Poems About Governor Jonathan Belcher

by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) and Other Poets

[The following is a poem by the famous poet and hymnwriter Isaac Watts (1674-1748), perhaps best known as the author of the Christmas carol "Joy to the World". The poem to Governor Belcher is printed in Watts' book Poems, Chiefly of the Lyric Kind. In Three Books. Sacred I. To Devotion and Piety. II. To Virtue, Honour and Friendship. III. To the Memory of the Dead. Governor Belcher and Isaac Watts were good friends.]




appointed by His MAJESTY


To the Government of NEW ENGLAND.

And now returning Home.

Go, favorite man; spread to the wind thy sails:

The Western Ocean smiles; the Eastern Gales

Attend thy hour. Ten thousand vows arise

To ensure for thee the waves, for thee the skies,

And waft thee homeward. On thy native strand

Thy nation throngs to hail thy bark to land.

She sent thee envoy to secure her laws

And her loved freedom. Heaven succeeds the cause,

And makes thee Ruler there. Thy name unites

Thy prince's honors and thy people's rights.

    Twice has thy zeal been to thy SOVEREIGN shown

In German realms, while yet the British throne

Sighed for the House of BRUNSWICK. There thy knee

Paid its first debt to future MAJESTY,

And own the title, e're the Crown had shed

Its radiant honors round the Royal FATHER's head.

Long as thy nation loved thee; Sage in Youth,

In manhood nobly bold, and firm to Truth;

Shining in Arts of Peace; yet midst a Storm.

Skillful to advise, and vigorous to perform:

Kind to the World, and duteous to the Skies;

Distress and Want to thee direct their Eyes:

Thy Life a public Good. What heavenly Ray,

What courteous Spirit pointed out the way,

To make New-Albion blessed, when GEORGE the Just

Gave up the joyful nation to thy trust?

Great GEORGE rewards thy zeal in happy hour

With a bright beam of his Imperial Power.

    Go, BELCHER, go: Assume thy glorious Sway:

Faction expires, and BOSTON longs to obey.

Beneath thy Rule may Truth and Virtue spread;

Divine Religion raise aloft her head,

And deal her Blessings round. Let India hear

That JESUS reigns, and her wild Tribes prepare

For Heavenly Joys. Thy Power shall rule by Love;

So reigns our JESUS in his Realm, above.

Illustrious Pattern! Let Him fix thine Eye,

And guide thy Hand. HE from the Worlds on high

Came once an Envoy and returned a King:

The Sons of Light in Throngs their Homage bring;

While Glory, Life and Joy beneath his Scepter Spring.

March 31.


I. Watts.

[The following is from The New England Weekly Journal, No. 177, Tuesday, August 11, 1730, page 1, column 1:]

A Letter to Mr. ***

    YOU ask, dear friend, that I resume the lyre,

And now, or never, call forth all my fire,

To sing the man to whose successful hand

High Heaven rewarding gives his favorite land;

With BELCHER's name my numbers to prolong,

And speak his virtues in a tuneful song.

    You ask; and fair the flattering muse would try,

Joyful she'd rise, to raise his honors high;

But ah, how shall she dare attempt a song,

Where WATTS has tried his all-harmonious tongue?

Can she with equal art the theme sustain;

Or match the music of his heavenly strain?

With his strong charms forbid the seas to roar,

And bid the gentle waves transport him over?

Give Heaven and earth in one great shout to vie,

And every heart confess the general joy.

The Reverend Bard with such warm Rapture sings;

And [raptured] angels clap their heavenly wings.

    But I, unequal to the noble lays,

My lyre in wild unartful accents plays.

When BELCHER's name employs my...muse

The highest flights I form, is barely prose;

His merits soar above my loftiest sound,

And leave my gazing muse spent, breathless on the ground.

    [Former Governor] BURNET, 'tis true, raised the poetic flame,

INVENTION always was the poet's claim:

The Muse addressed ere she the man descried;

And where her history failed, she prophesied.

But BELCHER, long familiar to these eyes,

Invention, puzzled, has no room to rise;

At his bright character the muse repines

The poet's lost, where the historian shines.

[The following poem was printed in The New England Weekly Journal, No. 178, Monday, August 17, 1730. (It is also printed on the website page titled "Governor Jonathan Belcher, Champion of Civil and Religious Liberty.)]

A Congratulatory POEM to his Excellency Governor BELCHER, at his Arrival.


    Immortal NASSAU! How angelic great!

That could retrieve three sinking kingdoms fate.

How justly, too, shall BELCHER's deathless name

Shine bright forever in the rolls of fame!

Three destined Provinces that erst deplored

Their bleeding liberties has he restored.

    Beloved of Heaven, the Guardian Angels joy,

His precious life, nor spot, nor harm annoy.

While nature, grace, and art strongly combined

Enrich his soul, inspired his brightened mind.

For mighty things, in future life designed.

His generous soul fired with his country's love,

These talents, does to public use improve.

The anxious Provinces, in deep distress,

To him their mighty refuge make address.

Nor did his noble soul their cry disdain;

Who only, could the weighty charge sustain.

The grand affair, he thenceforth has at heart,

Nor night, nor day, does the sad care depart.

Of all the joys of life though full possessed:

For his dear country, does himself divest.

Bids all adieu! And with a winged haste,

The Atlantic dangers he soon overpassed.

BRITAIN arrives, approached the British Throne:

Seeks his loved people's welfare as his own.

King GEORGE's early friend and favorite!

And whom the King to honor does delight.

King GEORGE smiles on his friend, grant his request,

And all his grievances are soon redressed.

And while he for his dear loved land appears,

Not all the FRONT of mighty foes he fears.

    The glorious work performed: prepares to come,

To bless and to rejoice his friends at home.

The willing ocean, swelled with joyous pride,

To waft his ship back over the briny ride.

Fierce winds and waves that sometimes seemed to roar,

Only conspired dispatch to native shore.

    He's come! He's come! Welcome to native coast!

Long time with labors and with billows tossed;

Your happy people's glory, joy, and boast!

    Happy the day of your arrival here!

To future ages, every coming year,

It shall the marks of public honors bear.

The happy State, exulting shall employ

Their rescued liberties in grateful joy.

The golden CHURCHES, still continuing pure

From all encroachments, By [your] guard secure,

Shall be your praise while sun and moon endure.

HARVARD shall boast, her glory now returned;

The brightest crown her temples e're adorned.

And her learned son's, with joyful souls conspire

Your just encomium couched with Delian fire.

    If British liberties be precious things,

Now, new confirmed, from the best of kings.

With much expense and hardy toil sustained;

The glorious blessings happily regained.

Let now triumphal arches, high, be reared,

Let polished statues firm, forever stand,

Devote[d] to the deliverer of the land.

That love and joy, each loyal mind inspire,

Each heaving breast, still fan the noble fire;

Swell every vein, and [rapture] every heart,

And universal reign in every part:

While joyous tongues loud songs of praises sing;

And Heaven and Earth with acclamations ring.

    But now while Town and Country thus resound

With mighty joys and praises all around.

Yea, even dull earth with fertile glory springs,

And every creature joys, and smiles, and sings.


[The following is from The New England Weekly Journal, No. 181, Monday, September 7, 1730, page 1, column 1]:

    To Dr. [ISAAC] WATTS,


To His Government of NEW ENGLAND.

    HE comes! Great WATTS, he comes! (Thy vows prevail,)

His canvas spread to a well-omened gale;

For whom thy vows and hallowed verse attend,

The God bids prosper, and His skies befriend.

The seas roll calm, nor dare the storms rebel

Against the man their Sovereign loves so well:

Labors all nature with a careful toil,

To bring great BELCHER to his native soil.

Safe plows the main his Heaven distinguished fleet.

The powers, who guard our land, prepare to meet

The auspicious man: He comes....


Joy fill all hearts; yes, 'tis the destined hour!

To the high wharfs, see the glad thousands pour!

There his triumphing people joyful stand,

And shout him welcome to the ardent land.

While the proud shores exult beneath his feet,

In circling honors throng the crowded street.

Loud solemn engines his approach proclaim;

And every sound designs great BELCHER's name.

Approving Heaven re-echoes back applause;

And friendly thunders omen the blessed cause.

That royal grace, our best great Prince has shown,

Reflects illustrious glories round his throne:

To his decrees the skies a favoring nod:

Thus wills he gracious; and his reverend voice

Abets the counsels, and confirms the choice.

The Favorite Man assumes his glorious sway:

Faction's expired: all the glad tribes obey.

Behold! The well-distinguished year's begun;

And the great months in generous order run.

Virtue and truth with a new splendor shine,

And seem by high example more divine.

Rising religion shows her beauteous face,

And smiles, and triumphs with unusual grace.

Forthwith shall INDIA hear the joyful fame;

And, haste to learn the glorious SAVIOR's Name.

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