Page images
PDF
EPUB

The wreaths that bound my braided hair,
Himself next day was proud to wear

At church, or on the green.
While thus sad Phyllida lamented,

Chance brought unlucky Thyrsis on; Unwillingly the nymph consented,

But Damon first the cheat begun. She wiped the fallen tears away, Then sigh'd and blush'd, as who should say,

Ah! Thyrsis, I am won.

UPON A VENERABLE RIVAL.

Full thirty frosts since thou wert young

Have chill'd the wither'd grove,
Thou wretch ! and hast thou lived so long,

Nor yet forgot to love ?
Ye sages ? spite of your pretences

To wisdom, you must own
Your folly frequently commences

When you acknowledge none.
Not that I deem it weak to love,

Or folly to admire;
But ah! the pangs we lovers prove

Far others years require.
Unheeded on the youthful brow

The beams of Phæbus play ;
But unsupported Age stoops low

Beneath the sultry ray.
For once, then, if untutor'd youth,

Youth unapproved by years,
May chance to deviate into truth,

When your experience errs;
For once attempt not to despise

What I esteem a rule:
Who early loves, though young, is wise, -

Who old, though grey, a fool.

MORTALS ! around your destined heads

Thiek fly the shafts of Death,
And lo! the savage spoiler spreads

A thousand toils beneath.
In vain we trifle with our fate,

Try every art in vain;
At best we but prolong the date,

And lengthen out our pain.
Fondly we think all danger fled,

For Death is ever nigh;
Outstrips our unavailing speed,

Or meets us as we fly.
Thus the wreck'd mariner may strive

Some desert shore to gain,
Secure of life, if he survive

The fury of the main.
But there, to famine doom'd a prey,

Finds the mistaken wretch
He but escaped the troubled sea,

To perish on the beach.
Since then in vain we strive to guard

Our frailty from the foe,
Lord, let me live not unprepared

To meet the fatal blow!

AN EPISTLE TO ROBERT LLOYD, ESQ.

1754.
'Tis not that I design to rob
Thee of thy birthright, gentle Bob, -
For thou art born sole heir and single
Of dear Mat Prior's easy jingle ;
Nor that I mean, while thus I knit
My threadbare sentiments together,
To show my genius or my wit,
When God and you know, I have neither ;
Or such, as might be better shown
By letting poetry alone.

'Tis not with either of these views,
That I presume to address the Muse :
But to divert a fierce banditti,
(Sworn foes to every thing that's witty,)
That, with a black infernal train,
Make cruel inroads in my brain,
And daily threaten to drive thence
My little garrison of sense :
The fierce banditti which I mean,
Are gloomy thoughts led on by Spleen.
Then there's another reason yet,
Which is, that I may fairly quit
The debt which justly became due
The moment when I heard from you ;
And you might grumble, crony mine,
If paid in any other coin ;
Since twenty sheets of lead, God knows,
(I would say twenty sheets of prose,)
Can ne'er be deem'd worth half so much
As one of gold, and yours was such.
Thus the preliminaries settled,
I fairly find myself pitch-kettled ; *
And cannot see, though few see better,
How I shall hammer out a letter.

First, for a thought-since all agree-
A thought-I have it—let me see-
'Tis gone again-plague on't! I thought
I had it-but I have it not.
Dame Gurton thus and Hodge her son,
That useful thing, her needle, gone,
Rake well the cinders, sweep the floor,
And sift the dust behind the door ;
While eager Hodge beholds the prize
In old grimalkin's glaring eyes ;
And Gammer finds it on her knees
In every shining straw she sees.
This simile were apt enough,
But I've another, critic-proof.

* “Pitch-kettled, a favourite phrase at the time when this Epistle was written, expressive of being puzzled, or what in the Spectator's time would have been called bamboozled.-Hayly.

The virtuoso thus at noon,
Broiling beneath a July sun,
The gilded butterfly pursues
O’er hedge and ditch, through gaps and mews,
And after many a vain essay
To captivate the tempting prey,
Gives him at length the lucky pat,
And has him safe beneath his hat :
Then lifts it gently from the ground;
But ah! 't is lost as soon as found ;
Culprit his liberty regains ;
Flits out of sight and mocks his pains.
The sense was dark, 't was therefore fit
With simile to illustrate it ;
But as too much obscures the sight,
As often as too little light,
We have our similes cut short,
For matters of more grave import.
That Matthew's numbers run with ease
Each man of common sense agrees ;
All men of common sense allow,
That Robert's lines are easy too ;
Where then the preference shall we place,
Or how do justice in this case ?
Matthew (says Fame) with endless pains
Smooth'd and refined the meanest strains,
Nor suffer'd one ill-chosen rhyme
To escape him at the idlest time;
And thus o'er all a lustre cast,
That while the language lives shall last.
An't please your ladyship, (quoth I, -
For 't is my business to reply,)
Sure so much labour, so much toil,
Bespeak at least a stubborn soil.
Theirs be the laurel-wreath decreed,
Who both write well and write full speed ;
Who throw their Helicon about
As freely as a conduit spout.
Friend Robert, thus like chien savant,
Lets fall a poem en passant,

Nor needs his genuine ore refine;
'Tis ready polish'd from the mine.

OF HIMSELF.
William was once a bashful youth;

His modesty was such,
That one might say (to say the truth)

He rather had too much.
Some said that it was want of sense,

And others want of spirit,
(So blest a thing is impudence,)

While others could not bear it. But some a different notion had,

And at each other winking, Observed, that though he little said,

He paid it off with thinking. Howe'er, it happen'd, by degrees,

He mended and grew perter ; In company was more at ease,

And dress'd a little smarter;
Nay, now and then would look quite gay,

Ås other people do ;
And sometimes said, or tried to say,

A witty thing or so.
He eyed the women, and made free

To comment on their shapes;
So that there was, or seem'd to be,

No fear of a relapse.
The women said, who thought him rough,

But now no longer foolish,
“ The creature may do well enough,

But wants a deal of polish.”
At length, improved from head to heel,

’T were scarce too much to say, No dancing bear was so genteel,

Or half so dégagé.

« PreviousContinue »