Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

he displays that 'charming ease' with which Cowper says he embellished all his poems, added to the lively illustration and colloquial humour of his master, Horace. No poet ever possessed in greater perfection the art of graceful and fluent versification. His narratives flow on like a clear stream, without break or fall, and interest us by their perpetual good humour and vivacity, even when they wander into metaphysics, as in Alma,' or into licentiousness, as in his tales. His expression was choice and studied, abounding in classical allusions and images (which were then the fashion of the day), but without any air of pedantry or constraint. Like Swift, he loved to versify the common occurrences of life, and relate his personal feelings and adventures. He had, however, no portion of the dean's bitterness or misanthropy, and employed no stronger weapons of satire than raillery and arch allusion. He sported on the surface of existence, noting its foibles, its pleasures, and eccentricities, but without the power of penetrating into its recesses, or evoking the higher passions of our nature. He was the most natural of artificial poets-a seeming paradox, yet as true as the old maxim, that the perfection of art is the concealment of it.

For My Own Monument.

As doctors give physic by way of prevention,
Matt, alive and in health, of his tombstone took care;
For delays are unsafe, and his pious intention
May haply be never fulfill'd by his heir.

Then take Matt's word for it, the sculptor is paid;
That the figure is fine, pray believe your own eye;
Yet credit but lightly what more may be said,
For we flatter ourselves, and teach marble to lie.
Yet counting as far as to fifty his years,
His virtues and vices were as other men's are;
High hopes he conceiv'd, and he smother'd great fears,
In a life party-colour'd, half pleasure, half care.
Nor to business a drudge, nor to faction a slave,
He strove to make int'rest and freedom agree;
In public employments industrious and grave,
And alone with his friends, Lord! how merry was he.
Now in equipage stately, now humbly on foot,
Both fortunes he tried, but to neither would trust;
And whirl'd in the round as the wheel turn'd about,
He found riches had wings, and knew man was but dust.

This verse, little polish'd, though mighty sincere,
Sets neither his titles nor merit to view;
It says that his relics collected lie here,
And no mortal yet knows if this may be true.
Fierce robbers there are that infest the highway,
So Matt may be kill'd, and his bones never found;
False witness at court, and fierce tempests at sea,
So Matt may yet chance to be hang'd or be drown'd.
If his bones lie in earth, roll in sea, fly in air,
To Fate we must yield, and the thing is the same;
And if passing thou giv'st him a smile or a tear,
He cares not-yet, prithee, be kind to his fame.

Epitaph Extempore.

Nobles and heralds, by your leave,

Here lies what once was Matthew Prior, The son of Adam and of Eve;

Can Stuart or Nassau claim higher?

An Epitaph.

Interr'd beneath this marble stone,
Lie sauntering Jack and idle Joan.
While rolling threescore years and one
Did round this globe their courses run;

If human things went ill or well,
If changing empires rose or fell,

The morning past, the evening came,
And found this couple just the same.

They walk'd and ate, good folks: What then?
Why, then they walk'd and ate again;
They soundly slept the night away;
They did just nothing all the day.
Nor sister either had nor brother;
They seemed just tallied for each other.
Their Moral and Economy
Most perfectly they made agree;
Each virtue kept its proper bound,
Nor trespass'd on the other's ground.
Nor fame nor censure they regarded;
They neither punish'd nor rewarded.
He cared not what the footman did;
Her maids she neither prais'd nor chid:
So every servant took his course,
And, bad at first, they all grew worse.
Slothful disorder fill'd his stable,
And sluttish plenty deck'd her table.
Their beer was strong, their wine was port;
Their meal was large, their grace was short.
They gave the poor the remnant meat,
Just when it grew not fit to eat.
They paid the church and parish rate,
And took, but read not, the receipt ;

For which they claim'd their Sunday's due,
Of slumbering in an upper pew.
No man's defects sought they to know,
So never made themselves a foe.
No man's good deeds did they commend,
So never rais'd themselves a friend.
Nor cherish'd they relations poor,
That might decrease their present store;
Nor barn nor house did they repair,
That might oblige their future heir.
They neither added nor confounded;
They neither wanted nor abounded.
Nor tear nor smile did they employ
At news of public grief or joy.
When bells were rung and bonfires made,
If ask'd, they ne'er denied their aid;
Their jug was to the ringers carried,
Whoever either died or married.
Their billet at the fire was found,
Whoever was depos'd or crown'd.
Nor good, nor bad, nor fools, nor wise,
They would not learn, nor could advise ;
Without love, hatred, joy, or fear,
They led-a kind of as it were;

Nor wish'd, nor car'd, nor laugh'd, nor cried;
And so they liv'd, and so they died.

The Garland.

The pride of every grove I chose,
The violet sweet and lily fair,
The dappled pink and blushing rose,
To deck my charming Chloe's hair.
At morn the nymph vouchsaf'd to place
Upon her brow the various wreath;
The flowers less blooming than her face,
The scent less fragrant than her breath.
The flowers she wore along the day,
And every nymph and shepherd said,
That in her hair they look'd more gay
Than glowing in their native bed.

Undress'd at evening, when she found
Their odours lost, their colours past,
She chang'd her look, and on the ground
Her garland and her eyes she cast.

That eye dropp'd sense distinct and clear,
As any muse's tongue could speak,
When from its lid a pearly tear
Ran trickling down her beauteous cheek.
Dissembling what I knew too well,
My love, my life, said I, explain
This change of humour; prithee tell-
That falling tear-what does it mean?

She sigh'd, she smil'd; and to the flowers
Pointing, the lovely mor'list said,
See, friend, in some few fleeting hours,
See yonder, what a change is made.

Ah me! the blooming pride of May
And that of beauty are but one;
At morn both flourish bright and gay,
Both fade at evening, pale, and gone.

[Abra's Love for Solomon.]

[From Solomon on the Vanity of the World."]
Another nymph, amongst the many fair,
That made my softer hours their solemn care,
Before the rest affected still to stand,
And watch'd my eye, preventing my command.
Abra, she so was call'd, did soonest haste
To grace my presence; Abra went the last;
Abra was ready ere I call'd her name;
And, though I call'd another, Abra came.
Her equals first observ'd her growing zeal,
And laughing, gloss'd that Abra serv'd so well.
To me her actions did unheeded die,
Or were remark'd but with a common eye;
Till, more appris'd of what the rumour said,
More I observ'd peculiar in the maid.
The sun declin'd had shot his western ray,
When, tir'd with business of the solemn day,
I purpos'd to unbend the evening hours,
And banquet private in the women's bowers.
I call'd before I sat to wash my hands
(For so the precept of the law commands):
Love had ordain'd that it was Abra's turn
To mix the sweets, and minister the urn.
With awful homage, and submissive dread,
The maid approach'd, on my declining head
To pour the oils: she trembled as she pour'd;
With an unguarded look she now devour'd
My nearer face; and now recall'd her eye,
And heav'd, and strove to hide, a sudden sigh.
And whence, said I, canst thou have dread or pain?
What can thy imagery of sorrow mean?
Secluded from the world and all its care,
Hast thou to grieve or joy, to hope or fear?
For sure, I added, sure thy little heart
Ne'er felt love's anger, or receiv'd his dart.
Abash'd she blush'd, and with disorder spoke:
Her rising shame adorn'd the words it broke.
If the great master will descend to hear
The humble series of his handmaid's care;
O! while she tells it, let him not put on

The look that awes the nations from the throne!
O! let not death severe in glory lie

In the king's frown and terror of his eye!
Mine to obey, thy part is to ordain;
And, though to mention be to suffer pain,
If the king smile whilst I my wo recite,
If weeping, I find favour in his sight,
Flow fast, my tears, full rising his delight.
O! witness earth beneath, and heaven above!
For can I hide it? I am sick of love;

If madness may the name of passion bear,
Or love be call'd what is indeed despair.

Thou Sovereign Power, whose secret will controls The inward bent and motion of our souls!

Why hast thou plac'd such infinite degrees
Between the cause and cure of my disease?
The mighty object of that raging fire,
In which, unpitied, Abra must expire.
Had he been born some simple shepherd's heir,
The lowing herd or fleecy sheep his care,
At morn with him I o'er the hills had run,
Scornful of winter's frost and summer's sun,
Still asking where he made his flock to rest at noon;
For him at night, the dear expected guest,
I had with hasty joy prepar'd the feast;
And from the cottage, o'er the distant plain,
Sent forth my longing eye to meet the swain,
Wavering, impatient, toss'd by hope and fear,
Till he and joy together should appear,
And the lov'd dog declare his master near.
On my declining neck and open breast
I should have lull'd the lovely youth to rest,
And from beneath his head, at dawning day,
With softest care have stol'n my arm away,
To rise, and from the fold release his sheep,
Fond of his flock, indulgent to his sleep.
Or if kind heaven, propitious to my flame
(For sure from heaven the faithful ardour came),
Had blest my life, and deck'd my natal hour
With height of title, and extent of power;
Without a crime my passion had aspir'd,
Found the lov'd prince, and told what I desir'd.
Then I had come, preventing Sheba's queen,
To see the comeliest of the sons of men,
To hear the charming poet's amorous song,
And gather honey falling from his tongue,
To take the fragrant kisses of his mouth,
Sweeter than breezes of her native south,
Likening his grace, his person, and his mien,
To all that great or beauteous I had seen.
Serene and bright his eyes, as solar beams
Reflecting temper'd light from crystal streams;
Ruddy as gold his cheek; his bosom fair
As silver; the curl'd ringlets of his hair
Black as the raven's wing; his lip more red
Than eastern coral, or the scarlet thread;
Even his teeth, and white like a young flock
Coeval, newly shorn, from the clear brook
Recent, and branching on the sunny rock.
Ivory, with sapphires interspers'd, explains
How white his hands, how blue the manly veins.
Columns of polish'd marble, firmly set
On golden bases, are his legs and feet;
His stature all majestic, all divine,
Straight as the palm-tree, strong as is the pine.
Saffron and myrrh are on his garments shed,
And everlasting sweets bloom round his head.
What utter I? where am I wretched maid!
Die, Abra, die: too plainly hast thou said
Thy soul's desire to meet his high embrace,
And blessing stamp'd upon thy future race;
To bid attentive nations bless thy womb,
With unborn monarchs charg'd, and Solome is to

come.

Here o'er her speech her flowing eyes prevail. O foolish maid! and oh, unhappy tale!

I saw her; 'twas humanity; it gave
Some respite to the sorrows of my slave.
Her fond excess proclaim'd her passion true,
And generous pity to that truth was due.
Well I intreated her, who well deserv'd;
I call'd her often, for she alway serv'd.
Use made her person easy to my sight,
And ease insensibly produc'd delight.
Whene'er I revell'd in the women's bowers
(For first I sought her but at looser hours),
The apples she had gather'd smelt most sweet,
The cake she kneaded was the savoury meat:
But fruits their odour lost, and meats their taste
If gentle Abra had not deck'd the feast.

Dishonour'd did the sparkling goblet stand,
Unless received from gentle Abra's hand;
And, when the virgins form'd the evening choir,
Raising their voices to the master lyre,

Too flat I thought this voice, and that too shrill,
One show'd too much, and one too little skill;
Nor could my soul approve the music's tone,
Till all was hush'd, and Abra sung alone.
Fairer she seem'd distinguish'd from the rest,
And better mien disclos'd, as better drest.
A bright tiara round her forehead tied,
To juster bounds confin'd its rising pride.
The blushing ruby on her snowy breast
Render'd its panting whiteness more confess'd;
Bracelets of pearl gave roundness to her arm,
And every gem augmented every charm.
Her senses pleased, her beauty still improv'd,
And she more lovely grew, as more belov'd.

The Thief and the Cordelier.-A Ballad.

[ocr errors]

To the tune of King John and the Abbot of Canterbury.'
Who has e'er been at Paris, must needs know the
Grève,

The fatal retreat of th' unfortunate brave;
Where honour and justice most oddly contribute
To ease heroes' pains by a halter and gibbet.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

There death breaks the shackles which force had put on,

And the hangman completes what the judge but begun ; There the 'squire of the pad, and the knight of the post,

Find their pains no more baulk'd, and their hopes no more cross'd,

Derry down, &c.

[blocks in formation]

The 'squire, whose good grace was to open the scene, Seem'd not in great haste that the show should begin; Now fitted the halter, now travers'd the cart; And often took leave, but was loath to depart. Derry down, &c.

What frightens you thus, my good son? says the priest,

You murder'd, are sorry, and have been confess'd.
O father! my sorrow will scarce save my bacon;
For 'twas not that I murder'd, but that I was taken.
Derry down, &c.

Pough, prithee ne'er trouble thy head with such fancies;

Rely on the aid you shall have from St Francis ;
If the money you promis'd be brought to the chest,
You have only to die; let the church do the rest.
Derry down, &c.

And what will folks say, if they see you afraid? It reflects upon me, as I knew not my trade; Courage, friend, for to-day is your period of sorrow; And things will go better, believe me, to-morrow. Derry down, &c.

[blocks in formation]

That I would, quoth the father, and thank you to boot;

But our actions, you know, with our duty must suit;
The feast I proposed to you, I cannot taste,
For this night, by our order, is marked for a fast.
Derry down, &c.

Then, turning about to the hangman, he said,
Despatch me, I prithee, this troublesome blade;
For thy cord and my cord both equally tie,
And we live by the gold for which other men die.
Derry down, &c.

The Cameleon.

As the Cameleon, who is known
To have no colours of his own;
But borrows from his neighbour's hue,
His white or black, his green or blue;
And struts as much in ready light,
Which credit gives him upon sight,
As if the rainbow were in tail,
Settled on him and his heirs male;

So the young squire, when first he comes
From country school to Will's or Tom's,
And equally, in truth, is fit

To be a statesman, or a wit;
Without one notion of his own,
He saunters wildly up and down,
Till some acquaintance, good or bad,
Takes notice of a staring lad,
Admits him in among the gang;
They jest, reply, dispute, harangue;
He acts and talks, as they befriend him,
Smear'd with the colours which they lend him.
Thus, merely as his fortune chances,
His merit or his vice advances.

If haply he the sect pursues,
That read and comment upon news;
He takes up their mysterious face;
He drinks his coffee without lace;
This week his mimic tongue runs o'er
What they have said the week before;
His wisdom sets all Europe right,
And teaches Marlborough when to fight.
Or if it be his fate to meet

With folks who have more wealth than wit,
He loves cheap port, and double bub,
And settles in the Humdrum Club;
He learns how stocks will fall or rise;
Holds poverty the greatest vice;
Thinks wit the bane of conversation;
And says that learning spoils a nation.
But if, at first, he minds his hits,
And drinks champaign among the wits;
Five deep he toasts the towering lasses;
Repeats you verses wrote on glasses;
Is in the chair; prescribes the law;
And 's lov'd by those he never saw.

Protogenes and Apelles.

When poets wrote and painters drew,
As nature pointed out the view;

Ere Gothic forms were known in Greece,
To spoil the well-proportion'd piece;
And in our verse ere monkish rhymes
Had jangled their fantastic chimes;
Ere on the flowery lands of Rhodes,
Those knights had fixed their dull abodes,
Who knew not much to paint or write,
Nor car'd to pray, nor dar'd to fight:
Protogenes, historians note,
Liv'd there, a burgess, scot and lot;
And, as old Pliny's writings show,
Apelles did the same at Co.

Agreed these points of time and place,
Proceed we in the present case.
Piqu'd by Protogenes's fame,
From Co to Rhodes Apelles came,
To see a rival and a friend,
Prepar'd to censure, or commend;
Here to absolve, and there object,
As art with candour might direct.
He sails, he lands, he comes, he rings;
His servants follow with the things:
Appears the governante of th' house,
For such in Greece were much in use:
If young or handsome, yea or no,
Concerns not me or thee to know.

Does Squire Protogenes live here?
Yes, sir, says she, with gracious air
And curtsy low, but just call'd out
By lords peculiarly devout,

Who came on purpose, sir, to borrow
Our Venus for the feast to-morrow,
To grace the church; 'tis Venus' day:
I hope, sir, you intend to stay,
To see our Venus? 'tis the piece

The most renown'd throughout all Greece;
So like th' original, they say:
But I have no great skill that way.
But, sir, at six ('tis now past three),
Dromo must make my master's tea:
At six, sir, if you please to come,
You'll find my master, sir, at home.

Tea, says a critic big with laughter,
Was found some twenty ages after;
Authors, before they write, should read.
'Tis very true; but we'll proceed.

And, sir, at present would you please
To leave your name.-Fair maiden, yes.
Reach me that board. No sooner spoke
But done. With one judicious stroke,
On the plain ground Apelles drew
A circle regularly true:

And will you please, sweetheart, said he,
To show your master this from me?
By it he presently will know

How painters write their names at Co.
He gave the pannel to the maid.
Smiling and curtsying, Sir, she said,
I shall not fail to tell my master:
And, sir, for fear of all disaster,
I'll keep it my own self: safe bind,
Says the old proverb, and safe find.
So, sir, as sure as key or lock-
Your servant, sir-at six o'clock.

Again at six Apelles came,
Found the same prating civil dame.
Sir, that my master has been here,
Will by the board itself appear.
If from the perfect line be found
He has presum'd to swell the round,
Or colours on the draught to lay,
'Tis thus (he order'd me to say),

Thus write the painters of this isle;
Let those of Co remark the style.

She said, and to his hand restor'd
The rival pledge, the missive board.
Upon the happy line were laid
Such obvious light and easy shade,
The Paris' apple stood confess'd,
Or Leda's egg, or Chloe's breast.
Apelles view'd the finish'd piece;
And live, said he, the arts of Greece!
Howe'er Protogenes and I
May in our rival talents vie;
Howe'er our works may have express'd
Who truest drew, or colour'd best,
When he beheld my flowing line,
He found at least I could design:
And from his artful round, I grant,
That he with perfect skill can paint.
The dullest genius cannot fail
To find the moral of my tale;
That the distinguish'd part of men,
With compass, pencil, sword, or pen,
Should in life's visit leave their name
In characters which may proclaim
That they with ardour strove to raise
At once their arts and country's praise;
And in their working, took great care
That all was full, and round, and fair.

[Richard's Theory of the Mind.]
[From Alma.']

I say, whatever you maintain
Of Almal in the heart or brain,
The plainest man alive may tell ye,
Her seat of empire is the belly.

From hence she sends out those supplies,
Which make us either stout or wise:
Your stomach makes the fabric roll
Just as the bias rules the bowl.
The great Achilles might employ
The strength design'd to ruin Troy;
He dined on lion's marrow, spread
On toasts of ammunition bread;
But, by his mother sent away
Amongst the Thracian girls to play,
Effeminate he sat and quiet-
Strange product of a cheese-cake diet!
Observe the various operations

Of food and drink in several nations.
Was ever Tartar fierce or cruel
Upon the strength of water-gruel?
But who shall stand his rage or force
If first he rides, then eats his horse?
Sallads, and eggs, and lighter fare,
Tune the Italian spark's guitar;
And, if I take Dan Congreve right,
Pudding and beef make Britons fight.
Tokay and coffee cause this work
Between the German and the Turk;
And both, as they provisions want,
Chicane, avoid, retire, and faint.
As, in a watch's fine machine,
Though many artful springs are seen;
The added movements, which declare
How full the moon, how old the year,
Derive their secondary power

From that which simply points the hour;
For though these gimcracks were away
(Quare would not swear, but Quare would say),
However more reduced and plain,

The watch would still a watch remain:
But if the horal orbit ceases,

The whole stands still, or breaks to pieces,

1 The mind. 2 Probably a noted watchmaker of the day.

[graphic]
« ForrigeFortsæt »