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Tetrastic-From the Persian.
On parent knees, a naked new-born child,
Weeping thou sat'st while all around thee smiled;
So live, that sinking in thy last long sleep,
Calm thou mayst smile, while all around thee weep.
FRANCIS FAWKES (1721-1777) translated Anacreon, Sappho, Bion, and other classic poets, and wrote some pleasing original verses. He was a clergyman, and died vicar of Hayes, in Kent. Fawkes enjoyed the friendship of Johnson and Warton; but, however classic in his tastes and studies, he seems, like Oldys, to have relished a cup of English ale. The following song is still, and will always be, a favourite:
Dear Tom, this brown jug that now foams with mild ale,
(In which I will drink to sweet Nan of the vale)
Was once Toby Fillpot, a thirsty old soul,
As e'er drank a bottle, or fathomed a bowl;
In bousing about 'twas his praise to excel,
And among jolly topers he bore off the bell.
It chanced as in dog-days he sat at his ease,
In his flower-woven arbour, as gay as you please,
With a friend and a pipe puffing sorrows away,
And with honest old stingo was soaking his clay,
His breath-doors of life on a sudden were shut,
And he died full as big as a Dorchester butt.
His body when long in the ground it had lain,
And time into clay had resolved it again,
A potter found out in its covert so snug,
And with part of fat Toby he formed this brown jug;
Now sacred to friendship, and mirth, and mild ale,
So here's to my lovely sweet Nan of the vale!
Johnson acknowledged that Frank Fawkes had
done the Odes of Anacreon very finely.'
WILLIAM WHITEHEAD (1715-1785) succeeded to the office of poet-laureate, after it had been refused by Gray. He was the son of a baker in Cambridge, and distinguished himself at Winchester school, on leaving which he obtained a scholarship at Clare-hall, in the university of his native town. He was afterwards tutor to the son of the Earl of Jersey. Whitehead had a taste for the drama, and wrote The Roman Father, and Creusa, two indifferent plays. After he had received his appointment as laureate, he was attacked by Churchill, and a host of inferior satirists, but he wisely made no reply. In the family of Lord Jersey he enjoyed comfort and happiness, till death, at seventy, put a period to his inoffensive life.
[This easy and playful poem opens with the description of a rural pair of easy fortune, who live much apart from society.]
Two smiling springs had waked the flowers
That paint the meads, or fringe the bowers,
(Ye lovers, lend your wondering ears,
Who count by months, and not by years),
Two smiling springs had chaplets wove
To crown their solitude, and love:
When, lo! they find, they can't tell how,
Their walks are not so pleasant now.
The seasons sure were changed; the place
Had, somehow, got a different face,
Some blast had struck the cheerful scene;
The lawns, the woods were not so green.
The purling rill, which murmured by,
And once was liquid harmony,
Became a sluggish, reedy pool;
The days grew hot, the evenings cool.
The moon, with all the starry reign,
Were melancholy's silent train.
And then the tedious winter night-
They could not read by candle-light.
Full oft, unknowing why they did,
They called in adventitious aid.
A faithful favourite dog ('twas thus
With Tobit and Telemachus)
Amused their steps; and for a while
They viewed his gambols with a smile.
The kitten, too, was comical,
She played so oddly with her tail,
Or in the glass was pleased to find
Another cat, and peeped behind.
A courteous neighbour at the door,
Was deemed intrusive noise no more.
For rural visits, now and then,
Are right, as men must live with men.
Then cousin Jenny, fresh from town,
A new recruit, a dear delight!
Made many a heavy hour go down,
At morn, at noon, at eve, at night:
Sure they could hear her jokes for ever,
She was so sprightly and so clever!
Yet neighbours were not quite the thing-
What joy, alas! could converse bring
With awkward creatures bred at home-
The dog grew dull, or troublesome,
The cat had spoiled the kitten's merit,
And, with her youth, had lost her spirit.
And jokes repeated o'er and o'er,
Had quite exhausted Jenny's store.
-And then, my dear, I can't abide
This always sauntering side by side.'
"Enough!" he cries, the reason's plain:
For causes never rack your brain.
Our neighbours are like other folks ;
Skip's playful tricks, and Jenny's jokes,
Are still delightful, still would please,
Were we, my dear, ourselves at ease.
Look round, with an impartial eye,
On yonder fields, on yonder sky;
The azure cope, the flowers below,
With all their wonted colours glow;
The rill still murmurs; and the moon
Shines, as she did, a softer sun.
No change has made the seasons fail,
No comet brushed us with his tail.
The scene's the same, the same the weather-
We live, my dear, too much together.'
Agreed. A rich old uncle dies,
And added wealth the means supplies.
With eager haste to town they flew,
Where all must please, for all was new.
Why should we paint, in tedious song,
How every day, and all day long,
They drove at first with curious haste
Through Lud's vast town; or, as they passed
'Midst risings, fallings, and repairs
Of streets on streets, and squares on squares,
Describe how strong their wonder grew
At buildings and at builders too!
When Night her murky pinions spread,
And sober folks retire to bed,
To every public place they flew,
Where Jenny told them who was who.
Money was always at command,
And tripped with pleasure hand in hand.
Money was equipage, was show,
Gallini's, Almack's, and Soho;
The passe-partout through every vein
Of dissipation's hydra reign.
Suffice it, that by just degrees
They reached all heights, and rose with ease;
(For beauty wins its way uncalled,
And ready dupes are ne'er black-balled.)
Each gambling dame she knew, and he
Knew every shark of quality;
From the grave cautious few who live
On thoughtless youth, and living thrive,
To the light train who mimic France,
And the soft sons of nonchalance.
While Jenny, now no more of use,
Excuse succeeding to excuse,
Grew piqued, and prudently withdrew
To shilling whist, and chicken loo.
Advanced to fashion's wavering head,
They now, where once they followed, led;
Devised new systems of delight,
A-bed all day, and up all night,
In different circles reigned supreme;
Wives copied her, and husbands him;
Till so divinely life ran on,
So separate, so quite bon-ton,
That, meeting in a public place,
They scarcely knew each other's face.
At last they met, by his desire,
A tête-à-tête across the fire;
Looked in each other's face awhile,
With half a tear, and half a smile.
The ruddy health, which wont to grace
With manly glow his rural face,
Now scarce retained its faintest streak,
So sallow was his leathern cheek.
She, lank and pale, and hollow-eyed,
With rouge had striven in vain to hide
What once was beauty, and repair
The rapine of the midnight air.
Silence is eloquence, 'tis said.
Both wished to speak, both hung the head.
At length it burst. "Tis time,' he cries,
'When tired of folly, to be wise.
Are you too tired ?'-then checked a groan.
She wept consent, and he went on:
'How delicate the married life!
You love your husband, I my wife;
Not even satiety could tame,
Nor dissipation quench the flame.
True to the bias of our kind,
'Tis happiness we wish to find.
In rural scenes retired we sought
In vain the dear, delicious draught,
Though blest with love's indulgent store,
We found we wanted something more.
'Twas company, 'twas friends to share
The bliss we languished to declare;
'Twas social converse, change of scene,
To soothe the sullen hour of spleen;
Short absences to wake desire,
And sweet regrets to fan the fire.
We left the lonesome place, and found,
In dissipation's giddy round,
A thousand novelties to wake
The springs of life, and not to break.
As, from the nest not wandering far,
In light excursions through the air,
The feathered tenants of the grove
Around in mazy circles move,
Sip the cool springs that murmuring flow,
Or taste the blossom on the bough;
We sported freely with the rest;
And still, returning to the nest,
In easy mirth we chatted o'er
The trifles of the day before.
Behold us now, dissolving quite
In the full ocean of delight;
In pleasures every hour employ,
Immersed in all the world calls joy;
Our affluence easing the expense
Of splendour and magnificence;
Our company, the exalted set
Of all that's gay, and all that's great:
Nor happy yet! and where's the wonder!
We live, my dear, too much asunderl
The moral of my tale is this:
Variety's the soul of bliss;
But such variety alone
As makes our home the more our own.
As from the heart's impelling power
The life-blood pours its genial store;
Though taking each a various way,
The active streams meandering play
Through every artery, every vein,
All to the heart return again;
From thence resume their new career,
But still return and centre there;
So real happiness below
Must from the heart sincerely flow;
Nor, listening to the syren's song,
Must stray too far, or rest too long.
All human pleasures thither tend;
Must there begin, and there must end;
Must there recruit their languid force,
And gain fresh vigour from their source.
DR JAMES GRAINGER (1721-1766) was, according to his own statement, seen by Mr Prior, the biographer of Goldsmith, of a gentleman's family in Cumberland.' He studied medicine in Edinburgh, was in the army, and, on the peace, established himself as a medical practitioner in London. His poem of Solitude appeared in 1755, and was praised by Johnson, who considered the opening very noble.' Grainger wrote several other pieces, translated Tibullus, and was a critic in the Monthly Review. In 1759 he went to St Christophers, in the West Indies, commenced practising as a physician, and married a lady of fortune. During his residence there, he wrote his poem of the Sugar-Cane, which Shenstone thought capable of being rendered a good poem; and the arguments in which, Southey says, are ludicrously flat and formal.' One point is certainly ridiculous enough; 'he very poetically,' says Campbell,dignifies the poor negroes with the name of "swains." Grainger died in the West Indies.
O Solitude, romantic maid!
Whether by nodding towers you tread,
Or haunt the desert's trackless gloom,
Or hover o'er the yawning tomb,
Or climb the Andes' clifted side,
Or by the Nile's coy source abide,
Or starting from your half-year's sleep,
From Hecla view the thawing deep,
Or, at the purple dawn of day,
Tadmor's marble wastes survey,
You, recluse, again, I woo,
And again your steps pursue.
Plumed Conceit himself surveying,
Folly with her shadow playing,
Purse-proud, elbowing Insolence,
Bloated empiric, puffed Pretence,
Noise that through a trumpet speaks,
Laughter in loud peals that breaks,
Intrusion with a fopling's face,
(Ignorant of time and place),
Sparks of fire Dissension blowing,
Ductile, court-bred Flattery, bowing,
Restraint's stiff neck, Grimace's leer,
Squint-eyed Censure's artful sneer,
Ambition's buskins, steeped in blood,
Fly thy presence, Solitude.
Sage Reflection, bent with years,
Conscious Virtue void of fears,
Muffled Silence, wood-nymph shy,
Meditation's piercing eye,
Halcyon Peace on moss reclined,
Retrospect that scans the mind,
Wrapt earth-gazing Reverie,
Blushing artless Modesty,
Health that snuffs the morning air,
Full-eyed Truth with bosom bare,
Inspiration, Nature's child,
Seek the solitary wild.
You, with the tragic muse retired,
The wise Euripides inspired;
You taught the sadly-pleasing air
That Athens saved from ruins bare.
You gave the Cean's tears to flow,
And unlocked the springs of wo;
You penned what exiled Naso thought,
And poured the melancholy note.
With Petrarch o'er Vaucluse you strayed,
When death snatched his long-loved maid;
You taught the rocks her loss to mourn,
Ye strewed with flowers her virgin urn.
And late in Hagley you were seen,
With bloodshot eyes, and sombre mien;
Hymen his yellow vestment tore,
And Dirge a wreath of cypress wore.
But chief your own the solemn lay
That wept Narcissa young and gay;
Darkness clapped her sable wing,
While you touched the mournful string;
Anguish left the pathless wild,
Grim-faced Melancholy smiled,
Drowsy Midnight ceased to yawn,
The starry host put back the dawn;
Aside their harps even seraphs flung
To hear thy sweet Complaint, O Young!
When all nature's hushed asleep,
Nor Love nor Guilt their vigils keep,
Soft you leave your caverned den,
And wander o'er the works of men ;
But when Phosphor brings the dawn
By her dappled coursers drawn,
Again you to the wild retreat
And the early huntsman meet,
Where, as you pensive pace along,
You catch the distant shepherd's song,
Or brush from herbs the pearly dew,
Or the rising primrose view.
Devotion lends her heaven-plumed wings,
You mount, and nature with you sings.
But when mid-day fervours glow,
To upland airy shades you go,
Where never sunburnt woodman came,
Nor sportsman chased the timid game;
And there beneath an oak reclined,
With drowsy waterfalls behind,
You sink to rest.
Till the tuneful bird of night
From the neighbouring poplar's height,
Wake you with her solemn strain,
And teach pleased Echo to complain.
With you roses brighter bloom,
Sweeter every sweet perfume;
Purer every fountain flows,
Stronger every wildling grows.
Let those toil for gold who please,
Or for fame renounce their case.
What is fame? an empty bubble.
Gold? a transient shining trouble.
Let them for their country bleed,
What was Sidney's, Raleigh's meed?
Man's not worth a moment's pain,
Base, ungrateful, fickle, vain.
Then let me, sequestered fair,
To your sibyl grot repair;
On yon hanging cliff it stands,
Scooped by nature's salvage hands,
Bosomed in the gloomy shade
Of cypress not with age decayed.
Where the owl still-hooting sits,
Where the bat incessant flits,
There in loftier strains I'll sing
Whence the changing seasons spring;
Tell how storms deform the skies,
Whence the waves subside and rise,
Trace the comet's blazing tail,
Weigh the planets in a scale;
Bend, great God, before thy shrine,
The bournless macrocosm's thine.
JAMES MERRICK (1720-1766) was a distinguished classical scholar, and tutor to Lord North at Oxford. He took orders, but was unable to do duty, from delicate health. Merrick wrote some hymns, and attempted a version of the psalms, with no great success. We subjoin an amusing and instructive fable by this worthy divine :
Oft has it been my lot to mark
A proud, conceited, talking spark,
With eyes that hardly served at most
To guard their master 'gainst a post;
Yet round the world the blade has been,
To see whatever could be seen.
Returning from his finished tour,
Grown ten times perter than before;
Whatever word you chance to drop,
The travelled fool your mouth will stop:
'Sir, if my judgment you'll allow-
I've seen-and sure I ought to know.'-
So begs you'd pay a due submission,
And acquiesce in his decision.
Two travellers of such a cast,
As o'er Arabia's wilds they passed,
And on their way, in friendly chat,
Now talked of this, and then of that;
Discoursed awhile, 'mongst other matter,
Of the Chameleon's form and nature.
A stranger animal,' cries one,
'Sure never lived beneath the sun :
A lizard's body lean and long,
A fish's head, a serpent's tongue,
Its foot with triple claw disjoined;
And what a length of tail behind!
How slow its pace! and then its hue-
Who ever saw so fine a blue?'
'Hold there,' the other quick replies, "Tis green, I saw it with these eyes, As late with open mouth it lay, And warmed it in the sunny ray; Stretched at its ease the beast I viewed, And saw it eat the air for food.' 'I've seen it, sir, as well as you, And must again affirm it blue; At leisure I the beast surveyed Extended in the cooling shade.' "Tis green, 'tis green, sir, I assure ye.' 'Green' cries the other in a fury:
'Why, sir, d'ye think I've lost my eyes?'
"Twere no great loss,' the friend replies;
For if they always serve you thus,
You'll find them but of little use.'
So high at last the contest rose,
From words they almost came to blows:
When luckily came by a third;
To him the question they referred:
And begged he'd tell them, if he knew,
Whether the thing was green or blue.
'Sirs,' cries the umpire, 'cease your pother;
The creature's neither one nor t'other.
I caught the animal last night,
And viewed it o'er by candle-light:
I marked it well, 'twas black as jet-
You stare-but sirs, I've got it yet,
And can produce it.'-Pray, sir, do;
I'll lay my life the thing is blue.'
'And I'll be sworn, that when you've seen
The reptile, you'll pronounce him green.'
"Well, then, at once to ease the doubt,' Replies the man, I'll turn him out : And when before your eyes I've set him, If you don't find him black, I'll eat him.' He said; and full before their sight Produced the beast, and lo !-'twas white. Both stared, the man looked wondrous wise"My children,' the Chameleon cries, (Then first the creature found a tongue) You all are right, and all are wrong: When next you talk of what you view, Think others see as well as you: Nor wonder if you find that none Prefers your eye-sight to his own.'
JOHN SCOTT (1730-1783) was our only Quaker poet till Bernard Barton graced the order with a sprig of laurel. Scott was the son of a draper in
London, who retired to Amwell, in Hertfordshire, and here the poet spent his days, improving his garden and grounds. He published several poetical
pieces, of mediocre merit. The following seems to have been dictated by real feeling, as well as Quaker principle:
[Ode on Hearing the Drum.]
I hate that drum's discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round:
To thoughtless youth it pleasure yields,
And lures from cities and from fields,
To sell their liberty for charms
Of tawdry lace, and glittering arms;
And when Ambition's voice commands,
To march, and fight, and fall in foreign lands.
I hate that drum's discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round:
To me it talks of ravaged plains,
And burning towns, and ruined swains,
And mangled limbs, and dying groans,
And widows' tears, and orphans' moans;
And all that misery's hand bestows
To fill the catalogue of human woes.
WILLIAM OLDYS (1696-1761) was a zealous literary antiquary, and Norroy King-at-Arms. He wrote a Life of Raleigh, and assisted every author or bookseller who required a leaf from his voluminous collections. His obscure diligence amassed various interesting particulars of literary history. The following exquisite little Anacreontic was from the pen of Oldys, who occasionally indulged in deep potations of ale, for which he was caricatured by his friend and brother antiquary, Grose:
Song, made Extempore by a Gentleman, occasioned by
a Fly Drinking out of his Cup of Ale.
Busy, curious, thirsty fly,
Drink with me, and drink as I;
Freely welcome to my cup,
Could'st thou sip and sip it up.
Make the most of life you may,
Life is short, and wears away.
Both alike are mine and thine,
Hastening quick to their decline:
Thine's a summer, mine no more,
Though repeated to threescore ;
Threescore summers, when they're gone,
Will appear as short as one.*
JOHN CUNNINGHAM (1729-1773), the son of a wine-cooper in Dublin, was a respectable actor, and performed several years in Digges's company, Edinburgh. In his latter years he resided in Newcastleon-Tyne, in the house of a 'generous printer,' whose hospitality for some time supported the poet. Cunningham's pieces are full of pastoral simplicity and lyrical melody. He aimed at nothing high, and seldom failed.
Song-May-Eve, or Kate of Aberdeen.
The silver moon's enamoured beam,
Steals softly through the night,
To wanton with the winding stream,
And kiss reflected light.
* Oldys's song was included in a 'Select Collection of English Songs,' published by J. Johnson in 1783. Burns, the Scottish poet, had a copy of this work (one of the volumes of which is now before us), and we observe he has honoured the extempore lyric of the old antiquary with pencil marks in the margin. In his Lines written in Friars' Carse Hermitage, Burns has echoed some of Oldys's thoughts and expressions.
To beds of state go, balmy sleep,
('Tis where you've seldom been,)
May's vigil while the shepherds keep
With Kate of Aberdeen.
Upon the green the virgins wait,
In rosy chaplets gay,
Till morn unbars her golden gate,
And gives the promised May.
Methinks I hear the maids declare,
The promised May, when seen,
Not half so fragrant, half so fair,
As Kate of Aberdeen.
Strike up the tabor's boldest notes,
We'll rouse the nodding grove;
The nested birds shall raise their throats,
And hail the maid I love.
And see the matin lark mistakes,
He quits the tufted green: Fond bird! 'tis not the morning breaks, 'Tis Kate of Aberdeen.
Now lightsome o'er the level mead,
Where midnight fairies rove,
Like them the jocund dance we'll lead,
Or tune the reed to love:
For see, the rosy May draws nigh;
She claims a virgin queen;
And hark! the happy shepherds cry,
'Tis Kate of Aberdeen.
O'er moorlands and mountains, rude, barren, and bare,
As wildered and wearied I roam,
A gentle young shepherdess sees my despair,
And leads me o'er lawns to her home.
Yellow sheaves from rich Ceres her cottage had crowned,
Green rushes were strewed on her floor,
Her casement sweet woodbines crept wantonly round,
And decked the sod seats at her door.
We sat ourselves down to a cooling repast,
Fresh fruits, and she culled me the best ;
While thrown from my guard by some glances she cast,
Love slily stole into my breast!
I told my soft wishes; she sweetly replied
(Ye virgins, her voice was divine!)
I've rich ones rejected, and great ones denied,
But take me fond shepherd-I'm thine.
Her air was so modest, her aspect so meek,
So simple, yet sweet were her charms !
I kissed the ripe roses that glowed on her cheek,
And locked the loved maid in my arms.
Now jocund together we tend a few sheep,
And if, by yon prattler, the stream,
Reclined on her bosom, I sink into sleep,
Her image still softens my dream.
Together we range o'er the slow-rising hills,
Delighted with pastoral views,
Or rest on the rock whence the streamlet distils,
And point out new themes for my muse.
To pomp or proud titles she ne'er did aspire,
The damsel's of humble descent;
The cottager Peace is well-known for her sire,
And shepherds have named her Content.
NATHANIEL COTTON (1721-1788), wrote Visions in Verse, for children, and a volume of poetical Miscellanies. He followed the medical profession in St Albans, and was distinguished for his skill in the
treatment of cases of insanity. Cowper, his patient, bears evidence to his well-known humanity and sweetness of temper.'
Dear Chloe, while the busy crowd,
The vain, the wealthy, and the proud,
In folly's maze advance;
Though singularity and pride
Be called our choice, we'll step aside,
Nor join the giddy dance.
From the gay world we'll oft retire
To our own family and fire,
Where love our hours employs;
No noisy neighbour enters here;
Nor intermeddling stranger near,
To spoil our heartfelt joys.
If solid happiness we prize,
Within our breast this jewel lies;
And they are fools who roam:
The world has nothing to bestow;
From our own selves our joys must flow,
And that dear hut-our home.
Of rest was Noah's dove bereft,
When with impatient wing she left
That safe retreat, the ark;
Giving her vain excursion o'er,
The disappointed bird once more
Explored the sacred bark.
Though fools spurn Hymen's gentle powers,
We, who improve his golden hours,
By sweet experience know,
That marriage, rightly understood,
Gives to the tender and the good
A paradise below.
Our babes shall richest comforts bring;
If tutored right, they'll prove a spring
Whence pleasures ever rise:
We'll form their minds, with studious care,
To all that's manly, good, and fair,
And train them for the skies.
While they our wisest hours engage,
They'll joy our youth, support our age,
And crown our hoary hairs:
They'll grow in virtue every day;
And thus our fondest loves repay,
And recompense our cares.
No borrowed joys, they're all our own,
While to the world we live unknown,
Or by the world forgot:
Monarchs! we envy not your state;
We look with pity on the great,
And bless our humbler lot.
Our portion is not large, indeed;
But then how little do we need!
For nature's calls are few:
In this the art of living lies,
To want no more than may suffice,
And make that little do.
We'll therefore relish with content
Whate'er kind Providence has sent,
Nor aim beyond our power;
For, if our stock be very small,
'Tis prudence to enjoy it all,
Nor lose the present hour
To be resigned when ills betide,
Patient when favours are denied,
And pleased with favours given ;
Dear Chloe, this is wisdom's part;
This is that incense of the heart,
Whose fragrance smells to heaven.