« AnteriorContinuar »
clesfield and Lord Rivers. The lady openly avowed but stopping at Bristol, was treated with great kindher profligacy, in order to obtain a divorce from her ness by the opulent merchants and other inhabitants, husband, with whom she lived on unhappy terms, whom he afterwards libelled in a sarcastic poem. and the illegitimate child was born after their sepa- In Swansea he resided about a year ; but on revisitration. He was placed under the charge of a poor ing Bristol, he was arrested for a small debt, and woman, and brought up as her son. The boy, how- being unable to find bail, was thrown into prison. ever, obtained a superior education ugh the care His folly, extravagance, and pride, though it was and generosity of his maternal grandmother, Lady pride that licks the dust,' had left him almost withMason, who placed him at a grammar-school in Stout a friend. He made no vigorous effort to extriAlbans. Whilst he was there Lord Rivers died, cate or maintain himself. Pope continued his and in his last illness, it is said the countess had the allowance; but being provoked by some part of his inhumanity and falsehood to state that Savage was conduct, he wrote to him, stating that he was dedead, by which he was deprived of a provision in- termined to keep out of his suspicion by not being tended for him by his father. Such unnatural and officious any longer, or obtruding into any of his unprincipled conduct almost exceeds belief. The boy concerns. Savage felt the force of this rebuke from was now withdrawn from school, and placed appren- the steadiest and most illustrious of his friends. He tice to a shoemaker ; but an accident soon revealed was soon afterwards taken ill, and his condition not his birth and the cause of its concealment. His enabling him to procure medical assistance, he was nurse and supposed mother died, and among her found dead in his bed on the morning of the 1st of effects Savage found some letters which disclosed August 1743. The keeper of the prison, who had the circumstances of his paternity. The discovery treated him with great kindness, buried the unformust have seemed like the opening of a new world tunate poet at his own expense. to his hopes and ambition. He was already distin- Savage was the author of two plays, and a volume guished for quickness and proficiency, and for a of miscellaneous poems. Of the latter, the principal sanguine enthusiastic temperament. A bright pro- piece is The Wanderer, written with greater care spect had dawned on him ; he was allied to rank than most of his other productions, as it was the and opulence; and though his birth was accompanied offspring of that happy period of his life when he by humiliating circumstances, it was not probable lived with Lord Tyrconnel. Amidst much puerile that he felt these deeply, in the immediate view of and tawdry description, The Wanderer' contains emancipation from the low station and ignoble em- some impressive passages. The versification is easy ployment to which he had been harshly condemned. and correct. The Bastard is, however, a superior We know also that Savage was agitated by those poem, and bears the impress of true and energetic tenderer feelings which link the child to the parent, feeling. One couplet is worthy of Pope. Of the and which must have burst upon him with peculiar bastard he says, force after so unexpected and wonderful a discovery.
He lives to build, not boast a generous race: The mother of the youth, however, was an exception
No tenth transmitter of a foolish face. to ordinary humanity-an anomaly in the history of the female heart. She had determined to disown The concluding passage, in which he mourns over him, and repulsed every effort at acknowledgment the fatal act by which he deprived a fellow mortal and recognition
of life, and over his own distressing condition, posAlone from strangers every comfort flowed.
sesses a genuine and manly pathos :His remarkable history became known, and friends For anischief never meant, must ever smart?
Is chance a guilt, that my disastrous heart, sprang up to shield the hapless youth from poverty. Can self-defence be sin? Ah, plead no more! Unfortunately, the vices and frailties of his own character began soon to be displayed. Savage was Had heaven befriended thy unhappy side,
What though no purposed malice stained thee o'er? not destitute of a love of virtue and principles of Thou hadst not been provoked-or thou hadst died. piety, but his habits were low and sensual. His temper was irritable and capricious; and whatever On whom, unsought, embroiling dangers fall!
Far be the guilt of homeshed blood from all money he received, was instantly spent in the obscure still the pale dead revives, and lives to me, haunts of dissipation. In a tavern brawl he had the To me! through Pity's eye condemned to see. misfortune to kill a Mr James Sinclair, for which Remembrance veils his rage, but swells his fate; he was tried and condemned to death.
His relent- Grieved I forgive, and am grown cool too late. less mother, it is said, endeavoured to intercept the Young and unthoughtful then; who knows, one day, royal mercy ; but Savage was pardoned by Queen What ripening virtues might have made their way 1 Caroline, and set at liberty. He published various He might have lived till folly died in shame, poetical pieces as a means of support ; and having Till kindling wisdom felt a thirst for fame. addressed a birth-day ode to the queen, calling him- He might perhaps his country's friend have proved ; self the * Volunteer Laureate' (to the annoyance, it is Both happy, generous, candid, and belored ; said, of Colley Cibber, the legitimate inheritor of the He might have saved some worth, now doomed to fall, laurel), her majesty sent him £50, and continued And I, perchance, in him, have murdered all. the same sum to him every year. His threats and
O fate of late repentance ! always vain : menaces induced Lord Tyrconnel, a friend of his Thy remedies but lull undying pain. mother, to take him into his family, where he lived where shall my hope find rest ? No mother's care on equal terms, and was allowed a sum of £200 per Shielded my infant innocence with prayer: annum. This, as Johnson remarks, was the golden No father's guardian hand my youth maintained, period' of Sarage's life. As might have been fore- Called forth my virtues, or from vice restrained ; seen, however, the habits of the poet differed very | Is it not thine to snatch some powerful arm, widely from those of the peer; they soon quarrelled, First to advance, then screen from future harm? and the former was again set adrift on the world. Am I returned from death to live in pain? The death of the queen also stopped his pension ; but Or would imperial pity save in vain ? his friends made up an annuity for him of equal Distrust it not. What blame can mercy find, amount, to which Pope generously contributed £20. Which gives at once a life, and rears a mind i Savage agreed to withdraw to the country to avoid Mother, miscalled, farewell--of soul serere, the temptations of London. He selected Swansea, This sad reflection yet may force one tear:
All I was wretched by to you I owed;
Lost to the life you gave, your son no more,
Mr Southey has incautiously ventured a stateNew born, I may a nobler mother claim,
ment in his Life of Cowper,' that Blair's Grave is But dare not whisper her immortal name;
the only poem he could call to mind which has been Supremely lovely, and serenely great,
composed in imitation of the Night Thoughts.' Majestic mother of a kneeling state ;
*The Grave' was written prior to the publication of Queen of a people's heart, who ne'er before
the Night Thoughts,' and has no other resemblance Agreed-yet now with one consent adore !
to the work of Young, than that it is of a serious One contest yet remains in this desire,
devout cast, and is in blank verse. The author was Who most shall give applause where all admire.
an accomplished and exemplary Scottish clergyman,
who enjoyed some private fortune, independent of [From The Wanderer.]
his profession, and was thus enabled to live in a Yon mansion, made by beaming tapers gay,
superior style, and cultivate the acquaintance of the Drowns the dim night, and counterfeits the day;
neighbouring gentry. As a poet of pleasing and From lumined windows glancing on the eye,
elegant manners, a botanist and florist, as well as a Around, athwart, the frisking shadows fly.
man of scientific and general knowledge, his society
was much courted, and he enjoyed the correspondThere midnight riot spreads illusive joys, And fortune, health, and dearer time destroys.
ence of Dr Isaac Watts and Dr Doddridge. Blair Soon death's dark agent to luxuriant ease
was born in Edinburgh in 1699, his father being
minister of the Old Church there. In 1731 he was Shall wake sharp warnings in some fierce disease. O man! thy fabric's like a well-formed state;
appointed to the living of Athelstaneford, a parish Thy thoughts, first ranked, were sure designed the in East Lothian. Previous to his ordination, he had great;
written "The Grave,' and submitted the manuPassions plebeians are, which faction raise ;
script to Watts and Doddridge. It was published Wine, like poured oil, excites the raging blaze;
in 1743. Blair died at the age of forty-seven, in Then giddy anarchy's rude triumphs rise :
February 1746. By his marriage with a daughter Then sovereign Reason from her empire flies:
of Mr Law, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the That ruler once deposed, wisdom and wit,
University of Edinburgh (to whose memory he To noise and folly place and power submit;
dedicated a poem), he left a numerous family, and Like a frail bark thy weakened mind is tost,
his fourth son, a distinguished lawyer, rose to be Unsteered, unbalanced, till its wealth is lost.
Lord President of the Court of Session, The miser-spirit eyes the spendthrift heir,
*The Grave' is a complete and powerful poem, of And mourns, too late, effects of sordid care.
limited design, but masterly execution. The subHis treasures fly to cloy each fawning slave,
ject precluded much originality of conception, but, | Yet grudge a stone to dignify his grave.
at the same time, is recommended by its awful imFor this, low-thoughted craft his life employed ;
portance and its universal application. The style For this, though wealthy, he no wealth enjoyed ;
seems to be formed upon that of the old sacred and For this, he griped the poor, and alms denied, puritanical poets, elevated by the author's admiraUnfriended lived, and unlamented died.
tion of Milton and Shakspeare. There is a Scottish Yet smile, grieved shade! when that unprosperous presbyterian character about the whole, relieved by store
occasional flashes and outbreaks of true genius. Fast lessens, when gay hours return no more ;
These coruscations sometimes subside into low and Smile at thy heir, beholding, in his fall,
vulgar ideas, as towards the close of the following Men once obliged, like him, ungrateful all !
noble passage: Then thought-inspiring wo his heart shall mend, And prove his only wise, unflattering friend.
Where are the mighty thunderbolts of war? Folly exhibits thus unmanly sport,
The Roman Cæsars and the Grecian chiefs,
Alas, how slim--dishonourably slim!
How blank thy features, and how wan thy hue !
Or victim tumbled flat upon his back, But justice marks their ways: she waves in air That throbs beneath his sacrificer's knife; The sword, high-threatening, like a comet’s glare. Mute must thou bear the strife of little tongues, While here dark villany herself deceives,
And coward insults of the base-born crowd, There studious honesty our view relieves.
That grudge a privilege thou never hadst, A feeble taper from yon lonesome room,
But only hoped for in the peaceful grave Scattering thin rays, just glimmers through the of being unmolested and alone! gloom.
Arabia's gums and odoriferous drugs, There sits the sapient bard in museful mood, And honours by the heralds duly paid And glows impassioned for his country's good! In mode and form, e'en to a very scruple; All the bright spirits of the just combined,
(Oh cruel irony!) these come too late, Inform, refine, and prompt his towering mind ! And only mock whom they were meant to honour!
The death of the strong man is forcibly depicted
Mended his song of love; the sooty blackbird
Mellowed his pipe, and softened every note: Strength, too! thou surly and less gentle boast
The eglantine smelled sweeter, and the rose Of those that laugh loud at the village ring!
Assumed a dye more deep; whilst every flower A fit of common sickness pulls thee down
Vied with its fellow-plant in luxury With greater ease than e'er thou didst the stripling
Of dress! Oh! then the longest summer's day That rashly dared thee to the unequal fight. What groan was that I heard ? Deep groan, indeed, Had not imparted half: 'twas happiness
Seemed too, too much in haste: still, the full heart With anguish heavy laden ! let me trace it:
Too exquisite to last. Of joys departed From yonder bed it comes, where the strong man,
Not to return, how painful the remembrance ! By stronger arm belaboured, gasps for breath Like a hard-hunted beast. How his great heart Some of his images are characterised by a Shak. Beats thick! his roomy chest by far too scant spearian force and picturesque fancy : of suicides To give the lungs full play! What now avail
he saysThe strong-built sinewy limbs and well - spread The common damned shun their society, shoulders ?
And look upon themselves as fiends less foul. See, how he tugs for life, and lays about him,
Men see their friends
Drop off like leaves in autumn; yet launch out Just like a creature drowning. Hideous sight!
Into fantastic schemes, which the long livers Oh how his eyes stand out, and stare full ghastly!
In the world's hale and undegenerate days While the distemper's rank and deadly venom
Would scarce have leisure for. Shoots like a burning arrow 'cross his bowels, The divisions of churchmen are for ever closedAnd drinks his marrow up. Heard you that groan? The lawn-robed prelate and plain presbyter, It was his last. See how the great Goliah,
Erewhile that stood aloof, as shy to meet, Just like a child that brawled itself to rest,
Familiar mingle here, like sister-streams
That some rude interposing rock has split.
The good he scorned
Stalked off reluctant, like an ill-used ghost, Trusts only in the well-invented knife ?
Not to return; or, if it did, in visits, In our extracts from Congreve, we have quoted a
Like those of angels, short and far between. passage, much admired by Johnson, descriptive of The latter simile has been appropriated by Mr the awe and fear inspired by a cathedral scene at Campbell, in his “ Pleasures of Hope,' with one midnight, where all is hushed and still as death.' | slight verbal alteration, which can scarcely be called Blair has ventured on a similar description, and has an improvementimparted to it a terrible and gloomy power
What though my winged hours of bliss have been, See yonder hallowed fane! the pious work
Like angel visits, few and far between. Of names once famed, now dubious or forgot, The original comparison seems to belong to an And buried midst the wreck of things which were : obscure religious poet, Norris of Bemerton, who, There lie interred the more illustrious dead.
prior to Blair, wrote a poem, “The Parting,' which The wind is up: hark! how it howls! methinks contains the following verse :Till now I never heard a sound so dreary!
How fading are the joys we dote upon; Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's foul bird, Like apparitions seen and gone; Rocked in the spire, screams loud : the gloomy aisles, But those who soonest take their flight, Black - plastered, and hung round with shreds of
Are the most exquisite and strong, 'scutcheons,
Like angels' visits short and bright; And tattered coats of arms, send back the sound,
Mortality's too weak to bear them long. Laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults, The mansions of the dead. Roused from their slumbers, to be inferior to the earlier portions of the poem;
The conclusion of The Grave' has been pronounced In grim array the grisly spectres rise,
yet the following passage has a dignity, pathos, and Grin horrible, and, obstinately sullen,
devotional rapture, equal to the higher fligits of Pass and repass, hushed as the foot of night.
Thrice welcome, Death!
That, after many a painful bleeding step, With tenderness equal to his strength, Blair la- Conducts us to our home, and lands us safe ments the loss of death-divided friendships, On the long-wished-for shore. Prodigious change!
Invidious Grave ! how dost thou rend in sunder Our bane turned to a blessing! Death, disarmed, Whom love has knit, and sympathy made one ! Loses his fellness quite; all thanks to Him A tie more stubborn far than nature's band.
Who scourged the venom out. Sure the last end Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul !
Of the good man is peace! How calm his exit!
Night-dews fall not more gently to the ground,
Behold him! in the evening tide of life,
A life well spent, whose early care it was
His riper years should not upbraid his green:
High in his faith and hopes, look how he reaches Upon the sloping cowslip-covered bank,
After the prize in view ! and, like a bird Where the pure limpid stream has slid along That's hampered, struggles hard to get away! In grateful errors through the underwood,
Whilst the glad gates of sight are wide expanded Sweet murmuring, methought the shrill - tongued To let new glories in, the first fair fruits thrush
Of the fast-coming harvest. Then, oh then,
Each earth-born joy grows vile, or disappears, or by any well-wisher of mankind-was born at
vided for placing him at the university, hut he Nor time, nor death, shall ever part them more.
early inclined to the Dissenters, and he was edu'Tis but a night, a long and mconless night;
cated at one of their establishments, taught by the We make the grave our bed, and then are gone !
Rev. Thomas Rowe. He was afterwards four years Thus, at the shut of even, the weary bird
in the family of Sir John Hartopp, at Stoke NewingLeaves the wide air, and in some lonely brake
ton. Here he was chosen (1698) assistant minister by Cowers down, and dozes till the dawn of day,
an Independent congregation, of which four years Then claps his well-fledged wings, and bears away.
after he succeeded to the full charge; but bad health DR WATTS.
soon rendered him unfit for the performance of the
heavy labours thus imposed upon him, and in his Isaac Watts—a name never to be pronounced turn he required the assistance of a joint pastor. without reverence by any lover of pure Christianity, Ilis health continuing to decline, Watts was received
Abney House. in 1712 into the house of a benevolent gentleman of There is no circumstance in English literary biograhis neighbourhood, Sir Thomas Abney of Abney phy parallel to the residence of this sacred bard in Park, where he spent all the remainder of his life. I the house of a friend for the long period of thirty
six years. Abney House was a handsome mansion, Behold the God! the Almighty King
Chariots of fire and flaming horse : bute to the enjoyment of life, and favour the pursuit
Earth trembles; and her mountains flow, of his studies. Here he dwelt in a family which, for
At his approach, like melting snow. piety, order, harmony, and every virtue, was a house of God. Here he had the privilege of a country
But who those frowns of wrath can draw, recess, the fragrant bower, the spreading lawn, the
That strike heaven, earth, and hell, with awe ? flowery garden, and other advantages to soothe his Red lightning from his eyelids broke; mind and aid his restoration to health ; to yield him,
His voice was thunder, hail, and smoke. whenever he chose them, most grateful intervals He spake; the clearing waters filed, from his laborious studies, and enable him to return And stars beheld the ocean's bed : to them with redoubled vigour and delight.' The While the great Master strikes his lyre, death of Sir Thomas Abney, eight years after he You see the frighted Hoods retire: went to reside with him, made no change in these
In heaps the frighted billows stand, agreeable arrangements, as the same benevolent
Waiting the changes of his hand : patronage was extended to him by the widow, who
He leads his Israel through the sea, outlived him a year. While in this retirement, he
And watery mountains guard their way. preached occasionally, but gave the most of his time to study, and to the composition of those works
Turning his hand with sovereign sweep, which have given him a name in the annals of
He drowns all Egypt in the deep : literature. His treatises on Logic and on the Im
Then guides the tribes, a glorious band, provement of the Mind are still highly prized for their
Through deserts to the promised land. cogency of argument and felicity of illustration. Here camps, with wide-embattled force, Watts also wrote several theological works and Here gates and bulwarks stop their course ; volumes of sermons. His poetry consists almost He storms the mounds, the bulwark falls, wholly of devotional hymns, which, by their siin- The harp lies strewed with ruined walls. plicity, their unaffected ardour, and their imagery,
Sec his broad sword flies o'er the strings, powerfully arrest the attention of children, and are
And mows down nations with their kings: never forgotten in mature life. In infancy we learn
From every chord his bolts are hurled, the hymns of Watts, as part of maternal instruction,
And vengeance smites the rebel world. and in youth his moral and logical treatises impart the germs of correct reasoning and virtuous self- Lo! the great poet shifts the scene, government. The life of this good and useful man
And shows the face God serene. terminated on the 25th of November 1748, having Truth, meekness, peace, salvation, ride, been prolonged to the advanced age of seventy-five.
With guards of justice at his side. [The Rose.] How fair is the rose ! what a beautiful flower,
[A Summer Evening.) The glory of April and May !
How fine bas the day been, how bright was the sun, But the leaves are beginning to fade in an hour, How lovely and joyful the course that he run, And they wither and dic in a day.
Though he rose in a mist when his race he begun, Yet the rose has one powerful virtue to boast,
And there followed some droppings of rain! Above all the flowers of the field;
But now the fair traveller's come to the west, When its leaves are all dead, and its fine colours lost, Ilis rays are all gold, and his beauties are best ; Still how sweet a perfume it will yield !
He paints the sky gay as he sinks to his rest, So frail is the youth and the beauty of men,
And foretells a bright rising again. Though they bloom and look gay like the rose;
Just such is the Christian ; his course he begins, But all our fond care to preserve them is vain,
Like the sun in a mist, when he mourns for his sins, Time kills them as fast as he goes.
And melts into tears; then he breaks out and shines,
And travels his heavenly way:
Like a fine setting sun, he looks richer in grace,
And gives a sure hope at the end of his days,
Of rising in brighter array. [The Hebrew Bard.]
Edward Young, author of the Night Thoughts, was born in 1681 at Upham, in Hampshire, where his father (afterwards dean of Salisbury) was rector. He was educated at Winchester school, and subsequently at All Souls' college, Oxford. In 1712 he commenced public life as a courtier and poet, and he continued both characters till he was past eighty. One of his patrons was the notorious Duke of Wharton, the scorn and wonder of his days,' whom Young accompanied to Ireland in 1717. He was next tutor to Lord Burleigh, and was induced to give up this situation by Wharton, who promised to provide for him in a more suitable and ample