1800 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Capel Lofft

John Black, "To Capel Lofft, Esq. on his introducting to Public Notice The Farmer's Boy" Lady's Monthly Museum 4 (April 1800) 313-15.



Thou friend to merit in its lorn abode,
Who genius' meed on poverty bestow'd;
Allow me, LOFFT, thy SUFFOLK BARD to greet,
Who sings round EUSTON'S dale so simply sweet!
Like his own lark, uprising from the corn,
Beyond the gaze of GILES, rapt list'ner, borne,
He'll charm the ploughmen, as they wearied plod,
Inspire kind feelings, wing their thoughts to GOD!

Not tedded hay, nor pease in purple bloom,
Nor dewy blossoms scattering sweet perfume,
Delight me more, as funny fields I tread,
Than BLOOMFIELD'S page, which I with rapture read.
No Delias, Daphnes, Damons, here appear,
Nor swains Arcadian, piping all so clear:
No fabled fount, whence inspiration swells;
No Dryads, Nereids, Tritons, with their shells:
'Tis NATURE, all, that marks our Poet's strains;
And cows, and sheep, and Suffolk's fertile plains;
Poor Ball, and Dobbin, dairy-maids, and cheese,
Plough-haunting birds, that build on rocking trees;
The sportive lamb, trod-gwof, and harvest-home;
Young GILES' lone walks, where he was wont to roam,
And GRAFTON'S hounds, loud opening, while they chace
The depredator of the feather'd race.

No Venus rising from the foaming main,
No Pallas starting from Jove's pregnant brain,
No buskin'd Dian with her quiver hung,
No Spartan Queen by Bard immortal sung,
So often echo'd in the lulling lays
Of minor Poets, in these modern days,
Here meet the eye, unkindled with desire;—
'Tis Suffolk Beauty sets the soul on fire!
No maid more sweet ere met the raptur'd view,
A form more fair the pencil never drew,
Than BLOOMFIELD pictures in his glowing page,—
His Mary's blush would melt the frost of age.

Whatever scene the rural bard surveys,
His feeling heart benevolence displays.
Who, but his maid, ill-fated, must bemoan,
Who roam'd the wild, and, sighing, sat alone!
"Who pluck'd a tender twig from ev'ry bough,
To whip the hovering demons from her brow."

For GILES, lone watching in his smoky shed,
Preparing cates, of roasted sloes, to spread,
Which soon was pierc'd by Disappointment's dart,
As play-mates, faithless to their word he found,
And mourn'd their friendship, fickle and unsound,—
Who, but must feel? Ah! melancholy wight!
How soon he finds that promises are light!

What is it, LOFFT, thou close observer, say,
That makes the bird-watch ask the time of day?
What is it makes him so impatient stand,
And Time's slow lapse with anxious voice demand?
As sinks the sun's broad orb in western skies,
While o'er the field his lengthen'd shade he spies,
Say, why he quickly reckons up three-score,
Then feels a joy he's lost one minute more?
It is not hunger makes the time seem slow,
But solitude which fills his heart with woe.
Long solitude makes social converse dear,
Which gives a relish to the coarsest cheer.
'Tis NATURE'S self that makes us thus combine,
And cling like tendrils from the shooting vine.
In solitude the genius sinks, opprest,
And dove-like friendship wants whereon to rest.
Steel sharpens steel; wit, edge on wit bestows;
Flame brightens flame, while each redoubled glows.
As lucid drops towards each other roll,
On leafy plants, as if instinct with soul,
So man, by nature, seeks with man to join,
And minds conglob'd in social converse shine:
But party heats these globes to steam expand,
And war's repulsion thundering shakes the land.
Oh! for thy cooling power, clear common sense,
Which in a moment would this steam condense;
Attraction, then, might speedily take place,
And Love and Concord bless the human race!
Woodbridge, March 17, 1800.