Ode to Apathy.

The Florence Miscellany.

Bertie Greatheed

Bertie Greatheed, like the other Della Cruscans, a political liberal, deplores the state of politics in Italy: "O! would the sons of Italy arise, | And shake the leaden slumbers from their eyes, | Gaze on their fertile plains by nature blest, | And rouse the latent fire that warm'd their breast" p. 130. The structure of this blank-verse ode is modeled on the odes Milton and Collins. The image of Apathy, "In sluggish car by tortoise drawn" verges on burlesque. Mary Robinson also composed an Ode to Apathy, included in her Poetical Works, 3 vols (1806).

Samuel Austin Allibone: "Bertie Greatheed, d. 1804, an amateur artist [confusing the poet with his son of the same name], was one of the contributors to the Florence Miscellany ridiculed by William Gifford in his Baviad. Gifford styles Greatheed the 'deep-mouthed Theban'" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 1:730.

W. J. Courthope: "The New Whig taste, formed out of this curious medley of contemporary sentiment, traditional culture, conversation in the salon, and criticism in the literary Review, began to exhibit its influence on the eve of the French Revolution. Perhaps its earliest monument is to be found in the poetry of the Della Cruscan school; but more respectable results were soon produced in the higher sphere of literature; and the various tendencies of the transition from Classic to Romantic mannerism are characteristically reflected in the work of the three poets [Samuel Rogers, Thomas Campbell, and Thomas Moore]" History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 6:94-95.

Accurs'd be dull, lethargic APATHY!
Whether at eve she listless ride
In sluggish car by tortoise drawn
Or at the orient blush of dawn,
Enwrap her brow with ling'ring clouds of night:
With mimic air of senseless pride,
She feebly throws on all her with'ring sight,
While, too observant of her sway,
Unmark'd the droning subjects lie,
Alike to her who murmur or obey.

Ye midnight storms that dwell
In dreary alpine cell,
Rush from your chill abode in frozen band,
Pierce the soft Tyrant with your breath,
And bid her feel at least the icy pang of death:
Or amidst Afric's sultry sand
Drive her the ray intense to meet;
There fix her solitary seat,
There let her opiate sceptre wave,
To curb the bloody tiger's ire,
Or damp the fell hyena's fire,
And from the hungry rage the shrieking trav'ler save.

O! would the sons of Italy arise,
And shake the leaden slumbers from their eyes,
Gaze on their fertile plains by nature blest,
And rouse the latent fire that warm'd their breast,
That dauntless energy of soul,
Which sav'd the tort'ring Capitol,
When on Tarpeian height, with glory's crown,
Brave Manlius stood,
And hurl'd indignant decads down,
And redden'd Tiber's flood.

To calm the factious rage that tore
Each Guelph, and Ghibelline of yore,
Must they be lull'd in such repose
As manly vigor never knows;
Retire from martial fame, from glorious strife,
And shun the busy scenes of life,
To waste with thee, O Apathy! their days,
Heedless of right, or wrong, of censure, or of praise?

No, let them now the proper medium find;
And prove to all mankind,
That virtue still can charm the present hour,
Not less admir'd, nor dear,
Than when pale Cataline felt Tully's pow'r,
And violating Appius learn'd to fear;
So radiant Glory's beams divine
Shall once again transcendent shine
On this proud land of old renown'd,
Which Apennines divide, and Alps and seas surround.

[pp. 129-31]