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THE EDITOR'S PREFACE.

THE following poems having been very favourably received by the public when they first appeared,

at different times, in detached pieces, the author has been prevailed upon to permit me to collect them into this small volume.

When I requested him to give me a preface, he replied, "that to those whom such trifles afforded pleasure, a formal introduction would be unnecessary; that he wrote most of them, when he was very young, for his own amusement, and published them afterwards for my profit; and, as they had once answered both those ends, was very little solicitous what would be the fate of them for the future."

ROBERT DODSLEY.

POEMS

OF

JOHN GILBERT COOPER.

EPISTLES TO HIS FRIENDS IN TOWN,

FROM ARISTIPPUS IN RETIREMENT.

The species of poetry, in which the following istles are written, has been used, with great access, among the French, by Chapelle, Chaueu, La Fare, Gresset, Madame Deshouliéres, nd others; but I do not remember to have seen before in the English language. The unconfined turn of the rhymes, and easiness of the diction, em peculiarly adapted to epistolary composions. The author professedly imitates the geeral manner of the above-mentioned writers, at he is more particularly obliged to Gresset, or two or three hints in his performance, which has acknowledged in the marginal notes. The eader will not forget, that these four epistles were ritten originally under a fictitious character.

THE RETREAT OF ARISTIPPUS.

EPISTLE I.

TO HIS GRACE THE DUKE of **

Je vous livre me réveries
Que quelques verités hardies,
Viennent librement mélanger.

GRESSET.

EIZ'D with the rage of being great
In courts, my lord, let others lead
Exchanging happiness for state)
The crowd of tinsel'd slaves, who tread
he miry ministerial road

Co modern Honour's dark abode,

Where dwell th' high vulgar of the town,
Which England's common courtesy,
Politely calls good company.
To make bad fellowship go down,
Remote from politics and strife,
From the dull sons of bus'ness free,
Unfetter'd by domestic life,

To letter'd ease a votary,
Twixt Epicurus' myrtle bow'rs
I spend alternately my hours
And Academus' palmy grove,
Happy, from Seine's meandring shores,
Where polish'd pleasures ever rove,
The first to bring the Thespian maids,
To play to Science and to Love
On Cyprian pipes in British shades.

No levées here attend his grace,
My-lording ev'ry morn an ass,
Nor office-clerks with busy face,
To make fools wonder as they pass,
Whisper dull nothings in his ear,
'Bout some rogue borough-monger there.
The well-bred insipidity

Of town assemblies ne'er is heard,.
And candidates for prelacy,

That sable, supple, bowing herd,

This silent territory fly;

For bishoprics are seldom found
In realms of scientific ground.
No doctor's medicinal wig,
No titled beggar's suppliant knee,
No alderman with knighthood big
And newly purchas'd pedigree,
No vultures of the human race
From Temple or from Lincoln's-Inn,
No pseudo-patriot out of place,

Nor venal senator that's in,
Disturb this amiable retreat:
Only a Muse, a Love, or Grace,
In this calm senate have a seat.
Such representatives are free.
No Muse has lately been at court,
Nor are the Graces better for't;
Nor have the Loves septennially,
A borough-int'rest to support,
Mortgag'd their healths or property.

Led by unerring Nature's voice,
I haunt retirement's silent shade,
Contentment's humble lot and choice,
Where on the mossy sopha laid,
I see, thro' contemplation's eye,
The white-wing'd cherub innocence,
Each blessing of her native sky
To sympathetic hearts dispense.
Here, undebauch'd by spurious art,
Great Nature reigns in ev'ry part,
Both when refulgent Titan's beam
In high meridian splendour glows,
And when pale Cynthia's maiden gleam
O'er night a silver mantle throws.
The natives of the neighb'ring grove
Their nuptials chaunt on vernal sprays;
Untaught by Ovid how to love,
True passion modulates their lays.
From no Propertius' polish'd strain,
The linnet forms her temp'rate note;
From no Tibullus learns to plain
The widow'd turtle's faithful throat.
Each feather'd libertine of air,
Gay as Catullus, loves and sings;
Free as the Teian sage from care,
The goldfinch claps his gilded wings,
And wooes his female to repair

To shady groves and crystal springs.
Here bless'd with freedom and content,
Untaught by devious thought to stray
Thro' fancy's visionary way,
These silvan bards of sentiment
Warble the dictates of the heart
Uninterrupted as they flow,
Unmeasur'd by the rules of art,
Now strongly high, now sweetly low.

Such scenes the good have ever lov'd,
The great have sought, the wise approv'd:
Here legislators plann'd of old
The pandects of immortal laws;
And mighty chiefs and heroes bold,
Withdrawn from popular applause,
First having left their countries free
From savage and from human pests,
Gain'd a more glorious victory
O'er the fierce tyrants of their breasts.
Methinks, I hear some courtier say,
"Such charms ideal ill agree
With moderniz'd gentility;
For now the witty, great, and gay,
Think what so charms your rural sense,
Only a clown's fit residence.

In former days a country life,

For so time-honour'd poets sing,

Free from anxiety and strife,

Was blandish'd by perpetual spring.

There the sweet Graces kept their court,

The Nymphs, the Fauns, and Dryads play'd, Thither the Muses would resort,

Apollo lov'd the sylvan shade.

The gods and heroes own'd a passion
For wives and daughters of the swains,
And heroines, whilst 'twas the fashion,
Ridotto'd on the rural plains.

The 'squires were then of heav'nly race,
The parsons fashionable too,

Young Hermes had at court a place,
Venus and Mars were folks one knew.
But long long since those times are o'er,
No goddess trips it o'er the lea,
The gods and heroes are no more,
Who danc'd to rural minstrelsy.
Detested are these sad abodes
By modern dames of mortal make,
And peers, who rank not with such gods,
Their solitary seats forsake,
For now 'tis quite another case,
The country wears a diff'rent face.
When sometimes, (oh! the cruel Lent!)
Thither her ladyship is sent,

As Sol thro' Taurus mounts the sky,
Or George prorogues his parliament,
Her beauteous bosom heaves a sigh,
Five months in rustic banishment.
Thither, alas! no viscounts rove,
Nor heart-bewitching col'nels come,
Dull is the music of the grove,
Unheeded fades the meadow's bloom.
The verdant copse may take the birds,
The breath of morn and evening's dew
To bleating flocks and lowing herds
Be pleasant and be wholesome too;
But how can these ('tis out of nature)
Have charms for any human creature!"
Such are the sentiments, I own,
Of all that lazy loitering race,
From daily ushers to his grace,
Who never leave the guilty town;
But in the purlieus of the court,

By knaves are spanie'd up and down,
To fetch and carry each report.

Far other images arise

To those who inward turn their eyes
To view th' inhabitants of mind;
Where solitude's calm vot'ries find
Of knowledge th' inexhausted prize;
And truth, immortal truth bestows,
Clad in etherial robes of light,"
Pure as the flakes of falling snows,
Unenvied unreprov'd delight.

On me, my lord, on humble me
The intellectual train attends;
Science oft seeks my company,
And Fancy's children are my friends.
Here bless'd with independent ease,
I look with pity on the great,
For who, that with enjoyment sees
The Laughs and Graces at his gate,
And little Loves attending nigh,
Or fondly hov'ring o'er his head,
To wing his orders thro' the sky,
Whilst warbling Muses round him shed
Sweet flow'rs, which on Parnassus blow,
Would wish those thorny paths to tread,
Which slaves and courtiers only know.
Thanks to my ancestors and Heav'n,
To me the happier lot is giv'n,
In calm retreat my time to spend
With far far better company,
Than those who on the court attend

In honourable drudgery.

Warriors and statesmen of old Rome
Duly observe my levée-day,

And wits from polish'd Athens come,
Occasional devoirs to pay.
With me great Plato often holds
Discourse upon immortal pow'rs,
And Attic Xenophon unfolds
Rich honey from Lycéum flow'rs;
Cæsar and Tully often dine,
Anacreon rainbles in my grove,
Sweet Horace drinks Falernian wine,
Catullus makes on haycocks love.
With these, and some a-kin to these,
The living few who grace our days,
I live in literary ease,

My chief delight their taste to please
With soft and unaffected lays.
Thus, to each vot'ry's wish, kind fate
Divides the world with equal line,
She bids ambition, care, and state,
Be the high portion of the great,
Peace, friendship, love, and bliss be mine.

THE TEMPER OF ARISTIPPUS.

EPISTLE II.

TO LADY

Quo me cunque rapit tempestas deferor hospes.

I've oft, Melissa, heard you say,
"The world observes I never wear
An aspect gloomy or severe,
That, constitutionally gay,
Whether dark clouds obscure the sky,
Or Phœbus gilds the face of day,
In pleasur's true philosophy
I pass the winged years away."

In most, 'tis true, the human sense
Is subjected to smiles, or tears,
To swelling pride, or trembling fears,
"By ev'ry skyey influence."
Cameleon-like their souls agree
With all they hear and all they see,
Or, as one instrument resounds
Another's unison of sounds,
Their mutable complexions carry
The looks of anger, hope, and joy;
Just as the scenes around 'em vary,
Pleasures delight, or pains annoy.
But 1, by philosophic mood,
Let the wise call it happy folly,
Educe from ev'ry evil good,
And rapture e'en from melancholy.
When in the silent midnight grove,
Sweet Philomela swells her throat
With tremulous and plaintive note,
Expressive of disastrous love,
1 with the pensive Pleasures dwell,
And in their calm sequester'd cell
Listen with rapturous delight
To the soft songster of the night.
Here Echo, in her mossy cave,
Symphonious to the love-lorn song,
Warbles the vocal rocks among,
Whilst gently-trickling waters lave

HORAT.

The oak-fring'd mountain's hoary brow,
Whose streams, united in the vale,
O'er pebbled beds loquacious flow,
Tun'd to the sad melodious tale
In murmurs querulously slow.
And, whilst immers'd in thought I lie,
From ages past and realms unseen,
There moves before the mental eye
The pleasing melancholy scene

Of nymphs and youths unfortunate,
Whose fame shall spread from shore to shore,
Preserv'd by bards from death and fate,
Till time itself shall be no more.

Thus, not by black misanthropy
Impell'd, to caves or rocks I fly;
But when, by chance or humour led,
My wand'ring feet those regions tread
Taught by philosophy so sweet
To shun the fellowship of care,
Far from the world I go to meet
Such pleasures as inhabit there.

With rebel-will I ne'er oppose
The current of my destiny,
But, pliant as the torrent flows,
Receive my course implicitly.
As, from some shaded river's side
If chance a tender osier's blown,
Subject to the controuling tide,
Th' obedient shrub is carried down.
Awhile it floats upon the streams,
By whirlpools now is forc'd below,
Then mounts again where Titan's beams
Upon the shining waters glow.
Sweet flow'ry vales it passes by,
Cities, and solitudes by turns,
Or where a dreary desert burns

In sorrowful obscurity.

For many a league the wand'rer's bome,
By forest, wood, mead, mountain, plain,
Till, carried never to return,

'Tis buried in the boundless main.
Thus Aristippus forms his plan;
To ev'ry change of times and fates
His temper he accommodates;
Not where he will, but where he can,
A daily bliss he celebrates.
An osier on the stream of time,
This philosophic wanderer
Floating thro' ev'ry place and clime,
Finds some peculiar blessing there.
Where e'er the winding current strays
By prosp'rous mount or adverse plain,
He'll sport, till all his jocund days
Are lost in life's eternal main.

Let worldlings hunt for happiness
With pain, anxiety and strife,
Thro' ev'ry thorny path of life,
And ne'er th' ideal fair possess!
For who, alas! their passions send
The fleeting image to pursue,
Themselves their own designs undo,
And in the means destroy the end!
But I a surer clue have found,
To guide me o'er the mazy ground; ·
For knowing that this deity
Must ever rove at liberty

'See the Chartreuse of Gresset, from whence this passage is imitated; but the subsequent particula application to Aristippus is this author's.

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