The Progress of Love: in Four Pastoral Ballads. After the Manner of Mr. Shenston.

Poems on various subjects. By William Hawkins, late Professor of Poetry in Oxford.

Rev. William Hawkins of Oxford

Thirty-two double-quatrain stanzas. The Progress of Love is a close imitation of William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad. William Hawkins (who had succeeded Robert Lowth as Poetry Professor at Oxford) displays a notable lack of originality in his imitation, merely substituting a wedding at the end of the narrative. Narrative, as opposed to the pastoral setting, predominates in a poem where the chief interest is in the idea of a "progress": "All lovers attend to my verse, | For lovers my verse will approve, | And smile at the lays that rehearse | The delicate progress of Love" p. 130. The four parts describe Corydon's first sight of Phyllida, his bashfulness, his jealousy of the fop Strephon, and his eventual reconciliation with his lover.

The Progress of Love does not appear with Hawkins's other poems in the second volume of his Miscellanies (1758), though it may have been composed not long after Shenstone's poem was first published in Dodsley's Collection of Poems (1755). Like Shenstone, Hawkins had been a student of Pembroke College Oxford.

European Magazine: "A veteran poet, who near forty years ago was a candidate for poetic favour, has again set criticism at defiance, and at an age when most people relinquish 'this idle trade,' lays claim to a sprig of laurel, which no former effort could obtain for him. Horace says '—mediocribus esse poetis | Non homines, non Di, no concessere columnae' and we would recommend it to the serious consideration of every person who fancies he can entertain the world with verse. When we observe reams of paper blotted with the productions of middling Poets, who never create any other sensation than that of yawning over their performances, we lament the short sightedness of mankind and wonder at their want of discernment. Mr. Hawkins might long ago have learnt from the reception of his former works, that the 'Gods had not made him poetical.' We see many marks of an amiable man in the volume before us, and wish we could add that any ray of genius beams from it. Mediocrity pervades every page, and if the reader receives no disgust, he must be content; he will not find himself affected with any pleasure" 1 (May 1782) 357-58.

Ye Swains that confess the sweet sway
Of Cupid, that pow'r so divine,
And offerings cheerfully pay
At Beauty's all-powerful shrine;
That know what it is to endure,
But know not what 'tis to complain,
Nor wish for your anguish a cure,
And cherish the strong-throbbing pain:

Ye Nymphs who disclaim prudish arts,
Whose bosoms can hold a warm sigh,
Who kindly discover your hearts
By softness that melts in your eye;
That brighten with smiles your fair brows,
When gracefully prest by some youth
Whose conscience warrants his vows
Pour'd all from a fountain of youth.

All lovers attend to my verse,
For lovers my verse will approve,
And smile at the lays that rehearse
The delicate progress of Love.
But hence ye unfeeling begone,
Still bent private ends to pursue;
Ye wordlings will frown on my song;
The subject's too tender for you.

The zephyrs 'gan softly to blow;
The wood's feather'd warblers to sing;
The meads made a beautiful show,
And gay were the daughters of Spring;
When lone thro' the thick-daisied vale
With freedom of fancy I stray'd;
And there (Muse record the fond tale)
There first I beheld the dear maid.

A bevy of damsels so neat
Hard by me came tripping to fair;—
You'd have thought they had wings on their feet—
But O! what a damsel was there!
They tell us of Graces of yore,
And they talk of a Paphian Queen;
But never, believe me, before
So peerless a beauty was seen.

No painter with pencil could trace,
Tho' dipt in the richest of dies,
The sweetness that dwelt in that face,
The brightness that beam'd from those eyes,
No poet, tho' poets they say
Of all your fine writers are best,
Could tell me my heart's feeling that day,
Unless he could read in my breast.

I shall not attempt to recite
The raptures that glow'd in my mind;—
She flew like a bird out of sight,
But left her fair image behind.
My thought was employ'd all the day,
Those charms the delectable theme,
And when on my pillow I lay,
They pleasingly furnish'd my dream.

I rose with the larks of the dale,
Indulging my soft-growing care;
I meant not to go to the vale;—
But wander'd — and found myself there!
I travers'd the lawn to and fro,
I loaded the welkin with sighs;
And this you'll call folly: — but, know,
I wish not again to be wise.

My love had bewilder'd me quite;—
I met an acquaintance of mine,—
He ask'd me the time of the night,—
I told him — the Nymph was divine.
Engagements I made without end,
And broke 'em, tho' ever so new;
For he may be false to his friend,
Who most to his passion is true.

At length to myself thus I said,—
As pensive I rambled one morn,
Oh, could I address the dear maid!
An angel's a stranger to scorn.
My secret I burn to reveal
In language untutor'd by art;—
She'll pity at least what I feel:
I long to unburthen my heart.

One eve of the sweet-breathing May
I first became known to my dear;—
Ye Muses, remember the day,
And name it the prime of the year.
The moments were socially spent;
The time with discourse was beguil'd:
She look'd with a look of content,
And O! how she look'd when she smil'd.

She mark'd my respectful distress;
She construed my half-smother'd sighs:—
The belov'd have a wonderful guess,
And lovers can speak with their eyes.
Methought too she joy'd that sweet night;—
That thought gave anxiety ease;
'Twas transport to yield her delight;
An exquisite pleasure to please.

Acquaintance augmented the fire
That strong in my bosom was blown:
And soon to my eager desire
I met my fair maiden alone.
The birds cheer'd the woodlands with song;
The lilies enamell'd the grove;
The brook softly murmur'd along;
And sure 'twas a season for love.

This, this was the much-sigh'd for hour
My passion at large to display;
Yet now it was full in my pow'r,
In vain I strove something to say.
Of matters insipid I talk'd,
As tho' we'd no business together;
And thrice I observ'd as we walk'd—
"Indeed 'tis most excellent weather!"

Doubts, fears, and an aukward restraint,
Which best our sincerity prove,
Prevented my tender complaint:—
There's not such a coward as love.
Complacent she seem'd all this while;
Myself seem'd like one that was chid:
As tho' there were pride in a smile,
Or sweetness itself cou'd forbid!

I thought I'd take courage next day;—
I met her again in the grove:
But Strephon was now in the way—
A witness is hateful to love.
He was deck'd in his holiday clothes,
Trick'd out like a finical ass:—
I never could bear your trim beaus
That make themselves fine in a glass.

He gave himself many an air
As great as a lord of the land;
Could prattle, and ogle, and swear—
And once he kiss'd Phyllida's hand.—
I saw fancy hope in his eye;
I saw no disdain in her look;—
If Phyllida had not been by,
I'd plung'd his curl'd locks in the brook.

The day I began with delight
I clos'd with a sorrowful breast;
I wish'd from my soul for the night;—
Tho' night could afford me no rest.
Ye mock at such sighs and such groans,
Who never felt Jealousy's smart;
There's not a true lover but owns
No place is so sore as the heart.

All night I lay tossing, perplext
With cares which uncertainties bring;
Now hopeless, now mad to be vext
By such a light fluttering thing.
But Reason in vain lends her aid
Such feelings as these to remove:
Fond lovers are always afraid;
And trifles are torments in love.

The morn spread her blush o'er the plain,
Serene was the region above;
I willfully nourish'd my pain;
I sigh'd, and I stray'd to the grove.
But never let lovers despair,
'Cause sometimes things happen amiss—
For whom should I meet but my fair,—
And O! what a meeting was this.

Her eye such a softness possest,
Her air was so placidly gay,
It scatter'd the cloud from my breast,
As sun-shine enlivens the day.
Reviv'd, I determin'd at last
To act if I could like a man;—
My bosom I felt beating fast;—
I faulter'd, — but thus I began.

Dear Phyllida, list to the strain
Humility pours in your ear:—
Ah! do not despise a poor swain
Who shews you his faith in his fear.
Can we hide, if we would, from the fair
The conquests they make with their eyes?—
Then let me my passion declare,
Who cannot my passion disguise.

'Tis bold an attempting to move
A damsel so matchless as you:—
It may be a folly to love;
It is not a crime to be true.
What tho' with the spruce-powder'd cit
Your Corydon pass for a clown;—
There's much of assurance, and wit,
But little of truth in the town.

My cattle's a plentiful stock;
My barns are well loaded with grain;
And healthy my numerous flock
That white with their fleeces the plain.
But hope I to win thee with these,
Or goods of much value beside?
Ah! no — I've ambition to please,
And only my love is my pride.

I could live with content in a cot
With Phyllida, eas'd of all care;
And bless the contemptible lot
That happily settled us there.
Soft lodg'd in my Phyllida's arms,
My bliss would admit no increase;
Parade for the wife has no charms,
And Plenty is nothing to Peace.

In Phyllida's hand is my fate;
In Phyllida's smile is my joy:
O do not destroy me with hate;—
Such sweetness can never destroy.
Forgive, if you cannot be kind,
And constant for ever I'll be;
If I'm not the man to your mind,
The world has no woman for me.

I paus'd, and I bow'd most profound;—
Her soft hand I tremblingly prest;—
She cast her fair eyes on the ground;
A sigh seem'd to 'scape from her breast.
Then, blushing, she mildly replied,
Here Corydon cease the fond strain,
By Strephon thy truth have I tried;—
To-morrow I'll meet you again.

What tongue can the pleasure express,
The transport expanding the mind,
When lovers foresee their success,
And nymphs grow insensibly kind?
Embolden'd my joys to pursue,
My courtship I daily renew'd;
And oh! how delightful to woo,
When Phyllida wish'd to be woo'd!

Come — say, can you faithfully count
The waves that incessantly roar:
Or tell me precise the amount
Of pebbles that garnish the shore?
O then you'll exactly recite
The raptures fond Gratitude shews,
When, blest in is mistress's sight,
The heart of a swain overflows.

The linnets have tunable throats;
And larks that soar over the hill;
And sweetly the nightingale's notes
The meadows with melody fill:
But vain are these voices to cheer,
And pow'rless that music to move,
To the sound that enchanted my ear—
When Phyllida whisper'd — I love.

One favour I yet had to seek,
And that was to make her my bride;—
I ask'd, — and the blush in her cheek
With softness bewitching comply'd.
My heart had no more to pursue;
Love's task became innocent play;
And Corydon nought had to do
But wish a long fortnight away.

At length came the morning so bright,
Sure never a brighter could shine,
Which gave me my soul's first delight,
And made my dear Phyllida mine.—
May time to our mutual content
The blessings of wedlock improve;
And friendship the union cement
We sweetly contracted in love.

[pp. 129-44]