The Land of the Muses (1768) is refashioned out of Spenserians and into late-century couplets. Like most mid-century imitations, Hugh Downman's original had been studded with archaisms, all of which have been removed. While the decision to revise his allegory may have been prompted by the thrashing he received from the Critical Review, it is also possible that Downman undertook the revision as a display of skill. The couplets are not particularly good, but the allegory gains clarity in the revision. Since the original publication in 1768, James Beattie's The Minstrel had done much to create a taste for the Spenserian stanza.
Gentleman's Magazine: "There were some, and those persons of acknowledged taste, who objected to the obsolete phraseology of Spenser, in imitation of whom it was written, as if intended for insertion between the 11th and 12th cantos of the 2d book of The Fairy Queen. Whether, however, that obsolete style and the octave rhyme are not better adapted to scenes where Fancy ranges unrestrained, to magic charms, and those ideal beings who people the land of Allegory, and 'float in light vision round the poet's head,' may admit of some doubt. We own a predilection for those numbers which Spenser so happily adopted, and which possibly may arise merely from his having successfully used them. To reconcile both parties, the poem now appears in two different dresses; and our partiality for antiquity is not so great as to excite disapprobation at its present more fashionable cut" 61 (March 1791) 254.
Herbert E. Cory: "But with all his romantic theories, so ingeniously allegorized, Downman, in his maturity, recast his poem in tame Augustan couplets. He published his revision in 1790 with some interesting dedicatory verses to Dr. Blacklock, the blind poet. 'For thy amusement first I tuned the lay, | And dressed my thoughts in Spenser's antique stile | Twas but a frolic task, a youthful play, | Whose best return was thy approving smile | [...] No longer inexperienced I presume | On fancied worth, beneath the quaint disguise, | But strip the veil, remove th' incumbent gloom, | And modern numbers give to modern eyes.' Despite his neo-classical rifacimento Downman deserves the credit of having been one of the first to see that Augustan-Spenserianism had been too academic and artificial in its adoption of Spenser's stanza and diction. The Augustans imitated Virgil, Juvenal, Milton, Spenser by rote. Downman in his recension, has a glimmer of the romantic method — to imitate more freely" "Spenser, Thomson, and Romanticism" PMLA 26 (1911) 71-72.
May we unblamed in these fastidious times
Retreat to Spenser's allegoric rhimes?
His venturous step thro' fairy bowers pursue,
Till Alma's castled dome appears in view?
There see, advancing on th' embattled plain,
Guyon and Athur of heroic strain?
Their martial grace, their valiant deeds admire,
Unwearied arms, and unextinguish'd fire;
When the base Squadrons who besieged her round,
They forced to quit the field, and shun the sacred ground?
Then view brave Guyon with intrepid heart
Against th' enchanted bower of bliss depart;
While by his presence check'd the sensual croud
Led by Malaeger, confident and proud
Again invest the walls? See Arthur ride
Indignant forth, and (as Antaeus died
By Hercules of yore) the the Chief inclasp,
Who breathed his last within his nervous grasp;
Yet, tho' renown's all-envied prize He won,
Espy from many a gash the crimson current run?
"There view the Grooms and Squires with tender speed,
Respectful take Him from his foaming steed;
And fairest Alma costly spice prepare,
And wine and balm t' administer with care,
Eager her lively gratitude t' express,
And aid her Champion, in his deep distress;
Then of his armour gently disarray'd,
On richest Sopha cause him to be laid,
And while his wounds they gird with circling band,
Close by his side behold the Virgin stand."
Ah Fools, who think that Temperance will refuse
Enjoyments sweet, the soul's refreshing dews,
To Human-kind! or frowningly survey
Their feet proceed in Pleasure's roseate way,
See them recline beneath her myrtle bowers,
Inhale the balmy air, and pluck th' innocuous flowers.
Liberal, and candid, all delights She loves,
Which Taste desires, and Elegance approves;
Fosters each genuine bliss to reason dear,
But hates impetuous passion's mad career.
Now while the Prince nigh heal'd by Alma's skill,
Felt health begin each languid vein to fill,
Exhausted erst, when in her cause he sought,
And with his blood the well-earn'd triumph bought,
As well She knew the body and the mind
In weal and woe essentially combin'd,
United each to each with strictest ties,
She bent her thought his mind to harmonize.
So to his ear, close-seated by his side,
In accents duly couch'd her speech applied;
At times of chivalry, war's purest flame,
And hardy Knights, who scorning abject shame,
Trampled on death to gain immortal fame.
Then, as the Powers of Virtue listening stood,
Of conscious worth She spake, and mental good,
And peace, and civic merit laurel-crown'd,
While He was ravish'd by the soothing sound.
With Her two Nymphs ministrant, came prepared,
And when She paused, the grateful labour shared.
For ever and anon would Praise-Desire
Open her ruby lips, attune her lyre,
And sing her pensive notes; the powerful strain
Charm'd the sensation of internal pain,
Infused serenest stedfastness, and brought
To justest temper each rebellious thought.
It seem'd as if an Angel from above,
Melodious glided on the wings of love,
Such silver tones th' enamour'd gales prolong,
Her flowing measures such, and blandishment of song,
And often Virgin Bashfulness assay'd
The melting lute, and sweetest descants play'd:
For She her instrument could aptly guide,
Nor wanted in well-doing comely pride.
The Prince's bosom secret pleasure fills,
And every nerve the love of glory thrills;
His spirit seizes her celestial meed,
He meditates th' unutterable deed:
Rapt, and beyond expression moved, He sighs,
The living fire darts ardent from his eyes,
And drench'd in bliss unknown to vulgar soul He lies.
One evening as these Four excursive tread
Where that majestic stream is seen to spread
Whence Guyon launch'd, the country far and wide
Profusely watering with exhaustless tide,
Arthur beholds the farther coast, it's hills
Ascending steep, it's vales, meandring rills,
Woods whose thick boughs a solemn shade diffuse,
And lawns which now declining Phoebus views,
Beaming the last remains of golden day,
Then curious ask'd what region yonder lay.
That is the Land, replied th' ingenuous Fair,
Apollo's and the Muses' favourite care;
On which their blessings they benignly shower
E'en to excess: there in immortal bower,
Close by the fount of Hippocrene divine,
Th' unfading wreathe of harmony entwine;
There, all their choral extasies repeat,
Far from the world there fix their happy seat,
And scorn its vulgar herd, and tasteless Great.
There too is heart-felt Joy with aspect bright,
And Pain is banish'd thence, and Grief is put to flight.
There too a thousand beauteous Forms reside,
To which in habit or in shape allied
In other place the eye can never find,
Beings invisible to common mind:
Of purest nature, and ethereal race,
Girded with zones by every Sister Grace;
For there the Graces shed their choicest rays,
While Liberty with smiles before them plays,
And clad in robes of white each spotless Virtue strays.
May not, rejoin'd the Prince, a Stranger sue
Those scenes thy lively words describe to view?
What bliss, to travel thro' that region fair!
What bliss to mingle with the Natives rare!
Nor speak I urged by boastful folly vain,
Yet in my heart is no illiberal stain;
Honour hath poured her influence on my mind,
And cherish'd passions generous and refin'd;
Say, whom must I invoke that purer mould
To tread? those Forms Ethereal to behold?
No base Intruder, no malicious Spy,
Seeking their hidden mysteries to descry.
Then Alma smiled, and smiled th' attendant Twain;
O Briton Prince, She said, that blest domain
To me by young Apollo's self is given
Freely t' enjoy; to me that earthly Heaven,
He grant's to range: from Him the power is mine
All lawless wanderers from the sacred Nine
To keep by force, Riot's wild Crew to quell,
And all the Sons of insolence repell;
But ever modest merit to befriend,
Direct his steps, and my assistance lend.
But darkness now protrudes her shadowy cone,
The fields are trod by wakeful man alone.
Take we our frugal meal, and then to rest;
The Beasts their couch, the Birds have sought their nest;
All but the Beast of prey, with ruthless mind
Threatening fell slaughter to the helpless kind:
And Philomel, whose conscious measures flow,
Feeding th' unsated luxury of woe,
Now passionately full, now soft, and dying low.
Tomorrow when the Eastern clouds display
Their lucid pomp, and crimson banners gay,
At my request a bark shall waft us o'er
Th' expanded stream, to yon sequester'd shore,
The prospects which await us there, to paint
Art cannot reach, all language would be faint.
In courtly phrase the Prince his thanks exprest,
For every polisht grace adorn'd his breast;
His eyelids, light and transient slumbers close,
And in the morn with Heaven's first beam He rose.
His gentle Guide not unprepared He found,
For when the Lark soar'd upward from the ground,
With joy She heard his sweetly-warbled strain,
And brake the silken bands of sleep in twain.
Then o'er the humid lawns they took their way,
(The dew-drops glittering with the orient ray)
And to the River's verdant margin sped,
Where lay th' expecting bark with fail unspread,
The Pilot at the helm, of aspect mild,
And bland, yet piercing eye, Good-Culture stiled.
The Knight and Lady He with transport warm
Received, then push'd far off with nervous arm,
Unfurl'd his sail, which gales propitious swell'd,
And o'er the waves his easy course impell'd.
The sparkling waves like lucid chrystal gleam,
Or like unclouded Titan's radiant beam;
For not the smallest stain or spot they know,
Tho' deep the tide, the sands were seen below.
When they approach'd that shore's extremest bound,
With Spring's eternal cestus girt around,
Ambrosial airs mild-breath'd their senses greet,
Diffusing odours exquisitely sweet:
For Zephyr there his softest plumes indued,
And chid each devious blast of pinions rude,
While Flora hung with living gems the bowers,
And deck'd the turf with never-fading flowers,
Blossoms and flowers of every various hue
Which once in Eden's happy garden grew.
Now at the Coast arrived, they land with speed,
And now along the lilied banks proceed,
Viewing in silence with attentive eye
The scenes romantic which before them lye.
The Prince at every turn to wonder yields,
At every turn new beauties crown the fields;
Upon his cheeks a warmer glow is spread,
His bosom throbs with awe and pleasing dread,
Such prospect, frailer mortals scarce could bear,
He gazed, and wish'd to gaze forever there.
His mild Conductress bade him now behold
Where crossing o'er the velvet-shaded mould
Two of the gentle Habitants advance;
He sees, and quits his visionary trance.
Their eyes the glittering beams of pleasure dart,
Their smooth brows speak their gayety of heart,
Their virid garlands wanton'd in the wind,
Their nimble feet moved on as chance inclined,
And treading the soft turf, no pressure left behind.
The one was Youthful Prime, of comely grace,
The rising down began to shade his face,
Unchanged by years. The other was his Bride,
Hygeia She, of firm affection tried,
From whom a Son paced smiling by his side.
Her presence every thought of time exiled,
So well each hour her converse sweet beguiled.
That tender imp whose smiles proclaim'd his joy,
He named Content; to whom tho' yet a Boy
Is given exclusive power and wondrous might;
For ease of mind and spirits dancing light
All those inspire, on whom He casts his sight.
The blooming Dame sustain'd an Infant Child,
Simplicity by both his Parents stiled,
Well-favour'd and of lovely hue to see,
Stretching his little arms, and telling his tale free.
To whom with bland demeanor Alma said;
Where widely your enchanted feet have stray'd
Among the mazes of this flowery green,
Tell me, ye gentle Pair, if ye have seen
Where Fancy now resides? for like the wind
I know the sudden shiftings of her mind,
No certain spot She loves, but varies soon,
Now the deep shade allures, and now the blaze of noon.
To Her with swift-wing'd accents Youth replied,
The Nymph ye seek, fair Dame, I lately spied
In yonder glen, which craggy rocks surround,
Whence bursts a torrent forth with roaring sound.
Then bending decent with respectful eye,
He and his loved Copartner hasted by.
But Alma with the Prince right onward fared,
Who ask'd her why to Fancy She repair'd?
Without her aid (said She) I want the power
To guide thee, as behoves, a single hour.
Besides, her skill hath raised a Building high,
Which yonder view, aspiring to the sky;
From whence is seen distinctly, rock, and plain,
And dell, and grot, and stream, and woodland reign,
Each goodly object, all the living race,
Which breathe and move, and these dominions grace,
To which if thee, O Prince, She will convey,
What else would take up many a tedious day,
And many a night in vigils to behold,
In portion small of time She can unfold.
Nor should we haply else succeed at last,
But after much sojourn, and labour vast,
Some thorny glade our tangled feet might chain,
Some wilderness mislead, or sandy plain:
Or we might sink beneath some foaming bourn,
Or to the place we left unsped return.
Now, where they sought, the Maid Divine they scann'd,
Upon a craggy cliff She took her stand;
Forming a gloomy shade, above her head
A lofty pine it's ample branches spread.
Downward on either side, with rapid force,
From rock to rock a strong stream bent it's course;
Precipitate the dashing currents flow,
And mingle in one boiling gulph below.
She stood enraptured o'er the whirling bay,
And bathed her forehead in the floating spray.
Conscious of stranger feet her eyes She rear'd,
Which as th' effulgent sun-beam bright appear'd,
And quicker than the quivering lightning glanced;
Then t'ward them strait with airy feet advanced.
In prodigal abundance, uncontroul'd,
Wide waved her burnisht locks, of tendrill'd gold;
Brede, or incircling band they never knew,
When most dishevell'd, comeliest to the view.
In thin habiliment her limbs were drest;
A curious robe depended from her vest,
Of fleecy clouds and gossimer intwined,
Which on the bosom of the dalliant wind
Its folds sustaining, sported far behind,
Adorn'd with tints of every various die
Which in Heaven's glorious bow attract the eye:
And every blended hue which e'er was traced,
In complicated beauty there was placed.
Oft in that vale retired She sate alone,
Where Nature wildly stray'd, to Art unknown.
But circumscribed by no determined bound,
Free and at large She ranged Creation round.
Or thro' the brazen gyre would urge her way,
With cheek unblanch'd, and heart without dismay,
The din of Chaos and Confusion hear,
Nor all the bickering elements would fear.
There, if She wills, the cold abyss She warms;
New worlds, and peopled with unnumber'd swarms
She bids arise; her palace strait they mould,
She mounts her throne, extends her scepter'd gold,
While thronging round, her ready subjects stand,
Or stoop submiss, and wait her high command:
Then in a moment, such her varying soul,
On ruin bent, annihilates the whole;
Assists confusion, multiplies the jar,
Heightens the tumult, and augments the war.
For She alone, most wondrous to relate,
Except Heaven's Sire, is unrestrain'd by Fate.
Oft to th' empyreal Dome, with boldest gaze
Striving to pierce th' impenetrable blaze,
She speeds her course, where mid the depth profound
Of strong refulgent glory floating round,
Sits the mysterious Godhead, in his reign
Of trinal unity. But all in vain
She strives to pass that inexpressive light;
Heaven's Sire alone escapes her thrillant sight.
Yet She could bring (so potent was her sway)
Cherubs and Seraphs from the realms of day;
While, gently hovering round, Angelic Quires
Tuned at her will their golden-stringed lyres.
Or spite of Pluto's horrid flames, would dare
To cleave the earth, and rode to upper air
The Furies with their whips of iron dread,
The snakes loud hissing on each ghastly head;
With Them, would Hecate reluctant stand,
Her cypress wreathe display, and wield her sparkling brand.
Then would arise, on pitchy pinions borne,
Stern-look'd Revenge; Hate by wild frenzy torn,
And each tremendous Pest which shuns the light,
And every Child abhorr'd of ugly Night.
Lust fierce and restless, Jealousy worn blind,
Murther, whose features shock the generous mind,
And pining Care, which in thick gloomy clouds
The half-slain wretch, while yet alive, inshrouds.
And Woe, by inches destined to consume,
Hanging, with face all pale, o'er her dead Lover's tomb.
And She would call th' unbodied Ghosts around,
Uttering their dolorous wail with shrieking sound;
And Witchcraft, mumbling forth her rites, might make
The stoutest tremble, and the firmest quake.
And Conscious Fear, who steals with secret stride,
Keeping close watch th' Assassin's bed beside;
And when Sleep, long invoked, begins to seal
His wearied lids unfold the poppied veil,
And his tormenting thoughts awhile controul,
Rings her alarum wild, and rends his guilty soul.
Yet were no frowns, or sternness in her face;
But amiable, and clad with native grace,
Her blushing cheeks confess'd a modest die,
Blending with softness, virgin majesty.
Love ever view'd her in respect array'd;
Enchanting smiles o'er all her features play'd;
Her azure veins in winding mazes flow'd,
The snow above with living lustre glow'd.
So, deckt with radiance, deckt with beauty's beams,
The Eldest Daughter of the Morn She seems.
While cordial joy her winning looks express'd,
To Alma thus her speech She first address'd:
Welcome, fair Maid, to this secluded place!
(Then seal'd the welcome with a warm embrace)
And hail to thee, her Knight! Command the Powers
Who here inherit; thee the light-plumed Hours
Transported view: for thee each Grace will twine
The dance: the Virtues chaunt their airs divine:
For thee Apollo's self would tune the lay,
And I, with ready step, thy will obey.
O Passing Fair! to her the Virgin said,
This Gentle Knight (He bent his comely head)
No Son of riot, or obtrusive pride,
To these blithe regions follows me his guide.
Let me his earnest suit to thee commend,
My strong Deliverer He, and stedfast Friend.
Oh, bear him to thy lofty tower with speed,
Or with him thro' these mazy haunts proceed;
That He each wondrous Inmate may descry,
And satiate with delight his knowledge-gathering eye.
She answer'd not, but lock'd with aspect sweet
Her hand in their's, prepared for voyage fleet;
Then swift as light, or if with swifter force
Aught moves, upbore them in her airy course;
Till on th' aspiring edifice they stood,
Whence they survey'd that Isle, it's circling flood,
The girding Heavens out-stretch'd in vast array,
And Earth and Ocean wide, which far beneath them lay.
Rare was the Building, glorious to behold,
It's parts, nor steel, nor brass, nor lead, nor gold,
Nor marble form'd; nor were they knit with lime,
With Roman cement, or Asphaltic slime.
One piece of lucent glass composed the mound,
In shortest space She raised it from the ground;
Tho' seeming thin and frail, it braved the rage
Of wasting time, and gain'd new strength from age.
With portraits numberless the walls were lined,
Landscapes, and Histories, by her design'd;
For when that tower She left, and ranging wide,
New shapes, and forms before unseen descry'd,
Those from her memory's faithful chart, the Maid
Before an Artist's skilful sight display'd;
Who every stroke with eager rapture scann'd,
And all defined with swiftly-moving hand;
And ornamented all with colours rare,
Description was her name, a Virgin debonair.
Soft was her pencil, delicately light,
Yet were it's sketches strong, and glowing bright;
For from the clouds their checquer'd spots She drew,
And it's pure essence from the morning dew;
Her blush when first Aurora rose from sleep
She took, it's azure from th' unruffled deep;
The smiles of Venus, Cynthia's silver ray,
Flora's enamell'd robe, the Lord of Day
Pouring his splendours in refulgent tide,
And all Dame Nature's works her tints supplied.
Each colour mingling just, a reverend Eld,
Or separating each, the palette held;
The wrinkles well became his antient face,
Low stream'd his hoary beard with decent grace;
His piercing eye his perfect senses told,
Active his soul, tho' in experience old;
Judgement the Sage was stiled; his looks with awe
She view'd; his slightest hint she deem'd a law.
Full many a time her youthful hand He stay'd,
When wanton, or with careless touch it stray'd.
The Briton Prince with pleasure view'd the Pair,
Her curious works, and his attentive care,
Till Fancy beckon'd Him; to whom resign'd,
He left th' enchanting imagery behind;
And now, by Her and Alma seated nigh,
Where rose the glittering battlements on high,
She waved her hand, then bade them look around
And mark the charms of that celestial ground.
Wide spread the magic scene their eyes before;
The laughing meads with flowers were sprinkled o'er,
There was the crocus, there the harebell seen,
The lily fair, the rose unrivall'd Queen;
The pink, the tulip, with embroiderd vest,
The violet blue, the daisy meekly drest;
The cowslip drooping down his languid head;
All, which the sweetest liveliest odours bred;
And all, which Nature's vivid stains imbrue,
There seeming Art, uncultivated grew.
And mid the valleys lucid rivers stray,
Which rolling on, in wild meanders play;
With dimpled surface now they calmly glide;
The listening Swain hears not the gentle tide;
Now broke by mossy stones sweet music make,
And the thrall'd sense in willing bondage take;
Now sudden bounding o'er some rocky wall,
From rift to rift the dashing currents fall.
On hills far off the forests shed their gloom,
Here tufted groves with verdure ever bloom;
Around whose trunks the honeysuckle winds,
And scented jasmine it's branches binds;
And purple grapes between, thick-clustering hung,
And thousand, thousand feather'd Inmates sung;
Conceal'd from every eye, the Minstrels raised
Their choral notes, and Harmony was pleased,
While every leaf more gladly seem'd to move,
And every bough consenting waved above.
As o'er the lawns their eyes delighted pass,
Fair flocks they see, which cropp'd the tender grass;
Or slept reclined beside each pastoral stream,
Or wanton sported the sunny beam.
And where or rock appeared, or rising hill,
The goats of antic gambols took their fill.
And jocund Keepers, with their crooks in hand,
Guarded them both, with dogs, a faithful band.
Or in the plain, or hid beneath the shade,
On pipes of reed their amorous descants play'd.
Soon they beheld the horned Pan draw near,
A merry note he tuned the heart to cheer;
Pleasant, but rude and rustic was the strain;
Him follow'd, dancing trim in frolic vein,
A crowd of Fauns and Satyrs, who with fleet
And active motions sped their cloven feet.
With them the loose-rob'd Dryads, aptly join'd,
Their Partners gay, the mazy round entwined.
With nimble step they beat the hollow ground,
Their hair with oaken wreathes and ivy crown'd.
A pleasing sight succeeded — Lo! the God
Of Love! a gentle lamb the Power bestrod.
Not He, for whom Spite tempers savage darts,
Teaching those cursed and malignant arts,
His, and his cruel Mother's lasting shame,
While just reproach indignifies his name;
Arts, by which numerous wretches, first his slaves,
Have sunk in torture to untimely graves;
And numerous wretches, who alive remain,
Dwell with despair, and ever-racking pain.
This winged Boy a milder bosom proved,
Mild as the beast on which He onward moved;
Nor could He see th' unhappy drop a tear,
But He sustain'd of grief an equal share.
He was not blind: and from his piercing sight
Fled base Desire, who shrunk beneath his might.
Deceit and Calumny his frown dismay'd,
And by him walked Sincerity the Maid.
A chrystal vase she held before her breast,
In which her secret thoughts were all exprest,
Each inward sentiment reflecting true,
Clad without varnish in their native hue.
With this she oft can Villainy disgrace,
And make him, stooping, hide his odious face,
Guarded by this, no lurking ill she fears,
And e'en assail'd, a smiling aspect wears;
As if defended strong by magic charms,
Or firmly girded in Vulcanian arms.
Close on the left, Fair Innocence sustain'd
A rosy brede, with which that Lamb she rein'd,
And guided him along the flowery way,
Or check'd him if his Rider will'd to stay.
Her to behold, on balmy wings upborne,
Angels would oft this lower world adorn;
Bathing in mortal air their limbs divine;
Around her such attractive graces shine.
Her other hand a bloated serpent rear'd,
Which lick'd her face, for she no venom fear'd.
And now, a Nymph tript o'er the pathless green,
Blithe was her look, unequal was her mien,
None could her lineaments exactly spy,
The colour of her garment mock'd the eye.
For both each moment chang'd; inconstant, wild,
That fickle Female, Novelty was stiled.
Of Admiration She the heart possest,
Her frequent change inflamed his youthful breast,
With eager look he mark'd her giddy pace,
And every shifting feature of her face.
Twisting a silken cord with all his might,
And stretching each unyielding fibre tight,
Next came a Swain, and walking by his side
One more than kin, tho' not in blood allied.
The first was Friendship, while the other bore
The name of Sans-Self-love in human lore,
Honour's pure beams illumed his faithful soul
In true affection stedfast as the pole:
For he the former to secure from pain,
Would naked rush on spears, or plunge into the main.
And now advanced, the Wight they first survey'd,
And with his Spouse that Boy in smiles array'd,
While heightening all the lustre of her charms,
The little Prattler graced her matron arms.
Behind, with downcast eye and motion slow
Trod virgin Chastity, a lump of snow
In her cold hands; which tho' the rapid west
Around her breathed, no soil, or stain confest,
Unthaw'd, and ever spotless as her breast.
Long since, her modest vows, and plighted truth
Fidelity obtain'd, a comely youth;
Her face was his fixt vision's only sphere,
But such his looks as raised no blushes there.
His hand, the flower in living gold displays,
Which to the sun still turns it's constant rays;
That, a Cameleon in a diamond chain,
Whose magic links his varying hues restrain.
And many more from their exalted seat
The Prince and Alma saw, a Band replete
With all that charms the heart, or feeds desire,
Stirs the soft wish, or warm enthusiast fire.
Uncinctured there the Sister Graces bright,
There Liberty unveil'd her peerless light;
Benevolence, and Gratitude conjoin'd,
Beauty all-lovely both in shape and mind:
There heart-felt Ease, and Leisure onward past,
And happy Indolence and Peace the last.
Then Fancy waved again her potent arm,
Th' inverted prospect own'd the sudden charm.
Black was the sky, the blustring wind blew rude,
To the gay troop, succeeded Solitude.
Instead of flowery lawns, a doleful glade,
Which seem'd for Grief's afflicted offspring made,
T'ward which no visionary joy could steal;
Alas! so soon all human glories fail.
Forth came an hundred Nymphs with solemn mien,
And flaming torches, then (as seem'd) a Queen,
By the pure crown of gold which deck'd her head,
Her awful front, and her majestic tread.
Her crimson vestment flow'd in stately pride,
Like Scythian Tomyris when in slaughter died
She bade the Persian Cyrus thirst no more;
Of bold Bonduca, drench'd in Roman gore.
Her left hand held a bowl with poison fill'd,
Which working quick dispatch the victim kill'd;
Her right, a dreadful dagger, which to those
Who tired of life, their own relentless foes
Became, she gave: or if they ask'd the bowl,
She bade them drink, and satisfy their soul.
Impurpled buskins on her legs she wore,
A golden clasp connected them before.
Behind her was a Wretch with garments rent,
He moved, as if with weakness all forespent,
Hollow his cheeks, and pale his dreary face,
His eyes still gleaming with a languid grace,
Misfortune He; Adversity around
His passive limbs a brazen chain had bound,
Tho' breathless, faint, o'erpower'd, and well nigh slain,
She spared him not, but dragg'd him on amain.
And ever and anon her arm on high
She lifted, scouling grim with threatening eye:
And oft his vesture would with fury tear,
And scourge him till each vital part lay bare.
No evil word, tho' hopeless of relief,
But sighs profound declared his mighty grief.
She heeded not his virtues, or his moan,
Her heart long since had been transform'd to stone.
With aspect sweet and bland, a lovely Dame,
The fairest, and the best, behind him came.
No rarer mixture of Creation's mould,
No purer, human eyesight could behold.
His sufferings when she view'd, his dire unrest,
O God! what anguish wrung her tender breast!
What would she not relinquish to set free
From his sad state the Man of misery!
To rescue him she almost wish'd to die,
Such was the feeling soul of Sympathy,
The tears which sprinkled her celestial cheek
With added beauty graced each feature meek.
As for that Wretch beset with cruel pain
Her eyes let fall the copious drops in vain;
And blushing Pudency there sat inshrined
With silent voice interpreting the mind,
Soft-mantling on the polisht surface play'd,
And the moist pearls in orient beams array'd.
So in her Eastern temple glowing bright,
Thro' a thin cloud Aurora darts her light;
So a sweet rosy bud attracts the view
Beneath it's lucid veil of ambient dew.
Two Cherubs hover'd mild her steps before,
One in his hand a golden censor bore,
Intent each precious tear of her's to save:
Which fill'd, he straitway to the other gave,
Who to the starry mansions of the sky
Speeding his purple pinions soar'd on high,
Where Jove with might superior reign'd, alone,
Except that Mercy stood beside his throne,
The sacred offering he received with love,
And shook with gracious sign his nectared locks above.
Next came Remorse; his eyes with looks profound
In ghastly silence glared upon the ground,
But soon retorted with in eager view
As if to pierce his inmost bosom thro'.
There tenting to the quick, with direst pain
Keen anguish throbb'd thro' every panting vein.
His arms convulsed (sad object of despair)
He tost aloft, or wildly beat the air.
Ah Conscience-smitten! in thy secret heart
Deep is the sting, and fixt th' eternal smart.
Now Indignation, breathing vengeful ire,
His sparkling glances darted living fire.
Deep blush'd his cheeks with glowing crimson red,
His manly brow the sternest frowns o'erspread,
A glittering falchion beam'd above his head.
Yet taught by Reason, his emotions slow,
His ire she prompts, and gives his cheeks to glow,
Wielding his blade, a monster he pursued,
Snaky, and foul, with venom all imbued,
Guilt, who by terror wing'd ne'er ceased to fly,
Nor tho' far off, dared turn her craven eye.
Next Horror; nought his ravin could controul,
With harrows dire 'twas his to rend the soul,
To tear each finer nerve, with fell dismay,
To rule with strength untamed, and fiercest sway.
Then Hopeless Love; a shaft had pierced her breast,
Her tongue to none the rankling wound confest,
Beneath her robe she hid the smart severe,
And pined unwitnest like the stricken Deer.
Such numbers own'd that Queen's majestic reign,
The Muse can scarce describe th' attendant train.
In the dark glade they dwelt, their native place,
Till now call'd forth her sovereign state to grace.
Suspicion, green and sickly was his hue,
Excess of Grief, whose eyes no moisture knew,
Revenge, who both his hands insteep'd in blood.
Envy, pernicious foe to all that's good,
Dissimulation, weeping to beguile
Like the scaled Reptile on the Banks of Nile.
Madness, wild raving like the stormy wave,
And Melancholy, silent as the Grave.
There too was Brave Disdain of worthless deed,
And Conscious Pride from all dishonour freed.
And Stoic Rigour which reproach defied,
And Bounteous Kindness to the Gods allied,
And Seemly Zeal by True Religion drest,
And Justice, well-spring pare of public rest,
And Emulation scorning second place,
And Wedded Love whom wreathes unfading grace,
And Filial Piety to whom is given
A lengthen'd term of years by favouring Heaven.
All that from lethargy could rouse the soul,
All that with potent spell could vice controul,
Was there; for Virtue ranged the bands unseen,
Her Vassals they, and e'en their haughty Queen;
From her derived, and bound her laws t' obey,
To whose support alone she owes her sway.
By her she from confusion, order draws,
And rules the diverse Croud with strictest laws.
Now, for so Fancy bade, arose a blast,
And the dark gloom which erst had overcast
The sun, dispell'd: and with it all the Crew
Like the swift rack, or misty vapour flew.
His cheering rays more bright illumed the skies,
And soon a public road before them lyes,
Which t'ward a neighbouring City seem'd to lead,
Where many a jovial troop they now survey'd,
Who rode, or laughing walk'd, or sung, or play'd.
By the frequented path an Archer stood,
Black was his lowering brow in angry mood,
Two beauteous Nymphs within a certain gyre
Held him soft-soothing, and restrain'd his fire.
Satire, whom Candour meek, and Truth attend;
They taught him when his threatening bow to bend,
At their command the twanging string he drew,
And with sure aim the barbed arrow flew.
Those whom with deep and rigorous wound he sped,
By Vice, an antient Beldam, had been bred,
Some in disguises quaint a lurking Pest,
Others with open force that road t' infest,
And unsuspecting Travellers molest.
But now with limping pace they trod awry,
Pursued with flouts by grinning Infamy,
And hated, kept at distance from the throng,
Nor join'd in frolic dance, or jocund song.
But ever when his two Companions cast
Their eyes aside, a shaft he snatch'd in haste,
And smiling cruel with malicious face,
Struck some of sober mien, and goodly grace.
The Virgins when they saw this evil deed,
To their assistance ran with earnest speed,
And pour'd in oil and balm with healing hand,
But punish'd him with bitter reprimand.
Not far removed, a Female they survey'd,
Her easy limbs in flowing robes array'd,
Loose socks adorn'd her feet; of diverse hue
A vizard hid her features from the view;
An ugly Hag who waved a brand of flame,
Follow'd, her steps attending, Secret Shame:
While Ridicule, a Dwarf, still moved before,
And as he moved, a burnisht mirrour bore.
Led on by Vanity, and Folly gay,
The desultory Croud who past that way,
Curious t' observe what images were there,
With idle mirth and wantonness drew near:
When in the mirrour bright themselves they spied,
But so deform'd, the likeness they denied;
Till that uncomely Dame forsook her stand,
Full in their cheeks she dash'd her fiery brand,
The strong similitude at once confest,
They fled, disgrace alarm'd each conscious breast.
But oh! what tongue, what language shall I find,
What energy, what amplitude of mind,
The scenes, which now superbly rose, to paint!
My numbers fail, my Muse is all too faint:
When she, the Prince, and Alma fair to bless,
Liberal, and kind, and bounteous to excess,
Unfolded to their sight the rich domains
Where in full pomp th' exalted Epic reigns.
As if a man by more than human power
Should in his sleep be snatch'd at midnight hour,
And o'er the sounding billows swift upborne
Behold with wild amaze, at break of morn,
A Country strange; before, with rapid force
The Amazonian stream's unrivall'd course;
Beyond, an open realm which upward tends,
And gradual, with majestic swell ascends,
By the vast towering Cordilleras bound;
And on the other side, th' Atlantic waste profound.
So stood the British Prince in wonder lost:
For now, down time-worn vallies rough embost,
Strong torrents, rolling fierce, his vision crost;
Now without shore an ocean huge and deep,
On which the lingering breezes seem'd to sleep,
But soon dire war conflicting tempests wage,
And it's chafed bosom feels, the whirlwinds rage,
With foaming wrath the watery mountains rise,
And the red lightning fires the blazing skies.
Now, on the Champion, or mid shady bowers,
Proud castles he beheld, and stately towers,
And clad in sun-like armour many a Knight,
With Ladies by their sides of beauty bright,
To whom they told fair tales of love's delight.
Or in their cause, with pointed lance oppose
Portentous Monsters, or mishapen Foes;
Or in round lifts obey the trumpet's blast,
And at their feet each meed of victory cast.
Now heard he clarions numberless around,
His heart enkindled own'd the martial sound:
And now the plain two banner'd armies fill,
They march, they shout, they join, they fight, they kill;
Undaunted Heroes lift the spear and shield,
Pierce the deep ranks, and thin the crouded field.
From steeds and men forth streams a mingled flood,
The earth is crimson'd with the smoaking blood.
Then where the distant mountains he espied,
Moving from rock to rock with giant stride
A Form appear'd; his stature reach'd the pole;
He grasp'd at Heaven: Sublimity of Soul.
These past away: and now of golden light
A cloud He view'd, which floated dazzling bright
Upon a forked hill; his eyes in vain
Strove it's collected radiance to sustain.
And from behind such music flow'd, He thought
That airs divine from Heaven above were brought;
And whelm'd with pleasure scarcely breath'd or moved;
Nor was it strange that He such rapture proved,
When Jove himself would often stoop his ear
From high Olympus top, these symphonies to hear.
Thro' the thin edges of the floating light,
Part of a seeming temple struck his sight
Of gorgeous frame; yet tho' he strain'd his eye,
It fail'd the building wholly to descry:
Whene'er the central lustre was assay'd,
Each glance recoil'd, confounded and dismay'd.
With bold attempt repeatedly he gazed,
At every look more strong the radiance blazed.
And now, said She, O Prince, whate'er these plains
Can boast, whate'er th' extent of my domains,
All that my will can grant, or Thou behold,
Have briefly been display'd; those rays of gold
Thy fair Conductress knows the laws of fate
Will not allow thee yet to penetrate.
Unless when born Thou hadst been sprinkled o'er,
With dews Castalian, and on Pindus' shore
Been lapt in myrtle, and in laurel green,
And thrice three times been dipt in Hippocrene.
There on his throne, Apollo I survey,
And there the Muses tune their deathless lay.
Yet e'en their mansions shalt Thou view in time,
But first must toil in many a various clime,
And combat with thy Country's deadly Foes,
And crush the Saxons with redoubled blows.
Then shall Themselves, thy partial Guides become,
By whom conducted to yon lofty dome,
Conspicuous Thou in Glory's fane shalt stand,
And thy renown be read in every land.
This saying, She a private door unbound,
Which led a winding passage to the ground,
For tho' 'twere difficult the tower t' ascend,
Spontaneous and with ease they downward tend.
When at it's feet arrived, with grateful breast,
The Prince and Alma their due thanks exprest.
Instant She mounted like an arrowy flame;
They backward trod the path by which they came.