The Progress of DISCONTENT.
A POEM. Written at Oxford in the Year 1746.
1 WHEN now mature in classic knowledge,
2 The joyful youth is sent to college,
3 His father comes, a vicar plain,
4 At Oxford bred — in Anna's reign,
5 And thus in form of humble suitor
6 Bowing accosts a reverend tutor.
7 "Sir, I'm a Glo'stershire divine,
8 "And this my eldest son of nine;
9 "My wife's ambition and my own
10 "Was that this child should wear a gown:
11 "I'll warrant that his good behaviour
12 "Will justify your future favour:
13 "And for his parts, to tell the truth,
14 "My son's a very forward youth;
15 "Has Horace all by heart — you'd wonder —
16 "And mouths out Homer's Greek like thunder.
17 "If you'd examine — and admit him,
18 "A scholarship would nicely fit him:[Page 247]
19 "That he succeeds 'tis ten to one;
20 "Your vote and interest, Sir! — 'Tis done. "
21 Our pupil's hopes, tho' twice defeated,
22 Are with a scholarship compleated:
23 A scholarship but half maintains,
24 And college rules are heavy chains:
25 In garret dark he smokes and puns,
26 A prey to discipline and duns;
27 And now intent on new designs,
28 Sighs for a fellowship — and fines.
29 When nine full tedious winters past,
30 That utmost wish is crown'd at last:
31 But the rich prize no sooner got,
32 Again he quarrels with his lot:
33 "These fellowships are pretty things,
34 "We live indeed like petty kings:
35 "But who can bear to waste his whole age
36 "Amid the dullness of a college,
37 "Debarr'd the common joys of life,
38 "And that prime bliss — a loving wife!
39 "O! what's a table richly spread
40 "Without a woman at its head!
41 "Would some snug benefice but fall,
42 "Ye feasts, ye dinners! farewel all!
43 "To offices I'd bid adieu,
44 "Of dean, vice praes. — of bur
45 "Come joys, that rural quiet yields,
46 "Come, tythes, and house, and fruitful fields! "
47 Too fond of liberty and ease
48 A patriot's vanity to please,
49 Long time he watches, and by stealth,
50 Each frail incumbent's doubtful health;
51 At length — and in his fortieth year,
52 A living drops — two hundred clear!
53 With breast elate beyond expression,
54 He hurries down to take possession,
55 With rapture views the sweet retreat —
56 "What a convenient house! how neat!
57 "For fuel here's sufficient wood:
58 "Pray God the cellars may be good!
59 "The garden — that must be new plann'd —
60 "Shall these old-fashion'd yew-trees stand?
61 "O'er yonder vacant plot shall rise
62 "The flow'ry shrub of thousand dies: —
63 "Yon' wall, that feels the southern ray,
64 "Shall blush with ruddy fruitage gay;
65 "While thick beneath its aspect warm
66 "O'er well-rang'd hives the bees shall swarm,
67 "From which, ere long, of golden gleam
68 "Metheglin's luscious juice shall stream:
69 "This aukward hut o'er-grown with ivy,
70 "We'll alter to a modern privy:
71 "Up yon' green slope, of hazels trim,
72 "An avenue so cool and dim,
73 "Shall to an arbour, at the end,
74 "In spite of gout, intice a friend.[Page 249]
75 "My predecessor lov'd devotion —
76 "But of a garden had no notion."
77 Continuing this fantastic farce on,
78 He now commences country parson.
79 To make his character entire,
80 He weds — a cousin of the 'squire;
81 Not over-weighty in the purse,
82 But many doctors have done worse:
83 And tho' she boast no charms divine,
84 Yet she can carve, and make birch wine.
85 Thus fixt, content he taps his barrel,
86 Exhorts his neighbours not to quarrel:
87 Finds his church-wardens have discerning
88 Both in good liquor and good learning;
89 With tythes his barns replete he sees,
90 And chuckles o'er his surplice sees;
91 Studies to find out latent dues,
92 And regulates the state of pews;
93 Rides a sleek mare with purple housing,
94 To share the monthly club's carousing;
95 Of Oxford pranks facetious tells,
96 And — but on Sundays — hears no bells;
97 Sends presents of his choicest fruit,
98 And prunes himself each sapless shoot,
99 Plants colliflow'rs, and boasts to rear
100 The earliest melons of the year;
101 Thinks alteration charming work is,
102 Keeps Bantam cocks, and feeds his turkies;[Page 250]
103 Builds in his copse a favourite bench,
104 And stores the pond with carp and tench. —
105 But ah! too soon his thoughtless breast
106 By cares domestic is opprest;
107 And a third butcher's bill, and brewing,
108 Threaten inevitable ruin:
109 For children fresh expences yet,
110 And Dicky now for school is fit.
111 "Why did I sell my college life
112 "(He cries) for benefice and wife?
113 "Return, ye days! when endless pleasure
114 "I found in reading, or in leisure!
115 "When calm around the common room
116 "I puff'd my daily pipe's perfume!
117 "Rode for a stomach, and inspected
118 "At annual bottlings, corks selected:
119 "And din'd untax'd, untroubled, under
120 "The pourtrait of our pious founder!
121 "When impositions were supply'd
122 "To light my pipe — or sooth my pride —
123 "No cares were then for forward peas
124 "A yearly-longing wife to please:
125 "My thoughts no christ'ning dinner crost,
126 "No children cry'd for butter'd toast;
127 "And ev'ry night I went to bed,
128 "Without a Modus in my head! "
129 Oh! trifling head, and fickle heart!
130 Chagrin'd at whatsoe'er thou art;[Page 251]
131 A dupe to follies yet untry'd,
132 And sick of pleasures, scarce enjoy'd!
133 Each prize possess'd, thy transport ceases,
134 And in pursuit alone it pleases.
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About this text
Title (in Source Edition): The Progress of DISCONTENT. A POEM. Written at Oxford in the Year 1746.
Author: Thomas Warton
Themes: religion; education; parents; children
References: DMI 25820
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