« VorigeDoorgaan »
Oh vain to seek delight in earthly thing!
See in each sprite some various bent appear!
In pastry kings and queens the allotted mite to spend.
Admired Salopia! that with venial pride
A Pastoral Ballad, in Four Parts-1743.
Ye shepherds, so cheerful and gay,
Nor talk of the change that ye find;
I have left my dear Phyllis behind. Now I know what it is to have strove
With the torture of doubt and desire; What it is to admire and to love,
And to leave her we love and admire.
I have bade my dear Phyllis farewell.
I prized every hour that went by,
And I grieve that I prized them no more.
But why do I languish in vain ?
Why wander thus pensively here? Oh! why did I come from the plain, Where I fed on the smiles of my dear? They tell me my favourite maid,
The pride of that valley, is flown; Alas! where with her I have strayed, I could wander with pleasure alone. When forced the fair nymph to forego, What anguish I felt at my heart! Yet I thought-but it might not be so"Twas with pain that she saw me depart. She gazed as I slowly withdrew,
My path I could hardly discern; So sweetly she bade me adieu,
I thought that she bade me return.
The pilgrim that journies all day
Is happy, nor heard to repine.
And my solace, wherever I go.
My banks they are furnished with bees,
And my hills are white over with sheep. I seldom have met with a loss,
Such health do my fountains bestow;
Not a pine in my grove is there seen,
But a sweetbrier entwines it around.
One would think she might like to retire
To prune the wild branches away.
From the plains, from the woodlands, and groves,
As-she may not be fond to resign.
I have found out a gift for my fair,
I have found where the wood-pigeons breed; But let me that plunder forbear,
She will say, 'twas a barbarous deed.
I have heard her with sweetness unfold
But her words such a pleasure convey,
Can a bosom so gentle remain
Unmoved, when her Corydon sighs? Will a nymph that is fond of the plain, These plains and this valley despise ? Dear regions of silence and shade!
Soft scenes of contentment and ease! Where could have pleasingly strayed, If aught in her absence could please.
But where does my Phyllida stray?
And where are her grots and her bowers? Are the groves and the valleys as gay,
And the shepherds as gentle as ours? The groves may perhaps be as fair,
And the face of the valleys as fine; The swains may in manners compare, But their love is not equal to mine.
Why will you my passion reprove?
O you that have been of her train,
That will sing but a song in her praise.
For when Paridel tries in the dance
Might she ruin the peace of my mind!
And his crook is bestudded around; And his pipe-oh my Phyllis, beware Of a magic there is in the sound.
'Tis his with mock passion to glow,
'Tis his in smooth tales to unfold
To the grove or the garden he strays,
More sweet than the jessamine's flower!
Then the lily no longer is white,
Then the rose is deprived of its bloom, Then the violets die with despite,
And the woodbines give up their perfume.' Thus glide the soft numbers along,
And he fancies no shepherd his peer; Yet I never should envy the song, Were not Phyllis to lend it an ear.
Let his crook be with hyacinths bound,
Ye shepherds, give ear to my lay,
She was fair, and my passion begun;
Perhaps it was plain to foresee,
That a nymph so complete would be sought
She is faithless, and I am undone;
Ye that witness the woes I endure,
Amid nymphs of a higher degree:
How fair and how fickle they be.
Alas! from the day that we met,
What hope of an end to my woes? When I cannot endure to forget
The glance that undid my repose. Yet time may diminish the pain:
The flower, and the shrub, and the tree, Which I reared for her pleasure in vain, In time may have comfort for me.
The sweets of a dew-sprinkled rose,
The sound of a murmuring stream, The peace which from solitude flows,
Henceforth shall be Corydon's theme. High transports are shown to the sight, But we are not to find them our own; Fate never bestowed such delight,
As I with my Phyllis had known.
O ye woods, spread your branches apace;
I would hide with the beasts of the chase;
Yet my reed shall resound through the grove
Come listen to my mournful tale,
* Captain James Dawson, the amiable and unfortunate subject of these stanzas, was one of the eight officers belonging to the Manchester regiment of volunteers, in the service of the young chevalier, who were hanged, drawn, and quartered, on Kennington-Common in 1746.
And thou, dear Kitty, peerless maid,
A brighter never trod the plain;
Of gentle blood the damsel came : And faultless was her beauteous form, And spotless was her virgin fame. But curse on party's hateful strife, That led the favoured youth astray; The day the rebel clans appeared,
O had he never seen that day! Their colours and their sash he wore, And in the fatal dress was found; And now he must that death endure,
Which gives the brave the keenest wound. How pale was then his true love's cheek, When Jemmy's sentence reached her ear! For never yet did Alpine snows
So pale or yet so chill appear.
With faltering voice she weeping said,
Yet might sweet mercy find a place,
Should learn to lisp the giver's name.
But though, dear youth, thou shouldst be dragged
Which she had fondly loved so long;
On which her love-sick head reposed:
She bore this constant heart to see; But when 'twas mouldered into dust, she cried, I follow thee.
My death, my death alone can show The pure and lasting love I bore: Accept, O Heaven! of woes like ours, And let us, let us weep no more.
The dismal scene was o'er and past,
The lover's mournful hearse retired; The maid drew back her languid head, And, sighing forth his name, expired. Though justice ever must prevail,
The tear my Kitty sheds is due ;
[Written at an Inn at Henley.]
To thee, fair Freedom, I retire
I fly from pomp, I fly from plate,
And choose my lodgings at an inn.
Which lackeys else might hope to win; It buys what courts have not in store, It buys me freedom at an inn. Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round, Where'er his stages may have been, May sigh to think he still has found The warmest welcome at an inn.
DAVID MALLET, author of some beautiful ballad stanzas, and some florid unimpassioned poems in blank verse, was a successful but unprincipled literary adventurer. He praised and courted Pope while living, and, after experiencing his kindness, traduced his memory when dead. He earned a disgraceful pension by contributing to the death of a brave naval officer, Admiral Byng, who fell a victim to the clamour of faction; and by various other acts of his life, he evinced that self-aggrandisement was his only steady and ruling passion. When Johnson, therefore, states that Mallet was the only Scot whom Scotchmen did not commend. he pays a compliment to the virtue and integrity of the natives of Scotland. The original name of the poet was Malloch, which, after his removal to London, and his intimacy with the great, he changed to Mallet, as more easily pronounced by the English. His father kept a small inn at Crieff, Perthshire, where David was born about the year 1700. He attended Aberdeen college, and was afterwards received, though without salary, as tutor in the family of Mr Home of Dreghorn, near Edinburgh. He next obtained a similar situation, but with a salary of £30 per annum, in the family of the Duke of Montrose. In 1723, he went to London with the duke's family, and next year his ballad of William and Margaret appeared in Hill's periodical, The Plain Dealer. He soon numbered among his friends Young, Pope, and other eminent persons, to whom his assiduous attentions, his agreeable manners, and literary taste, rendered his society acceptable. In 1733 he published a satire on Bentley, inscribed to Pope, entitled Verbal Criticism, in which he characterises the venerable scholar as
In error obstinate, in wrangling loud,
Mallet was appointed under secretary to the Prince of Wales, with a salary of £200 per annum; and, in conjunction with Thomson, he produced, in 1740, the Masque of Alfred, in honour of the birth-day of the Princess Augusta. A fortunate second marriage (nothing is known of his first) brought to the poet a fortune of £10,000. The lady was daughter of Lord Carlisle's steward. Both Mallet and his wife professed to be deists, and the lady is said to have surprised some of her friends by commencing her arguments with-Sir, we deists.' When Gibbon the historian was dismissed from his college at Oxford for embracing popery, he took refuge in Mallet's house, and was rather scandalised, he says, than reclaimed, by the philosophy of his host. Wilkes mentions that the vain and fantastic wife of Mallet one day lamented to a lady that her husband suffered in reputation by his name being so often confounded with that of Smollett; the lady wittily answered, Madam, there is a short remedy; let your husband keep his own name.' To gratify Lord Bolingbroke, Mallet, in his preface to the Patriot King, heaped abuse on the memory of Pope, and Bolingbroke rewarded him by bequeathing to him the whole of his works and manuscripts. When the government became unpopular by the defeat at Minorca, he was employed to defend them, and under the signature of a Plain Man, he published an address imputing cowardice to the admiral of the fleet. He succeeded: Byng was shot, and Mallet was pensioned. On the death of the Duchess of Marlborough, it was found that she had left £1000 to Glover, author of Leonidas,' and Mallet, jointly, on condition that they should draw up from the family papers a life of the great duke. Glover, indignant at a stipulation in the will, that the memoir was to be submitted before publication to the Earl of Chesterfield, and being a high-spirited man, devolved the whole on Mallet, who also received a pension from the second Duke of Marlborough, to stimulate his industry. He pretended to be busy with the work, and in the dedication to a small collection of his poems published in 1762, he stated that he hoped soon to present his grace with something more solid in the life of the first Duke of Marlborough. Mallet had received the solid money, and cared for nothing else. On his death, it was found that not a single line of the memoir had been written. In his latter days the poet held the lucrative situation of Keeper of the Book of Entries for the port of London. He died April 21, 1765.
Mallet wrote some theatrical pieces, which, though partially successful on their representation, are now utterly forgotten. Gibbon anticipated, that, if ever his friend should attain poetic fame, it would be acquired by his poem of Amyntor and Theodora. This, the longest of his poetical works, is a tale in blank verse, the scene of which is laid in the solitary island of St Kilda, whither one of his characters, Aurelius, had fled to avoid the religious persecutions under Charles II. Some highly-wrought descriptions of marine scenery, storms, and shipwreck, with a few touches of natural pathos and affection, constitute the chief characteristics of the poem. The whole, however, even the very names in such a locality, has an air of improbability and extravagance. Another work of the same kind, but inferior in execution, is his poem The Excursion, written in imitation of the style of Thomson's 'Seasons.' The defects of Thomson's style are servilely copied; some of his epithets and expressions are also borrowed; but there is no approach to his redeeming graces and beauties. Contrary to the dictum of Gibbon, the poetic fame of Mallet rests on his ballads, and chiefly on his 'William
and Margaret,' which, written at the age of twentythree, afforded high hopes of ultimate excellence. The simplicity, here remarkable, he seems to have thrown aside when he assumed the airs and dress of a man of taste and fashion. All critics, from Dr Percy downwards, have united in considering 'William and Margaret' one of the finest compositions of the kind in our language. Sir Walter Scott conceived that Mallet had imitated an old Scottish tale to be found in Allan Ramsay's Tea-Table Miscellany,' beginning,
There came a ghost to Margaret's door.
'Twas at the silent solemn hour,
Her face was like an April morn
Clad in a wintry cloud;
So shall the fairest face appear
When youth and years are flown : Such is the robe that kings must wear, When death has reft their crown.
Her bloom was like the springing flower,
But love had, like the canker-worm,
The rose grew pale, and left her cheek-
Awake! she cried, thy true love calls,
This is the dark and dreary hour
When injured ghosts complain;
Why did you promise love to me,
How could you say my face was fair,
And made the scarlet pale?
That face, alas! no more is fair,
Dark are my eyes, now closed in death,
The hungry worm my sister is ;
This winding-sheet I wear:
And cold and weary lasts our night,
Till that last morn appear.
But hark! the cock has warned me hence;
Come see, false man, how low she lies,
The lark sung loud; the morning smiled
Pale William quaked in every limb,
He hied him to the fatal place
Where Margaret's body lay;
And stretched him on the green-grass turf That wrapt her breathless clay.
And thrice he called on Margaret's name,
Then laid his cheek to her cold grave,
Edwin and Emma.
Far in the windings of a vale,
The safe retreat of health and peace,
There beauteous Emma flourished fair,
The softest blush that nature spreads
Such orient colour smiles through heaven,
Nor let the pride of great ones scorn
That sun, who bids their diamonds blaze,
Long had she filled each youth with love,
Till Edwin came, the pride of swains,
His sister, who, like envy formed,
The father too, a sordid man,
Who love nor pity knew, Was all unfeeling as the clod
From whence his riches grew.
Long had he seen their secret flame,
In Edwin's gentle heart, a war
Denied her sight, he oft behind
The spreading hawthorn crept, To snatch a glance, to mark the spot Where Emma walked and wept.
Oft, too, on Stanmore's wintry waste, Beneath the moonlight shade,
In sighs to pour his softened soul,
The midnight mourner strayed.
His cheek, where health with beauty glowed,
A deadly pale o'ercast;
So fades the fresh rose in its prime,
Before the northern blast.
The parents now, with late remorse,
Hung o'er his dying bed;
And wearied Heaven with fruitless vows,
And fruitless sorrows shed.
"Tis past! he cried, but, if your souls
Sweet mercy yet can move,
Let these dim eyes once more behold
She came; his cold hand softly touched,
But oh! his sister's jealous care,
Forbade what Emma came to say;
Now homeward as she hopeless wept,
The churchyard path along,
The blast blew cold, the dark owl screamed Her lover's funeral song.
Amid the falling gloom of night,
Her startling fancy found
In every bush his hovering shade,
Alone, appalled, thus had she passed
When lo! the death-bell smote her ear,
Just then she reached, with trembling step,
He's gone! she cried, and I shall see
I feel, I feel this breaking heart
Beat high against my side!
From her white arm down sunk her headShe shivered, sighed, and died.