1806
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Connubial Love. To the Rev. * * * *.

Poems, by the Rev. Richard Mant, M.A. and late Fellow of Oriel College.

Bp. Richard Mant


After Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso: "Come! nor leave thy train behind: | Content of heart; and Peace of mind; | Soft Sympathy's delightful tear; | And Sanctity, with brow severe." "Wisdom join'd with simpleness" is quoted from the Earl of Surrey, note. Richard Mant's volume contains several poems in irregular Spenserians, elegies, patriotic odes, etc., and reprints Verses to ... Joseph Warton (1800).

Edinburgh Review: "On the whole, though these poems evince (what is no small or vulgar praise) considerable powers both of describing and enjoying the pleasures of an elegant and virtuous retirement, yet we cannot help hinting to Mr. Mant, that we think he had more merit in composing than in publishing them. To write smooth verses is a very innocent amusement for a man of leisure and education, — and to read them in manuscript to his family or intimate associates is also a very venial and amiable indulgence of vanity; — but to push them out into the wide world, is not altogether so safe or laudable a speculation: and, though we are happy to tell him, that we think his talents respectable, yet we feel it a duty to announce to him, that we have not been able to discern in his works any of the tokens of immortality; and to caution him not to put himself in the way of more unmerciful critics" 11 (October 1807) 170-71.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "As a sacred poet, as well as a theological expositor, Bishop Mant gained great and deserved distinction" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 2:1216.



Hence, to thy den beneath the sunless main!
Nor the holy lay profane,
Thou, whom Poets hail'd of old
Goddess of the cest of gold;
Star that gilds the orient morn;
Of the scepter'd Thunderer born;
And fondly feign'd, that at thy birth
Rapture smil'd on heav'n and earth.
False the tale: some Spirit fell
Bore thee in the depths of hell;
Mother thou of joys impure,
Which thy feeble votaries lure
By trach'rous paths to caves, where lie
Disease and death and infamy.
Hence, with thy distemper'd train,
Fev'rish Youth with madd'ning brain,
Thy zoneless nymphs, thy sightless boy
Hence, to thy den beneath the sunless main!
Nor the holy lay profane,
Thou, whom Poets hail'd of old
Goddess of the cest of gold;
Star that gilds the orient morn;
Of the scepter'd Thunderer born;
And fondly feign'd, that at thy birth
Rapture smil'd on heav'n and earth.
False the tale: some Spirit fell
Bore thee in the depths of hell;
Mother thou of joys impure,
Which thy feeble votaries lure
By treach'rous paths to caves, where lie
Disease and death and infamy.
Hence, with thy distemper'd train,
Fev'rish Youth with madd'ning brain,
Thy zoneless nymphs, thy sightless boy
Charm'd with every tinkling toy;
Debauch, loud roaring o'er the venom'd bowl;
And Fraud; and Sloth that numbs with palsying touch the soul.

But come, thou Angel pure and bright,
Parent of sincere delight,
Daughter of heav'n, CONNUBIAL LOVE!
Thee th' Almighty Sire above
Of old, in mercy to mankind,
Created from his perfect mind,
While stars of morning hail'd the birth;
And Seraphs bore thee to the earth
In triumph from thy native skies,
To dwell with man in Paradise.

Come! with raiment snowy white;
And eyes, that beam with dewy light;
Thy thoughts, as clear as vernal rills,
That sparkling fall from Alpine hills;
Thy breath, as sweet as spicy gales
That blow o'er blest Arabian vales;
And soft, as balmy spring-tide breaks,
The smile that dimples on thy cheeks.

Come! nor leave thy train behind:
Content of heart; and Peace of mind;
Soft Sympathy's delightful tear;
And Sanctity, with brow severe,
Which lawless riot's sons confess;
And "wisdom join'd with simpleness,"
Whom meek and modest joys can please,
Domestic sweets and rural ease.

Ten moons have wan'd, since thee I sought
To visit my sequester'd cot.
Thou cam'st; thou gav'st me ample store
Of bliss; thou bid'st me hope for more.
Behold, I woo thy smile again!
Behold, to thee I pour the strain
In favour of a generous youth!
Now by his soul of guileless truth;
By his gentle manners bland;
His liberal heart; his open hand;
By his ardent piety;
By the zeal he'll prove for thee,
Steadfast to the plighted vow;
Sweet CONNUBIAL LOVE, do thou
On * * cottag'd vale descend,
And bless the dwelling of my friend!

The charm's complete: the lay is done.
See, from realms beyond the sun,
An Angel spotless pure descend,
And seek the dwelling of my friend.
A nymph she leads of noble race,
Ennobled more by mental grace;
And hark, her accents softly flow,
Like dew-drops on the fleece below.

"Take, my Son, from realms above,
Take the gift of NUPTIAL LOVE.
Leaning on her gentle breast,
Her lip with kisses pure carest,
Soon thy heart with joys shall glow,
No unwedded bosoms know.
Fond Attachment, springing thence,
Shall with gentle violence
Forbid thy wayward step to roam,
And hold in golden chain at home.
While every sound, and smell, and sight,
And every source of past delight,
On thy ravish'd sense shall pour
Transport never felt before.

"Thou her willing step shalt bring
To the grove, where linnets sing,
Where the clearest fountains flow,
Where the sweetest violets blow.
Thou with her the hill shalt climb,
Fragrant with the creeping thyme;
And from the breezy summit trace
The valley's many-mingled grace,
Where mid elmy meadows green
Thy roof, my pleasant haunt, is seen.
Seated by her tender side,
Thou her docile hand shalt guide
With mimic pencil to pourtray
Simple nature's landscapes gay:
Or open to her charmed eye
The kindred stores of Poesy,
Dipt in Castalia's chastest dews:
Chief of him, whose saintly Muse
With a seraph's sweetness told
The raptures of that age of gold;
When Eve, my first-born daughter, stray'd
In blooming Eden's palmy shade;
And own'd not all the charms, that heaven
With large and lavish hand had given
To deck her happy rural seat,
Without her wedded partner sweet.

"She meanwhile with thee shall share
The duties of thy past'ral care;
(For well I know thou lov'st to tread,
No stranger guest, the straw-roof'd shed;)
And lend with thee a patient ear
The peasant's simple tale to hear.
She shall round his blazing hearth,
Echoing to the voice of mirth,
Unaccustom'd comforts pour:
Shall train his babes in sacred lore,
And teach their little hands to ply
The task of useful industry:
Shall feed the hungry, and shall spread
Warm fleeces o'er the sick man's bed;
And, when o'erspent and widow'd age
Draws nigh to close its pilgrimage,
With soothing voice and cherub smile
The hours of ling'ring life beguile.

"Nor will she shun with thee to trace
The triumphs of the chosen race,
When th' Egyptian's car-borne pride
O'er the Red sea welter'd wide,
And Gath's huge Champion press'd the field,
By a stripling Shepherd quell'd:
With thee shall bless the arm, that turn'd
Judah's woe, who captive mourn'd
For Sion's hallow'd courts profan'd
By an unbelieving hand;
(What time the stoled Prophet stood
By Chebar or Ulai's flood,
And saw before his tranced gaze
Visions strange of unborn days:)
With thee shall hail from Beth'lem's sky
The day-spring, breaking from on high,
To lighten them that sat beneath
The shadows of the vale of death,
And guide the erring feet to press
The path of peace and holiness.

"Fill'd with the themes, her melting eye
Shall lift thy soul to virtues high:
Her heart, in sweet accord with thine,
Shall bow before the throne divine,
On winged prayers heav'nward borne,
Sweet as the incens'd breath of morn:
And oft her voice shall charm thine ear,
To strings symphonious chaunting clear
Such sounds of high and holy praise,
As the rapt soul to heaven raise;
And such perhaps as heav'nly quires
Hymn to the touch of golden wires.

"These, my Son, thy joys shall be!
These delights I promise thee!
I in health will bless thy bed;
I in sickness calm thine head;
I thy life's aspiring noon
With unreproved pleasures crown,
And with mildly-beaming ray
Gild the evening of thy day."

[pp. 21-31]