History of the Attic Chest

Miss Porden

’Twas in that fair, but now profaned retreat
Where ancient learning held her sacred seat,
Where Phidias’ hand to life the marble wrought;
Where Socrates the rules of virtue taught;
Where Grecia’s sons the Persian foe repelled,
And forced the conquered myriads from the field;
Where Œdipus no more by fate pursued
Breathed his last accents in the sacred wood;
Where he, by all the Grecians styled the Just,
By public funeral honoured, sleeps in dust;
Where to the bee, Hymettus flowers afford,
A richer nectar for its honied hoard.
The topmost, on the mountain’s airy brow,
A pine, I once surveyed the plains below.
Long had I seen the ruthless hand of time
Deface whate’r was beautiful, sublime;
Long seen the Turk; than time more ruthless far,
With art and learning wage successful war.
At length expelled they sought another seat
And fertile Albion was their blest retreat.
Meanwhile, barbarian rage, each work of taste,
Of ancient grandeur, not before defaced,
With eager hand attacked — The temples fall,
The broken friezes leave the ruined wall,
Or from their use perverted, now debase
The classic scenes that they were wont to grace.
To save these relics of Athenian fame,
From Briton’s isle the noble envoy came.
In this pursuit nor pains nor cost he spared
His pleasing labour was its own reward.
From hands profane, and from the pelting storm
Studious to shield each graceful Attic form,
Obedient to his mandate, swiftly now
Full many a pine must quit Hymettus brow.
Among the rest I left my native strand
And sought across the seas a happier land
Twice blest to shield from threatening foes; to save
The sacred relics from a wat’ry grave;
Till many a toil and many a danger past,
With joy we reached britannia’s shore at last;
There I perchance unnoticed had remained
My classic wood to some vile use profaned
Had not the Nine, who knew from whence I sprung
Who loved the land in which they early sung
Decreed a nobler fate — They placed me here
And made the object of their partial care,
Their valued favour they profusely shed
And shower their treasures on my grateful head.
How genius oft reposes on my breast
There oft will learning deign awhile to rest.
There nature oft, by pleasing art refined
Speaks in the effusions of a cultured mind.
And sprightly wit, and humour grave combine
With sober wisdom, in the polished line,
Loved by the Muses — not unknown to fame
And honoured with my country’s ancient name
The “Attic Chest” may hope to please the sage
And charm ingenious youth through many an age.