Imágenes de página
PDF

The youth did ride, and soon did meet
John coming back amain;

Whom in a trice he tried to stop,
By catching at his rein;

But not performing what he meant, And gladly would have done,

The frighted steed he frighted more, And made him faster run.

Away went Gilpin, and away
Went postboy at his heels,

The postboy's horse right glad to miss
The lumb'ring of the wheels.

Six gentlemen upon the road,
Thus seeing Gilpin fly,

With postboy scamp'ring in the rear,
They rais'd the hue and cry: –

“Stop thief!, stop thief! – a highwayman "
Not one of them was mute;

And all and each that pass'd that way
Did join in the pursuit.

And now the turnpike gates again Flew open in short space;

The toll-men thinking as before, That Gilpin rode a race.

And so he did, and won it too,
For he got first to town;

Nor stopp'd till where he had got up
He did again get down.

Now let us sing, Long live the King, And Gilpin long live he ;

And, when he next doth ride abroad, May I be there to see:

AN EPISTLE

to JOSEPH HILL, Esq.

Drak Joseph — five-and-twenty years ago–
Alas, how time escapes' — "t is even so-
With frequent intercourse, and always sweet,
And always friendly, we were wont to cheat
A tedious hour — and now we never meet !
As some grave gentleman in Terence says,
('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days,)
Good lack, we know not what to-morrow brings —
Strange fluctuation of all human things!
True. Changes will befall, and friends may part,
But distance only cannot change the heart:
And, were I call'd to prove th' assertion true,
One proof should serve — a reference to you.
Whence comes it then, that in the wane of life,
Though nothing have occurr'd to kindle strife,
We find the friends we fancied we had won,
Though num'rous once, reduc’d to few or none?
Can gold grow worthless, that has stood the touch?
No: gold they seem’d, but they were never such.
Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe,
Swinging the parlour door upon it's hinge,

Dreading a negative, and overaw'd
Lest he should trespass, begg'd to go abroad.
“Go, fellow !—whither?"—turning short about—
“Nay. Stay at home—you're always going out."
“”T is but a step, sir, just at the street's end.”
“For what?”—“An please you, sir, to see a friend."
“A friend!” Horatio cried, and seem'd to start-
“ Yea marry shalt thou, and with all my heart. —
And fetch my cloak; for, though the night be raw,
I'll see him too — the first I ever saw.”
I knew the man, and knew his nature mild,
And was his plaything often when a child;
But somewhat at that moment pinch'd him close,
Else he was seldom bitter or morose.
Perhaps his confidence just then betray'd,
His grief might prompt him with the speech he made;
Perhaps’t was mere good-humour gave it birth,
The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth.
Howe'er it was, his language in my mind,
Bespoke at least a man that knew mankind.
But not to moralize too much, and strain,
To prove an evil, of which all complain,
(I hate long arguments verbosely spun,)
One story more, dear Hill, and I have done.
Once on a time an emp'ror, a wise man,
No matter where, in China, or Japan,
Decreed, that whosoever should offend
Against the well-known duties of a friend,
Convicted once should ever after wear
But half a coat, and show his bosom bare.
The punishment importing this, no doubt,
That all was naught within, and all found out.
O happy Britain we have not to fear
Such hard and arbitrary measure here;
Else, could a law, like that which I relate,
Once have the sanction of our triple state,
Some few, that I have known in days of old,
Would run most dreadful risk of catching cold;
While you, my friend, whatever wind should blow,
Might traverse England safely to and fro,
An honest man, close-button'd to the chin,
Broad cloth without, and a warm heart within.

YARDLEY OAK.

Survivor sole, and hardly such, of all,
That once liv'd here, thy brethren, at my birth,
(Since which I number threescore winters past,)
A shatter'd vet'ran, hollow-trunk'd perhaps,
As now, and with excoriate forks deform,
Relics of ages Could a mind, imbued
With truth from Heaven, created thing adore,
I might with rev'rence kneel, and worship thee.

It seems idolatry with some excuse, When our forefather Druids in their oaks Imagined sanctity. The conscience, yet Unpurified by an authentic act Of amnesty, the meed of blood divine, Lov'd not the light, but, gloomy, into gloom Of thickest shades, like Adam after taste Of fruit proscrib'd, as to a refuge, fled.

Thou wast a bauble once; a cup and ball. Which babes might play with ; and the thievish jay, Seeking her food, with ease might have purloin'd The auburn nut that held thee, swallowing down Thy yet closc-folded latitude of boughs

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

Delight in agitation, yet sustain
The force that agitates, not unimpair'd;
But, worn by frequent impulse, to the cause
Of their best tone their dissolution owe.

Thought cannot spend itself, comparing still The great and little of thy lot, thy growth From almost nullity into a state Of matchless grandeur, and declension thence, Slow, into such magnificent decay. Time was, when, settling on thy leaf, a fly Could shake thee to the root — and time has been When tempests could not. At thy firmest age Thou hadst within thy bole solid contents, [deck That might have ribb'd the sides and plank'd the Of some flagg'd admiral; and tortuous arms, The shipwright's darling treasure, didst present To the four-quarter'd winds, robust and bold, Warp'd into tough knee-timber", many a load! But the axe spar'd thee. In those thriftier days Oaks fell not, hewn by thousands, to supply The bottomless demands of contest, wag'd For senatorial honours. Thus to Time The task was left to whittle thee away With his sly scythe, whose ever-nibbling edge, Noiseless, an atom, and an atom more, Disjoining from the rest, has, unobserv'd. Achiev'd a labour, which had far and wide, By man perform'd, made all the forest ring.

Embowell'd now, and of thy ancient self Possessing nought, but the scoop'd rind, that seems An huge throat, calling to the clouds for drink, Which it would give in rivulets to thy root, Thou temptest none, but rather much forbidd'st The feller's toil, which thou couldstill requite. Yet is thy root sincere, sound as the rock, A quarry of stout spurs, and knotted fangs, Which, crook'd into a thousand whimsies, clasp The stubborn soil, and hold thee still erect.

So stands a kingdom, whose foundation yet
Fails not, in virtue and in wisdom laid,
Though all the superstructure, by the tooth
Pulveriz'd of venality, a shell
Stands now, and semblance only of itself!

Thine arms have left thee. Winds have rent

them off

Long since, and rovers of the forest wild [left
with bow and shaft, have burnt them. Some have
A splinter'd stump, bleach'd to a snowy white;
And some, memorial mone, where once they grew.
Yet life still lingers in thee, and puts forth
Proof not contemptible of what she can, .
Even where death predominates. The spring
Finds thee not less alive to her sweet force,
Than yonder upstarts of the neighb'ring wood,
So much thy juniors, who their birth receiv'd
Half a millennium since the date of thine.

[blocks in formation]

On thy distorted root, with hearers none,
Or prompter, save the scene, I will perform
Myself the oracle, and will discourse
In my own ear such matter as I may.

One man alone, the father of us all, Drew not his life from woman; never gaz'd, With mute unconsciousness of what he saw, On all around him; learn'd not by degrees, Nor ow'd articulation to his ear; But, moulded by his Maker into man At once, upstood intelligent, survey'd All creatures, with precision understood Their purport, uses, properties, assign'd To each his name significant, and, fill’d With love and wisdom, render'd back to Heaven In praise harmonious the first air he drew. He was excus'd the penalties of dull Minority. No tutor chargd his hand With the thought-tracing quill, or task'd his mind With problems. History, not wanted yet, Lean'd on her elbow, watching Time, whose course, Eventful, should supply her with a theme.

THE CAST-AWAY.

Obscurest night involv'd the sky; Th’ Atlantic billows roar'd, When such a destin'd wretch as I, Wash'd headlong from on board, Of friends, of hope, of all bereft, His floating home for ever left

No braver chief could Albion boast,
Than he, with whom he went,
Nor ever ship left Albion's coast,
With warmer wishes sent.
He lov'd them both, but both in vain,
Nor him beheld, nor her again.

Not long beneath the whelming brine,
Expert to swim, he lay:
Nor soon he felt his strength decline,
Or courage die away;
But wag'd with death a lasting strife,
Supported by despair of life.

He shouted; nor his friends had fail'd
To check the vessel's course,

But so the furious blast prevail'd,
That, pitiless, perforce,

They left their outcast mate behind, And scudded still before the wind.

Some succour yet they could afford;
And, such as storms allow,
The cask, the coop, the floated cord,
Delay'd not to bestow.
But he, they knew, nor ship nor shore,
Whate'er they gave, should visit more.

Nor, cruel as it seem’d, could he
Their haste himself condemn,
Aware that flight, in such a sea,
Alone could rescue them;
Yet bitter felt it still to die
Deserted, and his friends so nigh.

He long survives, who lives an hour
In ocean, self-upheld:
And so long he, with unspent pow'r,
His destiny repell'd :
And ever as the minutes flew,
Entreated help, or cried – “Adieu !”

At length, his transient respite past,
His comrades, who before
Had heard his voice in ev'ry blast,
Could catch the sound no more.
For then, by toil subdued, he drank
The stifling wave, and then he sank.

No poet wept him; but the page
Of narrative sincere,
That tells his name, his worth, his age
Is wet with Anson's tear.
And tears by bards or heroes shed
Alike immortalize the dead.

I therefore purpose not, or dream,
Descanting on his fate,
To give the melancholy theme
A more enduring date.
But misery still delights to trace
It's semblance in another's case.

No voice divine the storm allay'd,
No light propitious shone;
When, snatch'd from all effectual aid,
We perish'd, each alone:
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelm'd in deeper gulfs than be.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Jaur, BEATTIE, an admired poet and a moralist, was born about 1735, in the county of Kincardine, in Scotland. His father was a small farmer, who, though living in indigence, had imbibed so much of the spirit of his country, that he procured for his son a literary education, first at a parochial school, and then at the college of New Aberdeen, in which he entered as a bursar or exhibitioner. In the intervals of the sessions, James is supposed to have added to his scanty pittance by teaching at a country-school. Returning to Aberdeen, he obtained the situation of assistant to the master of the principal grammar-school, whose daughter he married. From youth he had cultivated a talent for poetry; and in 1760 he ventured to submit the fruit of his studies in this walk to the public, by a volume of “Original Poems and Translations.” They were followed, in 1765, by “The Judgment of Paris;” and these performances, which displayed a familiarity with poetic diction, and harmony of versification, seem to have made him favourably known in his neighbourhood. The interest of the Earl of Errol acquired for him the post of professor of moral philosophy and logic in the Marischal College of Aberdeen; in which capacity he published a work, entitled “An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth, in opposition to Sophistry and Scepticism,” 1770. Being written in a popular manner, it was much read, and gained the author many admirers, especially among the most distinguished members of the Church of England; and, at the suggestion of Lord Mansfield, he was rewarded with a pension of 200l. from the King's privy purse. In 1771 his fame was largely extended by the first part of his “Minstrel,” a piece the subject of which is the imagined birth and education of a poet. Although the word Minstrel is not with much pro

priety applied to such a person as he represents, and the “Gothic days” in which he is placed are not historically to be recognised, yet there is great beauty, both moral and descriptive, in the delineation, and perhaps no writer has managed the Spenserian stanza with more dexterity and harmony. The second part of this poem, which contains the maturer part of the education of the young bard, did not appear till 1774, and then left the work a fragment. But whatever may be the defects of the Minstrel, it possesses beauties which will secure it a place among the approved productions of the British muse.

Beattie visited London for the first time in 1771, where he was received with much cordiality by the admirers of his writings, who found equal cause to love and esteem the author. Not long afterwards, the degree of LL.D. was conferred on him by his college at Aberdeen. In 1777 a new edition, by subscription, was published of his “Essay on Truth,” to which were added three Essays on subjects of polite literature. In 1783 he published “ Dissertations Moral and Critical,” consisting of detached essays, which had formed part of a course of lectures delivered by the author as professor. His last work was “Evidences of the Christian Religion, briefly and plainly stated,” 2 vols. 1786. His time was now much occupied with the duties of his station, and particularly with the education of his eldest son, a youth of uncommon promise. His death of a decline was a very severe trial of the father's fortitude and resignation; and it was followed some years after by that of his younger son. These afflictions, with other domestic misfortunes, entirely broke his spirits, and brought him to his grave at Aberdeen, in August, 1803, in the 68th year of his age.

THE MINSTREL; or,

THE PROGRESS OF GENIUS.

Preface.

The design was, to trace the progress of a poetical genius, born in a rude age, from the first dawning of fancy and reason, till that period at which he may be supposed capable of appearing in the world as a Minstrel, that is, as an itinerant poet and musician; — a character which, according to the notions of our forefathers, was not only respectable but sacred. have endeavoured to imitate Spenser in the measure of his verse, and in the harmony, simplicity, and variety of his composition. Antique expressions I have avoided; admitting, however, some old words, where they seemed to suit the subject: but I hope none will be found that are now obsolete, or in any degree not intelligible to a reader of English poetry. To those who may be disposed to ask, what could induce me to write in so difficult a measure, I can only answer, that it pleases my ear, and seems, from its Gothic structure and original, to bear some relation to the subject and spirit of the poem. It admits both simplicity and magnificence of sound and of language, beyond any other stanza that I am acquainted with. It allows the sententiousness of the couplet, as well as the more complex modulation of blank verse. What some critics have remarked, of its uniformity growing at last tiresome to the ear, will be found to hold true, only when the poetry is faulty in other respects.

I

[blocks in formation]

While from his bending shoulder, decent hung His harp, the sole companion of his way,

Which to the whistling wind responsive rung: And ever as he went some merry lay he sung.

Fret not thyself, thou glittering child of pride,
That a poor villager inspires my strain;
With thee let Pageantry and Power abide:
The gentle Muses haunt the sylvan reign;
Where through wild groves at eve the lonely swain
Enraptured roams, to gaze on Nature's charms.
They hate the sensual, and scorn the vain,
The parasite their influence never warms,
Nor him whose sordid soul the love of gold alarms.

Though richest hues the peacock's plumes adorn,
Yet horrour screams from his discordant throat.
Rise, sons of harmony, and hail the morn,
While warbling larks on russet pinions float:
Or seek at noon the woodland scene remote,
Where the grey linnets carol from the hill.
O let them ne'er, with artificial note,
To please a tyrant, strain the little bill,
But sing what Heaven inspires, and wander where
they will.

| Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature's hand;

Nor was perfection made for man below.
Yet all her schemes with nicest art are plann'd,
Good counteracting ill, and gladness woe.
With gold and gems if Chilian mountains glow ;
If bleak and barren Scotia's hills arise;
There plague and poison, lust and rapine grow;
Here peaceful are the vales, and pure the skies,
And freedom fires the soul, and sparkles in the eyes.

Then grieve not, thou, to whom th’ indulgent Muse
Vouchsafes a portion of celestial fire:
Nor blame the partial Fates, if they refuse
Th’ imperial banquet, and the rich attire.
Know thine own worth, and reverence the lyre.
Wilt thou debase the heart which God refin'd?
No; let thy heaven-taught soul to Heaven aspire,
To fancy, freedom, harmony, resign'd;
Ambition's grovelling crew for ever left behind.

Canst thou forego the pure ethereal soul
In each fine sense so exquisitely keen,
On the dull couch of Luxury to loll,
Stung with disease, and stupefied with spleen;
Fain to implore the aid of Flattery's screen,
Even from thyself thy loathsome heart to hide,
(The mansion then no more of joy serene,)
Where fear, distrust, malevolence, abide,
And impotent desire, and disappointed pride?

O how canst thou renounce the boundless store
Of charms which Nature to her votary yields'
The warbling woodland, the resounding shore,
The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields;
All that the genial ray of morning gilds,
And all that echoes to the song of even,
All that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields,
And all the dread magnificence of Heaven.
O how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven?

These charms shall work thy soul's eternal health,
And love, and gentleness, and joy, impart.
But these thou must renounce, if lust of wealth

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »