Without preamble, to my friend

First Line Without preamble, to my friend
Author Isabella Howard
Addressee Frances Macartney Greville
Date c1770

Answer [Passions]. 

Often follows Greville Crewe's "Oft I've implor'd the gods in vain..."

Transcribed from The Countess of C[arlisle], "The Fairy's Answer to Mrs. Greville." A collection of poems in four volumes... ed. 2, vol. 1, pp. 306–309. Eighteenth Century Collections Online, GALE|CW0115307555.



Without preamble, to my friend,

These hasty lines I'm bid to send,

Or give, if I am able;

I dare not hesitate to say,

Tho' I have trembled all the day—

It looks so like a fable.


Last night's adventure is my theme,

And should it strike you as a dream,

Yet soon its high import

Must make you own the matter such,

So delicate, it were too much,

To be compos'd in sport.


The moon did shine serenely bright,

And every star did deck the night,

While Zephyr fann'd the trees,

No more assail'd in my mind's repose,

Save, that yon stream, which murmuring flows,

Did echo to the breeze.


Enwrapt in solemn thoughts, I sate[sic],

Revolving o'er the turns of fate,

Yet void of hope, or fear;

When lo! behold an aëry throng,

With lightest steps, and jocund song,

Surpris'd my eye and ear.


A form, superior to the rest,

His little voice to me addrest,

And gently thus began,

"I've heard strange things from one of you,

"Pray tell me if you think 'tis true,

"Explain it if you can.


"Such incense has perfum'd my throne!

"Such eloquence my heart has won!

"I think I guess the hand;

"I know her wit and beauty too,

"But why she sends a prayer so new;

"I cannot understand.


"To light some flames, and some revive,

"To keep some others just alive,

"Full oft I am implor'd;

"But, with peculiar power to please,

"To supplicate for nought but ease—

"'Tis odd, upon my word!


"Tell her, with fruitless care I've sought,

"And thro' my realms, with wonders fraught,

"In remedies abound,

"No grain of cold Indifference

"Was ever yet ally'd to Sense,

"In all my fairy round.


"The regions of the sky I'd trace,

"I'd ransack every earthly place,

"Each leaf, each herb, each flower,

"To mitigate the pangs of Fear,

"Dispel the clouds of black Despair,

"Or lull the restless hour.


"I would be generous, as I'm just,

"But I obey, as others must,

"Those laws which Fate has made.

"My tiny kingdom how defend,

"And what might be the horrid end

"Should Man my state invade?


"'Twould put your mind into a rage,

"And such unequal war to wage

"Suits not my regal duty!

"I dare not change a first decree,

"She's doom'd to please, nor can be free,

"Such is the lot of Beauty!"


This said, he darted o'er the plain,

And after follow'd all his train;

No glimpse of him I find;

But sure I am, the little spright

These words, before he took his flight,

Imprinted on my mind.