—Praecipe lugubres
Cantus, Melpomene!— HOR.

LONDON: Printed for R. DODSLEY at Tully's Head in Pall-mall; and sold by M. COOPER at the Globe in Pater-noster-Row. 1747. (Price One Shilling.)


MOther of Musings, Contemplation sage,
Whose mansion is upon the topmost cliff
Of cloud-capt Teneriff, in secret bow'r;
Where ever wrapt in meditation high,
Thou hear'st unmov'd, in dark tempestuous night,
The loud winds howl around, the beating rain
[Page 4]And the big hail in mingling storm descend
Upon his horrid brow. But when the skies
Unclouded shine, and thro' the blue serene
Pale Cynthia rolls her silver-axled car,
Then ever looking on the spangled vault
Raptur'd thou sit'st, while murmurs indistinct
Of distant billows sooth thy pensive ear
With hoarse and hollow sounds; secure, self-blest,
Oft too thou listen'st to the wild uproar
Of fleets encount'ring, that in whispers low
Ascends the rocky summit, where thou dwell'st
Remote from man, conversing with the spheres.
O lead me, black-brow'd [...], to solemn glooms
Cogenial with my soul, to chearless shades,
To ruin'd seats, to twilight cells and bow'rs,
Where thoughtful Melancholy loves to muse,
[Page 5]Her fav'rite midnight haunts. The laughing scenes
Of purple Spring, where all the wanton train
Of Smiles and Graces seem to lead the dance
In sportive round, while from their hands they show'r
Ambrosial blooms and flow'rs, no longer charm;
Tempe, no more I court thy balmy breeze,
Adieu green vales! embroider'd meads adieu!
Beneath yon' ruin'd Abbey's moss-grown piles
Oft let me sit, at twilight hour of Eve,
Where thro' some western window the pale moon
Pours her long-levell'd rule of streaming light;
While sullen sacred silence reigns around,
Save the lone Screech-owl's note, whose bow'r is built
Amid the mould'ring caverns dark and damp,
And the calm breeze, that rustles in the leaves
[Page 6]Of flaunting Ivy, that with mantle green
Invests some sacred tow'r. Or let me tread
It's neighb'ring walk of pines, where stray'd of old
The cloyster'd brothers: thro' the gloomy void
That far extends beneath their ample arch
As on I tread, religious horror wraps
My soul in dread repose. But when the world
Is clad in Midnight's raven-colour'd robe,
In hollow charnel let me watch the flame
Of taper dim, while airy voices talk
Along the glimm'ring walls, or ghostly shape
At distance seen, invites with beck'ning hand
My lonesome steps, thro' the far-winding vaults.
Nor undelightful is the solemn noon
Of night, when haply wakeful from my couch
I start: lo, all is motionless around!
[Page 7]Roars not the rushing wind, the sons of men
And every beast in mute oblivion lie;
All Nature's hush'd in silence and in sleep.
O then how fearful is it to reflect,
That thro' the solitude of the still globe
No Being wakes but me! 'till stealing sleep
My drooping temples baths in opiate dews.
Nor then let dreams, of wanton Folly born,
My senses lead thro' flowery paths of joy;
But let the sacred Genius of the night
Such mystic visions send, as SPENSER saw,
When thro' bewild'ring Fancy's magic maze,
To the bright regions of the fairy world
Soar'd his creative mind: or MILTON knew,
When in abstracted thought he first conceiv'd
[Page 8]All heav'n in tumult, and the Seraphim
Come tow'ring, arm'd in adamant and gold.
Let others love the Summer-ev'ning's smiles,
As list'ning to some distant water-fall
They mark the blushes of the streaky west:
I choose the pale December's foggy glooms;
Then, when the sullen shades of Ev'ning close,
Where thro' the room a blindly-glimm'ring gleam
The dying embers scatter, far remote
From Mirth's mad shouts, that thro' the lighted roof
Resound with festive echo, let me sit,
Blest with the lowly cricket's drowsy dirge.
Then let my contemplative thought explore
This fleeting state of things, the vain delights,
The fruitless toils, that still elude our search,
[Page 9]As thro' the wilderness of life we rove.
This sober hour of silence will unmask
False Folly's smiles, that like the dazling spells
Of wily Comus, cheat th' unweeting eye
With blear illusion, and persuade to drink
The charmed cup, that Reason's mintage fair
Unmoulds, and stamps the monster on the man.
Eager we taste, but in the luscious draught
Forget the pois'nous dregs that lurk beneath.
Few know that Elegance of soul refin'd,
Whose soft sensation feels a quicker joy
From Melancholy's scenes, than the dull pride
Of tasteless splendor and magnificence
Can e'er afford. Thus Eloise, whose mind
Had languish'd to the pangs of melting love,
[Page 10]More secret transport found, as on some tomb
Reclin'd she watch'd the tapers of the dead,
Or thro' the pillar'd isles, amid the shrines
Of imag'd saints, and intermingled graves,
Which scarce the story'd windows dim disclos'd,
Musing she wander'd; than Cosmelia finds,
As thro' the Mall in silken pomp array'd,
She floats amid the gilded sons of dress,
And shines the fairest of th' assembled Belles.
When azure noon-tide chears the daedal globe,
And the glad regent of the golden day
Rejoices in his bright meridian bow'r,
How oft my wishes ask the night's return,
That best befriends the melancholy mind!
Hail, sacred Night! to thee my song I raise!
[Page 11]Sister of ebon-scepter'd Hecat, hail!
Whether in congregated clouds thou wrap'st
Thy viewless chariot, or with silver crown
Thy beaming head encirclest, ever hail!
What tho' beneath thy gloom the Lapland witch
Oft celebrates her moon-eclipsing rites;
Tho' Murther wan, beneath thy shrouding shade
Oft calls her silent vot'ries to devise
Of blood and slaughter, while by one blue lamp
In secret conf'rence sits the list'ning band,
And start at each low wind, or wakeful sound:
What tho' thy stay the Pilgrim curses oft,
As all benighted in Arabian wastes
He hears the howling wilderness resound
With roaming monsters, while on his hoar head
The black-descending tempest ceaseless beats;
[Page 12]Yet more delightful to my pensive mind
Is thy return, than bloomy Morn's approach,
When from the portals of the saffron East
She sheds fresh roses and ambrosial dews.
Yet not ungrateful is the Morn's approach,
When dropping wet she comes, and clad in clouds,
While thro' the damp air scowls the peevish South,
And the dusk landschape rises dim to view.
Th' afflicted songsters of the sadden'd groves
Hail not the sullen gloom, but silent droop;
The waving elms, that rang'd in thick array,
Enclose with stately row some rural hall,
Are mute, nor echo with the clamors hoarse
Of rooks rejoicing on their hoary boughs:
While to the shed the dripping poultry croud,
A mournful train: secure the village-hind
[Page 13]Hangs o'er the crackling blaze, nor tempts the storm;
Rings not the high wood with enliv'ning shouts
Of early hunter: all is silence drear;
And deepest sadness wraps the face of things.
Thro' POPE's soft song tho' all the Graces breath,
And happiest art adorn his Attic page;
Yet does my mind with sweeter transport glow,
As at the foot of some hoar oak reclin'd,
In magic SPENSER's wildly-warbled song
I see deserted Una wander wide
Thro' wasteful solitudes, and lurid heaths,
Weary, forlorn, than when the fated Fair,
Upon the bosom bright of silver Thames,
Launches in all the lustre of Brocade,
[Page 14]Amid the splendors of the laughing Sun.
The gay description palls upon the sense,
And coldly strikes the mind with feeble bliss.
O wrap me then in shades of darksom pine,
Bear me to caves by desolation brown,
To dusky vales, and hermit-haunted rocks!
And hark, methinks resounding from the gloom
The voice of Melancholy strikes mine ear;
"Come, leave the busy trifles of vain life,
"And let these twilight mansions teach thy mind
"The Joys of Musing, and of solemn Thought."
Ye youths of Albion's beauty-blooming isle,
Whose brows have worn the wreath of luckless love,
Is there a pleasure like the pensive mood,
[Page 15]Whose magic wont to sooth your soften'd souls?
O tell how rapt'rous is the deep-felt bliss
To melt to Melody's assuasive voice,
Careless to stray the midnight mead along,
And pour your sorrows to the pitying moon,
Oft interrupted by the Bird of Woe!
To muse by margin of romantic stream,
To fly to solitudes, and there forget
The solemn dulness of the tedious world,
'Till in abstracted dreams of fancy lost,
Eager you snatch the visionary fair,
And on the phantom feast your cheated gaze!
Sudden you start—th' imagin'd joys recede,
The same sad prospect opens on your sense;
And nought is seen but deep-extended trees
In hollow rows, and your awaken'd ear
[Page 16]Again attends the neighb'ring fountain's sound.
These are delights that absence drear has made
Familiar to my soul, er'e since the form
Of young Sapphira, beauteous as the Spring,
When from her vi'let-woven couch awak'd
By frolic Zephyr's hand, her tender cheek
Graceful she lifts, and blushing from her bow'r,
Issues to cloath in gladsome-glist'ring green
The genial globe, first met my dazled sight.
These are delights unknown to minds profane,
And which alone the pensive soul can taste.
The taper'd choir, at midnight hour of Pray'r,
Oft let me tread, while to th' according voice
The many-sounding organ peals on high,
In full-voic'd chorus thro' th' embowed roof;
[Page 17]'Till all my soul is bath'd in ecstasies,
And lap'd in Paradise. Or let me sit
Far in some distant isle of the deep dome,
There lonesome listen to the solemn sounds,
Which, as they lengthen thro' the Gothic vaults,
In hollow murmurs reach my ravish'd ear.
Nor let me fail to cultivate my mind
With the soft thrillings of the tragic Muse,
Divine Melpomene, sweet Pity's nurse,
Queen of the stately step, and flowing pall.
Now let Monimia mourn with streaming eyes
Her joys incestuous, and polluted love:
Now let Calista dye the desperate steel
Within her bosom, for lost innocence,
Unable to behold a father weep.
[Page 18]Or Jaffeir kneel for one forgiving look;
Nor seldom let the Moor on Desdemone
Pour the misguided threats of jealous rage.
By soft degrees the manly torrent steals
From my swoln eyes, and at a brother's woe
My big heart melts in sympathizing tears.
What are the splendors of the gaudy court,
It's tinsel trappings, and it's pageant pomps?
To me far happier seems the banish'd Lord
Amid Siberia's unrejoycing wilds
Who pines all lonesome, in the chambers hoar
Of some high castle shut, whose windows dim
In distant ken discover trackless plains,
Where Winter ever drives his icy car;
While still repeated objects of his view,
[Page 19]The gloomy battlements, and ivied tow'rs
That crown the solitary dome, arise;
While from the topmost turret the slow clock
Far heard along th' inhospitable wastes
With sad-returning chime, awakes new grief;
Than is the Satrap whom he left behind
In Moscow's regal palaces, to drown
In ease and luxury the laughing hours.
Illustrious objects strike the gazer's mind
With feeble bliss, and but allure the sight,
Nor rouze with impulse quick the feeling heart.
Thus seen by shepherd from Hymettus' brow,
What painted landschapes spread their charms beneath?
Here palmy groves, amid whose umbrage green
Th' unfading olive lifts her silver head,
[Page 20]Resounding once with Plato's voice, arise:
Here vine-clad hills unfold their purple stores,
Here fertile vales their level lap expand,
Amid whose beauties glistering Athens tow'rs.
Tho' thro' the graceful seats Ilissus roll
His sage-inspiring flood, whose fabled banks
The spreading laurel shades, tho' roseate Morn
Pour all her splendors on th' empurpled scene,
Yet feels the musing Hermit truer joys,
As from the cliff that o'er his cavern hangs,
He views the piles of fall'n Persepolis
In deep arrangement hide the darksome plain.
Unbounded waste! the mould'ring Obelisc
Here, like a blasted oak, ascends the clouds;
Here Parian domes their vaulted halls disclose
Horrid with thorn, where lurks the secret thief,
[Page 21]Whence flits the twilight-loving bat at eve,
And the deaf adder wreaths her spotted train,
The dwellings once of Elegance and Art.
Here temples rise, amid whose hallow'd bounds
Spires the black pine, while thro' the naked street,
Haunt of the tradeful merchant, springs the grass:
Here columns heap'd on prostrate columns, torn
From their firm base, encrease the mould'ring mass.
Far as the sight can pierce, appear the spoils
Of sunk magnificence: a blended scene
Of moles, fanes, arches, domes, and palaces,
Where, with his brother horror, ruin sits.
O come then, Melancholy, queen of thought,
O come with saintly look and stedfast step,
From forth thy cave embower'd with mournful yew,
[Page]Where ever to the cu [...] [...] sound
List'ning thou sitt'st, and [...] [...]ress bind
Thy votary's hair, and seal him s [...]y son.
But never let Euphrosyne beguile
With toys of wanton mirth my fixed mind,
Nor with her primrose garlands strew my paths.
What tho' with her the dimpled Hebe dwells,
With young-ey'd Pleasure, and the loose-rob'd Joy;
Tho' Venus, mother of the Smiles and Loves,
And Bacchus, ivy-crown'd, in myrtle bow'r
With her in dance fantastic beat the ground:
What tho' 'tis her's to calm the blue serene,
And at her presence mild the low'ring clouds
Disperse in air, and o'er the face of heav'n
New day diffusive glows at her approach;
Yet are these joys that Melancholy gives,
[Page 23]By Contemplation taught, her sister sage,
Than all her witless revels happier far.
Then ever, beauteous Contemplation, hail!
From thee began, auspicious maid, my song,
With thee shall end: for thou art fairer far
Than are the nymphs of Cirrha's mossy grot;
To loftier rapture thou canst wake the thought,
Than all the fabling Poet's boasted pow'rs.
Hail, queen divine! whom, as tradition tells,
Once in his ev'ning-walk a Druid found
Far in a hollow glade of Mona's woods,
And piteous bore with hospitable hand
To the close shelter of his oaken bow'r.
There soon the Sage admiring mark'd the dawn
Of solemn Musing in thy pensive thought;
[Page 24]For when a smiling babe, you lov'd to lie
Oft deeply list'ning to the rapid roar
Of wood-hung Meinai, stream of Druids old,
That lav'd his hallow'd haunt with dashing wave.

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