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Ye fair Circassians ! all your lutes employ,
Seraglios sing, and harems dance for joy!
For British nymphs whose lords were lately true,
Nymphs quite as fair, and happier once than you,
Honour, esteem, and confidence forgot,
Feel all the meanness of your slavish lot.
O curst Hypothesis ! your hellish arts
Seduce our husbands, and estrange their hearts.-
Will none arise ? no knight who still retains
The blood of ancient worthies in his veins,
To assert the charter of the chaste and fair,
Find out her treacherous heart, and plant a dagger
A knight-(can he that serves the fair do less)
Starts at the call of beauty in distress;
And he that does not, whatsoe'er occurs,
Is recreant, and unworthy of his spurs.
Full many a champion, bent on hardy deed, t
Call’d for his arms and for his princely steed.
So swarm’d the Sabine youth, and grasp'd the shield,
When Roman rapine, by no laws withheld,
Lest Rome should end with her first founders' lives,
Made half their maids, sans ceremony, wives.
But not the mitred few, the soul their charge,
They left these bodily concerns at large;
Forms or no forms, pluralities or pairs,
Right reverend sirs ! was no concern of theirs.
The rest, alert and active as became
A courteous knighthood, caught the generous flame;
One was accoutred when the cry began,
Knight of the Silver Moon, Sir Marmadan. I
Oft as his patroness, who rules the night,
Hangs out her lamp in yon cærulean height,
His vow was, (and he well perform’d his vow,)
Arm’d at all points, with terror on his brow,
To judge the land, to purge atrocious crimes,
And quell the shapeless monsters of the times.
* When a knight was degraded, his spurs were chopped off. C. † “ Amongst the mightiest, bent on highest deeds." Par. Lost, vi. 121
Monthly Review for October (1780].
For cedars famed, fair Lebanon supplied
The well-poised lance that quiver'd at his side;
Truth arm'd it with a point so keen, so just,
No spell or charm was proof against the thrust.
He couch'd it firm upon his puissant thigh, *
And darting through his helm an eagle's eye, t
On all the wings of chivalry advanced
To where the fond Sir Airy lay entranced.
He dreamt not of a foe, or if his fear
Foretold one, dreamt not of a foe so near.
Far other dreams his feverish mind employ'd,
Of rights restored, variety enjoy'd;
Of virtue too well fenced to fear a flaw;
Vice passing current by the stamp of law;
Large population on a liberal plan,
And woman trembling at the foot of man;
How simple wedlock fornication works,
And Christians marrying may convert the Turks.
The trumpet now spoke Marmadan at hand,
A trumpet that was heard through all the land.
His high-bred steed expands his nostrils wide,
And snorts aloud to cast the mist aside;
But he, the virtues of his lance to show,
Struck thrice the point upon his saddle-bow;
Three sparks ensued that chased it all away,
And set the unseemly pair in open day.
“To horse!” he cried, “or, by this good right hand
And better spear, I smite you where you stand.”
Sir Airy, not a whit dismay'd or scared,
Buckled his helm, and to his steed repair’d;
Whose bridle, while he cropp'd the grass below,
Hung not far off upon a myrtle bough.
He mounts at once,-such confidence infused
The insidious witch that had his wits abused;
And she, regardless of her softer kind,
Seized fast the saddle and sprang up behind.
my almighty arms
Gird ou, and sword upon thy puissant thigh.” Par. Lost, vi. 713.
“He through the armed files Darts his experienced eye.”
Par. Lost, i. 569. This is one of the instances in which Cowper's remembrance of a passage in Milton has betrayed him into an inexact use of a word in it.
“ Oh shame to knighthood !” his assailant cried; “Oh shame!” ten thousand echoing nymphs re
plied. Placed with advantage at his listening ear, She whisper'd still that he had nought to fear; That he was cased in such enchanted steel, So polish'd and compact from head to heel, “Come ten, come twenty, should an army call Thee to the field, thou shouldst withstand them all.”
By Dian's beams,” Sir Marmadan exclaim’d, “ The guiltiest still are ever least ashamed ! But guard thee well, expect no feign'd attack; And guard beside the sorceress at thy back!”
He spoke indignant, and his spurs applied, Though little need, to his good palfrey's side ; The barb sprang forward, and his lord, whose force Was equal to the swiftness of his horse, Rush'd with a whirlwind's fury on the foe, And, Phineas-like, transfix'd them at a blow.
Then sang the married and the maiden throng Love graced the theme, and harmony the song ; The Fauns and Satyrs, a lascivious race, Shriek’d at the sight, and, conscious, left the place : And Hymen, trimming his dim torch anew, His snowy mantle o'er his shoulders threw; He turn'd, and view'd it oft on every side, And reddening with a just and generous pride, Bless’d the glad beams of that propitious day, The spot he loathed so much for ever cleansed away.
VERSES WRITTEN AT BATH, ON FINDING THE HEEL OF A SHOE,
FORTUNE! I thank thee : gentle Goddess, thanks !
Not that my Muse, though bashful, shall deny
She would have thank'd thee rather, hadst thou cast
A treasure in her way; for neither meed
Of early breakfast, to dispel the fumes
And bowel-racking pains of emptiness,
Nor noontide feast, nor evening's cool repast,
Hopes she from this, presumptuous,-though perhaps
The cobbler, leather-carving artist, might.
Nathless she thanks thee, and accepts thy boon,
Whatever ; not as erst the fabled cock,
Vain-glorious fool, unknowing what he found, [ah !
Spurn’d the rich gem thou gavest him. Wherefore,
Why not on me that favour, (worthier sure,)
Conferr’dst thou, Goddess ? Thou art blind, thou
Enough !-thy blindness shall excuse the deed.
Nor does my Muse no benefit exhale
From this thy scant indulgence ;-even here,
Hints, worthy sage philosophy, are found,
Illustrious hints, to moralize my song.
This ponderous heel of perforated hide,
Compact, with pegs indented many a row,
Haply (for such its massy form bespeaks)
The weighty tread of some rude peasant clown
Upbore : on this supported oft he stretch'd,
With uncouth strides, along the furrow'd glebe,
Flattening the stubborn clod, till cruel time
(What will not cruel time?) on a wry step,
Sever'd the strict cohesion; when, alas !
He, who could erst with even equal pace,
Pursue his destined way with symmetry
And some proportion form’d, now, on one side,
Cartail'd and maim'd, the sport of vagrant boys,
Cursing his frail supporter, treacherous prop!
With toilsome steps, and difficult, moves on.
Thus fares it oft with other than the feet
Of humble villager :—the statesman thus,
Up the steep road where proud ambition leads,
Aspiring, first uninterrupted winds
His prosperous way; nor fears miscarriage foul,
While policy prevails and friends prove true :
But that support soon failing, by him left
On whom he most depended, -basely left,
Betray'd, deserted,- from his airy height
Headlong he falls, and through the rest of life
Drags the dull load of disappointment on.
ON READING MR. RICHARDSON'S HISTORY OF
SIR CHARLES GRANDISON.
Say, ye apostate and profane,
Wretches who blush not to disdain
Allegiance to your God, -
Did e'er your idly-wasted love
Of virtue for her sake remove
And lift you from the crowd ?
Would you the race of glory run,
Know, the devout, and they alone,
Are equal to the task :
The labours of the illustrious course
Far other than the unaided force
Of human vigour ask,
To arm against repeated ill
The patient heart too brave to feel
The tortures of despair ;
Nor safer yet high-crested pride,
When wealth flows in with every tide
To gain admittance there.