Specimens of Elegant Writing

In Prose and Verse

Draw! draw your pens, and dip them in the ink
Then quick set down whate’er ye list, or think.
Seize the resplendent meteor e’er it flies,
Secure the expiring thought before it dies!

Oh for a Muse of Fire! that I might sing and say1
“Before I was in love, why every month was May;”2

Dear Sir, don’t thus abuse your time
By stinging vapid thoughts in rhyme,
I’ll show you what’s the true sublime!

 Blow! blow ye boisterous winds and howl!
 Rouse up the mighty screeching owl,
 And every other boding fowl.
 With all the murd’rous wolves that prowl!
 Hist! and whizz’d, the blust’ring zephyr’s kissed
 The myrtle leaves they never missed.

Young William mounts his chariot!
And leaves his charming Harriot!
Drawn by his sweet, fleet, lovely bay
Trotting on his four feet, along the dusty way
 Along the dusty way.

He went to take a ride,
And left his charming bride,
The impatient fair one died!
 Altho’ so blithe and gay
 Altho’ so blithe and gay!

He met a man in black!
Hard laden with a sack
Who stopp’d and cried — “Soot ho!”
He felt the direful omen
And uttered a deep groaning.
Then faltering said, “No, no Gee Wo,
 Gee Wo, No, No!”

His thoughts were all so busy
His head grew straightway dizzy!
The reins began to slacken,
And the steed began to backen:
They carried him away,
Holloa! Hey! they’ve carried him away 3

All sadly wept, and sigh’d,
For William, in his chariot
Who went to take a ride
Without his lovely Harriot!
When a fair bard arose, to soothe their troubled minds
With rural scenes and rustic sports
With sylvan maids and hinds.

The sun peep over the hill,
The running stream turns round the mill,
While the wheel cogs are hopping,
And in and out popping:
Of butter-milk take your fill!
The sun shines over the dale!
Where with wheat cakes, and nut-brown ale
The villagers dance, spite of fortune or chance
In good humour, all hearty and hale.

“No more!” replied the impatient crowd,
“The true sublime!” they cried, tumultuous loud,
“At least the elegant,” again she rose
And thus her copious verse now flows.

“Go shepherd swain, and blooming maid
Whose hearts were ne’er by love betray’d,
Go wander in the cooling shade,
By bubbling brook, or verdant glade,
Or gently in the sunshine laid —
Where vulgar thoughts shall ne’er invade,
And painted birds with carol song
Shall soothe your slumbers all day long.”

“There gentle hearts lie still and sleep
Secure, no noisome thing shall peep,
No grief shall cause your eyes to weep,
Your faithful dogs, good guards shall keep
Here on this grass and flow’ry heap
Dream of your top knots and your silver sheep,
And when you wake, rise without noise or pother
Stand on your feet and stare at one another.”

But now they rise to loftier song!
Swift, majestic, smooth, and strong
Lance to lance, and horse to horse”
So sung the poet Gray —
Talk not to me of Gray or Black!
Or black or gray!
I’ll sing of blood and wounds
In my own way.

Powder and ball! and winds that squall!
O’er craggy rocks
Till the confusion, ’midst the contusion
Lumbr’ing blows, death-doing knocks,
The fleet steeds scour o’er the miry plain
“But what of that? they’ll all come back again
If none of them are slain.
The thund’ring cannons roar;
Which makes the foes fly by the score.
The trumpets so loudly do rattle:
Zounds! this is no time for prattle —
Rub a dub goes the drums —
When the appetite comes,
But it’s much more for dinner, than battle!
The fire flashes round, & smoke covers the ground
’Till we’re all in the same fit of coughing
’Twas a plaguey invention,
Whate’er the intention,
And however some folks may be laughing.
Rub a dub, Bow, dow, dow!
What the deuce ails you now?”
You may see by the running,
The colonel is coming
With horse & foot, drive and stamp
Lieutenants and aide-de-camp:
He has the smartest fan hat in the corps
You lie Sir! for that, and I tell you so flat,
And I’ve told you so, ten time before;
Besides, you’re an ignorant lout!
Then out his sword flew
And he ran him quite through
The white-faced, laced, skirt of his coat!
Then the colonel cried zounds!
Don’t you see, blood and wounds!
They are coming down, pell mell, upon us
And I order at large, you all make a brisk charge
When a sergeant cried, “Sir mercy on us!
Why they are all our own men
Wheeling round back again —
So go home in most peaceable order”
Then they all stood stock still, with a very good will
Or who knows? but there might have been murder!

Then the colonel looked big,
And he cocked up his wig!
Said, “Gemmen no need of your staying”
So they all took the hint, without halt or stint
And went off the ground boys huzzaing
And went off the ground boys huzzaing.

With a rub-a-dub, row, dow, dow,
Trumpets sounds, horses bounding
What the deuce ails you now?
Get out of the way, don’t you see the heavy horse
Coming, you’ll be run over!
Where the fierce pioneers
Fright the taylors with their shears,
And war steeds braying,
While the little fifes are playing,
And the silken flags are flying,
While the maidens all are sighing —
For the smart fellows drest in red.

“What do you here in such a crowd as this,
Foolish old woman!
You had better go home to bed.”
This is no time for prattle,
Again the trumpets rattle,
And rub a dub go the drums:
Then the good soldiers appetite comes
But it’s much more for dinner than battle!

When the martial poet had concluded, a young man stepped forward, whose insinuating air and inexpressible sweetness of manner, engaged the attention of all present. He addressed the lady on the tripod, the priestess of the orgies! declaring, his power were unequal to a description of those delightful sensations he had experienced from such captivating sentiments & fascinating flights of imagination! He was overcome by the German ballad! His faculties had been lulled to a soft Elysium by the pastorals, altho’ he confessed his preference for the latter of those two poems, on account of a certain homeliness of expression in the former, which notwithstanding it might be justified by some examples, was not in perfect unison with the finer feelings of polished life. He acknowledged he had been perfectly possessed by the battle! the author was so powerful! of whom he always spoke with the greatest respect, because he pledged his honour that he had never known a more correct man in the world, during the whole course of his life — his profound learning was unquestionable, and for his decided superiority in natural philosophy and knowledge of the human character, his poem was the most satisfactory evidence; but he would submit to the charming priestess & the distinguish’d company with the utmost hesitation, whether the very excellencies of that poem might not produce an unfortunate effect — and the polemo-eristic subject itself supported by such noble description and irresistible power of language, might not from the acuteness of feeling peculiar to minds exceeding sensible — produce an irritation interfering at least with the cordial harmony which formed so distinguished a feature in that polite assembly — and consequently whether any other poems of that kind might not be referred to future meetings, and the remainder of the present time occupied in the recital of more engaging subjects which if they were not the Laurels — were universally allowed to be the roses and Lilies of the Muses!

All were convinced by the modesty, candor, elegance, and force of reasoning in this address — it was received with the loudest and reiterated acclamations — Elegies, sonnets &c were then read — but as they were very like other elegies and sonnets the reader will excuse their not being inserted.

A Chip of the Old Block

  1. This thought is certainly stolen from Shakespear!  

  2. Another Plagiarism from the elegant Dramatic Poet Mr Gray. 

  3. In this translation much of the splendid diction and delicacy of thought, in the German original is lost.