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"T was at that early hour, when now the sun
Behind majestic Lebanon's dark veil
Hid his ascending splendor; yet through each
Her cedar-vested sides his slanting beams
Shot to the strand, and purpled all the main,
Where commerce saw her Sidon's freighted wealth,
With languid streamers, and with folded sails,
Float in a lake of gold. The wind was hushed;
And, to the beach, each slowly-lifted wave,
Creeping with silver curl, just kissed the shore,
And slept in silence. At this tranquil hour
Did Sidon's senate, and the Grecian host,
Led by the conqueror of the world, approach
The secret glade that veiled the man of toil.


Now near the mountain's foot the chief arrived,
Where, round that glade, a pointed aloe screen,
Entwined with myrtle, met in tangled brakes,
That barred all entrance, save at one low gate,
Whose time-disjointed arch, with ivy chained,
Bade stoop the warrior train. A pathway brown
Led through the pass, meeting a fretful brook,
And wandering near its channel, while it leaped
O'er many a rocky fragment, where rude art
Had eased, perchance, but not prescribed its way.

That preached from whispering trees, and babbling | And rich pomegranate, wrapped in dulcet pulp
A lesson seldom learnt in Reason's school, [brooks,
The wise Sidonian lived: and, though the pest
Of lawless tyranny around him raged;
Though Strato, great alone in Persia's gold,
Uncalled, unhallowed by the people's choice,
Usurped the throne of his brave ancestors,
Yet was his soul all peace; a garden's care
His only thought, its charms his only pride.

Their racy seeds; or where the citron's bough
Bent with its load of golden fruit mature.
Meanwhile the lawn beneath the scattered shade
Spread its serene extent; a stately file

Of circling cypress marked the distant bound.

But now the conquering arms of Macedon
Had humbled Persia. Now Phoenicia's realm
Receives the Son of Ammon; at whose frown
Her tributary kings or quit their thrones,
Or at his smile retain; and Sidon, now

Freed from her tyrant, points the victor's step
To where her rightful sovereign, doubly dear
By birth and virtue, pruned his garden grove.


Close was the vale and shady; yet ere long
Its forest sides, retiring, left a lawn

Of ample circuit, where the widening stream
Now o'er its pebbled channel nimbly tripped
In many a lucid maze. From the flowered verge
Of this clear rill now strayed the devious path,
Amid ambrosial tufts where spicy plants,
Weeping their perfumed tears of myrrh, and nard,
Stood crowned with Sharon's rose; or where, apart,
The patriarch palm his load of sugared dates
Showered plenteous; where the fig, of standard

1 Abdolonymus, who, from a gardener, was made a king; see his story, in Diodorus Siculus, Plutarch, Justin, or Quintus Curtius.


Now, to the left, the path ascending pierced
A smaller sylvan theatre, yet decked
With more majestic foliage. Cedars here,
Coeval with the sky-crowned mountain's self,
Spread wide their giant arms: whence, from a rock
Craggy and black, that seemed its fountain head,
The stream fell headlong; yet still higher rose,
Even in the eternal snows of Lebanon,
That hallowed spring; thence, in the porous earth
Long while engulfed, its crystal weight here forced
Its way to light and freedom. Down it dashed;
A bed of native marble pure received
The new-born Naiad, and reposed her wave,
Till with o'erflowing pride it skimmed the lawn.


Fronting this lake there rose a solemn grot,
O'er which an ancient vine luxuriant flung
Its purple clusters, and beneath its roof
An unhewn altar. Rich Sabæan gums
That altar piled, and there with torch of pine
The venerable Sage, now first descried
The fragrant incense kindled. Age had shed
That dust of silver o'er his sable locks,
Which spoke his strength mature beyond its prime,
Yet vigorous still, for from his healthy cheek
Time had not cropped a rose, or on his brow
One wrinkling furrow ploughed his eagle eye
Had all its youthful lightning, and each limb
The sinewy strength that toil demands, and gives.



The warrior saw and paused: his nod withheld
The crowd at awful distance, where their ears,
In mute attention, drank the Sage's prayer.
'Parent of Good,' he cried, 'behold the gifts
Thy humble votary brings, and may thy smile
Hallow his customed offering. Let the hand
That deals in blood with blood thy shrines distain ;
Be mine this harmless tribute. If it speaks
A grateful heart, can hecatombs do more?
Parent of Good! they cannot. Purple Pomp
May call thy presence to a prouder fane
Than this poor cave; but will thy presence there
Be more devoutly felt? Parent of Good!

It will not. Here then shall the prostrate heart,
That deeply feels thy presence, lift its prayer.
But what has he to ask who nothing needs,
Save, what, unasked, is from thy heaven of heavens
Given in diurnal good? Yet, holy Power!
Do all that call Thee, Father, thus exult
In thy propitious presence?
Beneath a tyrant's scourge. Parent of Good!
free my captive country.' Sudden here
He paused and sighed. And now, the raptured crowd

Sidon sinks

Murmur applause: he heard, he turned and saw
The King of Macedon with eager step
Burst from his warrior phalanx.


From the youth,
Who bore its state, the conqueror's own right hand
Snatched the rich wreath, and bound it on his brow.
His swift attendants o'er his shoulders cast
The robe of empire, while the trumpet's voice
Proclaimed him King of Sidon. Stern he stood,
Or, if he smiled, 't was a contemptuous smile,
That held the pageant honors in disdain.
Then burst the people's voice, in loud acclaim,
And bade him be their father. At the word,
The honored blood, that warmed him, flushed his
His brow expanded; his exalted step [cheek;
Marched firmer; graciously he bowed the head,
And was the sire they called him. 'Tell me, king,'
Young Ammon cried, while o'er his bright'ning
He cast the gaze of wonder, 'how a soul [form
Like thine could bear the toils of penury.'
'O grant me, gods!' he answered, 'so to bear
This load of royalty. My toil was crowned
With blessings lost to kings; yet, righteous powers!
If to my country ye transfer the boon,

I triumph in the loss. Be mine the chains
That fetter sovereignty; let Sidon smile
With your best blessings, Liberty and Peace.'



Closed is that curious ear, by Death's cold hand, That marked each error of my careless strain With kind severity; to whom my muse Still loved to whisper, what she meant to sing In louder accent; to whose taste supreme She first and last appealed, nor wished for praise, Save when his smile was herald to her fame.

Yes, thou art gone! yet Friendship's faltering tongue

Invokes thee still; and still, by Fancy soothed,
Fain would she hope her Gray attends the call.
Why, then, alas! in this my favorite haunt,
Place I the urn, the bust, the sculptured lyre,
Or fix this votive tablet, fair inscribed
With numbers worthy thee, for they are thine?
Why, if thou hear'st me still, these symbols sad
Of fond memorial? 1 Ah! my pensive soul!
He hears me not, nor evermore shall hear
The theme his candor, not his taste approved.



Oft, smiling as in scorn,' oft would he cry, 'Why waste thy numbers on a trivial art,

1 The poet Gray died July 31st, 1771; this book was begun a few months after. Mason placed a medallion of his friend Gray, in a rustic alcove of his garden, with an urn; and over the entrance a lyre, with Gray's motto to his odes, from Pindar. Beneath were four lines from Gray's Elegy, beginning, 'Here scattered oft,' etc.

That ill can mimic even the humblest charms
Of all-majestic nature?' At the word
His eye would glisten, and his accents glow
With all the poet's frenzy. 'Sovereign queen!
Behold, and tremble, while thou view'st her state
Throned on the heights of Skiddaw: call thy art
To build her such a throne; that art will feel
How vain her best pretensions. Trace her march
Amid the purple crags of Borrowdale;
And try like those to pile thy range of rock
In rude tumultuous chaos. See! she mounts
Her Naiad car, and down Lodore's dread cliff
Falls many a fathom, like the headlong bard
My fabling fancy plunged in Conway's flood;
Yet not like him to sink in endless night:
For, on its boiling bosom, still she guides
Her buoyant shell, and leads the wave along;
Or spreads it broad, a river, or a lake,

As suits her pleasure; will thy boldest song
E'er brace the sinews of enervate art

To such dread daring? will it ev❜n direct
Her hand to emulate those softer charms
That deck the banks of Dove, or call to birth
The bare romantic crags, and copses green,
That sidelong grace her circuit, whence the rills,
Bright in their crystal purity, descend

To meet their sparkling queen? Around each fount
The hawthorns crowd and knit their blossomed sprays
To keep their sources sacred. Here, e'en here,
Thy art, each active sinew stretched in vain,
Would perish in its pride. Far rather thou
Confess her scanty power, correct, control,
Tell her how far, nor further, she may go ;
And rein with Reason's curb fantastic Taste.'


Yes, I will hear thee, dear lamented shade, And hold each dictate sacred. What remains Unsung shall so each leading rule select As if still guided by thy judgment sage; While, as still modelled to thy curious ear, Flow my melodious numbers; so shall praise, If aught of praise the verse I weave may claim, From just posterity reward my song.


Erewhile to trace the path, to form the fence, To mark the destined limits of the lawn,

The muse, with measured step, preceptive, paced.
Now from the surface with impatient flight
She mounts, Sylvanus! o'er thy world of shade
To spread her pinions. Open all thy glades,
Greet her from all thy echoes. Orpheus-like,
Armed with the spells of harmony, she comes,
To lead thy forests forth to lovelier haunts,
Where Fancy waits to fix them; from the dell
Where now they lurk she calls them to possess
Conspicuous stations; to their varied forms
Allots congenial place; selects, divides,
And blends anew in one Elysian scene.

Yet while I thus exult, my weak tongue feels
Its ineffectual powers, and seeks in vain
That force of ancient phrase which, speaking, paints
And is the thing it sings. Ah, Virgil! why,
By thee neglected, was this loveliest theme
Left to the grating voice of modern reed?
Why not array it in the splendid robe

Of thy rich diction, and consign the charge
To Fame, thy hand-maid, whose immortal plume
Had borne its praise beyond the bounds of time?


Countless is Vegetation's verdant brood

As are the stars that stud yon cope of heaven; To marshal all her tribes, in ordered file Generic, or specific, might demand

His science, wondrous Swede! whose ample mind,
Like ancient Tadmor's philosophic king,
Stretched from the hyssop creeping on the wall
To Lebanon's proudest cedars. Skill like this,
Which spans a third of Nature's copious realm,
Our art requires not, sedulous alone
To note those general properties of form,
Dimension, growth, duration, strength, and hue,
Then first imprest, when, at the dawn of time,
The form-deciding, life-inspiring Word
Pronounced them into being. These prime marks
Distinctive, docile Memory makes her own,
That each its shadowy succor may supply
To her wished purpose; first, with needful shade,
To veil whate'er of wall, or fence uncouth,
Disgusts the eye, which tyrant Use has reared,
And stern Necessity forbids to change.


Lured by their hasty shoots, and branching stems, Planters there are who choose the race of pine For this great end, erroneous; witless they That, as their arrowy heads assault the sky, They leave their shafts unfeathered rather thou Select the shrubs that, patient of the knife, Will thank thee for the wound, the hardy thorn, Holly, or box, privet, or pyracanth. They, thickening from their base, with ten-fold shade Will soon replenish all thy judgment pruned.


But chief, with willing aid, her glittering green Shall England's laurel bring; swift shall she spread Her broad-leaved shade, and float it fair, and wide, Proud to be called an inmate of the soil. Let England prize this daughter of the East 1 Beyond that Latian plant, of kindred name, That wreathed the head of Julius; basely twined Its flattering foliage on the traitor's brow

1 The common English laurel was sent, with the horsechestnut, from Constantinople to Holland, in 1576, to Clusius, who named it lauro-cerasus; it was called Trabison curmasi, or date of Trebisond.

Who crushed his country's freedom. Sacred tree,
Ne'er be thy brighter verdure thus debased!
Far happier thou, in this sequestered bower,
To shroud thy poet, who, with fostering hand,
Here bade thee flourish, and with grateful strain
Now chants the praise of thy maturer bloom.
And happier far that poet, if, secure

His hearth and altars from the pilfering slaves
Of power, his little eve of lonely life
May here steal on, blest with the heartfelt calm
That competence and liberty inspire.



Nor are the plants which England calls her own
Few, or unlovely, that, with laurel joined,
And kindred foliage of perennial green,

Will form a close-knit curtain. Shrubs there are
Of bolder growth, that, at the call of Spring,
Burst forth in blossomed fragrance: lilacs robed
In snow-white innocence, or purple pride;
The sweet syringa yielding but in scent
To the rich orange; or the woodbine wild,
That loves to hang, on barren boughs remote,
Her wreaths of flowery perfume. These beside
Myriads, that here the muse neglects to name,
Will add a vernal lustre to thy veil.


And what if chance collects the varied tribes,
Yet fear not thou but unexpected charms
Will from their union start. But if our song
Supply one precept here, it bids retire
Each leaf of deeper dye, and lift in front
Foliage of paler verdure, so to spread

A canvas, which when touched by Autumn's hand
Shall gleam with dusky gold, or russet rays.
But why prepare for her funereal hand
That canvas? she but comes to dress thy shades,
As lovelier victims for their wintry tomb.
Rather to flowery Spring, to Summer bright,
Thy labors consecrate; their laughing reign,
The youth, the manhood of the growing year,
Deserves that labor, and rewards its pain.
Yet, heedful ever of that ruthless time
When Winter shakes their stems, preserve a file
With ever-during leaf to brave his arm,
And deepening spread their undiminished gloom.


But, if the tall defect demands a screen Of forest shade high-towering, some broad roof Perchance of glaring tile that guards the stores Of Ceres; or the patched disjointed choir Of some old fane, whose steeple's Gothic pride Or pinnacled, or spired, would bolder rise 'In tufted trees high bosomed,' here allot Convenient space to plant that lofty tribe Behind thy underwood, lest o'er its head The forest tyrants shake their lordly arms,

And shed their baleful dews. Each plant that springs
Holds, like the people of some free-born state,
Its rights fair franchised; rooted to a spot,
It yet has claim to air; from liberal heaven
It yet has claim to sunshine, and to showers:
Air, showers, and sunshine, are its liberty.


That liberty secured, a general shade,
Dense and impervious, to thy wish shall rise
To hide each form uncouth; and this obtained,
What next we from the Dryad powers implore
Is grace, is ornament: for see! our lawn,
Though clothed with softest verdure, though relieved
By many a gentle fall and easy swell,

Expects that harmony of light and shade,
Which foliage only gives. Come, then, ye plants!
That, like the village troop when Maia dawns,
Delight to mingle social; to the crest
Of yonder brow we safely may conduct
Your numerous train; no eye obstructed there
Will blame your interposed society:
But, on the plain below, in single stems
Disparted, or in sparing groups distinct,
Wide must ye stand, in wild, disordered mood,
As if the seeds from which your scions sprang
Had there been scattered from the affrighted beak
Of some maternal bird whom the fierce hawk
Pursued with felon claw. Her young meanwhile
Callow, and cold, from their moss-woven nest
Peep forth; they stretch their little eager throats
Broad to the wind, and plead to the lone spray
Their famished plaint importunately shrill.


Yet in this wild disorder Art presides, Designs, corrects, and regulates the whole, Herself the while unseen. No cedar broad Drops his dark curtain where a distant scene Demands distinction. Here the thin abele Of lofty bole, and bare, the smooth-stemmed beech, Or slender alder, give our eye free space Beneath their boughs to catch each lessening charm, F'en to the far horizon's azure bound. REGARD MUST BE HAD TO SIMULTANEOUSNESS OF LEAFING; NATURAL HABITATS, AND SIZE.

Nor will that sovereign arbitress admit,
Where'er her nod decrees a mass of shade,
Plants of unequal size, discordant kind,
Or ruled by foliation's different laws;
But for that needful purpose those prefers
Whose hues are friendly, whose coëval leaves
The earliest open, and the latest fade.

Nor will she, scorning truth and taste, devote
To strange and alien soils her seedling stems;
Fix the dank sallow on the mountain's brow,
Or to the moss-grown margin of the lake
Bid the dry pine descend. From Nature's laws
She draws her own; Nature and she are one.

Nor will she, led by fashion's lure, select,

For objects interposed, the pigmy race
Of shrubs, or scatter with unmeaning hand
Their offspring o'er the lawn, scorning to patch
With many a meagre and disjointed tuft
Its sober surface: sidelong to her path

And polished foreground she confines their growth Where o'er their heads the liberal eye may range.


Nor will her prudence, when intent to form
One perfect whole, on feeble aid depend,
And give exotic wonders to our gaze.

She knows and therefore fears the faithless train;
Sagely she calls on those of hardy class
Indigenous, who, patient of the change
From heat to cold which Albion hourly feels,
Are braced with strength to brave it. These alone
She plants, and prunes, nor grieves if nicer eyes
Pronounce them vulgar. These she calls her friends,
That veteran troop who will not for a blast
Of nipping air, like cowards, quit the field.


Far to the north of thy imperial towers, Augusta! in that wild and Alpine vale, Thro' which the Swale, by mountain-torrents swelled, Flings his redundant stream, there lived a youth Of polished manners; ample his domain, And fair the site of his paternal dome. He loved the art I sing; a deep adept In Nature's story, well he knew the names Of all her verdant lineage; yet that skill Misled his taste; scornful of every bloom That spreads spontaneous, from remotest Ind He brought his foliage; careless of its cost, E'en of its beauty careless; it was rare, And therefore beauteous. Now his laurel screen, With rose and woodbine negligently wove, Bows to the axe; the rich magnolias claim The station; now herculean beeches felled Resign their rights, and warm Virginia sends Her cedars to usurp them; the proud oak Himself, even he, the sovereign of the shade, Yields to the fir that drips with Gilead's balm. Now, Albion, gaze at glories not thy own! Pause, rapid Swale! and see thy margin crowned With all the pride of Ganges; vernal showers Have fixed their roots; nutritious summer suns Favored their growth; and mildest autumn smiled Benignant o'er them: vigorous, fair, and tall, They waft a gale of spices o'er the plain. But winter comes, and with him watery Jove, And with him Boreas in his frozen shroud; The savage spirit of old Swale is roused; He howls amidst his foam. At the dread sight The aliens stand aghast; they bow their heads. In vain the glassy penthouse is supplied: The pelting storm with icy bullets breaks Its fragile barrier; see! they fade, they die.


Warned by his error, let the planter slight
These shivering rarities; or if, to please
Fastidious fashion, he must needs allot
Some space for foreign foliage, let him choose
A sidelong glade, sheltered from east and north,
And free to southern and to western gales;
There let him fix their station; thither wind
Some devious path, that, from the chief design
Detached, may lead to where they safely bloom.
So in the web of epic song sublime

The bard Mæonian interweaves the charm
Of softer episode, yet leaves unbroke
The golden thread of his majestic theme.


What else to shun of formal, false, or vain,
Of long-lined vistas, or plantations quaint,
Our former strains have taught. Instruction now
Withdraws; she knows her limits; knows that grace
Is caught by strong perception, not from rules;
That undressed Nature claims for all her limbs
Some simple garb peculiar, which, howe'er
Distinct their size and shape, is simple still.
This garb to choose, with clothing dense, or thin,
A part to hide, another to adorn,

Is Taste's important task; preceptive song
From error in the choice can only warn.


But vain that warning voice; vain every aid Of Genius, Judgment, Fancy, to secure The planter's lasting fame: there is a power, A hidden power, at once his friend and foe: "T is Vegetation. Gradual to his groves She gives their wished effect; and, that displayed, O, that her power would pause! but, active still, She swells each stem, prolongs each vagrant bough, And darts with unremitting vigor bold From grace to wild luxuriance. Happier far Are you, ye sons of Claude! who, from the mine, The earth, or juice of herb or flower concrete, Mingle the mass whence your Arcadias spring: The beauteous outline of your pictured shades Still keeps the bound you gave it; time, that pales Your vivid hues, respects your pleasing forms. Not so our landscapes: though we paint like you, We paint with growing colors; every year, O'erpassing that which gives the breadth of shade We sought, by rude addition mars our scene.


Rouse, then, ye hinds! ere yet yon closing boughs Blot out the purple distance, swift prevent The spreading evil: thin the crowded glades, While yet of slender size each stem will thrive Transplanted twice repeat the annual toil; Nor let the axe its beak, the saw its tooth, Refrain, whene'er some random branch has strayed Beyond the bounds of beauty; else full soon,

E'en ere the planter's life has past its prime, Will Albion's garden frown an Indian wild.

NATURE'S CHANGES SHOULD NOT DISCOURAGE. Foreboding fears, avaunt! be ours to urge Each present purpose by what favoring means May work its end designed; why deprecate The change that waits on sublunary things, Sad lot of their existence? shall we pause To give the charm of water to our scene, For that the congregated rains may swell Its tide into a flood? or that yon Sun, Now on the Lion mounted, to his noon Impels him, shaking from his fiery mane A heat may parch its channel? O, ye caves, Deepen your dripping roofs ! this feverish hour Claims all your coolness; in your humid cells Permit me to forget the planter's toil; And, while I woo your Naiads to my aid, Involve me in impenetrable gloom.

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Blest is the man (if bliss be human boast) Whose fertile soil is washed with frequent streams, And springs salubrious. He disdains to toss In rainbow dews their crystal to the sun; Or sink in subterranean cisterns deep; That so, through leaden siphons upward drawn, Those streams may leap fantastic. He his ear Shuts to the tuneful trifling of the bard,2 Who tricked a Gothic theme with classic flowers, And sung of fountains bursting from the shells Of brazen Tritons, spouting through the jaws 'Of Gorgons, Hydras, and Chimæras dire.'

Peace to his manes! let the nymphs of Seine Cherish his fame. Thy poet, Albion! scorns, Even for a cold unconscious element, To forge the fetters he would scorn to wear. His song shall reprobate each effort vile, That aims to force the Genius of the stream Beyond his native height; or dares to press Above that destined line the unwilling wave.


Is there within the circle of thy view Some sedgy flat, where the late-ripened sheaves Stand brown with unblest mildew? 't is the bed On which an ample lake in crystal peace Might sleep majestic. Pause we yet; perchance Some midway channel, where the soil declines, Might there be delved, by levels duly led In bold and broken curves: for water loves A wilder outline than the woodland path, And winds with shorter bend. To drain the rest The shelving spade may toil, till wintry showers Find their free course down each declining bank. Quit then the thought: a river's winding form,

1 Written during the remarkably hot weather of June, 1778.

2 René Rapin, a French Jesuit, who wrote a Latin poem on Gardens, in four books, as a supplement to Virgil's Georgics.

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