TO HER GRACE The Duchess Dowager of PORTLAND[ed.]
Margaret Cavendish Bentinck (1715-1785), a friend of Elizabeth Montagu's.
1 Nature! thou active Principle, whose depths
2 The curious mind wou'd willingly explore;
3 Thou, who in universal order sway'st
4 The jarring atoms of a various world!
5 The Sceptic's Deity! whose wilder'd soul
6 Ne'er reach'd, by Faith, thy first stupendous cause.
7 Immediate emanation of a God!
8 O, swell the untaught rapture; bid it rise[Page 98]
9 Spontaneous in my bare uncultur'd mind!
10 Thou shalt aspire, when Gratitude assists,
11 To nobler heights than Science ever dar'd.
12 Then found with extacy a Portland's name,
13 And bid it live beyond the wreck of worlds.
14 For her let Fancy pierce the deep abyss,
15 Dart thro' the liquid element, and tread
16 The shelly pavement, dazzling with the glare
17 Of varied hues; the lively coral here,
18 Here the pale pearl; the lovely vivid green
19 Of brilliant onyx, and the sapphire's blue.
20 The Tritons sporting in their oozy grots,
21 Forget to heave the tempest-loving wave;
22 The huge Leviathan, which late had'scap'd
23 Norwegian toils, and, stung by Fear, descends[Page 99]
24 More swift than eagles mount meridian heights,
25 Feels rapture added to the joy of life,
26 Whilst Neptune, from his floating couch, thus speaks:
27 "Portland my deep dominions dares explore,
28 "Nor here alone the Naturalist pursues
29 "Those hidden gems by vulgar souls ne'er priz'd;
30 "For her the bold adventurer shall dare
31 "The golden serpent in Arabian wilds,
32 "Asphaltites, and the venerable Nile,
33 "Pluck the fair apple which Gomorrah's flame
34 "Has fill'd with sulphur; tread once hallow'd earth
35 "Where ancient Sion stood; those heights ascend
36 "Which pious Noah, oft Deucalion call'd,
37 "First hail'd with grateful joy, and fearless press
38 "The Caspian wave: for her the rover seeks
39 "The scatter'd remnants of a ruin'd world. [Page 100]
40 "But that the surge yon planet wou'd o'erwhelm,
41 "The roots of Ocean wou'd I throw to land,
42 "And all my gems shou'd meet her generous eye;
43 "— It must not be; great Jove's indignant frown
44 "Wou'd shrink each coward wave beneath his fellow.
45 "This boon refus'd, I give a nobler still
46 "In sweet exchange; magnificently good,
47 "Her godlike soul the wanderer shall sooth,
48 "Chace the sad gloom from Sorrow's woe-sunk eye,
49 "And bid each future minute fly in peace."
50 Thus spake the God, the list'ning surges catch
51 The potent sounds, and wast them to the shore;
52 Echo to Mantuan groves the strain prolong'd;
53 But Tityrus had long forsook the shade;
54 And, since his absence, Melody has mourn'd.