might thro' thy heart the cheering glow diffuse,
That friendship welcomes from no venal muse,
When worth time-honour'd, still as frank as youth,
Owns that her words of praise are words of truth!
Benign Landaff! to liberal arts a friend!
May all those arts thy well-earned fame attend!
Grateful for all thy kindness to his sire,
My filial sculptor, with Promethean fire,
While yet a boy, confess'd a proud design,
To make thy spirit in his marble shine;
And, with expression eloquently just,
Charm future Christians by thy breathing bust,
That, hope, with many a plan devoutly bold,
The great disposer of our days controll'd;
Saw tortured youth angelically calm,
And call'd the martyr to his heav'nly palm.
If love, inherent in a parent's heart,
Sighs for that lost Marcellus of his art,
Still can I joy, that with rare length of days,
Heaven yet allows my hallow'd friend to raise,
(And with his own more energetic hand
Whose works the ravages of time withstand,)
A portrait of himself:--thou much-lov'd sage!
Far yet extend that biographic page,
Where conscious of existence well employ'd,
And mental treasures gratefully enjoy'd,
Thy virtuous age will morally display
The various labours of thy useful day:
And in thy own rich eloquence enshrin'd,
Leave thy instructive life, a lesson for mankind!

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