The solemn hand of sable-suited night
Enwraps the silent earth with mantle drear;
Thick gathering clouds obscure fair CYNTHIA's light;
Nor shines one star the dusky scene to chear.
O'er the sad mansion, hid in aweful gloom,
The Æthiop darkness spreads her ebon sway;
Save that alone from yonder studious room
The wasting taper sheds a trembling ray.
Now, while the tenants of this sacred dome
Turn the grave page, or sink to soft repose,
Along the Gothic cloisters let me roam,
And, deep in thought, the tedious moments lose.
Now breathes the whistling wind a mournful song,
And pattering drops the drizzly tempest tell;
While Echo stalks the gloomy vaults among,
Sadly-responsive to the midnight bell.
And hark!—the staring owl with boding strain
Shrieks notes of terror from the learned grove.
Ah horrid sounds! full well ye soothe my pain!
Full well your music greets despairing love!
No longer now around the social bowl
I join the festive laugh, or sprightly lay;
But pour in ceaseless sighs my lovesick soul,
Till fades the lamp at bright AURORA's ray.
How at the fragrant hour of rising morn
Would eager transport throb in ev'ry vein,
To hear the swelling shout and jocund horn
Invite the hunter to the sportive plain!
But, ah, the gay delights of youth are fled!—
In sighs and tears my fading life I wear;
So the pale lilly hangs its drooping head,
When frosts untimely blast the ripening year.
Philosophy, thou guardian of the heart,
O come in all thy rigid virtue dressed!
With manly precept ease my killing smart,
And drive this tyrant from my wounded breast.
Oft would my eyes, disdaining balmy sleep,
The aweful labors of thy sons explore,
Fathom with restless toil each maxim deep,
And hang incessant o'er the sacred lore:
Alas! opposed to love how weak, how frail
Is all the reasoning of the unfeeling sage!
No forceful arm can o'er his power prevail;
No lenient hand the wounds he gives asswage.
Yes, tyrant, yes; thou must retain thy power,
Till my torn bosom yields to stronger Death:
Still must I love, even in that fatal hour,
And call on DELIA with my latest breath.
And when all pale my lifeless limbs extend,
And fate has sealed the irrevocable doom,
May then my memory find a faithful friend,
To write these votive numbers on my tomb:
'Here rests a youth, who, Love and Sorrow's slave,
'Gave up his early life to pining care,
'Till worn with woe he sought, in this calm grave,
'A safe retreat from comfortless Despair.'
So, when the stone lies o'er my clay-cold head,
If chance fair DELIA to the place draw near,
With one sad sigh she may lament me dead,
And bathe the senseless marble with a tear.
Beauty. Part I.
A POETICAL ESSAY.
The various powers by Nature's hand combin'd
To fill with harmony the raptur'd mind;
Whose forms, as diff'rent lustre they impart,
Or strike the senses, or exalt the heart,
My daring Muse unfolds;—resolv'd to trace
The glorious theme thro' ev'ry path of space;
Till borne aloft on Truth's triumphant wings
Boldly she rise, and soaring as she sings,
By Fancy urg'd, she shape her vent'rous flight
To those blest regions of supreme delight,
Where Beauty pours her noblest, brightest ray,
Amidst the mansions of eternal day.
Daughters of Albion; ye whose eyes dispense
The mildest beams of virgin innocence,
Whose charms by all the Graces are design'd,
Each the fair emblem of a fairer mind,
To you I dedicate this votive lay:—
With kind applause the pleasing labour pay:
Crown with your myrtle wreaths my artless lyre,
Nor scorn the numbers which yourselves inspire:
So shall my Muse the Poet's bay disclaim,
And prize your smiles, beyond the breath of Fame.
Come, sacred Nature! Nymph divinely bright!
Unfold thy prospects to my eager sight,
O'er flow'ry lawns, with thee, O, let me rove,
And tread the devious lab'rinth of the grove.
Come in the garb of simple grandeur dress'd,
And by thy precepts form my docile breast;
Clear ev'ry mist, and give my eyes to see,
That Beauty only is deriv'd from thee.
Teach me that ev'ry art in ev'ry age
Is but a transcript from thy perfect page,
Where imitation ever charms us most,
And the best model, is the noblest boast.
When the discerning sons of Greece and Rome
Bent the proud arch, and swell'd the stately dome,
E'er gothic structures idly pleas'd the heart,
With all the nice perplexities of art,
The glorious architects rever'd thy name,
And following Nature, found the road to fame.
While Gallic artists proud to shine alone
Amidst a new creation of their own,
Boast too refin'd a taste to suffer thee
To guide a riv'let, or to rear a tree;
But art, expence, and labour have combin'd,
To draw th' attention of the trifling mind,
That senseless crowds may view with ideot stare,
The watry column, and the spruce parterre.
Yet tho' Le Notre bade on ev'ry side
The dazzling garden spread its flow'ry pride,
While the unvaried lawn, and vista'd shade,
In lines, and squares were regularly laid;
Tho' proud Versailles, thro' marble fountains, play
Her tortur'd waters to the face of day,
Such scenes, which only charm us by surprize,
O! may I never view, but to despise:
My wand'ring footsteps rather deign to lead
Thro' the dark forest, or th' enamel'd mead;
Where winding streams divide the verdant vale,
And artless music floats in ev'ry gale.
Ye Nymphs of Pindus! who have still possess'd
From earliest infancy my raptur'd breast,
And thou, celestial Fancy, matchless maid!
Descend propitious to your vot'ry's aid,
Bear me to happier regions far away,
From whence Hyperion darts his ev'ning ray,
Where Beauty's native form was ne'er defac'd
By servile ignorance, and barb'rous taste,
But thro' luxuriant fields, and fragrant groves,
In innocence the peaceful savage roves:
Where lofty mountains lift their piny heads,
Where its green lap the vast savannah spreads,
Or where the congregated waters sweep
With foaming lapse, down Niagara's steep,
Can all the pride of tasteless artists vie
With objects vast as these!—in Reason's eye?
Where Beauty dwells amidst the spacious plains,
Dress'd in her richest pomp, for Nature reigns.
But say, to scenes of humbler grace unknown,
Dwells Beauty with magnificence alone?
And from Britannia's pleasing prospects hurl'd,
Deigns she alone to bless the western world?
Not so,—her lovely form is here display'd
In ev'ry leaf that forms the summer shade,
And ev'ry blooming flower, that paints the vernal glade.
Who stretch'd upon the green hill's breezy brow
Can see the various landscape spread below,
The village spire—the wreathing smoke ascend,
The forest wave, the thymy downs extend,
The shining river roll its silver stream
Thro' woods, impervious to the solar beam,
Or 'midst the meads in smooth mæanders glide,
While bending oziers stoop to kiss the tide,
Till in th' horizon faintly ting'd with blue,
The distant mountains close the pleasing view,
And not in ev'ry tint of Nature's hand,
See Beauty's form, and own her mild command?
When from the East the glorious orb of day
Pours on the burnish'd cliff a golden ray,
While pearly dew-drops, sprinkled by the morn,
Shine in the turf, or glitter on the thorn;
When splendid in meridian light array'd,
His piercing beams the woodland gloom pervade,
When wrap'd in misty ev'ning's silent reign,
Th' encreasing darkness steals across the plain,
Or when in virgin state, the Delian Queen
Drives her bright chariot thro' the blue serene,
While scatter'd round in fair confusion lie
The inferior glories of the vaulted sky:
When gently o'er the flower-empurpled vale,
The vernal zephyrs breathe a genial gale,
When as fierce summers sultry rays descend,
With blushing fruit the loaded branches bend,
When autumn crowns the hills with waving corn,
And pours profusion from his twisted horn,
While deep'ning shade on shade, the woods are seen
From the full crimson, to the faded green:
Or when the trees their leafy honours yield,
And chearless russet clads the dreary field;
When the cascade by wintry fetters tied,
Must cease to murmur, and the stream to glide;
While blows the storm, or falls the delug'd rain,
Or fleecy snows o'erspread the whiten'd plain,
And Nature, tho' her meanest garb she wears,
Majestic ev'n in misery appears.
In ev'ry season, ev'ry hour, I trace
Imperial Beauty! thy transcendent grace;
Behold each scene thy lovely form display,
And wond'ring, own thy universal sway.
Blest is the youth! on whose high-favour'd head
The sacred Nine their happy influence shed;
Inspir'd by them, his raptur'd eyes explore
The choicest objects of thy charming store.
For him their strains the sylvan warblers breathe,
For him fair Maia twines her flow'ry wreath,
Fragrant for him the morning breezes blow,
The poplar trembles, and the fountains flow,
Each charm of Nature strongly strikes his breast,
And Beauty shines supreme, by young ey'd Fancy dress'd.
Lenore, A Tale
LENÓRE wakes from dreams of dread
At the rosy dawn of day,
‘Art thou false, or art thou dead?
‘William wherefore this delay?’
Join'd with Frederick's host he sought
On Praga's bloody field, the foe,
Since no tidings had been brought
Of his weal, or of his woe.
Tir'd of war, the royal foes
Bid the storm of battle cease,
And in mutual compact close
Terms of amity, and peace;
Either host with jocund strain,
Drum, and cymbals chearing sound,
Seek their peaceful homes again,
All with verdant garlands crown'd.
Young and old, on every side
Croud the way, their friends to meet,
Many a mother, many a bride,
Sons, and husbands, fondly greet.
Pale and chearless mid the rest
Ah! the sad Lenore see!
None to clasp thee to his breast,
Not a glowing kiss for thee.
Now amid the warlike train
Running swift, with tearful eye,
All she asks, but all in vain.—
See the lingering rear pass by!—
Now she rends with frantic hand
Tresses of her raven hair,
Falling breathless on the sand,
Agonizing in despair.
Lo! with grief her mother wild.—
'Pitying heaven! look down with grace.—
'O my child! my dearest child!'
And clasps her in a fond embrace.
‘Ah my mother all is o'er;
‘Desart now the world will prove.—
‘Heaven no mercy has in store.
‘Ah my lost, my slaughter'd love!’
'Aid her Heaven! her grief appease.—
'Breathe my child a fervent prayer.
'Ever just are Heaven's decrees,
'Heaven is ever prompt to spare.'
‘Prayers alas! are useless all,
‘Heaven to me no mercy shews,
‘Vainly I for aid should call,
‘Unregarded are my woes.’
'Aid Lord! O aid! His parent sight
'Watchful guards each duteous child;
'Soon shall his high-honor'd rite
'Soothe to peace thy sorrows wild.'—
‘Ah! the pangs my heart that rive
‘Holy rites would soothe in vain;
‘Can they bid the dead revive?—
‘Bid my William breathe again?’
'Hear my child! in foreign lands
'Far away his troth he plights,
'Binds his faith by newer bands,
'Thee for newer loves he slights.—
'Unregarded let him rove,
'Short his visions of delight,
'Perjuries of treacherous love
'Heaven with vengeance will requite.'
‘Mother, time returns no more;
‘I am wretched, lost, forlorn;
‘Every hope but death is o'er,
‘Woe the hour that I was born!
‘Wrap me deep in night, and shade,
‘Far the light of life remove,
‘Heaven's mercy is no more display'd,
‘O my Love, my murder'd love!’
'God of Mercy! Hear! O hear!
'Frantic sorrow makes her wild;
'Judge not in thy wrath severe,
'Spare, O spare thy tortur'd child.
'O my child, forget thy woe,
'Lift to heaven thy sorrowing eye
'Endless blessings there to know,
'Bridal joys that never die.'
‘Mother, what is endless bliss?
‘Endless pain, what, Mother?—Tell
‘All my Heaven was William's kiss,
‘William's loss is all my hell.
‘Far the light of life remove,
‘Night and horror shroud my head.
‘Can I live to mourn my love?
‘Can I joy when William's dead?’
Thus the frenzy of despair
Thro' her swelling veins was driven,
Thus her madd'ning accents dare
War against the will of heaven;
Frantic thro' the live-long day
Her breast she beat, her hands she wrung,
Till Sol withdrew his golden ray,
And heaven's high arch with stars was hung.
Thro' the stillness of the night
Hark!—a horse—he this way bends.—
Now she hears the rider 'light,
Now his foot the step ascends.
Hark?—the tinkling gate bell rung
Now her listening senses hear.—
Accents from a well-known tongue
Thro' the portal reach her ear.
'Rise my love—the bar remove—
'Dost thou wake or dost thou sleep?
'Think'st thou of thy absent love?—
'Dost thou laugh or dost thou weep?'—
‘William! Thou?—From sorrow's power
‘I have learn'd to weep, and wake.
‘Whence in midnight's gloomy hour,
‘Whence his course does William take?’
'We can only ride by night.—
'From Bohemia's plains I come,
'Late, ah late I come, but dight
'To bear thee to my distant home.'—
‘William! William! hither haste.
‘Thro' the hawthorn blows the wind,
‘In my glowing arms embraced
‘Rest, and warmth, my love shall find.’
'Thro' the hawthorn let the winds
'Keenly blow with breath severe,
'The Courser paws, the spur he finds,
'Ah! I must not linger here.
'Lightly on the sable steed
'Come, my love,—behind me spring.
'Many a mile o'erpast with speed,
'To our bride-bed shall thee bring.'
‘Many a mile o'er distant ground
‘Ere our nuptial couch we reach?—
‘The iron bells of midnight sound,
‘Soon the midnight fiends will screech.’—
'See how clear the moon's full ray,
'Soon the dead's swift course is sped,
'Long, O long ere dawn of day
'We shall reach the bridal bed.'
‘Who shall tend thy nuptial bower
‘Who thy nuptial couch shall spread?’
'Silent, cold, and small, our bower,
'Form'd of planks our nuptial bed.
'Yet for me, for thee there's space—
'Lightly on the courser bound,
'Deck'd is now our bridal place,
'Guests expecting wait around.'
Won by fond affection's charm
On the horse she lightly sprung,
Roud her love, her lilly arm
Close the love-sick virgin flung.
On they press their rapid flight
Swifter than the whirlwind's force,
Struck from flints a sparkling light
Marks the steed's unceasing course.
On the left, and on the right,
Heaths, and meads, and fallow'd grounds,
Seem receding from their sight;
How each bridge they pass resounds.
'Fears my Love?—The moon shines clear,
'Swift the course of death is sped.
'Does my Love the dead now fear?'—
‘No, ah! no!—Why name the dead?’
Hark! The solemn dirge, and knell!
Croaking round the raven flies,—
Hear the death song!—hear the bell—
See a grave fresh opened lies.
See the sad funereal rite,
See the coffin and the bier,
Hear the shriek of wild affright,
Groans of lamentation hear!
'While sounds the dirge, while death-bells ring,
'The corpse interr'd at midnight see.—
'Home my blooming bride I bring,
'You our bridal guests must be.—
'Sexton come, come with thy choir,
'Songs of love before us sing;
'O'er the couch of fond desire
'Priest thy nuptial blessings fling.'
Down the sable bier was laid,
Hush'd the knell, and hush'd the dirge.
All his voice at once obey'd.
All their flight behind him urge.
On the steed still speeds his flight,
Swifter than the whirlwind's force;
Struck from flints the flashing light
Distant marks his rapid course.
To the left, and to the right,
As they pass with lightning speed,
Mountains vanish from their sight,
Streams, and woods, and towns recede.
'Fears my love?—The moon shines clear.—
'Swift the course of death is sped,—
'Does my Love the dead now fear?'—
‘Leave, ah leave at peace the dead.’
Wheels, and racks, and gibbets, see
By the pale moon's trembling glance;
Crowding sprites, with horrid glee,
Round the seats of terror dance:
'Come, ye goblins! hither come,
'Hither let your footsteps tread,
'Follow to our distant home,
'Dance around our bridal bed.'
Soon they hear, and follow fast,
Loudly murmuring as they move,
Like the shrill autumnal blast
Whistling thro' the wither'd grove.
Far the steed now speeds his flight,
Swifter than the whirlwind's force,
Struck from flints the flashing light
Distant marks his rapid course.
Far, shewn by the moon's pale light,
Far the distant landscape flies.
Far, receding from their sight,
Fly the clouds, the stars, the skies.
'Fears my Love?—The moon shines clear.—
'Swift the course of death is sped.
'Does my Love the dead now fear?'—
'Leave! O leave at rest, the dead.
'Crows the cock—dark courser hear—
'Soon the sand will now be run.
'Now I scent the morning air,
'Sable steed thy toil is done;—
'Now our labour is compleat;
'Swift's the passage of the dead;
'We have reach'd our destin'd seat,
'Open now the nuptial bed.'
'Gainst an iron-grated door
Fierce with loosen'd rein he drives;
The ponderous bars resist no more,
Even a touch their hinges rives.
Over tombs with clattering sound
Now they urge their destin'd way;
Scatter'd grave-stones gleam around
In the wan moon's glimmering ray.
Turn, O instant turn, the eye,
See a ghastly wonder shewn!—
The horseman's flesh, like tinder dry,
Drops piecemeal from each naked bone.
From the skull now falls the hair,
Drear the death-like Phantom stands,
A skeleton expos'd and bare,
Scythe and hour-glass in his hands.
See the black steed wildly rear—
Sparkling streams of horrid light
From his snorting nostrils glare,
Down he sinks to endless night.—
On the breeze loud shrieks are borne,
Groan the graves with boding breath;
Lenore's heart by tortures torn,
Vibrates now 'tween life and death.
Hand and hand in fatal ring
By the pale moon's fading ray,
Demons round them dance, and sing,
Howling forth this dreadful lay.—
'Patient bear th' heart-rending blast,
'Wage not impious war with Heaven,
'Here on earth thy days are past.
'Mercy to thy soul be given!'
The Parsonage Improved
Where gentle Deva's lucid waters glide
In slow meanders thro' the winding vale,
And fertile Cestria's pastures green divide;
Deep in the bosom of a sheltering dale
By uplands guarded from the wintry gale,
In rustic site a lowly village stands,
Not laid in form exact with artful scale,
But scatter'd wide by Chance's careless hands
'Mid woods, and breezy hills, and lawns, and fallow'd lands.
Here by the verdant margin of the flood
'Mid osiers dank the humble cottage lies,
And here emerging from the bowering wood
From chimnies low the curling steams arise,
Here on the heath adorn'd with purple dyes
The open casement drinks the ambrosial air,
While pointing boldly to the ambient skies,
The taper steeple marks the house of prayer,
Where to the holy rite the village race repair.
Here erst a simple fabric might you see,
The peaceful mansion of the Parish Priest:
Though unadorn'd with costly symmetry
No splendid portal woo'd the noble guest,
Yet from his lowly door the gentle breast
Was never by unfeeling menace driven,
While Charity in robe of ermine dress'd
Beheld her scanty offerings freely given;
Nor shall her smallest boon escape the eye of heaven.
Though proud Magnificence with splendid arm
Had here no vast superfluous pomp display'd,
Yet Neatness was at hand with simpler charm,
And each domestic comfort lent it's aid.
Though no extended lawns, no forest-shade
Struck with astonishment the enchanted sight,
Yet the small spot in Beauty stood array'd,
Since all around by Husbandry was dight,
For well such cultur'd scenes the placid sense delight.
Right to the golden sun's meridian ray
Healthful, and gay, the chearful front was placed:
Where no Acanthus twin'd with mimic spray
To crown the column of Corinthian taste;
By the soft tendrils of the vine embraced
O'er the slop'd roof the vivid shoots extend,
Now with festoons of leaves luxuriant graced,
And now, as Autumn's ripening beams descend,
Loaded with swelling fruit, the purple clusters bend.
A Garden trim was placed before the door
Kept by diurnal toil in neat array,
By walls defended from the insults frore
Of Boreas' blast, and Eurus' rude affray;
Against whose height leant many a tender spray,
Where the ripe fruits in blushing order glow,
Matur'd by genial Sol's reflected ray:
Nor did their sides unwelcome walk bestow
When though the sun be bright, right keen the winds might blow.
The gravel'd paths by rule exact design'd
In equal parts the cultur'd plot divide,
Where culinary plants of various kind
From every eye the thick espaliers hide,
Beneath, the border deck'd with Flora's pride
Exhibits to the view unnumber'd dyes,
Where in succession through each changing tide
Attentive art the varying plants supplies,
Still to enchant the smell, and fascinate the eyes.
Here venturing on the verge of Winter's power
The Snowdrop, Aconite, and Crocus grow,
The pallid Primrose hails the vernal hour,
And humbly sweet the azure Violets blow,
The Lilies of the vale their fragrance throw,
In meretricious pride the Tulip blooms,
Their gaudy pomp the rich Carnations show,
And, o'er the rest who regal power assumes,
The Rosier's fragrant bud the passing gale perfumes.
Nor did Pomona's treasure less abound
Alternate as the months their power display;
Here crept the fragrant Strawberry on the ground,
Or wav'd the Cherry on the loaded spray,
Here glow'd the Nectarine in the Summer ray,
Here swell'd the Peach all-tempting to the view,
Nor was the Gooseberry's meaner fruit away,
Or Currant red or rich in golden hue,
Or Pear with sugar'd juice, or Plum of glossy blue.
Nor will the Muse disdain with curious eye,
Beyond the thick espalier's verdant skreen,
Amid the vegetable tribes to pry
That spread their shoots the bordering paths between;
Salubrious viands for the board I ween!—
With various dainties was the ground o'erspread,
The Cabbage yellow, and the Colewort green,
The Asparagus that springs in lowly bed,
And Artichokes that rear aloft the spiny head.
The Bean whose perfume scents the ambient skies,
The twining Pea, the Turnip's juicy root,
The Celery that winter's blast defies,
The Radish warm, the Carrot's vigorous shoot,
The rich Potatoe fam'd Ierne's fruit
Sacred to Venus in the genial hour,
The Leek whose steams the hasty Cambrian suit,
With ample head the swelling Cauliflower,
And Lettuce friendly deem'd to Morpheus' drowsy power.
An Orchard too adjoin'd whose vernal hue
Might shame the costly shrubbery's proudest dyes,
Whose daisy'd sod delights the roving view,
And pasture to the gentle steed supplies;
While the bland influence of Autumnal skies
Ripen'd the ruddy fruit of general use,
Either to crown the board with luscious pies,
Or bid the goblet smile with mantling juice,
Bright as the generous wines that Southern climes produce.
Nor was there wanting ornamental care,
The Arbor, seat of Summer jollity,
Where Eglantines perfum'd the evening air,
And Woodbines sweet, and Jasmins fair to see;
Here sometimes from each scene of tumult free
Would Contemplation lift her eye divine,
And sometimes Mirth excite to social glee,
While bright with amber hue the beer would shine,
Or blush the crystal cup with Lusitania's wine.
Should vagrant Fancy tempt the foot to stray
Beyond the Garden's or the Orchard's bound,
Through green inclosures led the winding way
Which the live fence, and leafy hedge-row mound;
While gently gliding through the enamell'd ground
A silver stream with placid current flows,
Whose shelving bank with vivid alders crown'd
A site convenient to the Angler shews
While the delusive fly with skilful hand he throws.
Pleas'd and contented with his calm abode
The reverend Pastor liv'd in quiet state,
The path heaven mark'd he unrepining trod,
Lov'd by the Poor, respected by the Great:
The Harpy Envy, and the Fury Hate,
Far from his gentle flock he drove away,
Till bent at length by Time's increasing weight
His failing powers with gradual lapse decay,
Secure in happier climes to bloom again for aye.
From those fair seats by Isis' sedgy side
Where Rhedecyna rears her hundred spires,
His holy Successor is soon supplied.
His beating bosom swells with new desires;
For by the blest attainment he acquires
A right from monkish cloisters to remove,
Light a pure flame at Wedlock's sacred fires,
And all the scenes of untried rapture prove,
Which crown the mystic couch of Hymeneal Love.
With eager haste he seeks his new abode,
Keen Hope anticipating each delight;
But o'er the little Empire as he strode
It's vulgar Beauties fade upon his sight,
For forms of elegance had charm'd his sprite.
The alley trim offends his nicer taste,
And each compartment rang'd in angles right,
Nor can he see by Husbandry debas'd
Nature's imperial mien with simple Beauty graced.
Much in his mind he bore each lovely seat
That fair Oxonia's neighbouring plains display,
How would his raptur'd heart with transports beat
Through shady Ditchley's spreading groves to stray,
Or as on Nuneham's breezy heights he lay
To view the bending stream of Isis flow
Through meadows rich in all the pride of May,
Or pace the polish'd scenes of princely Stowe,
Or fill his sated eye on Blenheim's towery brow.
Nor need he wander from the Muses shade
To view improving taste's progressive power:
No more in knots by skill capricious laid
Does tonsile box sage Wickham's arms embower.—
Where pious Laud design'd the hallow'd tower
Throws Art her vesture with a chaster hand;
While, welcome refuge from the sultry hour!
By cooling gales with gentle pinions fann'd
Merton's delightful groves with gloomy foliage stand.
Here Ma'dlen too her splendid dome surveys,
Or venerable shade, in Cherwell's stream.—
O witching Memory assist my lays,
And steep my senses in thy soothing dream!
Here wandering oft by Cynthia's silver beam
My youthful Fancy woo'd the sacred Nine,
Or plied by midnight lamp the graver theme,
Or joy'd with Mirth's convivial sons to join,
Or paid the fervent vow at Friendship's holy shrine.
While thus the powers of Elegance unfold
Their Faery visions to his dazzled view,
With scorn his eyes the homely spot behold;—
Anxious the steps of Nature to pursue,
On humbler scale his eager thoughts renew
Whate'er the sons of genuine taste admire,
Whate'er the hands of Brown and Shenstone drew,
Or Wheatley's sober diction could inspire,
Or wak'd the sounding strings of Mason's heavenly Lyre.
Now the strong laborer with repeated blow
Each old incumbring ornament assails,
The guardian wall, it's sheltering height laid low
Admits the Fury of the eastern gales.—
Ah! what it's strength the buttress now avails
That safely kept the garden's flowery scene!—
Spreads the slight fence it's ineffectual rails
Painted by curious Art of dusky green,
Where oft the sportful lambs, destructive creep between.
The espaliers thick with blushing fruitage gay,
The flowing border stretch'd with careful line,
The vegetable viands, all give way,
And low their heads the orchard-trees recline;
While spread abroad with uniform design
The unvaried grass-plot dank extends around
Chequer'd with ragged clumps of sombre pine,
And sinks the deep Haha it's subtle mound,
That nothing from the plain the garden scene may bound.
Close by the border winds with tortur'd course
The gravel'd path it's undulating way,
Where evergreens that mock stern winter's force,
And flowering shrubs their different dyes display.
The Cypress dark, the Lilac's barren spray,
Succeed each useful plant's superior blow,
And as the owner's eyes the work survey
He sees with joy each fair improvement grow,
And deems his little reign a Blenheim or a Stowe.
Now issuing from the garden to the fields
As Taste capricious bares her active arm,
It's leafy shade the lofty Hedgerow yields,
And quits the lofty fence it's fragrant charm:
Nought can it's vernal sweets the stroke disarm,
Low on the earth it's blooming glory lies,
Where erst the pathway shelter'd lay and warm,
And o'er the scene the scatter'd clumps arise
No guard from wintry winds, no shade from sultry skies.
The brook that gently through the level meads
As Nature's hand directed us'd to wind,
Obedient follows now as Fashion leads
In curves is tortur'd, or in lakes confin'd;
While to the hands of Industry consign'd
No more the bending osiers kiss the tide,
Where oft the silent fisher lay reclin'd;
And from the force of Sol's meridian pride
The Naiad tries in vain her throbbing breast to hide.
The work compleated, now survey the scene
Rich in the dress of ornamental Taste,
Each useful plant of humbler homelier green
By barren elegance is now replaced,
While as if seated on the open waste
Unshelter'd, uninclos'd the house appears:
And by no Arts of Husbandry debas'd,
The frequent weed uncheck'd it's offspring rears,
And the rude common's garb the scanty paddock wears.
Wanting the Scythe that each returning dawn
Rank Vegetation's progress should correct,
Unsightly tufts deform the grassy lawn,
Nor can the corded fence the shrubs protect.
Oft will the Shepherd Boy his charge neglect
And crouding Flocks the rising clumps invade,
Oft 'mid the paths by care domestic deck'd
The steed's unseemly ordure will be laid,
And oft the swine obscene uproot the verdant glade.
And here perchance, bending his beetled brow,
Some angry Critic scornful shall exclaim:
‘What Gothic Wight is this, who dares avow
‘To scorn of British Arts the fairest name,
‘Who wishes to recall with Idiot aim
‘What Elegance has banish'd from our shore,
‘Would blast the rural wreath of Albion's fame
‘The ancient forms of Folly to restore,
‘And bid the spruce Parterre usurp her seats once more?’
Far be such blame! no Briton's eye can see
With greater joy the rural taste arise,
Spread wide in native pomp the untortur'd tree,
And the plain turf succeed the tulips dyes,
As Nature boon her simple charm supplies
Dress'd by the hand of Cultivation fair,
Where Art alone the curious eye descries
By shining every lawn with neater air,
The sod's more glossy green, the gardener's nicer care.
When Grandeur spreads around the extended park
Let lavish Nature plan the bold design,
The polish'd culture shall the boundary mark,
And graced, not cramp'd by Art, the Work shall shine:
No need the rule, the level, and the line,
Should 'midst the shades intrude with formal mien,
The splendid walk, the verdant carpet fine,
The contrast bright of variegated green,
Shall shew that artful care has form'd the extensive scene.
But when scant Fortune checks this flattering joy,
Nor gives to ornament the rural reign,
Why the trim Garden's lowlier charms destroy?—
Why Husbandry's more homely cares disdain?—
If Industry with her assiduous train
With step reluctant from the spot recedes,
What features shall distinguish Taste's domain
From the expanse of pastures, and of meads,
But Culture's looser robe, and more luxuriant weeds?
A POETICAL ESSAY.
By gay Amusement's soul-subduing power
To chear the mournful or the vacant hour,
In fancy's freakful gambols to delight,
Or wage with active limbs the mimic fight,
In earlier times, to breasts mature unknown,
Were cares of playful infancy alone;
Nor did soft dissipation's art assuage
The toils of manhood, or the pains of age.
Not from mankind alone these rules we draw,
Oft warp'd by prejudice from nature's law:
But brutes, who with unbiass'd step pursue
The eternal canons they from instinct drew,
Confirm beyond a doubt this striking truth,
That sports are native attributes of youth.
The lamb frisks wanton o'er the dewy ground,
The kitten hunts its tail in fruitless round;
But o'er the down the ewes all pensive stray,
And grave grimalkin silent waits her prey,
Save when maternal fondness bids her share
The frolick pastimes of her youthful care.
Even so, ere social compact bids arise
Unnumber'd wants, and every want supplies,
Of childhood's joys no evanescent trace
Delights man's sullen solitary race;
For, if his eager footstep haunt the wood,
He urges not the chace for sport but food;
Fierce as the hungry pard, with ravening haste,
Joyless and fell, he prowls the gloomy waste.
And if perchance in polish'd times we find
Pleasure more inmate of the female mind,
Say what forbids our serious thought to draw
The smiling preference from nature's law,
And view the mother's fondness that beguil'd
By kindred sports the sorrows of her child?
Far, far from me be that malignant train,
Who scowl severe on pleasure's silken reign;
Oft may her magic touch with sportive power
Chear the dull languor of the tedious hour;
For hours there are, when the o'er-labor'd sense
Shrinks from the serious toil or thought intense.
Oft to Amusement's visionary sway
The real ills that poison life give way.
In Lydia's plains, so tells the enchanting page
Of Hist'ry's aweful sire the Carian sage,
In Lydia's plains, what time with wasting hand
Remorseless famine ravaged all the land,
And the starv'd native on Pactolus' shore
Ey'd the shrunk wave and curs'd the useless ore,
By sports of art inventive fancy sought
To turn from pinching want the tortur'd thought;
Their fascinating power the mind engag'd,
And hunger for a while unheeded rag'd.
How will Amusement's foes delight to trace
The dreary leisure of the savage race,
Or with imagination's eye pervade
The lonesome refuge of the Indian's shade,
When all the labors of the chace are o'er,
Hunger appeas'd, and sleep can lull no more!
Or let them picture to their aching sight
The lengthen'd horrors of a polar night,
Where, till returning spring dissolves the snow,
No dawning light shall gild the mountain's brow,
Nor can the native ply his needful toil,
Chace the rough bear or turn the ungrateful soil;
Chearless and unemploy'd, condemn'd to wear
In listless apathy the wintry year.
When agriculture to the fertile plain
Lur'd from the barren waste the improving swain,
Soon partial property, with selfish plan,
Her favorites cull'd, and sorted man from man.
Then lusty labor bade the harvest rise
To sate the lazy owner's pamper'd eyes;
Who, deeming useful toil beneath his care,
Pass'd all his hours in indolence and war,
Or sought in peace by dangerous sports to gain
A mimic semblance of the martial plain,
Rov'd 'mid the forest haunts with wild delight,
And wag'd with beasts of prey the unequal fight,
Or with his fellow warriors joy'd to wield
In friendly strife the weapons of the field,
In sportive exercise the javelin threw,
Pois'd the long lance, or bent the twanging yew.
Hence Grecia's chiefs the prize triumphant bore
From Pisa's groves or Isthmus' wave-worn shore,
While garlands of eternal fame inspire
The kindling raptures of a Pindar's lyre,—
Hence in the tournament the mail-clad knight
Provok'd his peers to dare the listed fight,
Urg'd his barb'd courser to the swift career,
And broke in beauty's cause the ashen spear,
While to the warbling harp's responsive string,
Applauding bards the victor's triumph sing.
Nor was the humbler swain, who till'd the ground,
Condemn'd to labor's unremitting round;
For, when the plenteous produce of the soil
Stor'd in full garners pays his annual toil,
Or when their fleecy weight his flocks resign,
Or laughing autumn swells the purple vine,
As pious cares his grateful mind employ,
He consecrates the hallow'd hours to joy;
Stretch'd on the turf the blazing hearth around,
While by the talking eld the bowl is crown'd,
With sinewy limbs the rustic youth contend,
Or to the mark the unerring javelin send,
And from the village maid's approving eyes
The jocund victor gains the fairest prize.
When opulence assum'd his golden reign,—
With luxury and science in his train,
And beauty, man's fastidious empire o'er,—
Join'd in the scenes she only judg'd before,
The vacant hours to gentler toils invite,—
Than the rude image of the bleeding sight;
Each coarse delight to softer joy gives place,
And sports of labor yield to sports of grace.—
Responsive to the lyre's inspiring sound,
In mingled measure now they beat the ground,
Now on the chequer'd field with silent care
Attentive wage the sedentary war.
Even manlier exercise the arts despoil
Of half its danger, and of half its toil:
No more the knight, in shining armour dress'd,
Opposes to the pointed lance his breast;
Scarce does the skilful fencer's bosom feel
The pliant pressure of the bated steel;
For the stupendous quoit or craggy stone,
Afar with emulous contention thrown,
Deliver'd with inferior force is seen
The bowl slow-rolling o'er the shaven green;
Or else, defended from inclement skies,
The ball rebounding from the racket flies;
Or o'er the cloth, impell'd by gentler skill,
The ivory orbs the net insidious sill.
Even in those rougher transports of the chace,
Where nature's genuine form we seem to trace,
And art appears unequal to supply
Assistance to the calls of luxury,
For the wild tenants of the wood and plain
Still their primæval character retain,
Still will their wiles the experienc'd hunter foil,
And still fatigue attend on cold and toil;
Even in the forest-walks has polish'd care
Taught healthful sport a gentler form to wear.
Swoln opulence is not content to stray
In anxious search thro' many a tedious day,
Where constant hopes the eager thought employ,
And expectation doubles every joy:
But the wing'd tribe, by care domestic bred,
Watch'd with attention, with attention fed,
Where'er the sportsman treads in clouds arise,
Prevent his wish, and sate his dazzled eyes;
And each redoubled shot with certain aim
Covers the ensanguin'd field with home-bred game—
Transporting joy! to vulgar breasts unknown,
Save to the poulterer and cook alone;
Who search the crouded coop with equal skill,
As sure to find, almost as sure to kill.
No more the courser with attentive eyes
'Mid the rank grass and tangled stubble pries,
Till, many an hour in watchful silence pass'd,
A moment's frenzy pays his toil at last.
No chearful beagle now, at early dawn,
Explores with tender nose the dewy lawn,
Avows the recent path with carol sweet,
And trails the listening leveret to her seat;
Stretch'd on the couch the lazy sportsmen lie,
Till Sol ascending gilds the southern sky,
And leave the hind, with mercenary care,
To seek the refuge of the lurking hare.
Dullest of all pursuits, why mention here
The chace inglorious of the stall-fed deer?
When even that generous race who justly claim
Toilsome pre-eminence of sylvan fame,
Who joy to lay with sanguine vengeance low
The sheepfold and the henyard's treacherous foe;
Even they who us'd, ere morn's first opening light,
To trace the skulking felon of the night,
With slacken'd vigor now their sports delay,
Till Phoebus pours the orient beams of day.
Nor does the drag, evaporating soon,
Beneath the warmer influence of noon,
Frustrate their hopes; for, bearing in their mind
That well-known adage, 'Those that hide can find,'
Sure of success, the covert they explore,
For foxes turn'd adrift the night before.
But say, is this the pastime of the fields,
Where panting expectation rapture yields?—
Coldly the certain victim we pursue,
And losing doubt we lose the transport too.
If such the texture luxury has thrown
O'er scenes confin'd to ruder man alone,
What shall we find them when the gentler fair
Mix with the band and every pleasure share?—
Not those bold dames who join the rustic train,
Chear the staunch hound, the fiery courser rein;
Or those to point the feather'd shaft who know,
And joy 'to bear, and draw the warrior bow.'
O may Britannia's nymphs such arts despise,
Content alone to conquer with their eyes!
For Omphale as ill the lion's spoil
Becomes, as Hercules the distaff's toil;
But such as haunt the seats of courtly fame,
Where female charms the first attention claim,
And their contending powers the arts employ
To ravish every sense with every joy.—
The splendid theatre's refulgent round,—
With pomp, with elegance, with beauty crown'd.—
Not that I mean whose homelier scenes invite
To tales of grief, of humour, of delight,
Where Shakespear's honied style enthralls the ear,
Wakes the loud laugh, or draws the heart-felt tear—
Shakespear! ador'd in these degenerate days,
To whom we hymns inscribe, and temples raise,
Worship his image, and neglect his plays.—
Ah! who the evening's festal hours will quit
For scenes of tragic woe or comic wit?—
Scenes of a purer polish must engage
The loose attention of a courtly age;
Scenes where satiric point ne'er gives offence,
Or verse disturbs its placid stream with sense;
Where from Hesperian fields the eunuch train
Trill with soft voice the unimpassion'd strain,
In measur'd cadence while the dancers art
Wakes without words the feelings of the heart.
Delightful joys! of universal power,
Suited to every taste and every hour,
Since the loose drama no connexion ties,
And all may judge who trust their ears and eyes.—
See in majestic swell yon festive dome,
Like the Pantheon of imperial Rome,
And where as many fabled forms unite,
Visions of bliss or demons of affright.
Or, sought in vernal hours, that ampler space
Where beauty's steps the eternal circle trace,
And midnight revelry delights her soul
With breezes redolent of tea and roll,
In fragrant steam while thro' the crouded room
The Arabian berry yields its rich perfume,
And 'mid the murmurs of the mingled throng
Unheeded music swells the slighted song;
Or, Lent's delight, the Oratorio dull,
Of yawning connoisseurs and coxcombs full;
When, plays profane deny'd, our ears explore
The pious freaks of Alexander's whore;
The rout repeated with incessant call,
The formal concert, and the mirthless ball.—
Say is this joy?—Yes, to the virgin's heart
First stung by potent love's resistless smart;
Who 'mid the empty croud of silken beaux
Her glance on one distinguish'd fav'rite throws;
Yes, to the insidious wretch whose guilty care
Hunts artless virtue into vice's snare,
Whose every thought and action is address'd
To wound a parent's or a husband's breast,
Or that more gross tho' less pernicious tribe
Who venal beauty's joyless favors bribe;
Yes, to the rural nymph of distant plains
Who three sweet months of charming London gains;
Yes, to the youth escap'd from smoke and trade
To shew the western town his stol'n cockade:—
To these, where passion gently soothes the breast,
Or vice affords their joys a guilty zest;
Or novelty, fair pleasure's youthful queen,
Gives fresh allurements to each splendid scene,
To these, in fancy's varying mirror shown,
Amusement charms with beauties not its own.—
To all the rest, with listless mind who fly
To midnight crouds from languor's leaden eye,
To the full circle run from home-felt care,
Then start to meet the ghastly spectre there,
The night of revel wears as dull away
As to th' o'erlabor'd hind the tedious day.—
Of these our joys how transient then the state,
Since still disgust must on possession wait!
Pleasure we all pursue with eager pace,
Yet lose the quarry when we lose the chace;
Thro' fancy's medium when our view we bend,
Ten thousand charms the ideal form attend;
Shewn plainly to our disappointed eyes
The enchantment breaks, and every beauty flies.—
The sprightly boy who draws in shadowy plan
The future pleasures of the envied man,
His father's hounds in all his brothers views,
And warm a visionary fox pursues;
Or else, like Hecat', mounted on a broom
His fancied racer spurs around the room;
Tho' airy phantoms then his mind employ,
Yet then he feels more true substantial joy
Than all the sports of ripen'd age shall gain
From Meynell's hunt, or fam'd Newmarket's plain.
Yet not alone to rich Augusta's towers,
A nation's wealth where dissipation showers;
Or Bladud's walls, in rising splendor dress'd,
Proud of the healing fount, and frequent guest;
Or those unnumber'd shores where fashion laves
Her jaded limbs in ocean's briny waves;—
Not to these seats, for courtly haunts design'd,
Is pleasure's universal reign confin'd:
Britannia scarcely owns a town so small
As not to boast its periodic ball,
Where, when full-orb'd, Diana pours her light,
And gilds the darkness of the wintry night,
The village beaux and belles their hours employ—
In the full swing of fashionable joy:—
Aside the unfinish'd handkerchief is thrown,
And the fair sempstress adjusts her own;
The apothecary quits the unpounded pill,
Even the attorney drops his venal quill,
And, as his eyes the sprightly dance behold,
Forgets to drain the widow's purse of gold.—
To these 'tis joy.—But even the courtly train,
Anxious the dregs of pleasure's bowl to drain,
When, fully sated with each splendid show
That elegance and grandeur can bestow,
To rural solitude they fly, will there
This faint reflection of amusement share.
When from Southampton's or from Brighton's shore,
Which charm'd when London's revelry was o'er,
The fading beauty of autumnal hours,
Recalls the sportsman to his native bowers,
To tell his neighbours all the toils of state,
Recount of public cares the enormous weight,
And how he slumber'd thro' the long debate;
His wife and daughters quit the Gothic hall
To taste the raptures of the rustic ball.
The high-born misses, insolent and vain,
Scorn while they mingle with the homely train,
Still at the top, in spite of order, stand,
And hardly touch a mean plebeian hand;
While madam, eager 'mid the card-room's strife,
Insults the lawyer's and the curate's wife,
Now smiles contemptuous, now with anger burns,
And domineers and scolds, and cheats by turns;
Pleas'd on the village gentry to retort
Slights she receives from dutchesses at court.
But what are these, by starts alone pursu'd,
These partial errors of the moon?—when view'd
By that assemblage of each rustic grace,
That cynosure of joy, a county race;
Where, with fatigue and dulness in her train,
Provincial pleasure holds her proudest reign?
O that my Muse in equal verse could tell
Each varied object which she knows so well!—
The crowded ordinary's loud repast,
The frequent bumper swallow'd down in haste,
The rattling carriage driven with drunken speed,
The bawling hawker, and the restive steed,
The proffer'd bet with interjection strong,
And the shrill squallings of the female throng;
The sounding hoof, the whip's coercive sound,
As the fleet coursers stretch along the ground,
When the repeated oath and menace loud
Warn from the listed course the pressing croud;
The various horrors of the narrow lane,
As the promiscuous heaps the town regain,
Where coaches, waggons, horsemen, footmen, all
Rush eager to the alehouse, or the ball;
The fragrant toilette of the crouded room,
The stables and the kitchen's mix'd perfume;
The minuet's sober note till midnight drawn,
The gayer dance beyond the hour of dawn,
While the vex'd gamester at his rubber hears
The eternal tune still droning in his ears;
The supper, circling toast, and choral lay,
Protracted far into the solid day;
The interrupted sleep, till noon again
Rouse to the early feast the drowsy train,
And to the bev'rage of the Indian weed
The smoking haunch and mantling bowl succeed.—
Is this Amusement?—Ask the county knight,
Press'd into pleasure in his own despight,
Who, quitting all the placid joys of home
For seven months session in St. Stephen's dome,
Compell'd each office of fatigue to share,
And every quarter fill the Quorum's chair,
Must all these mingled forms of mirth partake,
Drink, dance, and gamble for his country's sake;
Ask him if days in dull committees spent,
Or sleepless nights to oratory lent,
Tho' litigation waste the morning's hours,
Or fancy crown the eve with eastern flowers;
Ask him if months that toils like these employ,
Are half so hard as this oppressive joy.
Yet to the village sons who throng the ground,
Sent forth in numbers from each cottage round,
Who leave awhile untill'd the fertile soil,
And snatch a respite from diurnal toil,
These varied sports a real joy afford,
No art can give the pleasure-sated lord.
Behold the transports of yon festive scene,
Where the wide country on the tented green
Its inmates pours, impatient all to share
The expected pleasures of the annual fair!—
See to the amorous youth and village maid
The pedlar's silken treasury display'd;
The liquorish boy the yellow simnel eyes,
The champion's cudgel wins the envied prize;
The martial trumpet calls the gazers in
Where lions roar, or fierce hyenas grin.—
Responsive to the tabor's sprightly sound
Behold the jingling morrice beat the ground,
The neighing courser sleek and trick'd for sale,
Grains in his paunch and ginger in his tail;
The dwarf and giant painted to the life,
The spirit-stirring drum, and shrill-ton'd fife,
Prelusive to the warlike speech that charms
The kindling heroes of the plain to arms.—
Here bliss unfeign'd in every eye we trace,
Here heart-felt mirth illumines every face,
For pleasure here has never learn'd to cloy,
But days of toil enliven hours of joy.
Joy, how unlike its unsubstantial shade
Which faintly haunts the midnight masquerade,
Where the distorted vizard ill conceals
The deep ennui each languid bosom feels,
And, but for shame, each vot'ry of delight,
Fatigued with all the nonsense of the night,
Would, like Squire Richard, seek with sated eye
Wrestling and backsword for variety.
Nor do I fable—worn with constant care
Of fev'rish riot and fantastic glare,
From splendid luxury our youth resort
To all the roughness of barbarian sport,
And leave each softer elegance of town
To share the pastime of the rustic clown;
Croud to behold, on the forbidden stage,
Christian and Jew in bloody fight engage,
Amusement in a fractur'd shoulder spy,
And gaze with rapture on a batter'd eye.
Nor this alone: reflection's form to shun
To scenes of business indolence will run.
Fatigu'd and cloy'd, of rest impatient still,
What crouds the senate's loaded gall'ry fill!
From Siddons' tears and Jordan's smile they fly
To long harangues, impell'd by novelty;
As pleas'd when dulness lulls, with cadence deep,
Knights, citizens, and burgesses to sleep,
As when, aroused in freedom's hallow'd cause,
Unsullied praise the Son of Chatham draws,
And eloquence, with more than Grecian art,
Decks the pure dictates of a Cato's heart.
Of British politics, ah selfish pride!
Which joys like these to female ears deny'd;
Till beauty's champion, with attentive care,
Turn'd out a Nabob to divert the fair,
And now they hear his chosen band dispense
The cream of opposition eloquence.
But say, what fashionable form appears,
Whose vacant brow reflection's aspect wears?
Who rolls the eye with senseless sapience full,
In trifles wise, and venerably dull?—
I know him well.—In midnight fumes enclos'd
Of the Virginian weed, while Folly doz'd,
Dulness advanc'd with Aldermannic tread
In solemn silence to the ideot's bed,
And in the produce of the stol'n embrace
The father's sense, and mother's wit we trace:
Both with a parent's love their offspring kiss'd,
Presag'd his future fame, and call'd him Whist.
Far from the courtly race, in private bred,
With rural swains his early youth he led,
The chearing solace, by the wintry fire,
Of the fat parson or the drunken squire;
Till, when each livelier game could charm no more,
And dear Quadrille itself became a bore,
Capricious taste, with novel nonsense fraught,
To town this scientific stranger brought,
Taught him the courtly circle's smile to share,
Till fashion bade him reign sole monarch there.
Struck with amaze, his sprightlier rivals fly
The chilling torpor of his gorgon eye:
Spadille no longer rears his sable shield,
Pam drops his halberd and forsakes the field.—
See where around the silent vot'ries sit,
To radiant beauty blind, and deaf to wit;
Each vacant eye appears with wisdom fraught,
Each solemn blockhead looks as if he thought.
Here coward insolence insults the bold,
And selfish av'rice boasts his lust of gold;
Ill-temper vents her spleen without offence,
And pompous dulness triumphs over sense.
Should some intrusive infant in the room
Disturb with jocund voice the general gloom,
The parent's eye, with short-liv'd frenzy wild,
Reproves the frolic of his wiser child.—
O strange extreme of fancy's wayward mood!
Distemper'd pleasure's sickly change of food,
Which, loathing every taste of known delight,
Provokes with trash her blunted appetite.—
Yet, if this stretch of studious thought be joy,
Let schemes of use the anxious mind employ,
Turn Wingate's solid pages, or explore
The untried depth of mathematic lore;
Or else with Herschell's telescopic eye
Trace new-found planets thro' the vaulted sky;
Or, if the cold blood curdling round the heart,
Deny of science this sublimer part,
On politics awake the learn'd debate,
For every Briton knows to mend the state;
Nor strive in serious trifles to excel,
Which childhood even might blush to know too well.
Far from fantastic fashion's giddy range,
Far from the dulness of fastidious change,
Pleasure, by fancy's airy fingers dress'd,
Object of every wish in every breast,
Holds her abode; nor shall o'erweening pride
Her roseate smiles in gloomy accent chide.—
O may I oft partake her genial hour,
Join in her train, and bless her friendly power;
Oft taste the pure unsullied scenes of joy,
Where wit and beauty mingled charms employ;
The free libation of the temperate bowl,
'The feast of reason, and the flow of soul;'
The theatre, where truth, by genius dight,
Holds her broad mirror to the conscious sight;
The heart-felt thrilling of the warbled lay,
The dancing measures of the young and gay;
The manlier sports, where hope, by doubt repress'd,
With expectation fires the panting breast,
And languor on the upland brow inhales
New health and vigor from the morning gales;
The evening walk, when spring adorns the glades,
Or summer's foliage all the forest shades;
The joyous hours, when winter bids retire
To the warm comfort of the social fire;
The honest laugh, which care's stern brow unbends;
The brilliant jest, which shines but ne'er offends;
The tender strain, the hymn to Bacchus roar'd
In choral transport round the festive board;
The catch, which oft in vain the songsters try,
While one is still too low, and one too high,
Till, after many a fruitless effort pass'd,
The harmonious discord is produc'd at last;
Even cards, if cards can e'er the mind engage,
Divested quite of avarice and rage,
Even cards some drowsy interval may chear,
But ne'er in wisdom's borrow'd robe appear;—
And, only source of pleasure's keenest zest,
May some pursuit still animate the breast;
From whence, returning to the sportful hour,
Amusement charms with renovated power.
For let the Muse, in her concluding strain,
This truth impart to pleasure's votive train;—
Urg'd to excess all human bliss must cloy,
And joy perpetual ceases to be joy.
Faringdon Hill. Book I
A Poem In Two Books
Now with meridian force the orb of day
Pours on our throbbing heads his sultry ray;
O'er the wide concave of the blue serene
No fleecy cloud or vapory mist is seen;
The panting flocks and herds, at ease reclin'd,
Catch the faint eddies of the flitting wind;
To silence hush'd is every rural sound;
And noontide spreads a solemn stillness round
Alike our languid limbs would now forsake
The open meadow, and the tangled brake;
Here Sol intensely glows, and there the trees
Mix their thick foliage, and exclude the breeze.—
Come let us quit these scenes, and climb yon brow,
Yon airy summit where the Zephyrs blow;
While waving o'er our heads the welcome shade,
Shuts out the sunbeams from the upland glade:
No steep ascent we scale with feverish toil,
No rocks alarm us, and no mountains foil;
But as we gently tread the rising green,
Large, and more large extends the spacious scene;
Till on the verdant top our labour crown'd,
The wide Horizon is our only bound.
What various objects scatter'd round us lie,
And charm on every side the curious eye!—
Amidst such ample stores, how shall the Muse
Know where to turn her sight, and which to choose?—
Here lofty mountains lift their azure heads;
There it's green lap the grassy meadow spreads;
Enclosures here the sylvan scene divide;
There plains extended spread their harvests wide;
Here oaks, their mossy limbs wide stretching, meet
And form impervious thickets at our feet;
Through aromatic heaps of ripening hay,
There silver Isis wins her winding way;
And many a tower, and many a spire between,
Shoots from the groves, and cheers the rural scene.
Still as I look, fresh objects seem to rise;
And lovelier pictures strike my raptur'd eyes,
As young remembrance paints each sylvan glade,
Where full of glee my careless childhood stray'd.
Though other hills perhaps as large a field
To warm description's fairy powers may yield,
As rich a prospect to the sight display,
O'er meads as verdant, and o'er plains as gay;
Yet, when in Memory's fond mirror shewn,
The country smiles with beauties not it's own;
Her fair reflection new delight supplies,
And every floweret blooms with deeper dyes;
The landscape seems to brighten while I gaze,
And Phoebus shines with more than summer rays;
O'er the high woods a livelier verdure reigns,
And more luxuriant harvests deck the plains;
Even when fell winter spreads his mantle drear,
And big with snow descends the inclement year,
Let but her glass reflect the dismal view,
The wither'd trees their wonted charms renew;
The feather'd tribes resume their chearing lay,
And spring her odors, and his beams the day;
December yields to April's milder power,
And vernal blossoms grace the wintry hour.
O sacred Nature! Nymph divinely bright!
Unfold thy various prospects to my sight;
With thee o'er breezy uplands let me rove,
Or tread the devious labyrinth of the grove;
When from the east the glorious orb of day
Shoots o'er the burnish'd cliff his golden ray,
When splendid in meridian light array'd,
His piercing beams the woodland gloom pervade;
When wrap'd in misty evening's sober reign
The increasing darkness steals across the plain;
When o'er the dusky stole of silent night
The Delian Goddess throws her silver light;
When gently o'er the flower-empurpled vale
The vernal Zephyrs breathe a genial gale;
When, as fierce Summer's sultry beams descend,
With blushing fruit the loaded branches bend;
When Autumn crowns the hills with waving corn,
And pours profusion from his twisted horn;
While deepening shade on shade the woods are seen,
From the full crimson to the faded green;
Or when, it's leafy honors swept away,
The scatter'd forest yields to winter's sway;
When the cascade, by icy fetters tied,
Must cease to murmur, and the stream to glide;
While blows the storm, or falls the chilling rain,
Or fleecy snows o'erspread the whiten'd plain;
In every hour and season let me trace,
Enchanting Nature! thy transcendant grace;
With eager eyes thy lovely form survey,
And bless with grateful voice thy boundless sway.
Happy the youth! on whose high honor'd head
The sacred Nine their fostering influence shed,
Though they refuse the lasting wreath, whose bloom
Shall grace his living brow, and deck his tomb;
For the fresh laurel give a sickly flower,
Boast of a day, and glory of an hour;
Yet taught by them his ravish'd eyes explore
The choicest objects of thy charming store:
For him their strains the sylvan warblers breathe,
For him fair Maia twines her flowery wreath;
Fragrant for him the morning breezes blow,
The poplar trembles, and the fountains flow;
Thy various beauties strike his raptur'd breast,
And Nature doubly charms by Fancy dress'd.
Enough has Fancy, frantic with delight,
O'er the gay region stretch'd her vagrant flight;
Let sage Experience now of brow severe
Arrest her soaring in her bold career:
Nor thou, historic Truth, thy aid refuse,
But join the labors of the rural Muse;
With friendly care the pleasing toil divide,
That while she paints the blooming landscape's pride,
Thy voice each storied relick may explain,
And tell the former fortunes of the plain.
First to the north direct your roving eyes,
Where fair Oxonia's verdant hills arise;
There Burford's downs invite the healthful chace,
Or urge the emulous coursers to the race;
While as with agile limbs the ascent they scale,
Rush down the steep, or sweep across the vale,
Exulting Hope, by turns, and chilling Fear
In the pale cheek and eager eye appear;
Each generous fire in every heart is lost,
By fortune favor'd, or by fortune cross'd;
Flies every Virtue, withers every Grace,
And all the selfish Passions take their place.
Emerging from the thicket's bosom, there
See Bamptom's pointed steeple rise in air:
To farther distance now the prospect drawn,
Lo Witney's spire diversifies the lawn!
Whose busy loom to balmy sleep supplies
A guard from wintry cold and freezing skies:
There Whichwood's oaks thick-waving o'er the glade
Yield to the salvage tribe an ample shade:
And in the horizon faintly ting'd with blue
Thy woods, imperial Blenheim! close the view,
Nature between one verdant carpet spreads
Of fruitful pastures and enamel'd meads;
Whose bending reeds, and osier'd banks among,
Fair Isis rolls her virgin waves along;
Her horn while Plenty pours on every side,
And Pales revels where her waters glide.
Hail, lovely Isis! dear parental stream!
The pride of Commerce, and the Poet's theme:
Though, vain of borrow'd pomp, imperious Thame,
Deck'd with the praise which ought to wait thy name,
Triumphant pours his swelling waves along,
Hail'd by the bard, and dignified in song;
Thy silver urn the affluent tide bestows,
And from thy source the plenteous current flows:
Such is the fate that female honors find,
When to a mate unequal fondly join'd.
O had thy stream! like Arethuse of old,
It's virgin waters unpolluted roll'd,
Old Thame through humble vales had pass'd alone,
Sung by no bard, unnoticed, and unknown;
While thine had been confess'd the unrival'd pride,
To waft in commerce with each rising tide,
With foreign spoils Augusta's walls to greet,
And lay the nations tribute at her feet:
Thine been the boast to flow, with current clear,
Through meads to British Freedom ever dear,
Where the bold Barons in a happy hour
Wrested her charter from a tyrant's power;
While grateful bards contended to rehearse
Thy virgin glories in no vulgar verse:
For long as Windsor rais'd her sylvan shade
Or Cooper's swelling hill o'erlook'd the glade,
Sacred to fame thy stream had flow'd along,
In Pope's soft lays, or Denham's sounding song.
Then as thy lucid current gently stray'd
Through fair Etona's academic shade;
While by thy side his silver Lyre he strung,
Gray to thy wave his dulcet notes had sung:
And many a bard in Granta's vale who strays,
And tunes to hoary Cam his votive lays,
Whose youthful Fancy and Invention new
Cull'd the fresh flowers that on thy borders grew,
Had join'd to celebrate thy classic fame,
And half his tribute paid to Isis' name.
And lo! where heathy Cumner's envious height
Hides all thy letter'd triumph from my sight!
Where 'midst fair Rhedicina's gothic towers,
Her hallow'd cloisters, and Pierian bowers,
Isis her silver urn inclines, and views
The votive wreath of every grateful Muse.
No rivulet there from thee their tribute draws,
Usurps thy fame, or shares their just applause:
But gentle Cherwell hears with joy their lays,
And loves the strain that chants a sister's praise;
Pleas'd if the Muse, to grace her head, bestows
One roseate flower that on thy Margin blows.
Nor shall thy reeds in future times complain
Of slighted worth and Thame's usurp'd domain;
That his too favor'd stream with princely waves
The crowded walls of proud Augusta laves;
The votive verse that Pope and Denham raise,
And breathe to him the swelling note of praise;
For him that Gray the strain unequal'd frames,
And sings the moral ode to hoary Thames;
Since fair Oxonia's polish'd sons unite
To vindicate thy classic current's right;
Since every Muse to thee consigns her lays,
And every Science on thy border strays;
And every Grace, and every Art, whose powers
In symmetry have rais'd her dædal towers,
To listening crowds thy parent worth proclaim,
And found their pride on thy maternal name.
Ere yet such scenes of pomp thy channel knows,
While humbly here thy lingering water flows;
While yet thy virgin waves obscurely glide,
Sung by no Muse, nor boast a classic tide;
Say wilt thou here incline thy urn, to heed
The inglorious warbling of my Doric reed?
Though here no city spread her various stores,
No costly villas crown thy peopled shores;
Yet every charm of Peace's rural reign
Attends thy progress through each smiling plain.
The flocks and herds here crowd thy rushy brink,
Graze on thy sides or from thy bosom drink;
And every herb, and every flower that blows
On the green margin where thy current flows;
If a luxuriant bloom they justly boast,
Beyond the produce of another coast;
As in thy glassy wave their charms they see,
Shall own they owe each vivid tint to thee.
Yet glittering spears have here been whilom seen,
And purple war has stain'd thy osiers green;
Here hostile swords have shed a horrid gleam,
And floating corses chok'd thy frighted stream;
While Civil Discord drove with hideous roar
The trembling Naiads from thy widow'd shore.
Ah! ne'er may arms again thy seats invade,
Or shouts of war disturb thy hallow'd shade;
But heaven-born Peace with Plenty in her train
Fix on thy sedgy banks her halcyon reign.
Here too, more fell than war's destructive race,
Has Superstition shewn her gorgon face:
Here where thy chearing stream with gentle waves
These fertile meads and verdant pastures laves,
Where now unwearied Industry resides,
And Toil exulting tills thy fruitful sides;
For Liberty protects the happy swains,
And Property secures what labor gains;
Erst the rich soil, though cultur'd, useless lay,
To monkish ease and luxury a prey,
While distant abbeys with thy wealth were stor'd,
The British subjects of an alien lord.
When bigot John, despotic power to gain,
Found open force and treacherous cunning vain;
His daring nobles fir'd by virtuous pride
His arts eluded, and his force defied;
With Rome's anathemas he arm'd his hand,
And papal thunders shook the trembling land;
Thirsting for lawless sway, he stoop'd to own
His crown dependant on a foreign throne;
To foreign lords ignoble homage gave,
To reign at home a tyrant and a slave.
'Twas then the ravenous monks, a sordid crew,
O'er all the wasted land like locusts flew;
Each rich demesne that to the crown remain'd,
By right, by forfeiture, or conquest gain'd,
Was given to gratify the Church's pride,
And bribe the holy cohorts to his side.
Even 'mid those scenes of devastation wild,
Where William's power the fertile district spoil'd,
The gazing pilgrim saw with strange surprize
Aspiring structures 'midst the desert rise;
And where no trace of man's abode was seen,
No noise disturb'd the tenants of the green,
Save the seas breaking o'er the sounding shore,
Or the faint dashing of the distant oar;
There haughty Beaulieu's gothic arches bend,
And high in air her glittering spires ascend;
While the wild forest's hairy sons around
Start at the unusual anthem's swelling sound.
These fruitful plains, in that unhappy hour
Of papal sway and sacerdotal power,
Were doom'd the new-rais'd abbey to maintain,
And distant Beaulieu rul'd the fair domain.
The famish'd swain beheld with mournful eye
The verdant meadows round him useless lie;
While pamper'd ignorance and priestly pride
The rich productions of the land divide;
Till Henry's haughty soul the bondage broke,
Redeem'd the nation from the servile yoke,
And suffer'd active Industry once more
To dwell, fair Isis! by thy happy shore:
Hence as these blooming fields, (thus heaven decreed,)
A tyrant shackled, so a tyrant freed.
Yet now, as thro' the abbey's mouldering dome
The Muses oft with wandering footsteps roam,
And, while with silver radiance Luna's beam
Shoots through the lengthening isles a trembling gleam,
As pensive Meditation points the way,
By ruin'd piles and nodding towers they stray:
See o'er the impending arch the ivy spread,
And gothic pillars threat the passer's head,
Struck with the awful scene, the astonish'd train
Bewail the fall of Superstition's reign.
Hence many a bard has o'er the ruins hung,
And mourn'd the devastation as he sung;
Has Error's fate in plaintive verse deplor'd,
And wept the day that Reason's rights restor'd.
As bending upward near her scanty source
We backward trace the river's narrowing course,
Her pointed spire see Lechlade proudly rears!
And lowly Cricklade on her banks appears;
Cricklade, where first, when Grecia's letter'd train,
By Slavery exil'd from their native plain,
To fair Hesperia's vales their science bore,
To Gallia's fields, and Albion's distant shore;
Those strains Ilissus' stream was wont to hear
Were pour'd, O Isis, on thy raptur'd ear:
While Grecia's Muse, around whose matron brow
Had twin'd the Athenian olive's fruitful bough,
Forc'd by the rage of Mahomet's savage host
To quit with lingering step Byzantium's coast;
Her drooping forehead with thy osiers bound,
And on thy brink a new Lyceum found;
Till woo'd by princely gifts, these peaceful bowers
She left for Granta's and Oxonia's towers.
And here thy waves, by learning now unknown,
To busy Commerce sacred flow alone,
Where first the loaded raft, and cumberous barge,
Trust to thy placid breast their weighty charge.
Ah, Isis! can the Muse forget that hand,
Whose wanton cruelty thy ruin plann'd?
Or not forgetting, from resentment free,
Recall the hours that threaten'd fate to thee?—
When vain projectors doom'd thy stream to flow
Through meads, neglected, lingering, sad, and slow;
Till the o'er-loaded wave should scarcely force
Through gathering sand, and sedge, it's laboring course;
While in thy stead their plastic power should guide
The stagnate lake by wintry rains supplied.
Perish such schemes! nor by their use be lost
The noblest river, Britain's Isle can boast!—
Let channels, form'd by art, be ever led
Where no fair current wears a native bed;
Then through the obstructing hill, and o'er the vale,
Like Egerton conduct the swelling sail:
Even Isis shall applaud, if from her source,
To where Sabrina pours her amber course,
They bid the smooth canal it's length display,
And feed with copious springs the tedious way:
Till the fraught barge the extended line explores
From Bristol's crowded wharf to London's princely shores.
More westward when we cast our wandering eyes,
Level as ocean's bed the champaign lies:
While, like some promontory's rugged brow,
Proud Badbury's height o'erlooks the plain below,
Where, in yon Saxon camp, the mill its sails
Spreads to the wind, and courts the rising gales.
Beneath how open lies the spacious scene!
No lofty mountains envious intervene;
But o'er the extended lawns our fancies stray,
Till lost in hazy mists they fade away;
By faint degrees the distant prospect dies,
And the blue landscape melts into the skies.
Where gently Cole's pellucid waters glide,
Here Fairford rears her tower with conscious pride;
Whose windows, with historic painting dight,
Attract the curious traveller's wondering sight:
And there, conspicuous 'mid the lawny glade,
Fair Cirencester spreads her ample shade.
Hail happy seat! whose twilight glooms among
Full many a bard has rais'd the tuneful song.
Grows not an oak his hundred arms who spreads
O'er the gay verdure of thy fruitful meads;
Sighs not a grotto to thy murmuring gales,
Nor flows a fountain through thy winding vales,
But seems a classic influence to diffuse,
To Science dear, and haunted by the Muse:
Who oft as morning pours her misty ray,
Or fades the glimmering beam of parting day,
Explores each nodding grove, and every plain,
Sacred to her and all her favorite train.
These scenes could Addison's chaste notes inspire;
Here Pope harmonious struck his silver lyre;
Caught 'midst these solemn shades the glorious plan,
'To vindicate the ways of God to man.'
Arbuthnot here, and Swift, with useful art,
Rear'd Satire's dreaded scourge, or steel'd her dart:
Here Prior the Graces form'd thy softer lay
And taught the moral strain to blameless Gay;
Each pleas'd the Master's praises to engage,
The famed Mæcenas of that happier age.
After such bards, O Bathurst, wilt thou deign
To mark the notes of my inglorious strain?
Shall I presume in these degenerate days
To form one humble verse to Bathurst's praise?
Yes, thou wilt deign my artless notes to hear,
Wilt to my strain inglorious bend thine ear;
And as thy patronage, with noontide ray,
Bade to full vigor shoot the verdant bay,
Taught it the storms of Envy to deride,
And spread it's waving boughs with summer pride;
So thy declining beam with milder power
Shall shed it's influence on the autumnal flower.
O blest old man! on thy thrice happy head
Her choicest gifts has smiling Fortune shed;
Has been for once from taste capricious free,
And true to virtue's cause in favoring thee.
As Anna's hand around thy youthful brow
Thy country's fairest honors taught to grow;
So now, while Justice bids exulting Fame
Tell to succeeding times her Apsley's name,
Marking the source from whence his merit flows,
A fresher wreath thy grateful Prince bestows.
Meantime, disarm'd of all his hostile rage,
Lenient on thee descends the weight of Age;
While still thy soul preserves her wonted power,
To charm the letter'd or the social hour:
No sharp Disease attends his gentle reign,
Nor palsied Indolence nor wasting Pain,
But healthful through the woods thy footsteps stray,
Where thy own oaks their gloomy shade display:
For to thy lot of all mankind is given
That joy peculiar by indulgent heaven,
To see, while round the barbarous hand of taste
Deforms the grove, and lays the forest waste,
O'er each uncultur'd hill, and barren glade,
Thy rising thickets spread unusual shade,
And, in their full luxuriance dress'd, display
Their waving foliage to the face of day.
May thy example Britain's lords inspire!
O may they catch from thee the patriot fire!
Then shall the Dryads, and their sprightly train,
Rove o'er the extent of many a barren plain:
O'er the bleak waste, where dreary heath and skies
Fatigue the sight, the forest then should rise;
Again on Windsor's heights the woods be seen,
And all her sable hills be cloth'd with green;
Her russet mountains send their oaks once more
To waft destruction to some hostile shore.
What tho' Britannia's plains manur'd with care
Refuse the plants of every soil to bear;
What though no olive grow among her vales,
No citron groves perfume her balmy gales;
Though India's spicy forests are denied,
Nor spreads Judea's palm her leafy pride;
Yet her thick woods unnumber'd trees produce,
Sacred at once to ornament and use.
With verdant beech her towering hills are spread,
And Scotia's pine erects her gloomy head;
The shapely fir, that graced Olympus' brow,
Deigns o'er her heights to wave her silver bough;
And, holy Lebanon, thy cedars rise,
Hang o'er her cliffs, nor dread her northern skies;
The elm, and pliant ash, a vigorous train,
Deck with resplendent green the smiling plain;
The bending willow o'er the marshy glade
And shining poplar shed a trembling shade;
And many a hardy plant is wafted o'er,
To grace her forests from the Atlantic shore,
Whose branches, rising from the kindred soil,
Mix with her trees, and pay the planter's toil.
Here too, matur'd by many rolling years,
Above the rest her native oak appears;
Whose giant limbs extend her noblest boast,
Pride of her groves, and bulwark of her coast.
Sure when the Druid train with awful rite
In pious orgies past the dreary night;
While, as their steps the hallow'd trunk surround,
The mystic misletoe their foreheads bound;
They meant to teach their sons succeeding race,
To venerate the groves that deck'd the place.
O ever on Britannia's grateful breast,
Unhurt by time, this image be impress'd!
Still may her heart that sacred tree adore,
Which drives Invasion from her peaceful shore:
So shall each storm of war, whose fatal sway
Speeds o'er her neighbouring realms it's bloody way,
Break like the baffled storm against her coast,
It's force unheeded, and it's fury lost;
As her own oak defies the headlong course
Of warring winds, and mocks the tempest's force.
Nor does fair Albion view with envious eye
The ripe productions of a southern sky.
Let the rich vineyard spread it's purple stores
O'er Gallia's coasts, and Lusitania's shores;
Where with hard hands the tawny peasants press
The swelling grape, a foreign board to bless:
Though 'neath our rougher heaven the docile vine
Around the lofty elm refuse to twine,
Yet has Pomona with no niggard hand
Her blushing orchards scatter'd o'er the land;
Whose ruddy fruits a generous stream produce
Strong as the cluster'd grape's inspiring juice.
Our humble vales the hop's green tendrils grace,
Clasping their stays in many a close embrace;
These to the bearded barley's harvest join'd,
By skill concocted, and with care refin'd,
A liquor yield, that Britain's sons draw forth
Mantling, and bright, the vintage of the north!
Which crowns the humble and the haughty board,
And chears alike the Peasant and the Lord;
Regales o'erwearied Labor at his toil,
And teaches fainting Industry to smile.
The thankful swain beholds the goblet shine,
Nor envies other lands their rosy wine,
Where slavish hinds with skilful hands prepare
The luscious beverage, which they must not share.
Refresh'd with this, Britannia's sons sustain
The keenest labors of the toilsome plain;
Nor, when the hours of work are past, employ
The vacant eve in gay luxurious joy,
Trill the loose air, or beat the echoing ground
To the soft flute, or tabor's sprightly sound;
But with knit limbs on rougher pastime bent,
They strain their sinews to their full extent;
Direct the quoit, or hurl the massy bar,
Or wage with brawny arms the sportive war.
In other realms, to humble swains unknown,
While Honor fires Nobility alone,
Our meanest Peasants share the generous flame,
And learn to glow at Freedom's hallow'd name;
Hence have they, led by Glory's call afar,
With hosts unnumber'd wag'd the unequal war;
Hence Cressy's field, Poitier's victorious fray;
Hence glorious Agincourt, thy wonderous day!
Hence Europe sav'd near Danube's distant flood;
And Blenheim's ramparts red with Gallic blood!
And hence those manly deeds renew'd again
On Abraham's heights, and Minden's trophied plain.
O ne'er may fell Corruption's tainting force
Poison of all our pride this happy source!
To false Refinement with destructive pains
Polish the manly roughness of our swains!
Exil'd from other realms, while here alone
Fair Liberty erects her holy throne,
The exulting train, her glorious gifts who share,
Will scorn of foreign crowds the suppliant air:
Who sees our clowns obsequious, sees the day
That gives our Glory and our Rights away.
In vain would laws guard Freedom's sacred shrine,
If Freedom's sons their native worth resign;
In vain shall Fraud attempt, or Force alarm,
While Valor steels the breast, and Labor nerves the arm.
Alfred. Book Iii.
ARGUMENT. Measures against the Danes.—Prophecy of the future Fortunes of Alfred and his Posterity.
Along the borders of the silver Thone,
With alders dank, and matted sedge o'er-grown,
Led by the guidance of the shepherd swain,
Unseen, and silent, pass the cautious train,
Till, mid the conflux of the mingling streams,
A deep morass the emerging island seems.
Across the ford the guide directs their course,
Each stemming, with his arms, the current's force,
They pass, with toil, the dangerous traject o'er,
For, swoll'n by showers, the angry waters roar.
Then, Alfred, did thy generous bosom know
A pride nor pomp, nor luxury, can bestow,
When thy firm limbs, with nerve superior strung,
And active strength, the endowment of the young,
With abler effort gave thee force to guide,
The old and feeble through the threatening tide.
Nor did that arm, which oft in Glory's field
Had taught the might of giant foes to yield,
Disdain, by many a vigorous stroke, to save
A peasant's household from the whelming wave;
Nor did that voice, which oft, with martial breath,
Had roused the soldier's heart to war and death,
Disdain, with words of mild reproof, to cheer
A woman's weakness, and an infant's fear.—
Then, as Benignity's consoling breast
The real source of patriot zeal express'd,
Fame, from the warrior turns awhile, the eye,
To hail the hero of humanity.
Fix'd on the arid spot, whose scanty bounds
On every side the deep morass surrounds,
The monarch, and his martial friend, with care,
'Gainst close surprise and bold attack prepare;
Exert each art their safety to ensure,
And every pass, with wary eye, secure.
Oft from the isle, beneath the twilight shade,
By Ethelwood attended, Alfred stray'd,
And many a chief conceal'd, of gentle blood,
They found, and tempted o'er the sheltering flood;
Hence of fair Athelney the glorious name
Shall flourish still, the favourite theme of Fame,
The Isle of Nobles live, recorded long
In each historian's page, and poet's song.
Not to inglorious ease can be confined
The sanguine efforts of the hero's mind;
Valour, when devastation spreads around,
Sits not in Safety's rosy fetters bound:
Oft issuing from the marsh, their midnight arms
Harass the scatter'd Danes with new alarms.
Reckless of vanquish'd foes, the victor lay,
To bloated sloth, and foul excess, a prey;
Hence oft the Saxons, from the slumbering horde,
Seize their own flocks to store the genial board;
While Slaughter stalks amid the astonish'd foe,
The vengeance dreadful, though unseen the blow.
Oft too the monarch, stealing from the cares
Of present councils, and of future wars,
Through the lone groves would pace, in solemn mood,
Wooing the pensive charms of Solitude.
While, deep revolving in his fancy's range
Of human deeds, the desultory change,
By Hope encouraged, or by Fear depress'd,
Contending passions shook his mighty breast.
It chanced one stormy morn, as forth he sped,
The rude blast whistling round his listless head,
For equal rise, if care engross the mind,
The breeze of summer, or the wintry wind;
While through the wood, in pensive musing lost,
He stray'd,—his path a lucid streamlet cross'd:
Aside he turn'd, and traced the rivulet's course,
With pace reverted, toward its mountain source.
Onward, with heedless aim, his footsteps move
Along the dell, through many a tangled grove,
Till, issuing sudden from the gloomy shade,
He trod the verdure of a grassy glade,
Where shines the expanded water, clear and bright,
A lucid mirror to the tranquil sight,
Smooth as the chrystal's polish'd surface; save
Where, from the shrubby heights, the sparkling wave,
Dashing from rock to rock in frothy wreath,
Ruffles the border of the lake beneath.
The drooping willows fringe the edge, and seem
To drink fresh verdure from the passing stream.
Here mossy cliffs, with mountain plants o'ergrown,
The wild goat browsing from the pendant stone,
Their rifted sides echoing the sea mew's clang,
With threatening summits o'er the valley hang.
While, from the dell, receding gently, there
The rising upland softly melts to air;
Whose bowering forests round the placid flood,
Wave to the eye, a theatre of wood;
There the bright beech its silver bole displays,
And giant oaks their massy foilage raise,
The trembling poplar's humbler leaf beneath
Whispers responsive to the rude wind's breath;
And, with the woodbine mix'd, and sylvan rose,
In scarlet pride the mountain service glows.
In foaming eddy, where the lucid tide
Pours headlong down the high clift's rugged side,
A grove of dusky pines athwart the glade
Shoot, with projected limbs, a solemn shade;
And as aloft the quivering branches play,
Shut from the soil the garish eye of day.
Deep in the dark recess, with briars o'er-grown,
A cavern opens in the mossy stone:
O'er its dank mouth the flexile ivy grows,
Where an aged yew funereal shadows throws;
Scath'd oaks their knotty branches fling around,
With mystic misseltoe their summits crown'd;
While, echoing to the torrent's distant shock,
Howls the dread whirlwind through the creviced rock.—
Albeit unused to fear, the monarch's breast
Pants, with an awe, unfelt before, impress'd,
And, o'er his better reason, sudden spread
Terrific chills of superstitious dread.
The tempest's voice that usher'd in the day,
In distant murmurs faintly dies away,
The screaming birds their boding carol cease,
And even the torrent's roar seems hush'd to peace.
While, from the rock's deep bosom, notes so sweet,
Of such enchanting strain, the hero greet,
Entranced he stands, the lay divine to hear,
And all Elysium opens on his ear.
The dulcet numbers ceased; with awe-struck breast
Alfred the Genius of the place address'd:
'Whoe'er thou art, whether of mortal line,
Bless'd with celestial gifts, and song divine,
Or some attendant of the angelic host,
The holy guardian of this favour'd coast,
Before whose voice obedient tempests fly,
Whose lays melodious calm the troubled sky;
To me propitious be thy powers inclined,
To me most lost, most wretched, of mankind.'
A hollow murmur check'd him as he spoke,
And, from the rock, a voice tremendous broke.—
'O, King of England! not to man is given
To fathom or arraign the will of Heaven!
Oft in the bright serene of prosperous days,
Unseen, the Demon of Destruction plays;
Oft through Misfortune's drear and bleak abode,
To power and greatness lies the rugged road,
'Tis man's to bow beneath the chastening rod,
Virtue's true meed lies in the hand of God.'
With sudden horror rock'd the trembling ground,
And distant thunder shook the vast profound;
When, from the cave, a venerable form
Stalk'd forth, announced by the preluding storm.
About his limbs a snowy garment roll'd
Floats to the wind in many an ample fold;
His brow serene a rich tiara bound,
And loose his silver tresses stream'd around.
In his right hand a golden harp declared
The sacred function of the Druid bard.—
Soon as the royal chief the vision saw,
To earth he bent, in reverential awe.
'Rise, son of regal dignity,' he said,
'Nor bow to human dust thy laurel'd head!
Mortal like thee, I draw precarious breath,
Subject to pain, to sorrow, and to death.
'Tis thine o'er mighty nations to preside,
Command their armies, and their councils guide;
'Tis mine to look beyond Time's passing date,
And read the page obscure of future fate,
Strike, with bold hand, the free prophetic lyre,
And wake to distant years the warbling wire:
Our powers alike, by power supreme, are given,
Each but the feeble minister of Heaven.—
'Mid famed Cornubia's rocks, wash'd by the main,
Oft have I listen'd to the mystic strain,
What time on old Bellerium's topmost height
Aerial visions swam before my sight,
And lays divine, by voice immortal, sung,
In heavenly cadence o'er my senses hung.
Nor is to me unknown the sacred lore
Of Mona's Druid caves, and Arvon's shore.—
Even now I feel the enthusiast flame arise,
And unborn ages burst upon my eyes;
Visions of distant times before me roll,
And all the Godhead rushes on my soul.'
His eye-balls, as he spoke, with rapture glow'd,
His snowy robes in ampler volume flow'd,
The radiant fillets that his temples bind,
Burst—looser float his tresses to the wind;
His form expands, he moves with firmer tread,
And lambent glories play around his head:—
With rapid hand he strikes the sacred lyre,
To strains of rapture wakes the thrilling wire,
And, to the sound responsive, pours along
The fervid energy of mystic song.
'As the dark clouds whose vapoury mantles spread
A dusky veil round Camelet's dreary head,
Roll down his steepy sides,—and ether blue
Gives all the gorgeous landscape to the view,
So the dim shades o'er future scenes that lie,
Disperse, and Fate lies open to my eye.
As purer skies to transient storms succeed,
And happier hours the auspicious seasons lead,
So yields the gloom that hangs o'er Albion's isle,
To brighter hopes, and prosperous Fortune's smile.
Invasion haunts her rescued plains no more,
But hostile inroad flies the dangerous shore;
Where'er her armies march, her ensigns play,
Fame points the course, and Glory leads the way.
Her fleets o'er Ocean's tributary throne,
Rear vast, and wide, an empire of their own,
Supreme from where the radiant lord of day,
Shoots o'er the glowing wave his orient ray,
To where their fires his burning axles steep
In the blue bosom of the Atlantic deep:
Alike in arts and arms illustrious found,
Proudly she sits with either laurel crown'd.
'Yet what avail the trophies Conquest brings,
If Power oppressive, from her hovering wings,
Baleful she shake?—or what the victor's wreath,
If raised in blood from baleful seeds of death?—
Hail England's favour'd Monarch!—round thy head
Shall Freedom's hands perennial laurels spread;
Fenced by whose sacred leaves, the royal brow
Mocks the vain lightnings aim'd by Faction's blow.
'Beyond the proudest germ of Fame that springs,
Rear'd by the Muse, to grace victorious kings;
Above the forms of Liberty, that raise
The sons of Greece and Rome to deathless praise;
Above the labour'd scenes that sages draw,
Ideal forms of polity and law,
By thee a glorious fabric be design'd,
The noblest effort of a patriot mind.—
On a firm basis shall the structure stand,
Defying Time's, deriding Faction's, hand.—
Not a frail pile that mad Ambition rears
On Folly's hopes, or Guilt's repulsive fears;
Where specious Sophistry persuades the crowd
To adulate the selfish, and the loud;
Or, by some fawning demagogue address'd,
To lift a people's minion o'er the rest,
Bending to idol power the servile knee,
The worst of slaves, yet boasting they are free.
Thy code, arranged by Nature's purest plan,
Shall guard the freedom, and the rights of man,—
Man's real right's—not Folly's maniac dream,
Senseless Equality's pernicious theme;
But that true freedom, where all orders draw
Equal protection from an equal law,
And by that equal law restrain'd alone,
Nor fear the noble proud, or prouder throne.
Nobles, the people's shield, the monarch's arm,
Powerful to aid, but impotent to harm;
A sacred throne on Mercy's basis rear'd,
By Virtue foster'd, by Oppression fear'd;—
To which thy guardian laws shall boast they gave
One power by aught uncheck'd, the power to save.
No tyrant here the public weal can harm,
Unheard his mandate, and unnerved his arm,
While the imperial patriot is endued
With unresisted energy of good.
O happiest state on earth, to mortal given,
Pure right divine, true delegate of Heaven,
To whom its happiest attributes belong,
The bless'd impossibility of wrong.—
Each rank supported, firm, by mutual aid,
Each state in Wisdom's equal balance weigh'd;
Say, can the mighty fabric ever fall,
Raised on the weal, the liberty of all?
Still shall it mock, to Time's remotest hour,
The mine of Treason, and the shock of Power.
'Now, in yon visionary scene, behold
Thy future sons their shadowy forms unfold,
What various glories on thy offspring wait,
And learn of heroes yet unborn, the fate.
Full many an inroad of the hostile Dane
Shall yet, with native gore, die England's plain,
Alternate each shall sink, or each prevail,
As wavering Fortune lifts her dubious scale,
Till the bold sons of either warlike line
Their mingled blood in social compact join.
Even now are moor'd, near Isca's sandy bed,
A Danish host, by valiant Rollo led.
Heaven's awful mandates to the chieftain's sight,
Reveal'd in boding visions of the night,
Warn him to quit Danmonia's fertile shore,
Plough the blue wave, and Gallia's realms explore,
There shall a mighty province long proclaim,
Conquer'd by northern arms, the Norman name.
Their swords the southern regions shall subdue,
And fame, and power, through milder climes pursue,
Fields which Ilissus' hallow'd current laves,
And regions wash'd by Tiber's yellow waves;
Awe the proud tyrant of the turban'd host,
And rule, in peaceful sway, Sicilia's coast,
Reserved, in Heaven's appointed time, again
To lead their squadrons to Britannia's plain,
By victor armies destined to fulfil
Of Alfred's sainted heir the sacred will;
Till Albion views her Alfred's line restored,
And hails Plantagenet her Saxon lord.
'Freedom's perennial scyon, that defies
The ungenial blasts of Hyperborean skies,
Which, when its roots the savage warrior tore
From Græcia's isles, and mild Hesperia's shore,
Struck its strong fibres in the frost-bound glade,
Which black Hercynia's piny forests shade,
To Albion's happier soil transplanted, found
A fostering climate, and congenial ground.
'Even from the change the Norman race shall bring,
The feudal vassal, and the warrior king,
Though one vast army seem to meet the eyes,
Shall public safety, public freedom, rise;
Hence, on Britannia's plains, the rural lord
Grasps, with a freeman's arm, the freeman's sword;
'Mid senates hence, his independent voice
Speaks the free suffrage of a people's choice,
Teaches the servile minion fear to own,
Or crushes factions that besiege the throne.
'Behold, where Thames, through Runny's fertile meads,
Placid, and full, his wave pellucid leads
To England's swains, and England's chiefs, his brow
Prone on the earth, the baffled tyrant bow,
Imperial Freedom, waving in her hand
Her charter, fixing rights by Alfred plann'd,
Careful to foster, with protective wing,
The sacred pandects of a patriot king.
'And see, ascending from his winding shore,
Aloft heroic Honour proudly soar
O'er the plumed host, in blazon'd trophies dight,
Won from the vanquish'd Gaul in many a fight,
A warlike son of thine, by Conquest crown'd,
For knighthood twines the garter's mystic round;
Reviving deeds, of ancient Honour born,
Heroic wreaths by British Arthur worn;
What time, at Freedom's call, his dauntless host,
Against thy sires, defended Albion's coast.
Rears Fame's bright guerdon o'er the waving crest,
Spreads Faith's true cross o'er every pious breast,
While Europe's kings, and Rome's imperial lord,
Sit, glad companions, round the equal board,
And Virtue, to a people's general gaze,
The unsullied wreath of Chivalry displays.
'But many a cloud of horror and dismay
The horizon shades of Albion's brightest day.
Though dress'd in halcyon smiles, with ray serene,
Sol's golden orb may chear the rural scene,
Yet gathering mists, by winds tempestuous driven,
Oft blunt his beam, and hide the face of Heaven;
Nor on this seat of earth, where suns and showers
Alternate mark the seasons and the hours,
Can man expect that years shall wing their flight,
For ever tranquil, and for ever bright,
Till soaring o'er the atmosphere, that flings
Vapour and tempest from its watery wings,
On Faith and Virtue's pinions borne, he rise
To purest ether spread o'er cloudless skies,
And drink, with eagle eye, the empyreal ray,
'Mid the blest mansions of eternal day.
'Lo, died in civil blood, the argent rose,
In rival tint, with guilty crimson glows,
Till, blending o'er the fall'n usurper's tomb,
In friendly wreath the mingled flowrets bloom,
To crown Britannia's native race, who stand
With thee, the avengers of their native land.
For now, even now, rough Cambria's warlike coast
Pours, from a thousand hills, the auxiliar host.—
From Saxon arms receding, though they bore
Their sacred rites to Mona's Druid shore.
Sons of the chiefs who Cæsar's arms withstood,
Of Cassibellan's, and Caradoc's blood,
Sons of the chiefs our glorious Arthur led,
Waving their spears, with Saxon carnage red.
To them shall bow again the British line,
And Tudor's royal stem unite with thine;
Tudor, whose ancient claim from Cadwal springs,
Whom Cambria weeps, the last of British kings;
While Albion views her pristine fame display'd,
Proud of the triumphs of the Briton maid.
'Alas! as down the stream of Time, the eye
Anxious I throw, new horrors I descry.—
To England's fields, what scenes of discord bring
A factious people, a misguided king.—
Hide, blushing Albion!—hide the impious strife
Closed with the offering of a monarch's life,
To mark the hopes which happier hours afford,
Of rescued rights, and regal power restored.
'O, wayward race of man! by woe untamed,
By dark Misfortune's lessons unreclaim'd—
Albion laments again the fatal hour,
When royal frenzy grasps at boundless power.
Temperate,—for sad experience well had shewn,
Her own best rights were buried with the throne;
Temperate, but firm, in law and reason's cause,
Again the sword, reluctant, Freedom draws;
But her true bulwark guards, with jealous eye,
The crown revering, though the tyrant fly.
'At length, where Elbe's parental current flows,
Once more her eye insulted England throws;
Her hopes regard that sacred source, once more,
Whence Saxon freedom bless'd her happy shore;
For there the scyons of thy generous line,
In patriot Virtue's pure regalia, shine:
There, on thy banners, still the Saxon steed
Flies o'er the crimson field in mimic speed.
To ancient rights, which, long as Britain's isle
Flourish'd in Monarchy's paternal smile,
From parent worth and warlike fame begun,
In long succession pass'd from sire to son;
From gods and heroes of a fabling age,
Through chiefs enroll'd on History's sacred page,
Loud Fame announces, with an angel's voice,
Added, in Brunswick's claim, a people's choice.
'And see, best glory of that patriot race,
Her monarch, Briton-born, Britannia grace;
Loved, honour'd, and revered by all, save those
Who, foes to Freedom, to her friends are foes.
But foes in vain—for Anarchy's wild roar
Shall never shake this Heaven-defended shore,
While Freedom's sons gird Freedom's sacred throne,
With loyal Faith's impenetrable zone.
O'er laurels Rome's sweet poet cull'd to grace
The mighty hero of the Julian race,
Shall rise the glory of his honour'd name,
‘Nor oceans bound his sway, nor stars his fame.’—
Ocean but rolls his azure waves to guide
His fleets to empire, o'er his ambient tide;
And far beyond the planets that appear
Circling, in ceaseless course, the earthly sphere,
Beyond the stretch of human eye-sight far,
Improving Science hails the Georgian star.
'My soul, from times remote, reduce the lay;
Of Alfred's prosperous hours the pride display.
Oft through the thick expanse of sable clouds,
Whose gloom the blunted beam of morning shrouds,
The struggling ray of Sol awhile contends,
Yet, when his car the arch of Heaven ascends,
When, from the azure vault, his glories shine,
Sowing the etherial plains with flame divine;
Though harvests rise with vegetative power,
Swells the ripe fruit, and glows the blooming flower,
Remembering still the hours of winter pass'd,
The transient sunshine, and the ungenial blast,
The wary husbandman, with prescient care,
Guards 'gainst the driving storm, and piercing air.
So, when emerging from Misfortune's shade,
Alfred, thy patriot virtues shine display'd,
And tranquil days, with Plenty in their train,
Brighten once more the renovated plain;
When the tumultuous shouts of battle cease,
When thrills the warbling string with notes of peace,
Ne'er let thy active mind in sloth repose,
But jealous watch the blessings Peace bestows.
Be it thy care, by Freedom's ready guard,
Each threatening blow Invasion aims, to ward.
Thy voice shall teach the labourer of the field
The sickle, and the sword, by turns to wield;
By thee array'd, lo! Britain, wide and far,
Trains, 'mid the smiles of Peace, her sons to war.
Now the industrious swain, with rural toil,
‘Drives the keen plough-share, through the stubborn soil,’
And now aside the shining coulter throws,
Grasps the keen sword, and braves his country's foes;
Follows his native lord through War's alarms,
In peace his patron, and his chief in arms.
O, shame to England's glory!—Can it be?—
Too sure the stain my starting eye-balls see.
See where Corruption's black insidious band,
Wrest Freedom's faulchion from the Freeman's hand;
Wrest from the Briton's hand, and bid a host
Of mercenary aliens guard the coast.
Hail, glorious sage! immortal patriot, hail!
Whose fervent words o'er dark mistrust prevail.
I see, once more, Britannia's arms restored,
Once more the indignant Briton grasp the sword,
The rural empire hail its rural band,
And Chatham renovate what Alfred plann'd.
'Albion, in thee, shall own the power that gave
A certain empire o'er the uncertain wave,
Taught her commercial sails the surge to sweep,
Or awe, with warrior prow, the hostile deep.
Far o'er the distant wave, where rising day
Throws, on the sultry coast, its orient ray,
Where, through the shade of many a fragrant grove,
By Ganges' stream the guiltless Bramins rove,
To the lone Pilgrim shall thy vessels bear
Of English charity the fostering care,
Pointing the way where, in succeeding days,
Thy sons an empire o'er the East shall raise,
Mock the vain tear of Ammon's haughty son,
And win a world his armies never won.
Thy barks shall sail through pathless seas that roll,
With sluggish current, round the freezing pole,
With prow adventurous, labouring to explore
A northern passage to the Indian shore.—
O, glorious effort of a daring train!
The attempt illustrious, though the issue vain:
In times remote shall Albion oft pursue,
Successless, yet unfoil'd, this specious view.
Yet, though opposing continents appear,
And icy horrors of the polar year,
To bar her course,—full many a fertile isle,
Adorn'd with lavish Nature's sweetest smile,
Studding the bosom of the southern wave,
Rewards the failing labours of the brave.
'By Conquest crown'd, while Britain's navies ride,
In state imperial, o'er the obedient tide,
While, train'd to arms, her brave and hardy swains
Stand a firm barrier to their native plains,
Scorn'd shall Invasion's idle terrors sleep,
Whelm'd, by her watchful navies, in the deep;
Or, by the scowling tempest wafted o'er,
Destruction meet upon her martial shore.
'And see, by fair Augusta's stately towers,
Pellucid Thames his placid current pours,
Wafting, through many a league of Albion's reign,
The golden produce of her happy plain,
Or, bearing on his refluent tide, the sail
Of Commerce, swell'd by Fortune's favouring gale.
To pile her marts contending nations meet,
The world's productions offering at her feet.
Whate'er of wealth in various regions shines,
Glows in their sands, or lurks within their mines;
Whate'er from bounteous Nature men receive,
Whatever toil can rear, or art can weave,
Her princely merchants bear from every zone,
Their country's stores increasing with their own.
And, as the dewy moisture Sol exhales,
With beam refulgent, from the irriguous vales,
Descends in favouring showers of genial rain,
To fertilize the hill and arid plain,
So wealth, collected by the merchant's hand,
Spreads wide, in general plenty, o'er the land.
'Phantoms of glory, stay!—They fleet along,
Born on the stream of visionary song.—
Hear ye yon shout?—The shout of triumph hear!
It swells, it bursts, on my enraptured ear.—
The hour of vengeance comes! On yon bleak height
The vulture claps his wings, and snuffs the fight.
See o'er the ranks the crimson banners float!
Hark, the loud clarion swells the brazen note!
Denmark's dark raven, cowering, hears the sound,
His flagging pinion droops, and sweeps the ground.'
He ceased.—Amazed the wondering warrior stood,
The mystic numbers chill'd his curdling blood.—
Pale sinks the seer in speechless extacy,
Wild heaves his breast, and haggard rolls his eye;
Till, seizing with his hand the sacred lyre,
His skilful fingers swept again the wire,
Soft o'er his mind the stream of music stole,
And sooth'd the labouring rapture of his soul.
The Progress Of Refinement. Part Iii.
Thus far with cautious Pencil have I traced
The striking forms on History's tablet placed.
Harder the task on Truth's unblemish'd page
To sketch the living features of the age,
Each transient character with care define,
And catch the fleeting shape with ready line;
Contrast the Manners modern times display
With the Refinements of an earlier day;
Remark what each from chance, or custom, draws,
And seek with curious eye the latent cause;
Shew Virtue's sinking worth, or kindling flame,
And give impartial praise, or candid blame.
In Rome, while Rome's meridian power was graced
With the bright æra of Augustan taste,
Tho' Art's skill'd votaries reach'd their utmost goal,
Though social pleasure sooth'd the liberal soul,
Yet rude the joys, and coarse the manners shew,
To those which Europe's modern nations know,
Where sweet Benevolence the expression warms,
Dwells on the tongue, and every accent forms.
Nor is the exterior semblance bright alone,
A specious veil o'er selfish passion thrown;
The gentle bosom real kindness feels,
And o'er the soften'd mind Affection steals;
Pity and Horror watch o'er human life,
And Murder trembling drops his fatal knife.
Even War, terrific War! has learn'd to wear
A milder garb, and features less severe:
The fury of the doubtful conflict o'er,
Though gorged with death, and red with streaming gore,
The valiant captive meets attentive care,
And vanquish'd foes fraternal kindness share;
Humanity still meek and prompt to save,
Heals every wound the bleeding combat gave,
Bids the worst horrors of the battle cease,
And lends Bellona half the charms of peace.
Politeness too it's nicest skill employs,
And gives the last fine touch to human joys,
Sweetly combines with unaffected ease
The care to aid us, and the wish to please.
Far from that pertness whose capricious fit
Deems satire freedom, and ill manners wit,
Mistakes fastidious pride for judgment chaste,
And thinks that censure shews superior taste:
Far from that fulsome flattery Dulness pays
Who servile adulation takes for praise,
The eye on every latent foible draws,
And gives an insult where she means applause.
And far, O far! from that insidious aim
Which screens Deceit beneath Refinement's name,
The selfish smile, the promise insincere,
And all the rules of Fashion's favorite peer.
But that smooth polish, elegant and bright,
Which placing merit in the fairest light,
By soft compliance rude ill-temper veils,
And half reforms the vices it conceals.
Say from what source shall keen enquiry trace
These striking characters of gentler grace?—
Numerous the varied springs whose powers combin'd
Direct and regulate the ductile mind.—
First that blest fountain of serene delight,
Meek-ey'd Religion's mild unsullied rite,
The patient votary's humbled breast imbues
With heavenly Charity's ambrosial dews,
In vain the Infidel's o'erweening pride
Affects her hallow'd dictates to deride,
Exalts the wisdom of the ancient school,
And boasts of moral Virtue's rigid rule;
By Christian Faith the perfect doctrines taught
Shall mock Philosophy's sublimest thought,
In the clear beams of Truth celestial shine,
And speak their Holy Teacher all divine.
Thence even the stubborn Sceptic mildness draws,
And feels their influence though he scorn their laws.
The sacred rights of human Nature known,
From Europe's climes has exil'd Slavery flown,
Who saw of old her sable wing display
A gloomy shade o'er Freedom's brightest day.—
O could my verse forget she still defiles
The sunny regions of the Atlantic isles!
Still dwells amidst the hardier race that try
In fields of blood for British Liberty!
There the sad Libyan bought in shameful trade,
Vanquish'd by foes, or by his chiefs betray'd,
Waits from his cruel lord's remorseless breath
The doom of labor, insult, stripes, and death.
Were such the fatal gifts from home ye brought
Such the dire lessons Parent Europe taught?—
Ah no!—beneath her inimical skies
Blasted at once the venom'd monster dies.
Bold Chivalry employ'd her earliest care
To sooth the rugged brow of frowning War,
Valor's fierce form by Courtesy refin'd,
And bent to Mercy's sway the headstrong mind.
She taught her gallant votaries to forego
Each mean advantage o'er a prostrate foe,
And shew'd her pupils rear'd in Error's gloom,
To shame the polish'd chiefs of Greece and Rome.
Crown'd by success, and deck'd in impious pride,
See in stern pomp the imperious Consul ride,
With each sad victim of uncertain war
Dragg'd in remorseless triumph at his car.
While Kings and Chiefs superior insult know,
And only feel pre-eminence in woe.
O had of Gothic days the rudest knight
Seen these barbarians, falsely deem'd polite,
Shout as the wretched Hero pass'd along,
Scorn'd and affronted by the unfeeling throng,
How had he turn'd aside the indignant eye
As the dire pageant mov'd exulting by,
To curse the hearts that selfish maxims steel,
And execrate the effects of patriot zeal.—
Now view on nearer Poitier's trophied plain
The gentler triumphs of Britannia's train!
Though every taunt swol'n Insolence could give
Warm in the Victor's glowing breast must live,
Yet when aloft o'er England's valiant few
With unexpected pinion Conquest flew,
And Gaul's pale Genius sunk her flagging wing,
And mourn'd her slaughter'd Peers and captive King;
No keen resentment edg'd the British sword,
No biting insult barb'd one cruel word,
But godlike Edward mild in fortune's hour
Sooth'd the sad Monarch fall'n from regal power,
To vanquish'd greatness generous homage paid
And serv'd the prisoner that his sword had made.
Even those destructive tubes whose fiery breath
Spreads wide the scenes of carnage and of death,
Though their dread roar the novice ear affright,
Aid mercy's power and humanize the fight.
Unseen each blow, no warrior treads the plain
Demanding vengeance for a brother slain,
No favorite kill'd awakes Pelides' hate,
No spoils of Pallas urge a Turnus' fate,
From hands unknown the mortal stroke is given,
And every bullet seems a bolt from Heaven.
Yet, to the chiefs of elder time unknown,
Punctilious rage from feudal Honor grown
Provokes for spleenful wrongs the deadly strife,
And claims in private war the forfeit life.—
But though too plainly from this dreadful cause
Society a milder aspect draws,
And practis'd in the School of Fear, or Shame,
Fools grow polite, and Savages are tame;
Let not the applauding Muse provoke to chide
The weeping Orphan, or the widow'd Bride,
Awake the trembling Matron's anxious fears,
Or ope the sacred source of Beauty's tears.
No!—let us turn from fields of death the view,
And the calm scenes of softer Peace pursue.
Their placid sway the gentler sex impart,
Refine the manners, and improve the heart,
From the harsh breast each sterner thought remove,
And tune the yielding soul to joy and love.
No barbarous Jealousy's misjudging care
Severely watches o'er the imprison'd Fair,
No houshold Tyrant fixes Beauty's doom,
To ply the incessant web and servile loom,
Nor does the mind allur'd by Plato's dream,
Verging to Folly's opposite extreme,
It's bosom's Queen in hues ethereal paint
And deem the blooming maid the impassive saint.
Daughters of Love! they shine with native power,
And bless the lone, and grace the social hour,
With spotless truth, and ardent passion, blend
The enchanting mistress, and the faithful friend,
Each fonder joy that lessens grief dispense,
Convince the reason and delight the sense.
With bashful coyness temper fierce desire,
And lead by virtue while by charms they fire.
The potent force of such resistless sway
Inspires the Muse, and governs every lay;
The tender Bard exerts his utmost skill,
And all our strains pathetic warblings fill.
The Drama lays her awful robe aside
Of gloomy horror, and terrific pride,
Content alone the gentle mind to move
With the sad story of distressful love.—
Delightful Art!—though first in shapeless guise
Reviving Genius saw thy form arise,
When the rude bigot on the barbarous stage
Produc'd the mysteries of the holy page;
Soon Avon's towering eagle bore thy name
Beyond the exalted flights of Attic fame.
Though nicer skill succeeding times demand,
Though now correctness prune with cautious hand,
With scorn tho' Gallia view the Gothic school,
Attentive to adopt each ancient rule,
While the deep pathos, and the bold sublime,
Escape her dull harangues, and duller rhyme.
Not all her precepts form'd by critic care
Shewn in the flowing numbers of Voltaire,
Not even the Grecian Muse, who stalks a Queen
With solemn footstep o'er the crouded scene,
And by her numerous Choir attended, sings
The splendid fate of magistrates and kings,
Shall with our Shakespear vie, whose every thought
Drawn from sensation, and by Nature taught,
Defies the slavish rules of scenic art,
And speaks at once conviction to the heart.
Yet now his track no daring bard pursues,
No more the stage is trod by History's Muse;
No Tyrants there the pangs of conscience own,
No Furies haunt the Usurper on his throne;
With softer anguish Tragedy prevails,
And deeds of horror yield to plaintive tales,
While full the sympathetic currents flow
At each affecting scene of humbler woe.
Even Comedy who us'd with jocund grace
To dress in chearful smiles the applauding face,
Oft quits the playful scourge of ridicule,
Spares the pert coxcomb, and the pompous fool,
The winning form of gentle pity wears,
And unsuspected cheats us into tears.
And see in amorous style the Novel dress'd
With sentimental sorrow melts the breast,
Swells the fair bosom with the heaving sigh,
And fills with drops of grief the virgin's eye.
Perhaps too far the enchanting lore imparts
It's keen sensations to unguarded hearts;
The tender scenes by Vice though oft design'd
So rivet to the page the attentive mind,
So oft with glowing tales of Passion sooth
The unexperienced ear of female youth,
That many a Maid rapp'd by their magic power
Steals from her custom'd rest the midnight hour,
To trace through lengthen'd tomes of grief display'd
The monstrous shapes by Folly's hand portray'd;
Whence the perverted Fancy learns to lose
The sweet attractions of the chaster Muse.—
Awake to each fictitious feeling grown,
And mov'd by ills to real life unknown,
The mind, with scenes of fabled woe possess'd,
Will shut to homely grief the senseless breast,
And turn from Want and Pain the offended ear,
To pour for feign'd distress the barren tear.
Wide too her wave has swelling Knowledge spread,
And the full stream surrounding Nations fed.
With unremitting care the sage of old
Each maze of Science labor'd to unfold,
Hung o'er the tedious page with aching sight
Toil'd through the day, and watch'd the wintry night:
But teeming presses now around diffuse
The monthly magazine and daily news,
Where bards on bards in endless train succeed,
And all pretend to judge, who know to read.
Whate'er pursuits the attentive mind employ
Must mark our manners with a strong alloy.
Gaming a feature of the human frame
In various states and various climes the same,
Can the warm'd breast with strong sensation strike,
And rude and courtly bosoms charm alike.
For this old Rome's luxurious youth would slight
The healthful labor, and the sportive fight;
For this among the extended woods that spread
Where the blue German hid his restless head,
The rugged inmates won by lust of play
Dear life, and dearer freedom gave away:
Even in the dusky tribes by Nature placed
Mid the lone horrors of the Atlantic waste,
Where scarce the claim of property obtains,
In savage fury dreadful, Gaming reigns.
Hence though the sons of wealth in this delight
Now waste with wakeful toil the livelong night,
Though on one stake will ample fortunes lie,
And mortgaged manors wait a single die;
Yet here no form peculiar can we trace
No striking character of modern race.
But Cards by dull invention first design'd
To sooth a frantic Monarch's listless mind,
O'er Europe now extend their strong controul,
And almost seem to fascinate the soul:
Of every calling, and of every state,
The grave, the gay, the humble, and the great,
Save the hard sons of wretched labor, fed
By daily drudgery, with daily bread,
How few but give to this unmeaning play
Three tedious hours from every circling day!
Nor let the serious Muse though light they seem,
Beneath her solemn care such trifles deem;
Weak masters though they be, their potent art
Gives a strong tincture to the human heart:
As the fang'd brood hot Libya's sands among
Though by fierce rage or maddening hunger stung,
If the clear stream their form reflected shew,
Loose all their vengeance on the shadowy foe;
So here those powers by Reason unrepress'd
Whose furious whirlwinds shook the human breast,
Bade with deep wounds contending nations bleed,
And urg'd the daring, or the atrocious deed,
In trifling cares their idle force engage,
And waste on mimic forms their harmless rage.—
Yet let not Fashion's modern votaries boast
Of harsher manners through their influence lost:
If life's severer evils they subdue,
And smooth the rugged mind, they weaken too;
If savage Hate they quell, and wild Desire,
They damp the Poet's, and the Patriot's fire,
The fervid glow of Friendship's flame remove,
And almost quench the golden lamp of Love.
Her magic powers as pleasure thus combines,
Each bosom softens and each care refines,
Still sure the scenes of opulence to share,
Spreads Luxury her splendid empire there;
On Europe's lap is pour'd the varied store
Of every climate, and of every shore.
For her Arabia gives her rich perfume,
And labors for her eye the Persian loom;
For her the Indian culls with fainting toil
The spicy harvests of his sultry soil;
In her cool air remov'd from Asian fields
It's luscious juice the ripe Anana yields;
And Industry with busy care supplies
The want of glowing lands, and sultry skies,
While all the fruits that Summer heats afford,
With blush untimely deck December's board;
Spring throws her mantle o'er the freezing hours,
And hoary Winter binds his brow with flowers.
The swelling sail in climes remote unfurl'd,
Wafts home the produce of another world.
No more the bark steer'd by the starry ray,
With prow uncertain plows the watery way;
But guided by that Gem whose mystic power
To Arctic regions points in every hour,
Commerce new oceans ventures to explore,
And launches boldly from the lessening shore,
Dares the dread wonders of the deep unfold,
And toils at once for glory and for gold.
But does not Reason's faithful mirror shew
The future prospect of distress and woe,
And point what dangers modern softness wait
In the sad tale of Rome's declining state?—
Far yet such fears!—unnumber'd checks there lie
To stop the fatal flight of Luxury.
First, a less dangerous form it's power receives
From the strong influence Beauty's empire gives.
Of culinary skill the enormous waste
Offends with dull disgust her nicer taste;
Grandeur must art as well as wealth display,
And appetite to elegance give way.
Foul Gluttony, his beastly empire o'er,
Now snuffs the bleeding Hecatomb no more;
The rosy silk, and glittering gem, adorn
No rich tiara by the tyrant worn;
The flowing muslin in resplendent folds
No bloated son of selfish passion holds;
A nobler end the gifts of Commerce share,
And deck with heighten'd charms the lovely fair;
The snowy lawn's transparent web displays
The panting bosom to the enamor'd gaze;
For them the loom it's dædal labor plies,
For them the gems disclose their various dies,
Rival their glowing cheeks, and emulate their eyes.
Even tho' their smiles the stubborn bosom tame,
They kindle martial valor's generous flame:
Europe of old her free-born daughters gave
To Virtue's champion, not to Passion's slave,
Not only Love's sweet raptures to dispense,
And sooth with wanton blandishment the sense,
But the rough scenes of changeful life to share,
Double each joy, and lighten every care,
While he their choice who fiercest waged the fight,
For Beauty ever graced the boldest knight:
And still amid Refinement's softest reign
The glorious wish their gentle breasts retain.
No lazy Sybarite with wily art
By female manners wins the female heart,
But through the studied garb and air refin'd,
Must beam the symptoms of the manly mind,
For warlike fame their sure attention draws,
And the brave soldier gains their first applause.
Contending Nations too with jealous pride,
And different interest, Europe's shores divide;
Each state, like Greece of old in Freedom's hour,
With greater strength boasts independent power,
And fierce Ambition by incessant storms
In valor's rigid school the hero forms.
Hence though it's sweet allurements Wealth display,
Though Pleasure wide extend her silken sway,
Still Europe may her manly sons behold,
Firm though luxurious, and though gentle bold;
The polish'd noble feels the generous fires
And dauntless courage of his feudal sires,
Her rule severe imperious Honor brings,
And checks the power of arbitrary kings.
Does Honor call?—unsheath'd the avenging sword
Mocks the stern mandate of the regal lord.
Does martial Honor point to bold renown?—
From sumptuous banquets, and from beds of down,
Elate and gay the pamper'd warrior flies
To fatal climates, and ungenial skies;
The extremes of heat and cold unshelter'd braves,
And tempts the furious strife of winds and waves;
Sees all around him crouding legions fall
Pierced by the gleaming steel, or distant ball,
Unmov'd receives the cannon's thundering breath,
And meets with breast unarm'd the shafts of death.
Ah Britain! while with radiance all divine
On thee the unsullied rays of Freedom shine!
While thy bold sons with steady eye pervade
Each form by ancient error sacred made,
The haughty noble's titled boast deride,
And treat with scorn hereditary pride,
Despise fantastic Honor's shadowy name,
Till Sense and Reason ratify her claim,
Dread in my bosom even those Virtues raise,
Anxious I view and tremble while I praise.
Though Rank in other climes may chance to tread
Insulting o'er indignant Merit's head,
Yet curb'd it's visionary fetters hold
The aspiring Slave of plunder, and of gold.
Custom will oft where Prudence yields, prevail,
And Prejudice may save if Wisdom fail:
Should e'er Corruption's dark insidious wave
Sap the firm barriers ancient Freedom gave;
Should Patriot Glory fly the ill-fated land,
And sordid Wealth the sole distinction stand,
What could repel with salutary force
Increasing Luxury's unbridled course?
Thy recreant sons may then lament too late
The happier errors of each neighbouring state;
And Virtue's pure ethereal substance fled,
Wish Honor's fainter semblance in it's stead.
Though Commerce wide her general blessings shower
When moderation bounds her restless power,
Though on our shores she spread with liberal hand
The fair productions of each distant land,
And richer harvests from our cultur'd fields
Rough Industry by her encourag'd yields,
Feeds both the toiling hive, and lazy drones,
The Hind that labors, and the Lord that owns;
Yet when forsaking every manlier thought,
Each firm resource with native vigor fraught,
A feeble state with abject hope relies
But on the uncertain aid her force supplies;
From imposts laid on vice subsistence draws,
And lavish waste encourages by laws;
Disdains each nobler call that charm'd of old,
And rates perfection by the test of gold,
Soon shall corruption with unbounded tide
In sweeping fury o'er the region ride;
While crouding woes the wretched empire wait
That strove by bloated weakness to be great,
Gave her own strength and inborn worth away
For the faint phantom of commercial sway;
Proud to extend a vast precarious reign
On Folly founded, and which Crimes maintain.
Sure, or the scene a gloomy aspect wears
View'd through the medium of prophetic fears,
Or now, even now, the sad contagion spreads,
And dire effects on British manners sheds.
The race who draw their worth from wealth alone,
Nor other rank, nor other merit own,
In high esteem by abject flattery placed,
Debase our morals, and corrupt our taste:
The dread infection flies from sire to son,
And Folly dissipates what Avarice won;
Expence the place of elegance supplies,
And half demolish'd Beauty's empire lies.
The breast that Education never form'd
Bright Science train'd, or sportive Fancy warm'd,
Knows not with mirth unting'd by scorn to please.
Be gay with dignity, and grave with ease,
But vents the jest uncouth with coarse delight,
And deems unmanner'd insolence polite.
While the rude vulgar glad to draw disgrace
On the invidious claims of birth, and place,
Applaud the glare by lavish Ignorance shewn,
And give distinctions chance may make their own.
Ye ancient Lords of Britain's fair domain!
'Tis yours to vindicate Refinement's reign;
Though Wisdom's eye disdain the titled slave
Staining the Honors which his fathers gave,
Yet with a brighter hue shall Virtues shine
That add new lustre to a noble line.—
Say is the pride of birth concentred all
In the old trophy and the banner'd hall?—
Yours be the fairer boast in docile youth
To catch from Learning's voice the lore of Truth,
Drink the pure reasonings of the patriot sage,
And cull each flower that decks the classic page,
Till by the fame of godlike heroes fir'd,
The man shall copy what the boy admir'd.
If leaving these superior aims ye try
In every vice with every fool to vie,
Each fair advantage fortune gives forego
To wage unequal conflict with the foe,
Say can the gazing croud be justly blam'd
Who pay to Wealth the deference Honor claim'd,
When sickly folly taints that generous worth
Which heighten'd grandeur and ennobled birth?
Your happier purpose be it to restore
The fame that waited Britain's Lords of yore,
Ere true Nobility's unblemish'd shape
Was chang'd for manners every knave can ape.
Yours be it Freedom's empire to support
No Faction's slaves, no flatterers of a Court.
Watch with keen eye the encroachments of the throne,
But guard it's rights for they protect your own.
Fly not, discharg'd each due of public care,
To breathe soft Dissipation's summer air,
Where Pleasure's hand prepares the poppied draught,
To drown reflection, and to deaden thought.
No, rather joy the shouting train to meet
Who hail the lord of each paternal seat;
Where your wide forests spread parental shade
View the gay scenes of rural taste display'd;
Let Hospitality's warm hand await
To court the stranger to the friendly gate;
Enforce with steady zeal your Country's laws,
To Justice true, and firm in Virtue's cause;
Curb Vice licentious in her mad career,
And teach oppressive Arrogance to fear;
Redress when injur'd Merit heaves the sigh,
And wipe the tear from pale Affliction's eye:
So shall your fame with purer honor live
Than wealth, than faction, or than rank can give,
While these best titles on each name attend,
The bad man's terror, and the poor man's friend.
Long may ye mock in this secure defence
The vain attempts of wealthy Insolence:
No more shall sense by rudeness be debas'd,
Or Fortune's lavish minions vitiate taste;
Her stores profuse no more shall Commerce fling,
But brood o'er Industry with fostering wing;
While your examples teach her wiser train
To use with prudence, what by care they gain.
And you ye fair! forgive the honest lay
That even your slightest errors dares display,
Nor think satiric rage my arm can move
To wound like Diomed the Queen of Love,
Though I presume to point the fated hour,
Mark'd with the symptoms of your fading power,
And mourn that all those arts which life refine,
Rais'd by your sway, shall with your sway decline.
Oft by the youth neglected now ye stand
Nor meet Attention's fond assiduous hand:
O be it yours to check with just disdain;
This mark of selfish Luxury's domain,
Ah! leave that thirst of riot's endless joy
Whose constant round your empire must destroy:
Beauties from scene to scene that restless fly
Lose all their force, and sate the public eye;
The midnight revel early age o'ertakes,
And the wan cheek the native rose forsakes;
Light Affectation too intent to please
Disfigures more than time or pale disease;
And tyrant Fashion with Procrustes' arm
Shapes to it's wild caprice each tortur'd charm.
For Love's! for Virtue's sake! ah lay aside
The undaunted forehead, and the martial stride!
Again the garb of female softness wear,
And quit the fierceness of the Grenadier:
For can the ornaments your cares combine
When all the toilet's rich materials shine,
Match blushing Modesty's transparent red
O'er the warm cheek in sweet suffusion spread,
Or like the downcast eye's mild lustre move,
Whose lid veils Meekness and whose glance is Love?
In fabled times by Ida's lofty wood,
When rival Goddesses contending stood,
Though Juno conscious of her awful mien
March'd with the state of Jove's imperious Queen,
Though Pallas deck'd her Amazonian charms
In the refulgent glare of radiant arms,
Yet Love prevail'd in Cytherea's eyes,
And smiling Beauty gain'd the golden prize.
From Albion far may heaven's benign decrees
Avert the storms my anxious mind foresees:
Still may she shine with pure Refinement's grace
Secure on Virtue's adamantine base;
Prosperous awhile though private Vice may stand,
No miracle can save a vicious land;
In life's calm paths though fortune oft dispense
Success to Guilt, and pain to Innocence.
Whence Faith with strengthen'd eye beyond the tomb
Sees the dread hour of Justice yet to come,
On public crimes must early vengeance wait,
And speedy ruin wrap an impious state,
Since from the offence the sure correction springs,—
And her own scourge abandon'd Folly brings.
But let not man attempt with bounded skill
To search the depths of Heaven's eternal will,
Inspect the rolls of fate with fruitless care,
And read the future doom of empires there.
Enough, her eye as cool Reflection throws
O'er all the scenes these lengthen'd lays disclose,
To mark each prospect as they move along,
And draw these moral maxims from the song:
That though Refinement know with temperate ray
To wake each bloom of Merit into day,
Urg'd to excess her heighten'd powers destroy
The expanding bud, and blast each promis'd joy,
As storms and sultry gleams o'ercome the flower
Rais'd by the genial sun, and gentle shower.
That Education, while her careful art
Clears from each baneful Prejudice the heart
Must cherish inborn Glory's generous aim,
The source of rising Worth, and future Fame.
That above all, on each ingenuous breast
Be with strong force this sacred Truth impress'd;
No polish'd Manners rival Virtue's price,
No savage Ignorance disgusts like Vice.
Faringdon Hill. Book Ii
The sultry hours are past, and Phœbus now
Spreads yellower rays along the mountain's brow:
The broken clouds unnumber'd tints display,
Drinking the effulgence of departing day;
And to our eyes present a radiant view,
Italia's purpled ether never knew.
The eastern prospect now attracts the sight
Where every shrub reflects the setting light:
With ruddy flash the cottage casement gleams,
And shines the waving wood with golden beams.
Where Isis stream divides yon distant glade,
Lo Nuneham rises 'midst the sombre shade;
While at her feet, as the clear current bends,
The lofty spire of Abingdon ascends.
Hygeia and her Oread train inhale
On Radley's site the pure ethereal gale.
On Cherbury's ramparts, urg'd by peaceful toil,
The shining plowshare turns the fruitful soil,
Where erst the peasant saw with anxious fear
The gleaming falchion and protended spear.
On Hinton's verdant brow the lofty trees
Tremble obedient to the evening breeze:
And Pusey her inverted dome surveys,
In the smooth stream that through her meadows strays.
See Buckland here her lovely scenes display,
Which rude e'er while in rich disorder lay,
Till Taste and Genius with corrective hand
Spread culture's nicest vesture o'er the land,
Rang'd every object in it's fairest light,
And call'd each latent beauty to the sight;
Cloth'd the declining slope with pendant wood,
And o'er the sedge-grown meadow pour'd the flood,
While manly Execution's active arm
Wakes to existence each ideal charm.
In the deep gloom of yon impervious bowers,
There Carswell hides her hospitable towers:
And at our feet where the rich pastures spread,
Lo Wadley rears her renovated head,
As art and active labor, join'd, improve
Each fair extended lawn and rising grove,
New scenes unfolding still on every side
Declare the affluence industry supply'd.
Blush! blush, ye sons of power! who proudly stand
Rich in the ruins of your native land;
Who every virtue, every right have sold,
For royal smiles, or ministerial gold;
Proud on your breasts a glittering badge to bear,
True honor hates, and freedom scorns to wear,
If worth, or shewn in peace, or prov'd in war,
Shed not a livelier lustre than the star?
Blush, ye fell race! who cross'd the briny flood,
Foes to mankind! and prodigal of blood!
With wanton rage to waft pale famine o'er
From Albion's cliffs to sad Bengala's shore:
Where starving myriads on the cruel train
Call'd Justice' awful sword, but call'd in vain;
Till Britain's senate, fir'd with patriot flame,
Resolv'd to vindicate her country's fame,
Bade England's laws to Ganges' banks extend,
And equal rule the Indian's life defend.
Though Grecia's orders grace your marble dome,
Though blooms the fairest landscape where ye roam,
Yet sacred Justice shall your seats pervade,
And Conscience haunt you through the deepest shade:
Whilst him whose wealth the arts of Commerce raise,
Mankind shall honor, and the Muse shall praise.
But if like thine, O Charles! his generous heart,
The smiles of fortune to his friends impart;
If heaven, that gave him affluence, gave him too
A soul to every social duty true;
Virtue with joy shall chant his favor'd name,
And give a wreath beyond the power of fame;
While all who know his worth exulting find
That fortune, blessing him, has blest mankind.
Lo Shellingford, an Stanford, 'midst the train
Of hoary trees that skirt yon level plain,
The lofty tower and pointed spire display
Conspicuous, glittering in the western ray:
And on yon hill it's distant head that rears,
Lockinge aloft thy shining dome appears!
Beneath, what woodland nymph with artful hand
The vaulted grotto's sparry roof has plann'd,
Taught the rude arch with pendant ore to shine,
And rang'd each bright production of the mine?
No sylvan Goddess this retreat can claim,
Form'd by the fancy of a mortal dame;
Who from yon humble vale's irriguous bed
To the high cliff the crystal fountain led;
Thence bade in murmurs soft the lucid wave
Pour it's fair current through the craggy cave;
Where every Naiad 'midst the rocks reclin'd,
Approves what Taste and Wymondesold design'd.
Ye envious trees! why does your leafy pride,
Stretch'd o'er the bending valley, Wantage hide?—
Sure every Muse and every Grace will join
With votive hands the fairest wreath to twine;
Cull with assiduous toil the choicest flowers,
And hang the brightest garland on her towers:
While grateful Liberty shall love the shade,
Her guardian chief where fostering Virtue laid;
And Britain's Genius bless the hallow'd earth
Which gave her patriot king, her Alfred, birth.
That equal laws these happy regions share
Springs, Prince benign! from thy paternal care.
Through the dark mists which Error o'er mankind
Tenfold had spread, and wrap'd the human mind;
At thy command fair Science shot her light,
And chas'd the horrid gloom of Gothic night;
To Isis' brink the wandering Muses led,
And taught each drooping art to lift her head:
Hence with the warrior laurel's blood-stain'd bough
That binds with sacred wreath thy conquering brow,
Wisdom's illustrious Goddess interweaves
With mystic hand her olive's peaceful leaves.
Thine is the gift that here no alien crew,
To venal interest more than justice true,
Judge with unpitying eye misfortune's cause,
With cruel power enforcing cruel laws;
But watchful Themis o'er each freeman rears
That sacred shield, the judgment of his peers,
By which protected Britain's dauntless train
See factions rage, and tyrants frown, in vain.
O dear-bought Freedom! if thy holy flame
Burns in our souls, nor rests an empty name;
If for thy sake the kindling warmth we feel
Unwarp'd by selfish views or party zeal;
May we with wakeful, nay with jealous, eye
Regard this hallow'd source of Liberty;
This once attack'd, on which her rights depend,
May every breast the guardian power defend;
Each patriot tongue assert our injur'd laws,
And pour resistless sounds in Freedom's cause;
Each patriot arm, should eloquence be vain,
Lift the dread falchion on the embattled plain;
May we with more than ancient zeal pursue
Rights, Rome and boasted Athens never knew;
Guard this Palladium with our latest breath,
Or perish with it in a glorious death!
Where from the fertile plains yon hills arise,
Quit the low vales and shoot into the skies,
Carv'd rudely on the pendant sod, is seen
The snow-white courser stretching o'er the green:
The antique figure scan with curious eye,
The glorious monument of victory!
There England rear'd her long dejected head,
There Alfred triumph'd, and invasion bled.
Long had proud Denmark stretch'd the iron hand
Of harsh oppression o'er the groaning land;
The freeborn swains, to mean subjection broke,
In silent sorrow bore the opprobrious yoke:
Their virtuous prince to wilds and forests driven,
No shed to screen him from the inclement heaven,
Hears all around his subjects cries ascend,
And sees them sink unable to defend;
Chas'd by his foes disguis'd he treads the plain,
A wretched exile in his own domain!
Much hardship borne, and many dangers past,
On suffering Virtue Fortune smiles at last:
Arous'd to vengeance by his people's woe
He frowns defiance on the insulting foe;
Leaves every fear and every doubt behind.—
High waves the Saxon banner to the wind!
Fir'd at the sight, the country far and wide
Pours forth her veteran sons on every side;
His trusty bow each hardy yeoman draws,
Or lifts his shining brand in Freedom's cause:
Freedom resounds from each determin'd voice,
Freedom the first, and death the second, choice;
Courage and Conquest o'er their helmets play;
The invader trembled at the dread array;
Onward resistless march'd the impetuous host;
And fell Oppression fled the hostile coast:
The exulting steed in conquering standards flies,
While Denmark's raven screaming quits the skies;
And hence the Victor's jocund hands portray'd
The Saxon ensign on yon verdant glade.
His country freed, discerning Alfred saw
How vain the civil bond of social law;
Of crowds untrain'd how weak the hasty aid,
When force prevails, and barbarous hosts invade.
That policy which guards each modern throne
Was then to Europe's bounded kings unknown;
No artful statesman then with treacherous breast
Arm'd half a people to enslave the rest.
With wiser care a rampart firm he plann'd,
To guard from future foes the happy land,
Bade Liberty her rash assailants brave,
And Freemen vindicate what Freedom gave.
He taught each sturdy laborer of the field
The sickle and the sword by turns to wield:
With chearful industry the generous swains
Till for their wealthy lords the peaceful plains;
Or, rous'd from rural toil by war's alarms,
Beneath their well-known banners rush to arms.
Let other realms where Freedom never smil'd,
O'eraw'd by rigor, or by fraud beguil'd,
See mercenary bands surround the throne,
Or safety seek from alien arms alone:
But shall not England blush for every son
Too proud to guard the rights his sires have won?
Rights, in whose cause full many a warrior stood,
By toil obtain'd, and seal'd with patriot blood!
Though envy frown, though venal millions blame,
Shall she not ever love her Chatham's name,
Who while on distant climes her rage he pour'd,
Prudent at home this best defence restor'd;
Her manly sons array'd with parent care,
Arous'd once more her manly youth to war,
And bade her breezy hills, and fruitful plains,
Send forth in arms again their native swains.
Lives there a man in this exulting isle,
Who sees our orchards bloom, our harvests smile,
Who every breath in perfect freedom draws,
His rights protected by the noblest laws;
Would wish to break the fence by wisdom plann'd,
And wrest the sword from every freeman's hand,
Wish to behold our bare defenceless coasts
Unarm'd, or guarded but by foreign hosts?
Dare thy strong powers O Eloquence employ!
This best internal bulwark to destroy?—
Though every guile of specious Fraud he use,
'Mid listening crowds his Poison to infuse;
Try every Wile his curs'd Designs to hide:—
Superior Truth his Cunning shall deride,
Shall tear each paltry mean Disguise away,
Expose his Rancor to the face of day;
His selfish Views to all mankind impart,
And shew the Traitor graven on his heart.
Now turn your eyes and from the mountain's brow
Direct them to the cultur'd vale below;
How rich the spacious plains that stretch between!
How ripe the harvests, and the meads how green!
The herds in myriads o'er the pastures throng;
And mingled lowings break each rural song.
Where e'er with patient care the laborer's hand
Guides the sharp plow-share through the fertile land,
The farmers see the produce crown their toil,
Eye the rich scene, and bless the happy soil.
Soon shall the yellow wealth whose swelling grains
The stalk low bending hardly now sustains,
Stor'd in the barn with jocund labor, yield
To every rural sport the uncumber'd field.
The pointer then shall o'er the stubbled vale
Range unconfin'd, and catch the tainted gale:
The hound's quick scent, or greyhound's eager view,
O'er the smooth plain the timid hare pursue;
Then swelling on the burthen'd breeze afar,
Shall burst the tumult of the woodland war;
While rush the daring youth with breathless speed
To see the wily fox unpity'd bleed.
Let not the Muse the active toil despise,
Or from the chace avert her angry eyes:
Though gentle Shenstone deem'd the hunter's throat
Drown'd with it's clamorous strain the lyric note:
Though pensive Thomson, indolently laid
Beneath the silver willows trembling shade,
Baiting with cruel art the treacherous hook,
To lure the guiltless inmates of the brook,
Blame, as his hands the barbed weapon draw
From the mute wretches agonizing jaw,
Those, who in manly sport with frantic joy
The rapid tenants of the wood destroy:
Yet has the warbling lyre in many a strain
Describ'd the active pleasures of the plain.
The moral bard of Windsor's royal groves
Sings of the hunter, and his toil approves;
Even he, whose verse to mortal eyes has given
The wrath of angels, and the wars of heaven,
Joyful has listen'd to the hounds, and horn,
Rousing with chearful peal the slumbering morn:
Nor shall with brow averse the rural Muse
To Somerville the Poet's meed refuse,
Whose skilful notes each sylvan pastime trace,
And teach the various mazes of the chace;
Whence livelier thoughts and lighter spirits rise,
Strength knits the limbs and courage fires the eyes,
Glows in the ruddy cheek a purer blood,
And rolls the tide of life a sprightlier flood.
Propitious now on Britain's favor'd isle
Though white-rob'd Peace and jocund Plenty smile;
Though while her wrath on hostile shores is hurl'd,
Unhurt she sits amidst a warring world;
Say, have the tranquil scenes which now we see
Been ever such, and must they ever be?
Ah! may not Civil Discord stalk again
With bloody footsteps o'er her ravag'd plain?
Or fell invasion waste her fenceless coast,
Her guardian Fleet by adverse tempests toss'd?
Then, if our country's bleeding breast demands
The aid of dauntless breasts, and ready hands,
To the stout race who haunt the hill and dale
Will nothing then the hunter's toil avail?—
While round her feeble votary's drooping brow
What verdant wreaths shall letter'd sloth bestow?
In vain may Patriot Zeal the bosom warm,
If pale disease unnerve the willing arm:
While the bold youth whose hardy frame defies
The force of fighting winds and angry skies;
Who braving winter's rage pursues the chace,
The sleety tempest rattling in his face;
Or when the dog-star shoots his sultry rays,
Rages unconquer'd by the scorching blaze;
Shall, if he lead Britannia's rustic train,
To the dread conflict of some bloody plain,
Shrink not, though summer suns their beams unfold,
Or biting frosts intensely pierce with cold,
But Freedom's call with stedfast march pursue
Through noontide's sultry heat, or midnight's chilling dew.
Too much the enervate bards of modern days
Attune to slothful ease their moral lays;
The seats of ancient lore their favorite theme,
Lyceum's shade, and hoary Academe;
Forgetful that the stadium's hardy toil,
The boxer's cæstus, and the wrestler's oil,
Sent Grecia's heroes forth a vigorous train,
Learn'd in the schools and victors on the plain.
The Athenian sage, his Country's pride and shame,
Is known to martial, as to letter'd, fame;
Now did he sooth with truth's divine behest,
Young Alcibiades, thy fervent breast,
Now through the paths of war thy steps he led,
And rear'd his guardian buckler o'er thy head,
And he, whose mind with active virtue fraught,
Practis'd each lesson that his master taught,
Not satisfied of love divine to dream,
By the still margin of Ilissus' stream,
Or in warm Fancy's vivid tints to draw
Ideal forms of Polity and Law;
The illustrious Chief who led his glorious band
O'er barren rocks, and deserts black with sand,
Still undismay'd amid surrounding woes,
Still scattering terror on unnumber'd foes.
Learn'd 'midst the echoing forests to sustain
The toils of war and all her horrid train;
Then taught, descending to the embattled field,
Barbarian rage and Persian wiles to yield.
Let Luxury's vain sons with careless pride
The votaries firm of manly toil deride,
Wrap'd in inglorious sloth, let them despise
The noble thirst of glorious enterprise.
But shall the Muse, whose hand should point the road
Which leads o'er rugged steeps to fame's abode;
Whose voice should loudly chant each Hero's name,
To wake in other minds a kindred flame?—
Shall she inglorious now in siren lays
Lavish on harmless Indolence her praise;
Damp the strong flame that warms the noble breast,
And hush each generous passion into rest?
Shall she to those alone confine the song,
Who creep obscure life's tranquil vale along,
And blame the dauntless few who dare explore
The dangerous rocks of bold Ambition's shore;
Who tempt with venturous prow life's stormy seas,
And toil themselves to buy for others ease;
Unaw'd by tyrant power, or factious hate,
Who tread with blameless feet the paths of state;
Or pluck bight honor's sacred meed afar,
Undaunted, from the frowning front of war?
Well may with pious hand the indignant Muse
To many a Victor's brow the wreath refuse,
Well may she tear the laurel vainly spread
O'er many a King's and many a Warrior's head;
And curse a Cæsar's or a Cromwell's name,
Though erring myriads call their ravage fame.
But shall not they who conquer, or who die,
In the great strife of injur'd Liberty,
A tribute from the peaceful bard expect,
Sung by those Muses whom their swords protect?
Say cannot Greece and Rome their warriors bring,
To whom even Virtue's hand might strike the string?
Say cannot Albion, 'mongst whose sons we find
All that exalts and dignifies mankind;
Say cannot she afford such themes of praise
As well might grace the poet's chastest lays?
She can!—she can!—Her Alfred planning laws,
Her Godlike Hambden bleeding in their cause;
Guiding with uncorrupted hands the state
Her Walsingham in scorn of fortune great;
Her gallant Wolfe triumphant even in death,
While weeping Victory caught his parting breath;
Her Hawke, whose ardor rocks nor shoals could bar,
Nor the dread rage of elemental war,
While his bold fleet the Gaul's design explores,
Destroys his navy, and insults his shores;
Are themes whose force the coldest bard may fire,
To call forth rapture from his sounding lyre,
While Truth shall listen to the warbling strings,
And Reason vindicate what Fancy sings.
Enough, rash Muse! tempt not the arduous height
Which asks the Epic or Pindaric flight:
To the fair vale again reduce the lay,
Ere envious twilight snatch the scene away;
For evening's shades with deepening tint prevail,
And darkness soon shall wrap the misty dale.
Here Coleshill's towers demand their share of fame,
Proud of their site, and their great Artist's name;
There, shelter'd from the storm by bowering trees,
The milder charms of verdant Becket please.
What though her level lawn nor sinks, nor swells,
Forms rising hills, or hollow-winding dells;
Yet every friend to genuine taste, who roves
Or by her shining lakes or through her groves,
Shall see a Grace in every solemn shade,
And own that Beauty crowns each watery glade.
Let Taste capricious strive to charm the heart
With all the nice perplexities of art,
With toil immense a sickly scene produce
Trifling in ornament as void of use,
Bid Britain's hills Arabia's sweets perfume,
Bid in our vales Sabæan roses bloom,
Bid summer's fruits 'mid winter's frosts appear,
Force stubborn Nature and invert the year.
To blend utility with each design
The nobler praise, O Barrington! be thine;
The smooth canal whose ample sheet supplies
Food for the board, and pleasure to the eyes,
O'er the morass in shining volumes laid
Drains the moist surface of the rushy glade,
And where the marsh and frequent slough impede
The shatter'd carriage, and the floundering steed,
There the firm causeys form'd by useful care
O'er the deep vale the thankful traveller bear.
Contract the prospect now, and mark more near
Fair Faringdon her humble turret rear,
Where once the tapering spire conspicuous grew,
Till civil strife the sacred pile o'erthrew:
For as on hapless Stuart's ruin bent,
Against yon walls their lord his thunder sent,
And led with ruthless rage the hostile train,
While his own weeping Lares plead in vain;
The balls invade, with erring fury driven,
The hallow'd structure consecrate to heaven.
Such is alas the baleful fruit that springs
From factious subjects and oppressive kings!
Beneath yon roof by the cold pavement press'd,
My peaceful sires in solemn silence rest.—
Imagination flags her pinions here,
And o'er the marble drops the filial tear;
Here too the Muse prepares the votive verse,
The mournful tribute to a Parent's herse;—
O sacred Name! by every tie endear'd!
Lov'd by your friends, by all who knew rever'd.
How well you bore, to Freedom ever just,
This fertile County's delegated Trust,
The British Senate saw, when firm you stood,
Firm to fair Virtue, and your Country's good;
Friend to the worth from Patriot Zeal that springs,
No dupe to Faction, and no Slave to Kings.
How far your private merits could extend,
How kind a Father, and how warm a Friend,
My faultering voice would strive to sing in vain,
For gushing tears would choke the imperfect strain;
The force of words unequal to impart
The strong sensations of my heaving heart.
Here ever slumbering with the silent dead,
Thy daughter, glorious Hambden! rests her head.
Ah cruel mother! say, why does not here
Thy youthful Hambden press his early bier?
Why does no storied urn his worth proclaim,
Who shar'd his grandsire's virtues with his name?—
Untimely on a distant shore he died,
The wretched victim of a parent's pride.
Ye mourning Loves and Graces, aid the verse,
While I in plaintive notes his woes rehearse;
To these his native fields his wrongs relate,
The hapless story of a Lover's fate.
His youthful form could boast each manly grace,
Health strung his nerves, and beauty deck'd his face;
Ingenuous shame, and truth that scorns disguise,
Glow in his cheek, and sparkle in his eyes:
But ah! when manhood now with genial ray
Began to call his virtues into day,
Love! all controling Love! whose fatal power
Spares the rank weed to crop the blushing flower,
Nip'd all his ripening graces in their bloom,
And early mark'd his merits for the tomb.
An aged swain, whose lowly cottage stood
Where 'midst the valley spreads yon rising wood,
A lovely daughter had, whose matchless form
The frozen heart of sapless age might warm:
With falling snow her polish'd skin could vie,
Her lips the coral sham'd, the jet her eye:
There love and modesty united speak,
And opening roses paint her glowing cheek;
The soft redundance of her hair behind
Flow'd loose, and careless wanton'd in the wind;
Such powerful charms the youthful Hambden fire,
He saw perfection, and he felt desire:
The growing passion every thought employs,
Disturbs his peace, and poisons all his joys.
Maria's image ever in his breast
His daily ease destroys and nightly rest;
From his wan cheek the lively crimson flies,
And smiling health forsakes his sinking eyes:
No more his well-breath'd hounds, at early dawn
Ranging, dash eager o'er the dewy lawn;
Now sad he wanders through the sylvan glades,
And sighs responsive to the lonesome shades,
Each Echo answers to his mournful tale,
And pensive numbers float on every gale.
But, as increasing Love resistless grew,
From his torn bosom vanquish'd Prudence flew;
To fair Maria's feet he sighing came,
Confess'd her empire and avow'd his flame;
Soon his soft words the beauteous virgin move,
And secret Hymen crown'd his eager love.
Now peace and happiness appear to spread
Their flattering pinions o'er his favor'd head;
Love every joy and every charm supplies,
And marks each golden moment as it flies.
Ah hapless pair! the short-liv'd bliss enjoy,
Soon shall impending clouds your calm destroy;
Even now, with more than mortal vengeance red,
The tempest bursts on each devoted head.
Ten quick-revolving moons had roll'd away,
And smiling transport crown'd each happy day;
When various symptoms to the world disclose
Maria soon must feel a mother's throes:
The busy neighbours round the tale proclaim,
And scowling Envy triumphs in her shame.
At length the generous youth, distress'd to hear
Each clownish tongue her reputation tear,
Throws with indignant scorn the veil aside,
And owns the fair Maria for his bride.
Soon as his cruel mother heard the tale,
Swift grows her cheek with trembling anger pale;
In vain his youth, in vain her beauties plead,
Instant revenge pursues the imprudent deed;
No worth could please to peasants when allied,
No charms disarm the force of female pride.—
Say did thy Father such distinctions find,
Amidst the equal race of human kind,
When his keen sword he drew in Freedom's cause,
And bled to vindicate her trampled laws?
While rage and hate the ruthless matron fire,
She bears the fatal tidings to his sire,
Tries every art a father's wrath to move,
Awake his vengeance, and subdue his love.
With savage cruelty they now divide
The hapless Hambden from his weeping bride:
She rends her hair, and beats her breast in vain,
Torn from her arms he seeks the distant main.
It chanc'd that Britain's hardy sons prepare
To pour on haughty Spain their naval war.—
Brief let me be, the winds propitious blew,
Proud o'er the waves the gallant navy flew;
Britain aloft her bloody ensign spread,
Iberia saw, she trembled, and she fled;
While her resistless foes exulting bore
The spoils of India to their native shore.—
Ah gallant youth! nor native shore, nor friend,
Shall e'er to thee their welcome sight extend;
Far on a hostile coast thy body lies,
Wash'd by rude waves, or scorch'd by sultry skies.
When sad Maria heard the tale of woe,
From her full eyes no gushing torrents flow;
No current gives her burthen'd breast relief,
But pale she sullen sits in silent grief;
Till her heart bursting with redoubled sighs,
She calls her much lov'd Hambden's name, and dies.
The haughty parents, then alas too late!
Mourn their unhappy son's disastrous fate;
Grieve for the woes their fatal rage supply'd,
Tear their gray locks, and curse their foolish pride;
Pour tears of anguish o'er Maria's grave,
And weep the victims they refus'd to save.
Turn from these solemn scenes the averted head,
The awful mansions of the silent dead!
To where the green-rob'd Dryads joyful rove
'Midst the thick foliage of yon echoing grove.—
Ah blissful seats! beneath whose pleasing shade
My Childhood and my Youth delighted stray'd;
Here first my eyes beheld the gems that shine
Bright and resplendent from the classic mine;
While as I gaz'd my youthful bosom glow'd,
And from my tongue untutor'd numbers flow'd.
Here far from every selfish passion's reach,
Which the world's dangerous school will often teach,
I pour'd to real Love one artless tear,
And breath'd at Friendship's shrine the vow sincere.
The Muses here their grateful offerings pay,
And dedicate to you their closing lay;
Nor ask a brighter wreath to grace their song,
Than verdant grows these waving woods among.
Blest, happy Regions! seats of joy and ease!
Which still have pleas'd me, and must ever please;
Should e'er a Tyrant's Sway, or Faction's Roar,
Drive Liberty from this her native shore;
Though following her, I'd rather friendless go
Through Afric's burning wastes, or Zembla's snow,
Than haunt these much-lov'd shades and favorite springs,
Robb'd of the joys that independence brings:
Yet should I wander to a fairer plain
Than thought can paint, or youthful fancy feign;
Still should I load with sighs the reckless wind,
Still weep those darling scenes I left behind.
If this be weakness! from my beating heart
O never!—never! may that weakness part!—
Let the proud Stoic with disdainful eyes
The thought of local prejudice despise,
And boast in every soil and every air
Where Virtue florishes, his country there;
But ask the generous train whose bosoms beat
With gentle feelings, as with patriot heat;
Would not to see each long-frequented shade
Low on the earth by hostile vengeance laid,
On Albion's desolated fields to gaze,
See her towers fall, her splendid cities blaze;
Though every friend had left the ruin'd coast,
And weeping Freedom mourn'd her empire lost,
Still with new rage their kindling breasts inspire,
And bid their bosoms glow with fiercer fire.
But far from us such sad events shall be,
If aught the Muse prophetic can foresee;
Still Peace and heavenly Liberty shall smile,
With wonted sweetness on their long-lov'd isle;
Pale Tyranny avoid the hostile shore,
And Faction lift her scorpion scourge no more;
Each freeborn swain still reap with thankful hand,
Secure from wrongs, the produce of his land:
And lovely Faringdon! my voice shall still
Or in thy groves, or on this healthful hill,
In rustic numbers sing the happy plains,
Where Freedom triumphs, and where Brunswick reigns.
The Progress Of Refinement. Part I.
As when the stream by casual fountains fed
First gushes from the cavern's mossy bed,
Dashing from rock to rock, the scanty rill
With no luxuriant herbage clothes the hill;
Yet when increas'd the ampler current flows,
Each bordering mead with deeper verdure glows,
It's lingering waves through painted vallies glide,
And Health and Plenty deck it's verdant side;
Till swell'd by wintry storms and sweeping rains,
If chance it's rising deluge drown the plains,
The stagnate waters choke the sedgy soil,
And the fond hopes of future harvests foil:
So first Refinement in it's infant hour
Sheds o'er the savage tribe an useless power,
Nor can it's feeble energy impart
Or grace or softness to the human heart;
But when in Reason's moderate bounds confin'd
It's plenteous streams invigorate the mind,
The rising Arts their genial influence share,
And all the social Virtues flourish there;
Till Luxury's polluting torrents roll
A flood destructive o'er the enervate soul,
And to the flowers of generous growth succeeds
The baneful progeny of Vice's weeds.
Man, ere by rules of civil compact taught,
(Uncouth his form, and unimprov'd his thought,)
O'er the rude waste a selfish savage goes,
Nor mutual cares, nor mutual kindness knows,
How to subsist his Being's sole employ,
Strength all his art, and rapine all his joy;
And where a steril soil, and frowning heaven,
Are to his race by ruthless Nature given,
Compell'd by chace his scanty food to gain,
Pierc'd by sharp winds, or drench'd by chilling rain,
While from the assailing climate, rigid grown,
The alter'd fibres lose each nicer tone,
Long is the torpid soul by want oppress'd,
And dawning Reason slowly lights the breast.
But when his milder, happier portion, lies
In kindly regions, and more genial skies,
Where balmy sweets the ambient gales dispense,
And native Luxury enchants the sense,
Where Earth disdaining cultivation's care
Bids her free sons the luscious banquet share,
And the thick groves a roof sufficient spread
To shield from dews and heat the slumbering head;
Press'd by no want, in leisure's vacant hours
The expanding Mind perceives her latent powers,
And from the silken air the nerves derive,
To each sensation tremblingly alive,
Pleasures uncheck'd by labor's stern control,
And bear each finer feeling to the soul.
Then as reclining on the fertile soil,
Unknown the want of culture's stubborn toil,
His grazing charge the gentle herdsman tends,
And o'er the vale his eye delighted bends,
Ten thousand lovely images suggest
The dreams of Fancy to his tranquil breast,
The female form his soften'd heart inspires
With milder thoughts and more refin'd desires,
Sweet notes of rural courtship fill the grove,
And flow the tender strains of pastoral love:
Or as his eyes the nightly ether view,
And trace the heavenly concave's cloudless blue,
He learns to know what different signs appear
To guide and regulate the varied year;
Observes the changeful Moon alternate show
Her orb full-beaming, and her waning bow,
And marks the inferior Planets as they roll
In stated periods round the shining pole.
Hence every charm that polish'd Nature knows,
All that eludes or weakens human woes
First dawn'd in regions where the solar beam
Pours with superior force the effulgent stream,
And to our view the infant Arts arise
Beneath the warmth of Asia's fostering skies,
Or on Arabia's happier coasts inhale,
Loaded with sweets, the aromatic gale,
Or with attentive ear the fables learn
Of mystic lore, by Nile's redundant urn;
Till gently wafted by the favoring breeze
O'er the smooth surface of Ionian seas,
The smiling train their lovely offspring bore
To rise and flourish on the Grecian shore.
Inventive Fancy emulous to raise
For Worth deceas'd the monument of praise,
To bid Fame live beyond this transient breath,
And snatch heroic deeds from icy death,
With filial love the frail memorial rear'd,
And the heap'd fragment mark'd the tomb rever'd:
But vain the pious care!—Oblivion's sway
Soon swept each undistinguish'd name away,
The story of renown no breast retains,
And unexplain'd the mouldering pile remains.
Then ripening Genius sought the Muses aid,
And rustic Verse it's opening powers display'd;
Though no soft grace of polish'd diction shine,
Though harsh the cadence, and though rude the line,
Yet strengthen'd Memory felt the useful art
That fix'd the favorite legend in the heart;
The hoary Sage the sure advantage saw,
And in rough strains promulg'd his simple law,
In the short verse the moral rule compress'd,
And early form'd to truth the docile breast.
The infant warblings of the Muses lyre
Subdue the will perverse, and passion dire;
Their gloomy wilds the savage race forsook
As Orpheus sung, and milder manners took,
And charm'd to order by Amphion's lay
The forms of civil life mankind obey.
As bursts the beam of day through clouded skies
At length with light ethereal Letters rise,
To chain the fleeting sound their magic taught,
Portray'd the Idea, and embodied thought;
Blest, happiest, privilege to mortals given!
Which wings the aspiring soul from Earth to Heaven.
Whether progressive skill the art acquir'd,
Or power divine the sacred gift inspir'd;
Whether a mere invention of the Mind
As opening Science civiliz'd mankind,
Or a peculiar mark of heavenly grace
At first bestow'd on Israel's favor'd race
Though Reason doubt;—from morn to setting day
The various tribes of human-kind survey,
And own that all who following Wisdom's plan
Fulfil those duties that distinguish Man;
All who extend their penetrating sight
Beyond the reach of animal delight,
This blessing from one common fountain share,
Though ting'd with ignorance, or refin'd by care:
Even Greece where letter'd Science prosper'd best
It's oriental origin confess'd,
Fix'd by the fabled Author Asia's claim,
And mark'd it's source by Cadmus' mystic name.
As the ripe feed when sown with skilful toil
Soon feels the influence of a friendly soil,
With rapid shoots the planter's care repays,
And high in air it's waving boughs displays;
So Greece beheld the ingenuous Arts expand
In her congenial air, and kindly land,
While Freedom by the insulting despot driven
From Southern climes, and Asia's warmer heaven,
Fix'd with delight her European throne
Oe'r favor'd realms, and regions all her own.
Cheer'd by her sway each slumbering Muse awakes,
And from her smiles superior vigor takes:
Now Poesy with animating fire
Throws her bold fingers o'er the Epic wire,
And Lyric Extasy exulting sings
Borne on the Theban eagle's towering wings,
While the chaste Drama rising by degrees,
By care successive polish'd, learns to please,
From the rude outlines of the mimic art
First shewn by Thespis in his wandering cart,
To the fam'd Bards whose labor'd scenes engage
The dumb attention of the Attic stage.
Soon every Science, every Art succeeds,
Happy to follow where a Sister leads.
Charm'd from her seats on Egypt's watery plain,
And freed from fabling Error's mystic chain,
Through the still gloom of Academus' shade
Philosophy with solemn footstep stray'd;
Bold Imitation still to Nature true
The perfect form from perfect models drew,
For ne'er were equall'd Grecia's lovely race
Or for the faultless shape, or beauteous face.
Music devoid of each capricious art
Touch'd with her sweetest melody the heart:
And Architecture plann'd, in awful state
The Dome with just proportion simply great,
Or nobly plain the Doric pile appear'd,
Or her light column soft Ionia rear'd,
Or Corinth bade her polish'd Temples rise
With ornamental grandeur to the skies.
With force united this illustrious train
Grac'd the loud forum, and the holy fane,
But chiefly were their magic charms combin'd
When the lov'd Drama fix'd the Athenian mind:
Whether the drops of generous pity spring
At the sad fate of Thebes' unhappy King,
Or glows the exulting heart with patriot flame
To hear the tale of Grecia's ancient fame,
On this delightful source of virtuous joy
The lavish Arts their choicest skill employ,
And all their various powers at once convene
To dress in gorgeous pomp the attractive scene.
Encourag'd thus by Freedom's favoring smiles,
While every Muse the listening ear beguiles,
While Wisdom grave, and polish'd Grace combine,
At once to form the Virtues, and refine,
Improvement spreads to life's more humble cares,
And Industry the happy influence shares:
Down the steep cliff, and o'er the craggy brow
Strong Agriculture drives his laboring plow,
And to the currents of the rising gale
Adventurous Commerce trusts her swelling sail;
To the bleak rock the cultur'd glebe succeeds,
Where waves the harvest and the vintage bleeds,
And the fraught vessel with her woven wings
The wealth of nations to Piræus brings.
Rous'd by those honors cull'd by Glory's hand
To dress the Victor on the Olympic sand,
With active toil each ardent stripling tries
To bind his forehead with the immortal prize;
Hence strength and beauty deck the Grecian race,
And manly labor gives them manly grace.—
Yet while the scenes of Nature and of Art
The perfect forms of elegance impart,
While Wisdom's sacred lore the bosom warms,
And brighter Virtue boasts her moral charms,
The bliss in social intercourse that lies
Unknown they lose, or knowing they despise,
Illiberal folly 'midst their mirth we find,
And savage grossness taints the noblest mind,
The genial board licentious sports beguile,
And sages woo the harlot's venal smile.
For the soft Sex whose mild enchanting power
With gentle pleasure cheers the festal hour,
Denied the banquet's temperate joys to share,
Are the mere drudges made of houshold care;
Hence faint the force of that refin'd desire
Which modest Beauty only can inspire.
To other paths diverted passion turns,
And with enthusiast ardor Friendship burns.—
Far be it from the virgin Muse to try
O'er that mysterious scene to throw her eye.
Enough for her, while every manly breast
She sees in Virtue's purest radiance dress'd,
Sees every heart, with patriot Glory warm,
Check the proud war, or perish in the storm,
To cry like Philip on that fatal plain
Where Victory wept the sacred Thebans slain,
Curs'd be the slanderous tongue that worth like this would stain.
Though some prevailing characters we trace
Through every nation of the Grecian race,
Though Superstition, Manners, Speech, the same,
One common origin to all proclaim;
Though when the different states assembled stood
By Pisa's shades, or fair Castalia's flood,
Where each time-hallow'd rite conspir'd to draw
On the full festival religious awe,
By the mix'd forms of mutual converse taught
The separate tribes congenial features caught;
Yet Greece no general bond of empire found
Which all her sons in one firm compact bound,
But each republic as it's fabric rose
Peculiar laws, peculiar customs chose.
Sparta, where royal power's divided sway
Alternate knew to govern and obey,
Where Kings and People equal rule restrain'd,
And rigid Law the only tyrant reign'd,
Saw grave Politeness spread her sober grace,
And Modesty suffuse the warrior's face:
No subtle reasoning mov'd her steady throng,
But every sentence clear, concise, and strong,
In artless guise the speaker's mind convey'd,
And simple language simple truths display'd:
No Luxury debauch'd her frugal train,
For public glory there, was private gain.
While Athens, where alike with frantic zeal
All aim'd by turns to guide the general weal,
For wide her blessings ample Freedom threw,
And every voice an equal suffrage knew;
Athens' beheld her sons forego their claim,
The substance quitting for the shadowy name,
And noisy Faction at Ambition's call
Usurp'd that empire which belong'd to all,
While specious Demagogues seduced the sense
With all the flowery tropes of eloquence,
And the free audience polish'd, and severe,
Mark'd each oration with a critic ear.
In vain might Prudence raise her warning voice
If soft persuasion won the public choice,
In vain it's aims might patriot care pursue
If one mistaken accent censure drew.
Awaken'd thus to every thrill of joy
While arts of elegance their thoughts employ,
Borne by the tide of eloquence along,
Mov'd by a tale, a fable, or a song,
Of their own delegated powers afraid,
Despising laws by their own suffrage made,
The fickle race impatient of control
Rush headlong onward to Corruption's goal:
What patriot sage to turn the current tries
Is doom'd to exile, or by poison dies,
And him they raise who impudent and loud
Inflames the passions of the giddy croud:
And though Invasion with remorseless hand
Spread flame and carnage o'er the groaning land,
The Theatre employs their sole debate,
And more they prize the Drama than the state:
If the fond scene present some favorite theme,
Lull'd by sweet Fancy's vain delusive dream,
Of Persia check'd and Greece preserv'd they boast
Though conquering Philip ravages their coast,
And Marathon's victorious deeds display
On the dread eve of Chæronea's day.
Of human glory thus how short the date!
Expence and Pride, on Wealth and Freedom wait,
And from her burthen'd lap Profusion throws
The seeds of growing Vice, and future woes.—
The fervent zeal of public spirit dead,
And patriot Virtue's manly influence fled,
The daring bands of freemen who defied
In fields of blood the Median Tyrant's pride,
Purchas'd, betray'd, divided, and o'erthrown,
Bend to a state their sires had hardly known.
Yet Science lov'd to breathe her favorite air,
Though Liberty was fled still linger'd there.
Even of those Chiefs who shar'd the unjust command
Which Philip and his greater son had plann'd,
Some brave descendants felt the Muses charms,
And sooth'd with liberal Arts usurping Arms;
Warm Patronage awhile with partial ray
Supply'd the loss of Freedom's genuine day,
And Genius consecrates to deathless fame
With grateful voice her Philadelphus' name.
Though mad Ambition soon with impious blow
Laid every fence of civil Virtue low,
And sunk in sloth, or petrified by fear,
No daring arm oppos'd her wild career,
Yet ne'er did abject Luxury's domain
O'er Grecia stretch her universal reign,
Or Asiatic Indolence dispense
That blasting torpor to each blunted sense,
Chill'd by whose touch the generous Purpose flies,
Droops Emulation, faded Glory dies,
While the corrupted heart each vice imbibes
That sinks mankind below the bestial tribes.
Religion, Language, Manners, though we find
Give one strong tincture to the Grecian mind,
Yet different Interest each republic draws,
Divided Claims, and independent Laws,
The neighbouring states eternal war alarms,
And ease invaded yields to manlier arms;
Whence strict the rules of discipline remain,
And firm their courage on the embattled plain.
Though by compulsion strong, and stronger art,
Philip could temporary peace impart,
With potent gold a shameful union bought
Which public Wisdom oft had vainly sought,
Short was the race by his Ambition run,
And short the glory of his conquering son;
Then as the spoils of empire to divide
Contending chiefs with impious ardor tried,
And Freedom bade some bolder states unite
To guard with ancient zeal her sacred right,
The doubtful conflict for a time call'd forth
The dormant relics of heroic worth,
Till every weak distinction swept away
By the full tide of Rome's superior sway,
Whate'er the stores of Grecian art supplied,
Serv'd but to swell the happier Victor's pride;
And haughty Luxury asham'd to own
O'er tributary realms a partial throne,
Attends the rising power by Fate design'd
To fix her boundless empire o'er mankind.
Lo! in the regions whence Favonius blows
A hardy race Hesperia's vales disclose:
With sinews firm the rugged offspring rise
And brave the force of less auspicious skies,
For freezing winds had erst Campania known,
And yellow Tiber worn an icy zone.
The sons of Rome ne'er felt the soft control
Of milky kindness stealing o'er the soul,
Nor did their nerves to pleasure's touch awake
Of gentler thoughts the mild impression take;
The rigid texture of their rougher frame
The dangerous glories of the field inflame;
To wage with sure success the bloody fight
Their favorite care, and war their sole delight.
Victors, or vanquish'd, by the example taught
They found new paths to conquest as they fought.
Triumphant Carthage vaunts her powers in vain
And claims the exclusive empire of the main,
Rome to the sea her ductile Genius turns,
And from her foe the means of Victory learns;
Repairs with wiser toil the ruin'd fleet,
And gains superior art from each defeat,
Her naval care with perseverance plies,
Till, by the course of long experience wise,
The watery war her perfect gallies dare,
And Libya's ancient splendor melts to air.
In vain to check these unremitting foes
Their studied Tactics Grecia's sons oppose,
Whose force compelling countless hosts to yield,
With Persia's bleeding Myriads strew'd the field:
The Legions active, disciplin'd, and fierce,
With varied shock the close-wedg'd Phalanx pierce,
And Freedom's noblest sons are doom'd by fate
The servile subjects of a foreign state.
Their country vanquish'd, still the arts remain,
Still learned Athens boasts her polish'd train;
The flowery garlands there they weave to bind
In pleasures roseate wreaths the Roman mind,
The joys of peace the haughty Victors learn,
And Greece exulting triumphs in her turn.
Though first they view with undiscerning eyes
Sculpture's fair grace, and Painting's glowing dyes,
Though Consuls by the piece the marble rate,
And the wrought brass is valu'd by the weight;
Yet soon their hearts the Muses sway confess'd
And powerful numbers sooth'd the warlike breast,
Each swelling bosom caught the generous fire,
And Roman fingers struck the Grecian lyre:
Not with that fierce delight, that sudden glow
Which from the genuine beams of Nature flow,
That burst of Harmony which pour'd along
The full luxuriance of the Epic Song!—
Matur'd by time their ripening Genius rose,
From the harsh lines of Ennius' measur'd prose
To strains on which the Muse enamour'd hung,
And drank each dulcet note from Maro's tongue.
But ne'er shall Imitation's loveliest charm
Like native Grace the raptur'd bosom warm,
This bright and awful as the beam of day,
That like the paler moon's reflected ray.
By no fallacious hues does Nature please,
But boldly gives the manners that she sees,
Not Truth in Fiction's splendid garb arrays,
But with free stroke the living form portrays,
Her Bards divine the real actions sing
Of the stern Hero, or the warrior King,
Or paint the life the amorous Shepherd leads
In the rich verdure of Sicilian meads,
While with the verse their heated Fancy weaves
Each sacred tale Mythology believes:
But Imitation with correcter hand
Fills but the outline that Invention plann'd,
With care retrenches each superfluous part,
Or adds the tinsel ornaments of art,
Describes the manners that she never knew,
And faintly copies what her Mistress drew;
Hence with assiduous step the Latian Muse
The march sublime of elder Greece pursues,
Content to glean with unremitting toil
The scatter'd produce of her happier soil.
And now the improving sons of Rome behold
The scenes of Attic elegance unfold,
Admire the fane by sculptur'd Nature graced,
And catch from every glance congenial taste:
The Capitol by conquering Consuls trod
Receives with friendly rite each marble God,
In bend majestic swells the Parian arch
Through which in solemn pomp the Victors march;
Rome with delight the pleasing toil pursues,
And emulates the beauties that she views,
Exults in arts and artists of her own,
Bids the warm canvass breathe, and animates the stone.
Happy had Rome adorn'd by spoils like these
Been satisfied with Grecian Arts to please!
But Asia's subject regions now disclose
The fatal sources of unnumber'd woes.—
Each delegated chief who us'd of yore
To guide the thundering battle's furious roar,
Bind the green laurel round his conquering brow,
And then return contented to the plow,
Now proudly stretches with rapacious hand
O'er plunder'd provinces his harsh command;
Loaded with wealth the stern Proconsuls come,
And eastern splendor dazzles wondering Rome.
Caught with the lustre of the shining ore
The charms of Poverty can please no more,
The ancient fame of frugal heroes dies,
And venal hopes, and venal passions rise;
The honest boast of Democratic pride
Is drown'd in dark Corruption's swelling tide,
And Freedom's awful rights are basely sold
For the vile barter of barbaric gold.
No more Rome's venerable Senate flings
Dismay and terror o'er usurping kings;
No more the injur'd Nations grateful see
Oppression tremble at her just decree;
No more her sword is drawn in Glory's cause
For rights betray'd, or violated laws:
The Tyrant buys impunity for vice,
And every public outrage has it's price:
Avarice can fix a giddy people's choice,
And servile legions arm at Faction's voice.
In vain a few with steady courage stood,
To stem the torrent of the whelming flood,
The selfish passions with insidious force
Of patriot worth had poison'd every source;
Still lawless power uprear'd her hydra head,
And Freedom was no more though Cæsar bled.
Intent the aims of faction to compleat,
Now smoother Cunning seiz'd Ambition's seat.—
A Youth unmov'd by pity or by rage,
As Manhood firm, yet cold as palsied Age,
Hiding in specious guile his cruel views,
The impious scheme with ceaseless toil pursues.
His wiles, the work of ages to destroy,
Severity and ease by turns employ;
Death's stern decrees, or friendship's milder call,
Allure the timid, or the bold appal:
The enchanting Muses, whose delightful art
Can bend the stubborn purpose of the heart,
His voice invokes to charm the attentive mind,
And hide the fetters that inslave mankind.
The Muses hear!—forgetful that their sway
Was first produced in Freedom's happier day
They hear, and mindless of their ancient worth,
Betray the parent power that gave them birth,
Adore the Author of their country's doom,
And seal the fate of Liberty and Rome.
After a dreadful scene of war and woes,
The brazen gates of two-faced Janus close,
The sad effects of civil discord cease,
And all a restless world is wrapp'd in peace.
By Actium's Victory stopp'd the fatal strife,
No more the dire proscription threatens life,
No more the bloody scroll of Death appears,
But Mercy's snowy garb Augustus wears.
The gentler Arts each harsher care beguile,
And Science grows beneath his fostering smile:
Around his throne the laughing Loves resort,
And own the influence of a peaceful court.
Pleasures refin'd that Grecia never knew
Croud to the sight, and bless the raptur'd view:
To the pert quaintness of Socratic wit,
Or the rude jests that lower manners fit,
To feasts where sage disputes the hours employ,
Or the loose revels of licentious joy,
Succeeds that intercourse of sweet delight,
Though gay not vicious, and though free polite,
Their mingled gifts where ease and mirth dispense,
Ease void of roughness, mirth restrain'd by sense:
And lovely Woman, though not taught to know
That public homage later days bestow,
With modest smiles domestic converse graced,
And soften'd by her looks each ruder taste.
Even Freedom though her sacred power was fled
O'er Manners yet a parting radiance shed,
On the warm heart was Virtue's form impress'd,
And dauntless Courage fir'd the warrior's breast.
The generous youth in Mars' gymnastic field
By manly sports his hardy sinews steel'd,
Curb'd the bold steed, the dusty conflict stood,
Or plung'd his glowing limbs in Tiber's flood,
Science a milder charm to Valor gave,
And Empire seem'd to polish, not enslave,
Rome equal Arms, superior Arts could boast,
And hardly deem'd her ancient Glory lost.
But short the light of Pleasure's transient gleam!
Soon Nature starting from the illusive dream
Shrinks back affrighted as her eyes survey
The horrid form of arbitrary sway.—
Monsters who built on vice their dreadful joy,
Proud of their crimes and happy to destroy,
Seiz'd the vast power that Freedom's sons resign'd,
And shook the rod of vengeance o'er mankind;
Life hung alone upon a tyrant's breath,
And each capricious frown awarded death.
Amid the waste of years though haply shine
A Titus, Trajan, or an Antonine,
The short-liv'd interval more strongly shews
The striking contrast of despotic woes.
What force can free the mind that Vice has chain'd,
Or clear the current if the fountain's stain'd?—
No distant regions happier hopes afford
Beneath the empire of a milder lord;
Fear still beholds where'er her eye she flings,
Subjected states, and tributary kings;
And Power o'ertakes the exile as he goes
O'er Libyan deserts, or through Scythian snows.
Condemn'd the endless scenes of blood to see,
While looks are watch'd, and hardly thought is free,
In Rome's sad inmates, now a wretched race,
No more the marks of ancient worth we trace,
In the dull soul, a stupid, lifeless void,
Rous'd by no action, by no cares employ'd,
Each fading Energy of Virtue dies,
As droops the plant beneath inclement skies.
The cohorts from the frontier distant far
In slothful ease forget the toils of war,
Or from their camp with factious arms o'erawe
The weak remains of Freedom and of Law,
O'er Senates with tumultuous force prevail,
And set the Empire of the world to sale.
The Muse no more with native beauty warms
But tricks with art her meretricious charms:
Science in simple form, and semblance chaste,
Offends the alter'd times degenerate taste.
Each social Charity of private life,
The smiling offspring, and the tender wife,
Now cease the scene domestic to endear:
For who can wish a wretched race to rear
Slaves to a cruel tyrant's fickle gust,
Rods of his power, or minions of his lust?—
To the sweet joys that blushing Beauty gave
Succeeds the traffick of the female slave,
Till sated the perverted Fancy roves
To monstrous pleasures, and unseemly loves.
Debarr'd each just pursuit, the restless mind
Seeks in flagitious deeds relief to find,
In sensual cares grows exquisitely nice,
And only seeks variety of vice.
Their stores the tributary realms supply
To glut even Luxury's insatiate eye;
For Italy, while Rome no rival knew,
Ere yet Byzantium's sister empire grew,
Saw on her shores contending nations meet
To lay their various produce at her feet.
Commerce who independent states can draw
To equal compact by her general law,
Who weighs what nature gives and what denies,
While mutual barter mutual want supplies,
Exulting Rome contemn'd, who saw unfurl'd
Her conquering banners o'er a subject world,
And her proud offspring buoy'd by ancient fame,
Not gain by purchase, but by empire claim.
All that the warmer southern climes dispense
Fair to the eye, and grateful to the sense,
Whatever eastern regions can afford
To grace the mansion, or to deck the board,
In endless heaps the imperial seat supplied,
Her pleasure gratified, or sooth'd her pride,
At the full feast to indolence resign'd,
Lie the soft race on purple beds reclin'd,
And o'er the room in many a crimson fold
The arras hangs with ivory rough and gold:
Of massive plate the attentive slaves produce
The meanest vessels of domestic use,
And in rich mists the cooling odors shed
Ambrosial fragrance round the listless head,
Through the wide dome the fumes of incense roll,
And Grecia's purest vintage crowns the bowl.
A nation's wealth their lavish fancies waste
To furnish viands for one great repast;
And Luxury her bloated form so swells
We scarcely credit what th' Historian tells.
To load the table when the Tyrant fed,
Seas have been drain'd, and Hecatombs have bled;
The Euxine mourn'd her shores despoil'd of fish,
And woods unpeopled form'd one costly dish;
Even when the calls of appetite were o'er,
And Nature's loaded powers could act no more,
With brutal skill were shameful means pursu'd,
That blunted hunger's sickly force renew'd,
In the pall'd taste could false desires excite,
And goad the sated sense to fresh delight.
In constant scenes like these enervate grown,
The slaves of Lust and Gluttony alone,
No joy beyond voluptuous ease they deem,
And small exertions cruel hardships seem,
From Indolence, and Vice their pleasures flow,
And Fear's the only active power they know:
Too selfish e'er to think of public care,
Too weak the weight of manly arms to bear,
A Favorite's nod degenerate legions wait,
And servile Eunuchs regulate the state.
Firm discipline is lost by long neglect,
And mercenary hosts the throne protect.
Weaken'd by Constantine's misjudging pride
Whose vain designs the imperial strength divide,
Open and wide the extended frontier lay,
To each barbarian hord an easy prey:
On every side the ruffian bands contend,
By turns invade them, and by turns defend,
Till lur'd by wealth and splendor's tempting prize,
The warlike tribes such coward chiefs despise,
Against the trembling race their swords employ,
And spread destruction round with savage joy,
Pour o'er each region like a wintry flood,
And Rome's diminish'd empire sets in blood.
Of the long sway of twice six hundred years
Stupendous fabrick! scarce a wreck appears,
Save a poor remnant as the ruin falls
Preserv'd to languish in Byzantium's walls.
Now through the extent of Nature's wide domain
Once more the horrid powers of darkness reign,
Again Chaotic ignorance rears her head,
And o'er mankind her sable veil is spread.
What scatter'd arts survive the general doom
Retreat to wither in the cloister's gloom;
And if by chance from thence some sickly beam
Shoots faintly forth a transitory gleam,
It serves but like the meteor's lurid light
To add new horror to the shades of night.
Ye sylvan muses! as my step invades
The deep recesses of your hallow'd shades,
Say will ye bid your echoing caves prolong
The harsher cadence of your votary's song?
Not anxious now to strike the trembling wire,
Sweetly responsive to your vernal choir;
Or from the treasur'd stores of earth to bring
The fragrant produce of the roseate spring:
Mine the rude task, while summer's fading ray
To yellow autumn yields the shortening day,
And all the variegated woods appear
Clad in the glories of the withering year,
With dogs and fiery weapons to profane
The peaceful sabbath of your rural reign;
Your desolated regions to explore
'Mid the wild tempest, and the season frore;
Destruction on your feather'd race to pour,
And add new horrors to the wintry hour.
'Twas thine, immortal Somerville! to trace
The livelier raptures of the joyful chace,
O'er hills and dales to urge, with eager speed,
The hound sagacious, and the panting steed;
And guide the labors of the enthusiast throng
With all the extatic energy of song.—
Severer care these calmer lays demand,
And Fancy curb'd by sage Instruction's hand:
Yet, for the Muse some scatter'd charms shall gleam
'Mid the rich chaos of this copious theme;
Yet, here shall Glory view with generous aim,
The rising elements of martial fame.
As from the chace Britannia's youth shall learn
The docile steed with ready hand to turn;
O'er the rude crag his bounding steps to guide,
Or press his ardor down the mountain's side,
Till, rushing to the field with fierce delight,
She sends forth other Lindseys to the fight:
So shall the steady train, of careful eye,
Who wound th' aerial offspring as they fly,
Whose limbs unwearied keep the constant way,
From morn's first opening dawn, till parting day,
Manly and firm, an unexhausted race,
With hardy frames the shining phalanx grace;
With steps, by labor unsubdu'd, shall know
Incessant to pursue the fainting foe;
Shall, 'midst the rocks and woods, with active toil
Hang o'er his march, and all his movements foil;
Their close platoons, with cool and certain aim,
Shall send destruction forth in vollied flame:
Or o'er the field dispers'd, each shot they pour
Shall mark some hostile victim's fatal hour.
Of old, ere man with imitative skill,
Taught mimic thunders to obey his will,
Train'd by superior care, the elastic yew
With sinewy arm, our English bowmen drew:
The warlike art exulting Albion saw
Protected by the fostering hand of law;
Attentive senates watch'd, with anxious zeal,
This martial bulwark of the general weal;
The rules they order'd, or the prize they gave,
Compell'd the slothful, and inflam'd the brave;
And oft her archer-sons would trophies wear
From Gallia's cross-bow won, and Scotia's spear.
Nor let the frown of literary pride,
Or false refinement's sneer, my labors chide:
Not all are form'd with unremitting view
Pale study's restless labors to pursue:
Not all their hours are dull enough to waste
In the void round of fashionable taste;
Nor can the gentle airings, which engage
The fainter wish of languor, and of age,
From his pursuits the sanguine votary draw
Of wealth, of joy, of wisdom, or of law,
Till slow disease demands the leach's care,
Sad substitute for exercise and air!
The impatient youth, whom manly vigor fires,
Ruddy with health, and stung by wild desires;
By active sports alone can soothe to rest
The boiling fervors of his panting breast.
Nor shall Britannia's patriots blame the cause,
To woods and fields her wealthier chiefs that draws.
Let Gallia's sons to rural scenes resort
Only when exil'd from a partial court,
Whose dearest hopes a Monarch's favor crown,
Rais'd by his smile, or blasted by his frown;
But Albion's freer lords must try to gain
The unbiass'd suffrage of her rustic train.
And every tie that binds her nobler band,
With dearer love, to their paternal land,
Her yeomen shall behold with grateful eye,
A surer pledge of wealth and liberty.
Come then, ye hardy youths, who wish to save
By generous labor powers that nature gave!
Who fly from languor, hush'd in dread repose
Beneath the leaves of sloth's enchanting rose,
Glad on the upland brow, or echoing vale,
To drink new vigor from the morning gale;—
Come! and the Muse shall shew you how to foil
By sports of skill the tedious hours of toil;
The healthful lessons of the field impart,
And careful teach the rudiments of art.
When the last sun of August's fiery reign
Now bathes his radiant forehead in the main,
The panoply by sportive heroes worn
Is rang'd in order for the ensuing morn;
Forth from the summer guard of bolt and lock
Comes the thick guêtre, and the fustian frock;
With curious skill, the deathful tube is made
Clean as the firelock of the spruce parade:
Yet, let no polish of the sportsman's gun
Flash like the soldier's weapon to the sun,
Or the bright steel's refulgent glare presume
To penetrate the peaceful forest's gloom;
But let it take the brown's more sober hue,
Or the dark lustre of the enamell'd blue.
Let the close pouch the wadded tow contain,
The leaden pellets, and the nitrous grain;
And wisely cautious, with preventive care,
Be the spare flint, and ready turnscrew there;
While the slung net is open to receive
Each prize the labors of the day shall give.
Yet oft the experienc'd shooter will deride
This quaint exactness of fastidious pride;
In some old coat that whilom charm'd the eye,
Till time had worn it into slovenry,
His dusky weapon, all by rust conceal'd,
Through rainy service in the sportive field,
He issues to the plain, secure to kill,
And founds his glory on superior skill.
The night recedes, and mild Aurora now
Waves her gray banner on the eastern brow;
Light float the misty vapors o'er the sky,
And dim the blaze of Phœbus' garish eye;
The flitting breeze just stirs the rustling brake,
And curls the crystal surface of the lake;
The expectant sportsmen, urg'd by anxious haste,
Snatch the refreshment of a short repast,
Their weapons seize, their pointers call around,
And sally forth impatient to the ground.
Here where the yellow wheat away is drawn,
And the thick stubble clothes the russet lawn,
Begin the sport.—Eager and unconfin'd
As when stern Æolus unchains the wind,
The active pointer, from his thong unbound,
Impatient dashes o'er the dewy ground,
With glowing eye, and undulating tail,
Ranges the field, and snuffs the tainted gale;
Yet, 'midst his ardor, still his master fears,
And the restraining whistle careful hears.
So when Britannia's watchful navies sweep,
In freedom's awful cause, the hostile deep,
Though the brave warrior panting to engage,
And loose on England's foes his patriot rage,
The tempest's howling fury deems too slow
To fill his sails, and waft him to the foe;
Yet, 'mid the fiery conflict, if he spy
From the high mast his leader's signal fly,
To the command obedience instant pays,
And martial order martial courage sways.
See how exact they try the stubble o'er,
Quarter the field, and every turn explore;
Now sudden wheel, and now attentive seize
The known advantage of the opposing breeze.—
At once they stop!—yon' careful dog descries
Where close and near the lurking covey lies.
His caution mark, lest even a breath betray
The impending danger to his timid prey;
In various attitudes around him stand,
Silent and motionless, the attending band.
So when the son of Danae and Jove,
Crown'd by gay conquest and successful love,
Saw Phineus and his frantic rout invade
The festive rights by Hymen sacred made,
To the rude Bacchanals his arm outspread
The horrid image of Medusa's head;
Soon as the locks their snaky curls disclose,
A marble stiffness seiz'd his threatening foes;
Fix'd were the eyes that mark'd the javelin thrown,
And each stern warrior rear'd his lance in stone.
Now by the glowing cheek and heaving breast
Is expectation's sanguine wish express'd.—
Ah curb your headlong ardor! nor refuse
Patient to hear the precepts of the Muse.
Sooner shall noisy heat in rash dispute
The reasoning calm of placid sense confute;
Sooner the headlong rout's misguided rage
With the firm phalanx equal combat wage,
Than the warm youth, whom anxious hopes inflame,
Pursue the fleeting mark with steady aim.
By temperate thought your glowing passions cool,
And bow the swelling heart to reason's rule;
Else when the whirring pinion, as it flies,
Alarms your startled ear, and dazzled eyes,
Unguided by the cautious arm of care,
Your random bolts shall waste their force in air.
They rise!—they rise!—Ah yet your fire restrain,
Till the scar'd birds securer distance gain;
For, thrown too close, the shots your hopes elude,
Wide of your aim, and innocent of blood;
But mark with careful eye their lessening flight,
Your ready gun, obedient to your sight,
And at the length where frequent trials shew
Your fatal weapon gives the surest blow,
Draw quick!—yet steady care with quickness join,
Lest the shock'd barrel deviate from the line;
So shall success your ardent wishes pay,
And sure destruction wait the flying prey.
As glory more than gain allures the brave
To dare the combat loud, and louder wave;
So the ambition of the sportsman lies
More in the certain shot than bleeding prize.
While poachers, mindful of the festal hour,
Among the covey random slaughter pour;
And, as their numbers press the crimson'd ground,
Regardless reck not of the secret wound,
Which borne away, the wretched victims lie
'Mid silent shades to languish and to die.
O let your breast such selfish views disclaim,
And scorn the triumph of a casual aim:
Not urg'd by rapine, but of honor proud,
One object single from the scattering croud;
So, when you see the destin'd quarry down,
Shall just applause your skilful labor crown.
If your staunch dogs require no instant toil
To rescue from their jaws the fluttering spoil,
Re-load your fatal piece with prudent zeal,
While glows with recent flame the smoaking steel;
So the black grain shall kindling warmth acquire,
And take the flinty spark with readier fire;
Or if some scatter'd bird, that lay behind,
Sudden should rise, and fleet away on wind,
You check her rapid course, nor murmuring stand,
Your empty weapon useless in your hand.
Now some observant eye has mark'd their flight,
And seen dispers'd the weary'd covey light;
Soon to the spot the ranging pointer drawn,
Explores with tender nose the tainted lawn,
Where, to his nicer sense, their fumes betray
The secret ambush of the fearful prey.
With cautious action now, and stealthful pace,
His careful steps pursue the running race;
Now fix'd he stands, now moves with doubtful tread,
Stopp'd by their pause, or by their motion led,
Till, rooted by the sheltering hedge, his feet
Declare the trembling victim's last retreat.
But as, with beating breasts, on either side
The impatient youths the pleasing task divide,
And in the row between, the lurking game
Lies hid from sight, ah, careful be the aim!
Lest, skreen'd and parted by the thorny mound,
The erring shots should give a fatal wound,
And change the jocund sportsman's verdant wreath
For funeral weeds, for mourning, tears, and death.
In Lydian plains, where rich Pactolus roll'd
Through groves of perfume, and o'er sands of gold,
Crœsus, of Asia's lords the proudest name,
Shar'd every gift of fortune, and of fame;
So wide his empire, and so vast his store,
That avarice and ambition ask'd no more;
Though blest in these, the dearer bliss he knows
With which a parent's happy bosom glows,
For not the fairest image ever dress'd
In the fond wishes of a father's breast,
By flattery swell'd, could mate the virtuous praise
To Atys' worth that truth unbiass'd pays.
At war's loud clarion if the nations bled,
Conquest his armies crown'd if Atys led;
If the rude waves of civil discord broke,
Hush'd was the rising storm if Atys spoke;
His lenient voice bade loud rebellion cease,
And charm'd contending factions into peace:
Nor less his care domestic knew to bring
Joy to his sire, than safety to his king;
Nor was the patriot's glory priz'd above
The dearer charity of filial love.
While prosperous scenes the monarch's thoughts beguile,
Too little warn'd of Fortune's transient smile,
'Mid the dark moments of the boding night
A horrid vision seem'd to meet his sight,
With dying mien his Atys stood confess'd,
Transfix'd by horrid steel his bleeding breast.—
Swift from his couch he starts, while wild despair
Contracts his eye-balls, and uplifts his hair.
In vain the orient morn's reviving power
Chas'd the pale phantoms of the midnight hour;
The recollected scene his peace annoys,
Sinks in his heart, and poisons all his joys;
Around him visionary falchions gleam
In act to realize his dreadful dream;
And if by chance loud rumor wafts from far
Uncertain clamors of intended war,
His laboring breast foretels the fatal deed,
And sees in fancied fights his Atys bleed.
What shall his fears invent, or how control
The generous ardor of the hero's soul?—
His mind to gentler thoughts he tries to move,
And conquer strong renown by stronger love.
The fairest maid of Lydia's glowing dames,
Whose beauteous form the manly youth inflames,
With eastern roses crown'd, is blushing led
In Hymeneal pomp, to Atys' bed.
To cares of empire, and to toils of fight,
Succeed the festal day, and genial night:
Soft Pleasure spreads around her blooming flow'rs,
And wanton Cupid leads the laughing hours.
Amid these joys, from Mysia's subject plain,
Before the throne, behold a suppliant train!
‘O mighty prince!’ they cry, ‘we now repair
‘To claim the aid of thy paternal care;
‘A savage monster of portentous size,
‘Whose cruel strength our utmost force defies,
‘Ranges our fields, spreads devastation round,
‘And roots the unripen'd harvest from the ground.
‘O, let thy youths, to range the woods who know,
‘Attend with faithful dogs, and twanging bow;
‘In his dire haunts the fierce invader brave,
‘Repel his fury, and thy subjects save.
‘Perhaps the prince.’—The eager monarch, here,
Urg'd by the influence of parental fear,
Arrests their speech: ‘My arms, my youths shall go,
‘Your terrors quell, and check this savage foe;
‘But for my son, him other cares employ,
‘And the soft scenes of Hymeneal joy,
‘Nor must the rugged chace, or dubious fight,
‘Mar the sweet transports of the nuptial rite.’
He ceas'd; attentive round the Mysian band,
Pleas'd with the promis'd aid, submissive stand.
Not so the prince, his ardent bosom glows
To burst the silken bands of still repose.
‘Ah! what, my sire,’ he cries, ‘has Atys done?
‘What sad distrust awaits your hapless son,
‘That thus immers'd in sloth you keep him far
‘From fields of glory, and from toils of war?
‘For love's soft raptures though the hero burn,
‘Yet fame and danger claim their wonted turn.
‘How shall I meet, involv'd in this disgrace,
‘The indignant murmurs of your warrior race?
‘How will, with tears of silent scorn, my bride
‘Her alter'd lord's inglorious safety chide!
‘O give my wishes way, or let me hear
‘The hidden source of this injurious fear.’
This earnest prayer the smother'd secret draws,
And the sad Monarch owns the latent cause:
When Atys, smiling:—‘How shall I reprove
‘The fond excesses of paternal love,
‘Though for my undeserving life is shown
‘A nice regard you never paid your own?
‘But shall the heir of Crœsus' martial name
‘Inglorious life prefer to glorious fame?—
‘Life is a bliss, when crown'd by virtue's meed,
‘And death a prize, when honor bids us bleed;
‘Omens and dreams in vain the purpose stay
‘When duty calls, and glory points the way.
‘Or grant some god the vision sent, yet here
‘Vain are your cares, and useless is your fear;
‘Transfix'd by steel my bleeding breast you saw,
‘Not torn and mangled by a bestial jaw;
‘Then let me go, and when you meet your son
‘Clad in the shaggy spoils his arms have won,
‘The shadowy phantoms of the night shall cease
‘To haunt your slumbers, and disturb your peace.’
The Monarch hears, and with reluctant eyes
Gives the consent his boding heart denies;
His brow a placid guise dissembling wears,
While Reason vainly combats stronger fears.
It chanced a youth of Phrygia's royal train,
His hand polluted by a brother slain,
Exil'd by vengeance from his native ground,
In Crœsus' peaceful court a refuge found;
Where oft would Atys' gentler care impart
The balm of friendship to his wounded heart;
To him the wretched king in secret spoke,
While tears and sighs his faltering accents choke;
‘If, brave Adrastus, thy oppressive woes
‘In Sardis' sheltering walls have found repose,
‘If here the expiating rite renew'd
‘Has paid the forfeit for fraternal blood,
‘If pity's tear, if friendship's lenient balm
‘Have tried with studious zeal thy griefs to calm,
‘Go with my son, and by attentive care
‘Partake his labors, and his dangers share.
‘Shield him from peril that my soul alarms,
‘And bring him back in safety to my arms.’
To whom the youth: ‘Oft has my ready breast
‘Panted to ask the office you request,
‘As oft my conscious shame that wish restrain'd,
‘Disgraced by exile, and by murder stain'd:
‘Since you command, your Atys I'll attend,
‘Obey my patron, and protect my friend;
‘Watch o'er his safety in the doubtful strife,
‘Or ransom with my own his dearer life.’
Now to the Mysian fields elate and gay
The eager warriors bend their jocund way,
The echoing hills and forest walks resound
With shouts of men, and chidings of the hound.
Rous'd from his lair, and issuing on the plain,
Forth bursts the monster on the hunter train,
Around the circling youths impatient stand,
And launch their steely darts with ready hand.
Too rashly eager as the Phrygian threw,
With erring aim the pointed jav'lin flew,
In Atys' breast the quivering weapon stood,
And drank with fatal barbs his vital blood.—
The mournful shrieks that rent the ambient air,
The weeping troops, Adrastus' loud despair;
The silent agony, the gushing tide
Of the sad parent, and the widow'd bride,
The plaints they utter, and the woes they feel,
No heart can image, and no tongue reveal.
As the ill-fated youth is borne along,
All pale and bleeding, through the groaning throng,
By the cold corse Adrastus' frantic cries,
Death in his voice, and horror in his eyes;
‘Why have the gods in partial vengeance shed
‘Their choicest curses on my wretched head?
‘Fated the keenest strokes of wrath to prove,
‘And doom'd to murder those whom most I love!
‘O much wrong'd sire, let thy avenging hand
‘Expiate by guilty blood this weeping land:
‘Be on my heart thy instant fury hurl'd,
‘And save from future parricide the world!’
‘Alas, my son!' the wretched King replied,
‘'Tis awful Jove who thus corrects my pride,
‘Which, crown'd by conquest, and with power elate,
‘It's fortune deem'd beyond the reach of fate.
‘Alas! too late repentant, now I find
‘The fleeting happiness of human kind!
‘My hopes, my cares are past! this cruel blow
‘Has laid at once my vain ambition low;
‘The offended gods this chastisement have given,
‘Thou but the fatal instrument of heaven.’
Silent the youth withdrew, till sad were paid
The tributary rites to Atys' shade:
Then, as chill midnight's dreary hours return,
Weeping he sought the monumental urn:
‘Atys!’ he cried, ‘behold Adrastus come
‘A willing victim to thy hallow'd tomb!—
‘This erring hand, the fatal stroke that gave,
‘Shall lay thy murderer breathless on thy grave.’
Then pierced with sudden arm his struggling breast,
And on the blood-stain'd marble sunk to rest.
As more obliquely on autumnal skies
With milder force October's suns arise,
The purple pheasant tempts the youth to rove
With well-train'd spaniels through the faded grove.
See how with emulative zeal they strive,
Thrid the loose sedge, and through the thicket drive!
Not ranging lawless o'er the forest wide,
But close attendant on their master's side;
No babbling voice the bosom falsely warms,
Or swells the panting heart with vain alarms,
Till all at once their choral tongues proclaim
The secret refuge of the lurking game;
Loud on the breeze the chearful clamor floats,
And the high wood re-echoes with their notes.
Swift is their course, no lengthen'd warnings now
Space to collect the scatter'd thoughts allow,
No wary pointer shews the cautious eyes
Where from his russet couch the bird shall rise:
Perhaps light running o'er the mossy ground,
His devious steps your sanguine hopes confound;
Or, by the tangled branches hid from sight,
Sudden he wings his unexpected flight.
No open view along the uncumber'd field
To the cool aim will time and distance yield;
But the nice circumstance will oft demand
The quickest eye-sight and the readiest hand,
Swift as he rises from the thorny brake,
With instant glance the fleeting mark to take,
And with prompt arm the transient moment seize,
'Mid the dim gloom of intervening trees.
His gaudy plumage when the male displays
In bright luxuriance to the solar rays,
Arrest with hasty shot his whirring speed,
And see unblam'd the shining victim bleed;
But when the hen to thy discerning view
Her sober pinion spreads of duskier hue,
The attendant keeper's prudent warning hear,
And spare the offspring of the future year;
Else shall the fine which custom laid of old
Avenge her slaughter by thy forfeit gold.
Soon as the ready dogs their quarry spring,
And swift he spreads his variegated wing,
Ceas'd is their cry, with silent look they wait
Till the loud gun decides the event of fate;
Nor, if the shots are thrown with erring aim,
And proudly soars away the unwounded game,
Will the staunch train pursue him as he flies
With useless speed, and unavailing cries.
And now when cloudy skies and drizzling rains
Swell the full springs, and drench the moisten'd plains,
The extended space of land and ocean cross'd
From the bleak scenes of Hyperborean frost,
With active wing the unwearied Woodcocks fly
To southern climates, and a milder sky,
The osier'd borders of the brook explore,
And with deep bills the forest marshes bore.
Where now matur'd yon slender ashes stand,
Rise from their stools and tempt the woodman's hand,
Where the loose trunks admit the partial ray
Along the border take your cautious way.
Here let your care the shorten'd gun employ,
Lest the thick boughs the purpos'd aim annoy;
Let super-added steel with pressure sure,
From the dank drip the shelter'd pan secure:
And as the silent bird the stems among
Wheels slow his desultory flight along,
With steady eye his wavering motion watch,
And through the parting trees the advantage catch;
Though distant be the shot, the slightest wound
Shall lay the fluttering victim on the ground.
Rous'd by the spaniel, 'midst the forest shade,
Behold the trembling Leveret cross the glade!
If round the extended plains yield ample space,
Or for the rapid course, or chearful chace,
O, sacred be her steps! nor let thy hand
Blast the fair hopes of a congenial band,
Or for a transient pleasure meanly foil
The lengthen'd transport of the hunter's toil;
But where steep hills and spacious woodlands rise,
Or the long flight the frequent copse denies,
Blameless arrest her rapid flight, nor spare
The timid victim for the inglorious snare.
Where shining rills with copious moisture feed
The deeper verdure of the irriguous mead,
Or where between the purple heaths is seen
The mossy bosom of the low ravine,
The fearful Snipes, hid from the searching eye,
'Mid the dank sedge and nodding rushes lie.
With sudden turns oblique, when first they rise,
As from the weaver's arm the shuttle flies
They shape their wavering course: but patient stay
Till, with securer wing, they soar away:
Then as aloft their outstretch'd pinions sail,
Borne on the bosom of the buoyant gale,
The fatal shot sent forth with cautious sight,
Shall bring them wheeling from their towering height.
When winter now, a gloomy tyrant, reigns
In dreadful silence o'er the ravaged plains,
Involves in sheets of snow the bending woods,
And throws his icy mantle o'er the floods,
Close by the harden'd brook, whose sullen stream
No more soft murmuring aids the poet's dream,
Where, 'midst the matted sedge, the emerging flood
With air and life renews the finny brood,
The patient fowler stands with silent aim
To watch the station of the watery game:
Not like the gentle angler, careless laid,
In the cool shelter of the summer shade,
But train'd with hardy sinews to defy
The chilling keenness of a wintry sky;
While here the aquatic Wild-fowl's timid race
With wonted pinion seek the well known place;
Where rushes thick the Widgeon's haunt conceal,
The blue-wing'd Mallard, and the tenderer Teal;
Swift on the various race, in fiery shower,
The scattering shots unseen destruction pour,
With mingled slaughter strew the frost-bound flood,
And dye the sullied snow with gushing blood.
Such are the sports that fertile Albion yields,
Such the wing'd inmates of her milder fields;
But bounteous Nature, with diffusive hand,
Spreads wide her various produce o'er the land,
Each different region marks with nurturing care,
And bids a race congenial flourish there.
A tribe peculiar by her power is plac'd
On the drear mountain, and the howling waste,
Which art and industry would rear in vain,
Or in the shelter'd vale, or cultur'd plain.
Hence wandering far from England's gentler scene,
Her spacious champains, and her pastures green,
The hardy youth will Cambria's cliffs explore,
Or climb the heights of Caledonia hoar,
The Grouse and sable Heath-cock to pursue
Where moors unbounded tire the sated view,
And sullen silence reigns, save where the tide
Pours in swoln torrents from the mountain's side;
While summer suns in full effulgence shed
Their burning fervors on the throbbing head.
Thus has my verse in humble strains reveal'd
The various pleasures of the sportive field,
And shewn the different labors of the day
As the revolving seasons roll away:
But vainly shall preceptive rules impart
A perfect knowledge of this manly art;
Practice alone can certain skill produce,
And theory confirm'd by constant use.
As well the stripling of the gay parade,
Proud of his silken sash and smart cockade,
Though taught by wise instructors to explore
The martial depth of mathematic lore,
Might hope to drive Victoria's crimson car
Triumphant o'er the bleeding ranks of war,
Ere the long march, the early toil, and late,
The frequent scenes of danger and of fate,
The fervor of the glowing breast allay,
Change ardor's blaze for valor's temperate ray,
And teach the mind, unruffled and serene,
To keep her powers 'mid horrors wildest scene.
The hardy youth who pants with eager flame
To send his leaden bolts with certain aim,
Must ne'er with disappointed hopes recoil
From cold and heat, from hunger and from toil,
Must climb the hill, must tread the marshy glade,
Or force the passage through the opposing shade,
Must range untam'd by Sol's meridian power,
And brave the force of winter's keenest hour,
Till industry and time their work have wrought,
And honor crown the skill that labor taught.
Yet some, these harsher rudiments to spare,
And equal art with easier toil to share,
Or watch with careful aim and ready sight
The swallow-wheeling in her summer flight,
Or on some lofty cliff, whose chalky steep
Hangs with rude brow impending o'er the deep,
Where gulls and screaming sea-mews haunt the rock,
Pour fire incessant on the mingled flock.
But vain their hopes—presented to the eye
In such diversive lines the objects fly,
The dazzled sight unnumber'd marks pursues,
And shifts it's aim, uncertain which to chuse;
Decision quick and calm, the shooter's boast,
By frequent change, is check'd, confus'd, and lost,
And, guarded by irresolute delay,
Utouch'd shall future coveys fleet away.
More hurtful still to try with distant blow
To bring the percher from th' aerial bough.
How shall his thoughts the level that prepare
With all the caution of mechanic care,
Exact and steady as the sage's eye
Through Galileo's tube surveys the sky,
With ready view the transient object seize,
Swift as the motion of the rapid breeze,
Pursue the uncertain mark with swift address,
And catch the fleeting moment of success?
Ere yet the Muse her lay preceptive end
Ye eager youths these friendly rules attend:
'Tis not enough, that cautious aim, and sure,
From erring shots your brave compeers secure,
That prudence guard those ills which erst might flow
From the wing'd javelin, and the sounding bow;
For on the gun unnumber'd dangers wait,
And various forms of unexpected fate.
Drawn thro' the thorny hedge, the uncertain lock
May give with sudden spring, a deadly shock;
Or the loose spark the rapid flash may raise,
And wrap the sulphurous dust in instant blaze.
'Tis hence the military race prepare
The novice youth with such assiduous care,
And teach him with punctilious art to wield
The weighty fire-lock in the embattled field.
Though some may deem the attention urg'd too far,
As the mere pomp and circumstance of war;
When closely wedg'd the firm battalions stand,
Rank press'd on rank, and band impelling band,
Did not fastidious zeal with cautious plan
Define each act, and every motion scan,
Oft would the bullets 'mid the battles roar
The thirsty herbage die with friendly gore,
And oft the dangerous weapon's kindling breath
Change fields of exercise, to fields of death.
Behold yon' eager race who o'er the plain,
With stimulating heel and loosen'd rein,
Their panting coursers urge to leave behind
The rapid currents of the northern wind,
Though, as with headlong rage they rush along,
Impending dangers seem to wait the throng;
Though accident with more apparent face
Seem to attend the ardor of the chace;
Yet, 'mid these calmer sports, with ghastly mien
The pallid form of slaughter lurks unseen;
And while the hunter checks his bold career
To pour on Russel's tomb the sorrowing tear,
The sportive train who haunt the fatal glades
Where hoary Camus flows by Granta's shades,
Shall weep the unexpected blow that gave
Their much-lov'd Cotton to a timeless grave.
Lamented youth! when erst on Warley's plains
We led in radiant arms our rustic swains,
What time Britannia, friendless and forlorn,
Her shores expos'd, her naval trophies torn,
Bold in her native vigor dar'd oppose
Rebellious subjects, and combining foes;
In vain thy generous bosom burn'd to stand
The manly bulwark of an injur'd land,
Or nobly bleeding by the hostile ball,
In freedom's, and in Albion's cause to fall;
Doom'd by relentless fate, to press the ground,
The unhappy victim of a casual wound.
Votaries of rural joy! with mine while flow
Your kindred streams of sympathetic woe,
By salutary care, ah! learn to shun
The hidden dangers of the unguarded gun!
And, as in fields of pleasure you acquire
The soldier's manly toil and steady fire,
His cautious use of arms attentive heed,
Careful by no inglorious wound to bleed,
Nor lavish life, but in the sacred cause
Of Britain's injur'd rights, and violated laws.
The Progress Of Refinement. Part Ii.
As when stern Winter's desolating power,
Arm'd with the piercing frost, and sleety shower,
O'er shivering Nature spreads it's iron reign,
Bare stands the grove, and waste extends the plain;
Yet in the scatter'd seed, and buried root
The embryo blossom hides, prepar'd to shoot
When Spring with milder influence shall prevail,
And balmy Zephyrs breathe the genial gale:
So, wrapp'd in Ignorance, though the human heart
No vivid hues retain of ancient art,
Yet still the dormant seeds expectant there
Await the hour of Cultivation's care;
Still verdant scions from the root shall grow
When mild Occasion's fostering breezes blow,
To bud and bloom again with Parent worth,
And emulate the stock that gave them birth.
Yet as the culture asks severer toil
When poisonous weeds o'errun the useless soil;
So Reason labors long to bend the breast
Where Error's barbarous tenets are impress'd:
Soon learns the untutor'd thought with generous aim
To catch the glow of Virtue's holy flame,
But where strong forms of Prejudice deprave
The simpler rules that untaught Nature gave,
Ere yet Refinement with her gentle rein
The impatient course of giddy sense restrain.
There every dreadful passion will impart
Superior horror to the vicious heart,
And fill the annals of the unhappy times
With dire events, and unexampled crimes.
The ruffian tribes that pour'd tumultuous forth
In countless myriads from the frozen North,
By no soft touch of milder manners graced,
Rapacious inmates of the howling waste,
'Mid the vast wild of Scandinavian plains,
Of tempest and of cold the drear domains,
A system fram'd, whose universal sway
The varied race with common zeal obey,
From where the wintry surges foaming break
Of the loud Baltic, to the Caspian lake.—
Boldly they vaunt with unsubmitting soul
To scorn of sovereign power the strong control,
Yet to the rule of martial order yield,
And own a Monarch on the embattled field.
By Victory crown'd, the chiefs with equal pride
In different lots the subject realms divide,
And the fierce leader of each separate hord
Reigns o'er his share an independent lord,
What arms had won maintaining by the sword.
For though each stern commander homage paid
When War's loud clarion claim'd the promis'd aid,
The tumult o'er, no civil force remain'd
That Anarchy's impetuous rage restrain'd:
Each haughty chief could regal justice awe,
And mock the uncertain rules of feeble law.
In constant feuds the ungovern'd tribes engage,
And the dire battle Hate and Vengeance wage.
No pity unrelenting Conquest shews,
But the fell tyrant spoils his weaker foes,
Licentious Rapine leads the furious train
And Age, and Rank, and Beauty plead in vain.
Though Prejudice may warp, or Passion blind
Awhile, the honest purpose of the mind,
Yet to the conscious soul of man belong
The love of Justice, and the hate of Wrong;
Firm, though obscur'd, the sacred dictates stand
Implanted there by Heaven's creative hand.
Hence while loud Discord bids with giant pride
Sad Desolation o'er the realms preside,
Some nobler breasts neglected Virtue draws
To arm and vindicate her injur'd cause:
Uncheck'd by doubt, by danger undismay'd,
Prompt to redress when sorrow claims their aid,
With equal hand they deal the avenging blow,
And lay with joy the oppressive tyrant low;
But chief they glory when the generous care
Of weeping Beauty calls them to the war,
With dauntless arms her suppliant power they guard,
And deem her favoring smiles a full reward.
For the rough tribes thro' Northern wilds that stray'd
To female merit early deference paid,
The gentler sex partook the grave debate,
And more than shar'd the arduous toils of state.
The hardy warrior whose indignant mind
No arm could vanquish, and no law could bind,
To their commands a willing homage gave,
And each unconquer'd knight was Beauty's slave.
Amid the crimes that barbarous rudeness knows
Thus the fair form of Chivalry arose,
Join'd love's soft glow to valor's fiercer flame,
And mildly sooth'd the intemperate thirst of fame.
It's influence still, defying change and time,
Spreads o'er each modern European clime,
Lives spite of fickle mode's capricious rage,
And marks the manners of a polish'd age.
Though the rude Nations in their inroads bore
The wild Mythology of Northern lore,
Yet soon the splendor of the Roman rite
Caught with it's mystic glare their dazzled sight.
To charm their grosser sense the Priests combine
Each monstrous fiction with a faith divine;
And all that feverish Fancy knows to paint,
The virgin martyr, and the warrior saint,
The fabled cure, and legendary tale,
With force resistless o'er their thoughts prevail.
While such the general impulse of the mind,
To Superstition, and to Arms inclin'd,
A frantic Hermit with enthusiast breath
Kindles the dreadful flames of war and death:
‘Arouse ye chiefs of valiant fame!’ He cries,
‘Lo! Heaven and Glory, point the bold emprise!—
‘No more at human pity's humbler call
‘On man's oppressors let your vengeance fall,
‘Behold on Solyma's afflicted lands
‘The injur'd Deity your zeal demands!
‘The sacred ground by dying martyrs trod,
‘The seats made holy by a bleeding GOD,
‘Mohammed's sons with impious orgies stain,
‘And soil the hallow'd earth with rites profane,
‘Bid resignation's patient votaries feel
‘The pangs of trying flame, and torturing steel,
‘Pollute with murder'd saints the dome divine,
‘And wash with blood Jehovah's awful shrine.
‘Go forth my sons! and with religious care
‘Spread your cross-banners streaming to the air!
‘Secure of praise! secure of conquest go!
‘And wreak heaven's vengeance on a heathen foe;
‘Fame's deathless guerdon shall the victor gain,
‘And crowns immortal sanctify the slain!’
Fired by such words unusual ardors rise,
And far and wide the swift contagion flies,
All ranks, all orders to the impression yield,
And swarming millions croud the tented field.
Not such the numbers Xerxes led of yore
From hostile Persia to the Grecian shore,
When his proud fleet the indignant billows chain'd,
And thirsty hosts the failing river drain'd.
The rash design though pious folly plann'd,
Though discord soon dissolv'd the inconstant band,
From scenes of war yet milder manners grew,
And man advantage from destruction drew.
The haughty chief to arm his numerous train,
And grace with martial pomp the glittering plain,
The wide demesnes of ancient tenure sold,
And fiefs enfranchis'd for the wanted gold:
Whence the freed peasant chearful tills the soil,
And busy Commerce plies her active toil.
While as the countless hosts in long array
Through eastern Europe bend their tedious way,
And view with wondering eyes the gay resort
Of wealth, and splendor, to Byzantium's court,
The wrecks of Roman pride, and Grecian skill
With new delight the astonish'd bosom fill.
Though lur'd by Rapine, war unjust they wage,
And waste the Arts with more than Vandal rage,
Yet soon to scenes of elegance awake,
A softer turn, and nobler aims they take,
Each curious relic while they spoil admire,
And plundering works of taste, that taste acquire.
Even from the mixture of Arabian foes
On the barbarian West improvement rose:
The Saracen had learn'd with liberal heart
To love the paths of Science, and of Art,
The splendors of magnificence had known,
And deck'd in pomp each oriental throne,
But most his glowing Fancy lov'd to rove
Amid the devious maze of Fiction's grove,
And the luxuriance of the fabling lay
Struck Europe's ruder Bards with forceful sway;
The minstrel now who tun'd his Gothic lyre
To teach the son the achievements of the sire,
Blends with the dreadful tale of blood and arms,
What eastern legends tell of magic charms,
Heightens the horror of the furious fight
With the wing'd dragon, and the enchanted knight,
And bids the bold Romance the hearer move
With the mix'd powers of Wonder, War, and Love.
While thus the Muse enjoys her infant dream,
Coy Reason still conceals her golden beam.
Rome's ancient language in impervious folds
From vulgar eyes each source of Wisdom holds,
And as they list the subtle Priests dispense
The scanty shares of knowledge and of sense.
Hence Learning rose, who insolent, and proud,
Looks down contemptuous on the admiring croud:
While, as unmeaning rules the hearer vex,
And artful doubts the wilder'd thought perplex,
In the strict bands of letter'd form confin'd,
Peculiar prejudice enslaves the mind.
Unlike Philosophy's bold sons of old
Who freely question'd what the instructor told,
O'eraw'd by Pride in education's hours
The timid mind distrusts it's opening powers,
Worships each mystic knot by Error tied,
And blindly follows where it's teachers guide.
Rome's legal Code at length on Naples' coast
By chance recover'd, as by ravage lost,
Soon wiser laws, the work of many an age,
Plann'd by the Prince, the Statesman, and the Sage,
Mix with the edicts fram'd in Error's school,
And smooth the rigid form of Gothic rule;
Wisdom unseals charm'd Reason's drowsy eyes,
And once again Astræa leaves the skies.
Themis abash'd, her folly taught to feel,
Less frequent makes to heaven the rash appeal,
And blushes to decide the doubtful right
By burning Ordeal, or the listed fight.
The haughty noble quits the civil sword,
And the gown'd Judge succeeds the feudal Lord,
Impartial Justice curbs the oppressive deed,
And Science smiles from savage licence freed.
Now from the Abbey's solitary site
The imperfect glimmerings shone of classic light.
The still recluse condemn'd for years to pore
O'er the dull leaf of theologic lore,
Awhile would quit fatigu'd the toilsome page
To view the spoils of learning's happier age.
As there his curious eyes delighted trace
The thoughts congenial of a warrior race,
The attractive charm his ruder style refines,
And with more art romantic fable shines.
Those precious relics of imperial Rome
That haply chanc'd to 'scape the general doom,
The scatter'd monuments of old delight,
Strike the warm Fancy, and her powers excite:
The Latian Muse avows her native clime,
And drops the fervile bands of monkish rhyme:
While flying from Romania's ruin'd shore
Westward the Greeks their exil'd learning bore.
O had bright Science then with perfect grace
Her potent influence shed o'er Europe's race!
Their victor armies at Musurus' call,
Had chased the foe from fad Byzantium's wall.
That source whence verse it's purest charms deriv'd,
The glorious voice of Greece, had then surviv'd;
The docile ear by living masters taught
Had from their speech the genuine accents caught,
In native tones the Attic Muse had sung,
Nor mourn'd like Philomel her mangled tongue.
Again Hesperia's happy seats behold
The sacred laurels bud that bloom'd of old.
Chear'd and protected by the papal throne,
The rising arts a Leo's bounty own.
Starts from the sculptur'd stone the breathing frame
To emulate the forms of ancient fame;
The speaking canvass boasts a livelier hue
Than e'er Apelles' plastic pencil drew,
As Raphael's lines, or Titian's glowing dye,
Bid the bold picture strike the enchanted eye.
In Tuscan numbers Tasso's powers display
The solemn grandeur of the Epic lay;
While Vida tunes to Roman strains the wire
With Virgil's sweetness, and with Virgil's fire.
And even from northern Belgia Science draws
Superior strength to vindicate her cause.
The tedious manuscript no longer foils
The verbal copyist's persevering toils,
No more the expensive volumes only wait
To deck the palace of the rich and great,
On letter'd art the press new strength bestows,
And ampler rays diffusive learning throws.
The increasing powers of ripening sense pervade
The gloomy stillness of the cloister's shade,
Destroy the bonds that Reason's force confin'd,
And burst the fetters that enchain'd the mind.
Though the lone Abbey from barbarian rage
Sav'd the bright ruins of the classic page;
Though sometimes meek Religion's holy form
Would faintly shine through Superstition's storm:
Yet every vice that shuns the face of day
Work'd in monastic night it's secret way;
Each impious wile the Church unceasing tries,
That spreads her empire, or her stores supplies;
Now on the expiring votary's heart employs
The enchanting vision of seraphic joys,
Now bids despair attend the parting breath,
And plants with thorns the trembling bed of death;
Draws from the fears of langour and of pain
The rich possession, and the wide domain,
On the sad Widow's spoil the altar rears,
And bathes the sacred fane with Orphan tears.
Drunk with the vast excess of wealth and power,
Unmindful of returning Reason's hour,
She boldly prostitutes the laws of Heaven,
And for vile lucre is the indulgence given.
Crimes even that Nature shudders to behold
Obtain their pardon for the stated gold,
And impious leave for future Vice is sold.
But the long reign of Gothic night is pass'd,
And Wisdom's awful morning dawns at last,
The fierce anathemas unheeded come,
And Luther shakes the enormous power of Rome.
The forms of Falshood strive in vain to bear
The trying search of Truth's ethereal spear.
Even those less happy regions that remain
Press'd by the weight of Error's galling chain,
Immers'd in clouds of darkness though they seem,
Catch a faint twilight from the distant beam:
Convinc'd that true Religion's piercing eye
Will every source of pious fraud descry,
The furious Priest corrects his cruel zeal,
And milder sway the breathing nations feel,
Mercy's soft calls the bigot's wrath assuage,
And papal thunder loses half it's rage.
In Gaul the contrast strongly mark'd appears
Of Reason's force, and Error's gloomy fears:
With fond delight her partial eye surveys
Each hallow'd prejudice of earlier days,
Yet though her sons with ancient rite adore
The legendary saints that liv'd of yore,
Oft arm'd by hate though Persecution stood,
And drench'd Lutetia's walls with native blood;
Her's was the earliest boast with lenient care
To form soft Courtesy's attractive air;
Throw o'er the willing mind Politeness' chains,
And raise that empire which she yet maintains.
But on Britannia's shores with ample sway
Religion's purest charms their power display.—
As the dread earthquake and the raging storm
The high behests of awful heaven perform,
So a proud tyrant's disappointed aims
Broke the strong tie of Rome's despotic claims.
The labors by the haughty sire begun
Attain perfection from the pious son;
And though a female's bigot zeal succeeds,
Burns the firm martyr, and the patriot bleeds,
While stand Iberia's sons exulting by
And civil Freedom mark with harpy eye,
The transient terror flies, like vapors driven
By sweeping Eurus o'er the face of heaven,
And Worship freed from each polluting stain,
Adorns the annals of Eliza's reign.
Hail glorious Queen! in whose propitious hour
The towering structure rose of Britain's power.
Let the Historian laboring to impart
His favorite paradox with envious art,
Invoke capricious Malice to deface
The scene of Albion's ripening strength and grace:
Still shall the voice of former times be heard
To vindicate that worth our sires rever'd.
'Twas thine to bid Britannia's native force
Check rash Invasion in her headlong course,
Old Ocean's waves with prows triumphant sweep,
And reign unrivall'd o'er the subject deep:
Thine too the milder glory to increase
The gentle sway of Courtesy and Peace.
Though Artists with fastidious look behold
The dome it's rude magnificence unfold,
Though modern Elegance affect to scorn
The rougher Manners which thy court adorn,
Yet sure some reverential awe shall wait
Each venerable pile of ancient state;
Yet sure some bosom even those days shall charm,
When Love romantic, strengthening Valor's arm,
Call'd each heroic passion boldly forth,
And gave the admiring world a Sydney's worth.
The expectant Muse at length with joyful eyes
The rising hope of ancient fame descries.
Melodious Spenser while his cares refine
The wild redundance of the Saxon line,
On Gothic fable rears his rich machine,
And sings the paynim foe and elfin Queen:
While like the laurel'd son of Grecian fame
Immortal Shakespear burns with native flame.—
Unequall'd Bard! the grateful Muse shall raise
To thee the monument of deathless praise,
Nor interweave one flower of foreign bloom
Amid the votive wreaths that deck thy tomb:
For no faint blaze from elder learning caught
Rais'd in thy breast the imitative thought;
Nor shall my verse compare thy wonderous page
With the best scenes of Athens' perfect stage,
Or of thy Phœnix wing a rival own
Save the Mæonian Prodigy alone.
A numerous train of tuneful Bards succeed,
Strike the loud lyre, or fill the warbling reed.
In the just pride of inborn Genius bold,
Yet taught by every Muse that charm'd of old,
Soaring with eagle eye, and eagle flight,
Amid the realms of empyrean light,
Lo Milton throws with daring hand away
The splendid fetters of the Runic lay!
While Dryden's clear harmonious notes rehearse
The humblest subject in the sweetest verse,
Nor ask the figur'd style or pompous phrase,
From common speech his simplest lines to raise;
Yet when some theme with energy sublime,
Calls forth the wonders of his varied rhyme,
'Tis his to catch the animating fire,
Bid the bold strain to giddy heights aspire,
Rival the Mantuan swan, or mate the Theban lyre.
But while fair Poesy with favoring smile
Beholds her votaries thrive in Albion's isle,
The meeker Arts with trembling step explore
Some safe asylum on a foreign shore,
For o'er her fields stern War terrific stood,
And long and dreadful raged the thirst of blood.—
Though the poetic bay with changeless form
Braves the worst fury of the thundering storm,
The inferior flowers that paint the shelter'd vale,
Shrink at the breath of every ruder gale.—
Soon polish'd Gallia's hospitable plain
Yields a kind refuge to the exil'd train,
For civil Fury from her seats was flown,
And Monarchy had fix'd her stable throne,
Their gifts the smiling powers of Peace disclose,
And Lewis there a new Augustus rose:
A Prince's wiles again the Arts invoke
With magic touch to lighten Slavery's yoke,
Reason's keen eye with skilful care to blind,
And turn from Freedom's view the active mind.
The grateful race encourag'd by his sway
The patronage with ample bounty pay,
Give what his fleets and armies ne'er could claim,
Unsullied glory, and unenvied fame.
For though a British Muse would blush to aid
The guilty fabric by Ambition made,
Yet to impartial rules of Justice true
She gives the praise to real Merit due.—
Not opening Science nor encourag'd Art
Alone their lustre to his reign impart:
The splendid period by his care refin'd
Marks a strong era of the improving Mind.
By him new modell'd wondering Europe saw
Her ancient Arms, her Manners, and her Law.
Though dear the price each fair attainment cost,
When in the exchange was Independence lost.
Beauty with sense endow'd, with sweetness graced,
Sits the chief arbitress of soften'd taste,
And fame attends, as her applauding eyes
Of valor or of wit, award the prize.
No more the rural Lord mid distant plains
O'er vassal fiefs a little tyrant reigns;
To the gay circle of the Monarch's court
All Power, all Splendor, and all Arts resort,
There steep'd in joy the nobler race reside
And change for royal smiles provincial pride.
While marshall'd Discipline with studious care
Gives a new semblance to the forms of War:
No more, their stated service forced to yield,
Untrain'd the hasty levies throng the field,
No more the stripling of illustrious birth
Leads armies by hereditary worth:
An order of the state the Soldier stands,
And though a slave himself the rest commands,
Derives his rank from regal will alone,
And only pays obedience to the throne.
While Gallia thus a general power obtains
And guides mankind by soft Opinion's reins,
Long was the scene of bleeding Britain's woes
Ere from the strife emerging Peace arose.
Each party yields at times, at times prevails,
As changing Fortune lifts her dubious scales;
Till lost, or scatter'd, Virtue's Patriot train,
Her cause deserted, and her Hambden slain,
Contending sects fulfill'd a Tyrant's view,
And Faction seiz'd the sword that Freedom drew;
In civil rage each gentler care was drown'd,
And fierce on joy the wild Enthusiast frown'd.
Nor when reviving Albion saw restor'd
Her ravish'd sceptre, and her legal lord,
Did liberal art the polish'd lustre boast
That mark'd each work of Gallia's rival coast,
Licentious Vice a laughing court debas'd,
And looser Manners tainted public Taste.
Nor could a graver prince intent alone
To change religion on his tottering throne,
From a short reign of struggle and of care
One transient smile to prostrate Science spare.
And though we own with deference and with awe,
The public virtues that adorn'd Nassau,
Yet candor must confess his rigid mind
No Pleasure sooth'd, no Elegance refin'd.
At length Britannia's sons with transport view
Another Queen their ancient fame renew,
Once more the prize in Arts and Arms obtain,
And see Eliza's days reviv'd in Anna's reign.
Whate'er of wisdom, and whate'er of grace,
Could form or dignify the human race,
Taught Albion now her splendid worth to raise,
Beyond the envied height of classic praise.
For say could all the learned sage display'd
In Academus, or the Tuscan shade,
Compare with Newton, whose immortal force
Pursued coy Nature to her inmost source,
Or Locke who knew with lynx's eye to find
Man's secret Soul, and analyse the Mind?
Or shall Refinement in the brightest page
Of Roman Splendor rival Anna's Age?
Where, though Politeness now of freer school.
Condemn Formality's too rigid rule,
Adorn'd by Reason, Converse learn'd to please,
And manly Dignity attemper'd Ease,
Public attention waited conscious Worth,
And liberal Manners mark'd illustrious Birth.
The Muses too their tuneful powers employ,
And the loud Pæan join of general joy:
What though their voice strikes not the ravish'd ear
With notes that Greece and Rome were wont to hear,
Yet when sweet Pope's melodious lines convey
The moral subject in the perfect lay,
To British numbers charms unknown impart,
And varied sounds combine with happiest art,
Rapp'd with delight Aonia's listening throng
Drink the soft accents of the dulcet song,
And own the immortal strains of earlier time
Are nearly rivall'd in a northern clime,
By verse of Gothic frame and manacled with rhime.
Though Britain must revere the kings who draw
Their royal claims from Liberty and Law,
In holy Freedom's pure regalia shine,
And deem a People's Voice their Right Divine:
Yet midst her patrons Science cannot place
The earliest monarchs of the Brunswick race.
No princely favor kindles Genius' flame;
Or raises modest worth to wealth or fame;
To private vanity the artists trust,
Whence the stiff portrait, and the unmeaning bust,
While her Pagodas gaudy China rears,
And Cibber's brow the sullied laurel wears.
But see! a Prince succeeds whose generous heart
The liberal Patron glows of every art,
The slumbering train warm'd by his chearing smile
Break from their trance, and polish Albion's isle.
Yet though Medusa's charm revers'd is shewn
As Sculpture animates the Parian stone,
By Architecture though the dome is graced
With all the ornaments of Attic taste,
Though drawn by Painting's animating hand
With life, with character, the portraits stand;
Yet Britain's candid sons must yield the prize
To the bright influence of Italian skies,
Where Guido's touch enthusiast rapture fir'd,
And holy zeal a Raphael's tints inspir'd.
Theirs be the unenvied triumph!—while applause
From her inventive powers Britannia draws.
The stores in Nature's rural empire placed
To chuse with judgment, and arrange with taste,
O'er the soft grace her genuine forms impart
To throw the simple stole of decent Art,
For the high fountain, and the pent cascade,
Cyphers of turf, and cabinets of shade,
To teach the wave in graceful bends to flow,
To crown with wood the mountain's heathy brow,
And bid the flower and blooming shrub succeed
The rugged bramble, and the loathsome weed,
This be her glory!—pleas'd to shine alone
In native charms, and Beauty all her own:
Secure her fame unhurt by time shall stand
Since Mason's verse records what Brown has plann'd.
But ah! while thus the Arts inferior train
Thrive in the sunshine of a George's reign;
Sweet Poesy, whose sacred powers exceed
The Sculptor's chisel, and the Painter's reed,
Whose pen has Virtue's moral shape design'd,
And drawn the immortal image of the Mind,
Whose magic sounds to melody dispense
The flowers of Fancy, and the force of Sense;
Sweet Poesy, neglected and forlorn,
The feeble rays of patronage must mourn.
By wealth or wisdom placed in happier state
Though a bold few disdain to court the great;
Though Mason frame the warm descriptive lay,
Or strike the lyre with Pindar, and with Gray;
Though listening Harmony with raptur'd ear
Attentive stand, the enchanting notes to hear,
As sailing on the rainbow-tinctur'd wings
Of chaste Imagination, Hayley sings:
In plaintive strains at sighing Friendship's call
Though tuneful Seward mourn her Andre's fall,
And wrap the felon cord that clos'd his breath
In radiant Glory's amaranthine wreath;
Tho' Warton young-ey'd Fancy's favorite child,
On whose auspicious birth the Muses smil'd,
And taught his glowing colors to portray
The rural landscape, and the vernal day,
With classic Art his flowing numbers fill,
And join the Critic's to the Poet's skill;
Yet as with streaming eye the sorrowing Muse
Pale Chatterton's untimely urn bedews,
Her accents shall arraign the partial care
That shielded not her son from cold despair:
And many a bard by frowning Fortune led
To abject interest bows the venal head,
Compell'd to point with cruel wit the dart
That wing'd by malice rives the blameless heart,
Or ideot pride by slavish notes to raise,
And cast to swine the precious gems of praise.
O let, Imperial George! the Muses share
The kindly dews of thy parental care.
Too oft has Poesy with servile aim
By tyrants favor'd, sung a tyrant's fame,
O let one monarch wake her nobler rage,
And consecrate to Truth her holy page!
Rais'd by thy hand, I see on Albion's plain
The seeds of Grecian glory bloom again!
See Genius plume once more her eagle wing,
Hear other Homers, other Shakespears sing!
And while their voice down time's eternal flood
Wafts the clear honors of the Wise and Good,
Ages unborn shall bless the just decree,
And future Heroes owe their fame to thee.
Here let us pause,—attentive to survey
The present æra of Refinement's sway.
As in some perfect scene of Britain's isle,
Where all the charms of cultur'd Nature smile,
To velvet lawns, and flowery shades, succeed
The furrow'd champain, and the irriguous mead,
Then woods, and heaths in soft perspective rise,
Till rough the distant mountains meet the skies;
So let our search the changing picture trace
Through all the different tribes of human race;
The strong gradations mark with curious eye
Midst civil and barbarian life that lie,
From Europe's crouded towns and inmates mild,
To the rude savage, and the dreary wild.
Conspicuous rising o'er the various scene,
Of Arts and Arms, though Europe shine the Queen
Yet even her offspring from Refinement share
Unequal influence, and a partial care.
With studious zeal the polish'd sons of France
Lead up attractive Pleasure's airy dance,
Each varied mark of character forsake
One pliant form of general mode to take,
The fairest wreaths from Courtesy to claim
Their first ambition, and their proudest aim.
Not so Britannia, on her bleaker plains
Still wild Caprice in spite of Science reigns,
No central court there all distinction draws,
No judge directs of critic art the laws,
All as they list presume to regulate
The page of learning and the powers of state,
Indignant cast each servile rule away,
Nor even in Taste admit despotic sway.—
No ductile texture can the mind acquire
Mid Faction's storms, and Freedom's glowing fire:
The amorous youth at Party's noisy call
Quits for the grave debate the lively ball;
And in the social scenes of softer grace
Will Business oft intrude with serious face,
While Politics on public cares decide,
And settle Europe's rights by Beauty's side.
Though Italy first saw reviving Art,
And wakening Science sooth again the heart,
She loiters now in Glory's bright career,
Nor longer pants the prize of fame to wear;
No more her pencil bids the canvas glow,
But yields the envied wreath to Reynolds' brow;
Damp'd is the bold Historian's generous fire,
Numb'd the free hand, and mute the living lyre.
Yet her's the boast with skilful touch to bring
The sweetest sounds from Music's trembling string,
To bid full Harmony with swelling note
In undulating lays of Rapture float,
The liquid strains of melody prolong,
And lap the soul in extasy of song.
Iberia's sons, of yore who foremost strove
In the bright lists of Valor and of Love,
Who caught in early time each softer grace
From their brave victors of the Moorish race,
(No more to Emulation's call awake,)
The paths of Glory and of Art forsake.—
What time Columbus taught them to explore
The treasur'd wonders of the Atlantic shore,
Gold, all corrupting gold with fatal charm
Entranced the bosom, and unnerv'd the arm,
And lazy Avarice every wish confines
To the rich produce of the Indian mines.
While Bigotry, whose blast no power survives,
Thro' the waste realms with furious whirlwind drives,
And bids them Heaven's avenging Justice feel
For fell Pizarro's flames, and Cortez' murderous steel.
In Belgia o'er a people's prostrate heads
Her universal reign where Commerce spreads,
The thirst of gain absorbs all other care,
And few the votaries of Refinement there.
While in Germania endless forms conspire
To damp the ingenuous glow of native fire,
The Herald's blazon, and the Noble's pride,
The different ranks so rigidly divide,
That deepest Science, and exalted worth
Can ne'er o'erleap the casual bar of Birth.
Besides such empty claims the thoughts employ,
So clog the free exchange of social joy,
Such serious trifles so engage the taste,
Such dire effects attend a name misplaced,
That far the gentler Graces wing their flight,
Nor bear the drudgery to grow polite.
Yet the strong marks of characters like these
Fade every hour and vanish by degrees.—
Those numerous causes that with different force
Have biass'd, or oppos'd, Refinement's course,
Have dimm'd her radiant beams with sullen gloom,
Or veil'd the lustre of her native bloom,
With daily lapse their weaken'd influence lose,
One general form as Gallia's arts diffuse,
What Prejudice destroy'd, or Error stain'd,
By imitative Zeal is now regain'd,
And Europe's changing race with common care
Affect her manners, and assume her air.
Piercing the midnight gloom of Northern skies
At length in Russian climes the Arts arise:
Already by a patriot Monarch sought,
Had Industry each rougher Science taught,
And now those joys that graver toil beguile,
The favoring warmth confess of Catherine's smile.
O glorious Princess! lo the sorrowing Muse
Thy great designs with anxious look pursues!
For as she frequent bends her weeping eye
To scenes on Europe's utmost bound that lie,
And sees pale Tyranny's oppressive throne
Triumphant rear'd o'er regions once her own,
A gleam of hope awhile her anguish charms
Drawn from thy generous aims, and conquering arms:
She views in Fancy's dream thy Victor host
Drive the grim Despot from the Grecian coast,
Sees European Freedom bless the shore,
And Science grace her favorite seats once more.
Asia's wide realms, on whose propitious earth
First teeming Genius gave Refinement birth,
Lie the sad objects of barbarian sway,
To tyrants fierce, and fiercer lusts a prey.
For on her eastern plain's extremest verge
Her early claims though distant China urge,
Though Arts which Europe saw of late unfold
Inform'd she boasts her wiser chiefs of old;
Yet as her jealous sons have never join'd
The common intercourse of human kind,
To each fond tale the traveller displays
A doubtful credit wavering Reason pays,
And Learning fears the incurious race to own,
Of all unknowing, and by all unknown.
What else exists beneath the cope of heaven
Is to the savage tribe of wanderers given,
Who unrestrain'd by precept or by law,
From climate, and from soil, their difference draw.
The sable African no culture boasts,
Fierce as his sun, and ruthless as his coasts;
And where the immeasurable forests spread
Beyond the extent of Ocean's western bed,
Unsocial, uninform'd, the tawney race
Range the drear wild, and urge the incessant chace.
Amid the wide expanse of southern seas
Where the blest isles inhale the genial breeze,
The happier native in the fragrant grove
Woos the soft powers of Indolence and Love:
But where more keen the ray, more rude the gale,
Manners less mild and harsher cares prevail;
Till in the sad extremes of polar frost,
The sacred beam of human reason lost,
Man scarcely rises from the shaggy brood
That prowl insatiate o'er the icy flood.
Dire were the scene!—but Europe's gentler kind,
Tempting the billowy deep and fickle wind,
With venturous prows each distant seat explore,
And boldly tread the inhospitable shore;
Tame the wild waste, correct the unwholesome air,
And fix of polish'd life the empire there.
On Afric's southmost point their happy toil
Bids gay Pomona clothe the sultry soil,
Their power on Asia's eastern coast commands,
And Ganges flows by European lands:
In the vast tracts beyond the Atlantic main
Their Arts, their Science, and their Manners reign,
Where rising Glory soars with pinion young,
And imitates the parent whence she sprung:
While, (civil Discord's bloody storm o'erblown,)
Albion, her brave descendants proud to own,
‘Lo these my sons!’ exulting shall exclaim,
‘Who caught from me immortal Freedom's flame,
‘And firmly zealous in the holy cause,
‘Extend o'er half the globe Britannia's laws.’
May Europe's race the generous toil pursue,
And Truth's broad mirror spread to every view;
Awake to Reason's voice the savage mind,
Check Error's force, and civilize mankind;
Faith's radiant beam impart to farthest climes,
And teach pure Wisdom undebas'd by crimes;
To the free breeze the swelling sail unfold
Impell'd by Virtue, not allur'd by Gold.
No more with arms the trembling tribes destroy,
But soft Persuasion's gentler Powers employ,
Till, from her throne barbarian Rudeness hurl'd,
Refinement spread her Empire o'er the world.