1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Millhouse

Luke Booker, "Millhouse's Poems" Gentleman's Magazine 92 (April 1822) 309-11.



Your Magazine having frequently been the successful medium of directing the hand of charity to succour meritorious want, as well as to lead unobtrusive genius up the steps of fame, I know it will gratify your good heart to co-operate with me in the honest endeavour, at least, to accomplish both these objects, in the person of one, who forms too humble an estimate of his own talents or of his own deserts, to claim kindness for himself.

At present I have no other knowledge of the individual whom I wish to serve, than what is derived from a small volume of Poems, with which, some time since, he was pleased to present me, accompanied by a modest letter, expressive of his fears that it would not prove worthy of my acceptance. The contrary, however, was the case. I found much in it to admire, on account of its genuine poetic character, and much to applaud, for a soundness of religious and moral principle. From that volume many extracts might be made, confirmatory of this impartial judgment: but I prefer a transcription of two short pieces (because they are short) which he has, this day, sent me in a letter of too-grateful acknowledgment, for a trifling return I made for the present, with which he was pleased to favour me. Sincerely wishing to serve a man, apparently so deserving of patronage, he will pardon me if I introduce the short specimens, by quoting a part of his last letter. After feelingly stating the failure of a subscription to indemnify him for publishing his little volume, at a time when sickness had reduced a wife and infant child to the borders of the grave, and a stagnation in that branch of business to which he is devoted, he says, "I am now labouring under indisposition both of body and mind; which, with the united evils of poverty and a bad trade, have brought on me a species of nervous melancholy that requires the utmost exertions of my philosophy to encounter. Begging pardon for thus obtruding myself upon your retirement, and throwing myself at the footstool of DIVINE PROVIDENCE, I am, Rev. and much-venerated Sir, your very obedient humble servant, R. MILLHOUSE, Mole-court, Milton-street, Nottinghamshire.

TO A LEAFLESS HAWTHORN; Written in Autumn.
Hail, rustic Tree! for, tho' November's wind
Has thrown thy verdant mantle to the ground;
Yet Nature, to thy vocal inmates kind,
With berries red thy matron-boughs has crown'd.

Thee do I envy: for, bright April show'rs
Will bid again thy fresh green leaves expand;
And May, light floating In a cloud of flow'rs,
Will cause thee to re-bloom with magic hand.

But, on my Spring, when genial dew-drops fell,
Soon did Life's north-wind curdle them with frost;
And, when my Summer-blossom op'd its bell,
In blight and mildew was its beauty lost.

SONNET; Written in Spring.
When, in my happy vernal day of life,
Succeeding autumns ravag'd Nature's bloom,
Oft have I felt a transitory gloom,
And, anxious, wish'd an end to wintry strife,
Seen, with new joy, the green hill break the tomb
Of melting snows, — whence the gay sky-lark sprung,
And, mounting up, his morning carol sung,
While violets sigh'd away their first perfume.
But now, tho' flow'rs are all around me flung
Tho', into anthems, burst forth ev'ry grove,
Sad, mid the varied sweetness do I rove,
And, melancholy, stray the groves among!
For, ah! what charm has Nature for the breast
That holds a throbbing heart with want opprest?

These two witnesses, if I mistake not, will speak more forcibly to the generous feelings and elegant minds of your readers, Mr. Urban, in behalf of the stricken Bard, than any friend can speak for him. "The fresh green leaves of the hawthorn, expanding in the bright sunny showers of April;" and "May," with the lightness of an Ariel, "floating on a cloud of flowers," — "the green hill" of Spring, as at the great resurrection day, "breaking the tomb of melting snows," in which it had been imprisoned, — "the lark, rising from it to sing his choral at the gate of heaven," — the pristine "violets sighing away their virgin perfume," — "the groves bursting forth into anthems," at the return of that glad season, — these are expressions uttered by the very spirit of Poesy; while the dark and melancholy contrasts, with which each picture is concluded, must be felt by every one not unsusceptible of the finest impressions of human nature.

Should a humane and enlightened publick be disposed to aid this mentally endowed child of Nature (his sole endowment) perhaps the promptest way of befriending him may he the best — "bis dat," &c.: and that would be by speedily purchasing the remaining sets of his publication, or by encouraging reprint of it, with such additional Poems as he may have written.

LUKE BOOKER, Vicar of Dudley.

P.S. It may interest the friends of their country to be informed, that the man thus respectfully introduced to their compassionate consideration, has filled with credit the post of Corporal in a Provincial Regiment.