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Nor venal senator that's in,
Disturb this amiable retreat:
Only a Muse, a Love, or Grace,
In this calm senate have a seat.
Such representatives are free.
No Muse has lately been at court,
Nor are the Graces better for't;
Nor have the Loves septennially,
A borough-int'rest to support,
Mortgag'd their healths or property.
Led by unerring Nature's voice,
I haunt retirement's silent shade,
Contentment's humble lot and choice,
Where on the mossy sopha laid,
I see, thro' contemplation's eye,
The white-wing'd cherub innocence,
Each blessing of her native sky
To sympathetic hearts dispense.
Here, undebauch'd by spurious art,
Great Nature reigns in ev'ry part,
Both when refulgent Titan's beam
In high meridian splendour glows,
And when pale Cynthia's maiden gleam
O'er night a silver mantle throws.
The natives of the neighb'ring grove
Their nuptials chaunt on vernal sprays;
Untaught by Ovid how to love,
True passion modulates their lays.
From no Propertius' polish'd strain,
The linnet forms her temp❜rate note;
From no Tibullus learns to plain
The widow'd turtle's faithful throat.
Each feather'd libertine of air,
Gay as Catullus, loves and sings;
Free as the Teian sage from care,
The goldfinch claps his gilded wings,
And wooes his female to repair
To shady groves and crystal springs.
Here bless'd with freedom and content,
Untaught by devious thought to stray
Thro' fancy's visionary way,
These silvan bards of sentiment
Warble the dictates of the heart
Uninterrupted as they flow,
Unmeasur'd by the rules of art,
Now strongly high, now sweetly low.
Such scenes the good have ever lov'd, The great have sought, the wise approv'd: Here legislators plann'd of old The pandects of immortal laws; And mighty chiefs and heroes bold, Withdrawn from popular applause, First having left their countries free From savage and from human pests, Gain'd a more glorious victory O'er the fierce tyrants of their breasts.
The gods and heroes own'd a passion
For wives and daughters of the swains,
And heroines, whilst 'twas the fashion,
Ridotto'd on the rural plains.
The 'squires were then of heav'nly race,
The parsons fashionable too,
Young Hermes had at court a place,
Venus and Mars were folks one knew.
But long long since those times are o'er,
No goddess trips it o'er the lea,
The gods and heroes are no more,
Who danc'd to rural minstrelsy.
Detested are these sad abodes
By modern dames of mortal make,
And peers, who rank not with such gods,
Their solitary seats forsake.
For now 'tis quite another case,
The country wears a diff'rent face.
When sometimes, (oh! the cruel Lent!)
Thither her ladyship is sent,
As Sol thro' Taurus mounts the sky,
Or George prorogues his parliament,
Her beauteous bosom heaves a sigh,
Five months in rustic banishment.
Thither, alas! no viscounts rove,
Nor heart-bewitching col'nels come,
Dull is the music of the grove,
Unheeded fades the meadow's bloom.
The verdant copse may take the birds,
The breath of morn and evening's dew
To bleating flocks and lowing herds
Be pleasant and be wholesome too;
But how can these ('tis out of nature)
Have charms for any human creature!"
Such are the sentiments, I own,
Of all that lazy loitering race,
From daily ushers to his grace,
Who never leave the guilty town;
But in the purlieus of the court,
By knaves are spaniel'd up and down,
To fetch and carry each report.
Far other images arise
To those who inward turn their eyes
To view th' inhabitants of mind;
Where solitude's calm vot'ries find
Of knowledge th' inexhausted prize;
And truth, immortal truth bestows,
Clad in etherial robes of light,
Pure as the flakes of falling snows,
Unenvied unreprov'd delight.
On me, my lord, on humble me The intellectual train attends; Science oft seeks my company, And Fancy's children are my friends. Here bless'd with independent ease, I look with pity on the great, For who, that with enjoyment sees The Laughs and Graces at his gate, And little Loves attending nigh, Or fondly hov'ring o'er his head, To wing his orders thro' the sky, Whilst warbling Muses round him shed Sweet flow'rs, which on Parnassus blow, Would wish those thorny paths to tread, Which slaves and courtiers only know.
Thanks to my ancestors and Heav'n, To me the happier lot is giv'n, In calm retreat my time to spend With far far better company, Than those who on the court attend
In honourable drudgery.
Warriors and statesmen of old Rome
Duly observe my levée-day,
And wits from polish'd Athens come,
Occasional devoirs to pay.
With me great Plato often holds
Discourse upon immortal pow'rs,
And Attic Xenophon unfolds
Rich honey from Lycéum flow'rs;
Cæsar and Tully often dine,
Anacreon rambles in my grove,
Sweet Horace drinks Falernian wine,
Catullus makes on haycocks love.
With these, and some a-kin to these,
The living few who grace our days,
I live in literary ease,
My chief delight their taste to please
With soft and unaffected lays.
Thus, to each vot'ry's wish, kind fate
Divides the world with equal line,
She bids ambition, care, and state,
Be the high portion of the great,
Peace, friendship, love, and bliss be mine.
THE TEMPER OF ARISTIPPUS.
Quo me cunque rapit tempestas deferor hospes.
I'VE oft, Melissa, heard you say,
"The world observes I never wear
An aspect gloomy or severe,
That, constitutionally gay,
Whether dark clouds obscure the sky,
Or Phoebus gilds the face of day,
In pleasure's true philosophy
I pass the winged years away."
In most, 'tis true, the human sense
Is subjected to smiles, or tears,
To swelling pride, or trembling fears,
"By ev'ry skyey influence."
Cameleon-like their souls agree
With all they hear and all they see,
Or, as one instrument resounds
Another's unison of sounds,
Their mutable complexions carry
The looks of anger, hope, and joy;
Just as the scenes around 'em vary,
Pleasures delight, or pains annoy.
But 1, by philosophic mood,
Let the wise call it happy folly,
Educe from ev'ry evil good,
And rapture e'en from melancholy.
When in the silent midnight grove,
Sweet Philomela swells her throat
With tremulous and plaintive note,
Expressive of disastrous love,
I with the pensive Pleasures dwell,
And in their calm sequester'd cell
Listen with rapturous delight
To the soft songster of the night.
Here Echo, in her mossy cave,
Symphonious to the love-lorn song,
Warbles the vocal rocks among,
Whilst gently-trickling waters lave
The oak-fring'd mountain's hoary brow,
Whose streams, united in the vale,
O'er pebbled beds loquacious flow,
Tun'd to the sad melodious tale
In murmurs querulously slow.
And, whilst immers'd in thought Ì lie,
From ages past and realms unseen,
There moves before the mental eye
The pleasing melancholy scene
Of nymphs and youths unfortunate,
Whose fame shall spread from shore to shore,
Preserv'd by bards from death and fate,
Till time itself shall be no more.
Thus, not by black misanthropy Impell'd, to caves or rocks 1 fly; But when, by chance or humour led, My wand'ring feet those regions tread, Taught by philosophy so sweet To shun the fellowship of care, Far from the world I go to meet Such pleasures as inhabit there.
With rebel-will I ne'er oppose The current of my destiny, But, pliant as the torrent flows, Receive my course implicitly. As, from some shaded river's side If chance a tender 1osier's blown, Subject to the controuling tide, Th' obedient shrub is carried down. Awhile it floats upon the streams, By whirlpools now is forc'd below, Then mounts again where Titan's beams Upon the shining waters glow. Sweet flow'ry vales it passes by, Cities, and solitudes by turns, Or where a dreary desert burns In sorrowful obscurity.
For many a league the wand'rer's borne,
By forest, wood, mead, mountain, plain,
Till, carried never to return,
'Tis buried in the boundless main.
Thus Aristippus forms his plan;
To ev'ry change of times and fates
His temper he accommodates;
Not where he will, but where he can,
A daily bliss he celebrates.
An osier on the stream of time,
This philosophic wanderer
Floating thro' ev'ry place and clime,
Finds some peculiar blessing there.
Where e'er the winding current strays
By prosp'rous mount or adverse plain,
He'll sport, till all his jocund days
Are lost in life's eternal main.
Let worldlings hunt for happiness With pain, anxiety and strife, Thro' ev'ry thorny path of life, And ne'er th' ideal fair possess ! For who, alas! their passions send The fleeting image to pursue, Themselves their own designs undo, And in the means destroy the end! But I a surer èlue have found, To guide me o'er the mazy ground; For knowing that this deity Must ever rove at liberty
'See the Chartreuse of Gresset, from whence this passage is imitated; but the subsequent particular application to Aristippus is this author's.
SHOULD Supercilious censors say "His youth is waining, 'tis not time For Aristippus now with rhime To while the useless hours away," I might reply, I do no more Than what my betters did before; That what at first my fancy led This idle business to pursue, Still makes me prosecute the trade, Because I've nothing else to do; But to the candid, Tom, and you, A better reason I could give, To whom a better reason's due, That in these measures I convey My gentle precepts, how to live, Clearer than any other way. For in the pow'rs of poetry, Wit, truth, and pleasure blended lie. As, in Italia's fertile vales,
On the same tree, whilst blossoms blow,
The ripen'd fruits nectareous grow,
Fed by warm suns and fresh'ning gales.
Divinest art to mortals giv'n!
By thee, the brave, the good, the wise,
The fair, the learn'd, and witty, rise
From earth's dull sod, and people heav'n.
Nor be't to thee imputed blaine,
That ever-barking calumny,
And filthy-mouth'd obscenity,
Have oft usurp'd thy injur'd name!
Alas! the drops which Morning sheds
With dewy fingers on the meads,
The pink's and vi'lets tubes to fill,
Alike the noxious juices feed
Of deadly hemlock's pois'nous weed,
And give 'em fatal pow'r to kil!!
Imagination loves to trace
Reason's immortal lineaments
In Fiction's necromantic face,
When Probability assents.
The fairest features Fiction wears,
When most like Truth th' inchantress looks,
As sweet Narcissa's shade appears,
In silent lakes and crystal brooks,
So like the life, we scarcely know
Where last to fix our wav'ring love,
Whether upon the form below,
Or on the real nymph above.
In each we see an angel's face,
Tho' for the substance breathe our sighs,
Whilst we the shadowy image trace
In the clear wave with longing cyes.
But should you ask me, why I choose,
Of all the laurel'd sisterhood
Th' inhabitants of Pindus' wood,
The least considerable Muse.
The vi'lets round the mountain's feet,
Whose humble gems unheeded blow,
Are to the shepherd's smell more sweet
Than lofty cedars on its brow.
Let the loud Epic sound th' alarms
Of dreadful war, and heroes sprung
From some immortal ancestry,
Clad in impenetrable arms
By Vulean forg'd, my lyre is strung
With softer chords, my Muse more free
Wanders thro' Pindus' humbier ways
In amiable simplicity:
Unstudy'd are her artless lays,
She asks no laurel for her brows;
Careless of censure or of praise,
She haunts where tender myrtle grows;
Fonder of happiness than fame,
To the proud bay prefers the rose,
Nor barters pleasure for a name.
On Nature's lap, reclin'd at ease,
I listen to her heav'nly tongue,
From her derive the pow'r to please,
From her receive th' harmonious time,
And what the goddess makes my soug
n unpremeditated rhyme
Mellifluous flows, whilst young Desire,
Cull'd from th' elysian bloom of spring,
Strews flow'rs immortal round my lyre,
And Fancy's sportive children bring,
From blossom'd grove and lilied mead,
Fresh fragrant chaplets for my head.
The most, tho' softest of the Nine,
Euterpe, muse of gaiety
Queen of heart-soft'ning melody,
Allures my ear with notes divine.
In my retreat Euterpe plays,
Where Science, garlanded with flow'rs,
Enraptur'd listens to her lays
Beneath the shade of myrtle bow'rs.
This pleasing territory lies
Unvisited by common eyes,
Far from the prude's affected spleen,
Or bigot's surly godliness,
Where no coquettes, no jilts are seen,
Nor folly-fetter'd fops of dress;
Far from the vulgar high and low,
The pension'd great man's littleness;
Or those, who, prone to slav'ry, grow
Fit tools of others tyranny,
And, with a blind devotion, bow
To wooden blocks of quality;
Far from the land of Argument,
Where deep within their murky cells,
Figures and bloated Tropes are pent,'
And three-legg'd Syllogism dwells;
Far from the bubble-blowing race,
The school-men subtle and refin'd,
Who fill the thick skull's brainless space,
With puffs of theologie wind;
And all the grave pedantic train,
Which fairy Genius longs to biud
Hard with a comment's iron chain.
But, whilst such drones are driv'n away,
In my belov'd retreat remain
The fair, the witty, and the gay.
See Les Ombres of Gresset.
Here the soft patriarch of the Loves, Honey'd Anacreon, with the doves Of Venus flutt'ring o'er his head, (Whilst ivy-crowned Hours around The laughter-loving Graces lead In sportive ringlets to the sound Of Paphian flutes) the Muse invites To festive days and am'rous nights. Here tender Moscus loves to rove Along the meadow's daisied side, Under a cool and silent grove Where brooks of dimpling waters glide. Rapt in celestial ecstasy Sappho, whom all the Nine inspire, Varies her am'rous melody,
The chords of whose Idalian lyre,
As changeful passions ebb or flow,
Struck with bold hand now vibrate high,
Now, modulated to a sigh,
Tremble most languishingly low.
Horace, mild sage, refin'd with ease,
Whose precepts whilst they counsel, please,
Without the jargon of the schools
And fur-gown'd pedant's bookish rules,
Here keeps his lov'd academy;
His art so nicely he conceals,
That wisdom on the bosom steals,
And men grow good insensibly.
From cool Valclusa's lilied meads
Soft Petrarch and his Laura come,
And e'en great Tasso sometimes treads
These flow'ry walks, and culls the bloom
Of rural groves, where heretofore
Each Muse, each Grace, beneath the shade
Of myrtle bow'rs, in secret play'd
With an Idalian paramour.
From silver Seine's transparent streams,
With roses and with lilies crown'd,
Breathing the same heart-easing themes,
And tun'd in amicable sound,
Sweet bards, of kindred spirit, blow
Soft Lydian notes on Gallic reeds,
Whose songs instruct us how to know
Truth's flow'rs from affectation's weeds.
Chapelle leads up the festive band;
La Farre and Chaulieu, hand in hand,
Close follow their poetic sire,
Hot with the Teian grape and fire.
But hark! as sweet as western wind
Breathes from the vi'let's fragrant beds,
When balmy dews Aurora sheds,
Gresset's clear pipe, distinct behind,
Symphoniously combines in one
Each former bard's mellifluent tone.
Gresset in whose harmonius verse
The Indian bird shall never die,
Tho' death may perch on Ver-Vert's hearse,
Fame's tongue immortal shall rehearse
His variable loquacity.
Nor wanting are there bards of Thames,
On rural reed young Surry plays,
And Waller wooes the courtly dames
With gay and unaffected lays,
His careless limbs supinely laid
Beneath the plantane's leafy shade.
Prior his easy pipe applies
To sooth his jealous Cloe's breast,
And even Sacharissa's eyes
To brighter Cloe's yield the prize
Of Venus' soul bewitching cest.
Than these much greater bards, I ween,
Whenever they will condescend
Th' inferior Muses to attend,
Immortalize this humble scene:
Shakespear's and Drayton's Fairy crews
In midnight revels gambol round,
And Pope's light Sylphids sprinkle dews
Refreshing on the magic ground.
Nor 'sdains the Dryad train of yore,
And green-hair'd Naiads of the flood,
To join with Fancy's younger brood,
Which brood the sweet enchantress bore
To British bards in after-times,
Whose fame shall bloom in deathless rhymes,
When Greece and Britain are no more.
Whilst such the feasts of fancy give,
Careless of what dull sages know,
Amidst their banquets I will live,
And pitying, look on pow'r below.
If still the cynic censor says,
That Aristippus' useless days
Pass in melodious foolery,
This is my last apology:
"Whatever has the pow'r to bless,
By living having learnt to prize,
Since wisdom will afford me less
Than what from harmless follies rise,
I cannot spare from happiness
A single moment to be wise."
O THOU, for whom the British bays
Bloom in these unpoetic days,
Whose early genius glow'd to follow
The arts thro' Nature's ancient ways,
Twofold disciple of Apollo!
Shall Aristippus' easy lays,
Trifles of philosophic pleasure
Compos'd in literary leisure,
Aspire to gain thy deathless praise?
If thy nice ear attends the strains
This careless bard of Nature breathes
On Cyprian flute in Albion's plains,
By future poets myrtle wreaths
Shall long be scatter'd o'er his urn
In annual solemnity,
And marble Cupids, as they mourn,
Point where his kindred ashes lie.
Whilst thro' the tracks of endless day Thy Muse shall, like the bird of Jove, Wing to the source of light her way And bring from cloudless realms above, Where Truth's seraphic daughters glow, Another Promothéan ray
To this benighted globe below,
Mine, like soft Cytherea's dove,
Contented with her native grove,
Shall fondly sooth th' attentive ears
Of life's way-wearied travellers,
And, from the paths of fancied woes,
Lead 'em to the serene abode
Where real bliss and real good
In sweet security repose;
Or, as the lark with matin notes,
To youth's new voyagers, in spring,
As over head in air she floats,
Attendant on unruffled wing,
Warbles inartificial joy,
My Muse in tender strains shall sing
The feats of Venus' winged boy,
Or how the nimble-footed Hours,
With the three Graces knit in dance,
Follow the goddess Elegance
To Hebe's court in Paphian bow'rs.
Nor let the supercilious wise
And gloomy sons of melancholy
These unaffected lays despise
As day-dreams of melodious folly.
Reason a lovelier aspect wears
The Smiles and Muses when between, Than in the stoic's rigid mien With beard philosophiz'd by years; And Virtue moaps not in the cell Where cloister'd Pride and Penance dwell, But, in the chariot of the Loves, She triumphs inocently gay, Drawn by the yok'd Idalian doves, Whilst young Affections lead the way To the warm regions of the heart, Whence selfish fiends of Vice depart, Like spectres at th' approach of day. Should any infidel demand, Who sneers at our poetic Heav'n, Whether from ordination given By prelates of the Thespian land, Or inspiration from above, (As modern methodists derive Their light from no divine alive) I hold the great prerogative T' interpret sage Anacreon's writ, Or gloss upon Catullus' wit, Prophets that heretofore were sent, And finally require to see Credentials of my embassy, Before his faith could yield assent, Convincing reasons I would give From a short tale scarce credible, But yet as true and plausible, As some which catholics believe, That I was call'd by Jove's behest A Paphian and a Delphian priest.
Once when by Trent's pellucid streams,
In days of prattling infancy,
Led by young wond'ring Ecstasy,
To view the Sun's refulgent beams
As on the sportive waves they play'd
Too far I negligently stray'd,
The god of day his lamp withdrew,
Evening her dusky mantle spread,
And from her moisten'd tresses shed
Refreshing drops of pearly dew,
Close by the borders of a wood,
Where an old ruin'd abbey stood,
Far from a fondling mother's sight,
With toil of childish sport oppress'd
My tender limbs sunk down to rest
"Midst the dark horrours of the night.
As Horace erst by fabled doves
With spring's first leaves was mantled o'er
A wand'rer from his native groves,
A like regard the British Loves
To me their future poet bore,
Nor left me guardianless alone,
For tho' no Nymph or Faun appear'd,
Nor piping Satyr was there heard,
And here the Dryads are unknown;
Yet, natives true of English ground,
Sweet Elves and Fays in mantles green,
By shepherds oft in moonlight seen,
And dapper Fairies danc'd around.
The nightingale, her love-loru lay
Neglecting on the neighb'ring spray,
Strew'd with fresh flow'rs my turfy bed,
And, at the first approach of morn.
The red-breast stript the fragrant thorn
On roses wild to lay my head.
Thus, as the wond'ring rustics say,
In smiling sleep they found me laid
Beneath a blossom'd hawthorn's shade,
Whilst sportive bees, in mystic play,
With honey fill'd my little lips
Blent with each sweet that Zephyr sips
From flow'ry cups in balmy May.
From that bless'd hour my bosom glow'd
Ere vanity or fame inspir'd,
With unaffected transports fir'd,
And from my tongue untutor❜d flow'd,
In childhood's inattentive days,
The lisping notes of artless lays.
Nor have these dear enchantments ceas'd,
For what in innocence began
Still with increasing years increas'd,
And youth's warm joys now charm the man.
Perhaps this fondly-foster'd flame,
E'en when in dust my body's laid,
Will o'er the tomb preserve its fame,
And glow within my future shade.
If thus, as poets have agreed,
The soul, when from the body freed,
In t' other world confines her bliss
To the same joys she lov'd in this,
Thine, when she's pass'd the Stygian flood,
Shall, 'midst the patriot chiefs of old,
The wise, the valiant, and the good,
(Great names in deathless archives roll'd')
Strike with a master's mighty hand
Thy golden lyre's profoundest chords,
And fascinate the kindred band
With magic of poetic words.
Ravish'd with thy mellifluent lay
Plato and Virgil shall entwine
Of olive and the Mantuan bay
A never-fading crown for thee,
And learn'd Lucretius shall resign,
Among the foll'wers of the Nine,
His philosophic dignity.
For tho' his faithful pencil drew
Nature's external symmetry,
Yet to the mind's capacious view,
That unconfin'd expatiates
O'er mighty Nature's wond'rous whole,
Thy nicer stroke delineates
The finer features of the soul.
And, whilst the Theban bard to thee
Shall yield the heart-elating lyre,
Horace shall hear attentively
Thy finger touch his softer wire
To more familiar harmony.
Mean while thy Aristippus' shade