HOW shall the Muse attempt to teach,

Artist divine!  in fitting lays,

What voice with equal thought can reach

Thine and the sacred Organ’s praise?

Oh!  might the numbers flow with ease,

As thou our spirits dost command,

Which rise and fall by just degrees,

Each soul obsequious to thy hand!


With joy and wonder fill’d, we seem

Borne on the swelling sound on high,

Like Jacob in his blissful dream,

All Heaven approaching to descry!


Now in more lengthen’d notes, and slow

We hear, inspiring sacred dread,

The deep majestic Organ blow,

Symbol of sounds that rouze the dead!


A pleasing horror fills the dome!

The statues o’er each antique tomb,

Attentive look!  while we like them become! [151]

See!  All, resembling statues, stand,

Enchanted by thy magic hand!

A solemn pause ensues — — —

All things are hush’d, and every breath

Seems stopp’d as in the arms of death!


Each restless Passion’s softly lull’d to peace,

And silent thought seems only not to cease!

How dreadful is this place!  What holy fear

Thrills through our shuddering veins!  Hail, heavenly choir,

That round th’ Eternal sing!  for surely here

Jehovah is!  far, ye Profane, retire.

Again we hear!  and silence now is drown’d

In rapturous notes, and ecstacy of sound!


Fix’d in one solid stedfast gaze,

The rustic hind, a human brute,

Devours the sounds in deep amaze,

Entranc’d, immoveable, and mute.


His wakening soul begins to guess

Some God within that frame must dwell,

Now full convinc’d that nothing less

Could speak so sweet, so wondrous well.


What sacred rage their breast alarms,

Whose more than barbarous zeal exclaims

Against the soft persuasive charms

Of Music, which the savage tames?


Such they that tore the Thracian Bard,

And with their frantic clamour drown’d

What woods and rocks with rapture heard,

Both Voice and Harp’s melodious sound! [152]


Ev’n me, untaught my voice to raise,

Wont still to haunt the silent bower,

Thy notes provoke to sing their praise,

And oh!  that they inspir’d the power!

But as th’ unheeded numbers flow,

Thy skill no sooner they rehearse,

Than (as too groveling all and low)

My heighten’d fancy scorns the verse.


Thus the fond bird whom shade and silence cheers,

Some great musician’s varied solo hears:

Her little soul alarm’d, his notes essays,

She sings alternate as the artist plays:

Warbling she strives, each modulation tries,

Till tir’d, her weak wings droop, and griev’d, she dies!

In Roman strains this Strada* sweetly sung,

But sweeter Philips in our ruder tongue.


While blest with thy celestial airs,

How vain we count the views of life,

The miser’s hopes, the lover’s cares,

Domestic feuds, and public strife!

No more amus’d with gaudy sights,

The world seems now to disappear,

While sound alone the soul delights,

Which ravish’d would for ever hear! [153]


Thy music, like the sacred page,

Tempers the fierce, uplifts the faint,

Composes youth, enlivens age,

Th’ obdurate melts, inflames the saint!

Each now refin’d from low desires,

Rais’d high by thee, and nobler grown,

His elevated thought admires,

And feels a spirit not his own!


But who can paint the Poet’s fires?

How are life’s feeble strings oppress’d

With the strong rage thy touch inspires,

While glowi[n]g transports swell his breast?

Rising with thy exalted strain,

His labouring soul now fain would fly,

Fain would shake off this mortal chain,

And re-ascend its native sky!


Thus led by Maro’s Muse to Cuma’s cave,

We hear the Maid inspir’d divinely rave;

Her changing colour and disorder’d hair

Raptures too great to be sustain’d declare:

With heighten’d features, and wild glaring eyes,

Panting for breath, “The God, the God!” she cries:

The voice not hers, and more than mortal sound,

From vault to vault like thunder echos round!


Hark!  Cornet and Cremona join,

Deep Diapason and Bassoon,

With Flute and Voice human, divine!

A choir of instruments in one! [154]

Now loud all stops in concert blow!

By the harmonious whirlwind driven,

Our souls are ravish’d into Heaven,

And seem to spurn the world below!


Blest emblem of seraphic joys!

Where various forms and powers combine

In harmony of thought and voice,

While all to hymn their Sovereign join!

But man, unhappy man, whose mind

In the same Heaven was fram’d for peace,

Varies discordant (like the wind)

Whom God nor Sovereign long can please*.


Swol’n thoughts in his tumultuous soul

Now like the troubled billows roll;

Becalm’d, they now to spleen subside,

Low, languid, as the ebbing tide!

Yet as thy volant touch pursues

Through all proportions low and high

The wondrous fugue, it peace renews

Serene as the unsullied sky,

Gladsome, as when Aurora’s cheerful beams

Dispell vain phantoms and delusive dreams.

Th’ attending Graces with thy fingers move,

And as they interweave the various notes,

Concord and ease, delight and purest love,

Flow where the undulating music floats! [155]

Base spirits fly; and all is Holy ground

Within the circle of the sacred sound!


See!  Discord of her rage disarm’d,

Relenting, calm, and bland as Peace;

Ev’n restless noisy Faction charm’d,

And Envy forc’d thy skill to bless!

Here Phrensy and distracted Care

Pleas’d and compos’d would ever dwell;

While joys, unknown till now, they share,

And feel a Heaven possess’d for Hell!


Should Hate with Furies leagu’d combine,

Till all be into ruin hurl’d,

Say, would not Harmony like thine

Quell the wild uproar of the world?

As when a raging tempest roars,

Some secret power the storm restrains,

Hush’d are the waves, gay smile the shores,

And peace o’er all the ocean reigns.


Oh then that they whose rage and hate

A brood of deadly mischiefs nurse,

Who secret all our ills create,

And then their own dire off spring curse,

That all in one assembly join’d,

Could hear thy healing soothing strain!

Soon shouldst thou calm their troubled mind,

And Reason should her seat regain:

Then in sweet sounds like thine, so soft a style,

Hoadly or Fleetwood silver-tongu’d should show

How rage would ravish, from our frighted isle,

The dear-bought blessings to the laws we owe: [156]

How from just laws the world derives repose,

And Harmony through all the glad Creation flows!

Their voice th’ enlighten’d crowd to peace should move,

And fix for ever firm in loyalty and love.[1]


* Rector of Harrietsham, Kent; and some time chaplain to the houshold of King George the First at Kensington.  N.

* “Fidicinis & Philomelae Certamen.”  P.

Pastoral V. — We have been assured that Philips, being complimented on this beautiful imitation, disowned his previous knowledge of the original.  Credat Judeus!  D.

* Thus Dryden,

  “No King can govern, and no God can please.”  D.

[1] A Select Collection of Poems: With Notes, Biographical and Historical, 8 vols. (London: J. Nichols, 1781), 7:150-56. Originally published in 1722; repr., Deutsch, 139-43.