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FROM ARISTIPPUS, IN RETIREMENT.
The species of poetry, in which the following Epistles are written, has been used with great success among the French, by Chapelle, Chaulieu, La Fare, Gresset, Madame Deshoulières, and others; but I do not remember to have seen it before in the English language. The unconfined return of the rhymes, and easiness of the diction, seem peculiarly adapted to epistolary compositions. The author professedly imitates the general manner of the above mentioned writers, but he is more particularly obliged to Gresset, for two or three hints in his performance, which he has acknowledged in the marginal notes. The reader will not forget, that these four Epistles were written originally under a fictitious character.
THE RETREAT OF ARISTIPPUS.
Je vous livre mes rêveries
Que quelques vérités bardies
Viennent librement mélanger.
of being great In courts, my lord, let others lead (Exchanging happiness for state) The crowd of tinseld slaves, who tread The miry ministerial road To modern honour's dark abode, Where dwell the' high vulgar of the town, Which England's common courtesy, To make bad fellowship go down, Politely calls good company. Remote from politics and strife, From the dull sons of business free, Unfetter'd by domestic life, To letter'd ease a votary, I spend alternately my hours "Twixt Epicurus' myrtle bowers And Academus' palmy grove; Happy, from Seine's meandering shores, Where polish'd pleasures ever rove, The first to bring the Thespian maids, To play, to science, and to love, On Cyprian pipes in British shades.
No levees here attend his grace,
My-lording every morn an ass,
Nor office clerks with busy face,
To make fools wonder as they pass,
Whisper dull nothings in his ear,
'Bout some rogue borough-monger there,
The well bred insipidity
Of town assemblies ne'er is heard,
And candidates for prelacy,
That sable, supple, bowing herd,
This silent territory fly;
For bishoprics are seldom found
In realms of scientific ground.
No doctor's medicinal wig,
No titled beggar's suppliant knee,
No alderman with knighthood big
And newly purchased pedigree,
No vultures of the human race
From Temple or from Lincoln's Inn,
No pseudo patriot out of place,
Nor venal senator that's in,
Disturb this amiable retreat;
Only a muse, a love, or grace,
In this calm senate have a seat.
Such representatives are free!
No muse has lately been at court,
Nor are the graces better for’t;
Nor have the loves septennially,
A borough interest to support,
Mortgaged their healths or property.
Led by unerring nature's voice,
I haunt retirement's silent shade,
Contentment's humble lot and choice,
Where, on the mossy sofa laid,
1 see, through contemplation's eye,
The white-wing'd cherub innocence,
Each blessing of her native sky
To sympathetic hearts dispense.
Here, undebauch'd by spurious art,
Great nature reigns in every part,
Both when refulgent Titan's beam
In high meridian splendour glows,
And when pale Cynthia's maiden gleam
O'er night a silver mantle throws.
The natives of the neighbouring grove
Their nuptials chant on vernal sprays;
Untaught by Ovid how to love,
True passion modulates their lays.
From no Propertius' polish'd strain
The linnet forms her temperate note:
From no Tibullus learns to plain
The widow'd turtle's faithful throat.
Each feather'd libertine, of air,
Gay as Catullus, loves and sings
Free as the Teian sage from care,
The goldfinch claps his gilded wings,
And woos his female to repair
To shady groves and crystal springs.
Here bless'd with freedom and content,
Untaught by devious thought to stray
Through Fancy's visionary way,
These silvan bards of sentiment
Warble the dictates of the heart
Uninterrupted as they flow,
Unmeasured by the rules of art,
Now strongly high, now sweetly low.
Such scenes the good have ever loved, The great have sought, the wise approved.
Here legislators plann'd of old
The pandects of immortal laws;
And mighty chiefs and heroes bold,
Withdrawn from popular applause,
First having left their countries free
and from human pests,
Gain'd a more glorious victory
O’er the fierce tyrants of their breasts.
Methinks, I hear some courtier say, Such charms ideal ill
With modernized gentility;
For now the witty, great, and gay,
Think what so charms your rural sense
Only a clown's fit residence.
In former days a country life,
For so time-honour'd poets sing,
Free from anxiety and strife,
Was blandish'd by perpetual spring.
There the sweet Graces kept their court,
The Nymphs, the Fauns, and Dryads play'd,
Thither the Muses would resort,
Apollo loved the silvan shade.
The gods and heroes own'd a passion
For wives and daughters of the swains,
And heroines, whilst 'twas the fashion,
Ridotto'd on the rural plains.
The squires were then of heavenly race,
parsons fashionable too,
Young Hermes had at court a place,
Venus and Mars were folks one knew.
But long, long since those times are o’er;
No goddess trips it o'er the lea,
The gods and heroes are no more,
Who danced to rural minstrelsy;