An Epistle to Fulwar Craven Fowlle Esqr.
supposed Secretary of State in the reign of Geo: 4th
by James Austen a Country Curate.
While you my Friend, with titles crowned
Tread busy life’s fatiguing round;
While the loud voice of Fame,
Where e’re his tide Ocean pours
‘Gainst barbarous nation’s distant shores
Spreads far & wide your name;
Can’st Thou awhile thy brow unbend
And.deign with pleasure to attend
His unaffected Lays,
Who, pleased thy growing worth to see,
First tuned e Doric need for thee
To celebrate thy praise?
Remember well thou can’st I ween,
Each tranquil hour, each happy scene,
Which we were wont to taste;
When we no other pleasure sought,
No joys remote, or dearly bought
In our own converse blest.
Together often have we strayed
Thro’ many a daisy-dappled mead,
And flower-enamelled vales;
Or haply thro’ some leafy grove
Caught the soft plainings of the dove,
Who her lost mate bewails.
By Phoebus hotter beams when tired,
Together oft have we retired
To some wood-fringed retreat;
Where the time beaten willow shoots
Thro’ the worn banks it’s tangled roots
For Na´ds trim the seat.
Oft were we wont in such recess,
When disencumberd of all dress,
To stem the avderse tide;
With open arms wave embrace,
The wave that to our arms gave place,
When gently thrown aside.
But when the dog-star’s fiercer beams
Retire, & Autumn pours his streams
O’er every misty vale,
High on the upands when the morn
First echoes to the Hunter’s horn
We met the piercing gale.
When winter came with look profound
To crown the variegated round,
And close the circling year;
When by the blasts of Eurus keen
Dismantled of their livery green
The leafless woods appear:
When. frosts that rise, & winds that pierce
And snows descending foul & fierce
Forbade the sylvan toil;
The genial feast we’d then prolong;
With festive mirth and jocund song
The weary hours beguile.
What though those days can ne’er return
‘Twere folly sure for that to mourn;
‘Twere wise to be content;
With what the Gods to us allow,
And thank them with unclouded brow,
For all their blessings sent.
To different men the fates assign
A different part to act; ‘twas thine,
To bask in glory’s blaze;
Twas mine to woo in lowly strain
The nymphs of fountain, wood or plain
To bless my peaceful lays.
With temper mild, & manners sweet,
With chaste affection’s winning smile,
That pain & sickness can beguile
With tender assiduous care,
My griefs to lessen or to share.
So whispered hope nor said too much,
For I have ever found you such;
And often, as the newborn year
Brings back this seasoncold & drear,
More welcome than the cheerful May,
Is January’s wintry day.
For on that day, to me was given,
On earth, the ”last, best gift of Heaven”.
Then read my love these artless lays,
And blush not at a Husband’s praise,
Whom fifteen years of love, have taught
To prize your merits as he ought.