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Ode to Caleb Hardinge

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Surname/tag: by Mark Akenside, MD, poet.
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Abstract of a thesis by MARK AKENSIDE and THE POETRY OF CURRENT EVENTS: 1738-1770.

In the fourth chapter, a poem composed during the contested Westminster election of 1749 is discussed, in addition to Odes addressed to Sir Francis-Henry Drake,Charles Townshend, and Dr Caleb Hardinge.

Akenside's poem, then, is an invitation to Drake to avoid what promises to be a dull and predictable church service, and instead to travel out to Hampstead 'where Dyson spends with me the day'(9) (in fact, Akenside was by now apparently living in 'a small but handsome house in Bloomsbury Square1 (Hawkins: Life 244),and the villa at Golder's Hill, Hampstead, belonged to Dyson; but as this invitation and later poems suggest, he seems to have treated Hampstead as a second home).

The day is to be a quiet one, although Hardinge is to be present; this, it must be assumed, is Dr Caleb Hardinge (1701-1775), another close friend of Akenside's, and brother to the Nicholas Hardinge from whom Dyson had purchased the office of Clerk to the House of Commons in February 1748 — Akenside addressed an Ode to Caleb Hardinge inviting him to a similar (or possibly even the same) celebration.

With sordid floods the wintry Urn
Hath stain'd fair Richmond's level green:
Her naked hill the Dryads mourn,
No longer a poetic scene.
So longer there thy raptur'd eye
The beauteous forms of earth or sky
Surveys as in their Author's mind:
And London shelters from the year
Those whom thy social hours to share
The Attic Muse design'd.


From Hampstead's airy summit me
Her guest the city shall behold,
What day the people's stern decree
To unbelieving kings is told,
When common men (the dread of fame)
Adjudg'd as one of evil name,
Before the sun, the anointed head.
Then seek thou too the pious town,
With no unworthy cares to crown
That evening's awful shade.

Deem not I call thee to deplore
The sacred martyr of the day,
By fast and penitential lore
To purge our ancient guilt away.
For this, on humble faith I rest
That still our advocate, the priest,
From heavenly wrath will save the land:
If or ask what rites our pardon gain,
Nor how his potent sounds restrain
The thunderer's uplifted hand.

No, Hardinge: peace to church and state!
That evening, let the Muse give law:
While I anew the theme relate
Which first my youth inamor'd saw.
Then will I oft explore thy thought,
What to reject which Locke hath taught,
What to pursue in Virgil's lay:
Till hope ascends to loftiest things,
Nor envies demagogues or kings
Their frail and vulgar sway.

0 vers'd in all the human frame,
Lead thou where'er my labour lies,
And English fancy's eager flame
To Grecian purity chastize:
While hand in hand, at wisdom's shrine,
Beauty with truth I strive to join,
And grave assent with glad applause;
To paint the story of the soul,
And Plato's visions to control
By *Verulamian laws.

  • Verulam gave one of his titles to Francis Bacon, author of the Novum Organum

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