1765
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Uncertainty, an elegiac Ode.

A Select Collection of Poems: with Notes, biographical and historical: and a complete Poetical Index. 8 Vols [John Nichols, ed.]

John Nichols


A lover's complaint in thirteen anapestic quatrains: "Whilst thus you perplexingly please, | Oh! tear the fond thought from my breast! | Restore, lov'd invader, that ease, | Which I once too securely profess'd!" The composer of this pastoral ballad would afterwards gain fame as the editor of the Gentleman's Magazine. The poem, dated "1765," likely made its original appearance in a newspaper.

John Nichols: "Among the poems now exhibited are some valuable originals, and a number of academical verses by some of the most distinguished scholars of this kingdom. — If to these the Editor has added a few of his own juvenile attempts at versification, he hopes to stand excused for the presumption. They are not numerous, and will at least serve as a foil to the beauties with which they are surrounded" 5:iv.

Robert Shelton Mackenzie: "The Gentleman's Magazine, commenced by Edmund Cave, early in the reign of George II., flourishes in that of Victoria, under the editorship of the Rev. John Mitford. For nearly half a century, it was conducted by John Nichols, an able writer on antiquarian subjects. He died in 1828" Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 1:133n.



Thou lenient Disperser of Care,
Thy beautiful blessings impart;
Some glimmerings of comfort prepare,
To relieve an oppression-struck heart.

Yet why should the mandates of Fate
Excite my resentment or blame?
Or how can I charge them with hate,
Since Nancy approves of my flame?

Ah! there lies the source of my grief,
Whence flows every heart-rending sigh,
Which forbids every glimpse of relief
In woes which I wish not to fly!

When blest by her all-chearing smile,
In vain Sorrow sharpens the dart;
Her looks my distresses beguile,
And snatch from Misfortune the smart!

On her whilst enamour'd I gaze,
No raptures with mine can compare;
Each charm I survey with amaze,
'Till plung'd in the depths of Despair.

Whilst thus you perplexingly please,
Oh! tear the fond thought from my breast!
Restore, lov'd invader, that ease,
Which I once too securely profess'd!

Forgive, dearest Nancy, the youth,
Who strove your affections to gain,
If, guided by Honour and Truth,
He gives you a moment of pain!

'Tis Prudence, whose rigid controll
Impels a detested delay,
And guides every wish of the soul,
Which Love would more pleasingly sway!

Ah! why did I wish to inspire
Sensations so tenderly dear?
Or why did your blushes require
What your peace had such reason to fear?

Surcharg'd with unbounded distress,
I sink with its soul-crushing weight;
And, stifled by Love's soft excess,
Reluctantly yield to my fate!

Distraction! — and shall I then yield
From Life's greatest bliss to be torn?
Discretion's no longer a shield
Against griefs too severe to be borne!

No! — I cannot — I will not — resign
The dear hope which shall teach me content!—
A passion so pure, so divine,
For happiness only was meant!

No more shall the mandates of Fate
Excite my resentment or blame:
No longer I'll charge them with hate;
For Nancy approves of my flame!

[8:146-48]