Various have been the poetical essays that I have occasionally written, but few I esteem worth presenting to my readers; for as I find so great a genius as Dr. Swift has been severely censured for inserting trifling pieces in his collection, what could I expect if I presumed to do it? When it may with propriety be said, that my best attempt in that way, must be infinitely inferior to his worst; however, I confess I wish this reflection had fallen from one, who professed less friendship for the Dean than Lord Orrery.
Such pieces I have dispersed in the magazines and newspapers, and shall only select those, where the choice of the subject may make some atonement for my defects; I think it was in June, 1755, a report was spread and published, that Lord Ligonier (then Sir John) died suddenly; a gentleman to whom mankind in general, and myself in particular, stand largely indebted. This furnished me with an opportunity of writing the following lines.
Who could forbid the bursting tear to flow
Or stop th' impulsive energy of woe?
When baleful murmurs sung in every ear,
That spoke the death of generous Ligonier?
Deprived of him, our warlike legions pine,
Whose presence cheered the terror-striking line;
Whose dauntless courage, and resistless hand,
Won admiration from each foreign land.
Receive our incense, ye protecting powers,
That heart-afflicting sorrow is not ours;
For unborn ages be that stroke reserved;
Yet spare those virtues we've but ill deserved.
See at his name the soldiery revive:
Hear how they echo, Ligonier's alive!
See they invoke their matchless hero forth,
Warmed with a sense of his experienced worth;
Whose animating soul inspires them all,
And with confusion strikes th'insulting Gaul.
If yet for Britain, or her sons repose,
Benignant heaven, accustomed mercy knows,
To a long period of succeeding years,
Protract his fate, protract a nation's tears.
And when that power, which calls the just away,
invites his spirit to the realms of day,
Above the tomb, where he and goodness lies,
May fame still hover, and may laurel rise.
To this nobleman, I had likewise the honour (by his own permission) to inscribe the following essay, on the death of that beloved Prince, Charles Spencer, Duke of Marlborough, which was published in the Universal Magazine soon after the lamented event that occasioned it.
SUSPIRIA ardens evixit ad aethera virtus.
NOT the dread pangs that nature disunite,
E'er urged by death the spirit wings her flight.
When dire convulsions shake the human frame,
Glow on each limb, and every nerve inflame:
Not latest groans of all I dearest prize,
Or pendant ruin hovering o'er my eyes;
Could grief sincerer in my soul create,
Than noble Spencer's unexpected fate.
When sleep assumes dominion o'er the sense,
And horrid dreams alternately commence,
What new-born joy the rising morn attends,
When 'midst a conflict the delusion ends?
O! could some angel to my soul proclaim,
Thy death, lamented hero! But a dream,
Thy life, Britannia's choicest gem, restore,
Lost on a bleak, unhospitable shore;*
This loathed existence, for a while endear,
By fond persuasions, virtue still were here;
That still a patron injured worth might find,
Still thy example rectify mankind;
Lost in a torrent of unbounded joy,
I'd chase these griefs that my content destroy,
* Germany, where his Grace died
Not, ever honoured Marlborough that thine ear,
Was prompt as providence my plaint to hear;
Not that thy bounty, like the rapid main,
No limit learned, its ardour to restrain:
'Midst ruined fortune helpless genius prized;
Nor my afflicted mother's woe despised;
To know thy virtues by minute detail,
Bid us at once to human-kind appeal:
Each day, each hour, each interval of thine,
Displayed some instance of a soul benign;
Whether you wiped the agonizing tear,
Or bid dejection be of better cheer;
Planned patriot systems in Britannia's cause,
Or gave to science succour and applause;
Shone in domestic, on in social light,
In acts of tenderness, or acts polite.
To form the whole unanimously blend,
The patriot, hero, gentleman and friend.
While fame and conquest all their laurels spread,
With deathless garlands to enwreath his head;
While wasteful ruins on the Gallic plain*,
The recent marks of his success remain;
While earth revered, and wondering powers above,
Hailed him the pattern of connubial love;:
By all regretted, and by all admired,
From earth immortal Marlborough retired
*Cherbourg destroyed, under his Grace's command, August 8, 1758
Bear him, ye cherubs, to eternal rest,
A bright, angelic, unpolluted guest;
Fitly adapted to adorn that sphere,
Who gained the summit of perfection here.
Having-occasion, a few days after the above appeared, to pay my respects to Sir Edward Montagu, I brought one of the Magazines in my pocket, and had the honour to present it to him: he was so obliging to read the verses over, and to tell me that he approved of them; and as Sir Edward knew my circumstances, added to these civilities a handsome present: But pray, said he, Mr. Pilkington, have you sent it to any other of the family? I said, I hoped they would see it. Why, said he, the present Duke is a most worthy and liberal young nobleman; and I think if he saw this, he would do something to serve you; and so I likewise believe would the Earl of Pembroke. I hinted the difficulty of obtaining access to those noblemen; and Sir Edward generously said, make use of my name, say you came from me. Accordingly the Sunday morning succeeding, I tore the page on which the lines were printed, out of the pamphlet, and enclosed them in a letter to his grace, making use of the passport I was favoured with, left my letter with his grace's porter, and told him I should be at the Smyrna coffee-house, just over the way, for two hours But oh! tempora mutadi erant, the moments elapsed, without affording an answer good or bad.
This, however, did not prevent my taking the same method with the Earl, except with this difference, that as I imagined the letter might not have been given to his Grace, but to some steward or secretary (which is indeed too frequently the case) I made my servant wait for his Lordship at the Opera-house, and to give it in to his own hand. When he called for an answer, he was told there was none; but as both the Duke and the Earl have subscribed to this book, 'tis possible, whatever mistakes have been committed by their servants, or mine, may be rectified; if not, sum in loco quae ante fueram.
I had, however, the honour to present the Magazine to Lord Ligonier, at St. James's, who received it with an affability peculiar to those who are exalted by their own virtues, and afterwards made me a compliment equal to the greatness of his soul. It was indeed kindly reported, that I received a present of some hundreds from one of his Grace's family, upon this account; which served to make a troublesome and persecuting set of creditors ten times more assiduous than usual to ruin and oppress me: But it has pleased the Almighty hitherto to protect me from their sanguine and destructive emissaries, which mercy, I hope, he will continue, till his providence enables me prove, that not the want of principle, but the want of means, has for some time, disenabled me to settle with them, or transact my own affairs, which has given rise to a thousand calamities.
I confess, I'm inclined to believe the answer delivered at Lord Pembroke's, was one of those which servants are very liberal in giving to every messenger who comes without a laced livery; and the more so, as upon my formerly enclosing the following little Ode to his Lordship, which I had addressed to the late Duke of Marlborough, on the marriage of his amiable daughter with that nobleman, it was kindly received by them both, and was an introduction to my adding their illustrious names to my list.
An ODE to his Grace the Duke of MARLBOROUGH
THE Florist with delighted eye
Views the carnation's various dye,
And twisting woodbine spring;
All summer's pride his joys excite,
Reward his labours with delight
And cheer his voice to sing.
With what transcendent comfort blessed,
Is then the kind paternal breast,
When all his hopes to crown
He sees the object of his care
In each sublimer virtue share,
That may demand renown.
See Churchill* from the realms divine
The spreading glories of thy line,
Like Nile's diffusive stream;
A thousand different courses take
Its bounties while the world partake
And hail thy aweful name.
*The great John, Duke of Marlborough
Not the emblazoning herald's art
Can such effulgent rays impart,
As virtue can bestow;
For this to Spencer's god like race,
While the fixed planets hold a place.
Shall praise spontaneous flow.
To thee illustrious Pembroke's given
All we believe of promised heaven,
Taste, purity, and truth;
Celestial harmony of mind,
A graceful form, a temper kind
And rosy-tinctured youth.
Pembroke*, of whom each purling stream.
And haunted grove resounds the name
To all the muses dear;
From whose august illumined race,
The sweet Arcadian tale took place,
Which lovers raptured hear.
*The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia.
When Hymen lights his sacred brand,
And beauty yields her trembling hand,
To supplicating love;
Exulting joy takes instant place,
Unbidden smiles deck every face,
While heaven and earth approve.
Even I, my Lord, a bliss partake
That willing gratitude would speak,
Were flowing numbers mine;
Fit each perfection to impart,
That e'er enriched a princely heart,
For then I'd picture thine.
As I have glanced at the inconveniences that arise from servants' opening their masters' letters, and dictating answers to them, I sincerely wish that the ingenious author of High Life Below Stairs, had added one scene to his excellent satire, where he has happily displayed the absurdity and impertinence of a set, whom in his preface he terms, "a very large and useful body of people," large they are to infinity, but useful in general, as little as they can possibly render themselves; and I know, that the insolence of some of those mercenary dependents, has diminished the lustre of many of the noblest names that ever enriched the historic, or poetic page: for if they are entrusted by their masters to confer any favour, they will be certain to annex to it a gross insult, or sarcasm of their own, in order to abstract from any comfort a benefit might inspire.
I will not be so cruel as to descend to particulars in this case, as it might deprive some persons of bread, who may from this admonition learn to demean themselves with less brutality; for as the writer of the satire has given room to suspect those important members of society wear their master's clothes, and assume their titles, it is possible they may likewise read their books; and in that case I should, perhaps, find some of their Graces to be bruisers, or have the street door slapped in my face, while their masters were purposely waiting to see me.
Nevertheless, to show my dramatic abilities, I can't help supposing the drum scene, in the farce, continued a little longer, before the alarm comes that promiscuously lodges their Ladyships in the pantry, and his Grace in the coal-hole. To anyone who has read the farce, it will be intelligible; to those who have not, I wish it may prove an incitement to do it; as look upon it as a proper monitor for every noble and every truly generous person in England to have by them, till the enormous vice and iniquity there lashed, is utterly reclaimed.
I think the best place to introduce a circumstance that perhaps, escaped the writer's knowledge, is in the second act, before the merriment commences, and just after Lovel, the liberal master of the house, has made his exit.
Enter Philip in a great passion, with a letter sealed in his hand.
This house is pestered with letters, it would employ ten porters to answer them; yet I'll take great care they get nothing by it; for the fool, my master, would soon put it out of his power to regale us, if he saw one half of them.
Is that a specimen in your hand, Mr. Phil? Prithee let's see it, it may afford us a laugh before the fiddler comes.
Ay, ay, per bonum publicam, your Grace may divert the company with it; a shabby fellow brought it, and had the impudence to tell me he was a gentleman.
A journeyman gentleman, I suppose, the most contemptible caricature in nature. When our blockhead came first to his estate, he used to be at the pains of answering those troublesome gentry, and sent me, with a devil to him, to ferret them out, in places that disgusted my nature; but I soon cured him of it, by putting his answer in the sinking fund, and giving the more rational reply a gentleman should always do.—We know nothing of you, and wonder at your assurance to trouble people of consequence.
Fort bien, Sir Harry, am verite bien, nous tout rendrons meme reponses. My sapskull values himself on being a politician, and thinks he manages matters with marvellous secrecy; but when I come to brush his clothes in the morning, I find in his pockets the whole business of the day, and take proper measures to frustrate any designs he may have, that I esteem mal a propos; for such papers as I think I shall have plague with, I put out of the way; and if he enquires for them, declare point blank I know nothing at all of the matter.
Why my Lady is the most romanticalest idiot alive; she's perpetually corresponding with poits, and would be weak enough to give the creatures all her card-money, but I peaches their morrility. I tells my lady as how, I hears bad carcters of them from different tredes persons, and she's too much taken up with pleasures to make pertiklur enquiry; so I twines her round my finger. I always gives our clerk of the kitchen as my autor, and he lies with so good a grace, that his news passes for autentic.
Now avec permission, je lisez le lettre pour ce bien compagne. (opens the letter)
I'll beg a dust of your Grace's Strasbourg, to keep up my spirits, and to prevent infection first.
Vous etes bien venu Monsieur. (Reaches his box) (Reads) Dear Sir.—Blackfriars.
ha, ha, ha
Stay, stay, a commoner may have intimates; pray has any of this noble company ever been on the other side of London-Bridge?
Why does your Grace ask?
Only a whim, my Lady, to know whether the inhabitants walk uprightly as we do, or go upon all fours; cannibals they undoubtedly are—but pronograde—I'll proceed in the epistle (reads affectedly, minding no stops.)
If the memory of that love which subsisted between us in our boyish days, is not by time and long absence quite effaced, you'll certainly be pleased to hear that your old school-fellow, Dick Grapple, is still in being, though almost naked, upon the British shore.
(to the company) Was ever such nonsense heard of? That if he loved his old friend, he'd be glad to hear he was almost naked.—[reads] The story of my shipwreck, and other calamities, is too tedious for a letter, especially to a member of parliament, as I hear you are.
That's a sneer, he hears when all the world knows Lovel's in the Court Calendar.(reads) It was by mere accident I heard of you.—
And it will be mere miracle if he ever hears of you.(reads.) If you'll order your servants to give me admittance, 'tis in my power to serve you in regard to your affairs at home.—
Another Freeman, I warrant! he wants to inspect the pantry.—
and it may be in your capacity, if it is your inclination, to save from ruin your most obsequious, most devoted, most obliged, most obedient, most—O! Lard! I can remember no more, Timothy Lickspittle.
Surely you wrongs him, my Lord Duke! let me see, no faith, 'tis Ricard Gapple, if I can read.
'Tis all one, my Lady, R, R, R, Richard Grapple, being properly pronounced. Oh! your ladyship has not the true idiom de la Francois, patience un peu de temps; but, Pox on't, you read very well for an Earl's daughter too—.
As I would not wilfully infringe the laws of the stage-wright, by swelling this scene to a greater length than the rules of the drama admit of, I shall close it, with wishing, that, amongst the hurry of the company, the letter may be dropped, and found by Lovel, who I would have overjoyed to hear a young gentleman is in London, that had preserved his life in a party of swimming; and I could wish, that instead of turning the scoundrel, Philip, out of his house, he would send him to Newgate, for breaking open his letter; which, according to the laws of England, is as much felony as forcing a lock. Indeed, if one half the nobility and gentry knew in what a ludicrous manner their most private concerns are treated through this channel, they would be a little more circumspect about letters.
This digression I have made for common benefit, and, therefore, I am satisfied the sensible part of my readers will take it as 'tis meant. I shall now return to my talk, of gathering from an immense lumber of rhymes, condemned to oblivion, those I think the most tolerable; though I do assure my readers, I have never yet wrote one couplet that pleased myself. What I may do hereafter, if the world should be more partial to my lays than I am myself, is yet to be known. The best apology I can make for my faults, is the true one, that I am condemned like a spider, to spin all out of myself, not having had one book, as I observed before, to assist me; one friend to revise me; nor one moment to bestow on them the necessary corrections I knew they wanted: so that I am confident, their having been well received by the learned and the judicious, must entirely have been the result of that frankness and candour ever resident in great minds.
An ELEGAIC ESSAY,
On the death of the Right Honourable the Marquis of Lindsay, son to his Grace the Duke of Ancaster, written 1759.
Manibus date lilia plenis.
WHEN, for Britannia's punishment of late,
Fallen was the lovely offspring of the great,
Stopped were the pitying accents of my tongue,
And the lamented babe a while unsung.
At length in sable Majesty arrayed,
With down-cast look appeared the tragic maid;
An awful horror chilled me ere she spoke,
When silence thus the pensive fair one broke.
Oh! would'st thou learn eternally to weep,
And constant converse with dejection keep,
Contemn the themes that giddy mirth excite,
Pursuing anguish through her dreary flight;
Whether shrill echoes from the cottage rise,
Of filial, social, or maternal cries;
Or steadfast friendship, like a statue placed,
Weeps o'er the ruins of a friend deceased.
On such attend, for such attune thy string,
No grief's too humble for the muse to sing.
O should sublimer sympathy alarm,
And all thy soul to nobler subjects warm,
See where too sad, too wide a field appears,
The generous, beauteous, Ancaster in tears.
Who can be silent, and behold her mourn,
The hope of ages at a Lindsay's urn?
Though from her eyes incessant sorrows fall
'Twill not her treasure from the grave recall;
Nor o'er that cheek a vivid gloom expand,
Damped by; the dew of death's remorseless hand.
No more his prattle shall inspire delight,
The live-long day, or tedious winter night;
Wake all a father's fondness as it flows,
And all a mother's happiness compose;
There solemn silence has assumed her reign,
Fruitless are tears, and invocations vain.
Say, death, thou bane of human prospects, say,
Why is perfection soonest snatched away?
Why should thy dart on Bertie's cradle fall,
While for thy aid a thousand wretches call?
Couldst thou not take the desolate, the blind,
The poor that succour seek in vain to find?
Give them oblivion, and to Albion spare,
Virtue's fond pledge, and worth's apparent heir.
Thus humble shrubs of wild luxuriant race,
That lend the landscape no enlivening grace,
Oft have a tempest's rapid force withstood,
That rent the noblest cedar in the wood;
And princely Bertie, like a victim fell,
While I survived, the mournful tale to tell.
As I have formerly mentioned, that my ambition was to praise, and at the same time to avoid the ignominious appellation of a parasite, I have made most of my panegyrics upon the dead, from whom no future favour can possibly be expected; but a censorious world must confess, that I have been happy in the choice of my subjects; and though ingratitude, or insensibility, silenced the more eminent sons of Apollo upon the themes I have honoured my pen by, surely nobody will condemn me for the following attempt.
On the death of the late Right Honourable the Countess of SHAFTESBURY.
WHY o'er my soul impends this deadly dew?
The matchless Shaftesbury's no more, 'tis true;
And weeping orphans, with regret, shall find
So much perfection is not left behind.
Can friendship with her from immortal bliss,
'Midst the rough tumults of a world like this?
Or grieve the recompense, too soon she found,
Of days, that virtue and religion crowned?
Yet, can philosophy the seas assuage,
Or calm a tempest in its maddened rage?
From recent wounds, the quick sensation take,
Or bid a wretch tormented cease to speak?
Though in the regions of eternal rest
We know thy soul's superlatively blessed;
Yet were thy virtues to the world so dear,
Relenting nature, still must wish 'em here.
Even I—this melting weakness must confess,
While tears my sorrow—more than words express.
I join the weeping melancholy train,
That mourn the kindest of her sex in vain.
As this admirable lady's whole life was employed in the service of the distressed, and the encouragement of every liberal science, to which the elegance of her taste aptly inclined her; and as there is no reason to doubt, but that every person of genius, more or less, partook of her well-judged liberality; I must confess, I blushed at the depravity of my species, to see her pass to the grave unnoticed by them, and only lamented in domestic life, where she shone with incomparable lustre. Lord Shaftesbury, whom, if I dare transcribe my thoughts, I would pronounce the best of men; and, if I did, I should find no murmur to oppose it—was long inconsolable for her loss; and her honest attendants, to whom her ladyship was constantly a mother, speak of her to this day with tear-streaming eyes.
I can't help observing here, how great an effect good example may have on the minds of inferiors: the lady I speak of, was, as his Lordship now is, mild, affable, polite, learned, and easy of access; the servants, by frequently having the happiness to hear and see them, became the echoes of their benignity, and were as widely different from those preposterous characters I have drawn, as good is from bad; go, for the great may take my simple word for it, that an imperious servant, is like a ridiculous ambassador, and every enormity he commits, appears to be either copied after, or done by the positive order of the person he represents, and is placed to his account, whether right or wrong; in short, 'tis an invariable maxim, that a brutish master makes a brutish man.
To give one instance of this, I shall recite a little story: A poetical friend of mine, who is allowed to have some merit in his compositions, addressed a poem to a certain great man, just returned from his travels. Undoubtedly, he was accompanied from thence by a train of rascally foreigners, who having been bred in a state of slavery, imagined they could impose it on the free-born natives of these islands, and that they might with impunity treat such persons here, as they had seen men of capacity used abroad: this is indeed, the best construction I can put upon what is to follow. The verses he wrote were, according to my opinion, very pretty in their kind; and as he favoured me with the inspection of his papers, and made me the confidant of his expectations, he invited me to breakfast on the morning he expected to receive the great man's answer.—We were scarcely seated at tea, when a fellow entered, who lacked nothing but whiskers, to complete the head of a Saracen; but he had the apparel of a gentleman. My friend (a man of address) asked him to sit down; No, said he, Monsieur, I have not de time to lose avec you; is your name so and so? Yes, answered the gentleman. Then mine Lord D—— sent you dat and dat, said he, and so retired, leaving some papers on the table. My friend took them up with great fortitude and composure, and found his own verses torn across, and another piece written in an attorney's hand, which we at first apprehended was a bill in chancery, by its prolixity, and the formality it was drawn up with; but when we came to read it, We had a full half-hour's merriment—for such a complication of bombast and nonsense never was huddled together before: I remember some of the lines ran thus:
"And now, my Lord, that you are safe come back,
what is there more for Britain's sons to lack?
And now, my Lord, that you are safe come home,
we hope no more in foreign realms you'll roam.
And now, my Lord, that you are here again,
The Muse with pleasure does take up her pen.
And now, my Lord, as you are so polite,
you'll know the merits of what poets write."
In short, "and now, my Lord," was the beginning of every second line, through the whole performance, which was closely penned on a large sheet of post paper.
My friend, after ruminating a little, said, "Really, if the great man is a rational creature, such a piece of stuff must excite his resentment; but why should he therefore affront me? I am determined, let what will be the issue, to reverse my compliment, and tell him in a poignant satire, what opinion his country really entertains of him."
I entreated him to desist from so rash and unprofitable an undertaking, as it might do him hurt, and could by no means procure him any satisfaction; for if my L——d himself was capable of such ill manners, he must be incorrigible; and if the fellow dared to take such a freedom, without his privity, he would consequently serve all letters that were presented at the house, in the same manner.
Notwithstanding my most earnest remonstrances, he wrote the following lines, and would have published them in such a manner, as to be comprehended by the meanest understanding; but that he was in a few days after obliged to go abroad, and has since lost his life in the service of his country. Nor should I give them a place here, if I thought the person they were intended to lash could ever be guessed at; all I mean hereby, is to verify by demonstration, how much it is in the power of an ignorant pert servant, to bring severe reflections on the life and morals of his master.
I dare do all that may become a man,
Who dares do more is none.
CURSED be the bard, through penury or fear,
That henceforth fawns on a degenerate Peer;
In a false mirror, vies to let him see,
Not what he is—but what he ought to be.
High as his titles would adapt his praise,
To them imaginary trophies raise;
If forced by fortune—or compelled by want
I spoke you worthy—witness I recant:
The harmless panegyric I bestowed,
Not from your virtue, but my fancy flowed;
Henceforth, my L——d, with a minuter care,
I'll represent you—reptile as you are:
But hold—Italian bravos may be bought,
And blood be spilled for writing as I ought;
Amongst your *** sordid Gallic train,
A brave assassin can't be sought in vain,
Monsieur, your valet, will the office do;
You can encourage, and protect him too.
Heaven, says my L——d, with an assuming brow
Per Ben parlare—wat de matter now?
Did I for this in foreign brothels shine,
And on the vice of human-kind refine?
At distant courts, display my beardless face,
Purchase their P——, impertinence and lace?
Ransack endearing Italy and France,
My voice to model, and reform my dance?
At last returning elegantly bred,
With empty pockets and sonorous head,
Aid me, oh Monsieur! aid thy injured Lord,
I'll draw out anything—except my sword;
A passive trophy, 'tis for great ones meant,
Let soldiers use it, j'ai pour l'ornament.
Vere it mine case, says Monsisieur—he should feel
Mine vakened wrath, and die in de Bastille;
A Peer of France consults no vulgar laws,
Nor for his acts assigns a public cause.
Oh! glorious thought, the raptured *** replied,
But here that pleasing comfort is denied.
A servant enters, may it please your ***,
A Briton pines with sorrow in his face;
Entreats your charity his pains to ease.
I'm absent,—sick,—or busy—what you please.
An opera singer now an audience waits,
Open the doors, unbar the folding gates;
Tell Signor Numsculini—he may come,
I knew him in-ti-mate-ly well at Rome.
Salve, Signor—your benefit draws nigh,
Accept this fifty pound, pardonne moi;
Business of consequence demands me now,
Signor, your slave devoted—makes a bow.
A shabby brother of Apollo's tribe
Entreats your *** will to his work subscribe.
Tell him I would—but that I never read.
The writer shakes his head—'tis plain indeed.
Now fiddlers, pimps, and parasites attend,
Studious to cringe, dissemble, and commend.
No honest hand, displays the dull poltroon,
No faithful tongue, proclaims him a baboon;
A coxcomb, fribble, or Sir Courtly Nice,
With Jackdaws pertness, and a Monkey's vice,
Soothing each grovelling passion of the soul,
They make a moving puppet of the whole;
Till all disorders, nature that impair,
Call of his *** and leaves a rotten heir.
I am confident, that none of my candid readers will once surmise the foregoing libel proceeded from me, as I never use gall in my ink; and I can appeal for the truth of this to ***** he is extremely obliged to me; **** it is much in my power to ****; though **** the many promises he made to the lady, **** yet this sensible man **** my want of resentment, **** say and to do **** that **** should in honour, prudence, and good policy be ashamed of; **** I am not in the least chagrined at his treatment of me, nor do I, **** he will at length relent, **** pay me **** I live in hopes of, **** is **** shall destroy some materials, **** falling into less prudent hands, **** on the word of a freemason, **** this intricate passage, ****, one calendar month **** at liberty, to write less mysteriously.
Note: This paragraph was obstructed, and mangled in this manner by some small particles of the sand of the river Pactolus flying in the author's eyes, on Friday the 8th of Feb. 1760.
I told my readers some pages past, that I had never yet written anything in verse to please myself; but a few nights ago I was seized with a sudden impulse to scribble, and scribble I did, the following little piece; and whether it be owing to a defect in my judgment or to the general fondness parents have to their newest born offspring, I esteem it the most like poetry of any attempt I have yet made. This was inserted in the British Chronicle, Monday Jan. 21.
ODE to his Excellency Field Marshal General Lord Viscount Ligonier, Jan. 1, 1760.
Unpensioned for the annual song,
The willing numbers glide along,
To hail the rising year;
That lets a raptured nation view
Their favourite blessing live in you,
Daughter of Paeon* give him health,
Parent of day increase his wealth,
And radiant influence shed;
Around his hospitable dome
The hapless soldier's constant home,
And sure resource for bread.
*Note: Hygeia the Goddess of Health.
Thy presence cheers the drooping Muse,
Nor these her lonely strain refuse,
Inspired by love sincere;
Whatever fate thy bard attends,
For thee to heaven his prayer ascends,
And heaven regards his prayer.
A fine subject is certainly the happiest inspirer of easy verse; if the piece cited, has any tincture of the latter, it must have been derived from the former; which was likewise the case in the two following essays.
On seeing the right honourable Elizabeth, Countess of Northumberland at St. James's Sunday, Dec. 9, 1759
SMIT with amazement at a form so bright,
Where splendour, ease, and dignity unite:
Where at a glance is evidently seen,
The regal greatness that bespeaks a queen,
At thy approach unbidden we retire,
And wrapped in awful steadfastness admire,
As if some beauteous deity appeared
Seen to be loved, and known to be revered;
The demi-crescent* harbingers the way,
While wondering crowds their adoration pay.
*Note: The half-moon worn in the cap of her Ladyship's page that precedes her chair
Well may thy presence, noble Piercy raise
Incense of blessings, monuments of praise;
For, midst the grateful multitude there's few,
But more or less have been obliged to you.
Whatever heaven in former ages gave
To deck the learned, munificent or brave,
In Percy's form and manners we behold
With all the lustre it appeared of old;
Whose high descent is manifestly shown,
By native ease, and "graces all her own."
On hearing a description of Lord Lyttleton's new house in Worcestershire.
TO cherish arts, and sciences to aid,
That pile superb was generously essayed;
Whose spacious dome, and whose extensive plan,
Justly displayed the spirit of the man.
Oh! should an ill-timed penury control
The native flowings of thy liberal soul,
Place but thyself amidst the wide domain,
'Twill all that's great and excellent contain.
Perhaps nothing said of myself, in the course of this book, will do me half so much honour in the opinion of its readers, as to tell them that, to the unwearied bounties of these illustrious persons I owe my present existence; and, therefore, if anything I have now written, or hereafter may write, affords the least entertainment, the kind preservers of my life, the defenders of my liberty, and the sources of my support, must take the merit of it. Yes, ye good and great, if I attempted to suppress the enthusiastic impulse of my gratitude, it would overwhelm me; though to enumerate half your kindnesses would employ all my remaining pages: yet to record a Shaftesbury, a Hartford, a Germain, a Lyttleton, a Guildford, a North, a Cardigan, a Leeds, a sensible Whitehead, and a Bridgeman, amongst the foremost, who, deaf to all the calumnies malignantly propagated for my ruin, assisted me and mine with an unlimited benevolence, is no less than my duty at the same time that I consider it, as the amplest encomium on myself and my posterity. In one of my essays published in Lloyd's paper, (which I heard some judges say is the best extant) I recommended it to seven of the most opulent booksellers, to hire seven of the most profound critics, and shut them up seven years, in seven different garrets, to compose seven hundred commentaries on me and my writings. I am not doubtful but this volume will afford them infinite matter to display the energy of their talents on, as there are numerous accidental errors in them, as well as the unavoidable faults of nature; therefore whenever a letter is misplaced, or a stop omitted, it will be kindly imputed to the author's ignorance; for men who have no talents themselves, nor no pretensions to shine in any branch of science, find infinite satisfaction in depreciating the attempts of others, nay, they make a tolerable livelihood of it; so that it is more than possible the blunders of the press corrector, and mine united, may afford them some good dinners.
But in order to allay the zest of their entertainment, I must appeal to the less rigid and more friendly reader, by asking how it was possible for a man either to write or correct, with a mind distracted by ten thousand wants, cares and anxieties? I had scarce proposed a subscription, when it was industriously rumoured, I would never publish a book; and though this did not withhold superior minds from contributing to its appearance, yet to the base, the vulgar, and the ignorant, wretches with whom I had no connection, it was a perpetual fund for the most cruel and unjust reflections; insomuch that a faithful servant [Elizabeth Rainbut], who has adhered to me with a disinterested regard through all my adversities, frequently came in, with tears in her eyes, to complain of the insults she met with on my account: such as: If your master thinks to cheat the public with his pretended book, you must not cheat us.—The poor girl, who knew the integrity of my principles, and the frequency of my being honoured with letters and messages from persons of the first distinction in Great Britain and Ireland, and who likewise knew I was at the same time employed in preparing these pages for the press, engaged in my cause with an Amazonian fortitude; and could only content her by promising to prosecute them for defamation, as soon as I got a little respite from the baneful effects of their unprovoked malice; which promise, though I detest law suits, I yet mean to fulfil.
This has obliged me to hurry on an abrupt conclusion to the story of my life, and has indeed almost concluded my life itself; for what between a constitution, alas! too delicate for my condition, and the frequent shocks, alarms and tremors that attend a state of voluntary imprisonment, my spirits are exhausted, my ideas contracted, and my relish for life and its enjoyments absolutely stagnated. Add to all this, that by a violent cold which fell upon my glands, by going out too soon after a fever, before I left Ireland, my speech is rendered unpleasing, to those who have not been familiarly conversant with me. This carries a ten-fold affliction with it, as it renders me shy of entering into any discourse, or accepting the invitations of my superiors, that might otherwise be advantageous to me; and makes me frequently look like an idiot, when I really have enough to say for myself; besides, the ill-natured part of mankind, who make all human infirmities the subject of ridicule, are but too apt to impute it to a cause I should blush to name; but surely my offspring, when seen, will be the truest vindication in that respect, if health, bloom, or complexion in them, are admitted as evidences on a father's behalf.
I shall only now present to my readers two letters, which will enable them to judge with what degree of public good opinion, and private esteem, I left Ireland; the one from the Earl of Clanricarde, and the other from Baron Dawson, whose name I've taken the freedom to mention before:—to two such eminently sensible, and indisputably excellent persons, I need scarce make an apology for thus publicly showing the pride I take in being thought well of by them, as such testimonials will, at one view, render me more service in the sight of the praiseworthy, than all the slander that envy can invent or malignity propagate, will avail to my disadvantage.
To Mr. PILIKINGTON, in Margaret-Street, Cavendish-Square.
I Yesterday received at Southampton the letter you I did me the favour to write me; and I now take the first opportunity of assuring you, that the sense I have of the bad treatment Mrs. Pilkington very undeservedly received, would alone be a sufficient inducement for my complying with your desire, did I not think that so promising a genius ought to be encouraged.
You may very readily command my name, and if you will let me know how I am to convey the money, will immediately do it. You do me a great deal of honour in supposing me equal to the ticklish task of an author; the book, I believe, you mean, is the Memoirs of the Marquis of Clanricarde, published by me; if you think it will afford you any pleasure, I dare say Mr. Dodsley will readily, on mentioning it to him as a request of mine, lend you a volume.
I am, in, great haste, which I hope you will excuse,
Your most obedient servant,
Belmont, near Westmeon,
October 20 1757.
To Mr. JOHN CARTERET PILKINGTON, in Margaret-Street, Cavendish-Square, London.
Dublin, Nov. 22, 1757.
ON my coming to town to attend the term, I found, among others, which my servant had neglected to send me, two letters from you; I am willing to be a subscriber to your undertaking, and wish you success in it.
Your humble servant,
P.S. My wife is obliged to you for your present.
I promised, at my first setting out, some more animadversions on my quondam step-dame; but having been so long treating of persons of consequence, I cannot again descend so low; besides, it might give pain to a father's heart, which, however cold to me now, by time, absence, and misrepresentation, may, by some future event, be taught, how dearly, how tenderly, its repose is wished by the poor lost one it has abandoned; who, through a life of painful vicissitudes, has never ceased to solicit the Almighty for his prosperity and welfare, nor done one act to bring dishonour upon his name.