YE blooming nymphs, our country's joy and pride,
Who in the stream of fashion thoughtless glide ;
No modish lay, no melting strain of love
Is here pour'd forth, your tender hearts to move.
Yet think not envious age inspires the song,
Rejecting all our earth-born joys as wrong.
Think me no matron stern who would repress
Each modern grace, each harmless change of dress ;
But one whose heart exults to join the band
Where joy and innocence go hand in hand ;
One who, while modesty maintains her place,
That sacred charm which heightens every grace,
Complacent, sees your robes excel the snow,
Or borrow colors from the aerial bow.
But in those half- rob'd bosoms are there hid
No thoughts which shame and purity forbid ?
Why do those fine-wrought veils around you play,
Like mists which scarce bedim the orb of day ?
What mean those careless limbs, that conscious air,
At which the modest blush, the vulgar stare ?
Can spotless minds endure the guilty leer,
The sober matron's frown, the witling's sneer ?
Are these the charms which, in this age refin'd,
Ensure applause, and captivate the mind ?
Are these your boasted powers ; are these the arts
Which kindle love, and chain inconstant hearts ?
Alas ! some angry power, some demon's skill
Hath wrought this strange perversity of will ;
TO MY YOUNG COUNTRYWOMEN. 71
For sure some foe to innocence beguiles,
When harmless doves attempt the serpent's wiles.
True, Fashion's laws her ready votaries screen,
And ogling beaux exclaim, Oh Goddess ! Queen !
But, vile the praise and adoration sought
By arts degrading to each nobler thought !
A base-born love those notes of praise inspires ;
That incense rises from unhallowed fires.
If deaf while shame and purity complain,
If reason's gentle voice be rais'd in vain,
Learn from the scented nosegay in your hand
The charms that can alone true love command.
The flaunting tulip you reject with scorn,
Though ting'd with all the hues that deck the morn ;
And, careful, search for humbler flowers which bloom
Beneath the grass, yet scatter sweet perfume.
The buds which only half their sweets disclose
You fondly seize, but leave the full-blown rose.
Humble the praise, and trifling the regard
Which ever wait upon the moral bard !
72 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
But there remains a hateful truth unsung
Which burns the cheek, and faulters on the tongue ;
And which, if modesty still hover round,
Each virgin breast with sorrow must confound.
" Those graceful modes," thus say your flattering beaux,
" From ancient times and tastes refin'd arose."
Disgrace not thus the names of Greece and Rome,
Their birth-place must be sought for nearer home.
Shame ! shame ! heart-rending thought ! deep-sinking
That Britain's and Columbia's Fair should deign,
Nay strive, their native beauties to enhance
By arts first taught by prostitutes of France ! *
O Modesty and Innocence ! sweet pair
Of dove-like sisters ! still attend our Fair.
Teach them, without your heav'nly influence,
How vain the charms of beauty or of sense.
* Dr. Barrow in his Treatise on Education, vol. 2, p. 305, says : " Our young
women are probably little aware that the fashionable nakedness of the pre
sent day was first adopted in this country, in imitation of the revolutionary
prostitutes of France."
TO MY YOUNG COUNTRYWOMEN. 73
Invest them with your radiance mild, yet bright ;
And give their sparkling eyes a softer light.
Quick-mantling dimples on their cheeks bestow ;
And teach them with a purer red to glow ;
Let winning smiles too round those dimples gleam,
Like moon-beams on the ruffled stream.
And if resentment on the Muse attend
From those she loves, and truly would befriend,
Tell them, that cruel and unjust their ire ;
That she would warm their hearts with holy fire ;
And to the charms that soon must pass away
Would add those mental beauties which shall ne'er
THE MISCHIEVOUS MUSE.
TRANSLATED FROM THE ITALIAN OF SIONOR DA PONTE WRITTEN BY
HIM TO BE RECITED AT ONE OF HIS CONVERSAZIONI, WHICH
WERE ATTENDED BY HIS PUPILS.
BRIGHT God of harmony, whose voice
Inspires the tuneful Nine,
Oh, grant me now thy golden lyre ;
And teach a strain like thine !
And come, sweet Heliconian Maids,
With mine your notes to blend :
The gay Terpsichore* alone
I ask not to descend.
* The Muse who presides over dancing.
THE MISCHIEVOUS MUSE. 75
To her I've sworn eternal hate ;
My soul indignant views
The wrongs by her to Pallas done,
And every sister Muse.
Deep shrouded in her gloomy clouds,
Black Night of her complains,
That many a dream within its grot
An idler now remains.
Enamour'd of the airy skill
This frolic Muse displays
When call'd by fashion's friendly voice
To guide the sportive maze,
A thousand nymphs of loveliest bloom,
Fair Hebe's joy and pride,
Reject me from their blithsome hearts,
And all my pangs deride.
What aspirations from this breast
Their charms have caus'd to rise !
76 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
But, ah! the winds dispers'd each pray'r
Before it reach'd the skies.
The lyre Apollo kindly gave
I find avail me naught ;
Each tawny scraper's notes surpass
The strains by Phoebus taught.
How oft my swelling voice in vain
Has pour'd th' unheeded song,
While gay gavotte or dizzy waltz
CalPd off the ready throng.
In vain I've bid each thoughtless nymph
Consult her mirror true ;
And, ere too late, the dire effects
Of ceaseless balls to view.
In vain I've mark'd the languid beam,
That lights her sleepless eye,
And loudly mourn'd the faded cheek,
Where new blown roses die.
THE MISCHIEVOUS MUSE.
In vain I've tried these various arts,
And bid the numbers flow ;
I've learnt, 'tis folly to resist
A fiddler's magic bow.
Would that Apollo made thee leave
The pure Castalian choir ;
Or bound thee with a golden string
From off thy useless lyre !
Learn, bold intruder, to the feet
Thy empire is confm'd ;
Leave, then, some more exalted power
To sway the human mind.
But whither is my ardent soul
In fury wrapt away ?
Pardon, ye fair, who court this Muse,
And love her frolick sway.
Already from the nymphs I hear
The low-voic'd murmurs rise ;
I see the frowns that shade their brows
The lightning of their eyes,
And looks, that thousand dire alarms
Within my breast create ;
Lest I, like Orpheus, should be torn,
Or meet Absyrtus' fate.
Ah, smooth those brows so fiercely knit !
Fair vot'ries of the dance ;
And let a beaming smile of peace
Adorn each lovely glance.
Now let those fallen cheeks, so pale,
Resume their native red ;
No more let peace and joy be chas'd
By words in frolick said.
And hark, your willing ears may catch
The distant prelude's sound ;
I see the Goddess you adore descend,
To lead the festive round.
THE MISCHIEVOUS MUSE. 79
Now, from your seats, all spring alert,
'Twere folly to delay,
In well-assorted pairs unite,
And nimbly trip away.
WRITTEN AFTER A SNOW-STORM.
COME children dear, and look around ;
Behold how soft and light
The silent snow has clad the ground
In robes of purest white.
The trees seem deck'd by fairy hand,
Nor need their native green ;
And every breeze appears to stand,
All hush'd, to view the scene.
WRITTEN AFTER A SNOW-STORM.
You wonder how the snows were made
That dance upon the air,
As if from purer worlds they stray'd,
So lightly and so fair.
Perhaps they are the summer flowers
In northern stars that bloom,
Wafted away from icy bowers
To cheer our winter's gloom.
Perhaps they're feathers of a race
Of birds that live away,
In some cold dreary wintry place,
Far from the sun's warm ray.
And clouds, perhaps, are downy beds
On which the winds repose ;
Who, when they rouse their slumb'ring heads,
Shake down the feath'ry snows.
But see, my darlings, while we stay
And gaze with fond delight,
The fairy scene soon fades away,
And mocks our raptur'd sight.
And let this fleeting vision teach
A truth you soon must know
That all the joys we here can reach
Are transient as the snow.
ADDRESSED TO THE YOUNG LADIES WHO ATTENDED MR. CHILTON S
LECTURES IN NATURAL PHILOSOPHY, ANNO 1804-5.
THE beasts who roam o'er Libya's desert plain
Have gentler hearts than men who dare maintain
That woman, lovely woman, hath no soul.
They too seem drench'd in Circe's pois'nous bowl
Who grant, the Fair may have a soul to save,
But deem each female born an abject slave.
Give me a maiden of unfetter'd mind,
By thought and knowledge strengthen 'd and refin'd !
84 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
A gift like this more precious would I hold
Than India's gems, or Afric's purest gold.
Ye maids, whose vows to science are address' d,
If thus your minds be fashion'd, thus impress'd,
With joy your course pursue ; nor heed, the while,
Envy's malignant grin, nor Folly's smile.
Trace Nature's laws ; explore the starry maze ;
Learn why the lightnings flash, the meteors blaze.
From earth to heav'n your view, inquiring, dart ;
And see how order reigns in every part.
'Tis sweet, 'tis wholesome to frequent this school
Where all is beauty and unerring rule.
But strain'd research becomes not well the fair ;
Deep thought imparts a melancholy air ;
The sparkling eye grows dim, the roses fade,
When long obscur'd beneath a studious shade.
Suffice it for a tender nymph to stray
Where strength and industry have clear'd the way ;
To cull the fruits and flowers which bless the toil
Endur'd by Newton, Verulam and Boyle.
Yet all possess not senses to enjoy
These flowers so fair, these fruits which never cloy.
There runs through all things which our powers can
A golden thread which links the most remote.
There is a kindred feature to be trac'd
In things most opposite, most widely plac'd.
In matter, thus, resemblance may be found
To soaring mind, whose movements own no bound.
For, as a fluid vainly strives to save
A heavier mass from sinking in its wave,
So, in the mind made up of trifles light,
All weighty truths, o'erwhelm'd sink out of sight !
A while, perchance, it may endure to feel
A sober thought's dread weight, as polish'd steel,
Dropp'd gently on the water's face, seems loth
To sink ; but 'tis repulsion holds them both.
Fair science, how thy modest cheeks would glow,
If dragg'd to view in fashion's puppet-show !
Midst fops and feathers, sighs and painted cheeks,
Soft maiden blushes, and strange maiden freaks ;
Midst sickening pleasures, wearisome delights,
Days doom'd to listlessness, and sleepless nights.
Ill would'st thou fare amidst this gaudy train,
Where all is treach'rous, transitory, vain !
No, no, the fair who pant for joys like these
Not wisdom's richest stores of wealth could please.
Let Heaven and Earth, for them, be rul'd by chance
No laws they heed but those which rule the dance.
Their eyes, fast fix'd on earth, ne'er love to roam
O'er all the splendor of the starry dome,
For them no stars e'er shone, since time began,
With half the glories of a spangled fan.
To you, ye Nymphs, inspirers of my song,
No features here portrayed, I trust, belong.
But should I see a girl at knowledge aim
Because philosophy's a handsome name ;
Or who would learn because the fashion's so,
And beckon science as she would a beau,
This truth the trifler from my lips should know,
" When Nature shall forget her 'stablish'd laws,
And chance take place of an omniscient cause ;
MR. CHILTON'S LECTURES. 87
When every creature some strange powers shall know,
That swims in air, or treads the earth below ;
When bees, forgetful of their wonted skill,
Shall idly flaunt, while butterflies distill
The liquid sweets, and build the curious cell,
Then may true wisdom grace a fluttering Belle.
ON SEEING MY NAME WRITTEN BY A YOUNG LADY IN THE SAND OF
THIS name here drawn by Flora's hand
Portrays, alas ! her mind :
The beating surf and yielding sand
Soon leave no trace behind.
But Flora's name shall still abide
In many a bosom trac'd,
Not e'en by time's destroying tide
Nor fortune's storms effac'd.
COW r FER Er
ON COWPER THE POET, WRITTEN AFTER READING THE LIFE OF HIM
SWEET melancholy Bard ! whose piercing thought
Found humblest themes with pure instruction fraught ;
How hard for mortal sight to trace the ways
Of Heav'n throughout thy life's mysterious maze !
Why was it order'd that thy gentle mind,
Which fancy fiVd and piety refin'd,
Should in this guilty world be forc'd to dwell,
Like some base culprit in his gloomy cell,
90 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
Rous'd from its due repose by feverish dreams,
By goblin forms, by din of fancied screams ?
Why was that fertile genius waste and chill'd ?
By wintry blasts its opening blossoms kill'd ?
A soil where Yemen's spicy buds might blow,
And Persia's rose a purer fragrance know !
Why bloom'd so late those sweet poetic flowers,
Bless'd by no summer suns, no vernal showers,
Which in the autumn of thy days were rear'd
By friendship's dew, by fickle zephyrs cheer'd ?
I hear a distant Seraph bid me " Hold,
Nor tempt high Heav'n by such inquiries bold.
Weak-sighted mortal ! canst thou not discern
What from unaided reason thou might'st learn ?
Had fortune's sunbeams cheer'd his early days,
Amidst the soft favonian breath of praise,
Those fruitful virtues which sprang up so fair,
Those blossoms breathing odors on the air,
By weeds of pride and vanity o'ergrown,
Unheeded might have bloom'd, and died unknown.
LINES ON COWPER. 91
Presumptuous mortal 'twould become thee well
On this thy fellow mortal's life to dwell ;
For in his breast, when rack'd by fiercest woes,
To question Heav'n, no daring thought e'er rose.
His actions vice and folly view with shame ;
His precepts foul-mouth'd envy dares not blame ;
His well-lov'd image still calls many a tear ;
His cherish'd name all ages shall revere."
SUGGESTED BY GOLDSMITH'S STANZAS WHICH BEGIN, " SAY CRUEL
IRIS, PRETTY RAKE."
THY charms, Petrosa, which inspire
Unnumber'd swains to chant thy praise,
Bid me too join the tuneful choir,
My faint and timorous voice to raise.
And though more lofty songs invite,
Regard for once, an humble swain :
The warbling thrush can oft delight
More than the skylark's louder strain.
TO PETROSA. 93
Thy heavenly form, thy virtues too,
In notes of praise ascend the skies.
To opening charms, that strike the view,
Unceasing aspirations rise.
But midst these charms, by all confess'd,
One fault thy hopeless swains declare ;
A heart there dwells within that breast,
Which knows no love, which heeds no prayer.
Despondent sighs, and notes of pain
Delight, they say, Petrosa's ear :
To sue for pity, were as vain
As from the rocks to ask a tear.
Oh senseless throng ! that callous breast
Proclaims her nature's favor'd child :
While others pine, with love oppress'd,
Her thoughts are free, her slumbers mild.
And all that softness which gives grace
And honor to the female heart,
94 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
Though distant from its wonted place,
She harbors in a nobler part ;
For, though that heart to every sound
Which would compassion move be dull,
The softness which should there be found
Kind Nature granted to her skull.
TRANSLATION OF METASTASIO'S ODE TO NICE
THE NAME ELLEN BEING SUBSTITUTED FOR NICE.
THANKS ! Ellen, to thy treach'rous wiles !
Once more, the air I freely draw :
Thanks to the Gods ! who, pitying, saw
A wretched captive's pain.
And 'tis not fancy that beguiles
With fleeting dreams my tranquil heart ;
Unfetter'd, now, I lightly start,
Indignant, from thy chain.
No longer glows my wonted flame.
I've found, so sure, the rest I sought,
That love can find no angry thought
Where hidden he may dwell.
No more, at mention of thy name,
I feel the burning blushes rise.
Now, when I meet thy brilliant eyes,
No throbs my bosom swell.
In nightly dreams that round me play
No more thy features I discern.
When morn arrives, no more return
My earliest thoughts to thee.
From thee afar full oft I stray ;
Nor of thy absence e'er complain
To thee return'd, I still remain
From all emotion free.
No more, while musing on thy charms,
In tender ecstacy I melt.
Not all the wrongs this heart has felt
One vengeful thought can raise.
ODE TO NICE.
No more I feel those fond alarms
That thrill'd me when my love drew near
My rival's self, unmov'd, I hear
Exulting in thy praise.
Let cold disdain o'ershade thy Brow,
Or sweet complacency adorn ;
Indifferent, I behold thy scorn ;
Unmov'd, I see thee smile.
Lost is the wonted empire now
That once those lips, those eyes possess'd,
Which knew so well to rule this breast,
And every sense beguile.
If gathering clouds my mind oppress,
Or laughing joys my soul uplift ;
No longer are the joys thy gift ;
Nor dost thou cause the gloom.
The varied charms that Nature dress
Without thee, now, I fondly view ;
Nor can thy presence, now, renew
The dreary landscape's bloom.
Hence thou may'st know that I'm sincere ;
Thou still art brilliant to my sight,
But not with pure celestial light,
Unparagon'd on earth.
To stain thy charms, some spots appear
That once, ah ! let not truth offend,
Like mellowing shades, but seem'd to lend
Thy brilliancy more worth.
I blush this weakness to relate ;
But, when I snapp'd the pois'nous dart ;
Ah me ! such anguish rent my heart,
Methought I'd perish too.
But who dare call the pangs too great,
That free from servitude the breast ;
That lift a gen'rous soul oppres'd,
And all its strength renew ?
Yon bird that in the treach'rous lime
His careless pinion lately dipt,
Of many a downy plume though stript,
Doth freedom still enjoy :
ODE TO NICE.
But soon his newgrown wing, sublime,
Its boldest flight again shall dare ;
Well taught to shun the specious snare
That lures but to destroy.
These words I know thou'lt not believe,
That now disclaim thy wonted sway ;
These frequent boasts, I hear thee say,
My thraldom but declare.
But, Ellen, didst thou ne'er perceive
That mortals taste no joy more sweet,
Than former perils to repeat
And muse on former care ?
Thus, all the fury of the fight
The war-worn vet'ran loves to tell ;
And, while proud thoughts his bosom swell,
Gives all his scars to view.
The slave restor'd to freedom's light
Tells o'er and o'er a captive's woe ;
And, inly joy'd, he loves to show
The galling chain he drew.
In truth, I care not if I seem
Sincere or guileful to thine eye ;
Mere selfishness to gratify
Is now my sole desire.
If, when I chance to be thy theme,
Thy bosom still remain at ease,
If what I speak offend or please,
I care not to inquire.
I from a false inconstant go,
And take a heart once truly thine ;
Which should rejoice, or which repine,
'Tis not my part to say.
But, Ellen ne'er again shall know
A love like mine so fond, so true ;
While false dissemblers rise to view,
The growth of every day.
WRITTEN TO ITALIAN MUSIC.
SWEET Maid, could wealth or power
Thy heart to love incline,
I would not bless the hour,
The hour that calls thee mine.
Ah ! no, beneath the Heaven
Blooms not so fair a flower
As love that's freely given.
Dear youth, have not these eyes,
To thine so oft returning,
Ah ! say, have not these tell-tale sighs,
These cheeks with blushes burning,
My every thought bespoken ?
Do these denote disguise ?
Do these false love betoken ?
Oh ! bliss, all bliss transcending,
When souls congenial blending,
The sacred flame inspire
Of love's etherial fire.
Such love, from change secure,
For ever shall endure.
True love like this, of heavenly birth,
Not here confin'd to mortal earth,
Shall to immortal Heaven aspire.
OLD D OBBIN.
OH MUSE ! I feel my genius rise
On soaring pinions to the skies.
Whom shall I sing ? The Muse replies
Come then, sweet Goddess, come, I pray,
Assist me with responsive lay,
To all I sing you need but say
Who, in this world of varying ill,
Keeps on his even tenor still,
Nor fails his duty to fulfil ?
104 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
Who, while with passions men are blind,
Ne'er lets impatience stir his mind,
But jogs on steady, slow and kind ?
Who, ne'er for taunt nor scoff will budge,
But goes along with easy trudge,
As grave and solemn as a judge ?
Who like a Stoick, scorns disgrace,
Nor e'er exults in pride of place,
But does each task with equal grace ?
Who then, celestial Muse, may claim
The high reward of spotless fame,
The glory of a deathless name ?
ADDRESSED TO A LADY, AS AN APOLOGY FOR NOT ACCEPTING HER
INVITATION tO A BALL. WRITTEN MANY
FULL well I know what direful wrath impends,
From Fashion's gay and numerous host of friends,
O'er all who blindly list not in her cause,
Nor swear eternal fealty to her laws.
I know with what despotic sway she rules
O'er old and young, o'er wise as well as fools ;
In what imperious tones she bids the throng
Obey her word, though Heav'n pronounce it wrong.
106 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
Yet, though my crimes against this power so high
Be numberless, and oft of deepest dye,
Leave I entreat to extenuate my blame :
A right which guiltiest criminals may claim ;
E'en they who fly not at a Lady's call,
And dare withstand the attraction of a ball.
Of magic zones and rings you oft have heard,
By faries on their favorites conferred,
Which pinch'd the wearers sore, or made them bleed,
Whene'er they went astray in thought or deed.
Nor think these stories false because they're old,
But true as this which soon I will unfold.
Sweet sleep had shed its mists around my eyes,
And fancy's motley forms began to rise,
When, 'mid these fleeting phantoms of the night,
A vision stood distinct before my sight.
Though far below the human size it seem'd
A dazzling brightness from its visage beam'd.
My airy dreams it seem'd to chase away,
And thus in sweetest accents deign'd to say :
AN APOLOGY. 107
" Hail, Youth ! In me behold a friendly power,
Thy guard in every place, at every hour,
Who thus appear expos'd to mortal view,
Clearly to mark the course you should pursue.
To me 'tis giv'n your virtue to secure
From custom's force and pleasure's dangerous lure.
I watch the motions of your youthful mind,
Rejoicing when to virtue 'tis inclin'd ;
But when a growing folly is descried,
To root it out, no art I leave untried.
Those drugs I mix in pleasure's luscious bowl
Which pain the body to preserve the soul.
That listlessness, those qualms, those aches I send
Which dissipation's giddy round attend.
Nor let these warnings, by your Guardian giv'n,
By winning pleasure from your thoughts be driv'n.
For if, regardless of my friendly voice,
In Fashion's gaudy scenes your heart rejoice,
Dire punishments shall fall upon your head :
Disgust, and fretfulness, and secret dread.
Unmeaning forms shall swim before your eyes,
Wild as the clouds which float in vernal skies.
108 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
But if true wisdom all your thoughts employ,
I promise lasting peace and health and joy.
A mind untouch'd by malice or by spleen
Shall make your slumbers light, your thoughts serene ;
And through the ills which mortals must betide
I still will be your counsellor and guide."
So spoke the friendly power ; then, waving light
His azure pinions, vanish J d from my sight.
Such is the guardian Genius, ever near,
Whose love I strive to gain, whose wrath I fear.
But, when his favoring smiles I would secure,
Complaining friendship's frown I oft endure ;
And now, for open breach of Fashion's laws,
A criminal, am forc'd to plead my cause.
Such is my lot ; and though I guilty prove,
Compassion sure my Judge's breast will move.
Not pardon for my fault I hope to find ;
But humbly pray, you'll change to one more kind
The threaten'd sentence, cruel as 'tis hard,
To lose forever your benign regard.
ANSWEE, TO THE PRECEDING,
BY MR. WM. BARD.
SINCE you are vexed, dear Clem at night,
By some uncourtly angry spright,
Who would thy joys restrain :
I now this invitation send,
That previous dreams may you defend
From anguish, grief and pain.
To keep from all, the smallest treats,