Poems on several occasions: By Stephen Duck.
Duck, Stephen, 1705-1756.
Page  205

A Description of a Journey To Marlborough, Bath, Portsmouth, &c.

To the Right Honourable the Lord Viscount PALMERSTON.
WHILE some, my Lord, the Roman Coast explore,
Survey the Fanes, and trace their Beauties o'er,
Studious of Arts, by which ingenious BOYLE
Now draws the Plan, or now erects the Pile;
More bounded in my Fancy, and my Purse,
I, o'er domestic Plains, pursue my Course;
And ev'ry pleasing Object in the Way,
The Muse shall sing, if you accept her Lay.
Page  206
WHEN CANCER fiercely glow'd with PHOEBUS' Heat,
And Clouds of Dust flew ev'n in Brentford-street;
O'er Hounslow-heath my early Course I steer,
For Robbers fam'd; but I no Robbers fear:
Let Gold, like Guilt, increase the Miser's Grief;
A Poet's Purse, like Virtue, dares a Thief.
Colebrook I quickly pass, and soon my Eyes
Survey the Royal Tow'rs of Windsor rise:
Charm'd with the Theme of POPE's harmonious Song,
I check my Steed, and slowly move along;
As ling'ring Mariners contract their Sails,
To feast on Odours of Arabian Gales.
But lest, my Lord, your Patience should accuse
The dull Narration of a tedious Muse,
I will not sing each Trifle that occurr'd,
How much I eat, and drank, and whipp'd, and spurr'd:
Page  207 How oft my Palfry stumbled in the Way,
Till *Hatford ends the Travel of the Day;
Where kind MENALCAS, Partner of my Soul,
Revives me with his friendly, flowing Bowl;
Yet forces no intemp'rate Bumpers round,
Except when DELIA's Health the Glasses crown'd.
A thousand Labours past, we now run o'er,
What Scenes we acted, and what Toils we bore:
No Party Feuds, nor Politics we name;
The Joys of Friendship mostly were our Theme.
Warn'd by the Clock, we now retire to Rest,
Till rising PHOEBUS streak'd the purple East.
Breakfast soon o'er, we trace the verdant Field,
Where sharpen'd Scythes the lab'ring Mowers wield:
Straight Emulation glows in ev'ry Vein;
I long to try the curvous Blade again.
Page  208
AS when, at Hockley-hole, old Gamesters view
Young Combatants their Martial Sports renew,
A youthful Vigour fires their ancient Soul,
Nor former Wounds their Courage can controul;
Again they mount the Stage, again they play,
Again they bear the noble Prize away:
So with Ambition burns my daring Breast;
I snatch the Scythe, and with the Swains contest;
Behind 'em close, I rush the sweeping Steel;
The vanquish'd Mowers soon confess my Skill.
NOT long at this laborious Sport I stay;
But, with my Friend, to *Charlton take my Way:
'Twas there, my Lord, induc'd by potent Ale,
Swains leave their Ploughs, and Threshers quit their Flail:
Page  209 Your *Bounty soon provokes the Bells to ring;
Clowns dance, Boys hollow, and hoarse Coblers sing.
Not greater was the Joy in ancient Greece,
When AESON's Son produc'd the Golden Fleece,
Than now appear'd in ev'ry Thresher's Breast,
Soon as your Gold sung Prologue to the Feast.
WHY should the Muse recite our Bill of Fare,
And with a long Description tire your Ear?
None can your gen'rous Treat with Want reproach;
All eat enough, and many drank too much:
Full twenty Threshers quaff around the Board;
All name their Toast, and ev'ry one, my Lord.
No Cares, no Toils, no Troubles now appear;
For Troubles, Toils, and Cares are drown'd in Beer;
Till soon the chol'ric Fumes of Liquor rise,
Flush in their Face, and sparkle in their Eyes:
Page  210 They now the rustic Feats of Manhood boast,
Who best could reap, or mow, or thresh the most:
Contention doubtful! All with Anger burn,
While each appears a Hero in his Turn:
Hard Words succeed; so far can Beer prevail,
That Blows are menac'd, ev'n without the Flail;
Till thus our Landlord, rising from his Chair,
Like prudent NESTOR, stops impending War:
" WHAT Madness, Friends, what Madness can engage
" Your Minds to burn with this unseemly Rage?
" For Shame, stain not with Blood our grateful Chear;
" Desist from Blood—or else desist from Beer.
" Are these the only Thanks you give my Lord?
" And is it thus his Favours you reward?
" If no Respect you pay this chearful Feast,
" Yet pay the noble Founder some, at least—"
Page  211
HE said: Abash'd the conscious Heroes stood,
Shook Hands, and thirsted more for Beer—than Blood:
Another Glass to TEMPLE's Health they pour;
And praise their Liquor much, his Bounty more.
OFT as this *Day returns, shall Threshers claim
Some Hours of Rest sacred to TEMPLE's Name;
Oft as this Day returns, shall TEMPLE chear
The Threshers Hearts with Mutton, Beef, and Beer:
Hence, when their Childrens Children shall admire
This Holiday, and, whence deriv'd, inquire;
Some grateful Father, partial to my Fame,
Shall thus describe from whence, and how it came.
" HERE, Child, a Thresher liv'd in ancient Days;
" Quaint Songs he sung, and pleasing Roundelays;
Page  212 " A gracious QUEEN his Sonnets did commend;
" And some great Lord, one TEMPLE, was his Friend:
" That Lord was pleas'd this Holiday to make,
" And feast the Threshers, for that Thresher's sake."
THUS shall Tradition keep my Fame alive;
The Bard may die, the Thresher still survive.
NEXT, over Pewsey's fertile Fields I haste,
Fields with the bearded Crops of CERES grac'd!
While pleasing Hopes my grateful Bosom chear;
But soon they vanish'd—*STANLEY was not here.
FROM hence the Muse to silver Kennet flies,
On whose green Margin Hertford's Turrets rise.
Here often round the verdant Plain I stray,
Where THOMSON sung his bold, unfetter'd Lay;
Page  213 Or climb the winding, mazy *Mountain's Brow;
And, tho' I swiftly walk, ascend but slow.
The spiral Paths in gradual Circles lead,
Increase my Journey, and elude my Speed:
Yet, when at length I reach the lofty Height,
Towns, Vallies, Rivers, Meadows meet my Sight;
A thousand grateful Objects round me smile,
Whose various Beauties overpay my Toil.
So may you often see the studious Youth
Begin the long, laborious Search for TRUTH;
How slow his Progress, but how great his Pain!
How many mazy Problems vex his Brain!
Before he o'er the Hills of Science rise,
Where, far from vulgar Sight, the Goddess lies:
Yet, there arriv'd, he ends the happy Chace;
Reflects, with Pleasure, on his glorious Race;
Page  214 Sees the bright Nymph so many Charms display,
As crown the Labours of the lengthen'd Way.
WITHIN the Basis of the verdant Hill,
A beauteous Grot confesses HERTFORD's Skill;
Who, with her lovely Nymphs, adorns the Place;
Gives ev'ry polish'd Stone its proper Grace;
Now varies rustic Moss about the Cell;
Now fits the shining Pearl, or purple Shell:
CALYPSO thus, attended with her Train,
With rural Palaces adorns the Plain;
Nor with more Elegance her Grots appear,
Nor with more Beauty shines th' Immortal Fair.
THE Muse her Journey, next, to Bath pursues;
Bath, fix'd by Nature to delight the Muse!
Where flow'ry Shrubs, and curling Vines unite;
Hills, Vales, and waving Woods attract the Sight;
Page  215 A vary'd Scene! For Nature here displays
A thousand lovely Charms, a thousand Ways:
ALLEN attends, to dress her beauteous Face,
With Handmaid Art improving ev'ry Grace;
Now forms the verdant Walk, or sunny Glade,
Or pours the Waters o'er the steep Cascade;
Or now contracts 'em with judicious Skill,
And leads 'em, gently murm'ring, down the Hill.
A Son of AESCULAPIUS here I meet;
Polite his Manners, and his Temper sweet:
His sage Discourse, with soft, persuasive Art,
Charm'd the pleas'd Ear, till it improv'd the Heart:
Bright Truth, and Virtue, were his lovely Theme;
Which seem'd more lovely, when describ'd by him.
VARIOUS Diversions here employ the Fair;
To Dancing some, and some to Play repair:
Page  216 Not *MUSIDORA so consumes her Days,
The Dame who bad me sing JEHOVAH's Praise:
Uncharm'd with all the flutt'ring Pomp of Pride,
Heav'n, and domestic Care her Time divide:
In her own Breast she seeks a calm Repose,
And shuns the crowded Rooms of Belles and Beaux;
Where COQUETILLA oft her Eyes has roll'd,
Oft won a worthless Heart, and lost her Gold.
FROM Bath, I travel thro' the sultry Vale,
Till Sal'sb'ry Plains afford a cooling Gale:
Arcadian Plains, where PAN delights to dwell,
In verdant Beauties cannot these excel:
These too, like them, might gain immortal Fame,
Resound with CORYDON and THYRSIS' Flame;
If, to his Mouth, the Shepherd would apply
His mellow Pipe, or vocal Music try:
Page  217 But, to his Mouth, the Shepherd ne'er applies
His mellow Pipe, nor vocal Music tries:
Propt on his Staff, he indolently stands;
His Hands support his Head, his Staff his Hands;
Or, idly basking in the sunny Ray,
Supinely lazy, loiters Life away.
Here, as I pass'd the Plains, (a lovely Scene,
Array'd in Nature's Liv'ry, gaily green!)
On ev'ry Side the wanton Lambkins play'd,
Whose artless Bleatings rural Music made;
Too harsh perhaps to please politer Ears,
Yet much the sweetest Tune the Farmer hears.
SOON as the Plains are ravish'd from my Sight,
New diff'rent Prospects equally delight;
Where *PEMBROKE's Turrets charm my gazing Eyes,
And awful Statues solemnly surprize:
Page  218 Bards, Sages, Heroes, Patriots, Princes stand,
A mixt, majestic, venerable Band!
Here mighty HOMER, PHOEBUS' eldest Son,
Or sings, or seems to sing, in breathing Stone.
See Martial PHOCION silently persuade,
And smooth tongu'd CICERO, in Marble, plead:
Here shines great POMPEY, greater JULIUS there,
With daring BRUTUS, honestly severe:
Friendship, and Freedom in his Soul contend;
Forgive him, CAESAR, if he wrong'd his Friend!
Tho' BRUTUS' Dagger pierc'd thy Bosom thro',
'Twas Liberty, not Malice, struck the Blow.
Unhappy BRUTUS, destin'd to withstand
Thy Friend's Ambition with a fatal Hand!
Unhappy CAESAR, whose Ambition mov'd
That fatal Hand, to murder whom it lov'd!
Hadst thou, like Britain's MONARCH, strove to save
Expiring Nations, not the World enslave;
Page  219 Thy Laurels then had still unblasted stood,
Nor BRUTUS e'er been stain'd with CAESAR's Blood.
NOT far from hence, old Sarum's Ruins stand,
High on a bleak and barren Tract of Land;
A Mount, which once sustain'd a City's Weight,
And lofty Tow'rs adorn'd its awful Height;
Till Want of Water forc'd the thirsty Crowd
To seek the Vale, where crystal Rivers flow'd.
There *POORE the first auspicious Work began;
First, for a Temple, drew the glorious Plan;
Then quickly makes the sacred Columns rise,
And bids the lofty Spire invade the Skies.
The prudent People too, with equal Haste,
New Dwellings built, which far their old surpast:
Cautious of Thirst, they make the docile Tide,
In winding Currents, thro' the City glide:
Page  220 In ev'ry Street the wanton NAIADS play,
To ev'ry Door their liquid Urns convey;
In which the lately thirsty Peasant spies
At once the cooling Draught, and scaly Fries;
Scenes, which, before, the lofty Mount deny'd!
Hence let Ambition learn to check its Pride:
High Stations often bring a Weight of Cares;
True Happiness is found in humble Spheres:
This useful Truth let Sarum's Glory show,
Which faded when on high, but flourishes below.
I next to BATHURST's *rural Seat ascend,
BATHURST, my infant Muse's gen'rous Friend!
And, as around his spacious Park I stray'd,
Charm'd with the Prospect, which the Fields display'd,
Musing on Verse, the willing Numbers came,
My Song began, and Clarendon my Theme.
Page  221 What sweeter Subject could I wish to chuse?
What Scenes more lovely can delight a Muse?
See, FLORA paints the Ground with vary'd Dyes,
And fragrant Shrubs with Odours fill the Skies!
Here curling Vines their luscious Sweets disclose,
There fair POMONA loads the blushing Boughs:
See, fruitful CERES crowns the Vales with Corn,
And fleecy Flocks the verdant Hills adorn!
Here waving Trees project a cooling Shade,
Where BATHURST oft converses with the Dead;
Reads over what the ancient Sages wrote;
Nor only reads, but acts as Sages taught;
Improves the present Hour, that Fortune gives;
Nor trusts To-morrow, but To-day he lives.
As thus my careless Lay, unlabour'd, flows,
Before my Eyes a *Pile of Ruins rose;
Page  222 Whose rugged Walls, like native Rock-work, shone;
For Time had turn'd the Cement into Stone.
Our Second HENRY here, if Fame be true,
Measur'd the Prince's Right, and People's Due;
Made Laws to bound the Priests and Barons Claim—
Nor ev'n those Laws did haughty BECKET blame;
BECKET! true Tyrant of the Roman State,
Curs'd with Religion just enough to hate;
Whose stern, ambitious Zeal his King defy'd,
And damn'd all those, who dar'd oppose his Pride.
O Thou Supreme! whose Mercy ever shone
The best, the brightest Jewel in thy Crown!
Never let me such cruel Faith approve,
Which bids me hate, whom Heav'n commands to love!
Let Christian Charity incline my Mind
To wish the Happiness of all Mankind!
Page  223 In social Friendship always let me live,
Slow to be angry, easy to forgive!
PAULTONS affords me next a kind Retreat,
Where crowding Joys my grateful Heart dilate;
To see the Friend, who first my Lays approv'd,
Who loves the Muse, and by her is belov'd;
Who taught her tender Pinions how to fly,
Told when she crept too low, or soar'd too high.
O STANLEY! if, forgetful of thy Love,
I e'er to Gratitude rebellious prove;
Still may I want a Friend, but never find;
May FORTUNE, PHOEBUS, STANLEY, prove unkind!
HERE often thro' the gloomy Woods I rove,
Pleas'd with the silent Horror of the Grove.
And now the Lawn, and winding Walks delight;
And now the Memphian Turret charms my Sight:
Page  224 Here conic Firs in graceful Order stand;
Tall Cedars there, the Growth of Syrian Land.
Lead me, ye sacred DRYADS! leads me thro'
Your sylvan Scenes, where future Navies grow;
Where lofty Oaks their branching Arms extend,
And tow'ring Pines to kiss the Clouds ascend;
Where op'ning Glades admit the sunny Ray,
Or venerable Groves exclude the Day.
There let me Knaves, and Fools, and Fops despise,
And think of Actions worthy of the Wise.
MY Friend and me, Southampton next receives;
Southampton, wash'd with THETIS' silver Waves:
Upon whose sandy Margin *Bevis rears
His Head, on which a stately Dome appears;
Where British SCIPIO, crown'd with Martial Bays,
In Solitude enjoys his ancient Days:
Page  225 Yet, still inclin'd to conquer, wages here,
With stubborn Woods and Wilds, innoxious War;
Subdues the native Rudeness of the Soil,
And makes the barren Sand with Verdure smile;
Bends the young Plant obedient to his Will,
Or thro' the Vally leads the crystal Rill;
Sublimes the Mount, or bids the Mole subside,
To stretch the Prospect o'er the lucid Tide:
The Foils of Art illustrate his Design;
And make the Di'mond NATURE brighter shine.
CHARM'D with the Beauties of the silver Sea,
We board a Ship, and skim the watry Way:
Blown with propitious Gales, we quickly view
BRITANNIA's Strength, her Guard, and Glory too;
Where *GEORGE's dreadful Eagles waiting stood,
To bear his fatal Thunder o'er the Flood.
Page  226 The wondrous Scene delights my gazing Eyes,
At once imparting Pleasure and Surprize:
Intrepid Sailers, swarming in the Sky,
Intent on Bus'ness, diff'rent Labours try:
Some stride the Yard, or tow'ring Mast ascend;
Some on the Ropes, in airy Crowds, depend;
Thick as the Insects, round the Poplar, play,
When PHOEBUS gilds 'em with a Western Ray.
BUT unexpected Dangers oft deceive
The daring Man, who tempts the foamy Wave:
While on the Fleet we all delighted gaze,
The sudden Winds arise, and sweep the Seas;
With rapid Force they fly, and from the Ship
Disjoin the Boat, and drive it o'er the Deep:
Our cautious Pilot quickly shifts the Sails,
Reverts his Course against the furious Gales.
Page  227 O CHLOE! then what ruthless Pains distrest
Thy dizzy Head, and rack'd thy tender Breast!
How often did the Bard thy Fate bemoan!
How often did he wish thy Pains his own!
How did the TRITONS, mov'd with Pity, gaze
On thy fair Face, distorted twenty Ways!
Yet, tho' distorted, still thy Features show
Bright in Distress, and innocent in Woe.
So VENUS oft her silver Light displays,
Thro' Ev'ning Mists, that rise to cloud her Rays.
BUT NEPTUNE now, who pity'd CHLOE's Pain,
Returns the Boat; we steer our Course again,
At Six, we safely land at Port smouth Key,
And soon forget the Dangers of the Sea.
Straight to some hospitable Inn we haste,
Revive our Spirits with a sweet Repast:
Page  228 The smiling Glass, with rosy Liquor crown'd,
Sacred to friendly Healths, goes chearful round;
While Time, in mirthful Converse, sweetly flows,
Till gentle Sleep invites us to Repose.
THE Morning come, we to the Wharfs repair,
Survey the mighty Magazines of War:
Tremendous Rows of Cannon meet our Eyes;
And Iron Deaths, in massy Mountains, rise:
Store-house of MARS! where, rang'd in Order, lay
Ten thousand Thunders for some fatal Day.
DEPARTING hence, the Dock we travel round,
Where lab'ring Shipwrights rattling Axes sound:
Some bend the stubborn Planks, while others rear
The lofty Mast, or crooked Timber square;
Some ply their Engines, some direct the Toil,
And carefully inspect the mighty Pile;
Page  229 See ev'ry Chink securely stopt, before
The winged Castle ventures from the Shore.
So, when the youthful Crane intends to fly
Her first long Journey thro' the spacious Sky;
Before she rears herself sublime in Air,
She ranges ev'ry Plume with prudent Care;
Tries if her Pinions can her Flight sustain;
Then springs away, and soars above the Main.
BUT see! the smoking firy Forge appears;
Vulcanian Sounds surprize our list'ning Ears:
See! busy Smiths around their Anvils sweat;
Their brawny Arms the glowing Anchor beat;
Alternately the chiming Hammers fall,
And loud Notes echo thro' the sooty Hall.
Such, haply, on the sounding Anvil rung,
When first the Harp melodious TUBAL strung:
Page  230 As TUBAL-CAIN the ductile Metal wrought,
And VULCAN's heav'nly Art to Mortals taught;
The Brother, pleas'd to hear his Hammers chime,
Soon harmoniz'd their Notes to proper Time:
Man's Bosom then sonorous Organs warm'd,
The softer Lyre his gloomy Sorrows charm'd;
While Tyrants Hearts unusual Pity found,
And savage Tempers soften'd with the Sound.
'TWAS now the Time, when PHOEBUS' piercing Ray
Shot down direct, and measur'd half the Day:
A bold *Commander luckily we meet,
Who courteously invites us to the Fleet:
A Table elegantly spread we found,
And loyal Healths the Captain pushes round;
AUGUSTUS first, and all the Royal Line,
Give sweeter Flavour to the sparkling Wine;
Page  231 WAGER, and NORRIS, next, who boldly reign,
In floating Castles, Monarchs of the Main.
BUT now again our winged Sails we spread,
Again we visit Paulton's sylvan Shade;
Where, parting from my Friend, I mount my Steed,
And, o'er the Wilds of Wellow, urge his Speed:
Wilds, which were lately sterile, as the Coast,
Where patient CATO march'd his fainting Host!
Nor could the Swain explore a cooling Shade,
When fervid PHOEBUS burnt his glowing Head;
Till CHANDOS bad the dreary Desert smile
With verdant Groves, and beautify'd the Soil:
He said; ten thousand Trees adorn'd the Plain,
Ten thousand Shades, delightful to the Swain.
HENCE, o'er the Plains, and fruitful Fields I pass,
Full forty Miles, till Witney ends my Race.
Page  232 I visit here an elegant *Divine,
In whom the Scholar, Friend, and Critic join;
Who freely judges of an Author's Thoughts,
Improves his Beauties, and corrects his Faults;
Severely kind, and candidly severe;
Polite, as Courtiers; and, as Truth, sincere;
Who, in MINERVA's Temple, taught our Youth
The Path to Wisdom, Virtue, Honour, Truth;
Till having, with a gen'rous Mind, bestow'd
The Flow'r of all his Years in doing Good;
Fatigu'd with Labours, and with Age decay'd,
Retires, with Honour, to the rural Shade.
SO, when the Prince of Rivers, fruitful Nile,
Has flow'd, and fatten'd all the Memphian Soil,
Spent all the Richness, that his Waves contain,
Back to his Banks, he draws his humid Train.
Page  233
I pay my Off'rings next at PHOEBUS' Shrine,
Oxford, the Seat of all the tuneful Nine.
Forgive me, God of Verse, who daring greet
Thy sacred Temples with unhallow'd Feet!
As pious Mussulmen to Mecca roam,
Zealous to worship at their Prophet's Tomb;
So comes the Poet to thy rev'rend Fanes,
Invoking thee to aid his humble Strains.
O! might a Spark of thy celestial Flame
But raise my Numbers equal to my Theme,
ALFRED immortal in my Page should shine;
ALFRED, the Monarch, Hero, and Divine!
Who, having bravely all his Foes o'erthrown,
Advanc'd thy Kingdom, and confirm'd his own;
Water'd his Realm with the Pierian Spring,
Recall'd the banish'd Arts, and bad the Muses sing.
Page  234 Then should my Numbers sound with *WICKHAM's Praise;
Nor less should FOXE's Fame adorn my Lays,
Whose pious Care the decent Fabric rear'd,
Which kindly shelter'd the unworthy Bard;
Nor the unworthy Bard should leave unpaid
The grateful Debt, contracted while he stay'd:
Thy Favours, chiefly, WINDER, should be known,
In lasting Numbers, tuneful as thy own.
Thee, BODLEY, would I sing; who can refuse
A Verse to BODLEY, Patron of the Muse?
Whose letter'd Bounty to the World declares
The treasur'd Wisdom of three thousand Years.
Nor should the Muse forget the §Prelate's Fame,
Who grac'd the River with a stately Frame,
Page  235 Known by the flow'ry Meads, which round it lie,
And beauteous Walks, that charm the Student's Eye;
Where courtly ADDISON attun'd his Lays,
And rais'd his own, by singing DRYDEN's Praise.
Hail, happy Bard! whose Genius still could shine
In ev'ry Art; for ev'ry Art was thine:
Whether thou didst the Critic's Pen engage,
The Critic's Pen improv'd the Poet's Rage;
Whether thou didst the Hero's Deeds rehearse,
The Hero's Deeds shone brighter in thy Verse:
Or did thy tragic Muse sublimely tell,
How stubborn CATO for his Country fell;
Parties no more retain'd their factious Hate;
All pity'd CAESAR's, honour'd CATO's Fate:
Nor less thy soft diurnal Essays please,
That Glass, where ev'ry Fool his Folly sees;
Where Virtue shines with such attractive Grace,
She tempts the Vicious to her chaste Embrace.
Page  236 O! may thy Labours be a Star to guide
My Thoughts and Actions o'er Life's devious Tide!
If Pride, or Passion check my doubtful Sail,
Let thy Instructions lend a friendly Gale,
To waft me to the peaceful, happy Shore,
Where thou, immortal Bard! art gone before:
Then those who grant me not a Poet's Name,
Shall own I left behind a better Fame.