The Complete Poetical Works of Oliver Goldsmith
Part 3 out of 6
At least, it's your temper, as very well known,
That you think very slightly of all that's your own:
So, perhaps, in your habits of thinking amiss,
You may make a mistake, and think slightly of this.
EPITAPH ON THOMAS PARNELL
THIS tomb, inscrib'd to gentle Parnell's name,
May speak our gratitude, but not his fame.
What heart but feels his sweetly-moral lay,
That leads to truth through pleasure's flowery way!
Celestial themes confess'd his tuneful aid; 5
And Heaven, that lent him genius, was repaid.
Needless to him the tribute we bestow --
The transitory breath of fame below:
More lasting rapture from his works shall rise,
While Converts thank their poet in the skies. 10
THE CLOWN'S REPLY
JOHN TROTT was desired by two witty peers
To tell them the reason why asses had ears?
'An't please you,' quoth John, 'I'm not given to letters,
Nor dare I pretend to know more than my betters;
Howe'er, from this time I shall ne'er see your graces, 5
As I hope to be saved! without thinking on asses.'
EPITAPH ON EDWARD PURDON
HERE lies poor Ned Purdon, from misery freed,
Who long was a bookseller's hack;
He led such a damnable life in this world, --
I don't think he'll wish to come back.
EPILOGUE FOR MR. LEE LEWES
HOLD! Prompter, hold! a word before your nonsense;
I'd speak a word or two, to ease my conscience.
My pride forbids it ever should be said,
My heels eclips'd the honours of my head;
That I found humour in a piebald vest, 5
Or ever thought that jumping was a jest.
('Takes off his mask.')
Whence, and what art thou, visionary birth?
Nature disowns, and reason scorns thy mirth,
In thy black aspect every passion sleeps,
The joy that dimples, and the woe that weeps. 10
How has thou fill'd the scene with all thy brood,
Of fools pursuing, and of fools pursu'd!
Whose ins and outs no ray of sense discloses,
Whose only plot it is to break our noses;
Whilst from below the trap-door Demons rise, 15
And from above the dangling deities;
And shall I mix in this unhallow'd crew?
May rosined lightning blast me, if I do!
No -- I will act, I'll vindicate the stage:
Shakespeare himself shall feel my tragic rage. 20
Off! off! vile trappings! a new passion reigns!
The madd'ning monarch revels in my veins.
Oh! for a Richard's voice to catch the theme:
'Give me another horse! bind up my wounds!
-- soft -- 'twas but a dream.'
Aye, 'twas but a dream, for now there's no retreating: 25
If I cease Harlequin, I cease from eating.
'Twas thus that Aesop's stag, a creature blameless,
Yet something vain, like one that shall be nameless,
Once on the margin of a fountain stood,
And cavill'd at his image in the flood. 30
'The deuce confound,' he cries, 'these drumstick shanks,
They never have my gratitude nor thanks;
They're perfectly disgraceful! strike me dead!
But for a head, yes, yes, I have a head.
How piercing is that eye! how sleek that brow! 35
My horns! I'm told horns are the fashion now.'
Whilst thus he spoke, astonish'd, to his view,
Near, and more near, the hounds and huntsmen drew.
'Hoicks! hark forward!' came thund'ring from behind,
He bounds aloft, outstrips the fleeting wind: 40
He quits the woods, and tries the beaten ways;
He starts, he pants, he takes the circling maze.
At length his silly head, so priz'd before,
Is taught his former folly to deplore;
Whilst his strong limbs conspire to set him free, 45
And at one bound he saves himself, -- like me.
('Taking a hump through the stage door'.)
INTENDED TO HAVE BEEN SPOKEN FOR 'SHE STOOPS
'Enter' MRS. BULKLEY,
'who curtsies very low as beginning to speak.
Then enter' MISS CATLEY,
'who stands full before her, and curtsies to the audience'.
HOLD, Ma'am, your pardon. What's your business here?
Yes, the Epilogue, my dear.
Sure you mistake, Ma'am. The Epilogue, 'I' bring it.
Excuse me, Ma'am. The Author bid 'me' sing it.
Ye beaux and belles, that form this splendid ring, 5
Suspend your conversation while I sing.
Why, sure the girl's beside herself: an Epilogue of singing,
A hopeful end indeed to such a blest beginning.
Besides, a singer in a comic set! --
Excuse me, Ma'am, I know the etiquette. 10
What if we leave it to the House?
The House! -- Agreed.
And she, whose party's largest, shall proceed.
And first I hope, you'll readily agree
I've all the critics and the wits for me.
They, I am sure, will answer my commands: 15
Ye candid-judging few, hold up your hands.
What! no return? I find too late, I fear,
That modern judges seldom enter here.
I'm for a different set. -- Old men, whose trade is
Still to gallant and dangle with the ladies; -- 20
Who mump their passion, and who, grimly smiling,
Still thus address the fair with voice beguiling:--
'Air -- Cotillon'.
Turn, my fairest, turn, if ever
Strephon caught thy ravish'd eye;
Pity take on your swain so clever, 25
Who without your aid must die.
Yes, I shall die, hu, hu, hu, hu!
Yes, I must die, ho, ho, ho, ho! ('Da capo'.)
Let all the old pay homage to your merit;
Give me the young, the gay, the men of spirit. 30
Ye travell'd tribe, ye macaroni train,
Of French friseurs, and nosegays, justly vain,
Who take a trip to Paris once a year
To dress, and look like awkward Frenchmen here,
Lend me your hands. -- Oh! fatal news to tell: 35
Their hands are only lent to the Heinel.
Ay, take your travellers, travellers indeed!
Give me my bonny Scot, that travels from the Tweed.
Where are the chiels? Ah! Ah, I well discern
The smiling looks of each bewitching bairn. 40
'Air -- A bonny young lad is my Jockey'.
I'll sing to amuse you by night and by day,
And be unco merry when you are but gay;
When you with your bagpipes are ready to play,
My voice shall be ready to carol away
With Sandy, and Sawney, and Jockey 45
With Sawney, and Jarvie, and Jockey.
Ye gamesters, who, so eager in pursuit,
Make but of all your fortune one 'va toute';
Ye jockey tribe, whose stock of words are few,
'I hold the odds. -- Done, done, with you, with you;' 50
Ye barristers, so fluent with grimace,
'My Lord, -- your Lordship misconceives the case;'
Doctors, who cough and answer every misfortuner,
'I wish I'd been called in a little sooner:'
Assist my cause with hands and voices hearty; 55
Come, end the contest here, and aid my party.
'Air -- Ballinamony'.
Ye brave Irish lads, hark away to the crack,
Assist me, I pray, in this woful attack;
For sure I don't wrong you, you seldom are slack,
When the ladies are calling, to blush and hang back; 60
For you're always polite and attentive,
Still to amuse us inventive,
And death is your only preventive:
Your hands and your voices for me.
Well, Madam, what if, after all this sparring, 65
We both agree, like friends, to end our jarring?
And that our friendship may remain unbroken,
What if we leave the Epilogue unspoken?
And now with late repentance,
Un-epilogued the Poet waits his sentence. 70
Condemn the stubborn fool who can't submit
To thrive by flattery, though he starves by wit.
INTENDED TO HAVE BEEN SPOKEN FOR 'SHE STOOPS
THERE is a place, so Ariosto sings,
A treasury for lost and missing things;
Lost human wits have places assign'd them,
And they, who lose their senses, there may find them.
But where's this place, this storehouse of the age? 5
The Moon, says he:-- but 'I' affirm the Stage:
At least in many things, I think, I see
His lunar, and our mimic world agree.
Both shine at night, for, but at Foote's alone,
We scarce exhibit till the sun goes down. 10
Both prone to change, no settled limits fix,
And sure the folks of both are lunatics.
But in this parallel my best pretence is,
That mortals visit both to find their senses.
To this strange spot, Rakes, Macaronies, Cits 15
Come thronging to collect their scatter'd wits.
The gay coquette, who ogles all the day,
Comes here at night, and goes a prude away.
Hither the affected city dame advancing,
Who sighs for operas, and dotes on dancing, 20
Taught by our art her ridicule to pause on,
Quits the 'Ballet', and calls for 'Nancy Dawson'.
The Gamester too, whose wit's all high or low,
Oft risks his fortune on one desperate throw,
Comes here to saunter, having made his bets, 25
Finds his lost senses out, and pay his debts.
The Mohawk too -- with angry phrases stored,
As 'D-- --, Sir,' and 'Sir, I wear a sword';
Here lesson'd for a while, and hence retreating,
Goes out, affronts his man, and takes a beating. 30
Here come the sons of scandal and of news,
But find no sense -- for they had none to lose.
Of all the tribe here wanting an adviser
Our Author's the least likely to grow wiser;
Has he not seen how you your favour place, 35
On sentimental Queens and Lords in lace?
Without a star, a coronet or garter,
How can the piece expect or hope for quarter?
No high-life scenes, no sentiment:-- the creature
Still stoops among the low to copy nature. 50
Yes, he's far gone:-- and yet some pity fix,
The English laws forbid to punish lunatics.
FIRST ISRAELITISH PROPHET.
SECOND ISRAELITISH PROPHET.
FIRST CHALDEAN PRIEST.
SECOND CHALDEAN PRIEST.
CHORUS OF YOUTHS AND VIRGINS.
SCENE - The Banks of the River Euphrates, near Babylon.
ACT I -- SCENE I.
'Israelites sitting on the Banks of the Euphrates'.
YE captive tribes, that hourly work and weep
Where flows Euphrates murmuring to the deep,
Suspend awhile the task, the tear suspend,
And turn to God, your Father and your Friend.
Insulted, chain'd, and all the world a foe, 5
Our God alone is all we boast below.
Our God is all we boast below,
To him we turn our eyes;
And every added weight of woe
Shall make our homage rise. 10
And though no temple richly drest,
Nor sacrifice is here;
We'll make his temple in our breast,
And offer up a tear.
['The first stanza repeated by the Chorus.
That strain once more; it bids remembrance rise,
And brings my long-lost country to mine eyes. 16
Ye fields of Sharon, dress'd in flow'ry pride,
Ye plains where Jordan rolls its glassy tide,
Ye hills of Lebanon, with cedars crown'd,
Ye Gilead groves, that fling perfumes around, 20
These hills how sweet! Those plains how wond'rous fair,
But sweeter still, when Heaven was with us there!
O Memory, thou fond deceiver,
Still importunate and vain;
To former joys recurring ever, 25
And turning all the past to pain;
Hence intruder, most distressing,
Seek the happy and the free:
The wretch who wants each other blessing,
Ever wants a friend in thee. 30
Yet, why complain? What, though by bonds confin'd,
Should bonds repress the vigour of the mind?
Have we not cause for triumph when we see
Ourselves alone from idol-worship free?
Are not this very morn those feasts begun? 35
Where prostrate error hails the rising sun?
Do not our tyrant lords this day ordain
For superstitious rites and mirth profane?
And should we mourn? Should coward virtue fly,
When impious folly rears her front on high? 40
No; rather let us triumph still the more,
And as our fortune sinks, our wishes soar.
The triumphs that on vice attend
Shall ever in confusion end;
The good man suffers but to gain, 45
And every virtue springs from pain:
As aromatic plants bestow
No spicy fragrance while they grow;
But crush'd, or trodden to the ground,
Diffuse their balmy sweets around. 50
But hush, my sons, our tyrant lords are near;
The sounds of barb'rous pleasure strike mine ear;
Triumphant music floats along the vale;
Near, nearer still, it gathers on the gale;
The growing sound their swift approach declares; --
Desist, my sons, nor mix the strain with theirs. 56
'Enter' CHALDEAN PRIESTS 'attended'.
Come on, my companions, the triumph display;
Let rapture the minutes employ;
The sun calls us out on this festival day,
And our monarch partakes in the joy. 60
Like the sun, our great monarch all rapture supplies,
Both similar blessings bestow;
The sun with his splendour illumines the skies,
And our monarch enlivens below.
A CHALDEAN WOMAN.
Haste, ye sprightly sons of pleasure; 65
Love presents the fairest treasure,
Leave all other joys for me.
A CHALDEAN ATTENDANT.
Or rather, Love's delights despising,
Haste to raptures ever rising
Wine shall bless the brave and free. 70
Wind and beauty thus inviting,
Each to different joys exciting,
Whither shall my choice incline?
I'll waste no longer thought in choosing;
But, neither this nor that refusing, 75
I'll make them both together mine.
But whence, when joy should brighten o'er the land,
This sullen gloom in Judah's captive band?
Ye sons of Judah, why the lute unstrung?
Or why those harps on yonder willows hung? 80
Come, take the lyre, and pour the strain along,
The day demands it; sing us Sion's song.
Dismiss your griefs, and join our warbling choir,
For who like you can wake the sleeping lyre?
Bow'd down with chains, the scorn of all mankind,
To want, to toil, and every ill consign'd, 86
Is this a time to bid us raise the strain,
Or mix in rites that Heaven regards with pain?
No, never! May this hand forget each art
That speeds the power of music to the heart, 90
Ere I forget the land that gave me birth,
Or join with sounds profane its sacred mirth!
Insulting slaves! If gentler methods fail,
The whips and angry tortures shall prevail.
Why, let them come, one good remains to cheer;
We fear the Lord, and know no other fear. 96
Can whips or tortures hurt the mind
On God's supporting breast reclin'd?
Stand fast, and let our tyrants see
That fortitude is victory.
'Scene as before'.
CHORUS OF ISRAELITES.
O PEACE of mind, angelic guest!
Thou soft companion of the breast!
Dispense thy balmy store.
Wing all our thoughts to reach the skies,
Till earth, receding from our eyes, 5
Shall vanish as we soar.
No more! Too long has justice been delay'd,
The king's commands must fully be obey'd;
Compliance with his will your peace secures,
Praise but our gods, and every good is yours. 10
But if, rebellious to his high command,
You spurn the favours offer'd from his hand,
Think, timely think, what terrors are behind;
Reflect, nor tempt to rage the royal mind.
Fierce is the whirlwind howling 15
O'er Afric's sandy plain,
And fierce the tempest rolling
Along the furrow'd main:
But storms that fly,
To rend the sky, 20
Every ill presaging,
Less dreadful show
To worlds below
Than angry monarch's raging.
Ah, me! What angry terrors round us grow; 25
How shrinks my soul to meet the threaten'd blow!
Ye prophets, skill'd in Heaven's eternal truth,
Forgive my sex's fears, forgive my youth!
If, shrinking thus, when frowning power appears,
I wish for life, and yield me to my fears. 30
Let us one hour, one little hour obey;
To-morrow's tears may wash our stains away.
To the last moment of his breath
On hope the wretch relies;
And e'en the pang preceding death 35
Bids expectation rise.
Hope, like the gleaming taper's light,
Adorns and cheers our way;
And still, as darker grows the night,
Emits a brighter ray. 40
Why this delay? At length for joy prepare;
I read your looks, and see compliance there.
Come on, and bid the warbling rapture rise,
Our monarch's fame the noblest theme supplies.
Begin, ye captive bands, and strike the lyre, 45
The time, the theme, the place, and all conspire.
See the ruddy morning smiling,
Hear the grove to bliss beguiling;
Zephyrs through the woodland playing,
Streams along the valley straying. 50
While these a constant revel keep,
Shall Reason only teach to weep?
Hence, intruder! We'll pursue
Nature, a better guide than you.
Every moment, as it flows, 55
Some peculiar pleasure owes;
Then let us, providently wise,
Seize the debtor as it flies.
Think not to-morrow can repay
The pleasures that we lose to-day; 60
To-morrow's most unbounded store
Can but pay its proper score.
But hush! See, foremost of the captive choir,
The master-prophet grasps his full-ton'd lyre.
Mark where he sits, with executing art, 65
Feels for each tone, and speeds it to the heart;
See how prophetic rapture fills his form,
Awful as clouds that nurse the growing storm;
And now his voice, accordant to the string,
Prepares our monarch's victories to sing. 70
From north, from south, from east, from west,
Conspiring nations come;
Tremble thou vice-polluted breast;
Blasphemers, all be dumb.
The tempest gathers all around, 75
On Babylon it lies;
Down with her! down -- down to the ground;
She sinks, she groans, she dies.
Down with her, Lord, to lick the dust,
Ere yonder setting sun; 80
Serve her as she hath served the just!
'Tis fixed -- it shall be done.
No more! When slaves thus insolent presume,
The king himself shall judge, and fix their doom.
Unthinking wretches! have not you, and all, 85
Beheld our power in Zedekiah's fall?
To yonder gloomy dungeon turn your eyes;
See where dethron'd your captive monarch lies,
Depriv'd of sight and rankling in his chain; 89
See where he mourns his friends and children slain.
Yet know, ye slaves, that still remain behind
More ponderous chains, and dungeons more confin'd.
CHORUS OF ALL.
Arise, all potent ruler, rise,
And vindicate thy people's cause;
Till every tongue in every land 95
Shall offer up unfeign'd applause.
'Scene as before'.
YES, my companions, Heaven's decrees are past,
And our fix'd empire shall for ever last;
In vain the madd'ning prophet threatens woe,
In vain rebellion aims her secret blow;
Still shall our fame and growing power be spread,
And still our vengeance crush the traitor's head. 6
Coeval with man
Our empire began,
And never shall fail
Till ruin shakes all; 10
When ruin shakes all,
Then shall Babylon fall.
'Tis thus that pride triumphant rears the head,
A little while, and all their power is fled;
But ha! what means yon sadly plaintive train, 15
That this way slowly bend along the plain?
And now, methinks, to yonder bank they bear
A palled corse, and rest the body there.
Alas! too well mine eyes indignant trace
The last remains of Judah's royal race: 20
Our monarch falls, and now our fears are o'er,
Unhappy Zedekiah is no more!
Ye wretches who, by fortune's hate,
In want and sorrow groan;
Come ponder his severer fate, 25
And learn to bless your own.
You vain, whom youth and pleasure guide,
Awhile the bliss suspend;
Like yours, his life began in pride,
Like his, your lives shall end. 30
Behold his wretched corse with sorrow worn,
His squalid limbs with pond'rous fetters torn;
Those eyeless orbs that shock with ghastly glare,
Those ill-becoming rags -- that matted hair!
And shall not Heaven for this its terrors show, 35
Grasp the red bolt, and lay the guilty low?
How long, how long, Almighty God of all,
Shall wrath vindictive threaten ere it fall!
As panting flies the hunted hind,
Where brooks refreshing stray; 40
And rivers through the valley wind,
That stop the hunter's way:
Thus we, O Lord, alike distrest,
For streams of mercy long;
Those streams which cheer the sore opprest,
And overwhelm the strong. 46
But, whence that shout? Good heavens! amazement all!
See yonder tower just nodding to the fall:
See where an army covers all the ground,
Saps the strong wall, and pours destruction round;
The ruin smokes, destruction pours along; 51
How low the great, how feeble are the strong!
The foe prevails, the lofty walls recline --
O God of hosts, the victory is thine!
CHORUS OF ISRAELITES.
Down with them, Lord, to lick the dust; 55
Thy vengeance be begun:
Serve them as they have serv'd the just,
And let thy will be done.
All, all is lost. The Syrian army fails,
Cyrus, the conqueror of the world, prevails, 60
The ruin smokes, the torrent pours along;
How low the proud, how feeble are the strong!
Save us, O Lord! to thee, though late, we pray,
And give repentance but an hour's delay.
FIRST AND SECOND PRIEST.
Thrice happy, who in happy hour 65
To Heaven their praise bestow,
And own his all-consuming power
Before they feel the blow!
Now, now's our time! ye wretches bold and blind,
Brave but to God, and cowards to mankind, 70
Too late you seek that power unsought before,
Your wealth, your pride, your kingdom, are no more.
O Lucifer, thou son of morn,
Alike of Heaven and man the foe;
Heaven, men, and all, 75
Now press thy fall,
And sink thee lowest of the low.
O Babylon, how art thou fallen!
Thy fall more dreadful from delay!
Thy streets forlorn 80
To wilds shall turn,
Where toads shall pant, and vultures prey.
Such be her fate. But listen! from afar
The clarion's note proclaims the finish'd war!
Cyrus, our great restorer, is at hand, 85
And this way leads his formidable band.
Give, give your songs of Sion to the wind,
And hail the benefactor of mankind:
He comes pursuant to divine decree,
To chain the strong, and set the captive free. 90
CHORUS OF YOUTHS.
Rise to transports past expressing,
Sweeter from remember'd woes;
Cyrus comes, our wrongs redressing,
Comes to give the world repose.
CHORUS OF VIRGINS.
Cyrus comes, the world redressing, 95
Love and pleasure in his train;
Comes to heighten every blessing,
Comes to soften every pain.
Hail to him with mercy reigning,
Skilled in every peaceful art; 100
Who from bonds our limbs unchaining,
Only binds the willing heart.
THE LAST CHORUS.
But chief to Thee, our God, defender, friend,
Let praise be given to all eternity;
O Thou, without beginning, without end, 105
Let us, and all, begin and end, in Thee!
VERSES IN REPLY TO AN INVITATION TO DINNER AT DR. BAKER'S.
'This 'is' a poem! This 'is' a copy of verses!'
YOUR mandate I got,
You may all go to pot;
Had your senses been right,
You'd have sent before night;
As I hope to be saved, 5
I put off being shaved;
For I could not make bold,
While the matter was cold,
To meddle in suds,
Or to put on my duds; 10
So tell Horneck and Nesbitt,
And Baker and his bit,
And Kauffmann beside,
And the Jessamy Bride,
With the rest of the crew, 15
The Reynoldses two,
Little Comedy's face,
And the Captain in lace,
(By-the-bye you may tell him,
I have something to sell him; 20
Of use I insist,
When he comes to enlist.
Your worships must know
That a few days ago,
An order went out, 25
For the foot guards so stout
To wear tails in high taste,
Twelve inches at least:
Now I've got him a scale
To measure each tail, 30
To lengthen a short tail,
And a long one to curtail.) --
Yet how can I when vext,
Thus stray from my text?
Tell each other to rue 35
Your Devonshire crew,
For sending so late
To one of my state.
But 'tis Reynolds's way
From wisdom to stray, 50
And Angelica's whim
To be frolick like him,
But, alas! Your good worships, how could they be wiser,
When both have been spoil'd in to-day's 'Advertiser'?
LETTER IN PROSE AND VERSE TO MRS. BUNBURY
I read your letter with all that allowance which critical candour could
require, but after all find so much to object to, and so much to raise
my indignation, that I cannot help giving it a serious answer.
I am not so ignorant, Madam, as not to see there are many sarcasms
contained in it, and solecisms also. (Solecism is a word that comes from
the town of Soleis in Attica, among the Greeks, built by Solon, and
applied as we use the word Kidderminster for curtains, from a town also
of that name; -- but this is learning you have no taste for!) -- I say,
Madam, there are sarcasms in it, and solecisms also. But not to seem an
ill-natured critic, I'll take leave to quote your own words, and give
you my remarks upon them as they occur. You begin as follows:--
'I hope, my good Doctor, you soon will be here,
And your spring-velvet coat very smart will appear,
To open our ball the first day of the year.'
Pray, Madam, where did you ever find the epithet 'good,' applied to the
title of Doctor? Had you called me 'learned Doctor,' or 'grave Doctor,'
or 'noble Doctor,' it might be allowable, because they belong to the
profession. But, not to cavil at trifles, you talk of my 'spring-velvet
coat,' and advise me to wear it the first day in the year, -- that is,
in the middle of winter! -- a spring-velvet in the middle of winter!!!
That would be a solecism indeed! and yet, to increase the inconsistence,
in another part of your letter you call me a beau. Now, on one side or
other, you must be wrong. If I am a beau, I can never think of wearing a
spring-velvet in winter: and if I am not a beau, why then, that explains
itself. But let me go on to your two next strange lines:--
'And bring with you a wig, that is modish and gay,
To dance with the girls that are makers of hay.'
The absurdity of making hay at Christmas, you yourself seem sensible of:
you say your sister will laugh; and so indeed she well may! The Latins
have an expression for a contemptuous sort of laughter, 'Naso contemnere
adunco'; that is, to laugh with a crooked nose. She may laugh at you in
the manner of the ancients if she thinks fit. But now I come to the most
extraordinary of all extraordinary propositions, which is, to take your
and your sister's advice in playing at loo. The presumption of the offer
raises my indignation beyond the bounds of prose; it inspires me at once
with verse and resentment. I take advice! and from whom? You shall hear.
First let me suppose, what may shortly be true,
The company set, and the word to be, Loo;
All smirking, and pleasant, and big with adventure,
And ogling the stake which is fix'd in the centre.
Round and round go the cards, while I inwardly damn 5
At never once finding a visit from Pam.
I lay down my stake, apparently cool,
While the harpies about me all pocket the pool.
I fret in my gizzard, yet, cautious and sly,
I wish all my friends may be bolder than I: 10
Yet still they sit snug, not a creature will aim
By losing their money to venture at fame.
'Tis in vain that at niggardly caution I scold,
'Tis in vain that I flatter the brave and the bold:
All play their own way, and they think me an ass, -- 15
'What does Mrs. Bunbury?' 'I, Sir? I pass.'
'Pray what does Miss Horneck? Take courage, come do,' --
'Who, I? let me see, Sir, why I must pass too.'
Mr. Bunbury frets, and I fret like the devil,
To see them so cowardly, lucky, and civil. 20
Yet still I sit snug, and continue to sigh on,
Till made by my losses as bold as a lion,
I venture at all, -- while my avarice regards
The whole pool as my own -- 'Come, give me five cards.'
'Well done!' cry the ladies; 'Ah, Doctor, that's good! 25
The pool's very rich -- ah! the Doctor is loo'd!'
Thus foil'd in my courage, on all sides perplex'd,
I ask for advice from the lady that's next:
'Pray, Ma'am, be so good as to give your advice;
Don't you think the best way is to venture for 't twice?' 30
'I advise,' cries the lady, 'to try it, I own. --
Ah! the Doctor is loo'd! Come, Doctor, put down.'
Thus, playing, and playing, I still grow more eager,
And so bold, and so bold, I'm at last a bold beggar.
Now, ladies, I ask, if law-matters you're skill'd in, 35
Whether crimes such as yours should not come before Fielding?
For giving advice that is not worth a straw,
May well be call'd picking of pockets in law;
And picking of pockets, with which I now charge ye,
Is, by quinto Elizabeth, Death without Clergy. 40
What justice, when both to the Old Bailey brought!
By the gods, I'll enjoy it; though 'tis but in thought!
Both are plac'd at the bar, with all proper decorum,
With bunches of fennel, and nosegays before 'em;
Both cover their faces with mobs and all that; 45
But the judge bids them, angrily, take off their hat.
When uncover'd, a buzz of enquiry runs round, --
'Pray what are their crimes?' -- 'They've been pilfering found.'
'But, pray, whom have they pilfer'd?' -- 'A Doctor, I hear.'
'What, yon solemn-faced, odd-looking man that stands near!' 50
'The same.' -- 'What a pity! how does it surprise one!
Two handsomer culprits I never set eyes on!'
Then their friends all come round me with cringing and leering,
To melt me to pity, and soften my swearing.
First Sir Charles advances with phrases well strung, 55
'Consider, dear Doctor, the girls are but young.'
'The younger the worse,' I return him again,
'It shows that their habits are all dyed in grain.'
'But then they're so handsome, one's bosom it grieves.'
'What signifies 'handsome', when people are thieves?' 60
'But where is your justice? their cases are hard.'
'What signifies 'justice'? I want the 'reward'.
There's the parish of Edmonton offers forty pounds; there's the
parish of St. Leonard, Shoreditch, offers forty pounds; there's
the parish of Tyburn, from the Hog-in-the-Pound to St. Giles's
watchhouse, offers forty pounds, -- I shall have all that if I
convict them!' --
'But consider their case, -- it may yet be your own!
And see how they kneel! Is your heart made of stone?'
This moves:-- so at last I agree to relent, 65
For ten pounds in hand, and ten pounds to be spent.
I challenge you all to answer this: I tell you, you cannot. It
cuts deep; -- but now for the rest of the letter: and next --
but I want room -- so I believe I shall battle the rest out at
Barton some day next week.
I don't value you all!
VIDA'S GAME OF CHESS
ARMIES of box that sportively engage
And mimic real battles in their rage,
Pleased I recount; how, smit with glory's charms,
Two mighty Monarchs met in adverse arms,
Sable and white; assist me to explore, 5
Ye Serian Nymphs, what ne'er was sung before.
No path appears: yet resolute I stray
Where youth undaunted bids me force my way.
O'er rocks and cliffs while I the task pursue,
Guide me, ye Nymphs, with your unerring clue. 10
For you the rise of this diversion know,
You first were pleased in Italy to show
This studious sport; from Scacchis was its name,
The pleasing record of your Sister's fame.
When Jove through Ethiopia's parch'd extent 15
To grace the nuptials of old Ocean went,
Each god was there; and mirth and joy around
To shores remote diffused their happy sound.
Then when their hunger and their thirst no more
Claim'd their attention, and the feast was o'er; 20
Ocean with pastime to divert the thought,
Commands a painted table to be brought.
Sixty-four spaces fill the chequer'd square;
Eight in each rank eight equal limits share.
Alike their form, but different are their dyes, 25
They fade alternate, and alternate rise,
White after black; such various stains as those
The shelving backs of tortoises disclose.
Then to the gods that mute and wondering sate,
You see (says he) the field prepared for fate. 30
Here will the little armies please your sight,
With adverse colours hurrying to the fight:
On which so oft, with silent sweet surprise,
The Nymphs and Nereids used to feast their eyes,
And all the neighbours of the hoary deep, 35
When calm the sea, and winds were lull'd asleep
But see, the mimic heroes tread the board;
He said, and straightway from an urn he pour'd
The sculptured box, that neatly seem'd to ape
The graceful figure of a human shape:-- 40
Equal the strength and number of each foe,
Sixteen appear'd like jet, sixteen like snow.
As their shape varies various is the name,
Different their posts, nor is their strength the same.
There might you see two Kings with equal pride 45
Gird on their arms, their Consorts by their side;
Here the Foot-warriors glowing after fame,
There prancing Knights and dexterous Archers came
And Elephants, that on their backs sustain
Vast towers of war, and fill and shake the plain. 50
And now both hosts, preparing for the storm
Of adverse battle, their encampments form.
In the fourth space, and on the farthest line,
Directly opposite the Monarchs shine;
The swarthy on white ground, on sable stands 55
The silver King; and then they send commands.
Nearest to these the Queens exert their might;
One the left side, and t'other guards the right:
Where each, by her respective armour known.
Chooses the colour that is like her own. 60
Then the young Archers, two that snowy-white
Bend the tough yew, and two as black as night;
(Greece call'd them Mars's favourites heretofore,
From their delight in war, and thirst of gore).
These on each side the Monarch and his Queen 65
Surround obedient; next to these are seen
The crested Knights in golden armour gay;
Their steeds by turns curvet, or snort or neigh.
In either army on each distant wing
Two mighty Elephants their castles bring, 70
Bulwarks immense! and then at last combine
Eight of the Foot to form the second line,
The vanguard to the King and Queen; from far
Prepared to open all the fate of war.
So moved the boxen hosts, each double-lined, 75
Their different colours floating in the wind:
As if an army of the Gauls should go,
With their white standards, o'er the Alpine snow
To meet in rigid fight on scorching sands
The sun-burnt Moors and Memnon's swarthy bands. 80
Then Father Ocean thus; you see them here,
Celestial powers, what troops, what camps appear.
Learn now the sev'ral orders of the fray,
For e'en these arms their stated laws obey.
To lead the fight, the Kings from all their bands
Choose whom they please to bear their great commands. 86
Should a black hero first to battle go,
Instant a white one guards against the blow;
But only one at once can charge or shun the foe.
Their gen'ral purpose on one scheme is bent, 90
So to besiege the King within the tent,
That there remains no place by subtle flight
From danger free; and that decides the fight.
Meanwhile, howe'er, the sooner to destroy
Th' imperial Prince, remorseless they employ 95
Their swords in blood; and whosoever dare
Oppose their vengeance, in the ruin share.
Fate thins their camp; the parti-coloured field
Widens apace, as they o'ercome or yield,
But the proud victor takes the captive's post; 100
There fronts the fury of th' avenging host
One single shock: and (should he ward the blow),
May then retire at pleasure from the foe.
The Foot alone (so their harsh laws ordain)
When they proceed can ne'er return again. 105
But neither all rush on alike to prove
The terror of their arms: The Foot must move
Directly on, and but a single square;
Yet may these heroes, when they first prepare
To mix in combat on the bloody mead, 110
Double their sally, and two steps proceed;
But when they wound, their swords they subtly guide
With aim oblique, and slanting pierce his side.
But the great Indian beasts, whose backs sustain
Vast turrets arm'd, when on the redd'ning plain 115
They join in all the terror of the fight,
Forward or backward, to the left or right,
Run furious, and impatient of confine
Scour through the field, and threat the farthest line.
Yet must they ne'er obliquely aim their blows;
That only manner is allow'd to those 121
Whom Mars has favour'd most, who bend the stubborn bows.
These glancing sidewards in a straight career,
Yet each confin'd to their respective sphere,
Or white or black, can send th' unerring dart 125
Wing'd with swift death to pierce through ev'ry part.
The fiery steed, regardless of the reins,
Comes prancing on; but sullenly disdains
The path direct, and boldly wheeling round,
Leaps o'er a double space at ev'ry bound: 130
And shifts from white or black to diff'rent colour'd ground.
But the fierce Queen, whom dangers ne'er dismay,
The strength and terror of the bloody day,
In a straight line spreads her destruction wide,
To left or right, before, behind, aside. 135
Yet may she never with a circling course
Sweep to the battle like the fretful Horse;
But unconfin'd may at her pleasure stray,
If neither friend nor foe block up the way;
For to o'erleap a warrior, 'tis decreed 140
Those only dare who curb the snorting steed.
With greater caution and majestic state
The warlike Monarchs in the scene of fate
Direct their motions, since for these appear
Zealous each hope, and anxious ev'ry fear. 145
While the King's safe, with resolution stern
They clasp their arms; but should a sudden turn
Make him a captive, instantly they yield,
Resolved to share his fortune in the field.
He moves on slow; with reverence profound 150
His faithful troops encompass him around,
And oft, to break some instant fatal scheme,
Rush to their fates, their sov'reign to redeem;
While he, unanxious where to wound the foe,
Need only shift and guard against a blow. 155
But none, however, can presume t' appear
Within his reach, but must his vengeance fear;
For he on ev'ry side his terror throws;
But when he changes from his first repose,
Moves but one step, most awfully sedate, 160
Or idly roving, or intent on fate.
These are the sev'ral and establish'd laws:
Now see how each maintains his bloody cause.
Here paused the god, but (since whene'er they wage
War here on earth the gods themselves engage 165
In mutual battle as they hate or love,
And the most stubborn war is oft above),
Almighty Jove commands the circling train
Of gods from fav'ring either to abstain,
And let the fight be silently survey'd; 170
And added solemn threats if disobey'd.
Then call'd he Phoebus from among the Powers
And subtle Hermes, whom in softer hours
Fair Maia bore: youth wanton'd in their face;
Both in life's bloom, both shone with equal grace.
Hermes as yet had never wing'd his feet; 176
As yet Apollo in his radiant seat
Had never driv'n his chariot through the air,
Known by his bow alone and golden hair.
These Jove commission'd to attempt the fray, 180
And rule the sportive military day;
Bid them agree which party each maintains,
And promised a reward that's worth their pains.
The greater took their seats; on either hand
Respectful the less gods in order stand, 185
But careful not to interrupt their play,
By hinting when t' advance or run away.
Then they examine, who shall first proceed
To try their courage, and their army lead.
Chance gave it for the White, that he should go 190
First with a brave defiance to the foe.
Awhile he ponder'd which of all his train
Should bear his first commission o'er the plain;
And then determined to begin the scene
With him that stood before to guard the Queen. 195
He took a double step: with instant care
Does the black Monarch in his turn prepare
The adverse champion, and with stern command
Bid him repel the charge with equal hand.
There front to front, the midst of all the field, 200
With furious threats their shining arms they wield;
Yet vain the conflict, neither can prevail
While in one path each other they assail.
On ev'ry side to their assistance fly
Their fellow soldiers, and with strong supply 205
Crowd to the battle, but no bloody stain
Tinctures their armour; sportive in the plain
Mars plays awhile, and in excursion slight
Harmless they sally forth, or wait the fight.
But now the swarthy Foot, that first appear'd 210
To front the foe, his pond'rous jav'lin rear'd
Leftward aslant, and a pale warrior slays,
Spurns him aside, and boldly takes his place.
Unhappy youth, his danger not to spy!
Instant he fell, and triumph'd but to die. 215
At this the sable King with prudent care
Removed his station from the middle square,
And slow retiring to the farthest ground,
There safely lurk'd, with troops entrench'd around.
Then from each quarter to the war advance 220
The furious Knights, and poise the trembling lance:
By turns they rush, by turns the victors yield,
Heaps of dead Foot choke up the crimson'd field:
They fall unable to retreat; around
The clang of arms and iron hoofs resound. 225
But while young Phoebus pleased himself to view
His furious Knight destroy the vulgar crew,
Sly Hermes long'd t' attempt with secret aim
Some noble act of more exalted fame.
For this, he inoffensive pass'd along 230
Through ranks of Foot, and midst the trembling throng
Sent his left Horse, that free without confine
Rov'd o'er the plain, upon some great design
Against the King himself. At length he stood,
And having fix'd his station as he would, 235
Threaten'd at once with instant fate the King
And th' Indian beast that guarded the right wing.
Apollo sigh'd, and hast'ning to relieve
The straiten'd Monarch, griev'd that he must leave
His martial Elephant expos'd to fate, 240
And view'd with pitying eyes his dang'rous state.
First in his thoughts however was his care
To save his King, whom to the neighbouring square
On the right hand, he snatch'd with trembling flight;
At this with fury springs the sable Knight, 245
Drew his keen sword, and rising to the blow,
Sent the great Indian brute to shades below.
O fatal loss! for none except the Queen
Spreads such a terror through the bloody scene.
Yet shall you ne'er unpunish'd boast your prize,
The Delian god with stern resentment cries; 251
And wedg'd him round with Foot, and pour'd in fresh supplies.
Thus close besieg'd trembling he cast his eye
Around the plain, but saw no shelter nigh,
No way for flight; for here the Queen oppos'd, 255
The Foot in phalanx there the passage clos'd:
At length he fell; yet not unpleas'd with fate,
Since victim to a Queen's vindictive hate.
With grief and fury burns the whiten'd host,
One of their Tow'rs thus immaturely lost. 260
As when a bull has in contention stern
Lost his right horn, with double vengeance burn
His thoughts for war, with blood he's cover'd o'er,
And the woods echo to his dismal roar,
So look'd the flaxen host, when angry fate 265
O'erturn'd the Indian bulwark of their state.
Fired at this great success, with double rage
Apollo hurries on his troops t' engage,
For blood and havoc wild; and, while he leads
His troops thus careless, loses both his steeds: 270
For if some adverse warriors were o'erthrown,
He little thought what dangers threat his own.
But slyer Hermes with observant eyes
March'd slowly cautious, and at distance spies
What moves must next succeed, what dangers next arise. 275
Often would he, the stately Queen to snare,
The slender Foot to front her arms prepare,
And to conceal his scheme he sighs and feigns
Such a wrong step would frustrate all his pains.
Just then an Archer, from the right-hand view, 280
At the pale Queen his arrow boldly drew,
Unseen by Phoebus, who, with studious thought,
From the left side a vulgar hero brought.
But tender Venus, with a pitying eye,
Viewing the sad destruction that was nigh, 285
Wink'd upon Phoebus (for the Goddess sat
By chance directly opposite); at that
Roused in an instant, young Apollo threw
His eyes around the field his troops to view:
Perceiv'd the danger, and with sudden fright 290
Withdrew the Foot that he had sent to fight,
And sav'd his trembling Queen by seasonable flight.
But Maia's son with shouts fill'd all the coast:
The Queen, he cried, the important Queen is lost.
Phoebus, howe'er, resolving to maintain 295
What he had done, bespoke the heavenly train.
What mighty harm, in sportive mimic flight,
Is it to set a little blunder right,
When no preliminary rule debarr'd?
If you henceforward, Mercury, would guard 300
Against such practice, let us make the law:
And whosoe'er shall first to battle draw,
Or white, or black, remorseless let him go
At all events, and dare the angry foe.
He said, and this opinion pleased around: 305
Jove turn'd aside, and on his daughter frown'd,
Unmark'd by Hermes, who, with strange surprise,
Fretted and foam'd, and roll'd his ferret eyes,
And but with great reluctance could refrain
From dashing at a blow all off the plain. 310
Then he resolved to interweave deceits, --
To carry on the war by tricks and cheats.
Instant he call'd an Archer from the throng,
And bid him like the courser wheel along:
Bounding he springs, and threats the pallid Queen.
The fraud, however, was by Phoebus seen; 316
He smiled, and, turning to the Gods, he said:
Though, Hermes, you are perfect in your trade,
And you can trick and cheat to great surprise,
These little sleights no more shall blind my eyes;
Correct them if you please, the more you thus disguise. 321
The circle laugh'd aloud; and Maia's son
(As if it had but by mistake been done)
Recall'd his Archer, and with motion due,
Bid him advance, the combat to renew. 325
But Phoebus watch'd him with a jealous eye,
Fearing some trick was ever lurking nigh,
For he would oft, with sudden sly design,
Send forth at once two combatants to join
His warring troops, against the law of arms, 330
Unless the wary foe was ever in alarms.
Now the white Archer with his utmost force
Bent the tough bow against the sable Horse,
And drove him from the Queen, where he had stood
Hoping to glut his vengeance with her blood. 335
Then the right Elephant with martial pride
Roved here and there, and spread his terrors wide:
Glittering in arms from far a courser came,
Threaten'd at once the King and Royal Dame;
Thought himself safe when he the post had seized,
And with the future spoils his fancy pleased. 341
Fired at the danger a young Archer came,
Rush'd on the foe, and levell'd sure his aim;
(And though a Pawn his sword in vengeance draws,
Gladly he'd lose his life in glory's cause). 345
The whistling arrow to his bowels flew,
And the sharp steel his blood profusely drew;
He drops the reins, he totters to the ground,
And his life issued murm'ring through the wound.
Pierced by the Foot, this Archer bit the plain;
The Foot himself was by another slain; 351
And with inflamed revenge, the battle burns again.
Towers, Archers, Knights, meet on the crimson ground,
And the field echoes to the martial sound.
Their thoughts are heated, and their courage fired,
Thick they rush on with double zeal inspired; 356
Generals and Foot, with different colour'd mien,
Confusedly warring in the camps are seen, --
Valour and fortune meet in one promiscuous scene.
Now these victorious, lord it o'er the field; 360
Now the foe rallies, the triumphant yield:
Just as the tide of battle ebbs or flows.
As when the conflict more tempestuous grows
Between the winds, with strong and boisterous sweep
They plough th' Ionian or Atlantic deep! 365
By turns prevail the mutual blustering roar,
And the big waves alternate lash the shore.
But in the midst of all the battle raged
The snowy Queen, with troops at once engaged;
She fell'd an Archer as she sought the plain, -- 370
As she retired an Elephant was slain:
To right and left her fatal spears she sent,
Burst through the ranks, and triumph'd as she went;
Through arms and blood she seeks a glorious fate,
Pierces the farthest lines, and nobly great 375
Leads on her army with a gallant show,
Breaks the battalions, and cuts through the foe.
At length the sable King his fears betray'd,
And begg'd his military consort's aid:
With cheerful speed she flew to his relief, 380
And met in equal arms the female chief.
Who first, great Queen, and who at last did bleed?
How many Whites lay gasping on the mead?
Half dead, and floating in a bloody tide,
Foot, Knights, and Archer lie on every side. 385
Who can recount the slaughter of the day?
How many leaders threw their lives away?
The chequer'd plain is fill'd with dying box,
Havoc ensues, and with tumultuous shocks
The different colour'd ranks in blood engage, 390
And Foot and Horse promiscuously rage.
With nobler courage and superior might
The dreadful Amazons sustain the fight,
Resolved alike to mix in glorious strife,
Till to imperious fate they yield their life. 395
Meanwhile each Monarch, in a neighbouring cell,
Confined the warriors that in battle fell,
There watch'd the captives with a jealous eye,
Lest, slipping out again, to arms they fly.
But Thracian Mars, in stedfast friendship join'd 400
To Hermes, as near Phoebus he reclined,
Observed each chance, how all their motions bend,
Resolved if possible to serve his friend.
He a Foot-soldier and a Knight purloin'd
Out from the prison that the dead confined; 405
And slyly push'd 'em forward on the plain;
Th' enliven'd combatants their arms regain,
Mix in the bloody scene, and boldly war again.
So the foul hag, in screaming wild alarms
O'er a dead carcase muttering her charms, 410
(And with her frequent and tremendous yell
Forcing great Hecate from out of hell)
Shoots in the corpse a new fictitious soul;
With instant glare the supple eyeballs roll,
Again it moves and speaks, and life informs the whole. 415
Vulcan alone discern'd the subtle cheat;
And wisely scorning such a base deceit,
Call'd out to Phoebus. Grief and rage assail
Phoebus by turns; detected Mars turns pale.
Then awful Jove with sullen eye reproved 420
Mars, and the captives order'd to be moved
To their dark caves; bid each fictitious spear
Be straight recall'd, and all be as they were.
And now both Monarchs with redoubled rage
Led on their Queens, the mutual war to wage. 425
O'er all the field their thirsty spears they send,
Then front to front their Monarchs they defend.
But lo! the female White rush'd in unseen,
And slew with fatal haste the swarthy Queen;
Yet soon, alas! resign'd her royal spoils, 430
Snatch'd by a shaft from her successful toils.
Struck at the sight, both hosts in wild surprise
Pour'd forth their tears, and fill'd the air with cries;
They wept and sigh'd, as pass'd the fun'ral train,
As if both armies had at once been slain. 435
And now each troop surrounds its mourning chief,
To guard his person, or assuage his grief.
One is their common fear; one stormy blast
Has equally made havoc as it pass'd.
Not all, however, of their youth are slain; 440
Some champions yet the vig'rous war maintain.
Three Foot, an Archer, and a stately Tower,
For Phoebus still exert their utmost power.
Just the same number Mercury can boast,
Except the Tower, who lately in his post 445
Unarm'd inglorious fell, in peace profound,
Pierced by an Archer with a distant wound;
But his right Horse retain'd its mettled pride, --
The rest were swept away by war's strong tide.
But fretful Hermes, with despairing moan, 450
Griev'd that so many champions were o'erthrown,
Yet reassumes the fight; and summons round
The little straggling army that he found, --
All that had 'scaped from fierce Apollo's rage, --
Resolved with greater caution to engage 455
In future strife, by subtle wiles (if fate
Should give him leave) to save his sinking state.
The sable troops advance with prudence slow,
Bent on all hazards to distress the foe.
More cheerful Phoebus, with unequal pace, 460
Rallies his arms to lessen his disgrace.
But what strange havoc everywhere has been!
A straggling champion here and there is seen;
And many are the tents, yet few are left within.
Th' afflicted Kings bewail their consorts dead, 465
And loathe the thoughts of a deserted bed;
And though each monarch studies to improve
The tender mem'ry of his former love,
Their state requires a second nuptial tie.
Hence the pale ruler with a love-sick eye 470
Surveys th' attendants of his former wife,
And offers one of them a royal life.
These, when their martial mistress had been slain,
Weak and despairing tried their arms in vain;
Willing, howe'er, amidst the Black to go, 475
They thirst for speedy vengeance on the foe.
Then he resolves to see who merits best,
By strength and courage, the imperial vest;
Points out the foe, bids each with bold design
Pierce through the ranks, and reach the deepest line:
For none must hope with monarchs to repose 481
But who can first, through thick surrounding foes,
Through arms and wiles, with hazardous essay,
Safe to the farthest quarters force their way.
Fired at the thought, with sudden, joyful pace 485
They hurry on; but first of all the race
Runs the third right-hand warrior for the prize, --
The glitt'ring crown already charms her eyes.
Her dear associates cheerfully give o'er
The nuptial chase; and swift she flies before, 490
And Glory lent her wings, and the reward in store.
Nor would the sable King her hopes prevent,
For he himself was on a Queen intent,
Alternate, therefore, through the field they go.
Hermes led on, but by a step too slow, 495
His fourth left Pawn: and now th' advent'rous White
Had march'd through all, and gain'd the wish'd for site.
Then the pleased King gives orders to prepare
The crown, the sceptre, and the royal chair,
And owns her for his Queen: around exult 500
The snowy troops, and o'er the Black insult.
Hermes burst into tears, -- with fretful roar
Fill'd the wide air, and his gay vesture tore.
The swarthy Foot had only to advance
One single step; but oh! malignant chance! 505
A towered Elephant, with fatal aim,
Stood ready to destroy her when she came:
He keeps a watchful eye upon the whole,
Threatens her entrance, and protects the goal.
Meanwhile the royal new-created bride, 510
Pleased with her pomp, spread death and terror wide;
Like lightning through the sable troops she flies,
Clashes her arms, and seems to threat the skies.
The sable troops are sunk in wild affright, 514
And wish th' earth op'ning snatch'd 'em from her sight.
In burst the Queen, with vast impetuous swing:
The trembling foes come swarming round the King,
Where in the midst he stood, and form a valiant ring.
So the poor cows, straggling o'er pasture land,
When they perceive the prowling wolf at hand, 520
Crowd close together in a circle full,
And beg the succour of the lordly bull;
They clash their horns, they low with dreadful sound,
And the remotest groves re-echo round.
But the bold Queen, victorious, from behind 525
Pierces the foe; yet chiefly she design'd
Against the King himself some fatal aim,
And full of war to his pavilion came.
Now here she rush'd, now there; and had she been
But duly prudent, she had slipp'd between, 530
With course oblique, into the fourth white square,
And the long toil of war had ended there,
The King had fallen, and all his sable state;
And vanquish'd Hermes cursed his partial fate.
For thence with ease the championess might go, 535
Murder the King, and none could ward the blow.
With silence, Hermes, and with panting heart,
Perceived the danger, but with subtle art,
(Lest he should see the place) spurs on the foe, 539
Confounds his thoughts, and blames his being slow.
For shame! move on; would you for ever stay?
What sloth is this, what strange perverse delay? --
How could you e'er my little pausing blame? --
What! you would wait till night shall end the game?
Phoebus, thus nettled, with imprudence slew 545
A vulgar Pawn, but lost his nobler view.
Young Hermes leap'd, with sudden joy elate;
And then, to save the monarch from his fate,
Led on his martial Knight, who stepp'd between,
Pleased that his charge was to oppose the Queen --
Then, pondering how the Indian beast to slay, 551
That stopp'd the Foot from making farther way, --
From being made a Queen; with slanting aim
An archer struck him; down the monster came,
And dying shook the earth: while Phoebus tries 555
Without success the monarch to surprise.
The Foot, then uncontroll'd with instant pride,
Seized the last spot, and moved a royal bride.
And now with equal strength both war again,
And bring their second wives upon the plain; 560
Then, though with equal views each hop'd and fear'd,
Yet, as if every doubt had disappear'd,
As if he had the palm, young Hermes flies
Into excess of joy; with deep disguise, 564
Extols his own Black troops, with frequent spite
And with invective taunts disdains the White.
Whom Phoebus thus reproved with quick return --
As yet we cannot the decision learn
Of this dispute, and do you triumph now?
Then your big words and vauntings I'll allow, 570
When you the battle shall completely gain;
At present I shall make your boasting vain.
He said, and forward led the daring Queen;
Instant the fury of the bloody scene
Rises tumultuous, swift the warriors fly 575
From either side to conquer or to die.
They front the storm of war: around 'em Fear,
Terror, and Death, perpetually appear.
All meet in arms, and man to man oppose,
Each from their camp attempts to drive their foes;
Each tries by turns to force the hostile lines; 581
Chance and impatience blast their best designs.
The sable Queen spread terror as she went
Through the mid ranks: with more reserved intent
The adverse dame declined the open fray, 585
And to the King in private stole away:
Then took the royal guard, and bursting in,
With fatal menace close besieged the King.
Alarm'd at this, the swarthy Queen, in haste,
From all her havoc and destructive waste 590
Broke off, and her contempt of death to show,
Leap'd in between the Monarch and the foe,
To save the King and state from this impending blow.
But Phoebus met a worse misfortune here:
For Hermes now led forward, void of fear, 595
His furious Horse into the open plain,
That onward chafed, and pranced, and pawed amain.
Nor ceased from his attempts until he stood
On the long-wished-for spot, from whence he could
Slay King or Queen. O'erwhelm'd with sudden fears,
Apollo saw, and could not keep from tears. 601
Now all seem'd ready to be overthrown;
His strength was wither'd, ev'ry hope was flown.
Hermes, exulting at this great surprise,
Shouted for joy, and fill'd the air with cries; 605
Instant he sent the Queen to shades below,
And of her spoils made a triumphant show.
But in return, and in his mid career,
Fell his brave Knight, beneath the Monarch's spear.
Phoebus, however, did not yet despair, 610
But still fought on with courage and with care.
He had but two poor common men to show,
And Mars's favourite with his iv'ry bow.
The thoughts of ruin made 'em dare their best
To save their King, so fatally distress'd. 615
But the sad hour required not such an aid;
And Hermes breathed revenge where'er he stray'd.
Fierce comes the sable Queen with fatal threat,
Surrounds the Monarch in his royal seat;
Rushed here and there, nor rested till she slew
The last remainder of the whiten'd crew. 621
Sole stood the King, the midst of all the plain,
Weak and defenceless, his companions slain.
As when the ruddy morn ascending high
Has chased the twinkling stars from all the sky,
Your star, fair Venus, still retains its light, 626
And, loveliest, goes the latest out of sight.
No safety's left, no gleams of hope remain;
Yet did he not as vanquish'd quit the plain,
But tried to shut himself between the foe, -- 630
Unhurt through swords and spears he hoped to go,
Until no room was left to shun the fatal blow.
For if none threaten'd his immediate fate,
And his next move must ruin all his state,
All their past toil and labour is in vain, 635
Vain all the bloody carnage of the plain, --
Neither would triumph then, the laurel neither gain.
Therefore through each void space and desert tent,
By different moves his various course he bent:
The Black King watch'd him with observant eye, 640
Follow'd him close, but left him room to fly.
Then when he saw him take the farthest line,
He sent the Queen his motions to confine,
And guard the second rank, that he could go
No farther now than to that distant row. 645
The sable monarch then with cheerful mien
Approach'd, but always with one space between.
But as the King stood o'er against him there,
Helpless, forlorn, and sunk in his despair,
The martial Queen her lucky moment knew,
Seized on the farthest seat with fatal view,
Nor left th' unhappy King a place to flee unto.
At length in vengeance her keen sword she draws,
Slew him, and ended thus the bloody cause:
And all the gods around approved it with applause.
The victor could not from his insults keep, 656
But laugh'd and sneer'd to see Apollo weep.
Jove call'd him near, and gave him in his hand
The powerful, happy, and mysterious wand
By which the Shades are call'd to purer day, 660
When penal fire has purged their sins away;
By which the guilty are condemn'd to dwell
In the dark mansions of the deepest hell;
By which he gives us sleep, or sleep denies,
And closes at the last the dying eyes. 665
Soon after this, the heavenly victor brought
The game on earth, and first th' Italians taught.
For (as they say) fair Scacchis he espied
Feeding her cygnets in the silver tide,
(Sacchis, the loveliest Seriad of the place) 670
And as she stray'd, took her to his embrace.
Then, to reward her for her virtue lost,
Gave her the men and chequer'd board, emboss'd
With gold and silver curiously inlay'd;
And taught her how the game was to be play'd. 675
Ev'n now 'tis honour'd with her happy name;
And Rome and all the world admire the game.
All which the Seriads told me heretofore,
When my boy-notes amused the Serian shore.
P. ix, l. 6. -----
"He was born...at Pallas." This is the usual
account. But it was maintained by the family of the poet's
mother, and has been contended (by Dr. Michael F. Cox in a
Lecture on 'The Country and Kindred of Oliver Goldsmith,'
published in vol. 1, pt. 2, of the 'Journal' of the 'National
Literary Society of Ireland.' 1900) that his real birth-place
was the residence of Mrs. Goldsmith's parents, Smith-Hill House,
Elphin, Roscommon, to which she was in the habit of paying
frequent visits. Meanwhile, in 1897, a window was placed to
Goldsmith's memory in Forgney Church, Longford,--the church of
which, at the time of his birth, his father was curate.
P. x, l. 33. -----
"his academic career was not a success." 'Oliver
Goldsmith is recorded on two occasions as being remarkably
diligent at Morning Lecture; again, as cautioned for bad
answering at Morning and Greek Lectures; and finally, as put
down into the next class for neglect of his studies' (Dr.
Stubbs's 'History of the University of Dublin', 1889, p. 201 n.)
P. xi, l. 21. -----
"a scratched signature upon a window-pane." This,
which is now at Trinity College, Dublin, is here reproduced in
facsimile. When the garrets of No. 35, Parliament Square, were
pulled down in 1837, it was cut out of the window by the last
occupant of the rooms, who broke it in the process. (Dr. J. F.
Waller in Cassell's 'Works' of Goldsmith, [1864-5], pp. xiii-xiv
P. xiii, l. 23. -----
"a poor physician". Where he obtained his
diploma is not known. It was certainly not at Padua
('Athenaeum', July 21, 1894). At Leyden and Louvain Prior made
inquiries but, in each case, without success. The annals of the
University of Louvain were, however, destroyed in the
revolutionary wars. (Prior, 'Life', 1837, i, pp. 171, 178).
P. xv, l. 7. -----
"declared it to be by Goldsmith". Goldsmith's
authorship of this version has now been placed beyond a doubt by
the publication in facsimile of his signed receipt to Edward
Dilly for a third share of 'my translation,' such third share
amounting to 6 pounds 13s. 4d. The receipt, which belongs to Mr.
J. W. Ford of Enfield Old Park, is dated 'January 11th, 1758.'
('Memoirs of a Protestant', etc., Dent's edition, 1895, i, pp.
P. xvi, l. 9. -----
12, "Green Arbour Court, Old Bailey". This was a
tiny square occupying a site now absorbed by the Holborn Viaduct
and Railway Station. No. 12, where Goldsmith lived, was later
occupied by Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co. as a printing office. An
engraving of the Court forms the frontispiece to the 'European
Magazine' for January, 1803.
P. xvii, l. 29. -----
"or some of his imitators". The proximate
cause of the 'Citizen of the World', as the present writer has
suggested elsewhere, 'may' have been Horace Walpole's 'Letter
from XoHo [Soho?], a Chinese Philosopher at London, to his
friend Lien Chi, at Peking'. This was noticed as 'in
Montesquieu's manner' in the May issue of the 'Monthly Review'
for 1757, to which Goldsmith was a contributor ('Eighteenth
Century Vignettes', first series, second edition, 1897, pp.
P. xix, l. 23. -----
"demonstrable from internal evidence".
e.g.--The references to the musical glasses (ch. ix), which were
the rage in 1761-2; and to the 'Auditor' (ch. xix) established
by Arthur Murphy in June of the latter year. The sale of the
'Vicar' is discussed at length in chapter vii of the editor's
'Life of Oliver Goldsmith' ('Great Writers' series), 1888, pp.
P. xxii, l. 13. -----
"started with a loss". This, which to some
critics has seemed unintelliglble, rests upon the following:
'The first three editions,...resulted in a loss, and the fourth,
which was not issued until eight [four?] years after the first,
started with a balance against it of 2 pounds 16s. 6d., and it
was not until that fourth edition had been sold that the balance
came out on the right side' ('A Bookseller of the Last Century'
[John Newbery] by Charles Welsh, 1885, p. 61). The writer based
his statement upon Collins's 'Publishing book, account of books
printed and shares therein, No. 3, 1770 to 1785.'
P. xxvii, l. 7. -----
"James's Powder". This was a famous patent
panacea, invented by Johnson's Lichfield townsman, Dr. Robert
James of the 'Medicinal Dictionary'. It was sold by John
Newbery, and had an extraordinary vogue. The King dosed Princess
Elizabeth with it; Fielding, Gray, and Cowper all swore by it,
and Horace Walpole, who wished to try it upon Mme. du Deffand
'in extremis', said he should use it if the house were on fire.
William Hawes, the Strand apothecary who attended Goldsmith,
wrote an interesting 'Account of the late Dr. Goldsmith's
Illness, so far as relates to the Exhibition of Dr. James's
Powders, etc.', 1774, which he dedicated to Reynolds and Burke.
To Hawes once belonged the poet's worn old wooden writing-desk,
now in the South Kensington Museum, where are also his favourite
chair and cane. Another desk-chair, which had descended from his
friend, Edmund Bott, was recently for sale at Sotheby's (July,
EDITIONS OF THE POEMS.
No collected edition of Goldsmith's poetical works appeared until after
his death. But, in 1775, W. Griffin, who had published the 'Essays' of
ten years earlier, issued a volume entitled 'The Miscellaneous Works of
Oliver Goldsmith, M.B., containing all his Essays and Poems'. The
'poems' however were confined to 'The Traveller,' 'The Deserted
Village,' 'Edwin and Angelina,' 'The Double Transformation,' 'A New
Simile,' and 'Retaliation,'--an obviously imperfect harvesting. In the
following year G. Kearsly printed an eighth edition of 'Retaliation',
with which he included 'The Hermit' ('Edwin and Angelina'), 'The Gift,'
'Madam Blaize,' and the epilogues to 'The Sister' and 'She stoops to
Conquer'*; while to an edition of 'The Haunch of Venison', also put
forth in 1776, he added the 'Epitaph on Parnell' and two songs from the
oratorio of 'The Captivity'. The next collection appeared in a volume of
'Poems and Plays' published at Dublin in 1777, where it was preceded by
a 'Life,' written by W. Glover, one of Goldsmith's 'Irish clients.'
Then, in 1780, came vol. i of T. Evans's 'Poetical and Dramatic Works
etc., now first collected', also having a 'Memoir,' and certainly fuller
than anything which had gone before. Next followed the long-deferred
'Miscellaneous Works, etc.', of 1801, in four volumes, vol. ii of which
comprised the plays and poems. Prefixed to this edition is the important
biographical sketch, compiled under the direction of Bishop Percy, and
usually described as the 'Percy Memoir', by which title it is referred
to in the ensuing notes. The next memorable edition was that edited for
the Aldine Series in 1831, by the Rev. John Mitford. Prior and Wright's
edition in vol. iv of the 'Miscellaneous Works, etc.', of 1837, comes
after this; then Bolton Corney's excellent 'Poetical Works' of 1845; and
vol. i of Peter Cunningham's 'Works, etc.' of 1854. There are other
issues of the poems, the latest of which is to be found in vol. ii
(1885) of the complete 'Works', in five volumes, edited for Messrs.
George Bell and Sons by J. W. M. Gibbs.
[footnote] *Some copies of this are dated 1777, and contain 'The Haunch
of Venison' and a few minor pieces.
Most of the foregoing editions have been consulted for the following
notes; but chiefly those of Mitford, Prior, Bolton Corney, and
Cunningham. Many of the illustrations and explanations now supplied will
not, however, be found in any of the sources indicated. When an
elucidatory or parallel passage is cited, an attempt has been made, as
far as possible, to give the credit of it to the first discoverer. Thus,
some of the illustrations in Cunningham's notes are here transferred to
Prior, some of Prior's to Mitford, and so forth. As regards the notes
themselves, care has been taken to make them full enough to obviate the
necessity, except in rare instances, of further investigation. It is the
editor's experience that references to external authorities are, as a
general rule, sign-posts to routes which are seldom travelled*.
[footnote] *In this connexion may be recalled the dictum of Hume quoted
by Dr. Birkbeck Hill:--'Every book should be as complete as possible
within itself, and should never refer for anything material to other
books' ('History of England', 1802, ii. 101).
It was on those continental wanderings which occupied Goldsmith between
February, 1755 and February, 1756 that he conceived his first idea of
this, the earliest of his poems to which he prefixed his name; and he
probably had in mind Addison's 'Letter from Italy to Lord Halifax', a
work in which he found 'a strain of political thinking that was, at that
time . new in our poetry.' ('Beauties of English Poesy', 1767, i.
III). From the dedicatory letter to his brother--which says expressly,
'as a part of this Poem was formerly written to you from Switzerland,
the whole can now, with propriety, be only inscribed to you'--it is
plain that some portion of it must have been actually composed abroad.
It was not, however, actually published until the 19th of December,
1764, and the title-page bore the date of 1765*. The publisher was John
Newbery, of St. Paul's Churchyard, and the price of the book, a quarto
of 30 pages, was 1s. 6d. A second, third and fourth edition quickly
followed, and a ninth, from which it is here reprinted, was issued in
1774, the year of the author's death. Between the first and the sixth
edition of 1770 there were numerous alterations, the more important of
which are indicated in the ensuing notes.
[footnote] *This is the generally recognized first edition. But the
late Mr. Frederick Locker Lampson, the poet and collector, possessed a
quarto copy, dated 1764, which had no author's name, and in which the
dedication ran as follows:--'This poem is inscribed to the Rev. Henry
Goldsmith, M.A. By his most affectionate Brother Oliver Goldsmith.' It
was, in all probability, unique, though it is alleged that there are
octavo copies which present similar characteristics. It has now gone to
America with the Rowfant Library.
In 1902 an interesting discovery was made by Mr. Bertram Dobell, to whom
the public are indebted for so many important literary 'finds.' In a
parcel of pamphlets he came upon a number of loose printed leaves
entitled 'A Prospect of Society'. They obviously belonged to 'The
Traveller'; but seemed to be its 'formless unarranged material,' and
contained many variations from the text of the first edition. Mr.
Dobell's impression was that 'the author's manuscript, written on loose
leaves, had fallen into confusion, and was then printed without any
attempt at re-arrangement.' This was near the mark; but the complete
solution of the riddle was furnished by Mr. Quiller Couch in an article
in the 'Daily News' for March 31, 1902, since recast in his charming
volume 'From a Cornish Window', 1906, pp. 86-92. He showed conclusively
that 'The Prospect' was 'merely an early draft of 'The Traveller'
printed backwards in fairly regular sections.' What had manifestly
happened was this. Goldsmith, turning over each page as written, had
laid it on the top of the preceding page of MS. and forgotten to
rearrange them when done. Thus the series of pages were reversed; and,
so reversed, were set up in type by a matter-of-fact compositor. Mr.
Dobell at once accepted this happy explanation; which--as Mr. Quiller
Couch points out--has the advantage of being a 'blunder just so natural
to Goldsmith as to be almost postulable.' One or two of the variations
of Mr. Dobell's 'find'--variations, it should be added, antecedent to
the first edition--are noted in their places.
The didactic purpose of 'The Traveller' is defined in the concluding
paragraph of the 'Dedication'; and, like many of the thoughts which it
contains, had been anticipated in a passage of 'The Citizen of the
World', 1762, i. 185:--'Every mind seems capable of entertaining a
certain quantity of happiness, which no institutions can encrease, no
circumstances alter, and entirely independent on fortune.' But the best
short description of the poem is Macaulay's:--'In the 'Traveller' the
execution, though deserving of much praise, is far inferior to the
design. No philosophical poem, ancient or modern, has a plan so noble,
and at the same time so simple. An English wanderer, seated on a crag
among the Alps, near the point where three great countries meet, looks
down on the boundless prospect, reviews his long pilgrimage, recalls the
varieties of scenery, of climate, of government, of religion, of
national character, which he has observed, and comes to the conclusion,
just or unjust, that our happiness depends little on political
institutions, and much on the temper and regulation of our own minds.'
('Encyclop. Britannica', Goldsmith, February, 1856.)
The only definite record of payment for 'The Traveller' is 'Copy of the
Traveller, a Poem, 21l,' in Newbery's MSS.; but as the same sum occurs
in Memoranda of much later date than 1764, it is possible that the
success of the book may have prompted some supplementary fee.
'A Prospect', i.e. 'a view.' 'I went to Putney, and other places on the
Thames, to take 'prospects' in crayon, to carry into France, where I
thought to have them engraved' (Evelyn, 'Diary', 20th June, 1649). And
Reynolds uses the word of Claude in his Fourth Discourse:--'His pictures
are a composition of the various draughts which he had previously made
from various beautiful scenes and prospects' ('Works', by Malone, 1798,
i. 105). The word is common on old prints, e.g. 'An Exact Prospect of
the Magnificent Stone Bridge at Westminster', etc., 1751.
'Dedication'. The Rev. Henry Goldsmith, says the Percy 'Memoir', 1801,
p. 3, 'had distinguished himself both at school and at college, but he
unfortunately married at the early age of nineteen; which confined him
to a Curacy, and prevented his rising to preferment in the church.'
l. 14. -----
"with an income of forty pounds a year". Cf. 'The Deserted
A man he was, to all the country dear,
And passing rich with 'forty pounds a year'.
Cf. also Parson Adams in ch. iii of 'Joseph Andrews', who has
twenty-three; and Mr. Rivers, in the 'Spiritual Quixote',
1772:--'I do not choose to go into orders to be a curate all my
life-time, and work for about fifteen-pence a day, or
twenty-five pounds a year' (bk. vi, ch. xvii). Dr. Primrose's
stipend is thirty-five in the first instance, fifteen in the
second ('Vicar of Wakefield', chapters ii and iii). But
Professor Hales ('Longer English Poems', 1885, p. 351) supplies
an exact parallel in the case of Churchill, who, he says, when
a curate at Rainham, 'prayed and starved on 'forty pounds a
year'.' The latter words are Churchill's own, and sound like a
quotation; but he was dead long before 'The Deserted Village'
appeared in 1770. There is an interesting paper in the
'Gentleman's Magazine' for November, 1763, on the miseries and
hardships of the 'inferior clergy.'
l. 20. -----
But of all kinds of ambition", etc. In the first edition of
1765, p. ii, this passage was as follows:--'But of all kinds of
ambition, as things are now circumstanced, perhaps that which
pursues poetical fame, is the wildest. What from the encreased
refinement of the times, from the diversity of judgments
produced by opposing systems of criticism, and from the more
prevalent divisions of opinion influenced by party, the
strongest and happiest efforts can expect to please but in a
very narrow circle. Though the poet were as sure of his aim as
the imperial archer of antiquity, who boasted that he never
missed the heart; yet would many of his shafts now fly at
random, for the heart is too often in the wrong place.' In the
second edition it was curtailed; in the sixth it took its final
l. 29. -----
"they engross all that favour once shown to her". First
version--'They engross all favour to themselves.'
l. 30. -----
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