A political pastoral set in the famous allegorical gardens at Stowe. "The Gentle Shepherd" is the sobriquet Pitt had bestowed on George Grenville (1712-1770) who had been lord of the treasury and chancellor of the Exchequer (1763-65). In the poem he laments the difficulties his Stamp Tax was facing; he was being challenged by Pitt and the Rockingham Whigs, as well as being burned in effigy in Boston and New York. In this context appears the line which Pope had borrowed from Spenser: "Ye stubborn York, ye fierce New-England crew, | Free from Excise, but not from Customs too, | To you I mourn, nor to the deaf I sing, | Your woods shall answer, and your cities ring." The poem, printed in parallel columns with the source, is not signed.
Among the characters mentioned in the poem are "Jemmy Twitcher," John Montagu, fourth earl of Sandwich (1718-1792), and "Anti-Sejanus," James Scott (1733-1814) whose allegorical odes (1761) had received a good deal of attention before this clerical poet cast his lot as a political writer.
A Gentle Shepherd (that's he proper Name)
Retir'd to Stow, far distant from the Thame;
Where dancing Fishes in the Bason play'd,
And crowded Columns form'd a Marble Shade:
There, while he mourn'd by Streams that never flow,
The Statues round a dumb Compassion show;
The Worthies list'ned in each sculptur'd Hall;
My Lord, consenting, sat and heard it all.
Ye stubborn York, ye fierce New-England Crew,
Free from Excise, but not from Customs too,
To you I mourn, nor to the Deaf I sing,
Your Woods shall answer, and your Cities ring.
Quebec and Georgia my Stamp Duties pay;
Why are you prouder, and more hard then they?
The gay Creoles with my new Tax agree,
They parch'd by Heat, and I inflam'd by thee;
The sultry Sirius burns their Sugar-Canes,
While in thy Heart a wholesome Winter reigns.
Where stray ye, Members, in what Lane or Grove,
While to enforce the Act I hopeless move?
In those fair Rooms, where Royal G— resides,
Or where the Cockpit's ample Hall divides,
As in the gilded Sconce I view my Face,
No rising Blushes stain the faithful Glass;
But since my Figure pleases there no more,
I shun the Levee which I sought before.
Once I was skill'd in ev'ry Fund that went
From India Bonds to humble Cent. per Cent.
Ah, Gentle Shepherd, what avails thy Skill
To frame a Tax for D—w—ll to repeal?
Let —, proud, preside at C—l B—d,
Or wily H—l—d still desire to hoard;
But in the Treasury let me spend my Days,
And load the sinking Fund a thousand Ways.
That Wand was mine, which B—, with parting Breath,
Into my Hands, resigning, did bequeath:
He said, G— G—v—le, take this Rod, the same
That to the Cyder Counties taught my Name;
But R—k—m may sway the Wand for me,
Since I'm despised and disgrac'd by thee.
Oh! were I made by some transforming Pow'r,
The smooth-tongued P— that speaks in yonder Bow'r,
Then might my Voice the list'ning Ears employ,
And I the Pension he receives enjoy.
And yet my Speeches pleas'd the Tory Throng,
Rough R—gby grinn'd, and N—t—n prais'd my Song;
The Cits, while Bow Church Bells forgot to ring,
In milk-white Wings, their kind Addresses bring.
But their Addresses are preferr'd in vain,
On P—t their Thanks are now preferr'd again;
For him the richest Boxes are design'd,
And in one Parchment all their Freedoms join'd.
Accept their Wreaths, allow your Partners none,
Claim all their Praise, as due to you alone.
See what strange Things in the Repeal appear;
Discordant Earl have form'd an Union here:
In opposition B— and T—p—e join,
And wicked Twitcher with good W—b—t—n.
Come, matchless Jemmy! bless the cool Retreats,
When Peers, from voting, quit their scarlet Seats:
When weary Commons leave the sultry Town,
And drown'd with Debts, to finger Rents go down.
This harmless Grove no lurking Bailiff hides,
But in my Breast the Serpent Rage abides.
Oh, how I long with you to pass my Days,
Drink our own Healths, and sound each other's Praise;
Your Praise the Press shall bear thro' all the Town,
And Evening Posts from London waft it down:
But would you write, and rival Anti's Strain,
The wond'ring Mob his Lies would read again;
The moving Carman hear the pow'rful Call,
And Pots of Beer hang list'ning in their Fall.
But see, the Ladies shun the noon-tide Air,
And hungry Lords to Dinner fast repair:
At Table all to Places fix'd Resort—
Ye, Gods, and is there then no Place at Court?
But soon the Sun with milder Rays descends
To western Climes, where my Stamp Duty ends:
On my poor Effigy their Furies prey,
By Night they burn me, as they hang by Day.