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A FAMILIAR EPISTLE,
TO C. W. BAMPFYLDE, GENTLEMAN
If e’r my Muse indulg’d her sportive theme
On Cam’s green margin, or on Avon’s stream,
To thee, dear Bamfylde, gratefully she pays
The friendly tribute of her jocund lays.
Candour with polish’d arts ’tis thine to blend, 5
’Tis mine to love and praise them in my friend.
O’er both our souls a kindred star presides,
To studies, sports, and joys, congenial guides.
Thy glowing portraits breathe Promethean fire,
With wanton heed I strick the frolic lyre. 10
Nor ’midst its merry notes does Polyhymny
Refuse to grace the corner of my chimney.
And as with lingering steps age steals along,
She cheers the unwelcome prospect with a song.
Long may her sister Muse inspire thy soul, 15
Long may her powers thy pencils art controul,
Whose silent eloquence the lyre defies,
And speaks a vivid language to the eyes.
With equal ardours tho’ our vows were paid,
Still hast thou found the more complying maid, 20
And shewn where ladies favours are the prize
Much may depend on wit, but more on size.
How strong they fertile fancy’s power, how true
The mimic forms thy ready pencil drew,
Ye roofs proclaim, whose patrons ten times seven 25
Priz’d and rever’d, as delegates of heaven,
High priests of pleasure’s mystic rites repair
To club for Baie’s weal their pious care. (Bath’s
Ye who to cards and fiddles rear’d the shrine
Where — Britain’s boast! — her studious sons combine 30
To ply their nightly talk, here, ’midst the throng
Have we too dragg’d the tardy hours along,
And, gazing, wonder’d where the wights were found
Which Bath’s kind star had drawn from countries round,
While by congenial zeal for trifles sway’d, 35
Both old and young the fiddle’s call obey’d.
Nor did the gay, grotesque, fantastic train
Invite thy pencil’s mimic art in vain.
And lo, advancing far before the rest,
The travell’d beau exulting rears his crest, 40
With jacket coat, whose clipt skirts scarce conceal
The silken shade that flutters round his tail.
An ill-starr’d youth, by adverse fate design’d
To feel the jarring conflicts of the mind.
For when in pas de rigadon he itches 45
To shake his heels and shew his silken britches,
Scar’d at his near approach, the dragon aunt
Retreats, and eyes the wicked sight askaunt, (askance
While Miss, with downcast leer behind her fan,
Blushes and giggles at the naughty man. 50
Cast now thine eye to where the corded round
Reserves for tripping feet the hallow’d ground.
There, in the pride of steps unknown before,
Yon elvish stripling bounds along the floor,
Seating and straining each distorted nerve, 55
His shoulders sunk, his arms in sweeping curve,
Shaking one leg in air, meanwhile the other
In artful balance wisely props his brother.
His tail too bobs upon his powder’d poll,
As if obedient to the sound’s controul, 60
A tail, which to his locks tho’ new ally’d,
Was once (as fame reports) a stallion’s pride.
A thievish Frenchman view’d with longing eyes
The tempting spoil, and soon the massive prize
Deck’d and oppress’d his pigmy patron’s back, 65
Which bow’d unequal to the weighty pack.
But when the beauteous nymphs my verse demand,
Or gentler touches of thy mimic hand,
The Muse, aghast! declines the mighty song,
And, tho’ a lady, trusts not to her tongue. 70
For should a bard, tho’ Phoebus lent him brains,
To female caprice dedicate his strains,
To ever-changing forms which sight deceive,
Like motes quick glancing on the beam of eve,
To robes and plumes of all the tints that flow 75
On Flora’s banks, or Iris’ painted bow,
Alas! the youth like Icarus must sink
And mourn his rashness in a sea of ink.
Mark but their cloud-capt heads, with steeples vying,
The base restraints of coach and chair defying, 80
With painted plumes all waving as they go,
Nodding dismay to little folks below.
Mark, too, to make the shuttle-cock complete,
The cork assumes a more ignoble seat.
What then should keep them from their native skies 80
In flights beyond the ken of mortal eyes?
What but for us (all angels as they are)
Some friendly powers conspire to keep them here.
Pads, pins, pomatum, club their weight together,
And counterpoise the flight of cork and feather. 90
Here too (lest all those friendly aids should fail
To check the aspiring pride of head and tail)
Clowns with their cows and calves all seem to stare
And wonder how the devil they got there.
The wife’s and virgin’s joy, the matron’s pride, 95
Fields, trees, and cottages triumphant ride,
Twin’d in the greasy ringlets of the hear,
Medusa too might view her head-dress there.
Great Cybele her vanquish’d crest deplore,
And bost her of her twor-capt head no more. 100
Go then, blest youth, and swell love’s votive train.
Go, heave the gentle sigh, nor sigh in vain,
And seek with hasty steps that happier shore,
Where Hymen mourns his injur’d rites no more,
But sees on altars pure the flame arise, 105
Which laws unjust controul secure defies,
Leave fear and thought behind. Fly quick, begone,
Nor waith the coming of tomorrow’s sun.
Nor, tho’ the angry fire indigant views
The deed, tho’ still his griping hands refuse 110
The wecome pelf, do you for sordid gain
With cold neglect the genial bed profane,
But leave to one of Israel’s bearded race
The gloomy scowling of the Shylock face,
Who damns with sullen leer the smoaking board 115
With swinish hams and bloody puddings stor’d,
But still in petto keeps his bitterest curse
For loss of cent per cent and empty purse.
Thus when at Jonathan’s the lated light
Of mourn to reckoning calls the losing wight 120
(A morn more dreaded than that last great day
When bulls and bears must all their reck’ning pay),
With one emphatic curse to hell he sends
Scrips, consols, bonds, Jews, Christians, foes and friends.
But thou, who spurn’st all groveling thoughts, whose soul 125
The sordid lust of gain could ne’er controul,
Bid to the gods thy grateful incense rise,
E’er yet the honey-moon its light denies,
Conscious that vows of gratitude delay’d
For bounteous heaven’s behests are seldom paid, 130
And tho’ to deary’s share light coffers fall,
Look at her head and thou’lt forget it all.
A tow’ring crest, of which the cheering sight
Will make e’en Hymen’s dreaded shackles light.
For should the fair one, plung’d in ton and taste, 135
Thy guineas lavish and thine acres waste,
Should chariots, horses, pictures, jewels, all
Before great Pam, loo’s mighty tyrant, fall, (a card game
Nor though with sighs thy sad mischance deplore.
One pawn, one glorious pawn shall all restore, 140
And plenty from her lavish horn shall shed
Once more her gold show’rs upon thine head.
More would my Muse, but prudence checks her song,
And hints the dangers of too bold a tongue.
Nor when my merry strains your hours beguile 145
Do you, chaste fair ones, deem your poet’s smile
A cynic sneer. And should some wight transpose
To English rhymes my lays for belles and beaus,
Nor ye of venom-pointed flights accuse
The random arrows of my careless Muse, 150
But still with generous care my strains defend,
And know your poet for your guide and friend.
Oft have I seen, and sorely griev’d to see,
The raw, gay, giddy lass too soon set free,
Proud that (e’er yet she counts her sixteenth year) 155
Mamma no more controuls her wild career.
To ruin’s brink with eager haste she strays,
No parent’s hand her trembling feet to raise.
There lurk a race her footsteps to betray,
And seize with savage joy their guileless prey. 160
For them nor love nor Hymen lights his fires,
Foes to connubial joys and chaste desires,
Or when the generous pangs of love they feign,
’Tis but to mock the wretched damsel’s pain.
To beauty callous, gold alone controuls 165
The selfish bias of their sordid souls,
Or if by chance, caprice or Mammon led,
With transports feign’d one press the genial bed,
He chides the tardy hours, and swears that Fate
Has balk’d his hopes with an immortal mate. 170
How shall the Muse her honest rage restrain,
When tottering age steps forth and joins the train?
A worn-out beau who still the call obeys,
Where youth and love their festive standards raise,
As ’mid the feather’d tribe the bird of night 175
Infests with omens sad their airy flight,
By long experience taught the wily art,
To read the passions and unfold the heart.
An ever-placid, ever-simpering face,
A tongue which blunt, harsh truths did ne’er disgrace. 180
Disdaining vulgar tales, a tide he pours
Of Lords, castratos, fidlers, pimps and whores,
Now fawning on a Peer with servile pride,
Now dangling, like her watch, at Chloe’s side.
Nor (farther yet should curious strangers pry) 185
Shall Johnny Weevil e’er his name deny.
For Johnny, like the worm (e’er suns disclose
The blushing beauties of the budding rose)
With blighting touch the infant flower destroys,
And robs the summer of its promised joys. 190
If bathing, tumblers, auctions, apes, or players,
New fidlers, Methodists, or dancing bears,
The learned dog, or what more wonderous sight
Bath yield (with monsters teeming) should invite (novelties
The Nymph abroad, lo Johnny cringing stands, 195
A tool obsequious for the maid’s commands.
But if by chance a dancing rage he feels,
And trusts, rash dotard, to his ears and heels,
On light fantastic toe the damsel tripping,
Thro’ many a mazy circle nimbly skipping, 200
Sees Johnny ever nerve and muscle strain
To trip with equal steps, and toil in vain.
In vain his hand he shakes, in vain he begs,
With earnest nods, some respite for his legs.
No rest he knows ’till, halting on the middle, 205
He damns to Hell pipe, tabor, flute and fiddle.
As by a mastiff when a hare is spy’d
Securely striking near a copse’s side,
His ears erect, the cur begins the chace,
Urging with eager rage his tardy pace, 210
Thrown out at length, he halts upon the plain,
And pants, and gasps, and foams, and barks in vain,
Thus panting, thus complaining, Johnny feels
How ill gay frolics suit with gouty heels.
Freed from the unequal contest of the dance, 215
He smirks and leers with many a gloating glance,
With looks complacent now he greets the fair,
And now his gentle mien and graceful air,
While many a threadbare jest, and many a tale,
With slander big, the virgin’s ears assail. 220
She with a smile his fulsome tongue repays,
And glibly swallows even Johnny’s praise,
Expos’d to view her swelling bosom’s pride,
Save what a net-work shade affects to hide.
Courting the glance of beaus with arms comprest, 225
She slyly swells the heaven of her breast,
Which heaves, as if the orbs indignant bore
The base confinement of her jupe au corps.,
Nor heeds the misses spite, nor dreads the lay
Which I might sing, nor what her aunt may say. 230
Two tyrant powers each female breast obeys,
The rage of fashion and the lust of praise.
Hence (like streamers which a top-mast bears)
Long dangling ribbands flutter round their ears.
Say then, is virgin innocence exprest 235
By heads in tawdry colours idly drest?
Quit these, ye nymphs, and let such marks describe
The wretched sisters of the wanton tribe,
Who, once to man’s delusive arts a prey,
Have learn’d in turn to ruin and betray. 240
Health’s crimson glow no more is theirs, no more
The sun-shine of the breast shall peace restore.
Their fates the Graces mourn, nor shall the Muse
The willing tribute of a tear refuse.
As when the wind, in eddies whirling round, 245
Lifts up light straws and feathers from the ground,
So pleasure’s whirlpools, balls, drums, routs and plays
Whisk the nymph round in such a giddy maze,
That nature sinks, disease consumes her frame,
And life’s dim lamp scarce yields a glimmering flame. 250
A feeble call to pleasure yet remains,
The languid blood slow creeping thro’ her veins.
Hysterics, faintings, head-achs, gasping breath,
And all the ghastly family of death
Their victim urge. Fly quick, the doctors call, 255
Full bottoms, bags, licentiates, quacks and all.
But see they come — sage sons of Paean hail!
In close array the stubborn foe assail.
on this side plant a battery of glysters,
Here gall his flank with cataplasms and blisters. 260
Force through his trenches with a strong cathartic,
And pour in vomits, till you make his heart ach.
Now draw your lancets, cut thro’ thick and thin,
Hack, slash the veins and scarify the skin.
Sing Io Paean — See, the foe is flying! 265
But, ah, see too the wretched maid is dying.
She droops her languid head and, strange to say,
By triumphs lost, to victories a prey.
As Tobt chas’d the devil by a stink, note
One hope remains e’er yet the damsel sink. 270
Try then this last resource, a charm prepare
Teeming with * stinks sublime, strong, rich and rare. * Mr Burke, in his
Of dung of peacocks take a pan-full,celebrated treatise, makes a stink
Of soot and hog-lice each a handful, to be one of the sources of the
The scrapings off a blister-plaster, 275 sublime.
Urine a quart, cum testic, castor,
With rotten cabbages assistance,
To give the charm a due consistence.
Ye too, whose * mottos thro’ the world proclaim * Opiferque per orbem
Your patron deity and healing fame, 280dicor.
To whom Apollo gave the two-fold skill
To trace the malady — and gild the pill,
First stir the hodge-podge, then with nods profound
Summon to sage debate the nurses round.
But that your speech be energetic, mark 285
Your words, like Delphic oracles, be dark,
English on Greek, with French on Latin grounded,
A jargon wild, confusion worse confounded.
Shameful to tell, the foe eludes the skill
Of all who gild the palm or gild the pill, 290
Nor ought avail, stinks, bolusses, or blisters,
Hard words, great wigs, warm draughts, or cooling glysters.
Her bloom, her health, her strength forever lost,
The ruling passion still maintains its post.
“Doctors, avaunt!” exclaims the nymph. “I’ll try 295
Once more my trembling legs, I dance or die.
Your drugs and cant no longer I’ll endure.
That caus’d my pain, from that I’ll seek my cure.
I feel my breast inspir’d, ’tis nature’s call,
Which bids me physic quit and try a ball.” 300
His task once more the friseur re-assumes, (hairdresser
Once more her head exults in nodding plumes.
When builders raise the pile, supports they place
In due degrees, the strongest at the base.
Ladies invert the rule, with them the top 305
Is always highest, with the weakest prop.
How have I seen, ’midst grease and powder thick,
Leeks, carrots, radishes and onions stick,
Burthens which even gard’ners wives would dread,
The nymph for pleasure bears upon her head. 310
On others shrubs and flowers, rang’d in order,
Present the picture of a garden border.
Perhaps (but oh, chaste shades of matrons, rise,
From sights impure as these protect our eyes)
Some nymph of ton, despising vulgar fame, 310
Will deck her head with what — I blush to name.
But these weighty matters do not suit my humble Muse, you may more properly exhibit them with your Zeuxis-like sketchpad and pen. I can attest this by the clever displays of your wit, these playthings of your handiwork, which you sent me and which I am amazed to receive. They seem to be breathing, and when I sit by myself and read over my artless poem, they seem to be serve as a friendly echo of my lines, which divert me with their wonderful art and excite me by their novelty. But I am no more inspired by the pleasure of your drawing, nor by the wit and skill of the artist or by his novelty, than I am by the consideration that they are the gift of a friend.
Accept this impression of your works, which timid little Hibbart has converted into copperplates, advertised himself by means of this printing. If he should follow in your wake with his Pygmy-like steps, introducing slight deviations from the originals, and if any part of the illustration strikes you as weak and ill-represented, do not scorn his honest effort (such is the candor of your mind). For often the freely moving hand of the artist produces lines such as no engraver’s art can attain, and which do not have the same charm and spirit when they are reproduced. If he is scarcely the equal of Lysippus of ancient fame, or his modern descendant Ryland, no whit his inferior, yet in the judgment of our Apelles (who by his manners and his wit makes the both of us his friends), he is no dab hand at the graphic arts, and nobody has a better reputation for honestly and cheerfully putting another man’s felicities on display, or being more modest about his own.
So come now, don’t fail to take pleasure in the vision of a silly and brain-stricken old fellow, such as is offered by ambitious, talkative, eccentric, simple-minded, uxorious Inkle. There’s no way in which he fails to indulge the whim of his darling daughter. And (ignoring his own social position) whatever he does he imagines to be fine, loveable, and done in an aristocratic manner. While his daughter eagerly takes his wig, once the ornament of his paternal brow and his venerable head-covering (as long as the Fates permitted), which was gray, august, great, curled, nor unacquainted with the comb, but long since discarded and left as food for the moths and the mice, give it a good tidying-up, and adds this remarkable display to her hair, and triumphantly tops the whole thing off with the tail of a stolen rooster, our old boy admires her subtle, fertile genius, and points out every detail to his silly wife.
See how she’s in a rush, dressed only in her shift, and properly placing the spoils of the unhappy bird (which the serving-girl is holding by a leg as it complains about its denuded arse). See how her head-dress teeters like a rickety chair. Margery is arranging this victory-monument, she can scarcely believe how beautiful she is!
Meanwhile her father is itching to go. “What’s keeping us?” he asks. “Will nobody hurry and fetch the litter. Go, call for it. Now the whole assembly as collected, the dancing and feasting is prepared.” And see, here’s the litter. But not without divine intervention can Margery slip in her arse or thrust in her head while keeping her coiffure intact and without damaging all those feathers. “Remove the cushion. Hah! Now she can fit in. Now she can sit in good order.” But as far as I’m concerned it is not a pretty thing, or a proper and decent one, for her bottom to sit on the bare wood and pay the forfeit for her foolish head. And yet astonished Inkle approvingly gawks at this spectacle and the litter-man’s hard face breaks out in a grin.
What mind can remain unmoved by the sight of this unfortunate old fellow? See how he torments himself, while his spendthrift daughter is born on her chair and sports her burdensome adornment. Alas, her unlucky father supports himself on two sticks as he painfully makes his way on foot!
Feast your eyes and minds on this, you who are possessed with a perverse concern for cherishing your daughters: being advised for the better, beware, you fathers. See the harsh halter you impose on yourselves. Alas, what the sole hope of your old age will do, what she will not venture to promise her eager hopes, while increasing the sufferings of your weary life. Learn how the unbridled impulses of youth, unmanageable by any force or art, the precocious wilfulness nourished in hearts indulged since infancy, grow stronger with age.
And you who are fired by ambition (so often contrary to your station in life), with a vain love of praise, have a look at this elderly dotard as he strives to be deemed an equal in an assembly of polite society and a bevy of aristos, although the gods are dead set against this and his sluggish gout holds him back. How the man threatens some vast ambition, speaking in his lengthy roundabout way, boasting how many tailors’ votes he can count on, how many of Henry Potwobbler’s elderly friends. In the end he produces a magnificent nothing, like that birth-giving mountain, and makes promises to the Lord (a man who cares no more for words than the Marpesian Crags do for sailors) in cautious false whisper. He, in the manner of a courtier, he often cocks his eye and expresses admiration and affection for a fellow, while loathing him at the same time. Ugh! Look at the old man’s fat face, how he thrusts forth his head with a foolish grin, hunches his shoulders, and pokes forward his coarse nose!
Two lucky men! Each encourages the other. Gullible Inkle rejoices with the hope of being rewarded for delivering votes, while Periwinkle plays him false. What cannot favor achieve, all by itself? But would that this kind of favor were far removed from English soil, and that the gods would bestow it on our enemy! May the rustic honesty of our forefathers return, nor let a British Peer ever give his son instruction in such things! Hail to you both, you bent-kneed friends! Hail to you both once more! Live on the artist’s page, live in my trifling verses (this is your favor to me).
My Muse provides you with these things, or something else, in her playful verses. You suddenly call for your sketch-pad, and while we are drinking or whiling away an hour, like a magician, with your paper and flying pen you give me the ability to see things which it cost me ten months’ of hard work and sweat to hatch from my brain.
I am speaking of trifles. Whether you are touched by the image of a new sun, when first the light of day dresses dawn’s tears in silver, as it casts its ruddy fires with increasing brilliant, or the rosy glory of the sky and the fertile billows of colors, as it renews itself with its peaceful majesty, or the waters that glide under a starry heaven in the dead of night, or the ship-bearing sea, or the troubled appearance of a forest when Nature’s storm is howling and the astonished mountains are made ruddy by lightning, or a cool glade, or the Arcadian haunts along the streams of the Thone where you yourself live — whichever of these sights offer themselves to you for the painting, you capture them with your artful hand and the accurate glance of your eye, you notice everything with your assured skill and method, and set forth all things in their due and proper order. Your art always takes along Nature with itself, as the guide of its pencil and the partner of its labors.
Am I mistaken, or when I feed my eyes on the image of your excellent drawing (in which the girl, at her first assembly, bewails her denuded head, and cruel Mulciber consumes her flowers, feathers and hair in one and the same conflagration), is the image of its own volition trying to stretch out its limbs in the drawing, animated by Prometheus’ heat, and gradually come to life? Am I mistaken, or does the entire group (a tiny group of apparitions) seem to be enflamed by the Furies’ wrath and to be fiercely glowering in my direction, striving to hurl threats with their minute mouths and issue their wee little complaints?
But hark! I hear a voice indignant say,
“From Granta’s shores what Demon bade thee stray
(Boetian shores! which skirt thy native bogs,
Where once thou sung’st in unison with frogs) 315
To trespass on the Graces blest abodes
With splayfoot satires, or more splayfoot odes?
What god, what devil could thy breast inspire
To re-assume thy long-forsaken lyre.
The Latin lyre, which many a year had hung 320
A mute, forlorn, neglected and unstrung?
Was it that, shelter’d in a tongue unknown,
Thy Muse her shafts securely might have thrown,
To wound with impious hand the sacred fame
Of youths and maids who sport on Avon’s stream? 325
Are Avon’s banks, for which bright Venus leaves
The beauteous isles which crown the Aegean waves,
Fit themes for jests profane? Say has not fate
To thee assign’d an undeserv’d retreat,
Where the proud Crescent mocks the dog-star’s ray, 330
Cool as a grot amid the blaze of day,
And while the wintry blasts the skies deform,
In solid strength secure, defies the storm?
There, tho no cabbage garden greet thine eye,
Nor onion’s savory roots their sweets supply, 335
Yet do thy grateful nostrils oft exhale
A transient vapour from the ambrosial gale,
Wafted from heads which breathe a thousand odours
From flowers, pomatums, shrubs and scented powders,
Heads worthy of a nobler poet’s song, 340
Nor furnish’d less with feather than with tongue.
“When erst in times of early Greece, ’tis said,
Amphion’s hands the trembling chords obey’d,
Rocks, castles, columns, to the tune advancing,
Their gravity forgot and fell to dancing. 345
Here should Amphion try the moving sound,
They columns, Crescent, still would keep their ground,
Their rustic bases firm in massive pride
Had Sampson’s or an earthquake’s force defy’d.
But what that magic lyre or Sampson’s arm 350
In vain had try’d, the still more magic charm
Of lawyer’s tongues triumphantly had shewn:
The mass to move was theirs and theirs alone.
“But tho’ Sophia’s streams thy verse inspire, (wisdom’s
Or warmer draughts thy glowing fancy fire, 355
To Baia’s sons sublimer strains belong,
Whose virtues soar far far above thy song.
To Cecrops two deities decreed
Auspicious gifts, an olive and a steed,
Pledges that Athens’ envied state should rise 360
In arts and arms the darling of the skies.
Had he in happier days obey’d the hog
Which led King Bladud to the teeming bog,
There had he seen what joys life’s toils relieve
From eve to morn, from morn to dewy eve, 365
A never-cloying scene, plays, prayers, doctors,
Spruce Bishops, fighting Chancellors and Proctors.
Proud Athens’ boasts, the steed and love spring,
Had bow’d to Baiae’s springs and Bladad’s pig.
Ye bowers where Plato taught, ye banks whose streams 370
So oft inspir’d the Grecian poet’s dreams,
Deserted streams and mute, your pride is o’er,
Your honours all transfer’d to Avon’s shore.
’Tis here the young idea learns to shoot.
’Tis here that virtue takes her infant root, 375
With Spartan maxims rigidly severe,
The Stoic gives his midnight lectures here.
Sloth, luxury and pride these walls disclaim,
Vices unknown, or only known by name.
Nor (should the force of precepts nought avail) 380
Would goodly proofs of bright examples fail.
Illustrious sages hail! The boast is yours,
That learning still the amplest boons procures.
’Tis yours to fire the youthful breast by showing
How Fortune pours her blessings on the knowing. 385
Pallas for you assumes an earthly mien,
Auspicious guide! in form of diamond’s queen.
For you the magic cubes unlock the source
Of springs which shame Pactolus’ golden course.
“See you great bards at Phoebus’ altar nod, 390
They are his genuine sons, they feel the god.
Hark to their deep-ton’d song, with raptures swelling,
On virtue, glory, truth, and honour dwelling.
Nor hate, nor jealousy, nor venal praise
Pollute the tenour of their candid lays. 395
On Avon’s banks if e’er their steps have stray’d,
Oft has the stream its sleepy course delay’d,
And when the Naiads caught the soothing strain,
The poppy seem’d to rear its head in vain.
Unpluck’d by them the thorn of satire grows, 400
No fulsome spring of panegyric flows.
For them, which from its placid poison’d source
Winds in a gentle stream its baleful course.
“Hail blest retreats! which Cato might have lov’d,
Or Scipio’s philosophic soul approv’d. 405
Here, when the ag’d life’s dangerous shoals have past,
Secure in port no more they dread the blast,
But (while their evening ray steals gently on)
Cheer the sad prospect of the setting sun,
Not by the aid of ought which folly pours 410
With lavish hand from never-failing stores,
Not like rash boys by listing in a war,
When dancers jostle or when fidlers jarr,
But still regretting years in follies past,
To peace and virtue dedicate the last. 415
“Sick of the parson, and the parson’s wife,
And dull unvaried round of rural life,
The Squire and Madam bid adieu to all,
He home-spun pleasures of the manor-hall.
From humdrum evening chat, lo Bath invites 420
To social joys and rational delights.
As whim or pleasure leads they each incline,
He wastes the midnight lamp at hazard’s shrine,
Her joys extend to all that Gallia pours
In bounteous tide on Albion’s grateful shores. 425
Friseurs and confidantes her friendship share,
Expert to form the mind or dress the hair.
From these sage guides she learns, her polish’d mind
Was ne’er for dull domestic cares design’d.
That mean persuits might vulgar souls employ, 430
But she by heaven was form’d alone for joy.
Here then thine altars raise, here Hymen shed
Thy choicest blessings on the genial bed.
“Hail , genius of the springs! ’Tis thine the care
To guard and teach the inexperienc’d fair 435
At balls, routs, concerts, that the laws provide,
A decent matron still must grace her side.
To early rambles should her mind be prone,
The morning uncontrol’d remains her own,
Whether the sylvan Faun her presence greets, 440
Whether with flowing train she sweep the streets,
Whether ’midst youths and Amazonian bands
The prancing steed obeys her skilful hands.
While thus by generous custom unconfind’,
No checks she knows but whose which curb the mind. 445
“Hark! ’tis a female voice, ‘Forbear thy rhymes,
Rash bard,’ it cries, ‘and tremble for thy crimes.
Now hear the law—
Not having (as all wise men have) the fears
Of female tongues provok’d, before thine ears, 450
Against the statute has thy pen been scribbling,
Our foibles now, and now our feathers nibbling.
The court ordains, with tar and feathers smear’d,
Thine impious carcase in a cart be rear’d
And drag’d thro’ Baie’s streets, while lads and lasses 455
Shall scoff and hoot the wild-goose as he passes.
Banish’d by our decrees from Avon’s side,
Thy Muse forlorn shall weep o’er Lethe’s tide,
Perhaps like paper kite shall mount on high,
Training a tail of satires thro’ the sky, 460
A dire example to the croud below
Of female vengeance on a rhyming foe.’”
If thou, beloved friend, should’st see me stand
The bleeding victim of a vengeful band,
While maid and matron each thy bard assails 465
With cruel taunts and still more cruel nails,
In pity to my woes forbear to trace
With ill-tim’d pleasantry my mournful face,
But when thy poets scatter’d limbs shall glide
(A tragic spectacle!) down Avon’s tide, 470
Collect his sad remains, and (whilst his bier
Receives the tribute of thy friendly tear)
From vile translators vindicate his name,
And leave the rest to candour and to fame.