1807
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Suspicion.

Alexandria Daily Advertiser (2 April 1807).

Gavin Turnbull


An allegorical ode signed "G. Turnbull," reprinted in this Virginia newspaper from the Charleston Courier. Gavin Turnbull rather cleverly imitates Collins's Ode to Fear back through its source in Milton's companion poems: "Yes, now I know the monster well: | Suspicion, progeny of hell; | Of Guilt begot, of Danger born, | And nurs'd in Fear's grim cave forlorn: | Away, tormenting fiend, away, | Nor urge with Innocence thy stay!"

This poet published his first volume of poems two decades earlier when he was a young acquaintance of Robert Burns; he later turned comedian before emigrating to America and pursuing his career as an actor in South Carolina. The Port Folio published a Scots poem by Turnbull, "Elegy on my auld Fiddle," the following year. In 1798 a "Gallic Ode" by Turnbull was published in the Philadelphia Minerva 3 (27 January 1798).



Ah! who is yon, with haggard mein,
That lurks in secret place unseen;
Yet from the den where he is pent,
Full many a wary look is sent;
Now every way, with cautious gaze,
The wide extended space surveys,
Looking around with eyes askance,
Then sudden turns with eager glance,
When, hark! he hears the rushing wind
Disturb the rustling leaves behind;
Then down upon the earth, aghast,
In haste his trembling limbs are cast?

Yes, now I know the monster well:
Suspicion, progeny of hell;
Of Guilt begot, of Danger born,
And nurs'd in Fear's grim cave forlorn:
Away, tormenting fiend, away,
Nor urge with Innocence thy stay!
Hence! and in some dreary cell
With the trembling miser dwell;
Feed him with fantastick fears
Of want in his declining years;
Bid each hollow blast that blows
Wake the wretch from short repose,
To snatch his bags, and eager hold
From fancied thieves his idol gold.
Find where, immers'd in tears and sighs,
The half neglected lover lies,
And place full in his tortur'd sight
His fair inconstant all the night:
And to augment his soul's despair,
Place thou his hated rival there;
Let him the willing charmer kiss
And feast in luxury of bliss.

Or find where under midnight skies
Athwart the gloom the murd'rer flies;
Whilst he the stings of conscience feels,
Be thou, fell monster, at his heels;
Possess his madly beating brains
With racks and gibbets, whips and chains;
Let every bush and waving tree
Pursuing bloodhounds seem to be!
Or find the man whose iron sway
Makes the abject prostrate slaves obey,
Who by oppression swells his state,
And in their misery grows great;
Picture some chief whom Justice draws,
Espousing the afflicted's cause,
Aiming the meritorious blow
To lay the ruthless tyrant low!

For me, no wealth I have to keep,
No gold to break my silent sleep,
No faithless maid my fancy warms,
No rival youth my fears alarms,
No blood my guiltless hands hath stain'd,
Oppression's rod I ne'er maintain'd;
Free is my heart and void of fear,
Then come not with thy scorpions here;
Thy foul suggestions hurt not me,
The guilty only harbour thee:
Then hence! tormenting fiend! away!
Nor urge with Innocence thy stay.

[unpaginated]