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"Ye nymphs," he cried, "ye Dryads, who so long
Have favor'd Damon, and inspir'd his song;
For whom, retir'd, I shun the gay resorts
Of sportful cities, and of pompous courts;
In vain I bid the restless world adieu,
To seek tranquillity and peace with you.
Though wild Ambition and destructive Rage
No factions here can form, no wars can wage:
Though Envy frowns not on your humble shades,
Nor Calumny your innocence invades :
Yet cruel Love, that troubler of the breast,
Too often violates your boasted rest;
With inbred storms disturbs your calm retreat,
And taints with bitterness each rural sweet.
"Ah, luckless day! when first with fond surprise
On Delia's face I fix'd my eager eyes!
Then in wild tumults all my soul was tost,
Then reason, liberty, at once were lost:
And every wish, and thought, and care, was gone,
But what my heart employ'd on her alone.
Then too she smil'd: can smiles our peace destroy,
Those lovely children of Content and Joy?
How can soft pleasure and tormenting woe
From the same spring at the same moment flow?
Unhappy boy! these vain inquiries cease,
Thought could not guard, nor will restore, thy peace:
Indulge the frenzy that thou must endure,
And soothe the pain thou know'st not how to cure.
Come, flattering Memory! and tell my heart
How kind she was, and with what pleasing art
She strove its fondest wishes to obtain,
Confirm her power, and faster bind my chain.
If on the green we danc'd, a mirthful band;
To me alone she gave her willing hand:
Her partial taste, if e'er I touch'd the lyre,
Still in my song found something to admire.
By none but her my crook with flowers was crown'd,
By none but her my brows with ivy bound:
The world, that Damon was her choice, believ'd,
The world, alas! like Damon, was deceiv'd.
When last I saw her, and declar'd my fire
In words as soft as passion could inspire,
Coldly she heard, and full of scorn withdrew,
Without one pitying glance, one sweet adieu.
The frighted hind, who sees his ripen'd corn
Up from the roots by sudden tempests torn,
Whose fairest hopes destroy'd and blasted lie,
Feels not so keen a pang of grief as I.
Ah, how have I deserv'd, inhuman maid,
To have my faithful service thus repaid?
Were all the marks of kindness I receiv'd,
But dreams of joy, that charm'd me and deceiv'd?
Or did you only nurse my growing love,
That with more pain I might your hatred prove?
Sure guilty treachery no place could find
In such a gentle, such a generous mind:
A maid, brought up the woods and wilds among
Could ne'er have learnt the art of courts so young:
No; let me rather think her anger feign'd,
Still let me hope my Delia may be gain'd;
'Twas only modesty that seem'd disdain,
And her heart suffer'd when she gave me pain."
Pleas'd with this flattering thought, the love-sick
Felt the faint dawning of a doubtful joy;
Back to his flock more cheerful he return'd,
When now the setting Sun more fiercely burn'd,
Blue vapors rose along the mazy rills,
And light's last blushes ting'd the distant hills.
TO MR. DODDINGTON, AFTERWARDS LORD
HEAR, Doddington, the notes that shepherds sing,
Like those that warbling hail the genial Spring.
Nor Pan, nor Phoebus, tunes our artless reeds:
From Love alone their melody proceeds.
From Love, Theocritus, on Enna's plains,
Learnt the wild sweetness of his Doric strains.
Young Maro, touch'd by his inspiring dart,
Could charm each ear, and soften every heart:
Me too his power has reach'd, and bids with thine
My rustic pipe in pleasing concert join.
Damon no longer sought the silent shade,
No more in unfrequented paths he stray'd,
But call'd the swains to hear his jocund song,
And told his joy to all the rural throng.
"Blest be the hour," he said, "that happy hour,
When first I own'd my Delia's gentle power;
Then gloomy discontent and pining care
Forsook my breast, and left soft wishes there;
Soft wishes there they left, and gay desires,
Delightful languors, and transporting fires.
Where yonder limes combine to form a shade,
These eyes first gaz'd upon the charming maid:
There she appear'd, on that auspicious day,
When swains their sportive rites to Bacchus pay:
She led the dance-Heavens! with what grace she
Who could have seen her then, and not have lov'd?
I strove not to resist so sweet a flame,
But gloried in a happy captive's name;
Nor would I now, could Love permit, be free,
But leave to brutes their savage liberty.
"And art thou then, fond youth, secure of joy? Can no reverse thy flattering bliss destroy? Has treacherous Love no torment yet in store? Or hast thou never prov'd his fatal power? Whence flow'd those tears that late bedew'd thy cheek?
Why sigh'd thy heart as if it strove to break?
Why were the desert rocks invok'd to hear
The plaintive accent of thy sad despair?
From Delia's rigor all those pains arose,
Delia, who now compassionates my woes,
Who bids me hope; and in that charming word
Has peace and transport to my soul restor'd.
"Begin, my pipe, begin the gladsome lay;
A kiss from Delia shall thy music pay;
A kiss obtain'd 'twixt struggling and consent,
Given with forc'd anger, and disguis'd content.
No laureate wreaths I ask, to bind my brows,
Such as the Muse on lofty bards bestows:
Let other swains to praise or fame aspire;
I from her lips my recompense require.
Why stays my Delia in her secret bower? Light gales have chas'd the late impending shower Th' emerging Sun more bright his beams extends; Oppos'd, its beauteous arch the rainbow bends! Glad youths and maidens turn the new-made hay: The birds renew their songs on every spray! Come forth, my love, thy shepherd's joys to crown All nature smiles.-Will only Delia frown?
"Hark how the bees with murmurs fill the plain While every flower of every sweet they drain:
See, how beneath yon hillock's shady steep,
The shelter'd herds on flowery couches sleep:
Nor bees, nor herds, are half so blest as I,
If with my fond desires my love comply;
From Delia's lips a sweeter honey flows,
And on her bosom dwells more soft repose.
"Ah! how, my dear, shall I deserve thy charms?
What gift can bribe thee to my longing arms?
A bird for thee in silken bands I hold,
Whose yellow plumage shines like polish'd gold;
From distant isles the lovely stranger came,
And bears the fortunate Canaries' name;
In all our woods none boasts so sweet a note,
Not ev'n the nightingale's melodious throat.
Accept of this; and could I add beside
What wealth the rich Peruvian mountains hide:
If all the gems in eastern rocks were mine,
On thee alone their glittering pride should shine.
But, if thy mind no gifts have power to move,
Phoebus himself shall leave th' Aonian grove:
The tuneful Nine, who never sue in vain,
Shall come sweet suppliants for their favorite
For him each blue-ey'd Naiad of the flood,
For him each green-hair'd sister of the wood,
Whom oft beneath fair Cynthia's gentle ray
His music calls to dance the night away.
And you, fair nymphs, companions of my love,
With whom she joys the cowslip meads to rove,
I beg you recommend my faithful flame,
And let her often hear her shepherd's name:
Shade all my faults from her inquiring sight,
And show my merits in the fairest light:
My pipe your kind assistance shall repay,
And every friend shall claim a different lay.
"But see! in yonder glade the heavenly fair
Enjoys the fragrance of the breezy air-
Ah, thither let me fly with eager feet;
Adieu, my pipe; I go my love to meet-
O, may I find her as we parted last,
And may each future hour be like the past! So shall the whitest lamb these pastures feed, Propitious Venus, on thy altars bleed.
TO MR. EDWARD WALPOLE.
THE gods, O Walpole, give no bliss sincere;
Wealth is disturb'd by care, and power by fear:
Of all the passions that employ the mind,
In gentle love the sweetest joys we find :
Yet ev'n those joys dire Jealousy molests,
And blackens each fair image in our breasts.
O may the warmth of thy too tender heart
Ne'er feel the sharpness of his venom'd dart!
For thy own quiet, think thy mistress just,
And wisely take thy happiness on trust.
Begin, my Muse, and Damon's woes rehearse, In wildest numbers and disorder'd verse.
Here, half-conceal'd in trees, a cottage stands,
A castle there the opening plain commands;
Beyond, a town with glittering spires is crown'd,
And distant hills the wide horizon bound:
On a romantic mountain's airy head (While browsing goats at ease around him fed) Anxious he lay, with jealous cares opprest; Distrust and anger laboring in his breastThe vale beneath a pleasing prospect yields Of verdant meads and cultivated fields; Through these a river rolls its winding flood, Adorn'd with various tufts of rising wood;
So charming was the scene, awhile the swain
Beheld delighted, and forgot his pain:
But soon the stings infix'd within his heart
With cruel force renew'd their raging smart:
His flowery wreath, which long with pride he wore,
The gift of Delia, from his brows he tore,
Then cried, "May all thy charms, ungrateful maid,
Like these neglected roses, droop and fade!
May angry Heaven deform each guilty grace,
That triumphs now in that deluding face!
Those alter'd looks may every shepherd fly,
And ev'n thy Daphnis hate thee worse than I!
"Say, thou inconstant, what has Damon done, To lose the heart his tedious pains had won? Tell me what charms you in my rival find, Against whose power no ties have strength to bind? Has he, like me, with long obedience strove To conquer your disdain, and merit love? Has he with transport every smile ador'd, And died with grief at each ungentle word? Ah, no! the conquest was obtain'd with ease; He pleas'd you, by not studying to please: His careless indolence your pride alarm'd; And, had he lov'd you more, he less had charm'd.
"O pain to think! another shall possess Those balmy lips which I was wont to press: Another on her panting breast shall lie, And catch sweet madness from her swimming eye!I saw their friendly flocks together feed, I saw them hand in hand walk o'er the mead: Would my clos'd eye had sunk in endless night, Ere I was doom'd to bear that hateful sight! Where'er they pass'd, be blasted every flower, And hungry wolves their helpless flocks devour!Ah, wretched swain, could no examples move Thy heedless heart to shun the rage of love? Hast thou not heard how poor Menalcas died A victim to Parthenia's fatal pride?
Dear was the youth to all the tuneful plain,
Lov'd by the nymphs, by Phoebus lov'd in vain:
Around his tomb their tears the Muses paid;
And all things mourn'd, but the relentless maid.
Would I could die like him, and be at peace!
These torments in the quiet grave would cease;
There my vex'd thoughts a calm repose would find,
And rest, as if my Delia still were kind.
No, let me live, her falsehood to upbraid:
Some god perhaps my just revenge will aid.-
Alas! what aid, fond swain, wouldst thou receive?
Could thy heart bear to see its Delia grieve?
Protect her, Heaven! and let her never know
The slightest part of hapless Damon's woe.
I ask no vengeance from the powers above;
All I implore is never more to love.-
Let me this fondness from my bosom tear,
Let me forget that e'er I thought her fair.
Come, cool Indifference, and heal my breast;
Wearied, at length, I seek thy downy rest:
No turbulence of passion shall destroy
My future ease with flattering hopes of joy.
Hear, mighty Pan, and, all ye sylvans, hear
What by your guardian deities I swear;
No more my eyes shall view her fatal charms,
No more I'll court the traitress to my arms:
Not all her arts my steady soul shall move,
And she shall find that reason conquers love!"
Scarce had he spoke, when through the lawn below On all her days let health and peace attend;
Alone he saw the beauteous Delia go;
At once transported, he forgot his vow,
(Such perjuries the laughing gods allow!)
Down the steep hills with ardent haste he flew;
He found her kind, and soon believ'd her true.
May she ne'er want, nor ever lose, a friend!
May some new pleasure every hour employ:
But let her Damon be her highest joy!
Yet shall its music please thy partial ear, And soothe thy breast with thoughts that once were dear;
Recall those years which Time has thrown behind,
When smiling Love with Honor shar'd thy mind:
When all thy glorious days of prosperous fight
Delighted less than one successful night.
The sweet remembrance shall thy youth restore,
Fancy again shall run past pleasures o'er;
And, while in Stowe's enchanting walks you stray,
This theme may help to cheat the summer's day.
Beneath the covert of a myrtle wood,
To Venus rais'd, a rustic altar stood.
To Venus and to Hymen, there combin'd,
In friendly league to favor human-kind.
With wanton Cupids, in that happy shade,
The gentle Virtues and mild Wisdom play'd.
Nor there in sprightly Pleasure's genial train,
Lurk'd sick Disgust, or late-repenting Pain,
Nor Force, nor Interest, join'd unwilling hands,
But Love consenting tied the blissful bands.
Thither, with glad devotion, Damon came,
To thank the powers who bless'd his faithful flame:
Two milk-white doves he on their altar laid,
And thus to both his grateful homage paid:
"Hail, bounteous god! before whose hallow'd shrine
My Delia vow'd to be for ever mine,
While, glowing in her cheeks, with tender love,
Sweet virgin-modesty reluctant strove!
And hail to thee, fair queen of young desires!
Long shall my heart preserve thy pleasing fires,
Since Delia now can all its warmth return,
As fondly languish, and as fiercely burn.
"O the dear bloom of last propitious night!
O shade more charming than the fairest light!
Then in my arms I clasp'd the melting maid,
Then all my pains one moment overpaid;
Then first the sweet excess of bliss I prov'd,
Which none can taste but who like me have lov'd.
Thou too, bright goddess, once, in Ida's grove,
Didst not disdain to meet a shepherd's love;
With him, while frisking lambs around you play'd,
Conceal'd you sported in the secret shade:
Scarce could Anchises' raptures equal mine,
And Delia's beauties only yield to thine.
"What are ye now, my once most valued joys? Insipid trifles all, and childish toysFriendship itself ne'er knew a charm like this, Nor Colin's talk could please like Delia's kiss.
"Ye Muses, skill'd in every winning art, Teach me more deeply to engage her heart; Ye nymphs, to her your freshest roses bring, And crown her with the pride of all the Spring:
"With thee, my love, for ever will I stay,
All night caress thee, and admire all day;
In the same field our mingled flocks we'll feed,
To the same spring our thirsty heifers lead,
Together will we share the harvest toils,
Together press the vine's autumnal spoils.
Delightful state, where Peace and Love combine,
To bid our tranquil days unclouded shine!
Here limpid fountains roll through flowery meads;
Here rising forests lift their verdant heads;
Here let me wear my careless life away,
And in thy arms insensibly decay.
When late old age our heads shall silver o'er
And our slow pulses dance with joy no more;
When Time no longer will thy beauties spare,
And only Damon's eye shall think thee fair;
Then may the gentle hand of welcome Death,
At one soft stroke, deprive us both of breath!
May we beneath one common stone be laid,
And the same cypress both our ashes shade!
Perhaps some friendly Muse, in tender verse
Shall deign our faithful passion to rehearse
And future ages, with just envy mov'd,
Be told how Damon and his Delia lov'd."
TO THE REVEREND DR. AYSCOUGH, AT OXFORD.
SAY, dearest friend, how roll thy hours away?
What pleasing study cheats the tedious day?
Dost thou the sacred volumes oft explore
Of wise Antiquity's immortal lore,
Where virtue, by the charms of wit refin'd,
At once exalts and polishes the mind?
How different from our modern guilty art,
Which pleases only to corrupt the heart;
Whose curst refinements odious vice adorn,
And teach to honor what we ought to scorn!
Dost thou in sage historians joy to see
How Roman greatness rose with liberty:
How the same hands that tyrants durst control
Their empire stretch'd from Atlas to the Pole;
Till wealth and conquest into slaves refin'd
The proud luxurious masters of mankind?
Dost thou in letter'd Greece each charm admire,
Each grace, each virtue, Freedom could inspire;
Yet in her troubled state see all the woes,
And all the crimes, that giddy faction knows;
Till, rent by parties, by corruption sold,
Or weakly careless, or too rashly bold,
She sunk beneath a mitigated doom,
The slave and tutoress of protecting Rome?
Does calm Philosophy her aid impart,
To guide the passions, and to mend the heart?
Taught by her precepts, hast thou learnt the end
To which alone the wise their studies bend;
For which alone by Nature were design'd
The powers of thought-to benefit mankind?
Not, like a cloister'd drone, to read and doze,
In undeserving, undeserv'd, repose;
But reason's influence to diffuse; to clear
Th' enlighten'd world of every gloomy fear;
mists of error, and unbind
pedant chains that clog the free-born mind. py who thus his leisure can employ! e knows the purest hours of tranquil joy; Nor vext with pangs that busier bosoms tear, Nor lost to social virtue's pleasing care; Safe in the port, yet laboring to sustain Those who still float on the tempestuous main.
So Locke the days of studious quiet spent ;
So Boyle in wisdom found divine content;
So Cambray, worthy of a happier doom,
The virtuous slave of Louis and of Rome.
Where ev'n mute walls are taught to flatter state,
And painted triumphs style Ambition GREAT.*
With more delight those pleasing shades I view
Where Condé from an envious court withdrew;t
Where, sick of glory, faction, power, and pride,
(Sure judge how empty all, who all had tried!)
Beneath his palms the weary chief repos'd,
And life's great scene in quiet virtue clos'd.
With shame that other fam'd retreat I see,
Adorn'd by art, disgrac'd by luxury:‡
Where Orleans wasted every vacant hour,
In the wild riot of unbounded power;
Where feverish debauch and impious love
Stain'd the mad table and the guilty grove.
With these amusements is thy friend detain'd, Pleas'd and instructed in a foreign land;
Good Wor'ster* thus supports his drooping age,
Far from court-flattery, far from party-rage;
He, who in youth a tyrant's frown defied,
Firm and intrepid on his country's side,
Her boldest champion then, and now her mildest Yet oft a tender wish recalls my mind
O generous warmth! O sanctity divine!
To emulate his worth, my friend, be thine:
Learn from his life the duties of the gown;
Learn, not to flatter, nor insult the crown;
Nor, basely servile, court the guilty great,
Nor raise the church a rival to the state:
To error mild, to vice alone severe,
Seek not to spread the law of love by fear.
The priest who plagues the world can never mend:
No foe to man was e'er to God a friend.
Let reason and let virtue faith maintain;
All force but theirs is impious, weak, and vain.
Me other cares in other climes engage,
Cares that become my birth, and suit my age;
In various knowledge to improve my youth,
And conquer prejudice, worst foe to truth;
By foreign arts domestic faults to mend,
Enlarge my notions, and my views extend;
The useful science of the world to know,
Which books can never teach, or pedants show.
A nation here I pity and admire,
Whom noblest sentiments of glory fire,
Yet taught, by custom's force and bigot fear,
To serve with pride, and boast the yoke they bear:
Whose nobles, born to cringe and to command,
(In courts a mean, in camps a generous band,)
From each low tool of power, content receive
Those laws, their dreaded arms to Europe give.
Whose people (vain in want, in bondage blest;
Though plunder'd, gay; industrious, though opprest)
With happy follies rise above their fate,
The jest and envy of each wiser state.
Yet here the Muses deign'd awhile to sport
In the short sun-shine of a favoring court;
Here Boileau, strong in sense and sharp in wit,
Who, from the ancients, like the ancients writ,
Permission gain'd inferior vice to blame,
By flattering incense to his master's fame.
Here Moliere, first of comic wits, excell'd
Whate'er Athenian theatres beheld;
By keen, yet decent, satire skill'd to please,
With morals mirth uniting, strength with ease.
Now, charm'd, I hear the bold Corneille inspire
Heroic thoughts, with Shakspeare's force and fire!
Now sweet Racine, with milder influence, move
The soften'd heart to pity and to love.
With mingled pain and pleasure, I survey The pompous works of arbitrary sway; Proud palaces, that drain'd the subjects' store, Rais'd on the ruins of th' opprest and poor;
From present joys to dearer left behind.
O native isle, fair Freedom's happiest seat!
At thought of thee, my bounding pulses beat;
At thought of thee, my heart impatient burns,
And all my country on my soul returns.
When shall I see thy fields, whose plenteous grain
No power can ravish from th' industrious swain!
When kiss, with pious love, the sacred earth
That gave a Burleigh or a Russell birth?
When, in the shade of laws, that long have stood,
Propt by their care, or strengthen'd by their blood
Of fearless independence wisely vain,
The proudest slave of Bourbon's race disdain?
Yet, oh! what doubt, what sad presaging voice,
Whispers within, and bids me not rejoice;
Bids me contemplate every state around,
From sultry Spain to Norway's icy bound;
Bids their lost rights, their ruin'd glory see:
And tells me, "These, like England, once were free!