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THE gods, O Walpole, give no bliss sincere ;
Wealth is disturb'd by care, and power by fear:
Of all the passions that employ the mind,
In gentle love the sweetest joys we find :
Yet ev'n those joys dire Jealousy molests,
And blackens each fair image in our breasts.
O may the warmth of thy too tender heart
Ne'er feel the sharpness of his venom'd dart!
For thy own quiet, think thy mistress just,
And wisely take thy happiness on trust.
Begin, my Muse, and Damon's woes rehearse, In wildest numbers and disorder'd verse.
On a romantic mountain's airy head (While browzing goats at ease around him fed) Anxious he lay, with jealous cares opprest; Distrust and anger labouring in his breast — The vale beneath a pleasing prospect yields Of verdant meads and cultivated fields; Through these a river rolls its winding flood, Adorn'd with various tufts of rising wood; Here, half-conceal'd in trees, a cottage stands, A castle there the opening plain commands; Beyond, a town with glittering spires is crown'd, And distant hills the wide horizon bound: So charming was the scene, awhile the swain Beheld delighted, and forgot his pain:
But soon the stings infix'd within his heart
With cruel force renew'd their raging smart :
His flowery wreath, which long with pride he wore,
The gift of Delia, from his brows he tore,
Then cried, "May all thy charms, ungrateful maid,
Like these neglected roses, droop and fade!
May angry Heaven deform each guilty grace,
That triumphs now in that deluding face!
Those alter'd looks may every shepherd fly,
And ev'n thy Daphnis hate thee worse than I!
"Say, thou inconstant, what has Damon done,
To lose the heart his tedious pains had won?
Tell me what charms you in my rival find,
Against whose power no ties have strength to bind ?
Has he, like me, with long obedience strove
To conquer your disdain, and merit love?
Has he with transport every smile ador'd,
And died with grief at each ungentle word?
Ah, no! the conquest was obtain'd with ease;
He pleased you, by not studying to please:
His careless indolence your pride alarm'd;
And, had he lov'd you more, he less had charm'd.
"O pain to think! another shall possess
Those balmy lips which I was wont to press :
Another on her panting breast shall lie,
And catch sweet madness from her swimming eye!
I saw their friendly flocks together feed,
I saw them hand in hand walk o'er the mead :
Would my clos'd eye had sunk in endless night,
Ere I was doom'd to bear that hateful sight!
Where'er they pass'd, be blasted every flower,
And hungry wolves their helpless flocks devour!-
Ah, wretched swain, could no examples move
Thy heedless heart to shun the rage of love?
Hast thou not heard how poor Menalcas died
A victim to Parthenia's fatal pride?
Dear was the youth to all the tuneful plain,
Lov'd by the nymphs, by Phoebus lov'd in vain :
Around his tomb their tears the Muses paid;
And all things mourn'd, but the relentless maid.
Would I could die like him, and be at peace!
These torments in the quiet grave would cease;
There my vex'd thoughts a calm repose would find,
And rest, as if my Delia still were kind.
No, let me live, her falsehood to upbraid:
Some god perhaps my just revenge will aid. —
Alas! what aid, fond swain, wouldst thou receive?
Could thy heart bear to see its Delia grieve?
Protect her, Heaven! and let her never know
The slightest part of hapless Damon's woe :
I ask no vengeance from the powers above;
All I implore is never more to love.
Let me this fondness from my bosom tear,
Let me forget that e'er I thought her fair.
Come, cool Indifference, and heal my breast;
Wearied, at length, I seek thy downy rest:
No turbulence of passion shall destroy
My future ease with flattering hopes of joy.
Hear, mighty Pan, and, all ye sylvans, hear
What by your guardian deities I swear;
No more my eyes shall view her fatal charms,
No more I'll court the traitoress to my arms;
Not all her arts my steady soul shall move,
And she shall find that reason conquers love!"
Scarce had he spoke, when through the lawn below Alone he saw the beauteous Delia go;
At once transported, he forgot his vow,
(Such perjuries the laughing gods allow !)
Down the steep hills with ardent haste he flew ;
He found her kind, and soon believ'd her true.
TO LORD COBHAM.
COBHAM, to thee this rural lay I bring,
Whose guiding judgment gives me skill to sing : Though far unequal to those polish'd strains,
With which thy Congreve charm'd the listening plains:
Yet shall its music please thy partial ear, [dear;
And soothe thy breast with thoughts that once were
Recall those years which Time has thrown behind,
When smiling Love with Honour shar'd thy mind:
When all thy glorious days of prosperous fight
Delighted less than one successful night.
The sweet remembrance shall thy youth restore,
Fancy again shall run past pleasures o'er ;
And, while in Stowe's enchanting walks you stray,
This theme may help to cheat the summer's day.
Beneath the covert of a myrtle wood,
To Venus rais'd, a rustic altar stood.
To Venus and to Hymen, there combin'd,
In friendly league to favour human kind.
With wanton Cupids, in that happy shade,
The gentle Virtues and mild Wisdom play'd.
Nor there in sprightly Pleasure's genial train,
Lurk'd sick Disgust, or late-repenting Pain,
Nor Force, nor Interest, join'd unwilling hands,
But Love consenting tied the blissful bands.
Thither, with glad devotion, Damon came,
To thank the powers who bless'd his faithful flame:
Two milk-white doves he on their altar laid,
And thus to both his grateful homage paid:
"Hail, bounteous god! before whose hallow'd shrine
My Delia vow'd to be for ever mine,
While, glowing in her cheeks, with tender love,
Sweet virgin-modesty reluctant strove !
And hail to thee, fair queen of young desires!
Long shall my heart preserve thy pleasing fires,
Since Delia now can all its warmth return,
As fondly languish, and as fiercely burn.
"O the dear bloom of last propitious night! O shade more charming than the fairest light! Then in my arms I clasp'd the melting maid, Then all my pains one moment overpaid; Then first the sweet excess of bliss I prov'd, Which none can taste but who like me have lov'd. Thou' too, bright goddess, once, in Ida's grove, Didst not disdain to meet a shepherd's love; With him, while frisking lambs around you play'd, Conceal'd you sported in the secret shade : Scarce could Anchises' raptures equal mine, And Delia's beauties only yield to thine.
"What are ye now, my once most valued joys? Insipid trifles all, and childish toys Friendship itself ne'er knew a charm like this, Nor Colin's talk could please like Delia's kiss.