Sir Eldred Of The Bower : A Legendary Tale: In Two Parts
There was a young and valiant Knight,
Sir Eldred was his name;
And never did a worthier wight
The rank of knighthood claim.
Where gliding Tay, her stream sends forth,
To feed the neighbouring wood,
The ancient glory of the North,
Sir Eldred's castle stood.
The Knight was rich as Knight might be
In patrimonial wealth;
And rich in nature's gifts was he,
In youth, and strength, and health.
He did not think, as some have thought,
Whom honour never crown'd,
The fame a father dearly bought,
Could make the son renown'd.
He better thought, a noble sire,
Who gallant deeds had done,
To deeds of hardihood should fire
A brave and gallant son.
The fairest ancestry on earth
Without desert is poor;
And every deed of former worth
Is but a claim for more.
Sir Eldred's heart was ever kind,
Alive to Pity's call;
A crowd of virtues grac'd his mind,
He loved, and felt for all.
When merit rais'd the sufferer's name,
He shower'd his bounty then;
And those who could not prove that claim,
He succour'd still as men.
But sacred truth the Muse compels
His errors to impart;
And yet the Muse reluctant tells
The fault of Eldred's heart.
The mild and soft as infant love
His fond affections melt;
Tho' all that kindest spirits prove
Sir Eldred keenly felt:
Yet if the passions storm'd his soul,
By jealousy led on;
The fierce resentment scorn'd control,
And bore his virtues down.
Not Thule's waves so wildly break
To drown the northern shore;
Not Etna's entrails fiercer shake,
Or Scythia's tempests roar.
As when in summer's sweetest day
To fan the fragrant morn,
The sighing breezes softly stray
O'er fields of ripen'd corn;
Sudden the lightning's blast descends,
Deforms the ravag'd fields;
At once the various ruin blends,
And all resistless yields.
But when, to clear his stormy breast,
The sun of reason shone,
And ebbing passions sunk to rest,
And show'd what rage had done:
O then what anguish he betray'd!
His shame how deep, how true!
He view'd the waste his rage had made,
And shudder'd at the view.
The meek-ey'd dawn, in saffron robe,
Proclaim'd the opening day,
Up rose the sun to gild the globe,
And hail the new-born May;
The birds their vernal notes repeat,
And glad the thickening grove,
And feather'd partners fondly greet
With many a song of love:
When pious Eldred early rose
The Lord of all to hail;
Who life with all its gifts bestows,
Whose mercies never fail!
That done -- he left his woodland glade,
And journey'd far away;
He lov'd to court the distant shade,
And thro' the lone vale stray.
Within the bosom of a wood,
By circling hills embrac'd,
A little, modest mansion stood,
Built by the hand of taste:
While many a prouder castle fell,
This safely did endure;
The house where guardian virtues dwell
Is sacred and secure.
Of Eglantine an humble fence
Around the mansion stood,
Which serv'd at once to charm the sense,
And screen an infant wood.
The wood receiv'd an added grace,
As pleas'd it bent to look,
And view'd its ever verdant face
Reflected in a brook:
The smallness of the stream did well
The master's fortunes show;
But little streams may serve to tell
The source from which they flow.
This mansion own'd an aged Knight,
And such a man was he,
As heaven just shows to human sight,
To tell what man should be.
His youth in many a well-fought field
Was train'd betimes to war;
His bosom, like a well-worn shield,
Was grac'd with many a scar.
The vigour of a green old age
His reverend form did bear;
And yet, alas! the warrior-sage
Had drain'd the dregs of care.
And sorrow more than age can break,
And wound its hapless prey,
'Twas sorrow furrow'd his firm cheek,
And turn'd his bright locks grey.
One darling daughter sooth'd his cares,
A young and beauteous dame,
Sole comfort of his failing years,
And Birtha was her name.
Her heart a little sacred shrine,
Where all the Virtues meet,
And holy Hope and Faith divine
Had claim'd it for their seat.
She lov'd to raise her fragrant bower
Of wild and rustic taste,
And there she screen'd each fav'rite flower
From ev'ry ruder blast:
And not a shrub or plant was there
But did some moral yield,
For wisdom, by a father's care,
Was found in ev'ry field.
The trees, whose foliage fell away,
And with the summer died,
He thought an image of decay
Might lecture human pride:
While fair perennial greens that stood,
And brav'd the wintry blast,
As types of the fair mind he view'd,
Which shall for ever last.
He taught her that the gaudiest flowers
Were seldom fragrant found,
But, wasted soon their little powers,
Dropt useless on the ground:
While the sweet-scented rose shall last,
And still retain its power
When life's imperfect day is past,
And beauty's shorter hour.
And here the virgin lov'd to lead
Her inoffensive day,
And here she oft retir'd to read,
And oft retir'd to pray.
Embower'd, she grac'd the woodland shades,
From courts and cities far,
The pride of Caledonian maids,
The peerless northern star.
As shines that bright and lucid star,
The glory of the night,
When beaming thro' the cloudless air,
She sheds her silver light:
So Birtha shone! -- But when she spoke
The Muse herself was heard,
As on the ravish'd air she broke,
And thus her prayer preferr'd:
'O bless thy Birtha, Power Supreme,
In whom I live and move,
And bless me most by blessing him
Whom more than life I love.'
She starts to hear a stranger's voice,
And with a modest grace,
She lifts her meek eye in surprise,
And sees a stranger's face:
The stranger lost in transport stood,
Bereft of voice and power,
While she with equal wonder view'd
Sir Eldred of the bower.
The virgin blush which spreads her cheek
With nature's purest dye,
And all those dazzling beams which break
Like morning from her eye.
He view'd them all, and as he view'd,
Drank deeply of delight;
And still his raptur'd eye pursued,
And feasted on the sight.
With silent wonder long they gaz'd,
And neither silence broke;
At length the smother'd passion blaz'd,
Enamour'd Eldred spoke:
'O sacred Virtue, heav'nly power!
Thy wondrous force I feel:
I gaze, I tremble, I adore,
Yet die my love to tell.
'My scorn has oft the dart repell'd
Which guileful beauty threw;
But goodness heard, and grace beheld,
Must every heart subdue.'
Quick on the ground her eyes were cast,
And now as quickly rais'd:--
Just then her father haply past,
On whom she trembling gaz'd.
Good Ardolph's eye his Birtha meets
With glances of delight;
And thus with courteous speech he greets
The young and graceful Knight:
'O gallant youth, whoe'er thou art,
Right welcome to this place!
There's something rises at my heart
Which says I've seen that face.'
'Thou generous Knight,' the youth rejoin'd,
'Though little known to fame,
I trust I bear a grateful mind--
Sir Eldred is my name.'
'Sir Eldred?' -- Ardolph loud exclaim'd,
'Renown'd for worth and power?
For valour and for virtue famed,
Sir Eldred of the Bower?
'Now make me grateful, righteous Heaven,
As thou art good to me,
Since to my aged eyes 'tis given
Sir Eldred's son to see!'
Then Ardolph caught him by the hand,
And gazed upon his face,
And to his aged bosom strain'd,
With many a kind embrace.
Again he view'd him o'er and o'er,
And doubted still the truth,
And ask'd what he had ask'd before,
Then thus addrest the youth:
'Come now beneath my roof, I pray,
Some needful rest to take,
And with us many a cheerful day
Thy friendly sojourn make.'
He enter'd at the gate straightway
Some needful rest to take;
And with them many a cheerful day
Did friendly sojourn make.
Once -- in a social summer's walk,
The gaudy day was fled;
They cheated time with cheerful talk
When thus Sir Ardolph said:
'Thy father was the firmest friend
That e'er my beign blest;
And every virtue heaven could send,
Fast bound him to my breast.
'Together did we learn to bear
The casque and ample shield;
Together learn'd in many a war
The deathful spear to wield.
'To make our union still more dear,
We both were doom'd to prove,
What is most sweet and most severe
In heart-dissolving love.
'The daughter of a neighbouring Knight
Did my fond heart engage,
And ne'er did Heaven the virtues write
Upon a fairer page.
'His bosom felt an equal qound,
Nor sigh'd we long in vain;
One summer's sun beheld us bound
In Hymen's holy chain.
'Thou wast Sir Eldred's only child,
Thy father's darling joy;
On me a lovely daughter smiled,
On me a blooming boy.
'But man has woes -- has clouds of care,
That dim his star of life --
My arms received the little pair,
The earth's cold breast my wife.
'Forgive, thou gentle Knight, forgive,
Fond foolish tears will flow;
One day like mine thy heart may heave,
And mourn its lot of wo.
'But grant, kind Heaven! thou ne'er may'st know
The pangs I now impart;
Nor ever feel the parting blow
That rives a husband's heart.
'Beside the blooming banks of Tay;
My angel's ashes sleep;
And wherefore should her Ardolph stay
Except to watch and weep?
'I bore my beauteous babes away
With many a gushing tear;
I left the blooming banks of Tay,
And brought my darlings here.
'I watch'd my little household cares
And form'd their growing youth,
And fondly train'd their infant years
To piety and truth.'
'Thy blooming Birtha here I see,'
Sir Eldred straight rejoin'd;
'But why the son is not with thee,
Resolve my doubting mind.'
When Birtha did the question hear,
She sigh'd, but could not speak:
And many a soft and tender tear
Stray'd down her damask cheek.
Then pass'd o'er good Sir Ardolph's face
A cast of deadly pale;
But soon composed with manly grace,
He thus renew'd his tale:
'For him my heart too much has bled;
For him, my darling son,
Has sorrow prest my hoary head,
But Heaven's high will be done!
'Scarce eighteen winters had revolved,
To crown the circling year,
Before my valiant boy resolved
The warrior's lance to bear.
'For high I prized my native land,
Too dear his fame I held,
T'oppose a parent's stern command,
And keep him from the field.
'He left me -- left his sister too,
Yet tears bedew'd his face --
What could a feeble old man do?
He burst from my embrace.
'O thirst of glory, fatal flame!
O laurels dearly bought!
Yet sweet is death when earn'd with fame--
So virtuous Edwy thought.
'Full manfully the brave boy strove,
Though pressing ranks oppose;
But weak the strongest arm must prove
Against an host of foes.
'A deadly wound my son receives,
A spear assails his side:
Grief does not kill -- for Adolph lives
To tell that Edwy died.
'His long-loved mother died again
In Edwy's parting groan;
I wept for her, yet wept in vain--
I wept for both in one.
'I would have died -- I sought to die,
But Heaven restrain'd the thought,
And to my passion-clouded eye
My helpless Birtha brought.
'When lo! array'd in robes of light,
A nymph celestial came,
She clear'd the mists that dimm'd my sight--
Religion was her name.
'She proved the chastisement divine,
And bade me kiss the rod:
She taught this rebel heart of mine
Submission to its God.
Religion taught me to sustain
What Nature bade me feel;
And Piety relieved the pain
Which Time can never heal.'
He ceased -- with sorrow and delight
The tale Sir Eldred hears;
Then weeping cries -- 'Thou noble Knight,
For thanks accept my tears.
'O Ardolph, might I dare aspire
To claim so bright a boon!--
Good old Sir Eldred was my sire--
And thou hast lost a son.
'And though I want a worthier plea
To urge so dear a cause;
Yet let me to thy bosom be
What once thy Edwy was.
'My trembling tongue its aid denies;
For thou may'st disapprove;
Then read it in my ardent eyes,
Oh! read the tale of love.
'Thy beauteous Birtha!' -- 'Gracious Power
How could I e'er repine,
Cries Ardolph, 'since I see this hour?
Yes -- Birtha shall be thine.'
A little transient gleam of red
Shot faintly o'er her face,
And every trembling feature spread
With sweet disorder'd grace.
The tender father kindly smiled
With fulness of content:
And fondly eyed his darling child,
Who, bashful, blush'd consent.
O then to paint the vast delight
That fill'd Sir Eldred's heart,
To tell the transports of the Knight,
Would mock the Muse's art.
But every kind and gracious soul,
Where gentle passions dwell,
Will better far conceive the whole,
Than any Muse can tell.
The more the Knight his Birtha knew,
The more he prized the maid;
Some worth each day produced to view,
Some grace each hour betray'd.
The virgin too was fond to charm
The dear accomplish'd youth;
His single breast she strove to warm,
And crown'd, with love, his truth.
Unlike the dames of modern days,
Who general homage claim;
Who court the universal gaze,
And pant for public fame.
Then beauty but on merit smiled,
Nor were her chaste smiles sold;
No venal father gave his child
For grandeur, or for gold.
The ardour of young Eldred's flame
But ill could brook delay,
And oft he press'd the maid to name
A speedy nuptial day.
The fond impatience of his breast
'Twas all in vain to hide,
But she his eager suit represt
With modest maiden pride.
When oft Sir Eldred press'd the day
Which was to crown his truth,
The thoughtful Sire would sigh and say,
'O happy state of youth!
'It little recks the woes which wait
To scare its dreams of joy;
Nor thinks to-morrow's alter'd fate
May all those dreams destroy.
'And though the flatterer Hope deceives,
And painted prospects shows;
Yet man, still cheated, still believes,
Till death the bright scene close.
'So look'd my bride, so sweetly mild,
On me her beauty's slave;
But whilst she look'd, and whilst she smiled,
She sunk into the grave.
'Yet, O forgive an old man's care
Forgive a father's zeal:
Who fondly loves, must greatly fear;
Who fears, must greatly feel.
'Once more in soft and sacred bands
Shall Love and Hymen meet;
To-morrow shall unite your hands,
And -- be your bliss complete!'
The rising sun inflamed the sky,
The golden orient blush'd;
But Birtha's cheeks a sweeter die,
A brighter crimson flush'd.
The Priest, in milk-white vestments clad,
Perform'd the mystic rite;
Love lit the hallow'd torch that led
To Hymen's chaste delight.
How feeble language were to speak
Th' immeasurable joy,
That fired Sir Eldred's ardent cheek,
And triumph'd in his eye!
Sir Ardolph's pleasure stood confest,
A pleasure all his own;
The guarded pleasure of a breast
Which many a grief had known.
'Twas such a sober sense of joy
As Angels well might keep;
A joy chastised by piety,
A joy prepared to weep.
To recollect her scatter'd thought,
And shun the noon-tide hour,
The lovely bride in secret sought
The coolness of her Bower.
Long she remain'd -- th' enamour'd Knight,
Impatient at her stay;
And all unfit to taste delight
When Birtha was away;
Betakes him to the secret bower;
His footsteps softly move;
Impell'd by every tender power,
He steals upon his love.
O, horror! horror! blasting sight!
He sees his Birtha's charms,
Reclined with melting fond delight,
Within a stranger's arms.
Wild phrenzy fires his frantic hand;
Distracted at the sight,
He flies to where the lovers stand,
And stabs the stranger Knight.
'Die, traitor, die! thy guilty flames
Demand th' avenging steel!'--
'It is my brother,' she exclaims,
''Tis Edwy -- Oh farewell.'
An aged peasant, Edwy's guide,
The good old Ardolph sought;
He told him that his bosom's pride,
His Edwy he had brought.
O how the father's feelings melt!
How faint, and how revive!
Just so the Hebrew Patriarch felt,
To find his son alive.
'Let me behold my darling's face,
And bless him ere I die!'
Then with a swift and vigorous pace,
He to the bower did hie:
O sad reverse! -- Sunk on the ground;
His slaughter'd son he view'd;
And dying Birtha, close he found,
In brother's blood imbrued.
Cold, speechless, senseless, Eldred near
Gazed on the deed he had done;
Like the blank statue of Despair,
Or Madness graved in stone.
The father saw -- so Jephthah stood,
So turn'd his wo-fraught eye,
When the dear destined child he view'd,
His zeal had doom'd to die.
He look'd the wo he could not speak,
And on the pale corse prest
His wan, discolour'd, dying cheek
And silent, sunk to rest.
Then Birtha faintly rais'd her eye,
Which long had ceased to stream,
On Eldred fix'd, with many a sigh,
Its dim departing beam.
The cold, cold dews of hastening death,
Upon her pale face stand;
And quick and short her failing breath,
And tremulous her hand.
The cold, cold dews of hastening death,
The dim departing eye,
The quivering hand, the short quick breath
He view'd -- and did not die.
He saw her spirit mount in air,
Its kindred skies to seek!
His heart its anguish could not bear,
And yet it would not break.
The mournful Muse forbears to tell
How wretched Eldred died;
She draws the Grecian Painter's veil,
The vast distress to hide.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Yet Heaven's decrees are just and wise,
And man is born to bear:
Joy is the portion of the skies,
Beneath them all is care.
Yet blame not Heaven; 'tis erring man,
Who mars his own best joys;
Whose passions uncontroll'd, the plan
Of promised bliss destroys.
Had Eldred paused, before the blow,
His hand had never err'd;
What guilt, what complicated wo,
His soul had then been spared!
The deadliest wounds with which we bleed,
Our crimes inflict alone;
Man's mercies from God's hand proceed,
His miseries from his own.
Florio : A Tale, For Fine Gentleman And Fine Ladies. In Two Parts
Florio, a youth of gay renown,
Who figured much about the town,
Had pass'd, with general approbation,
The modish forms of education;
Knew what was proper to be known,
The establish'd jargon of Bon-ton;
Had learnt, with very moderate reading,
The whole new system of good breeding:
He studied to be cold and rude,
Though native feeling would intrude.
Unlucky sense and sympathy,
Spoilt the vain thing he strove to be:
For Florio was not meant by nature,
A silly, or a worthless creature:
He had a heart disposed to feel,
Had life and spirit, taste and zeal;
Was handsome, generous; but, by fate,
Predestined to a large estate!
Hence, all that graced his opening days,
Was marr'd by pleasure, spoilt by praise.
The Destiny, who wove the thread
Of Florio's being, sigh'd, and said,
'Poor Youth! this cumbrous twist of gold,
More than my shuttle well can hold,
For which thy anxious fathers toil'd,
Thy white and even thread has spoil'd:
'Tis this shall warp thy pliant youth
From sense, simplicity, and truth,
Thy erring sire, by wealth misled,
Shall scatter pleasures round thy head,
When wholesome discipline's control,
Should brace the sinews of thy soul;
Coldly thou'lt toil for learning's prize,
For why should he that's rich be wise?'
The gracious Master of womankind,
Who knew us vain, corrupt, and blind,
In mercy, tho' in anger said,
That man should earn his daily bread;
His lot inaction renders worse,
While labour mitigates the curse.
The idle, life's worst burthens bear,
And meet, what toil escapes, despair.
Forgive, nor lay the fault on me,
This mixture of mythology;
The Muse of Paradise has deign'd
With truth to mingle fables feign'd;
And tho' the Bard who would attain
The glories, Milton, of thy strain,
Will never reach thy style or thoughts,
He may be like thee -- in thy faults.
Exhausted Florio, at the age
When youth should rush on glory's stage;
When life should open fresh and new,
And ardent hope her schemes pursue;
Of youthful gayety bereft,
Had scarce an unbroach'd pleasure left;
He found already to his cost,
The shining gloss of life was lost;
And pleasure was so coy a prude,
She fled the more, the more pursued;
Or if, o'ertaken and caress'd
He loath'd and left her when possess'd.
But Florio knew the World; that science
Sets sense and learning at defiance;
He thought the World to him was known,
Whereas he only knew the Town
In men this blunder still you find,
All think their little set -- Mankind.
Tho' high renown the youth had gain'd,
No flagrant crimes his life had stain'd;
No tool of falsehood, slave of passion,
But spoilt by Custom and the Fashion.
Tho' known among a certain set;
He did not like to be in debt!
He shudder'd at the dicer's box,
Nor thought it very heterodox,
That tradesmen should be sometimes paid,
And bargains kept as well as made.
His growing credit, as a sinner,
Was that he liked to spoil a dinner;
Made pleasure and made business wait,
And still, by system, came too late;
Yet 'twas a hopeful indication,
On which to be found a reputation:
Small habits, well pursued betimes,
May reach the dignity of crimes.
And who a juster claim preferr'd,
Than one who always broke his word?
His mornings were not spent in vice,
'Twas lounging, sauntering, eating ice:
Walk up and down St. James's-Street,
Full fifty times the youth you'd meet:
He hated cards, detested drinking,
But stroll'd to shun the toil of thinking;
'Twas doing nothing was his curse,
Is there a vice can plague us worse?
The wretch who digs the mine for bread,
Or ploughs, that others may be fed,
Feels less fatigue than that decreed
To him who cannot think, or read.
Not all the peril of temptations,
Not all the conflict of the passions,
Can quench the spark of glory's flame,
Or quite extinguish Virtue's name;
Like the true taste for genuine saunter,
Like sloth, the soul's most dire enchanter.
The active fires that stir the breast,
Her poppies charm to fatal rest;
They rule in short and quick succession,
But Sloth keeps one long, fast possession;
Ambition's reign is quickly clos'd,
Th' usurper Rage is soon depos'd;
Intemperance, where there's no temptation,
Makes voluntary abdication;
Of other tyrants short the strife,
But Indolence is king for life.
The despot twists with soft control,
Eternal fetters round the soul.
Yet tho' so polish'd Florio's breeding,
Think him not ignorant of reading;
For he to keep him from the vapours,
Subscrib'd at Hookham's, saw the papers;
Was deep in poet's-corner wit;
Knew what was in Italics writ;
Explain'd fictitious names at will,
Each gutted syllable could fill;
There oft, in paragraphs, his name
Gave symptom sweet of growing fame;
Tho' yet they only serv'd to hint
That Florio lov'd to see in print,
His ample buckles' alter'd shape,
His buttons chang'd, his varying cape.
And many a standard phrase was his
Might rival bore, or banish quiz;
The man who grasps this young renown,
And early starts for fashion's crown;
In time that glorious prize may wield.
Which clubs, and ev'n Newmarket yield.
He studied while he dress'd, for true 'tis,
He read Compendiums, Extracts, Beauties,
Abreges, Dictionaires, Recueils,
Mercures, Journaux, Extraits, and Feuilles:
No work in substance now is follow'd,
The Chemic Extract only 's swallow'd.
He lik'd those literary cooks
Who skim the cream of others' books;
And ruin half an Author's graces,
By plucking bon-mots from their places;
He wonders any writing sells,
But these spic'd mushrooms and morells;
His palate these alone can touch,
Where every mouthful is bonne bouche.
Some phrase, that with the public took,
Was all he read of any book;
For plan, detail, arrangement, system,
He let them go, and never miss'd 'em.
Of each new Play he saw a part,
And all the Anas had my heart;
He found whatever they produce
Is fit for conversation-use;
Learning so ready for display,
A page would prime him for a day:
They cram not with a mass of knowledge,
Which smacks of toil, and smells of college,
Which in the memory useless lies,
Or only makes men -- good and wise.
This might have merit once indeed,
But now for other ends we read.
A friend he had, Bellario hight,
A reasoning, reading, learned wight;
At least, with men of Florio's breeding,
He was a prodigy of reading.
He knew each stale and vapid lie
In tomes of French Philosophy;
And then, we fairly may presume,
From Pyrrho down to David Hume,
'Twere difficult to single out
A man more full of shallow doubt;
He knew the little sceptic prattle,
The sophist's paltry arts of battle;
Talk'd gravely of the Atomic dance,
Of moral fitness, fate, and chance;
Admired the system of Lucretius,
Whose matchless verse makes nonsense specious!
To this his doctrine owes its merits,
Like poisonous reptiles kept in spirits.
Though sceptics dull his schemes rehearse,
Who have not souls to taste his verse.
Bellario founds his reputation
On dry, stale jokes, about Creation;
Would prove, by argument circuitous,
The combination was fortuitous.
Swore Priests' whole trade was to deceive,
And prey on bigots who believe;
With bitter ridicule could jeer,
And had the true free-thinking jeer.
Grave arguments he had in store,
Which have been answer'd o'er and o'er;
And used, with wondrous penetration
The trite old trick of false citation;
From ancient Authors fond to quote
A phrase or thought they never wrote.
Upon his highest shelf there stood
The Classics neatly cut in wood;
And in a more commodious station,
You'd found them in a French translation:
He swears, 'tis from the Greek he quotes,
But keeps the French -- just for the notes.
He worshipp'd certain modern names
Who History write in Epigrams,
In pointed periods, shining phrases,
And all the small poetic daisies,
Which crowd the pert and florid style,
Where fact is dropt to raise a smile;
Where notes indecent or profane
Serve to raise doubts, but not explain:
Where all is spangle, glitter, show,
And truth is overlaid below:
Arts scorn'd by History's sober muse
Arts Clarendon disdain'd to use.
Whate'er the subject of debate,
'Twas larded still with sceptic prate;
Begin whatever theme you will,
In unbelief he lands you still;
The good, with shame I speak it, feel
Not half this proselyting zeal;
While cold their Master's cause to own
Content to go to Heaven alone;
The infidel in liberal trim,
Would carry all the World with him;
Would treat his wife, friend, kindred, nation,
Mankind -- with what? -- Annihilation.
Though Florio did not quite believe him,
He thought, why should a friend deceive him?
Much as he prized Bellario's wit,
He liked not all his notions yet;
He thought him charming, pleasant, odd,
But hoped one might believe in God;
Yet such the charms that graced his tongue,
He knew not how to think him wrong.
Though Florio tried a thousand ways,
Truth's insuppressive torch would blaze;
Where once her flame was burnt, I doubt
If ever it go fairly out.
Yet, under great Bellario's care,
He gain'd each day a better air;
With many a leader of renown,
Deep in the learning of the Town,
Who never other science knew,
But what from that prime source they drew;
Pleased to the Opera, they repair,
To get recruits of knowledge there,
Mythology gain at a glance,
And learn the Classics from a dance:
In Ovid they ne'er cared a groat,
How fared the venturous Argonaut;
Yet charm'd they see Medea rise
On fiery dragons to the skies.
For Dido, though they never knew her
As Maro's magic pencil drew her,
Faithful and fond, and broken-hearted,
Her pious vagabond departed;
Yet, for Didone how they roar!
And Cara! Cara! loud encore.
One taste, Bellario's soul possess'd,
The master passion of his breast;
It was not one of those frail joys,
Which, by possession, quickly cloys;
This bliss was solid, constant, true;
'Twas action, and 'twas passion too;
For though the business might be finish'd,
The pleasure scarcely was diminish'd;
Did he ride out, or sit, or walk?
He lived it o'er again in talk;
Prolong'd the fugitive delight,
In words by day, in dreams by night.
'Twas eating did his soul allure,
A deep, keen, modish Epicure;
Though once his name, as I opine,
Meant not such men as live to dine.
Yet all our modern Wits assure us,
That's all they know of Epicurus:
They fondly fancy, that repletion
Was the chief good of that famed Grecian.
To live in gardens full of flowers,
And talk philosophy in bowers.
Or, in the covert of a wood,
To descant on the sovereign good,
Might be the notion of their founder,
But they have notions vastly sounder;
Their bolder standards they erect,
To form a more substantial sect;
Old Epicurus would not own 'em,
A dinner is their summum bonum.
More like you'll find such sparks as these
To Epicurus' deities;
Like them they mix not with affairs,
But loll and laugh at human cares,
To beaux this difference is allow'd,
They choose a sofa for a cloud;
Bellario had embraced with glee,
This practical philosophy.
Young Florio's father had a friend,
And ne'er did Heaven a worthier send;
A cheerful knight of good estate,
Whose heart was warm, whose bounty great.
Where'er his wide protection spread,
The sick were cheer'd the hungry fed;
Resentment vanish'd where he came,
And law-suits fled before his name:
The old esteem'd, the young caress'd him,
And all the smiling village bless'd him.
Within his castle's Gothic gate,
Sate plenty, and old-fashion'd State:
Scarce Prudence could his bounties stint;
Such characters are out of print;
O! would kind Heaven, the age to mend,
A new edition of them send,
Before our tottering Castles fall,
And swarming Nabobs seize on all!
Some little whims he had, 'tis true,
But they were harmless, and were few;
He dreaded nought like alteration,
Improvement still was innovation;
He said, when any change was brewing,
Reform was a fine name for ruin;
This maxim firmly he would hold,
'That always must be good that's old.'
The acts which dignify the day
He thought portended its decay:
And fear'd 'twould show a falling State,
If Sternhold should give way to Tate:
The Church's downfal he predicted,
Were modern tunes not interdicted;
He scorn'd them all, but crown'd with palm
The man who set the hundredth Psalm.
Of moderate parts, of moderate wit,
But parts for life and business fit,
Whate'er the theme, he did not fail,
At Popery and the French to rail;
And started wide, with fond digression,
To praise the Protestant succession;
Of Blackstone he had read a part,
And all Burns' Justice knew by heart.
He thought man's life too short to waste
On idle things call'd wit and taste.
In books that he might lose no minute,
His very verse had business in it.
He ne'er had heard of Bards of Greece,
But had read half of Dyer's Fleece.
His sphere of knowledge still was wider,
His Georgics, 'Philips upon Cyder;'
He could produce in proper place,
Three apt quotations from the 'Chace,'
Ad in the hall from day to day,
Old Isaac Walton's Angler lay.
This good and venerable knight,
One daughter had, his soul's delight;
For face, no mortal could resist her,
She smiled like Hebe's youngest sister;
Her life, as lovely as her face,
Each duty mark'd with every grace;
Her native sense improved by reading,
Her native sweetness by good-breeding:
She had perused each choicer sage
Of ancient date, or later age;
But her best knowledge still she found
On sacred, not on Classic ground;
'Twas thence her noblest stores she drew,
And well she practised what she knew.
Let by Simplicity divine,
She pleased, and never tried to shine;
She gave to chance each unschool'd feature,
And left her cause to sense and Nature.
The Sire of Florio, ere he died,
Decreed fair Celia Florio's bride;
Bade him his latest wish attend,
And win the daughter of his friend;
When the last rites to him were paid,
He charged him to address the maid;
Sir Gilbert's heart the wish approved,
For much his ancient friend he loved.
Six rapid months like lightning fly,
And the last gray was now thrown by;
Florio, reluctant, calls to mind
The orders of a Sire too kind;
Yet go he must; he must fulfil
The hard conditions of the will:
Go, at that precious hour of prime,
Go, at that swarming, bustling time,
When the full town to joy invites,
Distracted with its own delights;
When pleasure pours from her full urn,
Each tiresome transport in its turn;
When Dissipation's altars blaze,
And men run mad a thousand ways;
When, on his tablets, there were found
Engagements for full six weeks round;
Must leave, with grief and desperation,
Three packs of cards of invitation,
And all the ravishing delights
Of slavish days, and sleepless nights.
Ye nymphs, whom tyrant Power drags down,
With hand despotic, from the town,
When Almack's doors wide open stand,
And the gay partner's offer'd hand
Courts to the dance; when steaming rooms
Fetid with unguents and perfumes,
Invite you to the mobs polite
Of three sure balls in one short night;
You may conceive what Florio felt,
And sympathetically melt;
You may conceive the hardship dire,
To lawns and woodlands to retire,
When freed from Winter's icy chain,
Glad Nature revels on the plain;
When blushing Spring leads on the hours,
And May is prodigal of flowers;
When Passion warbles through the grove,
And all is song, and all is love;
When new-born breezes sweep the vale,
And health adds fragrance to the vale.
Six boys, unconscious of their weight,
Soon lodged him at Sir Gilbert's gate;
His trusty Swiss, who flew still faster,
Announced the arrival of his Master:
So loud the rap which shook the door,
The hall re-echoed to the roar;
Since first the castle walls were rear'd,
So dread a sound had ne'er been heard;
The din alarm'd the frighten'd deer
Who in a corner slunk for fear,
The Butler thought 'twas beat of drum,
The Steward swore the French were come;
It ting'd with red Poor Florio's face,
He thought himself in Portland-Place.
Short joy! he enter'd, and the gate
Closed on him with its ponderous weight.
Who, like Sir Gilbert, now was blest?
With rapture he embraced his guest.
Fair Celia blush'd, and Florio utter'd
Half sentences, or rather mutter'd
Disjointed words -- as, 'honour! pleasure!
'Kind! -- vastly good, Ma'am! -- beyond measure:'
Tame expletives, with which dull Fashion
Fills vacancies of sense and passion.
Yet, though disciple of cold Art,
Florio soon found he had a heart,
He saw; and but that Admiration
Had been too active, too like passion;
Or had he been to Ton less true,
Cupid had shot him through and through;
But, vainly speeds the surest dart,
Where Fashion's mail defends the heart
The shaft her cold repulsion found,
And fell, without the power to wound;
For fashion, with a mother's joy,
Dipp'd in her lake the darling boy;
That lake whose chilling waves impart
The gift to freeze the warmest heart:
Yet guarded as he was with phlegm,
With such delight he eyed the dame,
Found his cold heart so melt before her,
And felt so ready to adore her;
That fashion fear'd her son would yield,
And flew to snatch him from the field;
O'er his touch'd heart her AEgis threw,
The Goddess Mother straight he knew;
Her power he own'd, she saw and smiled,
And claim'd the triumph of her child.
Celia a table still supplied,
Which modish luxury might deride;
A modest feast the hope conveys,
The Master eats on other days;
While gorgeous banquets oft bespeak
A hungry household all the week;
And decent elegance was there,
And Plenty with her liberal air.
But vulgar Plenty gave offence,
And shock'd poor Florio's nicer sense.
Patient he yielded to his fate,
When good Sir Gilbert piled his plate;
He bow'd submissive, made no question,
But that 'twas sovereign for digestion;
But, such was his unlucky whim,
Plain meats would ne'er agree with him;
Yet feign'd to praise the gothic treat,
And, if he ate not, seem'd to eat.
In sleep sad Florio hoped to find,
The pleasures he had left behind,
He dreamt, and, lo! to charm his eyes,
The form of Weltje seem'd to rise;
The gracious vision waved his wand,
And banquets sprung to Florio's hand;
Th' imaginary savours rose
In tempting odours to his nose.
A bell, not Fancy's false creation,
Gives joyful 'note of preparation;'
He starts, he wakes, the bell he hears;
Alas! it rings for morning prayers.
But how to spend next tedious morning,
Was past his possible discerning;
Unable to amuse himself,
He tumbled every well-ranged shelf;
This book was dull, and that was wise,
And this was monstrous as to size.
With eager joy he gobbled down
Whate'er related to the town;
Whate'er look'd small, whate'er look'd new,
Half-bound, or stitch'd in pink or blue;
Old play-bills, Astley's last year's feats,
And Opera disputes in sheets,
As these dear records meet his eyes,
Ghosts of departed pleasures rise;
He lays the book upon the shelf,
And leaves the day to spend itself.
To cheat the tedious hours, whene'er
He sallied forth to take the air,
His sympathetic ponies knew
Which way their Lord's affections drew;
And, every time he went abroad,
Sought of themselves the London road:
He ask'd each mile of every clown,
How far they reckon'd it to town?
And still his nimble spirits rise,
Whilst thither he directs his eyes;
But when his coursers back he guides,
The sinking Mercury quick subsides.
A week he had resolved to stay,
But found a week in every day;
Yet if the gentle maid was by,
Faint pleasure glisten'd in his eye;
Whene'er she spoke, attention hung
On the mild accents of her tongue;
But when no more the room she graced,
The slight impression was effaced.
Whene'er Sir Gilbert's sporting guests
Retail'd old news, or older jests,
Florio, quite calm, and debonair,
Still humm'd a new Italian air;
He did not even feign to hear them,
But plainly show'd he could not bear them.
Celia perceived his secret thoughts,
But liked the youth with all his thoughts,
Yet 'twas unlike, she softly said,
The tales of love which she had read,
Where heroes vow'd, and sigh'd, and knelt;
Nay, 'twas unlike the love she felt;
Though when her Sire the youth would blame,
She clear'd his but suspected fame,
Ventured to hope, with faultering tongue,
'He would reform, he was but young;'
Confess'd his manners wrong in part,
'But then -- he had so good a heart!'
She sunk each fault, each virtue raised,
And still, where truth permitted, praised;
His interest farther to secure,
She praised his bounty to the poor;
For, votary as his he was of art,
He had a kind and melting heart;
Though, with a smile, he used to own
He had not time to feel in town;
Not that he blush'd to show compassion,--
It chanced that year to be the fashion.
And equally the modish tribe,
To Clubs or Hospitals subscribe.
At length, to wake Ambition's flame,
A letter from Bellario came;
Announcing the supreme delight,
Preparing for a certain night,
By Flavia fair, return'd from France,
Who took him captive at a glance:
The invitations all were given!
Five hundred cards! -- a little heaven!--
A dinner first -- he would present him,
And nothing, nothing must prevent him.
Whosever wish'd a noble air,
Must gain it by an entree there;
Of all the glories of the town,
'Twas the first passport to renown.
Then ridiculed his rural schemes,
His pastoral shades, and purling streams;
Sneer'd at his present brilliant life,
His polish'd Sire, and high-bred Wife!
Thus doubly to inflame, he tried,
His curiosity, and pride.
The youth, with agitated heart,
Prepared directly to depart;
But, bound in honour to obey
His father, at no distant day,
He promised soon to hasten down,
Though business call'd him now to town;
Then faintly hints a cold proposal--
But leaves it to the Knight's disposal--
Stammer'd half words of love and duty,
And mutter'd much of -- 'worth and beauty;'
Something of 'passion' then he dropt,
'And hoped his ardour'-- Here he stopt;
For some remains of native truth
Flush'd in his face, and check'd the youth;
Yet still the ambiguous suffusion,
Might pass for artless love's confusion.
The doating father thought 'twas strange,
But fancied men like times might change;
Yet own'd, nor could he check his tongue,
It was not so when he was young.
That was the reign of Love, he swore,
Whose halcyon days are now no more.
In that bless'd age, for honour famed,
Love paid the homage Virtue claim'd;
Not that insipid, daudling Cupid,
With heart so hard, and air so stupid,
Who coldly courts the charms which lie
In Affectation's half closed eye.
Love then was honest, genuine passion,
And manly gallantry the fashion;
Yet pure as ardent was the flame
Excited by the beauteous dame;
Hope should subsist on slender bounties,
And Suitors gallop'd o'er two counties,
The Ball's fair partner to behold,
Or humbly hope -- she caught no cold.
But mark how much Love's annals mend!
Should Beauty's Goddess now descend;
On some adventure should she come,
To grace a modish drawing-room;
Spite of her form and heavenly air,
What Beau would hand her to her chair?
Vain were that grace, which, to her son,
Disclosed what Beauty had not done:
Vain were that motion which betray'd,
The goddess was no earth-born maid;
If noxious Faro's baleful spright,
With rites infernal ruled the night,
The group absorb'd in play and pelf,
Venus might call her doves herself.
As Florio pass'd the Castle-gate,
His spirits seem to lose their weight;
He feasts his lately vacant mind
With all the joys he hopes to find;
Yet on whate'er his fancy broods,
The form of Celia still intrudes;
Whatever other sounds he hears,
The voice of Celia fills his ears;
Howe'er his random thoughts might fly,
Nor was the obstrusive vision o'er,
Even when he reach'd Bellario's door;
The friends embraced with warm delight,
And Flavia's praises crown'd the night.
Soon dawn'd the day which was to show
Glad Florio what was heaven below.
Flavia, admired wherever known,
The acknowledged Empress of bon-ton;
O'er Fashion's wayward kingdom reigns,
And holds Bellario in her chains:
Various her powers; a wit by day,
By night unmatch'd for lucky play.
The flattering, fashionable tribe,
Each stray bon-mot to her ascribe;
And all her 'little senate' own
She made the best Charade in town;
Her midnight suppers always drew
Whate'er was fine, whate'er was new.
There oft the brightest fame you'd see
The victim of a repartee;
For slander's Priestess still supplies
The Spotless for the sacrifice.
None at her polish'd table sit,
But who aspired to modish wit;
The persiflage, th' unfeeling jeer,
The civil, grave, ironic sneer;
The laugh, which more than censure wounds,
Which, more than argument, confounds.
There the fair deed, which would engage
The wonder of a nobler age,
With unbelieving scorn is heard,
Or still to selfish ends referr'd;
If in the deed no flaw they find,
To some base motive 'tis assign'd;
When Malice longs to throw her dart,
But finds no vulnerable part,
Because the Virtues all defend,
At every pass, their guarded friend;
Then by one slight insinuation,
One scarce perceived exaggeration;
Sly Ridicule, with half a word,
Can fix her stigma of -- absurd;
Nor care, nor skill, extracts the dart,
With which she stabs the feeling heart;
Her cruel caustics inly pain,
And scars indelible remain.
Supreme in wit, supreme in play,
Despotic Flavia all obey;
Small were her natural charms of face,
Till heighten'd with each foreign grace;
But what subdued Bellario's soul
Beyond Philosophy's control,
Her constant table was as fine
As if ten Rajahs were to dine;
She every day produced such fish as
Would gratify the nice Apicius,
Or realize what we think fabulous
I' th' bill of fare of Heliogabalus.
Yet still the natural taste was cheated,
'Twas deluged in some sauce one hated.
'Twas sauce! 'twas sweetmeat! 'twas confection!
All poignancy! and all perfection!
Rich Entrements, whose name none knows,
Ragouts, Tourtes, Tendrons, Fricandeaux,
Might picque the sensuality
O' th' hogs of Epicurus' sty;
Yet all so foreign, and so fine,
'Twas easier to admire, than dine.
O! if the Muse had power to tell
Each dish, no Muse has power to spell!
Great Goddess of the French Cuisine!
Not with unhallow'd hands I mean
To violate thy secret shade,
Which eyes profane shall ne'er invade;
No! of thy dignity supreme,
I, with 'mysterious reverence,' deem!
Or, should I venture with rash hand,
The vulgar would not understand;
None but th' initiated know
The raptures keen thy rites bestow.
Thus much to tell I lawful deem,
Thy works are never what they seem;
Thy will this general law has past,
That nothing of itself shall taste.
Thy word this high decree enacted,
'In all be Nature counteracted!'
Conceive, who can, the perfect bliss,
For 'tis not given to all to guess,
The rapturous joy Bellario found,
When thus his every wish was crown'd.
To Florio, as the best of friends,
One dish he secretly commends;
Then hinted, as a special favour,
What gave it that delicious flavour;
A mystery he so much reveres,
He never to unhallow'd ears
Would trust it, but to him would show
How far true Friendship's power could go.
Florio, though dazzled by the fete,
With far inferior transport eat;
A little warp his taste had gain'd,
Which, unperceived, till now, remain'd;
For, from himself he would conceal
The change he did not choose to feel;
He almost wish'd he could be picking
An unsophisticated chicken;
And when he cast his eyes around,
And not one simple morsel found,
O give me, was his secret wish,
My charming Celia's plainest dish!
Thus Nature, struggling for her rights,
Lets in some little, casual lights,
And Love combines to war with Fashion,
Though yet 'twas but an infant passion;
The practised Flavia tried each art
Of sly attack to steal his heart;
Her forced civilities oppress,
Fatiguing through mere graciousness;
While many a gay, intrepid dame,
By bold assault essay'd the same.
Fill'd with disgust, he strove to fly
The artful glance and fearless eye;
Their jargon now no more he praises,
Nor echoes back their flimsy phrases.
He felt not Celia's powers of face,
Till weigh'd against bon-ton grimage;
Nor half her genuine beauties tasted,
Till with factitious charms contrasted.
Th' industrious harpies hover'd round,
Nor peace nor liberty he found;
By force and flattery circumvented,
To play, reluctant, he consented;
Each Dame her power of pleasing tried,
To fix the novice by her side;
Of Pigeons, he the very best,
Who wealth, with ignorance, possest:
But Flavia's rhetoric best persuades,
That Sibyl leads him to the shades;
The fatal leaves around the room,
Prophetic, tell th' approaching doom!
Yet, different from the tale of old,
It was the fair one pluck'd the gold;
Her arts the ponderous purse exhaust;
A thousand borrow'd, staked, and lost,
Wakes him to sense and shame again,
Nor force, nor fraud, could more obtain.
He rose, indignant, to attend
The summons of a ruin'd friend,
Whom keen Bellario's arts betray
To all the depths of desperate play;
A thoughtless youth who near him sate,
Was plunder'd of his whole estate;
Toll late he call'd for Florio's aid,
A beggar in a moment made.
And now, with horror, Florio views
The wild confusion which ensues;
Marks how the Dames, of late so fair,
Assume a fierce demoniac air;
Marks where th' infernal furies hold
Their orgies foul o'er heaps of gold;
And spirits dire appear to rise,
Guarding the horrid mysteries;
Marks how deforming passions tear
The bosoms of the losing fair;
How looks convulsed, and haggar'd faces
Chase the scared Loves and frighten'd Graces!
Touch'd with disdain, with horror fired,
Celia! he murmur'd, and retired.
That night no sleep his eyelids prest,
He thought; and thought 's a foe to rest:
Or if, by chance, he closed his eyes,
What hideous spectres round him rise!
Distemper'd Fancy wildly brings
The broken images of things;
His ruin'd friend, with eye-ball fixt,
Swallowing the draught Despair had mixt;
The frantic wife beside him stands,
With bursting heart, and wringing hands;
And every horror dreams bestow,
Of pining Want, or raving Woe.
Next morn, to check, or cherish thought,
His library's retreat he sought;
He view'd each book, with cold regard,
Of serious sage, or lighter bard;
At length among the motley band,
The Idler fell into his hand;
Th' alluring title caught his eye,
It promised cold inanity:
He read with rapture and surprise,
And found 'twas pleasant, though 'twas wise;
His tea grew cold, whilst he, unheeding,
Pursued this reasonable reading.
He wonder'd at the change he found,
Th' elastic spirits nimbly bound;
Time slipt, without disgust, away,
While many a card unanswer'd lay;
Three papers, reeking from the press,
Three Pamphlets thin, in azure dress,
Ephemeral literature well known,
The lie and scandal of the town;
Poison of letters, morals, time!
Assassin of our day's fresh prime!
These, on his table, half the day,
Unthought of, and neglected lay.
Florio had now full three hours read,
Hours which he used to waste in bed;
His pulse beat Virtue's vigorous tone,
The reason to himself unknown;
And if he stopp'd to seek the cause,
Fair Celia's image fill'd the pause.
And now, announced, Bellario's name
Had almost quench'd the new-born flame:
'Admit him,' was the ready word
Which first escaped him not unheard;
When sudden to his mental sight,
Uprose the horrors of last night;
His plunder'd friend before him stands,
And -- 'not at home,' his firm commands.
He felt the conquest as a joy
The first temptation would destroy.
He knew next day that Hymen's hand,
Would tack the slight and slippery band,
Which, in loose bondage, would ensnare
Bellario bright and Flavia fair.
Oft had he promised to attend
The Nuptials of his happy friend:
To go -- to stay -- alike he fears;
At length a bolder flight he dares;
To Celia he resolves to fly,
And catch fresh virtue from her eye;
Though three full weeks did yet remain,
Ere he engaged to come again.
This plan he tremblingly embraced,
With doubtful zeal, and uttering haste;
Nor ventured he one card to read,
Which might his virtuous scheme impede;
Each note, he dreaded might betray him,
And shudder'd lest each rap should stay him.
Behold him seated in his chaise:
With face that self-distrust betrays;
He hazards not a single glance,
Nor through the glasses peeps by chance,
Lest some old friend, or haunt well known,
Should melt his resolution down.
Fast as his foaming coursers fly,
Hyde-Park attracts his half-raised eye;
He steals one fearful, conscious look,
Then drops his eye upon his book.
Triumphant he persists to go;
But gives one sigh to Rotten Row.
Long as he view'd Augusta's towers
The sight relax'd his thinking powers;
In vain he better plans revolves,
While the soft scene his soul dissolves;
The towers once lost, his view he bends,
Where the receding smoke ascends;
But when nor smoke, nor towers arise,
To charm his heart or cheat his eyes;
When once he got entirely clear
From this enfeebling atmosphere;
His mind was braced, his spirits light,
His heart was gay, his humour bright;
Thus feeling, at his inmost soul,
The sweet reward of self-control.
Impatient now, and all alive,
He thought he never should arrive;
At last he spies Sir Gilbert's trees;
Now the near battlements he sees;
The gates he enter'd with delight,
And, self-announced, embraced the knight:
The youth his joy unfeign'd express'd,
The knight with joy received his guest,
And own'd, with no unwilling tongue,
'Twas done like men when he was young.
Three weeks subducted, went to prove,
A feeling like old-fashion'd love.
For Celia, not a word she said,
But blush'd, 'celestial, rosy red!'
Her modest charms transport the youth,
Who promised everlasting truth.
Celia, in honour of the day,
Unusual splendour would display:
Such was the charm her sweetness gave,
He thought her Wedgwood had been seve;
Her taste diffused a gracious air,
And chaste Simplicity was there,
Whose secret power, though silent, great is,
The loveliest of the sweet Penates.
Florio, now present to the scene,
With spirits light and gracious mien,
Sir Gilbert's port politely praises,
And carefully avoids French phrases;
Endures the daily dissertation
On Land-tax, and a ruin'd Nation;
Listens to many a tedious tale
Of poachers, who deserved a jail;
Heard of all the business of the Quorum,
Each cause and crime produced before 'em;
Heard them abuse with complaisance
The language, wines, and wits of France;
Nor did he hum a single air,
While good Sir Gilbert fill'd his chair.
Abroad, with joy and grateful pride
He walks, with Celia by his side:
A thousand cheerful thoughts arise,
Each rural scene enchants his eyes:
With transport he begins to look
On Nature's all-instructive book;
No objects now seem mean, or low,
Which point to Him from whom they flow.
A berry or a bud excites
A chain of reasoning which delights,
Which, spite of sceptic ebullitions
Proves Atheists not the best Logicians.
A tree, a brook, a blade of grass,
Suggests reflections as they pass,
Till Florio, with a sigh, confest
The simplest pleasures are the best!
Bellario's systems sink in air,
He feels the perfect, good, and fair.
As pious Celia raised the theme
To holy faith and love supreme;
Enlighten'd Florio learn'd to trace
In Nature's God the God of Grace.
In wisdom as the convert grew,
The hours on rapid pinions flew;
When call'd to dress, that Titus wore
A wig the alter'd Florio swore;
Or else, in estimating time,
He ne'er had mark'd it as a crime,
That he had lost but one day's blessing,
When we so many lose, by dressing.
The rest, suffice it now to say,
Was finish'd in the usual way.
Cupid impatient for his hour,
Reviled slow Themis' tedious power,
Whose parchment legends, signing, sealing,
Are cruel forms for Love to deal in.
At length to Florio's eager eyes,
Behold the day of bliss arise!
The golden sun illumes the globe,
The burning torch, the saffron robe,
Jus as of old, glad Hymen wears,
And Cupid as of old, appears
In Hymen's train; so strange the case,
They hardly knew each other's face;
Yet both confess'd with glowing heart,
They never were design'd to part;
Quoth Hymen, Sure you're strangely slighted,
At weddings not to be invited;
The reason's clear enough, quoth Cupid,
My company is thought but stupid,
Where Plutus is the favourite guest,
For he and I scarce speak at best.
The self-same sun which joins the twain
Sees Flavia sever'd from her swain:
Bellario sues for a divorce,
And both pursue their separate course.
Oh wedded love; Thy bliss how rare!
And yet the ill-assorted pair,
The pair who choose at Fashion's voice,
Or drag the chain of venal choice,
Have little cause to curse the state;
Who make, should never blame their fate;
Such flimsy ties, say where's the wonder,
If Doctors Commons snap asunder.
In either case, 'tis still the wife,
Gives cast and colour to the life.
Florio escaped from Fashion's school,
His heart and conduct learns to rule;
Conscience his useful life approves;
He serves his God, his country loves;
Reveres her laws, protects her rights,
And, for her interests, pleads or fights:
Reviews with scorn his former life,
And, for his rescue, thanks his Wife.
Daniel. A Sacred Drama
Persons of the Drama.
Darius, King of Media and Babylon.
Pharnaces, Courtier, Enemy to Daniel.
Araspes, A Young Median Lord, Friend and Convert to Daniel
SCENE -- The City of Babylon.
The Subject is taken from the Sixth Chapter of the Prophet Daniel.
Yes! -- I have noted, with a jealous eye,
The pow'r of this new fav'rite! Daniel reigns,
And not Darius! Daniel guides the springs
Which move this mighty empire! High he sits,
Supreme in favour both with prince and people,
Where is the spirit of our Median lords,
Tamely to crouch and bend the supple knee
To this new god? By Mithras, 'tis too much!
Shall great Arbaces' race to Daniel bow--
A foreigner, a captive, and a Jew?
Something must be devised, and that right soon,
To shake his credit.
Rather hope to shake
The mountain pine, whose twisting fibres clasp
The earth, deep-rooted. Rather hope to shake
The Scythian Taurus from his central base.
No -- Daniel sits too absolute in pow'r,
Too firm in favour, for the keenest shaft
Of nicely aiming jealousy to reach him.
Rather he sits too high to sit securely.
Yes; he has reach'd that pinnacle of pow'r,
Which closely touches on Depression's verge.
Hast thou then liv'd in courts? hast thou grown gray
Beneath the mask a subtle statesman wears
To hide his secret soul, and dost not know,
That of all fickle Fortune's transient gifts,
Favour in most deceitful? 'Tis a beam,
Which darts uncertain brightness for a moment:
The faint, precarious, sickly shine of power
Given without merit, by caprice withdrawn.
No trifle is so mall as what obtains,
Save that which loses favour: 'tis a breath,
Which hangs upon a smile! A look, a word,
A frown, the air-built tower of fortune shakes,
And down the unsubstantial fabric falls!
Darius, just and clement as he is,
If I mistake not, may be wrought upon
By prudent wiles, by Flattery's pleasant cup,
Administer'd with caution.
But the means!
For Daniel's life (a foe must grant him that)
Is so replete with goodness, so adorn'd
With every virtue, so exactly squared
By Wisdom's nicest rules, 'twill be most hard
To charge him with the shadow of offence.
Pure is his fame as Scythia's mountain snows,
When not a breath pollutes them. O Pharnaces,
I've scann'd the actions of his daily life
With all the industrious malice of a foe;
And nothing meets mine eye but deeds of honour
In office pure; for equitable acts
Renown'd: in justice and impartial truth,
The Grecian Themis is not more severe.
By yon bright sun, thou blazon'st forth his praise,
As if with rapture thou didst read the page
Where these fair deeds are written!
I only meant to show what cause we have
To hate and fear him. I but meant to paint
His popular virtues and eclipsing merit.
Then for devotion, and religious zeal,
Who so renown'd as Daniel? Of his law
Observant in the extreme. Thrice every day,
With prostrate reverence, he adores his God
With superstitious awe his face he turns
Towards his beloved Jerusalem, as if
Some local, partial god might there be found
To hear his supplication. No affair
Of state, no business so importunate,
No pleasure so alluring, no employ
Of such high import, to seduce his zeal
From this observance due!
There, there he falls!
Enough, my friend! his piety destroys him.
There, at the very footstool of his God,
Where he implores protection, there I'll crush him.
What means Pharnaces?
Ask not what I mean.
The new idea floating in my brain
Has yet receiv'd no form. 'Tis yet too soon
To give it body, circumstance, or breath.
The seeds of mighty deeds are labouring here,
And struggling for a birth! 'Tis near the hour
The king is wont to summon us to council:
Ere that, this big conception of my mind
I'll shape to form and being. Thou, meanwhile,
Convene our chosen friends; for I shall need
The aid of all your counsels, and the weight
Of grave authority.
Who shall be trusted?
With our immediate motive -- none, except
A chosen band of friends, who most repine
At Daniel's exaltation. But the scheme
I mediate must be disclosed to all
Who bear high office; all our Median rulers,
Princes and captains, presidents and lords;
All must assemble. 'Tis a common cause;
All but the young Araspes; he inclines
To Daniel and his God. He sits attent,
With ravish'd ears, to listen to his lore:
With reverence names Jerusalem, and reads
The volume of the law. No more he bows
To hail the golden ruler of the day,
But looks for some great Prophet, greater far,
So they pretend, than Mithras! -- From him, therefore,
Conceal whate'er of injury is devised
'Gainst Daniel. Be it too thy care, to-day,
To keep him from the council.
'Tis well thought.
'Tis now about the hour of Daniel's prayer:
Araspes too is with him: and to-day,
They will not sit in council. Haste we then;
Designs of high importance, once conceived,
Should be accomplish'd. Genius which discerns,
And courage which achieves, despise the aid
Of lingering circumspection. The keen spirit
Seizes the prompt occasion, makes the thought
Start into instant action, and at once
Plans and performs, resolves and executes!
SCENE. -- Daniel's House.
Proceed, proceed, thrice venerable sage,
Enlighten my dark mind with this new ray,
This dawning of salvation. Tell me more
Of this expected King; this Comforter;
This Promise of the nations; this great Hope
Of anxious Israel; this unborn Prophet;
This Wonderful, this mighty Counsellor;
This everlasting Lord, this Prince of Peace;
This Balm of Gilead, which shall heal the wounds
Of universal nature; this Messiah;
Redeemer, Saviour, Sufferer, Victim, God!
Enough to animate our faith we know,
But not enough to soothe the curious pride
Of vain philosophy. Enough to cheer
Our path we see, the rest is hid in clouds:
And Heaven's own shadows rest upon the view.
Go on, blest sage; I could for ever hear,
Untired, thy admonition. Tell me how
I shall obtain the favour of that God
I but begin to know, but fain would serve.
By deep humility, by faith unfeign'd,
By holy deeds, best proof of living faith!
O faith, thou wonder-working principle,
Eternal substance of our present hope,
Thou evidence of things invisible!
What cannot man sustain, sustain'd by thee!
The time would fail, and the bright star of day
Would quench his beams in ocean, and resign
His empire to the silver queen of night:
And she again descend the steep of Heaven,
If I should tell what wonders Faith achieved
By Gideon, Barak, and the holy seer,
Elkanah's son; the pious Gileadite,
Ill-fated Jephthah! He of Zorah, too,
In strength unequall'd; and the shepherd king,
Who vanquish'd Gath's fell giant. Need I tell
Of holy prophets, who, by conquering faith,
Wrought deeds incredible to mortal sense;
Vanquish'd contending kingdoms, quell'd the rage
Of furious pestilence, extinguish'd fire.
Victorious Faith! others by thee endured
Exile, disgrace, captivity, and death?
Some, uncomplaining, bore (nor be it deem'd
The meanest exercise of well-tried Faith)
The cruel mocking, and the bitter taunt,
Foul obloquy, and undeserved reproach;
Despising shame, that death to human pride!
How shall this faith be sought?
By earnest prayer,
Solicit first the wisdom from above:
Wisdom, whose fruits are purity and peace:
Wisdom, that bright intelligence, which sat
Supreme, when his golden compasses
Th' Eternal plann'd the fabric of the world,
Produced his fair idea into light,
And said that all was good; Wisdom, blest beam
The brightness of the everlasting light;
The spotless mirror of the power of God;
The reflex image of the all-perfect mind;
A stream translucent, flowing from the source
Of glory infinite; a cloudless light;
Defilement cannot touch, nor sin pollute
Her unstain'd purity. Not Ophir's gold,
Nor Ethiopia's gems can match her price;
The ruby of the mine is pale before her;
And, like the oil Elisha's bounty bless'd,
She is a treasure which doth grow by use,
And multiply by spending! She contains,
Within herself, the sum of excellence.
If riches are desired, Wisdom is wealth:
If prudence, where shall keen invention find
Artificer more cunning? If renown,
In her right hand it comes! If piety,
Are not her labours virtues? If the lore
Which sage experience teaches, lo! she scans
Antiquity's dark truths; the past she knows,
Anticipates the future; not by arts
Forbidden, of Chaldean sorcerer,
But from the piercing ken of deep foreknowledge,
From her sure science of the human heart
She weighs effects with causes, ends with means;
Resolving all into the sovereign will.
For earthly blessings moderate be thy prayer,
And qualified; for life, for strength, for grace,
Unbounded thy petition.
Now, O prophet!
Explain the secret doubts which rack my mind,
And my weak sense confound. Give my some line,
To sound the depths of Providence! Oh say,
Why the ungodly prosper? why their root
Shoots deep, and their thick branches flourish fair,
Like the green bay tree? why the righteous man,
Like tender plants to shivering winds exposed,
Is stripp'd and torn, in naked virtue bare,
And nipp'd by cruel Sorrow's biting blast?
Explain, O Daniel, these mysterious ways
To my faint apprehension! For as yet
I've much to learn. Fair Truth's immortal sun
Is in itself defective; but obscured
By my weak prejudice, imperfect Faith,
And all the thousand causes which obstruct
The growth of goodness.
Follow me, Araspes.
Within thou shalt peruse the sacred page,
The book of life eternal: that will show thee
The end of the ungodly! thou wilt own
How short their longest period; will perceive
How black a night succeeds their brightest day!
Thy purged eye will see God is not slack,
As men count slackness, to fulfil his word.
Weigh well this book; and may the Spirit of grace,
Who stamp'd the seal of truth on the bless'd page,
Descend into thy soul, remove thy doubts,
Clear the perplex'd, and solve the intricate,
Till faith be lost in sight, and hope in joy!
Darius on his Throne -- Pharnaces, Soranus, Princes, Presidents, and Courtiers.
Hail, king Darius! live for ever!
Welcome, my princes, presidents, and friends;
Now tell me, has your wisdom aught devised
To aid the commonwealth? In our now empire,
Subdued Chaldea, is there aught remains
Your prudence can suggest to serve the state,
To benefit the subject, to redress
And raise the injured, to assist th' oppress'd,
And humble the oppressor? If you know,
Speak freely, princes. Why am I a king,
Except to poise the awful scale of justice
With even hand; to 'minister to want;
To bless the nations with a liberal rule,
Vicegerent of th' eternal Oromasdes?
So absolute thy wisdom, mighty king,
All counsel were superfluous.
No adulation; 'tis the death of virtue:
Who flatters is of all mankind the lowest,
Save he who courts the flattery. Kings are men,
As feeble and as frail as those they rule,
And born, like them, to die. The Lydian monarch,
Unhappy Croesus, lately sat aloft,
Almost above mortality; now see him!
Sunk to the vile condition of a slave,
He swells the train of Cyrus! I, like him,
To misery am obnoxious. See this throne;
This royal throne the great Nebassar fill'd;
Yet hence his pride expelled him. Yonder wall,
The dread terrific writing to the eyes
Of proud Belshazzar shew'd; sad monuments
Of Heaven's tremendous vengeance! And shall I,
Unwarn'd by such examples, cherish pride?
Yet to their dire calamities I owe
The brightest gem that glistens in my crown,
Sage Daniel. If my speech have aught of worth,
Or if my life with aught of good be graced,
To him alone I owe it.
Soranus (aside to Pharnaces.)
Will he run o'er, and dwell upon his praise,
As if we ne'er had heard it; nay, will swell
The nauseous catalogue with many a virtue
His own fond fancy coins.
O great Darius!
Let thine unworthy servants' words find grace
And meet acceptance in his royal ear,
Who subjugates the East. Let not the king
With anger hear my prayer.
I know thou lov'st me; I but meant to chide
Thy flattery, not reprove thee for thy zeal.
Speak boldly, friends, as man should speak to man.
Perish the barbarous maxims of the East,
Which basely would enslave the freeborn mind,
And plunder man of the best gift of Heaven,
His liberty of soul.
Darius, hear me.
Thy princes, and the captains of thy bands,
Thy presidents, the nobles who bear rule
O'er provinces, and I, thine humble creature,
Less than the least in merit, but in love,
In zeal, and duty, equal with the first,
We have devised a measure to confirm
Thy infant empire, to establish firmly
Thy power and new dominion, and secure
Thy growing greatness past the power of change.
I am prepared to hear thee. Speak, Pharnaces.
The wretched Babylonians long have groan'd
Beneath the rule of princes, weak or rash.
The rod of power has swayed alike amiss,
By feeble Merodach and fierce Belshazzar.
One let the slacken'd reins too loosely float
Upon the people's neck, and lost his power
By nerveless relaxation. He who follow'd,
Held with a tyrant's hand the cruel curb,
And check'd the groaning nation till it bled;
On different rocks they met one common ruin.
Their edicts were irresolute, their laws
Were feebly planned, their councils ill advised;
Now so relax'd, and now so overstrain'd,
That the tired people, wearied with the weight
They long have borne, will soon disdain control,
Tread on all rule, and spurn the hand that guides them.
But say what remedy?
That too, O king,
Thy servants have provided. Hitherto
They bear the yoke submissive. But to fix
Thy power and their obedience, to reduce
All hearts to thy dominion, yet avoid
Those deeds of cruelty thy nature starts at,
Thou should'st begin by some imperial act
Of absolute dominion, yet unstain'd
By aught of barbarous. For know, O king!
Wholesome severity, if wisely framed
With sober discipline, procures more reverence
Than all the lenient counsels and weak measures
Of frail irresolution.
To thy request.
Not I, but all request it.
Be thy imperial edict issued straight,
And let a firm decree this day be pass'd
Irrevocable as our Median laws.
Ordain that for the space of thirty days,
No subject in thy realm shall aught request
Of God or man, except of thee, O king!
Wherefore this strange decree?
'Twill fix the crown
With lasting safety on thy royal brow,
And, by a bloodless means, preserve th' obedience
Of this new empire. Think how much 'twill raise
Thy high renown! 'twill make thy name revered,
And popular beyond example. What!
To be as Heaven, dispensing good and ill
For thirty days! With thine own ears to hear
Thy peoples' wants, with thine own liberal hands
To bless thy supliant subjects! O Darius!
Thou'lt seem as bounteous as a giving god,
And reign in every heart in Babylon
As well as Media. What a glorious state
To be the sovereign arbiter of good;
The first efficient cause of happiness;
To scatter mercies with a plenteous hand,
And to be blest thyself in blessing others.
Is this the general wish?
[Princes and Courtiers kneel.]
Of one, of all.
Behold thy princes, presidents, and lords,
Thy counsellors, and captains! See, O king!
[Presenting the edict.]
Behold the instrument our zeal has drawn:
The edict is prepared. We only wait
The confirmation of thy gracious word,
And thy imperial signet.
What penalty awaits the man who dares
Transgress our mandate?
Instant death, O king!
This statute says, 'Should any subject dare
Petition, for the space of thirty days,
Of God or man, except of thee, O king!
He shall be thrown into your dreadful den
Of hungry lions!'
Hold! Methinks a deed
Of such importance should be wisely weigh'd.
We have resolved it, mighty king! with care,
With closest scrutiny. On us devolve
Whatever blame occurs!
Then to your wisdom I commit me, princes,
Behold the royal signet: see, 'tis done.
There Daniel fell! That signet seal'd his doom.
Darius (after a pause.)
Let me reflect. -- Sure I have been too rash!
Why such intemperate haste? but you are wise;
And would not counsel this severe decree
But for the wisest purpose. Yet, methinks,
I might have weigh'd, and in my mind revolved--
This statute, ere, the royal signet stamp'd
It had been past repeal. Sage Daniel too!
My counsellor, my guide, my well-tried friend,
He should have been consulted; he whose wisdom
I still have found oracular.
'Tis as it should be. The decree is past
Irrevocable, as the stedfast law
Of Mede and Persian, which can never change,
Those who observe it live, as is most meet,
High in thy grace; -- who violate it, die.
SCENE.-- Daniel's House.
Oh, holy Daniel! prophet, father, friend,
I come the wretched messenger of ill!
Thy foes complot thy death. For what can mean
This new-made law, exorted from the king
Almost by force? What can it mean, O Daniel,
But to involve thee in the toils they spread
To snare thy precious life?
How! was the king
Consenting to this edict?
His easy nature; took him when his heart
Was soften'd by their blandishments. They wore
The mask of public virtue to deceive him.
Beneath the specious name of general good,
They wrought him to their purposes: no time
Allow'd him to deliberate. One short hour,
Another moment, and his soul had gain'd
Her natural tone of virtue.
That great Power,
Who suffers evil only to produce
Some unseen good, permits that this should be
And, He permitting, I well pleased resign.
Retire, my friend; this is my second hour
Of daily prayer. Anon we'll meet again.
Here, in the open face of that bright sun
Thy fathers worshipp'd, will I offer up,
As is my rule, petition to our God,
For thee, for me, for Solyma, for all!
Oh stay! what mean'st thou! sure thou hast not heard
The edict of the king? I thought, but now,
Thou knew'st its purport. It expressly says,
That no petition henceforth shall be made,
For thirty days, save only to the king;
Nor prayer nor intercession shall be heard
Of any god or man, but of Darius.
And think'st thou then my reverence for the king,
Good as he is, shall tempt me to renounce
My sworn allegiance to the King of kings?
Hast thou commanded legions? strove in battle,
Defied the face of danger, mock'd at death
In all its frightful forms, and tremblest now?
Come, learn of me; I'll teach thee to be bold,
Though sword I never drew! Fear not, Araspes,
The feeble vengeance of a mortal man,
Whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein
Is he to be accounted of? but fear
The awaken'd vengeance of the living Lord;
He who can plunge the everlasting soul
In infinite perdition!
Then, O Daniel!
If thou persist to disobey the edict,
Retire and hide thee from the prying eyes
Of busy malice!
He who is ashamed
To vindicate the honour of his God,
Of him the living Lord shall be ashamed
When He shall judge the tribes.
Yet, oh remember,
Oft I have heard thee say, the secret heart
Is fair Devotion's Temple; there the saint,
Even on that living altar, lights the flame
Of purest sacrifice, which burns unseen,
Not unaccepted. -- I remember too,
When Syrian Naaman, by Elisha's hand,
Was cleansed from foul pollution, and his mind
Enlighten'd by the miracle, confess'd
The Almighty God of Jacob; that he deem'd it
No flagrant violation of his fath
To bend at Rimmon's shrine; nor did the Seer
Forbid the rite external.
Heaven deigns to suit our trials to our strength,
A recent convert, feeble in his faith,
Naaman, perhaps, had sunk beneath the weight
Of so severe a duty. Gracious Heaven
Forbears to bruise the reed, or quench the flax,
When feeble and expiring. But shall I,
Shall Daniel, shall the servant of the Lord,
A veteran in his cause -- long train'd to know
And do his will -- long exercised in wo,
Bred in captivity, and born to suffer;
Shall I from known, from certain duty shrink,
To shun a threaten'd danger? O Araspes;
Shall I, advanced in age, in zeal decline?
Grow careless as I reach my journey's end;
And slacken in my pace, the goal in view?
Perish discretion when it interferes
With duty! Perish the false policy
Of human wit, which would commute our safety
With God's eternal honour! Shall His law
Be set at nought, that I may live at ease?
How would the heathen triumph, should I fall
Through coward fear! How would God's enemies
Yet think a moment.
Where evil may be done, 'tis right to ponder;
Where only suffer'd, know, the shortest pause
Is much too long. Had great Darius paused,
This ill had been prevented. But for me,
Araspes, to deliberate is to sin.
Think of thy power, thy favour with Darius:
Think of thy life's importance to the tribes,
Scarce yet return'd in safety. Live! Oh live!
To serve the cause of God!
God will himself
Sustain his righteous cause. He knows to raise
Fit instruments to serve Him. Know, Araspes,
He does not need our crimes to help his cause;
Nor does his equitable law permit
A sinful act from the preposterous plea
That good may follow it. For me, my friend,
The spacious earth holds not a bait to tempt me.
What would it profit me, if I should gain
Imperial Ecbatan, th' extended land
Of fruitful Media, nay, the world's wide empire,
If mine eternal soul must be the price?
Farewell, my friend! time presses. I have stolen
Some moments from my duty, to confirm
And strengthen thy young faith! Let us fulfil
What Heaven enjoins -- and leave to Heaven the event.
SCENE. -- The Palace.
'Tis done -- success has crown'd our scheme, Soranus,
And Daniel falls into the deep-laid toils
Our prudence spread.
That he should fall so soon,
Astonishes even me! What! not a day?
What! not a single moment to defer
His rash devotions? Madly thus to rush
On certain peril, quite transcends belief!
When happen'd it, Pharnaces?
On the instant:
Scarce is the deed accomplish'd. As he made
His ostentatious prayer, even in the face
Of the bright God of day, all Babylon
Beheld the insult offer'd to Darius.
For, as in bold defiance of the law,
His windows were not closed, our chosen bands,
Whom we had placed to note him, soon rush'd in
And seized him in the warmth of his blind zeal,
Ere half his prayer was finish'd. Young Araspes,
With all the wild extravagance of grief,
Prays, weeps, and threatens. Daniel silent stands,
With patient resignation, and prepares
To follow them. -- But see, the king approaches!
How's this? deep sorrow sits upon his brow!
And stern resentment fires his angry eye.
O deep-laid stratagem! O artful wile!
To take me unprepared, to wound my heart,
Even where it feels most tenderly, in friendship!
To stab my fame! to hold me up a mark
To future ages, for the perjured prince
Who slew the friend he loved! O Daniel, Daniel,
Who now shall trust Darius? not a slave
In my wide empire, from the Indian main
To the cold Caspian, but is more at ease
Than I, his monarch! Yes! I've done a deed
Will blot my honour with eternal stain!
Pharnaces! O thou hoary sycophant!
Thou wily politician! thou hast snared
Thy unsuspecting master!
Let not resentment blind thy royal eyes.
In what am I to blame? Who would suspect
This obstinate resistance to the law?
Who could foresee that Daniel would perforce
Oppose the king's decree?
Thou, thou foresaw'st it!
Thou knew'st his righteous soul would ne'er endure
So long an interval of prayer. But I,
Deluded king! 'twas I should have foreseen
His stedfast piety. I should have thought
Your earnest warmth had some more secret source,
Something that touch'd you nearer than your love,
Your well feign'd zeal, for me. -- I should have known,
When selfish politicians, hackney'd long
In fraud and artifice, affect a glow
Of patriot fervour, or fond loyalty,
Which scorns all show of interest, that's the moment
To watch their crooked projects.-- Well thou know'st
How dear I held him! how I prized his truth!
Did I not choose him from a subject world,
Unbless'd by fortune, and by birth ungraced,
A captive, and a Jew? Did I not love him?
Was he not rich in independent worth,
And great in native goodness? That undid him!
There, there he fell! If he had been less great,
He had been safe. Thou could'st not bear his brightness;
The lustre of his virtues quite obscured,
And dimm'd thy fainter merit. Rash old man!
Go, and devise some means to set me free
From this dread load of guilt! Go, set at work
Thy plotting genius to redeem the life
Of venerable Daniel!
'Tis too late.
He has offended 'gainst the new decree;
Has dared to make petition to his God,
Although the dreadful sentence of the act
Full well he knew. And by the establish'd law
Of Media, by that law irrevocable,
Which he has dared to violate, he dies!
Impiety! presumption! monstrous law
Irrevocable! Is there aught on earth
Deserves that name? The eternal laws alone
Of Oromasdes are unchangeable!
All human projects are so faintly framed,
So feebly plann'd, so liable to change,
So mix'd with error in their very form,
That mutable and mortal are the same.
But where is Daniel? Wherefore comes he not
To load me with reproaches? to upbraid me
With all the wrongs my barbarous haste has done him?
Where is he?
He prepares to meet his fate.
This hour he dies, for so the act decrees.
Suspend the bloody sentence. Bring him hither.
Or rather let me seek him, and implore
His dying pardon and his parting prayer.
SCENE. -- Daniel's House.
Still let me follow thee; still let me hear
The voice of Wisdom, ere the silver chord
By Death's cold hand be loosen'd.
Now I'm ready.
No grief, no woman's weakness, good Araspes!
Thou should'st rejoice my pilgrimage is o'er,
And the blest haven of repose in view.
And must I lose thee, Daniel? Must thou die?
And what is death, my friend, that I should fear it?
To die! why 'tis to triumph: 'tis to join
The great assembly of the good and just;
Immortal worthies, heroes, prophets, saints!
Oh! 'tis to join the band of holy men,
Made perfect by their sufferings! 'Tis to meet
My great progenitors! 'Tis to behold
Th' illustrious patriarchs; they with whom the Lord
Deign'd hold familiar converse! 'Tis to see
Bless'd Noah, and his children, once a world!
'Tis to behold, oh! rapture to conceive!
Those we have known, and loved, and lost below!
Bold Azariah, and the band of brothers,
Who sought in bloom of youth, the scorching flames!
Nor shall we see heroic men alone,
Champions who fought the fight of faith on earth:
But heavenly conquerors, angelic hosts,
Michael and his bright legions, who subdued
The foes of Truth to join their blest employ
Of love and praise! to the high melodies
Of choirs celestial to attune my voice,
Accordant to the golden harps of saints!
To join in blest hosannahs to their King!
Whose face to see, whose glory to behold,
Alone were Heaven, though saint or seraph none
Should meet our sight, and only God were there!
This is to die! Whou would not die for this?
Who would not die, that he might live for ever?
Darius, Daniel, Araspes.
Where is he? Where is Daniel? Let me see him!
Let me embrace that venerable form,
Which I have doom'd to glut the greedy maw
Of furious lions!
King Darius, hail!
Oh, injured Daniel! can I see thee thus,
Thus uncomplaining? can I bear to hear,
That when the ruffian ministers of death
Stopp'd thy unfinish'd prayer, thy pious lips
Had just invoked a blessing on Darius,
On him who sought thy life? Thy murderers dropt
Tears of strange pity. Look not on me thus
With mild benignity! Oh! I could bear
The voice of keen reproach, or the strong flash
Of fierce resentment; but I cannot stand
That touching silence, nor that patient eye
Of meek respect.
Thou art my master still.
I am thy murderer! I have sign'd thy death!
I know thy bent of soul is honourable:
Thou hast been gracious still! Were it not so,
I would have met the appointment of high Heaven
With humble acquiescence: but to know
Thy will concurr'd not with thy servant's fate,
Adds joy to resignation.
Here I swear,
By him who sits enthroned in yon bright sun,
Thy blood shall be atoned! One these thy foes
Thou shalt have ample vengeance.
Hold, O king!
Vengeance is mine, th' eternal Lord has said:
Myself will recompense, with even hand,
The sinner for the sin. The wrath of man
Works not the righteousness of God.
I had hoped
We should have trod this busy stage together
A little longer, then have sunk to rest
In honourable age! Who now shall guide
My shatter'd bark in safety? Who shall now
Direct me? Oh, unhappy state of kings!
'Tis well the robe of majesty is gay,
Or who would put it on? A crown! What is it?
It is to bear the miseries of a people;
To bear their murmurs, feel their discontents,
And sink beneath a load of splendid care!
To have your best success ascribed to Fortune,
And Fortune's failures all ascribed to you:
It is to sit upon a joyless height,
To every blast of changing Fate exposed!
Too high for hope! too great for happiness;
For friendship too much fear'd! to all the joys
Of social freedom, and th' endearing charm
Of liberal interchange of soul, unknown!
Fate meant me an exception to the rest,
And, though a monarch, bless'd me with a friend;
And I -- have murder'd him!
My hour approaches.
Hate not my memory, king: protect Araspes:
Encourage Cyrus in the holy work
Of building ruin'd Solyma. Farewell!
With most religious strictness I'll fulfil
Thy last request. Araspes shall be next
My throne and heart. Farewell! [They embrace.]
Hear, future kings,
Ye unborn rulers of the nations hear!
Learn from my crime, from my misfortunes learn,
That delegated power which Oromasdes
Invests in monarchs for the public good.
SCENE.-- The Court of the Palace, -- The Sun rising.
Oh, good Araspes! what a night of horror!
To me the dawning day brings no return
Of cheerfulness or peace! No balmy sleep
Has seal'd these eyes, no nourishment has past
These loathing lips, since Daniel's fate was sign'd!
Hear what my fruitless penitence resolves--
The thirty days my rashness had decreed
The edict's force should last, I will devote
To mourning and repentance, fasting, prayer,
Ad all due rites of grief. For thirty days
No pleasant sound of dulcimer or harp,
Sackbut, or flute, or psaltery, shall charm
My ear, now dead to every note of joy!
My grief can know no period!
See that den!
There Daniel met the furious lions' rage!
There were the patient martyr's mangled limbs,
Torn piecemeal! Never hide thy tears, Araspes!
'Tis virtuous sorrow, unallay'd, like mine,
By guilt and fell remorse! Let us approach;
Who knows but that dread Power to whom he pray'd
So often and so fervently, has heard him!
[He goes to the mouth of the den.]
O Daniel! servant of the living God!
He whom thou hast served so long, and loved so well,
From the devouring lion's famish'd jaw
Can he deliver thee?
Daniel (from the bottom of the den.)
He can, he has.
Methought I heard him speak!
Oh! wondrous force
Of strong imagination! were thy voice
Loud as the trumpet's blast, it could not wake him
From that eternal sleep!
Daniel (in the den.)
Hail! King Darius!
The God I serve has shut the lions' mouths,
To vindicate my innocence.
'Tis no illusion; 'tis the sound
Of his known voice.
Where are my servants! Haste,
Fly, swift as lightning, free him from the den!
Release him, bring him hither! Break the seal
Which keeps him from me! See, Araspes, look!
See the charm'd lions! -- mark their mild demeanour!
Araspes, mark! -- they have no power to hurt him!
See how they hang their heads, and smooth their fierceness,
At his mild aspect.
Who that sees this sight,
Who that in after-times shall hear this told,
Can doubt if Daniel's God be God indeed?
None, none, Araspes!
Ah! he comes, he comes!
Enter Daniel, followed by Multitudes.
Hail, great Darius!
Dost thou live indeed?
And live unhurt?
Oh, miracle of joy!
I scarce can trust my eyes! how didst thou 'scape?
That bright and glorious Being, who vouchsafed
Presence divine when the three martyr'd brothers
Essay'd the cauldron's flame, supported me!
E'en in the furious lions' dreadful den,
The prisoner of hope, even there I turn'd
To the strong hold, the bulwark of my strength,
Ready to hear, and mighty to redeem!
Darius (to Araspes.)
Where is Pharnaces? take the hoary traitor!
Take too Soranus, and the chief abettors
Of this dire edict! let no one escape
The punishment their deep-laid hate devised
For holy Daniel, on their heads shall fall
With tenfold vengeance. To the lions' den
I doom his vile accusers! All their wives,
Their children too, shall share one common fate;
Take care that none escape. -- Go, good Araspes.
[Araspes goes out.]
Not so, Darius!
Oh spare the guiltless! Spare the guilty too!
Where sin is not, to punish were unjust;
And where sin is, O king, there fell remorse
Supplies the place of punishment!
My word is past! Not one request, save this,
Shalt thou e'er make in vain. Approach, my friends;
Araspes has already spread the tale,
And see what crowds advance!
Long live Darius!
Long live great Daniel too, the people's friend!
Draw near my subjects. See this holy man!
Death had no pow'r to harm him.
Of famish'd lions, soften'd at his sight,
Forgot their nature, and grew tame before him.
The mighty God protects his servants thus?
The righteous thus he rescues from the snare!
While fraud's artificer himself shall fall
In the deep gulph hils wily arts devise
To snare the innocent!
To the same den
Araspes bears Pharnaces and his friends.
Fall'n is their insolence! With prayers and tears,
And all the meanness of high-crested pride,
When adverse fortune frowns, they beg for life.
Araspes will not hear. 'You heard not me,'
He cries, 'When I for Daniel's life implored;
His God protected him! see now if yours
Will listen to your cries!'
People and nations, languages and realms
O'er whom I rule! Peace be within your walls
That I may banish from the minds of men
The rash decree gone out; hear me resolve
To counteract its force by one more just;
In every kingdom of my wide-stretch'd realm,
From fair Chaldea to th' extremest bound
Of northern Media, be my edict sent,
And this my statute known. My heralds, haste,
And spread my royal mandate through the land,
That all my subjecst bow the ready knee
To Daniel's God -- for HE alone is Lord.
Let all adore and tremble at his name,
Who sits in glory unapproachable
Above the heavens -- above the heaven of heavens?
His power is everlasting; and his throne,
Founded in equity and truth shall last
Beyond the bounded reign of time and space,
Through wide eternity? With his right arm
He saves, and who opposes? He defends,
And who shall injure? In the perilous den
He rescued Daniel from the lions' mouths!
His common deeds are wonders; all his works
One ever-during chain of miracles!
All hail, O king! Darius live for ever!
May all thy foes be as Pharnaces is!
Oh, let me spare the tale?
'Tis full of horror! dreadful was the sight!
The hungry lions, greedy for their prey,
Devour'd the wretched princes ere they reach'd
The bottom of the den.
Now, now confess
'Twas some superior hand restrain'd their rage
And tamed their furious appetites.
The God of Daniel is a mighty god;
He saves and he destroys.
O friend! O Daniel!
No wav'ring doubts can ever more disturb
My settled faith.
To God be all the glory!
The Search After Happiness. A Pastoral Drama
'To rear the tender thought,
To teach the young idea how to shoot,
To pour the fresh instruction o'er the mind,
To breathe th' enlivening spirit, and to fix
The generous purpose in the female breast.' ~Thomson.
Persons of the Drama.
Four young Ladies of distinction, in Search of Happiness:--
Urania, an ancient Shepherdess.
Florella, a young shepherdess.
To Mrs. Gwatkin.
As the following Poem turns chiefly on the danger of Delay or Error in the important article of Education, I know not to whom I can, with more propriety, dedicate it, than to you, as the subject it inculcates has been one of the principal objects of your attention in your own family.
Let not the name of Dedication alarm you; I am not going to offend you by making your Eulogium. Panegyric is only necessary to suspicious characters; Virtue will not accept it; Delicacy will not offer it.
The friendship with which you have honoured me from my childhood, will, I flatter myself, induce you to pardon me for venturing to lay before you this public testimony of my esteem, and to assure you how much I am,
And obliged humble servant,
The object of the following Poem, which was written in very early youth, was an earnest wish to furnish a substitute for the very improper custom, which then prevailed, of allowing plays, and those not always of the purest kind, to be acted by young Ladies in boarding schools. And it has afforded a serious satisfaction to the Author to learn that this little Poem, and likewise the Sacred Dramas, have very frequently been adopted to supply the place of those more dangerous amusements. If it may be still happily instrumental in promoting a regard to Religion and Virtue in the minds of young persons, and afford them an innocent, and perhaps not altogether unuseful, amusement in the exercise of recitation, the end for which it was originally composed, and the author's utmost wish in its re-publication, will be fully answered.
Spoken By A Young Lady.
In these grave scenes, and unembellish'd strains,
Where neither sly intrigue nor passion reigns;
How dare we hope an audience will approve
A Drama void of wit, and free from love?
Where no soft Juliet sighs, and weeps, and starts,
No fierce Roxana takes by storm your hearts;
No comic ridicule, no tragic swagger,
Not one elopement, not one bowl or dagger?
No husband wrong'd, who trusted and believed,
No father cheated, and no friend deceived;
No libertine in glowing strains described,
No lying chambermaid that rake had bribed:
Nor give we, to reward the rover's life,
The ample portion and the beauteous wife:
Behold, to raise the manners of the age,
The frequent moral of the scenic page!
And shall we then transplant these noxious scnes
To private life? to misses in their teens?
The pompous tone, the masculine attire,
The stilts, the buskin, the dramatic fire,
Corrupt the softness of the gentler kind,
And taint the sweetness of the youthful mind.
Ungovern'd passions, jealousy and rage,
But ill become our sex, still less our age;
Whether we learn too well what we describe,
Or fail the Poet's meaning to imbibe;
In either case your blame we justly raise,
In either lose, or ought to lose, your praise.
How dull, if tamely flows th' impassion'd strain;
If well -- how bad to be the thing we feign;
To fix the mimic scene upon the heart,
And keep the passions when we quit the part!
Such are the perils the dramatic muse,
In youthful bosoms threatens to infuse;
Our timid Author labours to impart
A less pernicious lesson to the heart;
What, though no charm of melody divine,
Smooth her round period, or adorn her line;
Though her unpolish'd page in vain aspires
To emulate the graces she admires;
Though destitute of skill, her sole pretence
But aims at simple truth and common sense;
Yet shall her honest unassuming page
Tell that its Author in a modish age,
Preferr'd plain virtue to the boast of art,
Nor fix'd one dangerous maxim on the heart.
Oh if, to crown her efforts, she could find,
They rooted but one error from one mind;
If in the bosom of ingenuous youth
They stamp'd one useful thought, one lasting truth,
'Twould be a fairer tribute to her name,
Than loud applause, or an empty fame!
The Search After Happiness.
SCENE -- A Grove.
Euphelia, Cleora, Pastorella, Laurinda.
Welcome, ye humble vales, ye flow'ry shades,
Ye crystal fountains, and ye silent glades!
From the gay misery of the thoughtless great,
The walks of folly, the disease of state;
From scenes where daring guilt triumphant reigns,
Its dark suspicions and its hoard of pains;
Where Pleasure never comes without alloy,
And Art but thinly paints fallacious joy;
Where Languour loads the day, Excess the night,
And dull Satiety succeeds Delight;
Where midnight Vices their fell orgies keep,
And guilty Revels scare the phantom Sleep;
Where Dissipations wears the name of Bliss:
From these we fly in search of Happiness.
Not the tir'd Pilgrim, all his dangers past,
When he descries the long-sought shrine at last;
E'er felt a joy so pure as this fair field,
These peaceful shades, and smiling valleys yield;
For sure, these oaks, which old as Time appear,
Proclaim Urania's lonely dwelling near.
How the description with the scene agrees!
Here lowly thickets, there aspiring trees;
The hazel copse excluding noon-day's beam,
The tufted arbour, the pellucid stream;
The blooming sweet-briar, and the hawthorn shade,
The springing cowslips, and the daisy'd mead;
The wild luxuriance of the full-blown fields,
Which Spring prepares, and laughing Summer yields!
Here simple Nature strikes the enraptured eye
With charms, which wealth and art but ill supply;
The genuine graces, which without we find,
Display the beauty of the owner's mind.
These deep embowering shades conceal the cell,
Where sage Urania and her daughters dwell:
Florella too, if right we've heard the tale,
With them resides -- the lilly of the vale.
But soft; what gentle female form appears,
Which smiles of more than mortal beauty wears?
Is it the Guardian Genius of the grove?
Or some fair angel from the choirs above!
Enter Florella, who speaks.
Whom do I see? ye beauteous virgins, say,
What chance conducts your steps this lonely way?
Do you pursue some favourite lambkin stray'd?
Or do yon alders court you to their shade?
Declare, fair strangers! If aright I deem,
No rustic nymph of vulgar rank you seem.
No cooling shades allure our eager sight,
Nor lambkins lost, our searching steps invite.
Or is it, haply, yonder branching vine,
Whose tendrils round our low-roof'd cottage twine;
Whose spreading height, with purple clusters crown'd,
Attracts the gaze of every nymph around?
Have these lone regions aught that charms beside?
Yours are my shades, my flowers, my fleecy pride.
Florella! our united thanks receive;
Sole proof of gratitude we have to give:
And since you deign to ask, O courteous fair!
The motive of our unremitting care;
Know then, kind maid, our joint researches tend
To find that sovereign good of life, a friend;
From whom the wholesome counsel we may gain,
How our young hearts may happiness obtain.
By Fancy's mimic pencil oft portray'd,
Still have we woo'd the visionary maid:
The lovely phantom mocks our eager eyes;
And still we chase, and still we miss the prize!
Long have we search'd throughout this bounteous isle,
With constant ardour and with ceaseless toil;
The various ways of various life we've tried;
But still the bliss we seek has been deny'd.
We've sought in vain through every different state;
The murmuring poor, the discontented great.
If Peace, and Joy, in palaces reside,
Or in obscurer haunts delight to hide;
If Happiness with worldly pleasures dwell,
Or shrouds her graces in the hermit's cell:
If Wit, if Science, teach the road to bliss,
Or torpid dulness find the joys they miss;
To learn this truth, we've bid a long adieu
To all the shadows blinded men pursue.
-- We seek Urania; whose sagacious mind
May lead our steps this latent good to find:
Her worth we emulate; her virtues fire
Our ardent hearts to be what we admire:
For though with care she shuns the public eye,
Yet worth like hers, unknown can never lie.
On such a fair faultless model form'd,
By Prudence guided, and by Virtue warm'd,
Perhaps Florella can direct our youth,
And point our footsteps to the paths of Truth.
Ill would it suit my unexperienced age
In such important questions to engage.
Young as I am, unskilful to discern,
Nor fit to teach, who yet have much to learn.
But would you with maturer years advise,
And reap the counsel of the truly wise,
The dame in whom such worth and wisdom meet,
All that the world calls great she once possess'd,
With wealth, with rank, her prosperous youth was bless'd.
In adverse fortune, now, serene and gay,
'Who gave,' she said, 'had right to take away.'
Two lovely daughters bless her growing years,
And, by their virtues, well repay her cares.
With them, beneath her sheltering wing I live,
And share the bounties she has still to give;
For Heaven, who in its dispensations join'd
A narrow fortune to a noble mind,
Has bless'd the sage Urania with a heart
Which Wisdom's noblest treasures can impart;
In Duty's active roud each day is past,
As if she thought each day might prove her last:
Her labours for devotion best prepare,
And meek Devotion smooths the brow of Care.
Then lead, Florella, to that humble shed
Where Peace resides: from courts and cities fled;
O Happiness, celestial fair,
Our earliest hope, our latest care,
Oh hear our fond request!
Vouchsafe, reluctant Nymph, to tell
On what sweet spot thou lov'st to dwell,
And make us truly blest.
Amidst the walks of public life,
The toils of wealth, ambition's strife,
We long have sought in vain:
The crowded city's noisy din,
And all the busy haunts of men,
Afford but care and pain.
Pleased with the soft, the soothing power
Of calm Reflection's silent hour,
Sequester'd dost thou dwell?
Where care and tumult ne'er intrude,
Dost thou reside with Solitude?
Thy humble votaries tell.
O Happiness, celestial fair,
Our earliest hope, our latest care
Let us not sue in vain!
O deign to hear our fond request,
Come, take possession of our breast,
And there for ever reign.
SCENE -- The Grove.
Urania, Sylvia, Eliza.
Sweet Solitude, thou placid queen
Of modest air, and brow serene!
'Tis thou inspirest the Sage's themes;
The poet's visionary dreams.
Parent of Virtue, nurse of Thought!
By thee were Saints and Patriarchs taught;
Wisdom from thee her treasures drew,
And in thy lap fair Science grew.
Whate'er exalts, refines, and charms,
Invites to thought, to virtue warms;
Whate'er is perfect, fair, and good,
We owe to thee, sweet Solitude!
In these blest shades, O still maintain
Thy peaceful, unmolested reign!
Let no disorder'd thoughts intrude
On thy repose, sweet Solitude!
With thee the charm of life shall last,
Although its rosy bloom be past;
Shall still endure when Time shall spread
His silver blossoms o'er my head.
No more with this vain world perplex'd,
Thou shalt prepare me for the next;
The springs of life shall gently cease,
And angels point the way to peace.
Ye tender objects of maternal love,
Ye dearest joys my widow'd heart can prove,
Come, taste the glories of the new-born day,
And grateful homage to its author pay!
Oh! ever may this animating sight
Convey instruction while it sheds delight!
Does not that sun, whose cheering beams impart
Joy's glad emotions to the pure in heart;
Does not that vivid power teach every mind
To be as warm, benevolent and kind;
To burn with unremitted ardour still,
Like him to execute their Maker's will;
Then let us, Power Supreme! thy will adore.
Invoke thy mercies, and proclaim thy power.
Shalt thou these benefits in vain bestow?
Shall we forget the fountain whence they flow?
Teach us through these to lift our hearts to Thee,
And in the gift the bounteous giver see.
To view Thee as thou art, all good and wise,
Nor let thy blessings hide thee from our eyes.
From all obstructions clear our mental sight;
Pour on our souls thy beatific light!
Teach us thy wondrous goodness to revere,
With love to worship, and with reverence fear!
In the mild works of thy benignant hand,
As in the thunder of thy dread command.
In common objects we neglect thy power,
While wonders shine in every plant and flower.
-- Tell me, my first, my last, my darling care,
If you this morn have raised your hearts in prayer?
Say, did you rise from the sweet bed of rest,
Your God unpraised, his holy name unblest?
Our hearts with gratitude and rev'rence fraught,
By those pure precepts you have ever taught;
By your example, more than precept strong,
Of pray'r and praise have tun'd their matin song.
With ever-new delight, we now attend
The counsels of our fond maternal friend.
Enter Florella, with Euphelia, Cleora, Pastorella, Laurinda.
Florella (Aside to the Ladies).
See how the goodly dame, with pious art,
Makes each event a lesson to the heart!
Observe the duteous list'ners how they stand!
Improvement and delight go hand in hand.
But where's Florella?
Here's the happy she,
Whom Heaven most favor'd when it gave her thee.
But who are these, in whose attractive mien,
So sweetly blended, ev'ry grace is seen?
Speak, my Florella! say the cause why here
These beauteous damsels on our plains appear?
Invited hither by Urania's fame,
To seek her friendship, to these shades they came.
Straying alone at morning's earliest dawn,
I met them wand'ring on the distant lawn.
Their courteous manners soon engag'd my love:
I've brought them here your sage advice to prove.
Tell me, ye gentle nymphs, the reason tell,
Which brings such guests to grace my lowly cell?
My pow'r of serving, tho' indeed but small,
Such as it is, you may command it all.
Your counsel, your advice, is all we ask!
And for Urania that's no irksome task.
'Tis happiness we seek: O deign to tell
Where the coy fugitive delights to dwell!
Ah, rather say where you have sought this guest,
This lovely inmate of the virtuous breast?
Declare the various methods you've essay'd
To court and win the bright celestial maid.
But first, tho' harsh the task, each beauteous fair
Her ruling passion must with truth declare.
From evil habits own'd, from faults confess'd,
Alone we trace the secrets of the breast.
Bred in the regal splendours of a court,
Wher pleasures, dress'd in every shape, resort,
I try'd the pow'r of pomp and costly glare,
Nor e'er found room for thought, or time for pray'r:
In diff'rent follies ev'ry hour I spent;
I shunn'd Reflection, yet I sought Content.
My hours were shar'd betwixt the park and play,
And music serv'd to waste the tedious day;
Yet softest airs no more with joy I heard,
If any sweeter warbler was preferr'd;
The dance succeeded, and, succeeding, tir'd,
If some more graceful dancer were admir'd.
No sounds but flatt'ry ever sooth'd my ear:
Ungentle truths I knew not how to bear.
The anxious day induc'd the sleepless night,
And my vex'd spirit never knew delight;
Coy Pleasure mock'd me with delusive charms;
Still the thin shadow fled my clasping arms.
Or if some actual joy I seem'd to taste,
Another's pleasures laid my blessings waste:
One truth I prov'd, that lurking Envy hides
In ev'ry heart where Vanity presides.
A fairer face would rob my soul of rest,
And fix a scorpion in my wounded breast.
Or, if my elegance of form prevail'd,
And haply her inferior graces fail'd;
Yet still some cause of wretchedness I found,
Some barbed shaft my shatter'd peace to wound.
Perhaps her gay attire exceeded mine--
When she was finer, how could I be fine?
Pardon my interruption, beauteous maid!
Can Truth have prompted what you just have said?
What! can the poor pre-eminence of dress
Ease the pain'd heart, or give it happiness?
Or can you think your robes, tho' rich and fine,
Possess intrinsic value more than mine?
So close our nature is to vice ally'd,
Our very comforts are the source of pride;
And dress, so much corruptio reigns within,
Is both the consequence and cause of sin.
Of Happiness unfound I too complain,
Sought in a diff'rent path, but sought in vain!
I sigh'd for fame, I languish'd for renown,
I would be flatter'd, prais'd, admir'd, and known.
On daring wing my mounting spirit soar'd,
And Science through her boundless fields explored:
I scorn'd the salique laws of pedant schools,
Which chain our genius down by tasteless rules:
I long'd to burst these female bonds, which held
My sex in awe, by vanity impell'd:
To boast each various faculty of mind,
Thy graces, Pope! with Johnson's learning join'd:
Like Swift, with strongly pointed ridicule,
To brand the villain, and abash the fool:
To judge with taste, with spirit to compose,
Now mount in epic, now descend to prose;
To join, like Burke, the Beauteous and Sublime,
Or build, with Milton's art, 'the lofty rhyme;'
Thro' Fancy's fields I rang'd ; I strove to hit
Melmoth's chaste style, and Prior's easy wit:
Thy classic graces, Mason, to display,
And court the Muse of Elegy with Gray:
I rav'd of Shakespeare's flame and Dryden's rage,
And ev'ry charm of Otway's melting page.
I talk'd by rote the jargon of the schools,
Of critic laws, and Artistotle's rules!
Of passion, sentiment, and style, and grace,
And unities of action, time, and place.
The daily duties of my life forgot,
To study fiction, incident, and plot:
Howe'er the conduct of my life might err,
Still my dramatic plans were regular.
Who aims at ev'ry science, soon will find
The field how vast, how limited the mind!
Abstruser studies soon my fancy caught,
The poet in th' astronomer forgot:
The schoolmen's systems now my mind employ'd,
Their crystal Spheres, their Atoms, and their Void,
Newton and Halley all my soul inspir'd,
And numbers less than calculations fir'd;
Descartes, and Euclid, shar'd my varying breast,
And plans and problems all my soul possess'd.
Less pleas'd to sing inspiring Phoebus' ray,
Than mark the flaming comet's devious way.
The pale moon dancing on the silver stream,
And the mild lustre of her trembling beam,
No more could charm my philosophic pride,
Which sought her influence on the flowing tide.
No more ideal beauties fix'd my thought,
Which only facts and demonstrations sought.
Let common eyes, I said, with transport view
The earth's bright verdure, or the heaven's soft blue,
False is the pleasure; the delight is vain,
Colours exist but in the vulgar brain.
I now with Locke trod metaphysic soil,
Now chas'd coy Nature thro' the tracts of Boyle;
To win the wreath of Fame, by Science twin'd,
More than the love of Science fir'd my mind.
I seized on Learning's superficial part,
And title-page and index got by heart;
Some learn'd authority I still would bring
To grace my talk, and prove -- the plainest thing:
This the chief transport I from science drew,
That all might know how much Cleora knew.
Not love, but wonder I aspir'd to raise,
And miss'd affection, while I grasp'd at praise.
To me, no joys could pomp or fame impart;
Far softer thoughts possess'd my virgin heart.
No prudent parent form'd my ductile youth,
Nor lead my footsteps in the paths of truth.
Left to myself to cultivate my mind,
Pernicious novels their soft entrance find:
Their pois'nous influence led my mind astray:
I sigh'd for something,-- what,-- I could not say.
I fancy'd virtues which were never seen,
And died for heroes who have never been;
I sicken'd with disgust at sober sense,
And loath's the pleasures worth and truth dispense:
I scorn'd the manners of the world I saw;
My guide was fiction, and romance my law.
Distemper'd thoughts my wand'ring fancy fill,
Each wind a zephyr, and each brook a rill;
I found adventures in each common tale,
And talk'd and sigh'd to every passing gale;
Convers'd with echoes, woods, and shades, and bowers,
Cascades, and grottos, fields, and streams, and flowers.
Retirement, more than crowds, had learn'd to please;
For treach'rous Leisure feeds the soft disease.
There, plastic Fancy ever moulds at will
Th' obedient image with a dang'rous skill;
The charming fiction, with alluring art,
Awakes the passions, and infects the heart.
A fancy'd heroine, an ideal wife;
I loath'd the offices of real life.
These all were dull and tame, I long'd to prove
The gen'rous ardours of unequal love;
Some marvel still my wayward heart must strike,
Or prince, or peasant, each had charms alike:
Whate'er inverted nature, custom, law,
With joy I courted, and with transport saw.
In the dull walk of Virtue's quiet round,
No aliment my fever'd fancy found,
Each duty to perform observant still
But those which God and Nature bade me fill.
Eliza (to Urania.)
O save me from the errors of deceit,
And all the dangers wealth and beauty meet.
Reason perverted, Fancy on her throne,
My soul to all my sex's softness prone;
I neither spoke nor look'd as mortal ought;
To sense abandon'd and by Folly taught:
A victim to Imagination's sway,
Which stole my health, and rest, and peace away:
Professions, void of meaning, I receiv'd,
And still I found them false -- and still believ'd:
Imagin'd all who courted me approv'd;
Who prais'd, esteem'd me; and who flatter'd lov'd.
Fondly I hop'd, (now vain those hopes appear,)
Each man was faithful, and each maid sincere.
Still Disappointment mock'd the ling'ring day;
Still new-born wishes led my soul astray.
When in the rolling year no joy I find,
I trust the next; the next will sure be kind.
The next, fallacious as the last appears,
And sends me on to still remoter years.
They come, they promise -- but forget to give;
I live not, but I still intend to live.
At length, deceiv'd in all my schemes of bliss,
I join'd these three in search of Happiness.
Is this the world of which we want a sight?
Are these the beings who are call'd polite?
If so, O gracious Heaven! hear Sylvia's prayer:
Preserve me still in humble virtue here!
Far from such baneful pleasures may I live,
And keep, O keep, me from the taint they give!
No love of Fame my torpid bosom warms,
No Fancy soothes me, and no Pleasure charms!
Yet still remote from Happiness I stray,
No guiding star illumes my trackless way.
My mind, nor wit misleads, nor passion goads,
But the dire rust of indolence corrodes;
This eating canker, with malignant stealth,
Destroys the vital powers of moral health.
Till now, I've slept on Life's tumultuous tide,
No principle of action for my guide.
From Ignorance my chief misfortunes flow;
I never wish'd to learn, or cared to know.
With every folly slow-paced time beguiled:
In size a woman, but in soul a child.
In slothful ease my moments crept away,
And busy trifles fill'd the tedious day;
I lived extempore, as Fancy fired,
As Chance directed, or Caprice inspired:
Too indolent to think, too weak to choose,
Too soft to blame, too gentle to refuse;
My character was stamp'd from those around;
The figures they, my mind the simple ground.
Fashion, with monstrous forms, the canvas stain'd,
Till nothing of my genuine self remain'd;
My pliant soul from Chance received its bent,
And neither good perform'd, or evil meant.
From right to wrong, from vice to virtue thrown,
No character possessing of its own.
To shun fatigue I made my only law;
Yet every night my wasted spirits saw.
No plan e'er mark'd the duties of the day,
Which stole in tasteless apathy away:
No energy inform'd my languid mind!
No joy the idle e'er must hope to find.
Weak indecision all my actions sway'd;
The day was lost before the choice was made.
Though more to folly than to guilt inclined,
A drear vacuity possess'd my mind.
Too old with infant sports to be amused,
Unfit for converse, and to books unused,
The wise avoided me, they could not hear
My senseless prattle with a patient ear.
I sought retreat, but found, with strange surprise,
Retreat is pleasant only to the wise;
The crowded world by vacant minds is sought,
Because it saves th' expense and pain of thought.
Disgusted, restless, every plan amiss,
I come with these in search of Happiness.
O happy they for whom, in early age,
Enlightening knowledge spreads her letter'd page!
Teaches each headstrong passion to control,
And pours her liberal lesson on the soul!
Ideas grow from books, their natural food,
As aliment is changed to vital blood.
Though faithless Fortune strip her votary bare,
Though Malice haunt him, and though Envy tear,
Nor time, nor chance, nor want can e'er destroy
This soul-felt solace, and this bosom joy!
We thus united by one common fate,
Each discontented with her present state,
One common scheme pursue; resolved to know
If happiness can e'er be found below.
Your candour, beauteous damsels, I approve,
Your foibles pity, and your merits love.
But ere I say the methods you must try
To gain the glorious prize for which you sigh,
Your fainting strength and spirits must be cheer'd
With a plain meal, by Temperance prepared.
No luxury our humble board attends;
But Love and Concord are its smiling friends.
Hail, artless Simplicity, beautiful maid,
In the genuine attractions of Nature array'd;
Let the rich and the proud and the gay and the vain,
Still laugh at the graces that move in thy train.
No charm in thy modest allurements they find;
The pleasures they follow a sting leave behind.
Can criminal passion enrapture the breast
Like virtue, with peace and serenity blest?
Oh, would you Simplicity's precepts attend,
Like us, with delight at her altar you'd bend;
The pleasures she yields would with joy be embraced;
You'd practise from virtue, and love them from taste.
The linnet enchants us the bushes among,
Though cheap the musician, yet sweet is the song;
We catch the soft warbling in air as it floats,
And with ecstacy hang on the ravishing notes.
Our water is drawn from the clearest of springs,
And our food, nor disease nor satiety brings;
Our mornings are cheerful, our labours are blest
Our evenings are pleasant, our nights crown'd with rest.
From our culture yon garden its ornaments finds,
And we catch at the hint for improving our minds;
To live to some purpose we constantly try,
And we mark by our actions the days as they fly.
Since such are the joys that Simplicity yields,
We may well be content with our woods and our fields:
How useless to us, then, ye great, were your wealth,
When without it we purchase both pleasure and health!
[They retire into the Cottage.
SCENE. -- A Rural Entertainment.
Florella, Euphelia, Cleora, Laurinda, Pastorella.
While Beauty and Pleasure are now in their prime,
And Folly and Fashion expect our whole time,
Ah! let not those phantoms our wishes engage:
Let us live so in youth, that we blush not in age.
Though the vain and the gay may allure us awhile,
Yet let not their flattery our prudence beguile:
Let us covet those charms that will never decay,
Nor listen to all that deceivers can say.
'How the tints of the rose, and the jasmine's perfume,
The eglantine's fragrance, the lilac's gay bloom,
Though fair and though fragrant, unheeded may lie,
For that neither is sweet when Florella is by.'
I sigh not for beauty, nor languish for wealth,
But grant me, kind Providence, virtue and health;
Then, richer than kings, and as happy as they
My days shall pass sweetly and swiftly away.
When age shall steal on me, and youth is no more,
And the moralist Time shakes his glass at my door,
What charm in lost beauty or wealth should I find
My treasure, my wealth, is a sweet peace of mind!
That peace I'll preserve then, as pure as was given,
And taste in my bosom an earnest of Heaven;
Thus Virtue and Wisdom can warm the cold scene,
And sixty may flourish as gay as sixteen.
And when long I the burthen of life shall have borne,
And Death with his sickle shall cut the ripe corn,
Resign'd to my fate, without murmur or sigh,
I'll bless the kind summons, and lie down and die.
Thus sweetly pass the hours of rural ease!
Here life is bliss, and pleasures truly please!
With joy we view the dangers we have past,
Assured we've found felicity at last.
Esteem none happy by their outward air;
All have their portion of allotted care.
Though Wisdom wear the semblance of Content,
When the full heart with agony is rent,
Secludes its anguish from the public view,
And by secluding, learns to conquer too;
Denied the fond indulgence to complain,
The aching heart its peace may best regain.
By love directed, and in mercy meant,
Are trials suffer'd, and afflictions sent;
To stem impetuous Passion's furious tide,
To curb the insolence of prosperous Pride,
To wean from earth, and bid our wishes soar
Where weary'd Virtue shall for refuge fly,
And every tear be wiped from every eye.
Listening to you, my heart can never cease
To reverence Virtue, and to sigh for peace.
Know, e'en Urania, that accomplish'd fair,
Whose goodness makes her Heaven's peculiar care,
Though born to all that affluence can bestow,
Has felt the deep reverse of human wo;
Yet meek in grief, and patient in distress,
She knew the hand that wounds has power to bless.
Grateful she bows, for what is left her still,
To Him whose love dispenses good and ill;
To Him who, while his bounty thousands fed,
Had not himself a place to lay his head;
To Him who, that he might our wealth insure,
Though rich himself, consented to be poor.
Taught by his precepts, by his practice taught
Her will submitted, and resigned her thought,
Through faith she looks beyond this dark abode,
To scenes of glory near the throne of God.
Enter Urania, Sylvia, Eliza.
Since, gentle Nymphs, my friendship to obtain,
You've sought wth eager step this peaceful plain,
My honest counsel with attention hear,
Though plain, well meant; imperfect, yet sincere;
What from maturer years alone I've known,
What time has taught me and experience shown.
No polish'd phrase my artless speech will grace,
But unaffected candour fill its place:
My lips shall Flattery's smooth deceit refuse;
And truth be all the eloquence I'll use.
Know then, that life's chief happiness and wo,
From good or evil education flow;
And hence our future dispositions rise;
The vice we practise, or the good we prize.
When pliant nature any form receives,
That precept teaches or examples gives.
The yielding mind with virtue should be graced,
For first impressions seldom are effaced.
Then holy habits, then chastised desires,
Should regulate disorder'd Nature's fires.
If Ignorance then, her iron sway maintain,
If Prejudice preside, or Passion reign,
If Vanity preserve her native sway,
If selfish tempers cloud the opening day,
If no kind hand impetuous pride restrain,
But for the wholesome curb we give the rein;
The erring principle is rooted fast,
And fix'd the habit that through life may last.
With heartfelt penitence we now deplore
Those squander'd hours, which time can ne'er restore.
Euphelia sighs for flattery, dress, and show;
Too common sources these of female wo!
In Beauty's sphere pre-eminence to find,
She slights the culture of th' immortal mind:
I would not rail at Beauty's charming power,
I would but have her aim at something more;
The fairest symmetry of form or face,
From intellect receives its highest grace;
The brightest eyes ne'er dart such piercing fires
As when a soul irradiates and inspires.
Beauty with reason needs not quite dispense,
And coral lips may sure speak common sense;
Beauty makes Virtue lovelier still appear:
Virtue makes Beauty more divinely fair!
Confirms its conquests o'er the willing mind,
And those your beauties gain, your virtues bind.
Yet would Ambition's fire your bosom fill,
Its flames repress not -- be ambitious still;
Let nobler views your best attention claim,
The object changed, the engergy the same;
Those very passions which our heart invade,
If rightly pointed, blessings may be made.
Indulge the truth ambition to excel
In that best art -- the art of living well.
But first extirpate from your youthful breast
That rankling torment which destroys your rest:
All other faults may take a higher aim,
But hopeless Envy must be still the same.
Some other passions may be turn'd to good,
But Envy must subdue, or be subdued.
This fatal gangrene to our moral life,
Rejects all palliatives, and asks the knife:
Excision spared, it tains the vital part,
And spreads its deadly venom to the heart.
Unhappy those to bliss who seek the way,
In power superior, or in splendour gay!
Inform'd by thee, no more vain man shall find
The charm of flattery taint Euphelia's mind:
By thee instructed, still my views shall rise,
Nor stop at any mark beneath the skies.
In fair Laurinda's uninstructed mind,
The want of culture, not of sense, we find:
Whene'er you sought the good, or shunn'd the ill,
'Twas more from temper than from principle;
Your random life to no just rules reduced,
'Twas chance the virtue of the vice produced.
The casual goodness Impulse has to boast,
Like morning dews, or transient showers is lost
While Heaven-taught virtue pours her constant tide,
Like streams by living fountains still supplied.
Be wisdom still, though late, your earnest care,
Nor waste the precious hours in vain despair:
Associate with the good, attend the sage,
And meekly listen to experienced age.
What, if acquirements you have fail'd to gain
Such as the wise may want, the bad attain;
Yet still Religion's sacred treasures lie
Inviting, open, plain to every eye.
For every age, for every genius fit,
Nor limited to science nor to wit;
Not bound by taste, to genius not confined,
But all may learn the truths for all designed.
Though low the talents, and th' acquirements small,
The gift of grace divine is free to all;
She calls, solicits, courts you to be blest,
And points to mansions of eternal rest.
And when, advanced in years, matured in sense,
Think not with further care you may dispense;
'Tis fatal to the interests of the soul
To stop the race before we've reach'd the goal;
For nought our higher progress can preclude
So much as thinking we're already good.
The human heart ne'er knows a state of rest,
Bad leads to worse, and better tends to best.
We either gain or lose, we sink or rise,
Nor rests our struggling nature till she dies;
Then place the standard of Perfection high,
Pursue and grasp it, e'en beyond the sky.
O that important Time could back return
Those mis-spent hours whose loss I deeply mourn
Accept, just Heaven, my penitence sincere,
My heartfelt anguish, and my fervant prayer!
I pity Pastorella's hapless fate,
By nature gentle, generous, mild and great:
One false propension all her powers confined,
And chain'd her finer faculties of mind;
Yet every virtue might have flourish'd there
With early culture and maternal care.
If good we plant not, Vice will fill the place,
And rankest weeds the richest soils deface.
Learn, how ungovern'd thoughts the mind pervert,
And to disease all nourishment convert.
Ah! happy she, whose wisdom learns to find
A healthful fancy, and a well-train'd mind!
A sick man's wildest dreams less wild are found
Than the day-visions of a mind unsound.
Disorder'd phantasies indulged too much,
Like harpies, always taint whate'er they touch.
Fly soothing Solitude! fly vain Desire!
Fly such soft verse as fans the dangerous fire!
Seek action; 'tis the scene which virtue loves:
The vigorous sun not only shines, but moves.
From sickly thoughts with quick abhorrence start,
And rule the fancy if you'd rule the heart:
By active goodness, by laborious schemes,
Subdue wild visions, and delusive dreams.
No earthly good a Christian's views should bound,
For ever rising should his aims be found.
Leave that fictitious good your fancy feigns
For scenes where real bliss eternal reigns:
Look to that region of immortal joys,
Where fear disturbs not, nor possession cloys;
Beyond what Fancy forms of rosy bowers,
Or blooming chaplets of unfading flowers;
Fairer than e'er imagination drew,
Or poet's warmest visions ever knew.
Press eager onward to those blissful plains
Where life eternal, joy perpetual reigns.
I mourn the errors of my thoughtless youth,
And long, with thee, to tread the paths of truth.
Learning is all the bright Cleora's aim;
She seeks the loftiest pinnacle of fame;
On interdicted ground presumes to stand,
And grasps at Science with a venturous hand;
The privilege of Man she dares invade,
And tears the chaplet from his laurel'd head.
Why found her merit on a foreign claim?
Why lose a substance to acquire a name?
Let the proud sex possess their vaunted powers;
Be other triumphs, other glories, ours!
The gentler charms which wait on female life,
Which grace the daughter and adorn the wife,
Be these our boast; yet these may well admit
Of various knowledge, and of blameless wit;
Of sense, resulting from a nurtured mind,
Of polish'd converse, and of taste refined:
Of that quick intuition of the best,
Which feels the graceful, and rejects the rest:
Which finds the right by shorter ways than rules:
An art which Nature teaches -- not the schools.
Thus conquering Sevigne the heart obtains,
While Dacier only admiration gains.
Know, fair Aspirer, could you even hope
To speak like Stonehouse, or to write like Pope,
To all the wonders of the Poet's lyre,
Join all that taste can add, or wit inspire,
With every various power of learning fraught,
The flow of style and the sublime of thought;
Yet if the milder graces of the mind,
Graces peculiar to the sex design'd,
Good nature, patience, sweetness void of art;
If these embellish'd not your virgin heart,
You might be dazzling, but not truly bright;
Might glare, but not emit an useful light;
A meteor, not a star, you would appear;
For Woman shines but in her proper shpere.
Accomplishments by Heaven were sure designed,
Less to adorn than to amend the mind:
Each should contribute to this general end,
And all to virtue, as their centre, tend.
Th' acquirements, which our best esteem invite,
Should not project, but soften, mix, unite:
In glaring light not strongly be display'd,
But sweetly lost, and melted into shade.
Confused with shame, to thy reproofs I bend,
Thou best adviser, and thou truest friend!
From thee I'll learn to judge and act aright,
Humility with Knowledge to unite:
The finish'd character must both combine,
The perfect woman must in either shine.
Florella shines adorn'd with every grace,
Her heart all virtue, as all charms her face:
Above the wretched, and below the great,
Kind Heaven has fix'd her in a middle state;
The demon Fashion never warp'd her soul,
Her passions move at Piety's control;
Her eyes the movements of her heart declare,
For what she dares to be, she dares appear;
Unlectured in Dissimulation's school,
To smile by precept, and to blush by rule,
Her thoughts ingenuous, ever open lie,
Nor shrink from close Inspection's keenest eye;
No dark disguise about her heart is thrown;
'Tis Virtue's interest fully to be known;
Her natural sweetness every heart obtains;
What Art and Affectation miss, she gains.
She smooths the path of my declining years,
Augments my comforts, and divides my cares.
O sacred Friendship! O exalted state!
The choicest bounty of indulgent fate!
Let Woman then her real good discern,
And her true interests of Urania learn:
As some fair violet, loveliest of the glade,
Sheds its mild fragrance on the lonely shade,
Withdraws its modest head from public sight,
Nor courts the Sun, nor seeks the glare of light;
Should some rude hand profanely dare intrude,
And bear its beauties from its native wood,
Exposed abroad its languid colours fly,
Its form decays, and all its odours die;
So Woman born to dignify retreat,
Unknown to flourish, and unseen be great,
To give domestic life its sweetest charm,
With softness polish, and with virtue warm,
Fearful of Fame, unwilling to be known,
Should seek but Heaven's applauses and her own;
Hers be the task to seek the lonely cell
Where modest want and silent anguish dwell:
Raise the weak head, sustain the feeble knees,
Cheer the cold heart, and chase the dire disease.
The splendid deeds which only seek a name,
Are paid their just reward in present fame;
But know, the awful all-disclosing day,
The long arrear of secret worth shall pay;
Applauding Saints shall hear with fond regard,
And He, who witness'd here, shall there reward.
With added grace she pleads Religion's cause,
Who from her life her virtuous lesson draws.
In vain, ye fair, from place to place you roam
For that true peace which must be found at home
Nor change of fortune, nor of scene can give
The bliss you seek, which in the soul must live.
Then look no more abroad; in your own breast
Seek the true seat of happiness and rest.
Nor small, my friends! the vigilance I ask;
Watch well yourselves, this is the Christian's task.
The cherish'd sin by each must be assail'd,
New efforts added, where the past have fail'd;
The darling error check'd, the will subdued,
The heart by penitence and pray'r renew'd.
Nor hope for perfect happiness below;
Celestial plants on earth reluctant grow:
He who our frail mortality did bear,
Though free from sin was not exempt from care.
Let's join to bless that Power who brought us here,
Adore his goodness, and his will revere;
Assured that Peace exists but in the mind,
And Piety alone that Peace can find.
In its true light this transient life regard:
This is a state of trial, not reward.
Though rough the passage, peaceful is the port,
The bliss is perfect, the probation short.
Of human wit beware the fatal pride;
An useful follower, but a dangerous guide:
On holy Faith's aspiring pinions rise;
Assert your birth-right, and assume the skies.
Fountain of Being! teach us to devote
To Thee each purpose, action, word, and thought!
Thy grace our hope, thy love our only boast,
Be all distinction in the Christian lost!
Be this in every state our wish alone,
Almighty, Wise and Good, Thy will be done!