Poetical Pieces

Ode on the Dedication of Reffley Spring

Town and Country Magasine July 1772

 

I

Although this article from the Town and Country Magazine is dated July 1772, the occasion on which it took place, June 24th, must have been in 1756, and this Ode performed together with the Cantata.  Just why it was published sixteen years later, is not known, however, Arne’s Cantata was also (re)published that year.

 

To the Printer of the Town and Country Magasine, [1772]

Sir,

 

In order to render the following Ode more intelligible to the reader, it will be proper to introduce a short account of the occasion on which it was written.  The scene of it lies at a little spring, which rises in the midst of a wood , within a short hours walk of Lynn, where during the summer months, pleasure and variety induce gentlemen frequently to spend a convivial hour, and where ladies refresh themselves, after the fatigue of a two miles journey on foot, in sipping a dish of tea beneath the venerable umbrage.

 

Amid the circle of those, whose hearts are open to the charms of nature, it was proposed to adorn this neglected source of pleasure, and by forming it into a bason, give it some little appearance of elegance. That design was carried into execution, and a stone erected with an antique inscription, to the deities of joy and pleasure.

 

On this occasion, the following piece has been composed, as one small tribute to the sacred grove, in honour of the scene, where oft the heart hath drank rich draughts of rational felicity, and marked the hours for happiness.

 

The bason being formed and the necessary decoration completed, this day (June 24) was fixed on for the consecration of the fountain, and for a solemn dedication to the powers omnipotent of love and wine; to perpetuate the day as an anniversary festival in the memory of the living, and in order that the same may be observed by our sons, and our sons sons as an ordinance for ever. In order to raise the solemnity of the scene, A CANTATA  was written on this occasion, and set to music by a gentleman of the company, was performed in public- The recitatives , with the ceremony of consecration, by a person in the character of  The High Priest of Bacchus and Venus, crowned with a wreath of ivy, myrtle, and roses – The airs and song were performed by two or three good voices, and the choruses admirably supported by the rest of the company – the music was much admired, and had a fine effect, for Nature here contributed to raise the note of joy ; whilst the voice of the nightingale softened the symphonies of the airs, and the loud convivial chorus was exalted to the highest pitch of grandeur and sublimity, by the unison of thunder, bursting from the most picturesque scene of clouds, that human fancy can conceive. Appendix 1772.