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If these to life be contradictions,
Mark the morality of fictions ;
Axioms more popular they teach,
That to be good is to be rich!
For all the misses marry kings,
And diamonds are but common things;
While dames in history hardly get 'em,
Our heroines ope their mouths and spit 'em.
Oh, this is profitable learning,
Past cold historians' dull discerning ;
Who, while their annals they impart,
Expose but seldom mend the heart.
I grant, they teach to know mankind,
To learn we're wretched, weak, and blind :
But till the heart from vice is clear,
Who wants to know what passes there?
Till Hercules to cleanse was able,
No doubt they shut th' Augean stable.
Here too in high emphatic tone
of female worth is shown;
Ev'n enterprising Joan of Arc
Falls short of true heroic mark;
Thalestris was a mere home-keeper,
And swift Camilla but a creeper.
Here deeds of valour are as common
As song or dance, to real woman;
And meekest damsels find it facile
To storm a giant's moated castle ;
Where draw-bridges do open fly
If virgin foot approaches nigh;
And brazen gates with twenty locks,
At which an army vainly knocks,
Fly ope, nor on their hinges linger,
At touch of virgin's little finger.
Then slow attacks, and tiresome sieges,
Which history makes the work of ages,
Are here, by means of fairy power,
Achieved with ease in half an hour.
Tactics ! they prove there's nothing in it,
Who conquer kingdoms in a minute :
They never hear of ten years' jars
(For Troy's the average length of wars);
And diplomatic form and rule
Might learn from Mother Bunch's school,
How rapidly are state intrigues
Convey'd with boots of seven long leagues.
Here farther, too, our great commanders
Who conquer'd France, and rescued Flanders,
From Mother Bunch's Tales might hear
Some secrets worth a general's ear;
How armies need not stop to bait,
And heroes never drink or eat;
Wrapt in sublimer occupation
They scorn such vulgar renovation.
Your British generals cannot keep
Themselves or followers half so cheap :
For men and horses, out of books,
Call, one for corn, and one for cooks;
And dull historic nags must stay
For provender of oats and hay:
While these bold heroes wing their flight
Through twenty kingdoms in a night;
Of silvery dew they snatch a cup,
Or on a slice of moonshine sup:
And while they fly to meet their queen,
With half the convex world between,
Their milk-white palfreys scorning grass,
Just crop a rose-leaf as they pass.
Then Mother Bunch's morals strike,
By praising friend and foe alike.
What virtue to the world is lost,
Because on thy ill-fated coast,
O Carthage! sung alone by foes,
The sun of history never rose!
Fertile in heroes, didst thou own
The muse that makes those heroes known;
Then had the bright reverse appear’d,
And Carthaginian truth been clear’d:
On Punic faith, so long reviled,
The wily African had smiled ;
And, possibly, not much had errod,
If we of Roman fraud had heard.
Then leave your Robertsons and Bryants
For John the murderer of giants;
Since all mythology profane
Is quite as doubtful, quite as vain.
Though Bryant, learned friend of youth,
His fable consecrates to truth :
And Robertson with just applause
His finish'd portraits fairly draws.
Yet history, great Raleigh knew,
And knowing, grieved, may not be true;
For how the facts are we to know
Which pass'd a thousand years ago ;
When he no just account could get
Of quarrel in th' adjacent street ?
Though from his chair the noise he heard,
The tale of each relater err’d.
From An Heroic Epistle to a child, written on the
blank leaves of Mother Bunch's Tales.
FOLLY OF THE DREAD OF DEATII.
And what is death?
Is it so terrible to die, my brother?
Or grant it terrible, is it for that
The less inevitable? If, indeed,
We could by stratagem elude the blow,
When some high duty calls us forth to die,
And thus for ever shun it, and escape
The universal lot,-then fond self-love,
Then cautious prudence, boldly might produce,
Their fine-spun arguments, their learn'd harangues,
Their cobweb arts, their phrase sophistical,
Their subtile doubts, and all the specious tricks
Of selfish cunning labouring for its end.
But since, howe'er protracted, death will come,
Why fondly study, with ingenious pains,
To put it off ?—To breathe a little longer
Is to defer our fate, but not to shun it.
Small gain! which wisdom, with indifferent eye,
Beholds. Why wish to drink the bitter dregs
Of life's exhausted chalice, whose last runnings,
E'en at the best, are vapid ? Why not die
(If Heaven so will) in manhood's opening bloom,
When all the flush of life is
When sprightly youth, with many a new-born joy,
Solicits every sense? So may we then
Present a sacrifice, unmeet indeed,
(Ah, how unmeet!) but less unworthy far,
Than the world's leavings; than a worn-out heart,
By vice enfeebled, and by vain desires
Sunk and exhausted!
This gentle and amiable poet of nature was born at Honington, Dear Bury, in the county of Suffolk, on the 3d of December, 1766. His mother being left a widow, with a family of six children, and in straitened circumstances, Robert had no other instruction during his boyhood except what he received from her. self, and at the age of eleven he was obliged to enter into the service of a neighbouring farmer. Here, however, it was found that his small and delicate frame was unfitted for any kind of agricultural labour, upon which he was sent to London, to learn the trade of a shoemaker from his elder brother, who was settled there as a journeyman. But while he was employed at his work-stall, or in running errands for the workmen, the aspiring boy showed the innate force of his genius by his solicitude for knowledge, and the rapidity with which he acquired it. Thus he went on till his seventeenth year, when he made his first attempt in poetry; and when he had made the delightful discovery that he could express himself in rhyme, he persevered until his efforts became poetry, It was in a garret in London, and amidst the incessant hammering of six or seven fellow-workmen, that he composed his Farmer's Boy. But even such an effort of genius surmounting difficulty might have been fruitless, for the poem on being shown in manuscript to several literary persons was strangely neg. lected, until it came into the hands of Mr. Capel Lotit. That amiable and talented gentleman perceived the extraordinary merits of the work, and resolved to befriend the author; the result of which kindness was, that The Farmer's Boy was published under favourable auspices, and with such remarkable success, that repeated editions were demanded, and Bloomfield himself was astonished to find it ranked among the chief productions of the day.
It is melancholy to add, that, notwithstanding the celebrity he had acquired, the steps of the poet still continued to be haunted by poverty: but this was owing to his liberal and affectionate disposition, that looked upon money only as valuable by how much it could relieve the distresses of his poor relations, He died in Bedfordshire, on the 19th of August, 1823.
Shot up from broad rank blades that droop belou,
The nodding WHEAT-EAR forms a graceful bow,
With milky kernels starting full, weighid down,
Ere yet the sun hath tinged its head with brown;
Whilst thousands in a flock, for ever gay,
Loud chirping sparrows welcome on the day,
And from the mazes of the leafy thorn
Drop one by one upon the bending corn.
Giles with a pole assails their close retreats,
And round the grass-grown dewy border beats,
On either side completely overspread,
Here branches bend, there corn o’ertops his head
Green covert, hail! for through the varying year
No hours so sweet, no scene to him so dear.
Its dark-green liue, its sicklier tints all fail,
And ripening harvest rustles in the gale.
A glorious sight, if glory dwells below,
Where Heaven's munificence makes all the show,
O'er every field and golden prospect found,
That glads the ploughman's Sunday morning round,
When on some eminence he takes his stand,
To judge the smiling produce of the land.
Here Vanity slinks back, her head to hide :
What is there here to flatter human pride?
The towering fabric, or the dome's loud roar,
And steadfast columns, may astonish more,
Where the charm’d gazer long delighted stays,
Yet traced but to the architect the praise;
Whilst here, the veriest clown that treads the sod,
Without one scruple gives the praise to God:
And twofold joys possess his raptured mind,
From gratitude and admiration join'd.
Here, midst the boldest triumphs of her worth,
Nature herself invites the reapers forth;
Dares the keen sickle from its twelvemonth's rest,
And gives that ardour which in every breast
From infancy to age alike appears,
When the first sheaf its plumy top uprears.
No rake takes here what Heaven to all bestows-
Children of want! for you the bounty flows:
And every cottage from the plenteous store,
Receives a burden nightly at its door.
From The Farmer's Boy : Summer.