English Poet and Translator
English Poet and Translator
A snow of blossoms, and a wild of flowers.
Ah! curst ambition! to thy lures we owe all the great ills that mortals bear below.
I hear a voice you cannot hear, which says I must not stay; I see a hand you cannot see, which beckons me away.
Just men, by whom impartial laws were given; and saints who taught and led the way to heaven.
Nor e’er was to the bowers of bliss conveyed a fairer spirit or more welcome shade.
The sweetest garland to the sweetest maid.
There taught us how to live; and (oh, too high the price for knowledge!) taught us how to die.
To Mr. Addison on His Tragedy of Cato -
Too long hath love engross'd Britannia's stage,
And sunk to softness all our tragic rage:
By that alone did empires fall or rise,
And fate depended on a fair-one's eyes:
The sweet infection, mixt with dangerous art,
Debas'd our manhood, while it sooth'd the heart.
You scorn to raise a grief thyself must blame,
Nor from our weakness steal a vulgar fame:
A patriot's fall may justly melt the mind,
And tears flow nobly, shed for all mankind.
How do our souls with generous pleasure glow!
Our hearts exulting, while our eyes o'erflow,
When thy firm hero stands beneath the weight
Of all his sufferings venerably great;
Rome's poor remains still sheltering by his side,
With conscious virtue, and becoming pride!
The aged oak thus rears his head in air,
His sap exhausted, and his branches bare;
'Midst storms and earthquakes, he maintains his state,
Fixt deep in earth, and fasten'd by his weight
His naked boughs still lend the shepherds aid,
And his old trunk projects an awful shade.
Amidst the joys triumphant peace bestows,
Our patriots sadden at his glorious woes;
Awhile they let the world's great business wait,
Anxious for Rome, and sigh for Cato's fate.
Here taught how ancient heroes rose to fame,
Our Britons crowd, and catch the Roman flame,
Where states and senates well might lend an ear,
And kings and priests without a blush appear.
France boasts no more, but, fearful to engage,
Now first pays homage to her rival's stage,
Hastes to learn thee, and learning shall submit
Alike to British arms, and British wit:
No more she'll wonder, forc'd to do us right,
Who think like Romans, could like Romans fight.
Thy Oxford smiles this glorious work to see,
And fondly triumphs in a son like thee.
The senates, consuls, and the gods of Rome,
Like old acquaintance at their native home,
In thee we find: each deed, each word exprest,
And every thought that swell'd a Roman breast,
We trace each hint that could thy soul inspire
With Virgil's judgement, and with Lucan's fire;
We know thy worth, and, give us leave to boast,
We most admire, because we know thee most.
The babbling sounds that mimic echo plays,
The fairy shade, and its eternal maze?
Nature and Art in all their charms combin'd,
And all Elysium to one view confin'd!
To a Lady Before Marriage -
Oh! form'd by Nature, and refin'd by Art,
With charms to win, and sense to fix the heart!
By thousands sought, Clotilda, canst thou free
Thy croud of captives and descend to me?
Content in shades obscure to waste thy life,
A hidden beauty and a country wife.
O! listen while thy summers are my theme,
Ah! sooth thy partner in his waking dream!
In some small hamlet on the lonely plain,
Where Thames, through meadows, rolls his mazy train;
Or where high Windsor, thick with greens array'd,
Waves his old oaks, and spreads his ample shade,
Fancy has figur'd out our calm retreat;
Already round the visionary seat
Our limes begin to shoot, our flowers to spring,
The brooks to murmur, and the birds to sing.
Where dost thou lie, thou thinly-peopled green?
Thou nameless lawn, and village yet unseen?
Where sons, contented with their native ground,
Ne'er travell'd further than ten furlongs round;
And the tann'd peasant, and his ruddy bride,
Were born together, and together died.
Where early larks best tell the morning light,
And only Philomel disturbs the night,
'Midst gardens here my humble pile shall rise,
With sweets surrounded of ten thousand dies;
All savage where th' embroider'd gardens end,
The haunt of echoes, shall my woods ascend;
And oh! if Heaven th' ambitious thought approve,
A rill shall warble cross the gloomy grove,
A little rill, o'er pebbly beds convey'd,
Gush down the steep, and glitter through the glade.
What chearing scents those bordering banks exhale!
How loud that heifer lows from yonder vale!
That thrush how shrill! his note so clear, so high,
He drowns each feather'd minstrel of the sky.
Here let me trace beneath the purpled morn,
The deep-mouth'd beagle, and the sprightly horn;
Or lure the trout with well dissembled flies,
Or fetch the fluttering partridge from the skies.
Nor shall thy hand disdain to crop the vine,
The downy peach, or flavour'd nectarine;
Or rob the bee-hive of its golden hoard,
And bear th' unbought luxuriance to thy board.
Sometimes my books by day shall kill the hours,
While from thy needle rise the silken flowers,
And thou, by turns, to ease my feeble sight,
Resume the volume, and deceive the night.
Oh! when I mark thy twinkling eyes opprest,
Soft whispering, let me warn my love to rest;
Then watch thee, charm'd, while sleep locks every sense,
And to sweet Heaven commend thy innocence.
Thus reign'd our fathers o'er the rural fold,
Wise, hale, and honest in the days of old;
Till courts arose, where substance pays for show,
And specious joys are bought with real woe.
See Flavia's pendants, large, well-spread, and right,
The ear that wears them hears a fool each night:
Mark how the embroider'd colonel sneaks away,
To shun the withering dame that made him gay;
That knave, to gain a title, lost his fame;
That rais'd his credit by a daughter's shame;
This coxcomb's ribband cost him half his land,
And oaks, unnumber'd, bought that fool a wand.
Fond man, as all his sorrows were too few,
Acquires strange wants that nature never knew,
By midnight lamps he emulates the day,
And sleeps, perverse, the chearful suns away;
From goblets high-embost, his wine must glide,
Found his clos'd sight the gorgeous curtain slide;
Fruits ere their time to grace his pomp must rise,
And three untasted courses glut his eyes.
For this are nature's gentle calls withstood,
The voice of conscience, and the bonds of blood;
This wisdom thy reward for every pain,
And this gay glory all thy mighty gain.
Fair phantoms woo'd and scorn'd from age to age,
Since bards began to laugh, and priests to rage.
And yet, just curse on man's aspiring kind,
Prone to ambition, to example blind,
Our children's children shall our steps pursue,
And the same errours be for ever new.
Mean while in hope a guiltless country swain,
My reed with warblings chears the imagin'd plain.
Hail humble shades, where truth and silence dwell!
The noisy town and faithless court farewell!
Farewell ambition, once my darling flame!
The thirst of lucre, and the charm of fame!
In life's by-road, that winds through paths unknown,
My days, though number'd, shall be all my own.
Here shall they end, (O! might they twice begin)
And all be white the Fates intend to spin.
To the Lord Privy Seal -
Contending kings, and fields of death, too long
Have been the subject of the British song.
Who hath not read of fam'd Ramillia's plain,
Bavaria's fall, and Danube choak'd with slain!
Exhausted themes! a gentler note I raise,
And sing returning peace in softer lays.
Their fury quell'd, and martial rage allay'd,
I wait our heroes in the sylvan shade:
Disbanding hosts are imag'd to my mind,
And warring powers in friendly leagues combin'd,
While ease and pleasure make the nations smile,
And Heaven and Anna bless Britannia's isle.
Well sends our queen her mitred Bristol forth,
For early counsels fam'd, and long-try'd worth;
Who, thirty rolling years, had oft withheld
The Swede and Saxon from the dusty field;
Completely form'd to heal the Christian wounds,
To name the kings, and give each kingdom bounds;
The face of ravag'd Nature to repair,
By leagues to soften Earth, and Heaven by prayer,
To gain by love, where rage and slaughter fail,
And make the crosier o'er the sword prevail.
So when great Moses, with Jehovah's wand,
Had scatter'd plagues o'er stubborn Pharaoh's land,
Now spread an host of locusts round the shore,
Now turn'd Nile's fattening streams to putrid gore;
Plenty and gladness mark'd the priest of God,
And sudden almonds shot from Aaron's rod.
O thou, from whom these bounteous blessings flow,
To whom, as chief, the hopes of peace we owe,
(For next to thee, the man whom kings contend
To style companion, and to make their friend,
Great Strafford, rich in every courtly grace,
With joyful pride accepts the second place)
From Britain's isle, and Isis' sacred spring,
One hour, oh! listen while the Muses sing.
Though ministers of mighty monarchs wait,
With beating hearts to learn their masters' fate,
One hour forbear to speak thy queen's commands,
Nor think the world, thy charge, neglected stands;
The blissful prospects, in my verse display'd
May lure the stubborn, the deceiv'd persuade:
Ev'n thou to peace shalt speedier urge the way,
And more be hasten'd by this short delay.
In vain with powers renew'd he fill'd the plain,
Made timorous vows, and brib'd the saints in vain;
As oft his legions did the fight decline,
Lurk'd in the trench, and skulk'd behind the line.
Before his eyes the fancied javelin gleams,
At feasts he starts, and seems dethron'd in dreams;
On glory past reflects with secret pain,
On mines exhausted, and on millions slain.
Ah! curst Ambition, to thy lures we owe
All the great ills, that mortals bear below.
Curst by the hind, when to the spoil he yields
His year's whole sweat, and vainly ripen'd fields;
Curst by the maid, torn from her lover's side,
When left a widow, though not yet a bride;
By mothers curst, when floods of tears they shed,
And scatter useless roses on the dead.
He marks, and makes the golden world our own,
Content with hands unsoil'd to guard the prize,
And keep the store with undesiring eyes.
So round the tree, that bore Hesperian gold,
The sacred watch lay curl'd in many a fold,
His eyes up-rearing to th' untasted prey,
The sleepless guardian wasted life away.
And smit with passion for my country's praise,
My artless reed attempts this lofty theme,
Where sacred Isis rolls her ancient stream;
In cloister'd domes, the great Philippa's pride,
Where Learning blooms, while Fame and Worth preside,
Where the fifth Henry arts and arms was taught,
And Edward form'd his Cressy, yet unfought,
Where laurel'd bards have struck the warbling strings,
The seat of sages, and the nurse of kings.
Here thy commands, O Lancaster, inflame
My eager breast to raise the British name,
Urge on my soul, with no ignoble pride,
To woo the Muse, whom Addison enjoy'd,
See that bold swan to Heaven sublimely soar,
Pursue at distance, and his steps adore.
Vain man would trace the mystic maze with foolish wisdom, arguing, charge his God, his balance hold, and guide his angry rod, new-mould the spheres, and mend the skies’ design, and sound th’ immense with his short scanty line. Do thou, my soul, the destined period wait, when God shall solve the dark decrees of fate, His now unequal dispensation clear, and make all wise and beautiful appear.