The 1767 descriptive poem

 

Sir,

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

very sincerely

your obedient

humble Servant.

 

July.7.1767.

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.

 

NOTES.

– Godlike shapes & forms

Excelling human.

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.

The end.