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ROBERT BLAIR

FROM THE GRAVE

See yonder hallowed fane;—the pious work
Of names once famed, now dubious or forgot,
And buried midst the wreck of things which were;
There lie interred the more illustrious dead.
The wind is up: hark! how it howls! Methinks
Till now I never heard a sound so dreary:
Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's foul bird,
Rooked in the spire, screams loud: the gloomy aisles,
Black-plastered, and hung round with shreds of 'scutcheons
And tattered coats of arms, send back the sound
Laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults,
The mansions of the dead.—Roused from their slumbers,
In grim array the grisly spectres rise,
Grin horrible, and, obstinately sullen,
Pass and repass, hushed as the foot of night.
Again the screech-owl shrieks: ungracious sound!
I'll hear no more; it makes one's blood run chill.

Oft in the lone churchyard at night I've seen,
By glimpse of moonshine chequering through the trees,
The school-boy, with his satchel in his hand,
Whistling aloud to bear his courage up,
And lightly tripping o'er the long flat stones,
(With nettles skirted, and with moss o’ergrown,)
That tell in homely phrase who lie below.
Sudden he starts, and hears, or thinks he hears,
The sound of something purring at his heels;
Full fast he flies, and dares not look behind him,
Till out of breath he overtakes his fellows;
Who gather round, and wonder at the tale
Of horrid apparition, tall and ghastly,
That walks at dead of night, or takes his stand
O’er some new-opened grave; and (strange to tell!)
Evanishes at crowing of the cock.

The new-made widow, too, I've sometimes spied,
Sad sight! slow moving o'er the prostrate dead:
Listless, she crawls along in doleful black,
Whilst bursts of sorrow gush from either eye,
Fast falling down her now untasted cheek:
Prone on the lowly grave of the dear man
She drops; whilst busy, meddling memory,
In barbarous succession musters up
The past endearments of their softer hours,
Tenacious of its theme. Still, still she thinks
She sees him, and indulging the fond thought,
Clings yet more closely to the senseless turf,
Nor heeds the passenger who looks that way.

When the dread trumpet sounds, the slumbering dust,
Not unattentive to the call, shall wake,
And every joint possess its proper place
With a new elegance of form unknown
To its first state. Nor shall the conscious soul
Mistake its partner, but, amidst the crowd
Singling its other half, into its arnis
Shall rush with all the impatience of a man
That's new come home, who having long been absent
With haste runs over every different room
In pain to see the whole. Thrice happy meeting!
Nor time nor death shall part them ever more.
'Tis but a night, a long and moonless night,
We make the grave our bed, and then are gone.

Thus at the shut of even the weary bird
Leaves the wide air and, in some lonely brake,
Cowers down and dozes till the dawn of day,
Then claps his well-fledged wings and bears away.

WILLIAM WHITEHEAD

FROM ON RIDICULE

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1

Our mirthful age, to all extremes prey,
Even courts the lash, and laughs her pains away,
Declining worth imperial wit supplies,
And Momus triumphs, while Astræa flies.
No truth so sacred, banter cannot hit,
No fool so stupid but he aims at wit.
Even those whose breasts ne'er planned one virtuous deed,
Nor raised a thought beyond the earth they tread:
Even those can censure, those can dare deride
A Bacon's avarice, or a Tully's pride;
And sneer at human checks by Nature given.
To curb perfection e'er it rival Heaven:
Nay, chiefly such in these low arts prevail,
Whose want of talents leaves them time to raid.
Born for no end, they worse than useless grow,
(As waters poison, if they cease to flow;)
And pests become, whom kinder fate designed
But harmless expletives of human kind.
See with what zeal th' insidious task they ply!
Where shall the prudent, where the virtuous fly?
Lurk as ye can, if they direct the ray,
The veriest atoms in the sunbeams play.
No venial slip their quick attention ’scapes;
They trace each Proteus through his hundred shapes;
To Mirth's tribunal drag the caitiff train,
Where Mercy sleeps, and Nature pleads in vain.

1

Here then we fix, and lash without control
These mental pests, and hydras of the soul;
Acquired ill-nature, ever prompt debate,
A zeal for slander, and deliberate hate:
These court contempt, proclaim the public foe,
And each, Ulysses like, should aim the blow.

Yet sure, even here, our motives should be known:
Rail we to check his spleen, or ease our own?

Does injured virtue every shaft supply,
Arm the keen tongue, and flush th' erected eye?
Or do we from ourselves ourselves disguise ?
And act, perhaps, the villain we chastise?
Hope we to mend him? hopes, alas, how vain!
He feels the lash, not listens to the rein.

'Tis dangerous too, in these licentious times,
Howe'er severe the smile, to sport with crimes.
Vices when ridiculed, experience says,
First lose that horror which they ought to raise,
Grow by degrees approved, and almost aim at praise.

[The] fear of man, in his most mirthful mood, May make us hypocrites, but seldom good.

Besides, in men have varying passions made
Such nice confusions, blending light with shade,
That eager zeal to laugh the vice away
May hurt some virtue's intermingling ray.

Then let good-nature every charm exert,
And while it mends it, win th' unfolding heart.
Let moral mirth a face of triumph wear,
Yet smile unconscious of th' extorted tear.
See with what grace instructive satire flows,
Politely keen, in Clio's numbered prose!
That great example should our zeal excite,
And censors learn from Addison to write.
So, in our age, too prone to sport with pain,
Might soft humanity resume her reign;
Pride without rancour feel th’ objected fault,
And folly blush, as willing to be taught;
Critics grow mild, life's witty warfare cease,
And true good-nature breathe the balm of peace.

THE ENTHUSIAST

Once I remember well the day,
'Twas ere the blooming sweets of May

Had lost their freshest hues,
When every flower on every hill,
In every vale, had drank its fill

Of sunshine and of dews.
In short, 'twas that sweet season's prime
When Spring' gives up the reins of time
To Summer's glowing hand,
And doubting mortals hardly know
By whose command the breezes blow

Which fan the smiling land.
'Twas then, beside a greenwood shade
Which clothed a lawn's aspiring head,

I urged my devious way,
With loitering steps regardless where,
So soft, so genial was the air,

So wondrous bright the day.
And now my eyes with transport rove
O'er all the blue expanse above,

Unbroken by a cloud !
And now beneath delighted pass,
Where winding through the deep-green grass

A full-brimmed river flowed.
I stop, I gaze; in accents rude,
To thee, serenest Solitude,

Bursts forth th' unbidden lay; 'Begone vile world! the learned, the wise, The great, the busy, I despise,

And pity even the gay.
‘These, these are joys alone, I cry,
'Tis here, divine Philosophy,

Thou deign'st to fix thy throne!
Here contemplation points the road
Through nature's charms to nature's God!

These, these are joys alone!

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