Epistle the 1st
To Celia in the Country
Oh Celia! why delay so long?
Hast thou forgot thy skill in song,
Or does Albertus claim the part
I once possessed in Celia’s heart.
And is thy stock of love so small,
That thou must give Albertus all!
I thought when Love the bosom gain’d
That Friendship still her hold retained,
He did not make that bosom poor
But rather added to its store
Gave brighter smiles to Friendship’s face
Affection decked with sweeter grace
And bade us still more keenly feel
Another’s woe, another’s weal;
But yet, tho’ this and more, he gave
Would still his due attention have.
But if alas, as oft I’ve feared
And Celia’s silence has declared
Love is a selfish niggard feeling
Like poison o’er the senses stealing
Each purer passion to remove
Why then, I vow, I’ll never love!
With Reason’s Ægis armed, my heart
Shall still unconquered brave his dart
I’ll foil his arts, I’ll shun his snares
Nor shall he catch me unawares.
Nay smile not, with that roguish eye
Nor deem, while Love I thus decry
I think of Corydon and sigh,
Nor while I thus with warmth accuse
The lengthen’d silence of your Muse.
With equal rage and indignation
On me retort the accusation.
Yon happy Maid can lingering rove
At leisure thro’ the shady grove,
Or by some winding river laid
Whose banks the verdant alders shade,
Or in some sparry grot recline,
And there invoke the friendly Nine
While all the Naiads of the flood,
And all the Dryads of the wood,
And all the gentle Gnomes that dwell
The tenants of the crystal cell,
And all the Fauns and Satyrs round
Drawn by the sweet attractive sound,
Shall to the Grotto’s gate repair,
And feed entranced the ravished ear.
Nay Artemis if near she strays
Shall for awhile forget the chase,
And circled by her virgin band
There lost in admiration stand.
Or if thou wakest the lyre at night
Will check her coursers rapid flight,
To hang delighted o’er the spot,
And brighten with her smile the grot.
But whither does my fancy stray,
I only meant dear Maid to say
What you at pleasure wake the lay,
While I am still unhappy bound
To flutter on in Fashion’s round.
Forbade to seek poetic shades
Or court the fair Aonian Maids
And if perchance I tune the string
What has my modish Muse to sing?
Nothing but Concert, Play, or Ball,
But if you wish, I’ll sing them all.
When titled Fashion sits “at home”
What numbers throng her glitt’ring dome,
What Beauty reigns the favored Belle,
What rival Maids with envy swell,
What Lovers sigh, and what their fate,
And what the Senate now debate,
What charitable Damsels hie
To see Lothario fall, and spy
His diamonds with a longing eye
In short, how all, by various ways
Court Notoriety, or Praise
While you in rural strains declare
The pleasures of the Wake or Fair.