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TO :


[First published in 1777.]

Dragon! since lyrics are the mode,
To thee I dedicate my Ode,

And reason good I plead :
Are those who cannot write to blame
To draw their hopes of future fame

From those who cannot read ?


O could I, like that nameless wight,*
Find the choice minute when to write,

The mollia tempora fandi !
Like his, my muse should learn to whistle
A true Heroical Epistle,

In strains which never can die.


Father of lyrics, tuneful Horace!
Can thy great shade do nothing for us

To mend the British lyre ?

* See the admirable epistle to Sir William Chambers.

[The poetical satire here mentioned for many years excited almost as much speculation, respecting its origin, as the far-famed Letters of Junius. It is now, however, settled beyond all doubt, that Mason was the author of the “ Heroic Epistle."--Ed.]

Our luckless bards have broke the strings,
Seized the scared muses, plucked their wings,
And put out all their fire.*

Dragon! thou tyrant of the yard,
Great namesake of that furious guard

That watched the fruits Hesperian!
Thy choicer treasures safely keep,
Nor snatch one moment's guilty sleep,

Fidelity's criterion.

O Dragon! change with me thy fate,
To give me up thy place and state,

And I will give thee mine;
I left to think, and thou to feed !
My mind enlarged, thy body freed,

How blest my lot and thine !


Then shalt thou scent the rich regale
Of turtle and diluting ale,

Nay, share the savory bit;
And see what thou hast never seen,
For thou hast but at Hampton been,

A feast devoid of wit.

Oft shalt thou snuff the smoking venison,
Devoured, alone, by hungry denizen,

So fresh thou'lt long to tear it;
Though Flaccus † tells a different tale
Of social souls who chose it stale,

Because their friends should share it.

And then on me what joys would wait,
Were I the guardian of thy gate,

How useless bolt and latch!

* A profusion of Odes had appeared about this time, which strikingly violated all the rules of lyrical composition.

t Hor. lib. ii. Sat. 2.

How vain were locks, and bars how vain, To shield from harm the household train

Whom I, from love, would watch !

Not that 'twould crown with joy my life,
That Bowden,* or that Bowden's wife,

Brought me my daily pickings;
Though she, accelerating fate,
Decrees the scanty mortal date

Of turkeys and of chickens?

Though fired with innocent ambition,
Bowden, great nature's rhetorician,

More flowers than Burke produces; And though he's skilled more roots to find, Than ever stocked an Hebrew's mind,

And knows their various uses.

I'd get my master's ways by rote,
Ne'er would I bark at ragged coat,

Nor tear the tattered sinner;
Like him, I'd love the dog of merit,
Caress the cur of broken spirit,

And give them all a dinner.

Nor let me pair his blae-eyed dame
With Venus' or Minerva's name,

One warrior, one coquet;
No; Pallas and the queen of beauty
Shunned, or betrayed that nuptial duty,

Which she so high has set.

Whene'er I heard the rattling coach
Proclaim their long-desired approach,

How would I haste to greet 'em!

* The gardener and poultry woman at Hampton.

Nor ever feel I wore a chain,
Till, starting, I perceived with pain
I could not fly to meet 'em.

. XIV.
The master loves his sylvan shades ; -
Here with the nine melodious maids,

His choicest hours are spent; Yet I shall hear some witling cry, (Such witling from my presence fly!)

“Garrick will soon repent :

XV. “Again you'll see him, never fear; Some half a dozen times a year

He still will charm the age; Accustomed long to be admired, Of shades and streams he'll soon be tired,

And languish for the stage.”

Peace !-To his solitude he bears
The full-blown fame of thirty years;

He bears a nation's praise :
He bears his liberal, polished mind,
His worth, his wit, his sense refined;
He bears his well-earned bays.

When warm admirers drop a tear
Because this sun has left his sphere,

And set before his time,
I, who have felt and loved his rays,
What they condemn will loudly praise,

And call the deed sublime.

XVIII. How wise ! long pampered with applause, To make a voluntary pause

And lay his laurels down! Boldly repelling each strong claim, To dare assert to wealth and fame,

" Enough of both I've known.”

How wise! a short retreat to steal,
The vanity of life to feel,

And from its cares to fly;
To act one calm, domestic scene,
Earth's bustle, and the grave between,

Retire and learn to die !

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