1799
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Indolence.

Annual Anthology. Volume I. [Robert Southey, ed.]

Rev. John Proctor


Eleven (later ten) three-line, blank verse stanzas signed "R." In 1808 the Monthly Magazine published a different version of this ode titled An Ode, upon Indolence, under the signature, "Rev. John Proctor, late of Trinity Hall, College, Cambridge." The poem is one of the many allegorical odes imitating William Collins (the stanza is a diminished version of that in Ode to Evening). The shape of the ode, constrasting Indolence with Leisure, derives from the L'Allegro-Il Penseroso series, while the topic of Indolence adds to the sequence derived from James Thomson's Castle of Indolence.

John Ferriar: "This is another ode in blank verse; its greates peculiarity is that, notwithstanding the title, it appears about the middle of the poem that it is not addressed to Indolence, but to 'her sister Leisure.' This is quite a new way of writinng, but we observe nothing else remarkable in the composition" Monthly Review NS 31 (April 1800) 360.

Lady's Monthly Museum: "That there are some very ordinary verses in this volume cannot be denied, but that the number is not greater, is, doubtless, more surprizing. And though the names of Beddoes, Southey, Lloyd, and others, were enough to sanction it from all censure. But, in truth, it discloses much anonymous excellence; and whoever appreciates the present character of British Poetry by the specimen here exhibited, cannot think of it meanly. Our young readers may reap, from the whole, a great deal of innocent amusement; and the moralities it occasionally inculcates, may contribute somewhat both to better their hearts, and refine their sentiments" 3 (November 1799) 402.

Venn and Venn, Alum. Cantab. list only one John Proctor at Cambridge, admitted sizar of Trinity Hall, 21 March 1783.



I do not woo thy presence, INDOLENCE!
Goddess, I would not rank
A vot'ry in thy train.

I do not ask to wear thy fett'ring flowers,
O thou on whose cold lips
Faint plays the heartless smile!

Pale, sickly as the unkindly shaded fruit,
Thy languid cheek displays
No sunny hues of health;

There is no radiance in thy listless eye,
No active joy that fires
Its sudden glance with life.

I do not wish upon thy downy couch,
As in a conscious dream,
To doze away the hours,

But, to thy sister LEISURE I would pour
The supplicating prayer,
And woo her air benign:

Nymph, on whose sunny cheek, the hue of health
Blooms like the ruddy fruit
Matur'd by Southern rays;

Whose eye beam sparkles to the speaking heart,
Like the reflected noon
Quick glancing on the waves.

Her would I pray that not for ever thus
The ungentle voice of toil
Might claim my daily task.

So should my hand a votive temple rear,
Through many a distant age,
That undestroy'd should stand.

Long should the stately monument proclaim
That no ungrateful heart,
Goddess! received thy boon.

[pp. 126-28]