SELECTED AND EDITED WITH AN INTRODUCTION
PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
The text of this collection of poetry is authentic and not bowdlerized. The general reader will, I hope, be gratified to find that its pages display no pedantic or scholastic traits. His pleasure in the poetry itself will not be distracted by a marginal numbering of the lines; by index-figures and footnotes; or by antiquated peculiarities of spelling, capitalization, and elision. Except where literal conventions are essential to the poet's purpose,—as in The Castle of Indolence, The Schoolmistress, or Chatterton's poems,—I have followed modern usage. Dialect words are explained in the glossary; and the student who may wish to consult the context of any passage will find the necessary references in the unusually full table of contents. Whenever the title of a poem gives too vague a notion of its substance, or whenever its substance is miscellaneous, I have supplied [bracketed] captions for the extracts; except for these, there is nothing on the pages of the text besides the poets' own words.
Originality is not the proper characteristic of an anthologist, and in the choice of extracts I have rarely indulged my personal likings when they conflicted with time-honored preferences; yet this anthology,—the first published in a projected series of four or five volumes comprising the English poets from Elizabethan to Victorian times,—has certain minor features that may be deemed objectionably novel. Much the greater portion of the volume has of course, as usual, been given to those poems (by Pope, Thomson, Collins, Gray, Goldsmith, Crabbe, Cowper, and Burns) which have been loved or admired from their day to our own. But I have ventured to admit also a few which, though forgotten to-day, either were popular in the eighteenth century or possess marked historical significance. In other words, I present not solely what the twentieth century considers enduringly great in the poetry of the eighteenth, but also a little—proportionately very little—of what the eighteenth century itself (perhaps mistakenly) considered interesting. This secondary purpose accounts for my inclusion of passages from such neglected authors as Mandeville, Brooke, Day, and Darwin. The passages of this sort are too infrequent to annoy him who reads for aesthetic pleasure only; and to the student they will illustrate movements in the spirit of the age which would otherwise be unrepresented, and which, as the historical introduction points out, are an integral part of its thought and feeling. The inclusion of passages from "Ossian," though almost unprecedented, requires, I think, no defense against the literal-minded protest that they are written in "prose."
Students of poetical history will find it illuminating to read the passages in chronological order (irrespective of authorship); and in order to facilitate this method I have given in the table of contents the date of each poem.
JOHN POMFRET THE CHOICE (1700)
DANIEL DEFOE THE TRUE-BORN ENGLISHMAN (1701), ll. 119-132, 189-228, 312-321 A HYMN TO THE PILLORY (1703), STANZAS 1, 3, 5-6, 28-30
JOSEPH ADDISON THE CAMPAIGN (1704), ll. 259-292 DIVINE ODE (1712)
MATTHEW PRIOR TO A CHILD OF QUALITY (1704) TO A LADY (1704) THE DYING HADRIAN TO HIS SOUL (1704) A BETTER ANSWER (1718)
BERNARD DE MANDEVILLE THE GRUMBLING HIVE (1705, 1714), ll. 1-6, 26-52, 149-156, 171-186, 198-239, 327-336, 377-408
ISAAC WATTS THE HAZARD OF LOVING THE CREATURES (1706) THE DAY OF JUDGMENT (1709) O GOD, OUR HELP IN AGES PAST (1719) A CRADLE HYMN (1719)
ALEXANDER POPE AN ESSAY ON CRITICISM (1711), ll. 1-18, 46-51, 68-91, 118-180, 215-423, 560-577, 612-642 THE RAPE OF THE LOCK (1714), CANTOS II AND III TRANSLATION OF THE ILIAD, BOOK VI (1717), ll. 562-637 AN ESSAY ON MAN (1733-34), EPISTLE I; 11, 1-18; IV, 93-204, 361-398 MORAL ESSAYS, EPISTLE II (1735), ll. 1-16, 87-180, 199-210, 231-280 EPISTLE TO DR. ARBUTHNOT (1735), ll. 1-68, 115-214, 261-304, 334-367, 389-419 FIRST EPISTLE OF THE SECOND BOOK OF HORACE IMITATED (1737), ll. 23-138, 161-296, 338-347 EPILOGUE TO THE SATIRES (1738), DIALOGUE II, ll. 208-223 THE DUNCIAD (1728-43), BOOK i, ll. 28-84, 107-134; iv. 627-656
LADY WINCHILSEA TO THE NIGHTINGALE (1713) A NOCTURNAL REVERIE (1713)
JOHN GAY RURAL SPORTS (1713), ll. 91-106 THE SHEPHERD'S WEEK: THURSDAY; OR, THE SPELL (1714), ll. 5-14, 49-60, 83-136 TRIVIA (1716), BOOK II, ll. 25-64 SWEET WILLIAM'S FAREWELL TO BLACK-EYED SUSAN (1720) MY OWN EPITAPH (1720)
SAMUEL CROXALL THE VISION (1715), ll. 41-56
THOMAS TICKELL ON THE DEATH OF MR. ADDISON (1721), ll. 9-46, 67-82
THOMAS PARNELL A NIGHT-PIECE ON DEATH (1721), ll. 1-70 A HYMN OF CONTENTMENT (1721)
ALLAN RAMSAY THE GENTLE SHEPHERD: PATIE AND ROGER (1721), ll. 1-52, 59-68, 135-202
AMBROSE PHILIPS TO MISS CHARLOTTE PULTENEY, IN HER MOTHER'S ARMS (1725)
JOHN DYER GRONGAR HILL (1726)
GEORGE BERKELEY VERSES ON THE PROSPECT OF PLANTING ARTS AND LEARNING IN AMERICA (WR. c. 1726; PUBL. 1752)
JAMES THOMSON THE SEASONS (1726-30) WINTER, ll. 223-358 SUMMER, ll. 1630-1645 SPRING, ll. 1-113, 846-876 AUTUMN, ll. 950-1003 A HYMN RULE, BRITANNIA (1740) THE CASTLE OF INDOLENCE (1748), STANZAS 1-11, 20, 57-59
EDWARD YOUNG LOVE OF FAME: SATIRES V-VI (1727-28), SATIRE V, ll. 227-246, 469-484; VI, 393-462 NIGHT-THOUGHTS (1742-45), NIGHT I, ll. 68-90; III, 325-342; IV, 201-233; VII, 253-323
ANONYMOUS THE HAPPY SAVAGE (1732)
SOAME JENYNS AN ESSAY ON VIRTUE (1734), ll. 148-165, 170-183, 189-199
PHILIP DODDRIDGE SURSUM (1735?)
WILLIAM SOMERVILLE THE CHASE (1735), BOOK II, ll. 119-171
HENRY BROOKE UNIVERSAL BEAUTY (1735), BOOK III, ll. 1-8, 325-364; V, 282-297, 330-339, 361-384 PROLOGUE TO GUSTAVUS VASA (1739) CONRADE, A FRAGMENT (WR. 1743?, PUBL. 1778), ll. 1-26
MATTHEW GREEN THE SPLEEN (1737), ll. 89-110, 624-642
WILLIAM SHENSTONE THE SCHOOLMISTRESS (1737), STANZAS 6, 8, 18-20, 23, 28 WRITTEN AT AN INN AT HENLEY (1764)
JONATHAN SWIFT THE BEASTS' CONFESSION (1738), ll. 1-128, 197-220 VERSES ON THE DEATH OF DR. SWIFT (1739), ll. 39-66, 299-338, 455-482
CHARLES WESLEY FOR CHRISTMAS-DAY (1739) FOR EASTER-DAY (1739) IN TEMPTATION: JESU, LOVER OF MY SOUL (1740)
WRESTLING JACOB (1742) ROBERT BLAIR THE GRAVE (1743), ll. 28-44, 56-84, 750-767
WILLIAM WHITEHEAD ON RIDICULE (1743), ll. 27-52, 153-171, 225-226, 233-236, 287-301 THE ENTHUSIAST (1754)
MARK AKENSIDE THE PLEASURES OF IMAGINATION (1744), BOOK I, ll. 34-43, 113-124; III, 515-535, 568-633
JOSEPH WARTON THE ENTHUSIAST; OR, THE LOVER OF NATURE (1744), ll. 1-20, 26-38, 87-103, 167-244
JOHN GILBERT COOPER THE POWER OF HARMONY (1745), BOOK II, ll. 35-51, 125-140, 330-343
WILLIAM COLLINS ODE WRITTEN IN 1746 (1746) ODE TO EVENING (1746) ODE ON THE POETICAL CHARACTER (1746) THE PASSIONS (1746) ODE ON THE POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS OF THE HIGHLANDS (WR. 1749, PUBL. 1788)
THOMAS WARTON THE PLEASURES OF MELANCHOLY (1747), ll. 28-69, 153-165, 196-210 THE GRAVE OF KING ARTHUR (1777), ll. 31-74 SONNET WRITTEN IN A BLANK LEAF OF DUGDALE'S MONASTICON (1777) SONNET WRITTEN AT STONEHENGE (1777) SONNET TO THE RIVER LODON (1777)
THOMAS GRAY AN ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE (1747) HYMN TO ADVERSITY (1748) ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD (1751) THE PROGRESS OF POESY (1757) THE BARD (1757) THE FATAL SISTERS (1768) ODE ON THE PLEASURE ARISING FROM VICISSITUDE (1775)
SAMUEL JOHNSON THE VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES (1749), ll. 99-118, 133-160, 189-220, 289-308, 341-366
RICHARD JAGO THE GOLDFINCHES (1753), STANZAS 3-10
JOHN DALTON A DESCRIPTIVE POEM (1755), ll. 222-227, 238-257, 265-272, 279-290
JANE ELLIOT THE FLOWERS OF THE FOREST (WR. 1756)
CHARLES CHURCHILL THE ROSCIAD (1761), ll. 963-986 THE GHOST (1762), BOOK II, ll. 653-676
"TRANSLATIONS" FROM OSSIAN FINGAL, AN EPIC POEM (1762), BOOK VI, Sec.Sec. 10-14 THE SONGS OF SELMA (1762), Sec.Sec. 4-8, 20-21
CHRISTOPHER SMART A SONG TO DAVID (1763), ll. 451-516
OLIVER GOLDSMITH THE TRAVELLER (1764), ll. 51-64, 239-280, 423-438 THE DESERTED VILLAGE (1770) RETALIATION (1774), ll. 29-42, 61-78, 93-124, 137-146
JAMES BEATTIE THE MINSTREL, BOOK I (1771), STANZAS 4-5, 16, 22, 32-33, 52-55
LADY ANNE LINDSAY AULD ROBIN GRAY (WR. 1771)
JEAN ADAMS THERE'S NAE LUCK ABOUT THE HOUSE (c. 1771)
ROBERT FERGUSSON THE DAFT DAYS (1772)
ANONYMOUS ABSENCE (c. 1773?)
JOHN LANGHORNE THE COUNTRY JUSTICE, PART I (1774), ll. 132-165
AUGUSTUS MONTAGU TOPLADY ROCK OF AGES (1775)
JOHN SKINNER TULLOCHGORUM (1776)
THOMAS CHATTERTON SONGS FROM AELLA (1777) THE BODDYNGE FLOURETTES BLOSHES ATTE THE LYGHTE O, SYNGE UNTOE MIE ROUNDELAIE AN EXCELENTE BALADE OF CHARITIE
THOMAS DAY THIS DESOLATION OF AMERICA (1777), ll. 29-53, 279-299, 328-335, 440-458, 489-501
GEORGE CRABBE THE LIBRARY (1781), ll. 1-12, 99-110, 127-134, AND A COMMONLY OMITTED PASSAGE FOLLOWING l. 594 THE VILLAGE (1783), BOOK I, ll. 1-78, 109-317; II, 63-100
JOHN NEWTON A VISION OF LIFE IN DEATH (1779?)
WILLIAM COWPER TABLE TALK (1782), ll. 716-739 CONVERSATION (1782), ll. 119-162 TO A YOUNG LADY (1782) THE SHRUBBERY (1782) THE TASK (1785), BOOK I, ll. 141-180; II, 1-47, 206-254; III, 108-l33; IV, 1-41; V, 379-445; VI, 56-117, 560-580 ON THE RECEIPT OF MY MOTHER'S PICTURE (1798) TO MARY (WR. c. 1795, PUBL. 1803) THE CASTAWAY (WR. c. 1799, PUBL. 1803)
WILLIAM LISLE BOWLES EVENING (1789) DOVER CLIFFS (1789)
ROBERT BURNS MARY MORISON (WR. 1784?, PUBL. 1800) THE HOLY FAIR (WR. 1785, PUBL. 1786) TO A LOUSE (WR. 1785, PUBL. 1786) EPISTLE TO J. LAPRAIK (WR. 1785, PUBL. 1786), STANZAS 9-13 THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT (WR. 1785-86, PUBL. 1786) TO A MOUSE (1786) TO A MOUNTAIN DAISY (1786) EPISTLE TO A YOUNG FRIEND (1786) A BARD'S EPITAPH (1786) ADDRESS TO THE UNCO GUID (1787) JOHN ANDERSON, MY Jo (WR. c. 1788, PUBL. 1790) THE LOVELY LASS OF INVERNESS (WR. c. 1788, PUBL. 1796) A RED, RED ROSE (WR. c. 1788, PUBL. 1796) AULD LANG SYNE (WR. c. 1788, PUBL. 1796) SWEET AFTON (WR. c. 1789, PUBL. 1796) THE HAPPY TRIO (WR. 1789, PUBL. 1796) TO MARY IN HEAVEN (WR. 1789, PUBL. 1796) TAM O' SHANTER (WR. 1790, PUBL. 1791) AE FOND KISS (WR. 1791, PUBL. 1792) DUNCAN GRAY (WR. 1792, PUBL. 1798) HIGHLAND MARY (WR. 1792, PUBL. 1799) SCOTS, WHA HAE (WR. 1793, PUBL. 1794) IS THERE FOR HONEST POVERTY (WR. 1794, PUBL. 1795) LAST MAY A BRAW WOOER (WR. c. 1795, PUBL. 1799) O, WERT THOU IN THE CAULD BLAST (WR. 1796, PUBL. 1800)
ERASMUS DARWIN THE BOTANIC GARDEN (1789-92), PART I, CANTO I, ll. 1-38; PART II, CANTO I, ll. 299-310
WILLIAM BLAKE TO WINTER (1783) SONG: FRESH FROM THE DEWY HILL (1783) TO THE MUSES (1783) INTRODUCTION TO SONGS OF INNOCENCE (1789) THE LAMB (1789) THE LITTLE BLACK BOY (1789) A CRADLE SONG (1789) HOLY THURSDAY (1789) THE DIVINE IMAGE (1789) ON ANOTHER'S SORROW (1789) THE BOOK OF THEL (1789) THE FRENCH REVOLUTION (PRINTED 1791), ll, 198-240 A SONG OP LIBERTY (c. 1792), Sec.Sec. 1-3, 12, 18-20, AND CHORUS THE FLY (1794) THE TIGER (1794) HOLY THURSDAY (1794) THE GARDEN OF LOVE (1794) A LITTLE BOY LOST (1794) THE SCHOOL-BOY (1794) LONDON (1794) AUGURIES OF INNOCENCE (WR. c. 1801-03), LL. 1-44, 73-90 VERSES FROM "MILTON" (ENGRAVED c. 1804) AND DID THOSE FEET IN ANCIENT TIME REASON AND IMAGINATION VERSES FROM "JERUSALEM" (ENGRAVED c. 1804-11) TO THE DEISTS
GEORGE CANNING THE PROGRESS OF MAN (1798), CANTO XXIII, ll. 7-16, 17-30 THE NEW MORALITY (1798), ll. 87-157
CAROLINA, LADY NAIRNE THE LAND O' THE LEAL (WR. 1798)
I. ORTHODOXY AND CLASSICISM QUIESCENT (1700-1725) The clearest portrayal of the prominent features of an age may sometimes be seen in poems which reveal what men desire to be rather than what they are; and which express sentiments typical, even commonplace, rather than individual. John Pomfret's Choice (1700) is commonplace indeed; it was never deemed great, but it was remarkably popular. "No composition in our language," opined Dr. Johnson, "has been oftener perused,"—an opinion quite incredible until one perceives how intimately the poem harmonizes with the prevalent mood of its contemporary readers. It was written by a clergyman (a circumstance not insignificant); its form is the heroic couplet; its content is a wish, for a peaceful and civilized mode of existence. And what; is believed to satisfy that longing? A life of leisure; the necessaries of comfort plentifully provided, but used temperately; a country-house upon a hillside, not too distant from the city; a little garden bordered by a rivulet; a quiet-study furnished with the classical Roman poets; the society of a few friends, men who know the world as well as books, who are loyal to their nation and their church, and whose; conversation is intellectually vigorous but always polite; the occasional companionship of a woman of virtue, wit, and poise of manner; and, above all, the avoidance of public or private contentions. Culture and peace—and the greater of these is peace! The sentiment characterizes the first quarter of the eighteenth century.
The poets of that period had received an abundant heritage from the Elizabethans, the Cavaliers, Dryden, and Milton. It was a poetry of passionate love, chivalric honor, indignant satire, and sublime faith. Much of it they admired, but their admiration was tempered with fear. They heard therein the tones of violent generations,—of men whose intensity, though yielding extraordinary beauty and grandeur, yielded also obscurity and extravagance; men whom the love of women too often impelled to utter fantastic hyperbole, and the love of honor to glorify preposterous adventures; quarrelsome men, who assailed their opponents with rancorous personalities; doctrinaires, who employed their fiery energy of mind in the creation of rigid systems of religion and government; uncompromising men, who devoted to the support of those systems their fortunes and lives, drenched the land in the blood of a civil war, executed a king, presently restored his dynasty, and finally exiled it again, thus maintaining during half a century a general insecurity of life and property which checked the finer growths of civilization. Their successors trusted that the compromise of 1688 had reduced political and sectarian affairs to a state of calm equilibrium; and they desired to cultivate the fruits of serenity by fostering in all things the spirit of moderation. In poetry, as in life, they tended more and more to discountenance manifestations of vehemence. Even the poetry of Dryden, with its reflections of the stormy days through which he had struggled, seemed to them, though gloriously leading the way toward perfection, to fall short of equability of temper and smoothness of form. To work like Defoe's True-Born Englishman (1701) and Hymn to the Pillory (1703), combative in spirit and free in style, they gave only guarded and temporary approval.
Inevitably the change of mood entailed losses. Sir Henry Wotton's Character of a Happy Life (c. 1614) treats the same theme as Pomfret's Choice; but Pomfret's contemporaries were rarely if ever visited by such gleams as shine in Wotton's lines describing the happy man as one
who never understood How deepest wounds are given by praise,
and as one
Who God doth late and early pray More of his grace than gifts to lend.
Such touches of penetrative wisdom and piety, like many other precious qualities, are of an age that had passed. In the poetry of 1700-1725, religion forgoes mysticism and exaltation; the intellectual life, daring and subtlety; the imagination, exuberance and splendor. Enthusiasm for moral ideals declines into steadfast approval of ethical principles. Yet these were changes in tone and manner rather than in fundamental views. The poets of the period were conservatives. They were shocked by the radicalism of Mandeville, the Nietzsche of his day, who derided the generally accepted moralities as shallow delusions, and who by means of a clever fable supported a materialistic theory which implied that in the struggle for existence nothing but egotism could succeed:
Fools only strive To make a great and honest hive.
Obloquy buried him; he was a sensational exception to the rule. As a body, the poets of his time retained the orthodox traditions concerning God, Man, and Nature.
Their theology is evidenced by Addison, Watts, and Parnell. It is a Christianity that has not ceased to be stern and majestic. In Addison's Divine Ode, the planets of the firmament proclaim a Creator whose power knows no bounds. In the hymns of Isaac Watts, God is as of old a jealous God, obedience to whose eternal will may require the painful sacrifice of temporal earthly affections, even the sacrifice of our love for our fellow-creatures; a just God, who by the law of his own nature cannot save unrepentant sin from eternal retribution; yet an adored God, whose providence protects the faithful amid stormy vicissitudes,—
Under the shadow of whose throne The saints have dwelt secure.
Spirits as gentle and kindly as Parnell insist that the only approach to happiness lies through a religious discipline of the feelings, and protest that death is not to be feared but welcomed—as the passage from a troublous existence to everlasting peace. In most of the poetry of the time, religion, if at all noticeable, is a mere undercurrent; but whenever it rises to the surface, it reflects the ancient creed.
Traditional too is the general conception of human character. Man is still thought of as a complex of lofty and mean qualities, widely variable in their proportion yet in no instance quite dissevered. To interpret—not God or Nature—but this self-contradictory being, in both his higher and his lower manifestations and possibilities, remains the chief vocation of the poets. They have not ceased the endeavor to lend dignity to life by portraying its nobler features. Addison, in The Campaign, glorifies the national hero whose brilliant victories thwarted the great monarch of France on his seemingly invincible career toward the hegemony of Europe, the warrior Marlborough, serene of soul amid the horror and confusion of battle. Tickell, in his noble elegy on Addison, not only, while voicing his own grief, illustrates the beauty of devoted friendship, but also, when eulogizing his subject, holds up to admiration, as a type to be revered, the wise moralist, cultured and versatile man of letters, and adept in the art of virtuous life. Pope, in the most ambitious literary effort of the day, his translation of the Iliad, labors to enrich the treasury of English poetry with an epic that sheds radiance upon the ideals and manners of an heroic age. In such attempts to exalt the grander phases of human existence, the poets were, however, owing to their fear of enthusiasm, never quite successful. It is significant that though most critics consider Pope's Homer no better than a mediocre performance, none denies that his Rape of the Lock is, in its kind, perfection.
Here, as in the vers de societe of Matthew Prior and Ambrose Philips, the age was illuminating with the graces of poetry something it really understood and delighted in,—the life of leisure and fashion; and here, accordingly, is its most original and masterly work. The Rape of the Lock is the product of a society which had the good sense and good breeding to try to laugh away incipient quarrels, and which greeted with airy banter the indiscreet act of an enamoured young gallant,—the kind of act which vulgarity meets with angry lampoons or rude violence. The poem is an idyll quite as much as a satire. The follies of fashionable life are treated with nothing severer than light raillery; and its actually distasteful features,—its lapses into stupidity, its vacuous restlessness, its ennui,—are cunningly suppressed. But all that made it seem the height of human felicity is preserved, and enhanced in charm. "Launched on the bosom of the silver Thames," one glides to Hampton Court amid youth and gayety and melting music; and for the nonce this realm of "airs, flounces, and furbelows," of merry chit-chat, and of pleasurable excitement, seems as important as it is to those exquisite creatures of fancy that hover about the heroine, assiduous guardians of her "graceful ease and sweetness void of pride." Of that admired world likewise are the lovers that Matthew Prior creates, who woo neither with stormy passion nor with mawkish whining, but in a courtly manner; lovers who deem an epigram a finer tribute than a sigh. So the tender fondness of a middle-aged man for an infant is elevated above the commonplace by assuming the tone of playful gallantry.
The ignobler aspects of life,—nutriment of the comic sense,—were not ignored. The new school of poets, however deficient in the higher vision, were keen observers of actuality; and among them the satiric spirit, though not militant as in the days of Dryden, was still active. The value which they attached to social culture is again shown in the persistence of the sentiment that as man grew in civility he became less ridiculous. The peccadilloes of the upper classes they treated with comparatively gentle humor, and aimed their strokes of satire chiefly against the lower. Rarely did they idealize humble folk: Gay's Sweet William's Farewett to Black-Eyed Susan is in this respect exceptional. Their typical attitude is seen in his Shepherd's Week, with its ludicrous picture of rustic superstition and naive amorousness; and in Allan Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd, where the pastoral, once remote from life, assumes the manners and dialect of the countryside in order to arouse laughter.
The obvious fact that these poets centered their attention upon Man, particularly in his social life, and that their most memorable productions are upon that theme, led posterity to complain that they wholly lacked interest in Nature, were incapable of delineating it, and did not feel its sacred influence. The last point in the indictment,—and the last only,—is quite true. No one who understood and believed, as they did, the doctrines of orthodoxy could consistently ascribe divinity to Nature. To them Nature exhibited the power of God, but not his will; and the soul of Man gained its clearest moral light directly from a supernatural source. This did not, however, imply that Nature was negligible. The celebrated essays of Addison on the pleasures of the imagination (Spectator, Nos. 411-414) base those pleasures upon the grandeur of Nature; upon its variety and freshness, as of "groves, fields, and meadows in the opening of the Spring"; and upon its beauty of form and color. The works of Nature, declares Addison, surpass those of art, and accordingly "we always find the poet in love with a country life." Such was the theory; the practice was not out of accord therewith. Passages appreciative of the lovelier aspects of Nature, and not, despite the current preference for general rather than specific terms, inaccurate as descriptions, were written between 1700 and 1726 by Addison himself, Pope, Lady Winchilsea, Gay, Parnell, Dyer, and many others. Nature worshippers they were not. Nature lovers they can be justly styled,—if such love may discriminate between the beautiful and the ugly aspects of the natural. It is characteristic that Berkeley, in his Prospect of Planting Arts and Learning in America, does not indulge the fancy that the wilderness is of itself uplifting; it requires, he assumes, the aid of human culture and wisdom,—"the rise of empire and of arts,"—to develop its potentialities.
A generation which placidly adhered to the orthodox sentiments of its predecessors was of course not moved to revolutionize poetical theories or forms. Its theories are authoritatively stated in Pope's Essay on Criticism; they embrace principles of good sense and mature taste which are easier to condemn than to confute or supersede. In poetical diction the age cultivated clearness, propriety, and dignity: it rejected words so minutely particular as to suggest pedantry or specialization; and it refused to sacrifice simple appropriateness to inaccurate vigor of utterance or meaningless beauty of sound. Its favorite measure, the decasyllabic couplet, moulded by Jonson, Sandys, Waller, Denham, and Dryden, it accepted reverently, as an heirloom not to be essentially altered but to be polished until it shone more brightly than ever. Pope perfected this form, making it at once more artistic and more natural. He discountenanced on the one hand run-on lines, alexandrines, hiatus, and sequence of monosyllables; on the other, the resort to expletives and the mechanical placing of caesura. If his verse does not move with the "long resounding pace" of Dryden at his best, it has a movement better suited to the drawing-room: it is what Oliver Wendell Holmes terms
The straight-backed measure with the stately stride.
Thus in form as in substance the poetry of the period voiced the mood, not of carefree youth, nor yet of vehement early manhood, but of still vigorous middle age,—a phase of existence perhaps less ingratiating than others, but one which has its rightful hour in the life of the race as of the individual. The sincere and artistic expression of its feelings will be denied poetical validity only by those whose capacity for appreciating the varieties of poetry is limited by their lack of experience or by narrowness of sympathetic imagination.
II. ORTHODOXY AND CLASSICISM ASSAILED (1726-1750)
During the second quarter of the century, Pope and his group remained dominant in the realm of poetry; but their mood was no longer pacific. Their work showed a growing seriousness and acerbity. Partly the change was owing to disappointment: life had not become so highly cultured, literature had not prospered so much, nor displayed so broad a diffusion of intelligence and taste, as had been expected. Pope's Dunciad, Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, and ironic satire on the state of literature under "Augustus" (George II, the "snuffy old drone from the German hive"), brilliantly express this indignation with the intellectual and literary shortcomings of the times.
A cause of the change of mood which was to be of more lasting consequence than the failure of the age to put the traditional ideal more generally into practice, was the appearance of a distinctly new ideal,—one which undermined the very foundations of the old. This new spirit may be termed sentimentalism. In prose literature it had already been stirring for about twenty-five years, changing the tone of comedy, entering into some of the periodical essays, and assuming a philosophic character in the works of Lord Shaftesbury. Its chief doctrines, rhapsodically promulgated by this amiable and original enthusiast, were that the universe and all its creatures constitute a perfect harmony; and that Man, owing to his innate moral and aesthetic sense, needs no supernatural revelation of religious or ethical truth, because if he will discard the prejudices of tradition, he will instinctively, when face to face with Nature, recognize the Spirit which dwells therein,—and, correspondingly, when in the presence of a good deed he will recognize its morality. In other words. God and Nature are one; and Man is instinctively good, his cardinal virtue being the love of humanity, his true religion the love of Nature. Be therefore of good cheer: evil merely appears to exist, sin is a figment of false psychology; lead mankind to return to the natural, and they will find happiness.
The poetical possibilities of sentimentalism were not grasped by any noteworthy poet before Thomson. The Seasons was an innovation, and its novelty lay not so much in the choice of the subject as in the interpretation. Didactic as well as descriptive, it was designed not merely to present realistic pictures but to arouse certain explicitly stated thoughts and feelings. Thomson had absorbed some of Shaftesbury's ideas. Such sketches as that of the hardships which country folk suffer in winter, contrasted with the thoughtless gayety of city revelers, and inculcating the lesson of sympathy, are precisely in the vein that sentimentalism encouraged. So, too, the tendency of Shaftesbury to deify Nature appears in several ardent passages. The choice of blank verse as the medium of this liberal and expansive train of thought was appropriate. It should not be supposed, however, that Thomson accepted sentimentalism in its entirety or fully understood its ultimate bearings. The author of Rule, Britannia praised many things,—like commerce and industry and imperial power,—that are not favored by the thorough sentimentalist. Often he was inconsistent: his Hymn to Nature is in part a pantheistic rhapsody, in part a monotheistic Hebrew psalm. Essentially an indolent though receptive mind, he made no effort to trace the new ideas to their consequences; he vaguely considered them not irreconcilable with the old.
A keener mind fell into the same error. Pope, in the Essay on Man, tried to harmonize the orthodox conception of human character with sentimental optimism. As a collection of those memorable half-truths called aphorisms, the poem is admirable; as an attempt to unite new half-truths with old into a consistent scheme of life, it is fallacious. No creature composed of such warring elements as Pope describes in the superb antitheses that open Epistle II, can ever become in this world as good and at the same time as happy as Epistle IV vainly asserts. Pope, charged with heresy, did not repeat this endeavor to console mankind; he returned to his proper element, satire. But his effort to unite the new philosophy with the old psychology is striking evidence of the attractiveness and growing vogue of Shaftesbury's theories.
It was minor poets who first expressed sentimental ideas without inconsistency. As early as 1732, anonymous lines in the Gentleman's Magazine advanced what must have seemed the outrageously paradoxical thought that the savage in the wilderness was happier than civilized man. Two years later Soame Jenyns openly assailed in verse the orthodox doctrines of sin and retribution. These had long been assailed in prose; and under the influence of the attacks, within the pale of the Church itself, some ministers had suppressed or modified the sterner aspects of the creed,—a movement which Young's satires had ridiculed in the person of a lady of fashion who gladly entertained the notion that the Deity was too well-bred to call a lady to account for her offenses. Jenyns versified this effeminization of Christianity, charged orthodoxy with attributing cruelty to God, and asserted that faith in divine and human kindness would banish all wrong and discord from the world. In 1735 a far more important poet of sentimentalism arose in Henry Brooke, an undeservedly neglected pioneer, who, likewise drawing his inspiration from Shaftesbury, developed its theories with unusual consistency and fullness. His Universal Beauty voiced his sense of the divine immanence in every part of the cosmos, and emphasized the doctrine that animals, because they unhesitatingly follow the promptings of Nature, are more lovely, happy, and moral than Man, who should learn from them the individual and social virtues, abandon artificial civilization, and follow instinct. Brooke, in the prologue of his Gustavus Vasa, shows that he foresaw the political bearings of this theory; it is, in his opinion, peculiarly a people "guiltless of courts, untainted, and unread" that, illumined by Nature, understands and upholds freedom: but this was a thought too advanced to be general at this time even among Brooke's fellow-sentimentalists.
Though sentimental literature bore the seeds of revolution, its earliest effect upon its devotees was to create, through flattery of human character, a feeling of good-natured complacency. Against this optimism the traditional school reacted in two ways,—derisive and hortatory. Pope, Young, and Swift satirized with masterful skill the inherent weaknesses and follies of mankind, the vigor of their strokes drawing from the sentimentalist Whitehead the feeble but significant protest, On Ridicule, deprecating satire as discouraging to benevolence. On the other hand, Wesley's hymns fervently summoned to repentance and piety; while Young's Night Thoughts, yielding to the new influence only in its form (blank verse), reasserted the hollowness of earthly existence, the justice of God's stern will, and the need of faith in heavenly immortality as the only adequate satisfaction of the spiritual elements in Man. The literary powers of Pope, Swift, and Young were far superior to those of the opposed school, which might have been overborne had not a second generation of sentimentalists arisen to voice its claims in a more poetical manner.
These newcomers,—Akenside, J.G. Cooper, the Wartons, and Collins,—all of them very young, appeared between 1744 and 1747; and each rendered distinct service to their common cause. The least original of the group, John Gilbert Cooper, versified in The Power of Harmony Shaftesbury's cosmogony. More independently, Mark Akenside developed out of the same doctrine of universal harmony the theory of aesthetics that was to guide the school,—the theory that the true poet is created not by culture and discipline at all, but owes to the impress of Nature—that beauty which is goodness—his imagination, his taste, and his moral vision. Though comparatively ardent and free in manner, Akenside pursued the customary, didactic method. Less abstract, more nearly an utterance of personal feeling, was Joseph Warton's Enthusiast, or the Lover of Nature, historically a remarkable poem, which, through its expression of the author's tastes and preferences, indicated briefly some of the most important touchstones of the sentimentalism (videlicet, "romanticism") of the future. Warton found odious such things as artificial gardens, commercial interests, social and legal conventions, and a formal Addisonian style; he yearned for mountainous wilds, unspoiled savages, solitudes where the voice of Wisdom was heard above the storms, and poetry that was "wildly warbled." His younger brother Thomas, who wrote The Pleasures of Melancholy, and sonnets showing an interest in non-classical antiquities, likewise felt the need of new literary gods to sanction the practices of their school: Pope and Dryden were accordingly dethroned; Spenser, Shakespeare, and the young Milton, all of whom were believed to warble wildly, were invoked.
William Collins was the most gifted of this band of enthusiasts. His general views were theirs: poetry is in his mind associated with wonder and ecstacy; and it finds its true themes, as the Ode on Popular Superstitions shows, in the weird legends, the pathetic mischances, and the blameless manners of a simple-minded folk remote from cities. Unlike his fellows, Collins had moments of great lyric power, and gave posterity a few treasured poems. His further distinction is that he desired really to create that poetical world about which Akenside theorized and for which the Wartons yearned. Unhappily, however, he too often peopled it with allegorical figures who move in a hazy atmosphere; and his melody is then more apparent than his meaning.
The hopeful spirit of these enthusiasts found little encouragement in the poems with which the period closed,—Gray's Ode on Eton and Hymn to Adversity, and Johnson's Vanity of Human Wishes.
Some bold adventurers disdain The limits of their little reign,
wrote Gray, adding with the wisdom of disillusion,
Gay hopes are theirs, by fancy fed, Less pleasing when possessed.
He was speaking of schoolboys whose ignorance is bliss; but the general tenor of his mind allows us to surmise that he also smiled pityingly upon some of the aspirations of the youthful sentimentalists. Dr. Johnson's hostility to them was, of course, outspoken. He laughed uproariously at their ecstatic manner, and ridiculed the cant of sensibility; and in solemn mood he struck in The Vanity of Human Wishes another blow at the heresy of optimism. In style the contrast between these poems and those of the Wartons and Collins is marked. Heirs of the Augustans, Johnson and Gray have perfect control over their respective diction and metres: here are no obscurities or false notes; Johnson sustains with superb dignity the tone of moral grandeur; Gray is ever felicitous. Up to the mid-century then, despite assailants, the classical school held its supremacy; for its literary art was incomparably more skillful than that of its enemies.
III. THE PROGRESS OF SENTIMENTALISM
During the 1750's sentimental poetry did not fulfill the expectations which the outburst of 1744 had seemed to promise. It sank to lower levels, and its productions are noteworthy only as signs of the times and presages of the future. Richard Jago wrote some bald verses intended to foster opposition to hunting, and love for the lower animals,—according to the sentimental view really the "little brothers" of Man. John Dalton's crude Descriptive Poem apostrophized what was regarded as the "savage grandeur" of the Lake country; it is interesting only because it mentions Keswick, Borrowdale, Lodore, and Skiddaw, half a century later to become sacred ground. The practical dilemma of the sentimentalist,—drawn toward solitude by his worship of Nature, and toward society by his love for Man,—was described by Whitehead in The Enthusiast, the humanitarian impulse being finally given the preference. Though the last of these pieces is not contemptible in style, none of these writers had sufficient ardor to compel attention; and if sentimentalism had not been steadily disseminated through other literary forms, especially the novel, it might well have been regarded as a lost cause.
The great poet of this decade was Gray, whose Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, by many held the noblest English lyric, appeared in 1751. His classical ideal of style, according to which poetry should have, in his words, "extreme conciseness of expression," yet be "pure, perspicuous, and musical," was realized both in the Elegy and in the otherwise very different Pindaric Odes. The ethical and religious implications of the Elegy, its piety, its sense of the frailties as well as the merits of mankind, are conservative. Nor is there in the Pindaric Odes any violation of classical principles. Gray never deviates into a pantheistic faith, a belief in human perfection, a conception of poetry as instinctive imagination unrestrained, or any other essential tenet of sentimentalism. Yet the influence of the new spirit upon him may be discerned. It modified his choice of subjects, and slightly colored their interpretation, without causing him to abandon the classical attitude. The Elegy treats with reverence what the Augustans had neglected,—the tragic dignity of obscure lives; The Progress of Poesy emphasizes qualities (emotion and sublimity) which the Essay on Criticism had not stressed; and The Bard presents a wildly picturesque figure of ancient days. Gray felt that classicism might quicken its spirit and widen its interests without surrendering its principles, that a classical poem might be a popular poem; and the admiration of posterity supports his belief.
An astounding and epochal event was the publication (1760 ff.) of the poems attributed to Ossian. Their "editor and translator," James Macpherson, author of a forgotten sentimental epic, alleged that Ossian was a Gaelic poet of the third century A.D., who sang the loves and wars of the heroes of his people, brave warriors fighting the imperial legions of Rome; and that his poems had been orally transmitted until now, fifteen centuries later, they had been taken down from the lips of Scotch peasants. It was a fabrication as ingenious as brazen. As a matter of fact, Macpherson had found only an insignificant portion of his extensive work in popular ballads; and what little he had found he had expanded and changed out of all semblance to genuine ancient legend. Both the guiding motive of his prose-poem (it is his as truly as King Lear is Shakespeare's), and the furore of welcome which greeted it, may be understood by recalling the position of the sentimental school on the eve of its appearance. The sentimentalists were maintaining that civilization had corrupted tastes, morals, and poetry, that it had perverted Man from his instinctive goodness, and that only by a return to communion with Nature could humanity and poetry be redeemed. But all this was based merely on philosophic theory, and could find no confirmation in history or literature: history knew of no innocent savages; and even as unsophisticated literature as Homer was then supposed to be, disclosed no heroes perfect in the sentimental virtues.
Ossian appeared; and the truth of sentimentalism seemed historically established. For here was poetry of the loftiest tone, composed in the unlearned Dark Ages, and answering the highest expectations concerning poetry inspired by Nature only. (Was not a distinguished Professor of Rhetoric saying, "Ossian's poetry, more perhaps than that of any other writer, deserves to be styled the poetry of the heart"?) And here was the record of a nature-people whose conduct stood revealed as flawless. "Fingal," Macpherson himself accommodatingly pointed out, "exercised every manly virtue in Caledonia while Heliogabalus disgraced human nature in Rome." More than fifty years afterwards Byron compared Homer's Hector, greatly to his disadvantage, with Ossian's Fingal: the latter's conduct was, in his admirer's words, "uniformly illustrious and great, without one mean or inhuman action to tarnish the splendor of his fame." The benevolent magnanimity of the heroes, the sweet sensibility of the heroines, their harmony with Nature's moods (traits which Macpherson had supplied from his own imagination), were the very traits that won the enthusiasm of the public. The poem in its turn stimulated the sentimentalism which had produced it; and henceforth the new school contended on even terms with the old.
One of the effects of the progress of sentimentalism was the decline of satire. Peculiarly the weapon of the classical school, it had fallen into unskillful hands: Churchill, though keen and bold, lacked the grace of Pope and the power of Johnson. Goldsmith might have proved a worthier successor; but though his genius for style was large, his capacity for sustained indignation was limited. Even his Retaliation is humorous in spirit rather than satiric. He was a being of conflicting impulses; and in his case at least, the style is not precisely the man. His temperament was emotional and affectionate; by nature he was a sentimentalist. But his inclinations were restrained, partly by the personal influence of Dr. Johnson, partly by his own admiration for the artistic traditions of the classicists. He despised looseness of style, considered blank verse unfinished, and cultivated what seemed to him the more polished elegance of the heroic couplet. The vacillation of his views appears in the difference between the sentiments of The Traveller and those of The Deserted Village. The former is a survey of the nations of Europe, the object being to discover a people wholly admirable. Merit is found in Italians, Swiss, French, Dutch, and English,—but never perfection; even the free and happy Swiss are disgusting in the vulgar sensuality of their pleasures; happiness is nowhere. One is not surprised to learn that Dr. Johnson contributed at least a few lines to a poem with so orthodox a message.
In The Deserted Village, on the other hand, Goldsmith employed the classical graces to point a moral which from the classical point of view was false. His sympathetic feelings had now been captivated by the notion of rural innocence. The traits of character which he attributed to the village inhabitants,—notably to the immortal preacher who, entertaining the vagrants,
Quite forgot their vices in their woe,—
are those exalted in the literature of sentimentalism, as, for example, in his contemporary, Langhorne's Country Justice. The Deserted Village was in point of fact an imaginative idyll,—the supreme idyll of English poetry; but Goldsmith insisted that it was a realistic record of actual conditions. Yet he could never have observed such an English village, either in its depopulated and decayed state (as Macaulay has remarked), or in its rosy prosperity and unsullied virtue; his economic history and theory were misleading. Like Macpherson, but through self-delusion rather than intent, he was engaged in an effort to deceive by giving sentimental doctrines a basis of apparent actuality. But the world has forgotten or forgiven his pious fraud in its gratitude for the loveliness of his art.
IV. THE TRIUMPH OF SENTIMENTALISM (1776-1800)
Goldsmith's application of sentimental ideas to contemporary affairs foreshadowed what was to be one of the marked tendencies of the movement in the last quarter of the century. Thus in 1777 Thomas Day interpreted the American Revolution as a conflict between the pitiless tyranny of a corrupt civilization and the appealing virtues of a people who had found in sequestered forests and prairies the abiding place of Freedom and the only remaining opportunity "to save the ruins of the human name." At the same time the justification of sentimentalism on historical grounds was strengthened by the young antiquarian and poet, Thomas Chatterton. Like Macpherson, he answers to Pope's description of archaizing authors,—
Ancients in words, mere moderns in their sense.
He fabricated, in what he thought to be Middle English, a body of songs and interludes, which he attributed to a monk named Thomas Rowleie, and which showed that, in the supposedly unsophisticated simplicity of medieval times, charity to Man and love for Nature had flourished as beautifully as lyric utterance. Even more lamentable than Chatterton's early death is the fact that his fanciful and musical genius was shrouded in so grotesque a style.
In 1781 appeared a new poet of real distinction, George Crabbe, now the hope of the conservatives. Edmund Burke, who early in his great career had assailed the radicals in his ironic Vindication of Natural Society, and who to the end of his life contended against them in the arena of politics, on reading some of Crabbe's manuscripts, rescued this cultured and ingenuous man from obscurity and distress; and Dr. Johnson presently aided him in his literary labors. In The Library Crabbe expressed the reverence of a scholarly soul for the garnered wisdom of the past, and satirized some of the popular writings of the day, including sentimental fiction. He would not have denied the world those consolations which flow from the literature that mirrors our hopes and dreams; but his honest spirit revolted when such literature professed to be true to life. His acquaintance with actual conditions in humble circles, and with hardships, was as personal as Goldsmith's; but he was not the kind of poet who soothes the miseries of mankind by ignoring them. In The Village he arose with all the vigor and intensity of insulted common sense to refute the dreamers who offered a rose-colored picture of country life as a genuine portrayal of truth and nature. So evident was his mastery of his subject, his clearness of perception, and his earnestness of feeling, that he attracted immediate attention; and he might well have led a new advance under the ancient standards. But silence fell upon Crabbe for many years; and this proved, to be the last occasion in the poetical history of the century that a powerful voice was raised in behalf of the old cause.
The poet who became the favorite of moderate sentimentalists, in what were called "genteel" circles, was William Cowper. He presented little or nothing that could affright the gentle emotions, and much that pleasurably stimulated them. He enriched the poetry of the domestic affections, and had a vein of sadness which occasionally, as in To Mary, deepened into the most touching pathos. In The Task, a discursive familiar essay in smooth-flowing blank verse, he dwelt fondly upon those satisfactions which his life of uneventful retirement offered; intimated that truth and wisdom were less surely found by poring upon books than by meditating among beloved rural scenes; and, turning his sad gaze toward the distant world of action, deplored that mankind strained "the natural bond of brotherhood" by tolerating cruel imprisonments, slavery, and warfare. Such humanitarian views, when they seek the aid of religious ethics, ought normally to find support in that sentimentalized Christianity which professes the entire goodness of the human heart; but the discordant element in Cowper's mind was his inclination towards Calvinism, which goes to the opposite extreme by insisting on total depravity. Personally he believed that he had committed the unpardonable sin (against the Holy Spirit),—a dreadful thought which underlies his tragic poem, The Castaway; and probably unwholesome, though well-intentioned, was the influence upon him of his spiritual adviser, John Newton, whose gloomy theology may be seen in the hymn, The Vision of Life in Death. Cowper's sense of the reality of evil not only distracted his mind to madness, but also prevented him from carrying his sentimental principles to their logical goal. What the hour demanded were poets who, discountenancing any mistrust of the natural emotions, should give them free rein. They were found at last in Burns and in Blake.
The sentimentalists had long yearned for the advent of the ideal poet. Macpherson had presented him,—but as of an era far remote; latterly Beattie, in The Minstrel, had set forth his growth under the inspiration of Nature,—but in a purely imaginary tale. Suddenly Burns appeared: and the ideal seemed incarnated in the living present. The Scottish bard was introduced to the world by his first admirers as "a heaven-taught ploughman, of humble unlettered station," whose "simple strains, artless and unadorned, seem to flow without effort from the native feelings of the heart"; and as "a signal instance of true and uncultivated genius." The real Burns, though indeed a genius of song, was far better read than the expectant world wished to believe, particularly in those whom he called his "bosom favorites," the sentimentalists Mackenzie and Sterne; and his sense of rhythm and melody had been trained by his emulation of earlier Scotch lyricists, whose lilting cadences flow towards him as highland rills to the gathering torrent. Sung to the notes of his native tunes, and infused with the local color of Scotch life, the sentimental themes assumed the freshness of novelty. Giving a new ardor to revolutionary tendencies,—Burns revolted against the orthodoxy of the "Auld Lichts," depicting its representatives as ludicrously hypocritical. He protested against distinctions founded on birth or rank, as in A Man's a Man for A' That; and, on the other hand, he idealized the homely feelings and manners of the "virtuous populace" in his immortal Cotter's Saturday Night. He scorned academic learning, and protested that true inspiration was rather to be found in "ae spark o' Nature's fire,"—or at the nearest tavern:
Leese me on drink! It gies us mair Than either school or college.
Like Sterne, who boasted that his pen governed him, Burns praised and affected the impromptu:
But how the subject theme may gang, Let time or chance determine; Perhaps it may turn out a sang, Perhaps turn out a sermon.
His Muse was to be the mood of the moment. Herein he brought to fulfillment the sentimental desire for the liberation of the emotions; but his work, taken as a whole, can scarcely be said to vindicate the faith that the emotions, once freed, would manifest instinctive purity. At his almost unrivalled best, he can sing in the sweetest strains the raptures or pathos of innocent youthful love, as in Sweet Afton or To Mary in Heaven; but straightway sinking from that elevation of feeling to the depths of vulgarity or grossness, he will chant with equal zest and skill the indulgence of the animal appetites. He hails the joys of life, but without discriminating between the higher and the lower. Yet these exuberant animal spirits which, unrestrained by conscience or taste, drove him too often into scurrility, gave his work that passion—warm, throbbing, and personal—which had been painfully wanting in earlier poets of sensibility. It was his emotional intensity as well as his lyric genius that made him the most popular poet of his time.
In Burns, sentimentalism was largely temperamental, unreflective, and concrete. In William Blake, the singularity of whose work long retarded its due appreciation, sentimentalism was likewise temperamental; but, unconfined to actuality, became far broader in scope, more spiritual, and more consistently philosophic. Indeed, Blake was the ultimate sentimentalist of the century. A visionary and symbolist, he passed beyond Shaftesbury in his thought, and beyond any poet of the school in his endeavor to create a new and appropriate style. His contemporary, Erasmus Darwin, author of The Botanic Garden, was trying to give sentimentalism a novel interpretation by describing the life of plants in terms of human life; but, Darwin being destitute of artistic sense, the result was grotesque. Blake, by training and vocation an engraver, was primarily an artist; but, partly under Swedenborgian influences, he had grasped the innermost character of sentimentalism, perceived all its implications, and carried them fearlessly to their utmost bounds. To him every atom of the cosmos was literally spiritual and holy; the divine and the human, the soul and the flesh, were absolutely one; God and Man were only two aspects of pervasive "mercy, pity, peace, and love." Nothing else had genuine reality. The child, its vision being as yet unclouded by false teachings, saw the universe thus truly; and Blake, therefore, in Songs of Innocence, gave glimpses of the world as the child sees it,—a guileless existence amid the peace that passes all understanding. He hymned the sanctity of animal life: even the tiger, conventionally an incarnation of cruelty, was a glorious creature of divine mould; to slay or cage a beast was, the Auguries of Innocence protested, to incur anathema. The Book of Thel allegorically showed the mutual interdependence of all creation, and reprehended the maiden shyness that shrinks from merging its life in the sacrificial union which sustains the whole.
To Blake the great enemy of truth was the cold logical reason, a truncated part of Man's spirit, which was incapable of attaining wisdom, and which had fabricated those false notions that governed the practical world and constrained the natural feelings. Instances of the unhappiness caused by such constraint, he gave in Songs of Experience, where The Garden of Love describes the blighting curse which church law had laid upon free love. To overthrow intellectualism and discipline, Man must liberate his most precious faculty, the imagination, which alone can reveal the spiritual character of the universe and the beauty that life will wear when the feelings cease to be unnaturally confined. Temporarily Blake rejoiced when the French Revolution seemed to usher in the millennium of freedom and peace; and his interpretation of its earlier incidents in his poem on that theme illustrates in style and spirit the highly original nature of his mind. More than any predecessor he understood how the peculiarly poetical possibilities of sentimentalism might be elicited, namely by emphasizing its mystical quality. Thus under his guidance mysticism, which in the early seventeenth century had sublimated the religious poetry of the orthodox, returned to sublimate the poetry of the radicals; and with that achievement the sentimental movement reached its climax.
Burns died in 1796; Blake, lost in a realm of symbolism, became unintelligible; and temporarily sentimentalism suffered a reaction. The French Revolution, with its Reign of Terror, and the rise of a military autocrat, though supported, even after Great Britain had taken up arms against Napoleon, by some "friends of humanity" who placed universal brotherhood above patriotism, seemed to the general public to demonstrate that the sentimental theories and hopes were untrue to life and led to results directly contrary to those predicted. Once again, in Canning's caustic satires of The Anti-Jacobin, conservatism raised its voice. But by this time sentimentalism was too fully developed and widely spread to be more than checked. Under the new leadership of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey, the movement, chastened and modified by experience, resumed its progress; and the fame of its new leaders presently dimmed the memory of those pioneers who in the eighteenth century had undermined the foundations of orthodoxy, slowly upbuilt a new world of thought, gradually fashioned a poetic style more suited to their sentiments than the classical, and thus helped to plunge the modern world into that struggle which, in life and in literature, rages about us still.
[Footnote 1: In this edition, the poems of Burns, unlike those of the other poets, are printed not in the order of their publication but as nearly as ascertainable in that of their composition.]
[Footnote 2: The French Revolution was suppressed at the time, and has been recovered only in our own day by Dr. John Sampson, who first published it in the admirable Clarendon Press edition of Blake.]
ENGLISH POETS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
If Heaven the grateful liberty would give, That I might choose my method how to live; And all those hours propitious fate should lend, In blissful ease and satisfaction spend.
I. THE GENTLEMAN'S RETIREMENT
Near some fair town I'd have a private seat, Built uniform, not little, nor too great: Better, if on a rising ground it stood; Fields on this side, on that a neighbouring wood. It should within no other things contain, But what are useful, necessary, plain: Methinks 'tis nauseous, and I'd ne'er endure, The needless pomp of gaudy furniture. A little garden, grateful to the eye; And a cool rivulet run murmuring by, On whose delicious banks a stately row Of shady limes, or sycamores, should grow. At th' end of which a silent study placed, Should with the noblest authors there be graced: Horace and Virgil, in whose mighty lines Immortal wit, and solid learning, shines; Sharp Juvenal and amorous Ovid too, Who all the turns of love's soft passion knew: He that with judgment reads the charming lines, In which strong art with stronger nature joins, Must grant his fancy does the best excel; His thoughts so tender, and expressed so well: With all those moderns, men of steady sense, Esteemed for learning, and for eloquence. In some of these, as fancy should advise, I'd always take my morning exercise: For sure no minutes bring us more content, Than those in pleasing useful studies spent.
II. HIS FORTUNE AND CHARITY
I'd have a clear and competent estate, That I might live genteelly, but not great: As much as I could moderately spend; A little more, sometimes t' oblige a friend. Nor should the sons of poverty repine At fortune's frown, for they should taste of mine; And all that objects of true pity were, Should be relieved with what my wants could spare; For what our Maker has too largely given, Should be returned in gratitude to Heaven. A frugal plenty should my table spread. With healthy, not luxurious, dishes fed; Enough to satisfy, and something more, To feed the stranger, and the neighb'ring poor. Strong meat indulges vice, and pampering food Creates diseases, and inflames the blood. But what's sufficient to make nature strong, And the bright lamp of life continue long, I'd freely take, and as I did possess, The bounteous Author of my plenty bless.
III. HIS HOSPITALITY AND TEMPERANCE
I'd have a little cellar, cool and neat, With humming ale and virgin wine replete. Wine whets the wit, improves its native force, And gives a pleasant flavour to discourse; By making all our spirits debonair, Throws off the lees and sediment of care. But as the greatest blessing Heaven lends May be debauched, and serve ignoble ends; So, but too oft, the grape's refreshing juice Does many mischievous effects produce. My house should no such rude disorders know, As from high drinking consequently flow; Nor would I use what was so kindly given, To the dishonour of indulgent Heaven. If any neighbour came, he should be free, Used with respect, and not uneasy be, In my retreat, or to himself or me. What freedom, prudence, and right reason give, All men may, with impunity, receive: But the least swerving from their rules too much, And what's forbidden us, 'tis death to touch.
IV. HIS COMPANY
That life may be more comfortable yet, And all my joys refined, sincere, and great; I'd choose two friends, whose company would be A great advance to my felicity: Well-born, of humours suited to my own, Discreet, that men as well as books have known; Brave, generous, witty, and exactly free From loose behaviour or formality; Airy and prudent, merry but not light; Quick in discerning; and in judging, right; They should be secret, faithful to their trust, In reasoning cool, strong, temperate, and just; Obliging, open, without huffing, brave; Brisk in gay talking, and in sober, grave; Close in dispute, but not tenacious; tried By solemn reason, and let that decide; Not prone to lust, revenge, or envious hate; Nor busy meddlers with intrigues of state; Strangers to slander, and sworn foes to spite, Not quarrelsome, but stout enough to fight; Loyal and pious, friends to Caesar; true As dying martyrs to their Makers too. In their society I could not miss A permanent, sincere, substantial bliss.
V. HIS LADY AND CONVERSE
Would bounteous Heaven once more indulge, I'd choose (For who would so much satisfaction lose As witty nymphs in conversation give?) Near some obliging modest fair to live: For there's that sweetness in a female mind, Which in a man's we cannot [hope to] find; That, by a secret but a powerful art, Winds up the spring of life, and does impart Fresh, vital heat to the transported heart.
I'd have her reason all her passions sway; Easy in company, in private gay; Coy to a fop, to the deserving free; Still constant to herself, and just to me. She should a soul have for great actions fit; Prudence and wisdom to direct her wit; Courage to look bold danger in the face, Not fear, but only to be proud or base; Quick to advise, by an emergence pressed, To give good counsel, or to take the best.
I'd have th' expressions of her thoughts be such, She might not seem reserved, nor talk too much: That shows a want of judgment and of sense; More than enough is but impertinence. Her conduct regular, her mirth refined; Civil to strangers, to her neighbours kind; Averse to vanity, revenge, and pride; In all the methods of deceit untried; So faithful to her friend, and good to all, No censure might upon her actions fall: Then would e'en envy be compelled to say She goes the least of womankind astray.
To this fair creature I'd sometimes retire; Her conversation would new joys inspire; Give life an edge so keen, no surly care Would venture to assault my soul, or dare Near my retreat to hide one secret snare. But so divine, so noble a repast I'd seldom, and with moderation, taste: For highest cordials all their virtue lose, By a too frequent and too bold an use; And what would cheer the spirits in distress, Ruins our health when taken to excess.
VI. HIS PEACEABLE LIFE
I'd be concerned in no litigious jar; Beloved by all, not vainly popular. Whate'er assistance I had power to bring T' oblige my company, or to serve my king, Whene'er they called, I'd readily afford, My tongue, my pen, my counsel, or my sword. Lawsuits I'd shun, with as much studious care, As I would dens where hungry lions are; And rather put up injuries, than be A plague to him who'd be a plague to me. I value quiet at a price too great To give for my revenge so dear a rate: For what do we by all our bustle gain, But counterfeit delight for real pain?
VII. HIS HAPPY DEATH
If Heaven a date of many years would give, Thus I'd in pleasure, ease, and plenty live. And as I near approach[ed] the verge of life, Some kind relation (for I'd have no wife) Should take upon him all my worldly care While I did for a better state prepare. Then I'd not be with any trouble vexed, Nor have the evening of my days perplexed; But by a silent and a peaceful death, Without a sigh, resign my aged breath. And, when committed to the dust, I'd have Few tears, but friendly, dropped into my grave; Then would my exit so propitious be, All men would wish to live and die like me.
FROM THE TRUE-BORN ENGLISHMAN
The Romans first with Julius Caesar came, Including all the nations of that name, Gauls, Greeks, and Lombards, and, by computation, Auxiliaries or slaves of every nation. With Hengist, Saxons; Danes with Sueno came; In search of plunder, not in search of fame. Scots, Picts, and Irish from th' Hibernian shore, And conquering William brought the Normans o'er. All these their barbarous offspring left behind, The dregs of armies, they of all mankind; Blended with Britons, who before, were here. Of whom the Welsh ha' blessed the character. From this amphibious ill-born mob began That vain, ill-natured thing, an Englishman.
* * * * *
And lest by length of time it be pretended The climate may this modern breed ha' mended, Wise Providence, to keep us where we are, Mixes us daily with exceeding care. We have been Europe's sink, the Jakes where she Voids all her offal outcast progeny. From our fifth Henry's time, the strolling bands Of banished fugitives from neighbouring lands Have here a certain sanctuary found: Th' eternal refuge of the vagabond, Where, in but half a common age of time, Borrowing new blood and mariners from the clime, Proudly they learn all mankind to contemn; And all their race are true-born Englishmen. Dutch, Walloons, Flemings, Irishmen, and Scots, Vaudois, and Valtelins, and Huguenots, In good Queen Bess's charitable reign, Supplied us with three hundred thousand men. Religion—God, we thank thee!—sent them hither, Priests, Protestants, the Devil and all together:
Of all professions and of every trade, All that were persecuted or afraid; Whether for debt or other crimes they fled, David at Hachilah was still their head. The offspring of this miscellaneous crowd, Had not their new plantations long enjoyed, But they grew Englishmen, and raised their votes At foreign shoals for interloping Scots. The royal branch from Pictland did succeed, With troops of Scots and Scabs from North-by-Tweed. The seven first years of his pacific reign Made him and half his nation Englishmen. Scots from the northern frozen banks of Tay, With packs and plods came whigging all away; Thick as the locusts which in Egypt swarmed, With pride and hungry hopes completely armed; With native truth, diseases, and no money, Plundered our Canaan of the milk and honey. Here they grew quickly lords and gentlemen,— And all their race are true-born Englishmen.
* * * * *
The wonder which remains is at our pride, To value that which all wise men deride. For Englishmen to boast of generation Cancels their knowledge, and lampoons the nation. A true-born Englishman's a contradiction, In speech an irony, in fact a fiction; A banter made to be a test of fools, Which those that use it justly ridicules; A metaphor invented to express A man akin to all the universe.
FROM A HYMN TO THE PILLORY
Hail hieroglyphic state-machine, Contrived to punish fancy in! Men that are men in thee can feel no pain, And all thy insignificants disdain. Contempt, that false new word for shame, Is, without crime, an empty name, A shadow to amuse mankind, But never frights the wise or well-fixed mind: Virtue despises human scorn, And scandals innocence adorn.
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Sometimes, the air of scandal to maintain, Villains look from thy lofty loops in vain; But who can judge of crimes by punishment Where parties rule and L[ord]s subservient? Justice with, change of interest learns to bow, And what was merit once is murder now: Actions receive their tincture from the times, And as they change, are virtues made or crimes. Thou art the state-trap of the law, But neither can keep knaves nor honest men in awe; These are too hardened in offence, And those upheld by innocence.
* * * * *
Thou art no shame to truth and honesty, Nor is the character of such defaced by thee Who suffer by oppressive injury. Shame, like the exhalations of the sun, Falls back where first the motion was begun; And he who for no crime shall on thy brows appear Bears less reproach than they who placed him there.
But if contempt is on thy face entailed, Disgrace itself shall be ashamed; Scandal shall blush that it has not prevailed To blast the man it has defamed. Let all that merit equal punishment Stand there with him, and we are all content.
* * * * *
Thou bugbear of the law, stand up and speak, Thy long misconstrued silence break; Tell us who 'tis upon thy ridge stands there, So full of fault and yet so void of fear; And from the paper in his hat, Let all mankind be told for what. Tell them it was because he was too bold, And told those truths which should not ha' been told,
Extol the justice of the land, Who punish what they will not understand. Tell them he stands exalted there For speaking what we would not hear; And yet he might have been secure Had he said less or would he ha' said more. Tell them that this is his reward And worse is yet for him prepared, Because his foolish virtue was so nice As not to sell his friends, according to his friends' advice.
And thus he's an example made, To make men of their honesty afraid, That for the time to come they may More willingly their friends betray; Tell them the m[en] who placed him here Are sc[anda]ls to the times; But at a loss to find his guilt, They can't commit his crimes.
FROM THE CAMPAIGN
Behold in awful march and dread array The long-extended squadrons shape their way! Death, in approaching terrible, imparts An anxious horror to the bravest hearts; Yet do their beating breasts demand the strife, And thirst of glory quells the love of life. No vulgar fears can British minds control: Heat of revenge and noble pride of soul O'er look the foe, advantaged by his post, Lessen his numbers, and contract his host; Though fens and floods possessed the middle space, That unprovoked they would have feared to pass, Nor fens nor floods can stop Britannia's bands When her proud foe ranged on their borders stands.
But, O my Muse, what numbers wilt thou find To sing the furious troops in battle joined! Methinks I hear the drum's tumultuous sound The victor's shouts and dying groans confound, The dreadful burst of cannon rend the skies, And all the thunder of the battle rise! 'Twas then great Malborough's mighty soul was proved, That, in the shock of charging hosts unmoved, Amidst confusion, horror, and despair, Examined all the dreadful scenes of death surveyed, To fainting squadrons sent the timely aid, Inspired repulsed battalions to engage, And taught the doubtful battle where to rage. So when an angel by divine command With rising tempests shakes a guilty land, Such as of late o'er pale Britannia passed, Calm and serene he drives the furious blast, And, pleases th' Almighty's orders to perform, Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.
The spacious firmament on high, With all the blue ethereal sky, And spangled heavens, a shining frame, Their great Original proclaim. Th' unwearied sun from day to day Does his Creator's power display; And publishes to every land The work of an almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail, The moon takes up the wondrous tale; And nightly to the listening earth Repeats the story of her birth: Whilst all the stars that round her burn, And all the planets in their turn, Confirm the tidings as they roll, And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence all Move round the dark terrestrial ball; What though nor real voice nor sound Amidst their radiant orbs be found? In reason's ear they all rejoice, And utter forth a glorious voice: Forever singing as they shine, 'The hand that made us is divine.'
TO A CHILD OF QUALITY FIVE YEARS OLD THE AUTHOR FORTY
Lords, knights, and squires, the numerous band That wear the fair Miss Mary's fetters, Were summoned, by her high command, To show their passions by their letters.
My pen amongst the rest I took, Lest those bright eyes that cannot read Should dart their kindling fires, and look The power they have to be obeyed.
Nor quality nor reputation Forbid me yet my flame to tell; Dear five years old befriends my passion, And I may write till she can spell.
For while she makes her silk-worms beds With all the tender things I swear, Whilst all the house my passion reads In papers round her baby's hair,
She may receive and own my flame; For though the strictest prudes should know it, She'll pass for a most virtuous dame, And I for an unhappy poet.
Then, too, alas! when she shall tear The lines some younger rival sends, She'll give me leave to write, I fear, And we shall still continue friends;
For, as our different ages move, 'Tis so ordained (would fate but mend it!) That I shall be past making love When she begins to comprehend it.
TO A LADY
SHE REFUSING TO CONTINUE A DISPUTE WITH ME, AND LEAVING ME IN THE ARGUMENT
Spare, generous victor, spare the slave Who did unequal war pursue, That more than triumph he might have In being overcome by you.
In the dispute whate'er I said, My heart was by my tongue belied, And in my looks you might have read How much I argued on your side.
You, far from danger as from fear, Might have sustained an open fight: For seldom your opinions err; Your eyes are always in the right.
Why, fair one, would you not rely On reason's force with beauty's joined? Could I their prevalence deny, I must at once be deaf and blind.
Alas! not hoping to subdue, I only to the fight aspired; To keep the beauteous foe in view Was all the glory I desired.
But she, howe'er of victory sure, Contemns the wreath too long delayed, And, armed with more immediate power, Calls cruel silence to her aid.
Deeper to wound, she shuns the fight: She drops her arms, to gain the field; Secures her conquest by her flight, And triumphs when she seems to yield.
So when the Parthian turned his steed And from the hostile camp withdrew, With cruel skill the backward reed He sent, and as he fled he slew.
[THE DYING HADRIAN TO HIS SOUL]
Poor, little, pretty, fluttering thing, Must we no longer live together? And dost thou prune thy trembling wing, To take thy flight, thou know'st not whither? Thy humorous vein, thy pleasing folly, Lies all neglected, all forgot: And pensive, wavering, melancholy, Thou dread'st and hop'st, thou know'st not what.
A BETTER ANSWER
Dear Chloe, how blubbered is that pretty face! Thy cheek all on fire, and thy hair all uncurled! Prithee quit this caprice, and (as old Falstaff says) Let us e'en talk a little like folks of this world.
How canst thou presume thou hast leave to destroy The beauties which Venus but lent to thy keeping? Those looks were designed to inspire love and joy; More ordinary eyes may serve people for weeping.
To be vexed at a trifle or two that I writ, Your judgment at once and my passion you wrong; You take that for fact which will scarce be found wit: Od's life! must one swear to the truth of a song?
What I speak, my fair Chloe, and what I write, shows The difference there is betwixt nature and art: I court others in verse, but I love thee in prose; And they have my whimsies, but thou hast my heart.
The god of us verse-men (you know, child), the sun, How after his journeys he sets up his rest; If at morning o'er earth 'tis his fancy to run, At night he reclines on his Thetis's breast.
So when I am wearied with wandering all day, To thee, my delight, in the evening I come: No matter what beauties I saw in my way; They were but my visits, but thou art my home.
Then finish, dear Chloe, this pastoral war, And let us like Horace and Lydia agree; For thou art a girl as much brighter than her As he was a poet sublimer than me.
BERNARD DE MANDEVILLE
FROM THE GRUMBLING HIVE; OR, KNAVES TURNED HONEST
A spacious hive, well stocked with bees, That lived in luxury and ease; And yet as famed for laws and arms, As yielding large and early swarms; Was counted the great nursery Of sciences and industry.
* * * * *
Vast numbers thronged the fruitful hive; Yet those vast numbers made 'em thrive; Millions endeavouring to supply Each others lust and vanity, While other millions were employed To see their handiworks destroyed; They furnished half the universe, Yet had more work than labourers. Some with vast stocks, and little pains, Jumped into business of great gains; And some were damned to scythes and spades, And all those hard laborious trades Where willing wretches daily sweat And wear out strength and limbs, to eat; While others followed mysteries To which few folks, bind prentices, That want no stock but that of brass, And may set up without a cross,— As sharpers, parasites, pimps, players, Pickpockets, coiners, quacks, soothsayers, And all those that in enmity With downright working, cunningly Convert to their own use the labour Of their good-natured heedless neighbour. These were called knaves; but bar the name, The grave industrious were the same: All trades and places knew some cheat, No calling was without deceit.
* * * * *
Thus every part was full of vice, Yet the whole mass a paradise: Flattered in peace, and feared in wars, They were th' esteem of foreigners, And lavish of their wealth and lives, The balance of all other hives. Such were the blessings of that state; Their crimes conspired to make them great.
* * * * *
The root of evil, avarice, That damned, ill-natured, baneful vice, Was slave to prodigality, That noble sin; whilst luxury Employed a million of the poor, And odious pride a million more; Envy itself, and vanity, Were ministers of industry; Their darling folly—fickleness In diet, furniture, and dress— That strange, ridiculous vice, was made The very wheel that turned the trade. Their laws and clothes were equally Objects of mutability; For what was well done for a time, In half a year became a crime.
* * * * *
How vain, is mortal happiness! Had they but known the bounds of bliss, And that perfection here below Is more than gods can well bestow, The grumbling brutes had been content With ministers and government. But they, at every ill success, Like creatures lost without redress, Cursed politicians, armies, fleets; While every one cried, 'Damn the cheats!' And would, though conscious of his own, In others barbarously bear none. One that had got a princely store By cheating master, king, and poor, Dared cry aloud, 'The land must sink For all its fraud'; and whom d'ye think The sermonizing rascal chid? A glover that sold lamb for kid! The least thing was not done amiss, Or crossed the public business, But all the rogues cried brazenly, 'Good Gods, had we but honesty!' Mercury smiled at th' impudence, And others called it want of sense, Always to rail at what they loved: But Jove, with indignation moved, At last in anger swore he'd rid The bawling hive of fraud; and did. The very moment it departs, And honesty fills all their hearts, There shews 'em, like th' instructive tree, Those crimes which they're ashamed to see, Which now in silence they confess By blushing at their ugliness; Like children that would hide their faults And by their colour own their thoughts, Imagining when they're looked upon, That others see what they have done. But, O ye Gods! what consternation! How vast and sudden was th' alternation! In half an hour, the nation round, Meat fell a penny in the pound.
* * * * *
Now mind the glorious hive, and see How honesty and trade agree. The show is gone; it thins apace, And looks with quite another face. For 'twas not only that they went By whom vast sums were yearly spent; But multitudes that lived on them, Were daily forced to do the same. In vain to other trades they'd fly; All were o'erstocked accordingly.
* * * * *
As pride and luxury decrease, So by degrees they leave the seas. Not merchants now, but companies, Remove whole manufactories. All arts and crafts neglected lie: Content, the bane of industry, Makes 'em admire their homely store, And neither seek nor covet more. So few in the vast hive remain, The hundredth part they can't maintain Against th' insults of numerous foes, Whom yet they valiantly oppose, Till some well-fenced retreat is found, And here they die or stand their ground. No hireling in their army's known; But bravely fighting for their own Their courage and integrity At last were crowned with victory. They triumphed not without their cost, For many thousand bees were lost. Hardened with toil and exercise, They counted ease itself a vice; Which so improved their temperance That, to avoid extravagance, They flew into a hollow tree, Blessed with content and honesty.
Then leave complaints: fools only strive To make a great an honest hive. T' enjoy the world's conveniences, Be famed in war, yet live in ease, Without great vices, is a vain Utopia seated in the brain.
* * * * *
THE HAZARD OF LOVING THE CREATURES
Where'er my flattering passions rove, I find a lurking snare; 'Tis dangerous to let loose our love Beneath th' eternal fair.
Souls whom the tie of friendship binds, And things that share our blood, Seize a large portion of our minds, And leave the less for God.
Nature has soft but powerful bands, And reason she controls; While children with their little hands Hang closest to our souls.
Thoughtless they act th' old Serpent's part; What tempting things they be! Lord, how they twine about our heart, And draw it off from Thee!
Our hasty wills rush blindly on Where rising passion rolls, And thus we make our fetters strong To bind our slavish souls.
Dear Sovereign, break these fetters off. And set our spirits free; God in Himself is bliss enough; For we have all in Thee.
THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
When the fierce north-wind with his airy forces, Bears up the Baltic to a foaming fury; And the red lightning with a storm of hail comes Rushing amain down;
How the poor sailors stand amazed and tremble, While the hoarse thunder, like a bloody trumpet, Roars a loud onset to the gaping waters, Quick to devour them.
Such shall the noise be, and the wild disorder (If things eternal may be like these earthly), Such the dire terror when the great Archangel Shakes the creation;
Tears the strong pillars of the vault of heaven, Breaks up old marble, the repose of princes. See the graves open, and the bones arising, Flames all around them!
Hark, the shrill outcries of the guilty wretches! Lively bright horror and amazing anguish Stare through their eyelids, while the living worm lies Gnawing within them.
Thoughts like old vultures, prey upon their heart-strings, And the smart twinges, when the eye beholds the Lofty Judge frowning, and a flood of vengeance Rolling afore Him. Hopeless immortals! how they scream and shiver, While devils push them to the pit wide-yawning Hideous and gloomy, to receive them headlong Down to the centre!