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- Miscellaneous Poems - 6/8 -


'Tis an old maxim in the schools, That flattery is the food of fools; Yet now and then your men of wit Will condescend to taste a bit. SWIFT.

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The Subiect--Poverty and Cunning described--When united, a jarring Couple--Mutual reproof--the Wife consoled by a Dream--Birth of a Daughter--Description and Prediction of Envy--How to be rendered ineffectual, explained in a Vision--Simulation foretells the future Success and Triumphs of Flattery--Her power over various Characters and Different Minds; over certain Classes of Men; over Envy himself- -Her successful Art of softening the Evils of Life; of changing Characters; of meliorating Prospects and affixing Value to Possessions, Pictures, &c. Conclusion.

Muse of my Spenser, who so well could sing The passions all, their bearings and their ties; Who could in view those shadowy beings bring, And with bold hand remove each dark disguise, Wherein love, hatred, scorn, or anger lies: Guide him to Fairy-land, who now intends That way his flight; assist him as he flies, To mark those passions, Virtue's foes and friends, By whom when led she droops, when leading she ascends. Yes! they appear, I see the fairy train! And who that modest nymph of meek address? Not vanity, though loved by all the vain; Not Hope, though promising to all success; Not Mirth, nor Joy, though foe to all distress; Thee, sprightly syren, from this train I choose, Thy birth relate, thy soothing arts confess; 'Tis not in thy mild nature to refuse, When poets ask thine aid, so oft their meed and muse.

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In Fairy-land, on wide and cheerless plain, Dwelt, in the house of Care a sturdy swain; A hireling he, who, when he till'd the soil, Look'd to the pittance that repaid his toil, And to a master left the mingled joy And anxious care that follow'd his employ. Sullen and patient he at once appear'd, As one who murmur'd, yet as one who fear'd; Th'attire was coarse that clothed his sinewy frame, Rude his address, and Poverty his name. In that same plain a nymph, of curious taste, A cottage (plann'd, with all her skill) had placed; Strange the materials, and for what design'd The various parts, no simple man might find; What seem'd the door, each entering guest withstood, What seem'd a window was but painted wood; But by a secret spring the wall would move, And daylight drop through glassy door above: 'Twas all her pride, new traps for praise to lay, And all her wisdom was to hide her way; In small attempts incessant were her pains, And Cunning was her name among the swains. Now, whether fate decreed this pair should wed, And blindly drove them to the marriage bed; Or whether love in some soft hour inclined The damsel's heart, and won her to be kind, Is yet unsung: they were an ill-match'd pair, But both disposed to wed--and wed they were. Yet, though united in their fortune, still Their ways were diverse; varying was their will; Nor long the maid had bless'd the simple man, Before dissensions rose, and she began: - "Wretch that I am! since to thy fortune bound, What plan, what project, with success is crown'd? I, who a thousand secret arts possess, Who every rank approach with right address; Who've loosed a guinea from a miser's chest, And worm'd his secret from a traitor's breast; Thence gifts and gains collecting, great and small, Have brought to thee, and thou consum'st them all; For want like thine--a bog without a base - Ingulfs all gains I gather for the place; Feeding, unfill'd; destroying, undestroy'd; It craves for ever, and is ever void: - Wretch that I am! what misery have I found, Since my sure craft was to thy calling bound!" "Oh! vaunt of worthless art," the swain replied, Scowling contempt, "how pitiful this pride! What are these specious gifts, these paltry gains, But base rewards for ignominious pains? With all thy tricking, still for bread we strive, Thine is, proud wretch! the care that cannot thrive; By all thy boasted skill and baffled hooks, Thou gain'st no more than students by their books. No more than I for my poor deeds am paid, Whom none can blame, will help, or dare upbraid. "Call this our need, a bog that all devours, - Then what thy petty arts, but summer-flowers, Gaudy and mean, and serving to betray The place they make unprofitably gay? Who know it not, some useless beauties see, - But ah! to prove it was reserved for me." Unhappy state! that, in decay of love, Permits harsh truth his errors to disprove; While he remains, to wrangle and to jar, Is friendly tournament, not fatal war; Love in his play will borrow arms of hate, Anger and rage, upbraiding and debate; And by his power the desperate weapons thrown, Become as safe and pleasant as his own; But left by him, their natures they assume, And fatal, in their poisoning force, become. Time fled, and now the swain compell'd to see New cause for fear--"Is this thy thrift?" quoth he, To whom the wife with cheerful voice replied: - "Thou moody man, lay all thy fears aside; I've seen a vision--they, from whom I came, A daughter promise, promise wealth and fame; Born with my features, with my arts, yet she Shall patient, pliant, persevering be, And in thy better ways resemble thee. The fairies round shall at her birth attend, The friend of all in all shall find a friend, And save that one sad star that hour must gleam On our fair child, how glorious were my dream?" This heard the husband, and, in surly smile, Aim'd at contempt, but yet he hoped the while; For as, when sinking, wretched men are found To catch at rushes rather than be drown'd; So on a dream our peasant placed his hope, And found that rush as valid as a rope. Swift fled the days, for now in hope they fled, When a fair daughter bless'd the nuptial bed; Her infant-face the mother's pains beguiled, She look'd so pleasing and so softly smiled; Those smiles, those looks, with sweet sensations moved The gazer's soul, and as he look'd he loved. And now the fairies came with gifts, to grace So mild a nature, and so fair a face. They gave, with beauty, that bewitching art, That holds in easy chains the human heart; They gave her skill to win the stubborn mind, To make the suffering to their sorrows blind, To bring on pensive looks the pleasing smile, And Care's stern brow of every frown beguile. These magic favours graced the infant-maid, Whose more enlivening smile the charming gifts repaid. Now Fortune changed, who, were she constant long, Would leave us few adventures for our song. A wicked elfin roved this land around, Whose joys proceeded from the griefs he found; Envy his name: --his fascinating eye From the light bosom drew the sudden sigh; Unsocial he, but with malignant mind, He dwelt with man, that he might curse mankind; Like the first foe, he sought th' abode of Joy Grieved to behold, but eager to destroy; Round blooming beauty, like the wasp, he flew, Soil'd the fresh sweet, and changed the rosy hue; The wise, the good, with anxious heart he saw, And here a failing found, and there a flaw; Discord in families 'twas his to move, Distrust in friendship, jealousy in love; He told the poor, what joys the great possess'd; The great, what calm content the cottage bless'd: To part the learned and the rich he tried, Till their slow friendship perish'd in their pride. Such was the fiend, and so secure of prey, That only Misery pass'd unstung away. Soon as he heard the fairy-babe was born, Scornful he smiled, but felt no more than scorn: For why, when Fortune placed her state so low, In useless spite his lofty malice show? Why, in a mischief of the meaner kind, Exhaust the vigour of a ranc'rous mind; But, soon as Fame the fairy-gifts proclaim'd, Quick-rising wrath his ready soul inflamed To swear, by vows that e'en the wicked tie, The nymph should weep her varied destiny; That every gift, that now appear'd to shine In her fair face, and make her smiles divine, Should all the poison of his magic prove, And they should scorn her, whom she sought for love. His spell prepared, in form an ancient dame, A fiend in spirit, to the cot he came; There gain'd admittance, and the infant press'd (Muttering his wicked magic) to his breast; And thus he said: --"Of all the powers who wait On Jove's decrees, and do the work of fate, Was I, alone, despised or worthless, found, Weak to protect, or impotent to wound? See then thy foe, regret the friendship lost, And learn my skill, but learn it at your cost. "Know, then, O child! devote to fates severe, The good shall hate thy name, the wise shall fear; Wit shall deride, and no protecting friend Thy shame shall cover, or thy name defend. Thy gentle sex, who, more than ours, should spare A humble foe, will greater scorn declare; The base alone thy advocates shall be,


Miscellaneous Poems - 6/8

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