Cowley, Mrs. (Hannah), 1743-1809. The Scottish village: or, Pitcairne Green. A poem. By Mrs. Cowley. London: printed for G. G. J. and J. Robinson, in Paternoster-Row. MDCCLXXXVII., 1787. viii,23,[1]p.; 4⁰. (ESTC T128955; OTA K102562.000)







    READING the paper lately at breakfast, I saw an account of the splendid ceremonies used at Pitcairne Green, in Scotland, on marking the boundaries of an extensive village to be erected on that spot, for the purpose of introducing the Lancashire manufactures. These ceremonies were assisted by all the persons of consequence, of each sex, in that part of the kingdom; — amongst the Ladies were Mrs. Graham, Lady C. Graham, &c. &c. As my eye ran it over, it dropt a tear on the passage. It must have appeared ridiculous enough, for there was certainly nothing very moving in it: — however, I have ventured to give both the tear and the feelings which made it start, to the Genius of the place. I wrote merely to appease my sensations; and having written (according to the old story) my friends[Page vi] advised me to publish; and they are obeyed. If the public should not find the trifle interesting, they will at least do it the justice to let it slide into oblivion, and forgive (I trust) the few hours the composition cost me.

    The little work has not been without its difficulties. My canvas was to hint a Landscape — a Landscape in a country which I had never seen. The accounts presented by travellers might be false, or they might be invidious, yet they were to govern me! Notwithstanding I yielded to this, images very dissimilar crouded to my pen; the prospects of Devon — dear native scenes! were for ever before me; and all my recollection was necessary, to prevent the tears of Dryades from falling for the loss of their shades, and the Nightingale from pouring its regrets, that its ancient habitations were invaded.

    Had the scite of the intended village been in that province, description would have had room to range; — fancy might have rioted, and the most luxuriant imagination sated itself. There, a poet might have led his readers through verdant lanes (for so in other counties Devon's turnpikes would be named) where the high hedges composed of hawthorn, sweet-brier, myrtle,[Page vii] and a thousand flowers, effectually screens the traveller from the most sultry sun, — there, through the breaks, a country presents itself, all enchantment! and where, if the Cottager did not boast views as delightful as the Nabob and the Patrician, the whole province might be mistaken for one vast artificial pleasure-ground. Whilst the ear is filled with all the music, poured from the throats of the goldfinch, the blackbird, and the thrush, the eye incessantly wanders over painted meads, and roves from hill to dale — rests on the soft foliage of sloping woods, and pursues the serpentine of pellucid rivers; — beholds fields of burnished corn waving like a golden sea, to the tremulous breeze; and orchards loaden with such fruit, as makes the story of the Hesperides scarcely seem a fable.

    This little sketch (literal, not poetical) is for the information of those of my friends in Scotland, who have not yet crossed the Tweed; and to suggest to them when they do, not to return persuaded of having seen the landscapes of England, unless they have travelled through Dorsetshire, Somerset, and DEVON.

    [Page viii]

    It has been told to me, that this village, and Doctor Goldsmith's will be contrasted — I earnestly deprecate so fatal a comparison! Goldsmith's is the poem of a Politician, and soars with a strong wing! — mine is a butterfly fluttering over the field, and here and there reposing on a cowslip, or a daisey. That was defended from criticism by its magnitude; may this find safety in its littleness!

    H. COWLEY.
  • To those who may think the measure in which the poem is written, needs an excuse, the following is offered.

    The alternate verse of ten syllables, has been pronounced by Dryden, whose knowledge of English metre was not inconsiderable, to be the most perfect of all the measures which our language affords.
  • The DRAMATIC WORKS of Mrs. COWLEY, consisting of the following Pieces, viz.

    • I. The RUNAWAY. A Comedy. Price 1s. 6 d.
    • II. ALBINA, A Tragedy. Price 1s. 6 d.
    • III. WHO's THE DUPE? A Farce. Price 1s.
    • IV. BELLE's STRATAGEM. A Comedy. Price 1s. 6 d.
    • V. WHICH IS THE MAN? A Comedy. Price 1s. 6 d.
    • VI. BOLD STROKE FOR A HUSBAND. A Comedy. Price 1s. 6 d.
    • VII. MORE WAYS THAN ONE. A Comedy. Price 1s. 6 d.
    • VIII. First Part of THE MAID OF ARRAGON. A Poem. Quarto. Price 2s. 6 d.

    May be had of Messrs. G. G. J. and J. ROBINSON, in Pater-noster-Row.