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To your new taste the poet of this day
Was by a friend advised to form his play.
Had Valentini, musically coy,
Shunned Phædra's arms and scorned the proffered joy
It had not moved your wonder to have seen
An eunuch fly from an enamoured queen :
How would it please should she in English speak,
And could Hippolitus reply in Greek!
But he, a stranger to your modish way,
By your old rules must stand or fall to-day,
And hopes you will your foreign taste command,
To bear, for once, with what you understand.
AN ODE FOR ST. CECILIA'S DAY.
WRITTEN BY MR. ADDISON.
SET TO MUSIC BY MR. DANIEL PURCELL. Performed at oxford, 1699.
PREPARE the hallowed strain, my muse,
Thy softest sounds, and sweetest numbers choose;
The bright Cecilia's praise rehearse,
In warbling words, and gliding verse,
That smoothly run into a song,
And gently die away, and melt upon the tongue.
First let the sprightly violin
The joyful melody begin,
And none of all her strings be mute;
While the sharp sound and shriller lay,
In sweet harmonious notes decay,
Softened and mellowed by the flute.
1 The flute that sweetly can complain,
Dissolve the frozen nymph's disdain;
Panting sympathy impart,
Till she partake her lover's smart.
Next let the solemn organ join
Religious airs and strains divine,
Such as may lift us to the skies,
And set all heaven before our eyes:
1 The four last lines of the second and third stanzas were added by Mr. Tate.
Such as may lift us to the skies,
So far at least till they
Descend with kind surprise,
And meet our pious harmony half-way.
Let then the trumpet's piercing sound
Our ravished ears with pleasure wound,
The soul o'er-powering with delight;
As with a quick uncommon ray
A streak of lightning clears the day,
And flashes on the sight.
Let echo, too, perform her part,
Prolonging every note with art;
And in a low, expiring strain
Play all the comfort o'er again.
Such were the tuneful notes that hung
On bright Cecilia's charming tongue:
Notes that sacred heats inspired,
And with religious ardour fired:
The love-sick youth, that long suppressed
His smothered passion in his breast,
No sooner heard the warbling dame
But, by the secret influence turned,
He felt a new diviner flame,
And with devotion burned.
With ravished soul, and looks amazed,
Upon her beauteous face he gazed;
Nor made his amorous complaint:
In vain her eyes his heart had charmed,
Her heavenly voice her eyes disarmed,
And changed the lover to a saint.
And now the choir complete rejoices,
With trembling strings and melting voices,
The tuneful ferment rises high,
And works with mingled melody:
Quick divisions ran their rounds,
A thousand trills and quivering sounds,
In airy circles o'er us fly,
Till, wafted by a gentle breeze,
They faint and languish by degrees,
And at a distance die.
FROM OVID DE FASTIS, LIB. III. EL. I.
Blanda quies victis furtim subrepit ocellis, &c.
As the fair Vestal to the fountain came,
(Let none be startled at a Vestal's name,)
Tired with the walk, she laid her down to rest,
And to the winds exposed her glowing breast,
To take the freshness of the morning air,
And gathered in a knot her flowing hair;
While thus she rested, on her arm reclined,
The hoary willows waving with the wind,
And feathered choirs that warbled in the shade,
And purling stream that through the meadow strayed, In drowsy murmurs lulled the gentle maid.
The god of war beheld the virgin lie,
The god beheld her with a lover's eye ;
And by so tempting an occasion pressed,
The beauteous maid, whom he beheld, possessed:
Conceiving as she slept, her fruitful womb
Swelled with the founder of immortal Rome.
COWLEY'S EPITAPH ON HIMSELF.
TRANSLATED BY MR. ADDISON.
FROM life's superfluous cares enlarged,
His debt of human toil discharged,
Here Cowley lies! beneath this shed,
To every worldly interest dead;
With decent poverty content,
His hours of ease not idly spent;
To fortune's goods a foe profest,
And hating wealth by all carest.
'Tis true he's dead; for oh! how small
A spot of earth is now his all;
Oh! wish that earth may lightly lay,
And every care be far away;
Bring flowers; the short-lived roses bring,
To life deceased fit offering:
And sweets around the poet strow,
While yet with life his ashes glow.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE
[This is evidently the original draught of Addison's celebrated LETTER FROM ITALY,' and is entirely in his own hand-writing. It is preserved in the Bodleian Library, and from certain marks appears to have been in the printer's hands, and printed in folio. For the communication of this interesting document the Editor is indebted to the kindness of the Rev. Dr. Bandinel.]
While Britain's thoughts on rising wars are bent,
And anxious monarchs dread the dark event,
Her prudent bards provide themselves betimes
With stores of flights, and magazines of rhymes ;
Prepared already in exalted verse
The yet unpurchased trophies to rehearse.
Namur or Dunkirk one attacks in form,
Describes the batteries and prepares the storm.
Remorseless in his ire, the French he galls
At once with similes and cannon balls,
Till to the tenth dull page the siege extends,
Where the town parleys and the poem ends.
Others on naval fights consume their rage,
And in the shock of mingling fleets engage,
Describing death in all its ghastliest forms,
Of floods, and fires, and hurricanes, and storms:
Pleased with the noisy rhymes, and vainly proud,
They blame the lingering war, and thirsty for blood;
Nor yet foresee, by the frail muse beguiled,
The paper which with so much pains they've spoiled
The hidden lumber of a shop shall lie,
Or filled with bombast and tobacco die.
From the loud scene of business far retired,
With milder themes and fainter raptures fired,
To you, my Lord, my grateful muse conveys
Soft gentle sounds, and unambitious lays,
That, big with landscapes, paint the happy place
Where all the best of the melodious race,
By more than mortal inspirations warmed,
From age to age the listening world have charmed.2
' Printed in our vol. i. p. 29.
All the preceding 30 lines are additional and unpublished.
side I turn my ravisht eyes
Gay gilded scenes and shining prospects rise,
Poetic fields encompass me around,
And still I seem to tread on classic ground;
For here the muse so oft her harp has strung,
That not a mountain rears his head unsung,
Renowned in verse each shady thicket grows,
And every stream in heavenly numbers flows.
How am I pleased to search the hills and woods
For rising springs and celebrated floods!
To view the Nar, impetuous2 in his course,
And trace the smooth Clitumnus to his source;
To see the Mincio draw his watery store
Through the long windings of a fruitful shore,
And hoary Albula's infected tide
O'er the warm bed of smoking sulphur glide.3
Sometimes, misguided by the tuneful throng,
I look for streams immortalized in song,
That lost in silence and oblivion lie,
(Dumb are their fountains and their currents1 dry,) Yet run for ever by the muse's skill,
And in the smooth description murmur still.
Sometimes to gentle Tiber I retire,
And the famed river's empty shores admire,
That, destitute of strength, derives its course
From thrifty urns, and an unfruitful source,
Yet, sung so often in poetic lays,
With scorn the Danube and the Nile surveys.
So high the deathless muse exalts her theme!
Such was the Boyne, a poor inglorious stream,
That through Hibernian vales obscurely strayed,
And unobserved in wild meanders played,
Till by your lines and Nassau's sword renowned,
Its rising billows through the world resound,
Fired with a thousand raptures I survey
Eridanus through flowery meadows stray,
The king of floods! that, rolling o'er the plains,
The towering Alps of half their moisture drains,
And proudly swoln with a whole winter's snows,
Distributes wealth and plenty where he flows