1803 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Jackson Pratt

R. B. W—n, "To Mr. Pratt, on his Poem Cottage Pictures; or, the Poor" Pratt, Cottage Pictures (1803) 3-4.



Hail'd be thy Muse! for O where'er she sings,
Compassion's angel seems to tune the strings,
Around the chords, the sweet inspirers throng,
And to Humanity the notes belong.
A social sense the thrilling sounds impart,
And while it moves our pity mends the heart,
The generous heart — but for those breasts of steel,
Like shaggy rocks "unknowing how to feel,"
For those who aggravate the Poor Man's lot,
And rend the last scant comfort from his cot;
Spurn him, though prostrate, from gorg'd Plenty's gate,
Break from his grasp, and leave him to his fate—
Ah! what can melting lays with these avail?
What Pity's plea, or Sorrow's tender tale?

To gentle beings gentle means may prove
The rights of sympathy and claims of love;
Verse such as thine, from them may draw the tear,
Stir the warm blood, and heave the sigh sincere;
The Muse for them has but to paint a woe
To make their bounty, like their eyes, o'erflow,
But stern Natures, such as grind the Poor,
And drive "imploring Famine" from the door;
The harsh, the harden'd, other powers require,
Than sounds harmonious from the sacred lyre;
A thousand harps, by choice of angels strung,
And notes divine, by raptur'd seraph's song,
Reach not the breast by demon Avarice sway'd;
For them the vice-correcting Laws were made;
Justice for them must in her terrors arm,
Their interests threaten, and their fears alarm.
The niggard boon, which scoffing they refuse
To weeping Mercy and the wailing Muse;
Law may extort; they yield, but ne'er bestow;
They crouch to Justice, but they mock at Woe.

Yet still proceed, blest Poet of the Poor!
Congenial spirits shall applaud thy lore;
Taught by thy Muse where the pale victims lie,
The good shall feel the touch of Charity,
And haply those who in gay mansions dwell,
Led by thy lay, shall visit Sorrow's cell.