Page images
[blocks in formation]

Oh vain to seek delight in earthly thing! But most in courts, where proud ambition towers; Deluded wight! who weens fair peace can spring Beneath the pompous dome of kesar or of king.

See in each sprite some various bent appear! These rudely carol most incondite lay; Those sauntering on the green, with jocund leer Salute the stranger passing on his way; Some builden fragile tenements of clay; Some to the standing lake their courses bend, With pebbles smooth at duck and drake to play; Thilk to the huxter's savoury cottage tend, In pastry kings and queens the allotted mite to spend.

Here as each season yields a different store, Each season's stores in order ranged been; Apples with cabbage-net y-covered o'er, Galling full sore the unmoneyed wight, are seen, And goosebrie clad in livery red or green; And here, of lovely dye, the catharine pear, Fine pear! as lovely for thy juice, I ween; O may no wight e'er penniless come there, Lest, smit with ardent love, he pine with hopeless care.

See, cherries here, ere cherries yet abound, With thread so white in tempting posies tied, Scattering, like blooming maid, their glances round, With pampered look draw little eyes aside; And must be bought, though penury betide. The plum all azure, and the nut all brown; And here each season do those cakes abide, Whose honoured names the inventive city own, Rendering through Britain's isle Salopia's praises


Admired Salopia! that with venial pride Eyes her bright form in Severn's ambient wave, Famed for her loyal cares in perils tried, Her daughters lovely, and her striplings brave: Ah! midst the rest, may flowers adorn his grave Whose art did first these dulcet cates display! A motive fair to learning's imps he gave, Who cheerless o'er her darkling region stray; Till reason's morn arise, and light them on their way.

A Pastoral Ballad, in Four Parts-1743.
'Arbusta humilesque myrica.-VIRG.

Ye shepherds, so cheerful and gay,
Whose flocks never carelessly roam;
Should Corydon's happen to stray,

Oh! call the poor wanderers home.
Allow me to muse and to sigh,

Nor talk of the change that ye None once was so watchful as I;

I have left my dear Phyllis behind. Now I know what it is to have strove

With the torture of doubt and desire; What it is to admire and to love,

And to leave her we love and admire. Ah! lead forth my flock in the morn,

And the damps of each evening repel ; Alas! I am faint and forlorn

I have bade my dear Phyllis farewell.


Since Phyllis vouchsafed me a look,

I never once dreamt of my vine;
May I lose both my pipe and my crook,
If I knew of a kid that was mine.
I prized every hour that went by,

Beyond all that had pleased me before; But now they are past, and I sigh,

And I grieve that I prized them no more.

*Shrewsbury Cakes.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Let his crook be with hyacinths bound,
So Phyllis the trophy despise:
Let his forehead with laurels be crowned,
So they shine not in Phyllis's eyes.
The language that flows from the heart,
Is a stranger to Paridel's tongue;
Yet may she beware of his art,
Or sure I must envy the song.


Ye shepherds, give ear to my lay,

And take no more heed of my sheep: They have nothing to do but to stray;

I have nothing to do but to weep. Yet do not my folly reprove;

She was fair, and my passion begun ; She smiled, and I could not but love; She is faithless, and I am undone.

Perhaps I was void of all thought:

Perhaps it was plain to foresee,
That a nymph so complete would be sought
By a swain more engaging than me.
Ah! love every hope can inspire;

It banishes wisdom the while;
And the lip of the nymph we admire
Seems for ever adorned with a smile.

She is faithless, and I am undone ;

Ye that witness the woes I endure, Let reason instruct you to shun

What it cannot instruct you to cure. Beware how you loiter in vain

Amid nymphs of a higher degree: It is not for me to explain

How fair and how fickle they be.

Alas! from the day that we met,

What hope of an end to my woes! When I cannot endure to forget

The glance that undid my repose. Yet time may diminish the pain:

The flower, and the shrub, and the tree, Which I reared for her pleasure in vain, In time may have comfort for me. The sweets of a dew-sprinkled rose,

The sound of a murmuring stream, The peace which from solitude flows,

Henceforth shall be Corydon's theme. High transports are shown to the sight,

But we are not to find them our own; Fate never bestowed such delight,

As I with my Phyllis had known.

O ye woods, spread your branches apace;
To your deepest recesses I fly;

I would hide with the beasts of the chase;
I would vanish from every eye.

Yet my reed shall resound through the grove
With the same sad complaint it begun;
How she smiled, and I could not but love;
Was faithless, and I am undone !

Song.-Jemmy Dawson.*

Come listen to my mournful tale,

Ye tender hearts and lovers dear; Nor will you scorn to heave a sigh, Nor will you blush to shed a tear.

* Captain James Dawson, the amiable and unfortunate subject of these stanzas, was one of the eight officers belonging to the Manchester regiment of volunteers, in the service of the young chevalier, who were hanged, drawn, and quartered, on Kennington-Common in 1746.

[blocks in formation]

To share thy bitter fate with thee.
O then her mourning-coach was called,
The sledge moved slowly on before;
Though borne in her triumphal car,

She had not loved her favourite more.
She followed him, prepared to view

The terrible behests of law;
And the last scene of Jemmy's woes
With calm and steadfast eye she saw.
Distorted was that blooming face,

Which she had fondly loved so long;
And stifled was that tuneful breath,

Which in her praise had sweetly sung : And severed was that beauteous neck,

Round which her arms had fondly closed; And mangled was that beauteous breast,

On which her love-sick head reposed:

And ravished was that constant heart,
She did to every heart prefer;
For though it could its king forget,

'Twas true and loyal still to her. Amid those unrelenting flames

She bore this constant heart to see; But when 'twas mouldered into dust, Now, now, she cried, I follow thee. My death, my death alone can show

The pure and lasting love I bore : Accept, O Heaven! of woes like ours, And let us, let us weep no more.

The dismal scene was o'er and past,

The lover's mournful hearse retired; The maid drew back her languid head, And, sighing forth his name, expired. Though justice ever must prevail,

The tear my Kitty sheds is due;
For seldom shall she hear a tale
So sad, so tender, and so true.

[Written at an Inn at Henley.] To thee, fair Freedom, I retire

From flattery, cards, and dice, and din; Nor art thou found in mansions higher Than the low cot or humble inn.

'Tis here with boundless power I reign,

And every health which I begin Converts dull port to bright champagne : Such freedom crowns it at an inn.

I fly from pomp, I fly from plate,

I fly from falsehood's specious grin ; Freedom I love, and form I hate,

And choose my lodgings at an inn. Here, waiter! take my sordid ore,

Which lackeys else might hope to win ; It buys what courts have not in store, It buys me freedom at an inn.

Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round, Where'er his stages may have been, May sigh to think he still has found The warmest welcome at an inn.


DAVID MALLET, author of some beautiful ballad stanzas, and some florid unimpassioned poems in blank verse, was a successful but unprincipled literary adventurer. He praised and courted Pope while living, and, after experiencing his kindness, traduced his memory when dead. He earned a disgraceful pension by contributing to the death of a brave naval officer, Admiral Byng, who fell a victim to the clamour of faction; and by various other acts of his life, he evinced that self-aggrandisement was his only steady and ruling passion. When Johnson, therefore, states that Mallet was the only Scot whom Scotchmen did not commend, he pays a compliment to the virtue and integrity of the natives of Scotland. The original name of the poet was Malloch, which, after his removal to London, and his intimacy with the great, he changed to Mallet, as more easily pronounced by the English. His father kept a small inn at Crieff, Perthshire, where David was born about the year 1700. He attended Aberdeen college, and was afterwards received, though without salary, as tutor in the family of Mr Home of Dreghorn, near Edinburgh. He next obtained a similar situation, but with a salary of £30 per annum, in the family of the Duke of Montrose. In 1723, he went to London with the duke's family, and next year his ballad of William and Margaret appeared in Hill's periodical, The Plain Dealer. He soon numbered among his friends Young, Pope, and other eminent persons, to whom his assiduous attentions, his agreeable manners, and literary taste, rendered his society acceptable. In 1733 he published a satire on Bentley, inscribed to Pope, entitled Verbal Criticism, in which he characterises the venerable scholar as

In error obstinate, in wrangling loud,
For trifles cager, positive, and proud;
Deep in the darkness of dull authors bred,
With all their refuse lumbered in his head.

Mallet was appointed under secretary to the Prince of Wales, with a salary of £200 per annum; and, in conjunction with Thomson, he produced, in 1740, the Masque of Alfred, in honour of the birth-day of the Princess Augusta. A fortunate second marriage (nothing is known of his first) brought to the poet a fortune of £10,000. The lady was daughter of Lord Carlisle's steward. Both Mallet and his wife professed to be deists, and the lady is said to have surprised some of her friends by commencing her arguments with-'Sir, we deists.' When Gibbon the historian was dismissed from his college at Oxford for embracing popery, he took refuge in Mallet's house, and was rather scandalised, he says, than reclaimed, by the philosophy of his host. Wilkes mentions that the vain and fantastic wife of Mallet one day lamented to a lady that her husband suffered in reputation by his name being so often confounded with that of Smollett; the lady wittily answered, Madam, there is a short remedy; let your husband keep his own name.' To gratify Lord Bolingbroke, Mallet, in his preface to the Patriot King, heaped abuse on the memory of Pope, and Bolingbroke rewarded him by bequeathing to him the whole of his works and manuscripts. When the government became unpopular by the defeat at Minorca, he was employed to defend them, and under the signature of a Plain Man, he published an address imputing cowardice to the admiral of the fleet. He succeeded: Byng was shot, and Mallet was pensioned. On the death of the Duchess of Marlborough, it was found that she had left £1000 to Glover, author of Leonidas,' and Mallet, jointly, on condition that they should draw up from the family papers a life of the great duke. Glover, indignant at a stipulation in the will, that the memoir was to be submitted before publication to the Earl of Chesterfield, and being a high-spirited man, devolved the whole on Mallet, who also received a pension from the second Duke of Marlborough, to stimulate his industry. He pretended to be busy with the work, and in the dedication to a small collection of his poems published in 1762, he stated that he hoped soon to present his grace with something more solid in the life of the first Duke of Marlborough. Mallet had received the solid money, and cared for nothing else. On his death, it was found that not a single line of the memoir had been written. In his latter days the poet held the lucrative situation of Keeper of the Book of Entries for the port of London. He died April 21, 1765.

Mallet wrote some theatrical pieces, which, though partially successful on their representation, are now utterly forgotten. Gibbon anticipated, that, if ever his friend should attain poetic fame, it would be acquired by his poem of Amyntor and Theodora. This, the longest of his poetical works, is a tale in blank verse, the scene of which is laid in the solitary island of St Kilda, whither one of his characters, Aurelius, had fled to avoid the religious persecutions under Charles II. Some highly-wrought descriptions of marine scenery, storms, and shipwreck, with a few touches of natural pathos and affection, constitute the chief characteristics of the poem. The whole, however, even the very names in such a locality, has an air of improbability and extravagance. Another work of the same kind, but inferior in execution, is his poem The Excursion, written in imitation of the style of Thomson's 'Seasons.' The defects of Thomson's style are servilely copied; some of his epithets and expressions are also borrowed; but there is no approach to his redeeming graces and beauties. Contrary to the dictum of Gibbon, the poetic fame of Mallet rests on his ballads, and chiefly on his William


and Margaret,' which, written at the age of twentythree, afforded high hopes of ultimate excellence. The simplicity, here remarkable, he seems to have thrown aside when he assumed the airs and dress of a man of taste and fashion. All critics, from Dr Percy downwards, have united in considering' William and Margaret' one of the finest compositions of the kind in our language. Sir Walter Scott conceived that Mallet had imitated an old Scottish tale to be found in Allan Ramsay's 'Tea-Table Miscellany,' beginning,

There came a ghost to Margaret's door. The resemblance is striking. Mallet confessed only (in a note to his ballad) to the following verse in Fletcher's' Knight of the Burning Pestle :

When it was grown to dark midnight,
And all were fast asleep,

In came Margaret's grimly ghost,
And stood at William's feet.

In the first printed copies of Mallet's ballad, the two first lines were nearly the same as the above

When all was wrapt in dark midnight, And all were fast asleep.

He improved the rhyme by the change; but beautiful as the idea is of night and morning meeting, it may be questioned whether there is not more of superstitious awe and affecting simplicity in the old words.

William and Margaret.

'Twas at the silent solemn hour, When night and morning meet; In glided Margaret's grimly ghost, And stood at William's feet.

Her face was like an April morn
Clad in a wintry cloud;
And clay-cold was her lily hand
That held her sable shroud.

So shall the fairest face appear

When youth and years are flown : Such is the robe that kings must wear, When death has reft their crown.

Her bloom was like the springing flower,
That sips the silver dew;
The rose was budded in her cheek,
Just opening to the view.

But love had, like the canker-worm,
Consumed her early prime;

The rose grew pale, and left her cheek-
She died before her time.

Awake! she cried, thy true love calls,
Come from her midnight grave:
Now let thy pity hear the maid
Thy love refused to save.

This is the dark and dreary hour

When injured ghosts complain; When yawning graves give up their dead, To haunt the faithless swain.

Bethink thee, William, of thy fault,
Thy pledge and broken oath!
And give me back my maiden-vow,
And give me back my troth.

Why did you promise love to me,
And not that promise keep?
Why did you swear my eyes were bright,
Yet leave those eyes to weep?

« PreviousContinue »