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Title: The Poetical Works of James Beattie

Author: James Beattie

Release Date: January 2, 2013 [EBook #41760]

Language: English

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[Pg v]


Memoir of Beattie, by the Rev. Alexander Dycevii
The Minstrel; or, the Progress of Genius, Book I7
The Minstrel; or, the Progress of Genius, Book II35
Elegy written in the year 175864
Ode to Hope67
Ode on Lord Hay's Birthday72
The Battle of the Pigmies and Cranes, from the Pygmæogeranomachia of Addison76
The Hares, a Fable88
Epitaph; being part of an Inscription designed for a Monument erected by a Gentleman to the Memory of his Lady92
The Hermit92
The Judgment of Paris97
Ode to Peace120
The Triumph of Melancholy126
The Wolf and Shepherds141
On the Report of a Monument to be erected in Westminster Abbey, to the Memory of a late Author145
[Pg vi]
Song, in Imitation of Shakspeare's 'Blow, Blow, thou winter wind'153
Epitaph on two young Men of the name of Leitch, who were drowned in crossing the River Southesk, 1757154
Epitaph intended for himself155
Verses written by Mr. Blacklock, on a blank leaf of his Poems, sent to the Author156
An Epistle to the Rev. Mr. Thomas Blacklock157
To the Rt. Hon. Lady Charlotte Gordon, dressed in a Tartan Scotch Bonnet, with Plumes166
Anacreon, Ode XXII.167
The beginning of the First Book of Lucretius167
Horace, Book II. Ode X.170
             Book III. Ode XIII.171
Virgil, Pastoral  I.178
Epitaph for a Sheriff's Messenger, written and published at the particular desire of the Person for whom it is intended234
To Mr. Alexander Ross, at Lochlee, Author of 'The Fortunate Shepherdess,' and other Poems in the broad Scotch Dialect235

[Pg vii]



"Heard you that Hermit's strain from Scotia borne,
'For virtue lost, and ruin'd man I mourn?'
Who may forget thee, Beattie? who supply
The tale half-told of Edwin's minstrelsy?"
The Pursuits of Literature.

The subject of this memoir was born on the 25th of October, 1735, at Laurencekirk, in the county of Kincardine, Scotland. His father, James Beattie, who kept a small shop in the village at the same time that he rented a little farm in the neighbourhood, was a man of considerable talents and acquirements:[A] his mother, too, was distinguished for her abilities. Our author, James, was the youngest of the six children of this respectable pair.

After his father's decease, which happened when he was only seven years old, his mother,[Pg viii] by means of the emoluments derived from the shop and the farm, was enabled to bring up her family in comfort. In the management of her affairs she was assisted by her eldest son, David, a youth of eighteen, who generously and affectionately relinquished all other pursuits for that of promoting her welfare and happiness, and who appears to have fostered his brothers and sisters with an almost parental care. James was placed at the parish school of Laurencekirk, which was then in some repute, and of which, about forty years before, Ruddiman, the famous grammarian, had been the master. At this time he had access to few books, except those which the minister of the village (the Rev. Mr. Thomson) kindly lent him, and which he read with avidity. It was then that he first became acquainted with English versification in Ogilby's Virgil. Even then he was known among his schoolfellows by the name of the poet; and sometimes he would rise from bed, during the night, that he might commit to writing any poetical idea that his fancy had happened to suggest.

In 1749 he began his academical career, at the Marischal College, Aberdeen:[B] and as his cir[Pg ix]cumstances were straitened, he became a competitor—and with success—for one of those bursaries or exhibitions, which are annually bestowed on students who are unable to support the entire expenses of a university education. He attended the Greek class taught by Dr. Blackwell. This scholar, whose writings on classical subjects,[C] though now fallen into disrepute, once enjoyed considerable popularity, soon discovered that his pupil was no ordinary young man, and distinguished him by several encouraging marks of approbation. The kindness of the Professor made a deep impression on the mind of Beattie, and he used to declare, in after life, that Blackwell was the first person who gave him reason to believe that he was possessed of any genius. During the four years of his attendance at the Marischal College he also studied philosophy and divinity. The last mentioned branch of knowledge he pursued doubtless with a view to the ministry, the church being then the chief resource of the well educated sons of the poorer classes in Scotland: he, however, soon abandoned all thoughts of the clerical profession.

Having taken the degree of M. A., he was elected, on the 1st of August, 1753, schoolmaster[Pg x] of Fordoun, a small hamlet at the foot of the Grampian hills, about six miles distant from his birthplace: here also he officiated as præcentor, or parish-clerk.

Many an hour was now spent by Beattie in perfect solitude; the family of Mr. Forbes, the minister, being almost the only society, save the surrounding peasantry, which his situation allowed him to enjoy. But his days went happily by. When not occupied by his public duties, he appears to have devoted a portion of his time to the study of the classics;[D] and occasionally he amused himself by composing little poems, a few of which were printed in the Scots Magazine. His fondness for music had ever been decided; and in his present retirement he cultivated it with uncommon success.[E] In the grand and beautiful scenery of the neighbourhood he found a never-failing source of pleasure. Not far from the place where he dwelt, a large and well wooded glen communicates with the mountains. In it he loved to wander; in it some of his earliest verses were written; and his recollections of its wild and romantic charms may be traced in several vivid descriptions of nature in his poetical works. Sometimes he would pass the whole night among the fields, gazing on the sky, and observing the various aspects it assumed till the return of day; and the exhilarating song of "the[Pg xi] lyric lark" in the mornings of summer used to fill him with delight. In 1755, his loneliness was cheered by the arrival of his brother David, who came to settle himself at the village of Fordoun.

The celebrated and eccentric Francis Garden, Esq., (afterwards one of the judges of the supreme courts of civil and criminal law in Scotland, by the title of Lord Gardenstone,) who was then sheriff of the county of Kincardine, and occasionally resided in the neighbourhood of Fordoun, was the earliest patron of our author. They accidentally became acquainted with each Other. Mr. Garden having one day discovered Beattie busily writing with a pencil in his favourite glen, and learning that he was engaged in the composition of a poem,[F] from that period took him under his protection.

At this time too he became known to another more celebrated and more eccentric character, Lord Monboddo, whose family estate is in the parish of Fordoun; and though their opinions on some important points by no means coincided, they ever after lived on friendly terms.

In 1757, the place of usher in the grammar-school of Aberdeen being vacant, Beattie, by the advice of Mr. Forbes, the minister of Fordoun, [Pg xii]became a candidate for it, but without success. So conspicuously, however, had his abilities manifested themselves during his examination on that occasion, that the same place becoming again vacant about a year after, and two candidates having appeared, both of whom were declared unqualified for it, he was requested by the magistrates to fill it without further trial. He was accordingly elected to the office on the 20th June, 1758.

This was an important event in Beattie's life. From a secluded hamlet, where there was the greatest difficulty in obtaining either society or books, he was transplanted to a populous and flourishing town, where he might associate with those whose tastes were congenial with his own, and carry on his literary pursuits by means of public libraries. The friend of his earlier years, Professor Blackwell, had sunk into the grave; but he had soon the good fortune to become intimately acquainted with several persons of acknowledged talents and learning, connected with the Marischal and King's Colleges, as also with various well educated gentlemen, inhabitants of the town.

In 1760, a chair in the Marischal College becoming vacant, it was suggested to Beattie by his friend, Mr. Arbuthnot,[G] that he should en[Pg xiii]deavour to procure the appointment for himself. Our author, who had never dreamed of aspiring to so dignified a situation, heard the proposal with astonishment. Mr. Arbuthnot, however, "willing to try what could be done," induced the Earl of Erroll, with whom he was on intimate terms, to solicit, by means of Lord Milton, the powerful interest of the Duke of Argyll in behalf of the humble usher. The application proved successful; and on the 8th October, 1760, Beattie was installed Professor of Moral Philosophy and Logic in the Marischal College.

His first lectures were delivered during the winter session of 1760, and 1761; and for the long space of more than thirty years he continued to discharge most conscientiously the duties of the important station to which he had been so unexpectedly raised.

A literary and convivial club (to which the vulgar gave the nickname of the Wise Club) had been established for some years at Aberdeen, the members consisting of the Professors of the Marischal and King's Colleges, and of gentlemen of the town, who had a taste for literature and conversation. Into this society Beattie was now enrolled. They used to meet at a tavern, once [Pg xiv]a fortnight, at five o'clock in the afternoon, (for in those days the common dinner-hour was early) when, the president taking the chair, an essay was read, composed by one of the members in his turn, and a literary or philosophical subject discussed; at half past eight a slight meal was served up, and at ten they retired to their homes. To this club Dr. Reid, Dr. Campbell, Dr. Gerrard, and Dr. Gregory, belonged; and from it several admired works of philosophy and criticism may be said to have originated.

In 1761 Beattie made his first appearance in print, in his own character, by publishing a small volume, dedicated to the Earl of Erroll, entitled Original Poems and Translations. It consisted partly of some of the verses which he had formerly sent to the Scots Magazine, and partly of pieces which he had recently composed. "This collection," says his good-natured and not very tasteful biographer, Sir William Forbes, "was very favourably received, and stamped Dr. Beattie with the character of a poet of great and original genius." It was certainly "favourably received," the chief critical journals of the day being unanimous in its praise; but that it "stamped the author with the character of a poet of great and original genius," I cannot allow. The truth is, it does not contain a single poem which rises much above mediocrity; and if Beattie had never touched the lyre with a more powerful hand, a[Pg xv] memoir of his life would not have been required for the Aldine Poets. So lightly, indeed, did he himself afterwards think of the collection in question, that he used to destroy all the copies of it which he could procure, and would only suffer four pieces from it (and these much altered and improved) to stand in the same volume with The Minstrel.

During the summer of 1763, Beattie for the first time visited London, among the inhabitants of which, Millar, his publisher, was almost his only acquaintance. While residing there, he made a pilgrimage to Pope's villa at Twickenham.

The Judgment of Paris, printed in 4to, in 1765, was the least successful of our author's poetical works. Several passages of considerable beauty could not prevent this elaborate, cold, and metaphysical production from being utterly neglected by the public.

That his Verses on the death of Churchill (which appeared anonymously very soon after The Judgment of Paris) were read with more attention, is to be attributed rather to the subject of the piece than to its intrinsic merit.[H] No one[Pg xvi] can peruse it without regretting that the amiable Beattie should have been betrayed by political feelings into such virulent abuse of a man of genius, who had just been gathered to the poets of other days. He is said to have written it at the solicitation of certain friends in Scotland, where the name of Churchill was held in detestation; and on these injudicious instigators let a portion of the odium rest.

In the autumn of 1765, Gray, who was then regarded as the first of living bards, paid a visit to the Earl of Strathmore, at Glammis castle. No sooner did Beattie hear of his arrival than he addressed to him the following letter:

Marischal College of Aberdeen, 30th August, 1765.

"If I thought it necessary to offer an apology for venturing to address you in this abrupt manner, I should be very much at a loss how to begin. I might plead my admiration of your genius, and my attachment to your character; but who is he that could not, with truth, urge the same excuse for intruding upon your retirement? I might plead my earnest desire to be personally acquainted with a man whom I have so long and so passionately admired in his writings; but thousands of greater consequence than I, are ambitious of the same honour. I, indeed, must either flatter myself that no apology is necessary, or otherwise I must despair of obtaining what has long been the object of my most ardent wishes; I must for[Pg xvii]ever forfeit all hopes of seeing you, and conversing with you.

"It was yesterday I received the agreeable news of your being in Scotland, and of your intending to visit some parts of it. Will you permit us to hope, that we shall have an opportunity, at Aberdeen, of thanking you in person, for the honour you have done to Britain, and to the poetic art, by your inestimable compositions, and of offering you all that we have that deserves your acceptance, namely, hearts full of esteem, respect, and affection? If you cannot come so far northward, let me at least be acquainted with the place of your residence, and permitted to wait on you. Forgive, sir, this request; forgive me if I urge it with earnestness, for indeed it concerns me nearly; and do me the justice to believe, that I am, with the most sincere attachment, and most respectful esteem, &c. &c. &c.

"P. S. Dr. Carlysle of Musselburgh, and Dr. Wight of Glasgow, acquainted me of your being in Scotland. It was from them I learned that my name was not wholly unknown to you."

In consequence of this letter, Beattie received an invitation to Glammis castle; and a friendship and correspondence commenced between the two poets, which terminated only with the death of Gray. The impression which their first meeting made on our author he thus describes in a[Pg xviii] letter to Sir William Forbes:—"I am sorry you did not see Mr. Gray on his return; you would have been much pleased with him. Setting aside his merit as a poet, which, however, in my opinion, is greater than any of his contemporaries can boast, in this or in any other nation, I found him possessed of the most exact taste, the soundest judgment, and the most extensive learning. He is happy in a singular facility of expression. His conversation abounds in original observations, delivered with no appearance of sententious formality, and seeming to arise spontaneously without study or premeditation. I passed two very agreeable days with him in Glammis, and found him as easy in his manners, and as communicative and frank, as I could have wished."

A new edition of our author's Poems came forth in 1766. From it a large portion of the pieces published in the former collection was rejected; while The Judgment of Paris, the Lines on the Death of Churchill, and one or two copies of verses never before printed, supplied the deficiency. The translation of Addison's Pygmæogeranomachia, which concludes the volume, is remarkable for its spirited and graceful versification.

In a letter to Dr. Blacklock, dated 22d September in the same year, Beattie thus alludes to his great work, The Minstrel:—

"Not long ago I began a poem in the style and stanza of Spenser, in which I propose to give[Pg xix] full scope to my inclination, and be either droll or pathetic, descriptive or sentimental, tender or satirical, as the humour strikes me; for, if I mistake not, the manner which I have adopted admits equally of all these kinds of composition. I have written one hundred and fifty lines, and am surprised to find the structure of that complicated stanza so little troublesome. I was always fond of it, for I think it the most harmonious that ever was contrived. It admits of more variety of pauses than either the couplet or the alternate rhyme; and it concludes with a pomp and majesty of sound, which, to my ear, is wonderfully delightful. It seems also very well adapted to the genius of our language, which, from its irregularity of inflexion and number of monosyllables, abounds in diversified terminations, and consequently renders our poetry susceptible of an endless variety of legitimate rhymes. But I am so far from intending this performance for the press, that I am morally certain it never will be finished. I shall add a stanza now and then, when I am at leisure, and when I have no humour for any other amusement; but I am resolved to write no more poetry with a view to publication, till I see some dawnings of a poetical taste among the generality of readers, of which, however, there is not at present any thing like an appearance."

Writing to Sir William Forbes, 8th January, 1767, our author gives an account of the cause[Pg xx] of his composing The Hermit, the most perfect of his minor poems:—

"The favourable reception you gave to my little poem, demands my acknowledgments. I aimed at simplicity in the expression, and something like uncommonness in the thought; and I own I am not ill pleased with it upon the whole; though I am sensible it does not answer the purpose for which I made it. I wrote it at the desire of a young lady of this country, who has a taste both for poetry and music, and wanted me to make words for a Scots tune called 'Pentland Hills,' of which she is very fond. The verses correspond well enough with the measure and subject of the tune, but are extremely unsuitable for the purpose of a song."[I]

To Dr. Blacklock he again writes concerning The Minstrel:

"Aberdeen, 20th May, 1767.

"My performance in Spenser's stanza has not[Pg xxi] advanced a single line these many months. It is called 'The Minstrel.' The subject was suggested by a dissertation on the old minstrels, which is prefixed to a collection of Ballads lately published by Dodsley, in three volumes. I propose to give an account of the birth, education, and adventures of one of those bards; in which I shall have full scope for description, sentiment, satire, and even a certain species of humour and of pathos, which, in the opinion of my great master are by no means inconsistent, as is evident from his works. My hero is to be born in the south of Scotland; which you know was the native land of the English minstrels; I mean of those minstrels who travelled into England, and supported themselves there by singing their ballads to the harp. His father is a shepherd. The son will have a natural taste for music and the beauties of nature; which, however, languishes for want of culture, till in due time he meets with a hermit, who gives him some instruction; but endeavours to check his genius for poetry and adventures, by representing the happiness of obscurity and solitude, and the bad reception which poetry has met with in almost every age. The poor swain acquiesces in this advice, and resolves to follow his father's employment; when, on a sudden, the country is invaded by the Danes, or English borderers, (I know not which,) and he is stript of all his little fortune, and obliged by ne[Pg xxii]cessity to commence minstrel. This is all that I have as yet concerted of the plan. I have written one hundred and fifty lines, but my hero is not yet born, though now in a fair way of being so, for his parents are described and married. I know not whether I shall ever proceed any farther: however, I am not dissatisfied with what I have written."

On the 28th June, 1767, Beattie was married at Aberdeen to Miss Mary Dun, only daughter of the rector of the Grammar-school in that city; a mutual attachment having for some time existed between them. She was a few years younger than our author: her person was pleasing, her manners were lively; and she possessed a moderate share of accomplishments. This union, which seemed to promise nothing but happiness to Beattie, threw the blight of misery over his later years, and undoubtedly contributed to shorten his career. The woman whom he had selected as a partner for life, inherited from her mother the most dreadful of human maladies,—insanity; which, a few years after marriage, displayed itself in strange follies and caprices,[J] and at last broke forth with such violence, as to render her separation from her family absolutely neces[Pg xxiii]sary. By this lady he had two sons, of whom particular mention will be made hereafter.

Beattie now employed himself on the composition of his Essay on Truth, a work, which was to be honoured with such marks of public approbation, as the most sanguine author in his wildest dreams of success could hardly have anticipated. In a letter to Sir William Forbes, dated 17th January, 1768, he says:—

"I have, for a time, laid aside my favourite studies, that I might have leisure to prosecute a philosophical inquiry, less amusing indeed than poetry and criticism, but not less important. The extraordinary success of the sceptical philosophy has long filled me with regret. I wish I could undeceive mankind in regard to this matter. Perhaps this wish is vain: but it can do no harm to make the trial. The point I am now labouring to prove, is the universality and immutability of moral sentiment,—a point which has been brought into dispute, both by the friends and by the enemies of virtue. In an age less licentious in its principles, it would not, perhaps, be necessary to insist much on this point. At present it is very necessary. Philosophers have ascribed all religion to human policy. Nobody knows how soon they may ascribe all morality to the same origin; and then the foundations of human society, as well as of human happiness, will be effectually[Pg xxiv] undermined. To accomplish this end, Hobbes, Hume, Mandeville, and even Locke, have laboured; and, I am sorry to say, from my knowledge of mankind, that their labour has not been altogether in vain. Not that the works of these philosophers are generally read, or even understood by the few who read them. It is not the mode, now-a-days, for a man to think for himself; but they greedily adopt the conclusions, without any concern about the arguments or principles whence they proceed; and they justify their own credulity by general declamations upon the transcendent merit of their favourite authors, and the universal deference that is paid to their genius and learning. If I can prove those authors guilty of gross misrepresentations of matters of fact, unacquainted with the human heart, ignorant even of their own principles, the dupes of verbal ambiguities, and the votaries of frivolous, though dangerous philosophy, I shall do some little service to the cause of truth; and all this I will undertake to prove in many instances of high importance."

During this year, a poem in broad Scotch, entitled The Fortunate Shepherdess, by Alexander Ross, schoolmaster, of Lochlee, was printed by subscription at Aberdeen; and in order to excite some curiosity about the volume, Beattie good-naturedly wrote a copy of verses in the same dia[Pg xxv]lect, addressed to the author, which appeared in the Aberdeen Journal.[K]

He thus communicates to Dr. Blacklock his motives for attempting the laborious prose work, with which he was still occupied:—

"Aberdeen, 9th January, 1769.

"It was very kind in you to read over my 'Essay on the Immutability of Moral Sentiment' with so much attention. I wish it deserved any part of the high encomium you bestowed on it. I flatter myself it will receive considerable improvements from a second transcribing, which I intend to begin as soon as I can. Some parts of it will be enlarged, and others (perhaps) shortened: the examples from history, and authorities from ancient authors, will be more numerous; it will be regularly distributed into chapters and sections, and the language will be corrected through[Pg xxvi]out. The first part, which treats of the permanency of truth in general, is now in great forwardness; ninety pages in quarto are finished, and materials provided for as many more. The design of the whole you will guess from the part you have seen. It is to overthrow scepticism, and establish conviction in its place; a conviction not in the least favourable to bigotry or prejudice, far less to a persecuting spirit; but such a conviction as produces firmness of mind, and stability of principle, in a consistence with moderation, candour, and liberal inquiry. If I understand my own design, it is certainly this; whether I shall accomplish this design or not, the event only will determine. Meantime I go on with cheerfulness in this intricate and fatiguing study, because I would fain hope that it may do some good; harm I think it cannot possibly do any.

"Perhaps you are anxious to know what first induced me to write on the subject; I will tell you as briefly as I can. In my younger days I read chiefly for the sake of amusement, and I found myself best amused with the classics, and what we call the belles lettres. Metaphysics I disliked; mathematics pleased me better; but I found my mind neither improved nor gratified by that study. When Providence allotted me my present station, it became incumbent on me to read what had been written on the subject of morals and human nature; the works of Locke,[Pg xxvii] Berkeley, and Hume, were celebrated as masterpieces in this way; to them, therefore, I had recourse. But, as I begin to study them with great prejudices in their favour, you will readily conceive how strangely I was surprised to find them, as I thought, replete with absurdities. I pondered these absurdities: I weighed the arguments, with which I was sometimes not a little confounded; and the result was, that I began at last to suspect my own understanding, and to think that I had not capacity for such a study. For I could not conceive it possible, that the absurdities of these authors were so great as they seemed to me to be; otherwise, thought I, the world would never admire them so much. About this time some excellent antisceptical works made their appearance, particularly Reid's 'Inquiry into the Human Mind.' Then it was that I began to have a little more confidence in my own judgment, when I found it confirmed by those of whose abilities I did not entertain the least distrust. I reviewed my authors again, with a very different temper of mind. A very little truth will sometimes enlighten a vast extent of science. I found that the sceptical philosophy was not what the world imagined it to be, nor what I, following the opinion of the world, had hitherto imagined it to be, but a frivolous, though dangerous, system of verbal subtilty, which it required neither genius, nor learning, nor taste, nor knowledge of mankind,[Pg xxviii] to be able to put together; but only a captious temper, an irreligious spirit, a moderate command of words, and an extraordinary degree of vanity and presumption. You will easily perceive that I am speaking of this philosophy only in its most extravagant state, that is, as it appears in the works of Mr. Hume. The more I study it, the more am I confirmed in this opinion. But while I applauded and admired the sagacity of those who led me into, or at least encouraged me to proceed in, this train of thinking, I was not altogether satisfied with them in another respect. I could not approve that extraordinary adulation which some of them paid to their arch-adversary. I could not conceive the propriety of paying compliments to a man's heart, at the very time one is proving that his aim is to subvert the principles of truth, virtue, and religion; nor to his understanding, when we are charging him with publishing the grossest and most contemptible nonsense. I thought I then foresaw, what I have since found to happen, that this controversy will be looked upon rather as a trial of skill between two logicians, than as a disquisition in which the best interests of mankind were concerned; and that the world, especially the fashionable part of it, would still be disposed to pay the greatest deference to the opinions of him who, even by the acknowledgment of his antagonists, was confessed to be the best philosopher and the soundest reasoner.[Pg xxix] All this has happened, and more. Some, to my certain knowledge, have said, that Mr. Hume and his adversaries did really act in concert, in order mutually to promote the sale of one another's works; as a proof of which, they mention, not only the extravagant compliments that pass between them, but also the circumstance of Dr. R.[L] and Dr. C.[M] sending their manuscripts to be perused and corrected by Mr. Hume before they gave them to the press. I, who know both the men, am very sensible of the gross falsehood of these reports. As to the affair of the manuscripts, it was, I am convinced, candour and modesty that induced them to it. But the world knows no such thing; and, therefore, may be excused for mistaking the meaning of actions that have really an equivocal appearance. I know likewise that they are sincere, not only in the detestation they express for Mr. Hume's irreligious tenets, but also in the compliments they have paid to his talents; for they both look upon him as an extraordinary genius; a point in which I cannot agree with them. But while I thus vindicate them from imputations, which the world, from its ignorance of circumstances, has laid to their charge, I cannot approve them in every thing; I wish they had carried their researches a little farther, and expressed themselves with a little more firmness[Pg xxx] and spirit. For well I know, that their works, for want of this, will never produce that effect which (if all mankind were cool metaphysical reasoners) might be expected from them. There is another thing in which my judgment differs considerably from that of the gentlemen just mentioned. They have great metaphysical abilities, and they love the metaphysical sciences. I do not. I am convinced that this metaphysical spirit is the bane of true learning, true taste, and true science; that to it we owe all this modern scepticism and atheism; that it has a bad effect upon the human faculties, and tends not a little to sour the temper, to subvert good principles, and to disqualify men for the business of life. You will now see wherein my views differ from those of the other answerers of Mr. Hume. I want to show the world, that the sceptical philosophy is contradictory to itself, and destructive of genuine philosophy, as well as of religion and virtue; that it is in its own nature so paltry a thing (however it may have been celebrated by some,) that to be despised it needs only to be known; that no degree of genius is necessary to qualify a man for making a figure in this pretended science; but rather a certain minuteness and suspiciousness of mind, and want of sensibility, the very reverse of true intellectual excellence; that metaphysics cannot possibly do any good, but may do, and actually have done, much harm; that sceptical philosophers, whatever[Pg xxxi] they may pretend, are the corrupters of science, the pests of society, and the enemies of mankind. I want to show, that the same method of reasoning, which these people have adopted in their books, if transferred into common life, would show them to be destitute of common sense; that true philosophers follow a different method of reasoning: and that, without following a different method, no truth can be discovered. I want to lay before the public, in as strong a light as possible, the following dilemma: our sceptics either believe the doctrines they publish, or they do not believe them: if they believe them, they are fools—if not, they are a thousand times worse. I want also to fortify the mind against the sceptical poison, and to propose certain criteria of moral truth, by which some of the most dangerous sceptical errors may be detected and guarded against.

"You are sensible, that, in order to attain these ends, it is absolutely necessary for me to use great plainness of speech. My expressions must not be so tame as to seem to imply either a diffidence in my principles, or a coldness towards the cause I have undertaken to defend. And where is the man who can blame me for speaking from the heart, and therefore speaking with warmth, when I appear in the cause of truth, religion, virtue, and mankind? I am sure my dear friend Dr. Blacklock will not; he, who has set[Pg xxxii] before me so many examples of this laudable ardour; he, whose style I should be proud to take for my model, if I were not aware of the difficulty, I may say, the insuperable difficulty, of imitating it with success. You need not fear, however, that I expose myself by an excess of passion or petulance. I hope I shall be animated, without losing my temper, and keen, without injury to good manners. In a word, I will be as soft and delicate as the subject and my conscience will allow. One gentleman, a friend of yours,[N] I shall have occasion to treat with much freedom. I have heard of his virtues. I know he has many virtues; God forbid I should ever seek to lessen them, or wish them to be found insincere. I hope they are sincere, and that they will increase in number and merit every day. To his virtues I shall do justice; but I must also do justice to his faults, at least to those faults which are public, and which, for the sake of truth and of mankind, ought not to be concealed or disguised. Personal reflections will be carefully avoided; I hope I am in no danger of falling into them, for I bear no personal animosity against any man whatsoever: sometimes I may perhaps be keen; but I trust I shall never depart from the Christian and philosophic character.[Pg xxxiii]

"A scheme like this of mine cannot be popular, far less can it be lucrative. It will raise me enemies; it will expose me to the scrutiny of the most rigid criticism; it will make me be considered by many as a sullen and illiberal bigot. I trust, however, in Providence, and in the goodness of my cause, that my attempts in behalf of truth shall not be altogether ineffectual, and that my labours shall be attended with some utility to my fellow-creatures. This, in my estimation, will do much more than counterbalance all the inconveniences I have any reason to apprehend. I have already fallen on evil tongues (as Milton says) on account of this intended publication. It has been reported, that I had written a most scurrilous paper against Mr. Hume, and was preparing to publish it when a friend of mine interposed, and, with very great difficulty, prevailed on me to suppress it, because he knew it would hurt or ruin my character. Such is the treatment I have to expect from one set of people. I was so provoked when I first heard this calumny that I deliberated whether I should not throw my papers into the fire, with a Si populus vult decipi, decipiatur: but I rejected that thought; for so many persons have told me, that it was my duty to publish these papers, that I almost began to think so myself. Many have urged me to publish them; none ever dissuaded me. The gentleman, named in the report, read the essay, and re[Pg xxxiv]turned it with the highest commendations; but I do not recollect that he ever spoke a syllable about publishing or suppressing it. But I have certainly tired you with so long a detail, about so trifling a matter as my works. However, I thought it necessary to say something by way of apology for them, for I find that your good opinion is of too much consequence to my peace, to suffer me to neglect any opportunity of cultivating it."

The Essay on Truth being now finished, our author was desirous of selling the MS. to some bookseller, in order that he might avoid all risk to himself in the publication, and intrusted the care of this matter to Sir William Forbes and Mr. Arbuthnot. His two friends, however, having applied to the bookseller, whom they imagined the most proper person to publish the work, were vexed by his positive refusal to purchase it, although he had no objection to print it on Beattie's account. In this difficulty they generously resolved to become themselves the purchasers of the first edition. "I therefore," says Sir William Forbes, "wrote to him [Beattie] (nothing surely but the truth, although, I confess, not the whole truth,) that the manuscript was sold for fifty guineas, which I remitted to him by a bank bill; and I added, that we had stipulated with the bookseller who was to print the book, that we should be partners in the publication."[Pg xxxv]

At length in May, 1770, the Essay on Truth was given to the world. As it had been seen in manuscript by several eminent literary characters, and as it was understood to be a direct attack on the philosophy of Hume (who was then in the height of his popularity,) its appearance excited immediate notice. It has been said, that on its publication, Hume spoke of Beattie with great bitterness, complaining (and I am forced to allow that there was some cause for the complaint) that he had not used him like a gentleman: it has even been asserted that he could not endure the name of our author to be mentioned in his presence. I suspect that in all this there is great exaggeration. The placid temper of Hume was not likely to be much ruffled by any thing that might be written against his system; his friends and admirers were probably more disturbed by the attack than the philosopher himself. In less than four years five large editions of the Essay were circulated, and translations of it were made into French and other foreign languages.

From the rugged paths of philosophy Beattie turned once more into the flowery walks of poesy. In 1771, the First Book of The Minstrel was published without the author's name. Its success was complete. The voice of every critic was loud in its praise; and before the Second Book appeared (in 1774), four editions of the First had been[Pg xxxvi] dispersed throughout the kingdom. The following elegant and touching encomium was passed upon the poem by Lord Lyttelton, in a letter to Mrs. Montagu, who had put the First Book into the hands of that virtuous nobleman:

"Hill Street, 8th March, 1771.

"I read your 'Minstrel' last night, with as much rapture as poetry, in her noblest, sweetest charms, ever raised in my soul. It seemed to me that my once most beloved minstrel, Thomson, was come down from heaven, refined by the converse of purer spirits than those he lived with here, to let me hear him sing again the beauties of nature, and the finest feelings of virtue, not with human, but with angelic strains! I beg you to express my gratitude to the poet for the pleasure he has given me."

Of the same date with the preceding letter, Beattie received one from Gray, containing many minute remarks on his poem. As it consists almost entirely of verbal criticism, it scarcely admits of quotation: a single short extract may however be given from it:

"St. 11. O, how canst thou renounce,[O] &c. [Pg xxxvii]But this, of all others, is my favourite stanza. It is true poetry; it is inspiration; only (to show it is mortal) there is one blemish; the word garniture suggesting an idea of dress, and, what is worse, of French dress."

When the poem was reprinted, one or two slight alterations were made in deference to the opinion of Gray.

In a letter to the Dowager Lady Forbes, 12th October, 1772, our author confesses that in the character of Edwin he meant to paint himself:

"From the questions your Ladyship is pleased to propose in the conclusion of your letter, as well as from some things I have had the honour to hear you advance in conversation, I find you are willing to suppose that, in Edwin, I have given only a picture of myself, as I was in my younger days. I confess the supposition is not groundless. I have made him take pleasure in the scenes in which I took pleasure, and entertain sentiments similar to those of which, even in my early youth, I had repeated experience. The scenery of a mountainous country, the ocean, the [Pg xxxviii]sky, thoughtfulness and retirement, and sometimes melancholy objects and ideas, had charms in my eyes, even when I was a schoolboy: and at a time when I was so far from being able to express, that I did not understand my own feelings, or perceive the tendency of such pursuits and amusements; and as to poetry and music, before I was ten years old I could play a little on the violin, and was as much master of Homer and Virgil as Pope's and Dryden's translations could make me."

The intense thought which Beattie had devoted to the composition of the Essay on Truth having materially injured his health, he was advised by his physicians to try the remedy of change of scene. He accordingly set out on a journey to London, and arrived there in the beginning of autumn, 1771. He was no longer the obscure individual who had visited it in 1763;[P] he was now the triumphant adversary of scepticism, and the author of the admired Minstrel; a man whom the most distinguished characters in the literary and fashionable world were prepared to treat with attention and respect. Among several letters of introduction, which he carried with him, was one from Dr. Gregory, of Edinburgh, to Mrs. Montagu. At the splendid and hospitable mansion of this celebrated lady, Beattie became acquainted with various persons, both male and female, who were[Pg xxxix] then the chief ornaments of London society; and he used to dwell with delight on the recollections of her more private parties, made up of Lord Lyttelton, Mrs. Carter, and a few others, who spent their evenings in the most unreserved conversation on literary, moral, or religious subjects. From this time, Mrs. Montagu continued to be one of his firmest friends; and their epistolary correspondence closed only with her life. The politeness and kindness of Hawkesworth, Armstrong, Garrick, and Johnson, also contributed much to render pleasant his visit to the metropolis. Concerning the last illustrious man he writes thus: "Johnson has been greatly misrepresented. I have passed several entire days with him, and found him extremely agreeable. The compliments he pays to my writings are so high that I have not the face to mention them." In December Beattie had returned to Aberdeen.

In 1772, his mother died, at the advanced age of fourscore, at the house of her affectionate son David, in the neighbourhood of Laurencekirk.

Towards the end of April, 1773, Beattie, accompanied by his wife, set out again for London. This journey was undertaken partly for the sake of his health and partly with a view to another object—the bettering of his circumstances. The emolument which he had derived from his writings bore unfortunately no proportion to the fame he had acquired; and the small income arising from[Pg xl] his professorship afforded him the only means for supporting his family. During his former visit to the capital, in 1771, his English friends had been very desirous to procure for him some permanent provision; and it was well known that his Majesty had expressed approbation of his writings, and had even declared his intention of conferring some reward on the man who had laboured so successfully to advance the interests of religion. With several important letters of introduction—one addressed to the Earl of Dartmouth—he now arrived in London, and was cordially welcomed by Mrs. Montagu, and his other friends. His reception by Lord Dartmouth was kind and courteous: soon after which, being summoned to wait on Lord North, he was told by that minister that an early opportunity should be taken to inform his Majesty of his arrival.

By some of his friends it had been suggested that Beattie should take orders, and enter the English church; but this mode of improving his fortunes he very properly rejected.[Q] At last, by[Pg xli] the advice of the Archbishop of York, a memorial was drawn up "expressing his services, his wants, and his wishes;" which, having been transmitted to Lord Dartmouth, was by him laid before the King, who, on that occasion, spoke of Beattie and his writings with high approbation, and signified a desire to see him.

Meantime the number of our author's acquaintances in the metropolis increased daily, and his society was eagerly courted by a long list of illustrious names. He now became personally known to a distinguished churchman, with whom, during[Pg xlii] the preceding year he had held some correspondence by letter—Dr. Porteus, then Rector of Lambeth, and finally Bishop of London; and the friendship which took place between them was sincere and lasting.

At the first levee, Beattie was presented by Lord Dartmouth to his Majesty, who for several minutes talked to him concerning his Essay on Truth in the most condescending and affable manner.

Soon after this, the University of Oxford, at the installation of Lord North as its Chancellor, conferred on our author a very flattering mark[Pg xliii] of distinction, an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.

At length the object of his wishes was attained. On the 20th of August, he received an official letter from the secretary of Lord North, informing him that the king had been pleased to allow him a pension of two hundred pounds a year. Of the private interview, with which, a few days after he was honoured by their majesties, he has left the following account in his Diary:

"Tuesday, 24th August, set out for Dr. Majendie's at Kew-Green. The Doctor told me that he had not seen the King yesterday, but had left a note in writing, to intimate that I was to be at his house to-day; and that one of the King's pages had come to him this morning, to say 'that his Majesty would see me a little after twelve.' At twelve, the Doctor and I went to the King's house, at Kew. We had been only a few minutes in the hall, when the King and Queen came in from an airing; and, as they passed through the hall, the King called to me by name, and asked how long it was since I came from town. I answered, about an hour. 'I shall see you,' says he, 'in a little.' The Doctor and I waited a considerable time (for the King was busy), and then we were called into a large room, furnished as a library, where the King was walking about, and the Queen sitting in a chair. We were received in the most gracious manner pos[Pg xliv]sible by both their Majesties. I had the honour of a conversation with them (nobody else being present but Dr. Majendie) for upwards of an hour, on a great variety of topics; in which both the King and Queen joined, with a degree of cheerfulness, affability, and ease, that was to me surprising, and soon dissipated the embarrassment which I felt at the beginning of the conference. They both complimented me, in the highest terms, on my 'Essay,' which, they said, was a book they always kept by them; and the King said he had one copy of it at Kew, and another in town, and immediately went and took it down from a shelf. I found it was the second edition. 'I never stole a book but one,' said his Majesty, 'and that was yours (speaking to me); I stole it from the Queen, to give it to Lord Hertford to read.' He had heard that the sale of Hume's 'Essays' had failed, since my book was published; and I told him what Mr. Strahan had told me, in regard to that matter. He had even heard of my being in Edinburgh last summer, and how Mr. Hume was offended on the score of my book. He asked many questions about the second part of the 'Essay,' and when it would be ready for the press. I gave him, in a short speech, an account of the plan of it; and said, my health was so precarious, I could not tell when it might be ready, as I had many books to consult before I could finish it; but, that if[Pg xlv] my health were good, I thought I might bring it to a conclusion in two or three years. He asked, how long I had been in composing my Essay? praised the caution with which it was written; and said, he did not wonder that it had employed me five or six years. He asked about my poems. I said, there was only one poem of my own on which I set any value (meaning the 'Minstrel,') and that it was first published about the same time with the 'Essay.' My other poems, I said, were incorrect, being but juvenile pieces, and of little consequence, even in my own opinion. We had much conversation on moral subjects; from which both their Majesties let it appear that they were warm friends to Christianity; and so little inclined to infidelity, that they could hardly believe that any thinking man could really be an atheist, unless he could bring himself to believe that he made himself; a thought which pleased the King exceedingly; and he repeated it several times to the Queen. He asked, whether any thing had been written against me. I spoke of the late pamphlet, of which I gave an account, telling him, that I never had met with any man who had read it, except one Quaker. This brought on some discourse about the Quakers, whose moderation and mild behaviour the King and Queen commended. I was asked many questions about the Scots universities; the revenues of the Scots clergy; their mode of praying[Pg xlvi] and preaching; the medical college of Edinburgh; Dr. Gregory (of whom I gave a particular character), and Dr. Cullen; the length of our vacation at Aberdeen, and the closeness of our attendance during the winter; the number of students that attend my lectures; my mode of lecturing, whether from notes, or completely written lectures; about Mr. Hume, and Dr. Robertson, and Lord Kinnoull, and the Archbishop of York, &c. &c. &c. His Majesty asked what I thought of my new acquaintance, Lord Dartmouth? I said there was something in his air and manner which I thought not only agreeable, but enchanting, and that he seemed to me to be one of the best of men; a sentiment in which both their Majesties heartily joined. 'They say that Lord Dartmouth is an enthusiast,' said the King, 'but surely he says nothing on the subject of religion, but what every Christian may, and ought to say.' He asked, whether I did not think the English language on the decline at present? I answered in the affirmative; and the King agreed, and named the 'Spectator' as one of the best standards of the language. When I told him that the Scots clergy sometimes prayed a quarter, or even half an hour at a time, he asked whether that did not lead them into repetitions? I said, it often did. 'That,' said he, 'I don't like in prayers; and excellent as our liturgy is, I think it somewhat faulty in that respect.' 'Your majesty knows,' said I, 'that[Pg xlvii] three services are joined in one in the ordinary church service, which is one cause of those repetitions.' 'True,' he replied, 'and that circumstance also makes the service too long.' From this he took occasion to speak of the composition of the church liturgy; on which he very justly bestowed the highest commendation. 'Observe,' his Majesty said, 'how flat those occasional prayers are, that are now composed, in comparison with the old ones.' When I mentioned the smallness of the church livings in Scotland, he said, 'he wondered how men of liberal education would choose to become clergymen there;' and asked, 'whether in the remote parts of the country, the clergy, in general were not very ignorant?' I answered, 'No, for that education was very cheap in Scotland, and that the clergy, in general, were men of good sense, and competent learning.' He asked whether we had any good preachers at Aberdeen? I said, yes, and named Campbell and Gerard, with whose names, however, I did not find that he was acquainted. Dr. Majendie mentioned Dr. Oswald's 'Appeal' with commendation; I praised it too and the queen took down the name, with a view to send for it. I was asked, whether I knew Dr. Oswald? I answered, I did not; and said, that my book was published before I read his; that Dr. O. was well known to Lord Kinnoull, who had often proposed to make us acquainted. We discussed a great many other topics; for the[Pg xlviii] conversation, as before observed, lasted for upwards of an hour, without any intermission. The Queen bore a large share in it. Both the King and her Majesty showed a great deal of good sense, acuteness, and knowledge, as well as of good nature and affability. At last the king took out his watch (for it was now almost three o'clock, his hour of dinner), which Dr. Majendie and I took as a signal to withdraw. We accordingly bowed to their Majesties, and I addressed the King in these words: 'I hope, Sir, your Majesty will pardon me, if I take this opportunity to return you my humble and most grateful acknowledgments, for the honour you have been pleased to confer upon me.' He immediately answered, 'I think I could do no less for a man who has done so much service to the cause of Christianity. I shall always be glad of an opportunity to show the good opinion I have of you.' The Queen sate all the while, and the King stood, sometimes walking about a little. Her Majesty speaks the English language with surprising elegance, and little or nothing of a foreign accent. There is something wonderfully captivating in her manner; so that if she were only of the rank of a private gentlewoman, one could not help taking notice of her, as one of the most agreeable women in the world. Her face is much more pleasing than any of her pictures; and in the expression of her eyes, and in her smile, there is something[Pg xlix] peculiarly engaging. When the Doctor and I came out, 'Pray,' said I, 'how did I behave? Tell me honestly, for I am not accustomed to conversations of this kind.' 'Why, perfectly well,' answered he, 'and just as you ought to do.' 'Are you sure of that?' said I. 'As sure,' he replied, 'as of my own existence: and you may be assured of it too, when I tell you, that if there had been any thing in your manner or conversation which was not perfectly agreeable, your conference would have been at an end in eight or ten minutes at most.' The Doctor afterwards told me, that it was a most uncommon thing for a private man, and a commoner, to be honoured with so long an audience. I dined with Dr. and Mrs. Majendie, and their family, and returned to town in the evening, very much pleased with the occurrences of the day."

At this time, Sir Joshua Reynolds, having requested Beattie to sit for his picture, produced a likeness of him, which is generally regarded as one of the finest works of that admirable artist. He is represented in his Oxford gown of Doctor of Laws, with his famous Essay under his arm; while beside him is Truth, habited as an Angel, holding in one hand a pair of scales, and with the other thrusting down three frightful figures, emblematic of Prejudice, Scepticism, and Folly.[R] [Pg l]Of this picture Sir Joshua made a present to Beattie, who set a due value on so noble a composition, and preserved it with the utmost care.

After an absence of a little more than five months, he returned to Aberdeen.

A striking proof how highly the character and talents of Beattie were appreciated, even by those to whom he was personally unknown, occurred in October of this year (1773), when the chair of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh was offered to him by the electors, the magistrates of the city. He, however, declined accepting it, "Though my fortune" (he writes to Sir William Forbes, on the subject) "were as narrow now as it lately was, I should still incline rather to re[Pg li]main in quiet where I am, than, by becoming a member of the University of Edinburgh, to place myself within the reach of those (few as they are) who have been pleased to let the world know that they do not wish me well." He alludes to the enemies whom his Essay on Truth had raised up.

The Second Book of The Minstrel, together with a new and corrected edition of the First, appeared in 1774, the author's name being now added. The poem, thus enlarged, suffered no diminution of its popularity.

The following year, Beattie and his wife spent several weeks in London, residing during the chief part of the time with Dr. Porteus, one of his kindest and most zealous friends. On this occasion, having shown himself at court, he was immediately recognized by the King, who spoke to him very graciously, and made several inquiries concerning his studies.

To a new and improved edition in quarto, of the Essay on Truth, printed by subscription,[S] in[Pg lii] 1776, our author appended three other Essays: On Poetry and Music, as they affect the Mind, On Laughter and Ludicrous Composition, and On the Utility of Classical Learning. In 1777,[T] he gave to the press a new edition of The Minstrel, to which he added a few of his minor poems: this volume (he says in the preface) contains "all the verses of which I am willing to be considered as the author." In 1778,[U] he printed for private circulation a Letter to Dr. Blair, on the improvement of Psalmody in Scotland. In 1779, he published, for the use of the young men who attended his Lectures, a List of Scotticisms, to the amount of about two hundred. And in 1780, he contributed some thoughts On Dreaming to the well known periodical paper, The Mirror.

[Pg liii]

The following portion of a letter from Dr. Johnson to Beattie shows how sincerely our author was esteemed by the great moralist:

"Bolt Court, Fleet Street, 21st August, 1780.

"More years than I have any delight to reckon have past since you and I saw one another. Of this, however, there is no reason for making any reprehensory complaint, sic fata ferunt: but, methinks, there might pass some small interchange of regard between us. If you say that I ought to have written, I now write; and I write to tell you, that I have much kindness for you and Mrs. Beattie, and that I wish your health better, and your life long. Try change of air, and come a few degrees southward; a softer climate may do you both good. Winter is coming on, and London will be warmer, and gayer, and busier, and more fertile of amusement than Aberdeen."

In 1781, Beattie made another journey to London, taking with him his eldest son, James Hay Beattie.[V] While there, we find him writing thus to Sir William Forbes:

"1st June.

"I have been visiting all my friends again and again, and found them as affectionate and attentive as ever. Death has indeed deprived me of some since I was last here, of Garrick, and Armstrong, and poor Harry Smith; but I have still many left."... "Johnson grows in grace as he[Pg liv] grows in years. He not only has better health and a fresher complexion than ever he had before (at least since I knew him), but he has contracted a gentleness of manners which pleases every body."

"28th June.

"I thought it my duty to appear at the levee before I left London; and accordingly the week before last I went to court. The king had not seen me for six years, and yet, to my surprise, knew me at first sight. He spoke to me with his wonted condescension and affability; and paid me a very polite compliment on the subject of my writings."

His Dissertations, Moral and Critical, were published in 1783.

A passage from a letter of the poet Cowper to the Rev. William Unwin, 5th April, 1784,[W] must not be omitted here:

"If you have not his poem, called the 'The Minstrel,' and cannot borrow it, I must beg you[Pg lv] to buy it for me; for, though I cannot afford to deal largely in so expensive a commodity as books, I must afford to purchase at least the poetical works of Beattie."

His health impaired, and his peace of mind destroyed, by the melancholy condition of his wife (who, labouring under confirmed insanity, was now removed from her family), we need not wonder that Beattie should endeavour to forget his domestic griefs in the society of his English friends, to whom he was ever welcome. During the year 1784, after passing some time in London, he spent a month with Dr. Porteus (who had now attained the rank of Bishop of Chester), at the beautiful parsonage of Hunton, near Maidstone, which he characterizes as "the mansion of peace, piety, and cheerfulness." He also visited[Pg lvi] Mrs. Montagu, at her seat, called Sandleford, in Berks.

In 1786, his Evidences of the Christian Religion, were published. A remark which he makes in a letter, while engaged in the composition of this judicious summary, is worth quoting: "Whether this work shall ever be of use to others, I know not; but this I know, that it has been of considerable benefit to myself. For though, when I entered upon it, I understood my subject well enough to entertain no doubt of the goodness of my cause, yet I find, as I advance, new light continually breaking in upon me."

The receipt of the following letter could hardly fail to gratify our author:

"Philadelphia, 1st August, 1786.

"The American revolution, which divided the British empire, made no breach in the republic of letters. As a proof of this, a stranger to your person, and a citizen of a country lately hostile to yours, has expressed his obligations to you for the knowledge and pleasure he has derived from your excellent writings by procuring your admission into the American Philosophical Society; a certificate of which, subscribed by our illustrious president, Dr. Franklin, and the other officers of the society, you will receive by the next vessel that sails to any port in North Britain from this city.[Pg lvii]

"The stranger alluded to finished his studies in medicine in Edinburgh in the year 1769, and has ever since taught chemistry and medicine in the college of Philadelphia. His name (with the greatest respect for yours) is,

"Benjamin Rush."

The next year, with his eldest son for his companion, he repaired again to London. While there, he writes thus to his niece, Miss Valentine, now Mrs. Glennie:

"London, 20th July, 1787.

"I am just returned from Windsor, where I passed three days. I went thither, partly to see some friends, but chiefly that I might pay my respects to the King and Queen. They both received me in the most gracious manner. I saw the King first on the terrace, where he knew me at first sight, and did me the honour to converse with me a considerable time. Next morning I saw him again at prayers in his chapel, where he was pleased to introduce me to the Queen, who inquired very kindly after my health; observed, that many years had passed since she saw me last; regretted the bad weather which I had met with at Windsor (for it rained incessantly,) which, said she, has made your friends see less of you than they wished; and, after some other conversation, her Majesty and the Princess Elizabeth,[Pg lviii] who attended her, made a slight courtesy, and stepped into the carriage that waited for them at the chapel door. The King remained with us for some time longer, and talked of various matters."

Our author then proceeded to visit Dr. Porteus at Hunton, and Mrs. Montagu at Sandleford, but was obliged to quit the latter place sooner than he had intended, on account of the illness of his son, who shewed symptoms of that consumptive complaint to which he afterwards fell a victim. For the sake of medical advice Beattie carried him back to the metropolis, and from thence, by very easy stages, to Aberdeen. Soon after his return to Scotland, the invalid improved so much in health that he was able to take upon him part of the management of the class of Moral Philosophy in the Marischal College, having been appointed in June of this year (when he was not quite nineteen) assistant professor to his father.

In 1790, Beattie put forth the first volume of his Elements of Moral Science; and superintended an edition of Addison's Periodical Papers, adding a few notes to Tickell's Life of that author, and to Johnson's Remarks on his Prose Writings. The second volume of the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, published during this year, contains 'Remarks on some Passages of the Sixth Book of the Æneid,' from Beattie's pen.[Pg lix]

He had now to suffer the dire bereavement which he had long foreseen, the loss of his eldest son, the object of his fondest affection. He thus informs the Duchess of Gordon of the melancholy event:

"Aberdeen, 1st December, 1790.

"Knowing with what kindness and condescension your grace takes an interest in every thing that concerns me and my little family, I take the liberty to inform you, that my son James is dead; that the last duties to him are now paid; and that I am endeavouring to return, with the little ability that is left me, and with entire submission to the will of Providence, to the ordinary business of life. I have lost one who was always a pleasing companion; but who, for the last five or six years, was one of the most entertaining and instructive companions that ever man was blest with: for his mind comprehended almost every science; he was a most attentive observer of life and manners; a master of classical learning; and he possessed an exuberance of wit and humour, a force of understanding, and a correctness and delicacy of taste, beyond any other person of his age I have ever known.

"He was taken ill in the night of the 30th of November, 1789; and from that time his decline commenced. It was long what physicians call a nervous atrophy; but towards the end of June, symptoms began to appear of the lungs being[Pg lx] affected. Goats' milk, and afterwards asses' milk, were procured for him in abundance; and such exercise as he could bear, he regularly took; these means lengthened his days no doubt, and alleviated his sufferings, which indeed were not often severe: but, in spite of all that could be done, he grew weaker and weaker, and died the 19th of November, 1790, without complaint or pain, without even a groan or a sigh; retaining to the last moment the use of his rational faculties; indeed, from first to last, not one delirious word ever escaped him. He lived twenty-two years and thirteen days. Many weeks before it came, he saw death approaching, and he met it with such composure and pious resignation, as may no doubt be equalled, but cannot be surpassed.

"He has left many things in writing, serious and humorous, scientific and miscellaneous, prose and verse, Latin and English; but it will be a long time before I shall be able to harden my heart so far as to revise them."

In April of the following year, Beattie again travelled southwards, accompanied by Montagu,[X] his second son and only surviving child. They[Pg lxi] remained some weeks in Edinburgh, and then journeyed slowly to London, which after a short stay they quitted for the summer residence of Dr. Porteus, who was now elevated to the see of the metropolis. The tranquillity of Fulham Palace, and the kind attentions of its inhabitants, contributed greatly to amend the health and raise the spirits of our author; and he seems to have enjoyed the company of the distinguished persons with whom he had an opportunity of associating. "Last week," he writes to Sir William Forbes, 30th June, 1791, "I made a morning visit to Mr. Pitt. I had heard him spoken of as a grave and reserved man; but saw nothing of it. He gave me a very frank, and indeed affectionate reception; and was so cheerful, and in his conversation so easy, that I almost thought myself in the company rather of an old acquaintance than of a great statesman. He was pleased to pay me some very obliging compliments, asked about my health, and how I meant to pass the summer; spoke of the Duchess of Gordon, the improvements of Edinburgh, and various other matters: and when I told him, I knew not what apology to make for intruding upon him, said, that no apology was necessary, for that he was very glad to see me, and desired to see me again." Before returning to Scotland, the travellers went to Bath, and from thence to Sandleford, the seat of Mrs. Montagu.[Pg lxii]

The second volume of the Elements of Moral Science appeared in 1793. During the same year the sudden death of his favourite sister, Mrs. Valentine, increased the domestic sorrows of Beattie. His health was at this period so greatly impaired, that being unable to attend to his duties of Professor in the Marischal College, he engaged his old pupil, Mr. Glennie, as an assistant: occasionally, however, he continued to lecture to his class till the commencement of the winter session of 1797.

For some time past he had occupied himself in the melancholy yet pleasing task of editing a volume of the compositions of his eldest son. From a pardonable partiality for the writings of a beloved child, and from his not very accurate attainments in classical scholarship, he admitted into the collection several pieces, both English and Latin, which fall considerably below mediocrity. A few copies of the work were privately printed in 1794, under the title of Essays and Fragments in Prose and Verse, by James Hay Beattie, and were "offered as presents to those friends with whom the author was particularly acquainted or connected."[Y] Though it undoubt[Pg lxiii]edly shows that the deceased was a young man of uncommon quickness of talent, and the most indefatigable application, it exhibits nothing which has a claim to be considered as the offspring of genius.[Z] The most interesting portion of the[Pg lxiv] volume is the biographical sketch prefixed to it by the afflicted father, a memoir of exquisite simplicity and pathos. The account given by Beattie of the method which he adopted in im[Pg lxv]parting to his son the first idea of a Supreme Being is too striking to be omitted here:

"The doctrines of religion I wished to impress[Pg lxvi] on his mind, as soon as it might be prepared to receive them; but I did not see the propriety of making him commit to memory theological[Pg lxvii] sentences, or any sentences which it was not possible for him to understand. And I was desirous to make a trial how far his own reason could go in tracing out, with a little direction, the great and first principle of all religion, the being of God. The following fact is mentioned, not as a proof of superior sagacity in him (for I have no[Pg lxviii] doubt that most children would in like circumstances think as he did), but merely as a moral or logical experiment: He had reached his fifth (or sixth) year, knew the alphabet, and could read a little; but had received no particular information with respect to the Author of his being; because I thought he could not yet understand such information; and because I had learned, from my own experience, that to be made to repeat words not understood is extremely detrimental to the faculties of a young mind. In a corner of a little garden, without informing any person of the circumstance, I wrote in the mould, with my finger, the three initial letters of his name; and sowing garden-cresses in the furrows, covered up the seed, and smoothed the ground. Ten days after, he came running to me, and with astonishment in his countenance, told me that his name was growing in the garden. I smiled at the report, and seemed inclined to disregard it; but he insisted on my going to see what had happened. Yes, said I carelessly, on coming to the place, I see it is so; but there is nothing in this worth notice; it is mere chance; and I went away. He followed me and taking hold of my coat, said, with some earnestness, It could not be mere chance; for that somebody must have contrived matters so as to produce it.—I pretend not to give his words, or my own, for I have forgotten both; but I give the substance of what passed[Pg lxix] between us in such language as we both understood.—So you think, I said, that what appears so regular as the letters of your name, cannot be by chance. Yes, said he, with firmness, I think so. Look at yourself, I replied, and consider your hands and fingers, your legs and feet, and other limbs; are not they regular in their appearance, and useful to you? He said, they were. Came you then hither, said I, by chance? No, he answered, that cannot be; something must have made me. And who is that something? I asked. He said he did not know. (I took particular notice, that he did not say, as Rousseau fancies a child in like circumstances would say, that his parents made him.) I had now gained the point I aimed at, and saw that his reason taught him (though he could not so express it) that what begins to be must have a cause, and that what is formed with regularity must have an intelligent cause. I therefore told him the name of the Great Being who made him and all the world; concerning whose adorable nature I gave him such information as I thought he could in some measure comprehend. The lesson affected him greatly, and he never forgot either it, or the circumstance that introduced it."

After the loss of this highly-gifted youth, the only tie which bound Beattie to the world was his second son, who, though far inferior to the deceased in learning, was endowed with no ordinary[Pg lxx] talents.[AA] Just as our author was anxiously forming plans for his future establishment in life, Montagu was unexpectedly carried off by a fever of only a few days' continuance, in the eighteenth year of his age. Beattie thus communicates to Sir William Forbes the intelligence of his death:

"Aberdeen, 14th March, 1796.

"Our plans relating to Montagu are all at an end. I am sorry to give you the pain of being informed, that he died this morning at five. His disorder was a fever, from which at first we had little apprehension; but it cut him off in five days. He himself thought from the beginning that it would be fatal; and, before the delirium came on, spoke with great composure and Christian piety of his approaching dissolution: he even gave some directions about his funeral. The delirium was very violent, and continued till within a few minutes of his death, when he was heard to repeat in a whisper the Lord's prayer, and began an unfinished sentence, of which nothing could be heard but the words incorruptible glory. Pious sentiments prevailed in his mind through life, and did not leave him till death; nor then, I trust, did they leave him. Notwithstanding the extreme[Pg lxxi] violence of his fever, he seemed to suffer little pain, either in body or in mind, and as his end drew near, a smile settled upon his countenance. I need not tell you that he had every attention that skilful and affectionate physicians could bestow. I give you the trouble to notify this event to Mr. Arbuthnot. I would have written to him, but have many things to mind, and but indifferent health. However, I heartily acquiesce in the dispensations of Providence, which are all good and wise. God bless you and your family.

"He will be much regretted; for wherever he went he was a very popular character."

Such an effect had this fresh calamity on the intellectual powers of Beattie, that a few days after Montagu's death, he experienced a temporary hut almost utter loss of memory respecting him. Having searched every room in the house, he would say to his niece, Mrs. Glennie, "You may think it strange, but I must ask you if I have a son, and where he is?" She then felt herself under the painful necessity of calling to his recollection the sufferings of Montagu, the mention of which never failed to restore him to reason. Often with tears he would declare himself thankful that his children were in the grave, exclaiming, in allusion to their mother's malady, "How could I have borne to see their elegant minds mangled with madness!" On viewing the[Pg lxxii] dead body of Montagu for the last time, he said, "I have now done with the world."

The following passages from two of his letters, written about this period, are deeply affecting. He tells the Rev. Dr. Laing, 10th April, 1796:

"I hope I am resigned, as my duty requires, and as I wish to be; but I have passed many a bitter hour, though on those occasions nobody sees me. I fear my reason is a little disordered, for I have sometimes thought of late, especially in a morning, that Montagu is not dead, though I seem to have a remembrance of a dream that he is. This you will say, what I myself believe, is a symptom not uncommon in cases similar to mine, and that I ought by all means to go from home as soon as I can. I will do so when the weather becomes tolerable."

To Sir William Forbes he says, 17th of the same month:

"I have been these many days resolving to write to you and Mr. Arbuthnot, to thank you for your very kind and sympathetic letters, but various things have come in my way to prevent it. I need not pretend a hurry of business, for every-body knows I am not capable of any. A deep gloom hangs upon me, and disables all my faculties; and thoughts so strange sometimes occur to me as to make me 'fear that I am not,' as Lear says, 'in my perfect mind.' But I thank God I am entirely resigned to the divine will; and, though I am now childless, I have friends[Pg lxxiii] whose goodness to me, and other virtues, I find great comfort in recollecting. The physicians not only advise, but entreat, and indeed command me to go from home, and that without further delay; and I do seriously resolve to set out for Edinburgh to-morrow."

Though Beattie never from henceforth engaged in any kind of study, he still found some enjoyment in books, and still derived some pleasure from the society of a very few of his oldest friends. He almost entirely ceased to correspond, even with those whom he most valued; yet when he happened to receive a letter from any of them, his spirits were always excited for the rest of the day. Music, in which he had once delighted, had become disagreeable to him since the loss of his eldest son.[AB] A few months, however, before Montagu's death, he had occasionally played an accompaniment while Montagu sung; but now, when prevailed on to resume his favourite violoncello, he was always dissatisfied with his own performance. "My fingers," he writes to the Rev. Dr. Laing, 5th June, 1798, "have not strength to press down the strings."[Pg lxxiv]

In this state he continued till the beginning of April, 1799, when he was struck with palsy, which, for eight days, rendered him nearly incapable of utterance. At different times the disease repeated its attacks, the last of which, on the 5th of October, 1802, deprived him entirely of the power of motion. On the morning of the 18th of August, 1803, he expired without a struggle, in the sixty-eighth year of his age.

His remains were laid, according to his own desire, beside those of his children, in the church-yard of St. Nicholas, at Aberdeen; and a Latin inscription, from the pen of the late Dr. James Gregory, of Edinburgh, marks the spot of his interment.

In person he was of the middle size, of a broad, square make, which seemed to indicate a more robust constitution than he really possessed. In his gait there was something of a slouch. During his later years he grew corpulent and unwieldy; but a few months before his death his hulk was greatly diminished. His features were very regular; his complexion somewhat dark. His eyes were black, brilliant, full of a tender and melancholy expression, and, in the course of conversation with his friends, became extremely animated.

Though I am of opinion with Gilbert Wakefield, that the maxim De mortuis nil nisi VERUM is better than De mortuis nil nisi BONUM, it is with pain that I touch on the reported failing of so truly good a man as Beattie. It has been asserted that[Pg lxxv] towards the close of life he indulged to excess in the use of wine. In a letter to Mr. Arbuthnot, he says, "With the present pressure upon my mind, I should not be able to sleep, if I did not use wine as an opiate; it is less hurtful than laudanum, but not so effectual." He may, perhaps, have had too frequent recourse to so palatable a medicine, in the hope of banishing for a while the recollection of his sorrows; and if, under any circumstances, such a fault is to be regarded as venial, it may be excused in one who was a more than widowed husband and a childless father.

The prose writings of Beattie appear of late years to have fallen into disrepute; and the once celebrated Essay on Truth is at present as much undervalued as it was formerly overrated.

His fame now rests upon The Minstrel alone. Since its first publication, many poems of a far loftier and more original character have been produced in England; yet still does it maintain its popularity; and still in Edwin, that happy personification of the poetic temperament, do young and enthusiastic readers delight to recognize a picture of themselves. Though we cannot fail to regret that Beattie should have left it incomplete, yet we do not long for the concluding books from any interest which we take in the story, such as is excited by some other unfinished works of genius, the tale of Cambuscan, for instance, or the legend of Christabel. In The Minstrel, indeed, there is but little invention; it is a poem of sentiment[Pg lxxvi] and description, conveying to us lessons of true philosophy in language of surpassing beauty, and displaying pictures of nature, in her romantic solitudes, painted by a master's hand. "On my once asking Dr. Beattie," says Sir William Forbes, "in what manner he had intended to employ his Minstrel, had he completed his original design of extending the poem to a third canto, he said, he proposed to have introduced a foreign enemy as invading his country, in consequence of which the Minstrel was to employ himself in rousing his countrymen to arms."[AC] But surely such a conclusion would have formed too violent a contrast to the repose of the earlier books; and the charm which attaches us to the meditative Edwin, while a wanderer among the lonely hills and groves, would have been broken, or at least weakened, by placing him amid the throng of warriors and the din of arms.

With the exception of The Hermit and the following exquisite stanza[AD] of Retirement, there is little worthy of particular notice in the minor poems of Beattie.

[A] "At his leisure hours he cultivated the muses. A journal kept by him, as well as some specimens of his poetry, are still in the possession of his descendants. This last circumstance is the more worthy of being noticed, as it proves that Dr. Beattie derived his poetical turn from his father."—Bower's Life of Beattie, 1804, p. 2.

[B] According to Bower, Beattie was supported at college by the generosity of his brother David, who accompanied him to Aberdeen, when he first quitted Laurencekirk to commence his course at the University. "The peculiar mode of their conveyance to Aberdeen is a matter of very trifling moment. It may not be unacceptable to some, however, to be informed, that they rode on one horse; and at a season of the year not the most agreeable for undertaking a journey (when good roads were unknown in Scotland) of thirty English miles."—Life of Beattie, 1804, p. 17.

[C] Life of Homer, Court of Augustus, &c.

[D] Bower's Life of Beattie, 1804, p. 89.

[E] Ibid. p. 100.

[F] Lord Gardenstone was himself a votary of the muses, though his verses are now forgotten. As a satirical poet he is far from contemptible.

[G] Robert Arbuthnot, Esq., Secretary to the Board of Trustees for Fisheries, Manufactures, and improvements in Scotland, who resided chiefly at Peterhead, where he carried on business as a merchant; a person of considerable taste and learning. He was nearly related to the famous Dr. Arbuthnot, the friend of Pope and Swift.

[H] Sir William Forbes says it "had a rapid sale." Mr. A. Chalmers, however (Poets, vol. xviii. p. 519), doubts if it was ever published for sale, except in Beattie's Poems, 1766, in the Advertisement to which we are told that it "appeared in a separate pamphlet in the beginning of the year 1765." I have been unable to meet with the original edition.

[I] I have been told that the poem consisted originally of only four stanzas, and that the two beautiful ones with which it now concludes were added, a considerable time after the others were written, at the request of Mrs. Carnegie, of Charlton, near Montrose. This lady, whose maiden name was Scott, was authoress of a poem called Dunotter Castle, printed in the second edition of Colman and Thornton's Poems by Eminent Ladies.

'Pentland Hills', for which Beattie wrote The Hermit, was an air composed by Mr. Tytler, of Woodhouselee, in imitation of the old Scottish melodies.

[J] On one occasion, I have been informed, she took some China jars from the chimney-piece, and carefully arranged them on the top of the parlour door, in order that when Beattie opened it, they might fall upon his head.

[K] Beattie's Verses were printed in the Aberdeen Journal, together with an introductory letter in prose also by him, signed "Oliver Oldstile." The writer of the Life of Ross, in that pleasing compilation, Lives of Scottish Poets, 3 vols. 1822, says: "The author of both productions was generally understood to be Dr. Beattie; and they have remained so long ascribed to him without contradiction, that there can be little doubt of their being from his pen." Part iii. p. 107. There is no doubt about the matter; Beattie owns them in a letter to Blacklock.—Forbes's Life of Beattie, vol. i. p. 153. ed. 1807. The Fortunate Shepherdess is a poem of great merit: to the second edition of it (and I believe to all subsequent editions) Beattie's verses are prefixed.

[L] Dr. Reid.

[M] Dr. Campbell.

[N] Mr. Hume, who at an early period had been the patron of Blacklock. Long before the date of this letter they had ceased to have any intercourse.


"O how canst thou renounce the boundless store
Of charms which Nature to her votary yields!
The warbling woodland, the resounding shore,
The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields;
All that the genial ray of morning gilds,
And all that echoes to the song of even,
All that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields,
And all the dread magnificence of heaven,
O, how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven!"

"I have often wished," says Beattie, in a note on Gray's letter, "to alter this same word [garniture], but have not yet been able to hit upon a better."

[P] See p. xv.

[Q] At a subsequent period, after the king had granted him a pension, he received two offers of church preferment in England—the one from Mr. Pitt, of Dorsetshire, of a living in that county worth £150 per annum, the other from Dr. Thomas, Bishop of Winchester, of a living in Hants, valued at £500 a year—neither of which he would accept. In the letter wherein he declines the second noble offer, he thus expresses himself:

"I wrote the 'Essays on Truth' with the certain prospect of raising many enemies, with very faint hopes of attracting the public attention, and without any views of advancing my fortune. I published it, however, because I thought it might probably do a little good, by bringing to nought, or, at least, lessening the reputation of that wretched system of sceptical philosophy, which had made a most alarming progress, and done incredible mischief to this country. My enemies have been at great pains to represent my views, in that publication, as very different: and that my principal, or only motive was to make a book, and, if possible, to raise myself higher in the world. So that, if I were now to accept preferment in the church, I should be apprehensive that I might strengthen the hands of the gainsayer, and give the world some ground to believe that my love of truth was not quite so ardent, or so pure, as I had pretended.

"Besides, might it not have the appearance of levity and insincerity, and, by some, be construed into a want of principle, if I were, at these years (for I am now thirty-eight), to make such an important change in my way of life, and to quit, with no other apparent motive than that of bettering my circumstances, that church of which I have hitherto been a member? If my book has any tendency to do good, as I flatter myself it has, I would not, for the wealth of the Indies, do any thing to counteract that tendency; and I am afraid that tendency might, in some measure be counteracted (at least in this country) if I were to give the adversary the least ground to charge me with inconsistency. It is true, that the force of my reasonings cannot be really affected by my character; truth is truth, whoever be the speaker; but even truth itself becomes less respectable, when spoken, or supposed to be spoken, by insincere lips.

"It has also been hinted to me, by several persons of very sound judgment, that what I have written, or may hereafter write in favour of religion, has a chance of being more attended to, if I continue a layman, than if I were to become a clergyman. Nor am I without apprehensions (though some of my friends think them ill founded) that, from entering so late in life, and from so remote a province, into the Church of England, some degree of ungracefulness, particularly in pronunciation, might adhere to my performances in public, sufficient to render them less pleasing, and consequently less useful."

[R] So Beattie names the figures in one of his letters; but Sir William Forbes tells us they are supposed to mean Sophistry, Scepticism, and Infidelity. The worthy Baronet proceeds to observe:

"Because one of these was a lean figure and the [an] other a fat one, people of lively imaginations pleased themselves with finding in them the portraits of Voltaire and Mr. Hume. But Sir Joshua, I have reason to believe, had no such thought when he painted those figures."

Surely Sir William had never read all the letters which he printed in his Life of Beattie, for in vol. ii. p. 42, octavo ed., we find the great painter writing to our poet as follows, in February, 1774:

"Mr. Hume has heard from somebody that he is introduced in the picture, not much to his credit; there is only a figure, covering his face with his hands, which they may call Hume or any body else; it is true it has a tolerable broad back. As for Voltaire, I intended he should be one of the group."

This fine picture is now at Aberdeen, in the possession of Beattie's niece, Mrs. Glennie.

[S] When Beattie was in London, in 1773, and when it was doubtful whether government would ever make any provision for him, his friends there set on foot a subscription for this work. "It was a thing," says he, in a letter to Lady Mayne, January, 1774, "of a private nature entirely; projected not by me, but by some of my friends, who had condescended to charge themselves with the whole trouble of it: it was never meant to be made public, nor put into the hands of booksellers, nor carried on by solicitation, but was to be considered as a voluntary mark of the approbation of some persons of rank and fortune, who wished it to be known that they patronized me on account of what I had written in defence of truth," &c. Prefixed to the volume is a list of nearly five hundred subscribers, among whom are many distinguished characters in church and state.

[T] A spurious edition of his Juvenile Poems, with some which he never wrote, from Dodsley's Collection, was put forth in 1780. This volume he disowned in a public advertisement.

[U] Perhaps it was not printed till the beginning of the following year. In a letter to Beattie, dated Feb. 1st, 1779, Mrs. Montagu says, "I was much pleased with your pamphlet on Psalmody."

[V] He was born in 1768, and was named after James Hay, Earl of Errol, our author's early patron.

[W] Writing from Edinburgh, 28th May, 1784, to his niece, Miss Valentine (now Mrs. Glennie), Beattie describes the sensation caused in that city by the performances of Mrs. Siddons. He says that he met her at the house of Lord Buchan; that he played to her many Scotch airs on the violoncello, with which she was much gratified; and that "she sung 'Queen Mary's Complaint' to admiration, and I had the honour to accompany her on the bass."—Forbes's Life of Beattie, vol. ii. p. 324, octavo ed.

I am informed, by the incomparable actress in question, that the quotation just given contains an utter falsehood, which, when Forbes's Life of our author first appeared, in 1806, she read with astonishment. She remembers perfectly having been introduced to Beattie at Lord Buchan's, but she is quite certain she did not sing either Queen Mary's Complaint or any other song; and she observes, that if she had sung to his accompaniment, the circumstance would have been so striking that it could not possibly have escaped her recollection.

Qy. Has Beattie's letter been mutilated, the person who transcribed it for the press having by mistake omitted some lines? and do the words "she sung," in the concluding sentence, refer to some other more musical lady, and not to Mrs. Siddons?

[X] He was so named after Mrs. Montagu. From one of Beattie's letters, dated 1789, it appears that she had made a handsome present of money to her godson.

[Y] I possess a copy of it which bears the following inscription:

"To William Hayley, Esq.,
in testimony of the utmost respect,
esteem, and gratitude, from J. Beattie.
1st January, 1796."

On one of its fly-leaves the ever-ready pen of Hayley has written the subjoined sonnet:


"Bard of the North! I thank thee with my tears
For this fond work of thy paternal hand:
It bids the buried youth before me stand
In nature's softest light, which love endears.
Parents like thee, whose grief the world reveres,
Faithful to pure affection's proud command,
For a lost child have lasting honours plann'd,
To give in fame what fate denied in years.
The filial form of Icarus was wrought
By his afflicted sire, the sire of art!
And Tullia's fane engross'd her father's heart:
That fane rose only in perturbed thought;
But sweet perfection crowns, as truth begun,
This Christian image of thy happier son."

[Z] It was afterwards published for sale in 1799. I extract from it a jeu d'esprit—one of those pieces which Beattie printed, in opposition to the advice of Sir William Forbes and some other grave friends.


Father Hodge[1] had his pipe and his dram,
And at night, his cloy'd thirst to awaken,
He was served with a rasher of ham,
Which procured him the surname of Bacon.
He has shown that, though logical science
And dry theory oft prove unhandy,
Honest Truth will ne'er set at defiance
Experiment, aided by brandy.
Des Cartes bore a musket, they tell us,
Ere he wished, or was able, to write,
And was noted among the brave fellows,
Who are bolder to tipple than fight.
Of his system the cause and design
We no more can be pos'd to explain:—
The materia subtilis was wine,
And the vortices whirl'd in his brain.
Old Hobbes, as his name plainly shows,
At a hob-nob was frequently tried:
That all virtue from selfishness rose
He believ'd, and all laughter from pride.[2]
The truth of his creed he would brag on,
Smoke his pipe, murder Homer,[3] and quaff,
Then staring, as drunk as a dragon,
In the pride of his heart he would laugh.
Sir Isaac discover'd, it seems,
The nature of colors and light,
In remarking the tremulous beams
That swom on his wandering sight.
Ever sapient, sober though seldom,
From experience attraction he found,
By observing, when no one upheld him,
That his wise head fell souse on the ground.
As to Berkley's philosophy—he has
Left his poor pupils nought to inherit,
But a swarm of deceitful ideas
Kept like other monsters, in spirit.[4]
Tar-drinkers can't think what's the matter,
That their health does not mend, but decline:
Why, they take but some wine to their water,
He took but some water to wine.
One Mandeville once, or Man-devil,
(Either name you may give as you please)
By a brain ever brooding on evil,
Hatch'd a monster call'd Fable of Bees,
Vice, said he, aggrandizes a people;[5]
By this light let my conduct be view'd;
I swagger, swear, guzzle, and tipple:
And d—— ye, 'tis all for your good.
David Hume ate a swinging great dinner,
And grew every day fatter and fatter;
And yet the huge hulk of a sinner
Said there was neither spirit nor matter.
Now there's no sober man in the nation,
Who such nonsense could write, speak, or think:
It follows, by fair demonstration,
That he philosophiz'd in his drink.
As a smuggler, even Priestley could sin;
Who, in hopes the poor gauger of frightening,
While he fill'd the case-bottles with gin,
Swore he fill'd them with thunder and lightning.[6]
In his cups, (when Locke's laid on the shelf),
Could he speak, he would frankly confess t' ye,
That unable to manage himself,
He puts his whole trust in Necessity.
If the young in rash folly engage,
How closely continues the evil!
Old Franklin retains, as a sage,
The thirst he acquired when a devil.[7]
That charging drives fire from a phial,
It was natural for him to think,
After finding, from many a trial,
That drought may be kindled by drink.
A certain high priest could explain,[8]
How the soul is but nerve at the most;
And how Milton had glands in his brain,
That secreted the Paradise Lost.
And sure it is what they deserve,
Of such theories if I aver it,
They are not even dictates of nerve,
But mere muddy suggestions of claret.
Our Holland Philosophers say, Gin
Is the true philosophical drink,
As it made Doctor Hartley imagine
That to shake is the same as to think.[9]
For, while drunkenness throbb'd in his brain,
The sturdy materialist chose (O fye!)
To believe its vibrations not pain,
But wisdom, and downright philosophy.
Ye sages, who shine in my verse,
On my labours with gratitude think,
Which condemn not the faults they rehearse,
But impute all your sin to your drink.
In drink, poets, philosophers, mob, err;
Then excuse if my satire e'er nips ye:
When I praise, think me prudent and sober,
If I blame, be assur'd I am tipsy.

[1] Roger Bacon, the father of experimental philosophy. He flourished in the thirteenth century.

[2] See The Spectator, No. 47.

[3] Hobbes was a great smoker, and wrote what some have been pleased to call a Translation of Homer.

[4] He taught that the external universe has no existence, but an ideal one, in the mind (or spirit) that perceives it; and he thought tar-water a universal remedy.

[5] Private vices public benefits.

[6] Electrical batteries.

[7] Bred a printer. This was written long before Dr. Franklin's death.

[8] Dr. L., Bp. of C., is probably the person here alluded to. He was a zealous materialist.

[9] He resolved Perception and Thinking into vibrations, and (what he called) vibratiuncles of the brain.

[AA] "I have been assured by those who were intimately acquainted with both, that of the two brothers, Montagu was in many respects the superior."

Bower's Life of Beattie, 1804, p. 210.

[AB] James Hay Beattie had a scientific knowledge of music, and, with the assistance of the Rev. Dr. Laing, had superintended the building an organ for himself. In one of our author's letters, 8th June, 1791, is the following passage:

"The organ of Durham cathedral was too much for my feelings; for it brought too powerfully to my remembrance another organ, much smaller, indeed, but more interesting, which I can never hear any more."

[AC] See, too, Beattie's letter to Blacklock, p. xv. of this memoir.


Thy shades, thy silence now be mine,
Thy charms my only theme;
My haunt the hollow cliff, whose pine
Waves o'er the gloomy stream:
Whence the scar'd owl on pinions gray
Breaks from the rustling boughs,
And down the lone vale sails away
To more profound repose.

[Pg 1]


January, 1777.

Having lately seen in print some poems ascribed to me which I never wrote, and some of my own inaccurately copied, I thought it would not be improper to publish, in this little volume, all the verses of which I am willing to be considered as the author. Many others I did indeed write in the early part of my life; but they were in general so incorrect, that I would not rescue them from oblivion, even if a wish could do it.

Some of the few now offered to the Public would perhaps have been suppressed, if in making this collection I had implicitly followed my own judgment. But in so small a matter, who would refuse to submit his opinion to that of a friend?

It is of no consequence to the reader to know the date of any of these little poems. But some private reasons determined the author to add, that[Pg 2] most of them were written many years age, and that the greatest part of the Minstrel, which is his latest attempt in this way, was composed in the year one thousand seven hundred and sixty-eight.

[Pg 3]


The design was to trace the progress of a Poetical Genius, born in a rude age, from the first dawning of fancy and reason, till that period at which he may be supposed capable of appearing in the world as a Minstrel, that is, as an itinerant Poet and Musician;—a character which, according to the notions of our forefathers, was not only respectable, but sacred.

I have endeavoured to imitate Spenser in the measure of his verse, and in the harmony, simplicity, and variety of his composition. Antique expressions I have avoided; admitting, however, some old words, where they seemed to suit the subject; but I hope none will be found that are now obsolete, or in any degree not intelligible to a reader of English poetry.

To those who may be disposed to ask, what could induce me to write in so difficult a measure, I can only answer that it pleases my ear, and[Pg 4] seems, from its Gothic structure and original, to bear some relation to the subject and spirit of the Poem. It admits both simplicity and magnificence of sound and of language beyond any other stanza that I am acquainted with. It allows the sententiousness of the couplet, as well as the more complex modulation of blank verse. What some critics have remarked, of its uniformity growing at last tiresome to the ear, will be found to hold true, only when the poetry is faulty in other respects.

[Pg 5]



Me vero primum dulces ante omnia Musæ,
Quarum sacra fero, ingenti perculsus amore,
Accipiant.——                                     VIRG.

[Pg 6]

[Pg 7]



Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
The steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar!
Ah! who can tell how many a soul sublime
Has felt the influence of malignant star,
And waged with Fortune an eternal war;
Check'd by the scoff of Pride, by Envy's frown,
And Poverty's unconquerable bar,
In life's low vale remote has pined alone,
Then dropt into the grave, unpitied and unknown!
And yet the languor of inglorious days,
Not equally oppressive is to all:
Him who ne'er listen'd to the voice of praise,
The silence of neglect can ne'er appall.
There are, who, deaf to mad Ambition's call,[Pg 8]
Would shrink to hear the obstreperous trump of Fame;
Supremely blest, if to their portion fall
Health, competence, and peace. Nor higher aim
Had he, whose simple tale these artless lines proclaim.
The rolls of fame I will not now explore;
Nor need I here describe, in learned lay,
How forth the Minstrel far'd in days of yore,
Right glad of heart, though homely in array;
His waving locks and beard all hoary gray;
While from his bending shoulder decent hung
His harp, the sole companion of his way,
Which to the whistling wind responsive rung:
And ever as he went some merry lay he sung.
Fret not thyself, thou glittering child of pride,
That a poor villager inspires my strain;
With thee let Pageantry and Power abide:
The gentle Muses haunt the sylvan reign;
Where thro' wild groves at eve the lonely swain
Enraptur'd roams, to gaze on Nature's charms:
They hate the sensual, and scorn the vain,
The parasite their influence never warms,
Nor him whose sordid soul the love of gold alarms.
[Pg 9]
Though richest hues the peacock's plumes adorn,
Yet horror screams from his discordant throat.
Rise, sons of harmony, and hail the morn,
While warbling larks on russet pinions float;
Or seek at noon the woodland scene remote,
Where the gray linnets carol from the hill:
O let them ne'er, with artificial note,
To please a tyrant, strain the little bill,
But sing what Heaven inspires, and wander where they will!
Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature's hand;
Nor was perfection made for man below:
Yet all her schemes with nicest art are plann'd,
Good counteracting ill, and gladness woe.
With gold and gems if Chilian mountains glow;
If bleak and barren Scotia's hills arise;
There plague and poison, lust and rapine grow;
Here peaceful are the vales, and pure the skies,
And freedom fires the soul, and sparkles in the eyes.
Then grieve not, thou, to whom th' indulgent Muse
Vouchsafes a portion of celestial fire;
Nor blame the partial Fates, if they refuse[Pg 10]
The imperial banquet, and the rich attire:
Know thine own worth, and reverence the lyre.
Wilt thou debase the heart which God refined?
No; let thy heaven-taught soul to heaven aspire,
To fancy, freedom, harmony, resign'd;
Ambition's grovelling crew for ever left behind.
Canst thou forego the pure ethereal soul
In each fine sense so exquisitely keen,
On the dull couch of Luxury to loll,
Stung with disease, and stupefied with spleen;
Fain to implore the aid of Flattery's screen,
Even from thyself thy loathsome heart to hide,
(The mansion then no more of joy serene),
Where fear, distrust, malevolence abide,
And impotent desire, and disappointed pride?
O how canst thou renounce the boundless store
Of charms which Nature to her votary yields!
The warbling woodland, the resounding shore,
The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields;
All that the genial ray of morning gilds,
And all that echoes to the song of even,
All that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields,
And all the dread magnificence of Heaven,
O how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven!
[Pg 11]
These charms shall work thy soul's eternal health,
And love, and gentleness, and joy impart.
But these thou must renounce, if lust of wealth
E'er win its way to thy corrupted heart:
For, ah! it poisons like a scorpion's dart;
Prompting th' ungenerous wish, the selfish scheme,
The stern resolve unmov'd by pity's smart,
The troublous day, and long distressful dream.
Return, my roving Muse, resume thy purpos'd theme.
There liv'd in gothic days, as legends tell,
A shepherd swain, a man of low degree;
Whose sires, perchance, in Fairyland might dwell,
Sicilian groves, or vales of Arcady;
But he, I ween, was of the north countrie;[1]
A nation famed for song, and beauty's charms;
Zealous, yet modest; innocent, though free;
Patient of toil; serene amidst alarms;
[Pg 12] Inflexible in faith; invincible in arms.
The shepherd-swain of whom I mention made,
On Scotia's mountains fed his little flock;
The sickle, scythe, or plough, he never sway'd;
An honest heart was almost all his stock:
His drink the living water from the rock;
The milky dams supplied his board, and lent
Their kindly fleece to baffle winter's shock;
And he, tho' oft with dust and sweat besprent,
Did guide and guard their wanderings, wheresoe'er they went.
From labour health, from health contentment springs:
Contentment opes the source of every joy.
He envied not, he never thought of, kings;
Nor from those appetites sustain'd annoy,
That chance may frustrate, or indulgence cloy:
Nor Fate his calm and humble hopes beguil'd;
He mourn'd no recreant friend, nor mistress coy,
For on his vows the blameless Phœbe smil'd,
And her alone he lov'd, and lov'd her from a child.
No jealousy their dawn of love o'ercast,
Nor blasted were their wedded days with strife;
Each season look'd delightful, as it past,
To the fond husband, and the faithful wife.[Pg 13]
Beyond the lowly vale of shepherd life
They never roam'd: secure beneath the storm
Which in Ambition's lofty land is rife,
Where peace and love are canker'd by the worm
Of pride, each bud of joy industrious to deform.
The wight, whose tale these artless lines unfold,
Was all the offspring of this humble pair;
His birth no oracle or seer foretold;
No prodigy appear'd in earth or air,
Nor aught that might a strange event declare.
You guess each circumstance of Edwin's birth;
The parent's transport, and the parent's care;
The gossip's prayer for wealth, and wit, and worth;
And one long summer day of indolence and mirth.
And yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy,
Deep thought oft seem'd to fix his infant eye.
Dainties he heeded not, nor gaud, nor toy,
Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy:
Silent when glad; affectionate, though shy;
And now his look was most demurely sad;
And now he laugh'd aloud, yet none knew why.
The neighbours star'd and sigh'd, yet bless'd the lad:
Some deem'd him wondrous wise, and some believ'd him mad.
[Pg 14]
But why should I his childish feats display?
Concourse, and noise, and toil he ever fled;
Nor car'd to mingle in the clamorous fray
Of squabbling imps; but to the forest sped,
Or roam'd at large the lonely mountain's head,
Or, where the maze of some bewilder'd stream
To deep untrodden groves his footsteps led,
There would he wander wild, till Phœbus' beam,
Shot from the western cliff, releas'd the weary team.
Th' exploit of strength, dexterity, or speed,
To him nor vanity nor joy could bring.
His heart, from cruel sport estrang'd, would bleed
To work the woe of any living thing,
By trap, or net; by arrow, or by sling;
These he detested; those he scorn'd to wield:
He wish'd to be the guardian, not the king,
Tyrant far less, or traitor of the field;
And sure the sylvan reign unbloody joy might yield.
Lo! where the stripling, wrapt in wonder, roves
Beneath the precipice o'erhung with pine;
And sees, on high, amidst th' encircling groves,
From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents shine:[Pg 15]
While waters, woods, and winds, in concert join,
And Echo swells the chorus to the skies.
Would Edwin this majestic scene resign
For aught the huntsman's puny craft supplies?
Ah! no: he better knows great Nature's charms to prize.
And oft he trac'd the uplands, to survey,
When o'er the sky advanc'd the kindling dawn,
The crimson cloud, blue main, and mountain gray,
And lake, dim gleaming on the smoky lawn:
Far to the west the long long vale withdrawn,
Where twilight loves to linger for a while;
And now he faintly kens the bounding fawn,
And villager abroad at early toil.
But, lo! the Sun appears! and heaven, earth, ocean, smile.
And oft the craggy cliff he loved to climb,
When all in mist the world below was lost.
What dreadful pleasure! there to stand sublime,
Like shipwreck'd mariner on desert coast,
And view th' enormous waste of vapour, tost
In billows, lengthening to th' horizon round,
Now scoop'd in gulfs, with mountains now emboss'd!
And hear the voice of mirth and song rebound,
Flocks, herds, and waterfalls, along the hoar profound!
[Pg 16]
In truth he was a strange and wayward wight,
Fond of each gentle, and each dreadful scene.
In darkness and in storm he found delight:
Nor less, than when on ocean wave serene
The southern Sun diffus'd his dazzling shene.[2]
Even sad vicissitude amus'd his soul:
And if a sigh would sometimes intervene,
And down his cheek a tear of pity roll,
A sigh, a tear, so sweet, he wish'd not to control.
"O ye wild groves, O where is now your bloom!"
(The Muse interprets thus his tender thought)
"Your flowers, your verdure, and your balmy gloom,
Of late so grateful in the hour of drought!
Why do the birds, that song and rapture brought
To all your bowers, their mansions now forsake?
Ah! why has fickle chance this ruin wrought?
For now the storm howls mournful through the brake,
And the dead foliage flies in many a shapeless flake.
[Pg 17]XXIV.
"Where now the rill, melodious, pure, and cool,
And meads, with life, and mirth, and beauty crown'd!
Ah! see, th' unsightly slime and sluggish pool
Have all the solitary vale imbrown'd;
Fled each fair form, and mute each melting sound,
The raven croaks forlorn on naked spray:
And, hark! the river, bursting every mound,
Down the vale thunders, and with wasteful sway
Uproots the grove, and rolls the shatter'd rocks away.
"Yet such the destiny of all on Earth:
So flourishes and fades majestic Man.
Fair is the bud his vernal morn brings forth,
And fostering gales awhile the nursling fan.
O smile, ye heavens, serene; ye mildews wan,
Ye blighting whirlwinds, spare his balmy prime
Nor lessen of his life the little span!
Borne on the swift, though silent wings of Time,
Old age comes on apace to ravage all the clime.
"And be it so. Let those deplore their doom,
Whose hope still grovels in this dark sojourn:
But lofty souls, who look beyond the tomb,
Can smile at Fate, and wonder how they mourn.
[Pg 18]Shall Spring to these sad scenes no more return?
Is yonder wave the Sun's eternal bed?
Soon shall the orient with new lustre burn,
And Spring shall soon her vital influence shed,
Again attune the grove, again adorn the mead.
"Shall I be left forgotten in the dust,
When Fate, relenting, lets the flower revive?
Shall Nature's voice, to man alone unjust,
Bid him, though doom'd to perish, hope to live?
Is it for this fair Virtue oft must strive
With disappointment, penury, and pain?
No: Heaven's immortal spring shall yet arrive
And man's majestic beauty bloom again,
Bright through th' eternal year of Love's triumphant reign."
This truth sublime his simple sire had taught.
In sooth, 'twas almost all the shepherd knew.
No subtle nor superfluous lore he sought,
Nor ever wish'd his Edwin to pursue.
"Let man's own sphere," said he, "confine his view,
Be man's peculiar work his sole delight."
And much, and oft, he warn'd him to eschew
Falsehood and guile, and aye maintain the right,
By pleasure unseduc'd, unaw'd by lawless might.
[Pg 19]
"And, from the prayer of Want, and plaint of Woe,
O never, never turn away thine ear!
Forlorn, in this bleak wilderness below,
Ah! what were man, should Heaven refuse to hear!
To others do (the law is not severe)
What to thyself thou wishest to be done.
Forgive thy foes; and love thy parents dear,
And friends, and native land; nor those alone;
All human weal and woe learn thou to make thine own."
See, in the rear of the warm sunny shower
The visionary boy from shelter fly;
For now the storm of summer rain is o'er,
And cool, and fresh, and fragrant is the sky,
And, lo! in the dark east, expanded high,
The rainbow brightens to the setting Sun!
Fond fool, that deem'st the streaming glory nigh,
How vain the chace thine ardour has begun!
'Tis fled afar, ere half thy purpos'd race be run.
Yet could'st thou learn, that thus it fares with age,
When pleasure, wealth, or power, the bosom warm,
[Pg 20]This baffled hope might tame thy manhood's rage,
And disappointment of her sting disarm.
But why should foresight thy fond heart alarm?
Perish the lore that deadens young desire;
Pursue, poor imp, th' imaginary charm,
Indulge gay hope, and fancy's pleasing fire:
Fancy and hope too soon shall of themselves expire.
When the long-sounding curfew from afar
Loaded with loud lament the lonely gale,
Young Edwin, lighted by the evening star,
Lingering and listening, wander'd down the vale.
There would he dream of graves, and corses pale;
And ghosts that to the charnel dungeon throng,
And drag a length of clanking chain, and wail,
Till silenc'd by the owl's terrific song,
Or blast that shrieks by fits the shuddering isles along.
Or, when the setting Moon, in crimson dy'd,
Hung o'er the dark and melancholy deep,
To haunted stream, remote from man, he hied,
Where fays of yore their revels wont to keep;
And there let Fancy rove at large, till sleep
A vision brought to his entranced sight.
And first, a wildly murmuring wind 'gan creep
Shrill to his ringing ear; then tapers bright,
With instantaneous gleam, illum'd the vault of night.
[Pg 21]
Anon in view a portal's blazon'd arch
Arose; the trumpet bids the valves unfold;
And forth an host of little warriors march,
Grasping the diamond lance, and targe of gold.
Their look was gentle, their demeanour bold,
And green their helms, and green their silk attire;
And here and there, right venerably old,
The long-rob'd minstrels wake the warbling wire,
And some with mellow breath the martial pipe inspire.
With merriment, and song, and timbrels clear,
A troop of dames from myrtle bowers advance;
The little warriors doff the targe and spear,
And loud enlivening strains provoke the dance.
They meet, they dart away, they wheel askance;
To right, to left, they thrid the flying maze;
Now bound aloft with vigorous spring, then glance
Rapid along: with many-colour'd rays
Of tapers, gems, and gold, the echoing forests blaze.
The dream is fled. Proud harbinger of day,
Who scar'dst the vision with thy clarion shrill,
Fell chanticleer! who oft hast reft away
My fancied good, and brought substantial ill!
[Pg 22]O to thy cursed scream, discordant still,
Let harmony aye shut her gentle ear;
Thy boastful mirth let jealous rivals spill,
Insult thy crest, and glossy pinions tear,
And ever in thy dreams the ruthless fox appear!
Forbear, my Muse. Let Love attune thy line.
Revoke the spell. Thine Edwin frets not so.
For how should he at wicked chance repine,
Who feels from every change amusement flow!
Even now his eyes with smiles of rapture glow,
As on he wanders through the scenes of morn,
Where the fresh flowers in living lustre blow,
Where thousand pearls the dewy lawns adorn,
A thousand notes of joy in every breeze are borne.
But who the melodies of morn can tell?
The wild brook babbling down the mountain side;
The lowing herd; the sheepfold's simple bell;
The pipe of early shepherd dim descried
In the lone valley; echoing far and wide
The clamorous horn along the cliffs above;
The hollow murmur of the ocean-tide;
The hum of bees, the linnet's lay of love,
And the full choir that wakes the universal grove.
[Pg 23]
The cottage curs at early pilgrim bark;
Crown'd with her pail the tripping milkmaid sings;
The whistling ploughman stalks afield; and, hark!
Down the rough slope the ponderous wagon rings;
Thro' rustling corn the hare astonish'd springs;
Slow tolls the village clock the drowsy hour;
The partridge bursts away on whirring wings;
Deep mourns the turtle in sequester'd bower,
And shrill lark carols clear from her aërial tour.
O Nature, how in every charm supreme!
Whose votaries feast on raptures ever new!
O for the voice and fire of seraphim,
To sing thy glories with devotion due!
Blest be the day I 'scap'd the wrangling crew,
From Pyrrho's maze, and Epicurus' sty;
And held high converse with the godlike few,
Who to th' enraptur'd heart, and ear, and eye,
Teach beauty, virtue, truth and love, and melody.
Hence! ye, who snare and stupefy the mind,
Sophists, of beauty, virtue, joy, the bane!
Greedy and fell, though impotent and blind,
Who spread your filthy nets in Truth's fair fane,
[Pg 24]And ever ply your venom'd fangs amain!
Hence to dark Error's den, whose rankling slime
First gave you form! Hence! lest the Muse should deign
(Though loath on theme so mean to waste a rhyme,)
With vengeance to pursue you sacrilegious crime.
But hail, ye mighty masters of the lay,
Nature's true sons, the friends of man and truth!
Whose song, sublimely sweet, serenely gay,
Amus'd my childhood, and inform'd my youth.
O let your spirit still my bosom soothe,
Inspire my dreams, and my wild wanderings guide!
Your voice each rugged path of life can smooth,
For well I know wherever ye reside,
There harmony, and peace, and innocence abide.
Ah me! neglected on the lonesome plain,
As yet poor Edwin never knew your lore,
Save when against the winter's drenching rain,
And driving snow, the cottage shut the door.
Then, as instructed by tradition hoar,
Her legend when the Beldam 'gan impart,
Or chant the old heroic ditty o'er,
Wonder and joy ran thrilling to his heart;
Much he the tale admir'd, but more the tuneful art.
[Pg 25]
Various and strange was the long-winded tale;
And halls, and knights, and feats of arms display'd;
Or merry swains, who quaff the nut-brown ale,
And sing enamour'd of the nut-brown maid;
The moonlight revel of the fairy glade;
Or hags, that suckle an infernal brood,
And ply in caves th' unutterable trade,[3]
Midst fiends and spectres, quench the moon in blood,
Yell in the midnight storm, or ride th' infuriate flood.
But when to horror his amazement rose,
A gentler strain the Beldam would rehearse,
A tale of rural life, a tale of woes,
The orphan-babes, and guardian uncle fierce.
O cruel! will no pang of pity pierce
That heart by lust of lucre sear'd to stone?
For sure, if aught of virtue last, or verse,
To latest times shall tender souls bemoan
Those hopeless orphan-babes by thy fell arts undone.
[Pg 26]XLVI.
Behold, with berries smear'd, with brambles torn,[4]
The babes now famish'd lay them down to die;
Amidst the howl of darksome woods forlorn,
Folded in one another's arms they lie;
Nor friend nor stranger hears their dying cry;
"For from the town the man returns no more."
But thou, who Heaven's just vengeance dar'st defy,
This deed with fruitless tears shalt soon deplore,
When death lays waste thy house, and flames consume thy store.
A stifled smile of stern vindictive joy
Brighten'd one moment Edwin's starting tear,
"But why should gold man's feeble mind decoy,
And innocence thus die by doom severe?"
O Edwin! while thy heart is yet sincere,
Th' assaults of discontent and doubt repel:
Dark even at noontide is our mortal sphere;
But let us hope; to doubt is to rebel;
Let us exult in hope, that all shall yet be well.
[Pg 27] XLVIII.
Nor be thy generous indignation check'd,
Nor check'd the tender tear to Misery given;
From Guilt's contagious power shall that protect,
This soften and refine the soul for heaven.
But dreadful is their doom, whom doubt has driven
To censure Fate, and pious Hope forego:
Like yonder blasted boughs by lightning riven,
Perfection, beauty, life, they never know,
But frown on all that pass, a monument of woe.
Shall he, whose birth, maturity, and age,
Scarce fill the circle of one summer day,
Shall the poor gnat, with discontent and rage,
Exclaim that nature hastens to decay,
If but a cloud obstruct the solar ray,
If but a momentary shower descend!
Or shall frail man Heaven's dread decree gainsay,
Which bade the series of events extend
Wide through unnumber'd worlds, and ages without end!
One part, one little part, we dimly scan
Thro' the dark medium of life's feverish dream;
Yet dare arraign the whole stupendous plan,[Pg 28]
If but that little part incongruous seem.
Nor is that part perhaps what mortals deem;
Oft from apparent ill our blessings rise.
O then renounce that impious self-esteem,
That aims to trace the secrets of the skies!
For thou art but of dust; be humble, and be wise.
Thus Heaven enlarged his soul in riper years.
For Nature gave him strength, and fire, to soar
On Fancy's wing above this vale of tears;
Where dark cold-hearted sceptics, creeping, pore
Through microscope of metaphysic lore:
And much they grope for Truth, but never hit.
For why? Their powers inadequate before,
This idle art makes more and more unfit;
Yet deem they darkness light, and their vain blunders wit.
Nor was this ancient Dame a foe to mirth.
Her ballad, jest, and riddle's quaint device
Oft cheer'd the shepherds round their social hearth;
Whom levity or spleen could ne'er entice
To purchase chat or laughter at the price
Of decency. Nor let it faith exceed,
That Nature forms a rustic taste so nice.
Ah! had they been of court or city breed,
Such delicacy were right marvellous indeed.
[Pg 29]
Oft when the winter storm had ceas'd to rave,
He roam'd the snowy waste at even, to view
The cloud stupendous, from th' Atlantic wave
High-towering, sail along th' horizon blue:
Where, midst the changeful scenery, ever new,
Fancy a thousand wondrous forms descries,
More wildly great than ever pencil drew,
Rocks, torrents, gulfs, and shapes of giant size,
And glittering cliffs on cliffs, and fiery ramparts rise.
Thence musing onward to the sounding shore,
The lone enthusiast oft would take his way,
Listening, with pleasing dread, to the deep roar
Of the wide-weltering waves. In black array
When sulphurous clouds roll'd on th' autumnal day,
Even then he hasten'd from the haunt of man,
Along the trembling wilderness to stray,
What time the lightning's fierce career began,
And o'er heaven's rending arch the rattling thunder ran.
Responsive to the sprightly pipe, when all
In sprightly dance the village youth were join'd,
Edwin, of melody aye held in thrall,
From the rude gambol far remote reclin'd,
[Pg 30]Sooth'd with the soft notes warbling in the wind.
Ah then, all jollity seem'd noise and folly,
To the pure soul by Fancy's fire refin'd!
Ah, what is mirth but turbulence unholy,
When with the charm compar'd of heavenly melancholy!
Is there a heart that music cannot melt?
Alas! how is that rugged heart forlorn;
Is there, who ne'er those mystic transports felt
Of solitude and melancholy born?
He needs not woo the Muse; he is her scorn.
The sophist's rope of cobweb he shall twine;
Mope o'er the schoolman's peevish page; or mourn,
And delve for life in Mammon's dirty mine;
Sneak with the scoundrel fox, or grunt with glutton swine.
For Edwin Fate a nobler doom had plann'd;
Song was his favourite and first pursuit.
The wild harp rang to his adventurous hand,
And languish'd to his breath the plaintive flute.
His infant Muse, though artless, was not mute:
Of elegance as yet he took no care;
For this of time and culture is the fruit;
And Edwin gain'd at last this fruit so rare:
As in some future verse I purpose to declare.
[Pg 31]
Meanwhile, whate'er of beautiful, or new,
Sublime, or dreadful, in earth, sea, or sky,
By chance, or search was offered to his view,
He scann'd with curious and romantic eye.
Whate'er of lore tradition could supply
From gothic tale, or song, or fable old,
Rous'd him, still keen to listen and to pry.
At last, though long by penury control'd,
And solitude, his soul her graces 'gan unfold.
Thus on the chill Lapponian's dreary land,
For many a long month lost in snow profound,
When Sol from Cancer sends the season bland,
And in their northern cave the storms are bound;
From silent mountains, straight, with startling sound,
Torrents are hurl'd; green hills emerge; and lo,
The trees with foliage, cliffs with flowers are crown'd;
Pure rills through vales of verdure warbling go;
And wonder, love, and joy, the peasant's heart o'erflow.[5]
[Pg 32] LX.
Here pause, my gothic lyre, a little while.
The leisure hour is all that thou canst claim.
But on this verse if Montagu should smile,
New strains ere long shall animate thy frame.
And her applause to me is more than fame;
For still with truth accords her taste refined.
At lucre or renown let others aim,
I only wish to please the gentle mind,
Whom Nature's charms inspire, and love of human kind.

[1] There is hardly an ancient ballad, or romance wherein a Minstrel or a Harper appears, but he is characterized, by way of eminence, to have been "of the north countrie." It is probable, that under this appellation were formerly comprehended all the provinces to the north of the Trent. See Percy's Essay on the English Minstrels.

[2] Brightness, splendour. The word is used by some late writers, as well as by Milton.

[3] Allusion to Shakspeare.

Macbeth.   How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags?
  What is 't you do?
Witches.     A deed without a name.
Macbeth, Act iv. Scene 1.

[4] See the fine old ballad, called The Children in the Wood.

[5] Spring and Autumn are hardly known to the Laplanders. About the time the Sun enters Cancer, their fields which a week before were covered with snow, appear on a sudden full of grass and flowers.—Scheffer's History of Lapland, p. 16.

[Pg 33]



Doctrina sed vim promovet insitam,
Rectique cultus pectora roborant.                                     HORAT.

[Pg 34]

[Pg 35]



Of chance or change O let not man complain,
Else shall he never never cease to wail:
For, from the imperial dome, to where the swain
Rears the lone cottage in the silent dale,
All feel th' assault of fortune's fickle gale;
Art, empire, earth itself, to change are doom'd;
Earthquakes have rais'd to heaven the humble vale:
And gulfs the mountain's mighty mass entomb'd,
And where th' Atlantic rolls wide continents have bloom'd.[1]
But sure to foreign climes we need not range,
Nor search the ancient records of our race,
To learn the dire effects of time and change,
Which in ourselves, alas! we daily trace.
[Pg 36]Yet at the darken'd eye, the wither'd face,
Or hoary hair, I never will repine:
But spare, O Time, whate'er of mental grace,
Of candour, love, or sympathy divine,
Whate'er of fancy's ray, or friendship's flame is mine!
So I, obsequious to truth's dread command,
Shall here without reluctance change my lay,
And smite the gothic lyre with harsher hand;
Now when I leave that flowery path for aye
Of childhood, where I sported many a day,
Warbling and sauntering carelessly along;
Where every face was innocent and gay,
Each vale romantic, tuneful every tongue,
Sweet, wild, and artless all, as Edwin's infant song.
"Perish the lore that deadens young desire,"
Is the soft tenor of my song no more.
Edwin, though lov'd of Heaven, must not aspire
To bliss, which mortals never knew before.
On trembling wings let youthful fancy soar,
Nor always haunt the sunny realms of joy:
But now and then the shades of life explore;
Though many a sound and sight of woe annoy,
And many a qualm of care his rising hopes destroy.
[Pg 37]
Vigour from toil, from trouble patience grows,
The weakly blossom, warm in summer bower,
Some tints of transient beauty may disclose;
But soon it withers in the chilling hour.
Mark yonder oaks! Superior to the power
Of all the warring winds of heaven they rise,
And from the stormy promontory tower,
And toss their giant arms amid the skies,
While each assailing blast increase of strength supplies.
And now the downy cheek and deepen'd voice
Gave dignity to Edwin's blooming prime;
And walks of wider circuit were his choice,
And vales more wild, and mountains more sublime.
One evening, as he fram'd the careless rhyme,
It was his chance to wander far abroad,
And o'er a lonely eminence to climb,
Which heretofore his foot had never trode;
A vale appear'd below, a deep retir'd abode.
Thither he hied, enamour'd of the scene.
For rocks on rocks piled, as by magic spell,
Here scorch'd with lightning, there with ivy green,
Fenc'd from the north and east this savage dell.[Pg 38]
Southward a mountain rose with easy swell,
Whose long long groves eternal murmur made:
And toward the western sun a streamlet fell,
Where, through the cliffs, the eye, remote, survey'd
Blue hills, and glittering waves, and skies in gold array'd.
Along this narrow valley you might see
The wild deer sporting on the meadow ground,
And, here and there, a solitary tree,
Or mossy stone, or rock with woodbine crown'd.
Oft did the cliffs reverberate the sound
Of parted fragments tumbling from on high;
And from the summit of that craggy mound
The perching eagle oft was heard to cry,
Or on resounding wings, to shoot athwart the sky.
One cultivated spot there was, that spread
Its flowery bosom to the noonday beam,
Where many a rosebud rears its blushing head,
And herbs for food with future plenty teem.
Sooth'd by the lulling sound of grove and stream,
Romantic visions swarm on Edwin's soul:
He minded not the sun's last trembling gleam,
Nor heard from far the twilight curfew toll;
When slowly on his ear these moving accents Stole:
[Pg 39]
"Hail, awful scenes, that calm the troubled breast,
And woo the weary to profound repose!
Can passion's wildest uproar lay to rest,
And whisper comfort to the man of woes!
Here innocence may wander, safe from foes,
And Contemplation soar on seraph wings.
O Solitude! the man who thee foregoes,
When lucre lures him, or ambition stings,
Shall never know the source whence real grandeur springs.
"Vain man! is grandeur given to gay attire?
Then let the butterfly thy pride upbraid:
To friends, attendants, armies, bought with hire?
It is thy weakness that requires their aid:
To palaces, with gold and gems inlaid?
They fear the thief and tremble in the storm:
To hosts, through carnage who to conquest wade?
Behold the victor vanquish'd by the worm!
Behold, what deeds of woe the locust can perform!
"True dignity is his whose tranquil mind
Virtue has raised above the things below;
Who every hope and fear to Heaven resign'd,
Shrinks not, though Fortune aim her deadliest blow."[Pg 40]
This strain from 'midst the rocks was heard to flow
In solemn sounds. Now beam'd the evening star;
And from embattled clouds emerging slow
Cynthia came riding on her silver car;
And hoary mountain-cliffs shone faintly from afar.
Soon did the solemn voice its theme renew;
(While Edwin wrapt in wonder listening stood)
"Ye tools and toys of tyranny, adieu,
Scorn'd by the wise, and hated by the good!
Ye only can engage the servile brood
Of Levity and Lust, who all their days,
Asham'd of truth and liberty, have woo'd
And hugg'd the chain that, glittering on their gaze,
Seems to outshine the pomp of heaven's empyreal blaze.
"Like them, abandon'd to Ambition's sway,
I sought for glory in the paths of guile;
And fawn'd and smil'd, to plunder and betray,
Myself betray'd and plunder'd all the while;
So gnaw'd the viper the corroding file:
But now, with pangs of keen remorse, I rue
Those years of trouble and debasement vile.
Yet why should I this cruel theme pursue!
Fly, fly, detested thoughts, for ever from my view!
[Pg 41]
"The gusts of appetite, the clouds of care,
And storms of disappointment, all o'erpast,
Henceforth no earthly hope with Heaven shall share
This heart, where peace serenely shines at last.
And if for me no treasure be amass'd,
And if no future age shall hear my name,
I lurk the more secure from fortune's blast,
And with more leisure feed this pious flame,
Whose rapture far transcends the fairest hopes of fame.
"The end and the reward of toil is rest.
Be all my prayer for virtue and for peace.
Of wealth and fame, of pomp and power possess'd,
Who ever felt his weight of woe decrease!
Ah! what avails the lore of Rome and Greece,
The lay heaven-prompted, and harmonious string,
The dust of Ophir, or the Tyrian fleece,
All that art, fortune, enterprise, can bring,
If envy, scorn, remorse, or pride, the bosom wring!
"Let Vanity adorn the marble tomb
With trophies, rhymes, and scutcheons of renown,
In the deep dungeon of some gothic dome,[Pg 42]
Where night and desolation ever frown.
Mine be the breezy hill that skirts the down;
Where a green grassy turf is all I crave,
With here and there a violet bestrown,
Fast by a brook or fountain's murmuring wave;
And many an evening sun shine sweetly on my grave.
"And thither let the village swain repair;
And, light of heart, the village maiden gay,
To deck with flowers her half-dishevel'd hair,
And celebrate the merry morn of May.
There let the shepherd's pipe the livelong day
Fill all the grove with love's bewitching woe;
And when mild Evening comes in mantle gray,
Let not the blooming band make haste to go;
No ghost, nor spell, my long, my last abode shall know.
"For though I fly to 'scape from Fortune's rage,
And bear the scars of envy, spite, and scorn,
Yet with mankind no horrid war I wage,
Yet with no impious spleen my breast is torn:
For virtue lost, and ruin'd man, I mourn.
O man! creation's pride, Heaven's darling child,
Whom Nature's best, divinest gifts adorn,
Why from thy home are truth and joy exil'd,
And all thy favourite haunts with blood and tears defil'd?
[Pg 43]
"Along yon glittering sky what glory streams!
What majesty attends Night's lovely queen!
Fair laugh our valleys in the vernal beams;
And mountains rise, and oceans roll between,
And all conspire to beautify the scene.
But, in the mental world, what chaos drear!
What forms of mournful, loathsome, furious mien!
O when shall that eternal morn appear,
These dreadful forms to chase, this chaos dark to clear!
"O Thou, at whose creative smile, yon heaven,
In all the pomp of beauty, life, and light,
Rose from th' abyss; when dark Confusion, driven
Down, down the bottomless profound of night,
Fled, where he ever flies thy piercing sight!
O glance on these sad shades one pitying ray,
To blast the fury of oppressive might,
Melt the hard heart to love and mercy's sway,
And cheer the wandering soul, and light him on the way!"
Silence ensu'd; and Edwin rais'd his eyes
In tears, for grief lay heavy at his heart.
"And is it thus in courtly life," he cries,
"That man to man acts a betrayer's part?[Pg 44]
And dares he thus the gifts of Heaven pervert,
Each social instinct, and sublime desire?
Hail Poverty, if honour, wealth, and art,
If what the great pursue, and learn'd admire,
Thus dissipate and quench the soul's ethereal fire!"
He said, and turn'd away; nor did the sage
O'erhear, in silent orisons employ'd.
The youth, his rising sorrow to assuage,
Home as he hied, the evening scene enjoy'd:
For now no cloud obscures the starry void;
The yellow moonlight sleeps on all the hills;[2]
Nor is the mind with startling sounds annoy'd,
A soothing murmur the lone region fills,
Of groves, and dying gales, and melancholy rills.
But he from day to day more anxious grew,
The voice still seem'd to vibrate on his ear.
Nor durst he hope the hermit's tale untrue;
For man he seem'd to love, and Heaven to fear;
And none speaks false, where there is none to hear.
"Yet can man's gentle heart become so fell!
No more in vain conjecture let me wear
My hours away, but seek the hermit's cell;
'Tis he my doubt can clear, perhaps my care dispel."
[Pg 45] At early dawn the youth his journey took,
And many a mountain pass'd and valley wide,
Then reach'd the wild; where, in a flowery nook,
And seated on a mossy stone, he spied
An ancient man: his harp lay him beside.
A stag sprang from the pasture at his call,
And, kneeling, lick'd the wither'd hand that tied
A wreath of woodbine round his antlers tall,
And hung his lofty neck with many a flow'ret small.
And now the hoary sage arose, and saw
The wanderer approaching: innocence
Smil'd on his glowing cheek, but modest awe
Depress'd his eye, that fear'd to give offence.
"Who art thou, courteous stranger? and from whence?
Why roam thy steps to this sequester'd dale?"
"A shepherd-boy," the youth replied, "far hence
My habitation; hear my artless tale;
Nor levity nor falsehood shall thine ear assail.
"Late as I roam'd, intent on Nature's charms,
I reach'd at eve this wilderness profound;
And, leaning where yon oak expands her arms,
Heard these rude cliffs thine awful voice rebound:[Pg 46]
(For in thy speech I recognize the sound).
You mourn'd for ruin'd man, and virtue lost,
And seem'd to feel of keen remorse the wound,
Pondering on former days by guilt engross'd,
Or in the giddy storm of dissipation toss'd.
"But say, in courtly life can craft be learn'd,
Where knowledge opens, and exalts the soul?
Where Fortune lavishes her gifts unearn'd,
Can selfishness the liberal heart control?
Is glory there achiev'd by arts, as foul
As those that felons, fiends, and furies plan?
Spiders ensnare, snakes poison, tigers prowl;
Love is the godlike attribute of man.
O teach a simple youth this mystery to scan!
"Or else the lamentable strain disclaim,
And give me back the calm, contented mind;
Which, late exulting, view'd in Nature's frame,
Goodness untainted, wisdom unconfin'd,
Grace, grandeur, and utility combin'd.
Restore those tranquil days, that saw me still
Well pleas'd with all, but most with humankind;
When Fancy roam'd through Nature's works at will,
Uncheck'd by cold distrust, and uninform'd of ill."
[Pg 47]
"Wouldst thou," the sage replied, "in peace return
To the gay dreams of fond romantic youth,
Leave me to hide, in this remote sojourn,
From every gentle ear the dreadful truth:
For if my desultory strain with ruth
And indignation make thine eyes o'erflow,
Alas! what comfort could thy anguish soothe,
Shouldst thou th' extent of human folly know.
Be ignorance thy choice, where knowledge leads to woe.
"But let untender thoughts afar be driven;
Nor venture to arraign the dread decree.
For know, to man, as candidate for heaven,
The voice of the Eternal said, Be free:
And this divine prerogative to thee
Does virtue, happiness, and heaven convey;
For virtue is the child of liberty,
And happiness of virtue; nor can they
Be free to keep the path, who are not free to stray.
"Yet leave me not. I would allay that grief,
Which else might thy young virtue overpower;
And in thy converse I shall find relief;
When the dark shades of melancholy lower;[Pg 48]
For solitude has many a dreary hour,
Even when exempt from grief, remorse, and pain:
Come often then; for, haply, in my bower,
Amusement, knowledge, wisdom thou may'st gain:
If I one soul improve, I have not liv'd in vain."
And now, at length, to Edwin's ardent gaze
The Muse of history unrolls her page.
But few, alas! the scenes her art displays,
To charm his fancy, or his heart engage.
Here chiefs their thirst of power in blood assuage,
And straight their flames with tenfold fierceness burn:
Here smiling Virtue prompts the patriot's rage,
But lo, ere long, is left alone to mourn,
And languish in the dust, and clasp the abandon'd urn!
"Ambition's slippery verge shall mortals tread,
Where ruin's gulf unfathom'd yawns beneath?
Shall life, shall liberty be lost," he said,
"For the vain toys that pomp and power bequeath?
The car of victory, the plume, the wreath,
Defend not from the bolt of fate the brave:
No note the clarion of renown can breathe,
To alarm the long night of the lonely grave,
Or check the headlong haste of time's o'erwhelming wave.
[Pg 49]
"Ah, what avails it to have trac'd the springs
That whirl of empire the stupendous wheel!
Ah, what have I to do with conquering kings,
Hands drench'd in blood, and breasts begirt with steel!
To those whom Nature taught to think and feel,
Heroes, alas! are things of small concern.
Could History man's secret heart reveal,
And what imports a heaven-born mind to learn,
Her transcripts to explore what bosom would not yearn!
"This praise, O Cheronean sage,[3] is thine!
(Why should this praise to thee alone belong?)
All else from Nature's moral path decline,
Lur'd by the toys that captivate the throng;
To herd in cabinets and camps, among
Spoil, carnage, and the cruel pomp of pride;
Or chant of heraldry the drowsy song,
How tyrant blood, o'er many a region wide,
Rolls to a thousand thrones its execrable tide.
"O who of man the story will unfold,
Ere victory and empire wrought annoy,
In that elysian age (misnam'd of gold),
The age of love, and innocence, and joy,[Pg 50]
When all were great and free! man's sole employ
To deck the bosom of his parent earth;
Or toward his bower the murmuring stream decoy,
To aid the floweret's long-expected birth,
And lull the bed of peace, and crown the board of mirth.
"Sweet were your shades, O ye primeval groves!
Whose boughs to man his food and shelter lent,
Pure in his pleasures, happy in his loves,
His eyes still smiling, and his heart content.
Then, hand in hand, health, sport, and labour went.
Nature supply'd the wish she taught to crave.
None prowl'd for prey, none watch'd to circumvent.
To all an equal lot Heaven's bounty gave:
No vassal fear'd his lord, no tyrant fear'd his slave.
"But ah! th' historic Muse has never dar'd
To pierce those hallow'd bowers: 'tis Fancy's beam
Pour'd on the vision of th' enraptur'd bard,
That paints the charms of that delicious theme.
Then hail sweet Fancy's ray! and hail the dream[Pg 51]
That weans the weary soul from guilt and woe!
Careless what others of my choice may deem,
I long, where Love and Fancy lead, to go
And meditate on Heaven; enough of Earth I know."
"I cannot blame thy choice," the sage replied,
"For soft and smooth are Fancy's flowery ways.
And yet, even there, if left without a guide,
The young adventurer unsafely plays.
Eyes dazzled long by fiction's gaudy rays
In modest truth no light nor beauty find.
And who, my child, would trust the meteor-blaze,
That soon must fail, and leave the wanderer blind,
More dark and helpless far, than if it ne'er had shin'd?
"Fancy enervates, while it soothes, the heart,
And, while it dazzles, wounds the mental sight:
To joy each heightening charm it can impart,
But wraps the hour of woe in tenfold night.
And often, where no real ills affright,
Its visionary fiends, an endless train,
Assail with equal or superior might,
And through the throbbing heart, and dizzy brain,
And shivering nerves, shoot stings of more than mortal pain.
[Pg 52]
"And yet, alas! the real ills of life
Claim the full vigour of a mind prepar'd,
Prepared for patient, long, laborious strife,
Its guide experience, and truth its guard.
We fare on Earth as other men have far'd.
Were they successful? Let not us despair.
Was disappointment oft their sole reward?
Yet shall their tale instruct, if it declare
How they have borne the load ourselves are doom'd to bear.
"What charms th' historic Muse adorn, from spoils,
And blood, and tyrants, when she wings her flight,
To hail the patriot prince, whose pious toils,
Sacred to science, liberty, and right,
And peace, through every age divinely bright
Shall shine the boast and wonder of mankind!
Sees yonder Sun, from his meridian height,
A lovelier scene, than virtue thus enshrin'd
In power, and man with man for mutual aid combin'd?
"Hail sacred Polity, by Freedom rear'd!
Hail sacred Freedom, when by law restrain'd!
Without you what were man? A grovelling herd,
In darkness, wretchedness, and want enchain'd.[Pg 53]
Sublim'd by you, the Greek and Roman reign'd
In arts unrivall'd: O, to latest days,
In Albion may your influence unprofan'd
To godlike worth the generous bosom raise,
And prompt the sage's lore, and fire the poet's lays!
"But how let other themes our care engage.
For lo, with modest yet majestic grace,
To curb Imagination's lawless rage,
And from within the cherish'd heart to brace,
Philosophy appears. The gloomy race
By Indolence and moping Fancy bred,
Fear, Discontent, Solicitude, give place,
And Hope and Courage brighten in their stead,
While on the kindling soul her vital beams are shed.
"Then waken from long lethargy to life[4]
The seeds of happiness, and powers of thought;
Then jarring appetites forego their strife,
A strife by ignorance to madness wrought.
Pleasure by savage man is dearly bought[Pg 54]
With fell revenge, lust that defies control,
With gluttony and death. The mind untaught
Is a dark waste where fiends and tempests howl:
As Phœbus to the world, is science to the soul.
"And reason now through number, time, and space,
Darts the keen lustre of her serious eye,
And learns from facts compar'd, the laws to trace,
Whose long progression leads to Deity.
Can mortal strength presume to soar so high!
Can mortal sight, so oft bedimm'd with tears,
Such glory bear!—for lo, the shadows fly
From Nature's face; confusion disappears,
And order charms the eye, and harmony the ears.
"In the deep windings of the grove, no more
The hag obscene and grisly phantom dwell;
Nor in the fall of mountain-stream, or roar
Of winds, is heard the angry spirit's yell;
No wizard mutters the tremendous spell,
Nor sinks convulsive in prophetic swoon;
Nor bids the noise of drums and trumpets swell,
To ease of fancied pangs the labouring Moon,
Or chase the shade that blots the blazing orb of noon.
[Pg 55] XLIX.
"Many a long-lingering year, in lonely isle,
Stunn'd with th' eternal turbulence of waves,
Lo, with dim eyes, that never learn'd to smile,
And trembling hands, the famish'd native craves
Of Heaven his wretched fare: shivering in caves,
Or scorch'd on rocks, he pines from day to day;
But Science gives the word; and lo, he braves
The surge and tempest, lighted by her ray,
And to a happier land wafts merrily away!
"And even where Nature loads the teeming plain
With the full pomp of vegetable store,
Her bounty unimprov'd, is deadly bane.
Dark woods and rankling wilds, from shore to shore,
Stretch their enormous gloom; which to explore
Even Fancy trembles, in her sprightliest mood;
For there each eyeball gleams with lust of gore,
Nestless each murderous and each monstrous brood,
Plague lurks in every shade, and steams from every flood.
"Twas from Philosophy man learn'd to tame
The soil, by plenty to intemperance fed.
Lo, from the echoing axe, and thundering flame,
Poison and plague and yelling rage are fled![Pg 56]
The waters, bursting from their slimy bed,
Bring health and melody to every vale:
And, from the breezy main, and mountain's head,
Ceres and Flora, to the sunny dale,
To fan their glowing charms, invite the fluttering gale.
What dire necessities on every hand
Our art, our strength, our fortitude require!
Of foes intestine what a numerous band
Against this little throb of life conspire!
Yet Science can elude their fatal ire
Awhile, and turn aside Death's levell'd dart,
Soothe the sharp pang, allay the fever's fire,
And brace the nerves once more, and cheer the heart,
And yet a few soft nights and balmy days impart.
"Nor less to regulate man's moral frame
Science exerts her all-composing sway.
Flutters thy breast with fear, or pants for fame,
Or pines, to indolence and spleen a prey,
Or avarice, a fiend more fierce than they?
Flee to the shade of Academus' grove;
Where cares molest not, discord melts away
In harmony, and the pure passions prove
How sweet the words of Truth breath'd from the lips of Love.
[Pg 57] LIV.
"What cannot Art and Industry perform,
When Science plans the progress of their toil!
They smile at penury, disease, and storm;
And oceans from their mighty mounds recoil.
When tyrants scourge, or demagogues embroil
A land, or when the rabble's headlong rage
Order transforms to anarchy and spoil,
Deep-vers'd in man the philosophic sage
Prepares with lenient hand their frenzy to assuage.
"'Tis he alone, whose comprehensive mind,
From situation, temper, soil, and clime
Explor'd, a nation's various powers can bind,
And various orders, in one form sublime
Of polity, that, midst the wrecks of time,
Secure shall lift its head on high, nor fear
Th' assault of foreign or domestic crime,
While public faith, and public love sincere,
And industry and law maintain their sway severe."
Enraptur'd by the hermit's strain, the youth
Proceeds the path of Science to explore.
And now, expanded to the beams of truth,
New energies and charms unknown before
His mind discloses: Fancy now no more[Pg 58]
Wantons on fickle pinion through the skies;
But, fix'd in aim, and conscious of her power,
Aloft from cause to cause exults to rise,
Creation's blended stores arranging as she flies.
Nor love of novelty alone inspires,
Their laws and nice dependencies to scan;
For, mindful of the aids that life requires,
And of the services man owes to man,
He meditates new arts on Nature's plan;
The cold desponding breast of sloth to warm,
The flame of industry and genius fan,
And emulation's noble rage alarm,
And the long hours of toil and solitude to charm.
But she, who set on fire his infant heart,
And all his dreams, and all his wanderings shar'd
And bless'd, the Muse, and her celestial art,
Still claim th' enthusiast's fond and first regard.
From Nature's beauties variously compar'd
And variously combin'd, he learns to frame
Those forms of bright perfection,[5] which the bard,
While boundless hopes and boundless views inflame,
Enamour'd consecrates to never-dying fame.
[Pg 59] Of late, with cumbersome, tho' pompous show,
Edwin would oft his flowery rhyme deface,
Through ardour to adorn: but Nature now
To his experienc'd eye a modest grace
Presents, where ornament the second place
Holds, to intrinsic worth and just design
Subservient still. Simplicity apace
Tempers his rage; he owns her charm divine,
And clears th' ambiguous phrase, and lops th' unwieldy line.
Fain would I sing (much yet unsung remains)
What sweet delirium o'er his bosom stole,
When the great shepherd of the Mantuan plains[6]
His deep majestic melody 'gan roll:
Fain would I sing what transport storm'd his soul,
How the red current throbb'd his veins along,
When, like Pelides, bold beyond control,
Without art graceful, without effort strong,
Homer rais'd high to Heaven the loud, th' impetuous song.
And how his lyre, though rude her first essays,
Now skill'd to soothe, to triumph, to complain,
Warbling at will through each harmonious maze,
Was taught to modulate the artful strain,[Pg 60]
I fain would sing:—but ah! I strive in vain.
Sighs from a breaking heart my voice confound.
With trembling step, to join yon weeping train,
I haste, where gleams funereal glare around,
And, mix'd with shrieks of woe, the knells of death resound.
Adieu, ye lays, that Fancy's flowers adorn,
The soft amusement of the vacant mind!
He sleeps in dust, and all the Muses mourn,
He, whom each virtue fir'd, each grace refin'd,
Friend, teacher, pattern, darling of mankind!
He sleeps in dust.[7] Ah, how shall I pursue
My theme! To heart-consuming grief resign'd,
Here on his recent grave I fix my view,
And pour my bitter tears. Ye flowery lays, adieu!
Art thou, my Gregory, for ever fled!
And am I left to unavailing woe!
When fortune's storms assail this weary head,
Where cares long since have shed untimely snow!
Ah, now for comfort whither shall I go!
No more thy soothing voice my anguish cheers:
Thy placid eyes with smiles no longer glow,
My hopes to cherish, and allay my fears.
'Tis meet that I should mourn; flow forth afresh, my tears.

[1] See Plato's Timeus.


How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank.


[3] Plutarch.

[4] The influence of the philosophic spirit, in humanizing the mind, and preparing it for intellectual exertion and delicate pleasure;—in exploring, by the help of geometry, the system of the universe;—in banishing superstition;—in promoting navigation, agriculture, medicine, and moral and political science.

[5] General ideas of excellence, the immediate archetypes of sublime imitation, both in painting and in poetry. See Aristotle's Poetics, and the Discourses of Sir Joshua Reynolds.

[6] Virgil.

[7] This excellent person died suddenly on the 10th of February, 1773. The conclusion of the poem was written a few days after.

[Pg 61]


When in the crimson cloud of even
The lingering light decays,
And Hesper on the front of heaven
His glittering gem displays;
Deep in the silent vale, unseen,
Beside a lulling stream,
A pensive youth of placid mien
Indulg'd this tender theme:
"Ye cliffs, in hoary grandeur pil'd
High o'er the glimmering dale;
Ye woods, along whose windings wild
Murmurs the solemn gale:
Where Melancholy strays forlorn,
And Woe retires to weep,
What time the wan moon's yellow horn
Gleams on the western deep:
"To you, ye wastes, whose artless charms
Ne'er drew ambition's eye,
Scap'd a tumultuous world's alarms,
To your retreats I fly.
Deep in your most sequester'd bower
Let me at last recline,
Where Solitude, mild, modest power,
Leans on her ivy'd shrine.
[Pg 62]
"How shall I woo thee, matchless fair!
Thy heavenly smile how win!
Thy smile that smooths the brow of Care
And stills the storm within.
O wilt thou to thy favourite grove
Thine ardent votary bring,
And bless his hours, and bid them move
Serene, on silent wing!
"Oft let Remembrance soothe his mind
With dreams of former days,
When in the lap of Peace reclin'd
He fram'd his infant lays;
When Fancy rov'd at large, nor Care
Nor cold Distrust alarm'd,
Nor Envy with malignant glare
His simple youth had harm'd.
"'Twas then, O Solitude! to thee
His early vows were paid,
From heart sincere, and warm, and free,
Devoted to the shade.
Ah, why did Fate his steps decoy
In stormy paths to roam,
Remote from all congenial joy!—
O take the wanderer home.
"Thy shades, thy silence now be mine,
Thy charms my only theme;
My haunt the hollow cliff, whose pine
Waves o'er the gloomy stream,
[Pg 63]Whence the scar'd owl on pinions gray
Breaks from the rustling boughs,
And down the lone vale sails away
To more profound repose.
"O while to thee the woodland pours
Its wildly warbling song,
And balmy from the bank of flowers
The Zephyr breathes along;
Let no rude sound invade from far,
No vagrant foot be nigh,
No ray from Grandeur's gilded car
Flash on the startled eye.
"But if some pilgrim through the glade
Thy hallow'd bowers explore,
O guard from harm his hoary head,
And listen to his lore;
For he of joys divine shall tell
That wean from earthly woe,
And triumph o'er the mighty spell
That chains this heart below.
"For me, no more the path invites
Ambition loves to tread:
No more I climb those toilsome heights
By guileful Hope misled;
Leaps my fond fluttering heart no more
To Mirth's enlivening strain;
For present pleasure soon is o'er,
And all the past is vain."

[Pg 64]



Still shall unthinking man substantial deem
The forms that fleet through life's deceitful dream?
Till at some stroke of Fate the vision flies,
And sad realities in prospect rise;
And, from Elysian slumbers rudely torn,
The startled soul awakes, to think, and mourn.
O ye, whose hours in jocund train advance,
Whose spirits to the song of gladness dance,
Who flowery plains in endless pomp survey,
Glittering in beams of visionary day;
O yet, while Fate delays th' impending woe,
Be rous'd to thought, anticipate the blow;
Lest, like the lightning's glance, the sudden ill
Flash to confound, and penetrate to kill;
Lest, thus encompass'd with funereal gloom,
Like me, ye bend o'er some untimely tomb,
Pour your wild ravings in Night's frighted ear,
And half pronounce Heaven's sacred doom severe.
Wise, beauteous, good! O every grace combin'd,
That charms the eye, or captivates the mind!
Fresh, as the floweret opening on the morn,
Whose leaves bright drops of liquid pearl adorn!
Sweet, as the downy-pinion'd gale, that roves
To gather fragrance in Arabian groves![Pg 65]
Mild, as the melodies at close of day,
That, heard remote, along the vale decay!
Yet, why with these compar'd? What tints so fine,
What sweetness, mildness, can be match'd with thine?
Why roam abroad, since recollection true
Restores the lovely form to fancy's view?
Still let me gaze, and every care beguile,
Gaze on that cheek, where all the Graces smile;
That soul-expressing eye, benignly bright,
Where meekness beams ineffable delight;
That brow, where wisdom sits enthron'd serene,
Each feature forms, and dignifies the mien:
Still let me listen, while her words impart
The sweet effusions of the blameless heart,
Till all my soul, each tumult charm'd away,
Yields, gently led, to Virtue's easy sway.
By thee inspir'd, O Virtue, age is young,
And music warbles from the faltering tongue:
Thy ray creative cheers the clouded brow,
And decks the faded cheek with rosy glow,
Brightens the joyless aspect, and supplies
Pure heavenly lustre to the languid eyes:
But when youth's living bloom reflects thy beams,
Resistless on the view the glory streams;
Love, wonder, joy, alternately alarm,
And beauty dazzles with angelic charm.
Ah, whither fled! ye dear illusions stay!
Lo, pale and silent lies the lovely clay.
How are the roses on that cheek decay'd,
Which late the purple light of youth display'd![Pg 66]
Health on her form each sprightly grace bestow'd;
With life and thought each speaking feature glow'd,
Fair was the blossom, soft the vernal sky;
Elate with hope, we deem'd no tempest nigh:
When lo, a whirlwind's instantaneous gust
Left all its beauties withering in the dust.
Cold the soft hand, that sooth'd Woe's weary head!
And quench'd the eye, the pitying tear that shed!
And mute the voice, whose pleasing accents stole,
Infusing balm, into the rankled soul!
O Death, why arm with cruelty thy power,
And spare the idle weed, yet lop the flower!
Why fly thy shafts in lawless error driven!
Is Virtue then no more the care of Heaven!
But peace, bold thought! be still, my bursting heart!
We, not Eliza, felt the fatal dart.
Escap'd the dungeon, does the slave complain,
Nor bless the friendly hand that broke the chain?
Say, pines not Virtue for the lingering morn,
On this dark wild condemn'd to roam forlorn?
Where Reason's meteor-rays, with sickly glow,
O'er the dun gloom a dreadful glimmering throw;
Disclosing dubious to th' affrighted eye
O'erwhelming mountains tottering from on high,
Black billowy deeps in storms perpetual toss'd,
And weary ways in wildering labyrinths lost?
O happy stroke, that bursts the bonds of clay,
Darts through the rending gloom the blaze of day,[Pg 67]
And wings the soul with boundless flight to soar,
Where dangers threat, and fears alarm no more.
Transporting thought! here let me wipe away
The tear of grief, and wake a bolder lay.
But ah! the swimming eye o'erflows anew;
Nor check the sacred drops to pity due:
Lo, where in speechless, hopeless anguish, bend
O'er her lov'd dust, the parent, brother, friend!
How vain the hope of man! but cease thy strain,
Nor sorrow's dread solemnity profane;
Mix'd with yon drooping mourners, on her bier
In silence shed the sympathetic tear.


I. 1.
O Thou, who gladd'st the pensive soul,
More than Aurora's smile the swain forlorn,
Left all night long to mourn
Where desolation frowns, and tempests howl;
And shrieks of woe, as intermits the storm,
Far o'er the monstrous wilderness resound,
And 'cross the gloom darts many a shapeless form,
And many a fire-ey'd visage glares around;
O come, and be once more my guest!
Come, for thou oft thy suppliant's vow hast heard
And oft with smiles indulgent cheer'd
And sooth'd him into rest.
[Pg 68]
I. 2.
Smit by thy rapture-beaming eye
Deep flashing through the midnight of their mind,
The sable bands combin'd,
Where Fear's black banner bloats the troubled sky,
Appall'd retire. Suspicion hides her head,
Nor dares the obliquely gleaming eyeball raise:
Despair, with gorgon-figur'd veil o'erspread,
Speeds to dark Phlegethon's detested maze
Lo, startled at the heavenly ray,
With speed unwonted Indolence upsprings,
And, heaving, lifts her leaden wings,
And sullen glides away:
I. 3.
Ten thousand forms, by pining Fancy view'd,
Dissolve.—Above the sparkling flood
When Phœbus rears his awful brow,
From lengthening lawn and valley low
The troops of fen-born mists retire.
Along the plain
The joyous swain
Eyes the gay villages again,
And gold-illumin'd spire;
While on the billowy ether borne
Floats the loose lay's jovial measure;
And light along the fairy Pleasure,
Her green robes glittering to the morn,[Pg 69]
Wantons on silken wing. And goblins all
To the damp dungeon shrink, or hoary hall,
Or westward, with impetuous flight,
Shoot to the desert realms of their congenial night.
II. 1.
When first on childhood's eager gaze
Life's varied landscape, stretch'd immense around,
Starts out of night profound,
Thy voice incites to tempt th' untrodden maze.
Fond he surveys thy mild maternal face,
His bashful eye still kindling as he views,
And, while thy lenient arm supports his pace,
With beating heart the upland path pursues:
The path that leads where, hung sublime,
And seen afar, youth's gallant trophies, bright
In Fancy's rainbow ray, invite
His wingy nerves to climb.
II. 2.
Pursue thy pleasurable way,
Safe in the guidance of thy heavenly guard,
While melting airs are heard,
And soft-ey'd cherub-forms around thee play:
Simplicity, in careless flowers array'd,
Prattling amusive in his accent meek;
And Modesty, half turning as afraid,
The smile just dimpling on his glowing cheek![Pg 70]
Content and Leisure, hand in hand
With Innocence and Peace, advance, and sing;
And Mirth, in many a mazy ring,
Frisks o'er the flowery land.
II. 3.
Frail man, how various is thy lot below!
To-day though gales propitious blow,
And Peace soft gliding down the sky,
Lead Love along, and Harmony,
To-morrow the gay scene deforms:
Then all around
The thunder's sound
Rolls rattling on through heaven's profound,
And down rush all the storms.
Ye days, that balmy influence shed,
When sweet childhood, ever sprightly,
In paths of pleasure sported lightly,
Whither, ah whither are ye fled?
Ye cherub train, that brought him on his way
O leave him not midst tumult and dismay;
For now youth's eminence he gains:
But what a weary length of lingering toil remains!
III. 1.
They shrink, they vanish into air.
Now Slander taints with pestilence the gale;
And mingling cries assail,
The wail of Woe, and groan of grim Despair.[Pg 71]
Lo, wizard Envy from his serpent eye
Darts quick destruction in each baleful glance;
Pride smiling stern, and yellow Jealousy,
Frowning Disdain, and haggard Hate advance;
Behold, amidst the dire array,
Pale wither'd Care his giant-stature rears,
And lo, his iron hand prepares
To grasp its feeble prey.
III. 2.
Who now will guard bewilder'd youth
Safe from the fierce assault of hostile rage?
Such war can Virtue wage,
Virtue that bears the sacred shield of Truth?
Alas! full oft on Guilt's victorious car,
The spoils of Virtue are in triumph borne;
While the fair captive, mark'd with many a scar,
In long obscurity, oppress'd, forlorn,
Resigns to tears her angel form.
Ill-fated youth, then whither wilt thou fly?
No friend, no shelter now is nigh,
And onward rolls the storm
III. 3.
But whence the sudden beam that shoots along?
Why shrink aghast the hostile throng?
Lo, from amidst affliction's night
Hope bursts all radiant on the sight:
Her words the troubled bosom soothe.
"Why thus dismay'd?[Pg 72]
Though foes invade,
Hope ne'er is wanting to their aid,
Who tread the path of truth.
'Tis I, who smooth the rugged way,
I, who close the eyes of Sorrow,
And with glad visions of to-morrow
Repair the weary soul's decay.
When Death's cold touch thrills to the freezing heart,
Dreams of heaven's opening glories I impart,
Till the freed spirit springs on high
In rapture too severe for weak mortality."


A Muse, unskill'd in venal praise,
Unstain'd with flattery's art;
Who loves simplicity of lays
Breath'd ardent from the heart;
While gratitude and joy inspire,
Resumes the long-unpractis'd lyre,
To hail, O Hay, thy natal morn:
No gaudy wreath of flowers she weaves,
But twines with oak the laurel leaves,
Thy cradle to adorn.
For not on beds of gaudy flowers
Thine ancestors reclin'd,
Where sloth dissolves, and spleen devours
All energy of mind.[Pg 73]
To hurl the dart, to ride the car,
To stem the deluges of war,
And snatch from fate a sinking land;
Trample th' invaders' lofty crest,
And from his grasp the dagger wrest,
And desolating brand:
'Twas this that rais'd th' illustrious line
To match the first in fame!
A thousand years have seen it shine
With unabated flame;
Have seen thy mighty sires appear
Foremost in glory's high career,
The pride and pattern of the brave:
Yet pure from lust of blood their fire,
And from ambition's wild desire,
They triumph'd but to save.
The Muse with joy attends their way
The vale of peace along;
There to its lord the village gay
Renews the grateful song.
Yon castle's glittering towers contain
No pit of woe, nor clanking chain,
Nor to the suppliant's wail resound;
The open doors the needy bless,
Th' unfriended hail their calm recess,
And gladness smiles around.
There to the sympathetic heart
Life's best delights belong,[Pg 74]
To mitigate the mourner's smart,
To guard the weak from wrong.
Ye sons of luxury, be wise:
Know, happiness for ever flies
The cold and solitary breast;
Then let the social instinct glow,
And learn to feel another's woe,
And in his joy be blest.
O yet, ere Pleasure plant her snare
For unsuspecting youth;
Ere Flattery her song prepare
To check the voice of Truth;
O may his country's guardian power
Attend the slumbering infant's bower,
And bright, inspiring dreams impart;
To rouse th' hereditary fire,
To kindle each sublime desire,
Exalt, and warm the heart.
Swift to reward a parent's fears,
A parent's hopes to crown,
Roll on in peace, ye blooming years,
That rear him to renown;
When in his finish'd form and face
Admiring multitudes shall trace
Each patrimonial charm combin'd,
The courteous yet majestic mien,
The liberal smile, the look serene,
The great and gentle mind.[Pg 75]
Yet, though thou draw a nation's eyes,
And win a nation's love,
Let not thy towering mind despise
The village and the grove.
No slander there shall wound thy fame,
No ruffian take his deadly aim,
No rival weave the secret snare:
For Innocence with angel smile,
Simplicity that knows no guile,
And Love and Peace are there.
When winds the mountain oak assail,
And lay its glories waste,
Content may slumber in the vale,
Unconscious of the blast.
Through scenes of tumult while we roam,
The heart, alas! is ne'er at home,
It hopes in time to roam no more;
The mariner, not vainly brave,
Combats the storm, and rides the wave,
To rest at last on shore.
Ye proud, ye selfish, ye severe,
How vain your mask of state!
The good alone have joy sincere,
The good alone are great:
Great, when, amid the vale of peace,
They bid the plaint of sorrow cease,
And hear the voice of artless praise;
As when along the trophy'd plain
Sublime they lead the victor train,
While shouting nations gaze.

[Pg 76]



The pigmy-people, and the feather'd train,
Mingling in mortal combat on the plain,
I sing. Ye Muses, favour my designs,
Lead on my squadrons, and arrange the lines;
The flashing swords and fluttering wings display,
And long bills nibbling in the bloody fray;
Cranes darting with disdain on tiny foes,
Conflicting birds and men, and war's unnumber'd woes.
The wars and woes of heroes six feet long
Have oft resounded in Pierian song.
Who has not heard of Colchos' golden fleece,
And Argo mann'd with all the flower of Greece?
Of Thebes' fell brethren, Theseus stern of face,
And Peleus' son, unrivall'd in the race;
Æneas, founder of the Roman line,
And William, glorious on the banks of Boyne?
Who has not learn'd to weep at Pompey's woes,
And over Blackmore's epic page to doze?
'Tis I, who dare attempt unusual strains,
Of hosts unsung, and unfrequented plains;
The small shrill trump, and chiefs of little size,
And armies rushing down the darken'd skies.
Where India reddens to the early dawn,
Winds a deep vale from vulgar eye withdrawn;[Pg 77]
Bosom'd in groves the lowly region lies,
And rocky mountains round the border rise.
Here, till the doom of fate its fall decreed,
The empire flourish'd of the pigmy-breed;
Here Industry perform'd, and Genius plann'd,
And busy multitudes o'erspread the land.
But now to these lone bounds if pilgrim stray,
Tempting through craggy cliffs the desperate way,
He finds the puny mansion fallen to earth,
Its godlings mouldering on th' abandon'd hearth;
And starts, where small white bones are spread around,
"Or little footsteps lightly print the ground;"
While the proud crane her nest securely builds,
Chattering amid the desolated fields.
But different fates befell her hostile rage,
While reign'd, invincible through many an age,
The dreaded pigmy: rous'd by war's alarms,
Forth rush'd the madding manikin to arms.
Fierce to the field of death the hero flies;
The faint crane fluttering flaps the ground, and dies;
And by the victor borne (o'erwhelming load!)
With bloody bill loose-dangling marks the road.
And oft the wily dwarf in ambush lay,
And often made the callow young his prey;
With slaughter'd victims heap'd his board, and smil'd,
T' avenge the parent's trespass on the child.
Oft, where his feather'd foe had rear'd her nest,
And laid her eggs and household gods to rest,[Pg 78]
Burning for blood, in terrible array,
The eighteen-inch militia burst their way;
All went to wreck; the infant foeman fell,
When scarce his chirping bill had broke the shell.
Loud uproar hence, and rage of arms arose,
And the fell rancour of encountering foes;
Hence dwarfs and cranes one general havoc whelms,
And Death's grim visage scares the pigmy-realms.
Not half so furious blaz'd the warlike fire
Of mice, high theme of the Meonian lyre;
When bold to battle march'd the accoutred frogs,
And the deep tumult thunder'd through the bogs.
Pierc'd by the javelin bulrush on the shore
Here agonizing roll'd the mouse in gore;
And there the frog, (a scene full sad to see!)
Shorn of one leg, slow sprawl'd along on three:
He vaults no more with vigorous hops on high,
But mourns in hoarsest croaks his destiny.
And now the day of woe drew on apace,
A day of woe to all the pigmy-race,
When dwarfs were doom'd (but penitence was vain)
To rue each broken egg, and chicken slain.
For, roused to vengeance by repeated wrong,
From distant climes the long-bill'd legions throng:
From Strymon's lake, Cayster's plashy meads,
And fens of Scythia, green with rustling reeds,
From where the Danube winds through many a land,
And Mareotis laves th' Egyptian strand,
To rendezvous they waft on eager wing,
And wait assembled the returning spring.[Pg 79]
Meanwhile they trim their plumes for length of flight,
Whet their keen beaks and twisting claws for fight;
Each crane the pigmy power in thought o'erturns,
And every bosom for the battle burns.
When genial gales the frozen air unbind,
The screaming legions wheel, and mount the wind:
Far in the sky they form their long array,
And land and ocean stretch'd immense survey
Deep deep beneath: and, triumphing in pride,
With clouds and winds commix'd, innumerous ride;
'Tis wild obstreperous clangour all, and heaven
Whirls in tempestuous undulation driven.
Nor less th' alarm that shook the world below,
Where march'd in pomp of war th' embattled foe:
Where manikins with haughty step advance,
And grasp the shield, and couch the quivering lance:
To right and left the lengthening lines they form,
And rank'd in deep array await the storm.
High in the midst the chieftain-dwarf was seen,
Of giant stature, and imperial mien:
Full twenty inches tall he strode along,
And view'd with lofty eye the wondering throng:
And while with many a scar his visage frown'd,
Bared his broad bosom, rough with many a wound
Of beaks and claws, disclosing to their sight
The glorious meed of high heroic might:
For with insatiate vengeance, he pursued,
And never-ending hate, the feathery brood.[Pg 80]
Unhappy they, confiding in the length
Of horny beak, or talon's crooked strength,
Who durst abide his rage; the blade descends,
And from the panting trunk the pinion rends:
Laid low in dust the pinion waves no more,
The trunk disfigur'd stiffens in its gore.
What hosts of heroes fell beneath his force!
What heaps of chicken carnage mark'd his course!
How oft, O Strymon, thy lone banks along,
Did wailing Echo waft the funeral song!
And now from far the mingling clamours rise,
Loud and more loud rebounding through the skies.
From skirt to skirt of heaven, with stormy sway,
A cloud rolls on, and darkens all the day.
Near and more near descends the dreadful shade;
And now in battalions array display'd,
On sounding wings, and screaming in their ire,
The cranes rush onward, and the fight require.
The pigmy warriors eye with fearless glare
The host thick swarming o'er the burden'd air:
Thick swarming now, but to their native land
Doom'd to return a scanty straggling band—
When sudden, darting down the depth of heaven,
Fierce on th' expecting foe the cranes are driven.
The kindling frenzy every bosom warms,
The region echoes to the crash of arms:
Loose feathers from th' encountering armies fly,
And in careering whirlwinds mount the sky.
To breathe from toil upsprings the panting crane,
Then with fresh vigour downward darts again.[Pg 81]
Success in equal balance hovering hangs.
Here, on the sharp spear, mad with mortal pangs,
The bird transfix'd in bloody vortex whirls,
Yet fierce in death the threatening talon curls:
There, while the life-blood bubbles from his wound,
With little feet the pigmy beats the ground;
Deep from his breast the short, short sob he draws,
And dying curses the keen pointed claws.
Trembles the thundering field, thick cover'd o'er
With falchions, mangled wings, and streaming gore,
And pigmy arms, and beaks of ample size,
And here a claw, and there a finger lies.
Encompass'd round with heaps of slaughter'd foes,
All grim in blood the pigmy champion glows,
And on th' assailing host impetuous springs,
Careless of nibbling bills, and flapping wings;
And midst the tumult, wheresoe'er he turns,
The battle with redoubled fury burns.
From every side th' avenging cranes amain
Throng, to o'erwhelm this terror of the plain:
When suddenly (for such the will of Jove)
A fowl enormous, sousing from above,
The gallant chieftain clutch'd, and, soaring high,
(Sad chance of battle!) bore him up the sky.
The cranes pursue, and clustering in a ring,
Chatter triumphant round the captive king.
But ah! what pangs each pigmy bosom wrung,
When, now to cranes a prey, on talons hung,[Pg 82]
High in the clouds they saw their helpless lord,
His wriggling form still lessening as he soar'd.
Lo! yet again, with unabated rage,
In mortal strife the mingling hosts engage.
The crane with darted bill assaults the foe,
Hovering; then wheels aloft to scape the blow:
The dwarf in anguish aims the vengeful wound;
But whirls in empty air the falchion round.
Such was the scene, when midst the loud alarms
Sublime th' eternal Thunderer rose in arms:
When Briareus, by mad ambition driven,
Heav'd Pelion huge, and hurl'd it high at heaven.
Jove roll'd redoubling thunders from on high,
Mountains and bolts encounter'd in the sky;
Till one stupendous ruin whelm'd the crew,
Their vast limbs weltering wide in brimstone blue.
But now at length the pigmy legions yield,
And wing'd with terror fly the fatal field.
They raise a weak and melancholy wail,
All in distraction scattering o'er the vale.
Prone on their routed rear the cranes descend;
Their bills bite furious, and their talons rend:
With unrelenting ire they urge the chase,
Sworn to exterminate the hated race.
'Twas thus the pigmy name, once great in war,
For spoils of conquer'd cranes renown'd afar,
Perish'd. For, by the dread decree of Heaven,
Short is the date to earthly grandeur given,
And vain are all attempts to roam beyond
Where fate has fix'd the everlasting bound.[Pg 83]
Fall'n are the trophies of Assyrian power,
And Persia's proud dominion is no more;
Yea, though to both superior far in fame,
Thine empire, Latium, is an empty name.
And now with lofty chiefs of ancient time
The pigmy heroes roam'd th' Elysian clime.
Or, if belief to matron-tales be due,
Full oft, in the belated shepherd's view,
Their frisking forms, in gentle green array'd,
Gambol secure amid the moonlight glade.
Secure, for no alarming cranes molest,
And all their woes in long oblivion rest:
Down the deep dale, and narrow winding way,
They foot it featly, ranged in ringlets gay:
'Tis joy and frolic all, where'er they rove,
And Fairy-people is the name they love.



Yes, yes, I grant the sons of Earth
Are doom'd to trouble from their birth.
We all of sorrow have our share;
But say, is yours without compare?
Look round the world; perhaps you'll find
Each individual of our kind
Press'd with an equal load of ill,
Equal at least. Look further still,[Pg 84]
And own your lamentable case
Is little short of happiness.
In yonder hut that stands alone
Attend to Famine's feeble moan;
Or view the couch where Sickness lies,
Mark his pale cheek, and languid eyes,
His frame by strong convulsion torn,
His struggling sighs, and looks forlorn.
Or see, transfix'd with keener pangs,
Where o'er his hoard the miser hangs;
Whistles the wind; he starts, he stares,
Nor Slumber's balmy blessing shares;
Despair, Remorse, and Terror roll,
Their tempests on his harass'd soul.
But here perhaps it may avail
T' enforce our reasoning with a tale.
Mild was the morn, the sky serene,
The jolly hunting band convene,
The beagle's breast with ardour burns,
The bounding steed the champaign spurns,
And Fancy oft the game descries
Through the hound's nose, and huntsman's eyes.
Just then, a council of the hares
Had met, on national affairs.
The chiefs were set; while o'er their head
The furze its frizzled covering spread.
Long lists of grievances were heard,
And general discontent appear'd.
"Our harmless race shall every savage
Both quadruped and biped ravage?[Pg 85]
Shall horses, hounds, and hunters still
Unite their wits to work us ill?
The youth, his parent's sole delight,
Whose tooth the dewy lawns invite,
Whose pulse in every vein beats strong,
Whose limbs leap light the vales along,
May yet ere noontide meet his death,
And lie dismember'd on the heath.
For youth, alas, nor cautious age,
Nor strength, nor speed, eludes their rage.
In every field we meet the foe,
Each gale comes fraught with sounds of woe;
The morning but awakes our fears,
The evening sees us bath'd in tears.
But must we ever idly grieve,
Nor strive our fortunes to relieve?
Small is each individual's force:
To stratagem be our recourse;
And then, from all our tribes combin'd,
The murderer to his cost may find
No foes are weak, whom Justice arms,
Whom Concord leads, and Hatred warms.
Be rous'd; or liberty acquire,
Or in the great attempt expire."
He said no more, for in his breast
Conflicting thoughts the voice suppress'd:
The fire of vengeance seem'd to stream
From his swoln eyeball's yellow gleam.
And now the tumults of the war,
Mingling confusedly from afar,[Pg 86]
Swell in the wind. Now louder cries
Distinct of hounds and men arise.
Forth from the brake, with beating heart,
Th' assembled hares tumultuous start,
And, every straining nerve on wing,
Away precipitately spring.
The hunting band, a signal given,
Thick thundering o'er the plain are driven;
O'er cliff abrupt, and shrubby mound,
And river broad, impetuous bound:
Now plunge amid the forest shades,
Glance through the openings of the glades;
Now o'er the level valley sweep,
Now with short steps strain up the steep;
While backward from the hunter's eyes
The landscape like a torrent flies.
At last an ancient wood they gain'd,
By pruner's axe yet unprofan'd.
High o'er the rest, by Nature rear'd,
The oak's majestic boughs appear'd:
Beneath, a copse of various hue
In barbarous luxuriance grew.
No knife had curb'd the rambling sprays,
No hand had wove th' implicit maze.
The flowering thorn, self-taught to wind,
The hazel's stubborn stem entwin'd,
And bramble twigs were wreath'd around,
And rough furze crept along the ground.
Here sheltering, from the sons of murther,
The hares drag their tir'd limbs no further.[Pg 87]
But lo, the western wind ere long
Was loud, and roar'd the woods among;
From rustling leaves, and crashing boughs
The sound of woe and war arose.
The hares distracted scour the grove,
As terror and amazement drove;
But danger, wheresoe'er they fled,
Still seem'd impending o'er their head.
Now crowded in a grotto's gloom,
All hope extinct, they wait their doom.
Dire was the silence, till, at length,
Even from despair deriving strength,
With bloody eye and furious look,
A daring youth arose and spoke.
"O wretched race, the scorn of Fate,
Whom ills of every sort await!
O, curs'd with keenest sense to feel
The sharpest sting of every ill!
Say ye, who, fraught with mighty scheme,
Of liberty and vengeance dream,
What now remains? To what recess
Shall we our weary steps address,
Since Fate is evermore pursuing
All ways and means to work our ruin?
Are we alone, of all beneath,
Condemn'd to misery worse than death?
Must we, with fruitless labour, strive
In misery worse than death to live?
No. Be the smaller ill our choice:
So dictates Nature's powerful voice.[Pg 88]
Death's pang will in a moment cease;
And then, All hail, eternal peace!"
Thus while he spoke, his words impart
The dire resolve to every heart.
A distant lake in prospect lay,
That, glittering in the solar ray,
Gleam'd through the dusky trees, and shot
A trembling light along the grot.
Thither with one consent they bend,
Their sorrows with their lives to end,
While each, in thought, already hears
The water hissing in his ears.
Fast by the margin of the lake,
Conceal'd within a thorny brake,
A linnet sate, whose careless lay
Amus'd the solitary day.
Careless he sung, for on his breast
Sorrow no lasting trace impress'd;
When suddenly he heard a sound
Of swift feet traversing the ground.
Quick to the neighbouring tree he flies,
Thence trembling casts around his eyes;
No foe appear'd, his fears were vain;
Pleas'd he renews the sprightly strain.
The hares, whose noise had caus'd his fright,
Saw with surprise the linnet's flight.
"Is there on Earth a wretch," they said,
"Whom our approach can strike with dread?"
An instantaneous change of thought
To tumult every bosom wrought.[Pg 89]
So fares the system-building sage,
Who, plodding on from youth to age,
At last on some foundation-dream
Has rear'd aloft his goodly scheme,
And prov'd his predecessors fools,
And bound all nature by his rules;
So fares he in that dreadful hour,
When injur'd Truth exerts her power,
Some new phenomenon to raise,
Which, bursting on his frighted gaze,
From its proud summit to the ground
Proves the whole edifice unsound.
"Children," thus spoke a hare sedate,
Who oft had known th' extremes of fate,
"In slight events the docile mind
May hints of good instruction find.
That our condition is the worst,
And we with such misfortunes curst
As all comparison defy,
Was late the universal cry;
When lo, an accident so slight
As yonder little linnet's flight
Has made your stubborn heart confess
(So your amazement bids me guess)
That all our load of woes and fears
Is but a part of what he bears.
Where can he rest secure from harms,
Whom even a helpless hare alarms?
Yet he repines not at his lot,
When past, the danger is forgot:[Pg 90]
On yonder bough he trims his wings,
And with unusual rapture sings:
While we, less wretched, sink beneath
Our lighter ills, and rush to death.
No more of this unmeaning rage,
But hear, my friends, the words of age.
"When by the winds of autumn driven
The scatter'd clouds fly cross the heaven,
Oft have we, from some mountain's head,
Beheld th' alternate light and shade
Sweep the long vale. Here, hovering, lowers
The shadowy cloud; there downward pours,
Streaming direct, a flood of day,
Which from the view flies swift away;
It flies, while other shades advance,
And other streaks of sunshine glance.
Thus chequer'd is the life below
With gleams of joy and clouds of woe.
Then hope not, while we journey on,
Still to be basking in the sun:
Nor fear, though now in shades ye mourn,
That sunshine will no more return.
If, by your terrors overcome,
Ye fly before th' approaching gloom,
The rapid clouds your flight pursue,
And darkness still o'ercasts your view.
Who longs to reach the radiant plain
Must onward urge his course amain;
For doubly swift the shadow flies,
When 'gainst the gale the pilgrim plies.[Pg 91]
At least be firm, and undismay'd
Maintain your ground; the fleeting shade
Ere long spontaneous glides away,
And gives you back th' enlivening ray.
Lo, while I speak, our danger past!
No more the shrill horn's angry blast
Howls in our ear; the savage roar
Of war and murder is no more.
Then snatch the moment fate allows,
Nor think of past or future woes."
He spoke; and hope revives; the lake
That instant one and all forsake,
In sweet amusement to employ
The present sprightly hour of joy.
Now from the western mountain's brow,
Compass'd with clouds of various glow,
The sun a broader orb displays,
And shoots aslope his ruddy rays.
The lawn assumes a fresher green,
And dewdrops spangle all the scene;
The balmy zephyr breathes along,
The shepherd sings his tender song,
With all their lays the groves resound,
And falling waters murmur round.
Discord and care were put to flight,
And all was peace, and calm delight.

[Pg 92]



Farewell! my best-belov'd; whose heavenly mind
Genius with virtue, strength with softness join'd;
Devotion, undebas'd by pride or art,
With meek simplicity, and joy of heart;
Though sprightly, gentle: though polite, sincere;
And only of thyself a judge severe;
Unblam'd, unequall'd in each sphere of life,
The tenderest daughter, sister, parent, wife.
In thee their patroness th' afflicted lost;
Thy friends, their pattern, ornament, and boast;
And I—but ah, can words my loss declare,
Or paint th' extremes of transport and despair!
O thou, beyond what verse or speech can tell,
My guide, my friend, my best beloved, farewell!


At the close of the day, when the hamlet is still,
And mortals the sweets of forgetfulness prove,
When nought but the torrent is heard on the hill,
And nought but the nightingale's song in the grove:[Pg 93]
'Twas thus, by the cave of the mountain afar,
While his harp rung symphonious, a hermit began;
No more with himself or with nature at war,
He thought as a sage, though he felt as a man.
"Ah! why, all abandon'd to darkness and woe,
Why, lone Philomela, that languishing fall?
For spring shall return, and a lover bestow,
And sorrow no longer thy bosom enthrall.
But, if pity inspire thee renew the sad lay,
Mourn, sweetest complainer, man calls thee to mourn;
O soothe him, whose pleasures like thine pass away:
Full quickly they pass—but they never return.
"Now gliding remote, on the verge of the sky,
The Moon half extinguish'd her crescent displays:
But lately I mark'd, when majestic on high
She shone, and the planets were lost in her blaze.
Roll on, thou fair orb, and with gladness pursue
The path that conducts thee to splendour again:
But man's faded glory what change shall renew!
Ah, fool! to exult in a glory so vain!
"'Tis night, and the landscape is lovely no more:
I mourn, but, ye woodlands, I mourn not for you;
For morn is approaching your charms to restore,
Perfum'd with fresh fragrance, and glittering with dew:[Pg 94]
Nor yet for the ravage of winter I mourn;
Kind Nature the embryo blossom will save:
But when shall spring visit the mouldering urn!
O when shall it dawn on the night of the grave!"
''Twas thus, by the glare of false science betray'd,
That leads, to bewilder, and dazzles, to blind,
My thoughts wont to roam, from shade onward to shade,
Destruction before me, and sorrow behind.
"O pity, great Father of light," then I cried,
"Thy creature, who fain would not wander from thee;
Lo, humbled in dust, I relinquish my pride:
From doubt and from darkness thou only canst free."
'And darkness and doubt are now flying away;
No longer I roam in conjecture forlorn.
So breaks on the traveller, faint and astray,
The bright and the balmy effulgence of morn.
See Truth, Love, and Mercy, in triumph descending,
And nature all glowing in Eden's first bloom!
On the cold cheek of Death smiles and roses are blending,
And beauty immortal awakes from the tomb.'

[Pg 95]


[Pg 96]

[Pg 97]


Far in the depth of Ida's inmost grove,
A scene for love and solitude design'd,
Where flowery woodbines wild by Nature wove
Form'd the lone bower, the Royal Swain reclin'd.
All up the craggy cliffs, that tower'd to heaven,
Green wav'd the murmuring pines on every side;
Save where, fair opening to the beam of even,
A dale slop'd gradual to the valley wide.
Echoed the vale with many a cheerful note;
The lowing of the herds resounding long.
The shrilling pipe, and mellow horn remote,
And social clamours of the festive throng.
For now, low hovering o'er the western main,
Where amber clouds begirt his dazzling throne,
The sun with ruddier verdure deck'd the plain,
And lakes, and streams, and spires triumphal shone.
And many a band of ardent youths were seen;
Some into rapture fir'd by glory's charms,
Or hurl'd the thundering car along the green,
Or march'd embattled on in glittering arms.
[Pg 98]
Others more mild, in happy leisure gay,
The darkening forest's lonely gloom explore,
Or by Scamander's flowery margin stray,
Or the blue Hellespont's resounding shore.
But chief the eye to Ilion's glories turn'd
That gleam'd along th' extended champaign far,
And bulwarks, in terrific pomp adorn'd,
Where Peace sat smiling at the frowns of War.
Rich in the spoils of many a subject-clime,
In pride luxurious blaz'd th' imperial dome;
Tower'd mid th' encircling grove the fane sublime,
And dread memorials mark'd the hero's tomb,
Who from the black and bloody cavern led
The savage stern, and sooth'd his boisterous breast;
Who spoke, and Science rear'd her radiant head,
And brighten'd o'er the long benighted waste;
Or, greatly daring in his country's cause,
Whose heaven-taught soul the awful plan design'd,
Whence Power stood trembling at the voice of laws,
Whence soar'd on Freedom's wing th' ethereal mind.
But not the pomp that royalty displays,
Nor all the imperial pride of lofty Troy,
Nor Virtue's triumph of immortal praise,
Could rouse the languor of the lingering boy.
[Pg 99]
Abandon'd all to soft Enone's charms,
He to oblivion doom'd the listless day;
Inglorious lull'd in Love's dissolving arms,
While flutes lascivious breath'd th' enfeebling lay.
To trim the ringlets of his scented hair,
To aim, insidious, Love's bewitching glance,
Or cull fresh garlands for the gaudy fair,
Or wanton loose in the voluptuous dance;
These were his arts; these won Enone's love,
Nor sought his fetter'd soul a nobler aim.
Ah, why should beauty's smile those arts approve,
Which taint with infamy the lover's flame?
Now laid at large beside a murmuring spring,
Melting he listen'd to the vernal song,
And Echo listening wav'd her airy wing,
While the deep winding dales the lays prolong.
When slowly floating down the azure skies
A crimson cloud flash'd on his startled sight;
Whose skirts gay-sparkling with unnumber'd dyes
Launch'd the long billowy trails of flickering light.
That instant, hush'd was all the vocal grove,
Hush'd was the gale, and every ruder sound,
And strains aërial, warbling far above,
Rung in the ear a magic peal profound.
[Pg 100]
Near, and more near, the swimming radiance roll'd;
Along the mountains stream the lingering fires,
Sublime the groves of Ida blaze with gold,
And all the heaven resounds with louder lyres.
The trumpet breath'd a note: and all in air
The glories vanish'd from the dazzled eye;
And three ethereal forms, divinely fair,
Down the steep glade were seen advancing nigh.
The flowering glade fell level where they mov'd,
O'erarching high the clustering roses hung,
And gales from heaven on balmy pinion rov'd,
And hill and dale with gratulation rung.
The first with slow and stately step drew near,
Fix'd was her lofty eye, erect her mien:
Sublime in grace, in majesty severe,
She look'd and mov'd a goddess and a queen.
Her robe along the gale profusely stream'd,
Light lean'd the sceptre on her bending arm;
And round her brow a starry circlet gleam'd,
Heightening the pride of each commanding charm.
Milder the next came on with artless grace,
And on a javelin's quivering length reclin'd:
T' exalt her mien she bade no splendour blaze,
Nor pomp of vesture fluctuate on the wind.
[Pg 101]
Serene, though awful, on her brow the light
Of heavenly wisdom shone; nor rov'd her eyes,
Save to the shadowy cliff's majestic height,
Or the blue concave of th' involving skies.
Keen were her eyes to search the inmost soul;
Yet Virtue triumph'd in their beams benign,
And impious Pride oft felt their dread control,
When in fierce lightning flash'd the wrath divine.[1]
With awe and wonder gaz'd th' adoring swain;
His kindling cheek great Virtue's power confess'd;
But soon 'twas o'er; for Virtue prompts in vain,
Where Pleasure's influence numbs the nerveless breast.
And now advanc'd the queen of melting joy,
Smiling supreme in unresisted charms.
Ah, then, what transports fir'd the trembling boy!
How throb'd his sickening frame with fierce alarms!
Her eyes in liquid light luxurious swim,
And languish with unutterable love:
Heaven's warm bloom glows along each brightening limb,
Where fluttering bland the veil's thin mantlings rove.
[Pg 102]
Quick, blushing as abash'd, she half withdrew:
One hand a bough of flowering myrtle wav'd,
One graceful spread, where, scarce conceal'd from view,
Soft through the parting robe her bosom heav'd.
"Offspring of Jove supreme! belov'd of Heaven!
Attend." Thus spoke the empress of the skies.
"For know, to thee, high-fated prince, 'tis given
Thro' the bright realms of Fame sublime to rise.
"Beyond man's boldest hope; if nor the wiles
Of Pallas triumph o'er th' ennobling thought;
Nor Pleasure lure with artificial smiles
To quaff the poison of her luscious draught.
"When Juno's charms the prize of beauty claim,
Shall aught on Earth, shall aught in Heaven contend?
Whom Juno calls to high triumphant fame,
Shall he to meaner sway inglorious bend?
"Yet lingering comfortless in lonesome wild,
Where Echo sleeps mid cavern'd vales profound,
The pride of Troy, Dominion's darling child,
Pines while the slow hour stalks its sullen round.
"Hear thou, of Heaven unconscious! From the blaze
Of glory, stream'd from Jove's eternal throne,
Thy soul, O mortal, caught th' inspiring rays
That to a god exalt earth's raptur'd son.
[Pg 103]
"Hence the bold wish, on boundless pinion borne,
That fires, alarms, impels the maddening soul;
The hero's eye, hence, kindling into scorn,
Blasts the proud menace, and defies control.
"But, unimprov'd, Heaven's noblest boons are vain:
No sun with plenty crowns th' uncultur'd vale;
Where green lakes languish on the silent plain,
Death rides the billows of the western gale.
"Deep in yon mountain's womb, where the dark cave
Howls to the torrent's everlasting roar,
Does the rich gem its flashy radiance wave?
Or flames with steady ray th' imperial ore?
"Toil deck'd with glittering domes yon champaign wide,
And wakes yon grove-embosom'd lawns to joy,
And rends the rough ore from the mountain's side,
Spangling with starry pomp the thrones of Troy.
"Fly these soft scenes. Even now, with playful art,
Love wreathes thy flowery ways with fatal snare.
And nurse th' ethereal fire that warms thy heart,
That fire ethereal lives but by thy care.
"Lo, hovering near on dark and dampy wing.
Sloth with stern patience waits the hour assign'd,
From her chill plume the deadly dews to fling,
That quench Heaven's beam, and freeze the cheerless mind.
[Pg 104]
"Vain, then, th' enlivening sound of Fame's alarms,
For Hope's exulting impulse prompts no more;
Vain even the joys that lure to Pleasure's arms,
The throb of transport is for ever o'er.
"O who shall then to Fancy's darkening eyes
Recall th' Elysian dreams of joy and light?
Dim through the gloom the formless visions rise,
Snatch'd instantaneous down, the gulf of night.
"Thou, who securely lull'd in youth's warm ray,
Mark'st not the desolations wrought by Time,
Be rous'd or perish. Ardent for its prey
Speeds the fell hour that ravages thy prime.
"And, midst the horrors shrin'd of midnight storm,
The fiend Oblivion eyes thee from afar,
Black with intolerable frowns her form,
Beckoning th' embattled whirlwinds into war.
"Fanes, bulwarks, mountains, worlds, their tempest whelms:
Yet Glory braves unmov'd th' impetuous sweep.
Fly then, ere hurl'd from life's delightful realms,
Thou sink t' Oblivion's dark and boundless deep.
"Fly then, where Glory points the path sublime:
See her crown dazzling with eternal light!
'Tis Juno prompts thy daring steps to climb,
And girds thy bounding heart with matchless might.
[Pg 105]
"Warm in the raptures of divine desire,
Burst the soft chain that curbs th' aspiring mind;
And fly, where Victory, borne on wings of fire,
Waves her red banner to the rattling wind.
"Ascend the car. Indulge the pride of arms,
Where clarions roll their kindling strains on high,
Where the eye maddens to the dread alarms,
And the long shout tumultuous rends the sky.
"Plung'd in the uproar of the thundering field
I see thy lofty arm the tempest guide;
Fate scatters lightning from thy meteor-shield,
And Ruin spreads around the sanguine tide.
"Go, urge the terrors of thy headlong car
On prostrate Pride, and Grandeur's spoils o'erthrown,
While all amaz'd even heroes shrink afar,
And hosts embattled vanish at thy frown.
"When glory crowns thy godlike toils, and all
The triumph's lengthening pomp exalts thy soul,
When lowly at thy feet the mighty fall,
And tyrants tremble at thy stern control;
"When conquering millions hail thy sovereign might,
And tribes unknown dread acclamation join;
How wilt thou spurn the forms of low delight!
For all the ecstasies of heaven are thine:
[Pg 106]
"For thine the joys, that fear no length of days,
Whose wide effulgence scorns all mortal bound:
Fame's trump in thunder shall announce thy praise,
Nor bursting worlds her clarion's blast confound."
The goddess ceas'd, not dubious of the prize:
Elate she mark'd his wild and rolling eye,
Mark'd his lip quiver, and his bosom rise,
And his warm cheek suffus'd with crimson dye.
But Pallas now drew near. Sublime, serene
In conscious dignity, she view'd the swain;
Then, love and pity softening all her mien,
Thus breathed with accents mild the solemn strain.
"Let those, whose arts to fatal paths betray,
The soul with passion's gloom tempestuous blind,
And snatch from Reason's ken th' auspicious ray
Truth darts from Heaven to guide th' exploring mind.
"But Wisdom loves the calm and serious hour,
When Heaven's pure emanation beams confess'd:
Rage, ecstasy, alike disclaim her power,
She wooes each gentler impulse of the breast.
"Sincere th' unalter'd bliss her charms impart,
Sedate th' enlivening ardours they inspire:
She bids no transient rapture thrill the heart,
She wakes no feverish gust of fierce desire.
[Pg 107]
"Unwise, who, tossing on the watery way,
All to the storm th' unfetter'd sail devolve:
Man more unwise resigns the mental sway,
Borne headlong on by passion's keen resolve.
"While storms remote but murmur on thine ear,
Nor waves in ruinous uproar round thee roll,
Yet, yet a moment check thy prone career,
And curb the keen resolve that prompts thy soul.
"Explore thy heart, that, rous'd by Glory's name,
Pants all enraptur'd with the mighty charm—
And, does Ambition quench each milder flame?
And is it conquest that alone can warm?
"T' indulge fell Rapine's desolating lust,
To drench the balmy lawn in streaming gore,
To spurn the hero's cold and silent dust—
Are these thy joys? Nor throbs thy heart for more?
"Pleas'd canst thou listen to the patriot's groan,
And the wild wail of Innocence forlorn?
And hear th' abandon'd maid's last frantic moan,
Her love for ever from her bosom torn?
"Nor wilt thou shrink, when Virtue's fainting breath
Pours the dread curse of vengeance on thy head?
Nor when the pale ghost bursts the cave of death,
To glare distraction on thy midnight bed?
[Pg 108]
"Was it for this, though born to regal power,
Kind Heaven to thee did nobler gifts consign,
Bade Fancy's influence gild thy natal hour,
And bade Philanthropy's applause be thine?
"Theirs be the dreadful glory to destroy,
And theirs the pride of pomp, and praise suborn'd,
Whose eye ne'er lighten'd at the smile of Joy,
Whose cheek the tear of Pity ne'er adorn'd;
"Whose soul, each finer sense instinctive quell'd,
The lyre's mellifluous ravishment defies;
Nor marks where Beauty roves the flowery field,
Or Grandeur's pinion sweeps th' unbounded skies.
"Hail to sweet Fancy's unexpressive charm!
Hail to the pure delights of social love!
Hail, pleasures mild, that fire not while ye warm,
Nor rack th' exulting frame, but gently move!
"But Fancy soothes no more, if stern Remorse
With iron grasp the tortur'd bosom wring.
Ah then, even Fancy speeds the venom's course,
Even Fancy points with rage the maddening sting!
"Her wrath a thousand gnashing fiends attend,
And roll the snakes, and toss the brands of hell:
The beam of Beauty blasts; dark Heavens impend
Tottering; and Music thrills with startling yell.[Pg 109]
"What then avails, that with exhaustless store
Obsequious Luxury loads thy glittering shrine?
What then avails, that prostrate slaves adore,
And Fame proclaims thee matchless and divine?
"What though bland Flattery all her arts apply?
Will these avail to calm th' infuriate brain?
Or will the roaring surge, when heav'd on high,
Headlong hang, hush'd, to hear the piping swain?
"In health how fair, how ghastly in decay
Man's lofty form! how heavenly fair the mind
Sublim'd by Virtue's sweet enlivening sway!
But ah! to guilt's outrageous rule resign'd,
"How hideous and forlorn! when ruthless Care
With cankering tooth corrodes the seeds of life,
And deaf with passion's storms when pines Despair,
And howling furies rouse th' eternal strife.
"O, by thy hopes of joy that restless glow,
Pledges of Heaven! be taught by Wisdom's lore:
With anxious haste each doubtful path forego,
And life's wild ways with cautious fear explore.
"Straight be thy course; nor tempt the maze that leads
Where fell Remorse his shapeless strength conceals:
And oft Ambition's dizzy cliff he treads,
And slumbers oft in Pleasure's flowery vales.[Pg 110]
"Nor linger unresolv'd: Heaven prompts the choice;
Save when Presumption shuts the ear of Pride:
With grateful awe attend to Nature's voice,
The voice of Nature Heaven ordain'd thy guide.
"Warn'd by her voice the arduous path pursue,
That leads to Virtue's fane a hardy band.
What, though no gaudy scenes decoy their view,
Nor clouds of fragrance roll along the land;
"What, though rude mountains heave the flinty way,
Yet there the soul drinks light and life divine,
And pure aërial gales of gladness play,
Brace every nerve, and every sense refine.
"Go, prince, be virtuous and be blest. The throne
Rears not its state to swell the couch of Lust;
Nor dignify Corruption's daring son,
T' o'erwhelm his humbler brethren of the dust.
"But yield an ampler scene to Bounty's eye,
And ampler range to Mercy's ear expand;
And 'midst admiring nations, set on high
Virtue's fair model, fram'd by Wisdom's hand.
"Go then: the moan of Woe demands thine aid;
Pride's licens'd outrage claims thy slumbering ire;
Pale Genius roams the bleak neglected shade,
And battening Avarice mocks his tuneless lyre.[Pg 111]
"Even Nature pines by vilest chains oppress'd;
Th' astonish'd kingdoms crouch to Fashion's nod.
O ye pure inmates of the gentle breast,
Truth, Freedom, Love, O where is your abode?
"O yet once more shall Peace from heaven return,
And young Simplicity with mortals dwell!
Nor Innocence th' august pavilion scorn,
Nor meek Contentment fly the humble cell!
"Wilt thou, my prince, the beauteous train implore,
Midst earth's forsaken scenes once more to bide?
Then shall the shepherd sing in every bower,
And Love with garlands wreathe the domes of Pride.
"The bright tear starting in th' impassion'd eyes
Of silent gratitude; the smiling gaze
Of gratulation, faltering while he tries
With voice of transport to proclaim thy praise;
"Th' ethereal glow that stimulates thy frame,
When all th' according powers harmonious move,
And wake to energy each social aim,
Attun'd spontaneous to the will of Jove;
"Be these, O man, the triumphs of thy soul;
And all the conqueror's dazzling glories slight,
That meteor-like o'er trembling nations roll,
To sink at once in deep and dreadful night.[Pg 112]
"Like thine, yon orb's stupendous glories burn
With genial beam; nor at th' approach of even,
In shades of horror leave the world to mourn,
But gild with lingering light th' empurpled heaven."
Thus while she spoke, her eye, sedately meek,
Look'd the pure fervour of maternal love.
No rival zeal intemperate flush'd her cheek—
Can Beauty's boast the soul of Wisdom move?
Worth's noble pride, can Envy's leer appall,
Or staring Folly's vain applauses soothe?
Can jealous Fear Truth's dauntless heart enthrall?
Suspicion lurks not in the heart of Truth.
And now the shepherd rais'd his pensive head:
Yet unresolv'd and fearful rov'd his eyes,
Scared at the glances of the awful maid;
For young unpractis'd guilt distrusts the guise
Of shameless Arrogance. His wavering breast,
Though warm'd by Wisdom, own'd no constant fire;
While lawless Fancy roam'd afar, unblest
Save in th' oblivious lap of soft Desire.
When thus the queen of soul-dissolving smiles.
"Let gentle fates my darling prince attend:
Joyless and cruel are the warrior's spoils,
Dreary the path stern Virtue's sons ascend.[Pg 113]
"Of human joy full short is the career,
And the dread verge still gains upon your sight:
While idly gazing, far beyond your sphere,
Ye scan the dream of unapproach'd delight;
"Till every sprightly hour and blooming scene
Of life's gay morn unheeded glides away,
And clouds of tempests mount the blue serene,
And storm and ruin close the troublous day.
"Thou still exult to hail the present joy,
Thine be the boon that comes unearn'd by toil;
No forward vain desire thy bliss annoy,
No flattering hope thy longing hours beguile.
"Ah! why should man pursue the charms of Fame,
For ever luring, yet forever coy?
Light as the gaudy rainbow's pillar'd gleam,
That melts illusive from the wondering boy!
"What though her throne irradiate many a clime,
If hung loose-tottering o'er th' unfathom'd tomb?
What though her mighty clarion, rear'd sublime,
Display the imperial wreath and glittering plume?
"Can glittering plume, or can the imperial wreath
Redeem from unrelenting fate the brave?
What note of triumph can her clarion breathe,
T' alarm th' eternal midnight of the grave?[Pg 114]
"That night draws on: nor will the vacant hour
Of expectation linger as it flies;
Nor Fate one moment unenjoy'd restore:
Each moment's flight how precious to the wise!
"O shun th' annoyance of the bustling throng,
That haunt with zealous turbulence the great;
Their coward Office boasts th' unpunish'd wrong,
And sneaks secure in insolence of state.
"O'er fancy'd injury Suspicion pines,
And in grim silence gnaws the festering wound;
Deceit the rage-embitter'd smile refines,
And Censure spreads the viperous hiss around.
"Hope not, fond prince, though Wisdom guard thy throne,
Though Truth and Bounty prompt each generous aim,
Though thine the palm of peace, the victor's crown,
The Muse's rapture, and the patriot's flame:
"Hope not, though all that captivates the wise,
All that endears the good exalt thy praise;
Hope not to taste repose; for Envy's eyes
At fairest worth still point their deadly rays.
"Envy, stern tyrant of the flinty heart,
Can aught of Virtue, Truth, or Beauty charm?
Can soft Compassion thrill with pleasing smart,
Repentance melt, or Gratitude disarm?[Pg 115]
"Ah no. Where Winter Scythia's waste enchains,
And monstrous shapes roar to the ruthless storm,
Not Phœbus' smile can cheer the dreadful plains,
Or soil accurs'd with balmy life inform.
"Then, Envy, then is thy triumphant hour,
When mourns Benevolence his baffled scheme;
When Insult mocks the clemency of Power,
And loud Dissension's livid firebrands gleam;
"When squint-ey'd Slander plies th' unhallow'd tongue,
From poison'd maw when Treason weaves his line,
And Muse apostate (infamy to song!)
Grovels, low-muttering, at Sedition's shrine.
"Let not my prince forego the peaceful shade,
The whispering grove, the fountain, and the plain:
Power, with th' oppressive weight of pomp array'd,
Pants for simplicity and ease in vain.
"The yell of frantic Mirth may stun his ear,
But frantic Mirth soon leaves the heart forlorn;
And Pleasure flies that high tempestuous sphere;
Far different scenes her lucid paths adorn.
"She loves to wander on th' untrodden lawn,
Or the green bosom of reclining hill,
Sooth'd by the careless warbler of the dawn,
Or the lone plaint of ever-murmuring rill.[Pg 116]
"Or from the mountain-glade's aërial brow,
While to her song a thousand echoes call,
Marks the wild woodland wave remote below,
Where shepherds pipe unseen, and waters fall.
"Her influence oft the festive hamlet proves,
Where the high carol cheers th' exulting ring;
And oft she roams the maze of wildering groves,
Listening th' unnumber'd melodies of spring.
"Or to the long and lonely shore retires;
What time, loose-glimmering to the lunar beam,
Faint heaves the slumberous wave, and starry fires
Gild the blue deep with many a lengthening gleam.
"Then, to the balmy bower of Rapture borne,
While strings self-warbling breathe Elysian rest,
Melts in delicious vision, till the morn
Spangle with twinkling dew the flowery waste.
"The frolic Moments, purple-pinion'd, dance
Around, and scatter roses as they play:
And the blithe Graces, hand in hand, advance,
Where, with her lov'd compeers, she deigns to stray;
"Mild Solitude, in veil of russet dye,
Her sylvan spear with moss-grown ivy bound;
And Indolence, with sweetly-languid eye,
And zoneless robe that trails along the ground;[Pg 117]
"But chiefly Love—O thou, whose gentle mind
Each soft indulgence Nature fram'd to share;
Pomp, wealth, renown, dominion, all resign'd,
O haste to Pleasure's bower, for Love is there!
"Love, the desire of gods! the feast of Heaven:
Yet to Earth's favour'd offspring not denied!
Ah, let not thankless man the blessing given
Enslave to Fame, or sacrifice to Pride!
"Nor I from Virtue's call decoy thine ear;
Friendly to Pleasure are her sacred laws.
Let Temperance' smile the cup of gladness cheer;
That cup is death, if he withhold applause.
"Far from thy haunt be Envy's baneful sway,
And Hate, that works the harass'd soul to storm:
But woo Content to breathe her soothing lay,
And charm from Fancy's view each angry form.
"No savage joy th' harmonious hours profane!
Whom Love refines, can barbarous tumult please?
Shall rage of blood pollute the sylvan reign?
Shall Leisure wanton in the spoils of Peace?
"Free let the feathery race indulge the song,
Inhale the liberal beam, and melt in love;
Free let the fleet hind bound her hills along,
And in pure streams the watery nations rove.[Pg 118]
"To joy in Nature's universal smile
Well suits, O man, thy pleasurable sphere;
But why should Virtue doom thy years to toil?
Ah, why should Virtue's law be deem'd severe?
"What meed, Beneficence, thy care repays?
What, Sympathy, thy still returning pang?
And why his generous arm should Justice raise,
To dare the vengeance of a tyrant's fang?
"From thankless spite no bounty can secure;
Or froward wish of discontent fulfil,
That knows not to regret thy bounded power,
But blames with keen reproach thy partial will.
"To check th' impetuous all-involving tide
Of human woes, how impotent thy strife!
High o'er thy mounds devouring surges ride,
Nor reck thy baffled toils, or lavish'd life.
"The bower of bliss, the smile of love be thine,
Unlabour'd ease, and leisure's careless dream.
Such be their joys, who bend at Venus' shrine,
And own her charms beyond compare supreme."
Warm'd as she spoke, all panting with delight,
Her kindling beauties breathed triumphant bloom;
And Cupids flutter'd round in circlets bright,
And Flora pour'd from all her stores perfume.[Pg 119]
"Thine be the prize," exclaim'd th' enraptur'd youth,
"Queen of unrivall'd charms, and matchless joy."—
O blind to fate, felicity, and truth!—
But such are they whom Pleasure's snares decoy.
The Sun was sunk; the vision was no more:
Night downward rush'd tempestuous, at the frown
Of Jove's awaken'd wrath; deep thunders roar,
The forests howl afar, and mountains groan,
And sanguine meteors glare athwart the plain:
With horror's scream the Ilian towers resound;
Raves the hoarse storm along the bellowing main,
And the strong earthquake rends the shuddering ground.

[1] This is agreeable to the theology of Homer, who often represents Pallas as the executioner of divine vengeance.

[Pg 120]


I. 1.
Peace, heaven-descended maid! whose powerful voice
From ancient darkness call'd the morn;
And hush'd of jarring elements the noise;
When Chaos, from his old dominion torn,
With all his bellowing throng,
Far, far was hurl'd the void abyss along;
And all the bright angelic choir
Striking through all their ranks th' eternal lyre,
Pour'd in loud symphony th' impetuous strain;
And every fiery orb and planet sung,
And wide, through night's dark solitary reign
Rebounding long and deep the lays triumphant rung.
I. 2.
Oh whither art thou fled, Saturnian age!
Roll round again, majestic years!
To break the sceptre of tyrannic rage,
From Woe's wan cheek to wipe the bitter tears,
Ye years, again roll round!
Hark, from afar what desolating sound,[Pg 121]
While echoes load the sighing gales,
With dire presage the throbbing heart assails!
Murder deep-rous'd, with all the whirlwind's haste
And roar of tempest, from her cavern springs,
Her tangled serpents girds around her waist,
Smiles ghastly-fierce, and shakes her gore-distilling wings.
I. 3.
The shouts redoubling rise
In thunder to the skies.
The Nymphs disorder'd dart along,
Sweet Powers of solitude and song,
Stunn'd with the horrors of discordant sound;
And all is listening trembling round.
Torrents far heard amid the waste of night
That oft have led the wanderer right,
Are silent at the noise.
The mighty ocean's more majestic voice
Drown'd in superior din is heard no more;
The surge in silence seems to sweep the foamy shore.
II. 1.
The bloody banner streaming in the air
Seen on yon sky-mix'd mountain's brow,
The mingling multitudes, the madding car,
Driven in confusion to the plain below,
War's dreadful lord proclaim.
Bursts out by frequent fits th' expansive flame.[Pg 122]
Snatch'd in tempestuous eddies flies
The surging smoke o'er all the darken'd skies.
The cheerful face of heaven no more is seen,
The bloom of morning fades to deadly pale,
The bat flits transient o'er the dusky green,
And night's foul birds along the sullen twilight sail.
II. 2.
Involv'd in fire-streak'd gloom the car comes on.
The rushing steeds grim Terror guides.
His forehead writh'd to a relentless frown,
Aloft the angry Power of battles rides:
Grasp'd in his mighty hand
A mace tremendous desolates the land;
The tower rolls headlong down the steep,
The mountain shrinks before its wasteful sweep:
Chill horror the dissolving limbs invades;
Smit by the blasting lightning of his eyes,
A deeper gloom invests the howling shades,
Stript is the shatter'd grove, and every verdure dies.
II. 3.
How startled Frenzy stares,
Bristling her ragged hairs!
Revenge the gory fragment gnaws;
See, with her griping vulture claws
Imprinted deep, she rends the mangled wound!
Hate whirls her torch sulphureous round;
The shrieks of agony, and clang of arms,
Reëcho to the hoarse alarms[Pg 123]
Her trump terrific blows.
Disparting from behind, the clouds disclose
Of kingly gesture a gigantic form,
That with his scourge sublime rules the careering storm.
III. 1.
Ambition, outside fair! within as foul
As fiends of fiercest heart below,
Who ride the hurricanes of fire that roll
Their thundering vortex o'er the realms of woe.
Yon naked waste survey;
Where late was heard the flute's mellifluous lay;
Where late the rosy-bosom'd hours
In loose array danc'd lightly o'er the flowers;
Where late the shepherd told his tender tale;
And waken'd by the murmuring breeze of morn,
The voice of cheerful Labour fill'd the dale;
And dove-eyed Plenty smil'd, and wav'd her liberal horn.
III. 2.
Yon ruins, sable from the wasting flame,
But mark the once resplendent dome;
The frequent corse obstructs the sullen stream,
And ghosts glare horrid from the sylvan gloom.
How sadly silent all!
Save where, outstretch'd beneath yon hanging wall,[Pg 124]
Pale Famine moans with feeble breath,
And Anguish yells, and grinds his bloody teeth—
Though vain the Muse, and every melting lay,
To touch thy heart, unconscious of remorse!
Know, monster, know, thy hour is on the way,
I see, I see the years begin their mighty course.
III. 3.
What scenes of glory rise
Before my dazzled eyes!
Young Zephyrs wave their wanton wings,
And melody celestial rings:
All blooming on the lawn the nymphs advance,
And touch the lute, and range the dance;
And the blithe shepherds on the mountain's-side,
Array'd in all their rural pride,
Exalt the festive note,
Inviting Echo from her inmost grot—
But ah! the landscape glows with fainter light,
It darkens, swims, and flies for ever from my sight.
IV. 1.
Illusions vain! Can sacred Peace reside
Where sordid gold the breast alarms,
Where Cruelty inflames the eye of Pride,
And Grandeur wantons in soft Pleasure's arms?
Ambition! these are thine:
These from the soul erase the form divine;
And quench the animating fire,[Pg 125]
That warms the bosom with sublime desire.
Thence the relentless heart forgets to feel,
And Hatred triumphs on th' o'erwhelming brow,
And midnight Rancour grasps the cruel steel,
Blaze the blue flames of death, and sound the shrieks of Woe.
IV. 2.
From Albion fled, thy once belov'd retreat,
What region brightens in thy smile,
Creative Peace, and underneath thy feet
Sees sudden flowers adorn the rugged soil?
In bleak Siberia blows,
Waked by thy genial breath, the balmy rose?
Wav'd over by thy magic wand
Does life inform fell Lybia's burning sand?
Or does some isle thy parting flight detain,
Where roves the Indian through primeval shades,
Haunts the pure pleasures of the sylvan reign,
And led by reason's light the path of nature treads.
IV. 3.
On Cuba's utmost steep[1]
Far leaning o'er the deep
The Goddess' pensive form was seen.
Her robe of Nature's varied green[Pg 126]
Wav'd on the gale; grief dimm'd her radiant eyes,
Her bosom heav'd with boding sighs:
She ey'd the main; where, gaining on the view,
Emerging from th' ethereal blue,
Midst the dread pomp of war,
Blaz'd the Iberian streamer from afar.
She saw; and, on refulgent pinions borne,
Slow wing'd her way sublime, and mingled with the morn.

[1] This alludes to the discovery of America by the Spaniards under Columbus. Those ravagers are said to have made their first descent on the islands in the Gulf of Florida, of which Cuba is one.


Memory, be still! why throng upon the thought
These scenes so deeply-stain'd with Sorrow's dye?
Is there in all thy stores no cheerful draught,
To brighten yet once more in Fancy's eye?
Yes—from afar a landscape seems to rise,
Embellish'd by the lavish hand of Spring;
Thin gilded clouds float lightly o'er the skies,
And laughing Loves disport on fluttering wing.
How blest the youth in yonder valley laid!
What smiles in every conscious feature play!
While to the murmurs of the breezy glade
His merry pipe attunes the rural lay.
[Pg 127]
Hail Innocence! whose bosom, all serene,
Feels not as yet th' internal tempest roll!
O ne'er may Care distract that placid mien!
Ne'er may the shades of Doubt o'erwhelm thy soul!
Vain wish! for lo, in gay attire conceal'd,
Yonder she comes! the heart-inflaming fiend!
(Will no kind power the helpless stripling shield?)
Swift to her destin'd prey see Passion bend!
O smile accurs'd, to hide the worst designs!
Now with blithe eye she wooes him to be blest,
While round her arm unseen a serpent twines—
And lo, she hurls it hissing at his breast!
And, instant, lo, his dizzy eyeball swims
Ghastly, and reddening darts a frantic glare;
Pain with strong grasp distorts his writhing limbs,
And Fear's cold hand erects his frozen hair!
Is this, O life, is this thy boasted prime!
And does thy spring no happier prospect yield?
Why should the sunbeam paint thy glittering clime,
When the keen mildew desolates the field?
How memory pains! Let some gay theme beguile
The musing mind, and soothe to soft delight.
Ye images of woe, no more recoil;
Be life's past scenes wrapt in oblivious night.
[Pg 128]
Now when fierce Winter, arm'd with wasteful power,
Heaves the wild deep that thunders from afar,
How sweet to sit in this sequester'd bower,
To hear, and but to hear, the mingling war!
Ambition here displays no gilded toy
That tempts on desperate wing the soul to rise
Nor Pleasure's paths to wilds of woe decoy,
Nor Anguish lurks in Grandeur's proud disguise.
Oft has Contentment cheer'd this lone abode
With the mild languish of her smiling eye;
Here Health in rosy bloom has often glow'd,
While loose-robed Quiet stood enamour'd by.
Even the storm lulls to more profound repose;
The storm these humble walls assails in vain;
The shrub is shelter'd when the whirlwind blows,
While the oak's mighty ruin strows the plain.
Blow on, ye winds! Thine, Winter, be the skies,
And toss'd th' infuriate surge, and vales lay waste:
Nature thy temporary rage defies;
To her relief the gentler Seasons haste.
Thron'd in her emerald-car see Spring appear!
(As Fancy wills, the landscape starts to view)
Her emerald-car the youthful Zephyrs bear,
Fanning her bosom with their pinions blue.
[Pg 129]
Around the jocund Hours are fluttering seen;
And lo, her rod the rose-lipp'd power extends!
And lo, the lawns are deck'd in living green,
And Beauty's bright-ey'd train from heaven descends!
Haste, happy days, and make all nature glad—
But will all nature joy at your return?
O, can ye cheer pale Sickness' gloomy bed,
Or dry the tears that bathe th' untimely urn?
Will ye one transient ray of gladness dart
Where groans the dungeon to the captive's wail?
To ease tir'd Disappointment's bleeding heart,
Will all your stores of softening balm avail?
When stern Oppression in his harpy-fangs
From Want's weak grasp the last sad morsel bears,
Can ye allay the dying parent's pangs,
Whose infant craves relief with fruitless tears?
For ah! thy reign, Oppression, is not past.
Who from the shivering limbs the vestment rends?
Who lays the once-rejoicing village waste,
Bursting the ties of lovers and of friends?
But hope not, Muse, vainglorious as thou art,
With the weak impulse of thy humble strain,
Hope not to soften Pride's obdurate heart,
When Errol's bright example shines in vain.
[Pg 130]
Then cease the theme. Turn, Fancy, turn thine eye,
Thy weeping eye, nor further urge thy flight;
Thy haunts, alas! no gleams of joy supply,
Or transient gleams, that flash, and sink in night.
Yet fain the mind its anguish would forego—
Spread then, historic Muse, thy pictur'd scroll;
Bid thy great scenes in all their splendour glow,
And rouse to thought sublime th' exulting soul.
What mingling pomps rush on th' enraptur'd gaze!
Lo, where the gallant navy rides the deep!
Here glittering towns their spiry turrets raise!
There bulwarks overhang the shaggy steep!
Bristling with spears, and bright with burnish'd shields,
Th' embattled legions stretch their long array;
Discord's red torch, as fierce she scours the fields,
With bloody tincture stains the face of day.
And now the hosts in silence wait the sign.
Keen are their looks whom Liberty inspires.
Quick as the Goddess darts along the line,
Each breast impatient burns with noble fires.
Her form how graceful! In her lofty mien
The smiles of love stern wisdom's frown control;
Her fearless eye, determin'd though serene,
Speaks the great purpose, and th' unconquer'd soul.
[Pg 131]
Mark, where Ambition leads the adverse band,
Each feature fierce and haggard, as with pain!
With menace loud he cries, while from his hand
He vainly strives to wipe the crimson stain.
Lo, at his call, impetuous as the storms,
Headlong to deeds of death the hosts are driven;
Hatred to madness wrought, each fine deforms,
Mounts the black whirlwind, and involves the heaven.
Now, Virtue, now thy powerful succour lend,
Shield them for Liberty who dare to die—
Ah, Liberty! will none thy cause befriend!
Are those thy sons, thy generous sons, that fly!
Not Virtue's self, when Heaven its aid denies,
Can brace the loosen'd nerves, or warm the heart;
Not Virtue's self can still the burst of sighs,
When festers in the soul Misfortune's dart.
See, where by terror and despair dismay'd,
The scattering legions pour along the plain!
Ambition's car in bloody spoils array'd
Hews its broad way, as Vengeance guides the rein.
But who is he, that, by yon lonely brook
With woods o'erhung and precipices rude,[1]
Lies all abandon'd, yet with dauntless look
Sees streaming from his breast the purple flood?
[Pg 132] Ah, Brutus! ever thine be Virtue's tear!
Lo, his dim eyes to Liberty he turns,
As scarce-supported on her broken spear
O'er her expiring son the Goddess mourns.
Loose to the wind her azure mantle flies,
From her dishevell'd locks she rends the plume;
No lustre lightens in her weeping eyes,
And on her tear-stain'd cheek no roses bloom.
Meanwhile the world, Ambition, owns thy sway,
Fame's loudest trumpet labours with thy name,
For thee the Muse awakes her sweetest lay,
And Flattery bids for thee her altars flame.
Nor in life's lofty bustling sphere alone,
The sphere where monarchs and where heroes toil,
Sink Virtue's sons beneath Misfortune's frown,
While Guilt's thrill'd bosom leaps at Pleasure's smile;
Full oft, where Solitude and Silence dwell,
Far, far remote amid the lowly plain,
Resounds the voice of Woe from Virtue's cell.
Such is man's doom, and Pity weeps in vain.
Still grief recoils—How vainly have I strove
Thy power, O Melancholy, to withstand!
Tir'd I submit; but yet, O yet remove,
Or ease the pressure of thy heavy hand!
[Pg 133]
Yet for awhile let the bewilder'd soul
Find in society relief from woe;
O yield awhile to Friendship's soft control;
Some, respite, Friendship, wilt thou not bestow!
Come, then, Philander, whose exalted mind
Looks down from far on all that charms the great;
For thou canst bear, unshaken and resign'd,
The brightest smiles, the blackest frowns of Fate:
Come thou, whose love unlimited, sincere,
Nor faction cools, nor injury destroys;
Who lend'st to Misery's moan a pitying ear,
And feel'st with ecstasy another's joys:
Who know'st man's frailty; with a favouring eye,
And melting heart, behold'st a brother's fall;
Who, unenslav'd by Fashion's narrow tie,
With manly freedom follow'st Nature's call.
And bring thy Delia, sweetly-smiling fair,
Whose spotless soul no rankling thoughts deform;
Her gentle accents calm each throbbing care,
And harmonize the thunder of the storm:
Though blest with wisdom, and with wit refin'd,
She courts no homage, nor desires to shine;
In her each sentiment sublime is join'd
To female softness, and a form divine.
[Pg 134]
Come, and disperse th' involving shadows drear;
Let chasten'd mirth the social hours employ;
O catch the swift-wing'd moment while 'tis near,
On swiftest wing the moment flies of joy.
Even while the careless disencumber'd soul
Sinks all dissolving into pleasure's dream,
Even then to time's tremendous verge we roll
With headlong haste along life's surgy stream.
Can Gayety the vanish'd years restore,
Or on the withering limbs fresh beauty shed,
Or soothe the sad inevitable hour,
Or cheer the dark, dark mansions of the dead?
Still sounds the solemn knell in fancy's ear,
That call'd Eliza to the silent tomb;
To her how jocund roll'd the sprightly year!
How shone the nymph in beauty's brightest bloom!
Ah! Beauty's bloom avails not in the grave,
Youth's lofty mien, nor age's awful grace;
Moulder alike unknown the prince and slave,
Whelm'd in th' enormous wreck of human race.
The thought-fix'd portraiture, the breathing bust,
The arch with proud memorials array'd,
The long-liv'd pyramid shall sink in dust
To dumb oblivion's ever-desert shade.
[Pg 135]
Fancy from joy still wanders far astray.
Ah, Melancholy! how I feel thy power!
Long have I labour'd to elude thy sway!
But 'tis enough, for I resist no more.
The traveller thus, that o'er the midnight-waste
Through many a lonesome path is doom'd to roam,
Wilder'd and weary sits him down at last;
For long the night, and distant far his home.

[1] Such, according to Plutarch, was the scene of Brutus's death.

[Pg 136]


Tir'd with the busy crowds, that all the day
Impatient throng where Folly's altars flame,
My languid powers dissolve with quick decay,
'Till genial Sleep repair the sinking frame.
Hail, kind reviver! that canst lull the cares,
And every weary sense compose to rest,
Lighten th' oppressive load which anguish bears,
And warm with hope the cold desponding breast.
Touch'd by thy rod, from Power's majestic brow
Drops the gay plume; he pines a lowly clown;
And on the cold earth stretch'd the son of Woe
Quaffs Pleasure's draught, and wears a fancied crown.
When rous'd by thee, on boundless pinions borne
Fancy to fairy scenes exults to rove,
Now scales the cliff gay-gleaming on the morn,
Now sad and silent treads the deepening grove;
Or skims the main, and listens to the storms,
Marks the long waves roll far remote away;
Or mingling with ten thousand glittering forms,
Floats on the gale, and basks in purest day.
[Pg 137]
Haply, ere long, pierc'd by the howling blast,
Through dark and pathless deserts I shall roam,
Plunge down th' unfathom'd deep, or shrink aghast
Where bursts the shrieking spectre from the tomb:
Perhaps loose Luxury's enchanting smile
Shall lure my steps to some romantic dale,
Where Mirth's light freaks th' unheeded hours beguile,
And airs of rapture warble in the gale.
Instructive emblem of this mortal state!
Where scenes as various every hour arise
In swift succession, which the hand of Fate
Presents, then snatches from our wondering eyes.
Be taught, vain man, how fleeting all thy joys,
Thy boasted grandeur, and thy glittering store;
Death comes, and all thy fancied bliss destroys,
Quick as a dream it fades, and is no more.
And, sons of Sorrow! though the threatening storm
Of angry Fortune overhang awhile,
Let not her frowns your inward peace deform;
Soon happier days in happier climes shall smile.
Through Earth's throng'd visions while we toss forlorn,
'Tis tumult all, and rage, and restless strife;
But these shall vanish like the dreams of morn,
When Death awakes us to immortal life.

[Pg 138]


Exults the fluttering heart, O Mortal-born,
If Fame pronounce thee beautiful and wise,
If pompous blazonry thy name adorn!——
Approach, with trembling awe, where **** lies;
And pause; and know thy boasted honours vain.
Vain all the gifts that fortune can bestow.
Late shone around Her all the gorgeous train,
But shine not round the mouldering dust below.
Gaz'd at from far by Envy's lifted eye
What then avails to deck th' exalted scene,
If there the blasting storms of anguish fly,
If Frailty there displays her withering mien?
But Virtue (sacred plant!) no soil disdains;
The plant that Frailty's fiercest frown defies.
Retir'd it blooms amid the lowly plains;
Or decks the mountain's brow that mates the skies,
And there conspicuous forms the Pilgrim's bower,
When Sorrow darts direct the feverish ray;
And forms his shelter from the tempest's power
In stern Oppression's desolating day.
[Pg 139]
This, Grandeur, be thy praise; 'tis more than fame.
This praise was Hers; yet not to this confin'd,
Hers was th' indulgent soul untaught to blame,
Hers all the graces of the mildest mind.
Slight is your wound, who mourn a Guardian lost,
Though grief's sharp sting now prompts the pious sigh;
He lives the friend of man, the Muse's boast,
And Bounty's hand shall wipe your streaming eye.
But ah! what balm shall heal His bleeding heart,
Who for the Friend, and for the Lover mourns!
Of all the joys that friendship can impart,
When love's divinest flame united burns,
Possess'd so late! but now possess'd no more!—
Thus triumphs fate o'er all that charms below;
Thus curbs the storm till joy's meridian hour,
To wrap the smiling scene in darker woe.
Sole object of a Mother's tender care,
Could ought of song avail to ease thy pain;
Or charm a Parent's, Sister's, Friend's despair;
Fain would the Muse attempt some soothing strain.
But what can soothe, when Hope denies her aid!
Far in the silent depth of yonder gloom,
Where the weak lamp wan wavers o'er the dead,
She hides in sable dust her sparkling plume.
[Pg 140]
T' enrage their smart, Remembrance wakes severe,
And bids the vanish'd years again to roll;
Again they seem that soothing voice to hear,
Again those looks shoot transport to the soul.
The vision flies, and leaves the mind to mourn,
Saddening each scene that pleas'd while She was by;
For ah! those vanish'd years no more return;
Mute the soft voice, and clos'd the gentle eye.
Come, Resignation, with uplifted brow,
And eye of rapture smiling though in tears;
Come, for thou lov'st the silent house of woe,
When no fond friend the abandon'd mansion cheers.
Come, for 'tis thine to soothe the Mourner's smart,
The throbs of hopeless anguish to control,
With healing balm to point Death's levell'd dart,
And melt in heavenly dreams the parting soul.
We mark'd Thy triumphs in that hour of dread;
When from Her eyes, that look'd a last adieu,
Each weeping friend seem'd vanishing in shade,
And darkening slow the swimming scene withdrew.
'Twas then, Her pale cheek caught Thy rapturous smile,
Thy cheering whispers calm'd her labouring breast,
And hymns of quiring angels charm'd the while;
Till the weak frame dissolv'd in endless rest.

[Pg 141]



Laws, as we read in ancient sages,
Have been like cobwebs in all ages.
Cobwebs for little flies are spread,
And laws for little folks are made;
But if an insect of renown,
Hornet or beetle, wasp or drone,
Be caught in quest of sport or plunder,
The flimsy fetter flies in sunder.
Your simile perhaps may please one
With whom wit holds the place of reason:
But can you prove that this in fact is
Agreeable to life and practice?
Then hear, what in his simple way
Old Esop told me t'other day.
In days of yore, but (which is very odd)
Our author mentions not the period,
We mortal men, less given to speeches,
Allow'd the beasts sometimes to teach us.
But now we all are prattlers grown,
And suffer no voice but our own:
With us no beast has leave to speak,
Although his honest heart should break.
'Tis true, your asses and your apes,
And other brutes in human shapes,[Pg 142]
And that thing made of sound and show
Which mortals have misnam'd a beau
(But in the language of the sky
Is call'd a two-legg'd butterfly),
Will make your very heartstrings ache
With loud and everlasting clack,
And beat your auditory drum,
Till you grow deaf, or they grow dumb.
But to our story we return:
'Twas early on a Summer morn,
A Wolf forsook the mountain-den,
And issued hungry on the plain.
Full many a stream and lawn he pass'd,
And reach'd a winding vale at last;
Where from a hollow rock he spy'd
The shepherds drest in flowery pride.
Garlands were strow'd, and all was gay,
To celebrate an holiday.
The merry tabor's gamesome sound
Provok'd the sprightly dance around.
Hard by a rural board was rear'd,
On which in fair array appear'd
The peach, the apple, and the raisin,
And all the fruitage of the season.
But, more distinguish'd than the rest,
Was seen a wether ready drest,
That smoking, recent from the flame,
Diffus'd a stomach-rousing steam.
Our wolf could not endure the sight,
Outrageous grew his appetite:[Pg 143]
His entrails groan'd with tenfold pain,
He lick'd his lips, and lick'd again;
At last, with lightning in his eyes,
He bounces forth, and fiercely cries,
"Shepherds, I am not given to scolding,
But now my spleen I cannot hold in.
By Jove, such scandalous oppression
Would put an elephant in passion.
You, who your flocks (as you pretend)
By wholesome laws from harm defend,
Which make it death for any beast,
How much soe'er by hunger press'd,
To seize a sheep by force or stealth,
For sheep have right to life and health;
Can you commit, uncheck'd by shame,
What in a beast so much you blame?
What is a law, if those who make it
Become the forwardest to break it?
The case is plain: you would reserve
All to yourselves, while others starve.
Such laws from base self-interest spring,
Not from the reason of the thing—"
He was proceeding, when a swain
Burst out—"And dares a wolf arraign
His betters, and condemn their measures,
And contradict their wills and pleasures?
We have establish'd laws, 'tis true,
But laws are made for such as you.
Know, sirrah, in its very nature
A law can't reach the legislature.[Pg 144]
For laws, without a sanction join'd,
As all men know, can never bind:
But sanctions reach not us the makers,
For who dares punish us though breakers?
'Tis therefore plain, beyond denial,
That laws were ne'er design'd to tie all;
But those, whom sanctions reach alone;
We stand accountable to none.
Besides, 'tis evident, that, seeing
Laws from the great derive their being,
They as in duty bound should love
The great, in whom they live and move,
And humbly yield to their desires:
'Tis just what gratitude requires.
What suckling dangled on the lap
Would tear away its mother's pap?
But hold—Why deign I to dispute
With such a scoundrel of a brute?
Logic is lost upon a knave.
Let action prove the law our slave."
An angry nod his will declar'd
To his gruff yeoman of the guard;
The full-fed mongrels, train'd to ravage,
Fly to devour the shaggy savage.
The beast had now no time to lose
In chopping logic with his foes;
"This argument," quoth he, "has force,
And swiftness is my sole resource."
He said, and left the swains their prey,
And to the mountains scour'd away.

[Pg 145]



[Part of a letter to a person of quality.

* * * * * * * Lest your Lordship, who are so well acquainted with every thing that relates to true honour, should think hardly of me for attacking the memory of the dead, I beg leave to offer a few words in my own vindication.

If I had composed the following verses, with a view to gratify private resentment, to promote the interest of any faction, or to recommend myself to the patronage of any person whatsoever, I should have been altogether inexcusable. To attack the memory of the dead from selfish considerations, or from mere wantonness of malice, is an enormity which none can hold in greater detestation than I. But I composed them from very different motives; as every intelligent reader, who peruses them with attention, and who is willing to believe me upon my own testimony, will undoubtedly perceive. My motives proceeded from a sincere desire to do some small service to my country, and to the[Pg 146] cause of truth and virtue. The promoters of faction I ever did, and ever will consider as the enemies of mankind; to the memory of such I owe no veneration; to the writings of such I owe no indulgence.

Your Lordship knows that * * * * * owed the greatest share of his renown to the most incompetent of all judges, the mob; actuated by the most unworthy of all principles, a spirit of insolence; and inflamed by the vilest of all human passions, hatred to their fellow-citizens. Those who joined the cry in his favour seemed to me to be swayed rather by fashion than by real sentiment. He therefore might have lived and died unmolested by me; confident as I am, that posterity, when the present unhappy dissensions are forgotten, will do ample justice to his real character. But when I saw the extravagant honours that were paid to his memory, and heard that a monument in Westminster Abbey was intended for one, whom even his admirers acknowledge to have been an incendiary and a debauchee, I could not help wishing that my countrymen would reflect a little on what they were doing, before they consecrated, by what posterity would think the public voice, a character which no friend to virtue or to true taste can approve. It was this sentiment, enforced by the earnest request of a friend, which produced the following little poem; in which I have said nothing of * * * * *'s manners[Pg 147] that is not warranted by the best authority; nor of his writings, that is not perfectly agreeable to the opinion of many of the most competent judges in Britain. * * * * * * * *, January 1765.]

[A] Churchill.

Bufo, begone! with Thee may Faction's fire,
That hatch'd thy salamander-fame, expire.
Fame, dirty idol of the brainless crowd,
What half-made moon-calf can mistake for good!
Since shar'd by knaves of high and low degree;
Cromwell, and Catiline; Guido Faux, and Thee.
By nature uninspir'd, untaught by art;
With not one thought that breathes the feeling heart,
With not one offering vow'd to Virtue's shrine,
With not one pure unprostituted line;
Alike debauch'd in body, soul, and lays;——
For pension'd censure, and for pension'd praise,
For ribaldry, for libels, lewdness, lies,
For blasphemy of all the Good and Wise;
Coarse virulence in coarser doggerel writ,
Which bawling blackguards spell'd, and took for wit;
For conscience, honour, slighted, spurn'd, o'erthrown;—
Lo, Bufo shines the minion of renown!
Is this the land that boasts a Milton's fire,
And magic Spenser's wildly-warbling lyre?
The land that owns th' omnipotence of song,
When Shakspeare whirls the throbbing heart along?[Pg 148]
The land where Pope, with energy divine,
In fine strong blaze bade wit and fancy shine;
Whose verse, by Truth in Virtue's triumph borne,
Gave knaves to infamy, and fools to scorn;
Yet pure in manners, and in thought refin'd,
Whose life and lays adorn'd and blest mankind?
Is this the land where Gray's unlabour'd art
Soothes, melts, alarms, and ravishes the heart;
While the lone wanderer's sweet complainings flow
In simple majesty of manly woe;
Or while, sublime, on eagle-pinion driven,
He soars Pindaric heights, and sails the waste of heaven?
Is this the land, o'er Shenstone's recent urn
Where all the Loves and gentler Graces mourn?
And where, to crown the hoary bard of night,[1]
The Muses and the Virtues all unite?
Is this the land where Akenside displays
The bold yet temperate flame of ancient days?
Like the rapt Sage,[2] in genius as in theme,
Whose hallow'd strain renown'd Ilissus' stream;
Or him, th' indignant Bard,[3] whose patriot ire,
Sublime in vengeance, smote the dreadful lyre;
For truth, for liberty, for virtue warm,
Whose mighty song unnerv'd a tyrant's arm,
Hush'd the rude roar of discord, rage, and lust,
And spurn'd licentious demagogues to dust.
[Pg 149]Is this the queen of realms! the glorious isle,
Britannia, blest in Heaven's indulgent smile!
Guardian of truth, and patroness of art,
Nurse of th' undaunted soul, and generous heart!
Where, from a base unthankful world exil'd,
Freedom exults to roam the careless wild;
Where taste to science every charm supplies,
And genius soars unbounded to the skies!
And shall a Bufo's most polluted name
Stain her bright tablet of untainted fame!
Shall his disgraceful name with theirs be join'd,
Who wish'd and wrought the welfare of their kind!
His name accurst, who, leagued with * * * * * * and hell,
Labour'd to rouse, with rude and murderous yell,
Discord the fiend, to toss rebellion's brand,
To whelm in rage and woe a guiltless land;
To frustrate wisdom's, virtue's noblest plan,
And triumph in the miseries of man.
Drivelling and dull, when crawls the reptile Muse,
Swoln from the sty, and rankling from the stews,
With envy, spleen, and pestilence replete,
And gorged with dust she lick'd from treason's feet;
Who once, like Satan, rais'd to heaven her sight,
But tuned abhorrent from the hated light:——
O'er such a Muse shall wreaths of glory bloom!
No——shame and execration be her doom.
Hard-fated Bufo! could not dulness save
Thy soul from sin, from infamy thy grave![Pg 150]
Blackmore and Quarles, those blockheads of renown,
Lavish'd their ink, but never harm'd the town:
Though this, thy brother in discordant song,
Harass'd the ear, and cramp'd the labouring tongue;
And that, like thee, taught staggering prose to stand,
And limp on stilts of rhyme around the land.
Harmless they doz'd a scribbling life away,
And yawning nations own'd th' innoxious lay:
But from thy graceless, rude, and beastly brain
What fury breath'd th' incendiary strain?
Did hate to vice exasperate thy style?
No——Bufo match'd the vilest of the vile.
Yet blazon'd was his verse with Virtue's name——
Thus prudes look down to hide their want of shame;
Thus hypocrites to truth, and fools to sense,
And fops to taste, have sometimes made pretence:
Thus thieves and gamesters swear by honour's laws:
Thus pension-hunters bawl their Country's cause:
Thus furious Teague for moderation rav'd,
And own'd his soul to liberty enslav'd.
Nor yet, though thousand Cits admire thy rage,
Though less of fool than felon marks thy page;
Nor yet, though here and there one lonely spark
Of wit half brightens through th' involving dark,
To show the gloom more hideous for the foil,
But not repay the drudging reader's toil;
(For who for one poor pearl of clouded ray
Through Alpine dunghills delves his desperate way?)[Pg 151]
Did genius to thy verse such bane impart?
No. 'Twas the demon of thy venom'd heart,
(Thy heart with rancour's quintessence endued)
And the blind zeal of a misjudging crowd.
Thus from rank soil a poison'd mushroom sprung,
Nursling obscene of mildew and of dung;
By heaven design'd on its own native spot
Harmless t' enlarge its bloated bulk, and rot.
But gluttony th' abortive nuisance saw;
It rous'd his ravenous undiscerning maw:
Gulp'd down the tasteless throat, the mess abhorr'd
Shot fiery influence round the maddening board.
O had thy verse been impotent as dull,
Nor spoke the rancorous heart, but lumpish scull;
Had mobs distinguish'd, they who howl'd thy fame,
The icicle from the pure diamond's flame,
From fancy's soul thy gross imbruted sense,
From dauntless truth thy shameless insolence,
From elegance confusion's monstrous mass,
And from the lion's spoils the skulking ass,
From rapture's strain the drawling doggerel line,
From warbling seraphim the gruntling swine:——
With gluttons, dunces, rakes, thy name had slept,
Nor o'er her sullied fame Britannia wept;
Nor had the Muse, with honest zeal possess'd,
T' avenge her country by thy name disgrac'd,
Rais'd this bold strain for virtue, truth, mankind,
And thy fell shade to infamy resign'd.
When frailty leads astray the soul sincere,
Let Mercy shed the soft and manly tear,[Pg 152]
When to the grave descends the sensual sot,
Unnam'd, unnotic'd, let his carrion rot.
When paltry rogues, by stealth, deceit, or force,
Hazard their necks, ambitious of your purse;
For such the hangman wreathes his trusty gin,
And let the gallows expiate their sin.
But when a Ruffian, whose portentous crimes
Like plagues and earthquakes terrify the times,
Triumphs through life, from legal judgment free,
For hell may hatch what law could ne'er foresee;
Sacred from vengeance shall his memory rest?——
Judas though dead, though damn'd, we still detest.

[1] Dr. Young.

[2] Plato.

[3] Alceus. See Akenside's Ode on Lyric Poetry.

[Pg 153]



Blow, blow, thou vernal gale!
Thy balm will not avail
To ease my aching breast;
Though thou the billows smooth,
Thy murmurs cannot soothe
My weary soul to rest.
Flow, flow, thou tuneful stream!
Infuse the easy dream
Into the peaceful soul;
But thou canst not compose
The tumult of my woes,
Though soft thy waters roll.
Blush, blush, ye fairest flowers!
Beauties surpassing yours
My Rosalind adorn;
Nor is the winter's blast,
That lays your glories waste,
So killing as her scorn.
Breathe, breathe, ye tender lays,
That linger down the maze
Of yonder winding grove;
O let your soft control
Bend her relenting soul
To pity and to love.
[Pg 154]
Fade, fade, ye flowerets fair!
Gales, fan no more the air!
Ye streams forget to glide!
Be hush'd, each vernal strain;
Since nought can soothe my pain,
Nor mitigate her pride.



O thou! whose steps in sacred reverence tread
These lone dominions of the silent dead;
On this sad stone a pious look bestow,
Nor uninstructed read this tale of woe;
And while the sigh of sorrow heaves thy breast,
Let each rebellious murmur be supprest;
Heaven's hidden ways to trace, for us, how vain!
Heaven's wise decrees, how impious, to arraign!
Pure from the stains of a polluted age,
In early bloom of life, they left the stage:
Not doom'd in lingering woe to waste their breath,
One moment snatch'd them from the power of Death:
They liv'd united, and united died;
Happy the friends whom Death cannot divide!

[Pg 155]


Escap'd the gloom of mortal life, a soul
Here leaves its mouldering tenement of clay,
Safe, where no cares their whelming billows roll,
No doubts bewilder, and no hopes betray.
Like thee, I once have stemm'd the sea of life;
Like thee, have languish'd after empty joys;
Like thee, have labour'd in the stormy strife;
Been griev'd for trifles, and amus'd with toys.
Yet, for awhile, 'gainst Passion's threatful blast
Let steady Reason urge the struggling oar;
Shot through the dreary gloom, the morn at last
Gives to thy longing eye the blissful shore.
Forget my frailties, thou art also frail;
Forgive my lapses, for thyself may'st fall;
Nor read, unmov'd, my artless tender tale,
I was a friend, O man! to thee, to all.

[Pg 156]



——"Si quis tamen hæc quoque, si quis
Captus amore leget."                       Virgil.
"O thou! whose bosom inspiration fires!
For whom the Muses string their favourite lyres!
Though with superior genius blest, yet deign
A kind reception to my humbler strain.
"When florid youth impell'd, and fortune smil'd,
The Vocal Art my languid hours beguil'd.
Severer studies now my life engage,
Researches dull, that quench poetic rage.
"From morn to evening destin'd to explore
The verbal critic, and the scholiast's lore,
Alas! what beam of heavenly ardor shines
In musty lexicons and school-divines!
"Yet to the darling object of my heart
A short but pleasing retrospect I dart;
Revolve the labours of the tuneful choir,
And what I cannot imitate admire.
"O could my thoughts with all thy spirit glow,
As thine melodious could my accents flow;
Then thou approving might'st my song attend,
Nor in a Blacklock blush to own a friend."

[Pg 157]



Monstro quod ipse tibi possis dare; semita certe
Tranquillæ per virtutem patet unica vitæ.
Juvenal, Sat. x.
Hail to the Poet! whose spontaneous lays
No pride restrains, nor venal flattery sways.
Who nor from Critics, nor from Fashion's laws,
Learns to adjust his tribute of applause;
But bold to feel, and ardent to impart
What nature whispers to the generous heart,
Propitious to the Moral Song, commends,
For Virtue's sake, the humblest of her friends.
Peace to the grumblers of an envious age,
Vapid in spleen, or brisk in frothy rage!
Critics, who, ere they understand, defame;
And friends demure, who only do not blame;
And puppet-prattlers, whose unconscious throat
Transmits what the pert witling prompts by rote.
Pleas'd to their spite or scorn I yield the lays
That boast the sanction of a Blacklock's praise.
Let others court the blind and babbling crowd:
Mine be the favour of the Wise and Good.
O Thou, to censure, as to guile unknown!
[Pg 158] Indulgent to all merit but thy own!
Whose soul, though darkness wrap thine earthly frame,
Exults in Virtue's pure ethereal flame;
Whose thoughts, congenial with the strains on high,
The Muse adorns, but cannot dignify;
As northern lights, in glittering legions driven,
Embellish, not exalt, the starry Heaven:
Say Thou, for well thou know'st the art divine
To guide the fancy, and the soul refine,
What heights of excellence must he ascend,
Who longs to claim a Blacklock for his friend;
Who longs to emulate thy tuneful art;
But more thy meek simplicity of heart;
But more thy virtue patient, undismay'd,
At once though malice and mischance invade;
And, nor by learn'd nor priestly pride confin'd,
Thy zeal for truth, and love of human kind.
Like thee, with sweet ineffable control,
Teach me to rouse or soothe th' impassion'd soul,
And breathe the luxury of social woes;
Ah! ill-exchanged for all that mirth bestows.
Ye slaves of mirth, renounce your boasted plan,
For know, 'tis Sympathy exalts the man.
But, midst the festive bower, or echoing hall,
Can Riot listen to soft Pity's call?
Rude he repels the soul-ennobling guest,
And yields to selfish joy his harden'd breast.
Teach me thine artless harmony of song,
Sweet, as the vernal warblings borne along[Pg 159]
Arcadia's myrtle groves; ere art began,
With critic glance malevolent, to scan
Bold nature's generous charms, display'd profuse
In each warm cheek, and each enraptur'd muse.
Then had not Fraud impos'd, in Fashion's name,
For freedom lifeless form, and pride for shame;
And, for th' o'erflowings of a heart sincere,
The feature fix'd, untarnish'd with a tear;
The cautious, slow, and unenliven'd eye,
And breast inur'd to check the tender sigh.
Then love, unblam'd, indulg'd the guiltless smile;
Deceit they fear'd not, for they knew not guile.
The social sense unaw'd, that scorn'd to own
The curb of law, save nature's law alone,
To godlike aims, and godlike actions fir'd;
And the full energy of thought inspir'd;
And the full dignity of pleasure, given
T' exalt desire, and yield a taste of heaven.
Hail, redolent of heaven, delights sublime!
Hail, blooming days, the days of nature's prime!
How throbs the tir'd and harass'd heart, to prove
Your scenes of pure tranquillity and love!
But even to fancy fate that bliss denies;
For lo, in endless night the vision dies!
Ah, how unlike these scenes of rage and strife,
Darkening to horror the bleak waste of life!
Where, all inverted nature's kindly plan,
Man domineers, the scourge and curse of man.
Where, haply, bosom'd in tempestuous floods,
Or dark untrodden maze of boundless woods,[Pg 160]
If yet some land inviolate remain,
Nor dread th' oppressor's rod, nor tyrant's chain;
Nor dread the more inglorious fetters, wrought
By hireling sophistry t' enslave the thought:
'Tis there, 'tis only there, where boastful fame
Ne'er stunn'd the tingling ear with Europe's name.
Too long, O Europe, have thy oceans roll'd,
To glut thy lust of power, and lust of gold;
Too long, by glory's empty lure decoy'd,
Thy haughty sons have triumph'd and destroy'd:
Or led by reasoning pride afar to roam,
Where truth's false mimic haunts the sheltering gloom,
Have plunged in cheerless night the wilder'd mind,
Th' abodes of peace for ever left behind.
Unwise, unblest, your own, and nature's foes;
O yet be still, and give the world repose!
Say, is it fame to dare the deed of death?
Is glory nought but flattery's purchas'd breath?
True praise, can trembling slaves, can fools bestow?
Can that be joy, which works another's woe?
Can that be knowledge, which in doubt decays?
Can truth reside in disappointment's maze?——
But quench thy kindling zeal, presumptuous strain;
Thy zeal how impotent! thy plaint how vain!
Hope not thy voice can tame the tempest's rage,
Or check in prone career a headlong age.
Far different themes must animate their song,
Who pant to shine the favourites of a throng.
Go, thou fond fool, thou slave to Nature's charms,[Pg 161]
Whose heart the cause of injur'd Truth alarms;
Go, herd in Fashion's sleek and simpering train;
And watch the workings of her pregnant brain,
Prepar'd a sycophant's applause to pay,
As each abortive monster crawls to day.
Smit with the painted puppetshow of state,
Go learn to gaze, and wonder at the great.
Go learn with courtly reverence to admire
A taste in toys, a genius in attire,
Music of titles, dignity of show,
The parrot-courtier, and the monkey-beau;
And all the equipage of sticks, and strings,
And clouts, and nicknames—merchandise of kings.
Or, to amuse the loitering hour of peace,
When slander, wit, and spleen from troubling cease,
Warble th' unmeaning hymn in Folly's ear;
Such hymns unthinking Folly loves to hear.
Smooth flow thy lays, infusing as they roll
A deep oblivious lethargy of soul:
Let rill and gale glide liquidly along,
While not one ruffling thought obstructs the song;
So shall the gallant and the gay rehearse
The gentle strain, and call it charming verse.
But if an ampler field thine ardour claim,
Even realms and empires to resound thy name;
Strive not on Fancy's soaring wing to rise;
The plodding rabble gaze not on the skies;
Far humbler regions bound their grovelling view,
And humbler tracts their minion must pursue.[Pg 162]
There are, who, grabbling in the putrid lake,
The glittering ore from filth and darkness rake;
Like spoils from Politics thou may'st derive:
The theme is dirty, dark, and lucrative.
Yet ah! even here the spoils are hard to win,
For strong and subtle are thy foes within.
The pangs of sentiment, the qualms of taste,
And shame, dire inmate of the Scribbler's breast,
The stings of conscience, and the throbs of pride,
(Hard task) must all be vanquish'd or defy'd.
Then go, whate'er thy wit, whate'er thy style,
Defame the good, and deify the vile;
Fearless and frontless flounce into renown,
For mobs and prudes by impudence are won.
Though Providence, still merciful and just,
Who dooms the snake to wallow in the dust,
Oft curb with grovelling impotence of mind
The venal venom of the rancorous kind;
Yet fear not; Faction's torch of sulphurous gleam
Shall fire the heart that feels not Fancy's beam.
Thus ... arose distinguish'd in the throng,
Thus Bufo plied a profitable song.
Proceed, Great Years, with steady glare to shine
Where guilt and folly bend at Fashion's shrine;
And ye, the vain and shameless of our days,
Approach with songs, and worship in the blaze.
For him, alas! who never learn'd the art
To stifle conscience, and a throbbing heart;
Who, though too proud to mingle in the fray
Whence truth and virtue bear no palms away,[Pg 163]
Yet views with pity Folly's bustling scene,
Th' ambitious sick with hope, the rich with spleen,
The great exulting in a joyless prize,
Yea pities even the fop he must despise;——
For him what then remains?—The humble shed,
Th' ennobling converse of the awful Dead,
Beauty's pure ray diffus'd from Nature's face,
Fancy's sweet charm, and Truth's majestic grace.
Truth, not of hard access, or threatening mien,
As by the vain unfeeling wrangler seen;
But bland and gentle as the early ray,
That gilds the wilderness, and lights the way;
The messenger of joy to man below,
Friend of our frailty, solace of our woe.
Thus by Heaven's bounty rich shall he repine,
If others in the toys of Fortune shine?
Needs he a title to exalt his race,
Who from th' Eternal his descent can trace?
Or fame's loud trump to stun him to repose,
Whose soul resign'd no guilty tumult knows?
To roam with toil, in restless uproar hurl'd,
One little corner of a little world;
Can this enlarge or dignify the soul,
Whose wing unwearied darts from pole to pole?
Can glowworms glitter on the car of morn,
Or gold the progeny of heaven adorn?
How long, enamour'd of fictitious joy,
Shall false desire the lavish'd hour employ!
How long with random steps shall mortals roam,
Unknown their path, and more unknown their home![Pg 164]
Ah! still delusive the vain pleasure flies,
Or, grasp'd, insults our baffled hope, and dies.
Meanwhile behind, with renovated force,
Care and disgust pursue our slackening course,
And shall o'ertake; even in the noon of age,
Long ere the sting of Anguish cease to rage,
And long ere Death, sole friend of the distrest,
Dismiss the pilgrim to eternal rest.
Thus, wayward hope still wandering from within,
Lur'd by the phantoms of th' external scene;
We scorn, what heaven our only bliss design'd
The humble triumph of a tranquil mind;
And that alone pursue which Fortune brings,
Th' applause of multitudes, or smile of kings.
But ah! can these, or those afford delight?
Can man be happy in his Maker's spite?
Vain thankless man, averse to Nature's sway,
Feels every moment that he must obey.
Close and more closely clasp the stubborn chains,
And each new struggle rouses keener pains.
Thus stung with appetite, with anguish torn,
Urged by despair still more and more forlorn,
Till each fantastic hope expire in woe,
And the cold cheerless heart forget to glow,
We perish, muttering this unrighteous strain,
"Joy was not made for man, and life is vain."
Sweet peace of heart, from false desire refin'd,
That pour'st elysian sunshine on the mind,
O come, bid each tumultuous wish be still,
And bend to nature's law each froward will.[Pg 165]
Let Hope's wild wing ne'er stoop to Fortune's sphere;
For terror, anguish, discontent are there;
But soar with strong and steady flight sublime,
Where disappointment never dar'd to climb.
O come, serenely gay, and with thee bring
The vital breath of heaven's eternal spring;
Th' amusive dream of blameless fancy born,
The calm oblivious night, and sprightly morn.
Bring Resignation, undebas'd with fear;
And Melancholy, serious, not severe;
And Fortitude, by chance nor time controll'd,
Meek with the gentle, with the haughty bold;
Devotion deck'd in smiles of filial love;
And Thought, conversing with the worlds above.
So shall my days nor vain nor joyless roll,
Nor with regret survey th' approaching goal;
Too happy, if I gain that noblest prize,
The well-earn'd favour of the Good and Wise.

[Pg 166]



Why, lady, wilt thou bind thy lovely brow
With the dread semblance of that warlike helm,
That nodding plume, and wreath of various glow,
That grac'd the chiefs of Scotia's ancient realm?
Thou know'st that Virtue is of power the source,
And all her magic to thy eyes is given;
We own their empire, while we feel their force,
Beaming with the benignity of heaven.
The plumy helmet, and the martial mien,
Might dignify Minerva's awful charms;
But more resistless far th' Idalian queen—
Smiles, graces, gentleness, her only arms,

[Pg 167]



Παρὰ τὴν σκίην, βάϑυλλε,
Κάϑισον · ——
Bathyllus, in yonder lone grove
All carelessly let us recline:
To shade us the branches above
Their leaf-waving tendrils combine;
While a streamlet inviting repose
Soft murmuring wanders away,
And gales warble wild through the boughs:
Who there would not pass the sweet day?


Æneadum Genetrix——v. 1-45.
Mother of mighty Rome's imperial line,
Delight of man, and of the powers divine,
Venus all bounteous queen! whose genial power
Diffuses beauty in unbounded store[Pg 168]
Through seas, and fertile plains, and all that lies
Beneath the starr'd expansion of the skies.
Prepar'd by thee, the embryo springs to day,
And opes its eyelids on the golden ray.
At thy approach the clouds tumultuous fly,
And the hush'd storms in gentle breezes die;
Flowers instantaneous spring; the billows sleep;
A wavy radiance smiles along the deep;
At thy approach, th' untroubled sky refines,
And all serene Heaven's lofty concave shines.
Soon as her blooming form the Spring reveals,
And Zephyr breathes his warm prolific gales,
The feather'd tribes first catch the genial flame,
And to the groves thy glad return proclaim.
Thence to the beasts the soft infection spreads;
The raging cattle spurn the grassy meads,
Burst o'er the plains, and frantic in their course
Cleave the wild torrents with resistless force.
Won by thy charms thy dictates all obey,
And eager follow where thou lead'st the way.
Whatever haunts the mountains, or the main,
The rapid river, or the verdant plain,
Or forms its leafy mansion in the shades,
All, all thy universal power pervades,
Each panting bosom melts to soft desires,
And with the love of propagation fires.
And since thy sovereign influence guides the reins
Of nature, and the universe sustains;
Since nought without thee bursts the bonds of night,
To hail the happy realms of heavenly light;[Pg 169]
Since love, and joy, and harmony are thine,
Guide me, O goddess, by thy power divine,
And to my rising lays thy succour bring,
While I the universe attempt to sing.
O, may my verse deserv'd applause obtain
Of him, for whom I try the daring strain,
My Memmius, him, whom thou profusely kind
Adorn'st with every excellence refin'd.
And that immortal charms my song may grace,
Let war, with all its cruel labours, cease;
O hush the dismal din of arms once more,
And calm the jarring world from shore to shore.
By thee alone the race of man foregoes
The rage of blood, and sinks in soft repose:
For mighty Mars, the dreadful god of arms,
Who wakes or stills the battle's dire alarms,
In love's strong fetters by thy charms is bound,
And languishes with an eternal wound.
Oft from his bloody toil the god retires
To quench in thy embrace his fierce desires,
Soft on thy heaving bosom he reclines
And round thy yielding neck transported twines;
There fix'd in ecstasy intense surveys
Thy kindling beauties with insatiate gaze,
Grows to thy balmy mouth, and ardent sips
Celestial sweets from thy ambrosial lips.
O, while the god with fiercest raptures blest
Lies all dissolving on thy sacred breast,
O breathe thy melting whispers to his ear,
And bid him still the loud alarms of war.[Pg 170]
In these tumultuous days, the Muse, in vain,
Her steady tenour lost, pursues the strain,
And Memmius' generous soul disdains to taste
The calm delights of philosophic rest;
Paternal fires his beating breast inflame
To rescue Rome, and vindicate her name.


Rectins vives, Licini——
Wouldst thou through life securely glide;
Nor boundless o'er the ocean ride;
Nor ply too near th' insidious shore,
Scar'd at the tempest's threat'ning roar.
The man, who follows Wisdom's voice,
And makes the golden mean his choice,
Nor plung'd in antique gloomy cells
Midst hoary desolation dwells;
Nor to allure the envious eye
Rears his proud palace to the sky.
The pine, that all the grove transcends,
With every blast the tempest rends;
Totters the tower with thund'rous sound,
And spreads a mighty ruin round;
Jove's bolt with desolating blow
Strikes the ethereal mountain's brow.[Pg 171]
The man, whose steadfast soul can bear
Fortune indulgent or severe,
Hopes when she frowns, and when she smiles
With cautious fear eludes her wiles.
Jove with rude winter wastes the plain,
Jove decks the rosy spring again.
Life's former ills are overpast,
Nor will the present always last.
Now Phœbus wings his shafts, and now
He lays aside th' unbended bow,
Strikes into life the trembling string,
And wakes the silent Muse to sing.
With unabating courage, brave
Adversity's tumultuous wave;
When too propitious breezes rise,
And the light vessel swiftly flies,
With timid caution catch the gale,
And shorten the distended sail.


O Fons Blandusiæ——
Blandusia! more than crystal clear!
Whose soothing murmurs charm the ear!
Whose margin soft with flowerets crown'd
Invites the festive band around,
Their careless limbs diffus'd supine,
To quaff the soul-enlivening wine.[Pg 172]
To thee a tender kid I vow,
That aims for fight his budding brow;
In thought, the wrathful combat proves,
Or wantons with his little loves:
But vain are all his purpos'd schemes,
Delusive all his flattering dreams,
To-morrow shall his fervent blood
Stain the pure silver of thy flood.
When fiery Sirius blasts the plain,
Untouch'd thy gelid streams remain.
To thee the fainting flocks repair,
To taste thy cool reviving air;
To thee the ox with toil opprest,
And lays his languid limbs to rest.
As springs of old renown'd, thy name,
Blest fountain! I devote to fame;
Thus while I sing in deathless lays
The verdant holm, whose waving sprays,
Thy sweet retirement to defend,
High o'er the moss-grown rock impend,
Whence prattling in loquacious play
Thy sprightly waters leap away.

[Pg 173]


Non ita certandi cupidus, quam propter amorem
Quod te imitari aveo——                 Lucret. lib. iii.



Where the broad beech an ample shade displays,
Your slender reed resounds the sylvan lays,
O happy Tityrus! while we, forlorn,
Driven from our lands, to distant climes are borne,
Stretch'd careless in the peaceful shade you sing,
And all the groves with Amaryllis ring.
[Pg 174] TITYRUS.
This peace to a propitious God I owe;
None else, my friend, such blessings could bestow.
Him will I celebrate with rites divine,
And frequent lambs shall stain his sacred shrine.
By him, these feeding herds in safety stray;
By him, in peace I pipe the rural lay.
I envy not, but wonder at your fate,
That no alarms invade this blest retreat;
While neighbouring fields the voice of woe resound,
And desolation rages all around.
Worn with fatigue I slowly onward bend,
And scarce my feeble fainting goats attend.[Pg 175]
My hand this sickly dam can hardly bear,
Whose young new-yean'd (ah once an hopeful pair!)
Amid the tangling hazels as they lay,
On the sharp flint were left to pine away.
These ills I had foreseen, but that my mind
To all portents and prodigies was blind.
Oft have the blasted oaks foretold my woe;
And often has the inauspicious crow,
Perch'd on the wither'd holm, with fateful cries
Scream'd in my ear her dismal prophecies.
But say, O Tityrus, what god bestows
This blissful life of undisturb'd repose?
Imperial Rome, while yet to me unknown,
I vainly liken'd to our country-town,
Our little Mantua, at which is sold
The yearly offspring of our fruitful fold:
As in the whelp the father's shape appears,
And as the kid its mother's semblance bears.
Thus greater things my inexperienc'd mind
Rated by others of inferior kind.
But she, midst other cities, rears her head
High, as the cypress overtops the reed.
And why to visit Rome was you inclin'd?
'Twas there I hoped my liberty to find.
And there my liberty I found at last,[Pg 176]
Though long with listless indolence opprest;
Yet not till Time had silver'd o'er my hairs,
And I had told a tedious length of years;
Nor till the gentle Amaryllis charm'd,[2]
And Galatea's love no longer warm'd.
For (to my friend I will confess the whole)
While Galatea captive held my soul,
Languid and lifeless all I dragg'd the chain,
Neglected liberty, neglected gain.
Though from my fold the frequent victim bled,
Though my fat cheese th' ungrateful city fed,
For this I ne'er perceiv'd my wealth increase:
I lavish'd all her haughty heart to please.
Why Amaryllis pin'd, and pass'd away,
In lonely shades the melancholy day;
Why to the gods she breath'd incessant vows;
For whom her mellow apples press'd the boughs
So late, I wonder'd—Tityrus was gone,
And she (ah luckless maid!) was left alone.
Your absence every warbling fountain mourn'd,
And woods and wilds the wailing strains return'd.
What could I do? to break th' enslaving chain
All other efforts had (alas!) been vain;[Pg 177]
Nor durst my hopes presume, but there, to find
The gods so condescending and so kind.
'Twas there these eyes the Heaven-born youth beheld,[3]
To whom our altars monthly incense yield:
My suit he even prevented, while he spoke,
"Manure your ancient farm, and feed your former flock."
Happy old man! then shall your lands remain,
Extent sufficient for th' industrious swain!
Though bleak and bare yon ridgy rocks arise,
And lost in lakes the neighbouring pasture lies.
Your herds on wonted grounds shall safely range,
And never feel the dire effects of change.
No foreign flock shall spread infecting bane
To hurt your pregnant dams, thrice happy swain!
You by known streams and sacred fountains laid
Shall taste the coolness of the fragrant shade.
Beneath yon fence, where willow-boughs unite,
And to their flowers the swarming bees invite,
Oft shall the lulling hum persuade to rest,
And balmy slumbers steal into your breast;
While warbled from this rock the pruner's lay
In deep repose dissolves your soul away;
High on yon elm the turtle wails alone,
And your lov'd ringdoves breathe a hoarser moan.
[Pg 178] TITYRUS.
The nimble harts shall graze in empty air,
And seas retreating leave their fishes bare,
The German dwell where rapid Tigris flows,
The Parthian banish'd by invading foes
Shall drink the Gallic Arar, from my breast
Ere his majestic image be effac'd.
But we must travel o'er a length of lands,
O'er Scythian snows, or Afric's burning sands;
Some wander where remote Oäxes laves
The Cretan meadows with his rapid waves:
In Britain some, from every comfort torn,
From all the world remov'd, are doom'd to mourn.
When long long years have tedious roll'd away,
Ah! shall I yet at last, at last, survey
My dear paternal lands, and dear abode,
Where once I reign'd in walls of humble sod!
These lands, these harvests must the soldier share!
For rude barbarians lavish we our care!
How are our fields become the spoil of wars!
How are we ruin'd by intestine jars!
Now, Melibœus, now ingraff the pear,
Now teach the vine its tender sprays to rear!—
Go, then, my goats!—go, once an happy store!
Once happy!—happy now (alas!) no more!
No more shall I, beneath the bowery shade
In rural quiet indolently laid,[Pg 179]
Behold you from afar the cliffs ascend,
And from the shrubby precipice depend;
No more to music wake my melting flute,
While on the thyme you feed, and willow's wholesome shoot.
This night at least with me you may repose
On the green foliage, and forget your woes.
Apples and nuts mature our boughs afford,
And curdled milk in plenty crowns my board.
Now from yon hamlets clouds of smoke arise,
And slowly roll along the evening skies;
And see projected from the mountain's brow
A lengthen'd shade obscures the plain below.

[1] It has been observed by some critics, who have treated of pastoral poetry, that, in every poem of this kind, it is proper, that the scene or landscape, connected with the little plot or fable on which the poem is founded, be delineated with at least as much accuracy, as is sufficient to render the description particular and picturesque. How far Virgil has thought fit to attend to such a rule may appear from the remarks which the translator has subjoined to every Pastoral.

The scene of the first pastoral is pictured out with great accuracy. The shepherds Melibœus and Tityrus are represented as conversing together beneath a spreading beech tree. Flocks and herds are feeding hard by. At a little distance we behold, on the one hand a great rock, and on the other a fence of flowering willows. The prospect as it widens is diversified with groves, and streams, and some tall trees, particularly elms. Beyond all these appear marshy grounds, and rocky hills. The ragged and drooping flock of the unfortunate shepherd, particularly the she goat which he leads along, are no inconsiderable figures in this picture.—The time is the evening of a summer day, a little before sunset. See the Original, v. 1, 5, 9, 52, 54, 67, 69, 81, &c.

This Pastoral is said to have been written on the following occasion. Augustus, in order to reward the services of his veterans, by means of whom he had established himself in the Roman empire, distributed among them the lands that lay contiguous to Mantua and Cremona. To make way for these intruders, the rightful owners, of whom Virgil was one, were turned out. But our poet, by the intercession of Mecænas, was reinstated in his possessions. Melibœus here personates one of the unhappy exiles, and Virgil is represented under the character of Tityrus.

[2] The refinements of Taubmannus, De La Cerda, and others, who will have Amaryllis to signify Rome, and Galatea to signify Mantua, have perplexed this passage not a little: if the literal meaning be admitted, the whole becomes obvious and natural.

[3] Augustus Cæsar.



Young Corydon for fair Alexis pin'd,
But hope ne'er gladden'd his desponding mind;
Nor vows nor tears the scornful boy could move,
Distinguish'd by his wealthier master's love.[Pg 180]
Oft to the beech's deep embowering shade
Pensive and sad this hapless shepherd stray'd;
There told in artless verse his tender pain
To echoing hills and groves, but all in vain.
In vain the flute's complaining lays I try;
But am I doom'd, unpitying boy, to die?
Now to faint flocks the grove a shade supplies,
And in the thorny brake the lizard lies;
Now Thestylis with herbs of savoury taste
Prepares the weary harvest-man's repast;
And all is still, save where the buzzing sound
Of chirping grasshoppers is heard around;
While I expos'd to all the rage of heat
Wander the wilds in search of thy retreat.
[Pg 181] Was it not easier to support the pain
I felt from Amaryllis' fierce disdain?
Easier Menalcas' cold neglect to bear,
Black though he was, though thou art blooming fair?
Yet be relenting, nor too much presume,
O beauteous boy, on thy celestial bloom;
The sable violet[2] yields a precious dye,
While useless on the field the withering lilies lie.
Ah, cruel boy! my love is all in vain,
No thoughts of thine regard thy wretched swain.
How rich my flock thou carest not to know,
Nor how my pails with generous milk o'erflow.
With bleat of thousand lambs my hills resound,
And all the year my milky stores abound.
Not Amphion's lays were sweeter than my song,
Those lays that led the listening herds along.
And if the face be true I lately view'd,
Where calm and clear th' uncurling ocean stood,
I lack not beauty, nor could'st thou deny,
That even with Daphnis I may dare to vie.
O deign at last amid these lonely fields
To taste the pleasures which the country yields;
With me to dwell in cottages resign'd,
To roam the woods, to shoot the bounding hind;
With me the weanling kids from home to guide
To the green mallows on the mountain side;
[Pg 182]With me in echoing groves the song to raise,
And emulate even Pan's celestial lays.
Pan taught the jointed reed its tuneful strain,
Pan guards the tender flock, and shepherd swain.
Nor grudge, Alexis, that the rural pipe
So oft has stain'd the roses of thy lip:
How did Amyntas strive thy skill to gain!
How grieve at last to find his labour vain!
Of seven unequal reeds a pipe I have,
The precious gift which good Damœtas gave;
"Take this," the dying shepherd said, "for none
Inherits all my skill but thou alone."
He said; Amyntas murmurs at my praise,
And with an envious eye the gift surveys.
Besides, as presents for my soul's delight,
Two beauteous kids I keep bestreak'd with white,
Nourish'd with care, nor purchas'd without pain;
An ewe's full udder twice a day they drain.
These to obtain oft Thestylis hath tried
Each winning art, while I her suit denied;
But I at last shall yield what she requests,
Since thy relentless pride my gifts detests.
Come, beauteous boy, and bless my rural bowers,
For thee the nymphs collect the choicest flowers;
Fair Nais culls amid the bloomy dale
The drooping poppy, and the violet pale,
To marygolds the hyacinth applies,
Shading the glossy with the tawny dyes:
Narcissus' flower with daffodil entwin'd,
And cassia's breathing sweets to these are join'd.
[Pg 183]With every bloom that paints the vernal grove,
And all to form a garland for my love.
Myself with sweetest fruits will crown thy feast;
The luscious peach shall gratify thy taste,
And, chestnut brown (once high in my regard,
For Amaryllis this to all preferr'd;
But if the blushing plum thy choice thou make,
The plum shall more be valued for thy sake.)
The myrtle wreath'd with laurel shall exhale
A blended fragrance to delight thy smell.
Ah Corydon! thou rustic, simple swain!
Thyself, thy prayers, thy offers all are vain.
How few, compar'd with rich Iolas' store,
Thy boasted gifts, and all thy wealth how poor!
Wretch that I am! while thus I pine forlorn,
And all the livelong day inactive mourn,
The boars have laid my silver fountains waste,
My flowers are fading in the southern blast.—
Fly'st thou, ah foolish boy, the lonesome grove?
Yet gods for this have left the realms above.
Paris with scorn the pomp of Troy survey'd,
And sought th' Idæan bowers and peaceful shade,
In her proud palaces let Pallas shine;
The lowly woods, and rural life be mine.
The lioness all dreadful in her course
Pursues the wolf, and he with headlong force
Flies at the wanton goat, that loves to climb
The cliff's steep side, and crop the flowering thyme;
Thee Corydon pursues, O beauteous boy:
Thus each is drawn along by some peculiar joy.
[Pg 184] Now evening soft comes on; and homeward now
From field the weary oxen bear the plough.
The setting Sun now beams more mildly bright,
The shadows lengthening with the level light.
While with love's flame my restless bosom glows.
For love no interval of ease allows.
Ah Corydon! to weak complaints a prey!
What madness thus to waste the fleeting day!
Be rous'd at length; thy half-prun'd vines demand
The needful culture of thy curbing hand.
Haste, lingering swain, the flexile willows weave,
And with thy wonted care thy wants relieve.
Forget Alexis' unrelenting scorn,
Another love thy passion will return.

[1] The chief excellency of this poem consists in its delicacy and simplicity. Corydon addresses his favourite in such a purity of sentiment as one would think might effectually discountenance the prepossessions which generally prevail against the subject of this eclogue. The nature of his affection may easily be ascertained from his ideas of the happiness which he hopes to enjoy in the company of his beloved Alexis.

O tantum libeat libeat———
O deign at last amid these lonely fields, &c.

It appears to have been no other than that friendship, which was encouraged by the wisest legislators of ancient Greece, as a noble incentive to virtue, and recommended by the example even of Agesilaus, Pericles, and Socrates: an affection wholly distinct from the infamous attachments that prevailed among the licentious. The reader will find a full and satisfying account of this generous passion in Dr. Potter's Antiquities of Greece, B. iv. chap. 9. Mons. Bayle, in his Dictionary at the article Virgile, has at great length vindicated our poet from the charge of immorality which the critics have grounded upon this pastoral.

The scene of this pastoral is a grove interspersed with beech-trees; the season, harvest.

[2] Vaccinium (here translated violet) yielded a purple colour used in dying the garments of slaves, according to Plin. 1. xvi. c. 28.



To whom belongs this flock, Damœtas, pray:
To Melibœus?
No; the other day
The shepherd Ægon gave it me to keep.[Pg 185]
Ah still neglected, still unhappy sheep![2]
He plies Neæra with assiduous love,
And fears lest she my happier flame approve;
Meanwhile this hireling wretch (disgrace to swains!)
Defrauds his master, and purloins his gains,
Milks twice an hour, and drains the famish'd dams,
Whose empty dugs in vain attract the lambs.
Forbear on men such language to bestow.
Thee, stain of manhood! thee full well I know.
I know, with whom—and where—[3] (their grove defil'd
The nymphs reveng'd not, but indulgent smil'd)
And how the goats beheld, then browsing near,
The shameful sight with a lascivious leer.
No doubt, when Mycon's tender trees I broke,
And gash'd his young vines with a blunted hook.[Pg 186]
Or when conceal'd behind this ancient row
Of beech, you broke young Daphnis' shafts and bow,
With sharpest pangs of rancorous anguish stung
To see the gift conferr'd on one so young;
And had you not thus wreak'd your sordid spite,
Of very envy you had died outright.
Gods! what may masters dare, when such a pitch
Of impudence their thievish hirelings reach:
Did I not, wretch (deny it if you dare),
Did I not see you Damon's goat ensnare?
Lycisca bark'd; then I the felon spy'd,
And "Whither slinks yon sneaking thief?" I cried.
The thief discover'd straight his prey forsook,
And skulk'd amid the sedges of the brook.
That goat my pipe from Damon fairly gain'd;
A match was set, and I the prize obtain'd.
He own'd it due to my superior skill,
And yet refus'd his bargain to fulfil.
By your superior skill—the goat was won!
Have you a jointed pipe, indecent clown![Pg 187]
Whose whizzing straws with harshest discord jarr'd,
As in the streets your wretched rhymes you marr'd.
Boasts are but vain. I'm ready, when you will,
To make a solemn trial of our skill.
I stake this heifer, no ignoble prize;
Two calves from her full udder she supplies,
And twice a day her milk the pail o'erflows;
What pledge of equal worth will you expose?
Ought from the flock I dare not risk; I fear
A cruel stepdame, and a sire severe,
Who of their store so strict a reckoning keep,
That twice a day they count the kids and sheep.
But, since you purpose to be mad to-day,
Two beechen cups I scruple not to lay,
(Whose far superior worth yourself will own)
The labour'd work of fam'd Alcimedon.
Rais'd round the brims by the engraver's care
The flaunting vine unfolds its foliage fair;
Entwin'd the ivy's tendrils seem to grow,
Half-hid in leaves its mimic berries glow;
Two figures rise below, of curious frame,
Conon, and—what's that other sage's name,
Who with his rod describ'd the world's vast round,
Taught when to reap, and when to till the ground?
At home I have reserv'd them unprofan'd,
No lip has e'er their glossy polish stain'd.[Pg 188]
Two cups for me that skilful artist made;
Their handles with acanthus are array'd;
Orpheus is in the midst, whose magic song
Leads in tumultuous dance the lofty groves along.
At home I have reserv'd them unprofan'd,
No lip has e'er their glossy polish stain'd.
But my pledg'd heifer if aright you prize,
The cups so much extoll'd you will despise.
These arts, proud boaster, all are lost on me;
To any terms I readily agree.
You shall not boast your victory to-day,
Let him be judge who passes first this way:
And see the good Palæmon! trust me, swain,
You'll be more cautious how you brag again.
Delays I brook not; if you dare, proceed;
At singing no antagonist I dread.
Palæmon, listen to th' important songs,
To such debates attention strict belongs.
Sing, then. A couch the flowery herbage yields;
Now blossom all the trees, and all the fields;
And all the woods their pomp of foliage wear,
And Nature's fairest robe adorns the blooming year.[Pg 189]
Damœtas first th' alternate lay shall raise:
Th' inspiring Muses love alternate lays.
Jove first I sing; ye Muses, aid my lay;
All Nature owns his energy and sway;
The Earth and Heavens his sovereign bounty share,
And to my verses he vouchsafes his care.
With great Apollo I begin the strain,
For I am great Apollo's favourite swain:
For him the purple hyacinth I wear,
And sacred bay to Phœbus ever dear.
The sprightly Galatea at my head
An apple flung, and to the willows fled;
But as along the level lawn she flew,
The wanton wish'd not to escape my view.
I languish'd long for fair Amyntas' charms,
But now he comes unbidden to my arms,
And with my dogs is so familiar grown,
That my own Delia is no better known.
I lately mark'd where midst the verdant shade
Two parent-doves had built their leafy bed;
I from the nest the young will shortly take,
And to my love an handsome present make.[Pg 190]
Ten ruddy wildings, from a lofty bough,
That through the green leaves beam'd with yellow glow
I brought away, and to Amyntas bore;
To-morrow I shall send as many more.
Ah the keen raptures! when my yielding fair
Breath'd her kind whispers to my ravish'd ear!
Waft, gentle gales, her accents to the skies,
That gods themselves may hear with sweet surprise.
What though I am not wretched by your scorn?
Say, beauteous boy, say can I cease to mourn,
If, while I hold the nets, the boar you face,
And rashly brave the dangers of the chase.
Send Phyllis home, Iolas, for to-day
I celebrate my birth, and all is gay;
When for my crop the victim I prepare,
Iolas in our festival may share.
Phyllis I love; she more than all can charm,
And mutual fires her gentle bosom warm:
Tears, when I leave her, bathe her beauteous eyes,
"A long, a long adieu, my love!" she cries.[Pg 191]
The wolf is dreadful to the woolly train,
Fatal to harvests is the crushing rain,
To the green woods the winds destructive prove,
To me the rage of mine offended love.
The willow's grateful to the pregnant ewes,
Showers to the corns, to kids the mountain-brows;
More grateful far to me my lovely boy,
In sweet Amyntas centres all my joy.
Even Pollio deigns to hear my rural lays;
And cheers the bashful Muse with generous praise;
Ye sacred Nine, for your great patron feed
A beauteous heifer of the noblest breed.
Pollio, the art of heavenly song adorns;
Then let a bull be bred with butting horns,
And ample front, that bellowing spurns the ground,
Tears up the turf, and throws the sands around.
Him whom my Pollio loves may nought annoy.
May he like Pollio every wish enjoy.
O may his happy lands with honey flow,
And on his thorns Assyrian roses blow![Pg 192]
Who hates not foolish Bavius, let him love
Thee, Mævius, and thy tasteless rhymes approve!
Nor needs it thy admirer's reason shock
To milk the he-goats, and the foxes yoke.
Ye boys, on garlands who employ your care,
And pull the creeping strawberries, beware,
Fly for your lives, and leave that fatal place,
A deadly snake lies lurking in the grass.
Forbear, my flocks, and warily proceed,
Nor on that faithless bank securely tread;
The heedless ram late plung'd amid the pool,
And in the sun now dries his reeking wool.
Ho, Tityrus! lead back the browsing flock,
And let them feed at distance from the brook;
At bathing-time I to the shade will bring
My goats, and wash them in the cooling spring.
Haste, from the sultry lawn the flocks remove
To the cool shelter of the shady grove;
When burning noon the curdling udder dries,
Th' ungrateful teats in vain the shepherd plies.[Pg 193]
How lean my bull in yonder mead appears,
Though the fat soil the richest pasture bears;
Ah Love! thou reign'st supreme in every heart,
Both flocks and shepherds languish with thy dart.
Love has not injur'd my consumptive flocks,
Yet bare their bones, and faded are their looks:
What envious eye hath squinted on my dams,
And sent its poison to my tender lambs!
Say in what distant land the eye descries
But three short ells of all th' expanded skies;
Tell this, and great Apollo be your name;
Your skill is equal, equal be your fame.
Say in what soil a wondrous flower is born,
Whose leaves the sacred names of kings adorn:
Tell this, and take my Phyllis to your arms,
And reign the unrivall'd sovereign of her charms.
'Tis not for me these high disputes to end;
Each to the heifer justly may pretend.[Pg 194]
Such be their fortune, who so well can sing,
From love what painful joys, what pleasing torments spring.
Now, boys, obstruct the course of yonder rill,
The meadows have already drunk their fill.

[1] The contending shepherds, Menalcas and Damœtas, together with their umpire Palæmon, are seated on the grass, not far from a row of beech-trees. Flocks are seen feeding hard by. The time of the day seems to be noon, the season between Spring and Summer.

[2] Throughout the whole of this altercation, notwithstanding the untoward subject, the reader will find in the original such a happy union of simplicity and force of expression and harmony of verse, as it is vain to look for in an English translation.

[3] The abruptness and obscurity of the original is here imitated.



Sicilian Muse, sublimer strains inspire,
And warm my bosom with diviner fire!
All take not pleasure in the rural scene,
In lowly tamarisks, and forests green.
[Pg 195]If sylvan themes we sing, then let our lays
Deserve a consul's ear, a consul's praise.
The age comes on, that future age of gold
In Cuma's mystic prophecies foretold.
The years begin their mighty course again,
The Virgin now returns, and the Saturnian reign.
Now from the lofty mansions of the sky
To Earth descends an heaven-born progeny.
Thy Phœbus reigns, Lucina, lend thine aid,
Nor be his birth, his glorious birth delay'd!
An iron race shall then no longer rage,
But all the world regain the golden age.
This child, the joy of nations, shall be born
Thy consulship, O Pollio, to adorn:
Thy consulship these happy times shall prove,
And see the mighty months begin to move:
Then all our former guilt shall be forgiven,
And man shall dread no more th' avenging doom of Heaven.
The son with heroes and with gods shall shine,
And lead, enroll'd with them, the life divine.
He o'er the peaceful nations shall preside,
And his sire's virtues shall his sceptre guide.
To thee, auspicious babe, th' unbidden earth
Shall bring the earliest of her flowery birth;
Acanthus soft in smiling beauty gay,
The blossom'd bean, and ivy's flaunting spray.
Th' untended goats shall to their homes repair,
And to the milker's hand the loaded udder bear.
The mighty lion shall no more be fear'd,[Pg 196]
But graze innoxious with the friendly herd.
Sprung from thy cradle fragrant flowers shall spread,
And, fanning bland, shall wave around thy head.
Then shall the serpent die, with all his race:
No deadly herb the happy soil disgrace:
Assyrian balm on every bush shall bloom,
And breathe in every gale its rich perfume.
But when thy father's deeds thy youth shall fire,
And to great actions all thy soul inspire,
When thou shalt read of heroes and of kings,
And mark the glory that from virtue springs;
Then boundless o'er the far-extended plain,
Shall wave luxuriant crops of golden grain,
With purple grapes the loaded thorn shall bend,
And streaming honey from the oak descend:
Nor yet old fraud shall wholly be effac'd;
Navies for wealth shall roam the watery waste;
Proud cities fenc'd with towery walls appear,
And cruel shares shall earth's soft bosom tear:
Another Tiphys o'er the swelling tide
With steady skill the bounding ship shall guide:
Another Argo with the flower of Greece
From Colchos' shore shall waft the golden fleece;
Again the world shall hear war's loud alarms,
And great Achilles shine again in arms.
When riper years thy strengthen'd nerves shall brace,
And o'er thy limbs diffuse a manly grace,
The mariner no more shall plough the deep,
Nor load with foreign wares the trading ship,[Pg 197]
Each country shall abound in every store,
Nor need the products of another shore.
Henceforth no plough shall cleave the fertile ground,
No pruning-hook the tender vine shall wound;
The husbandman, with toil no longer broke,
Shall loose his ox for ever from the yoke.
No more the wool a foreign dye shall feign,
But purple flocks shall graze the flowery plain,
Glittering in native gold the ram shall tread,
And scarlet lambs shall wanton on the mead.
In concord join'd with fate's unalter'd law
The Destinies these happy times foresaw,
They bade the sacred spindle swiftly run,
And hasten the auspicious ages on.
O dear to all thy kindred gods above!
O thou, the offspring of eternal Jove!
Receive thy dignities, begin thy reign,
And o'er the world extend thy wide domain.
See nature's mighty frame exulting round
Ocean, and earth, and heaven's immense profound!
See nations yet unborn with joy behold
Thy glad approach, and hail the age of gold!
O would th' immortals lend a length of days,
And give a soul sublime to sound thy praise;
Would Heaven this breast, this labouring breast inflame
With ardour equal to the mighty theme;
Not Orpheus with diviner transports glow'd,
When all her fire his mother-muse bestow'd;[Pg 198]
Nor loftier numbers flow'd from Linus' tongue,
Although his sire Apollo gave the song;
Even Pan, in presence of Arcadian swains
Would vainly strive to emulate my strains.
Repay a parent's care, O beauteous boy,
And greet thy mother with a smile of joy:
For thee, to loathing languors all resign'd,
Ten slow-revolving months thy mother pin'd.
If cruel fate thy parents bliss denies,[2]
If no fond joy sits smiling in thine eyes,
No nymph of heavenly birth shall crown thy love,
Nor shalt thou share th' immortal feasts above.

[1] In this fourth pastoral, no particular landscape is delineated. The whole is a prophetic song of triumph. But as almost all the images and allusions are of the rural kind, it is no less a true bucolic than the others; if we admit the definition of a pastoral, given us by an author of the first rank,[A] who calls it "A poem in which any action or passion is represented by its effects upon country life."

It is of little importance to inquire on what occasion this poem was written. The spirit of prophetic enthusiasm that breathes through it, and the resemblance it bears in many places to the Oriental manner, make it not improbable, that our poet composed it partly from some pieces of ancient prophecy that might have fallen into his hands, and that he afterwards inscribed it to his friend and patron Pollio, on occasion of the birth of his son Salonius.

[A] The author of the Rambler.

[2] This passage has perplexed all the critics. Out of a number of significations that have been offered, the translator has pitched upon one, which he thinks the most agreeable to the scope of the poem and most consistent with the language of the original. The reader, who wants more particulars on this head, may consult Servius, De La Cerda, or Ruæus.



Since you with skill can touch the tuneful reed,
Since few my verses or my voice exceed:
In this refreshing shade shall we recline,
Where hazels with the lofty elms combine?[Pg 199]
Your riper age a due respect requires,
'Tis mine to yield to what my friend desires;
Whether you choose the zephyr's fanning breeze,
That shakes the wavering shadows of the trees;
Or the deep-shaded grotto's cool retreat:—
And see yon cave screen'd from the scorching heat,
Where the wild vine its curling tendrils weaves,
Whose grapes glow ruddy through the quivering leaves.
Of all the swains that to our hills belong,
Amyntas only vies with you in song.
What, though with me that haughty shepherd vie,
Who proudly dares Apollo's self defy?
Begin: let Alcon's praise inspire your strains,[2]
Or Codrus' death, or Phyllis' amorous pains;
Begin, whatever theme your Muse prefer.
To feed the kids be, Tityrus, thy care.
[Pg 200]
I rather will repeat that mournful song,
Which late I carv'd the verdant beech along;
(I carv'd and trill'd by turns the labour'd lay)
And let Amyntas match me if he may.
As slender willows where the olive grows,
Or sordid shrubs when near the scarlet rose,
Such (if the judgment I have form'd be true)
Such is Amyntas when compar'd with you.
No more, Menalcas; we delay too long,
The grot's dim shade invites my promis'd song.
When Daphnis fell by fate's remorseless blow,[3]
The weeping nymphs pour'd wild the plaint of woe;
Witness, O hazel-grove, and winding stream,
For all your echoes caught the mournful theme.
In agony of grief his mother prest
The clay cold carcass to her throbbing breast,
Frantic with anguish wail'd his hapless fate,
Rav'd at the stars, and Heaven's relentless hate.[Pg 201]
'Twas then the swains in deep despair forsook
Their pining flocks, nor led them to the brook;
The pining flocks for him their pastures slight,
Nor grassy plains, nor cooling streams invite.
The doleful tidings reach'd the Libyan shores,
And lions mourn'd in deep repeated roars.
His cruel doom the woodlands wild bewail,
And plaintive hills repeat the melancholy tale.
'Twas he, who first Armenia's tigers broke,
And tam'd their stubborn natures to the yoke;
He first with ivy wrapt the thyrsus round,
And made the hills with Bacchus' rites resound.[4]
As vines adorn the trees which they entwine,
As purple clusters beautify the vine,
As bulls the herd, as corns the fertile plains,
The godlike Daphnis dignified the swains.
When Daphnis from our eager hopes was torn,
Phœbus and Pales left the plains to mourn.
Now weeds and wretched tares the crop subdue,
Where store of generous wheat but lately grew.
Narcissus' lovely flower no more is seen,
No more the velvet violet decks the green;
Thistles for these the blasted meadow yields,
And thorns and frizzled burs deform the fields.
Swains, shade the springs, and let the ground be drest
With verdant leaves; 'Twas Daphnis' last request.[Pg 202]
Erect a tomb in honour to his name
Mark'd with this verse to celebrate his fame.
"The swains with Daphnis' name this tomb adorn,
Whose high renown above the skies is borne;
Fair was his flock, he fairest on the plain,
The pride, the glory of the sylvan reign."
Sweeter, O bard divine, thy numbers seem,
Than to the scorched swain the cooling stream,
Or soft on fragrant flowerets to recline,
And the tir'd limbs to balmy sleep resign.
Blest youth! whose voice and pipe demand the praise
Due but to thine, and to thy master's lays.
I in return the darling theme will choose,
And Daphnis' praises shall inspire my Muse;
He in my song shall high as Heaven ascend,
High as the Heavens, for Daphnis was my friend.
His virtues sure our noblest numbers claim;
Nought can delight me more than such a theme,
Which in your song new dignity obtains;
Oft has our Stimichon extoll'd the strains.
Now Daphnis shines, among the gods a god,
Struck with the splendours of his new abode.
Beneath his footstool far remote appear
The clouds slow-sailing, and the starry sphere.[Pg 203]
Hence lawns and groves with gladsome raptures ring,
The swains, the nymphs, and Pan in concert sing.
The wolves to murder are no more inclin'd,
No guileful nets ensnare the wandering hind,
Deceit and violence and rapine cease,
For Daphnis loves the gentle arts of peace.
From savage mountains shouts of transport rise,
Borne in triumphant echoes to the skies:
The rocks and shrubs emit melodious sounds,
Through nature's vast extent the god, the god rebounds.
Be gracious still, still present to our prayer;
Four altars, lo! we build with pious care.
Two for th' inspiring god of song divine,
And two, propitious Daphnis, shall be thine.
Two bowls white-foaming with their milky store,
Of generous oil two brimming goblets more,
Each year we shall present before thy shrine,
And cheer the feast with liberal draughts of wine;
Before the fire when winter-storms invade,
In summer's heat beneath the breezy shade:
The hallow'd bowls with wine of Chios crown'd,
Shall pour their sparkling nectar to the ground.
Damœtas shall with Lyctian[5] Ægon play,
And celebrate with festive strains the day.
Alphesibœus to the sprightly song
Shall like the dancing Satyrs trip along.
These rites shall still be paid, so justly due,[Pg 204]
Both when the nymphs receive our annual vow,
And when with solemn songs, and victims crown'd,
Our lands in long procession we surround,
While fishes love the streams and briny deep,
And savage boars the mountain's rocky steep,
While grasshoppers their dewy food delights,
While balmy thyme the busy bee invites;
So long shall last thine honours and thy fame,
So long the shepherds shall resound thy name.
Such rites to thee shall husbandmen ordain,
As Ceres and the god of wine obtain.
Thou to our prayers propitiously inclin'd
Thy grateful suppliants to their vows shall bind.
What boon, dear shepherd, can your song requite?
For nought in nature yields so sweet delight.
Not the soft sighing of the southern gale,
That faintly breathes along the flowery vale;
Nor, when light breezes curl the liquid plain,
To tread the margin of the murmuring main;
Nor melody of streams, that roll away
Through rocky dales, delights me as your lay.
No mean reward, my friend, your verses claim;
Take then this flute that breath'd the plaintive theme
Of Corydon;[6] when proud Damœtas[7] tried
To match my skill, it dash'd his hasty pride.
[Pg 205]
And let this sheepcrook by my friend be worn,
Which brazen studs in beamy rows adorn;
This fair Antigenes oft begg'd to gain,
But all his beauty, all his prayers were vain.

[1] Here we discover Menalcas and Mopsus seated in an arbour formed by the interwoven twigs of a wild vine. A grove of hazels and elms surrounds this arbour. The season seems to be Summer. The time of the day is not specified.

[2] From this passage it is evident that Virgil thought pastoral poetry capable of a much greater variety in its subjects, than some modern critics will allow.

[3] It is the most general and most probable conjecture, that Julius Cæsar is the Daphnis, whose death and deification are here celebrated. Some, however, are of opinion, that by Daphnis is meant a real shepherd of Sicily of that name, who is said to have invented bucolic poetry, and in honour of whom the Sicilians performed yearly sacrifices.

[4] This can be applied only to Julius Cæsar; for it was he who introduced at Rome the celebration of the Bacchanalian revels.—Servius.

[5] Lyctium was a city of Crete.

[6] See Pastoral second.

[7] See Pastoral third.



My sportive Muse first sung Sicilian strains,
Nor blush'd to dwell in woods and lowly plains.
To sing of kings and wars when I aspire,
Apollo checks my vainly-rising fire.
"To swains the flock and sylvan pipe belong,
Then choose some humbler theme, nor dare heroic song."
The voice divine, O Varus I obey.
And to my reed shall chant a rural lay;
Since others long thy praises to rehearse,
And sing thy battles in immortal verse.
Yet if these songs, which Phœbus bids me write,
Hereafter to the swains shall yield delight,
[Pg 206]Of thee the trees and humble shrubs shall sing,
And all the vocal grove with Varus ring.
The song inscrib'd to Varus' sacred name
To Phœbus' favour has the justest claim.
Come then, my Muse, a sylvan song repeat.
'Twas in his shady arbour's cool retreat
Two youthful swains the god Silenus found,
In drunkenness and sleep his senses bound,
His turgid veins the late debauch betray;
His garland on the ground neglected lay,
Fallen from his head; and by the well-worn ear
His cup of ample size depended near.
Sudden the swains the sleeping god surprise,
And with his garland bind him as he lies,
(No better chain at hand) incens'd so long
To be defrauded of their promis'd song.
To aid their project, and remove their fears,
Ægle, a beauteous fountain-nymph, appears;
Who, while he hardly opes his heavy eyes,
His stupid brow with bloody berries dyes.
Then smiling at the fraud Silenus said,
"And dare you thus a sleeping god invade?
To see me was enough; but haste, unloose
My bonds; the song no longer I refuse;
Unloose me, youths; my song shall pay your pains;
For this fair nymph another boon remains."
He sung; responsive to the heavenly sound
The stubborn oaks and forests dance around.
Tripping the Satyrs and the Fauns advance,
Wild beasts forget their rage, and join the general dance.[Pg 207]
Not so Parnassus' listening rocks rejoice,
When Phœbus raises his celestial voice;
Nor Thracia's echoing mountains so admire,
When Orpheus strikes the loud-lamenting lyre.
For first he sung of Nature's wondrous birth;
How seeds of water, air, and flame, and earth,
Down the vast void with casual impulse hurl'd,
Clung into shapes, and form'd this fabric of the world.
Then hardens by degrees the tender soil,
And from the mighty mound the seas recoil.
O'er the wide world new various forms arise;
The infant Sun along the brighten'd skies
Begins his course, while Earth with glad amaze
The blazing wonder from below surveys.
The clouds sublime their genial moisture shed,
And the green grove lifts high its leafy head.
The savage beasts o'er desert mountains roam,
Yet few their numbers, and unknown their home.
He next the blest Saturnian ages sung;
How a new race of men from Pyrrha sprung;[2]
Prometheus' daring theft, and dreadful doom,
Whose growing heart devouring birds consume.
Then names the spring, renown'd for Hylas' fate,
By the sad mariners bewail'd too late;
They call on Hylas with repeated cries,
And Hylas, Hylas, all the lonesome shore replies,
Next he bewails Pasiphæ (hapless dame!)
Who for a bullock felt a brutal flame.[Pg 208]
What fury fires thy bosom, frantic queen!
How happy thou, if herds had never been!
The maids, whom Juno, to avenge her wrong,[3]
Like heifers doom'd to low the vales along,
Ne'er felt the rage of thy detested fire,
Ne'er were polluted with thy foul desire;
Though oft for horns they felt their polish'd brow,
And their soft necks oft fear'd the galling plough.
Ah wretched queen! thou roam'st the mountain-waste,
While, his white limbs on lilies laid to rest,
The half-digested herb again he chews,
Or some fair female of the herd pursues.
"Beset, ye Cretan nymphs, beset the grove,
And trace the wandering footsteps of my love.
Yet let my longing eyes my love behold,
Before some favourite beauty of the fold
Entice him with Gortynian[4] herds to stray,
Where smile the vales in richer pasture gay."
He sung how golden fruit's resistless grace
Decoy'd the wary virgin from the race.[5]
Then wraps in bark the mourning sisters round,[6]
And rears the lofty alders from the ground.[Pg 209]
He sung, while Gallus by Permessus[7] stray'd,
A sister of the nine the hero led
To the Aonian hill; the choir in haste
Left their bright thrones, and hail'd the welcome guest.
Linus arose, for sacred song renown'd,
Whose brow a wreath of flowers and parsley bound;
And "Take," he said, "this pipe, which heretofore
The far-fam'd shepherd of Ascræa[8] bore;
Then heard the mountain-oaks its magic sound,
Leap'd from their hills, and thronging danced around.
On this thou shalt renew the tuneful lay,
And grateful songs to thy Apollo pay,
Whose fam'd Grynæan[9] temple from thy strain
Shall more exalted dignity obtain."
Why should I sing unhappy Scylla's fate?[10]
Sad monument of jealous Circe's hate!
Round her white breast what furious monsters roll,
And to the dashing waves incessant howl:
How from the ships that bore Ulysses' crew[11]
Her dogs the trembling sailors dragg'd, and slew.[Pg 210]
Of Philomela's feast why should I sing,[12]
And what dire chance befell the Thracian king?
Changed to a lapwing by th' avenging god,
He made the barren waste his lone abode,
And oft on soaring pinions hover'd o'er
The lofty palace then his own no more.
The tuneful god renews each pleasing theme,
Which Phœbus sung by blest Eurotas' stream;
When bless'd Eurotas gently flow'd along,
And bade his laurels learn the lofty song.
Silenus sung; the vocal vales reply,
And heavenly music charms the listening sky.
But now their folds the number'd flocks invite,
The star of evening sheds its trembling light,
And the unwilling Heavens are wrapt in night.

[1] The cave of Silenus, which is the scene of this eclogue, is delineated with sufficient accuracy. The time seems to be the evening; at least the song does not cease, till the flocks are folded, and the evening star appears.

[2] See Ovid. Met. Lib. I.

[3] Their names were Lysippe, Ipponoë, and Cyrianassa. Juno, to be avenged of them for preferring their own beauty to hers, struck them with madness, to such a degree, that they imagined themselves to be heifers.

[4] Gortyna was a city of Crete. See Ovid. Art. Am. Lib. I.

[5] Atalanta. See Ovid. Metamorph. Lib. X.

[6] See Ovid. Metamorph. Lib. II.

[7] A river in Bœotia arising from Mount Helicon, sacred to the Muses.

[8] Hesiod.

[9] Grynium was a maritime town of the Lesser Asia, where were an ancient temple and oracle of Apollo.

[10] See Virgil Æn. III.

[11] See Homer Odyss. Lib. XII.

[12] See Ovid's Metamorph. Lib. VI.



Beneath an holm that murmur'd to the breeze
The youthful Daphnis lean'd in rural ease:
With him two gay Arcadian swains reclin'd,
Who in the neighbouring vale their flocks had join'd,
[Pg 211]Thyrsis, whose care it was the goats to keep,
And Corydon, who fed the fleecy sheep;
Both in the flowery prime of youthful days,
Both skill'd in single or responsive lays.
While I with busy hand a shelter form
To guard my myrtles from the future storm,
The husband of my goats had chanced to stray;
To find the vagrant out I take my way.
Which Daphnis seeing cries, "Dismiss your fear,
Your kids and goat are all in safety here;
And, if no other care require your stay,
Come, and with us unbend the toils of day
In this cool shade; at hand your heifers feed,
And of themselves will to the watering speed;
Here fringed with reeds slow Mincius winds along,
And round yon oak the bees soft-murmuring throng."
What could I do? for I was left alone,
My Phyllis and Alcippe both were gone,
And none remain'd to feed my weanling lambs,
And to restrain them from their bleating dams:
Betwixt the swains a solemn match was set,
To prove their skill, and end a long debate.[Pg 212]
Though serious matters claim'd my due regard,
Their pastime to my business I preferr'd.
To sing by turns the Muse inspir'd the swains,
And Corydon began th' alternate strains.
Ye nymphs of Helicon, my sole desire!
O warm my breast with all my Codrus' fire.
If none can equal Codrus' heavenly lays,
For next to Phœbus he deserves the praise,
No more I ply the tuneful art divine,
My silent pipe shall hang on yonder pine.
Arcadian swains, an ivy wreath bestow,
With early honours crown your poet's brow;
Codrus shall chafe, if you my songs commend,
Till burning spite his tortur'd entrails rend;
Or amulets, to bind my temples, frame,
Lest his invidious praises blast my fame.
A stag's tall horns, and stain'd with savage gore
This bristled visage of a tusky boar,
To thee, O virgin-goddess of the chase,
Young Mycon offers for thy former grace.
If like success his future labours crown,
Thine, goddess, then shall be a nobler boon,
In polish'd marble thou shalt shine complete,
And purple sandals shall adorn thy feet.
[Pg 213]
To thee, Priapus,[2] each returning year,
This bowl of milk, these hallow'd cakes we bear;
Thy care our garden is but meanly stor'd,
And mean oblations all we can afford.
But if our flocks a numerous offspring yield,
And our decaying fold again be fill'd,
Though now in marble thou obscurely shine,
For thee a golden statue we design.
O Galatea, whiter than the swan,
Loveliest of all thy sisters of the main,
Sweeter than Hybla, more than lilies fair!
If ought of Corydon employ thy care,
When shades of night involve the silent sky,
And slumbering in their stalls the oxen lie,
Come to my longing arms and let me prove
Th' immortal sweets of Galatea's love.
As the vile sea-weed scatter'd by the storm,
As he whose face Sardinian herbs deform,[3]
As burs and brambles that disgrace the plain,
So nauseous, so detested be thy swain;[Pg 214]
If when thine absence I am doom'd to bear
The day appears not longer than a year.
Go home, my flocks, ye lengthen out the day,
For shame, ye tardy flocks, for shame away!
Ye mossy fountains, warbling as ye flow!
And softer than the slumbers ye bestow,
Ye grassy banks! ye trees with verdure crown'd,
Whose leaves a glimmering shade diffuse around!
Grant to my weary flocks a cool retreat,
And screen them from the summer's raging heat!
For now the year in brightest glory shines,
Now reddening clusters deck the bending vines.
Here's wood for fuel; here the fire displays
To all around its animating blaze;
Black with continual smoke our posts appear;
Nor dread we more the rigour of the year,
Than the fell wolf the fearful lambkins dreads,
When he the helpless fold by night invades;
Or swelling torrents, headlong as they roll,
The weak resistance of the shatter'd mole.
Now yellow harvests wave on every field,
Now bending boughs the hoary chestnut yield,
Now loaded trees resign their annual store,
And on the ground the mellow fruitage pour;[Pg 215]
Jocund, the face of Nature smiles, and gay;
But if the fair Alexis were away,
Inclement drought the hardening soil would drain,
And streams no longer murmur o'er the plain.
A languid hue the thirsty fields assume,
Parch'd to the root the flowers resign their bloom,
The faded vines refuse their hills to shade,
Their leafy verdure wither'd and decay'd:
But if my Phyllis on these plains appear,
Again the groves their gayest green shall wear,
Again the clouds their copious moisture lend,
And in the genial rain shall Jove descend.
Alcides' brows the poplar-leaves surround,
Apollo's beamy locks with bays are crown'd,
The myrtle, lovely queen of smiles, is thine,
And jolly Bacchus loves the curling vine;
But while my Phyllis loves the hazel-spray,
To hazel yield the myrtle and the bay.
The fir, the hills; the ash adorns the woods;
The pine, the gardens; and the poplar, floods.
If thou, my Lycidas, wilt deign to come,
And cheer thy shepherd's solitary home,
The ash so fair in woods, and garden-pine
Will own their beauty far excell'd by thine.
[Pg 216]
So sung the swains, but Thyrsis strove in vain;
Thus far I bear in mind th' alternate strain.
Young Corydon acquir'd unrivall'd fame,
And still we pay a deference to his name.

[1] The scene of this pastoral is as follows. Four shepherds, Daphnis in the most distinguished place, Corydon, Thyrsis, and Melibœus, are seen reclining beneath an holm. Sheep and goats intermixed are feeding hard by. At a little distance Mincius, fringed with reeds, appears winding along. Fields and trees compose the surrounding scene. A venerable oak, with bees swarming around it, is particularly distinguished. The time seems to be the forenoon of a summerday.

[2] This deity presided over gardens.

[3] It was the property of this poisonous herb to distort the features of those who had eaten of it, in such a manner, that they seemed to expire in an agony of laughter.



Rehearse we, Pollio, the enchanting strains
Alternate sung by two contending swains.
Charm'd by their songs, the hungry heifers stood
In deep amaze, unmindful of their food;
The listening lynxes laid their rage aside,
The streams were silent, and forgot to glide.
O thou, where'er thou lead'st thy conquering host,
Or by Timavus,[2] or th' Illyrian coast!
When shall my Muse, transported with the theme,
In strains sublime my Pollio's deeds proclaim;
And celebrate thy lays by all admir'd,[Pg 217]
Such as of old Sophocles' Muse inspir'd?
To thee, the patron of my rural songs,
To thee my first, my latest lay belongs.
Then let this humble ivy-wreath enclose,
Twin'd with triumphal bays, thy godlike brows.
What time the chill sky brightens with the dawn,
When cattle love to crop the dewy lawn,
Thus Damon to the woodlands wild complain'd,
As 'gainst an olive's lofty trunk he lean'd.
Lead on the genial day, O star of morn!
While wretched I, all hopeless and forlorn,
With my last breath my fatal woes deplore,
And call the gods by whom false Nisa swore;
Though they, regardless of a lover's pain,
Heard her repeated vows, and heard in vain.
Begin, my pipe, the sweet Mænalian strain.[3]
Blest Mænalus! that hears the pastoral song
Still languishing its tuneful groves along!
That hears th' Arcadian god's celestial lay,
Who taught the idly-rustling reeds to play!
That hears the singing pines! that hears the swain
Of love's soft chains melodiously complain!
Begin, my pipe, the sweet Mænalian strain.[Pg 218]
Mopsus the willing Nisa now enjoys—
What may not lovers hope from such a choice!
Now mares and griffins shall their hate resign,
And the succeeding age shall see them join
In friendship's tie; now mutual love shall bring
The dog and doe to share the friendly spring.
Scatter thy nuts, O Mopsus, and prepare
The nuptial torch to light the wedded fair.
Lo, Hesper hastens to the western main!
And thine the night of bliss—thine, happy swain!
Begin, my pipe, the sweet Mænalian strain.
Exult, O Nisa, in thy happy state!
Supremely blest in such a worthy mate;
While you my beard detest, and bushy brow,
And think the gods forget the world below:
While you my flock and rural pipe disdain,
And treat with bitter scorn a faithful swain.
Begin, my pipe, the sweet Mænalian strain.
When first I saw you by your mother's side,
To where our apples grew I was your guide:
Twelve summers since my birth had roll'd around,
And I could reach the branches from the ground.
How did I gaze!—how perish!—ah how vain
The fond bewitching hopes that sooth'd my pain!
Begin, my pipe, the sweet Mænalian strain.
Too well I know thee, Love. From Scythian snows,
Or Lybia's burning sands the mischief rose.
Rocks adamantine nurs'd this foreign bane,
This fell invader of the peaceful plain.
Begin, my pipe, the sweet Mænalian strain.[Pg 219]
Love taught the mother's[4] murdering hand to kill,
Her children's blood love bade the mother spill.
Was love the cruel cause?[5] Or did the deed
From fierce unfeeling cruelty proceed?
Both fill'd her brutal bosom with their bane;
Both urg'd the deed, while Nature shrunk in vain.
Begin, my pipe, the sweet Mænalian strain.
Now let the fearful lamb the wolf devour;
Let alders blossom with Narcissus' flower;
From barren shrubs let radiant amber flow;
Let rugged oaks with golden fruitage glow;
Let shrieking owls with swans melodious vie;
Let Tityrus the Thracian numbers try,
Outrival Orpheus in the sylvan reign,
And emulate Arion on the main.
Begin, my pipe, the sweet Mænalian strain.
Let land no more the swelling waves divide;
Earth, be thou whelm'd beneath the boundless tide;
Headlong from yonder promontory's brow
I plunge into the rolling deep below.
Farewell, ye woods! farewell, thou flowery plain!
Hear the last lay of a despairing swain.
And cease, my pipe, the sweet Mænalian strain.[Pg 220]
Here Damon ceas'd. And now, ye tuneful Nine,
Alphesibœus' magic verse subjoin,
To his responsive song your aid we call,
Our power extends not equally to all.
Bring living waters from the silver stream,
With vervain and fat incense feed the flame:
With this soft wreath the sacred altars bind,
To move my cruel Daphnis to be kind,
And with my phrensy to inflame his soul:
Charms are but wanting to complete the whole.
Bring Daphnis home, bring Daphnis to my arms,
O bring my long-lost love, my powerful charms.
By powerful charms what prodigies are done!
Charms draw pale Cynthia from her silver throne;
Charms burst the bloated snake, and Circe's[6] guests
By mighty magic charms were changed to beasts,
Bring Daphnis home, bring Daphnis to my arms,
O bring my long-lost love, my powerful charms.
Three woollen wreaths, and each of triple dye,
Three times about thy image I apply,
Then thrice I bear it round the sacred shrine;
Uneven numbers please the powers divine.
Bring Daphnis home, bring Daphnis to my arms,
O bring my long-lost love, my powerful charms.
Haste, let three colours with three knots be join'd,
And say, "Thy fetters, Venus, thus I bind."[Pg 221]
Bring Daphnis home, bring Daphnis to my arms,
O bring my long-lost love, my powerful charms.
As this soft clay is harden'd by the flame,
And as this wax is soften'd by the same,
My love that harden'd Daphnis to disdain,
Shall soften his relenting heart again.
Scatter the salted corn, and place the bays,
And with fat brimstone light the sacred blaze.
Daphnis my burning passion slights with scorn,
And Daphnis in this blazing bay I burn.
Bring Daphnis home, bring Daphnis to my arms,
O bring my long-lost love, my powerful charms.
As when, to find her love, an heifer roams
Through trackless groves, and solitary glooms;
Sick with desire, abandon'd to her woes,
By some lone stream her languid limbs she throws;
There in deep anguish wastes the tedious night,
Nor thoughts of home her late return invite:
Thus may he love, and thus indulge his pain,
While I enhance his torments with disdain.
Bring Daphnis home, bring Daphnis to my arms,
O bring my long-lost love, my powerful charms.
These robes beneath the threshold here I leave,
These pledges of his love, O Earth, receive.
Ye dear memorials of our mutual fire,
Of you my faithless Daphnis I require.
Bring Daphnis home, bring Daphnis to my arms,
O bring my long-lost love, my powerful charms.
These deadly poisons and these magic weeds,
Selected from the store which Pontus breeds,[Pg 222]
Sage Mœris gave me; oft I saw him prove
Their sovereign power; by these, along the grove
A prowling wolf the dread magician roams;
Now gliding ghosts from the profoundest tombs
Inspired he calls; the rooted corn he wings
And to strange fields the flying harvest brings.
Bring Daphnis home, bring Daphnis to my arms,
O bring my long-lost love, my powerful charms.
These ashes from the altar take with speed,
And treading backwards cast them o'er your head
Into the running stream nor turn your eye.
Yet this last spell, though hopeless, let me try.
But nought can move the unrelenting swain,
And spells, and magic verse, and gods are vain.
Bring Daphnis home, bring Daphnis to my arms,
O bring my long-lost love, my powerful charms.
Lo, while I linger, with spontaneous fire
The ashes redden, and the flames aspire!
May this new prodigy auspicious prove!
What fearful hopes my beating bosom move!
Hark! does not Hylax bark—ye powers supreme
Can it be real, or do lovers dream!—
He comes, my Daphnis comes! forbear my charms;
My love, my Daphnis flies to bless my longing arms.

[1] In this eighth pastoral no particular scene is described. The poet rehearses the songs of two contending swains, Damon and Alphesibœus. The former adopts the soliloquy of a despairing lover: the latter chooses for his subject the magic rites of an enchantress forsaken by her lover, and recalling him by the power of her spells.

[2] A river in Italy.

[3] This intercalary line (as it is called by the commentators) which seems to be intended as a chorus or burden to the song, is here made the last of a triplet, that it may be as independent of the context and the verse in the translation as it is in the original.—Mænalus was a mountain of Arcadia.

[4] Medea.

[5] This seems to be Virgil's meaning. The translator did not choose to preserve the conceit on the words puer and mater in his version; as this (in his opinion) would have rendered the passage obscure and unpleasing to an English reader.

[6] See Hom. Odyss. Lib. X.

[Pg 223]



Go you to town, my friend? this beaten way
Conducts us thither.
Ah! the fatal day,
The unexpected day at last is come,[Pg 224]
When a rude alien drives us from our home.
Hence, hence, ye clowns, th' usurper thus commands,
To me you must resign your ancient lands.
Thus helpless and forlorn we yield to fate;
And our rapacious lord to mitigate
This brace of kids a present I design,
Which load with curses, O ye powers divine!
'Twas said, Menalcas with his tuneful strains
Had sav'd the grounds of all the neighbouring swains,
From where the hill, that terminates the vale,
In easy risings first begins to swell,
Far as the blasted beech that mates the sky,
And the clear stream that gently murmurs by.
Such was the voice of fame; but music's charms,
Amid the dreadful clang of warlike arms,
Avail no more, than the Chaonian dove
When down the sky descends the bird of Jove.
And had not the prophetic raven spoke
His dire presages from the hollow oak,
And often warn'd me to avoid debate,
And with a patient mind submit to fate,
Ne'er had thy Mœris seen this fatal hour,
And that melodious swain had been no more.
[Pg 225]
What horrid breasts such impious thoughts could breed!
What barbarous hand could make Menalcas bleed!
Could every tender Muse in him destroy,
And from the shepherds ravish all their joy!
For who but he the lovely nymphs could sing,
Or paint the valleys with the purple spring?
Who shade the fountains from the glare of day?
Who but Menalcas could compose the lay,
Which, as we journey'd to my love's abode,
I softly sung to cheer the lonely road?
"Tityrus, while I am absent, feed the flock,[2]
And, having fed, conduct them to the brook,
(The way is short, and I shall soon return)
But shun the he-goat with the butting horn."
Or who could finish the imperfect lays
Sung by Menalcas to his Varus' praise?
"If fortune yet shall spare the Mantuan swains,
And save from plundering hands our peaceful plains,[Pg 226]
Nor doom us sad Cremona's fate to share,
(For ah! a neighbour's woe excites our fear)
Then high as Heaven our Varus' fame shall rise,
The warbling swans shall bear it to the skies."
Go on, dear swain, these pleasing songs pursue;
So may thy bees avoid the bitter yew,
So may rich herds thy fruitful fields adorn,
So may thy cows with strutting dugs return.
Even I with poets have obtain'd a name,
The Muse inspires me with poetic flame
Th' applauding shepherds to my songs attend,
But I suspect my skill, though they commend.
I dare not hope to please a Cinna's ear,
Or sing what Varus might vouchsafe to hear.
Harsh are the sweetest lays that I can bring,
So screams a goose where swans melodious sing.
This I am pondering, if I can rehearse
The lofty numbers of that labour'd verse.
"Come, Galatea, leave the rolling seas;
Can rugged rocks and heaving surges please?
Come, taste the pleasures of our sylvan bowers,
Our balmy-breathing gales, and fragrant flowers.
See, how our plains rejoice on every side,
How crystal streams thro' blooming valleys glide:
O'er the cool grot the whitening poplars bend,
And clasping vines their grateful umbrage lend.[Pg 227]
Come, beauteous nymph, forsake the briny wave,
Loud on the beach let the wild billows rave."
Or what you sung one evening on the plain—
The air, but not the words, I yet retain.
"Why, Daphnis, dost thou calculate the skies
To know when ancient constellations rise?
Lo, Cæsar's star its radiant light displays,
And on the nations sheds propitious rays.
On the glad hills the reddening clusters glow,
And smiling plenty decks the plains below.
Now graff thy pears; the star of Cæsar reigns,
To thy remotest race the fruit remains."
The rest I have forgot, for length of years
Deadens the sense, and memory impairs.
All things in time submit to sad decay;
Oft have we sung whole summer suns away.
These vanish'd joys must Mœris now deplore,
His voice delights, his numbers charm no more;
Him have the wolves beheld, bewitch'd his song,[3]
Bewitch'd to silence his melodious tongue.
But your desire Menalcas can fulfil,
All these, and more, he sings with matchless skill.
[Pg 228]
These faint excuses which my Mœris frames
But heighten my desire.—And now the streams
In slumber-soothing murmurs softly flow;
And now the sighing breeze hath ceas'd to blow.
Half of our way is past, for I descry
Bianor's tomb just rising to the eye.[4]
Here in this leafy harbour ease your toil,
Lay down your kids, and let us sing the while:
We soon shall reach the town; or, lest a storm
Of sudden rain the evening-sky deform,
Be yours to cheer the journey with a song,
Eas'd of your load, which I shall bear along.
No more, my friend; your kind entreaties spare,
And let our journey be our present care;
Let fate restore our absent friend again,
Then gladly I resume the tuneful strain.

[1] This and the first eclogue seem to have been written on the same occasion. The time is a still evening. The landscape is described at the 97th line of this translation. On one side of the highway is an artificial arbour, where Lycidas invites Mœris to rest a little from the fatigue of his journey: and at a considerable distance appears a sepulchre by the way-side, where the ancient sepulchres were commonly erected.

The critics with one voice seem to condemn this eclogue as unworthy of its author; I know not for what good reason. The many beautiful lines scattered through it would, one might think, be no weak recommendation. But it is by no means to be reckoned a loose collection of incoherent fragments; its principal parts are all strictly connected, and refer to a certain end, and its allusions and images are wholly suited to pastoral life. Its subject, though uncommon, is not improper; for what is more natural, than that two shepherds, when occasionally mentioning the good qualities of their absent friend, particularly his poetical talents, should repeat such fragments of his songs as they recollected?

[2] These lines, which Virgil has translated literally from Theocritus, may be supposed to be a fragment of a poem mentioned in the preceding verses; or, what is more likely, to be spoken by Lycidas to his servant; something similar to which may be seen Past. 5. v. 20. of this translation.—The original is here remarkably explicit, even to a degree of affectation. This the translator has endeavoured to imitate.

[3] In Italia creditur luporum visus esse noxios; vocemque homini quem priores contemplentur adimere ad præsens.

Plin. N. H. VIII. 22.

[4] Bianor is said to have founded Mantua.—Servius.

[Pg 229]


To my last labour lend thy sacred aid,
O Arethusa: that the cruel maid
With deep remorse may read the mournful song,
For mournful lays to Gallus' love belong.
(What Muse in sympathy will not bestow
Some tender strains to soothe my Gallus' woe?)
So may thy waters pure of briny stain
Traverse the waves of the Sicilian main.
Sing, mournful Muse, of Gallus' luckless love,
While the goats browse along the cliffs above.
[Pg 230]Nor silent is the waste while we complain,
The woods return the long-resounding strain.
Whither, ye fountain-nymphs, were ye withdrawn,
To what lone woodland, or what devious lawn,
When Gallus' bosom languish'd with the fire
Of hopeless love, and unallay'd desire?
For neither by th' Aonian spring you stray'd,
Nor roam'd Parnassus' heights, nor Pindus' hallow'd shade.
The pines of Mænalus were heard to mourn,
And sounds of woe along the groves were borne.
And sympathetic tears the laurel shed,
And humbler shrubs declin'd their drooping head.
All wept his fate, when to despair resign'd
Beneath a desert-cliff he lay reclin'd.
Lyceus' rocks were hung with many a tear,
And round the swain his flocks forlorn appear.
Nor scorn, celestial bard, a poet's name;
Renown'd Adonis by the lonely stream
Tended his flock.—As thus he lay along,
The swains and awkward neatherds round him throng.
Wet from the winter-mast Menalcas came.
All ask, what beauty rais'd the fatal flame.
The god of verse vouchsafed to join the rest;
He said, "What phrensy thus torments thy breast?
While she, thy darling, thy Lycoris, scorns
Thy proffer'd love, and for another burns,
With whom o'er winter-wastes she wanders far,
'Midst camps, and clashing arms, and boisterous war."
[Pg 231]Sylvanus came with rural garlands crown'd,
And wav'd the lilies long, and flowering fennel round.
Next we beheld the gay Arcadian god;
His smiling cheeks with bright vermilion glow'd.
"For ever wilt thou heave the bursting sigh?
Is love regardful of the weeping eye?
Love is not cloy'd with tears; alas, no more
Than bees luxurious with the balmy flow'r,
Than goats with foliage, than the grassy plain
With silver rills and soft refreshing rain."
Pan spoke; and thus the youth with grief opprest;
"Arcadians, hear, O hear my last request;
O ye, to whom the sweetest lays belong,
O let my sorrows on your hills be sung:
If your soft flutes shall celebrate my woes,
How will my bones in deepest peace repose!
Ah had I been with you a country-swain,
And prun'd the vine, and fed the bleating train;
Had Phyllis, or some other rural fair,
Or black Amyntas been my darling care;
(Beauteous though black; what lovelier flower is seen
Than the dark violet on the painted green?)
These in the bower had yielded all their charms,
And sunk with mutual raptures in my arms:
Phyllis had crown'd my head with garlands gay,
Amyntas sung the pleasing hours away.
Here, O Lycoris, purls the limped spring,
Bloom all the meads, and all the woodlands sing;
Here let me press thee to my panting breast[Pg 232]
Till youth, and joy, and life itself be past.
Banish'd by love o'er hostile lands I stray,
And mingle in the battle's dread array;
Whilst thou, relentless to my constant flame,
(Ah could I disbelieve the voice of fame!)
Far from thy home, unaided and forlorn,
Far from thy love, thy faithful love, art borne,
On the bleak Alps with chilling blast to pine,
Or wander waste along the frozen Rhine.
Ye icy paths, O spare her tender form!
O spare those heavenly charms, thou wintry storm!
"Hence let me hasten to some desert-grove,
And soothe with songs my long unanswer'd love.
I go, in some lone wilderness to suit
Eubœan lays to my Sicilian flute.
Better with beasts of prey to make abode
In the deep cavern, or the darksome wood;
And carve on trees the story of my woe,
Which with the growing bark shall ever grow,
Meanwhile with woodland-nymphs, a lovely throng,
The winding groves of Mænalus along
I roam at large; or chase the foaming boar;
Or with sagacious hounds the wilds explore,
Careless of cold. And now methinks I bound
O'er rocks and cliffs, and hear the woods resound;
And now with beating heart I seem to wing
The Cretan arrow from the Parthian string—
As if I thus my phrensy could forego,
As if love's god could melt at human woe.[Pg 233]
Alas! nor nymphs nor heavenly songs delight—
Farewell, ye groves! the groves no more invite.
No pains, no miseries of man can move
The unrelenting deity of love.
To quench your thirst in Hebrus' frozen flood,
To make the Scythian snows your drear abode;
Or feed your flock on Ethiopian plains,
When Sirius' fiery constellation reigns,
(When deep-imbrown'd the languid herbage lies,
And in the elm the vivid verdure dies)
Were all in vain. Love's unresisted sway
Extends to all, and we must love obey."
'Tis done: ye Nine, here ends your poet's strain
In pity sung to soothe his Gallus' pain.
While leaning on a flowery bank I twine
The flexile osiers, and the basket join.
Celestial Nine, your sacred influence bring,
And soothe my Gallus' sorrows while I sing:
Gallus, my much belov'd! for whom I feel
The flame of purest friendship rising still:
So by a brook the verdant alders rise,
When fostering zephyrs fan the vernal skies.
Let us begone: at eve, the shade annoys
With noxious damps, and hurts the singer's voice;
The juniper breathes bitter vapours round,
That kill the springing corn, and blast the ground.
Homeward, my sated goats, now let us hie;
Lo beamy Hesper gilds the western sky.

[1] The scene of this pastoral is very accurately delineated. We behold the forlorn Gallus stretched along beneath a solitary cliff, his flocks standing round him at some distance. A group of deities and swains encircle him, each of whom is particularly described. On one side we see the shepherds with their crooks; next to them the neatherds, known by the clumsiness of their appearance; and next to these Menalcas with his clothes wet, as just come from beating or gathering winter-mast. On the other side we observe Apollo with his usual insignia; Sylvanus crowned with flowers, and brandishing in his hand the long lilies and flowering fennel; and last of all, Pan, the god of shepherds, known by his ruddy smiling countenance, and the other peculiarities of his form.

Gallus was a Roman of very considerable rank, a poet of no small estimation, and an intimate friend of Virgil. He loved to distraction one Cytheris (here called Lycoris) who slighted him, and followed Antony into Gaul.

[Pg 234]



Alas, how empty all our worldly schemes;
Vain are our wishes, our enjoyment dreams.
A debt to nature one and all must pay,
Nor will the creditor defer her day;
Death comes a messenger, displays the writ,
And to the fatal summons all submit.
An earthly messenger I was of yore,
The scourge of debtors then, but now—no more.
Oft have I stood in all my pomp confess'd,
The blazon beaming dreadful at my breast;
Oft have I wav'd on high th' attractive rod,
And made the wretch obsequious to my nod.
Pale shivering Poverty, that stalk'd behind,
His greasy rags loose fluttering in the wind,
And Terror, cudgel-arm'd, that strode before,
Still to my deeds unquestion'd witness bore.
Dire execution, as I march'd, was spread;
My threat'ning horn they heard—they heard and fled.
While thus destruction mark'd my headlong course,
Nor mortals durst oppose my matchless force,
A deadly warrant from the court of heaven
To Death, the sovereign messenger, was given.[Pg 235]
Swift as the lightning's instantaneous flame,
Arm'd with his dart, the king of catchpoles came.
My heart, unmov'd before, was seiz'd with fear,
And sunk beneath his all-subduing spear;
To heaven's high bar the spirit wing'd its way,
And left the carcass forfeit to the clay.
Reader! though every ill beset thee round,
With patience bear, nor servilely despond;
Though heaven awhile delay th' impending blow,
Heaven sees the sorrows of the world below,
And sets at last the suffering mourner free
From famine, misery, pestilence, and me.
June 28th, 1759.                                       Mont. Abd. Ford.



O Ross, thou wale of hearty cocks,
Sae crouse and canty with thy jokes!
Thy hamely auldwarl'd muse provokes
Me for awhile
To ape our guid plain countra' folks
In verse and stile.
Sure never carle was haff sae gabby
E're since the winsome days o' Habby:[Pg 236]
O mayst thou ne'er gang, clung, or shabby,
Nor miss thy snaker!
Or I'll ca' fortune nasty drabby,
And say—pox take her!
O may the roupe ne'er roust thy weason,
May thirst thy thrapple never gizzen!
But bottled ale in mony a dizzen,
Aye lade thy gantry!
And fouth o'vivres a' in season,
Plenish thy pantry!
Lang may thy stevin fill wi' glee
The glens and mountains of Lochlee,
Which were right gowsty but for thee,
Whase sangs enamour
Ilk lass, and teach wi' melody
The rocks to yamour.
Ye shak your head, but, o' my fegs,
Ye've set old Scota[1] on her legs,
Lang had she lyen wi' beffs and flegs,
Bumbaz'd and dizzie;
Her fiddle wanted strings and pegs,
Waes me! poor hizzie!
Since Allan's death naebody car'd
For anes to speer how Scota far'd,
[Pg 237]Nor plack nor thristled turner war'd
To quench her drouth;
For frae the cottar to the laird
We a' rin South.
The Southland chiels indeed hae mettle,
And brawly at a sang can ettle,
Yet we right couthily might settle
O' this side Forth.
The devil pay them wi' a pettle
That slight the North.
Our countra leed is far frae barren,
It's even right pithy and aulfarren,
Oursells are neiper-like, I warran,
For sense and smergh;
In kittle times when faes are yarring,
We're no thought ergh.
Oh! bonny are our greensward hows,
Where through the birks the birny rows,
And the bee bums, and the ox lows,
And saft winds rusle;
And shepherd lads on sunny knows
Blaw the blythe fusle.
It's true, we Norlans manna fa'
To eat sae nice or gang sae bra',
As they that come from far awa,
Yet sma's our skaith;
We've peace (and that's well worth it a')
And meat and claith.
[Pg 238]
Our fine newfangle sparks, I grant ye,
Gie' poor auld Scotland mony a taunty;
They're grown sae ugertfu' and vaunty,
And capernoited,
They guide her like a canker'd aunty
That's deaf and doited.
Sae comes of ignorance I trow,
It's this that crooks their ill fa'r'd mou'
Wi' jokes sae coarse, they gar fouk spue
For downright skonner;
For Scotland wants na sons enew
To do her honour.
I here might gie a skreed o' names,
Dawties of Heliconian dames!
The foremost place Gawin Douglas claims,
That canty priest;
And wha can match the fifth King James
For sang or jest?
Montgomery grave, and Ramsay gay,
Dunbar, Scot,[2] Hawthornden, and mae
Than I can tell; for o' my fae,
I maun break aff;
'Twould take a live lang simmer day
To name the haff.
[Pg 239]
The saucy chiels—I think they ca' them
Criticks, the muckle sorrow claw them,
(For mense nor manners ne'er could awe them
Frae their presumption)
They need nae try thy jokes to fathom;
They want rumgumption.
But ilka Mearns and Angus bearn,
Thy tales and sangs by heart shall learn,
And chiels shall come frae yont the Cairn—
—Amounth, right yousty,
If Ross will be so kind as share in
Their pint at Drousty.[3]

[1] The name Ross gives to his muse.

[2] Author of the Vision—[It was written by Ramsay, under the name of Scot. A. D.]

[3] An alehouse in Lochlee.


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