Five irregular Spenserians — an octosyllabic variation of the Prior pattern. George Dyer, who with Coleridge and Lamb had been a star pupil at Christ's Hospital, recalls the joys, fears, and literary ambitions of childhood. The poem adapts elements of both Shenstone's The School-Mistress and Gray's Eton College Ode. Compare Leigh Hunt's "Christ's Hospital" in Juvenilia (1801). Not seen.
British Critic: "We have borne frequent and willing testimony to the poetical taste and talents of Mr. Dyer. To many of his sentiments we avow the most open and direct hostility, but we are nevertheless zealous to do him ample justice. This volume is one of three hereafter to be produced, and professes to confine itself to lighter subjects. The second and third is to take a bolder flight and more majestic measures, and be consecrated; alas! how has the name been abused, Divae Libertati" 17 (1801) 590-91.
The Oracle: "We are happy to observe, fro the numerous poetical publications, there is no deficiency of talent in the writers of the present day. Among others we have been much gratified with the poems by George Dyer, whose writings evince at once the philanthropist, the scholar, and the man of genius. The volume before us consists of a very considerable variety of poetic composition, indicative of that versatility which distinguishes a lively intellect" (22 December 1801).
Now cease the sad complaining strain,
Now hush'd be PITY'S tender sigh,
While Memory wakes her fairy train,
And young delight sits laughing by;
Return, each hour of rosy hue,
In wreathy smiles, and garlands gay,
As when on playful wing ye flew,
When every month was blithe as May;
When young Invention wak'd his mimic powers,
And Genius, wand'ring wild, sigh'd for enchanted bowers.
Then too in antic vestment dress'd,
Pastime would blithsome trip along,
Throwing around the gibe, or jest,
Satire enrhymed, or simple song,
And merry Mischief oft would weave
His wanton tricks for little hearts,
Nor love his tender votary grieve,
Soft were his hands, nor keen his darts:
While Friendship felt th' enthusiast's glow,
Would give her half of bliss, and take her share of woe.
And though around my youthful spring
Many a low'ring storm might rise,
Hope her soul-soothing strain would sing,
And quickly brightened up the skies;
How sweetly pass'd my youth's gay prime!
For not untuneful was my tongue;
And as I tried the classic rhyme,
The critic school-boy prais'd my song.
Nor did mine eye not catch the splendid ray,
That promis'd fair to gild Ambition's distant day.
Ah! pleasing, gloomy, cloister shade,
Still, still this wavering breast inspire!
Here lost in rapturous trance I stray'd,
Here view'd with horror visions dire:
For soon as day dark-veil'd his head,
With hollow cheek, and haggard eye,
Pale ghosts would flit from cold death-bed,
And stalk with step terrific by:
Till the young heart would freeze with wild affright,
And store the dismal tale to cheer a winter's night.
Yet ah! what means the silent tear?
Why e'en mid joy this bosom heave?
Ye long-lost scenes, enchantments dear?
Lo! now I wander o'er your grave.
—Yet fly ye hours of rosy hue,
And bear away the bloom of years!
And quick succeed ye sickly crew,
Of doubts and pains of hopes and fears!
Still will I ponder Fate's unalter'd plan:
Nor, tracing back the Child, forget that I am Man.
[British Critic 17 (1801) 591-92]