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To the Right Honourable George, Lord Lansdowne.
Non injussa cano: te nostræ, Vare, myricæ,
Te nemus omne canet: nec Phœbo gratior ulla est,
Quam sibi quæ Vari præscripsit pagina nomen.
THY forest, Windsor! and thy green retreats,
At once the Monarch's and the Muses' seats, Invite my lays. Be present, sylvan maids! Unlock your springs, and open all your shades. Granville commands; your aid, O muses, bring! What muse for Granville can refuse to sing?
The groves of Eden, vanish'd now so long,
Live in description, and look green in song;
These, were my breast inspir'd with equal flame,
Like them in beauty, should be like in fame.
Here hills and vales, the woodland and the plain,
Here earth and water seem to strive again;
Not chaos-like together crush'd and bruis'd,
But, as the world, harmoniously confus'd;
Where order in variety we see,
And where, though all things differ, all agree.
Here waving groves a chequer'd scene display,
And part admit, and part exclude the day;
As some coy nymph her lover's warm address
Nor quite indulges, nor can quite repress.
There, interpers'd in lawns and opening glades,
Thin trees arise that shun each other's shades.
Here in full light the russet plains extend:
There, wrapt in clouds, the bluish hills ascend.
Ev'n the wild heath displays her purple dyes,
And 'midst the desert, fruitful fields arise,
That, crown'd with tufted trees and springing corn,
Like verdant isles the sable waste adorn.
Let India boast her plants, nor envy we
The weeping amber, or the balmy tree,
While by our oaks the precious loads are borne,
And realms commanded which those trees adorn.
Not proud Olympus yields a nobler sight,
Though gods assembled grace his towering height,
Than what more humble mountains offer here,
Where, in their blessings, all those gods appear.
See Pan with flocks, with fruits Pomona crown'd,
Here blushing Flora paints th' enamel'd ground,
Here Ceres' gifts in waving prospect stand,
And nodding tempt the joyful reaper's hand;
Rich industry sits smiling on the plains,
And peace and plenty tell, a Stuart reigns.
Not thus the land appear'd in ages past,
A dreary desert, and a gloomy waste,
To savage beasts and savage laws a prey,
And kings more furious and severe than they;
Who claim'd the skies, dispeopled air and floods,
The lonely lords of empty wilds and woods:
Cities laid waste, they storm'd the dens and caves
(For wiser brutes were backward to be slaves).
What could be free, when lawless beasts obey'd,
And ev'n the elements a tyrant sway'd?
In vain kind seasons swell'd the teeming grain;
Soft showers distill'd, and suns grew warm in vain;
The swain with tears his frustrate labour yields,
And, famish'd, dies amidst his ripen'd fields.
What wonder then, a beast or subject slain
Were equal crimes in a despotic reign?
Both doom'd alike for sportive tyrants bled,
But, while the subject starv'd, the beast was fed.
Proud Nimrod first the bloody chase began,
A mighty hunter, and his prey was man:
Our haughty Norman boasts that barbarous name, And makes his trembling slaves the royal game. The fields are ravish'd from th' industrious swains, From men their cities, and from gods their fanes: The levell'd towns with weeds lie cover'd o'er; The hollow winds through naked temples roar; Round broken columns clasping ivy twin'd; O'er heaps of ruin stalk'd the stately hind; The fox obscene to gaping tombs retires, And savage howlings fill the sacred quires. Aw'd by his nobles, by his commons curst, Th' oppressor rul'd tyrannic where he durst, Stretch'd o'er the poor and church his iron rod, And serv'd alike his vassals and his God. Whom even the Saxon spar'd, and bloody Dane, The wanton victims of his sport remain. But see, the man who spacious regions gave A waste for beasts, himself deny'd a grave! Stretch'd on the lawn his second hope survey, At once the chaser, and at once the prey: Lo Rufus, tugging at the deadly dart, Bleeds in the forest like a wounded hart. Succeeding monarchs heard the subjects' cries, Nor saw displeas'd the peaceful cottage rise. Then gathering flocks on unknown mountains fed, O'er sandy wilds were yellow harvests spread, The forests wonder'd at th' unusual grain, And secret transports touch'd the conscious swain. Fair liberty, Britannia's goddess, rears
Her cheerful head, and leads the golden years.
Ye vigorous swains! while youth ferments your
And purer spirits swell the sprightly flood,
Now range the hills, the gameful woods beset,
Wind the shrill horn, or spread the waving net.
When milder autumn summer's heat succeeds,
And in the new-shorn field the partridge feeds;
Before his lord the ready spaniel bounds,
Panting with hope, he tries the furrow'd grounds;
But when the tainted gales the game betray,
Couch'd close he lies, and meditates the prey:
Secure they trust th' unfaithful field beset,
Till hovering o'er them sweeps the swelling net.
Thus (if small things we may with great compare)
When Albion sends her eager sons to war,
Some thoughtless town, with ease and plenty blest,
Near and more near, the closing lines invest;
Sudden they seize th' amaz'd, defenceless prize,
And high in air Britannia's standard flies.
See! from the brake the whirring pheasant
And mounts exulting on triumphant wings:
Short is his joy; he feels the fiery wound,
Flutters in blood, and panting beats the ground.
Ah! what avail his glossy, varying dyes,
His purple crest, and scarlet circled eyes,
The vivid green his shining plumes unfold,
His painted wings, and breast that flames with gold?
Nor yet, when moist Arcturus clouds the sky,
The woods and fields their pleasing toils deny.
To plains with well-breath'd beagles we repair,
And trace the mazes of the circling hare
(Beasts, urg'd by us, their fellow beasts pursue,
And learn of man each other to undo):
With slaughtering guns th' unwearied fowler roves,
When frosts have whiten'd all the naked groves;
Where doves in flocks the leafless trees o'ershade,
And lonely woodcocks haunt the watery glade.
He lifts the tube, and levels with his eye;
Straight a short thunder breaks the frozen sky:
Oft, as in airy rings they skim the heath,
The clamorous lapwings feel the leaden death;
Oft, as the mounting larks their notes prepare,
They fall, and leave their little lives in air.
In genial spring, beneath the quivering shade,
Where cooling vapours breathe along the mead,
The patient fisher takes his silent stand,
Intent, his angle trembling in his hand;
With looks unmov'd, he hopes the scaly breed,
And eyes the dancing cork and bending, reed.
Our plenteous streams a various race supply,
The bright-ey'd perch with fins of Tyrian dye,
The silver eel, in shining volumes roll'd,
The yellow carp, in scales bedropp'd with gold,
Swift trouts, diversify'd with crimson stains,
And pikes, the tyrants of the watery plains.
Now Cancer glows with Phoebus' fiery car:
The youth rush eager to the sylvan war,
Swarm o'er the lawns, the forest walks surround,
Rouse the fleet hart, and cheer the opening hound.
Th' impatient courser pants in every vein,
And, pawing, seems to beat the distant plain:
Hills, vales, and floods, appear already cross'd,
And, ere he starts, a thousand steps are lost.
See the bold youth strain up the threatening steep,
Rush through the thickets, down the valleys sweep,
Hang o'er their coursers heads with eager speed,
And earth rolls back beneath the flying steed.
Let old Arcadia boast her ample plain,
Th' immortal huntress, and her virgin-train;
Nor envy, Windsor! since thy shades have seen
As bright a goddess, and as chaste & queen;
Whose care, like hers, protects the sylvan reign,
The earth's fair light, and empress of the main.
Here, too, 'tis sung, of old, Diana stray'd,
And Cynthus' top forsook for Windsor shade;
Here was she seen o'er airy wastes to rove,
Seek the clear spring, or haunt the pathless grove;
Here, arm'd with silver bows, in early dawn,
Her buskin'd virgins trac'd the dewy lawn.
Above the rest a rural nymph was fam'd,
Thy offspring, Thames! the fair Lodona nam'd
(Lodona's fate, in long oblivion cast,
The muse shall sing, and what she sings shall last).
Scarce could the goddess from her nymph be known,
But by the crescent, and the golden zone.
She scorn'd the praise of beauty, and the care;
A belt her waist, a fillet binds her hair;