1791
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Fragment. In imitation of Spenser.

Gazette of the United States (16 July 1791) 90.

Dr. Elihu Hubbard Smith


Ten burlesque Spenserians by a Connecticut Wit who signs himself "Ella" (after Chatterton's Aella?) As the notes explain, the poem describes a visit to New Lebanon Springs, New York. The references to industry and "robed Religion" are to the Quakers: "they call themselves Christians — but their exact principles I am unacquainted with." The Quakers being "simple" people, they were an natural subject for Spenserian poetry, burlesque or otherwise. Elihu Hubbard Smith, who was quite young when this imitation of Spenser was written, had been a pupil of Theodore Dwight at Greenfield, which might explain the poet's theological orthodoxy. The Gazette of the United States was a Philadelphia newspaper.

Lady's Monitor [New York]: "Besides his medical pursuits, he cultivated, with zeal and success, almost every branch of literature. He was early distinguished by his attachment to the muses, which is attested by a great number of juvenile compositions. These have found their way, in different forms, to the world, and manifested a vigour of imagination and style, which, with the advantages of age and experience, would have rendered him an honour to his country" 1 (22 May 1802) 315.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "Elihu Hubbard Smith, M.D., born at Lichfield, Connecticut, 1771, graduated at Yale College, 1786; settled in the city of New York, as a physician, in 1793, and there remained until his death" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 2:2134.

Joann Peck Krieg: The Fragment "might better have been named 'in imitation of Thomson,' for it combined the landscape detail of the Seasons with the Gothicism of The Castle of Indolence" Spenser Encyclopedia (1990) 27. Shenstone's School-Mistress and Beattie's The Minstrel are more direct sources.



Ah me! how black misfortune clouds the day!
How joy is banish'd from the human mind!
How pleasure flies at like the evening ray,
Ne can we e'er its lovely footsteps find.
And still unheedful, to the present blind,
We let the joyous moments slip along;
Still to ourselves eke careless and unkind,
We pass o'er straying from the happy throng,
Ne join the easy dance, ne sootly raise the song.

Yet now, regardful of life's little space,
And wisely yielding with obeisance still,
Let me no more the pleasant scene deface
With griefs responsive to the murm'ring rill,
And moans load echoing o'er the neigh'bring hill,
O let me hide my sorrows in the night,
And bow submissive to the Eternal will;
Then Time shall load each moment with delight,
And o'er my soul shall shine the Muse's living light.—

'Twas when the Sun had climb'd the azure steep,
And shed his yellow influence on the earth;
Had driven the roaring tempests 'neath the deep,
And call'd the green creation into birth;
When lively Youth, gay Health, and buxom Mirth,
Scatter'd the Summer's joys the world around;
When the neat housewife from her kitchen hearth
Had thrown the ashes on the garden ground,
And with green boughs and flowrets it had crown'd;

Then, where Libanus which is hight the new
Spreads all around its ever varied scene,
And pours a rich creation into view,
Stray'd from mine home, in sprightly youth I been,
Then, with fresh joy I ken the smiling green,
The distant mountains frowning on the vale,
The lofty woods which shew their heights atween,
The speckled flocks thick nibbling in the dale,
And leaves, and flutt'ring birds, ay flying in the gale.

Aid me, O Muse! the varied joys to tell
Which in this region of delight appear;
To mark the sorrows which must here ay dwell;
The joys, and woes, which call the differing tear.
What curious Nature hath ypighted here
Ay torturing pain fore'er to drive away,
And ease the grief of many tiresome yeare;
Or to add comfort to the present day;
Eke her unkindness joying kindly to o'erpay.

From the smooth plain we rise the craggy hill
That tortuous windes its lengthened way along;
Leave on the left the hoarse ay clacking mill,
And reach the dome, meet burthen of a song.
The dome e'er swarming with the busy throng,
That with a different purpose seek the place,
In pleasure's paths to wander all among;
Or dry the tear from sorrow's faded face,
Which the soft hand of Love delights away to chase.

Straught from the morning to the falling ray,
Full many a foot the building spred, I ween,
And its front proudly to the southern day
Uprearing pleasant, from afar was seen.
Flank'd with a broad Piazza round it been—
Meet place to walk, and spend the summer's morn;
And from its edge to view the distant scene,
When the sun, rising, all things doth adorn,
And gild the flowers, and dew-drops glistening on the thorn.

Here, when the orient blushes o'er the earth,
I walk, regardful of the enchanting view,
What charms the voice of Summer wakes to birth!
What beauty trembleth through the lucent dew!
Far round the horizon rise the mountains blue!
In distant prospect mingling with the sky;
And here the woods in varied foliage shew;
Yielding soft pleasure to the roving eye,
That longs the innumerous sweets of nature to descry.

At distance still, and o'er a beauteous plain
A village breaketh through the tufted trees:
Where industry renews her daily pain,
And labor sigheth on the careless breeze.
Here, th' rich plenty laugheth o'er the mees,
In antic vesture robed Religion walks,
Her face in sorrows drest, all hearts doth freeze,
And with a frigid hand creation balks;
While in her train wan Care, with Pain united, stalks.

Here, while the eye doth glisten with delight
To see what pleasaunce liveth o'er the scene,
Yet doth compassion's tear bedim the sight.
O Heaven! shall Virtue of celestial mien
The soul of nature, and creation's queen,
Reign but to spread destruction on mankind?
Shall Piety, bedeck'd in God's own sheen,
Live but to seal damnation on the mind—
Whose very soul is love with adoration join'd?

[p. 90]