Epistle from Mr. Somerville, An

by William Somervile

William Somervile

Near fair Avona's silver tide,
Whose waves in soft meanders glide,
I read, to the delighted swams,
Your jocund songs and rural strains.
Smooth as her streams your numbers flow;
Your thoughts in varied beauties show,
Like flow'rs that on her borders grow.
While I survey, with ravish'd eyes,
His friendly gift, my valued prize,
Where sister arts, with charms divine,
In their full bloom and beauty shine,
Alternately my soul is blest.
Now I behold my welcome guest,
That graceful, that engaging air.
So dear to all the brave and fair.
Nor has the' ingenious artist shown
His outward lineaments alone,
But in the' expressive draught design'd
The nobler beauties of his mind;
True friendship, love, benevolence,
Unstudy'd wit and manly sense.
Then, as your book I wander o'er,
And feast on the delicious store,
(Like the laborious busy bee,
Pleas'd with the sweet variety)
With equal wonder and surprise
I see resembling portraits rise.
Brave archers march in bright array,
In troops the vulgar line the way:
Here the droll figures slily sneer,
Or coxcombs at full length appear:
There woods and lawns, a rural scene,
And swains that gambol on the green.
Your pen can act the pencil's part
With greater genius,fire, and art.
Believe me, bard! no hunted hind
That pants against the southern wind,
And seeks the stream through unknown ways;
No matron in her teeming days,
E'er felt such longings, such desires,
As I to view those lofty spires,
Those domes, where fair Edina shrouds
Her towering head amid the clouds.
But, oh! what dangers interpose!
Vales deep with dirt, and hills with snows;
Proud winter floods, with rapid force,
Forbid the pleasing intercourse.
But sure, we bards, whose purer clay
Nature has mix'd with less allay,
Might soon find out an easier way.
Do not sage matrons mount on high,
And switch their broomsticks through the sky,
Ride post o'er hills, and woods, and seas,
From Thule to the' Hesperides
And yet the men of Gresham own,
That this and stranger feats are done
By a warm fancy's pow'r alone.
This granted, why can't you and I
Stretch forth our wings and cleave the sky,
Since our poetic brains, you know,
Than their's must more intensely glow?
Did not the Theban swan take wing,
Sublimely soar, and sweetly sing?
And do not we, of humbler vein,
Sometimes attempt a loftier strain,
Mount sheer out of the reader's sight,
Obscurely lost in clouds and night?
Then climb your Pegasus with speed,
I'll meet thee on the banks of Tweed;
Not as our fathers did of yore,
To swell the flood with crimson gore,
Like the Cadmean murdering brood,
Each thirsting for his brother's blood.
For now all hostile rage shall cease;
Lull'd in the downy arms of Peace,
Our honest hands and hearts shall join
O'er jovial banquets, sparkling wine.
Let Peggy at thy elbow wait,
And I shall bring my bonny Kate,
But hold — oh! take a special care,
To' admit no prying Kirkman there;
I dread the penitential chair,
What a strange figure should I make,
A poor abandon'd English rake!
A 'squire well-born, and six foot high,
Perch'd in that sacred pillory?
Let Spleen and Zeal be banish'd thence,
And troublesome Impertinence,
That tells his story o'er again;
Ill-manners and his saucy train,
And Self-conceit, and stiff-rump'd Pride.
That grin at all the world beside;
Foul Scandal, with a load of lies,
Intrigues, rencounters, prodigies:
Fame's busy hawker, light as air,
That feeds on frailties of the fair:
Envy, Hypocrisy, Deceit,
Fierce Party-rage, and warm Debate;
And all the hell-hounds that are foes
To friendship and the world's repose;
But mirth instead, and dimpling smiles,
And wit, that gloomy care beguiles;
And joke, and pun, and merry tale,
And toasts, that round the table sail:
While laughter, bursting through the crowd
In vollies, tells our joys aloud.
Hark! the shrill piper mounts on high,
The woods, the streams, the rocks, reply
To his far-sounding melody.
Behold each labouring squeeze prepare
Supplies of modulated air,
Observe Crowdero's active bow,
His head still noddling to and fro,
His eyes, his cheeks, with raptures glow.
See, see the bashful nymphs advance,
To lead the regulated dance;
Flying still, the swains pursuing,
Yet with backward glances wooing.
This, this shall be the joyous scene;
Nor wanton elves that skim the green,
Shall be so bless'd, so blithe, so gay,
Or less regard what dotards say.
My Rose shall then your Thistle greet,
The Union shall be more complete;
And in a bottle and a friend
Each national dispute shall end.

Last updated October 28, 2017