"Genius Is Of No Country"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: A dissipated clergyman, Churchill won both fame and notoriety as a satiric poet during the last four years of his life. He was associated with and defended John Wilkes, the unscrupulous editor of the North-Briton. Much of the harsh and vitriolic nature of Churchill's satire seems to have been formed by this association. In The Rosciad, his first important poem, Churchill attacked a number of theatrical personalities with such witty satire that it was at one time regarded as the most important satiric work between those of Pope and Byron. Early in the poem a youth representing Churchill's friend Robert Lloyd speaks forth against the faddish praise of classical culture to the exclusion of native English arts:

"But more than just to other countries grown,
Must we turn base apostates to our own?
Where do these words of Greece and Rome excell,
That England may not please the ear as well?
What mighty magic's in the place or air,
That all perfection needs must center there?
In states, let strangers blindly be preferr'd;
In state of letters, Merit should be heard.
Genius is of no country, her pure ray
Spreads all abroad, as gen'ral as the day:
Foe to restraint, from place to place she flies,
And may hereafter e'en in Holland rise."