Sidebilder
PDF

Driven out an exile from the face of Saul,
To distant caves the lonely wanderer flies,
To seek that peace a tyrant's frown denies.
Hear the sweet accents of his tuneful voice,
Hear him o'erwhelmed with sorrow, yet rejoice;
No womanish or wailing grief has part,
No, not a moment, in his royal heart;
'Tis manly music, such as martyrs makt,
Suffering with gladness for a Saviour's sake '.
His soul exults, hope animates his lays,
The sense of mercy kindles into praise,
And wilds familiar with the lion's roar
Ring with ecstatic sounds unheard before.
'Tis love like his that can alone defeat
The foes of man, or make a desert sweet.

Religion does not censure or exclude
Unnumbered pleasures harmlessly pursued.
To study culture, and with artful toil
To meliorate and tame the stubborn soil;
To give dissimilar yet fruitful lands
The grain or herb or plant that each demands;
To cherish virtue in an humble state,
And share the joys your bounty may create;
To mark the matchless workings of the power
That shuts within its seed the future flower,
Bids these in elegance of form excel,
In colour these, and those delight the smell,
Sends nature forth, the daughter of the skies,
To dance on earth, and charm all human eyes;
To teach the canvas innocent deceit,
Or lay the landscape on the snowy sheet;
These, these are arts pursued without a crime,
That leave no stain iipon the wing of time.

Me poetry (or rather notes that aim Feebly and vainly at poetic fame,) Employs, shut out from more important views, Fast by the banks of the slow-winding Ouse; Content if thus sequestered I may raise A monitor's, though not a poet's praise, And while I teach an art too little known, To close life wisely, may not waste my own.

[graphic][merged small]

ADVERTISEMENT.

The history of the following production is briefly this. A lady, fond of blank verse, demanded a poem of that kind from the author, and gave him the Sofa for a subject. He obeyed; and having much leisure, connected another subject with it; and pursuing the train of thought to which his situation and turn of mind led him, brought forth at length, instead of the trifle which he at first intended, a serious affair,—a Volume.

In the poem on the subject of Education he would be very sorry to stand suspected of having aimed his censure at any particular school. His objections are such as naturally apply themselves to schools in general. If there were not, as for the most part there is, wilful neglect in those who manage them, and an omission even of such discipline as they are susceptible of, the objects are yet too numerous for minute attention; and the aching hearts of ten thousand parents, mourning under the bitterest of all disappointments, attest the truth of the allegation. His quarrel, therefore, is with the mischief at large, and not with any particular instance of it.

LOOK I.—THE SOFA.

ARGUMENT.

Historical deduction of seats, from the stool to the Sofa—A schoolboy's ramble —A walk in the country--The scene described—Rural sounds as well as sights delightful—Another walk—Mistake concerning the charms of solitude corrected—Colonnades commended — Alcove, and the view from it — The Wilderness—The Grove—The Thresher—The necessity and the benefits of exercise—The works of nature superior to and in some instances inimitable by art—The wearisomeness of what is commonly called a life of pleasure — Change of scene sometime? expedient—A common described, and the character of crazy Kate introduced upon it—Gipsies—The blessings of civilised life—-That state most favourable to virtue—The South-sea Islanders compassionated, but chiefly Omai—His present state of mind supposed—Civilised life friendly to virtue, but not great cities—Great cities, and London in particular, allowed their due praise, but censured—Fete champitre—The book concludes with a reflection on the fatal effects of dissipation and effeminacy upon our public measures.

I Sing the Sofa. I who lately sang

Truth, Hope, and Charity, and touched with awe

The solemn chords, and with a trembling hand,

Escaped with pain from that adventurous flight,

Now seek repose upon an humbler theme;

The theme though humble, yet august and proud

The occasion,—for the fair commands the song.

Time was when clothing, sumptuous or for use,
Save their own painted skins, our sires had none.
As yet black breeches were not, satin smooth,
Or velvet soft, or plush with shaggy pile.
The hardy chief upon the rugged rock
Washed by the sea, or on the gravelly bank
Thrown up by wintry torrents roaring loud,
Fearless of wrong, reposed his weary strength.
Those barbarous ages past, succeeded next
The birthday of invention, weak at first,
Dull in design, -and clumsy to perform.
Joint-stools were then created; on three legs
Upborne they stood,—three legs upholding firm
A massy slab, in fashion square or round.
On such a stool immortal Alfred sat,
And swayed the sceptre of his infant realms;
And such in ancient halls and mansions drear
May still be seen, but perforated sore
And drilled in holes the solid oak is found,
By worms voracious eating through and through.

At length a generation more refined
Improved the simple plan, made three legs four,
Gave tftem a twisted form vermicular,
And o'er the seat with plenteous wadding stuffed
Induced a splendid cover green and blue,
Yellow and red, of tapestry richly wrought
And woven close, or needle-work sublime.
There might ye see the peony spread wide,
The full-blown rose, the shepherd and his lass,
Lap-dog and lambkin with black staring eyes,
And parrots with twin cherries in their beak.

Now came the cane from India, smooth and bright
With Nature's varnish; severed into stripes
That interlaced each other, these supplied
Of texture firm a lattice-work, that braced
The new machine, and it became a chair.
But restless was the chair; the back erect
Distressed the weary loins that felt no ease;
The slippery seat betrayed the sliding part
That pressed it, and the feet hung dangling down,
Anxious in vain to find the distant floor.
These for the rich: the rest, whom fate had placed
In modest mediocrity, content
With base materials, sat on well-tanned hides
Obdurate and unyielding, glassy smooth,
With here and there a tuft of crimson yarn,
Or scarlet crewel in the cushion fixed:
If cushion might be called, what harder seemed
Than the firm oak of which the frame was formed.
No want of timber then was felt or feared
In Albion's happy isle. The lumber stood
Ponderous, and fixed by its own massy weight.

But elbows still were wanting; these, some say,
An Alderman of Cripplegate contrived,
And some ascribe the invention to a priest
Burly and big and studious of his ease.
But rude at first, and not with easy slope
Receding wide, they pressed against the ribs,
And bruised the side, and elevated high
Taught the raised shoulders to invade the ears.
Long time elapsed or ere our rugged sires
Complained, though incommodiously pent in,
And ill at ease behind. The ladies first
'Gan murmur, as became the softer sex.
Ingenious fancy, never better pleased
Than when employed to accommodate the fair,
Heard the sweet moan with pity, and devised
The soft settee; one elbow at each end,
And in the midst an elbow, it received
United yet divided, twain at once.
So sit two kings of Brentford on one throne;
And so two citizens who take the air
Close packed and smiling in a chaise and one.
But relaxation of the languid frame
By soft recumbency of outstretched limbs,
Was bliss reserved for happier days ;—so slow
The growth of what is excellent, so hard
To attain perfection in this nether world.
Thus first necessity invented stools,
Convenience next suggested elbow chairs,
And luxury the accomplished sofa last.

The nurse sleeps sweetly, hired to watch the sick
Whom snoring she disturbs. As sweetly he
Who quits the coach-box at the midnight hour
To sleep within the carriage more secure,
His legs depending at the open door.
Sweet sleep enjoys the curate in his desk,
The tedious rector drawling o'er his head,
And sweet the clerk below: but neither sleep
Of lazy nurse, who snores the sick man dead,
Nor his who quits the box at midnight hour
To slumber in the carriage more secure,
Nor sleep enjoyed by curate in his desk,
Nor yet the dozings of the clerk are sweet,
Compared with the repose the sofa yields.

Oh may I live exempted (while I live
Guiltless of pampered appetite obscene,)
From pangs arthritic that infest the toe
Of libertine excess. The sofa suits
The gouty limb, 'tis true; but gouty limb,
Though on a sofa, may I never feel:
For I have loved the rural walk through lanes
Of grassy swarth close cropt by nibbling sheep,
And skirted thick with intertexture firm

Of thorny boughs; have loved the rural walk

O'er hills, through valleys, and by river's brink,

E'er since a truant boy I passed my bounds

To enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames.

And still remember, nor without regret

Of hours that sorrow since has much endeared,

How oft, my slice of pocket store consumed,

Still hungering pennyless and far from home,

I fed on scarlet hips and stony haws,

Or blushing crabs, or berries that emboss

The bramble, black as jet, or sloes austere.

Hard fare ! but such as boyish appetite

Disdains not, nor the palate undepraved

By culinary arts unsavoury deems.

No sofa then awaited my return,

Nor sofa then I needed. Youth repairs

His wasted spirits quickly, by long toil

Incurring short fatigue ; and though our years,

As life declines, speed rapidly away,

And not a year but pilfers as he goes

Some youthful grace that age would gladly keep,

A tooth or auburn lock, and by degrees

Their length and colour from the locks they spare;

The elastic spring of an unwearied foot

That mounts the stile with ease, or leaps the fence,

That play of lungs inhaling and again

Respiring freely the fresh air, that makes

Swift pace or steep ascent no toil to me,

Mine have not pilfered yet; nor yet impaired

My relish of fair prospect: scenes that soothed

Or charmed me young, no longer young, I find

Still soothing and of power to charm me still.

And witness, dear companion of my walks,

Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive

Fast locked in mine, with pleasure such as love

Confirmed by long experience of thy worth

And well-tried virtues could alone inspire,—

Witness a joy that thou hast doubled long.

Thou knowest my praise of nature most sincere,

And that my raptures are not conjured up

To serve occasions of poetic pomp,

But genuine, and art partner of them all.

How oft upon yon eminence our pace

Has slackened to a pause, and we have borne

The ruffling wind scarce conscious that it blew,

While admiration feeding at the eye,

And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene.

Thence with what pleasure have we just discerned

The distant plough slow-moving, and beside

His labouring team, that swerved not from the track,

The sturdy swain diminished to a boy!

Here Ouse, slow winding through a level plain

« ForrigeFortsett »