1803
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Happy Review.

The Sun (13 April 1803).

F. N.


A pastoral ballad comparing the ages of life to the seasons of the year, part of a series developed out of John Cunningham's "Content, a Pastoral" (1763). This late contribution to the pastoral ballad genre retains little of pastoral save the theme of the seasons, which was, properly speaking, a georgic rather than a pastoral topic, though of course Spenser and Pope had since rendered it such. Compare George Murgatroyd Woodward's "The Hours" originally published in the Diary, or Woodfall's Register (9 November 1789).

The Sun identifies F. N. as Francis Newbury (1743-1818) son and successor of the famous publisher John Newbury (1713-1767).

Headnote: "The following interesting effusion of fancy and feeling is ascribed to the pen of Francis Newbury, Esq."



In my youth I was careless and gay,
Freely joining in pleasure's career;
'Twas the spring-time of life — it was May,
And ne'er thought of the date of the year.

But to vice's allurements not prone,
Busy love whisper'd soft in my ear!
"There's no comfort in living alone,
And pray look to the date of the year."

My fond heart gave assent, beating high,
And acknowledg'd the maid that was dear;
Ready Hymen soon fasten'd the tie—
Ever blest be the date of that year!

Many summers roll'd on full of joy;
Many winters that never were drear;
And oft times a girl or a body
Gave delight to the date of the year.

Bred in harmony, virtue and truth,
Happy faces around me appear;
And the grateful affections of youth
'Prove a balm to the date of the year.

While old friends, full of sense, taste and knowledge
Sweeten life with attachment sincere;
And the stories of school and of college
Seem improv'd from the date of the year.

Thus I've liv'd, till my hair is grown gray,
And still pleasantly move in my sphere;
For December is chearful as May,
And content marks the date of the year.

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