The ENTHUSIAST: OR THE LOVER of NATURE.
Rure vero barbaroque laetatur.MARTIAL.
— Ut! mihi devio
Rupes, & vacuum nemus
1 YE green-rob'd Dryads, oft' at dusky eve
2 By wondering shepherds seen, to forests brown,
3 To unfrequented meads, and pathless wilds,
4 Lead me from gardens deck'd with art's vain pomps.
5 Can gilt alcoves, can marble-mimic gods,
6 Parterres embroider'd, obelisks, and urns
7 Of high relief; can the long, spreading lake,
8 Or vista lessening to the sight; can Stow,
9 With all her Attic fanes, such raptures raise,
10 As the thrush-haunted copse, where lightly leaps
11 The fearful fawn the rustling leaves along,[Page 100]
12 And the brisk squirrel sports from bough to bough,
13 While from an hollow oak, whose naked roots
14 O'erhang a pensive rill, the busy bees
15 Hum drowsy lullabies? The bards of old,
16 Fair Nature's friends, sought such retreats, to charm
17 Sweet Echo with their songs; oft' too they met
18 In summer evenings, near sequester'd bow'rs,
19 Or mountain-nymph, or muse, and eager learnt
20 The moral strains she taught to mend mankind.
21 As to a secret grot Aegeria stole
22 With patriot Numa, and in silent night
23 Whisper'd him sacred laws, he list'ning sat
24 Rapt with her virtuous voice, old Tyber lean'd
25 Attentive on his urn, and hush'd his waves.
26 Rich in her weeping country's spoils Versailles
27 May boast a thousand fountains, that can cast
28 The tortur'd waters to the distant heav'ns;
29 Yet let me choose some pine-topt precipice
30 Abrupt and shaggy, whence a foamy stream,
31 Like Anio, tumbling roars; or some black heath,
32 Where straggling stands the mournful juniper,
33 Or yew-tree scath'd; while in clear prospect round,
34 From the grove's bosom spires emerge, and smoak
35 In bluish wreaths ascends, ripe harvests wave,
36 Low, lonely cottages, and ruin'd tops
37 Of Gothick battlements appear, and streams
38 Beneath the sun-beams twinkle. — The shrill lark,
39 That wakes the wood-man to his early task,[Page 101]
40 Or love-sick Philomel, whose luscious lays
41 Sooth lone night-wanderers, the moaning dove
42 Pitied by listening milk-maid, far excel
43 The deep-mouth viol, the soul-lulling lute,
44 And battle-breathing trumpet. Artful sounds!
45 That please not like the choristers of air,
46 When first they hail th' approach of laughing May.
47 Can Kent design like Nature? Mark where Thames
48 Plenty and pleasure pours thro'g
g The earl of Lincoln's terrace at Weybridge in Surrey. Lincoln's meads;
49 Can the great artist, tho' with taste supreme
50 Endu'd, one beauty to this Eden add?
51 Tho' he, by rules unfetter'd, boldly scorns
52 Formality and Method, round and square
53 Disdaining, plans irregularly great.
54 Creative Titian, can thy vivid strokes,
55 Or thine, O graceful Raphael, dare to vie
56 With the rich tints that paint the breathing mead?
57 The thousand-colour'd tulip, violet's bell
58 Snow-clad and meek, the vermil-tinctur'd rose,
59 And golden crocus? — Yet with these the maid,
60 Phillis or Phoebe at a feast or wake,
61 Her jetty locks enamels; fairer she,
62 In innocence and home-spun vestments dress'd,
63 Than if coerulean saphires at her ears
64 Shone pendent, or a precious diamond-cross
65 Heav'd gently on her panting bosom white.
66 Yon' shepherd idly stretch'd on the rude rock,
67 Listening to dashing waves, and sea mews' clang
68 High-hovering o'er his head, who views beneath
69 The dolphin dancing o'er the level brine,
70 Feels more true bliss than the proud ammiral,
71 Amid his vessels bright with burnish'd gold
72 And silken streamers, tho' his lordly nod
73 Ten thousand war-worn mariners revere.
74 And great Aeneash
h Aeneid VIII. gaz'd with more delight
75 On the rough mountain shagg'd with horrid shades,
76 (Where cloud-compelling Jove, as fancy dream'd,
77 Descending shook his direful Aegis black)
78 Than if he enter'd the high Capitol
79 On golden columns rear'd, a conquer'd world
80 Exhausted, to enrich its stately head.
81 More pleas'd he slept in poor Evander's cott
82 On shaggy skins, lull'd by sweet nightingales,
83 Than if a Nero, in an age refin'd,
84 Beneath a gorgeous canopy had plac'd
85 His royal guest, and bade his minstrels sound
86 Soft slumb'rous Lydian airs, to sooth his rest.
i See Lucretius, lib. V. Happy the first of men, ere yet confin'd
88 To smoaky cities; who in sheltering groves,
89 Warm caves, and deep-sunk vallies liv'd and lov'd,
90 By cares unwounded; what the sun and showers,[Page 103]
91 And genial earth untillag'd could produce,
92 They gather'd grateful, or the acorn brown,
93 Or blushing berry; by the liquid lapse
94 Of murm'ring waters call'd to slake their thirst,
95 Or with fair nymphs their sun-brown limbs to bathe;
96 With nymphs who fondly clasp'd their fav'rite youths,
97 Unaw'd by shame, beneath the beechen shade,
98 Nor wiles, nor artificial coyness knew.
99 Then doors and walls were not; the melting maid
100 Nor frowns of parents fear'd, nor husband's threats;
101 Nor had curs'd gold their tender hearts allur'd:
102 Then beauty was not venal. Injur'd love,
103 O whither, god of raptures, art thou fled?
104 While Avarice waves his golden wand around,
105 Abhorr'd magician, and his costly cup
106 Prepares with baneful drugs, t' enchant the souls
107 Of each low-thoughted fair to wed for gain.
108 In earth's first infancy (as sung thek
k Lucretius. bard,
109 Who strongly painted what he boldly thought)
110 Tho' the fierce north oft smote with iron whip
111 Their shiv'ring limbs, tho' oft the bristly boar
112 Or hungry lion 'woke them with their howls,
113 And scar'd them from their moss-grown caves to rove
114 Houseless and cold in dark tempestuous nights;
115 Yet were not myriads in embattel'd fields
116 Swept off at once, nor had the raging seas
117 O'erwhelm'd the found'ring bark and shrieking crew;[Page 104]
118 In vain the glassy ocean smil'd to tempt
119 The jolly sailor unsuspecting harm,
120 For commerce ne'er had spread her swelling sails,
121 Nor had the wond'ring Nereids ever heard
122 The dashing oar: then famine, want, and pine,
123 Sunk to the grave their fainting limbs; but us,
124 Diseaseful dainties, riot and excess,
125 And feverish luxury destroy. In brakes,
126 Or marshes wild unknowingly they crop'd
127 Herbs of malignant juice; to realms remote
128 While we for powerful poisons madly roam,
129 From every noxious herb collecting death.
130 What tho' unknown to those primaeval sires
131 The well-arch'd dome, peopled with breathing forms
132 By fair Italia's skilful hand, unknown
133 The shapely column, and the crumbling busts
134 Of aweful ancestors in long descent?
135 Yet why should man mistaken deem it nobler
136 To dwell in palaces, and high-roof'd halls,
137 Than in God's forests, architect supreme!
138 Say, is the Persian carpet, than the field's
139 Or meadow's mantle gay, more richly wov'n;
140 Or softer to the votaries of ease
141 Than bladed grass, perfum'd with dew-dropt flow'rs?
142 O taste corrupt! that luxury and pomp,
143 In specious names of polish'd manners veil'd,
144 Should proudly banish Nature's simple charms!
145 All-beauteous Nature! by thy boundless charms
146 Oppress'd, O where shall I begin thy praise,[Page 105]
147 Where turn th' ecstatic eye, how ease my breast
148 That pants with wild astonishment and love!
149 Dark forests, and the op'ning lawn, refresh'd
150 With ever-gushing brooks, hill, meadow, dale,
151 The balmy bean-field, the gay-clover'd close,
152 So sweetly interchang'd, the lowing ox,
153 The playful lamb, the distant water-fall
154 Now faintly heard, now swelling with the breeze,
155 The sound of pastoral reed from hazel-bower,
156 The choral birds, the neighing steed, that snuffs
157 His dappled mate, stung with intense desire,
158 The ripen'd orchard when the ruddy orbs
159 Betwixt the green leaves blush, the azure skies,
160 The chearful sun that thro' earth's vitals pours
161 Delight and health and heat; all, all conspire,
162 To raise, to sooth, to harmonize the mind,
163 To lift on wings of praise, to the great Sire
164 Of being and of beauty, at whose nod
165 Creation started from the gloomy vault
166 Of dreary Chaos, while the griesly king
167 Murmur'd to feel his boisterous power confin'd.
168 What are the lays of artful Addison,
169 Coldly correct, to Shakespear's warblings wild?
170 Whom on the winding Avon's willow'd banks
171 Fair Fancy found, and bore the smiling babe
172 To a close cavern: (still the shepherds shew
173 The sacred place, whence with religious awe
174 They hear, returning from the field at eve,[Page 106]
175 Strange whisp'rings of sweet musick thro' the air)
176 Here, as with honey gather'd from the rock,
177 She fed the little prattler, and with songs
178 Oft' sooth'd his wand'ring ears, with deep delight
179 On her soft lap he sat, and caught the sounds.
180 Oft near some crowded city would I walk,
181 Listening the far-off noises, rattling cars,
182 Loud shouts of joy, sad shrieks of sorrow, knells
183 Full slowly tolling, instruments of trade,
184 Striking mine ears with one deep-swelling hum.
185 Or wand'ring near the sea, attend the sounds
186 Of hollow winds, and ever-beating waves,
187 Ev'n when wild tempests swallow up the plains,
188 And Boreas' blasts, big hail, and rains combine
189 To shake the groves and mountains, would I sit,
190 Pensively musing on th' outrageous crimes
191 That wake heav'n's vengeance: at such solemn hours,
192 Daemons and goblins thro' the dark air shriek,
193 While Hecat, with her black-brow'd sisters nine,
194 Rides o'er the earth, and scatters woes and death.
195 Then too, they say, in dear Aegyptian wilds
196 The lion and the tiger prowl for prey
197 With roarings loud! the list'ning traveller
198 Starts fear-struck, while the hollow-echoing vaults
199 Of pyramids increase the deathful sounds.
200 But let me never fail in cloudless nights,
201 When silent Cynthia in her silver car
202 Thro' the blue concave slides, when shine the hills,[Page 107]
203 Twinkle the streams, and woods look tip'd with gold,
204 To seek some level mead, and there invoke
205 Old Midnight's sister Contemplation sage,
206 (Queen of the rugged brow, and stern-fixt eye)
207 To lift my soul above this little earth,
208 This folly-fetter'd world: to purge my ears,
209 That I may hear the rolling planet's song,
210 And tuneful turning spheres: if this debarr'd.
211 The little Fayes that dance in neighbouring dales,
212 Sipping the night-dew, while they laugh and love,
213 Shall charm me with aërial notes. — As thus
214 I wander musing, lo, what aweful forms
215 Yonder appear! sharp-ey'd Philosophy
216 Clad in dun robes, an eagle on his wrist,
217 First meets my eye; next, virgin Solitude
218 Serene, who blushes at each gazer's sight;
219 Then Wisdom's hoary head, with crutch in hand,
220 Trembling, and bent with age; last Virtue's self
221 Smiling, in white array'd, who with her leads
222 Sweet Innocence, that prattles by her side,
223 A naked boy! — Harrass'd with fear I stop,
224 I gaze, when Virtue thus — 'Whoe'er thou art,
225 'Mortal, by whom I deign to be beheld
226 'In these my midnight-walks; depart, and say
227 'That henceforth I and my immortal train
228 'Forsake Britannia's isle; who fondly stoops
229 'To Vice, her favourite paramour.' — She spoke,
230 And as she turn'd, her round and rosy neck,[Page 108]
231 Her flowing train, and long ambrosial hair,
232 Breathing rich odours, I enamour'd view.
233 O who will bear me then to western climes,
234 (Since Virtue leaves our wretched land) to fields
235 Yet unpolluted with Iberian swords:
236 The isles of innocence, from mortal view
237 Deeply retir'd, beneath a plantane's shade,
238 Where Happiness and Quiet sit enthron'd,
239 With simple Indian swains, that I may hunt
240 The boar and tiger thro' Savannah's wild,
241 Thro' fragrant desarts, and thro' citron-groves.
242 There fed on dates and herbs, would I despise
243 The far-fetch'd cates of Luxury, and hoards
244 Of narrow-hearted Avarice; nor heed
245 The distant din of the tumultuous world.
246 So when rude whirlwinds rouze the roaring main,
247 Beneath fair Thetis sits, in choral caves,
248 Serenely gay, nor sinking sailors' cries
249 Disturb her sportive nymphs, who round her form
250 The light fantastick dance, or for her hair
251 Weave rosy crowns, or with according lutes
252 Grace the soft warbles of her honied voice.