1710 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Seasons.

Poems; Amorous, Moral, and Divine.

William Hinchliffe


All but the conclusion of William Hinchliffe's georgic ode is in octosyllabic couplets, the measure of Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. This is the only poem by Hinchliffe to attract attention, and that only for anticipating James Thomson's better-known poem on the same subject. But it is a pleasing and original poem in its own right, which may possibly owe something to Spenser in its allegorical personifications and frequent consonance. Hinchliffe's manner is closer to that of Charles Cotton in "Winter" and "Quatrains" than to Milton's poems; on this theme, compare also in Spenserians Moses Mendez's The Seasons (1751), perhaps the most exquisite of all.

Raymond Dexter Havens: "The movement of Hinchliffe's lines reminds one of Allegro, as do the personified abstractions, the descriptions of their attire, and the pictures of nature, but the similarity is principally metrical" The Influence of Milton (1922) 444-45.

Harko Gerrit De Maar: "There are many echoes from L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. It is not likely that Thomson knew it" History of Modern English Romanticism (1924) 182.

Dwight Durling: "There seems a strong possibility that Thomson knew the 1718 Seasons, and he may have found in them a suggestion for greatly amplified use of Georgics material within a framework of the seasons. Mallet and Ralph in 1728, and Savage in 1729, published poems combining phenomena of the seasons with georgic conventions. But by 1728 the original Winter had been expanded, Summer had had two editions, and Spring one. But the idea of a 'descriptive georgic,' if the term is admissible, on the seasons, originated with Thomson and may possibly have been suggested by Hinchliffe" Georgic Tradition in English Poetry (1935) 45.



SPRING.
In the first Age, e'er Victor Jove
To Tartarus good Saturn drove;
The golden Times no Changes knew,
No Winter came, while Summer flew:
But Spring eternal, hover'd round
The smiling Sky, and flow'ry Ground.
The Phoenix-Season, she alone,
Held ev'ry Land and ev'ry Zone.
All the gay Months with her were seen;
They all confess'd her for their Queen;
And bore her Train across the Green.
Till Jupiter usurp'd the Skies;
Who for Mankind did Plagues devise.
He, bade the Oak no Honey yield;
No Corn enrich th' unwounded Field:
Bade blust'ring Boreas first to blow;
And milky Streams with Water flow;
Made the young Months strange Liv'ries wear;
And alter'd the revolving Year.
He shorten'd th' Empire of the Spring,
(Celestial Tyrant! barb'rous King!)
Assigning her too narrow Bound
Within a Fourth of th' annual Round.
Yet nor his Malice, nor his Pow'r,
Her heav'nly Beauties could deflow'r;
Still does the Nymph her Charms retain,
Tho' small her State, and short her Reign.
Still all the Goddess is confess'd,
When she in gaudy Glory dress't,
Leads from on high the youthful Year;
And chears us with her Presence here.

March goes before, to smooth her Way,
Contract the Night, and lengthen Day.
The Warrior-Helmet hides his Face
With Martial Majesty and Grace.
Comely, tho' fierce, the Youth is seen,
With stately Port and manly Mien.

And now sweet Flora doth appear,
The Nymph for ever young and fair.
Lightly around her slender Waste
A party-colour'd Mantle's cast;
Enrich'd with ev'ry Flow'r that grows;
Which Mountain, Plain, or Valley knows.
A gay Creation there we see
Smile on her Vest in Effigy.
The Landscape there for ever blooms:
The curious Work of heav'nly Looms.
The Colours there eternal shine:
Th' immortal Toil of Hands Divine.
A Cannister of fairest Flow'rs,
The Purple Pride of Cyprian Bow'rs,
Her Right-Hand bears; and in her Breast,
Her sweetest Favourites are prest.
With flow'ry Garlands is she crown'd;
In flow'ry Wreaths her Locks are bound;
And flow'ry Zones her Robe surround.
With her, soft Zephyrus behold
With smooth, round Cheeks and Curls of Gold:
He bids the bland and tepid Breeze
Call bursting Buds from teeming Trees;
She bids the various Flow'rs arise,
While spicy Gales perfume the Skies.
They paint the Plants, and gild the Ground,
Till nothing unadorn'd is found
The vegetable World around.

The bloomy April next appears;
His Head a Wreath of Blossoms wears;
And Nosegays in his Hands he bears
Of Primroses and Vi'lets blue,
And Hyacinth's of Purple Hue.

Lo, now the Spring her self is seen;
She comes! the lovely graceful Queen!
Wrap'd in a Robe of brightest Green.
Phoebus, the gallant Goddess leads
O'er the smooth Lawns and yellow Meads.
See, see, the God her Eyes adore;
For Daphne now he sighs no more.
To her he tunes his golden Strings;
To her he plays, to her he sings.
On her Right-Hand the beauteous May,
With Look serenely mild and gay,
And dress'd in all his rosy Pride,
Well-pleas'd, walks smiling by her Side.
A Thousand flocking Loves resort
To wait on her from Venus' Court;
While some her stately Train support;
Some drive the Breeze, with gilded Wings,
To play among the flowing Rings,
In which her wavy Tresses break
A-down her polish'd Iv'ry Neck.

How Nature in her best Attire,
Does the fair Queen's Approach admire!
Where e'er she treads, the Flow'rs arise;
And Beams so bright break from her Eyes,
That were her Usher Phoebus gone,
She might create the Day alone.
Pleasure and Health her Presence yields,
And scatters thro' the laughing Fields.
Thy Sight, O Nymph! my Soul inspires
With Love, and Joy, and soft Desires.
Thou mak'st my Blood fresh Vigour gain,
And dance thro' ev'ry beating Vein.
Hail Goddess! Queen of Seasons, Hail!
Thee, ev'ry Mountain, ev'ry Vale,
Shall ecchoing praise, whilst thus I sing,
Hail Queen of Seasons! lovely Spring.

SUMMER.
What Nymph is that with Yellow Hair,
Not bright, yet moderately fair,
Of Beauty ripe, and charming Air?
Whose swelling Bosom, bare to Sight,
Seems the cool-fanning Gales t' invite?
'Tis she, whom Rhea's mighty Son,
When He his Empire first begun,
The second Regent did declare
Of the divided rolling Year,
Summer by Mortals, but above
She's call'd the Nut-brown Maid of Jove.
He bade hot June confess her Reign;
And Julius following on the Plain,
With glowing August bears her Train.
In one Hand golden Ears of Corn,
Poppies, and Lavender are born;
And in her other Arm is held
A Plate with blushing Plenty fill'd.
The Months o'er whom she does preside
Have crown'd her with their choicest Pride.
Carnations rich, sweet Eglantine,
And Amaranths, and Jessamine,
The spicy Pink, the scentful Rose,
With Thousands more of Flow'rs compose
Her Wreath, where they their Glories spread
And smile around her radiant Head.

Now Phoebus, glitt'ring God of Day,
Scatters on Earth a scorching Ray.
Fermenting Fruits his Beams refine,
Which on the bending Branches shine.
Here, Trees with Crimson Cherries glow,
There, rip'ning Apples load the Bough,
And Pears their painted Blushes show.
Now does the parching Dog-Star rise,
T' infect the sultry Southern Skies:
To Streams the panting Herds retreat
And try to shun the melting Heat.
Nymphs haunt the Banks of cooling Floods,
And Swains retire to gloomy Woods.

Bear me, O Muse! to Pindus' Shades!
To sacred Groves! Pierian Glades!
To Grotto's crown'd with Sylvan Pride,
Under th' Aonian Mountain's Side!
There let me meditate my Song,
Where murm'ring Rivers glide along;
Where leavy Bow'rs exclude the Day.
And balmy Breezes sportive play;
Where warbling Fountains lull the Mind
To Peace, suggesting Thoughts refin'd.
Thus free'd from Business, Noise, and Care,
I'll tune my Harp, and strait prepare
To sing what thou shalt then inspire,
Whilst my Breast burns with heav'nly Fire.
Then will I teach the Vocal Strings
Such Mighty Numbers, mighty Things,
That Oaks and Cedars shall incline
Their Heads, as when the Bard Divine,
Whose Thracian Lyre's Almighty Call
Did build the wond'rous Theban Wall,
Inform'd his sweet Hermetic Shell,
And mov'd the rigid Pow'rs of Hell.
I'd make th' hov'ring Ghosts rejoice
And list'ning Gods applaud my Voice.

AUTUMN.
No more the Glories of the Spring;
No more of Summer's Pride I sing;
But now describe in alter'd Lays
Declining Suns, and shorter Days.
Uncertain Autumn's various Face,
In Lines of speaking Paint I trace:
Her Show'rs and Storms my Strains rehearse;
And Tempests rattle in my Verse.

Soon as the radiant Balance weighs
In equal Scales the Nights and Days,
Down from the Courts of Royal Jove,
And Presence of the Gods above,
The delegated Season glides:
And proudly Eminent, she rides
Sublime, in Bacchus' gilded Carr,
Which shines conspicuous from afar.
Bacchus, the bounteous Goddess loves:
And she the jovial God approves.
O'er all her Vintages he reigns.
And hence his Chariot she obtains.
Her Lover's Ivy crowns her Brow,
And clust'ring Grapes around her grow.
Her better Arm with comely Grace,
A Cornucopia does embrace,
Whose Stores the Iv'ry Brims o'erflow,
And fill her wealthy Lap below
With burnish'd Fruits, of ev'ry Kind,
By Sun-Beams kiss'd, or Western Wind;
Which on immortal Branches blow,
And in Elysian Gardens grow.

Plenty is seated by her Side,
The wanton Nurse of pamper'd Pride;
Her sparkling Eyes; with Gladness glow;
Her Purple Lips with Smiles o'erflow,
Her dancing Heart, no Grief can know.
But who's that Meagre Monster there,
With haggard Looks, and shaggy Hair
Twisted with Snakes, who rules the Reins,
And furious, drives across the Plains
The harness'd Tygers, whilst they roar
Beneath his Lash, which drinks their Gore?
'Tis fierce Disease, Man's cruel Foe,
The Parent of afflictive Woe.
By him the wasted World is thin'd,
And Pains, and Plagues torment Mankind.
Fast as now Leaves forsake the Trees,
Nipt, by the chill Autumnal Breeze;
So fast, he sweeps poor Souls away,
Forc'd to forsake th' infected Clay.
Three Youths behind her are retain'd;
The first, with Blood of Grapes distain'd:
The next with Apple-bearing Boughs
Covers his Head, and wreaths his Brows:
The last, doth on his Shoulders bear,
(The Symbols of the naked Year)
A bundled Heap of Arms of Trees,
Dishonour'd by the Northern Breeze.

Now the bright Monarch of the Day
To Realms remote betakes his Way:
With lessen'd Glories does he blaze,
And on us shines with fainter Rays:
Whilst to the Southern Tropic prone,
He sheds his Beams on Lands unknown.
Driving aslope his fiery Car,
He dimly views us from afar,
And swiftly towards the Western Sea,
Precipitates his headlong Way.

Now filthy Foggs from Earth arise;
And gath'ring Gloom pollutes the Skies.
Thick Vapours darken all the Air;
In black, the frowning Heav'ns appear,
That, scarce distinguish'd, Day and Night
Promiscuous roll, unmark'd with Light.
Th' enliv'ning Sun, by clouded Skies,
Thus ravish'd from her longing Eyes,
See, sickning Vesta drooping lies.
"Oh! swift, my Love! (she cries) return!
Nor let me long thy Absence mourn!
Haste to the Goat; and thence revert
With speed, to chear my fainting Heart!"

Now bellowing Boreas from the North,
From Lapland Mountains issuing forth,
Does with his blust'ring Brethren stray;
Who urge uncheck'd their lawless Way.
With dreadful Noise, their Force they try;
And roar aloft, and sweep the Sky.
The Tempest on his rapid Wings
Collected Stores of Waters brings,
The clashing Clouds, do now prepare
To join the Elemental War.
In rushing Rains their Rage they spend,
While spouting Cataracts descend,
Such Floods the Firmament supplies
As Earth's Inhabitants surprize;
Shudd'ring they quit the delug'd Plain;
And to the Mountains flee, in vain;
Down their steep Sides the Billows strong,
With sounding Fury roll along;
That neither Man, nor Beast, can dare
To stem the frightful Torrent there.
The weeping Rustic shakes his Head
To see the wat'ry Ruin spread;
"Cease ye dissolving Clouds above,
(He cries) and hear thou, angry Jove!
What has sad Earth, our Parent, done
To draw this whelming Vengeance down?
Has she some other Titan bred?
O launch thy Thunder at his Head!
But do not, Father! do not strike
Thy Terrors thus on all alike!
O hear! and to our Aid arise!
Rebuke the Storms! and clear the Skies!
Restore the Day! and bring the Light!
And chase the Empire of the Night!
Usurping Chaos, here we see;
And Pluto bears the Sway from thee.
Is this the Seat? This the Abode,
Of favour'd Man, the Demi-god?
Tartarian Darkness hides his Sun:
And Jars and Discords are begun.
Where now, are all the beauteous Scenes,
The painted Beds, and Groves of Greens,
The checkquer'd Meads, the rosy Bow'rs,
The limpid Brooks, and Banks of Flow'rs?
Vanish'd! — No Beauties now are seen,
Nor painted Beds, nor Groves of Green,
Nor checquer'd Meads, nor rosy Bowr's,
Nor limpid Brooks, nor Banks of Flowr's!
But all is waste, deform'd and wild,
And Nature's Face with Horrors fill'd."

WINTER.
Once more extend thy weary Wing,
O Muse, and latest Winter sing.
O grant thy Poet's last Desire:
Cold is his Theme; new Heat inspire!
A double Portion of Coelestial Fire!

She comes! she comes! from Eastern Skies,
On Eurus' bleakest Blasts she flies.
(O hardy Goddess! Nymph severe!
Haste on to close the finish'd Year!)
Thick Air condens'd, her Chariot forms:
By bridled Winds, and harnass'd Storms,
The flying Vehicle is driv'n
Around the Circuit of wide Heav'n.
High in the midst, the rugged Queen
Upon a Throne of Ice is seen.
Her Limbs in furry Robes array'd,
Of ev'ry beauteous Salvage made.
The spotted Lynx' and Leopard's there,
And Panther's comely Coats appear.
The Skins of Tawny Tygers, deck
Her horrid Head, and armed Neck.
A Holly Sceptre fills her Hand:
And Three rough Youths before her stand.
The Midmost, taller than the rest,
In whitest Purity is drest:
First of the Months, his noted Name,
His Robes and double Front proclaim.
'Tis theirs, to feed th' eternal Fire,
Which on yon Altar does aspire:
Where to their Queen the Flames arise,
And Holy Fumes involve the Skies.

Mow from the Tropic Goat, his Way
Betakes the welcome Prince of Day.
Blest be th' approaching Chariot Wheels
Which Parent Earth with Gladness fills!
Patient the Winter's Rage she bears,
And Loss of all the Pride she wears,
Yet feels some Comfort in her Grief
Whilst they draw near to her Relief.
Lo, various Meteors now assail
Her batter'd Head; now, Rains prevail;
Now, pelting Storms of patt'ring Hail.
To these succeed sharp cutting Sleets,
That fiercely blown, in driving Sheets,
Swiftly maintain their cruel Race,
And deeply wound the Trav'ler's Face.
The freezing Winds constrain her Pores:
And Clouds discharge their snowy Stores.
The feather'd Meteor, flut'ring flies,
And softly sails from thicken'd Skies.
Her Limbs the Silver Robe does press;
A glitt'ring Garb, and splendid Dress.
Eurus and Boreas jointly blow,
And see, the Fountains cease to flow.
They turn the Floods to Ice, and make
A solid Mass of ev'ry Lake.

So, a clear Winter-Night I've seen,
The Sky, with glowing Fires, serene,
And the broad Moon with Beams full bright,
Silver'd the Thames with trembling Light;
When, a keen Eastern Breeze arose,
And all the rapid River froze.
Ev'n where a-cross the Subject Tide,
The Rocky Arches tow'ring stride,
Where proud Augusta's Bridge is rear'd,
And sounding Cataracts are hear'd,
Sudden, th' arrested Waters creep,
The roaring Billows seem to sleep.
The mounted Waves are fixt on high,
And Icy Rocks invade the Sky.
The ruddy Morn's returning Ray
A shining Prospect does display,
And chrystal Mounds reflect the Day.

Let us not now on Mountains rove
My Muse, nor seek the lonesome Grove.
Bleak Winter there severely reigns
O'er frosted Fields, and powder'd Plains.
The Winds, with Nitre edg'd, there fly,
And sharply cut th' inclement Sky.
Few Verse-inviting Objects now
Provoke the Bard his Skill to show.
But if he sings, no Themes arise
But naked Woods, and freezing Skies,
One vast unvary'd Scene of White,
Earth's Glitt'ring Face array'd with Light,
Tho' waste, yet gay, tho' barren, bright.

Now is the Time for th' rustick Race
With Hounds the tim'rous Hare to chase.
All have their Sports: But O my Muse,
What are the Pleasures we shall chuse?
Of witty Friends, a chosen Few,
United in their Hearts and true;
And then, the Converse to refine,
A Portion wise of gen'rous Wine.
Here crown the Glass, and fill the Bowl,
Due Mirth t' infuse in ev'ry Soul.
Tis he, the mighty God of Wine,
Who swells our Breasts with Rage Divine,
Warms us with Bacchanalian Fires,
And Stores of rapt'rous Rhymes inspires.

But now, PHILESIA come, for without thee,
The very Bliss of Life is Misery.
The Chorus yet is lame with only Wit,
Till Beauty joins to make our Joys compleat.
Then, O my Mistress! come, without Delay;
For what is Life, if Love be far away?
Rouse all thy Charms, awaken ev'ry Grace,
And call forth all the Wonders of thy Face.
I long to dwell upon thy dazling Eyes,
And lose my Senses in the sweet Surprize;
The rigid Season we shall quite forget,
Thus warm'd with secret Fires and genial Heat.

[pp. 43-67]