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"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 there?
"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,
Called for his arms and for his princely steed.
So swarmed the Sabine youth, and grasped 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.t
Oft as his patroness, who rules the night,
Hangs out her lamp in yon caerulean height,
His vow was (and he well performed his vow),
Armed at all points, with terror on his brow,
To judge the land, to purge atrocious crimes,
And quell the shapeless monsters of the times.
For cedars famed, fair Lebanon supplied
The well-poised lance that quivered at his side;
Truth armed it with a point so keen, so just,
No spell or charm was proof against the thrust.
He couched it firm upon his puissant thigh,
And darting through his helm an eagle's eye,
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 employed,
Of rights restored, variety enjoyed;
Of virtue too well fenced to fear a flaw;
Vice passing current by the stamp of law;
Large population on a liberal plan,
* When a knight was degraded, his spurs were chopped off.
t "Monthly Review " for October .
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 dismayed or scared,
Buckled his helm, and to his steed repaired,
Whose bridle, while he cropped 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.
"Oh, shame to knighthood !" his assailant cried;
"Oh, shame!" ten thousand echoing nymphs replied.
Placed with advantage at his listening ear,
She whispered still that he had nought to fear,
That he was cased in such enchanted steel,
So polished 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 exclaimed,
"The guiltiest still are ever least ashamed!
"But guard thee well, expect no feigned 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,
Rushed with a whirlwind's fury on the foe,
And, Phineas like, transfixed 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,
Shrieked at the sight, and, conscious, fled the place:
And Hymen, trimming his dim torch anew,
His snowy mantle o'er his shoulders threw;
He turned, and viewed it oft on every side,
And reddening with a just and generous pride,
Blessed the glad beams of that propitious day,
The spot he loathed so much for ever cleansed away. 1781.
What is there in the vale of life
Half so delightful as a Wife,
When friendship, love, and peace combine
To stamp the marriage-bond divine?
The stream of pure and genuine love
Derives its current from above;
And earth a second Eden shows,
Where'er the healing water flows:
But ah, if, from the dykes and drains
Of sensual nature's feverish veins,
Lust, like a lawless headstrong flood,
Impregnated with ooze and mud,
Descending fast on every side,
Once mingles with the sacred tide,
Farewell the soul-enlivening scene!
The banks that wore a smiling green,
With rank defilement overspread,
Bewail their flowery beauties dead.
The stream polluted, dark, and dull,
Diffused into a Stygian pool,
Through life's last melancholy years
Is fed with ever-flowing tears:Complaints supply the zephyr's part,
And sighs that heave a breaking heart. IN SEDITIONEM HORRENDAM,
CORRUPTELIS GALLICIS, UT FERTUR, LONDINI NUPER EXORTAM.
Perfida, crudelis, victa et lymphata furore,
Non armis, laurum Gallia fraude petit.
Venalem pretio plebem conducit, et urit
Undique privatas patriciasque domos.
Nequicquam conata sua, fcedissima sperat
Posse tamen nostra nos superare manu.
Gallia, vana struis! Precibus nunc utere! Vinces
Nam mites timidis supplicibusque sumus.
. False, cruel, disappointed, stung to the heart,
France quits the warrior's for the assassin's part,
To dirty hands a dirty bribe conveys,
Bids the low street and lofty palace blaze.
Her sons too weak to vanquish us alone,
She hires the worst and basest of our own.
Kneel, France! a suppliant conquers us with ease,
We always spare a coward on his knees.
Poor Vestris, grieved beyond all measure, To have incurred so much displeasure, Although a Frenchman, disconcerted, And though light-heeled, yet heavy-hearted, Begs humbly to inform his friends, Next first of April he intends To take a boat and row right down To Cuckold's-Point from Richmond town;And as he goes, alert and gay, Leap all the bridges in his way. The boat, borne downward with the tide, Shall catch him safe on t'other side. He humbly hopes by this expedient To prove himself their most obedient, (Which shall be always his endeavour,) And jump into the former favour.
ON THE HIGH PRICE OF FISH.
Fish too dear, None must be bought
For us that are here:No lobster on earth,
That ever I saw, To me would be worth
Sixpence a claw.
So, dear Madam, wait
Till fish can be got
At a reasonable rate,
Whether lobster or not.
Till the French and the Dutch
Have quitted the seas,
And then send as much
And as oft as you please.
TO MRS. NEWTON.
Sept. 16, 1781.
A NOBLE theme demands a noble verse;
In such I thank you for your fine oysters.
The barrel was magnificently large,
But, being sent to Olney at free charge,
Was not inserted in the driver's list,
And therefore overlooked, forgot, or missed;
For, when the messenger whom we despatched
Inquired for oysters, Hob his noddle scratched,
Denying that his waggon or his wain
Did any such commodity contain.
In consequence of which your welcome boon
Did not arrive till yesterday at noon;In consequence of which some chanced to die,
And some, though very sweet, were very dry.
Now Madam says, (and what she says must still
Deserve attention, say she what she will,)
That what we call the Diligence, be-case
It goes to London with a swifter pace,
Would better suit the carriage of your gift,
Returning downward with a pace as swift;And therefore recommends it with this aim—
To save at least three days,—the price the same;
For though it will not carry or convey
For less than twelve pence, send whate'er you may,
For oysters, bred upon the salt sea-shore,
Packed in a barrel, they will charge no more. News have I none that I can deign to write,
Save that it rained prodigiously last night,
And that ourselves were, at the seventh hour,
Caught in the first beginning of the shower;
But walking, running, and with much ado,
Got home—just time enough to be wet through.
Yet both are well, and, wondrous to be told,
Soused as we were, we yet have caught no cold;
And wishing just the same good hap to you,
We say, good Madam, and good Sir, Adieu!
A POETICAL EPISTLE TO LADY AUSTEN.
Dear Anna—between friend and friend,
Prose answers every common end;
Serves, in a plain and homely way,
To express the occurrence of the day;
Our health, the weather, and the news,
What walks we take, what books we chuse,
And all the floating thoughts we find
Upon the surface of the mind.
But when a poet takes the pen,
Far more alive than other men,
He feels a gentle tingling come
Down to his finger and his thumb,
Derived from nature's noblest part,
The centre of a glowing heart:
And this is what the world, who knows
No flights above the pitch of prose,
His more sublime vagaries slighting,
Denominates an itch for writing.
No wonder I, who scribble rhyme
To catch the triflers of the time,
And tell them truths divine and clear,
Which, couched in prose, they will not hear;
Who labour hard to allure and draw
The loiterers I never saw,
Should feel that itching and that tingling
With all my purpose intermingling,
To your intrinsic merit true,
When called to address myself to you.