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164 ANNE, COUNTESS OF WINCHELSEA.
ANNE, COUNTE88 OF WINCHELSEA. 1720.
Give me, oh indulgent Fate,
Give me yet before I die,
A sweet but absolute retreat
'Mong paths so lost and trees so high,
That the world may ne'er invade,
Through such windings and such'shade,
My unshaken liberty.
No intruders thither come
Who visit but to be from home;
None who their vain moments pass,
Only studious of their glass :
News that charm to listening ears,
That false alarm to hopes and fears,
That common theme for every fop,
From the statesman to the shop.
In those coverts ne'er be spread
Of who's deceased or who's to wed,
Be no tidings thither brought;
But, silent as a midnight thought,
Where the world may ne'er invade,
Be those windings and that shade.
Courteous Fate! afford me there
A table spread without my care,
With what the neighbouring fields impart,
Whose cleanliness be all its art.
When of old the calf was dress'd,
Though to make an angel's feast,
In the plain unstudied sauce,
Nor treufle nor morillia was.
Nor could the mighty patriarch's board
One far-fetched ortolan afford.
ANNE, COUNTESS OF WINCHELSEA.
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 through 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;
While creeping near the humble ground
Should the strawberry be found,
Springing wheresoe'er I strayed
Through those windings and that shade.
Give me there, since Heaven has shown
It was not good to be alone,
A partner suited to my mind,
Solitary, pleased, and kind,
Who partially may something see
Preferred to all the world in me;
Slighting by my humble side,
Fame and splendour, wealth and pride.
When but two the earth possessid,
'Twas their happiest days and best;
They by business nor by wars,
They by no domestic cares,
From each other e'er were drawn;
But in some grove or flowery lawn
Spent the swiftly flying time,
Spent their own and Nature's prime,
In love—that only passion given
To perfect man while friends with Heaven.
Rage, and jealousies, and hate,
Transports of his fallen state,
When by Satan's wiles betrayed,
Fly those windings and that shade.
When civil dudgeon first grew high,
And men fell out, they knew not why;
When hard words, jealousies, and fears,
Set folks together by the ears,
And made them fight, like mad or drunk,
For Dame Religion as for punk;
Whose honesty they all durst swear for,
Though not a man of them knew wherefore;
When Gospel-trumpeter, surrounded
With long-ear'd rout, to battle sounded;
And pulpit, drum ecclesiastic,
Was beat with fist instead of a stick,
Then did Sir Knight abandon dwelling,
And out he rode a colonelling.
A wight he was, whose very sight would
Entitle him mirror of knighthood,
That never bow'd his stubborn knee
To anything but chivalry,
Nor put up blow, but that which laid
Knight worshipful on shoulder blade;
Chief of domestic knights and errant,
Either for chartel or for warrant;
Great on the bench, great in the saddle,
That could as well bind o'er as swaddle;
Mighty he was at both of these,
And styled of war as well as peace
(So some rats, of amphibious nature,
Are either for the land or water):
But here our authors make a doubt
Whether he were more wise or stout:
Some hold the one, and some the other,
But, howsoe'er they make a pother,
The diff'rence was so small, his brain
Outweigh'd his rage but half a grain:
Which made some take him for a tool
That knaves do work with, call’d a fool.
For 't has been held by many, that
As Montaigne, playing with his cat,
Complains she thought him but an ass,
Much more she would Sir Hudibras ;
For that's the name our valiant knight
To all his challenges did write ;
But they're mistaken very much,
'Tis plain enough he was not such.
We grant, although he had much wit,
H' was very shy of using it,
As being loath to wear it out,
And therefore bore it not about:
Unless on holydays or so,
As men their best apparel do.
Besides, 'tis known he could speak Greek
As naturally as pigs squeak;
That Latin was no more difficile,
Than to a blackbird 'tis to whistle :
Being rich in both, he never scanted
His bounty unto such as wanted;
But much of either would afford
To many that had not one word.
He was in logic a great critic, Profoundly skill'd in analytic: He could distinguish, and divide A hair 'twixt south and southwest side; On either which he would dispute, Confute, change hands, and still confute : He'd undertake to prove, by force Of argument, a man's no horse; He'd prove a buzzard is no fowl, And that a lord may be an owl;
A calf an alderman, a goose a justice,
And rooks committee-men and trustees.
He'd run in debt by disputation,
And pay with ratiocination :
All this by syllogism true,
In mood and figure he would do.
For rhetoric, he could not ope
His mouth, but out there flew a trope :
And when he happen'd to break off
I'th' middle of his speech, or cough,
H' had hard words ready to show why,
And tell what rules he did it by;
Else when with greatest art he spoke,
You'd think he talk'd like other folk;
For all a rhetorician's rules
Teach nothing but to name his tools.
But, when he pleased to show 't, his speech,
In loftiness of sound, was rich;
A Babylonish dialect,
Which learned pedants much affect:
It was a parti-colour'd dress
Of patch'd and piebald languages;
'Twas English cut on Greek and Latin,
Like fustian heretofore on satin ;
It had an odd promiscuous tone,
As if h' had talk'd three parts in one;
Which made some think, when he did gabble,
Th' had heard three labourers of Babel,
Or Cerberus himself pronounce
A leash of languages at once.
This he as volubly would nt,
As if his stock would ne'er be spent :
And truly to support that charge,
He had supplies as vast and large;
For he could coin or counterfeit
New words, with little or no wit;
Words so debased and hard, no stone
Was hard enough to touch them on;