1760
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Decline of Autumn.

Christian's Magazine; or, A Treasury of Divine Knowledge 1 (September1760) 231-32.

William Woty


Five double-quatrain stanzas signed "W. Woty." In this poem Woty shifts to the georgic register, describing the change of the seasons and adding additional syllables to the number found in Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad. Woty takes exception to hunting (a georgic topic) and shifts back to the pastoral mode: "To others such barbarous sports I resign, | And fly to my Florimel's arms; | Her sanctified love shall be totally mine; | For virtue adds force to her charms" p. 232. While I have not collected them, there seems to have been a series of hunting songs in this long-lined quatrain published in eighteenth-century newspapers. Woty was the chief prop of the poetry column in the Christian's Magazine.

Thomas Babington Macaulay: "It was during the thirty years which preceded the appearance of Johnson's Lives, that the diction and versification of English poetry were, in the sense in which the word is commonly used, most correct. Those thirty years form the most deplorable part of our literary history. They have bequeathed to us scarcely any poetry which deserves to be remembered. Two or three hundred lines of Gray, twice as many of Goldsmith, a few stanzas of Beattie and Collins, a few strophes of Mason, and a few clever prologues and satires, were the masterpieces of this age of consummate excellence. They may all be printed in one volume, and that volume would be by no means a volume of extraordinary merit. It would contain no poetry of the highest class, and little which could be placed very high in the second class. The Paradise Regained, or Comus, would outweigh it all" Edinburgh Review 53 (June 1831) 559-60.



The bosom of earth is all matted with leaves,
The honours of Autumn decay;
Brown Ceres no longer exhibits her sheaves
To the golden ey'd monarch of day.
With dissonant guns, hills and vallies resound,
The swains thro' the coppices rove;
The partridges bleed on the arable ground,
The pheasants lie dead in the grove.

The coats of the hedges look languidly green,
The swallows relinquish the meads,
Rude winter approaches with horrible mien,
The flowers give place to the weeds.
The sun too is lazy, and slumbers a bed,
As loathing so early to rise:
When risen, how dim looks his vapoury head!
How faint he illumines the skies!

No more on the poles hang the clustering hops,
Or form a magnificent shade;
No more on their skirts shine the showery drops,
For Autumn, their nurse, is decay'd.
The gale, that was wont to approach me so kind,
Grows sharp, and flies hastily by,
To give me sweet kisses no longer inclin'd,
It bids the tear start from my eye.

O see, while I speak, from the gun's level'd aim
Death pierces the birds of the air!
Ye rovers! will nothing your conduct reclaim,
And move your hard bosoms to spare?
No, nothing — ye cry with unanimous voice,
While ridicule falls from your tongue,
Ye think not, ye cruel ones, as ye rejoice,
How once the poor innocents sung!

To others such barbarous sports I resign,
And fly to my Florimel's arms;
Her sanctified love shall be totally mine;
For virtue adds force to her charms.
On the base of religion, my fair, may it rise!
To crown us with blessing 'twas giv'n,
To bid our souls mount from the earth to the skies,
And give us a foretaste of heav'n.

[pp. 231-32]