1815
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Deserted Village Restored.

The Deserted Village Restored; The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, in three Cantos: Pastorals, &c.

Arthur Parsey


An imitation of Goldsmith's The Deserted Village in which the beauties and virtues of older times are discovered in fair Tempe: "Here Dives lives from pride and envy free, | Whose grounds are open to simplicity; | The swains can there, their mutual love exchange, | And through delightful paths serenely range. | Arcadian times revive" p. 19. Nothing seems to be recorded of Arthur Parsey, who to judge from frequent infelicities of phrase and diction seems to have been an autodidact. In addition to Goldsmith, he was obviously an admirer of Gray, Thomson, and Virgil.

Only occasionally does the Deserted Village Restored paraphrase its original. Thus, in place of Goldsmith's schoolmaster, we have a character of Strap, the village barber: "Familiar, easy, jocular, and plain, | Some smart repart was mingled with his strain; | Convulsing laughter rattled as he spoke, | Which gather'd strength from novelty of joke. | And whispers say his learning lends supply, | For he had read the Roman History: | There at his door, a cluster take their stand, | While one a-time employ his dextrous hand" pp. 12-13.

A note to the curious passage on harvest customs asserts that they are recorded from observation: "The circumstances here detailed are the actual scenes of what they term the village feast, in a small but delightful village in Cambridgeshire" 233n.

Eclectic Review: "Poor Arthur Parsey!" S2 5 (April 1816) 399.



Again sweet Auburn's desolated plains,
From whence Oppression drove her honest swains,
Revives to life! and while I give the view
Muse bid description drop its genial dew.
Ye Mantuan groves, renown'd for song refin'd,
Which, bred in numbers, Maro's youthful mind;
Which taught the bard, while he could scarcely tread,
The Muses' secrets and their fountain head:
Here, in a time remote, transmit thy fire,
My fame arouse, and all my verse inspire.

When the deserted village smil'd in fame,
Its scenes were fair — sweet Auburn was its name.
Now hath its offspring from its ashes sprung,
Beneath a name as mellow to the tongue,
And Tempe, rural, youthful, smiling, gay,
Prefers its pleasures for a pleasing lay.

Scarce any fleeting year o'erpasses man
But some material changes are began;
And, as life lengthens, pleasures, hopes, and pain,
Wind forth their links, and Death completes the chain.
From whence succession elevates her face,
And good or ill supplies the vacant place.
'Twas here Oppression sway'd her heavy hand,
The village bow'd, departing at command;
Each fled from where a Scilla's vengeance frown'd,
A desart springs, and gives its wildness round;
Till other hands assum'd the wish'd-for reign,
And gave inducement to each banish'd swain,
To come once more, and populate the bow'rs,
Which are replanted with the choicest flow'rs;
Who brings each innocent and rural charm,
And raise the cot, and cultivate the farm:
While labour grants its comforts and its pride,
With Britains boast — the jovial fire-side.
Each sire made happy seeks his neat-built cot,
Retires from toil, contented with his lot;
Whose ruddy partner meets him at the door,
Kind takes his tools, and lays them on the floor;
And, with a smile conducts him to the fire,
Where rev'rend age is sat, — the rustic sire;
While ruddy infants clamber round the chair,
Striving to beat, the first caress to share.
The cradled infant hears the father's voice,
And cries (its age's expression to rejoice).

Tempe, sweet offspring of Thessalian charms,
Thy modern grace, the ancient's fame alarms—
Their sports are fled, and age has made them grey,
But thine is youth, and zenith beauties gay.
No traits of age yet wrinkle round thy face—
Where can we glide to catch an awkward grace?
No obvious dissimilitude is thine,
Thy charms are novel, and thy features fine.

Enubilous scen'ry and emphatic spring,
Where health and peace are ever on the wing;
Where lovely airs and sweetly humid rains,
Bless all thy blooms, and bless the happy swains.
Dear, fragrant bow'rs of true delight and ease,
I turn to thee, for thou canst sweetly please;
Thou canst possess, enfold, and rule my heart
In sov'reign sway, and in a lovely part,
And give to living-memory thy charms—
Oh! take me back and fold me to thy arms.
Thy scenes contain sweet intellectual mines,
Colloquial lessons and replete confines;
Warms at my breast, so many charms and rare,
I can but wonder how they enter there;
How art so secret, and so finely laid,
Can pierce the breast, and make superb each shade,
And touch sequacious to a hidden plan,
The secret, deep, immortal part of man.

Though sweet content egregiously I prize,
Uneasy passions will spontaneous rise,
That I debar'd, must shun thy olive charms,
Far from thy groves and thy delightful farms.
And deep regret, from Mem'ry's wakeful store,
Assails my heart, and storms Contentment's door.
Like when an infant of sweet tender years,
To nurse is sent, alas! its infant fears,
Its soul is touch'd, though passion slumbering lies,
And wounded deep, remembers "Ma," and cries.
So oft I look upon thy fost'ring cares,
And vent my sorrow in the Muse's tears.
Sweet living beauties of the country life,
Thy sportive pleasures ev'ry where are rife;
There never-failing Nature lifts her hand,
Whose Cornucopia's charms o'erspread the land;
And plenty falls, and seeds of glory spring,
Which bids the soul admire, exult, and sing.

See you wide prospect drinks the visual ray,
Behold the beauties and the wild display
The deep turn'd valley, and the gentle hill,
The hanging woodland, and the purling rill;
The moss-wove thatch, which makes a rustic show,
The sloping fallow of a russet glow;
The distant church, with gothic beauties spread,
The flint-pickt tower, which elevates its head;
Th' op'ning copse up yonder verdant hill,
Where picturesquely stands the needful mill:
All these conspire with halcyon airs to please,
No ruffling cares are needful to appease;
No murky stenches from a crowded town.
No atmospheres of smoke to beat us down,
No distant murmurs of a carting throng,
Which London, like a cascade, sweeps along;
When round the suburbs of that wondrous scene,
The contemplative feet impress the green.
At eve, when quiet airs should there pervade,
Then noise, low-rushing, breaks the placid shade
And, like a cascade, on a distant shore,
We hear old Thames, through pented arches roar,
And tribes that either side tumultuous line,
All in the distant cascade rush combine.
'Tis not so here — nought checks the sighing gate,
Save thine own plaint, or plaintive nightingale;
And here the soul self wrapt may light peruse,
A myriad voices and invoke the Muse:
A thousand shrubb'ries and a thousand trees,
A thousand voices from th' industrious bees;
A thousand odours from the flow'rets spring,
A thousand songsters on th' obedient wing;
A thousand teints on distant hills arise,
A thousand beauties spread along the skies;
A thousand echoes from the son'rous doom,
A thousand charms, unconscious whence they come;
A thousand fountains springing in the heart,
May wrap the soul, and teach us Natures art.

Tempe 'tis thine to prepossess the soul,
A happy distance from th' Antarctic pole;
No torrid sun pours on thy rustic swains,
Which beat oppressive on th' Amphiscian plains.
Here mild vicissitudes possess the sphere.
And genial changes govern all the year.
Here learns the mind, an evanescent rule,
Where are such lessons as in Nature's school;
For there no masters arbritary reign,
The rules are perfect, and the precepts plain;
The page is turn'd intuitive to view,
The tasks are easy, and delightful too.

How smiles a land, when wealth alone is sway'd,
To grant their population joys from trade;
When the great bend to every noble act,
Who thus descending, nought from pow'r detract;
Who by example teach men not to shrink,
And each bold peasant adds a bolder link;
Who sway'd, like patriots, fem'nine fears deride,
Become at once their country's strength and pride.

From independence rural manners rise,
And rural mirth from slav'ry ever flies,
Seeks other hamlets where a cheerful strain,
Renders hard labour lighter to the swain;
Who, unincumber'd by unwieldy wealth,
Pass all their lives in innocence and health;
Nor large demands from luxury to crave,
To shrink the little which kind Heav'n gave;
Their wants are little, and they ask no more
Than labour's produce and its wholesome store.

No ruthless hand here gripes the acres round,
Each holds his farm, and boasts his yielding ground;
Each tills his land, an independent man,
Secure from innovation or trepan.
Nor sweeping landlord with proscriptions harm,
Wraps land on land, and each contiguous farm;
Nor turns the man that boasts a little land,
With wife and children to the world's bare strand;
But here secure he reaps his scanty store,
Whose wants and learning bids him ask no more;
He ne'er had wealth, he never knew the plague,
Or heard of Indus, or the splendid Hague.
None here embrue their hands in useless gain,
And heap up treasures with a miser's pain,
Who courts but want and strives but to be poor,
And thinks that wealth alone consists in store;
Nor once conceives their good results from use,
But turns this destin'd purpose to abuse;
Gives all but justice to his niggard plan,
Insults his God, and harms his fellow man:
No local virtues fill his phantom'd head,
No hope but gain reposes on his bed;
The mines of Peru, uselessly he'd drain,
And thinks it wealth, to heap and live in vain.
What end have such I'll not pretend to read,
Or where consign'd, when Death bids life recede;
A juster hand ordains us life or gloom,
Whether we lie in turf-bound grave or tomb;
But let me die whenever 'tis decreed,
From av'rice, hate, and poor oppression freed!

On Alpine scenes with precipices hung,
Hath the fond soul with admiration rung,
Whose steep ascents, laborious, to arise,
And needle-summits piercing through the skies;
Have led the heart to grandeur and its train.
But let me wander o'er the russet plain,
Step in some cot, where cleanliness array'd,
Arrests my progress, which is long delay'd.
Where seated in the midst on clean brick floor,
The children, curious peaking, creak the door;
And, if discover'd, and are bid to come,
The big ones push the less into the room.
These artless fancies though they please not all,
Are joys in kind with masquerade or ball;
And, notice taken of this childish art,
Are pleasing moments to the poor man's heart;
Who tells exulting with an humble joy,
Some dormant promises within his boy.

Here foodful commons much assist the poor,
Which half sustains their little thrifty store;
This gen'ral depot shew a rising breed,
Of colts, the aged horses to succeed.
The poor man's pig, the garrulous geese and hens,
A few poor sheep unus'd to genial pens.
And one small boy is seen around to stray,
To watch the farmer's better wealth by day;
Who gathers muck, and which he sells to aid
The scanty pittance for his watching trade.

Yon stands the alehouse with alluring sign,
The door surmounted with the words, "neat wine,"
Where village politicians, weekly led,
Attend to hear the county paper read;
Decide each topic of each tott'ring state.
Which ministers cannot decide, — but fate:
While some one noted for loquacious skill,
Draws ev'ry eye, while ev'ry mouth is still;
Till some idea, inspiring to the cause,
Empties each bumper and creates applause.
Then o'er the way the Barber hath his tide,
Who was apprentic'd at, (they say) — Cheapside.
I know him well, a man of middling sense,
Without the modern buskins of pretence;
Familiar, easy, jocular, and plain,
Some smart repart was mingled with his strain;
Convulsing laughter rattled as he spoke,
Which gather'd strength from novelty of joke.
And whispers say his learning lends supply,
For he had read the Roman History:
There at his door, a cluster take their stand,
While one a-time employ his dextrous hand.
There ev'ry theme is brought in course to view,
The laughter, pun, — and Strap's a punster too.
His plaster'd wall, caricature befit,
Much crowns th' acknowledgment of his wit;
And all the train made spruce and cleanly shav'd,
Retire applauding how he well behav'd.

When worth and virtue undeserv'd sustain
The loss of honour and exalted reign,
Yet thence revives and spread again their bloom,
And in oblivion shakes their fitless gloom.
How glows the heart to see the spotless cause,
Arise, rewarded by the juster laws.
And when from base proscriptions too we see
The rising farm house and the verdant lea;
The busy ploughman fertilize the earth,
Th' active population's innocent mirth,
The meadows lowing harmony resound,
The harvest smiling shake its plenty round;
The great man's habitation daily blest,
The poor his pleasure and his staff of rest;
The whole enchain'd in mutual amity,
(The lineal blessing to posterity).
How springs the heart to see our native soil
Revive again and in luxuriance smile.
Thou blissful village, seat of recreant hours,
Reviv'st again, and glori'st in thy pow'rs;
Thou shalt again behold me on thy lea,
And give thy pleasures and the world to me.

Could moral precept in a tender rhyme
Convey a lesson to restrict each crime;
And hold to view each hideous side of ill,
No gifted pen from henceforth should lie still,
Till each exemplary virtue bright unfurl'd,
Should interpose, — eclipse the pseudo-world.
A species of ingratitude is seen,
Among the biped songsters of the green;
And man with reason, is, alas! not free
From base return, ungrateful apathy.
Along the common's most secluded way,
Approach the pond, stop short, — and there survey,
The parent cuckoo sucks the wagtails eggs,
Who leaves her own among the wat'ry sedges.
The tender wagtail, with paternal care,
Brings forth the young, unconscious whence they are.
I've seen the pair with deep laborious speed
Together bring the pond'rous bird its feed;
Who bulky stands, with prurient, flutt'ring wing,
And gapes for more than joint endeavours bring.
All wet the parents bring devoted flies,
The dainty bird all other food denies;
When grown, the tender parents victims fall,
To base ingratitude, — 'tis radical.
Could man through life, exempt himself from this,
How might the world exult and care dismiss.
One small example of our crimes ('tis few),
Is here exemplified in the cuckoo;
But eye the world, alas! the many springs,
Which demonstrate themselves on tested wings.
The world permits! by custom 'tis decreed,
The heart must shudder, and the victim bleed.

Sweet, lovely village, calm retirement's throne,
Where worlds may cease to trouble, — life thine own.
How blest is he foredoom'd in care to strive,
Who settles here, and learns at last to live;
Quits the wide world, where strong temptations lure,
And learns to soften passions, though not cure,
Gives such bold proofs, that while the pledge is giv'n,
'Tis not to mock the world, tho' seen by Heav'n.
Imploring mis'ry turns not hence in fear,
Bends down the head, and sheds a quiv'ring tear.
Here learns the man to pardon and to shew
A little mercy — 'tis a gem below.
Sweeps many a rugged baffling cheek away,
And smooths the path to heav'n in life's decay;
Gains Angels', Seraphs' pinions for our soul,
Heav'n grants its peace, and mercy crowns the whole.

Short, like its space, are life's enjoyments too,
Which seldom meet the wishes of the view;
Like as a vision brightens to the eye,
On near approach the outlines fade and die.
So 'tis with life; we hope and strive to gain,
Attainment shews, attainment is in vain;
Becomes an antecedent when once gain'd,
And leaves behind yet objects unattain'd.
But country-life affords less hopes and views,
The villager knows nought of worldly shews.
Each morn perpetual brings its labours round,
The scene familiar never brings a wound:
If fortune grant its due support of health,
'Tis all his hopes, and all he knows of wealth;
Heaven but grant his infants prosperous days,
Are all his views, and all for which he prays;
And, if his age beholds his sons fair state,
His joys are crown'd, he bends in love to fate.
Here calm and quietude propugn the man,
Nor vassal he to one as weak and wan;
He lives forsooth as well as times allow,
Nor perfect happy doth his tongue avow;
And, whether philosophic, fool, or what,
He argues not, that this should now be that;
But, easy, willing, industrious, and free,
Takes what is giv'n, and leaves the rest to me.

Here mirth and joy inspiring fills each breast,
When Whitsuntide displays the village feast,
A waggon deck'd is drawn by many a pair
Of happy swains, who, jovial rend the air;
And, one as Phaeton, high commands his whip,
A calf's tail for a thong, the swains to tip;
While one above, in horns, is doom'd in front,
The last one married, to sustain the brunt.
Of all the jest and laughter of the town,
(Or proxy paid) to drive all concern down.
And, at each alehouse, and each richer door,
With merry laughter and a joyous roar,
Is sung, "How gentle John to court did go,
T' inquire, whether he was a witch or no,
The judges smil'd, replied, and kick'd his breech,
He was more like a cuckold than a witch."
A gift is giv'n to crown the yearly task,
To gain October from the aged cask;
And on they move, with much grotesque display,
And mirth and innocence completes the day.

Here Dives lives from pride and envy free,
Whose grounds are open to simplicity;
The swains can there, their mutual love exchange,
And through delightful paths serenely range.
Arcadian times revive, and rural lays
From arbours breathe, and move the tender sprays.
And dying, ceasing, swelling sounds presume,
To fill each air, which myrtle beds perfume;
And vocal hills, with virgin modesty,
In whisp'ring sounds to tuneful lays reply;
And Daphnis, Thisbe, all the shepherd train,
Might here resume their wonted songs again.
And scenes, which golden days alone proclaim,
Might here the groves and all their ease reclaim,
Might sing for bowls, and kids, and tender ewes,
Might weave a garland, or in love carouse;
Might send Augusta lays for times to come,
As far fam'd Mantua did t' imperial Rome.

For more refin'd and deep reflecting minds
The gloomy shrubb'ry and the vista winds.
And here ye poets, never eyes beheld
So sweet a hall, by gath'ring dies propell'd.
Thick woven trees enclose the sublime spot,
And form a wall around the heav'nly grot.
An avenue winds, and through a narrow space
Ye enter panting to the serene vase.
Where gorgeous beauties, circling shrubb'ries share,
Form'd by sweet foilage, which salutes the air;
Lebanon's cedars and fine stately pines,
And yews aspiring through the thick confines.
An awe, a shade, a gloom; no mind conceives,
Embow'rs the seats amid th' umbrageous leaves.
Light's shut around — the horizontal rays
Dart on the shrubs and everlasting bays.
Th' aspin, trembling, shakes its trenuous leaves,
The woodbine too around its smooth trunk cleaves;
A plat of grass o'erspreads the verdant floor,
And ev'ry ray is such we might adore:
Such charms are there so artlessly combin'd,
We leave a ling'ring, wistful look behind.

When Sol meets Vespa from his gorgeous throne,
Invests Atlantia with the Iris zone,
And slants obliquely o'er her furrow'd main,
The glitt'ring beauties of the ethereal plain;
Here rapture comes and walks her festive round,
In deep, eventual, contemplation bound;
And, like a maid, who warmly takes the arm,
The lenient pressure 'wakes the soft alarm:
So here scarce conscious at the happy time,
Of shades profound, intuitive, sublime,
The rays, by glances and by modest falls,
At once inspires and at once enthralls—
Gives to the mind which scarcely seems t' observe,
Terrestial secret and the azure curve.
And Nature bids her secret influence move,
And all the soul is borne on floating love.

These are thy charms, sweet Tempe, and thy art,
Nor shalt thou lessen or thy swains depart;
Nor foul oppression shall thy groves invade,
Nor shall a charm which governs be delay'd;
Nor doom'd to sink a desart plain away,
Nor faded beauties all these ties gainsay;
Nor like a maid, who once in beauty shone,
With all the gems that could her grace adorn;
And then by age, disease, and all her train,
Misfortune too, and writhing jaundic'd pain;
By periods dwindle to the shelt'ring grave,
Nor leave a vestige, but the earth which cave.
Thy vales shall flourish, and thy woodland bloom,
Thy shades shall govern with their pleasing gloom;
Thy walks shall lead full many happy pairs,
Where blushing Flora governs all the airs;
And where Pomona studs the reigning grace,
Far from the scenes of riot and grimace.

Felicity, depends upon the mind
Within ourselves alone the gift we find;
How blest are they which have the pleasing views,
More blest are they which add the virtuous Muse.
From hence each joy elicited to flame,
At once composes and inspires the frame;
Stands as a guide, to bid the heart excel,
And shakes fair numbers at the fiend of hell;
Renders each pleasure immaculate and plain,
Immingles health, and smooths the hour of pain.
Thou Muse immortal! never time shall flee,
Reserv'd to sink but with Eternity:
Then shalt thy ruins of immortal ore,
Bespeak the fabric which thy beauties bore.
While all the arts and fantasies of pride
Shall lay as nought, regardless at thy side;
While thy fair notes, selected from thy choir
Of mortal lays, shall string th' immortal lyre;
And mortals, call'd Immortal hence shall frame,
Not time-bound report, but a vital fame.

[pp. 1-23]