[Page 50]



1 GENIUS of Penshurst old!
2 Who saw'st the birth of each immortal oak,
3 Here sacred from the stroke;
4 And all thy tenants of yon turrets bold,
5 Inspir'st to arts or arms;
6 Where
a Sir Philip Sidney.
Sidney his Arcadian landscape drew,
7 Genuine from thy Doric view;
8 And patriot
b Algernon Sidney.
Algernon unshaken rose
9 Above insulting foes;
10 And Saccharissa nurs'd her angel charms.
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11 O suffer me with sober tread
12 To enter on thy holy shade;
13 Bid smoothly-gliding Medway stand,
14 And wave his sedgy tresses bland,
15 A stranger let him kindly greet,
16 And pour his urn beneath my feet.
17 And see where Perry opes his door
18 To land me on the social floor;
19 Nor does the heiress of these shades deny
20 To bend her bright majestic eye,
21 Where Beauty shines, and Friendship warm,
22 And Honour in a female form.
23 With them in aged groves to walk,
24 And lose my thoughts in artless talk,
25 I shun the voice of Party loud,
26 I shun loose Pleasure's idle crowd,
27 And monkish academic cell,
28 Where Science only feigns to dwell,
29 And court, where speckled Vanity
30 Apes her tricks in tawdry die,
31 And shifts each hour her tinsel hue,
32 Still furbelow'd in follies new.
33 Here Nature no distortion wears,
34 Old Truth retains his silver hairs,
35 And Chastity her matron step,
36 And purple Health her rosy lip.
37 Ah! on the virgin's gentle brow
38 How Innocence delights to glow!
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39 Unlike the town-dame's haughty air,
40 The scornful eye and harlot's stare;
41 But bending mild the bashful front
42 As modest Fear is ever wont:
43 Shepherdesses such of old,
44 Doric bards enamour'd told,
45 While the pleas'd Arcadian vale
46 Echo'd the enchanting tale.
47 But chief of Virtue's lovely train,
48 A pensive exile on the plain,
49 No longer active now to wield
50 Th' avenging sword, protecting shield,
51 Here thoughtful-walking Liberty
52 Remembers Britons once were free.
53 With her would Nobles old converse,
54 And learn her dictates to rehearse,
55 Ere yet they grew refin'd to hate
56 The hospitable rural seat,
57 The spacious hall with tenants stor'd,
58 Where Mirth and Plenty crown'd the board;
59 Ere yet their Lares they forsook,
60 And lost the genuine British look,
61 The conscious brow of inward merit,
62 The rough, unbending, martial spirit,
63 To clink the chain of Thraldom gay,
64 And court-idolatry to pay;
65 To live in city smoaks obscure,
66 Where morn ne'er wakes her breezes pure,
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67 Where darkest midnight reigns at noon,
68 And fogs eternal blot the sun.
69 But come, the minutes flit away,
70 And eager Fancy longs to stray:
71 Come, friendly Genius! lead me round
72 Thy sylvan haunts and magic ground;
73 Point every spot of hill or dale,
74 And tell me, as we tread the vale,
75 "Here mighty Dudly once wou'd rove,
76 "To plan his triumphs in the grove:
77 "There looser Waller, ever gay,
78 "With Sacchariss in dalliance lay;
79 "And Philip, side-long yonder spring,
80 "His lavish carols wont to sing. "
81 Hark! I hear the echoes call,
82 Hark! the rushing waters fall;
83 Lead me to the green retreats,
84 Guide me to the Muses' seats,
85 Where ancient bards retirement chose,
86 Or ancient lovers wept their woes.
87 What Genius points to yonder
c An oak in Penshurst park, planted the day Sir Philip Sidney was born, of which Ben Johnson speaks in the following manner:
That taller tree, which of a nut was set,
At his great birth, where all the Muses met.
88 What rapture does my soul provoke?
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89 There let me hang a garland high,
90 There let my Muse her accents try;
91 Be there my earliest homage paid,
92 Be there my latest vigils made:
93 For thou wast planted in the earth
94 The day that shone on Sidney's birth.
95 That happy time, that glorious day
96 The Muses came in concert gay;
97 With harps in tune, and ready song,
98 The jolly Chorus tript along;
99 In honour of th' auspicious morn,
100 To hail an infant genius born:
101 Next came the Faun, in order meet,
102 The Satyrs next with cloven feet,
103 The Dryads swift that roam the woods,
104 The Naiads green that swim the floods;
105 Sylvanus left his silent cave,
106 Medway came dropping from the wave;
107 Vertumnus led his blushing spouse,
108 And Ceres shook her wheaten brows,
109 And Mars with milder look was there,
110 And laughing Venus grac'd the rear.
111 They join'd their hands in festive dance,
112 And bade the smiling babe advance;
113 Each gave a gift; Sylvanus last
114 Ordain'd, when all the pomp was past,
115 Memorial meet, a tree to grow,
116 Which might to future ages shew,
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117 That on select occasion rare,
118 A troop of Gods assembled there:
119 The Naiads water'd well the ground,
120 And Flora twin'd a wood-bine round:
121 The tree sprung fast in hallow'd earth,
122 Co-aeval with th' illustrious birth
123 Thus let my feet unwearied stray;
124 Nor satisfied with one survey,
125 When morn surveys with doubtful light,
126 And Phebe pales her lamp of night,
127 Still let me wander forth anew,
128 And print my footsteps on the dew,
129 What time the swain with ruddy cheek
130 Prepares to yoke his oxen meek,
131 And early drest in neat array
132 The milk-maid chanting shrill her lay,
133 Comes abroad with milking pail;
134 And the sound of distant flail
135 Gives the ear a rough good-morrow,
136 And the lark from out his furrow
137 Soars upright on matin wings,
138 And at the gate of heaven sings.
139 But when the sun with fervid ray
140 Drives upwards to his noon of day,
141 And couching oxen lay them down
142 Beneath the beechen umbrage brown;
143 Then let me wander in the hall,
144 Round whose antique-visag'd wall
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145 Hangs the armour Britons wore,
146 Rudely cast in days of yore.
147 Yon sword some heroe's arm might wield,
148 Red in the ranks of Chalgrave's field,
149 Where ever-glorious Hampden bled,
150 And Freedom tears of sorrow shed.
151 Or in the gallery let me walk,
152 Where living pictures seem to talk,
153 Where Beauty smiles serenely fair,
154 And Courage frowns with martial air;
155 Tho' whiskers quaint the face disguise,
156 And habits odd to modern eyes.
157 Behold what kings in Britain reign'd,
158 Plantagenets with blood distain'd,
159 And valiant Tudor's haughty race,
160 And Stuarts, England's worst disgrace.
161 The Norman first, with cruel frown,
162 Proud of his new-usurped crown,
163 Begins the list; and many more,
164 Stern heroes form'd of roughest ore.
165 See victor Henry there advance,
166 Ev'n in his look he conquers France;
167 And murd'rer Richard, justly slain
168 By Richmond's steel on Bosworth plain;
169 See the tyrant of his wives,
170 Prodigal of fairest lives,
171 And laureat Edward nurs'd in arts,
172 Minerva school'd his kingly parts:
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173 But ah! the melancholy Jane,
174 A soul too tender for a queen!
175 She sinks beneath imperial sway,
176 The dear-bought scepter of a day!
177 And must she mount the scaffold drear?
178 Hard-hearted Mary, learn to spare!
179 Eliza next salutes the eye;
180 Exalt the song to Liberty,
181 The Muse repeats the sacred name,
182 Eliza fills the voice of fame.
183 From thence a baser age began,
184 The royal ore polluted ran,
185 Till foreign Nassau's valiant hand
186 Chac'd holy tyrants from the land:
187 Downward from hence descend apace
188 To Brunswick's high, illustrious race;
189 And see the canvas speaks them brave,
190 An injur'd nation born to save,
191 Active in Freedom's righteous cause,
192 And conscious of a just applause.
193 But chiefly pleas'd, the curious eye,
194 With nice discernment loves to try
195 The labour'd wonders, passing thought,
196 Which warm Italian pencils wrought;
197 Fables of love, and stories old,
198 By Greek or Latian poets told;
199 How Jove committed many a rape,
200 How young Acteon lost his shape;
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201 Or what celestial pen-men writ,
202 Or what the painter's genuine wit
203 From Fancy's store-house could devise;
204 Where Raphael claims the highest prize.
205 Madonas here decline the head,
206 With fond maternal pleasure fed,
207 Or lift their lucid eyes above,
208 Where more is seen than holy love.
209 There temples stand display'd within,
210 And pillars in long order seen,
211 And roofs rush forward to the sight,
212 And lamps affect a living light.
213 Or landscapes tire the trav'ling eye,
214 The clouds in azure volumes fly,
215 The distant trees distinguish'd rise,
216 And hills look little in the skies.
217 When day declines, and ev'ning cool
218 Begins her gentle, silent rule,
219 Again, as Fancy points the way,
220 Benignant leader, let me stray:
221 And wilt thou, Genius, bring along
222 (So shall my Muse exalt her song)
223 The Lord who rules this ample scene,
224 His Consort too with gracious mien,
225 Her little offspring prattling round,
226 While Echo lisps their infant sound.
227 And let Good-nature, born to please,
228 Wait on our steps, and graceful Ease;
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229 Nor Mirth be wanting as we walk,
230 Nor Wit to season sober talk;
231 Let gay Description too attend,
232 And Fable told with moral end,
233 And Satire quick that comes by stealth,
234 And flowing Laughter, friend to Health.
235 Meanwhile Attention loves to mark
236 The deer that crop the shaven park,
237 The steep-brow'd hill, or forest wild,
238 The sloping lawns, and zephyrs mild,
239 The clouds that blush with ev'ning red,
240 Or meads with silver fountains fed,
241 The fragrance of the new-mown hay,
242 And black-bird chanting on the spray;
243 The calm farewel of parting light,
244 And Ev'ning sad'ning into Night.
245 Nor wearied yet my roving feet,
246 Tho' Night comes on amain, retreat;
247 But still abroad I walk unseen
248 Along the star-enlighten'd green;
249 Superior joys my soul invite,
250 Lift, lift to heav'n the dazzled sight.
251 Lo, where the moon enthron'd on high,
252 Sits steady empress of the sky,
253 Enticing nations to revere,
254 And proudly vain of pagan fear;
255 Or where thro' clouds she travels fast,
256 And seems on journey bent in haste,
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257 While thousand hand-maid stars await,
258 Attendant on their queen of state.
259 'Tis now that in her high controul,
260 Ambitious of a foreign rule,
261 She stirs the Ocean to rebel,
262 And factious waters fond to swell
263 Guides to battle in her carr,
264 'Gainst her sister Earth to war.
265 Thus let me muse on things sublime,
266 Above the flight of modern rhyme,
267 And call the soul of Newton down,
268 Where it sits high on starry throne,
269 Inventing laws for worlds to come,
270 Or teaching comets how to roam:
271 With him I'd learn of every star,
272 But sour-ey'd Pedantry be far,
273 And Ignorance in garb of Sense,
274 With terms of art to make pretence.
275 Hail happy soil! illustrious earth!
276 Which gav'st so many heroes birth;
277 Which never wand'ring poet trod,
278 But felt within th' inspiring God!
279 In these transporting, solemn shades,
280 First I salute th' Aonian maids.
281 Ah lead me, Genius, to thy haunts,
282 Where Philomel at ev'ning chants,
283 And as my oaten pipe resounds,
284 Give musick to the forming sounds.
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285 A simple shepherd, yet unknown,
286 Aspires to snatch an ivy crown,
287 On daring pinions bold to soar,
288 Tho' here thy Waller sung before,
289 And Johnson dipt his learned pen,
290 And Sidney pour'd his fancy-flowing strain.


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About this text

Themes: retirement; places; poetry; literature; writing; landscapes
Genres: Country House poem
References: DMI 25708

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Source edition

Dodsley, Robert, 1703-1764. A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. IV. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758], pp. 50-61. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163; OTA K104099.004) (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.