Canto II

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Originally published June 1809 in The Poetical Magazine, pp. 62-67.

[Continued from p. 10]
The farewell ceremony o’er.
Madam went in and bang’d the door:
No wofultear bedew’d her eye,
Nor did she heave a single sigh;
But soon began her daily trade,
To chide the man and scold the maid;
While Syntax, with his scheme besotted,
Along the village gently trotted.
The folks, on daily labor bent,
Whistled and carrol’d as they went;
But, as the Doctor pass’d along,
Bow’d down their heads, and ceas’d their song:
He gravely nodded to the people,–
And then look’d2 upwards to the steeple;
And3 thus, in mutt’ring tones, express’d
The disappointments of his breast:–
“That thankless parent, Mother Church,
Has ever left me in the lurch;
And, while so many fools are seen
To strut a Rector or a Dean,
Who live in ease, and find good cheer
On ev’ry day of ev’ry4 year,
So small her share of true discerning,
She turned her back on all my learning.5
And what has been my poor6 reward?
I7 dug the ground, while some rich Vicar
Press’d the ripe grape, and drank the liquor;
I fed the flock, while others ate8
The mutton’s nice delicious meat;
I’ve kept the hive and made the honey,
While the drones pocket all9 the money.”
But now, on better things intent.
On far more grateful labours bent,
New prospects open to my view,
So, thankless Mother Church, adieu!”
Thus having said his angry say,
Syntax proceeded on his way.

The morning lark ascends on high,
And with its music greets the sky;
The blackbird whistles, and the thrush
Warbles his wild notes in the bush;
While ev’ry hedge and ev’ry tree
Resounds with vocal minstrelsy:
But Syntax, rapt in thought profound,
Is deaf to each enliv’ning sound;
Revolving many a golden scheme,
And yielding to the pleasing dream,
The reins hung loosely from his hand,
While Grizzle, senseless of command,
Unguided pac’d the road along,
Nor knew if it were right or wrong.
In10 the deep vale, and up the hill,
By roaring stream and tinkling rill,
Grizzle her thoughtful master bore,
Who, counting future treasures o’er,
And, on his weighty projects bent,
Observ’d not whither Grizzle went.
And thus11 did Fancy’s soothing pow’r
Cheat him of many a fleeting hour;
Nor did he know the pacing Sun
Had half his daily circuit run.
Sweet airy sprite, that can bestow
A pleasing respite to our woe,
That can corroding care beguile,
And make the woe-worn face to smile.12
But ah! too soon the vision passes,
Confounded by a pack of asses!
The donkies bray’d; and lo! the sound
Awak’d him from his thought profound;
And, as he star’d, and look’d around,
He said, –or else he seem’d to say,–
“I find that I have lost my way.
“Oh! what a wide expanse I see,
“Without a wood, without a tree;
“No one’s at hand, no house is near,
“To tell the way, or give good cheer;
“For now a sign would be a treat,
“To tell us we might drink and eat:
“But sure there is not in my sight
“The name of any living wight;
“For all around upon this common,
“I neither see or man or woman:
“No dogs to bark, no cocks to crow,
“No sheep to bleat, no herds to low:
“And if these asses did not bray,
“And thus some signs of life betray,
“I well might think I were hurl’d
“Into some sad unpeopled world.
“How could I come, misguided wretch!
“To where I cannot make a sketch?”
Thus13 as he ponder’d what to do,
A guide-post rose within his view;
And, when the pleasing shape he spied,
He prick’d his steed, and thither hied;
But some unheeding senseless wight,
Who to fair learning ow’d a spite,14
Had ev’ry letter’d mark defac’d,
Which once its sev’ral pointers grac’d.
The mangled post thus long had stood,
An uninforming piece of wood;
Like other guides, as some folks say,
Who neither lead, nor point the way.
The Sun, as hot as he was bright,
Had got to his meridian height;Pl 2 Losing His Way
“‘Twas sultry noon––for not a breath
Of cooling zephyr fann’d the heath––
When Syntax cried––” ‘Tis all in vain
To find my way across the plain;
So here my fortune I will try,
And wait till some one passes by:
Upon that bank awhile I’ll sit,
And let poor Grizzle graze a bit;
But as my time shall not be lost,
I’ll make a drawing of the post;
And, tho’ your flimsy tastes may flout it,
There’s something picturesque about it:
‘Tis rude and rough, without a gloss.
And is well cover’d o’er with moss;
And I’ve a right––(who dares deny it?)
To place your group of asses by it.
“Aye! this will do: and now I’m thinking,
That self-same pond where Grizzle’s drinking,
If hither brought ‘twould better seem,
And faith I’ll turn it to a stream;
I’ll make this flat a shaggy ridge,
And o’er the water throw a bridge:
I’ll do as other sketchers do–
Put anything into the view;
And any object recollect,
To add a grace, and give effect.
Thus, though from truth I haply err,
The scene preserves its character.
What man of taste my right will doubt,
To put things in, or leave them out?
‘Tis more than right, it is a duty,
If we consider landscape beauty:
He ne’er will as an artist shine,
Who copies Nature line by line:
Whoe’er from Nature takes a view,
Must copy and Improve it too.
To heighten ev’ry work of art,
Fancy should take an active part:
Thus I (which few, I think, can boast)
Have made a Landscape of a Post

So far, so good –– but no one passes,
No living creature but these asses;
And, should I sit and hear them bray,
I were as great a beast as they:
So I’ll be off;—from yonder down
I may, perhaps, descry a town;
Or some tall spire, among the trees,
May give my way-worn spirit ease.”

Grizzle again he soon bestrode,
And wav’d his whip, and off he rode;
But all around was dingy green,
No spire arose, no town was seen:
At length he reach’d a beaten road,
How great a joy the sight bestow’d!
So on he went in pleasant mood,
And shortly gain’d a stately wood,
Where the refreshing zephyrs play’d,
And cool’d the air beneath the shade.
Oh! what a change, how great the treat,
To fanning breeze from sultry heat!
But ah! how false is human joy!
When least we think it, ills annoy;
For now, with loud impetuous rush,
Three ruffians issued from a bush;
One Grizzle stopp’d, and seiz’d the reins,
While they all threat the Doctor’s brains.
Poor Syntax, trembling with affright,
Resists not such superior might,
But yields him to their savage pleasure,
And gives his purse, with all its treasure;
But, fearing that15 the Doctor’s view
Might be to follow and pursue,Pl 3 Stopped by Highwayman
The cunning robbers wisely counted,
That he, of course, should be dismounted;
And still that it would safer be,
If he were fasten’d to a tree.
Thus to a tree they quickly bound him,­
The cruel cords went round and round him;
And, having of all pow’r bereft him,
They tied him fast, and then they left him.

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1. woful PM, 1812a] woeful 1812b
2. And then look’d PM, 1812a] Then, looking 1812b
3. And PM, 1812a] He 1812b
4. every 1812a1812b
5. Line added here in 1812a and retained in 1812b : “I’ve in her vineyard labour’d hard,”
6. poor] lean 1812a, 1812b
7. I’ve 1812a, 1812b
8. eat 1812a, 1812b
9. pocket all] pocketed the 1812a, 1812b
10. Through 1812a, 1812b
11. And thus PM, 1812a] Thus 1812b
12. smile! 1812a, 1812b
13. Thus, PM, 1812a] And 1812b
14. spite, PM, 1812a] spight, 1812b
15. But, fearing that PM, 1812a] Fearing, howe’er, 1812b

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