1775
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Month of April.

Poetical Amusements at a Villa near Bath. [Lady Anne Miller, ed.]

Coplestone Warre Bampfylde


A descriptive ode after Milton's L'Allegro and Penseroso signed "C. W. B—f—ld, Esq.' The poet presents April as a changeable season: "But hide, oh! hide thy brow severe, | Stern remnant of past seasons drear! | The bleak east wind, the rattling hail, | That sweeping down th' affrighted dale, | Blight the young king-cups in their bed, | And bruise the early cowslip's head" p. 48. C. W. Bampfyld was a friend of William Shenstone and Richard Graves who obtained some reputation as a gardener and landscape painter.

Gentleman's Magazine: "The profits of this publication are destined to the assistance of the pauper scheme, a most deserving and important establishment at Bath, by which advice and medicines are yearly administered gratis to more than 1200 of the industrious poor. The writers whose names we can decipher, are the Hon. Mrs. Phipps, J. Miller, Esq; and Mrs. Miller (the institutress), the Marquiss of Carmarthen, George PItt, Esq; Sir Charles Sedley, the Duchess of Northumberland, Lord Viscount Palmerston, Mons. du Toms, Mrs. Laroche, Edw. Drax, Esq; Admmiral Keppel, Hans Stanley, Esq; Rev. Mr. Jenner, Hon. Master Fielding (11 years old), C. W. Bampfylde, Esq; George Ogle, Esq; Miss Burgess (10 years old), Rev. Mr. Greaves, Hon. Mrs. Greville, and Master Schomberg (16 years old). Among these, not to detract from the merit of any, the compositions of Lord Palmerston seem to us distinguishable excellent" 45 (March 1775) 136.

Samuel Johnson: "Lady Miller's collection of verses by fashionable people, which were put into her Vase at Batheaston villa, near Bath, in competition for honorary prizes, being mentioned, he held them very cheap: 'Bouts rimes, (said he,) is a mere conceit, and an old conceit now; I wonder how people were persuaded to write in that manner for this lady.' I named a gentleman of his acquaintance who wrote for the Vase. JOHNSON: 'He was a blockhead for his pains.' BOSWELL. 'The Duchess of Northumberland wrote.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, the Duchess of Northumberland may do what she pleases: nobody will say any thing to a lady of her high rank. But I should be apt to throw *****'s verses in his face'" in Life of Johnson, ed. G. B. Hill (1891) 2:385-86.



Come, April, month of various kinds,
With Summer's sun, and Winter's winds,
Whose varied clime, and lengthen'd day,
Blend flow'ry March with blooming May;
Capricious month! who oft can shew
A vi'let in a bed of snow,
Mourning its wasted ill-plac'd charms,
Like beauteous youth in age's arms.

Come, — but preserve thy softer grace,
And wear thy younger spring-time face;
Such as, in mild Arcadian bowers,
The shepherds view thee crown'd with flowers;
When many a youthful swain is seen
Weaving gay chaplets on the green,
To deck the nymph, whose laughing eye,
In dalliance mocks his tender sigh;
Though pleas'd to see his constant flame,
Come Spring, come Winter, still the same.

But hide, oh! hide thy brow severe,
Stern remnant of past seasons drear!
The bleak east wind, the rattling hail,
That sweeping down th' affrighted dale,
Blight the young king-cups in their bed,
And bruise the early cowslip's head;
Whilst the young swallow's eager haste
Is check'd by many a wintry blast,
Who mourns the treach'rous smiles of Spring,
And, drooping, hangs her lifeless wing.

Alas, poor bird! thy source of woe
The giant sons of reason know;
Their brightest prospects as thy rise
Are clouded o'er like April skies:
And Hope, whose sweetly-tempting ray
First led them, on their vent'rous way,
Leaves them, dejected and forlorn,
To lose the rose, and grasp the thorn.
Fate's adverse storms that gather round,
Deforming all their fairest ground,
Prove the sad maxim but too true,
That they, alas! as well as you,
Trusting too far an April sun,
Droop, disappointed and undone.

[pp. 47-49]