E-text prepared by Roy Brown
POEMS BY SAMUEL ROGERS.
PRINTED FOR T. CADELL AND W. DAVIES, IN THE STRAND, BY T. BENSLEY, BOLT COURT, FLEET, STREET.
Oh could my Mind, unfolded in my page, Enlighten climes and mould a future age; There as it glow'd, with noblest frenzy fraught, Dispense the treasures of exalted thought; To Virtue wake the pulses of the heart, And bid the tear of emulation start! Oh could it still, thro' each succeeding year, My life, my manners, and my name endear; And, when the poet sleeps in silent dust, Still hold communion with the wise and just!— Yet should this Verse, my leisure's best resource, When thro' the world it steals its secret course, Revive but once a generous wish supprest, Chase but a sigh, or charm a care to rest; In one good deed a fleeting hour employ, Or flush one faded cheek with honest joy; Blest were my lines, tho' limited their sphere, Tho' short their date, as his who trac'd them here.
The Pleasures of Memory Epistle to a Friend Ode to Superstition Written to be spoken in a Theatre To—— The Sailor To an old Oak From Euripides To Two Sisters Written at Midnight On a Tear To a Voice that had been lost From a Greek Epigram. To the Torso To——- Written in a Sick Chamber To a Friend on his Marriage The Alps at Day-break Imitation of an Italian Sonnet On——asleep. To the youngest Daughter of Lady ** Epitaph on a Robin Red-breast A Wish An Italian Song To the Gnat An Inscription in the Crimea Captivity A Character Written in the Highlands of Scotland A Farewell To the Butterfly Written in Westminster Abbey The Voyage of Columbus
THE PLEASURES OF MEMORY
IN TWO PARTS
Hoc est Vivere bis, vita posse priore frui. MART.
THE PLEASURES OF MEMORY PART I
Dolce sentier....... Colle, che mi piacesti,.... Ov' ancor per usanza Amor mi mena; Ben riconosco in voi l'usate forme, Non, lasso, in me. PETRARCH
ANALYSIS OF THE FIRST PART.
THE Poem begins with the description of an obscure village, and of the pleasing melancholy which it excites on being revisited after a long absence. This mixed sensation is an effect of the Memory. From an effect we naturally ascend to the cause; and the subject proposed is then unfolded with an investigation of the nature and leading principles of this faculty.
It is evident that our ideas flow in continual succession, and introduce each other with a certain degree of regularity.
They are sometimes excited by sensible objects, and sometimes by an internal operation of the mind. Of the former species is most probably the memory of brutes; and its many sources of pleasure to them, as well as to us, are considered in the first part. The latter is the most perfect degree of memory, and forms the subject of the second.
When ideas have any relation whatever, they are attractive of each other in the mind; and the perception of any object naturally leads to the idea of another, which was connected with it either in time or place, or which can be compared or contrasted with it. Hence arises our attachment to inanimate objects; hence also, in some degree, the love of our country, and the emotion with which we contemplate the celebrated scenes of antiquity. Hence a picture directs our thoughts to the original: and, as cold and darkness suggest forcibly the ideas of heat and light, he, who feels the infirmities of age, dwells most on whatever reminds him of the vigour and vivacity of his youth.
The associating principle, as here employed, is no less conducive to virtue than to happiness; and, as such, it frequently discovers itself in the most tumultuous scenes of life. It addresses our finer feelings, and gives exercise to every mild and generous propensity.
Not confined to man, it extends through all animated nature; and its effects are peculiarly striking in the domestic tribes.
Twilight's soft dews steal o'er the village-green, With magic tints to harmonize the scene. Still'd is the hum that thro' the hamlet broke, When round the ruins of their antient oak The peasants flock'd to hear the minstrel play, And games and carols clos'd the busy day. Her wheel at rest, the matron thrills no more With treasur'd tales, and legendary lore. All, all are fled; nor mirth nor music flows To chase the dreams of innocent repose. All, all are fled; yet still I linger here! What secret charms this silent spot endear? Mark yon old Mansion frowning thro' the trees. Whose hollow turret wooes the whistling breeze. That casement, arch'd with ivy's brownest shade, First to these eyes the light of heav'n convey'd. The mouldering gateway strews the grass-grown court, Once the calm scene of many a simple sport; When nature pleas'd, for life itself was new, And the heart promis'd what the fancy drew. See, thro' the fractur'd pediment reveal'd, Where moss inlays the rudely-sculptur'd shield, The martin's old, hereditary nest. Long may the ruin spare its hallow'd guest! As jars the hinge, what sullen echoes call! Oh haste, unfold the hospitable hall! That hall, where once, in antiquated state, The chair of justice held the grave debate. Now stain'd with dews, with cobwebs darkly hung, Oft has its roof with peals of rapture rung; When round yon ample board, in due degree, We sweeten'd every meal with social glee. The heart's light laugh pursued the circling jest; And all was sunshine in each little breast. 'Twas here we chas'd the slipper by the sound; And turn'd the blindfold hero round and round. 'Twas here, at eve, we form'd our fairy ring; And Fancy flutter'd on her wildest wing. Giants and genii chain'd each wondering ear; And orphan-sorrows drew the ready tear. Oft with the babes we wander'd in the wood, Or view'd the forest-feats of Robin Hood: Oft, fancy-led, at midnight's fearful hour, With startling step we seal'd the lonely tower: O'er infant innocence to hang and weep, Murder'd by ruffian hands, when smiling in its sleep. Ye Household Deities! whose guardian eye Mark'd each pure thought, ere register'd on high; Still, still ye walk the consecrated ground, And breathe the soul of Inspiration round. As o'er the dusky furniture I bend, Each chair awakes the feelings of a friend. The storied arras, source of fond delight, With old achievement charms the wilder'd sight; And still, with Heraldry's rich hues imprest, On the dim window glows the pictur'd crest. The screen unfolds its many-colour'd chart. The clock still points its moral to the heart. That faithful monitor 'twas heav'n to hear! When soft it spoke a promis'd pleasure near: And has its sober hand, its simple chime, Forgot to trace the feather'd feet of Time? That massive beam, with curious carvings wrought, Whence the caged linnet sooth'd my pensive thought; Those muskets, cas'd with venerable rust; Those once-lov'd forms, still breathing thro' their dust, Still from the frame, in mould gigantic cast, Starting to life—all whisper of the past! As thro' the garden's desert paths I rove, What fond illusions swarm in every grove! How oft, when purple evening ting'd the west, We watch'd the emmet to her grainy nest; Welcom'd the wild-bee home on weary wing, Laden with sweets, the choicest of the spring! How oft inscrib'd, with 'Friendship's votive rhyme, The bark now silver'd by the touch of Time; Soar'd in the swing, half pleas'd and half afraid, Thro' sister elms that wav'd their summer-shade; Or strew'd with crumbs yon root-inwoven seat, To lure the redbreast from his lone retreat! Childhood's lov'd group revisits every scene; The tangled wood-walk, and the tufted green! Indulgent MEMORY wakes, and lo, they live! Cloth'd with far softer hues than Light can give. Thou first, best friend that Heav'n assigns below, To sooth and sweeten all the cares we know; Whose glad suggestions still each vain alarm, When nature fades, and life forgets to charm; Thee would the Muse invoke!—to thee belong The sage's precept, and the poet's song. What soften'd views thy magic glass reveals, When o'er the landscape Time's meek twilight steals! As when in ocean sinks the orb of day, Long on the wave reflected lustres play; Thy temper'd gleams of happiness resign'd Glance on the darken'd mirror of the mind. The School's lone porch, with reverend mosses gray, Just tells the pensive pilgrim where it lay. Mute is the bell that rung at peep of dawn, Quickening my truant-feet across the lawn: Unheard the shout that rent the noontide air, When the slow dial gave a pause to care. Up springs, at every step, to claim a tear, [a] Some little friendship form'd and cherish'd here! And not the lightest leaf, but trembling teems With golden visions, and romantic dreams! Down by yon hazel copse, at evening, blaz'd The Gipsy's faggot—there we stood and gaz'd; Gaz'd on her sun-burnt face with silent awe, Her tatter'd mantle, and her hood of straw; Her moving lips, her caldron brimming o'er; The drowsy brood that on her back she bore, Imps, in the barn with mousing owlet bred, From rifled roost at nightly revel fed; Whose dark eyes flash'd thro' locks of blackest shade, When in the breeze the distant watch-dog bay'd:— And heroes fled the Sibyl's mutter'd call, Whose elfin prowess scal'd the orchard-wall. As o'er my palm the silver piece she drew, And trac'd the line of life with searching view, How throbb'd my fluttering pulse with hopes and fears, To learn the colour of my future years! Ah, then, what honest triumph flush'd my breast! This truth once known—To bless is to be blest! We led the bending beggar on his way, (Bare were his feet, his tresses silver-gray) Sooth'd the keen pangs his aged spirit felt, And on his tale with mute attention dwelt. As in his scrip we dropt our little store, And wept to think that little was no more, He breath'd his prayer, "Long may such goodness live!" 'Twas all he gave, 'twas all he had to give. Angels, when Mercy's mandate wing'd their flight, Had stopt to catch new rapture from the sight. But hark! thro' those old firs, with sullen swell The church-clock strikes! ye tender scenes, farewell! It calls me hence, beneath their shade, to trace The few fond lines that Time may soon efface. On yon gray stone, that fronts the chancel-door. Worn smooth by busy feet now seen no more, Each eve we shot the marble thro' the ring, When the heart danc'd, and life was in its spring; Alas! unconscious of the kindred earth, That faintly echoed to the voice of mirth. The glow-worm loves her emerald light to shed, Where now the sexton rests his hoary head. Oft, as he turn'd the greensward with his spade, He lectur'd every youth that round him play'd; And, calmly pointing where his fathers lay, Rous'd him to rival each, the hero of his day. Hush, ye fond flutterings, hush! while here alone I search the records of each mouldering stone. Guides of my life! Instructors of my youth! Who first unveil'd the hallow'd form of Truth; Whose every word enlighten'd and endear'd; In age belov'd, in poverty rever'd; In Friendship's silent register ye live, Nor ask the vain memorial Art can give. —But when the sons of peace and pleasure sleep, When only Sorrow wakes, and wakes to weep, What spells entrance my visionary mind, With sighs so sweet, with transports so refin'd? Ethereal Power! whose smile, at noon of night, Recalls the far-fled spirit of delight; Instils that musing, melancholy mood, Which charms the wise, and elevates the good; Blest MEMORY, hail! Oh grant the grateful Muse, Her pencil dipt in Nature's living hues, To pass the clouds that round thy empire roll, And trace its airy precincts in the soul. Lull'd in the countless chambers of the brain, Our thoughts are link'd by many a hidden chain. Awake but one, and lo, what myriads rise! [b] Each stamps its image as the other flies! Each, as the various avenues of sense Delight or sorrow to the soul dispense, Brightens or fades; yet all, with magic art, Controul the latent fibres of the heart. As studious PROSPERO'S mysterious spell Conven'd the subject-spirits to his cell; Each, at thy call, advances or retires, As judgment dictates, or the scene inspires. Each thrills the seat of sense, that sacred source Whence the fine nerves direct their mazy course, And thro' the frame invisibly convey The subtle, quick vibrations as they play. Survey the globe, each ruder realm explore; From Reason's faintest ray to NEWTON soar, What different spheres to human bliss assign'd! What slow gradations in the scale of mind! Yet mark in each these mystic wonders wrought; Oh mark the sleepless energies of thought! The adventurous boy, that asks his little share, And hies from home with many a gossip's prayer, Turns on the neighbouring hill, once more to see The dear abode of peace and privacy; And as he turns, the thatch among the trees, The smoke's blue wreaths ascending with the breeze, The village-common spotted white with sheep, The church-yard yews round which his fathers sleep; [c] All rouse Reflection's sadly-pleasing train. And oft he looks and weeps, and looks again. So, when the mild TUPIA dar'd explore Arts yet untaught, and worlds unknown before, And, with the sons of Science, woo'd the gale That, rising, swell'd their strange expanse of sail; So, when he breath'd his firm yet fond adieu, [d] Borne from his leafy hut, his carv'd canoe, And all his soul best lov'd—such tears he shed, While each soft scene of summer-beauty fled: Long o'er the wave a wistful look he cast, Long watch'd the streaming signal from the mast; Till twilight's dewy tints deceiv'd his eye, And fairy forests fring'd the evening sky. So Scotia's Queen, as slowly dawn'd the day,' [d] Rose on her couch, and gaz'd her soul away. Her eyes had bless'd the beacon's glimmering height, That faintly tipt the feathery surge with light; But now the morn with orient hues pourtray'd Each castled cliff, and brown monastic shade: All touch'd the talisman's resistless spring, And lo, what busy tribes were instant on the wing! Thus kindred objects kindred thoughts inspire, As summer-clouds flash forth electric fire. [f] And hence this spot gives back the joys of youth, Warm as the life, and with the mirror's truth. Hence home-felt pleasure prompts the Patriot's sigh; [g] This makes him wish to live, and dare to die. For this young FOSCAKI, whose hapless fate [h] Venice should blush to hear the Muse relate, When exile wore his blooming years away, To sorrow's long soliloquies a prey, When reason, justice, vainly urg'd his cause, For this he rous'd her sanguinary laws; Glad to return, tho' Hope could grant no more, And chains and torture hail'd him to the shore. And hence the charm historic scenes impart: Hence Tiber awes, and Avon melts the heart. Aerial forms, in Tempe's classic vale, Glance thro' the gloom, and whisper in the gale; In wild Vaucluse with love and LAURA dwell, And watch and weep in ELOISA'S cell.' [i] 'Twas ever thus. As now at VIRGIL'S tomb, [k] We bless the shade, and bid the verdure bloom: So TULLY paus'd, amid the wrecks of Time, [l] On the rude stone to trace the truth sublime; When at his feet, in honour'd dust disclos'd, The immortal Sage of Syracuse repos'd. And as his youth in sweet delusion hung, Where once a PLATO taught, a PINDAR sung; Who now but meets him musing, when he roves His ruin'd Tusculan's romantic groves? In Rome's great forum, who but hears him roll His moral thunders o'er the subject soul? And hence that calm delight the portrait gives: We gaze on every feature till it lives! Still the fond lover views the absent maid; And the lost friend still lingers in his shade! Say why the pensive widow loves to weep, [m] When on her knee she rocks her babe to sleep: Tremblingly still, she lifts his veil to trace The father's features in his infant face. The hoary grandsire smiles the hour away, Won by the charm of Innocence at play; He bends to meet each artless burst of joy, Forgets his age, and acts again the boy. What tho' the iron school of War erase Each milder virtue, and each softer grace; What tho' the fiend's torpedo-touch arrest Each gentler, finer impulse of the breast; Still shall this active principle preside, And wake the tear to Pity's self denied. The intrepid Swiss, that guards a foreign shore, Condemn'd to climb his mountain-cliffs no more, If chance he hears the song so sweetly wild [n] Which on those cliffs his infant hours beguil'd, Melts at the long-lost scenes that round him rise, And sinks a martyr to repentant sighs. Ask not if courts or camps dissolve the charm: Say why VESPASIAN lov'd his Sabine farm; [o] Why great NAVARRE, when France and freedom bled, [p] Sought the lone limits of a forest-shed. When DIOCLETIAN'S self-corrected mind [q] The imperial fasces of a world resign'd, Say why we trace the labours of his spade, In calm Salona's philosophic shade. Say, when contentious CHARLES renounc'd a throne, [r] To muse with monks unletter'd and unknown, What from his soul the parting tribute drew? What claim'd the sorrows of a last adieu? The still retreats that sooth'd his tranquil breast, Ere grandeur dazzled, and its cares oppress'd. Undamp'd by time, the generous Instinct glows Far as Angola's sands, as Zembla's snows; Glows in the tiger's den, the serpent's nest, On every form of varied life imprest. The social tribes its choicest influence hail:— And, when the drum beats briskly in the gale, The war-worn courser charges at the sound, And with young vigour wheels the pasture round. Oft has the aged tenant of the vale Lean'd on his staff to lengthen out the tale; Oft have his lips the grateful tribute breath'd, From sire to son with pious zeal bequeath'd. When o'er the blasted heath the day declin'd, And on the scath'd oak warr'd the winter-wind; When not a distant taper's twinkling ray Gleam'd o'er the furze to light him on his way; When not a sheep-bell sooth'd his listening ear, And the big rain-drops told the tempest near; Then did his horse the homeward track descry, [s] The track that shunn'd his sad, inquiring eye; And win each wavering purpose to relent, With warmth so mild, so gently violent, That his charm'd hand the careless rein resign'd, And doubts and terrors vanish'd from his mind. Recall the traveller, whose alter'd form Has borne the buffet of the mountain-storm; And who will first his fond impatience meet? His faithful dog's already at his feet! Yes, tho' the porter spurn him from the door, Tho' all, that knew him, know his face no more, His faithful dog shall tell his joy to each, With that mute eloquence which passes speech.— And see, the master but returns to die! Yet who shall bid the watchful servant fly? The blasts of heav'n, the drenching dews of earth, The wanton insults of unfeeling mirth, These, when to guard Misfortune's sacred grave, Will firm Fidelity exult to brave. Led by what chart, transports the timid dove The wreaths of conquest, or the vows of love? Say, thro' the clouds what compass points her flight? Monarchs have gaz'd, and nations bless'd the sight. Pile rocks on rocks, bid woods and mountains rise, Eclipse her native shades, her native skies;— 'Tis vain! thro' Ether's pathless wilds she goes, And lights at last where all her cares repose. Sweet bird! thy truth shall Harlem's walls attest, [t] And unborn ages consecrate thy nest. When, with the silent energy of grief, With looks that ask'd, yet dar'd not hope relief, Want, with her babes, round generous Valour clung, To wring the slow surrender from his tongue, 'Twas thine to animate her closing eye; Alas! 'twas thine perchance the first to die, Crush'd by her meagre hand, when welcom'd from the sky. Hark! the bee winds her small but mellow horn, [u] Blithe to salute the sunny smile of morn. O'er thymy downs she bends her busy course, And many a stream allures her to its source. 'Tis noon, 'tis night. That eye so finely wrought, Beyond the search of sense, the soar of thought. Now vainly asks the scenes she left behind; Its orb so full, its vision so confin'd! Who guides the patient pilgrim to her cell? Who bids her soul with conscious triumph swell? With conscious truth retrace the mazy clue Of varied scents, that charm'd her as she flew? Hail, MEMORY, hail! thy universal reign Guards the least link of Being's glorious chain.
THE PLEASURES OF MEMORY
Delle cose custode, e dispensiera. TASSO.
ANALYSIS OF THE SECOND PART.
The Memory has hitherto acted only in subservience to the senses, and so far man is not eminently distinguished from other animals: but, with respect to man, she has a higher province; and is often busily employed, when excited by no external cause whatever. She preserves, for his use, the treasures of art and science, history and philosophy. She colours all the prospects of life: for 'we can only anticipate the future, by concluding what is possible from what is past.' On her agency depends every effusion of the Fancy, whose boldest effort can only compound or transpose, augment or diminish the materials which she has collected and retained.
When the first emotions of despair have subsided, and sorrow has softened into melancholy, she amuses with a retrospect of innocent pleasures, and inspires that noble confidence which results from the consciousness of having acted well. When sleep has suspended the organs of sense from their office, she not only supplies the mind with images, but assists in their combination. And even in madness itself, when the soul is resigned over to the tyranny of a distempered imagination, she revives past perceptions, and awakens the train of thought which was formerly most familiar.
Nor are we pleased only with a review of the brighter passages of life. Events, the most distressing in their immediate consequences, are often cherished in remembrance with a degree of enthusiasm.
But the world and its occupations give a mechanical impulse to the passions, which is not very favourable to the indulgence of this feeling. It is in a calm and well-regulated mind that the Memory is most perfect; and solitude is her best sphere of action. With this sentiment is introduced a Tale, illustrative of her influence in solitude, sickness, and, sorrow. And the subject having now been considered, so far as it relates to man and the animal world, the Poem concludes with a conjecture, that superior beings are blest with a nobler exercise of this faculty.
Sweet MEMORY, wafted by thy gentle gale, Oft up the stream of Time I turn my sail, To view the fairy-haunts of long-lost hours. Blest with far greener shades, far fresher flowers. Ages and climes remote to Thee impart What charms in Genius, and refines in Art; Thee, in whose hand the keys of Science dwell, The pensive portress of her holy cell; Whose constant vigils chase the chilling damp Oblivion steals upon her vestal-lamp. The friends of Reason, and the guides of Youth, Whose language breath'd the eloquence of Truth; Whose life, beyond preceptive wisdom, taught The great in conduct, and the pure in thought; These still exist, by Thee to Fame consign'd, [x] Still speak and act, the models of mankind. From Thee sweet Hope her airy colouring draws; And Fancy's flights are subject to thy laws. From Thee that bosom-spring of rapture flows, Which only Virtue, tranquil Virtue, knows. When Joy's bright sun has shed his evening ray, And Hope's delusive meteors cease to play; When clouds on clouds the smiling prospect close, Still thro' the gloom thy star serenely glows; Like yon fair orb, she gilds the brow of night With the mild magic of reflected light. The beauteous maid, that bids the world adieu, Oft of that world will snatch a fond review; Oft at the shrine neglect her beads, to trace Some social scene, some dear, familiar face, Forgot, when first a father's stern controul Chas'd the gay visions of her opening soul: And ere, with iron tongue, the vesper-bell Bursts thro' the cypress-walk, the convent-cell, Oft will her warm and wayward heart revive, To love and joy still tremblingly alive; The whisper'd vow, the chaste caress prolong, Weave the light dance and swell the choral song; With rapt ear drink the enchanting serenade, And, as it melts along the moonlight-glade, To each soft note return as soft a sigh, And bless the youth that bids her slumbers fly. But not till Time has calm'd the ruffled breast, Are these fond dreams of happiness confest. Not till the rushing winds forget to rave, Is Heav'n's sweet smile reflected on the wave. From Guinea's coast pursue the lessening sail, And catch the sounds that sadden every gale. Tell, if thou canst, the sum of sorrows there; Mark the fixt gaze, the wild and frenzied glare, The racks of thought, and freezings of despair! But pause not then—beyond the western wave, Go, view the captive barter'd as a slave! Crush'd till his high, heroic spirit bleeds, And from his nerveless frame indignantly recedes. Yet here, ev'n here, with pleasures long resign'd, Lo! MEMORY bursts the twilight of the mind: Her dear delusions sooth his sinking soul, When the rude scourge presumes its base controul; And o'er Futurity's blank page diffuse The full reflection of her vivid hues. 'Tis but to die, and then, to weep no more, Then will he wake on Congo's distant shore; Beneath his plantain's antient shade, renew The simple transports that with freedom flew; Catch the cool breeze that musky Evening blows, And quaff the palm's rich nectar as it glows; The oral tale of elder time rehearse, And chant the rude, traditionary verse; With those, the lov'd companions of his youth, When life was luxury, and friendship truth. Ah! why should Virtue fear the frowns of Fate? Hers what no wealth can win, no power create! A little world of clear and cloudless day, Nor wreck'd by storms, nor moulder'd by decay; A world, with MEMORY'S ceaseless sun-shine blest, The home of Happiness, an honest breast. But most we mark the wonders of her reign, When Sleep has lock'd the senses in her chain. When sober Judgment has his throne resign'd, She smiles away the chaos of the mind; And, as warm Fancy's bright Elysium glows, From Her each image springs, each colour flows. She is the sacred guest! the immortal friend! Oft seen o'er sleeping Innocence to bend, In that dead hour of night to Silence giv'n, Whispering seraphic visions of her heav'n. When the blithe son of Savoy, journeying round With humble wares and pipe of merry sound, From his green vale and shelter'd cabin hies, And scales the Alps to visit foreign skies; Tho' far below the forked lightnings play, And at his feet the thunder dies away, Oft, in the saddle rudely rock'd to sleep, While his mule browses on the dizzy steep, With MEMORY'S aid, he sits at home, and sees His children sport beneath their native, trees, And bends, to hear their cherub-voices call, O'er the loud fury of the torrent's fall. But can her smile with gloomy Madness dwell? Say, can she chase the horrors of his cell? Each fiery flight on Frenzy's wing restrain, And mould the coinage of the fever'd brain? Pass but that grate, which scarce a gleam supplies, There in the dust the wreck of Genius lies! He, whose arresting hand sublimely wrought Each bold conception in the sphere of thought; And round, in colours of the rainbow, threw Forms ever fair, creations ever new! But, as he fondly snatch'd the wreath of Fame, The spectre Poverty unnerv'd his frame. Cold was her grasp, a withering scowl she wore; And Hope's soft energies were felt no more. Yet still how sweet the soothings of his art! [y] From the rude wall what bright ideas start! Ev'n now he claims the amaranthine wreath, With scenes that glow, with images that breathe! And whence these scenes, these images, declare. Whence but from Her who triumphs o'er despair? Awake, arise! with grateful fervor fraught, Go, spring the mine of elevating thought. He, who, thro' Nature's various walk, surveys The good and fair her faultless line pourtrays; Whose mind, prophan'd by no unhallow'd guest, Culls from the crowd the purest and the best; May range, at will, bright Fancy's golden clime, Or, musing, mount where Science sits sublime, Or wake the spirit of departed Time. Who acts thus wisely, mark the moral muse, A blooming Eden in his life reviews! So rich the culture, tho' so small the space, Its scanty limits he forgets to trace. But the fond fool, when evening shades the sky, Turns but to start, and gazes but to sigh! [z] The weary waste, that lengthen'd as he ran, Fades to a blank, and dwindles to a span! Ah! who can tell the triumphs of the mind, By truth illumin'd, and by taste refin'd? When Age has quench'd the eye and clos'd the ear, Still nerv'd for action in her native sphere, Oft will she rise—with searching glance pursue Some long-lov'd image vanish'd from her view; Dart thro' the deep recesses of the past, O'er dusky forms in chains of slumber cast; With giant-grasp fling back the folds of night, And snatch the faithless fugitive to light. So thro' the grove the impatient mother flies. Each sunless glade, each secret pathway tries; Till the light leaves the truant boy disclose, Long on the wood-moss stretch'd in sweet repose. Nor yet to pleasing objects are confin'd The silent feasts of the reflecting mind. Danger and death a dread delight inspire; And the bald veteran glows with wonted fire, When, richly bronz'd by many a summer-sun, He counts his scars, and tells what deeds were done. Go, with old Thames, view Chelsea's glorious pile; And ask the shatter'd hero, whence his smile? Go, view the splendid domes of Greenwich—Go, And own what raptures from Reflection flow. Hail, noblest structures imag'd in the wave! A nation's grateful tribute to the brave. Hail, blest retreats from war and shipwreck, hail! That oft arrest the wondering stranger's sail. Long have ye heard the narratives of age, The battle's havoc, and the tempest's rage; Long have ye known Reflection's genial ray Gild the calm close of Valour's various day. Time's sombrous touches soon correct the piece, Mellow each tint, and bid each discord cease: A softer tone of light pervades the whole, And steals a pensive languor o'er the soul. Hast thou thro' Eden's wild-wood vales pursued [a] Each mountain-scene, majestically rude; To note the sweet simplicity of life, Far from the din of Folly's idle strife: Nor there awhile, with lifted eye, rever'd That modest stone which pious PEMBROKE rear'd; Which still records, beyond the pencil's power, The silent sorrows of a parting hour; Still to the musing pilgrim points the place, Her sainted spirit most delights to trace? Thus, with the manly glow of honest pride, O'er his dead son the gallant ORMOND sigh'd. [b] Thus, thro' the gloom of SHENSTONE'S fairy grove, MARIA'S urn still breathes the voice of love. As the stern grandeur of a Gothic tower Awes us less deeply in its morning hour, Than when the shades of Time serenely fall On every broken arch and ivy'd wall; The tender images we love to trace, Steal from each year a melancholy grace! And as the sparks of social love expand, As the heart opens in a foreign land; And, with a brother's warmth, a brother's smile, The stranger greets each native of his isle; So scenes of life, when present and confest, Stamp but their bolder features on the breast; Yet not an image, when remotely view'd, However trivial, and however rude, But wins the heart, and wakes the social sigh, With every claim of close affinity! But these pure joys the world can never know; In gentler climes their silver currents flow. Oft at the silent, shadowy close of day, When the hush'd grove has sung its parting lay; When pensive Twilight, in her dusky car, Comes slowly on to meet the evening-star; Above, below, aerial murmurs swell, From hanging wood, brown heath, and bushy dell! A thousand nameless rills, that shun the light. Stealing soft music on the ear of night. So oft the finer movements of the soul, That shun the sphere of Pleasure's gay controul, In the still shades of calm Seclusion rise, And breathe their sweet, seraphic harmonies! Once, and domestic annals tell the time, (Preserv'd in Cumbria's rude, romantic clime) When nature smil'd, and o'er the landscape threw Her richest fragrance, and her brightest hue, A blithe and blooming Forester explor'd Those loftier scenes SALVATOR'S soul ador'd; The rocky pass half hung with shaggy wood, And the cleft oak flung boldly o'er the flood; Nor shunn'd the path, unknown to human tread, That downward to the night of caverns led; Some antient cataract's deserted bed. High on exulting wing the heath-cock rose, [c] And blew his shrill blast o'er perennial snows Ere the rapt youth, recoiling from the roar, Gaz'd on the tumbling tide of dread Lodoar; And thro' the rifted cliffs, that scal'd the sky, Derwent's clear mirror charm'd his dazzled eye. [d] Each osier isle, inverted on the wave, Thro' morn's gray mist its melting colours gave; And, o'er the cygnet's haunt, the mantling grove Its emerald arch with wild luxuriance wove. Light as the breeze that brush'd the orient dew: From rock to rock the young adventurer flew; And day's last sunshine slept along the shore, When lo, a path the smile of welcome wore. Imbowering shrubs with verdure veil'd the sky, And on the musk-rose shed a deeper dye; Save when a bright and momentary gleam Glanc'd from the white foam of some shelter'd stream. O'er the still lake the bell of evening toll'd, And on the moor the shepherd penn'd his fold; And on the green hill's side the meteor play'd; When, hark! a voice sung sweetly thro' the shade. It ceas'd—yet still in FLORIO'S fancy sung, Still on each note his captive spirit hung; Till o'er the mead a cool, sequester'd grot From its rich roof a sparry lustre shot. A crystal water cross'd the pebbled floor, And on the front these simple lines it bore: Hence away, nor dare intrude! In this secret, shadowy cell Musing MEMORY loves to dwell, With her sister Solitude. Far from the busy world she flies, To taste that peace the world denies. Entranc'd she sits; from youth to age, Reviewing Life's eventful page; And noting, ere they fade away, The little lines of yesterday. FLORIO had gain'd a rude and rocky seat, When lo, the Genius of this still retreat! Fair was her form—but who can hope to trace The pensive softness of her angel-face? Can VIRGIL'S verse, can RAPHAEL'S touch impart Those finer features of the feeling heart, Those tend'rer tints that shun the careless eye, And in the world's contagious climate die? She left the cave, nor mark'd the stranger there; Her pastoral beauty, and her artless air Had breath'd a soft enchantment o'er his soul! In every nerve he felt her blest controul! What pure and white-wing'd agents of the sky, Who rule the springs of sacred sympathy, Inform congenial spirits when they meet? Sweet is their office, as their natures sweet! FLORIO, with fearful joy, pursued the maid, Till thro' a vista's moonlight-checquer'd shade, Where the bat circled, and the rooks repos'd, (Their wars suspended, and their councils clos'd) An antique mansion burst in awful state, A rich vine clustering round the Gothic gate. Nor paus'd he there. The master of the scene Saw his light step imprint the dewy green; And, slow-advancing, hail'd him as his guest, Won by the honest warmth his looks express'd, He wore the rustic manners of a 'Squire; Age had not quench'd one spark of manly fire; But giant Gout had bound him in her chain, And his heart panted for the chase in vain. Yet here Remembrance, sweetly-soothing power! Wing'd with delight Confinement's lingering hour. The fox's brush still emulous to wear, He scour'd the county in his elbow-chair; And, with view-halloo, rous'd the dreaming hound, That rung, by starts, his deep-ton'd music round. Long by the paddock's humble pale confin'd, His aged hunters cours'd the viewless wind: And each, with glowing energy pourtray'd, The far-fam'd triumphs of the field display'd: Usurp'd the canvas of the crowded hall, And chas'd a line of heroes from the wall. There slept the horn each jocund echo knew. And many a smile and many a story drew! High o'er the hearth his forest-trophies hung, And their fantastic branches wildly flung. How would he dwell on the vast antlers there! These dash'd the wave, those fann'd the mountain-air. All, as they frown'd, unwritten records bore, Of gallant feats and festivals of yore. But why the tale prolong?—His only child, His darling JULIA on the stranger smil'd. Her little arts a fretful sire to please, Her gentle gaiety, and native ease Had won his soul; and rapturous Fancy shed Her golden lights, and tints of rosy red. But ah! few days had pass'd, ere the bright vision fled! When evening ting'd the lake's ethereal blue, And her deep shades irregularly threw; Their shifting sail dropt gently from the cove, Down by St. Herbert's consecrated grove; [e] Whence erst the chanted hymn, the taper'd rite Amus'd the fisher's solitary night: And still the mitred window, richly wreath'd, A sacred calm thro' the brown foliage breath'd. The wild deer, starting thro' the silent glade, With fearful gaze their various course survey'd. High hung in air the hoary goat reclin'd, His streaming beard the sport of every wind; And, while the coot her jet-wing lov'd to lave, Rock'd on the bosom of the sleepless wave; The eagle rush'd from Skiddaw's purple crest, A cloud still brooding o'er her giant-nest. And now the moon had dimm'd, with dewy ray. The few fine flushes of departing day; O'er the wide water's deep serene she hung, And her broad lights on every mountain flung; When lo! a sudden blast the vessel blew, [f] And to the surge consign'd the little crew. All, all escap'd—but ere the lover bore His faint and faded JULIA, to the shore, Her sense had fled!—Exhausted by the storm, A fatal trance hang o'er her pallid form; Her closing eye a trembling lustre fir'd; 'Twas life's last spark—it flutter'd and expir'd! The father strew'd his white hairs in the wind, Call'd on his child—nor linger'd long behind: And FLORIO liv'd to see the willow wave, With many an evening-whisper, o'er their grave. Yes, FLORIO liv'd—and, still of each possest, The father cherish'd, and the maid caress'd! For ever would the fond enthusiast rove, With JULIA'S spirit, thro' the shadowy grove; Gaze with delight on every scene she plann'd, Kiss every flowret planted by her hand. Ah! still he trac'd her steps along the glade, When hazy hues and glimmering lights betray'd Half-viewless forms; still listen'd as the breeze Heav'd its deep sobs among the aged trees; And at each pause her melting accents caught, In sweet delirium of romantic thought! Dear was the grot that shunn'd the blaze of day; She gave its spars to shoot a trembling ray. The spring, that bubbled from its inmost cell, Murmur'd of JULIA'S virtues as it fell; And o'er the dripping moss, the fretted stone, In FLORIO'S ear breath'd language not its own. Her charm around the enchantress MEMORY threw, A charm that sooths the mind, and sweetens too! But is Her magic only felt below? Say, thro' what brighter realms she bids it flow; To what pure beings, in a nobler sphere, [g] She yields delight but faintly imag'd here: All that till now their rapt researches knew, Not call'd in slow succession to review; But, as a landscape meets the eye of day, At once presented to their glad survey! Each scene of bliss reveal'd, since chaos fled, And dawning light its dazzling glories spread; Each chain of wonders that sublimely glow'd, Since first Creation's choral anthem flow'd; Each ready flight, at Mercy's smile divine, To distant worlds that undiscover'd shine; Full on her tablet flings its living rays, And all, combin'd, with blest effulgence blaze. There thy bright train, immortal Friendship, soar; No more to part, to mingle tears no more! And, as the softening hand of Time endears The joys and sorrows of our infant-years, So there the soul, releas'd from human strife, Smiles at the little cares and ills of life; Its lights and shades, its sunshine and its showers; As at a dream that charm'd her vacant hours! Oft may the spirits of the dead descend To watch the silent slumbers of a friend; To hover round his evening-walk unseen, And hold sweet converse on the dusky green; To hail the spot where first their friendship grew, And heav'n and nature open'd to their view! Oft, when he trims his cheerful hearth, and sees A smiling circle emulous to please; There may these gentle guests delight to dwell, And bless the scene they lov'd in life so well! Oh thou! with whom my heart was wont to share From Reason's dawn each pleasure and each care; With whom, alas! I fondly hop'd to know The humble walks of happiness below; If thy blest nature now unites above An angel's pity with a brother's love, Still o'er my life preserve thy mild controul, Correct my views, and elevate my soul; Grant me thy peace and purity of mind, Devout yet cheerful, active yet resign'd; Grant me, like thee, whose heart knew no disguise, Whose blameless wishes never aim'd to rise, To meet the changes Time and Chance present, With modest dignity and calm content. When thy last breath, ere Nature sunk to rest, Thy meek submission to thy God express'd; When thy last look, ere thought and feeling fled, A mingled gleam of hope and triumph shed; What to thy soul its glad assurance gave, Its hope in death, its triumph o'er the grave? The sweet Remembrance of unblemish'd youth, The still inspiring voice of Innocence and Truth! Hail, MEMORY, hail! in thy exhaustless mine From age to age unnumber'd treasures shine! Thought and her shadowy brood thy call obey, And Place and Time are subject to thy sway! Thy pleasures most we feel, when most alone; The only pleasures we can call our own. Lighter than air, Hope's summer-visions die, If but a fleeting cloud obscure the sky; If but a beam of sober Reason play, Lo, Fancy's fairy frost-work melts away! But can the wiles of Art, the grasp of Power, Snatch the rich relics of a well-spent hour? These, when the trembling spirit wings her flight, Pour round her path a stream of living light; And gild those pure and perfect realms of rest, Where Virtue triumphs, and her sons are blest!
NOTES ON THE FIRST PART.
Up springs at every step to claim a tear,
I came to the place of my birth, and cried, "The friends of my Youth, where are they?"—And an echo answered, "Where are they?" From an Arabic MS.
Awake but one, and lo, what myriads rise!
When a traveller, who was surveying the ruins of Rome, expressed a desire to possess some relic of its antient grandeur, Poussin, who attended him, stooped down, and, gathering up a handful of earth shining with small grains of porphyry, "Take this home," said he, "for your cabinet; and say boldly, Questa e Roma Antica."
The church-yard yews round which his fathers sleep;
Every man, like Gulliver in Lilliput, is fastened to some spot of earth, by the thousand small threads which habit and association are continually stealing over him. Of these, perhaps, one of the strongest is here alluded to.
When the Canadian Indians were once solicited to emigrate, "What!" they replied, "shall we say to the bones of our fathers, Arise, and go with us into a foreign land?"—Hist. des Indes, par Raynal, vi. 21.
So, when he breath'd his firm yet fond adieu,
See COOK'S first voyage, book i. chap. 16.
Another very affecting instance of local attachment is related of his fellow-countryman Potaveri, who came to Europe with M. de Bougainville.—See LES JARDINS, chant, ii.
So Scotia's Queen, &c.
Elle se leve sur son lict, et se met a contempler la France encore, et tant qu'elle peut. BRANTOME, i. 140.
Thus kindred objects kindred thoughts inspire.
To an accidental association may be ascribed some of the noblest efforts of human genius. The Historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire first conceived his design among the ruins of the Capitol; and to the tones of a Welsh harp are we indebted for the Bard of Gray.—GIBBON'S Hist. xii. 432.—Mem. of Gray, sect. iv. let. 25.
Hence home-felt pleasure, &c.
Who can sufficiently admire the affectionate attachment of Plutarch, who thus concludes his enumeration of the advantages of a great city to men of letters; "As to myself, I live in a little town; and I choose to live there, lest it should become still less,"—Vit. Dem.
For this young FOSCARI, &c.
He was suspected of murder, and at Venice suspicion is good evidence. Neither the interest of the Doge, his father, nor the intrepidity of conscious innocence, which he exhibited in the dungeon and on the rack, could procure his acquittal. He was banished to the island of Candia for life.
But here his resolution failed him. At such a distance from home he could not live; and, as it was a criminal offence to solicit the intercession of any foreign prince, in a fit of despair he addressed a letter to the Duke of Milan, and intrusted it to a wretch whose perfidy, he knew, would occasion his being remanded a prisoner to Venice.
And watch and weep in ELOISA'S cell.
The Paraclete, founded by Abelard, in Champagne.
'Twas ever thus. As now at VIRGIL'S tomb
Vows and pilgrimages are not peculiar to the religious enthusiast. Silius Italicus performed annual ceremonies on the mountain of Posilippo; and it was there that Boccaccio, quasi da un divino estro inspirato, re-solved to dedicate his life to the muses.
So TULLY paus'd amid the wrecks of Time.
When Cicero was quaestor in Sicily, he discovered the tomb of Archimedes by its mathematical inscription.
Tusc. Quaest. v. 3.
Say why the pensive widow loves to weep.
The influence of the associating principle is finely exemplified in the faithful Penelope, when she sheds tears over the bow of Ulysses. Od. xxi. 55.
If chance he hears the song so sweetly wild
The celebrated Ranz des Vaches; cet air si cheri des Suisses qu'il fut defendu sous peine de mort de la jouer dans leurs troupes, parce qu'il faisoit fondre en larmes, deserter Ou mourir ceux qui l'entendoient, tant il excitoit en eux l'ardent desir de revoir leur pays. ROUSSEAU.
The maladie de pays is as old as the human heart. JUVENAL'S little cup-bearer,
Suspirat longo non visam tempore matrem, Et casulam, et notes tristis desiderat hoedos.
And the Argive, in the heat of battle,
Dulces moriens reminiscitur Argos.
Say why VESPASIAN lov'd his Saline farm.
This emperor, according to Suetonius, constantly passed the summer in a small villa near Reate, where he was born, and to which he would never add any embellishment; ne quid scilicet oculorum consuetudini deperiret. SUET. in Vit. Vesp. cap. ii.
A similar instance occurs in the life of the venerable Pertinax, as related by J. Capitolinus. Posteaquam in Liguriam venit, multis agris coemptis, tabernam pater-nam, manente forma priore, infinitis aedificiis circun-dedit. Hist. August. 54. And it is said of Cardinal Richelieu, that, when he built his magnificent palace on the site of the old family chateau at Richelieu, he sacrificed its symmetry to preserve the room in which he was born.
Mem. de Mlle, de Montpensier, i. 27. An attachment of this nature is generally the characteristic of a benevolent mind; and a long acquaintance with the world cannot always extinguish it.
"To a friend," says John Duke of Buckingham, "I will expose my weakness: I am oftener missing a pretty gallery in the old house I pulled down, than pleased with a saloon which I built in its stead, though a thousand times better in all respects." See his Letter to the D. of Sh.
Such were Diderot's Regrets sur sa vieille Robe de Chambre. "Pourquoi ne avoir pas gardee? Elle etoit faite a moi; j'etois fait a elle.—Mes amis, gardez vos vieux amis."
This is the language of the heart; and will remind the reader of that good-humoured remark in one of Pope's letters—"I should hardly care to have an old post pulled up, that I remembered ever since I was a child." POPE'S Works, viii. 151.
Nor did the Poet feel the charm more forcibly than his Editor. See HURD'S Life of Warburton, 51, 99.
The elegant author of Telemachus has illustrated this subject, with equal fancy and feeling, in the story of Alibee, Persan.
Why great NAVARRE, &c.
That amiable and accomplished monarch, Henry the Fourth of France, made an excursion from his camp, during the long siege of Laon, to dine at a house in the forest of Folambray; where he had often been regaled, when a boy, with fruit, milk, and new cheese; and in revisiting which he promised himself great pleasure. Mem. de SULLY, ii. 381.
When DIOCLETIAN'S self-corrected mind
Diocletian retired into his native province, and there amused himself with building, planting, and gardening. His answer to Maximian is deservedly celebrated. He was solicited by that restless old man to re-assume the reins of government, and the Imperial purple. He rejected the temptation with a smile of pity, calmly observing, "that if he could shew Maximian the cabbages which he had planted with his own hands at Salona, he should no longer be urged to relinquish the enjoyment of happiness for the pursuit of power." GIBBON, ii. 175.
Say, when contentious CHARLES renounc'd a throne,
When the emperor Charles V. had executed his memorable resolution, and had set out for the monastery of St. Justus, he stopped a few days at Ghent, says his historian, to indulge that tender and pleasant melancholy, which arises in the mind of every man in the decline of life, on visiting the place of his nativity, and viewing the scenes and objects familiar to him in his early youth. ROBERTSON, iv. 256.
Then did his horse the homeward track descry.
The memory of the horse forms the ground-work of a pleasing little romance of the twelfth century, entitled, "Lai du Palefroi vair." See Fabliaux du XII Siecle.
Ariosto likewise introduces it in a passage full of truth and nature. When Bayardo meets Angelica in the forest, ........Va mansueto a la Donzella, .................................. Ch'in Albracca il servia gia di sua mano. ORLANDO FURIOSO, canto i. 75.
Sweet bird! thy truth shall HARLEM'S walls attest.
During the siege of Harlem, when that city was reduced to the last extremity, and on the point of opening its gates to a base and barbarous enemy, a design was formed to relieve it; and the intelligence was conveyed to the citizens by a letter which was tied under the wing of a pigeon. THUANUS, lib. lv, c. 5.
The same messenger was employed at the siege of Mutina, as we are informed by the elder Pliny. Hist. Nat. x. 37.
Hark! the lee, &c.
This little animal, from the extreme convexity of her eye, cannot see many inches before her.
NOTES ON THE SECOND PART.
These still exist, &c.
There is a future Existence even in this world; an Existence in the hearts and minus of those who shall live after us. It is in reserve for every man, however obscure; and his portion, if he be diligent, must be equal to his desires. For in whose remembrance can we wish to hold a place, but such as know, and are known by us? These are within the sphere of our influence, and among these and their descendants we may live evermore.
It is a state of rewards and punishments; and, like that revealed to us in the Gospel, has the happiest influence on our lives. The latter excites us to gain the favour of GOD; the former to gain the love and esteem of wise and good men; and both lead to the same end; for, in framing our conceptions of the DEITY, we only ascribe to Him exalted degrees of Wisdom and Goodness.
Yet still how sweet the soothings of his art!
The astronomer chalking his figures on the wall, in Hogarth's view of Bedlam, is an admirable exemplification of this idea. See the RAKE'S PROGRESS, plate 8.
Turns but to start, and gazes but to sigh! The following stanzas are said to have been written on a blank leaf of this Poem. They present so affecting a reverse of the picture, that I cannot resist the opportunity of introducing them here.
Pleasures of Memory!—oh supremely blest, And justly proud beyond a Poet's praise; If the pure confines of thy tranquil breast Contain, indeed, the subject of thy lays! By me how envied!—for to me, The herald still of misery, Memory makes her influence known By sighs, and tears, and grief alone: I greet her as the fiend, to whom belong The vulture's ravening beak, the raven's funeral song.
She tells of time mispent, of comfort lost, Of fair occasions gone for ever by; Of hopes too fondly nurs'd, too rudely cross'd, Of many a cause to wish, yet fear to die; For what, except th' instinctive fear Lest she survive, detains me here, When "all the life of life" is fled?— What, but the deep inherent dread, Lest she beyond the grave resume her reign, And realize the hell that priests and beldams feign?
Hast thou thru Eden's wild-wood vales pursued
On the road-side between Penrith and Appelby there stands a small pillar with this inscription:
"This pillar was erected in the year 1656, by Ann Countess Dowager of Pembroke, &c. for a memorial of her last parting, in this place, with her good and pious mother, Margaret, Countess Dowager of Cumberland, on the 2nd of April, 1616; in memory whereof she hath left an annuity of 4l. to be distributed to the poor of the parish of Brougham, every 2nd day of April for ever, upon the stone-table placed hard by. Laus Deo!"
The Eden is the principal river of Cumberland, and rises in the wildest part of Westmoreland.
O'er his dead son the gallant ORMOND sigh'd. Ormond bore the loss with patience and dignity: though he ever retained a pleasing, however melancholy, sense of the signal merit of Ossory. "I would not exchange my dead son," said he, "for any living son in Christendom." HUME, vi. 340. The same sentiment is inscribed on Miss Dolman's urn at the Leasowes.
Heu, quanto minus est cum reliquis versari, quam tui meminisse!
High on exulting wing the heath-cock rose.
This bird is remarkable for his exultation during the spring. Brit, Zoology, 266.
Derwent's clear mirror
Keswick Lake in Cumberland.
Down by St Herbert's consecrated grove.
A small island covered with trees, among which were formerly the ruins of a religious house.
When lo! a sudden blast the vessel blew.
In a lake surrounded with mountains, the agitations are often violent and momentary. The winds blow in gusts and eddies; and the water no sooner swells, than it subsides. See BOURN'S Hist, of Westmorland.
To what pure beings, in a nobler sphere,
The several degrees of angels may probably have larger views, and some of them he endowed with capacities able to retain together, and constantly set before them, as in one picture, all their past knowledge at once. LOCKE on Human Understanding, b. ii, c. x. g.
AN EPISTLE TO A FRIEND.
Villula,..........et pauper agelle, Me tibi, et hos una mecum, et quos semper amavi, Commendo.
Every reader turns with pleasure to those passages of Horace, and Pope, and Boileau, which describe how they lived and where they dwelt; and which, being interspersed among their satirical writings, derive a secret and irresistible grace from the contrast, and are admirable examples of what in Painting is termed repose.
We have admittance to Horace at all hours. We enjoy the company and conversation at his table; and his suppers, like Plato's, 'non solum in praesentia, sed etiam postero die jucundae sunt.' But when we look round as we sit there, we find ourselves in a Sabine farm, and not in a Roman villa. His windows have every charm of prospect; but his furniture might have descended from Cincin-natus; and gems, and pictures, and old marbles, are mentioned by him more than once with a seeming indifference.
His English Imitator thought and felt, perhaps, more correctly on the subject; and embellished his garden and grotto with great industry and success. But to these alone he solicits our notice. On the ornaments of his house he is silent; and he appears to have reserved all the minuter touches of his pencil for the library, the chapel, and the banquetting-room of Timon. 'Le savoir de notre siecle,' says Rousseau, 'tend beaucoup plus a detruire qu'a edifier. On censure d'un ton de maitre; pour proposer, il en faut prendre un autre.'
It is the design of this Epistle to illustrate the virtue of True Taste; and to shew how little she requires to secure, not only the comforts, but even the elegancies of life. True Taste is an excellent Economist. She confines her choice to few objects, and delights in producing great effects by small means: while False Taste is for ever sighing after the new and the rare; and reminds us, in her works, of the Scholar of Apelles, who, not being able to paint his Helen beautiful, determined to make her fine.
An Invitation, v. 1. The approach to a Villa described, v. 5. Its situation, v. 17. Its few apartments, v. 57. Furnished with casts from the Antique, &c. v. 63. The dining-room, v. 83. The library, v. 89. A cold-bath, v. 101. A winter-walk, v. 151. A summer-walk, v. l63. The invitation renewed, v. 197. Conclusion, v. 205.
When, with a REAUMUR'S skill, thy curious mind Has class'd the insect-tribes of human-kind, Each with its busy hum, or gilded wing, Its subtle, web-work, or its venom'd sting; Let me, to claim a few unvalued hours, Point the green lane that leads thro' fern and flowers; The shelter'd gate that opens to my field, And the white front thro' mingling elms reveal'd. In vain, alas, a village-friend invites To simple comforts, and domestic rites, When the gay months of Carnival resume Their annual round of glitter and perfume; When London hails thee to its splendid mart, Its hives of sweets, and cabinets of art; And, lo, majestic as thy manly song, Flows the full tide of human life along. Still must my partial pencil love to dwell On the home-prospects of my hermit cell; The mossy pales that skirt the orchard-green, Here hid by shrub-wood, there by glimpses seen; And the brown pathway, that, with careless flow, Sinks, and is lost among the trees below. Still must it trace (the flattering tints forgive) Each fleeting charm that bids the landscape live. Oft o'er the mead, at pleasing distance, pass [a] Browsing the hedge by fits the pannier'd ass; The idling shepherd-boy, with rude delight, Whistling his dog to mark the pebble's flight; And in her kerchief blue the cottage-maid, With brimming pitcher from the shadowy glade. Far to the south a mountain-vale retires, Rich in its groves, and glens, and village-spires; Its upland lawns, and cliffs with foliage hung, Its wizard-stream, nor nameless nor unsung: And thro' the various year, the various day, [b] What scenes of glory burst, and melt away! When April-verdure springs in Grosvenor-square, And the furr'd Beauty comes to winter there, She bids old Nature mar the plan no more; Yet still the seasons circle as before. Ah, still as soon the young Aurora plays, Tho' moons and flambeaux trail their broadest blaze; As soon the sky-lark pours his matin song, Tho' Evening lingers at the mask so long. There let her strike with momentary ray, As tapers shine their little lives away; There let her practise from herself to steal, And look the happiness she does not feel; The ready smile and bidden blush employ At Faro-routs that dazzle to destroy; Fan with affected ease the essenc'd air, And lisp of fashions with unmeaning stare. Be thine to meditate an humbler flight, When morning fills the fields with rosy light; Be thine to blend, nor thine a vulgar aim, Repose with dignity, with Quiet fame. Here no state-chambers in long line unfold, Bright with broad mirrors, rough with fretted gold; Yet modest ornament, with use combin'd, Attracts the eye to exercise the mind. Small change of scene, small space his home requires, [c] Who leads a life of satisfied desires. What tho' no marble breathes, no canvass glows, From every point a ray of genius flows! [d] Be mine to bless the more mechanic skill, That stamps, renews, and multiplies at will; And cheaply circulates, thro' distant climes, The fairest relics of the purest times. Here from the mould to conscious being start Those finer forms, the miracles of art; Here chosen gems, imprest on sulphur, shine, That slept for ages in a second mine; And here the faithful graver dares to trace A MICHAEL'S grandeur, and a RAPHAEL'S grace! Thy gallery, Florence, gilds my humble walls, And my low roof the Vatican recalls! Soon as the morning-dream my pillow flies, To waking sense what brighter visions rise! O mark! again the coursers of the Sun, At GUIDO'S call, their round of glory run! [e] Again the rosy Hours resume their flight, Obscur'd and lost in floods of golden light! But could thine erring friend so long forget (Sweet source of pensive joy and fond regret) That here its warmest hues the pencil flings, Lo! here the lost restores, the absent brings; And still the Few best lov'd and most rever'd [f] Rise round the board their social smile endear'd? Selected shelves shall claim thy studious hours; There shall thy ranging mind be fed on flowers! [Footnote 1] There, while the shaded lamp's mild lustre streams, Read antient books, or woo inspiring dreams;[g] And, when a sage's bust arrests thee there, [h] Pause, and his features with his thoughts compare. —Ah, most that Art my grateful rapture calls, Which breathes a soul into the silent walls; [Footnote 2] Which gathers round the Wise of every Tongue, [i] All on whose words departed nations hung; Still prompt to charm with many a converse sweet; Guides in the world, companions in retreat! Tho' my thatch'd bath no rich Mosaic knows, A limpid spring with unfelt current flows. Emblem of Life! which, still as we survey, Seems motionless, yet ever glides away! The shadowy walls record, with Attic art, The strength and beauty that its waves impart. Here THETIS, bending, with a mother's fears Dips her dear boy, whose pride restrains his tears. There, VENUS, rising, shrinks with sweet surprize, As her fair self reflected seems to rise! Far from the joyless glare, the maddening strife, And all 'the dull impertinence of life,' These eyelids open to the rising ray, And close, when Nature bids, at close of day. Here, at the dawn, the kindling landscape glows; There noon-day levees call from faint repose. Here the flush'd wave flings back the parting light; There glimmering lamps anticipate the night. When from his classic dreams the student steals, [Footnote 3] Amid the buzz of crowds, the whirl of wheels, To muse unnotic'd—while around him press The meteor-forms of equipage and dress; Alone, in wonder lost, he seems to stand A very stranger in his native land! And (tho' perchance of current coin possest, And modern phrase by living lips exprest) Like those blest Youths, forgive the fabling page, [k] Whose blameless lives deceiv'd a twilight age, Spent in sweet slumbers; till the miner's spade Unclos'd the cavern, and the morning play'd. Ah, what their strange surprize, their wild delight! New arts of life, new manners meet their sight! In a new world they wake, as from the dead; Yet doubt the trance dissolv'd, the vision fled! O come, and, rich in intellectual wealth, Blend thought with exercise, with knowledge health! Long, in this shelter'd scene of letter'd talk, With sober step repeat the pensive walk; Nor scorn, when graver triflings fail to please, The cheap amusements of a mind at ease; Here every care in sweet oblivion cast, And many an idle hour—not idly pass'd. No tuneful echoes, ambush'd at my gate, Catch the blest accents of the wise and great. [l] Vain of its various page, no Album breathes The sigh that Friendship or the Muse bequeaths. Yet some good Genii o'er my hearth preside, Oft the far friend, with secret spell, to guide; And there I trace, when the grey evening lours, A silent chronicle of happier hours! When Christmas revels in a world of snow, And bids her berries blush, her carols flow; His spangling shower when Frost the wizard flings; Or, borne in ether blue, on viewless wings, O'er the white pane his silvery foliage weaves, And gems with icicles the sheltering eaves; —Thy muffled friend his nectarine-wall pursues, What time the sun the yellow crocus wooes, Screen'd from the arrowy North; and duly hies [Foonote 4] To meet the morning-rumour as it flies; To range the murmuring market-place, and view The motley groups that faithful TENIERS drew. When Spring bursts forth in blossoms thro' the vale, And her wild music triumphs on the gale, Oft with my book I muse from stile to stile; [Footnote 5] Oft in my porch the listless noon beguile, Framing loose numbers, till declining day Thro' the green trellis shoots a crimson ray; Till the West-wind leads on the twilight hours, And shakes the fragrant bells of closing flowers. Nor boast, O Choisy! seat of soft delight, The secret charm of thy voluptuous night. Vain is the blaze of wealth, the pomp of power! Lo, here, attendant on the shadowy hour, Thy closet-supper, serv'd by hands unseen, Sheds, like an evening-star, its ray serene, [m] To hail our coming. Not a step prophane Dares, with rude sound, the cheerful rite restrain; And, while the frugal banquet glows reveal'd, Pure and unbought, [Footnote 6]—the natives of my field; While blushing fruits thro' scatter'd leaves invite, Still clad in bloom, and veil'd in azure light;— With wine, as rich in years as HORACE sings, With water, clear as his own fountain flings, The shifting side-board plays its humbler part, Beyond the triumphs of a Loriot's art. [n] Thus, in this calm recess, so richly fraught With mental light, and luxury of thought, My life steals on; (O could it blend with thine!) Careless my course, yet not without design. So thro' the vales of Loire the bee-hives glide, The light raft dropping with the silent tide; So, till the laughing scenes are lost in night, The busy people wing their various flight, Culling unnumber'd sweets from nameless flowers, That scent the vineyard in its purple hours. Rise, ere the watch-relieving clarions play, Caught thro' St. James's groves at blush of day; Ere its full voice the choral anthem flings Thro' trophied tombs of heroes and of kings. Haste to the tranquil shade of learned ease, [Footnote 7] Tho' skill'd alike to dazzle and to please; Tho' each gay scene be search'd with anxious eye, Nor thy shut door be pass'd without a sigh. If, when this roof shall know thy friend no more, Some, form'd like thee, should once, like thee, explore; Invoke the lares of his lov'd retreat, And his lone walks imprint with pilgrim-feet; Then be it said, (as, vain of better days, Some grey domestic prompts the partial praise) "Unknown he liv'd, unenvied, not unblest; Reason his guide, and Happiness his guest. In the clear mirror of his moral page, We trace the manners of a purer age. His soul, with thirst of genuine glory fraught, Scorn'd the false lustre of licentious thought. —One fair asylum from the world he knew, One chosen seat, that charms with various view! Who boasts of more (believe the serious strain) Sighs for a home, and sighs, alas! in vain. Thro' each he roves, the tenant of a day, And, with the swallow, wings the year away!" [p]
[Footnote 1: —apis Matinae More modoque Grata carpentis thyma—— HOR.]
[Footnote 2: Postea vero quam Tyrannio mihi libros disposuit, mens addita videtur meis aedibus. CIC.]
[Footnote 3: Ingenium, sibi quod vacuas desumsit Athenas, Et studiis annos septem dedit, insenuitque Libris et curis, statua taciturnius exit Plerumque—— HOR.]
[Footnote 4: Fallacem circum, vespertinumque pererro Saepe forum. HOR.]
[Footnote 5: Tantot, un livre en main, errantdans les preries— BOILEAU.]
[Footnote 6: ——dapes inemtas. HOR.]
[Footnote 7: Innocuas amo delicias doctamque quietem.]
Oft o'er the mead, at pleasing distance, pass
Cosmo of Medicis took most pleasure in his Apennine villa, because all that he commanded from its windows was exclusively his own. How unlike the wise Athenian, who, when he had a farm to sell, directed the cryer to proclaim, as its best recommendation, that it had a good neighbourhood. PLUT. in Vit. Themist.
And, thro' the various year, the various day,
Horace commends the house, 'longos quae prospicit agros.' Distant views contain the greatest variety, both in themselves, and in their accidental variations. GILPIN.
Small change of scene, small space his home requires,
Many a great man, in passing through the apartments of his palace, has made the melancholy reflection of the venerable Cosmo: "Questa e troppo gran casa a si poco famiglia." MACH. Ist. Fior. lib. vii.
"Parva, sed apta mihi," was Ariosto's inscription over his door in Ferrara; and who can wish to say more?
"I confess," says Cowley, "I love littleness almost in all things. A little convenient estate, a little cheerful house, a little company, and a very little feast." Essay vi.
When Socrates was asked why he had built for himself so small a house, "Small as it is," he replied, "I wish I could fill it with friends." PHAEDRUS, 1. iii. 9.
These indeed are all that a wise man would desire to assemble; "for a crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love." BACON'S Essays, xxvii.
From every point a ray of genius flows!
By this means, when all nature wears a lowering countenance, I withdraw myself into the visionary worlds of art; where I meet with shining landscapes, gilded triumphs, beautiful faces, and all those other objects that fill the mind with gay ideas, &c. ADDISON.
It is remarkable that Antony, in his adversity, passed some time in a small but splendid retreat, which he called his Timonium, and from which might originate the idea of the Parisian Boudoir, that favourite apartment, ou I'on se retire pour etre seul, mais ou l'on ne boude point. STRABO, 1. xvii. PLUT, in Vit. Anton.
At GUIDO'S call, &c.
Alluding to his celebrated fresco in the Rospigliosi Palace at Rome.
And still the Few best lov'd and most rever'd
The dining-room is dedicated to Conviviality; or, as Cicero somewhere expresses it, "Communitati vitae atque victus." There we wish most for the society of our friends; and, perhaps, in their absence, most require their portraits.
The moral advantages of this furniture may be illustrated by the pretty story of an Athenian courtezan, "who, in the midst of a riotous banquet with her lovers, accidentally cast her eye on the portrait of a philosopher, that hung opposite to her seat: the happy character of temperance and virtue struck her with so lively an image of her own unworthiness, that she instantly quitted the room; and, retiring home, became ever after an example of temperance, as she had been before of debauchery."
Read antient looks, or woo inspiring dreams;
The reader will here remember that passage of Horace, Nunc veterum libris, nunc somno, &c which was inscribed by Lord Chesterfield on the frieze of his library.
And, when a sage's lust arrests then there,
Siquidem non solum ex auro argentove, aut certe ex aere in bibliothecis dicantur illi, quorum immortales animae in iisdem locis ibi loquuntur: quinimo etiam quae non sunt, finguntur, pariuntque desideria non traditi vultus, sicut in Homero evenit. Quo majus (ut equidem arbitror) nullum est felicitatis specimen, quam semper omnes scire cupere, qualis fuerit aliquis. PLIN. Nat. Hist.
Cicero speaks with pleasure of a little seat under Aristotle in the library of Atticus. "Literis sustentor et recreor; maloque in illa tua sedecula, quam habes sub imagine Aristotelis, sedere, quam in istorum sella curuli!" Ep. ad Att. iv. 10.
Nor should we forget that Dryden drew inspiration from the "majestic face" of Shakespeare; and that a portrait of Newton was the only ornament of the closet of Buffon. Ep. to Kneller. Voyage a Montbart.
In the chamber of a man of genius we
Write all down: Such and such pictures;—there the window; .....the arras, figures, Why, such and such. CYMBELINE.
Which gathers round the Wise of every Tongue,
Quis tantis non gaudeat et glorietur hospitibus, exclaims Petrarch. —Spectare, etsi nihil aliud, certe juvat.—Homerus apud me mutus, imo vero ego apud illum surdus sum. Gaudeo tamen vel aspectu solo, et saepe ilium amplexus ac suspirans dico: O magne vir, &c.
Epist. Var. Lib. 20.
Like those blest Youths,
See the Legend of the Seven Sleepers. GIBBON, c. 33.
Catch the blest accents of the wise and great.
Mr. Pope delights in enumerating his illustrious guests. Nor is this an exclusive privilege of the poet. The Medici Palace at Florence exhibits a long and imposing catalogue. "Semper hi parietes columnaeque eruditis vocibus resonuerunt."
Another is also preserved at Chanteloup, the seat of the Duke of Choiseul.
Sheds, like an evening-star, its ray serene,
At a Roman supper statues were sometimes employed to hold the lamps.
—Aurea sunt juvenum simulacra per aedeis, Lampadas igniferas manibus retinentia dextris. LUCR. ii. 24.
A fashion as old as Homer! Odyss. vii. 100.
On the proper degree and distribution of light we may consult a great master of effect. Il lume grande, ed alto, e non troppo potente, sara quello, che rendera le particole de' corpi molto grate. Tratt. della Pittura di LIONARDO DA VINCI, c. xli.
Hence every artist requires a broad and high light. Hence also, in a banquet-scene, the most picturesque of all poets has thrown his light from the ceiling. AEn. i. 726.
And hence the "starry lamps" of Milton, that ....from the arched roof Pendent by subtle magic,.... ......yielded light As from a sky. Paradise Lost, i. 726.
Beyond the triumphs of a Loriot's art.
At the petits soupes of Choisy were first introduced those admirable pieces of mechanism, afterwards carried to perfection by Loriot, the Confidente and the Servante; a table and a side-board, which descended, and rose again covered with viands and wines. And thus the most luxurious Court in Europe, after all its boasted refinements, was glad to return at last, by this singular contrivance, to the quiet and privacy of humble life. Vie privee de Louis XV. tom. ii. p. 43.
So thro' the vales of Loire the bee-hives glide,
An allusion to the floating bee-house, or barge laden with bee-hives, which is seen in some parts of France and Piedmont.
And, with the swallow, wings the year away!
It was the boast of Lucullus that he changed his climate with the birds of passage. PLUT. in Vit. Lucull.
How often must he have felt the truth here inculcated, that the master of many houses has no home!
ODE TO SUPERSTITION. [Footnote 1]
Hence, to the realms of Night, dire Demon, hence! Thy chain of adamant can bind That little world, the human mind, And sink its noblest powers to impotence. Wake the lion's loudest roar, Clot his shaggy mane with gore, With flashing fury bid his eye-balls shine; Meek is his savage, sullen soul, to thine! Thy touch, thy deadening touch has steel'd the breast, [Footnote 2] Whence, thro' her April-shower, soft Pity smil'd; Has clos'd the heart each godlike virtue bless'd, To all the silent pleadings of his child. At thy command he plants the dagger deep, At thy command exults, tho' Nature bids him weep!
When, with a frown that froze the peopled earth, [Footnote 3] Thou dartedst thy huge head from high, Night wav'd her banners o'er the sky, And, brooding, gave her shapeless shadows birth. Rocking on the billowy air, Ha! what withering phantoms glare! As blows the blast with many a sudden swell, At each dead pause, what shrill-ton'd voices yell! The sheeted spectre, rising from the tomb, Points at the murderer's stab, and shudders by; In every grove is felt a heavier gloom, That veils its genius from the vulgar eye: The spirit of the water rides the storm, And, thro' the mist, reveals the terrors of his form.
O'er solid seas, where Winter reigns, And holds each mountain-wave in chains, The fur-clad savage, ere he guides his deer [Footnote 4] By glistering star-light thro' the snow, Breathes softly in her wondering ear Each potent spell thou bad'st him know. By thee inspir'd, on India's sands, [Footnote 5] Full in the sun the Bramin stands; And, while the panting tigress hies To quench her fever in the stream, His spirit laughs in agonies, [Footnote 6] Smit by the scorchings of the noontide beam. Mark who mounts the sacred pyre, Blooming in her bridal vest: She hurls the torch! she fans the fire! To die is to be blest: [Footnote 7] She clasps her lord to part no more, And, sighing, sinks! but sinks to soar. O'ershadowing Scotia's desert coast, The Sisters sail in dusky state, [Footnote 8] And, wrapt in clouds, in tempests tost, Weave the airy web of fate; While the lone shepherd, near the shipless main, [Footnote 9] Sees o'er her hills advance the long-drawn funeral train,
Thou spak'st, and lo! a new creation glow'd. Each unhewn mass of living stone Was clad in horrors not its own, And at its base the trembling nations bow'd. Giant Error, darkly grand, Grasp'd the globe with iron hand. Circled with seats of bliss, the Lord of Light Saw prostrate worlds adore his golden height. The statue, waking with immortal powers, [Footnote 10] Springs from its parent earth, and shakes the spheres; The indignant pyramid sublimely towers, And braves the efforts of a host of years. Sweet Music breathes her soul into the wind; And bright-ey'd Painting stamps the image of the mind.
Round their rude ark old Egypt's sorcerers rise! A timbrell'd anthem swells the gale, And bids the God of Thunders hail; [Footnote 11] With lowings loud the captive God replies. Clouds of incense woo thy smile, Scaly monarch of the Nile! [Footnote 12] But ah! what myriads claim the bended knee? [Footnote 13] Go, count the busy drops that swell the sea. Proud land! what eye can trace thy mystic lore, Lock'd up in characters as dark as night? [Footnote 14] What eye those long, long labyrinths dare explore, [Footnote 15] To which the parted soul oft wings her flight; Again to visit her cold cell of clay, Charm'd with perennial sweets, and smiling at decay?
On yon hoar summit, mildly bright [Footnote 16] With purple ether's liquid light, High o'er the world, the white-rob'd Magi gaze On dazzling bursts of heavenly fire; Start at each blue, portentous blaze, Each flame that flits with adverse spire. But say, what sounds my ear invade [Footnote 17] From Delphi's venerable shade? The temple rocks, the laurel waves! "The God! the God!" the Sybil cries. Her figure swells! she foams, she raves! Her figure swells to more than mortal size! Streams of rapture roll along, Silver notes ascend the skies: Wake, Echo, wake and catch the song, Oh catch it, ere it dies! The Sybil speaks, the dream is o'er, The holy harpings charm no more. In vain she checks the God's controul; His madding spirit fills her frame, And moulds the features of her soul, Breathing a prophetic flame. The cavern frowns; its hundred mouths unclose! And, In the thunder's voice, the fate of empire flows.
Mona, thy Druid-rites awake the dead! Rites thy brown oaks would never dare Ev'n whisper to the idle air; Rites that have chain'd old Ocean on his bed. Shiver'd by thy piercing glance, Pointless falls the hero's lance. Thy magic bids the imperial eagle fly, [Footnote 18] And blasts the laureate wreath of victory. Hark, the bard's soul inspires the vocal string! At every pause dread Silence hovers o'er: While murky Night sails round on raven-wing, Deepening the tempest's howl, the torrent's roar; Chas'd by the morn from Snowdon's awful brow, Where late she sate and scowl'd on the black wave below.
Lo, steel-clad War his gorgeous standard rears! The red-cross squadrons madly rage, [Footnote 19] And mow thro' infancy and age: Then kiss the sacred dust and melt in tears. Veiling from the eye of day, Penance dreams her life away; In cloister'd solitude she sits and sighs, While from each shrine still, small responses rise. Hear, with what heart-felt beat, the midnight bell Swings its slow summons thro' the hollow pile! The weak, wan votarist leaves her twilight cell, To walk, with taper dim, the winding isle; With choral chantings vainly to aspire, Beyond this nether sphere, on Rapture's wing of fire.
Lord of each pang the nerves can feel, Hence, with the rack and reeking wheel. Faith lifts the soul above this little ball! While gleams of glory open round, And circling choirs of angels call, Can'st thou, with all thy terrors crown'd, Hope to obscure that latent spark, Destin'd to shine when suns are dark? Thy triumphs cease! thro' every land, Hark! Truth proclaims, thy triumphs cease: Her heavenly form, with glowing hand, Benignly points to piety and peace. Flush'd with youth her looks impart Each fine feeling as it flows; Her voice the echo of her heart, Pure as the mountain-snows: Celestial transports round her play, And softly, sweetly die away. She smiles! and where is now the cloud That blacken'd o'er thy baleful reign? Grim darkness furls his leaden shroud, Shrinking from her glance in vain. Her touch unlocks the day-spring from above, And lo! it visits man with beams of light and love.
[Footnote 1: Written in the year 1784.]
[Footnote 2: An allusion to the sacrifice of Iphigenia.]
[Footnote 3: Lucretius, I. 63.]
[Footnote 4: When we were ready to set out, our host muttered some words in the ears of our cattle. See a Voyage to the North of Europe in 1653.]
[Footnote 5: The Bramins expose their bodies to the intense heat of the sun.]
[Footnote 6: Ridens moriar. The conclusion of an old Runic ode.]
[Footnote 7: In the Bedas, or sacred writings of the Hindoos, it is written: "She, who dies with her husband, shall live for ever with him in heaven."]
[Footnote 8: The Fates of the Northern Mythology. See MALLET'S Antiquities.]
[Footnote 9: An allusion to the Second Sight.]
[Footnote 10: See that fine description of the sudden animation of the Palladium in the second book of the AEneid.]
[Footnote 11: The bull, Apis.]
[Footnote 12: The Crocodile.]
[Footnote 13: So numerous were the Deities of Egypt, that, according to an antient proverb, it was in that country less difficult to find a god than a man.]
[Footnote 14: The Hieroglyphics].
[Footnote 15: The Catacombs, in which the bodies of the earliest generations yet remain without corruption, by virtue of the gums that embalmed them.]
[Footnote 16: "The Persians," says Herodotus, "reject the use of temples, altars, and statues. The tops of the highest mountains are the places chosen for sacrifices." I. 131. The elements, and more particularly Fire, were the objects of their religious reverence.]
[Footnote 17: An imitation of some wonderful lines in the sixth AEneid.]
[Footnote 18: See Tacitus, 1. xiv. c. 29.]
[Footnote 19: This remarkable event happened at the siege and sack of Jerusalem, in the last year of the eleventh century. Hume, I.221.]
VERSES WRITTEN TO BE SPOKEN BY MRS. SIDDONS. [Footnote]
Yes, 'tis the pulse of life! my fears were vain! I wake, I breathe, and am myself again. Still in this nether world; no seraph yet! Nor walks my spirit, when the sun is set, With troubled step to haunt the fatal board, Where I died last—by poison or the sword; Blanching each honest cheek with deeds of night, Done here so oft by dim and doubtful light. —To drop all metaphor, that little bell Call'd back reality, and broke the spell. No heroine claims your tears with tragic tone; A very woman—scarce restrains her own! Can she, with fiction, charm the cheated mind, When to be grateful is the part assign'd? Ah, No! she scorns the trappings of her Art; No theme but truth, no prompter but the heart! But, Ladies, say, must I alone unmask? Is here no other actress? let me ask. Believe me, those, who best the heart dissect, Know every Woman studies stage-effect. She moulds her manners to the part she, fills, As Instinct teaches, or as Humour wills; And, as the grave or gay her talent calls, Acts in the drama, till the curtain falls. First, how her little breast with triumph swells, When the red coral rings its golden bells! To play in pantomime is then the rage, Along the carpet's many-colour'd stage; Or lisp her merry thoughts with loud endeavour, Now here, now there—in noise and mischief ever! A school-girl next, she curls her hair in papers, And mimics father's gout, and mother's vapours; Discards her doll, bribes Betty for romances; Playful at church, and serious when she dances; Tramples alike on customs and on toes, And whispers all she hears to all she knows; Terror of caps, and wigs, and sober notions! A romp! that longest of perpetual motions! —Till tam'd and tortur'd into foreign graces, She sports her lovely face at public places; And with blue, laughing eyes, behind her fan, First acts her part with that great actor, MAN. Too soon a flirt, approach her and she flies! Frowns when pursued, and, when entreated, sighs! Plays with unhappy men as cats with mice; Till fading beauty hints the late advice. Her prudence dictates what her pride disdain'd, And now she sues to slaves herself had chain'd! Then comes that good old character, a Wife, With all the dear, distracting cares of life; A thousand cards a day at doors to leave, And, in return, a thousand cards receive; Rouge high, play deep, to lead the ton aspire, With nightly blaze set PORTLAND-PLACE on fire; Snatch half a glimpse at Concert, Opera, Ball, A Meteor, trac'd by none, tho' seen by all; And, when her shatter'd nerves forbid to roam, In very spleen—rehearse the girls at home. Last the grey Dowager, in antient flounces, With snuff and spectacles the age denounces; Boasts how the Sires of this degenerate Isle Knelt for a look, and duell'd for a smile. The scourge and ridicule of Goth and Vandal, Her tea she sweetens, as she sips, with scandal; With modern Belles eternal warfare wages, Like her own birds that clamour from their cages; And shuffles round to bear her tale to all, Like some old Ruin, 'nodding to its fall!' Thus WOMAN makes her entrance and her exit; Not least an actress, when she least suspects it. Yet Nature oft peeps out and mars the plot, Each lesson lost, each poor pretence forgot; Full oft, with energy that scorns controul, At once lights up the features of the soul; Unlocks each thought chain'd by coward Art, And to full day the latent passions start! —And she, whose first, best wish is your applause, Herself exemplifies the truth she draws. Born on the stage—thro' every shifting scene, Obscure or bright, tempestuous or serene, Still has your smile her trembling spirit fir'd! And can she act, with thoughts like these inspir'd? Thus from her mind all artifice she flings, All skill, all practice, now unmeaning things! To you, uncheck'd, each genuine feeling flows; For all that life endears—to you she owes.
[Footnote: After a Tragedy, performed for her benefit, at the Theatre Royal in Drury-lane, April 27, 1795.]
To - - - - -
Go—you may call it madness, folly; You shall not chase my gloom away. There's such a charm in melancholy, I would not, if I could, be gay.
Oh, if you knew the pensive pleasure That fills my bosom when I sigh, You would not rob me of a treasure Monarchs are too poor to buy.
The Sailor sighs as sinks his native shore, As all its lessening turrets bluely fade; He climbs the mast to feast his eye once more, And busy Fancy fondly lends her aid.
Ah! now, each dear, domestic scene he knew, Recall'd and cherish'd in a foreign clime, Charms with the magic of a moonlight-view; Its colours mellow'd, not impair'd, by time,
True as the needle, homeward points his heart, Thro' all the horrors of the stormy main; This, the last wish that would with life depart, To meet the smile of her he loves again.
When Morn first faintly draws her silver line, Or Eve's grey cloud descends to drink the wave; When sea and sky in midnight darkness join, Still, still he views the parting look she gave.
Her gentle spirit, lightly hovering o'er, Attends his little bark from pole to pole; And, when the beating billows round him roar, Whispers sweet hope to sooth his troubled soul.
Carv'd is her name in many a spicy grove, In many a plaintain-forest, waving wide; Where dusky youths in painted plumage rove, And giant palms o'er-arch the golden tide.
But lo, at last he comes with crowded sail! Lo, o'er the cliff what eager figures bend! And hark, what mingled murmurs swell the gale! In each he hears the welcome of a friend.
—'Tis she, 'tis she herself! she waves her hand! Soon is the anchor cast, the canvass furl'd; Soon thro' the whitening surge he springs to land, And clasps the maid he singled from the world.
TO AN OLD OAK.
Immota manet; multosque nepotes, Multa virum volvens durando saecula, vincit. VIRG.
Round thee, alas, no shadows move! From thee no sacred murmurs breathe! Yet within thee, thyself a grove, Once did the eagle scream above, And the wolf howl beneath.
There once the steel-clad knight reclin'd, His sable plumage tempest-toss'd; And, as the death-bell smote the wind, From towers long fled by human kind, His brow the hero cross'd!
Then Culture came, and days serene, And village-sports, and garlands gay. Full many a pathway cross'd the green; And maids and shepherd-youths were seen, To celebrate the May.
Father of many a forest deep, (Whence many a navy thunder-fraught) Erst in their acorn-cells asleep, Soon destin'd o'er the world to sweep, Opening new spheres of thought!
Wont in the night of woods to dwell, The holy druid saw thee rise; And, planting there the guardian-spell, Sung forth, the dreadful pomp to swell Of human sacrifice!
Thy singed top and branches bare Now straggle in the evening sky; And the wan moon wheels round to glare On the long corse that shivers there Of him who came to die!
FRAGMENTS FROM EURIPIDES.
Dear is that valley to the murmuring bees. The small birds build there; and, at summer-noon, Oft have I heard a child, gay among flowers, As in the shining grass she sate conceal'd, Sing to herself.
* * * * *
There is a streamlet issuing from a rock. The village-girls, singing wild madrigals, Dip their white vestments in its waters clear, And hang them to the sun. There first I saw her. Her dark and eloquent eyes, mild, full of fire, 'Twas heav'n to look upon; and her sweet voice, As tuneable as harp of many strings, At once spoke joy and sadness to my soul!
TWO SISTERS. [Footnote]
Well may you sit within, and, fond of grief, Look in each other's face, and melt in tears. Well may you shun all counsel, all relief. Oh she was great in mind, tho' young in years!
Chang'd is that lovely countenance, which shed Light when she spoke; and kindled sweet surprise, As o'er her frame each warm emotion spread, Play'd round her lips, and sparkled in her eyes.
Those lips so pure, that mov'd but to persuade, Still to the last enliven'd and endear'd. Those eyes at once her secret soul convey'd, And ever beam'd delight when you appear'd.
Yet has she fled the life of bliss below, That youthful Hope in bright perspective drew? False were the tints! false as the feverish glow That o'er her burning cheek Distemper threw!
And now in joy she dwells, in glory moves! (Glory and joy reserv'd for you to share.) Far, far more blest in blessing those she loves, Than they, alas! unconscious of her care.
[Footnote: On the death of a younger sister.]
WRITTEN AT MIDNIGHT.
While thro' the broken pane the tempest sighs, And my step falters on the faithless floor, Shades of departed joys around me rise, With many a face that smiles on me no more; With many a voice that thrills of transport gave, Now silent as the grass that tufts their grave!
ON A TEAR.
Oh! that the Chemist's magic art Could crystallize this sacred treasure! Long should it glitter near my heart, A secret source of pensive pleasure.
The little brilliant, ere it fell, Its lustre caught from CHLOE'S eye; Then, trembling, left its coral cell— The spring of Sensibility!
Sweet drop of pure and pearly light! In thee the rays of Virtue shine; More calmly clear, more mildly bright, Than any gem that gilds the mine.
Benign restorer of the soul! Who ever fly'st to bring relief, When first we feel the rude controul Of Love or Pity, Joy or Grief.
The sage's and the poet's theme, In every clime, in every age; Thou charm'st in Fancy's idle dream, In Reason's philosophic page.
That very law [Footnote] which moulds a tear, And bids it trickle from its source, That law preserves the earth a sphere, And guides the planets in their course.
[Footnote: The law of Gravitation.]
TO A VOICE THAT HAD BEEN LOST. [Footnote 1]
Vane, quid affectas faciem mihi ponere, pictor? Aeris et lingua sum filia; Et, si vis similem pingere, pinge sonum. AUSONIUS.
Once more, Enchantress of the soul, Once more we hail thy soft controul. —Yet whither, whither did'st thou fly? To what bright region of the sky? Say, in what distant star to dwell? (Of other worlds thou seemst to tell) Or trembling, fluttering here below, Resolv'd and unresolv'd to go, In secret didst thou still impart Thy raptures to the Pure in heart? Perhaps to many a desert shore, Thee, in his rage, the Tempest bore; Thy broken murmurs swept along, Mid Echoes yet untun'd by song; Arrested in the realms of Frost, Or in the wilds of Ether lost. Far happier thou! 'twas thine to soar, Careering on the winged wind. Thy triumphs who shall dare explore? Suns and their systems left behind. No tract of space, no distant star, No shock of elements at war, Did thee detain. Thy wing of fire Bore thee amidst the Cherub-choir; And there awhile to thee 'twas giv'n Once more that Voice [Footnote 2] belov'd to join, Which taught thee first a flight divine, And nurs'd thy infant years with many a strain from Heav'n!
[Footnote 1: In the winter of 1805.]
[Footnote 2: The late Mrs. Sheridan's.]
FROM A GREEK EPIGRAM.
While on the cliff with calm delight she kneels, And the blue vales a thousand joys recall, See, to the last, last verge her infant steals! O fly—yet stir not, speak not, lest it fall. Far better taught, she lays her bosom bare, And the fond boy springs back to nestle there.