1771
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral Ballad.

Middlesex Journal (20 July 1771).

Anonymous


Three double-quatrain stanzas, not signed. In this contribution to the series of imitations of Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad, a simple allegory is developed as the speaker goes in search of Content: "I sought him 'mongst crouds, and in each gaudy place, | But those were the Mansions of Care; | In the Palace of Greatness unknown was his face, | Contentment had never been there." The poem was "Set by Mr. Worgan, and sung by Miss Jameson, in Vauxhall-Gardens." This variation of the stanza, with its lines of alternating length, seems to have been invented by John Cunningham, whose "Content, a Pastoral" is adapted (or plagiarized) here. The poem was reprinted in the Oxford Magazine with the word "cottage" altered to "college."

The gender of Content has been changed, presumably because the song was composed for a female voice. The pleasure gardens at Vauxhall must have been a deliciously ironic setting for the sentiments expressed in songs like this.



Attend all ye nymphs and swains of the green,
For you I have rov'd the plains round,
Whole month's I've been prying, and now I have seen,
Where smiling Content's to be found.
Come quickly with me, and I'll show you the way,
To the spot where he chose his retreat;
You must fly from these plains to be easy and gay,
And near him must take up your seat.

I sought him 'mongst crouds, and in each gaudy place,
But those were the Mansions of Care;
In the Palace of Greatness unknown was his face,
Contentment had never been there.
I hied me to roofs that invited to joys,
Hope tempted me thither to rove;
But rude was their wit, and their pleasure was noise,
Tho' they beckon'd to Peace and to Love.

At last, near a brook, to a cottage I stray'd,
With a few simple sheep on the green;
The rose and the woodbine their sweetness display'd,
Not Plenty but Health bless'd the scene.
Good-Nature appear'd, and unhatch'd me the door,
Nor knew what my coming there meant;
How great my surprize! here my search was all o'er,
For he told me his name was Content.

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