1740 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Fragment of an Allegory.]

Biographical Memoirs of the late Revd. Joseph Warton, D.D. ... to which are added a Selection from his Works; and a Literary Correspondence between eminent Persons, reserved by him for Publication. By the Rev. John Wooll, A.M.

Rev. Joseph Warton


John Wooll reprints a selection from an undated and unpublished allegorical poem. The scenes depicted in the Temple represent the sad passions arising from poetry; if the poem is a school-boy exercise, as seems possible, it is notable that the poet would be introduced to Ovid, Pope, Tasso, Shakespeare, and Spenser by the seductive figure of Idleness. Roger Lonsdale has suggested that this poem was a source for the temple in William Collins's "Ode to Pity," that it is perhaps the "lost poem" mentioned by Thomas Warton in his letter to Hymers. See Poems of Gray, Collins, and Goldsmith (1969) 415.

Thomas Warton to William Hymers: "Dr. Warton, my brother, has a few fragments of some other odes [by William Collins], but too loose and imperfect for publication, yet containing traces of high imagery. In the Ode to Pity, the idea of a Temple of Pity, of its situation, construction, and groupes of painting with which its walls were decorated, was borrowed from a poem, now lost, entitled the Temple of Pity, written by my brother, while he and Collins were school-fellows at Winchester College" in The Gleaner, ed. Nathan Drake (1811) 4:477-78.

On the envelope in which Wooll discovered the poem was written: "The story of the enclosed poem was simply this, taken from an old Italian writer — The Poet wandering in a wood comes to the Temple of Love, the outside of which is extremely beautiful — the moment he enters, he finds all the miseries of those within it. The allegory is easy and plain, and it is also very easy to add lines, and finish it." The editor comments, "This is to be considered a rough and incorrect sketch; it is however the sketch of a master, and bears the strongest marks of its eventual excellence, had it been brought to a conclusion, and undergone the polish of revisal and correction" (1806) 95-96n.

Samuel Egerton Brydges: "To the juvenile poetry of Dr. Warton, which is here published, scarce anything new is added. Perhaps I may think that Mr. Wooll has rated his powers in this way, if we judge from these remains, a little too high; though there are some striking and appropriate traits in his delineation of them" Censura Literaria 3 (1807) 197.



Ere long, on polish'd pillars rear'd
High o'er the woods, the tow'rs appear'd;
A purer air with purple light
Here darts upon my ravish'd sight,
The warbling rills o'er stones of gold
Their chrystal windings softly roll'd,
The birds upborne on wavy wing
Round the bright dome in chorus sing;
Hark, how their notes of gladness swell,
Temper'd by plaintive Philomel;
Here on the green smooth-shaven ground,
Dancing in many a wanton round,
Comus and revelry resort,
With naked Liberty, and sport;
Here Hebe dwells, and healthy Joy;
Young Laughter leads a playful boy;
Here sits Content, and strokes a dove,
And calls herself the child of Love;
On couch of lilies idly laid,
Meanwhile I spy a beauteous maid,
In azure mantle thinly drest,
Yet naked was her swelling breast,
Her mantle ill conceal'd the rest.
Her artless locks hung loose behind,
Dancing in the wanton wind;
Her eyes, so sleepy and so mild,
With love-sick languors sweetly smil'd;
She cast a soul-ensnaring look;
A well turn'd silver lute she took,
Whose dulcet and delicious sound
In transport deep my senses drown'd;
With me, O happy shepherds! stay,
(Thus she began her luring lay)
All dear delights to thee I'll show
That on green earth's gay bosom grow;
Lull'd in my downy flow'ry lap,
Soft ecstacies each sense shall wrap:
———*———*———*———
I teach becalmed souls to bless
The placid pow'r of Idleness;
O enter here, and thou shalt find
Each joy to feast th' enraptur'd mind.

[This representation of Idleness is truly poetical, and reminds us of the delineation of the Pleasure in the Judgement of Hercules. The contrast arising from the inside of the temple is finely opened:]

I enter'd, and perceiv'd too late
Th' alluring Syren's sad deceit;
O! what a doleful, diff'rent scene
Rose to my wond'ring eyes within;
The walls in glowing colours show
A thousand tales of pictur'd woe;
There saw I Ariadne stand
All on the bleak and barren sand;
Who beckons with beseeching hand
To Theseus hasting o'er the main,
And kneels, and weeps, and shrieks in vain:
There Phaedra from dishevell'd hair
Her costly jewels strove to tear;
While her fond soul with incest burns,
From her fond lord her eyes she turns;
In frantic passion seems to say,
Come, to the high woods let's away,
Beneath some spreading beech reclin'd
My lov'd Hyppolitus to find.
———*———*———*———
There Eloise in stony cell,
Where Solitude and Sorrow dwell,
Sits lonely by a winking light,
And wastes in bitter thoughts the night,
Thinking each hollow blast she heard
The absent voice of Abelard:
Next Tancred all astonish'd stood
Gazing on pale Chlorinda's blood
What time with rash mistaken spear
He smote unknown the warlike fair:
———*———*———*———
There in her spotless bridal bed
Lay injur'd Desdemona dead;
The rash-believing Moor stood by,
Rolling with jealous rage his eye,
Whence the fierce fires of fury flash,
His grinding teeth together gnash.
———*———*———*———
But in the inmost temple stand
Of frowning fiends a gloomy band;
Here trembled Fear, there Discontent
With ragged locks and mantle rent;
Next sly Suspicion list'ning stood,
Her right hand bath'd in brother's blood;
With cruel Pride, and deaf Disdain,
Who spurns aside the kneeling swain;
Dark Melancholy — moping spright,
Detesting human voice and sight,
Sitting alond, her lips did bite.

[The following is likewise a most impressive image of Despair:]

She loneliest caves, and gloomy groves,
And e'en the doleful dungeon loves;
Delights, at awful midnight hours,
In whistling winds, and beating show'rs:
A panting corpse beside her lay,
That just was breathing life away;
A youth by her beguil'd of life—
His hand still clasp'd the reeking knife.

[pp. 91-95]