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A little rill, o'er pebbly beds convey'd,
Gush down the steep and glitter through the glade.
What cheering scents these bordering banks exhale!
How loud that heifer lows from yonder vale!
That thrush how shrill! his note so clear, so high,
He drowns each feather'd minstrel of the sky.
Here let me trace beneath the purpled morn,
The deep-mouth'd beagle and the sprightly horn,
Or lure the trout with well-dissembled flies,
Or fetch the fluttering partridge from the skies.
Nor shall thy hand disdain to crop the vine,
The downy peach or flavour'd nectarine,
Or rob the bee-hive of its golden hoard,
And bear the' unbought luxuriance to thy board.
Sometimes my books by day shall kill the hours,
While from thy needle rise the silken flow'rs,
And thou by turns, to ease my feeble sight,
Resume the volume and deceive the night.
Oh! when I mark thy twinkling eyes opprest,
Soft whispering let me warn my love to rest,
Then watch thee, charm'd, while sleep locks every
And to sweet Heav'n commend thy innocence !
Thus reign'd our fathers o'er the rural fold,
Wise, hale, and honest, in the days of old;
Till courts arose, where substance pays for show,
And specious joys are bought with real woe.
See Flavia's pendants large, well spread and right;
The ear that wears them hears a fool each night.
Mark how the' embroider'd col'nel sneaks away
To shun the withering dame that made him gay.
That knave to gain a title lost his fame ;
That rais'd his credit by a daughter's shame :
This coxcomb's ribband cost him half his land,
And oaks unnumber'd bought that fool a wand.
Fond man, as all his sorrows were too few,
Acquires strange wants that Nature never knew ;
By midnight lamps he emulates the day,
And sleeps perverse the cheerful suns away;
From all the dry devoirs of blood and line,
From ties maternal, moral, and divine,
Discharg'd my grasping soul; push'd me from shore,
And launch'd me into life without an oar.
'What had I lost, if conjugally kind,
By nature hating, yet by vows confin'd,
Untaught the matrimonial bounds to slight,
And coldly conscious of the husband's right,
You had faint-drawn me with a form alone,
A lawful lump of life by force your own!
Then, while your backward will retrench'd desire,
And unconcurring spirits lent no fire,
I had been born your dull, domestic heir,
Load of your life, and motive of your care;
Perhaps been poorly rich, and meanly great,
The slave of pomp, a cipher in the state,
Lordly neglectful of a worth unknown,
And slumbering in a seat, by chance my own.
'Far nobler blessings wait the Bastard's lot;
Conceiv'd in rapture, and with fire begot!
Strong as necessity, he starts away,
Climbs against wrongs, and brightens into day.'
Thus unprophetic, lately misinspir'd,
I sung: gay fluttering hope my fancy fir'd;
Inly secure, through conscious scorn of ill,
Nor taught by wisdom, how to balance will,
Rashly deceiv'd, I saw no pits to shun,
But thought to purpose, and to act, were one;
Heedless what pointed cares pervert his way,
Whom caution arms not, and whom woes betray;
But now expos'd, and shrinking from distress,
I fly to shelter, while the tempests press;
My Muse to grief resigns the varying tone,
The raptures languish, and the numbers groan.
O memory! thou soul of joy and pain!
Thou actor of our passions o'er again!
Why dost thou aggravate the wretch's woe?
Why add continuous smart to every blow?
Few are my joys; alas! how soon forgot!
On that kind quarter thou invad'st me not:
While sharp and numberless my sorrows fall;
Yet thou repeat'st, and multiply'st 'em all!
Is chance, a guilt? that my disastrous heart, For mischief never meant, must ever smart? Can self-defence be sin?-Ah, plead no more! What though no purpos'd malice stain'd thee o'er? Had Heav'n befriended thy unhappy side, Thou hadst not been provok'd-or thou hadst died. Far be the guilt of home-shed blood, from all On whom, unsought, embroiling dangers fall! Still the pale dead revives, and lives to me, To me! through Pity's eye condemn'd to see. Remembrance veils his rage, but swells his fate; Griev'd I forgive, and am grown cool too late; Young and unthoughtful then, who knows one day What ripening virtues might have made their way! He might have liv'd, till folly died in shame, Till kindling wisdom felt a thirst for fame: He might perhaps his country's friend have prov'd; Both happy, generous, candid, and belov'd: He might have sav'd some worth, now doom'd to
And I, perchance, in him, have murder'd all.
O fate of late repentance! always vain:
Thy remedies but lull undying pain.
Where shall my hope find rest?-no Mother's care
Shielded my infant innocence with pray'r:
No Father's guardian hand my youth maintain'd,
Call'd forth my virtues, or from vice restrain'd.
Is it not thine to snatch some powerful' arm,
First to advance, then skreen from future harm?
I am return'd from death, to live in pain!
Or would Imperial Pity save in vain ?
Distrust it not-What blame can Mercy find,
Which gives at once a life, and rears a mind?
Mother, miscall'd, farewell-of soul severe,
This sad reflection yet may force one tear:
All I was wretched by, to you I ow'd,
Alone from strangers every comfort flow'd!
Lost to the life you gave, your Son no more,
And now adopted, who was doom'd before,
New-born, I may a nobler Mother claim,
But dare not whisper her immortal name;
Supremely lovely, and serenely great!
Majestic Mother of a kneeling State!
Queen of a People's heart, who ne'er before
Agreed-yet now with one consent adore!
One contest yet remains in this desire,
Who most shall give applause, where all admire.
A Rhapsody. 1733.
ALL human race would fain be wits,
And millions miss for one that hits:
Young's universal passion, pride,
Was never known to spread so wide.
Say, Britain! could you ever boast
Three poets in an age at most?
Our chilling climate hardly bears
A sprig of bays in fifty years,
While every fool his claim alleges,
As if it grew in common hedges.
What reason can there be assign'd
For this perverseness in the mind?
Brutes find out where their talents lie:
A bear will not attempt to fly;
A founder'd horse will oft debate
Before he tries a five-barr'd gate;
A dog by instinct turns aside,
Who sees the ditch too deep and wide;
But man we find the only creature
Who, led by folly, combats Nature;
Who, when she loudly cries' Forbear,'
With obstinacy fixes there,
And where his genius least inclines,
Absurdly bends his whole designs.
Not empire to the rising sun
By valour, conduct, fortune, won;
Not highest wisdom in debates
For framing laws to govern states;
Not skill in sciences profound,
So large to grasp the circle round,
Such heavenly influence require
As how to strike the Muse's lyre.