1740 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Whaley

Sneyd Davies, "To Mr. Whalley. Imitation of Horace, Book I. Epist. X" 1740 ca.; Nichols, Select Collection of Poems (1780-82) 6:129-31.



Davies, of rural scenes a lover grown,
Salutes his friend, a lover of the town:
Except the variance this and fatness make,
Who think we disagree, perhaps mistake;
(The difference much the same, as is between
The egg a swan produces, and a hen:)
Debating, scribbling, sauntering, sitting still,
Studious of ease, and brothers of the quill.

London your choice, I know; but I approve
The mossy seat, the river, and the grove.
If you should ask how I employ me hour—
Better than those in place, or those in power;
Not plagued with patrons, or a slave to pelf,
Lord of my time, and master of myself.
What have your noisy streets like this to give?
Or what like this, Sir Robert to receive?

Cotta, disgrac'd in Ariconian vales,
Likes, I am told, the neighbourhood of Wales;
Sick of parade, attendance, and resort,
Flies, and exhales the surfeit of a court.

You want a ground-plot for some new design!
Consult the oracle at Nature's shrine,
"Build in the country," says the voice divine.

Is there, where Winter's purer joys inspire,
Morn's wholesome frost, and Evening's smokeless fire?
Is there, where Summer's more refreshing gales
Fan the scorch'd hills, and chear the drooping dales?
Where Discontent a rarer guest is seen,
Or sleep less broken by intruding spleen.

What is that marble portal to this bower,
Array'd in green, or pearl'd by every shower?
Or what the stream, which pipes and conduits yield,
To the bright rill that trickles through my field?

Copying, ye own your wants; the case is clear;
In town, ye humbly mimick what is here.
Look at St. James's or on Grosvenor square:
Behold our walks, our trees, and our parterre.
Tell me, why Sheffield's house so pleasant stands?
Because a length of country it commands.

Nature, though of her tone by Art bereft,
Returns elastic to the point she left;
Spite of distortion, she appears the same,
And from the bend recovers like the palm.

Not she who, gull'd by want of taste or care,
Buys the resembling delft for china-ware;
Nor they who to a city-vault resort,
And are, instead of claret, dup'd with port;
Will half so dearly the deception rue,
As they who take false blessings for the true.
Those who launch far on Fortune's peaceful lake,
The tempest of Adversity will shake.
'Tis hard to part with what allures the eyes,
And the hand pause ere it drops the prize.

Fly then betimes, with unambitious wings,
To the still vale where Peace eternal springs,
Leave anguish to the great, and cares to kings.

The British monarch, by the Picts dismay'd,
Call'd-in the warlike Saxon to his aid:
His good ally to conquest led the way,
But took the whole dominion for his pay:
The stranger, wanton in his new abode,
Soon on the neck of vassal nobles trod,
And lifted high the hand, and exercis'd the rod.

Thus, if my friend should for preferment trade,
And sell his liberty, of want afraid;
The meagre monster is no more, I own,
But a more lordly tyrant mounts the throne;
And who a treasure by dependence gains,
I wish him well, and long to wear his chains.

'Tis know that shoes (just such is an estate)
Pinch or supplant, too little or too great.

If wise, you'll be content, though short of wealth,
With the rich gifts of competence and health:
Despise not then the happiness they bring,
For virtuous freedom is a sacred thing.
And when you see me break the rule laid down,
And on some courtier fawning in the town,
Give to your indignation full career,
Nor spare your friend, but justly be severe.