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An EPISTLE from S. J. Esq; in the Country, to the Right Hon. the Lord LOVELACE in Town.

Written in the Year 1735.

1 IN days, my Lord, when mother Time,
2 Tho' now grown old, was in her prime,
3 When SATURN first began to rule,
4 And JOVE was hardly come from school,
5 How happy was a country life!
6 How free from wickedness and strife!
7 Then each man liv'd upon his farm,
8 And thought and did no mortal harm;
9 On mossy banks fair virgins slept,
10 As harmless as the flocks they kept;
11 Then love was all they had to do,
12 And nymphs were chaste, and swains were true.
13 But now, whatever poets write,
14 'Tis sure the case is alter'd quite,
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15 Virtue no more in rural plains,
16 Or innocence, or peace remains;
17 But vice is in the cottage sound,
18 And country girls are oft unsound;
19 Fierce party-rage each village fires,
20 With wars of justices and 'squires;
21 Attorneys, for a barley straw,
22 Whole ages hamper folks in law;
23 And ev'ry neighbour's in a flame
24 About their rates, or tythes, or game:
25 Some quarrel for their hares and pigeons,
26 And some for diff'rence in religions:
27 Some hold their parson the best preacher,
28 The tinker some a better teacher;
29 These to the Church they fight for, strangers,
30 Have faith in nothing but her dangers;
31 While those, a more believing people,
32 Can swallow all things but a steeple.
33 But I, my Lord, who, as you know,
34 Care little how these matters go,
35 And equally detest the strife
36 And usual joys of country life,
37 Have by good fortune little share
38 Of its diversions, or its care;
39 For seldom I with 'squires unite,
40 Who hunt all day, and drink all night;
41 Nor reckon wonderful inviting,
42 A quarter-sessions, or cock-fighting;
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43 But then no farm I occupy,
44 With sheep to rot and cows to dye:
45 Nor rage I much, or much despair,
46 Tho' in my hedge I find a snare;
47 Nor view I, with due admiration,
48 All the high honours here in fashion;
49 The great commissions of the quorum,
50 Terrors to all who come before 'em;
51 Militia scarlet, edg'd with gold,
52 Or the white staff high-sheriffs hold;
53 The representative's caressing,
54 The judge's bow, the bishop's blessing.
55 Nor can I for my soul delight
56 In the dull feast of neighb'ring knight,
57 Who, if you send three days before,
58 In white gloves meets you at the door,
59 With superfluity of breeding
60 First makes you sick, and then with feeding.
61 Or if with ceremony cloy'd,
62 You wou'd next time such plagues avoid,
63 And visit without previous notice,
64 JOHN, JOHN, a coach! I can't think who 'tis,
65 My lady cries, who spies your coach,
66 Ere you the avenue approach;
67 Lord, how unlucky! washing-day!
68 And all the men are in the hay!
69 Entrance to gain is something hard,
70 The dogs all bark, the gates are barr'd;
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71 The yard's with lines of linen cross'd,
72 The hall-door's lock'd, the key is lost:
73 These difficulties all o'ercome,
74 We reach at length the drawing-room,
75 Then there's such trampling over-head,
76 Madam you'd swear was brought to bed;
77 Miss in a hurry bursts the lock,
78 To get clean sleeves to hide her smock;
79 The servants run, the pewter clatters,
80 My lady dresses, calls, and chatters;
81 The cook-maid raves for want of butter,
82 Pigs squeak, fowls scream, and green geese flutter.
83 Now after three hours tedious waiting,
84 On all our neighbours faults debating,
85 And having nine times view'd the garden,
86 In which there's nothing worth a farthing,
87 In comes my lady, and the pudden:
88 You will excuse, sir, on a sudden
89 Then, that we may have four and four,
90 The bacon, fowls, and colly-flow'r
91 Their ancient unity divide,
92 The top one graces, one each side;
93 And by and by the second course
94 Comes lagging like a distanc'd horse:
95 A salver then to church and king,
96 The butler sweats, the glasses ring;
97 The cloth remov'd, the toasts go round,
98 Bawdy and politicks abound;
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99 And as the knight more tipsy waxes,
100 We damn all ministers and taxes.
101 At last the ruddy sun quite sunk,
102 The coachman tolerably drunk,
103 Whirling o'er hillocks, ruts, and stones,
104 Enough to dislocate one's bones,
105 We home return, a wond'rous token
106 Of heaven's kind care, with limbs unbroken.
107 Afflict us not, ye Gods, tho' sinners,
108 With many days like this, or dinners!
109 But if civilities thus teaze me,
110 Nor business, nor diversions please me,
111 You'll ask, my Lord, how time I spend?
112 I answer, with a book, or friend:
113 The circulating hours dividing
114 'Twixt reading, walking, eating, riding:
115 But books are still my highest joy,
116 These earliest please, and latest cloy.
117 Sometimes o'er distant climes I stray,
118 By guides experienc'd taught the way;
119 The wonders of each region view,
120 From frozen LAPLAND to PERU;
121 Bound o'er rough seas, and mountains bare,
122 Yet ne'er forsake my elbow chair.
123 Sometimes some fam'd historian's pen
124 Recals past ages back agen,
125 Where all I see, through every page,
126 Is but how men with senseless rage
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127 Each other rob, destroy, and burn,
128 To serve a priest's, or statesman's turn
129 Tho' loaded with a diff'rent aim,
130 Yet always asses much the fame.
131 Sometimes I view with much delight,
132 Divines their holy game-cocks fight;
133 Here faith and works at variance set,
134 Strive hard who shall the victory get;
135 Presbytery and episcopacy
136 There fight so long, it would amaze ye:
137 Here free-will holds a fierce dispute
138 With reprobation absolute;
139 There sense kicks transubstantiation,
140 And reason pecks at revelation.
141 With learned NEWTON now I fly
142 O'er all the rolling orbs on high,
143 Visit new worlds, and for a minute
144 This old one scorn, and all that's in it:
145 And now with labouring BOYLE I trace
146 Nature thro' ev'ry winding maze,
147 The latent qualities admire
148 Of vapours, water, air, and fire:
149 With pleasing admiration see
150 Matter's surprizing subtlety;
151 As how the smallest lamp displays,
152 For miles around, its scatter'd rays;
153 Or how (the case still more t' explain)
a See Boyle's Experiments.
A fart that weighs not half a grain,
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155 The atmosphere will oft perfume
156 Of a whole spacious drawing-room.
157 Sometimes I pass a whole long day
158 In happy indolence away,
159 In fondly meditating o'er
160 Past pleasures, and in hoping more:
161 Or wander thro' the fields and woods,
162 And gardens bath'd in circling floods,
163 There blooming flow'rs with rapture view,
164 And sparkling gems of morning dew,
165 Whence in my mind ideas rise
166 Of CAELIA'S cheeks, and CHLOE'S eyes.
167 'Tis thus, my Lord, I, free from strife,
168 Spend an inglorious country life;
169 These are the joys I still pursue,
170 When absent from the town and you:
171 Thus pass long summer suns away,
172 Busily idle, calmly gay;
173 Nor great, nor mean, nor rich, nor poor,
174 Not having much, or wishing more;
175 Except that you, when weary grown
176 Of all the follies of the town,
177 And seeing, in all publick places,
178 The same vain fops and painted faces,
179 Wou'd sometimes kindly condescend
180 To visit a dull country friend:
181 Here you'll be ever sure to meet
182 A hearty welcome, tho' no treat,
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183 One who has nothing else to do,
184 But to divert himself and you:
185 A house, where quiet guards the door,
186 No rural wits smoak, drink and roar;
187 Choice books, safe horses, wholsome liquor,
188 Clean girls, backgammon, and the vicar.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): An EPISTLE from S. J. Esq; in the Country, to the Right Hon. the Lord LOVELACE in Town. Written in the Year 1735.
Author: Soame Jenyns
Themes: retirement; domestic life; family; contentment
Genres: epistle
References: DMI 22530

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Source edition

Dodsley, Robert, 1703-1764. A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. III. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758], pp. 127-134. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163; OTA K104099.003) (Page images digitized by the Eighteenth-Century Poetry Archive from a copy in the archive's library.)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.