Imágenes de página

That crown the solitary dome, arise;
While from the topmost turret the slow clock,
Far heard along th’ inhospitable wastes,
With sad-returning chime awakes new grief;
Ev’n he far happier seems than is the proud,
The potent satrap, whom he left behind
"Mid Moscow's golden palaces, to drown
In ease and luxury the laughing hours.
Illustrious objects strike the gazer's mind
With feeble bliss, and but allure the sight,
Nor rouse with impulse quick th' unfeeling heart.
Thus seen by shepherds from Hymettus' brow,
What daedal landscapes smile! here palmy groves,
Resounding once with Plato's voice, arise,
Amid whose umbrage green her silver head
Th' unfading olive lifts: here vine-clad hills
Lay forth their purple store, and sunny vales
In prospect vast their level laps expand,
Amid whose beauties glistering Athens tow’rs.
Though through the blissful scenes Ilissus roll
His sage inspiring flood, whose winding marge
The thick-wove laurel shades; though roseate Morn
Pour all her splendours on th' empurpled scene;
Yet feels the hoary hermit truer joys,
As from the cliff, that o'er his cavern hangs,
He views the piles of fall'n Persepolis
In deep arrangement hide the darksome plain.
Unbounded waste! the mould'ring obelisk
Here, like a blasted oak, ascends the clouds;
Here Parian domes their vaulted halls disclose
Horrid with thorn, where lurks th' unpitying thief,
Whence flits the twilight-loving bat at eve,
And the deaf adder wreathes her spotted train,
The dwellings once of elegance and art.
Here temples rise, amid whose hallow'd bounds
Spires the black pine, while through the naked street,
Once haunt of tradeful merchants, springs the grass:
Here columns heap'd on prostrate columns, torn
From their firm base, increase the mould'ring mass.
Far as the sight can pierce, appear the spoils

Of sunk magnificence a blended scene
Of moles, fanes, arches, domes, and palaces,
Where, with his brother Horrour, Ruin sits.
O come then, Melancholy, queen of thought !
O come with saintly look, and stedfast step,
From forth thy cave embower'd with mournful yew,
Where ever to the curfew's solemn sound
List'ning thou sitt'st, and with thy cypress bind
Thy votary's hair, and seal him for thy son.
But never let Euphrosyne beguile
With toys of wanton mirth my fixed mind,
Nor in my path her primrose-garland cast.
Though 'mid her train the dimpled Hebe bare
Her rosy bosom to th' enamour'd view;
Though Venus, mother of the Smiles and Loves,
And Bacchus, ivy-crown'd, in citron bow'r
With her on nectar-streaming fruitage feast:
What though "t is hers to calm the low'ring skies,
And at her presence mild th’ embattled clouds
Disperse in air, and o'er the face of Heav'n
New day diffusive gleam at her approach?
Yet are these joys that Melancholy gives,
Than all her witless revels happier far;
These deep-felt joys, by Contemplation taught.
Then ever, beauteous Contemplation, hail!
From thee began, auspicious maid, my song,
With thee shall end ; for thou art fairer far
Than are the nymphs of Cirrha's mossy grot;
To loftier rapture thou canst wake the thought,
Than all the fabling poet's boasted pow'rs.
Hail, queen divine! whom, as tradition tells,
Once in his evening walk a Druid found,
Far in a hollow glade of Mona's woods;
And piteous bore with hospitable hand
To the close shelter of his oaken bow'r.
There soon the sage admiring mark'd the dawn
Of solemn musing in your pensive thought;
For when a smiling babe, you lov'd to lie
Oft deeply list'ning to the rapid roar
Of wood-hung Meinai, stream of Druids old.


Willian Mason, a poet of some distinction, born in 1725, was the son of a clergyman, who held the living of Hull. He was admitted first of St. John's College, and afterwards of Pembroke College, Cambridge, of the latter of which he was elected Fellow in 1747. He entered into holy orders in 1754, and, by the favour of the Earl of Holderness, was presented to the valuable rectory of Aston, Yorkshire, and became Chaplain to His Majesty. Some poems which he printed gave him reputation, which received a great accession from his dramatic poem of “Elfrida.” By this piece, and his “Caractacus,” which followed, it was his aim to attempt the restoration of the ancient Greek chorus in tragedy; but this is so evidently an appendage of the infant and imperfect state of the drama, that a pedantic attachment to the ancients could alone suggest its revival. In 1756, he published a small collection of “Odes,” which were generally considered as displaying more of the artificial mechanism of poetry, than of its genuine spirit. This was not the case with his “Elegies,” published in 1763, which, abating some superfluity of ornament, are in general marked with the simplicity of language proper to this species of composition, and breathe noble sentiments of freedom and virtue. A collection of all his poems which he thought worthy of preserving, was published in 1764, and afterwards went through several editions. He had married an amiable lady, who died of a consumption in 1767, and was buried in the cathedral of Bristol, under a monument, on which are inscribed some very tender and beautiful lines, by her husband. In 1772, the first book of Mason’s “English Garden,” a didactic and descriptive poem, in blank


Morur, of Wisdom thou, whose sway
The throng'd ideal hosts obey;
Who bidd'st their ranks, now vanish, now appear,
Flame in the van, or darken in the rear;
Accept this votive verse. Thy reign
Nor place can fix, nor power restrain.
All, all is thine. For thee the ear, and eye,
Rove through the realms of grace, and harmony:
The senses thee spontaneous serve,
That wake, and thrill through ev’ry nerve.
Else vainly soft, lov'd Philomels would flow
The soothing sadness of thy warbled woe:
Else vainly sweet yon woodbine shade
With clouds of fragrance fill the glade;

verse, made its appearance, of which the fourth and concluding book was printed in 1781. Its purpose was to recommend the modern system of natural or landscape gardening, to which the author adheres with the rigour of exclusive taste. The versification is formed upon the best models, and the description, in many parts, is rich and vivid; but a general air of stiffness prevented it from altaining any considerable share of popularity. Some of his following poetic pieces express his liberal sentiments on political subjects; and when the late Mr. Pitt came into power, being then the friend of a free constitution, Mason addressed him in an “Ode,” containing many patriotie and manly ideas. But being struck with alarm at the unhappy events of the French revolution, one of his latest pieces was a “Palinody to Liberty.” He likewise revived, in an improved form, and published, Du Fresnoy's Latin poem on the Art of Painting, enriching it with additions furnished by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and with a metrical version. Few have been better executed than this, which unites to great beauties of language a correct representation of the original. His tribute to the memory of Gray, being an edition of his poems, with some additions, and Memoirs of his Life and Writings, was favourably received by the public.

Mason died in April, 1797, at the age of seventytwo, in consequence of a mortification produced by a hurt in his leg. A tablet has been placed to his memory in Poets' Corner, in Westminster Abbey. His character in private life was exemplary for worth and active benevolence, though not without a degree of stateliness and assumed superiority of manner.

Wainly, the cygnet spread her downy plume,
The vine gush nectar, and the virgin bloom.
But swift to thee, alive and warm,
Devolves each tributary charm :
See modest Nature bring her simple stores,
Luxuriant Art exhaust her plastic powers;
While every flower in Fancy's clime,
Each gem of old heroic time,
Cull'd by the hand of the industrious Muse,
Around thy shrine their blended beams diffuse.

Hail, Mem'ry! hail. Behold, I lead To that high shrine the sacred maid: Thy daughter she, the empress of the lyre, The first, the fairest, of Aonia's quire. She comes, and lo, thy realms expand! She takes her delegated stand

[blocks in formation]

Rise, hallow'd Milton rise, and say, How, at thy gloomy close of day, How, when “deprest by age, beset with wrongs:" When “fall'n on evil days and evil tongues;” When darkness, brooding on thy sight, Exil'd the sov’reign lamp of light; Say, what could then one cheering hope diffuse? What friends were thine, save Mem'ry and the Muse? Hence the rich spoils, thy studious youth Caught from the stores of ancient truth: Hence all thy classic wand'rings could explore, When rapture led thee to the Latian shore; Each scene, that Tyber's banks supply'd ; Each grace, that play'd on Arno's side; The tepid gales, through Tuscan glades that fly: The blue serene, that spreads Hesperia's sky; Were still thine own; thy ample mind Each charm receiv'd, retain'd, combin'd. And thence “the nightly visitant,” that came To touch thy bosom with her sacred flame, Recall'd the long-lost beams of grace, That whilom shot from Nature's face, When God, in Eden, o'er her youthful breast Spread with his own right hand Perfection's gorgeous vest.


Hene, on my native shore reclin'd, While silence rules this midnight hour, I woo thee, Goddess! On my musing mind Descend, propitious power And bid these ruffling gales of grief subside: Bid my calm’d soul with all thy influence shine; As yon chaste orb along this ample tide Draws the long lustre of her silver line, While the hush'd breeze its last weak whisper blows, And lulls old Humber to his deep repose

Come to thy vot'ry's ardent prayer, In all thy graceful plainness drest: No knot confines thy waving hair, No zone, thy floating vest; Unsullied honour decks thine open brow, And candour brightens in thy modest eye : Thy blush is warm content's ethereal glow ; Thy smile is peace; thy step is liberty: Thou scatter'st blessings round with lavish hand, As Spring with careless fragrance fills the land.

As now o'er this lone beach I stray, Thy favorite swain " oft stole along, And artless wove his Dorian lay, Far from the busy throng. Thou heard'st him, goddess, strike the tender string, And bad'st his soul with bolder passions move: Soon these responsive shores forgot to ring, With beauty's praise, or plaint of slighted love; To loftier flights his daring genius rose, And led the war 'gainst thine, and Freedom's foes.

Pointed with satire's keenest steel, The shafts of wit he darts around; Ev’n f mitred dulness learns to feel, And shrinks beneath the wound. In aweful poverty his honest Muse Walks forth vindictive through a venal land: In vain corruption sheds her golden dews, In vain oppression lifts her iron hand; He scorns them both, and, arm'd with truth alone, Bids lust and folly tremble on the throne.

Behold, like him, immortal maid, The Muses' vestal fires I bring: Here, at thy feet, the sparks I spread: Propitious wave thy wing, And fan them to that dazzling blaze of song, Which glares tremendous on the sons of pride. But, hark, methinks I hear her hallow'd tongue! In distant trills it echoes o'er the tide; o Now meets mine ear with warbles wildly free, As swells the lark's meridian ecstasy.

“Fond youth ! to Marvell's patriot fame, Thy humble breast must ne'er aspire. Yet nourish still the lambent flame; Still strike thy blameless lyre : Led by the moral Muse, securely rove; And all the vernal sweets thy vacant youth Can cull from busy Fancy's fairy grove, Oh hang their foliage round the fame of Truth: To arts like these devote thy tuneful toil, And meet its fair reward in D'Arcy's smile.

“'Tis he, my son, alone shall cheer Thy sick’ning soul; at that sad hour, When o'er a much-lov'd parent's bier, Thy duteous sorrows shower: At that sad hour, when all thy hopes decline; When pining Care leads on her pallid train, And sees thee, like the weak, and widow’d vine, Winding thy blasted tendrils o'er the plain. At that sad hour shall D'Arcy lend his aid, And raise with friendship's arm thy drooping head.

“This fragrant wreath, the Muses' meed, That bloom'd those vocal shades among, Where never flatt'ry dar'd to tread, Or interest's servile throng ; Receive, thou favour’d son, at my command, And keep with sacred care, for D'Arcy's brow : Tell him, 't was wove by my immortal hand, I breath'd on every flower a purer glow ; Say, for thy sake, I send the gift divine To him, who calls thee his, yet makes thee mine."

• Andrew Marvell, born at Kingston-upon-Hull in the year 1620.

+ see The Rehearsal transprosed, and an account of the cffect of that satire, in the Biographia Britan

! nica, art. Marvell.


The midnight clock has toll'd ; and hark, the bell
Of death beats slow ! heard ye the note profound?
It pauses now; and now, with rising knell,
Flings to the hollow gale its sullen sound.
Yes * * * is dead. Attend the strain,
Daughters of Albion' Ye that, light as air,
So oft have tript in her fantastic train,
With hearts as gay, and faces half as fair:
For she was fair beyond your brightest bloom;
This envy owns, since now her bloom is fled;)
Fair as the forms, that, wove in fancy's loom,
Float in light vision round the poet's head.
Whene'er with soft serenity she smil'd,
Or caught the orient blush of quick surprise,
How sweetly mutable, how brightly wild,
The liquid lustre darted from her eyes!
Each look, each motion, wak'd a new-born grace,
That o'er her form its transient glory cast:
Some lovelier wonder soon usurp'd the place,
Chas'd by a charm still lovelier than the last.
That bell again! it tells us what she is:
On what she was no more the strain prolong :
Luxuriant fancy, pause: an hour like this
Demands the tribute of a serious song,
Maria claims it from that sable bier,
Where cold and wan the slumberer rests her head;
In still small whispers to reflection's ear,
She breathes the solemn dictates of the dead.
Oh catch the aweful notes, and lift them loud;
Proclaim the theme, by sage, by fool rever'd :
Hear it, ye young, ye vain, ye great, ye proud!
'T is Nature speaks, and Nature will be heard.
Yes, ye shall hear, and tremble as ye hear,
While, high with health, your hearts exulting leap;
Ev’n in the midst of Pleasure's mad career,
The mental monitor shall wake and weep.
For say, than * * *'s propitious star,
What brighter planet on your births arose:
Or gave of Fortune's gifts an ampler share,
In life to lavish, or by death to lose !
Early to lose; while, borne on busy wing,
Ye sip the nectar of each varying bloom:
Nor fear, while basking in the beams of spring,
The wintry storm that sweeps you to the tomb.
Think of her fate' revere the heav'nly hand
That led her hence, though soon, by steps so slow:
Long at her couch Death took his patient stand,
And menac'd oft, and oft withheld the blow :
To give reflection time, with lenient art,
Each fond delusion from her soul to steal;
Teach her from folly peaceably to part,
And wean her from a world she lov’d so well.
Say, are ye sure his mercy shall extend
To you so long a span 2 Alas, ye sigh:
Make then, while yet ye may, your God, your friend,
And learn with equal ease to sleep or die!
Northink the Muse, whose sober voice ye hear,
Contracts with bigot frown her sullen brow;
Casts round Religion's orb the mists of fear, [glow.
Or shades with horrours, what with smiles should
No; she would warm you with seraphic fire,
Heirs as ye are of Heav'n's eternal day;
Would bid you boldly to that Heav'n aspire,
Not sink and slumber in your cells of clay.

Know, ye were form'd to range yon azure field,
In yon ethereal founts of bliss to lave:
Force then, secure in Faith's protecting shield,
The sting from Death, the vict'ry from the Grave.
Is this the bigot's rant? Away, ye vain,
Your hopes, your fears, in doubt, in dulness steep:
Go soothe your souls in sickness, grief, or pain,
With the sad solace of eternal sleep.
Yet will I praise you, triflers as ye are,
More than those preachers of your fav'rite creed,
Who proudly swell the brazen throat of war,
Who form the phalanx, bid the battle bleed;
Nor wish for more: who conquer, but to die.
Hear, Folly, hear, and triumph in the tale:
Like you, they reason; not, like you, enjoy
The breeze of bliss, that fills your silken sail:
On Pleasure's glitt'ring stream ye gaily steer
Your little course to cold oblivion's shore :
They dare the storm, and, through th' inclement year,
Stem the rough surge, and brave the torrent's roar.
Is it for glory? that just Fate denies.
Long must the warrior moulder in his shroud,
Ere from her trump the heav'n-breath'd accents rise,
That lift the hero from the fighting crowd.
Is it his grasp of empire to extend? .
To curb the fury of insulting foes?
Ambition, cease: the idle contest end:
'T is but a kingdom thou canst win or lose.
And why must murder'd myriads lose their all,
(If life be all,) why desolation lour,
With famish'd frown, on this affrighted ball,
That thou may'st flame the meteor of an hour?
Go wiser ye, that flutter life away,
Crown with the mantling juice the goblet high;
Weave the light dance, with festive freedom gay,
And live your moment, since the next ye die.
Yet know, vain sceptics, know, th' Almighty mind,
Who breath'd on man a portion of his fire,
Bade his free soul, by earth nor time confin'd
To Heav'n, to immortality aspire.
Nor shall the pile of hope, his mercy rear'd,
By vain philosophy be e'er destroy'd :
Eternity, by all or wish'd or fear'd,
Shall be by all or suffer'd or enjoy'd.


in the cathedraai, or haistol

Take, holy earth! all that my soul holds dear:
Take that best gift which Heav'n so lately gave:
To Bristol's fount I bore with trembling care
Her faded form; she bow'd to taste the wave,
And died. Does youth, does beauty, read the line?
Does sympathetic fear their breasts alarm 2
Speak, dead Maria! breathe a strain divine:
Ev’n from the grave thou shalt have power to
Bid them be chaste, be innocent, like thee;
Bid them in duty's sphere as meekly move;
And if so fair, from vanity as free;
As firm in friendship, and as fond in love.
Tell them, though 't is an aweful thing to die,
('Twas ev'n to thee) yet the dread path once
Heav'n lifts its everlasting portals high,
And bids “the pure in heart behold their God."

[ocr errors][merged small]

Willia, CowpzR, a poet of distinguished and original genius, was born in 1731, at Great Berkhampstead in Hertfordshire. His father, the rector of the parish, was John Cowper, D.D., nephew of Lord-Chancellor Cowper. The subject of this memorial was educated at Westminster school, where he acquired the classical knowledge and correctness of taste for which it is celebrated, but with. out any portion of the confident and undaunted spirit which is supposed to be one of the most valuable acquisitions derived from the great schools, to those who are to push their way in the world. On the contrary, it appears from his poem entitled “Tirocinium,” that the impressions made upon his mind from what he witnessed in this place, were such as gave him a permanent dislike to the system of public education. Soon after his leaving Westminster, he was articled to a solicitor in London for three years; but so far from studying the law, he spent the greatest part of his time with a relation, where he and the future Lord Chancellor (Lord Thurlow) spent their time, according to his own expression, “ giggling, and making giggle.” At the expiration of his time with the solicitor, he took chambers in the Temple, but his time was still little employed on the law, and was rather engaged in classical pursuits, in which Coleman, Bonnel Thornton, and Lloyd, seem to have been his principal associates. Cowper's spirits were naturally weak; and when his friends had procured him a nomination to the offices of reading-clerk and clerk of the Private Committees in the House of Lords, he shrunk with such terrour from the idea of making his appearance before the most august assembly in the nation, that after a violent struggle with himself, he resigned his intended employment, and with it all his prospects in life. In fact, he became completely deranged; and in this situation was placed, in December, 1763, about the 32d year of his age, with Dr. Cotton, an amiable and worthy physician at St. Alban's. This agitation of his mind is placed by some who have mentioned it to the account of a deep consideration of his state in a religious view, in which the terrours of eternal judgment so much overpowered his faculties, that he remained seven months in momentary expectation of being plunged into final misery. Mr. Johnson, however, a near relation, has taken pains to prove to demonstration, that these views of his condition were so far from producing such an effect, that they ought to be regarded as his sole consolation. It appears, however, that his mind had acquired such an indelible tinge of melancholy, that his whole successive life was passed with little more than intervals of comfort between long paroxysms of settled despondency.

to Olney in Buckinghamshire, which was thenceforth the principal place of Cowper's residence. At Olney he contracted a close friendship with the Rev. Mr. Newton, then minister there, and since |. of St. Mary Woolnoth, London, whose religious opinions were in unison with his own. To a collection of hymns published by him, Cowper contributed a considerable number of his own composition. He first became known to the public as a poet by a volume printed in 1782, the contents of which, if they did not at once place him high in the scale of poetic excellence, sufficiently established his claim to originality. Its topics are “Table Talk,” “Errour,” “Truth,” “Expostulation,” “Hope,” “Charity,” “Conversation,” and “Retirement,” all treated upon religious principles, and not without a considerable tinge of that rigour and austerity which belonged to his system. These pieces are written in rhymed heroics, which he commonly manages with little grace, or attention to melody. The style, though often prosaic, is never flat or insipid; and sometimes the true poet breaks through, in a vein of lively description or bold figure. If this volume excited but little of the public attention, his next volume, published in 1785, introduced his name to all the lovers of poetry, and gave him at least an equality of reputation with any of his contemporaries. It consists of a poem in six books, entitled “The Task,” alluding to the injunction of a lady, to write a piece in blank verse, for the subject of which she gave him. The Sofa. It sets out, indeed, with some sportive discussion of this topic; but soon falls into a serious strain of rural description, intermixed with moral sentiments and portraitures, which is preserved through the six books, freely ranging from thought to thought with no perceptible method. But as the whole poem will here be found, it is unnecessary to enter into particulars. Another piece, entitled “Tirocinium, or a Review of Schools,” a work replete with striking observation, is added to the preceding; and several other pieces gleaned from his various writings will be found in the collection. For the purpose of losing in employment the distressing ideas which were ever apt to recur, he next undertook the real task of translating into blank verse the whole of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. This work has much merit of execution, and is certainly a far more exact representation of the ancient poet than Pope's ornamental version; but where simplicity of matter in the original is not relieved by the force of sonorous diction, the poverty of English blank-verse has scarcely been able to prevent it from sinking into mere prose. Various other translations denoted his necessity of seeking employment; but nothing was capable of durably relieving his mind from the horrible impressions it

After a residence of a year and a half with Dr. Cotton, he spent part of his time at the house of his relation, Earl Cowper, and part at Huntingdon, with his intimate friend, the Rev. Mr. Unwin. The death of the latter caused his widow to remove

had undergone. He passed some of his latter years under the affectionate care of a relation at East Dereham in Norfolk, where he died on April 25th, 1800.

« AnteriorContinuar »