Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees & Orme,
Paternoster Row. #rule
18101810. ii b1v
T. Davison, Lombard Street,
To the Rev. John Barwis, Rector of Niton, Isle of Wight, Chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, &c. &c. as a Humble Tribute of Gratitude and Esteem, the Present Volume is Respectfully Dedicated by Mary F. Johnson.
At a period when almost every village produces its Poet, and almost every cottage its Sonneteer, I must too sensibly feel my inferiority in the scale of comparative merit not to dread, from an enlightened and unbiased public, a prohibition from the already full-stocked precincts of Parnassus.
This apprehension, in its natural effect, would deter me from thus submitting my dubious title to a rigid and infallible judgment, had I not felt it expedient to appeal from the partiality of friendship to the great tribunal of b3 vi b3v general opinion. Should I thence obtain the privilege of an humble walk at the foot of the mountain, it will convey an additional value to my existence: but I will hold nothing by mere sufferance—no—let me be rather excluded, than permitted as an instance, that, though unqualified, I may violate with impunity the consecrated ground.
Deeply and fully as I am convinced of the defects of my compositions, I can conscientiously only add, I disclaim praise with allowance. That they are the first attempt of a secluded, unknown, and inexperienced female, is an accident attending my works which will soon cease to be remembered; and if they be too feeble to stand without such a decaying prop, they vii b4r ought to fall; nor could any effort of mine avert their fate.
A writer’s opinion of the character of his writings should be given with as much distrust as it will certainly excite in the reader. In venturing to express a hope that mine, with all their faults, will be found exempt from the quaintness of affected simplicity, and the vulgar glare of tinsel ornament, I may perhaps presume on too large a portion of negative merit: yet, should I be convicted on these charges, I must be allowed to aver that my default will proceed much less from a studied manner than from a naturally imperfect taste.
The respectable Reviewers, could I imagine myself worthy of their notice, I would address neither in the viii b4v tone of defiance nor of deprecation. As far as my faculties and means of judging extend, I believe them to be able and candid literary censors—often lenient, and seldom wantonly severe. Private feeling, in their department, has no fair scope for action; and though it had, I would not forfeit my claim to their respect by an appeal to their pity. They will not root out the plant of my hand if it be one of promise; and if they prune its foliage, or even crush its stem, I flatter myself that I shall, in my own case, see the same reason to justify them, as I have often done in that of another: I will not solicit them to allow me to thrust a horrid thorn into the garden in which they are bound to cherish only the sweetest flowers and the choicest fruit.ix b5r
With an impression that every work should find its apology in its merit, I can consistently relate no more of the origin of the present volume than that it is the spontaneous effusion of solitude and leisure; and that a gentleman—whose taste, accuracy, and judgment I can only doubt from his partiality—when he first saw a few of the trifles of this collection, honoured them with transcription, and enjoined me to proceed. My compliance with his injunction was solely intended for my amusement, and the public were then entirely excluded from my consideration.
I will no further trespass on my Readers than to assure them I shall not experience greater mortification by their neglect, than I have felt astonishmentx b5v at the suggestion that aught of mine could deserve their attention; and if I should be honoured with their favour, to have pleased them will prove my highest gratification.
Where amusement only is the object sought by writing, little inclination will be found to conform to any particular plan of composition which may require continued study, or to which frequent recurrence is indispensable. From labour thus painful and tasklike, the short poem of fourteen lines affords a pleasing escape. Within the limits prescribed by it, may be expressed casual and momentary thoughts, at the moment when the feeling and impression by which they are excited are most fresh and lively in the imagination; and the mind, so relieved from a sensible pressure, is left easy and satisfied, and again at leisure to receive new ideas and suggestions, whether from surrounding objectsxii b6v and scenery, or from reflection, books, or conversation.
This is at once the history and character of the short poems which constitute the far greatest part of this volume. I have taken the liberty of calling them, indiscriminately, Sonnets; rather in conformity to custom and the authority of predecessors, than to strict propriety and to the purer taste of the Italian poets, who first invented and have most excelled in this species of poetry.
In the following collection will be found sonnets (if they may all be honoured by that name) of three different constructions. That is certainly irregular, the metrical arrangement of which consists of three successive quatrains, and one couplet. Of the other two, one is in the measure used by Spenser; the other (the only legitimate sonnet) is in that adopted by Milton, and is exclusively upon the pure Italian model. Of all the three sorts I have availed myself, and fancied that xiii c1r they might be used to advantage on different subjects; at least, to my ear they seemed to give a pleasing variety.
As far as it could be done consistently with the arrangement of the subjects, I have kept the first species of sonnet, which I call irregular, and which is of English origin, distinct from the two others, which I have indiscriminately classed under the title of regular sonnets.
To the Public.
Though no puff’d memoir or vignette reveal
That I am old or young, or fair or brown,
With smiles, dread Public, these weak efforts crown,
And let me on your tol’rant notice steal.
With candor weigh this diffident appeal,
To yours the sole tribunal of renown:
Though, if but Pity rise to check your frown,
Spare not—but justice, void of vengeance, deal.
Yet, Public, if its native strain amuse,
Can you a guileless confidence abuse,
And crush the bird which shelters in your breast?
The woodland warbler, timid and unknown
For brilliant plumage or mellifluent tone,
May rise to fame with your protection blest.
Sonnets.002 B1v 003 B2r
’Tis grateful in these scenes at closing day,
From vapid joys and irksome cares remote,
To wander by the rising moon’s pale ray,
As night’s melodious bird attunes her note:
And the young shepherd’s mellow whistled strain,
Or love-cross’d ballad while he folds his flock,
Softens the sullen heaving of the main,
Dashing the pebbled shore and pointed rock.
Now deepen’d shades and sounds of falling night
In solemn reveries entrance the soul,
And raise her, with a spirit’s rapid flight,
Where purer spheres in higher regions roll,
Thence she looks down on earthly chance and change,
Makes heaven her home; the universe her range.
Exists there one, who carelessly can view
The vivid glory of the sun’s last gleams
On the green wave reflect a vermil hue,
And upward cast pale heat-portending beams?
When the white cliff receives the ruddy glow,
And the splendid flushes smooth its craggy side;
When the glaz’d windows of the war-ship throw
A sparkling radiance o’er the crimson’d tide;
When rising Venus sheds her light of love,
Fresh from the main, as erst the Goddess rose;
When in his circuit shines the belted Jove,
And further orbs their twinkling sparks disclose:
Then lightly soars the meditative mind,
And leaves this little world and all its cares behind.
Now high reflected radiance richly warms
The blue horizon with vermilion streaks,
And of To-morrow’s renovated charms,
Propitiously the ev’ning glory speaks.
But why, oh Hope! will thy confiding heart
To-morrow’s pledge so credulously trust?
Deceitful as to-day will she depart,
Like her to ev’ry previous vaunt unjust.
Yet Hope’s enchantment robes the distant scene,
Fair seems To-morrow in perspective view,
False will she be, as former days have been,
But though the dream deceive, its bliss is true:
And still shall expectation fondly say,
To-morrow will be better than to-day.
Upon the silver willow’s trembling leaves
The varying hues of Ev’ning radiance glow,
Its last sigh there the breeze of sunset heaves,
And dimples with soft kiss the rill below.
The tenants of the field in pastime close
Their festive day, their verdant couch resume,
And silent nature sweetly breathes repose,
As Luna’s beams the twilight shade illume.
The balm and freshness of a summer eve,
Just as brown Night her starry eye unseals,
The languid qualms of baffled hope relieve,
And her sick heart for one blest moment heals.
Still may I, Evening, hear thy farewell sigh,
Whisper of peace, and on the willow die.
The Last Retreat of the Nightingale.
Tread softly, lest you interrupt her strains,
Nought but the Nightingale could breathe those notes;
She, urg’d by fervid June, from arid plains,
Her farewell song to these cool hills devotes.
Mark you that knoll by spreading beeches crown’d,
Down whose green side a silver riv’let streams,
And at its base describes a flower fring’d round,
Where to the Moon the quiv’ring aspin gleams:
There, at the verge where od’rous woodbines flaunt,
Where rears the low white cot its roof of straw,
Is Philomela’s latest annual haunt,
From Vecta’s summer’s sun ere she withdraw.
There is she, warbling now, list and be still,
For inspiration breathes in her melodious trill.
To the Moon in Clouds.
Daughter of Heav’n, Queen of the train of Night,
The silver glory of thy brows unveil,
The envious vapours dim thine eye of light,
And drizzling, on the sighing breezes sail,
Bid mourning Night assume her azure stole,
Shed on her dreary course the lambent flame.
That fires or melts to tenderness the soul,
And purifies the intellectual frame.
They whom affection joins and fortune parts
Make thee the centre of their distant views,
And from the sympathy of plighted hearts
Each feels that each the darling theme renews.
The lover’s prayer, the wand’rer’s fond desire,
Hear, Queen of Night, and bid the mist retire.
Sketch of an Outlaw.
These nodding battlements the dusk embrowns,
And that huge fractur’d and impending mass
Through the dark veil of night more sternly frowns,
And seems to shake, as waves its mantling grass.
View from that hollow oak of giant bulk,
Stay’d by the yawning wall, its branches prop,
In muffling garb the meager outlaw skulk,
Irresolutely fly, look round and stop.
He gazes, starts, and listens—all is still,
All but the breeze that waves his matted hair,
Then wildly speeds where purls the shallow rill,
Drinks, and explores the scrip one friend left there;
And fixing on the full orb’d Moon his sight,
Becomes a statue in her pensive light.
Wroxall! though thou art dreary, dull, and cold,
Though May, when she returns to cheer the isle,
Still finds thee numbed in Winter’s icy fold,
And scarcely warms thee with her parting smile;
Though ’mid the straggling cots about thee spread,
Nor sacred pile, nor manse, nor lordly dome,
Raises its tower’d, or meek, or haughty head;
I prize thee as my rustic peaceful home.
I love to steal along thy lonely ways,
Verg’d with wild flow’rs in ev’ning dew impearl’d,
Behold no mortal in my wide-stretch’d gaze,
And seem alone in a deserted world.
While in thy scenes I fancy charms that lie
But in a fond possessor’s partial eye.
The Cottager’s Evening
When blushing on the bosom of the main,
The sun in his cærulean path descends;
Seeking his cottage-home, the cheerful swain
Whistles, rejoicing one day’s labour ends.
For ’tis but pleasure for himself to toil,
To cultivate and store his narrow plot,
To hive his swarm, to teach the vine to coil
With willing clasp around his shelter’d cot,
While the full moon peeps o’er surrounding hills,
And pensive twilight lingers in her ray,
And his last notes the piping blackbird trills,
And infant voices join the peasant’s lay.
Content his days, repose his nights shall cheer,
Whose wishes still are bounded by his sphere.
What, infant Spring! though Winter’s breath embrown
Thy budding wreaths, thy frequent tears congeal;
Though sobbing gusts thy whisper’d promise drown,
Though veiling mists thy youthful charms conceal;
I mark the buds beneath thy finger rise,
And often hear thy voice, and feel thy sigh,
When through the parting clouds that gloom the skies
Gleams the blue lustre of thy humid eye.
But most I feel and greet thee, infant Spring!
In the light evening of increasing day,
When first the skylark tries his trembling wing,
And carols to the setting sun his lay.
Thy first touch, Spring, the whole creation thrills,
And ocean, earth, and air, with animation fills.
To a Thrush.
Dost thou, sweet Thrush! the youthful Spring salute,
And on her tender ear with rapture pour
The warbled triumph of a favour’d suit;
And for thy mate her shelt’ring hand implore?
Or did the object of thy early choice
With wing’d disdain repulse thy softest prayer?
And dost thou modulate thy mellow voice
To charm the gloomy spirit of despair?
Did she with partial flights thy love amuse,
Then mock, and leave thee, widow’d and forlorn?
And would’st thou not, wild minstrel, rather lose
The prize of cherish’d hope, by death, than scorn?
Whether unblest, or blest, still sweetly sing,
Or to propitiate, or to gladden spring.
The Vigil of May.
Welcome cold vigil of the gladsome day,
So greeted by the simple past’ral race;
But now, alas! the wish’d return of May
No festive tribes, with strains of rapture, grace.
Those better times, if e’er those times were known,
When Plenty, with Contentment, bless’d the shed,
And Innocence in hamlets found her throne,
Beyond remembrance and recal are fled.
But then it was, as ancient poets sung,
(And poets still throw fiction’s veil on truth)
That round the Maypole with fresh garlands hung,
Danc’d each fair nymph with her enamour’d youth;
And all, while purity their spirits guarded,
The dubious cautions of reserve discarded.
To tend’rer feeling, and more soft regret,
The pensive soul impulsively inclines,
When summer suns in temper’d glory set,
And Evening in her stole of amber shines;
Then, through the glowing ether’s trackless road
The constant spirit on a moon-beam rides
To the familiar, though remote, abode,
Where with one well belov’d the heart resides;
With true affection never thrill’d his breast,
His passion nought of sentiment implies,
Who, mindless of the being, lov’d the best,
Views the meek radiance of the Evening skies;
And when the heav’n with moving softness glows,
With cold indifference creeps to dull repose.
Invocation to the Spirit Said to Haunt Wroxall Down.
The solemn moon-beams fall, soft dews distil,
While now in pensive mood I lonely walk;
Come sullen spirit of the breezy hill,
Convince a sceptic, and before me stalk.
Skimm’st thou by night the heath’s impurpled bloom,
To view the rocks abrupt, and white sail’d bark,
While Luna’s rays the sea and coast illume,
Gilding stack’d farm, woods, meads, and mansion’d park? Appoldurcomb Park.
Wast thou a bard enkindling martial rage?
Wast thou a mighty chief in combat slain,
Still doom’d to haunt this once embattl’d stage,
And guard the barrow’d urns from aught profane?
Come, what thou wast, and what thou art reveal,
Show me what spirits are, and tell me what they feel.
To the Moon.
Thou muse-inspiring Moon! to science dear,
Dearer to thought, and love, thy crystal light
Shall still those finer sentiments excite
Which hallow to the mind, and heart thy sphere.
Bath’d in refreshing dew, the foliage sear
New verdure gains in thy refreshing sight,
While hold, celestial forms, with list’ning night,
High converse, audible to Fancy’s ear.
Trusting to thee such woes as shun the day,
Despair unfolds his arms; from his fixed eye
Slow rolls the big, cold tear its furrow’d way,
Soft’ning the pangs which other balms deny.
And pain approaching bliss, feels thy calm ray
Refine and tranquillize mad ecstacy.
What sullen sounds, with slow successive toll,
On the chill breath of low’ring evening swell!
To each deep stroke responds the sinking soul,
And chasten’d Fancy feels the solemn knell.
Its mournful peals her sportive smile dispel,
And fix attention on that gloomy goal
We soon must pass, nor e’er return to tell
What hidden laws the realm of death controul.
The heavy sounds with melancholy tone,
To Sympathy the last sad rites unfold,
She hears the long drawn sigh, the stifled groan,
As on the coffin breaks the scatter’d mould:
The woes which Sympathy thus makes her own,
A hallowed check on buoyant feeling hold.
The teeming earth with vegetation heaves,
As melts the rigour of the wint’ry gales,
The virgin Spring her bashful face unveils,
And in the sun her primrose garland weaves.
Her genial breathings the pale bloom receives,
On zephyr’s vagrant wing the odour sails,
The wand’ring bard th’ inspiring air inhales,
And with wild lays his raptur’d mind relieves.
When o’er the daisied lawn the breezes sigh,
With the sweet cowslip’s amber pendents play,
And on the bank of azure violets die—
On the red evening of an April day:
Frigid and tasteless are his heart and eye,
Who can, without delicious feelings, stray.
The Lone Retreat.
Now glows the sapphire vault with golden studs,
The Moon glides slowly o’er her cloudless way,
And with the silver brilliance of her ray
Impearls the dewy glades and rippling floods.
Now o’er the grassy path the lev’ret scuds,
Now seeks the screeching owl her vermin prey,
The night air whispers in the blossom’d spray,
And wafts the fragrance of the sweet-briar buds.
Calm quiet listens to the lamb’s low bleat,
The deep drawn breathings of recumbent kine,
And hears the waves their rocky barrier beat,
While on its beetling brow the soft beams shine:
Then night and silence, in the lone retreat,
From cloudy cares perturbed thoughts refine.
Now reeking toil, with wheat-ear chaplet crown’d,
Rules sovereign of the cultivated plain,
Nerves the exertions of the peasant train,
And of its treasure robs the generous ground:
’Ere Phœbus wakes his harbinger to sound
His splendid rising from the orient main,
Springs to commence his task, the sturdy swain,
And weariness in hearty cheer is drown’d.
The evening labours of the hind to light,
The favouring Moon her wonted wane suspends,
With her propitious beam the day extends,
And cheers the deepen’d gloom of lengthen’d night.
But ah! the year upon the harvest days
Sheds her last smile, and rapidly decays.
The Favourite Retreat.
Here Nature wildy waves her locks unshorn,
Each sylvan charm here artlessly combines,
And in exub’rant grace and beauty shines
With sweet Simplicity, her eldest born:
With lavish shoots, that all direction scorn,
On native bow’rs the fragrant woodbine twines,
The softest moss the thymy hillock lines,
And gay luxuriant flow’rs its slope adorn.
Here, where the hawthorn’s silver buds unclose,
When evening’s sighs upon the blossoms dwell,
And whence they stole their wafted odours tell,
Her listless length the lonely wand’rer throws:
While the untutor’d Muse attunes her shell,
And lulls corroding cares to calm repose.
Sadden’d with vapours, shiv’ring in the frost,
The torpid Muse when rigid Winter sways,
Too hoarse to warble e’en the lowest lays,
Bewails her lyre unstrung, her measures lost.
Can naked boughs with freezing rime emboss’d;
Can icicles reflecting gemmy rays;
Can long dark nights contracting cheerless days,
Or the pale sun by fleeting vapours cross’d;
Atone for hours when rose-wreath’d Summer smil’d,
When scattering balm and fruit she zoneless danc’d;
For brilliant suns with black clouds undefil’d,
For clear short nights, when soft-ey’d Dian glanc’d
Through silver’d shades, or on the heathy wild,
With fuller lustre, raptur’d thought, entranc’d?
To the New Moon.
Their lucid growth, refulgent from their wane,
Thy pearly horns, fair crescent, now renew,
Silvering the starry vault’s ethereal blue,
And whitening with soft light the shadowy plain.
Who can, observing thee, the wish restrain,
That thus there could to youth and hope accrue
A renovation of their pristine hue?
But youth and hope extinct ne’er shine again.
When thus the dim stars fled thy orb’s increase,
Often have I, as now, reflecting stood,
Just touching melancholy’s sacred mood,
Let my rapt soul on faded prospects brood,
And found regret, and perturbation cease,
As ruffled feeling caught thy aspect’s hallowed peace.
Less lovely art thou, Day, in beamy vest,
Dancing before thine ardent bridegroom’s car,
While active toil and busy nature war,
With meditation in the musing breast—
Than matron Night in sober trappings drest,
When calmly following Evening’s dewy star,
She comes the western gate of light to bar,
And wraps a weary world in silent rest.
Less sweet, loud Day, that symphony of notes
Which every woodland chorister promotes;
Than when shrill echoing through the shady dale,
The wakeful bird to night her plaint devotes,
Varies through every key her thrilling wail,
And at each dying pause renews her tale.
Well does thy gentle taste, my friend, exalt
The laughing splendour of the sunny day,
And flooded with the golden noontide ray
The summer glories of the azure vault.
But I, when quiv’ring fires in darkness play,
Its fury when the summer tempest wreaks,
When awful thunder rolls its solemn way,
And, tongu’d by Heaven, to shrinking mortals speaks,
And when the spirit of the whirlwind shrieks,
Shrill sweeping by, with horror on his crest,
Hail the great scenes Imagination seeks,
As those which suit my moody temper best.
My soaring thoughts upon the lightning rise,
And, where the flash disparts them, pierce the skies.
Loud, louder still, resounds the thundering peal;
The troubled deep reflects the vivid flash;
Their bounds with deepen’d roar the white waves dash,
And yon black, billowy clouds their slow course wheel.
Mournful, amid the elemental crash,
Their hollow, broken groans the rais’d winds deal,
The sighing copses, bending to their lash,
Scarcely the frighted, moaning herd conceal.
Let fear, within the closet’s gloom, deter
Them whose weak hearts amid the tempest shrink:
May I, whene’er these awful scenes occur,
Stand on this clefted rock’s indented brink;
Here with the Genius of the Storm confer,
And let my soul from Grandeur’s fountain drink.
Morning! the Muse rejects thee as her theme;
Thy breath ne’er kindled her poetic fire;
She never felt thy renovating beam,
Make vocal hers, as erst old Memnon’s lyre.
Morning! with thee no solemn stillness dwells;
Action, light, life, and joy before thee play;
The settling thoughts thy moving scene dispels,
And interrupts the meditated lay,
Preceded by the shrill-voic’d herald lark.
Morn, in thy court the King of Day may reign;
But more I love the glimmering glow-worm’s spark,
And, in the moonlight glade, the night-bird’s strain.
Yet frown not on me, though unsung, sweet Morn!
For charms like thine could my weak lays adorn!
Personification.030 C3v 031 C4r 31
When Love releas’d thy erst unfetter’d tongue,
Thou mover of the passions! thy sweet lyre
The tender god to soft expression strung,
And tun’d to Feeling’s voice the vocal wire.
Still to those tones the faithful string responds,
And speaks not to the heart but in that key;
For Nature, by indissoluble bonds,
United Feeling and true Poesy.
Where Feeling is not, by no studied lore
An unblest bard awakes a touching strain;
His heavy measures drag, or feebly soar;
The breast they move not, though they reach the brain.
Exalted, genuine Poesy! thy chart
Shows from the head the passage to the heart.
Thou com’st upon Imagination’s wing,
Invention, to inspire the poet’s dream;
To harmonize the wildly-warbling string,
And give to tender Sentiment a theme.
When the strong line comes rushing on the thought,
When powerful feeling in expression breaks,
Thou, child of Genius! by thy parent taught,
Find’st the conveyance which that feeling seeks.
Thy faculties no narrow bounds confine;
The incidents of life, at thy command,
To form for thee, still varying groupes, combine,
And yield new subjects to thy plastic hand.
Inspir’d by thee, poetic visions teem
With incidents prepar’d in Nature’s scheme.
The Native Muse.
Thee, native Muse! thou solace of my days,
Thou sole Nepenthe of external care,
Who smooth’st my passage o’er uneven ways;
Who from my spirit driv’st the fiend Despair;
Who for my pastime, in Seclusion’s hours,
Tun’st thy wild lyre, beguiling languid Thought
From the prospective where dark Fortune tow’rs,
And bring’st the balm which Hope so vainly sought;
Thee shall I quit—my last and sole resource!—
Because thou art untutor’d, plain, and wild?
Thee, dearly lov’d! from my fond mind divorce,
And wed, in lieu, scholastic Form’s cold child?
Stern critics may thy homeliness contemn,
But what are they to thee, or what are thou to them?
Power of the well-compos’d and manner’d mien,
Of chasten’d feeling and experience born,
Who never see’st what better were unseen,
Who from contempt withhold’st the whip of scorn—
Discretion! thee, so long unknown, I woo!
O’er warm emotion with cold hand preside,
The impulse which, indulg’d, would harm, subdue,
And to propriety rash conduct guide.
Discretion! thee I call; and should’st thou hear,
Teach me to seem unhurt when prob’d and sore;
Suppress the ill-tim’d smile, th’unbidden tear;
Wrongs let me bear as though no wrongs I bore;
Me, teacher of expediences! amend,
Till my stiff nature to endurance bend.
What airy form in varying vest appears?
Her changeful looks a fickle mind display,
Like clouds and sunshine of an April day,
Her sudden frown or smile congeals or cheers.
Lur’d by her strain, her easy dupes forget
That friendship is a plant of gradual growth,
That falsehood lurks within the oft-sworn oath,
That love unmerited leaves but regret.
Affection dwells not in her fond embrace.
Break from her fold; her proffer’d kindness spurn;
For she will warmly clasp; then coldly turn,
And gaze on yours as on a strangers face.
Shun her, Credulity! and surely know
From true esteem professions rarely flow.
Shun that thin form, compos’d of Hate and Scorn:
She gives her sharpness to the air she breathes;
She blights the fruits in Plenty’s brimful horn,
And nettles binds in Pleasure’s rosy wreaths.
Banish the witch! she but exists to tease,
To aggravate, and to engender ill!
To coil a serpent round the heart of Ease,
And Comfort’s most delightful warmth to chill.
Sour Discontent, as life’s worst foe, abjure!
To weal or bliss she forms the fellest bar:
Her shadow will the clearest views obscure;
A cherub symphony her discords mar.
Without her, smiling Joy the cottage crowns!
With her, the palace as a dungeon frowns!
Reserve! cold mistress of the manner’d mind!
Whose mean, repulsive form Politeness hides
Beneath the mask of Deference refin’d,
Which still assents, but never once confides.
Preceptress of the deep and sanction’d guile,
Trust to entice without return of trust!
To counterfeit Good-Nature’s winning smile!
While at thy heart the social feelings rust.
Ne’er was this breast for thy direction made:
At thy approach instinctively it shrinks,
And clings more closely to the honest shade
Where speaks Veracity what Nature thinks.
I like thee not, when by Politeness drest;
But thee, by Rudeness rob’d, I must detest!
Hiding his quiver in a flowery coil—
Demure, with lip just curv’d, and flashing eye—
Wrapped in a cloak, the vulgar guess to foil—
Behold the subtile archer, Irony!
From all engagement in the angry broil,
Will, with reverted aim, his arrows ply,
And, slily, his antagonist despoil.
Hark! he harangues the mute, surrounding tribe!
What smooth applause his specious tongue conveys:
But sense and conscious shame detect the gibe,
Which lurks to wound the heart in undue praise.
While Vanity, exulting, looks around,
And loses all the meaning in the sound.
To thee, inspirer of the hallow’d train
Of kind emotions, Sympathy! to thee
Friendship and Love a votive wreath decree,
And bless the tender influence of thy reign.
Thy tears have power to sooth the fiercest pain,
The sinking heart of half its load to free:
Thy cheering smiles to Rapture’s highest key
Raise and refine Enjoyment’s lively strain.
As Feeling leads, thou seek’st the lonely bow’r
Where solitary Grief retires and weeps;
Or that where social Joy his revels keeps,
And blithly laughs away the jocund hour.
Thou zest of bliss, thou balm of mortal woe,
From thee the charities of Nature flow!
Why view the sage with such suspicious eyes?
Why from him turn as from a secret foe,
Because he says Deceit too often lies
Conceal’d beneath Endearment’s specious show?
He warns thee only to avert the blow
Of Disappointment, and prevent the grief,
The bitter tears, which from her fountain flow,
And leave thee rueful of thy fond belief.
He cautions thee but of a lurking thief,
Who comes to steal thy peace, he tells thee nought,
Save that of knowledge immature and brief.
The bond of amity is rarely wrought.
Experience fosters doubt; and age receives
Professions with distrust, and proves ere it believes.
Prosperity! to gild thy summer day
The cloudless sun of partial favour shines,
And blooming fully in the fervid ray,
With Pleasure’s roses Love’s green myrtle twines,
And with their lavish blossoms strew thy way.
Allur’d by thee, from her superior height
The Muse descends; and, blushing, wreathes her bay
To grace thy brow, and with her robe of light
Thy form invests.—Why change the scenes so bright?
Why sinks the sun? Why droop thy clustered flowers?
Why falls thy chaplet? And what adverse powers
Rend and distain thy vesture erst so white?
Alas! for thee, in black Misfortune’s shade,
The beams of Favour, Love, and Pleasure, fade!
Were you attracted by th’enlivening song
Of youthful Mirth? and in its festive bow’rs
Did you, amid the animated throng,
Steal from the grasp of Care some joyous hours?
Yes: then you felt the renovating powers
Of Pleasure’s draught; for Innocence, still gay,
Enwreath’d the goblet with her vernal flowers,
Infusing freely, in her frolic play,
Her height’ning zest: and bore not you away
A soul by Rapture’s thrilling touch refin’d?
A Muse that felt, in her awaked lay,
The inspiration of a gladden’d mind?
Go: thus again the moody hours employ,
For Wisdom loves the glee of Guileless Joy!
Thou Death! eternal sleep! the great man’s grief!
The low one’s hope! th’inevitable end!
The close of light and life! th’unsated thief,
In whom all things in dissolution blend!
From thee I shrink not, world-subduing chief!
Nor from thy certain shaft this breast defend!
Here take thy aim! and be thy threat’ning brief.
Thou canst not hurt, but while thy strokes impend.
Thy black parade—thy heart-depressing knell—
The deep, cold silence of thy narrow cell—
Its arching sward, compos’d of kindred mould,
The brown, loose joints which shrinking tendons hold—
Shock not the dead! yet these thy horrors swell,
Appal the timid, and arrest the bold!
Of bold Presumption and blind Error bred—
With changeful figure and excursive wing,
Fac’d half like Truth, but tongued with Scandal’s sting—
See busy Rumour rise, and round her spread
Uncertain hopes and panic-striking dread;
And when her shouts and whisper’d hisses ring,
Behold her to her devious parents cling,
And in their shadow hide her dubious head.
Strive you to trace and crush her? Lo! she shifts
Through every subterfuge of mean Disguise!
Adown Opinion’s floating surface drifts,
Or in the clouds of Prejudice she flies!
Her, if she fall, protecting Malice lifts;
And Rumour, thus supported, never dies.
Spirit of bliss! whose magic charms ne’er tire;
Who wak’st the languid passions when they dose;
Whose changeful beauty stimulates desire,
If it in sameness of delight repose.
On cloying Pleasure’s mantling tide respire,
Impel the current which too feebly flows,
And with a vivid spirit feed the fire,
Which, clogg’d with one dull oil, too dimly glows.
The uniformity of excellence,
Less than inferior merit, grac’d by thee,
Wrests Admiration from inconstant Sense,
Brings to the heart a less persuasive plea.
To zest enjoyment thy pure boons dispense,
Joyless is Joy without Variety.
Nymph of the laughing eye, and sportive mien,
In whose blithe smile exists a potent spell
To charm the spirit of the moody spleen,
And from thy circle the black fiend expel,
Come, Cheerfulness! and in my bosom dwell!
Me from disquieting emotions wean:
Teach me the tones, that, thrilling from thy shell
Arouse the dormant joys of each dull scene;
The lighter ills of life—a countless train—
That in their bud the blooms of Pleasure blast;
That taint, on Plenty’s board, the sweet repast,
And wither Comfort with corrosive bane;—
These ills—in social scenes so thickly strown—
Where Cheerfulness presides, are ills unknown!
Idol of ardent Youth’s impassion’d pray’r!
God of the flushing cheek and glance of fire!
Whose inspiration wakes the sleeping lyre!
Who cheatest Fancy with thy forms of air!
Thy sacrifice let other hands prepare:
Remotely, wily boy! let me admire
Thy purple light, and bloom of young Desire.
Adapt for love my heart, but come not there.
Mine be it to conceive, not feel thy sway.
Upon me, at unhurtful distance, shine;
But ne’er may I, in blind submission, lay
My reason, peace, and judgment, on thy shrine!
Enough of thee—though I not thee adore—
I know, to pity them who know thee more!
Poets, locality to Peace assign,
And feign her inmate of the rustic cot,
Whose walls are shaded by the cluster’d vine,
Whose casement opens on a blooming plot.
When views the wand’rer a sequester’d spot,
Where Nature and her handmaid Neatness shine,
In fancy, Peace is there; her simple lot
A rustic nymph, not of the servile line.
To her, the flow’rets seem to owe their bloom,
The bowering umbrage its luxuriant shoot;
Her breath to lend the breeze its rich perfume;
Her glow to redden in the ripening fruit.
He says—while rapturous forms his thoughts combine—
Sure, Peace dwells here! and oh! that Peace were mine!
Fetter my senses with thy chain of lead,
Likeness of Death! of life the better part.
Remove the weight that presses down my heart,
And quell the terrors that perturb my head.
Let lightsome images with feathery tread,
In shapes and scenes best lov’d, around me start;
And that no gloom th’illusive joy may thwart,
Dispel the phantoms of portentous Dread.
Those long-past days, benignant Dreams, restore,
Ere cold Experience damp’d Hope’s vivid glow,
And life the aspect of enjoyment wore.
So far indulg’d, I yet a boon implore,
Greater than man or fortune can bestow—
Perpetuate the dream, and let me wake no more!
Thou, potent mistress of the viewless spells!
Whose magic touch upon the passions plays,
Moves without beauty, without reason sways,
And in Discretion’s spite the heart impels!
With thee, Enchantress! fickle Cupid dwells;
And near thee sweet Persuasion ever stays,
With powers to force involuntary praise,
Even when Judgment at Applause rebels.
Thou, to Simplicity and grace allied,
And by well hidden bonds to Art enchain’d;
Whose hand round Venus erst that cestus tied,
Which Juno borrow’d and her Jove regain’d—
Though Learning awe, Wit dazzle, Beauty warm,
Thou, Fascination! art the general charm.
Darting empoison’d arrows, Slander flies
O’er the plain tract which Thoughtlessness pursues:
Her breath with bane the vital air imbues:
Hisses and taunting scoffs around her rise.
Provoke her not, nor her attack despise:
Her slightest touch your future peace will mar;
Prudence alone the saving aid supplies,
Which her attempt on Innocence can bar.
Never, in her despite, with Custom war.
Avenging violated forms, she deals
A wound, which, healing, leaves a frightful scar,
If e’er, by smiling Conscience staunch’d, it heals.
Foil’d, in Decorum’s shrine, her weapons lie—
Go worship there, and the foul fiend defy.
Friendship, benignant daughter of the spheres!
To aid, console, and heal the bruised mind;
To shed a cordial comfort on mankind;
Led by strict Faith and mild Regard, appears:
Upon the heart her sacred spirit cheers;
Their talisman the kindred virtues bind;
There Honour glows, with Confidence enshrin’d,
And Sympathy her hallow’d altar rears.
Dauntless she tow’rs; while every form of woe,
Which on misfortune and on man attends,
On her firm breast its trying fury spends.
She, like the rock, while rage the waves below,
Will stand, where she in native strength ascends,
Till Fate to Nature deals the final blow.
Who, with meek face, and eye of deference, glides
To gen’ral love, and yet whom each arraigns;
Whose art, for polish’d, social life, provides
The daily bread which its frail form sustains?
She Flattery is: where’er she sanction gains,
She boldly snares the weak; and o’er the wise,
That she may throw her mind-degrading chains,
And win shy Confidence, each wile she tries:
Implores, in humble Merit’s bashful guise;
Enchants, as candid Friendship neatly drest;
Imposes, in blunt Honesty’s plain vest;
And lulls Suspicion, when conceal’d she lies
In Censure’s hood. She thus her end achieves;
Nor lives there one whom Flattery ne’er deceives!
One still observant of the mode, and smart;
With simpering face, and briskly wand’ring eye;
More form’d to catch the view than seize the heart;
Varies her airs, and prattling trips it by.
Observe you how her restless glances fly
Around the circle, watchful of the gaze
Of wondering Folly? while, smooth-tongued and sly,
Flattery supports her with suspicious praise.
Who knows not Vanity? her influence sways
The better part of men: to her they give,
With fealty most true, their nights and days;
For her they study, speak, move, act, and live;
Yet they, whose lives no other rule have known,
The sovereignty of Vanity disown.
Tributes of Respect to Particular Friends, and Addresses to Other Persons.056 D4v 057 D5r 57
To the Rev. Thomas Dalton, Rector of Northwood, Isle of Wight.
Ere that my thoughts to other claims I bend,
Let me proclaim the sacred debt I owe
To thee, preceptor! second father! friend!
From whom proceeds the little all I know.
When, helpless, I near Folly’s vortex stray’d,
A giddy being, by rash Impulse led,
Thou, pitying, saw’st; and, reaching timely aid,
Preserv’dst me from the snares Example spread;
And often now, in retrospective mood,
I view my state, and feel the truths so taught,
That mere existence was a dubious good,
And life’s best pleasures lay in cultur’d thought.
Still shall my grateful pray’rs thy name include,
And my last sigh shall breathe my gratitude.
To a Friend Who Requested an Epitaph From the Author.
Poetic thoughts and measur’d diction fly,
When grateful friendship feels a mortal blow;
No music rises with the genuine sigh,
And silence is the eloquence of woe.
Could I with epitaph inscribe thy tomb?
By composition’s rule thy merit mete?
No; let a firmer heart and pen assume
A task which sorrow never could complete.
Yet would I mark thy grave with genuine tears,
And wish its deep repose were rather mine;
That I had died, and my remaining years
Imparted length to such a life as thine.
My humble name may’st thou surviving save,
And with thy talents consecrate my grave!
To Mrs. Macgregor, on Her Departure for Madeira.
Adieu, my friend! the wish’d, the farewell lay
Take, as it freely flows from warm esteem;
That with regret, while you remotely stray,
Will make your gentle worth a frequent theme.
Now in your mind contending feelings rise—
Sorrow and chasten’d Joy by turns command—
Held to your home by Kindred’s bosom ties,
And drawn away by Hymen’s stronger band.
Then go, my friend! where happy Hymen draws,
To green Madeira’s mild, vine-shaded isle;
And may success await and crown your cause,
Should chance your steps to further climes beguile.
But hear the sigh your social circle heaves,
Where none can fill the void your absence leaves.
To Mrs. Hadfield.
Of adulation ne’er the strain accuse
When Truth the lyre of Eulogy assumes;
The noblest office of the honest Muse,
The limner who your character designs,
Charms wholly feminine should clearly trace;
Right sense and bending ease should mark the lines,
And softest candour blend with polish’d grace.
From cares connubial and maternal, rise
The fairest specimens of female worth;
And honor in domestic virtue lies,
Of which no talent can supply the dearth.
And you, my friend, whose friendship forms my boast,
In woman’s highest province shine the most.
To Miss T—v—n, on Discovering Her Poetical Talent.
Admir’d I flow’rets in the gay parterre,
Knotted by whim in fanciful conceits,
Which claim attention by obtrusive glare,
And pall the finer sense with vulgar sweets?
And o’er the violet pass’d my heedless eye,
As she from notice modestly withdrew,
And on the dewy evening’s balmy sigh
Her taintless fragrance diffidently threw?
Now, as I mark the fair retiring bloom,
Mark, and distinguish from the primrose flower,
I bless the gale which bore her fresh perfume,
And drew my steps within the shelt’ring bow’r.
May culture, lovely blossom of the shade!
The opening faculties of nature aid.
To Mary H——, My Cousin.
With deep concern and sympathy, I view
Thee, Mary, lovely, juvenile, and pure,
With musing mien the studious walk pursue,
Where Pleasure draws with Information’s lure.
Seek not amusements, simple maid, which wind,
To painful tension, Feeling’s tender ties;
Which to expansion raise the powers of mind,
While narrow Fortune wrings them as they rise.
Correct this habit, Mary, as thy bane;
Thy senses, now too keen, let dulness sear;
Join the illiterate, vulgar, and inane;
Confine thy joys and notions to thy sphere:
And when thou canst not modify the light,
Above its action ne’er refine thy sight.
To the Same.
Nor seek thou for thyself a vocal shell;
Nor let thy soul in ecstasy ascend,
As its first faint and artless warblings swell.
Nor, while thy infant Muse her carol hymns,
To Fancy’s imag’ry thy mind devote,
And as the earth in dark oblivion swims,
On smooth Illusion’s treach’rous current float.
But thou, alas! to common life restrain’d,
Must, by its range, thy expectations bound;
Or were to higher ranks thy passport gain’d,
Duty would bind thee to thy native ground.
Then, Mary, trust, and be, so trusting, blest:
The goods within our sphere befit us best.
To a Friend.
I would indeed, my friend, that peace were thine;
That Fortune’s wrongs of thee were all redress’d;
I wish thee ease, another ease than mine,
Not the indiff’rence of a hardening breast.
Ne’er be thou stung till stings no more molest;
But to my prayer for thee may heav’n incline,
And Chance with Nature thee to bless combine,
’Till thou art, Anne, in all thy wishes blest.
Envy thou not my solitary ease,
But ponder on its consequence and cost,
The wish departing with the pow’r to please,
And pleasure with the pow’r of pleasing lost.
A dire probation must thy bosom steel,
Ere thou canst calmly sit, and cease to feel.
To the Same Friend.
As the soft flower, engemm’d with glitt’ring dew,
Its meek and blushing head to earth inclines,
But soon revives its tone and brilliant hue,
When cheering Phœbus in his glory shines;
As o’er its petals lucid dew-drops glide,
And still the blossom bright and dry remains,
More sweetly glowing from the grateful tide,
Without or humid trace or with’ring stains:
So now thou droop’st thy lovely head, my friend;
So pearly tears thy rosy cheek suffuse;
So shall, ere long, a happy light ascend,
To chase the woe which that fresh cheek bedews.
Nor will that vanish’d woe have left its gloom,
To chill thy breast, or to impair thy bloom.
To Miss Owenson.
Daughter of genius, sentiment, and soul,
Whom nature, youth, and tenderness inspire;
And who, like Plato, hides the poet’s lyre
Beneath impassion’d Rhetoric’s graceful stole;
Enchanting Owenson! who best portrays,
In vivid hues, luxuriant as refin’d,
The changeful features of the female mind,
Accept an unknown sister’s humble lays:
She loves your flight of thought, your native taste,
And more, that, while through Feeling’s every stage
You lead the heart, strict Virtue hails the page
As love and innocence, as warm and chaste;
And Admiration rears her gaze to you,
As the fair type from which you Ida drew.
To H. Harrington, M.D. of Bath.
Wilt thou, oh Harrington! whose Muse, refin’d
By classic grace, th’ Aonian heights explor’d;
Whose healing arts restor’d thy suffering kind;
Whose harmony rejoic’d the race restor’d;
Wilt thou, in whom are sciences combin’d,
Which erst in their inventors were ador’d,
My simple minstrelsy a smile afford,
And deign to wear the wreath which rev’rence twin’d?
May I presume to lift a rustic braid
Upon that oak whose verdure never dies;
And, while its tow’ring head ascends the skies,
Preserve the transient bloom beneath its shade?
Too soon the lustre of my chaplet dies,
But nought of Harrington shall ever fade.
Miscellaneous Pieces.071 D12r 71
Decline of Autumn.
What though the rip’ning berry’s ruby blush
Thro’ the thin veil of mellow’d verdure glows;
What tho’ rich Ceres spreads her golden flush,
And o’er the laughing vales abundance throws:
Though softer gales and bluer sky prevails,
And tho’ the sun with temper’d ardour shines,
Enjoyment still Hope’s better bliss bewails,
And ’mid full Autumn’s stores for Spring repines.
When early Evening’s gloomy curtain falls,
When rising winds in scatter’d foliage rave,
Those lengthening days the sinking heart recalls,
When those sear leaves their budding promise gave;
And every breeze that fann’d the locks of Spring
Brought hope and joyance on its balmy wing.
The Deserted Cottage.
Ev’n o’er this humble cot Desertion throws
Dark Melancholy’s heart-depressing chill;
Now on its hearth no crackling brushwood glows,
The ear no shouts of cherub children fill.
In this small plot, with grass and weeds o’ergrown,
Grew ruddy cloves, pinks, aromatic thyme;
The topaz wall-flow’r bloom’d in crevic’d stone,
And tender myrtle brav’d the changeful clime;
Neglect and Solitude their cold marks stamp,
And o’er forsaken homes like horror shed,
As o’er the mortal house when quench’d life’s lamp,
And stillness, shews the tenant spirit fled.
The heart of man, for social feelings made,
Will ever droop in Desolation’s shade.
On the Death of Ruth Walker,
The consumptive darling daughter of a very poor and old woman.
Then, wretched widow, thy lov’d child is dead,
Consum’d by fell Disease’s lingering tooth;
Ne’er o’er her cheek Health’s rosy bloom was shed;
E’en now I see, slow stalking, pallid Ruth.
Widow! thou sigh’st, by no kind tears reliev’d;
Thy child of age, the partner of thy youth,
Are gone forever. Now, of all bereav’d,
Thou droop’st in mute despair o’er silent Ruth.
Thee (still as she) sole inmate of thy room,
Thine only room, no sympathy can sooth;
While round thee hangs deep Sorrow’s awful gloom,
And fixt thy glaz’d sunk eyes on lifeless Ruth.
Withered Roses of Pleasure.
How lingers Thought on those departed scenes
Where Time’s dull foot assum’d Enjoyment’s wings;
But Pleasure’s wither’d roses Mem’ry gleans,
And o’er the urn of Hope the garland flings.
Frigid and gloomy is the deep’ning shade
Which parted joys o’er present misery throw,
Their ling’ring spirits every spot invade,
And rise to break the bleeding heart of Woe.
If Hope beguile, she blesses as she cheats;
But Mem’ry with high colours falsely paints,
Casts in our cup the dregs of long-drain’d sweets,
And with regret the passing pleasure taints.
Hope’s slightest promise more true bliss bestows
Than e’er from Mem’ry’s dearest records rose.
The Widow’s Re-Marriage.
While her fond heart against the deed rebels,
While to her buried lord her hopes ascend,
Maternal love the widow’s vows impels,
To gain her only child one fost’ring friend.
True to the mem’ry of her former love,
Rather a victim than a bride she seems;
Her feign’d and cheerless smiles deep sighs reprove;
From her dim eye the tear unbidden streams;
Sorrow conflicts with duty in her breast.
The mournful privilege of grief destroy’d,
Too feelingly her glowing looks attest
Esteem can never fill Affection’s void;
And prove, that, in the heart which lov’d indeed,
No second choice can to the first succeed.
The Widow to Her Only Son.
Go, boy! thy widow’d mother’s only stay,
With all the fortune that its wrecks afford,
Thy father’s name, his glory and his sword,
Fight thro’ a boist’rous world thy troubled way.
The spotless honours of an ancient name
To thee, the last of all thy race, descend;
And may they now with thy existence end
Rather than catch from thee a tinge of shame.
To rear thy tender age I strove with pain,
Nor want, nor toil, for thee refus’d to meet;
Yet be it mine to weave thy winding-sheet,
If thou in Glory’s cause no trophy gain.
Go—and remember, seeking Glory’s crown,
That nought but Virtue leads to true renown.
The Widow to Her Dead Son.
Then thou art gone, my son! and with thee goes
My heart’s, my widow’d heart’s, sole earthly stay!
Soon o’er me, too, thy father’s grave shall close;
Soon shall we join with him the cherub’s lay.
With him I liv’d a few short years of bliss:
He died—and I existed but for thee,
For thee whose being form’d the pride of his!
Now, thou art dead, and life has nought for me:
And though, alas! in thy untimely fall,
Again, to me, thy honour’d father dies,
Yet would I not the brave exploit recall,
Which lifts our name with glory to the skies!
Would heaven indulge me with a choice of sons,
Thee, dead, I should prefer to twenty living ones. Duke of Ormond.
On Revisiting the Cottage
Of a poor old man deceased, on whom I was in the habit of calling.
Why, buried tenant of this falling shed,
As still expecting thee, look I around,
And, missing in the chimney-nook thy head,
Glance o’er the garden’s now uncultur’d ground?
There none to welcome me his labour leaves,
Nor culls with grateful hand the choicest fruit;
But there her swarming web the blight-worm weaves,
And o’er the dying grafts the wild stocks shoot.
Long may I seek, but thee shall never meet;
Ne’er sooth again the oft-repeated woes,
Now deeply lull’d in that profound retreat,
Where every human suffering finds repose;
And often now, upon thy tombless heap,
I pause, half envying thy untroubled sleep.
Heed not the clashing element’s affray,
But, bowing down thy head, its force evade;
The storms which fret thee waste the troubled Day,
And bring still Evening on with all her shade.
Quickly will life and its turmoils decay;
The throbbing heart will beat itself to rest;
And while vexations on thy spirits prey,
They speed the hour which nothing shall molest.
Thine eye beyond the present isthmus cast
On the vast track before thee, and behind
The shadowy future, and the dreary past,
The opening stage and gulf of human kind.
No beam to cheer thee from that future glows,
And soon o’er thee and thine the gulf shall close.
To One Who Affected Insensibility.
So! thou art calm, insensible, and chill,
Proficient in the art of self controul,
And canst subdue thy feelings to thy will,
And look unmov’d when quakes convuls’d thy soul?
Talk thou to others thus, but not to me;
To me who pierce the foldings of thy mind,
And can, beneath its feign’d indiff’rence, see
A sensibility too much refin’d.
Have I not mark’d thee turning oft to quell
Or hide th’emotions of thy lab’ring breast?
And oft, to wipe the rebel tear which fell
Upon the cheek, in smiles most falsely dress’d?
Thou from the world may’st veil thy deep deceit,
But one who practises detects the cheat.
I mourn to see thee—thee! in guile unskill’d,
On the fair promise, pledg’d without design,
So fondly thus thy schemes of pleasure build;
So, in security compos’d, recline.
Thou little reck’st how manifold the ways
Evasion finds to break Engagement’s bound;
And still to seem, while from its pale she strays,
By Honour guided from the sacred ground.
Thou seest not danger in that subtle speech,
Which binds the faith, and gives no mutual ties;
Heeds lit’ral truth, but mocks its virtual breach,
And thy attempt at seizing proof defies.
Thou know’st not these; and would’st thou know them not,
All courtier promises from mem’ry blot.
On Seeing the Miniature of the Late Miss Joliffe.
Once—and to me still present are the days,
Tho’ swallow’d in the gulf of former years—
I saw those blue eyes dart Affection’s rays,
Or lovelier beam through sympathetic tears.
That smile, the language of the blandest mind,
To hope and tenderness could thaw despair;
And, to those teeth, poor are the pearls which bind
The glossy tangles of that pale brown hair.
Those eyes, those lips, are clos’d to ope no more;
The dust of death those wavy tresses soils;
On that smooth bosom, and the heart it bore,
The flesh-worm banquets, and, reposing, coils.
By what thou wast, I judge what angels are—
Canst thou arise more virtuous or more fair?
On Visiting the Decayed and Uninhabited Abode of My Late Grandfather.
In this lone scene, fast sinking in decay,
What sweet illusions, cheating thought, restore;
Those happy hours of childhood’s fleeting day,
Which, save in Fancy’s dreams, return no more!
O’er this sunk porch, with grass and grey moss lin’d,
The fruitful fig her mantling verdure threw;
Round her dark bole the honeysuckle twin’d,
And at her foot the spring’s first violets grew.
On that cold hearth, glaz’d with the dew-snail’s slime;
On those oak seats, with hoary mould defil’d,
Sat an ag’d pair, form’d in the good old time,
And on their children’s children fondly smil’d.
But they are gone; and Winston must deplore,
Like me, the days which can return no more.
The Same Subject.
What visions of past times and joys arise,
What fond regrets on pensive feeling prey,
When, o’er a natal dwelling in decay,
Maturity, with life disgusted, sighs!
Once, when all nature glow’d with Hope’s first gloss,
Near this rent wall, then barely crack’d, I stood,
To watch the red-breast tend her callow brood,
And o’er the crevice drew the shelt’ring moss.
Where thrusts the crocus through the matted sward,
Her bloom of silver, gold, and azure hue,
Cultur’d by me, the choicest flow’rets grew,
And but to call them mine was my reward.
Return, ye hours, ye thoughts, from trouble free,
When trifles joyed, and joy was ecstasy!
To a Child.
While you, blest child, with cares unburthen’d, wend
Chaunting wild ditties, through the woodland bowers,
Why cull, to cast away, the flaunting flowers,
And, gathering more, your arms and vestments rend?
Are those unpluckt more fragrant or more gay
Than were the blooms now lying at your feet?
Ah, no! they were as lovely, fresh, and sweet;
But, gain’d with ease, with scorn were thrown away.
The temper of your more mature pursuit
I now behold in its expanding germ,
The object priz’d for expectation’s term,
For distant flowers, forsaken present fruit;
Your life in quest of future goods employ’d,
And of the goods possess’d, not one enjoy’d.
On the Perusal of the Poems of Miss T—, Published 1808.
Her natural bias woman should correct,
Not melt her waxen mind at Passion’s flame;
With life her purity of thought protect,
And let her studies brace her mental frame.
If for her pen she frigid subjects choose,
She makes them with her glowing spirit warm;
Woman’s will ever be a tender Muse,
Which throws in rugged themes a softening charm.
Learn’d Carter, pious Moore, and Barbauld, knew
To lull the passions while the feelings woke;
Affection’s chasten’d sentiments they drew,
But ne’er in vapid Love’s weak jargon spoke.
Men write from thought—our strains from feel— ing flow—
Then pure as ardent may that feeling glow.
The ancient bards amid the sanguine fray,
While savage chiefs their scythe-arm’d chariots wheel’d,
Pour’d in the warrior’s ear the ardent lay,
And his bare breast with Valour’s buckler steel’d.
They sang—The souls of valiant men who die
To save their country, or their rights assert,
Around mankind as watchful guardians fly,
Their good accelerate, their ills avert.
A vivid flame, from fires celestial drawn,
The epic Muse around the hero throws;
Which, as the day-star of a glorious dawn,
Predictive of meridian splendour, glows.
Favour’d are they whose names the Muses crown,
Thrice favour’d they who give those names renown.
On the Tomb of Mrs. Joseph Kirkpatrick.
Cold as the mildew’d tomb which guards thy rest,
And keeps inviolate thy mould’ring bones,
Must be the throbbing tenant of this breast
When it thy claim of gratitude disowns.
Me and thy child, now, as myself, mature,
Thy cares instructed by the toys of youth;
To information drew by pleasure’s lure,
And led from trifles to important truth.
I owe to thee the bias of my thought,
And now from thy low grave ascends my pray’r,
My grateful pray’r, for thee whose kindness sought
And screen’d my childhood from a tainted air.
If consciousness be thine, oh! may my sighs
As grateful incense to thy spirit rise.
When on the earth the shade of Midnight steals,
When Guilt and Mis’ry on their pallets toss,
The eye of Ease and Health, Composure seals,
And no appalling dreams its slumbers cross.
Toil and fatigue will render soft the bed
That lightly swells not with elastic down,
And smooth the pillow for the weary head,
Though no composing bowl the senses drown.
When Fortune’s shaft the guileless bosom rends,
When sighs the spirit with its wakeful woes,
Hope at the couch of Innocence attends,
And lulls the troubled mind to calm repose:
Ev’n where Distress and Agony combine,
An easy Conscience yields an anodyne.
Hail! blest return of that once happy day
Which recollection to my heart endears,
Recalling that recess of childish years,
Whose guileless pleasures came without allay.
The trifles which allur’d my young pursuit,
The joy, when rushing from Confinement’s gloom,
With which I found, in Spring’s expanding bloom,
An antepast of Summer’s ripening fruit.
The days when bliss and freedom were allied,
The hours which lightly came, and flew too fast,
Though often reckon’d as they gaily pass’d,
Revive, in Fancy, at this hallow’d tide.
Once more for me renew those charming days,
And I in raptures will exalt thy praise!
Gloomy Shades of Life.
What gloomy shades her view of life embrown,
Whose fortune thwarts the wishes of her heart;
On whom Conviction, Hope, and Mem’ry frown;
From whose young days the joys of youth depart!
And who, exempted from the sweet controul
Of ties to feeling and to nature dear,
An alien lives, in sentiment and soul,
To all within her fate-contracted sphere.
For her, no ray of Hope illumines Thought,
No sympathies her dormant feelings rouse;
Her intellect, perchance, with talent fraught,
Beneath the influence of Despondence bows.
In life she feels no interesting tie,
And knows but one strong wish—the wish to die!
The Idiot Girl.
Start not at her, who, in fantastic guise,
Comes wildly chaunting in a dirge-like tone,
With big tears trembling in her vacant eyes,
And uncoif’d tresses by the breezes blown.
Recoil not from the harmless idiot maid,
Who often from a rugged beldame creeps
To yon deserted cottage in the shade,
And its fallen stones, to guard the entrance, heaps.
There was the home where pass’d her early years
With parents now withdrawn to final rest,
Who prov’d how infant helplessness endears;
And of a numerous offspring lov’d her best.
Now wails she, as she rudely blocks the door,
They both are in, and will come out no more.
Regular Sonnets.094 E11v 095 E12r 95
On Hearing a Lady Say She Often Met Her Husband in India.
Fond wishes haunt where’er the heart resides,
And interviews in reveries bestow;
Affianc’d minds, which half the globe divides,
Will with respondent thoughts and feelings glow.
Swiftly o’er boundless space the spirit glides,
Where, fanning groves of spice, cool sea-gales blow;
And o’er oppress’d Gentoos where Rapine rides,
And Ganges’ waves o’er dying Indians flow.
Drawn by those bonds which finer souls unite,
That soul, which time and chance cannot estrange,
Winging to one belov’d its uncheck’d flight,
Will vows of faith and tenderness exchange;
And thence returning, raptur’d with her range,
Will whisper confidence, and speak delight.
The Hindoo Widow on the Funeral Pile of Her Husband.
Religion’s voice enforces Duty’s call—
Shall I, thus urg’d, the sacred claim deny?
Not me, the gloomy pomp and fires appal—
They, who deserve to live, know how to die!
My children! on your father’s pile I fall,
Dearer as his than mine, for you I sigh;
Yet one, my helpless babes! shall hear your cry—
The orphan’s parent is the Lord of all!—
Restrain me not!—has life but one retreat?
Shall I, the daughter of a noble race,
By specious pleas high Brama’s laws defeat,
And buy protracted being with disgrace?
The death I ought to die I dauntless meet;
Its pangs, my children, were your last embrace!
What dims the eye where animation shone,—
Hushes the voice which charm’d the list’ning ear;
Why, once so social, roam’st thou now alone,
Forgetting even her once held so dear?
Thy breast once flam’d with Passion’s brightest fires,
But now no glow thy torpid feelings own,
And Apathy has o’er thy manners thrown
A chill, which Pity and Dislike inspires.
Yet say’st thou well, that tenderness retires
From that Despair whose woes no balms relieve;
That Friendship’s solace ends when friends deceive;
That Passion dies when fostering Hope expires;
And that the rainbow-joys of life’s young hour
Glitter but where impending tempests lower.
Now, Fortune! now, said one, thy rage I dare;
He may defy thee who has nought to lose,
And to thy fellest wrongs that bosom bare,
Whose wounds already all relief refuse.
Once could thy promises my faith amuse;
I thought thee true because thou seem’dst so fair;
But now no speciousness my hope renews;
It is not thine to save me from despair.
Once was I wealthy, but my wealth is fled—
Chief of the scene, and now expell’d the stage—
A husband, but my wife is worse than dead—
A father, but my children sham’d my age:—
No, Fortune! no, I have no hope in thee,
The hope of wretchedness is piety.
Do You Forget, S—?
Forget it!—no—the pleasures of the past,
The guileless glee of Childhood’s fleeting days,
Conspire to make its fairy scenes the last
The hand of Time will from remembrance raze.
Its name revives to Thought’s reverted gaze,
The offspring Fancy nurtur’d in its bowers,
When her false pencil drew Life’s opening maze—
A smooth, green vista strew’d with fragrant flowers.
Forget it!—no—whene’er Misfortune lowers,
And o’er the future casts her gloomy shade;
When anxious Expectation sinks, dismay’d,
And Hope, subdu’d by Disappointment, cowers;
I think of S—, and feel the thought restore
A glimpse of joys that can return no more.
Lov’st thou to pace the downland’s mounded green
In Night’s still hour, when their fantastic maze
Dance lightly round, the feather-footed fays,
Beneath the silent moon’s love-beaming sheen?
Nor trip they on their verdant ring unseen
To the inspired bard’s enthusiast gaze,
When, to the measure of the night-bird’s lays,
They follow up their dream-presiding queen.
Or, when the bowery walk thy step invites,
Where the fond glow-worm, like Leander’s bride,
Gilding the dark, the torch of Cupid lights,
The course of her approaching love to guide,
Say, does not Fancy, with illusive art,
An interest to their simple loves impart?
With full and varied bloom the rose-bush bends:
Come, and a flow’ret for your chaplet choose;
This one to Zephyr’s wing an odour lends,
But, fully blown, too faded are its hues.
In that, with vivid lustre fragrance blends,
Yet, not enough its silken leaves expand:
This flow’r, half open’d, most invites the hand;
But, ah! its thorny stem the touch offends.
Why should we thus irresolutely stand?
Lo! while we pause, th’ungather’d blossoms fade,
And each, by sep’rate claims to form our braid
Of Reason’s choice, some pref’rence may command.
Long may we seek, but never shall we meet
A rose, at once fresh, thornless, fair, and sweet.
To the Naiad of Mirables. One of the marine cottages, in the Isle of Wight, tastefully embellished by the late G. Arnold, Esq. and now the property of his widow, Mrs. Arnold.
Hail, placid Naiad of that favour’d scene,
Where Taste embellishes wild Nature’s grace,
Unveils the beauty of her lovely face,
And smooths, with hidden hand, her rugged mien.
Ling’ring, like thee, upon the willow’d green,
And, like thee, lost in more extended space,
The Muse could o’er thy gurgling streamlet lean,
Till she believe that bliss depends on place.
While the bold main, with wave of feath’ry foam,
Swells in the cadence of thy murm’ring sigh,
She, in still-blooming Flora’s modest home,
Sooth’d, rapt, entranc’d, would with her lyre reply—
O’er Mirables with Arnold’s spirit roam,
And quit with him that Eden for the sky.
To the Memory of Charlotte Smith.
Spirit of plaintive Tenderness! refine
The breathings which to sound her name aspire!
Hers! who, of Inspiration’s fount divine,
Most deeply quaff’d of Britain’s female choir!
On the pale willow, drooping o’er her tomb,
Still, and unstrung, suspended rests her lyre;
The silence of the grave its mournful doom,
For no inferior hand can brace its wire.—
Departed Poetess! the bitter woe
Which nipp’d thy hopes, in Youth’s expanding bloom,
And ting’d thy soft effusions with its gloom,
Shall sweetly to succeeding ages flow;
And Rapture oft shall cry, Who would refuse
To take thy sorrows, could they give thy Muse?
While Nature breath’d the pray’r of praise around,
The Greeks with dance and song their gods ador’d;
Libations of the vine to Bacchus pour’d,
And early sheaves with poppy chaplets bound
For Ceres, whose rich boons with plenty crown’d
Their smiling plains: and at the hallow’d board,
On grateful Mirth’s light wing, their spirits soar’d,
And festive sports rejoic’d the sacred ground.
And, shall benevolence through all prevail,
Smile in mild eve, laugh in the jocund day,
Impart its vivid freshness to the gale,
And, bouyant, through the range of being play—
Shall all, save man, unite in rapturous praise,
And he, most blest, with gloom his homage raise?
The Village Maid.
Mark’d you, by yon thatch’d farm that skirts the down—
Though, but for neatness, could she draw your eye—
A maid, in apron white, and russet gown,
Who drove her kine, and pass’d, low court’sying, by?
She, in whose grange her cares and pleasures lie;
Whose wishes never, in their loftiest flights,
Beyond the confines of her station fly:
She, in whose taste the wake or feast unites,
Of mortal gladness, the supreme delights—
Who all of fame concentres, in the boast
That hers, of dairies, is esteem’d the most;
She, of her sex, my envy most excites.
I would, like hers, my soaring spirit found
Its limits in my station’s narrow round.
On the Tomb of a Friend.
Repose be to thine ashes, gentle shade!
And still her tend’rest tears shall Mem’ry shed
On the damp sod, which canopies the bed
Where Friendship’s mortal part, for aye, is laid.
And Sorrow oft, by Recollection led,
The budding wreaths of early spring shall twine
Around the urn that guards thy pillow’d head,
Thou worship’d idol of her sacred shrine.
Nor would she then the solemn tears resign,
Drawn from the fountain of remember’d worth,
For all the joys which Fancy’s pow’rs combine,
To dance amid the sportive train of Mirth.
I mourn for thee, but feel, as I deplore,
Thou art not lost, but gone, my friend, before!
In Exultation’s scale it weighs not light,
Cooly to turn upon conceding Pride;
And, with superior disregard, to slight
The favours erst to meek Request denied.
And well it ranks on Triumph’s noblest side,
When falls Disdain from her commanding height,
To stretch the hand, once haughtily decried,
And raise the grov’ler from her humbled plight.
Nor is—though noted last—of least amount,
The lofty consciousness of high desert;
Which, taking not of vulgar wrongs account,
Finds that, unheeded, they can never hurt;
And which, though accidents impede its rise
To greatness, on the wing of Genius flies.
What though Vexation, still attendant, strews
Sharp thorns and wormwood in thy varied way;
What though the wreathes which Friendship wove decay,
And no enchantment Hope’s sweet spells renews;
If it be thine, led by the willing Muse,
With Fancy, in Illusion’s bowers to stray;
To give to sportive Thought its wildest play,
And colour Life with Fiction’s lustrous hues;
Thou canst in Lethe drown thy worldy care,
In blissful visions tranquillise distress,
While forms more bright than mortal pleasures wear,
Thy waking dreams with heavenly raptures bless;
And, leaving far the nat’ral world behind,
A refuge in thy own creation find.
That Age is deaf to Mis’ry’s pleading sigh;
That in my breast the softer feelings die,
Because, at thy distress, no tears I shed?
Misdeem not thus: when thou, like me, hast sped
Thro’ Life’s dark vale; and when around thee fly
Misfortune’s shafts—when bursts each tender tie,
And Mem’ry lives to mourn Enjoyment dead:
Thou wilt, like me, a grave composure keep,
Whene’er Affliction’s plaintive groans arise;
With fellow-suff’rers often sympathize,
But feel, while bleeds thy heart, thou canst not weep.
Would I had tears for thee; for they who moan
For others’ woes, awhile forget their own.
The Queen of Night has only thrice renew’d
The pearly lustre of her changeful sphere,
Since we, with ling’ring eyes and steps, pursu’d
The paths now found so rugged and so drear.
And then, our way to solace and to cheer,
Summer her blushing sweets before us strew’d,
And, to her spicy breath, the bearded ear
Its green head nodded; and we, pausing, view’d
The full-fledg’d lark, fruit of the vernal nest,
Stretch the young wing, yet dubious of its pow’r;
Then, warbling new-found strains, erect his crest,
And, more embolden’d, in the welkin tower.
But now, the flow’rs are gone, the cold winds moan,
The ripen’d corn is stor’d, the lark and all are flown!
A dreadful gloom oppress’d the vital air
With its dead weight—th’incumber’d bosom shrunk—
And the fell sounds of sorrow and despair
I heard, and trembled, and astounded sunk.
While gloomy apparitions came, to scare
My shuddering sense, a friendly vision rose,
Whose awful presence lull’d each mortal care
In the deep stillness of profound repose,
And bade the eye of stern Reflection close
Upon the frivolous and the narrow scene
Whence sprung the panic dread, the nervous spleen,
And all the legion of ideal woes.
I then arose, with energy renew’d,
And bow’d to Patience and to Fortitude.
Though dimpled Joy upon the cheek bestow
A flush, than calm Content’s mild hue more deep;
Tho’ seems the heart at Pleasure’s call to leap,
And the brisk eye to catch a radiant glow;
Tho’ peals the laugh, the tears may inly flow.
Its unseen gush the closing eyes may steep,
And they, alas! may open but to weep,
As troubled dreams are chas’d by wakeful woe.
Thou little know’st, and may’st thou never know,
How painful to the soul, how hard the task,
The bleeding bosom’s agonising throe,
In easy Gaiety’s blithe smile, to mask—
To feign a mind, by common things engross’d,
When all thou lov’dst on earth to thee is lost.
Feel’st thou all pleasures, on enjoyment, cloy—
The anxious cares which, from abundance, grow
Desire of wealth, thy restless spirits buoy,
And, from possession, disappointment flow?
Feel’st thou the discontents which poison joy,
In its pellucid cup their venom throw;
Its vivid glow and spicy zest destroy,
And give the dulcet draught the taste of woe?
Nor blame nor fault within the object lies,
Thy mind alone the charge of both must bear;
Thou art a creature destin’d for the skies,
And happiness for thee is centred there.
Then onward press, without repining go,
And, in contentment, taste of heaven below.
Young Man, You Will Not Die.
Yes, the cold stagnant tide draws near its ebb,
Upon the confines of the grave I tread;
Fate now unravels Life’s entangled web,
And on a point suspends the fine-drawn thread.
Now, in the hour, of all my hours the last,
In vivid lines to Retrospection rise
The stern and rugged features of the past,
But Hope half stifles Recollection’s sighs.
Few gleams of sunshine cheer’d my stormy day;
By Passion blown, I whirled on Folly’s shoal;
Now, all but wreck’d, I work my feeble way,
Where Death, on Trouble’s sea, erects a mole;
Where, safely shelter’d from the tempest roar,
Shall rest my shatter’d bark, to brave the storm no more.
That voice, so broken, tremulous, and low;
That dim, sunk eye; that flush’d, yet sallow, cheek;
That short, quick step, so stagg’ring and so weak;
That silenc’d wail of pain, e’en while its throe
Augments to torture, in the smother’d shriek;
While, on the throbbing temples, start and flow
The chilly drops; I must observe and know
The language such expressive symptoms speak.
And, in th’impending, see the certain blow
No human art can soften or avert;
But when it falls, and soon, thou, Jane, must go
Where Happiness awaits to crown Desert.
But that high worth that fits thee for those realms,
The heart of Friendship with regret o’erwhelms.
From Marmontel’s Incas.
Thou, man! to labour doom’d, to pain and dole,
Who risest but to feel thy wants at morn
Who liest down at eve but more forlorn,
In thy mortality thyself console.
Thou see’st a bark upon the billows roll,
Rock’d by the surges, by the winds distress’d,
’Till gain’d the port; when, moor’d in Safety’s breast,
It mocks the mountain wave and treach’rous shoal.
The ocean, which incessant storms infest,
Is Life; and thou, weak man! the reeling bark;
The grave the harbour, silent, calm, and dark,
Where rage no tempests, and no cares molest.
Slave of Necessity! of Chance the play!
Death breaks thy bonds, oh man! and thou shalt pass away.
To a Friend.
Another winter, dreary, cold, and slow,
O’er shiv’ring Albion drags his icy wain;
Arrests the limpid current’s murmuring flow,
And stills the music of the woodland train.
To rescue Nature from the torpid chain
Which numbs, in her fair frame, the vital glow,
The melting breath of genial Spring shall blow,
And Summer clothe, and Autumn strip the plain,
And winter re-assume his frigid reign,
Ere we, my friend—late found, and early lost—
To share the flow of soul, shall meet again;
Shall meet—if not by frowning Fortune cross’d—
Less hastily to bid the long adieu,
Which wafts my wishes far away with you.
Still grant me, Heav’n! while I remain below,
To wear the moments of Life’s fleeting hour,
With calm Contentment, in Seclusion’s bow’r,
Too high to dread contemptuous Pride, too low
To fear sly Envy’s sting or ambush’d blow.
Ne’er let me, Heav’n, intreat a boon of Pow’r,
Nor to its minion’s aught of homage show,
Nor ever measure Merit by her dow’r.
Be no professions mine at Truth’s expense,
But make me, feeling right, speak as I feel;
Still from opinion to my heart appeal,
And rule demeanour by the moral sense.
Propitious Heav’n, so let my moments fly;
So let me live with peace, with resignation die!
I mourn’d the woes which marr’d the little span
From puling Infancy to doating Age.
Reflection stood, the depth of ills to guage;
But sick’ning on the melancholy plan,
She paus’d, and sigh’d, and oped, ere she began
(To fortify the heart) the gorgon page,
The horrors which Ambition, Av’rice, Rage,
Stamp on the records of deluded man.
She clos’d the dreadful book, acquitting Fate
Of man’s most dire and self-created ills,
And found, extraneous to his native state,
Most that embitters life, and most that kills.
She rose to see, with truth-illumin’d eye,
That fictious evils from Reflection fly.
I pray’d, when struggl’ing with vexatious care,
To be, in heav’n, from all such troubles free;
But, ah! not Piety inspir’d my pray’r,
For still the thought of heav’n associates thee.
I sought not Death, but far away to flee
From such distresses as were hard to bear.
Would I could die, I said; but then, to me,
To die to anxious doubt and dread despair,
Were but to live for thee, my bosom friend;
To be thine all, as thou to me hast been;
To feel thee but on me for bliss depend,
As I on thee for all my pleasures lean.
Yet, if for thee my death one good could buy,
Then could I wish, and seek, indeed, to die.
Yes, I beheld him, in his prosp’rous day,
By Fortune favour’d, by her slaves caress’d,
Then when his planet shed its happy ray,
And his high mien his conscious worth express’d.
The erring world believ’d him proud and blest,
But I regarded him with other eyes;
And, woe for him! because most true, the best
Was my instructed and profound surmise.
I saw his heart against his reason rise,
And ev’ry lofty faculty controul;
And all the anguish of a noble soul
Compell’d to love the thing it must despise.
I heard him hail’d the dignify’d and brave—
I saw him writhing Passion’s abject slave.
The Present Moment.
The goods of life why from Enjoyment lock,
Till frozen Age thy faculties benumb,
Or till that day of desolation come,
When Reason staggers at Affliction’s shock?
Thou little reck’st what mighty bars may block
Th’uncertain avenues of distant Bliss;
Its painted shade thy void embrace may mock;
Or thy outstretch’d and eager hand may miss
The substance lying just within thy grasp;
Or it (mischance far more perverse than this)
May change its form and nature in thy clasp,
And with disgust repay thy first fond kiss,
Be bless’d to-day, nor still thy joy postpone,
Nought but the present moment is thine own.
while o’er thee Fortune, Youth, and Pleasure shine;
While, from the bloom that in their radiance glows,
The Loves for thee, in height’ning contrast, twine
Idalia’s myrtle with her budding rose.
And while o’er thy encrimson’d lip yet flows
The purple nectar of the gen’rous vine,
Say, from the joy each sated sense bestows,
Is happiness or hollow transport thine?
Not happiness; for ’midst what these impart,
Dost thou not feel a something unpossess’d,
A craving void left aching in thy breast,
A blank of being, and a want of heart?
Not thine is Bliss; her holy calm retires
From tyrannising to subdu’d desires.
Too Ardent Hope.
Trembling for thee, oh sanguine youth! I view
That, at the name or thought of future days,
A beamy smile o’er thy fair visage plays;
And that thy judgement, to thy wishes true,
Forewarns thee not how feeble and how few
The reasons are that prop this hope of thine;
That in thy op’ning path a knotless clue,
Thee to conduct to happiness, will twine.
Let staid Reflection teach thee to resign
The expectations Fancy built in air;
That though on high with dazzling light they shine,
Yet of th’illusive meteor-fire beware:
For still, where ardent Hope too brightly glows,
Her dark’ning shadow Disappointment throws.
To My Friend.
Why fret thyself with unavailing care?
But from one source do woman’s blessings flow?
And must she every hold of bliss forego,
Because one cherish’d tie dissolv’d in air?
Come warm thy freezing breast with Friendship’s glow;
And from its core, with vig’rous effort, tear
The love that vibrates with its hurried throe—
Love, nurtur’d at the bosom of Despair.
Are talents, health, and independence thine,
To be to stupid Apathy consign’d?
Arise! be vigilant, and make thy mind
A worthy off’ring for a nobler shrine.
Arise, my friend! thy faculties exert,
And to an actual good a dubious ill convert.
Value of Freedom.
Again, I say, arise! repel this sloth,
To aught of great or good so fell a bar;
And whence, at first, arose, with rapid growth,
The ill imputed to your evil star.
Yourself it is, be you assur’d, who mar
The web of Bliss by smiling Fortune wrought.
Yes, you it is, and not the Fates, who war
To bring both hers and Nature’s boons to nought.
Security, of self-defence is bought;
And he who combats not, himself to save,
And is all passively to slav’ry brought,
Was, ere his thraldom, morally a slave.
Most truly he deserves the bonds he bears,
Who Freedom’s value with her cost compares.
Thou novice of the world, whose sanguine heart,
Yet adolescent, and by Woe untaught,
Mistakes the map of life for Pleasure’s chart,
And gives the colour of the wish to Thought;
Enjoy thy trance, with blissful visions fraught,
While dance thy spirits to the song of Joy,
Ere Time untwist the web which Fancy wrought,
And with rude shocks thy fairy dreams destroy.
Delight thee, while thou canst, with each gay toy
Which Whim invents for Expectation’s play;
Soon Disappointment will thy sports alloy;
Soon in Satiety their zest decay.
Now grasp with glee the forms of painted air—
No real substances such radiance wear.
What though the warm affections cool beneath
The sighs of dying Hope, and shed the bloom
Imagination once was wont to wreath,
For Fancy’s model, in her mimic loom:
And what though wither’d in ungenial gloom,
Torn from the roots, the rosy blossoms lie;
And tho’ these roots, chill’d by relentless doom,
Within the desolated bosom die;
Yet soon will Thought an energy supply,
To blunt the keenness of Affliction’s edge.
Soon Genius to his mental height shall fly,
And with the plumes of Love his pinions fledge;
And Hope will rise again—howe’er depress’d,
She springs eternal in the human breast.
When Fortune round thee sheds her dazzling rays,
And in the glitter every aspect glows
With Frienship’s tender smile, and smoothly flows,
From honey’d tongues, the dulcet stream of praise;
When suppliant minions watch thy meaning gaze,
T’ anticipate thy wish, ere yet it grows
To full expression; when thy thoughts repose
On Pleasure’s bosom, and the future days
To Fancy rise, in present rapture drest;
Beware! at once thy fond affections wrest
From Fortune’s baseless goods. She spreads her wings—
She flies—and then, tho’ fetter’d to thy breast,
Away with her her whole retinue springs,
And nought with thee remains, except their stings.
Why thus, my friend, unsocial in thy woe?
Say, why with smother’d sighs thou turn’st aside,
The silent but expressive tears to hide,
Which from the source of injur’d Feeling flow?
With unreserve thy confidence bestow:
Is Friendship’s band but by Enjoyment tied;
And must its knot of Sympathy divide
Beneath Affliction’s agonising blow?
Thou better know’st; and as, in thy blest hours,
Thy pleasure and prosperity were mine,
So now, when o’er thy head Misfortune low’rs,
My heart, my energies, my all are thine!
Though Fate from thee thine all but Friendship takes,
It leaves a balm to heal the wound it makes.
Cold Realities of Life.
Ye cold realities of life, away!
Nor Thought’s best joys in Fancy’s grave inhume:
And ye, illusions of Delight! resume
O’er this devoted mind your wonted sway.
Come, raptur’d visions! with your glowing ray
The fading eye of weeping Hope relume,
The moulting pinion of the Muse replume,
And to Renown exalt her soaring lay.
Why linger ye, ye dear deceits, which cheer
The gloomy breast of Care with gladsome glow;
That chase from Mis’ry’s eye the starting tear,
Or raise a smile to catch its grateful flow?
Come hither, come! me with your magic bless,
And Fortune’s wrongs in Fancy’s bliss redress.
The Tear’s and Smile’s Kindred Sources.
In transport’s moment, when the feelings glow
With high delight, if Mis’ry’s tale arrest
With sensitive Compassion’s kindliest throe;
And proves the potent sympathies of woe,
Upon the joyous heart, by Nature’s test,
As down the cheek, in laughing dimples drest,
The holy tears of tender Pity flow.
Then dread not thou, whose wounded feelings smart,
To pour thy sorrows on the happy ear
Of gladness; for the genuine smile and tear
Have kindred sources in the feeling heart:
And when gay raptures rise, that heart to cheer,
Emotion’s dew-drops then most freely start.
Arise, belov’d! the twilight hour steals on,
And glooms retiring Evening’s dusky veil;
Ere Night obscure the scene, let us begone,
And in this time of pleasantness inhale
The grateful freshness of the dewy gale:
For well thou lov’st, with pausing step, to stray
On thymy hill, smooth lawn, or bow’ry dale,
Till fades the glowing west. Then come, away!
Short life affords no season for delay;
Self-treason ’tis to slight, or misemploy,
Or hesitate inertly, till decay
The few short periods Fate assigns to Joy.
Arise, belov’d! ere Night’s long shadows fall,
Nor linger thou when Love and Friendship call.
The Tyrant’s Fate.
Yes, let the tyrant, in the rage of pow’r,
With galling bonds a subject race enslave,
With trampled rights the road of Rapine pave,
And let the dogs of War his country scour,
Till Plague and Want the fugitives devour;
Till groaning man, beneath his bloody sway,
Implore of Heav’n dread Retribution’s hour.
Lo! hungry Vengeance eyes her fated prey,
Unsheathes her talons, sharpen’d by delay,
And crouches, with collected force, to spring,
When Vigilance shall drop her wearied wing,
And traitor inmates softly point the way.
Then Justice smiles, triumphant in his doom,
And Execration mutters o’er his tomb.
Erase the tender sympathies, that wring
Your soul! to Pity’s touch your bosom steel!
And in your heart the fertilising spring
Of Feeling in its kindly flow congeal!
But think you then, lull’d in the lap of weal,
To revel in the joys your wishes bring?
Forget you, then, that, as you cease to feel,
Enjoyment flags on Languor’s leathern wing?
From Sensibility alone can flow
The exquisite, the keenly-thrilling sense;
And if ’tis hers to barb the shaft of Woe,
’Tis hers to render Rapture more intense.
Who, at the cost of ev’ry bliss, would buy
The waveless calm of torpid Apathy?
Where now the dream to Happiness allied;
The youthful dream, with splendid phantoms fraught?
Why breathes not Fancy on the stream of Thought,
To urge, with glitt’ring flow, its languid tide,
And bid gay bubbles down its current glide?
Where now the glow Imagination caught,
When treach’rous Hope, Joy’s cobweb texture wrought,
And in her rainbow hues the tissue dyed?
The vision melts—its lustrous shadows fade—
Fancy’s bright pinion droops—benumb’d with care,
Hope hides beneath the dun sepulchral shade,
And leaves the mind to freeze in cold Despair;
Her web of bliss at Sorrow’s touch decay’d,
And all its radiant hues dissolv’d in air.
The Willing Muse.
In vain you seek to win th’unwilling Muse;
Whene’er she comes to bless, she comes unsought,
And, with self-sounding shell, Attention wooes,
Teaching such strains as Study never taught.
She brings the waking dream with rapture fraught;
Enrobes the dreary scene in vivid hues;
Gives life to sentiment, and soul to thought,
And waning Hope with Fancy’s fire renews.
She—child of Heav’n, and Heav’n’s peculiar gift—
Descends t’obliterate, in the chosen breast,
All Fortune’s injuries, and its heart to lift
Above the cares that vulgar souls molest.
She comes—not on her Wealth and Power attends,
But what she gives the highest boon transcends.
Odes.139 G10r 140 G10v 141 G11r 141
To a Sigh.
Com’st thou, oh Sigh! to anxious feelings true,
The bosom to relieve or rend?
Say, when thy rising, half suppress’d,
Gently heaves the pensive breast,
Oft’ner dost thou its woes suspend,
Or whet the edge of Misery anew?
When, waken’d by Regret, in thy chill breath
The bloomy wreaths of Pleasure droop,
Her bow’rs, with festive trappings gay,
And her blithe laugh and syren lay,
Her frolic dance and gleeful group,
Seem mournful as the dirge and pomp of Death.
But when Despair sits heavy on the heart,
From its recess, with growing weight,
Thy slow and struggling burst impels,
And in thy voice to Pity tells
Of anguish she can ne’er abate,
Thou canst, oh bitter Sigh! no ease impart.142 G11v 142
But when the lively int’rest of Suspense,
Still fann’d by Hope’s exciting wings,
Or tender Passion’s chasten’d blaze,
To thee a pleasing warmth conveys,
Then, and then only, from thee springs
Relief, which cheers the spirit and the sense.
To a Blush.
Officious tell-tale of Emotion, why,
Why comest thou, with glowing hues,
The feelings of the heart to paint?
And when thy transient roses faint,
Say, why th’observant eye renews
Upon the cheek their rich vermilion dye?
Thou, ready limner of the mind, reveal
From whence thy vivid colours rise:
Does Modesty or Shame bestow,
More frequently, thy ruddy glow?
Or Consciousness, or quick Surprise?
Or say, dost thou from each thy crimson steal?
Yet spring’st thou not from these, and these alone?
One passion to thy pencil lends
A constant, yet a varying flush;
One passion still, ingenuous blush!
Thy mantling, kindling warmth extends
O’er the pale cheek, to thee before unknown.
Yet, ready Blush! whatever source be thine,
Save those of conscious Guilt and Shame—
And save, perchance, among the rest,
That one perturber of the breast,
That passion with a tender name—
Symbol of Feeling, be thou ever mine!
What power the prison’d Muse unchains,
Sets her elastic pinions free,
To Rapture wakes her sleeping strains,
And tunes her notes to Ecstacy?
Not sudden Joy; for its o’erwhelming swell
Hushes the music of the tuneful shell.
Can Sorrow—she with swimming eye
And moveless look, on nothing bent—
Suppress her bursting tear and sigh,
Her anguish in soft lays to vent?
Blest were she then; but Grief, sincere and strong,
With torpid touch benumbs the soul of Song.
Then, can Indiff’rence wake the lyre;
Whose mind so dull, whose heart so chill,
Knows nor aversion, nor desire,
Nor choice to guide her wav’ring will?
She no emotion can excite or feel,
Which costs the soul an effort to reveal.
Can Love, if he a chaplet braid
For Merit’s or for Beauty’s brows,
By genuine Feeling’s simple aid,
The tender power of Song arouse?
Some moving strains have from Affection sprung,
But few, who truly lov’d, of love have sung.
Noble Ambition courts the Muse;
Nor does he often court in vain:
Her eye enjoys his boundless views,
His energies inspire her strain;
But through her music burst incessant sighs,
As Conquest on Destruction’s pinion flies.
Then can the melting touch of Mirth
The fetters of the mind dissolve,
Afford her latent talents birth,
Bid them in Pleasure’s maze revolve?
Mirth may her sportive faculties display,
And sing the light but not the lofty lay.
The blush which reddens Hope’s fair cheek—
The tears which beam in Pity’s eye—
Or those which Sympathy bespeak,
When round the shafts of Sorrow fly—147 H2r 147
Arouse the energies of lyric skill,
And glow but to impart a kindred thrill.
The depth of Passion’s boiling surge
The soul of Poesy may drown:
But just in stormy Passion’s verge
She wrests from Fame a lasting crown;
She in surrounding brilliance veils Defect,
And plays on ev’ry string of Intellect.
But whate’er pow’rs thy wings unbind,
Whate’er awake thy slumb’ring lyre,
Reign in my bosom, unconfin’d,
Sweet Muse! and native strains inspire.
Yes—o’er my breast, uncheck’d, dominion bear,
For thou, when free, canst conquer mortal care.
Brightly o’er western waves the Sun declines.
But, ere she bathes his amber tresses,
A kiss on modest Eve he presses;
She blushes in his warm caresses,
And in her glow the whole creation shines.
She, in her twilight vest of silver grey,
While fann’d by gently-sighing breezes,
The tumult of the soul appeases,
Trouble, a willing captive, seizes,
And in composure steeps the cares of Day.
She comes with healing on her dewy wings,
And weariness from labour chases,
His hardships from his thoughts effaces,
And ev’ry languid sinew braces,
As to his straw-roof’d shed the hind she brings.
Thee, Ev’ning, friend of Poesy, I woo:
Whoe’er thy summons oft refuses,
Or thy blest tide in riot loses,
Has no alliance with the Muses;
They love to track thy feet, enchas’d, in dew.
And when they mark thee silently retire,
As on the mountain dance thy flushes,
As on the streamlet fade thy blushes,
And Night upon thy confines rushes,
Spontaneously resounds each golden lyre.
They dedicate to thee their choicest notes:
While, circling in translucent mazes,
With her retinue, Dian gazes,
Aiding the lay which Rapture raises;
Till softly on the breeze thy music floats,
And on its swelling breath the measures soar,
Re-echo’d, as they fly, from shore to shore.
With measur’d step, in Heaven’s star-paved hall,
Just ros’d with Ev’ning’s farewell glances,
Yet cold and solemn, Night advances,
In grateful rest Creation trances,
And o’er still Nature throws her shadowy pall.
Silence, with finger on her lip of stone,
Moody with thought-suspended senses,
And unheard foot, her range commences;
An unobtrusive aid dispenses
To Contemplation, as she strays alone.
Bewilder’d Fear thy stillness dreads, oh Night!
Her wand’rings when thy deep shade reaches,
Her shudd’ring visage Horror bleaches,
While shoot thy meteor fires, and screeches
Thy boding bird of slow and flagging flight.
Yet some, of bolder minds, esteem the most
Thine hour, when distant thunder crashes,
And lambent lightning faintly flashes,
Or thine Aurora’s play abashes
The twinkling lustre of thy sphery host.
The musing sage loves in thy reign to trace,
As, led by Reason, oft he pauses,
Effects to their remotest causes;
The gen’ral laws and secret clauses
Which govern Nature in her circling race.
Yes, Night, amid the calmness of thy reign,
On lofty wing Abstraction ranges,
And from th’ennobled soul estranges
The world, its chances and its changes,
And points to her high link in Nature’s chain.
Morn, Noon, and Eve, may rouse, delight, inspire,
But thou, oh Night! relum’st the soul’s primordial fire.
To a Bee.
Come, flutt’rer, change thou lots with me,
Be thou a Poet, I a Bee;
To me thy filmy wings resign,
My little flight of thought be thine.
I, on the terms of this exchange,
Make instinct law, the world my range:
I on the spicy breeze shall play,
Inhale the essence of the day;
The nectar tears of Morning sip
Fresh from the rose’s op’ning lip;
Nestle within her silky fold,
Thence freight myself with liquid gold:
On ev’ry flow’r pursue my toil,
From all collect, and none despoil;
And from each blossom’s od’rous loan,
Prepare a honey all my own.
Then should I, at my fragrant task,
In genial warmth and radiance bask;
And, summon’d by the voice of Morn,
Wind to the Day my mellow horn.
You, govern’d in cold Reason’s name,
By prejudice and fear of shame,
In one low, grov’ling track confin’d,
Must cast a shackle on your mind;
Be subject to opinion’s sway,
A slave to what the world will say.
You arrogance must tamely bear,
Be lash’d for rancour while you spare;
When stung yourself, ne’er use the sting;
To ev’ry one be ev’ry thing;
Meet Irony disguis’d as Praise;
Treach’ry that with smiles betrays;
And find your actions, wrong or right,
All yield some nourishment to Spite.
And more than this—but here I stop,
And o’er the rest a curtain drop.
Your state, would you make like disclosure,
May lose allurement by exposure;
Let me beneath externals dive,
And take a peep within your hive.—
Your flow’ry cares are sweet and charming,
But like expulsion is your swarming.
By no vile pilf’rers are you hamper’d?
No drones upon your treasury pamper’d?154 H5v 154
And though your toils be your diversion,
Does not the fruit of each exertion
Still make to that joint stock addition,
Whence none may eat but by permission?
Now I foresee no great disaster,
Were each of his own store the master;
Nor what vast ills could be suspected,
If all enjoy’d what they collected,
Untax’d, and from restriction free:
But that you tell me cannot be.
Then let us, as dispute is vain,
Contented as we are remain.
Sure instinct, you; me, reason guides:
Just Heav’n alike for all provides,
And places us, among the rest,
Precisely where it suits us best.
With equal hand our chalice fills;
With comforts balances our ills;
And though at times I may be fretful,
Mindful of these, of those forgetful;
And though my blessings I pervert,
Yet am I bless’d beyond desert,
And here I vow, through Nature’s range,
With no one creature would I change.
Love of Life.
Whence is it man desires to live,
When dead to all that life can give?
Who can the subtle fetters trace,
Which bind him to this point of space,
When all the world, become a void,
Is most belov’d, and least enjoy’d?
Say, why the cup he fondly drains,
When not one sweet’ning drop remains?
And values more the vapid draught,
Than when, in other times, he quaff’d
The bev’rage from the goblet’s edge,
When Youth and Love return’d his pledge;
When Pleasure Appetite entic’d,
And Hope the cordial potion spic’d;
When Expectation, skill’d to please,
O’er Disappointment’s bitter lees
Still rais’d bright bubbles to the brink,
Still made him, undisgusted, drink;156 H6v 156
Though, when he drank, the taste of gall
Would on his eager palate pall?
Then ev’ry plant that round him grew,
To bind to life some tendril threw;
And each unblunted sense assisted,
To fix the cord the Passions twisted.
Each in her sphere for Pleasure wrought,
Her quota to Enjoyment brought:
Yet felt he their united skill
Could not his comprehension fill;
And deem’d the whole a poor affair,
Not worth a wise man’s serious care;
While long’d his soul to burst her ties,
And seek fruition in the skies.
Now, when no more the senses find
Provision for the emptied mind;
When nothing good is found in aught;
When into dotage stagnates thought;
Why, when the relish thus has ceas’d,
Is the strong thirst of life increas’d?
Why, when the faculties have fled,
Rally they all in this one head,
The doting, impotent endeavor
Feebly to vegetate for ever?
Elegiac Epistle From a Lady to Her Husband, an Officer in Spain. Vide Spectator, No. 204.
Thou, sole inspirer of my first fond sigh!
Whose presence form’d my greatest charm of life,
And in whose absence I consume and die,
Hear the last vows of thy devoted wife.
Before this letter can discharge its trust,
And to thine eyes these farewell lines impart,
The hand which writes will mingle in the dust,
A clod will lie the fond inditing heart.
My skill’d physician mournfully predicts,
The seventh day’s dawn upon my bier will spring;
Yet fear I naught that Death alone inflicts—
’Tis quitting thee, my love, that points his sting.
Nor vice, nor crimes, my future hopes o’ercast;
No unrepentant folly wakes my grief;
I mourn for mutual bliss, for ever past;
I weep that its duration was so brief.
Indulgent Heav’n! regard, with lenient eye,
My earthly fondness, my regretful woe,
And my reluctance to untwist that tie,
By thee design’d to solace man below.
Our holy books of Christian faith express
Nought more peculiar of the future state,
Than gen’ral misery and happiness,
As callous Guilt’s and humble Virtue’s fate.
Then will I hope, that consciousness survives,
When sinks our mortal part upon the bier,
And that the spirit happiness derives
From guiding them it most regarded here.
And thus may I, my wonted task pursue,
Assuage the conflicts of thy feeling breast,
With cordial drops life’s bitter draught imbue,
And saving counsel to thy thoughts suggest.
In this employment, man, of men most dear!
All I conceive of happiness were mine:
Nigh thee, a spirit void of pain and fear,
Still should this bosom be the shield of thine.
Mine should it be, thy steps to guide and guard,
To lull thee in the anguish of disease,
Peril from thy beloved head to ward,
When death-wing’d bullets hurtle in the breeze.
Then in those scenes which to my sex denied
The close attendance my fond wishes crav’d,
Should I be hov’ring, viewless, at thy side,
To smooth for thee the path with danger pav’d.
This cordial hope my drooping mind sustains,
And quells the dread of my approaching doom;
But Woe the empire of my soul regains,
As Fancy paints thy sorrows o’er my tomb.
I see thee, bending o’er my mould’ring clay—
I see the tear glide down thy pallid cheek—
I hear the sigh force its impeded way,
And tell of grief thy tongue wants pow’r to speak.
Thou wilt my humble worth too highly rate,
My fancied charms in brighter beauty see,
To all my claims allow too partial weight,
But ne’er too warmly paint my love of thee.
But let me not on this sad topic dwell;
For my repinings would thy bosom rend,
And aught of solace thy distress would swell,
Could I, to solace thine, my woe suspend.
If to the end my shatter’d sense remain,
In pray’rs for thee my dying breath shall soar:
Thy face, my love, I ne’er shall see again—
Adieu, my husband! we shall meet no more.
T. Davison, Lombard Street, Whitefriars, London.