"The groves of Kew, however misapplied / To serve the purposes of lust and pride, / Were, by the greater monarch's care, designed / A place of conversation for the mind; / Where solitude and silence should remain, / And conscience keep her sessions and arraign."
— Chatterton, Thomas (1752-1770)
To serve the purposes of lust and pride,
Were, by the greater monarch's care, designed
A place of conversation for the mind;
Where solitude and silence should remain,
And conscience keep her sessions and arraign.
But ah! how fallen from that better state!
'Tis now a heathen temple of the great,
Where sits the female pilot of the helm,
Who shakes oppression's fetters through the realm.
Her name is Tyranny, and in a string
She leads the shadow of an infant king;
Dispenses favours with a royal hand,
And marks, like destiny, what lord shall stand;
Her four-fold representative displays
How future statesmen may their fortune raise;
While thronging multitudes their offerings bring,
And bards, like Jones, their panegyrics sing.
The loyal aldermen, a troop alone,
Protest their infamy, to serve the throne;
The merchant-tailor minister declares
He'll mutilate objections with his shears.
Sir Robert, in his own importance big,
Settles his potent, magisterial wig;
Having another legacy in view,
Accepts the measure and improves it too.
Before the altar all the suppliants bow,
And would repeat a speech if they knew how;
A gracious nod the speaking image gave,
And scattered honours upon every knave.
The loyal sons of Caledonia came,
And paid their secret homage to the dame,
Then swore, by all their hopes of future reign,
Each measure of the junto to maintain,
The orders of the ministry to take,
And honour --- for his father's sake.
Well pleased, the goddess dignified his grace,
And scattered round the benefits of place;
With other pensions blessed his lordship's post,
And smiled on murdered --- injured ghost.
Through all the happy lovers' numerous clan
The inexhausted tides of favour ran:
---, ---, happy in a name,
Emerged from poverty to wealth and fame;
And English taxes paid (and scarcely too)
The noble generosity of Kew.
Kew! happy subject for a lengthened lay,
Though thousands write, there's something still to say;
Thy garden's elegance, thy owner's state,
The highest in the present list of fate,
Are subjects where the muse may wildly range,
Unsatiate, in variety of change;
But hold, my dedication is forgot;
Now---shall I praise some late-ennobled Scot?
Exalt the motto of a Highland lord,
And prove him great, like Guthrie, by record?
(Though were the truth to all the nobles known,
The vouchers he refers to are his own.)
Shall I trace ---'s powerful pedigree,
Or show him an attorney's clerk, like me?
Or shall I rather give to --- its due,
And to a Burgum recommend my Kew?
Why sneers the sapient Broughton at the man?
Broughton can't boast the merit Burgum can.
How lofty must imagination soar,
To reach absurdities unknown before!
Thanks to thy pinions, Broughton, thou hast brought
From the moon's orb a novelty of thought.
(pp. 143-5, ll. 175-242)
First 376 lines published as Supplement to Chattertonâ€™s Miscellanies. Kew Gardens. (London, s.n., 1785?). <Link to ESTC>.
See also John Ross Dix and Thomas Chatterton, The Life of Thomas Chatterton (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co, 1837).
Text from The Poetical Works of Thomas Chatterton, (London: George Bell, 1875).