Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Nor such as useless conversation breeds,

Behold in these what leisure hours demand, Or lust engenders, and indulgence feeds. Amusement and true knowledge hand in hand. Whence, and what are we? to what end ordained ? Luxury gives the mind a childish cast, What means the drama by the world sustained ? And, while she polishes, perverts the taste; Business or vain amusement, care or mirth, Habits of close attention, thinking heads, Divide the frail inhabitants of earth.

Become more rare as dissipation spreads, Is duty a mere sport, or an employ?

Till authors hear at length one general cry, — Life an intrusted talent, or a toy?

Tickle and entertain us, or we die. Is there, as reason, conscience, Scripture, say, The loud demand, from year to year the same, Cause to provide for a great future day,

Beggars Invention, and makes Fancy lame; When, earth's assigned duration at an end, Till farce itself, most mournfully jejune, Man shall be summoned and the dead attend ? Calls for the kind assistance of a túne; The trumpet—will it sound, the curtain rise, And novels (witness every month’s review And show th’august tribunal of the skies; Belie their name, and offer nothing new. Where no prevarication shall avail,

The mind, relaxing into needful sport, Where eloquence and artifice shall fail,

Should turn to writers of an abler sort, The pride of arrogant distinctions fall,

Whose wit well managed, and whose classic style, And conscience and our conduct judge us all ? Give truth a lustre, and make wisdom smile. Pardon me, ye that give the midnight oil Friends (for I can not stint, as some have done, To learned cares, or philosophic toil,

Too rigid in my view, that name to one; Though I revere your honourable names, Though one, I grant it, in the generous breast Your useful labours and important ains, Will stand advanced a step above the rest ; And hold the world indebted to your aid, Flowers by that name promiscuously we call, Enriched with the discoveries ye have made; But one, the rose, the regent of them all) Yet let me stand excused, if I esteem

Friends, not adopted with a schoolboy's haste, A mind employed on so sublime a theme, But chosen with a nice discerning taste, Pushing her bold inquiry to the date

Well-born, well-disciplined, who, placed apart And outline of the present transient state, From vulgar minds, have honour much at heart, And, after poising her adventurous wings, And, though the world may think th' ingredients Settling at last upon eternal things,

odd, Far more intelligent and better taught

The love of virtue, and the fear of God! The strenuous use of profitable thought, Such friends prevent what else would soon succeed, Than ye, when happiest, and enlightened most, A temper rustic as the life we lead, And highest in renown, can justly boast. And keep the polish of the manners clean

As theirs who bustle in the busiest scene; A mind unnerved, or indisposed to bear For solitude, however some may rave, The weight of subjects worthiest of her care. Seeming a sanctuary, proves a grave, Whatever hopes a change of scene inspires, A sepulchre in which the living lie, Must change her nature, or in vain retires. Where all good qualities grow sick and die. An idler is a watch, that wants both hands, I praise the Frenchman,* his remark was shrewdAs useless if it goes, as when it stands.

How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude! Books, therefore, not the scandal of the shelves,

But grant me still a friend in my retreat,
In which lewd sensualists print out themselves; Whom I may whisper-solitude is sweet.
Nor those, in which the stage gives vice a blow, Yet neither these delights, nor aught beside,
With what success let modern manners show; That appetite can ask, or wealth provide,
Nor his, who, for the bane of thousands born, Can save us always from a tedious day,
Built God a church, and laughed his word to scorn, Or shine the dullness of still life away:
Skilful alike to seem devout and just,

Divine communion, carefully enjoyed,
And stab religion with a sly side-thrust; Or sought with energy, must fill the void.
Nor those of learned philologists, who chase O sacred art, to which alone life owes
A panting syllable through time and space, Its happiest seasons, and a peaceful close,
Start at it home, and hunt it in the dark,

Scorned in a world, indebted to that scorn
To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's ark; For evils daily felt and hardly borne,
But such as Learning without false pretence, Not knowing thee, we reap with bleeding hands
The friend of Truth, th' associate of good Sense, Flowers of rank odour upon thorny lands,
And such as, in the zeal of good design,

And, while Experience cautions us in vain, Strong judgment labouring in the Scripture mine, Grasp seeming happiness, and find it pain. All such as manly and great souls produce, Worthy to live, and of eternal use :

Bruyere.

Despondence, self-deserted in her grief,

Religion does not censure or exclude Lost by abandoning her own relief,

Unnumbered pleasures harmlessly pursued; Murmuring and ungrateful Discontent,

To study culture, and with artful toil That seorns afflictions mercifully meant, To meliorate and tame the stubborn soil; Those humours, tart as wine upon the fret, To give dissimilar yet fruitful lands Which idleness and weariness beget;

The grain, or herb, or plant that each demands; These, and a thousand plagues, that haunt the To cherish virtue in an humble state, breast,

And share the joys your bounty may create; Fond of the phantom of an earthly rest,

To mark the matchless workings of the power Divine communion chases, as the day

That shuts within its seed the future flower,
Drives to their dens th' obedient beasts of prey. Bids these in elegance of form excel,
See Judah's promised king bereft of all,

In colour these, and those delight the smell,
Driven out an exile from the face of Saul, Sends Nature forth the daughter of the skies,
To distant caves the lonely wanderer flies, To dance on earth, and charm all human eyes;
To seek that peace a tyrant's frown denies. To teach the canvass innocent deceit,
Hear the sweet accents of his tuneful voice, Or lay the landscape on the snowy sheet-
Hear him, o'erwhelmed with sorrow, yet rejoice; These, these are arts pursued without a crime,
No womanish or wailing grief has part,

That leave no stain upon the wing of Time.
No not for a moment, in his royal heart;
*Tis manly music, such as martyrs make,

Me poetry (or rather notes that aim
Suffering with gladness for a Saviour's sake; Feebly and vainly at poetic fame)
His soul exults, hope animates his lays,

Employs, shut out from more important views, The sense of mercy kindles into praise,

Fast by the banks of the slow winding Ouse; And wil is, familiar with a lion's roar,

Content if thus sequestered I may raise Ring with ecstatic sounds unheard before: A monitor's though not a poet's praise, 'Tis love like his, that can alone defeat

And while I teach an art too little known, The foes of man, or make a desert sweet. To close life wisely, may not waste my own.

[ocr errors]

The Task.

BOOK I.

ADVERTISEMENT. The history of the following production is briefly this: A lady, fond of blank verse, demanded a poem of that kind from the author, and gave him the SOFA for a subject. He obeyed; and having much leisure, connected another subject with I.; and pursuing the train of thought to which his situation and tum of mind led him, brought forth at length, instead or be trifle which he at first intended, a serious affair-a Volume.

h the poem on the suhject of Education, he would be very sorry to stand suspected of having aimed his censure at any pariciar school. His objections are such, as naturally apply themselves to schools in general. If there were not, as for

mixt part there is, wilful neglect in those who manage them, and an omission even of such discipline as they are sus. cepote of the objects are yet too numerous for minute attention; and the aching hearts of ten thousand parents, mourning uster the bittercat of all disappointments, attest the truth of the allegation. His quarrel, therefore, is with the mischicí at large, and not with any particular instance of it,

THE SOFA.

ARGUMENT. Hisorical deduction of seats, fmm the Stool in the Sofa.-A Schoolboy's ramble. --A walk in the country.-The scene denbed-Rural sounds as well as sichts delightful.--Another walk----Mistake concerning the charms of solitude corrected. Cornades commenderl.- Alcove, and the view from it. The wilderness.-- The grove. -The thresher.---The necessity and the benefits of exercise. -The works of nature superior to, and in some instances inimitable by, art.-The wearisomeness cf stai ia commonly called a life of pleasure Change of scene sometimes expedient. -A common described, and the caracter of cruzy Kate introduced-Giesies.--The blessings on civilized lite.-That state most favourable to virtue:-The Seith sa islanders compassionated, but chietly Omai.-flis proxent flate of mind supposed. --Civilized life friendly to wride, but not great cities. --Great cities and London in particular, allowed their due praises, but censured. ---Pete Champetre - The book concludes with a reflection on the facal eflects of dissipation and effeminacy upon our public measures

I sing the Sofa, I, who lately sang
Truth, Hope, and Charity, and touched with awe
The solemn chords, and with a trembling hand,
Escaped with pain from that adventurous flight,

Now seek repose upon an humbler theme;
The theme though humble, yet august and proud
Th’occasion--for the Fair commands the song.

Time was, when clothing sumptuous or for use,

Save their own painted skins, our sires had none. Long time elapsed or e'er our rugged sires
As yet black breeches were not; satin smooth, Complained, though incommodiously pent in,
Or velvet soft, or plush with shaggy pile; And ill at ease behind. The ladies first
The hardy chief upon the rugged rock

'Gan murmur, as became the softer sex.
Washed by the sea, or on the gravelly bank Ingenious Fancy, never better pleased,
Thrown up by wintry torrents roaring loud, Than when employed t' accommodate the fair,
Fearless of wrong, reposed his weary strength. Heard the sweet moan with pity, and devised
Those barbarous ages past, succeeded next The soft settee; one elbow at each end.
The birth-day of invention; weak at first, And in the midst an elbow it received,
Dull in design, and clumsy to perform.

United yet divided, twain at once. Joint-stools were then created; on three legs So sit two kings of Brentford on one throne; Upborne they stood. Three legs upholding firm And so two citizens, who take the air, A massy slab, in fashion square or round. Close packed, and smiling, in a chaise and one. On such a stool immortal Alfred sat,

But relaxation of the languid frame,
And swayed the sceptre of his infant realms : Was bliss reserved for happier days. So slow
And such in ancient halls and mansions drear The growth of what is excellent; so hard
May still be seen; but perforated sore,

T'attain perfection in this nether world.
And drilled in holes, the solid oak is found, Thus first necessity invented stools,
By worms voracious eaten through and through. Convenience next suggested elbow chairs,
At length a generation more refined

And Luxury th' accomplished Sofa last.
Improved the simple plan; made three legs four, The nurse sleeps sweetly, hired to watch the sick,
Gave them a twisted form vermicular,

Whom snoring she disturbs. As sweetly he, And o'er the seat with plenteous wadding stuffed, Who quits the coach-box at the midnight hour, Induced a splendid cover, green and blue, To sleep within the carriage more secure, Yellow and red, of tapestry richly wrought His legs depending at the open door. And woven close, or needlework sublime. Sweet sleep enjoys the curate in his desk, There might you see the piony spread wide, The tedious rector drawling o'er his head; The full blown rose, the shepherd and his lass, And sweet the clerk below. But neither sleep Lapdog and lambkin with black staring oyes, Of lazy nurse, who snores the sick man dead; And parrots with twin cherries in their beak. Nor his, who quits the box at midnight hour,

Now came the cane from India, smooth and bright To slumber in the carriage more secure; With Nature's varnish; severed into stripes, Nor sleep enjoyed by curate in his desk; That interlaced each other, these supplied Nor yet the dozings of the clerk, are sweet, Of texture firm a lattice-work, that braced Compared with the repose the Sofa yields. The new machine, and it became a chair.

O may I live exempted (while I live But restless was the chair; the back erect Guiltless of pampered appetite obscene) Distressed the weary loins, that felt no ease; From pangs arthritic, that infest the toe The slippery seat betrayed the sliding part Of libertine Excess. The Sofa suits That pressed it, and the feet hung dangling down, The gouty limb, 'tis true: but gouty limb Anxious in vain, to find the distant floor. Though on a Sofa, may I never feel; These for the rich; the rest, whom Fate had placed For I have loved the rural walk through lanes In modest mediocrity, content

Of grassy swarth, close cropped by nibbling sheep, With base materials, sat on well tanned hides, And skirted thick with intertexture firm Obdurate and unyielding, glassy smooth, Of thorny boughs ; have loved the rural walk With here and there a tuft of crimson yarn, O’er hills, through valleys, and by rivers' brink, Or scarlet crewel, in the cushion fixed,

E’er since a truant boy I passed my bounds,
If cushion might be called, what harder seemed T' enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames :
Than the firm oak, of which the frame was formed. And still remember nor without regret
No want of timber then was felt or feared Of hours, that sorrow since has much endeared,
In Albion's happy isle. The lumber stood How oft, my slice of pocket store consumed,
Ponderous and fixed by its own massy weight. Still hungering, pennyless, and far from home,
But elbows still were wanting; these, some say I fed on scarlet hips and stony haws,
An alderman of Cripplegate contrived;

Or blushing crabs, or berries, that emboss
And some ascribe th’ invention to a priest, The bramble, black as jet, or slocs austere.
Burly, and big, and studious of his ease. Hard fare! but such as boyish appetite
But rude at first, and not with easy slope Disdains not; nor the palate, undepraved
Receding wide, they pressed against the ribs, By culinary arts, unsavoury deems.
And bruised the side; and, elevated high,

No Sofa then awaited my return;
Taught the raised shoulders to invade the ears. Nor Sofa then I needed. Youth repairs

[ocr errors]

His wasted spirits quickly, by long toil

And lull the spirit while they fill the mind; Incurring short fatigue; and though our years, Unnumbered branches waving in the blast, As life declines, speed rapidly away,

And all their leaves fast fluttering, all at once. And not a year but pilfers as he goes

Nor less composure waits upon the roar Some youthful grace, that age would gladly keep; Of distant floods, or on the softer voice A tooth or auburn lock, and by degrees

Of neighbouring fountain, or of rills that slip Their length and colour from the locks they spare; Through the cleft rock, and, chiming as they fall Th' elastic spring of an unwearied foot,

Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length That mounts the stile with ease, or leaps the fence, In matted grass, that with a livelier green That play of lungs, inhaling and again

Betrays the secret of their silent course. Respiring froely the fresh air, that makes Nature inanimate employs sweet sounds, Swift pace or steep ascent, no toil to me,

But animated nature sweeter still, Mine have not pilfered yet, nor yet impaired To sooth and satisfy the human ear. My relish of fair prospect ; scenes that soothed Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one Or charmed me young, no longer young, I find The livelong night: nor these alone, whose notes Still soothing, and of power to charm me still. Nice-fingered art must emulate in vain, And witness, dear companion of my walks, But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive In still repeated circles, screaming loud, Fast locked in mine, with pleasure such as love, The jay, the pie, and e'en the boding owl, Confirmed by long experience of thy worth That hails the rising moon, have charms for me. And well tried virtues could alone inspire- Sounds inharmonious in themselves and harsh, Witness a joy that thou hast doubled long. Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns, Thou knowest 'my praise of nature most sincere, And only there, please highly for their sake. And that my raptures are not conjured up Peace to the artist whose ingenious thought To serve occasions of poetic pomp,

Devised the weather-house, that useful toy! Bat genuine, and art partner of them all. Fearless of humid air and gathering rains, How oft upon yon eminence our pace

Forth steps the man-an emblem of myself! Has slackened to a pause, and we have borne More delicate his timorous mate retires. The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew, When Winter soaks the fields, and female feet, While admiration, feeding at the eye,

Too weak to struggle with tenacious clay, And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene.

Or ford the rivulets, are best at home, Thence with what pleasure have we just discerned The task of new discoveries falls on mo. The distant plough slow moving, and beside At such a season, and with such a charge, His labouring team, that swerved not from the track, Once went I forth; and found, till then unknown, The sturdy swain diminished to a boy!

A cottage, whither oft we since repair; Here Ouse, slow winding through a level plain 'Tis perched upon the green hill tops, but close Of spacious meads with cattle sprinkled o'er, Environed with a ring of branching elms, Conducts the eye along his sinuous course That overhang the thatch, itself unseen Delighted. There, fast rooted in their bank, Peeps at the vale below; so thick beset Stand, never overlooked, our favourite elms, With foliage of such dark redundant growth, That screens the herdsman's solitary hut; I called the low-rooted lodge the peasant's nest. While far beyond, and overthwart the stream, And, hidden as it is, and far reinote That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale, From such unpleasing sounds, as haunt the car The sloping land recedes into the clouds; In village or in town, the bay of curs Displaying on its varied side the grace

Incessant, clinking hammers, grinding wheels, Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tower, And infants clamorous, whether pleascd or pained, Tall spire, from which the sound of cheerful bells Oft have I wished the peaceful covert mine. Jast undulates upon the listening car,

Here, I have said, at least I should possess
Groves, heaths, and smoking villages, remote. The poet's treasure, silence, and indulge
Scenes must be beautiful, which daily viewed à The dreams of fancy, tranquil and secure.
Please daily, and whose novelty survives Vain thought! the dweller in that still retreat
Long knowledge and the scrutiny of years : Dearly obtains the refuge it affords.
Praise justly due to those that I describe.

Its elevated site forbids the wretch
Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds, To drink sweet waters of the crystal well;
Exhilarate the spirit and restore

He dips the bowl into the weedy ditch,
The tone of languid Nature. Mighty winds, And, heavy laden, brings his beverage home,
That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood Far fetched and little worth ; nor seldom waits,
Of ancient growth, make music not unlike Dependent on the baker's punctual call,
The dash of Ocean on his winding shore, To hear his creaking panniers at the door,

Angry and sad, and his last crust consumed. Diversified with trees of every growth,
So farewell envy of the peasant's nest !

Alike, yet various. Here the gray smooth trunks
If solitude makes scant the means of life, Of ash, or lime, or beech, distinctly shine,
Society for me!-thou seeming sweet,

Within the twilight of their distant shades; Be still a pleasing object in my view;

There, lost behind a rising ground, the wood My visit still, but never mine abode.

Seems sunk, and shortened to its topmast boughs. Not distant far, a length of colonnade

Notree in all the grove but has its charms,
Invites us. Monument of ancient taste, Though each its frué peculiar; paler some,
Now scorned, but worthy of a better fate. And of a wanish gray; the willow such,
Our fathers knew the value of a screen

And poplar, that with silver lines his leaf,
From sultry suns: and, in their shaded walks And ash far stretching his umbrageous arm;
And long protracted bowers, enjoyed at noon Of deeper green the elm; and deeper still,
The gloom and coolness of declining day. Lord of the woods, the long-surviving oak.
We bear our shades about us; self-deprived Some glossy-leaved, and shining in the sun,
Of other screen, the thin umbrella spread, The maple, and the beech of oily nuts
And range an Indian waste without a tree. Prolific, and the lime at dewy eve
Thanks to Benevolus* he spares me yet

Diffusing odours: "nor unnoted pass
These chestnuts ranged in corresponding lines; The sycamore, capricious in attire,
And, though himself so polished, still reprieves Now green, now tawny, and ere autumn yet
The obsolete prolixity of shade.

Have changed the woods, in scarlet honours
Descending now (but cautious, lest too fast) bright.
A sudden steep, upon å rustic bridge

O'er these, but far beyond (a spacious map We pass a gulf, in which the willows dip Of hill and valley interposed between,) Their pendent boughs, stooping as if to drink. The Ouse dividing the well-watered land, Hence, ankle deep in moss and flowery thyme, Now glitters in the sun, and now retires, We mount again, and feel at every step

As, bashful, yet impatient to be seen. Our foot half sunk in hillocks green and soft,

Hence the declivity is sharp and short, Raised by the mole, the miner of the soil.

And such the reascent; between them weeps He, not unlike the great ones of mankind,

A little naiad her impoverished urn Disfigures Earth: and, plotting in the dark,

All summer long, which winter fills again. Toils much to earn a monumental pile,

The folded gates would bar my progress now, 'That may record the mischiefs he has done.

But that the lord of this enclosed demesne, The summit gained, behold the proud alcove Communicative of the good he owns, That crowns it! yet not all its pride secures Admits me to a share; the guiltless eye The grand retreat from injuries impressed Commits no wrong, nor wastes what it enjoys, By rural carvers, who with knives deface

Refreshing change! where now the blazing sun ? The pannels, leaving an obscure, rude name, By short transition we have lost his glare, In characters uncouch, and spelt amiss.

And stepped at once into a cooler clime.
So strong the zeal to immortalize himself Ye fallen avenues! once more I mourn
Beats in the breast of man, that e'en a few, Your fate unmerited, once more rejoice
Few transient years, won from th’ abyss abhorred That yet a remnant of your race survives.
Of blank oblivion, seem a glorious prize,

How airy and how light the graceful arch,
And even to a clown. Now roves the eye; Yet awful as the consecrated roof
And, posted on this speculative height,

Re-echoing pious anthems! while beneath
Exults in its command. The sheepfold here The checkered earth seems restless as a flood
Pours out its fleecy tenants o'er the glebe.. Brushed by the wind. So sportive is the light
At first, progressive as a stream, they seek Shot through the boughs, it dances as they dance.
The middle field; but scattered by degrees, Shadow and sunshine intermingling quick,
Each to his choice, soon whiten all the land. And darkening and enlightening, as the leaves
There from the sun-burnt hayfield homeward Play wanton, every moment, every $pot.
creeps

And now, with nerves new-braced and spirits The loaded wain; while, lightened of its charge, cheered, The wain that meets it passes swiftly by; We tread the wilderness, whose well-rolled walks, The boorish driver leaning o'er his team

With curvature of slow and easy sweep Vociferous, and impatient of delay.

Deception innocent-give ample space Nor less attractive is the woodland scene, To narrow bounds. . The grove receives us next;

[ocr errors]

John Courtney Throckmorton, Esq. of Weston Underwood,

* See the foregoing note.

« AnteriorContinuar »