The INVITATION: To MISS B—.
Hic gelidi fontes, hic mollia prata, Lycori,
Hic nemus: hic ipso tecum consumerer aevo.
1 HEALTH to my friend, and long unbroken years,
2 By storms unruffled and unstain'd by tears:
3 Wing'd by new joys may each white minute fly;
4 Spring on her cheek, and sunshine in her eye:
5 O'er that dear breast, where love and pity springs,
6 May peace eternal spread her downy wings:[Page 14]
7 Sweet beaming hope her path illumine still,
8 And fair ideas all her fancy fill.
9 From glittering scenes which strike the dazzled sight
10 With mimic grandeur and illusive light,
11 From idle hurry, and tumultous noise,
12 From hollow friendships, and from sickly joys,
13 Will DELIA, at the muse's call retire
14 To the pure pleasures rural scenes inspire?
15 Will she from crowds and busy cities fly,
16 Where wreaths of curling smoke involve the sky,
17 To taste the grateful shade of spreading trees,
18 And drink the spirit of the mountain breeze?
19 When winter's hand the rough'ning year deforms,
20 And hollow winds foretel approaching storms,
21 Then Pleasure, like a bird of passage, flies
22 To brighter climes, and more indulgent skies;
23 Cities and courts allure her sprightly train,[Page 15]
24 From the bleak mountain and the naked plain;
25 And gold and gems with artificial blaze,
26 Supply the sickly sun's declining rays:
27 But soon returning on the western gale
28 She seeks the bosom of the grassy vale;
29 There, wrapt in careless ease, attunes the lyre
30 To the wild warblings of the woodland quire;
31 The daisied turf her humble throne supplies,
32 And early primroses around her rise.
33 We'll follow where the smiling goddess leads,
34 Thro' tangled forests or enamel'd meads;
35 O'er pathless hills her airy form we'll chase,
36 In silent glades her fairy footsteps trace:
37 Small pains there needs her footsteps to pursue,
38 She cannot fly from friendship, and from you.
39 Now the glad earth her frozen zone unbinds,
40 And o'er her bosom breathe the western winds:
41 Already now the snow-drop dares appear,[Page 16]
42 The first pale blossom of th' unripen'd year;
43 As FLORA's breath, by some transforming power,
44 Had chang'd an icicle into a flower:
45 Its name, and hue, the scentless plant retains,
46 And winter lingers in its icy veins.
47 To these succeed the violet's dusky blue,
48 And each inferior flower of fainter hue;
49 Till riper months the perfect year disclose,
50 And FLORA cries exulting, See my Rose!
51 The Muse invites, my DELIA haste away,
52 And let us sweetly waste the careless day.
53 Here gentle summits lift their airy brow;
54 Down the green slope here winds the labouring plow;
55 Here bath'd by frequent show'rs cool vales are seen,
56 Cloath'd with fresh verdure, and eternal green;
57 Here smooth canals, across th' extended plain,
58 Stretch their long arms, to join the distant main:[Page 17]
59 The sons of toil with many a weary stroke
60 Scoop the hard bosom of the solid rock;
61 Resistless thro' the stiff opposing clay
62 With steady patience work their gradual way;
63 Compel the genius of th' unwilling flood
64 Thro' the brown horrors of the aged wood;
65 Cross the lone waste the silver urn they pour,
66 And chear the barren heath or sullen moor:
67 The traveller with pleasing wonder sees
68 The white sail gleaming thro' the dusky trees;
69 And views the alter'd landscape with surprise,
70 And doubts the magic scenes which round him rise.
71 Now, like a flock of swans, above his head
72 Their woven wings the flying vessels spread;
73 Now meeting streams in artful mazes glide,
74 While each unmingled pours a separate tide;
75 Now through the hidden veins of earth they flow,
76 And visit sulphurous mines and caves below;[Page 18]
77 The ductile streams obey the guiding hand,
78 And social plenty circles round the land.
79 But nobler praise awaits our green retreats;
80 The Muses here have fixt their sacred seats.
81 Mark where its simple front yon mansion rears,
82 The nursery of men for future years:
83 Here callow chiefs and embryo statesmen lie,
84 And unfledg'd poets short excursions try:
85 While Mersey's gentle current, which too long
86 By fame neglected, and unknown to song,
87 Between his rushy banks, (no poet's theme)
88 Had crept inglorious, like a vulgar stream,
89 Reflects th' ascending seats with conscious pride,
90 And dares to emulate a classic tide.
91 Soft music breathes along each op'ning shade,
92 And sooths the dashing of his rough cascade.
93 With mystic lines his sands are figur'd o'er,[Page 19]
94 And circles trac'd upon the letter'd shore.
95 Beneath his willows rove th' inquiring youth,
96 And court the fair majestic form of truth.
97 Here nature opens all her secret springs,
98 And heav'n-born science plumes her eagle wings:
99 Too long had bigot rage, with malice swell'd,
100 Crush'd her strong pinions, and her flight witheld;
101 Too long to check her ardent progress strove:
102 So writhes the serpent round the bird of Jove;
103 Hangs on her flight, restrains her tow'ring wing,
104 Twists its dark folds, and points its venom'd sting.
105 Yet still (if aught aright the Muse divine)
106 Her rising pride shall mock the vain design;
107 On sounding pinions yet aloft shall soar,
108 And thro' the azure deep untravel'd paths explore.
109 Where science smiles, the Muses join the train;
110 And gentlest arts and purest manners reign.
111 Ye generous youth who love this studious shade,[Page 20]
112 How rich a field is to your hopes display'd!
113 Knowledge to you unlocks the classic page;
114 And virtue blossoms for a better age.
115 Oh golden days! oh bright unvalued hours!
116 What bliss (did ye but know that bliss) were yours?
117 With richest stores your glowing bosoms fraught,
118 Perception quick, and luxury of thought;
119 The high designs that heave the labouring soul,
120 Panting for fame, impatient of controul;
121 And fond enthusiastic thought, that feeds
122 On pictur'd tales of vast heroic deeds;
123 And quick affections, kindling into flame
124 At virtue's, or their country's honour'd name;
125 And spirits light to every joy in tune;
126 And friendship ardent as a summer's noon;
127 And generous scorn of vice's venal tribe;
128 And proud disdain of interest's sordid bribe;
129 And conscious honour's quick instinctive sense;[Page 21]
130 And smiles unforc'd; and easy confidence;
131 And vivid fancy; and clear simple truth;
132 And all the mental bloom of vernal youth.
133 How bright the scene to fancy's eye appears,
134 Thro' the long perspective of distant years,
135 When this, this little group their country calls
136 From academic shades and learned halls,
137 To fix her laws, her spirit to sustain,
138 And light up glory thro' her wide domain!
139 Their various tastes in different arts display'd,
140 Like temper'd harmony of light and shade,
141 With friendly union in one mass shall blend,
142 And this adorn the state, and that defend.
143 These the sequester'd shade shall cheaply please,
144 With learned labour, and inglorious ease:
145 While those, impell'd by some resistless force,
146 O'er seas and rocks shall urge their vent'rous course;[Page 22]
147 Rich fruits matur'd by glowing suns behold,
148 And China's groves of vegetable gold;
149 From every land the various harvest spoil,
150 And bear the tribute to their native soil:
151 But tell each land (while every toil they share,
152 Firm to sustain, and resolute to dare,)
153 MAN is the nobler growth our realms supply,
154 And SOULS are ripen'd in our northern sky.
155 Some pensive creep along the shelly shore;
156 Unfold the silky texture of a flower;
157 With sharpen'd eyes inspect an hornet's sting,
158 And all the wonders of an insect's wing.
159 Some trace with curious search the hidden cause
160 Of nature's changes, and her various laws;
161 Untwist her beauteous web, disrobe her charms,
162 And hunt her to her elemental forms:
163 Or prove what hidden powers in herbs are found[Page 23]
164 To quench disease and staunch the burning wound;
165 With cordial drops the fainting head sustain,
166 Call back the flitting soul, and still the throbs of pain.
167 The patriot passion this shall strongly feel,
168 Ardent, and glowing with undaunted zeal;
169 With lips of fire shall plead his country's cause,
170 And vindicate the majesty of laws.
171 This cloath'd with Britain's thunder, spread alarms
172 Thro' the wide earth, and shake the pole with arms.
173 That to the sounding lyre his deeds rehearse,
174 Enshrine his name in some immortal verse,
175 To long posterity his praise consign,
176 And pay a life of hardships by a line.
177 While others, consecrate to higher aims,
178 Whose hallow'd bosoms glow with purer flames,
179 Love in their heart, persuasion in their tongue,
180 With words of peace shall charm the list'ning throng,[Page 24]
181 Draw the dread veil that wraps th' eternal throne,
182 And launch our souls into the bright unknown.
183 Here cease my song. Such arduous themes require
184 A master's pencil, and a poet's fire:
185 Unequal far such bright designs to paint,
186 Too weak her colours, and her lines too faint,
187 My drooping Muse folds up her fluttering wing,
188 And hides her head in the green lap of spring.