1770 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Cockfield

John Scott of Amwell, "Ode XII. To a Friend" Poetical Works (1782) 198-200.



No, Cockfield, no! I'll not disdain
Thy Upton's elm-divided plain;
Nor scorn the varied views it yields,
O'er Bromley's creeks and isles of reeds,
Or Ham's or Plaistow's level meads,
To Woolwich streets, or Charlton fields:
Thy hedge-row paths I'll pleasant call,
And praise the lonely lane that leads
To that old tower upon the wall.

'Twas when Misfortune's stroke severe,
And Melancholy's presence drear,
Had made my Amwell's groves displease,
That thine my weary steps receiv'd,
And much the change my mind reliev'd,
And much thy kindness gave me ease;
For o'er the past as thought would stray,
That thought thy voice as oft retriev'd,
To scenes which fair before us lay.

And there, in happier hours, the walk
Has frequent pleas'd with friendly talk;
From theme to theme that wander'd still—
The long detail of where we had been,
And what we had heard, and what we had seen;
And what the Poet's tuneful skill,
And what the Painter's graphic art,
Or Antiquarian's searches keen,
Of calm amusement could impart.

Then oft did Nature's works engage,
And oft we search'd LINNAEUS' page;
The Scanian Sage, whose wond'rous toil
Had class'd the vegetable race:
And curious, oft from place to place,
We rang'd, and sought each different soil,
Each different plant intent to view,
And all the marks minute to trace,
Whence he his nice distinctions drew.

O moments these, not ill employ'd!
O moments, better far enjoy'd
Than those in crowded cities pass'd;
Where oft to Luxury's gaudy reign
Trade lends her feeble aid in vain,
Till Pride, a bankrupt wretch at last,
Bids Fraud his specious wiles essay,
Youth's easy confidence to gain,
Or Industry's poor pittance rend away!