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“ 'Twas from Philosophy man learn'd to tame
The soil, by plenty to intemperance fed.
Lo, from the echoing axe, and thundering flame,
Poison and plague and yelling rage are fled !
The waters, bursting from their slimy bed,
Bring health and melody to every vale:
And, from the breezy main, and mountain's head,
Ceres and Flora, to the sunny dale,
To fan their glowing charms, invite the fluttering
• What dire necessities on every hand
Our art, our strength, our fortitude require !
Of foes intestine what a numerous band
Against this little throb of life conspire !
Yet Science can elude their fatal ire
Awhile, and turn aside Death's levell’d dart,
Soothe the sharp pang, allay the fever's fire,
And brace the nerves once more, and cheer the heart,
And yet a few soft nights and balmy days impart.
• Nor less to regulate man's moral frame
Science exerts her all-composing sway.
Flutters thy breast with fear, or pants for fame,
Or pines, to indolence and spleen a prey,
Or avarice, a fiend more fierce than they?
Flee to the shade of Academus'
grove; Where cares molest not, discord melts away In harmony, and the pure passions prove [of Love, How sweet the words of Truth, breathed from the lips “What cannot Art and Industry perform, When Science plans the progress of their toil! They smile at penury, disease, and storm; And oceans from their mighty mounds recoil. When tyrants scourge, or demagogues embroil A land, or when the rabble's headlong rage Order transforms to anarchy and spoil, Deep-versed in man the philosophic sage Prepares with lepient hand their frenzy to assuage. « 'Tis he alone, whose comprehensive mind, From situation, temper, soil, and clime Explored, a nation's various powers can bind, And various orders, in one form sublime Of policy, that midst the wrecks of time,
Secure shall lift its heads on high, nor fear
Th' assault of foreign or domestic crime,
While public faith, and public love sincere,
And industry and law maintain their sway severe.'
Enraptured by the hermit's strain, the youth
Proceeds the path of Science to explore.
And now, expanded to the beam of truth,
New energies and charms unknown before
His mind discloses : Fancy now no more
Wantons on fickle pinion through the skies;
But, fix'd in aim, and conscious of her power,
Aloft from cause to cause exults to rise,
Creation's blended stores arranging as she flies.
Nor love of novelty alone inspires
Their laws and nice dependencies to scan ;
For, mindful of the aids that life requires,
And of the services man owes to man,
He meditate's new arts on Nature's plan ;
The cold desponding breast of sloth to warm,
The flame of industry and genius fan,
And emulation's noble rage alarm,
And the long hours of toil and solitude to charm.
But she, who set on fire his infant heart,
And all his dreams, and all his wanderings shared
And blessed, the Muse, and her celestial art,
Still claim th’ enthusiast's fond and first regard.
From Nature's beauties variously compared
And variously combined, he learns to frame
Those forms of bright perfection,* which the bard,
While boundless hopes and boundless views inflame,
Enamour'd consecrates to never-dying fame.
Of late, with cumbersome, though poinpous show,
Edwin would oft his flowery rhyme deface,
Through ardour to adorn ; but Nature now
To his experienced eye a modest grace
Presents, where ornament the second place
Holds, to intrinsic worth and just design
Subservient still. Simplicity apace
Tempers his rage: he owns her charm divine, [line.
And clears th' ambiguous phrase, and lops th’unwieldy
* See Aristotle's Poetics, and the Discourses of Sir Joshua
Fain would I sing (much yet unsung remains)
What sweet delirium o'er his bosom stole,
When the great shepherd of the Mantuan plains*
His deep majestic melody 'gan roll:
Fain would I sing what transport storm'd his soul,
How the red current throbb'd his veins along,
When, like Pelides, bold beyond control,
Without art graceful, without effort strong,
Homer raised high to Heaven the loud, th' impetuous
And how his lyre, though rude her first essays,
Now skill'd to soothe, to triumph, to complain,
Warbling at will through each harmonious maze,
Was taught to modulate the artful strain,
I fain would sing: but ah! I strive in vain.
Sighs from a breaking heart my voice confound;
With trembling step, to join yon weeping train
I haste, where gleams funereal glare around,
And mix'd with shrieks of woe, the knells of death
resound. Adieu, ye lays, that Fancy's flowers adorn, The soft amusement of the vacant mind! He sleeps in dust, and all the Muses mourn, He, whom each virtue fired, each grace refined, Friend, teacher, pattern, darling of mankind ! He sleeps in dust. Ah, how shall I pursue My theme! To heart-consuming grief resign'd, Here on his recent grave I fix my view, And pour my bitter tears. Ye flowery lays, adieu ! Art thou, my Gregory, for ever filed! And am I left to unavailing woe! When fortune's storms assail this weary head, Where cares long since have shed untimely snow! Ah, now for comfort whither shall I go ! No more thy soothing voice my anguish cheers : Thy placid eyes with smiles no longer glow, My hopes to cherish and allay my fears. 'Tis meet that I should mourn : flow forth afresh, my
NOW REVISED AND CORRECTED, FOR THE
WITH EVERY SENTIMENT OF ESTEEM AND
MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED,
January, 1777. HAVING lately seen in print some poems ascribed to me which I never wrote, and some of my own inaccurately copied, I thought it would not be improper to publish, in this little volume, all the verses of which I am willing to be considered as the author. Many others I did indeed write in the early part of my life; but they were in gene. ral so incorrect, that I would not rescue them from obli. vion, even if a wish could do it.
Some of the few now offered to the public would perhaps have been suppressed, if in making this collection I had implicitly followed my own judgment. But in so small a matter, who would refuse to submit his opinion to that of a friend?
It is of no consequence to the reader to know the date of any of these little poems. But some private reasons de termined the author to add, that most of them were written many years ago, and that the greater part of the Minstrel, which is his latest attempt in this way, was composed in the year 1768.