1 INHERITANCE of weak, but proud Mortality,
2 Hence, Disease and pining Pain;
3 With all your pale and ghastly train,
4 Tossings dire, heart-piercing Moans,
5 Sighs, and Tears, and hollow Groans,
6 The harbingers of Death:
7 Whether ye be
8 The spawn of bloated Luxury,
9 Or of the pestilential breath
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10 Of Eurus bred: or from the eastern clime:
11 Hence! to your ancient seat,
12 Where ebbing Nilus leaves his putrid slime,
13 To Volga's banks retreat,
14 Or to the Caspian, or Bengala's bay;
15 From Britain's happy lands
16 Haste to Arabian sands,
17 While winds sulphureous burn, and urge your way:
18 But, Goddess of the dimpled cheek,
19 Whom the wanton Cupids seek,
20 Come, fair Health, to grace the song,
21 Bring the chearful Muse along;
22 Bring laughing Youth, who looks behind;
23 Love on Fancy's breast reclin'd;
24 Wit, no poison'd dart who flings,
25 Or but retorts when Envy stings.
26 Come with antic Merriment,
27 And the placid child Content;
28 All with happy steps advance,
29 Join the song, and lead the dance.
30 Oft, O Goddess! let thy feet
31 Visit this my lone retreat;
32 Where my oak extends its pride
33 Of twisted arms; and fit to ride
34 Sublime on Neptune's swelling wave,
35 Now the roaring winds doth brave;
36 Where the vine's soft tendrils run,
37 And swell to meet the southern sun:
38 Where Contemplation, wont to stray,
39 Winds thro' the wood her easy way,
[Page 7]
40 Or marks the lake, the field, or sky;
41 The silent Angler's stedfast eye;
42 The Gunner's aim: or Industry,
43 Who, with his loud resounding blow,
44 Lays the nodding forest low;
45 Or teaches where to wind the stream;
46 Or whistles to his labouring team:
47 The meads which suck the dews of morn;
48 Or uplands crown'd with golden corn,
49 Richer than Iberia's mine:
50 The bleating flocks; the lowing kine;
51 The smoking cots, and pointed spires,
52 The setting sun's reflecting fires;
53 Woods dark waving in the dale;
54 Rays which gleam; and clouds which sail;
55 Shades and lights by turns contending;
56 Gradual colours softly blending;
57 All as Nature's pencil clear
58 Marks the variegated year:
59 These, O Goddess! these are thine;
60 Offspring of immortal line;
61 Who with mortals deign'st to dwell,
62 In some low and rural cell:
63 To haunt the brink of tinkling rills;
64 The flowery vales, or sloping hills;
65 And when the plowman turns the soil,
66 To chear his song, and guide his toil.
67 With vest succinct in Dian's train
68 Oft art thou seen to brush the plain,
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69 While thy shrill horns sweet Echo rouse,
70 Slumbering on the mountain's brows:
71 Oft when Winter clouds the air,
72 To the blazing hearth repair
73 Thy social feet, where-e'er the bowl
74 Of moderate Mirth unlocks the soul,
75 When tales of time, and ancient fear
76 Suspend the young astonish'd ear:
77 Or carrols quaint in long-drawn note
78 Swell the rustic's ample throat:
79 Or where high lifted steps resound,
80 When the peasant thumps the ground
81 With aukward heel; and gives a fall
82 To mistress of the rural ball:
83 Or presses with his iron hand,
84 And whirls her thro' the shouting band.
85 Nor art thou wont with these to sport
86 Alone: but where the Loves resort,
87 With all the young and shining train
88 Of Cytherea's golden reign,
89 More elegant, to lead is thine
90 The dance; which waves its easy line;
91 Marks the graceful, and the strong;
92 Where speech to which no words belong
93 Makes love by actions never pain'd,
94 All oppos'd, but nought constrain'd:
95 Movements mixing, swift, and slow,
96 And foot, ear, eye, together go.
97 Thus flush'd with all thy native charms,
98 My Delia spreads her winning arms,
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99 Uplisted soft, and seems to tread
100 On yielding air, or ocean's bed:
101 And, as she grants her modest hand,
102 Damon's happy eyes demand,
103 While mov'd by her he seems to live,
104 The heart, which she half seems to gives
105 If these delights, O Goddess! wait
106 Ever on thy happy state,
107 Best of blessings understood,
108 Only source of mortal good;
109 Hither, bright Hygeia, fly
110 With rosy cheek, and sparkling eye,
111 Such as thou dost oft appear
112 When thy Heberden is near.
113 Rich with Nature's genuine grace,
114 Come, Goddess! to my warm embrace,
115 Far from all I fear, or hate;
116 From splendid life's delusive state,
117 Smiles that stab, or that betray:
118 Gloom of heart with visage gay;
119 Splender canker'd with distress,
120 Grandeur mix'd with littleness,
121 Words of wind, and hopes of air,
122 Clouds which threaten dark despair,
123 Craft disloyal to his trust,
124 Here High Birth licking low the dust,
125 There upstart Meanness set astride
126 The world, too narrow for his pride.
127 Far from Trade's too busy seat,
128 Of Loss and Gain the low deceit,
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129 Aukward Pomp, and Vanity,
130 Who restless drive, and mount the sky,
131 Proud of misus'd Liberty;
132 While sordid Cunning, Passion blind,
133 Ride on the gilded car behind.
134 From Law's grimace, and mean chicane,
135 Which rivets, when it seems the chain
136 To loose; receives the golden shower,
137 And offers hecatombs to Power.
138 From language low, which vulgars prize,
139 Creeping Arts which mean to rise;
140 Labyrinths, which ever wind
141 In the dark and double mind:
142 From Profession's learned scene;
143 Cant of words, which little mean:
144 Physic, child of Luxury;
145 Clok'd in shallow mystery:
146 False Religion's forms, which bind
147 The body to enslave the mind:
148 Disputation's rage and trouble:
149 Philosophic system's bubble:
150 From War's parade; or Eloquence
151 In senates, big with smooth pretence
152 Of public good: from Envy mean,
153 Who midst the liberal Arts is seen,
154 Corrodes the page which Genius drew,
155 And turns aside her sullen view,
156 Each work of Merit pleas'd to blast,
157 Then feeds upon herself at last.
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158 From these, immortal Goddess! fly,
159 And bless thy humble votary.
160 Give me Reason's lasting pleasure,
161 Ease, but not ignoble leisure:
162 Far be wild Ambition's fires,
163 Hopeless Love, and fierce Desires.
164 I ask not Fortune's glittering charms,
165 The pride of courts, the spoils of arms;
166 By silver stream, and haunted grove,
167 O give my peaceful steps to rove:
168 Beneath the shade of pendent hills,
169 I'll listen to the falling rills,
170 That chafe the pebble, as they stray;
171 And haste, like human life, away:
172 Then on the flowery carpet green
173 I'll sit and trace the rural scene;
174 While by the mimic pencil drawn
175 The herds shall seem to crop the lawn;
176 The piping swain, the distant towers,
177 The moss-grown knotted oaks, and bowers,
178 As bending to the whispering breeze,
179 Some thatch'd cot rising 'mong the trees,
180 In rude and artless lines design'd,
181 Shall faintly mark the Master's mind.
182 Or, if soft verse delight us more,
183 O grant of verse the wonderous power
184 Strong ideas to inspire;
185 Words which paint, and sounds which fire;
186 Which calls up shades of heroes bold,
187 Whose virtues warm'd the times of old,
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188 Dressing the historic page
189 With Terror, Pity, Love, and Rage;
190 Or gives to Truth the tuneful art
191 With moral song to mend the heart:
192 Flow it easy, soft, and free,
193 From ill-conceiv'd obscurity;
194 Affectation's crowded plumes,
195 All that strains, or that assumes;
196 Nature may it e'er pursue,
197 Describing, as we feel, the true:
198 Her magic glass while Fancy brings,
199 Which shews the fleeting form of things,
200 Each fair assemblage knows to trace
201 All that Nature hath of Grace;
202 While Reason lends her sacred aid,
203 And in the beautiful display'd,
204 Sees with sound philosophy
205 The reflected Deity.
206 Thus on thro' Manhood, Youth, and Age,
207 Nor stain'd with guilt, nor rough with rage,
208 In smooth maeanders life shall glide,
209 And roll a clear and peaceful tide.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): THE VALETUDINARIAN. AN ODE.
Themes: age; retirement
Genres: ode
References: DMI 32614

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Source edition

A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. IV. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. []-12. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1137)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.