Ode to Sir Francis Henry Drake, Bar. January, 1749. O.S.


While by the order of the day,
Next week, the House & Speaker pray
That heaven may ne'er, at Britain's hand,
The royal martyr's life demand;
While Bentham labours much in vain
The rights of freedom to maintain
With good Saint Charles's blessed reign;


Then, Drake, to Hampstead haste away,
Where Dyson spends with me the day:
And try if Hardinge cannot find
That fate hath just one more design'd:
Townshend is digging at his farm;
Nor would a loud promiscuous swarm
Or thee, or any of us charm.


I hate the table & the treat
Where friends, beset with strangers, meet;
Where prudent form the tongue restrains
From uttering what the heart contains;
While, in your own despite, your eyes
Tell how importantly you prize
The deep discourse which round you flies.


But say; from orators ador'd,
From every heir to every board,
From Egmont's pathos, Warren's fights,
And Nugent's tragi-comic flights,
Can'st thou an hour's attention steal
To talk with me of England's weal,
And smile at my untutor'd zeal?


Then, if too grave the subject grow,
(Foreboding aught we fear to know)
To bring more pleasing prospects home,
Thro' distant ages we can roam;
When Athens spurn'd the Persian chain;
When thy fam'd grandsire aw'd the main,
Or Somers guided William's reign.


Thence may we turn to calmer views,
The haunts of science & the Muse;
To groves where Milton walks alone,
To Bacon's philosophic throne;
Or where those Attic themes we find,
The moral law, the almighty mind,
And man for future worlds design'd.


O Drake, in spite of all the zeal
Which for the public oft we feel,
When I before the shrine of fame
Present some English patriot's name,
Or when thy nobler cares demand
How England's Genius safe may stand
From usury's insatiate hand;


Yet, if blind selfishness can foil
Both Barnard's hope & Pelham's toil,
Surely the happiest hours below,
(Which yet must from the public flow)
The hours, which most sincerely please,
Belong to private scenes like these,
To friendship & to letter'd ease.
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