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Nor my brave brothers, that have bit the ground,
To a YOUNG LADY on her BIRTH-Day."
This tributary verse receive , Warm with an ardent lover's fondest pray’r. May this returning day for ever find Thy form more lovely, more adorn'd thy mind; All pains, all carès, may favouring heav'n remove, All but the sweet solicitudes of love! May powerful nature join with grateful art, To point each glance, and force it to the heart ! O then, when conquered crouds confess thy sway, When ev'n proud wealth and prouder wit obey, My fair, be mindful of the mighty trust, Alas ! 'tis hard for beauty to be just. Those sovereign charms with strictest care employ; Nor give the generous pain, the worthless joy :
7 Mr. Hector informs me, that this was made almost impromptu,
in his presence.
With his own form acquaint the forward fool,
THE YOUNG AUTHOUR.
When first the peasant, long inclin'd to roam, Forsakes his rural sports and peaceful home, Pleas’d with the scene the smiling ocean yields, He scorns the verdant meads and flow'ry fields ; Then dances jocund o'er the watery way, While the breeze whispers, and the streamers play: Unbounded prospects in his bosom roll, And future millions lift his rising soul ; In blissful dreams he digs the golden mine, And raptur'd sees the new-found ruby shine. Joys insincere ! thick clouds invade the skies, Loud roar the billows, high the waves arise ; Sick’ning with fear, he longs to view the shore, And vows to trust the faithless deep no more. So the young Authour, panting after fame, And the long honours of a lasting name, Entrusts his happiness to human kind, More false, more cruel, than the seas or wind. “ Toil on, dull croud, in extacies he cries, For wealth or title, perishable prize ; While I those transitory blessings scorn, Secure of praise from ages yet unborn."
8 This he inserted, with many alterations, in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1743
This thought once form'd, all council comes too late,
EPILOGUE, intended to have been spoken by a LADY
who was to personate the Ghost of HERMIONE,9
Ye blooming train, who give despair or joy,
in barb'rous play, Unpitying see them weep, and hear them pray, And unrelenting sport' ten thousand lives away ; For you, ye fair, I quit the gloomy plains; Where sable night in all her horrour reigns ; No fragrant bowers, no delightful glades, Receive the unhappy ghosts of scornful maids.
9 Some young ladies at Lichfield having proposed to act " The Distressed Mother,” Johnson wrote this, and gave it to Mr. Hector to convey it privately to them.
For kind, for tender nymphs the myrtle blooms, And weaves her bending boughs in pleasing glooms: Perennial roses deck each purple vale, And scents ambrosial breathe in every gale: Far hence are banish'd vapours, spleen, and tears, Tea, scandal, ivory teeth, and languid airs : No pug, nor favourite Cupid there enjoys The balmy kiss, for which poor Thyrsis dies ; Form’d to delight, they use no foreign arms, Nor torturing whalebones pinch them into charms; No conscious blushes there their cheeks inflame, For those who feel no guilt can know no shame ; Unfaded still their former charms they shew, Around them pleasures wait, and joys for ever new. But cruel virgins meet severer fates; Expell’d and exil'd from the blissful seats, To dismal realms, and regions void of peace, Where furies ever howl, and serpents hiss. O'er the sad plains perpetual tempests sigh, And pois'nous vapours, black’ning all the sky, With livid hue the fairest face o'ercast, And every beauty withers at the blast: Where e'er they fly their lover's ghosts pursue, Inflicting all those ills which once they knew; Vexation, Fury, Jealousy, Despair, Vex ev'ry eye, and every bosom tear ; Their foul deformities by all descry'd, No maid to flatter, and no paint to hide. Then melt, ye fair, while crouds around you sigh, Nor let disdain sit lowring in your eye; With pity soften every awful grace, And beauty smile auspicious in each face; To ease their pains exert your milder power, So shall you guiltless reign, and all mankind adore.
The two years which he spent at home, after his return from Stourbridge, he passed in what he thought idleness, and was scolded by his father for his want of steady application. He had no settled plan of life, nor looked forward at all, but merely lived from day to day. Yet he read a great deal in a desultory, manner, without any scheme of study, as chance threw books in his way, and inclination directed him through them. He used to mention one curious instance of his casual reading, when but a boy. Having imagined that his brother had hid some apples behind a large folio upon an upper shelf in his father's shop, he climbed up to search for them. There were no apples; but the large folio proved to be Petrarch, whom he had seen mentioned, in some preface, as one of the restorers of learning. His curiosity having been thus excited, he sat down with avidity, and read a great part of the book. What he read during these two years, he told me, was not works of mere amusement,
not voyages and travels, but all literature, Sir, all ancient writers, all manly: though but little Greek, only some of Anacreon and Hesiod; but in this irregular manner (added he) I had looked into a great many books, which were not commonly known at the Universities, where they seldom read any books but what are put into their hands by their tutors; so that when I came to Oxford, Dr. Adams, now master of Pembroke College, told me, I was the best qualified for the University that he had ever known come there."
In estimating the progress of his mind during these two years, as well as in future periods of his life, we must not regard his own hasty confession of