The Muse, like Cato, "Well [...] supplies her want of softer art / By all the sterling treasures of the heart."

— Hayley, William (1745-1820)

Place of Publication
Printed for J. Dodsley
The Muse, like Cato, "Well [...] supplies her want of softer art / By all the sterling treasures of the heart."
Metaphor in Context
Of coarser form, with less pathetic charms,
Hating with Stoic pride a tyrant's arms,
In the keen fervour of that florid time
When youthful Fancy pours her hasty rhyme,
When all the mind's luxuriant shoots appear,
Untrimm'd by Art, by Interest, or Fear,
See daring Lucan for that wreath contend,
Which Freedom twines for her poetic friend.
'Tis thine, thou bold but injur'd Bard, 'tis thine!
Tho' Critic spleen insult thy rougher line;
Tho' wrong'd thy Genius, and thy Name misplac'd
By vain distinctions of fastidious Taste;
Indignant Freedom, with just anger fir'd,
Shall guard the Poet whom herself inspir'd.
What tho' thy early, uncorrected page
Betrays some marks of a degenerate age;
Tho' many a tumid point thy verse contains,
Like warts projecting from Herculean veins;
Tho' like thy Cato thy stern Muse appear,
Her manners rigid, and her frown austere;
Like him, still breathing Freedom's genuine flame,
Justice her idol, Public Good her aim,
Well she supplies her want of softer art
By all the sterling treasures of the heart;

By Energy, from Independance caught,
And the free Vigour of unborrow'd Thought.
Thou Bard most injur'd by malicious fate,
Could not thy Blood appease a tyrant's hate?
Must He, still gall'd by thy poetic claim,
With falshood persecute thy moral fame?
Shall History's pen, to aid his vengeance won,
Brand thee, brave Spirit! as an impious Son,
Who meanly fear'd to yield his vital flood,
And sought his safety by a Parent's blood?
Base calumny, at which Belief must halt,
And blind Credulity herself revolt.
Could that firm Youth become so vile a slave,
Whose voice new energy to virtue gave;
Whose Stoic soul all abject thoughts abhorr'd,
And own'd no sordid passion as its lord;
Who in the trying hour of mortal pain,
While life was ebbing from his open vein,
Alike unconscious of Remorse and Fear,
His heart unshaken, and his senses clear,
Smil'd on his doom, and, like the fabled bird
Whose music on Meander's bank was heard,
Form'd into tuneful notes his parting breath,
And sung th' approaches of undreaded death?
Rise, thou wrong'd Bard! above Detraction's reach,
Whose arts in vain thy various worth impeach;
Enjoy that fame thy spirit knew to prize,
And view'd so fondly with prophetic eyes.
Tho' the nice Critics of fastidious France
Survey thy Song with many a scornful glance,
And as a Goth the kinder judge accuse,
Who with their great Corneille commends thy Muse,
Let Britain, eager as the Lesbian State
To shield thy Pompey from the wrongs of Fate,
To thee with pride a fond attachment show,
Thou Bard of Freedom! tho' the world's thy foe.
As keenly sensible of Beauty's sway,
Let our just isle such generous honour pay
To the fair partner of thy hapless life,
As Lesbos paid to Pompey's lovely Wife.
Ye feeling Painters, who with genius warm
Delineate Virtue in her softest form,
Let Argentaria on your canvass shine,
A graceful mourner at her Poet's shrine;
For, nobly fearless of the Tyrant's hate,
She mourns her murder'd Bard in solemn state;
With pious care she decks his splendid tomb,
Where the dark Cypress sheds its soothing gloom,
There frequent takes her solitary stand,
His dear Pharsalia in her faithful hand;
That hand, whose toil the Muses still rehearse,
Which fondly copied his unfinish'd Verse.
See, as she bends before his recent urn,
See tender Grief to Adoration turn!
O lovely Mourner! could my Song bestow
Unfading glory on thy generous woe,
Age after age thy virtue should record,
And thou should'st live immortal as thy Lord.
Him Liberty shall crown with endless praise,
True to her cause in Rome's degenerate days;
Him, like his Brutus, her fond eye regards,
And hails him as the last of Roman Bards.
Searching "sterling" and "heart" in HDIS (Poetry)
4 entries in LION and ESTC (1782, 1785, 1788).

First published as An Essay on Epic Poetry; in Five Epistles to the Revd. Mr. Mason. With Notes. (London: Printed for J. Dodsley, 1782). <Link to Hathi Trust>

Reprinted in Poems and Plays, by William Hayley, Esq. (London: Printed for T. Cadell, 1785). <Link to ECCO>

Text from new edition of Poems and Plays, by William Hayley, Esq. (London: Printed for T. Cadell, 1788). See also William Hayley, Poems and Plays, by William Hayley, Esq., vol. 3 of 6 vols. (London: Printed for T. Cadell, 1785). <Link to ECCO>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.