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Beauties, and delicate Appearances of Nature; how much in vain, your Ladyship's Taste will, I am afraid, but too soon discover: Yet would it still be a much easier Task to find Expression for all that Variety of Colour, Form, and Fragrance, which enrich the Season I describe, than to speak the many nameless Graces, and Native Riches of a Mind capable so much at once to relish Solitude, and adorn Society. To whom then could these Sheets be more properly inscribed than to You, Madam, whose Influence in the World can give them the Protection they want, while your fine Imagination, and intimate Acquaintance with Rural Nature, will recommend them with the greatest Advantage to your favourable Notice ? Happy! if I have hit any of those Images, and correspondent Sentiments, your calm Evening Walks, in the most delightful Retirement, have oft inspired. I could add too, that as this Poem grew up under your Encouragement, it has therefore a natural Claim to your Patronage. Should You read it with Approbation, it's Musick shall not droop; and should it have the good Fortune to deserve your Smiles, it's Roses shall not wither. But, where the Subject is so tempting, lest I begin my Poem before the Dedication is ended, I here break short, and beg Leave to subscribe my self, with the highest Respect,
That the following Poem appears at present in Publick, is not any way in Prejudice of the Proposals I lately Published for Printing the Four Seasons, etc. by Subscription, but at the Solicitation of some of my Friends who had seen it in Manuscript, and the better to carry on a Work I stand engaged to finish. For Subscription is now at its last Gasp, and the World seems to have got the better of that many-headed Monster. However, those Gentlemen and Ladies who have been, or may hereafter be so good as to honour me with their Names, shall have the Book next Winter according to my Proposals: And if it should, in any Degree, be judged worthy their Encouragement, I have my best Reward.
The Subject, Spring. Described as a Personage descending on Earth. Address to Lady Hartford. Winter described as a Personage, resigning the Dominion of the Year. Spring, yet unconfirmed. The Sun in Taurus fixes the Spring Quarter. First Effects of the Spring, in softening Nature. Plowing. Sowing and Harrowing. The Praise of Agriculture. Particularly applied to Britons. Effects of the Spring in colouring the Fields, and unfolding the Leaves. The Country in Blossom. A Blight. A Philosophical Account of Insects, producing the
1) Only found in the first edition (1728).
2) Only found in the second edition of "Spring” (1729), the text of which is the same as that of the first.
Blight. A Spring-Shower. The Sun breaking out in the Evening after the Rain. The Rainbow. Herbs produced ; the Food of Man in the first Ages of the World. Then, the Golden Age. As described by the Poets. The Degeneracy of Mankind from that State. On This, the Deluge, and Effects thereof, particularly in shortening the Life of Man. Hence, a Vegetable Diet recommended. The Cruelty of feeding on Animals. Flowers in Prospect. The Difficulty of describing that delicate Part of the Season. A Wild Flower-Piece. A Garden Flower-Piece. An Apostrophe to the Supream Being, as the Soul of Vegetation. Influence of the Spring on Birds; and first of their Singing.
of their Singing. Their Courtship. Building their Nests. Brooding, and Care of their Young Arts to secure them. Against confining them in Cages, and particularly the Nightingale; her Lamentation for her Young. Teaching their Young to fly. The Eagle trying his at the Sun. A Piece of Houshold-Fowl. Influence of the Spring on other Animals, the Bull, Horse etc. A Landskip of the Shepherd tending his Flock, with Lambs frisking around him; and a Transition in Praise of our present Happy Constitution. This various Instinct in Brutes ascribed to the continual, and unbounded Energy of Divine Providence. Influence of the Spring on Man, inspiring an universal Benevolence, the Love of Mankind, and of Nature. Accounted for from that general Harmony which then attunes the World. Effects of the Spring in Woman; with a Caution to the Fair Sex. Hence a Dissuasive from the feverish, extravagant, and unchastised Passion of Love; in an Account of its false Raptures, Pangs, and Jealousies. The Whole concludes with the Happiness of a pure, mutual Love, founded on Friendship, conducted with Honour, and confirmed by Children.
The subject propos’d. Inscribed to Lady Hartforda). This Season is described as it affects the various parts of Nature, ascending from the lower to the higher; and mixed with Digressions arising from the subject. Its influence on inanimate Matter, on Vegetables, on brute Animals, and last on Man; concluding with a Dissuasive from the wild and irregular passion of love, opposed to that of a purer and more reasonable kind.)
1) Appears for the first time in the quarto of 1730. In the editions of 1744 and 1746 the following variations occur:
?) to the Countess of Hartford. 3) of a pure and happy Kind.
The text reproduced in full (A) is that of the first ed. (1728). B
P for Pope. The bracketed words are cancelled.
B5 C5 D5
COME, gentle Spring, Æthereal Mildness, come,
Oh Hertford, fitted, or to shine in Courts
Which thy own Season paints, when Nature all 10 Is blooming, and benevolent like Thee.
And see where şurly Winter passes off, Far to the North, and calls his ruffian Blasts; His Blasts obey, and quit the howling Hill,
B 9 Which ] That
And from the Bosom of yon dropping Cloud,