« PreviousContinue »
William SOMERVILE, an agreeable poet, was mind, and plunged him into habits which shortened born in 1692, at his father's seat at Edston, in War. his life. He died in 1742; and his friend Shenwickshire. He was educated at Winchester school, stone, with much feeling, announces the event to whence he was elected to New College, Oxford. one of his correspondents. Somervile passed his His political attachments were to the Whig party, lite in celibacy, and made over the reversion of his as appeared from his praises of Marlborough, Slan- estate to Lord Somervile, a branch of the same hope, and Addison. To the latter of these he ad. family, charged with a jointure to his mother, then dressed a poem, in which there is the happy couplet in her 90th year. alluded to in the Spectator :
As a poet, he is chiefly known by “The Chase,” “When panting Virtue her last efforts made,
a piece in blank verse, which maintains a high “You brought your Clio to the Virgin's aid."
rank in the didactic and descriptive classes. Being
composed by one who was perfectly conversant with “Clio" was known to be the mark by which Addi. the sports which are its subject, and entered into son distinguished his papers in that miscellany. them with enthusiasm, his pictures greatly surpass
Somervile inherited a considerable paternal es- the draughts of the same kind which are attempted tate, on which he principally lived, acting as a by poets by profession. Another piece connected magistrate, and pursuing with ardor the amusements with this is entitled “Field Sports,” but only de. of a sportsman, varied with the studies of a man scribes that of hawking. In his “Hobbinol, or of letters. His mode of living, which was hospi- Rural Games," he attempts the burlesque with toltable, and addicted to conviviality, threw him into erable success. Of his other pieces, serious and pecuniary embarrassments, which preyed on his comic, there are few which add to his fame.
The Chase I sing, hounds, and their various breed,
And no less various use. O thou, great prince ! Book I.
Whom Cambria's towering hills proclaim their lord,
Deign thou to hear my bold, instructive song. Argument
While grateful citizens with pompous show, Che subject proposed. Address to his royal high. Rear the triumphal arch, rich with th' exploits
ness the prince. The origin of hunting. The Of thy illustrious house ; while virgins pave rude and unpolished manner of the first hunters. Thy way with flowers, and, as the royal youth Beasts at first hunted for food and sacrifice. The Passing they view, admire and sigh in vain; grant made by God to man of the beasts, &c. While crowded theatres, too fondly proud The regular manner of hunting first brought of their exotic minstrels, and shrill pipes, into this island by the Normans. The best hounds The price of manhood, hail thee with a song, and best horses bred here. The advantage of And airs soft-warbling; my hoarse-sounding horn this exercise to us, as islanders. Address to gen- Invites thee to the Chase, the sport of kings; tlemen of estates. Situation of the kennel and Image of war, without its guilt. The Muse its several courts. The diversion and employ. Aloft on wing shall soar, conduct with care ment of hounds in the kennel. The different Thy foaming courser o'er the steepy rock, sorts of hounds for each different chase. De- Or on the river bank receive thee safe, scription of a perfect hound. Of sizing and sort-Light-bounding o'er the wave, from shore to shore. ing of hounds; the middle-sized hound recom- Be thou our great protector, gracious youth! mended. Of the large deep-mouthed hound for And if, in future times, some envious prince, hunting the stag and otter. Of the lime-hound ; Careless of right, and guileful, should invade their use on the borders of England and Scotland. Thy Britain's commerce, or should strive in vain A physical account of scents. Of good and bad To wrest the balance from thy equal hand; scenting days. A short admonition to my breth- Thy hunter-train, in cheerful green array'd, ren of the couples.
(A band undaunted, and inur'd to toils)
Shall compass thee around, die at thy feet, Is bred the perfect hound, in scent and speed
In vain malignant steams and winter fogs Through fire, and smoke, and blood, and fields of Load the dull air, and hover round our coasts : death.
The huntsman, ever gay, robust, and bold,
His drooping herd, and cheer his heart with joy. Improve the piece, or wise Experience give
Ye vigorous youths, by smiling Fortune blest The proper finishing. When Nimrod bold, With large demesnes, hereditary wealth, That mighty hunter, first made war on beasts, Heap'd copious by your wise forefathers' care, And stain'd the woodland-green with purple dye, Hear and attend! while I the means reveal New, and unpolish'd was the huntsman's art; T enjoy those pleasures, for the weak too strong, No stated rule, his wanton will his guide. Too costly for the poor : To rein the steed With clubs and stones, rude implements of war, Swift stretching o'er the plain, to cheer the pack He arm'd his savage bands, a multitude
Opening in concerts of harmonious joy, Untrain'd; of twining osiers form’d, they pitch But breathing death. What though the gripe severe Their artless toils, then range the desert hills, Of brazen-fisted Time, and slow disease And scour the plains below; the trembling herd Creeping through every vein, and nerve unstrung, Start at th' unusual sound, and clamorous shout Afflict my shatter'd frame, undaunted still, Unheard before ; surpris'd, alas ! to find
Fix'd as a mountain ash, that braves the bolts Man now their foe, whom erst they deem'd their lord, Of angry Jove; though blasted, yet unfallen; But mild and gentle, and by whom as yet Still can my soul in Fancy's mirror view Secure they graz'd. Death stretches o'er the plain Deeds glorious once, recall the joyous scene Wide-wasting, and grim slaughter red with blood : In all its splendors deck’d, o'er the full bowl Urg'd on by hunger keen, they wound, they kill, Recount my triumphs past, urge others on Their rage licentious knows no bound ; at last, With hand and voice, and point the winding way: Encumber'd with their spoils, joyful they bear Pleas'd with that social sweet garrulity, Upon their shoulders broad the blecding prey. The poor disbanded veteran's sole delight. Part on their altars smoke a sacrifice
First let the kennel be the huntsman's care, To that all-gracious Power, whose bounteous hand Upon some little eminence erect, Supports his wide creation ; what remains And fronting to the ruddy dawn; its courts On living coals they broil, inelegant
On either hand wide opening to receive of taste, nor skill'd as yet in nicer arts
The Sun's all-cheering beams, when mild he shines Of pamper'd luxury. Devotion pure,
And gilds the mountain tops. For much the pack And strong necessity, thus first began
(Rous'd from their dark alcoves) delight to stretch The chase of beasts : though bloody was the deed, And bask in his invigorating ray: Yet without guilt. For the green herb alone Warn'd by the streaming light and merry lark, Unequal to sustain man's laboring race,
Forth rush the jolly clan; with tuneful throats Now every moving thing that liv'd on Earth They carol loud, and in grand chorus join'd Was granted him for food.* So just is Heaven, Salute the new-born day. For not alone To give us in proportion to our wants.
The vegetable world, but men and brutes Or chance or industry in after-time
Own his reviving influence, and joy Some few improvements made, but short as yet At his approach. Fountain of light! if chance Of due perfection. In this isle remote
Some envious cloud veil thy refulgent brow, Our painted ancestors were slow to learn, In vain the Muses' aid ; untouch'd, unstrung, To arms devote, of the politer arts
Lies my mute harp, and thy desponding bard
Let no Corinthian pillars prop the dome,
Better dispos'd, to clothe the talter'd wretch,
Who shrinks beneath the blast, to feed the poor His listening peers approve with joint acclaim. Pinch'd with afflictive want. For use, not slate, From him successive huntsmen learn'd to join Gracefully plain, let each apartment rise. In bloody social leagues, the multitude
O'er all let cleanliness preside, no scraps Dispers’d; to size, to sort their various tribes ; Bestrew the pavement, and no half-pick'd bones To rear, feed, hunt, and discipline the pack. To kindle fierce debate, or to disgust
Hail, happy Britain! highly favor'd isle, That nicer sense, on which the sportsman's hope, And Heaven's peculiar care! To thee 'tis given And all his future triumphs, must depend. To train the sprightly steed, more fleet than those Soon as the growling pack with eager joy Begot by winds, or the celestial breed
Have lapp'd their smoking viands, morn or eve, That bore the great Pelides through the press From the full cistern lead the ductile streams, Of heroes arm'd, and broke their crowded ranks ; To wash thy court well pav'd, nor spare thy pains, Which, proudly neighing, with the Sun begins For much to health will cleanliness avail. Cheerful his course ; and ere his beams decline, Seek'st thou for hounds to climb the rocky steep, Has measur'd half thy surface unfatigued. And brush th' entangled covert, whose nice scent In thee alone, fair land of liberty !
O'er greasy fallows and frequented roads
Can pick ihe dubious way? Banish far off * Gen. chap. ix. ver. 3.
Each noisome stench, let no offensive smell
Invade thy wide inclosure, but admit
But husband thou thy pleasures, and give scope The nitrous air and purifying breeze.
To all her subtle play: by Nature led, Water and shade no less demand thy care : A thousand shifts she tries; t' unravel these In a large square th' adjacent field inclose, Th’industrious beagle twists his waving tail, There plant in equal ranks the spreading elm, Through all her labyrinths pursues, and rings Or fragrant lime; most happy thy design,
Her doleful knell. See there with countenance If at the bottom of thy spacious court,
blithe, A large canal, fed by the crystal brook,
And with a courtly grin, the fawning hound From its transparent bosom shall reflect
Salutes thee cowering, his wide-opening noso Downward thy structure and inverted grove. Upward he curls, and his large sloe-black eyes Here when the Sun's too potent gleams annoy Melt in soft blandishments and humble joy ; The crowded kennel and the drooping pack, His glossy skin, or yellow-pied, or blue, Restless, and faint, loll their unmoisten'd tongues, In lights or shades by Nature's pencil drawn, And drop their feeble tails, to cooler shades Reflects the various tints; his ears and legs Lead forth the panting tribe; soon shalt thou find Fleckt here and there, in gay enamell’d pride, The cordial breeze their fainting hearts revive: Rival the speckled pard ; his rush-grown tail Tumultuous soon they plunge into the stream, O'er his broad back bends in an ample arch; There lave their reeking sides, with greedy joy On shoulders clean, upright and firm he stands; Gulp down the flying wave, this way and that His round cat foot, straight hams, and wide-spread From shore to shore they swim, while clamor loud
thighs, And wild uproar torments the troubled flood : And his low-dropping chest: confess his speed, Then on the sunny bank they roll and stretch His strength, his wind, or on the steepy hill, Their dripping limbs, or else in wanton rings Or far-extended plain; in every part Coursing around, pursuing and pursued,
So well proportion'd, that the nicer skill The merry multitude disporting play.
Of Phidias himself can't blame thy choice. But here with watchful and observant eye, Of such compose thy pack. But here a mean Attend their frolics, which too often end
Observe, nor the large hound prefer, of size In bloody broils and death. High o'er thy head Gigantic; he in the thick-woven covert Wave thy resounding whip, and with a voice Painfully tugs, or in the thorny brake Fierce-menacing o'errule the stern debate, Torn and embarrass'd bleeds : But if too small, And quench their kindling rage ; for oft in sport The pigmy brood in every furrow swims; Begun, combat ensues, growling they snarl, Moil'd in the clogging clay, panting they lag Then on their haunches rear'd, rampant they seize Behind inglorious; or else shivering creep Each other's throats, with teeth and claws in gore Benumb’d and faint beneath the sheltering thorn Besmear'd, they wound, they tear, till on the ground, For hounds of middle size, active and strong, Panting, half dead the conquer'd champion lies : Will better answer all thy various ends, Then sudden all the base ignoble crowd
And crown thy pleasing labors, with success. Loud-clamoring seize the helpless worried wretch, As some brave captain, curious and exact, And, thirsting for his blood, drag different ways By his fix'd standard forms in equal ranks His mangled carcass on th' ensanguin'd plain. His gay battalion, as one man they move O beasts of pity void! t'oppress the weak, Step after step, their size the same, their arms, To point your vengeance at the friendless head, Far-gleaming, dart the same united blaze : And with one mutual cry insult the fall’n! Reviewing generals his merit own; Emblem too just of man's degenerate race. How regular! how just! And all his cares Others apart, by native instinct led,
Are well repaid, if mighty George approve. Knowing instructor! 'mong the ranker grass So model thou thy pack, if honor touch Cull each salubrious plant, with bitter juice Thy generous soul, and the world's just applause Concoctive stor'd, and potent to allay
But above all take heed, nor mix thy hounds Each vicious ferment. Thus the hand divine Of different kinds ; discordant sounds shall grate Of Providence, beneficent and kind
Thy ears offended, and a lagging line
But if the amphibious otter be thy chase, Their great physician. Now grown stiff with age, Or stately stag, that o'er the woodland reigns; And many a painful chase, the wise old hound, Or if the harmonious thunder of the field Regardless of the frolic pack, attends
Delight thy ravish'd ears; the deep-flew'd hound His master's side, or slumbers at his ease
Breed up with caro, strong, heavy, slow, but sure: Beneath the bending shade; there many a ring Whose ears down-hanging from his thick round head Runs o'er in dreams; now on the doubtful foil Shall sweep the morning dew, whose clanging voice Puzzles perplex'd, or doubles intricate
Awake the mountain Echo in her cell, Cautious unfolds, then, wing'd with all his speed, And shake the forests : The bold Talbot kind Bounds o'er the lawn to seize his panting prey, Of these the prime ; as white as Alpine snows; And in imperfect whimperings speaks his joy. And great their use of old. Upon the banks
A different hound for every different chase Of Tweed, slow winding through the vale, the seat Select with judgment; nor the timorous hare Of war and rapine once, ere Britons knew O'ermatch'd destroy, but leave that vile offence The sweets of peace, or Anna's dread commands To the mean, murderous, coursing crew; intent To lasting leagues the haughty rivals aw'd, On blood and spoil. O blast their hopes, just There dwelt a pilfering race; well traind and skilla Heaven!
In all the mysteries of theft, the spoil And all their painful drudgeries repay
Their only substance, feuds and war their sport: With disappointment and severe remorse.
Not more expert in every fraudful art
Low-sinking at their ease; listless they shrink
Into some dark recess, nor hear thy voice
Rouse up the slumbering tribe, with heavy eyes
But if the inclement skies and angry Jove
Rich with the wise remarks of heroes old.
With great examples of old Greece or Rome,
Enlarge thy free-born heart, and bless kind Heaven,
And rusty couples gingling by his side.
Transporting pleasures were by Heaven ordain'd
Wisdom's relief, and Virtue's great reward.
in the hare going to seat in the morning. Of In many a crimson tide, then here and there
the variety of seats or forms of the hare, accordIn smaller rills disparted, as it flows
ing to the change of the season, weather, or wind. Propellid, the serous particles evade
Description of the hare-hunting in all its parts, Through th' open pores, and with the ambient air interspersed with rules to be observed by those Entangling mix. As fuming vapors rise,
who follow that chase. Transition to the Asiatic And hang upon the gently purling brook,
way of hunting, particularly the magnificent There by th' incumbent atmosphere compressid: manner of the Great Mogul, and other Tartarian The panting Chase grows warmer as he flies, princes, taken from Monsieur Bernier, and the And through the net-work of the skin perspires; history of Gengiscan the Great. Concludes with Leaves a long-streaming trail behind, which by
a short reproof of tyrants and oppressors of The cooler air condens'd, remains, unless
Nor will it less delight th' attentive sage
T' observe that Instinct, which unerring guides
Loiters at ease before the driving pack
And mocks their vain pursuit; nor far he flies,
That freshens on the blade provokes their rage. The titillating joy. Thus on the air
Urg'd to their speed, his weak deluded foes Depend the hunter's hopes. When ruddy streaks Soon flag fatigued ; strain’d to excess each nerve, At eve forebode a blustering stormy day,
Fach slacken'd sinew fails; they pant, they foam , Or lowering clouds blacken the mountain's brow, Then o'er the lawn he bounds, o'er the high bills When nipping frosts, and the keen biting blasts Stretches secure, and leaves the scatter'd crowd of the dry parching east, menace the trees To puzzle in the distant vale below.
"T'is Instinct that directs the jealous hare * Cacus, VIRG. En, lib. viii.
To choose her soft abode. With elep revers'd
She forms the doubling maze ; then, ere the morn (Thy early meal, or thy officious maids,
As wandering shopherds on th’ Arabian plains Th' important work. Me other joys invite,
The horn sonorous calls, the pack awak'd Their moving camp, now, on some cooler hill Their matins chant, nor brook my long delay. With cedars crown'd, court the refreshing breeze; My courser hears their voice; see there, with ears And then, below, where trickling streams distil And tail erect, neighing he paws the ground; From some penurious source, their thirst allay, Fierce rapture kindles in his reddening eyes, And feed their fainting flocks : so the wise hares And boils in every vein. As captive boys Oft quit their seats, lest some more curious eye Cow'd by the ruling rod and haughty frowns Should mark their haunts, and by dark treacherous Of pedagogues severe, from their hard tasks wiles
If once dismiss'd, no limits can contain Plot their destruction; or perchance in hopes The tumult rais'd within their little breasts, Of plenteous forage, near the ranker mead, But give a loose to all their frolic play: Or malted blade, wary and close they sit. So from their kennel rush the joyous pack; When spring shines forth, season of love and joy, A thousand wanton gaieties express In the moist marsh, 'mong beds of rushes hid, Their inward ecstacy, their pleasing sport They cool their boiling blood. When summer suns Once more indulg'd, and liberty restor’d. Bake the cleft earth, to thick wide-waving fields The rising Sun, that o'er th' horizon peeps, Of corn full-grown, they lead their helpless young: As many colors from their glossy skins But when autumnal torrents and fierce rains Beaming reflects, as paint the various bow Deluge the vale, in the dry crumbling bank When April showers descend. Delightful scene! Their forms they delve, and cautiously avoid Where all around is gay, men, horses, dogs, The dripping covert : yet when winter's cold And in each smiling countenance appears Their limbs benumbs, thither with speed return'd Fresh blooming health, and universal joy. In the long grass they skulk, or shrinking creep Huntsman, lead on! behind the clustering pack Among the wither'd leaves, thus changing still, Submiss atiend, hear with respect thy whip As fancy prompts them, or as food invites. Loud-clanging, and thy harsher voice obey : But every season carefully observ'd,
Spare not the straggling cur that wildly roves; Th'inconstant winds, the fickle element,
But let thy brisk assistant on his back The wise experiene'd huntsman soon may find Imprint thy just resentments ; let each lash His subtle, various game, nor waste in vain Bite to the quick, till howling he return, His tedious hours, till his impatient hounds, And whining creep amid the trembling crowd. With disappointment vex'd, each springing lark Here on this verdant spot, where Nature kind Babbling pursue, far scatter'd o'er the fields. With double blessings crowns the farmer's hopes ; Now golden Autumn from her open lap
Where nowers autumnal spring, and the rank mead Her fragrant bounties showers; the fields are shorn; Affords the wandering hares a rich repast; Inwardly smiling, the proud farmer views Throw off thy ready pack. See, where they spread, The rising pyramids that grace his yard,
And range around, and dash the glittering dew. And counts his large increase ; his barns are stor’d, If some staunch hound, with his authentic voice, And groaning staddles bend beneath their load. Ayow the recent trail, the justling tribe All now is free as air, and the gay pack
Attend his call, then with one mutual cry In the rough bristly stubbles range unblam'd ; The welcome news confirm, and echoing hills No widow's tears o'erflow, no secret curse Repeat the pleasing tale. See how they thread Swells in the farmer's breast, which his pale lips The brakes, and up yon furrow drive along! Trembling conceal, by his fierce landlord aw'd : But quick they back recoil, and wisely check But courteous now he levels every fence,
Their eager haste; then o’er the fallow'd ground Joins in the common cry, and halloos loud, How leisurely they work, and many a pause Charm'd with the ratiling thunder of the field. Th' harmonious concert breaks ; till more assur'd Oh bear me, some kind power invisible !
With joy redoubled the low valleys ring. To that extended lawn, where the gay court What artful labyrinths perplex their way! View the swift racers, stretching to the goal; Ah! there she lies; how close! she pants, she doubts Games more renown'd, and a far nobler train, If now she lives; she trembles as she sits, Than proud Elean fields could boast of old. With horror seiz'd. The wither'd grass that clings Oh! were a Theban lyre not wanting here, Around her head, of the same russet hue, And Pindar's voice, to do their merit right! Almost deceiv'd my sight, had not her eyes Or to those spacious plains, where the strain'd eye, With life full-beaming her vain wiles betray'd. In the wide prospect lost, beholds at last
At distance draw thy pack, let all be hush'd, Sarum's proud spire, that o'er the hills ascends, No clamor loud, no frantic joy be heard, And pierces through the clouds. Or to thy downs, Lest the wild hound run gadding o'er the plain Fair Cotswold, where the well-breath'd beagle climbs Untractable, nor hear thy chiding voice. With matchless speed thy green aspiring brow, Now gently put her off; see how direct And leaves the lagging multitude behind. To her known mew she flies! Here, huntsman, bring
Hail, gentle Dawn! mild blushing goddess, hail ! (But without hurry) all thy jolly hounds, Rejoic'd I see thy purple mantle spread
And calmly lay them in. How low they stoop, O'er half the skies, gems pave thy radiant way, And seem to plow the ground! then all at once And orient pearls from every shrub depend. With greedy nostrils snuff the fuming steam Farewell, Cleora ; here deep sunk in down That glads their fluttering hearts. As winds let loose Slumber secure, with happy dreams amus'd, From the dark caverns of the blustering god, Till grateful steams shall tempt thee to receive They burst a way, and sween the dewy lawn.