Tag Archives: verse epistle

John Jones, “To the Unfortunate Miss Poynton, of Lichfield”


“To the Unfortunate Miss Poynton, of Lichfield”

No longer let my humble Muse complain,
Or deem severe my various chequer’d lot;
Priscilla, whilst I read thy melting strain,
And weigh thy griefs, be all my own forgot.

Me, though an orphan from my infant state,                                                   5
And robb’d in childhood of my native right!
Compar’d to thy tenebr’ous, joyless fate,
My trifling ills must gratitude excite.

Not hapless Blacklock, the fam’d Scottish bard,
Whose polish’d numbers oft with sighs I view,                                      10
Can claim, like thee, the tribute of regard;
His infant loss, tho’ great, he never knew.

But thou, indulg’d twelve childish years to see
Nature’s fair face, and wanton in her smiles,
Now wrapp’d in endless night and misery,                                                    15
Each lovely object thy fond wish beguiles.

Ah! direful change! on thy scald eyes no more
Yon orb refulgent darts his cheerful ray!
Guideless, methinks, I see thee now explore,
With trembling steps, thy dark and devious way.                                  20

Yet, sure it cannot be! what fell despite
Can let thee wander guideless and forlorn!
Or, unconcern’d, survey thy doleful plight!
Or mark thy anguish with an eye of scorn!

Ten thousand plagues torment his impious tongue,                                     25
Who dares, with sport infernal, mock thy pain;
Around his guilty haunt pale spectres throng,
Implore relief, and wish for death in vain.

The boon of heav’n, (nor greater heav’n can grant)
The sacred text, must thou in vain unfold?                                             30
And shall thy thirsty soul for knowledge pant,
Yet never wisdom’s sacred fane behold?

It must be so–yet GOD corrects in love;
Nor ought vain Man to let one murmur fall,
Lest he in wrath his arrogance reprove;                                                          35
Soon the great teacher DEATH unravels all.

But who, with stoic fortitude, could bear
Thy pond’rous sorrow! thy acute distress!
What bosom but by sympathy must share
The poignant evils which thy life oppress!                                              40

Thou, with becoming sorrow, dost complain,
And warble forth thy complicated woe;
And who that hears thee can from tears refrain?
Ah! who but must his friendly mite bestow.

Yet think not Fate on thy devoted head                                                         45
Pours forth life’s nauseous dregs with ill design;
By sacred heaven-born Contemplation led
From vice and folly, see thy soul refine.

Long may thy modest, meek, instructive Muse,
(For such I hope thy ev’ry theme to find)                                               50
The balm of comfort o’er thy life diffuse,
And joys celestial cheer thy pensive mind.


Author In her response to this poem (which immediately follows in the volume), Poynton identifies the author as “Mr. Jones of Kidderminster.” This is probably the same John Jones that published An Elegy on Winter, and other poems (Birmingham, 1779). He’s described on the title page as “school-master, in Kidderminster,” and “the author of Poems on Several Subjects.” Poynton also mentions that Jones was the author of a volume of the same title (4), though no copies appear to have survived. Kidderminster is located approximately seventeen miles southwest of Birmingham.

Title Miss Poynton “This Poem was occasioned by seeing Miss Poynton’s advertisement, requesting a subscription for her poems, (see Birmingham Gazette for Sept. 12, 1768,) the Author till then not having the least knowledge even of her name” [Text note]. Priscilla Poynton (1750-1801) was known as “the blind poetess of Lichfield,” a cathedral city located in Staffordshire.

7 Tenebr’ous “Full of darkness” (OED).

9 Blacklock Thomas Blacklock (1721-1791), a Scottish poet who contracted smallpox at six months old and was left completely blind.

14 Wanton “Undisciplined, ungoverned, unmanageable, rebellious” (OED).

16 Beguiles “Deception” (OED).

18 Refulgent “Shining with, or reflecting a brilliant light” (OED).

26 Thy Pain Refers to the pain and disability of being blind that Priscilla Poynton, the subject of the poem, constantly endured because disabilities in the 18th century were often ignored.

27 Spectres “Ghost or other apparition” (OED). ; Throng “Oppression, distress, trouble, woe, or affliction” (OED).

29 Boon “A prayer” (OED).

32 Fane “Mode of proceeding, bearing, demeanor; appearance, aspect” (OED).

42 And warble forth thy complicated woe “Alluding to a few poetical lines inserted with her advertisement” [Text note].

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (Birmingham, 1770), pp. 1-4. [Google Books]

Edited by Taylor Albert

Mary Darwall, “To a Friend, on her recovery from Sickness”


“To a Friend, on her recovery from Sickness”

My much belov’d, my gentle friend,
May ev’ry happiness attend
Thy health’s returning bloom;
May fell disease, and grief, and pain,
With all their dire afflictive train,                                                 5
No longer be thy doom.

Th’ autumnal sun now shines serene,
Rich Ceres beautifies each scene,
And plenty laughs around;
The woods, the hills, the vales look gay,                                  10
O! hither come, and every day
With rapture shall be crown’d.

Come, range with me the verdant lawn,
And hear the lark at early dawn
His sprightly matin trill;                                                        15
Or, with my little playful throng,
At eve enjoy the blackbird’s song,
Beside some gurgling rill.

But wheresoe’er my friend shall stray,
May peace and pleasure smooth her way,                               20
And health and fortune smile;
May love, with all his choicest flowr’s,
For thee adorn his myrtle bowr’s,
And all thy cares beguile.

May some gay youth, fond, kind, and true,                               25
My SYLVIA’s worthy heart subdue
To Hymen’s gentle pow’r;
Soft may the silken fetters prove,
Distrust or doubt ne’er chill your love,
But peace gild every hour!                                                    30


8 Ceres “The Roman goddess of the growth of food” (Britannica).

10 vales “A more or less extensive tract o f land lying between two ranges of hills” (OED).

14 lark “A name used generally for any bird of the Alaudidae family” (OED).

15 matin “The morning song of birds” (OED); trill “To utter or sing (a note, tune, etc.) with tremulous vibration of sound” (OED).

18 rill “Small stream; a brook; a rivulet” (OED).

23 myrtle bowr’s “Any various evergreen shrubs or small trees of the genus Myrtus” (OED).

27 Hymen “In Greek mythology, the god of marriage” (Britannica).

28 fetters “Chains for the legs” (Johnson).

30 gild “To cover entirely or partially with a thin layer of gold” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1794), pp. 26­-28. [ Google Books]

Edited by Sandy Karkar

Richard Gough, “To Mrs. S— on presenting the Author with a Lock of her Hair”


 “To Mrs. S— on presenting the Author with a Lock of her Hair”

The Poets, Madam, all aver,
That once the ruthless god of war,
Who, bred amid the din of arms,
Defy’d the pow’r of beauty’s charms;
And long had proudly scorn’d to wear,                                     5
The pleasing fetters of the fair.
Struck with the graceful air and mein,
And roseat bloom of Cyprus’ queen;
His savage fierceness all forbore,
Subdued by Venus, magic lore;                                                10
And soon became her pow’r to prove,
A convert to the force of love.
The wily Goddess, then, ‘tis said,
All with an heavenly tempered brede;
Of net-work circled him around,                                              15
And to her snowy bosom bound:
Secur’d the conquest of her eyes,
And by the rulers of the skies;
From the fierce God of war so tamed,
Thence forth was beauties goddess named.                        20
Thus say the poets, who in fiction,
In figure and in contradiction,
To all the laws of modest nature,
Trick out a strange romantic creature;
Which, after all, they queintly feign,                                       25
No where exists but in the brain.
Might I the genuine truth reveal,
And would you listen to the tale;
Would you, more kindly still supply,
Whate’er I pass in silence by?                                                 30
Whose was the dull, insensate breast,
Which beauty’s pow’r at length confess’d;
Who soon became that power to prove,
A convert to the force of love:
Wou’d you conceive who ‘tis I mean,                                    35
Then would I thus the rest explain:
The heavenly net-work, Venus snare,
Was this — a ringlet of her hair;
And she, to give her all her due,
Some faint resemblance was of–you.                                  40


Title Mrs. S— Unable to identify.

2 god of war In Roman mythology, Mars.

7 mein “Physical strength, force or power” (OED).

8 roseat “Resembling or suggestive of a rose, esp.in colour” (OED); Cyprus’ queen Probably Cleopatra of Egypt, renowned for her beauty, who was given control of the island through her alliance with Marc Antony (Encyclopedia Britannica).

10 Venus In Roman mythology, the goddess of love.

14 brede “Anything plaited, entwined, or interwoven” (OED).

25 queintly An older spelling of quaintly (OED).

31 insensate “Destitute of physical sense or feeling” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (April 1770), p. 183.

Edited by Matthew Bragg

Mary Masters, “To Lucinda”


To Lucinda”

 LUCINDA, you in vain disswade
Two Hearts from mutual Love.
What am’rous Youth, or tender Maid
Could e’er their Flames remove?

What, if the Charms in him I see                                      5
Only exist in Thought:
Yet CUPID’S like the Medes Decree,
Is firm and changeth not.

Seek not to know my Passion’s spring,
The Reason to discover:                                            10
For Reason is an useless Thing,
When we’ve commenc’d the Lover.

Should Lovers quarrel with their Fate,
And ask the Reason why,
They are condemn’d to doat on That,                              15
Or for This Object die?

They must not hope for a Reply,
And this is all they know;
They sigh, and weep, and rave, and die,
Because it must be so.                                                20

LOVE is a mighty God you know,
That rules with potent Sway:
And, when he draws his awful Bow,
We Mortals must obey.

Since you the fatal Strife endur’d,                                     25
And yielded to his Dart:
How can I hope to be secur’d,
And guard a weaker Heart?


1 disswade Variation of dissuade “to give advice against” (OED).

7 CUPID’S The Roman God of love, son of Venus; often appears as an infant with wings carrying a bow, and arrows that have the power to inspire love in those they pierce (Encyclopædia Britannica); Medes Decree Refers to the laws of the Medes and Persians, “Medes” being an ancient Indo-European people whose empire encompassed most of Persia; in the Bible, “laws of the Medes” is a proverbial phrase meaning, “something that is unalterable” (OED).

21 LOVE The God of love, Cupid.

22 Sway “Power” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London: T. Browne, 1733), pp. 151-53.  [Hathi Trust]

Edited by Brittany Kirn

[Mary Barber], “To a Lady, who invited the Author into the Country”


“To a Lady, who invited the Author into the Country”

 HOW gladly, Madam, would I go,
To see your Gardens, and Chateau;
From thence the fine Improvements view,
Or walk your verdant Avenue;
Delighted, hear the Thrushes sing,                                              5
Or listen to some bubbling Spring;
If Fate had giv’n me Leave to roam!
But Citizens must stay at Home.

WE’RE lonesome since you went away,
And should be dead –– but for our Tea;                                     10
That Helicon of female Wits;
Which fills their Heads with rhyming Fits!

This Liquor seldom heats the Brain,
But turns it oft, and makes us vain;
With Fumes supplies Imagination,                                              15
Which we mistake for Inspiration.
This makes us cramp our Sense in Fetters,
And teaze our Friends with chiming Letters.

I GRIEVE your Brother has the Gout;
Tho’ he’s so stoically stout,                                                            20
I’ve heard him mourn his Loss of Pain,
And wish it in his Feet again.
What Woe poor Mortals must endure,
When Anguish is their only Cure!

STREPHON is ill; and I perceive                                                      25
His lov’d Elvira grows so grave,
I fear, like Niobe, her Moan
Will turn herself and me to Stone.
Have I not cause to dread this Fate,
Who scarce so much as smile of late?                                         30

WHILST lovely landscapes you survey,
And peaceful pass your Hours away,
Refresh’d with various blooming Sweets;
I’m sick of Smells and dirty Streets,
Stifled with Smoke, and stunn’d with Noise                               35
Of ev’ry Thing ––– but my own Boys;
Thro’ Rounds of plodding doom’d to run,
And very seldom see the Sun:
Yet sometimes pow’rful Fancy reigns,
And glads my Eyes with sylvan Scenes;                                      40
Where Time, enamour’d, slacks his Pace,
Enchanted by the warbling Race;
And, in Atonement for his Stay,
Thro’ Cities hurries on the Day.

O! WOULD kind Heav’n reverse my Fate,                                  45
Give me to quit a Life I hate,
To flow’ry Fields I soon would fly:
Let others stay ––– to cheat and lye.
There, in some blissful Solitude,
Where eating Care should ne’er intrude,                                   50
The Muse should do the Country Right,
And paint the glorious Scenes you flight.


2 Chateau A stately residence or estate.

11 Helicon “Name of a mountain once sacred to the Muses from Greek mythology, often used allusively in reference to poetic inspiration” (OED).

17 Fetters “Anything that confines, impedes, or restrains; a check, restraint” (OED).

19 Gout “A specific constitutional disease occurring in fits, usually hereditary and in male subjects; characterized by painful inflammation of the smaller joints” (OED).

25 Strephon Common masculine name used for male lover in pastoral poetry (Encyclopedia Britannica).

26 Elvira A proper feminine name of Germanic origin (Online Dictionary).

27 Niobe “Of ancient Greek origin refers to an inconsolably bereaved woman, a weeping woman” (OED).

40 sylvan Relating to a wood or woods (Johnson).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp.135-38. [Hathi Trust]

Edited by Ashley-Nicole Cortez

“T.E.,” “To one quoting the common saying Words are but Wind”


 “To one quoting the common saying Words are but Wind”

 Words are but wind, you say; but don’t you know,
Wind tears up trees, and houses down doth blow?
Of all the elements, which can you find,
That brings to man such mischief as the wind?
The strongest ships, by the wind’s fury tost,                                       5
Are dash’d to pieces, or else sunk and lost.
Winds force the swelling waves beyond ye strand,
And make the boiling sea o’er-flow the land.
Winds kindle fires, and drive the raging flame
Beyond the pow’r of engines to reclaim.                                             10
Winds whirl the clouds, and cause the earth to quake,
Make mountains walk, trees their old soil forsake.
All other elements may bounded be;
But who can bound ye wind, which none can see?
Fire may be quench’d by water; water may                                         15
By dams of earth be forc’d its course to stay.
Earth may, by art, be rais’d, by art deprest,
As seems to the projecting owner best.
But wind, unruly wind, can by no force,
Can by no art be hindered in its course.                                              20
Oppose firm works, too strong for it to pierce,
‘Twill mount the higher, and become more fierce.
For human power can nothing raise so high,
O’er which the nimble wind can’t soar and fly.
By swelling winds, in her deep caverns pent,                                      25
Our common mother’s breast is rudely rent.
Wind in her stomach makes her open her jaw,
And suck down cities to her spacious maw.
Wind in our bowels makes our vitals crack,
And far exceeds the torture of the rack.                                              30
Air is the region too, where the learn’d say,
Satan has greatest pow’r his pranks to play.
Say then no more, Words are but wind, or air,
Except thou would’st ye two worst things compare:
For there’s a strain of sharp corroding words,                                   35
Wounds deeper, and hurts more than keenest swords.


Title: Words are but Wind A common, archaic saying in England. The earliest citing of the phrase is from Shakespeare’s play The Comedy of Errors (wr. ca. 1594; pub. 1623). The saying also shows up in Jonathan Swift’s satirical work A Tale of a Tub (1704).

5 tost Tossed.

16 deprest Depressed.

36 keenest “Sharp” (OED).

Source: The Gentlemen’s Magazine, vol. 7 (March 1737), p. 181.

Edited by Samantha Rosales

John Gay, “Epistle to a Lady. Occasioned by the Arrival of Her Royal Highness”


 EPISTLE TO A LADY. Occasioned by the Arrival of HER ROYAL HIGHNESS”

 MADAM, to all your censures I submit,
And frankly own I should long since have writ:
You told me, silence would be thought a crime,
And kindly strove to ease me into rhyme:
No more let trifling themes your Muse employ,                                            5
Nor lavish verse to paint a female toy:
No more on plains with rural damsels sport,
But sing the glories of the British court.

By your commands and inclination sway’d,
I call’d th’ unwilling Muses to my aid;                                                              10
Resolv’d to write, the noble theme I chose,
And to the Princess thus the Poem rose.

Aid me bright Phoebus; aid, ye sacred Nine;
Exalt my Genius, and my verse refine.
My strains with Carolina’s name I grace,                                                          15
The lovely parent of our royal race.
Breathe soft, ye winds, ye waves in silence sleep;
Let prosp’rous breezes wanton o’er the deep,
Swell the white sails, and with the streamers play,
To waft her gently o’er the watry way.                                                               20

Here I to Neptune form’d a pompous pray’r,
To rein the winds, and guard the royal Fair;
Bid the blue Tritons sound their twisted shells,
And call the Nereids from their pearly cells.

Thus my warm zeal had drawn the Muse along,                                   25
Yet knew no method to conduct her song:
I then resolv’d some model to pursue,
Perus’d French Criticks, and began anew.
Long open panegyrick drags at best,
And praise is only praise when well address’d.                                            30

Strait Horace for some lucky Ode I sought:
And all along I trac’d him thought by thought:
This new performance to a friend I show’d;
For shame, says he, what, imitate an Ode!
I’d rather ballads write, and Grubstreet lays,                                                35
Than pillage Casar for my patron’s praise:
One common fate all imitators share,
To save mince-pies, and cap the grocer’s ware.
Vex’d at the charge, I to the flames commit
Rhymes, similies, Lords names, and ends of wit;                                         40
In blotted stanzas scraps of Odes expire,
And fustian mounts in Pyramids of fire.

Ladies, to you I next inscrib’d my lay,
And writ a letter in familiar way:
For still impatient till the Princess came,                                                       45
You from description wish’d to know the dame.
Each day my pleasing labour larger grew,
For still new graces open’d to my view.
Twelve lines ran on to introduce the theme,
And then I thus pursu’d the growing scheme.                                              50

Beauty and wit were sure by nature join’d,
And charms are emanations of the mind;
The soul transpiercing through the shining frame,
Forms all the graces of the Princely Dame:
Benevolence her conversation guides,                                                              55
Smiles on her cheek, and in her eye resides.
Such harmony upon her tongue is found,
As softens English to Italian sound:
Yet in those sounds such sentiments appear,
As charm the Judgment, while they sooth the ear.                                            60

Religion’s chearful flame her bosom warms,
Calms all her hours, and brightens all her charms.
Henceforth, ye Fair, at chappel mind your pray’rs,
Nor catch your lover’s eyes with artful airs;
Restrain your looks, kneel more, and whisper less,                                          65
Nor most devoutly criticize on dress.

From her form all your characters of life,
The tender mother, and the faithful wife.
Oft have I seen her little infant train,
The lovely promise of a future reign;                                                                 70
Observ’d with pleasure ev’ry dawning grace,
And all the mother op’ning in their face,
The son shall add new honours to the line,
And early with paternal virtues shine;
When he the tale of Audenard repeats,                                                            75
His little heart with emulation beats;
With conquests yet to come, his bosom glows,
He dreams of triumphs and of vanquish’d foes.
Each year with arts shall store his rip’ning brain,
And from his Grandsire he shall learn to reign.                                               80

Thus far I’d gone: Propitious rising gales
Now bid the sailor hoist the swelling sails.
Fair Carolina lands; the canons roar,
White Albion’s cliffs resound from shore to shore,
Behold the bright original appear,                                                                 85
All praise is faint when Carolina’s near.
Thus to the nation’s joy, but Poet’s cost,
The Princess came, and my new plan was lost.

Since all my schemes were baulk’d, my last resort,
I left the Muses to frequent the Court;                                                          90
Pensive each night, from room to room I walk’d,
To one I bow’d, and with another talk’d;
Enquir’d what news, or such a Lady’s name,
And did the next day, and the next, the same.
Places, I found, were daily given away,                                                          95
And yet no friendly Gazette mention’d Gay.
I ask’d a friend what method to pursue;
He cry’d, I want a place as well as you.
Another ask’d me, why I had not writ;
A Poet owes his fortune to his wit.                                                                 100
Strait I reply’d, with a courtly grace,
Flows easy verse from him that has a place!
Had Virgil ne’er at court improv’d his strains,
He still had sung of flocks and homely swains;
And had not Horace sweet preferment found,                                             105
The Roman lyre had never learnt to sound.

Once Ladies fair in homely guise I sung,
And with their names wild woods and mountains rung.
Oh, teach me now to strike a softer strain!
The Court refines the language of the plain.                                                 110

You must, cries one, the Ministry rehearse,
And with each Patriot’s name prolong your verse.
But sure this truth to Poets should be known,
That praising all alike, is praising none.

Another told me, if I wish’d success,                                                        115
To some distinguish’d Lord I must address;
One whose high virtues speak his noble blood,
One always zealous for his country’s good;
Where valour and strong eloquence unite,
In council cautious, resolute in fight;                                                             120
Whose gen’rous temper prompts him to defend,
And patronize the man that wants a friend.
You have, ‘tis true, the noble Patron shown,
But I, alas! Am to Argyle unknown.

Still ev’ry one I met in this agreed,                                                           125
That writing was my method to succeed;
But not preferments so possess’d my brain,
That scarce I could produce a single strain:
Indeed I sometimes hammer’d out a line,
Without connection as without design.                                                          130
One morn upon the Princess this I writ,
An Epigram that boasts more truth than wit

The pomp of titles easy faith might shake,
She scorn’d an empire for religion’s sake:
For this, on earth, the British crown is giv’n,                                                      135
And an immortal crown decreed in heav’n.

Again, while GEORGE’s virtues rais’d my thought,
The following lines prophetick fancy wrought.

Methinks I see some Bard, whose heav’nly rage,
Shall rise in song, and warm a future age;                                                          140
Look back through time, and, rapt in wonder, trace
The glorious series of the Brunswick race.

 From the first George these godlike kings descend,
A line which only with the world shall end.
The next a genr’ous Prince renown’d in arms,                                                    145
And bless’d, long bless’d in Carolina’s charms;
From these the rest. ‘Tis thus secure in peace,
We plow the fields, and reap the year’s increase:
Now Commerce, wealthy Goddess, rears her head,
And bids Britannia’s fleets their canvas spread;                                                 150
Unnumber’d ships the peopled ocean hide,
And wealth returns with each revolving tide.

Here paus’d the sullen Muse, in haste I dress’d,
And through the croud of needy courtiers press’d;
Though unsuccessful, happy whilst I see,                                                        155
Those eyes that glad a nation, shine on me.


 Title First published in 1714, this is Gay’s revised version; Her Royal Highness Caroline of Ansbach (1683 – 1737). She married George Augustus of Great Britain in 1705, and became Princess of Wales in 1714, and Queen in 1727.

13 Phoebus “Greek God Apollo: God of music, poetry, sun, and light” (OED); Sacred Nine The nine Muses: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (lyric poetry), Euterpe (music), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (religious music), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy), and Urania (astronomy).

15 Carolina Caroline, Princess of Wales in 1714. She became the first woman to receive the title at the same time her husband received his.

21 Neptune Roman god of the sea.

23 Triton Greek sea deity, son of Poseidon.

24 Nereids Sea nymphs.

29 Panegyrick Public speech or text delivered in high praise of a person or thing. (OED).

31 Horace Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 BC – 8 BC) Latin lyric poet and satirist under the emperor Augustus. Known for his odes.

35 Grubstreet “Used for the tribe of mean and needy authors, or literary hacks” (OED).

36 Casar Augustus Caesar (63 BC – 14 AD), founder of the Roman Empire and its first Emperor. Horace’s second ode, “To Augustus Caesar,” celebrated its addressee as savior of the Empire.

42 Fustian “Coarse cloth made of cotton or flax” (OED).

75 Audenard Battle of Oudenarde July 11, 1708. The Grand Alliance (Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, and the Holy Empire) held victory over the French.

81 Propitious “Of God, the fates” (OED).

84 Albion “The island of Britain” (OED).

96 Gazette Newspaper.

103 Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (70 BC – 19 BC), Roman court poet.

124 Argyle John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyle (1680-1743). A noted commander in the British Army during the War of the Spanish Succession, and also known to be a patron of the arts.

132 Epigram A short, witty poem.

134 She scorn’d…religion’s sake Caroline rejected the suit of Archduke Charles of Austria (who would later become King of Spain) on religious grounds.

137 George George Augustus (1683-1760), Prince of Wales in 1714.

139 Bard An ancient Celtic poet whose primary function was to compose and sing (usually to the harp) verses celebrating the achievements of chiefs and warriors.

142 Brunswick A reference to the Duchy state of Brunswick and Lüneberg, in Northern Germany, from which the Hanoverian kings came.

143 first George King George I of Great Britain (1660-1727), reigned from 1714.

145 Prince George Augustus, Prince of Wales, later King George II of Great Britain, reigned from 1727-1760.

Source: Poems on Several Occasions, Volume 2 (London, 1731), pp. 3-11. [Google Books]

 Edited by Jennifer Fong

John Pomfret, “To his Friend under Affliction”


“To his Friend under Affliction”

 None lives in this tumultuous State of things,
Where ev’ry Morning some new Trouble brings;
But bold Inquietudes will break his rest,
And gloomy Thoughts disturb his anxious Breast.
Angelick Forms, and happy Spirits are                                                      5
Above the Malice of perplexing Care:
But that’s a blessing too sublime, too high
For those who bend beneath Mortality.
If in the Body there was but one part
Subject to Pain, and sensible of Smart,                                                   10
And but one Passion could torment the Mind,
That Part, that Passion busy Fate would find.
But since Infirmities in both abound,
Since Sorrow both so many ways can wound,
‘Tis not so great a wonder that we grieve                                               15
Sometimes, as ‘tis a miracle we live.

The happiest Man that ever breath’d on Earth,
With all the Glories of Estate and Birth,
Had yet some anxious Care to make him know
No Grandeur was above the reach of Woe.                                           20
To be from all things that disquiet, free,
Is not consistent with Humanity.
Youth, Wit, and Beauty, are such charming things,
O’er which, if Affluence spreads her gaudy Wings,
We think the Person, who enjoys so much,                                          25
No Care can move, and no Affliction touch.
Yet could we but some secret method find
To view the dark Recesses of the Mind,
We there might see the hidden Seeds of Strife,
And Woes in Embryo rip’ning into Life;                                                 30
How some fierce Lust, or boist’rous Passion, fills
The lab’ring Spirit with prolific Ills
Pride, Envy, or Revenge, distract his Soul,
And all Right-reason’s God-like Pow’rs controul.
But if she must not be allow’d to sway,                                                 35
Tho’all without, appears serene and gay,
A cank’rous Venom on the Vitals preys,
And poisons all the Comforts of his Days.

External Pomp, and visible Success,
Sometimes contribute to our Happiness;                                             40
But that, which makes it genuine, refin’d,
Is a good Conscience, and a Soul resign’d:
Then, to whatever End Affliction’s sent,
To try our Virtues, or for Punishment,
We bear it calmly, tho’ a pond’rous Woe,                                              45
And still adore the Hand that gives the blow.
For in Misfortunes this advantage lies,
They make us humble, and they make us wise.
And he that can acquire such Virtues, gains
An ample Recompence for all his pains.                                               50

Too soft Caresses of a prosp’rous Fate
The pious Fervours of the Soul abate;
Tempt to luxurious Ease our careless Days,
And gloomy Vapours round the Spirits raise.
Thus lull’d into a sleep, we dosing lie,                                                    55
And find our Ruin in Security;
Unless some Sorrow comes to our Relief,
And breaks th’ Inchantment by a timely Grief.
But as we are allow’d to chear our sight,
In blackest Days, some glimmerings of Light:                                      60
So in the most dejected Hours we may
The secret Pleasure have to weep and pray.
And those Requests, the speediest passage find
To Heaven, which flow from an afflicted Mind:
And while to him we open our Distress,                                               65
Our Pains grow lighter, and our Sorrows less.
The finest Musick of the Grove, we owe
To mourning Philomel’s harmonious Woe;
And while her Grief’s in charming Notes express,
A Thorny Bramble pricks her tender Breast:                                        70
In warbling Melody she spends the Night,
And moves at once Compassion and Delight.

No Choice had e’er so happy an Event,
But he that made it, did that Choice repent.
So weak’s our Judgement, and so short’s our sight,                            75
We cannot level our own Wishes right:
And if sometimes we make a wise advance,
T’our selves we little owe, but much to chance.
So that when Providence, for secret Ends,
Corroding Cares, or sharp Affliction sends                                            80
We must conclude it best it should be so,
And not desponding, or impatient grow.
For he that will his confidence remove,
From boundless Wisdom, and eternal Love,
To place it on himself, or human Aid,                                                     85
Will meet those Woes he labours to evade.
But in the keenest Agonies of Grief,
Content’s a Cordial that still gives Relief.
Heaven is not always angry when he strikes,
But most Chastises those, whom most he likes.                                   90
And if with humble Spirits they complain,
Relieves the Anguish, or rewards the Pain.


3 Inquietudes Restlessness, uneasiness.

29 Seeds of Strife An allusion to Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse man spreads strife, /And a slanderer separates intimate friends.”

31-33 Lust… Pride, Envy, or Revenge Four of the Seven Cardinal Sins; an allusion to them can be found in Proverbs 6:16-19.

38 Comforts of his Days. John 14:1-31, the belief in God as the Father and belief/faith in Christ.

39 Pomp Archaic: vain and boastful display (OED).

68 Philomel An allusion to the daughter of the ancient Athenian king, Pandion. She was raped by the husband (Tereus) of her sister (Procne). While Tereus pursued both Philomel and Procne, Philomel was turned into a swallow and Procne into a nightingale (in Latin versions, Philomel was turned into a nightingale and Procne into a swallow) (Oxford Dictionaries online). The nightingale is known for its unique song.

70 Thorny Bramble A prickly bush plant, also a biblical allusion to the “the Burning bush” in which God appeared before Moses. It is also a symbol of the purity of the Virgin Mary.

88 Cordial Stimulating medicine.

Source: Poems Upon Several Occasions (5th edition) (London, 1720), pp. 60-63. [Google Books]

Edited by Frankie Carrillo

Anonymous, “Sonnet to Mr. Herschel, on his many Astronomical Discoveries”


 “SONNET to Mr. Herschel, on his many Astronomical Discoveries”

 Herschel, all hail! For thee the tuneful Nine
Joyous to add to thy increasing fame
(As thou to Newton’s and to George’s name)
Of choicest flowers a chaplet shall entwine.
Haste then, and fly to Windsor’s air benign                              5
Fair Avon bartering for silver Thame:
Long teach, if length there be to human frame,
New stars to glitter, and new suns to shine.
And when the day shall come, as come it must,
Which by degrees shall dim thy piercing eye,                   10
Bid Vision, Science, Reason, Herschel, die,
And consecrate his mortal part to dust;
Then may thy spirit, with new glory crown’d,
Inherit all the worlds which thou hast found.


Title Mr. Herschel Sir William Herschel was a German-born, British astronomer (1738-1822). He discovered the planet Uranus in 1781 (Encyclopaedia Britannica online). The Gentleman’s Magazine’s editors provide the source for this poem: “From Maty’s Review,” which was also titled A New Review with Literary Curiosities and Literary Intelligence. This periodical was published from 1782-1786 by Henry Maty, the under librarian at the British Museum (Google Books).

1 the tuneful nine The nine muses of arts and sciences in Greek mythology.

3 Newton’s Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726/7), the famous British physicist and mathematician; George’s George III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain (1738-1820), who reigned as king from 1760 until his death. In 1782 George III appointed Herschel the King’s Astronomer (Encyclopaedia Britannica online).

 4 chaplet “A wreath for the head, usually a garland of flowers or leaves, also of gold, precious stones, etc.; a circlet, coronal” (OED).

5 Windsor “The Round Tower at Windsor is said to be intended for Mr. Herschel’s observatory, whose studies hitherto have been prosecuted at Bath” [Author’s Note]. Windsor Castle, a royal residence, was renovated by George III.

6 Avon Herschel lived in Bath, on the Avon River; Thame Windsor Castle is located on the Thames River.

 Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (February, 1783), p. 161.

Edited by Miriam deQuadros White

[Charlotte Lennox], “The Language of the Eyes to Lady J—- F—-“


“THE LANGUAGE of the EYES to LADY J—– F——”


IF forc’d by Tyrant Custom, we
The Anguish of our Souls conceal,
Our Eyes yet boast their Liberty;
Let them the tender Truths reveal;
In soft persuasive Glances speak our Grief,                                                                     5
And from that silent Language find Relief.


Those sweet Betrayers of the Mind,
Can always lend their welcome Aid,
The Thoughts by harsh Restraint confin’d,
By them are all to View betray’d;                                                                                   10
The doubtful War, which Hope and Fear maintain’d,
Are by those charming Orators explain’d.


See Anger in that sparkling Eye,
This in soft Shades of Sorrow drest;
Love, smiling Hope, and tender Joy,                                                                               15
In those inchanting Looks exprest;
The conqu’ring Eyes correct the Lover’s Heart,
And as they Smile or Frown, their Hopes and Fears impart.


Ye Fair, who strive with Darts to arm,
The languid Beauties of your Eyes,                                                                                 20
Of Isabellas learn to charm,
Like hers the ravish’d Soul surprize ;
Her Mind does all their glorious Beams dispense,
Bright as they are they owe their Rays to Sense.


1 Tyrant Custom Custom, defined as “a habitual or usual practice; common way of acting;…(either of an individual or of a community),” is often personified and blamed for certain forms of gendered oppression in eighteenth-century women’s writing (OED).

14 drest Pre-standardization spelling of “dressed.”

16 inchanting, exprest Pre-standardization spellings of “enchanting” and “expressed.”

20 Darts A word commonly used to refer to the arrows of Cupid, the Roman God of desire and attraction, which caused their targets to fall in love (Britannica.com).

22 Isabellas At age 15 Lennox became companion to Lady Isabella Finch, to whom this volume of poems is dedicated (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions. Written by a Young Lady. London: S. Patterson, 1747. pp 26-27. [Google Books]

Edited by Hailey J. Scandrette