1771
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Farewell. A Pastoral Ballad. In imitation of Shenstone.

A Familiar Epistle from a Student of the Middle Temple, London, to his Friend in Dublin. Written in the year 1759.

Thomas Spring


A lawyer's complaint in ten double-quatrain stanzas, after Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad. Thoms Spring, who write anonymously, bids farewell to familiar places and old friends at Mallow (County Cork), departing "For Dissonance, Wrangling, and Noise; | For the City's dull uniform Scene" — to the Middle Temple, perhaps, where Spring was a student in 1759. Among the rural pleasures he catalogues is reading the poets: "At the foot of an elm, or a lime, | How oft have I stretch'd me along, | Enchanted with COLLINS'S rhyme, | Or AKENSIDE'S rapture of song!" The reference to William Collins's poems likely dates the poem to sometime after 1763, when the odes were republished. Spring afterwards practiced law in Ireland.

Author's note: "A very incorrect copy of this ballad having stolen into print, the writer, not being willing to answer for any nonsense but his own, begs leave to offer it to the Public in its less imperfect form" 53n.

Might Thomas Spring be the author of Four Pastorals ... By T. S. Esq; of the Middle Temple (1768)?



O MALLOW, dear MALLOW, adieu!—
How oft have I walk'd by thy spring,
While the trees were yet dropping with dew,
Ere the lark his shrill matin did sing!
How often at noon have I stray'd,
By the streamlet that winds through thy vale!
How oft, at still eve, on thy mead,
The soft breeze have I joy'd to inhale!

O'er thy green hills high-bosom'd in wood,
O'er thy sweetly diversified ground,
How oft, as my walk I pursued,
Have I gaz'd in wild transport around?
Invoking the powers that preside
O'er the stream, o'er the grove, or the hill,
With their presence my fancy to guide,
With their fire my rapt bosom to fill.

On a rock hanging over the flood
Through the wild glen meandering slow,
Half-frighted, how oft have I stood
To pore on the mirror below!
To see in the breast of the wave
The glen, and the rock, and the sky,
How bright the reflection it gave!
How pleas'd, — how delighted was I!

At the foot of an elm, or a lime,
How oft have I stretch'd me along,
Enchanted with COLLINS'S rhyme,
Or AKENSIDE'S rapture of song!
How oft too, as accident led
Through the church-yard path's fear-stirring ground,
Busy fancy has call'd up the dead
To glide in dread vision around!

These sweet walks, this soft quiet, and all
Those blameless, those rational joys,
Must I quit for the buzz of the Hall,
For dissonance, wrangling, and noise;
For the City's dull uniform scene,
Where jobbing, and party, and strife,
Dissipation, and languor, and pain,
Fill up the whole circle of life.

"The language, which flows from the heart,"
In SUSAN, in MARY, and BESS,
How exchang'd for the polish of art,
Smooth nonsense, and empty address!
The painting, which Nature bestows
On the village-maid's innocent cheek,
'Mid the birth-night's fantastical rows
How lost were the labour to seek!

Yet oft shall fond Memory anew
Present each lov'd scene to my eye,
And with painful enjoyment review
The delights — that too hastily fly:
Through all the sweet landscape around,
Not a stream, not a rock, or a tree,
Not a field-flower nor shrub shall be found
Unmark'd or unhonour'd by me.

And ye, my companions so dear,—
What words my deep anguish can tell?—
Receive for a witness this tear
How it pains me to bid you farewell:
Ye too — for I read in your eyes—
The emotions that swell at your heart
Ye have not yet learned to disguise—
"Ye are sorry to see me depart."

Sweet seat of contentment and ease,
Where Rest her still Sabbath may keep;
Where all may live just as they please,
Eat, drink, read, laugh, saunter, or sleep:
The next spring may new-brighten thy scene,
And thy leaves and thy blossoms restore—
But — bring the lov'd circle again,
Or the landscape will charm me no more.

Sweet commerce of unison minds!—
A treasure how rarely possest!
How seldom through life the heart finds
This joy that gives worth to the rest!—
But — hark! — 'tis the chaise at the door—
My mare is already in view—
Alas! — I have time for no more—
O MALLOW, dear MALLOW, adieu!

[pp. 53-57]