1784 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmond Malone

Anonymous, "To — M—, Esq." 1784; St. James's Chronicle (7 January 1786).



SIR,
The following elegant Ode having accidentally fallen into my Hands, if you think it worth a Place in your Poet's Corner, it is at your Service. It is the Production, if I am rightly informed, of a Gentleman well known in the political World, who has long been deservedly admired for the happiest Vein of Wit and Humour, and is not less distinguished by his various and extensive Knowledge in almost every Branch of Literature and Science.
Yours, &c.
B. J.

Bath, Sept. 22, 1784.
Whilst you illumine Shakspeare's Page,
And dare the future Critick's Rage,
Or on the past refine,
Here many an Eve I pensive sit,
No B[urk]e pours out a Stream of Wit,
No B[oswe]ll joys o'er Wine.

At Baia's Spring, of Roman Fame,
I quaff the pure aethereal Flame,
To fire my languid Blood:
Life's gladsome Days, alas! are o'er,
For Health's Phlogiston now no more
Pervades the stagnant Flood.

Studious at Times, I strive to scan
Hope's airy Dream, — the End of Man,
In Systems wise or odd;
With Hume, I Fate and Death defy,
Or visionary Phantom spy
With Plato and Monbodd.

By metaphysic Whims distress'd,
Still sceptick Thoughts disturb my Breast,
And Reason's out of Tune:—
One serious Truth let none impeach,
'Tis all Philosophy can teach,—
That Man's an Air-Balloon.

He rides the Sport of every Blast,
Now on the Wave, or Desert cast,
And by the Eddy borne:—
Can boasted Reason steer him right,
Or e'er restrain his rapid Flight,
By Passion's Whirlwind torn?

His mounting Spirit, buoyant Air,
But waft him 'midst dark Clouds of Care,
And Life's tempestuous Trouble;
Ev'n though he shine, in splendid Dyes,
And sport awhile in Fortune's Skies,
Soon bursts the empty Bubble.

While through this pathless Waste we stray,
Are there no Flowers to cheer the Way?
And must we still repine?
No; — Heaven, in Pity to our Woes,
The gently soothing Balm bestows
Of Musick, Love, and Wine.

Then bid your Delia wake the Lyre,
Attun'd to Love and soft Desire,
And scorn Ambition's Strife;
Around let brilliant Fancy play,
To colour with her magick Ray
The dreary Gloom of Life.

Let Beauty speed her fondest Kiss,
The Prelude to more perfect Bliss,
And sweet Sensations dart;
While Wine and frolick Mirth inspire,
The ardent Wish, the amorous Fire,
And thrill the raptur'd Heart.

But Man has social Dues to pay;
Reason and Science claim their Sway,
And Truths sublime dispense:
For Pleasure's Charms we feebly taste,
If idly every Hour we waste,
The abject Slaves of Sense.

In vain the speculative Mind
Would metaphysick Regions find,—
Such dark Researches spare:
The soul ethereal Notions tire,
As her frail Case can scarce respire
In too refin'd an Air.

To Sophists leave their puzzling Skill;
The voice of Reason whispers still,
To bless, is to be blest;
Illum'd by Virtue's vivid Ray,
Enjoy the present fleeting Day,
And leave to Heaven the rest.