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1 TO sing of beauty and its pow'r divine,
2 Let other Bards invoke the tuneful Nine;
3 Another theme demands my humble lays,
4 A theme illum'd by Truth's resplendent rays;
5 To no fictitious scenes the Muse shall rove,
6 Nor seek, by frenzy led, the Delphic grove;
7 Alas! the mournful scenes we mean to shew,
8 In real, not in fancied life we know:
9 The ills from Genius' source that daily spring,
10 My pensive Muse in plaintive strains shall sing.
11 All hail! ye brethren of the tuneful art;
12 Whether ye lull the ear, or charm the heart;
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13 Whether beneath some half-roof'd shed you lie,
14 Unpity'd live, or unlamented die;
15 Or if (severer fate) your sacred lays
16 Proclaim some titled Patron's fulsome praise;
17 O list awhile to my untutor'd song,
18 And bless those numbers which to you belong.
19 In early youth, when all our joys are pure,
20 And pleasure wooes us with a harmless lure;
21 When, blest, and thoughtless of our future fate,
22 Around the cheerful hearth we lively prate;
23 Whilst tales of goblins stern, and fairies kind,
24 Impress with pleasing awe the infant mind;
25 Or, if serener skies to fields invite,
26 We chace, with anxious steps, the may-bug's flight;
27 Or else with pigmy hand the mead despoil,
28 And cowslip's chaplet weave with curious toil;
29 E'en then, the hapless breast that Genius lights
30 With double rapture hails these first delights;
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31 To Fancy's sway he yields his guileless heart,
32 Unaw'd by fashion, and unspoil'd by art;
33 To him who Fancy's magic influence knows,
34 With brighter glow appears the blushing rose;
35 By Nature form'd to relish all her sweets,
36 Her daisy'd meadows, and her green retreats.
37 At length to school remov'd, the happy boy,
38 The mother's earnest of much future joy;
39 Forsakes the scene of dear domestic bliss,
40 The father's smile, the mother's ardent kiss;
41 Nor quits he yet without some falling tear
42 Those fields his infant joys have render'd dear.
43 At first, the clamour of the buzzing schools,
44 And classic Lily's salutary rules,
45 With terrors new his infant mind appall,
46 And present fears his pristine joys recall;
47 But when the dry grammarian's toils are o'er,
48 And Ovid opens all his tender store;
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49 With kindred flame his ardent bosom glows,
50 His version pure the rising genius shews;
51 And the pleas'd master sees, with flatt'ring hope,
52 The early efforts of a future Pope.
53 Now partial friends predict his rising fame,
54 With hand unweary'd fan Ambition's flame;
55 At length some guardian care removes the youth
56 To those blest scenes of wisdom, and of truth,
57 Where holy Science holds her peaceful reign,
58 Where Genius wanders o'er the classic plain;
59 On Isis' verdant bank he shapes his way,
60 'Mid scenes that heard a Warton's virgin lay;
61 Or lingers, Cam, beside thy sedgy stream,
62 Of Mason's matchless verse the darling theme.
63 Here Science wooes him with her tempting lore;
64 He pants while she unfolds her mental store;
65 With eager soul seizes the valued prize,
66 Ambition prompts him, and his prospects rise:
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67 Still where, devoid of care, the stripling roves,
68 Beside the stream, or through the nodding groves;
69 Each lively thought the hallow'd Muse inspires;
70 Big with idea, glowing with her fires,
71 He gazes round. Genius adores the youth,
72 And leads him smiling to the shrine of Truth.
73 Perchance, lov'd Isis, by thy gentle stream
74 The wahdering youth pursues his wayward theme;
75 And as thy waves in slow succession glide,
76 To mix with Ocean's undistinguish'd tide,
77 With fond expectance waits th' eventful hour,
78 That yields departure from thy much-lov'd bow'r,
79 With hopes of fame his hapless bosom glows,
80 Nor more, Content, thy peaceful empire knows.
81 Now glittering visions in his sleep appear,
82 The splendid premium, and the patron Peer;
83 By Hope deluded, and Ambition led,
84 The willing Muse he vows for life to wed.
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85 With her he seeks that splendid sink of vice,
86 Where Peers, instead of Poets, have their price.
87 The Drama now his constant thoughts engage,
88 With eager eye he rifles Shakspeare's page,
89 And hopes, like Murphy, to adorn the stage.
90 But though, like him, he matchless pow'rs possess,
91 Though Phoebus' self the fond attempt should bless;
92 Yet ere his numbers meet the public eye
93 A thousand deaths the hapless Bard must die;
94 Condemn'd to torture by good Larpent's pen,
95 Who cuts by patent, and may come again;
96 Larpent! who dare the pouring wight arraign!
97 Lo! Genius struggles in his torpid chain.
98 Near him Apollo veils his heav'nly fires,
99 And ev'ry Muse with Larpent's name expires.
100 At length arrives the dread, the aweful night,
101 When the maim'd infant sees the burst of light.
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102 The boxes fill'd with noisy froth the pit
103 Replete alone with malice and with wit.
104 With vulgar dissonance the gall'ries arm'd,
105 By nought but Edwin's monkey visage charm'd,
106 In senseless clamour their huge prowess shew,
107 And fright with noise alone the Ton below;
108 Yielding rich harvest to the critic flail,
109 Nurse Prologue then repeats her wonted tale.
110 At length to ev'ry gazing eye appears,
111 Who opes with Nature's key the source of tears.
112 Critics, though stern, awhile their voice suspend,
113 Till, charm'd by Siddons, at her shrine they bend;
114 Yet what avails the tribute Nature pays?
115 Her tenderest tear is but her noblest praise;
116 The sons of sordid wealth and splendid pow'r
117 Feel but the sorrows of the passing hour:
118 For, mark the name 'mid glory's glitt'ring roll,
119 Where Mis'ry scowl'd not on th' aspiring soul.
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120 Know those who wept o'er woes his fancy fram'd
121 Withheld the bread an Otway's hunger claim'd.
122 Ill-fated Otway, o'er whose melting page
123 Soft Pity's tear shall fall in ev'ry age,
124 If ghastly Famine, with unhallow'd pow'r,
125 Triumphant mark'd his last expiring hour.
126 Ah! who, by Genius bless'd, yet curs'd by Fate,
127 Can for his sorrow hope a shorter date?
128 Yet list, ye hapless sons of magic verse,
129 While your deep woe my humble lays rehearse,
130 From Fame's bright source let Hope refulgent shine;
131 For, yours alone is great Apollo's shrine:
132 A shrine to which the fool shall never bend;
133 Or, off'ring there, the god shall ne'er befriend.
134 The time may come, when England's rocky shore
135 Shall prize the balance of the world no more,
136 When some proud victor o'er this happy land
137 Shall impious stretch the tyrant's fated wand,
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138 Whene'er, o'er Britain doom'd to reign no more,
139 Her shrine removing to the Western shore,
140 Sweet Freedom, heav'nly maid, shall wing her way,
141 And to new worlds disclose her lustrous day;
142 The Nine lov'd partners of each former flight,
143 Disdaining still to own a tyrant's right,
144 With her shall seek the bless'd, the favour'd clime,
145 Where each shall wait the aweful close of Time.
146 The jealous guardians of your well-earn'd fame
147 Shall to the tawney tribes your worth proclaim.
148 And, whilst around new empires rise to view,
149 Their mingled praise shall still belong to you.
150 Yet what avails this bright, this flatt'ring thought,
151 By Hope inspir'd, nay, more, by Reason taught;
152 Since, ere her pillar Fame begins to raise,
153 The fated Bard thy debt, O Nature, pays?
154 When all the varied ills of life are o'er,
155 And slighted worth is doom'd to feel no more,
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156 When hears'd in death the woe-worn Genius sleeps,
157 Then o'er his grave a grateful country weeps,
158 And loads with costly pile the hallow'd spot,
159 Where all that Famine spar'd is doom'd to rot.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): THE AUTHOR. TO ARTHUR MURPHY, ESQ.
Themes: poetry; literature; writing
Genres: address

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Source edition

Poems: by the late George-Monck Berkeley, Esq. ... With a preface by the editor, consisting of some anecdotes of Mr. Monck Berkeley and several of his friends. London: printed by J. Nichols; and sold by Messrs. Leigh and Sotheby; Mr. Edwards; Mr. Cooke, Oxford; Mr. Todd, York; Messrs. Simmons and Co.; Messrs. Flackton, Marrable, and Claris; and Mr. Bristow, Canterbury, 1797, pp. 73-82. viii,DCXXXII,212p.,plate: port.; 4⁰. (ESTC T142950; OTA K111746.000)

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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.

Other works by George Monck Berkeley