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The Poetical Works of the late Christopher Anstey

With Some Account of the Life and Writings of the Author, By his son, John Anstey

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[Some Account of the Life and Writings of the Author]

[From wealth, from honours, and from courts remov'd]

From wealth, from honours, and from courts remov'd,
I've kept the silent path my genius lov'd,
And pitied those whom fortune oft beguiles
With flatt'ring hopes from false ambition's smiles;
Hence far from me the prostituted hour
Of adulation base on pride or pow'r,
Hence (thanks to Heav'n!) I ne'er was doom'd to know


What bitter streams from disappointment flow,
Oh! bane of life's sweet cup!


[With every plague that can conspire]

With every plague that can conspire
To curse a wretched country squire,
Six hundred sheep on fields at Kneeton
Starv'd as their owner was at Eton,
Twelve hide-bound nags, in empty stable,
Like hungry guests at ---'s table;
Calves, cows, and hogs reduced to bone,
Some wanting legs like B*l*k*n,
And all as lean as L---t---n.
Twice twenty hounds, five squalling brats,
One sickly wife, ten thousand rats;
My hay all swimming down the river!
Tell me, ye Gods, what friend would ever


O! say what enemy would choose
To send me four lean Luton hoo's?
Happy, too happy sure is spent
A rural life in sweet content!
This Maro taught me long ago,
But clowns will ne'er their blessings know;
This, on the banks of willowy Cam,
Melodious swan of Bottisham
Assures us we shall find the case,
Though he, too wise to quit his place,
Sings, all reclin'd on Board of Trade,
Of purling streams and sylvan shade,
“And thus, my Lord, he, free from strife,
“Spends an inglorious country life,”
While I, too happy (as I'm told
By Lord of Trade, and Bard of old),
With rustic muse, go plodding on,
In shady grove of Trumpington.
Unskill'd in flattery's softer arts,
Unfit for satire's pointed darts,
Else would my faithful muse reveal
What wights bestride the common-weal:
I'd sing of statesmen's strange invention
To gain for hungry ---s a pension;
I'd paint sweet peace from Heav'n descending,
And Granta's tuneful sons attending,
How to Parnassian hill they jog
Like hide-bound hacks to Gogmagog,
Blund'ring, and stumbling as they mount,
And flound'ring in the Aonian fount,


But such exalted themes belong
To Churchill's bold immortal song,
'Tis he alone can sweep the lyre,
And kindle Britain's languid fire;
Ye Muses bring his just reward,
At Freedom's temple crown the Bard.
Enough for me fresh flowers to bring
From hallow'd banks of Pindus' spring,
With careless hand for thee to twine
Th' unfading wreath at Friendship's shrine.

Horses so called, which his friend had been commissioned to purchase for him at Luton in Bedfordshire.



With a copy of the Patriot, and a present of Cottenham Cheeses.

Donarem pateras, &c. Hor. Lib. iv. Ode 8.

Freely I'd give ye cups of gold,
Rich with the curious works of old;
With coins and medals I'd present ye,
And send ye rings and seals in plenty;
Reward ye like the valiant Greeks,
If I, like Deard, could make antiques.
But gifts like these, my generous Friend,
Nor you expect, nor I can send.
Something to eat, I'd have you know it,
Is no small present from a Poet;
And tho' I took some little pains
In weaving my Pindaric strains,
You're welcome, if my verse displeases,
To d—n my book, and eat my cheeses;
Still will I venture to acquaint ye,
Tho' I, like Gainsborough, cou'd paint ye;
Tho' I with Wilton's art, could give
The animated stone to live;


Yet not the picture, or the busto,
Are things that heroes ought to trust to.
Good generals and statesmen too,
From verse alone, must claim their due;
And oft the friendly Muse supplies
What an ungrateful world denies:
Not the swift flight of threat'ning Lally,
Not every bold successful sally,
Under your banners from Madras,
Tho' told on marble, or on brass:
Not India's distant spoils brought home,
To grace our Henry's lofty dome;
Without the Muses just regard,
Can give the Conqueror his reward.—
—Spite of the law's unjust delay,
Your guerdon still the Muse shall pa y
With faithful steps your fame attend,
And speed the wishes of your friend.
Trumpington, Dec. 24, 1767. C.A.

The Spanish colours which were surrendered to the British arms at the conquest of Manilla, were hung up in the chapel of King's College, Cambridge.


With a Collar of Brawn, Nov. 1768.

Albi, sermonum nostrorum candide Judex. Hor.Lib.1.Ep.4.

Draper, my dear and worthy Friend,
Who read'st with candour all I send;
Say, what employment pleases best,
Since from the north you've travell'd west;
Are you to house of Melmoth flown,
There write what Pliny's self might own?


Or wand'ring near Sabrina's stream,
Explore some wise and virtuous theme:
Where'er thou art, thy active mind
To trifles never is consign'd;
Yet, 'mid the busy cares of life,
Vain scenes of anger, noise, and strife,
Reflect how short our time must last,
Nor think on disappointments past.
The Gods, my friend, your wishes crown,
Make health, success, and fame your own;
Besides, to this indulgent Heaven
A handsome competence has given,
And what is still a greater blessing,
The art of gen'rously possessing
So neat, so plentiful a board,
Not half our modern knights afford,
And much I fear, I scarce am able
To add one dainty to your table;
Yet take the collar I have sent ye,
And draw St. Kennet's corks in plenty.
But that my wife will never cease
Her num'rous offspring to increase,
(And well you know I'm not inclin'd
To leave my better half behind,)
I'd promise soon to come to your house
And play the part of Epicurus.




Non semper imbres nubibus hispidos
Manant in agros.
Hor. Lib. II. Od. 9.

Not always o'er the meads and hills,
From low'ring clouds, the rain distils,


Nor storms with endless uproar sweep
The billows of the Caspian deep.
The sluggish frost in icy chains
Not always binds th' Armenian plains,
Or northern blasts incessant lash
The bending oak, or leafless ash.
But you, my Friend, in pensive strain,
For ever of your loss complain:
With many a tear, and heart-felt groan,
Thy much-lov'd Berney's fate bemoan.
Nor, when the ev'ning shades descend,
Or morning dawns, thy sorrows end:
Yet not through all his lengthen'd age,
With sighs and tears the Pylian sage,
His dear Antilochus bewail'd,
By death's remorseless shaft assail'd;
Nor, of their youthful sons bereav'd,
Have kings and chiefs for ever griev'd:
The English Monarch dropt his tear
O'er Frederick's untimely bier,
But hope, with fortitude combin'd,
Spoke comfort to his wounded mind,
When in his offspring he survey'd
Fresh glories o'er his throne display'd,
And when his hour of grief was oe'r,
The Monarch was himself once more.
The noble Bedford scorn'd to mourn
For ever o'er his Russel's urn,
Nor did the aged Rutland pine,
And all his social joys resign,
Or make his son his endless theme,
Though much his heart was pang'd, I deem,


And many a briny tear he shed,
When Granby's gallant spirit fled.
Then cease, my Friend, thy fond complaint;
Resume thy mirth and humour quaint,
Let us awhile divert our spleen,
Recall the gay, the cheerful scene;
Awhile in Fancy's mirror trace
The social night, the joyous chase;
Let us of ---'s trophies sing,
How he the fox was wont to sting,
While you, when all the hounds were gone,
With boots too short, no stocking on,
Sick, and with midnight supper cramm'd,
All huntsmen, dogs, and foxes d-m-'d;
Yet still unwilling to submit,
Kept spurring on your jaded tit:
Thy image still provokes my smiles,
And many a serious thought beguiles,
No time, my Berney, can efface
The record of thy queer grimace.
Yet, though these joyous hours be past,
Let's catch the present while they last,
And ever through each varying scene
Calm be the soul, the mind serene;
Let not lost friends augment thy pain,
But think on those who still remain:
And of that number be the bard,
Who sends this tribute of regard,
And trims once more his withering bays,
To cheer thee with his faithful lays.




Thro' ev'ry part, of grief or mirth,
To which the mimic stage gives birth,
I ne'er, as yet, with truth could tell,
Where most your various pow'rs excel,
Sometimes, amidst the laughing scene,
Blithe Comedy with jocund mien,
By you in livelier colours drest,
With transport clasp'd you to her breast:
As oft the buskin'd Muse appear'd,
With awful brow her sceptre rear'd;
Recounted all your laurels won,
And claim'd you for her darling son.
Thus each contending Goddess strove,
And each the fairest garland wove.
But which fair nymph could justly boast
Her beauties had engag'd you most,
I doubted much, till t'other day,
Kind fortune threw me in your way;
Where, 'midst the friendly joys that wait
Philander's hospitable gate,
Freedom and genuine mirth I found,
Sporting the jovial board around.
'Twas there with keen, tho' polish'd, jest,
You sat, a pleas'd and pleasing guest;
With social ease a part sustain'd,
More humorous far than e'er you feign'd.


“Take him,” I cried, “bright Comic Maid,
“In all your native charms array'd;
“No longer shall my doubts appear;”
When Clio whisper'd in my ear,
“Go, bid it be no more disputed,
“For what his talents best are suited:
“In mimic characters alone
“Let others shine—but Garrick in his own.”


[I ne'er (tho' fame applaud me to my wrong)]

I ne'er (tho' fame applaud me to my wrong)
Stood forth the champion of Heroic Song;
Or once have felt (so Heav'n direct my ways)
The conscious pang of self-condemning praise;
Tho' but with ivy deck'd, without a frown
I can behold another's laurel crown:


Unfit for me; who from the secret shade
Ne'er to the throne my humble Muse convey'd,
Ne'er dar'd at Majesty my jest to aim
Or sport familiar with his sacred name.
O no !—could I the fragrant garland twine
Of sweetest flow'rs that bloom round Virtue's shrine,
To deck the Husband, Father, and the Man,
Who lives and governs on the Christian plan,
Pleas'd with mild arts his empire to improve,
Blest in his dear and virtuous Consort's love,
Who 'mid the toils of state his hours employs
On ten sweet pledges of connubial joys,
And gives to me (who equal numbers share)
A bright example of paternal care;
Then would I raise my feeble voice to sing
My good, my honour'd, and my gracious King.


[O! pause a while, whoe'er thou art]

O! pause a while, whoe'er thou art,
That drink'st this healing Stream;
If e'er Compassion o'er thy Heart
Diffus'd its heav'nly Beam,
Think on the Wretch, whose distant Lot
This friendly Aid denies;
Think how, in some poor, lonely Cot,
He unregarded lies!
Hither the helpless Stranger bring,
Relieve his heart-felt Woe,
And let thy Bounty, like this Spring,
In genial Currents flow:
So may thy Years from Grief, and Pain,
And pining Want be free,
And thou from Heav'n that Mercy gain,
The Poor receive from thee.