1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Cunningham

John Cunningham, "Written by Mr. Cunningham, about Three Weeks before his Death" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (16 October 1788).



Dear Lad, as you run o'er my rhime,
And see my long name at the end,
You'll cry — "And has Cunningham time
To give so much verse to his friend?"

'Tis true, the reproof (tho' severe,)
Is just from the letters I owe;
But, blameless I still may appear,
For nonsense is all I bestow.

However, for better, for worse,
As Damons their Chloes receive,
Ev'n take the dull lines I rehearse—
They're all a poor friend has to give.

The Drama and I have shook hands,
We've parted, no more to engage;
Submissive, I met her commands—
For nothing can cure me of age.

My sunshine of youth is no more!
My mornings of pleasure are fled!
'Tis painful my fate to endure—
A pension supplies me with bread!

Dependent at length on the man
Whose fortunes I struggl'd to raise!
I conquer my pride as I can—
His charity merits my praise!

His bounty proceeds from his heart;
'Tis principle prompts the supply—
His kindness exceeds my desert,
And often suppresses a sigh.

But, like the Old Horse in the song,
I'm turn'd on the common to graze—
To Fortune these changes belong,
And, contented, I yield to her ways!

She ne'er was my friend! — Thro' the day
Her smiles were the smiles of deceit:
At noon she'd her favours display,
And at night let me pine at her feet.

No longer her presence I court,
No longer I shrink at her frowns!
Her whimsies supply me with sport,
And her smiles I resign to the Clowns!

Thus lost to each worldly desire,
And scorning all riches — all fame,
I quietly hope to retire
When time shall the summons proclaim.

I've nothing to weep for behind!
To part with my friends is the worst!
Their numbers, I grant, are confin'd;
But, you are still one of the first.