Page images
PDF
EPUB

Thy pencil has, by monarchs sought,

This wonder of the sculptor's hand From reign to reign in ermine wrought,

Produc'd, his art was at a stand : And, in the robes of state array'd,

For who would hope new fame to raise, The kings of half an age display'd.

Or risk his well-establish'd praise, Here swarthy Charles appears, and there That, his high genius to approve, His brother with dejected air:

Had drawn a George, or carv'd a Jove ? Triumphant Nassau here we find, And with him bright Maria join'd; There Anna, great as when she sent Her armies through the continent, Ere yet her hero was disgrac'd : O may fam'd Brunswick be the last,

PARAPHRASE ON PSALM XXIII. (Though Heaven should with my wish agree, And long preserve thy art in thee)

The Lord my pasture shall prepare, The last, the happiest British king,

And feed me with a shepherd's care; Whom thou shalt paint, or I shall sing!

His presence shall my wants supply, Wise Phidias thus, his skill to prove,

And guard me with a watchful eye: Through many a god advanc'd to Jove,

My noon-day walks he shall attend,
And taught the polish'd rocks lo shine

And all my midnight hours defend.
With airs and lineaments divine ;
Till Greece, amaz'd, and half-afraid,

When in the sultry glebe I faint,
Th'assembled deities survey'd.

Or on the thirsty mountain pant; Great Pan, who wont to chase the fair,

To fertile vales and dewy meads And lov'd the spreading oak, was there;

My weary wandering steps he leads : Old Saturn too with upcast eyes

Where peaceful rivers, soft and slow, Beheld bis abdicated skies ;

Amid the verdant landscape flow.
And mighty Mars, for war renown'd,
In adamantine armor frown'd;

Though in the paths of death I tread, By him the childless goddess rose,

With gloomy horrors overspread, Minerva, studious to compose

My stedfast heart shall fear no ill, Her twisted threads; the web she strung,

For thou, O Lord, art with me still ; And o'er a loom of marble hung :

Thy friendly crook shall give me aid, Thetis, the troubled ocean's queen,

And guide me through the dreadful shade. Match'd with a mortal, next was seen, Reclining on a funeral urn,

Though in a bare and rugged way, Her short-liv'd darling son to mourn.

Through devious lonely wilds I stray, The last was he, whose thunder slew

Thy bounty shall my wants beguile: The Titan-race, a rebel crew,

The barren wilderness shall smile, That from a hundred hills allied

With sudden greens and herbage crown'd In impious leagues their king defied.

And streams shall murmur all around.

MATTHEW PRIOR.

[ocr errors]

a

MATTHEW Prior, a distinguished poet, was born It will not be worth while here to take notice of all in 1664. in London according to one account, his changes in the political world, except to mention according to another at Winborne, in Dorsetshire. the disgraces which followed the famous congress His father dying when he was young, an uncle, of Utrecht, in which he was deeply engaged. For who was a vintner, or tavern-keeper, at Charing- the completion of that business he was left in Cross, took him under his care, and sent him to France, with the appointments and authority of an Westminster-school, of which Dr. Busby was ambassador, though without the title, the proud then master. Before he had passed through the Duke of Shrewsbury having refused to be joined in school, his uncle took him home, for the purpose commission with a man so meanly born. Prior, of bringing him into his own business; but the however, publicly assumed the character till he Earl of Dorset, a great patron of letters, having was superseded by the earl of Stair, on the accesfound him one day reading Horace, and being sion of George 1. The Whigs being now in power, pleased with his conversation, determined to give he was welcomed, on his return, by a warrant from him an university education. He was accordingly the House of Commons, under which he was comadmitted of St. John's College, Cambridge, in mitted to the custody of a messenger. He was ex1682, proceeded bachelor of arts in 1686, and was amined before the Privy Council respecting his soon after elected to a fellowship. After having share in the peace of Utrecht, was treated with proved his poetic talents by some college exercises, rigor, and Walpole moved an impeachment he was introduced at court by the Earl of Dorset, against him, on a charge of high treason, for hold. and was so effectually recommended, that, in 1690, ing clandestine conferences with the French pleni he was appointed secretary to the English pleni- potentiary. His name was excepted from an act of potentiaries who attended the congress at the grace passed in 1717: at length, however, he was Hague. Being now enlisted in the service of the discharged, without being brought to triał, to end court, his productions were, for some years, chiefly his days in retirement. directed to courtly topics, of which one of the most We are now to consider Prior among the poetical considerable was an Ode presented to King William characters of the time. In his writings is found in 1695, on the death of Queen Mary. In 1697, that incongruous mixture of light and rather inhe was nominated secretary to the commissioners decent topics with grave and even religious ones, for the treaty of Ryswick; and, on his return, was which was not uncommon at that period. In the made secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. faculty of telling a story with ease and vivacity, he He went to France in the following year, as secre- yields only to Swift, compared to whom his humor tary, first to the earl of Portland, and then to the is occasionally strained and quaint. His songs Earl of Jersey; and being now regarded as one and amatory pieces are generally elegant and clasconversant in public affairs, he was summoned by sical. The most popular of his serious composiKing William to too, where he had a confidential tions are “ Henry and Emma,” or the Nut-brown audience. In the beginning of 1701, he sat in Par- Maid, modernized from an antique original; and liament for East Grinstead.

" Solomon," the idea of which is taken from the Prior had hitherto been promoted and acted with book of Ecclesiastes. These are harmonious in the Whigs: but the Tories now having become the their versification, splendid and correct in their prevalent party, he turned about, and ever after ad- diction, and copious in poetical imagery ; but they hered to them. He even voted for the impeach- exert no powerful effect on the feelings or the ment of those lords who advised that partition fancy, and are en feebled by prolixity. His “Alma," treaty in which he had been officially employed. a piece of philosophical pleasantry, was written to Like most converts, he embraced his new friends console himself when under confinement, and diswith much zeal, and from that time almost all his plays a considerable share of reading. As to his social connexions were confined within the limits elaborate effusions of loyalty and patriotism, they of his party.

seem to have sunk into total neglect. The successes in the beginning of Queen Anne's The life of Prior was cut short by a lingering reign were celebrated by the poets on both sides ; illness, which closed his days at Wimpole, the seat and Prior sung the victories of Blenheim and of Lord Oxford, in September, 1721, in the 58th Ramilies : he afterwards, however, joined in the year of his age. attack of the great general who had been his theme.

[ocr errors]

One child he had, a daughter chaste and fair, HENRY AND EMMA.

His age's comfort, and his fortune's heir.

They callid her Emma; for the beauteous dame, A POEM,

Who gave the virgin birth, had borne the name:

The name th' indulgent father doubly lov'd : Upon the Model of the Nul-Brown Maid.

For in the child the mother's charms improv'd.

Yet as, when little, round his knees she play'd, TO CLOE.

He call'd her oft, in sport, his Nut-brown Maid,

The friends and tenants took the fondling word, Thou, to whose eyes I bend, at whose command (As still they please, who imitate their lord): (Though low my voice, though artless be my Usage confirm'd what fancy had begun; hand),

The mutual terms around the land were known I take the sprightly reed, and sing, and play, And Emma and the Nut-brown Maid were one. Careless of what the censuring world may say: As with her stature, still her charms increas'a Bright Cloe, object of my constant vow,

Through all the isle her beauty was confessid. Wilt thou awhile unbend thy serious brow? Oh! what perfections must that virgin share, Wilt thou with pleasure hear thy lover's strains, Who fairest is ésteem'd, where all are fair! And with one heavenly smile o'erpay his pains ? From distant shires repair the noble youth, No longer shall the Nut-brown Maid be old; And find report, for once, had lessen'd truth. Though since her youth three hundred years have By wonder first, and then by passion mov'd, rollid:

They came ; they saw; they marvell’d ; and they At thy desire, she shall again be rais'd ;

lov'd. And her reviving charms in lasting verse be By public praises, and by secret sighs, prais'd.

Each own'd the general power of Emma's eyes. No longer man of woman shall complain, In tilts and tournaments the valiant strove, That he may love, and not be lov'd again : By glorious deeds, to purchase Emma's love. That we in vain the fickle sex pursue,

In gentle verse the witty told their flame, Who change the constant lover for the new. And grac'd their choicest songs with Emma' Whatever has been writ, whatever said,

name. Of female passion feign'd, or faith decay'd, In vain they combated, in vain they writ: Henceforth shall in my verse refuted stand, Useless their strength, and impotent their wit. Be said to winds, or writ upon the sand.

Great Venus only must direct the dart, And, while my notes to future times proclaim Which else will never reach the fair-one's heart, Unconquer'd love, and ever-during flame, Spite of th' attempts of force, and soft effects of O fairest of the sex! be thou my Muse :

art. Deign on my work thy influence to diffuse. Great Venus must prefer the happy one : Let me partake the blessings I rehearse,

In Henry's cause her favor must be shown; And grant me, love, the just reward of verse! And Emma, of mankind, must love but him alone.

As beauty's potent queen, with every grace, While these in public to the castle came, That once was Emma's, has adorn'd thy face ; And by their grandeur justified their flame; And, as her son has to my bosom dealt

More secret ways the careful Henry takes ; That constant flame, which faithful Henry felt : His squires, his arms, and equipage forsakes : O let the story with thy life agree :

In borrow'd name, and false attire array'd, Let men once more the bright example see ; Oft he finds means to see the beauteous maid. What Emma was to him, be thou to me.

When Emma hunts, in huntsman's habit drest, Nor send me by thy frown from her I love, Henry on foot pursues the bounding beast. Distant and sad, a banish'd man to rove.

In his right-hand his beechen pole he bears ; But, oh! with pity, long-entreated, crown And graceful at his side his horn he wears. My pains and hopes; and, when thou say'st that one Still to the glade, where she has bent her way, Of all mankind thou lov'st, oh! think on me alone. With knowing skill he drives the future prey.

Bids her decline the hill, and shun the brake; WIERE beauteous Isis and her husband Tame, And shows the path her steed may safest take ; With mingled waves, for ever flow the same, Directs her spear to fix the glorious wound; In times of yore an ancient baron liv’d;

Pleas'd in his toils to have her triumph crown'd ; Great gifts bestow'd, and great respect receiv'd. And blows her praises in no common sound.

When dreadful Edward, with successful care, A falconer Henry is, when Emma hawks : Led his free Britons to the Gallic war;

With her of tarsels and of lures he talks. This lord had headed his appointed bands, Upon his wrist the towering merlin stands, In firm allegiance to his king's commands; Practis'd to rise, and stoop, at her commands. And (all due honors faithfully discharg'd) And when superior now the bird has flown, Had brought back his paternal coat, enlarg'd And headlong brought the tumbling quarry down With a new mark, the witness of his toil, With humble reverence he accosts the fair, And no inglorious part of foreign spoil.

And with the honor'd feather decks her hair. From the loud camp retir'd, and noisy court, Yet still, as from the sportive field she goes, In honorable ease and rural sport,

His downcast eye reveals his inward woes ;
The remnant of his days he safely past;

And by his look and sorrow is exprest,
Nor found they lagg'd too slow, nor flew too fast. A nobler game pursued than bird or beast.
He made his wish with his estate comply,

A shepherd now along the plain he roves ; Joyful to live, yet not afraid to die.

| And, with his jolly pipe, delights the groves.

The neighboring swains around the siranger throng, Here ost the nymph his breathing vows had heard ;
Or to admire, or emulate his song :

Here oft her silence had her heart declar'd.
While with soft sorrow he renews his lays, As active Spring awak'd her insant buds,
Nor heedful of their envy, nor their praise. And genial life inform'd the verdant woods ;
But, soon as Emma's eyes adorn the plain, Henry, in knots involving Emma's name,
His notes he raises to a nobler strain,

Had half express'd, and half conceald, his flame, With dutiful respect and studious fear;

Upon this tree : and, as the tender mark Lest any careless sound offend her ear.

Grew with the year, and widen'd with the bark, A frantic gipsy now, the house he haunts, Venus had heard the virgin's soft address, And in wild phrases speaks dissembled wants. That, as the wound, the passion might increase. With the fond maids in palmistry he deals : As potent Nature shed her kindly showers, They tell the secret first, which he reveals ; And deck'd the various mead with opening flowers, Says who shall wed, and who shall be beguilid; Upon this tree the nymph's obliging care What groom shall get, and squire maintain the child. Had left a frequent wreath for Henry's hair; But, when bright Emma would her fortune know, Which, as with gay delight the lover found, A softer look unbends his opening brow;

Pleas'd with his conquest, with her present crown'd. With trembling awe he gazes on her eye,

Glorious through all the plains he oft had gone, Ard in soft accents forms the kind reply ;

And to each swain the mystic honor shown; That she shall prove as fortunate as fair; The gift still prais’d, the giver still unknown. And Hymen's choicest gifts are all reserv'd for her. His secret note the troubled Henry writes :

Now ost had Henry chang'd his sly disguise, To the lone tree the lovely maid invites. Unmark'd by all but beauteous Emma's eyes : Imperfect words and dubious terms express, Oft had found means alone to see the dame, That unforeseen mischance disturb'd his peace ; And at her feet to breathe his amorous flame; That he must something to her ear commend, And oft, the pangs of absence to remove,

On which her conduct and his life depend. By letters, soft interpreters of love:

Soon as the fair-one had the note receiv'd, Till Time and Industry (the mighty two

The remnant of the day alone she griev'd : That bring our wishes nearer to our view) For different this from every former note, Made him perceive, that the inclining fair Which Venus dictated, and Henry wrote ; Receiv'd his vows with no reluctant ear;

Which told her all his future hopes were laid That Venus had confirm d her equal reign,

On the dear bosom of his Nut-brown Maid; And dealt to Einma's heart a share of Henry's pain. Which always bless'd her eyes, and own'd her While Cupid smild, by kind occasion bless'd,

power; And, with the secret kept, the love increas'd; And bid her oft adieu, yet added more. The amorous youth frequents the silent groves ; Now night advanc'd.' The house in sleep were And much he meditates, for much he loves.

laid ; He loves, 'tis true; and is belov'd again :

The nurse experienc'd, and the prying maid, Great are his joys; but will they long remain ? And, last, that sprite, which does incessant haunt Emma with smiles receives his present flame; The lover's steps, the ancient maiden-aunt. Buit, smiling, will she ever be the same?

To her dear Henry, Emma wings her way, Beautiful looks are rul'd by fickle minds; With quicken'd pace repairing forc'd delay ; And summer seas are turn'd by sudden winds. For Love, fantastic power, that is afraid Another love may gain her easy youth :

To stir abroad till Watchfulness be laid, Time changes thought, and Nattery conquers truth. Undaunted then o'er cliffs and valleys strays, O impotent estate of human life!

And leads his votaries safe through pathless ways. Where Hope and Fear maintain eternal strife ; Not Argus, with his hundred eyes, shall find Where fleeting joy does lasting doubt inspire; Where Cupid goes ; though he, poor guide! is blind And most we question, what we most desire ! The maiden first arriving, sent her eye Amongst thy various gifts, great Heaven, bestow To ask, if yet its chief delight were nigh : Our cup of love unmix'd ; forbear to throw With fear and with desire, with joy and pain, Bitter ingredients in ; nor pall the draught She sees, and runs to meet him on the plain. With nauseous grief: for our ill-judging thought But, oh! his steps proclaim no lover's haste : Hardly enjoys the pleasurable taste ;

On the low ground his fix'd regards are cast; Or deems it not sincere ; or fears it cannot last. Ilis artful bosom heaves dissembled sighs ;

With wishes rais'd, with jealousies opprest, And tears suborn'd fall copious from his eyes. (Alternate tyrants of the human breast)

With ease, alas! we credit what we love : By one great trial he resolves to prove

His painted grief does real sorrow move
The faith of woman, and the force of love. In the afflicted sair; adown her cheek
If, scanning Emma's virtues, he may find Trickling the genuine tears their current break;
That beauteous frame inclose a steady mind, Attentive stood the mournful nymph: the man
He'll fix his hope of future joy secure;

Broke silence first : the tale alternate ran.
And live a slave to Hymen's happy power.
But if the fair-one, as he fears, is frail ;

HENRY
If, pois'd aright in Reason's equal scale,
Light fly her merit, and her faulis prevail;

SINCERE, O tell me, hast thou felt a pain, His mind he vows to free from amorous care, Emma, beyond what woman knows to feign? The latent mischief from his heart to tear,

Has thy uncertain bosom ever strove Resume his azure arms, and shine again in war. With the first tumults of a real love? South of the castle, in a verdant glade,

Hast thou now dreaded, and now blest his sway, A spreading beoch extends her friendly shado: By turns averse, and joyful to obey !

IENRY

EMMA.

EMMA.

Thy virgin softness hast thou e'er bewail'd, Fair Truth, at last, her radiant beams will raise , As Reason yielded, and as Love prevail'd ? And Malice vanquish'd heightens Virtue's praise. And wept the potent god's resistless dart,

Let then thy favor but indulge my flight;
His killing pleasure, his ecstatic smart,

O! let my presence make thy travels light;
And heavenly poison thrilling through thy heart? And potent Venus shall exalt my name
If so, with pity view my wretched state ;

Above the rumors of censorious Fame;
At least deplore, and then forget my fate : Nor from that busy demon's restless power
To some more happy knight reserve thy charms, Will ever Emma other grace implore,
By Fortune favor'd, and successful arms;

Than that this truth should to the world be known And only, as the Sun's revolving ray

That I, of all mankind, have lov'd but thee alone. Brings back each year this melancholy day, Permit one sigh, and set apart one tear, To an abandon'd exile's endless care.

But canst thou wield the sword, and bend the bow? For me, alas! outcast of human race,

With active force repel the sturdy foe? Love's anger only waits, and dire disgrace;

When the loud tumult speaks the batile nigh,
For, lo! these hands in murther are imbrued ;

And winged deaths in whistling arrows fly;
These trembling feet by Justice are pursued :
Fate calls aloud, and hastens me away ;

Wilt thou, though wounded, yet undaunted stay, A shameful death attends my longer stay ;

Perform thy part, and share the dangerous day? And I this night must fly from thee and love,

Then, as thy strength decays, thy heart will fail,

Thy limbs all trembling, and thy cheeks all pale; Condemn'd in lonely woods, a banish'd man, to rove.

With fruitless sorrow, thou, inglorious maid,
Wilt weep thy safety by thy love betray'd :

Then to thy friend, by foes o'ercharg'd, deny
What is our bliss, that changeth with the Moon? Thy little useless aid, and coward fly:
And day of life, that darkens ere 'tis noon? Then wilt thou curse the chance that made thee love
What is true passion, if unblest it dies?

A banish'd man, condemnd in lonely woods to rove.
And where is Emma's joy, if Henry flies?
If love, alas! be pain; the pain I bear
No thought can figure, and no tongue declare.
Ne'er faithful woman felt, nor false one feign'd,

With fatal certainty Thalestris knew
The flames which long have in my bosom reign'd: To send the arrow from the twanging yew;
The god of love himself inhabits there,

And, great in arms, and foremost in the war,
With all his rage, and dread, and grief, and care,

Bonduca brandish'd high the British spear. His complement of stores, and total war.

Could thirst of vengeance and desire of fame 0! cease then coldly w suspect my love ;

Excite the female breast with martial fame? And let my deed at least my faith approve.

And shall not love's diviner power inspire Alas! no youth shall my endearments share;

More hardy virtue, and more generous fire ? Nor day nor night shall interrupt my care;

Near thee, mistrust not, constant I'll abide, No future story shall with truth upbraid

And fall, or vanquish, fighting by thy side. The cold indifference of the Nut-brown Maid;

Though my inferior strength may not allow Nor to hard banishment shall Henry run,

That I should bear or draw the warrior bow ; While careless Emma sleeps on beds of down.

With ready hand I will the shaft supply, View me resolv'd, where'er thou lead'st, to go,

And joy to see ihy victor arrows fly. Friend to thy pain, and partner of thy woe;

Touch'd in the battle by the hostile reed, For I attest, fair Venus and her son,

Shouldst thou, (but Heaven avert it!) shouldst thou That I, of all mankind, will love but thee alone.

bleed ;
To stop the wounds, my finest lawn I'd tear,

Wash them with tears, and wipe them with my hair;

Blest, when my dangers and my toils have shown Let prudence yet obstruct thy venturous way;

That I, of all mankind, could love but thee alone. And take good heed, what men will think and say ; That beauteous Emma vagrant courses took; Her father's house and civil life forsook ; That, full of youthful blood, and fond of man, But canst thou, tender maid, canst thou sustain She to the wood-land with an exile ran.

AMictive want, or hunger's pressing pain ? Reflect, that lessen'd fame is ne'er regain'd, Those limbs, in lawn and softest silk array'd, And virgin honor, once, is always stain'd :

From sunbeams guarded, and of winds afraid, Timely advis'd, the coming evil shun:

Can they bear angry Jove ? can they resist
Better not do the deed, than weep it done. The parching dog-star, and the bleak north-east }
No penance can absolve our guilty fame; When, chill'd by adverse snows and beating rain,
Nor tears, that wash out sin, can wash out shame. We tread with weary steps the longsome plain;
Then fly the sad effects of desperate love, When with hard toil we seek our evening food,
And leave a banish'd man through lonely woods 10 Berries and acorns from the neighboring wood;

And find among the cliffs no other house
But the thin covert of some gather'd boughs;

Wilt thou not then' reluctant send thine eye
Let Emma's hapless case be falsely told Around the dreary waste, and, weeping, try
By the rash young, or the ill-natur'd old :

(Though then, alas! that trial be too late) Let every tongue its various censures choose ; To find thy father's hospitable gate, Absolve with coldness, or with spite accuse : And seats, where ease and plenty brooding sate?

HENRY.

HENRY.

rove.

EMMA.

« PreviousContinue »