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Full text of "The poetical works. Edited with notes and biographical introd. by William Benham"

THE POETICAL WORKS 



WILLIA M COWPER 







Cfte <3lobt (Edition 



THE POETICAL WORKS 



WILLIAM COWPER 



JJY7Y/ NOTES AND BIOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTION 



WILLIAM BENHAM 

VICAR OF MARGATE 
AND PROFESSOR OF MODERN' HISTORY IN" QLEEn's COLLEGE, LONDON 




gtanbon 

MACMILLAN AND CO. 

AND NEW YORK 
1889 



All Rights Resei-ved 



PR 



RlCHAKO CLAV AND SONS, LlMITI D, 
LONDON AND BUNGAY. ■ 



First Edition, 1870. 
Reprinted, 1874, 1S7 



TO THE 



MOST REVEREND R. C. TRENCH, D.D. 

LORD ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN. 

My dear Lord Archbishop, 

When Tasked leave to dedicate to you this Edition of Co-coper's Poems, 
I wished to express, in the only way that Iks in my power, my gratitude for past 
kindnesses, and for all that I have learned from you. But, independently of these 
feelings, I know that all readers of this volume will recognize a fitness in the 
offering for your acceptance the Works of one whose writings were so natural 
and pure and good, and whose command of his mother-tongue was so complete. 
With deep feelings of affection and sympathy, 

J remain, 
My dear Lord Archbishop, 

Your Grace's faithful Servant, 

W. BENHAM. 



Addinoton Vicarage, 
July 9, 1870. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

University of Toronto 



http://www.archive.org/details/poeticalworksediOOcowp 



CONTENTS. 



Page 

Index to First Lines xiii 

Preface xvij 

Introductory Memoir xxi 

EARLY POEMS. 

(published posthumously.) 

Verses written at Bath i 

Translation of Psalm cxxxvn 2 

Song ib. 

The Certainty of Death 3 

Of Himself ib. 

The Symptoms of Love ib. 

An Apology 4 

An Attempt at the manner of Waller . . 5 

A Song ib. 

A Song ib. 

Upon a Venerable Rival 6 

Ode on Sir Charles Grandison .... ib. 

In a Letter to C. P., Esq 7 

In a Letter to the Same ib. 

Written in a Quarrel ib. 

An Epistle to Robert Lloyd, Esq. ... 9 
Ode, supposed to be written on the Mar- 
riage of a Friend • IO 

On her endeavouring to conceal her Grief 

at Parting ib. 

Written after leaving her at New Burns . n 

R. S. S 12 

Written in a Fit of Illness J 3 

To Delia 14 

On the Death' of Sir W. Russell . . . • *5 
The Fifth Satire of the First Book of 

Horace 16 

The Ninth Satire of the First Book of 

Horace 18 

Addressed to Miss Macartney 20 

An Ode secundum Artem .• 2I 

Lines written under the Influence of Deli- 
rium 23 

OLNEY HYMNS. 

I. Walking with God 24 

11. Jehovah-Jireh ib. 

m. jehovah-Rophi ib. 

IV. Jehovah-Nissi 25 

v. Jehovah-Shalom ib. 

vi. Wisdom ib. 



VII. 
VIII, 



XI. 

XII. 

XIII. 

XIV. 

XV. 

XVI. 

XVII. 

XVIII. 

XIX. 

XX. 

XXI. 

XXII. 

XXIII. 
XXIV. 
XXV. 
XXVI. 

XXVII. 

XXVIII. 

XXIX. 

XXX. 

XXXI. 

XXXII. 

XXXIII. 

XXXIV. 

XXXV, 

XXXVI. 

XXXVII. 

XXXVIII. 

XXXIX. 

XL. 

XLI. 

XLII. 

XLIII. 

XLIV, 

XLV. 

XLVI. 

XLVII. 

XLVIII. 

XLIX. 



■Fflffo 

Vanity of the World 26 

O Lord, I will praise Thee . . 26 

The Contrite Heart ib. 

The futura Peace and Glory of 

the Church ib. 

Jehovah our Righteousness . . 27 

Ephraim repenting 27 

The Covenant ib. 

Jehovah-Shammah 28 

Praise for the Fountain opened . ib. 

The Sower ib. 

The House of Prayer .... ib. 

Lovest thou Me? 29 

Contentment ib. 

Old Testament Gospel .... ib. 

Sardis 30 

Prayer for a Blessing on the 

Young ib. 

Pleading for and with Youth . . ib. 

Prayer for Children 31 

Jehovah Jesus tb. 

On opening a Place fcr Social 

Prayer ib. 

Welcome to the Table .... 32 

Jesus hastening to suffer . . . ib. 

Exhortation to Prayer .... ib. 

The Light and Glory of the Word ib. 

On the Death of a Minister . . 33 

The Shining Light tb. 

The Waiting Soul ib. 

Seeking the Beloved .... ib. 

Light shining out of Darkness . 34 

Welcome Cross . . ' ... 4b. 

Afflictions sanctified by the Word ib. 

Temptation 35 

Looking upwards in a Storm . . lb. 
The Valley of the Shadow of 

Death ib. 

Peace after a Storm tb. 

Mourning and Longing .... 36 

Self-Acquaintance tb. 

Prayer for Patience tb. 

Submission 37 

The Happy Change ib. 

Retirement ~'b. 

The Hidden Life ...... 38 

Joy and Peace in believing . . tb. 

True Pleasures ib. 

The Christian ib. 

Lively Hope and gracious Fear 39 



CONTENTS. 



liii. 

LIV. 



LVII. 

Lvnr. 

LIX. 

LX. 

I.XI. 

LXII. 

LXIII. 

LXIV. 

LXV. 

LXVI. 

LXVII. 

LXVIII. 



Page 

For the Poor ........ 39 

My Soul thirsteth for God. . . ib. 

Love constraining to Obedience 40 
The Heart healed and changed 

by'Mercy ib. 

Hatred of Sin ib. 

The New Convert ib. 

True and False Comforts ... 41 

A Living and a Dead Faith . . ib. 

Abuse of the Gospel ib. 

The Narrow Way 42 

Dependence ib. 

Not of Works ib. 

Praise for Faith J 3 

Grace and Providence .... ib. 

I will praise the Lord at all Times ib. 

Longing to be with Christ . . . ib. 



FIRST PUBLISHED VOLUME OF 
POEMS. 



Preface, by the Rev. John Newton . . . 

Table Talk 

Progress of Error 

Truth . 

Expostulation 

Hope 

Charity 

Conversation 

Retirement 

The Doves 

A Fable 

A Comparison 

Another 

Verses supposed to be written by Alex- 
ander Selkirk 

On the Promotion of Edward Thurlow, Esq. 

Ode to Peace 

Human Frailty 

-The Modern Patriot 

On observing some Names of little Note . 

Report of an adjudged Case 

On the Burning of Lord Mansfield's 
Library 

On the Same 

The Love of the World reproved . . . 

The Lily and the Rose 

Idem Latine redditum 

The Nightingale and Glow-worm . . . 

Votum 

On a Goldfinch starved tD Death in his 
Cage 

The Pineapples and the Bee 

Horace, Book 11. Ode x 

A Reflection of the foregoing Ode . . . 

Translations from Vincent Bourne . . . 
'The Shrubbery 

The Winter Nosegay 

Mutual Forbearance 

To the Rev. Mr. Newton 

Translation of Prior's Chloe and Euphelia 

Boadicea. An Ode 

Heroism 

The Poet, the Oyster, and Sensitive Plant 

To the Rev. William Cawthorne Uir.vin 



47 
49 
64 
76 

87 
102 
117 
129 
147 
163 

ib. 
164 

ib. 



ib. 
ib. 
169 
170 
ib. 



171 

ib. 
ib. 
172 
i73 

li 

ib. 

ib. 
176 
178 

-70 



SECOND PUBLISHED VOLUME. 

Pa'/e 

uThe Task. Advertisement 1H2 

Book I.— The Sofa 183 

Book II. — The Time-piece .... 198 

Book III. — The Garden 215 

Book IV. — The Winter Evening . . 231 
Book V. — The Winter Morning Walk 247 
Book VI. — The Winter Walk at Noon 265 

An Epistle to Joseph Hill, Esq 286 

Tirocinium ; or, a Review of Schools . . 288 
The Diverting History of John Gilpin . . 306 



POEMS 

ADDED BY THE AUTHOR IN SUBSEQUENT 
EDITIONS OF HIS WORKS. 

On the Death of Mrs. Throckmorton's 

Bullfinch 311 

The Rose 312 

Ode to Apollo ib. 

The Poet's New-Year's Gift 313 

Pairing Time anticipated ib. 

The Dog and the Water-Lily 315 

Catharina ib. 

l The Moralizer corrected 316 

The Faithful Bird 317 

The Needless Alarm ib. 

t. On the receipt of my Mother's Picture 

out of Norfolk 320 

The Poplar Field 323 

Idem Latine redditum 

Inscription for the Tomb of Mr. Hamilton 324 

Epitaph on a Hare ib. 

Epitaphium Alteram 325 



POSTHUMOUS POEMS OF MIDDLE 
AND LATER LIFE. 



A Tale, founded on a Fact 

To the Rev. Mr. Newton 

Monumental Inscription to William North- 
cot 

Riddle 

To Sir Joshua Reynolds 

Impromptu on reading the Chapter on Poly- 
gamy, in Mr. Madan's Thelyphthora 

On a Review condemning Thelyphthcrr. . 

On Madan's Answer to Newton's Com- 
ments on Thelyphthora 

Anti-Thelyphthora 

Love abused 

In Seditionem Horrcndam 

A Card 

On the High Price of Fish 

To Mrs. Newton 

A Poetical Epistle to Lady Austen . . . 
tThe Flatting Mill 

To the Rev. Mr. Newton 

A Simile latinised 

Verses to the Memory of Dr. Lloyd . . . 

The Same in English 



327 
328 



3?9 

ib. 



330 
ib. 



335 

ib. 
336 

to. 

ib. 
337 
339 
34° 

tb. 

h ?b. 



CONTEXTS. 



Page 

Friendship . 342 

Rev. William 1'till 345 

dy Austen ib. 

The Coiubriad 346 

To a Young Lady 347 

Song on Peace ib. 

ib. 

On the Loss of the Royal George . . . 348 
In submersionem navigii cui, Georgius 

Regale nomen, inditum ib. 

The Distressed Travellers 349 

In brevitatem vitae spatii hominibus con- 

cessi 351 

On the Shortness of Human Life . . . ib. 

The Valediction 352 

To an Afflicted Protestant Lady in France 354 
To the Immortal Memory of the Halibut . 355 

To a Lady ib. 

Written on a Page of "The Monthly 

Review " 356 

Epitaph on Dr. Johnson ib. 

On the Author of " Letters on Literature " ib. 

To Miss C , on her Birthday .... 357 

Gratitude ib. 

The Yearly Distress . . 35S 

Lines composed for a Memorial of Ashley 

Cowper, Esq 359 

Sonnet ib. 

On Mrs. Montagu's Feather-hangings . . 360 

L The Negro's Complaint 361 

I Pity for Poor Africans 362 

The Morning Dream 363 

On a Mischievous Bull ib. 

u Annus Memorabilis, 17S9 364 

Epigram 365 

Hymn ib. 

Stanzas ib. 

On a Similar Occasion 366 

On a Similar Occasion 367 

On a Similar Occasion 368 

On a Similar Occasion ib. 

On a Similar Occasion 369 

Impromptu 37° 

On the Queen's Visit to London .... ib. 

The Cock-fighter's Garland 371 

Lines after the manner of Homer . . . 372 
On the Benefit received by his Majesty 

from Sea-bathing ib. 

To Mrs. Throckmorton 373 

Inscription 'b. 

Another 374 

To Mrs. King ib. 

Stanzas ib. 

In Memory- of the late John Thornton, 

Esq 375 

To Rev. Walter Bagot 376 

_ The Four Ages ib. 

The Judgment of the Poets 377 

On the Refusal of the University of Oxford 

to subscribe to his Translation of Homer 373 
Epitaph on Mrs. M. Higgins, of Weston . ib. 

The Retired Cat ib. 

YardleyOak 380 

To the Nightingale 383 

To Warren Hastings, Esq ib. 

Lines 384 



/■ < . 

To William Wilberforce, Esq 384 

To Dr. Austen, of Cecil Street, London . ib. 

ih on a Free but Tame Redbreast . 385 

Translation of a Simile in Paradise Lost . ib. 

To William Hayley, Esq ib. 

Catharina 386 

Lines addressed to Dr. Darwin .... ib. 
On his approaching Visit to Hayley . . . 387 

To George Romney, Esq ib. 

An Epitaph , ib. 

Epitaph on " t'op " 388 

On receiving Hayley's Picture .... ib. 

To his Cousin, Lady Hesketh ib. 

Epitaph on Mr. Chester, of Chichely . . ib. 

On a Plant of Virgin's Bower 389 

To my Cousin, Anne Bodham ib. 

To a Young Friend 390 

Inscription ib. 

To Mrs. Unwin ib. 

To John Johnson ib. 

Inscription for the same Bust 391 

On a Portrait of Himself ib. 

Thanks for a Present of Pheasants . . . ib. 

To William Hayley, Esq ib. 

A Tale 392 

On a Spaniel, called "Beau " 393 

Beau's Reply ib. 

Answer to Stanzas addressed to Lady 

Hesketh 394 

On a Letter of Miss Fanshawe .... ib. 
To the Spanish Admiral Count Gravina . ib. 

On Fla.xman's Penelope ib. 

To Mary 395 

On receiving Heyne's Virgil from Mr. 

Hayley 396 

Motto for a Clock ib. 

In a Time of great Heat ib. 

Epigrams on his Garden-shed 397 

Montes Glaciales ib. 

On the Ice Islands 393 

On a Mistake in his Translation of Homer 400 
The Castaway ib. 

TRANSLATIONS FROM THE 

FRENCH OF MADAME DE LA MOTTE 

GUYON. 

The Nativity 4°3 

God neither known nor loved by the World 406 

The Swallow 408 

A Figurative Description of the Procedure 

of Divine Love ib. 

A Child of Godlonging to see Him beloved 409 

: Happy Solitude — Unhappy Men. . . . 410 

Aspirations of the Soul after God . . . ib. 

Divine Justice amiable 411 

The Triumph of Heavenly Love desired . ib. 
Truth and Divine Ldve rejected by the 

World ib. 

Living Water 412 

The Soul that loves God finds Him every- 
where ib. 

Gratitude and Love to God 413 

The Testimony of Divine Adoption . . . ib. 



CONTENTS. 



Page 

God hides His People 414 

Self-Diffidence ib. 

The Acquiescence of Pure Love .... 415 

The Entire Surrender ib. 

Glory to God alone 416 

Self- Love and Truth ihcompatible . . . 417 
The Love of God the End of Life . . . ib. 

Repose in God . ib. 

Love pure and fervent 418 

The Perfect Sacrifice ib. 

Divine Love endures no Rival .... ib. 
The Secrets of Divine Love are to be kept 419 
The Vicissitudes experienced in the Chris- 
tian Life 421 

Love faithful in the Absence of the Beloved. 423 
Watching unto God in the Night Season . 424 

On the Same ib. 

On the Same 425 

The Joy of the Cross 426 

Joy in Martyrdom ib. 

Simple Trust 427 

The Necessity of Self-Abasement . . . ib. 

Love increased by Suffering 428 

Scenes favourable to Meditation .... ib. 



TRANSLATIONS FROM MILTON. 

I. — The Latin. 

Elegies. 

To Charles Deodati 431 

On the Death of the University Bedel at 

Cambridge 433 

On the Death of the Bishop of Winchester 434 

To his Tutor, Thomas Young 435 

On the Approach of Spring 438 

To Charles Deodati 441 

Composed in the Author's Nineteenth Year 443 

Epigrams. 

On the Inventor of Guns 445 

To Leonora singing at Rome tb. 

To the Same 446 

The Cottager and his Landlord .... ib. 
To Christina, Queen of Sweden .... ib. 

Miscellaneous Poems. 

On the Death of the Vice-Chancellor . . 447 

On the Death of the Bishop of Ely . . . ib. 

Nature unimpaired by Time 448 

On the Platonic Idea 450 

To his Father 451 

To Salsillus 454 

To Giovanni Battista Manso 455 

On the Death of Damon 458 

An Ode addressed to Mr. John Rouse . . 464 

II.— The Italian Poems. 

Sonnet 466 

Sonnet 467 

Canzone ib. 



Page 

Sonnet 467 

Sonnet 468 

Sonnet ib. 



III. — Complimentary Poems to Milton. 

FROM THE LATIN AND ITALIAN. 

The Neapolitan, John Baptist Manso . . 469 

An Epigram ib. 

To John Milton ib. 

An Ode ib. 

Translation of Dryden's Poem on Milton . 471 

TRANSLATIONS FROM VINCENT 
BOURNE. 

On the Picture of a Sleeping Child . . . 472 

The Thracian ib. 

Reciprocal Kindness the Primary Law of 

Nature ib. 

A Manual 473 

An Enigma 474 

Sparrows Self-domesticated ib. 

Familiarity dangerous 47s 

Invitation to the Redbreast ib. 

Strada's Nightingale 476 

Ode on the Death of a Lady lb. 

The Canse won 477 

The Silkworm ib. 

The Innocent Thief 478 

Dcnner's Old Woman ib. 

The Tears of a Painter 479 

The Maze ib. 

The Snail ib. 

No Sorrow peculiar to the Sufferer . . . 480 
The Cantab ib. 



TRANSLATIONS FROM THE LATIN 
CLASSICS. 



Virgil's ^Eneid, Book vin. Line 18 

The Salad 

Ovid. Trist. Lib. v. Eleg. xii. . . 

Hor. Lib. I. Ode ix 

Hor. Lib. I. Ode xxxviii. . . . 
Another Translation of the same Ode 
Hor. Lib. 11. Ode xv 



489 
492 

494 
ib. 

495 

ib. 



EPIGRAMS, TRANSLATED FROM THE 
LATIN OF OWEN. 



On one Ignorant and Arrogant 


• • -497 


Prudent Simplicity 


. . . ib. 


To a Friend in Distress .... 


. . . ib. 


Retaliation 


. . . ib. 


Self-Knowledge 


. . . ib. 


Sunset and Sunrise 


. . . ib. 



CONTENTS. 



TRANSLATIONS OF GREEK VERSES. 

Page 

From the Greek of Julianus 498 

On the Same, by Palladas ib. 

An Epitaph . . . ib. 

Another 499 

Another tb. 

Another ib. 

By Callimachus ib. 

On an Ugly Fellow ib. 

By Herachdes 500 

On the Reed ib. 

To Health ib. 

On an Infant 501 

On the Astrologers . ........ ib. 

On an Old Woman ib. 

On Invalids ib. 

On Flatterers ib. 

On a True Friend . . . ib. 

To the Swallow . 502 

On Late-acquired Wealth . ib. 

On a Bath, by Plato . ib. 

On a Fowler, by Isiodorut, ib. 

On Niobe ib. 

On a Good Man 503 

1 On a Miser ib. 

Another 503 

Another ib. 



On Female Inconstancy 

On Hcrmocratia ' ib. 

From Menander //,. 

On the Grasshopper 505 

'On a Thief //,. 

On Pallas bathing jb. 

To Demosthenes, on a llattering Mirror . 506 
On a similar Character ib. 

'OnMiltiades ib. 

On a Battered Beauty ib. 

■ On Pedigree 507 

On Envy i/,_ 

Translation of an Epigram of Homer . . ib. 

By Philemon 508 

By Mo:;chus 509 



TRANSLATIONS OF ENGLISH 
VERSES. 

FROM THE FABLES OF GAY. 

Lepus multis Amicus 510 

Avarus et Plutus 511 

Papilio et Limax 512 

NOTES 5 , 3 



INDEX TO FIRST LINES. 



Abbot is painting me so true . . 
Abiit senex ! periit senex amabilis 
Ah ! brother Poet, send me of your shade 
A hermit, or if 'chance you hold . . . 
Ah, how the human mind wearies herself 
Ah i reign, wherever man is found . . 
Ah ! wherefore should my weeping maid 

suppress 

Airy del Castro was as bold a knight 
All are indebted :euch to Thee . . 
All-worshipped Gold ! thou mighty mystery 
Almighty King ! whose wondrous hand 
A miser, traversing his house .... 
Ancient dame, how wide and vast . . 
And dwells there in a female heart . . 
And is this ali ? Can Reason do no more 
Androcles from his injured lord, in dread 
A needle, small as small can be 
A nightingale, that all day long 
A noble theme demands a noble v 
Another Leonora once inspired 
An Oyster, cast upon the shore 
A peasant to his lord paid yearly 
Apelles, hearing that his boy . 
A poet's cat, sedate and grave . 
A raven, while with glossy breast . . 
Art thou some individual of a kind . 
As birds their infant brood protect . . 
As in her ancient mistress' lap .... 
Ask what is human life — the sage replies 
As on a hill-top rude, when closing day 
As one, who, long in thickets and in brakes 
A spaniel, Beau, that fares like you 
A Spartan, his companion slain 
A Spartan 'scaping from the fight 
As yet a stranger to the gentle fires 
At length,myfriend,the far-sent letterscome 
At morn we placed on his funeral bier . 
At threescore winters' end I died . . . 
Attic maid ! with honey fed .... 
Austen ! accept a grateful verse from me 
Believe it or not, as you chuse . . . 
Beneath the edge or near the stream 
Bestow, dear Lord, upon cur youth . 
Between Nose and Eyes a strange contest 
arose 



Page 

391 
341 
396 
316 



Bewail not much, my parents ! me, the prey 501 
Beware, my friend ! of crystal brook . . 499 
Beware of building ! I intended .... 397 
Bid adieu, my sad heart, bid adieu to thy 

peace 

Blest ! who, far from all mankind 



411 



33° 

4 = 3 



5<>3 
47° 



4?2 
474 
170 
336 
445 
1 78 
44'J 
479 
3->S 
163 
S°3 
28 

475 
102 
467 
215 
393 



•143 
43 1 
499 
<?>9 
5 - 
384 
386 
1 7- 



167 



Boy ! I detest all Persian fopperies . . . 495 
Boy, I hate their empty shows ... 
Breathe from the gentle south, O Lord . 33 

By whom was David taught 25 

Charles — and I say it wondering — thou 

must know ... 467 

Charon ! receive a family on board . . . 502 
Christina, maiden of heroic mien . . . 446 
Close by the threshold of a door nailed fast 346 

Cocoa-nut nought 336 

Come, peace of mind, delightful guest . . 165 
Come, ponder well, for 'tis no jest . . . 358 
Contemplate, when the sun declines . . . 497 
Could Ho:r.er come himself, distressed and 

poor 37S 

Could I, from heaven inspired, as sure 

presage 3^ 

Cowper had sinned with some excuse . . 400 
Cowper, whose silver voice, tasked some- 
times hard • • ■ 359 

D^-.ir Anna — between friend and friend . 337 
Dear architect of fine chateaux in air . 391 
Dear Joseph, —five and twenty years ago . 286 
Dear Lord! accept a sinful heart ... 56 
Dear President, whose art sublime . . . 329 
l>eli.'., the unkindest girl on earth ... 4 

Did Cytherea to the skies 5° 2 

Did not my Muse (what can she less ?) . . 4 
Did not thy reason and thy sense ... 5 
Doomed, as I am, in solitude to waste . . 13 
Ease is the weary merchant's prayer . . 495 
liisoia tic TdVTI|V ; kAi/toi/ u>tpciy uvvon 

o\u\e» 39 1 

Eldest born of powers divine ..... 5°° 
Enamoured, artless, young, on foreign 

ground • • 4^8 

En, quae prodigia, ex oris allata remotis . 35,7 
Ere God had built the mountains ... 25 
Exalt me, Clio, to the skies ..... 4°9 
Fairest and foremost of the train that wait 117 
Fair Lady ! whose harmonious name the 

Rhine 4&> 

Far from the world, O Lord I flee ... 37 
Far happier are the dead, methinks, than 

they 5°i 

Farewell, false hearts ! whose best affec- 
tions fail 35 2 

Farewell ! endued with all that could 

engage • • • • 359 

Fierce passions discompose the mind . - 29 
Foad youth '. who dream'st that hoarded 
gold 504 



INDEX TO FIRST LINES. 



Page 
Forced from home and all its pleasures . 361 
Fortune ! I thank thee : gentle Goddess, 

thanks 1 

From right to left, and to and fro .... 479 
From thorny wilds a monster came . . . 417 
Full thirty frosts since thou wert young . 6 

Go ! thou art all unfit to share 363 

God gives his mercies to be spent ... 26 
God moves in a mysterious way .... 34 

God of my life, to thee I call 35 

Grace, triumphant in the throne .... 42 
Gracious Lord, our children see .... 31 
Grant me the Muse, ye gods ! whose humble 

flight 7 

Greece, sound thy Homer's, Rome, thy 

Virgil's name 463 

Hackneyed in business, wearied at that oar 147 
Happy songster, perched ab>~ ve .... 505 

Hark, my soul ! it is the Lord 29 

Hark ! 'tis the tvranging horn ! O'er yon- 
der bridge 231 

Hastings ! I knew thee young, and of a mind 383 
Hast thou a friend ? Thou hast indeed . 501 
Hair, wax, rouge, honey, teeth you buy . 506 
Hatred and vengeance, — my eternal portion 23 
Hayley, thy tenderness fraternal, shown . 385 
Heal us, Emmanuel ! here we are ... 24 
Hear, Lord, the song of praise and prayer 365 
Hear what God the Lord hath spoken . . 26 
hei mihi ! Lege rata sol occidit atque 

resurgit . . . 351 

He lives who lives to God, alone .... .369 
Hence, my epistle — skim the deep — fly o'er 435 
Here Johnson lies, a sage by all allowed . 356 

Here lies one who never drew 387 

Here lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue . 324 
Hermocratia named — save only one . . . 504 
Her pen drops eloquence as sweet . . . 394 
Heu inimicitias quoties parit aemula forma 169 

He who sits from day to day 368 

Hie etiam jacet 325 

Hie sepultus est . . ' 328 

His master taken from his head .... 33 
Holy Lord God ! I love thy truth ... 40 

Honour and happiness unite 38 

How blessed thy creature is, O God . . 37 
How blest the youth whom Fate ordains . 8 
How happy are the new-born race . . .413 
How many between east and west . . . 357 
How quick the change from joy to woe . n 
I am fond of the swallow ; — I learn from 

her flight 408 

I am just two and two, I am warm, I am 

cold 329 

I am monarch of all I survey 164 

I could be well content, allowed the use . 376 
Icta fenestra Euri flatu stridebat, avarus . 511 
If Gideon's fleece, which drenched with 

dew he found 390 

If John marries Mary, and Mary alone . 330 
If reading verse be your delight .... 345 
I have read the Review ; it is learned and 

wise 330 

" I love the Lord" is still the strain . . . 428 
In Cnidus born, the consort I became . . 500 



Pay* 
In Copeman's ear this truth let Echo tell . 391 
In language warm as could be breathed or 

penned 388 

In painted plumes superbly drest . . . .173 
In Scotland's realm, where trees are few . 392 
In these sad hours, a prey to ceaseless pain 13 
In this mimic form of a matron in years . 478 
In vain to live from age to age .... 384 
In vain ye woo me to your harmless joys . 423 
I own I am shocked at the purchase of 

slaves 362 

I place an offering at Thy shrine .... 418 
I ransacked, for a theme of song .... 364 
I shall not ask Jean Jacques Rousseau . 313 
I should have deemed it once an effort vain 396 

I sing of a journey to Clifton 349 

I sing the Sofa. I who lately sang . . . 183 
I slept when Venus entered : to my bed . 509 

Israel in ancient days 29 

I suffer fruitless anguish day by day . . 421 
It flatters and deceives thy view .... 506 

I thirst, but not as once I did 39 

It is a maxim of much weight 376 

It is not from his form, in which we trace . 288 
I was a grovelling creature once .... 39 
T was a long journey lay before us ... 16 

I was of late a barren plant 500 

I will praise thee every day 26 

I wish thy lot, now bad, still worse, my friend 497 
Jealous, and with love o'erflowing . . . 418 
Jesus! where'er thy people meet . ... 31 
Jesus ! whose blood so freely streamed . 25 

John Gilpin was a citizen 306 

Kinsman beloved, and as a son, by me . 390 
Lady ! it cannot be but that thine eyes . 468 
Laurels may flourish round the conqueror's 

tomb 378 

Learn, ye nations of the earth 447 

Little inmate, full of mirth 172 

Long plunged in sorrow I resign .... 426 
Lord, my soul with pleasure springs . . 38 
Lord, who hast suffered all for me ... 36 
Love! if thy destined sacrifice am I . . 415 
Love is the Lord whom I obey .... 418 
Lusus amicitia est, uni nisi dedita, ceu fit . 510 
Madam, — A stranger's purpose in these lays 354 
Madam, — Two Cockscombs wait at your 

command 347 

Man, on the dubious waves of error tossed ;6 
Maria, could Horace have guessed . . . 373 

Maria ! I have every good 313 

Mary ! I want a lyre with other strings . 390 
Meles and Mincio, both, your urns depress 469 
Mercator, vigiles oculos ut fallere possit . 17s 
Me too, perchance, in future days . . . 374 
Me to whatever state the gods assign . . 14 

Mihi. ides ! thy valour best 506 

Mortals ! around your destined heads . . 3 
M. quarrels with N., because M. wrote a 

book . 330 

Muse, bide his name of whom I sing . . 371 
Mycilla dyes her locks, 'tis said .... 501 

My former hopes are fled 33 

My frcntlc Anne, whom heretofore . . . 389 
My Cod, how perfect are thy ways . . 27 



JXDEX TO FIRST LINES. 



P ■;,!■ 

My God, till I receive thy stroke ... 27 

My halting -Muse, that dragg'st by choice 

along 454 

My heart is easy, and my burthen light . 410 
My lids with grief were tumid yet . . . 447 
My mother! 3" thou love me, name no more 507 
My name — my country — what are they to 

thee? 498 

My pens are all split, and my ink-glass is dry 
My rose, Gravina, blooms anew . . 
My song shall bless the Lord of all . 
My soul is sad, and much dismayed 
My Spouse ! in whose presence I live 
My twofold book '. single in show . 
Naples, too credulous, ah ! boast no more 
Night ! how I love thy silent shades 

No longer I follow a sound 

No mischief worthier of our fear . . . 
No more shall hapless Celia's ears . . 
None ever shared the social feast 
Nor oils of balmy scent produce . . . 
No strength of Nature can suffice . . 
N ot a flower can be found in the fields . 
Obscurest night involved the sky . . . 
Of all the gifts thine hand bestows . . 
Oft we enhance our ills by discontent . 
O God, whose favourable eye .... 
Oh, fond attempt to give a deathless lot 
Oh for a closer walk with God . . . 
Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness . 
O happy shades*! to me unblest . . . 
Oh, how I love thy holy word .... 
Oh, loved ! but not enough — though dearer 

far 

Oh that Pieria's spring would through my 

breast : • • 

Oh that those lips had language ! Life has 

passed 

O Lord, my best desire fulfil . • • 

O Love, of pure and heavenly birth 

O niatutini rores, auraeque salubres . 

O most delightful hour by man . . 

On the greeu margin of the brook 

O sovereign of an isle renowned . . 

Other stones the era tell . . . • ■ 

O Thou, by long experience tried 

Our good old friend is gone, gone to his rest 

Painter, this likeness is too strong 

Patron of all those luckless brains 

Pause here, and think : a monitory rhyme 324 

Pay me my price, potters ! and I will sing 507 

Peace has unveiled her smiling face . . . 415 

Perfida, crudelis, victa et lymphata furore 335 

Pity, says the Theban bard 5°7 

Plangimus fortes. Periere fortes . . . 348 
Poets attempt the noblest task they can . 375 
Poor in my youth, and in life's later scenes 502 
Poor Vestris, grieved beyond all measure . 336 
Populeae cecidit gratissima copia silvae . . 323 
Praise in old times the sage Prometheus won 445 
Quae lenta accedit, quam velox prseterit 

hora 30 

Quales aerii montis de vertice nubes . . 385 
Qui subito ex imis, rerum in fastigia surgit 512 
Reader ! behold a monument 374 



394 

3 1 

35 

410 

464 

446 

4^5 

347 

501 

2 

474 

5°5 

40 

478 

400 

43 

508 

41 
166 

24 
198 

173 
34 

416 
451 



37 
411 
170 
367 

5 

?:- 

373 
♦12 
34i 
499 



Reasoning at every step he treads . . . 163 

Rebellion is my theme all day 166 

Receive, dear friend, the truths I teach . 171 
Rich, thou hadst many lovers ; — poor, hast 

none 504 

Romney, expert infallibly to trace . . . 387 
Round Thurlow's head in early youth . . 165 
Sauntering along the street one day ... 18 
Says the Pipe to the Snuff-box, "I can't 

understand 340 

Say, ye apostate and profane 6 

Season of my purest pleasure 424 

Seest thou yon mountain laden with deep 

snow 494 

See where the Thames, the purest stream . 8 
Shall I begin with Ah, or Oh '( .... 21 
She came — she is gone — we have met . . 315 
Silent I sat, dejected, and alone .... 434 
Since life in sorrow must be spent . . .417 

Sin enslaved ine many years 40 

Sing, Muse, if such a theme, so dark, so 

long 64 

Sin has undone our wretched race ... 30 
Sir, when 1 flew to seize the bird .... 393 
Sleep at last has fled these eyes .... 424 
So have I seen the maids in vain .... 370 

Sometimes a fight surprises 38 

Sors adversa gerit stimulum, sed tendit et 

alas 340 

So then— the Vandals of our isle .... 167 
Source of love, and light of day . . . .414 
Source of Love, my brighter Sun .... 427 

Still, still, without ceasing 427 

Sun ! stay thy course, this moment stay . 419 
Suns that set, and moons that wane . . .351 
Survivor soul, and hardly such, of all . . 380 
Sweet babe, whose image here expressed . 472 
Sweet bird, whom the Winter constrains . 475 
Sweet stream, that winds through yonder 

glade 164 

Sweet tenants of this grove 426 

Take to thy bosom, gentle Earth ! a swain 499 
Tears flow, and cease not, where the good 

man lies • • • • 388 

Thankless for favours from on high . . . 368 
That ocean you of late surveyed . . . .328 
That thou mayst injure no man, dove-like be 497 
The astrologers did all alike presage . .501 

The Bard, if e'er he feel at all 374 

The beams of April, ere it goes .... 477 
The billows swell, the winds are high . . 35 
The birds put off their every hue .... 360 
Thee, whose refulgent staff, and summons 

clear 433 

The fountain in its source 41 2 

The genius of the Augustan age .... 356 
The greenhouse is my summer seat . . .317 
The lady thus addressed her spouse . . 174 
The lapse of time and rivers is the same . 164 
The Lord proclaims his grace abroad . . 27 
The Lord receives his highest praise . . 4 1 
The Lord will happiness divine .... 26 
The lover, in melodious verses .... 4S0 
The new-born child of Gospel grace . . 4^ 
The noon was shady, and soft airs . . . 315 



INDEX TO FIRST LINES. 



Page 
The nymph must lose her female friend . 168 

The Pineapples, in triple row 171 

The poplars are felled ; farewell to the shade 323 
The rose had been washed, just washed in 

a shower 312 

There is a bird who by his coat . . . .172 
There is a book, which we may call . . . 473 
There is a field through which I often pass 317 
There is a fountain filled with blood . . 28 
There is in souls a sympathy with sounds . 265 

There's not an echo round me 409 

There was a time when ^Etna's silent fire . 176 
The saints should never be dismayed . . 24 

The Saviour hides his face 36 

The Saviour, what a noble flame .... 32 
The Sculptor? — Nameless, though once 

dear to fame 391 

These are not dew-drops, these are tears . 385 
These critics, who to faith no quarter grant 356 
The shepherd touched his reed ; sweet 

Philomel 476 

The sparkling eye, the mantling cheek . 5 
The Spirit breathes upon the Word ... 32 
The star that beams on Anna's breast . . 355 
The straw-stuffed hamper with his ruthless 

steel 372 

The suitors sinned, but with a fair excuse 394 
These verses also 10 thy praise the Nine . 455 
The swallows in their torpid state . . .175 
The twentieth year is well-nigh past . . 395 
The winter night now well-nigh worn away 489 
The works of ancient bards divine . . . 497 
They cail thee rich ! — I deem thee poor . 503 
They mock my toil— the nymphs and 

amorous swains 467 

Think, Delia, with what cruel haste ... 7 
This cabin, Mary, in my sight appears . 390 
This cap, that so stately appears .... 357 
This evening, Delia, you and I . . . . 7 
This is the feast of heavenly wine ... 32 
Though Nature wei^h our talents, and dis- 
pense 129 

Though once a puppy, and though Fop by 

name 3SS 

Thou magic lyre, whose fascinating sound 10 
Thou mayst of double ignorance boast . . 497 
Thou hast no lightnings, O Thou Just . .411 

Thracian parents, at his birth 472 

Thrive, gentle plant ! and weave a bower 389 
Through floods and flames to your retreat 387 
Thus Italy was moved ; — nor did the chief 481 
Thus says the nrophet of the Turk . . . 168 
Thy country', Wilberforce, with just disdain 384 
Thy mansion is the Christian's heart . . 28 
Time, never wandering from his annual 

round 438 

Time was when I was free as air .... 170 
'Tis folly all ! — let me no more be told . . 403 
'Tis morning ; and the sun with ruddy orb 247 

Tis my happiness below 34 

'Tis not that I design to rob 9 

To Babylon's proud waters brought ... 2 
To be remembered thus is Fame .... 394 
To grass, or leaf, or fruit, or wall .... 479 



l'WJ-1 

To Jesus, the Crown of my Hope ... 43 

To keep the lamp alive 42 

To lay the soul that loves him low . . . 414 

Toll for the brave 348 

Too many, Lord, abuse thy grace ... 41 
To purify their wine some people bleed . 365 
To those who know the Lord I speak . . 33 
To tell the Saviour all my wants .... 38 
To watch the storms, and hear the sky . 345 
Traveller, regret me not ; for thou shalt find 503 
Tres tria, sed longe distantia, sajcula 

vates # 471 

Trust me, the meed of praise, dealt thriftily 7 
'Twas in the glad season of spring . . . 363 

'Twas my purpose, on a day 408 

Two neighbours furiously dispute . . . 477 
Two nymphs, both nearly of an age . . . 377 

Two Poets, (poets, by report 3S6 

Unwin, I should but ill repay 179 

Weak and irresolute is man 166 

What features, form, mien, manners, with 

a mind 469 

What is there in the vale of life .... 335 
What Nature, alas ! has denied .... 174 
What portents,from what distant region, ride 398 
What thousands never knew the load . . 42 
What various hindrances we meet ... 32 
What Virtue, or what mental grace . . . 342 
When a bar of pure silver or ingot of gold 339 

When all within is peace 347 

When Aulus, the nocturnal tliief, made prize 505 
Whence is it, that amazed I hear .... 383 
When darkness long has veiled my mind . 35 
When Hagar found the bottle spent ... 39 
When little more than boy in age . . . 497 
When, lung sequestered from his throne . 370 
When the British warrior queen .... 175 
When Wit and Genius meet their doom . 168 
Where hast thou floated? in what seas 

pursued 355 

Where Humber pours his rich commercial 

stream 327 

While thirteen moons saw smoothly run . 3G5 
Why weeps the Muse for England ? What 

appears 87 

Wilds horrid and dark with o'ershadowing 

trees 428 

William was once a bashful youth ... 3 

Winter has a joy for me 43 

With no rich viands overcharged, I send . 441 
With seeds and birdlime, from the desert 

air 502 

With two spurs, or one, and no great mat- 
ter which 480 

Would my Deliaknow if I love, let her take 3 
" Write to Sardis," saith the Lord ... 30 
Ye linnets, let us try, beneath this grove . 406 
Ye Nymphs, if e'er your eyes were red . .311 
Ye nymphs of Himera, for ye have shed . 458 
Ye sister powers, who o'er the sacred groves 450 
Ye sons of earth, prepare the plough . . 28 
You bid me write to amuse the tedious hours 492 
You give your cheeks a rosy stain . . . 506 
You told me, I remember, glory, built . . 49 



PREFACE 



The works which have formed the materials for this volume are the following, 
named in the order of their publication : — ■ 

1. Olney Hymns : 1779. (See Memoir, p. xxxvii.) 

2. Poems by William Cowper : 1782. (See p. 45.) 

3. The Task, with three other pieces, by the same : 1785. (See p. 181.) 

4. The above volumes were published distinctly, No. 3 offering no indication 
that the author had appeared in print before. But always afterwards Nos. 
2 and 3 were issued together, and numbered "Cowper's Poems, Vols. i. and ii." 
New editions were published in 1786, 1787, 1788, 1793, 1794, 1798 (huo editions 
in this year, very different in form and appearance), and 1800. The foregoing 
were all that were printed in the author's lifetime. The various editions contained 
fresh poems from time to time. 

5. Poems translated from the French of Madame de la Mothe Guyon by the 
late William Cowper, Esq., Author of "The Task," to which are added some 
Original Poems of Mr. Cowper, not inserted in his Works. Newport-Pagnel, 
1801. 

6. The Life and Letters of William Cowper, Esq., with Remarks on Epistolary 
Writers. By William Hayley, Esq. : 4 vols. 1803. 

This work contained many additional poems which had been sent to friends, but not published 
by the author among his works. These will be found, with others, in pp. 327 — 402. A brief notice 
of each poem is given in the Notes at the end. During Cowper's later life, beginning with 1791, 
Hayley was intimately connected with him and his friends. It was a priceless boon to give 
Cowper's Letters to the public : two brother poets have pronounced him "the best letter-writer 
in the English language."* Hayley's work therefore was highly interesting, but it had many 
serious faults. Not only is its style windy and tiresome, but the writer was so anxious not to give 
offence to any one, that in dealing with the more painful passages of Cowper's life, he contrives to 
leave us in utter uncertainty of what the facts were, and invariably assures us that if we knew 
everything we should see that everybody concerned acted in the most exemplary manner possible. 
With the same end in view he has made large omissions from the letters, without giving any indica- 
tion of having done so. The originals of many of the letters which he printed are in the Manu- 
script Room of the British Museum (Addl. MSS. 24.154 and 21,556), and the omitted passages 
are mostly crossed with pencil-marks, I presume by his hand. The few passages not so crossed 
were probably struck out in the proofs. All these letters I have carefully compared with the 
printed copies. 

Hayley's knowledge of Cowper, moreover, was confined to his later life. In the earlier part of 
the biography he has made several mistakes, and to one of the most interesting portions of 
Cowper's life, his only love affair, he makes no allusion. The references to Hayley's work in 
the present volume are to the edition of 1812. 



* Southey in Ltfe, p. 1, and Alex. Smith in " Encyclopaedia Britannica." 

b 



PREFACE. 



7. Latin and Italian Poems of Milton. Translated by Cowper. 1S08. 

This work was published by Hayley for the benefit of Cowper's godson, W. C. Rose, Sec 
p. lxiv. 

8. Memoir of the Early Life of William Cowper. Written by Himself. With an 

Appendix containing some of Cowper's Religious Letters, and other Documents. 

London, 1816. 

This was written at Huntingdon for the private reading of his friends the Unwind, and its 
publication was never dreamt of. It was written just when Cowper was in the full conviction of 
his conversion, and in consequence speaks most severely of his previous life, and rails (it is not 
too strong a word) against the acquaintances of his youth. Written with all the exaggeration of 
excitement, and with a morbid dwelling upon the details of his madness, it is a painful work to 
read, and it is to be regretted that it was ever published. A lady who was on a visit to 
Newton saw the MS. on his table, unjustifiably took a copy, and lent it to a friend. Of course, 
it soon found its way into a publisher's hands, through the instrumentality of a " pious character," 
to use the expression of one of Cowper's biographers (Grimshawe, v. 262). 

9. Adelphi. A Sketch of the Character, and an Account of the Last Illness 
of the late Rev. John Cowper, who finished his course with joy, March 20, 1770. 
Written by William Cowper; transcribed from his original MS. by J. Newton. 
London, 1816. 

10. Private Correspondence of William Cowper with several of his most 
intimate Friends, now first published from the Originals in the possession of John 
Johnson. 2 vols. London, 1814. 

11. Poems by William Cowper, in three volumes, by his Kinsman, John 

Johnson, LL.D., Rector of Yaxham with Welborne in Norfolk. 

The 3d volume comprised " his Posthumous Poetry, with a Sketch of his Life," and contained 
a few pieces which had not yet appeared. Dr. Johnson was, as will be seen in the Life, a relative 
very dear to Cowper, and made it his pious care to tend him in his last years. It may be well to 
mention here that he was no connexion of the Johnson who will also appear often in the memoir 
as the original publisher of Cowper's works. 

12. Poems, the Early Productions of William Cowper, now first published from 
the Originals in the possession of James Croft. With anecdotes of the Poet, col- 
lected from Letters of Lady Hesketh, written during her residence at Olney. 
London, 1825. 

This volume was a deeply interesting one, for in it the public was informed for the first time that 
the Poet in his early days had been deeply in love with his cousin Theodora Jane Cowper, and had 
addressed to her verses enough to make a small volume. The editor, Mr. Croft, was the son of Sir 
Archer Croft, who married the youngest sister of Harriet (Lady Hesketh) and Theodora Cowper. 
The editing of the volume is very bad. The poems are full of misprints, and the prose part 
consists of extracts from Lady Hesketh's letters without arrangement or dates, or any indication 
of the quantity of her correspondence. If these letters are still in existence, the possessor would 
confer a great boon on literature by publishing them, for the great want in the materials for 
Cowper's life are the letters of his friends. He appears not to have preserved them ; not above 
two or three have been published. And this volume of Mr. Croft's is still the only one which 
contains any letters of his cousin and faithful friend, Lady Hesketh. 

In 1835 was published Southey's Life of Cowper. At that time the 

" Private Correspondence " above mentioned (No. 10) was a copyright property, 

though an unsaleable one. Southey's publishers applied to the possessor of it 

for leave to purchase both copyright and remaining stock. Instead of granting 

it, they commissioned a Mr. Grimshawe (brother-in-law of Dr. John Johnson) 



PREFACE. 

to prepare a rival edition to Southey's. Both works therefore came out almost 
together. Grimshawe's contained the copyright correspondence, but beyond this 
had no merit. Southcy, debarred from printing the correspondence, wove the 
gist of it into his biographical narrative. There was some disadvantage in 
this, for it sometimes makes his narrative long and tedious. As soon as the 
copyright in the Private Correspondence ceased it was placed at the end of 
Southey's edition as a supplement. 

Since Southey's there have been many lives written, the only ones calling 
for special remark being those of Robert Bell and of Mr. John Bruce. The 
latter is prefixed to the Aldine Edition. Though it proves that he had taken 
great pains with his subject, and is written in a vigorous, tasteful style, it does 
not contain much that is new. But he had collected much fresh matter in 
the way of letters, which he was preparing to publish when his lamented death 
took place suddenly, in the autumn of 1869. 

Great light has been thrown upon some of the most difficult passages in Cowper's 
life by a series of papers in the Sunday at Home (1866) by the Rev. William 
Bull, of Newport-Pagnell. The same gentleman has also published the life of 
his grandfather, Josiah Bull, one of Cowper's intimate friends, and " Memorials 
of John Newton " (Religious Tract Society, 1869). I have largely availed myself of 
the facts which he has brought to light ; they will be noticed in their proper place. 

The present edition contains some new and interesting matter. 

[1] Some lines written on the margin of the Monthly Review. My authority 
for them is an anonymous correspondent of the Record newspaper of Feb. 20, 
1867. Minute examination leaves no doubt of their genuineness. P. 356, and 
note. 

[2] "To a Young Lady, with a Present of two Cockscombs." P. 347. 

[3] " To a Lady who wore a Lock of his Hair." P. 355. 

For the two last we are indebted to Mr. Charles Stuart. The MSS. are 
pasted inside the lid of an edition of 1793, which was given to him by Mrs. 
Lyon. She vouched for their genuineness, having received them from the Rev. 
J. A. Knight, to whom they had been given by Lady Austen. The former of 
them had already reached Mr. Bruce from another source, which is of course an 
additional proof of genuineness. Of the deep interest attaching to the last piece 
I have spoken in the Memoir, p. liv. 



The arrangement of the Poems in the present edition is as follows :— 
I. Those written in youth, comprising No. II, as above named, along with a 
few others (indicated in the Notes), taken from other sources, but placed here as 
belonging to the same period. This division occupies pp. 1-23 of the present 
volume. 



b 



xx PREFACE. 

2. The Olney Hymns, pp. 24-44. 

3. The first published volume, pp. 45-179. 

4. The second published volume, pp. 181-309. 

5. Poems added by the Author in later editions of his works, pp. 311-325. 

6. Poems written in middle and later life, but never published by the Author 
among his works, pp. 327-400. 

7. Translations, pp. 403-512. 

No notes are placed at the foot of the page, except those that were written by 
the Author himself. It was thought better to put my own Notes at the end, so as 
to present an unbroken page — easy to do in this case, because, except in the transla- 
tions from Milton, there are few recondite allusions in Cowper's works. But I hope 
it will be found that all needful explanations have been given, and that the Notes 
are more complete than in any other edition. I have not burdened them with 
discussion of every variation in reading, only naming these in special cases. But 
all the editions have been most scrupulously and carefully collated, and each 
reading has been duly weighed. 

In my frequent references to Macaulay's Essays and Mahon's (Lord Stanhope's) 
History, necessary to explain Cowper's allusions, it may save time to mention that 
I have always used the " People's Edition" of Macaulay, and the " Cabinet" of 
Mahon. 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



Both by father and mother Cowper was of gentle blood. His father's family is 
traced back without interruption to the time of Edward IV., when the Cowpers 
were possessors of land at Strode, in the parish of Slinfold, in Sussex. His mother 
was Ann, daughter of Roger Donne of Ludham Hall, Norfolk, of the same family 
as Dr. Donne, the Dean of St. Paul's, and said to be "descended through four 
different lines from King Henry III."* 

A younger member of the Cowper family, leaving Strode in the possession of 
his elder brother, settled in London in the reign of Henry VIII., married an 
heiress, Margaret Spencer, and bought an estate at Nonington, in Kent. His 
son John, f Alderman of London, who died in 1609, was the father of Sir William, 
the first baronet. Sir William is noteworthy for his love and reverence for 
Hooker, "his spiritual father," as Walton calls him. It was he who erected 
the monument to the great divine in Bishopsbourne Church, and composed the 
epitaph for it, which will not be out of place here. 

" Though nothing can be spoke worthy his fame, 
Or the remembrance of that precious name, 
Judicious Hooker ; though this cost be spent 
On him that hath a lasting monument 
In his own books ; yet ought we to express, 
• If not his worth, yet our respectfulness. 

Church ceremonies he maintain'd ; then why 

Without all ceremony should he die ? 

Was it because his life and death should be 

Both equal patterns of humility? 

Or that, perhaps, this only glorious one 

Was above all, to ask, why had he none ? 

Yet he that lay so long obscurely low, 

Doth now preferr'd to greater honours go. 

Ambitious men, learn hence to be more wise, 

Humility is the true way to rise : 

And God in me this lesson did inspire, 

To bid this humble man, ' Friend, sit up higher.' " 

Sir William was an ardent Churchman and Royalist, and was imprisoned with 
his son John during the Commonwealth. The latter died in prison, leaving an 

* Johnson's Memoir, p. xii. 

t Up to this time the name was spelt Cooper, and it has never been pronounced otherwise by 
the family. He altered it, probably in affectation of the Norman spelling " Cupere," or 
" Coupre," as the names appear in the roll of Battle Abbey. Many of the family, however, 
retained the old spelling for some time after. In Lord Campbell's Life of Chancellor Cowper, we 
have one or two letters signed " Wm. Cooper." 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



infant son, who on Sir William's death in 1664 succeeded to the title, and by 
his marriage with one Sarah Holled became father of two sons, William and 
Spencer. The former became Lord Chancellor, and an Earl, in 1706. Spencer 
having been tried for murder and acquitted,* became Chief Justice of Chester, 
and a Judge of the Common Pleas. He died in 1728, leaving three sons, 
William, John, and Ashley, and several daughters. One of these married Colonel 
Madan, and became the mother of Martin Madan, whose name will occur several 
times in this volume, and of Frances Maria, who married her cousin Major Cowper, 
and became one of Cowper's constant correspondents. 

The second of the three sons became the Rev. John Cowper, Chaplain to King 
George II. , and Rector of Great Berkhamstead. He married Ann Donne ; and 
at the rectory (or as her son afterwards called it, "the pastoral house") she 
gave birth to the future poet on the 26th of November (o. s. 15th), 1 731. The 
house Mas pulled clown to make room for a new rectory about thirty years ago. 
Hi, parents had five other children, all of whom died in infancy except John. He 
lived until manhood, but his birthday was a heavy day for Berkhamstead par- 
sonage. The mother died at the age of thirty-four. f It was the 14th of November, 
1 737- William therefore was just six years old. In what sacred remembrance 
the gentle child held her love and care of him we shall find in more than 
one passage of his life. When heavy clouds gathered round his spirit in years 
after, and seemed altogether to hide the blessing of God from him, the image of 
his mother remained clear in his memory, one bright spot which told him that 
there was a Heaven above. The gift of her picture, which he received fifty-three 
years after her death, gave him the occasion to pour out all his love and gratitude 
in what is probably the most touching elegy in the English language. 

The death of his mother, generally the heaviest loss which a child can 
have, was a more than ordinary calamity here. He was delicate in body, 
sensitive and nervous in mind. His father, zealous towards his flock, and, ac- 
cording to his son's testimony, labouring to do them good, appears not to 
have undei child's extreme need of sympathy and care. Within a 

year of his mother's death the poor boy was sent to school at a Dr. Pitman's, 
it Markyate Street, a straggling, unattractive village between St. Alban's and 
Dunstable. There he remained for two years, the victim of systematic bullying 
from some of his school companion.. His shyness, sensibility, ill-health, were 
all converted into means of tormenting him. There was one boy in particular 
who persecuted him so relentlessly that Cowper writes in his autobiography, 
"I had such a dread of him, that I did not dare lift my eyes to his face. I 

* Lord Campbell gives the case at length (Chancellors, iv. =60). He decides that the 
verdict was a righteous one, though the case was not without suspicion. Macaulay (History 
of England, chapter x.w. ) holds the charge to be absolutely groundless, got up out of nothing 
but political spite. 

t She is buried within the altar-rails of Berkhamstead Church. 



LXTRODUCTOR V MEMOIR. 



knew him best by his shoe-buckle." This cruelty was at length discovered, 
the brute was expelled, and Cowper was removed from the school. 

Meanwhile another trouble had fallen upon the child, inflammation of the 
eyes. Accordingly, he spent the next two years in the house of an oculist, 
leading a dull, and apparently not a healthy, life. However, his sight became 
better, and at ten years of age his father sent him to Westminster. 

Cowper has spoken at great length in his autobiography of the religious feelings 
and fancies of his boyish days. These need not detain us. Most children have 
strong though often transient religious impressions, and there is little in his 
account of his own which has not probably befallen other boys. Later in life 
he looked back upon his feelings through the light of his morbid fancies, and 
exaggerated their significance. 

It would be more to the purpose if we could discover anything concerning the 
religious teaching which he received in his childhood, for unquestionably it left 
its mark upon him for many a year. All writers agree in holding that it was an 
evil time both in faith and practice. The company in which Mr. Pattison found 
himself in his excellent Essay on t/ie Religions Thought of the i%tk Century* has 
somewhat discredited that essay. But it is at any rate valuable for our present 
purpose, as gathering up into short compass the characteristics of the time in 
which young Cowper was brought up. " It was a period," writes Mr. Pattison in 
the opening of his essay, "of decay of religion, licentiousness of morals, public 
corruption, profaneness of language, — a day of rebuke and blasphemy. Even 
those who look with suspicion on the contemporary complaints from the Jacobite 
clergy of 'decay of religion,' will not hesitate to say that it was an age destitute 
of depth and earnestness ; an age whose poetry was without romance, whose 
philosophy was without insight, and whose public men were without character ; 
an age of 'light without love,' whose very merits were of the earth, earthy." 

This is certainly true in the general, though there are certain qualifications 
which the author makes in the course of his essay. Our concern at this moment 
is with the theology of the period. And that may be summed up in a word — it was 
the period of the Evidences. Let us hear Mr. Pattison once more. "Dogmatic 
theology had ceased to exist ; the exhibition of religious truth for practical 
purposes was confined to a few obscure writers. Every one who had anything to 
say on sacred subjects drilled it into an array of arguments against a supposed 
objector. Christianity appeared made for nothing else but to be 'proved;' what 
use to make of it when it was proved was not much thought about. The only 
quality in Scripture which was dwelt on was its credibility" 

We may, then, fairly suppose that the worthy Rector of Berkhamstead was 
on a par with his brother clergy — that he would preach against the Deists, and 
marshal his arguments as well as he could ; but that he would not go beyond 



* No. VI. in " Essays and Reviews 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



this, nor exhibit in his sermons the depth and experience of the Christian life. 
If we add to this the tenderness and gentle piety of his wife, with little know- 
ledge of religious differences or dogmatics, we shall probably be very near the 
mark in estimating the influences under which the child received his first reli- 
gious instruction. That the Established religion was the true one, and could 
be proved so, that it promoted virtue and morality, this the boy must have been 
taught from the beginning ; and probably not much beyond it. The death of 
his mother removed the last chance which remained of anything beyond intellectual 
teaching. And that this is not theology, but only the surrounding of it, that 
it cannot satisfy the spirit of man, many a one besides Cowper has found. 
He mentions in one of his letters, that when he was eleven years old his father 
gave him a treatise in favour of Suicide, and requested him to give his opinions 
upon it. It does not seem a high proof of parental wisdom. The oculist's house- 
hold too, if the autobiography is not hard upon him, was unfavourable to religious 
feeling, and the atmosphere of Westminster School not much less so. The head 
master, Dr. Xicholls, in preparing him for Confirmation, made some impression 
upon him, he says, but it was transient. It had no root, and withered away. He 
did not apparently commit any great acts of sin, but he grew careless about religious 
things, and ceased to pray. Let it be considered that the mocking laughter of 
Fielding was now in full vigour, in entire harmony with a wide-spread public opinion, 
and that it was holding up to unsparing ridicule what the boy had been taught 
to look upon as religion, and we shall hardly wonder that he was fascinated by 
the daring and recklessness of it, and, conscious of that, began to look upon 
himself as a young reprobate, at enmity with God. 

Such thoughts, however, would be soon done with, and his life at Westminster 
seems to have been a very happy one. He not only became an excellent scholar, 
but was a good cricketer and football player ; * and was popular both with masters 
and boys. The usher of his form was Vincent Bourne (celebrated for his Latin 
poetry), t another usher was Dr. Pierson Lloyd. Among his schoolfellows were 
Robert Lloyd (son of the doctor), Warren Hastings and his future enemy Impey, 
George Colman, Charles Churchill, George Cumberland, and William Russell. 
His intimacy with these at school was for the most part brought to an end, as is 
usual in such cases, by their parting. But we shall see how various passages in 
the course of his life brought back the memory of old times. Of all his friend- 
ships here the warmest were those with Russell and Lloyd. The former was, a 
few years later, drowned while bathing, at a time when Cowper was in deep 
distress from another cause. He has blended both sorrows together in an effusion 
which shows how deep the love between them was (p. 15). 

Lloyd was a clever, showy youth, who in due course graduated at Cambridge, and 
became, like his father, an u?her at Westminster. But the irregularities <A his life, 

t :~ce jp :;; and 472, and notes or. :' 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



and his impatience of steady work, brought this to an end, and he betook himself to 
the precarious profession of literature. A clever poem called " The Actor " gained a 
very favourable reception ; and Cowper, who made swans, not unfrequently, of very 
small geese, called him "the successor of Prior/' Public taste has not ratified 
the verdict, and Lloyd is no longer reckoned among the English poets. His 
poetical abilities were undoubtedly good, but his habitual indolence, which prevented 
him from seeking worthy materials, as well as from bestowing the needful labour 
upon what he wrote, blighted his hopes. 

Churchill's poems were of a much higher order. What can be said in mitigation 
of the follies and excesses of his life has been said admirably by Mr. Forster.* 
Lloyd, who is said to have been attached to Churchill's sister, took to his bed on 
hearing of his death, saying, "Ah! I shall soon follow poor Charles." The 
one died in November, the other in December, 1764. The way in which Cowper 
afterwards spoke of these friends is very characteristic of him. In the abstract he 
was not only most indignant at wrong-doing, but he was censorious ; ready to 
take an unfairly bad view of motives, as well as to condemn trivial faults without 
measure. He denounces oratorios, chess, whist-playing, and smoking, as severely 
as he does breaches of the moral law. But when he afterwards came across 
a smoker in the person of his friend Bull, his anger and scorn were over and 
done with directly. In the estimate of all his personal acquaintances he was the 
most charitable of men. And so when the voice of society pronounced Churchill 
only a good-for-nothing rake, Cowper took occasion to express his hearty admiration 
of the man.t Macaulay, speaking of his chivalrous sonnet to Warren Hastings, 
attributes it to Cowper's partiality. J Xo doubt ; yet Cowper's estimate is still, 
not improbably, a righteous one. Intimate knowledge of men shows that none are 
devils, and the tone of affection which comes natural to us need not be out of 
unison with the voice of heavenly love, which has bidden us judge none, but hope 
the best of all. So different as these two men were, Cowper learned his poetic 
style from the works of Churchill. The versification is very similar, and the 
realism which Churchill revived with such felicitous results to our literature was 
taken up by Cowper. It may be mentioned here that his first poem (p. 1), written 
while he was still at Westminster, was an imitation of John Philips' " Splendid 
Shilling." Its easy and finished rhythm proves that it was by no means the only 
attempt of the kind. He says in one of his letters, that he translated an elegy 
of Tibullus when he was fourteen. He also read the English poets with delight, 
especially Milton and Cowley. With regard to Milton, he says that he was quite 
unhappy because he had not made his acquaintance till he was fourteen, and so 
the previous years had suffered a loss which could never be made up. He apj ears 
to have known Milton nearly by heart. 

* " Defoe and Churchill." Two Essays, by John Forster. 

t Table Talk, p. 62. % Essays, voL ii. p. 1^3. 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



He left Westminster in 1748, and was entered of the Middle Temple. After 
spending nine months in his father's house, he was articled for three years to a 
solicitor, Mr. Chapman, of Ely Place, Holbom. Not far off, in Southampton 
Row, lived his uncle Ashley, afterwards Clerk of the Parliaments. * He had three 
daughters ; two of them, Harriet and Theodora, were ripening into womanhood. 
It was arranged that William was to visit them every Sunday, and this soon led 
to his being there continually on week-days. He was "to be found there," he 
said afterwards, "from morning to night, giggling and making giggle." In this 
pleasant occupation he was much assisted by a fellow-clerk at Mr. Chapman's, 
whom he had introduced at his uncle's house. This clerk, Edward Thurlow by 
name, was Cowper's junior by a few months. He had been educated at the 
King's School, Canterbury, and afterwards at Cambridge ; and though way- 
ward, and given to continual breaches of discipline, had been able, by fits of 
application and hard work, to make himself a good scholar. In like manner 
now, though he lounged about places of amusement and drank much punch, he 
contrived to give himself a good knowledge of law. Cowper saw the young 
man's great powers, and his knack of turning to account everything that he 
acquired, and one day said to him: "Thurlow, I am nobody, and shall always 
be nobody, and you will be Lord Chancellor. You shall provide for me when 
you are!" Thurlow smiled and said, "I surely will!" "These ladies are 
witnesses," said Cowper. "Let them be," answered Thurlow, "for I will cer- 
tainly do it." The same prophecy had been made to Thurlow when a little 
boy, by a clergyman named Leach, and possibly the repetition of it by Cowper 
led to this lightly-made compact now. Cowper's prophecy was fulfilled, but not 
Thurlow's promise. 

Thus, pleasantly rather than profitably, the three years of clerkship went by, 
and when they were ended Cowper was deeply in love with Theodora, and 
his love was as tenderly returned. The progress of this courtship, the quarrels and 
renewals of love, the young gentleman's bashfulness, and his increased care for his 
personal appearance, — all these things are described for us, as well as such matters 
can be, in the poems which courtship praduced. I cannot at all agree with .Mi. 
Bell's judgment of them. "Cowper," he says, "was not capable of very strong 
emotions. The shadow of love seems to have hovered about him, but he was 
indifferent to the reality. We look in vain for the fervour of a youthful devotion." 
Whilst the young poet was pluming his wings, consciously imitating others, it is no 
wonder that some of these early love pieces are artificial. To me at least it is 
nt that his passion became anything but a shadow "which made no lasting 
impression upon him." Cowper was very reserved all his life on other matters 

* Ashley Cowper was a very little man, and he used to wear a white hat lined with yellow. On 
which two facts Cowper once expressed his opinion that it would not be surprisin2 if some day he 
should be "picked" by mistake for a mushroom, and popped into a basket. 



IX IRODUCTOR V MEMOIR. 



besides this, but I believe that his love-affair affected the whole of his life very 
deeply. 

For a while the course of love ran tolerably smooth. But when, on the expira- 
tion (jf his clerkship, he went into residence at the Temple, in 1752, a fresh shadow 
soon fell upon his course. Seclusion had its natural effect upon the nervous sensitive 
youth, and he had hard work to drive melancholy away. He tried first medicine, 
then religiosity, reading George Herbert, and "composing a set of prayer-.. 
Herbert, he says, relieved him a good deal: "I found in him a strain of piety 
which I could not but admire." But "a very near and dear relation" (probably 
Madan) disapproved of Herbert, and he was laid aside. His friends found a 
better cure for morbidness in taking him away for change of scene. He went with 
Mr. Hesketh, the affianced lover of his cousin Harriet, to Southampton, and re- 
mained some months there. In his autobiography he gives more of his morbid 
feelings and thoughts here, which we again pass by. At length, much relieved, he 
returned to London in 1754, and was called to the Bar. But Ashley Cowper soon 
saw, or had already seen, enough of his nephew's aptitude for business to induce 
him to take an important step. He refused to sanction his daughter's engagement. 
The young lady pleaded with such earnestness as to shake his resolution for a while, 
but he returned to it, and after a considerable interval, during which some commu- 
nication was still allowed, he forbade the lovers from meeting. The young lady 
regretfully submitted, and they never saw each other again. And Cowper never 
mentions her in any of his poems or letters. Nor does he write of love in ^/ 
any of his future poems. That he was mortified and angry appears from several 
slight but unmistakeable proofs. Meanwhile few will read without pity the effusions 
belonging to the latter part of his courtship, evidently the faithful picture of his 
alternating hopes and fears, until all hope was at an end.* The effect upon 
Theodora was deep and lasting. She never loved again, but always took the 
deepest interest in hearing about him. She read his poems with eagerness, and 
afterwards, as we shall see, showed her unaltered affection in a more substantial 
way. The verses which he had written to her she treasured up until the close of 
her life. Then, at a time when she also had apparently sunk into melancholy, she 
gave them in a sealed packet, for reasons which can only be guessed at, to a friend, 
directing that the packet should be opened after her death. The friend and she 
died nearly together, in 1824, and the sealed packet was then sent to her nephew- 
Mr. Croft. He published them the following year, as we have already told.t 

Other sorrows had fallen on Cowper besides the loss of his love. His father 
died in July 1756; and although Cowper's connexion with Berkhamstead had 
never been continuous since his mother's death, he had always retained a warm 
affection for it. The connexion now ceased entirely ; and he says the parting 
with it was most bitter to him. His father had married again, and the widow 

* Pa.res 11 — 15. t P. xviii. No. 12. 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



continued to reside there. But her stepson and she, though friendly, were not 
intimate, and he never visited her, though they occasionally corresponded. She 
died not very long afterwards. His brother John was now at Cambridge, studying 
for holy orders. 

The profession of a barrister is generally more honourable than lucrative for the 
first few years. It certainly was so in Cowper's case, for it is doubtful whether he 
ever had a brief.* He moved from the Middle to the Inner Temple, and bought 
chambers there for ^250. The little money which he had was fast diminishing, and 
his father's death warned him that this was a matter which would have to be attended 
to without loss of time. One or two of his letters exist, written at this time ; he 
speaks lightly on the matter, t but one may say with tolerable certainty that a 
very anxious heart lay beneath the jesting manner, and that the anxiety increased 
every day. Though this may not have been the cause of the melancholy which 
soon after appeared, the forced hilarity is painful enough when one knows what 
followed. He was made a Commissioner of Bankrupts about this time through 
family influence, which brought him £t>o a year. 

He was now a member of the Nonsense Club,% consisting of some old "West- 
minsters," among them Robert Lloyd and Colman. The leading member wis 
Bonnell Thornton, another old Westminster boy, but much Cowper's senior. He 
had already made several essays in authorship, before he started, in company 
with Colman, the Connoisseur. The first number was published January 31, 1754* 
and it was continued weekly, until September 30, 1756. Cowper contributed a few 
papers to the last volume. The following were his. g I take the titles from the 
table of contents to the volumes. 

No. in. — Letter, containing the character of the delicate Billy Suckling. 

No. 115. — Letter from Christopher Ironside, an old Bachelor, complaining of the indignities 

received by him from the ladies. 
No. 119. — Of keeping a secret. — Characters of faithless confidantes. 
No. 134. — Letter from Mr. Village, giving an account of the present state of Country 

Churches, their Clergy, and their Congregations. 
No. 138. — On Conversation. The chief pests of Society pointed out. Those "who converse 

irrationally, considered as imitating the language of different animals. 

* A letter to Hill, dated October 10, 1767, after asking a law question, contains the following: 
" You are a better counsellor than I was, but I think you have much such a client in me as I 
had in Dick Harcourt." 

t "This provokes me, that a covetous dog who will work by candlelight in the morning, to get 
what he does not want, shall be praised for his thriftiness, while a gentleman shall be abused for 
submitting to his wants, rather than work like an ass to relieve them. . . There are some sensible 
folks, who, having great estates, have wisdom enough to spend them properly ; there are others, 
who are not less wise, perhaps, as knowing how to shift without 'em. . . This is a strange epistle, 
nor can I imagine how the devil I came t>> write it." Letter to Roiuley, September 2, 1762. 

1 The Nonsense Club originated the " Exhibition of Sign Painters," a piece of drollery which, 
without giving offence, made much fun of the newly-opened Royal Academy. It consisted of a 
number of daubs, with humorous descriptions in the catalogue, and was very successful. 

§ The evidence of their authorship is as follows : Southey says they are "all attributed to the 
same author in the concluding pages of the volume." (Life, vol. i. p. 325.) But this is a mistake, 
for the words at the end of the volume are, " From a friend, a gentleman of the Temple, we 



IXTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



More than this, he "produced several half-penny ballads, two or three of which 
had the honour to become popular."* It is unfortunate that they are lust, for half- 
penny ballads by the Author of "John Gilpin" would certainly have been worth 
preserving. He also contributed a few papers to the St. James s Chronicle, of which 
Thornton and Colman were part proprietors. He kept up his classical studies 
also, especially that of Homer, and translated two books of Voltaire's " Henriade, " 
said to have been published in a magazine in 1 759. The humorous ode given at 
p. 21 of this volume was printed in the St. James s Chronicle. It was not signed 
with his name, and there is no direct evidence to prove that it was his ; but as 
Southey thought it to be so, all succeeding editions have included it. (See note 
on it.) 

But by the time that ode was published, a dreadful calamity had fallen upon 
Cowper. He had gone mad. We have seen already that he had had melancholy 
fits at school. The opening lines of his Epistle to Lloyd (p. 9), written in 1754, 1/ 
show that these fits had taken an intenser form, and, as we have said, his fears 
of poverty probably made matters worse. An event which happened in 1763, 
which for the moment filled him with joy, brought the catastrophe. The Clerk of 
the Journals of the House of Lords died, and the gentleman who held the two 
offices of Reading Clerk and Clerk of Committees resigned at the same time. 
The right of presentation to all the appointments belonged to Major Cowper, who 
immediately offered the two most lucrative of them to his cousin. The offer was 
no sooner accepted, than Cowper began to reproach himself with having wished 
for the former holder's death, and therefore being a murderer. First one fancy, 
then another. After a Meek he begged his cousin to give the more lucrative 
places to a friend, a Mr. Arnold, and the poorest, the Clerkship of the Journals, 
to himself. With a little demur (for in the eyes of the world, which did not 
know the circumstances, there would be some suspicion of bribery) the Major 
consented to this, and for a week or two there was calm. 

But very soon came another obstacle. A powerful party in the Lords contested 
the Major's right to nominate. An inquiry was begun, and the new clerk was 
told that he must give evidence of qualification at the bar of the House. At 
this news he broke down again, not immediately, for he tried and tried again 
for more than half a year to prepare for examination, but all was of no use. Each 
day his terrors increased; a visit to Margate checked them, for a letter exists written 

received Nos. in, 115, and nq." The other two are not referred to. They, with No. 119, are given 
as Cowper s by Hayley, whose authority in this matter is conclusive. He siys' " During 
Cowper's visit to Eartham, he kindly pointed out to me three of his papers in the last volume 
of the - Connoisseur. I inscribed them with his name at the time, and find other numbers of 
that work ascribed to him, but the three following I print as his, on his own explicit authority." 
(Vol. IV. p. 384.) No. 119 is also mentioned by Cowper himself, in one of his letters, as having 
been written by him. He says that the writing of it had a good effect upon him : " I have never 
b-OKen a secret since." 



* Letter to Newton, Dec. 4, 17S1. 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



to his cousin Harriet, now become Lady Hesketh, in which he is fairly cheerful. 
But on his return the evil spirit returned once more. His cousin came to the Temple 
to see him, but he would not speak to her nor look at her. He has written down a 
long account of these days in his autobiography, but one's memory recoils from it, — 
from the attempts upon his life with laudanum and knife and cord. The last time 
his purpose hardly failed. On that occasion he so far recovered from his dream as 
to be conscience-stricken ; but this brought no relief, nothing but the conviction 
that he was damned beyond hope. 

God knows whether any human means could have drawn him forth out of 
this horrible pit ; but we who behold in Christ the healer of all infirmities, the 
caster-forth of devils, must believe that to have followed His steps by telling of 
the infinite love of God to His creatures might have brought the blessing of health. 
But no such message reached poor Cowper. His cousin Martin Madan, chaplain 
of the Lock Hospital, and a strong Calvinist, came to visit him. He spoke of the 
efficacy of Christ's blood for justification ; and the poor sufferer, as he says, began 
to feel his heart burn within him, and the tears which he had just before declared 
impossible flowed freely, as hope sprang up in his heart. But when Madan began 
with his restrictions, the necessity of certain feelings, the hopelessness of the case in 
which they were absent, this hope was again thrown away. All the confusions and 
fancies of vague thoughts and opinions tossed and surged around him, and that 
faith in God's everlasting love which might have guided him safely was not there. 
He was at the mercy of every wind of vain doctrine. Every text of the Bible, and 
every religious word, was turned into fresh proof that the mouth of hell was opened 
upon him, and he wrote the awful sapphics which are given at p. 23. His relatives, 
rightly judging that there was no other resource left to them, placed him in a lunatic 
asylum at St. Alban's. This was on December 7, 1 763. 

The proprietor of this asylum, Dr. Nathanael Cotton, possessed a high name 
for his professional skill, and was also a man of great moral worth.* He had 
also won considerable popularity as a writer of verse. His "Visions" passed 
through many editions ; and though they are no longer read, they contain a good 
deal of sound sense and practical benevolence. He died in 1788. Under his 
judicious care Cowper slowly recovered. The physician saw this before the patient, 
and summoned his brother. The first meeting was a disappointment, for Cowper 
put on a stiff reserve, but he recovered himself, and improved daily. He was 
now filled with religious fervour ; he had received from his heavenly Father, 
he said, the full assurance of faith, and out of his stony heart had been raised 
up a child unto Abraham. It was a good and righteous conviction, but it did 
not go far enough. It made its foundation upon his own feelings, and not upon 
God's love. His is not the only case where such ecstasy breaks down. In some 
it is followed by desperate plunges into sin again ; in this, despair again after a 

* Notice of his life in Anderson's " Poets," vol. xi. p. 1105. 



INTRODUCTOR Y MEMOIR. 



while supervened. Yet transient feelings of such joy are feelings to be thankful 
for, when we regard them as God's testimony of a love which is not transient of 
an eternal mercy and loving-kindness.* 

Immediately after his recovery he wrote (he hymn at p. 37 : 
" How blessed thy creature is, God." 
What a contrast to the production which he had last written, "Hatred and 
Vengeance " ! 

Though his recovery took place within three or four months after he was sent 
to Dr. Cotton's, Cowpcr continued there for a year, apparently dreading a relapse, 
and unequal to the task of facing the rough world. But he was very poor, and 
already owed Dr. Cotton money, and so determined to remove to some quiet 
home. The hymn at p. 37— 

" Far from the world, O Lord, I flee " — 
was written while thinking over this matter. London he would see no more, and 
he threw up his Commissionership of Bankrupts, and with it nearly all his income 
— to wit, ^"60 a year. His relations, feeling that this was unavoidable, subscribed 
together to make him an annual allowance. 

His brother was now Fellow of St. Benet's College, Cambridge, and he wished 
to find lodgings near him. But none suitable could be found nearer than Hun- 
tingdon, and hither he moved in June 1765, accompanied by a lad who had 
waited on him at Dr. Cotton's. With this exception he was entirely surrounded 
by strangers ; but the quiet tranquil town suited him well. " I do really think 
it the most agreeable neighbourhood I ever saw," he wrote. There were morning 
and evening prayers daily in the church, which he always attended ; there was 
the Ouse for him to bathe in, and many pleasant walks. Some of the residents 
used to send him books and newspapers. The Rector, Mr. Hodgson, and Curate, 
Mr. Nicholson, called upon him, and he liked them both, t Then the brothers met 
every week, at Cambridge and Huntingdon alternately, and this caused him to 
become a horseman. 

Soon after his arrival he was visited by an old London friend, whose name 
has hitherto not been mentioned, but who always held one of the foremost places 
in his affection, Joseph Hill. Nothing is known of his early life, except that 
he had been an old Westminster boy, and also one of the members of the 
Nonsense Club. He was an attorney, living in George Street, Westminster. 
Cowper had introduced him to Thurlow-, who, on his appointment to the Chan- 
cellorship afterwards, made him his secretary. He had kindly managed Cowper's 

* Maurice's " Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament," pp. 33, 34. 

+ "Another acquaintance I have lately made is with a Mr. Nicholson, a north-country divine, 
very poor, but very good and very happy. He reads prayers here twice a day all the year round, 
and travels on foot to serve two churches every Sunday ; his journey out and home again being 
sixteen miles. I supped with him last night. He gave me bread and cheese, and a black jug of 
ale brewed with his own hands." — To Lady Hesketk, September 14, 1765. 



IXTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



affairs during his illness, and now gratuitously made himself his general agent 
in town, disposing of his rooms in the Temple, arranging his money matters, 
and receiving the bounty of his kinsmen. With him and with Lady Hesketh 
Cowper now began that regular correspondence which has won for him the praise 
of being "the best letter writer in the English language. "' His letters to Hill are 
playful, and relate mostly to his finances ; those to Lady Hesketh are entirely of a 
religious character. He is still enraptured with his own religious condition, a:.d 
hints that he would fain see her even as himself. It is evident that though no one 
could have had a higher regard for him, she had little sympathy with his religious 
fervour. We note in passing that she sent him " Hervey's Meditations,'" and that 
he was delighted with it. Besides these, he opened correspondence next year with 
Major Cowper and his wife. The latter, it will be remembered, was also his first 
cousin, sister to Martin Madan, and therefore, in Cowper's present state of feeling, 
a peculiarly acceptable correspondent. Several of his letters to her are a discussion 
of the question of mutual recognition in heaven, he holding the affirmative against 
her negative. From one of them we learn that he had formed an idea of taking 
orders. Fortunately he abandoned it. Meanwhile his finances became embarrassed. 
The following extract from a letter, written less than a fortnight after he got to 
Huntingdon, is amusing, but very much to the purpose. It is addressed to Hill. 

" Dear Joe, — Whatever you may think of the matter, it is no such easy thing to keep house for 
two people. A man cannot always live upon sheeps' heads, and liver and lights, like the lions in 
the Tower ; and a joint of meat, in so small a family, is an endless encumbrance.^ Aly butcher's 
bill for last week amounted to four shillings and tenpence. I set off with a leg of lamb, and was 
forced to give part of it away to a washerwoman. Then I made an experiment upon a sheep's 
heart, and that was too little. Next I put three pounds of beef into a pie, and this had like to have 
been too much, for it lasted three days, though my landlord was admitted to a share in it. Then 
as to small-beer, I am puzzled to pieces about it. I have bought as much for a shilling as will 
serve us at least a month, and it is grown sour already. In short, I never knew how to pity poor 
housekeepers before ; but now I cease to wonder at that politic cast which their occupation usually 
gives to their countenance, for it is really a matter full of perplexity." * 

This prepares us for the announcement by and by that he has "contrived, by 
the help of good management and a clear notion of economical affairs, to spend 
the income of a twelvemonth " between June and September. His relatives 
wrote to scold him for what they considered extravagance, and a few months later 
Colonel (late Major) Cowper threatened to give him nothing more. While this 
correspondence was going on, he recei.ved an anonymous letter, telling him that if 
the threatened withdrawal should take place, he had one who loved and admired 
him, who would supply the deficiency. He thought that Lady Hesketh was the 
writer, but it is more likely, as will be seen hereafter, that it was her sister, 
Cowper's former love. His anxiety was naturally returning. Besides, Huntingdon 
shows to less advantage in the decline of the year than in June, and his outdoor 
pursuits were becoming circumscribed. But at this critical moment a happy 
accident came to his relief. His daily attendance at church, his solitariness, his 

* July 3. 1765- 



IN TROD I'll OR V MEMOIR. 



quiet and thoughtful face, strongly attracted the notice of a young man who 
had just returned home after graduating at Cambridge. He wished to call on 
Mr. Cowper, but his mother was against it, having heard that the stranger did 
not care for company. However, he addressed him one morning after church, 
and was cordially met. They took a walk together, were mutually delighted, 
and Cowper invited him to tea that afternoon. The new acquaintance was 
named William Cawthorne Unwin. 

His father, the Rev. Morley Unwin, had some years before been master of the 
Free School at Huntingdon, but in 1742 had received the college living of Grim- 
ston, in Norfolk. On this appointment he had married .Mary Cawthorne (much 
younger than himself), the pretty, clever daughter of a draper at Ely. Their 
son was baptized at Grimston, March 15, 1744. But Mrs. Unwin did not like 
Grimston,* and persuaded her husband to become non-resident. He returned 
with his two children (for they had now also a daughter) to Huntingdon, where 
he took pupils. Cowper, writing to Hill, describes this family, into which he 
was now introduced, as "the most agreeable people imaginable, quite sociable, 
and free from the ceremonious civility of country gentlefolks. The old gentleman 
is a man of learning and sense, and as simple as Parson Adams.'' He tells 
Lady Hesketh that he has just come from a two hours' walk with Mrs. U., 
and that "the conversation has done him more good than an audience of the 
first prince in Europe." He finds that they "have one faith, and have been 
baptized with the same baptism," and "gives God thanks, who has brought him 
into the society of Christians." 1 

The intimacy increased, and Cowper found himself there constantly. In a few 
weeks (Nov. 1765) a pupil left Mr. Unwin. Cowper then begged to be taken as 
their lodger, and they gladly consented. The first agreement was that he should 
pay them eighty guineas a year ; but when his means threatened to fall short, she 
offered to take half this sum. The following extract from a letter to his cousin, 
Mrs. Cowper, describes their manner of life together: — 

"lam obliged to you for the interest you take in my welfare, and for your inquiring 
so particularly after the manner in which my time passes here. As to amusements, 
I mean what the world calls such, we have none — the place indeed swarms with 
them ; and cards and dancing are the professed business of almost all the gentle 
inhabitants of Huntingdon. We refuse to take part in them, or to be accessaries 

* From a kind and interesting letter which I have received from the Rev. J. Rowland-, the 
present Rector of Grimston, it appears that Mr. Unwin resided at Grimston from 1742 to 1748, 
though it is startling to find that his signature never appears in the church registers hefore 1765. 
This does not prove that he did nothing, for in old registers the Occasional Offices are not each 
attested by the signature of the officiating minister. But the absence of his name altogether, and 
the appearance of his curate's where a signature is needed, proves that the curate did the greater 
part of the work. On his return to Huntingdon he became lecturer at the parish church. The 
parish books contain several resolutions of censure upon him for neglect of his duty, and once he 
was nearly dismissed. Mr. Rowlands gives me reasons for supposing that he resigned Grimston 
in 17:6. 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



to this way of murdering our time, and by so doing have acquired the name of 
Methodists. Having told you how we do not spend our time, I will next say how 
we do. We breakfast commonly between eight and nine; till eleven we read 
either the Scriptures or the sermons of some faithful preacher of those holy 
mysteries; at eleven we attend Divine Service, which is performed here twice every 
day; and from twelve to three we separate and amuse ourselves as Ave please. 
During that interval I either read in my own apartment, or walk, or ride, or work 
in the garden. * We seldom sit an hour after dinner, but, if the weather permits, 
adjourn to the garden, where, with Mrs. Unwin and her son, I have generally the 
pleasure of religious conversation till tea-time. If it rains, or is too windy for 
walking, we either converse within-doors, or sing some hymns of Martin'sf collection, 
and by the help of Mrs. Unwin's harpsichord make up a tolerable concert, in which 
our hearts, I hope, are the best and most musical performers. After tea we sally 
forth to walk in good earnest. Mrs. Unwin is a good walker, and we have 
generally travelled about four miles before we see home again. When the days are 
short, we make this excursion in the former part of the day, between church-time 
and dinner. At night we read and converse, as before, till supper, and com- 
monly finish the evening either with hymns or a sermon, and, last of all, the 
family are called to prayers. I need not tell you that such a life as this is consistent 
with the utmost cheerfulness; accordingly we are all happy, and dwell together in 
unity as brethren." 

We must give one more extract — a proof of his sensitiveness, or rather of his 
high-minded conscientiousness. William Unwin was going to London, and Cowper 
gave him' an introduction to Mrs. Cowper. In writing afterwards to thank her 
for her courteous reception of his friend, he goes on to denounce his own vile and 
deceitful heart. He had wanted Unwin to call on her, because there were people 
who looked down upon him, and had even gone the length of calling him "that 
fellow Cowper;" so he could not resist the opportunity of furnishing the Unwins 
with ocular demonstration of his high connexion. Upon this discovery of his own 
heart he bursts out : 

"Oh Pride ! Pride ! it deceives with the subtlety of a serpent, and seems to walk erect, though it 
crawls upon the earth. How will it twist and twine itself about to get from under the Cross 
which it is the glory of our Christian calling to be able to bear with patience and good-will. They 
who can guess at the heart of a stranger, and you especially, who are of a compassionate temper, 
will be more ready, perhaps, to excuse me, in this instance, than I can be to excuse myself. But, 
in good truth, it was abominable pride of heart, indignation, and vanity, and deserves no better 
name. How should such a creature be admitted into those pure and sinless mansions, where nothing 
shall enter that defdeth, did not the blood of Christ, applied by tin- hand of faith, take away the 
guilt <>f sin, and leave no spot or stain behind it? Oh what continual need have 1 of an Almighty, 
\ll-sufficient Saviour ! " (April 3, 1767.) • 



* He says in another letter : " I am become a great florist and shrub-doctor. If the Major can 
make up a small packet of seeds for a garden where there is little but jessamine and honey- 
suckle, I will promise to take great care ot them." 

f Martin Madan. Mrs. Cowper's brother. He had some musical skill. The popular tun< 
ffelnislcy, " Lo ! He comes with clouds descending," was composed by him. 



I.XTR OD I 'CTOR \ ' MEMOIR. 



The tranquil life at Huntingdon was destroyed by a sudden blow. < >u the 2Sth 
[une. 1767, Mr. Unwin, while riding to church, was thrown from his horse, fractured 
his skull, and died four days afterward-. The two children were started in life. 
William was ordained to a curacy, and his sister* was soon afterwards married to 
the Rev. Matthew Powley, Vicar of Dewsbury. It was necessary for Mrs. Unwin 
to remove, and Cow per determined to go with her, as her behaviour to him had 
'always been that of a mother to a son,"' and, moreover, "Mr. Unwin had 
intimated to his wife his desire that if she survived him, Mr. Cowper might still 
dwell with her." t 

A few days after Unwin's death, the Rev. John Newton, Curate of Olney, on his 
way thither from Cambridge, had stayed at Huntingdon, and called on Mrs. Unw in, 
at the request of a friend. Much interested both in her and Cowper, he agreed, 
at their request, to look out for a house for them. He soon found them one at 
Olney, and they removed thither on the 14th of September, 1767. 

The Rev. John Newton, under whose influence Cowper was thus brought, was 

about five years his senior. He had passed through the strangest vicissitudes of 

fortune. In his youth he had been a sailor of idle and vicious habits, had been 

flogged for desertion, and was only prevented from drowning himself by fearing that 

the lady whom he afterwards married would form a bad opinion of him. He 

suffered frightful miseries in a slave plantation at Sierra Leone, and after being 

released was shipwrecked on his way home, and barely saved his life. This event, 

which he was always wont to call his "Great Deliverance," changed his character 

altogether. He resolved to lead a new- life, and kept the resolution. Looking upon 

this as a special interposition of Providence on his behalf, he was a Calvinist from 

that time. He soon became master of a vessel, and for the next four years was 

engaged on the sea. From this time until his death, he kept a diary, of which 

the following passage is the opening, dated Dec. 22, 1 75 1 : — 

* "I dedicate unto Thee, most blessed God, this clean, unsullied book ; and at the same time 
renew my tender of a foul, blotted, corrupt heart. Be pleased, O Lord, to assist me with the 
influences of Thy Spirit to fill the one in a manner agreeable to Thy will, and by Thy all-sufficient 
grace to overpower and erase the ill impressions sin and the world have from time to time made in 
the other, so that both my public converse and retired meditation may testify that I am indeed Thy 
servant, redeemed, renewed, and accepted in the sufferings, merit, and mediation of my Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory, honour, and 
dominion, world without end. Amen." 

Then he goes on to detail the holy resolutions which he has made; amongst them 
is one to set apart a special day "to recommend himself and his concerns, his 
journey and his voyage," to the blessing of God. He speaks of his devotions with 
his crew, and ever and anon writes down prayers of intense and unquestionable 
earnestness. And at the end of his voyage he expresses his thankfulness to God 
for having prospered him so well. It may not have occurred to the reader to 
ask what was the business in which he was engaged. But it was the slave-trade. 

"" She lived till 1835, dying at the age of eighty-nine. 

+ This latter statement is made by Newton. (Bull's Memorials, p. 157.) 



INTRODUCTOR V MEMOIR. 



Forty years later, when Wilberforce was moving heaven and earth for abolition, 
Newton preached on the same side, and wrote his "Thoughts upon the African 
Slave-Trade, " denouncing it unsparingly. "I am bound in conscience," he says, 
"to take shame to myself by a public confession, which, however sincere, comes 
too late to prevent or repair the misery and mischief to which I have formerly 
been accessory." And he adds,— what is probably just, — "Perhaps what I have 
said of myself may be applicable to the nation at large. The slave-trade was 
always unjustifiable, but inattention and self-interest prevented for a time the evil 
from being perceived." Newton's religiousness was unquestionably sincere and 
real, but his morality in this matter cannot be said to be of the highest kind, and 
both now and after he displays a want of deep reflection, as well as some selfishness 
of character. His "Cardiphonia" contains passages which are hardly surpassed for 
their beauty and earnest zeal towards God. And there, more than anywhere else 
that I know of, the large-heartedness of the man appears. He has come to the 
conclusion, even in the first letter (1775), that "observation and experience con- 
tribute, by the grace of God, gradually to soften and sweeten our spirits;" that 
Protestants, Papists, Socinians, are all his neighbours ; and that he must not expect 
them to see with his eyes. Here speaks the man, not the theologian ; for his 
sight was narrow as his heart was large. He is always seeking to interpret every 
"dispensation ;" if he cannot do it at the moment, he is sure the interpretation 
will soon come. He cannot understand why Molly P. should have the small-pox 
at such an inconvenient time, and is surprised that his prayers for her have not 
yet been heard. In short, no man perhaps ever had a stronger faith in God's 
personal love for him ; but that " the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof," 
was more apparently than had taken possession of his mind. The same kind of 
spirit is shown in his taking a lottery ticket some years afterwards, supposing that 
" his vow and his design of usefulness therein sanctioned his hope that the Lord 
would give him a prize."* 

Severe illness brought Newton's seafaring life to an end, and he obtained the 
post of tide surveyor at Liverpool. During the time that he held it he was brought 
much into contact with Whitefield, and to some degree also with Wesley. In 1764, 
after difficulties which he showed great courage in overcoming, he was ordained 
to the curacy of Olney. There can be no question that the step was taken from a 
love for the souls of men, and that it was done at a great personal sacrifice. The 
same year he made the acquaintance of Wilberforce, and of John Thornton, t 

* I cannot forbear referring to Sir James Stephen's wise and weighty words concerning Newton. 
T had not read them until the above was in type, but it is gratifying to be able to claim him in 
support of mv view. Essay on the Evangelical Succession, p. 114. 

t John Thornton was born in 1720, and succeeded his father as a Russian merchant. He was 
remarkably keen and skilful in business, and to the end of his life was always on the look-out for 
good investments. There is a story that he strolled along Cork harbour, when an old man, saw a 
freight of tallow come in, and made a vast sum by buying it at once, then strolled into a 
nursery ground, and with the profits he had just made set an impoverished man on his feet. But 
his greatest acts of generosity, whether wise or unwise, were towards ministers of religion. He 



TNTRODUCTOR V MEMOIR. 



The latter formed so high an opinion of him that he made him an allowance of 
/"200 a year, mainly with the view of enabling him to keep open house, and so to 
influence the more people for good. 

The labours of Newton (who lived till 1807) are of course no part of our subject, 
except so far as they illustrate Cowper's life. To the latter wc therefore now pass on. 

The house in which he now took up his residence is in the market-place at 
Olney. It was called Orchard Side. The vicarage, in which Newton lived, was 
close by, and he said afterwards that for twelve years he and Cowper were hardly ever 
twelve hours apart. "The first six,'' he adds, "were spent in admiring and trying to 
imitate him; during the second six I walked with him in the shadow of death." 

Olney lies on the Ouse at the northern extremity of Buckinghamshire.* It is 
not an attractive town, and the staple occupations of its inhabitants, and whole 
neighbourhood, lacemaking and strawplaiting, were, and still are, very prejudicial 
to health, wealth, and godliness. The vicar, Moses Browne, was an absentee 
through debt, and there were no gentry. Cowper was commonly known there as 
"Sir Cowper." Newton fell in with the popular appellation, and calls him so 
often in his letters. Cowper says, later, in one of his letters, " "We have 

" One parson, one poet, one bellman, nie crier, 
And the poor poet is the only squire." 

To minister among the poor here was a task requiring great energy and courage. 

arduous and, as far as this world is concerned, thankless. Newton, who had 

wonderful bodily strength and nerve, enjoyed it thoroughly, but certainly it was not 

suitable labour for the nervous, sensitive invalid, who now under Newton's guidance 

undertook it. He visited indefatigably, and read and prayed with the sick. 

Newton had started prayer-meetmgs at an uninhabited house in the town 

belonging to Lord Dartmouth, — the "Great House" it was called, — and the 

heat and excitement of these may be judged by any one who reads Newton's 

account. We need not say what a contrast such devotions were to the daily 

prayers in Huntingdon Church, and few will doubt that the change was not 

for the better to Cowper. But who would not tremble for the result when 

we add to this that he himself was called to take part in, sometimes to lead, 

the extempore prayers— he who had said of himself, when called on to qualify 

for his clerkship, " that doing anything in public was mortal poison ' to him ! 

Mr. Bull quotes the saying of some one who was there, that he never 

heard praying that equalled Mr. Cowper's." But it was at a terrible cost. 

Nor was this all. He lost his regular exercise. He had been accustomed 

to a quiet evening walk, but "now," he says to Lady Hesketh, "we have 

sermon or lecture every evening, which lasts till supper-time." 

bought up livings, and bestowed them on " truly religious" ministers His sifter married Wilber- 
force's uncle, and the Evangelicalism of Wilberforce was owing to this connexion. Thornton 
died in 1790. It was his brother-in-law, Dr. Conyers, who introduced Xewton to Cowper. 

* The mo-t interesting description which has been written of Olney and its neighbourhood is 
that of Hugh Miller, in his " First Impressions of England-" 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



Mr. Bull gives several letters from Mr. Newton belonging to this period. 
That they breathe real piety needs not to be said ; but they are not 
altogether pleasing to read. Instead of enlarging upon God's care for His 
creatures, and His mercy toward every soul which seeks after Him, he gives 
highly-wrought pictures of particular providences, and searches after God's love 
in religious excitement. The Lord is to be found not in the still small voice, 
but in the wind, the earthquake, and the fire. Where these are not, so it 
might seem, God is not. As long as these feelings were kept alive by the 
unhealthful religious stimulants, Cowper could boast of his "decided Christian 
happiness." But a time comes when stimulants fail to act, and then reaction 
comes, and ruin with it. 

Threatenings appeared from a very early period of his residence at Olney. 
In a letter to Hill, for instance, dated June 16, 1768, he expresses his belief 
that his life is drawing to an end. All his letters are upon religious topics, 
and generally gloomy in tone ; he drops his old friends, and even writes chilling 
letters to Hill— one declining an invitation, another in reply to the announcement 
of his marriage. The common idea that his first years at Olney were happy ones 
is certainly not well-founded. 

His melancholy was greatly increased by the death of his brother, which took 
place at Cambridge in March 1770. Their affection from infancy had been 
unbroken, and Cowper mourned for him deeply. He gave expression to his 
feelings by writing a memoir of him, which was afterwards published by Newton. 
(No. 9 in List of Works, p. xviii. See also the "Time Piece," 780 — 787.) His 
brother left ^700, but ^350 were owed to his college ; the rest was transferred to 
Cowper's account by Hill. But he speaks of himself as being a considerable 
loser by his brother's death. He must therefore have received a regular allowance 
from him as well as from his other relatives.* 

In 1 77 1 Mr. Newton proposed that they should jointly compose a volume of 
hymns, partly "fertile promotion of the faith and comfort of sincere Christians," 
par/iy to perpetuate the memory of their friendship. The work was undertaken, 
but not completed for 8 years. It was then published with this title : — 



OLNEY HYMNS. Ix Threc Books. 

Booh I.— On Select Texts of Scripture. 
II. -On Occasional Subjects. 
III.— On the Spiritual Life. 

Cantalntis, Arcades, inquit, 
haec vestris : soli cantare periti 
es. <> raihi turn quam molliter ossa quicscant, 
meos olim si fistula dicat amores. 

Virg Eel x. 31. 
Rev. xiv. 3. 
2 Cor. vi. 10. 



Stu letters to Hill, Nov. 5 and 17, 1772. 



IXTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



The volume is dated ( llney, February 15, 1779, and contains 34S hymns, Cowper's 
being distinguished by a C. 

Many of these compositions have become so popular, that a collection of hymns 
without them would sc-em incomplete. Such, for example, is Newton's "How 

sweet the name of Jesus sound-,." There are others which are not in the least 
suited for congregational worship. Poems, for example, like the seventh in the 
present volume are not acts of worship, but diatribes. Some begin as prayers, 
hut trail off into sermons, like the 22(1. But all Cowper's hymns throw light 
upon his mental state at the time, and there are several allusions to the 
circumstances of his life. Such compositions as Nos. 8 and 9, — the one 
written in joy, the other in sadness, — are not only beautiful, but such as 
probably all faithful Christians at one time or another are ready to adopt. Bu( 
it is different with such pieces as Nos. 37 — 44. The expressions of assurance 
are hardly to be distinguished from cries of despair. "Assurance of salvation' 
is a cardinal point in the Calvinist's creed, and it would not be difficult 
to lay one's hand upon a remarkable case in which great physical energy and 
exuberant animal spirits joined with this assurance have given wonderful 
life and power to a preacher. Preaching comes so easy in such a case, there is no j 
attempt to grapple with the hard problems which perplex more subtle and I 
thoughtful minds, there is an impatience of them ; the creed is an easy one to f 
its holder, and he goes on his way rejoicing. But Cowper's mind was a delicate \ 
one, his brain restless and busy ; the full assurance which on Newton's word he 
held to be necessary was a physical impossibility with him, and thereof came 
despondency and sadness. The high wave is not more naturally followed by the 
deep trough. Brooding over his morbid sensations increased them ; his mind 
oscillated fearfully on the balance between assurance of salvation, and assurance 
of perdition, till his whole being reeled and tottered. Before the work had 
proceeded very far, he was a second time insane. This accounts for the fact 
that eight years elapsed between the projection of the Olney Hymns and their publi- 
cation. The return of his malady also put a stop to his intended marriage with 
Mrs. Unwin. Their engagement has been warmly denied. Southey writes : 
"I believe it to be utterly unfounded; for that no such engagement was either 
known or suspected by Mr. Newton I am enabled to assert, and who can suppose 
that it would have been concealed from him?" On what ground he makes this 
assertion he does not say, but there is an assertion on the other side, lately made 
known, 'of which the truth cannot be doubted. Mr. Bull, in his Memorials of 
Newton, declares that again and again he had heard his father say that they 
were about to be married when Cowper's malady returned in 1773, and that 
Bull knew this from Mrs. Unwin herself. And then he adds the following extract 
from Newton's hitherto unpublished diary : — 

" They were congenial spirits, united in the faith and hope of th? gospel, and their intimate 
and growing friendship led them in the course of four or five years to an engagement of marriage. 



IXTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



which was well known to me, and to most of their and my friends, and was to have taken place 
in a few months, but was prevented by the terrible malady which seized him about that time." 

This settles the question, and shows that Southey was mistaken. The evidence 
from Cowper's own letters is too slight to build upon, but, viewed in the light of 
the positive statement, it is confirmatory. Cowper must have known that, as far as 
society is concerned, he was in a false position with regard to Mrs. Unwin. 
He could hardly expect that his excellent and pure life would secure them from 
ill-natured remarks, nor did it ; but it is moreover natural to suppose that their 
feelings towards each other had changed. Her kindness at first had recalled to 
his memory the love of his long-lost mother ; he had leaned upon her and admired 
her. But after her husband's death her kindness was no longer that of the -wife of 
an old man, it was that of a woman only four or five years his senior. And thus 
friendship, trust, and admiration, ended in marriage engagement. Cowper's 
condition from this time forward was not such as to render a renewal of their 
hopes possible, and there is no further evidence upon the subject. But the fact 
as now stated throws light upon a matter which will find its due place in our 
history, and which has caused much perplexity. 

The second attack of insanity came on by degrees. His letters at this time, as 
well as the Olney Hymns, show his oscillations of spirit. 

The following extracts from the Memorials of Newton are painfully expressive : — 

"Tuesday, July 7 [1772]. — Time fully taken up in visiting and receiving visits. 
Preached at the Great House from Heb. ii. 18, to which I was led by Mr. Cowper's 
prayer. " 

Next day, in a letter to his wife, he says :— 

" Dear Sir Cowper is in the depths as much as ever. The manner of his prayer 
last night led me to speak from Heb. ii. 18. I do not think he was much the 
better for it, but perhaps it might suit others." 

Not the better for it ! No, for most unwittingly Newton has created a 
Frankenstein, and is now sorrowing that he cannot control it.* 

On January 2, 1773, Newton writes thus : — 

"My time and thoughts much engrossed to-day by an afflicting and critical 
dispensation at Orchard Side. I was sent for early this morning, and returned 
astonished and grieved. " 

There was too sad reason for grief. The poor lunatic had again attempted his life, 
and he repeated the attempt more than once. He became persuaded that it was 
the sovereign will of God that he should do so, and because he failed, he believed 
himself condemned to double perdition. He ceased not only from public worship, 

* " I beli-ve my name is up about the country for preaching people mad ; for whether it is owing 
to the sedentary life the women lead here, poring over their [lace] pillows for ten or twelve hours 
everv dav and breathing confined air in their crowded little rooms, or whatever may be the 
immediate' cruise I suppose we have near a dozen in different degrees disordered in their heads, 
and most cf them, I believe, truly gracious people."— Letter 0/ Newton to Thornton. 



IXTRODUCTORY MI. .VOIR. xli 



but from private prayer. "For him to implore mercy," he said, "would only anger 
God the more." 

In order to be out of hearing of the noise of the annual fair, which was held in April, 
he visited Newton at the vicarage, and being there, entreated not to be sent away. 
There he remained till May in the following year; so piteous were his tears and 
entreaties to be suffered to remain, that Newton had not the heart to remove him. 
His malady, on the whole, was still increasing upon him. Yet it was not till 
October 1773 that Newton thought of consulting Dr. Cotton. It was too late 
then : perhaps it would have been of no use earlier. Some years later the unhappy 
patient described the thousand fancies which beset him; but there is no good 
in repeating a sick man's dreams. Mrs. Unwin watched over him all this time with 
the most tender solicitude. She undertook the care of him single-handed, and 
shared her diminished income with him. The expense of his living fell heavily also 
on Newton, as appears from a letter to his benefactor Thornton; but Newton's 
affection was too unselfish to allow him to put his poor friend from his house. 
During this sad time Cowper employed himself in gardening. He spoke little, — 
never except when questioned. The first signs of improvement were seen in the 
garden; he began to make remarks on the state of the trees, and the growing of 
them. One day when feeding the chickens some trifle made him smile. "That is 
the first smile for sixteen months," said Xewton. His companion, taking courage 
from this, proposed to return home. He consented, and having done so, was im- 
patient of the few days' necessary delay. At home he again took to gardening, and 
also to carpentering. A friend gave him three hares, which he may be said to 
have immortalised. Ten years later he wrote his famous article in the Gentlanaiis 
Magazine [June, 1 784], giving an account of these animals, and his arrangements for 
their health and comfort. His friends, pleased with his interest, gave him other 
animals — five rabbits, two guinea-pigs, two dogs, a magpie, a jay, a starling, and 
some pigeons, canaries, and goldfinches. The interest he took in them shows that 
his mind was partially recovering itself, though the clouds still hung heavily upon it. 
"As long as he is employed," says Xewton of this period, "he is tolerably easy; 
but as soon as he leaves off, he is instantly swallowed up by the most gloomy 
apprehensions, though in everything that does not concern his own peace he i? as 
sensible and discovers as quick a judgment as ever."* 

What I have already said will indicate the opinion to which I have been 
brought on the relation of his religious views to his madness. I have never for- 
gotten — who could, in reading this strange and melancholy life? — that insanity is 
verily an inscrutable mystery, on which it behoves our words at all times to be 
wary and few. I do not believe certainly that religious opinions were the original 
cause of the madness. When I began the study of this life I believed that I 
should find that the views were merely the form which the madness happened to 

* Bull, p. 202. 



xlii INTR OD UC TOR Y MEMOIR. 



take. But this belief I cannot now hold. It became as clear to me as any 
demonstration could make it, that the Calvinistic doctrine and religious excitements 
threw an already trembling mind off its balance, and aggravated a malady which 
but for them might probably have been cured. 

In 1776 he recommenced correspondence, as well as reading, and his letters are 
even playful. He had written none since 1772. One of the first was to Hill, 
thanking him for a present of fish.* He also took to sketching, and drew "moun- 
tains, valleys, woods, streams, ducks, and dabchicks." But this employment 
hurt his eyes. He formed a plan of taking three or four boys into his house 
as pupils, + but none offered. Several friends, Hill especially, lent him books, 
on which he sent back criticisms. In one letter he asks especially for a work on 
the microscope, and Vincent Bourne's Poems. But his letters as yet were few. 

In September 1779 Mr. Newton, who was disappointed and out of heart at 
his ill-success with the people of Olney, was presented by Thornton to the living 
of St. Mary Woolnoth, and left Olney at the end of the year. His last act before 
doing so was the publication of the Olney Hymns, by which Cowper was first 
introduced to the world. His departure naturally made great changes in Cowper's 
habits and doings, the chief being that he had much time thrown on his hands. 
In order to fill up the gap in his small circle of acquaintance, Newton, on leaving, 
introduced him to the Rev. W. Bull, an Independent minister residing at Newport- 
Pagnell, five miles from Olney. This choice was a happy one, and they became 
fast friends. Cowper had a knack of giving all his friends nicknames, and 
Mr. Bull become " Carissime Taurorum." But the distance between their homes, 
and Bull's hard work, prevented them from being much together, and Cowper was 
thrown on his own resources. He worked at his garden with more energy than 
ever, built frames for pine plants, and glazed the kitchen windows. Of his last 
achievement he gives a very humorous account in one of his letters. He revived 
his law studies a little, and gave advice gratis in a few cases. But, happily 
for English literature, he began to betake himself regularly to poetical composition. 
It is noticeable that "Nose i'. Eyes," as well as the lines "On the Burning of 
Lord Mansfield's Library," were written now. Speaking of the first of these, 
— "Happy is the man," says he, "who knows just so much law as to make 
himself a little merry now and then with the solemnity of judicial proceedings." 
But in a letter to Newton a few days later, he uses a ghastly similitude about 
this jocularity. He compares himself to harlequin dancing round a corpse. 

His prophecy concerning Thurlow had been fulfilled in June 1778, when the 
latter succeeded Earl Bathurst as Lord Chancellor of England. Cowper's friends 
hoped that this would bring some preferment to him, and William Unwin, now 

* Cowper was remarkably fond of fish. "The most ichthyophagous of Protestants" he called 
himself. It is must amusing, in turning over his letters, to lind him asking fur li.sh over and 
over. 

t Letter to Hill, July 6, 1776. 



INTRODUCTOK ) ' MEMOIR. xliii 



become Rector of Stock, in Essex, urged him to write to Thurlow. But Cowper 
was much too sensitive to do so. "He is very liberal, generous, and discerning," 

he replied, "but he is well aware of the tricks that are played upon such occasions, 
and after fifteen years' interruption of all intercourse between us, would translate ins 
letter into this language — Pray remember thepoor." But he was not without great 
hope that Thurlow would do something for him unasked, and it is not impossible 
that the latter had the will to do so, but lacked opportunity. At any rate he 
appointed, without solicitation, his and Cowper's friend Hill as his secretary. There 
seems an expression of disappointment in the end of a letter of Cowper to Hill, 
dated February 15, 1781. "Farewell, my friend, better than any I have to boast 
of either among the Lords — or gentlemen of the House of Commons." The latter 
clause probably refers to his cousin, Colonel Cowper, judging from some expressions 
in the earlier part of the letter. The letters written at this period are among the 
most delightful of his compositions, full of kindly humour, and rarely morbid. 
Even those to Newton — there are not many — avoid religious discussion. lie 
encloses to whomsoever he may be writing the last new poem he has thrown off, 
apparently with no thought but that of amusing his friends. 

One piece written now requires special mention, and that not of a pleasant 
character. Martin Madan's name has- occurred more than once m this biography; 
it will be remembered that he was Cowper's first cousin, and chaplain of the Lock 
Hospital. In 1781 he published a work in two large octavos, to which he after- 
wards added a third as supplement, entitled " Thclyphtliora ; or a Treatise on 
Marriage" and the estimate which he made of his performance may be judged 
by the first sentence which it contains : — " The Author doth not scruple to call 
this Treatise one of the most important and interesting Publications that have 
appeared since the days of the Protestant Reformation." The substance of it is 
that Polygamy is a state which was not only allowed by the Most High to 
the Jews, but spoken of in His law in such a manner as to show that it 
received His sanction to the end of the world. There is an abundance of learned 
discussion of the sacred languages, and many quotations from the Fathers, the 
author throughout taking his position upon the strictest literalism, and hold- 
ing himself bound by every word of the Sacred Book, but rejecting every 
other ground of argument. The book has never been reprinted,— not even by 
Brigham Young. But it is a work which has left its mark. It is no wild 
guess to say that it had much to do with John Henry Newman's growing disgust 
towards, and final rejection of, Protestantism. "Protestantism," he said, long 
before quitting the English Church, "has sometimes developed into Polygamy." 
When one remembers what the tone of his mind was from youth, what a high 
store he set upon the celibate life, it will be felt with what shuddering he must have 
penned that sentence. And when it is compared with his renewed and distinct 
reference to Madan's book in his celebrated correspondence with Mr. Kingsley 



xli v IN TR OD UC TOR Y MEMOIR. 



(pp. 17, 18), there can be no question that a system which could have produced 
such a book must long have raised an antagonism in his mind. 

Covvper and Newton would of course have no such thought as this. Instead 
of generalizing upon it, they came to the conclusion that it was simply the 
work of a vicious and immorally -minded man. To one who knows so little of 
Madan as I have been able to discover, it is impossible to give any judgment on 
this point. But internal evidence does not support such a view. If Madan ever 
looked sorrowfully upon his charge at the Lock, and thought how each fallen 
woman had been once an innocent child, and might have been a happy wife 
with children round her knees, is it to be wondered at that he pondered on 
the question "On what theory might these have been wives?" Dwelling upon 
this, — being (let it be remembered) a Puritan in theology, and Judaizing in his view 
of the Scriptures, — one is not surprised that he rushed into the notion that the 
polygamy of the Mosaic days is not contrary to the will of God, and that by the 
restoration of it harlotry might be put an end to. If we start with the assumption 
that the law of the Pentateuch is the basis and limit of all moral legislation whatso- 
ever, — and such an assumption should scarcely appear startling to many Protestants, 
— then the whole of Madan'" s doctrine follows as a matter of course, for no one 
disputes the minor premiss, that Polygamy was allowed and practised. But those 
who hold that the world has been under a Divine Education, that the Christian 
Church has mounted on the stepping-stones of Judaism to higher things, will hold 
the theory to be an outrage on religion, — on the whole Bible. The consensus of 
Christian nations, of all nations indeed which have emerged out of barbarism, 
has a far higher authority in this matter than texts out of Leviticus.* It is not 
wonderful that the righteous instincts of Cowper revolted at the theory. But 
considering his kinship with Madan, and their former intercourse, his course is 
certainly much to be regretted. His epigrams upon the book, poor enough, were 
only written for Newton's eye ; but he wrote, and printed anonymously (1781 ), 
a long Poem entitled " Antithelyphthora," + and a wretched production it is. It 
seems almost incredible that such a foolish straining after the comic, such a 
coarse and vulgar effusion, could have proceeded from so delightful a humorist 
and such a thorough gentleman. It may be said in excuse that he was now 
only a novice in the art of Poetry, and that as most of the poets that he had 
read were coarse, he may have thought it a necessity to be the same, just as Waller 
could not get on without an imaginary Saccharissa. 

Cowper appears to have been somewhat ashamed of the production himself, for 
neither he nor his executors ever included it in his works. It was only by a curious 
accident that its authorship was discovered. Southey found, in a book which he 
had borrowed, a note from Samuel Rose — a friend of Cowper's of whom raentii n 

I 1 -ome thoughts in this criticism I am indebted to my fricr.d Professor Plumptre. 
t Sec page 330. 



JXTRODL'CTORY MEMOIR. xlv 



will hereafter be made, — to Isaac Reid, shut between the leaves as a marker. In 
this note Rose, in answer to a question, gives the name of the poem, and speaks of 
it as Cowper's. Southey made inquiry at the Driti^li Museum, and found the work, 
printed in quarto. Allusions in Cowper's letters confirm the proof of its author- 
ship, and it has ever since been included in his works. If his own w ishes could 
have been consulted, I cannot help thinking that it would have continued buried in 
the Museum. 

It was Mrs. Unwin who first proposed to him some work of greater importance, 
and on his acquiescence suggested "The Progress of Error,'' to be made the subject 
of a moral satire. He found the new* occupation so congenial to his taste, and so 
successful in dispelling his melancholy, that he worked at it incessantly. When 
that was finished, he wrote "Truth," "Table-Talk," "Expostulation," all in such 
rapid succession, that these four poems, begun in December 1 7S0, were finished in the 
following March. He had acquainted Newton with what he was doing, and now 
requested him to find a publisher. His intention was to add a few of his smaller 
pieces to these large ones, and so to make a moderate-sized volume. Newton went 
to his own publisher, Joseph Johnson, who at once consented, and took all the risk. 
The volume was sent to the publisher in April 17S1, and he, on the ground that 
the publishing season was over, proposed to Cowper to enlarge the volume. He 
accordingly wrote " Hope," and soon afterwards " Charity.'' The latter occupied 
him about a fortnight ; it was finished on the 12th of July. Whilst the book was 
being printed, he began once more, and wrote "Conversation," and "Retirement." 
He also called upon Newton to assist him further by writing a preface. After 
some demur, Newton consented. When it was written, Johnson was frightened at 
the serious tone of it, and, though Cowper was still willing to let it appear, 
both he and Newton agreed to its being withdrawn, though the latter was 
somewhat displeased. It was first printed in the fifth edition at his request. It 
will be found in p. 47 of the present volume; in all other respects pp. 45 — 179 
contain a reprint of the first edition. 

On the eve of publication Cowper disclosed it for the first time to Unwin. The 
latter, who had been the recipient of all his small pieces as they were produced, was 
hurt at his friend's reticence, and Cowper, evidently conscious that he had ground for 
annoyance, laboured, not with the best grace, to remove it. He was, however, suc- 
cessful, and friendship continued uninterrupted. A few stanzas were hastily written, 
and placed at the end of the volume, in order that if this should be the author's 
last publication, a memorial of his friendship with Unwin might be preserved. 

All this while he was very happy, kept so by employment and by hope. It was 
while he was correcting his proofs, during what he called an African summer, that 
he hit upon a simple means of comfort. He had previously built himself a green- 
house, which a gardener, he said, would think nothing of carrying away on his 
back. He now converted it into a suminei house, hanging mats all round to keep 



xlvi INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



out the sun, and carpeting the floor. Here now most of his time was spent, with 
myrtles in the window, and birds and rustling foliage making melody all around, 
and the letter describing it is perhaps the most beautiful of all his beautiful letters.* 
This summerhouse is now classic ground, and the care of each successive owner 
has preserved it to this day in its original state. 

Cowper says, in one of his letters written at this period, that he has only read 
one English poet for the last twenty years ; a statement sufficient to justify me in 
not comparing him with other writers of the time. He had nothing to do with 
them. He may have read Percy's Reliques (published the same year that he 
removed to Huntingdon), but it is not very likely. The author whose style he 
imitated most was Churchill. But his position was a new one in literature. His 
foremost idea when he began "The Progress of Error" was to be, not merely a 
Poet, but a teacher, — a Vates. The title which Hayley gives him, " The Bard of 
Christianity, " expresses what he sought after for himself. " Table Talk" was not 
the first written of the long poems, but he placed it first, as explaining his aims. 
As its name implies, it is a somewhat desultory production. A. and B. begin to 
converse about true and false Glory, then pass on to the duties, difficulties, and 
shortcomings of kings. A. hints that B. might turn his verse to useful account 
by propounding therein some plan for paying the national debt, but is told that even 
the engineering skill of Brindley could not turn Helicon to such a purpose. "Let 
us, at all events," says A. "have something practical. Why does a Briton love 
liberty ? " This leads to a discussion of the English character, and of the use and 
abuse of liberty. B. takes a gloomy view of the present position of England, 
but A. reminds him that a like view was widely prevalent just when Lord 
Chatham's wonderful successes began. "Yet that view was correct," replies B., 
"and if Sin get the mastery of the nation the gloomy prognostications will yet 
come true." The growing passion of the verses excites A.'s notice, and this leads 
to a descant upon the functions of the Poet, and this again to the present condition 
of English Poetry. The bard holds that there is one new field into which the Poet 
may enter, namely, Religion. 

"All other themes are sped, 
Hackneyed and worn to the last flimsy thread." 

It were indeed, he exclaims, a noble aim for one to entrance his hearers by 
singing the love of Christ. Better even doggrel verse on high topics than flowing 
numbers on base ones. This is the author's preface, in fact, to the rest. What 
was the character of the religion which he thus set himself to expound we need 
hardly say. It was "Evangelicalism," the form which all earnestness took at that 
period in the history of the Church of England, the reaction against the "Evi- 
dential" and "Moral" Theology of the years preceding. Its defects as well as 

" o Newton, Aug. 16, 1781. 



TNTRODl C7< '/,')• MEMOIR. ulvii 



excellences arc faithfully reflected in the poems of Cowper. " Experimental" was 

one of Newton's favourite words, and the religion taught by him was too much 

1 upon experience and thoughts and feelings, and thus often fell short of the 

fulness and breadth of the Gospel. The morbid self-consciousness which is often so 
painful in Cowper is certainly owing, in some degree, to the same cause. The two 
quiet recluses at Olney, spending half their time in reading Evangelical sermon-, 
and discussing them afterwards,'' never brought into contact with active men of 
the world, became unable to make allowance, or to view charitably opinions which 
did not coincide with their own. But, on the other hand, Cowper's natural kindli- 
ness and generosity caused his narrowness of view to vanish directly he came into 
contact with good people who thought differently. The indignation which Hashes 
along his lines is directed against an abstract '"Mr. Legality;" had he met with 
him in the flesh, he would have shown more consideration for him. The only 
onalities in these poems are the attacks upon "Occiduus" and Madan, both 
in "The Progress of Error." Had he known a live bishop, he might even have 
shown some mercy to his order. Certainly no man ever disliked bishops more 
cordially ;+ and as one looks over the list of that period there seems little reason 
why he should have held them in veneration. Thomas Newton and Lowth are the 
only names which have any claim to be remembered. A curious instance of what 
we have been saying is furnished by the fact that in his poem of "Expostulation" 
Cowper spoke severely of the Roman Catholics, but, after it was printed off, can- 
celled the leaf. J It has been commonly asserted and denied that he did so out of 
respect to the Throckmorton s, who were Roman Catholics, and whose acquaintance 
he had made in the interval. § It is not unlikely that there is some truth in this 
statement. They came into his neighbourhood just at the time when the poem 
was being printed, and though there was no intimacy till two years after, there 
were civilities between them. But it was probably simple good taste which led him 
to make the cancel. One thing we never lose sight of in reading Cowper — he is a 
gentleman, well-bred, scholarly, pure-minded, sincere, and without offence. When 
he exchanged a harsh view for a more charitable one, it was not through policy, 
but because experience had modified his opinion. 

His political views also smack of his retirement. He had no books of his own, 
and was dependent upon loans from his friends. His knowledge of history was 
very slight. For example, he thought that the Latin element in our language was 
ow'ng to the Roman conquest. He sat at home and read Mrs. Macaulay and 
the St. James's Chronicle, and prophesied without a misgiving of error that the 

* See pa.re xxxhr. 

t I do not know whether the following expression of opinion has ever appeared in print. I 
copied it from his MS. : " Bishops are Kaica Unpia, faarepeg apyoi." Dated Sept. 24, 17S6. ^ It is 
characteristic of him that on renewing acquaintance, years afterwards, with his old friend Walter 
Br.^ot, he went somewhat out of his way to speak a civil word of his brother, who had been made 
Bishop of Norwich (Tirocinium, p. 290, 1. 435). 

J bee note on Expostulation, I. 3^0. § S ee hereafter, page ! . . 



LXTRODUCTOR Y MEMOIR. 



moment the Americans gained their independence England would fall to utter 
destruction. 

The titles of his poems are somewhat misleading. "The Progress of Error," 
for example, leads us to expect a philosophical disquisition, whereas we find that 
the sum of this poem is that operas, card-playing, intemperance, gluttony, read- 
ing of bad novels, are the causes of Error ; that they who hate truth shall be the 
dupe of lies. Quite true, of course ; but who supposes that this is an adequate 
account of the progress of Error? In like manner "Truth" is not an essay upon 
Truth in the abstract, but an assertion of the sinfulness of man, the perfection of 
God, and hence the need of the propitiation of Christ. 

The author improves in his style by practice. The versification of the " Progress 
of Error" is harsh, but that of "Expostulation" is highly finished. The latter 
is throughout a beautiful poem. It is an impassioned address to England to avoid 
the sin, and the consequent ruin, of the Jews, and is said to have been suggested by 
a fast-sermon of Newton's. Cowper himself liked it better than those which pre- 
ceded it* So, too, although "Hope" is based on the same idea as that which forms 
the subject of "Truth," and contains nothing that has not been said before, it is 
much more pleasing and kindly in expression. "Charity" really concludes this 
series of Poems; "Conversation" and "Retirement" are quite distinct from it. 
"Conversation" is the lightest in tone of all; its versification, too, is delightful, 
while the whole piece is full of wisdom and goodness. "Retirement" has been 
called the most poetical piece, being rich in illustration, as well as graceful and 
picturesque. There is less satire in it than in the other pieces. But taken as a 
whole, the stinging satire is the most telling feature of the whole series of Poems. 
The sketches of the fox-hunting clergyman and of the travelling youth in the 
"Progress of Error," of "the ancient prude" in "Truth," of the proser in 
"Conversation," and, best of all, of Sir Smug in "Hope" are wonderfully 
pointed and vigorous. The force and severity, joined to good humour and 
freedom from coarseness and offensiveness, have never been excelled unless by 
the lamented author of the "Book of Snobs." His language is always well 
chosen, always the handmaid of the sense. Sometimes he bursts out into im- 
passioned earnestness, as in "Expostulation," and at the end of "Hope." 
But he falls back into placid smoothness. To use his own simile, he always rides 
Pegasus with a curb. His rhymes are very frequently indeed inexact, more so than 
those of any English poet. + It would be hard to find a page without a false 
rhyme or a prosaic line. He intended to produce variety, but when we find him 
expressing his belief that he has removed all inaccuracies, we can only say that His 
ear was at fault. 

* " I have written it with tolerable ease to nivsclf, and in my own opinion (for an opinion I am 
bound to have about what I write whether I will or no), with rr.oie emphasis and energy than in 
either of the others." 

♦ See note u.i pn^c 3. 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. xlbt 



Such was his first volume. It appeared in March 1782; its price was y. 
He sent copies to a few only of his friends. Among them were the Chancellor 
and Colman, now manager of the Haymarket theatre. The copy to Thurlow 
was accompanied by the following letter: — 

" Olney, Bucks, Feb. 23, 1782. 

" My Lord, — I make no apology for what I account a duty ; I should offend against the cordiality 
of our former friendship should I send a volume into the world, and forget how much I am bound 
to pay my particular respects to your Lordship upon that occasion. When we parted you little 
thought of hearing from me again ; and I as little that I should live to write to you, still less that 
I should wait on you in the capacity of an author. 

"Among the pieces I have the honour to send, there is one for which I must entreat your pardon. 
I mean that of which your Lordship is the subject The best excuse I can make is, that it flowed 
almost spontaneously from the affectionate remembrance of a connexion that did me so much 
honour. 

" As to the rest, their merits, if they have any, and their defects, which are probably more than I 
am aware of, will neither of them escape your notice. But where there is much discernment, there 
is generally much candour ; and I commit myself into your Lordship's hands, with the less anxiety, 
being well acquainted with yours. 

_ " If my first visit, after so long an interval should prove neither a troublesome nor a dull one, but 
especially if not altogether an unprofitable one, om>te tuli punctual. 

" I have the honour to be, though with very different impressions of some subjects, yet with the 
same sentiments of affection and esteem as ever, your Lordship's faithful and most obedient, 
humble servant, " \V. C." 

Neither Thurlow nor Colman acknowledged the gift ; and Hill, who of course 
was much with Thurlow, and had mentioned Cowper's name to him, never heard 
a word from him on this subject. Colman, too, on publishing his translation of the 
Ars Podica soon after, hurt Cowper's feelings by not sending him a copy. Some 
months after, the poor Poet, who had hitherto hoped against hope, gave vent 
to his wounded feelings in his indignant " Valediction."* 

Striving to be unconcerned, he now watched to see his volume running the 
gauntlet of the critics. The Critical Reziew immediately fell foul of the 
volume. Southey has disinterred and gibbeted the article, which is evidently 
the work of some pert and ignorant youth — "nothing more nor less than a 
pompous noodle, " as Thackeray said of one of his critics. A few excerpts will 
suffice : — "Not possessed of any abilities or power of genius ; " "weak and languid 
verses;" "neither novelty, spirit, or animation ;" " flat and tedious ; " "no better 
than a dull sermon ; " " very indifferent verse ; " " coarse, vulgar, and unpoetical." 
Other magazines, the Gentleman's and the London, spoke in approbation ; and 
Dr. Benjamin Franklin delighted the Poet by writing to Mr. Thornton, who 
sent him the volume, a discriminating and highly favourable opinion. The 
<//>', the chief of the reviews, delayed a long time, but at length spoke 
in praise. But though the critics admitted him as a poet, they could not 
make him a popular one. People apparently made up their minds that he 
was a very good sort of a man, who wrote nice verses on the Evangelical side, 
ancl troubled themselves no more about him. The volume did not selL Another 
lady became the means of making him popular. 

* P. 354 ?ee note on it. 

d 



1 IX TROD UCTOR Y MEMOIR. 

Lady Austen was the widow of a baronet, and sister-in-law of a clergyman 
named Jones, residing at Clifton, near Olney, with whom Cowper had a 
slight acquaintance. In the summer of 1781, whilst he was preparing his first 
volume for press, Cowper saw the two sisters shopping in the street at Olney. 
He was so struck with Lady Austen's appearance that he persuaded Mrs. Unwin 
to invite them to tea. They came ; then he was so shy that Mrs. Unwin had 
difficulty in bringing him to meet them. But as soon as they met all reserve 
vanished, and they were " like old friends together. " Lady Austen and he soon 
came to address each other as "William" and "Sister Ann." For awhile all 
went delightfully. She was lively and full of anecdote, and sang and played 
well ; and she was pleased with him, the well-bred, interesting, thoughtful man. 
The party dined, walked, pic-nicked together constantly, and Lady Austen 
announced her intention of taking a house at Olney, as the lease of her town house 
was nearly out. When she returned to town in October, both Cowper and Mrs. 
Unwin felt the blank. The "Poetical Epistle" at p. 337 was addressed to her 
during this absence, and may be read with interest here. It will be seen that 
he anticipated great results from the new acquaintance, though what they 
are to be does not exactly appear. It was written in December 1781, yet in 
the following February a fracas had taken place which nearly brought the 
acquaintance to an end. The circumstances are unknown, the only account 
being contained in a letter from Cowper to Unwin. " The lady, in her 
correspondence," he says, "expressed a sort of romantic idea of our merits, 
and built such expectations of felicity upon our friendship, as we were 
sure that nothing human can possibly answer, and I wrote to her not to 
think more lightly of us than the subject would warrant ; and intimating that 
when we embellish a creature with colours taken from our own fancy, and so 
adorned, admire and praise it beyond its real merits, we make it an idol, and 
have nothing to expect in the end but that it will deceive our hopes, and that 
we shall derive nothing from it but a painful conviction of our error. Your 
mother heard me read the letter ; she read it herself, and honoured it with her 
warm approbation. But it gave mortal offence. It received, indeed, an answer, 
but such a one as I could by no means reply to." What are we to make of all 
this? Had Lady Austen fallen in love with him, and been repelled in this 
letter of his at Mrs. Unwin's instigation? Or was Mrs. Unwin jealous without 
cause? If so, no wonder that Lady Austen was angry. Probability, considering 
events which followed, inclines to the former view. That it was a quarrel between 
the ladies especially, appears from an expression of Hayley, who had seen the 
correspondence. He calls it " a trifling feminine discord. " 

Meanwhile Cowper might with advantage have learned from this, that two persons 
who are not brother and sister had better not call themselves so. However, 
the breath was soon healed. She sent him some worked ruffles as a present, got 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. \\ 



a civil message in return, and soon afterwards they met After a few minutes' 
awkwardness they were all as friendly as ever. Before long she had taken 
up her residence in the vicarage at Olney. And now began the most sunny 
period in Cowper's life. His letters are full of fun and frolic, and comparatively 
free from melancholy. The trio were constantly together, engaged in quiet 
amusements, "Lady Austen playing on the harpsichord," as he says in one 
letter, "Mrs. Unwin and himself playing battledore and shuttlecock, and the 
little dog under the chair howling to admiration." "In the morning" says 
another letter, "I walk with one or other of the ladies, and in the after- 
noon wind thread. Thus did Hercules, and thus probably did Samson, and 
thus do I." 

When low spirits overtook him, Lady Austen's sprightiiness was generally able 
to exorcise them. One afternoon when he was in this condition, she told him the 
story of John Gilpin. He lay awake half the night convulsed with laughter, and by 
the next morning had turned it into a ballad. It was sent to Unwin, who sent 
it on to the Public Advertiser, where it appeared anonymously. It attracted no special 
notice, until three years afterwards it came under the eye of Richard Sharp — "Con- 
versation Sharp" as he was commonly known to the literary society of the 
period. He showed it to Henderson, a first-class actor of the time, who was 
then giving public readings at Freemasons' Hall. He read "John Gilpin," and 
electrified the audience, Mrs. Siddons among them. The ballad was reprinted 
again and again, and the famous horseman was seen in all the printshops. Some 
other smaller pieces were owing to Lady Austen, being written for her to sing. But 
they were trifles indeed compared with the poem which placed him in the first place 
among the authors of his time, namely, "The Task." 

Lady Austen had often begged him to try his hand at blank verse. "I will," 
he answered one day, "if you will give me a subject." "Oh, you can write 
upon any subject," said she: "write upon this Sofa." And so he began; hence 
the great poem, and hence its title. It was begun in the summer of 1783, and com- 
pleted in about twelve months. But before it was finished another breach had 
taken place between him and Lady Austen, and this time it was final. Of this 
separation we have notices from two hands — very slight, it is true, but pointing to 
a definite conclusion. The first is Cowper's. In a letter to Unwin, dated July 12, 
: 784, after discussing other topics, he writes : 

" You are going to Bristol. A lady, not long since our near neighbour, is 
probably there ; she 7vas there very lately. If you should chance to fall into her 
company, remember, if you please, that we found the connexion on some accounts 
an inconvenient one ; that we do not wish to renew it ; and conduct yourself 
accordingly. A character with which we spend all our time should be made on 
purpose for us ; too much or too little of any ingredient spoils all. In the instance 
in question, the dissimilitude was too great not to be felt continually, and conse- 

d 2 



Hi INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 

quently made our intercourse unpleasant. We have reason, however, to believe 
that she has given up all thoughts of a return to Olney." 

And eighteen months after, he writes to Lady Hesketh as follows : — 

" There came a lady into this country, by name and title Lady Austen, the 
widow of the late Sir Robert Austen. At first she lived with her sister, about 
a mile from Olney ; but in a few weeks took lodgings at the vicarage here. 
Between the vicarage and the back of our house are interposed our garden, an 
orchard, and the garden belonging to the vicarage. She had lived much in France, 
was very sensible, and had infinite vivacity. She took a great liking to us, and 
we to her. She had been used to a great deal of company, and we fearing that 
she would find such a transition into silent retirement irksome, contrived to give 
her our agreeable company often. Becoming continually more and more intimate, 
a practice obtained at length of our dining with each other alternately every day, 
Sundays excepted. In order to facilitate our communication, we made doors in 
the two garden walls abovesaid, by which means we considerably shortened the 
way from one house to the other, and could meet when we pleased without 
entering the town at all; a measure the rather expedient, because the town is 
abominably dirty, and she kept no carriage. On her first settlement in our 
neighbourhood, I made it my own particular business (for at that time I was not 
employed in writing, having published my first volume and not begun my second) 
to pay my devoirs to her ladyship every morning at eleven. Customs very soon 
become laws. I began The Task ; for she was the lady who gave me the Sofa for 
a subject. Being once engaged in the work, I began to feel the inconvenience of 
my morning attendance. We had seldom breakfasted ourselves till ten ; and the 
intervening hour was all the time that I could find in the whole day for writing, 
and occasionally it would happen that the half of that hour was all that I could 
secure for the purpose. But there was no remedy. Long usage had made that 
which at first was optional a point of good manners, and consequently of necessity, 
and I was forced to neglect The Tas/c, to attend upon the Muse who had inspired 
the subject. But she had ill health, and before I had quite finished the work was 
obliged to repair to Bristol. Thus, as I told you, my dear, the cause of the many 
interruptions that I mentioned was removed, and now, except the Bull that I 
spoke of [Mr. Bull], we seldom have any company at all. After all that I have said 
upon this matter, you will not completely understand me, perhaps, unless I account 
for the remainder of the day. I will add, therefore, that having paid my morning 
visit, I walked ; returning from my walk, I dressed: we then met and dined, and 
parted not till between ten and eleven at night." 

This is Cowpcr's account of the fracas. The other is by Hayley, and shall be 
given at full length. 

"The year 1784 was a memorable period in the life of the poet, not only as it 
witnessed the completion of one extensive performance, and the commencement of 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. Hi; 

toother (his translation of Homer), but as it terminated his intercourse with that 
highly pleasing and valuable friend, whose alacrity of attention and advice had 
induced him to engage in both. 

"Delightful and advantageous as his friendship with Lady Austen had proved, hc\ 
now began to feel that it grew impossible to preserve that triple cord, which his own J 
pure heart had led him to suppose not speedily to be broken. Mrs. Unwin, though j 
by no means destitute of mental accomplishments, was eclipsed by the brilliancy of 
the Poet's new friend, and naturally became uneasy under the apprehension of being 
so ; for to a woman of sensibility, what evil can be more afflicting than the fear of 
losing all mental influence over a man of genius and virtue, whom she has been long 
accustomed to inspirit and to guide? 

"Cowper perceived the painful necessity of sacrificing a great portion of his 
present gratifications. He felt that he must relinquish that ancient friend, whom 
he regarded as a venerable parent; or the new associate, whom he idolised as a 
sister, of a heart and mind peculiarly congenial to his own. His gratitude for past 
services of unexampled magnitude and weight would not allow him to hesitate; with 
a resolution and delicacy, that do the highest honour to his feelings, he wrote a 
farewell letter to Lady Austen, explaining and lamenting the circumstances that 
forced him to renounce the society of a friend, whose enchanting talents and 
kindness had proved so agreeably instrumental to the revival of his spirits, and to 
the exercise of his fancy. 

"In those very interesting conferences with which I was honoured by Lady Austen, 
I was irresistibly led to express an anxious desire for the sight of a letter written by 
Cowper in a situation that must have called forth all the finest powers of his 
eloquence as a monitor and a friend. The lady confirmed me in my opinion, that a 
more admirable letter could not be written ; and had it existed at '.hat time, I am 
persuaded, from her noble frankness and zeal for the honour of the departed poet, 
she would have given me a copy ; but she ingenuously confessed that in a moment 
of natural mortification she burnt this very tender, yet resolute letter. I mention 
the circumstance, because a literary correspondent, whom I have great reason to 
esteem, has recently expressed to me a wish (which may perhaps be general) that I 
could introduce into this compilation the letter in question. Had it been confided 
to my care, I am persuaded I should have thought it very proper for publication, as 
it displayed both the tenderness and the magnanimity of Cowper; nor could I have 
deemed it a want of delicacy towards the memory of Lady Austen to exhibit a proof 
that, animated by the warmest admiration of the great poet, whose fancy she could 
so successfully call forth, she was willing to devote her life and fortune to his service 
and protection. The sentiment is to be regarded as honourable to the lady; it is 
still more honourable to the Poet, that with such feelings, as rendered him perfectly 
sensible of all Lady Austen's fascinating powers, he could return her tenderness 
with innocent gallantry, and yet resolutely preclude himself from her society, when 



liv INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 

he could no longer enjoy it without appearing deficient in gratitude towards the 
compassionate and generous guardian of his sequestered life. No person can justly 
blame Mrs. Unwin for feeling apprehensive that Cowper's intimacy with a lady of 
such extraordinary talents might lead him into perplexities, of which he was by no 
means aware. This remark was suggested by a few elegant and tender verses, 
addressed by the Poet to Lady Austen, and shown to me by that lady. 

"Those who were acquainted with the unsuspecting innocence and sportive gaiety 
of Cowper, would readily allow, if they had seen the verses to which I allude, that 
they are such as he might have addressed to a real sister; but a lady only called by 
that endearing name may be easily pardoned, if she was induced by them to hope 
that they might possibly be a prelude to a still dearer alliance. To me they 
appeared expressive of that peculiarity in his character, a gay and tender gallantry, 
perfectly distinct from amorous attachment. If the lady, who was the subject of 
the verses, had given them to me with a permission to print them, I should have 
thought the Poet himself might have approved of their appearance, accompanied 
with such a commentary." 

The endeavours to make everything pleasant all round are very characteristic of 
Hayley, and in this case ludicrous. He softens here and subdues there, and, where 
this is impossible, makes omissions which leave the matter almost unintelligible. 
| But the substance of the whole apparently is that Lady Austen was in love with 
I Cowper, and believed him to be so with her; that Mrs. Unwin was jealous, and 
1 that Cowper thereupon broke off the connexion. Then was Lady Austen's belief 
\ right, or had she misunderstood him? That she would gladly have married him is 
Vmquestionable, and I cannot doubt that a tender feeling towards her was growing up 
in his mind also, but that, as he looked back on the past and upon Mrs. Unwin's 
kindness and tenderness (although his intended marriage with her was probably quite 
abandoned by this time), he felt that it would be ungrateful on his part to forsake her 
for another. That he should write of Lady Austen, as we have seen, with some- 
thing like asperity, is easily intelligible, especially when we remember that his 
letters were only intended for the sight of William Unwin. 

The "elegant and tender verses" of which Hayley speaks are printed for the first 
time in the present volume ; and one is constrained to say that a woman who was 
not an actual sister could only put one interpretation upon them. And if they 
were not intended to bear this interpretation, they seem to me to be a thoughtless 
sporting with a woman's peace. 

The loss of Lady Austen's friendship was a serious one for him.* He had need 
of such friends. Melancholy was increasing upon him again, and this breach 
seems to have deepened it greatly. "When I was writing 'The Task,'" he said 
afterwards, "I was often supremely unhappy." And in a letter writen at the time 

* Lady Austen afterwards married a Frenchman, M. de Tardiff. She died in 1802, whilst 
Haylcy's first volume was going through the press. 



IN TR OD UC TOR Y MEMOIR. lv 

he said, "The grinners at 'John Gilpin' little think what its writer sometimes 
suffers. How I hated myself last night for having written it ! '' 

It is grievous to read the quiet matter-of-fact way in which he puts aside all 
attempts at consolation. "Your arguments [against his belief in his final perdi- 
tion] are quite reasonable," he says quietly to Newton, "but the event will prove 
them false." And in the same way he treated Mrs. Unwin's reasonings. Some- 
times he would make her no answer, at others would sharply tell her she was 
wrong. "It was no use reasoning in this case, " he said ; "reasoning might say 
one thing, but fact said another." And all this while his letters are expressed as 
vigorously and strongly as ever, his humour and clearness of thinking are as un- 
clouded. His madness has such method in it that his destruction is clear before 
his eyes ; he contemplates it ab extra as if he were looking at the ruin of a building, 
or a falling tree. "You will think me mad," he says, in one most gloomy letter; 
" but I am not mad, most noble Festus, I am only in despair." 

Meanwhile he had made fresh acquaintances, not without influence on his life. Bull 
we have already mentioned. Before "The Task" was begun he had given Cowper 
the Poems of Madame Guyon, that he might amuse himself in his sad hours with 
translating them. He did it in a month, copying them into a "Lilliputian book," 
as he called it, and then gave the little volume to his friend. Bull some time after 
suggested that he should publish them, and he consented, but the idea "was not 
carried out during his lifetime. 

Another acquaintance, made about the time of the separation from Lady 
Austen, was with the Throckmortons. They lived at "Weston Underwood, a 
village about two miles from Olney. Cowper had always been allowed a key of their 
park, but no intercourse had taken place with the family, who were Roman 
Catholics. The possessor dying in 1782, a younger brother came to live at 
Weston,* and Cowper sent his card and asked for a continuance of the favour, 
which was readily granted. The Throckmortons had been grossly affronted on 
account of their religion by some of their neighbours, and were naturally shy 
of seeking acquaintance. However, in May 17S4, they invited Cowper and 
Mrs. Unwin to see an attempt to send up a balloon from "Weston. + The 
gentle, refined poet found himself the object of his host's special attention, and 
acquaintance soon ripened into intimacy. From this time the Throckmortons 
appear among his correspondents — he addresses them as " Mr. and Mrs. 
Frog " — and several of his smaller poems relate to incidents connected with them. 

"We have seen how Cowper, on the publication of his first volume, concealed 
his intention from his friend Unwin. He acted in the same way with Newton on 
the publication of his second. Though in constant correspondence with him he 

* John Throckmorton : he was the son of Sir Robert, who was S4 years old, living in Oxfordshire. 
The old baronet lived till 1791, and Cowper's friend then succeeded to the title. 

t Balloons were all the rage just then. JMontgolfier made his in 1783. The first aeronaut ui 
i, Lunardi, ascended from Moorfields, September 15. 



hi IX TROD UCTOR Y MEMOIR. 



avoided even a hint lie sent the volume to Unwin, desiring him to offer it 
to his former publisher Johnson ; if he should refuse, or stroke his chin and look 
up to the ceiling and cry " Humph ! " then to take it to Longman, or to Nichols, 
the printer of the Gentleman 's Magazine. However, Johnson spared Unwin any 
further trouble, for he accepted it directly. At length* Cowper announced the 
volume to Newton. He did so in a constrained manner, betraying his feeling 
that his friend had some ground of complaint. Newton had evidently lost con- 
siderable hold of his affections. His letters to him are colder, and he makes 
no allusion to him in his manifold letters to Unwin at this period. The day 
following his announcement to Newton, Cowper writes to Unwin: "I wrote to 
Mr. Newton by the last post to tell him I was gone to press again. He will 
be surprised, and perhaps not pleased. But I think he cannot complain, for he 
keeps his own authorly secrets without participating them with me. " 

Newton was evidently much mortified, though he wrote back a kind answer. He 
asked to see the proof-sheets, but Cowper, " for many reasons," as he told Unwin, 
refused them.t He sent him, however, a title, list of headings, and specimen extract. J 
Newton sent back a carping criticism, objecting to title, headings, metre, and phrase- 
ology. And Cowper returned answer, verbally civil, but steeped in irony. § 

His publisher, as before, wanted more matter to make up the volume. Cowper 
accordingly completed "Tirocinium," which he had begun two years previously 
and laid aside. He also wrote the Epistle to Hill, partly with the hope of giving 
him an agreeable surprise, partly from the feeling that, having mentioned by name 
several of his friends, it would be unjustifiable to omit one whose conduct towards 
him had been so helpful and generous. || It was written at a single sitting. He 
then proposed to add "John Gilpin." Johnson doubted, and Cowper left it 
to his judgment, but it was eventually resolved to put it in. They thought, 
and rightly, that a poem which had become so famous (for it was while "The 
Task" was in the press that Henderson made the hit with it that has been previously 
described), and of which the author's name had not yet transpired, would stimulate 
curiosity and recommend the volume. It was therefore not only inserted, but 
put in the title. Besides, Cowper was desirous of showing that, though he wrote 
seriously, he could be sometimes merry. Above all, it would refute the Critical 
reviewer, who had charged him with a vain attempt at humour. 

The new volume was published in June 1785, and public opinion immediately 
placed its author at the head of the poets of fhe age. The first volume had 
sold so slowly, that it was judged desirable to make no mention of it in the 
new title-page (see p. 181) ; but an advertisement of the previous volume, 
with table of contents, was inserted at the end. People were attracted to the 
new book solely by the name of "John Gilpin," eager to see the other works of 

* October 30, 1784. i November 29. % Lines 729-817 of the last book (p. 279). 
§ December 13 and 24, 17S4. || Letter to Hill, Oct. 11, 17S5. 



I.YTROD UCTOR ¥ MEMOIR. ] vii 

who had made such a sensation. They were astonished to find a volume 
of serious poetry, but not the less delightful When once opened, "The Task" 
needed no other recommendation, and more than that, it led them to seek out the 
previously neglected volume. The success was triumphant ; a new edition was 
called for, and next year the two volumes were published together. 

The great beauties of "The Task," and its pure and elevated feeling, can hardly 
be said to make it a poem of the highest class. The very method of its origin was 
some bar to success. The author began it without a definite purpose ; in fact, 
changed his views as he went along, for he began it to please Lady Austen, and 
continued in such a way as to please Mrs. Unwin.* The graceful address to Mrs. 
L'nwin in the First Book, lines 144-162, may very probably have been inserted as 
a compliment, to wipe away any unpleasantness after the rupture with Lady Austen, 
but, on the other hand, it is not impossible that the author's leaving "The Sofa" 
for other subjects may synchronize with the breach. It is curious to mark his 
mode of transition. He hopes he shall never have to lie on the sofa through 
gout, because he likes walking. When he walks, he sees rural scenes. And there- 
upon he goes off into rural scenes, and the Sofa is quite done with and forgotten. 
Of course it is the scenery of Olney which occupies him wholly, and the descrip- 
tion of his walks is as beautiful as any poetry can make it. Towards the end of 
the First Book he again changes his subject, for the purpose of moralizing. The 
country and the life therein are contrasted with the town, and this affords the 
opening for satire, which is just touched in the end of the First Book, but forms 
the staple of the Second. And splendid satire it is, full of vigour, and energy, 
and point, sometimes mere good-humoured badinage, sometimes full of burning 
indignation. It is satire of a different kind from that of his former poems ; it 
is less bilious, more free from personality. Yet, Antceus-like, the author loses 
all his power when he ceases to touch his proper sphere. His faculty of keen 
observation enables him to lash effectively the false pretensions and follies 
which he sees. But his reflections upon the world without are of the poorest c 
kind. He foresees the end of the world close at hand. He rails at the natural 
philosopher who attempts to discover the causes of physical calamities, such as 
earthquakes and diseases ; at the historian who takes the trouble to investigate 
the motives of remarkable men ; at the geologist and the astronomer. For the last 
especially there is nothing but contempt. It would be hard to find a more foolish 
and mischievous piece of rant than that contained in "The Garden," lines 150-190. 
But no man ought to sit in judgment as he has done who lives in retirement. We 
have already spoken of his censoriousness. It came from his want of knowledge of 
men. The hard and revolting view of religion which he took from his theological 
friends was not corrected by any experience of those at whom he railed. His 
indiscriminate abuse of pursuits that did not interest him might just as fairly be 
* See p. 285, lines 1,006-1,011. 



lviii INTROD UCTOR Y MEMOIR. 

applied to his own ; fiddling or chess-playing, to say nothing of natural history 
studies, need not be less innocent than growing cucumbers or making rabbit- 
hutches. It is strange that he did not see that his vaunted method of securing peace 
of mind failed in his own case. He mocked at the folly of others for seeking 
happiness in other pursuits than the simple ones in which he was engaged, and 
yet he was ' ' supremely unhappy " the whole time. A more charitable method, 
if he had been taught it, might have wrought a happy change upon him. 

It is not until we come to the Third Book, " The Garden," that the plan of the 
L^poem becomes definite. As the author expresses it, he has been winding 

. . . now this way, and now that, 
His devious course uncertain." 

Now, however, he settles quietly down to his subject of domestic happiness. Many 
flit to and fro in vain quest of happiness ; he lives at home engaged in simple occu- 
pations. And here we come to one of the chief excellences of the volume, that 
which was lacking in the first volume, and which now had the chief part in winning 
popularity. "TheTaskJMs all about himself . He takes you into his con- 
fidence, and his artless blank verse seems more like a flowing and melodious 
conversation with some dear friend than a service of the Muses. His religious 
thoughts and meditations, his friends, his ill-health, his walks, his tame hares, he 
tells you all about them in a simple straightforward way, as though he were quite 
aware that he is able to interest you in every one of them. There is not a piece of 
description anywhere in which he himself is not in the foreground of the landscape, 
though he never seems intrusive or egotistical. There are some fine pieces of 
description in " The Garden," and the satire upon the gaieties and extravagances 
of London life is pungent and well-deserved. But his attempt to make poetry out 
of minute directions for the raising of a cucumber is not very successful. 

"The Winter Evening-" is delightful throughout ; the interest never flags at all. 
It is the best of his poems. The description of the old postman, of the approach 
of evening, of the Poet's "brown study," of the suffering poor, are all perfect. 
" The Winter Morning Walk," too, begins with pictures equally good, — the 
slanting winter sun, the feeding of the cattle, the woodman toiling through the 
snow, with "pipe in mouth and dog at heels." But the greater part of this 
poem is occupied with a disquisition on Liberty, which the author brings in oddly. 
The icicles remind him of the Russian ice-palace, which leads on to the amuse- 
ments of monarchs, and these to a discussion on monarchy in general, which affords 
the Poet an opportunity of stating his moderate Whig views. 

Though necessarily traversing the same subjects as Thomson, and writing in the 
same metre, Cowper is not at all like him. Thomson is sometimes sublime. But 
he knows less of his subject than Cowper, and is often vague, indistinct, and untrue. 
Cowper never is. Every picture is clear and minute. As he says in one of his 
letters, he describes only what he sees, and takes nothing at second-hand. As 



IX'JRODUCTOR 1 ' MEMOIR. ]i> 



he had never seen a mountain or a lake in his life, never listened to the roar of a 
torrent, nor slept at sea, nor visited a foreign country, and knew next to nothing of 
his own, it is not to be wondered at that he was wedded to his own haunts as 
closely as a snail to its shell, and not a trait of beauty escaped his notice. Ignorance 
of any other language is said to give a great reader unusual command of his own ; i^ 
and Cowper's case was like this. Grand scenery would have weakened his powers ; 
he was not physically capable of enjoying it. Bodily and mental powers alike were 
best suited by the Buckinghamshire lanes and pastures. One may know what 
Olney scenery is like by " The Task" better than by a set of photographs.* Nor 
is this minuteness the work of a mere close observer; he observes as an artist. The 
description of the flowers in " The Garden," lines 560-595, is very pretty and 
natural ; but that in "The \Ynn^y\'alk_a^Noon," lines 141-180, is far more than 
this. The author is not there describing what is before him, but his imagination 
sees the flowers as they will be in the coming summer, and the group of colours is as 
rich and warm as ever was painted by artist. Towards the end of the poem he- 
aims at a higher flight than he has ever aimed at before, and foretells the final 
victory of the Kingdom of God (pp. 2S0-2S2). Herein he reaches, for the first ancL^^ 
only time, sublimity. 

One of the first results of the success of " The Task " was the renewal of intimacy 
between the Poet and his relations. He had said to Unwin at the time of 
publication, " I have had more comfort in the connexions that I have formed within 
the last twenty years, than in the more numerous ones that I had before. Memoran- 
dum, the latter are almost all Unwins or Unwinisms." Several causes had concurred 
to break off the intimacy between him and his relatives. Lady Hesketh had 
been repelled by the religious tone of his letters at Huntingdon, and although 
she retained an unwavering feeling of kindness towards him, she suffered the 
correspondence to drop when she left England with her husband in 1767. 
She was now a widow, Sir Thomas having died in 1782. Her father and 
General Cowper had continued their allowance to him with kindly feeling 
enough, but with pity, as for one who was useless in the world. He did 
not send any of them his first volume. But "The Task" and "John Gilpin " 
soon found it's way to them, and Cowper was nearly wild with delight -when, 
on coming down to breakfast one morning, he found a letter in the well-remem- 
bered hand of Lady Hesketh, franked by his uncle Ashley. It broke a silence of 
nineteen years. Her letter is not in existence ; scarcely any addressed to Cowper 
are. In his answer he declares that she has made them all young again, and 
brought back their happy days as freshly as ever. But he rejoices in her letter 
most of all because it gives him an opportunity of telling her that neither years nor 
interrupted intercourse have abated his affection for her. He does not mention 

* It has been said, I forget by whom, that "he is to Buckinghamshire what Cuyp is to 
Holland." 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 



Theodora, but says that any father is happy who has three such daughters as 
his uncle has.* 

The correspondence thus begun was continued busily. Lady Hesketh soon 
inquired into his money matters, and offered him assistance. He replied with 
frankness. He had always been poor, he said, but Mrs. Unwin, whose income 
had been double his, had shared alike with him. But latterly her income had 
become reduced, and they had been obliged to forego some of their wonted 
comforts. He therefore freely accepted her proffered kindness. ' ' I know you 
thoroughly, and have that consummate confidence in the sincerity of your wish 
to serve me, that delivers me from all awkward restraint, and from all fear of 
trespassing by acceptance. To you, therefore, I reply, yes. Whensoever, and 
whatsoever, and in what manner soever you please ; and add, moreover, that my 
affection for the giver is such as will increase to tenfold the satisfaction that 

I shall have in receiving Strain no points to your own inconvenience 

or hurt, for there is no need of it, but indulge yourself in communicating (no 
matter what) that you can spare without missing it. " t How liberally she 
responded to this will presently appear ; and she gave him additional pleasure by 
causing him to renew his correspondence with the General. 

Very soon he entrusts to her "a great secret, so great that she must not even 
whisper it to her cat." He is engaged in translating Homer, and has done twenty- 
one books of the Iliad. 

He had always been fond of Homer. In the Temple he had gone all through 
it with Pope's translation, and had been thoroughly dissatisfied, discovering, as 
he said, that there was nothing in the world of which Pope was so destitute as 
a taste for Homer. Homer and a Clavis were the only Greek books he had kept 
since. Three or four days after finishing " Tirocinium," + whilst suffering from 
an insupportable attack of melancholy, he took up the "Iliad" as a diversion. 
With no other thought than this he translated the first twelve lines, and on the 
next attack did some more. Finding the work pleasant, he soon took it up as 
a regular employment, and worked at it assiduously. He had been engaged 
just twelve months with it when he made the announcement to Lady Hesketh. 
He soon after removed his injunction of secresy, and asked her to get him sub- 
scribers. He also communicated his design to Newton, not without apprehension 
of objections, but determined not to heed them if any came. However, Newton 
approved. Cowper, moreover, inserted a long letter, signed "Alethes," in the 
Gentleman 's Magazine, pulling Pope's translation to pieces, and maintaining that 
a translation ought to be in blank verse, because otherwise the translator must be 
continually obliged to depart from the meaning of the original in order to bring in 
his rhymes. He ended by saying, that while Homer is grand and sublime, Pope 

* October 12, 1785. t November 9, 1785. I November 12, 1784. 



IN TROD UC TOR Y MEMOIR. 1 x i 



is only stiff and pompous, and that while scholars delight in the original, English 
readers have found the translation turgid, wearisome, and intolerable. 

Having thus prepared the way for himself he wrote to his publisher, announcing 
his intention of publishing by subscription. Johnson endeavoured to dissuade 
him from this, adding that he would make him liberal offers. But Cowper held 
to his purpose, finding that friends to whom he began to communicate his 
design entered into it warmly. One of these was the Rev. Walter Bagot, an 
old schoolfellow, whom he had scarcely seen since leaving Westminster, but who 
had recently taken an opportunity of renewing the acquaintance. He now sent 
him ,£20 beforehand, and asked for a parcel of the subscription papers. At 
the same time a correspondence was renewed with his old friends Colman and 
Thurlow. His angry feelings had passed away after writing the "Valediction,'' 
and he seized at a kind expression of Colman's repeated to him by Hill to write 
him a warm and affectionate letter, which received a like response. 

Colman proved useful at this moment. He had won much credit by his 
translation of Terence, and his criticism was therefore valuable. His en- 
couraging remarks on the specimen which Cowper sent him comforted him for 
many of a contrary kind which he had received. Another favourable judge, for 
a long time unknown to him, proved to be the painter Fuseli, to whom Johnson 
had shown a portion. 

And now, for a while, his peace of mind in great measure returned to him. 
In a letter to his cousin, written in January 1 786, after giving an account of his 
late malady, he adds: " Methinks I hear you ask — your affection for me will, I 
know, make you wish to do so, — Is it quite removed? I reply, In great measure, 
but not quite. Occasionally I am much distressed, but that distress becomes 
continually less frequent, and I think less violent. I find writing, and especially 
poetry, my best remedy. Perhaps, had I understood music, I had never written 
verse, but had lived on fiddle strings instead. It is better, however, as it is." 
And here again : " He who hath preserved me hitherto, will still preserve me. 
All the dangers that I have escaped are so many pillars of remembrance, to which 
I shall hereafter look back with comfort. . . My life has been a life of wonders 
for many years, and a life of wonders I believe in my heart it will be to the 
end. Wonders I have seen in the great deep, and wonders I shall see in the 
paths of mercy also. " * 

Yet this was the time that Newton thought that he was growing worldly, and 
thought proper to warn him about renewing his intercourse with his family ! 
Cowper answered him with warmth, not to say bitterness. The following words 
are significant: "I could show you among them two men, whose lives, though 
they have but little of what we call evangelical light, are ornaments to a Christian 
country — men who fear God more than some who profess to love Him." 

* Januaisy 2: , - 



lxii 1NTR0D UCTOR Y MEMOIR. 

In the spring of this year Lady Hesketh wrote, proposing to visit him in June. 
His delight knew no bounds ; he could talk, write, think of nothing else : "June," 
he said, "was never so wished for before since June was made." And at the 
same time he received an anonymous letter, beseeching him not to overstrain his 
powers, nor be distressed if Homer did not sell to his expectations, and announcing 
the intention of sending him ^50 a year. He poured out his feelings in a letter 
to Lady Hesketh. He had spent hours and hours examining the handwriting. 
First he thought it hers ; then he was confident, from the method of underscoring, 
and the forms of the letters, that it was her father's disguised. The writer has 
never been made known. Lady Hesketh knew, and she seems to have told him 
that it was neither she nor her father. He responded gratefully and touchingly, 
and added that he would not attempt further to penetrate the secret. Though 
he made pretence to talk of his benefactor as he, he must have felt sure, as every 
one else must, that it was Theodora, faithful to her young love. All this will 
explain the following extract from a letter to Unwin, dated " OIney, July 10, 
17S6 :" — 

" Within this twelvemonth my income has received an addition of a clear ,£100 
per annum. For a considerable part of it I am indebted to my dear cousin now 
on the other side of the Orchard. At Florence she obtained me £20 a year from 
Lord Cowper; since he came home she has recommended me with such good 
effect to his notice that he has added twenty more; twenty she has added herself, 
and ten she has procured me from the William of my name whom you saw at 
Hertingfordbury. From my anonymous friend who insists on not being known or 
guessed at, and never shall by me, I have an annuity of £^0. All these sums have 
accrued within this year, except the first, making together, as you perceive, an 
exact century of pounds annually poured into the replenished purse of your once 
poor poet of OIney." 

The " dear cousin " is, of course, Lady Hesketh. She had come in June, 
according to appointment, and taken lodgings at the vicarage, now occupied 
by a bachelor, who only wanted two rooms. The first meeting was too much 
for Cowper, and he fell into an alarming fit of melancholy. But it did not 
last, and they were soon all happy together. She was pleased with Mrs. Unwin, 
and it is to this period that her letters to her sister belong. He wrote to Hill 
that he was happier than he had ever been since he had come to OIney. He 
even wrote cheerfully to Newton, once or twice ; but as time went on his brighter 
hopes faded, and he again spoke of himself as vainly seeking communion with 
God. He had hoped, he said, that he was coming out of the Red Sea, and was 
preparing to sing the song of Moses, but the comfort had once more been wrested 
from him. Still he was hopeful that it might yet come, and embraced every 
promise of it with alacrity. Fspecially he took hold of a thought which Lady 
Hesketh's liveliness inspired, — Ohicy was dull! The floods and the mud kept him 



J.\ J RODUCTORY MEMOIR, lxiii 



a prisoner; both lie and Mrs. Umvin were feeling the want of exercise tell upon 
their health and spirits, — their house was not very convenient, and it was tumbling 
down, ami Lady Hesketh urged them to change. A house at Weston Underwood, 
iging to Mr. Throckmorton, was vacant; there would be pleasant society in 
their friends; the house was offered to them on very liberal terms, and Lady Hesketh 
furnished the means of removal. In November 1786 they left Olney, after a 
residence of nineteen years. 

Will it be believed that Newton again interfered in a most intolerable manner, 
accusing him of deviating into forbidden paths, and leading a life so unbecoming 
the Gospel as to grieve his London friends and amaze the people of Olney? He 
doubted more than ever, he said, whether he would ever be restored to Christian 
privileges again, and added that there was still intercourse between London and 
Olney, and that he should be sure to hear of any fresh evil doings. The sins which 
called forth this solemn warning were that he was, of course, more intimate with 
the Throckmortons, and that he sometimes even took a walk with Lady Hesketh, 
or by himself, on Sunday evenings* It is only fair to Newton to suppose that 
some slanderous tongue had spread false reports ; but he might at least have 
inquired before writing. Even Mr. Bull thinks that in this he "might have 
been a little precipitate. " f 

They had only been a fortnight at Weston when a sore trial fell upon them. 
William Unwin, while on a tour through the southern counties with Henry Thorn- 
ton, the son of their kind friend, sickened and died of typhus fever at Winchester. 
( >f all Cowper's friends he had been the dearest. Of all the affectionate letters 
which Cowper wrote, those to Unwin are the most affectionate. He deserved to 
be loved. From the day that they met under the trees at Huntingdon, his affection 
had never known change. He is buried in the south aisle of Winchester Cathedral. 

Cowper's grief was great, not only for his own loss, but for the mother, the 
widow, and the orphans. But he was perfectly assured of his friend's gain, and 
the habitual composure of Mrs. Unwin also taught him to control his sorrow. His 
letters to his cousin, after the first outburst of sorrow, were as playful as ever, 
and he worked at Homer with unabated zeal. But the clouds were gathering 
again. A month later he had "had a little nervous feeling lately." In 
two months he had only done thirty lines of Homer. He fought hard against 
his terror, as his letters show, but in vain ; and for a while — from January to June 
17S7— he was again in a terrible state. He again attempted self-destruction, 
and very nearly succeeded. He would see no one, nor have any one near him 
but Mrs. Unwin. He recovered almost suddenly, and immediately resumed 
his correspondence. His first letter was to a new friend, from that time onward 
a regular and valued one. This was Samuel Rose, a young man of twenty, 
who, being on his way from Glasgow University to London, turned aside to Olney, 
* Cowper to Unwin, September 24, 1786. t Memorials, p. 285. 



Ixiv INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 

partly to gratify his curiosity, partly to bring him the thanks of some Scotch 

professors. This was on the very eve of his mental attack. On his recovery, 

Cowper hastened to acknowledge the attention. This visit is noteworthy, because 

Rose took occasion of it to present him with the Poems of Burns. When he wrote 

to Rose he had read them all twice, and though the Scotch tongue had been 

somewhat troublesome to him, he was satisfied that the work was "a very 

extraordinary production."* Rose was invited to Weston, and the more 

Cowper saw of him the better he liked him, and the feeling was entirely 

reciprocated, as is shown by Rose's own letters to his sister, still in existence. 

He proved very useful, for he was never better pleased than in transcribing the 

translation of Homer from Cowper's rough copy. Cowper's mind seemed now at 

ease again. He still suffered a good deal from headache and giddiness, t but was 

in great hopes of ultimate recovery. He stood godfather to one of Rose's children, 

who was accordingly christened "William Cowper." Another point which was 

noticed by Lady Hesketh was that he said grace at his dinner. In his darkest 

moods he used, while grace was being said, to play with his knife and fork 

ostentatiously, as proving that he had no part nor lot in worshipping God. 

Mr. Throckmorton gave him the run of his library, and seeing, as he often said, 

that he had no books of his own,+ this was a great benefaction. It is remarkable 

that the only letters of his at this time which are dark and sad are those to 

Newton. Though he esteemed him as highly as ever, many of his former illusions 

had been connected with him, and, conscious of that, Cowper always dreaded 

the time when friendship required him to write. 

Lady Hesketh was to visit him in the spring of 1 788, but the continued illness 

of her father, now eighty-six years old, forced her to put off the visit from time 

to time. In one of his letters to her Cowper enclosed a poem, which he 

entitled " Benefactions ; a poem in Shenstone's manner. Addressed to my dearest 

Coz, April 14, 1 788. " This poem he afterwards altered into the form in which 

it will be found in p. 357 of this volume. But the two last stanzas as they stood 

originally, bearing so entirely on his present condition, ought not to be lost. They 

ran thus : — 

" These items endear my abode, 
Disposing me oft to reflect 
By whom they were kindly bestowed, 

Whom here I impatient expect. 
But hush ! She a parent attends, 

Whose dial hand points to eleven, 
Who, oldest and dearest of friends, 
Waits only a passage to heaven. 



* July 24, 1787. 

t ' ' The jarrings make my skull feel like a broken egg-shell. ... I have a perpetual din in my 
liead, and though I am not deaf, hear nothing aright, neither my own voice, nor that of others. I 
am under a tub, from which tub accept my best love. — Yours, W.C." — To Lady Hesketh, Sept. 
•29, 1787. 

1 He says in one letter that he lias bought a Latin dictionary, and now, perhaps, will buy more 
Latin books to make it useful, for that at present he has only a Virgil. 



IXTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. lxv 



" Then willingly want her awhile, 

And, sweeping the cords of your lyre, 
The gloom of her absence beguile, 

As now, with poetical tire. 
'Tis yours, for true glory athirst, 

In high-tlying ditty to rise 
On feathers renown'd from the first 

For bearing a goose to the skies." 

The old man died in the following June. The letters of consolation which 
Cowper -wrote to Lady Hesketh are very beautiful. lie says in one: " I often 
think what a joyful interview there has been between him and some of his 
contemporaries who went before him. The truth of the matter is, my dear, 
that they are the happy ones, and that we shall never be such ourselves until 
we have joined the party." It is sad after reading this to come upon a letter 
to Mr. Newton, written after a visit from him in the following August, marked by 
the old despair. 

The beginning of 1 790 found him still renewing old acquaintances and making 
fresh ones. This time it was his mother's relatives, of whom he had heard nothing 
since his childhood. John Johnson was the grandson of his mother's brother, 
Roger Donne, rector of Catfield, in Norfolk. He was a Cambridge undergraduate, 
who had written a poem, and brought it to his relative for his opinion. It was not 
very favourable,* but the youth still rejoiced in his visit, for Cowper's heart yearned 
towards him. He went back quite delighted, with an introduction to Lady Hesketh, 
and much Homer to transcribe. On telling his aunt, Mrs. Bodham, how Cowper 
had received him, and how warmly he had expressed his affection for her (for 
they had been playfellows as children), she sent him an affectionate letter, and 
with it a portrait of his mother. He acknowledged the gift in one of the most 
charming of his letters, and wrote upon it the beautiful elegy of which we have 
already spoken. We see in it how the memory of the touch of her vanished hand, 
of the sound of her stilled voice, almost gave him peace of mind. Had anything 
earthly been able to do so, it would have been the memory of his mother's love. 
But his desire was unto that which is eternal and immortal, and until this desire 
was fulfilled, even until mortality was swallowed up of life, darkness rested upon 
his soul. This poem will always testify, not only the earnestness of his love and 
the strength of his faith in God, but also the truth thit — 

" Nor man, nor nature, satisfy whem only God created." 

Another correspondent was Clotworthy Rowley, of Stoke-by-Nayland, with whom 
he had been intimate in the Temple, but whom he had not seen since. Rowley 
opened correspondence on the occasion of returning half a dozen books, which 

* Cowper's advice to him is worth repeating, whether sound or not: "Remember that in 
writing, perspicuity is always more than half the battle. The want of it is the ruin of more than 
half the poetry that is published. A meaning that does not stare you in the face is as bad as nc 
meaning, because nobody will take the pains to poke for it." , 



lxvi LVTR OD UC TOR V MEMOIR. 



Cowper had lent him twenty-five years before. A Mrs. King also, wife of a friend 
of his brother, introduced herself on the strength of that, and was kindly received. 
Last, not least, Thurlow, whom Lady Hesketh had found means to reach, 
interested himself in the subscription to his Homer (August 1788), and they 
exchanged some letters on the relative merits of rhyme and blank verse. It is 
noticeable that Cowper, who wrote the first letter, begins " My Lord," and 
Thurlow with "Dear Cowper." But Cowper sticks to his original form of 
address. 

Whilst engaged busily on Homer, he was constantly throwing off small pieces, as 
relaxations. Amongst them were the poems on the slave trade,* which Lady 
Hesketh asked him to write. He also composed a few review articles. The poem 
on the Queen's visit to London (p. 370) was written at Lady Hesketh 's request, she 
probably hoping that he would succeed Warton as Poet Laureate. But when the 
latter died in the following year Cowper begged her not to think of it. "He 
should never," he said, "write anything more worth reading if he were appointed." 
So the honour was not asked for, and Pye t was appointed. 

The Homer was published in the summer of 1791. His illness and long-con- 
tinued intervals of incapacity for work had occasioned the delay. Johnson took all 
expenses, and paid him £1,000, the copyright remaining Cowper's. It was pub- 

* Pp. 363-365. 

f I cannot resist the temptation of laying a specimen of his productions before the reader : — 

"AN ODE ON HER MAJESTY'S BIRTHDAY. 

"Britannia hail the blessed day, 
Ye smiling seasons sing the same, 
The birth of Albion's Queen proclaim, 
Great Ceesar's fame and regal sway, 
Ye gentle tides and gales convey 
To foreign lands, that sink with fear ; 
While victories and laurels come 
To heighten joy and love at home : 
Can Heaven greater gifts confer? 
Can more success a monarch share ? 

Ye songsters of the serial tribe, 
Break forth in sweet melodious sounds ; 
Ye flowery fields and fertile grounds, 
Rich treasures yield for Cesar's bride. 

Ye autumns and ye winters sing. 
Due praise and honour to out king. 

A I R. 

" The heavens to ease a monarch's care, 
Benignly gave Charlotte the fair ; 
Who adds such lustre to the crown, 
Such strong alliance, great renown, 
By royal birth and noble mind. 
As claim no wonder from mankind, 
That so much worth and goodness prove, 
An object fit for Ctrsar's love. 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR, Ixvii 



Jisheil in two volumes, quarto, at three guineas. I do not feel competent to criticize 
it. It seem-, to me dreary and dull, but not more so than other translations 
of Homer, lie was qualified by his scholarship, which Pope was not. The 
translation, therefore, is probably as accurate as any translation can be. But he 
had no sympathy for the wars and battles. Arthur dough's commentary on it is, 
after all, the most exhaustive — "Where is the man who has ever read it? ' His 
undertaking it at all seems to me one of the misfortunes arising from the breach 
with Lady Austen. She might have suggested something better than the wasting 
of five years in such profitless labour. 

What next ? For both he and his friends had learned that continual occupation 
was necessary to his well-being. Lady Hesketh was for another long poem, and 
proposed to him "The Mediterranean" as a subject. He replied, truly, that he 
did not know history enough, and that, moreover, it seemed a subject not for one 
poem, but for twenty. A neighbouring clergyman, Mr. Buchanan, proposed "The 
Four Ages of Man. " He liked the idea extremely, and began upon it. He began 
also "Yardley Oak," keeping it apparently as a secret with which to surprise his 
friends when it was finished. Eut Johnson invited him to undertake an edition 
of Milton, as a match for Boydell's Shakespeare, Cowper to write notes and translate 
the Latin and Italian poems, and Fuseli to do the illustrations. He undertook this, 
and did the work of translation with great pleasure, as well as success. But the 

Recitat I v o. 

" Britons, with heart-felt joy, with decent mirth. 
Hail now your Queen, hail now the day of birth ; 
Send voice for blessings, send wishes to the sky, 
For peace, long life, and numerous progeny. 



" See envy's self is fain to own 
Those virtues which adorn the throne ; 
While home-bred faction droops her head, 
See liberty and justice spread 
Their happy influence around, 
The land where plenteous stores abound, 
Of wealth and grain, where arts and science 
To every nation bid defiance. 

R E c I T A T I v o. 

' Fly hence, ye gloomy cares, 
For you here's no employ ; 
Here sweetest ease appears, 
With real love and joy. 

Chorus. 

" While George and Cluirlotte rule the land, 
Nor storms nor threats we'll fear, 
Their names our seas and coasts defend, 
And drive our foes afar ; 
Each season, and each year, shall roll 
Their fame and power from pole to pole. ' 
e 2 



lxviii INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 

notes were irksome to him; oftentimes he would sit down and be unable to write 
anything, and it became clear, after long effort, that the engagement must be 
given up. 

For not only was his spirit becoming darkened again, but another great sorrow 
was impending over him. Mrs. Unvin, who had never recovered a fall on some 
ice in the winter of 17S8-9, was seized with paralysis in December 1791. She 
recovered slowly as the spring came on, but the effect upon Cowper's spirits could 
not but be severe. 

He had taken the fancy that he heard voices speaking to him on waking in 
the morning. Sometimes he understood them, but more often they were unintel- 
ligible. A schoolmaster at Olney, Samuel Teedon (whether knave or fool may be 
doubtful), whose uncouth compliments and heavy-witted opinions Cowper had often 
quizzed, undertook to interpret these voices. Mrs. Unwin at first appears to have 
humoured his fancy, but as her disease grew upon her, she too fell in with the 
insanity, and now nothing was done until the voices had spoken, and Teedon had 
interpreted. The balderdash was all written down, and volumes were filled with it. 
No one but themselves were made acquainted with these miserable proceedings. 
Sir John Throckmorton too, on succeeding to the baronetcy, left the neighbourhood 
for his late father's residence in Oxfordshire, and this must have been a great loss 
at such a trying time, though his successor afterwards proved equally kind to them. 
He was Sir John's younger brother, George, but had taken the name of Courtenay. * 

The Milton engagement brought Cowper one pleasure before it came to an 
end. It was the cause of his friendship with Hayley. The latter had been engaged 
by Boydell to write a life for a sumptuous edition of Milton, and the public were thus 
led to believe that Hayley and Cowper were engaged as rivals. Hayley was much 
distressed, and wrote to Cowper, hitherto a stranger to him, to assure him that he 
had no idea that the latter was so engaged, and pointing out that their two works 
would be so different in character that they would not clash. He added the 
wannest expressions of respect and admiration, and enclosed also a sonnet to him. 
Cowper responded in a like spirit ; the correspondence thus begun was carried on 
with energy, and in May 1791 Hayley visited him at Weston. But before he had 
been there long Mrs. Unwin had a second and more severe attack of paralysis. 
Hayley's kindness and usefulness under this trial endeared him to Cowper for 
life; and on Mrs. Unwin's partial recovery, the two recluses, in the following July, 
returned his visit at his residence at Eartham in Sussex. Cowper might well 
call such a journey a " tremendous exploit" for them, considering what their life 
for twenty years had been. 

No one reads Hayley's plays or poems now, but he was an amiable and remark- 
able man. His domestic life was unhappy and irregular, and some of his writings 

* He had, on previous visits to his brother, been one of the most ardent transcribers of Homer, 
aad his wife had been dubbed "my lady of the ink-bottle." 



INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. lxix 

are prurient, but he was most unselfish and generous towards his friends; his 

ig was extensive, and his critical power considerable. Gibbon visited Eartham, 

and called it a little paradise, but declared that its owner's mind was even more 

elegant than it Thurlow, Flaxman, Warton, all loved and admired him, and 

.\ard poured forth admiring verses upon him. 

Cowper, who had hardly ever seen a hill in his life, was of course delighted with 
the South Downs, the wide landscape, the sea, and the Isle of Wight. He could 
not write, however ; all was so strange to him. "I am like the man in the fable," 
he said, "who could leap nowhere but at Rhodes." He gave some help to Hayley 
in translating "Adam," an Italian dramatic poem, a wretchedly poor work, not 
worth reprinting. Poor Charlotte Smith was staying there, writing "The Old 
Manor House." She was wonderfully rapid, and used each evening to read to 
them what she had written in the day. On this occasion, too, Romney, who 
was Hayley's dearest friend, took the portrait by which Cowper is so well known 
to us. The portrait by Abbot had been taken just before starting for Eartham. 

Six weeks were spent here — happy weeks; but Cowper began to pine for quiet 
\Ye--ton again. Repose and seclusion had always suited him best ; he felt them 
indispensable to him now. Mrs. Unwin's continued infirmities, and the declining 
season of the year, concurred in making him anxious to be gone, and they 
returned to Weston in September. How he wrote to Teedon day after day, 
and week after week, we pause not to relate; it is most distressing to read 
the letters. Xewton never exercised a greater power over him than this man, 
who received all his confidences, prescribed to him what prayers to use, and 
how long a time to spend in them, and prognosticated his future. Cowper 
paid him from time to time much more money than he could afford, even 
while, sound in all respects but one, he was making hearty fun of his 
absurdity and vanity. Mrs. Unwin, too, got worse ; and he who had been the 
object of her care so long now became her tender and attentive nurse. The 
poor woman became so irritable and exacting that his health, comfort, and 
peace of mind were sacrificed to her fancies. She sat silent, looking into the 
fire, unable to work or to read ; under such circumstances he had little heart to 
write. His state became more wretched and dark than ever. Small doses of 
James' powders, or a small quantity of laudanum taken at night, were the best 
remedies that he had found, he says. "I seem to myself," he wrote to Newton, j 
"to be scrambling always in the dark, among rocks and precipices, without 
a guide, but with an enemy ever at my heels, prepared to push me headA 
long. Thus I have spent twenty years, but thus I shall not spend twenty years J 
more. Long ere that period arrives, the grand question concerning everlasting/ 
weal or woe will be decided." Lady Hesketh might have wrought him good, 
perhaps, but she had fallen out of health, and was ordered to Bath. Besides, she 

* Nov. ii, 1793. 



lxx INTROD UCTOR Y MEMOIR. 

knew nothing of the Teedon delusion, and was quite abroad in her thoughts of the 
doings at Weston. The schoolmaster's promises of relief within a specified period 
failed, and, as a matter of course, Cowper, who had trusted to them implicitly, 
came to the conclusion that God had finally forsaken him and cast him off. 

But what is so especially touching in the history of this sad period is that he fought 
so hard against his insanity. His letters to his friends are still playful and witty, 
and a great number of his smaller poems belong to this year. He worked at Milton 
as long as it was possible, and he studied the old commentaries on Homer, with u 
view of improving his second edition when it should be called for. There are 
passages in his letters which lead one to believe that if he had only iiad r. fair chance 
his mind might have recovered itself. But what chance was there, with Teedon on 
one side and poor Mrs. Unwin on the other? In one of his letters he says that 
while he is writing it, she is sitting in her corner, sometimes bursting into a laugh 
at nothing, sometimes talking nonsense, to which no one thinks of paying attention. 
And yet this was, for months, the only "conversation" that he had; and she would 
not even let him read, except aloud to her. The only way by which he could gain 
any leisure was to rise at six, begin work at once, and breakfast at eleven ; and 
this he did in winter as well as in summer. In the autumn of 1 793 Lord Spencer 
invited him to Althorpe to meet Gibbon, who was making a long stay there, and 
he was much tempted to go. But the state of his spirits, as well as Mrs. Unwin's 
infirm condition, unhappily compelled him to decline the invitation. 

Towards the end of the year 1793, just after he had dropped the Miltonic 
engagement, Lady Hesketh came to Weston. Hayley had been there a few weeks 
before; but in April 1794 received a message from her entreating him to come 
again, for that the unhappy patient had become much worse. He came at once. 
It was evidently a terrible sight to them ; Hayley's unaffected description is most 
pathetic. The poor sufferer would hardly eat anything, and refused all medicine, 
walking backwards and forwards incessantly in his bedroom, believing from hour 
to hour that the devil was coming to carry him away. At Thurlow's request, 
Dr. Willis, whose success in the king's insanity had made his name renowned, 
came to Weston, but found the case past his skill. A letter came from Lord 
Spencer, announcing that the king granted Mr. Cowper a pension of .£300 a year, 
but he was not in a condition to receive the announcement. Whilst he was worn 
out with fatigue, anguish, and fasting, Mrs. Unwin would insist on his dragging 
her round the garden. She persisted too in keeping the management of the 
household, and the reckless extravagance below stairs amazed and horrified Lady 
Hesketh, who, however, bravely struggled on for more than a year, vainly hoping 
to relieve him. She then wrote to his cousin Johnson, who had been recently 
ordained, urging the necessity of removal, and he came and succeeded in per- 
suading Cowper to consent to it. It was spoken of as temporary, otherwise 
the consent would never have been given ; but when it came to the last Cowper 



IXTA-ODUCrOR Y MEMOIR. 



felt that he should never return. He wrote, unseen by any one, these lines on a 

window-shutter : — 

" Farewell, dear scenes, for ever closed to me : 
Oh ! for what sorrows must I now exchange ye." 

It was the 30th of July, 1795. He saw the Ouse once more, at St. Neots, on his 
journey. And as he walked with Johnson through the churchyard in the moon- 
light, he talked with cheerfulness. It was the last time that he was ever to do 
so. They went first to North Tuddenham, then to Mundsley, on the coa>t, where 
Johnson noticed that the monotonous sound of the breakers seemed to soothe him, 
and finally they settled at Dunham Lodge, near Swaffham. Johnson tried to coax 
him into composition or correspondence, but without avail. The only thing 
that seemed to please him was being read to, and they read Richardson's novels to 
him. This was evidently successful, and novel-reading was accordingly persisted 
Presently Johnson spoke in his hearing of some criticisms on his Homer, 
and laid the volumes where he could see them. They soon found that he had 
sought out the passages, and had made some corrections in his translation in 
consequence. But Dunham proving inconvenient, they moved to a house in the 
little town of Ea^t Dereham in October 1796. Two months afterwards (Dec. 17) 
Mrs. Unwin was released from her sufferings. Johnson took Cowper to see her 
corpse. He gazed for a minute or two, then uttered some half-finished excla- 
mation of sorrow, and was led away. He regained his calmness down-stairs, 
asked for a glass of wine, "'and from that time never alluded to her again. She 
was buried by torchlight, that he might not know the time of the funeral. 

His friends hoped that Mrs. Unwin's release might allow of Cowper's re- 
storation. But the hope was vain. The gloom which rested upon him was 
dark as ever. Means, wise and unwise, were tried to dispel it+ — the only one 
which at all succeeded being the attempt to interest him in his Homer. In 
September 1797 Johnson placed the revised copy open before him at the place 
where he had left it off twelve months before, and opened all the commentaries at 
the same place. Then after talking upon other subjects to him he led up to this. 
After a while the Poet took up one of the books and sat down on the sofa, 
saying in a low and plaintive voice, " I may as well do this, for I can do nothing 
else." And from that time he continued steadily at the work. There were 
few outward signs of any alleviation of his misery, but he was always more 
composed when thus engaged ; and his letters to Lady Hesketh, though appal- 
ling in their fixed despair, occasionally contain "dear cousin," and "yours 
affectionately, '' both of which expressions he had quite dropped. Old friends 

* " He is wonderfully calm now, and made me give him a glass of wine the moment he got down, 
and took two pinches of snuff, which he had not done lor nearly a week."— Extract Jrom 
Johnson s letter announcing the death. 

t One of them was the clandestine insertion of tubes into his bedroom, through which mes- 
sages were spoken, professing to be supernatural, and intended to nullify the Teedon " voice 



lxxii INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR. 

who came to see him, though he would not speak to them, nor appear 
to notice them, evidently were of some comfort to him, for he spoke of 
them afterwards. In March 1799 he finished with Homer. Johnson then 
put the unfinished " Four Ages of Man" before him. He altered a few lines, 
and added two or three more. But he was evidently past this. Easier subjects 
were mentioned. At length he said that he had thought of some Latin verses 
which he thought he might do, and next day he wrote " Montes Glaciales." 
The story had been read to him at Dunham Lodge, but he had not appeared to 
take any notice. A few days afterwards he translated it into English, and the 
next day wrote "The Castaway," founded upon a story in "Anson's Voyages," 
which he had heard read. some months before. This was his last original poem. He 
still seemed to like being read to, and he listened to Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works 
and to his own poems, except "John Gilpin," which he forbade. Vincent 
Bourne was brought to him again, and he translated a few more of the poems, 
as well as some Fables from Gay. This was in Jan. 1800. The last words which 
he ever wrote were a correction of a mistranslation in Homer, which Hayley in 
a letter had pointed out. Two days afterwards (Feb. 1) signs of dropsy appeared 
in his feet, and a physician was called in. On his asking him how he felt, 
"I feel unutterable despair," was the answer. The last visitor who came to 
see him was Rose. Cowper showed evident regret at his departure. 

There was a Miss Perowne, a friend of Miss Johnson, who was staying with them, 
who had more influence with him than any one. She only, and she not always, 
could persuade him to take any medicine. Mr. Johnson took courage, on one 
occasion, to speak to him of death as the deliverance from misery. He seemed to 
listen, but made no answer. Then Johnson spoke yet more encouragingly — spoke 
of the unutterable blessedness which God has prepared for those who love Him, 
and therefore for him. He was quiet until the last four words, then he passionately 
entreated that no such words should be spoken more. And so the sad days passed 
on, and no comfort appeared. So near was he to the eternal sunrise now, and yet 
not a ray of its light appeared to herald the day-dawn. Not an echo reached the 
dying man's ear of the voice of the Good Shepherd who walked by his side through 
that horrible valley. The ship was in the midst of the sea, all the waves and 
storms of despair beating and surging over it, and the Saviour was not yet visible, 
though He was walking on the waters. 

Miss Perowne offered the sufferer a cordial. He refused it, saying, "What 
can it signify?" Those were his last words. Soon after, the tranquillity of 
unconsciousness came on, and lasted for some hours. It was five o'clock in the 
evening of St. Mark's Day, 1800, when the happy change came. Even so we 
must all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Thank God. 

"From that moment," says the relative who loved him so well, "until the 
coffin was closed, the expression into which his countenance had settled was 



fXTKOnrCTOKY MEMOIR. lxxiii 



that of calmness and composure, mingled as it were with holy surprise." A 
pretty fancy we may call this ; but who can doubt that it symbolized the 
simple truth ? All who had ever known him loved him ; but the love of the 
Lest of us grows cold before the might of Thine, O most merciful Father of us 
all. Thy judgments are like the great deep ; but Thy righteousness standeth 
like the strong mountains. 



O poets ! from a maniac's tongue, was poured the deathless singing ! 
O Christians ! at your cross of hope, a hopeless hand was clinging ! 
O men ! this man, in brotherhood, your weary paths beguiling. 
Groaned inly while he taught you peace, and died while ye were smiling ! 

And now, what time ye all may read through dimming teats his story, 
How discord on the music fell, and darkness on the glory, 
And how, when one by one, sweet sounds and wandering lights departed, 
He bore no less a loving face because so broken-hearted : 

He shall be strong to sanctify the poet's high vocation, 

And bow the meekest Christian down in meeker adoration : 

Nor ever shall he be, in praise, by wise or good forsaken ; 

Named softly, as the household name of one whom God hath taken. 

Elizabeth Barrett-Browning. 



He was buried on Saturday, May 2, in Dereham Church, in St. Edmund's 
Chapel : Mrs. Unwin is buried in the north aisle. Lady Hesketh had a monu- 
ment erected to him, for which Hayley wrote the following inscription :— 

In Memory 

Of WILLIAM COYYTER, Esq. 
Born in Hertfordshire 1 73 1. 
Buried in this Church 1800. 

Ye, who with warmth the public triumph feel 

Of talents, dignified by sacred zeal, 

Here, to devotion's bard devoutly just, 

Pay your fond tribute due to Cowper's dust ! 

England, exulting in his spotless fame, 

Ranks with her dearest sons his favourite name : 

Sense, fancy, wit, suffice not all to raise 

So clear a title to affection's praise : 

His highest honours to the heart belong ; 

His virtues form'd the magic of his song. 



THE POETICAL WORKS 



WILLIAM COWPER 



1 



EARLY POEMS. 

(P U B L I S II E D P < ) S T HUMOUSLY.] 
VERSES, 

WRITTEN AT BATH IN HIS 17TII YEAR, ON FINDING THE HEEL OF A SHOE 

Fortune ! I thank thee : gentle Goddess, thanks ! 

Not that my Muse, though bashful, shall deny 

She would have thanked thee rather hadst thou cast 

A treasure in her way ; for neither meed 

Of early breakfast, to dispel the fumes 

And bowel-raking pains of emptiness, 

Nor noontide feast, nor evening's cool repast, 

Hopes she from this, presumptuous, — though perhaps 

The cobbler, leather-carving artist, might. 

Nathless she thanks thee, and accepts thy boon, 

Whatever ; not as erst the fabled cock, 

Vain-glorious fool, unknowing what he found, 

Spurned the rich gem thou gavest him. Wherefore, ah ! 

Why not on me that favour (worthier sure !) 

Conferredst thou, Goddess? Thou art blind, thou say'st : 

Enough ! thy blindness shall excuse the deed. 

Nor does my Muse no benefit exhale 
From this thy scant indulgence ; — even here, 
Hints, worthy sage Philosophy, are found, 
Illustrious hints, to moralize my song. 
This ponderous heel of perforated hide 
Compact, with pegs indented many a row, 
Haply (for such its massy form bespeaks) 
The weighty tread of some rude peasant clown 
Upbore: on this supported oft he stretched. 
With uncouth strides, along the furrowed glebe, 
Flattening the stubborn clod, till cruel Time, 
(What will not cruel Time ? ) on a wry step, 
Severed the strict cohesion ; when, alas ! 
He, who could erst with even equal pace 
Pursue his destined way with symmetry 
And some proportion formed, now on one side, 
Curtailed and maimed, the sport of vagrant boys, 
Cursing his frail supporter, treacherous prop ! 
With toilsome steps, and difficult, moves on. 
Thus fares it oft with other than the feet 
Of humble villager : the statesman thus, 
Up the steep road where proud ambition leads, 

9, R 



SOXG. 



i 74 8 



Aspiring,' first uninterrupted winds 
His prosperous way ; nor fears miscarriage foul, 
While policy prevails and friends prove true : 
But that support soon failing, by him left 
On whom he most depended, — basely left, 
Betrayed, deserted, — from his airy height 
Headlong he falls, and through the rest of life 
Drags the dull load of disappointment on. 



TRANSLATION OF PSALM CXXXVII. 



To Babylon's proud waters brought, 

In bondage where we lay, 
"With tears on Sion's Hill we thought, 

And sighed our hours away ; 
Neglected on the willows hung 
Our useless harps, while every tongue 

Bewailed the fatal day. 

Then did the base insulting foe 

Some joyous notes demand, 
Such as in Sion used to flow 

From Judah's happy band : 
Alas ! what joyous notes have we, 
Our country spoiled, no longer free, 

And in a foreign land? 
O Solyma ! if e'er thy praise 

Be silent in my song, 
Rude and unpleasing be the lays, 

And artless be my tongue ! 



Thy name my fancy still employs ; 
To thee, great fountain of my joys, 
My sweetest airs belong. 

Remember, Lord ! that hostile sound, 
When Edom's children cried, 

" Razed be her turrets to the ground, 
And humbled be her pride ! " 

Remember, Lord ! and let the foe 

The terrors of thy vengeance know, 
The vengeance they defied ! 

Thou too, great Babylon, shalt fall 

A victim to our God; 
Thy monstrous crimes already call 

For heaven's chastising rod. 
Happy who shall thy little ones 
Relentless dash against the stones, 

And spread their limbs abroad. 



SONG. 



No more shall hapless Celia's ears 

Be fluttered with the cries 
Of lovers drowned in floods of tears, 

Or murdered by her eyes ; 
No serenades to break her rest, 
Nor songs her slumbers to molest, 

With my fa, la, la. 

The fragrant flowers that once would 
And flourish in her hair, [bloom 

Since she no longer breathes perfume 
Their odours to repair, 

Must fade, alas ! and wither now, 

As placed on any common brow, 

With my fa, la, la. 

Her lip, so winning and so meek, 

No longer has its charms ; 
As well she might by whistling seek 

To lure us to her arms; 



Affected once, 'tis real now, 

As her forsaken gums may show, 

With my fa, la, la. 

The down that on her chin so smooth 

So lovely once appeared, 
That, too, has left her with her youth, 

Or sprouts into a beard ; 
As fields, so green when newly sown, 
With stubble stiff are overgrown, 

With my fa, la, la. 

Then, Celia, leave your apish tricks. 
And change your girlish airs, 

For ombre, snuff, and politics, 
Those joys that suit your years; 

No patches can lost youth recall, 

Nor whitewash prop a tumbling wall, 
With my fa, la, la. 



THE SYMPTOMS OF LOVE. 



THE CERTAINTY OF DEATH. 



MORTALS ! around your destined heads 
Thick fly the shafts of Death, 

And lo ! the savage spoiler spreads 
A thousand toils beneath. 

In vain we trifle with our fate; 

Try every art in vain ; 
At best we but prolong the date, 

And lengthen out our pain. 

Fondly we think all danger fled, 

For Death is ever nigh ; 
( Uilstrips our unavailing speed, 

Or meets us as we fly. 



Thus the wrecked mariner may strive 
Some desert shore to gain, 

Secure of life, if he survive 
The fury of the main. 

But there, to famine doomed a prey, 
Finds the mistaken wretch 

lie but escaped the troubled sea, 
To perish on the beach. 

Since then in vain we strive to guard 

Our frailty from the foe, 
Lord, let me live not unprepared 

To meet the fatal blow ! 



OF HIMSELF. 



William was once a bashful youth ; 

His modesty was such, 
That one might say (to say the truth) 

He rather had too much. 

Some said that it was want of sense, 

And others want of spirit, 
(So blest a thing is impudence,) 

While others could not bear it. 

But some a different notion had, 
And at each other winking, 

Observed, that though he little said, 
He paid it off with thinking. 

Howe'er, it happened, by degrees, 
He mended and grew perter ; 

In company was more at ease, 
And dressed a little smarter ; 

Nay, now and then would look quite 

gay* 

As other people do ; 



And sometimes said, or tried to say, 
A witty thing or so. 

He eyed the women, and made free 
To comment on their shapes ; 

So that there was, or seemed to be, 
Xo fear of a relapse. 

The women said, who thought him 
rough, 

But now no longer foolish, 
"The creature may do well enough, 

But wants a deal of polish." 

At length, improved from head to heel, 
'Twere scarce too much to say, 

Xo dancing bear was so genteel, 
Or half so degage. 

Xow that a miracle so strange 

May not in vain be shown, 
Let the dear maid who wrought 
change 

E'er claim him for her own. 



THE SYMPTOMS OF LOVE. 

WOULD my Delia know if I love, let her take 

My last thought at night, and the first when I wake ; 

When my prayers and best wishes preferred for her sake. 

Let her guess what I muse on. when, rambling alone, 
I stride o'er the stubble each day with my gun, 
Never ready to shoot till the covey is flown. 



LOVE POEMS. 



Let her think what odd whimsies I have in my brain, 
When I read one page over and over again, 
And discover at last that I read it in vain. 

Let her say why so fixed and so steady my look, 
Without ever regarding the person who spoke, 
Still affecting to laugh, without hearing the joke. 

Or why when with pleasure her praises I hear 
(That sweetest of melody sure to my ear), 
I attend, and at once inattentive appear. 

And lastly, when summoned to drink to my flame, 
Let her guess why I never once mention her name, 
Though herself and the woman I love are the same. 



AN APOLOGY 



FOR NOT SHOWING HER WHAT I HAD WROTE. 



Did not my Muse (what can she less ?) 
Perceive her own unworthiness, 
Could she by some well-chosen theme 
But hope to merit your esteem, 
She would not thus conceal her lays, 
Ambitious to deserve your praise. 
But should my Delia take offence, 
And frown on her impertinence, 
In silence, sorrowing and forlorn, 
Would the despairing trifler mourn, 



Curse her ill-tuned, unpleasing lute, 
Then sigh and sit for ever mute. 
In secret therefore let her play, 
Squandering her idle notes away 
In secret as she chants along, 
Cheerful and careless in her song ; 
Nor heeds she whether harsh or clear, 
Free from each terror, every fear, 
From that, of all most dreaded, free, 
The terror of offending Thee. 
Cutfield, July 1752. 



At tlie same place. 

Delta, the unkindest girl on earth, 
When I besought the fair, 

That favour of intrinsic worth, 
A ringlet of her hair, 

Refused that instant to comply 

With my absurd request, 
For reasons she could specify, 

Some twenty score at least. 

Trust me, my dear, howevet odd 

It may appear to say, 
I sought it merely to defraud 

Thy spoiler of his prey. 

Yes ! when its sister locks shall fade, 
As quickly lade they must, 



When all their beauties are decayed, 
Their gloss, their colour, lost — 

Ah then ! if haply to my share 
Some slender pittance fall, 

If I but gain one single hair, 
Nor age usurp them all ; — 

When you behold it still as sleek, 

As lovely to the view, 
As when it left thy snowy neck, — 

That Fcien where it grew, — 

Then shall my Delia's self declare 
That I professed the truth, 

And have preserved my little share 
In everlasting youth. 



SOJVGS. 



AN ATTEMPT AT THE MANNER OF WALLER. 



Din not thy reason and thy sense, 
With most persuasive eloquence, 
Convince me that obedience due 
None may so justly claim as you, 
By right of beauty you would be 
Mistress o'er my heart and me. 

Then fear not I should e'er rebel, 
My gentle love ! I might as well 
A froward peevishness put on, 
And quarrel with the mid-day sun ; 



Or question who gave him a right 
To be so fiery anil so bright. 

Nay, this were less absurd and vain 
Than disobedience to thy reign ; 
His beams are often too severe; 
But thou art mild, as thou art fair; 
First from necessity we own your sway, 
Then scorn our freedom, and by choice- 
obey. 
Drayton, March 1753. 



A SONG. 



The sparkling eye, the mantling cheek, 
The polished front, the snowy neck, 

How seldom we behold in one ! 
Glossy looks, and brow serene, 
Venus' smiles, Diana's mien, 

All meet in you, and you alone. 

Beauty like other powers maintains 
Her empire, and by union reigns; 
Each single feature faintly warms : 



But where at once we view displayed 
L T nblemished grace, the perfect maid 
Our eyes, our ears, our heart alarms 

So when on earth the god of day 
Obliquely sheds his tempered ray, 

Through convex orbs the beams 
transmit, 
The beams that gently warmed before, 
Collected, gently warm no more, 

But glow with more prevailing heat 



A SONG. 



On the green margin of the brook 
Despairing Phyllida reclined, 

Whilst every sigh and every look 
Declared the anguish of her mind. 

" Am I less lovely then? (she cries, 
And in the waves her form surveyed ;> 

Oh yes, I see my languid eyes, 
My faded cheek, my colour fled : 

These eyes no more like lightning pierced, 

These cheeks grew pale, when Damon 
first 
His Phyllida betrayed. 

" The rose he in his bosom wore, 
How oft upon my breast was seer. ! 



And when I kissed the drooping flower 
' Behold,' he cried, ' it blooms again ! ' 

The wreaths that bound my braided 
hair, 

Himself next day was proud to wear 
At church, or on the green." 

While thus sad Phyllida lamented, 

Chance brought unlucky Thyrsis 

Lnwillingly the nymph consented, 

But Damon first the cheat begun. 
She wiped the fallen tears away, 
Then sighed and blushed, as who 
should say, 
" Ah ! Thyrsis, I am won." 



AN ODE. 



UPON A VENERABLE RIVAL. 



Full thirty frosts since thou wert young 
Have chilled the withered grove, 

Thou wretch ! and hast thou lived so long, 
Nor yet forgot to love ! 

Ye Sages ! spite of your pretences 

To wisdom, you must own 
Your folly frequently commences 

When you acknowledge none. 

Not that I deem it weak to love, 

Or folly to admire ; 
But ah ! the pangs we lovers prove 

Far other years require. 



Unheeded on the youthful brow 
The beams of Phcebus play ; 

But unsupported Age stoops low 
Beneath the sultry ray. 

For once, then, if untutored youth, 
Youth unapproved by years, 

May chance to deviate into truth, 
When your experience errs ; 

For once attempt not to despise 

What I esteem a rule : 
Who early loves, though young, is wise, - 

Who old, though grey, a fool. 



AN ODE 



ON READING MR. RICHARDSON S HISTORY OF SIR CHARLES GRANDISON. 



Say, ye apostate and profane, 
Wretches who blush not to disdain 

Allegiance to your God, 
Did e'er your idly-wasted love 
Of virtue for her sake remove 

And lift you from the crowd ? 

Would you the race of glory run ? 
Know, the devout, and they alone, 

Are equal to the task : 
The labours of the illustrious course 
Far other than the unaided force 

Of human vigour ask, 

To arm against repeated ill 

The patient heart, too brave to feel 

The tortures of despair; 
Xor safer yet high-crested Pride, 
When wealth flows in with every tide 

To gain admittance there. 

To rescue from the tyrant's sword 
The oppressed; — unseen and unim- 
plored, 
To cheer the face of woe ; 



From lawless insult to defend 
An orphan's right, a fallen friend, 
And a forgiven foe ; — 

These, these distinguish from the crowd, 
And these alone, the great and good, 

The guardians of mankind ; 
Whose bosoms with these virtues heave, 
Oh, with what matchless speed they 
leave 

The multitude behind! 

Then ask ye, from what cause on earth 
Virtues like these derive their birth? 

Derived from Heaven alone, 
Full on that favoured breast they shine, 
Where Faith and Resignation join 

To call the blessing down. 

Such is that heart ;— but while the Muse 
Thy theme, O Richardson, pursues, 

I [er feebler spirits faint ; 
She cannot reach, and would not wrong, 
That subject for an angel's song, 

The hero, and the saint J 



LOVE POEMS. 



IN A LETTER TO C. P., ESQ. 

ILL WITH THE RHEUMATISM. 

Grant me the Muse, ye gods ! whose humble flight 
Seeks not the mountain-top's pernicious height ; 
Who can the tall Parnassian cliff forsake, 
To visit oft the still Lethean lake ; 
Now her slow pinions brush the silent shore, 
Now gently skim the unwrinkled waters o'er, 
There dips her downy plumes, thence upward flies, 
And sheds soft slumbers on her votary's eyes. 



IN A LETTER TO THE SAME. 

IN IMITATION OF SHAKESPEARE. 

Trust me, the meed of praise, dealt thriftily 
From the nice scale of judgment, honours more 
Than does the lavish and o'erbearing tide 
Of profuse courtesy. Not all the gems 
Of India's richest soil at random spread 
O'er the gay vesture of some glittering dame, 
Give such alluring vantage to the person, 
As the scant lustre of a few, with choice 
And.comely guise of ornament disposed. 



At Cutfield. 

This evening, Delia, you and I 
Have managed most delightfully, 

For with a frown we parted ; 
Having contrived some trifle that 
We both may be much troubled at, 

And sadly disconcerted. 

Yet well as each performed their part, 
We might perceive it was but art ; 

And that we both intended 
To sacrifice a little ease; 
For all such petty flaws as these 

Are made but to be mended. 



You knew, dissembler ! all the while. 
How sw y eet it was to reconcile 

After this heavy pelt ; 
That we should gain by this allay 
When next we met, and laugh away 

The care we never felt. 

Happy ! when we but seek to endure 
A little pain, then find a cure 

By double joy requited ; 
For friendship, like a severed bone, 
Improves and gains a stronger tone 

When aptly reunited. 



WRITTEN IN A QUARREL. 

(THE DELIVERY OF IT PREVENTED BY A RECONCILIATION.) 



Think, Delia, with what cruel haste 
Our fleeting pleasures move, 

Nor heedless thus in sorrow waste 
The moments due to love ; 



Be wise, my fair, and gently treat 
These few that are our friends ; 

Think, thus abused, what sad regret 
Their speedy flight attends ! 



LOVE POEMS. 



Sure in those eyes I love so well, 
And wished so long to see, 

Anger I thought could never dwell, 
Or anger aimed at me. 

No bold offence of mine I knew 
Should e'er provoke your hate ; 

And, early taught to think you true, 
Still hoped a gentler fate. 



With kindness bless the present hour, 

Or oh ! we meet in vain ! 
What can we do in absence more 

Than suffer and complain? 

Fated to ills beyond redress, 
We must endure our woe ; 

The days allowed us to possess, 
'Tis madness to forego. 



See where the Thames, the purest 

stream 
That wavers to the noon-day beam, 

Divides the vale below ; 
While like a vein of liquid ore 
His waves enrich the happy shore, 

Still shining as they flow ! 

Nor yet, my Delia, to the main 
Runs the sweet tide without a stain, 

Unsullied as it seems ; 
The nymphs of many a sable flood 
Deform with streaks of oozy mud 

The bosom of the Thames. 

Some idle rivulets, that feed 
And suckle every noisome weed, 

A sandy bottom boast ; 
For ever bright, for ever clear, 
The trifling shallow rills appear 

In their own channel lost. 

Thus fares it with the human soul. 
Where copious floods of passion roll, 
By genuine love supplied ; 



Fair in itself the current shows, 
But ah ! a thousand anxious woes 
Pollute the noble tide. 

These are emotions known to few ; 
For where at most a vapoury dew 

Surrounds the tranquil heart, 
There as the triflers never prove 
The glad excess of real love, 

They never prove the smart. 

Oh then, my life, at last relent ! 
Though cruel the reproach I sent, 

My sorrow was unfeigned : 
Your passion, had I loved you not, 
You might have scorned, renounced, 
forgot, 

And I had ne'er complained. 

While you indulge a groundless fear, 
The imaginary woes you bear 

Are real woes to me : 
But thou art kind, and good thou art, 
Nor wilt, by wronging thine own heart, 

Unjustly punish me. 



How blest the youth whom Fate ordains 
A kind relief from all his pains, 

In some admired fair; 
Whose tenderest wishes find expiv 
Their own resemblance in her breast, 

Exactly copied there ! 

What good soe'er the gods dispense, 
The enjoyment of its influence 

Still on her love depends ; 
Her love, the shield that guards his 

heart, 
( >r wards the blow, or blunts the dart 

That peevish Fortune sends. 

Thus, Delia, while thy love endures, 
The flame my happy breast secures 
From Fortune's fickle power ; 



Change as she list, she may increase, 
But not abate my happiness, 
Confirmed by thee before. 

Thus while I share her smiles with thee, 
Welcome, my love, shall ever be 

The favours she bestows ; 
Yet not on those I found my bliss, 
But in the noble ecstasies 

The faithful bosom knows. 

And when she prunes her wings for 

flight, 
And flutters nimbly from my sight, 

Contented I resign 
Whate'er she gave ; thy love alone 
I can securely call my own, 

Happy while that is mine. 



EPISTLE TO ROBERT LLOYD, ESQ. 



AN EPISTLE TO ROBERT LLOYD, ESQ. 



'Tis not that I design to rob 
Thee of thy birthright, gentle Bob, 
For thou art born sole heir and single 
Of dear Mat Prior's easy jingle; 
Nor that I mean, while thus I knit 
My threadbare sentiments together, 
To show my genius or my wit, 
When God and you know I have 

neither ; 
Or such, as might be better shown 
By letting poetry alone. 
'Tis not with either of these views 
That I presume to address the Muse : 
But to divert a fierce banditti 
(Sworn foes to every thing that's witty), 
That, with a black infernal train, 
Make cruel inroads in my brain, 
And daily threaten to drive thence 
My little garrison of sense : 
The fierce banditti which I mean, 
Are gloomy thoughts led on by Spleen. 
Then there's another reason yet, 
Which is, that I may fairly quit 
The debt which justly became due 
The moment when I heard from you : 
And you might grumble, crony mine, 
If paid in any other coin ; 
Since twenty sheets of lead, God knows, 
(I would say twenty sheets of prose,) 
Can ne'er be deemed worth half so much 
As one of gold, and yours was such. 
Thus the preliminaries settled, 
I fairly find myself pitch-kettled ; 
And cannot see, though few see better, 
How I shall hammer out a letter. 

First, for a thought — since all agree — 
A thought — I have it — let me see — 
'Tis gone again — plague on't ! I thought 
I had it — but I have it not. 
Dame Gurton thus, and Hodge her son, 
That useful thing, her needle, gone, 
Rake well the cinders, sweep the floor, 
And sift the dust behind the door; 
While eager Hodge beholds the prize 
In old grimalkin's glaring eyes ; 
And Gammer finds it on her knees 
In every shining straw she sees. 
This simile were apt enough, 



But I've another, critic-proof. 

The virtuoso thus at noon, 

Broiling beneath a July sun, 

The gilded butterfly \ ursues 

O'er hedge and ditch, through gaps and 

mews, 
And after many a vain essay 
To captivate the tempting prey, 
Gives him at length the lucky pat, 
And has him safe beneath his hat : 
Then lifts it gently from the ground ; 
But ah ! 'tis lost as soon as found ; 
Culprit his liberty regains ; 
Flits out of sight and mocks his pains. 
The sense was dark, 'twas therefore fit 
With simile to illustrate it ; 
But as too much obscures the sight, 
As often as too little light, 
We have our similes cut short, 
For matters of more grave import. 
That Matthew's numbers run with ea>e 
Each man of common sense agrees ; 
All men of common sense allow, 
That Robert's lines are easy too; 
Where then the preference shall we 

place, 
Or how do justice in this case? 
'"Matthew," says Fame, "with endless 

pains 
Smoothed and refined the meanest 

strains, 
Nor suffered one ill-chosen rhyme 
To escape him at the idlest time ; 
And thus o'er all a lustre cast, 
That while the language lives shall 

last." 
"An't please your ladyship," quoth I, 
(For 'tis my business to reply, ) 
" Sure so much labour, so much toil, 
Bespeak at least a stubborn soil. 
Theirs be the laurel-wreath decreed, 
Who both write well and write full speed ; 
Who throw their Helicon about 
As freely as a conduit spout ! 
Friend Robert, thus like chien scalar.!. 
Lets fall a poem en passant, 
Nor needs his genuine ore refine ; 
'Tis ready polished from the mine." 



OX THE MARRIAGE OF A FRIEXD. 



ODE, SUPPOSED TO BE WRITTEN ON THE 
MARRIAGE OF A FRIEND. 

Thou magic lyre, whose fascinating sound 
Seduced the savage monsters from their cave, 

Drew rocks and trees, and forms uncouth around, 
And bade wild Hebrus hush his listening wave ; 

No more thy undulating warblings flow 

O'er Thracian wilds of everlasting snow ! 

Awake to sweeter sounds, thou magic lyre, 
And paint a lover's bliss — a lover's pam ! 

Far nobler triumphs now thy notes inspire, 
For see, Eurydice attends thy strain ; 

Her smile, a prize beyond the conjurer's aim, 

Superior to the cancelled breath of fame. 

From her sweet brow to chase the gloom of care, 
To check the tear that dims the beaming eye, 

To bid her heart the rising sigh forbear, 

And flush her orient cheek with brighter joy, 

In that dear breast soft sympathy to move, 

And touch the springs of rapture and of love. 

Ah me! how long bewildered and astray, 
Lost and benighted, did my footsteps rove, 

Till sent by Heaven to cheer my pathless way, 
A star arose — the radiant star of love. 

The God propitious joined our willing hands, 

And Hymen wreathed us in his rosy bands. 

Vet not the beaming eye, or placid brow, 
Or golden tresses, hid the subtle dart ; 

To charms superior far than those I bow, 

And nobler worth enslaves my vanquished heart ; 

The beauty, elegance, and grace combined, 

Which beam transcendent from that angel mind. 

While vulgar passions, meteors of a day, 
Expire before the chilling blasts of age, 

< )ur holy flame with pure and steady ray, 

Its glooms shall brighten, and its pangs a»uage; 

By Virtue (sacred vestal) fed, shall shine, 

And warm our fainting souls with energy divine. 



( >N HER ENDEAVOURING TO CONCEAL HER GRIEF AT PARTING. 

AH ! wherefore should my weeping maid suppress 

Those gentle signs of undissembled woe? 
When from soft love proceeds the dec]) distr 

Ah ! why forbid the willing tears to flow? 



LOVE POEMS. 



Since for my sake each dear translucent drop 
Breaks forth, best witness of thy truth sincere, 

My lips should drink the precious mixture up, 
And, ere it falls, receive the trembling tear. 

Trust me, these symptoms of thy faithful heart 
In absence shall my dearest hopes sustain ; 

Delia ! since such thy sorrow that we part, 
Such when we meet thy joy shall be again. 

Hard is that heart and unsubdued by love 
That feels no pain, nor ever heaves a sigh ; 

Such hearts the fiercest passions only prove, 
Or freeze in cold insensibility. 

Oh ! then indulge thy grief, nor fear to tell 

The gentle source from whence thy sorrows flow 

Nor think it weakness when we love to feel, 
Nor think it weakness what we feel to show. 



Bid adieu, my sad heart, bid adieu to thy peace ! 
Thy pleasure is past, and thy sorrows increase ; 
See the shadows of evening how far they extend, 
And a long night is coming, that never may end ; 
For the sun is now set that enlivened the scene, 
And an age must be past ere it rises again. 

Already deprived of its splendour and heat, 
I feel thee more slowly, more heavily beat ; 
Perhaps overstrained with the quick pulse of pleasure, 
Thou art glad of this respite to beat at thy leisure ; 
But the sigh of distress shall now weary thee more 
Than the flutter«and tumult of passion before. 

The heart of a lover is never at rest, 

With joy overwhelmed, or with sorrow oppressed : 

When Delia is near, all is ecstasy then, 

And I even forget I must lose her again : 

When absent, as wretched as happy before, 

Despairing I cry, " I shall see her no more ! " 

Bcrkhamstead. 

WRITTEN AFTER LEAVING HER AT NEW BURNS. 

Hi iW quick the change from joy to woe ! : While on her dear enchanting tongue 

How chequered is our lot below ! i Soft sounds of grateful welcome hung, 

Seldom we view the prospect fair, | For absence had withheld it long. 

Dark clouds of sorrow, pain, and care , "Welcome, my long-lost love," she 
(Some pleasing intervals between, said, 

Scowl over more than half the scene. ; " E'er since our adverse fates decreed 

Last week with Delia, gentle maid, That we must part, and I must mourn 

Far hence in happier fields I strayed, I Till once more blessed by thy return, 



R S. S. 



Love, on whose influence I relied 
For all the transports I enjoyed, 
Has played the cruel tyrant's part 
And turned tormentor to my heart. 
But let me hold thee to my breast, 
Dear partner of my joy and rest, 
And not a pain, and not a fear 
Or anxious doubt, shall enter there." 
Happy, thought I, the favoured youth, 
Blessed with such undissembled truth ! 
Five suns successive rose and set, 
And saw no monarch in his state, 
Wrapped in the blaze of majesty, 
So free from every care as I. 

Next day the scene was overcast ; 
Such day till then I never passed. 
For on that day, — relentless fate ! — 

A t Berkluimstead. 



Delia and I must separate. 
Yet ere we looked our last farewell, 
From her dear lips this comfort fell : 
" Fear not that time, where'er we rove, 
Or absence, shall abate my love." 
And can I doubt, my charming maid, 
As unsincere what you have said ? 
Banished from thee to what I hate, 
Dull neighbours and insipid chat, 
No joy to cheer me, none in view, 
But the dear hope of meeting you ; 
And that through passion's optic scene, 
With ages interposed between ; 
Blessed with the kind support you give, 
'Tis by your promised truth I live ; 
How deep my woes, how fierce my 

flame, 
You best may tell who feel the same. 



R. S. S. 

All-worshipped Gold! thou mighty mystery ! 

Say by what name shall I address thee rather, 

Our blessing, or our bane? Without thy aid, 

The generous pangs of pity but distress 

The human heart, that fain would feel the bliss 

Of blessing others ; and, enslaved by thee, 

Far from relieving woes which others feel, 

Misers oppress themselves. Our blessing then 

With virtue when possessed ; without, our bane. 

If in my bosom unperceived there lurk 

The deep-sown seeds of avarice or ambition, 

Blame me, ye great ones (for I scorn your censure) 

But let the generous and the good commend me 

That to my Delia I direct them all, 

The worthiest object of a virtuous love. 

Oh ! to some distant scene, a willing exile 

From the wild uproar of this busy world, 

Were it my fate with Delia to retire ; 

With her to wander through the sylvan shade, 

Each mom, or o'er the moss-imbrowtied turf, 

Where, blessed as the prime parents of mankind 

In their own Eden, we would envy none ; 

But, greatly pitying whom the world calls happy, 

Gently spin out the silken thread of life ; 

While from her lips attentive I receive 

The tenderest dictates of the purest flame, 

And from her eyes (where soft complacence sits 

Illumined with the radiant beams of sense) 



WRITTEN IN A FIT OF ILLNESS. 



'3 



Tranquillity beyond a monarch's reach. 

Forgive me, Heaven, this only avarice 

My soul indulges ; I confess the crime 

(If to esteem, to covet such perfection 

Be criminal). Oh, grant me Delia ! grant me wealth ! 

Wealth to alleviate, not increase my wants ; 

And grant me virtue, without which nor wealth 

Nor Delia can avail to make me blessed. 



WRITTEN IX A FIT OF ILLNESS. 
R. S. S. 

In these sad hours, a prey to ceaseless pain, 

While feverish pulses leap in every vein, 

When each faint breath the last short effort seems 

Of life just parting from my feeble limbs ; 

How wild soe'er my wandering thoughts may be, 

Still, gentle Delia, still they turn on thee ! 

At length if, slumbering to a short repose, 

A sweet oblivion frees me from my woes, 

Thy form appears, thy footsteps I pursue 

Through springy vales, and meadows washed in dew ; 

Thy arm supports me to the fountain's brink, 

Where by some secret power forbid to drink, 

Gasping with thirst, I view the tempting flood 

That flies my touch, or thickens into mud ; 

Till thine own hand immerged the goblet dips, 

And bears it streaming to my burning lips. 

There borne aloft on Fancy's wing we fly, 

Like souls embodied to their native sky; 

Now every rock, each mountain, disappears ; 

And the round earth an even surface wears ; 

When lo! the force of some resistless weight 

Bears me straight down from that pernicious height ; 

Parting, in vain our struggling arms we close ; 

Abhorred forms, dire phantoms interpose ; 

With trembling voice on thy loved name I call ; 

And gulfs yawn ready to receive my fall. 

From these fallacious visions of distress 

I wake ; nor are my real sorrows less. 

Thy absence, Delia, heightens ever)' ill, 

And gives e'en trivial pains the power to kill. 

Oh ! wert thou near me ; yet that wish forbear ! 

'Twere vain, my love, — 'twere vain to wish thee near ; 

Thy tender heart would heave with anguish too, 

And by partaking, but increase my woe. 

Alone I'll grieve, till gloomy sorrow past, 

Health, like the cheerful day-spring, comes at last, — 

Comes fraught with bliss to banish every pain, 

Hope, joy, and peace, and Delia in her train ! 



I4 TO DELIA. 



TO DELIA. 

Me to whatever state the gods assign, 
Believe, my love, whatever state be mine, 
Ne'er shall my breast one anxious sorrow know, 
Ne'er shall my heart confess a real woe, 
If to thy share Heaven's choicest blessings fall, 
As thou hast virtue to deserve them all. 
Yet vain, alas ! that idle hope would be 
That builds on happiness remote from thee. 
Oh ! may thy charms, whate'er our fate decrees, 
Please, as they must, but let them only please- 
Not like the sun with equal influence shine, 
Nor warm with transport any heart but mine. 
Ye who from wealth the ill-grounded title boast 
To claim whatever beauty charms you most ; 
Ye sons of fortune, who consult alone 
Her parents' will, regardless of her own, 
Know that a love like ours, a generous flame, 
No wealth can purchase, and no power reclaim. 
The soul's affection can be only given 
Free, unextorted, as the grace of Heaven. 

Is there whose faithful bosom can endure 
Pangs fierce as mine, nor ever hope a cure ? 
Who sighs in absence of the dear-loved maid, 
Nor summons once Indifference to his aid ? 
Who can, like me, the nice resentment prove, 
The thousand soft disquietudes of love ; 
The trivial strifes that cause a real pain ; 
The real bliss when reconciled again ? 
Let him alone dispute the real prize, 
And read his sentence in my Delia's eyes; 
There shall he read all gentleness and truth, 
But not himself, the dear distinguished youth ; 
Pity for him perhaps they may express — 
Pity, that will but heighten his distress. 
But, wretched rival ! he must sigh to see 
The sprightlier rays of love directed all to me. 

And thou, dear Antidote of every pain 
Which fortune can inflict, or love ordain, 
Since early love has taught thee to despise 
What the world's worthless votaries only prize, 
Believe, my love ! no less the generous god 
Rules in my breast, his ever blest abode ; 
There has he driven each gross desire away. 
Directing every wish and every thought to thee 
Then can I ever leave my Delia's arms 
A slave, devoted to inferior charms? 
Can e'er my soul her reason so disgrace? 
For what blest minister of heavenly race 
Would quit that heaven to find a happier place? 



LAST STANZAS TO DELIA. 15 



HOPE, like the short-lived ray that gleams awhile 
Through wintry skies, upon the frozen waste, 

Cheers e'en the face of Misery to a smile ; 
But soon the momentary pleasure's past. 

How oft, my Delia, since our last farewell 

(Years that have rolled since that distressful hour), 

Grieved I have said, when most our hopes prevail. 
Our promised happiness is least secure. 

( )ft I have thought the scene of troubles closed, 
And hoped once more to gaze upon your charms ; 

As oft some dire mischance has interposed, 

And snatched the expected blessing from my arms. 

The seaman thus, his shattered vessel lost, 

Still vainly strives to shun the threatening death ; 

And while he thinks to gain the friendly coast, 
And drops his feet, and feels the sands beneath, 

Borne by the wave steep-sloping from the shore, 
Back to the inclement deep, again he beats 

The surge aside, and seems to tread secure ; 

And now the refluent wave his baffled toil defeats 

Had you, my love, forbade me to pursue 
My fond attempt ; disdainfully retired, 

And with proud scorn compelled me to subdue 
The ill-fated passion by yourself inspired ; 

Then haply to some distant spot removed, 

Hopeless to gain, unwilling to molest 
With fond entreaties whom I dearly loved, 

Despair or absence had redeemed my rest. 

But now, sole partner in my Delia's heart, 
Yet doomed far off in exile to complain, 

Eternal absence cannot ease my smart, 

And Hope subsists but to prolong my pain. 

Oh then, kind Heaven, be this my latest breath ! 

Here end my life, or make it worth my care ; 
Absence from whom we love is worse than death, 

And frustrate hope severer than despair. 



ON THE DEATH OF SIR W. RUSSELL. 

Doomed, as I am, in solitude to waste 
The present moments, and regret the past ; 
Deprived of every joy I valued most, 
My friend torn from me, and my mistress lost, 



i6 



FIFTH SATIRE OF THE FIRST BOOK' OF HORACE. 



Call not this gloom I wear, this anxious mien, 
The dull effect of humour, or of spleen ! 
Still, still I mourn, with each returning day, 
Him snatched by fate in early youth away, 
And her, through tedious years of doubt and pain, 
Fixed in her choice, and faithful, but in vain ! 
O prone to pity, generous, and sincere, 
Whose eye ne'er yet refused the wretch a tear; 
Whose heart the real claim of friendship knows, 
Nor thinks a lover's are but fancied woes ; 
See me — ere yet my destined course half done, 
Cast forth a wanderer on a world unknown ! 
See me neglected on the world's rude coast, 
Each dear companion of my voyage lost ! 
Nor ask why clouds of sorrow shade my brow, 
And ready tears wait only leave to flow ! 
Why all that soothes a heart from anguish free, 
All that delights the happy — palls with me! 



THE F IFTH SATIRE OF THE FIRST BOOK OF HORACE. 

A HUMOROUS DESCRIPTION OF THE AUTHOR'S JOURNEY FROM ROME TO BRUNDUSIL'M. 



I was a long journey lay before us, 
When I and honest Heliodorus, 
Who far in point of rhetoric 
Surpasses every living Greek, 
Each leaving our respective home, 
Together sallied forth from Rome. 

First at Aricia we alight, 
And there refresh and pass the night, 
Our entertainment rather coarse 
Than sumptuous, but I've met with 

worse. 
Thence o'er the causeway soft and fair 
To Appii Forum we repair. 
But as this road is well supplied 
(Temptation strong!) on either side 
With inns commodious, snug, and warm, 
We split the journey, and perform 
In two days' time what's often done 
By brisker travellers in one. 
Here rather choosing not to sup 
Than with bad water mix my cup, 
After a warm debate in spite 
Of a provoking appetite, 
I sturdily resolve at last 
To balk it, and pronounce a fast, 



And in a moody humour wait, 
While my less dainty comrades bait. 
Now o'er the spangled hemisphere 
Diffused the starry train appear, 
When there arose a desperate brawl ; 
The slaves and bargemen, one and all, 
Rending their throats (have mercy on 

us!) 
As if they were resolved to stun us. 
".Steer the barge this way to the shore ! 
I tell you we'll admit no more ! 
Plague! will you never be content?" 
Thus a whole hour at least is spent, 
While they receive the several fares, 
And kick the mule into his gears. 
Happy, these difficulties past, 
Could we have fallen asleep at last ! 
But, what with humming, croaking, 

biting, 
Gnats, frogs, and all their plagues 

uniting, 
These tuneful natives of the lake 
Conspired to keep us broad awake. 
Besides, to make the concert full. 
Two maudlin wights, exceeding dull, 



FIFTH SATIRE OF TUB FIRST HOOK OF HORACE. 



The bargeman and a passenger, 
Each in his turn, essayed an air 
In honour of his absent fair. 
At le.igth the passenger, oppressed 
'With wine, left off, and snored the rest. 
The weary bargeman too gave o'er, 
And hearing his companion snore, 
Seized the occasion, fixed the barge, 
Turned out his mule to graze at large, 
And slept forgetful of his charge. 

And now the sun o'er eastern hill 
Discovered that our barge stood still ; 
When one, whose anger vexed him sore, 
With malice fraught, leaps quick on 

shore, 
riucks up a stake, with many a thwack 
Assails the mule and driver's back. 

Then slowly moving on with pain, 
At ten Feronia's stream we gain, 
And in her pure and glassy wave 
Our hands and faces gladly lave. 
Climbing three miles, fair Anxur's height 
We reach, with stony quarries white. 

While here, as was agreed, we wait, 
Till, charged with business of the state, 
Maecenas and Cocceius come 
(The messengers of peace) from Rome, 
My eyes, by watery humours blear 
And sore, I with black balsam smear. 

At length they join us, and with them 
Our worthy friend Fonteius came; 
A man of such complete desert, 
Antony loved him at his heart. 
At Fundi we refused to bait, 
And laughed at vain Aufidius' state, 
A praetor now, a scribe before, 
The purple-bordered robe he wore, 
His slave the smoking censer bore. 
Tired, at Muraena's we repose, 
At Formia sup at Capito's. 

With smiles the rising morn we greet, 
At Sinuessa pleased to meet 
With Plotius, Varius, and the bard 
Whom Mantua first with w*onder heard. 
The world no purer spirits know r s, 
For none my heart more warmly glows. 
Oh ! what embraces we bestowed, 
And with what joy our breasts o'erflowed! 
Sure while my sense is sound and clear, 
Long as I live, I shall prefer 
A gay, good-natured, easy friend, 
To every blessing Heaven can send. 



At a small village, the next night, 
Near the Vulturnus, we alight ; 
Where, as employed on state affairs, 
We were supplied by the purveyor* 
Frankly at once, and without hire, 
With food for man and horse, and fire, 
Capua next day betimes we reach, 
Where Virgil and myself, who each 
Laboured with different maladies, 
His such a stomach, mine such eyes, 
As would not bear strong exercise, 
In drowsy mood to sleep resort ; 
Maecenas to the tennis-court. 
Next at Cocceius' farm we're treated, 
Above the Caudian tavern seated ; 
His kind and hospitable board 
With choice of wholesome food was 

stored. 
Now, O ye Nine, inspire my lays ! 
To nobler themes my fancy raise ! 
Two combatants, who scorn to yield 
The noisy, tongue-disputed field, 
Sarmentus and Cicirrus, claim 
A poet's tribute to their fame ; 
Cicirrus of true Oscian breed, 
Sarmentus, who was never freed, 
But ran away. We won't defame him ; 
His lady lives, and still may claim him. 
Thus dignified, in harder fray 
These champions their keen wit display, 
And first Sarmentus led the way. 
"Thy locks," quoth he, "so rough and 

coarse, 
Look like the mane of some wild horse.'' 
We laugh : Cicirrus undismayed, 
"Have at you!" cries, and shakes his 

head. 
"Tis well," Sarmentus says, "you've 

lost 
That horn your forehead once could 

boast ; 
Since maimed and mangled as you are, 
You seem to butt."' A hideous scar 
Improved ('tis true) with double grace 
The native horrors of his face. 
Well ; after much jocosely said 
Of his grim front, so fiery red, 
(For carbuncles had blotched it o'er, 
As usual on Campania's shore,) 
"Give us," he cried, "since you're so 

big, 
A sample of the Cyclops' jig ! 



XIXTII SATIRE OF THE FIRST BOOK OF HORACE. 



Your shanks methinks no buskins ask, 

Nor does your phiz require a mask." 

To this Cicirrus : "In return 

Of you, sir, now I fain would learn, 

When 'twas, no longer deemed a slave, 

Your chains you to the Lares gave. 

For though a scrivener's right you claim, 

Your lady's title is the same. 

But what could make you run away, 

Since, pigmy as you are, each day 

A single pound of bread would quite 

O'erpower your puny appetite?" 

Thus joked the champions, while we 

laughed, 
And many a cheerful bumper quaffed. 

To Beneventum next we steer; 
Where our good host by over care 
In roasting thrushes lean as mice 
Had almost fallen a sacrifice. 
The kitchen soon was all on fire, 
And to the roof the flames aspire. 
There might you see each man and 

master 
Striving, amidst this sad disaster, 
To save the supper. Then they came 
With speed enough to quench the flame. 
From hence we first at distance see 
The Apulian hills, well known to me, 
Parched by the sultry western blast ; 
And which we never should have past, 
Had not Trivicus by the way 
Received us at the close of day. 
But each was forced at entering here 
To pay the tribute of a tear, 
For more of smoke than fire was seen, 
The hearth was piled with logs so green. 



From hence in chaises we were carried 
Miles twenty-four, and gladly tarried 
At a small town, whose name my verse 
(So barbarous is it) can't rehearse. 
Know it you may by many a sign, 
Water is dearer far than wine. 
There bread is deemed such dainty fare, 
That every prudent traveller 
His wallet loads with many a crust; 
For at Canusium, you might just 
As well attempt to gnaw a stone 
As think to get a morsel down. 
That too with scanty streams is fed ; 
Its founder was brave Diomed. 
GoodVarius (ah, that friends must part! ) 
Here left us all with aching heart. 
At Rubi we arrived that day, 
Well jaded by the length of way, 
And sure poor mortals ne'er were wetter. 
Next day no weather could be better ; 
No roads so bad ; we scarce could crawl 
Along to fishy Barium's wall. 
The Egnatians next, who by the rules 
Of common sense are knaves or fools, 
Made all our sides with laughter heave, 
Since we with them must needs believe, 
That incense in their temples burns, 
And without fire to ashes turns. 
To circumcision's bigots tell 
Such tales ! for me, I know full well, 
That in high heaven, unmoved by care, 
The gods eternal quiet share : 
Nor can I deem their spleen the cause 
Why fickle Nature breaks her laws. 
Brundusium last we reach : and there 
Stop short the Muse and Traveller. 



THE NINTH SATIRE OF THE FIRST BOOK OF HORACE. 



Till-: DESCRIPTION OF AN IMPERTINENT. ADAPTED TO THE PRESENT TIMES. 



Sain ferinc, along the street one day, 

On trifles musing by the way, 

l"p steps a free familiar wight; 

(I scarcely knew the man by sight.) 

"Carlos," he cried, "your hand, my dear. 

Gad, I rejoice to meet you here ! 

Pray Heaven I see you well!"— "So, 

so; 
Even well enough, as times now go. 
The same good wishes, sir, to you." 



Finding he still pursued me close, 
"Sir, you have business, I suppose." — 
" My business, sir, is quickly done, 
'Tis but to make my merit known. 
Sir, I have read" — "O learned sir, 
You and your learning I revere." 
Then, sweating with anxiety, 
And sadly longing to get free, 
Gods ! how I scampered, scuffled for't, 
Ran, halted, ran again, stopped short, 



NINTH SATIRE OF THE FIRST BOOK OF HORACE. 



19 



Beckoned my boy, and pulled him near, 
And whispered nothing in his ear. 

Teased with his loose unjointed chat, 
'What street is this? What house is 
that?" 

Harlow ! how I envied thee 
Thy unabashed effrontery, 

Who darest a foe with freedom blame, 
And call a coxcomb by his name ! 
When I returned him answer none, 
( obligingly the fool ran on, 
" I see you're dismally distressed, 
Would give the world to be released, 
But, by your leave, sir, I shall still 
Stick to your skirts, do what you will. 
Pray which way d< >es your journey tend ? " 
"'< >h : 'tis a tedious way, my friend, 
Across the Thames, the Lord knows 
where : 

1 would not trouble you so far." — 
"Well, I'm at leisure to attend you." — 
"Are you?" thought I, "the De'il 

befriend you ! " 
No ass with double panniers racked, 
Oppressed, o'erladen, broken-backed, 
E'er looked a thousandth part so dull 
As I, nor half so like a fool. 
"Sir, I know little of myself," 
Proceeds the pert conceited elf, 
" If Gray or Mason you will deem 
Than me more worthy your esteem. 
Poems I write by folios, 
As fast as other men write prose. 
Then I can sing so loud, so clear, 
That Beard cannot with me compare. 
In dancing, too, I all surpass, 
Not Cooke can move with such a 

grace." 
Here I made shift, with much ado, 
To interpose a word or two. — 
"Have you no parents, sir? Xo friends. 
Whose welfare on your own depends?" 
"Parents, relations, say you? No. 
They're all disposed of long ago." — 
" Happy to be no more perplexed ! 
My fate too threatens, I go next. 
Dispatch me, sir, 'tis now too late, 
Alas ! to struggle with my fate ! 
Well, I'm convinced my time is come. 
When young, a gipsy told my doom ; 
The beldame shook her palsied head, 
As she perused my palm, and said, 



' Of poison, pestilence, or war, 
Gout, stone, defluxion, or catarrh, 
You have no reason to beware. 
Beware the coxcomb's idle prate ; 
Chiefly, my son, beware of that ; 
Be sure, when you behold him, fly 
Out of all earshot, or you die !'" 

To Rufus' Hall we now drew near, 
Where he was summoned to appear, 
Refute the charge the plaintiff brought, 
Or suffer judgment by default. 
"For Heaven's sake, if you love me, wait 
One moment! I'll be with you straight." 
Glad of a plausible pretence — 
" Sir, I must beg you to dispense 
With my attendance in the court. 
My legs will surely suffer for't." — 
"Nay, prithee, Carlos, stop awhile'" 
"Faith, sir, in law I have no ski!!. 
Besides, I have no time to spare, 
I must be going, you know where." — 
"Well, I protest, I'm doubtful now, 
Whether to leave my suit or you!" — 
"Me, without scruple!" I reply, 
"Me, by all means, sir!" — "IS'o, not I. 
Aliens, Monsieur!" 'Twere vain, you 
To strive with a victorious foe. [know, 
So I reluctantly obey, 
And follow where he leads the way . 
"'You and Newcastle are so close : 
Still hand and glove, sir. I suppose?" 
'"Newcastle (let me tell you, sir,) 
Has not his equal everywhere." — 
"Well. There indeed your fortune's 

made ! 
Faith, sir, you understand your trade. 
W r ould you but give me your good word ! 
Just introduce me to my lord. 
I should serve charmingly by way 
Of second fiddle, as they say : 
What think you. sir? 'twere a good jest. 
'Slife, we should quickly scout the 

rest." — 
" Sir, you mistake the matter far, 
We have no second fiddles there. 
Richer than I some folks may be : 
More learned, but it hurts not me. 
Friends though he has of different kind, 
Each has his proper place assigned." 
"Strange matters these, alleged by 

you!" — [true." — 

"Strange they may be, but the; 



LLYES TO MISS MACARTNEY. 



" Well, then, I vow, 'tis mighty clever, 
Now I long ten times more than ever 
To be advanced extremely near 
One of his shining character." — 
''Have but the will— there wants no 

more, 
Tis plain enough you have the power. 
His easy temper (that's the worst) 
He knows, and is so shy at first. 
But such a cavalier as you — 
Lord, sir, you'll quickly bring him to!" 
" Well ; if I fail in my design, 
Sir, it shall be no fault of mine. 
If by the saucy servile tribe 
Denied, what think you of a briba? 
Shut out to-day, not die with sorrow, 
But try my luck again to-morrow. 
Never attempt to visit him 
But at the most convenient time, 
Attend him on each levee day, 
And there my humble duty pay. 
Labour, like this, our want supplies : 
And they must stoop, who mean to rise." 

While thus he wittingly harangued, 
For which you'll guess I wished him 

hanged, 
Campley, a friend of mine, came by, 
Who knew his humour more than I. 
We stop, salute, and—" Why so fait. 



Friend Carlos? whither all this haste?" 
Fired at the thoughts of a reprieve, 
I pinch him, pull him, twitch his sleeve, 
Nod, beckon, bite my lips, wink, pout, 
Do everything but speak plain out : 
While he, sad dog, from the beginning, 
Determined to mistake my meaning, 
Instead of pitying my curse, 
By jeering made it ten times worse. 
"Campley, what secret, pray, was that 
You wanted to communicate?" 
"I recollect. But 'tis no matter. — 
Carlos, we'll talk of that hereafter. 
E'en let the secret rest. 'Twill tell 
Another time, sir, just as well." 
Was ever such a dismal day? 
Unlucky cur! he steals away, 
And leaves me, half bereft of life, 
At mercy of the butcher's knife ; 
When sudden, shouting from afar, 
See his antagonist appear ! 
The bailiff seized him quick as thought. 
" Ho, Mr. Scoundrel ! Are you caught ? 
Sir, you are witness to the arrest." — 
"Ay, marry, sir, I'll do my be.-t. " 
The mob huzzas ; away they trudge, 
Culprit and all, before the judge. 
Meanwhile I luckily enough 
(Thanks to Apollo) got clear off. 



ADDRESSED TO MISS MACARTNEY, 

AFTERWARDS MRS. GREVILLE, OX READING HER " PRAYER FOR INDIFFERENCE 



And dwells there in a female heart, 
By bounteous heaven designed 

The choicest raptures to impart, 
To feel the most refined ; 

Dwells there a wish in such a breast 

Its nature to forego, 
To smother in ignoble rest 

At once both bliss and woe? 

Far be the thought, and far the .-train, 
Which breathes the low desire. 

I low sweet soe'er the verse complain, 
Though Phoebus string the lyre. 

Come then, fair maid (in nature \\ r ise), 
Who, knowing them, can teil 

From generous sympathy what joys 
The glowing bosom swell ; 



In justice to the various powers 
Of pleasing, which you share, 

Join me, amid your silent hours, 
To form the better prayer. 

With lenient balm may Oberon hence 

To fairy-land be driven, 
With every herb that blunts the sense 

Mankind received from heaven. 

"Oli! if my Sovereign Author please, 

Far be it from my fate 
To live unblest in torpid ease, 

.And slumber on in state; 

" Each tender tie of life defied, 
Whence social pleasures spring: 

Unmoved with all the world beside. 
A solitary thing." 



AN ODE. 



Some Alpine mountain wrapt in snow, 
Thus braves the whirling blast, 

Eternal winter doomed to know, 
No genial spring to taste; 

In vain .warm suns their influence shed, 

The zephyrs sport in vain, 
He rears unchanged hi> barren head, 

Whilst beauty decks the plain. 

What though in scaly armour dressed, 

Indifference may repel 
The shafts of woe, in such a breast 

No joy can ever dwell. 

'Tis woven in the world's great plan. 

And fixed by Heaven's decree, 
That all the true delights of man 

Should spring from Sympathy. 

'Tis Nature bids, and whilst the laws 

Of Nature we retain, 
Our self-approving bosom draws 

A pleasure from its pain. 

Thus grief itself has comforts dear 

The sordid never know ; 
And ecstasy attends the tear, 

When virtue bids it flow. 

For when it streams from that pure 
source, 

No bribes the heart can win, 
To check, or alter from its course, 

The luxury within. 

Peace to the phlegm of sullen elves, 

Who, if from labour eased, 
Extend no care beyond themselves, 

Unpleasing and unpleased. 

Let no low thought suggest the prayer ! 

Oh ! grant, kind Heaven, to me, 
Long as I draw ethereal air, 

Sweet Sensibility! 



Where'er the heavenly nymph is seen, 

With lustre-beaming eye, 
A train, attendant on their queen, 

(Her rosy chorus) fly. 

The jocund Loves in Hymen's band. 

With torches ever bright, 
And generous Friendship hand in hand 

With Pity's watery sight 

The gentler Virtues too are joined. 

In youth immortal warm, 
The soft relations which combined 

Give life her every charm. 

The Arts come smiling in the close, 

And lend celestial fire ; 
The marble breathes, the canvas glows. 

The Muses sweep the lyre. 

" Still may my melting bosom cleave 

To sufferings not my own ; 
And still the sigh responsive heave, 

Where'er is heard a groan. 

"So Pity shall take Virtue's part, 

Her natural ally, 
And fashioning my softened heart, 

Prepare it for the sky." 

This artless vow may Heaven receive. 

And you, fond maid, approve ; 
So may your guiding angel give 

Whate'er you wish or love. 

So may the rosy- fingered hours 

Lead on the various year, 
And every joy, which now is yours, 

Extend a larger sphere. 

And suns to come, as round they wheel, 
Your golden moments bless, 

With all a tender heart can feel, 
Or lively fancy guess. 



AN ODE, 



SECCNDCM ARTEM. 



Shall I begin with Ah, or Oh f 
Be sad? Oh! yes. Be glad? Ah! no. 
Light subjects suit not grave Pindaric ode, 
Which walks in metre down the Strophic road. 



AN ODE. 



But let the sober matron wear 

Her own mechanic sober air : 
Ah me! ill suits, alas! the sprightly jig, 
Long robes of ermine, or Sir Cloudesley's wig. 

Come, placid Dulness, gently come, 

And all my faculties benumb ; 
Let thought turn exile, -while the vacant mind 
To trickie words and pretty phrase confined, 

Pumping for trim description's art, 

To win the ear, neglects the heart. 
So shall thy sister Taste's peculiar sons, 
Lineal descendants from the Goths and Huns, 

Struck with the true and grand sublime 

Of rhythm converted into rime, 
Court the quaint Muse, and con her lessons o'er, 
When sleep the sluggish waves by Granta's shore : 

There shall each poet share and trim, 

Stretch, cramp, or lop the verse's limb, 
While rebel Wit beholds them with disdain, 
And Fancy flies aloft, nor heeds their servile chain. 



O Fancy, bright aerial maid ! 

Where have thy vagrant footsteps strayed? 
For, Ah! I miss thee 'midst thy wonted haunt, 
Since silent now the enthusiastic chaunt, 

Which erst like frenzy rolled along, 

Driven by the impetuous tide of song ; 
Rushing secure where native genius bore, 
Not cautious coasting by the shelving shore. 

Hail to the sons of modern Rime, 

Mechanic dealers in sublime, 
Whose lady Muse full wantonly is drest, 
In light expression quaint, and tinsel vest, 

Where swelling epithets are laid 

(Art's ineffectual parade) 
As varnish on the cheek of harlot light ; 
The rest, thin sown with profit or delight, 

But ill compares with ancient song, 

Where Genius poured its flood along; 
Vet such is Art's presumptuous idle claim, 
She marshals out the way to modem fame ; 

From Grecian fable's pompous lore 

Description's studied, glittering store, 
Smooth, soothing sounds, and sweet alternate rime, 
Clinking, like change of bells, in tingle tangle chime. 

3- 
The lark shall soar in every Ode, 
With flowers of light description strewed; 

And sweetly, warbling Philomel, shall flow 

Thy soothing sadness in mechanic woe. 



WRITTEN f'.VDER THE INFLUENCE OF DELIRIUM. 



Trim epithets shall spread their gloss, 
While every cell's o'ergrown with moss: 
1 lure oaks shall rise in chains of ivy bound, 
There mouldering stones o'erspread the rugged ground. 

Here forests brown, and azure hills, 

There babbling fonts, and prattling rills; 
Here some gay river floats in crisped sire 
While the bright sun now gilds his morning beams, 

i <r sinking on his Thetis' breast, 

Drives in description down the west 
Oh let me boast, with pride-becoming skill, 
I crown the summit of Parnassus' hill : 

While Ta_-te and Genius shall dispense, 

And sound shall triumph over sense ; 
O'er the gay mead with curious steps I'll stray ; 
And, like the bee, steal all the sweets away ; 

Extract its beauty, and its power, 

From every new poetic flower, 
And sweets collected may a wreath compose, 
To bind the poet's brow, or please the critic's nose. 



LINES WRITTEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DELIRIUM. 

Hatred and vengeance, — my eternal portion 
Scarce can endure delay of execution, — 
Wait with impatient readiness to seize my 
Soul in a moment. 

Damned below Judas ; more abhorred than he was, 
Who for a few pence sold his holy Master ! 
Twice-betrayed Jesus me, the last delinquent, 
Deems the profanest. 

Man disavows, and Deity disowns me, 
Hell might afford my miseries a shelter ; 
Therefore, Hell keeps her ever-hungry mouths all 
Bolted against me. 

Hard lot ! encompassed with a thousand dangers ; 
Weary, faint, trembling with a thousand terrors, 
I'm called, if vanquished ! to receive a sentence 
Worse than Abiram's. 

Him the vindictive rod of angry Justice 
Sent quick and howling to the centre headlong ; 
I, fed with judgment, in a fleshly tomb, am 
Buried above ground. 



24 



OLXEY HYMNS. 



OLNEY HYMNS. 



I. WALKING WITH GOD. 
Gen. v. 24. 

Oh for a closer walk with God ! 

A calm and heavenly frame ; 
A light to shine upon the road 

That leads me to the Lamb ! 

Where is the blessedness I knew 
When first I saw the Lord? 

Where is the soul-refreshing view 
Of Jesus and his word ? 

What peaceful hours I once enjoyed! 

How sweet their memory still ! 
But they have left an aching void 

The world can never fill. 

Return, O holy Dove, return, 

Sweet messenger of rest ! 
I hate the sins that made thee mourn, 

And drove thee from my breast. 

The dearest idol I have known, 

Whate'er that idol be, 
Help me to tear it from thy throne, 

And worship only thee. 

So shall my walk be close with God, 
Calm and serene my frame ; 

So purer light shall mark the road 
That leads me to the Lamb. 



II. JEHOVAH-JIREH- 

WILL PROVIDE. Gen 



The Lord 
xxii. 14. 

The saints should never be dismayed, 

Nor sink in hopeless fear ; 
For when they least expect his aid, 

The Saviour will appear. 

This Abraham found : he raised the 
knife ; 

God saw, and said, " Forbear ! 
Yon ram shall yield his meaner life; 

Behold the victim there." 

Once David seemed Saul's certain prey; 

But hark ! the foe's at hand ; 
Saul turns his arms another way, 

To save the invaded land. 



When Jonah sunk beneath the wave, 
He thought to rise no more ; 

But God prepared a fish to save, 
And bear him to the shore. 

Blest proofs of power and grace divine, 

That meet us in his word ! 
May every deep-felt care of mine 

Be trusted with the Lord. 

Wait for his seasonable aid, 

And though it tarry, wait : 
The promise may be long delayed, 

But cannot come too late. 



III. JEHOVAH-ROPHL— I am the 

Lord that healeth thee. 

Exod. xv. 26. 

Heal us, Emmanuel ! here we are, 

Waiting to feel thy touch : 
Deep-wounded souls to thee repair, 

And, Saviour, we are such. 

Our faith is feeble, we confess, 

We faintly trust thy word ; 
But wilt thou pity us the less ? 

Be that far from thee, Lord ! 

Remember him who once applied, 

With trembling, for relief ; 
" Lord, I believe," with tears he cried, 

" Oh, help my unbelief!" 

She too, who touched thee in the press. 

And healing virtue stole, 
Was answered, " Daughter/go in peace, 

Thy faith hath made thee whole." 

Concealed amid the gathering throng, 
She would have shunned thy view ; 

And if her faith was firm and strong, 
Had strong misgivings too. 

Like her, witli hopes and fears we come, 

To touch thee, if we may ; 
Oh ! send us not despairing home ! 

Send none unhealed away ! 



or x/:v hymns. 



25 



IV. JEHOVAH-NISSI.— The Lord 
my Banner. Exod. xvii. 15. 

By whom was David taught 
To aim the deadly blow, 
When he Goliath fought, 
And laid the Gittite low? 
Noi sword nor spear the stripling took, 
Hut chose a pebble from the brook. 

'Twas Israel's God and King 
Who sent him to the fight ; 
Who gave him strength to sling, 
And skill to aim aright. 
Ye feeble saints, your strength endures, 
Because young David's God is yours. 

Who ordered Gideon forth 

To storm the invaders' camp, 
With arms of little worth, 
A pitcher and a lamp? 
The trumpets made his coming known, 
And all the host was overthrown. 

Oh ! I have seen the day, 

When with a single word, 
God helping me to say, 
" My trust is in the Lord," 
My soul hath quelled a thousand foes, 
Fearless of all that could oppose. 

But unbelief, self-will, 

Self-righteousness, and pride, 
How often do they steal 
My weapon from my side ! 
Yet David's Lord, and Gideon's friend, 
Will help his sen-ant to the end. 



V. JEHOVAH-SHALOM.— The 

Lord send Peace. Judges vi. 24. 

Jesus ! whose blood so freely streamed 
To satisfy the law's demand; 

By thee from guilt and wrath redeemed, 
Before the Father's face I stand. 

To reconcile offending man, 

Make Justice drop her angry rod ; 

What creature could have formed the 
plan, 
Or who fulfil it but a God ? 



No drop remains of all the curse, 

For wretches who deserved the whole; 

No arrows dipt in wrath to pierce 
The guilty, but returning soul. 

Peace by such means so dearly bought, 
What rebel could have hoped to see? 

Peace, by his injured Sovereign wrought. 
His Sovereign fastened to a tree. 

Now, Lord, thy feeble worm prepare ! 

For strife with earth and hell begins ; 
Confirm and gird me for the war ; 

They hate the soul that hates his sins. 

Let them in horrid league agree ! 

They may assault, they may distress ; 
But cannot quench thy love to me, 

Nor rob me of the Lord my peace. 



VI. WISDOM. Prim. viii. 22—31. 

" Ere God had built the mountains, 

Or raised the fruitful hills ; 
Before he filled the fountains 

That feed the running rills ; 
In me, from everlasting, 

The wonderful I am, 
Found pleasures never wasting 

And Wisdom is my name. 

" When, like a tent to dwell in, 

He spread the skies abroad, 
And swathed about the swelling 

Of Ocean's mighty flood ; 
He wrought by weight and measure. 

And I was with him then ; 
Myself the Father's pleasure, 

And mine the sons of men." 

Thus Wisdom's words discover 

Thy glory and thy grace, 
Thou everlasting Lover 

Of our unworthy race ! 
Thy gracious eye surveyed us 

Ere stars were seen above ; 
In wisdom thou hast made us, 

And died for us in love. 

And couldst thou be delighted 
With creatures such as we, 

Who, when we saw thee, slighted, 
And nailed thee to a tree? 



OLNEY HYMNS. 



Unfathomable wonder. 

And mystery divine ! 
The Voice that speaks in thunder, 

Says, "Sinner, I am thine !" 

VII. VANITY OF THE WORLD. 

God gives his mercies to be spent ; 

Your hoard will do your soul no good; 
Gold is a blessing only lent, 

Repaid by giving others food. 

The world's esteem is but a bribe, 
To buy their peace you sell your own ; 

The slave of a vain- glorious tribe, 
Who hate you while they make you 
known. 

The joy that vain amusements give, 
Oh ! sad conclusion that it brings ! 

The honey of a crowded hive, 
Defended by a thousand stings. 

'Tis thus the world rewards the fools 
That live upon her treacherous smiles ; 

She leads them blindfold by her rules, 
And ruins all whom she beguiles. 

God knows the thousands who go down 
From pleasure into endless woe : 

And with a long despairing groan 
Blaspheme their Maker as ihey go. 

O fearful thought ! be timely wise ; 

Delight but in a Saviour's charms, 
And God shall take you to the skies, 

Embraced in everlasting arms. 

VIII. O LORD, I WILL PRAISE 

THEE. Isaiah xii. I. 

I wilt, praise thee every day 
Now thine anger's turned away ; 
Comfortable thoughts arise 
From the bleeding sacrifice. 

Here, in the fair Gospel-field, 
Wells of free salvation yield 
Streams of life, a plenteous store, 
And my soul shall thirst no more. 

Jesus is become at length 
My salvation and my strength ; 
And his praises shall prolong, 
While 1 live, my pleasant song. 



Praise ye, then, his glorious name, 
Publish his exalted fame ! 
Still his worth your praise exceeds ; 
Excellent are all his deeds. 

Raise again the joyful sound, 
Let the nations roll it round ! 
Zion, shout ! for this is he ; 
God the Saviour dwells in thee ! 

IX. THE CONTRITE HEART. 

Isaiah lvii. 15. 

The Lord will happiness divine 

On contrite hearts bestow ; 
Then tell me, gracious God, is mine 

A contrite heart, or no ? 

I hear, but seem to hear in vain, 

Insensible as steel ; 
If aught is felt, 'tis only pain, 

To find I cannot feel. 

I sometimes think myself inclined 

To love thee, if I could ; 
But often feel another mind, 

Averse to all that's good. 

My best desires are faint and few, 
I fain would strive for more ; 

But when I cry, " My strength renew ! " 
Seem weaker than before. 

Thy saints are comforted, I know, 
And love thy house of prayer ; 

I therefore go where others go, 
But find no comfort there. 

Oh make this heart rejoice or ache; 

Decide this doubt for me ; 
And if it be not broken, break, — 

And heal it if it be. 

X. THE FUTURE PEACE AND 

GLORY OF THE CHURCH. 

Isaiah lx. 15 — 20. 

Hear what God the Lord hath spoken : 

" O my people, faint and few, 
Comfortless, afflicted, broken, 

Fair abodes I build for you. 
Thorns <>f heartfelt tribulation 

Shall no more perplex your ways : 
You shall name your walls Salvation, 

And your gates shall all be Praise. 



OLNEY HYMNS. 



27 



' ' There, like streams that feed the garden, 

Pleasures without end shall flow ; 
I ■,,, the Lord, yaur faith rewarding, 

All his bounty shall bestow ; 
Still in undisturbed possession 

l'eaee and righteousness shall reign ; 
Never shall you feel oppression, 

Hear the voice of war again. 

Ye no more your suns descending, 

Waning moons no more shall see ; 
But, your griefs for ever ending, 

find eternal noon in me : 
God shall rise, and shining o'er ye, 

Change to day the gloom of night ; 
He, the Lord, shall be your glory, 

God your everlasting light." 

XI. JEHOVAH OUR RIGHT- 
EOUSNESS. Jer. xxiii. 6. 

MY God, how perfect are thy ways ! 

But mine polluted are ; 
Sin twines itself about my praise, 

And slides into my prayer. 

When I would speak what thou hast done 

To save me from my sin, 
I cannot make thy mercies known, 

But self-applause creeps in. 

Divine desire, that holy flame 

Thy grace creates in me ; 
Alas ! impatience is its name, 

When it returns to thee. 

This heart, a fountain of vile thoughts, 

How does it overflow, 
While self upon the surface floats, 

Still bubbling from below! 

Let others in the gaudy dress 

Of fancied merit shine ; 
The Lord shall be my righteousness, 

The Lord for ever mine. 

XII. EPHRAIM REPENTING. 
Jer. xxxi. 18 — 20. 

My God, till I received thy stroke, 

How like a beast was I ! 
So unaccustomed to the voke, 

St> backward to comply. 



With grief my just reproach I bear; 

Shame fills me at the thought, 
How frequent my rebellions were, 

What wickedness I wrought. 

Thy merciful restraint 1 scorned, 

And left the pleasant road ; 
Vet turn me, and I shall be turned ! 

Thou art the Lord my God. 

"Is Ephraim banished from my thought-, 

( )r vile in my esteem? 
"No,"saiththe Lord, "with all his faults, 

I still remember him." 

"" Is he a dear and pleasant child?" 
" Yes, dear and pleasant still ; 

Though sin his foolish heart beguiled. 
And he withstood my will. 

"My sharp rebuke has laid him low, 

He seeks my face again ; 
My pity kindles at his woe, 

He shall not seek in vain." 

XIII. THE COVENANT. 
Ezek. xxxvi. 25 — 28. 

The Lord proclaims his grace abroad ! 

" Behold, I changeyour hearts of stone; 
Each shall renounce his idol-god, 

And serve, henceforth, the Lord alone. 

" My grace, a flowing stream, proceeds 
To wash your filthiness away ; 

Ye shall abhor your former deeds, 
And learn my statutes to obey. 

" My truth the great design ensures, 

I give myself away to you ; 
You shall be mine, I will be yours, 

Your God unalterably true. 

" Yet not unsought, or unimplored. 
The plenteous grace shall I confer ; 

No — your whole hearts shall seek the 
Lord, 
I'll put a praying spirit there. 

" From the first breath of life divine. 

Down to the last expiring hour, 
The gracious work shall all be mine, 

Begun and ended in my power." 



28 



OLNEY HYMNS. 



XIV. JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH. 
Ezck. xlviii. 35- 

"As birds their infant brood protect, 
And spread theirwings toshelter them, 

(Thus saith the Lord to his elect. ) 
So will I guard Jerusalem." 

And what then is Jerusalem, 
This darling object of his- care? 

Where is its worth in God's esteem? 
Who built it? who inhabits there? 

Jehovah founded it in blood, 
The blood of his incarnate Son ; 

There dwell the saints, once foes to God, 
The sinners whom he calls his own. 

There, though besieged on every side, 
Yet much beloved, and guarded well, 

From age to age they have defied 
The utmost force of earth and hell. 

Let earth repent, and hell despair, 
This city has a sure defence ; 

Her name is called "The Lord is there," 
And who has power to drive him 
thence ? . 



XV. PRAISE FOR THE 
FOUNTAIN OPENED.— ZecA.xiil i. 

There is a fountain filled with blood 
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins ; 

And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, 
Lose all their guilty stains. 

The dying thief rejoiced to see 

That fountain in his day ; 
And there have I, as vile as he, 

Washed all my sins away. 

Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood 

Shall never lose its power, 
Till all the ransomed church of Clod 

Be saved, to sin no more. 

E'er since, by faith, I saw the stream 
Thy flowing wounds supply, 

Redeeming love has been my theme, 
And shall be till I die. 



Then in a nobler, sweeter song, 

I'll sing thy power to save ; 
When this poor lisping, stammering 
tongue 

Lies silent in the grave. 

Lord, I believe thou hast prepared 

(Unworthy though I be) 
For me a blood -bought free reward, 

A golden harp for me ! 

'Tis strung and tuned for endless years, 
And formed by power divine, 

To sound in God the Father's ears 
No other name but thine. 

XVI. THE SOWER. Matt. xiii. 3. 

Ye sons of earth, prepare the plough, 
Break up your fallow-ground ; 

The sower is gone forth to sow, 
And scatter blessings round. 

The seed that finds a stony soil 

Shoots forth a hasty blade ; 
But ill repays the sower's toil, 

Soon withered, scorched, and dead. 

The thorny ground is sure to balk 

All hopes of harvest there ; 
W T e find a tall and sickly stalk, 

But not the fruitful ear. 

The beaten path and highway side 

Receive the trust in vain ; 
The watchful birds the spoil divide, 

And pick up all the grain. 

But where the Lord of grace and power 
Has blessed the happy field, 

How plenteous is the golden store 
The deep-wrought furrows yield ! 

Father of mercies, we have need 

Of thy preparing grace ; 
Let the same hand that gives the seed 

Provide a fruitful place ! 

XVII. THE HOUSE OF PRAYER. 
Mark xi. 1 7. 

Thy mansion is the Christian's heart. 

O Lord, thy dwelling-place secure ! 
Bid the unruly throng depart, 

And leave the consecrated door. 



OLNEY HYMNS. 






1 Jevoted as it is to thee, 

A thievish swarm frequents the place ; 
They steal away my joys from me, 

And rob my Saviour of his praise. 

There, too. a sharp designing trade 
Sin, Satan, and the World maintain; 

Nor cease to press me, and persuade 
To part with ease, and purchase pain. 

I know them, and I hate their din ; 

Am weary of the bustling crowd ; 
But while their voice is heard within, 

I cannot serve thee as I would. 

Oh for the joy thy presence gives, 
What peace shall reign when thou art 
here ! 

Thy presence makes this den of thieves 
A calm delightful house of prayer. 

And if thou make thy temple shine, 
Yet, self-abased, will 1 adore; 

The gold and silver are not mine; 
I give thee what was thine before. 

XYill. LOVEST THOU ME? 
John xxi. 1 6. 

Hark, my soul '. it is the Lord ; 
'Tis thy Saviour, hear his word ; 
Jesus speaks, and speaks to thee, 
"Say, poor sinner, lovest thou me? 

" I delivered thee when bound, 
And when bleeding, healed thy wound : 
Sought thee wandering, set thee right: 
Turned thy darkness into light. 

"Can a woman's tender care 
Cease towards the child she bare? 
Yes, she may forgetful be, 
Yet will I remember thee. 

"Mine is an unchanging love, 
Higher than the heights above, 
Deeper than the depths beneath. 
Free and faithful, strong as death. 

"Thou shalt see my glory soon, 
When the work of grace is done ; 
Partner of my throne shalt be ;— 
Say, poor sinner, lovest thou me?" 



Lord, it is my chief complaint, 
That my love is weak and faint; 
Yet I love thee and adore, — 
Oh ! for grace to love thee more ! 

XIX. COXTEXTMEXT. PkU. iv. n. 

Fierce passions discompose the mind, 

As tempests vex the sea ; 
But calm content ami peace we find, 

When, Lord, we turn to thee. 

In vain by reason and by rale 

We try to bend the will ; 
For none but in the Saviour's school 

Can learn the heavenly skill. 

Since at his feet my soul has sate, 
His gracious words to hear, 

Contented with my present state, 
I cast on him my care. 

""Art thou a sinner, soul?" he said, 
"Then how canst thou complain? 

How light thy troubles here, if weighed 
With everlasting pain ! 

'" If thou of murmuring wouldst be cured, 
Compare thy griefs with mine ; 

Think what my love for thee endured, 
And thou wilt not repine. 

" 'Tis I appoint thy daily lot, 

And I do all things well : 
Thou soon shalt leave this wretched 
spot, 

And rise with me to dwell. 

" In life my grace shall strength supply, 

Proportioned to thy day ; 
At death thou still shalt find me nigh, 

To wipe thy tears away." 

Thus I, who once my wretched days 

In vain repinings spent, 
Taught in my Saviour's school of grace. 

Have learned to be content. 

XX. OLD TESTAMENT GOSPEL. 

Heb. iv. 2. 
Israel in ancient days 
X"ot only had a view 
Of Sinai in a blaze, 

But learned the Gospel too ; 
The tvpes and figures were a glass, 
In which they saw a Saviour's face. 



OLNEY HYMNS. 



The paschal sacrifice 

And blood-besprinkled door, 
Seen with enlightened eyes, 
And once applied with power, 
Would teach the need of other blood, 
To reconcile an angry God. 

The Lamb, the Dove, set forth 

His perfect innocence, 
Whose blood of matchless worth 
Should be the soul's defence ; 
For he who can for sin atone 
Must have no failings of his own. 

The scape-goat on his head 

The people's trespass bore, 
And to the desert led, 

Was to be seen no more : 
In him our Surety seemed to say, 
" Behold, I bear your sins away."' 

Dipt in his fellow's blood, 

The living bird went free ; 
The type, well understood, 
Expressed the sinner's plea ; 
Described a guilty soul enlarged, 
And by a Saviour's death discharged. 

Jesus, I love to trace, 

Throughout the sacred page, 
The footsteps of thy grace, 
The same in every age ! 
Oh grant that I may faithful be 
To clearer light vouchsafed to me ! 

XXI. SARDIS. Rev. iii. i—6. 

" Write to Sardis," saith the Lord, 

" And write what he declares, 
He whose Spirit, and whose word, 

Upholds the seven stars : — 
All thy works and ways I search, 

Find thy zeal and love decayed ; 
Thou art called a living church, 

But thou art cold and dead. 

" Watch, remember, seek, and strive, 

Exert thy former pains ; 
Let thy timely care revive, 

And strengthen what remains ; 
Cleanse thine heart, thy works amend, 

Former times to mind recall, 
Lest my sudden stroke descend, 

And smite thee once for all. 



" Yet I number now in thee 

A few that are upright ; 
These my Father's face shall see, 

And walk with me in white. 
When in judgment I appear, 

They for mine shall be confessed ; 
Let my faithful servants hear, — ■ 

And woe be to the rest ! " 

XXII. PRAYER FOR A BLESSING 
ON THE YOUNG. 

Bestow, dear Lord, upon our youth, 

The gift of saving grace ; 
And let the seed of sacred truth 

Fall in a fruitful place. 

Grace is a plant, where'er it grows, 
Of pure and heavenly root ; 

But fairest in the youngest shows, 
And yields the sweetest fruit. 

Ye careless ones, oh hear betimes 
The voice of sovereign love ! 

Your youth is stained with many crimes, 
But Mercy reigns above. 

True, you are young, but there's a stone 
Within the youngest breast ; 

Or half the crimes which you have done 
Would rob you of your rest. 

For you the public prayer is made ; 

Oh join the public prayer ! 
For you the secret tear is shed ; 

Oh shed yourselves a tear ! 



ove 



We pray that you may early pr 
The Spirit's power to teach ; 

You cannot be too young to love 
That Jesus whom we preach. 

XXIII. PLEADING FOR AND 
WITH YOUTH. 

Sin has undone our wretched race; 

But Jesus has restored, 
And brought the sinner face to face 

With his forgiving Lord. 

This we repeat from year to year,' 
And press upon our youth; 

Lord, give them an attentive ear, 
Lord, save them by thy truth ! 



OLNKY HYMNS. 



31 



Blessings upon the rising race ! 

Make this a happy hour, 
V. . ording to thy richest grace, 

And thine Almighty power. 

We feel for your unhappy state, 

(May you regard it too,) 
And would awhile ourselves forget 

To pour out prayer for you. 

We see, though you perceive it not, 
The approaching awful doom ; 

Oh tremble at the solemn thought, 
And flee the wrath to come ! 

Dear Saviour, let this new-born year 

Spread an alarm abroad ; 
And cry in every careless ear, 

" Prepare to meet thy God ! " 

XXIV. PRAYER FOR CHILDREN. 

GRACIOUS Lord, our children see, 
By thy mercy we are free ; 
Put shall these, alas ! remain 
Subjects still of Satan's reign ? 
Israel's young ones, when of old 
Pharaoh threatened to withhold, 
Then thy messenger said, " No ; 
Let the children also go !" 

When the angel of the Lord, 
Drawing forth his dreadful sword, 
Slew with an avenging hand, 
All the first-born of the land ; 
Then thy people's doors he passed, 
Where the bloody sign was placed-: 
Hear us, now, upon our knees 
Plead the blood of Christ for these ! 

Lord, we tremble, for we know 
How the fierce malicious foe. 
Wheeling round his watchful flight, 
Keeps them ever in his sight : 
Spread thy pinions, King of kings ! 
Hide them safe beneath thy wings ; 
Pest the ravenous bird of prey 
Stoop, and bear the brood away. 

XXV. JEHOVAH JESUS, 
My song shall bless the Lord of all, 

My praise shall climb to his abode ; 
Thee, Saviour, by that name I call. 

The great Supreme, the Mighty God. 



Without beginning or decline, 
Object of faith and not of sense ; 

Eternal ages saw him shine, 
He shines eternal ages hence. 

As much, when in the manger laid, 

Almighty ruler of the sky, 
As when the six days' work he made 

Filled all the morning stars with joy. 

Of all the crowns Jehovah bears. 
Salvation is his dearest claim ; 

That gracious sound well pleased he hears, 
And owns Emmanuel for his name. 

A cheerful confidence I feel, 

My well-placed hopes with joy I see; 
My bosom glows with heavenly zeal, 

To worship him who died for me. 

As man, he pities my complaint, 
His power and truth are all divine; 

He will not fail, he cannot faint ; 
Salvation's sure, and must be mine. 



XXVI. ON OPENING A TLACE 
FOR SOCIAL PRAYER. 

Jesus ! where'er thy people meet, 
There they behold thy mercy-seat ; 
Where'er they seek thee, thou art found, 
And every place is hallowed ground. 

For thou, within no walls confined, 
Inhabitest the humble mind ; 
Such ever bring thee where they come, 
And going, take thee to their home. 

Dear Shepherd of thy chosen few ! 
Thy former mercies here renew : 
Here to our waiting hearts proclaim 
The sweetness of thy saving name. 

Here may we prove the power of prayer. 
To strengthen faith, and sweeten care ; 
To teach our faint desires to rise, 
And bring all heaven before our eyes. 

Behold, at thy commanding word 
We stretch the curtain and the cord : 
Come thou, and fill this wider space, 
And bless us with a large increase. 



ULNEY HYMXS. 



Lord, we are few, but thou art near, 
Xor short thine arm, nor deaf thine ear ; 
Oh rend the heavens, come quickly down, 
And make a thousand hearts thine own. 



And while thy bleeding glories here 
Engage our wondering eyes, 

We learn our lighter cross to bear, 
And hasten to the skies. 



XXVII. WELCOME TO THE 
TABLE. 
This is the feast of heavenly wine, 

And God invites to sup ; 
The juices of the living Vine 

Were pressed to fill the cup. 

Oh ! bless the Saviour, ye that eat, 

With royal dainties fed ; 
Not heaven affords a costlier treat, 

For Jesus is the bread. 

The vile, the lost, he calls to them ; 

Ye trembling souls, appear ! 
The righteous in their own esteem 

Have no acceptance here. 

Approach, ye poor, nor dare refuse 
The banquet spread for you ; 

Dear Saviour, this is welcome news, 
Then I may venture too. 

If guilt and sin afford a plea, 

And may obtain a place, 
Surely the Lord will welcome me, 

And I shall see his face ! 

XXVIII. JESUS HASTENING 
TO SUFFER. 

The Saviour, what a noble flame 

Was kindled in his breast, 
When hasting to Jerusalem, 

He marched before the rest ! 

Good will to men, and zeal for God, 
His every thought engross ; 

He longs to be baptized with blood, 
He pants to reach the cross ! 

Witli all his sufferings full in view, 
And woes to us unknown, 

Forth to the task his spirit flew ; 
'Twas love that urged him on. 

Lord, we return thee what we can : 
Our hearts shall sound abroad 

Salvation to the dying Man, 
And to the rising God! 



XXIX. EXHORTATIOX TO 
PRAYER. 

What various hindrances we meet 
In coming to a mercy-seat! 
Yet who that knows the worth of prayer 
But wishes to be often there? 

Prayer makes the darkened cloud with- 
draw, 
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw, 
Gives exercise to faith and love, 
Brings every blessing from above. 

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight ; 
IVayer makes the Christian's armour 

bright ; 
And Satan trembles when he sees 
The weakest saint upon his knees. 

While Moses stood with arms spread 

wide, 
Success was found on Israel's side ; 
But when through weariness they failed, 
That moment Amalek prevailed. 

Have you no words? Ah! think again, 
Words flow apace when you complain, 
And fill your fellow-creature's ear 
With the sad tale of all your care. 

Were half the breath thus vainly spent 
To Heaven in supplication sent, 
Your cheerful song would oftener be, 
" Hear what the Lord has done for me." 

XXX. THE LIGHT AND GLORY 
OF THE WORD. 

The Spirit breathes upon the Word, 
And brings the truth to sight; 

Precepts and promises afford 
A sanctifying light. 

A glory gilds the sacred page, 

Majestic like the sun ; 
It gives a light to every age, 

It rives, but borrows none. 



OLNEY HYMNS. 



33 



The hand that gave it still supplies 
The gracious light and heat ; 

His truths upon the nations rise, 
They rise, but never set. 

Let everlasting thanks be thine, 

For such a bright display, 
As makes a world of darkness shine 

With beams of heavenly day. 

My soul rejoices to pursue 

The steps of him I love, 
Till glory break upon my view 

In brighter worlds above. 

XXXI. ON THE DEATH OF A 
MINISTER. 

His master taken from his head, 

Elisha saw him go ; 
And in desponding accents said, 

"Ah, what must Israel do?" 

But he forgot the Lord, who lifts 

The beggar to the throne ; 
Nor knew that all Elijah's gifts 

Would soon b\: made his own. 

What ! when a Paul has run his course, 

Or when Apollos dies, 
Is Israel left without resource? 

And have we no supplies? 

Yes, while the dear Redeemer lives, 
We have a boundless store, 

And shall be fed with what he gives, 
Who lives for evermore. 



XXXII. THE SHINING LIGHT. 

My former hopes are fled, 

My terror now begins ; 
I feel, alas ! that I am dead 

In trespasses and sins. 

All. whither shall I fly? 

I hear the thunder roar ; 
The law proclaims destruction nigh, 

And vengeance at the door. 

When I review my wavs. 

I dread impending doom : 
But sure a friendly whisper says, 

from the wrath to come." 



I see, or think I see, 

A glimmering from afar ; 
A beam of day, that shines for me, 

To save me from despair. 

Forerunner of the sun, 

It marks the pilgrim's way ; 

I'll gaze upon it while I run, 
And watch the rising day. 

XXXIII. THE WAITING SOUL. 

Breathe from the gentle south, OLord, 
And cheer me from the north ; 

Blow on the treasures of thy word, 
And call the spices forth ! 

I wish, thou know'st, to be resigned, 
And wait with patient hope; 

But hope delayed fatigues the mind, 
And drinks the spirit up. 

Help me to reach the distant goal; 

Confirm my feeble knee ; 
Pity the sickness of a soul 

That faints for love of thee ! 

Cold as I feel this heart of mine, 

Yet, since I feel it so. 
It yields some hope of life divine 

Within, however low: 

I seem forsaken and alone, 

I hear the lion roar; 
And every door is shut but one, 

And that is Mercy's door. 

There, till the dear Deliverer come, 
I'll wait with humble prayer ; 

And when he calls his exile home, 
The Lord shall find him there. 



XXXIY. SEEKING THE 
BELOVED. 

T< ' those who know the Lord I speak ; 

Is my Beloved near? 
The Bridegroom of my soul I seek, 

Oh! when will he appear? 

Though once a man of grief and shame, 

Yet now he fills a throne, 
And bears the greatest, sweetest name 

That earth or heaven has known 



34 



OLNE Y HYMNS. 



Grace flies before, and love attends 
His steps where'er he goes; 

Though none can see him but his friends, 
And they were once his foes. 

He speaks ; — obedient to his call 

Our warm affections move : 
Did he but shine alike on all, 

Then all alike would love. 

Then love in every heart would reign, 
And war would cease to roar ; 

And cruel and bloodthirsty men 
Would thirst for blood no more. 

Such Jesus is, and such his grace ; 

Oh, may he shine on you ! 
And tell him, when you see his face, 

I lornr to see him too. 



XXXV. LIGHT SHINING OUT 
OP" DARKNESS. 

God moves in a mysterious way 

His wonders to perform ; 
He plants his footsteps in the sea, 

And rides upon the storm. 

Deep in unfathomable mines 

Of never-failing skill, 
He treasures up his bright designs, 

And works his sovereign will. 

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, 
The clouds ye so much dread 

Are big with mercy, and shall break 
In blessings on your head. 

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, 
But trust him for his grace ; 

Behind a frowning providence 
He hides a smiling face. 

His purposes will ripen fast, 

Unfolding every hour; 
The bud may have a bitter taste, 

But sweet will be the flower. 

Blind unbelief is sure to err. 

And scan his work in vain : 
God is his own interpreter, 

And He will make it plain. 



XXXVI. WELCOME CROSS. 

'TlS my happiness below 

Not to live without the cross, 
But the Saviour's power to know, 

Sanctifying every loss : 
Trials must and will befall ; 

But with humble faith to see 
Love inscribed upon them all, 

This is happiness to me. 

God in Israel sows the seeds 

Of affliction, pam, and toil ; 
These spring up and choke the weeds 

Which would else o'erspread the soil ; 
Trials make the promise sweet, 

Trials give new life to prayer; 
Trials bring me to his feet, 

Lay me low, and keep me there. 

Did I meet no trials here, 

No chastisement by the way, 
Might I not with reason fear 

I should prove a castaway? 
Bastards may escape the rod, 

Sunk in earthly vain delight : 
But the true-born child of God 

Must not, — would not, if he might. 



XXXVII. AFFLICTIONS SANC- 
TIFIED BY THE WORD. 

Oh, how I love thy holy word, 
Thy gracious covenant, O Lord ! 
It guides me in the peaceful way; 
I think upon it all the day. 

What are the mines of shining wealth, 
The strength of youth, the bloom of 

health ! 
What are all joys compared with those 
Thine everlasting Word bestows ! 

Long unafflicted, undismayed, 
In pleasure's path secure I strayed ; 
Thou madest me feel thy chastening rod, 
And straight I turned unto my God. 

What though it pierced my fainting heart, 
[blessed thine hand that caused the smart; 
It taught my tears awhile to flow. 
But saved me from eternal woe. 



OLNEY HYMNS. 



Oh ! hadst thou left me unchastised, 
Thy precepts I had still despised ; 
And still the snare in secret laid 
Had my unwary feet betrayed. 

I love thee, therefore, O my God, 
And breathe towards thy dear abode; 
Where, in thy presence fully blest, 
Thy chosen saints for ever rest. 

XXXVIII. TEMPTATION. 

THE billows swell, the winds are high, 
Clouds overcast my wintry sky ; 
Out of the depths to thee I call, — 
My fears are great, my strength is small. 

Lord, the pilot's part perform, 

And guard and guide me through the 

storm ; 
Defend me from each threatening ill, 
Control the waves, — say, "Peace! be 

still." 

Amidst the roaring of the sea 
My soid still hangs her hope on thee; 
Thy constant love, thy faithful care, 
Is all that saves me from despair. 

Dangers of every shape and name 
Attend the followers of the Lamb, 
Who leave the world's deceitful shore, 
And leave it to return no more. 

Though tempest-tost and half a wreck, 
My Saviour through the floods I seek ; 
Let neither winds nor stormy main 
Force back my shattered bark again. 

XXXIX. LOOKING UPWARDS 
IN A STORM. 

Gmi of my life, to thee I call, 
Afflicted at thy feet I fall ; 
When the great water-floods prevail, 
Leave not my trembling heart to fail ! 

Friend of the friendless and the faint, 
Where should I lodge my deep complaint? 
Where but with thee, whose open door 
Invites the helpless and the poor! 

Did ever mourner plead with thee, 
And thou refuse that mourner's plea? 
Doe> not the word still fixed remain, 
That none shall seek thy face in vain? 



That were a grief I could not bear, 
Didst thou not hear and answer pravcr ; 
But a prayer-hearing, answering God 
Supports me under even- load. 

Fair is the lot that's cast for me ; 
I have an Advocate with thee ; 
They whom the world caresses most 
Have no such privilege to boast. 

Poor though I am, despised, forgot, 
Vet God, my God, forgets me not : 
And he is safe, and must succeed, 
For whom the Lord vouchsafes to plead. 

XL. THE VALLEV OF THE 
SHADOW OF DEATH. 

My soul is sad, and much dismayed ; 

See, Lord, what legions of my foei.. 
With fierce Apollyon at their head, 

My heavenly pilgrimage oppose ! 

See, from the ever-burning lake, 
How like a smoky cloud they rise ! 

With horrid blasts my soul they shake, 
With storms of blasphemies and lies. 

Their fiery arrows reach the mark, 
My throbbing heart with anguish tear ; 

Each lights upon a kindred spark, 
And finds abundant fuel there. • 

I hate the thought that wrongs the Lord ; 

Oh ! I would drive it from my breast, 
With thy own sharp two-edged sword, 

Far as the east is from the west. 

: Come, then, and chase the cruel host, 
Heal the deep wounds I have received ! 
Nor let the powers of darkness boast 
That I am foiled, and thou art grieved ! 

XLI. PEACE AFTER A STORM. 

W hex darkness long has veiled my mind . 

And smiling day once more appear. 
Then, my Redeemer, then I find 

The folly of my doubts and fears. 

Straight I upbraid my wandering heart. 
And blush that I should ever be 
j Thus prone to act so base a part. 

Or harbour one hard thought of thee. 



36 



OLNEY HYMNS. 



< Mi I let me then at length be taught 
What I am still so slow to learn ; 

That God is Love, and changes not, 
Nor knows the shadow of a turn. 

Sweet truth, and easy to repeat ! 

But when my faith is sharply tried, 
I find myself a learner yet, 

Unskilful, weak, and apt to slide. 

But, O my Lord, one look from thee 
Subdues the disobedient will, 

Drives doubt and discontent away, 
And thy rebellious worm is still. 

Thou art as ready to forgive 

A s I am ready to repine ; 
Thou, therefore, all the praise receive ; 

Be shame and self-abhorrence mine. 



XLII. MOURNING AND 
LONGING. 

The Saviour hides his face ! 
My spirit thirsts to prove 
Renewed supplies of pardoning grace 
And never-fading love. 

The favoured souls who know 
What glories shine in him, 
Pant for his presence as the roe 
Pants for the living stream. 

What trifles tease me new ! 
They swarm like summer flies ; 
They cleave to everything I do, 
And swim before my eyes. 

How dull the Sabbath day 
Without the Sabbath's Lord ! 
How toilsome then to sing and pray, 
And wail upon the word ! 

Of all the truths I hear, 
How few delight my taste ! 
I udean a berrv here and there, 
But mourn the vintage past. 

Yet let me (as I ought) 
Still hope to be supplied ; 
No pleasure else is worth a thought, 
Nor shall I he denied. 



Though I am but a worm, 
Unworthy of his care, 
The Lord will my desire perform, 
And grant me all my prayer. 

XLIII. SELF-ACQUAINTANCI.. 

Dear Lord ! accept a sinful heart, 

Which of itself complains, 
And mourns, with much and frequent 
smart, 

The evil it contains. 

There fiery seeds of anger lurk, 
Which often hurt my frame ; 

And wait but for the tempter's work 
To fan them to a flame. 

Legality holds out a bribe 
To purchase life from thee ; 

And Discontent would fain prescribe 
How thou shalt deal with me. 

While Unbelief withstands thy grace, 

And puts the mercy by ; 
Presumption, with a brow of brass, 

Says, "Give me, or I die!" 

How eager are my thoughts to roam 
In quest of what they love ! 

But ah ! when Duty calls them home, 
How heavily they move ! 

Oh, cleanse me in a Saviour's blood, 
Transform me by thy power, 

And make me thy beloved abode, 
And let me roam no more. 

XLIV. TRAYER FOR PATIENCE. 

Lord, who hast suffered all for me, 
My peace and pardon to procure, 

The lighter cross I bear for thee 
Help me with patience to endure. 

The storm of loud repining hush ; 

I would in humble silence mourn ; 
Why should the unburnt, though 
burning bush, 

Be angry as the crackling thorn? 

Man should not faint at thy rebuke, 
Like Joshua falling on his face, 

When the cursed thing that Achan tool* 
Brought Israel into just disgrace. . 



OLNEV HYMNS. 



J 7 



Perhaps some golden wedge suppressed, 

Some secret sin offends my God ; 
Perhaps that Babylonish vest, 

Self-righteousness, provokes the rod. 

Ah! were I buffeted all day, 

Mocked, crowned with thorns, and 
spit upon, 
I yet should have no right to say, 

My great distress is mine alone. 

Let me not angrily declare 

No pain was ever sharp like mine, 
Nor murmur at the cross I bear, 

lint rather weep, remembering thine. 

XLV. SUBMISSION. 

O Lord, my best desire fulfil, 

And help me to resign 
Life, health, and comfort to thy will, 

And make thy pleasure mine. 

Why should I shrink at thy command, 
Whose love forbids my fears ? 

Or tremble at the gracious hand 
That wipes away my tears? 

No, rather let me freely yield 
What most I prize to thee ; 

Who never hast a good withheld, 
Or wilt withhold, from me. 

Thy favour, all my journey through, 
Thou art engaged to grant ; 

What else I want, or think I do, 
"Tis better still to want. 

Wisdom and mercy guide my way, 

Shall I resist them both? 
A poor blind creature of a day, 

And crushed before the moth ! 

But ah ! my inward spirit cries, 

Still bind me to thy sway; 
Else the next cloud that veils the skies 

Drives all these thoughts away. 

XLVI. THE HAPPY CHANGE. 

How blessed thy creature is, O God, 

When, with a single eye, 
He views the lustre of thy word, 

The dayspring from on high ! 



Through all the storms that veil the skies 

\nd frown Oil earthly thin 
The Sun of Righteousness hi 

With healing on his wings. 

Struck by that light, the human heait, 

A barren soil no more, 
Sends the sweet smell of grace abroad, 

Where serpents lurked before. 

The soul, a dreary province once 

( )f Satan's dark domain, 
Feels a new empire formed within, 

And owns a heavenly reign. 

The glorious orb whose golden beams 

The fruitful year control, 
Since first, obedient to thy word, 

He started from the goal, 

Has cheered the nations with the joys 

His orient rays impart ; 
But, Jesus, 'tis thy light alone 

Can shine upon the heart. 

XLVII. RETIREMENT. 

Far from the world, O Lord, I flee, 

From strife and tumult far; 
From scenes where Satan wages still 

His most successful war. 

The calm retreat, the silent shade, 
With prayer and praise agree ; 

And seem by thy sweet bounty made 
For those who follow thee. 

There, if thy Spirit touch the soul, 
And grace her mean abode, 

Oh ! with what peace, and joy, and love, 
She communes with her God ! 

There like the nightingale she pours 

Her solitary lays ; 
Nor asks a witness of her song, 

Nor thirsts for human praise. 

Author and guardian of my life, 
Sweet source of light divine, 

And — all harmonious names in one — 
My Saviour ! thou art mine ! 

What thanks I owe thee, and what love, 

A boundless, endless store, 
Shall echo through the realms above, 

When time shall be no more. 



OLNEY HYMNS. 



XLVIII. THE HIDDEN LIFE. 

To tell the Saviour all my wants, 

How pleasing is the task ! 
Nor less to praise him when he grants 

Beyond what I can ask. 

My labouring spirit vainly seeks 

To tell but half the joy ; 
With how much tenderness he speaks, 

And helps me to reply. 

Nor were it wise, nor should I choose, 

Such secrets to declare ; 
Like precious wines their taste they 
lose, 

Exposed to open air. 

But this with boldness I proclaim, 

Nor care if thousands hear, 
Sweet is the ointment of his name, 

Not life is half so dear. 

And can you frown, my former friends, 
Who knew what once I was ; 

And blame the song that thus commends 
The Man who bore the cross? 

Trust me, I draw the likeness true, 

And not as fancy paints ; 
Such honour may he give to you, 

For such have all his saints. 

XLIX. JOY AND PEACE IN 
BELIEVING. 

Sometimes a light surprises 

The Christian while he sings; 
It is the Lord who rises 

With healing in his wings : 
When comforts are declining, 

He grants the soul again 
A season of clear shining, 

To cheer it after rain. 

In holy contemplation, 

We sweetly then pursue 
The theme of God's salvation, 

And find it ever new : 
Set free from present sorrow, 

We cheerfully can say, 
E'en let the unknown to-morrow 

Bring with it what it may ! 



It can bring with it nothing 

But he will bear us through ; 
Who gives the lilies clothing 

Will clothe his people too ; 
Beneath the spreading heavens 

No creature but is fed ; 
And he who feeds the ravens 

Will give his children bread. 

Though vine nor fig-tree neither 

Their wonted fruit shall bear, 
Though all the field should wither, 

Nor flocks nor herds be there : 
Yet God the same abiding, 

His praise shall tune my voice ; 
For, while in him confiding, 

I cannot but rejoice. 

L. TRUE PLEASURES. 

Lord, my soul with pleasure springs 

When Jesus' name I hear ; 
And when God the Spirit brings 

The word of promise near : 
Beauties too, in holiness, 

Still delighted I perceive ; 
Nor have words that can express 

The joys thy precepts give. 

Clothed in sanctity and grace, 

How sweet it is to see 
Those who love thee as they pass, 

Or when they wait on thee ! 
Pleasant too, to sit and tell 

What we owe to love divine ; 
Till our bosoms grateful swell, 

And eyes begin to shine. 

Those the comforts I possess, 

Which God shall still increase, 
All his ways are pleasantness, 

And all his paths are peace. 
Nothing Jesus did or spoke, 

Henceforth let me ever slight ; 
For I love his easy yoke, 

And find his burden light. 

LI. THE CHRISTIAN. 

Honour and happiness unite 

To make the Christian's name a praise ; 
How fair the scene, how clear the light, 

That fills the remnant of his days ! 



OLtVEY IfY.V.Ws. 



39 



A kingly character he bears, 

No change his priestly office knows ; 
Unfading is the crown he wears. 

His joys can never reach a close. 

Adorned with glory from on high, 
Salvation shines upon his face ; 

His robe is of the ethereal dye, 
His .>teps are dignity and grace. 

Inferior honours he disdains, 

Nor stoops to take applause from earth ; 
The King of kings himself maintains 

The expenses of his heavenly birth. 

The noblest creature seen below, 
Ordained to fill a throne above ; 

God gives him all he can bestow, 
His kingdom of eternal love ! 

My soul is ravished at the thought ! 

Methinks from earth I see him rise ! 
Angels congratulate his lot, 

And shout him welcome to the skies ! 



LII. LIVELY HOPE AND 
GRACIOUS FEAR. 

I was a grovelling creature once, 
And basely cleaved to earth ; 

I wanted spirit to renounce 
The clod that gave me birth. 

But God has breathed upon a worm, 

And sent me from above 
Wings such as clothe an angel's form, 

The wings of joy and love. " ( 

With these to Pisgah's top I fly, 

And there delighted stand, 
To view beneath a shining sky 

The spacious promised land. 

The Lord of all the vast domain 

Has promised it to me, 
The length and breadth of all the plain 

As far as faith can see. 

How glorious is my privilege ! 

To thee for help I call ; 
I stand upon a mountain's edge, 

Oh save me, lest I fall ! 



Though much exalted in the Lord, 
My strength is not my o\\ n ; 

Then let me tremble at his word, 
And none shall cast me down. 

LIII. FOR THE POOR. 

When Hagar found the bottle spent, 

And wept o'er Ishmael, 
A message from the Lord was sent 

To guide her to a well. 

Should not Elijah's cake and cruse 

Convince us at this day, 
A gracious God will not refuse 

Provisions by the way? 

His saints and servants shall be fed, 

The promise is secure ; 
"Bread shall be given them," as he said, 

"Their water shall be sure." 

Repasts far richer they shall prove, 
Than all earth's dainties are ; 
! 'Tis sweet to taste a Saviour's love, 
Though in the meanest fare. 

! To Jesus then your trouble bring, 
Nor murmur at your lot ; 
While you are poor and He is King, 
You shall not be forgot. 

LIY. MY SOUL THIRSTETH 
FOR GOD. 

I thirst, but not as once I did, 
The vain delights of earth to share ; 

Thy wounds, Emmanuel, all forbid 
That I should seek my pleasures there. 

It was the sight of thy dear cross 

First weaned my soul from earthly 
things ; 

And taueht me to esteem as dross 
The mirth of fools and pomp of kings. 

I want that grace that springs from thee, 
That quickens all things where it flows, 

And makes a wretched thorn like me 
Bloom as the myrtle, or the rose. 

Dear fountain of delight unknown ! 

No longer sink below the brim ; 
But overflow, and pour me down 

A living and life-giving stream ; 



4 o 



OLNE V HYMNS. 



For sure of all the plants that share 
The notice of thy Father's eye, 

None proves less grateful to his care, 
Or yields him meaner fruit than I. 

LV. LOVE CONSTRAINING 
TO OBEDIENCE. 

No strength of Nature can suffice 

To serve the Lord aright : 
And what she has she misapplies, 

For want of clearer light. 

How long beneath the law I lay 

In bondage and distress ; 
I toiled the precept to obey, 

But toiled without success. 

Then to abstain from outward sin 
Was more than I could do ; 

Now, if I feel its power within, 
I feel I hate it too. 

Then all my servile works were done 

A righteousness to raise ; 
Now, freely chosen in the Son, 

I freely chuse his ways. 

" What shall I do," was then the word, 
"That I may worthier grow?" 

"What shall I render to the Lord?" 
Is my inquiry now. 

To see the law by Christ fulfilled, 
And hear his pardoning voice, 

Changes a slave into a child, 
And duty into choice. 

LVI. THE HEART HEALED 
AND CHANGED BY MERCY. 

Sin enslaved me many years, 

And led me bound and blind ; 
Till at length a thousand fears 

Came swarming o'er my mind. 
"Where," said I, in deep distress, 

"Will these sinful pleasures end? 
How shall I secure my peace, 

And make the Lord my friend?" 

Friends and ministers said much 

The Gospel to enforce; 
But my blindness still was such, 

I chose a leiial course : 



Much I fasted, watched, and strove, 
Scarce would show my face abroad, 

Feared almost to speak or move, 
A stranger still to God. 

Thus afraid to trust his grace, 

Long time did I rebel ; 
Till despairing of my case, 

Down at his feet I fell : 
Then my stubborn heart he broke, 

And subdued me to his sway ; 
By a simple word he spoke, 

"Thy sins are done away." 



LVII. HATRED OF SIN. 

Holy Lord God ! I love thy truth, 
Nor dare thy least commandment 
slight ; 

Yet pierced by sin, the serpent's tooth, 
I mourn the anguish of the bite. 

But though the poison lurks within, 
Hope bids me still with patience wait ; 

Till death shall set me free from sin, 
Free from the only thing I hate. 

Had I a throne above the rest, 

Where angels and archangels dwell, 

One sin, unslain, within my breast, 
Would make that heaven as dark as 
hell. 

The prisoner sent to breathe fresh air, 
And blessed with liberty again, 

Would mourn were he condemnedto wear 
One link of all his former chain. 

But, oh ! no foe invades the bliss, 
When glory crowns the Christian's 
head ; 

One view of Jesus as he is 

Will strike all sin for ever dead. 



LVIII. THE NEW CONVERT. 

The new-born child of Gospel grace, 
Like some fair tree when summer's 
nigh, 

Beneath Emmanuel's shining face 
Lifts up his blooming branch on high. 



OLNEY HYMNS. 



••.' 



Xo fears he feels, lie sees no foes, 
ntlict yet liis faith em] 
has he learnt to whom he owes 
The strength and peace his soul enjoys. 

But sin soon darts its cruel sting, 
And comforts sinking day by day, 

What seemed his own, a self-fed spring, 
Proves but a brook that glides away. 

When Gideon armed his numerous host, 
The Lord soon made his numbers less ; 

And said, "Lest Israel vainly boast, 
' My arm procured me this success. ' " 

Thus will he bring our spirits down, 
And draw our ebbing comforts low, 

That saved by grace, but not our own, 
We may not claim the praise we owe. 



LIX. TRUE AXD FALSE 
COMFORTS. 

O God, whose favourable eye 

The sin-sick soul revive-. 
Holy and heavenly is the joy 

Thy shining presence gives. 

Xot such as hypocrites suppose, 
Who with a graceless heart 

Taste not of thee, but drink a dose 
Prepared by Satan's art. 

Intoxicating joys are theirs, 

Who while they boast their light, 

And seem to soar above the stars, 
Are plunging into night. 

Lulled in a soft and fatal sleep, 

They sin and yet rejoice ; 
Were they indeed the Saviour's sheep, 

Would they not hear his voice? 

Be mine the comforts that reclaim 
The soul from Satan's power; 

That make me blush for what I am, 
And hate my sin the more. 

'Tis jcy enough, my All in All, 

At thy dear feet to lie ; 
Thou wilt not let me lower fall, 
And none can higher fly. 



IX. A LIVING WD A DEAD 

1 All II. 

The Lord receives his highest praise 
From humble minds and hearts 
sincere ; 

While all the loud professor says 
Offends the righteous Judge's ear. 

To walk as children of the day, 
To mark the precepts' holy light, 

To wage the warfare, watch, and pray, 
Show who are pleasing in his sight. 

Xot words alone it cost the Lord 
To purchase pardon for his own ; 

Xor will a soul by grace restored 
Return the Saviour words alone. 

With golden bells, the priestly vest, 
And rich pomegranates bordered 
round, 

The need of holiness expressed, 

And called for fruit as well as sound. 

Easy indeed it were to reach 
A mansion in the courts above, 

If swelling words and fluent speech 
Might serve instead of faith and love. 

But none shall gain the blissful place, 
Or God's unclouded glory see, 

Who talks of free and sovereign grace, 
Unless that srrace has made him free ! 



LXI. ABUSE OF THE GOSPEL. 

Too many, Lord, abuse thy grace 

In this licentious day, 
And while they boast they see thy face 

They turn their own away. 

Thy book displays a gracious light 
That can the blind restore ; 

But these are dazzled by the sight, 
And blinded still the more. 

The pardon such presume upon, 
They do not beg, but steal ; 

And when they plead it at thy throne, 
Oh! where's the Spirit's seal? 



4 2 



OLNEY HYMNS. 



Was it for this, ye lawless tribe, 

The dear Redeemer bled? 
Is this the grace the saints imbibe 

From Christ the living head? 

Ah, Lord, we know thy chosen few 
Are fed with heavenly fare ; 

But these, — the wretched husks they 
chew 
Proclaim them what they are. 

The liberty our hearts implore 

Is not to live in sin ; 
But still to wait at Wisdom's door, 

Till Mercy calls us in. 



LXII. THE NARROW WAV. 

What thousands never knew the road ! 

What thousands hate it when 'tis 
known ! 
None but the chosen tribes of God 

Will seek or choose it for their own. 

A thousand ways in nun end, 
One only leads to joys on high ; 

By that my willing steps ascend, 
Pleased with a journey to the sky. 

No more I ask or hope to find 
Delight or happiness below ; 

Sorrow may well possess the mind 
That feeds where thorns and thistles 
grow. 

The joy that fades is not for me, 
I seek immortal joys above ; 

There glory without end shall be 
The bright reward of faith and love. 

Cleave to the world, ye sordid worms, 
Contented lick your native dust ! 

But God shall fight with all his storms 
Against the idol of your trust. 



LXIII. DEPENDENCE. 

To keep the lamp alive, 
With oil we fill the bowl ; 
'Tis water makes the willow thrive, 
And grace that feeds the soul. 



The Lord's unsparing hand 

Supplies the living stream; 

It is not at our own command, 

But still derived from him. 

Beware of Peter's word, 

Nor confidently say, 
"I never will deny thee, Lord," — 
But, — "Grant I never may." 

Man's wisdom is to seek 
His strength in God alone ; 
And even an angel would be weak 
Who trusted in his own. 

Retreat beneath his wings, 
And in his grace confide ! 
This more exalts the King of kings 
Than all your works beside. 

In Jesus is our store, 
Grace issues from his throne ; 
Whoever says, "I want no more," 
Confesses he has none. 



LXIV. NOT OF WORKS. 

Grace, triumphant in the throne, 
Scorns a rival, reigns alone ; 
Come and bow beneath her sway, 
Cast your idol works away ! 
Works of man, when made his plea, 
Never shall accepted be ; 
Fruits of pride (vain-glorious worm !) 
Are the best he can perform. 

Self, the god his soul adores, 
Influences all his powers ; 
Jesus is a slighted name, 
Self-advancement all his aim : 
But when God the Judge shall come 
To pronounce the final doom, 
Then for rocks and hills to hide 
All his works and all his pride ! 

Still the boasting heart replies, 
" What ! the worthy and the wise, 
Friends to temperance and peace, 
Have not these a righteousness?" 
Banish every vain pretence 
Built on human excellence ; 
Perish everything in man, 
But the grace that never can. 



OLNEY HYMNS. 



43 



LXV. PRAISE FOR FAITH. 

OF all the gifts thine hand bestows, 

Thou Giver of all good ! 
Not heaven itself a richer knows 

Than my Redeemer's blood. 

Faith too, the blood-receivir.g grace, 
From the same hand we gain ; 

Else, sweetly as it suits our case, 
That gift had been in vain. 

Till thou thy teaching power apply, 

Our hearts refuse to see, 
And weak, as a distempered eye, 

Shut out the view of thee. 

Blind to the merits of thy Son, 

What misery we endure ! 
Yet fly that hand from which alone 

We could expect a cure. 

We praise thee, and would praise thee 
To thee our all we owe ; [more, 

The precious Saviour, and the power 
That makes him precious too. 



LXVI. GRACE AND PRO- 
VIDENCE. 

Almighty King! whose wondrous hand 
Supports the weight of sea and land ; 
Whose grace is such a boundless store, 
No heart shall break that sighs for more ; 

Thy providence supplies my food, 
And 'tis thy blessing makes it good; 
My soul is nourished by thy word : 
Let soul and body praise the Lord ! 

My streams of outward comfort came 
From him who built this earthly frame ; 
Whate'er I want his bounty gives, 
By whom my soul for ever lives. 

Either his hand preserves from pain, 
Or, if I feel it, heals again ; 
From Satan's malice shields my breast, 
Or overrules it for the best. 

Forgive the song that falls so low 
Beneath the gratitude I owe ! 
It means thy praise, however poor, 
An angel's sons! can do no more. 



LXVII. I WILL PRAISE THE 
LORD AT ALL TIMES. 

Winter has a joy for me, 

While the Saviour's charms I read, 
Lowly, meek, from blemish free, 

In the snowdrop's pensive head. 

Spring returns, and brings along 

Life-invigorating suns : 
Hark ! the turtle's plaintive song 

Seems to speak his dying groans ! 

Summer has a thousand charms, 
All expressive of his worth; 

'Tis his sun that lights and warms, 
His the air that cools the earth. 

What! has Autumn left to say 
Nothing of a Saviour's grace? 

Yes, the beams of milder day 
Tell me of his smiling face. 

Light appears with early dawn, 
While the sun makes haste to rise ; 

See his bleeding beauties drawn 
On the blushes of the skies. 

Evening with a silent pace, 
Slowly moving in the west, 

Shows an emblem of his grace, 
Points to an eternal rest. 



LXVIII. LONGING TO BE 
WITH CHRIST. 

To Jesus, the Crown of my Hope, 
My soul is in haste to be gone ; 

Oh bear me, ye cherubim, up, 
And waft me away to his throne ! 

My Saviour, whom absent I love, 
Whom, not having seen, I adore ; 

Whose name is exalted above 
All glory, dominion, and power ; 

Dissolve thou these bonds, that detain 
My soul from her portion in thee, 

Ah! strike off this adamant chain, 
And make me eternally free. 

When that happy era begins, 

W T hen arrayed in thy glories I shine, 

Nor grieve any more, by my sins, 
The bosom on which I recline ; 



44 



OLNEY HYMNS. 



Oh then shall the veil be removed, 
And round me thy brightness be 
poured, 
I shall meet Him whom absent 1 loved, 
Shall see him whom unseen I 
adored. 

And then, never more shall the fears, 
The trials, temptations, and woes, 

Which darken this valley of tears, 
Intrude on my blissful repose. 



Or, if yet remembered above, 

Remembrance no sadness shall raise, 

They will be but new signs of thy love, 
Is ew themes for mywonderand praise. 

Thus the strokes which from sin and 
from pain 
Shall set me eternally free, 
Will but strengthen and rivet the chain 
Which binds me, my Saviour ! to 
thee. 



[Cotvper's first published l'o/iuiic] 



OEM 

B Y 

WILLIAM COW PER. 

Of the INNER TEMPLE, Esq. 



Sicut aquae tremulum labris ubi lumen ahenis 
Sole repercussum, aut radiantis imagine lunse, 
Omnia pervolitat late loca; jamque sub auras 
Erigitur, summique ferit laquearia tecti. Viro. .-En. viii. 

So water trembling in a polished vase. 
Reflects the beam that plays upon its face, 
The sportive light, uncertain where it falls, 
Now strikes the roof, now flashes on the walls. 

Xuus sommes nes pour la verite, et nous ne pouvons souffrir son 
abord. les figures, les paraboles, les emblemes. sont toujours 
des ornements necessaires pour quelle puisse s'annoncer. et soit 
quon craigne qu'elle ne decouvre trop brusquement le defaut 
qu'on voudroit cacher, ou quenfin elle n'instruise avec trop 
peu de management, ou veut, en la recevant, qu'elle soit 
deguisee. 

Caraccioli. 



LONDON: 

Printed for J. Johnson, Xo. 72. St. Paul's Church Yard. 

1782. 



47 



PREFACE, BY THE REV. JOHN NEWTON. 

WHEN bo author, by appearing in print, requests an audience of the public, 
and is upon the point of speaking for himself, whoever presumes to step before 
him with a Preface, and to say, " Nay, but hear me first ! " should have something 
worthy of attention to offer, or he will be justly deemed officious and impertinent. 
The judicious reader has, probably, upon other occasions, been beforehand with 
me in this reflection : and 1 am not very willing it should now be applied to me, 
however I may seem to expose myself to the danger of it. But the thought of 
having my own name perpetuated in connexion with the name in the title-page is 
so pleasing and flattering to the feelings of my heart, that I am content to risk 
something for the gratification. 

This Preface is not designed to commend the Poems to which it is prefixed. 
My testimony would be insufficient for those who are not qualified to judge properly 
for themselves, and unnecessary to those who are. Besides, the reasons which 
render it improper and unseemly for a man to celebrate his own performances, or 
those of his nearest relatives, will have some influence in suppressing much of what 
he might otherwise wish to say in favour of a friend, when that friend is indeed an 
alter idem, and excites almost the same emotions of sensibility and affection as he 
feels for himself. 

It is very probable these Poems may come into the hands of some persons, in 
whom the sight of the author's name will awaken a recollection of incidents and 
>cenes, which through length of time they had almost forgotten. They will be 
reminded of one, who was once the companion of their chosen hours, and who set 
out with them in early life in the paths which lead to literary honours, to influence 
and affluence, with equal prospects of success. But he was suddenly and power- 
fully withdrawn from those pursuits, and he left them without regret ; yet not till 
he had sufficient opportunity of counting the cost, and of knowing the value of 
what he gave up. If happiness could have been found in classical attainments, in 
an elegant taste, in the exertions of wit, fancy, and genius, and in the esteem and 
converse of such persons as in these respects were most congenial with himself, 
he would have been happy. But he was not. — He wondered (as thousands in a 
similar situation still do) that he should continue dissatisfied, with all the means 
apparently conducive to satisfaction within his reach. — But in due time the cause 
of his disappointment was discovered to him: — He had lived without God in the 
world. In a memorable hour, the wisdom which is from above visited his heart. 
Then he felt himself a wanderer, and then he found a guide. Upon this change 
of views, a change of plan and conduct followed of course. When he saw the 
busy and the gay world in its true light, he left it with as little reluctance as a 
prisoner, when called to liberty, leaves his dungeon. Not that he became a cynic 
or an ascetic : — a heart filled with love to God will assuredly breathe benevolence 
to men. But the turn of his temper inclining him to rural life, he indulged it, and 
the providence of God evidently preparing his way and marking out his retreat, 
he retired into the country. By these steps the good hand of God, unknown to 
me, was providing for me one of the principal blessings of my life ; a friend and 
a counsellor, in whose company for almost seven years, though we were seldom 
seven successive waking hours separated, I always found new pleasure: a friend 
who was not only a comfort to myself, but a blessing to the affectionate poor 
people among whom I then lived. 



4 8 PREFACE. 

Some time after inclination had thus removed him from the hurry and bustle of 
life, he was still more secluded by a long indisposition, and my pleasure was 
succeeded by a proportionable degree of anxiety and concern. But a hope that the 
God whom he served would support him under his affliction, and at length vouch- 
safe him a happy deliverance, never forsook me. The desirable crisis, I trust, is 
now nearly approaching. The dawn, the presage of returning day, is already 
arrived. He is again enabled to resume his pen, and some of the first fruits of his 
recovery are here presented to the public. In his principal subjects, the same 
acumen which distinguished him in the early period of life is happily employed in 
illustrating and enforcing the truths, of which he received such deep and unalterable 
impressions in his maturer years. His satire, if it may be called so, is benevolent, 
(like the operations of the skilful and humane surgeon, who wounds only to heal,) 
dictated by a just regard for the honour of God, and indignant grief excited by the 
profligacy of the age, and a tender compassion for the souls of men. 

His favourite topics are least insisted on in the piece entitled "Table Talk;" 
which, therefore, with some regard to the prevailing taste, and that those who are 
governed by it may not be discouraged at the very threshold from proceeding 
farther, is placed first. In most of the large Poems which follow, his leading 
design is more explicitly avowed and pursued. He aims to communicate his own 
perceptions of the truth, beauty, and influence of the religion of the Bible, — a 
religion, which, however discredited by the misconduct of many who have not 
renounced the Christian name, proves itself, when rightly understood, and cordially 
embraced, to be the grand desideratum which alone can relieve the mind of man 
from painful and unavoidable anxieties, inspire it with stable peace and solid hope, 
and furnish those motives ami prospects which, in the present state of things, are 
absolutely necessary to produce a conduct worthy of a rational creature, distin- 
guished by a vastness of capacity, which no assemblage of earthly good can satisfy, 
and by a principle and pre-intimation of immortality. 

At a time when hypothesis and conjecture in philosophy are so justly exploded, 
and little is considered as deserving the name of knowledge which will not stand 
the test of experiment, the very use of the term experimental, in religious concern- 
ments, is by too many unhappily rejected with disgust. But we well know, that 
they who affect to despite the inward feelings which religious persons speak of, and 
to treat them as enthusiasm and folly, have inward feelings of their own, which, 
though they would, they cannot suppress. We have been too long in the secret 
ourselves, to account the proud, the ambitious, or the voluptuous, happy. We 
must lose the remembrance of what we once were, before we can believe that a 
man is satisfied with himself, merely because he endeavours to appear so. A smile 
upon the face is often but a ma-k worn occasionally and in company, to prevent, if 
possible, a suspicion of what at the same time is passing in the heart. We know 
that there are people, who seldom smile when they are alone, who therefore are 
glad to hide themselves in a throng from the violence of their own reflections; and 
who, while by their looks and their language they wish to persuade us they are 
happy, would be glad to change conditions with a dog. But in defiance of all 
their efforts, they continue to think, forebode, and tremble. This we know, for it 
has been our own state, and therefore we know how to commiserate it in others. 
From this state the Bible relieved us. When we were led to read it with attention, 
we found ourselves described, — we learnt the causes of our inquietude, — we were 
directed to a method of relief, we tried, and we were not disappointed. 
I >eus nobis hsec oti 

We are now certain that the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation 
• iy one that believeth. It has reconciled us to Cod, and to ourselves, to our 



TABLE TALK. 49 



duty, and oar situation. It i> the halm and cordial of the present life, and a 
sovereign antidote against the fear of death. 

Sed hactattts hcec. — Some smaller pieces, upon less important subjects, close the 
volume. Not one of them, I believe, was written with a view to publication, but 
I was unwilling they should be omitted. 

John Newton. 
Chari.es Square, Hoxton, 

February 18, 1782. » 



TABLE TALK. 

Si te forte meae gravis uret sarcina chartae, 
Abjicito.— Hok. lib. i. ep. 13. 

A. You told me, I remember, glory, built 
On selfish principles, is shame and guilt ; 
The deeds that men admire as half divine, 
Stark naught, because corrupt in their design. 
Strange doctrine this ! that without scruple tears 
The laurel that the very lightning spares ; 
Brings down the warrior's trophy to the dust, 
And eats into his bloody sword like rust. 

B. I grant that, men continuing what they are. 
Fierce, avaricious, proud, there must be war ; 
And never meant the rule should be applied 

To him that fights with justice on his side. 

Let laurels, drenched in pure Parnassian dews, 
Reward his memory, dear to every muse, 
Who, with a courage of unshaken root, 
In honour's field advancing his firm foot, 
Plants it upon the line that justice draws, 
And will prevail or perish in her cause. 
'Tis to the virtues of such men, man owes 
His portion in the good that Heaven bestows ; 
And when recording History displays 
Feats of renown, though wrought in ancient days, 
Tells of a few stout hearts that fought and died' 
Where duty placed them, at their country's side, — 
The man that is not moved with what he reads, 
That takes not fire at their heroic deeds, 
Unworthy of the blessings of the brave, 
Is base in kind, and bom to be a slave. 

But let eternal infamy pursue 
The wretch to nought but his ambition true, 
Who, for the sake of filling with one blast 
The post-horns of all Europe, lays her waste. 
Think yourself stationed on a towering rock, 
To see a people scattered like a flock, 
Some royal mastiff panting at their heels, 
With all the savage thirst a tiger feels, 



So TABLE TALK. 



Then view him self-proclaimed in a gazette 

Chief monster that has plagued the nations yet! 

The globe and sceptre in such hands misplaced, 

Those ensigns of dominion, how disgraced ! 40 

The glass that bids man mark the fleeting hour, 

And Death's own scythe, would better speak his power. 

Then grace the bony phantom in their stead 

With the king's shoulder-knot and gay cockade; 

Clothe the twin brethren in each other's dress, 

The same their occupation and success. 

A. 'Tis your belief the world was made for man ; 
Kings do but reason on the self-same plan : 
Maintaining yours, you cannot theirs condemn. 

Who think, or seem to think, man made for them. 50 

B. Seldom, alas ! the power of logic reigns 
With much sufficiency in roy r al brains ; 

Such reasoning falls like an inverted cone, 

Wanting its proper base to stand upon. 

Man made for kings ! those optics are but dim 

That tell you so ; — say, rather, they for him. 

That were indeed a king-ennobling thought, 

Could they, or would they, reason as they ought. 

The diadem with mighty projects lined, 

To catch renown by ruining mankind, 60 

Is worth, with all its gold and glittering store, 

Just what the toy will sell for, and no more. 

Oh ! bright occasions of dispensing good, 
How seldom used, how little understood ! 
To pour in Virtue's lap her just reward ; 
Keep Vice restrained behind a double guard ; 
To quell the faction that affronts the throne, 
By silent magnanimity alone; 
To muse with tender care the thriving Arts, 
Watch every beam Philosophy imparts ; 70 

To give Religion her unbridled scope, 
Nor judge by statute a believer's hope ; 
With close fidelity and love unfeigned 
To keep the matrimonial bond unstained ; 
Covetous only of a virtuous praise, 
Mis life a lesson to the land lie sways ; 
To touch the sword with conscientious awe, 
Nor draw it but when duly bids him draw ; 
To sheath it in the peace-restoring close 

With joy beyond what victory bestows, — 80 

Blest country ! where these kingly glories shine, 
Blest England ! if this happiness be thine. 

./. Guard what you say ; the patriotic tribe 
Will sneer, and charge you with a bribe. — B. A bribe? 
The woith <>l his three kingdoms I defy 
To lure me to the baseness of a lie ; 
Ami, of all lies (be that one poet's boast), 
The lie that Hatters I abhor the most. 



TABLE TALK. 51 



Those arts be theirs that hate his gentle reign, 

But he that loves him lias no need to feign. 90 

./. Your smooth eulogium, to one crown addressed, 
Seems to imply a censure on the rest. 

B. Quevedo, as he tells his sober tale, 
Asked, when in hell, to see the royal jail, 
Approved their method in all other things, 
"But where, good sir, do you confine your kings?" 
"There," said his guide, "the group is full in view." 
"Indeed ! " replied the Don ; " there are but few." 
His black interpreter the charge disdained ;— 
" Few, fellow? There are all that ever reigned." 100 

Wit, undistinguishing, is apt to strike 
The guilty and not guilty, both alike. 
I grant the sarcasm is too severe, 
And we can readily refute it here, 
While Alfred's name, the father of his age, 
And the Sixth Edward's, grace the historic page. 

A. Kings then at last have but the lot of all ; 
By their own conduct they must stand or fall. 

B. True. While they live, the courtly laureate pays 

His quit-rent ode, his pepper-corn of praise, no 

And many a dunce whose fingers itch to write, 

Adds, as he can, his tributary mite ; 

A subject's faults a subject may proclaim, 

A monarch's errors are forbidden game. 

Thus free from censure, (overawed by fear,) 

And praised for virtues that they scorn to wear, 

The fleeting forms of majesty engage 

Respect, while stalking o'er life's narrow stage, 

Then leave their crimes for History to scan, 

And ask, with busy scorn, Was this the man? 120 

I pity kings whom worship waits upon 
Obsequious, from the cradle to the throne ; 
Before whose infant eyes the flatterer bows, 
And binds a wreath about their baby brows ; 
Whom education stiffens into state, 
And death awakens from that dream too late. 
Oh ! if servility, with supple knees, 
Whose trade it is to smile, to crouch, to please, — 
If smooth dissimulation, skilled to grace 

A devil's purpose with an angel's face, — 13° 

If smiling peeresses and simpering peers, 
Encompassing his throne a few short years, — 
If the gilt carriage and the pampered steed, 
That wants no driving and disdains the lead, — 
If guards, mechanically formed in ranks, 
Playing, at beat of drum, their martial pranks, 
Shouldering and standing, as if struck to stone, 
While condescending majesty looks on ; 
If monarchy consist in such base things, 
Sighing, I say again, I pity kings ! IdO 



52 TABLE TALK. 






To be suspected, thwarted, and withstood, 
Even when he labours for his country's good, — 
To sec a band called patriot for no cause 
But that they catch at popular applause, 
Careless of all the anxiety he feels, 
Hook disappointment on the public wheels, 
With all their flippant fluency of tongue, 
Most confident, when palpably most wrong, — 
If this be kingly, then farewell for me 
All kingship, and may I be poor and free ! 15° 

To be the Table Talk of clubs up stairs, 
To which the unwashed artificer repairs, 
To indulge his genius after long fatigue 
By diving into cabinet intrigue, 
(For what kings deem a toil, as well they may, 
To him is relaxation and mere play ; ) — 
To win no praise when well-wrought plans prevail, 
But to be rudely censured when they fail, — 
To doubt the love his favourites may pretend, 
And in reality to find no friend, — 160 

If he indulge a cultivated taste, 
His galleries with the works of art well graced, 
To hear it called extravagance and waste ; 
If these attendants, and if such as these, 
Must follow royalty, then welcome ease ! 
However humble and confined the sphere, 
Happy the state that has not these to fear. 

A. Thus men, whose thoughts contemplative have 
dwelt 

On situations that they never felt, 

Start up sagacious, covered with the dust 17° 

Of dreaming study and pedantic rust, 

And prate and preach about what others prove, 

As if the world and they were hand and glove. 

Leave kingly backs to cope with kingly cares, 

They have their weight to carry, subjects theirs; 

Poets, of all men, ever least regret 

Increasing taxes and the nation's debt. 

Could you contrive the payment, and rehearse 

The mighty plan, oracular, in verse, 

No bard, how e'er majestic, old or new, 180 

Should claim my fixed attention more than you. 

B. Not Brindley nor Bridgewater would essay 
To turn the course of Helicon that way ; 

Nor would the Nine consent the sacred tide 
Should purl amidst the traffic of Cheapside, 
Or tinkle in "Change Alley, to amuse 
The leathern ears of stock-jobbers and Jews. 

A. Vouchsafe, at least, to pitch the key of rhyme 
To themes more pertinent, if less sublime. 
When ministers and ministerial arts, — 190 

Patriots who love good places at their hearts, — 



TABLE TALK. 53 



When admirals extolled for standing still, 

Or doing nothing with a deal of skill, 

Generals who will not conquer when they ma-, 

Firm friends to peace, to pleasure, and good pay, — 

When freedom wounded almost to despair, 

Though discontent alone can find out where, — 

When themes like these employ the poet's tongue, 

I hear, — as mute as if a syren sung. 

Or tell me, if you can, what power maintains 200 

A Briton's scorn of arbitrary chains? 

That were a theme might animate the dead, 

And move the lips of poets cast in lead. 

B. The cause, though worth the search, may yet elude 
Conjecture and remark, however shrewd. 
They take, perhaps, a well-directed aim, 
Who seek it in his climate and his frame. 
Liberal in all things else, yet Nature here 
With stern severity deals out the year. 

Winter invades the spring, and often pours 210 

A chilling flood on summer's drooping flowers ; 
Unwelcome vapours quench autumnal beams, 
Ungenial blasts attending, curl the streams ; 
The peasants urge their harvest, ply the fork 
With double toil, and shiver at their work. 
Thus with a rigour, for his good designed, 
She rears her favourite man of all mankind. 
His form robust and of elastic tone, 
Proportioned well, half muscle and half bone, 
Supplies with warm activity and force 220 

A mind well lodged, and masculine of course. 
Hence Liberty, sweet Liberty, inspires 
And keeps alive his fierce but noble fires. 
Patient of constitutional control, 
He bears it with meek manliness of soul ; 
But if authority grow wanton, woe 
To him that treads upon his free-born toe ! 
One step beyond the boundary of the laws 
Fires him at once in Freedom's glorious cause. 
Thus proud Prerogative, not much revered, 230 

Is seldom felt, though sometimes seen and heard ; 
And in his cage, like parrot fine and gay, 
Is kept to strut, look big, and talk away. 

Born in a climate softer far than ours, 
Not formed like us, with such Herculean powers, 
The Frenchman, easy, debonair, and brisk, 
Give him his lass, his fiddle, and his frisk, 
Is always happy, reign whoever may, 
And laughs the sense of misery far away. 
He drinks his simple beverage with a gust, 240 

And feasting on an onion and a crust, 
We never feel the alacrity and joy 
With which he shouts and carols, " Vive Ic Roy ! " 



TABLE TALK. 



Filled with as much true merriment and glee 
As if he heard his king say, " Slave, be free ! " 

Thus happiness depends, as nature shows, 
Less on exterior things than most suppose. 
Vigilant over all that He has made, 
Kind Providence attends with gracious aid. 
Bids equity throughout His works prevail, 250 

And weighs the nations in an even scale ; 
He can encourage Slavery to a smile, 
And fill with discontent a British isle. 

A. Freeman and slave then, if the case be such, 
Stand on a level, — and you prove too much. 

If all men indiscriminately share 
His fostering power and tutelary care, 
As well be yoked by Despotism's hand, 
As dwell at large in Britain's chartered land. 

B. No. Freedom has a thousand charms to show, 260 
That slaves, howe'er contented, never know. 

Tiie mind attains beneath her happy reign 

The growth that Nature meant she should attain ; 

The varied fields of science, ever new, 

Opening and wider opening on her view, 

She ventures onward with a prosperous force, 

While no base fear impedes her in her course. 

Religion, richest favour of the skies, 

Stands most revealed before the freeman's eyes ; 

No shades of superstition blot the day, 270 

Liberty chases all that gloom away ; 

The soul, emancipated, unoppressed, 

Free to prove all things, and hold fast the best, 

Learns much, and to a thousand listening minds 

Communicates with joy the good she finds ; 

Courage in arms, and ever prompt to show 

His manly forehead to the fiercest foe ; 

( rlorious in war, but fir the sake of peace, 

His spirits rising as his toils increase, 

Guards well what arts and industry have won, 280 

And Freedom claims him for her first-born son. 

Slaves fight for what were better cast away, 

The chain that binds them, and a tyrant's sway , 

Hut they that fight for freedom, undertake 

The noblest cause mankind can have ai stake, 

Religion, virtue, truth, whate'er we call 

A blessing, freedom is the pledge of all. 

O Liberty ! the prisoner's pleasing dream, 

The poet's muse, his passion and his theme, 

Genius is thine, and thou art Fancy's ni 290 

Lost without thee the ennobling powers of verse ; 

Heroic song from thy free touch acquires 

Its clearest tone, the rapture it inspires. 

Place me where Winter breathes his keenest air, 

\nd I « ill sing if Liberty be there ; 



TABLE TALK. 55 



And I will sing at Liberty's dear feet 

In Afric's torrid clime or India's fiercest heat. 

A. Sing where you please ; in such a cause I grant 
An English poet's privilege to rant. 

But is not Freedom, at least is not orrs, 300 

Too apt to play the wanton with her powers, 
Grow freakish, and o'erleaping every mound, 
Spread anarchy and terror all around? 

B. Agreed. But would you sell or slay your horse 
For bounding and curvetting in his course ; 

Or if, when ridden with a careless rein, 

Pie break away, and seek the distant plain? 

No. His high mettle, under good control, 

Gives him Olympic speed, and shoots him to the goal. 

Let Discipline employ her wholesome arts ; 310 

Let magistrates alert perform their parts, 
Not skulk, or put on a prudential mask, 
As if their duty were a desperate task ; 
Let active laws apply the needful curb 
To guard the peace that riot would disturb, 
And liberty, preserved from wild excess, 
Shall raise no feuds for armies to suppress. 
When Tumult lately burst his prison door, 
And set plebeian thousands in a roar, 

When he usurped Authority's just place, 320 

And dared to look his master in the face, 
When the rude rabble's watchword was, " Destroy ! " 
And blazing London seemed a second Troy, 
Liberty blushed, and hung her drooping head, 
Beheld their progress with the deepest dread, 
Blushed that effects like these she should produce, 
Worse than the deeds of galley-slaves broke loose. 
She loses in such storms her very name, 
And fierce Licentiousness should bear the blame. 

Incomparable gem ! thy worth untold, 330 

Cheap, though blood-bought, and thrown away when sold ; 
May no foes ravish thee, and no false friend 
Betray thee, while professing to defend : 
Prize it, ye ministers ; ye monarchs, spare ; 
Ye patriots, guard it with a miser's care ! 

A. Patriots, alas ! the few that have been found 
Where most they flourish, upon English ground, 
The country's need have scantily supplied ; 

And the last left the scene when Chatham died. 

B. Not so — the virtue still adorns our age, 340 
Though the chief actor died upon the stage. 

In him, Demosthenes was heard again, 
Liberty taught him her Athenian >train ; 
She clothed him with authority and awe, 
Spoke from his lips, and in his looks gave law. 
His speech, his form, his action, full of grace, 
And all his country beaming in his face, 



- 6 TABLE TALK. 



He stood, as some inimitable hand 

Would strive to make a Paul or Tully stand. 

No sycophant or slave that dared oppose 350 

Her sacred cause, but trembled when he rose, 

And every venal stickler for the yoke 

Felt himself crushed at the first word he spoke. 

Such men are raised to station and command, 
When Providence means mercy to a land. 
He speaks, and they appear ; to Him they owe 
Skill to direct, and strength to strike the blow, 
To manage with address, to seize with power 
The crisis of a dark decisive hour. 

So Gideon earned a victory not his own, 360 

Subserviency his praise, and that alone. 

Poor England ! thou art a devoted deer, 
Beset with every ill but that of fear. 
The nations hunt ; all mark thee for a prey, 
They swarm around thee, and thou stand'st at bay, 
Undaunted still, though wearied and perplexed ; 
Once Chatham saved thee, but who saves thee next? 
Alas ! the tide of pleasure sweeps along 
All that should be the boast of British song. 
'Tis not the wreath that once adorned thy brow, 370 

The prize of happier times, will serve thee now. 
Our ancestry, a gallant Christian race, 
Patterns of every virtue, every grace, 
Confessed a God ; they kneeled before they fought, 
And praised Him in the victories He wrought. 
Now from the dust of ancient days bring forth 
Their sober zeal, integrity, and worth ; 
Courage, ungraced by these, affronts the skies, 
Is but the fire without the sacrifice. 

The stream that feeds the well-spring of the heart 380 

Not more invigorates life's noblest part, 
Than virtue quickens with a warmth divine 
The powers that sin has brought to a decline. 

A. The inestimable estimate of Brown 
Rose like a paper-kite, and charmed the town , 
But measures, planned and executed well, 
Shifted the wind that raised it, and it fell. 

He trod the very self-same ground you tread, 
And victory refuted all he said. 

B. And yet his judgment was not framed amiss, 390 
Its error, if it erred, was merely this, — 

lie thought the dying hour already come, 
And a complete recovery struck him dumb. 

But that effeminacy, folly, lust. 
Enervate and enfeeble, and needs must, — 
And that a nation shamefiillj debased 
Will be despised and trampled on at last. 
Unless sweet penitence her powers renew, — 
Is truth, if history itself be true. 



TABLE TALK. 57 



There is a time, and justice marks the date, 400 

For long-forbearing clemency to wait ; 

That hour elapsed, the incurable revolt 

Is punished, and down comes the thunderbolt. 

If Mercy then put by the threatening blow, 

Must she perform the same kind office nffiu ? 

May she ! and if offended Heaven be still 

Accessible, and prayer prevail, she will. 

'Tis not however insolence and noise, 

The tempest of tumultuary joys, 

Nor is it yet despondence and dismay, 410 

Will win her visits, or engage her stay ; 

Prayer only, and the penitential tear, 

Can call her smiling down, and fix her here. 

But when a country (one that I could name) 
In prostitution sinks the sense of shame ; 
When infamous Venality, grown bold, 
Writes on his bosom, " To be let or sold " 
When Perjury, that heaven-defying vice, 
Sells oaths by tale, and at the lowest price, 
Stamps God's own name upon a lie just made, 420 

To turn a penny in the way of trade ; 
When Avarice starves, and never hides his face, 
Two or three millions of the human race, 
And not a tongue inquires how, where, or when, 
Though conscience will have twinges now and then ; 
When profanation of the sacred cause 
In all its parts, times, ministry, and laws, 
Bespeaks a land, once Christian, fallen and lost 
In all that wars against that title most ; 

What follows next, let cities of great name, 430 

And regions long since desolate, proclaim : 
Nineveh, Babylon, and ancient Rome 
Speak to the present times and times to come, 
They cry aloud in every careless ear, 
" Stop, while ye may, suspend your mad career ! 
Oh learn from our example and our fate, 
Learn wisdom and repentance ere too late ! " 

Not only Vice disposes and prepares 
The mind that slumbers sweetly in her snares, 
To stoop to tyranny's usurped command, 440 

And bend her polished neck beneath his hand, 
(A dire effect, by one of nature's laws 
Unchangeably connected with its cause ;) 
But Providence himself will intervene 
To throw His dark displeasure o'er the scene. 
All are His instruments ; each form of war, 
What burns at home, or threatens from afar, 
Nature in arms, her elements at strife, 
The storms that overset the joys of life, 

Are but His rods to scourge a guilty land, 450 

And waste it at the bidding of His hand. 



58 TABLE TALK. 



He gives the word, and Mutiny soon roars 

In all her gates, and shakes her distant shores ; 

The standards of all nations are unfurled, 

She has one foe, and that one foe, the world. 

And if He doom that people with a frown, 

And mark them with the seal of wrath, pressed down. 

Obduracy takes place ; callous and tough, 

The reprobated race grows judgment-proof ; 

Earth shakes beneath them, and heaven roars above, 460 

But nothing scares them from the course they love ; 

To the lascivious pipe and wanton song, 

That charm down fear, they frolic it along, 

With mad rapidity and unconcern, 

Down to the gulf from which is no return. 

They trust in navies, and their navies fail, 

God's curse can cast away ten thousand sail ; 

They trust in armies, and their courage dies ; 

In wisdom, wealth, in fortune, and in lies ; 

But all they trust in withers, as it must, 470 

When He commands, in whom they place no trust. 

Vengeance at last pours down upon their coast, 

A long despised, but now victorious host ; 

Tyranny sends the chain that must abridge 

The noble sweep of all their privilege, 

Gives liberty the last, the mortal shock, 

Slips the slave's collar on, and snaps the lock. 

A. Such lofty strains embellish what you teach ; 
Mean you to prophesy, or but to preach ? 

B. I know the mind that feels indeed the fire 480 
The Muse imparts, and can command the lyre, 

Acts with a force, and kindles with a zeal, 

Whate'er the theme, that others never feel. 

If human woes her soft attention claim, 

A tender sympathy pervades the frame, 

She pours a sensibility divine 

Along the nerve of every feeling line. 

But if a deed not tamely to be borne, 

Fire indignation and a sense of scorn, 

The strings are swept with such a power, so loud, 490 

The storm of music shakes the astonished crowd. 

Si 1 when remote futurity is brought 

Before the keen inquiry of her thought, 

A terrible sagacity informs 

The poet's heart, he looks to distant storms, 

He hears the thunder ere the tempest lowers, 

And, armed with strength surpassing human powers, 

Seizes events as yet unknown to man, 

A, id darts his soul into the dawning plan. 

Hence, in a Roman mouth, the graceful name 500 

Of prophet and of poet ras the same ; 

I fence British poets too the priesthood shared, 

And every hallowed Druid was a bard. 



TABLE TALK. 59 



But do prophetic fires to me belong, 
I play with syllables, and sport in song. 

A. At Westminster, where little poets strive 
To set a distich upon six and five, 

Where Discipline helps opening buds of sense, 

And makes his pupils proud with silver pence, 

I was a poet too ; — but modern taste 510 

Is so refined and delicate and chaste, 

That verse, whatever fire the fancy warms, 

Without a creamy smoothness has no charms. 

Tims, all success depending on an ear, 

And thinking I might purchase it too dear, 

If sentiment were sacrificed to sound, 

And truth cut short to make a period round, 

I judged a man of sense could scarce do worse 

Than caper in the morris-dance of verse. 

B. Thus reputation is a spur to wit, 5^0 
And some wits flag through fear of losing it. 

Give me the line that ploughs its stately course 

Like a proud swan, conquering the stream by force : 

That like some cottage beauty strikes the heart, 

Quite unindebted to the tricks of art. 

When labour and when dulness, club in hand, 

Like the two figures at St. Dunstan's stand, 

Beating alternately, in measured time, 

The clock-work tintinnabulum of rhyme, 

Exact and regular the sounds will be, 530 

But such mere quarter-strokes are not for me. 

Prom him who rears a poem lank and long, 
To him who strains his all into a song, 
Perhaps some bonny Caledonian air, 
All birks and braes, though he was never there ; 
Or having whelped a prologue with great pains, 
Feels himself spent, and fumbles for his brains; 
A prologue interdashed with many a stroke, 
An art contrived to advertise a joke, 

So that the jest is clearly to be seen, 540 

Xot in the words — but in the gap between; 
Manner is all in all, whate'er is writ, 
The substitute for genius, sense, and wit. 

To dally much with subjects mean and low 
Proves that the mind is weak, or makes it so. 
Neglected talents rust into decay, 
And even' effort ends in push-pin play. 
The man that means success should soar above 
A soldier's feather, or a lady's glove, 

Else summoning the Muse to such a theme, 5-50 

The fruit of all her labour is whipt-cream. 
As if an eagle flew aloft, and then — 
Stooped from his highest pitch to pounce a wren. 
As if the poet, purposing to wed, 
Should carre himself a wife in gingerbread. 



6o TABLE TALK. 



Ages elasped ere Homers lamp appeared, 

And ages ere the Mantuan Swan was heard ; 

To carry nature lengths unknown before, 

To give a Milton birth, asked ages more. 

Thus Genius rose and set at ordered times, 560 

And shot a day-spring into distant climes ; 

Ennobling every region that he chose, 

He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose, 

And, tedious years of Gothic darkness past, 

Emerged all splendour in our isle at last. 

Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main, 

Then show far off their shining plumes again. 
.-/. Is genius only found in epic lays? 

Prove this, and forfeit all pretence to praise. 

Make their heroic powers your own at once, 570 

Or candidly confess yourself a dunce. 
B. These were the chief; each interval of night 

Was graced with many an undulating light ; 

In less illustrious bards his beauty shone 

A meteor or a star ; in these, the sun. 

The nightingale may claim the topmost bough, 

While the poor grasshopper must chirp below. 

Like him unnoticed, I, and such as I, 

Spread little wings, and rather skip than fly; 

Perched on the meagre produce of the land, 580 

An ell or two of prospect we command, 

But never peep beyond the thorny bound, 

Or oaken fence, that hems the paddock round. 

In Eden, ere yet innocence of heart 
Had faded, poetry was not an art ; 
Language above all teaching, or if taught, 
Only by gratitude and glowing thought, — 
Elegant as simplicity, and warm 
As ecstasy, unmanacled by form, — 

Not prompted, as in our degenerate days, 590 

By low ambition and the thirst of praise, 
Was natural as is the flowing stream, 
And yet magnificent, a God the theme. 
That theme on earth exhausted, though above 
'Tis found as everlasting as His low. 
Man lavished all his thoughts on human things, 
The feats of heroes and the wrath of kings, 
But still while virtue kindled his delight, 
The song was moral, and so far was right 
Twas thus till luxury seduced the mind 600 

To joys less innocent, as less refined, 
Then genius danced a bacchanal, he crowned 
The brimming goblet, seized the thyrsus, bound 
His brows with ivy, rushed into the field 
Of wild imagination, and there reeled 
The victim of his own lascivious fires, 
And, dizzy with delight, profaned the sacred wires. 



TABLE TALK'. 61 

Anacreon, Horace, played in Greece and Rome 
This Bedlam part ; and, others nearer home. 
When Cromwell fought for power, and while he reigned 610 
The proud Protector of the power he gained, 
Religion harsh, intolerant, austere, 
Parent of manners like herself severe, 
Drew a rough copy of the Christian face 
Without the smile, the sweetness, or the grace; 
The dark and sullen humour of the time 
Judged every effort of the Muse a crime; 
Verse in the finest mould of fancy cast, • 

Was lumber in an age so void of taste : 
But when the second Charles assumed the way, 620 

And arts revived beneath a softer day, 
Then like a bow long forced into a curve, 
The mind, released from too constrained a nerve, 
Flew to its first position with a spring 
That made the vaulted roofs of pleasure ring. 
His court, the dissolute and hateful school 
Of wantonness, where vice was taught by rule, 
Swarmed with a scribbling herd as deep inlaid 
With brutal lust as ever Circe made. 

From these a long succession in the rage 630 

Of rank obscenity debauched their age, 
Nor ceased, till ever anxious to redress 
The abuses of her sacred charge, the press, 
The Muse instructed a well-nurtured train 
Of abler votaries to cleanse the stain, 
And claim the palm for purity of song, 
That lewdness had usurped and worn so long. 
Then decent pleasantry and sterling sense, 
That neither gave nor would endure offence, 
Whipped out of sight, with satire just and keen, 640 

The puppy pack that had defiled the scene. 
In front of these came Addison. In him 
Humour, in holiday and sightly trim, 
Sublimity and Attic taste combined, 
To polish, furnish, and delight the mind. 
Then Pope, as harmony itself exact, 
In verse well-disciplined, complete, compact, 
Gave virtue and morality a grace 
That, quite eclipsing pleasure's painted face, 
Levied a tax of wonder and applause, 650 

Even on the fools that trampled on their laws. 
But he (his musical finesse was such, 
So nice his ear, so delicate his touch) 
Made poetry a mere mechanic art, 
And every warbler has his tune by heart. 
Nature imparting her satiric gift, 
Her serious mirth, to Arbuthnot and Swift, 
With droll sobriety they raised a smile 
At folly's cost, themselves unmoved the while. 



f }2 TABLE TALK. 

That constellation set, the world in vain 660 

Must hope to look upon their like again. 

A. Are we then left — B. Not wholly in the dark : 

Wit now and then, struck smartly, shows a spark, 

Sufficient to redeem the modern race 

From total night and absolute disgrace. 

While servile trick and imitative knack 

Confine the million in the beaten track, 

Perhaps some courser who disdains the road 

Snuffs up the wind and flings himself abroad. 

Contemporaries all surpassed, see one, 670 

Short his career, indeed, but ably run. 

Churchill, himself unconscious of his powers, 

In penury consumed his idle hours, 

And, like a scattered seed at random sown, 

Was left to spring by vigour of his own. 

Lifted at length, by dignity of thought 

And dint of genius, to an affluent lot, 

He laid his head in luxury's soft lap, 

And took too often there his easy nap. 

If brighter beams than all he threw not forth, 680 

; Twas negligence in him, not want of worth. 

Surly and slovenly, and bold and coarse, 

Too proud for art, and trusting in mere force, 

Spendthrift alike of money and of wit, 

Always at speed, and never drawing bit, 
He struck the lyre in such a careless mood, 

And so disdained the rules he understood, 

The laurel seemed to wait on his command, 
He snatched it rudely from the Muses' hand. 

Nature, exerting an unwearied power, 690 

Forms, opens, and gives scent to every flower, 
Spreads the fresh verdure of the field, and leads 
The dancing Naiads through the dewy meads ; 
She fills profuse ten thousand little throats 
With music, modulating ah their notes, 
And charms the woodland scenes and wilds unknown 
With artless airs and concerts of her own; 
But seldom (as if fearful of expense) 
Vouchsafes to man a poet's just pretence. 
Fervency, freedom, fluency of thought, 700 

Harmony, strength, words exquisitely sought, 
Fancy that from the bow that spans the sky 
Brings colour., dipt in heaven that never die, 
A soul exalted above earth, a mind 
Skilled in the characters that form mankind, — 
And as the sun, in rising beauty dressed, 
Looks to the westward from the dappled east, 
And marks, whatever clouds may interpose, 
Fie yet his race begins, its glorious close, 
An eye like his to catch the distant goal, 710 

Ur ere the wheels of verse beein to roll. 



TABLE TALK. 63 



Like liis to shed illuminating rays 
On every scene and subject it survey-, 
Thus graced, the man asserts a poet's name, 
And the world cheerfully admits the claim. 

Pity Religion has so seldom found 
A skilful guide into poetic ground ! 
The flowers would spring where'er she deigned to stray, 
And every muse attend her in her way. 

Virtue indeed meets many a rhyming friend, 720 

And many a compliment politely penned, 
But unattired in that becoming vest 
Religion weaves for her, and half undressed, 
Stands in the desert shivering and forlorn, 
A wintry figure, like a withered thorn. 
The shelves are full, all other themes are sped, 
Hackneyed and worn to the last flimsy thread ; 
Satire has long since done his best, and curst 
And loathsome Ribaldry has done his worst ; 
Fancy has sported all her powers away 730 

In tales, in trifles, and in children's play ; 
And 'tis the sad complaint, and almost true, 
Whate'er we write, we bring forth nothing new. 
'Twere new indeed to see a bard all fire, 

Touched with a coal from heaven, assume the lyre, 

And tell the world, still kindling as he sung, 

With more than mortal music on his tongue, 

That He who died below, and reigns above, 

Inspires the song, and that his name is Love. 

For, after all, if merely to beguile 740 

By flowing numbers and a flowery style 

The tredium that the lazy rich endure, 

Which now and then sweet poetry may cure, — 

Or if to see the name of idol self 

Stamped on the well-bound quarto, grace the shelf, 

Tq float a bubble on the breath of fame, — 

Prompt his endeavour and engage his aim, 

Debased to servile purposes of pride, 

How are the powers of genius misapplied ! 

The gift whose office is the Giver's praise, 750 

To trace Him in His word, His works, His ways, 

Then spread the rich discovery, and invite 

Mankind to share in the divine delight, 

Distorted from its use and just design, 

To make the pitiful possessor shine, 

To purchase at the fool-frequented fair 

Of Vanity, a wreath for self to wear, 

Is profanation of the basest kind, 

Proof of a trifling and a worthless mind. 

A. Hail Sternhold then, and Hopkins hail ! B. Amen. 

If flattery, folly, lust employ the pen, 761 

If acrimony, slander and abuse, 

Give it a charge to blacken and traduce ; 



64 THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. 



Though Butler's wit, Pope's numbers, Prior's ease, 
With all that fancy can invent to please, 
Adorn the polished periods as they fall, 
One madrigal of theirs is worth them all. 

A. 'Twould thin the ranks of the poetic tribe, 
To dash the pen through all that you proscribe. 

B. No matter; — we could shift when they were not; 770 
And should, no doubt, if they were all forgot. 



THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. 

Si quid loquar audiendum.— Hor. lib. iv. ad. 2. 

Sing, Muse (if such a theme, so dark, so long, 

May find a Muse to grace it with a song), 

By what unseen and unsuspected arts 

The serpent Error twines round human hearts ; 

Tell where she lurks, beneath what flowery shades 

That not a glimpse of genuine light pervades, 

The poisonous, black, insinuating worm 

Successfully conceals her loathsome form. 

Take, if ye can, ye careless and supine, 

Counsel and caution from a voice like mine ! 10 

Truths that the theorist could never reach, 

And observation taught me, I would teach. 

Not all, whose eloquence the fancy fills, 
Musical as the chime of tinkling rills, 
Weak to perform, though mighty to pretend, 
Can trace her mazy windings to their end, 
Discern the fraud beneath the specious lure, 
Prevent the danger, or prescribe the cure. 
The clear harangue, and cold as it is clear, 
Falls soporific on the listless ear; 20 

Like quicksilver, the rhetoric they display 
Shines as it runs, but, grasped at, slips away. 

Placed for his trial on this bustling stage, 
From thoughtless youth to ruminating age, 
Free in his will to choose or to refuse, 
Man may improve the crisis, or abuse; 
Else, on the fatalist's unrighteous plan, 
Say, to what bar amenable were man? 
With nought in charge, he could betray no trust, 
And, if lie fell, would fall because he must; 30 

If love reward him, or if vengeance strike, 
His recompense in both unjust alike. 
Divine authority within his breast 
Brings every thought, word, action, to the test; 
Warns him or prompts, approves him or restrains, 
As Reason, or as Passion, takes the reins. 
Heaven from above, and Conscience from within. 
Crv in his startled ear "Abstain from sin ! " 



THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. 65 



The world around solicits his desire, 

And kindles in Ins soul a treacherous fire J 4.0 

While, all his purposes and steps to guard, 

Peace follows Virtue as its sure reward, 

And Pleasure brings as surely in her train 

Remorse and Sorrow and vindictive Pain. 

Man. thus endued with an elective voice, 
Must be supplied with objects of his choice ; 
Where'er he turns, enjoyment and delight, 
1 >r present or in prospect, meet his sight : 
These open on the spot their honeyed store; 
Those call him loudly to pursuit of more. 50 

His unexhausted mine, the sordid vice 
Avarice shows, and virtue is the price. 
Here various motives his ambition raise — 
Power, Pomp, and Splendour, and the thirst of praise 
There Beauty woos him with expanded arms ; 
Ev'n Bacchanalian madness has its charms. 

Nor these alone, whose pleasures less refined 
Might well alarm the most unguarded mind, 
Seek to supplant his inexperienced youth, 
Or lead him devious from the path of truth; 60 

Hourly allurements on his passions press, 
Safe in themselves, but dangerous in the excess. 

Hark ! how it floats upon the dewy air ! 
Oh what a dying, dying close was there! 
Pis harmony from yon sequestered bower, 
Sweet harmony, that soothes the midnight hour ! 
Long ere the charioteer of day had run 
PI is morning course, the enchantment was begun ; 
And he shall gild yon mountain's height again, 
Ere yet the pleasing toil becomes a pain. 70 

Is this the nigged path, the steep ascent 
That Virtue points to? Can a life thus spent 
Lead to the bliss she promises the wise. 
Detach the soul from earth, and speed her to the skies? 
Ye devotees to your adored employ, 
Enthusiasts, drunk with an unreal joy, 
Love makes the music of the blest above, 
Heaven's harmony is universal love; 
And earthly sounds, though sweet and well combined, 
And lenient as soft opiates to the mind, So 

Leave vice and folly unsubdued behind. 

Grey dawn appears ; the sportsman and his train 
Speckle the bosom of the distant plain ; 
'Tis he, the Nimrod of the neighbouring lairs, — 
Save that his scent is less acute than theirs, 
Eor persevering chase, and headlong leaps, 
True beagle as the staunchest hound he keeps. 
Charged with the folly of his life's mad scene, 
He takes offence, and wonders what you mean; 
The joy, the danger, and the toil o'erpays — go 



66 THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. 

'Tis exercise, and health, and length of days. 
Again impetuous to the field he flies ; 
Leaps every fence but one, there falls and dies ; 
Like a slain deer, the tumbrel brings him home, 
Unmissed but by his dogs and by his groom. 

Ye clergy, while your orbit is your place, 
Lights of the world, and stars of human race ; 
But if eccentric ye forsake your sphere, 
Prodigies ominous, and viewed with fear; 
The comet's baneful influence is a dream; ioo 

Yours real and pernicious in the extreme. 
What then ! — are appetites and lusts laid down 
'With the same ease the man puts on his gown? 
Will Avarice and Concupiscence give place, 
Charmed by the sounds — "Your reverence," or "Your grace?" 
No. But his own engagement binds him fast ; 
Or, if it does not, brands him to the last 
What atheists call him — a designing knave, 
A mere church juggler, hypocrite, and slave. 
Oh laugh, or mourn with me, the rueful jest, IIO 

A cassocked huntsman, and a fiddling priest ! 
He from Italian songsters takes his cue ; 
Set Paul to music, he shall quote him too. 
He takes the field, the master of the pack 
Cries — " Well done, saint ! " and claps him on the back. 
Is this the path of sanctity? Is this 
To stand a way-mark in the road to bliss? 
Himself a wanderer from the narrow way, 
His silly sheep, what wonder if they stray? 
Go, cast your orders at your bishop's feet, 120 

Send your dishonoured gown to Monmouth Street ; 
The sacred function in your hands is made — 
Sad sacrilege ! — no function, but a trade ! 

Occiduus is a pastor of renown ; 
When he has prayed and preached the sabbath down, 
With wire and catgut he concludes the day, 
Quavering and semiquavering care away. 
The full concerto swells upon your ear ; 
All elbows shake. Look in, and you would swear 
The Babylonian tyrant with a nod I3O 

Had summoned them to serve his golden god ; 
So well that thought the employment seems to suit, 
Psaltery and sackbur, dulcimer and flute. 
Oh fie ! 'Tis evangelical and pure: 
Observe ench face, how sober and demure ! 
Ecstasy »cts her stamp on every mien ; 
Chins fallen, and not an eye-ball to be seen. 
Still I insist, though music heretofore 
Has charmed me much, (not even Occiduus more,) 
Love, joy, and peace make harmony more meet 1 jo* 

For Sabbath evenings, and perhaps as swi 

Will not the sickliest sheep of every flock 



THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. 67 



Resort to this example as a rock ; 

There stand and justify the foul abuse 

Of Sabbath hours, with plausible excuse? 

If apostolic gravity be free 

To play the fool on Sundays, why not we ? 

If he the tinkling harpsichord regards 

As inoffensive, what offence in cards? 

Strike up the fiddles ! let us all be gay ! 150 

Laymen have leave to dance, if parsons play. 

O Italy ! thy Sabbaths will be soon 
Our Sabbaths, closed with mummery and buffoon. 
Preaching and pranks will share the motley scene, 
Ours parcelled out, as thine have ever been, 
God's worship and the mountebank between. 
What says the prophet ? Let that day be blest 
With holiness and consecrated rest. 
Pastime and business both it should exclude, 
And bar the door the moment they intrude ; 160 

Nobly distinguished above all the six 
By deeds in which the world must never mix. 
Hear him again. He calls it a delight, 
A day of luxury, observed aright, 
When the glad soul is made heaven's welcome guest, 
Sits banqueting, and God provides the feast. 
But triflers are engaged and cannot come ; 
Their answer to the call is — Not at home. 

Oh the dear pleasures of the velvet plain ! 
The painted tablets, dealt and dealt again ! 1 70 

Cards with what rapture, and the polished die, 
The yawning chasm of indolence supply ! 
Then to the dance, and make the sober moon 
Witness of joys that shun the sight of noon. 
Blame, cynic, if you can, quadrille or ball, 
The snug close party, or the splendid hall, 
Where Night, down-stooping from her ebon throne, 
Views constellations brighter than her own. 
'Tis innocent and harmless, and refined, 
The balm of care, elysium of the mind. 180 

Innocent ! Oh, if venerable Time 
Slain at the foot of Pleasure be no crime, 
Then, with his silver beard and magic wand, 
Let Comus rise Archbishop of the land ; 
Let him your rubric and your feasts prescribe, 
Grand Metropolitan of all the tribe. 

Of manners rough, and coarse athletic cast, 
The rank debauch suits Clodio's filthy taste. 
Rufillus, exquisitely formed by rule, 

Not of the moral but the dancing school, 190 

Wonders at Clodio's follies, in a tone 
As tragical as others at his own. 
He cannot drink five bottles, bilk the score, 
Then kill a constable, and drink five more ; 



63 THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. 



But he can draw a pattern, make a tart, 

And has the Ladies' Etiquette by heart. 

Go, fool ; and, arm in arm with Clodio, plead 

Your cause before a bar you little dread ; 

But know, the law that bids the drunkard die 

Is far too just to pass the trifler by. 200 

Both baby-featured and of infant size, 

Viewed from a distance, and with heedless eyes, 

Folly and Innocence are so alike, 

The difference, though essential, fails to strike. 

Vet Folly ever has a vacant stare, 

A simpering countenance, and a trifling air ; 

But Innocence, sedate, serene, erect, 

Delights us by engaging our respect. 

Man, Nature's guest by invitation sweet, 

Receives from her both appetite and treat ; 2IO 

But, if he play the glutton and exceed, 

His benefactress blushes at the deed, 

For Nature, nice, as liberal to dispense, 

Made nothing but a brute the slave of sense. 
Daniel ate pulse by choice — example rare ! 

Heaven blessed the youth, and made him fresh and fair. 

Gorgonius sits abdominous and wan, 

Like a fat squab upon a Chinese fan ; 

He sntiffs far off the anticipated joy, 

Turtle and venison all his thoughts employ ; 220 

Prepares for meals as jockeys take a sweat, 

Oh nauseous ! — an emetic for a whet! 

Will Providence o'erlook the wasted good? 

Temperance were no virtue if He could. 

That pleasures, therefore, or what such we call, 
Are hurtful, is a truth confessed by all ; 
And some, that seem to threaten virtue less, 
Still hurtful in the abuse, or by the excess. 
Is man then only for his torment placed 
The centre of delights he may not taste? 230 

Like fabled Tantalus, condemned to hear 
The precious stream still purling in his ear, 
Lip-deep in what he longs for, and yet curst 
With prohibition, and perpetual thirst? 
No, wrangler, -destitute of shame and sense, 
The precept that enjoins him abstinence 
Forbids him none but the licentious joy. 
Whose fruit, though fair, tempts only to destroy. 
Remorse, the fatal egg by Pleasure laid 

In every bosom where her nest is made, 240 

Hatched by the beams of truth, denies him rest, 
And proves a raging scorpion in his breast. 
Xo pleasure? Are domestic comforts dead? 
Are all the nameless sweets of Friendship lied ? 
Has time worn out, or fashion put to shame 
Good sense, good health, good conscience, and good fame? 



THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. 6q 



All these belong to virtue, and all prove 

That virtue has a title to your love. 

Have you no touch of pity, that the poor 

Stand starved at your inhospitable door? 250 

Or if yourself, too scantily supplied, 

Need help, let honest industry provide 

Earn, if you want ; if you abound, impart ; 

These both are pleasures to the feeling heart. 

No pleasure ? Has some sickly Eastern wast : 

Sent us a wind to parch us at a blast ? 

Can British paradise no scenes afford 

To please her sated and indifferent lord? 

Are sweet philosophy's enjoyments run 

Quite to the lees? And has religion none? 260 

Brutes capable would tell you 'tis a lie, 

And judge you from the kennel and the sty. 

Delights like these, ye sensual and profane, 

Ye are bid, begged, besought to entertain ; 

Called to these crystal streams, do ye turn off 

Obscene, to swill and swallow at a trough? 

Envy the beast then, on whom Heaven bestows 

Your pleasures, with no curses in the close ! 

Pleasure, admitted in undue degree, 
Enslaves the will, nor leaves the judgment free. 270 

'Tis not alone the grape's enticing juice 
Unnerves the moral powers, and mars their u;e ; 
Ambition, avarice, and the lust of fame, 
And woman, lovely woman, does the same. 
The heart, surrendered to the ruling power 
Of some ungoverned passion every hour, 
Finds, by degrees, the truths that once bore sway, 
And all their deep impressions wear away. 
So coin grows smooth, in traffic current passed 
Till Caesar's image is effaced at last. 2S0 

The breach, though small at first, soon opening wide, 
In rushes folly with a full-moon tide : 
Then welcome errors, of whatever size, 
To justify it by a thousand lies. 
As creeping ivy clings to wood or stone, 
And hides the ruin that it feeds upon, 
So sophistry cleaves close to and protects 
Sin's rotten trunk, concealing its defects. 
Mortals whose pleasures are their only care, 
First wish to be imposed on, and then are; 290 

And lest the fulsome artifice should fail, 
Themselves will hide its coarseness with a veil. 
Not more industrious are the just and true 
To give to virtue what is virtue's due, 
The praise of wisdom, comeliness, and worth, 
And call her charms to public notice forth, 
Than vice's mean and disingenuous race 
To hide the shocking features of her face : 



7 o THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. 



Her form with dress and lotion they repair. 

Then kiss their idol, and pronounce her fair. 300 

The sacred implement I now employ 
Might prove a mischief, or at best a toy, 
A trifle if it move but to amuse, 
But if to wrong the judgment and abuse, 
Worse than a poniard in the basest hand, 
It stabs at once the morals of a land. 

Ye writers of what none with safety reads, 
Footing it in the dance that fancy leads, 
Ye novelists, who mar what ye would mend, 
Snivelling and drivelling folly without end, 310 

Whose corresponding misses fill the ream 
With sentimental frippery and dream, 
Caught in a delicate soft silken net 
By some lewd earl or rake-hell baronet ; 
Ye pimps, who, under Virtue's fair pretence. 
Steal to the closet of young Innocence, 
And teach her, inexperienced yet and green, 
To scribble as you scribbled at fifteen ; 
Who, kindling a combustion of desire, 

With some cold moral think to quench the fire ; 320 

Though all your engineering proves in vain, 
The dribbling stream ne'er puts it out again ; 
Oh that a verse had power, and could command 
Far, far away these flesh-flies of the land ! 
Who fasten without mercy on the fair, 
And suck, and leave a craving maggot there. 
Howe'er disguised the inflammatory tale, 
And covered with a fine-spun specious veil, 
Such writers and such readers owe the gust 
And relish of their pleasure all to lust. 330 

But the Muse, eagle-pinioned, has in view 
A quarry more important still than you ; 
Down, down the wind she swims and sails away, 
Now stoops upon it, and now grasps the prey. 

Petronius ! all the Muses weep for thee, 
But every tear shall scald thy memory. 
The Graces too, while Virtue at their shrine 
Lay bleeding under that soft hand of thine, 
Felt each a mortal stab in her own breast, 
Abhorred the sacrifice, and cursed the priest : 340 

Thou polished and high-finished foe to truth, 
Grey-beard corrupter of our listening youth, 
To purge and skim away the filth of vice, 
That so refined it might the more entice, 
Then pour it on the morals of thy son 
To taint his heart, was worthy of thine 07on. 
Now while the poison all high life pervades, 
Write if thou canst one letter from the shades, 
One, and one only, charged with deep regret, 
That thy worst part, thy principles, live yet; 3^0 



THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. 



One sad epistle thence may cure mankind 
Of the plague spread by bundles left behind. 

"lis granted, and no plainer truth appears, 
Our most important are our earliest years. 
The mind impressible and soft, with ease 
Imbibes and copies what she hears and sees 
And through life's labyrinth holds fast the clue 
That education gives her, false or true. 
Plants raised with tenderness are seldom strong. 
Man's coltish disposition asks the thong, 560 

And without discipline the favourite child, 
Like a neglected forester, runs wild. 
But we, as if good qualities would grow 
Spontaneous, take but little pains to sow; 
We give some Latin, and a smatch of Greek, 
Teach him to fence and figure twice a week, 
And having done, we think, the best we can, 
Praise his proficiency and dub him man. 

From school to Cam or Isis, and thence home, 
And thence with all convenient speed to Rome, 370 

With reverend tutor clad in habit lay, 
To tease for cash, and quarrel with all day; 
With memorandum-book for every town, 
And every post, and where the chaise broke down 
His stock a few French phrases got by heart, 
With much to learn but nothing to impart, 
The youth, obedient to his sire's commands, 
Sets off a wanderer into foreign lands : 
Surprised at all they meet, the gosling pair 
With awkward gait, stretched neck, and silly stare, 380 

Discover huge cathedrals built with stone, 
And steeples towering high much like our own, 
But show peculiar light by many a grin 
At Popish practices observed within. 

Ere long, some bowing, smirking, smart Abbe 
Remarks two loiterei _ s that have lost their way, 
And being always primed with politesse 
For men of their appearance and address, 
With much compassion undertakes the task, 
To tell them more than they have wit to ask ; 390 

Points to inscriptions wheresoe'er they tread, 
Such as when legible were never read, 
But being cankered now, and half worn out, 
Craze antiquarian brains with endless doubt ; 
Some headless hero or some Caesar shows, 
Defective only in his Roman nose ; 
Exhibits elevations, drawings, plans, 
Modeis of Herculanean pots and pans, 
And sells them medals, which, if neither rare 
Nor ancient, will be so, preserved with care. 400 

Strange the recital ! from whatever cause 
His great improvement and new lights he draws, 



-z THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. 



The squire once bashful is shamefaced no more, 

But teems with powers he never felt before : 

Whether increased momentum, and the force 

With which from clime to clime he sped his course, 

As axles sometimes kindle as they go, 

Chafed him and brought dull nature to a glow; 

Or whether clearer skies and softer air, 

That make Italian flowers so sweet and fair, 410 

Freshening his lazy spirits as he ran, 

Unfolded genially and spread the man ; 

Returning, he proclaims by many a grace, 

By shrugs and strange contortions of his face, 

How much a dunce that has been sent to roam 

Excels a dunce that has been kept at home. 

Accomplishments have taken virtue's place, 
And wisdom falls before exterior grace : 
We flight the precious kernel of the stone, 
And toil to polish its rough coat alone. 420 

A just deportment, manners graced with ease, 
Elegant phrase, and figure formed to please, 
Are qualities that seem to comprehend 
Whatever parents, guardians, schools intend. 
Hence an unfurnished and a listless mind, 
Though busy, trifling ; empty, though refined ; 
Hence all that interferes, and dares to clash 
With indolence and luxury, is trash; 
While learning, once the man's exclusive pride, 
Seems verging fast towards the f.n ale side. 430 

Leaming itself, received into a mind 
By nature weak, or viciously inclined, 
Serves but to lead philosophers astray 
Where children would with ease discern the way. 
And of all arts sagacious dupes invent 
To cheat themselves and gain the world's assent. 
The worst is — Scripture warped from its intent. 

The carriage bowls along, and all arc pleased 
If Tom be sober, and the wheels well grease ! ; 
But if the rogue have gone a cup too far, 4.10 

Left out his linch-pin or forgot his tar, 
It suffers interruption and delay, 
And meets with hindrance in the smoothest way. 
When some hypothesis absurd and vain 
Has filled with all its fumes a critic's brain, 
The text that sorts not with his darling whim, 
Though plain to others, is obscure to him. 
The Will made subject to a lawless force, 
All is irregular and out of course, 

And Judgment drunk, and bribed to lose his way. • ^50 
Winks hard, and talks of darkness at noon-day. 

A critic on the tiered book should be 
Candid and learned, dispassionate and free; 
Free from the wayward bias bigots feel, 



THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. 73 



From fancy's influence, and intemperate zeal, 
But above all (or let the wretch refrain, 
Nor touch the page he cannot but profane) 
Free from the domineering power of lust ; 
A lewd interpreter is never just. 

How shall I speak thee, or thy power address, 460 

The hi god of our idolatry, the Press? 
By thee, religion, liberty, and laws 
Exert their influence, and advance their cause ; 
By thee, worse plagues than Pharaoh's land befei), 
Diffused, make earth the vestibule of hell : 
Thou fountain, at which drink the good and wise. 
Thou ever- bubbling spring of endless lies, 
Like Eden's dread probationary tree, 
Knowledge of good and evil is from thee. 

No wild enthusiast ever yet could rest, 470 

Till half mankind were like himself possessed. 
Philosophers, who darken and put out 
Eternal truth by everlasting doubt, 
Church quacks, with passions under no command, 
Who fill the world with doctrines contraband. 
Discoverers of they know not what, confined 
Within no bounds, the blind that lead the blind, 
To streams of popular opinion drawn, 
Deposit in those shallows all their spawn. 
The wriggling fry soon fill the creeks around, 480 

Poisoning the waters where their swarms abound ; 
Scorned by the nobler tenants of the flood, 
Minnows and gudgeons gorge the unwholesome food. 
The propagated myriads spread so fast, 
Even Leuwenhoek himself would stand aghast, 
Employed to calculate the enormous sum, 
And own his crab-computing powers o'ercome. 
Is this hyperbole ? The world well known, 
Your sober thoughts will hardly find it one. 

Fresh confidence the speculatist takes 490 

From every hare-brained proselyte he makes, 
And therefore prints : — himself but half deceived. 
Till others have the soothing tale believed. 
Hence comment after comment, spun as fine 
As bloated spiders draw the flimsy line ; 
Hence the same word that bids our lusts obey, 
Is misapplied to sanctify their sway. 
If stubborn Greek refuse to be his friend, 
Hebrew or Syriac shall be forced to bend ; 
If languages and copies all cry "No !" 500 

Somebody proved it centuries ago. 
Like trout pursued, the critic in despair 
Darts to the mud and finds his safety there. 
Women, whom custom has forbid to fly 
The scholar's pitch (the scholar best knows why), 
With all the simple and unlettered poor. 



74 THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. 



Admire his learning, and almost adore. 
Whoever errs, the priest can ne'er be wrong, 
With such fine words familiar to his tongue. 

Ye ladies ! (for, indifferent in your cause. 5'° 

I should deserve to forfeit all applause,) 
Whatever shocks, or gives the least offence 
To virtue, delicacy, truth, or sense 
(Try the criterion, 'tis a faithful guide), 
Nor has, nor can have, Scripture on its side. 

None but an author knows an author's cares, 
Or fancy's fondness for the child she bears. 
Committed once into the public arms, 
The baby seems to smile with added charms : 
Like something precious ventured far from shore, 520 

'Tis valued for the danger's sake the more. 
He views it with complacency supreme, 
Solicits kind attention to his dream, 
And daily, more enamoured of the cheat, 
Kneels, and asks Heaven to bless the dear deceit. 
So one, whose story serves at least to show 
Men loved their own productions long ago, 
Wooed an unfeeling statue for his wife, 
Nor rested till the gods had given it life. 
If some mere driveller suck the sugared fib, 530 

One that still needs his leading-string and bib, 
And praise his genius, he is soon repaid 
In praise applied to the same part, his head : 
For 'tis a rule that holds for ever true, 
Grant me discernment, and 1 grant it you. 

Patient of contradiction as a child, 
Affable, humble, diffident, and mild, 
Such was Sir Isaac, and such Boyle and Locke ; 
Your blunderer is as sturdy as a rock : 

The creature is so sure to kick and bite, 540 

A muleteer's the man to set him right. 
First appetite enlists him truth's sworn foe, 
Then obstinate self-will confirms him so. 
Tell him he wanders, that his error leads 
To fatal ills, that though the path he treads 
Be flowery, and he see no cause of fear, 
Death and the pains of hell attend him there ; 
In vain : the slave of arrogance and pride, 
He has no hearing on the prudent side. 

His still refuted quirks he still repeats, 550 

New raised objections with new quibbles meets, 
Till sinking in the quicksand he defends, 
He dies disputing, and the contest ends ; 
But not the mischiefs : they, still left behind, 
Like thistle-seeds are sown by every wind. 

Thus men s^o wrong with an ingenious skill. 
Bend the straight rule lo their own crooked will. 
And with a clear and shining lam]) supplied. 



THE PROGRESS OF ERROR. 



First put it out, then take it for a guide. 

Halting on crutches of unequal size, 560 

One leg by truth supported, one by lies, 

They sidle to the goal with awkward pace, 

Secure of nothing, but to lose the race. 

Faults in the life breed errors in the brain, 
And these, reciprocally, those again. 
The mind and conduct mutually imprint 
And stamp their image in each other's mint ; 
Each sire and dam of an infernal race 
Begetting and conceiving all that's base. 

None sends his arrow to the mark in view, 570 

Whose hand is feeble, or his aim untrue ; 
For though ere yet the shaft is on the wing, 
Or when it first forsakes the elastic string, 
It err but little from the intended line, 
It falls at last far wide of his design : 
So he who seeks a mansion in the sky 
Must watch his purpose with a steadfast eye ; 
That prize belongs to none but the sincere, 
The least obliquity is fatal here. 

With caution taste the sweet Circsean cup : 580 

He that sips often, at last drinks it up. 
Habits are soon assumed, but when we strive 
To strip them off, 'tis being flayed alive. 
Called to the temple of impure delight, 
He that abstains, and he alone, does right. 
If a wish wander that way, call it home, 
He cannot long be safe whose wishes roam. 
But if you pass the threshold, you are caught ; 
Die then, if power Almighty save you not ! 
There hardening by degrees, till double steeled, 590 

Take leave of nature's God, and God revealed ; 
Then laugh at all you trembled at before, 
And joining the freethinkers' brutal roar, 
Swallow the two grand nostrums they dispense, 
That Scripture lies, and blasphemy is sense ; 
If clemency revolted by abuse 
Be damnable, then damned without excuse. 

Some dream that they can silence when they will 
The storm of passion, and say, "Peace, be still ; " 
But " Thus far and no farther " when addressed 600 

To the wild wave, or wilder human breast, 
Implies authority that never can, 
That never ought, to be the lot of man. 

But, Muse, forbear ! long nights forebode a fall, 
Strike on the deep-toned chord the sum of all. 
Hear the just law, the judgment of the skies : 
He that hates truth shall be the dupe of lies ; 
And he that will be cheated to the last, 
Delusions strong as hell, shall bind him fast. 
But if the wanderer his mistake discern, 610 



76 TRUTH. 

Judge his own ways, and sigh for a return, 

Bewildered once, must he bewail his loss 

For ever and for ever? No — the Cross ! 

There and there only (though the deist rave, 

And atheist, if earth bear so base a slave), 

There, and there only, is the power to save ; 

There no delusive hope invites despair, 

No mockery meets you, no deception there : 

The spells and charms that blinded you before, 

All vanish there, and fascinate no more. 620 

I am no preacher ; let this hint suffice, 
The Cross once seen is death to every vice : 
Else He that hung there suffered all His pain, 
Bled, groaned and agonized, and died, in vain, 



TRUTH. 

Pensantur trutina. — Hoi?, lib. ii. ep. 1. 

Man, on the dubious waves of error tossed, 

His ship half foundered, and his compass lost, 

Sees, far as human optics may command, 

A sleeping fog, and fancies it dry land : 

Spreads all his canvas, every sinew plies ; 

Pants for it, aims at it, enters it, and dies. 

Then farewell all self-satisfying schemes, 

His well-built systems, philosophic dreams, 

Deceitful views of future bliss, farewell ! 

He reads his sentence at the flames of Hell. 10 

Hard lot of man ! to toil for the reward 
Of virtue, and yet lose it ! — Wherefore hard? 
He that would win the race, must guide his horse 
Obedient to the customs of the course ; 
Else, though unequalled to the goal he flies, 
A meaner than himself shall gain the prize. 
Grace leads the right way, — if you choose the wrong, 
Take it and perish, but restrain your tongue ; 
Charge not, with light sufficient, and left free, 
Your wilful suicide on God's decree. 20 

Oli how unlike the complex works of man, 
Heaven's easy, artless, unencumbered plan ! 
No meretricious graces to beguile, 
No clustering ornaments to clog the pile ; 
From ostentation as from weakness free, 
It stands like the C3erulean arch we see, 
Majestic in its own simplicity. 
Inscribed above the portal, from afar 
Conspicuous as the brightness of a star, 
Legible only by the light they give, 30 



TRUTH. 77 

Stand ths soul-quickening words — BELIEVE and live. 

Too many, shocked at what should charm them most, 

Despise the plain direction and are lost. 

Heaven on such terms ! they cry with proud disdain, 

Incredible, impossible, and vain ! — 

Rebel because 'tis easy to obey, 

And scorn, for its own sake, the gracious way. 

These are the sober, in whose cooler brains 

Some thought of immortality remains; 

The rest too busy, or too gay, to wait en 

On the sad theme, their everlasting state, 

Sport for a day and perish in a night, 

The foam upon the waters not so light. 

Who judged the Pharisee? What odious cause 
Exposed him to the vengeance of the laws? 
Had he seduced a virgin, wronged a friend, 
Or stabbed a man to serve some private end ? 
Was blasphemy his sin? Or did he stray 
From the strict duties of the sacred day? 
Sit long and late at the carousing board ? 50 

(Such were the sins with which he charged his Lord.) 
No— the man's morals were exact ; what then? 
Twas his ambition to be seen of men ; 
I lis virtues were his pride ! and that one vice 
Made all his virtues gewgaws of no price; 
He wore them as fine trappings for a show, 
A praying, synagogue-frequenting beau. 

The self-applauding bird, the peacock see,— 
Mark what a sumptuous Pharisee is he ! 
Meridian sunbeams tempt him to unfold 60 

His radiant glories, azure, green, and gold : 
He treads as if, some solemn music near, 
His measured step were governed by his ear, 
And seems to say, "Ye meaner fowl, give place! 
I am all splendour, dignity, and grace ! " 

Not so the pheasant on his charms presumes, 
Though he too has a glory in his plumes. 
He, Christian-like, retreats with modest mien 
To the close copse or far sequestered green, 
And shines without desiring to be seen. 70 

The plea of works, as arrogant and vain, 
Heaven turns from with abhorrence and disdain ; 
Not more affronted by avowed neglect 
Than by the mere dissembler's feigned respect. 
What is all righteousness that men devise, 
What, but a sordid bargain for the skies? 
But Christ as soon would abdicate His own 
As stoop from heaven to sell the proud a throne. 

His dwelling a recess in some rude rock, 
Book, beads, and maple dish his meagre stock, 80 

In shirt of hair, and weeds of canvas dressed, 
Girt with a bell-rope that the Pope has blessed, 



7 g TRUTH. 

Adust with stripes told out for every crime, 

And sore tormented long before his time ; 

His prayer preferred to saints that cannot aid, 

His praise postponed, and never to be paid ; 

See the sage hermit by mankind admired, 

With all that bigotry adopts, inspired, 

Wearing out life in his religious whim, 

Till his religious whimsy wears out him. 90 

His works, his abstinence, his zeal allowed, 

You think him humble — God accounts him proud ; 

High in demand, though lowly in pretence, 

Of all his conduct this the genuine sense — 

My penitential stripes, my streaming blood, 

Have purchased heaven and prove my title good 

Turn Eastward now, and Fancy shall apply 
To your weak sight her telescopic eye. 
The Bramin kindles on his own bare head 
The sacred fire, self-torturing his trade ; 100 

His voluntary pains, severe and long, 
Would give a barbarous air to British song ; 
No grand inquisitor could worse invent 
Than he contrives to suffer well content. 

Which is the saintlier worthy of the two? 
" Past all dispute, yon anchorite," say you. 
Your sentence and mine differ. What's a name? 
I say the Bramin has the fairer claim. 
If sufferings Scripture nowhere recommends, 
Devised by self to answer selfish ends, 1 10 

dive saintship, then all Europe must agree, 
Ten starveling hermits suffer less than he. 

The truth is (if the truth may suit your ear, 
And prejudice have left a passage clear) 
Pride has attained its most luxuriant growth, 
And poisoneii every virtue in them both. 
Pride may be pampered while the flesh grows lean, 
Humility may clothe an English dean; 
That grace was Cowper's — his confessed by all — 
Though placed in golden Durham's second stall. 120 

Xot all the plenty of a bishop's board, 
His palace, and his lacqueys, and " my lord," 
.More nourish pride, that condescending vice, 
Than abstinence, and beggary, and lice: 
It thrives in misery, and abundant grows: 
In misery fools upon themselves impose. 

But why before us Protestants produce 
An Indian mystic or a French recluse? 
Their sin is plain; but what have we to fear, 
Reformed and well instructed? You shall hear. 130 

Yon ancient prude, whose withered features show- 
She might be young some forty years ago, 
Her elbows pinioned close upon her hips, 
Her head erect, her fnn upon her lips, 



TRUTH. 79 

Her eyebrows arched, her eyes both gone astray 

To watch yon amorous couple in their play, 

With bony and unkerchiefed neck defies 

The rude inclemency of wintry skies, 

And sails with lappet-head and mincing airs, 

Duly at clink of bell, to morning prayers. 140 

To thrift and parsimony much inclined", 

She yet allows herself that boy behind ; 

The 'shivering urchin, bending as he goes, 

With slipshod heels, and dew-drop at his nose, 

His predecessor's coat advanced to wear, 

Which future pages are yet doomed to share, 

Carries her Bible tucked beneath his arm, 

And hides his hands to keep his fingers warm. 

She, half an angel in her own account, 
Doubts not hereafter with the saints to mount, 150 

Though not a grace appears on strictest search, 
But that she fasts, and, item, goes to church. 
Conscious of age, she recollects her youth, 
And tells, not always with an eye to tmth, 
Who spanned her waist, and who, where'er he came, 
Scrawled upon glass Miss Bridget's lovely name, 
Who stole her slipper, filled it with Tokay, 
And drank the little bumper every day. 
Of temper as envenomed as an asp, 

Censorious, and her even" word a wasp ; 160 

In faithful memory she records the crimes, 
Or real or fictitious, of the times ; 
Laughs at the reputations she has torn, 
And holds them dangling at arm's length in scorn. 

Such are the fruits of sanctimonious pride, 
Of malice fed while flesh is mortified : 
Take, madam, the reward of all your prayers. 
Where hermits and where Bramins meet with theirs ! 
Your portion is with them, —nay, never frown, 
But, if you please, some fathoms lower down. 170 

Artist, attend !— your brushes and your paint — 
Produce them — take a chair, — now draw a Saint. 
Oh sorrowful and sad ! the streaming tears 
Channel her cheeks, — a Niobe appears. 
Is this a saint? Throw tints and all away ! 
True piety is cheerful as the day, 
Will weep indeed, and heave a pitying groan 
For others' woes, but smiles upon her own. 

What purpose has the King of Saints in view? 
Why falls the Gospel like a gracious dew? 1S0 

To call up plenty from the teeming earth. 
Or curse the desert with a tenfold dearth? 
Is it that Adam's offspring may be saved 
From servile fear, or be the more enslaved ? 
To loose the links that galled mankind before, 
Or bind them faster on, and add still more? 



So TRUTH. 

The freeborn Christian has no chains to prove, 

Or, if a chain, the golden one of love : 

No fear attends to quench his glowing fires, 

What fear he feels his gratitude inspires. 190 

Shall he, for such deliverance freely wrought, 

Recompense ill? He trembles at the thought. 

His Master's interest and his own combined 

Prompt every movement of his heart and mind; 

Thought, word, and deed, his liberty evince, 

His freedom is the freedom of a prince. 

Man's obligations infinite, of course 
His life should prove that he perceives their force; 
His utmost he can render is but small — 

The principle and motive all in all. 2O0 

You have two servants— Tom, an arch sly rogue, 
From top to toe the Geta now in vogue; 
Genteel in figure, easy in address, 
Moves without noise, and swift as an express, 
Reports a message with a pleasing grace, 
Kxpert in all the duties of his place: 
Say, on what hinge does his obedience move? 
Has he a world of gratitude and love? 
No, not a spark — 'tis all mere sharper's play ; 
He likes your house, your housemaid, and your pay ; 210 
Reduce his wages, or get rid of her, 
Tom quits you, with " Your most obedient, sir." 

The dinner served, Charles takes his usual stand, 
Watches your eye, anticipates command ; 
Sighs if perhaps your appetite should fail ; 
And if he but suspects a frown, turns pale ; 
Consults all day your interest and your ease, 
Richly rewarded if he can but please; 
And proud to make his firm attachment known, 
To save your life would nobly risk his own. 220 

Now, which stands highest in your serious thought? 
" Charles, without doubt," say you, — and so he ought; 
One act, that from a thankful heart proceeds, 
Excels ten thousand mercenary deeds. 
Thus Heaven approves as honest and sincere, 
The work of generous love and filial fear ; 
But with averted eyes the omniscient Judge 
Scorns the base hireling and the slavish drudge. 

" Where dwell these matchless saints ? " old Curio cries 
Even at your side, sir, and before your eyes, £30 

The favoured few, the enthusiasts you despise. 
And pleased at heart because on holy ground 
Sometimes a canting hypocrite is found, 
Reproach a people with his single fall, 
And cast his filthy raiment at them all. 
Attend ! — an apt similitude shall show 
Whence springs the conduct that offends you so. 

See where it smokes along the sounding plain, 



TRUTH. 8t 



Blown all aslant, a driving, dashing rain, 
Peal upon peal redoubling all around, 240 

Shakes it again, and faster, to the ground ; 
Now flashing wide, now glancing as in play, 
Swift beyond thought the lightnings dart away. 
Ere yet it came, the traveller urged his steed, 
And hurried, but with unsuccessful speed; 
Now drenched throughout, and hopeless of his case, 
He drops the rein, and leaves him to his pace. 
Suppose, unlooked for in a scene so rude, 
Long hid by interposing hill or wood, 

Some mansion neat and elegantly dressed, 25c 

By some kind hospitable heart possessed, 
I Iffer lam warmth, security, and rest; 
Think with what pleasure, safe and at his ease, 
He hears the tempest howling in the trees; 
What glowing thanks his lips and heart employ, 
While danger past is turned to present joy. 
So fares it with the sinner, when he feels 
A growing dread of vengeance at his heels : 
His conscience, like a glassy lake before, 

Lashed into foaming waves begins to roar ; 260 

The law grown clamorous, though silent long, 
Arraigns him — charges him with every wrong — 
Asserts the rights of his offended Lord, 
And death or restitution is the word : 
The last impossible, he fears the first, 
And, having well deserved, expects the worst. 
Then welcome refuge, and a peaceful home ; 
Oh for a shelter from the wrath to come ! 
Crush me, ye rocks ; ye falling mountains, hide, 
Or bury me in ocean's angry tide — 270 

The scrutiny of those all-seeing eyes 
I dare not — "And you need not," God replies; 
" The remedy you want I freely give : 
The book shall teach you ; read, believe, and live ! " 
'Tis done — the raging storm is heard no more, 
Mercy receives him on her peaceful shore : 
And Justice, guardian of the dread command, 
Drops the red vengeance from his willing hand. 
A soul redeemed demands a life of praise ; 
Hence the complexion of his future days, 280 

Hence a demeanour holy and unspecked, 
And the world's hatred, as its sure effect. 
Some lead a life unblameable and just, 
Their own dear virtue their unshaken trust : 
They never sin — or if (as all offend) 
Some trivial slips their daily walk attend, 
The poor are near at hand, the charge is small, 
A slight gratuity atones for all. 
For though the Pope has lost his interest here, 
And pardons are not sold as once they were, 290 



82 TRUTH. 

No papist more desirous to compound 

Than some grave sinners upon English ground. 

That plea refuted, other quirks they seek — 

Mercy is infinite, and man is weak ; 

The future shall obliterate the past, 

And Heaven no doubt shall be their home at last. 

Come then — a still small whisper in your ear — 
He has no hope who never had a fear ; 
And he that never doubted of his state, 
He may perhaps — perhaps he may — too late. 300 

The path to bliss abounds with many a snare ; 
Learning is one, and wit, however rare. 
The Frenchman first in literary fame, 
(" Mention him, if you please — Voltaire?" — The same,) 
With spirit, genius, eloquence supplied, 
Lived long, wrote much, laughed heartily, and died : 
The Scripture was his jestd^ook, whence he drew 
Bon mots to gall the Christian and the Jew ; 
An infidel in health, but what when sick ? 
Oh— then a text would touch him at the quick : 310 

View him at Paris in his last career ; 
Surrounding throngs the demigod revere, 
Exalted on his pedestal of pride, 
And fumed with frankincense on every side, 
He begs their flattery with his latest breath, 
And smothered in't at last, is praised to death. 

Yon cottager, who weaves at her own door, 
Pillow and bobbins all her little store ; 
Content though mean, and cheerful if not gay, 
Shuffling her threads about the live-long day, 320 

Just earns a scanty pittance, and at night 

I i :s down secure, her heart and pocket light. 
She, for her humble sphere by nature fit, 
Has little understanding, and no wit. 
Receives no praise ; but though her lot be such 
(Toilsome and indigent), she renders much ; 
Just knows, and knows no more, hsr Bible true — 
A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew ; 
And in that charter rends with sparkling eyes 

Her title to a treasure in the skies. 330 

O happy peasant 1 O unhappy bard ! 

I I i s the mere tinsel, hers the rich reward ; 
He praised perhaps for ages yet to come, 
She never heard of half a mile from home : 
II lost in errors his vain heart prefers, 
She safe in the simplicity of her-. 

Not many wise, rich, noble, or profound 
In science, win one inch of heavenly ground. 
And is it not a mortifying thought 

lli' poor should gain it, and the rich should not? 340 

No ; the voluptuaries, who ne'er forget 
One pleasure lost, lo Heaven without regret j 



TRUTH. 



Regret would rouse them, and give birth to prayer, 
Prayer would add faith, and faith would fix them there. 

Not that the Former of us all in this, 
( )r aught He does, is governed by caprice; 
The supposition is replete with sin, 
And bears the brand of blasphemy burnt in. 
Not so — the silver trumpet's heavenly call 
Sounds for the poor, but sounds alike for all : 350 

Kings are invited, and would kings obey, 
No slaves on earth more welcome were than they : 
But royalty, nobility, and state 
Are such a dead preponderating weight, 
That endless bliss (how strange soe'er it seem), 
In counterpoise, flies up and kicks the beam. 
'Tis open, and ye cannot enter — why ? 
" Because ye will not," Conyers would reply — 
And he says much that many may dispute 
And cavil at with ease, but none refute. 360 

Oh blessed effect of penury and want, 
The seed sown there, how vigorous is the plant ! 
No soil like poverty for growth divine, 
As leanest land supplies the richest wine. 
Earth gives too little, giving only bread, 
To nourish pride or turn the weakest head : 
To them the sounding jargon of the schools 
Seems what it is, a cap-and-bells for fools : 
The light they walk by, kindled from above, 
Shows them the shortest way to life and love : 370 

They, strangers to the controversial field, 
Where deists always foiled, yet scorn to yield, 
And never checked by what impedes the wise, 
Believe, rush forward, and possess the prize. 

Envy, ye great, the dull unlettered small : 
Ye have much cause for envy — but not all. 
We boast some rich ones whom the Gospel sways, 
And one who wears a coronet and prays ; 
Like gleanings of an olive-tree they show, 
Here and there one upon the topmost bough. 380 

How readily upon the Gospel plan 
That question has its answer — What is man ? 
Sinful and weak, in every sense a wretch ; 
An instrument whose chords, upon the stretch, 
And strained to the last screw that he can bear, 
Yield only discord in his Maker's ear : 
Once the blessed residence of truth divine, 
Glorious as Solyma's interior shrine, 
Where, in his own oracular abode, 

Dwelt visibly the light-creating God ; 390 

But made long since, like Babylon of old, 
A den of mischiefs never to be told : 
And she, once mistress of the realms around, 
Now scattered wide and nowhere to be found, 



©4 TRUTH. 

As soon shall rise and re-ascend the throne, 

By native power and energy her own, 

As Nature, at her own peculiar cost, 

Restore to man the glories he has lost. 

Go — bid the winter cease to chill the year, 

Replace the wandering comet in his sphere, 400 

Then boast (but wait for that unhoped-for hour) 

The self-restoring arm of human power. 

But what is man in his own proud esteem ? 

Hear him — himself the poet and the theme : 

A monarch clothed with majesty and awe, 

His mind his kingdom, and his will his law, 

Grace in his mien and glory in his eyes, 

Supreme on earth, and worthy of the skies, 

Strength in his heart, dominion in his nod, 

And, thunderbolts excepted, quite a god! 410 

So sings he, charmed with his own mind and form, 
The song magnificent — the theme a worm ! 
Himself so much the source of his delight, 
His Maker has no beauty in his sight. 
See where he sits contemplative and fixed, 
Pleasure and wonder in his features mixed, 
His passions tamed and all at his control, 
How perfect the composure of his soul ! 
Complacency has breathed a gentle gale 

O'er all his thoughts, and swelled his easy sail : 420 

His books well trimmed, and in the gayest style, 
Like regimented coxcombs rank and file, 
Adorn his intellects as well as shelves, 
And teach him notions splendid as. themselves : 
The Bible only stands neglected there, 
Though that of all most worthy of his care ; 
And, like an infant troublesome awake, 
Is left to sleep for peace and quiet sake. 

What shall the man deserve of humankind, 
Whose happy skill and industry combined 430 

Shall prove (what argument could never yet) 
The Bible an imposture and a cheat? 
The praises of the libertine professed, 
The worst of men, and curses of the best. 

should the living, weeping o'er his woes, — 
The dying, trembling at the awful close, — 
Where the betrayed, forsaken, and oppressed, 
The thousands whom the world forbids to rest, — 
Where should they find (those comforts at an end 
The Scripture yields), or hope to find, a friend? _ 440 

Sorrow might muse herself to madness then, 
And, seeking exile from the sight of men, 
Bury herself in solitude profound. 
Grow frantic with her pangs, and lute the ground. 
Thus often Unbelief, grown sick of life, 
Flies to the tempting pool, or felon knife. 



TRUTH. 85 

The jury meet, the coroner is short, 

And lunacy the verdict of the court : 

Reverse the sentence, let the truth be known, 

Such lunacy is ignorance alone ; 450 

They knew not, what some bishops may not know, 

That Scripture is the only cure of woe ; 

That field of promise, how it flings abroad 

Its odour o'er the Christian's thorny road ! 

The soul, reposing on assured relief, 

Feels herself happy amidst all her grief, 

Forgets her labour as she toils along, 

Weeps tears of joy, and bursts into a song. 

But the same word, that, like the polished share, 
Ploughs up the roots of a believer's care, 460 

Kills too the flowery weeds, where'er they grow, 
That bind the sinner's bacchanalian brow. 
Oh that unwelcome voice of heavenly love, 
Sad messenger of mercy from above ! 
How does it grate upon his thankless ear, 
Crippling his pleasures with the cramp of fear ! 
His will and judgment at continual strife, 
That civil war embitters all his life : 
In vain he points his powers against the skies, 
In vain he closes or averts his eyes, 470 

Truth will intrude — she bids him yet beware ; 
And shakes the sceptic in the scorner's chair. 

Though various foes against the Truth combine, 
Pride above all opposes her design ; 
Pride, of a growth superior to the rest, 
The subtlest serpent with the loftiest crest, 
Swells at the thought, and, kindling into rage, 
Would hiss the cherub Mercy from the stage. 

" And is the soul indeed so lost! " — she cries, 
"Fallen from her glory and too weak to rise ! 480 

Torpid and dull beneath a frozen zone, 
Has she no spark that may be deemed her own ? 
Grant her indebted to what zealots call 
Grace undeserved, yet surely not for all- 
Some beams of rectitude she yet displays, 
Some love of virtue, and some power to praise ; 
Can lift herself above corporeal things, 
And, soaring on her own unborrowed wings, 
Possess herself of all that's good or true, 
Assert the skies, and vindicate her due. 490 

Past indiscretion is a venial crime, 
And if the youth, unmellowed yet by time, 
Bore on his branch luxuriant then and rude 
Fruits of a blfghted size, austere and crude, 
Maturer years shall happier stores produce, 
And meliorate the well-concocte'd juice. 
Then, conscious of her meritorious zeal, 
To Justice she may make her bold appeal, 



86 TRUTH. 

And leave to Mercy, with a tranquil mind, 

The worthless and unfruitful of mankind." 5°° 

Hear then how Mercy, slighted and defied, 

Retorts the affront against the crown of Pride. 

" Perish the virtue, as it ought, abhorred, 
And the fool with it, that insults his Lord. 
The atonement a Redeemer's love has wrought, 
Is not for you, — the righteous need it not. 
Seest thou yon harlot wooing all she meets, 
The worn-out nuisance of the public streets, 
Herself from morn to night, from night to morn, 
Her own abhorrence, and as much your scorn : 510 

The gracious shower, unlimited and free, 
Shall fall on her, when Heaven denies it thee. 
Of all that wisdom dictates this the drift, 
That man is dead in sin, and life a gift." 

" Is virtue then, unless of Christian growth, 
Mere fallacy, or foolishness, or both? 
Ten thousand sages lost in endless woe, 
For ignorance of what they could not know?" 
That speech betrays at once a bigot's tongue, 
Charge not a God with such outrageous wrong ! 520 

Truly not I — The partial light men have, 
My creed persuades me, well employed, may save ; 
While he that scorns the noonday beam, perverse, 
Shall find the blessing unimproved a curse. 
Let heathen worthies, whose exalted mind 
Left sensuality and dross behind, 
Possess for me their undisputed lot, 
And take unenvied the reward they sought, 
But still in virtue of a Saviour's plea ; 

Not blind by choice, but destined not to see. 530 

Their fortitude and wisdom were a flame 
Celestial, though they knew not whence it came, 
Derived from the same source of light and grace 
That guides the Christian in his swifter race : 
Their judge was Conscience, and her rule their law, 
That rule, pursued with reverence and with awe, 
Led them, however faltering, faint, and slow, 
From what they knew, to what they wished to know. 
But let not him that shares a brighter day 
Traduce the splendour of a noontide ray, 540 

Prefer the twilight of a darker time, 
And deem his l>a>e stupidity no crime; 
The wretch who slights the bounty of the skies, 
And sinks while favoured with die means to rise, 
Shall find them rated at their full amount. 
The good In- scorned all carried to account. 

hailing all his terrors as he came, 
Thunder and earthquake, and devouring flame, 
From Sinai's top Jehovah gave the law, 
Life lo; oh • Hence, death for every flaw. 550 



EXPOSTULATION. 



When the great Sovereign would 1 1 i — will express, 

He gives a perfect rule; what can He less? 

And guards it with a sanction as severe 

As vengeance can inflict, or sinners fear : 

Else his own glorious rights he would disclaim, 

And man might safely trifle with his name. 

He bids him glow with unremitting love 

To all on earth, and to Himself above ; 

Condemns the injurious deed, the slanderous tongue, 

The thought that meditates a brother's wrong : 560 

Brings not alone the more conspicuous part, 

His conduct, to the test, but tries his heart. 

Hark ! universal Nature shook and groaned, 
Twas the last trumpet — see the Judge enthroned : 
Rouse all your courage at your utmost need, 
Now summon every virtue, stand and plead. 
What ! silent? Is your boasting heard no more? 
That seit-renouncing wisdom, learned before, 
Had shed immortal glories on your brow, 
That all your virtues cannot purchase now. 570 

All joy to the believer ! he can speak — 
Trembling yet happy, confident yet meek. — 
"Since the dear hour that brought me to thy foot, 
And cut up all my follies by the root, 
I never trusted in an arm but thine, 
Nor hoped, but in thy righteousness divine : 
My prayers and alms, imperfect and defiled, 
Were but the feeble efforts of a child ; 
Howe'er performed, it was their brightest part, 
That they proceeded from a grateful heart : 580 

Cleansed in thine own all-purifying blood, 
Forgive their evil, and accept their good ; 
I cast them at thy feet — my only plea 
Is what it was, dependence upon Thee. 
While struggling in the vale of tears below, 
That never failed, nor shall it fail me now." 

Angelic gratulations rend the skies, 
Pride falls unpitied, never more to rise, 
Humility is crowned, and Faith receives the prize. 



EXPOSTULATION. 

Tantane, tara patiens, nullo certamine tolli 
Dona sines? — Virgil. 

Why weeps the Muse for England? What appears 
In England's case to move the Muse to tears? 
From side to side of her delightful isle 
Is she not clothed with a perpetual smile ? 
Can Nature add a charm, or art confer 
A new-found luxury not seen in her ? 



8S expostulation: 

Where under heaven is pleasure more pursued, 

Or where does cold reflection less intrude ? 

Her fields a rich expanse of wavy corn, 

Poured out from Plenty's overflowing horn ; 10 

Ambrosial gardens, in which Art supplies 

The fervour and the force of Indian skies ; 

Her peaceful shores, where busy Commerce waits 

To pour his golden tide through all her gates ; 

Whom fiery suns, that scorch the russet spice 

Of Eastern groves, and oceans floored with ice, 

Forbid in vain to push his daring way 

To darker climes, or clim&s of brighter day ; 

Whom the winds waft where'er the billows roll, 

From the world's girdle to the frozen pole ; 20 

The chariots bounding in her wheel-worn streets, 

Her vaults below, where every vintage meets ; 

Her theatres, her revels, and her sports ; 

The scenes to which not youth alone resorts, 

But age, in spite of weakness and of pain, 

Still haunts, in hope to dream of youth again ; 

All speak her happy : let the Muse look round 

From East to West, no sorrow can be found ; 

Or only what, in cottages confined, 

Sighs unregarded to the passing wind. 50 

Then wherefore weep for England ? What appears 

In England's case to move the Muse to tears ? 

The prophet wept for Israel ; wished his eyes 
Were fountains fed with infinite supplies : 
For Israel dealt in robbery and wrong; 
There were the scorner's and the slanderer's tongue, 
Oaths, used as playthings or convenient tools, 
As interest biassed knaves, or fashion fools; 
Adultery neighing at his neighbour's door ; 
Oppression labouring hard to grind the poor, 40 

The partial balance, and deceitful weight : 
The treacherous smile, a mask for secret Late, 
Hypocrisy, formality in prayer, 
And the dull service of the lip, were there. 
Her women insolent and self-caressed, 
By Vanity's unwearied finger dressed, 
Forgot the blush, that virgin fears impart 
To modest checks, and borrowed one from art ; 
Were just such trifles without worth or use, 
As silly pride and idleness produce ; 50 

Curled, scented, furbelowed and flounced around, 
With feet too delicate to touch the ground, 
They stretched the neck, and rolled the wanton eye, 
And sighed for every fool that fluttered by. 

He saw his people slaves to every lust, 
Lewd, avaricious, arrogant, unjust ; 
lie heard the wheels of an avenging God 
Groan heavily along the distant road ; 



EXPOSTULATION. 



Saw Babylon set wide her two-leaved brass 

To let the military deluge pass ; 60 

Jerusalem a prey, her glory soiled, 

Her princes captive, and her treasures spoiled ; 

Wept till all Israel heard his bitter cry, 

Stamped with his foot, and smote upon his thigh : 

But wept, and stamped, and smote his thigh in vain. 

Pleasure is deaf when told of future pain, 

And sounds prophetic are too rough to suit 

Ears long accustomed to the pleasing lute : 

They scorned his inspiration and his theme, 

Pronounced him frantic, and his fears a dream : 70 

With self-indulgence winged the fleeting hours. 

Till the foe found them, and clown fell the towers. 

Long time Assyria bound them in her chain, 
Till penitence had purged the public stain, 
And Cyrus, with relenting pity moved, 
Returned them happy to the land they loved ; 
There, proof against prosperity, awhile 
They stood the test of her ensnaring smile, 
And had the grace in scenes of peace to show 
The virtue they had learned in scenes of woe. 80 

liut man is frail, and can but ill sustain 
A long immunity from grief and pain, 
And after all the joys that plenty leads 
With tiptoe step vice silently succeeds. 

When he that ruled them with a shepherd's rod, 
In form a man, in dignity a God, 
Came, not expected in that humble guise, 
To sift, and search them with unerring eves, 
He found, concealed beneath a fair outside, 
The filth of rottenness and worm of pride ; 90 

Their piety a system of deceit, 
Scripture employed to sanctify the cheat ; 
The pharisee the dupe of his own art, 
Self-idolized, and yet a knave at heart. 

When nations are to perish in their sins, 
Tis in the church the leprosy begins ; 
The priest, whose office is with zeal sincere 
To watch the fountain, and preserve it clear, 
Carelessly nods and sleeps upon the brink. 
While others poison what the flock must drink ; loo 

Or, waking at the call of lust alone, 
Infuses lies and errors of his own ; 
His unsuspecting sheep believe it pure, 
And, tainted by the very means of cure, 
Catch from each other a contagious spot. 
The foul forerunner of a general rot. 
Then Truth is hushed, that Heresy may preach ; 
And all is trash that Reason cannot reach : 
Then God's own image on the soul impressed 
Becomes a mockery and a standing jest ; 1 10 



90 EXPOSTULA TIOX. 

And faith, the root whence only can arise 

The graces of a life that wins the skies, 

Loses at once all value and esteem, 

Pronounced by greybeards a pernicious dream : 

Then ceremony leads her bigots forth, 

Prepared to fight for shadows of no worth ; 

While truths, on which eternal things depend, 

Find not, or hardly find, a single friend : 

As soldiers watch the signal of command, 

They learn to bow, to kneel, to sit, to stand ; 1 20 

Happy to fill religion's vacant place 

With hollow form, and gesture, and grimace. 

Such, when the Teacher of his church was there, 
People and priest, the sons of Israel were ; 
Stiff in the letter, lax in the design 
And import of their oracles divine ; 
Their learning legendary, false, absurd, 
And yet exalted above God's own word ; 
They drew a curse from an intended good, 
Puffed up with gifts they never understood. 130 

He judged them with as terrible a frown, 
As if not love, but wrath, had brought him down : 
Yet he was gentle as soft summer airs, 
Had grace for others' sins, but none for theirs ; 
Through all he spoke a noble plainness ran — 
Rhetoric is artifice, the work of man ; 
And tricks and turns, that fancy may devise, 
Are far too mean for Him that rules the skies. 
The astonished vulgar trembled while he tore 
The mask from faces never seen before'; 140 

He stripped the impostors in the noonday sun, 
Showed that they followed all they seemed to shun ; 
Their prayers made public, their excesses kept 
As private as the chambers where they slept ; 
The temple and its holy rites profaned 
By mummeries he that dwelt in it disdained ; 
Uplifted hands, that at convenient times 
Could act extortion and the worst of crimes, 
Washed with a neatness scrupulously nice, 
And free from, every taint but that of vice. 150 

Judgment, however tardy, mends her pace 
\\ hen Obstinacy once has conquered Grace. 
They saw distemper healed, and life restored, 
In answer to the fiat of his word ; 
Confessed the wonder, and with daring tongue 
Blasphemed the authority from which it sprung. 
They knew, by sure prognostics seen on hi^li, 
The future tone and temper of the sky, 
Put, grave dissemblers ! could not understand 
That sin let loose speaks punishment at hand. 160 

Ask now iff history's authentic page, 
And call up evidence from every age ; 



EXPOSTULA TION. 91 



Display with busy and laborious hand 

The blessings of the most indebted land ; 

What nation will you find, whose annals prove 

So rich an interest in Almighty love? 

Where dwell they now ? Where dwelt in ancient day 

A people planted, watered, blest as they? 

Let Egypt's plagues and Canaan's woes proclaim 

The favours poured upon the Jewish name ; 1 70 

Their freedom purchased for them at the cost 

Of all their hard oppressors valued most ; 

Their title to a country not their own 

Made sure by prodigies till then unknown ; 

For them the state they left made waste and void ; 

For them the states to which they went destroyed ; 

A cloud to measure out their march by day, 

By night a fire to cheer the gloomy way ; 

That moving signal summoning, when best, 

Their host to move, and when it stayed, to rest. 1S0 

For them the rocks dissolved into a flood, 

The dews condensed into angelic food, 

Their very garments sacred, old yet new, 

And Time forbid to touch them as he flew ; 

Streams, swelled above the bank, enjoined to stand, 

While they passed through to their appointed land ; 

Their leader armed with meekness, zeal, and love, 

And graced with clear credentials from above ; 

Themselves secured beneath the Almighty wing; 

Their God their captain, lawgiver, and king; 190 

Crowned with a thousand victories, and at last 

Lords of the conquered soil, there rooted fast, 

In peace possessing what they Won l>v war, 

Their name far published, and revered as far ; 

Where will you find a race like theirs, endowed 

With all that man e'er wished, or heaven bestowed ? 

They, and they only, amongst all mankind 
Received the transcript of the eternal mind ; 
Were trusted with his own engraven laws, 
And constituted guardians of his cause ; 200 

Theirs were the prophets, theirs the priestly call, 
And theirs by birth the Saviour of us all. 
In vain the nations, that had seen them rise 
With fierce and envious y*et admiring eyes, 
Had sought to crush them, guarded as they were 
By power divine, and skill that could not err. 
Had they maintained allegiance firm and sure, 
And kept the faith immaculate and pure, 
Then the proud eagles of all-conquering Rome 
Had found one city not to be o'ercome ; 210 

And the twelve standards of the tribes unfurled 
Had bid defiance to the warring world. 
But grace abused brings forth the foulest deeds, 
As richest soil the most luxuriant weeds. 



92 EXPOSTULA TION. 



Cured of the golden calves, their fathers' sin, 

They set up self, that idol-god within ; 

Viewed a Deliverer with disdain and hate 

"Who left them still a tributary state ; 

Seized fast his hand, held out to set them free 

From a worse yoke, and nailed it to the tree : 220 

There was the consummation and the crown, 

The flower of Israel's infamy full blown ; 

Thence date their sad declension and their fall, 

Their woes not yet repealed ; thence date them all. 

Thus fell the best instructed in her day, 
And the most favoured land, look where we may. 
Philosophy indeed on Grecian eyes 
Had poured the day, and cleared the Roman skies ; 
In other climes perhaps creative art, 

With power surpassing theirs, performed her part, 230 

Might give more life to marble, or might fill 
The glowing tablets with a juster skill, 
Might shine in fable, and grace idle themes 
With all the embroidery of poetic dreams ; 
'Twas theirs alone to dive into the plan 
That truth and mercy had revealed to man ; 
And while the world beside, that plan unknown, 
Deified useless wood, or senseless stone, 
They breathed in faith their well-directed prayers, 
And the true God, the God of truth, was theirs. 240 

Their glory faded, and their race dispersed, 
The last of rations now, though once the first ; 
They warn and teach the proudest, would they learn, 
" Keep wisdom, or meet vengeance in your turn : 
If we escaped not, if heaven spared not us, 
Peeled, scattered, and exterminated thus ; 
If vice received her retribution due, 
"When we were visited, what hope for you ? 
When God arises with an awful frown 

To punish lust, or pluck presumption down ; 250 

\\ 'hen gifts perverted, or not duly prized. 
Pleasure o'ervalued, and his grace despised, 
Provoke the vengeance of his righteous hand 
To pour down wrath upon a thankless land ; 
He will be found impartially severe, 
Too just to wink, or speak the guilty clear." 

O Israel, of all nations most undone ! 
Thy diadem displaced, thy sceptre gone ; 
Thy temple, once thy glory, fallen and rased, 
And thou a worshipper e'en where thou mayst ; 260 

Thy services, once holy without spot, 
Mere shadows now, their ancient pomp forgot ; 
Thy Levites, once a consecrated host, 
No longer Levites, and their lineage lost ; 
And thou thyself o'er every country sown, 
With none on earth that thou canst call thine own ; 



EXPOSTULA TION. 93 



Cry aloud, thou that fittest in the dust. 

Cry to the proud, the cruel, and unjust ; 

Knock at the gates of nations, rouse their fears ; 

Say wrath is coming, and the storm appears; 270 

Hut raise the shrillest cry in British ears. 

What ails thee, restless as the waves that roar 
And fling their foam against thy chalky shore? 
Mistress, at least while Providence shall please, 
And trident-bearing queen of the wide seas — 
Why, having kept good faith, and often shown 
P'riendship and truth to others, findest thou none? 
Thou that hast set the persecuted free, 
None interposes now to succour thee ; 

Countries indebted to thy power, that shine 2S0 

With light derived from thee, would smother tin 1 : 
Thy very children watch for thy disgrace — 
A lawless brood, — and curse thee to thy ft ce. 
Thy rulers load thy credit, year by year, 
With sums Peruvian mines could never clear ; 
As if, like arches built with skilful hand, 
The more 'twere pressed the firmer it would stand. 
The cry in all thy ships is still the same, 
" Speed us away to battle and to lame." 

Thy mariners explore the wild expanse, 290 

Impatient to descry the flags of France ; 
But, though they fight as thine have ever fought, 
Return ashamed without the wreaths they sought. 
Thy senate is a scene of civil jar, 
Chaos of contrarieties at war ; 
Where sharp and solid, phlegmatic and light, 
Discordant atoms meet, ferment, and fight ; 
Where Obstinacy takes his sturdy stand, 
To disconcert what Policy has planned ; 

Where Policy is busied all night long 300 

In setting right what Faction has set wrong ; 
Where flails of oratory thresh the floor, 
That yields them chaff and dust, and nothing more. 
Thy racked inhabitants repine, complain, 
Taxed till the brow of Labour sweats in vain ; 
War lays a burden on the reeling state, 
And Peace does nothing to relieve the weight ; 
Successive loads succeeding broils impose, 
And sighing millions prophesy the close. 

Is adverse Providence, when pondered well, 310 

So dimly writ, or difficult to spell, 
Thou canst not read with readiness and ease 
Providence adverse in events like these? 
Know, then, that heavenly wisdom on this ball 
Creates, gives birth to, guides, consummates all ; 
That, while laborious and quick-thoughted man 
Snuffs up the praise of what he seems to plan, 
He first conceives, then perfects his design, 



94 EXPOSTULA TION. 



As a mere instrument in hands divine : 

Blind to the working of that secret power, 320 

That balances the wings of every hour, 

The busy trifler dreams himself alone, 

Frames many a purpose, and God works his own. 

States thrive or wither as moons wax and wane, 

E'en as His will and His decrees ordain ; 

While honour, virtue, piety bear sway, 

They flourish ; and as these decline, decay : 

In just resentment of his injured laws, 

He pours contempt on them and on their cause ; 

Strikes the rough thread of error right athwart 330 

The web of every scheme they have at heart ; 

Bids rottenness invade and bring to dust 

The pillars of support in which they trust, 

And do his errand of disgrace and shame 

On the chief strength and glory of the frame. 

None ever yet impeded what He wrought, 

None bars Him out from his most secret thought : 

Darkness itself before His eye is light, 

And hell's close mischief naked in His sight. 

Stand now and judge thyself— -Hast thou incurred 340 

His anger, who can waste thee with a word, 
Who poises and proportions sea and land, 
Weighing them in the hollow of his hand, 
And in whose awful sight all nations seem 
As grasshoppers, as dust, a drop, a dream ? 
Hast thou (a sacrilege his soul abhors) 
Claimed all the glory of thy prosperous wars, 
Proud of thy fleets and armies, stolen the gem 
Of his just praise, to lavish it on them? 

Hast thou not learned, what thou art often told, 350 

A truth still sacred, and believed of old, 
That no success attends on spears and swords 
Unblessed, and that the battle is the Lord's? 
That Courage is his creature, and Dismay 
The post, that at his bidding speeds away, 
Ghastly in feature, and his stammering tongue 
With doleful rumour and sad presage hung, 
To quell the valour of the stoutest heart, 
And teach the combatant a woman's part? 
That he bids thousands fly when none pursue, 360 

Saxes as he will by many or by few, 
And claims for ever, as ins royal right, 
The event and sure decision of the fight? 

I last thou, though suckled at fair Freedom's breast, 
Exported slavery to the conquered East? 
Pulled down the tyrants India served with dread, 
And raised thyself, a greater, in their stead? 
Gone thither armed and hungry, returned full, 
Fed from the richest veins of the Mogul, 
A despot big witli power obtained by wealth, 370 



EXPOSTULATION. 95 

And that obtained by rapine and by stealth? 

With Asiatic vices stored thy mind, 

But left their virtues and thine own behind ; 

And, having trucked thy soul, brought home the fee, 

To tempt the poor to sell himself to thee ? 

Mast thou by statute shoved from its design 
The Saviour's feast, his own blest bread and wine, 
And made the symbols of atoning grace 
An office key, a picklock to a place, 

That infidels may prove their title good 380 

By an oath dipped in sacramental blood ? 
A blot that will be still a blot, in spite 
Of all that grave apologists may write ; 
And though a bishop toil to cleanse the stain, 
He wipes and scours the silver cup in vain. 
And hast thou sworn on every slight pretence, 
Till perjuries are common as bad pence, 
While thousands, careless of the damning sin, 
Kiss the book's outside, who ne'er look within ? 

Hast thou, when heaven has clothed thee with disgrace, 
And, long provoked, repaid thee to thy face, 39: 

(For thou hast known eclipses, and endured 
Dimness and anguish, all thy beams obscured, 
When sin has shed dishonour on thy brow; 
And never of a sabler hue than now ;) 
I last thou with heart perverse and conscience seared, 
Despising all rebuke, still persevered, 
And having chosen evil, scorned the voice 
That cried, " Repent ! " — and gloried in thy choice? 
Thy fastings, when calamity at last 400 

Suggests the expedient of a yearly fast, 
What mean they? Canst thou dream there is a power 
In lighter diet at a later hour, 
To charm to sleep the threatenings of the skies, 
And hide past folly from all-seeing eyes? 
The fast that wins deliverance, and suspends 
The stroke that a vindictive God intends, 
Is to renounce hypocrisy ; to draw 
Thy life upon the pattern of the law ; 

To war with pleasures idolized before; '410 

To vanquish lust, and wear its yoke no more. 
All fasting else, whate'er be the pretence, 
Is wooing mercy by renewed offence. 

Hast thou within thee sin, that in old time 
Brought fire from heaven, the sex-abusing crime, 
Whose horrid perpetration stamps disgrace 
Baboons are free from upon human race? 
Think on the fruitful and well-watered spot 
That fed the flocks and herds of wealthy Lot, 
Where Paradise seemed still vouchsafed on earth, 420 

Burning and scorched into perpetual dearth, 
Or, in his words who damned the base desire, 



96 "*" EXPOSTULA TION. 



Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire : 

Then Nature injured, scandalized, defiled, 

Unveiled her blushing cheek, looked on, and smiled ; 

Beheld with joy the lovely scene defaced, 

And praised the wrath that laid her beauties waste. 

Far be the thought from any verse of mine, 
And farther still the formed and fixed design, 
To thrust the charge of deeds that I detest 430 

Against an innocent, unconscious breast : 
The man that dares traduce, because he can 
With safety to himself, is not a man : 
An individual is a sacred mark, 
Not to be pierced in play or in the dark ; 
But public censure speaks a public foe, 
Unless a zeal for virtue guide the blow. 

The priestly brotherhood, devout, sincere, 
From mean self-interest and ambition clear, 
Their hope in heaven, servility their scorn, 440 

Prompt to persuade, expostulate, and warn, 
Their wisdom pure, and given them from above, 
Their usefulness ensured by zeal and love, 
As meek as the man Moses, and withal 
As bold as in Agrippa's presence Paul, 
Should fly the world's contaminating touch, 
Holy and unpolluted : — are thine such? 
Except a few with Eli's spirit blest, 
Hoptmi and Phineas may describe the rest. 

Where shall a teacher look, in days like these, 450 

For ears and hearts that he can hope to please ? 
Look to the poor — the simple and the plain 
Will hear perhaps thy salutary strain : 
Humility is gentle, apt to learn, 
Speak but the word, will listen and return. 
Alas, not so ! the poorest of the flock 
Are proud, and set their faces as a rock ; 
Denied that earthly opulence they choose, 
God's better gift they scoff at and refuse. 
The rich, the produce of a nobler stem, 460 

Are more intelligent at least, — try them. 

vain inquiry ! they without remorse 
Are altogether gone a devious course ; 

Where beckoning Pleasure leads them, wildly stray ; 

1 lave burst the bands, and cast the yoke away. 

Now borne upon the wings of truth sublime, 
Review thy dim original and prime. 
This island, spot of unreclaimed rude earth, 
The cradle that received thee at thy birth, 
Was rocked by many a rough Norwegian blast, 470 

And Danish howlings scared thee as they passed ; 
For thou wast born amid the din of arms, 
And sucked a breast that panted with alarms. 
While yet thou wast a grovelling puling chit, 



j:\postula tiox. 97 



Thy bones not fashioned, and thy joints not knit, 

The Roman taught thy stubborn knee to bow, 

Though twice a Ca-sar could not bend thee now : 

His victory was that of orient light, 

When the sun's shafts disperse the gloom of night : 

Thy language at this distant moment shows 480 

How much the country to the conqueror owes : 

Expressive, energetic, and refined. 

It sparkles with the gems he left behind : 

He brought thy land a blessing when he came, 

He found thee savage, and he left thee tame ; 

Taught thee to clothe thy pinked and painted hide, 

And grace thy figure with a soldier's pride ; 

He sowed the seeds of order where he went, 

Improved thee far beyond his own intent, 

And, while he ruled thee by the sword alone, 490 

Made thee at last a warrior like his own. 

Religion, if in heavenly truths attired, 

Needs only to be seen to be admired ; 

But thine, as dark as witcheries of the night, 

Was formed to harden hearts and shock the sight ; 

Thy Druids struck the well-strung harps they bore 

With fingers deeply dyed in human gore ; 

And, while the victim slowly bled to death, 

Upon the tolling chords rung out his dying breath. 

Who brought the lamp that with awaking beams 500 

Dispelled thy gloom, and broke away thy dreams, 
Tradition, now decrepit and worn out, 
Babbler of ancient fables, leaves a doubt : 
But still light reached thee ; and those gods of thine, 
Woden and Thor, each tottering in his shrine, 
Fell broken and defaced at his own door, 
As Dagon in Philistia long before. 
But Rome with sorceries and magic wand 
Soon raised a cloud that darkened every land ; 
And thine was smothered in the stench and fog 510 

Of Tiber's marshes and the papal bog. 
Then priests with bulls and briefs and shaven crowns, 
And griping fists, and unrelenting frowns, 
Legates and delegates with powers from hell, 
Though heavenly in pretension, fleeced thee well ; 
And to this hour, to keep it fresh in mind, 
Some twigs of that old scourge are left behind. 
Thy soldiery, the Pope's well-managed pack, 
Were trained beneath his lash, and knew the smack, 
And, when he laid them on the scent of blood, 520 

Would hunt a Saracen through fire and flood. 
Lavish of life to win an empty tomb, 
That proved a mint of wealth, a mine to Rome, 
They left their bones beneath unfriendly skies, 
His worthless absolution all the prize. 
Thou wast the veriest slave in days of yore 



EXPOSTULA TIOX. 



That ever dragged a chain or tugged an oar ; 

Thy monarchs arbitrary, fierce, unjust, 

Themselves the slaves of bigotry or lust, 

Disdained thy counsels, only in distress 53° 

Found thee a goodly sponge for Power to press. 

Thy chiefs, the lords of many a petty fee, 

Provoked and harassed, in return plagued thee ; 

Called thee away from peaceable employ, 

Domestic happiness and rural joy, 

To waste thy life in arms, or lay it down 

In causeless feuds and bickerings of their own. 

Thy parliaments adored on bended knees 

The sovereignty they were convened to please ; 

Whate'er was asked, too timid to resist, 54O 

Complied with, and were graciously dismissed ; 

And if some Spartan soul a doubt expressed, 

And, blushing at the tameness of the rest, 

Dared to suppose the subject had a choice, 

He was a traitor by the general voice. 

O slave ! with powers thou didst not dare exert, 

Verse cannot stoop so low as thy desert ; 

It shakes the sides of splenetic Disdain, 

Thou self-entitled ruler of the main, 

To trace thee to the date when yon fair sea, 550 

That clips thy shores, had no such charms for thee ; 

When other nations flew from coast to coast, 

And thou hadst neither fleet nor flag to boast. 

Kneel now, and lay thy forehead in the dust ; 
Blush if thou canst, — not petrified, thou must ; 
Act but an honest and a faithful part ; 
Compare what then thou wast with what thou art ; 
And God's disposing providence confessed, 
Obduracy itself must yield the rest. — 

Then art thou bound to serve him, and to prove, 560 

Hour after hour, thy gratitude and love. 

Has he not hid thee, and thy favoured land, 
For ages safe beneath his sheltering hand, 
Given thee his blessing on the clearest proof. 
Bid nations leagued against thee stand aloof, 
And charged hostility and hate to roar 
Where else they would, but not upon thy shore ? 
His power secured thee, when presumptuous Spain 
Baptized her fleet Invincible in vain ; 

Her gloomy monarch, doubtful and resigned 57° 

To every pang that racks an anxious mind, 
Asked of the waves that broke upon his coast, 
'' What tidings?" and the surge replied —"All lost." 
And when the Stuart leaning on the Scot, 
Then too much feared, and now too much forgot, 
Pierced to the very centre of the realm, 
And hoped to seize his abdicated helm, 
"fwas but to prove how quickly with a frown 



EXPOS TULA TION. 99 



He that bad raised thee could have plucked thee down. 

Peculiar is the grace by thee possessed, 580 

Thy foes implacable, thy land at rest ; 

Thy thunders travel over earth and seas, 

And all at home is pleasure, wealth, and ease. 

'Tis thus, extending his tempestuous arm, 

Thy Maker fills the nations with alarm, 

While his own heaven surveys the troubled scene, 

And feels no change, unshaken and serene. 

Freedom, in other lands scarce known to shine, 

Pours out a flood of splendour upon thine ; 

Thou hast as bright an interest in her rays, 590 

As ever Roman had in Rome's best days. 

True freedom is where no restraint is known 

That Scripture, justice, and good sense disown, 

Where only vice and injury are tied, 

And all from shore to shore is free beside. 

Such freedom is — and Windsor's hoary towers 

Stood trembling at the boldness of thy powers, 

That won a nymph on that immortal plain, 

Like her the fabled Phoebus wooed in vain : 

He found the laurel only — happier you, Coo 

The unfading laurel, and the virgin too ! 

Now think, if Pleasure have a thought to spare ; 
If God himself be not beneath her care ; 
If business, constant as the wheels of time, 
Can pause an hour to read a serious rhyme ; 
If the new mail thy merchants now receive, 
Or expectation of the next, give leave ; 
Oh think, if chargeable with deep arrears 
For such indulgence gilding all thy years, 
How much, though long neglected, shining yet, 610 

The beams of heavenly truth have swelled the debt. 
When persecuting zeal made royal sport 
With tortured innocence in Mary's court, 
And Bonner, blithe as shepherd at a wake, 
Enjoyed the show, and danced about the stake ; 
The Sacred Book, its value understood, 
Received the seal of martyrdom in blood. 
Those holy men, so full of truth and grace, 
Seem to reflection of a different race, 

Meek, modest, venerable, wise, sincere, 620 

In such a cause they could not dare to fear ; 
They could not purchase Earth with such a prize, 
Nor spare a life too short to reach the skies. 
From them to thee conveyed along the tide, 
Their streaming hearts poured freely, when they died, 
Those truths, which neither use nor years impair, 
Invite thee, woo thee, to the bliss they share. 
What dotage will not Vanity maintain ? 
What web too weak to catch a modern brain ? 
The moles and bats in full assembly find, 630 



EXPOSTULA 7I0N. 



On special search, the keen-eyed eagle blind. 
And did they dream, and art thou wiser now ? 
Prove it — if better, I submit and bow. 
Wisdom and Goodness are twin born, one heart 
Must hold both sisters, never seen apart. 

So then — as darkness overspread the deep, 
Ere Nature rose from her eternal sleep, 
And this delightful earth, and that fair sky, 
Leaped out of nothing, called by the Most High : 
By such a change thy darkness is made light, 640 

Thy chaos order, and thy weakness might ; 
And He, whose power mere nullity obeys, 
Who found thee nothing, formed thee for his praise. 
To praise him is to serve him, and fulfil, 
Doing and suffering, his unquestioned will ; 
' Tis to believe what men inspired of old, 
Faithful, and faithfully informed, unfold : 
Candid and just, with no false aim in view, 
To take for truth what cannot but be true ; 
To learn in God's own school the Christian part, 6^q 

And bind the task assigned thee to thine heart : 
Happy the man there seeking and there found, 
Happy the nation where such men abound .' 

How shall a verse impress thee? By what name 
Shall I adjure thee not to court thy shame ? 
By theirs, whose bright example unimpeached 
Directs thee to that eminence they reached, 
Heroes and worthies of days past, thy sire-.? 
Or His, who touched their heart with hallowed fires? 
Their names, alas ! in vain reproach an age 660 

Whom all the vanities they scorned engage ! 
And His, that seraphs trembled at, is hung 
1 >i -gracefully on every trifler's tongue, 
Or serves the champion in forensic war 
To flourish and parade with at the bar. 
Pleasure herself perhaps suggests a plea, 
If interest move thee, to persuade even thee ; 
By every charm, that smiles upon her face, 
By joys possessed, and joys still held in chase, 
If dear society be worth a thought, 670 

And if the fea.-,t of freedom cloy thee not, 
Reflect that these, and all that seems thine own, 
Held by the tenure of His will ah me, 
Like angels in the service of their Lord, 
Remain with thee, or leave thee at His • 
That gratitude and temperance in our use 
1 if what lie gives, unsparing and profuse, 
Secure the favour, and enhance the joy, 
That thankless waste and wild abuse destroy. 

Rut above all reflect,— how cheap soe'er ' 680 

'III"-'- rights that millions envy thee appear. 
And, though resolved to risk them, and swim down 



EXPOSTULATION. 



The tide of pleasure, heedless of His frown, — 

That blessings truly sacred, and, when given, 

Marked with the signature and .-.lamp of Heaven, 

The word of prophecy, those truths divine, 

Which make that heaven, if thou desire it, thine, 

("Awful alternative ! believed, beloved, 

Thy glory, — and thy shame if unimproved,) 

Are never long vouchsafed, if pushed aside 69,0 

With cold disgust or philosophic pride ; 

And that, judicially withdrawn, disgrace, 

Error, and darkness occupy their place. 

A world is up in arms, and thou, a spot 
Not quickly found, if negligently sought, 
Thy soul as ample as thy bounds are small, 
Endurest the brunt, and darest defy them all : 
And wilt thou join to this bold enterprise 
A bolder still, a contest with the skies? 

Remember, if He guard thee and secure, 700 

Whoe'er assails thee, thy success is sure ; 
But if He leave thee, though the skill and power 
Of nations sworn to spoil thee and devour 
Were all collected in thy single arm, 
And thou couldst laugh away the fear of harm, 
That strength would fail, opposed against the push 
And feeble onset of a pigmy rash. 
Say not (and if the thought of such defence 
Should spring within thy bosom, drive it thence.) 
" What nation amongst all my foes is free 710 

From crimes as base as any charged on me?" 
Their measure filled, they too shall pay the debt, 
Which God, though long forbom, will not forget. 
But know that Wrath divine, when most severe, 
Makes justice still the guide of his career, 
And will not punish, in one mingled crowd, 
Them without light, and thee without a cloud. 

Muse, hang this harp upon yon aged beech, 
Still murmuring with the solemn truths I teach; 
And while at intervals a cold blast sings 720 

Through the dry leaves, and pants upon the strings, 
My soul shall sigh in secret, and lament 
A nation scourge -1, yet tardy to repent. 
I know the warning song is sung in vain, 
That few will hear and fewer heed the strain ; 
But if a sweeter voice, and one designed 
A blessing to my country and mankind, 
Reclaim the wandering thousands, and bring home 
A flock so scattered and so wont to roam, 
Then place it once again between my knees ; 730 

The sound of truth will then be sure to please : 
And truth alone, where'er my life be cast, 
In scenes of plenty, or the pining waste, 
Shall be my chosen theme, my glory to the last. 



HOPE. 



doceas iter, et sacra ostia pandas. 

Vikg. sEn. 



Ask what is human life — the sage replies, 

With disappointment lowering in his eyes, 

A painful passage o'er a restless flood, 

A vain pursuit of fugitive false good, 

A scene of fancied biiss and heartfelt care, 

Closing at last in darkness and despair. 

The poor, inured to drudgery and distress, 

Act without aim, think little, and feel less, 

And nowhere, but in feigned Arcadian scenes, 

Taste happiness, or know what pleasure means. 10 

Riches are passed away from hand to hand, 

As fortune, vice, or folly may command ; 

As in a dance the pair that take the lead 

Turn downward, and the lowest pair succeed, 

So shifting and so various is the plan 

By which Heaven rules the mixt affairs of man ; 

Vicissitude wheels round the motley crowd, 

The rich grow poor, the poor become purse-proud ; 

Business is labour, and man's weakness such, 

Pleasure is labour too, and tires as much, 20 

The very sense of it foregoes its use, 

By repetition palled, by age obtuse. 

Youth lost in dissipation we deplore, 

Through life's sad remnant, what no sighs restore ; 

Our years, a fruitless race without a prize, 

Too many, yet too few to make us wise. 

Dangling his cane about, and taking snuff, 
Lothario cries, " What philosophic stuff — 
O querulous and weak ! — whose useless brain 
Once thought of nothing, and now thinks in vain : 30 

Whose eye reverted weeps o'er all the past, 
Whose prospect shows thee a disheartening waste ; 
Would age in thee resign his wintry reign, 
And youth, invigorate that frame again, 
Renewed desire would grace with other speech 
Joys always prized, when placed within our reach. 
For lift thy palsied head, shake off the gloom 
That overhangs the borders of thy tomb, 
See Nature gay a-; when she first began, 
With smiles alluring her admirer, man ; 40 

She spreads the morning over eastern hills, 
Earth glitters with the drops the night distils; 
Tin- sun obedient at her call appears, 
T o fling his glories o'er the robe she wears ; 



I TOPE. 103 

Banks clothed with flowers, groves filled with sprightly sounds, 

The yellow tilth, green meads, rocks, rising grounds, 

Streams edged with osiers, fattening every field 

Where'er they flow, now seen and now concealed ; 

From the blue rim, where skies and mountains meet, 

Down to the very turf beneath thy feet, 50 

Ten thousand charms, that only fools despise, 

Or pride can look at with indifferent eyes, 

All speak one language, all with one sweet voice 

Cry to her universal realm, Rejoice! 

Man feels the spur of passions and desires, 

And she gives largely more than he i-equires ; 

Not that, his hours devoted all to care, 

Hollow-eyed abstinence, and lean despair, 

The wretch may pine, while to his smell, taste, sight, 

She holds a paradise of rich delight ; 60 

But gently to rebuke his awkward fear, 

To prove that what she gives, she gives sincere, 

To banish hesitation, and proclaim 

His happiness her dear, her only aim. 

'Tis grave philosophy's absurdest dream, 

That heaven's intentions are not what they seem, 

That only shadows are dispensed below, 

And earth has no reality but woe. 

Thus things terrestrial wear a different hue, 
As youth or age persuades ; and neither true. 70 

So Flora's wreath through coloured crystal seen, 
The rose or lily appears blue or green, 
But still the imputed tints are those alone 
The medium represents, and not their own. 

To rise at noon, sit slipshod and undressed, 
To read the news, or fiddle, as seems best, 
Till half the world comes rattling at his door, 
To fill the dull vacuity till four ; 
And, just when evening turns the blue vault grey, 
To spend two hours in dressing for the day ; So 

To make the sun a bauble without use, 
Save for the fruits his heavenly beams produce ; 
Quite to forget, or deem it worth no thought 
Who bids him shine, or if he shine or not ; 
Through mere necessity to close his eyes 
Just when the larks and when the shepherds rise ; 
Is such a life, so tediously the same, 
So void of all utility or aim, 
That poor Jonquil, with almost every breath, 
Sighs for his exit, vulgarly called death ; 90 

For he, with all his follies, has a mind 
Not yet so blank, or fashionably blind, 
But now and then perhaps a feeble ray 
Of distant wisdom shoots across his way, 
By which he reads, that life without a plan, 
As useless as the moment it began, 



104 HOPE. 

Serves merely as a soil for discontent 
To thrive in ; an incumbrance ere half spent. 
Oh weariness beyond what asses feel, 
That tread the circuit of the cistern wheel ; 
A dull rotation, never at a stay, 
Yesterday's face twin image of to-day ; 
While conversation, an exhausted stock, 
Grows drowsy as the clicking of a clock. 
"iNo need," he cries, " of gravity stuffed out 
With academic dignity devout, 
To read wise lectures, vanity the text : 
Proclaim the remedy, ye learned, next ; 
For truth self-evident, with pomp impressed, 
Is vanity surpassing all the rest." 

That remedy, not hid in deeps profound, 
Yet seldom sought where only to be found, 
While Passion turns aside from its due scope 
The inquirer's aim, that remedy is Hope. 
Life is His gift, from whom whate'er life needs, 
And every good and perfect gift, proceeds ; 
Bestowed on man, like all that we partake, 
Royally, freely, for his bounty's sake ; 
Transient indeed, as is the fleeting hour, 
And yet the seed of an immortal flower ; 
Designed in honour of his endless love, 
To fill with fragrance his abode above ; 
No trifle, howsoever short it seem, 
And, howsoever shadowy, no dream ; 
Its value, what no thought can ascertain, 
Nor all an angel's eloquence explain. 

Men deal with life as children with their play, 
Who first misuse, then cast their toys away ; 
Live to no sober purpose, and contend 
That their Creator had no serious end. 
When God and man stand opposite in view, 
Man's disappointment must of course ensue. 
The just Creator condescends to write, 
In beams of inextinguishable light, 
His names of wisdom, goodness, power, and love, 
On all that blooms below, or shines above, 
To catch the wandering notice of mankind, 
And teach the world, if not perversely blind, 
His gracious attributes, and prove the share 
His offspring hold in his paternal care. 
If, led from earthly things to things divine, 
His creature thwart not his august design, 
Then praise is heard instead of reasoning pride, 
And captious cavil and complaint subside. 
Nature, employe. I in her allotted place, 
Is handmaid to the purposes of Grace \ 
By good VOUl b afed makes known superior good, 
Ami bliss not seen by blessings understood: 






hope. 

That bliss, revealed in Scripture, with a glow 

Bright as the covenant-ensuring bow, 150 

Fires all his feelings with a noble scorn 

t >f sensual evil ; and thus Hope is born. 

Hope sets the stamp of vanity on all 
That men have deemed substantial since the fall, 
Yet has the wondrous virtue to educe 
From emptiness itself a real use ; 
And while she takes, as at a father's hand, 
What health and sober appetite demand, 
From fading good derives, with chymic art, 
That lasting happiness, a thankful heart. 160 

Hope, with uplifted foot, set free from earth, 
Pants for the place of her ethereal birth, 
On steady wing sails through the immense abyss, 
Plucks amaranthine joys from bowers of bliss, 
And crowns the soul, while yet a mourner here, 
With wreaths like those triumphant spirits wear. 
Hope, as an anchor firm and sure, holds fast 
The Christian vessel, and defies the blast. 
IL>pe ! nothing else can nourish and secure 
His newborn virtues, and preserve him pure. J70 

Hope ! let the wretch once conscious of the joy, 
Whom now despairing agonies destroy, 
Speak, for he can, and none so well as he, 
What treasures centre, what delights, in thee. 
Had he the gems, the spices, and the land 
That boasts the treasure, all at his command, 
The fragrant grove, the inestimable mine, 
Were light, when weighed against one smile of thine. 

Though, clasped and cradled in his nurse's ami?, 
He shine with all a cherub's artless charms, 180 

Man is the genuine offspring of revolt, 
Stubborn and sturdy, a wild ass's colt ; 
His passions, like the watery stores that sleep 
Beneath the smiling surface of the deep, 
Y\ ait but the lashes of a wintry storm 
To frown and roar, and shake his feeble form. 
From infancy through childhood's giddy maze, 
Froward at school, and fretful in his p.ays, 
The puny tyrant burns to subjugate 

The free republic of the whip-gig state. 190 

If one, his equal in athletic frame, 
( )r, more provoking still, of nobler name, 
1 'are step across his arbitrary views, 
An Iliad, only not in verse, ensues ; 
The little Greeks look trembling at the scales, 
Till the best tongue or heaviest hand prevails. 

Xow see him launched into the world at large : 
Ii priest, supinely droning o'er his charge, 
Their fleece his pillow, and his weekly drawl, 
Though short, too long, the price he pays for all ; 200 



ioS HOPE. 

If lawyer, loud whatever cause he plead, 

But proudest of the worst, if that succeed ; 

Perhaps a grave physician, gathering fees, 

Punctually paid for lengthening out disease ; 

No Cotton, whose humanity sheds rays, 

That make superior skill his second praise ; 

If arms engage him, he devotes to sport 

His date of life, so likely to be short, 

A soldier may be anything, if brave ; 

So may a tradesman, if not quite a knave. 2IO 

Such stuff the world is made of ; and mankind 

To passion, interest, pleasure, whim, resigned, 

Insist on, as if each were his own Pope, 

Forgiveness, and the privilege of hope ; 

But Conscience, in some awful silent hour, 

When captivating lusts have lost their power, 

Perhaps when sickness, or some fearful dream, 

Reminds him of religion, hated theme ! 

Starts from the down, on which she lately slept, 

And tells of laws despised, at least not kept : 220 

Shows with a pointing finger, and no noise, 

A pale procession of past sinful joys, 

All witnesses of blessings foully scorned, 

And life abused, and not to be suborned. 

" Mark these," she says ; " these, summoned from afar, 

Begin their march to meet thee at the bar ; 

There find a Judge inexorably just, 

And perish there, as all presumption must." 

Peace be to those (such peace as earth can give) 
Who live in pleasure, dead even while they live ; 230 

Born capable indeed of heavenly truth ; 
lint down to latest age, from earliest youth, 
Their mind a wilderness through want of care, 
The plough of wisdom never entering there. 
Peace (if insensibility may claim 
A right to the meek honours of her name) 
To men of pedigree, their noble race, 
Emulous always of the nearest place 
To any throne, except the throne of grace. 
Let cottagers and unenlightened swains 240 

Revere the laws they dream that heaven ordains ; 
Resort on Sundays to the house of prayer, 
And ask, and fancy they find, blessings there ; 
Themselves, perhaps, when weary they retreat 
To enjoy cool nature in a country seat, 
To exchange the centre of a thousand trades 
For clumps, and lawns, and temples, and cascades, 
May now and then their velvet cushions take, 
And seem to pray, for good example' sake ; 
Judging, in charity no doubt, the town 250 

Pious enough, and having need of none. 
Kind souls ! to teacli their tenantry to prize 



HOTE. 107 

What they themselves, without remorse, despise : 
Nor hope have they, nor fear, of aught to come, 
As well for them had prophecy been dumb ; 
They could have held the conduct they pursue, 
Had Paul of Tarsus lived and died a Jew ; 
And truth, proposed to reasoners wise as they, 
Is a pearl cast — completely cast, away. 

They die. — Death lends them, pleased, and as in sport, 260 
All the grim honours of his ghastly court. 
Far other paintings grace the chamber now, 
Where late we saw the mimic landscape glow : 
The busy heralds hang the sable scene 
With mournful scutcheons, and dim lamps between ; 
Proclaim their titles to the crowd around, 
But they that wore them move not at the sound ; 
The coronet placed idly at their head 
Adds nothing now to the degraded dead ; 
And even the star that glitters on the bier 270 

Can only say — " Nobility lies here." 
Peace to all such — 'twere pity to offend, 
By useless censure, whom we cannot mend ; 
Life without hope can close but in despair ; 
'Twas there we found them, and must leave them there. 

As when two pilgrims in a forest stray, 
Both may be lost, yet each in his own way ; 
So fares it with the multitudes beguiled 
In vain opinion's waste and dangerous wild ; 
Ten thousand rove the brakes and thorns among, 28c 

Some eastward, and some westward, and all wrong. 
But here, alas ! the fatal difference lies, 
Each man's belief is right in his own eyes ; 
And he that blames what they have blindly chose, 
Incurs resentment for the love he shows. 

Say, botanist, within whose province fall 
The cedar and the hyssop on the wall, 
Of all that deck the lanes, the fields, the bowers, 
What parts the kindred tribes of weeds and flowers? 
Sweet scent, or lovely form, or both combined, 290 

Distinguish every cultivated kind ; 
The want of both denotes a meaner breed, 
And Chloe from her garland picks the weed. 
Thus hopes of every sort, whatever sect 
Esteem them, sow them, rear them, and protect, 
If wild in nature, and not duly found, 
Gethsemane ! in thy dear hallowed ground, — 
That cannot bear the blaze of Scripture light, 
Nor cheer the spirit, nor refresh the sight, 
Nor animate the soul to Christian deeds, — 300 

(Oh cast them from thee !) are weeds, arrant weeds, 

Ethelred's house, the centre of six ways, 
Diverging each from each, like equal rays $ 
Himself as bountiful as April rains, 



iq8 HOPE. 

Lord paramount of the surrounding plains, 

Would give relief of bed and board to none 

But guests that sought it in the appointed One : 

And they might enter at his open door, 

Even till his spacious hall would hold no more. 

He sent a servant forth by every road, 310 

To sound his horn, and publish it abroad, 

That all might mark — knight, menial, high, and low— 

An ordinance it concerned them much to know. 

If after all some headstrong hardy lout 

Would disobey, though sure to be shut out, 

Could he with reason murmur at his case, 

Himself sole author of his own disgrace ? 

No ! the deci - ee was just and without flaw ; 

And he that made had right to make the law ; 

His sovereign power and pleasure unrestrained, 320 

The wrong was his who wrongfully complained. 

Yet half mankind maintain a churlish strife 
With Him, the Donor of eternal life, 
Because the deed by which his love confirms 
The largess he bestows, prescribes the terms. 
Compliance with his will your lot ensures ; 
Accept it only, and the boon is yours. 
And sure it is as kind to smile and give, 
As with a frown to say, " Do this, and live." 
Love is not pedler's trumpery, bought and sold : 330 

1 le will give freely, or he will withhold ; 
His soul abhors a mercenary thought, 
And him as deeply who abhors it not : 
He stipulates indeed, but merely this, 
That man will freely take an unbought bliss, 
Will trust him for a faithful generous part, 
Nor set a price upon a willing heart. 
Of all the ways that seem to promise fair, 
To place you where his saints his presence share, 
This only can ; for this plain cause, expressed 340 

In terms as plain, Himself has shut the rest. 
But oh the strife, the bickering, and debate, 
The tidings of unpurchased heaven create ! 
The flirted fan, the bridle, and the toss, 
All speakers, yet all language at a loss. 
From stuccoed walls smart arguments rebound ; 
And beaus, adepts in every thing profound, 
Die of disdain, or whistle off the sound. 
Such is the clamour of rooks, daws, and kites, 
The explosion of tin- levelled tube excites, 350 

Where mouldering abbey walls o'erhang the glade, 
And oaks coeval spread a mournful shade ; 
The screaming nations, hovering in mid air, 
Loudly resent the stranger's freedom there, 
And seem to warn him nevt r to i 
His hold intrusion on their dark retreat. 



HOPE. 109 

''Adieu," Vinosa cries, ere yet he sips 
Tlie purple bumper trembling at his lips, 
" Adieu to all morality, if Grace 

Make works a vain ingredient in the case. 3 00 

The Christian hope is — Waiter, draw the cork — 
If I mistake not — blockhead ! with a fork ! 
Without good works, whatever some may boast, 
Mere folly and delusion — Sir, your toast. 
My tii m persuasion is, at least sometimes, 
That Heaven will weigh man's virtues and his crimes 
With nice attention, in a righteous scale, 
And save or damn as these or those prevail. 
I plant my foot upon this ground of trust, 
And silence every fear with — God is just. 37° 

But if perchance on some dull drizzling day 
A thought intrude, that says, or seems to *ay, 
If thus the important cause is to be tried, 
Suppose the beam should dip on the wrong side ; 
I soon recover from these needless frights, 
And God is merciful — sets all to rights. 
Thus between justice, as my prime support, 
And mercy, fled to as the last resort, 
I glide and steal along with heaven in view. 
And, — pardon me, the bottle stands with you." 3SC 

" I never will believe," the colonel cries, 
" The sanguinary schemes that some devise, 
Who make the good Creator on their plan 
A being of less equity than man. 
If appetite, or what divines call lust, 
Which men comply with, even because they must, 
Be punished with perdition, who is pure ? 
Then theirs, no doubt, as well as mine is sure. 
If sentence of eternal pain belong 

To every sudden slip and transient wrong, 390 

Then Heaven enjoins the fallible and frail 
A hopeless task, and damns them if they fail. 
My creed (whatever some creed-makers mean 
By Athanasian nonsense, or Nicene), 
My creed is, He is safe that does his best, 
And death's a doom sufficient for the rest." 

" Right," says an ensign, " and for aught I see, 
Your faith and mine substantially agree; 
The best of every man's performance here 
Is to discharge the duties of his sphere. 4.00 

A lawyer's dealing should be just and fair, 
Honesty shines with great advantage there. 
Fasting and prayer sit well upon a priest, 
A decent caution and reserve at least. 
A soldier's best is courage in the field, 
With nothing here that wants to be concealed : 
Manly deportment, gallant, easy, gay ; 
A hand as liberal as the light of day. 



HOPE. 



The soldier thus endowed, who never shrinks 

Nor closets up his thought, whate'er he thinks, 410 

Who scorns to do an injury by stealth, 

Must go to heaven — and I must drink his health. 

Sir Smug," he cries (for lowest at the board, 

Just made fifth chaplain of his patron lord, 

His shoulders witnessing by many a shrug 

How much his feelings suffered, sat Sir Smug), 

" Your office is to winnow false from true ; 

Come, prophet, drink, and tell us, what think you?" 

Sighing and smiling as he takes his glass, 
Which they that woo preferment rarely pass, 420 

" Fallible man," the church-bred youth replies, 
" Is still found fallible, however wise ; 
And differing judgments serve but to declare, 
That truth lies somewhere, if we knew but where. 
Of all it ever was my lot to read, 
Of critics now alive, or long since dead, 
The book of all the world that charmed me most 
Was — well-a-day, the title-page was lost ; 
The writer well remarks, a heart that knows 
To take with gratitude what Heaven bestows, 430 

With prudence always ready at our call, 
To guide our use of it, is all in all. 
Doubtless it is. — To which, of my own store, 
I superadd a few essentials more ; 
But these, excuse the liberty I take, 
I waive just now, for conversation sake." — 
" Spoke like an oracle !" they all exclaim, 
And add Right Reverend to Smug's honoured name. 

And yet our lot is given us in a land, 
Where busy arts are never at a stand ; 440 

Where Science points her telescopic eye, 
Familiar with the wonders of the sky ; 
Where bold Inquiry, diving out of sight, 
Brings many a precious pearl of truth to light ; 
Where nought eludes the persevering quest, 
That fashion, taste, or luxury suggest. 

But above all, in her own light arrayed, 
See Mercy's grand apocalypse displayed ! 
The Sacred Book no longer suffers wren, 
Bound in the fetters of an unknown tongue ; 450 

But speaks, with plainness art could never mend, 
What simplest minds can soonest comprehend. 
(ii>d gives the word, the preachers throng around, 
Live from lii^ lips, and spread the glorious sound : 
That sound bespeaks Salvation on her way, 
The trumpet of a life-restoring day ; 
'Tis heard where England's Eastern glory shines, 
And in the gulfs of her Cornubian mines. 
And still it spreads. See Germany send forth 
Her sons to pour it on the farthest north : 460 



HOl'E. 



Fired with a zeal peculiar, they defy 
The rage and rigour of a polar sky, 
And plant successfully sweet Sharon's Rose 
On icy plains, and in eternal snows. 

O blessed within the inclosure of your rocks, 
Nor herds have ye to boast, nor bleating flocks, 
No fertilizing streams your fields divide, 
That show, reversed, the villas on their side ; 
No groves have ye ; no cheerful sound of bird, 
Or voice of turtle, in your land is heard ; 470 

Nor grateful eglantine regales the smell 
Of those that walk at evening where ye dwell : 
But Winter, armed with terrors here unknown, 
Sits absolute on his unshaken throne ; 
Piles up his stores amidst the frozen waste, 
And bids the mountains he has built stand fast ; 
Beckons the legions of his storms away 
From happier scenes, to make your land a prey ; 
Proclaims the soil a conquest he has won, 
And scorns to share it with the distant sun. 4S0 

— Yet Truth is yours, remote, unenvied isle ! 
And Peace, the genuine offspring of her smile; 
The pride of lettered ignorance, that binds 
In chains of error our accomplished minds, 
That decks, with all the splendour of the true, 
A false religion, is unknown to you. 
Nature indeed vouchsafes for our delight 
The sweet vicissitudes of clay and night ; 
Soft airs and genial moisture feed and cheer 
Field, fruit, and flower, and every creature here; 490 

But brighter beams than his who fires the skies 
Have risen at length on your admiring eyes, 
That shoot into your darkest caves the day, 
From which our nicer optics turn away. 

Here see the encouragement Grace gives to vice, 
The dire effect of mercy without price ! 
What were they ? What some fools are made by art 
They were by nature, atheists, head and heart. 
The gross idolatry blind heathens teach 

Was too refined for them, beyond their reach. 500 

Not even the glorious sun, though men revere 
The monarch most that seldom will appear, 
And though his beams, that quicken where they shine, 
May claim some right to be esteemed divine, 
Not even the sun, desirable as rare, 
Could bend one knee, engage one votary there ; 
They were, what base credulity believes 
True Christians are, dissemblers, drunkards, thieves. 
The full-gorged savage, at his nauseous feast 
Spent half the darkness, and. snored out the rest, 510 

Was one whom Justice, on an equal plan 
Denouncing death upon the sins of man, 



hope 



Might almost have indulged with an escape, 
Chargeable only with a human shape. 

What are they now? — Morality may spare 
Her grave concern, her kind suspicions there : 
The wretch who once sang wildly, danced, and laughed, 
And sucked in dizzy madness with his draught, 
Has wept a silent flood, reversed his ways, 
Is sober, meek, benevolent, and prays, 520 

Feeds sparingly, communicates his store, 
Abhors the craft he boasted of before, 
And he that stole has learned to steal no more. 
"Well spake the prophet, " Let the desert sing : 
"Where sprang the thorn, the spiry fir shall spring ; 
And where unsightly and rank thistles grew, 
Shall grow the myrtle and luxuriant yew." 

Go now, and with important tone demand 
On what foundation virtue is to stand, 

If self-exalting claims be turned adrift, 530 

And grace be grace indeed, and life a gift ; 
The poor reclaimed inhabitant, his eyes 
Glistening at once with pity and surprise, 
Amazed that shadows should obscure the sight 
Of one whose birth was in the land of light, 
Shall answer, " Hope, sweet Hope, has set me free, 
And made all pleasures else mere dross to me." 

These, amidst scenes as waste as if denied 
The common care that waits on all beside, 
Wild as if Nature there, void of all good, 540 

Played only gambols in a frantic mood, 
(Vet charge not heavenly skill with having planned 
A plaything world, unworthy of his hand; ) 
Can see his love, though secret evil lurks 
In all we touch, stamped plainly on his works; 
Deem life a blessing with its numerous woes, 
Nor spurn away a gift a Cod bestows. 

Hard task indeed o'er Arctic seas to roam ! 
Is hope exotic ? grows it not at home ? 

Yes ; but an object, bright as orient morn, 550 

May press the eye too closely to be borne : 
A distant virtue we can all confess ; 
It hurts our pride, and moves our envy, less. 
1 Leuconomus (beneath well-sounding Greek 
1 slur a name a poet must not speak) 
Stood pilloried <>n infamy's high stage, 
And bore the pelting scorn of half an age; 
The very butt of slander, and the blot 

very dart that malice ever shot. 
The man that mentioned him at once dismissed 560 

All mercy from his lips, and sneered, and hissed ; 
His crimes were such as Sodom never knew, 
And Perjury stood up to swear all true; 
His aim was mischief", and his zeal pretence, 



HOPE. 1 1 3 

His speech rebellion against common sense; 

A knave, when tried on honesty's plain rule, 

And when by that of reason, a mere fool ; 

The world's best comfort was, his doom was passed, 

Die when he might, he must be damned at last. 

Now, Truth, perform thine office; waft aside 57° 

The curtain drawn by prejudice and pride, 
Reveal (the man is dead) to wondering eyes 
This more than monster in his proper guise. 

He loved the world that hated him: the tear 
That dropped upon his Bible was sincere : 
Assailed by scandal and the tongue of strife, 
His only answer was a blameless life ; 
And he that forged, and he that threw the dart, 
Had each a brother's interest in his heart. 
Paul's love of Christ, and steadiness unbribed, 5S0 

Were copied close in him, and well transcribed. 
He followed Paul ; his zeal a kindred name, 
His apostolic charity the same. 
Like him, crossed cheerfully tempestuous seas, 
Forsaking country, kindred, friends, and ease; 
Like him he laboured, and like him content 
To bear it, suffered shame where'er he went. 

Blush, Calumny ; and write upon his tomb, 
If honest eulogy can spare thee room, 

Thy deep repentance of thy thousand lies, 590 

Which, aimed at him, have pierced the offended skies ! 
And say, " Blot out my sin, confessed, deplored, 
Against thine image in thy saint, O Lord ! " 

No blinder bigot, I maintain it still, 
Than he who must have pleasure, come what will : 
He laughs, whatever weapon Truth may draw, 
And deems her sharp artillery mere straw. 
Scripture indeed is plain ; but God and he 
On Scripture ground are sure to disagree ; 
Some wiser rule must teach him how to live 600 

Than that his Maker has seen fit to give ; 
Supple and flexible as Indian cane, 
To take the bend his appetites ordain ; 
Contrived to suit frail nature's crazy case, 
And reconcile his lusts with saving grace. 
By this, with nice precision of design, 
He draws upon life's map a zigzag line, 
That shows how far 'tis safe to follow sin, 
And where his danger and God's wrath begin. 
By this he forms, as pleased he sports along, 610 

His well-poised estimate of right and wrong; 
And finds the modish manners of the day, 
Though loose, as harmless as an infant's play. 

Build by whatever plan caprice decrees, 
With what materials, on what ground you please ; 
Your hope shall stand unblamed, perhaps admired, 



H4 HOPE. 

If not that hope the Scripture has required. 

The strange conceits, vain projects, and wild dreams, 

With which hypocrisy for ever teems, 

(Though other follies strike the public eye, 620 

And raise a laugh) pass unmolested by; 

But if, unblameable in word and thought, 

A man arise, a man whom God has taught, 

With all Elijah's dignity of tone, 

And all the love of the beloved John, 

To storm the citadels they build in air, 

And smite the untempered wall 'tis death to spare ; 

To sweep away all refuges of lies, 

And place, instead of quirks themselves devise, 

Lama sabachthaxi before their eyes; 630 

To prove, that without Christ all gain is loss, 

All hope despair, that stands not on his cross ; 

Except the few his God may have impressed, 

A tenfold frenzy seizes all the rest. 

Throughout mankind, the Christian kind at least, 
There dwells a consciousness in every breast, 
That folly ends where genuine hope begins, 
And he that finds his heaven must lose his sins. 
Nature opposes with her utmost force 

This riving stroke, this ultimate divorce; 640 

And, while religion seems to be her view, 
Hates with a deep sincerity the true: 
For this, of all that ever influenced man, 
Since Abel worshipped, or the world began, 
This only spares no lust, admits no plea, 
But makes him, if at all, completely free ; 
Sounds forth the signal, as she mounts her car, 
Of an eternal, universal war ; 
Rejects all treaty, penetrates all wiles, 

Scorns with the same indifference frowns and smiles ; 650 
Drives through the realms of Sin, where Riot reels, 
And grinds his crown beneath her burning wheels ! 
Hence all that is in man, pride, passion, art, 
Powers of the mind, and feelings of the heart, 
Insensible of Truth's almighty charms, 
Starts at her first approach, and sounds to arms ! 
While Bigotry, with well-dissembled fears, 
His eyes shut fast, his fingers in his ears, 
Mighty to parry and push by God's word 
With senseless noise, his argument the sword, 660 

Pretends a zeal for godliness and grace, 
And spits abhorrence in the Christian's face. 

Parent of I tope, immortal Truth ! make known 
Thy deathless wreaths and triumphs all thine own : 
The silent progress of thy power is such, 
Thy means so feeble, and despised so much, 
That few believe the wonders thou hast wrought, 
And none can teach them, but whom thou hast taught. 



HOPE. 115 

O see me sworn to serve thee, and command 

A painter's skill into a poet's hand, 670 

That, while I trembling trace a work divine, 

Fancy may stand aloof from the design, 

And light, and shade, ami every stroke be thine. 

If ever thou hast felt another's pain, 
If ever when he sighed hast sighed again, 
If ever on thine eyelid stood the tear 
That pity had engendered, drop one here. 
This man was happy — had the world's good word, 
And with it every joy it can afford ; 

Friendship and love seemed tenderly at strife, 6S0 

Which most should sweeten his untroubled life ; 
Politely learned, and of a gentle race, 
Good breeding and good sense gave all a grace, 
And whether at the toilet of the fair 
He laughed and trifled, made him welcome there, — 
Or if in masculine debate he shared, 
Ensured him mute attention and regard. 
Alas, how changed ! expressive of his mind, 
His eyes are sunk, arms folded, head reclined ; 
Those awful syllables, Hell, Death, and Sin, (90 

Though whispered, plainly tell what works within, 
That conscience there performs her proper part, 
And writes a doomsday sentence on his heart ; 
Forsaking and forsaken of all friends, 
He now perceives where earthly pleasure ends ; 
Hard task ! for one who lately knew no care, 
And harder still as learnt beneath despair ; 
His hours no longer pass unmarked away, 
A dark importance saddens every day ; 

He hears the notice of the clock perplexed, 700 

And cries, " Perhaps eternity strikes next ; " 
Sweet music is no longer music here, 
And laughter sounds like madness in his ear : 
His grief the world of all her power disarms, 
Wine has no taste, and beauty has no charms : 
God's holy word, once trivial in his view, 
Xow by the voice of his experience true, 
Seems, as it is, the fountain whence alone 
Must spring that hope he pants to make his own. 

Now let the bright reverse be known abroad ; 710 

Say man's a worm, and power belongs to God. 
As when a felon, whom his country's laws 
Have justly doomed for some atrocious cause, 
Expects in darkness and heart-chilling fears, 
The shameful close of all his misspent years ; 
If chance, on heavy pinions slowly borne, 
A tempest usher in the dreaded morn, 
Upon his dungeon walls the lightnings play, 
The thunder seems to summon him away, 
The warder at the door his key applies. 720 



n6 HOPE. 

Shoots back the bolt, and all his courage dies ; 

If then, just then, all thoughts of mercy lost, 

When hope, long lingering, at last yields the ghost, 

The sound of pardon pierce his startled ear, 

He drops at once his fetters and his fear ; 

A transport glows in all he looks and speaks, 

And the first thankful tears bedew his cheeks. 

Joy, far superior joy, that much outweighs 

The comfort of a few poor added days, 

Invades, possesses, and o'erwhelms the soul 730 

Of him whom hope has with a touch made whole. 

'Tis heaven, all heaven descending on the wings 

Of the glad legions of the King of kings ; 

'Tis more — 'tis God diffused through ever}' part, 

Tis God himself triumphant in his heart. 

O, welcome now the sun's once hated light, 

His noonday beams were never half so bright. 

Not kindred minds alone are called to employ 

Their hours, their days, in listening to his joy ; 

Unconscious nature, all that he surveys, 740 

Rocks, groves, and streams, must join him in his praise 

These are thy glorious works, eternal Truth, 
The scoff of withered age and beardless youth ; 
These move the censure and illiberal grin 
Of fools that hate thee and delight in sin : 
But these shall last when night has quenched the pole, 
And heaven is all departed as a scroll. 
And when, as Justice has long since decreed, 
This earth shall blaze, and a new world succeed, 
Then these thy glorious works, and they who share 75c 

That Hope, which can alone exclude despair, 
Shall live exempt from weakness and decay, 
The brightest wonders of an endless day. 

Happy the bard (if that fair name belong 
To him that blends no fable with his song) 
Whose lines uniting, by an honest art, 
The faithful monitor's and poet's part, 
Seek to delight, that they may mend, mankind, 
And, while tiaey captivate, inform the mind ; 
Still happier, if he till a thankful soil, 760 

And fruit reward his honourable toil : 
But happier far, who comfort those that wait 
To hear plain truth at Judah's hallowed gate: 
Their language simple, as their manners meek, 
No shining ornaments have they to seek ; 
Nor labour they, nor time nor talents waste, 
In sorting flowers to suit a fickle taste ; 
But while they speak the wisdom of the skies, 
Which art can only darken and disguise, 

The abundant harvest, recompense divine, 770 

Repays their work— the gleaning only mine. 



CHARITY. 

Quo nihil majus meliusve terns 

Fata donavere, bonique divi ; 

Nee dabunt, quamvis redeant in aurum 

Tempora priscum.— Hor. lib. iv. ode 2 

Fairest and foremost of the train that wait 

Cm man's most dignified and happiest state, 

Whether we name thee Charity or Love, 

Chief grace below, and all in all above, 

Prosper (I press thee with a powerful plea) 

A task I venture on, impelled by thee : 

Oh never seen but in thy blest effects, 

Nor felt but in the soul that Heaven selects ; 

Who seeks to praise thee, and to make thee known 

To other hearts, must have thee in his own. 10 

Come, prompt me with benevolent desires, 

Teach me to kindle at thy gentle fires, 

And though disgraced and slighted, to redeem 

A poet's name, by making thee the theme. 

God, working ever on a social plan, 
Bv various ties attaches man to man : 
He made at first, though free and unconfined, 
One man the common father of the kind ; 
That every tribe, though placed as he sees best, 
Where seas or deserts part them from the rest, 20 

Differing in language, manners, or in face, 
Might feel themselves allied to all the race. 
When Cook— lamented, and with tears as just 
As ever mingled with heroic dust — 
Steered Britain's oak into a world unknown, 
And in his country's glory sought his own, 
Wherever he found man, to nature true, 
The rights of man were sacred in his view ; 
He soothed with gifts, and greeted with a smile, 
The simple native of the new-found isle ; 50 

He spumed the wretch that slighted or withstood 
The tender argument of kindred blood, 
Nor would endure that any should control 
His freeborn brethren of the southern pole. 

But though some nobler minds a law respect, 
That none shall with impunity neglect, 
In baser souls unnumbered evils meet, 
To thwart its influence, and its end defeat. 
While Cook is loved for savage lives he saved, 
See Cortez odious for a world enslaved ! 40 

Where wast thou then, sweet Charity ! where then, 
Thou tutelary friend of helpless men? 



CHARITY. 

Wast thou in monkish cells and nunneries found, 

Or building hospitals on English ground ? 

No. — Mammon makes the world his legatee 

Through fear, not love ; and Heaven abhors the fee. 

Wherever found (and all men need thy care), 

Nor age nor infancy could find thee there. 

The hand, that slew till it could slay no more, 

Was glued to the sword-hilt with Indian gore. 50 

Their prince, as justly seated on his throne 

As vain imperial Philip on his own, 

Tricked out of all his royalty by art, 

That stripped him bare, and broke his honest heart, 

Died by the sentence of a shaven priest, 

For scorning what they taught him to detest. 

How dark the veil that intercepts the blaze 

Of Heaven's mysterious purposes and ways; 

God stood not, though he seemed to stand, aloof; 

And at this hour the conqueror feels the proof: 60 

The wreath he won drew clown an instant curse, 

The fretting plague is in the public purse, 

The cankered spoil corrodes the pining state, 

Starved by that indolence their mines create. 

Oh could their ancient Incas rise again, 
How would they take up Israel's taunting strain ! 
'" Art thou too fallen, Iberia C Do we see 
The robber and the murderer weak as we ? 
Thou that hast wasted earth, and dared despise 
Alike the wrath and mercy of the skies, 70 

Thy pomp is in the grave, thy glory laid 
Low in the pits thine avarice has made. 
We come with joy from our eternal rest, 
To see the oppressor in his turn oppressed. 
Art thou the god, the thunder of whose hand 
Rolled over all our desolated land, 
Shook principalities and kingdoms down, 
And made the mountains tremble at his frown ? 
The sword shall light upon thy boasted powers, 

\n 1 waste them, as thy sword lias wasted ours." 80 

'Tis thus Omnipotence his law fulfils, 
And vengeance executes what justice wills. 

Again— the band of commerce was designed 
To associate all the branches of mankii 
And if a boundless plenty be the robe, 

Trade is the golden girdle of the glob . 
Wise to promote whatever end he means, 
( ^ "1 open-, fruitful Nature's various scenes : 
Each climate needs what other climes produce, 
Ainl offers something to the general use ; <,o 

No land but listens to the common call, 
And in return receives supply from all. 
This genial intercourse, ami mutual aid, 
what were else a universal shade, 



CHARITY. 



Calls Nature from her ivy-mantled den, 

And softens human rockwork into men. 

Ingenious Art, with her expressive face, 

Steps forth to fashion and refine the race, 

Not only fills necessity's demand, 

Bat overcharges her capacious hand : IOO 

Capricious taste itself can crave no more, 

Than she supplies from her abounding store ; 

She strikes out all that luxury can ask, 

And gains new vigour at her endless task. 

I [ers is the spacious arch, the shapely spire, 

The painter's pencil, and the poet's lyre ; 

From her the canvas borrows light and shade, 

And verse, more lasting, hues that never fade. 

She guides the finger o'er the dancing keys, 

Gives difficulty all the grace of ease, no 

And pours a torrent of sweet notes around, 

Fast as the thirsting ear can drink the sound. 

These are the gitts of Art, and Art thrives must 
Where commerce has enriched the busy coast ; 
He catches all improvements in his flight, 
Spreads foreign wonders in his country's sight, 
Imports what others have invented well, 
And stirs his own to match them or excel. 
'Tis thus reciprocating, each with each, 

Alternately the nations learn and teach : 1 20 

While Providence enjoins to every soul 
A union with the vast terraqueous whole. 

Heaven speed the canvas, gallantly unfurled 
To furnish and accommodate a world, 
To give the pole the produce of the sun, 
And knit the unsocial climates into one. — 
Soft airs and gentle heavings of the wave 
Impel the fleet, whose errand is to save, 
To succour wasted regions, and replace 

The smile of opulence in sorrow's face. — 1 30 

Let nothing adverse, nothing unforeseen, 
Impede the bark that ploughs the deep serene, 
Charged with a freight transcending in its worth 
The gems of India, nature's rarest birth, 
That flies, like Gabriel on his Lord's commands, 
A herald of God's love to pagan lands. 
But ah ! what wish can prosper, or what prayer, 
For merchants rich in cargoes of despair, 
AYho drive a loathsome traffic, gauge and span, 
And buy the muscles and the bones of man ? I4O 

The tender ties of father, husband, friend, 
All bonds of nature in that moment end ; 
And each endures, while yet he draws his breath, 
A stroke as fatal as the scythe of death. 
The sable warrior, frantic with regret 
Of her he loves, and never can forget, 



119 



CHARITY. 

Loses in tears the far receding shore, 

But not the thought that they must meet no more ; 

Deprived of her and freedom at a blo\v, 

What has he left, that he can yet forego ? 150 

Yes, to deep sadness sullenly resigned, 

He feels his body's bondage in his mind ; 

Puts off his generous nature; and, to suit 

His manners with his fate, puts on the brute. 

O most degrading of all ills, that wait 
On man, a mourner in his best estate ! 
All other sorrows virtue may endure, 
And find submission more than half a cure ; 
Grief is itself a medicine, and bestowed 

To improve the fortitude that bears the load, 160 

To teach the wanderer, as his woes increase, 
The path of Wisdom, all whose paths are peace ; 
But slavery ! — Virtue dreads it as her grave : 
Patience itself is meanness in a slave ; 
Or if the will and sovereignty of God 
Bid suffer it awhile, and kiss the rod, 
Wait for the dawning of a brighter da}', 
And snap the chain the moment when you may. 
Nature imprints upon whate'er we see 

That has a heart and life in it, " Be free ! " 370 

The beasts are chartered — neither age nor force 
Can quell the love of freedom in a horse : 
He breaks the cord that held him at the rack ; 
And, conscious of an unencumbered back, 
Snuffs up the morning air, forgets the rein ; 
Loose fly his forelock and his ample mane; 
Responsive to the distant neigh, he neighs ; 
Nor stops till, overleaping all delays, 
He finds the pasture where his fellows graze. 

Canst thou, and honoured with a Christian name, 180 

Buy what is woman-born, and feel no shame ? 
Trade in the blood of innocence, and plead 
Expedience as a warrant for the deed? 
So may the wolf, whom famine has made bold 
To quit the forest and invade the fold ; 
So may the ruffian, who with ghostly glide, 
Dagger in hand, steals close to your bedside ; 
Not he, but his emergence forced the door, 
He found it inconvenient to be poor. 

Has God then given its sweetness to the cane, 190 

Unless his laws be trampled on — in vain ? 
Built a brave world, which cannot yet subsist, 
Unless his right to rule it be dismissed? 
Impudent blasphemy ! So folly pleads, 
And, Avarice being judge, with ease succeeds. 

But f^rant the plea, and let it stand for just, 
Tint man make man his prey, because he must : 
Still there is room for pity to abate, 



' 



CHART] V. 



And soothe the sorrows of so sad a state. 

A Briton knows, or if he knows it not, 200 

The Scripture placed within his reach, he ought, 

That souls have no discriminating hue, 

Alike important in their Maker's view ; 

That none are free from blemish since the fall, 

And love divine has paid one price for all. 

The wretch that works and weeps without relief, 

lias one that notices his silent grief. 

He, from whose hands alone all power proceeds, 

Ranks its abuse among the foulest deeds, 

Considers all injustice with a frown ; 2IO 

But marks the man, that treads his fellow down. 

Begone — the whip and bell in that hard hand 

Are hateful ensigns of usurped command. 

Not Mexico could purchase kings a claim 

To scourge him, weariness his only blame. 

Remember, Heaven has an avenging rod, — 

To smite the poor is treason against God. 

Trouble is grudgingly and hardly brooked, 
While life's sublimest joys are overlooked: 
We wander o'er a sunburnt thirsty soil, 220 

Murmuring and weary of our daily toil, 
Forget to enjoy the palm-tree's offered shade, 
Or taste the fountain in the neighbouring glade ; 
Else who would lose, that had the power to improve, 
The occasion of transmuting fear to love ? 
Oh, 'tis a godlike privilege to save, 
And he that scorns it is himself a slave. 
Inform his mind ; one flash of heavenly day 
Would heal his heart, and melt his chains away. 
"Beauty for ashes" is a gift indeed, 230 

And slaves, by truth enlarged, are doubly freed. 
Then would he say, submissive at thy feet, 
While gratitude and love made service sweet, 
" My dear deliverer out of hopeless night, 
Whose bounty bought me but to give me light, 
I was a bondman on my native plain, 
Sin forged, and ignorance made fast, the chain ; 
Thy lips have shed instruction as the dew, 
Taught me what path to shun, and what pursue ; 
Farewell my former joys ! I sigh no more 24.O 

For Africa's once loved, benighted shore; 
Serving a benefactor I am free ; 
At my best home, if not exiled from thee." 

Some men make gain a fountain, whence proceeds 
A stream of liberal and heroic deeds ; 
The swell of pity, not to be confined 
Within the scanty limits of the mind, 
Disdains the bank, and throws the golden sands, 
A rich deposit, on the bordering lands : 
These have an ear for His paternal call, 250 



CHARITY. 



Who makes some rich for the supply of all ; 
God's gift with pleasure in His praise employ ; 
And Thornton is familiar with the joy. 

Oh, could I worship aught beneath the skies, 
That earth has seen, or fancy can devise, 
Thine altar, sacred Liberty, should stand, 
Built by no mercenary vulgar hand, 
With fragrant turf, and flowers as wild and fair 
As ever dressed a bank, or scented summer air. 
Duly, as ever on the mountain's height 260 

The peep of Morning shed a dawning light, 
Again, when Evening in her sober vest 
Drew the grey curtain of the fading west, 
My soul should yield thee willing thanks and praise, 
For the chief blessings of my fairest days : 
But that were sacrilege — praise is not thine, 
But His who gave thee, and preserves thee mine : 
Else I would say, and as I spake bid fly 
A captive bird into the boundless sky, 

"This triple realm adores thee- -thou art come 270 

From Sparta hither, and art here at home. 
We feel thy force still active, at this hour 
Enjoy immunity from priestly power, 
While Conscience, happier than in ancient years, 
( )wns no superior but the God she fears. 
Propitious spirit ! yet expunge a wrong 
Thy rights have suffered, and our land, too long. 
Teach mercy to ten thousand hearts, that share 
The fears and hopes of a commercial care ; 
Prisons expect the wicked, and were built 280 

To bind the lawless, and to punish guilt; 
But shipwreck, earthquake, battle, lire, and flood, 
Are mighty mischiefs, not to be withstood ; 
And honest merit stands on slippery ground, 
Where covert guile and artifice abound. 
Let just restraint, for public peace designed, 
Chain up the wolves and tigers of mankind ; 
The foe of virtue has no claim to thee, 
But let insolvent innocence go free." 

Patron of else the most despised of men, 290 

Accept the tribute of a stranger's pen ; 
Verse, like the laurel, its immortal meed, 
Should be the guerdon of a noble deed ; 
I may alarm thee, but I fear the shame 
(Charity chosen as my theme and aim) 
I must incur, forgetting Howard's name. 
Blest willi all wealth can give thee, to resign 
Joys doubly sweet to feelings quick a.-, thine, 
To quit tlie bliss thy rural scenes bestow, 

Tn seek a nobler amidst scenes of woe, 300 

To traverse sea.-,, range kingdoms, and bring home 
Not the proud monuments of Greece or R , 






CHARITY. 123 



But knowledge such as only dungeons teach, 
And only sympathy like thine could reach ; 
That grief, sequestered from the public stage, 
Might smooth her feathers, and enjoy her cage; 
Speaks a divine ambition, and a zeal, 
The boldest patriot might be proud to feel. 
( >h that the voice of clamour and debate, 
That pleads for peace till it disturbs the state, 
Were hushed in favour of thy generous plea, 
The poor thy clients, and Heaven's smile thy fee! 

Philosophy, that does not dream or stray, 
Walks arm in arm with Nature all his way, 
Compasses Earth, dives into it, ascends 
Whatever steep Enquiry recommends, 
Sees planetary wonders smoothly roll 
Round other systems under her control, 
Drinks wisdom at the milky stream of light, 
That cheers the silent journey of the night, 
And brings at his return a bosom charged 
With rich instruction, and a soul enlarged. 
The treasured sweets of the capacious plan 
That Heaven spreads wide before the view of man, 
All prompt his pleased pursuit, and to pursue 
Still prompt him, with a pleasure always new; 
lie too has a connecting power, and draws 
Man to the centre of the common cause, 
Aiding a dubious and deficient sight 
With a new medium and a purer light. 
All truth is precious, if not all divine ; 
And what dilates the powers must needs refine. 
1 [e reads the skies, and watching every change, 
Provides the faculties an ampler range; 
And wins mankind, as his attempts prevail, 
A prouder station on the general scale. 
But Reason still, unless divinely taught, 
\\ hate'er she learns, learns nothing as she ought ; 
The lamp of revelation only shows, 
What human wisdom cannot but oppose, 
That man, in nature's richest mantle clad, 
And graced with all philosophy can add, 
Though fair without, and luminous within, 
Is still the progeny and heir of sin. 
Thus taught, down falls the plumage of his pride; 
He feels his need of an unerring guide, 
And knows, that falling he shall rise no more, 
Unless the power that bade him stand restore. 
This is indeed philosophy ; this known, 
Makes wisdom, worthy of the name, his own : 
And without this, whatever he discuss, — 
Whether the space between the stars and us ; 
Whether he measure Earth, compute the sea, 
Weigh sunbeams, carve a fly, or spit a flea; 



124 CHARITY. 

The solemn trifler with his boasted skill 

Toils much, and is a solemn trifler still : 

Blind was he bom, and, his misguided eyes 

Grown dim in trifling studies, blind he dies. 

Self-knowledge truly learned, of course implies 

The rich possession of a nobler prize : 3^° 

For self to self; 1 and God to man revealed 

(Two themes to Nature's eye for ever sealed), 

Are taught by rays, that fly with equal pace 

From the same centre of enlightening grace. 

Here stay thy foot ; how copious, and how clear, 

The o'erflowing well of Charity springs here ! 

Hark ! 'tis the music of a thousand rills, 

Some through the groves, some down the sloping hills, 

Winding a secret or an open course, 

And all supplied from an eternal source. 37° 

The ties of Nature do but feebly bind ; 

And Commerce partially reclaims mankind ; 

Philosophy, without his heavenly guide, 

May blow up self-conceit, and nourish pride, 

But, while his province is the reasoning part, 

Has still a veil of midnight on his heart : 

'Tis Truth divine exhibited on earth, 

Gives Charity her being and her birth. 

Suppose (when thought is warm and fancy flows, 
What will not argument sometimes suppose?) 380 

An isle possessed by creatures of our kind, 
Endued with reason, yet by nature blind. 
Let Supposition lend her aid once more, 
And land some grave optician on the shore : 
He claps his lens, if haply they may see, 
Close to the part where vision ought to be ; 
But finds, that, though his tubes assist the sight, 
They cannot give it, or make darkness light. 
He reads wise lectures, and describes aloud 
A sense they know not, to the wondering crowd ; 390 

He talks of light, and the prismatic hues, 
As men of depth in erudition use ; 
But all he gains for his harangue is — " Well ! 
What monstrous lies some travellers will tell !" 

The soul, whose sight all -quickening grace renews, 
Takes the resemblance of the good she views, 
As diamonds, stripped of their opaque disguise, 
Reflect the noonday glory of the skies. 
She speaks of Him, her Author, Guardian, Friend, 
Whose love knew no beginning, knows no end, 400 

In language warm as all that love inspires, 
And in the glow of her intense desires, 
Pants to communicate her noble fires. 
She sees a world stark blind to what employs 
Her (.ager thought, and feeds her flowing joys; 
Though Wis lorn hail them, heedless of her call, 



1 



CHARTTY. 

Flies to save some, and feels a pang for all : 
Herself as weak as her support is strong, 
Is that frailty she denied so long; 
Ami, fmm a knowledge of her own disease, 410 

1. earns to compassionate the sick she sees. 
Here see, acquitted of all vain pretence, 
The reign of genuine Charity commence ; 
Though scorn repay her sympathetic tears, 
She still is kind, and still she perseveres; 
The truth she loves a sightless world blaspheme, 
"lis childish dotage, a delirious dream. 
The danger they discern not, they deny ; 
Laugh at their only remedy, and die. 

But still a soul thus touched can never cease, 420 

Whoever threatens war, to speak of peace. 
Pure in her aim, and in her temper mild, 
1 ler wisdom seems the weakness of a child : 
She makes excuses where she might condemn, 
Reviled by those that hate her, prays for them ; 
Suspicion lurks not in her artless- breast, 
The worst suggested, she believes the best ; 
Not soon provoked, however stung and teased, 
And, if perhaps made angry, soon appeased ; 
She rather waives than will dispute her right, 4 30 

And, injured, makes forgiveness her delight. 

Such was the portrait an apostle drew, 
The bright original.was one he knew ; 
Heaven held his hand, the likeness must be true. 

When one, that holds communion with the skies, 
Has filled his urn where these pure waters rise, 
And once more mingles with us meaner things, 
'Tis even as if an Angel shook his wings; 
Immortal fragrance fills the circuit wide, 

That tells us whence his treasures are supplied. 440 

So when a ship, well freighted with the stores 
The sun matures on India's spicy shores, 
Has dropped her anchor, and her canvas furled, 
In some safe haven of our western world, 
'Twere vain enquiry co what port she went, 
The gale informs us, laden with the scent. 

Some seek, when queasy conscience has its qualms. 
To lull the painful malady with alms ; 
But charity not feigned intends alone 

Another's good — theirs centres in their own ; 450 

And, too short-lived to reach the realms of peace, 
Must cease for ever when the poor shall cease. 
Flavia, most tender of her own good name, 
Is rather careless of her sister's fame : 
Her superfluity the poor supplies. 
But, if she touch a character, it dies. 
The seeming virtue weighed against the vice, 
She deems all safe, for she has paid the price : 



126 CHARITY. 

No charity but alms aught values she, 

Except in porcelain on her mantel-tree. 460 

How many deeds with which the world has rung, 

From pride in league with ignorance have sprung ! 

But God o'errules all human follies still, 

And bends the tough materials to His will. 

A conflagration, or a wintry flood, 

Has left some hundreds without home or food ; 

Extravagance and Avarice shall subscribe, 

While fame and self-complacence are the bribe. 

The brief proclaimed, it visits every pew, 

But first the Squire's, a compliment but due : 470 

With slow deliberation he unties 

His glittering purse, that envy of all eyes, 

And while the clerk just puzzles out the psalm, 

Slides guinea behind guinea in his palm ; 

Till finding, what he might have found before, 

A smaller piece amidst the precious store, 

Pinched close between his finger and his thumb, 

He half exhibits, and then drops the sum. 

Gold to be sure ! — Throughout the town 'tis told, 

How the good Squire gives never less than gold. 4S0 

From motives such as his, though not the best. 

Springs in due time supply for the distressed ; 

Not less effectual than what love bestows, 

Except that Office clips it as it goes. 

But lest I seem to sin against a friend, 
And wound the grace I mean to recommend, 
(Though vice derided with a just design 
Implies no trespass against love divine,) 
Once more I would adopt the graver style ; 
A teacher should be sparing of his smile. 490 

Unless a love of virtue light the flame, 
Satire is, more than those he brands, to blame ; 
He hides behind a magisterial air 
His own offences, and strips others bare; 
Affects indeed a most humane concern. 
That men, if gently tutored, will not learn ; 
That mulish folly, not to be reclaimed 
By softer methods, must be made ashamed ; 
But (I might instance in St. Patrick's dean) 
Too often rails to gratify his spleen. 500 

Most satirists are indeed a public scourge ; 
Their mildest physic is a farrier's purge; 
Their acrid temper turns, as soon as stirred, 
The milk of their good purpose all to curd. 
Their zeal begotten, as their works rehearse, 
By lean despair upon an empty purse, 
The wild assassins start into the street, 
Prepared to poniard whomsoe'er they meet. 
No skill in swordsmanship, however just, 
Can be secure against a madman's thrust ! 510 



CHARITY. i: 7 

And even Virtue so unfairly matched, 

Although immortal, may be pricked or scratched. 

When Scandal has new-minted an old lie, 

( >r taxed invention for a fresh supply, 

'Tis called a Satire, and the world appears 

( lathering around it with erected ears j 

A thousand names are tossed into the crowd ; 

Some whispered softly, and some twanged aloud ; 

Just as the sapience of an author's brain 

Suggests it safe or dangerous to be plain. 520 

Strange ! how the frequent interjected dash 

Quickens a market, and helps off the trash ; 

The important letters that include the rest 

Serve as a key to those that are suppressed ; 

Conjecture gripes the victims in his paw, 

The world is charmed, and Scrib escapes the law. 

So, when the cold damp shades of night prevail, 

Worms may be caught by either head or tail ; 

Forcibly drawn from many a close recess, 

They meet with little pity, no redress ; 530 

Plunged in the stream, they lodge upon the mud, 

Food for the famished rovers of the flood. 

All zeal for a reform that gives offence 
To peace and charity, is mere pretence : 
A bold remark, but which, if well applied, 
Would humble many a towering poet's pride. 
Perhaps the man was in a sportive fit, 
And had no other play-place for his wit ; 
Perhaps, enchanted with the love of fame, 
He sought the jewel in his neighbour's shame ; 540 

Perhaps — whatever end he might pursue, 
The cause of virtue could not be his view. 
At every stroke wit flashes in our eyes ; 
The turns are quick, the polished points surprise, 
But shine with cruel and tremendous charms, 
That, while they please, possess us with alarms : 
So have I seen, (and hastened to the sight 
On all the wings of holiday delight,) 
Where stands that monument of ancient power, 
Named with emphatic dignity, the Tower, 550 

Guns, halberts, swords, and pistols, great and small, 
In starry forms disposed upon the wall ; 
We wonder, as we gazing stand below, 
That brass and steel should make so fine a show ; 
But though we praise the exact designer's skill, 
Account them implements of mischief still. 

No works shall find acceptance in that day 
When all disguises shall be rent away, 
That square not truly with the Scripture plan, 
Nor spring from love to God, or love to man. 560 

As He ordains things sordid in their birth 
To be resolved into their parent earth ; 



!28 CHARITY. 

And, though the soul shall seek superior orbs, 

Whate'er this world produces, it absorbs ; 

So self staits nothing, but what tends apace, 

Home to the goal, where it began the race. 

Such as our motive is, our aim must be ; 

If this be servile, that can ne'er be free : 

If self employ us, whatsoe'er is wrought, 

We glorify that self, not Him we ought ; 570 

Such virtues had need prove their own reward, 

The Judge of all men owes them no regard. 

True Charity, a plant divinely nursed, 

Fed by the love from which it rose at first, 

Thrives against hope, and in the rudest scene 

Storms but enliven its unfading green ; 

Exuberant is the shadow it supplies, 

Its fruit on earth, its growth above the skies. 

To look at Him, who formed us and redeemed, 

So glorious now, though once so disesteemed, 580 

To see a God stretch forth His human hand, 

To uphold the boundless scenes of His command ; 

To recollect, that, in a form like ours, 

He bruised beneath His feet the infernal powers, 

Captivity led captive, rose to claim 

The wreath He won so dearly in our name ; 

That, throned above all height, He condescends 

To call the few that trust in Him His friends ; 

That in the heaven of heavens, that space He deems 

Too scanty for the exertion of His beams, 590 

And shines, as if impatient to bestow 

Life and a kingdom upon worms below; 

That sight imparts a never-dying flame, 

Though feeble in degree, in kind the same. 

Like Him, the soul thus kindled from above 

Spreads wide her arms of universal love ; 

And, still enlarged as she receives the grace, 

Includes creation in her close embrace. 

Behold a Christian ! — and without the fires 

The Founder of that name alone inspires, 600 

Though all accomplishments, all knowledge meet, 

To make the shining prodigy complete, 

Whoever boasts that name — behold a cheat ! 

Were love, in these the world's last doting years, 
As frequent as the want of it appears, 
The churches warmed, they would no longer hold 
Such frozen figures, stiff as they are cold ; 
Relenting forms would lose their power, or cease ; 
And even the dipped and sprinkled live in peace : 
Each heart would quit its prison in the breast, 610 

And flow in free communion with the rest. 
The statesman, skilled in projects dark and deep, 
Might burn his useless Machiavel, and sleep ; 
His budget, often filled, yet always poor, 



( 0NVERSAT1PA. I2Q 



Might swing at ease behind his study door, 

No longer prey upon our annual rents, 

Nor scare the nation with its big contents : 

Disbanded legions freely might depart, 

And slaying man would cease to be an art. 

No learned disputants would take the field, 620 

Sure not to conquer, and sure not to yield ; 

Both sides deceived, if rightly understood, 

Pelting each other for the public good. 

Did Charity prevail, the press would prove 

A vehicle of virtue, truth, and love ; 

And I might spare myself the pains to show 

What few can learn, and all suppose they know. 

Thus have I sought to grace a serious lay 

With many a wild, indeed, but flowery spray, 

In hopes to gain, what else I must have lost, 63c 

The attention Pleasure has so much engrossed. 

But if, unhappily deceived, I dream, 

And prove too weak for so divine a theme, 

Let Charity forgive me a mistake, 

That zeal, not vanity, has chanced to make, 

And spare the poet for his subject sake. 



CONVERSATION. 

Nam neque me tantum venientis sibilus austri, 
Nee percussa juvant fluctU tam litora, nee qua; 
Saxosas inter decurrunt flumina valles. 

Virg. Eel. V. 

Though Nature weigh our talents, and dispense 

To every man his modicum of sense, 

And Conversation in its better part 

May be esteemed a gift, and not an art, 

Yet much depends, as in the tiller's toil, 

On culture, and the sowing of the soil. 

Words learned by rote a parrot may rehearse, 

But talking is not always to converse ; 

Not more distinct from harmony divine 

The constant creaking of a country sign. 10 

As alphabets in ivory employ, 

Hour after hour, the yet unlettered boy, 

Sorting and puzzling with a deal of glee 

Those seeds of science called his A B C, 

So language in the mouths of the adult, 

Witness its insignificant result, 

Too often proves an implement of play, 

A toy to sport with, and pass time away. 

Collect at evening what the day brought forth, 

Compress the sum into its solid worth, 20 



! 3 o CONVERSA TION. 



And if it weigh the importance of a fly, 

The scales are false, or algebra a lie. 

Sacred interpreter of human thought, 

How few respect or use thee as they ought ! 

But all shall give account of every wrong, 

Who dare dishonour or defile the tongue, 

Wini prostitute it in the cause of vice, 

( )r sell their glory at a market-price, 

Who vote for hire, or point it with lampoon, 

The dear-bought placeman, and the cheap buffoon. 30 

There is a prurience in the speech of some, 
Wrath stays Him, or else God would strike them dumb : 
His wise forbearance has their end in view, 
They fill their measure, and receive their due. 
The heathen lawgivers of ancient days, 
Names almost worthy of a Christian's praise, 
Would drive them forth from the resort of men, 
And shut up every satyr in his den. 
Oh come not ye near innocence and truth, 
Ye worms that eat into the bud of youth ! 40 

Infectious as impure, your blighting power 
Taints in its rudiments the promised flower ; 
Its odour perished and its charming hue, 
Thenceforth 'tis hateful, for it smells of you. 

Not even the vigorous and headlong rage 

Of adolescence, or a firmer age, 

Affords a plea allowable or just 

For making speech the pamperer of lust ; 

But when the breath of age commits the fault, 

"Tis nauseous as the vapour of a vault. 5° 

So withered stumps disgrace the sylvan scene, 

No longer fruitful, and no longer green ; 

The sapless wood, divested of the bark, 

Grows fungous, and takes fire at every spark. 
Oaths terminate, as Paul observes, all strife — 

Some men have surely then a peaceful life ; 

Whatever subject occupy discourse, 

The feats of Vestris, or the naval force, 

Asseveration blustering in your face 

Makes contradiction such a hopeless case. 60 

In every tale they tell, or false or true. 

Well known, or such as no man ever knew, 

They fix attention, heedless of your pain, 

With oaths like rivets forced into the brain ; 

And even when sober truth prevails throughout. 

They swear it, till affirmance breeds a doubt. 

A Persian, humble servant of the sun, 

Who though devout, yet bigotry had none, 

Hearing a lawyer, grave in his adi 

With adjurations every word impress, 70 

Supposed the man a bishop, or at least, 

God's name so much upon his lips, a priest ; 



CONVERSATION. 131 



Bowed at the close with all his graceful airs, 
And begged an interest in his frequent prayers. 

Go, quit the rank to which ye stood preferred, 
Henceforth associate in one common herd ; 
Religion, virtue, reason, common sense, 
Pronounce your human form a false pretence, 
A mere disguise in which a devil lurks, 
Who yet betrays his secret by his works. 80 

Ye powers who rule the tongue, if such there are, 
And make colloquial happiness your care, 
Preserve me from the thing I dread and hate, 
A duel in the form of a debate. 
The clash of arguments and jar of words, 
Worse than the mortal brunt of rival swords, 
Decide no question with their tedious length, 
(For opposition gives opinion strength,) 
Divert the champions prodigal of breath, 
And put the peaceably-disposed to death. 90 

Oh thwart me not, Sir Soph, at every turn, 
Xor carp at every flaw you may discern ; 
Though syllogisms hang not on my tongue, 
I am not surely always in the wrong ; 
'Tis hard if all is false that I advance, 
A fool must now and then be right by chance. 
Xot that all freedom of dissent I blame ; 
No, — there I grant the privilege I claim. 
A disputable point is no man's ground, 

Rove where you please, 'tis common all around. 100 

Discourse may want an animated No, 
To brush the surface, and to make it flow ; 
But still remember, if you mean to please, 
To press your point with modesty and ease. 
The mark at which my juster aim I take, 
Is contradiction for its own dear sake. 
Set your opinion at whatever pitch, 
Knots and impediments make something hitch ; 
Adopt his own, 'tis equally in vain, 

Your thread of argument is snapped again ; 1 ic 

The wrangler, rather than accord with you, 
Will judge himself deceived, — and prove it too. 
Yociferated logic kills me quite, 
A noisy man is always in the right ; 
I twirl my thumbs, fall back into my chair, 
Fix on the wainscot a distressful stare, 
And when I hope his blunders are all out, 
Reply discreetly, " To be sure — no doubt." 

Dubius is such a scrupulous good man, — 
Yes. you may catch him tripping if you can. 12c 

He would not with a peremptory tone 
Assert the nose upon his face his own ; 
With hesitation admirably slow, 
He humbly hopes — presumes — it may be so. 



132 COXVERSA TIOY. 



His evidence, if he were called by law 

To swear to some enormity he saw, 

For want of prominence and just relief, 

Would hang an honest man, and save a thief. 

Through constant dread of giving truth offence, 

He ties up all his hearers in suspense ; 130 

Knows what he knows, as if he knew it not ; 

What he remembers seems to have forgot ; 

His sole opinion, whatsoe'er befall, 

Centering at last in having none at all. 

Yet though he tease and baulk your listening ear, 

He makes one useful point exceeding clear; 

Howe'er ingenious on his darling theme 

A sceptic in philosophy may seem, 

Reduced to practice, his beloved rule 

Would only prove him a consummate fool ; 1 40 

Useless in him alike both brain and speech, 

Fate having placed all truth above his reach ; 

His ambiguities his total sum, 

He might as well be blind and deaf and dumb. 

Where men of judgment creep and feel their way, 
The positive pronounce without dismay, 
Their want of light and intellect supplied 
By sparks absurdity strikes out of pride : 
Without the means of knowing right from wrong, 
They always are decisive, clear, and strong; 150 

Where others toil with philosophic force, 
Their nimble nonsense takes a shorter course, 
Flings at your head conviction in the lump, 
And gains remote conclusions at a jump ; 
Their own defect, invisible to them, 
Seen in another, they at once condemn, 
And, though self-idolized in every case, 
Hate their own likeness in a brother's face. 
The cause is plain and not to be denied, 
The proud are always most provoked by pride ; 160 

Few competitions but engender spite, 
And those the most where neither has a right. 

The Point of Honour has been deemed of use, 
To teach good manners and to curb abuse ; 
Admit it true, the consequence is clear, 
Our polished manners are a mask we wear, 
And at the bottom, barbarous still and rude, 
We are restrained indeed, but not subdued. 
The very remedy, however sure, 

Springs from the mischief it intends to cure, 370 

And savage in its principle appears, 
Tried, as it should be, by the frail it bears. 
'Tis hard indeed, if nothing will defend 
Mankind from quarrels but their fatal end ; 
That now and then a hero must decease, 
That the surviving world may live in peace. 



CONl 'ERSA TION. 133 



Perhaps at last close scrutiny may show 

The practice dastardly, and mean, and low, 

That men engage in it compelled by force, 

And fear, not courage, is its proper source: 180 

The fear of tyrant custom, and the fear 

Lest fops should censure us, and fools should sneer. 

At least to trample on our Maker's laws, 

And hazard life for any or no cause, 

To rush into a fixed eternal state 

Out of the very flames of rage and hate, 

Or send another shivering to the bar 

With all the guilt of such unnatural war, 

Whatever use may urge, or honour plead, 

On reason's verdict is a madman's deed. 190 

Am I to set my life upon a throw, 

Because a bear is rude and surly? No. 

A moral, sensible, and well-bred man 

Will not affront me, — and no other can. 

Were I empowered to regulate the lists, 

They should encounter with well-loaded fists ; 

A Trojan combat would be something new, 

Let Dares beat Entellus black and blue ; 

Then each might show to his admiring friends 

In honourable bumps his rich amends, 200 

And carry in contusions of his skull 

A satisfactory receipt in full. 

A story in which native humour reigns 
Is often useful, always entertains ; 
A graver fact enlisted on your side 
May furnish illustration, well applied; 
But sedentary weavers of long tales 
Give me the fidgets, and my patience fails. 
'Tis the most asinine employ on earth, 

To hear them tell of parentage and birth, 219 

And echo conversations dull and dry, 
Embellished with — he said, and so said I. 
At every interview their route the same, 
The repetition makes attention lame; 
We bustle up with unsuccessful speed, 
And in the saddest part cry — " Droll indeed !" 
The path of narrative with care pursue, 
Still making probability your clue, 
On all the vestiges of truth attend, 

And let them guide you to a decent end. 220 

Of all ambitions man may entertain, 
The worst that can invade a sickly brain 
Is that which angles hourly for surprise, 
And baits its hook with prodigies and lies. 
Credulous infancy or age as weak 
Are fittest auditors for such to seek, 
Who to please others will themselves disgrace, 
Yet please not, but affront you to your face. 



1 34 CONVERSA 7 ION. 

A great retailer of this curious ware, 

Having unloaded, and made many stare, 250 

" Can this be true ?" an arch observer cries : 

" Yes" (rather moved), "J saw it with these eyes." 

" Sir ! I believe it on that ground alone ; 

I could not had I seen it with my own." 

A tale should be judicious, clear, succinct, 
The language plain, and incidents well linked. 
Tell not as new what everybody knows, 
And, new or old, still hasten to a close ; 
There, centering in a focus round and neat, 
Let all your rays of information meet. 240 

What neither yields us profit nor delight, 
Is like a nurse's lullaby at night ; 
Guy Earl of Warwick and fair Eleanore, 
Or giant-killing Jack, would please me more. 

The pipe, with solemn interposing puff, 
Makes half a sentence at a time enough ; 
The dozing sages drop the drowsy strain, 
Then pause, and puff — and speak, and pause again. 
Such often, like the tube they so admire, 
Important triflers ! have more smoke than fire. 250 

Pernicious weed ! whose scent the fair annoys, 
Unfriendly to society's chief joys, 
Thy worst effect is banishing for hours 
The sex whose presence civilizes ours. 
Thou art indeed the drug a gardener wants, 
To poison vermin that infest his plants ; 
But are we so to wit and beauty blind 
As to despise the glory of our kind, 
And show the softest minds and fairest forms 
As little mercy as he grubs and worms ? 260 

They dare not wait the riotous abuse 
Thy thirst-creating steams at length produce, 
When wine has given indecent language birth, 
And forced the flood-gates of licentious mirth! 
For sea-born Venus her attachment shows 
Still to that element from which she rose, 
And with a quiet which no fumes disturb, 
Sips meek infusions of a milder herb. 

The emphatic speaker dearly loves to oppose 
In contact inconvenient, nose to nose ; 270 

As if the gnomon on his neighbour's phiz, 
Touched with the magnet, had attracted his. 
Mis whispered theme, dilated and at large, 
Proves after all a wind-gun's airy charge, 
An extract of his diary — no more, 
A tasteless journal of the day before. 
He walked abroad, o'ertaken in the rain 
Called on a friend, drank tea, stepped home againj 
Resumed liis purpose, had a world of talk 
With one he stumbled on, and lost his walk. 280 



CONVEJRSA TfON. 135 



I interrupt him with a sudden bow, 

" Adieu, dear Sir ! lest you should lose it now." 

I cannot talk with civet in the ruom, 
A line puss-gentleman that's all perfume; 
The sight's enough — no need to smell a beau — 
Who thrusts his nose into a raree show ? 
His odoriferous attempts to please 
Perhaps might prosper with a swarm of bees ; 
But we that make no honey, though we sting, 
Poets, are sometimes apt to maul the thing. 290 

'Tis wrong to bring into a mixed resort 
What makes some sick, and others a-la-mort, 
An argument of cogence, we may say, 
Why such a one should keep himself away. 

A graver coxcomb we may sometimes see, 
Quite as absurd, though not so light as he : 
A shallow brain, behind a serious mask, 
An oracle within an empty cask, 
The solemn fop ; significant and budge ; 
A fool with judges, amongst fools a judge ; 300 

He says but little, and that little said 
Owes all its weight, like loaded dice, to lead. 
His wit invites you by his looks to come, 
But when you knock it never is at home : 
'Tis like a parcel sent you by the stage, 
Some handsome present, as your hopes presage ; 
'Tis heavy, bulky, and bids fair to prove 
An absent friend's fidelity and love ; 
But when unpacked, your disappointment groans 
To find it stuffed with brickbats, earth, and stones. 310 

Some men employ their health, an ugly trick, 
In making known how oft they have been sick, 
And give us in recitals of disease 
A doctor's trouble, but without the fees ; 
Relate how many weeks they kept their bed, 
How an emetic or cathartic sped ; 
Nothing is slightly touched, nvach less forgot, 
Nose, ears, and eyes seem present on the spot. 
Now the distemper, spite of draught or pill. 
Victorious seemed, and now the doctor's skill ; 320 

And now — alas for unforeseen mishaps ! 
They put on a damp nightcap and relapse ; 
They thought they must have died, they were so bad ; 
Their peevish hearers almost wish they had. 

Some fretful tempers wince at every touch, 
You always do too little or too much : 
You speak with life, in hopes to entertain, — 
Your elevated voice goes through the brain ; 
You fall at once into a lower key, — 

That's worse, the drone-pipe of an humble-bee. 330 

The southern sash admits too strong a light. 
You rise and drop the curtain — now 'tis night ; 



136 CONVERSATION. 

He shakes with cold ; — you stir the fire and strive 

To make a blaze — that's roasting him alive. 

Serve him with venison, and he chooses fish ; 

With sole — that's just the sort he would not wish : 

He takes what he at first profesaed to loathe, 

And in due time feeds heartily on both ; 

Yet still, o'erclouded with a constant frown, 

He does not swallow, but he gulps it down. 340 

Your hope to please him vain on every plan, 

Himself should work that wonder, if he can — 

Alas ! his efforts double his distress, 

He likes yours little, and his own still less. 

Thus always teasing others, always teased, 

His only pleasure is— to be displeased. 

I pity bashful men, who feel the pain 
Of fancied scorn and undeserved disdain, 
And bear the marks upon a blushing face 
Of needless shame, and self-imposed disgrace. 350 

Our sensibilities are so acute, 
The fear of being silent makes us mute. 
We sometimes think we could a speech produce 
Much to the purpose, if our tongues were loose ; 
But being tied, it dies upon the lip, 
Faint as a chicken's note that has the pip : 
Our wasted oil unprofitably burns, 
Like hidden lamps in old sepulchral urns. 
Few Frenchmen of this evil have complained ; 
It seems as if we Britons were ordained, 360 

By way of wholesome curb upon our pride, 
To fear each other, fearing none beside. 
The cause perhaps inquiry may descry, 
Self-searching with an introverted eye, 
Concealed within an unsuspected part, 
The vainest corner of our own vain heart : 
For ever aiming at the World's esteem, 
Our self-importance ruins its own scheme ; 
In other eyes our talents rarely shown, 

Become at length so splendid in our own, 370 

We dare not risk them into public view, 
Lest they miscarry of what seems their due. 
True modesty is a discerning grace, 
And only blushes in the proper place ; 
But counterfeit is blind, and skulks through fear, 
Where 'tis a shame to be ashamed to appear: 
Humility the parent of the first, 
The last by Vanity produced and nursed. 
The circle formed, we sit in silent slate, 

Like figures drawn upon a dial-plate; 380 

" Yes, Ma'am," and "No, Ma'am," uttered softly, show 
Every five minutes how the minutes go; 
Each individual, suffering a constraint 
Poetry may, but colours cannot paint, 



CONVERSATION. 



M7 



As if in close committee on the sky, 

Reports it hot or cold, or wet or dry ; 

And finds a changing clime a happy source 

Of wise reflection, and well-timed discourse. 

We next inquire, but softly and by stealth, 

Like conservators of the public health, 390 

Of epidemic throats, if such there are, 

And coughs, and rheums, and phthisic, and catarrh. 

That theme exhausted, a wide chasm ensues, 

Filled up at last with interesting news, 

Who danced with whom, and who are like to wed, 

And who is hanged, and who is brought to bed ; 

But fear to call a more important cause, 

As if 'twere treason against English laws. 

The visit paid, with ecstasy we come, 

As from a seven years' transportation, home, 400 

And there resume an unembarrassed brow, 

Recovering what we lost we know not how, 

The faculties that seemed reduced to nought, 

Expression and the privilege of thought. 

The reeking, roaring hero of the chase, 
I give him over as a desperate case. 
Physicians write in hopes to work a cure, 
Never, if honest ones, when death is sure ; 
And though the fox he follows may be tamed, 
A mere fox-follower never is reclaimed. 410 

Some farrier should prescribe his proper course, 
Whose only fit companion is his horse, 
Or if, deserving of a better doom, 
The noble beast judge otherwise, his groom. 
Yet even the rogue that serves him, though he stand, 
To take his honour's orders, cap in hand, 
Prefers his fellow-grooms, with much good sense ; 
Their skill a truth, his master's a pretence. 
If neither horse nor groom affect the squire, 
Where can at last his jockeyship retire? 420 

Oh to the club, the scene of savage joys, 
The school of coarse good fellowship and noise ; 
There, in the sweet society of those 
Whose friendship from his boyish years he chose, 
Let him improve his talent if he can, 
Till none but beasts acknowledge him a man. 

Man's heart had been impenetrably sealed, 
Like theirs that cleave the flood or graze the field, 
Had not his Maker's all-bestowing hand 
Given him a soul, and bade him understand ; 430 

The reasoning power vouchsafed of course inferred 
The power to clothe that reason with his word ; 
For all is perfect that God works on earth, 
And He that gives conception aids the birth. 
If this be plain, 'tis plainly understood, 
What uses of his boon the Giver would. , 



1 38 CO \ T VERSA TIOX. 



The Mind, despatched upon her busy toil, 

Should range where Providence has blessed the soil ; 

Visiting every flower with labour meet, 

And gathering all her treasures sweet by sweet, 440 

She should imbue the tongue with what she sips, 

And shed the balmy blessing on the lips, 

That good diffused may more abundant grow, 

And speech may praise the power that bids it flow. 

Will the sweet warbler of the livelong night, 

That fills the listening lover with delight, 

Forget his harmony, with rapture heard, 

To learn the twittering of a meaner bird? 

Or make the parrot's mimicry his choice, 

That odious libel on a human voice? 450 

No — Nature, unsophisticate by man, 

Starts not aside from her Creator's plan ; 

The melody that was at first designed 

To cheer the rude forefathers of mankind, 

Is note for note delivered in our ears, 

In the last scene of her six thousand years. 

Yet Fashion, leader of a chattering train, 

Whom man for his own hurt permits to reign, 

Who shifts and changes all things but his shape, 

And would degrade her votary to an ape, 460 

The fruitful parent of abuse and wrong, 

Holds a usurped dominion o'er his tongue ; 

There sits and prompts him with his own disgrace, 

Prescribes the theme, the tone, and the grimace. 

And, when accomplished in her wayward school, 

Calls gentleman whom she has made a fool. 

'Tis an unalterable fixed decree, 

That none could frame or ratify but she, 

That Heaven and Hell, and righteousness and sin, 

Snares in his path, and foes that lurk within, 470 

God and His attributes (a field of day 

Where 'tis an angel's happiness to stray), 

Fruits of his love and wonders of his might. 

Be never named in ears esteemed polite. 

That he who dare.-., when she forbids, be grave, 

Shall stand proscribed a madman or a knave, 

A close designer not to be believed, 

Or, if excused that charge, at least deceived. 

Oh folly worthy of the nurse's lap, 

Give it the breast, or stop its mouth with pap I 480 

Is it incredible, or can it seem 

A dream to any. except those that dream, 

That man should love his Maker, and that fire, 

Warming his heart, should at his lips transpire? 

Know then, and modestly let fall your eyes. 

And veil your daring crest that braves the skies, 

That air of insolence affronts your God, 

You need his pardon, and provoke his rod : 



CONVERSATION. ijg 

Now, in a posture that becomes you more 

Than that heroic strut assumed before, 490 

Know, your arrears with every hour accrue 

For mercy shown, while wrath is justly due. 

The time is short, and there are souls on earth, 

Though future pain may serve for present mirth, 

Acquainted with the woes that fear or shame, 

By Fashion taught, forbade them once to name, 

And, having felt the pangs you deem a jest, 

Have proved them truths too big to be expressed. 

Go seek on Revelation's hallowed ground, 

Sure to succeed, the remedy they found ; 500 

Touched by that power that you have dared to mock, 

That makes seas stable, and dissolves the rock, 

Your heart shall yield a life-renewing stream, 

That fools, as you have done, shall call a dream. 

It happened on a solemn eventide, 
Soon after He that was our surety died, 
Two bosom friends, each pensively inclined, 
The scene of all those sorrows left behind, 
Sought their own village, busied as they went 
In musings worthy of the great event: 510 

They spake of him they loved, of him whose life, 
Though blameless, had incurred perpetual strife, 
Whose deeds had left, in spite of hostile arts, 
A deep memorial graven on their hearts. 
The recollection, like a vein of ore, 
The farther traced, enriched them still the more ; 
They thought him, and they justly thought him, one 
Sent to do more than he appeared to have done, 
To exalt a people, and to place them high 
Above all else, and wondered he should die. 5 20 

Ere yet they brought their journey to an end, 
A stranger joined them, courteous as a friend, 
And asked them with a kind engaging air 
What their affliction was, and begged a share. 
Informed, he gathered up the broken thread, 
And, truth and wisdom gracing all he said, 
Explained, illustrated, and searched so well 
The tender theme, on which they chose to dwell, 
That reaching home, " The night," they said, " is near, 
We must not now be parted, sojourn here." 530 

The new acquaintance soon became a guest, 
And, made so welcome at their simple feast, 
He blessed the bread, but vanished at the word, 
And left them both exclaiming, " ; Twas the Lord ! 
Did not our hearts feel all he deigned to say, 
Did they not burn within us by the way? " 

Xow theirs was converse such as it behoves 
Man to maintain, and such as God approves : 
Their views indeed were indistinct and dim, 
But yet successful, being aimed at him, 540 



i 4 o CONVERSATION. 



Christ and his character their only scope, 
Their object, and their subject, and their hope, 
They felt what it became them much to feel, 
And wanting him to loose the sacred seal, 
Found him as prompt, as their desire was true, 
To spread the newborn glories in their view. 

Well — what are ages and the lapse of time 
Matched against truths as lasting as sublime ? 
Can length of years on God himself exact ? 
Or make that fiction, which was once a fact ? 550 

No — marble and recording brass decay, 
And like the graver's memory pass away ; 
The works of man inherit, as is just, 
Their author's frailty, and return to dust : 
But truth divine for ever stands secure, 
Its head as guarded as its base is sure ; 
Fixed in the rolling flood of endless years 
The pillar of the eternal plan appears, 
The raving storm and dashing wave defies, 
Built by that Architect who built the skies. 560 

Hearts may be found, that harbour at this hour 
That love of Christ in all its quickening power, 
And lips unstained by folly or by strife, 
Whose wisdom, drawn from the deep well of life, 
Tastes of its healthful origin, and flows 
A Jordan for the ablution of our woes. 
O days of heaven, and nights of equal praise, 
Serene and peaceful as those heavenly days, 
When souls drawn upwards, in communion sweet, 
Enjoy the stillness of some close retreat, 570 

Discourse, as if released and safe at home, 
Of dangers past, and wonders yet to come, 
And spread the sacred treasures of the breast 
Upon the lap of covenanted rest. 

"What, always dreaming over heavenly things, 
Like angel-heads in stone with pigeon-wings ? 
Canting and whining out all day the word, 
And half the night ? fanatic and absurd ! 
Mine be the friend less frequent in his prayers, 
Who makes no bustle with his soul's affairs, 580 

Whose wit can brighten up a wintry clay, 
And chase the splenetic dull hours away ; 
Content on earth in earthly things to shine, 
Who waits for heaven ere he becomes divine, 
Leaves saints to enjoy those altitudes they teach, 
And plucks the fruit placed more within his reach." 

Well spoken, advocate of sin and shame, 
Known by thy bleating, Ignorance thy name. 
Is sparkling wit the worlds exclusive right? 
The fixed fee-simple of the vain and light ? 590 

Cnn hopes of heaven, bright prospects of an hour 
That comes to waft us out of sorrow's power, 



CONVERSATION. 



141 



Obscure or quench a faculty, that finds 

Its happiest soil in the serenest mind- ? 

Religion curbs indeed its wanton play, 

And brings the triller under rigorous sway, 

But gives it usefulness unknown before, 

And purifying, makes it shine the more. 

A Christian's wit is inoffensive light, 

A beam that aids but never grieves the sight ; 600 

Vigorous in age as in the flush of youth, 

'Tis always active on the side of truth ; 

Temperance and peace insure its healthful state, 

And make it brightest at its latest date. 

Oh I have seen (nor hope perhaps in vain, 

Ere life go down, to see such sights again) 

A veteran warrior in the Christian field, 

Who never saw the sword he could not wield ; 

Grave without dulness, learned without pride, 

Exact, yet not precise, though meek, keen-eyed ; 610 

A man that would have foiled at their own play 

A dozen would-be's of the modern day ; 

Who, when occasion justified its use, 

Had wit as bright as ready to produce, 

Could fetch from records of an earlier age, 

Or from philosophy's enlightened page, 

His rich materials, and regale your ear 

With strains it was a privilege to hear ! 

Yet above all his luxury supreme, 

And his chief glory, was the gospel theme ; 620 

There he was copious as old Greece or Rome, 

His happy eloquence seemed there at home, 

Ambitious not to shine or to excel, 

But to treat justly what he loved so well. 

It moves me more perhaps than folly ought, 
When some green heads, as void of wit as thought, 
Suppose themselves monopolists of sense, 
And wiser men's abdity pretence. 
Though time will wear us, and we must grow old, 
Such men are not forgot as soon as cold, 630 

Their fragrant memory will outlast their tomb, 
Embalmed for ever in its own perfume. 
And to say truth, though in its early prime, 
And when unstained with any grosser crime, 
Youth has a sprightliness and fire to boast, 
That in the valley of decline are lost, 
And Virtue with pecidiar charms appears, 
Crowned with the garland of life's blooming years ; 
Yet Age, by long experience well informed, 
Well read, well tempered, with religion warmed, 640 

That fire abated, which impels rash youth, 
Proud of his speed, to overshoot the truth, 
As time improves the grape's authentic juice, 
Mellows and makes the speech more fit for use, 



142 CONVERSA TION. 



And claims a reverence in its shortening clay, 

That 'tis an honour and a joy to pay. 

The fruits of age, less fair, are yet more sound 

Than those a brighter season pours around ; 

And, like the stores autumnal suns mature, 

Through wintry rigours unimpaired endure. 650 

What is fanatic frenzy, scorned so much, 
And dreaded more than a contagious touch ? 
I grant it dangerous, and approve your fear, 
That fire is catching if you draw too near ; 
But sage observers oft mistake the flame, 
And give true piety that odious name. 
To tremble (as the creature of an hour 
Ought at the view of an Almighty power) 
Before His presence, at whose awful throne 
All tremble in all worlds, except our own ; 660 

To supplicate his mercy, love his ways, 
And prize them above pleasure, wealth, or praise, 
Though common sense, allowed a casting voice, 
And free from bias, must approve the choice, 
Convicts a man fanatic in the extreme, 
And wild as madness in the world's esteem. 
But that disease, when soberly defined, 
Is the false fire of an o'erheated mind ; 
It views the truth with a distorted eye, 

And either warps or lays it useless by ; 670 

'Tis narrow, selfish, arrogant, and draws 
Its sordid nourishment from man's applause ; 
And while at heart sin unrelinquished lies, 
Presumes itself chief favourite of the skies. 
'Tis such a light as putrefaction breeds 
In fly-blown flesh, whereon the maggot feeds, 
Shines in the dark, but, ushered into day, 
The stench remains, the lustre dies away. 

True bliss, if man may reach it, is composed 
Of hearts in union mutually disclosed ; 680 

And, farewell else all hope of pure delight, 
Those hearts should be reclaimed, renewed, upright. 
Bad men, profaning friendship's hallowed name, 
Form, in its stead, a covenant of shame, 
A dark confederacy against the laws 
Of virtue, and religion's glorious cause : 
They build each other up with dreadful skill, 
As bastions set point blank against Cod's will ; 
Enlarge and fortify the dread redoubt, 

Deeply resolved to shut a Saviour out : 690 

Call legions up from hell to back the deed ; 
And, curst with conquest, finally succeed. 
But souls that carry on a blest exchange 
Of joys they meet with in their heavenly range, 
And with a fearless confidence make known 
The sorrows sympathy esteems its own, 



C0NVEMSAT10N. 143 



I >aily derive increasing light and force 

From such communion in their pleasant course, 

Feel less the journey's roughness and its length, 

Meet their opposers with united strength, 700 

And, one in heart, in interest, and design, 

Gird up each other to the race divine. 

But Conversation, choose what theme we ir&y, 
And chiefly when religion leads the way, 
Should flow, like waters after summer showers, 
Not as if raised by mere mechanic powers. 
The Christian in whose soul, though now distressed, 
Lives the dear thought of joys he once possessed, 
When all his glowing language issued forth 
With God's deep stamp upon its current worth, 710 

"Will speak without disguise, and must impart, 
Sad as it is, his undissembling heart, 
Abhors constraint, and dares not feign a zeal, 
Or seem to boast a fire he does not feel. 
The song of Sion is a tasteless thing, 
Unless, when rising on a joyful wing, 
The soul can mix with the celestial bands, 
And give the strain the compass it demands. 

Strange tidings these to tell a world, who treat 
All but their own experience as deceit ! 720 

Will they believe, though credulous enough 
To swallow much upon much weaker proof, 
That there are blest inhabitants of earth, 
Partakers of a new ethereal birth, 
Their hopes, desires, and purposes estranged 
From things terrestrial, and divinely changed, 
Their very language of a kind that speaks 
The soul's sure interest in the good she seeks', 
Who deal with Scripture, its importance felt, 
As Tully with philosophy once dealt, 730 

And in the silent watches of the night, 
And through the scenes of toil-renewing light, 
The social walk, or solitary ride, 
Keep still the dear companion at their side ? 
No — shame upon a self-disgracing age, 
< rod's work may serve an ape upon a stage 
With such a jest as filled with hellish glee 
Certain invisibles as shrewd as he ; 
But veneration or respect finds none, 

Save from the subjects of that work alone. 740 

The world grown old her deep discernment shows, 
Claps spectacles on her sagacious nose, 
Peruses closely the true Christian's face, 
And finds it a mere mask of sly grimace ; 
Usurps God's office, lays his bosom bare, 
And finds hypocrisy close-lurking there ; 
And, serving God herself through mere constraint, 
Concludes his unfeigned love of him a feint. 



144 CONVERSA TIO\ '. 

And yet, God knows, look human nature through, 

(And in due time the world shall know it too) 75° 

That since the flowers of Eden felt the blast, 

That after man's defection laid all waste, 

Sincerity towards the heart-searching God 

Has made the new-born creature her abode, 

Nor shall be found in ujiregenerate souls, 

Till the last fire burn all between the poles. 

Sincerity ! Why 'tis his only pride ; 

Weak and imperfect in all grace beside, 

He knows that God demands his heart entire, 

And gives him all his just demands require. "]do 

Without it, his pretensions were as vain, 

As, having it, he deems the world's disdain ; 

That great defect would cost him not alone 

Man's favourable judgment, but his own ; 

His birthright shaken, and no longer clear, 

Than while his conduct proves his heart sincere. 

Retort the charge, and let the world be told 

She boasts a confidence she does not hold ; 

That, conscious of her crimes, she feels instead 

A cold misgiving, and a killing dread : 770 

That while in health the ground of her support 

Is madly to forget that life is short ; 

That sick she trembles, knowing she must die, 

Her hope presumption, and her faith a lie ; 

That while she dotes, and dreams that she believes, 

She mocks her Maker, and herself- deceives, 

Her utmost reach, historical assent, 

The docrines warped to what they never meant ; 

That truth itself is in her head as dull 

And useless as a candle in a skull, 780 

And all her love of God a groundless claim, 

A trick upon the canvas, painted flame. 

Tell her again, the sneer upon her face, 

And all her censures of the work of grace, 

Are insincere, meant only to conceal 

A dread she would not, yet is forced to feel ; 

That in her heart the Christian she reveres, 

And while she seems to scorn him, only fears. 

A poet does not work by square or line, 
As smiths and joiners perfect a design ; 790 

At least we moderns, our attention less, 
Beyond the example of our sires digress, 
And claim a right to scamper and run wide, 
Wherever chance, caprice, or fancy guide. 
The world and I fortuitously met ; 
I owed a trifle and have paid the debt ; 
She did me wrong, I recompensed the deed. 
And, having struck the balance, now proceed. 
Perhaps however as some years have passed 
Since she and I conversed together last, 800 






CONVERSATION. •■; 



And I have lived recluse in mral shades. 
Which seldom a distinct report pervade- ; 
Great changes and new manners have occurred, 
And blest reforms, that I have never heard, 
And she may now be as discreet and wise, 

ice absurd in all discerning eyes. 
Sobriety perhaps may now be found, 
Where once intoxication pressed the ground : 
The subtle and injurious may be just, 

And he grown chaste that was the slave of lust ; , Sio 

Arts once esteemed may be with shame dismissed, 
Charity may relax the misers fist. 
The gamester may have cast his cards away, 
Forgot to curse, and only kneel to pray. 
It has indeed been told me (with what weight, 
How credibly, 'tis hard for me to state) 
That fables old, that seemed for ever mute, 
Revived are hastening into fresh repute, 
And gods and goddesses discarded long 

Like useless lumber, or a stroller's song, S20 

Are bringing into vogue their heathen train, 
And Jupiter bids fair to rule again ; 
That certain feasts are instituted now, 
Where Venus hears the lover's tender vow ; 
That all Olympus through the country roves. 
To consecrate our few remaining groves, 
And echo learns politely to repeat 
The praise of names for ages obsolete ; 
That having proved the weakness, it should seem, 
Of Revelation's ineffectual beam, S:o 

To bring the passions under sober sway, 
And give the moral springs their proper play, 
They mean to try what may at last be done 
By stout substantial gods of wood and stone, 
And whether Roman rites may not produce 
The virtues of old Rome for English use. 
May much success attend the pious plan, 
May Mercury once more embellish man, 
Grace him again with long forgotten arts, 
Reclaim his taste, and brighten up his part-, 840 

Make him athletic as in days of old, 
Learned at the bar, in the palcestra bold, 
Divest the rougher sex of female airs, 
And teach the softer not to copy theirs : 
The change shall please, nor shall it matter aught 
Who works the wonder, if it be but wrought. 
'Tis time, however, if the case stand thus, 
For us plain folks, and all who side with us, 
To build our altar, confident and bold, 

And say as stern Elijah said of old, S50 

" The strife now stands upon a fair award, 
If Israel's Lord be God, then serve the Lord : 



1 46 CON VERSA TIOX. 

If He be silent, faith is all a whim ; 
Then Baal is the God, and worship him." 

Digression is so much in modern use, 
Thought is so rare, and fancy so profuse, 
Some never seem so wide of their intent, 
As when returning to the theme they meant ; 
As mendicants, whose business is to roam, 
Make every parish but their own their home. 860 

Though such continual zigzags in a book, 
Such drunken reelings, have an awkward look, 
And I had rather creep to what is true 
Than rove and stagger with no mark in view ; 
Yet to consult a little seemed no crime, 
The freakish humour of the present time : 
But now, to gather up what seems dispersed, 
And touch the subject I designed at first, 
May prove, though much beside the rules of art, 
Best for the public, and my wisest part. 870 

And first, let no man charge me, that I mean 
To clothe in sables every social scene, 
And give good company a face severe, 
As if they met around a father's bier ; 
For tell some men that pleasure all their bent, 
And laughter all their work, is life misspent, 
Their wisdom bursts into this sage reply, 
" Then mirth is sin, and we should always cry." 
To find the medium asks some share of wit, 
And therefore 'tis a mark fools never hit. 880 

But though life's valley be a vale of tears, 
A brighter scene beyond that vale appears, 
Whose glory, with a light that never fades, 
Shoots between scattered rocks and opening shades, 
And, while it shows the land the soul desires, 
The language of the land she seeks inspires. 
Thus touched, the tongue receives a sacred cure 
Of all that was absurd, profane, impure ; 
Held within modest bounds, the tide of speech 
Pursues the course that truth and nature teach, S90 

No longer labours merely to produce 
The pomp of sound, or tinkle without use : 
Where'er it winds, the salutary stream, 
Sprightly and fresh, enriches every theme, 
While all the happy man possessed before, 
The gift of nature, or the classic store, 
Is made subservient to the grand design 
For which Heaven formed the faculty divine. 
So should an idiot, while at large he strays, 
Find the sweet lyre on which an artist plays, 900 

With rash and awkward force the chords he shakes, 
And grins witli wonder at the jar he makes ; 
But let the wise and well-instructed hand 
Unce take the shell beneath its just command, 



RETIREMENT. r : 



In gentle sounds it seems as it complained 

Of the rude injuries it late sustained, 

Till tuned at length to some immortal song, 

It sounds Jehovah's name, and pours his praise along. 



RETIREMENT. 



studiis florens ignobilis oti. 

Vikg. Georg. lib. iv. 

Hackneyed in business, wearied at that oar 

Which thousands, once fast chained to, quit no more, 

But which, when life at ebb runs weak and low, 

All wish, or seem to wish, they could forego ; 

The statesman, lawyer, merchant, man of trade, 

Pants for the refuge of some rural shade, 

Where, all his long anxieties forgot 

Amid the charms of a sequestered spot, 

Or recollected only to gild o'er 

And add a smile to what was sweet before, 

He may possess the joys he thinks he sees, 

Lay his old age upon the lap of Ease, 

Improve the remnant of his wasted span, 

And, having lived a trifler, die a man. 

Thus Conscience pleads her cause within the breast, 

Though long rebelled against, not yet suppressed, 

And calls a creature formed for God alone, 

For heaven's high purposes, and not his own, 

Calls him away from selfish ends and aims, 

From what debilitates and what inflames, 

From cities humming with a restless crowd, 

Sordid as active, ignorant as loud, 

Whose highest praise is that they live in vain, 

The dupes of pleasure, or the slaves of gain, 

Where works of man are clustered close around. 

And works of God are hardly to be found, 

To regions where, in spite of sin and woe, 

Traces of Eden are still seen below, 

Where mountain, river, forest, field and grove, 

Remind him of his Maker's power and love. 

'Tis well if, looked for at so late a day, 

In the last scene of such a senseless play, 

True wisdom will attend his feeble call, 

And grace his action ere the curtain fall. 

Souls that have long despised their heavenly birth, 

Their wishes all impregnated with Earth, 

For threescore years employed with ceaseless care 

In catching smoke and feeding upon air, 

Conversant only with the ways of men, 

Rarely redeem the short remaining ten. 



148 RETIREMENT. 



Inveterate habits choke the unfruitful heart, 

Their fibres penetrate its tenderest part, 

And, draining its nutritious powers to feed 

Their noxious growth, starve every better seed. 
Happy, if full of days — but happier far, 

If, ere we yet discern life's evening star, 

Sick of the service of a world that feeds 

Its patient drudges with dry chaff and weeds, 

We can escape from Custom's idiot sway, 

To serve the Sovereign we were born to obey. 50 

Then sweet to muse upon his skill displayed 

(Infinite skill) in all that He has made ! 

To trace in Nature's most minute design 

The signature and stamp of power divine, 

Contrivance intricate, expressed with ease, 

Where unassisted sight no beauty sees, 

The shapely limb and lubricated joint, 

Within the small dimensions of a point, 

Muscle and nerve miraculously spun, 

His mighty work who speaks and it is done, 60 

The Invisible in things scarce seen revealed, 

To whom an atom is an ample field ; 

To wonder at a thousand insect forms, 

These hatched, and those resuscitated worms, 

New life ordained and brighter scenes to share, 

Once prone on earth, now buoyant upon air, 

Whose shape would make them, had they bulk and size, 

More hideous foes than fancy can devise ; 

With helmet heads, and dragon scales adorned, 

The mighty myriads, now securely scorned, 70 

Would mock the majesty of man's high birth, 

Despise his bulwarks, and unpeople earth : 

Then with a glance of fancy to survey, 

Far as the faculty can stretch away, 

Ten thousand rivers poured at his command 

From urns, that never fail, through every land ; 

These like a deluge with impetuous force, 

Those winding modestly a silent course ; 

The cloud-surmounting Alps, the fruitful vales ; 

Seas, on which every nation spreads her sails ; 80 

The sun, a world whence other worlds drink light, 

The crescent moon, the diadem of night ; 

Stars countless, each in his appointed place, 

Fast anchored in the deep abyss of space — 

At such a sight to catch the poet's flame, 

And with a rapture like his own exclaim, 

" These are thy glorious works, thou Source of good, 

How dimly seen, how faintly understood ! 

Thine, and upheld by thy paternal care, 

This universal frame, thus wondrous fair ; 90 

Thy power divine, and bounty beyond thought, 

Adored and praised in all that thou hast wrought. 



RETIREMENT. 149 



Absorbed in that immensity I see, 

I shrink abased, and yet aspire to thee ; 

Instruct me, guide me to that heavenly day 

Thy words, more clearly than thy works, display, 

That, while thy truths my grosser thoughts refine, 

I may resemble thee, and call thee mine." 

O blest proficiency ! surpassing all 
That men erroneously their glory call, 100 

The recompense that arts or arms can yield, 
The bar, the senate, or the tented field. 
Compared with this sublimest life below, 
Ye kings and rulers, what have courts to show? 
Thus studied, used and consecrated thus, 
On earth what is, seems formed indeed for us : 
Not as the plaything of a froward child, 
Fretful unless diverted and beguiled, 
Much less to feed and fan the fatal fires 

Of pride, ambition, or impure desires, no 

But as a scale, by which the soul ascends 
From mighty means to more important ends, 
Securely, though by steps but rarely trod, 
Mounts from inferior beings up to God, 
And sees, by no fallacious light or dim, 
Earth made for man, and man himself for Him. 

Not that I mean to approve, or would enforce, 
A superstitious and monastic course : 
Truth is not local, God alike pervades 

And fills the world of traffic and the shades, 120 

And may be feared amid the busiest scenes, 
Or scorned where business never intervenes. 
But 'tis not easy with a mind like ours, 
Conscious of weakness in its noblest powers, 
And in a world where, other ills apart, 
The roving eye misleads the careless heart, 
To limit Thought, by nature prone to stray 
Wherever freakish Fancy points the way ; 
To bid the pleadings of Self-love be still, 
Resign our own, and seek our Maker's will ; 130 

To spread the page of Scripture, and compare 
Our conduct with the laws engraven there ; 
To measure all that passes in the breast, 
Faithfully* fairly, by that sacred test ; 
To dive into the secret deeps within, 
To spare no passion and no favourite sin, 
And search the themes, important above all, 
Ourselves, and our recovery from our fall. 
But leisure, silehce, and a mind released 
From anxious thoughts how wealth may be increased, I40 
How to secure, in some propitious hour, 
The point of interest or the post of power, 
A soul serene, and equally retired 
From objects too much dreaded or desired, 



'So RETIREMENT. 



Safe from the clamours of perverse dispute, 

At least are friendly to the great pursuit. 
Opening the map of God's extensive plan, 

We find a little isle, this life of man ; 

Eternity's unknown expanse appears 

Circling around and limiting his years. 150 

The busy race examine and explore 

Each creek and cavern of the dangerous shore, 

With care collect what in their eyes excels, 

Some shining pebbles, and some weeds and shells ; 

Thus laden, dream that they are rich and great, 

And happiest he that groans beneath his weight : 

The waves o'ertake them in their serious play, 

And every hour sweeps multitudes away ; 

They shriek and sink, survivors start and weep, 

Pursue their sport, and follow to the deep. 16c 

A few forsake the throng ; with lifted eyes 

Ask wealth of Heaven, and gain a real prize, 

Truth, wisdom, grace, and peace like that above, 

Sealed with His signet whom they serve and love ; 

Scorned by the rest, with patient hope they wait 

A kind release from their imperfect state, 

And unregretted are soon snatched away 

From scenes of sorrow into glorious day. 

Nor these alone prefer a life recluse, 
Who seek retirement for its proper use ; 170 

The love of change that lives in every breast, 
Genius, and temper, and desire of rest, 
Discordant motives in one centre meet, 
And each inclines its votary to retreat. 
Some minds by nature are averse to noise, 
And hate the tumult half the world enjoys, 
The lure of avarice, or the pompous prize, 
That courts display before ambitious eyes ; 
The fruits that hang on pleasure's flowery stem, 
Whate'er enchants them, are no snares to them. 180 

To them the deep recess of dusky groves, 
Or forest where the deer securely roves, 
The fall of waters and the song of birds, 
And hills that echo to the distant herds, 
Are luxuries excelling all the glare 
The world can boast, and her chief favourites share. 
With eager step, and carelessly arrayed, 
For such a cause the poet seeks the shade : 
From all he sees he catches new delight, 
Pleased fancy claps her pinions at the sight ; 190 

The rising or the setting orb of day, 
The clouds that flit, or slowly float away, 
Nature in all the various shapes she wears, 
Frowning in storms, or breathing gentle airs, 
The snowy robe her wintry state assumes, 
Her summer heats, her fruits, and her perfumes, 



RETIREMENT. 151 



All, all alike, transport the glowing hard, 

Success in rhyme his glory and reward. 

O Nature ! whose Elysian scenes disclose 

His bright perfections, at whose word they rose, 200 

Next to that Power, who formed thee and sustains, 

Be thou the great inspirer of my strains, 

Still, as I touch the lyre, do thou expand 

Thy genuine charms, and guide an artless hand, 

That I may catch a tire but rarely known, 

Give useful light, though I should mi^s renown, 

And, poring on thy page, whose every line 

Bears proof of an intelligence divine, 

May feel a heart enriched by what it pays, 

That builds its glory on its Maker's praise. 210 

Woe to the man whose wit disclaims its use, 

Glittering in vain, or only to seduce, 

Who studies nature with a wanton eye, 

Admires the work, but slips the lesson by ; 

His hours of leisure and recess employs 

In drawing pictures of forbidden joys, , 

Retires to blazon his own worthless name, 

Or shoot the careless with a surer aim. 

The lover too shuns business and alarms, 
Tender idolater of absent charms. 220 

Saints offer nothing in their warmest prayers 
That he devotes not with a zeal like theirs ; 
Tis consecration of his heart, soul, time, 
And every thought that wanders is a crime. 
In sighs he worships his supremely fair, 
And weeps a sad libation in despair, 
Adores a creature, and, devout in vain, 
Wins in return an answer of disdain. 
As woodbine weds the plants within her reach, 
Rough elm, or smooth-grained ash, or glossy beech, 230 

In spiral rings ascends the trunk, and lays 
Her golden tassels on the leafy sprays, 
But does a mischief while she lends a grace, 
Straitening its growth by such a strict embrace ; 
So Love, that clings around the noblest minds, 
Forbids the advancement of the soul he binds ; 
The suitor's air indeed he soon improves, 
And forms it to the taste of her he loves, 
Teaches his eyes a language, and no less 
Refines his speech, and fashions his address ; 240 

But farewell promises of happier fruits, 
Manly designs, and learning's grave pursuits ; 
Girt with a chain he cannot wish to break, 
His only bliss is sorrow for her sake ; 
Who will may pant for glory and excel, 
Her smile his aim, all higher aims farewell ! 
Thyrsis, Alexis, or whatever name 
May least offend against so pure a flame, 



RETIREMENT. 



Though sage advice of friends the most sincere 

Sound harshly in so delicate an ear, 250 

And lovers, of all creatures, tame or wild. 

Can least brook management, however mild, 

Yet let a poet (poetry disarms 

The fiercest animals with magic charms) 

Risk an intrusion on thy pensive mood, 

And woo and win thee to thy proper good. 

Pastoral images and still retreats, 

Umbrageous walks and solitary seats, 

Sweet birds in concert with harmonious streams, 

Soft airs, nocturnal vigils, and day dreams, 260 

Are all enchantments in a case like thine, 

Conspire against thy peace with one design, 

Soothe thee to make thee but a surer prey, 

And feed the fire that wastes thy powers away. 

Up — God has formed thee with a wiser view, 

Not to be led in chains, but to subdue ; 

Calls thee to cope with enemies, and first 

Points out a conflict with thyself, the worst. 

Woman indeed, a gift he would bestow 

When he designed a paradise below, 270 

The richest earthly boon his hands afford, 

Deserves to be beloved, but not adored. 

Post away swiftly to more active scenes, 

Collect the scattered truths that study gleans, 

Mix with the world, but with its wiser part, 

No longer give an image all thine heart ; 

Its empire is not hers, nor is it thine, 

'Tis God's just claim, prerogative divine. 

Virtuous and faithful Heberden, whose skill 
Attempts no task it cannot well fulfil, 280 

Gives melancholy up to nature's care, 
And sends the patient into purer air. 
Look where he comes — in this embowered alcove, 
Stand close concealed, and see a statue move : 
Lips busy, and eyes fixed, foot falling slow, 
Arms hanging idly down, hands clasped below, 
Interpret to the marking eye distress, 
Sucli as its symptoms can alone express. 
That tongue is silent now ; that silent tongue 
Could argue once, could jest or join the song, 290 

Could give advice, could censure or commend, 
Or charm the sorrows of a drooping friend. 
Renounced alike its office and its sport, 
Its brisker ami its graver strains fall short ; 
Both fail beneath a fever's secret sway, 
And like a summer brook are past away. 
This is a sight for Pity to peruse, 
Till she resemble faintly what she < 
Till Sympath) 1 ontract a kindred pain, 
Pierced with that she laments in vai 300 



RETIREMENT. 153 



This, of all maladies that man infest, 

( hums must compassion, and receives the least : 
Job felt it, when he groaned beneath the rod 

And the barbed arrows of a frowning God ; 

And such emollients as his friends could spare, 

Friends such as his for modern Jobs prepare. 

Blest, rather curst, with hearts that never feel, 

Kept snug in caskets of close hammered steel, 

With mouths made only to grin wide and eat, 

And minds that deem derided pain a treat; 310 

With limbs of British oak, and nerves of wire, 

And wit, that puppet-prompters might inspire, 

Their sovereign nostrum is a clumsy joke 

On pangs enforced with God's severest stroke. 

But with a soul, that ever felt the sting 

Of sorrow, sorrow is a sacred thing : 

Not to molest, or irritate, or raise 

A laugh at its expense, is slender praise ; 

lie, that has not usurped the name of man, 

Does all, and deems too little all, he can 320 

To assuage the throbbings of the festered part, 

And stanch the bleedings of a broken heart. 

'Tis not, as heads that never ache suppose, 

Forgery of fancy, and a dream of woes ; 

Man is a harp whose chords elude the sight, 

Each yielding harmony, disposed aright ; 

The screws reversed (a task which if He please 

God in a moment executes with ease) 

Ten thousand thousand strings at once go loose, 

Lost, till He tune them, all their power and use. 330 

Then neither heathy wilds, nor scenes as fair 

As ever recompensed the peasant's care, 

Nor soft declivities with tufted hills, 

Nor view of waters turning busy mills, 

Parks in which Art preceptress Nature weds, 

Nor gardens interspersed with flowery beds, 

Nor gales, that catch the scent of blooming groves, 

And waft it to the mourner as he roves, 

Can call up life into his faded eye 

That passes all he sees unheeded by : 340 

No wounds like those a wounded spirit feels ; 

No cure tor such, till God, who makes them, heals. 

And thou, sad sufferer under nameless ill, 

That yields not to the touch of human skill, 

Improve the kind occasion, understand 

A Father's frown, and kiss his chastening hand. 

To thee the day-spring, and the blaze of noon, 

The purple evening and resplendent moon, 

The stars, that, sprinkled o'er the vault of night, 

Seem drops descending in a shower of light, 350 

Shine not, or undesired and hated shine, 

Seen through the medium of a cloud like thine : 



RETIREMENT. 



Yet seek Him, in his favour life is found ; 

All bliss beside, a shadow or a sound : 

Then Heaven, eclipsed so long, and this dull Earth, 

Shall seem to start into a second birth ; 

Nature, assuming a more lovely face, 

Borrowing a beauty from the works of grace, 

Shall be despised and overlooked no more, 

Shall fill thee with delights unfelt before, 360 

Impart to things inanimate a voice, 

And bid her mountains and her hills rejoice ; 

The sound shall run along the winding vales, 

And thou enjoy an Eden ere it fails. 

" Ye groves," the statesman at his desk exclaims, 
Sick of a thousand disappointed aims, 
" My patrimonial treasure and my pride, 
Beneath your shades your grey possessor hide, 
Receive me languishing for that repose 

The servant of the public never knows. 370 

Ye saw me once (ah those regretted days, 
When boyish innocence was all my praise !) 
Hour after hour delightfully allot 
To studies then familiar, since forgot, 
And cultivate a taste for ancient song, 
Catching its ardour as I mused along ; 
Nor seldom, as propitious heaven might send, 
What once I valued and could boast, a friend, 
Were witnesses how cordially I pressed 

His undissembling virtue to my breast ; 380 

Receive me now, not uncorrupt as then, 
Nor guiltless of corrupting other men, 
But versed in arts, that, while they seem to stay 
A fallen empire, hasten its decay. 
To the fair haven of my native home, 
The wreck of what I was, fatigued I come ; 
For once I can approve the patriot's voice, 
And make the course he recommends my choice : 
We meet at last in one sincere desire, 

His wish and mine both prompt me to retire." 390 

'Tis done — he steps into the welcome chaise, 
Lolls at his ease behind four handsome bays, 
That whirl away from business and debate 
The disencumbered Atlas of the state. 
Ask not the boy, who, when the breeze of morn 
First shakes the glittering drops from every thorn, 
Unfolds his flock, then under bank or bush 
Sits linking cherry-stones, or platting rush, 
How fair is freedom? — he was always free : 
To carve his rustic name upon a tree, 400 

To snare the mole, or with ill-fashioned hook 
To draw the incautious minnow from the brook, 
Are life's prime pleasures in his simple view, 
His flock the chief concern he ever knew ; 



RETIREMENT. 155 



She shines but little in his heedless eyes, 
The good we never miss we rarely prize : 
But ask the noble drudge in state affairs, 
Escaped from office and its constant cares, 
What charms he sees in freedom's smile expressed, 
In freedom lost so long, now repossessed; 410 

The tongue, whose strains were cogent as commands, 
Revered at home, and felt in foreign lands, 
Shall own itself a stammerer in that cause, 
Or plead its silence as its best applause. 
He knows indeed that, whether dressed or rude, 
Wild without art, or artfully subdued, 
Nature in every form inspires delight, 
But never marked her with so just a sight. 
Her hedge-row shrubs, a variegated store, 
With woodbine and wild roses mantled o'er, 420 

Green balks and furrowed lands, the stream that spreads 
Its cooling vapour o'er the dewy meads, 
Downs, that almost escape the inquiring eye, 
That melt and fade into the distant sky, 
Beauties he lately slighted as he passed, 
Seem all created since he travelled last. 
Master of all the enjoyments he designed, 
No rough annoyance rankling in his mind, 
What early philosophic hours he keeps, 

How regular his meals, how sound he sleeps ! 450 

Not sounder he that on the mainmast head, 
While morning kindles with a windy red, 
Begins a long look-out for distant land, 
Nor quits till evening-watch his giddy stand, 
Then swift descending with a seaman's haste, 
Slips to his hammock, and forgets the blast. 
He chooses company, but not the squire's, 
Whose wit is rudeness, whose good breeding tires ; 
Nor yet the parson's, who would gladly come, 
Obsequious when abroad, though proud at home ; J40 

Nor can he much affect the neighbouring peer, 
W 7 hose toe of emulation treads too near; 
But wisely seeks a more convenient friend, 
With whom, dismissing forms, he may unbend : 
A man whom marks of condescending grace 
Teach, while they flatter him, his proper place : 
Who comes when called, and at a word withdraws, 
Speaks with reserve, and listens with applause ; 
Some plain mechanic, who, without pretence 
To birth or wit, nor gives nor takes offence, 4sO 

On whom he rests well pleased his weary powers, 
And talks and laughs away his vacant hours. 
The tide of life, swift always in its course, 
May run in cities with a brisker force, 
But nowhere with a current so serene, 
Or half so clear, as in the rural scene. 



156 RETIREMENT. 



Yet how fallacious is all earthly bliss, 

What obvious truths the wisest heads may miss ; 

Some pleasures live a month, and some a year, 

But short the date of all we gather here ; 46c 

No happiness is felt, except the true, 

That does not charm the more for being new. 

This observation, as it chanced, not made, 

Or, if the thought occurred, not duly weighed, 

He sighs — for, after all, by slow degrees 

The spot he loved has lost the power to please ; 

To cross his ambling pony day by day 

Seems at the best but dreaming life away ; 

The prospect, such as might enchant despair, 

He views it not, or sees no beauty there ; 47° 

With aching heart, and discontented looks, 

Returns at noon to billiards or to books, 

But feels, while grasping at his faded joys, 

A secret thirst of his renounced employs. 

He chides the tardiness of every post, 

Pants to be told of battles won or lost, 

Blames his own indolence, observes, though late, 

'Tis criminal to leave a sinking state, 

Flies to the levee, and received with grace, 

Kneels, kisses hands, and shines again in place. 480 

Suburban villas, highway-side retreats, 
That dread the encroachment of our growing streets, 
Tight boxes, neatly sashed, and in a blaze 
With all a July sun's collected rays, 
Delight the citizen, who, gasping there, 
Breathes clouds of dust, and calls it country air. 
O sweet retirement, who would balk the thought, 
That could afford retirement, or could not ? 
'Tis such an easy walk, so smooth and straight, 
The second milestone fronts the garden gate ; 490 

A step if fair, and, if a shower approach, 
You find safe shelter in the next stage-coach. 
There prisoned in a parlour snug and small, 
Like bottled wasps upon a southern wall, 
The man of business and his friends compressed 
Forget their labours, and yet find no rest ; 
But still 'tis rural — trees are to be seen 
From every window, and the fields are green ; 
Ducks paddle in the pond before the door, 
And what could a remoter scene show more ? 500 

A sense of elegance we rarely find 
The portion of a mean or vulgar mind, 
And ignorance of better things makes man, 
Who cannot much, rejoice in what lie can ; 
And he, that deems his leisure well bestowed 
In contemplation of a turnpike road, 
Is occupied as well, employs his hours 
As wisely, and as much improves his powers, 



RETIREMENT. i-- 



As he that slumbers in pavilions graced 

With all the charms of an accomplished taste. 510 

Yet hence, alas ! insolvencies ; and hence 

The unpitied victim of ill-judged expense, 

From all his wearisome engagements freed, 

Shakes hands with business, and retires indeed. 

Your prudent grandmammas, ye modern belles, 
Content with Bristol, Bath, and Tunbridge Wells, 
When health required it, would consent to roam, 
Else more attached to pleasures found at home. 
But now alike, gay widow, virgin, wife, 

Ingenious to diversify dull life, 520 

In coaches, chaises, caravans, and hoys, 
Fly to the coast for daily, nightly joys, 
And all, impatient of dry land, agree 
With one consent to rush into the sea.— ^ 
Ocean exhibits, fathomless and broad, 
Much of the power and majesty of God. 
He swathes about the swelling of the deep, 
That shines, and rests, as infants smile and sleep ; 
Vast as it is, it answers as it flows 

The breathings of the lightest air that blows ; 530 

Curling and whitening over all the waste, 
The rising waves obey the increasing blast, 
Abrupt and horrid as the tempest roars, 
Thunder and flash upon the steadfast shores, 
Till He that rides the whirlwind checks the rein, 
Then all the world of waters sleeps again. — 
Nereids or Dryads, as the fashion leads, 
Now in the floods, now panting in the meads, 
Votaries of Pleasure still, where'er she dwells, 
Near barren rocks, in palaces, or cells, 540 

O grant a poet leave to recommend 
(A poet fond of Nature, and your friend) 
Her slighted works to your admiring view, 
Her works must needs excel who fashioned you. 
Would ye, when rambling in your morning ride, 
With some unmeaning, coxcomb at your side, 
Condemn the prattler for his idle pains, 
To waste unheard the music of his strains, 
And, deaf to all the impertinence of tongue, 
That, while it courts, affronts and does you wrong, — 550 
Mark well the finished plan without a fault. 
The seas globose and huge, the o'erarching vault, 
Earth's millions daily fed, a world employed 
In gathering plenty yet to be enjoyed, 
Till gratitude grew vocal in the praise 
Of God, beneficent in all His ways ; 
Graced with such wisdom, how would beauty shine ! 
Ye want but that to seem indeed divine. 

Anticipated rents and bills unpaid 
Force many a shining youth into the shade, 560 



RETIREMENT. 



Not to redeem his time, but his estate, 

And play the fool, but at a cheaper rate : 

There, hid in loathed obscurity, removed 

From pleasures left, but never more beloved, 

He just endures, and with a sickly spleen 

Sighs o'er the beauties of the charming scene. 

Nature indeed looks prettily in rhyme ; 

Streams tinkle sweetly in poetic chime : 

The warblings of the blackbird, clear and strong, 

Are musical enough in Thomson's song ; 570 

And Cobham's groves, and Windsor's green retreats, 

When Pope describes them, have a thousand sweets ; 

He likes the country, but in truth must own, 

Most likes it when he studies it in town. 

Poor Jack— no matter who — for when I blame, 
I pity, and must therefore sink the name — 
Lived in his saddle, loved the chase, the course, 
And always, ere he mounted, kissed his horse. 
The estate his sires had owned in ancient years 
Was quickly distanced, matched against a peer's. 580 

Jack vanished, was regretted and forgot ; 
'Tis wild good-nature's never-failing lot. 
At length, when all had long supposed him dead, 
By cold submersion, razor, rope, or lead, 
My lord, alighting at his usual place, 
The Crown, took notice of an ostler's face. 
Jack knew his friend, but hoped in that disguise 
He might escape the most observing eyes, 
And whistling, as if unconcerned and gay, 
Curried his nag and looked another way. 590 

Convinced at last, upon a nearer view, 
'Twas he, the same, the very Jack he knew, 
O'erwhelmed at once with wonder, grief, and joy, 
He pressed him much to quit his base employ ; 
His countenance, his purse, his heart, his hand, 
Influence and power, were all at his command : 
Peers are not always generous as well-bred, 
But Granby was, meant truly what he said. 
Jack bowed, and was obliged — confessed 'twas strange, 
That so retired he should not wish a change, 600 

But knew no medium between guzzling beer 
And his old stint — three thousand pounds a year. 

Thus some retire to nourish hopeless woe ; 
Some seeking happiness not found below ; 
Some to comply with humour, and a mind 
To social scenes by nature disinclined ; 
Some swayed by fashion, some by deep disgust ; 
Some self-impoverished, and because they must ; 
But few, that court Retirement, are aware 
Of half the toils they must encounter there. 610 

Lucrative offices are seldom lost 
For want of powers proportioned to the post : 



RETIREMENT. 



159 



Give even a dunce the employment he desires, 

And he soon finds the talents it requires ; 

A business with an income at its heels 

Furnishes always oil for its own wheels. 

But in his arduous enterprise to close 

His active years with indolent repose, 

He finds the labours of that state exceed 

His utmost faculties, severe indeed. 620 

'Tis easy to resign a toilsome place, 

But not to manage leisure with a grace ; 

Absence of occupation is not rest, 

A mind quite vacant is a mind distressed. 

The veteran steed, excused his task at length, 

In kind compassion of his failing strength, 

And turned into the park or mead to graze, 

Exempt from future service all his days, 

There feels a pleasure perfect in its kind, 

Ranges at liberty, and snuffs the wind. 630 

But when his lord would quit the busy road, 

To taste a joy like that he has bestowed, 

He proves, less happy than his favoured brute, 

A life of ease a difficult pursuit. 

Thought, to the man that never thinks, may seem 

As natural as when asleep to dream ; 

But reveries (for human minds will act) 

Specious in show, impossible in fact, 

Those flimsy webs, that break as soon as wrought, 

Attain not to the dignity of thought : 640 

Nor yet the swarms that occupy the brain, 

Where dreams of dress, intrigue, and pleasure reign ; 

Xor such as useless conversation breeds, 

Or lust engenders, and indulgence feeds. 

Whence and what are we ? to what end ordained ? 

What means the drama by the world sustained ? 

Business or vain amusement, care, or mirth, 

Divide the frail inhabitants of earth. 

Is duty a mere sport, or an employ ? 

Life an intrusted talent, or a toy? 650 

Is there, as reason, conscience, scripture, say, 

Cause to provide for a great future day, 

When, earth's assigned duration at an end, 

Man shall be summoned, and the dead attend ? 

The trumpet — will it sound ? the curtain rise ? 

And show the august tribunal of the skies, 

Where no prevarication shall avail, 

Where eloquence and artifice shall fail, 

The pride of arrogant distinctions fall, 

And conscience and our conduct judge us all ? 660 

Pardon me, ye that give the midnight oil 

To learned cares or philosophic toil, 

Though I revere your honourable names, 

Your useful labours and important aims, 



160 RETIREMENT. 

And hold the world indebted to your aid, 

Enriched with the discoveries ye have made ; 

Yet let me stand excused, if I esteem 

A mind employed on so sublime a theme, 

Pushing her bold inquiry to the date 

And outline of the present transient state, 670 

And, after poising her adventurous wings, 

Settling at last upon eternal things, 

Far more intelligent, and better taught 

The strenuous use of profitable thought, 

Than ye, when happiest, and enlightened most, 

And highest in renown, can justly boast. 

A mind unnerved, or indisposed to bear 
The weight of subjects worthiest of her care, 
Whatever hopes a change of scene inspires, 
Must change her nature, or in vain retires. 680 

An idler is a watch that wants both hands, 
As useless if it goes as when it stands. 
Books therefore, not the scandal of the shelves, 
In which lewd sensualists print out themselves ; 
Nor those in which the stage gives vice a blow, 
With what success let modern manners show ; 
Nor his who, for the bane of thousands born, 
Built God a church, and laughed his word to scorn, 
Skilful alike to seem devout and just, 

And stab religion with a sly side-thrust ; 690 

Nor those of learned philologists, who chase 
A panting syllable through time and space, 
Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark, 
To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's ark ; 
But such as learning without false pretence, 
The friend of truth, the associate of sound sense, 
And such as, in the zeal of good design, 
Strong judgment labouring in the scripture mine, 
All such as manly and great souls produce, 
Worthy to live, and of eternal use ; 700 

Behold in these what leisure hours demand, 
Amusement and true knowledge hand in hand. 
Luxury gives the mind a childish cast, 
And, while she polishes, perverts the taste ; 
Habits of close attention, thinking heads, 
Become more rare as dissipation spreads, 
Till authors hear at length one general cry, 
Tickle and entertain us, or we die. 
The loud demand, from year to year the same, 
Beggars Invention, and makes Fancy lame; 710 

Till farce itself, most mournfully jejune. 
Calls for the kind assistance of a tune, 
And novels (witness every month's Review) 
Belie their name, and offer nothing new. 
The mind relaxing into needful sport, 
Should turn to writers of an abler sort, 



RETIREMENT. 161 



Whose wit well managed, and whose classic style, 
Give truth a lustre, and make wisdom smile. 

Friend.-, (for I cannot stint, as some have done, 
Too rigid in my view, that name to one ; 720 

Though one, I grant it, in the generous breast, 
"Will stand advanced a step above the rest : 
Flowers by that name promiscuously we call, 
But one, the rose, the regent of them all) — 
Friends, not adopted with a schoolboy's haste, 
But chosen with a nice discerning taste, 
Well born, well disciplined, who, placed apart 
From vulgar minds, have honour much at heart, 
And, though the world may think the ingredients odd, 
The love of virtue, and the fear of God ! 750 

Such friends prevent what else would soon succeed, 
A temper rustic as the life we lead, 
And keep the polish of the manners clean, 
As theirs who bustle in the busiest scene ; 
For solitude, however some may rave, 
Seeming a sanctuary, proves a grave, 
A sepulchre, in which the living lie, 
Where ail good qualities grow sick and die. 
I praise the Frenchman,* his remark was shrewd — 
How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude ! 74° 

But grant me still a friend in my retreat, 
Whom I may whisper, solitude is sweet." 
Yet neither these delights, nor aught beside 
That appetite can ask, or wealth provide, 
Can save us always from a tedious clay, 
Or shine the dulness of still life away ; 
Divine communion, carefully enjoyed, 
Or sought with energy, must fill the void. 
O sacred art, to which alone life owes 

Its happiest seasons, and a peaceful close, 750 

Scorned in a world, indebted to that scorn 
For evils daily felt, and hardly borne, — 
Not knowing thee, we reap with bleeding hands 
Flowers of rank odour upon thorny lands, 
And, while experience cautions us in vain, 
Grasp seeming happiness, and find it pain. 
Despondence, self-deserted in her grief, 
Lost by abandoning her own relief; 
Murmuring and ungrateful Discontent, 

That scorns afflictions mercifully meant, 760 

Those humours tart as wines upon the fret, 
Which idleness and weariness beget ; 
These and a thousand plagues that haunt the breast, 

>f the phantom of an earthly rest, 
Divine communion chases, as the day 
Drives to their dens the obedient beasts of prey. 
See Judah's promised king, bereft of all, 



162 RETIREMENT. 



Driven out an exile from the face of Saul. 

To distant caves the lonely wanderer flies, 

To seek that peace a tyrant's frown denies. 7';° 

Hear the sweet accents of his tuneful voice, 

Hear him, o'erwhelmed with sorrow, yet rejoice ; 

No womanish or wailing grief has part, 

No, not a moment, in his royal heart ; 

'Tis manly music, such as martyrs make, 

Suffering with gladness for a Saviour's sake : 

His soul exults, hope animates his lays, 

The sense of mercy kindles into praise, 

And wilds, familiar with the lion's roar, 

Ring with ecstatic sounds unheard before : 780 

'Tis love like his that can alone defeat 

The foes of man, or make a desert sweet. 

Religion does not censure or exclude 
Unnumbered pleasures harmlessly pursued ; 
To study culture, and with artful toil 
To meliorate and tame the stubborn soil; 
To give dissimilar yet fruitful lands 
The grain, or herb, or plant, that each demands ; 
To cherish virtue in an humble state, 

And share the joys your bounty may create ; 79° 

To mark the matchless workings of the power 
That shuts within its seed the future flower, 
Bids these in elegance of form excel, 
In colour these, and those delight the smell, 
Sends Nature forth, the daughter of the skies, 
To dance on Earth, and charm all human eyes ; 
To teach the canvas innocent deceit, 
Or lay the landscape on the snowy sheet — 
These, these are arts, pursued without a crime, 
That leave no stain upon the wing of Time. Soo 

Me poetry (or rather notes that aim 
Feebly and faintly at poetic fame) 
Employs, shut out from more important views, 
Fast by the batiks of the slow-winding Ouse ; 
1 !ontent ifthu • sequestered I may raise 
A monitor's, though not a poet's praise. 
And while I teach an art too little known. 
To close life wisely, may not waste my OV n. 



./ FABLE. 



i6->, 



THE DOVES. 



REASONING at every step he treads, 

Man yet mistakes his way. 
While meaner things, whom instinct 
leads, 

Are rarely known to stray. 

One silent e\e I wandered late, 
And heard the voice of love ; 

The turtle thus addressed her mate, 
And soothed the listening dove : 

"Our mutual bond of faith and truth 

No time shall disengage, 
Those blessings of our early youth 

Shall cheer our latest age ; 

" While innocence without disguise, 

And constancy sincere, 
Shall fill the circles of those eyes, 

And mine can read them there ; 

"Those ills, that wait on all below, 

Shall ne'er be felt by me, 
Or gently felt, and only so, 

As being shared with thee. 



"When lightnings flash among the 
trees, 

Or kites are hovering near, 
I fear lest thee alone they seize, 

And know no other fear. 

"'Tis then I feel myself a wife, 
And press thy wedded side, 

Resolved a union formed for life 
Death never shall divide. 

"But oh ! if, fickle and unchaste, 
(Forgive a transient thought,) 

Thou couldst become unkind at last, 
And scorn thy present lot, 

"No need of lightnings from on high, 

Or kites with cruel beak ; 
Denied the endearments of thine eye, 

This widowed heart would break." 

Thus sang the sweet sequestered bird, 

Soft as the passing wind, 
And I recorded what I heard, 

A lesson for mankind. 



A FABLE. 



A RAVEN, while with glossy breast 
Her new-laid eggs she fondly pressed, 
And, on her wicker-work high mounted, 
Her chickens prematurely counted, 
(A fault philosophers might blame, 
If quite exempted from the same,) 
Enjoyed at ease the genial day ; 
'Twas April, as the bumpkins say, 
The legislature called it May. 
But suddenly a wind, as high 
As ever swept a winter sky, 
Shook the young leaves about her ears, 
And filled her with a thousand fears, 
Lest the rude blast should snap the 

bough, 
And spread her golden hopes below. 
But just at eve the blowing weather 
And all her fears were hushed together ; 
"And now," quoth poor unthinking 

Ralph, 
"'Tis over, and the brood is safe;" 
(For ravens, though, as birds of omen, 



They teach both conjurers and old 

women 
To tell us what is to befall, 
Can't prophesy themselves at all). 
The morning came, wdien neighbour 

Hodge, 
Who long had marked her airy lodge, 
And destined all the treasure there 
A gift to his expecting fair, 
Climbed like a squirrel to his dray, 
And bore the worthless prize away. 

MORAL. 

'Tis Providence alone secures 
In every change both mine and yours : 
Safety consists not in escape 
From dangers of a frightful shape ; 
An earthquake may be bid to spare 
The man that's strangled by a hair. 
Fate steals along with silent tread, 
Found oftenest in what least w r e dread, 
Frowns in the storm with angry brow, 
But in the sunshine strikes the blow. 



164 



VERSES. 



A COMPARISON. 

The lapse of time and rivers is the same, 

Both speed their journey with a restless stream ; 

The silent pace with which they steal away, 

No wealth can bribe, no prayers persuade to stay ; 

Alike irrevocable both when past, 

And a wide ocean swallows both at last. 

Though each resemble each in every part, 

A difference strikes at length the musing heart ; 

Streams never flow in vain ; where streams abound 

How laughs the land with various plenty crowned ! 

But time, that should enrich the nobler mind, 

Neglected, leaves a dreary waste behind. 



ANOTHER. 

ADDRESSED TO A YOUNG LADY. 



Sweet stream, that winds through 

yonder glade, 
Apt emblem of a virtuous maid ! 
Silent and chaste she steals along, 
Far from the world's gay busy throng, 
With gentle yet prevailing force, 



Intent upon her destined course; 
Graceful and useful all she does, 
Blessing and blessed where'er she 

goes; 
Pure-bosomed as that watery glass, 
And heaven reflected in her face ! 



VERSES 

TO BE WRITTEN BY ALEXANDER SELKIRK DIKING HIS SOLITARY 
ABODE ON THE ISLAND OF JUAN FERNANDEZ. 



I am monarch of all I survey, 

My right there is none to dispute, 
From the centre all round to the sea, 
I am lord of the fowl and the brute. 

Solitude ! where are the charms 
That sages have seen in thy face ? 

Better dwell in the midst of alarms, 
Than reign in this horrible place. 

1 am out of humanity's reach, 

I must finish my journey alone, 
Never hear the sweet music of speed), 

1 start at the sound of my own. 
The beasts that roam over the plain, 

My form with indifference 
They are so unacquainted with man, 

Their lameness is shocking to me. 



Society, friendship, and love, 

Divinely bestowed upon man, 
Oh, had I the wings of a dove, 

1 [1 >w soon would I taste you again ! 
My sorrows I then might assuage 

In the ways of religion and truth, 
Might learn from the wisdom of age, 

And be cheered by the sallies of youth. 

Religion ! what treasure untold 

les in that heavenly word ! 
More precious than silver and gold, 

Or all that this earth can afford. 
But the sound of the church-going bell 

These valleys and rocks never heard; 
Never sighed at the sound of a knell, 

Or smiled when a sabbath appear*, d. 



ODE TO PEACE. 



165 



W winds, that have made me your sport, 

Convey t<> this desolate shore 
Some cordial endearing report 

Of a land I shall visit no more. 
My friends, — do they now and then send 

A wish or a thought after me? 
O tell me I yet have a friend, 

Though a friend I am never to see. 

How fleet is a glance of the mind ! 

Compared with the speed of its flight, 
The tempest itself lags behind, 

And the swift-winged arrows of light. 



When I think of my own native land, 
In a moment I seem to be there ; 

But alas! recollection at hand 
Soon hurries me back to despair. 

But the sea-fowl is gone to her nest, 

The beast is laid down in his lair, 
Even here is a season of rest, 

And I to my cabin repair. 
There's mercy in every place, 

And mercy, encouraging thought ! 
Gives even affliction a grace, 

And reconciles man to his lot. 



ON THE PROMOTION OF EDWARD THURLOW, ESQ. 

TO THE LORD HIGH CHANCELLORSHIP OF ENGLAND. 



Round Thurlow's head in early youth, 

And in his sportive days, 
Fair Science poured the light of truth, 

And Genius shed his rays. 

" See ! " with united wonder cried 
The experienced and the sage, 

" Ambition in a boy supplied 
With all the skill of age ! 



"Discernment, eloquence, and grace 
Proclaim him born to sway 

The balance in the highest placei 
And bear the palm away." 

The praise bestowed was just and wise : 

He sprang impetuous forth, 
Secure of conquest where the prize 
Attends superior worth. 



So the best courser on the plain 
Ere yet he starts is known, 

And does but at the goal obtain 
What all had deemed his own. 



ODE TO PEACE. 



Come, peace of mind, delightful guest! 
Return and make thy downy nest 

Once more in this sad heart : 
Nor riches I, nor power pursue, 
Nor hold forbidden joys in view ; 

We therefore need not part. 

Where w ilt thou dwell, if not with me, 
From avarice and ambition free, 

And pleasure's fatal wiles? 
For whom, ala; ! dost thou prepare 
The sweets thai I was wont to share, 

The banquet of thy smiles? 



The great, the gay, shall they partake 
The heaven that thou alone canst make, 

And wilt thou .quit the stream 
That murmurs through the dewy mead, 
The grove and the sequestered shed, 

To be a guest with them? 

For thee I panted, thee I prized, 
For thee I gladly sacrificed 

Whate'er I loved before, 
And shall I see thee start away, 
And helpless, hopeless, hear thee say, 

Farewell ! we meet no more "? 



1 66 



ON OBSERVING SOME NAMES OF LITTLE NOTE. 



HUMAN FRAILTY. 



WEAK and irresolute is man ; 

The purpose of to-day, 
Woven with pains into his plan, 

To-morrow rends away. 

The bow well bent and smart the spring, 

Vice seems already slain, 
But passion rudely snaps the string, 

And it revives again. 

Some foe to his upright intent 

Finds out his weaker part, 
Virtue engages his assent, 

But pleasure wins his heart. 



'Tis here the folly of the wise 
Through all his art we view, 

And while his tongue the charge denies, 
His conscience owns it true. 

Bound on a voyage of awful length 

And dangers little known, 
A stranger to superior strength, 

Man vainly trusts his own. 

But oars alone can ne'er prevail 

To reach the distant coast, 
The breath of heaven must swell the sail, 

Or all the toil is lost. 



THE MODERN PATRIOT. 



REBELLION is my theme all day ; 

I only wish 'twould come 
(As who knows but perhaps it may?) 

A little nearer home. 

Yon roaring boys, who rave and fight 
On t'other side the Atlantic, 

I always held them in the right, 
But most so when most frantic. 

When lawless mobs insult the court, 
That man shall be my toast, 

If breaking windows be the sport, 
Who bravely breaks the most. 



But oh ! for him my fancy culls 
The choicest flowers she bears, 

Who constitutionally pulls 
Your house about your ears. 

Such civil broils are my delight, 

Though some folks can't endure 'em, 

Who say the mob are mad outright, 
And that a rope must cure 'em. 

A rope ! I wish we patriots had 

Such strings for all who need 'em. — 

What ! hang a man for going mad i 
Then farewell British freedom. 



ON OBSERVING SOME NAMES OF LITTLE NOTE 

KECURDED IN THE "BIOGRAPHIA BRITANNICA." 

Oh, fond attempt to give a deathless lot 
To names ignoble, born to be forgot ! 
In vain, recorded in historic page, 
They court the notice of a future age : 
Those twinkling tiny lustres of the land 
Drop one by one from Fame's neglecting hand; 
Lethsean gulfs receive them as they fall, 
And dark oblivion soon absorbs them all. 

So when a child (as playful children use) 
Has burnt to tinder a stale List-) ear's news, 
The flame extinct, he views the roving fire- 
There goes my lady, and there goes the squire, 
There goes the parson, oli illustrious spark ! 
An'! there, scarce less illusti the cler]< ! 



ON THE BURNING OF LORD MANSFIELD'S LIBRARY. 167 



REPORT OF AN ADJUDGED CASE. 

NOT TO UK FOUND IN ANY OF THE BOOKS. 

BETWEEN Nose and Eyes a strange contest arose, 
The spectacles set them unhappily wrong; 

The point in dispute was, as all the world knows, 
To which the said spectacles ought to belong. 

So Tongue was the lawyer, and argued the cause 
With a great deal of skill, and a wig full of learning; 

While Chief Baron Ear sat to balance the laws, 
So famed for his talent in nicely discerning. 

"In behalf of the Nose it will quickly appear, 

And your lordship," he said, "will undoubtedly find, 

That the Nose has had spectacles always in wear, 
Which amounts to possession time out of mind." 

Then holding the spectacles up to the court — 

" Your lordship observes they are made with a straddle, 

As wide as the ridge of the Nose is ; in short, 
Designed to sit close to it, just like a saddle. 

"Again, would your lordship a moment suppose 
('Tis a case that has happened, and may be again,) 

That the visage or countenance had not a Nose, 

Pray who would, or who could, wear spectacles then? 

"On the whole it appears, and my argument shows, 
With a reasoning the court will never condemn, 

That the spectacles plainly were made for the Nose, 
And the Nose was as plainly intended for them." 

Then shifting his side, as a lawyer knows how, 

He pleaded again in behalf of the Eyes : 
But what were his arguments few people know, 

For the court did not think they were equally wise. 

So his lordship decreed with a grave solemn tone, 
Decisive and clear, without one if or but — 

That, whenever the Nose put his spectacles on, 
By daylight or candlelight— Eyes should be shut ! 



ON THE BURNING OF LORD MANSFIELD'S LIBRARY, 

TOGETHER WITH HIS M3S., 
BY THE MOB, IN THE MONTH OF JUNE 1780. 



So then — the Vandals of our isle, 
Sworn foes to sense and law, 

Have burnt to dust a nobler pile 
Than ever Roman saw ! 



And Murray sighs o'er Pope, and Swift, 
And many a treasure more, 

The well-judged purchase, and the gift, 
That graced his lettered store. 



i68 



THE LILY AND TILE ROSE. 



Their pages mangled, burnt, and torn. 

The loss was his alone ; 
But ages yet to come shall mourn 

The burning of his own. 



ON THE SAME. 



When Wit and Genius meet their doom 

In all devouring flame, 
They tell us of the fate of Rome, 

And bid us fear the same. 

O'er Murray's loss the Muses wept, 

They felt the rude alarm, 
Yet blessed the guardian care that kept 

His sacred head from harm. 



There Memory, like the bee that's fed 

From Flora's balmy store, 
The quintessence of all he read 

Had treasured up before. 

The lawless herd, with fury blind, 
Have done him cruel wrong ; 

The flowers are gone — but still we find 
The honey on his tongue. 



THE LOVE OF THE WORLD REPROVED;* 

OK, HYPOCRISY DETECTED. 



Thus says the prophet of the Turk, 
" Good Mussulman, abstain from pork ; 
There is a part in every swine 
No friend or follower of mine 
May taste, whate'er his inclination, 
On pain of excommunication." 

Such Mahomet's mysterious charge, 
And thus he left the point at large. 
Had he the sinful part expressed, 
They might with safety eat the rest ; 
But for one piece they thought it hard 
From the whole hog to be debarred, 
And set their wit at work to find 
What joint the prophet had in mind. 

Much controversy straight arose, 
These choose the back, the belly those ; 
By some 'tis confidently said 
He meant not to forbid the head ; 
While others at that doctrine rail, 
And piously prefer the tail. 
Thus, Conscience freed from every clog, 
Mahometans eat up the hog. 



You laugh — 'tis well — the tale ap- 
plied 

May make you laugh on t'other side. 

"Renounce the world," the preacher 
cries. 

" We do, " a multitude replies. 

While one as innocent regards 

A snug and friendly game at cards ; 

And one, whatever you may say, 

Can see no evil in a play; 

Some love a concert, or a race; 

And others shooting and the chase. 

Reviled and loved, renounced and 
followed, 

Thus, bit by bit, the world is swal- 
lowed ; 

Each thinks his neighbour makes too 
free, 

Yet likes a slice as well as he: 

With sophistry their sauce they sweeten, 

Till cpiite from tail to snout 'tis eaten. 



THE LILY AND THE ROSE. 



The nymph must lose her female friend 
If more admired than she — 

But where will fierce contention end, 
If flowers can disagree? 



Within the garden's peaceful scene 
Appeared two lovely foes, 

Aspiring to the rank of Queen, 
The Lily and the Rose. 



* It may be proper to inform the reader that this piece has already appeared in print, having 
found its way, though with some unnecessary additions by an unknown hand, into the " Leeds 
Journal," without the author's privity.— A itt.'ic r's r.otc. 



IDEM LA TINE KEDDITUM. 169 



The Rose soon reddened into rage, 
And, swelling with disdain, 

Appealed to many a poet's page 
To prove her right to reign. 

The Lily's height bespoke command, 

A fair imperial flower; 
She seemed designed for Flora's hand, 

The sceptre of her power. 



This civil bickering and debate 
The goddess chanced to hear, 

And flew to save, ere yel too late, 
Tiic pride of the parterre. 

Yours is, she said, the noblest hue, 
And yours the statelier mien; 

And, till a third suqmsses you, 
Let each be deemed a queen. 



Thus soothed and reconciled, each seeks 

The fairest British fair ; 
The seat of empire is her cl.eeks, 

They reign united there. 



IDEM LATINE REDDITUM. 



IIeu inimicitias quoties parit aemula forma, 
Quam raro pulchrse, pulchra placere potest ! 

Sed fines ultra solitos discorxlia tendit, 
Cum flores ipsos bilis et ira movent. 

Hortus ubi clulces prrebet tacitosque recessiis, 

Se rapit in partes gens animosa duas ; 
Hie sibi regales Amaryllis Candida cultus, 

Illic purpureo vindicat ore Rosa. 

Ira Rosam et meritis quaesita superbia tangunt, 

Multaque ferventi vix cohibenda sinii, 
Dum sibi fautorum ciet undique nomina vatfim, 

Jusque suum, multo carmine fulta, probat. 

Altior emicat ilia, et celso vertice nutat, 

Ceu flores inter non habitura parem, 
Fastiditque alios, et nata videtur in usus 

Imperii, sceptrum, Flora quod ipsa gerat. 

Nee Dea non sensit civilis murmura rixse, 
Cui cura; est pictas pandere runs opes, 

Deliciasque suas nunquam non prompta tueri, 
Dum licet et locus est, nt tueatur, adest. 

" Et tibi forma datur procerior omnibus," inquit; 

" Et tibi, principibus qui solet esse, color, 
Et donee vincat quaedam formosior ambas, 

Et tibi regince nomen, et esto tibi." 

His ubi sedatus furor est, petit utraque nympham, 
Qualem inter Veneres Anglia sola parit ; 

Hanc penes imperium est, nihil optant amplius, hujus 
Regnant in nitidis, et sine lite, genis. 



170 



ON A GOLDFINCH STARVED TO DEATH. 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND GLOW-WORM. 



A nightingale, that all day long 
Had cheered the village with his song, 
Nor yet at eve his note suspended, 
Nor yet when eventide was ended, 
Began to feel, as well he might, 
The keen demands of appetite ; 
When, looking eagerly around, 
He spied far off, upon the ground, 
A something shining in the dark, 
And knew the glow-worm by his spark ; 
So stooping down from hawthorn top, 
He thought to put him in his crop. 
The worm, aware of his intent, 
Harangued him thus, right eloquent — 
" Did you admire my lamp," quoth he, 
" As much as I your minstrelsy, 
You would abhor to do me wrong, 
As much as I to spoil your song ; 
For 'twas the self-same Power divine 
Taught you to sing and me to shine; 



That you with music, I with light, 
Might beautify, and cheer the night." 

The songster heard his short oration, 
And, warbling out his approbation, 
Released him, as my story tells, 
And found a supper somewhere else. 

Hence jarring sectaries may learn 
Their real interest to discern ; 
That brother should not war with 

brother, 
And worry and devour each other ; 
But sing and shine by sweet consent, 
Till life's poor transient night is spent, 
Respecting, in each other's case, 
The gifts of nature and of grace. 

Those Christians best deserve the 
name 
Who studiously make peace their aim ; 
Peace both the duty and the prize 
Of him that creeps and him that Hies. 



VOTUM. 

O matutini rores, auneque salubres, 
O nemora, et laetre rivis felicibus herbal, 
Graminei colles, et amcenae in vallibus umbrce ! 
Fata modo dederint quas olim in rure paterno 
Delicias, procul arte, procul formidine novi, 
Quam vellem ignotus, quod mens mea semper avebar, 
Ante larem proprium placidam expectare senectam, 
Turn demum, exactis non infeliciter annis, 
Sortiri taciturn lapidem, aut sub cespite condi. 



ON A GOLDFINCH STARVED TO DEATH IN HIS CAGE. 



Time was when I was free as air, 
The thistle's downy seed my fare, 

My drink the morning dew; 
I perched at will on every spray, 
My form genteel, my plumage gay, 

My strains fir ever new. 



But gaudy plumage, sprightly strain, 
And form genteel were all in vain, 

And of a transient date; [death, 

For, caught and caged, and starved to 
In dying sighs my little breath 

Soon passed the wiry grate. 



Thanks, gentle swain, for all my woes, 

And thanks for this effectual close 

And cure of every ill ! 
More cruelty could none express ; 
And I, if you had shown me less, 

Had been your prisoner still. 



A REFLECTION. 



171 



THE PINEAPPLES AND THE BEE. 



Tin-: Pineapples, in triple row, 
Were basking hot, and all in blow; 
A Bee of most discerning taste 
Perceived the fragrance as he passed ; 
On eager wing the spoiler came, 
And searched for crannies in the frame, 
Urged his attempt on every side, 
To every pane his trunk applied ; 
But still in vain, the frame was tight, 
And only pervious to the light ; 
Thus having wasted half the day, 
He trimmed his flight another way. 

"Methinks," I said, "in thee I find 
The sin and madness of mankind. 
To joys forbidden man aspires, 
Consumes his soul with vain desires ; » 
Folly the spring of his pursuit, 
And disappointment all the fruit. 
While Cynthio ogles, as she passes, 
The nymph between two chariot glasses, 



She is the Pineapple, and he 

The silly unsuccessful Bee. 

The maid who views with pensive air 

The showglass fraught with glittering 

ware, 
Sees watches, bracelets, rings, and 

lockets, 
But sighs at thought of empty pockets ; 
Like thine, her appetite is keen, 
But ah, the cruel glass between!" 

Our dear delights are often such, 
Exposed to view, but not to touch ; 
The sight our foolish heart inflames, 
We long for pineapples in frames ; 
With hopeless wish one looks and 

lingers ; 
One breaks the glass, and cuts his 

fingers ; 
But they whom Truth and Wisdom lead, 
Can gather honey from a weed. 



HORACE, Book II. Ode X. 



Receive, dear friend, the truths I 

teach, 
So shalt thou live beyond the reach 

Of adverse fortune's power ; 
Not always tempt the distant deep, 
Nor always timorously creep 

Along the treacherous shore. 

He that holds fast the golden mean, 
And lives contentedly between 

The little and the great, 
Feels not the wants that pinch the poor, 
Nor plagues that haunt the rich man's 
door, 

Imbittering all his state. 

The tallest pines feel most the power 
Of wintry blasts ; the loftiest tower 

Comes heaviest to the ground ; 
The bolts' that spare the mountain's side 
His cloud-capt eminence divide, 

And spread the ruin round. 



The well-informed philosopher 
Rejoices with a wholesome fear, 

A.nd hopes in spite of pain ; 
If Winter bellow from the north, 
Soon the sweet Spring comes dancing 
forth, 

And Nature laughs again. 

What if thine Heaven be overcast? 
The dark appearance will not last ; 

Expect a brighter sky ; 
The God that strings the silver bow, 
Awakes sometimes the Muses too, 

And lays his arrows by. 

If hindrances obstruct thy way, 
Thy magnanimity display, 

And let thy strength be seen ; 
But O ! if Fortune fill thy sail 
With more than a propitious gale, 

Take half thy canvas in ! 



A REFLECTION ON THE FOREGOING ODE. 

And is this all? Can Reason do no more 
Than bid me shun the deep and dread the shore ? 
Sweet moralist ! afloat on life's rough sea, 
The Christian has an art unknown to thee ! 



I 72 



TRAXSLATIOXS FROM J7XCFXT BOTRXE. 



He holds no parley with unmanly fears ; 
Where Duty bids, he confidently steers, 
Faces a thousand dangers at her call, 
And, trusting in his God, surmounts them all. 



TRAXSLATIOXS FROM VINCENT BOURXE. 



i. The Glow-worm. 

Beneath the hedge or near the stream, 

A worm is known to stray, 
That shows by night a lucid beam, 

Which disappears by day. 

Disputes have been, and still prevail, 
From whence his rays proceed ; 

Some give that honour to his tail, 
And others to his head. 

But this is sure — the hand of might 

That kindles up the skies, 
Gives him a modicum of light 

Proportioned to his size. 

Perhaps indulgent Xature meant, 

By such a lamp bestowed, 
To bid the traveller, as he went, 

Be careful where he trod ; 

Nor crush a worm, whose useful light 
Might serve, however small, 

To show a stumbling stone by night, 
And save him from a fall. 

What'er she meant, this truth divine 

Is legible and plain, 
'Tis power Almighty bids him shine, 

Xor bids him shine in vain. 

Ye proud and wealthy ! let this theme 
Teach humbler thoughts to you, 

Since such a reptile has its gem, 
And boasts its splendour too. 

ii. The Jackdaw. 

There is a bird who by his coat, 
And by the hoarseness of his note, 

Might be supposed a crow : 
A great frequenter of the church, 
Where bishop-like he finds a perch, 

And dormitory too. 

Above the steeple shines a plate, 
That turns and turns, to indicate 

From what po : nt blows the weather; 



Look up — your brains begin to swim, 
'Tis in the clouds — that pleases him, 
He chooses it the rather. 

Fond of the speculative height, 
Thither he wings his airy flight, 

And thence securely sees 
The bustle and the raree-show 
That occupy mankind below, 

Secure and at his ease. 

You think, no doubt, he sits and muses 
On future broken bones and bruises, 

If he should chance to fall. 
Xo ; not a single thought like that 
Employs his philosophic pate, 

Or troubles it at all. 

He sees that this great roundabout, 
The world, with all its motley rout, 

Church, army, physic, law, 
Its customs, and its businesses, 
Are no concern at all of his, 

And says — what says he? — " Caw." 

Thrice happy bird ! I too have seen 
Much of the vanities of men ; 

And sick of having seen 'em, 
Would cheerfully these limbs resign 
For such a pair of wings as thine, 

And such a head between 'em. 



in. The Cricket. 

Little inmate, full of mirth, 
Chirping on my kitchen hearth, 
Wheresoe'er be thine abode, 
Always harbinger of good, 
Pay me for thy warm retreat 
With a song more soft and sweet ; 
In return thou shalt receive 
Such a strain as I can give. 

Thus thy praise shall be expressed, 
Inoffensive, welcome guest ! 
While the rat is on the scout, 
And the mouse with curious snout, 



7 HE SHR UBBER Y. 



l 75 



With what vermin else infest 
Every dish, and spoil the best ; 
Frisking thus before the fire, 
Thou hast all thine heart's desire. 

Though in voice and shape they be 
Formed as if akin to thee, 
Thou surpassest, happier far, 
Happiest grasshoppers that are ; 
Theirs is but a summer's song, 
Thine endures the winter long, 
Unimpaired, and shrill, and clear, 
Melody throughout the year. 

Neither night, nor dawn of day, 
Puts a period to thy play ; 
Sing then — and extend thy span 
Far beyond the date of man ; 
Wretched man, whose years are spent 
In repining discontent, 
Lives not, aged though he be, 
Half a span compared with thee. 



iv. The Parrot. 

In painted plumes superbly drest, 
A native of the gorgeous East, 

By many a billow tost ; 
Poll gains at length the British shore, 
Part of the captain's precious store, 

A present to his Toast. 

Belinda's maids are soon preferred 
To teach him now and then a word, 
As Poll can master it ; 



Put 'tis her own important charge 
To qualify him more at large, 
And make him quite a wit. 

" Sweet Poll !" his doting mistress cries, 
" Sweet Poll !" the mimic bird replies, 

And calls aloud for sack. 
She next instructs him in the kiss ; 
'Tis now a little one, like Miss, 

And now a hearty smack. 

At first he aims at what he hears ; 
And, listening close with both his ears, 

Just catches at the sound ; 
Put soon articulates aloud, 
Much to the amusement of the crowd, 

And stuns the neighbours round. 

A querulous old woman's voice 
His humorous talent next employs, 

He scolds and gives the lie. 
And now he sings, and now is sick, 
" Here Sally, Susan, come, come quick, 

Poor Poll is like to die ! " 

Belinda and her bird ! 'tis rare 

To meet with such a well-matched pair, 

The language and the tone, 
Each character in every part 
Sustained with so much grace and art, 

And both in unison. 

When children first begin to spell, 
And stammer out a syllable, 

We think them tedious creatures ; 
But difficulties soon abate, 
When birds are to be taught to prate, 

And women are the teachers. 



THE SHRUBBERY. 



WRITTEN IX A 

9 HAPPY shades ! to me unblest ! 

Friendly to peace, but not to me ! 
How ill the scene that offers rest, 

And heart that cannot rest, agree ! 

This glassy stream, that spreading pine, 
Those alders quivering to the breeze, 

Might soothe a soul less hurt than mine, 
And please, if anything could please. 

But fixed unalterable Care 

Foregoes not what she feels within, 
Shows the same sadness everywhere, 

And slights the season and the scene. 



TIME OF AFFLICTIOX. 

For all that pleased in wood or lawn, 
While Peace possessed these silent 
bowers, 

Her animating smile withdrawn, 
Has lost its beauties and its powers. 

The saint or moralist should tread 
This moss-grown alley, musing, slow ; 

They seek like me the secret shade, 
But not, like me, to nourish woe ! 

Me fruitful scenes and prospects waste 
Alike admonish not to roam ; 

These tell me of enjoyments past, 
And those of sorrows yet to come. 



174 



MUTUAL FORBEARAXCE. 



THE WINTER XOSEGAV. 



What Nature, alas ! has denied 

To the delicate growth of our isle, 
Art has in a measure supplied, 

And winter is decked with a smile. 
See, Mary, what beauties I bring 

From the shelter of that sunny shed, 
Where the flowers have the charms of 
the spring, 

Though abroad they are frozen and 
dead. 

'Tis a bower of Arcadian sweets, 
Where Flora is still in her prime, 

A fortress to which she retreats 

From the cruel assaults of the clime. 



While earth wears a mantle of snow, 
These pinks are as fresh and as 

gay 

As the fairest and sweetest that blow 
On the beautiful bosom of May. 

See how they have safely survived 

The frowns of a sky so severe ; 
Such Mary's true love, that has lived 

Through many a turbulent year. 
The charms of the late-blowing rose 

Seem graced with a livelier hue, 
And the winter of sorrow best shows 

The truth of a friend such as you. 



MUTUAL FORBEARANXE. 

NECESSARY TO THE HAPPINESS OF THE MARRIED STATE. 



The lady thus addressed her spouse — 
'" What a mere dungeon is this house ! 
By no means large enough, and was it, 
Vet this dull room and that dark closet, 
Those hangings with their worn-out 

graces, 
Long beards, long noses, and pale 

faces, 
Are such an antiquated scene, 
They overwhelm me with the spleen." 
Sir Humphrey, shooting in the dark, 
Makes answer quite beside the mark : 
"No doubt, my dear, I bade him come, 
Engaged myself to be at home, 
And shall expect him at the door, 
Precisely when the clock strikes four." 

" You are so deaf," the lady cried, 
(And raised her voice, and frowned be- 
side) 
" You are so sadly deaf, my dear, 
What shall I do to make you hear?" 
" Dismiss poor Harry ! " he replies, 
" Some people are more nice than wise, 
For one slight trespass all this stir? 
What if he did ride whip and spur ? 
'Twas but a mile — your favourite horse 
Will never look one hair the worse." 
" Well, I protest 'tis past all bearing !" — 
" Child ! I am rather hard of hearing." — 
" Yes, truly ; one must scream and bawl : 
I tell you you can't hear at all ! " 
Then, with a voice exceeding low, 
" No matter if you hear or no." 



Alas ! and is domestic strife, 
That sorest ill of human life, 
A plague so little to be feared, 
As to be wantonly incurred, 
To gratify a fretful passion, 
On every trivial provocation ? 
The kindest and the happiest pair 
Will find occasion to forbear ; 
And something, every day they live, 
To pity and, perhaps, forgive. 
But if infirmities, that fall 
In common to the lot of all, 
A blemish, or a sense impaired, 
Are crimes so little to be spared, 
Then farewell all that must create 
The comfort of the wedded state ; 
Instead of harmony, 'tis jar, 
And tumult and intestine war. 

The love that cheers life's latest 
stage, 
Proof against sickness and old age, 
Preserved by virtue from declension, 
Becomes not weary of attention ; 
But lives when that exterior grace 
Which first inspired the flame decays. 
'Tis gentle, delicate, and kind, 
To faults compassionate or blind, 
And will with sympathy endure 
Those evils it would gladly cure ; 
But angry, coarse, and harsh expression 
Shows love to be a mere profession ; 
Proves that the heart is none of his, 
Or soon expels him if it is. 



BOADICEA. 



TO THE REV. MR. NEWTON. 

AX INVITATION INTO THE COUNTRY. 



THE swallows in their torpid state 
Compose their useless wing, 

And bees in hives as idly wait 
The call of early spring. 

The keenest frost that binds the stream, 
The wildest wind that blows, 

Are neither felt nor feared by them, 
Secure of their repose : 

But man, all feeling and awake, 
The gloomy scene surveys ; 

With present ills his heart must ache, 
And pant for brighter days. 



Old Winter, halting o'er the mead, 
Bids me and Mary mourn ; 

But lovely Spring peeps o'er hi^ head, 
And whispers your return. 

Then April with her sister May 

Shall chase him from the bowers, 
And weave fresh garlands everyday, 
To crown the smiling hours. 

And if a tear that speaks regret 

Of happier times appear, 
A glimpse of joy that we have met 

Shall shine, and dry the tear. 



TRANSLATION OF PRIOR'S CHLOE AND EUPHELIA. 

MERCATOR, vigiles oculos ut fallere possit, 
Nomine sub ficto trans mare mittit opes ; 

Lene sonat liquidumque meis Euphelia chordis, 
Sed solam exoptant te, mea vota, Chloe. 

Ad speculum ornabat nitidos Euphelia crines. 
Cum dixit mea lux, heus, cane, sume lyram. 

Namque lyram juxta positam cum carmine vidit, 
Suave quidem carmen dulcisonamque lyram. 

Fila lyrse vocemque paro, suspiria surgunt, 
Et miscent numeris murmura mcesta meis, 

Dumque tuse memoro laudes, Euphelia, formse, 
Tota anima interea pendet ab ore Chloes. 

Subrubet ilia pudore, et contrahit altera frontem, 
Me torquet mea mens conscia, psallo, tremo ; 

Atque Cupidinea dixit Dea cincta corona, 
Heu ! fallendi artem quam didicere parum. 



BOADICEA. An Ode. 



WHEN the British warrior queen, 
Bleeding from the Roman rods, 

Sought, with an indignant mien, 
Counsel of her country's gods, 

Sage beneath a spreading oak 
Sat the Druid, hoary chief, 

Every burning word he spoke 
Full of rage and full of grief : 



" Frincess ! if our aged eyes 

Weep upon thy matchless wrongs, 

'Tis because resentment ties 
All the terrors of our tongues. 

" Rome shall perish, — write that word 
In the blood that she has spilt ; 

Perish hopeless and abhorred, 
Deep in ruin as in guilt. 



176 



HEROISM. 



" Rome, for empire far renowned, 
Tramples on a thousand states ; 

Soon her pride shall kiss the ground, — 
Hark ! the Gaul is at her gates. 

"Other Romans shall arise, 
Heedless of a soldier's name, 

Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize, 
Harmony the path to fame. 

" Then the progeny that springs 
From the forests of our land, 

Armed with thunder, clad with wings, 
Shall a wider world command. 



" Regions Ctesar never knew 
Thy posterity shall sway, 

Where his eagles never flew, 
None invincible as they." 

Such the bard's prophetic words, 
Pregnant with celestial fire, 

Bending as he swept the chords 
Of his sweet but awful lyre. 

She, with all a monarch's pride, 
Felt them in her bosom glow, 

Rushed to battle, fought and died, 
Dying, hurled them at the foe. 



" Ruffians, pitiless as proud, 

Heaven awards the vengeance due ; 
Empire is on us bestowed, 

Shame and ruin wait for you !" 



HEROISM. 

There was a time when ^Etna's silent fire 

Slept unperceived, the mountain yet entire ; 

When, conscious of no danger from below, 

She towered a cloud-capt pyramid of snow. 

No thunders shook with deep intestine sound 

The blooming groves that girdled her around ; 

Her unctuous olives and her purple vines, 

(Unfelt the fury of those bursting mines) 

The peasant's hopes, and not in vain, assured, 

In peace upon her sloping sides matured. 

When on a clay, like that of the last doom, 

A conflagration labouring in her womb, 

She teemed and heaved with an infernal birth, 

That shook the circling seas and solid earth. 

Dark and voluminous the vapours rise, 

And hang their horrors in the neighbouring skies, 

While through the Stygian veil that blots the day 

In dazzling streaks the vivid lightnings play. 

But oh ! what muse, and in what powers of song, 

Can trace the torrent as it burns along ? 

Havoc anil devastation in the van, 

It marches o'er the prostrate works of man, 

Vines, olives, herbage, forests disappear, 

And all the charms of a Sicilian year. 

Revolving seasons, fruitless as they pass, 
See it an uninformed and idle mass, 
Without a soil to invite the tiller's care, 
Or blade that might redeem it from despair. 
Yet time at length (what will not time achieve?) 
Clothes it with earth, and bids the produce live. 



HEROISM. 177 



Once more the spiry myrtle crowns the glade, 
And ruminating Socks enjoy the shade. 
O bliss precarious, and unsafe retreats! 
<) charming paradise of short-lived sweets! 

The self-same gale that wafts the fragrance round 
Brings to the distant ear a sullen sound: 
Again the mountain feels the imprisoned foe, 
Again pours ruin on the vale below, 
Ten thousand swains the wasted scene deplore, 
That only future ages can restore. 

Ye monarchs, whom the lure of honour draws, 
Who write in blood the merits of your cause, 
Who strike the blow, then plead your own defence, 
Glory your aim, but Justice your pretence, 
Behold in /Etna's emblematic fires 
The mischiefs your ambitious pride inspires ! 

Fast by the stream that bounds your just domain, 
And tells you where ye have a right to reign, 
A nation dwells, not envious of your throne, 
Studious of peace, their neighbours' and their own. 
Ill-fated race ! how deeply must they rue 
Their only crime, vicinity to you ! 
The trumpet sounds, your legions swarm abroad, 
Through the ripe harvest lies their destined road, 
At every step beneath their feet they tread 
The life of multitudes, a nation's bread ! 

Earth seems a garden in its loveliest dress 
Before them, and behind a wilderness ; 
Famine, and Pestilence her first-born son, 
Attend to finish what the sword begun ; 
And echoing praises such as fiends might earn, 
And folly pays, resound at your return. 
A calm succeeds ; — but Plenty, with her train 
Of heartfelt joys, succeeds not soon again, 
And years of pining indigence must show 
What scourges are the gods that rule below. 

Yet man, laborious man, by slow degrees, 
(Such is his thirst of opulence and ease,) 
Plies all the sinews of industrious toil, 
Gleans up the refuse of the general spoil, 
Rebuilds the towers that snicked upon the plain, 
And the sun gilds the shining spires again. 

Increasing commerce and reviving art 
Renew the quarrel on the conquerors part ; 
And the sad lesson must be learned once more, 
That wealth within is ruin at the door. 

What are ye, monarchs, laurelled heroes, say, 
But /Etnas of the suffering world ye sway ? 
Sweet Nature, stripped of her embroidered robe, 
Deplores the wasted regions of her globe, 



i 7S THE POET, THE OYSTER, AND SENSITIVE PLANT. 



And stands a witness at Truth's awful bar, 
To prove you there destroyers, as ye are. 

Oh place me in some heaven-protected isle, 
Where peace and equity and freedom smile, 
Where no volcano pours his fiery flood, 
No crested warrior dips his plume in blood, 
Where power secures what industry has won, 
Where to succeed is not to be undone, 
A land that distant tyrants hate in vain, 
In Britain's isle, beneath a George's reign. 



THE POET, THE OYSTER, AND SENSITIVE PLANT. 



An Oyster, cast upon the shore, 
Was heard, though never heard before, 
Complaining in a speech well worded, 
And worthy thus to be recorded — 

' ' Ah, hapless wretch ! condemned to 
dwell 
For ever in my native shell ; 
Ordained to move when others please, 
Not for my own content or ease ; 
But tossed and buffeted about, 
Now in the water, and now out. 
'Twere better to be born a stone, 
Of ruder shape, and feeling none, 
Than with a tenderness like mine, 
And sensibilities so fine ! 
I envy that unfeeling shrub, 
Fast-rooted against every rub." v 

The plant he meant grew not far off, 
And felt the sneer with scorn enough ; 
Was hurt, disgusted, mortified, 
And with asperity replied : — 

(" When," cry the botanists, and stare, 
" Did plants called Sensitive grow there ?" 
No matter when — a poet's muse is 
To make them grow just where she 
chooses.) 

"You shapeless nothing m a dish ! 
You that are but almost a fish, 
I scorn your coarse insinuation, 
And have most plentiful occasion 
To wish myself the rock I view, 
Or such another dolt as you. 
For many a grave and learned clerk, 
And many a gay unlettered spark, 
With curious touch examines me, 
If I can feel as well as he ; 



And when I bend, retire, and shrink, 
Says— 'Well, 'tis more than one would 

think !' 
Thus life is spent (oh fie upon't !) 
In being touched, and crying 'Don't !' " 

A poet, in his evening walk, 
O'erheard and checked this idle talk. 
"And your fine sense," he said, "and 

yours, 
Whatever evil it endures, 
Deserves not, if so soon offended, 
Much to be pitied or commended. 
Disputes, though short, are far too long, 
Where both alike are in the wrong ; 
Your feelings in their full amount 
Are all upon your own account. 

You, in your grotto-work enclosed, 
Complain of being thus exposed ; 
Yet nothing feel in that rough coat. 
Save when the knife is at your throat, 
Wherever driven by wind or tide, 
Exempt from every ill beside. 

And as for you, my Lady Squeamish, 
Who reckon every touch a blemish, 
If all the plants that can be found 
Embellishing the scene around, 
Should droop and wither where they 

grow, 
You would not feel at all, not you. 
The noblest minds their virtue prove 
By pity, sympathy, and love : 
These, these are feelings truly fine, 
And prove their owner half divine." 

His censure reached them as he dealt U, 
And each by shrinking showed he felt it. 



179 



TO TIIK REV. WILLIAM CAYVTIIORNE UNWIN. 



I' -.win, I should but ill repay 

The kindness of a friend, 
Whose worth deserves as warm a lay 

A.s eyer friendship penned, 
Thy name omitted in a page 
That would reclaim a vicious age. 

A union formed, as mine with thee, 

Not rashly or in sport, 
May be as fervent in degree, 

And faithful in its sort, 
And may as rich in comfort prove, 
As that of true fraternal love. 



The bud inserted in the rind, 
The bud of peach or rose, 

Adonis, though differing in its kind, 
The stock whereon it grows, 

With flower as sweet or fruit as fair 

As if produced by nature there. 

Not rich, I render what I may, 

I seize thy name in haste, 
And place it in this first assay, 

Lest this should prove the last. 
'Tis where it should be — in a plan 
That holds in view the good of man. 



The poet's lyre, to fix his fame, 
Should be the poet's heart; 

Affection lights a brighter flame 
Than ever blazed by art. 

No muses on these lines attend, 

I sink the poet in the friend. 



T H E 

r A S K, 

A 

POEM, 

IN SIX BOOKS. 
B y W ILLIAM COWPER, 

OF THE INNER TEMPLE, ESQ. 

Fit surculus arbor. 

Anonym. 

To which are added, 

BY THE SAME AUTHOR, 

An Epistle to Joseph Hill, Esq. Tirocinium, or a 
Review of Schools, and the History of John Gilfin. 



LONDON: 

PRINTED FOR J. JOHNSON, No 72, ST. PAUL'S 

CHURCH-YARD : 

I785- 

\_Copy of the title -page of Cozi/per's second publication.] 



ADVERTISEMENT. 

The history of the following production is briefly this : A lady, fond of blank 
verse, demanded a poem of that kind from the author, and gave him the SOFA 
for a subject. He obeyed ; and, having much leisure, connected another subject 
with it ; and, pursuing the train of thought to which his situation and turn of 
mind led him, brought forth at length, instead of the trifle which he at first 
intended, a serious affair — a Volume. 

In the poem on the subject of Education, he would be very sorry to stand 
suspected of having aimed his censure at any particular school. His objections 
are such as naturally apply themselves to schools in general. If there were not, 
as for the most part there is, wilful neglect in those who manage them, and an 
omission even of such discipline as they are susceptible of, the objects are yet too 
numerous for minute attention ; and the aching hearts of ten thousand parents, 
mourning under the bitterest of all disappointments, attest the truth of the allega- 
tion. His quarrel, therefore, is with the mischief at large, and not with any 
particular instance of it. 



THE TASK. 

BOOK I. 
THE SOFA. 

Argument. — Historical deduction of seats, from the stool to the sofa — A schoolboy's ramble — 
A walk in the country — The scene described — Rural sounds as well as sights delightful — 
Another walk — Mistake concerning the charms of solitude corrected— Colonnades commenced — 
Alcove, and the view from it — The wilderness — The grove — The thresher — The necessity and 
the benefits of exercise — The works of nature superior to, and in some instances inimitable by, 
art — The wearisomeness of what is commonly called a life of pleasure — Change of scene some- 
times expedient — A common described, and the character of crazy Kate introduced — Gipsies — 
The blessings of civilized life — That state most favourable to virtue— The South Sea islanders 
compassionated, but chiefly Omai — His present state of mind supposed — Civilized life friendly 
to virtue, but not great cities — Great cities, and London in particular, allowed their due praise, 
but censured — Fete champctre — The book concludes with a reflection on the effects of dissipa- 
tion and effeminacy upon our public measures. 

I SING the Sofa. I who lately sang 

Truth, Hope, and Charity, and touched with awe 

The solemn chords, and with a trembling hand 

Escaped with pain from that adventurous flight, 

Now seek repose upon an humbler theme ; 

The theme though humble, yet august and proud 

The occasion — for the Fair commands the song. 

Time was, when clothing sumptuous or for use, 
Save their own painted skins, our sires had none. 
A s yet black breeches were not, satin smooth, 10 

Or velvet soft, or plush with shaggy pile : 
The hardy chief, upon the rugged rock 
Washed by the sea, or on the gravelly bank 
Thrown up by wintry torrents roaring loud, 
Fearless of wrong, reposed his weary strength. 
Those barbarous ages past, succeeded next 
The birthday of Invention, weak at first, 
Dull in design, and clumsy to perform. 
Joint-stools were then created ; on three legs 
Upborne they stood : — three legs upholding firm 20 

A massy slab, in fashion square or round. 
On such a Stool immortal Alfred sat, 
And swayed the sceptre of his infant realms ; 
And such in ancient halls and mansions drear 
May still be seen, but perforated sore 
And drilled in holes the solid oak is found, 
By worms voracious eating through and through. 



THE TASK. 



At length a generation more refined 
Improved the simple plan; made three legs four, 
Gave them a twisted form vermicular, 30 

And o'er the seat, with plenteous wadding stuffed, 
Induced a splendid cover, green and blue, 
Yellow and red, of tapestiy richly wrought 
And woven close, or needlework sublime. 
There might ye see the peony spread wide, 
The full-blown rose, the shepherd and his lass, 
Lap-dog and lambkin with black staring eyes, 
And parrots with twin cherries in their beak. 

Now came the cane from India, smooth and bright 
With Nature's varnish, severed into stripes 40 

That interlaced each other, these supplied 
Of texture firm a lattice- work, that braced 
The new machine, and it became a Chair. 
But restless was the chair ; the back erect 
Distressed the weary loins, that felt no ease ; 
The slippery seat betrayed the sliding part 
That pressed it, and the feet hung dangling down, 
Anxious in vain to find the distant floor. 
These for the rich ; the rest, whom fate had placed 
In modest mediocrity, content 50 

With base materials, sat on well-tanned hides 
Obdurate and unyielding, glassy smooth, 
With here and there a tuft of crimson yarn, 
Or scarlet crewel in the cushion fixed : 
If cushion might be called what harder seemed 
Than the firm oak of which the frame was formed. 
No want of timber then was felt or feared 
In Albion's happy isle. The lumber stood 
Ponderous, and fixed by its own massy weight. 
But elbows still were wanting ; these, some say, 60 

An alderman of Cripplegate contrived, 
And some ascribe the invention to a priest 
Burly and big, and studious of his ease. 
But rude at first, and not with easy slope 
Receding wide, they pressed against the ribs, 
And bruised the side, and elevated high 
Taught the raised shoulders to invade the ears. 
Long time elapsed or e'er our rugged sires 
Complained, though incommodiously pent in, 
And ill at ease behind. The ladies first '/o 

'Gan murmur, as became the softer sex. 
Ingenious Fancy, never better pleased 
Than when employed to accommodate the fair, 
Heard the sweet moan with pity, and devised 
The soft SETTEE ; one elbow at each end, 
And in the midst an elbow, it received, 
United yet divided, twain at once. 
80 sit two kings of Brentford on one throne ; 
And so two citizens who take the air 



THE SOFA. 185 

Close packed ami smiling, in a chaise and one. 80 

But relaxation of the languid frame, 

By soft recumbency of outstretched limbs, 

Was bliss reserved for happier days ; — so slow 

The growth of what is excellent, so hard 

To attain perfection in this nether world. 

Thus first Necessity invented Stools, 

Convenience next suggested Elbow-chairs, 

And Luxury the accomplished Sofa last. 

The nurse sleeps sweetly, hired to watch the sick, 
Whom snoring she disturbs. As sweetly he 90 

Who quits the coach-box at the midnight hour 
To sleep within the carriage more secure, 
His legs depending at the open door. 
Sweet sleep enjoys the curate in his desk, 
The tedious rector drawling o'er his head, 
And sweet the clerk below : but neither sleep 
Of lazy nurse, who snores the sick man dead, 
Nor his who quits the box at midnight hour 
To slumber in the carriage more secure, 
Nor sleep enjoyed by curate in his desk, 100 

Nor yet the dozings of the clerk, are sweet, 
Compared with the repose the Sofa yields. 

Oh ! may I live exempted (while I live 
Guiltless of pampered appetite obscene) 
From pangs arthritic that infest the toe 
Of libertine excess. The Sofa suits 
The gouty limb, 'tis true ; but gouty limb, 
Though on a Sofa, may I never feel : 
For I have loved the rural walk through lanes 
Of grassy swarth, close cropped by nibbling sheep no 

And skirted thick with intertexture firm 
Of thorny boughs ; have loved the rural walk 
O'er hills, through valleys, and by rivers' brink, 
E'er since a truant boy I passed my bounds 
To enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames ; 
And still remember, nor without regret, 
Of hours that sorrow since has much endeared, 
How oft, my slice of pocket store consumed, 
Still hungering, penniless and far from home, 
I fed on scarlet hips and stony haws, I2C 

Or blushing crabs, or berries that emboss 
The bramble, black as jet, or sloes austere. 
Hard fare ! but such as boyish appetite 
Disdains not, nor the palate undepraved 
By culinary arts, unsavoury deems. 
No Sofa then awaited my return, 
Nor Sofa then I needed. Youth repairs 
His wasted spirits quickly, by long toil 
Incurring short fatigue ; and though our years, 
As life declines, speed rapidly away, 1 30 

And not a year but pilfers as he goes 



1 86 THE TASK. 

Some youthful grace that age would gladly keep, 

A tooth or auburn lock, and by degrees 

Their length and colour from the locks they spare, 

The elastic spring of an unwearied foot 

That mounts the stile with ease, or leaps the fence, 

That play of Jungs, inhaling and again 

Respiring freely the fresh air, that makes 

Swift pace or steep ascent no toil to me, 

Mine have not pilfered yet ; nor yet impaired 140 

My relish of fair prospect : scenes that soothed 

Or charmed me young, no longer young, I find 

Still soothing and of power to charm me still. 

And witness, dear companion of my walks, 

Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive 

Fast locked in mine, with pleasure such as love, 

Confirmed by long experience of thy worth 

And well-tried virtues, could alone inspire, 

Witness a joy that thou hast doubled long. 

Thou knowest my praise of nature most sincere, 150 

And that my raptures are not conjured up 

To serve occasions of poetic pomp, 

,Jiut genuine, and art partner of them all. 

/LHo w oft upon yon eminence our pace 
Has slackened to a pause, and we have borne 
The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew, 
While admiration feeding at the eye, 
And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene. 
Thence with what pleasure have we just discerned 
The distant plough slow moving, and beside 160 

His labouring team, that swerved not from the track, 
The sturdy swain diminished to a boy. 
Here Ouse, slow winding through a level plain 
Of spacious meads with cattle sprinkled o'er, 
Conducts the eye along his sinuous course 
Delighted. There, fast rooted in their bank, 
Stand, never overlooked, our favourite elms, 
That screen the herdsman's solitary hut ; 
While far beyond, and overthwart the stream, 
That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale, 1 70 

The sloping land recedes into the clouds ; 
Displaying on its varied side the grace 
Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tower, 
Tall spire, from which the sound of cheerful bells 
Just undulates upon the listening ear ; 
Groves, heaths, and smoking villages remo te. | 
Scenes must be beautiful which, daily view 
Please daily, and whose novelty survives 
Long knowledge and the scrutiny of years : 
Praise justly due to those that I describe. 1S0 

Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds 
Exhilarate the spirit, and restore 
The tone of languid nature. Mighty winds, 



THE SOFA. 187 

That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood 

Of ancient growth, make music not unlike 

The dash of Ocean on his winding shore, 

And lull the spirit while they fill the mind; 

Unnumbered branches waving in the blast, 

And all their leaves fast fluttering, all at once. 

Nor less composure waits upon the roar \ijO 

Of distant floods, or on the softer voice 

Of neighbouring fountain, or of rills that slip 

Through the cleft rock, and chiming as they fall 

Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length 

In matted grass, that with a livelier green 

Betrays the secret of their silent course. 

Nature inanimate employs sweet sounds, 

But animated nature sweeter still, 

To soothe and satisfy the human ear. 

Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one 200 

The livelong night: nor these alone, whose notes 

Nice-fingered art must emulate in vain, 

But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime 

In still repeated circles, screaming loud ; 

The jay, the pie, and even the boding owl 

That hails the rising moon, have charms for me. 

Sounds inharmonious in themselves and harsh, 

Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns, 

And only there, please highly for their sake. 

Peace to the artist, whose ingenious thought 210 

Devised the weather-house, that useful toy ! 
Fearless of humid air and gathering rains 
Forth steps the man, — an emblem of myself, — 
More delicate, his timorous mate retires. 
AN hen AY inter soaks the fields, and female feet, 
Too weak to struggle with tenacious clay, 
Or ford the rivulets, are best at home, 
The task of new discoveries falls on me. 
At such a season, and with such a charge, 
Once went I forth, and found, till then unknown, 220 

A cottage, whither oft we since repair : 
'Tis perched upon the green-hill top, but close 
Environed with a ring of branching elms 
That overhang the thatch, itself unseen, 
Peeps at the vale below ; so thick beset 
With foliage of such dark redundant growth, 
I called the low-roofed lodge the Peasant's Nest. 
And hidden as it is, and far remote 
From such unpleasing sounds as haunt the ear 
In village or in town, the bay of curs 230 

Incessant, clinking hammers, grinding wheels, 
And infants clamorous whether pleased or pained, 
Oft have I wished the peaceful covert mine. 
Here, I have said, at least I should possess 
The poet's treasure, silence, and indulge 



THE TASK. 

The dreams of fancy, tranquil and secure. 

Vain thought ! the dweller in that still retreat 

Dearly obtains the refuge it affords. 

Its elevated site forbids the wretch 

To drink sweet waters of the crystal well ; 240 

He clips his bowl into the weedy ditch, 

And heavy-laden brings his beverage home, 

Far-fetched and little worth : nor seldom waits, 

Dependent on the baker's punctual call, 

To hear his creaking panniers at the door, 

Angry and sad, and his last crust consumed. 

So farewell envy of the Peasant's Nest. 

If solitude make scant the means of life, 

Society for me ! — Thou seeming sweet, 

Be still a pleasing object in my view, 250 

My visit still, but never mine abode. 

Not distant far, a length of colonnade 
Invites us : monument of ancient taste, 
Now scorned, but worthy of a better fate. 
Our fathers knew the value of a screen 
From sultry suns, and in their shaded walks 
And long protracted bowers enjoyed at noon 
The gloom and coolness of declining day. 
We bear our shades about us ; self-deprived 
Of other screen, the thin umbrella spread, 260 

And range an Indian waste without a tree. 
Thanks to Benevolus * — he spares me yet 
These chestnuts ranged in corresponding lines, 
And, though himself so polished, still reprieves 
The obsolete prolixity of shade. 

Descending now (but cautious, lest too fast) 
A sudden steep, upon a rustic bridge, 
We pass a gulf, in which the willows dip 
Their pendent boughs, stooping as if to drink. 
Hence, ankle-deep in moss and flowery thyme, 270 

We mount again, and feel at every step 
Our foot half sunk in hillocks green and soft, 
Raised by the mole, the miner of the soil. 
He, not unlike the great ones of mankind, 
Disfigures earth, and, plotting in the dark, 
Toils much to earn a monumental pile, 
That may record the mischiefs he has dene. 

The summit gained, behold the proud alcove 
That crowns it ! yet not all its pride secures 
The grand retreat from injuries impressed 280 

By rural carvers, who with knives deface 
The panels, leaving an obscure, rude name, 
In characters uncouth, and spelt amiss. 
So strong the zeal to immortalize himself 
Beats in the breast of man, that even a few, 

* John Courtenay Throckmorton, Esq , of Weston Underwood, 



I 



THE SOFA. 189 

Few transient years, won from the abyss abhorred 

Of blank oblivion, seem a glorious prize, 

And even to a clown. Now roves the eye, 

Ami posted on this speculative height 

Exults in its command. The sheepfold here 290 

Pours out its fleecy tenants o'er the gl 

At first, progressive as a stream, they seek 

The middle field ; but scattered by degrees, 

Each to his choice, scon whiten all the land. 

There from the sunburnt hayfield, homeward creeps 

The loaded wain, while, lightened of its charge, 

The wain that meets it passes swiftly by, 

The boorish driver leaning o'er his team 

Vociferous, and impatient of delay. 

Xor less attractive is the woodland scene, 300 

Diversified with trees of every growth, 

Alike yet various. Here the grey smooth trunks 

( )f ash, or lime, or beech, distinctly shine, 

Within the twilight of their distant shades; 

There lost behind a rising ground, the wood 

Seems sunk, and shortened to its topmost boughs. 

No tree in all the grove but has its charms, 

Though each its hue peculiar : paler some, 

And of a wannish grey ; the willow such, 

And poplar that with silver lines his leaf, 310 

And ash far stretching his umbrageous arm ; 

Of deeper green the elm ; and deeper still, 

Lord of the woods, the long-surviving oak. 

Some glossy-leaved, and shining in the sun, 

The maple, and the beech of oily nuts 

Prolific, and the lime at dewy eve 

Diffusing odours : nor unnoted pass 

The sycamore, capricious in attire, 

Now green, now tawny, and ere autumn yet 

Have changed the woods, in scarlet honours bright. 320 

O'er these, but far beyond (a spacious map 

Of hill and valley interposed between), 

The Ouse, dividing the well-watered land, 

Now glitters in the sun, and now retires, 

As bashful, yet impatient to be seen. 

Hence the declivity is sharp and short, 
And such the re-ascent ; between them weeps 
A little naiad her impoverished urn 
All summer long, which winter fills again. 
The folded gates would bar my progress now, 330 

But that the lord of this enclosed demesne, 
Communicative of the good he owns, 
Admits me to a share : the guiltless eye 
Commits no wrong, nor wastes what it enjoys. 
Refreshing change ! where how the blazing sun ? "K^ 
By short transition we have lost his glare, 
And stepped at once into a cooler clime. 



190 



THE TASK. 



Ye fallen avenues ! once more I mourn 

Your fate unmerited, once more rejoice 

That yet a remnant of your race survives. 34° 

How airy and how light the graceful arch, 

Yet awful as the consecrated roof ■ 

Re-echoing pious anthems ! while beneath 

The chequered earth seems restless as a flood 

Brushed by the wind. So sportive is the light 

Shot through the boughs, it dances as they dance, 

Shadow and sunshine intermingling quick, 

And darkening and enlightening, as the leaves 

Play wanton, every moment, ev ,-ry spot. 

And now, with nerves new-braced and spirits cheered, 350 
We tread the Wilderness, whose well-rolled walks, 
YVith curvature of slow and easy sweep — 
Deception innocent — give ample space 
To narrow bounds. The Grove receives us next ; 
Between the upright shafts of whose tall elms 
We may discern the thresher at his task. 
Thump after thump resounds the constant flail, 
That seems to swing uncertain, and yet falls 
Full on the destined ear. Wide flies the chaff; 
The rustling straw sends up a frequent mist 360 

Of atoms, sparkling in the noonday beam. 
Come hither, ye that press your beds of down 
And sleep not ; see him sweating o'er his bread 
Before he eats it. — 'Tis the primal curse, 
But softened into mercy ; made the pledge 
Of cheerful days, and nights without a groan. 

By ceaseless action all that is subsists. 
Constant rotation of the unwearied wheel 
That Nature rides upon, maintains her health, 
Her beauty, her fertility. She dreads 370 

An instant's pause, and lives but while she moves. 
Its own revolvency upholds the world. 
Winds from all quarters agitate the air, 
And fit the limpid element for use, 
Else noxious : oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams, 
All feel the freshening impulse, and are cleansed 
By restless undulation. Even the oak 
Thrives by the rude concussion of the storm : 
He seems indeed indignant, and to feel 

The impression of the blast with proud disdain, 380 

Frowning as if in his unconscious arm 
He held the thunder. But the monarch owes 
His firm stability to what he scorns, 
More fixed below, the more disturbed above. 
The law by which all creatures else are bound, 
Binds man, the lord of all. Himself derives 
No mean advantage from a kindred cause, 
From strenuous toil his hours of sweetest ease. 
The sedentary stretch their lazy length 



THE SOFA. 191 

When custom bids, but no refreshment find, 390 

For none they need : the languid eye, the cheek 

Deserted of its bloom, the flaccid, shrunk, 

And withered muscle, and the vapid soul, 

Reproach their owner with that love of rest 

To which he forfeits even the rest he loves. 

Not such the alert and active. Measure life 

By its true worth, the comforts it affords, 

And theirs alone seems worthy of the name. 

Good health, and its associate in the most, 

Good temper ; spirits prompt to undertake, 400 

And not soon spent, though in an arduous task ; 

The powers of fancy and strong thought, are theirs ; 

Even age itself seems privileged in them 

With clear exemption from its own defects. 

A sparkling eye beneath a wrinkled front 

The veteran shows, and gracing a grey beard 

With youthful smiles, descends toward the grave 

Sprightly, and old almost without decay. 

Like a coy maiden, Ease, when courted most, 
Farthest retires — an idol, at whose shrine 410 

Who oftenest sacrifice are favoured least. 
The love of Nature, and the scenes she draws, 
Is Nature's dictate. Strange there should be found 
Who, self-imprisoned in their proud saloons, 
Renounce the odours of the open field 
For the unscented fictions of the loom ; 
Who, satisfied with only pencilled scenes, 
Prefer to the performance of a God 
The inferior wonders of an artist's hand. 
Lovely indeed the mimic works of Art, 420 

But Nature's works far lovelier. I admire, 
None more admires, the painter's magic skill, 
Who shows me that which I shall never see, 
Conveys a distant country into mine, 
And throws Italian light on English walls : 
But imitative strokes can do no more 
Than please the eye — sweet Nature every sense. 
The air salubrious of her lofty hills, 
The cheering fragrance of her dewy vales, 
And music of her woods — no works of man 430 

May rival these ; these all bespeak a power 
Peculiar, and exclusively her own. 
Beneath the open sky she spreads the feast ; 
'Tis free to all — 'tis every day renewed ; 
Who scorns it, starves deservedly at home. 
He does not scorn it, who, imprisoned long 
In some unwholesome dungeon, and a prey 
To sallow sickness, which the vapours dank 
And clammy of his dark abode have bred, 
Escapes at last to liberty and light : 440 

His cheek recovers soon its healthful hue, 



192 THE TASK. 

His eye relumines its extinguished fires, 

He walks, he leaps, he runs — is winged with joy, 

And riots in the sweets of every breeze. 

He does not scorn it, who has long endured 

A fever's agonies, and fed on drugs. 

Nor yet the mariner, his blood inflamed 

With acrid salts ; his very heart athirst 

To gaze at Nature in her green array, 

Upon the ship's tall side he stands, possessed 450 

"With visions prompted by intense desire : 

Fair fields appear below, such as he left 

Far distant, such as he would die to find, — 

He seeks them headlong, and is seen no more. 

The spleen is seldom felt where Flora reigns ; 
The lowering eye, the petulance, the frown, 
And sullen sadness, that o'ershade, distort, 
And mar the face of beauty, when no cause 
For such immeasurable woe appears, 

These Flora banishes, and gives the fair 460 

Sweet smiles, and bloom less transient than her own. 
It is the constant revolution, stale 
And tasteless, of the same repeated joys, 
That palls and satiates, and makes languid life 
A pedler's pack, that bows the bearer down. 
Health suffers, and the spirits ebb ; the heart 
Recoils from its own choice — at the full feast 
Is famished — finds no music in the song, 
No smartness in the jest, and wonders why. 
Yet thousands still desire to journey on, 470 

Though halt, and weary of the path they tread. 
The paralytic who can hold her cards 
But cannot play them, borrows a friend's hand 
To deal and shuffle, to divide and sort 
Her mingled suits and sequences, and sits 
Spectatress both and spectacle, a sad 
And silent cipher, while her proxy plays. 
Others are dragged into the crowded room 
Between supporters ; and, once seated, sit 
Through downright inability to rise, 480 

Till the stout bearers lift the corpse again. 
These speak a loud memento. Yet even these 
Themselves love life, and cling to it, as he 
That overhangs a torrent, to a twig. 
They love it, and yet loathe it ; fear to die, 
Yet scorn the purposes for which they live. 
Then wherefore not renounce them ? No — the dread, 
The slavish dread of solitude, that breeds 
Reflection and remorse, the fear of shame, 
And their inveterate habits, all forbid. 490 

Whom call we gay? That honour has been long 
The boast of mere pretenders to the name. 
The innocent are gay — the lark is gay, 



THE SOI' A. t 91 

That dries his feathers saturate with dew 

Beneath the rosy cloud, while yet the beams 

Of dayspring overshoot his humble nest. 

The peasant too, a witness of his song, 

Himself a songster, is as gay as he. 

Jlut save me from the gaiety of those 

Whose headaches nail them to a noonday bed : 500 

And save me too from theirs whose haggard eyes 

Flasb desperation, and betray their pangs 

For property stripped oft by cruel chance ; 

From gaiety that fills the bones with pain. 

The mouth with blasphemy, the heart with woe. 

The earth was made so various, that the mind 
Of desultory man, studious of change, 
And pleased with novelty, might be indulged. 
Prospects, however lovely, may be seen 

Till half their beauties fade ; the weary sight, 510 

Too well acquainted with their smiles, slides off 
Fastidious, seeking less familiar scenes. 
Then snug enclosures in the sheltered vale, 
Where frequent hedges intercept the eye, 
Delight us, happy to renounce awhile, 
Not senseless of its charms, what still we love, 
That such short absence may endear it more. 
Then forests, or the savage rock, may please, 
That hides the sea-mew in his hollow clefts 
Above the reach of man : his hoary head, 520 

Conspicuous many a league, the mariner 
Bound homeward, and in hope already there, 
Greets with three cheers exulting. At his waist 
A girdle of half-withered shrubs he shows, 
And at his feet the baffled billows die. 
The common, overgrown with fern, and rough 
With prickly gorse, that, shapeless and deformed, 
And dangerous to the touch, has yet its bloom, 
And decks itself with ornaments of gold, 
Yields no unpleasing ramble ; there the turf 5 30 

Smells fresh, and, rich in odoriferous herbs 
And fungous fruits of earth, regales the sense 
With luxury of unexpected sweets. 

There often wanders one, whom better days 
Saw better clad, in cloak of satin trimmed 
With lace, and hat with splendid riband bound. 
A serving-maid was she, and fell in love 
With one who left her, went to sea, and died. 
Her fancy followed him through foaming waves 
To distant shores, and she would sit and weep 540 

At what a sailor suffers ; fancy too, 
Delusive most where warmest wishes are, 
Would oft anticipate his glad return, 
And dream of transports she was not to know. 
She heard the doleful tidings of his death, 



194 Till; 



And never smiled again. And now she roams 

The dreary waste ; there spends the livelong day, 

And there, unless when charity forbids, 

The livelong night. A tattered apron ! 

Worn as a cloak, and hardly hides, a gown 550 

More tattered still ; and both but ill conceal 

A bosom heaved with never-ceasing sighs. 

She begs an idle pin of all she meets, 

And hoards them in her sleeve ; but needful food, 

Though pressed with hunger oft, or comelier cloth 

Though pinched with cold, asks never. — Kate is cn;zed. 

I see a column of slow- rising smoke 
O'ertop the lofty wood that skirts the wild. 
A vagabond and useless tribe there eat 

Their miserable meal. A kettle, slung 560 

Between two poles upon a stick transverse, 
Receives the. morsel ; flesh obscene of dog, 
Or vermin, or, at best, of cock purloined 
From his accustomed perch. Hard-faring race ! 
They pick their fuel out of every hedge, 
Which, kindled with dry leaves, just saves unquenched 
The spark of life. The sportive wind blows wide 
Their fluttering rags, and shows a tawny skin, 
The vellum of the pedigree they claim. 

Great skill have they in palmistry, and more 570 

To conjure clean away the gold they touch, 
Conveying worthless dross into its place ; 
Loud when they beg, dumb only when they v 
Strange ! that a creature rational, and cast 
In human mould, should brutalize by choice 
His nature, and, though capable of arts 
By which the world might profit and himself, 
Self banished from society, prefer 
Such squalid sloth to honourable toil ! 

Yet even these, though, feigning sickness oft, 5S0 

They swathe the forehead, drag the limping limb. 
And vex their flesh with artificial sores. 
Can change their whine into a mirthful note 
When safe occasion offers ; and with dance, 
And music of the bladder and the bag, 
Beguile their woes, and make the wo^ds resound. 
Such health and gaiety of heart enjoy 
The houseless rovers of the sylvan world ; 
And breathing wholesome air, and wandering knticl . 

<4 her physic none to heal the c'Jt 590 

Of loathsome diet, penury, and cold. 

Blest he, though undistinguished from the crowd 
By wealth or dignity, \\ I 
Where man, by nature fierce, has kid a-dde 
His fierceness, having learnt, though slow to learn, 
The manners and the arts of civil life. 
His wants, indeed, are many ; but supply 



THE SOFA. 



Is obvious ; placed within the easy reach 

Of temperate wishes and industrious hands. 

Ik-re Virtue thrives as in her proper soil ; 600 

Nm rude and surly, and beset with thorns, 

And terrible to sight, as when she springs 

(If e'er she spring spontaneous) in remote 

And barbarous climes, where violence prevails, 

And strength is lord of all ; but gentle, kind, 

By culture tamed, by liberty refreshed, 

And all her fruits by radiant truth matured. 

War and the chase engross the savage whole : 

War followed for revenge, or to supplant 

The envied tenants of some happier spot ; 610 

The chase for sustenance, precarious trust ! 

His hard condition with severe constraint 

Binds all his faculties, forbids all growth 

Of wisdom, proves a school in which he learns 

Sly circumvention, unrelenting hate, 

Mean self-attachment, and scarce aught beside. 

Thus fare the shivering natives of the north, 

And thus the rangers of the western world, 

Where it advances far into the deep, 

Towards the Antarctic. Even the favoured isles, 620 

So lately found, although the constant sun 

Cheer all their seasons with a grateful smile, 

Can boast but little virtue: and, inert 

Through plenty, lose in morals what they gain 

In manners — victims of luxurious ease. 

These therefore I can pity, placed remote 

From all that science traces, art invents, 

Or inspiration teaches ; and enclosed 

In boundless oceans, never to be passed 

By navigators uninformed as they, 630 

Or ploughed perhaps by British bark again. 

But far beyond the rest, and with most cause, 

Thee, gentle savage ! * whom no love of thee 

Or thine, but curiosity, perhaps, 

Or else vain-glory, prompted us to draw 

Forth from thy native bowers, to show thee here 

With what superior skill we can abuse 

The gifts of Providence, and squander life. 

The dream is past ; and thou hast found again 

Thy cocoas and bananas, palms and yams, 640 

And homestall thatched with leaves. But hast thou found 

Their former charms ? And having seen our state, 

Our palaces, our ladies, and our pomp 

Of equipage, our gardens, and our sports, 

And heard our music ; are thy simple friends, 

Thy simple fare, and all thy plain delights 

As dear to theeas once? And have thy joys 

. * Omai. 
o 2 



'95 



'96 THE TASK. 

Lost nothing by comparison with ours ? 

Rude as thou art (for we returned thee rude 

And ignorant, except of outward show), 650 

I cannot think thee yet so dull of heart 

And spiritless, as never to regret 

Sweets tasted here, and left as soon as known. 

Methinks I see thee straying on the beach, 

And asking of the surge that bathes thy foot 

If ever it has washed our distant shore. 

I see thee weep, and thine are honest tears, 

A patriot's for his country : thou art sad 

At thought of her forlorn and abject state, 

From which no power of thine can raise her up. 660 

Thus fancy paints thee, and, though apt to err, 

Perhaps errs little when she paints thee thus. 

She tells me too, that duly every morn 

Thou climb'st the mountain top, with eager eye 

Exploring far and wide the watery waste 

For sight of ship from England. Every speck 

Seen in the dim horizon turns thee pale 

With conflict of contending hopes and fears. 

But comes at last the dull and dusky eve, 

And sends thee to thy cabin, well prepared 670 

To dream all night of what the day denied. 

Alas ! expect it not. We found no bait 

To tempt us in thy country. Doing good, 

Disinterested good, is not our trade. 

We travel far, 'tis true, but not for nought ; 

And must be bribed to compass earth again 

By other hopes and richer fruits than yours. 

But though true worth and virtue, in the mild 
And genial soil of cultivated life, 

Thrive most, and may perhaps thrive only there, 680 

Yet not in cities oft : in proud and gay 
And gain-devoted cities. Thither flow, 
As to a common and most noisome sewer, 
The dregs and feculence of every land. 
In cities foul example on most minds 
Begets its likeness. Rank abundance breeds 
In gross and pampered cities sloth and lust, 
And wantonness and gluttonous excess. 
In cities vice is hidden with most ease, 

Or seen with least reproach ; and virtue, taught 6go 

By frequent lapse, can hope no triumph there 
Beyond the achievement of successful flight. 
I do confess them nurseries of the arts, 
In which they flourish most ; where, in the 1 
Of warm encouragement, and in the eye 
( )f public note, they reach their perfect size. 
Such London is, by taste and wealth proclaimed 
The fairest capital of all the world, 
By riot and incontinence the worst. 



THE SOFA. 

There, touched by Reynolds, a dull blank be 700 

A lucid mirror, in which Nature sees 

All her reflected features, liacon there 

Gives more than female beauty to a stone, 

And Chatham's eloquence to marble lips. 

Nor does the chisel occupy alone 

The powers of Sculpture, but the style as much ; 

Each province of her art her equal care. 

With nice incision of her guided steel 

She ploughs a brazen field, and clothes a soil 

So sterile with what charms soe'er she will, 710 

The richest scenery and the loveliest forms. 

Where finds Philosophy her eagle eye, 

With which she gazes at yon burning disk 

Undazzled, and detects and counts his spots? 

In London. Where her implements exact, 

With which she calculates, computes, and scans 

All distance, motion, magnitude, and now 

Measures an atom, and now girds a world ? 

In London. Where has commerce such a mart. 

So rich, so thronged, so drained, and so supplied, 720 

As London, opulent, enlarged, and still 

Increasing London ? Babylon of old 

Not more the glory of the earth than she, 

A more accomplished world's chief glory now. 

She has her praise. Now mark a spot or two 
That so much beauty would do well to purge ; 

And show this queen of cities, that so fair 

May yet be foul, so witty yet not wise. 

It is not seemly, nor of good report, 

That she is slack in discipline ; more prompt 730 

To avenge than to prevent the breach of law ; 

That she is rigid in denouncing death 

On petty robbers, and indulges life 

And liberty, and ofttimes honour too, 

To peculators of the public gold ; 

That thieves at home must hang, but he that puts 

Into his overgorged and bloated purse 

The wealth of Indian provinces, escapes. 

Nor is it well, nor can it come to good, 

That, through profane and infidel contempt 740 

Of Holy Writ, she has presumed to annul 

And abrogate, as roundly as she may, 

The total ordinance and will of God ; 

Advancing Fashion to the post of Truth, 

And centering all authority in modes 

And customs of her own, till Sabbath rites 

Have dwindled into unrespected forms, 

And knees and hassocks are well-nigh divorced. 

God made the country, and man made the town : 
What wonder then that health and virtue, gifts 750 

That can alone make sweet the bitter draught 



'97 



i 9 8 THE TASK. 

That life holds out to all, should most abound 

And least be threatened in the fields and groves? 

Possess ye therefore, ye who, borne about 

In chariots and sedans, know no fatigue 

But that of idleness, and taste no scenes 

But such as art contrives, possess ye still 

Your element ; there only ye can shine, 

There only minds like yours can do no harm. 

Our groves were planted to console at noon 760 

The pensive wanderer in their shades. At eve 

The moonbeam, sliding softly in between 

The sleeping leaves, is all the light they wish, 

Birds warbling all the music. We can spare 

The splendour of your lamps, they but eclipse 

Our softer satellite. Your songs confound 

Our more harmonious notes : the thrush departs 

Scared, and the offended nightingale is mute. 

There is a public mischief in your mirth, 

It plagues your country. Folly such as yours 770 

Graced with a sword, and worthier of a fan, 

Has made, what enemies could ne'er have done, 

Our arch of empire, steadfast but for you, 

A mutilated structure, soon to fall. 



BOOK II. 

THE TIME-PIECE. 

Argument. — Reflections suggested by the conclusion of the former book — Peace among the 
nations recommended on the ground of their common fellowship in sorrow — Prodigies enume- 
rated — Sicilian earthquakes — Man rendered obnoxious to these calamities by sin — God the 
agent in them — The philosophy that stops at secondary causes reproved— Our own late mis- 
carriages accounted for — Satirical notice taken of our trips to Fontainblcau — But the pulpit, not 
satire, the proper engine of reformation — The reverend advertiser of engraved sermons— Petit- 
maltre parson — The good preacher — Picture of a theatrical clerical coxcomb — Story-tellers and 
jesters in the pulpit reproved — Apostrophe to popular applause — Retailers of ancient philosophy 
expostulated with — Sum of the whole matter — Effects of sacerdotal mismanagement on the laity 
— Their folly and extravagance — The mischiefs of profusion — Profusion itself, with all its conse- 
quent evils, ascribed, as to its principal cause, to the want of discipline in the universities. 

Olt for a lodge in some vast wilderness, 

Some boundless contiguity of shade, 

Where rumour of oppression and deceit, 

Of unsuccessful or successful war, 

Might never reach me more ! My ear is pained, 

My soul is sick witli every day's reporj 

( )f wrong and outrage with which earth is filled. 

There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart, 

It does not feel for man : the natural bond 



THE Ti /'• 199 

I M brotherhood I as the flax 10 

That falls asunder at the touch of fire. 

He finds his fellow guilty of a skin 

Not coloured like his own, and having power 

To enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause 

Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey. 

Lands intersected by a narrow frith 

Abhor each other. Mountains inter) 0-0 1 

Make enemies of nations who had else 

Like kindred drops been mingled into one. 

Thus man devotes his. brother, and destroys; 20 

And worse than all, and most to be deplored, 

As human nature's broadest, foulest bl 

Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat 

With stripes that Mercy, with a bleeding heart, 

Weeps when she sees inflicted on a beast. 

Then what is man? And what man seeing this, 

And having human feelings, docs not blush 

And hang his head, to think himself a man? 

I would not have a slave to till my ground, 

To carry me, to fan me while I sleep, 50 

And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth 

That sinews bought and sold have ever earned. 

No : dear as freedom is, and in my heart's 

Just estimation prized above all price, 

I had much rather be myself the slave 

And wear the bonds, than fasten them on him. 

We have no slaves at home. — Then why ab. 

And they themselves once ferried o'er the wave 

That parts us, are emancipate and loosed. 

Slaves cannot breathe in England ; if their lu.igs 4c 

Receive our air, that moment they are free, 

They touch our country, and their shackles fall. 

That's noble, and bespeaks a nation proud 

And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then, 

And let it circulate through every vein 

Of all your empire ; that where Britain's power 

Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too. 

Sure there is need of social intercourse, 
Benevolence, and peace, and mutual aid. 
Between the nations, in a world that seems ^o 

To toll the death-bell of its own decease, 
And by the voice of all its element. 
To preach the general doom.* When were the winds 
Let slip with such a warrant to destroy ? 
When did the waves so haughtily o'erleap 
Their ancient barriers, deluging the dry? 
Fires from beneath, and meteors t from above, 
Portentous, unexampled, unexplained, 

* Alluding to the late calamities in Jamaica, 
t Aue. 18, 1783. 

1 



200 THE TASK. 

Have kindled beacons in the skies, and the old 
And crazy earth has had her shaking fits 60 

More frequent, and foregone her usual rest. 
Is it a time to wrangle, when the props 
And pillars of our planet seem to fail, 
And Nature* with a dim and sickly eye 
To wait the close of all ? But grant her end 
More distant, and that prophecy demands 
A longer respite, unaccomplished yet ; 
Still they are frowning signals, and bespeak 
Displeasure in His breast who smites the earth 
Or heals it, makes it languish or rejoice. 70 

And 'tis but seemly that, where all deserve 
And stand exposed by common peccancy 
To what no few have felt, there should be peace, 
And brethren in calamity should love. 
Alas for Sicily ! rude fragments now 
Lie scattered where the shapely column stood. 
Her palaces are dust. In all her streets 
The voice of singing and the sprightly chord 
Are silent. Revelry and dance and show 
Suffer a syncope and solemn pause, £0 

While God pertorms upon the trembling stage 
Of His own works His dreadful part alone. 
How does the earth receive Him ? — with what signs 
Of gratulation and delight, her King? 
Pours she not all her choicest fruits abroad, 
Her sweetest flowers, her aromatic gums, 
Disclosing Paradise where'er He treads ? 
She quakes at His approach. Her hollow womb 
Conceiving thunders, through a thousand deeps 
And fiery caverns, roars beneath His foot. 90 

The hills move lightly, and the mountains smoke, 
For He has touched them. From the extremest point 
Of elevation down into the abyss, 
His wrath is busy and His frown is felt. 
The rocks fall headlong, and the valleys rise, 
The rivers die into offensive pools, 
And, charged with putrid verdure, breathe a gross 
And mortal nuisance into all the air. 
What solid was, by transformation strange 
Grows fluid, and the fixed and rooted earth, ICO 

Tormented into billows, heaves and swells, 
Or with vortiginous and hideous whirl 
Sucks down its prey insatiable. Immense 
The tumult and the overthrow, the Jiangs 
And agonies of human and of brute 
Multitudes, fugitive on every side, 
And fugitive in vain. The sylvan scene 
Migrates uplifted, and with all its soil 

* Alluding to the fog that covered both Europe and Asia during the whole summer of 1783. 



THE TIME-PIECE. 



Alighting in far distant fields, finds out 

A new possessor, and survives the change. no 

( Vcan has caught the frenzy, and upwrought 

To an enormous and o'erbearing height, 

Not by a mighty wind, but by that voice 

Which winds and waves obey, invades the shore 

Resistless. Never such a sudden flood, 

I'pridged so high, and sent on such a charge, 

ssed an inland scene. Where now the throng 
That pressed the beach, and hasty to depart 
Looked to the sea for safety? They are gone, 
Gone with the refluent wave into the deep — 120 

A prince with half his people! Ancient towers, 
And roofs embattled high, the gloomy scenes 
Where beauty oft and lettered worth consume 
Life in the unproductive shades of death, 
Fall prone ; the pale inhabitants come forth, 
And, happy in their unforeseen release 
From all the rigours of restraint, enjoy 
The terrors of the day that sets them free. 
Who then that has thee would not hold thee fa^t, 
Freedom ! whom they that lose thee, so regret, 130 

That even a judgment making way for thee 
Seems in their eyes a mercy, for thy sake. 

Such evil sin hath wrought ; and such a flame 
Kindled in heaven, that it burns down to earth, 
And in the furious inquest that it makes 
On God's behalf, lays waste His fairest works. 
The very elements, though each be meant 
The minister of man, to serve his wants, 
Conspire against him. With his breath he draws 
A plague into his blood ; and cannot use 140 

Life's necessary means, but he must die. 
Storms rise to o'erwhelm him : or if stormy winds 
Rise not, the waters of the deep shall rise, 
And needing none assistance of the storm, 
Shall roll themselves ashore, and reach him there. 
The earth shall shake him out of all his holds, 
Or make his house his grave : nor so content, 
Shall counterfeit the motions of the flood, 
And drown him in her dry and dusty gulfs. 
What then? — were they the wicked above all, 150 

And we the righteous, whose fast-anchored isle 
Moved not, while theirs was rocked like a light skiff, 
The sport of every wave ? No : none are clear, 
And none than we more guilty. But where all 
Stand chargeable with guilt, and to the shafts 
Of wrath obnoxious, God may choose His mark, 
May punish, if He please, the less, to warn 
The more malignant. If He spared not them, 
Tremble and be amazed at thine escape, 
Far guiltier England ! lest He spare not thee. 160 



20 : 'J' HE 7: ISA'. 

Happy the man who sees a God employed 
In all the good and ill that chequer life ! 
Resolving all events, with their effects 
And manifold results, into the will 
And arbitration wise of the Supreme. 
Did not His eye rule all things, and intend 
The least of our concerns, (since from the least 
The greatest oft originate, ) could chance 
Find place in His dominion, or dispose 

One lawless particle to thwart His plan, ' 170 

Then God might be surprised, and unforeseen 
Contingence might alarm Him, and disturb 
The smooth and equal course of His affai rst 
This truth Philosophy, though eagle-eyed 
In nature's tendencies, oft overlooks, 
And, having found His instrument, forget* 
Or disregards, or, more presumptuous still, 
Denies the power that wills it. God proclaims 
His hot displeasure against foolish men 

That live an atheist life : involves the heaven 1S0 

In tempests ; quits His grasp upon the wind-., 
And gives them all their fury ; bids a plague- 
Kindle a fiery boil upon the skin, • 
And putrefy the breath of blooming health. 
He calls for Famine, and the meagre fiend 
Blows mildew from between his shrivelled lips, 
And taints the golden ear. He springs His mines. 
And desolates a nation at a blast. 
Forth steps the spruce philosopher, and tells 
Of homogeneal and discordant springs 190 

And principles ; of causes, how they work 
By necessary laws their sure effects ; 
Of action and reaction. He has found 
The source of the disease that nature feels, 
And bids the world take heart and banish fear. 
Thou fool ! will thy discovery of the cause 
Suspend the effect, or heal it ? Has not God 
Still wrought by means since first He made the world. 
And did He not of old employ I lis means 
To drown it ? What is His creation ks^ 200 

Than a capacious reservoir of means 
Formed for His use, and ready at His will? 
Go, dress thine eye* with eye-salve, ask vi~ llim, 
( )r ask of whomsoever He has taught, 
And learn, though late, the genuine eause of all. 

England, with :dl thy faults, ] love thee still. 
My country! and, while yet a 1101 >k is left 
Where English minds and manners may be found. 
Shall be constrained to love thee. Though thy < 
Be fickle, and thy year, most part, deformed Cic 

With dripping rains, or withered by a frost, 
I. would not yet e,\ch. , #\ ujji 



THE TIME-TIECE. 303 






And fields without a flower, for warmer France 

With all her vines ; npr for Ausonia's groves 

Of golden fruitage, and her myrtle bowers. 

To shake thy senate, and from heights sublime 

Of patriot eloquence to flash down lire 

Upon thy foes, was never meant my task ; 

But I can feel thy fortunes, and partake 

Thy joys and sorrows with as true a heart 220 

As any thunderer there. And I can feel 

Thy follies too, and with a just disdain 

Frown at effeminates, who>e very looks 

Reflect dishonour on the land I love. 

How, in the name of soldiership and sense, 

Should England prosper, when such things, as smooth 

And tender as a girl, all-essenced o'er 

With odours, and as profligate as sweet, 

Who sell their laurel for a myrtle wreath, 

And love when they should fight, — when such as. these 230 

Presume to lay their hand upon the ark 

Of her magnificent and awful cause ? 

Time was when it was praise and boast enough 

In every clime, and travel where we might, 

That we were born her children ; praise enough 

To fill the ambition of a private man, 

That Chatham's language was his mother tongue, 

And Wolfe's great name compatriot with his own. 

Farewell those honours, and farewell with them 

The hope of such hereafter ! They have fallen 240 

Each in his field of glory : one in arms, 

And one in council — Wolfe upon the lap 

Of smiling Victory that moment won, 

And Chatham, heart-sick of his country's shame ! 

They made us many soldiers. Chatham still 

Consulting England's happiness at home, 

Secured it by an unforgiving frown 

If any wronged her. Wolfe, where'er he fought, 

Put so much of his heart into his act, 

That his example had a magnet's force, 250 

And all were swift to follow whom all loved. 

Those suns are set. Oh rise some other such ! 

Or all that we have left is empty taik 

Of old achievements, and despair of new. 

Now hoist the sail, and let the streamers float 
Upon the wanton breezes. Strew the deck 
With lavender, and sprinkle liquid sweets, 
That no rude savour maritime invade 
The nose of nice nobility. Ureathe soft. 
Ye clarionets, and softer still, ye flutes, 260 

That winds and waters lulled by magic sounds 
May bear us smoothly to the Gallic shore. 
True, we have lost an empire — let it pass. 
True, we may thank the perfidy of France 



204 THE TASK. 

That picked the jewel out of England's crown, 

With all the cunning of an envious shrew. 

And let that pass, — 'twas but a trick of state. 

A brave man knows no malice, but at once 

Forgets in peace, the injuries of war, 

And gives his direst foe a friend's embrace. 270 

And shamed as we have been, to the very beard 

Braved and defied, and in our own sea proved 

Too weak for those decisive blows that once 

Ensured us mastery there, we yet retain 

Some small pre-eminence; we justly boast 

At least superior jockeyship, and claim 

The honours of the turf as all our own. 

Go then, well worthy of the praise ye seek, 

And show the shame ye might conceal at home, 

In foreign eyes ! — be grooms, and win the plate, 280 

Where once your nobler fathers won a crown ! — 

'Tis generous to communicate your skill 

To those that need it. Folly is soon learned : 

And under such preceptors who can fail ! 

There is a pleasure in poetic pains 
Which only poets know. The shifts and turns, 
The expedients and inventions multiform 
To which the mind resorts, in chase of terms 
Though apt, yet coy, and difficult to win, — 
To arrest the Meeting images that fill 290 

The mirror of the mind, and hold them fast, 
And force them sit, till he has pencilled off 
A faithful likeness of the forms he views; 
Then to dispose his copies with such art 
That each may find its most propitious light, 
And shine by situation, hardly less 
Than by the labour and the skill it cost, 
Are occupations of the poet's mind 
So pleasing, and that steal away the thought 
With such address from themes of sad import, 300 

That, lost in his own musings, happy man ! 
He feels the anxieties of life, denied 
Their wonted entertainment, all retire. 
Such joys has he that sings. But ah ! not such, 
Or seldom such, the hearers of his song. 
Fastidious, or else listless, or perhaps 
Aware of nothing arduous in a task 
They never undertook, they little note 
His dangers or escapes, and haply find 

Their least amusement where he found the most. 3 10 

But is amusement all ? Studious of song, 
And yet ambitious not to sing in vain, 
I would not trifle merely, though the world 
Be loudest in their prnise who do no more. 
Yet what can satire, whether grave or gay? 
It may correct a foible, may chastise 



THE TIME-PIECE. 205 



The freaks of fashion, regulate the dress, 

Retrench a sword-blade, or displace a patch ; 

But where are its Sttblimer trophies found ? 

What vice has it subdued? whose heart reclaimed 3:0 

By rigour, or whom laughed into reform ? 

Alas ! Leviathan is not so tamed : 

Laughed at, he laughs again ; and, stricken hard, 

Turns to the stroke his adamantine scales, 

That fear no discipline of human hands. 

The pulpit, therefore (and I name it filled 
With solemn awe, that bids me well beware 
With what intent I touch that holy thing) — 
The pulpit (when the satirist has at last, 
Strutting and vapouring in an empty school, 330 

Spent all his force, and made no proselyte) — ■ 
I say the pulpit (in the sober use 
Of its legitimate, peculiar powers) 
Must stand acknowledged, while the world shall stand, 
The most important and effectual guard, 
Support, and ornament of virtue's cause. 
There stands the messenger of truth. There stands 
The legate of the skies ; his theme divine, 
His office sacred, his credentials clear. 

By him, the violated law speaks out 340 

Its thunders, and by him, in strains as sweet 
As angels use, the Gospel whispers peace. 
He 'stablishes the strong, restores the weak, 
Reclaims the wanderer, binds the broken heart, 
And, armed himself in panoply complete 
Of heavenly temper, furnishes with arms 
Bright as his own, and trains by every rule 
Of holy discipline, to glorious war, 
The sacramental host of God's elect. 

Are all such teachers? Would to Heaven all were ! 350 

But hark, — the Doctor's voice! — fast wedged between 
Two empirics he stands, and with swollen cheeks 
Inspires the news, his trumpet. Keener far 
Than all invective is his bold harangue, 
While through that public organ of report 
He hails the clergy ; and, defying shame, 
Announces to the world his own and theirs. 
He teaches those to read, whom schools dismissed, 
And colleges, untaught ; sells accent, tone, 
And emphasis in score, and gives to prayer 360 

The adagio and andante it demands. 
He grinds divinity of other days 
Down into modern use ; transforms old print 
To zigzag manuscript, and cheats the eyes 
Of gallery critics by a thousand arts. 
Are there who purchase of the Doctor's ware ? 
Oh name it not in Gath ! — it cannot be 
That grave and learned Clerks should need such aid. 



>o6 THE TASK. 

He doubtless is in sport, and does but droll, 

Assuming thus a rank unknown before- — 370 

Grand caterer and dry-nurse of the church. 

I venerate the man whose heart is warm, 
Whose hands are pure, whose doctrine and whose life 
Coincident, exhibit lucid proof 
That he is honest in the sacred cause. 
To such I render more than mere respect, 
Whose actions say that they respect themselves. 
But loose in morals, and in manners vain, 
In conversation frivolous, in dress 

Extreme, at once rapacious and profuse, 3S0 

Frequent in park, with lady at his side, 
Ambling and prattling scandal as he goes, 
But rare at home, and never at his books, 
Or with his pen, save when he scrawls a card ; 
Constant at routs, familiar with a round 
Of ladyships, a stranger to the poor ; 
Ambitious of preferment for its gold, 
And well prepared by ignorance and sloth 
By infidelity and love 6' the world, 

To make God's work a sinecure ; a slave 390 

To his own pleasures and his patron's pride : — 
From such apostles, O ye mitred heads, 
Preserve the church ! and lay not careless hands 
On skulls that cannot teach, and will not learn. 

Would I describe a preacher, such as Paul, 
Were he on earth, would hear, approve, and own, 
Paul should himself direct me. I would trace 
His master-strokes, and draw from his design. 
I would express him simple, grave, sincere ; 
In doctrine uncorrupt ; in language plain, 400 

And plain in manner; decent, solemn, chaste, 
And natural in gesture; much impressed 
Himself, as conscious of his awful charge, 
And anxious mainly that the flock he feeds 
May feel it too; affectionate in look, 
And tender in address, as well becomes 
A messenger of grace to guilty men. 
Behold the picture ! Is it like? — Like whom? 
The things that mount the rostrum with a skip, 
And then skip down again; pronounce a text, 410 

Cry-hem ! and reading what they never wrote, 
Just fifteen minutes, huddle up their work. 
And with a well-bred whisper close the scene ! 

In man or woman, but far most in man, 
And most of all in man that ministers 
And serves the altar, in my soul I loathe 
All affectation. 'Tis my perfect scorn; 
Object of my implacable disgust. 
What ! — will a man play tricks, will he indulge 
A silly fond conceit of his fair form 4^0 



THE TI.ME-riF.CF.. 207 



And just proportion, fashionable mien, 

And patty face, in presence of his God? 

Or will he seek to dazzle me with tropeSj 

A<; with the diamond on his lily hand, 

And play his brilliant parts before my eyes 

When I am hungry for the bread of life? 

He mocks his Maker, prostitutes and shames 

His noble office, and, instead of truth, 

Displaying his own beauty, starves his flock. 

Therefore, avaunt all attitude and stare, 430 

And start theatric, practised at the glass. 

1 ->eek divine simplicity in him 

Who handles things divine ; and all besides, 

Though learned with labour^ and though much admired 

By curious eyes and judgments ill informed, 

To me is odious as the nasal twang 

Heard at conventicle, where worthy men, 

Misled by custom, strain celestial themes 

Through the pressed nostril, spectacle-bestrid. 

Some, decent in demeanour while they preach, 440 

That task performed, relapse into themselves, 

And having spoken wisely, at the close 

Grow wanton, and give proof to every eye — 

Whoe'er was edified, themselves were not. 

Forth comes the pocket mirror. First we stroke 

An eyebrow ; next, compose a straggling lock ; 

Then with an air, most gracefully performed, 

Fall back into our seat, extend an arm, 

And lay it at its ease with gentle care, 

With handkerchief in hand, depending low. 4;. 

The better hand, more busy, gives the nose 

Its bergamot, or aids the indebted eye 

With opera-glass to watch the moving scene, 

And recognise the slow-retiring fair. 

Now this is fulsome, and offends me more 

Than in a churchman slovenly neglect 

And rustic coarseness would. A heavenly mind 

May be indifferent to her house of clay, 

And slight the hovel as beneath her care ; 

But how a body so fantastic, trim, 46c 

And quaint in its deportment and attire, 

Can lodge a heavenly mind — demands a doubt. 

He that negotiates between God and man, 
As God's ambassador, the grand concerns 
Of judgment and of mercy, should beware 
Of lightness in his speech. 'Tis pitiful 
To court a grin, when you should woo a soul ; 
To break a jest, when pity would inspire 
Pathetic exhortation ; and to address 

The skittish fancy with facetious tales, 470 

When sent with God's commission to the heart. 
So did not Paul. Direct me to a quip 



2o8 THE TASK. 

Or merry turn in all he ever wrote, 

And I consent you take it for your text, 

Your only one, till sides and benches fail. 

No : he was serious in a serious cause, 

And understood too well the weighty terms 

That he had ta'en in charge. He 'would not stoop 

To conquer those by jocular exploits, 

Whom truth and soberness assailed in vain. 48*. 

Oh, popular applause ! what heart of man 
Is proof against thy sweet seducing charms? 
The wisest and the best feel urgent need 
Of all their caution in thy gentlest gales ; 
But swelled into a gust — who then, alas ! 
With all his canvas set, and inexpert, 
And therefore heedless, can withstand thy power? 
Praise from the rivelled lips of toothless, bald 
Decrepitude, and in the looks of lean 

And craving poverty, and in the bow 490 

Respectful of the smutched artificer, 
Is oft too welcome, and may much disturb 
The bias of the purpose. How much more 
Poured forth by beauty splendid and polite, 
In language soft as adoration breathes? 
Ah, spare your idol ! think him human still ; 
Charms he may have, but he has frailties too ; 
Dote not too much, nor spoil what ye admire. 

All truth is from the sempiternal source 
Of Light Divine. But Egypt, Greece, and Rome 5C0 

Drew from the stream below. More favoured, we 
Drink, when we choose it, at the fountain-head. 
To them it flowed much mingled and defiled 
With hurtful error, prejudice, and dreams 
Illusive of philosophy, so called, 
But falsely. Sages after sages strove 
In vain to filter off a crystal draught 
Pure from the lees, which often more enhanced 
The thirst than slaked it, and not seldom bred 
Intoxication and delirium wild. \\o 

In vain they pushed inquiry to the birth 
And spring-time of the world; asked, Whence is man ? 
Why formed at all ? And wherefore as he is ? 
Where must he find his Maker? With what rites 
Adore Him? Will He hear, accept, and bless? 
Or does He sit regardless of His works? 
Has man within him an immortal seed ? 
Or does the tomb take all ? If he survive 
His ashes, where? and in what weal or woe? 
Knots worthy of solution, which alone 520 

A Deity could solve. Their answers vague, 
And all at random, fabulous and dark, 
Left them as dark themselves. Their rules of life 
Defective and unsanctioned, proved too weal: 



THE TIME-PIECE. 209 



To bind the roving appetite, and lead 

Blind Nature to a God not yet revealed. 

'Tis Revelation satisfies all doubts, 

Explains all mysteries, except her own, 

And so illuminates the path of life, 

That fools discover it, and stray no more. 530 

Xow tell me, dignified and sapient sir, 

My man of morals, nurtured in the shades 

Of Academus, is this false or true? 

Is Christ the abler teacher, or the school.-,? 

If Christ, then why resort at every turn 

To Athens or to Rome, for wisdom short 

Of man's occasions, when in Him reside 

Grace, knowledge, comfort, — an unfathomed store ? 

How oft, when Paul has served us with a text, 

Has Epictetus, Plato, Tully, preached ! 5_lo 

Men that, if now- alive, would sit content 

And humble learners of a Saviour's worth. 

Preach it who might. Such was their love of truth, 

Their thirst of knowledge, and their candour too. 

And thus it is. The pastor, either vain 
By nature, or by flattery made so, taught 
To gaze at his own splen dour, and to exalt 
Absurdly, not his ofhee, but himself, — 
Or unenlightened, and too proud to learn, — 
Or vicious, and not therefore apt to teach, — 550 

Perverting often by the stress of lewd 
And loose example, whom he should instruct, — 
Exposes and holds up to broad disgrace 
The noblest function, and discredits much 
The brightest truths that man has ever seen. 
For ghostly counsel, if it either fall 
Below the exigence, or be not backed 
With show- of love, at least with hopeful proof 
Of some sincerity on the giver's part; 

Or be dishonoured in the exterior form 560 

And mode of its conveyance, by such tricks 
As move derision, or by foppish airs 
And histrionic mummery, that let down 
The pulpit to the level of the stage, 
Drops from the lips a disregarded thing. 
The weak perhaps are moved, but are not taught, 
While prejudice in men of stronger minds 
Takes deeper root, confirmed by what they see. 
A relaxation of religion's hold 

Upon the roving and untutored heart 570 

Soon follows, and the curb of conscience snapped. 
The laity ran wild. — But do they now? 
Note their extravagance, and be convinced. 

As nations, ignorant of God, contrive 
A wooden one, so we, no longer taught 
By monitors that mother church supplies, 



THE TASK. 



Now make our own. Posterity will ask 

(If e'er posterity see verse of mine), 

Some fifty or a hundred lustrums hence, 

What was a monitor in George's days ? 5^0 

My very gentle reader yet unborn, 

Of whom I needs must augur better things, 

Since Heaven would sure grow weary of a world 

Productive only of a race like ours, 

A monitor is wood. Plank shaven thin. 

We wear it at our backs. There closely braced 

And neatly fitted, it compresses hard 

The prominent and most unsightly bones, 

And binds the shoulders flat. We prove its use 

Sovereign and most effectual to secure 59° 

A form not now gymnastic as of yore, 

From rickets and distortion, else our lot. 

But thus admonished we can walk erect, 

One proof at least of manhood ; while the friend 

Sticks close, a Mentor worthy of his charge. 

Our habits, costlier than Lucullus wore, 

And by caprice as multiplied as his, 

Just please us while the fashion is at full, 

But change with eveiy moon. The sycophant 

Who waits to dress us, arbitrates their date ; 600 

Surveys his fair reversion with keen eye ; 

Finds one ill made, another obsolete, 

This fits not nicely, that is ill conceived ; 

And, making prize of all that he condemns 

With our expenditure defrays his own. 

Variety's the very spice of life, 

That gives it all its flavour. We have run 

Through every change that fancy at the loom 

Exhausted, has had genius to supply ; 

And, studious of mutation still, discard 610 

A real elegance, a little used, 

For monstrous novelty and strange disguise. 

We sacrifice to dress, till household joys 

And comforts cease. Dress drains our cellar dry, 

And keeps our larder lean ; puts out our fires, 

And introduces hunger, frost, and woe, 

Where peace and hospitality might reign. 

What man that lives, and that knows how to live, 

Would fail to exhibit at the public shows 

A form as splendid as the proudest there, 62c 

Though appetite raise outcries at the cost ? 

A man o' the town dines late, but soon enough, 

With reasonable forecast and dispatch, 

To ensure a side-box station at half-price. 

You think, perhaps, so delicate his dress, 

I [is daily fare as delicate. Alas ! 

He picks clean teeth, and, busy as he seems 

With an old tavern quill, is hungry yet. 



THE TIME-PIECE. 



The Rout is Folly's circle, which she draws 

With magic wand. So potent is the spell, 630 

Thai none decoyed into that fatal ring, 

Unless by Heaven's peculiar grace, escape. 

There we grow early grey, but never wise ; 

There form connexions, but acquire no friend ; 

Solicit pleasure, hopeless of success ; 

Waste youth in occupations only fit 

For second childhood ; and devote old age 

To sports which only childhood could excuse. 

There they are happiest who dissemble best 

Their weariness ; and they the most polite 640 

Who squander time and treasure with a smile, 

Though at their own destruction. She that asks 

Her dear five hundred friends, contemns them all, 

And hates their coming. They (what can they less ?) 

Make just reprisals, and with cringe and shrug, 

And bow obsequious, hide their hate of her. 

All catch the frenzy, downward from her Grace, 

Whose flambeaux flash against the morning skies 

And gild our chamber ceilings as they pass, 

To her who, frugal only that her thrift 650 

May feed excesses she can ill afford, 

Is hackneyed home unlackeyed ; who in haste 

Alighting, turns the key in her own door, 

And at the watchman's lantern borrowing light, 

Finds a cold bed her only comfort left. 

Wives beggar husbands, husbands starve their wives, 

On Fortune's velvet altar offering up 

Their last poor pittance — P'ortune, most severe 

Of goddesses yet known, and costlier far 

Than all that held their routs in Juno's heaven ! 660 

So fare we in this prison-house the world. 

Ahd 'tis a fearful spectacle to see 

So many maniacs dancing in their chains. 

They gaze upon the links that hold them fast, 

With eyes of anguish, execrate their lot, 

Then shake them in despair, and dance again. 

Now basket up the family of plagues 
That waste our vitals ; peculation, sale 
Of honour, perjury, corruption, frauds 

By forgery, by subterfuge of law, 670 

By tricks and lies as numerous and as keen 
As the necessities their authors feel ; 
Then cast them, closely bundled, every brat 
At the right door. Profusion is the sire. 
Profusion unrestrained, with all that's base 
In character, has littered all the land, 
And bred, within the memory of no few, 
A priesthood such as Baal's was of old, 
A people such as never was till now. 
It is a hungry vice : — it eats up all 680 



±12 THE TASK. 



That gives society its beauty, strength, 
Convenience, and security, and use : 
Makes men mere vermin, worthy to be trapped 
And gibbeted as fast as catchpole-claws 
Can seize the slippery prey : unties the knot 
Of union, and converts the sacred band 
That holds mankind together, to a scourge. 
Profusion deluging a state with lusts 
Of grossest nature and of worst effects, 

Prepares it for its ruin : hardens, blinds, 690 

And warps the consciences of public men 
Till they can laugh at virtue ; mock the fools 
That trust them ; and, in the end, disclose a face 
That would have shocked credulity herself 
Unmasked, vouchsafing this their sole excuse ; 
Since all alike are selfish — why not they? 
This does Profusion, and the accursed cause 
Of such deep mischief has itself a cause. 
In colleges and halls, in ancient days, 
When learning, virtue, piety, and truth 700 

Were precious, and inculcated with care, 
There dwelt a sage called Discipline. His head 
Not yet by time completely silvered o'er, 
•Bespoke him past the bounds of freakish youth, 
But strong for service still, and unimpaired. 
His eye was meek and gentle, and a smile 
Played on his lips, and in his speech was heard 
Paternal sweetness, dignity, and love. 
The occupation dearest to his heart 

Was to encourage goodness. He would stroke 710 

The head of modest and ingenuous worth 
That blushed at its own praise ; and press the youth 
Close to his side that pleased him. Learning grew 
Beneath his care, a thriving vigorous plant ; 
The mind was well informed, the passions held 
Subordinate, and diligence was choice. 
If e'er it chanced, as sometimes chance it must, 
That one among so many overleaped 
The limits of control, his gentle eye 

Grew stern, and darted a severe rebuke ; 720 

His frown was full of terror, and his voice 
Shook the delinquent with such fits of awe 
As left him not, till penitence had won 
Lost favour back again, and closed the breach. 
But Discipline, a faithful servant long, 
Declined at length into the vale of years ; 
A palsy struck his arm, his sparkling eye 
Was quenched in rheums of age, his voice unstrung 
Grew tremulous, and moved derision more 
Than reverence, in perverse rebellious youth. 730 

So colleges and halls neglected much 
Their good old friend, and Discipline at length 



THE TIME- PIECE. 213 



O'erlooked and unemployed, fell sick, and died. 

Then Study languished, Emulation slept, 

And Virtue fled. The schools became a scene 

Of solemn farce, where Ignorance in stilts, 

His cap well lined with logic not his own, 

With parrot-tongue performed the scholar's part, 

Proceeding soon a graduated dunce. 

Then compromise had place, and scrutiny 740 

Became stone blind, precedence went in truck, 

And he was competent whose purse was so. 

A dissolution of all bonds ensued ; 

The curbs invented for the mulish mouth 

Of headstrong youth were broken ; bars and bolts 

Grew rusty by disuse, and massy gates 

Forgot their office, opening with a touch ; 

Till gowns at length are found mere masquerade ; 

The tasselled cap and the spruce band a jest, 

A mockery of the world. What need of these 750 

For gamesters, jockeys, brothellers impure, 

Spendthrifts and booted sportsmen, oftener seen 

With belted waist and pointers at their heels 

Than in the bounds of duty? What was learned, 

If aught was learned in childhood, is forgot, 

And such expense as pinches parents blue, 

And mortifies the liberal hand of love, 

Is squandered in pursuit of idle sports 

And vicious pleasures ; buys the boy a name, 

That sits a stigma on his father's house, 760 

And cleaves through life inseparably close 

To him that wears it. What can after-games 

Of riper joys, and commerce with the world, 

The lewd vain world that must receive him soon, 

Add to such erudition thus acquired, 

Where science and where virtue are professed ? 

They may confirm his habits, rivet fast 

His folly, but to spoil him is a task 

That bids defiance to the united powers 

Of fashion, dissipation, taverns, stews. 770 

Now, blame we most the nurslings or the nurse? 

The children crooked and twisted and deformed 

Through want of care, or her whose winking eye 

And slumbering oscitancy mars the brood ? 

The nurse no doubt. Regardless of her charge, 

She needs herself correction ; needs to learn 

That it is dangerous sporting with the world, 

With things so sacred as a nation's trust, 

The nurture of her youth, her dearest pledge. 

All are not such. I had a brother once — 7S0 

Peace to the memory of a man of worth, 
A man of letters, and of manners too; 
Of manners sweet as virtue always wears 
When gay good-nature dresses her in smiles. 



2i 4 THE TASK. 



He graced a college,* in which order yet 

Was sacred; and was honoured, loved, and wept 

By more than one, themselves conspicuous there. 

Some minds are tempered happily, and mixed 

With such ingredients of good sense and taste 

Of what is excellent in man, they thirst 790 

With such a zeal to be what they approve, 

That no restraints can circumscribe them more 

Than they themselves by choice, for wisdom's sake. 

Nor can example hurt them ; what they see 

Of vice in others but enhancing more 

The charms of virtue in their just esteem. 

If such escape contagion, and emerge 

Pure, from so foul a pool, to shine abroad, 

And give the world their talents and themselves, 

Small thanks to those whose negligence or sloth 800 

Exposed their inexperience to the snare, 

And left them to an undirected choice. 

See then the quiver broken and decayed, 
In which are kept our arrows. Rusting there 
In wild disorder, and unfit for use, 
What wonder, if discharged into the world, 
They shame their shooters with a random flight, 
Their points obtuse, and feathers drunk with wine. 
Well may the church wage unsucessful war, 
With such artillery armed. Vice parries wide 8 1 o 

The undreaded volley with a sword of straw, 
And stands an impudent and fearless mark. 

Have we not tracked the felon home, and found 
His birthplace and his dam? The country mourns, 
Mourns, because every plague that can infest 
Society, and that saps and worms the base 
Of the edifice that Policy has raised, 
Swarms in all quarters; meets the eye, the ear, 
And suffocates the breath at every turn. 

Profusion breeds them ; and the cause itself 820 

Of that calamitous mischief has been found : 
Found too where most offensive, in the skirts 
Of the robed pedagogue. Else, let the arraigned 
Stand up unconscious, and refute the charge. 
So when the Jewish leader stretched his arm, 
And waved his rod divine, a race obscene, 
Spawned in the muddy beds of Nile, came forth, 
Polluting Egypt. Gardens, fields, and plains 
Were covered with the pest. The streets were filled : 
The croaking nuisance lurked in every nook, 830 

Nor palaces nor even chambers 'scaped, 
And the land stank, so numerous was the fry. 



Benet College, Cam. 



II li: GARDEN. 215 



BOOK III. 
T H E GARDEN. 

Argument.— Self-recollection and reproof— Address to domestic happiness— Some account of 
myself— The vanity of many of their pursuits who are reputed wise— Justification of my 
censures — Divine illumination necessary to the most expert philosopher — The question, What 
is truth? answered by other questions— Domestic happiness addressed again— Few lovers of 
the country— My tame hare — Occupations of a retired gentleman in his garden— Pruning — 
Framing — Greenhouse — Sowing of flower-seeds — The country preferable to the town even in 
the winter — Reasons why it is deserted at that season — Ruinous effects of gaming, and of 
expensive improvement— Book concludes with an apostrophe to the metropolis. 

As one, who, long in thickets and in brakes 

Entangled, winds now this way and now that 

His devious course uncertain, seeking home ; 

Or having long in miry ways been foiled 

And sore discomfited, from slough to slough 

Plunging, and half despairing of escape, 

If chance at length he finds a greensward smooth 

And faithful to the foot, his spirits rise, 

He cherups brisk his ear -erecting steed, 

And winds his way with pleasure and with ease; 10 

So I, designing other themes, and called 

To adorn the Sofa with eulogium due, 

To tell its slumbers and to paint its dreams, 

Have rambled wide : in country, city, seat 

Of academic fame (howe'er deserved), 

Long held and scarcely disengaged at last. 

But now with pleasant pace a cleanlier road 

I mean to tread. I feel myself at large, 

Courageous, and refreshed for future toil, 

If toil awaits me, or if dangers new. 20 

Since pulpits fail, and sounding-boards reflect 
Most part an empty ineffectual sound, 
What chance that I, to fame so little known, 
Nor conversant with men or manners much, 
Should speak to purpose, or with better hope 
Crack the satiric thong ? 'Twere wiser far 
For me, enamoured of sequestered scenes, 
And charmed with rural beauty, to repose 
Where chance may throw me, beneath elm or vine, 
My languid limbs when summer sears the plains, 30 

Or when rough winter rages, on the soft 
And sheltered Sofa, while the nitrous air 
Feeds a blue flame, and makes a cheerful hearth ; 
There, undisturbed by Folly, and apprised 
How great the danger of disturbing her, 
To muse in silence, or at least confine 
Remarks that gall so many, to the few 



2 i6 THE TASK. 

My partners in retreat. Disgust concealed 

Is oft-times proof of wisdom, when the fault 

Is obstinate, and cure beyond our reach. 40 

Domestic happiness, thou only bliss 

Of Paradise that has survived the fall ! 

Though few now taste thee unimpaired and pure, 

Or tasting long enjoy thee, too infirm 

Or too incautious to preserve thy sweets 

Unmixed with drops of bitter, which neglect 

Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup. 

Thou art the nurse of Virtue. In thine arms 

She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is, 

Heaven-born, and destined to the skies again. 50 

Thou art not known where Pleasure is adored, 

That reeling goddess with the zoneless waist 

And wandering eyes, still leaning on the arm 

Of Novelty, her fickle frail support ; 

For thou art meek and constant, hating change, 

And finding in the calm of truth-tried love 

Joys that her stormy raptures never yield. 

Forsaking thee, what shipwreck have we made 

Of honour, dignity, and fair renown, 

Till prostitution elbows us aside 60 

In all our crowded streets, and senates seem 

Convened for purposes of empire less, 

Than to release the adultress from her bond. 

The adultress ! what a theme for angry verse ! 

What provocation to the indignant heart 

That feels for injured love ! but I disdain 

The nauseous task to paint her as she is, 

Cruel, abandoned, glorying in her shame. 

No. Let her pass, and charioted along 

In guilty splendour, shake the public ways ; 70 

The frequency of crimes has washed them white ; 

And verse of mine shall never brand the wretch, 

Whom matrons now, of character unsmirched, 

And chaste themselves, are not ashamed to own. 

Virtue and vice had boundaries in old time, 

Not to be passed ; and she that had renounced 

Her sex's honour, was renounced herself 

By all that prized it; not for prudery's sake, 

But dignity's, resentful of the wrong. 

'Twas hard perhaps on here and there a waif, 80 

Desirous to return, and not received; 

But was a wholesome rigour in the main, 

And taught the unblemished to preserve with care 

That purity, whose loss was loss of all. 

Men too were nice in honour in those days, 

And judged offenders well. Then he that sharped, 
Vnd pocketed a prize by fraud obtained, 
Was marked and shunned a> odious. He that sold 
Hi., country, or was slack when she required 



THE GARDEN. 217 



His every nerve in action and at stretch, 90 

Paid with the blood that he had basely spared 

The price of his default. But now— yes, now, 

We are become so candid and so fair, 

So liberal in construction, and so rich 

In Christian charity, (good-natured age !) 

That they are safe, sinners of either sex, 

Transgress what laws they may. Well dressed, well bred, 

Well equipaged, is ticket good enough 

To pass us readily through every door. 

Hypocrisy, detest her as we may, 1 00 

(And no man's hatred ever wronged her yet,) 

May claim this merit still — that she admits 

The worth of what she mimics with such care, 

And thus gives Virtue indirect applause ; 

But she has burned her mask, not needed here, 

Where Vice has such allowance, that her shifts 

And specious semblances have lost their use. 

I was a stricken deer that left the herd 
Long since ; with many an arrow deep infixed 
My panting side was charged^ when I withdrew no 

To seek a tranquil death in distant shades. 
There was I found by One who had Himself 
Been hurt by the archers. In His side He bore, 
And in His hands and feet, the cruel scars. 
With gentle force soliciting the darts, 
He drew them forth, and healed and bade me live. 
Since then, with few associates, in remote 
And silent woods I wander, far from those 
My former partners of the peopled scene; 
With few associates, and not wishing more. 1 20 

Here much I ruminate, as much I may, 
With other views of men and manners now 
Than once, and others of a life to come. 
I see that all are wanderers, gone astray 
Each in his own delusions; they are lost 
In chase of fancied happiness, still wooed 
And never won. Dream after dream ensues, 
And still they dream that they shall still succeed, 
And still are disappointed. Rings the world 
With the vain stir. I sum up half mankind, 1 30 

And add two-thirds of the remaining half, 
And find the total of their hopes and fears 
Dreams, empty dreams. The million flit as gay 
As if created only like the fly 
That spreads his motley wings in the eye of noon, 
To sport their season, and be seen no more. 
The rest are sober dreamers, grave and wise, 
And pregnant with discoveries new and rare. 
Some write a narrative of wars, and feats 
Of heroes little known, and call the rant 140 

A history : describe the man, of whom 



218 THE TASK. 



His own coevals took but little note, 

And paint his person, character, and views, 

As they had known him from his mother's womb. 

They disentangle from the puzzled skein 

In which obscurity has wrapped them up, 

The threads of politic and shrewd design 

That ran through all his purposes, and charge 

His mind with meanings that he never had, 

Or having, kept concealed. Some drill and bore 150 

The solid earth, and from the strata there 

Extract a register, by which we learn 

That He who made it, and revealed its date 

To Moses, was mistaken in its age. 

Some, more acute and more industrious still, 

Contrive creation ; travel Nature up 

To the sharp peak of her sublimest height, 

And tell us whence the stars ; why some are fixed, 

And planetary some ; what gave them first 

Rotation, from what fountain flowed their light. 1 60 

Great contest follows, and much learned dust 

Involves the combatants, each claiming truth, 

And truth disclaiming both : and thus they spend 

The little wick of life's poor shallow lamp 

In playing tricks with nature, giving laws 

To distant worlds, and trifling in their own. 

Is't not a pity now, that tickling rheums 

Should ever tease the lungs and blear the sight 

Of oracles like these? Great pity too, 

That having wielded the elements, and built 170 

A thousand systems, each in his own way, 

They should go out in fume and be forgot ? 

Ah ! what is life thus spent ? and what are they 

But frantic who thus spend it all for smoke ? 

Eternity for bubbles proves at last 

A senseless bargain. When I see such games 

Played by the creatures of a Power who swears 

That He will judge the earth, and call the fool 

To a sharp reckoning that has lived in vain ; 

And when I weigh this seeming wisdom well, 180 

And prove it in the infallible result 

So hollow and so false— I feel my heart 

Dissolve in pity, and account the learned, 

If this be learning, most of all deceived. 

Great crimes alarm the conscience, but it sleeps 

While thoughtful man is plausibly amused. 

"Defend me therefore, common sense," say I, 

" From reveries so airy, from the toil 

Of dropping buckets into empty wells, 

And growing old in drawing nothing up!" 190 

"'Twere well," says one sage erudite, profound, 
Terribly arched and aquiline his nose, 
And overbuilt with most impending brows — 



THE GARDEX. 



219 



" 'Twere well, could you permit the world to live 

As the world pleases. What's the world to you?" 

Much. I was born of woman, and drew milk, 

As sweet as charity, from human breasts. 

I think, articulate, I laugh and weep, 

And exercise all functions of a man. 

How then should I and any man that lives 200 

Be strangers to each other ? Pierce my vein, 

Take of the crimson stream meandering there, 

And catechise it well. Apply thy glass, 

Search it, and prove now if it be not blood 

Congenial with thine own : and if it be, 

What edge of subtlety canst thou suppose 

Keen enough, wise and skilful as thou art, 

To cut the link of brotherhood, by which 

One common Maker bound me to the kind ? 

True; lam no proficient, I confess, 210 

In arts like yours. I cannot call the swift 

And perilous lightnings from the angry clouds, 

And bid them hide themselves in earth beneath; 

I cannot analyse the air, nor catch 

The parallax of yonder luminous point 

That seems half quenched in the immense abyss ; 

Such powers I boast not — neither can I rest 

A silent witness of the headlong rage 

Or heedless folly by which thousands die, 

Bone of my bone, and kindred souls to mine. 220 

God never meant that man should scale the heavens 
By strides of human wisdom. In His works, 
Though wondrous, He commands us in His word 
To seek Him rather where His mercy shines. 
The mind indeed, enlightened from above, 
Views Him in all ; ascribes to the grand cause 
The grand effect ; acknowledges with joy 
His manner, and with rapture tastes His style. 
But never yet did philosophic tube, 

That brings the planets home into the eye 2 50 

Of observation, and discovers, else 
Not visible, His family of worlds, 
Discover Him that rules them ; such a ved 
Hangs over mortal eyes, blind from the birth, 
And dark in things divine. Full often too 
Our wayward intellect, the more we learn 
Of nature, overlooks her Author more, 
From instrumental causes proud to draw 
Conclusions retrograde, and mad mistake. 
But if His word once teach us, shoot a ray 240 

Through all the heart's dark chambers, and reveal 
Truths undiscerned but by that holy light, 
Then all is plain. Philosophy baptized 
In the pure fountain of eternal love 
Has eyes indeed; and viewing all she sees 



THE TASK. 



As meant to indicate a God to man, 

Gives Him His praise, and forfeits not her own. 

Learning has borne such fruit in other days 

On all her branches : piety has found 

Friends in the friends of science, and true prayer 250 

Has flowed from lips wet with Castalian dews. 

Such was thy wisdom, Newton, childlike sage ! 

Sagacious reader of the works of God, 

And in His word sagacious. Such too thine, 

Milton, whose genius had angelic wings, 

And fed on manna. And such thine, in whom 

Our British Themis gloried with just cause, 

Immortal Hale ! for deep discernment praised 

And sound integrity, not more than famed 

For sanctity of manners undefiled. 260 

All flesh is grass, and all its glory fades 
Like the fair flower dishevelled in the wind ; 
Riches have wings, and grandeur is a dream ; 
The man we celebrate must find a tomb, 
And we that worship him, ignoble graves. 
Nothing is proof against the general curse 
Of vanity, that seizes all below. 
The only amaranthine flower on earth 
Is virtue; the only lasting treasure, truth. 
But what is truth? 'Twas Pilate's question put 270 

To Truth itself, that deigned him no reply. 
And wherefore? will not God impart His light 
To them that ask it? — Freely — 'tis His joy, 
His glory and His nature, to impart. 
But to the proud, uncandid, insincere, 
Or negligent inquirer, not a spark. 
What's that which brings contempt upon a book, 
And him who writes it, though the style be neat, 
The method clear, and argument exact? 
That makes a minister in holy things 280 

The joy of many, and the dread of more, 
His name a theme for praise and for reproach ? 
That while it gives us worth in God's account, 
Depreciates and undoes us in our own? 
What pearl is it that rich men cannot buy, 
That learning is too proud to gather up, 
But which the poor and the despised of all 
Seek and obtain, and often find unsought? 
Tell me, and I will tell thee what is truth. 

Oh friendly to the best pursuits of man, 290 

Friendly to thought, to virtue, and to peace, 
Domestic life in rural leisure passed ! 
Few know thy value, and few taste thy sweets, 
Though many boast thy favours, and affect 
To understand and choose thee for their own. 
But foolish man foregoes his proper bliss, 
Even as his first progenitor, and quits, 



THE CARPI. X. 221 



Though placed in Paradise, (for eartli lias still 

Some traces of lier youthful beauty left,) 

Substantial happiness for transient joy. 300 

Scenes formed for contemplation, and to nurse 

The growing seeds of wisdom — that suggest, 

By every pleasing image they present, 

Reflections such as meliorate the heart, 

Compose the passions, and exalt the mind — 

Scenes such as these, 'tis his supreme delight 

To fill with riot, and defile with blood. 

Should some contagion, kind to the poor brutes 

We persecute, annihilate the tribes 

That draw the sportsman over hill and dale 310 

Fearless, and rapt away from all his cares ; 

Should never game-fowl hatch her eggs again, 

Nor baited hook deceive the fish's eye ; 

Could pageantry and dance, and feast and song, 

Be quelled in all our summer-months' retreats; 

How many self-deluded nymphs and swains, 

Who dream they have a taste for fields and groves, 

Would find them hideous nurseries of the spleen, 

And crowd the roads, impatient for the town ! 

They love the country, and none else, who seek 320 

For their own sake its silence and its shade ; 

Delights which who would leave, that has a heart 

Susceptible of pity, or a mind 

Cultured and capable of sober thought, 

For all the savage din of the swift pack, 

And clamours of the field? Detested sport, 

That owes its pleasures to another's pain, 

That feeds upon the sobs and dying shrieks 

Of harmless nature, dumb, but yet endued 

With eloquence that agonies inspire, 330 

Of silent tears and heart-distending sighs ! 

Vain tears, alas ! and sighs that never find 

A corresponding tone in jovial souls. 

Well, — one at least is safe. One sheltered hare 

Has never heard the sanguinary yell 

Of cruel man, exulting in her woes. 

Innocent partner of my peaceful home, 

Whom ten long years' experience of my care 

Has made at last familiar, she has lost 

Much of her vigilant instinctive dread, 340 

Not needful here, beneath a roof like mine. 

Yes, — thou mayst eat thy bread, and lick the hand 

That feeds thee ; thou mayst frolic on the floor 

At evening, and at night retire secure 

To thy straw couch, and slumber unalarmed : 

For I have gained thy confidence, have pledged 

All that is human in me to protect 

Thine unsuspecting gratitude and love. 

If I survive thee I will dig thy grave ; 



222 THE TASK. 

And when I place thee in it, sighing say, 350 

I knew at least one hare that had a friend. 

How various his employments whom the world 
Calls idle, and who justly in return 
Esteems that busy world an idler too ! 
Friends, books, a garden, and perhaps his pen, 
Delightful industry enjoyed at home, 
And Nature in her cultivated trim 
Dressed to his taste, inviting him abroad — 
Can he want occupation who has these ? 
Will he be idle who has much to enjoy ? 360 

Me, therefore, studious of laborious ease, 
Not slothful, happy to deceive the time 
Not waste it, and aware that human life 
Is but a loan to be repaid with use, 
When He shall call His debtors to account, 
From whom are all our blessings, business finds 
Even here ; while sedulous I seek to improve, 
At least neglect not, or leave unemployed, 
The mind He gave me ; driving it, though slack 
Too oft, and much impeded in its work 370 

By causes not to be divulged in vain, 
To its just point — the service of mankind. 
He that attends to his interior self, — 
That has a heart and keeps it, — has a mind 
That hungers and supplies it, — and who seeks 
A social, not a dissipated life, — 
Has business ; feels himself engaged to achieve 
No unimportant, though a silent task. 
A life all turbulence and noise may seem 
To him that leads it, wise and to be praised ; 380 

But wisdom is a pearl with most success 
Sought in still water, and beneath clear skies. 
He that is ever occupied in storms 
Or dives not for it, or brings up instead, 
Vainly industrious, a disgraceful prize. 

The morning finds the self-sequestered man 
Fresh for his task, intend what task he may. 
Whether inclement seasons recommend 
His warm but simple home, where he enjoys, 
With her who shares his pleasures and his heart, 390 

Sweet converse, sipping calm the fragrant lymph 
Which neatly she prepares ; then to his book 
Well chosen, and not sullenly perused 
In selfish silence, but imparted oft 
As aught occurs that she may smile to hear, 
Or turn to nourishment digested well. 
Or if the garden with its many cares, 
All well repaid, demand him, he attends 
The welcome call, conscious how much the hand 
Of lubbard Labour needs his watchful eye, 400 

Oft loitering lazily if not o'erseen, 



THE GARDEN. 223 



Or misapplying his unskilful strength. 
Nor does he govern only or direct, 
But much performs himself No works indeed 
That ask robust tough sinews bred to toil, 
Servile employ; but such as may amuse, 
Not tire, demanding rather skill than force. 
Proud of his well-spread walls, he views his trees 
That meet, no barren interval between, 

With pleasure more than even their fruits afford, 410 

Which, save himself who trains them, none can feel : 
These therefore are his own peculiar charge, 
No meaner hand may discipline the shoots, 
None but his steel approach them. What is weak, 
Distempered, or has lost prolific powers, 
Impaired by age, his unrelenting hand 
Dooms to the knife : nor does he spare the soft 
And succulent, that feeds its giant growth 
But barren, at the expense of neighbouring twigs 
Less ostentatious, and yet studded thick 420 

With hopeful gems. The rest, no portion left 
That may disgrace his art, or disappoint 
Large expectation, he disposes neat 
At measured distances, that air and sun, 
Admitted freely, may afford their aid, 
And ventilate and warm the swelling buds. 
Hence Summer has her riches, Autumn hence, 
And hence even Winter fills his withered hand 
With blushing fruits, and plenty not his own." 
Fair recompense of labour well bestowed, 430 

And wise precaution, which a clime so rude 
Makes needful still, whose Spring is but the child 
Of churlish Winter, in her fro ward moods 
Discovering much the temper of her sire. 
For oft, as if in her the stream of mild 
Maternal nature had reversed its course, 
She brings her infants forth with many smiles, 
But once delivered, kills them with a frown. 
He therefore, timely warned, himself supplies 
Her want of care, screening and keeping warm 440 

The plenteous bloom, that no rough blast may sweep 
His garlands from the boughs. Again, as oft 
As the sun peeps and vernal airs breathe mild, 
The fence withdrawn, he gives them every beam, 
And spreads his hopes before the blaze of day. 
To raise the prickly and green-coated gourd, 
So grateful to the palate, and when rare 
So coveted, else base and disesteemed, — 
Food for the vulgar merely, — is an art 

That toiling ages have but just matured, 450 

And at this moment unassayed in song. 



" Mir.iturque novos fructus et :ion sua poma." — V» 



224 THE TASK. 

Yet gnats have had, and frogs and mice, long since 
Their eulogy ; those sang the Mantuan bard, 
And these the Grecian, in ennobling strains ; 
And in thy numbers, Philips, shines for aye 
The solitary Shilling. Pardon then, 
Ye sage dispensers of poetic fame, 
The ambition of one meaner far, whose powers, 
Presuming an attempt not less sublime, 

Pant for the praise of dressing to the taste 460 

Of critic appetite, no sordid fare, 
A cucumber, while costly yet and scarce. 
The stable yields a stercoraceous heap, 
Impregnated with quick fermenting salts, 
And potent to resist the freezing blast : 
For ere the beech and elm have cast their leaf 
Deciduous, when now November dark 
Checks vegetation in the torpid plant 
Exposed to his cold breath, the task begins. 
Warily therefore, and with prudent heed, 470 

He seeks a favoured spot ; that where he builds 
The agglomerated pile, his frame may front 
The sun's meridian disk, and at the back 
Enjoy close shelter, wall, or reeds, or hedge 
Impervious to the wind. First he bids spread 
Dry fern or littered hay, that may imbibe 
The ascending damps ; then leisurely impose, 
And lightly, shaking it with agile hand 
From the full fork, the saturated straw. 

What longest binds the closest, forms secure 4S0 

The shapely side, that as it rises takes, 
By just degrees, an overhanging breadth, 
Sheltering the base with its projected eaves. 
The uplifted frame, compact at every joint, 
And overlaid with clear translucent glass, 
He settles next upon the sloping mount, 
Whose sharp declivity shoots off secure 
From the dashed pane the deluge as it falls : 
He shuts it close, and the first labour ends. 
Thrice must the voluble and restless earth 490 

Spin round upon her axle, ere the warmth, 
Slow gathering in the midst, through the square mass 
Diffused, attain the surface : when, behold ! 
A pestilent and most corrosive steam, 
Like a gross fog Boeotian, rising fast, 
And fast condensed upon the dewy sash, 
Asks egress ; which obtained, the overcharged 
And drenched conservatory breathes abroad, 
In volumes wheeling slow, the vapour clank, 
A.v.d purified, rejoices to have lost 500 

Its foul inhabitant. But to assuage 
The impatient fervour which it first conceives 
Within its reeking bosom, threatening death 



THE GARDEN. 225 



To his young hopes, requires discreet delay. 

Experience, slow piece; 'tress ; teaching oft 

The way to glory by miscarriage foul, 

Must prompt him, and admonish how to catch 

The auspicious moment, when the tempered I 

Friendly to vital motion, may afford 

Soft fermentation, and invite the seed. 510 

The seed, selected wisely, plump, and smooth, 

And glossy, he commits to pots of size 

Diminutive, well filled with well-prepared 

And fruitful soil, that has been treasured long, 

And drunk no moisture from the dripping clouds : 

These on the warm and genial earth that hides 

The .>moking manure, and o'erspreads it all, 

He places lightly, and as time subdues 

The rage of fermentation, plunges deep 

In the soft medium, till they stand immersed. 5 20 

Then rise the tender germs, upstarting quick 

And spreading wide their spongy lobes, at first 

Pale, wan, and livid, but assuming soon, 

If fanned by balmy and nutritious air, 

Strained through the friendly mats, a vivid green. 

Two leaves produced, two rough indented leaves, 

Cautious he pinches from the second stalk 

A pimple, that portends a future sprout, 

And interdicts its growth. Thence straight succeed 

The branches, sturdy to his utmost wish, 530 

Prolific all, and harbingers of more. 

The crowded roots demand enlargement now, 

And transplantation in an ampler space. 

Indulged in what they wish, they soon supply 

Large foliage, overshadowing golden flowers, 

Blown on the summit of the apparent fruit. 

These have their sexes, and when summer shines, 

The bee transports the fertilizing meal 

From flower to flower, and even the breathing air 

Wafts the rich prize to its appointed use. 

Not so when Winter scowls. Assistant art 

Then acts in Nature's office, brin,. 

The glad espousals, and ensures the crop. 

Grudge not, ye rich, (since luxury must have 
His dainties, and the world's more numerous half 
Lives by contriving delicates for you, ) 
Grudge not the cost. Ye little know the cares. 
The vigilance, the labour, and the skill 
That day and night are exercised, and hang 
Upon the ticklish balance of suspense, 550 

That ye may garnish your profuse regales 
With summer fruits brought forth by wintry suns. 
Ten thousand dangers lie in wait to thwart 
The process. Heat and cold, and wind and steam. 
Moisture and drought, mice, worms, and swarming flies. 
Q 



225 THE TASK. 

Minute as dust and numberless, oft work 
Dire disappointment that admits no cure, 
And which no care can obviate. It were long, 
Too long to tell the expedients and the shifts 
Which he that fights a season so severe 560 

Devises, while he guards his tender trust, 
And oft at last in vain. The learned and wise, 
Sarcastic, would exclaim, and judge the song 
Cold as its theme, and, like its theme, the fruit 
Of too much labour, worthless when produced. 
Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too. 
Unconscious of a less propitious clime, 
There blooms exotic beauty, warm and snug, 
While the winds whistle and the snows descend. 
The spiry myrtle with unwithering leaf 570 

Shines there and flourishes. The golden boast 
Of Portugal and western India there, 
The ruddier orange and the paler lime, 
Peep thro"gh their polished foliage at the storm, 
And seem to smile at what they need not fear. 
The amomum there with intermingling flowers 
And cherries hangs her twigs. Geranium boasts 
Her crimson honours, and the spangled beau, 
Ficoides, glitters bright the winter long. 
All plants, of every leaf that can endure 580 

The winter's frown, if screened from his shrewd bile. 
Live there and prosper. Those Ausonia claims, 
Levantine regions these; the Azores send 
Their jessamine, her jessamine remote 
Caffraria : foreigners from many lands, 
They form one social shade, as if convened 
By magic summons of the Orphean lyre. 
Yet just arrangement, rarely brought to pass 
But by a master's hand, disposing well 

The gay diversities of leaf and flower, 590 

Must lend its aid to illustrate all their charms, 
And dress the regular yet various scene. 
Plant behind plant aspiring, in the van 
The dwarfish, in the rear retired, but still 
Sublime above the rest, the statelier stand. 
So once were ranged the sons of ancient Rome, 
A noble show ! while Roscius trod the stage ; 
And so, while Garrick as renowned as he, 
The sons of Albion, fearing each to lose 
Some note of Nature's music from his lips, 600 

And covetous of Shakspeare's beau.y seen 
In every flash of his far-beaming eye. 
Nor taste alone and well -contrived display 
Suffice to give the marshalled ranks the grace 
Of their complete effect. Much yet remains 
Unsung, and many cares are yet behind, 
An 1 more laborious ; cares on which depends 



THE GARDEN. 



227 



Their vigour, injured soon, not soon restored. 

The soil must be renewed, which, often washed, 

Loses its treasure of salubrious salts, 610 

And disappoints the roots ; tlie slender roots 

Close interwoven, where they meet the vase 

Must smooth be shorn away ; the sapless branch 

Must fly before the knife; the withered leaf 

Must be detached, and where it strews the floor 

Swept with a woman's neatness, breeding else 

Contagion, and disseminating death. 

Discharge but these kind offices, (and who 

Would spare, that loves them, offices like these?) 

Well they reward the toil. The sight is pleased, 620 

The scent regaled, each odoriferous leaf, 

Each opening bl> issom, freely breathes abroad 

Its gratitude, and thanks him with its sweets. 

.So manifold, all pleasing in their kind, 
All healthful, are the employs of rural life, 
Reiterated as the wheel of time 
Runs round ; still ending, and beginning still. 
Nor are these all. To deck the shapely knoll, 
That, softly swelled and gaily dressed, appears 
A flowery island, from the dark green lawn 630 

Emerging, must be deemed a labour due 
To no mean hand, and asks the touch of taste. 
Here also grateful mixture of well-matched 
And sorted hues (each giving each relief, 
And by contrasted beauty shining more) 
Is needful. Strength may wield the ponderous spade, 
May turn the clod, and wheel the compost home, 
But elegance, chief grace the garden shows, 
And most attractive, is the fair result 

Of thought, the creature of a polished mind. 640 

Without it, all is gothic as the scene 
To which the insipid citizen resorts 
Near yonder heath ; where industry misspent, 
But proud of his uncouth ill-chosen task, 
Has made a heaven on earth ; with suns and moons 
Of close-rammed stones has charged the encumbered son 
And fairly laid the zodiac in the dust. 
He therefore who would see his flowers disposed 
Sightly and in just order, ere he gives 

The beds the trusted treasure of their seeds, 650 

Forecasts the future whole ; that when the scene 
Shall break into its preconceived display, 
Each for itself, and all as with one voice 
Conspiring, may attest his bright design. 
Nor even then, dismissing as performed 
His pleasant work, may he suppose it done. 
Few self-supported flowers endure the wind 
Uninjured, but expect the upholding aid 
Of the smooth shaven prop, and neatly tied, 
Q 2 



228 THE TASK. 



Are wedded thus, like beauty to old age, 660 

For interest sake, the living to the dead. 

Some clothe the soil that feeds them, far diffused 

And lowly creeping, modest and yet fair, 

Like virtue, thriving most where little seen; 

Some, more aspiring, catch the neighbour shrub 

With clasping tendrils, and invest his branch, 

Else unadorned, with many a gay festoon 

And fragrant chaplet, recompensing well 

The strength they borrow with the grace they lend. 

All hate the rank society of weeds, 670 

Noisome, and ever greedy to exhaust 

The impoverished earth ; an overbearing race, 

That, like the multitude made faction-mad, 

Disturb good order, and degrade true worth. 

O blest seclusion from a jarring world, 
Which he, thus occupied, enjoys! Retreat t 

Cannot indeed to guilty man restore 
Lost innocence, or cancel follies past; 
But it has peace, and much secures the mind 
From all assaults of evil, proving still 680 

A faithful barrier, not o'erleaped with ease 
By vicious custom, raging uncontrolled 
Abroad, and desolating public life. 
When fierce temptation, seconded within 
By traitor appetite, and armed with darts 
Tempered in Hell, invades the throbbing breast, 
To combat may be glorious, and success 
Perhaps may crown us, but to fly is safe. 
Had I the choice of sublunary good, 

What could I wish that I possess not here? 690 

Health, leisure, means to improve it, friendship, peace, 
No loose or wanton, though a wandering muse, 
And constant occupation without care. 
Thus blest, I draw a picture of that bliss; 
Hopeless indeed that dissipated minds, 
And profligate abusers of a world 
Created fair so much in vain for them, 
Should seek the guiltless joys that I describe, 
Allured by my report: but sure no less 

That, self condemned, they must neglect the prize, 700 

And what they will not taste must yet approve. 
What we admire we praise; and when we praise, 
Advance it into notice, that its worth 
Acknowledged, others may admire it too. 
I therefore recommend, though at the risk 
Of popular disgust, yet boldly still, 
The cause of piety, and sacred truth, 
And virtue, and those scenes which God ordained 
Should best secure them and promote them most; 
Scenes that I love, and with regret perceive 710 

Forsaken, or through folly not enjoyed. 



THE GARDEN. 



22g 



Pure is the nymph, though liberal of her smiles, 

And chaste, though unconfined, whom I extol; 

Not as the prince in Shushan, when he called, 

Vainglorious of her charms, his Yashti forth 

To grace the full pavilion. His design 

Was but to boast his own peculiar good, 

Which all might view with envy, none partake. 

My charmer is not mine alone; my sweets, 

And she that sweetens all my bitters too, 720 

Nature, enchanting Nature, in whose form 

And lineaments divine I trace a hand 

That errs not, and find raptures still renewed, 

Is free to all men — universal prize. 

Strange that so fair a creature should yet want 

Admirers, and be destined to divide 

With meaner objects even the few she finds. 

Stripped of her ornaments, her leaves, and flowers, 

She loses all her influence. Cities then 

Attract us, and neglected nature pines, 730 

Abandoned, as unworthy of our love. 

But are not wholesome airs, though unperfumed 

By roses, and clear suns though scarcely felt, 

And groves, if unharmonious, yet secure 

From clamour, and whose very silence charms, 

To be preferred to smoke, to the eclipse 

That metropolitan volcanoes make, 

Whose Stygian throats breathe darkness all day long, 

And to the stir of Commerce, driving slow, 

And thundering loud, with his ten thousand wheels? 740 

They would be, were not madness in the head, 

And folly in the heart ; were England now 

What England was, plain, hospitable, kind, 

And undebauched. But we have bid farewell 

To all the virtues of those better days, 

And all their honest pleasures. Mansions once 

Knew their own masters, and laborious hinds 

Who had survived the father, served the son. 

Now the legitimate and rightful lord 

Is but a transient guest, newly arrived, 750 

And soon to be supplanted. He that saw 

His patrimonial timber cast its leaf 

Sells the last scantling, and transfers the price 

To some shrewd sharper, ere it buds again. 

Estates are landscapes, gazed upon awhile, 

Then advertised, and auctioneered away. 

The country starves, and they that feed the o'ercharged 

And surfeited lewd town with her fair dues, 

By a just judgment strip and starve themselves. 

The wings that waft our riches out of sight 760 

Grow on the gamester's elbows, and the alert 

And nimble motion of those restless joints, 

That never tire, soon fans them all away. 



230 THE TASK. 

Improvement too, the idol of the age, 

Is led with many a victim. Lo ! he comes, — 

The omnipotent magician, Brown, appears. 

Down falls the venerable pile, the abode 

Of our forefathers, a grave whiskered race, 

But tasteless. Springs a palace in its stead, 

But in a distant spot, where more exposed, 770 

It may enjoy the advantage of the north, 

And aguish east, till time shall have transformed 

Those naked acres to a sheltering grove. 

He speaks. The lake in front becomes a lawn, 

Woods vanish, hills subside, and valleys rise, 

And streams, as if created for his use, 

Pursue the track of his directing wand, 

Sinuous or straight, now rapid and now slow, 

Now murmuring soft, now roaring in cascades, 

Even as he bids. The enraptured owner smiles. 780 

'Tis finished ! and yet, finished as it seems, 

Still wants a grace, the loveliest it could show, 

A mine to satisfy the enormous cost. 

Drained to the last poor item of his wealth, 

He sighs, departs, and leaves the accomplished plan 

That he has touched, retouched, many a long day 

Laboured, and many a night pursued in dreams, 

Just when it meets his hopes, and proves the heaven 

He wanted, for a wealthier to enjoy. 

And now perhaps the glorious hour is come, 790 

When having no stake left, no pledge to endear 

Her interests, or that gives her sacred cause 

A moment's operation on his love, 

He burns with most intense and flagrant zeal 

To serve his country. Ministerial grace 

Deals him out money from the public chest ; 

Or if that mine be shut, some private purse 

Supplies his need with a usurious loan, 

To be refunded duly, when his vote, 

Well managed, shall have earned its worthy price. Soo 

Oh innocent, compared with arts like these, 

Crape and cocked pistol, and the whistling ball 

Sent through the traveller's temples ! He that finds 

One drop of Heaven's sweet mercy in his cup, 

Can dig, beg, rot, and perish, well content 

So he may wrap himself in honest rags 

At his last gasp ; but could not for a world 

Fish up his dirty and dependent bread 

From pools and ditches of the commonwealth, 

Sordid and sickening at his own success. 810 

Ambition, avarice, penury incurred 
By endless riot, vanity, the lust 
Of pleasure and variety, despatch, 
As duly as the swallows disappear, 
The world of wandering knights and squire to town. 



THE WINTER EVENING. 231 



London ingulfs them all. The shark is there, 
And the shark's prey ; the spendthrift and the leech 
That sucks him. There the sycophant, and he 
Who, with bareheaded and obsequious bows, 
Begs a warm office, doomed to a cold jail, S20 

And groat per diem, if his patron frown. 
The levee swarms, as if, in golden pomp, 
Were charactered on every statesman's door, 
"Battered and bankrupt fortunes mended here." 
These are the charms that sully and eclipse 
The charms of nature. 'Tis the cruel gripe 
That lean hard-handed Poverty inflicts, 
The hope of better things, the chance to win, 
The wish to shine, the thirst to be amused, 
That at the sound of Winter's hoary wing 830 

Unpeople all our counties of such herds 
Of fluttering, loitering, cringing, begging, loose 
And wanton vagrants, as make London, vast 
And boundless as it is, a crowded coop. 
. Oh thou, resort and mart of all the earth, 
Chequered with all complexions of mankind, 
And spotted with all crimes ; in whom I see 
Much that I love, and more that I admire, 
And all that I abhor ; thou freckled fair, 
That pleasest and yet shockest me, I can laugh 840 

And I can weep, can hope and can despond, 
Feel wrath and pity, when I think on thee ! 
Ten righteous would have saved a city once, 
And thou hast many righteous. — Well for thee ! 
That salt preserves thee ; more corrupted else, 
And therefore more obnoxious at this hour, 
Than Sodom in her day had power to be, 
For whom God heard His Abraham plead in vain. 



BOOK IV. 

THE WINTER EVENING. 

ARGUMENT.— The post comes in— The newspaper is read— The world contemplated at a distance— 
Address to winter- The rural amusements of a winter evening compared with the fashionable 
ones— Address to evening— A brown study-Fall of snow in the evening— The waggoner— A 
poor family piece— The rural thief- Public-houses— The multitude of them censured— The 
farmer's daughter ; what she was ; what she is— The simplicity of countrj manners almost 
lost— Causes of the change— Desertion of the country by the rich— Neglect of magistrates— 
The militia principally in fault— The new recruit and his transformation— Reflection on bodies 
corporate— The love of rural objects natural to all, and never to be totally extinguished. 

Hark ! 'tis the twanging horn ! O'er yonder bridge, 
That with its wearisome but needful length 



232 



THE TASK. 



Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the moon 
Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright, 
He comes, the herald of a noisy world, 
With spattered boots, strapped waist, and frozen lock.-, 
News from all nations lumbering at his back. 
True to his charge, the close-packed load behind, 
Yet careless what he brings, his one concern 
Is to conduct it to the destined inn, 10 

And having dropped the expected bag — pass on. 
He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch, 
Cold and yet cheerful : messenger of grief 
Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some, 
To him indifferent whether grief or joy.] 
Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks, 
Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet 
With tears that trickled down the writer's cheeks 
Fast as the periods from his fluent quill, 
Or charged with amorous sighs of absent swains, 20 

Or nymphs responsive, equally affect 
His horse and him, unconscious of them all. 
But oh the important budget ! ushered in 
With such heart-shaking music, who can say 
What are its tidings ? have our troops awaked ? 
Or do they still, as if with opium drugged, 
Snore to the murmurs of the Atlantic wave? 
Is India free? and does she wear her plumed 
And jewelled turban with a smile of peace, 
Or do we grind her still ? The grand debate, 30 

The popidar harangue, the tart reply, 
The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit, 
And the loud laugh — I long to know them all ; 
I burn to set the imprisoned wranglers free, 
And give them voice and utterance once again. 
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast, 
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round, 
And while the bubbling and loud hissing urn 
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups 
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each, 40 

So let us welcome peaceful evening in. 
Not such his evening, who with shining face 
Sweats in the crowded theatre, and squeezed 
And bored with elbow-points through both his sides, 
Outscoids the ranting actor on the stage : 
Nor his, who patient stands till his feel throb, 
And his head thumps, to feed upon the breath 
Of patriots bursting with heroic rage, 
Or placemen all tranquillity and smiles. 

This folio of four pages, happy work ! 50 

Which not even critics criticise ; that holds 
Inquisitive attention, while I read, 
Fast bound in chains of silence, which the fair, 
Though eloquent themselves, yet fear to break ; 



THE WINTER EVENING. 



233 



What is it but a map of busy life, 

Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns ? 

Hero runs the mountainous and craggy 1 

That tempts ambition. On the summit, 

The seals of office glitter in his eyes; 

He climbs, he pants, he grasps them. At his heels, 60 

ise at his heels, a demagogue ascends, 

And with a dexterous jerk soon twists him down, 

And wins them, but to lose them in his turn. 

Here rills of oily eloquence in soft 

Meanders lubricate the course they take; 

The modest speaker is ashamed and grieved 

To engross a moment's notice, and yet begs, 

Begs a propitious ear for his poor thoughts, 

However trivial all that he conceives. 

Sweet bashfulness ! it claims, at least, this praise 70 

The dearth of information and good sense 

That it foretells us, always comes to pass. 

Cataracts of declamation thunder here, 

There forests of no meaning spread the page 

In which all comprehension wanders lost ; 

While fields of pleasantly amuse us there 

With merry descants on a nation's woes. 

The rest appears a wilderness of strange 

But gay confusion ; roses for the cheeks 

And lilies for the brows of faded age, bo 

Teeth for the toothless, ringlets for the bald, 

Heaven, earth, and ocean plundered of their sweets, 

Nectareous essences, Olympian dews, 

Sermons and city feasts, and favourite airs, 

/Ethereal journeys, submarine exploits, 

And Katerfelto, with his hair on end 

At his own wonders, wondering for his bread. 

'Tis pleasant through the loopholes of retreat 
To peep at such a world ; to see the stir 
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd ; go 

To hear the roar she sends through all her gates 
At a safe distance, where the dying sound 
Falls a soft murmur on the uninjured ear. 
Thus sitting, and surveying thus at ease 
The globe and its concerns, I seem advanced 
To some secure and more than mortal height, 
That liberates and exempts me from them all. 
It turns submitted to my view, turns round 
With all its generations ; I behold 

The tumult, and am still. The sound of war ico 

Has lost its terrors ere it reaches ine ; 
Grieves, but alarms me not. I mourn the pride 
And avarice that make man a wolf to man, 
Hear the faint echo of those brazen throats, 
By which he speaks the language of his heart, 
And sigi', but never tremble at the sound. 



2.34 THE TASK. 

He travels and expatiates, as the bee 

From flower to flower, so he from land to land ; 

The manners, customs, policy of all 

Pay contribution to the store he gleans ; 1 10 

He sucks intelligence in every clime, 

And spreads the honey of his deep research 

At his return, a rich repast for. me. 

He travels, and I too. I tread his deck, 

Ascend his topmast, through his peering eyes 

Discover countries, with a kindred heart 

Suffer his woes, and share in his escapes; 

While fancy, like the finger of a clock, 

Runs the great circuit, and is still at home. 

O Winter ! ruler of the inverted year, 120 

Thy scattered hair with sleet like ashes filled, 
Thy breath congealed upon thy lips, thy cheeks 
Fringed with a beard made white with other snows 
Than those of age, thy forehead wrapt in clouds, 
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne 
A sliding car, indebted to no wheels, 
But urged by storms along its slippery way ; 
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seemest, 
And dreaded as thou art. Thou holdest the sun 
A prisoner in the yet undawning east, 130 

Shortening his journey between morn and noon, 
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay, 
Down to the rosy west ; but kindly still 
Compensating his loss with added hours 
Of social converse and instructive ease, 
And gathering, at short notice, in one^group 
The family dispersed, and fixing thought, 
Not less dispersed by daylight and its cares. 
I crown thee King of intimate delights, 

Fireside enjoyments, homeborn happiness, 140 

And all the comforts that the lowly roof 
Of undisturbed retirement, and the hours 
Of long uninterrupted evening know. 
No rattling wheels stop short before these gates ; 
No powdered pert, proficient in the art 
Of sounding an alarm, assaults these doors 
Till the street rings ; no stationary steeds 
Cough their own knell, while, heedless of the sound, 
The silent circle fan themselves, and quake : 
But here the needle plies its busy ta^k. 150 

The pattern grows, the well-depicted flower, 
Wrought patiently into the snowy lawn. 
Unfolds its bosom ; buds, and leaves, and sprigs, 
And curling tendrils, gracefully disposed, 
Follow the nimble finger of the fair ; 
A wreath that cannot fade, of flowers that blow 
With most success when all besides decay. 
The poet's or historian's page, by one 



7 111: WIN! ER E I 7: . \ 7-\ r G. 



Made vocal for the amusement of the rest ; 

The sprightly lyre, whose treasure of sweet sounds 160 

The touch from many a trembling chord shakes out ; 

And the clear voice symphonious, yet distinct, 

And in the charming strife triumphant still ; 

Beguile the night, and set a keener edge 

On female industry : the threaded steel 

Flies swiftly, and unfelt the task proceeds. 

The volume closed, the customary rites 

Of the last meal commence. A Roman meal, 

Such as the mistress of the world once found 

Delicious, when her patriots of high note, 170 

Perhaps by moonlight, at their humble doors, 

And under an old oak's domestic shade, 

Enjoyed, spare feast ! a radish and an egg. 

Discourse ensues, not trivial, yet not dull, 

Nor such as with a frown forbids the play 

Of fancy, or proscribes the sound of mirth ; 

Nor do we madly, like an impious world, 

Who deem religion frenzy, and the God 

That made them an intruder on their joys, 

Start at His awful name, or deem His praise 180 

A jarring note. Themes of a graver tone, 

Exciting oft our gratitude and love, 

While we retrace with memory's pointing wand, 

That calls the past to our exact review, 

The dangers we have 'scaped, the broken snare, 

The disappointed foe, deliverance found 

Unlooked for, life preserved and peace restored, 

Fruits of omnipotent eternal love. 

" Oh evenings worthy of the gods ! " exclaimed 

The Sabine bard. Oh evenings, I reply, 190 

More to be prized and coveted than yours, 

As more illumined, and with nobler truths, 

That I and mine, and those we love, enjoy. 

Is Winter hideous in a garb like this? 
Needs he the tragic fur, the smoke of lamps, 
The pent-up breath of an unsavoury throng, 
To thaw him into feeling, or the smart 
And snappish dialogue that flippant wits 
Call comedy, to prompt him with a smile? 
The self-complacent actor, when he views 200 

(Stealing a sidelong glance at a full house) 
The slope of faces from the floor to the roof 
(As if one master spring controlled them all) 
Relaxed into an universal grin, 
Sees not a countenance there that speaks of joy 
Half so refined or so sincere as ours. 
Cards were superfluous here, with pll the tricks 
That idleness has ever yet contrived 
To fill the void of an unfurnished brain, 
To palliate dulness. and give time a shove. 2IO 



236 THE TASK. 

Time as he passes us, has a clove's wing, 

Unsoiled and swift, and of a silken sound ; 

But the world's Time is Time in masquerade. 

Theirs, should I paint him, has his pinions fledged 

With motley plumes ; and where the peacock shows 

His azure eyes, is tinctured black and red 

With spots quadrangular of diamond form, 

Ensanguined hearts, clubs typical of strife, 

And spades, the emblems of untimely graves. 

What should be, and what was an hour-glass once, 220 

Becomes a dice-box, and a billiard mace 

Well does the work of his destructive scythe. 

Thus decked, he charms a world whom fashion blinds 

To his true worth, most pleased when idle most, 

Whose only happy are their wasted hours. 

Even misses, at whose age their mothers wore 

The backstring and the bib, assume the dress 

Of womanhood, sit pupils in the school 

Of card-devoted Time, and night by night 

Placed at some vacant corner of the board, 230 

Learn every trick, and soon play all the game. 

But truce with censure. Roving as I rove, 

Where shall I find an end, or how proceed? 

As he that travels far, oft turns aside 

To view some rugged rock or mouldering tower, 

Which seen, delights him not ; then coming home, 

Describes and prints it, that the world may know 

How far he went for what was nothing worth ; 

So I, with brush in hand and pallet spread, 

With colours mixed for a far different use, 240 

Paint cards and dolls, and every idle thing 

That fancy finds in her excursive flights. 

Come, Evening, once again, season of peace; 
Return, sweet Evening, and continue long ! 
Methinks I see thee in the streaky west, 
With matron step slow moving, while the Night 
Treads on thy sweeping train; one hand employed 
In letting fall the curtain of repose 
On bird and beast, the other charged for man 
With sweet oblivion of the cares of day; 250 

Not sumptuously adorned, nor needing aid, 
Like homely-featured Night, of clustering gems; 
A star or two just twinkling on thy brow 
Suffices thee; save that the moon is thine 
No less than hers, not worn indeed on high 
With ostentatious pageantry, but set 
With modest grandeur in thy purple zone, 
Resplendent less, but of an ampler round. 
Come then, and thou shalt find thy votary calm, 
Or make me so. Composure is thy gift : 260 

And whether I devote thy gentler hours 
To books, to music, or the poet's toil; 



THE WINTER EVENING 237 



To weaving nets for bird-alluring fruit; 
Or twining silken threads round ivory reels, 
When they command whom man was bom to please; 
I slight thee not, but make thee welcome still. 
Just when our drawing-rooms begin to blaze 
With lights, by clear reflexion multiplied 
From many a mirror, in which he of Gath, 
Goliath, might have seen his giant bulk 270 

Whole without stooping, towering crest and all, 
My pleasures too begin. But me perhaps 
The glowing hearth may satisfy awhile 
With faint illumination, that uplifts 
The shadow to the ceiling, there by fits 
Dancing uncouthly to the quivering flame. 
Not undelightful is an hour to me 
So spent in parlour twilight; such a gloom 
Suits well the thoughtful or unthinking mind, 
The mind contemplative, with some new theme 280 

Pregnant, or indisposed alike to all. 
Laugh ye, who boast your more mercurial powers. 
That never feel a stupor, know no pause, 
Nor need one ; I am conscious, and confess, 
Fearless, a soul that does not always think. 
Me oft has fancy, ludicrous and wild, 
Soothed with a waking dream of houses, towers, 
Trees, churches, and strange visages expressed 
In the red cinders, while with poring eye 
I gazed, myself creating what I saw. 290 

Nor less amused have I quiescent watched 
The sooty films that play upon the bars 
Pendulous, and foreboding, in the view 
Of superstition, prophesying still, 
Though still deceived, some stranger's near approach. 
'Tis thus the understanding takes repose 
In indolent vacuity of thought, 
And sleeps and is refreshed. Meanwhile the face 
Conceals the mood lethargic with a mask 
Of deep deliberation, as the man 300 

Were tasked to his full strength, absorbed and lost. 
Thus oft, reclined at ease, I lose an hour 
At evening, till at length the freezing blast, 
That sweeps the bolted shutter, summons home 
The recollected powers, and snapping short 
The glassy threads with which the fancy weaves 
Her brittle toils, restores me to myself. 
How calm is my recess, and how the frost, 
Raging abroad, and the rough wind, endear 
The silence and the warmth enjoyed within! 310 

I saw the woods and fields at close of day 
A variegated show ; the meadows green, 
Though faded ; and the lands, where lately waved 
The golden harvest, of a mellow brown, 



23 S THE TASK. 

Upturned so lately by the forceful share : 

I saw far off the weedy fallows smile 

With verdure not unprofitable, grazed 

By flocks, fast feeding, and selecting each 

His favourite herb ; while all the leafless groves 

That skirt the horizon, wore a sable hue, 3 2 ° 

Scarce noticed in the kindred dusk of eve. 

To-morrow brings a change, a total change ! 

Which even now, though silently performed 

And slowly, and by most unfelt, the face 

Of universal nature undergoes. 

Fast falls a fleecy shower : the downy flakes 

Descending, and, with never-ceasing lapse, 

Softly alighting upon all below, 

Assimilate all objects. Earth receives 

Gladly the thickening mantle, and the green 330 

And tender blade that feared the chilling blast 

Escapes unhurt beneath so warm a veil/N 

In such a world, so thorny, and where none 
Finds happiness unblighted, or, if found, 
Without some thistly sorrow at its side, 
It seems the part of wisdom, and no sin 
Against the law of love, to measure lots 
With less distinguished than ourselves, that thus 
We may with patience bear our moderate ills, 
And sympathise with others, suffering more. 340 

111 fares the traveller now, and he that stalks 
In ponderous boots beside his reeking team. 
The wain goes heavily, impeded sore 
By congregrated loads adhering close 
To the clogged wheels ; and in its sluggish pace 
Noiseless appears a moving liill of snow. 
The toiling steeds expand the nostril wide, 
While every breath, by respiration strong 
Forced downward, is consolidated soon 

Upon their jutting chests. He, formed to bear 350 

The pelting brunt of the tempestuous night, 

With half-shut eyes and puckered cheeks, and teeth 

Presented bare against the storm, plods on. 

One hand secures his hat, save when with both 

He brandishes his pliant length of whip, 

Resounding oft, and never heard in vain. 

Oh happy ! and in my account, denied 

That sensibility of pain with which 

Refinement is endued, thrice happy thou. 

Thy frame, robust and hardy, feels indeed 360 

The piercing cold, but feels it unimpaired 

The learned finger never need explore 

Thy vigorous pulse ; and the unheal thful east, 

That breathes the spleen, and searches every bone 

Of the infirm, is wholesome air to thee. 

Thy days roll on exempt from household care j 



THE WINTER EVENING. 239 



The waggon is thy wife ; and the poo: - beasts 
That drag the dull companion to and fro, 
Thine helpless charge, dependent on thy care. 

treat them kindly ! rude as thou appearest, 370 

Yet .show that thou hast mercy, which the gi 
With needless hurry whirled from place to place, 
Humane as they would seem, not always show. 

Poor, yet industrious, mudest, quiet, neat, 
Such claim compassion in a night like this, 
And have a friend in every feeling heart 
Warmed, while it lasts, by labour, all day long 
They brave the season, and yet find at eve, 
111 clad and fed but sparely, time to cool. 
The frugal housewife trembles when she lights 380 

Her scanty stock of brushwood, blazing clear, 
But dying soon, like all terrestrial joys. 
The few small embers left she nurses well. 
And while her infant race, with outspread hands, 
And crowded knees, sit cowering o'er the sparks, 
Retires, content to quake, so they be warmed. 
The man feels least, as more inured than she 
To winter, and the current in his veins 
More briskly moved by his severer toil ; 

Yet he too finds his own distress in theirs. 390 

The taper soon extinguished, which I saw 
Dangled along at the cold finger's end 
Just when the day declined, and the brown loaf 
Lodged on the shelf, half eaten without sauce 
Of savoury cheese, or butter costlier still, 
Sleep seems their only refuge : for, alas ! 
Where penury is felt the thought is chained, 
And sweet colloquial pleasures are but few. 
With all this thrift they thrive not. All the care, 
Ingenious parsimony takes, but just 400 

Saves the small inventor} - , bed and stool, 
Skillet and old carved chest, from public sale. 
They live, and live without extorted alms 
From grudging hands, but other boast have none 
To soothe their honest pride, that scorns- to beg ; 
Nor comfort else, but in their mutual love. 
I praise you much, ye meek and patient pair, 
For ye are worthy ; choosing rather far 
A dry but independent crust, hard earned, 
And eaten with a sigh, than to endure 410 

The rugged frowns and insolent rebuffs 
Of knaves in office, partial in the work 
Of distribution ; liberal of their aid 
To clamorous importunity in rags, 
But ofttimes deaf to suppliants who would blush 
To wear a tattered garb however coarse, 
Whom famine cannot reconcile to filth ; 
These ask with painful shyness, and refused 



2 4 o THE TASK. 

Because deserving, silently retire. 

But be ye of good courage. Time itself 420 

Shall much befriend you. Time shall give increase, 

And all your numerous progeny, well trained 

But helpless, in few yeai"s shall find their hands, 

And labour too. Meanwhile ye shall not want 

What, conscious of your virtues, we can spare, 

Nor what a wealthier than ourselves may send. 

I mean the man who, when the distant poor 

Need help, denies them nothing but his name. 

But poverty, with most who whimper forth 
Their long complaints, is self-inflicted woe ; 430 

The effect of laziness or sottish waste. 
Now goes the nightly thief prowling abroad 
For plunder ; much solicitous how best 
He may compensate for a day of sloth, 
By works of darkness and nocturnal wrong. 
Woe to the gardener's pale, the farmer's hedge 
Plashed neatly, and secured with driven stakes 
Deep in the loamy bank. Uptorn by strength. 
Resistless in so bad a cause, but lame 

To better deeds, he bundles up the spoil, 440 

An ass's burden, and when laden most 
And heaviest, light of foot steals fast away. 
Nor does the boarded hovel better guard 
The well-stacked pile of riven logs and roots 
From his pernicious force. Nor will he leave 
Unwrenched the door, however well secured, 
Where chanticleer amidst his harem sleeps 
In unsuspecting pomp. Twitched from the perch, 
He gives the princely bird, with all his wives, 
To his voracious bag, struggling in vain, 450 

And loudly wondering at the sudden change. 
Nor this to feed his own. 'Twere some excuse 
Did pity of their sufferings warp aside 
His principle, and tempt him into sin 
For their support, so destitute. But they 
Neglected pine at hpme, themselves, as more 
Exposed than others, with less scruple made 
His victims, robbed of their defenceless all. 
Cruel is all he does. 'Tis quenchless thirst 
< )f ruinous ebriety that prompts 460 

I lis every action, and imbrutes the man. 
Oh for a law to noose the villain's neck 
Who starves his own : who persecutes the blood 
He gave them in Ins children's veins, and hates 
And wrongs the woman lie has sworn to love ! 

Pass where we may, through city or through town. 
Village or hamlet, of this merry land, 
Though lean and beggared, every twentieth pace 
Conducts the ungual uch a hiff 

Of stale debauch, forth issuing from the Styes 470 



THE WINTER EVENING. 



241 



That law has licensed, as makes temperance reel. 

There sit, involved and lost in curling clouds 

Of Indian fume, and guzzling deep, the boor, 

The lackey, and the groom ; the craftsman there 

Takes a Lethean leave of all his toil ; 

Smith, cobbler, joiner, he that plies the shears, 

And he that kneads the dough ; all loud alike, 

All learned, and all drunk. The fiddle screams 

Plaintive and piteous, as it wept and wailed 

Ite wasted tones and harmony unheard ; 4JJ0 

Fierce the dispute, whate'er the theme ; while she, 

Fell Discord, arbitress of such debate, 

Perched on the sign-post, holds with even hand 

Her undecisive scales. In this she lays 

A weight of ignorance ; in that, of pride ; 

And smiles delighted with the eternal poise. 

Dire is the frequent curse, and its twin sound 

The cheek-distending oath, not to be praised 

As ornamental, musical, polite, 

Like those which modern senators employ, 490 

Whose oath is rhetoric, and who swear for fame. 

Behold the schools in which plebeian minds, 

Once simple, are initiated in arts 

Which some may practise with politer grace, 

But none with readier skill ! 'Tis here they learn 

The road that leads from competence and peace 

To indigence and rapine ; till at last 

Society, grown weary of the load, 

Shakes her encumbered lap, and casts them out. 

But censure profits little : vain the attempt 500 

To advertise in verse a public pest, 

That like the filth with which the peasant feeds 

His hungry acres, stinks, and is of use. 

The Excise is fattened with the rich result 

Of all this riot ; and ten thousand casks, 

For ever dribbling out their base contents, 

Touched by the Midas finger of the State, 

Bleed gold for ministers to sport away. 

Drink and be mad then: 'tis your country bids 

Gloriously drunk, obey the important call ! 510 

Her cause demands the assistance of your throats ; 

Ye all can swallow, and she asks no more. 

\\ ould I had fallen upon those happier days 
That poets celebrate ; those golden times 
And those Arcadian scenes that Maro sings, 
And Sidney, warbler of poetic prose. 
Nymphs were Dianas then, and swains had hearts 
That felt their virtues : Innocence, it seems, 
From courts dismissed, found shelter in the groves. 
The footsteps of simplicity, impressed 5:0 

Upon the yielding herbage (so they sing), 
Then were not all effaced : then speech profane, 



242 THE TASK. 

And manners profligate, were rarely found, 

Observed as prodigies, and soon reclaimed. 

Vain wish ! those days were never : airy dreams 

Sat for the picture ; and the poet's hand, 

Imparting substance to an empty shade, 

Imposed a gay delirium for a truth. 

Grant it : I still must envy them an age 

That favoured such a dream, in days like these 530 

Impossible, when Virtue is so scarce, 

That to suppose a scene where she presides 

Is tramontane, and stumbles all belief. 

No : we are polished now. The rural lass, 

Whom once her virgin modesty and grace, 

Her artless manner, and her neat attire, 

So dignified, that she was hardly less 

Than the fair shepherdess of old romance, 

Is seen no more. The character is lost. 

Her head, adorned with lappets pinned aloft, 540 

And ribands streaming gay, superbly raised, 

And magnified beyond all human size, 

Indebted to some smart wig-weaver's hand 

For more than half the tresses it sustains : 

Her elbows ruffled, and her tottering form 

111 propped upon French heels ; she might be deemed 

(But that the basket dangling on her arm 

Interprets her more truly) of a rank 

Too proud for dairy work or sale of eggs. 

Expect her soon with footboy at 'her heels, 550 

No longer blushing for her awkward load, 

Her train and her umbrella all her care. 

The town has tinged the country ; and the stain 
Appears a spot upon a vestal's robe, 
The worse for what it soils. The fashion runs 
Down into scenes still rural ; but, alas ! 
Scenes rarely graced with rural manners now 
Time was when in the pastoral retreat 
The unguarded door was safe ; men did not watch 
To invade another's right, or guard their own. 560 

Then sleep was undisturbed by fear, unscared 
By drunken bowlings ; and the chilling tale 
Of midnight murder was a wonder heard 
With doubtful credit, told to frighten babes. 
But farewell now to unsuspicious nights, 
And slumbers unalarmed. Now, ere you sleep 
See that your polished arms be primed with care, 
And drop the nightbolt ; ruffians are abroad ; 
And the first 'larum of the cock's shrill tin 1! 
May prove a trumpet, summoning your ear 570 

To horrid sounds of hostile feet within. 
Even daylight has its dangers ; and the walk 

Through pathl and woods, uri 

Of other tenants than bud 



THE WINTER EVENING. 243 

Or harmless flocks, is hazardous and bold. 
Lamented change ! to which full many a cause 
Inveterate, hopeless of a cure, conspires. 
The course of human things from good to ill, 
From ill to worse, is fatal, never fails. 

Increase of power begets increase of wealth ; 580 

Wealth luxury, and luxury excess ; 
Excess, the scrofulous and itchy plague 
That seizes first the opulent, descends 
To the next rank contagious, and in time 
Taints downward all the graduated scale 
Of order, from the chariot to the plough. 
The rich, and they that have an arm to check 
The licence of the lowest in degree, 
Desert their office; and themselves intent 
On pleasure, haunt the capital, and thus 590 

To all the violence of lawless hands 
Resign the scenes their presence might protect. 
Authority herself not seldom sleeps, 
Though resident, and witness of the wrong. 
The plump convivial parson often bears 
The magisterial sword in vain, and lays 
His reverence and his worship both to rest 
On the same cushion of habitual sloth. 
Perhaps timidity restrains his arm ; 

When he should strike, he trembles, and sets free, 600 

Himself enslaved by terror of the band, 
The audacious convict, whom he dares not bind. 
Perhaps, though by profession ghostly pure, 
He too may have his vice, and sometimes prove 
Less dainty than becomes his grave outside 
In lucrative concerns. Examine well 
His milk-white hand ; the palm is hardly clean, — 
But here and there an ugly smutch appears. 
Foh ! 'twas a bribe that left it : he has touched 
Corruption. Whoso seeks an audit here 610 

Propitious, pays his tribute, game or fish, 
Wildfowl or venison, and his errand speeds. 
But faster far, and more than all the rest, 
A noble cause, which none who bears a spark 
Of public virtue ever wished removed, 
Works the deplored and mischievous effect. 
: Tis universal soldiership has stabbed 
The heart of merit in the meaner class. 
Arms, through the vanity and brainless rage 
Of those that bear them, in whatever cause, 620 

Seem most at variance with all moral good, 
And incompatible with serious thought. 
The clown, the child of nature, without guile, 
Blest with an infant's ignorance of all 
But his own simple pleasures, now and then 
A wrestling-match, a foot-race, or a fair, 
R 2 



244 THE TASK. 



Is balloted, and trembles at the news : 

Sheepish he doffs his hat, aud mumbling swears 

A Bible-oath to be whate'er they please, 

To do he knows not what. The task performed, 630 

That instant he becomes the Serjeant's care, 

His pupil, and his torment, and his jest 

His awkward gait, his introverted toes, 

Bent knees, round shoulders, and dejected looks, 

Procure him many a curse. By slow degrees, 

Unapt to learn, and formed of stubborn stuff, 

He yet by slow degrees puts off himself, 

Grows conscious of a change, and likes it well ; 

He stands erect ; his slouch becomes a walk ; 

He steps right onward, martial in his air, 640 

His form, and movement ; is as smart above 

As meal and larded locks can make him ; wears 

His hat, or his plumed helmet, with a grace; 

And, his three years of heroship expired, 

Returns indignant to the slighted plough. 

He hates the field, in which no fife or drum 

Attends him, drives his cattle to a march, 

And sighs for the smart comrades he has left. 

'Twere well if his exterior change were all — 

But with his clumsy port the wretch has lost 650 

His ignorance and harmless manners too. 

To swear, to game, to drink, to show at home 

By lewdness, idleness, and Sabbath breach, 

The great proficiency he made abroad, 

To astonish and to grieve his gazing friends, 

To break some maiden's and his mother's heart, 

To be a pest where he was useful once, 

Are his sole aim, and all his glory now. 
Man in society is like a flower 

Blown in its native bed : 'tis there alone 660 

His faculties, expanded in full bloom, 

Shine out ; there only reach their proper use. 

But man associated and leagued with man 

By regal warrant, or self-joined by bond 

For interest sake, or swarming into clans 

Beneath one head for pivrposes of war, 

Like flowers selected from the rest, and bound 

And bundled close to fill some crowded vase, 

Fades rapidly, and by compression marred, 

Contracts defilement not to be endured. 670 

Hence chartered boroughs are such public plagues ; 

And burghers, men 'immaculate perhaps 

In all their private functions, once combined, 

Become a loathsome body, only fit 

For dissolution, hurtful to the main. 

Hence merchants, unimpeachable of sin 

Against the charities of domestic life, 

Incorporated, once to lose 



THL WINTER EVENING. 245 



Their nature, and disclaiming all regard 

For mercy and the common rights of man, 680 

Build factories with blood, conducting trade 

At the sword's point, and dyeing the white robe 

Of innocent commercial justice red. 

Hence too the field of glory, as the world 

Misdeems it, dazzled by its bright array, 

With all its majesty of thundering pomp, 

Enchanting music, and immortal wreaths, 

Is but a school where thoughtlessness is taught 

On principle, where foppery atones 

For folly, gallantly for every vice. 690 

But slighted as it is, and by the great 
Abandoned, and, which still I more regret, 
Infected with the manners and the modes 
It knew not once^ the country wins me still. 
I never framed a wish, or formed a plan, 
That flattered me with hopes of earthly bliss, 
But there I laid the scene. There early strayed 
My fancy, ere yet liberty of choice 
Had found me, or the hope of being free. 
My very dreams were rural, rural too 700 

The firstborn efforts of my youthful muse, 
Sportive, and jingling her poetic bells 
Ere yet her ear was mistress of their powers. 
No bard could please me but whose lyre was tuned 
To Nature's praises. Heroes and their feats 
Fatigued me, never weary of the pipe 
Of Tityrus, assembling, as he sang, 
The rustic throng beneath his favourite beech. 
Then Milton* had indeed a poet's charms : 
New to my taste, his Paradise surpassed 710 

The struggling efforts of my boyish tongue 
To speak its excellence ; I danced for joy. 
I marvelled much that, at so ripe an age 
As twice seven years, his beauties had then first 
Engaged my wonder, and admiring still, 
And still admiring, with regret supposed 
The joy half lost because not sooner found. 
Thee too, enamoured of the life I loved, 
Pathetic in its praise, in its pursuit 

Determined, and possessing it at last 720 

With transports such as favoured lovers feel, 
I studied, prized, and wished that I had known, 
Ingenious Cowley ! and though now reclaimed 
By modern lights from an erroneous taste, 
I cannot but lament thy splendid wit 
Entangled in the cobwebs of the schools ; 
I still revere thee, courtly though retired, 
Though stretched at ease in Chertsey's silent bowers, 
Not unemployed, and finding rich amends 
For a lost world in solitude and verse. 7-30 



246 THE TASK. 

'Tis born with all : the love of Nature's works 

Is an ingredient in the compound, man, 

Infused at the creation of the kind. 

And though the Almighty Maker has throughout 

Discriminated each from each, by strokes 

And touches of His hand, with so much art 

Diversified, that two were never found 

Twins at all points — yet this obtains in all, 

That all discern a beauty in His works, 

And all can taste them : minds that have been formed 740 

And tutored with a relish more exact, 

But none without some relish, none unmoved. 

It is a flame that dies not even there 

Where nothing feeds it : neither business, crowds, 

Nor habits of luxurious city life, 

Whatever else they smother of true worth 

In human bosoms, quench it or abate. 

The villas with which London stands begirt, 

Like a swarth Indian with his belt of beads, 

Prove it. A breath of unadulterate air, 750 

The glimpse of a green pasture, how they cheer 

The citizen, and brace his languid frame ! 

Even in the stifling bosom of the town, 

A garden in which nothing thrives has charms 

That soothe the rich possessor ; much consoled 

That here and there some sprigs of mournful mint, 

Of nightshade, or valerian, grace the well 

He cultivates. These serve him with a hint 

That Nature lives; that sight-refreshing green 

Is still the livery she delights to wear, 760 

Though sickly samples of the exuberant whole. 

What are the casements lined with creeping herbs, 

The prouder sashes fronted with a range 

Of orange, myrtle, or the fragrant weed, 

The Frenchman's darling?* Are they not all proofs 

That man, immured in cities, still retains 

His inborn inextinguishable thirst 

Of rural scenes, compensating his loss 

By supplemental shifts, the best he may ? 

The most unfurnished with the means of life, 770 

And they that never pass their brick-wall bounds 

To range the fields and treat their lungs with air, 

Yet feel the burning instinct ; over-head 

Suspend their crazy boxes, planted thick, 

And watered duly. There the pitcher stands 

A fragment, and the spoutless teapot there ; 

Sad witnesses how close-pent man regrets 

The country, with what ardour he contrives 

A peep at nature, when he can no more. 

Hail, therefore, patroness of health and ease 780 

* Mignonette. 



THE WINTER MORNING WALK. 



HI 



And contemplation, heart-consoling joys 
And harmless pleasures, in the thronged abode 
Of multitudes unknown ! hail, rural life! 

iiu will to the pursuit 
Of honours, or emolument, or fame, 
I shall not add myself to such a chase, 
Thwart his attempts, or envy his success. 
Some must be great. Great offices will have 
(heat talents : and God gives to every man 
The virtue, temper, understanding, taste, 790 

That lifts him into life, and lets him fall 
Just in the niche he was ordained to fill. 
To the deliverer of an injured land 
He gives a tongue to enlarge upon, a heart 
To feel, and courage to redress her wrongs ; 
To monarchs dignity ; to judges sense ; 
To artists ingenuity and skill ; 
To me an unambitious mind, content 
In the low vale of life, that early felt 

A wish for ease and leisure, and ere long 800 

Found here that leisure and that ease I wished. 



BOOK V. 
THE WINTER MORNING WALK. 

ARGUMENT. — A frosty morning— The foddering of cattle — The woodman and his dog — The poultry 
— Whimsical effects of frost at a waterfall — The Empress of Russia's palace of ice — Amusements 
of monarchs — War, one of them — Wars, whence — And whence monarchy — The evils of it — 
English and French loyalty contrasted — The Bastille, and a prisoner there— Liberty the chief 
recommendation of this country — Modem patriotism questionable, and why — The perishable 
nature of the best human institutions — Spiritual liberty not perishable— The slavish state of 
man by nature— Deliver him, Deist, if you can — Grace must do it — The respective merits of 
patriots and martyrs stated — Their different treatment — Happy freedom of the man whom 
grace makes free— His relish of the works of God — Address to the Creator. 

'Tis morning ; and the sun with ruddy orb 

Ascending, fires the horizon : while the clouds 

That crowd away before the driving wind, 

More ardent as the disk emerges more, 

Resemble most some city in a blaze, 

Seen through the leafless wood. His slanting ray 

Slides ineffectual down the snowy vale, 

And tinging all with his own rosy hue, 

From every herb and every spiry blade 

Stretches a length of shadow o'er the field. 10 

Mine, spindling into longitude immense, 

In spite of gravity, and sage remark 



248 THE TASK. 

That I myself am but a fleeting shade, 
Provokes me to a smile. With eye askance 
I view the muscular proportioned limb 
Transformed to a lean shank. The shapeless pair, 
As they designed to mock me, at my side 
Take step for step ; and as I near approach 
The cottage, walk along the plastered wall, 
Preposterous sight ! the legs without the man. 20 

The verdure of the plain lies buried deep 
Beneath the dazzling deluge ; and the bents 
And coarser grass, upspearing o'er the rest, 
Of late unsightly and unseen, now shine 
Conspicuous, and in bright apparel clad, 
And fledged with icy feathers, nod superb. 
The cattle mourn in corners where the fence 
Screens them, and seem half-petrified to sleep 
In unrecumbent sadness. There they wait 
Their wonted fodder, not like hungering man, 30 

Fretful if unsupplied, but silent, meek, 
And patient of the slow-paced swain's delay. 
He from the stack carves out the accustomed load, 
Deep-plunging, and again deep-plunging oft, 
His broad keen knife into the solid mass ; 
Smooth as a wall the upright remnant stands, 
With such undeviating and even force 
He severs it away : no needless care 
Lest storms should overset the leaning pile 
Deciduous, or its own unbalanced weight. 40 

Forth goes the woodman, leaving unconcerned 
The cheerful haunts of man, to wield the axe 
And drive the wedge in yonder forest drear, 
From morn to eve his solitary task. 
Shaggy, and lean, and shrewd, with pointed ears 
And tail cropped short, half lurcher and half cur, 
His dog attends him. Close behind his heel 
Now creeps he slow ; and now with many a frisk 
Wide scampering, snatches up the drifted snow 
With ivory teeth, or ploughs it with his snout ; 50 

Then shakes his powdered coat, and barks for joy. 
Heedless of all his pranks, the sturdy churl 
Moves right toward the mark ; nor stops for aught, 
But now and then with pressure of his thumb 
To adjust the fragrant charge of a short tube- 
That fumes beneath his nose : the trailing cloud 
Streams far behind him, scenting all the air. 
Now from the roost, or from the neighbouring pale, 
Where, diligent to catch the first faint gleam 
Of smiling day, they gossiped side b\ Co 

Come trooping at the housewife's well-known call 
The feathered tribes domestic. Half on wing, 
And half on foot, they brush the fleecy flood, 
Conscious, and fearful of too deep a plunge. 






THE WINTER MORXLXG IVALK. 249 



The sparrows peep, and quit the sheltering eaves 

To seize the fair occasion. 'Well they eye 

The scattered grain, and thievishly resolved 

To escape the impending famine, often scared 

As oft return, a pert voracious kind. 

Clean riddance quickly made, one only care 70 

Remains to each, the search of sunny nook, 

Or shed impervious to the blast. Resigned 

To sad necessity, the cock foregoes 

His wonted strut, and wading at their head 

With well-considered steps, seems to resent 

His altered gait and stateliness retrenched. 

How find the myriads that in summer cheer 

The hills and valleys with their ceaseless songs 

Due sustenance, or where subsist they now ? 

Larth yields them nought : the imprisoned worm is safe £0 

Beneath the frozen clod ; all seeds of herbs 

Lie covered close ; and berry-bearing thorns 

That feed the thrush (whatever some suppose) 

Afford the smaller minstrels no supply r . 

The long-protracted rigour of the year 

Thins all their numerous flocks. In chinks and holes 

Ten thousand seek an unmolested end, 

As instinct prompts, self-buried ere they die. 

The very rooks and daws forsake the fields, 

Where neither grub nor root nor earth-nut now 90 

Repays their labour more ; and perched aloft 

By the wayside, or stalking in the path, 

Lean pensioners upon the traveller's track, 

Pick up their nauseous dole, though sweet to them 

Of voided pulse or half-digested grain. 

The streams are lost amid the splendid blank, 

O'erwhehning all distinction. On the flood, 

Indurated and fixed, the snowy weight 

Lies undissolved ; while silently beneath, 

And unperceived, the current steals away. 100 

Not so, where scornful of a check it leaps 

The mill-dam, dashes on the restless wheel, 

And wantons in the pebbly gulf below : 

Xo frost can bind it there ; its utmost force 

Can but arrest the light and smoky mist 

That in its fall the liquid sheet throws wide. 

And see where it has hung the embroidered banks 

With forms so various, that no powers of art, 

The pencil or the pen, may trace the scene .' 

Here glittering turrets rise, upbearing high 1 10 

(Fantastic misarrangement !) on the roof 

Large growth of what may seem the sparkling trees 

And shrubs of fairy land. The crystal drops 

That trickle down the branches, fast congealed, 

Shoot into pillars of pellucid length, 

And prop the pile they but adorned before 



250 



THE TASK. 

Here grotto within grotto safe defies 

The sunbeam ; there embossed and fretted wild, 

The growing wonder takes a thousand shapes 

Capricious, in which fancy seeks in vain I2~> 

The likeness of some object seen before. 

Thus Nature works as if to mock at Art, 

And in defiance of her rival powers ; 

By these fortuitous and random strokes 

Performing such inimitable feats, 

As she with all her rales can never reach. 

Less worthy of applause, though more admired, 

Because a novelty, the work of man, 

Imperial mistress of the fur-clad Russ ! 

Thy most magnificent and mighty freak, 130 

The wonder of the North. No forest fell 

When thou wouldst build ; no quarry sent its stores 

To enrich thy walls ; but thou didst hew the floods, 

And make thy marble of the glassy wave. 

In such a palace Aristaeus found 

Cyrene, when he bore the plaintive tale 

Of his lost bees to her maternal ear : 

In such a palace poetry might place 

The armoury of Winter ; where his troops, 

The gloomy clouds, find weapons, arrowy sleet, 14° 

Skin-piercing volley, blossom-braising hail, 

And snow that often blinds the traveller's course, 

And wraps him in an unexpected tomb. 

Silently as a dream the fabric rose ; 

No sound of hammer or of saw was there. 

Ice upon ice, the well-adjusted parts 

Were soon conjoined, nor other cement asked 

Than water interfused to make them one. 

Lamps gracefully disposed, and of all hues, 

Illumined every side ; a watery light 15° 

Gleamed through the clear transparency, that seemed 

Another moon new risen, or meteor fallen 

From heaven to earth, of lambent flame serene. 

So stood the brittle prodigy ; though smooth 

And slippery the materials, yet frostbound 

Firm as a rock. Nor wanted aught within, 

That royal residence might well befit, 

For grandeur or for use. Long wavy wreaths 

Of flowers, that feared no enemy but warmth, 

Blushed on the panels. Minor needed none I0 ° 

Where all was vitreous ; but in order due 

Convivial table and commodious seat 

(What seemed at least commodious seat) were there, 

Sofa and couch and high-built throne august. 

The same lubricity was found in all, 

And all was moist to the warm touch ; a scene 

Of evanescent glory, once a stream, 

And soon to slide into a stream again. 



THE WINTER MORNING WALK. 251 



Alas ! 'twas but a mortifying stroke 

Of undesigned severity, that glanced 1 70 

(Made by a monarch) on her own estate, 

On human grandeur and the courts of kings. 

'Twas transient in its nature, as in show 

'Twas durable ; as worthless as it seemed 

Intrinsically precious; to the foot 

Treacherous and false; it smiled, and it was cold. 

Great princes have great playthings. Some have played 
At hewing mountains into men, and some 
At building human wonders mountain high. 
Some have amused the dull sad years of life, 180 

Life spent in indolence, and therefore sad, 
With schemes of monumental fame ; and sought 
By pyramids and mausolean pomp, 
Shortdived themselves, to immortalize their bones. 
Some seek diversion in the tented field, 
And make the sorrows of mankind their sport. 
But war's a game, which, were their subjects wise, 
Kings would not play at. Nations would do well 
To extort their truncheons from the puny hands 
Of heroes, whose infirm and baby minds 190 

Are gratified with mischief, and who spoil, 
Because men suffer it, their toy the world. 

When Babel was confounded, and the great 
Confederacy of projectors wild and vain 
Was split into diversity of tongues, 
Then, as a shepherd separates his flock, 
These to the upland, to the valley those, 
God drave asunder, and assigned their lot 
To all the nations. Ample was the boon 
He gave them, in its distribution fair 200 

And equal, and he bade them dwell in peace. 
Peace was awhile their care : they ploughed and sowed, 
And reaped their plenty without grudge or strife. 
But violence can never longer sleep 
Than human passions please. In every heart 
Are sown the sparks that kindle fiery war ; 
Occasion needs but fan them, and they blaze. 
Cain had already shed a brother's blood; 
The Deluge washed it out, but left unquenched 
The seeds of murder in the breast of man. 210 

Soon, by a righteous judgment, in the line 
Of his descending progeny was found 
The first artificer of death ; the shrewd 
Contriver who first sweated at the forge, 
And forced the blunt and yet unbloodied steel 
To a keen edge, and made it bright for war. 
Him, Tubal named, the Vulcan of old times, 
The sword and falchion their inventor claim, 
And the first smith was the first murderer's son. 
His art survived the waters; and ere long, 220 



252 THE TASK. 

When man was multiplied and spread abroad 

In tribes and clans, and had begun to call 

These meadows and that range of hills his own, 

The tasted sweets of property begat 

Desire of more ; and industry in some, 

To improve and cultivate their just demesne, 

Made others covet what they saw so fair. 

Thus war began on earth ; these fought for spoil, 

And those in self-defence. Savage at first 

The onset, and irregular. At length 230 

One eminent above the rest, for strength, 

For stratagem, or courage, or for all, 

Was chosen leader ; him they served in war, 

And him in peace, for sake of warlike deeds 

Reverenced no less. Who could with him compare ? 

Or who so worthy to control themselves 

As he whose prowess had subdued their foes ? 

Thus war affording field for the display 

Of virtue, made one chief, whom times of peace, 

Which have their exigencies too, and call 240 

For skill in government, at length made king. 

King was a name too proud for man to wear 

With modesty and meekness ; and the crown, 

So dazzling in their eyes who set it on, 

Was sure to intoxicate the brows it bound. 

It is the abject property of most, 

That being parcel of the common mass, 

And destitute of means to raise themselves, 

They sink and settle lower than they need. 

They know not what it is to feel within 250 

A comprehensive faculty that grasps 

Great purposes with ease, that turns and wields, 

Almost without an effort, plans too vast 

For their conception, which they cannot move. 

Conscious of impotence, they soon grow drunk 

With gazing, when they see an able man 

Step forth to notice ; and besotted thus, 

Build him a pedestal, and say. " Stand there, 

Arid be our admiration and our praise." 

They roll themselves before him in the dust, 260 

Then most deserving in their own account 

When most extravagant in his applause, 

As if exalting him they raised themselves. 

Thus by degrees, self-cheated of their sound 

And sober judgment, that he is but man, 

They demi-deify and fume him so, 

That in due season he forgets it too. 

Inflated and astrut with self-conceit, 

He gulps the windy diet, and ere long, 

Adopting their mistake, profoundly thinks 270 

The world was made in vain, if not for him. 

Thenceforth they are his cattle : drudges born 



THE WINTER MORNING WALK. 253 



To bear his burdens ; drawing in his gears 

And sweating in his service; his caprice 

Becomes the soul that animates them all. 

He deems a thousand, or ten thousand lives, 

Spent in the purchase of renown for him, 

An easy reckoning, and they think the same. 

Thus kings were first invented, and thus kings 

Were burnished into heroes, and became 280 

The arbiters of this terraqueous swamp, 

Storks among frogs, that have but croaked and died. 

Strange, that such folly as lifts bloated man 

To eminence fit only for a god 

Should ever drivel out of human lips, 

Even in the cradled weakness of the world ! 

Still stranger much, that when at length mankind 

Had reached the sinewy firmness of their youth, 

And could discriminate and argue well 

On subjects more mysterious, they were yet 290 

Babes in the cause of freedom, and should fear 

And quake before the gods themselves had made ! 

But above measure strange, that neither proof 

Of sad experience, nor examples set 

By some whose patriot virtue has prevailed, 

Can even now, when they are grown mature 

In wisdom, and with philosophic deeds 

Familiar, serve to emancipate the rest ! 

Such dupes are men to custom, and so prone 

To reverence what is ancient, and can plead 300 

A course of long observance for its use, 

That even servitude, the worst of ills, 

Because delivered down from sire to son, 

Is kept and guarded as a sacred thing. 

But is it fit, or can it bear the shock 

Of rational discussion, that a man, 

Compounded and made up like other men 

Of elements tumultuous, in whom lust 

And folly in as ample measure meet 

As in the bosoms of the slaves he rules, 310 

Should be a despot absolute, and boast 

Himself the only freeman of his land? 

Should, when he pleases, and on whom he will, 

Wage war, with any or with no pretence 

Of provocation given or wrong sustained, 

And force the beggarly last doit, by means 

That his own humour dictates, from the clutch 

Of poverty, that thus he may procure 

His thousands, weary of penurious life, 

A splendid opportunity to die? -20 

Say ye, who (with less prudence than of old 

jotham ascribed to his assembled trees 

In politic convention) put your trust 

In the shadow of a bramble, and reclined 



254 THE TASK. 



In tancied peace beneath his dangerous branch, 

Rejoice in him, and celebrate his sway, 

Where find ye passive fortitude ? Whence springs 

Your self-denying zeal that holds it good 

To stroke the prickly grievance, and to hang 

His thorns with streamers of continual praise ? 330 

We too are friends to loyalty. We love 

The lung who loves the law, respects his bounds, 

And reigns content within them : him we serve 

Freely and with delight, who leaves us free : 

But recollecting still that he is man, 

We trust him not too far. King though he be, 

And king in England too, he may be weak, 

And vain enough to be ambitious still, 

May exercise amiss his proper powers, 

Or covet more than freemen choose to grant : 340 

Beyond that mark is treason. He is ours, 

To administer, to guard, to adorn the State, 

But not to warp or change it. We are his, 

To serve him nobly in the common cause, 

True to the death, but not to be his slaves. 

Mark now the difference, ye that boast your love 

Of kings, between your loyalty and ours : 

We love the man, the paltry pageant you ; 

We the chief patron of the commonwealth, 

You the regardless author of its woes ; 350 

We, for the sake of liberty, a king, 

You chains and bondage for a tyrant's sake. 

Our love is principle, and has its root 

In reason, is judicious, manly, free ; 

Yours, a blind instinct, crouches to the rod, 

And licks the foot that treads it in the dust. 

Were kingship as true treasure as it seems, 

Sterling, and worthy of a wise man's wish, 

I would not be a king to be beloved 

Causeless, and daubed with undiscerning praisr, 360 

Where love is mei - e attachment to the throne, 

Not to the man who fills it as he ought. 

Whose freedom is by sufferance, and at will 
Of a superior, he is never free. 
Who lives, and is not weary of a life 
Exposed to manacles, deserves them well. 
The State that strives for liberty, though foiled, 
And forced to abandon what she bravely sought, 
Deserves at least applause for her attempt, 
And pity for her loss. But that's a cause 3-0 

Not often unsuccessful ; power usurped 
Is weakness when opposed ; conscious of wrong, 
'Tis pusillanimous and prone to flight. 
But slaves that once conceive the glowing thought 
Of freedom, in that hope itself possess 
All that the c mtest calls for ; spirit, strenglli. 



THE WINTER MOKXIXC WALK. 



255 



The scorn of danger, and united hearts, 
The surest presage of the good they seek.* 

Then shame to manhood, and opprobrious more 
To France than all her losses and defeats, 580 

( Hd or of later date, by sea or land, « 

1 Ier house of bondage, worse than that of old 
Which God avenged on Pharaoh — the Bastille. 
Ye horrid towers, the abode of broken hearts, 
Ye dungeons, and ye cages of despair, 
That monarchs have supplied from age to age 
With music such as suits their sovereign ears, 
The sighs and groans of miserable men ! 
There's not an English heart that would not leap 
To hear that ye were fallen at last ; to know 390 

That even our enemies, so oft employed 
In forging chains for us, themselves were free. 
For he who values liberty confines 
His zeal for her predominance within 
No narrow bounds ; her cause engages him 
Wherever pleaded. 'Tis the cause of man. 
There dwell the most forlorn of human kind. 
Immured though unaccused, condemned untried, 
Cruelly spared, and hopeless of escape. 

There, like the visionary emblem seen 400 

By him of Babylon, life stands a stump. 
And, filleted about with hoops of brass, 
Still lives, though all its pleasant boughs are gone. 
To count the hour-bell, and expect no change ; 
And ever as the sullen sound is heard, 
Still to reflect, that though a joyless note 
To him whose moments all have one dull pace, 
Ten thousand rovers in the world at large 
Account it music ; that it summons some 
To theatre or jocund feast or ball ; 410 

The wearied hireling finds it a release 
From labour ; and the lover, who has chid 
Its long delay, feels every welcome stroke 
Upon his heart-strings, trembling with delight — 
To fly for refuge from distracting thought 
To such amusements as ingenious woe 
Contrives, hard shifting and without her tools — 
To read engraven on the mouldy walls, 
In staggering types, his predecessor's tale, 
A sad memorial, and subjoin his own — 420 

To turn purveyor to an overgorged 
And bloated spider, till the pampered pest 
Is made familiar, watches his approach, 
Comes at his call, and serve- him for a friend — 



* The . that he shall not be censured for unnecessary warmth upon so interesting a 

fashionable 1 sentiments as no 

better th .-. it is an ill symptom, and peculi: times 



256 THE TASK. 

To wear out time in numbering to and fro 
The studs that thick emboss his iron door, 
Then downward, and then upward, then aslant, 
And then alternate, with a sickly hope 
By dint of change to give his tasteless task 
Some relish, till the sum exactly found 430 

In all directions, he begins again : — 
Oh comfortless existence ! hemmed around 
With woes, which who that suffers would not kneel 
And beg for exile, or the pangs of death ? 
That man should thus encroach on fellow-man, 
Abridge him of his just and native rights. 
Eradicate him, tear him from his hold 
Upon the endearments of domestic life 
And social, nip his fruitfulness and use, 

And doom him for perhaps a heedless word 440 

To barrenness, and solitude, and tears, 
Moves indignation, makes the name of king 
(Of king whom such prerogative can please) 
As dreadful as the Manichean God, 
Adored through fear, strong only to destroy. 
~'Tis liberty alone that gives the flower 
Of fleeting life its lustre and perfume, 
And we are weeds without it. ' All constraint, 
Except what wisdom lays on evil men, 

Is evil ; hurts the faculties, impedes 450 

Their progress in the road of science ; blinds 
The eyesight of discover)', and begets, 
In those that suffer it. a sordid mind 
Bestial, a meagre intellect, unfit 
To be the tenant of man's noble form. 
Thee therefore still, blameworthy as thou art, 
With all thy loss of empire, and though squeezed 
By public exigence til! annual food 
Fails for the craving hunger of the State, 
Thee I account still happy, and the chief 460 

Among the nations, seeing thou art free, 
My native nook of earth 1 Thy clime is rude, 
Replete with vapours, ana disposes much 
All hearts to sadness, and none more than mine ; 
Thine unaclulterate manners arc less soft 
And plausible than social life requires, 
And thou hast need of discipline and art 
To give thee what politer France receives 
From nature's bounty — that humane address 
And sweetness, without which no pleasure is 470 

In converse, either starved by cold reserve, 
Or flushed with fierce dispute, a senseless brawl ; 
Yet being free I love thee : for the sake 
Of that one feature can be well content, 
Disgraced as thou hast been, poor as thou art, 
To seek no sublunary rest beside. 



THE WINTER MORNING WALK. 

But once enslaved, farewell ! I could endure 

Chains nowhere patiently, and chains at home, 

Where I am free by birthright, not at all. 

Then what were left of roughness in the grain 480 

Of British natures, wanting its excuse 

That it belongs to freemen, would disgust 

And shock me. I should then with double pain 

Feel all the rigour of thy fickle clime ; 

And if I must bewail the blessing lost 

For which our Hampdens and our Sidneys bled, 

I would at least bewail it under skies 

Milder, among a people less austere, 

In scenes which, having never known me free. 

Would not reproach me with the loss I felt. 490 

Do I forebode impossible events, 

And tremble at vain dreams? Heaven grant 1 may ! 

But the age of virtuous politics is past, 

And we are deep in that of cold pretence. 

Patriots are grown too shrewd to be sincere, 

And we too wise to trust them. He that takes 

Deep in his soft credulity the stamp 

Designed by loud declaim ers on the part 

Of liberty, themselves the slaves of lust, 

Incurs derision for his easy faith 500 

And lack of knowledge, and with cause enough : 

For when was public virtue to be found 

Where private was not ? Can he love the whole 

Who loves no part ? He be a nation's friend 

Who is, in truth, the friend of no man there ? 

Can he be strenuous in his country's cause 

Who slights the charities for whose dear sake 

That country, if at all, must be beloved ? 

'Tis therefore sober and good men are sad 
For England's glory, seeing it wax pale ^10 

And sickly, while her champions wear their hearts 
So loose to private duty, that no brain, 
Healthful and undisturbed by factious fumes, 
Can dream them trusty to the general weal. 
Such were not they of old, whose tempered blades 
Dispersed the shackles of usurped control, 
And hewed them link from link. Then Albion's sons 
Were sons indeed ; they felt a filial heart 
Beat high within them at a mother's wrongs, 
And shining each in his domestic sphere, 520 

Shone brighter still, once called to public view. 
'Tis therefore many, whose sequestered lot 
Forbids their interference, looking on, 
Anticipate perforce some dire event ; 
And seeing the old castle of the State, 
That promised once more firmness, so assailed 
That all its tempest-beaten turrets shake, 
Stand motionless, expectants of its fall. 



25« THE TASK. 

All has its date below ; the fatal hour 

Was registered in heaven ere time began. 530 

We turn to dust, and all our mightiest works 

Die too : the deep foundations that we lay, 

Time ploughs them up, and not a trace remains. 

We build with what we deem eternal rock ; , 

A distant age asks where the fabric stood ; 

And in the dust, sifted and searched in vain, 

The indiscoverable secret sleeps. 

But there is yet a liberty unsung 
By poets, and by senators unpraised, 

Which monarchs cannot grant, nor all the powers 540 

Of earth and hell confederate take away ; 
A liberty which persecution, fraud, 
Oppression, prisons, have no power to bind ; 
Which whoso tastes can be enslaved no more. 
'Tis liberty of heart, derived from Heaven, 
Bought with His blood who gave it to mankind, 
And sealed with the same token. It is held 
By charter, and that charter sanctioned sure 
By the unimpeachable and awful oath 

And promise of a God. His other gifts 550 

All bear the royal stamp that speaks them His, 
And are august, but this transcends them all. 
His other works, the visible display 
Of all-creating energy and might, 
Are grand, no doubt, and worthy of the Word 
That, finding an interminable space 
Unoccupied, has filled the void so well, 
And made so sparkling what was dark before. 
But these are not his glory. Man, 'tis true, 
Smit with the beauty of so fair a scene, 560 

Might well suppose the artificer divine 
Meant it eternal, had He not Himself 
Pronounced it transient, glorious as it is, 
And still designing a more glorious far, 
Doomed it as insufficient for His praise. 
These therefore are occasional, and pass ; 
Formed for the confutation of the fool, 
Whose lying heart disputes against a God ; 
That office served, they must be swept away 
Not so the labours of His love : they shine 570 

In other heavens than these that we behold, 
And fade not. There is paradise that fears 
No forfeiture, and of its fruits lie sends 
Large prelibation oft to saints below. 
Of these the first in order, and the pledge 
And confident assurance of the rest, 
Is liberty ; a flight into His arms, 
Ere yet mortality's fine threads give way, 
A clear escape from tyrannizing lust, 
And full immunity from penal woe. 580 



THE WINTER MORNING WALK. 

Chains are the portion of revolted man, 
Stripes, and a dungeon ; and his body serves 
The triple purpose. In that sickly, foul, 
Opprobrious residence he finds them all. 
Propense his heart to idols, he is held 
In silly dotage on created things, 
Careless of their Creator. And that low 
And sordid gravitation of his powers 
To a vile clod so draws him, with such force 
Resistless, from the centre he should seek, 590 

That he at last forgets it. All his hopes 
Tend downwards ; his ambition is to sink, 
To reach a depth profounder still, and still 
Profounder, in the fathomless abyss 
Of folly, plunging in pursuit of death. 
But ere he gain the comfortless repose 
He seeks, and acquiescence of his soul 
In heaven-renouncing exile, he endures — 
What does he not ? from lusts opposed in vain, 
And self-reproaching conscience. He foresees 600 

The fatal issue to his health, fame, peace, 
Fortune and dignity ; the loss of all 
That can ennoble man, and make frail life, 
Short as it is, supportable. Still worse, 
Far worse than all the plagues with which his sins 
Infect his happiest moments, he forebodes 
Ages of hopeless misery ; future death, 
And death still future : not an hasty stroke 
Like that which sends him to the dusty grave, 
But unrepealable enduring death. 610 

Scripture is still a trumpet to his fears : 
What none can prove a forgery, may be true ; 
W r hat none but bad men wish exploded, must. 
That scruple checks him. Riot is not loud 
Nor drunk enough to drown it. In the midst 
Of laughter his compunctions are sincere, 
And he abhors the jest by which he shines. 
Remorse begets reform. His master-lust 
Falls first before his resolute rebuke, 

And seems dethroned and vanquished. Peace ensues, 620 
But spurious and short-lived, the puny child 
Of self-congratulating Pride, begot 
On fancied Innocence. Again he falls, 
And fights again ; but finds his best essay 
A presage ominous, portending still 
Its own dishonour by a worse relapse, 
Till Nature, unavailing Nature, foiled 
So oft, and wearied in the vain attempt, 
Scoffs at her own performance. Reason now 
Takes part with Appetite, and pleads the cause 650 

Perversely, which of late she so condemned ; 
With shallow shifts and old devices, worn 
s 2 



259 



2 6o THE TASK. 

And tattered in the service of debauch, 
Covering his shame from his offended sight. 

" Hath God indeed given appetites to man, 
And stored the earth so plenteously with means 
To gratify the hunger of his wish, 
And doth He reprobate, and will He damn, 
The use of His own bounty? making first 
So frail a kind, and then enacting laws 640 

So strict, that less than perfect must despair ? 
Falsehood ! which whoso but suspects of truth 
Dishonours God, and makes a slave of man. 
Do they themselves, who undertake for hire 
The teacher's office, and dispense at large 
Their weekly dole of edifying strains, 
Attend to their own music ? Have they faith 
In what, with such solemnity of tone 
And gesture, they propound to our belief ? 
Nay, — conduct hath the loudest tongue. The voice 650 

Is but an instrument on which the priest 
May play what tune he pleases. In the deed, 
The unequivocal authentic deed, 
We find sound argument, we read the heart." 

Such reasonings (if that name must needs belong 
To excuses in which reason has no part) 
Serve to compose a spirit well inclined 
To live on terms of amity with vice, 
And sin without disturbance. Often urged, 
(As often as, libidinous discourse 660 

Exhausted, he resorts to solemn themes 
Of theological and grave import,) 
They gain at last his unreserved assent ; 
Till hardened his heart's temper in the forge 
Of lust, and on the anvil of despair, 
He slights the strokes of conscience. Nothing moves, 
Or nothing much, his constancy in ill ; 
Vain tampering has but fostered his disease ; 
'Tis desperate, and he sleeps the sleep of death. 
Haste now, philosopher, and set him free. 670 

Charm the deaf serpent wisely. Make him hear 
Of rectitude and fitness ; moral truth 
How lovely, and the moral sense how sure, 
Consulted and obeyed, to guide his steps 
Directly to the first and only fair. 
Spare not in such a cause. Spend all the powers 
Of rant and rhapsody in virtue's praise ; 
Be most sublimely good, verbosely grand, 
And with poetic trappings grace thy prose, 
Till it outmantle all the pride of verse. — 680 

Ah, tinkling cymbal and high-sounding brass, 
Smitten in vain ! such music cannot charm 
The eclipse that intercepts troth's heavenly beam, 
And chills and darkens a wide wandering soul. 



THE WINTER MORNING WALK. 2 6i 

The still small voice is wanted. He must speak, 
Whose word leaps forth at once to its effect, 
Who calls for things that are not, and they come. 

Grace makes the slave a freeman. 'Tis a change 
That turns to ridicule the turgid speech 

And stately tone of moralists, who boast, 690 

As if, like him of fabulous renown, 
They had indeed ability to smooth 
The shag of savage nature, and were each 
An Orpheus, and omnipotent in song. 
But transformation of apostate man 
From fool to wise, from earthly to divine, 
Is work for Him that made him. He alone, 
And He by means in philosophic eyes 
Trivial and worthy of disdain, achieves 

The wonder ; humanizing what is brute 700 

In the lost kind, extracting from the lips 
Of asps their venom, overpowering strength 
By weakness, and hostility by love. 

Patriots have toiled, and in their country's cause 
Bled nobly ; and their deeds, as they deserve, 
Receive proud recompense. We give in charge 
Their names to the sweet lyre. The historic Muse, 
Proud of the treasure, marches with it down 
To latest times; and Sculpture, in her turn, 
Gives bond in stone and ever-during brass 710 

To guard them, and to immortalize her trust. 
But fairer wreaths are due, though never paid, 
To those who, posted at the shrine of truth, 
Have fallen in her defence. A patriot's blood, 
Well spent in such a strife, may earn indeed, 
And for a time ensure to his loved land, 
The sweets of liberty and equal laws ; 
But martyrs struggle for a brighter prize, 
And win it with more pain. Their blood is shed 
In confirmation of the noblest claim. 720 

Our claim to feed upon immortal truth, 
To walk with God, to be divinely free, 
To soar, and to anticipate the skies. 
Vet few remember them. They lived unknown 
Till Persecution dragged them into fame, 
And chased them up to heaven. Their ashes flew — 
No marble tells us whither. With their names 
No bard embalms and sanctifies his song; 
And history, so warm on meaner themes, 
Is cold on this. She execrates indeed 730 

The tyranny that doomed them to the fire, 
But gives the glorious sufferers little praise.* 

He is the freeman whom the truth makes free, 
And all are slaves beside. There's not a chain 

;^c Hume. 



2 6 2 THE TASK. 

That hellish foes confederate for his harm 

Can wind around him, but he casts it off 

With as much ease as Samson his green withes. 

He looks abroad into the varied field 

Of nature, and though poor perhaps compared 

With those whose mansions glitter in his sight, 740 

Calls the delightful scenery all his own. 

His are the mountains, and the valleys his, 

And the resplendent rivers. His to enjoy 

With a propriety that none can feel, 

But who, with filial confidence inspired, 

Can lift to heaven an unpresumptuous eye, 

And smiling say — "My Father made them all!" 

Are they not his by a peculiar right, 

And by an emphasis of interest his, 

Whose eye they fill with tears of holy joy, 75° 

Whose heart with praise, and whose exalted mind 

With worthy thoughts of that unwearied love 

That planned, and built, and still upholds a world 

So clothed with beauty, for rebellious man? 

Yes — ye may fill your garners, ye that reap 

The loaded soil, and ye may waste much good 

In senseless riot ; but ye will not find 

In feast or in the chase, in song or dance, 

A liberty like his, who unimpeached 

Of usurpation, and to no man's wrong, 760 

Appropriates nature as his Father's work, 

And has a richer use of yours than you. 

He is indeed a freeman. Free by birth 

Of no mean city, planned or ere the hills 

Were built, the fountains opened, or the sea 

With all his roaring multitude of waves. 

His freedom is the same in every State, 

And no condition of this changeful life, 

So manifold in cares, whose every day 

Brings its own evil with it, makes it less: 770 

For he has wings that neither sickness, pain, 

Nor penury, can cripple or confine. 

No nook so narrow but he spreads them there 

With ease, and is at large . The oppressor holds 

His body bound, but knows not what a range 

His spirit takes, unconscious of a chain, 

And that to bind him is a vain attempt 

Whom God delights in, and in whom He dwells. 

Acquaint thyself with God, if thou wouldst taste 
His works. Admitted once to His embrace, 780 

Thou shalt perceive that thou wast blind before; 
Thine eye shall be instructed, and thine heart, 
Made pure, shall relish with divine delight, 
Till then unfelt, what hands divine have wrought. 
Brutes graze the mountain-top with faces prone 
And eyes intent upon the scanty herb 



THE WINTER MORNING WALK: 2 6j 



It yields them ; or, recumbent on its brow, 

Ruminate heedless of the scene outspread 

Beneath, beyond] and stretching far away 

From inland regions to the distant main. 790 

Man views it and admires, but rests content 

Willi what he views. The landscape has his praise, 

But not its Author. Unconcerned who formed 

The paradise he sees, he finds it such ; 

And such well-pleased to find it, asks no more. 

Not so the mind that has been touched from Heaven. 

And in the school of sacred wisdom taught 

To read His wonders, in whose thought the world, 

Fair as it is, existed ere it was. 

Not for its own sake merely, but for His 800 

Much more who fashioned it, he gives it praise ; 

Praise that from earth resulting, as it ought, 

To earth's acknowledged Sovereign, finds at once 

Its only just proprietor in Him. 

The soul that sees Him, or receives sublimed 

New faculties, or learns at least to employ 

More worthily the powers she owned before, 

Discerns in all things what, with stupid gaze 

Of ignorance, till then she overlooked, 

A ray of heavenly light gilding all forms Sio 

Terrestrial, in the vast and the minute, 

The unambiguous footsteps of the God 

Who gives its lustre to an insect's wing, 

And wheels His throne upon the rolling worlds. 

Much conversant with Heaven, she often holds 

With those fair ministers of light to man 

That fill the skies nightly with silent pomp, 

Sweet conference; enquires what strains were they 

With which heaven rang, when every star, in haste 

To gratulate the new-created earth, 820 

Sent forth a voice, and all the sons of God 

Shouted for joy. — "Tell me, ye shining hosts 

That navigate a sea that knows no storms, 

Beneath a vault unsullied with a cloud, 

If from your elevation, whence ye view 

Distinctly scenes invisible to man, 

And systems of whose birth no tidings yet 

Have reached this nether world, ye spy a race 

Favoured as ours, transgressors from the womb, 

And hasting to a grave, yet doomed to rise, 830 

And to possess a brighter heaven than yours ? 

As one who long detained on foreign shores 

Pants to return, and when he sees afar 

His country's weather-bleached and battered rocks 

From the green wave emerging, darts an eye 

Radiant with joy towards the happy land, 

So I with animated hopes behold, 

And many an aching wish, your beamy fires, 



26 4 THE TASK. 

That show like beacons in the blue abyss, 

Ordained to guide the embodied spirit home, 840 

From toilsome life to never-ending rest. 

Love kindles as I gaze. I feel desires 

That give assurance of their own success, 

And that, infused from Heaven, must thither tend." 

So reads he nature whom the lamp of truth 
Illuminates. Thy lamp, mysterious Word ! 
Which whoso sees, no longer wanders lost, 
With intellects bemazed in endless doubt, 
But runs the road of wisdom. Thou hast built, 
With means that were not till by thee employed, 850 

Worlds that had never been haclst Thou in strength 
Been less, or less benevolent than strong. 
They are thy witnesses, who speak thy power 
And goodness infinite, but speak in ears 
That hear not or receive not their report. 
In vain thy creatures testify of thee 
Till Thou proclaim thyself. Theirs is indeed 
A teaching voice ; but 'tis the praise of thine 
That whom it teaches it makes prompt to learn, 
And with the boon gives talents for its use. 860 

Till Thou art heard, imaginations vain 
Possess the heart, and fables false as hell, 
Yet deemed oracular, lure down to death 
The uninformed and heedless souls of men. 
We give to Chance, blind Chance, ourselves as blind, 
The glory of thy work, which yet appears 
Perfect and unimpeachable of blame, 
Challenging human scrutiny, and proved 
Then skilful most when most severely judged. 
But Chance is not ; or is not where Thou reignest : 870 

Thy Providence forbids that fickle power 
(If power she be that works but to confound) 
To mix the wild vagaries with thy laws. 
Yet thus we dote, refusing, while we can 
Instruction, and inventing to ourselves 
Gods such as guilt makes welcome ; gods that sleep, 
Or disregard our follies, or that sit 
Amused spectators of this bustling stage. 
Thee we reject, unable to abide 

Thy purity, till pure as Thou art pure, 880 

Made such by thee, we love thee for that cause 
For which we shunned and hated thee before. 
Then we are free : then liberty like day 
Breaks on the soul, and by a flash from heaven 
Fires all the faculties with glorious joy. 
A voice is heard that mortal ears hear not 
Till Thou hast touched them ; 'tis the voice of song, 
A loud Hosanna sent from all thy works, 
Which he that hears it with a shout repeats, 
And adds his rapture to the general praise. S90 



THE WINTER WALK AT NOON. 265 

In that blest moment, Nature throwing wide 

Her veil opaque, discloses with a smile 

The Author of her beauties, who, retired 

Behind his own creation, works unseen 

By the impure, and hears his power denied. 

Thou art the source and centre of all minds, 

Their only point of rest, Eternal Word ! 

From thee departing, they are lost and rove 

At random without honour, hope, or peace. 

From thee is all that soothes the life of man, 900 

His high endeavour, and his glad success, 

His strength to suffer, and his will to serve. 

But oh, Thou bounteous Giver of all good ! 

Thou art of all thy gifts thyself the crown ! 

Give what Thou canst, without Thee we are poor; 

And with Thee rich, take what Thou wilt away. 



BOOK VI. 
THE WINTER WALK AT NOON. 

Argiment — Bells at a distance — Their effect — A fine noon >n winter — A sheltered walk — 
Meditation better than books — Our familiarity with the course of nature makes it appear less 
wonderful than it is — The transformation that spring effects in a shrubbery described — A 
mistake concerning the course of nature corrected — God maintains it by an unremitted act — 
The amusements fashionable at this hour of the day reproved — Animals happy, a delightful 
sight — Origin of cruelty to animals — That it is a great crime proved from Scripture — That 
proof illustrated by a tale — A line drawn between the lawful and unlawful destruction of them 
— Their good and useful properties insisted on — Apology for the encomiums bestowed by the 
author upon animals — Instances of man's extravagant praise of man — The groans of the 
creation shall have an end — View taken of the restoration of all things — An invocation and 
an invitation of Him who shall bring it to pass — The retired man vindicated from the charge 
of uselessness — Conclusion. 

There is in souls a sympathy with sounds, 

And as the mind is pitched the ear is pleased 

With melting airs or martial, brisk or grave : 

Some chord in unison with what we hear 

Is touched within us, and the heart replies. 

How soft the music of those village bells 

Falling at intervals upon the ear 

In cadence sweet ! now dying all away, 

Now pealing loud again, and louder still, 

Clear and sonorous, as the gale comes on. 10 

With easy force it opens all the cells 

Where memory slept. Wherever I have heard 

A kindred melody, the scene recurs, 

And with it all its pleasures and its pains. 



266 THE TASK. 



Such comprehensive views the spirit takes, 

That in a few short moments I retrace 

(As in a map the voyager his course) 

The windings of my way through many years. 

Short as in retrospect the journey seems, 

It seemed not always short ; the rugged path, 20 

And prospect oft so dreaiy and forlorn, 

Moved many a sigh at its disheartening length. 

Yet feeling present evils, while the past 

Faintly impress the mind, or not at all, 

How readily we wish time spent revoked, 

That we might try the ground again, where once 

(Through inexperience as we now perceive) 

We missed that happiness we might have found ! 

Some friend is gone, perhaps his son's best friend, 

A father, whose authority, in show 50 

When most severe, and mustering all its force, 

Was but the graver countenance of love; 

Whose favour, like the clouds of spring, might lower. 

And utter now and then an awful voice, 

But had a blessing in its darkest frown, 

Threatening at once and nourishing the plant. 

We loved, but not enough, the gentle hand 
That reared us. At a thoughtless age allured 
By every gilded folly, we renounced 

His sheltering side, and wilfully forewent 40 

That converse which we now in vain'regret. 

How gladly would the man recall to life 

The boy's neglected sire ! a mother too, 

That softer friend, perhaps more gladly still, 

Might he demand them at the gates of death. 

Sorrow has, since they went, subdued and tamed 

The playful humour ; he could now endure 

(Himself grown sober in the vale of tears) 

And feel a parent's presence no restraint. 

But not to understand a treasure's worth 50 

Till time has stolen away the slighted good, 

Is cause of half the poverty we feel, 

And makes the world the wilderness it is. 

The few that pray at all pray oft ami>s, 

And, seeking grace to improve the prize they hold, 

Would urge a wiser suit than asking more. 

The night was winter in his roughest mood, 
The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon, 
Upon the southern side of the slant hills, 
And where the woods fence off the northern blast, 60 

The season smiles, resigning alLits rage, 
And has the warmth of May. 'The vault is blue 
Without a cloud, and white without a speck 
The dazzling splendour of the scene below. 
Again the harmony comes o'er the vale, 
And through the trees I view the embattled tower 



THE WINTER II '. ILK A T NOON. 267 



Whence all the music. I again perceive 
The southing influence of the waited strains, 
And settle in soft musings as I tread 

The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms, 70 

Whose outspread branches overarch the glade. 
The roof, though moveable through all its length 
As the wind sways it, has yet well sufficed, 
And intercepting in their silent fall 
The frequent flakes, has kept a path for me. 
No noise is here, or none that hinders thought. 
The redbreast warbles still, but is content 
With slender notes, and more than half suppressed : 
Pleased with his solitude, and flitting light 
From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes 80 

From many a twig the pendent drops of ice, 
That tinkle in the withered leaves below. 
Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft, 
Charms more than silence. _J Meditation here 
May think down hours to moments. Here the heart 
May give a useful lesson to the head, 
And learning wiser grow without his books. 
Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one, 
Have ofttimes no connexion. Knowledge dwells 
In heads replete with thoughts of other men, 90 

Wisdom in minds attentive to their own. 
Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass, 
The mere materials with which wisdom builds, 
Till smoothed and squared and fitted to its place, 
Does but encumber whom it seems to enrich. 
Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much ; 
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more. 
Books are not seldom talismans and spells, 
By which the magic art of shrewder wits 
Holds an unthinking multitude enthralled. 100 

Some to the fascination of a" name 
Surrender judgment hoodwinked. Some the style 
Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds 
Of error leads them, by a tune entranced. 
While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear 
The insupportable fatigue of thought, 
And swallowing therefore, without pause or choice, 
The total grist unsifted, husks and all. 
But trees, and rivulets whose rapid course 
Defies the check of winter, haunts of deer, no 

And sheepwalks populous with bleating lambs, 
And lanes in which the primrose ere her time 
Peeps through the moss that clothes the hawthorn root, 
Deceive no student. Wisdom there, and Truth, 
Not shy as in the world, and to be won 
By slow solicitation, seize at once 
The roving thought, and fix it on themselves. 
What prodigies can power divine perform 



268 THE TASK. 



More grand than it produces year by year, 

And all in sight of inattentive man? 1 20 

Familiar with the effect we slight the cause, 

And in the constancy of nature's course, 

The regular return of genial months, 

And renovation of a faded world, 

See nought to wonder at. Should God again, 

As once in Gibeon, interrupt the race 

Of the undeviating and punctual sun, 

How would the world admire ! But speaks it less 

An agency divine, to make him know 

His moment when to sink and when to rise, 1 ^ 

Age after age, than to arrest his course ? 

All we behold is miracle, but seen 

So duly, all is miracle in vain. 

Where now the vital energy that moved, 

While summer was, the pure and subtle lymph 

Through the imperceptible meandering veins 

Of leaf and flower ? It sleeps : and the icy touch 

Of unprolific winter has impressed 

A cold stagnation on the intestine tide. 

But let the months go round, a few short months, 140 

And all shall be restored. These naked shoots, 

Barren as lances, among which the wind 

Makes wintry music, sighing as it goes, 

Shall put their graceful foliage on again, 

And more aspiring, and with ampler spread, 

Shall boast new charms, and more than they have lost. 
Then each, in its peculiar honours clad, 

Shall publish, even to the distant eye, 

Its family and tribe. Laburnum rich 

In streaming gold; Syringa ivory pure ; 150 

The scentless and the scented Rose, this red 

And of an humbler growth, the other tall,* 

And throwing up into the darkest gloom 

Of neighbouring Cypress, or more sable Yew, 

Her silver globes, light as the foamy surf 

That the wind severs from the broken wave ; 

The Lilac various in array, now white, 

Now sanguine, and her beauteous head now set 

With purple spikes pyramidal, as if 

Studious of ornament, yet unresolved 160 

Which hue she most approved, she chose them all ; 

Copious of flowers the Woodbine, pale and wan, 

But well compensating her sickly looks 

With never cloying odours, early and late; 

Hypericum all bloom, so thick a swarm 

Of flowers like (lies clothing her slender rods 

That scarce a leaf appears ; Mezereon too, 

Though leafless, well attired, and thick beset 

' The Guelder Rose. 



THE WINTER WALK AT NOON. 269 



With blushing wreaths investing every spray ; 

Althaea with the purple eye ; the Broom, 170 

Yellow ami bright as bullion unalloyed 

Her blossoms ; and luxuriant above all 

The Jasmine, throwing wide her elegant sweets, 

The deep dark green of whose unvarnished leaf 

Makes more conspicuous and illumines more 

The bright profusion of her scattered stars.— \ 

These have been, and these shall be in their day ; 

And all this uniform uncoloured scene 

Shall be dismantled of its fleecy load, 

And flush into variety again. 1S0 

From dearth to plenty, and from death to life, 

Is Nature's progress when she lectures man 

In heavenly truth ; evincing, as she makes 

The grand transition, that there lives and works . 

A soul in all things, and that soul is God. 

The beauties of the wilderness are His, 

That make so gay the solitary place 

Where no eye sees them. And the fairer forms, 

That cultivation glories in, are His. 

He sets the bright procession on its way, 190 

And marshals all the order of the year ; 

He marks the bounds which winter may not pass, 

And blunts his pointed fury ; in its case, 

Russet and rude, folds up the tender germ 

Uninjured, with inimitable art ; 

And, ere one flowery season fades and dies, 

Designs the blooming wonders of the next. 

Some say that in the origin of things 2 
When all creation started into birth, 

The infant elements received a law 200 

From which they swerve not since. That under force 
Of that controlling ordinance they 7 move, 
And need not His immediate hand who first 
Prescribed their course, to regulate it now. 
Thus dream they, and contrive to save a God 
The encumbrance of His own concerns, and spare 
The great Artificer of all that moves 
The stress of a continual act, the pain 
Of unremitted vigilance and care, 

As too laborious and severe a task. 210 

So man, the moth, is not afraid, it seems. 
To span Omnipotence, and measure might 
That knows no measure \>\ the scanty rule 
And standard of his own, that is to-day, 
And is not ere to-morrow's sun go down. 
But how should matter occupy a charge, 
Dull as it is, and satisfy a law 
So vast in its demands, unless impelled 
To ceaseless service by a ceaseless force, 
And under pressure of some conscious cause ? 220 



270 THE TASK. 



The Lord of all, Himself through all diffused, 

Sustains and is the life of all that lives. 

Nature is but a name for an effect 

Whose cause is God. He feeds the secret fire 

By which the mighty process is maintained, 

Who sleeps not, is not weary ; in whose sight 

Slow-circling ages are as transient days ; 

Whose work is without labour ; whose designs 

No flaw deforms, no difficulty thwarts ; 

And whose beneficence no charge exhausts. 230 

Him blind antiquity profaned, not served, 

With self-taught rites, and under various names, 

Female and male, Pomona, Pales, Pan, 

And Flora and Vertumnus ; peopling earth 

With tutelary goddesses and gods 

That were not ; and commending as they would 

To each some province, garden, field or grove. 

But all are under One. One spirit — His 

Who wore the plaited thorns with bleeding brows — 

Rules universal nature. Not a flower 240 

But shows some touch in freckle, streak or stain, 

Of His unrivalled pencil. Pie inspires 

Their balmy odours and imparts their hues, ~ 

And bathes their eyes with nectar, and includes, 

In grains as countless as the seaside sands, 

The forms with which He sprinkles all the earth. 

Happy who walks with Him ! whom what he finds 

Of flavour or of scent in fruit or flower, 

Or what he views of beautiful or grand 

In nature, from the broad majestic oak 250 

To the green blade that twinkles in the sun, 

Prompts with remembrance of a present God. 

His presence, who made all so fair, perceived, 

Makes all still fairer. As with him no scene 

Is dreary, so with him all seasons please. 

Though winter had been none, had man been true, 

And earth be punished for its tenant's sake, 

Yet not in vengeance ; as this smiling sky, 

So soon succeeding such an angry night, 

And these dissolving snows, and this clear stream 260 

Recovering fast its liquid music, prove. 

Who then that has a mind well strung and tuned 
To contemplation, and within his reach 
A scene so friendly to his favourite task, 
Would waste attention at the chequered board, 
His host of wooden warriors to and fro 
Marching and countermarching, with an eye 
As fixed as marble, with a forehead ridged 
And furrowed into storms, and with a hand 
Trembling, as if eternity were hung 270 

In balance on his conduct of a pin? 
Nor envies he aught more their idle sport 



THE WINTER WALK AT NOON. 271 

Who pant with application misapplied 

To trivial toys, and, pushing ivory balls 

Across a velvet level, feel a joy 

Akin to rapture, when the bauble finds 
I - destined goal of difficult access. 

Nor deems he wiser him who gives his noon 

To miss, the mercer's plague, from shop to shop 

Wandering, and littering with unfolded silks 280 

The polished counter, and approving none, 

Or promising with smiles to call again. 

Nor him who, by his vanity seduced, 

And soothed into a dream that he discerns 

The difference of a Guido from a daub, 

Frequents the crowded auction. Stationed there 

As duly as the Langford of the show, 

With glass at eye, and catalogue in hand, 

And tongue accomplished in the fulsome cant 

And pedantry that coxcombs learn with ease, 290 

Olt as the price-deciding hammer falls, 

He notes it in his book, then raps his box, 

Swears 'tis a bargain, rails at his hard fate 

That he has let it pass — but never bids. 
Here unmolested, through whatever sign 

The sun proceeds, I wander ; neither mist, 

Nor freezing sky nor sultry, checking me, 

Nor stranger intermeddling with my joy. 

Even in the spring and playtime of the year, 

That calls the unwonted villager abroad 300 

With all her little ones, a sportive train, 

To gather kingcups in the yellow mead, 

And prink their hair with daisies, or to pick 

A cheap but wholesome salad from the brook, 

These shades are all my own. The timorous hare, 

Grown so familiar with her frequent guest, 

Scarce shuns me ; and the stockdove unalarmed 

Sits cooing in the pine-tree, nor suspends 

His long love-ditty for my near approach. 

Drawn from his refuge in some lonely elm 310 

That age or injury has hollowed deep, 

Where on his bed of wool and matted leaves 

He has outslept the winter, ventures forth 

/To frisk awhile, and bask in the warm sun, 
/The squirrel, flippant, pert, and full of play. 

He sees me, and at once, swift as a bird, 

Ascends the neighbouring beech ; there whisks his brush, 

And perks his ears, and stamps and scolds aloud, 

W T ith all the prettiness of feigned alarm, 
yAnd anger insignificantly fierce. 320 

The heart is hard in nature, and unfit 

For human fellowship, as being void 

Of sympathy, and therefore dead alike 

To love and friendship both, that is not pleased 



272 THE TASK. 

With sight of animals enjoying life, 

Nor feels their happiness augment his own. 

The bounding fawn that darts across the glade 

When none pursues, through mere delight of heart, 

And spirits buoyant with excess of glee ; 

The horse, as wanton and almost as fleet, ' 330 

That skims the spacious meadow at full speed, 

Then stops and snorts, and throwing high his heels, 

Starts to the voluntary race again ; 

The very kine that gambol at high noon, 

The total herd receiving first from one 

That leads the dance a summons to be gay, 

Though wild their strange vagaries, and uncouth 

Their efforts, yet resolved with one consent 

To give such act and utterance as they may 

To ecstasy too big to be suppressed ; — 340 

These, and a thousand images of bliss, 

With which kind Nature graces every scene 

Where cruel man defeats not her design, 

Impart to the benevolent, who wish 

All that are capable of pleasure pleased, 

A far superior happiness to theirs, 

The comfort of a reasonable joy. 

Man scarce had risen, obedient to His call 
Who formed him from the dust, his future grave, 
When he was crowned as never king was since. 350 

God set the diadem upon his head, 
And angel choirs attended. Wondering stood 
The new-made monarch, while before him passed, 
All happy, and all perfect in their kind, 
The creatures, summoned from their various haunts 
To see their sovereign, and confess his sway. 
Vast was his empire, absolute his power, 
Or bounded only by a law whose force 
'Twas his sublimest privilege to feel 

And own, the law of universal love. 360 

He ruled with meekness, they obeyed with joy; 
No cruel purpose lurked within his heart, 
And no distrust of his intent in theirs. 
So Eden was a scene of harmless sport, 
Where kindness on his part who ruled the whole 
Begat a tranquil confidence in all, 
And fear as yet was not, nor cause for fear. 
But sin marred all ; and the revolt of man, 
That source of evils not exhausted yet, 

Was punished with revolt of his from him. 370 

Garden of God, how terrible the change 
Thy groves and lawns then witnessed ! Every heart, 
Each animal of every name, conceived 
A jealousy and an instinctive fear, 
And, conscious of some danger, either fled 
Precipitate the loathed abode of man. 



THE WINTER WALK AT NOON. 273 



Or growled defiance in such angry sort, 

As taught him too to tremble in his turn. 

Thus harmony and family accord 

Were driven from Paradise ; and in that hour 380 

The seeds of cruelty, that since have swelled 

To such gigantic and enormous growth, 

Were sown in human nature's fruitful soil. 

Hence date the persecution and the pain 

That man inflicts on all inferior kinds, 

Regardless of their plaints. To make him sport, 

To gratify the frenzy of his wrath, 

Or his base gluttony, are causes good 

And just in his account, why bird and beast 

Should suffer torture, and the streams be dyed 390 

With blood of their inhabitants impaled. 

Earth groans beneath the burden of a war 

Waged with defenceless innocence, while he, 

Not satisfied to prey on all around, 

Adds tenfold bitterness to death by pangs 

Needless, and first torm ents ere he devours. 

Now happiest they that occupy the scenes 

The most remote from his abhorred resort, 

Whom once, as delegate of God on earth, 

They feared, and as His perfect image loved. 400 

The wilderness is theirs, with all its caves, 

Its hollow glens, its thickets, and its plains 

Unvisited by man. There they are free, 

And howl and roar as likes them, uncontrolled, 

Nor ask his leave to slumber or to play. 

Woe to the tyrant, if he dare intrude 

Within the confines of their wild domain : 

The lion tells him, " I am. monarch here ! " 

And if he spare him, spares him on the terms 

Of royal mercy, and through generous scorn 410 

To" rend a victim trembling at his foot. 

In measure, as by force of instinct drawn, 

Or by necessity constrained, they live 

Dependent upon man, those in his fields, 

These at his crib, and some beneath his roof. 

They prove too often at how dear a rate 

He sells protection. Witness, at his foot, 

The spaniel dying for some venial fault, 

Under dissection of the knotted scourge ; 

Witness, the patient ox, with stripes and yells 420 

Driven to the slaughter, goaded, as he runs, 

To madness, while the savage at his heels 

Laughs at the frantic sufferer's fury spent 

Upon the guiltless passenger o'erthrown. 

He too is witness, noblest of the train 

That wait on man, the flight-performing horse : 

With unsuspecting readiness he lakes 

His murderer on his back, and pushed all day, 



274 THE TASK. 



With bleeding sides and flanks that heave for life, 

To the far-distant goal, arrives and dies. 430 

So little mercy shows who needs so much ! 

Does law, so jealous in the cause of man, 

Denounce no doom on the delinquent? None. 

He lives, and o'er his brimming beaker boasts 

(As if barbarity were high desert) 

The inglorious feat, and clamorous in praise 

Of the poor brute, seems wisely to suppose 

The honours of his matchless horse his own. 

But many a crime deemed innocent on earth 

Is registered in heaven ; and these, no doubt, 440 

Have each their record, with a curse annexed. 

Man may dismiss compassion from his heart, 

But God will never. When He charged the Jew 

To assist his foe's down -fallen beast to rise ; 

And when the bush-exploring boy that seized 

The young, to let the parent bird go free ; 

Proved He not plainly that His meaner works 

Are yet His care, and have an interest all, 

All, in the universal Father's love? 

On Noah, and in him on all mankind, 450 

The charter was conferred, by which we hold 

The flesh of animals in fee, and claim 

O'er all we feed on, power of life and death. 

But read the instrument, and mark it well : 

The oppression of a tyrannous control 

Can find no warrant there. Feed then, and yield 

Thanks for thy food. Carnivorous through sin, 

Feed on the slain, but spare the living brute. 

The Governor of all, Himself to all 
So bountiful, in whose attentive ear ).<>g 

The unfledged raven and the lion's whelp 
Plead not in vain for pity on the pangs 
Of hunger unassuaged, has interposed, 
Not seldom, His avenging arm, to smite 
The injurious trampler upon nature's law, 
That claims forbearance even for a brute. 
He hates the hardness of a Balaam's heart ; 
And prophet as he was, he might not strike 
The blameless animal, without rebuke, 

On which he rode. Her opportune offence 470 

Saved him, or the unrelenting seer had died. 
He sees that human equity is slack 
To interfere, though in so just a cause, 
And makes the task His own : inspiring dumb 
And helpless victims with a sense so keen 
Of injury, with such knowledge of their strength 
And such sagacity to take revenge, 
That oft the beast has seemed to judge the man. 
An ancient, not a legendary tale, 
By one of sound intelligence rehearsed, }8o 



THE WINTER WALK AT NOON. 



27 '5 



(If such who plead for Providence may seem 
In modern eyes,) shall make the doctrine clear. 

Where England, stretched towards the setting sun, 
Narrow and long, o'erlooks the western wave, 
Dwelt young Misagathus ; a sccrner he 
Of God and goodness, atheist in ostent, 
Vicious in act, in temper savage-fierce. 
He journeyed ; and his chance was as he went 
To join a traveller, of far different note, 
Evander, famed for piety, for years 490 

Deserving honour, but for wisdom more. 
Fame had not left the venerable man 
A stranger to the manners of the youth, 
Whose face too was familiar to his view. 
Their way was on the margin of the land, 
O'er the green summit of the rocks whose base 
Beats back the roaring surge, scarce heard so high. 
The charity that warmed his heart was moved 
At sight of the man-monster. With a smile 
Gentle, and affable, and full of grace, 500 

As fearful of offending whom he wished 
Much to persuade, he plied his ear with truths 
Not harshly thundered forth, or rudely pressed, 
But, like his purpose, gracious, kind, and sweet. 
"And dost thou dream," the impenetrable man 
Exclaimed, " that me the lullabies of age, 
And fantasies of dotards such as thou, 
Can cheat, or move a moment's fear in me? 
Mark now the proof I give thee, that the brave 
Need no such aids as superstition lends, 510 

To steel their hearts against the dread of death." 
He spoke, and to the precipice at hand 
Pushed with a madman's fury. Fancy shrinks, 
And the blood thrills and curdles at the thought 
Of such a gulf as he designed his grave. 
But though the felon on his back could dare 
The dreadful leap, more rational his steed 
Declined the death, and wheeling swiftly round, 
Or e'er his hoof had pressed the crumbling verge, 
Baffled his rider, saved against his will, 520 

The frenzy of the brain may be redressed 
By medicine well applied, but without grace 
The heart's insanity admits no cure. 
Enraged the more by what might have reformed 
His horrible intent, again he sought 
Destruction, with a zeal to be destroyed, 
With sounding whip, and rowels died in blood. 
But still in vain. The Providence that meant 
A longer date to the far nobler beast, 

Spared yet again the ignobler for his sake. 550 

And now, his prowess proved, and his sincere 
Incurable obduracy evinced, 



276 THE TASK. 

His rage grew cool ; and pleased perhaps to have earned 

So cheaply the renown of that attempt, 

With looks of some complacence he resumed 

His road, deriding much the blank amaze 

Of good Evander, still where he was left 

Fixed motionless, and petrified with dread. 

So on they fared ; discourse on other themes 

Ensuing, seemed to obliterate the past, 540 

And tamer far for so much fury shown, 

(As is the course of rash and fiery men,) 

The rude companion smiled, as if transformed. 

But 'twas a transient calm. A storm was near, 

An unsuspected storm. His hour was come. 

The impious challenger of power divine 

Was now to learn that Heaven, though slow to wrath, 

Is never with impunity defied. 

His horse, as he had caught his master's mood, 

Snorting, and starting into sudden rage, 550 

Unbidden, and not now to be controlled, 

Rushed to the cliff, and having reached it, stood. 

At once the shock unseated him : he flew 

Sheer o'er the craggy barrier, and immersed 

Deep in the flood, found, when he sought it not, 

The death he had deserved, and died alone. 

So God wrought double justice ; made the fool 

The victim of his own tremendous choice, 

And taught a brute the way to safe revenge. 

I would not enter on my list of friends 560 

I (Though graced with polished manners and fine sense, 

Yet wanting sensibility) the man 
I "Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm. 

An inadvertent step may crush the snail 

That crawls at evening in the public path ; 
. But he that has humanity, forewarned, 

Will tread aside, and let the reptile live. 

The creeping vermin, loathsome to the sight. 

And charged perhaps with venom, that intrudes, 

A visitor unwelcome, into scenes 570 

Sacred to neatness and repose, the alcove, 

The chamber, or refectory, may die : 

A necessary act incurs no blame. 

Not so when, held within their proper bounds, 

And guiltless of offence, they range the air, 

Or take their pastime in the spacious field : 

There they are privileged ; and he that hunts 

Or harms them there is guilty of a wrong, 

Disturbs the economy of Nature's realm, 

Who, when she formed, designed them an abode. 5S0 

The sum is this : if man's convenience, health, 

Or safety interfere, his rights and claims 

Are paramount, and must extinguish theirs. 

Else they are all — the meanest things that are — 



THE WINTER WALK AT NOON. 2y7 



As free to live, and to enjoy that life, 

As God was free to form them at the first, 

Who in His sovereign wisdom made them all. 

Ye therefore who love mercy, teach your sons 

To love it too. The spring-time of our years 

Is soon dishonoured and defiled in most 590 

By budding ills, that ask a prudent hand 

To check them. But, alas ! none sooner shoots, 

If unrestrained, into luxuriant growth, 

Than cruelty, most devilish of them all. 

Mercy to him that shows it, is the rule 

And righteous limitation of its act, 

By which Heaven moves in pardoning guilty man 

And he that shows none, being ripe in years, 

And conscious of the outrage he commits, 

Shall seek it and not find it in his turn. 600 

Distinguished much by reason, and still more 
By our capacity of grace divine, 
From creatures that exist but for our sake, 
Which, having served us, perish, we are held 
Accountable, and God, some future day, 
"Will reckon with us roundly for the abuse 
Of what He deems no mean or trivial trust 
Superior as we are, they yet depend 
Not more on human help than we on theirs. 
Their strength, or speed, or vigilance, were given 610 

In aid of our defects. In some are found 
Such teachable and apprehensive parts, 
That man's attainments in his own concerns, 
Matched with the expertness of the brutes in theirs, 
Are ofttimes vanquished and thrown far behind. 
Some show that nice sagacity of smell, 
And read with such discernment, in the port 
And figure of the man, his secret aim, 
That oft -we owe our safety to a skill 

We could not teach, and must despair to learn. 620 

But learn we might, if not too proud to stoop 
To quadruped instructors, many a good 
And useful quality, and virtue too, 
Rarely exemplified among ourselves : 
Attachment never to be weaned or changed 
By any change of fortune, proof alike 
Against unkindness, absence, and neglect ; 
Fidelity that neither bribe nor threat 
Can move or warp ; and gratitude for small 
And trivial favours, lasting as the life, 630 

And glistening even in the dying eye. 

Man praises man. Desert in arts or arms 
Wins public honour ; and ten thousand sit 
Patiently present at a sacred song, 
Commemoration-mad ; content to hear 
(O wonderful effect of music's power !) 



278 THE TASK. 

Messiah's eulogy for Handel's sake. 

But less, methinks, than sacrilege might serve — 

(For was it less ? what heathen would have dared 

To strip Jove's statue of his oaken wreath, 640 

And hang it up in honour of a man ?) 

Much less might serve, when all that we design 

Is but to gratify an itching ear, 

And give the day to a musician's praise. 

Remember Handel ? Who that was not born 

Deaf as the dead to harmony, forgets, 

Or can, the more than Homer of his age ? 

Yes — we remember him ; and while we praise 

A talent so divine, remember too 

That His most holy book from whom it came 650 

Was never meant, was never used before, 

To buckram out the memory of a man. 

But hush ! — the Muse perhaps is too severe, 

And, with a gravity beyond the size 

And measure of the offence, rebukes a deed 

Less impious than absurd, and owing more 

To want of judgment than to wrong design. 

So in the chapel of old Ely House, 

When wandering Charles, who meant to be the third, 

Had fled from William, and the news was fresh, 660 

The simple clerk, but loyal, did announce, 

And eke did rear right merrily, two staves, 

Sung to the praise and glory of King George. 

Man praises man ; and Garrick's memory next, 
When time hath somewhat mellowed it, and made 
The idol of our worship while he lived 
The god of our idolatry once more, 
Shall have its altar ; and the world shall go 
In pilgrimage to bow before his shrine. 

The theatre too small shall suffocate 670 

Its squeezed contents, and more than it admits 
Shall sigh at their exclusion, and return 
Ungratified. For there some noble lord 
Shall stuff his shoulders with King Richard's bunch, 
Or wrap himself in Hamlet's inky cloak, 
And strut, and storm, and straddle, stamp and stare, 
To show the world how Garrick did not act. 
For Garrick was a worshipper himself ; 
He drew the liturgy, and framed the rites 
And solemn ceremonial of the day, 680 

And called the world to worship on the banks 
Of Avon, famed in song. Ah, pleasant proof 
That piety has stdl in human hearts 
Some place, a spark or two not yet extinct ! 
The mulberry-tree was hung with blooming wreaths ; 
The mulberry-tree stood centre of the dance ; 
The mulberry-tree was hymned with dulcet airs ; 
And from his touchwood trunk the mnlbcrry-tree 



THE WINTER WALK AT NOON. 279 

Supplied such relics as devotion holds 

Still sacred, and preserves with pious care. 690 

So 'twas a hallowed time : decorum reigned, 

And mirth without offence. No few returned, 

Doubtless, much edified, and all refreshed. 

Man praises man. The rabble all alive 

From tippling benches, cellars, stalls, and styes, 

Swarm in the streets. The statesman of the day, 

A pompous and slow-moving pageant, comes. 

Some shout him, and some hang upon his car, 

To gaze in his eyes, and bless him. Maidens wave 

Their kerchiefs, and old women weep for joy; 700 

While others, not so satisfied, unhorse 

The gilded equipage, and turning loose 

His steeds, usurp a place they well deserve. 

Why? what has charmed them? Hath he saved the State? 

No. Doth he purpose its salvation ? No. 

Enchanting novelty, that moon at full, 

iThat finds out every crevice of the head 

That is not sound and perfect, hath in theirs 

Wrought this disturbance. But the wane is near, 

And his own cattle must suffice him soon. 71Q 

Thus idly do we waste the breath of praise, 

And dedicate a tribute, in its use 

And just direction sacred, to a thing 

Doomed to the dust, or lodged already there. 

Encomium in old time was poet's work ; 

But poets having lavishly long since 

Exhausted all materials of the art, 

The task now falls into the public hand ; 

And I, contented with an humble theme, 

Have poured my stream of panegyric down 720 

The vale of nature, where it creeps and winds 

Among her lovely works with a secure 

And unambitious course, reflecting clear, 

If not the virtues, yet the worth, of brutes. 

And I am recompensed, and deem the toils 

Of poetry not lost, if verse of mine 

May stand between an animal and woe, 

And teach one tyrant pity for his drudge. — 

The groans of nature in this nether world, 
Which Heaven has heard for ages, have an end. 730 

Foretold by propnets, and by poets sung, 
Whose fire was kindled at the prophet's lamp, 
The time of rest, the promised Sabbath, comes. 
Six thousand years of sorrow have well nigh 
Fulfilled their tardy and disastrous course 
Over a sinful world ; and what remains 
Of this tempestuous state of human things 
Is merely as the working of a sea 
Before a calm, that rocks itself to rest : 
For He, whose car the winds are, and the clouds 740 



280 THE TASK. 

The dust that waits upon His sultry march, 
When sin hath moved Him, and His wrath is hot, 
Shall visit earth in mercy ; shall descend 
Propitious in His chariot paved with love ; 
And what His storms have blasted and defaced 
For man's revolt, shall with a smile repair. 

Sweet is the harp of prophecy ; too sweet 
Not. to be wronged by a mere mortal touch ; 
Nor can the wonders it records be sung 

To meaner music, and not suffer loss. 750 

But when a poet, or when one like me, 
Happy to rove among poetic flowers, 
Though poor in skill to rear them, lights at last 
On some fair theme, some theme divinely fair, 
Such is the impulse and the spur he feels 
To give it praise proportioned to its worth, 
That not to attempt it, arduous as he deems 
The labour, were a task more arduous still. 1/ 

O scenes surpassing fable, and yet true, 
Scenes of accomplished bliss ! which who can see, 760 

Though but in distant prospect, and not feel 
His soul refreshed with foretaste of the joy? 
Rivers of gladness water all the earth, 
And clothe all climes with beauty. The reproach 
Of barrenness is past. The fruitful field 
Laughs with abundance ; and the land once lean, 
Or fertile only in its own disgrace, 
Exults to see its thistly curse repealed. 
The various seasons woven into one, 

And that one season an eternal spring, 770 

The garden fears no blight, and needs no fence, 
For there is none to covet, all are full. 
The lion, and the libbard, and the bear 
Graze with the fearless flocks ; all bask at noon 
Together, or all gambol in the shade 
Of the same grove, and drink one common stream. 
Antipathies are none. No foe to man 
Lurks in the serpent now : the mother sees, 
And smiles to see, her infant's playful hand 
Stretched forth to dally with the crested worm, 780 

To stroke his azure neck, or to receive 
The lambent homage of his arrowy tongue. 
All creatures worship man, and all mankind 
One Lord, one Father. Error has no place : 
That creeping pestilence is driven away : 
The breath of heaven has chased it. In the heart 
No passion touches a discordant string, 
But all is harmony and love. Disease 
Is not : the pure and uncontaminate blood 
Holds its due course, nor fears the frost of age. 790 

One song employs all nations, and all cry, 
" Worthy the Lamb, for He was slain for us ! ,r 



THE WINTER WALK AT NOON. 281 

The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks 

Shout to each other, and the mountain-tops 

From distant mountains catch the Hying joy, 

Till, nation after nation taught the strain, 

Earth rolls the rapturous Hosanna round. 

Behold the measure of the promise filled ; 

See Salem built, the labour of a God ! 

Bright as a sun the sacred city shines ; 800 

All kingdoms and all princes of the earth 

Flock to that light ; the glory of all lands 

Flows into her ; unbounded is her joy, 

And endless her increase. Thy ranis are there, 

Nebaioth, and the flocks of Kedar there ; * 

The looms of Ormus, and the mines of Ind, 

And Saba's spicy groves, pay tribute there. 

Praise is in all her gates ; upon her walls, 

And in her streets, and in her spacious courts, 

Is heard salvation. Eastern Java there 810 

Kneels with the native of the farthest West, 

And /Ethiopia spreads abroad the hand, 

And worships. Her report has travelled forth 

Into all lands. From every clime they come 

To see thy beauty, and to share thy joy, 

O Sion ! an assembly such as earth 

Saw never, such as Heaven stoops down to see. 

Thus heavenward all things tend. For all were once 
Perfect, and all must be at- length restored. 
So God has greatly purposed ; who would else 820 

In His dishonoured works Himself endure 
Dishonour, and be wronged without redress. 
Haste then, and wheel away a shattered world, 
Ye slow-revolving seasons ! we would see 
(A sight to which our eyes are strangers yet) 
A world that does not dread and hate His laws, 
And suffer for its crime ; would learn how fair 
The creature is that God pronounces good, 
How pleasant in itself what pleases Him. 
Here every drop of honey hides a sting, 830 

Worms wind themselves into our sweetest flowers, 
And even the joy that haply some poor heart 
Derives from Heaven, pure as the fountain is, 
Is sullied in the stream ; taking a taint 
From touch of human lips, at best impure. 
Oh for a world in principle as chaste 
As this is gross and selfish ! over which 
Custom and prejudice shall bear no sway, 
That govern all things here, shouldering aside 
The meek and modest Truth, and forcing her 840 

* Nebaioth and Kedar, the sons of Ishmael, and progenitors of the Arabs, in the prophetic 
Scripture here alluded to, may be reasonably considered as representatives of the Gentiles 
at large. 



282 THE TASK. 

To seek a refuge from the tongue of strife 

In nooks obscure, far from the ways of men ; 

Where violence shall never lift the sword, 

Nor cunning justify the proud man's wrong, 

Leaving the poor no remedy but tears ; 

Where he that fills an office, shall esteem 

The occasion it presents of doing good 

More than the perquisite ; where law shall speak 

Seldom, and never but as wisdom prompts 

And equity ; not jealous more to guard 850 

A worthless form than to decide aright ; 

Where fashion shall not sanctify abuse, 

Nor smooth good-breeding (supplemental grace) 

With lean performance ape the work of love. 

Come then, and added to Thy many crowns, 
Receive yet one, the crown of all the earth, 
Thou who alone art worthy ! It was Thine 
By ancient covenant ere nature's birth, 
And Thou hast made it Thine by purchase since, 
And overpaid its value with Thy blood. 860 

Thy saints proclaim Thee King ; and in their hearts 
Thy title is engraven with a pen 
Dipped in the fountain of eternal love. 
Thy saints proclaim Thee King ; and Thy delay 
Gives courage to their foes, who, could they see 
The dawn of Thy last advent, long-desired, 
Would creep into the bowels of the hills, 
And flee for safety to the falling rocks. 
The very spirit of the world is tired 

Of its own taunting question, asked so long, 870 

" Where is the promise of your Lord's approach?" 
The infidel has shot his bolts away, 
Till his exhausted quiver yielding none, 
He gleans the blunted shafts that have recoiled, 
And aims them at the shield of Truth again. 
The veil is rent, rent too by priestly hands, 
That hides divinity from mortal eyes ; 
And all the mysteries to faith proposed, 
Insulted and traduced, are cast aside 
As useless, to the moles and to the bats. 880 

They now are deemed the faithful, and are praised, 
Who, constant only in rejecting Thee, 
Deny Thy Godhead with a martyr's zeal, 
And quit their office for their error's sake. 
Blind, and in love with darkness ! yet even these 
Worthy, compared with sycophants, who knee 
Thy name, adoring, and then preach Thee man ! 
So fares Thy church. But how Thy church may fare 
The world takes little thought. Who will may preach, 
And what they will. All pastors are alike 890 

To wandering sheep, resolved to follow none. 
Two gods divide them all, Pleasure and Gain : 



THE WINTER WALK AT NOON. 283 

For these they live, they sacrifice to these, 
And in their service wage perpetual war 
With conscience and with Thee. Lust in their hearts, 
And mischief in their hands, they roam the earth 
To prey upon each other : stubborn, fierce, 
High-minded, foaming out their own disgrace. 
Thy prophets speak of such ; and, noting down 
The features of the last degenerate times, 900 

Exhibit every lineament of these. 
Come then, and added to Thy many crowns, 
Receive yet one, as radiant as the rest, 
Due to Thy last and most effectual work, 
Thy word fulfilled, the conquest of a world. 
He is the happy man, whose life even now 
Shows somewhat of that happier life to come ; 
Who, doomed to an obscure but tranquil state, 
Is pleased with it. and, were he free to choose, 
Would make his fate his choice ; whom peace, the fruit 910 
Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith, 
Prepare for happiness ; bespeak him one 
Content indeed to sojourn while he must 
Below the skies, but having there his home. 
The world o'erlooks him in her busy search 
Of objects more illustrious in her view ; 
And occupied as earnestly as she, 
Though more sublimely, he o'erlooks the world. 
She scorns his pleasures, for she knows them not ; 
He seeks not hers, for he has proved them vain. 920 

He cannot skim the ground like summer birds 
Pursuing gilded flies, and such he deems 
Her honours, her emoluments, her joys. 
Therefore in contemplation is his bliss, 
Whose power is such, that whom she lifts from earth 
She makes familiar with a heaven unseen, 
And shows him glories yet to be revealed. 
Not slothful he, though seeming unemployed, 
And censured oft as useless. Stillest streams 
Oft water fairest meadows, and the bird 930 

That flutters least is longest on the wing. 
Ask him, indeed, what trophies he has raised, 
Or what achievements of immortal fame 
He purposes, and he shall answer — None. 
His warfare is within. There unfatigued 
His fervent spirit labours. There he fights, 
And there obtains fresh triumphs o'er himself, 
And never-withering wreaths, compared with which 
The laurels that a Caesar reaps are weeds. 
Perhaps the self-approving haughty world, 940 

That as she sweeps him with her whistling silks 
Scarce deigns to notice him, or, if she see, 
Deems him a cipher in the works of God, 
Receives advantage from his noiseless hours, 



284 THE TASK. 

Of which she little dreams. Perhaps she owes 
Her sunshine and her rain, her blooming spring 
And plenteous harvest, to the prayer he makes, 
When, Isaac-like, the solitary saint 
Walks forth to meditate at eventide, 

And think on her, who thinks not for herself. 950 

Forgive him then, thou bustler in concerns 
Of little worth, and idler in the best, 
If, author of no mischief and some good, 
He seeks his proper happiness by means 
That may advance, but cannot hinder, thine. 
Nor though he tread the secret path of life, 
Engage no notice, and enjoy much ease, 
Account him an encumbrance on the state, 
Receiving benefits, and rendering none. 

His sphere though humble, if that humble sphere 960 

Shine with his fair example, and though small 
His influence, if that influence all be spent 
In soothing sorrow and in quenching strife, 
In aiding helpless indigence, in works 
From which at least a grateful few derive 
Some taste of comfort in a world of woe, 
Then let the supercilious great confess 
He serves his country, recompenses well 
The state beneath the shadow of whose vine 
He sits secure, and in the scale of life 970 

Holds no ignoble, though a slighted, place. 
The man whose virtues are more felt than seen 
Must drop indeed the hope of public praise ; 
But he may boast what few that win it can, 
That if his country stand not by his skill, 
At least his follies have not wrought her fall. 
Polite refinement offers him in vain 
Her golden tube, through which a sensual world 
Draws gross impurity, and likes it well, 

The neat conveyance hiding all the offence. 980 

Not that he peevishly rejects a mode 
Because that world adopts it. If it bear 
The stamp and clear impression of good sense, 
And be not costly more than of true worth, 
He puts it on, and for decorum sake 
Can wear it even as gracefully as she. 
|She judges of refinement by the eye, 
He by the test of conscience, and a heart 
/Not soon deceived ; aware that what is base 
1 No polish can make sterling, and that vice, 990 

Though well perfumed and elegantly dressed, 
Like an unburied carcase tricked with flowers, 
Is but a garnished nuisance, fitter far 
For cleanly riddance than for fair attire. 
So life glides smoothly and by stealth away, 
More golden than that age of fabled gold 



THE WINTER WALK A T NOON. 285 



Renowned in ancient song ; not vexed with care 

Or stained with guilt, beneficent, approved 

Of God and man, and peaceful in its end. 

So glide my life away ! and so at last, 

My share of duties decently fulfilled, 

May some disease, not tardy to perform 

Its destined office, yet with gentle stroke 

Dismiss me weary to a safe retreat, 

Beneath the turf that I have often trod. 

It shall not grieve me, then, that once, when called 

To dress a Sofa with the flowers of verse\ 

I played awhile, obedient to the fair, 

With that light task ; but soon, to please her more, 

Whom flowers alone I knew would little please, 

Let fall the unfinished wreath, and roved for fruit -^ 

Roved far, and gathered much : some harsh, 'tis true, 

Picked from the thorns and briars of reproof, 

But wholesome, well digested ; grateful some 

To palates that can taste immortal truth, 

Insipid else, and sure to be despised. 

But all is in His hand whose praise I seek. 

In vain the poet sings, and the world hears, 

If He regard not, though divine the theme. 

'Tis not in artful measures, in the chime 

And idle tinkling of a minstrel's lyre, 

To charm His ear, whose eye is on the heart; 

^ hose frown can disappoint the proudest strain. 

Whose approbation prosper — even mine. 



286 



AN EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, Esq. 



Dear Joseph, — Five and twenty years ago — 
Alas, how time escapes ! — 'tis even so — 
With frequent intercourse, and always sweet, 
And always friendly, we were wont to cheat 
A tedious hour, and now we never meet ! 
As some grave gentleman in Terence says 
('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days), 
Good lack, we know not what to-morrow brings — 
Strange fluctuation of all human things ! 
True. Changes will befall, and friends may part, 
But distance only cannot change the heart : 
And were I called to prove the assertion true, 
One proof should serve — a reference to you. 

Whence comes it, then, that in the wane of life, 
Though nothing have occurred to kindle strife, 
We find the friends we fancied we had won, 
Though numerous once, reduced to few or none ? 
Can gold grow worthless, that has stood the touch ? 
No ; gold they seemed, but they were never such. 

Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe, 
Swinging the parlour door upon its hinge, 
Dreading a negative, and overawed 
Lest he should trespass, begged to go abroad. 
" Go, fellow ! — whither ? " — turning short about — 
" Nay. Stay at home — you're always going out." — 
" 'Tis but a step, sir ; just at the street's end." — 
" For what?" — "An please you, sir, to see a friend."— 
" A friend ! " Horatio cried, and seemed to start — 
" Yea many shalt thou, and with all my heart. 
And fetch my cloak ; for, though the night be raw, 
I'll see him too — the first I ever saw." 

I knew the man, and knew his nature mild, 
And was his plaything often when a child ; 
But somewhat at that moment pinched him close, 
Else he was seldom bitter or morose. 
Perhaps, his confidence just then betrayed, 
His grief might prompt him with the speech he made; 
Perhaps 'twas mere good humour gave it birth, 
The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth. 
Howe'er it was, his language, in my mind, 
Bespoke at least a man that knew mankind. 

But not to moralize too much, and strain 
To prove an evil of which all complain, 






EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ. 287 

(I hate long arguments verbosely spun,) 

One story more, dear Hill, and I have done. 

Once on a time, an emperor, a wise man, 

No matter where, in China or Japan, 

Decreed, that whosoever should offend 

Against the well-known duties of a friend, 

Convicted once, should ever after wear 50 

But half a coat, and show his bosom bare : 

The punishment importing this, no doubt, 

That all was naught within, and all found out. 

O happy Britain ! we have not to fear 
Such hard and arbitrary measure here ; 
Else, could a law like that which I relate 
Once have the sanction of our triple state, 
Some few that I have known in days of old, 
Would run most dreadful risk of catching cold ; 
While you. my friend, whatever wind should blow, 60 

Might traverse England safely to and fro, 
An honest man, close buttoned to the chin, 
Broadcloth without, and a warm heart within. 



288 



TIROCINIUM; 

OR, 

A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 

Ke(pa\aiov dn 7ra(deiar opOn Tpo0i). — PLATO. 
Apxi iroAiTeiar affao-jjf vecov rpcxpa. — DlOG. LaerT. 

TO THE REV. WILLIAM CAWTHORNE UNWIN, 

Rector of Stock, in Essex. 

THE TUTOR OF HIS TWO SONS, 

The following rOEM, recommending Private Tuition in preference to an Education at School 

IS INSCRIBED, BY HIS AFFECTIONATE FRIEND, 

WILLIAM COWPER 

Olney, Nov. 6, 1784. 

It is not from his form, in which we trace 

Strength joined with beauty, dignity with grace, 

That man, the master of this globe, derives 

His right of empire over all that lives. 

That form indeed, the associate of a mind 

Vast in its powers, ethereal in its kind, — 

That form, the labour of Almighty skill. 

Framed for the service of a free-born will, 

Asserts precedence, and bespeaks control, 

But borrows all its grandeur from the soul. 10 

Hers is the state, the splendour, and the throne, 

An intellectual kingdom all her own. 

For her the Memory fills her ample page 

With truths poured down from every distant age; 

For her amasses an unbounded store, 

The wisdom of great nations, now no more ; 

Though laden, not encumbered with her spoil ; 

Laborious, yet unconscious of her toil ; 

When copiously supplied, then most enlarged ; 

Still to be fed, and not to be surcharged. 20 

For her the Fancy, roving unconfmed, 

The present muse of every pensive mind, 

Works magic wonders, adds a brighter hue 

To Natures scenes than Nature ever knew. 

At her command winds rise and waters roar, 

Again she lays them slumbering on the shore ; 



A REVIEW OF SCff ' >LS. 2S9 



With flower and fruit tlic wilderness suppli 

Or bids the rocks in ruder pomp arise. 

For her the Judgment, umpire in the strife 

That Grace and Nature have to wage through life, 30 

Quick-sighted arbiter of good and ill, 

Appointed sage preceptor to the Will, 

Condemns, approves, and with a faithful voice 

Guides the decision of a doubtful choice. 

Why did the fiat of a God give birth 
To yon fair Sun, and his attendant Earth? 
And when descending he resigns the skies, 
Why takes the gentler Moon her turn to rise, 
Whom Ocean feels through all his countless waves, 
And owns her power on every shore he laves? 40 

Why do the seasons still enrich the year, 
Fruitful and young as in their first career ? 
Spring hangs her infant blossoms on the trees, 
Rocked in the cradle of the western breeze ; 
Summer in haste the thriving charge receives 
Beneath the shade of her expanded leaves, 
Till Autumn's fiercer heats and plenteous dews 
Dye them at last in all their glowing hues. — 
'Twere wild profusion all, and bootless waste, 
Power misemployed, munificence misplaced, 50 

Had not its Author dignified the plan, 
And crowned it with the majesty of man. 
Thus formed, thus placed, intelligent, and taught, 
Took where he will, the wonders God has wrought, 
The wildest scorner of his Maker's laws 
Finds in a sober moment time to pause, 
To press the important question on his heart, 
" Why formed at all, and wherefore as thou art ? " 
If man be what he seems, this hour a slave, 
The next mere dust and ashes in the grave, 60 

Endued with reason only to descry 
His crimes and follies with an aching eye ; 
With passions, just that he may prove with pain, 
The force he spends against their fury vain ; 
And if, soon after having burned, by turns, 
With every lust with which frail nature burns, 
His being end wdiere death dissolves the bond, 
The tomb take all, and all be blank beyond ; 
That he, of all that nature has brought forth, 
Stands self-impeached the creature of least worth 70 

And useless while he lives, and when he dies, 
Brings into doubt the wisdom of the skies. 

Truths that the learned pursue with eager tb 
Are not important always as dear-bought, 
Proving at last, though told in pompous strains, 
A childish w T aste of philosophic pains ; 
But truths on which depen 1 our main concern, 
That 'tis our shame and miser} 7 not to learn, 



290 TIROCINIUM; OK, 

Shine by the side of every path we tread 

With such a lustre, he that runs may read. So 

'Tis true that, if to trifle life away 

Down to the sunset of their latest day, 

Then perish on futurity's wide shore 

Like fleeting exhalations found no more, 

Were all that Heaven required of humankind, 

And all the plan their destiny designed, 

What none could reverence all might justly blame, 

And man would breathe but for his Maker's shame. 

But reason heard, and nature well perused, 

At once the dreaming mind is disabused. 90 

If all we find possessing earth, sea, air, 

Reflect His attributes who placed them there, 

Fulfil the purpose, and appear designed 

Proofs of the wisdom of the all-seeing mind, 

'Tis plain the creature whom He chose to invest 

With kingship and dominion o'er the rest, 

Received his nobler nature, and was made 

Fit for the power in which he stands arrayed ; 

That first or last, hereafter if not here, 

He too might make his Author's wisdom clear, 100 

Praise Him on earth, or obstinately dumb, 

Suffer His justice in a world to come. 

This once believed, 'twere logic misapplied 

To prove a consequence by none denied, 

That we are bound to cast the minds of youth 

Betimes into the mould of heavenly truth, 

That taught of God they may indeed be wise, 

Nor ignorantly wandering miss the skies. 

In early days the conscience has in most 
A quickness, which in later life is lost : no 

Preserved from guilt by salutary fears, 
Or guilty, soon relenting into tears. 
Too careless often, as our years proceed, 
What friends we sort with, or what books we read. 
Our parents yet exert a prudent care, 
To feed our infant minds with proper fare ; 
And wisely store the nursery by degrees 
With wholesome learning, yet acquired with ease. 
Neatly secured from being soiled or torn 
Beneath a pane of thin translucent horn, 120 

A book (to please us at a tender age 
: Tis called a book, though but a single page) 
Presents the prayer the Saviour deigned to teach, 
Which children use, and parsons — when they preach. 
Lisping our syllables, we scramble next 
Through moral narrative, or sacred text ; 
And learn with wonder how this world began, 
Who made, who marred, and who has ransomed man,- 
Points, which, unless the Scripture made them plain, 
The wisest heads might agitate in vain. 1 ;c 



A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. .-or 



thou, whom, borne on fancy's eager wing 
Back to the season of life's happy spring, 

1 pleased remember, and, while Memory 
Holds fa-t her office here, can ne'er fi 
Ingenious dreamer, in whose well-told tale 
Sweet fiction and sweet truth alike prevail ; 

Whose humorous vein, strong sense, and simple style 

May teach the gave-;, make the gravest smile ; 

Witty, and well employed, and, like thy Lord, 

Speaking in parables His slighted word; 140 

I name thee not, lest so despised a name 

Should move a sneer at thy deserved fame, 

Yet e'en in transitory life's late clay, 

That mingles all my brown with sober gray. 

Revere the mar. whose pilgrim marks the road, 

And guides the progress of the soul to God. 

'Twere well with most, if books that could engage 

Their childhood, pleased them at a riper age ; 

The man, approving what had charmed the boy, 

Would die at last in comfort, peace, and joy ; 1 50 

And not with curses on his art who stole 

The gem of truth from his unguarded soul. 

The stamp of artless piety impressed 

By kind tuition on his yielding breast, 

The youth now bearded, and yet pert and raw. 

Regards with scorn, though once received wit". 

And warped into the labyrinth of lies, 

That babblers, called philosophers, devise, 

Blasphemes his creed, as founded on a plan 

Replete with dreams, unworthy of a man. 160 

Touch but his nature in its ailing part, 

Assert the native evil of his heart, 

His pride resents the charge, although the proof"" 

Rise in his forehead, and seem rank enough : 

Point to the cure, describe a Saviour's cross 

As God's expedient to retrieve his loss, 

The young apostate sickens at the view, 

And hates it with the malice of a Jew. 

How weak the barrier of mere Nature proves. 
Opposed against the pleasures Nature k 170 

While self-betrayed, and wilfully undone, 
She longs to yield, no sooner wooed than won. 
Try now the merits of this blest exchange 
Of modest truth for wit's eccentric range. 
Time was he closed as he began the day, 
With decent duty, not ashamed to pray : 
The practice was a bond upon his heart, 
A pledge he gave for a consistent part ; 
Nor could he dare presumptuously displease 
A Power, confessed so lately on his knees. 180 

* See 2 Chron. xxvi. 19. 



? 9 2 TIROCINIUM; OH, 



But now farewell all legendary tales, 

The shadows fly, philosophy prevails ; 

Prayer to the winds, and caution to the waves ; 

Religion makes the free by nature slave- ; 

Priests have invented, and the world admired 

What knavish priests promulgate as inspired ! 

Till Reason, now no longer overawed, 

Resumes her powers, and spurns the clumsy fraud, 

And, common-sense diffusing real day, 

The meteor of the Gospel dies away. 190 

Such rhapsodies our shrewd discerning youth 

Learn from expert inquirers after truth ; 

Whose only care, might truth presume to speak, 

Is not to find what they profess to seek. 

And thus, well-tutored only while we share 

A mother's lectures and a nurse's care ; 

And taught at schools much mythologic stuff,* 

But sound religion sparingly enough ; 

Our early notices of truth, disgraced, 

Soon lose their credit, and are all effaced. 200 

Would you your son should be a sot or dunce, 
Lascivious, headstrong, or all these at once ; 
That in good time the stripling's finished taste 
For loose expense, and fashionable waste. 
Should prove your ruin, and his own at last ; 
Train him in public with a mob of boys, 
Childish in mischief only and in noise, 
Else of a mannish growth, and five in ten 
In infidelity and lewdness men. 

There shall he learn, ere sixteen winters old, 210 

That authors are most useful pawned or sold ; 
That pedantry is all that schools impart, 
But taverns teach the knowledge of the heart ; 
There waiter Dick, with bacchanalian lays. 
Shall win his heart, and have his drunken praise, 
His counsellor and bosom friend shall | 
And some street-pacing harlot his first love. 
Schools, unless discipline were doubly strong, 
Detain their adolescent charge too long ; 
The management of tyros of eighteen 220 

Is difficult ; their punishment obscene. 
The stout tall captain, whose superior size 
The minor heroes view with envious e; 
Becomes their pattern, upon whom they fix 
Their whole attention, and ape all his tricks. 
I lis pride, that scorns to obey or to submit, 
With them is courage ; his effrontery wit ; 

The author begs leave to explain. — Sensible that, without such knowledge, neither the ancient 
nor historians can be tasted, or indeed understood, he does not mean to censure the pains 
that are taken to instruct a schoolboy in the religion of the heathen, but merely that neglect of 
Christian culture which leaves him shamefully ignorant of his own. 






A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS 203 



His wild excursions, window-breaking feats, 

Robbery of gardens, quarrels in thestn 

His hairbreadth 'scapes, and all his daring schemes, 230 

Transport them, and arc made their favourite themes. 
In little bosoms such achievements strike 
A kindred spark: they burn to do the like. 
Thus half-accomplished ere he yet begin 
To show the peeping down upon his chin; 
Ami, as maturity of years comes on, 
Made just the adept that you designed your son; 
To ensure the perseverance of his course, 
And give your monstrous project all its force, 
Send him to college. If he there be tamed, 240 

Or in one article of vice reclaimed, 
Where no regard of ord'nances is shown 
Or looked for now, the fault must be his own. 
Some sneaking virtue lurks in him, no doubt, 
Where neither strumpets' charms, nor drinking bout, 
Nor gambling practices, can find it out. 
Such youths of spirit, and that spirit too, 
Ye nurseries of our boys, we owe to you : 
Though from ourselves the mischief more proceeds, 
^For public schools 'tis public folly feeds. 250 

The slaves of custom and established mode, 
With packhorse constancy we keep the road, 
Crooked or straight, through epiags or thorny dells, 
True to the jingling of our leader's bells. 
To follow foolish precedents, and wink 
With both our eyes, is easier than to think ; 
And such an age as ours balks no expense, 
Except of caution, and of common-sense : 
Else sure, notorious fact and proof so plain 
Would turn our steps into a wiser train. 260 

I blame not those who, with what care they can, 
O'erwatch the numerous and unruly clan : 
Or, if I blame, 'tis only that they dare 
Promise a work, of which they must despair. 
Have ye, ye sage intendants of the whole, 
A ubiquavian presence and control, 
Elisha's eye, that, when Gehazi strayed, 
Went with him and saw all the game he played ? 
Yes — ye are conscious ; and on all the shelves 
Your pupils strike upon, have struck yourselves. 270 

Or if, by nature sober, ye had then, 
Boys as ye were, the gravity of men ; 
Ye knew at least, by constant proofs addressed 
To ears and eyes, the vices of the rest. 
But ye connive at what ye cannot cure, 
And evils not to be endured, endure, 
Lest power exerted but without success 
Should make the little ye retain still less. 
Ye once were justly famed for bringing forth 



294 TIROCINIUM; OR, 

Undoubted scholarship and genuine worth : 280 

And in the firmament of fame still shines 

A glory, bright as that of all the signs, 

Of poets raised by you, and statesmen, and divines. 

Peace to them all ! those brilliant times are lied, 

And no such lights are kindling in their stead. 

Our striplings shine indeed, but with such rays 

As set the midnight riot in a blaze ; 

And seem, if judged by their expressive looks, 

Deeper in none than in their surgeons' books. 

Say, Muse (for, education made the song, 290 

No Muse can hesitate, or linger long), 
What causes move us, knowing as we must, 
That these menageries all fail their trust, 
To send our sons to scout and scamper there, 

While colts and puppies cost us so much care? 

Be it a weakness, it deserves some praise, 
We love the play-place of our early days. 

The scene is touching, and the heart is stone 

That feels not at that sight, and feels at none. 

The wall on which we tried our graving skill, 300 

The very name we carved subsisting still ; 

The bench on which we sat while deep employed, 

Though mangled, hacked, and hewed, not vet destroyed : 

The little ones, unbuttoned, glowing hot, 

Playing our games, and on the very spot ; 

As happy as we once, to kneel and draw 

The chalky ring, and knuckle down at taw ; 

To pitch the ball into the grounded hat, 

Or drive it devious with a dexterous pat ; 

The pleasing spectacle at once excites 310 

Such recollection of our own delights, 

That, viewing it, we seem almost to obtain 

Our innocent sweet simple years again. 

This fond attachment to the well-known place 

Whence first we started into life's long race, 

Maintains its hold with such unfailing sway, 

We feel it e'en in age, and at our latest day. 

Hark! how the sire of chits, whose future hare 

Of classic food begins to be his care, 

With his own likeness placed on either knee, 320 

Indulges all a father's heartfelt glee ; 

And tells them, as he strokes their silver locks, 

That they must soon learn Latin, and to box : 

Then turning, he regales his listening wife 

With all the adventures of his early life; 

His skill in coachmanship, or driving chaise, 

In bilking tavern bills, and spouting plays; 

What shifts he used, detected in 

I low he was flogged, or had the luck to escape ; 

What sums he lost at play, and how he sold y-p 

Watch, seals, and all — till all his pranks arc told. 



./ REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 



*J5 



Retracing thus his frolics ('tis a name 

That palliates deeds of folly and of shame), 

He gives the local bias all its ,way; 

Resolves that where he played his sons shall | 

And destines their bright genius to be shown 

[ust in the scene where he displayed Ids own. 

The meek and bashful boy will soon be taught 

To be as bold and forward as he ought ; 

The rude will scuffle through with ease enough, 340 

Great schools suit best the sturdy and the rough. 

All, happy designation, prudent choice, 

The event is sure; expect it, and rejoice! 

Soon see your wish fulfilled in either child, 

The pert made perter, and the tame made wild. 

The great, indeed, by titles, riches, birth, 

Excused the incumbrance of more solid worth, 

Are best disposed of where with most success 

They may acquire that confident address, 

Those habits of profuse and lewd expense, 350 

That scorn of all delights but those of sense, 

Which though in plain plebeians we condemn, 

With so much reason all expect from them. 

But families of less illustrious fame, 

Whose chief distinction is their spotless name, 

Whose heirs, their honours none, their income small. 

Must shine by true desert, or not at all, 

What dream they of, that with so little care 

They risk their hopes, their dearest treasure, there ? 

They dream of little Charles or William graced 360 

With wig prolix, down flowing to his waist ; 

They see the attentive crowds his talents draw, 

They hear him speak — the oracle of law. 

The father who designs his babe a priest, 

Dreams him episcopally such at least ; 

And, while the playful jockey scours the room 

Briskly, astride upon the parlour broom, 

In fancy sees him more superbly ride 

In coach with purple lined, and mitres on its side. 

Events improbable and strange as these, 370 

Which only a parental eye foresees, 

A public school shall bring to pass with ease. 

But how ? resides such virtue in that air, 

As must create an appetite for prayer ? 

And will it breathe into him all the zeal, 

That candidates for such a prize should feel ; 

To take the lead, and be the foremost still 

In all true worth and literary skill? 

' ' Ah, blind to bright futurity, untaught 
" The knowledge of the world, and dull of thought ! 3S0 

" Churchdadders are not always mounted best 
" By learned clerks, and Latinists professed. 
" The exalted prize demands an upward look, 



296 



TIROCINIUM; OR, 



" Not to be found by poring on a book. 
" Small skill in Latin, and still less in Greek, 
"Is more than adequate to all I seek. 
" Let erudition grace him, or not grace, 
" I give the bauble but the second place ; 
" His wealth, fame, honours, all that I intend, 
" Subsist and centre in one point — a friend. 390 

" A friend, whate'er he studies or neglects, 
" Shall give him consequence, heal all defects. 
" His intercourse with peers and sons of peers — 
" There dawns the splendour of his future years ; 
" In that bright quarter his propitious skies 
" Shall blush betimes, and there his glory rise. 
" Your lordship, and Your Grace! what school can teach 
" A rhetoric equal to those parts of speech? 
" What need of Homer's verse, or Tully's prose, 
" Sweet interjections ! if he learn but those ? 400 

" Let reverend churls his ignorance rebuke, 
" "Who starve upon a dog's-eared Pentateuch, 
" The parson knows enough who knows a duke." 
Egregious purpose ! worthily begun 
In barbarous prostitution of your son ; 
Pressed on his part by means that would disgrace 
A scrivener's clerk, or footman out of place, 
And ending, if at last its end be gained, 
In sacrilege, in God's own house profane I. 
It may succeed ; and, if his sins should call 410 

For more than common punishment, it shall ; 
The wretch shall rise, and be the thing on earth 
Least qualified in honour, learning, worth, 
To occupy a sacred, awful post, 
In which the best and worthiest tremble most. 
The royal letters are a thing of course, 
A king that would, might recommend his horse ; 
And Deans, no doubt, and Chapters, with one voice 
As bound in duty, would confirm the choice. 
Behold your Bishop ; well he plays his part, 420 

Christian in name, and infidel in heart, 
Ghostly in office, earthly in his plan, 
A slave at court, elsewhere a lady's man. 
Dumb as a senator, and as a priest 
A piece of mere church furniture at best; 
To live estranged from God his total scope, 
And Ids end sure, without one glimpse of hope. 
But fair although and feasible it seem, 
I >epend not much upon your golden dream ; 
For Providence, that seems concerned to exempt 430 

The hallowed bench from absolute contempt, 
In spite ot all the wrigglers into place, 
Still keeps a seat or two for worth and grace ; 
And therefore 'tis that, though the sight be rare, 
We sometimes see a Lowth 1 here. 









A REV JEW OF SCHOOLS. 



297 



Besides, school friendships are not always found, 

Though fair in promise, permanent and sound ; 

The most disinterested and virtuous minds. 

In early years connected, time unbinds ; 

New situations give a different casl 440 

Of habit, inclination, temper, taste; 

And he that seemed our counterpart at first 

Soon shows the strong- similitude reversed. 

young heads are giddy, and young hearts are warm. 

And make mistakes for malihood to reform. 

Boys are at best but pretty buds unblown, 

:it and hues are rather guessed than known ; 
Each dreams that each is just what he appears, 
But learns his error in maturer years, 

When disposition, like a sail unfurled, 450 

Shows all its rents and patches to the world. 
If, therefore, e'en when honest in design, 
A boyish friendship may so soon decline, 
'Twere wiser sure to inspire a little heart 
With just abhorrence of so mean a part, 
Than set your son to work at a vile trade 
For wages so unlikely to be paid. 

Our public hives of puerile resort, 
That are of chief and most approved report, 
To such base hopes, in many a sordid soul, 460 

Owe their repute in part, but not the whole. 
A principle whose proud pretensions pass 
Unquestioned, though the jewel be but glass, 
That with a world not often over-nice 
Ranks as a virtue, and is yet a vice ; 
Or rather a gross compound, justly tried, 
Of envy, hatred, jealousy, and pride — 
Contributes most perhaps to enhance their fame, 
( And emulation is its specious name. 

Boys, once on fire with that contentious zeal, 470 

Feel all the rage that female rivals feel : 
The prize of beauty in a woman's eyes 
Not brighter than in theirs the scholar's prize. 
The spirit of that competition burns 
With all varieties of ills by turns ; 
Each vainly magnifies his own success, 
Resents his fellow's, wishes it were less, 
Exults in his miscarriage if he fail, 
Deems his reward too great if he prevail, 
And labours to surpass him day and night, 480 

Less for improvement than to tickle spite. 
The spur is powerful, and I grant its force ; 
It pricks the genius forward in its course, 
Allows short time for play, and none for sloth : 
And, felt alike by each, advances both : 
But judge, where so much evil intervenes, 
The end, though plausible, nut worth the means. 



298 TIROCINIUM; 0A\ 



Weigh, for a moment, classical desert 

Against a heart depraved and temper hurt ; 

Hurt too perhaps for life ; for early wrong, 490 

Done to the nobler part, affects it long ; 

And you are staunch indeed in learning's cause 

If you can crown a discipline, that draws 

Such mischiefs after it, with much applause. 

Connexion formed for interest, and endeared 
By selfish views, thus censured and cashiered ; 
And emulation, as engendering hate, 
Doomed to a no less ignominious fate : 
The props of such proud seminaries fall, 
The jachin and the Boaz of them all. 500 

Great schools rejected then, as those that swell 
Beyond a size that can be managed well, 
Shall royal institutions miss the bays, 
And small academies win all the praise? 
Force not my drift beyond its just intent ; 
I praise a school as Pope a government : 
So take my judgment in his language dressed, 
' Whate'er is best administered is best.' 
Few boys are born with talents that excel, 
But are all capable of living well ; r 10 

Then ask not, Whether limited or large ? 
But, Watch they strictly, or neglect the charge ? 
If anxious only that their boys may learn, 
While morals languish, a despised concern, 
The great and small deserve one common blame, 
Different in size, but in effect the same. 
Much zeal in virtue's cause all teachers boast, 
Though motives of mere lucre sway the most : 
Therefore in towns and cities they abound, 
For there the game they seek is easiest found ; 520 

Though there, in spite of all that care can do, 
Traps to catch youth are most abundant too. 
If shrewd, and of a well-constructed brain, 
Keen in pursuit, and vigorous to retain, 
Your son come forth a prodigy of skill ; 
As wheresoever taught, so formed he will ; 
The pedagogue, with self-complacent air, 
Claims more than half the praise as his due share. 
But if, with all his genius, he betray, 

Not more intelligent than loose and gay, 530 

Such vicious habits as disgrace his name, 
Threaten his health, his fortune, and his fame ; 
Though want of due restraint alone have bred 
The symptoms that you see with so much dread ; 
Unenvied there, he may sustain alone 
The whole reproach, the fault was all hi- own. 

Oli 'tis a sight to be with joy perused, 
By all whom sentiment has not abused : 
New-fangled sentiment, the boasted grace 



.1 REVIEW (>/■ SCHOOLS. 299 



< >f those who never feel in the right place ; 540 

A sight surpassed by none that we can show, 

Though Vestris on one leg still shine below; 

A father blest with an ingenuous son, 

Father, and friend, and tutor, all in one. 

How ! — turn again to tales long since forgot, 

p, and Phaedrus, and the rest? — Why not? 
He will not blush, that has a father's heart, 
To take in childish plays a childish part ; 
but bends his sturdy back to any toy 

That youth takes pleasure in, to please his boy ; 550 

Then why resign into a stranger's hand 
A task as much within your own command, 
That God and Nature, and your interest too, 
Seem with one voice to delegate to you ? 
Why hire a lodging in a house unknown 

For one whose tenderest thoughts all hover round your own ? 
This second weaning, needless as it is, 
How does it lacerate both your heart and his ! 
The indented stick, that loses day by day 
Notch after notch, till all are smoothed away, 560 

Bears witness, long ere his dismission come, 
With what intense desire he wants his home. 
But though the joys he hopes beneath your roof 
Bid fair enough to answer in the proof, 
Harmless and safe, and natural, as they are, 
A disappointment waits him even there : 
Arrived, he feels an unexpected change, 
He blushes, hangs his head, is shy and strange ; 
No longer takes, as once with fearless ease, 
His favourite stand between his father's knees, 570 

But seeks the corner of some distant seat, 
And eyes the door, and watches a retreat ; 
And least familiar where he should be most. 
Feels all his happiest privileges lost. 
Alas, poor boy ! — the natural effect 
Of love by absence chilled into respect. 
Say, what accomplishments at school acquired, 
Erings he, to sweeten fruits so undesired ? 
Thou well deservest an alienated son, 

Unless thy conscious heart acknowledge — none ; 580 

None that,' in thy domestic snug recess, 
He had not made his own with more address, 
Though some perhaps that shock thy feeling mind, 
And better never learned, or left behind. 
Add too, that thus estranged, thou canst obtain 
By no kind arts his confidence again ; 
That here'.begins with most that long complaint 
Of filial frankness lost, and love grown faint, 
Which, oft neglected, in life's waning years 
A parent pours into regardless ears. 590 

Likj caterpillars dangling under trees 



3O0 TIROCINIUM ; OR, 



By slender threads, and swinging in the breeze, 

Which filthily bewray and sore disgrace 

The boughs in which are bred th' unseemly race ; 

While every worm industriously weaves 

And winds his web about the rivelled leaves ; 

So numerous are the follies that annoy 

The mind and heart of every sprightly boy ; 

Imaginations noxious and perverse, 

Which admonition can alone disperse. 600 

Th' encroaching nuisance asks a faithful hand, 

Patient, affectionate, of high command, 

To check the procreation of a breed 

Sure to exhaust the plant on which they feed. 

'Tis not enough that Greek or Roman page, 

At stated hours, his freakish thoughts engage ; 

E'en in his pastimes he requires a friend, 

To warn and teach him safely to unbend ; 

O'er all his pleasures gently to preside, 

Watch his emotions, and control their tide ; 610 

And levying thus, and with an easy sway, 

A tax of profit from his very play, 

To impress a value, not to be erased, . 

On moments squandered else, and running all to waste. 

And seems it nothing in a father's eye, 

That unimproved those many moments fly ? 

And is he well content his son should find 

No nourishment to feed his growing mind, 

But conjugated verbs, and nouns declined ? 

For such is all the mental food purveyed 620 

By public hackneys in the schooling trade ; 

Who feed a pupil's intellect with store 

Of syntax, truly, but with little more ; 

Dismiss their cares when they dismiss their flock, 

Machines themselves, and governed by a clock. 

Perhaps a father, blessed with any brains, 

Would deem it no abuse, or waste of pains, 

To improve this diet, at no great expense, 

With savoury truth and wholesome common sense : 

To lead his son, for prospects of delight, 630 

To some not steep, though philosophic height, 

Thence to exhibit to his wondering eyes 

Yon circling worlds, their distance, and their size ; 

The moons of Jove, and Saturn's belted ball, 

And the harmonious order of them all ; 

To show him in an insect or a flower 

Such microscopic proof of skill and power, 

As, hid from ages past, God now displays, 

To combat atheists with in modern days ; 

To spread the earth before him, and commei 1 ;o 

With designation of the finger's end, 

Its various parts to his attentive note, 

Thus bringing home to him the most remote ; 






A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 301 



To teach his heart to glow with generous flame, 

Caught from the deeds of men of ancient fame : 

And, more than all, with commendation due, 

To set some living worthy in his view. 

Whose fair example may at once inspire 

A wish to copy what he must admire. 

Such knowledge, gained betimes, and winch appears. 650 

Though solid, not too weighty for his years. 

Sweet in itself, and not forbidding sport, 

When health demands it, of athletic sort, 

Would make him — what some lovely boys have been. 

And more than one perhaps that I have seen — 

An evidence and reprehension both 

Of the mere schoolboy's lean and tardy growth. 

Art thou a man professionally tied, 
With all thy faculties elsewhere applied, 
Too busy to intend a meaner care 6^0 

Than how to enrich thyself, and next, thine heir ; 
Or art thou (as, though rich, peihaps thou art) 
But poor in knowledge, having none to impart : 
Behold that figure, neat, though plainly clad : 
1 1 i s sprightly mingled with a shade of sad ; 
Not of a nimble tongue, though now and then 
Heard to articulate like other men ; 

-ter, and yet lively in discourse ; 
His phrase well-chosen, clear, and full of force ; 
And his address, if not quite French in i_ 670 

Not English stiff, but frank, and formed to please ; 
Low in the world, because he scorns its arts ; 
A man of letters, manners, morals, parts; 
Unpatronized, and therefore little known ; 
Wise for himself and his k\v friends alone — 
In him thy well-appointed proxy see, 
Armed for a work too difficult for thee ; 
Prepared by taste, by learning, and true worth, 
To form thy son, to strike his genius forth ; 
Beneath thy roof, beneath thine eye, to prove 680 

The force of discipline when backed by love ; 
To double all thy pleasure in thy child, 
His mind informed, his morals und'efiled. 
Safe under such a wing, the boy shall show 
Xo spots contracted among grooms below, 
Xor taint his speech with meannesses, designed 
By footman Tom for witty and refined. 
There, in his commerce with the liveried herd, 
Lurks the contagion chiefly to be feared ; 
For since (so fashion dictates) all, who claim 690 

A higher than a mere plebeian fame, 
Find it expedient, come what mischief may, 
To entertain a thief or two in pay, 
(And they that can afford the expense of more, 
Some half a dozen, and some half a score,) 



302 TIROCINIUM ; OR, 



Great cause occurs to save him from a band 

So sure to spoil him, and so near at hand ; 

A point secured, ii once he be supplied 

With some such Mentor always at his side. 

Are such men rare ? Perhaps they would abound 700 

Were occupation easier to be found, 

Were education, else so sure to fail, 

Conducted on a manageable scale, 

And schools, that have outlived all just esteem, 

Exchanged for the secure domestic scheme. — 

But having found him, be thou duke or earl, 

Show thou hast sense enough to prize the pearl, 

And, as thou wouldst the advancement of thine heir 

In all good faculties beneath his care, 

Respect, as is but rational and just, 710 

A man deemed worthy of so dear a trust. 

Despised by thee, what more can he expect 

From youthful folly than the same neglect ? 

A flat and fatal negative obtains 

That instant, upon all his future pains ; 

His lessons tire, his mild rebukes offend, 

And all the instructions of thy son's best friend 

Are a stream choked, or trickling to no end. 

Doom him not then to solitary meals ; 

But recollect that he has sense, and feels ; 720 

And that, possessor of a soul refined, 

An upright heart, and cultivated mind, 

His post not mean, his talents not unknown, 

He deems it hard to vegetate alone. 

And if admitted at thy board he sit, 

Account him no just mark for idle wit ; 

Offend not him, whom modesty restrains 

From repartee, with jokes that he disdains ; 

Much less transfix his feelings with an oath ; 

Nor frown, unless he vanish with the cloth. — 730 

And, trust me, his utility may reach 

To more than he is hired or bound to teach, 

.Much trash unuttered, and some ills undone, 

Through reverence of the censor of thy son. 

But, if thy table be indeed unclean, 
Foul with excess, and with discourse obscene, 
And thou a wretch, whom, following her old plan, 
The world accounts an honourable man, 
Because forsooth thy courage has been tried, 
And stood the test, perhaps on the wrong side ; 74c 

Though thou hadst never grace enough to pi 
That any tiling but vice could win thy love ; — 
Or hast thou a polite, card-playing wife, 
Chained to the routs that she frequents for life ; 
Who, just when industry begins to snore, 
Flies, winged with joy, to some coach-crowded door; 
And thrice in every winter throngs thine own 






A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 303 



With half the chariots and sedans in town, 

Thyself meanwhile e'en shifting as thou mayst ; 

\ ■• very sober though, nor very chaste ; — 750 

Or is thine house, though less superb thy rank, 

If not a scene of pleasure, a mere blank, 

And thou at best, and in thy soberest mood, 

A hitler vain, and empty of all good? 

Though mercy for thyself thou canst have none, 

Hear Nature plead, show mercy to thy son. 

Saved from his home, where every day brings forth 

Some mischief fatal to his future worth, 

Find him a better in a distant spot. 

Within some pious pastor's humble cot, 760 

Where vile example (yours I chiefly mean, 

The most seducing, and the oftenest seen) 

May never more be stamped upon his breast, 

Not yet perhaps incurably impressed. 

Where early rest makes early rising sure, 

Disease or comes not, or finds easy cure, 

Prevented much by diet neat and plain ; 

Or, if it enter, soon starved out again. 

Where all the attention of his faithful host, 

Discreetly limited to two at most, 770 

May raise such fruits as shall reward his care, 

And not at last evaporate in air : 

Where, stillness aiding study, and his mind 

Serene, and to his duties much inclined ; 

Not occupied in day-dreams, as at home, 

Of pleasures past, or follies yet to come ; 

His virtuous toil may terminate at last 

In settled habit and decided taste. — 

But whom do I advise ? the fashion-led, 

The incorrigibly wrong, the deaf, the dead ! 7S0 

Whom care and cool deliberation suit 

Not better much than spectacles a brute ; 

Who, if their sons some slight tuition share, 

Deem it of no great moment whose, or where ; 

Too proud to adopt the thoughts of one unknown, 

And much too gay to have any of their own. 

' But, courage, man ! ' methought the Muse replied, 

' Mankind are various, and the world is wide : 

The ostrich, silliest of the feathered kind, 

And formed of God without a parent's mind, 71 10 

Commits her eggs, incautious, to the dust, 

Forgetful that the foot may crush the trust ; 

And while on public nurseries they rely, 

Not knowing, and too oft not caring, why, 

Irrational in what they thus prefer, 

No few, that would seem wise, resemble her. 

But all are not alike. Thy warning voice 

May here and there prevent erroneous choice ; 

And some perhaps, who, busy as they are, 



304 TIROCINIUM ; OR, 



Yet make their progeny their dearest care Soo 

(Whose hearts will ache, once told what ills may reach 

Their offspring, left upon so wild a beach), 

Will need no stress of argument to enforce 

The expedience of a less adventurous course : 

The rest will slight thy counsel, or condemn : 

But they have human feelings ; turn to them." 1 
To you, then, tenants of life's middle state, 

Securely placed between the small and great, 

Whose character, yet undebauched, retains 

Two-thirds of all the virtue that remains : Sio 

Who, wise yourselves, desire your sons should learn 

Your wisdom and your ways — to you I turn. 

Look round you on a world perversely blind ; 

See what contempt has fallen on human kind ; 

See wealth abused, and dignities misplaced, 

Great titles, offices, and trusts disgraced, 

Long lines of ancestry, renowned of old, 

Their noble qualities all quenched and cold ; 

See Bedlam's closeted and handcuffed cl 

Surpassed in frenzy by the mad at large ; 820 

See great commanders making war a trade, 

Great lawyers, lawyers without study made ; 

Churchmen, in whose esteem their blessed employ 

Is odious, and their wages all their joy; 

Who, far enough from furnishing their shelves 

With Gospel lore, turn infidels themselves ; 

See womanhood despised, and manhood shamed 

With infamy too nauseous to be named, 

Fops at all corners, lady-like in mien, 

Civeted fellows, smelt ere they are seen ; 830 

Else coarse and rude in manners, and their tongue 

On fire with curses, and with nonsense hung ; 

Now flushed with drunkenness, now with whoredom pale, 

Their breath a sample of last night's regale : 

See volunteers in all the vilest arts, 

Men well endowed, of honourable pails. 

Designed by Nature wise, but self-made fools ; 

All these, and more like these, were bred at schools. 

And if it chance, as sometimes chance it will, 

That though school-bred, the boy be virtuous still, 840 

Such rare exceptions, shining in the dark, 

Prove, rather than impeach, the just remark, 

As here and there a twinkling star descried 

Serves but to show how black is all beside. 

Now look on him, whose very voice in 1 

Just echoes thine, whose features are thine own, 

And stroke his polished cheek of puresl 

And lay thine hand upon his llaxen head, 

And say, "My boy, the unwelcome hour is come, 

" When thou, transplanted from thy genial hi 850 

" Must find a colder soil and bleaker air, 



. / RE I 'II-. I V ( >F S( 7/(>i )LS. 305 



" And trust for safety to a stranger's care : 
'• What character, what turn, thou wilt assume 
" From constant converse with 1 know not whom ; 

•' Who there will court thy friendship, with what view.-, 

" And, artless as thou art, whom thou wilt chi 

" Though much depends on what thy choice shall be, 

" Is all chance-medley, and unknown to me." 

Canst thou, the tear just trembling on thy lids, 

And while the dreadful risk foreseen forbids; 860 

Free too, and under no constraining force, 

Unless the sway of custom warp thy course ; 

Lay such a stake upon the losing side, 

Merely to gratify so blind a guide ? 

Thou canst not ! Nature, pulling at thine heart, 

Condemns the unfatherly, the imprudent part. 

Thou wouldst not, deaf to Nature's tenderest plea, 

Turn him adrift upon a rolling sea, 

Nor say, " Go thither," conscious that there lay 

A brood of asps, or quicksands in his way ; 870 

Then, only governed by the self-same rule 

Of natural pity, send him not to school. 

No — guard him better. Is he not thine own, 

Thyself in miniature, thy flesh, thy bone ? 

And hopest thou not ('tis every father's hope) 

That since thy strength must with thy years elope, 

And thou wilt need some comfort to assuage 

Health's last farewell, a staff of thine old age, 

That then, in recompense of all thy cares, 

Thy child shall show respect to thy gray hairs, SSo 

Befriend thee, of all other friends bereft, 

And give thy life its only cordial left ? 

Aware then how much danger intervenes, 

To compass that good end, forecast the means. 

His heart, now passive, yields to thy command ; 

Secure it thine, its key is in thine hand. 

If thou desert thy charge, and throw it wide. 

Nor heed what guests there enter and abide, 

Complain not if attachments lewd and base 

Supplant thee in it, and usurp thy place. 890 

But if thou guard its sacred chambers sure 

From vicious inmates, and delights impure, 

Either his gratitude shall hold him fast, 

And keep him warm and filial to the last : 

Or, if he prove unkind, (as who can say 

But being man, and therefore frail, he may) 

One comfort yet shall cheer thine aged heart ; 

Howe'er he slight thee, thou hast done thy part. 

" 1 m, barbarous ! wouldst thou with a Gothic hand 
" Pull down the schools — what! — all the schools i' the land ; 
" Or throw them up to livery-nags and grooms, 901 

" Or turn them into shops and auction-rooms?'' — 
iptious question, sir, (and yours is one) 



306 



JOHN GILPIN. 



Deserves an answer similar, or none. 

Wouldst thou, possessor of a flock, employ 

(Apprised that he is such) a careless boy, 

And feed him well, and give him handsome pay, 

Merely to sleep, and let them run astray? 

Survey our schools and colleges, and see 

A sight not much unlike my simile. 910 

From education, as the leading cause, 

The public character its colour draws ; 

Thence the prevailing manners take their cast, 

Extravagant or sober, loose or chaste. 

And though I would not advertise them yet, 

Nor write on each — "This building to be let" 

Unless the world were all prepared to embrace 

A plan well worthy to supply their place ; 

Yet, backward as they are, and long have been, 

To cultivate and keep the morals clean, 920 

(Forgive the crime) I wish them, I confess, 

Or better managed, or encouraged less. 



THE DIVERTING HISTORY 

OF 

JOHN GILPIN: 



SHOWING HOW HE WENT FARTHER THAN 

John GlLPIN was a citizen 

Of credit and renown, 
A train-band captain eke was he 

Of famous London town. 

John Gilpin's spouse said to her dear, 
"Though wedded we have been 

These twice ten tedious years, yet we 
No holiday have seen. 

"To-morrow is our wedding-day, 

And we will then repair 
Unto the Bell nt Edmonton, 

All in a chaise and pair. 

" My sister, and my sister's child, 

If, and children three, 
Will fill the chaise ; so you must ride 
( )n horseback after we.'' 



HE INTENDED AND CAME SAFE HOilE AGAIN. 

He soon replied, " I do admire 

Of womankind but one, 
And you are she, my dearest dear, 

Therefore it shall he done. 

" I am a linen-draper bold, 
all the w<>rM doth km 
And n nd the calender 

Will lend his horse to go." 

Quoth Mrs. Gilpin, "That's well said: 
And for that wine is dear, 

! with our own, 
Which is both bright and clear." 

John Gilpin kissed his loving wife : 

he to find, 
That though on ; 

She had a frugal mind. 



yon.v GILPIN. 



307 



The morning came, the chaise was 
brou 
Bui yet was nol 

To 'hive up to the door, lest all 

Should say that she was proud. 

So three doors off the chaise was stayed, 

Where they did all get in ; 
Six precious souls, and all agog 

To dash through thick and thin. 

Smack went the whip, round went the 
wheels, 

Were never folk so glad, 
The stones did rattle underneath, 

As if Cheapside were mad. 

John Gilpin at his horse's side 
Sefeed fast the flowing mane, 

And up he got, in haste to ride, 
But soon came down again ; 

For saddle-tree scarce reached had he, 

His journey to begin, 
When, turning round his head, he saw 

Three customers come in. 

So down he came ; for loss of time, 
Although it grieved him sore, 

Yet loss of pence, full well he knew, 
Would trouble him much more. 

'Twas long before the customers 

Were suited to their mind, 
When Betty screaming came down stairs. 

" The wine is left behind !" 

"Good lack !" quoth he — "yet bring it 
me, 

My leathern belt likewise, 
In which I bear my trusty sword, 

When I do exercise." 

Xow Mistress Gilpin (careful soul !) 
Had two stone bottles found, 

To hold the liquor that she loved, 
And keep it safe and sound. 

Each bottle had a curling ear, 
Through which the belt he drew, 

And hung a bottle on each side, 
To make his balance true. 



Then over all, that he might be 

Equipped from top to toe, 
His long red cloak, well brushed and 
neat, 

He manfully did throw. 

Xow see him mounted once again 

Upon his nimble steed, 
Full slowly pacing o'er the stones, 

With caution and good heed. 

But finding soon a smoother road 

Beneath his well-shod feet, 
The snorting beast began to trot, 

Which galled him in his seat. 

So, " Fair and softly," John he cried, 

But John he cried in vain ; 
That trot became a gallop soon, 

In spite of curb and rein. 

So stooping down, as needs he must 

Who cannot sit upright, 
He grasped the mane with both his hands. 

And eke with all his might. 

His horse, who never in that sort 

Had handled been before, 
What thing upon his back had got 

Did wonder more and more. 

Away went Gilpin, neck or nought ; 

Away went hat and wig ; 
He little dreamt, when he set out, 

Of running such a rig. 

The wind did blow, the cloak did fly, 
Like streamer long and gay, 

Till, loop and button failing both, 
At last it flew away. 

Then might all people well discern 

The bottles he had slung ; 
A bottle swinging at each side, 

As hath been said or sung. 

The dogs did bark, the children screamad. 

Up flew the windows all ; 
And every soul cried out, " Well done ! "' 

As loud as he could bawl. 



300 



70IIX GILPIX. 



Away went Gilpin — who but he ? 

His fame soon spread around ; 
'* He carries weight ! " " lie rides a 
race ! " 

" 'Tis for a thousand pound ! " 

And still, as fast as he drew near, 

'Twas wonderful to view, 
How in a trice the turnpike-men 

Their gates wide open threw. 

And now, as he went bowing down 

His reeking head full low, 
The bottles twain behind his back 

Were shattered at a blow. 

Down ran the wine into the road, 

Most piteous to be seen, 
Which made his horse's flanks to 
smoke 

As they had basted been. 

But still he seemed to carry weight, 
With leathern girdle braced ; 

For all might see the bottle-necks 
Still dangling at his waist. 

Thus all through merry Islington 
These gambols he did play, 

Until he came unto the Wash 
Of Edmonton so gay ; 

And there he threw the Wash about 

On both sides of the way, 
Just like unto a trundling mop, 

Or a wild goose at play. 

At Edmonton his loving wife 

From the balcony spied 
Hertender husband, wondering much 

To see how he did ride. 

"Stop, stop, John Gilpin ! — Here's the 
house ! " 

They all at once did cry ; 
''The dinner waits, and we are tired;" — • 

Said Gilpin — " So am I ! " 

But yet his horse was not a whit 

Inclined to tarry there ! 
For why? —his owner had a house 

hull ten mill off, al Ware 



So like an arrow swift he flew, 

Shot by an archer strong ; 
So did he fly — which brings me to 

The middle of my song. 

Away went Gilpin, out of breath, 

And sore against his will, 
Till at his friend the calender's 

His horse at last stood still. 

The calender, amazed to see 
His neighbour in such trim, 

Laid down his pipe, flew to the gate, 
And thus accosted him : 

" What news? what news? your tidings 
tell; 

Tell me you must and shall — 
Say why bareheaded you are come, 

" Or why you come at all ? " 

Now Gilpin had a pleasant wit, 

And loved a timely joke ; 
And thus unto the calender 

In merry guise he spoke : 

"I came because your horse would come, 

And, iff well forebode, 
My hat and wig will soon be here, — 

They are upon the road." 

The calender, right glad to find 

His friend in merry pin, 
Returned him not a single word, 

But to the house went in ; 

Whence straight he came with hat and 
wig ; 

A wig that flowed behind, 
A hat not much the worse for wear, 

Each comely in its kind. 

M them up, and in his turn 
Thus showed his ready wit, 
"My head is twice as big as yours, 
Thej therefore needs must lit. 

" Bui let me scrape the dirt away 
That hangs upon your face ; 
id < at, l"i' well yoi 
Be in .; hui gry case." 



JOHN GILPIN. 



309 



Said John, "It is my wedding-day, 
And all the world would stare, 

If wile should dine at Edmonton, 
And I should dine at Ware." 

So turning to his horse, he said, 

" I am in haste to dine ; 
'Twas for your pleasure you came here, 

You shall go back for mine." 

Ah, luckless speech, and bootless boast ! 

For which he paid full dear ; 
For, while he spake, a braying ass 

Did sing most loud and clear ; 

Whereat his horse did snort, as he 

Had heard a lion roar, 
And galloped off with all his might, 

As he had done before. 

Away went Gilpin, and away 
Went Gilpin's hat and wig : 

He lost them sooner than at first ; 
For why ? — they were too big. 

Now Mistress Gilpin, when she saw 

Her husband posting down 
Into the country far away, 

She pulled out half-a-crown ; 

And thus unto the youth she said 
That drove them to the Bell, 

" This shall be yours, when you bring back 
My husband safe and well." 

The youth did ride, and soon did meet 

John coming back amain : 
Whom in a trice he tried to stop, 

By catching at his rein ; 



But not performing what he meant, k 
And gladly would have done, 

The frighted steed he frighted more, 
And made him faster run. 

Away went Gilpin, and away 

Went postboy at his heels, 
The postboy's horse right glad to miss 

The lumbering of the wheels. 

Six gentlemen upon the road, 

Thus seeing Gilpin fly, 
With postboy scampering in the rear, 

They raised the hue and cry : 

"Stop thief! stop thief! — a highway- 
man ! " 

Not one of them was mute ; 
And all and each that passed that way 

Did join in the pursuit. 

And now the turnpike gates again 

Flew open in short space ; 
The toll-men thinking, as before, 

That Gilpin rode a race. 

And so he did, and won it too, 

For he got first to town ; 
Nor stopped till where he had got up 

He did again get down. 

Now let us sing, Long live the king ! 

And Gilpin, long live he ! 
And when he next doth ride abroad 

May I be there to see ! 



POEMS 



ADDED CV THE AUTHOR IN SUBSEQUENT EDITIONS OF HIS WORKS. 



( )X THE DEATH OF 
MRS. THROCKMORTON'S BULLFINCH. 



Ye Nymphs, if e'er your eyes were red 
With terns o'er hapless favourites shed. 

Oh share Maria's grief ! 
Her favourite, even in his cage 
(What will not hunger's cruel rage ?) 
-sined by a thief. 

Where Rhenus strays his vines among 
The egg was laid from which he sprung ; 

And though by nature mute, 
Or only with a whistle blessed, 
Well-taught, he all the sounds expressed 

Of flageolet or flute. 

The honours of his ebon poll 

Were brighter than the sleekest mole, 

His bosom of the hue 
With which Aurora decks the skies, 
When piping winds shall soon arise 

To sweep away the dew. 

Above, below, in all the house, 
Dire foe alike of bird and mouse, 

No cat had leave to dwell ; 
And Bully's cage supported stood 
On props of smoothest-shaven wood, 

Large built and latticed well. 

Well latticed, — but the grate, alas ! 
:>ugh with wire of steel or brass. 
For Bully's plumage sake, 
But smooth with wands from Ouse's side, 
With which, when neatly peeled and 
dried, 
The swains their baskets make. 

Night veiled the pole; all seemed secure; 
When, led by instinct sharp and sure, 
Subsistence to provide, 



A beast forth sallied on the scout, 
Long backed, long tailed, with whiskered 
snout, 
And badger-coloured hide. 

He, entering at the study door, 
Its ample area 'gan explore ; 

And something in the wind 
Conjectured, sniffing round and round, 
Better than all the books he found, 

Food chiefly for the mind. 

Just then, by adverse fate impressed, 
A dream disturbed poor Bully's rest ; 

In sleep he seemed to view 
A rat fast clinging to the cage, 
And screaming at the sad presage, 

Awoke and found it true. 

For, aided both by ear and scent, 
Right to his mark the monster went, — 

Ah, Muse ! forbear to speak 
Minute the horrors that ensued ; 
His teeth were strong, the cage was 
wood,— 

He left poor Bully's beak. 

Oh, had he made that too his prey ! 
That beak, whence issued many a lay 

Of such mellifluous tone, 
Might have repaid him well. I w 
For silencing so sweet a throat, 

Fast stuck within his own. 

Maria weeps, — the Muses mourn ; — 
So, when by Bacchanalians torn, 

On Thracian Hebras' side 
The tree-enchanter Orpheus fell, 
His head alone remained to tell 

The cruel death he died. 



ODE TO APOLLO. 



THE ROSE. 

The rose had been washed, just washed in a shower, 

Which Mary to Anna conveyed, 
The plentiful moisture encumbered the flower, 

And weighed down its beautiful head. 

The cup was all fille-d, and the leaves were all wet, 

And it seemed, to a fanciful view, 
To weep for the buds it had left with regret 

On the flourishing bush where it grew. 

I hastily seized it, unfit as it was 

For a nosegay, so dripping and drowned ; 

And swinging it rudely, too rudely, alas ! 
I snapped it — it fell to the ground. 

"And such," I exclaimed, "is the pitiless part 

Some act by the delicate mind, 
Regardless of wringing and breaking a heart 

Already to sorrow resigned ! 

" This elegant rose, had I shaken it less, 

Might have bloomed with its owner awhile ; 

And the tear that is wiped with a little address 
May be followed perhaps by a smile." 



ODE TO APOLLO. 



ON AN INK-GLASS ALMOST DRIED IN THE SUN. 



Patron of all those luckless brains 
That, to the wrong side leaning, 

Indite much metre with much pains, 
And little or no meaning : 

Ah why, since oceans, rivers, streams, 

That water all the nations, 
Pay tribute to thy glorious beams, 

In constant exhalations ; 

Why, stooping from the noon of day, 

Too covetous of drink, 
Apdllo, hast thou stolen away 

A poet's drop of ink ? 

TJpbornc into the viewless air, 
It floats a vapour now, 



Impelled through regions dense and rare 
By all the winds that blow. 

Ordained, perhaps, ere summer flic*. 

Combined with millions more, 
To form an Iris in the skies, 

Though black and foul before. 

Illustrious drop ! and happy then 

Beyond the happiest lot, 
( >l all tli:it over passed my pen, 
on to be forgot ! 

Phoebus, if such be thy design, 
To place it in thy bow, 

Give wit, that what is left may shine 
With equal grace below. 



PAIRING TIME AXHCIPATED. 



3'3 



THE POETS XI W-YEAR'S GIFT. 

TO MRS, (AFTERWARDS LADY) THROCK.Mii 



Maria ! I have every good 
For thee wished many a time, 

Both sad and in a cheerful mood, 
But never yet in rhyme. 

To wish thee fairer is no need, 
More prudent, or more sprightly, 

Or more ingenious, or more freed 
From temper-flaws unsightly. 

What favour then not yet possessed 
Can I for thee require, 



In wedded love already blessed 
To thy whole heart's desire? 

None here is happy but in part ; 

Full bliss is bliss divine ; 
There dwells some wish in ever)' heart, 

And doubtless one in thine. 

That wish, on some fair future day 
Which Fate shall brightly gild, 

('Tis blameless, be it what it may) 
I wish it all fulfilled. 



PAIRING TIME ANTICIPATED.* 

A FABLE. 

I shall not ask Jean Jacques Rousseau 

Tf birds confabulate or no ; 

'Tis clear that they were always able 

To hold discourse, at least in fable ; 

And even the child who knows no better 

Than to interpret by the letter 

A story of a cock and bull, 

Must have a most uncommon skull. 

It chanced then on a winter's day, 
But warm and bright and calm as May, 
The birds, conceiving a design 
To forestall sweet St. Valentine, 
In many an orchard, copse, and grove, 
Assembled on affairs of love, 
And with much twitter and much chatter 
Began to agitate^ the matter. 
At length a Bullfinch, who could boast 
More years and wisdom than the most, 
Entreated, opening wide his beak, 
A moment's liberty to speak ; 
And, silence publicly enjoined, 
Delivered briefly thus his mind : 



* It was one of the whimsical speculations of this philosopher, that all fables which ascribe 
reason and speech to animals should be withheld from children, as being only vehicles of decep- 
tion. But what child was ever deceived by them, or can be, against the evidence of his senses ? 



314 PAIRING TIME ANTICIPATED. 



"My friends ! be cautious how ye treat 
The subject upon which we meet ; 
I fear we shall have winter yet." 

A Finch, whose tongue knew no control, 
With golden wing and satin poll, 
A last year's bird, who ne'er had tried 
What marriage means, thus pert replied : 

" Methinks the gentleman,'' quoth she, 
" Opposite in the apple tree, 
By his good mil would keep us single 
Till yonder heaven and earth shall mingle j 
Or (which is likelier to befall) 
Till death exterminate us all. 
I marry without more ado ; 
My dear Dick Redcap, what say you?" 

Dick heard, and tweedling, ogling, bridling, 
Turning short round, strutting, and sidling, 
Attested, glad, his approbation 
Of an immediate conjugation. 
Their sentiments so well expressed 
Influenced mightily the rest ; 
All paired, and each pair built a nest. 

But though the birds were thus in haste, 
The leaves came on not quite so fast, 
And Destiny, that sometimes bears 
An aspect stem on man's affairs, 
Not altogether smiled on theirs. 
The wind, of late breathed gently forth, 
Now shifted east, and east by north ; 
Bare trees and shrubs but ill, you know, 
Could shelter them from rain or snow : 
Stepping into their nests, they paddled, 
Themselves were chilled, their eggs were addled 
Soon every father-bird and mother 
Grew quarrelsome, and pecked each other, 
Parted without the least regret. 
Except that they had ever met, 
And learnt in future to be wiser 
Than to neglect a good adviser. 



Misses ! the tale that I relate 
This lesson seems to carry — 
Choose not alone a proper mate, 
But proper time to many. 



C A THAR IX A. 



3*5 



THE DOG AND THE WATER-LILY. 



NO FABLE. 



The noon was shady, and soft airs 

Swept < )use's silent tide, 
When, 'scaped from literary cares, 

I wandered on his side. 

My spaniel, prettiest of his race, 

And high in pedigree, 
(Two nymphs* adorned with every grace 

That spaniel found for me) 

Now wantoned, lost in flags and reeds, 

Now starting into sight, 
Pursued the swallow o'er the meads 

With scarce a slower flight. 

It was the time when Ouse displayed 

His lilies newly blown ; 
Their beauties I intent surveyed 

And one I wished my own. 

With cane extended far, I sought 

To steer it close to land ; 
But still the prize, though nearly caught, 

Escaped my eager hand. 

Beau marked my unsuccessful pains 
With fixed considerate face, 



And puzzling set his puppy brains 
To comprehend the case. 

But with a cherup clear and strong 

Dispersing all his dream, 
I thence withdrew, and followed long 

The windings of the stream. 

My ramble ended, I returned ; 

Beau, trotting far before, 
The floating wreath again discerned, 

And plunging left the shore. 

I saw him with that lily cropped 

Impatient swim to meet 
My quick approach, and soon he dropped 

The treasure at my feet. 

Charmed with the sight, "The world,'' 
I cried, 

" Shall hear of this thy deed : 
My dog shall mortify the pride 

Of man's superior breed : 

But chief myself I will enjoin, 

Awake at duty's call, 
To show a love as prompt as thine 

To Him who srives me all." 



CATHARINA. 

ADDRESSED TO MISS STAPLETON (AFTERWARDS MRS. COURTENAY). 



She came— she is gone — we have met — 
And meet perhaps never again ; 

The sun of that moment is set, 
And seems to have risen in vain. 

Catharina has fled like a dream — 
vanishes pleasure, alas !) 

But has left a regret and esteem 
That will not so suddenly pass. 



The last evening ramble we made, — 

Catharina, Maria, and I, — 
Our progress was often delayed 

By the nightingale warbling nigh. 
We paused under many a tree, 

And much she was charmed with a tone 
Less sweet to Maria and me, 

Who so lately had witnessed her own. 



* Sir Robert Gunning's daughters. 



3 l6 



THE MORALIZER CORRECTED. 



My numbers that day she had sung, 

And gave them a grace so divine, 
As only her musical tongue 

Could infuse into numbers of mine. 
The longer I heard, I esteemed 

The work of my fancy the more, 
And e'en to myself never seemed 

So tuneful a poet before. 

Though the pleasures of London exceed 

In number the days of the year, 
Catharina, did nothing impede, 

Would feel herself happier here : 
For the close-woven arches of limes 

On the banks of our river, I know, 
Are sweeter to her many times 

Than all that the city can show. 

So it is, when the mind is endued 
With a well-judging taste from above, 

Then, whether embellished or rude, 
'Tis nature alone that we love. 



The achievements of art may amuse, 
May even our wonder excite ; 

But groves, hills, and valleys, diffuse 
A lasting, a sacred delight. 

Since then in the rural recess 

Catharina alone can rejoice, 
May it still be her lot to possess 

The scene of her sensible choice ! 
To inhabit a mansion remote 

From the clatter of street-pacing steeds, 
And by Philomel's annual note 

To measure the life that she leads. 

With her book, and her voice, and her 
lyre, 

To wing all her moments at home ; 
And with scenes that new rapture inspire, 

As oft as it suits her to roam ; 
She will have just the life she prefers, 

With little to hope or to fear, 
And ours would be pleasant as hers, 

Might we view her enjoying it here. 



THE MORALIZER CORRECTED. 



A hermit (or if 'chance you hold 

That title now too trite and old), 

A man once young, who lived retired 

As hermit could have well desired, 

His hours of study closed at last, 

And finished his concise repast, 

Stoppled his cruse, replaced his book 

Within its customary nook, 

And, staff in hand, set forth to share 

The sober cordial of sweet air, 

Like Isaac, witli a mind applied 

To serious thought at evening tide. 

Autumnal rains had made it chill, 

And from the trees that fringed his hill 

Shades slanting at the close of day 

Chilled more his else delightful way. 

Distant a little mile he 

A western bank's still sunn) 

And right toward the favoured place 

Proceeding with his nimblest pace, 

In hope to bask a little yet, 

Just reached it when the sun was set. 



I Your hermit, young and jovial >irs ! 
Learns something from whate'er occurs, 
And "Hence," he said, "my mind com- 
putes 

J The real worth of man's pursuits. 

! His object chosen, wealth or fame, 

[ Or other sublunary game, 

• Imagination to his view 

Presents it decked with every hue 

j That can seduce him not to spare 

1 His powers of best exertion there, 
But youth, health, vigour to expend 
On so desirable an end. 
Ere long approach life's evening shi 
The glow that fancy gave it fades ; 
And, earned too late, it wants the 

grace 
That first engaged him in th 

"True," answered an angelic guide, 
Attendant at the senior's side, — 
" Bui whether all the time it cost 
To urge the fruitless chase be lost, 



THE FAITHFUL IURD. 



3'7 



Must be decided by the worth 
Of that which called his ardour forth. 
Trifles pursued, whate'er the event, 
Must cause him -'nunc or discontent ; 
A vicious object still is w 
Successful there, lie wins a curse; 
But he whom, e'en in life's last stage, 
Endeavours laudable engage, 



Is paid at least in peace of mind, 
And sense of having well designed ; 
And if, ere he attain his end, 
llis sun precipitate descend, 
A brighter prize than that he meant 
Shall recompense his mere intent. 
No virtuous wish can bear a date 
Either too early or too late." 



THE FAITHFUL BIRD. 



The greenhouse is my summer seat ; 
My shrubs displaced from that retreat 

Enjoyed the open air ; 
Two goldfinches, whose sprightly song 
Had been their mutual solace long, 

Lived happy prisoners there. 

They sang as blithe as finches sing 
That flutter loose on golden wing, 

And frolic where they list ; 
Strangers to liberty, 'tis true, 
But that delight they never knew, 

And therefore never missed. 

But nature works in every breast, 
With force not easily suppressed ; 

And Dick felt some desires, 
That, after many an effort vain, 
Instructed him at length to gain 

A pass between his wires. 



The open windows seemed to invite 
The freeman to a farewell flight ; 

But Tom was still confined ; 
And Dick, although his way was clear, 
Was much too generous and sincere 

To leave his friend behind. 

So settling on his cage, by play, 

And chirp, and kiss, he seemed to say, 

" You must not live alone ; " — 
Nor would he quit that chosen stand 
Till I, with slow and cautious hand, 

Returned him to his own. 

O ye, who never taste the joys 
Of friendship, satisfied with noise, 

Fandango, ball, and rout ! 
Blush when I tell you how a bird 
A prison with a friend preferred 

To liberty without. 



THE NEEDLESS ALARM. 



There is a field through which I often pass, 
Thick overspread with moss and silky grass, 
Adjoining close to Kilwick's echoing wood, 
Where oft the bitch-fox hides her hapless brood, 
Reserved to solace many a neighbouring squire, 
That he may follow them through brake and brier, 
Contusion hazarding of neck or spine, 
Which rural gentlemen call sport divine. 
A narrow brook, by rushy banks concealed, 
Runs in a bottom, and divides the field ; 
Oaks intersperse it, that had once a head, 
But now wear crests of oven-wood instead ; 



3 i8 THE NEEDLESS ALARM. 



And where the land slopes to its watery bourn 
Wide yawns a gulf beside a ragged thorn ; 
Bricks line the sides, but shivered long ago, 
And horrid brambles intertwine below ; 
A hollow scooped, I judge, in ancient time, 
For baking earth, or burning rock to lime. 

Not yet the hawthorn bore her berries red, 
With which the fieldfare, wintry guest, is fed ; 
Nor Autumn yet had brushed from every spray, 
With her chill hand, the mellow leaves away ; 
But corn was housed, and beans were in the stack ; 
Now therefore issued forth the spotted pack, 
With tails high mounted, ears hung low, and throats 
With a whole gamut filled of heavenly notes, 
For which, alas ! my destiny severe, 
Though ears she gave me two, gave me no ear. 

The sun, accomplishing his early march, 
His lamp now planted on heaven's topmost arch, 
When, exercise and air my only aim, 
And heedless whither, to that field I came, 
Ere yet with ruthless joy the happy hound 
Told hill and dale that Reynard's track was found, 
Or with the high-raised horn's melodious clang 
All Kilwick* and all Dinglederry* rang. 

Sheep grazed the field ; some with soft bosom pressed 
The herb as soft, while nibbling strayed the rest ; 
Nor noise was heard but of the hasty brook, 
Struggling, detained in many a petty nook. 
All seemed so peaceful, that from them conveyed, 
To me their peace by kind contagion spread. 

But when the huntsman, with distended cheek, 
'Gan make his instrument of music speak, 
And from within the wood that crash was heard, 
Though not a hound from whom it burst appeared, 
The sheep recumbent and the sheep that grazed, 
All huddling into phalanx, stood and g 
Admiring, terrified, the novel strain, 

Then coursed the field around, and coursed it round again ; 
But recollecting, with a sudden thought, 
That flight in circles urged advanced them nought, 
They gathered close around the old pit's brink, 
And thought again— hut knew not what to think. 

The i. Hide accustomed long 

Perceives in every thing that lives a tongue ; 
Not animal * shrubs and trees 

Have speech for him, and understood with case ; 
After long drought, when rains abundant fall, 
1! In;,; the! rbs and flowers rejoicing all ; 
Knows what the freshness of their hue impli 
How glad they catch the largess of the skies; 

I wo woods belonging to John l n 



THE NEEDLESS A LA R M 310 



But, with precision nicer still, the mind 

He scans of every locomotive k> 

Birds of all feather, beasts of every name, 

That serve mankind or shun them, wild or tame ; 

The looks and gestures of their griefs and fears 

all articulation in his ears ; 
He spells them true by intuition's light, 
And needs no glossary to set him right. 

This truth premised was needful as a text, 
To win due credence to what follows next. 

Awhile they mused ; sun-eying every face, 
Thou hadst supposed them of superior race ; 
Their periwigs of wool and fears combined 
Stamped on each countenance such marks of mind, 
That sage they seemed, as lawyers o'er a doubt, 
Which, puzzling long, at last they puzzle out; 
I Or academic tutors, teaching youths, 
I Sure ne'er to want them, mathematic truths; 
When thus a mutton statelier than the rest, 
A Ram, the ewes and wethers sad addressed : 

" Friends ! we have lived too long. I never heard 
Sounds such as these, so worthy to be feared. 
Could I believe, that winds for ages pent 
In earth's dark womb have found at last a vent, 
And from their prison-house below arise, 
With all these hideous howlings to the skies, 
I could be much composed, nor should appear, 
For such a cause, to feel the slightest fear. 
Yourselves have seen, what time the thunders rolled 
All night, me resting quiet in the fold. 
Or heard we that tremendous bray alone, 
I could expound the melancholy tone' ; 
Should deem it by our old companion made, 
The Ass ; for he, we know, has lately strayed, 
And being lost, perhaps, and wandering wide, 
Might be supposed to clamour for a guide. 
But ah ! those dreadful yells what soul can hear 
That owns a carcass, and not <|uake for fear? 
Demons produce them doubtless, brazen-clawed. 
And fanged with brass, the demons are abroad ; 
I hold it therefore wisest and most fit 
That, life to save, we leap into the pit." 

Him answered then his loving mate and true, 
But more discreet than he, a Cambrian Ewe : 

" How ! leap into the pit our life to save? 
To save our life leap all into the grave ? 
For can we find it less ? Contemplate first 
The depth how awful ! falling there, we burst : 
Or should the brambles interposed our fall 
In part abate, that happiness were small ; 
For with a race like theirs no chance I see 
Of peace or ease to creatures clad as we. 



3 20 ON RECEIPT OF MY MOTHER 'S PICTURE. 



Meantime, noise kills not. Be it Dapple's bray, 
Or be it not, or be it whose it may, 
And rash those other sounds, that seem by tongues 
Of demons uttered, from whatever lungs, 
Sounds are but sounds, and, till the cause appear, 
We have at least commodious standing here. 
Come fiend, come fury, giant, monster, blast 
From earth or hell, we can but plunge at last." 

While thus she spake, I fainter heard the peals, 
For Reynard, close attended at his heeks 
By panting dog, tired man, and spattered horse, 
Through mere good fortune took a different course. 
The flock grew calm again, and I, the road 
Following, that led me to my own abode, 
Much wondered that the silly sheep had found 
Such cause of terror in an empty sound, 
So sweet to huntsman, gentleman, and hound. 



Beware of desperate steps. The darkest day, 
Live till to-morrow, will have passed away. 



ON THE RECEIPT OF MY MOTHER'S PICTURE 
OUT OF NORFOLK ; 

THE GIFT OF MY COUSIN, ANN BODHAM. 

On that those lips had language ! Life has passed 
With me but roughly since I heard thee last. 
Those lips are thine — thy own sweet smile I see, 
The same that oft in childhood solaced me ; 
Voice only fails, else how distinct they say, 
" Grieve not, my child, chase all thy fears away ! " 
The meek intelligence of those dear eyes 
(Blessed be the art that can immortalize, 
The art that baffles Time's tyrannic claim 
In quench it) here slimes on me still the same. 
Faithful remembrancer of one so dear, 

welcome guest, though unexpected here ! 
Who bidst me honour with an artless song, 
Affectionate, a mother lost so long, 

1 will obey, not willingly alone, 

Bu gladly, as the precept were her own : 
And, while that face renews my filial grief, 
Fancy shall weave a charm for my I 
Shall steep me in Elysian reverie, 
A momentary dream that thou arl she. 

My mother ! when 1 learnt that thou wast dead, 
Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed ? 



O.V RECEIPT OF MY MOTHER'S PICTURE. 321 



Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son, 

Wretch even then, life's journey just begun? 

Perhaps thou gavest me, though unfelt, a kiss : 

Ferhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bits 

Ah, that maternal smile ! It answers —Yes. 

I heard the bell tolled on thy burial day, 

I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away, 

And, turning from my nursery window, drew 

A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu ! 

But was it such? — It was. — Where thou art gone 

Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown. 

May I but meet thee on that peaceful shore, 

The parting word shall pass my lips no more ! 

Thy maidens, grieved themselves at my concern, 

Oft gave me promise of thy quick return. 

What ardently I wished I long believed, 

And, disappointed still, was still deceived. 

By expectation every day beguiled, 

Dupe of to-morrow even from a child. 

Thus many a sad to-morrow came and went, 

Tdl, all my stock of infant sorrow spent, 

I learnt at last submission to my lot ; 

But, though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot. 

Where once we dwelt our name is heard no more, 
Children not thine have trod my nursery floor ; 
And where the gardener Robin, day by day, 
Drew me to school along the public way, 
Delighted with my bauble coach, and wrapped 
In scarlet mantle warm, and velvet capped, 
'Tis now become a history little known, 
That once we called the pastoral house our own. 
Short dived possession ! but the record fair 
That memory keeps, of all thy kindness there, 
Still outlives many a storm that has effaced 
A thousand other themes less deeply traced. 
Thy nightly visits to my chamber made, 
That thou mightst know me safe and warmly laid ; 
Thy morning bounties ere I left my home, 
The biscuit, or confectionary plum ; 
The fragrant waters on my cheek bestowed 
By thy own hand, till fresh they shone and glowed ; 
All this, and more endearing still than all, 
Thy constant flow of love, that knew no fall, 
Ne'er roughened by those cataracts and brakes 
That humour interposed too often makes ; 
All this still legible in memory's page, 
And still to be so to my latest age, 
Adds joy to duty, makes me glad to pay 
Such honours to thee as my numbers may; 
Perhaps a frail memorial, but sincere, 
Not scorned in heaven, though little noticed here. 

Could Time, his flight reversed, restore the hours, 



322 ON RECEIPT OF MY MOTHER'S PICTURE. 

When, playing with thy vesture's tissued flowers, 

The violet, the pink, and jessamine, 

I pricked them into paper with a pin 

(And thou wast happier than myself the while, 

Wouldst softly speak, and stroke my head and smile), 

Could those few pleasant days again appear, 

Might one wish bring them, would I wish them here ? 

I would not trust my heart — the dear delight 

Seems so to be desired, perhaps I might. — 

But no — what here we call our life is such 

So little to be loved, and thou so much, 

That I should ill requite thee to constrain 

Thy unbound spirit into bonds again. 

Thou, as a gallant bark from Albion's coast 
(The storms all weathered and the ocean crossed) 
Shoots into port at some well-havened isle, 
Where spices breathe, and brighter seasons smile, 
There sits quiescent on the floods that show 
Her beauteous form reflected clear below, 
While airs impregnated with incense play 
Around her, fanning light her streamers gay ; 
So thou, with sails how swift ! hast reached the shori 
"Where tempests never beat nor billows roar,"* 
And thy loved consort on the dangerous tide 
Of life long since has anchored by thy side. 
But me, scarce hoping to attain that rest, 
Always from port withheld, always distressed — 
Me howling blasts drive devious, tempest tost, 
Sails ripped, seams opening wide, and compass 1< -:, 
And day by day some current's thwarting force 
Sets me more distant from a prosperous course. 
Yet, oh, the thought that thou art safe, and he ! 
That thought is joy, arrive what may to me. 
My boast is not, that I deduce my birth 
From loins enthroned and rulers of the earth ; 
But higher far my proud pretensions rise — 
The son of parents passed into the skies ! 
And now, farewell — Time unrevoked has run 
His wonted course, yet what I wished is done. 
By contemplation's help, not sought in vain, 
I seem to have lived my childhood o'er again ; 
To have renewed the joys that once were mine, 
Without the sin of violating thine : 
And, while the wings of Fancy still are free, 
And I can view this mimic show of thee, 
Time has but half succeeded in his theft — 
Thyself removed, thy power to soothe me left. 

* Garth. 



THE POPLAR FIELD. 323 



THE POPLAR FIELD. 

THE poplars arc felled ; farewell to the shad'-, 
And the whispering sound of the cool colonnade 
The winds play no longer and sing in the leaves, 
Nor Ouse on his bosom their image receives. 

Twelve years have elapsed since I first took a view 
Of my favourite field, and the bank where they grew 
And now in the grass behold they are laid, 
And the tree is my seat that once lent me a shade ! 

The blackbird has fled to another retreat, 
Where the hazels afford him a screen from the heat, 
And the scene where his melody charmed me before 
Resounds with his sweet-flowing ditty no more. 

My fugitive years are all hasting away, 

And I must ere long lie as lowly as they, 

With a turf on my breast, and a stone at my head, 

Ere another such grove shall arise in its stead. 

'Tis a sight to engage me, if anything can, 
To muse on the perishing pleasures of man ; 
Though his life be a dream, his enjoyments, I see, 
Have a being less durable even than he.* 



IDEM LATINE REDDITUM. 

Popule.e cecidit gratissima copia silvae, 
Conticuere susurri, omnisque evanuit umbra. 
Nulla; jam levibus se miscent frondibus aura;, 
Et nulla in fluvio ramorum ludit imago. 

Hei mihi ! bis senos dum luctu torqueor annos, 
His cogor siivis suetoque carere recessu, 
Cum sero rediens, stratasque in gramme cernens, 
Insedi arboribus, sub queis errare solebam. 

Ah ubi nunc merulaa cantus ? Felicior ilium 
Silva tegit, dura? nondum permissa bipenni ; 
Scilicet exustos colles camposque patentes 
Odit, et indignans et non rediturus abivit. 

Sed qui succisas doleo succidar et ipse, 
Et priiis huic parilis quam creverit altera silva 
Flebor, et, exequiis parvis donatus, habebo 
Defixum lapidem tumulique cubantis acervum. 

tfott to Ed. of 1803. Mr. Cowper afterwards altered this last stanza in the following manner : 
The change both my heart and my fancy employs, 
I reflect on the frailty of man and his joys ; 
Short-lived as we are, yet our pleasures, we see, 
Have a still shorter date, and die sooner than we. 

Y 2 



324 



EPITAPH ON A HARE. 



Tarn subito periisse videns tam digna manere, 
Agnosco hum anas sorles et tristia fata — 
Sit licet ipse bre vis, volucrique simillimus umbrae, 
Est homini brevior citiiisque obitura voluptas. 



INSCRIPTION FOR THE TOMB OF MR. HAMILTON. 

Pause here, and think : a monitory rhyme 
Demands one moment of thy fleeting time. 

Consult life's silent clock, thy bounding vein ; 
Seems it to say, " Health here has long to reign " ? 
Hast thou the vigour of thy youth? — an eye 
That beams delight ? — a heart untaught to sigh ? 
Yet fear. Youth, ofttimes healthful and at ease, 
Anticipates a day it never sees ; 
And many a tomb, like Hamilton's, aloud 
Exclaims, " Prepare thee for an early shroud." 






EPITAPH ON A HARE. 



1 1 I'.ke lies, whom hound did ne'erpursue, 
Nor swifter greyhound follow, 

Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew, 
Nor ear heard huntsman's halloo ; 

Old Tiney, surliest of his kind, 
Who, nursed with tender care, 

And to domestic bounds confined, 
Was still a wild Jack hare. 

Though duly from my hand he took 

His pittance every night, 
He did it with a jealous look, 

And, when he could, would bite. 

His diet was of wheaten bread, 
And milk, and oats, and straw ; 

Thistles, or lettuces instead, 
With sand to scour his maw. 

On twigs of hawthorn he regaled, 

On pippins' russet peel, 
And, when his juicy salads failed, 

Sliced carrot pleased him well. 

A Turkey carpet was his lawn, 
Whereon he loved to bound, 



To skip and gambol like a fawn, 
And swing his rump around. 

His frisking was at evening hours, 

For then he lost his fear, 
But most before approaching showers, 

Or when a storm drew near. 

Eight years and five round-rolling moons 

He thus saw steal away, 
Dozing out all his idle noons, 

And every night at play. 

I kept him for his humour's sake, 

For he would oft beguile 
My heart of thoughts that made it ache, 

And force me to a smile. 

But now beneath this walnut shade 
He finds his long last home, 

And waits, in snug concealment laid, 
Till gentler Puss shall come. 

! I . -till more aged, feels the shocks 

m which no care can save, 
And, partner once of Tiney's box, 

Must soon partake his grave. 



EPITAPH ON A HARE. 325 



EPITAPIIIUM ALTERUM. 

I lie etiam jacet, 

Qui totum novennium vixit, 

Puss. 

Siste paulisper, 

Qui prKteritums es, 

Et tecum sic reputa — 

Ilunc neque canis venaticus, 

Nee plumbum missile, 

Nee laqueus, 

Nee imbres nimii, 

Confecere : 

Tamen mortuus est — 

Et moriar ego. 



POSTHUMOUS POEMS 



MIDDLE AND LATER LIFE. 

(This division includes some pieces published anonymously during the 
Author s lifetime. \ 

A TALE, FOUNDED ON A FACT 

WHICH HAPPENED IN JANUARY 1 779. 

Where Humber pours his rich commercial stream 

There dwelt a wretch, who breathed but to blaspheme ; 

In subterraneous caves his life he led, 

Black as the mine in which he wrought for bread. 

When on a day, emerging from the deep, 

A Sabbath-day, (such sabbaths thousands keep .') 

The wages of his weekly toil he bore 

To buy a cock — whose blood might win him more ; 

As if the noblest of the feathered kind 

Were but for battle and for death designed ; 

As if the consecrated hours were meant 

For sport to minds on cruelty intent ; 

It chanced (such chances Providence obey) 

He met a fellow-labourer on the way, 

Whose heart the same desires had once inflamed ; 

But now the savage temper was reclaimed, 

Persuasion on his lips had taken place ; 

For all plead well who plead the cause of grace. 

His iron heart with Scripture he assailed, 

Wooed him to hear a sermon, and prevailed. 

His faithful bow the mighty preacher drew ; 

Swift as the lightning-glimpse the arrow flew. 

He wept ; he trembled; cast his eyes around, 

To find a worse than he; but none he found. 

He felt his sins, and wondered he should feel ; 

Grace made the wound, and grace alone could heal. 

Now farewell oaths, and blasphemies, and lies ! 
He quits the sinner's for the martyr's prize. 
That holy day was washed with many a tear, 
Gilded with hope, yet shaded, too, by fear. 



328 



TO THE REV. MR. NEWTON. 



The next, his swarthy brethren of the mine 

Learned, by his altered speech, the change divine ! 

Laughed when they should have wept, and swore the day 

Was nigh when he would swear as fast as they. 

" No," said the penitent, — "such words shall share 

' ' This breath no more ; devoted now to prayer. 

" O ! if Thou seest (Thine eye the future sees) 

" That I shall yet again blaspheme, like these, 

" Xow strike me to the ground on which I kneel, 

" Ere yet this heart relapses into steel : 

" Xow take me to that heaven I once defied, 

' ' Thy presence, Thy embrace ! " — He spoke, and died ! 



TO THE REV. MR. NEWTON, 

ON HIS RETURN FROM RAMSGATE. 



That ocean you of late surveyed, 
Those rocks, I too have seen, 

But I afflicted and dismayed, 
You tranquil and serene. 

You from the flood-controlling steep 
Saw stretched before your view, 

With conscious joy, the threatening deep, 
No longer such to you. 
October, 1780. 



To me the waves that ceaseless broke 
Upon the dangerous coast, 

Hoarsely and ominously spoke 
Of all my treasure lost. 

Your sea of troubles you have past, 
And found the peaceful shore ; 

I, tempest-tossed, and wrecked at last, 
Come home to port no more. 



MONUMENTAL INSCRIPTION TO WILLIAM NORTHCOT. 

Hie sepultus est 
Inter suorum lacrymas 

GULIELMUS NORTHCOT, 
GULIELMI et MARI.E rilius 

Unicus, unice dilectus, 

Qui floris ritu succisus est semihiantis, 

Aprilis die septimo, 

1780, .lit. 10. 

Care, vale ! " Sed non a-teruum, care, valeto ! 

Namque iteriim tecum, sim modo dignus, ero. 
Turn nihil amplexus potent divellere nostras, 

Nee tu marcesces, nee lacrymaboi ego. 



TRANSLATION. 



FAREWELL ! " But not for ever," Hope replies ; 
Trace but his steps and meet him in the skies ! 
There nothing shall renew our parting pain ; 
Thou shalt not wither, nor I weep, ag.iiu. 



TO SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. 329 



RIDDLE. 

I AM just two and two, I am warm, I am cold, 
And the parent of numbers that cannot be told, 
I am lawful, unlawful — a duty, a fault, — 
I am often sold dear, good for nothing when bought 
An extraordinary boon, and a matter of course, 
And yielded with pleasure when taken by force. 
July, 178a 



TO SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. 

Dear President, whose art sublime 
Gives perpetuity to Time, 
And bids transactions of a day, 
That fleeting hours would waft away 
To dark futurity, survive, 
And in unfading beauty live, — 
You cannot with a grace decline 
A special mandate of the Nine — 
Yourself, whatever task you choose, 
So much indebted to the Muse. 

Thus say the sisterhood : — '\Ye come- 
Fix well your pallet on your thumb, 
Prepare the pencil and the tints — 
'\Ye come to furnish you with hints. 
French disappointment, British glory, 
Must be the subject of the story. 

First strike a curve, a graceful bow, 
Then slope it to a point below ; 
Your outline easy, airy, light, 
Filled up becomes a paper kite. 
Let Independence, sanguine, horrid, 
Blaze, like a meteor in the forehead : 
Beneath (but lay aside your graces) 
Draw six-and-twenty rueful faces, 
Each with a staring, steadfast eye, 
Fixed on his great and good ally. 
France flies the kite — 'tis on the wing — 
Britannia's lightning cuts the string. 
The wind that raised it, ere it ceases, 
Just rends it into thirteen pieces, 
Takes charge of every fluttering sheet, 
And lays them all at George's feet. 

Iberia, trembling from afar, 
Renounces the confederate war ; 
Her efforts and her arts o'ercome, 
France calls her shattered navies home : 



A XT/- THEL YPHTHORA. 



Repenting Holland learns to mourn 
The sacred treaties she has torn ; 
Astonishment and awe profound 
Are stamped upon the nations round : 
Without one friend, above all foes, 
Britannia gives the world repose. 



1781. 



IMPROMPTU ON READING THE CHAPTER ON POLYGAMY, IN 
MR. MADAN'S THELYPHTHORA. 

If John marries Mary, and Mary alone, 
'Tis a very good match between Mary and John. 
Should John wed a score, oh, the claws and the scratches ! 
It can't be a match — 'tis a bundle of matches. 
1780. 

ON A REVIEW CONDEMNING THELYPHTHORA. 

I have read the Review ; it is learned and wise, 
Clear, candid, and witty — Thelyphthora dies. 



ON MADAN'S ANSWER TO NEWTON'S COMMENTS 
ON THELYPHTHORA. 

M. quarrels with N., because M. wrote a book 
And N. did not like it, which M. could not brook ; 
So he called him a bigot, a wrangler, a monk, 
With as many hard names as would line a good trunk, 
And set up his back, and clawed like a cat ; 
But N. liked it never the better for that. 

Now N. had a wife, and he wanted but one, 
Which stuck in M.'s stomach as cross as a bone: 
It has always been reckoned a just cause of strife 
For a man to make free with another man's wife ; 
But the strife is the strangest that ever was known, 
If a man must be scolded for loving his own. 



ANTI-THELYPHTHORA. 

A TALE, IN VERSE. 

Ah miser, 
Quanta laboras in Charybdi ! 

Hor. Od. i. 27 






Airy DEL CASTRO was as bold a knight 
As ever earned a lady's love in fight. 
Many he sought, but one above the rest 
His tender heart victoriously impressed. 



ANTI-THEL YPHTHORA. 331 

In fairy-land was born the matchless dame, 

The land ol~ dreams, Hypothesis her name. 

There Fancy nursed her in ideal bowers, 

And laid her soft in amaranthine flowers ; 

Delighted with her babe, the enchantress smiled, 

And graced with all her gifts the favourite child. 

Her wooed Sir Airy, by meandering streams, 

In daily musings and in nightly dreams; 

With all the flowers he found, he wove in haste 

Wreaths for her brow, and girdles for her waist ; 

His time, his talents, and his ceaseless care, 

All consecrated to adorn the fair ; 

No pastime but with her he deigned to take, 

And if he studied, studied for her sake. 

And, for Hypothesis was somewhat long, 

Nor soft enough to suit a lover's tongue, 

He called her Posy, with an amorous art, 

And graved it on a gem, and wore it next his heart. 

But she, inconstant as the beams that play 
On rippling waters in an April day, 
With many a freakish trick deceived his pains, 
To pathless wilds and unfrequented plains 
Enticed him from his oaths of knighthood far, 
Forgetful of the glorious toils of war. 
'Tis thus the tenderness that Love inspires 
Too oft betrays the votaries of his tires ; 

Borne far away on elevated wings, 

They sport like wanton doves in airy rings, 

And laws and duties are neglected things. 
Nor he alone addressed the wayward fair, 

Full many a knight had been entangled there ; 

But still, whoever wooed her or embraced, 

On every mind some mighty spell she cast. 

Some she would teach (for she was wondrous wise, 

And made her dupes see all things with her eyes) 

That forms material, whatsoe'er we dream, 

Are not at all, or are not what they seem ; 

That substances and modes of every kind 

Are mere impressions on the passive mind ; 

And he that splits his cranium, breaks at most 

A fancied head against a fancied post : 

Others, that earth, ere sin had drowned it all, 

Was smooth and even as an ivory ball ; 

That all the various beauties we survey, 

Hills, valleys, rivers, and the boundless sea, 

Are but departures from the first design, 

Effects of punishment and wrath divine. 

She tutored some in Dasdalus's art, 

And promised they should act his wildgoose part, 

On waxen pinions soar without a fall, 
Swift as the proudest gander of them all. 
But fate reserved Sir Airy to maintain 



332 ANTI- THEL YPHTHORA. 



The wildest project of her teeming brain; — 
That wedlock is not rigorous, as supposed, 
But man, within a wider pale enclosed, 
May rove at will, where appetite shall lead, 
Free as the lordly bull that ranges o'er the mead ; 
That forms and rites are tricks of human law, 
As idle as the chattering of a daw ; 
That lewd incontinence, and lawless rape, 
Are marriage in its true and proper shape ; 
That man by faith and truth is made a slave, 
The ring a bauble, and the priest a knave. 

"Fair fall the deed !" the knight exulting cried, 
" Now is the time to make the maid a bride ! " 

'T'was on the noon of an autumnal day, 
October hight, but mild and fair as May ; 
When scarlet fruits the russet hedge adorn, 
And floating films envelop every thorn ; 
When gently as in June the rivers glide, 
And only miss the flowers that graced their side ; 
The linnet twittered out his parting song, 
With many a chorister the woods among ; 
On southern banks the ruminating sheep 
Lay snug and warm ; — 'twas Summer's farewell peep. 
Propitious to his fond intent there grew 
An arbour near at hand of thickest yew, 
With many a boxen bush close dipt between, 
And phillyrea of a gilded green. 

But what old Chaucer's merry page befits, 
The chaster muse of modern days omits. 
Suffice it then in decent terms to say, 
She saw, — and turned her rosy cheek away. 
Small need of prayer-book or of priest, I ween, 
Where parties are agreed, retired the scene, 
Occasion prompt, and appetite so keen. 
Hypothesis (for with such magic power 
Fancy endued her in her natal hour) 
From many a steaming lake and reeking bog, 
Bade rise in haste a dank and drizzling fog, 
That curtained round the scene where they reposed, 
And wood and lawn in dusky folds enclosed. 

Fear seized the trembling sex ; in eveiy grove 
They wept the wrongs of honourable love : 
" In vain," they cried, " are hymeneal rites, 
" Vain our delusive hope of constant knights ; 
" The marriage bond has lost its power t<> bind, 
" And flutters loose, the sport of every wind 
" The bride, while yet her bride's attire is on, 
" Shall mourn her absent lord, for he is gone, 
" Satiate of her, and weary of the same, 
" To distant wilds, in quest of other game. 
'' Yc fair Circassians ! all your lutes employ, 
" Seraglios sing, and harems dance for joy! 



A NTT- TTTEL YPTITTTORA. 



333 



' For British nymphs whose lords wore lately true, 

' Nymphs quite as fair, and happier once than you, 

' Honour, esteem, and confidence forgot, 

' Feel all the meanness of your slavish lot. 

' O curst Hypothesis ! your hellish arts 

' Seduce our husbands, and estrange their hearts. 

' Will none arise? no knight who still retains 

' The blood of ancient worthies in his veins, 

' To assert the charter of the chaste and fair, 

' Find out her treacherous heart, and plant a dagger there: 

' A knight (can he that serves the fair do less?) 

' Starts at the call of beauty in distress ; 

' And he that does not, whatsoe'er occurs, 

' Is recreant, and unworthy of his spurs." * 

Full many a champion, bent on hardy deed, 
Called for his arms and for his princely steed. 
So swarmed the Sabine youth, and grasped the shield, 
When Roman rapine, by no laws withheld, 
Lest Rome should end with her first founders' lives, 
Made half their maids, sans ceremony, wives. 
But not the mitred few ; the soul their charge, 
They left these bodily concerns at large ; 
Forms or no forms, pluralities or pairs, 
Right reverend sirs ! was no concern of theirs. 
The rest, alert and active as became 
A courteous knighthood, caught the generous flame ; 
One was accoutred when the cry began, 
Knight of the Silver Moon, Sir Marmadan.+ 

Oft as his patroness, who rules the night, 
Hangs out her lamp in yon caerulean height, 
His vow was (and he well performed his vow), 
Armed at all points, with terror on his brow, 
To judge the land, to purge atrocious crimes, 
And quell the shapeless monsters of the times. 
For cedars famed, fair Lebanon supplied 
The well-poised lance that quivered at his side ; 
Truth armed it with a point so keen, so just, 
No spell or charm was proof against the thrust. 
He couched it firm upon his puissant thigh, 
And darting through his helm an eagle's eye, 
On all the wings of chivalry advanced 
To where the fond Sir Airy lay entranced. 

He dreamt not of a foe, or if his fear 
Foretold one, dreamt not of a foe so near. 
Far other dreams his feverish mind employed, 
Of rights restored, variety enjoyed ; 
Of virtue too well fenced to fear a flaw ; 
Vice passing current by the stamp of law; 
Large population on a liberal plan, 



' When a knight was degraded, hi? spurs were chopped off. 
+ " Monthly Review " for October [1780]. 



334 LOVE ABUSED. 



And woman trembling at the foot of man ; 

How simple wedlock fornication works, 

And Christians marrying may convert the Turks. 

The trumpet now spoke Marmadan at hand, 
A trumpet that was heard through all the land. 
His high-bred steed expands his nostrils wide, 
And snorts aloud to cast the mist aside ; 
But he, the virtues of his lance to show, 
Struck thrice the point upon his saddle-bow; 
Three sparks ensued that chased it all away, 
And set the unseemly pair in open day. 
" To horse !" he cried, " or, by this good right hand 
" And better spear, I smite you where you stand." 

Sir Airy, not a whit dismayed or scai'ed, 
Buckled his helm, and to his steed repaired, 
Whose bridle, while he cropped the grass below, 
Hung not far off upon a myrtle bough. 
He mounts at once, — such confidence infused 
The insidious witch that had his wits abused ; 
And she, regardless of her softer kind, 
Seized fast the saddle and sprang up behind. 
" Oh, shame to knighthood !" his assailant cried; 
" Oh, shame ! " ten thousand echoing nymphs replied. 
Placed with advantage at his listening ear, 
She whispered still that he had nought to fear, 
That he was cased in such enchanted steel, 
So polished and compact from head to heel, 
" Come ten, come twenty, should an army call 
Thee to the field, thou shouldst withstand them all." 

" By Dian's beams ! " Sir Marmadan exclaimed, 
" The guiltiest still are ever least ashamed ! 
" But guard thee well, expect no feigned attack ; 
" And guard beside the sorceress at thy back !" 

He spoke indignant, and his spurs applied, 
Though little need, to his good palfrey's side : 
The barb sprang forward, and his lord, whose force 
Was equal to the swiftness of his horse, 
Rushed with a whirlwind's fury on the foe, 
And, Phineas like, transfixed them at a blow. 

Then sang the married and the maiden throng. 
Love graced the theme, and harmony the song; 
The Fauns and Satyrs, a lascivious race, 
Shrieked at the sight, and, conscious, fled the place : 
And Hymen, trimming his dim torch anew, 
His snowy mantle o'er his shoulders threw ; 
lie turned, and viewed it oft on every side, 
And reddening with a just and generous pride, 
Blessed the glad beams of that propitious day, 
The spot he loathed so much for ever cleansed away. 






1781. 



IN SEDITIONEM IIORREXDAM. 33: 



LOVE ABUSED. 

What is there in the vale of life 
Half so delightful as a \\ 'ife, 
When friendship, love, and peace combine 
To stamp the marriage-bond divine? 
The stream of pure and genuine love 
Derives its current from above; 
And earth a second Eden shows, 
Where'er the healing water flows : 
But ah, if, from the dykes and drains 
Of sensual nature's feverish veins, 
Lust, like a lawless headstrong flood, 
Impregnated with ooze and mud, 
Descending fast on every side, 
Once mingles with the sacred tide, 
Farewell the soul-enlivening scene ! 
The banks that wore a smiling green, 
With rank defilement overspread, 
Bewail their flowery beauties dead. 
The stream polluted, dark, and dull, 
Diffused into a Stygian pool, 
Through life's last melancholy years 
Is fed with ever-flowing tears : 
Complaints supply the zephyr's part, 
And si"hs that heave a breaking heart. 



IN SEDITIONEM HORRENDAM, 

CORRUPTELIS GALLICIS, UT FERTUR, LONDINI NITER EXORTAM. 

Perfida, crudelis, victa et lymphata furore, 

Xon armis, laurum Gallia fraude petit. 
Venalem pretio plebem conducit, et urit 

Undique privatas patriciasque domos. 

Nequicqnam conata sua, fcedissima sperat 

Posse tamen nostra nos superare manu. 
Gallia, vana struis ! Precibus nunc utere ! Vinces 

Nam mites timidis supplicibusque sumus. 

TRANSLATION". 

False, cruel, disappointed, stung to the heart, 
France quits the warrior's for the assassin's part, 
To dirty hands a dirty bribe conveys, 
Bids the low street and lofty palace blaze. 
Her sons too weak to vanquish us alone, 
She hires the worst and basest of our own. 
Kneel, France ! a suppliant conquers us with ease, 
We always spare a coward on his knees. 
1780. 



53 6 ON THE HIGH PRICE OF FISH. 



A CARD. 

Poor Vestris, grieved beyond all measure, 

To have incurred so much displeasure, 

Although a Frenchman, disconcerted, 

And though light-heeled, yet heavy-hearted, 

Begs humbly to inform his friends, 

Next first of April he intends 

To take a boat and row right down 

To Cuckold's-Point from Richmond town ; 

And as he goes, alert and gay, 

Leap all the bridges in his way. 

The beat, borne downward with the tide, 

Shall catch him safe on t'other side. 

He humbly hopes by this expedient 

To prove himself their most obedient, 

(Which shall be always his endeavour,) 

And jump into the former favour. 



1781. 



Cocoa-nut naught, 

Fish too dear, 
None must be bought 

For us that are here 



No lobster on earth, 
That ever I saw, 

To me would be worth 
Sixpence a claw. 
Aug. 1781. 



ON THE HIGH PRICE OF FISH. 

(TO MRS. NEWTON.) 

So, dear Madam, wait 
Till fish can be got 

At a reasonable rate, 
Whether lobster or not. 

Till the French and the Dutch 
Have quitted the seas, 

And then send as much 
And as oft as you please. 



TO MRS. NEWTON. 

Sept 16, 1781. 
A NOBLE theme demands a noble verse ; 
In such I thank you for your fine oystox 
The barrel was magnificently large, 
But, being sent to Olney at free charge, 
Was not inserted in the driver's list, 
And therefore overlooked, forgot, or missed ; 
For, when the messenger whom we despatched 
Inquired for oysters, Hob his noddle scratched, 
Denying that his waggon or his wain 
Did any such commodity contain. 
In consequence of which your welcome boon 
Did not arrive till yesterday at noon ; 
In consequence of which some chanced to die, 
And some, though very sweet, were very dry. 
Now Madam says, (and what she says must still 
Deserve attention, say she what she will,) 



A POETICAL EPISTLE 10 LADY AUSTEN. 337 

That what we call the Diligence, be-case 
It goes to London with a swifter pace, 
Would belter suit the carriage of your gift, 
Returning downward with a pace as swift ; 
Ami therefore recommends it with this aim — 
To save at least three days, — the price the same ; 
For though it will not carry or convey 
For less than twelve pence, send whate'er you may, 
For oysters, bred upon the salt sea-shore, 
Packed in a barrel, they will charge no more. 
News have I none that I can deign to write, 
Save that it rained prodigiously last night, 
And that ourselves were, at the seventh hour, 
Caught in the first beginning of the shower ; 
But walking, running, and with much ado, 
Got home — just time enough to be wet through. 
Yet both are well, and, wondrous to be told, 
Soused as we were, we yet have caught no cold ; 
And wishing just the same good hap to you, 
We say, good Madam, and good Sir, Adieu ! 



A POETICAL EPISTLE TO LADY AUSTEN. 

Dear Anna — between friend and friend, 
Prose answers every common end ; 
Serves, in a plain and homely way, 
To express the occurrence of the day ; 
Our health, the weather, and the news, 
What walks we take, what books we chuse, 
And all the floating thoughts we find 
Upon the surface of the mind. 

But when a poet takes the pen, 
Far more alive than other men, 
He feels a gentle tingling come 
Down to his finger and his thumb, 
Derived from nature's noblest part, 
The centre of a glowing heart : 
And this is what the world, who knows 
No flights above the pitch of prose, 
His more sublime vagaries slighting, 
Denominates an itch for writing. 
No wonder I, who scribble rhyme 
To catch the triflers of the time, 
And tell them truths divine and clear, 
Which, couched in prose, they will not hear ; 
Who labour hard to allure and draw 
The loiterers I never saw, 
Should feel that itching and that tingling 
With all my purpose intermingling, 
To your intrinsic merit true, 
When called to address myself to you. 



53« A POETICAL EPISTLE TO LADY AUSTEN. 

Mysterious are His ways, whose power 
Brings forth that unexpected hour, 
When minds that never met before, 
Shall meet, unite, and part no more : 
It is the allotment of the skies, 
The hand of the Supremely Wise, 
That guides and governs our affections, 
And plans and orders our connexions : 
Directs us in our distant road, 
And marks the bounds of our abode. 
Thus we were settled when you found us, 
Peasants and children all around us, 
Not dreaming of so dear a friend, 
Deep in the abyss of Silver-End. 
Thus Martha, even against her will, 
Perched on the top of yonder hill ; 
And you, though you must needs prefer 
The fairer scenes of sweet Sancerre, 
Are come from distant Loire to chuse 
A cottage on the banks of Ouse. 
This page of Providence quite new, 
And now just opening to our view, 
Employs our present thoughts and pains 
To guess and spell what it contains : 
But day by day, and year by year, 
Will make the dark enigma clear ; 
And furnish us, perhaps, at last, 
Like other scenes already past, 
With proof, that we, and our affairs, 
Are part of a Jehovah's cares ; 
For God unfolds by slow degrees 
The purport of His deep decrees ; 
Sheds every hour a clearer light 
In aid of our defective sight ; 
And spreads, at length, before the soul, 
A beautiful and perfect whole, 
Which busy man's inventive brain 
Toils to anticipate, in vain. 

Say, Anna, had you never known 
The beauties of a rose full blown, 
Could you, though luminous your eye, 
By looking on the bud, descry, 
Or guess, with a prophetic power, 
The future splendour of the flower? 
Just so the Omnipotent, who turns 
The system of a world's concerns, 
From mere minutia? can educe 
Events of most important use, 
And bid a dawning sky display 
The blaze of a meridian day. 
The works of man tend, one and all, 
As needs they must, from great to small ; 



THE FLATTING MILL. 339 



And vanity absorbs at length 
The monuments of human strength. 
But who can tell how vast the plan 
Which this day's incident began? 
Too small, perhaps, the slight occasion 
For our dim-sighted observation ; 
It passed unnoticed, as the bird 
That cleaves the yielding air unheard, 
And yet may prove, when understood, 
A harbinger of endless good. 

Not that I deem, or mean to call, 
Friendship a blessing cheap or small : 
But merely to remark, that ours, 
Like some of Nature's sweetest flowers, 
Rose from a seed of tiny size, 
That seemed to promise no such prize ; 
A transient visit intervening, 
And made almost without a meaning, 
(Hardly the effect of inclination, 
Much less of pleasing expectation.) 
Produced a friendship, then begun, 
That has cemented us in one ; 
And placed it in our power to prove, 
By long fidelity and love, 
That Solomon has wisely spoken, — 
" A threefold cord is not soon broken.' 1 



ijt/i Dec. \-]%\. 



THE FLATTING MILL. 

AN ILLUSTRATION. 

WHEN a bar of pure silver or ingot of gold 
Is sent to be flatted or wrought into length, 

It is passed between cylinders often, and rolled 
In an engine of utmost mechanical strength. 

Thus tortured and squeezed, at last it appears 
Like a loose heap of ribbon, a glittering show, 

Like music it tinkles and rings in your ears, 
And warmed by the pressure, is all in a glow. 

This process achieved, it is doomed to sustain 
The thump after thump of a gold-beater's mallet, 

And at last is of service in sickness or pain 
To cover a pill for a delicate palate. 

Alas for the poet ! who dares undertake 
To urge reformation of national ill — 

His head and his heart are both likely to ache 
With the double employment of mallet and mill. 



340 TO THE REV. MR. NEWTON. 

If he wish to instruct, he must learn to delight ; 

Smooth, ductile, and even, his fancy must flow, 
Must tinkle and glitter like gold to the sight, 

And catch in its progress a sensible glow. 

After all, he must beat it as thin and as fine 

As the leaf that enfolds what an invalid swallows ; 

For truth is unwelcome, however divine, 
And unless you adorn it, a nausea follows. 



TO THE REV. MR. NEWTON, 

RECTOR OF ST. MARY WoOLNOTH. 

Says the Pipe to the Snuff-box, " I can't understand 
What the ladies and gentlemen see in your face, 

That you are in fashion all over the land, 
And I am so much fallen into disgrace. 

" Do but see what a pretty contemplative air 

I give to the company, — pray do but note 'em, — 

You would think that the wise men of Greece were all there, 
Or, at least, would suppose them the wise men of Gotham. 

" My breath is as sweet as the breath of blown roses, 
While you are a nuisance where'er you appear ; 

There is nothing but snivelling and blowing of noses, 
Such a noise as turns any man's stomach to hear." 

Then, lifting his lid in a delicate way, 

And opening his mouth with a smile quite engaging, 
The Box in reply was heard plainly to say, 

" What a silly dispute is this we are waging! 

" If you have a little of merit to claim, 

You may thank the sweet-smelling Virginian weed ; 
And I, if I seem to deserve any blame, 

The before-mentioned drug in apology plead. 

" Thus neither the praise nor the blame is our own, 
No room for a sneer, much less a cachinnus ; 

We are vehicles, not of tobacco alone, 

But of any thing else they may choose to put in us." 

May 28, 17S2. 



A SIMILE LATINISED. 

Sors adversa gent stimulum, sed tendit el alas : 
Pungit api similis, sed velut ista fugit. 



70 THE MEMORY OF DR. LLOYD. 34 1 



VERSES TO THE MEMORY OF DR. LLOYD/ 

SPOKEN AT THE WESTMINSTER ELECTION NEXT 

AFTER HIS DECEASE. 

Abut sencx ! periit senex amabilis ! 
Quo non fait jucundior. 

Lugete vos, retas quibus maturior 

Senem colendum pra'stitit ; 
Seu quando, viribus valentioribus 

Firmoque fretus pectore, 
Floientiori vos juventute excolens 

Cura fovebat patria ; 
Seu quando, fractus, jamque donatus rude 

Vultu sed usque blandulo, 
Miscere gaudebat suas facetias 

His annuis leporibus. 
Vixit probus, puraque simplex indole, 

Blandisque comis moribus, 
Et dives aqua mente — charus omnibus, 

UniusT auctus munere. 
Ite tituli ! me ritis beatioribus 

Aptate laudes debitas ! 
Xec invidebat ille, si quibus favens 

Fortuna plus arriserat. 
Placide senex ! levi quiescas cespite, 

Etsi superbum nee vivo tibi 
Decus sit inditum, nee mortuo 

Lapis notatus nomine. 



THE SAME IN EXGLISH. 

Our good old friend is gone, gone to his rest, 
Whose social converse was, itself, a feast. 
O ye of riper age, who recollect 
How once ye loved, and eyed him with respect, 
Both in the firmness of his better day, 
While yet he ruled you with a father's sway. 
And when, impaired by time and glad to rest, 
Yet still with looks in mild complacence drest, 

I make no apology for the introduction of the following lines, though I have never learned 
who wrote them. Their elegance will sufficiently recommend them to persons of classical taste 
md erudition, and I shall be happy if the English version that they have received from me be 
found not to dishonour them. Affection for the memory of the worthy man whom they celebrate 
alone prompted me to this endeavour. — W. Cowper. 

+ He was Usher and Under-master of Westminster nearly fifty years, and retired from his occu- 
pation when he was near seventy, with a handsome pension from the king. [Hayley.J 



342 



FRIENDSHIP. 



He took his annual seat and mingled here 
His sprightly vein with yours — now drop a tear. 
In morals blameless as in manners meek, 
He knew no wish that he might blush to speak, 
But, happy in whatever state below, 
And richer than the rich in being so, 
Obtained the hearts of all, and such a meed 
At length from one,* as made him rich indeed. 
Hence, then, ye titles ; hence, not wanted here ; 
Go, garnish merit in a brighter sphere, 
The brows of those whose more exalted lot 
He could congratulate, but envied not. 

Light lie the turf, good senior ! on thy breast, 
And tranquil as thy mind was be thy rest ! 
Though, living, thou hadst more desert than fame, 
And not a stone now chronicles thv name. 



FRIENDSHIP. 



What Virtue, or what mental grace, 
But men unqualified and base 

Will boast it their possession? 
Profusion apes the noble part 
Of Liberality of heart, 

And Dulness of Discretion. 

If every polished gem we find, 
Illuminating heart or mind, 

Provoke to imitation, 
No wonder friendship does the same, 
That jewel of the purest flame, 

Or rather constellation. 

No knave but boldly will pretend 
The requisites that form a friend, 

A real and a sound one ; 
Nor any fool he would deceive, 
But prove as ready to believe, 

And dream that he had found one. 

Candid, and generous, and just, 

Boys care but little whom they trust,— 

An error soon corrected ; 
For who but learns in riper years 
That man, when smoothest he appears, 

Is most to be suspected ? 



But here again a danger lies, 
Lest, having misapplied our eyes, 

And taken trash for treasure, 
We should unwarily conclude 
Friendship a false ideal good, 

A mere Utopian pleasure. 

An acquisition rather rare 
Is yet no subject of despair ; 

Nor is it wise complaining, 
If either on forbidden ground, 
Or where it was not to be found, 

We sought without attaining. 

No Friendship will abide the test 
That stands on sordid interest, 

Or mean sell-love erected ; 
Nor such as may a while subsist 
Between the sot and sensualist, 

1 in vicious ends connected. 

Who seeks a friend should come dis 

posed 
To exhibit, in full bloom disclosed, 

The graces and the beauties 
That form the character he seeks ; 
For 'tis a union that bespeaks 

]''i iprocated duties. 



* See the note to die Latin copy. 



FRIENDSHIP. 



343 



Mutual attention is implied, 
And equal truth on either side, 

And constantly supported ; 
'Tis senseless arrogance to accuse 
Another of sinister views, 

Our own as much distorted. 

But will Sincerity suffice? 
It is indeed above all price, 

And must be made the basis ; 
But every virtue of the soul 
Must constitute the charming whole, 

All shining in their places. 

A fretful temper will divide 

The closest knot that may be tied, 

By ceaseless sharp corrosion ; 
A temper passionate and fierce 
May suddenly your joys disperse 

At one immense explosion. 

In vain the talkative unite 

In hopes of permanent delight ; 

The secret just committed, 
Forgetting its important weight, 
They drop through mere desire to prate, 

And by themselves outwitted. 

How bright soe'er the prospect seems, 
All thoughts of friendship are but 
dreams, 

If Envy chance to creep in ; 
An envious man, if you succeed, 
May prove a dangerous foe indeed, 

But not a friend worth keeping. 

As Envy pines at good possessed, 
So Jealousy looks forth distressed 

On good that seems approaching, 
And if success his steps attend, 
Discerns a rival in a friend, 

And hates him for encroaching. 

Hence authors of illustrious name, 
Unless belied by common fame, 

Are sadly prone to quarrel, 
To deem the wit a friend displays 
A tax upon their own just praise, 

And pluck each other's laurel. 

A man renowned for repartee 
Will seldom scruple to make free 
With Friendship's finest feeling ; 



Will thrust a dagger at your breast, 
And say he wounded you in jest, 
By way of balm for healing. 

Whoever keeps an open ear 
For tattlers, will be- sure to hear 

The trumpet of contention ; 
Aspersion is the babbler's trade, 
To listen is to lend him aid 

And rush into dissension. 

A Friendship that in frequent fits 
Of controversial rage emits 

The sparks of disputation, 
Like Hand-in-Hand insurance plates, 
Most unavoidably creates 

The thought of conflagration. ■ 

Some fickle creatures boast a soul 
True as a needle to the pole, 

Their humour yet so various — 
They manifest their whole life through 
The needle's deviations too, 

Their love is so precarious. 

The great and small but rarely meet 
On terms of amity complete ; 

Plebeians must surrender, 
And yield so much to noble folk, 
It is combining fire with smoke, 

Obscurity with splendour. 

Some are so placid and serene 
(As Irish bogs are always green) 

They sleep secure from waking ; 
And are indeed a bog, that bears 
Your unparticipated cares, 

Unmoved and without quaking. 

Courtier and patriot cannot mix 
Their heterogeneous politics 

Without an effervescence, 
Like that of salts with lemon-juice, 
Which does not yet like that produce 

A friendly coalescence. 

Religion should extinguish strife, 
And make a calm of human life ; 

But friends that chance to differ 
On points which God has left at large, 
How fiercely will they meet and charge ! 

No combatants are stiffer. 



344 



FRIENDSHIP. 



To prove at last my main intent 
Needs no expense of argument, 

No cutting and contriving — 
Seeking a real friend, we seem 
To adopt the chymists' golden dream, 

With still less hope of thriving. 

Sometimes the fault is all our own, 
Some blemish in due time made known 

By trespass or omission : 
Sometimes occasion brings to light 
Our friend's defect, long hid from sight, 

And even from suspicion. 

Then judge yourself, and prove your man 
As circumspectly as you can, 

And, having made election, 
Beware no negligence of yours, 
Such as a friend but ill endures, 

Enfeeble his affection. 

That secrets are a sacred trust, 

That friends should be sincere and just, 

That constancy befits them, 
Are observations on the case 
That savour much of commonplace, 

And all the world admits them. 

But 'tis not timber, lead, and stone, 
An architect requires alone 

To finish a fine building — 
The palace were but half complete, 
If he could possibly forget 

The carving and the gilding. 

The man that hails you Tom or Jack, 
And proves by thumps upon your back 

How he esteems your merit, 
Is such a friend that one had need 
Be very much his friend indeed, 

To pardon or to bear it. 

As similarity of mind, 
Or something not to be defined, 
First fixes our attention : 



So manners decent and polite, 
The same we practised at first sight, 
Must save it from declension. , 

Some act upon this prudent plan, 
" Say little, and hear all you can ; " 

Safe policy, but hateful. 
So barren sands imbibe the shower, 
But render neither fruit nor flower, — 

Unpleasant and ungrateful. 

The man I trust, if shy to me, 
Shall find me as reserved as he, 

No subterfuge or pleading 
Shall win my confidence again ; 
I will by no means entertain 

A spy on my proceeding. 

These samples — for alas ! at last 
These are but samples, and a taste 

Of evils yet unmentioned — 
May prove the task a task indeed, 
In which 'tis much if we succeed, 

However well-intentioned. 

Pursue the search, and you will find 
Good sense and knowledge of mankind 

To be at least expedient, 
And, after summing all the rest, 
Religion ruling in the breast 

A principal ingredient 

The noblest Friendship ever shown 
The Saviour's history makes known, 
Though some have turned and turned 

it ; 
And, whether being crazed or blind, 
Or seeking with a biassed mind, 
Have not, it seems, discerned it. 

O Friendship ! if my soul forego 
Thy dear delights while here below, 

To mortify and grieve me, 
May 1 myself at last appear 
Unworthy, base, and insincere, 

Or may my friend deceive me ! 



1782. 



TO LADY AUSTEN. 



315 



TO THE REV. WILLIAM BULL. 



My dear Friend, 

If reading verse be your delight, 
''lis mine as much, or more, to write; 
Hut what we would, so weak is man, 
Lies oft remote from what we can. 
For instance, at this very time 
I feel a wish by cheerful rhyme 
To soothe my friend, and, had I power, 
Tc cheat him of an anxious hour ; 
Not meaning (for I must confess, 
It were but folly to suppress) 
His pleasure or his good alone, 
But squinting partly at my own. 
But though the sun is flaming high 
In the centre of yon arch, the sky, 
And he had once (and who but he ?) 
The name for setting genius free, 
Yet whether poets of past days 
Yielded him undeserved praise, 
And he by no uncommon lot 
Was famed for virtues he had not ; 
Or whether, which is like enough, 
His Highness may have taken huff, 
So seldom sought with invocation, 
Since it has been the reigning fashion 
To disregard his inspiration, — 
I seem no brighter in my wits 
For all the radiance he emits, 
Than if I saw, through midnight vapour, 
The glimmering of a farthing taper. 
Oh for a succedaneum, then, 
To accelerate a creeping pen ! 
Oh for a ready succedaneum 
Quod caput, cerebrum, et cranium 
Pondere liberet exoso, 
Et morbo jam caliginoso ! 
'Tis here ; this oval box, well filled 
With best tobacco finely milled, 
"June 22, 1782. 



Beats all Anticyra's pretences 

To disengage the encumbered senses. 

Oh Nymph of transatlantic fame, 
Where'er thine haunt, whate'er thy 

name, 
Whether reposing on the side 
Of Oroonoquo's spacious tide, 
Or listening with delight not small 
To Niagara's distant fall, 
'Tis thine to cherish and to feed 
The pungent nose-refreshing weed, 
Which, whether pulverised, it gain 
A speedy passage to the brain, 
Or whether, touched with fire, it rise 
In circling eddies to the skies, 
Does thought more quicken and refine 
Than all the breath of all the Nine — 
Forgive the bard, if bard he be, 
Who once too wantonly made free, 
To touch with a satiric wipe 
That symbol of thy power, the pipe ; 
So may no blight infest thy plains, 
And no unseasonable rains, 
And so may smiling peace once more 
\ isit America's sad shore ; 
And thou, secure from all alarms 
Of thundering drums and glittering 

arms, 
Rove unconfined beneath the shade 
Thy wide expanded leaves have made ; 
So may thy votaries increase, 
And fumigation never cease. 
May Newton with renewed delights 
Perform thy odoriferous rites, 
While clouds of incense half divine 
Involve thy disappearing shrine ; 
And so may smoke-inhaling Bull 
Be always filling, never full. 



TO LADY AUSTEN. 

ON A FLOOD AT OLNEY, 

To watch the storms, and hear the sky 
Give all our almanacks the lie ; 
To shake with cold, and see the plains 
In autumn drowned with wintry rains ; 



346 THE COLUBRIAD. 



Aug. 17S2. 



'Tis thus I spend my moments here, 
And wish myself a Dutch mynheer : 
I then should have no need of wit, 
For lumpish Hollander unfit ! 
Nor should I then repine at mud, 
Or meadows deluged with a flood ; 
But in a bog live well content, 
And find it just my element : 
Should be a clod, and not a man ; 
Nor wish in vain for Sister Ann, 
With charitable aid to drag 
My mind out of its proper quag ; 
Should have the genius of a boor, 
And no ambition to have more. 



THE COLUBRIAD. 



Close by the threshold of a door nailed fast 

Three kittens sat ; each kitten looked aghast. 

I, passing swift and inattentive by, 

At the three kittens cast a careless eye ; 

Not much concerned to know what they did there ; 

Not deeming kittens worth a poet's care. 

But presently a loud and furious hiss 

Caused me to stop, and to exclaim, " What's this?" 

When lo ! upon the threshold met my view, 

With head erect, and eyes of fiery hue, 

A viper, long as Count de Grasse's queue. 

Forth from his head his forked tongue he throws, 

Darting it full against a kitten's nose ; 

Who having never seen, in field or house, 

The like, sat still and silent as a mouse ; 

Only projecting, with attention due, 

Her whiskered face, she asked him, " Who are you ? ' 

On to the hall went I, with pace not slow, 

But swift as lightning, for a long Dutch hoe: 

With which well armed I hastened to the spot, 

To find the viper, but I found him not. 

And turning up the leaves and shrubs around, 

Found only that he was not to be found. 

But still the kittens, sitting as before, 

Sat watching close the bottom of the door. 

" I hope," said I, " the villain I would kill 

Has slipped between the door and the door-sill ; 

And if I make despatch, and follow hard. 

No doubt but I shall find him in the yard : " 

For long ere now it should have been rehearsed, 

'Twas in the garden that T found him first 

E'en there I found him, there the full-grown cat 

His head, with velvet paw, did gently pat; 



SO AT, 0A T PEACE. 



347 



As curious as the kittens erst had been 
To learn what this phenomenon might mean 
Filled with heroic ardour at the si 
And fearing every moment he would bite, 
And rob our household of our only cat 
That was of age to combat with a rat, 
With outstretched hoe I slew him at the door, 
And taught him NEVER TO COME THERE NO MORE. 
Aug. 1782. 

TO A YOUNG LADY, 

WITH A TRESENT OF TWO COCKSCOMl'.S. 

Madam, — Two Cockscombs wait at your command, 
And, what is strange, both dressed by Nature's hand 
Like other fops they dread a hasty shower, 
And beg a refuge in your closest bower ; 
Showy like them, like them they yield no fruit, 
but then, to make amends, they both are mute. 



SONG OX PEACE. 

Air — " My fond Shepherds of late. % 



Xo longer I follow a sound ; 

Xo longer a dream I pursue ; 
Oh Happiness ! not to be found, 

Unattainable treasure, adieu ! 

I have sought thee in splendour and dress, 
In the regions of pleasure and taste ; 

Ihavesoughtthee,and seemed to possess, 
But have proved thee a vision at last. 



An humble ambition and hope 

The voice of true Wisdom inspires 

'Tis sufficient, if Peace be the scope, 
And the summit of all our desires. 

Peace may be the lot of the mind 
That seeks it in meekness and love ; 

But rapture and bliss are confined 
To the glorified spirits above. 



SOXG. 
Air—" The Lass 0/ Tatties Mill." 



When all within is peace, 

How Nature seem.-^ to smile ! 
Delights that never cease 

The livelong day beguile. 
From morn to dewy eve, 

With open hand she showers 
Fresh blessings, to deceive 

And soothe the silent hours. 

It is content of heart 

Gives Nature power to please 
The mind that feels no smart 

Enlivens all it sees, 



Can make a wintry sky 

Seem bright as smiling May, 

And evening's closing eye 
As peep of early day. 

The vast majestic globe, 

So beauteously arrayed 
In X T ature's various robe, 

With wondrous skill displayc 
Is to a mourner's heart 

A dreary wild at best ; 
It flutters to depart, 

And longs to be at rest. 



348 



THE LOSS OF THE ROYAL GEORGE. 



ON THE LOSS OF THE ROYAL GEORGE. 

WRITTEN WHEN THE NEWS ARRIVED. 
To the march in " Scipio." 



Toll for the brave ! 

The brave that are no more ! 
All sunk beneath the wave, 

Fast by their native shore ' 

Eight hundred of the brave, 
Whose courage well was tried, 

Had made the vessel heel, 
And laid her on her side. 

A land-breeze shook the shrouds, 

And she was overset ; 
Down went the Royal George, 

With all her crew complete. 

Toll for the brave ! 

Brave Kempenfelt is gone ; 
His last sea-fight is fought ; 

His work of glory done. 

It was not in the battle ; 
No tempest gave the shock ; 
Sept. 1782. 



She sprang no fatal leak ; 
She ran upon no rock. 

His .-.word was in its sheath ; 

His fingers held the pen, 
When Kempenfelt went down 

With twice four hundred men. 

Weigh the vessel up, 

Once dreaded by our foes ! 

And mingle with our cup 
The tears that England owes. 

Her timbers yet are sound, 

And she may float again 
Full charged with England's thunder, 

And plough the distant main. 

But Kempenfelt is gone, 

I lis victories are o'er; 
And he and his eight hundred 

Shall plough the wave no more. 



IN SUBMERSIONEM NAVIGII CUI, GEORGIUS REGALE NOMEN, 

INDITUM. 



PLANGIMTJS fortes. Periere fortes, 
Patrium propter periere littus 
Bis quater centum ; subito sub alto 
^Equore mersi. 

Xavis, innitens lateri, jacebat, 
Malus ad summas trepidabat imdas, 
Cum levis, funes quatiens, ad imum 
Depulit aura. 

Plangimus fortes. Nimis, heu, caducam 
Fortibus vitem voluere pares, 
Nee sinunt ultra tibi nos recentes 
Nectere laurus. 

Magne, qui nomen, licet incanorum, 
Traditum ex multis atavis tulisti ! 
At tuos olim memorabit rtvum 
Omne triumphos. 



Non hyems illos furibunda mersit, 
Non mari in clauso scopuli latentes, 
Fissa non rimis abies, nee atrox 
Abstulit ensis. 

Navitae sed turn nimium jocosi 
Voce fallebant hilari laborero, 
Et quiescebat, calamoque dextram im- 
pleverat heros. 

Vos,quibuscordi est grave opuspiumque, 
Humidum ex alto spolium levate, 
Et putrescentes sub aquis amicos 
Reddite amicis ! 

Hi quidem (sic dis placuit) fuere: 
Sod ratis, nondum putris, ire possit 
Rursus in helium, Britonumque nomen 
Tollcre ad astra. 



THE DISTRESSED TRAVELLERS. 



349 



THE DISTRESSED TRAVELLERS; 

OR, LABOUR IN VAIN. 

A New Song to a Tune never sung before. 

I. 

I sing of a journey to Clifton 

We would have performed if we could, 
Without cart or barrow to lift on 

Poor Mary and me through the mud. 
Slee sla slud, 
Stuck in the mud, 
Oh it is pretty to wade through a flood ! 

2. 
So away we went, slipping and sliding, 

Hop, hop, a la mode de deux frog>, 
'Tis near as good walking as riding, 
When ladies are dressed in their clogs. 
Wheels, no doubt, 
Go briskly about, 
But they clatter and rattle, and make such a rout ! 

3- 

SHE. 

" Well ! now I protest it is charming ; 

How finely the weather improves ! 
That cloud, though, is rather alarming, 

How slowly and stately it moves ! " 



" Pshaw ! never mind, 
'Tis not in the wind, 
We are travelling south and shall leave it behind. 

4- 
SHE. 

' : I am glad we are come for an airing, 
For folks may be pounded and penned, 

Until they grow rusty, not caring 
To stir half a mile to an end." 



" The longer we stay, 

The longer we may ; 

It's a folly to think about weather or way." 



350 THE DISTRESSED TRA FELLERS. 



5- 

SHE. 

" But now I begin to be frighted ; 

If I fall, what a way I should roll ! 
I am glad that the bridge was indicted, — 

Stop ! stop ! I am sunk in a hole ! " 

HE. 

" Nay, never care ! 
'Tis a common affair ; 
You'll not be the last that will set a foot there. 1 

6. 

SHE, 

" Let me breathe now a little, and ponder 
On what it were better to do ; 

That terrible lane I see yonder, 

I think we shall never get through." 



" So think I :— 
But, by the bye, 
We never shall know, if we never should try." 

7- 

SHE. 

" But should we get there, how shall we get home? 

What a terrible deal of bad road we have past ! 
Slipping and sliding ; and if we should come 
To a difficult stile, I am ruined at last ! 
O this lane ! 
Now it is plain 
That struggling and striving is labour in vain." 



HE. 

" Stick fast there while I go and look — " 

SHE. 
" Don't go away, for fear I should fall ! " 

HE. 
" I have examined it every nook, 

And what you have here is a sample ol all. 
onnd, 
The dirt we have found 
Would be an estate at a farthing a pound." 



ON TI/F SHORTNESS OF HUMAN LIFE. 351 



9- 

Now, sister Anne, the guitar you must take, 

Set it, and sing it, and make it a song; 
1 have varied the verse for variety's sake, 
And cut it off short — because it was long. 
'Tis hobbling and lame, 
Which critics won't blame, 
For the sense and the sound, they say, should be the same. 



IN BREVITATEM VIT.K SPATII HOMINIBUS 
CONCESSI. 

BY DR. JORTIN. 

Hei mihi ! Lege rata sol occidit atquc resurgit, 

Lunaque mutata; reparat dispendia fornix, 

Astraque, purpurei telis extincta diei, 

Rursus nocte vigent. Humiles telluris alumni, 

Graminis herba virens, et riorum picta propago, 

Quos crudelis hyems lethali tabe peredit, 

Cum Zephyri vox blanda vocat, rediitque sereni 

Temperies anni, foecundo e cespite surgunt. 

Nos domini remm, nos, magna et pulchra minati, 

Cum breve ver vitas robustaque transiit aetas, 

Deficimus ; nee nos ordo revolubilis auras 

Reddit in rethereas, tumuli neque claustra resolvit. 



ON THE SHORTNESS OF HUMAN LIFE. 

TRANSLATION OF THE FOREGOING. 

Suns that set, and moons that wa^e, 
Rise and are restored again ; 
Stars that orient day subdues, 
Night at her return renews. 
Herbs and flowers, the beauteous birth 
Of the genial womb of earth, 
Suffer but a transient death 
From the winter's cruel breath. 
Zephyr speaks ; serener skies 
Warm the glebe, and they arise. 
We, alas ! earth's haughty kings, 
We, that promise mighty things, 
Losing soon life's happy prime, 
Droop, and fade, in little time. 
Spring returns, but not our bloom ; 
Still 'tis winter in the tomb. 
Jin. 1784. 



352 THE VALEDICTION. 



THE VALEDICTION. 

Farewell, false hearts ! whose best affections fail, 

Like shallow brooks which summer suns exhale ! 

Forgetful of the man whom once ye chose, 

Cold in his cause, and careless of his woes, 

I bid you both a long and last adieu, 

Cold in my turn, and unconcerned like you. 

First, farewell Niger ! whom, now duly proved, 
I disregard as much as once I loved. 
Your brain well furnished, and your tongue well taught 
To press with energy your ardent thought, 
Your senatorial dignity of face, 
Sound sense, intrepid spirit, manly grace, 
Have raised you high as talents can ascend, 
Made you a peer, but spoilt you for a friend ! 
Pretend to all that parts have e'er acquired ; 
Be great, be feared, be envied, be admired ; 
To fame as lasting as the earth pretend, 
But not, hereafter, to the name of friend ! 
I sent you verse, and, as your lordship knows, 
Backed with a modest sheet of humble prose ; 
Not to recall a promise to your mind, 
Fulfilled with ease had you been so inclined, 
But to comply with feelings, and to give 
Proof of an old affection still alive. 
Your sullen silence serves at least to tell 
Your altered heart ; and so, my lord, farewell ! 

Next, busy actor on a meaner stage, 
Amusement-monger of a trifling age, 
Illustrious histrionic patentee, 
Terentius, once my friend, farewell to thee ! 
In thee some virtuous qualities combine 
To fit thee for a nobler part than thine, 
Who, born a gentleman, hast stooped too low, 
To live by buskin, sock, and raree-show. 
Thy schoolfellow, and partner of thy plays, 
Where Nichol swung the birch and twined the bays, 
And having known thee bearded, and full grown, 
The weekly censor of a laughing town, 
I thought the volume I presumed to send, 
Graced with the name of a long-absent friend, 
Might prove a welcome gift, and touch thine heart, 
Not hard by nature, in a feeling part. 
But thou, it seems, (what cannot grandeur do, 
Though but a dream !) art grown disdainful too ; 
And strutting in thy school of queens and kings, 
Who fret their hour and are forgotten tilings, 
Hast caught the cold distemper of the day, 
And, like his lordship, cast thy friend away. 



THE VALEDICTION. 353 



Oh, Friendship ! cordial of the human breast ! 
So little felt, so fervently professed ! 
Thy blossoms deck our unsuspecting years ; 
The promise of delicious fruit appears : 
We hug the hopes of constancy and truth, 
Such is the folly of our dreaming youth ; 
But soon, alas ! detect the rash mistake 
That sanguine inexperience loves to make ; 
And view with tears the expected harvest lost, 
Decayed by time, or withered by a frost. 
Whoever undertakes a friend's great part 
Should be renewed in nature, pure in heart, 
Prepared for martyrdom, and strong to prove 
A thousand ways the force of genuine love. 
He may be called to give up health and gain, 
To exchange content for trouble, ease for pain, 
To echo sigh for sigh, and groan for groan, 
And wet his cheeks with sorrows not his own. 
The heart of man, for such a task too frail, 
When most relied on is most sure to fail ; 
And, summoned to partake its fellow's woe, 
Starts from its office like a broken bow. 

Votaries of business and of pleasure prove 
Faithless alike in friendship and in love. 
Retired from all the circles of the gay, 
And all the crowds that bustle life away, 
To scenes where competition, envy, strife, 
Beget no thunder-clouds to trouble life, 
Let me, the charge of some good angel, find 
One who has known and has escaped mankind ; 
Folite, yet virtuous, who has brought away 
The manners, not the morals, of the day : 
With him, perhaps with ha; (for men have knowi: 
No firmer friendships than the fair have shown,) 
Let me enjoy, in some unthought-of spot, 
All former friends forgiven and forgot, 
Down to the close of life's fast fading scene, 
Union of hearts, without a flaw between. 
'Tis grace, 'tis bounty, and it calls for praise, 
If God g\ve. health, that sunshine of our days ! 
And if He add, a blessing shared by few, 
Content of heart, more praises still are due : 
But if He grant a friend, that boon possessed 
Indeed is treasure, and crowns all the rest ; 
And giving one, whose heart is in the skies, 
Born from above, and made divinely wise, 
He gives, what bankrupt Nature never can, 
Whose noblest coin is light and brittle man, 
Gold, purer far than Ophir ever knew, 
A soul, an image of Himself, and therefore true 



Nov. 1783. 



354 ?0 AN AFFLICTED PROTESTANT LADY. 



TO AN AFFLICTED PROTESTANT LADY IN FRANCE. 

Madam, — A stranger's purpose in these lays 
Is to congratulate and not to praise. 
To give the creature the Creator's due 
Were sin in me, and an offence to you. 
From man to man, or even to woman paid, 
Praise is the medium of a knavish trade, 
A coin by craft for folly's use designed, 
Spurious, and only current with the blind. 

The path of sorrow, and that path alone, 
Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown ; 
No traveller ever reached that blest abode, 
Who found not thorns and briers in his road. 
The world may dance along the flowery plain, 
Cheered as they go by many a sprightly strain : 
Where Nature has her mossy velvet spread, 
With unshod feet they yet securely tread ; 
Admonished, scorn the caution and the friend, 
Bent all on pleasure, heedless of its end. 
But He who knew what human hearts would prove, 
How slow to learn the dictates of His love, 
That, hard by nature and of stubborn will, 
A life of ease would make them harder still, 
In pity to the souls His grace designed 
To rescue from the ruins of mankind, 
Called for a cloud to darken all their years, 
And said, "Go, spend them in the vale of tears." 
O balmy gales of soul- reviving air ! 
O salutary streams that murmur there ! 
These flowing from the Fount of Grace above, 
Those breathed from lips of everlasting love. 
The flinty soil indeed their feet annoys, 
Chill blasts of trouble nip their springing joys; 
An envious world will interpose its frown, 
To mar delights superior to its own, 
And many a pang experienced still within 
Reminds them of their hated inmate, Sin ; 
But ills of every shape and every name, 
Transformed to blessings, miss their cruel aim ; 
And every moment's calm that soothes the breast 
Is given in earnest of eternal rest. 

Ah, be not sad, although thy lot be cast 
Far from the flock and in a boundless waste ! 
No shepherds' tents within thy view appear, 
Dnt the ( Ihief Shepherd even there is near ; 
Thy tender sorrows and thy plaintive strain 
Mow in a foreign land, but n<>t in vain ; 
Thy tears all issue from a source divine, 
And every drop bespeaks a Saviour thine. 
So once in ( rideon's lleece the dews were found, 
And drought on all the drooping herbs around. 



TO A LADY. 
TO THE IMMORTAL MEMORY OF THE HALIBUT 

ON WHICH I DINED THIS DAY, MONDAY, APRIL 26, 1 784. 

Where hast thou floated ? in what seas pursued 

Thy pastime? When wast thou an egg new spawned, 

Lost in the immensity of ocean's waste? 

Roar as they might, the overbearing winds 

That rocked the deep, thy cradle, thou wast safe — 

And in thy minikin and embryo state. 

Attached to the firm leaf of some salt weed 

Didst outlive tempests, such as wrung and racked 

The joints of many a stout and gallant bark, 

And whelmed them in the unexplored abyss. 

Indebted to no magnet and no chart, 

Nor under guidance of the polar fire, 

Thou wast a voyager on many coasts, 

Grazing at large in meadows submarine, 

Where flat Batavia, just emerging, peeps 

Above the brine, — where Caledonia's rocks 

Beat back the surge, — and where Hibernia shoots 

Her wondrous causeway far into the main. 

Wherever thou hast feci, thou little thought'st, 

And I not more, that I should feed on thee. 

Peace, therefore, and good health, and much goor". fish, 

To him who sent thee ! and success, as oft 

As it descends into the billowy gulf, 

To the same drag that caught thee ! — Fare thee well ! 

Thy lot thy brethren of the slimy fin 

Would envy, could they know that thou wast doomed 

To feed a bard, and to be praised in verse. 

TO A LADY 

WHO WORE A LOCK OF HIS HAIR SET WITH DIAMONDS. 

The star that beams on Anna's breast 

Conceals her William's hair, 
'Twas lately severed from the rest 

To be promoted there. 
The heart that beats beneath that breast 

Is William's well I know, 
A nobler prize and richer far 

Than India could bestow. 
She thus his favoured lot* prefers, 

To make her William shine ; 
The ornament indeed is hers, 

But all the honour mine. 

* Query, lock. 

A A 2 



355 



356 ON THE AUTHOR OF "LETTERS ON LITERATURE:' 



WRITTEN ON A PAGE OF "THE MONTHLY REVIEW,' 

WHICH HAD SPOKEN OF MR. NEWTON'S OPINIONS AS CANT. 

These critics, who to faith no quarter grant, 

But call it mere hypocrisy and cant 

To make a just acknowledgment of praise, 

And thanks to God for governing our ways,