Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

my

a thing, and, presto, it was done, and much more than that into the bargain: my mind was set in motion, my spirits stirred and quickened, and raised to their proper height. I watched the cloud, and dissipated it at its first gathering, as well knowing that, if it could grow but to the largeness of a man's hand, it would spread out every where, and darken

whole horizon. Oh that this example might be as profitable to others as the practice has been to myself! How rich would be the reward of this book, if its readers would but take it to heart in this one article; if the simple truths that it here speaks could prompt them to take their happiness into their own hands, and learn the value of industry, not from what they may have heard of it, but because they have them-selves tried and felt it! In the first place, its direct and immediate value, inasmuch as it quickens, and cheers, and gladdens every moment that it occupies, and keeps off the evil one by repelling him at the outposts, instead of admitting him to a doubtful, perhaps a deadly, struggle in the citadel; and again its more remote, but no less certain, value, as the mother of many virtues, when it has once grown into the temper of the mind; and the nursing mother of many more.

And if we gain so much by its entertainment, how much more must we not lose by its neglect! Our vexations are annoying to us, the disappointments of life are grievous, its calamities deplorable, its indulgences and lusts sinful; but our idleness is worse than all these, and more painful, and more hateful, and in the amount of its consequences, if not in its very essence, more sinful than even sin itselfjust as the stock is more fruitful than any branch that springs from it. In fine, do what you will, only do something, and that actively and energetically. Read, converse, sport, think, or study-the whole range

open to you-only let your mind be full, and then you will want little or nothing to fulfil your happiness.

127.-Introduction to the Night-Thoughts.

Youxg. (We scarcely know whether the Night Thoughts' of EDWARD Young have ceased to find a place in the libraries of general readers. Half a century ago they were amongst the most popular of poems,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

and were reprinted in every collection which bore the name of 'Eng. lish Classics.' There are some things in them which ought not to be forgotten. Their general tone is gloomy; their satire is harsh ; there is much of meretricious ornament in their illustrations; the blank verse wants the musical flow of the great masters of that noble instrument; but they are strikingly impressive; and we have few productions more calculated to arrest the career of levity-perhaps only for a passing moment-by presenting to its view", the vast concerns of an eternal scene. Young's Satires, entitled “The Love of Fame;' are sometimes looked at; and they stand out to advantage amidst the poetical mediocrity of the age which succeeded Pope. His tragedies are forgotten, in their false sublime of language and exaggerated display of character. Edward Young was born in 1684, according to the most correct accounts, and died in 1765. He did not take orders in the Church till 1727.]

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Tired Nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep,
He, like the world, his ready visit pays
Where fortune smiles; the wretched he forsakes;
Swift on his downy pinion flies from woe,
And lights on lids unsullied with a tear.

From short (as usual) and disturb'd repose,
I wake: how happy they who wake no more!
Yet that were vain, if dreams infest the grave.
I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams,
Tumultuous; where my wreck'd desponding thought,
From wave to wave of fancied misery,
At random drove, her helm of reason lost.
Though now restored, 'tis only change of pain,
(A bitter change !) severer for severe.
The day too short for my distress; and night,
Ev'n in the zenith of her dark domain,
Is sunshine to the colour of

my

fate.
Night, sable goddess! from her ebon throne,
In rayless majesty, now stretches forth
Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumb'ring world.
Silence, how dead! and darkness, how profound !
Nor eye, nor list'ning ear, an object finds;
Creation sleeps. "Tis as the gen'ral pulse

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

in the grave

Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause;
An awful pause ! prophetic of her end.
And let her prophecy be soon fulfill’d;
Fate! drop the curtain ; I can lose no more.

Silence, and Darkness! solemn sisters ! twins
From ancient Night, who nurse the tender thought
To reason, and on reason build resolve,
(That column of true majesty in man,)
Assist me: I will thank

you The grave, your kingdom; there this frame shall fall A victim sacred to your dreary shrine. But what are ye?

Thou who didst put to flight
Primæval silence, when the morning stars,
Exulting, shouted on the rising ball;
O thou, whose word from solid darkness struck
That spark, the sun; strike wisdom from my soul ;
My soul, which flies to thee, her trust, her treasure,
As misers to their gold, while others rest.

Through this opaque of nature, and of soul,
This double night, transmit one pitying ray,
To lighten and to cheer. Oh, lead my mind;
(A mind that fain would wander from its woe;)
Lead it through various scenes of life and death ;
And from each scene the noblest truths inspire.
Nor less inspire my conduct, than my song;
Teach my best reason, reason; my best will
Teach rectitude; and fix my firm resolve
Wisdom to wed, and pay her long arrear;
Nor let the phial of thy vengeance, pour'd
On this devoted head, be pour'd in vain.

The bell strikes one. We take no note of time,
But from its loss. To give it then a tongue
Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke,
I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright,
It is the knell of my departed hours :
Where are they? With the years beyond the flood.
It is the signal that demands despatch ;

How much is to be done! My hopes and fears
Start

up

alarm’d, and o'er life's narrow verge
Look down-On what? A fathomless abyss;
A dread eternity! how surely mine!
And can eternity belong to me,
Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?

How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
How complicate, how wonderful, is man!
How passing wonder he, who made him such !
Who centred in our make such strange extremes,
From diff'rent natures marvellously mix'd !
Connection exquisite of distant worlds!
Distinguish'd link in being's endless chain !
Midway from nothing to the Deity!
A beam ethereal, sullied, and absorb'd!
Though sullied, and dishonour'd, still divine !
Dim miniature of greatness absolute !
An heir of glory! a frail child of dust!
Helpless immortal ! insect infinite!
A worm! a god !-I tremble at myself,
And in myself am lost! at home a stranger,
Thought wanders up and down, surprised, aghast,
And wond'ring at her own : How reason reels!
Oh, what a miracle to man is man.
Triumphantly distress'd! what joy, what dread!
Alternately transported, and alarm'd!
What can preserve my life! or what destroy !
An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave;
Legions of angels can't confine me there.

'Tis past conjecture; all things rise in proof;
While o'er my limbs sleep's soft dominion spread,
What though my soul fantastic measures trod
O'er fairy fields; or mourn'd along the gloom
Of pathless woods; or, down the craggy steep
Hurl'd headlong, swam with pain the mantled pool;
Or scaled the cliff; or danced on hollow winds,
With antic shapes, wild natives of the brain !
Her ceaseless flight, though devious, speaks her nature
Of subtler essence than the trodden clod ;
Active, aërial, tow'ring, unconfined,
Unfetter'd with her gross companion's fall.
Ev'n silent night proclaims my soul immortal :
Ev'n silent night proclaims eternal day.
For human weal, Heav'n husbands all events ;
Dull sleep instructs, nor sport vain dreams in vain.

Why then their loss deplore, that are not lost ?
Why wanders wretched thought their tombs around,
In infidel distress? Are angels there?
Slumbers, raked up in dust, ethereal fire ?

They live! they greatly live a life on earth
Unkindled, unconceived; and from an eye
Of tenderness let heav'nly pity fall
On me, more justly number'd with the dead.
This is the desert, this the solitude:
How populous, how vital, is the grave !
This is creation's melancholy vault,
The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom ;
The land of apparitions, empty shades !
All, all on earth, is shadow; all beyond
Is substance; the reverse is folly's creed :
How solid all, where change shall be no more !

128.—DEPOSITION OF KING RICHARD II. A French knight or gentleman, whose name has not been preserved, has left a most interesting account of the sudden and tragical downfall of one of the unhappiest of English sovereigns. Like many of his countrymen, he was attracted to England by Richard's marriage with a princess of France. He came over to London in the spring of the year 1399, and remained in close attendance on King Richard about seven months, and until that fallen sovereign was brought to London as a prisoner by Henry Bolingbroke, duke of Lancaster. Then, returning to his own country, the Frenchman immediately wrote an account of all that he had seen of the behaviour and sufferings of Richard. His manuscript, which formerly belonged to Charles of

« AnteriorContinuar »