TO MISS B— F—.
1 NOR Phoebus, nor his tuneful choir,
2 To notes poetic wake my string:
3 A mortal Muse demands my lyre,
4 O, were she present while I sing!
5 To soar aloft, beyond the ken
6 Of human eyes, let others boast:
7 'Tis BETSY that directs my pen;
8 My verse, not seen by her, were lost.
9 No longer prate, ye critics vain,
10 That poets are not made, but born:
11 If BETSY smile upon the strain,
12 Your censure's keenest lash I scorn.
13 Yet were my creeping Muse to soar,
14 Sure Reason's good might still be given:
15 STUDLEY was Paradise before;
16 But BETSY's presence made it heaven. —
17 O for a quill pluck'd from the eagle-wing
18 Of bright Imagination, first of Powers!
19 Then might my earth-born Muse aspire to sing
20 Strains not unworthy STUDLEY's charming bowers.
21 Come, Nymph, and with thee, Memory, kind maid,
22 The sweet remembrancer of pleasures past:
23 How there with BETSY hand in hand I stray'd.
24 Ay me, such pleasures were too great to last!
25 She comes, she comes! enthron'd in F—'s eyes,
26 She deigns to smile on such a wretch as me:
27 Her fostering art its kindly aid supplies,
28 And from gross film my visual nerve sets free.
29 Conduct me, Goddess, to that blest retreat,
30 In union fair, where all the Graces join;
31 Where Elegance has fix'd her best-lov'd seat,
32 And Taste and Nature every power combine.
33 And lo! the Park first opens to the view!
34 Mark well its verdant hills, its flowery dells:
35 Not Windsor-forest nobler scenes can shew;
36 Not Stowe, where Cobham dwelt, where Temple dwells.
37 The curious eye, intranc'd in wonder, sees
38 Here gurgling streamlets tremble thro' the shade;
39 Here nimble squirrels gambol in the trees,
40 There bounding fawns trip wanton thro' the glade.
41 Look back on Rippon's venerable pile!
42 There cloistered Monks their nightly vespers sung,
43 While thro' the solemn, gloomy, Gothic aile,
44 The hollow vaults responsive echoes rung.
45 See slopes on slopes th' enchanting prospect bound,
46 Nor knows the dubious Fancy where to rest:
47 New sweets invite above, below, around;
48 Giddy with rapture, she scarce feels she's blest.
49 The gates fly ope! Elysium stands confest,
50 And bursts upon us in a blaze of charms;
51 E'en such a transport throbs in Damon's breast,
52 When yielding Chloe melts into his arms.
53 No more, ye gaudy poets, deck with flowers
54 Your fairy gardens on the Western shore,
55 Or add fresh bloom to fam'd Alcinous' bowers;
56 Vain Greece, thy fabled Tempe boast no more.
57 Whate'er creation form'd, or rules could frame,
58 Refin'd or simple, natural or new,
59 Compound together. Can it need a name?
60 View STUDLEY's lawns, and own the picture true.
61 Where to begin? where end? the labouring soul,
62 Lost and bewilder'd in a world of sweets,
63 Vainly attempts at once to grasp the whole;
64 Such various joy its various senses greets.
65 Ambrosial scents the ravish'd smell regale;
66 Each shrub around a balmy odour flings:
67 Such as Arabia's spicy groves exhale,
68 Wafted by Zephyrs on their rosy wings.
69 The birds salute us with their artless notes,
70 The bulfinch, linnet, nightingale, and thrush;
71 Wild harmony, strain'd thro' a thousand throats,
72 Trills in each tree, and dies in every bush.
73 Proud to adorn the pendent shades it laves,
74 Seest thou that lake its heaving bosom swell?
75 In headlong sheets pour its enamour'd waves,
76 Amidst such beauties well content to dwell?
77 But other waves to other waves succeed,
78 Coursing each other to the seat they love;
79 With eager haste they glide along the mead,
80 And murmuring struggle thro' the grot above.
81 Retir'd from publick haunt oneu
u The Banqueting-house. structure stands,
82 Sacred to Comus and his festive train;
83 Where genial Freedom unrestrain'd commands,
84 Where none are strangers deem'd but Care and Pain.
85 All elegance and ease, without, within,
86 They bid defiance to the frowns of Fate;
87 Nor care what man goes out, or who comes in,
88 Whirl'd in the topsy-turvy wheel of state.
89 Climb we yon lofty summit, crown'd with wood,
90 The quivering poplar, the wide-branching oak,
91 The taper fir, the ash, for all things good.
92 Long may they, long defy the woodman's stroke.
93 Here rest we then — and each way turn our eyes;
94 No where our eyes an empty chasm can find;
95 Domes, temples, obelisks at each point arise;
96 We half forget the wonders left behind.
97 Objects at every point our sight invade,
98 Yet the keen judgment finds not where to chide:
99 AISLABIE still calls Nature to his aid,
100 Nor makes a sacrifice of sense to pride.
101 But can we then that ruined, reverendx
x Fountain's Abbey. tower,
102 Leave undistinguish'd 'midst the common throng,
103 There many a hoary devotee of yore
104 Awak'd the sky-lark with his early song.
105 What tho' the lazy bat and screech owl dire
106 Reign sole possessors of the gloomy fane?
107 Souls once were there, in whom poetic fire
108 Beat in each pulse, and glow'd in every vein.
109 Observe its mouldering base and moss-grown head
110 Threaten its final dissolution nigh!
111 To man what better lesson can be read?
112 What moralist can better teach to die?
113 Ah! let us, ere the fatal die be cast,
114 Think well (for surely one day think we must)
115 That stately STUDLEY's pride must fall at last,
116 And lovely BETSY's form submit to dust!