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Inebriety and the Candidate
by George Crabbe
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Inebriety and The Candidate by George Crabbe



Contents: Inebriety The Candidate An Introductory Address To the Reader To the Authors of the Monthly Review



"INEBRIETY" {1}



The mighty spirit, and its power, which stains The bloodless cheek, and vivifies the brains, I sing. Say, ye, its fiery vot'ries true, The jovial curate, and the shrill-tongued shrew; Ye, in the floods of limpid poison nurst, Where bowl the second charms like bowl the first; Say how, and why, the sparkling ill is shed, The heart which hardens, and which rules the head. When winter stern his gloomy front uprears, A sable void the barren earth appears; The meads no more their former verdure boast, Fast bound their streams, and all their beauty lost; The herds, the flocks, in icy garments mourn, And wildly murmur for the spring's return; From snow-topp'd hills the whirlwinds keenly blow, Howl through the woods, and pierce the vales below; Through the sharp air a flaky torrent flies, Mocks the slow sight, and hides the gloomy skies; The fleecy clouds their chilly bosoms bare, And shed their substance on the floating air; The floating air their downy substance glides Through springing waters, and prevents their tides; Seizes the rolling waves, and, as a god, Charms their swift race, and stops the refluent flood; The opening valves, which fill the venal road, Then scarcely urge along the sanguine flood; The labouring pulse a slower motion rules, The tendons stiffen, and the spirit cools; Each asks the aid of Nature's sister, Art, To cheer the senses, and to warm the heart. The gentle fair on nervous tea relies, Whilst gay good-nature sparkles in her eyes; An inoffensive scandal fluttering round, Too rough to tickle, and too light to wound; Champagne the courtier drinks, the spleen to chase, The colonel burgundy, and port his grace; Turtle and 'rrac the city rulers charm, Ale and content the labouring peasants warm: O'er the dull embers, happy Colin sits, Colin, the prince of joke, and rural wits; Whilst the wind whistles through the hollow panes, He drinks, nor of the rude assault complains; And tells the tale, from sire to son retold, Of spirits vanishing near hidden gold; Of moon-clad imps that tremble by the dew, Who skim the air, or glide o'er waters blue: The throng invisible that, doubtless, float By mouldering tombs, and o'er the stagnant meat: Fays dimly glancing on the russet plain, And all the dreadful nothing of the green. Peace be to such, the happiest and the best, Who with the forms of fancy urge their jest; Who wage no war with an avenger's rod, Nor in the pride of reason curse their God. When in the vaulted arch Lucina gleams, And gaily dances o'er the azure streams; On silent ether when a trembling sound Reverberates, and wildly floats around, Breaking through trackless space upon the ear, Conclude the Bacchanalian rustic near: O'er hills and vales the jovial savage reels, Fire in his head and frenzy at his heels; From paths direct the bending hero swerves, And shapes his way in ill-proportioned curves. Now safe arrived, his sleeping rib he calls, And madly thunders on the muddy walls; The well-known sounds an equal fury move, For rage meets rage, as love enkindles love: In vain the waken'd infant's accents shrill, The humble regions of the cottage fill; In vain the cricket chirps the mansion through, 'Tis war, and blood, and battle must ensue. As when, on humble stage, him Satan hight Defies the brazen hero to the fight: From twanging strokes what dire misfortunes rise, What fate to maple arms and glassen eyes! Here lies a leg of elm, and there a stroke From ashen neck has whirl'd a head of oak. So drops from either power, with vengeance big, A remnant night-cap and an old cut wig; Titles unmusical retorted round, On either ear with leaden vengeance sound; Till equal valour, equal wounds create, And drowsy peace concludes the fell debate; Sleep in her woollen mantle wraps the pair, And sheds her poppies on the ambient air; Intoxication flies, as fury fled, On rooky pinions quits the aching head; Returning reason cools the fiery blood, And drives from memory's seat the rosy god. Yet still he holds o'er some his maddening rule. Still sways his sceptre, and still knows his fool; Witness the livid lip, and fiery front, With many a smarting trophy placed upon't; The hollow eye, which plays in misty springs, And the hoarse voice, which rough and broken rings; These are his triumphs, and o'er these he reigns, The blinking deity of reeling brains. See Inebriety! her wand she waves, And lo! her pale, and lo! her purple slaves! Sots in embroidery, and sots in crape, Of every order, station, rank, and shape: The king, who nods upon his rattle throne; The staggering peer, to midnight revel prone; The slow-tongued bishop, and the deacon sly, The humble pensioner, and gownsman dry; The proud, the mean, the selfish, and the great, Swell the dull throng, and stagger into state. Lo! proud Flaminius at the splendid board, The easy chaplain of an atheist lord, Quaffs the bright juice, with all the gust of sense, And clouds his brain in torpid elegance; In china vases, see! the sparkling ill, From gay decanters view the rosy rill; The neat-carved pipes in silver settle laid, The screw by mathematic cunning made: Oh, happy priest! whose God, like Egypt's, lies At once the deity and sacrifice. But is Flaminius then the man alone To whom the joys of swimming brains are known? Lo! the poor toper whose untutor'd sense, Sees bliss in ale, and can with wine dispense; Whose head proud fancy never taught to steer Beyond the muddy ecstasies of beer; But simple nature can her longing quench, Behind the settle's curve, or humbler bench: Some kitchen fire diffusing warmth around, The semi-globe by hieroglyphics crown'd; Where canvas purse displays the brass enroll'd, Nor waiters rave, nor landlords thirst for gold; Ale and content his fancy's bounds confine. He asks no limpid punch, no rosy wine; But sees, admitted to an equal share, Each faithful swain the heady potion bear: Go, wiser thou! and in thy scale of taste, Weigh gout and gravel against ale and rest; Call vulgar palates what thou judgest so; Say beer is heavy, windy, cold, and slow; Laugh at poor sots with insolent pretence, Yet cry, when tortured, where is Providence? In various forms the madd'ning spirit moves, This drinks and fights, another drinks and loves. A bastard zeal, of different kinds it shows, And now with rage, and now religion glows: The frantic soul bright reason's path defies, Now creeps on earth, now triumphs in the skies; Swims in the seas of error, and explores, Through midnight mists, the fluctuating shores; From wave to wave in rocky channel glides, And sinks in woe, or on presumption slides; In pride exalted, or by shame deprest, An angel-devil, or a human-beast. Some rage in all the strength of folly mad; Some love stupidity, in silence clad, Are never quarrelsome, are never gay, But sleep, and groan, and drink the night away; Old Torpio nods, and as the laugh goes round, Grunts through the nasal duct, and joins the sound. Then sleeps again, and, as the liquors pass, Wakes at the friendly jog, and takes his glass: Alike to him who stands, or reels, or moves, The elbow chair, good wine, and sleep he loves, Nor cares of state disturb his easy head, By grosser fumes and calmer follies fed; Nor thoughts of when, or where, or how to come, The canvass general, or the general doom; Extremes ne'er reach'd one passion of his soul, A villain tame, and an unmettled fool; To half his vices he has but pretence, For they usurp the place of common sense; To half his little merits has no claim, For very indolence has raised his name; Happy in this, that, under Satan's sway, His passions tremble, but will not obey. The vicar at the table's front presides, Whose presence a monastic life derides; The reverend wig, in sideway order placed, The reverend band, by rubric stains disgraced, The leering eye, in wayward circles roll'd, Mark him the pastor of a joyial fold, Whose various texts excite a loud applause, Favouring the bottle, and the good old cause. See! the dull smile which fearfully appears, When gross indecency her front uprears, The joy conceal'd, the fiercer burns within, As masks afford the keenest gust to sin; Imagination helps the reverend sire, And spreads the sails of sub-divine desire; But when the gay immoral joke goes round, When shame and all her blushing train are drown'd, Rather than hear his God blasphemed, he takes The last loved glass, and then the board forsakes. Not that religion prompts the sober thought, But slavish custom has the practice taught; Besides, this zealous son of warm devotion Has a true Levite bias for promotion. Vicars must with discretion go astray, Whilst bishops may be damn'd the nearest way; So puny robbers individuals kill, When hector-heroes murder as they will. Good honest Curio elbows the divine, And strives a social sinner how to shine; The dull quaint tale is his, the lengthen'd tale, That Wilton farmers give you with their ale, How midnight ghosts o'er vaults terrific pass, Dance o'er the grave, and slide along the grass; Or how pale Cicely within the wood Call'd Satan forth, and bargain'd with her blood. These, honest Curio, are thine, and these Are the dull treasures of a brain at peace; No wit intoxicates thy gentle skull, Of heavy, native, unwrought folly full: Bowl upon bowl in vain exert their force, The breathing spirit takes a downward course, Or mainly soaring upwards to the head, Meets an impenetrable fence of lead. Hast thou, oh reader! searched o'er gentle Gay, Where various animals their powers display? In one strange group a chattering race are hurl'd, Led by the monkey who had seen the world. Like him Fabricio steals from guardian's side, Swims not in pleasure's stream, but sips the tide: He hates the bottle, yet but thinks it right To boast next day the honours of the night; None like your coward can describe a fight. See him as down the sparkling potion goes, Labour to grin away the horrid dose; In joy-feigned gaze his misty eyeballs float, Th' uncivil spirit gurgling at his throat; So looks dim Titan through a wintry scene, And faintly cheers the woe-foreboding swain. Timon, long practised in the school of art, Has lost each finer feeling of the heart; Triumphs o'er shame, and, with delusive wiles, Laughs at the idiot he himself beguiles: So matrons, past the awe of censure's tongue, Deride the blushes of the fair and young. Few with more fire on every subject spoke, But chief he loved the gay immoral joke; The words most sacred, stole from holy writ, He gave a newer form, and called them wit. Vice never had a more sincere ally, So bold no sinner, yet no saint so sly; Learn'd, but not wise, and without virtue brave, A gay, deluding, philosophic knave. When Bacchus' joys his airy fancy fire, They stir a new, but still a false desire; And to the comfort of each untaught fool, Horace in English vindicates the bowl. "The man," says Timon, "who is drunk is blest, No fears disturb, no cares destroy his rest; In thoughtless joy he reels away his life, Nor dreads that worst of ills, a noisy wife." "Oh! place me, Jove, where none but women come, And thunders worse than thine afflict the room, Where one eternal nothing flutters round, And senseless titt'ring sense of mirth confound; Or lead me bound to garret, Babel-high, Where frantic poet rolls his crazy eye, Tiring the ear with oft-repeated chimes, And smiling at the never-ending rhymes: E'en here, or there, I'll be as blest as Jove, Give me tobacco, and the wine I love." Applause from hands the dying accents break, Of stagg'ring sots who vainly try to speak; From Milo, him who hangs upon each word, And in loud praises splits the tortured board, Collects each sentence, ere it's better known, And makes the mutilated joke his own. At weekly club to flourish, where he rules, The glorious president of grosser fools. But cease, my Muse! of those or these enough, The fools who listen, and the knaves who scoff; The jest profane, that mocks th' offended God, Defies his power, and sets at nought his rod; The empty laugh, discretion's vainest foe, From fool to fool re-echoed to and fro; The sly indecency, that slowly springs From barren wit, and halts on trembling wings: Enough of these, and all the charms of wine, Be sober joys and social evenings mine; Where peace and reason, unsoil'd mirth, improve The powers of friendship and the joys of love; Where thought meets thought ere words its form array, And all is sacred, elegant, and gay: Such pleasure leaves no sorrow on the mind, Too great to fall, to sicken too refined; Too soft for noise, and too sublime for art, The social solace of the feeling heart, For sloth too rapid, and for wit too high, 'Tis virtue's pleasure, and can never die!



"THE CANDIDATE" {2} A POETICAL EPISTLE TO THE AUTHORS OF THE MONTHLY REVIEW.



AN INTRODUCTORY ADDRESS OF THE AUTHOR TO HIS POEMS.

Multa quidem nobis facimus mala saepe poetae, (Ut vineta egomet caedam mea) cum tibi librum Sollicito damus, aut fesso, &c. HORACE, Epistle 1.

Ye idler things, that soothed my hours of care, Where would ye wander, triflers, tell me where? As maids neglected, do ye fondly dote, On the tair type, or the embroider'd coat; Detest my modest shelf, and long to fly Where princely Popes and mighty Miltons lie? Taught but to sing, and that in simple style, Of Lycia's lip, and Musidora's smile; - Go then! and taste a yet unfelt distress, The fear that guards the captivating press; Whose maddening region should ye once explore, No refuge yields my tongueless mansion more. But thus ye'll grieve, Ambition's plumage stript, "Ah, would to Heaven, we'd died in manuscript!" Your unsoil'd page each yawning wit shall flee, - For few will read, and none admire like me. - Its place, where spiders silent bards enrobe, Squeezed betwixt Cibber's Odes and Blackmore's Job; Where froth and mud, that varnish and deform, Feed the lean critic and the fattening worm; Then sent disgraced—the unpaid printer's bane - To mad Moorfields, or sober Chancery Lane, On dirty stalls I see your hopes expire, Vex'd by the grin of your unheeded sire, Who half reluctant has his care resign'd, Like a teased parent, and is rashly kind. Yet rush not all, but let some scout go forth, View the strange land, and tell us of its worth; And should he there barbarian usage meet, The patriot scrap shall warn us to retreat. And thou, the first of thy eccentric race, A forward imp, go, search the dangerous place, Where Fame's eternal blossoms tempt each bard, Though dragon-wits there keep eternal guard; Hope not unhurt the golden spoil to seize, The Muses yield, as the Hesperides; Who bribes the guardian, all his labour's done, For every maid is willing to be won. Before the lords of verse a suppliant stand, And beg our passage through the fairy land: Beg more—to search for sweets each blooming field, And crop the blossoms woods and valleys yield, To snatch the tints that beam on Fancy's bow; And feel the fires on Genius' wings that glow; Praise without meanness, without flattery stoop, Soothe without fear, and without trembling, hope.

TO THE READER.

The following Poem being itself of an introductory nature, its author supposes it can require but little preface.

It is published with a view of obtaining the opinion of the candid and judicious reader on the merits of the writer as a poet; very few, he apprehends, being in such cases sufficiently impartial to decide for themselves.

It is addressed to the Authors of the Monthy Review, as to critics of acknowledged merit; an acquaintance with whose labours has afforded the writer of this Epistle a reason for directing it to them in particular, and, he presumes, will yield to others a just and sufficient plea for the preference.

Familiar with disappointment, he shall not be much surprised to find he has mistaken his talent.

However, if not egregiously the dupe of his vanity, he promises to his readers some entertainment, and is assured that however little in the ensuing Poem is worthy of applause, there is yet less that merits contempt.

TO THE AUTHORS OF THE MONTHLY REVIEW.

The pious pilot, whom the gods provide, Through the rough seas the shatter'd bark to guide, Trusts not alone his knowledge of the deep, Its rocks that threaten, and its sands that sleep; But whilst with nicest skill he steers his way, The guardian Tritons hear their favourite pray. Hence borne his vows to Neptune's coral dome, The god relents, and shuts each gulfy tomb. Thus as on fatal floods to fame I steer, I dread the storm that ever rattles here, Nor think enough, that long my yielding soul Has felt the Muse's soft but strong control, Nor think enough, that manly strength and ease, Such as have pleased a friend, will strangers please; But, suppliant, to the critic's throne I bow, Here burn my incense, and here pay my vow; That censure hush'd, may every blast give o'er, And the lash'd coxcomb hiss contempt no more. And ye, whom authors dread or dare in vain, Affecting modest hopes, or poor disdain, Receive a bard, who neither mad nor mean, Despises each extreme, and sails between; Who fears; but has, amid his fears confess'd, The conscious virtue of a Muse oppress'd; A muse in changing times and stations nursed, By nature honour'd, and by fortune cursed. No servile strain of abject hope she brings, Nor soars presumptuous, with unwearied wings, But, pruned for flight—the future all her care - Would know her strength, and, if not strong, forbear. The supple slave to regal pomp bows down, Prostrate to power, and cringing to a crown; The bolder villain spurns a decent awe, Tramples on rule, and breaks through every law; But he whose soul on honest truth relies, Nor meanly flatters power, nor madly flies. Thus timid authors bear an abject mind, And plead for mercy they but seldom find. Some, as the desperate, to the halter run, Boldly deride the fate they cannot shun; But such there are, whose minds, not taught to stoop, Yet hope for fame, and dare avow their hope, Who neither brave the judges of their cause, Nor beg in soothing strains a brief applause. And such I'd be;—and ere my fate is past, Ere clear'd with honour, or with culprits cast, Humbly at Learning's bar I'll state my case, And welcome then distinction or disgrace! When in the man the flights of fancy reign, Rule in the heart or revel in the brain, As busy Thought her wild creation apes, And hangs delighted o'er her varying shapes, It asks a judgment, weighty and discreet, To know where wisdom prompts, and where conceit. Alike their draughts to every scribbler's mind (Blind to their faults as to their danger blind); - We write enraptured, and we write in haste, Dream idle dreams, and call them things of taste, Improvement trace in every paltry line, And see, transported, every dull design; Are seldom cautious, all advice detest, And ever think our own opinions best; Nor shows my Muse a muse-like spirit here, Who bids me pause, before I persevere. But she—who shrinks while meditating flight In the wide way, whose bounds delude her sight, Yet tired in her own mazes still to roam, And cull poor banquets for the soul at home, Would, ere she ventures, ponder on the way, Lest dangers yet unthought of, flight betray; Lest her Icarian wing, by wits unplumed, Be robb'd of all the honours she assumed; And Dulness swell,—a black and dismal sea, Gaping her grave; while censures madden me. Such was his fate, who flew too near the sun, Shot far beyond his strength, and was undone; Such is his fate, who creeping at the shore The billow sweeps him, and he's found no more. Oh! for some god, to bear my fortunes fair Midway betwixt presumption and despair! "Has then some friendly critic's former blow Taught thee a prudence authors seldom know?" Not so! their anger and their love untried, A woe-taught prudence deigns to tend my side: Life's hopes ill-sped, the Muse's hopes grow poor, And though they flatter, yet they charm no more; Experience points where lurking dangers lay, And as I run, throws caution in my way. There was a night, when wintry winds did rage, Hard by a ruin'd pile, I meet a sage; Resembling him the time-struck place appear'd, Hollow its voice, and moss its spreading beard; Whose fate-lopp'd brow, the bat's and beetle's dome, Shook, as the hunted owl flew hooting home. His breast was bronzed by many an eastern blast, And fourscore winters seem'd he to have past; His thread-bare coat the supple osier bound, And with slow feet he press'd the sodden ground, Where, as he heard the wild-wing'd Eurus blow, He shook, from locks as white, December's snow; Inured to storm, his soul ne'er bid it cease, But lock'd within him meditated peace. Father, I said—for silver hairs inspire, And oft I call the bending peasant Sire - Tell me, as here beneath this ivy bower, That works fantastic round its trembling tower, We hear Heaven's guilt-alarming thunders roar, Tell me the pains and pleasures of the poor; For Hope, just spent, requires a sad adieu, And Fear acquaints me I shall live with you. There was a time when, by Delusion led, A scene of sacred bliss around me spread, On Hope's, as Pisgah's lofty top, I stood, And saw my Canaan there, my promised good; A thousand scenes of joy the clime bestow'd, And wine and oil through vision's valleys flow'd; As Moses his, I call'd my prospect bless'd, And gazed upon the good I ne'er possess'd: On this side Jordan doom'd by fate to stand, Whilst happier Joshuas win the promised land. "Son," said the Sage—"be this thy care suppress'd; The state the gods shall chose thee is the best: Rich if thou art, they ask thy praises more, And would thy patience when they make thee poor; But other thoughts within thy bosom reign, And other subjects vex thy busy brain, Poetic wreaths thy vainer dreams excite, And thy sad stars have destined thee to write. Then since that task the ruthless fates decree, Take a few precepts from the gods and me! "Be not too eager in the arduous chase; Who pants for triumph seldom wins the race: Venture not all, but wisely hoard thy worth, And let thy labours one by one go forth: Some happier scrap capricious wits may find On a fair day, and be profusely kind; Which, buried in the rubbish of a throng, Had pleased as little as a new-year's song, Or lover's verse, that cloy'd with nauseous sweet, Or birth-day ode, that ran on ill-pair'd feet. Merit not always—Fortune feeds the bard, And as the whim inclines bestows reward: None without wit, nor with it numbers gain; To please is hard, but none shall please in vain: As a coy mistress is the humour'd town, Loth every lover with success to crown; He who would win must every effort try, Sail in the mode, and to the fashion fly; Must gay or grave to every humour dress, And watch the lucky Moment of Success; That caught, no more his eager hopes are crost; But vain are Wit and Love, when that is lost." Thus said the god; for now a god he grew His white locks changing to a golden hue, And from his shoulders hung a mantle azure-blue. His softening eyes the winning charm disclosed Of dove-like Delia when her doubts reposed; Mira's alone a softer lustre bear, When woe beguiles them of an angel's tear; Beauteous and young the smiling phantom stood, Then sought on airy wing his blest abode. Ah! truth, distasteful in poetic theme, Why is the Muse compell'd to own her dream? Whilst forward wits had sworn to every line, I only wish to make its moral mine. Say then, O ye who tell how authors speed, May Hope indulge her flight, and I succeed? Say, shall my name, to future song prefixed, Be with the meanest of the tuneful mix'd? Shall my soft strains the modest maid engage, My graver numbers move the silver "d sage, My tender themes delight the lover's heart, And comfort to the poor my solemn songs impart? For Oh! thou Hope's, thou Thought's eternal King, Who gav'st them power to charm, and me to sing - Chief to thy praise my willing numbers soar, And in my happier transports I adore; Mercy! thy softest attribute proclaim, Thyself in abstract, thy more lovely name; That flings o'er all my grief a cheering ray, As the full moon-beam gilds the watery way. And then too, Love, my soul's resistless lord, Shall many a gentle, generous strain afford, To all the soil of sooty passion blind, Pure as embracing angels and as kind; Our Mira's name in future times shall shine, And—though the harshest—Shepherds envy mine. Then let me (pleasing task!) however hard, Join, as of old, the prophet and the bard; If not, ah! shield me from the dire disgrace, That haunts our wild and visionary race; Let me not draw my lengthen'd lines along, And tire in untamed infamy of song, Lest, in some dismal Dunciad's future page, I stand the CIBBER of this tuneless age; Lest, in another POPE th' indulgent skies Should give inspired by all their deities, My luckless name, in his immortal strain, Should, blasted, brand me as a second Cain; Doom'd in that song to live against my will, Whom all must scorn, and yet whom none could kill. The youth, resisted by the maiden's art, Persists, and time subdues her kindling heart; To strong entreaty yields the widow's vow, As mighty walls to bold beseigers bow; Repeated prayers draw bounty from the sky, And heaven is won by importunity; Ours, a projecting tribe, pursue in vain, In tedious trials, an uncertain gain; Madly plunge on through every hope's defeat, And with our ruin only find the cheat. "And why then seek that luckless doom to share?" Who, I?—To shun it is my only care. I grant it true, that others better tell Of mighty WOLFE, who conquer'd as he fell; Of heroes born, their threaten'd realms to save, Whom Fame anoints, and Envy tends whose grave; Of crimson'd fields, where Fate, in dire array, Gives to the breathless the short-breathing clay; Ours, a young train, by humbler fountains dream, Nor taste presumptuous the Pierian stream; When Rodney's triumph comes on eagle-wing, We hail the victor whom we fear to sing; Nor tell we how each hostile chief goes on, The luckless Lee, or wary Washington; How Spanish bombast blusters—they were beat, And French politeness dulcifies—defeat. My modest Muse forbears to speak of kings, Lest fainting stanzas blast the name she sings; For who—the tenant of the beechen shade, Dares the big thought in regal breasts pervade? Or search his soul, whom each too-favouring god Gives to delight in plunder, pomp, and blood? No; let me free from Cupid's frolic round, Rejoice, or more rejoice by Cupid bound; Of laughing girls in smiling couplets tell, And paint the dark-brow'd grove, where wood-nymphs dwell; Who bid invading youths their vengeance feel, And pierce the votive hearts they mean to heal. Such were the themes I knew in school-day ease, When first the moral magic learn'd to please, Ere Judgment told how transports warm'd the breast, Transported Fancy there her stores imprest; The soul in varied raptures learn'd to fly, Felt all their force, and never question'd why; No idle doubts could then her peace molest, She found delight, and left to heaven the rest; Soft joys in Evening's placid shades were born; And where sweet fragrance wing'd the balmy morn, When the wild thought roved vision's circuit o'er, And caught the raptures, caught, alas! no more: No care did then a dull attention ask, For study pleased, and that was every task; No guilty dreams stalk'd that heaven-favour'd round, Heaven-guarded, too, no Envy entrance found; Nor numerous wants, that vex advancing age, Nor Flattery's silver tale, nor Sorrow's sage; Frugal Affliction kept each growing dart, To o'erwhelm in future days the bleeding heart. No sceptic art veil'd Pride in Truth's disguise, But prayer unsoil'd of doubt besieged the skies; Ambition, avarice, care, to man retired, Nor came desires more quick than joys desired. A summer morn there was, and passing fair, Still was the breeze, and health perfumed the air; The glowing east in crimson'd splendour shone, What time the eye just marks the pallid moon, Vi'let-wing'd Zephyr fann'd each opening flower, And brush'd from fragrant cups the limpid shower; A distant huntsman fill'd his cheerful horn, The vivid dew hung trembling on the thorn, And mists, like creeping rocks, arose to meet the morn. Huge giant shadows spread along the plain, Or shot from towering rocks o'er half the main, There to the slumbering bark the gentle tide Stole soft, and faintly beat against its side; Such is that sound, which fond designs convey, When, true to love, the damsel speeds away; The sails unshaken, hung aloft unfurl'd, And simpering nigh, the languid current curl'd; A crumbling ruin, once a city's pride, The well-pleased eye through withering oaks descried, Where Sadness, gazing on time's ravage, hung, And Silence to Destruction's trophy clung - Save that as morning songsters swell'd their lays, Awaken'd Echo humm'd repeated praise: The lark on quavering pinion woo'd the day, Less towering linnets fill'd the vocal spray, And song-invited pilgrims rose to pray. Here at a pine-press'd hill's embroider'd base I stood, and hail'd the Genius of the place. Then was it doom'd by fate, my idle heart, Soften'd by Nature, gave access to Art; The Muse approach'd, her syren-song I heard, Her magic felt, and all her charms revered: E'er since she rules in absolute control, And Mira only dearer to my soul. Ah! tell me not these empty joys to fly, If they deceive, I would deluded die; To the fond themes my heart so early wed, So soon in life to blooming visions led, So prone to run the vague uncertain course, 'Tis more than death to think of a divorce. What wills the poet of the favouring gods, Led to their shrine, and blest in their abodes? What when he fills the glass, and to each youth Names his loved maid, and glories in his truth? Not India's spoils, the splended nabob's pride, Not the full trade of Hermes' own Cheapside, Nor gold itself, nor all the Ganges laves, Or shrouds, well shrouded in his sacred waves; Nor gorgeous vessels deck'd in trim array, Which the more noble Thames bears far away; Let those whose nod makes sooty subjects flee? Hack with blunt steel the savory callipee; Let those whose ill-used wealth their country fly, Virtue-scorn'd wines from hostile France to buy; Favour'd by Fate, let such in joy appear, Their smuggled cargoes landed thrice a year; Disdaining these, for simpler food I'll look, And crop my beverage at the mantled brook. O Virtue! brighter than the noon-tide ray, My humble prayers with sacred joys repay! Health to my limbs may the kind gods impart, And thy fair form delight my yielding heart! Grant me to shun each vile inglorious road, To see thy way, and trace each moral good: If more—let Wisdom's sons my page peruse, And decent credit deck my modest Muse. Nor deem it pride that prophesies my song Shall please the sons of taste, and please them long. Say ye! to whom my Muse submissive brings Her first-fruit offering, and on trembling wings, May she not hope in future days to soar, Where fancy's sons have led the way before? Where genius strives in each ambrosial bower To snatch with agile hand the opening flower? To cull what sweets adorn the mountain's brow, What humbler blossoms crown the vales below? To blend with these the stores by art refined, And give the moral Flora to the mind? Far other scenes my timid hour admits, Relentless critics and avenging wits; E'en coxcombs take a licence from their pen, And to each "Let him perish," cry Amen! And thus, with wits or fools my heart shall cry, For if they please not, let the trifles die: Die, and be lost in dark oblivion's shore, And never rise to vex their author more. I would not dream o'er some soft liquid line, Amid a thousand blunders form'd to shine; Yet rather this, than that dull scribbler be, From every fault and every beauty free, Curst with tame thoughts and mediocrity. Some have I found so thick beset with spots, 'Twas hard to trace their beauties through their blots; And these, as tapers round a sick man's room Or passing chimes, but warn'd me of the tomb! O! if you blast, at once consume my bays, And damn me not with mutilated praise. With candour judge; and, a young bard in view, Allow for that, and judge with kindness too; Faults he must own, though hard for him to find, Not to some happier merits quite so blind; These if mistaken Fancy only sees, Or Hope, that takes Deformity for these: If Dunce, the crowd-befitting title falls His lot, and Dulness her new subject calls, To the poor bard alone your censures give - Let his fame die, but let his honour live; Laugh if you must—be candid as you can, And when you lash the Poet, spare the Man.



Footnotes:

{1} First published in Ipswich, 1775.

{2} First published 1780.

THE END

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