1746 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Jeffreys

William Duncombe, "An Epistle from Stocks-house, in Herefordshire, to George Jeffreys, Esq." 1746; Christian's Magazine 3 (December 1762) 566.



From this sweet place to you I write,
Where every object charms the sight.
A rising theatre of hills
To North and East the prospect fills
With flocks and woods; a grove behind,
Where oft, to pensive thought inclin'd,
I rove; and call the learned dead
To life; while, perching o'er my head,
The birds, soft-warbling, sooth the breast
And gently lull to grateful rest.
Here rich perfumes, from blossom'd trees,
Regale the smell with every breeze,
Behold each leaf and vernal shower
Display the wise Creator's power,
And, opening by degrees, unfold
Its curious texture, closely roll'd.
Yon rising nests, so nicely wrought,
Appear the work of heavenly thought;
Guided by this, the chemist bee
Plans with such frugal symmetry
Her waxen dome; then, studious, fills
With Nature's sweets; which she distills
From herbs and flowers. — To please the taste,
Yon garden yields a plain repast
Of various pulse; delicious fare!
When Summer's suns enflame the air.
At morn or eve, for our delight,
For health and keener appetite,
By hopes of conquest fir'd, we roll,
O'er the smooth lawn, the winding bowl.

But cease, fond Muse, thy chearful strain;
A gloom o'erspreads this happy plain:
No more this vernal scene can please
The tufted hills, and blossom'd trees,
Since good Favonius,* day by day,
Bends to the grave with swift decay.
With him the woods now seem to sigh,
The winds in hoarser murmurs fly;
The cowslips fade; the birds prolong
In heavier notes their jarring song:
More sad sweet Philomel complains;
Cease, cease, my Muse, thy chearful strains!
May, 1746.

* The late John Duncombe, Esq; the author's brother, then in a very declining state of health.