Since fate relentless stopp'd their heavenly voice, No more the forests ring, or groves rejoice; Who now shall charm the shades, where Cowley strung His living harp, and lofty Denham sung? But hark! the groves rejoice, the forest rings! Are these revived? or is it Granville sings? 280 'Tis yours, my lord, to bless our soft retreats, And call the Muses to their ancient seats; To paint anew the flowery sylvan scenes, To crown the forest with immortal greens, Make Windsor hills in lofty numbers rise, And lift her turrets nearer to the skies; To sing those honours you deserve to wear, And add new lustre to her silver star.
Here noble Surrey felt the sacred rage, Surrey, the Granville of a former age: 290 Matchless his pen, victorious was his lance, Bold in the lists, and graceful in the dance: In the same shades the Cupids tuned his lyre, To the same notes, of love and soft desire: Fair Geraldine, bright object of his vow, Then fill'd the groves, as heavenly Mira now.
Oh, wouldst thou sing what heroes Windsor bore, What kings first breathed upon her winding shore, Or raise old warriors, whose adored remains In weeping vaults her hallow'd earth contains! 300 With Edward's acts adorn the shining page, Stretch his long triumphs down through every age, Draw monarchs chain'd, and Cressy's glorious field, The lilies blazing on the regal shield: Then, from her roofs when Verrio's colours fall, And leave inanimate the naked wall, Still in thy song should vanquish'd France appear, And bleed for ever under Britain's spear.
Let softer strains ill-fated Henry mourn, And palms eternal flourish round his urn. 310 Here o'er the martyr-king the marble weeps, And, fast beside him, once-fear'd Edward sleeps. Whom not the extended Albion could contain, From old Belerium to the northern main, The grave unites; where ev'n the great find rest, And blended lie the oppressor and the oppress'd!
Make sacred Charles' tomb for ever known, (Obscure the place, and uninscribed the stone) Oh fact accursed! what tears has Albion shed, Heavens, what new wounds! and how her old have bled! 320 She saw her sons with purple deaths expire, Her sacred domes involved in rolling fire, A dreadful series of intestine wars, Inglorious triumphs and dishonest scars. At length great Anna said—'Let discord cease!' She said, the world obey'd, and all was peace!
In that blest moment, from his oozy bed Old Father Thames advanced his reverend head; His tresses dropp'd with dews, and o'er the stream His shining horns diffused a golden gleam: 330 Graved on his urn appear'd the moon, that guides His swelling waters, and alternate tides; The figured streams in waves of silver roll'd, And on their banks Augusta rose in gold. Around his throne the sea-born brothers stood, Who swell with tributary urns his flood; First the famed authors of his ancient name, The winding Isis and the fruitful Thame: The Kennet swift, for silver eels renown'd; The Loddon slow, with verdant alders crown'd; 340 Cole, whose dark streams his flowery islands lave; And chalky Wey, that rolls a milky wave; The blue, transparent Vandalis appears; The gulfy Lee his sedgy tresses rears; And sullen Mole, that hides his diving flood; And silent Darent, stain'd with Danish blood.
High in the midst, upon his urn reclined, (His sea-green mantle waving with the wind) The god appear'd: he turn'd his azure eyes Where Windsor-domes and pompous turrets rise; 350 Then bow'd and spoke; the winds forget to roar, And the hush'd waves glide softly to the shore.
Hail, sacred Peace! hail, long-expected days, That Thames's glory to the stars shall raise! Though Tiber's streams immortal Rome behold, Though foaming Hermus swells with tides of gold, From heaven itself though sevenfold Nilus flows, And harvests on a hundred realms bestows; These now no more shall be the Muse's themes, Lost in my fame, as in the sea their streams. 360 Let Volga's banks with iron squadrons shine, And groves of lances glitter on the Rhine, Let barbarous Ganges arm a servile train; Be mine the blessings of a peaceful reign. No more my sons shall dye with British blood Red Iber's sands, or Ister's foaming flood: Safe on my shore each unmolested swain Shall tend the flocks, or reap the bearded grain; The shady empire shall retain no trace Of war or blood, but in the sylvan chase; 370 The trumpet sleep, while cheerful horns are blown, And arms employ'd on birds and beasts alone. Behold! the ascending villas on my side, Project long shadows o'er the crystal tide, Behold! Augusta's glittering spires increase, And temples rise, the beauteous works of Peace. I see, I see, where two fair cities bend Their ample bow, a new Whitehall ascend! There mighty nations shall inquire their doom, The world's great oracle in times to come; 380 There kings shall sue, and suppliant states be seen Once more to bend before a British queen.
Thy trees, fair Windsor! now shall leave their woods, And half thy forests rush into the floods, Bear Britain's thunder, and her cross display, To the bright regions of the rising day; Tempt icy seas, where scarce the waters roll, Where clearer flames glow round the frozen pole; Or under southern skies exalt their sails, Led by new stars, and borne by spicy gales! 390 For me the balm shall bleed, and amber flow, The coral redden, and the ruby glow, The pearly shell its lucid globe infold, And Phoebus warm the ripening ore to gold. The time shall come when, free as seas or wind, Unbounded Thames shall flow for all mankind, Whole nations enter with each swelling tide, And seas but join the regions they divide; Earth's distant ends our glory shall behold, And the new world launch forth to seek the old. 400 Then ships of uncouth form shall stem the tide, And feather'd people crowd my wealthy side, And naked youths and painted chiefs admire Our speech, our colour, and our strange attire! O stretch thy reign, fair Peace! from shore to shore, Till conquest cease, and slavery be no more; Till the freed Indians in their native groves Reap their own fruits, and woo their sable loves, Peru once more a race of kings behold, And other Mexicos be roof'd with gold. 410 Exiled by thee from earth to deepest hell, In brazen bonds, shall barbarous Discord dwell; Gigantic Pride, pale Terror, gloomy Care, And mad Ambition shall attend her there: There purple Vengeance bathed in gore retires, Her weapons blunted, and extinct her fires: There hateful Envy her own snakes shall feel, And Persecution mourn her broken wheel: There Faction roar, Rebellion bite her chain, And gasping Furies thirst for blood in vain. 420
Here cease thy flight, nor with unhallow'd lays Touch the fair fame of Albion's golden days: The thoughts of gods let Granville's verse recite, And bring the scenes of opening fate to light. My humble Muse, in unambitious strains, Paints the green forests and the flowery plains, Where Peace descending bids her olives spring, And scatters blessings from her dove-like wing. Ev'n I more sweetly pass my careless days, Pleased in the silent shade with empty praise; 430 Enough for me, that to the listening swains First in these fields I sung the sylvan strains.
* * * * *
VER. 3-6, originally thus:—
Chaste Goddess of the woods, Nymphs of the vales, and Naiads of the floods, Lead me through arching bowers, and glimmering glades. Unlock your springs, &c.
VER. 25-28. Originally thus:—
Why should I sing our better suns or air, Whose vital draughts prevent the leech's care, While through fresh fields the enlivening odours breathe, Or spread with vernal blooms the purple heath?
VER. 49, 50. Originally thus in the MS.—
From towns laid waste, to dens and caves they ran (For who first stoop'd to be a slave was man.)
VER. 57, 58:—
No wonder savages or subjects slain— But subjects starved while savages were fed.
Oh may no more a foreign master's rage, With wrongs yet legal, curse a future age! Still spread, fair Liberty! thy heavenly wings, Breathe plenty on the fields, and fragrance on the springs.
When yellow autumn summer's heat succeeds, And into wine the purple harvest bleeds, The partridge feeding in the new-shorn fields, Both morning sports and evening pleasures yields.
VER. 107-110. It stood thus in the first editions:—
Pleased, in the General's sight, the host lie down Sudden before some unsuspecting town; The young, the old, one instant makes our prize, And o'er their captive heads Britannia's standard flies.
O'er rustling leaves around the naked groves.
The fowler lifts his levell'd tube on high.
Happy the man, who to the shades retires, But doubly happy, if the Muse inspires! Blest whom the sweets of home-felt quiet please; But far more blest, who study joins with ease.
VER. 231, 232. It stood thus in the MS.—
And force great Jove, if Jove's a lover still, To change Olympus, &c.
VER. 265-268. It stood thus in the MS.—
Methinks around your holy scenes I rove, And hear your music echoing through the grove: With transport visit each inspiring shade By god-like poets venerable made.
VER. 273, 274—
What sighs, what murmurs fill'd the vocal shore! His tuneful swans were heard to sing no more.
VER. 288. All the lines that follow were not added to the poem till the year 1710. What immediately followed this, and made the conclusion, were these:—
My humble Muse in unambitious strains Paints the green forests and the flowery plains; Where I obscurely pass my careless days, Pleased in the silent shade with empty praise, Enough for me that to the listening swains First in these fields I sung the sylvan strains.
VER. 305, 306. Originally thus in the MS.—
When brass decays, when trophies lie o'erthrown, And mouldering into dust drops the proud stone.
VER. 319-322. Originally thus in the MS.—
Oh fact accurst! oh sacrilegious brood, Sworn to rebellion, principled in blood! Since that dire morn what tears has Albion shed, Gods! what new wounds, &c.
VER. 325, 326. Thus in the MS.—
Till Anna rose and bade the Furies cease; 'Let there be peace'—she said, and all was peace.
Between VER. 328 and 329, originally stood these lines—
From shore to shore exulting shouts he heard, O'er all his banks a lambent light appear'd, With sparkling flames heaven's glowing concave shone, Fictitious stars, and glories not her own. He saw, and gently rose above the stream; His shining horns diffuse a golden gleam: With pearl and gold his towery front was dress'd, The tributes of the distant East and West.
VER. 361-364. Originally thus in the MS.—
Let Venice boast her towers amidst the main, Where the rough Adrian swells and roars in vain; Here not a town, but spacious realm shall have A sure foundation on the rolling wave.
VER. 383-387 were originally thus—
Now shall our fleets the bloody cross display To the rich regions of the rising day, Or those green isles, where headlong Titan steeps His hissing axle in the Atlantic deeps: Tempt icy seas, &c.
ODE ON ST CECILIA'S DAY,
1 Descend, ye Nine! descend and sing; The breathing instruments inspire, Wake into voice each silent string, And sweep the sounding lyre; In a sadly-pleasing strain Let the warbling lute complain: Let the loud trumpet sound, Till the roofs all around The shrill echoes rebound: While in more lengthen'd notes and slow, The deep, majestic, solemn organs blow. Hark! the numbers soft and clear, Gently steal upon the ear; Now louder, and yet louder rise, And fill with spreading sounds the skies; Exulting in triumph now swell the bold notes, In broken air, trembling, the wild music floats; Till, by degrees, remote and small, The strains decay, And melt away, In a dying, dying fall.
2 By Music, minds an equal temper know, Nor swell too high, nor sink too low. If in the breast tumultuous joys arise, Music her soft, assuasive voice applies; Or, when the soul is press'd with cares, Exalts her in enlivening airs. Warriors she fires with animated sounds; Pours balm into the bleeding lover's wounds; Melancholy lifts her head, Morpheus rouses from his bed, Sloth unfolds her arms and wakes, Listening Envy drops her snakes; Intestine war no more our passions wage, And giddy factions hear away their rage.
3 But when our country's cause provokes to arms, How martial music every bosom warms! So when the first bold vessel dared the seas, High on the stern the Thracian raised his strain, While Argo saw her kindred trees Descend from Pelion to the main. Transported demigods stood round, And men grew heroes at the sound, Inflamed with glory's charms: Each chief his sevenfold shield display'd, And half unsheath'd the shining blade: And seas, and rocks, and skies rebound, 'To arms, to arms, to arms!'
4 But when through all the infernal bounds, Which flaming Phlegethon surrounds, Love, strong as death, the poet led To the pale nations of the dead, What sounds were heard, What scenes appear'd, O'er all the dreary coasts! Dreadful gleams, Dismal screams, Fires that glow, Shrieks of woe, Sullen moans, Hollow groans, And cries of tortured ghosts! But, hark! he strikes the golden lyre; And see! the tortured ghosts respire, See, shady forms advance! Thy stone, O Sisyphus! stands still, Ixion rests upon his wheel. And the pale spectres dance! The Furies sink upon their iron beds, And snakes uncurl'd hang listening round their heads.
5 'By the streams that ever flow, By the fragrant winds that blow O'er the Elysian flowers; By those happy souls who dwell In yellow meads of asphodel, Or amaranthine bowers; By the hero's armed shades, Glittering through the gloomy glades; By the youths that died for love, Wandering in the myrtle grove, Restore, restore Eurydice to life: Oh take the husband, or return the wife!' He sung, and hell consented To hear the poet's prayer: Stern Proserpine relented, And gave him back the fair. Thus song could prevail O'er death and o'er hell, A conquest how hard and how glorious! Though fate had fast bound her With Styx nine times round her, Yet Music and Love were victorious.
6 But soon, too soon, the lover turns his eyes: Again she falls, again she dies, she dies! How wilt thou now the fatal sisters move? No crime was thine, if 'tis no crime to love. Now under hanging mountains, Beside the falls of fountains, Or where Hebrus wanders, Rolling in meanders, All alone, Unheard, unknown, He makes his moan; And calls her ghost, For ever, ever, ever lost! Now with Furies surrounded, Despairing, confounded, He trembles, he glows, Amidst Rhodope's snows: See, wild as the winds, o'er the desert he flies; Hark! Haemus resounds with the bacchanals' cries— Ah see, he dies! Yet even in death Eurydice he sung, Eurydice still trembled on his tongue, Eurydice the woods, Eurydice the floods, Eurydice the rocks and hollow mountains rung.
7 Music the fiercest grief can charm, And Fate's severest rage disarm: Music can soften pain to ease, And make despair and madness please: Our joys below it can improve, And antedate the bliss above. This the divine Cecilia found, And to her Maker's praise confined the sound. When the full organ joins the tuneful choir, The immortal powers incline their ear; Borne on the swelling notes our souls aspire, While solemn airs improve the sacred fire; And angels lean from heaven to hear. Of Orpheus now no more let poets tell, To bright Cecilia greater power is given; His numbers raised a shade from hell, Hers lift the soul to heaven.
TWO CHORUSES TO THE TRAGEDY OF BRUTUS.
CHORUS OF ATHENIANS.
Ye shades, where sacred truth is sought; Groves, where immortal sages taught: Where heavenly visions Plato fired, And Epicurus' lay inspired; In vain your guiltless laurels stood Unspotted long with human blood. War, horrid war, your thoughtful walks invades, And steel now glitters in the Muses' shades.
O heaven-born sisters! source of art! Who charm the sense, or mend the heart; Who lead fair Virtue's train along, Moral truth, and mystic song! To what new clime, what distant sky, Forsaken, friendless, shall ye fly? Say, will ye bless the bleak Atlantic shore, Or bid the furious Gaul be rude no more?
When Athens sinks by fates unjust, When wild barbarians spurn her dust; Perhaps even Britain's utmost shore Shall cease to blush with strangers' gore, See Arts her savage sons control, And Athens rising near the pole! Till some new tyrant lifts his purple hand, And civil madness tears them from the land.
Ye gods! what justice rules the ball? Freedom and Arts together fall; Fools grant whate'er Ambition craves, And men, once ignorant, are slaves. Oh, cursed effects of civil hate, In every age, in every state! Still, when the lust of tyrant power succeeds, Some Athens perishes, some Tully bleeds.
CHORUS OF YOUTHS AND VIRGINS.
O tyrant Love! hast thou possess'd The prudent, learn'd, and virtuous breast? Wisdom and wit in vain reclaim, And arts but soften us to feel thy flame. Love, soft intruder, enters here, But entering learns to be sincere. Marcus with blushes owns he loves, And Brutus tenderly reproves. Why, Virtue, dost thou blame desire, Which Nature has impress'd Why, Nature, dost thou soonest fire The mild and generous breast?
Love's purer flames the gods approve; The gods and Brutus bend to love: Brutus for absent Portia sighs, And sterner Cassius melts at Junia's eyes. What is loose love? a transient gust, Spent in a sudden storm of lust, A vapour fed from wild desire, A wandering, self-consuming fire. But Hymen's kinder flames unite, And burn for ever one; Chaste as cold Cynthia's virgin light, Productive as the sun.
Oh source of every social tie, United wish, and mutual joy! What various joys on one attend, As son, as father, brother, husband, friend! Whether his hoary sire he spies, While thousand grateful thoughts arise; Or meets his spouse's fonder eye; Or views his smiling progeny; What tender passions take their turns, What home-felt raptures move? His heart now melts, now leaps, now burns, With reverence, hope, and love.
Hence, guilty joys, distastes, surmises, Hence, false tears, deceits, disguises, Dangers, doubts, delays, surprises, Fires that scorch, yet dare not shine! Purest love's unwasting treasure, Constant faith, fair hope, long leisure, Days of ease, and nights of pleasure; Sacred Hymen! these are thine.
AUTHOR OF A POEM ENTITLED SUCCESSIO.
Begone, ye critics, and restrain your spite, Codrus writes on, and will for ever write. The heaviest Muse the swiftest course has gone, As clocks run fastest when most lead is on; What though no bees around your cradle flew, Nor on your lips distill'd the golden dew, Yet have we oft discover'd in their stead A swarm of drones that buzz'd about your head. When you, like Orpheus, strike the warbling lyre, Attentive blocks stand round you and admire. Wit pass'd through thee no longer is the same, As meat digested takes a different name, But sense must sure thy safest plunder be, Since no reprisals can be made on thee. Thus thou may'st rise, and in thy daring flight (Though ne'er so weighty) reach a wondrous height. So, forced from engines, lead itself can fly, And ponderous slugs move nimbly through the sky. Sure Bavius copied Maevius to the full, And Chaerilus taught Codrus to be dull; Therefore, dear friend, at my advice give o'er This needless labour; and contend no more To prove a dull succession to be true, Since 'tis enough we find it so in you.
* * * * *
ODE ON SOLITUDE.
1 Happy the man, whose wish and care A few paternal acres bound, Content to breathe his native air In his own ground.
2 Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread, Whose flocks supply him with attire, Whose trees in summer yield him shade, In winter fire.
3 Blest, who can unconcern'dly find Hours, days, and years slide soft away, In health of body, peace of mind, Quiet by day;
4 Sound sleep by night; study and ease, Together mix'd; sweet recreation; And innocence, which most does please, With meditation.
5 Thus let me live, unseen, unknown, Thus unlamented let me die, Steal from the world, and not a stone Tell where I lie.
* * * * *
THE DYING CHRISTIAN TO HIS SOUL.
1 Vital spark of heavenly flame! Quit, oh quit this mortal frame: Trembling, hoping, lingering, flying, Oh the pain, the bliss of dying! Cease, fond Nature, cease thy strife, And let me languish into life!
2 Hark! they whisper; angels say, 'Sister Spirit, come away!' What is this absorbs me quite? Steals my senses, shuts my sight, Drowns my spirits, draws my breath? Tell me, my soul, can this be Death?
3 The world recedes; it disappears! Heaven opens on my eyes! my ears With sounds seraphic ring! Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly! O Grave! where is thy victory? O Death! where is thy sting?
* * * * *
ELEGY TO THE MEMORY OF AN UNFORTUNATE LADY
What beckoning ghost, along the moonlight shade Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade? 'Tis she!—but why that bleeding bosom gored, Why dimly gleams the visionary sword? Oh, ever beauteous, ever friendly! tell, Is it, in heaven, a crime to love too well? To bear too tender, or too firm a heart, To act a lover's or a Roman's part? Is there no bright reversion in the sky, For those who greatly think, or bravely die? 10
Why bade ye else, ye Powers! her soul aspire Above the vulgar flight of low desire? Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes; The glorious fault of angels and of gods: Thence to their images on earth it flows, And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows. Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age, Dull, sullen prisoners in the body's cage: Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres; 20 Like Eastern kings a lazy state they keep, And, close confined to their own palace, sleep.
From these perhaps (ere Nature bade her die) Fate snatch'd her early to the pitying sky. As into air the purer spirits flow, And separate from their kindred dregs below; So flew the soul to its congenial place, Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good, Thou, mean deserter of thy brother's blood! 30 See on these ruby lips the trembling breath, These cheeks, now fading at the blast of death; Cold is that breast which warm'd the world before, And those love-darting eyes must roll no more. Thus, if Eternal Justice rules the ball, Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall: On all the line a sudden vengeance waits, And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates. There passengers shall stand, and pointing say, (While the long funerals blacken all the way) 40 'Lo, these were they, whose souls the Furies steel'd, And cursed with hearts unknowing how to yield.' Thus unlamented pass the proud away, The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day! So perish all, whose breast ne'er learn'd to glow For others' good, or melt at others' woe.
What can atone (O ever-injured Shade!) Thy fate unpitied, and thy rites unpaid? No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear Pleased thy pale ghost, or graced thy mournful bier, 50 By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed, By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed, By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn'd, By strangers honour'd, and by strangers mourn'd! What, though no friends in sable weeds appear, Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year, And bear about the mockery of woe To midnight dances, and the public show? What, though no weeping loves thy ashes grace, Nor polish'd marble emulate thy face? 60 What, though no sacred earth allow thee room, Nor hallow'd dirge be mutter'd o'er thy tomb? Yet shall thy grave with rising flowers be dress'd, And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast: There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow, There the first roses of the year shall blow; While angels with their silver wings o'ershade The ground, now sacred by thy relics made.
So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name, What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame. 70 How loved, how honour'd once, avails thee not, To whom related, or by whom begot; A heap of dust alone remains of thee, 'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be!
Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung, Deaf the praised ear, and mute the tuneful tongue. Even he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays, Shall shortly want the generous tear he pays; Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part, And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart; 80 Life's idle business at one gasp be o'er, The Muse forgot, and thou beloved no more!
* * * * *
PROLOGUE TO MR ADDISON'S TRAGEDY OF CATO.
To wake the soul by tender strokes of art, To raise the genius, and to mend the heart; To make mankind, in conscious virtue bold, Live o'er each scene, and be what they behold: For this the tragic Muse first trod the stage, Commanding tears to stream through every age; Tyrants no more their savage nature kept, And foes to virtue wonder'd how they wept. Our author shuns by vulgar springs to move The hero's glory, or the virgin's love; 10 In pitying love, we but our weakness show, And wild ambition well deserves its woe. Here tears shall flow from a more generous cause, Such tears as patriots shed for dying laws: He bids your breasts with ancient ardour rise, And calls forth Roman drops from British eyes. Virtue confess'd in human shape he draws, What Plato thought, and godlike Cato was: No common object to your sight displays, But what with pleasure Heaven itself surveys, 20 A brave man struggling in the storms of fate, And greatly falling with a falling state. While Cato gives his little senate laws, What bosom beats not in his country's cause? Who sees him act, but envies every deed? Who hears him groan, and does not wish to bleed? Even when proud Caesar, 'midst triumphal cars, The spoils of nations, and the pomp of wars, Ignobly vain and impotently great, Show'd Rome her Cato's figure drawn in state; 30 As her dead father's reverend image pass'd, The pomp was darken'd and the day o'ercast; The triumph ceased, tears gush'd from every eye; The world's great victor pass'd unheeded by; Her last good man dejected Rome adored, And honour'd Caesar's less than Cato's sword.
Britons, attend: be worth like this approved, And show you have the virtue to be moved. With honest scorn the first famed Cato view'd Rome learning arts from Greece, whom she subdued; 40 Your scene precariously subsists too long On French translation, and Italian song. Dare to have sense yourselves; assert the stage, Be justly warm'd with your own native rage; Such plays alone should win a British ear, As Cato's self had not disdain'd to hear.
* * * * *
IMITATIONS OF ENGLISH POETS.
Women ben full of ragerie, Yet swinken nat sans secresie. Thilke moral shall ye understond, From schoole-boy's tale of fayre Irelond: Which to the fennes hath him betake, To filche the gray ducke fro the lake. Right then, there passen by the way His aunt, and eke her daughters tway. Ducke in his trowses hath he hent, Not to be spied of ladies gent. 10 'But ho! our nephew!' crieth one; 'Ho!' quoth another, 'Cozen John;' And stoppen, and lough, and callen out,— This sely clerke full low doth lout: They asken that, and talken this, 'Lo here is Coz, and here is Miss.' But, as he glozeth with speeches soote, The ducke sore tickleth his erse roote: Fore-piece and buttons all to-brest, Forth thrust a white neck, and red crest. 20 'Te-he,' cried ladies; clerke nought spake: Miss stared; and gray ducke crieth 'Quaake.' 'O moder, moder!' quoth the daughter, 'Be thilke same thing maids longen a'ter? Bette is to pyne on coals and chalke, Then trust on mon, whose yerde can talke.'
1 In every town, where Thamis rolls his tyde, A narrow pass there is, with houses low; Where ever and anon the stream is eyed, And many a boat soft sliding to and fro. There oft are heard the notes of infant woe, The short thick sob, loud scream, and shriller squall: How can ye, mothers, vex your children so? Some play, some eat, some cack against the wall, And as they crouchen low, for bread and butter call.
2 And on the broken pavement, here and there, Doth many a stinking sprat and herring lie; A brandy and tobacco shop is near, And hens, and dogs, and hogs are feeding by; And here a sailor's jacket hangs to dry. At every door are sunburnt matrons seen, Mending old nets to catch the scaly fry; Now singing shrill, and scolding oft between; Scolds answer foul-mouth'd scolds; bad neighbourhood, I ween.
3 The snappish cur (the passenger's annoy) Close at my heel with yelping treble flies; The whimpering girl, and hoarser-screaming boy, Join to the yelping treble shrilling cries; The scolding quean to louder notes doth rise, And her full pipes those shrilling cries confound; To her full pipes the grunting hog replies; The grunting hogs alarm the neighbours round, And curs, girls, boys, and scolds, in the deep base are drown'd.
4 Hard by a sty, beneath a roof of thatch, Dwelt Obloquy, who in her early days Baskets of fish at Billingsgate did watch, Cod, whiting, oyster, mack'rel, sprat, or plaice: There learn'd she speech from tongues that never cease. Slander beside her, like a magpie, chatters, With Envy (spitting cat!), dread foe to peace; Like a cursed cur, Malice before her clatters, And vexing every wight, tears clothes and all to tatters.
5 Her dugs were mark'd by every collier's hand, Her mouth was black as bull-dog's at the stall: She scratched, bit, and spared ne lace ne band, And 'bitch' and 'rogue' her answer was to all; Nay, even the parts of shame by name would call: Yea, when she passed by or lane or nook, Would greet the man who turn'd him to the wall, And by his hand obscene the porter took, Nor ever did askance like modest virgin look.
6 Such place hath Deptford, navy-building town, Woolwich and Wapping, smelling strong of pitch; Such Lambeth, envy of each band and gown, And Twick'nam such, which fairer scenes enrich, Grots, stutues, urns, and Jo—n's dog and bitch, Ne village is without, on either side, All up the silver Thames, or all adown; Ne Richmond's self, from whose tall front are eyed Vales, spires, meandering streams, and Windsor's towery pride.
OF A LADY SINGING TO HER LUTE.
Fair charmer, cease! nor make your voice's prize, A heart resign'd, the conquest of your eyes: Well might, alas! that threaten'd vessel fail, Which winds and lightning both at once assail. We were too blest with these enchanting lays, Which must be heavenly when an angel plays: But killing charms your lover's death contrive, Lest heavenly music should be heard alive. Orpheus could charm the trees, but thus a tree, Taught by your hand, can charm no less than he: A poet made the silent wood pursue, This vocal wood had drawn the poet too.
ON A FAN OF THE AUTHOR'S DESIGN,
IN WHICH WAS PAINTED THE STORY OF CEPHALUS AND PROCRIS, WITH THE MOTTO, 'AURA VENI.'
'Come, gentle Air!' the Aeolian shepherd said, While Procris panted in the secret shade; 'Come, gentle Air!' the fairer Delia cries, While at her feet her swain expiring lies. Lo! the glad gales o'er all her beauties stray, Breathe on her lips, and in her bosom play! In Delia's hand this toy is fatal found, Nor could that fabled dart more surely wound: Both gifts destructive to the givers prove; Alike both lovers fall by those they love. Yet guiltless too this bright destroyer lives, At random wounds, nor knows the wound she gives: She views the story with attentive eyes, And pities Procris, while her lover dies.
Fain would my Muse the flowery treasures sing, And humble glories of the youthful Spring; Where opening roses breathing sweets diffuse, And soft carnations shower their balmy dews; Where lilies smile in virgin robes of white, The thin undress of superficial light, And varied tulips show so dazzling gay, Blushing in bright diversities of day. Each painted floweret in the lake below Surveys its beauties, whence its beauties grow; 10 And pale Narcissus on the bank, in vain Transformed, gazes on himself again. Here aged trees cathedral walks compose, And mount the hill in venerable rows: There the green infants in their beds are laid, The garden's hope, and its expected shade. Here orange-trees with blooms and pendants shine, And vernal honours to their autumn join; Exceed their promise in the ripen'd store, 20 Yet in the rising blossom promise more. There in bright drops the crystal fountains play, By laurels shielded from the piercing day: Where Daphne, now a tree, as once a maid, Still from Apollo vindicates her shade, Still turns her beauties from the invading beam, Nor seeks in vain for succour to the stream. The stream at once preserves her virgin leaves, At once a shelter from her boughs receives, Where summer's beauty midst of winter stays, And winter's coolness spite of summer's rays. 30
1 While Celia's tears make sorrow bright, Proud grief sits swelling in her eyes; The sun, next those the fairest light, Thus from the ocean first did rise: And thus through mists we see the sun, Which, else we durst not gaze upon.
2 These silver drops, like morning dew, Foretell the fervour of the day: So from one cloud soft showers we view, And blasting lightnings burst away. The stars that fall from Celia's eye, Declare our doom in drawing nigh.
3 The baby in that sunny sphere So like a Phaeton appears, That Heaven, the threaten'd world to spare, Thought fit to drown him in her tears: Else might the ambitious nymph aspire, To set, like him, Heaven too on fire.
V. EARL OF ROCHESTER.
1 Silence! coeval with eternity; Thou wert, ere Nature's self began to be, 'Twas one vast Nothing all, and all slept fast in thee.
2 Thine was the sway, ere heaven was form'd, or earth, Ere fruitful Thought conceived Creation's birth, Or midwife Word gave aid, and spoke the infant forth.
3 Then various elements against thee join'd, In one more various animal combined, And framed the clamorous race of busy humankind.
4 The tongue moved gently first, and speech was low, Till wrangling Science taught it noise and show, And wicked Wit arose, thy most abusive foe.
5 But rebel Wit deserts thee oft in vain; Lost in the maze of words he turns again, And seeks a surer state, and courts thy gentle reign.
6 Afflicted Sense thou kindly dost set free, Oppress'd with argumental tyranny, And routed Reason finds a safe retreat in thee.
7 With thee in private modest Dulness lies, And in thy bosom lurks in Thought's disguise; Thou varnisher of fools, and cheat of all the wise!
8 Yet thy indulgence is by both confess'd; Folly by thee lies sleeping in the breast, And 'tis in thee at last that Wisdom seeks for rest.
9 Silence! the knave's repute, the whore's good name, The only honour of the wishing dame; Thy very want of tongue makes thee a kind of fame.
10 But couldst thou seize some tongues that now are free, How Church and State should be obliged to thee! At Senate, and at Bar, how welcome would'st thou be!
11 Yet Speech even there submissively withdraws From rights of subjects, and the poor man's cause: Then pompous Silence reigns, and stills the noisy laws.
12 Past services of friends, good deeds of foes, What favourites gain, and what the nation owes, Fly the forgetful world, and in thy arms repose.
13 The country wit, religion of the town, The courtier's learning, policy o' the gown, Are best by thee express'd, and shine in thee alone.
14 The parson's cant, the lawyer's sophistry, Lord's quibble, critic's jest, all end in thee, All rest in peace at last, and sleep eternally.
VI. EARL OF DORSET.
1 Though Artemisia talks, by fits, Of councils, classics, fathers, wits; Reads Malebranche, Boyle, and Locke: Yet in some things methinks she fails— 'Twere well if she would pare her nails, And wear a cleaner smock.
2 Haughty and huge as High-Dutch bride, Such nastiness, and so much pride Are oddly join'd by fate: On her large squab you find her spread, Like a fat corpse upon a bed, That lies and stinks in state.
3 She wears no colours (sign of grace) On any part except her face; All white and black beside: Dauntless her look, her gesture proud, Her voice theatrically loud, And masculine her stride.
4 So have I seen, in black and white A prating thing, a magpie height, Majestically stalk; A stately, worthless animal, That plies the tongue, and wags the tail, All flutter, pride, and talk.
1 Phryne had talents for mankind, Open she was, and unconfined, Like some free port of trade: Merchants unloaded here their freight, And agents from each foreign state Here first their entry made.
2 Her learning and good breeding such, Whether the Italian or the Dutch, Spaniards or French came to her: To all obliging she'd appear, 'Twas 'Si, Signor,' 'twas 'Yaw, Mynheer,' 'Twas 'S' il vous plait, Monsieur.'
3 Obscure by birth, renown'd by crimes, Still changing names, religions, climes, At length she turns a bride: In diamonds, pearls, and rich brocades, She shines the first of batter'd jades, And flutters in her pride.
4 So have I known those insects fair, (Which curious Germans hold so rare) Still vary shapes and dyes; Still gain new titles with new forms; First grubs obscene, then wriggling worms, Then painted butterflies.
VII. DR SWIFT.
THE HAPPY LIFE OF A COUNTRY PARSON.
Parson, these things in thy possessing Are better than the bishop's blessing:— A wife that makes conserves; a steed That carries double when there's need: October store, and best Virginia, Tithe-pig, and mortuary guinea: Gazettes sent gratis down, and frank'd, For which thy patron's weekly thank'd: A large Concordance, bound long since: Sermons to Charles the First, when prince: A Chronicle of ancient standing; A Chrysostom to smooth thy band in: The Polyglot—three parts—my text, Howbeit—likewise—now to my next: Lo, here the Septuagint—and Paul, To sum the whole—the close of all. He that has these, may pass his life, Drink with the squire, and kiss his wife; On Sundays preach, and eat his fill; And fast on Fridays—if he will; Toast Church and Queen, explain the news, Talk with churchwardens about pews, Pray heartily for some new gift, And shake his head at Doctor S——t.
* * * * *
THE TEMPLE OF FAME.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR MDCCXI.
The hint of the following piece was taken from Chaucer's 'House of Fame.' The design is in a manner entirely altered, the descriptions and most of the particular thoughts my own: yet I could not suffer it to be printed without this acknowledgment. The reader who would compare this with Chaucer, may begin with his third book of 'Fame,' there being nothing in the two first books that answers to their title. Wherever any hint is taken from him, the passage itself is set down in the marginal notes.
In that soft season, when descending showers Call forth the greens, and wake the rising flowers; When opening buds salute the welcome day, And earth relenting feels the genial ray; As balmy sleep had charm'd my cares to rest, And love itself was banish'd from my breast, (What time the morn mysterious visions brings, While purer slumbers spread their golden wings), A train of phantoms in wild order rose, And, join'd, this intellectual scene compose. 10
I stood, methought, betwixt earth, seas, and skies; The whole creation open to my eyes: In air self-balanced hung the globe below, Where mountains rise and circling oceans flow; Here naked rocks, and empty wastes were seen, There towery cities, and the forests green: Here sailing ships delight the wandering eyes: There trees, and intermingled temples rise; Now a clear sun the shining scene displays, The transient landscape now in clouds decays. 20
O'er the wide prospect, as I gazed around, Sudden I heard a wild promiscuous sound, Like broken thunders that at distance roar, Or billows murmuring on the hollow shore: Then gazing up, a glorious pile beheld, Whose towering summit ambient clouds conceal'd. High on a rock of ice the structure lay, Steep its ascent, and slippery was the way; The wondrous rock like Parian marble shone, And seem'd, to distant sight, of solid stone. 30 Inscriptions here of various names I view'd, The greater part by hostile time subdued; Yet wide was spread their fame in ages past, And poets once had promised they should last. Some fresh engraved appear'd of wits renown'd; I look'd again, nor could their trace be found. Critics I saw, that other names deface, And fix their own, with labour, in their place: Their own, like others, soon their place resign'd, Or disappear'd, and left the first behind. 40 Nor was the work impair'd by storms alone, But felt the approaches of too warm a sun; For Fame, impatient of extremes, decays Not more by envy than excess of praise. Yet part no injuries of heaven could feel, Like crystal faithful to the graving steel: The rock's high summit, in the temple's shade, Nor heat could melt, nor beating storm invade. Their names inscribed unnumber'd ages past From time's first birth, with time itself shall last; 50 These ever new, nor subject to decays, Spread, and grow brighter with the length of days.
So Zembla's rocks (the beauteous work of frost) Rise white in air, and glitter o'er the coast; Pale suns, unfelt, at distance roll away, And on the impassive ice the lightnings play; Eternal snows the growing mass supply, Till the bright mountains prop the incumbent sky: As Atlas fix'd, each hoary pile appears, The gather'd winter of a thousand years. 60
On this foundation Fame's high temple stands. Stupendous pile! not rear'd by mortal hands. Whate'er proud Rome or artful Greece beheld, Or elder Babylon, its frame excell'd. Four faces had the dome, and every face Of various structure, but of equal grace; Four brazen gates, on columns lifted high, Salute the different quarters of the sky. Here fabled chiefs in darker ages born, Or worthies old, whom arms or arts adorn, 70 Who cities raised, or tamed a monstrous race, The walls in venerable order grace; Heroes in animated marble frown, And legislators seem to think in stone.
Westward, a sumptuous frontispiece appear'd, On Doric pillars of white marble rear'd, Crown'd with an architrave of antique mould, And sculpture rising on the roughen'd gold. In shaggy spoils here Theseus was beheld, And Perseus dreadful with Minerva's shield: 80 There great Alcides stooping with his toil, Rests on his club, and holds th' Hesperian spoil. Here Orpheus sings; trees, moving to the sound, Start from their roots, and form a shade around; Amphion there the loud creating lyre Strikes, and behold a sudden Thebes aspire! Cythaeron's echoes answer to his call, And half the mountain rolls into a wall: There might you see the lengthening spires ascend, The domes swell up, the widening arches bend, 90 The growing towers, like exhalations rise, And the huge columns heave into the skies.
The eastern front was glorious to behold, With diamond flaming, and barbaric gold. There Ninus shone, who spread the Assyrian fame, And the great founder of the Persian name: There in long robes the royal Magi stand, Grave Zoroaster waves the circling wand, The sage Chaldeans robed in white appear'd, And Brachmans, deep in desert woods revered. 100 These stopp'd the moon, and call'd the unbodied shades To midnight banquets in the glimmering glades; Made visionary fabrics round them rise, And airy spectres skim before their eyes; Of talismans and sigils knew the power, And careful watch'd the planetary hour. Superior, and alone, Confucius stood, Who taught that useful science—to be good.
But on the south, a long majestic race Of Egypt's priests the gilded niches grace, 110 Who measured earth, described the starry spheres, And traced the long records of lunar years. High on his car Sesostris struck my view, Whom sceptred slaves in golden harness drew: His hands a bow and pointed javelin hold; His giant limbs are arm'd in scales of gold. Between the statues obelisks were placed, And the learn'd walls with hieroglyphics graced.
Of Gothic structure was the northern side, O'erwrought with ornaments of barbarous pride. 120 There huge Colosses rose, with trophies crown'd, And Runic characters were graved around. There sat Zamolxis with erected eyes, And Odin here in mimic trances dies. There on rude iron columns, smear'd with blood, The horrid forms of Seythian heroes stood, Druids and Bards (their once loud harps unstrung) And youths that died to be by poets sung. These, and a thousand more of doubtful fame, To whom old fables gave a lasting name, 130 In ranks adorn'd the temple's outward face; The wall, in lustre and effect like glass, Which o'er each object casting various dyes, Enlarges some, and others multiplies: Nor void of emblem was the mystic wall, For thus romantic Fame increases all.
The temple shakes, the sounding gates unfold Wide vaults appear, and roofs of fretted gold: Raised on a thousand pillars, wreathed around With laurel foliage, and with eagles crown'd: 140 Of bright, transparent beryl were the walls, The friezes gold, and gold the capitals: As heaven with stars, the roof with jewels glows, And ever-living lamps depend in rows. Full in the passage of each spacious gate, The sage historians in white garments wait; Graved o'er their seats the form of Time was found, His scythe reversed, and both his pinions bound. Within stood heroes, who through loud alarms In bloody fields pursued renown in arms. 150 High on a throne, with trophies charged, I view'd The youth that all things but himself subdued; His feet on sceptres and tiaras trod, And his horn'd head belied the Libyan god. There Caesar, graced with both Minervas, shone; Caesar, the world's great master, and his own; Unmoved, superior still in every state, And scarce detested in his country's fate. But chief were those, who not for empire fought, But with their toils their people's safety bought: 160 High o'er the rest Epaminondas stood; Timoleon, glorious in his brother's blood; Bold Scipio, saviour of the Roman state; Great in his triumphs, in retirement great; And wise Aurelius, in whose well-taught mind, With boundless power unbounded virtue join'd, His own strict judge, and patron of mankind.
Much-suffering heroes next their honours claim, Those of less noisy, and less guilty fame, Fair Virtue's silent train: supreme of these 170 Here ever shines the godlike Socrates: He whom ungrateful Athens could expel, At all times just, but when he sign'd the shell: Here his abode the martyr'd Phocion claims, With Agis, not the last of Spartan names: Unconquer'd Cato shows the wound he tore, And Brutus his ill Genius meets no more.
But in the centre of the hallow'd choir, Six pompous columns o'er the rest aspire; Around the shrine itself of Fame they stand, 180 Hold the chief honours, and the fane command. High on the first, the mighty Homer shone; Eternal adamant composed his throne; Father of verse! in holy fillets dress'd, His silver beard waved gently o'er his breast; Though blind, a boldness in his looks appears; In years he seem'd, but not impair'd by years. The wars of Troy were round the pillar seen: Here fierce Tydides wounds the Cyprian Queen; Here Hector, glorious from Patroclus' fall, 190 Here dragg'd in triumph round the Trojan wall: Motion and life did every part inspire, Bold was the work, and proved the master's fire; A strong expression most he seem'd to affect, And here and there disclosed a brave neglect.
A golden column next in rank appear'd, On which a shrine of purest gold was rear'd; Finish'd the whole, and labour'd every part, With patient touches of unwearied art: The Mantuan there in sober triumph sate, 200 Composed his posture, and his look sedate; On Homer still he fix'd a reverend eye, Great without pride, in modest majesty. In living sculpture on the sides were spread The Latian wars, and haughty Turnus dead; Eliza stretch'd upon the funeral pyre, AEneas bending with his aged sire: Troy flamed in burning gold, and o'er the throne, ARMS AND THE MAN in golden cyphers shone.
Four swans sustain a car of silver bright, 210 With heads advanced, and pinions stretch'd for flight: Here, like some furious prophet, Pindar rode, And seem'd to labour with the inspiring god. Across the harp a careless hand he flings, And boldly sinks into the sounding strings. The figured games of Greece the column grace, Neptune and Jove survey the rapid race. The youths hang o'er their chariots as they run; The fiery steeds seem starting from the stone; The champions in distorted postures threat; 220 And all appear'd irregularly great.
Here happy Horace tuned the Ausonian lyre To sweeter sounds, and temper'd Pindar's fire: Pleased with Alcaeus' manly rage t' infuse The softer spirit of the Sapphic Muse. The polish'd pillar different sculptures grace; A work outlasting monumental brass. Here smiling Loves and Bacchanals appear, The Julian star, and great Augustus here; The doves that round the infant poet spread 230 Myrtles and bays, hung hovering o'er his head.
Here in a shrine that cast a dazzling light, Sat, fix'd in thought, the mighty Stagyrite; His sacred head a radiant zodiac crown'd, And various animals his side surround; His piercing eyes, erect, appear to view Superior worlds, and look all Nature through.
With equal rays immortal Tully shone, The Roman rostra deck'd the Consul's throne: Gathering his flowing robe, he seem'd to stand 240 In act to speak, and graceful stretch'd his hand. Behind, Rome's Genius waits with civic crowns, And the great Father of his country owns.
These massy columns in a circle rise, O'er which a pompous dome invades the skies: Scarce to the top I stretch'd my aching sight, So large it spread, and swell'd to such a height. Full in the midst, proud Fame's imperial seat With jewels blazed, magnificently great; The vivid emeralds there revive the eye, 250 The flaming rubies show their sanguine dye, Bright azure rays from lively sapphires stream, And lucid amber casts a golden gleam. With various-colour'd light the pavement shone, And all on fire appear'd the glowing throne; The dome's high arch reflects the mingled blaze, And forms a rainbow of alternate rays. When on the goddess first I cast my sight, Scarce seem'd her stature of a cubit's height; But swell'd to larger size, the more I gazed, 260 Till to the roof her towering front she raised. With her, the temple every moment grew, And ampler vistas open'd to my view: Upward the columns shoot, the roofs ascend, And arches widen, and long aisles extend. Such was her form as ancient bards have told, Wings raise her arms, and wings her feet infold; A thousand busy tongues the goddess bears, A thousand open eyes, and thousand listening ears. Beneath, in order ranged, the tuneful Nine 270 (Her virgin handmaids) still attend the shrine: With eyes on Fame for ever fix'd, they sing; For Fame they raise the voice, and tune the string; With Time's first birth began the heavenly lays, And last, eternal, through the length of days.
Around these wonders as I cast a look, The trumpet sounded, and the temple shook, And all the nations, summon'd at the call, From different quarters fill the crowded hall: Of various tongues the mingled sounds were heard 280 In various garbs promiscuous throngs appear'd; Thick as the bees, that with the spring renew Their flowery toils, and sip the fragrant dew, When the wing'd colonies first tempt the sky, O'er dusky fields and shaded waters fly, Or settling, seize the sweets the blossoms yield, And a low murmur runs along the field. Millions of suppliant crowds the shrine attend, And all degrees before the goddess bend; The poor, the rich, the valiant, and the sage, 290 And boasting youth, and narrative old age. Their pleas were different, their request the same: For good and bad alike are fond of Fame. Some she disgraced, and some with honours crown'd; Unlike successes equal merits found. Thus her blind sister, fickle Fortune, reigns, And, undiscerning, scatters crowns and chains.
First at the shrine the learned world appear, And to the goddess thus prefer their prayer: 'Long have we sought to instruct and please mankind, 300 With studies pale, with midnight vigils blind; But thank'd by few, rewarded yet by none, We here appeal to thy superior throne; On wit and learning the just prize bestow, For fame is all we must expect below.'
The goddess heard, and bade the Muses raise The golden trumpet of eternal praise: From pole to pole the winds diffuse the sound, That fills the circuit of the world around; Not all at once, as thunder breaks the cloud; 310 The notes at first were rather sweet than loud: By just degrees they every moment rise, Fill the wide earth, and gain upon the skies. At every breath were balmy odours shed, Which still grew sweeter as they wider spread; Less fragrant scents the unfolding rose exhales, Or spices breathing in Arabian gales.
Next these, the good and just, an awful train, Thus on their knees address the sacred fane: 'Since living virtue is with envy cursed, 320 And the best men are treated like the worst, Do thou, just goddess, call our merits forth, And give each deed the exact intrinsic worth.'
'Not with bare justice shall your act be crown'd,' (Said Fame), 'but high above desert renown'd: Let fuller notes the applauding world amaze, And the loud clarion labour in your praise.'
This band dismiss'd, behold, another crowd Preferr'd the same request, and lowly bow'd; The constant tenor of whose well-spent days 330 No less deserved a just return of praise. But straight the direful trump of Slander sounds; Through the big dome the doubling thunder bounds; Loud as the burst of cannon rends the skies, The dire report through every region flies, In every ear incessant rumours rung, And gathering scandals grew on every tongue. From the black trumpet's rusty concave broke Sulphureous flames, and clouds of rolling smoke: The poisonous vapour blots the purple skies, 340 And withers all before it as it flies.
A troop came next, who crowns and armour wore, And proud defiance in their looks they bore: 'For thee' (they cried), 'amidst alarms and strife, We sail'd in tempests down the stream of life; For thee whole nations fill'd with flames and blood, And swam to empire through the purple flood. Those ills we dared, thy inspiration own, What virtue seem'd, was done for thee alone.'
'Ambitious fools!' (the Queen replied, and frown'd) 350 'Be all your acts in dark oblivion drown'd; There sleep forgot, with mighty tyrants gone, Your statues moulder'd, and your names unknown!' A sudden cloud straight snatch'd them from my sight, And each majestic phantom sunk in night.
Then came the smallest tribe I yet had seen; Plain was their dress, and modest was their mien. 'Great idol of mankind! we neither claim The praise of merit, nor aspire to fame; But safe in deserts from the applause of men, 360 Would die unheard of, as we lived unseen; 'Tis all we beg thee, to conceal from sight Those acts of goodness which themselves requite. Oh let us still the secret joy partake, To follow virtue even for virtue's sake.'
'And live there men, who slight immortal Fame? Who then with incense shall adore our name? But, mortals! know, 'tis still our greatest pride To blaze those virtues which the good would hide. Rise, Muses, rise! add all your tuneful breath; 370 These must not sleep in darkness and in death.' She said: in air the trembling music floats, And on the winds triumphant swell the notes; So soft, though high, so loud, and yet so clear, Even listening angels lean'd from heaven to hear: To furthest shores the ambrosial spirit flies, Sweet to the world, and grateful to the skies.
Next these a youthful train their vows express'd, With feathers crown'd, with gay embroidery dress'd: 'Hither' (they cried) 'direct your eyes, and see 380 The men of pleasure, dress, and gallantry; Ours is the place at banquets, balls, and plays, Sprightly our nights, polite are all our days; Courts we frequent, where 'tis our pleasing care To pay due visits, and address the fair: In fact, 'tis true, no nymph we could persuade, But still in fancy vanquish'd every maid; Of unknown duchesses lewd tales we tell, Yet, would the world believe us, all were well. The joy let others have, and we the name, 390 And what we want in pleasure, grant in fame.'
The Queen assents, the trumpet rends the skies, And at each blast a lady's honour dies.
Pleased with the strange success, vast numbers press'd Around the shrine, and made the same request: 'What! you,' (she cried) 'unlearn'd in arts to please, Slaves to yourselves, and even fatigued with ease, Who lose a length of undeserving days, Would you usurp the lover's dear-bought praise? To just contempt, ye vain pretenders, fall, 400 The people's fable and the scorn of all.' Straight the black clarion sends a horrid sound, Loud laughs burst out, and bitter scoffs fly round, Whispers are heard, with taunts reviling loud, And scornful hisses run through all the crowd.
Last, those who boast of mighty mischiefs done, Enslave their country, or usurp a throne; Or who their glory's dire foundation laid On sovereigns ruin'd, or on friends betray'd; Calm, thinking villains, whom no faith could fix, 410 Of crooked counsels, and dark politics; Of these a gloomy tribe surround the throne, And beg to make the immortal treasons known. The trumpet roars, long flaky flames expire, With sparks, that seem'd to set the world on fire. At the dread sound, pale mortals stood aghast, And startled Nature trembled with the blast.
This having heard and seen, some Power unknown Straight changed the scene, and snatch'd me from the throne. Before my view appear'd a structure fair, 420 Its site uncertain, if in earth or air; With rapid motion turn'd the mansion round; With ceaseless noise the ringing walls resound; Not less in number were the spacious doors, Than leaves on trees, or sands upon the shores; Which still unfolded stand, by night, by day, Pervious to winds, and open every way. As flames by nature to the skies ascend, As weighty bodies to the centre tend, As to the sea returning rivers roll, 430 And the touch'd needle trembles to the pole; Hither, as to their proper place, arise All various sounds from earth, and seas, and skies, Or spoke aloud, or whisper'd in the ear; Nor ever silence, rest, or peace is here. As on the smooth expanse of crystal lakes The sinking stone at first a circle makes; The trembling surface by the motion stirr'd, Spreads in a second circle, then a third; Wide, and more wide, the floating rings advance, 440 Fill all the watery plain, and to the margin dance: Thus every voice and sound, when first they break, On neighbouring air a soft impression make; Another ambient circle then they move; That, in its turn, impels the next above; Through undulating air the sounds are sent, And spread o'er all the fluid element.
There various news I heard of love and strife, Of peace and war, health, sickness, death, and life, Of loss and gain, of famine and of store, 450 Of storms at sea, and travels on the shore, Of prodigies, and portents seen in air, Of fires and plagues, and stars with blazing hair, Of turns of fortune, changes in the state, The falls of favourites, projects of the great, Of old mismanagements, taxations new: All neither wholly false, nor wholly true.
Above, below, without, within, around, Confused, unnumber'd multitudes are found, Who pass, repass, advance, and glide away; 460 Hosts raised by fear, and phantoms of a day: Astrologers, that future fates foreshow; Projectors, quacks, and lawyers not a few; And priests, and party-zealots, numerous bands With home-born lies, or tales from foreign lands; Each talk'd aloud, or in some secret place, And wild impatience stared in every face. The flying rumours gather'd as they roll'd, Scarce any tale was sooner heard than told; And all who told it added something new, 470 And all who heard it made enlargements too, In every ear it spread, on every tongue it grew. Thus flying east and west, and north and south, News travell'd with increase from mouth to mouth. So from a spark, that kindled first by chance, With gathering force the quickening flames advance; Till to the clouds their curling heads aspire, And towers and temples sink in floods of fire. When thus ripe lies are to perfection sprung, Full grown, and fit to grace a mortal tongue, 480 Through thousand vents, impatient, forth they flow, And rush in millions on the world below. Fame sits aloft, and points them out their course, Their date determines, and prescribes their force: Some to remain, and some to perish soon; Or wane and wax alternate like the moon. Around, a thousand winged wonders fly, Born by the trumpet's blast, and scatter'd through the sky.
There, at one passage, oft you might survey A lie and truth contending for the way; 490 And long 'twas doubtful, both so closely pent, Which first should issue through the narrow vent: At last agreed, together out they fly, Inseparable now, the truth and lie; The strict companions are for ever join'd, And this or that unmix'd, no mortal e'er shall find.
While thus I stood, intent to see and hear, One came, methought, and whisper'd in my ear: 'What could thus high thy rash ambition raise? Art thou, fond youth, a candidate for praise?' 500
''Tis true,' said I, 'not void of hopes I came, For who so fond as youthful bards of fame? But few, alas! the casual blessing boast, So hard to gain, so easy to be lost. How vain that second life in others' breath, The estate which wits inherit after death! Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign, (Unsure the tenure, but how vast the fine!) The great man's curse, without the gains, endure, Be envied, wretched, and be flatter'd, poor; 510 All luckless wits their enemies profess'd, And all successful, jealous friends at best. Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favours call; She comes unlook'd for, if she comes at all. But if the purchase costs so dear a price, As soothing folly, or exalting vice; Oh! if the Muse must flatter lawless sway, And follow still where fortune leads the way; Or if no basis bear my rising name, But the fallen ruins of another's fame; 520 Then teach me, Heaven! to scorn the guilty bays, Drive from my breast that wretched lust of praise, Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown; Oh, grant an honest fame, or grant me none!'
* * * * *
ELOISA TO ABELARD.
Abelard and Eloisa flourished in the twelfth century; they were two of the most distinguished persons of their age in learning and beauty, but for nothing more famous than for their unfortunate passion. After a long course of calamities, they retired each to a several convent, and consecrated the remainder of their days to religion. It was many years after this separation that a letter of Abelard's to a friend, which contained the history of his misfortune, fell into the hands of Eloisa. This, awakening all her tenderness, occasioned those celebrated letters (out of which the following is partly extracted) which give so lively a picture of the struggles of grace and nature, virtue and passion.
In these deep solitudes and awful cells, Where heavenly-pensive Contemplation dwells, And ever-musing Melancholy reigns, What means this tumult in a vestal's veins? Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat? Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat? Yet, yet I love!—From Abelard it came, And Eloisa yet must kiss the name.
Dear fatal name! rest ever unreveal'd, Nor pass these lips in holy silence seal'd: 10 Hide it, my heart, within that close disguise Where, mix'd with God's, his loved idea lies: Oh write it not, my hand!—the name appears Already written—wash it out, my tears! In vain lost Eloisa weeps and prays, Her heart still dictates, and her hand obeys.
Relentless walls! whose darksome round contains Repentant sighs, and voluntary pains: Ye rugged rocks! which holy knees have worn; Ye grots and caverns, shagg'd with horrid thorn! 20 Shrines! where their vigils pale-eyed virgins keep, And pitying saints, whose statues learn to weep! Though cold like you, unmoved and silent grown, I have not yet forgot myself to stone. All is not Heaven's while Abelard has part, Still rebel nature holds out half my heart; Nor prayers nor fasts its stubborn pulse restrain, Nor tears for ages taught to flow in vain.
Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose, That well-known name awakens all my woes. 30 Oh, name for ever sad! for ever dear! Still breathed in sighs, still usher'd with a tear. I tremble too, where'er my own I find, Some dire misfortune follows close behind. Line after line my gushing eyes o'erflow, Led through a sad variety of woe; Now warm in love, now withering in my bloom, Lost in a convent's solitary gloom! There stern religion quench'd the unwilling flame, There died the best of passions, Love and Fame. 40
Yet write, oh! write me all, that I may join Griefs to thy griefs, and echo sighs to thine. Nor foes nor fortune take this power away; And is my Abelard less kind than they? Tears still are mine, and those I need not spare, Love but demands what else were shed in prayer; No happier task these faded eyes pursue; To read and weep is all they now can do.
Then share thy pain, allow that sad relief; Ah, more than share it, give me all thy grief! 50 Heaven first taught letters for some wretch's aid, Some banish'd lover, or some captive maid; They live, they speak, they breathe what love inspires, Warm from the soul, and faithful to its fires; The virgin's wish without her fears impart, Excuse the blush, and pour out all the heart, Speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul, And waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole.
Thou know'st how guiltless first I met thy flame, When Love approach'd me under Friendship's name; 60 My fancy form'd thee of angelic kind, Some emanation of the all-beauteous Mind. Those smiling eyes, attempering every ray, Shone sweetly lambent with celestial day. Guiltless I gazed; Heaven listen'd while you sung; And truths divine came mended from that tongue. From lips like those, what precept fail'd to move? Too soon they taught me 'twas no sin to love: Back through the paths of pleasing sense I ran, Nor wish'd an angel whom I loved a man. 70 Dim and remote the joys of saints I see; Nor envy them that heaven I lose for thee.
How oft, when press'd to marriage, have I said, Curse on all laws but those which Love has made! Love, free as air, at sight of human ties, Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies. Let wealth, let honour, wait the wedded dame, August her deed, and sacred be her fame; 80 Before true passion all those views remove; Fame, wealth, and honour! what are you to Love? The jealous god, when we profane his fires, Those restless passions in revenge inspires, And bids them make mistaken mortals groan, Who seek in love for aught but love alone. Should at my feet the world's great master fall, Himself, his throne, his world, I'd scorn them all: Not Caesar's empress would I deign to prove; No, make me mistress to the man I love; If there be yet another name more free, More fond than mistress, make me that to thee! 90 Oh, happy state! when souls each other draw, When love is liberty, and nature law: All then is full, possessing and possess'd, No craving void left aching in the breast: Even thought meets thought, ere from the lips it part, And each warm wish springs mutual from the heart. This, sure, is bliss (if bliss on earth there be) And once the lot of Abelard and me.
Alas, how changed! what sudden horrors rise! A naked lover bound and bleeding lies! 100 Where, where was Eloise? her voice, her hand, Her poniard, had opposed the dire command. Barbarian, stay! that bloody stroke restrain; The crime was common, common be the pain. I can no more; by shame, by rage suppress'd, Let tears and burning blushes speak the rest.
Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day, When victims at yon altar's foot we lay? Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell, When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell? 110 As with cold lips I kiss'd the sacred veil, The shrines all trembled, and the lamps grew pale: Heaven scarce believed the conquest it survey'd, And saints with wonder heard the vows I made. Yet then, to those dread altars as I drew, Not on the cross my eyes were fix'd, but you: Not grace, or zeal, love only was my call, And if I lose thy love, I lose my all. Come! with thy looks, thy words, relieve my woe; Those still at least are left thee to bestow. 120 Still on that breast enamour'd let me lie, Still drink delicious poison from thy eye, Pant on thy lip, and to thy heart be press'd; Give all thou canst—and let me dream the rest. Ah, no! instruct me other joys to prize, With other beauties charm my partial eyes, Full in my view set all the bright abode, And make my soul quit Abelard for God.
Ah, think at least thy flock deserves thy care, Plants of thy hand, and children of thy prayer. 130 From the false world in early youth they fled, By thee to mountains, wilds, and deserts led. You raised these hallow'd walls; the desert smiled, And Paradise was open'd in the wild. No weeping orphan saw his father's stores Our shrines irradiate, or emblaze the floors; No silver saints, by dying misers given, Here bribed the rage of ill-requited Heaven: But such plain roofs as Piety could raise, And only vocal with the Maker's praise. 140 In these lone walls, (their day's eternal bound) These moss-grown domes with spiry turrets crown'd, Where awful arches make a noonday night, And the dim windows shed a solemn light; Thy eyes diffused a reconciling ray, And gleams of glory brighten'd all the day. But now no face divine contentment wears, 'Tis all blank sadness, or continual tears. See how the force of others' prayers I try, (Oh pious fraud of amorous charity!) 150 But why should I on others' prayers depend? Come thou, my father, brother, husband, friend! Ah, let thy handmaid, sister, daughter move, And all those tender names in one—thy love! The darksome pines that, o'er yon rocks reclined, Wave high, and murmur to the hollow wind, The wandering streams that shine between the hills, The grots that echo to the tinkling rills, The dying gales that pant upon the trees, The lakes that quiver to the curling breeze; 160 No more these scenes my meditation aid, Or lull to rest the visionary maid. But o'er the twilight groves and dusky caves, Long-sounding aisles, and intermingled graves, Black Melancholy sits, and round her throws A death-like silence, and a dread repose: Her gloomy presence saddens all the scene, Shades every flower, and darkens every green, Deepens the murmur of the falling floods, And breathes a browner horror on the woods. 170
Yet here for ever, ever must I stay; Sad proof how well a lover can obey! Death, only death, can break the lasting chain; And here, even then, shall my cold dust remain; Here all its frailties, all its flames resign, And wait till 'tis no sin to mix with thine.
Ah, wretch! believed the spouse of God in vain, Confess'd within the slave of love and man. Assist me, Heaven! but whence arose that prayer? Sprung it from piety, or from despair? 180 Even here, where frozen chastity retires, Love finds an altar for forbidden fires. I ought to grieve, but cannot what I ought; I mourn the lover, not lament the fault; I view my crime, but kindle at the view, Repent old pleasures, and solicit new; Now turn'd to Heaven, I weep my past offence, Now think of thee, and curse my innocence. Of all affliction taught a lover yet, 'Tis sure the hardest science to forget! 190 How shall I lose the sin, yet keep the sense, And love the offender, yet detest the offence? How the dear object from the crime remove, Or how distinguish penitence from love? Unequal task! a passion to resign, For hearts so touch'd, so pierced, so lost as mine. Ere such a soul regains its peaceful state, How often must it love, how often hate! How often hope, despair, resent, regret, Conceal, disdain,—do all things but forget! 200 But let Heaven seize it, all at once 'tis fired; Not touch'd, but rapt; not waken'd, but inspired! Oh come! oh teach me nature to subdue, Renounce my love, my life, myself—and you. Fill my fond heart with God alone, for He Alone can rival, can succeed to thee.
How happy is the blameless Vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot: Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each prayer accepted, and each wish resign'd; 210 Labour and rest, that equal periods keep; 'Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep;' Desires composed, affections ever even; Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to heaven. Grace shines around her with serenest beams, And whispering angels prompt her golden dreams. For her the unfading rose of Eden blooms, And wings of seraphs shed divine perfumes; For her the spouse prepares the bridal ring, For her white virgins hymeneals sing, 220 To sounds of heavenly harps she dies away, And melts in visions of eternal day.
Far other dreams my erring soul employ, Far other raptures, of unholy joy: When at the close of each sad, sorrowing day, Fancy restores what vengeance snatch'd away, Then conscience sleeps, and leaving nature free, All my loose soul unbounded springs to thee. O curst, dear horrors of all-conscious night! How glowing guilt exalts the keen delight! 230 Provoking demons all restraint remove, And stir within me every source of love. I hear thee, view thee, gaze o'er all thy charms, And round thy phantom glue my clasping arms. I wake:—no more I hear, no more I view, The phantom flies me, as unkind as you. I call aloud; it hears not what I say: I stretch my empty arms; it glides away. To dream once more I close my willing eyes; Ye soft illusions, dear deceits, arise! 240 Alas, no more! methinks we wandering go Through dreary wastes, and weep each other's woe, Where round some mouldering tower pale ivy creeps, And low-brow'd rocks hang nodding o'er the deeps. Sudden you mount, you beckon from the skies; Clouds interpose, waves roar, and winds arise. I shriek, start up, the same sad prospect find, And wake to all the griefs I left behind.
For thee the Fates, severely kind, ordain A cool suspense from pleasure and from pain; 250 Thy life a long dead calm of fix'd repose; No pulse that riots, and no blood that glows. Still as the sea, ere winds were taught to blow, Or moving spirit bade the waters flow; Soft as the slumbers of a saint forgiven, And mild as opening gleams of promised heaven.
Come, Abelard! for what hast thou to dread? The torch of Venus burns not for the dead. Nature stands check'd; Religion disapproves; Even thou art cold—yet Eloisa loves. 260 Ah hopeless, lasting flames! like those that burn To light the dead, and warm the unfruitful urn.
What scenes appear where'er I turn my view? The dear ideas, where I fly, pursue, Rise in the grove, before the altar rise, Stain all my soul, and wanton in my eyes. I waste the matin lamp in sighs for thee, Thy image steals between my God and me, Thy voice I seem in every hymn to hear, With every bead I drop too soft a tear. 270 When from the censer clouds of fragrance roll, And swelling organs lift the rising soul, One thought of thee puts all the pomp to flight, Priests, tapers, temples, swim before my sight: In seas of flame my plunging soul is drown'd, While altars blaze, and angels tremble round.
While prostrate here in humble grief I lie, Kind, virtuous drops just gathering in my eye, While praying, trembling, in the dust I roll, And dawning grace is opening on my soul: 280 Come, if thou dar'st, all charming as thou art! Oppose thyself to heaven; dispute my heart; Come, with one glance of those deluding eyes Blot out each bright idea of the skies; Take back that grace, those sorrows, and those tears; Take back my fruitless penitence and prayers; Snatch me, just mounting, from the blest abode; Assist the fiends, and tear me from my God!
No, fly me, fly me, far as pole from pole; Rise Alps between us! and whole oceans roll! 290 Ah, come not, write not, think not once of me, Nor share one pang of all I felt for thee! Thy oaths I quit, thy memory resign; Forget, renounce me, hate whate'er was mine. Fair eyes, and tempting looks (which yet I view) Long loved, adored ideas, all adieu! O Grace serene! O Virtue heavenly fair! Divine oblivion of low-thoughted care! Fresh blooming Hope, gay daughter of the sky! 300 And Faith, our early immortality! Enter, each mild, each amicable guest; Receive, and wrap me in eternal rest!
See in her cell sad Eloisa spread, Propp'd on some tomb, a neighbour of the dead. In each low wind methinks a spirit calls, And more than echoes talk along the walls. Here, as I watch'd the dying lamps around, From yonder shrine I heard a hollow sound. 'Come, sister, come!' (it said, or seem'd to say) 'Thy place is here, sad sister, come away! 310 Once like thyself, I trembled, wept, and pray'd, Love's victim then, though now a sainted maid: But all is calm in this eternal sleep; Here Grief forgets to groan, and Love to weep, Even Superstition loses every fear: For God, not man, absolves our frailties here.'
I come, I come! prepare your roseate bowers, Celestial palms, and ever-blooming flowers. Thither, where sinners may have rest, I go, Where flames refined in breasts seraphic glow: 320 Thou, Abelard! the last sad office pay, And smooth my passage to the realms of day; See my lips tremble, and my eyeballs roll, Suck my last breath, and catch my flying soul! Ah, no!—in sacred vestments may'st thou stand, The hallow'd taper trembling in thy hand, Present the cross before my lifted eye, Teach me at once, and learn of me to die. Ah, then thy once-loved Eloisa see! It will be then no crime to gaze on me. 330 See from my cheek the transient roses fly! See the last sparkle languish in my eye! Till every motion, pulse, and breath be o'er; And even my Abelard be loved no more. O Death all-eloquent! you only prove What dust we doat on when 'tis man we love.
Then too, when fate shall thy fair frame destroy, (That cause of all my guilt, and all my joy!) In trance ecstatic may thy pangs be drown'd, Bright clouds descend, and angels watch thee round, 340 From opening skies may streaming glories shine, And saints embrace thee with a love like mine.
May one kind grave unite each hapless name, And graft my love immortal on thy fame! Then, ages hence, when all my woes are o'er, When this rebellious heart shall beat no more; If ever chance two wandering lovers brings To Paraclete's white walls and silver springs, O'er the pale marble shall they join their heads, And drink the falling tears each other sheds; 350 Then sadly say,—with mutual pity moved, 'Oh, may we never love as these have loved!' From the full choir when loud hosannas rise, And swell the pomp of dreadful sacrifice, Amid that scene, if some relenting eye Glance on the stone where our cold relics lie, Devotion's self shall steal a thought from heaven, One human tear shall drop, and be forgiven. And sure, if Fate some future bard shall join In sad similitude of griefs to mine, 360 Condemn'd whole years in absence to deplore, And image charms he must behold no more; Such if there be, who love so long, so well, Let him our sad, our tender story tell; The well-sung woes will soothe my pensive ghost; He best can paint them who shall feel them most.
* * * * *
EPISTLE TO ROBERT EARL OF OXFORD AND EARL MORTIMER.
Such were the notes thy once-loved Poet sung, Till Death untimely stopp'd his tuneful tongue. Oh just beheld and lost! admired and mourn'd! With softest manners, gentlest arts adorn'd! Blest in each science, blest in every strain! Dear to the Muse! to Harley dear—in vain!
For him, thou oft hast bid the world attend, Fond to forget the statesman in the friend; For Swift and him, despised the farce of state, The sober follies of the wise and great; 10 Dext'rous, the craving, fawning crowd to quit, And pleased to 'scape from Flattery to Wit.
Absent or dead, still let a friend be dear, (A sigh the absent claims, the dead a tear,) Recall those nights that closed thy toilsome days, Still hear thy Parnell in his living lays, Who, careless now of interest, fame, or fate, Perhaps forgets that Oxford e'er was great; Or deeming meanest what we greatest call, Behold thee glorious only in thy fall. 20
And sure, if aught below the seats divine Can touch immortals, 'tis a soul like thine: A soul supreme, in each hard instance tried, Above all pain, all passion, and all pride, The rage of power, the blast of public breath, The lust of lucre, and the dread of death.
In vain to deserts thy retreat is made; The Muse attends thee to thy silent shade: 'Tis hers the brave man's latest steps to trace, Rejudge his acts, and dignify disgrace. 30 When interest calls off all her sneaking train, And all the obliged desert, and all the vain, She waits, or to the scaffold, or the cell, When the last lingering friend has bid farewell. Even now she shades thy evening-walk with bays, (No hireling she, no prostitute to praise), Even now, observant of the parting ray, Eyes the calm sunset of thy various day; Through Fortune's cloud one truly great can see, Nor fears to tell that Mortimer is he. 40
* * * * *
EPISTLE TO JAMES CRAGGS, ESQ.,
SECRETARY OF STATE.
A soul as full of worth, as void of pride, Which nothing seeks to show, or needs to hide, Which nor to guilt nor fear its caution owes, And boasts a warmth that from no passion flows. A face untaught to feign; a judging eye, That darts severe upon a rising lie, And strikes a blush through frontless flattery. All this thou wert; and being this before, Know, kings and fortune cannot make thee more. Then scorn to gain a friend by servile ways, Nor wish to lose a foe these virtues raise; But candid, free, sincere, as you began, Proceed—a minister, but still a man. Be not (exalted to whate'er degree) Ashamed of any friend, not even of me: The patriot's plain, but untrod path pursue; If not, 'tis I must be ashamed of you.
* * * * *
EPISTLE TO MR JERVAS,
WITH MR DRYDEN'S TRANSLATION OF FRESNOY'S 'ART OF PAINTING.'
This verse be thine, my friend, nor thou refuse This from no venal or ungrateful Muse. Whether thy hand strike out some free design, Where life awakes, and dawns at every line; Or blend in beauteous tints the colour'd mass, And from the canvas call the mimic face: Read these instructive leaves, in which conspire Fresnoy's close art, and Dryden's native fire: And, reading, wish like theirs our fate and fame, So mix'd our studies, and so join'd our name; 10 Like them to shine through long succeeding age, So just thy skill, so regular my rage.
Smit with the love of sister-arts we came, And met congenial, mingling flame with flame; Like friendly colours found them both unite, And each from each contract new strength and light. How oft in pleasing tasks we wear the day, While summer suns roll unperceived away! How oft our slowly-growing works impart, While images reflect from art to art! 20 How oft review; each finding, like a friend, Something to blame, and something to commend!
What flattering scenes our wandering fancy wrought, Rome's pompous glories rising to our thought! Together o'er the Alps methinks we fly, Fired with ideas of fair Italy. With thee on Raphael's monument I mourn. Or wait inspiring dreams at Maro's urn: With thee repose where Tully once was laid, Or seek some ruin's formidable shade: 30 While fancy brings the vanish'd piles to view. And builds imaginary Rome anew. Here thy well-studied marbles fix our eye; A fading fresco here demands a sigh: Each heavenly piece unwearied we compare, Match Raphael's grace with thy loved Guide's air, Carracci's strength, Correggio's softer line, Paulo's free stroke, and Titian's warmth divine.
How finish'd with illustrious toil appears This small, well-polish'd gem, the work of years! 40 Yet still how faint by precept is express'd The living image in the painter's breast! Thence endless streams of fair ideas flow, Strike in the sketch, or in the picture glow; Thence Beauty, waking all her forms, supplies An angel's sweetness, or Bridgewater's eyes.
Muse! at that name thy sacred sorrows shed, Those tears eternal, that embalm the dead; Call round her tomb each object of desire, Each purer frame inform'd with purer fire: 50 Bid her be all that cheers or softens life, The tender sister, daughter, friend, and wife: Bid her be all that makes mankind adore; Then view this marble, and be vain no more!
Yet still her charms in breathing paint engage; Her modest cheek shall warm a future age. Beauty, frail flower that every season fears, Blooms in thy colours for a thousand years. Thus Churchill's race shall other hearts surprise, And other beauties envy Worsley's eyes; 60 Each pleasing Blount shall endless smiles bestow, And soft Belinda's blush for ever glow.
Oh, lasting as those colours may they shine, Free as thy stroke, yet faultless as thy line; New graces yearly like thy works display, Soft without weakness, without glaring gay; Led by some rule, that guides, but not constrains; And finish'd more through happiness than pains. The kindred arts shall in their praise conspire, One dip the pencil, and one string the lyre. 70 Yet should the Graces all thy figures place, And breathe an air divine on every face; Yet should the Muses bid my numbers roll Strong as their charms, and gentle as their soul; With Zeuxis' Helen thy Bridgewater vie, And these be sung till Granville's Myra die: Alas! how little from the grave we claim! Thou but preserv'st a face, and I a name.
* * * * *
EPISTLE TO MISS BLOUNT,
WITH THE WORKS OF VOITURE.
In these gay thoughts the Loves and Graces shine, And all the writer lives in every line; His easy art may happy nature seem, Trifles themselves are elegant in him. Sure, to charm all was his peculiar fate, Who without flattery pleased the fair and great; Still with esteem no less conversed than read; With wit well-natured, and with books well-bred: His heart, his mistress, and his friend did share, His time, the Muse, the witty, and the fair. 10 Thus wisely careless, innocently gay, Cheerful he play'd the trifle, Life, away; Till Fate scarce felt his gentle breath suppress'd, As smiling infants sport themselves to rest. Even rival wits did Voiture's death deplore, And the gay mourn'd who never mourn'd before; The truest hearts for Voiture heaved with sighs, Voiture was wept by all the brightest eyes: The Smiles and Loves had died in Voiture's death, But that for ever in his lines they breathe. 20
Let the strict life of graver mortals be A long, exact, and serious comedy; In every scene some moral let it teach, And if it can, at once both please and preach. Let mine an innocent gay farce appear, And more diverting still than regular, Have humour, wit, a native ease and grace, Though not too strictly bound to time and place: Critics in wit, or life, are hard to please, Few write to those, and none can live to these. 30
Too much your sex is by their forms confined, Severe to all, but most to womankind; Custom, grown blind with age, must be your guide; Your pleasure is a vice, but not your pride; By nature yielding, stubborn but for fame; Made slaves by honour, and made fools by shame. Marriage may all those petty tyrants chase, But sets up one, a greater, in their place; Well might you wish for change, by those accursed, But the last tyrant ever proves the worst. 40 Still in constraint your suffering sex remains, Or bound in formal, or in real chains: Whole years neglected, for some months adored, The fawning servant turns a haughty lord. Ah, quit not the free innocence of life, For the dull glory of a virtuous wife; Nor let false shows, or empty titles please: Aim not at joy, but rest content with ease!
The gods, to curse Pamela with her prayers, Gave the gilt coach and dappled Flanders mares, 50 The shining robes, rich jewels, beds of state, And, to complete her bliss, a fool for mate. She glares in balls, front boxes, and the Ring, A vain, unquiet, glittering, wretched thing! Pride, pomp, and state but reach her outward part: She sighs, and is no duchess at her heart.
But, madam, if the Fates withstand, and you Are destined Hymen's willing victim too: Trust not too much your now resistless charms, Those, age or sickness, soon or late, disarms: 60 Good-humour only teaches charms to last, Still makes new conquests, and maintains the past; Love, raised on beauty, will like that decay, Our hearts may bear its slender chain a day; As flowery bands in wantonness are worn, A morning's pleasure, and at evening torn; This binds in ties more easy, yet more strong, The willing heart, and only holds it long.
Thus Voiture's early care still shone the same, And Monthansier was only changed in name: 70 By this, even now they live, even now they charm, Their wit still sparkling, and their flames still warm.
Now crown'd with myrtle, on the Elysian coast, Amid those lovers, joys his gentle ghost: Pleased, while with smiles his happy lines you view, And finds a fairer Rambouillet in you. The brightest eyes of France inspired his Muse; The brightest eyes of Britain now peruse; And dead, as living, 'tis our author's pride Still to charm those who charm the world beside.
* * * * *
EPISTLE TO MRS TERESA BLOUNT.
ON HER LEAVING THE TOWN AFTER THE CORONATION.
As some fond virgin, whom her mother's care Drags from the town to wholesome country air, Just when she learns to roll a melting eye, And hear a spark, yet think no danger nigh; From the dear man unwilling she must sever, Yet takes one kiss before she parts for ever: Thus from the world fair Zephalinda flew, Saw others happy, and with sighs withdrew; Not that their pleasures caused her discontent, She sigh'd not that they staid, but that she went. 10
She went to plain-work, and to purling brooks, Old-fashion'd halls, dull aunts, and croaking rooks: She went from opera, park, assembly, play, To morning-walks, and prayers three hours a-day: To part her time 'twixt reading and bohea, To muse, and spill her solitary tea; Or o'er cold coffee trifle with the spoon, Count the slow clock, and dine exact at noon; Divert her eyes with pictures in the fire, Hum half a tune, tell stories to the 'squire; 20 Up to her godly garret after seven, There starve and pray, for that's the way to heaven.
Some 'squire, perhaps, you take delight to rack; Whose game is whist, whose treat, a toast in sack; Who visits with a gun, presents you birds, Then gives a smacking buss, and cries—No words! Or with his hound comes hallooing from the stable, Makes love with nods, and knees beneath a table; Whose laughs are hearty, though his jests are coarse, And loves you best of all things—but his horse. 30
In some fair evening, on your elbow laid, You dream of triumphs in the rural shade; In pensive thought recall the fancied scene, See coronations rise on every green; Before you pass the imaginary sights Of lords, and earls, and dukes, and garter'd knights, While the spread fan o'ershades your closing eyes; Then give one flirt, and all the vision flies. Thus vanish sceptres, coronets, and balls, And leave you in lone woods, or empty walls! 40
So when your slave, at some dear idle time, (Not plagued with headaches, or the want of rhyme) Stands in the streets, abstracted from the crew, And while he seems to study, thinks of you; Just when his fancy paints your sprightly eyes, Or sees the blush of soft Parthenia rise, Gay pats my shoulder, and you vanish quite, Streets, chairs, and coxcombs rush upon my sight; Vex'd to be still in town, I knit my brow, Look sour, and hum a tune, as you do now. 50
* * * * *
TO MRS M. B. ON HER BIRTHDAY.
Oh, be thou blest with all that Heaven can send, Long health, long youth, long pleasure, and a friend: Not with those toys the female world admire, Riches that vex, and vanities that tire. With added years, if life bring nothing new, But, like a sieve, let every blessing through, Some joy still lost, as each vain year runs o'er, And all we gain, some sad reflection more; Is that a birthday? 'tis alas! too clear 'Tis but the funeral of the former year. 10
Let joy or ease, let affluence or content, And the gay conscience of a life well spent, Calm every thought, inspirit every grace, Glow in thy heart, and smile upon thy face Let day improve on day, and year on year, Without a pain, a trouble, or a fear; Till death unfelt that tender frame destroy, In some soft dream, or ecstasy of joy, Peaceful sleep out the Sabbath of the tomb, And wake to raptures in a life to come. 20
* * * * *
TO MR THOMAS SOUTHERN, ON HIS BIRTHDAY, 1742.
Resign'd to live, prepared to die, With not one sin, but poetry, This day Tom's fair account has run (Without a blot) to eighty-one. Kind Boyle, before his poet lays A table, with a cloth of bays; And Ireland, mother of sweet singers, Presents her harp still to his fingers. The feast, his towering genius marks In yonder wild goose and the larks; 10 The mushrooms show his wit was sudden; And for his judgment, lo, a pudden! Roast beef, though old, proclaims him stout, And grace, although a bard, devout. May Tom, whom Heaven sent down to raise The price of prologues and of plays, Be every birthday more a winner, Digest his thirty-thousandth dinner; Walk to his grave without reproach, And scorn a rascal and a coach. 20
* * * * *
VER. 15. Originally thus in the MS.:—
And oh, since Death must that fair frame destroy, Die, by some sudden ecstasy of joy; In some soft dream may thy mild soul remove, And be thy latest gasp a sigh of love.
TO MR JOHN MOORE,
AUTHOR OF THE CELEBRATED WORM-POWDER.
1 How much, egregious Moore, are we Deceived by shows and forms! Whate'er we think, whate'er we see, All humankind are worms.
2 Man is a very worm by birth, Vile reptile, weak and vain! A while he crawls upon the earth, Then shrinks to earth again.