LETTER from SMYRNA to his Sisters at CRUX-EASTON,
1 THE hero who to Smyrna bay
2 From Easton, Hants, pursued his way,
3 Who travers'd seas, and hills and vales,
4 To fright his sisters with his tales,
5 Sing heavenly muse; for what befel
6 Thou saw'st, and only thou can'st tell.
7 Say first (but one thing I premise,
8 I'll not be chid for telling lies;
9 Besides, my grannum us'd to say
10 I always had a knack that way,
11 So, if the love of truth be in ye,
12 Read Strabo, Diodorus, Pliny —
13 But like some authors I could name,
14 Wrapt in myself I lose my theme.)
15 Say first, those very rocks we spy'd,
16 But left 'em on the starboard side,
17 Where Juno urg'd the Trojan's fate.
18 Shield us, ye Gods, from female hate![Page 168]
19 Then how precarious was the doom
20 Of Caesar's line, and mighty Rome,
21 Snatch'd from the very jaws of ruin,
22 And sav'd, poorc
c Dido. Die, for thy undoing,
23 What saw we on Sicilian ground?
24 (A soil in ancient verse renown'd)
25 The self-same spot, or Virgil ly'd,
26 On which the good Anchises dy'd;
27 The fields where Ceres' daughter sported,
28 And where the pretty Cyclops courted.
29 The nymph hard-hearted as the rocks,
30 Refus'd the monster, scorn'd his flocks,
31 And took a shepherd in his stead,
32 With nought but love and worth to plead:
33 An instance of a generous mind
34 That does much honour to your kind,
35 But in an age of fables grew,
36 So possibly it may'nt be true.
37 While on the summit Aetna glows,
38 His shivering sides are chill'd with snows.
39 Beneath, the painted landskip charms;
40 Here infant Spring in Winter's arms
41 Wantons secure; in youthful pride
42 Stands Summer laughing by her side;
43 Ev'n Autumn's yellow robes appear,
44 And one gay scene discloses all the year,
45 Hence to rude Cerigo we came,
46 Known once by Cytherea's name;
47 When Ocean first the goddess bore,
48 She rose on this distinguish'd shore.
49 Here first the happy Paris stopp'd,
50 When Helen from her lord elop'd.
51 With pleas'd reflection I survey'd
52 Each secret grott, each conscious shade;
53 Envy'd his choice, approv'd his flame,
54 And fondly wish'd my lot the same.
55 O were the cause reviv'd again!
56 For charming Queensbury liv'd not then,
57 The radiant fruit, had she been there,
58 Would scarce have fallen to Venus' share;
59 Saturnia's self had wav'd her claim,
60 And modest Pallas blush'd for shame;
61 All had been right: the Phrygian swain
62 Had sigh'd for her, but sigh'd in vain;
63 The fair Oenone joy'd to find,
64 The pains she felt repaid in kind;
65 No rape reveng'd, no room for strife,
66 Atrides might have kept his wife,
67 Old Troy in peace and plenty smil'd —
68 But thed
d Iliad. best poem had been spoil'd.
69 How did my heart with joy run o'er,
70 When to the fam'd Cecropian shore,
71 Wafted by gentle breezes, we
72 Came gliding thro' the smooth still sea![Page 170]
73 While backward rov'd my busy thought
74 On deeds in distant ages wrought;
75 On tyrants gloriously withstood;
76 On seas distain'd with Persian blood;
77 On trophies rais'd o'er hills of slain
78 In Marathon's unrival'd plain.
79 Then, as around I cast my eye,
80 And view'd the pleasing prospect nigh,
81 The land for arms and arts renown'd,
82 Where wit was honour'd, poets crown'd;
83 Whose manners and whose rules refin'd
84 Our souls, and civiliz'd mankind;
85 Or (yet a loftier pitch to raise
86 Our wonder, and compleat its praise)
87 The land thate
e Socrates. Plato's master bore —
88 How did my heart with joy run o'er!
89 Now coasting on the eastern side,
90 We peep'd where Peneus rolls his tide:
91 Where Arethusa came t' appease
92 The shepherd that had lost his bees,
93 And led him to Cyrene's grott;
94 'Tis a long tale, and matters not.
95 Dryden will tell you all that past;
96 See Virgil's Georgics, book the last.
97 I speak on't, but to let you know
98 This grott still stands in statu quo;
99 Of which if any doubts remain,
100 I've proof, as follows, clear and plain.[Page 171]
101 Here, sisters, we such honours met!
102 Such honour I shall ne'er forget.
103 The Goddess (no uncommon case)
104 Proud, I suppose, to shew her place,
105 Or piqu'd perhaps at your renown,
106 Sent Boreas to invite us down;
107 And he so press'd it, that we us'd
108 Some pains to get ourselves excus'd.
109 My brother shipmates, all in haste
110 Declar'd, that shells were not their taste;
111 And I hadf
f At Crux-Easton. somewhere seen, you know,
112 A finer grott than she could shew.
113 Hence let the Muse to Delos roam,
114 Or Nio, fam'd for Homer's tomb;
115 To Naxos, known in ancient time
116 For Bacchus' love, for Theseus' crime.
117 Can she the Lesbian vine forget
118 Whence Horace reinforc'd his wit?
119 Where the fam'd harp Arion strung
120 Nor play'd more sweet than Sapho sung?
121 Could the old bards revive again,
122 How would they mourn th' inverted scene!
123 Scarce with the barren waste acquainted,
124 They once so beautifully painted.
125 And here, 'twixt friends, I needs must say,
126 But let it go no farther, pray,
127 These sung-up, cry'd up countries are
128 Displeasing, rugged, black, and bare;[Page 172]
129 And all I've yet beheld or known
130 Serve only to endear my own.
131 The matters I shall next disclose,
132 'Tis likely may be wrapp'd in prose;
133 But verse methought would suit these better,
134 Besides, it lengthens out my letter.
135 Read then, dear girls, with kind regard,
136 What comes so far, what comes so hard;
137 And to our mother too make known,
138 How travelling has improv'd her son.
139 Let not malicious critics join
140 Pope's homespun rhimes in rank with mine,
141 Form'd on that very spot of earth,
142 Where Homer's self receiv'd his birth;
143 Add, as I said, t' enhance their worth,
144 The pains they cost in bringing forth;
145 While his, as all mankind agrees,
146 Tho' wrote with care, are wrote with ease.