Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE AGE OF CLASSICISM

SIR SAMUEL GARTH (1661-1719)

How the dim speck of entity began
To extend its recent form, and stretch to man;

*

*

*

IO

FROM THE DISPENSARY

Hence 'tis we wait the wondrous cause to find Speak, Goddess ! since 'tis thou that best canst tell How body acts upon impassive mind; How ancient leagues to modern discord fell; How fumes of wine the thinking part can fire, And why physicians were so cautious grown Past hopes revive, and present joys inspire; Of others' lives, and lavish of their own;

Why our complexions oft our soul declare, How by a journey to the Elysian plain,

And how the passions in the features are; 60 Peace triumphed, and old time returned again. How touch and harmony arise between

Not far from that most celebrated place Corporeal figure and a form unseen;
Where angry Justice shews her awful face; How quick their faculties the limbs fulfil,
Where little villains must submit to fate,

And act at every summons of the will;
That great ones may enjoy the world in state; With mighty truths, mysterious to descry,
There stands a dome, majestic to the sight, Which in the womb of distant causes lie.
And sumptuous arches bear its oval height;
A golden globe, placed high with artful skill,
Seems to the distant sight a gilded pill;

LADY WINCHILSEA (1661-1720)
This pile was, by the pious patron's aim,
Raised for a use as noble as its frame;

THE PETITION FOR AN ABSOLUTE Nor did the learn'd Society decline

RETREAT
The propagation of that great design;
In all her mazes, Nature's face they viewed,
And, as she disappeared, their search pursued. 20

Give me, o indulgent Fate !
Wrapt in the shade of night the goddess lies,

Give me yet, before I die, Yet to the learn'd unveils her dark disguise,

A sweet, but absolute retreat, But shuns the gross access of vulgar eyes.

'Mongst paths so lost, and trees so high, Now she unfolds the faint and dawning strife

That the world may ne'er invade, Of infant atoms kindling into life;

Th ough such windings and such shade, How ductile matter new meanders takes,

My unshaken liberty.
And slender trains of twisting fibres makes;
And how the viscous seeks a closer tone,

No intruders thither come,
By just degrees to harden into bone;

Who visit, but to be from home; While the more loose flow from the vital urn, 30

None who their vain moments pass,
And in full tides of purple streams return;

Only studious of their glass.
How lambent flames from life's bright lamps arise, News, that charm to listning ears,
And dart in emanations through the eyes;

That false alarm to hopes and fears,
How from each sluice a gentle torrent pours,

That common theme for every fop, To slake a feverish heat with ambient showers;

From the statesman to the shop, Whence their mechanic powers the spirits claim;

In those coverts ne'er be spread. How great their force, how delicate their frame; Of who's deceas'd, or who's to wed, How the same nerves are fashioned to sustain

Be no tidings thither brought, The greatest pleasure and the greatest pain;

But silent, as a midnight thought, Why bilious juice a golden light puts on,

Where the world may ne'er invade, And floods of chyle in silver currents run;

Be those windings, and that shade!

IO

40

80

Esau's rural coat did yield
That inspir'd his Father's prayer
For blessings of the earth and air.
Of gums or powders had it smelt,
The supplanter, then unfelt,
Easily had been descry'd
For one that did in tents abide,
For some beauteous handmaid's joy
And his mother's darling boy.
Let me then no fragrance wear
But what the winds from gardens bear
In such kind, surprising gales
As gather'd from Fidentia's vales
All the flowers that in them grew;
Which intermixing, as they flew,
In wreathen garlands dropt again
On Lucullus, and his men,
Who, cheer'd by the victorious sight
Trebled numbers put to flight.
Let me, when I must be fine,
In such natural colours shine;
Wove, and painted by the sun,
Whose resplendent rays to shun,
When they do too fiercely beat,
Let me find some close retreat
Where they have no passage made
Thro' those windings, and that shade.

90

40

100

Courteous Fate! afford me there
A table spread without my care
With what the neighb'ring fields impart,
Whose cleanliness be all its art.
When of old the calf was drest
Tho' to make an angel's feast
In the plain, unstudied sauce
Nor truffle, nor morillia was;
Nor could the mighty patriarch's board 30
One far-fetch'd ortolane afford.
Courteous Fate, then give me there
Only plain and wholesome fare.
Fruits indeed, would Heaven bestow,
All, that did in Eden grow,
All, but the forbidden tree,
Would be coveted by me:
Grapes, with juice so crowded up
As breaking thro' the native cup;
Figs, yet growing, candied o'er
By the sun's attracting power;
Cherries, with the downy peach,
All within my easy reach;
Whilst, creeping near the humble ground,
Should the strawberry be found,
Springing wheresoe'er I strayed,
Thro' those windings and that shade.

For my garments, let them be
What may with the time agree;
Warm, when Phoebus does retire,
And is ill-supplied by fire;
But when he renews the year
And verdant all the fields appear,
Beauty every thing resumes,
Birds have dropt their winter-plumes;
When the lily full displayed
Stands in purer white arrayed
Than that vest which heretofore
The luxurious monarch wore
When from Salem's gates, he drove
To the soft retreat of love,
Lebanon's all burnish'd house,
And the dear Egyptian spouse,
Clothe me, Fate, tho' not so gay,
Clothe me light, and fresh as May.
In the fountains let me view
All my habit cheap and new,
Such as, when sweet zephyrs fly,
With their motions may comply,
Gently waving, to express

70 Unaffected carelessness. No perfumes have there a part, Borrow'd from the chymist's art; But such as rise from flow'ry beds, Or the falling jasmin sheds ! 'Twas the odour of the field

50

TO THE NIGHTINGALE

60

IO

Exert thy voice, sweet harbinger of Spring!

This moment is thy time to sing,

This moment I attend to praise, And set my numbers to thy lays.

Free as thine shall be my song;

As thy music, short, or long. Poets, wild as thee, were born,

Pleasing best when unconfin'd,

When to please is least design'd, Soothing but their cares to rest;

Cares do still their thoughts molest,

And still th' unhappy poet's breast, Like thine, when best he sings, is plac'd against a

thorn.
She begins, let all be still !

Muse, thy promise now fulfil!
Sweet, oh! sweet, still sweeter yet!
Can thy words such accents fit?
Canst thou syllables refine,
Melt a sense that shall retain
Still some spirit of the brain,
Till with sounds like these it join?

'Twill not be! then change thy note;

Let division shake thy throat. Hark! division now she tries;

20

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

In such a night, when every louder wind
Is to its distant cavern safe confin'd,
And only gentle zephyr fans his wings,
And lonely Philomel, still waking, sings;
Or from some tree, fam'd for the owl's delight,
She, hollowing clear, directs the wand'rer right;
In such a night, when passing clouds give place,
Or thinly vail the Heav'ns mysterious face;
When in some river, overhung with green,
The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen;
When freshen'd grass now bears itself upright,
And makes cool banks to pleasing rest invite,
Whence springs the woodbind and the bramble-

rose,
And where the sleepy cowslip shelter'd grows;
Whilst now a paler hue the foxglove takes,
Yet chequers still with red the dusky brakes;
When scatter'd glow-worms, but in twilight fine,
Show trivial beauties watch their hour to shine,
Whilst Salisb'ry stands the test of every light
In perfect charms and perfect virtue bright;
When odours which declin'd repelling day
Thro' temp'rate air uninterrupted stray;
When darken'd groves their softest shadows wear,
And falling waters we distinctly hear;
When thro' the gloom more venerable shows
Some ancient fabric, awful in repose,
While sunburnt hills their swarthy looks conceal
And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale;
When the loos'd horse now, as his pasture leads,
Comes slowly grazing thro' th' adjoining meads,
Whose stealing pace, and lengthen'd shade we fear,
Till torn up forage in his teeth we hear; 32
When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food,
And unmolested kine re-chew the cud;
When curlews cry beneath the village-walls,
And to her straggling brood the partridge calls;
Their shortliv'd jubilee the creatures keep,
Which but endures whilst tyrant-man does sleep;
When a sedate content the spirit feels,
And no fierce light disturb, whilst it reveals; 40

20

[blocks in formation]

TO A CHILD OF QUALITY FIVE

YEARS OLD

18

Still dancing in an airy round,
Still pleased with their own verses' sound;
Brought back, how fast soe'er they go,
Always aspiring, always low.

THE REMEDY WORSE THAN THE

DISEASE

Lords, knights, and 'squires, the numerous band,

That wear the fair Miss Mary's fetters, Were summoned by her high command,

To show their passions by their letters. My pen among the rest I took,

Lest those bright eyes that cannot read Should dart their kindling fires, and look The power they have to be obeyed.

8 Nor quality, nor reputation,

Forbid me yet my flame to tell,
Dear Five-years-old befriends my passion,

And I may write till she can spell.
For, while she makes her silk-worms beds

With all the tender things I swear;
Whilst all the house my passion reads,
In papers round her baby's hair;

16

I sent for Ratcliffe; was so ill,

That other doctors gave me over: He felt my pulse, prescribed his pill,

And I was likely to recover.

But when the wit began to wheeze,

And wine had warm'd the politician, Cured yesterday of my disease,

I died last night of my physician.

I2

8

TO HIS SOUL

TRANSLATED FROM THE LATIN OF

HADRIAN

[blocks in formation]

Poor little, pretty, fluttering thing,

Must we no longer live together? And dost thou prune thy trembling wing, 3

To take thy flight thou know'st not whither?

[blocks in formation]

Thy humorous vein, thy pleasing folly

Lie all neglected, all forgot: And pensive, wavering, melancholy, Thou dread'st and hop'st thou know'st not what.

8

For, as our different ages move,

'Tis so ordained, (would Fate but mend it !) That I shall be past making love, When she begins to comprehend it.

28

JONATHAN SWIFT (1667-1745)

A SIMILE

FROM VERSES ON THE DEATH OF

DR. SWIFT

40

Dear Thomas, did'st thou never pop
Thy head into a tin-man's shop?
There, Thomas, did'st thou never see
('Tis but by way of simile !)
A squirrel spend his little rage
In jumping round a rolling cage?
The cage, as either side turned up,
Striking a ring of bells a-top? -

Moved in the orb, pleased with the chimes,
The foolish creature thinks he climbs:
But here or there, turn wood or wire,
He never gets two inches higher.

So fares it with those merry blades,
That frisk it under Pindus's shades.
In noble songs, and lofty odes,
They tread on stars, and talk with gods;

Vain human kind! fantastic race!
Thy various follies who can trace?
Self-love, ambition, envy, pride,
Their empire in our hearts divide.
Give others riches, power, and station,
'Tis all on me a usurpation.
I have no title to aspire;
Yet, when you sink, I seem the higher.
In Pope I cannot read a line
But with a sigh I wish it mine;
When he can in one couplet fix
More sense than I can do in six,
It gives me such a jealous fit
I cry, “Pox take him and his wit !"
I grieve to be outdone by Gay
In my own humorous biting way.

I 2

50

Arbuthnot is no more my friend,
Who dares to irony pretend,
Which I was born to introduce,
Refined it first, and show'd its use.
St. John, as well as Pultney, knows
That I had some repute for prose;

60
And, till they drove me out of date,
Could maul a minister of state.
If they have mortified my pride,
And made me throw my pen aside:
If with such talents Heaven has bless'd 'em,
Have I not reason to detest 'em ?

With favour some, and some without,
One, quite indifferent in the cause,
My character impartial draws:

“The Dean, if we believe report,
Was never ill-received at court.
As for his works in verse and prose,
I own myself no judge of those;

310
Nor can I tell what critics thought 'em,
But this I know, all people bought 'em.
As with a moral view design'd
To cure the vices of mankind,
His vein, ironically grave,
Exposed the fool, and lash'd the knave.
To steal a hint was never known,
But what he writ was all his own.

“He never thought an honour done him,
Because a duke was proud to own him; 320
Would rather slip aside and choose
To talk with wits in dirty shoes;
Despised the fools with stars and garters,
So often seen caressing Chartres.
He never courted men in station,
Nor persons held in admiration;
Of no man's greatness was afraid,
Because he sought for no man's aid.
Though trusted long in great affairs

himself no haughty airs.
Without regarding private ends,
Spent all his credit for his friends;
And only chose the wise and good;
No flatterers; no allies in blood:
But succour'd virtue in distress,
And seldom fail'd of good success;
As numbers in their hearts must own,
Who, but for him, had been unknown.

He gave

330

From Dublin soon to London spread,
'Tis told at court, “the Dean is dead.”
And Lady Suffolk, in the spleen,
Runs laughing up to tell the queen.

180
The queen, so gracious, mild, and good,
Cries, “Is he gone: 'tis time he should.
He's dead, you say; then let him rot:
I'm glad the medals were forgot.
I promised him, I own; but when ?
I only was the princess then;
But now, as consort of the king,
You know, 'tis quite another thing.”
Now Chartres, at Sir Robert's levee,
Tells with a sneer the tidings heavy: 190
“Why, if he died without his shoes,”
Cries Bob, “I'm sorry for the news:
O, were the wretch but living still,
And in his place my good friend Will!
Or had a mitre on his head,
Provided Bolingbroke were dead I”
Now Curll his shop from rubbish drains:
Three genuine tomes of Swift's remains !
And then, to make them pass the glibber,
Revised by Tibbalds, Moore, and Cibber.
He'll treat me as he does my betters,
Publish my will, my life, my letters:
Revive the libels born to die;
Which Pope must bear, as well as I.

Here shift the scene, to represent
How those I love my death lament.
Poor Pope would grieve a month, and Gay
A week, and Arbuthnot a day.
St. John himself will scarce forbear
To bite his pen, and drop a tear.
The rest will give a shrug, and cry,
"I'm sorry — but we all must die!"

* * *
Suppose me dead; and then suppose
A club assembled at the Rose;

300 Where, from discourse of this and that, I grow the subject of their chat. And while they toss my name about,

200

"Perhaps I may allow the Dean Had too much satire in his vein; And seem'd determined not to starve it, Because no age could more deserve it. Yet malice never was his aim; He lash'd the vice, but spared the name; 460 No individual could resent, Where thousands equally were meant; His satire points at no defect, But what all mortals may correct; For he abhorr'd that senseless tribe Who call it humour when they gibe: He spared a hump, or crooked nose, Whose owners set not up for beaux. True genuine dullness moved his pity, Unless it offer'd to be witty.

470 Those who their ignorance confest, He ne'er offended with a jest; But laugh'd to hear an idiot quote

210

« PreviousContinue »