The 1767 descriptive poem
You will most likely be surprised at the inclosed fantastical inventory of certain of your goods and chattels. If it sho’d amuse You for half an hour, the author of it will have fully obtained his end. He is under no apprehensions of your suspecting who he is: but, if he keeps his own council, he is sure You can never convict him. Certain as he is of remaining concealed, he has so insuperable an objection to anything of his composition appearing in print, that he most seriously enjoins You by no means to let it escape to the press. This request he is confident You will comply with, as Your doing otherwise wo’d give him real uneasiness.
He has nothing further to add but to assure You he thinks all he says, tho’ said in verse, & is
Anson, to no man the celestial Muse
Her festive strain of merited applause
Bears gladlier, than to him whose generous aid
Protects & cherishes the sister arts
Of imitation. From the Muse proceeds
All Harmony however to the sense
Directed, immaterial: in the grace
Of fair proportion, & harmonious form
Perceptible, as in the number’d notes
Of melting music, or of measured verse:
The Muse’s gift in either: Her’s the lyre
Of ORPHEUS, Her’s the SYRACUSAN reed,
A RAPHAEL’S pencil Her’s & Her’s the touch
Whose exquisite sensation shapes the block
To forms of GRECIAN beauty. She well pleased
On the green margin of the Silver TRENT
Sees at thy bidding ANSON, SCENES ARISE
That might adorn ILISSUS, or the vale
of TEMPE: glittering domes, & obelisks,
Pillars & pyramids with pointed top
Piercing the lawrel’s shade: or where the slope
Ascending gradual opens to the sun,
Full to his orient beam the trophied Arch
Turns it’s vast portal, worthy to bestride
The sacred road triumphant heroes passed via sacra
To ROME’S dread CAPITOL. Along the mead,
Reflected by the clear translucent stream,
See where the stately colonnade extends
It’s pillar’d length: to shade the sculptured forms
Of Demigods or Heroes, & protect
From the cold northern blast each tenderer plant,
The fragrant progeny of milder climes;
Orange, or lime, or cedro from the banks
Of ARNO, or PARTHENOPE’S soft shore.
These in fair order rainged, stage above stage;
Rear to the lofty roof their green heads, crowned
At once with flowers profuse, & golden fruit,
Asilvan theatre! & intermixt
Each aromatic shrub or scented leaf,
Myrtle, & sweet geranium, cassia, balms,
And balsams from ARABIA’S spicy vales.
Here while we breathe perfume, the ravish’d eye
Surveys the miracles of GRECIAN art
In living sculptures, godlike shapes, & forms
Excelling human! Light-robed FLORA first,
Protectress of the place, with garlands crowned,
Scatters with liberal hand a waste of flowers.
Nor shall the learned eye deem here misplaced,
O smooth ADONIS, thy transcendent form.
How shall the Muse address Thee, lovely Youth,
How celebrate? a mortal or a God,
Doubtfull! for wide extended thy renown,
And various: through mysterious EGYPT’S bounds
In temples, & with sacrifice adored,
OSIRIS! while on TYRE’S resplendent shore
With annual obsequies, & plaintive song
SIDONIAN virgins mourn their TAMMUZ slain.
But every GRECIAN Muse, thro’ DORIC land,
Thro’ SICILY’S resounding vales, still chaunts
ADONIS’ fate & CITHEREA’S woe.
Thus varying they record Thee: but thy grace,
And matchless beauty, under every name,
In every situation, all extoll,
In life, in death, in action, or repose,
Or sleeping in PROSPERINA’S cold lap,
Or walking in CIPRIGNA’S rosy arms.
Thy godlike semblance next commands the song,
O BROMIUS, O LENËAN; thy curle’d locks
With ivy-berries crowne’d, thy awfull head
Averted, air majestic, & thy youth
Celestial, brightest progeny of JOVE!
But what that Hero form, whose gloomy brow
Contracted, speaks the workings of his soul?
Eager his looks & piercing, but with care
Emaciate his sunk cheek: The Dagger marks
Th’Assertor of ROME’S liberties in vain
CASSIUS the last of ROMANS. How shall words
Paint the firm station, spirit, strength & grace
Of the young ATHLETE? How, MELPOMINÈ,
Thy flowering figure? o’er thy vocal she;
Inclined, in act preluding, to excite
Notes, that resounding thro’ the star-paved courts
Of high JOVE feasting with th’immortal Gods
Redouble their beatitude, & take
On earth the ravish’d souls of righteous men
And wrap them in ELYSIUM: but th’accursed,
And reprobate, to wrath devoted, them
Strange horror seizes, flight, & mild despair,
Troubled, & frantic at the sacred sound.
Nor to these proud arcades alone confined
The works of ancient art; behold the lawn,
With circling woods surrounded, skirted wide
With many a Term, & many a laurel’d bust,
Poet or Caesar; many a swelling urn,
ETRUSCAN wrought, emboss’d with high relief,
Of various argument. A Virgin here
Dire sacrifice to NEMESIS DIVINE,
Bleeds on the horrid altar. To the shore
Here PHRIGIAN PARIS leads his ravished bride
Bright ARGIVE HELLEN, source of endless woes.
Observe you rising hillock’s form,
Whose verdant top the spiry cypress crowns,
And the dim ilex spreads her dusky arms
To shade th’ARCADIAN Shepherdesses tomb:
Of PARIAN stone the pile: of modern hands
The work, but emulous of ancient praise.
Let not the Muse inquisitive presume
With rash interpretation to disclose
The mystic ciphers that conceal her name.
Whate’er her country, or however call’d
Peace to her gentle shade. The Muse shall oft
Frequent her honour’d shrine, with solemn song
Lyric, or elegiac: oft when eve
Gives respite from the long days weary task,
And dewy HESPER brightens in the west,
Here shall the constant hind, & plighted maid
Meet, & exchange their tokens, & their vows
Of faith, & love. Here weeping Spring shall shed
Her first pale snowdrops, bluebells, violets,
And Summer’s earliest roses blossom here.
Now new scenes open, other fabrics rise,
Unusual forms! from climates far remote,
Farther than DORIC, or IÖNIAN arts
Extended, or ROME’S conquering eagles flew:
By thy adventurous Race not unexplored,
ANSON, whose indefatigable course
Proceeding circled the terraqueous globe:
Hence on the TRENT, SINËAN trophies shine:
Airy Pagodas, elegant & light,
With painted balustrades, & gilded spires;
And Temples, that like broad pavilions spread
Their ample roofs, with listed colours gay,
Green, azure, purple, & distinct with gold;
Here ‘mid circumfluous waters aptly placed
Cast a mixt radiance o’er the trembling stream.
From hence, in wide expanse, the level mead
Spreads her smooth surface of continued green,
Not boundless, tho’ extensive: all around
High grounds, & waving woods, at distance due
Close the fair landscape: INGESTRE’S awfull shades,
TIXAL’S grey towers, & CHARTLEY’S castled hill.
Westward, with near approach, & bolder swell,
The wavy hills rise mountainous, befringed
With gloomy groves of never-changing leaf,
Cedar, or pine, or fir: plantations vast,
And venerable! not in curious lines
Restrained, & cramp’d, nor on the summits clump’d
Bleak, & unthrifty; but profusely spread
Along the mountain slope for many a mile
To shade a country. Such the groves that grace
The shaggy sides of APPENNINE, or huge
PIRENE. Underneath a limpid lake
The molten chrystal of an hundred rills
Gushing from purple CANK’S salubrious sides
Collects, expansion pure, with verdant isles
Inlaid it’s lucid bosom, & it’s shores
With marble temples, glittering structures, crowned,
And cheif thy stately tower ANDRONICUS
CYRRHESTES, TEMPLE OF THE WINDS since call’d.
Mark, on the gorgeous frize in high relief
Embossed, the powers of air, gigantic forms.
First BOREAS, tyrant of the northern blast,
Known by his surly frown, & weathered shell,
Trump of the howling tempest. Caecias keen
Shakes from his brazen shield the rattling hail.
A youthfull form the next, of aspect mild,
Bright Genius of the morning’s fragrant gale,
Sheds from his robe’s loose bosom fruits & flowers,
APELIOTES messenger of day.
Then EURUS, NOTUS, ZEPHYRUS, & LIBS,
And SKIRON hot, whose magazine of fire
Burns the green herb, & blast the sickening year:
High on the roof the glittering TRYTON poised,
The adverse shore a TUSCAN colonnade
Superbly bounds, beneath whose marble floor
The glassy wave escapes with liquid lapse
Smooth sliding; but a non precipitant
Roars o’er the rough cascade with dashing sound,
And rushes into TRENT. Recoiling TRENT
Shrinks from the mighty tribute. But too long
The pompous works of art engross the strain
Inanimate & lifeless, while with life
The landscape round us swarms: earth, air, & flood
Peopled! with stately herds the meadows throng’d
With generous steeds the pastures, & the hills
With sheep, of various climes, & varied fleece,
Innumerable! On the lakes & streams
The aquatic fowl their silver bosoms have,
Of every size & colour, from the swan’s
Majestic port, & shelldrake’s glossy plume,
To the dun shoals of waterhens & cootes,
Whose dusky myriads darken half the wave.
To every creature that the vital air
Sustains, is ANSON’S kind benevolence
Extended: beasts of chace, & fowl of game
Secure in his protection roam at large
Unpersecuted. Never here was heard
The hunter’s barbarous shout, or clam’rous horn
To fright the peacefull shades; or murd’ring gun
To stain the hospitable fields with blood.
Nor to the love of arts alone (tho’ that
Well understood is praise) ascribe we all
These stately fabrics, this so splendid scene:
Humanity, attention to relieve
Industrious want, instruct, emply the poor,
His better motive. Sacred Charity
Bids every pile with happier auspice rise.
The sumptuous Mansion claims the closing song,
Adorned with all that elegance or taste
Can furnish, to content the judging eye,
Amuse or satisfie the curious search
Of leisure or of learning. Forms that boast
A RAPHAEL’S touch, breathe on the glowing walls,
And vaulted roofs: whatever modern art
Can add, in stucco raised, or fretted gold;
Or ATTIC STUART’S learned hand supply
Of ornament antique, & chaste design.
Nor shall the CLASSIC Library remain
Unsung, replete with learning’s genuine stores:
Not metaphysic dream, or sceptic doubt,
Or fierce polemic wrangle; but the songs
Of ancient GREECE, that universal strain
That earth, & Heaven applauded, & the Gods
With rapture stoop’d to hear: And what (tho’ cramp’d
In language to severer tone confined)
Imperial ROME in manly cadence sung.
That too which later in no barbarous age,
When every art revived, & LEO reigned,
On ARNO’S flowery banks, the TUSCAN Muse
Warbled at will in pleasure’s myrtle bower.
The song was careless, but the harmony
(What can it less when TUSCAN Muses sing?)
Still takes the list’ning ear with ravishment,
And braves the snarling Critic’s idle rage.
Here by no country, in no age, surpass’d,
SHAKESPEAR’S immortal page, & MILTON’S song
Celestial. Nor to books alone confined
Thy learned Archives: here whate’er remains
Of rare antiquity (or for design
Curious, or circumstance, or workmanship
Inimmitable) in Coins, or graven Gemms,
Camëo or Intaglio; sardonix,
Cenilean ophite, amethyst, the blood
Cornelian, & the jasper’s flowery vein.
Endless the task & the irksome to attempt
Particular discription, & the song
Already droops, tho’ gorgeous the detail.
Let Envy snarle, & Ignorance condemn
And scouling Critics censure – All within
Profuse of ornament, the scene without
Too crowded! – Little matters their applause,
Or blame, while Science & the Muse approve.
The Muse thy works, e’en Piety approves
Thy filial attachment to the soil,
The seat where fortune cast thy humbler lott
In no unpleasing scene: not BRITAIN boasts,
Throughout her varied isle, a fairer hill,
A greener meadow, or a clearer stream.
Along the sunny ridge that overhangs
Eastward thy fair demesnes,& wide commands,
Oft let me wander, when the morning ray
First gilds thy groves & streams, & glittering towers,
And meditate my uncouth DORIC lay:
While the bright prospect to my mind recalls
Scenes once beheld with rapture, from the heights
Of CUMA, or HERCULEAN TIBUR’S brow.
These to Thee, ANSON, from a nameless Bard,
Who seeks nor praise, nor patron: One whose Muse,
Conscious of all her dignity (for Heaven
Of old ordained the Muse, by firm decree,
Severe dispens’eress of authentic fame
When virtue claims the wreath) will ne’er disgrace
Her genuine function, prostitute her praise
To curs’d Ambition, Power, or worthless Wealth,
With servile adulation: Pleased to bear
Her writings to Benevolence like Thine.
– Godlike shapes & forms
That the Grecian Statuaries, especially in the figures of their Deities, attempted a degree of beauty not to be found in nature, there is no doubt. The Apollo Belvidere is still a proof of it: his proportions are not human: his air (the result of those proportions) is divine. Raphael did the same in his letter to Count Balthazar Castiglione, speaking of his Galatea, he says “Perfect beauty being so seldom found, I avail myself of a certain Idëal image.
Nor shall the learned eye deem here misplaced,
O smooth Adonis, thy transcendent form.
Adonis, Thammuz, & Osiris, are Greek, Phenician & Egyptian names for the same person. – His statue not misplaced in a Greenhouse, because under all these denominations, he is looked upon by the best Mythologists as the Power of Vegitation: particularly the Vegitation of Corn: whence the fable that six months he lieth in Prosperine’s lap, that is, whilst the seed of corn continueth under ground, & the other six months, that is Spring & Summer, he lieth with Venus.
– In act preluding, to excite
Notes, that resounding &c.
(Quotes from Pindar, in ancient Greek)
– But the accursed,
And reprobate, to wrath devoted, them
Strange horror seizes – &c.
(More quotes from Pindar, in ancient Greek)
By thy adventurous Race not unexplored.
If there is any weight in the trifling criticism of the impropriety in general of mixing Greek & Chinese buildings in the same scene, the above circumstance is an ample justification of their extream propriety here, exclusively of their real beauty & situation.
From the heights
Of Cuma, or Herculean Tibur’s brow.
The former commanding the bay of Baia, & the Elysian fields, the latter Rome & her Campagna.