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VERSES

Written at the Request of a Gentleman to whom a Lady had given a Sprig of Myrtle*.

WHAT hopes, what terrors, does thy gift create?
Ambiguous emblem of uncertain fate!
The myrtle (ensign of supreme command,
Consign'd by Venus to Melissa's hand)
Not less capricious than a reigning fair,
Oft favours, oft rejects, a lover's pray'r.
In myrtle shades oft sings the happy swain,
In myrtle shades despairing ghosts complain.
The myrtle crowns the happy lovers heads,
Th' unhappy lovers graves the myrtle spreads.
Oh! then, the meaning of thy gift impart,
And ease the throbbings of an anxious heart.
Soon must this bough, as you shall fix its doom,
Adorn Philander's head, or grace his tomb.

* These verses were first printed in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1768, p. 439, but were written many years earlier. Elegant as they are, Dr. Johnson assured me, they were com posed in the short space of five minutes.

N.

TO LADY FIREBRACE*,

AT BURY ASSIZES.

AT length must Suffolk beauties shine in vain,
So long renown'd in B-n's deathless strain?
Thy charms at least, fair Firebrace, might inspire
Some zealous bard to wake the sleeping lyre;
For, such thy beauteous mind and lovely face,
Thou seem'st at once, bright nymph, a Muse and
Grace.

TO LYCE, AN ELDERLY LADY,

YE nymphs whom starry rays invest,

By flatt'ring poets given,
Who shine, by lavish loyers drest,
In all the pomp of Heaven;

Engross not all the beams on high,
Which gild a lover's lays,
But, as your sister of the sky,

Let Lyce share the praise.

Her silver locks display the moon,

Her brows a cloudy show,

Strip'd rainbows round her eyes are seen,
And show'rs from either flow.

This lady was Bridget, third daughter of Philip Bacon, Esq. of Ipswich, and relict of Philip Evers, Esq. of that town. She became the second wife of Sir Cordell Firebrace, the last Baronet of that name (to whom she brought a fortune of 25,000l.), July 26, 1737. Being again left a widow in 1759, she was a third time married, April 7, 1762, to William Campbell, Esq. uncle to the present Duke of Argyle, and died July 3, 1782.

Her teeth the night with darkness dyes,
She's starr'd with pimples o'er;
Her tongue like nimble lightning plies,
And can with thunder roar.

But some Zelinda, while I sing,
Denies my Lyce shines;
And all the pens of Cupid's wing
Attack my gentle lines.

Yet, spite of fair Zelinda's eye,
And all her bards express,
My Lyce makes as good a sky,
And I but flatter less.

ON THE DEATH OF

MR. ROBERT LEVET,

A Practiser in Physic.

CONDEMN'D to Hope's delusive mine,
As on we toil from day to day,
By sudden blasts, or slow decline,
Our social comforts drop away.

Well try'd through many a varying year,
See Levet to the grave descend,
Officious, innocent, sincere,

Of ev'ry friendless name the friend.

Yet still he fills Affection's eye,
Obscurely wise, and coarsely kind;
Nor, letter'd Arrogance, deny

Thy praise to merit unrefin'd.
de nobis a 3

tangula de

anni prædenten.

euntes fr. Hor. Lib. 2. Ep. 2. 5.

When fainting nature call'd for aid,
And hov'ring death prepar'd the blow
His vig'rous remedy display'd

The pow'r of art without the show.

In misery's darkest cavern known,
His useful care was ever nigh,
Where hopeless anguish pour'd his groan,
And lonely want retir'd to die.

No summons mock'd by chill delay,
No petty gain disdain'd by pride,
The modest wants of ev'ry day

The toil of ev'ry day supply'd.

His virtues walk'd their narrow round,
Nor made a pause, nor left a void;
And sure th' Eternal Master found
The single talent well employ'd.

The busy day-the peaceful night,
Unfelt, uncounted, glided by;
His frame was firm-his powers were bright,
Though now his eightieth year was nigh.

Then, with no fiery throbbing pain,
No cold gradations of decay,"
Death broke at once the vital chain,

And freed his soul the nearest way.

EPITAPH ON CLAUDE PHILLIPS,

AN ITINERANT MUSICIAN*.

PHILLIPS! whose touch harmonious could remove
The pangs of guilty pow'r, and hapless love,
Rest here, distrest by poverty no more,
Find here that calm thou gav'st so oft before;
Sleep undisturb'd within this peaceful shrine,
Till angels wake thee with a note like thine,

EPITAPHIUM†

IN

THOMAM HANMER, BARONETTUM.

Honorabilis admodum THOMAS HANMER,
Baronettus,

Wilhelmi Hanmer armigeri, è Peregrina Henrici

North

De Mildenhall in Com. Suffolciæ Baronetți sorore
et hærede,
Filius;

Johannis Hanmer de Hanmer Baronetti
Hæres patruelis

Antiquo gentis suæ et titulo et patrimonio successit,

These lines are among Mrs. Williams's Miscellanies: they are nevertheless recognised as Johnson's in a memorandum of his hand-writing, and were probably written at her request. Phillips was a travelling fidler up and down Wales, and was greatly celebrated for his performance.

† At Hanmer church, in Flintshire.

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