To Miss F. B.: On Her Asking For Mrs. B's Love And Time
Of Love and Time say what would Fanny know?
That Time is precious, and that Love is sweet?
That both, the choicest blessings lent below,
With gay Sixteen in envied union meet?
Time without Love is tasteless, dull, and cold,
Love out of Time will fond and doting prove;
To bright sixteen are all their treasures told,
Love suits the Time, and Time then favours Love.
No longer then of matron brows inquire
For sprightly Love, or swiftly-wasting Time;
Look but at home, you have what you require,—
With gay sixteen they both are in their prime.
As the poor schoolboy, when the slow-paced months
Have brought vacation times, and one by one
His playmates and companions all are fled
Or ready; and to him—to him alone
No summons comes; he left of all the train
Paces with lingering step the vacant halls,
No longer murmuring with the Muse's song,
And silent play-ground scattered wide around
With implements of sports, resounding once
With cheerful shouts; and hears no sound of wheels
To bear him to his father's bosom home;
For, conscious though he be of time misspent,
And heedless faults and much amiss, yet hopes
A father's pardon and a father's smile
Blessing his glad return……Thus I
Look to the hour when I shall follow those
That are at rest before me.
What Do The Futures Speak Of?
IN ANSWER TO A QUESTION IN THE GREEK GRAMMAR
They speak of never-withering shades,
And bowers of opening joy;
They promise mines of fairy gold,
And bliss without alloy.
They whisper strange enchanting things
Within Hope's greedy ears;
And sure this tuneful voice exceeds
The music of the spheres.
They speak of pleasure to the gay,
And wisdom to the wise;
And soothe the poet's beating heart
With fame that never dies.
To virgins languishing in love
They speak the minute nigh;
And warm consenting hearts they join,
And paint the rapture high.
In every language, every tongue,
The same kind things they say;
In gentle slumbers speak by night,
In waking dreams by day.
Cassandra's fate reversed is theirs;
She true, no faith could gain,—
They every passing hour deceive,
Yet are believed again.
To The Miss Websters
WITH DR. AIKIN'S “WISH,” WHICH THEY EXPRESSED A DESIRE TO HAVE A COPY OF
Not this the Wish in life's first, gayest page,
Becomes your opening years and golden prime;
Not these the hopes should your soft thoughts engage,
Whose buds of joy are yet uncropt by Time.
When blood begins to creep, when fled is youth,
And nature verges toward lethargic rest,
Gardens and groves the languid mind may soothe,
And fire-side comforts satisfy the breast.
For you, quick Fancy spreads her brightest stores,
Paints high the colour of each opening joy,
Enthusiastic hope to rapture soars,
And untried scenes the busy thoughts employ.
O may her soft enchantment late prolong
The fond romance of innocence and youth!
To elder life no happier hours belong,
No richer cordial dealt by hoary Truth.
Nor fear, while you the gaudy dream pursue,
Life's serious aim and sober joys to miss:
While fluttering pulses dance, and scenes are new,
Your Wish is transport, and your Hopes are bliss.
An Autumnal Thought
'Tis past! we breathe! assuaged at length
The flames that drank our vital strength!
Smote with intolerable heat
No more our throbbing temples beat.
How clear the sky, how pure the air,
The heavens how bright, the earth how fair!
The bosom cool, the spirits light,
Active the day, and calm the night!
But O, the swiftly shortening day!
Low in the west the sinking ray!
With rapid pace advancing still
“The morning hoar, the evening chill,”
The falling leaf, the fading year,
And Winter ambushed in the rear!
Thus, when the fervid Passions cool,
And Judgement, late, begins to rule;
When Reason mounts her throne serene,
And social Friendship gilds the scene;
When man, of ripened powers possest,
Broods o'er the treasures of his breast;
Exults, in conscious worth elate,
Lord of himself—almost of fate;
Then, then declines the' unsteady flame,
Disease, slow mining, saps the frame;
Cold damps of age around are shed,
That chill the heart, and cloud the head.
The failing spirits prompt no more,
The curtain drops, life's day is o'er.
--- The year has run
Its round of seasons, has fulfilled its course,
Absolved its destined period, and is borne,
Silent and swift, to that devouring gulf,
Their womb and grave, where seasons, months and years,
Revolving periods of uncounted time,
All merge, and are forgotten.—Thou alone,
In thy deep bosom burying all the past,
Still art; and still from thine exhaustless store
New periods spring, Eternity.—Thy name
Or glad, or fearful, we pronounce, as thoughts
Wandering in darkness shape thee. Thou strange being,
Which art and must be, yet which contradict'st
All sense, all reasoning,—thou, who never wast
Less than thyself, and who still art thyself
Entire, though the deep draught which Time has taken
Equals thy present store—No line can reach
To thy unfathomed depths. The reasoning sage
Who can dissect a sunbeam, count the stars,
And measure distant worlds, is here a child,
And, humbled, drops his calculating pen.
On and still onward flows the ceaseless tide,
And wrecks of empires and of worlds are borne
Like atoms on its bosom.—Still thou art
And he who does inhabit thee.
Life! I Know Not What Thou Art
LIFE! I know not what thou art,
But know that thou and I must part;
And when, or how, or where we met,
I own to me 's a secret yet.
But this I know, when thou art fled,
Where'er they lay these limbs, this head,
No clod so valueless shall be
As all that then remains of me.
O whither, whither dost thou fly?
Where bend unseen thy trackless course?
And in this strange divorce,
Ah, tell where I must seek this compound I?
To the vast ocean of empyreal flame
From whence thy essence came
Dost thou thy flight pursue, when freed
From matter's base encumbering weed?
Or dost thou, hid from sight,
Wait, like some spell-bound knight,
Through blank oblivious years th' appointed hour
To break thy trance and reassume thy power?
Yet canst thou without thought or feeling be?
O say, what art thou, when no more thou'rt thee?
Life! we have been long together,
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;
'Tis hard to part when friends are dear;
Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear;-
Then steal away, give little warning,
Choose thine own time;
Say not Good-night, but in some brighter clime
Bid me Good-morning!
On The Death Of Mrs. Jennings
'TIS past: dear venerable shade, farewel!
Thy blameless life thy peaceful death shall tell.
Clear to the last thy setting orb has run;
Pure, bright, and healthy like a frosty sun:
And late old age with hand indulgent shed
Its mildest winter on thy favour'd head.
For Heaven prolong'd her life to spread its praise,
And blest her with a Patriarch's length of days.
The truest praise was hers, a chearful heart,
Prone to enjoy, and ready to impart.
An Israelite indeed, and free from guile,
She show'd that piety and age could smile.
Religion had her heart, her cares, her voice;
'Twas her last refuge, as her earlieft choice.
To holy Anna's spirit not more dear
The church of Israel, and the house of prayer.
Her spreading offspring of the fourth degree
Fill'd her fond arms, and clasp'd her trembling knee.
Matur'd at length for some more perfect scene,
Her hopes all bright, her prospects all serene,
Each part of life sustain'd with equal worth,
And not a wish left unfulfill'd on earth,
Like a tir'd traveller with sleep opprest,
Within her childrens' arms she dropt to rest.
Farewell! thy cherish'd image, ever dear,
Shall many a heart with pious love revere:
Long, long shall mine her honour'd memory bless,
Who gave the dearest blessing I possess.
To Mr. Barbauld
NOVEMBER, 14, 1778.
Come, clear thy studious looks awhile,
'T is arrant treason now
To wear that moping brow,
When I, thy empress, bid thee smile.
What though the fading year
One wreath will not afford
To grace the poet's hair,
Or deck the festal board;
A thousand pretty ways we'll find
To mock old Winter's starving reign;
We'll bid the violets spring again,
Bid rich poetic roses blow,
Peeping above his heaps of snow;
We'll dress his withered cheeks in flowers,
And on his smooth bald head
Fantastic garlands bind:
Garlands, which we will get
From the gay blooms of that immortal year,
Above the turning seasons set,
Where young ideas shoot in Fancy's sunny bowers.
A thousand pleasant arts we'll have
To add new feathers to the wings of Time,
And make him smoothly haste away:
We'll use him as our slave,
And when we please we'll bid him stay,
And clip his wings, and make him stop to view
Our studies, and our follies too;
How sweet our follies are, how high our fancies climb.
We'll little care what others do,
And where they go, and what they say;
Our bliss, all inward and our own,
Would only tarnished be, by being shown.
The talking restless world shall see,
Spite of the world we'll happy be;
But none shall know
How much we 're so,
Save only Love, and we.
Inscription For An Ice-House
Stranger, approach! within this iron door
Thrice locked and bolted, this rude arch beneath
That vaults with ponderous stone the cell; confined
By man, the great magician, who controuls
Fire, earth and air, and genii of the storm,
And bends the most remote and opposite things
To do him service and perform his will,—
A giant sits; stern Winter; here he piles,
While summer glows around, and southern gales
Dissolve the fainting world, his treasured snows
Within the rugged cave.—Stranger, approach!
He will not cramp thy limbs with sudden age,
Nor wither with his touch the coyest flower
That decks thy scented hair. Indignant here,
Like fettered Sampson when his might was spent
In puny feats to glad the festive halls
Of Gaza's wealthy sons; or he who sat
Midst laughing girls submiss, and patient twirled
The slender spindle in his sinewy grasp;
The rugged power, fair Pleasure's minister,
Exerts his art to deck the genial board;
Congeals the melting peach, the nectarine smooth,
Burnished and glowing from the sunny wall:
Darts sudden frost into the crimson veins
Of the moist berry; moulds the sugared hail:
Cools with his icy breath our flowing cups;
Or gives to the fresh dairy's nectared bowls
A quicker zest. Sullen he plies his task,
And on his shaking fingers counts the weeks
Of lingering Summer, mindful of his hour
To rush in whirlwinds forth, and rule the year.
On The Death Of Princess Charlotte
Yes, Britain mourns, as with electric touch,
For youth, for love, for happiness destroyed,
Her universal population melts
In grief spontaneous, and hard hearts are moved,
And rough unpolished natures learn to feel
For those they envied, leveled in the dust
By Fate's impartial stroke; and pulpits sound
With vanity and woe to earthly goods,
And urge and dry the tear.—Yet one there is
Who midst this general burst of grief remains
In strange tranquillity; whom not the stir
And long-drawn murmurs of the gathering crowd,
That by his very windows trail the pomp
Of hearse, and blazoned arms, and long array
Of sad funereal rites, nor the loud groans
And deep-felt anguish of a husband's heart,
Can move to mingle with this flood one tear:
In careless apathy, perhaps in mirth,
He wears the day. Yet is he near in blood,
The very stem on which this blossom grew,
And at his knees she fondled in the charm
And grace spontaneous which alone belongs
To untaught infancy:—Yet O forbear!
Nor deem him hard of heart; for awful, struck
By Heaven's severest visitation, sad,
Like a scathed oak amidst the forest trees,
Lonely he stands;—leaves bud, and shoot, and fall;
He holds no sympathy with living nature
Or time's incessant change. Then in this hour,
While pensive thought is busy with the woes
And restless change of poor humanity,
Think then, O think of him, and breathe one prayer,
From the full tide of sorrow spare one tear,
For him who does not weep!
Farewell the softer hours, Spring's opening blush
And Summer's deeper glow, the shepherd's pipe
Tuned to the murmurs of a weeping spring,
And song of birds, and gay enameled fields,—
Farewell! 'T is now the sickness of the year,
Not to be medicined by the skillful hand.
Pale suns arise that like weak kings behold
Their predecessor's empire moulder from them;
While swift-increasing spreads the black domain
Of melancholy Night;—no more content
With equal sway, her stretching shadows gain
On the bright morn, and cloud the evening sky.
Farewell the careless lingering walk at eve,
Sweet with the breath of kine and new-spread hay;
And slumber on a bank, where the lulled youth,
His head on flowers, delicious languor feels
Creep in the blood. A different season now
Invites a different song. The naked trees
Admit the tempest; rent is Nature's robe;
Fast, fast, the blush of Summer fades away
From her wan cheek, and scarce a flower remains
To deck her bosom; Winter follows close,
Pressing impatient on, and with rude breath
Fans her discoloured tresses. Yet not all
Of grace and beauty from the falling year
Is torn ungenial. Still the taper fir
Lifts its green spire, and the dark holly edged
With gold, and many a strong perennial plant,
Yet cheer the waste: nor does yon knot of oaks
Resign its honours to the infant blast.
This is the time, and these the solemn walks,
When inspiration rushes o'er the soul
Sudden, as through the grove the rustling breeze.
On The Death Of Mrs. Martineau, Senr.
Ye who around this venerated bier
In pious anguish pour the tender tear,
Mourn not!—'Tis Virtue's triumph, Nature's doom,
When honoured Age, slow bending to the tomb,
Earth's vain enjoyments past, her transient woes,
Tastes the long sabbath of well-earned repose.
No blossom here, in vernal beauty shed,
No lover lies, warm from the nuptial bed;
Here rests “the full of days,”—each task fulfilled,
Each wish accomplished, and each passion stilled.
You raised her languid head, caught her last breath,
And cheered with looks of love the couch of death.
Yet mourn!—for sweet the filial sorrows flow,
When fond affection prompts the gush of woe;
No bitter drop, 'midst nature's kind relief,
Sheds gall into the fountain of your grief;
No tears you shed for patient love abused,
And counsel scorned, and kind restraints refused;
Not yours the pang the conscious bosom wrings,
When late Remorse inflicts her fruitless stings.
Living you honoured her, you mourn for dead;
Her God you worship, and her path you tread:
Your sighs shall aid reflection's serious hour,
And cherished virtues bless the kindly shower:
On the loved theme your lips unblamed shall dwell;
Your lives, more eloquent, her worth shall tell.—
Long may that worth, fair Virtue's heritage,
From race to race descend, from age to age!
Still purer with transmitted lustre shine,
The treasured birthright of the spreading line!
—For me, as o'er the frequent grave I bend,
And pensive down the vale of years descend;—
Companions, parents, kindred called to mourn,
Dropt from my side, or from my bosom torn;
A boding voice, methinks, in Fancy's ear
Speaks from the tomb, and cries “Thy friends are here!”
On The King's Illness
Rest, rest, afflicted spirit, quickly pass
Thine hour of bitter suffering! Rest awaits thee,
There, where, the load of weary life laid down,
The peasant and the king repose together:
There peaceful sleep, thy quiet grave bedewed
With tears of those who loved thee. Not for thee,
In the dark chambers of the nether world,
Shall spectre kings rise from their burning thrones
And point the vacant seat, and scoffing say,
Art thou become like us?—O not for thee!
For thou hadst human feelings, and hast lived
A man with men; and kindly charities,
Even such as warm the cottage hearth, were thine.
And therefore falls the tear from eyes not used
To gaze on kings with admiration fond.
And thou hast knelt at meek Religion's shrine
With no mock homage, and hast owned her rights
Sacred in every breast: and therefore rise,
Affectionate, for thee, the orisons
And mingled prayers, alike from vaulted domes
Whence the loud organ peals, and raftered roofs
Of humbler worship.—Still remembering this,
A nation's pity and a nation's love
Linger beside thy couch, in this the day
Of thy sad visitation, veiling faults
Of erring judgement, and not will perverse.
Yet, O that thou hadst closed the wounds of war!
That had been praise to suit a higher strain.
Farewell the years rolled down the gulf of time!
Thy name has chronicled a long bright page
Of England's story; and perhaps the babe
Who opens, as thou closest thine, his eyes
On this eventful world, when aged grown,
Musing on times gone by, shall sigh and say,
Shaking his thin grey hairs, whitened with grief,
Our fathers' days were happy. Fare thee well!
My thread of life has even run with thine
For many a lustre; and thy closing day
I contemplate, not mindless of my own,
Nor to its call reluctant.
To Miss R.: On Her Attendance On Her Mother At Buxton
When blooming beauty in the noon of power,
While offered joys demand each sprightly hour,
With all that pomp of charms and winning mien
Which sure to conquer needs but to be seen;
When she, whose name the softest love inspires,
To the hushed chamber of Disease retires,
To watch and weep beside a parent's bed,
Catch the faint voice, and raise the languid head,
What mixt delight each feeling heart must warm!—
An angel's office suits an angel's form.
Thus the tall column graceful rears its head
To prop some mouldering tower with moss o'erspread,
Whose stately piles and arches yet display
The venerable graces of decay:
Thus round the withered trunk fresh shoots are seen
To shade their parent with a cheerful green.
More health, dear maid! thy soothing presence brings
Than purest skies, or salutary springs.
That voice, those looks such healing virtues bear,
Thy sweet reviving smiles might cheer despair;
On the pale lips detain the parting breath,
And bid hope blossom in the shades of death.
Beauty, like thine, could never reach a charm
So powerful to subdue, so sure to warm.
On her loved child behold the mother gaze,
In weakness pleased, and smiling through decays,
And leaning on that breast her cares assuage;—
How soft a pillow for declining age!
For this, when that fair frame must feel decay,—
Ye Fates protract it to a distant day,—
When thy approach no tumults shall impart,
Nor that commanding glance strike through the heart,
When meaner beauties shall have leave to shine,
And crowds divide the homage lately thine,
Not with the transient praise those charms can boast
Shall thy fair fame and gentle deeds be lost:
Some pious hand shall thy weak limbs sustain,
And pay thee back these generous cares again;
Thy name shall flourish, by the good approved,
Thy memory honoured, and thy dust beloved,
Beauty Of Insects
Observe the insect race, ordain'd to keep
The lazy Sabbath of a half-year's sleep.
Entomb'd beneath the filmy web they lie,
And wait the influence of a kinder sky.
When vernal sunbeams pierce their dark retreat,
The heaving tomb distends with vital heat;
The full-form'd brood, impatient of their cell,
Start from their trance, and burst their silken shell
Trembling awhile they stand, and scarcely dare
To launch at once upon the untried air.
At length assured, they catch the favouring gale,
And leave their sordid spoils and high in ether sail.
Lo! the bright train their radiant wings unfold,
With silver fringed, and freckled o'er with gold.
On the gay bosom of some fragrant flower,
They, idly fluttering, live their little hour;
Their life all pleasure, and their task all play,
All spring their age, and sunshine all their day.
Not so the child of sorrow, wretched man;
His course with toil concludes, with pain began,
That his high destiny he might discern,
And in misfortune's school this lesson learn -
Pleasure's the portion of the inferior kind;
But glory, virtue, heaven for man design'd.
What atom forms of insect life appear!
And who can follow nature's pencil here?
Their wings with azure, green, and purple gloss'd,
Studded with colour'd eyes, with gems emboss'd,
Inlaid with pearl, and mark'd with various stains
Of lively crimson, through their dusky veins.
Some shoot like living stars athwart the night,
And scatter from their wings a vivid light,
To guide the Indian to his tawny loves,
As through the woods with cautious step he moves.
See the proud giant of the beetle race,
With shining arms his polish'd limbs enchase!
Like some stern warrior formidably bright,
His steely sides reflect a gleaming light;
On his large forehead spreading horns he wears,
And high in air the branching antlers bears;
O'er many an inch extends his wide domain,
And his rich treasury swells with hoarded grain.
Prologue To A Drama
PERFORMED BY A FAMILY PARTY ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF MR. AND MRS. C.'S MARRIAGE
“To wake the soul by tender strokes of art,
To raise the genius, and to mend the heart,”—
Hold, hold! that's not my cue, we 've no intention
By “tender strokes” to sharpen girls' invention:
The soul will waken time enough, ne'er fear;
No lines shall rouse the slumbering passions here.
O! ever sacred be the deep repose
Which Youth, on Innocence' pure bosom, knows;
Before a wish, a throb, a care, have taught
The pangs of feeling or the lines of thought.
O happy period! soon to pass away,
Soon will the swelling gales assert their sway,
And drive the vessel from the sheltered port,—
O guide it Heaven!—of winds and waves the sport.
Nor yet “to raise the genius” is our aim,
With Shakespear's high-wrought scenes and words of flame.
A little story, drawn from fairy lore,
A nursery tale, this evening we explore:
“To mend the heart,” indeed, we mean to try,
And show what poison lurks in flattery.
'Tis true our hero was a prince—what then!
Believe me, Flattery stoops to common men.
A little dose, made up with skill and care,
A grain or two of incense, all can bear:
'Tis life's first rule,—by complaisance we live;
All flatter all, and to receive we give.
Myself, for instance, am sent here tonight
With soothing speech your favour to invite;
And when our piece is done, perhaps e'en you,
My gentle auditors, may flatter too,
And make us boast our talents and our skill,
When all the merit is in your good will.
But there's a theme which asks a verse this day,
Where Flattery has no power her tints to lay;
This hallowed day, in Hymen's golden bands
Which joined consenting hearts and willing hands.
How many years ago should any ask,
Look round,—to count them is an easy task;
Each tiptoe girl, and each aspiring boy,
Date, as they pass, the years of love and joy.
O happy state! where blessings number years,
And smiles are only quenched in more delicious tears.
Here, should my willing lips the theme pursue,
And draw the lovely scene in colours due,
Paint the well-ordered home, the sacred seat
Where social joys and active virtues meet;
These wield in love, and those in love obey
The peaceful sceptre of domestic sway;
Where sparkling Fancy weaves her airy dream,
And Science sheds around her steady beam,—
Each answering heart the faithful sketch would own,
And glow with feelings raised by truth alone.
To The Baron Destonne
WHO HAD WISHED AT THE NEXT TRANSIT OF MERCURY TO FIND HIMSELF AGAIN BETWEEN MRS. LA BORDE AND MRS. B.
In twice five winters more and one,
Hermes again will cross the Sun;
Again a dusky spot appear,
Slow-journeying o'er his splendid sphere:
The stars shall slide into their places,
Exhibiting the self-same faces,
And in the like position fix
As Thursday morning, eighty-six.
But changing mortals hope in vain
Their lost position more to gain;—
Once more between La Borde and me!—
Ah, wish not what will never be!
For wandering planets have their rules,
Well known in astronomic schools;
But life's swift wheels will ne'er turn back,
When once they've measured o'er their track.
Eleven years,—twice five and one,—
Is a long hour in Beauty's sun:
Those years will pilfer many a grace
Which decks La Borde's enchanting face;
The little Loves which round her fly,
Will moult the wing, and droop, and die:
And I, grown dull, my lyre unstrung
In some old chimney corner hung,
Gay scenes of Paris all forgot,
Shall rust within my silent cot:
Life's summer ended, and life's spring,
Nor she shall charm, nor I shall sing.
Even Cook, upon whose blooming brow
The youthful graces open now,
Eleven years may vastly change:
No more the Provinces he'll range;
No more with humid eyes entreat,
And wait his doom at Beauty's feet;
Married and grave, he'll spend his time
Far from the idleness of rime;
Forgetting oranges and myrtle,
Will drink his port and eat his turtle;
Perhaps with country justice sit,
And turn his back on thee and Wit.
For thee, my friend, whose copious vein
Pours forth at will the polished strain,
With every talent formed to please,
Each fair idea quick to seize;—
Who knows within so long a space
What scenes the present may efface,
What course thy stream of life may take,
What winds may curl, what storms may shake,
What varying colours, gay or grave,
Shall tinge by turns the passing wave;
Of objects on its banks what swarms—
The loftier or the fairer forms—
Shall glide before the liquid glass,
And print their image as they pass?
Let Fancy then and Friendship stray
In Pleasure's flowery walks today,
Today improve the social hours,
And build today the Muse's bowers;
And when life's pageant on will go,
Try not to stop the passing show;
But give to scenes that once were dear,
A sigh, a farewell, and a tear.
Epistle To Dr. Enfield
ON HIS REVISITING WARRINGTON IN 1789
Friend of those years which from Youth's sparkling fount
With silent lapse down Time's swift gulf have run!
Friend of the years, whate'er be their amount,
Which yet remain beneath life's evening sun!
O when thy feet retrace that western shore
Where Mersey winds his waters to the main,
When thy fond eyes familiar haunts explore,
And paths well-nigh effaced are tracked again;
Will not thy heart with mixed emotions thrill,
As scenes succeeding scenes arise to view?
While joy or sorrow past alike shall fill
Thy glistening eyes with Feeling's tender dew.
Shades of light transient Loves shall pass thee by,
And glowing Hopes, and Sports of youthful vein;
And each shall claim one short, half pleasing sigh,
A farewell sigh to Love's and Fancy's reign.
Lo there the seats where Science loved to dwell,
Where Liberty her ardent spirit breathed;
While each glad Naiad from her secret cell
Her native sedge with classic honours wreathed.
O seats beloved in vain! Your rising dome
With what fond joy my youthful eyes surveyed;
Pleased by your sacred springs to find my home,
And tune my lyre beneath your growing shade!
Does Desolation spread his gloomy veil
Your grass-grown courts and silent halls along?
Or busy hands there pile the cumbrous sail,
And Trade's harsh din succeed the Muse's song?
Yet still, perhaps, in some sequestered walk
Thine ear shall catch the tales of other times;
Still in faint sounds the learned echoes talk,
Where unprofaned as yet by vulgar chimes.
Do not the deeply-wounded trees still bear
The dear memorial of some infant flame?
And murmuring sounds yet fill the hallowed air,
Once vocal to the youthful poet's fame?
For where her sacred step impressed the Muse,
She left a long perfume through all the bowers;
Still mayst thou gather thence Castalian dews
In honeyed sweetness clinging to the flowers.
Shrowded in stolen glance, here timorous Love
The grave rebuke of careful Wisdom drew,
With wholesome frown austere who vainly strove
To shield the sliding heart from Beauty's view.
Go fling this garland in fair Mersey's stream,
From the true lovers that have trod his banks;
Say, Thames to Avon still repeats his theme;
Say, Hymen's captives send their votive thanks.
Visit each shade and trace each weeping rill
To holy Friendship or to Fancy known,
And climb with zealous step the fir-crowned hill,
Where purple foxgloves fringe the rugged stone:
And if thou seest on some neglected spray
The lyre which soothed my careless hours so much;
The shattered relic to my hands convey,—
The murmuring strings shall answer to thy touch.
Were it, like thine, my lot once more to tread
Plains now but seen in distant perspective,
With that soft hue, that dubious gloom o'erspread,
That tender tint which only time can give;
How would it open every secret cell
Where cherished thought and fond remembrance sleep!
How many a tale each conscious step would tell!
How many a parted friend these eyes would weep!
But O the chief!—If in thy feeling breast
The tender charities of life reside,
If there domestic love have built her nest,
And thy fond heart a parent's cares divide;
Go seek the turf where worth, where wisdom lies,
Wisdom and worth, ah, never to return!
There, kneeling, weep my tears, and breathe my sighs,
A daughter's sorrows o'er her father's urn!
The Origin Of Song Writing
WHEN Cupid, wanton boy, was young,
His wings unfledg'd, and rude his tongue,
He loiter'd in Arcadian bowers,
And hid his bow in wreaths of flowers;
Or pierc'd some fond unguarded heart,
With now and then a random dart;
But heroes scorned the idle boy,
And love was but a shepherd's toy:
When Venus, vex'd to see her child
Amidst the forests thus run wild,
Would point him out some nobler game,
Gods, and godlike men to tame.
She seiz'd the boy's reluctant hand,
And led them to the virgin band,
Where the sister muses round
Swell the deep majestic sound;
And in solemn strains unite,
Breathing chaste, severe delight:
Songs of chiefs, and heroes old,
In unsubmitting virtue bold;
Of even valour's temperate heat,
And toils to stubborn patience sweet;
Of nodding plumes, and burnish'd arms,
And glory's bright terrific charms.
The potent sounds like light'ning dart
Resistless thro' the glowing heart;
Of power to lift the fixed soul
High o'er fortune's proud controul;
Kindling deep, prophetic musing;
Love of beauteous death infusing;
Scorn, and unconquerable hate
Of tyrant pride's unhallow'd state.
The boy abash'd, and half afraid,
Beheld each chaste immortal maid:
Pallas spread her Egis there;
Mars stood by with threat'ning air;
And stern Diana's icy look
With sudden chill his bosom struck.
Daughters of Jove receive the child,
The queen of beauty said, and smil'd:
(Her rosy breath perfum'd the air,
And scatter'd sweet contagion there;
Relenting nature learnt to languish,
And sicken'd with delightful anguish; )
Receive him, artless yet and young;
Refine his air and smooth his tongue;
Conduct him thro' your fav'rite bowers,
Enrich'd with fair perennial flowers,
To solemn shades and springs that lie
Remote from each unhallow'd eye;
Teach him to spell those mystic names
That kindle bright immortal flames;
And guide his young unpractis'd feet
To reach coy learning's lofty seat.
Ah, luckless hour! mistaken maids!
When Cupid sought the Muses shades :
Of their sweetest notes beguil'd,
By the sly insidious child,
Now of power his darts are found
Twice ten thousand times to wound.
Now no more the slacken'd strings
Breathe of high immortal things,
But Cupid tunes the Musis lyre,
To languid notes of soft desire:
In every clime, in every tongue,
'Tis love inspires the poet's song.
Hence Sappho's soft infectious page;
Monimia's woe; Othello's rage;
Abandon'd Dido's fruitless prayer;
And Eloisa's long despair;
The garland bless'd with many a vow,
For haughty Sacharissa's brow;
And wash'd with tears the mournful verse
That Petrarch laid on Laura's herse.
But more than all the sister quire,
Music confess'd the pleasing fire.
Here sovereign Cupid reign'd alone;
Music and song were all his own.
Sweet as in old Arcadian plains,
The British pipe has caught the strains:
And where the Tweed's pure current glides,
Or Lissy rolls her limpid tides,
Or Thames his oozy waters leads
Thro' rural bowers or yellow meads,
With many an old romantic tale
Has cheer'd the lone sequester'd vale;
With many a sweet and tender lay
Deceiv'd the tiresome summer-day.
'Tis yours to cull with happy art
Each meaning verse that speaks the heart;
And fair array'd, in order meet,
To lay the wreath at beauty's feet.
Delia, An Elegy
YES, DELIA loves! My fondest vows are blest;
Farewel the memory of her past disdain;
One kind relenting glance has heal'd my breast,
And balanc'd in a moment years of pain.
O'er her soft cheek consenting blushes move,
And with kind stealth her secret soul betray;
Blushes, which usher in the morn of love,
Sure as the red'ning east foretells the day.
Her tender smiles shall pay me with delight
For many a bitter pang of jealous fear;
For many an anxious day, and sleepless night,
For many a stifled sigh, and silent tear.
DELIA shall come, and bless my lone retreat;
She does not scorn the shepherd's lowly life;
She will not blush to leave the splendid seat,
And own the title of a poor man's wife.
The simple knot shall bind her gather'd hair,
The russet garment clasp her lovely breast:
DELIA shall mix amongst the rural fair,
By charms alone distinguish'd from the rest.
And meek Simplicity, neglected maid,
Shall bid my fair in native graces shine:
She, only she, shall lend her modest aid,
Chaste, sober priestess, at sweet beauty's shrine!
How sweet to muse by murmuring springs reclin'd;
Or loitering careless in the shady grove,
Indulge the gentlest feelings of the mind,
And pity those who live to aught but love!
When DELIA's hand unlocks her shining hair,
And o'er her shoulder spreads the flowing gold,
Base were the man who one bright tress would spare
For all the ore of India's coarser mold.
By her dear side with what content I'd toil,
Patient of any labour in her sight;
Guide the slow plough, or turn the stubborn soil,
Till the last, ling'ring beam of doubtful light.
But softer tasks divide my DELIA's hours;
To watch the firstlings at their harmless play;
With welcome shade to screen the languid flowers,
That sicken in the summer's parching ray.
Oft will she stoop amidst her evening walk,
With tender hand each bruised plant to rear;
To bind the drooping lily's broken stalk,
And nurse the blossoms of the infant year.
When beating rains forbid our feet to roam,
We'll shelter'd sit, and turn the storied page;
There see what passions shake the lofty dome
With mad ambition or ungovern'd rage:
What headlong ruin oft involves the great;
What conscious terrors guilty bosoms prove;
What strange and sudden turns of adverse fate
Tear the sad virgin from her plighted love.
DELIA shall read, and drop a gentle tear;
Then cast her eyes around the low-roof'd cot,
And own the fates have dealt more kindly here,
That blest with only love our little lot.
For love has sworn (I heard the awful vow)
The wav'ring heart shall never be his care,
That stoops at any baser shrine to bow :
And what he cannot rule, he scorns to share.
My heart in DELIA is so fully blest,
It has not room to lodge another joy;
My peace all leans upon that gentle breast,
And only there misfortune can annoy.
Our silent hours shall steal unmark'd away
In one long tender calm of rural peace;
And measure many a fair unblemish'd day
Of chearful leisure and poetic ease.
The proud unfeeling world their lot shall scorn
Who 'midst inglorious shades can poorly dwell:
Yet if some youth, for gentler passions born,
Shall chance to wander near our lowly cell,
His feeling breast with purer flames shall glow;
And leaving pomp, and state, and cares behind,
Shall own the world has little to bestow
Where two fond hearts in equal love are join'd.
To Love And Time
TO MRS. MULSO.
On Stella's brow as lately envious Time
His crooked lines with iron pencil traced,
That brow, erewhile like ivory tablets smooth,
With Love's high trophies hung, and victories graced,
Digging him little caves in every cell,
And every dimple, once where Love was wont to dwell;
He spied the God: and wondered still to spy,
Who higher held his torch in Time's despite;
Nor seemed to care for aught that he could do.
Then sternly thus he sought him thence to' affright:
The sovereign boy entrenched in a smile,
At his sour crabbed speech sat mocking all the while.
“What dost thou here, fond boy? Away, for shame!
Mine is this field, by conquest fairly won;
Love cannot reap his joys where Time has ploughed,
Thou and thy light-winged troop should now begone.
Go revel with fresh Youth in scenes of folly,
Sage Thought I bring, and Care, and pale-eyed Melancholy.
“Thy streams are froze, that once so briskly ran,
Thy bough is shaken by the mellow year;
Boreas and Zephyr dwell not in one cave,
And swallows spread their wings when winter's near;
See where Florella's cheeks soft bloom disclose,
Go seek the springing bud, and leave the faded rose.”
Thus spake old Time, of Love the deadliest foe,—
Ah me, that gentle Love such foes should meet!
But nothing daunted he returned again,
Tempering with looks austere his native sweet;
And, “Fool!” said he, “to think I e'er shall fly
From that rich palace where my choicest treasures lie.
“Dost thou not see,—or art thou blind with age,—
How many Graces on her eyelids sit,
Linking those viewless chains that bind the soul,
And sharpening smooth discourse with pointed wit;
How many where she moves attendant wait,
The slow smooth step inspire, or high commanding gait?
“Each one a several charm around her throws,
Some to attract, some powerful to repell,
Some mix the honeyed speech with winning smiles,
Or call wild Laughter from his antic cell;
Severer some, to strike with awful fear
Each rude licentious tongue that wounds the virtuous ear.
“Not one of them is of thy scythe in dread,
Or for thy cankered malice careth aught,
Thy shaking fingers never can untwist
The magic cæstus by their cunning wrought;
And I, their knight, their bidding must obey,
For where the Graces are, will Love for ever stay.
“In my rich fields now boast the ravage done,
Those lesser spoils,—her brow, her cheek, her hair,
All that the touches of decay can feel,—
Take these, she has enough besides to spare;
I cannot thee dislodge, nor shalt thou me,
So thou and I, old Time, perforce must once agree.
“Nor is the boasted ravage all thine own,
Nor was the field by conquest fairly gained;
For leagued with Sickness, Life and Nature's foe,
That fiend accurst thy savage wars maintained;
His hand the furrows sunk where thou didst plough,
He undermined the tree, where thou didst shake the bough.
“But both unite, for both I here defy;
Spoil ye have made, but have no triumphs won;
And though the daffodil more freshly blooms,
Spreading her gay leaves to the morning sun,
Yet never will I leave the faded rose,
Whilst the pale lovely flower such sweetness still bestows.”
This said, exulting Cupid clapped his wings.
The sullen power, who found his rage restrained,
And felt the strong controul of higher charms,
Shaking his glass, vowed while the sands would run
For many a year the strife should be maintained:
But Jove decreed no force should Love destroy,
Nor time should quell the might of that immortal boy.
The First Fire
OCTOBER 1st, 1815.
Ha, old acquaintance! many a month has past
Since last I viewed thy ruddy face; and I,
Shame on me! had mean time well nigh forgot
That such a friend existed. Welcome now!—
When summer suns ride high, and tepid airs
Dissolve in pleasing languor; then indeed
We think thee needless, and in wanton pride
Mock at thy grim attire and sooty jaws,
And breath sulphureous, generating spleen,—
As Frenchmen say; Frenchmen, who never knew
The sober comforts of a good coal fire.
—Let me imbibe thy warmth, and spread myself
Before thy shrine adoring:—magnet thou
Of strong attraction, daily gathering in
Friends, brethren, kinsmen, variously dispersed,
All the dear charities of social life,
To thy close circle. Here a man might stand,
And say, This is my world! Who would not bleed
Rather than see thy violated hearth
Prest by a hostile foot? The winds sing shrill;
Heap on the fuel! Not the costly board,
Nor sparkling glass, nor wit, nor music, cheer
Without thy aid. If thrifty thou dispense
Thy gladdening influence, in the chill saloon
The silent shrug declares the' unpleased guest.
—How grateful to belated traveller
Homeward returning, to behold the blaze
From cottage window, rendering visible
The cheerful scene within! There sits the sire,
Whose wicker chair, in sunniest nook enshrined,
His age's privilege,—a privilege for which
Age gladly yields up all precedence else
In gay and bustling scenes,—supports his limbs.
Cherished by thee, he feels the grateful warmth
Creep through his feeble frame and thaw the ice
Of fourscore years, and thoughts of youth arise.
—Nor less the young ones press within, to see
Thy face delighted, and with husk of nuts,
Or crackling holly, or the gummy pine,
Feed thy immortal hunger: cheaply pleased
They gaze delighted, while the leaping flames
Dart like an adder's tongue upon their prey;
Or touch with lighted reed thy wreaths of smoke;
Or listen, while the matron sage remarks
Thy bright blue scorching flame and aspect clear,
Denoting frosty skies. Thus pass the hours,
While Winter spends without his idle rage.
—Companion of the solitary man,
From gayer scenes withheld! With thee he sits,
Converses, moralizes; musing asks
How many æras of uncounted time
Have rolled away since thy black unctuous food
Was green with vegetative life, and what
This planet then: or marks, in sprightlier mood,
Thy flickering smiles play round the' illumined room,
And fancies gay discourse, life, motion, mirth,
And half forgets he is a lonely creature.
—Nor less the bashful poet loves to sit
Snug, at the midnight hour, with only thee
Of his lone musings conscious. Oft he writes,
And blots, and writes again; and oft, by fits,
Gazes intent with eyes of vacancy
On thy bright face; and still at intervals,
Dreading the critic's scorn, to thee commits,
Sole confidant and safe, his fancies crude.
—O wretched he, with bolts and massy bars
In narrow cell immured, whose green damp walls,
That weep unwholesome dews, have never felt
Thy purifying influence! Sad he sits
Day after day, till in his youthful limbs
Life stagnates, and the hue of hope is fled
From his wan cheek.—And scarce less wretched he—
When wintry winds blow loud and frosts bite keen,—
The dweller of the clay-built tenement,
Poverty-struck, who, heartless, strives to raise
From sullen turf, or stick plucked from the hedge,
The short-lived blaze; while chill around him spreads
The dreary fen, and Ague, sallow-faced,
Stares through the broken pane;—Assist him, ye
On whose warm roofs the sun of plenty shines,
And feel a glow beyond material fire!
The Groans Of The Tankard
OF strange events I sing, and portents dire;
The wond'rous themes a reverent ear require;
Tho' strange the tale, the faithful Muse believe,
And what she says with pious awe receive.
'Twas at the solemn, silent, noon-tide hour,
When hunger rages with despotic power,
When the lean student quits his Hebrew roots
For the gross nourishment of English fruits,
And throws unfinish'd airy systems by
For solid pudding and substantial pye,
When hungry poets the glad summons own,
And leave spare fast to dine with Gods alone;
Our sober meal dispatch'd with silent haste,
The decent grace concludes the short repast:
Then urg'd by thirst we cast impatient eyes
Where deep, capacious, vast, of ample size,
The tankard stood, replenish'd to the brink
With the cool beverage blue-ey'd Naiads drink.
But lo! a sudden prodigy appears,
And our chill'd hearts recoil with startling fears;
Its yawning mouth disclos'd the deep profound,
And in low murmurs breath'd a sullen sound;
Cold drops of dew did on the sides appear;
No finger touch'd it, and no hand was near;
At length th' indignant vase its silence broke,
First heav'd deep hollow groans, and then distinctly spoke.
'How chang'd the scene! for what unpardon'd crimes
'Have I surviv'd to these degenerate times?
'I, who was wont the festal board to grace,
'And midst the circle lift my honest face,
'White o'er with froth, like Etna crown'd with snow,
'Which mantled o'er the brown abyss below,
'Where Ceres mingled with her golden store
'The richer spoils of either India's shore,
'The dulcet reed the Western islands boast,
'And spicy fruit from Banda's fragrant coast.
'At solemn feasts the nectar'd draught I pour'd,
'And often journey'd round the ample board:
'The portly Alderman, the stately Mayor,
'And all the furry tribe my worth declare;
'And the keen Sportsman oft, his labours done,
'To me retreating with the setting sun,
'Deep draughts imbib'd, and conquere'd land and sea,
'And overthrew the pride of France by me.
'Let meaner clay contain the limpid wave,
'The clay for such an office nature gave;
'Let China's earth, enrich'd with colour'd stains,
'Pencil'd with gold, and streak'd with azure veins,
'The grateful flavour of the Indian leaf,
'Or Mocho's sunburnt berry glad receive;
'The nobler metal claims more generous use,
'And mine should flow with more exalted juice.
'Did I for this my native bed resign,
'From the dark bowels of Potosi's mine?
'Was I for this with violence torn away,
'And drag'd to regions of the upper day?
'For this the rage of torturing furnace bore,
'From foreign dross to purge the bright'ning ore?
'For this have I endur'd the fiery test,
'And was I stamp'd for this with Britain's lofty crest?
'Unblest the day, and luckless was the hour
'Which doom'd me to a Presbyterian's power;
'Fated to serve the Puritanick race,
'Whose slender meal is shorter than their grace;
'Whose moping sons no jovial orgies keep;
'Where evening brings no summons but to sleep;
'No Carnival is even Christmas here,
'And one long Lent involves the meagre year.
'Bear me, ye pow'rs! to some more genial scene,
'Where on soft cushions lolls the gouty Dean,
'Or rosy Prebend, with cherubic face,
'With double chin, and paunch of portly grace,
'Who lull'd in downy slumbers shall agree
'To own no inspiration but from me.
'Or to some spacious mansion, Gothic, old,
'Where Comus sprightly train their vigils hold;
'There oft exhausted, and replenish'd oft,
'Oh! let me still supply th' eternal draught;
'Till care within the deep abyss be drown'd,
'And thought grows giddy at the vast profound.'
More had the goblet spoke, but lo ! appears
An ancient Sybil furrow'd o'er with years;
Her aspect sour, and stern ungracious look
With sudden damp the conscious vessel struck;
Chill'd at her touch its mouth it slowly clos'd,
And in long silence all its griefs repos'd:
Yet still low murmurs creep along the ground,
And the air vibrates with the silver sound.
Ovid To His Wife
MY aged head now stoops its honours low,
Bow'd with the load of fifty winters' snow;
And for the raven's glossy black assumes
The downy whiteness of the cygnet's plumes:
Loose scatter'd hairs around my temples stray,
And spread the mournful shade of sickly grey:
I bend beneath the weight of broken years,
Averse to change, and chill'd with causeless fears.
The season now invites me to retire
To the dear lares of my household fire;
To homely scenes of calm domestic peace,
A poet's leisure, and an old man's ease;
To wear the remnant of uncertain life
In the fond bosom of a faithful wife;
In safe repose my last few hours to spend,
Nor fearful nor impatient of their end.
Thus a safe port the wave-worn vessels gain,
Nor tempt again the dangers of the main;
Thus the proud steed, when youthful glory fades,
And creeping age his stiffening limbs invades,
Lies stretch'd at ease on the luxuriant plain,
And dreams his morning triumphs o'er again:
The hardy veteren from the camp retires,
His joints unstrung, and feeds his household fires,
Satiate with same enjoys well-earn'd repose,
And sees his stormy day serenely close.
Not such my lot: Severer fates decree
My shatter'd bark must plough an unknown sea.
Forc'd from my native seats and sacred home,
Friendless, alone, thro' Scythian wilds to roam;
With trembling knees o'er unknown hills I go,
Stiff with blue ice and heap'd with drifted snow:
Pale suns there strike their feeble rays in vain,
Which faintly glance against the marble plain;
Red Ister there, which madly lash'd the shore,
His idle urn seal'd up, forgets to roar;
Stern winter in eternal tr umph reigns,
Shuts up the bounteous year and starves the plains.
My failing eyes the weary waste explore,
The savage mountains and the dreary shore,
And vainly look for scenes of old delight;
No lov'd familiar objects meet my fight;
No long remember'd streams, or conscious bowers,
Wake the gay memory of youthful hours.
I fondly hop'd, content with learned ease,
To walk amidst cotemporary trees;
In every scene some fav'rite spot to trace,
And meet in all some kind domestic face;
To stretch my limbs upon my native soil,
With long vacation from unquiet toil;
Resign my breath where first that breath I drew,
And sink into the spot from whence I grew.
But if my feeble age is doom'd to try
Unusual seasons and a foreign sky,
To some more genial clime let me repair,
And taste the healing balm of milder air;
Near to the glowing sun's directer ray,
And pitch my tent beneath the eye of day.
Could not the winter in my veins suffice,
Without the added rage of Scythian skies?
The snow of time my vital heat exhaust,
And hoary age, without Sarmatian frost?
Ye tuneful maids! who once, in happier days,
Beneath the myrtle grove inspir'd my lays,
How shall I now your wonted aid implore;
Where seek your footsteps on this savage shore,
Whose ruder echoes ne'er were taught to bear
The poet's numbers or the lover's care?
Yet storm and tempest are of ills the least
Which this inhospitable land infest:
Society than solitude is worse,
And man to man is still the greatest curse.
A savage race my fearful steps surround,
Practis'd in blood and disciplin'd to wound;
Unknown alike to pity as to fear,
Hard as their soil, and as their skies severe.
Skill'd in each mystery of direst art,
They arm with double death the poison'd dart:
Uncomb'd and horrid grows their spiky hair;
Uncouth their vesture, terrible their air:
The lurking dagger at their side hung low,
Leaps in quick vengeance on the hapless foe:
No stedfast faith is here, no sure repose;
An armed truce is all this nation knows:
The rage of battle works, when battles cease;
And wars are brooding in the lap of peace.
Since CÆSAR wills, and I a wretch must be,
Let me be safe at least in misery!
To my sad grave in calm oblivion steal,
Nor add the woes I fear to all I feel !
Yet here, forever here, your bard must dwell,
Who sung of sports and tender loves so well.
Here must he live: but when he yields his breath
O let him not be exil'd even in death!
Lest mix'd with Scythian shades, a Roman ghost
Wander on this inhospitable coast.
CÆSAR no more shall urge a wretch's doom;
The bolt of JOVE pursues not in the tomb.
To thee, dear wife, some friend with pious care
All that of OVID then remains shall bear;
Then wilt thou weep to see me so return,
And with fond passion clasp my silent urn.
O check thy grief, that tender bosom spare,
Hurt not thy cheeks, nor soil thy flowing hair.
Press the pale marble with thy lips, and give
One precious tear, and bid my memory live:
The silent dust shall glow at thy command,
And the warm ashes feel thy pious hand.
A Summer Evening's Meditation
'TIS past! The sultry tyrant of the south
Has spent his short-liv'd rage; more grateful hours
Move silent on; the skies no more repel
The dazzled sight, but with mild maiden beams
Of temper'd light, invite the cherish'd eye
To wander o'er their sphere; where hung aloft
DIAN's bright crescent, like a silver bow
New strung in heaven, lifts high its beamy horns
Impatient for the night, and seems to push
Her brother down the sky. Fair VENUS shines
Even in the eye of day; with sweetest beam
Propitious shines, and shakes a trembling flood
Of soften'd radiance from her dewy locks.
The shadows spread apace; while meeken'd Eve
Her cheek yet warm with blushes, slow retires
Thro' the Hesperian gardens of the west,
And shuts the gates of day. 'Tis now the hour
When Contemplation, from her sunless haunts,
The cool damp grotto, or the lonely depth
Of unpierc'd woods, where wrapt in solid shade
She mused away the gaudy hours of noon,
And fed on thoughts unripen'd by the sun,
Moves forward; and with radiant finger points
To yon blue concave swell'd by breath divine,
Where, one by one, the living eyes of heaven
Awake, quick kindling o'er the face of ether
One boundless blaze; ten thousand trembling fires,
And dancing lustres, where th' unsteady eye
Restless, and dazzled wanders unconfin'd
O'er all this field of glories: spacious field!
And worthy of the master: he, whose hand
With hieroglyphics older than the Nile,
Inscrib'd the mystic tablet; hung on high
To public gaze, and said, adore, O man!
The finger of thy GOD. From what pure wells
Of milky light, what soft o'erflowing urn,
Are all these lamps so fill'd? these friendly lamps,
For ever streaming o'er the azure deep
To point our path, and light us to our home.
How soft they slide along their lucid spheres!
And silent as the foot of time, fulfil
Their destin'd courses: Nature's self is hush'd,
And, but a scatter'd leaf, which rustles thro'
The thick-wove foliage, not a sound is heard
To break the midnight air; tho' the rais'd ear,
Intensely listening, drinks in every breath.
How deep the silence, yet how loud the praise!
But are they silent all? or is there not
A tongue in every star that talks with man,
And wooes him to be wise; nor wooes in vain:
This dead of midnight is the noon of thought,
And wisdom mounts her zenith with the stars.
At this still hour the self-collected soul
Turns inward, and beholds a stranger there
Of high descent, and more than mortal rank;
An embryo GOD; a spark of fire divine,
Which must burn on for ages, when the sun,
(Fair transitory creature of a day!)
Has clos'd his golden eye, and wrapt in shades
Forgets his wonted journey thro' the east.
Ye citadels of light, and seats of GODS!
Perhaps my future home, from whence the soul
Revolving periods past, may oft look back
With recollected tenderness, on all
The various busy scenes she left below,
Its deep laid projects and its strange events,
As on some fond and doating tale that sooth'd
Her infant hours; O be it lawful now
To tread the hallow'd circles of your courts,
And with mute wonder and delighted awe
Approach your burning confines. Seiz'd in thought
On fancy's wild and roving wing I sail,
From the green borders of the peopled earth,
And the pale moon, her duteous fair attendant;
From solitary Mars; from the vast orb
Of Jupiter, whose huge gigantic bulk
Dances in ether like the lightest leaf;
To the dim verge, the suburbs of the system,
Where chearless Saturn 'midst her watry moons
Girt with a lucid zone, majestic sits
In gloomy grandeur; like an exil'd queen
Amongst her weeping handmaids: fearless thence
I launch into the trackless deeps of space,
Where, burning round, ten thousand suns appear,
Of elder beam; which ask no leave to shine
Of our terrestrial star, nor borrow light
From the proud regent of our scanty day;
Sons of the morning, first born of creation,
And only less than him who marks their track,
And guides their fiery wheels. Here must I stop,
Or is there aught beyond? What hand unseen
Impels me onward thro' the glowing orbs
Of inhabitable nature; far remote,
To the dread confines of eternal night,
To solitudes of vast unpeopled space,
The desarts of creation, wide and wild;
Where embryo systems and unkindled suns
Sleep in the womb of chaos; fancy droops,
And thought astonish'd stops her bold career.
But oh thou mighty mind! whose powerful word
Said, thus let all things be, and thus they were,
Where shall I seek thy presence? how unblam'd
Invoke thy dread perfection?
Have the broad eye-lids of the morn beheld thee?
Or does the beamy shoulder of Orion
Support thy throne? O look with pity down
On erring guilty man; not in thy names
Of terrour clad; not with those thunders arm'd
That conscious Sinai felt, when fear appall'd
The scatter'd tribes; thou hast a gentler voice,
That whispers comfort to the swelling heart,
Abash'd, yet longing to behold her Maker.
But now my soul unus'd tostretch her powers
In flight so daring, drops her weary wing,
And seeks again the known accustom'd spot,
Drest up with sun, and shade, and lawns, and streams,
A mansion fair and spacious for its guest,
And full replete with wonders. Let me here
Content and grateful, wait th' appointed time
And ripen for the skies: the hour will come
When all these splendours bursting on my sight
Shall stand unveil'd, and to my ravished sense
Unlock the glories of the world unknown.
Epistle To William Wilberforce, Esq.
ON THE REJECTION OF THE BILL FOR ABOLISHING THE SLAVE TRADE, 1791.
Cease, Wilberforce, to urge thy generous aim!
Thy Country knows the sin, and stands the shame!
The Preacher, Poet, Senator in vain
Has rattled in her sight the Negro's chain;
With his deep groans assailed her startled ear,
And rent the veil that hid his constant tear;
Forced her averted eyes his stripes to scan,
Beneath the bloody scourge laid bare the man,
Claimed Pity's tear, urged Conscience' strong controul,
And flashed conviction on her shrinking soul.
The Muse too, soon awaked, with ready tongue
At Mercy's shrine applausive pæans rung;
And Freedom's eager sons in vain foretold
A new Astrean reign, an age of gold:
She knows and she persists—Still Afric bleeds,
Unchecked, the human traffic still proceeds;
She stamps her infamy to future time,
And on her hardened forehead seals the crime.
In vain, to thy white standard gathering round,
Wit, Worth, and Parts and Eloquence are found:
In vain, to push to birth thy great design,
Contending chiefs, and hostile virtues join;
All, from conflicting ranks, of power possesst
To rouse, to melt, or to inform the breast.
Where seasoned tools of Avarice prevail,
A Nation's eloquence, combined, must fail:
Each flimsy sophistry by turns they try;
The plausive argument, the daring lie,
The artful gloss, that moral sense confounds,
The' acknowledged thirst of gain that honour wounds:
Bane of ingenuous minds!—the' unfeeling sneer,
Which sudden turns to stone the falling tear:
They search assiduous, with inverted skill,
For forms of wrong, and precedents of ill;
With impious mockery wrest the sacred page,
And glean up crimes from each remoter age:
Wrung Nature's tortures, shuddering, while you tell,
From scoffing fiends bursts forth the laugh of hell;
In Britain's senate, Misery's pangs give birth
To jests unseemly, and to horrid mirth—
Forbear!—thy virtues but provoke our doom,
And swell the' account of vengeance yet to come;
For, not unmarked in Heaven's impartial plan,
Shall man, proud worm, contemn his fellow-man!
And injured Afric, by herself redresst,
Darts her own serpents at her tyrant's breast.
Each vice, to minds depraved by bondage known,
With sure contagion fastens on his own;
In sickly languors melts his nerveless frame,
And blows to rage impetuous Passion's flame:
Fermenting swift, the fiery venom gains
The milky innocence of infant veins;
There swells the stubborn will, damps learning's fire,
The whirlwind wakes of uncontrouled desire,
Sears the young heart to images of woe,
And blasts the buds of Virtue as they blow.
Lo! where reclined, pale Beauty courts the breeze,
Diffused on sofas of voluptuous ease;
With anxious awe her menial train around
Catch her faint whispers of half-uttered sound;
See her, in monstrous fellowship, unite
At once the Scythian and the Sybarite!
Blending repugnant vices, misallied,
Which frugal nature purposed to divide;
See her, with indolence to fierceness joined,
Of body delicate, infirm of mind,
With languid tones imperious mandates urge;
With arm recumbent wield the household scourge;
And with unruffled mien, and placid sounds,
Contriving torture, and inflicting wounds.
Nor, in their palmy walks and spicy groves,
The form benign of rural Pleasure roves;
No milk-maid's song, or hum of village talk,
Soothes the lone poet in his evening walk:
No willing arm the flail unwearied plies,
Where the mixed sounds of cheerful labour rise;
No blooming maids and frolic swains are seen
To pay gay homage to their harvest queen:
No heart-expanding scenes their eyes must prove
Of thriving industry and faithful love:
But shrieks and yells disturb the balmy air,
Dumb sullen looks of woe announce despair,
And angry eyes through dusky features glare.
Far from the sounding lash the Muses fly,
And sensual riot drowns each finer joy.
Nor less from the gay East, on essenced wings,
Breathing unnamed perfumes, Contagion springs;
The soft luxurious plague alike pervades
The marble palaces and rural shades;
Hence thronged Augusta builds her rosy bowers,
And decks in summer wreaths her smoky towers;
And hence, in summer bowers, Art's costly hand
Pours courtly splendours o'er the dazzled land:
The manners melt;—one undistinguished blaze
O'erwhelms the sober pomp of elder days;
Corruption follows with gigantic stride,
And scarce vouchsafes his shameless front to hide:
The spreading leprosy taints every part,
Infects each limb, and sickens at the heart.
Simplicity, most dear of rural maids,
Weeping resigns her violated shades:
Stern Independence from his glebe retires,
And anxious Freedom eyes her drooping fires;
By foreign wealth are British morals changed,
And Afric's sons, and India's, smile avenged.
For you, whose tempered ardour long has borne
Untired the labour, and unmoved the scorn;
In Virtue's fasti be inscribed your fame,
And uttered yours with Howard's honoured name;
Friends of the friendless—Hail, ye generous band!
Whose efforts yet arrest Heaven's lifted hand,
Around whose steady brows, in union bright,
The civic wreath and Christian's palm unite:
Your merit stands, no greater and no less,
Without, or with the varnish of success:
But seek no more to break a nation's fall,
For ye have saved yourselves—and that is all.
Succeeding times your struggles, and their fate,
With mingled shame and triumph shall relate;
While faithful History, in her various page,
Marking the features of this motley age,
To shed a glory, and to fix a stain,
Tells how you strove, and that you strove in vain.
A School Eclogue
Hist, William! hist! what means that air so gay?
Thy looks, thy dress, bespeak some holiday:
Thy hat is brushed; thy hands, with wondrous pains,
Are cleansed from garden mould and inky stains;
Thy glossy shoes confess the lacquey's care;
And recent from the comb shines thy sleek hair.
What god, what saint, this prodigy has wrought?
Declare the cause, and ease my labouring thought?
Mamma prevails, and I am sent for home.
Thrice happy whom such welcome tidings greet!
Thrice happy who reviews his native seat!
For him the matron spreads her candied hoard,
And early strawberries crown the smiling board;
For him crushed gooseberries with rich cream combine,
And bending boughs their fragrant fruit resign:
Custards and sillabubs his taste invite;
Sports fill the day, and feasts prolong the night.
Think not I envy, I admire thy fate:
Yet, ah! what different tasks thy comrades wait!
Some in the grammar's thorny maze to toil,
Some with rude strokes the snowy paper soil,
Some o'er barbaric climes in maps to roam,
Far from their mother-tongue, and dear loved home.
Harsh names, of uncouth sound, their memories load,
And oft their shoulders feel the' unpleasant goad.
Doubt not our turn will come some future time.
Now, William, hear us twain contend in rime;
For yet thy horses have not eat their hay,
And unconsumed as yet the' allotted hour of play.
Then spout alternate, I consent to hear,—
Let no false rime offend my critic ear;—
But say, what prizes shall the victor hold?
I guess your pockets are not lined with gold!
A ship these hands have built, in every part
Carved, rigged, and painted, with the nicest art;
The ridgy sides are black with pitchy store,
From stem to stern 't is twice ten inches o'er.
The lofty mast, a straight smooth hazel framed,
The tackling silk, the Charming Sally named;
And,—but take heed lest thou divulge the tale,—
The lappet of my shirt supplied the sail;
An azure ribband for a pendant flies:—
Now, if thy verse excell, be this the prize.
For me at home the careful housewives make,
With plums and almonds rich, an ample cake.
Smooth is the top, a plain of shining ice,
The West its sweetness gives, the East its spice:
From soft Ionian isles, well known to fame,
Ulysses' once, the luscious currant came.
The green transparent citron Spain bestows,
And from her golden groves the orange glows.
So vast the heaving mass, it scarce has room
Within the oven's dark capacious womb;
'Twill be consigned to the next carrier's care,
I cannot yield it all,—be half thy share.
Well does the gift thy liquorish palate suit;
I know who robbed the orchard of its fruit.
When all were wrapt in sleep, one early morn,
While yet the dewdrop trembled on the thorn,
I marked when o'er the quickset hedge you leapt,
And, sly, beneath the gooseberry bushes crept;
Then shook the trees; a shower of apples fell,—
And where the hoard you kept I know full well;
The mellow gooseberries did themselves produce,
For through thy pocket oozed the viscous juice.
I scorn a telltale, or I could declare
How, leave unasked, you sought the neighbouring fair;
Then home by moonlight spurred your jaded steed,
And scarce returned before the hour of bed.
Think how thy trembling heart had felt affright,
Had not our master supped abroad that night.
On the smooth whitewashed ceiling near thy bed,
Mixed with thine own, is Anna's cypher read;
From wreaths of dusky smoke the letters flow;—
Whose hand the waving candle held, I know.
Fines and jobations shall thy soul appall,
Whene'er our mistress spies the sullied wall.
Unconned her lesson once, in idle mood,
Trembling before the master, Anna stood;
I marked what prompter near her took his place,
And, whispering, saved the virgin from disgrace:
Much is the youth belied, and much the maid,
Or more than words the whisper soft conveyed.
Think not I blush to own so bright a flame,
Even boys for her assume the lover's name;—
As far as alleys beyond taws we prize,
Or venison pasty ranks above school pies;
As much as peaches beyond apples please,
Or Parmesan excells a Suffolk cheese;
Or Palgrave donkeys lag behind a steed,—
So far do Anna's charms all other charms exceed.
Tell, if thou canst, where is that creature bred,
Whose wide-stretched mouth is larger than its head:
Guess, and my great Apollo thou shalt be,
And cake and ship shall both remain with thee.
Explain thou first, what portent late was seen,
With strides impetuous, posting o'er the green;
Three heads, like Cerberus, the monster bore,
And one was sidelong fixed, and two before;
Eight legs, depending from his ample sides,
Each well-built flank unequally divides;
For five on this, on that side three are found,
Four swiftly move, and four not touch the ground.
Long time the moving prodigy I viewed,
By gazing men, and barking dogs pursued.
Cease! cease your carols, both! for lo the bell,
With jarring notes, has rung out Pleasure's knell.
Your startled comrades, ere the game be done,
Quit their unfinished sports, and trembling run.
Haste to your forms before the master call!
With thoughtful step he paces o'er the hall,
Does with stern looks each playful loiterer greet,
Counts with his eye, and marks each vacant seat;
Intense the buzzing murmur grows around,
Loud through the dome the usher's strokes resound.
Sneak off, and to your places slily steal,
Before the prowess of his arm you feel.
To Mrs. P********, With Some Drawings Of Birds And Insects.
The kindred arts to please thee shall conspire,
One dip the pencil, and one string the lyre.
Amanda bids;-at her command again
I seize the pencil, or resume the pen;
No other call my willing hand requires,
And Friendship, better than a Muse inspires.
Painting and Poetry are near allied;
The kindred arts two sister Muses guide:
This charms the eye, that steals upon the ear;
There sounds are tuned, and colours blended here:
This with a silent touch enchants our eyes,
And bids a gayer, brighter world arise:
That, less allied to sense, with deeper art
Can pierce the close recesses of the heart;
By well-set syllables, and potent sound,
Can rouse, can chill the breast, can soothe, can wound;
To life adds motion, and to beauty soul,
And breathes a spirit through the finished whole:
Each perfects each, in friendly union joined;-
This gives Amanda's form, and that her mind.
But humbler themes my artless hand requires,
No higher than the feathered tribe aspires.
Yet who the various nations can declare
That plough with busy wing the peopled air?
These cleave the crumbling bark for insect food;
Those dip their crooked beak in kindred blood:
Some haunt the rushy moor, the lonely woods;
Some bathe their silver plumage in the floods;
Some fly to man, his household gods implore,
And gather round his hospitable door,
Wait the known call, and find protection there
From all the lesser tyrants of the air.
The tawny Eagle seats his callow brood
High on the cliff, and feasts his young with blood.
On Snowdon's rocks, or Orkney's wide domain,
Whose beetling cliffs o'erhang the Western main,
The royal bird his lonely kingdom forms
Amidst the gathering clouds and sullen storms;
Through the wide waste of air he darts his sight,
And holds his sounding pinions poised for flight;
With cruel eye premeditates the war,
And marks his destined victim from afar:
Descending in a whirlwind to the ground,
His pinions like the rush of waters sound;
The fairest of the fold he bears away,
And to his nest compels the struggling prey;
He scorns the game by meaner hunters tore,
And dips his talons in no vulgar gore.
With lovelier pomp along the grassy plain
The Silver Pheasant draws his shining train.
On Asia's myrtle shores, by Phasis' stream,
He spreads his plumage to the sunny gleam;
But when the wiry net his flight confines,
He lowers his purple crest, and inly pines:
The beauteous captive hangs his ruffled wing,
Opprest by bondage and our chilly spring.
To claim the verse unnumbered tribes appear,
That swell the music of the vernal year:
Seized with the spirit of the kindly May,
They sleek the glossy wing, and tune the lay;
With emulative strife the notes prolong,
And pour out all their little souls in song.
When winter bites upon the naked plain,
Nor food nor shelter in the groves remain,
By instinct led, a firm united band,
As marshaled by some skillful general's hand,
The congregated nations wing their way
In dusky columns o'er the trackless sea;
In clouds unnumbered annual hover o'er
The craggy Bass, or Kilda's utmost shore;
Thence spread their sails to meet the southern wind,
And leave the gathering tempest far behind;
Pursue the circling sun's indulgent ray,
Course the swift seasons, and o'ertake the day.
Not so the insect race, ordained to keep
The lazy sabbath of a half-year's sleep:
Entombed beneath the filmy web they lie,
And wait the influence of a kinder sky.
When vernal sunbeams pierce their dark retreat,
The heaving tomb distends with vital heat;
The half-formed brood, impatient of their cell,
Start from their trance, and burst their silken shell;-
Trembling awhile they stand, and scarcely dare
To launch at once upon the untried air:
At length assured, they catch the favouring gale,
And leave their sordid spoils, and high in ether sail.
So when brave Tancred struck the conscious rind,
He found a nymph in every trunk confined;
The forest labours with convulsive throes,
The bursting trees the lovely births disclose,
And a gay troop of damsels round him stood,
Where late was rugged bark and lifeless wood.
Lo! the bright train their radiant wings unfold!
With silver fringed, and freckled o'er with gold:
On the gay bosom of some fragrant flower
They idly fluttering live their little hour;
Their life all pleasure, and their task all play,
All spring their age, and sunshine all their day.
Not so the child of sorrow, wretched Man,
His course with toil concludes, with pain began;
That his high destiny he might discern,
And in misfortune's school this lesson learn….
Pleasure's the portion of the inferior kind;
But glory, virtue, Heaven for Man designed.
What atom-forms of insect life appear!
And who can follow Nature's pencil here?
Their wings with azure, green and purple glossed,
Studded with coloured eyes, with gems embossed,
Inlaid with pearl, and marked with various stains
Of lively crimson through their dusky veins.
Some shoot like living stars athwart the night,
And scatter from their wings a vivid light,
To guide the Indian to his tawny loves,
As through the woods with cautious step he moves.
See the proud giant of the beetle race;
What shining arms his polished limbs enchase!
Like some stern warrior formidably bright,
His steely sides reflect a gleaming light:
On his large forehead spreading horns he wears,
And high in air the branching antlers bears:
O'er many an inch extends his wide domain,
And his rich treasury swells with hoarded grain.
Thy friend thus strives to cheat the lonely hour,
With song or paint, an insect or a flower:-
Yet if Amanda praise the flowing line,
And bend delighted o'er the gay design,
I envy not nor emulate the fame
Or of the painter's or the poet's name:
Could I to both with equal claim pretend,
Yet far, far dearer were the name of Friend.
Ode To Remorse
Dread offspring of the holy light within,
Offspring of Conscience and of Sin,
Stern as thine awful sire, and fraught with woe
From bitter springs thy mother taught to flow,—
Remorse! To man alone 'tis given
Of all on earth, or all in heaven,
To wretched man thy bitter cup to drain,
Feel thy awakening stings, and taste thy wholesome pain.
Midst Eden's blissful bowers,
And amaranthine flowers,
Thy birth portentous dimmed the orient day,
What time our hapless sire,
O'ercome by fond desire,
The high command presumed to disobey;
Then didst thou rear thy snaky crest,
And raise thy scorpion lash to tear the guilty breast:
And never, since that fatal hour,
May man, of woman born, expect to' escape thy power.
Thy goading stings the branded Cain
Cross the' untrodden desert drove,
Ere from his cradling home and native plain
Domestic man had learnt to rove.
By gloomy shade or lonely flood
Of vast primeval solitude,
Thy step his hurried steps pursued,
Thy voice awoke his conscious fears,
For ever sounding in his ears
A father's curse, a brother's blood;
Till life was misery too great to bear,
And torturing thought was lost in sullen, dumb despair.
The king who sat on Judah's throne,
By guilty love to murder wrought,
Was taught thy searching power to own,
When, sent of Heaven, the seer his royal presence sought.
As, wrapt in artful phrase, with sorrow feigned,
He told of helpless, meek distress,
And wrongs that sought from power redress,
The pity-moving tale his ear obtained,
And bade his better feelings wake:
Then, sudden as the trodden snake
On the scared traveller darts his fangs,
The prophet's bold rebuke aroused thy keenest pangs.
And O that look, that soft upbraiding look!
A thousand cutting, tender things it spoke,—
The sword so lately drawn was not so keen,—
Which, as the injured Master turned him round,
In the strange solemn scene,
And the shrill clarion gave the' appointed sound,
Pierced sudden through the reins,
Awakening all thy pains,
And drew a silent shower of bitter tears
Down Peter's blushing cheek, late pale with coward fears.
Cruel Remorse! where Youth and Pleasure sport,
And thoughtless Folly keeps her court,—
Crouching midst rosy bowers thou lurk'st unseen;
Slumbering the festal hours away,
While Youth disports in that enchanting scene;
Till on some fated day
Thou with a tiger-spring dost leap upon thy prey,
And tear his helpless breast, o'erwhelmed with wild dismay.
Mark that poor wretch with clasped hands!
Pale o'er his parent's grave he stands,—
The grave by his ingratitude prepared;
Ah then, where'er he rests his head,
On roses pillowed or the softest down,
Though festal wreaths his temples crown,
He well might envy Guatimozin's bed,
With burning coals and sulphur spread,
And with less agony his torturing hour have shared.
For Thou art by to point the keen reproach;
Thou draw'st the curtains of his nightly couch,
Bring'st back the reverend face with tears bedewed,
That o'er his follies yearned;
The warnings oft in vain renewed,
The looks of anguish and of love,
His stubborn breast that failed to move,
When in the scorner's chair he sat, and wholesome counsel spurned.
Lives there a man whose labouring breast
Is with some dark and guilty secret prest,
Who hides within its inmost fold
Strange crimes to mortal ear untold?
In vain to sad Chartreuse he flies,
Midst savage rocks and cloisters dim and drear,
And there to shun thee tries:
In vain untold his crime to mortal ear,
Silence and whispered sounds but make thy voice more clear.
Lo, where the cowled monk with frantic rage
Lifts high the sounding scourge, his bleeding shoulders smites!
Penance and fasts his anxious thoughts engage,
Weary his days and joyless are his nights,
His naked feet the flinty pavement tears,
His knee at every shrine the marble wears;—
Why does he lift the cruel scourge?
The restless pilgrimage why urge?
'Tis all to quell thy fiercer rage,
'Tis all to soothe thy deep despair,
He courts the body's pangs, for thine he cannot bear.
See o'er the bleeding corse of her he loved,
The jealous murderer bends unmoved,
Trembling with rage, his livid lips express
His frantic passion's wild and rash excess.
O God, she's innocent!—transfixt he stands,
Pierced thro' with shafts from thine avenging hands;
Down his pale cheek no tear will flow,
Nor can he shun, nor can he bear, his woe.
'Twas phantoms summoned by thy power
Round Richard's couch at midnight hour,
That scared the tyrant from unblest repose;
With frantic haste, “To horse! to horse!” he cries,
While on his crowned brow cold sweat-drops rise,
And fancied spears his spear oppose;
But not the swiftest steed can bear away
From thy firm grasp thine agonizing prey,
Thou wast the fiend, and thou alone;
That stood'st by Beaufort's mitred head,
With upright hair and visage ghastly pale:
Thy terrors shook his dying bed,
Past crimes and blood his sinking heart assail,
His hands are clasped,—hark to that hollow groan!
See how his glazed, dim eye-balls wildly roll,
'Tis not dissolving Nature's pains; that pang is of the soul.
Where guilty souls are doomed to dwell,
'Tis thou that mak'st their fiercest hell,
The vulture thou that on their liver feeds,
As rise to view their past unhallowed deeds;
With thee condemned to stay,
Till time has rolled away
Long æras of uncounted years,
And every stain is washed in soft repentant tears.
Servant of God—but unbeloved—proceed,
For thou must live and ply thy scorpion scourge;
Thy sharp upbraidings urge
Against the' unrighteous deed,
Till thine accursed mother shall expire,
And a new world spring forth from renovating fire.
O! when the glare of day is fled,
And calm, beneath the evening star,
Reflection leans her pensive head,
And calls the passions to her solemn bar;
Reviews the censure rash, the hasty word,
The purposed act too long deferred,
Of time the wasted treasures lent,
And fair occasions lost and golden hours misspent:
When anxious Memory numbers o'er
Each offered prize we failed to seize;
Or friends laid low, whom now no more
Our fondest love can serve or please,
And thou, dread power! bring'st back in terrors drest,
The' irrevocable past, to sting the careless breast;—
O! in that hour be mine to know,
While fast the silent sorrows flow,
And wisdom cherishes the wholesome pain,
No heavier guilt, no deeper stain,
Than tears of meek contrition may atone,
Shed at the mercy-seat of Heaven's eternal throne.
COME here fond youth, whoe'er thou be,
That boasts to love as well as me;
And if thy breast have felt so wide a wound,
Come hither and thy flame approve;
I'll teach thee what it is to love,
And by what marks true passion may be found.
It is to be all bath'd in tears;
To live upon a smile for years;
To lie whole ages at a beauty's feet:
To kneel, to languish and implore;
And still tho' she disdain, adore:
It is to do all this, and think thy sufferings sweet.
It is to gaze upon her eyes
With eager joy and fond surprise;
Yet temper'd with such chaste and awful fear
As wretches feel who wait their doom;
Nor must one ruder thought presume
Tho' but in whispers breath'd, to meet her ear.
It is to hope, tho' hope were loft;
Tho' heaven and earth thy passion crost;
Tho' she were bright as sainted queens above,
And thou the least and meanest swain
That folds his flock upon the plain,
Yet if thou dar'st not hope, thou dost not love.
It is to quench thy joy in tears:
To nurse strange doubts and groundless fears:
If pangs of jealousy thou hast not prov'd,
Tho' she were fonder and more true
Than any nymph old poets drew,
Oh never dream again that thou hast lov'd.
If when the darling maid is gone,
Thou dost not seek to be alone,
Wrapt in a pleasing trance of tender woe;
And muse, and fold thy languid arms,
Feeding thy fancy on her charms,
Thou dost not love, for love is nourish'd so.
If any hopes thy bosom share
But those which love has planted there,
Or any cares but his thy breast enthrall,
Thou never yet his power hast known;
Love sits on a despotic throne,
And reigns a tyrant, if he reigns at all.
Now if thou art so lost a thing,
Here all thy tender sorrows bring,
And prove whose patience longest can endure:
We'll strive whose fancy shall be lost
In dreams of fondest passion most;
For if thou thus hast lov'd, oh! never hope a cure.
S O N G II
IF ever thou dist joy to bind
Two hearts in equal passion join'd,
O son of VENUS! hear me now,
And bid FLORELLA bless my vow.
If any bliss reserv'd for me
Thou in the leaves of fate should'st see;
If any white propitious hour,
Pregnant with hoarded joys in store;
Now, now the mighty treasure give,
In her for whom alone I live:
In sterling love pay all the sum,
And I'll absolve the fates to come.
In all the pride of full-blown charms
Yield her, relenting, to my arms:
Her bosom touch with soft desires,
And let her feel what she inspires.
But, CUPID, if thine aid be vain
The dear reluctant maid to gain;
If still with cold averted eyes
She dash my hopes, and scorn my sighs;
O! grant ('tis all I ask of thee)
That I no more may change than she;
But still with duteous zeal love on,
When every gleam of hope is gone.
Leave me then alone to languish,
Think not time can heal my anguish;
Pity the woes which I endure;
But never, never grant a cure.
S O N G III
Leave me, simple shepherd, leave me;
Drag no more a hopeless chain:
I cannot like, nor would deceive thee;
Love the maid that loves again.
Tho' more gentle nymphs surround me,
Kindly pitying what I feel,
Only you have power to wound me;
SYLVIA, only you can heal.
Corin, cease this idle teazing;
Love that's forc'd is harsh and sour:
If the lover be displeasing,
To persist disgusts the more.
'Tis in vain, in vain to fly me,
Sylvia, I will still pursue;
Twenty thousand times deny me,
I will kneel and weep anew.
Cupid ne'er shall make me languish,
I was born averse to love;
Lovers' sighs, and tears, and anguish,
Mirth and pastime to me prove.
Still I vow with patient duty
Thus to meet your proudest scorn;
You for unrelenting beauty,
I for constant love was born.
But the fates had not consented,
Since they both did fickle prove;
Of her scorn the maid repented,
And the shepherd of his love.
S O N G IV
WHEN gentle CELIA first I knew,
A breast so good, so kind, so true,
Reason and taste approv'd;
Pleas'd to indulge so pure a flame,
I call'd it by too soft a name,
And fondly thought I lov'd.
Till CHLORIS came, with sad surprise
I felt the light'ning of her eyes
Thro' all my senses run;
All glowing with resistless charms,
She fill'd my breast with new alarms,
I saw, and was undone.
O CELIA! dear unhappy maid,
Forbear the weakness to upbraid
Which ought your scorn to move;
I know this beauty false and vain,
I know she triumphs in my pain,
Yet still I feel I love.
Thy gentle smiles no more can please,
Nor can thy softest friendship ease
The torments I endure;
Think what that wounded breast must feel
Which truth and kindness cannot heal,
Nor even thy pity cure.
Oft shall I curse my iron chain,
And wish again thy milder reign
With long and vain regret ;
All that I can, to thee I give,
And could I still to reason live
I were thy captain yet.
But passion's wild impetuous sea
Hurries me far from peace and thee ;
'Twere vain to struggle more:
Thus the poor sailor slumbering lies,
While swelling tides around him rise,
And push his bark from shore.
In vain he spreads his helpless arms,
His pitying friends with fond alarms
In vain deplore his state;
Still far and farther from the coast,
On the high surge his bark is tost,
And foundering yields to fate.
S O N G V
AS near a weeping spring reclin'd
The beauteous ARAMINTA pin'd,
And mourn'd a false ungrateful youth;
While dying echoes caught the sound,
And spread the soft complaints around
Of broken vows and alter'd truth;
An aged shepherd heard her moan,
And thus in pity's kindest tone
Address'd the lost despairing maid:
Cease, cease unhappy fair to grieve,
For sounds, tho' sweet, can ne'er relieve
A breaking heart by love betray'd.
Why shouldst thou waste such precious showers,
That fall like dew on wither'd flowers,
But dying passion ne'er restor'd?
In beauty's empire is no mean,
And woman, either slave or queen,
Is quickly scorn'd when not ador'd.
Those liquid pearls from either eye,
Which might an eastern empire buy,
Unvalued here and fruitless fall;
No art the season can renew
When love was young, and DAMON true;
No tears a wandering heart recall.
Cease, cease to grieve, thy tears are vain,
Should those fair orbs in drops of rain
Vie with a weeping southern sky:
For hearts o'ercome with love and grief
All nature yields but one relief;
Die, hapless ARAMINTA, die.
S O N G VI
WHEN first upon your tender cheek
I saw the morn of beauty break
With mild and chearing beam,
I bow'd before your infant shrine,
The earliest sighs you had were mine,
And you my darling heme.
I saw you in that opening morn
For beauty's boundless empire born,
And first confess'd your sway;
And e'er your thoughts, devoid of art,
Could learn the value of a heart,
I gave my heart away.
I watch'd the dawn of every grace,
And gaz'd upon that angel face,
While yet 'twas safe to gaze;
And fondly blest each rising charm,
Nor thought such innocence could harm
The peace of future days.
But now despotic o'er the plains
The awful noon of beauty reigns,
And kneeling crowds adore;
These charms arise too fiercely bright,
Danger and death attend the fight,
And I must hope no more.
Thus to the rising God of day
Their early vows the Persians pay,
And bless the spreading fire;
Whose glowing chariot mounting soon
Pours on their heads the burning noon;
They sicken, and expire.
HEALTH to my friend, and long unbroken years,
By storms unruffled and unstain'd by tears:
Wing'd by new joys may each white minute fly;
Spring on her cheek, and sunshine in her eye:
O'er that dear breast, where love and pity springs,
May peace eternal spread her downy wings:
Sweet beaming hope her path illumine still,
And fair ideas all her fancy fill.
From glittering scenes which strike the dazzled sight
With mimic grandeur and illusive light,
From idle hurry, and tumultuous noise,
From hollow friendships, and from sickly joys,
Will DELIA, at the muse's call retire
To the pure pleasures rural scenes inspire?
Will she from crowds and busy cities fly,
Where wreaths of curling smoke involve the sky,
To taste the grateful shade of spreading trees,
And drink the spirit of the mountain breeze?
When winter's hand the rough'ning year deforms,
And hollow winds foretel approaching storms,
Then Pleasure, like a bird of passage, flies
To brighter climes, and more indulgent skies;
Cities and courts allure her sprightly train,
From the bleak mountain and the naked plain;
And gold and gems with artificial blaze,
Supply the sickly sun's declining rays:
But soon returning on the western gale
She seeks the bosom of the grassy vale;
There, wrapt in careless ease, attunes the lyre
To the wild warblings of the woodland quire;
The daisied turf her humble throne supplies,
And early primroses around her rise.
We'll follow where the smiling goddess leads,
Thro' tangled forests or enamel'd meads;
O'er pathless hills her airy form we'll chase,
In silent glades her fairy footsteps trace:
Small pains there needs her footsteps to pursue,
She cannot fly from friendship, and from you.
Now the glad earth her frozen zone unbinds,
And o'er her bosom breathe the western winds:
Already now the snow-drop dares appear,
The first pale blossom of th' unripen'd year;
As FLORA's breath, by some transforming power,
Had chang'd an icicle into a flower:
Its name, and hue, and scentless plant retains,
And winter lingers in its icy veins.
To these succeed the violet's dusky blue,
And each inferior flower of fainter hue;
Till riper months the perfect year disclose,
And FLORA cries exulting, See my Rose!
The Muse invites, my DELIA haste away,
And let us sweetly waste the careless day.
Here gentle summits lift their airy brow;
Down the green slope here winds the labouring plow;
Here bath'd by frequent show'rs cool vales are seen,
Cloath'd with fresh verdure, and eternal green;
Here smooth canals, across th' extended plain,
Stretch their long arms, to join the distant main :
The sons of toil with many a weary stroke
Scoop the hard bosom of the solid rock;
Resistless thro' the stiff opposing clay
With steady patience work their gradual way;
Compel the genius of th' unwilling flood
Thro' the brown horrors of the aged wood;
Cross the lone waste the silver urn they pour,
And chear the barren heath or sullen moor:
The traveller with pleasing wonder sees
The white sail gleaming thro' the dusky trees ;
And views the alter'd landscape with surprise,
And doubts the magic scenes which round him rise.
Now, like a flock of swans, above his head
Their woven wings the flying vessels spread;
Now meeting streams in artful mazes glide,
While each unmingled pours a separate tide;
Now through the hidden veins of earth they flow,
And visit sulphurous mines and caves below;
The ductile streams obey the guiding hand,
And social plenty circles round the land.
But nobler praise awaits our green retreats;
The Muses here have fixt their sacred seats.
Mark where its simple front yon mansion rears,
The nursery of men for future years:
Here callow chiefs and embryo statesmen lie,
And unfledg'd poets short excursions try:
While Mersey's gentle current, which too long
By fame neglected, and unknown to song,
Between his rushy banks, (no poet's theme)
Had crept inglorious, like a vulgar stream,
Reflects th' ascending seats with conscious pride,
And dares to emulate a classic tide.
Soft music breathes along each op'ning shade,
And sooths the dashing of his rough cascade.
With mystic lines his sands are figur'd o'er,
And circles trac'd upon the letter'd shore,
Beneath his willows rove th' inquiring youth,
And court the fair majestic form of truth.
Here nature opens all her secret springs,
And heav'n-born science plumes her eagle wings:
Too long had bigot rage, with malice swell'd,
Crush'd her strong pinions, and her flight witheld;
Too long to check her ardent progress strove:
So writhes the serpent round the bird of Jove;
Hangs on her flight, restrains her tow'ring wing,
Twists its dark folds, and points its venom'd sting.
Yet still (if aught aright the Muse divine)
Her rising pride shall mock the vain design;
On sounding pinions yet aloft shall soar,
And thro' the azure deep untravel'd paths explore.
Where science smiles, the Muses join the train;
And gentlest arts and purest manners reign.
Ye generous youth who love this studious shade,
How rich a field is to your hopes display'd!
Knowledge to you unlocks the classic page;
And virtue blossoms for a better age.
Oh golden days! oh bright unvalued hours!
What bliss (did ye but know that bliss) were yours?
With richest stores your glowing bosoms fraught,
Perception quick, and luxury of thought;
The high designs that heave the labouring soul,
Panting for fame, impatient of controul;
And fond enthusiastic thought, that feeds
On pictur'd tales of vast heroic deeds;
And quick affections, kindling into flame
At virtue's, or their country's honour'd name;
And spirits light to every joy in tune;
And friendship ardent as a summer's noon;
And generous scorn of vice's venal tribe;
And proud disdain of interest's sordid bribe;
And conscious honour's quick instinctive sense;
And smiles unforc'd; and easy confidence;
And vivid fancy, and clear simple truth ;
And all the mental bloom of vernal youth.
How bright the scene to fancy's eye appears,
Thro' the long perspective of distant years,
When this, this little group their country calls
From academic shades and learned halls,
To fix her laws, her spirit to sustain,
And light up glory thro' her wide domain!
Their various tastes in different arts display'd,
Like temper'd harmony of light and shade,
With friendly union in one mass shall blend,
And this adorn the state, and that defend.
These the sequester'd shade shall cheaply please,
With learned labour and inglorious ease:
With those, impell'd by some resistless force,
O'er seas and rocks shall urge their vent'rous course;
Rich fruits matur'd by glowing suns behold,
And China's groves of vegetable gold;
From every land the various harvest spoil,
And bear the tribute to their native soil:
But tell each land (while every toil they share,
Firm to sustain, and resolute to dare,)
MAN is the nobler growth our realms supply,
And SOULS are ripen'd in our northern sky.
Some pensive creep along the shelly shore;
Unfold the silky texture of a flower;
With sharpen'd eyes inspect an hornet's sting,
And all the wonders of an insect's wing.
Some trace with curious search the hidden cause
Of nature's changes, and her various laws;
Untwist her beauteous web, disrobe her charms,
And hunt her to her elemental forms:
Or prove what hidden powers in herbs are found
To quench disease and staunch the burning wound;
With cordial drops the fainting head sustain,
Call back the flitting soul, and still the throbs of pain.
The patriot passion this shall strongly feel,
Ardent, and glowing with undaunted zeal;
With lips of fire shall plead his country's cause,
And vindicate the majesty of laws.
This cloath'd with Britain's thunder, spread alarms
Thro' the wide earth, and shake the pole with arms.
That to the sounding lyre his deeds rehearse,
Enshrine his name in some immortal verse,
To long posterity his praise consign,
And pay a life of hardships by a line.
While others, consecrate to higher aims,
Whose hallow'd bosoms glow with purer flames,
Love in their heart, persuasion in their tongue,
With words of peace shall charm the list'ning throng,
Draw the dread veil that wraps th' eternal throne,
And launch our souls into the bright unknown.
Here cease my song. Such arduous themes require
A master's pencil, and a poet's fire:
Unequal far such bright designs to paint,
Too weak her colours, and her lines too faint,
My drooping Muse folds up her fluttering wing,
And hides her head in the green lap of spring.
--- A manly race
Of unsubmitting spirit, wise and brave;
Who still through bleeding ages struggled hard
To hold a generous undiminished state;
Too much in vain!
Hail, generous Corsica! unconquered isle!
The fort of freedom; that amidst the waves
Stands like a rock of adamant, and dares
The wildest fury of the beating storm.
And are there yet, in this late sickly age,
Unkindly to the towering growths of virtue,
Such bold exalted spirits? Men whose deeds,
To the bright annals of old Greece opposed,
Would throw in shades her yet unrivaled name,
And dim the lustre of her fairest page!
And glows the flame of Liberty so strong
In this lone speck of earth! this spot obscure,
Shaggy with woods, and crusted o'er with rock,
By slaves surrounded, and by slaves oppressed!
What then should Britons feel?—should they not catch
The warm contagion of heroic ardour,
And kindle at a fire so like their own?
Such were the working thoughts which swelled the breast
Of generous Boswel; when with nobler aim
And views beyond the narrow beaten track
By trivial fancy trod, he turned his course
From polished Gallia's soft delicious vales,
From the grey reliques of imperial Rome,
From her long galleries of laureled stone,
Her chiseled heroes and her marble gods,
Whose dumb majestic pomp yet awes the world,
To animated forms of patriot zeal;
Warm in the living majesty of virtue;
Elate with fearless spirit; firm; resolved;
By fortune nor subdued, nor awed by power.
How raptured fancy burns, while warm in thought
I trace the pictured landscape; while I kiss
With pilgrim lips devout the sacred soil
Stained with the blood of heroes. Cyrnus, hail!
Hail to thy rocky, deep indented shores,
And pointed cliffs, which hear the chafing deep
Incessant foaming round their shaggy sides.
Hail to thy winding bays, thy sheltering ports
And ample harbours, which inviting stretch
Their hospitable arms to every sail:
Thy numerous streams, that bursting from the cliffs
Down the steep channeled rock impetuous pour
With grateful murmur: on the fearful edge
Of the rude precipice, thy hamlets brown
And straw-roofed cots, which from the level vale
Scarce seen, amongst the craggy hanging cliffs
Seem like an eagle's nest aerial built.
Thy swelling mountains, brown with solemn shade
Of various trees, that wave their giant arms
O'er the rough sons of freedom; lofty pines,
And hardy fir, and ilex ever green,
And spreading chesnut, with each humbler plant,
And shrub of fragrant leaf, that clothes their sides
With living verdure; whence the clustering bee
Extracts her golden dews: the shining box,
And sweet-leaved myrtle, aromatic thyme,
The prickly juniper, and the green leaf
Which feeds the spinning worm; while glowing bright
Beneath the various foliage, wildly spreads
The arbutus, and rears his scarlet fruit
Luxuriant, mantling o'er the craggy steeps;
And thy own native laurel crowns the scene.
Hail to thy savage forests, awful, deep;
Thy tangled thickets, and thy crowded woods,
The haunt of herds untamed; which sullen bound
From rock to rock with fierce unsocial air,
And wilder gaze, as conscious of the power
That loves to reign amid the lonely scenes
Of unquelled nature: precipices huge,
And tumbling torrents; trackless deserts, plains
Fenced in with guardian rocks, whose quarries teem
With shining steel, that to the cultured fields
And sunny hills which wave with bearded grain
Defends their homely produce. Liberty,
The mountain Goddess, loves to range at large
Amid such scenes, and on the iron soil
Prints her majestic step. For these she scorns
The green enameled vales, the velvet lap
Of smooth savannahs, where the pillowed head
Of Luxury reposes; balmy gales,
And bowers that breathe of bliss. For these, when first
This isle emerging like a beauteous gem
From the dark bosom of the Tyrrhene main
Reared its fair front, she marked it for her own,
And with her spirit warmed. Her genuine sons,
A broken remnant, from the generous stock
Of ancient Greece, from Sparta's sad remains,
True to their high descent, preserved unquenched
The sacred fire through many a barbarous age:
Whom, nor the iron rod of cruel Carthage,
Nor the dread sceptre of imperial Rome,
Nor bloody Goth, nor grisly Saracen,
Nor the long galling yoke of proud Liguria,
Could crush into subjection. Still unquelled
They rose superior, bursting from their chains,
And claimed man's dearest birthright, liberty:
And long, through many a hard unequal strife
Maintained the glorious conflict; long withstood,
With single arm, the whole collected force
Of haughty Genoa, and ambitious Gaul.
And shall withstand it—Trust the faithful Muse!
It is not in the force of mortal arm,
Scarcely in fate, to bind the struggling soul
That galled by wanton power, indignant swells
Against oppression; breathing great revenge,
Careless of life, determined to be free.
And favouring Heaven approves: for see the Man,
Born to exalt his own, and give mankind
A glimpse of higher natures: just, as great;
The soul of council, and the nerve of war;
Of high unshaken spirit, tempered sweet
With soft urbanity, and polished grace,
And attic wit, and gay unstudied smiles:
Whom Heaven in some propitious hour endowed
With every purer virtue: gave him all
That lifts the hero, or adorns the man.
Gave him the eye sublime; the searching glance,
Keen, scanning deep, that smites the guilty soul
As with a beam from heaven; on his brow
Serene, and spacious front, set the broad seal
Of dignity and rule; then smiled benign
On this fair pattern of a God below,
High wrought, and breathed into his swelling breast
The large ambitious wish to save his country.
O beauteous title to immortal fame!
The man devoted to the public, stands
In the bright records of superior worth
A step below the skies: if he succeed,
The first fair lot which earth affords, is his;
And if he falls, he falls above a throne.
When such their leader, can the brave despair?
Freedom the cause, and Paoli the chief!
Success to your fair hopes! A British Muse,
Though weak and powerless, lifts her fervent voice,
And breathes a prayer for your success. O could
She scatter blessings as the morn sheds dews,
To drop upon your heads! But patient hope
Must wait the appointed hour; secure of this,
That never with the indolent and weak
Will Freedom deign to dwell; she must be seized
By that bold arm that wrestles for the blessing:
'Tis Heaven's best prize, and must be bought with blood.
When the storm thickens, when the combat burns,
And pain and death in every horrid shape
That can appal the feeble, prowl around,
Then Virtue triumphs; then her towering form
Dilates with kindling majesty; her mien
Breathes a diviner spirit, and enlarged
Each spreading feature, with an ampler port
And bolder tone, exulting, rides the storm,
And joys amidst the tempest. Then she reaps
Her golden harvest; fruits of nobler growth
And higher relish than meridian suns
Can ever ripen; fair, heroic deeds,
And godlike action. 'Tis not meats and drinks,
And balmy airs, and vernal suns and showers,
That feed and ripen minds; 'tis toil and danger;
And wrestling with the stubborn gripe of fate;
And war, and sharp distress, and paths obscure
And dubious. The bold swimmer joys not so
To feel the proud waves under him, and beat
With strong repelling arm the billowy surge;
The generous courser does not so exult
To toss his floating mane against the wind,
And neigh amidst the thunder of the war,
As Virtue to oppose her swelling breast
Like a firm shield against the darts of fate.
And when her sons in that rough school have learned
To smile at danger, then the hand that raised
Shall hush the storm, and lead the shining train
Of peaceful years in bright procession on.
Then shall the shepherd's pipe, the Muse's lyre,
On Cyrnus' shores be heard: her grateful sons
With loud acclaim and hymns of cordial praise
Shall hail their high deliverers; every name
To Virtue dear be from oblivion snatched
And placed among the stars: but chiefly thine,
Thine, Paoli, with sweetest sound shall dwell
On their applauding lips; thy sacred name,
Endeared to long posterity, some Muse,
More worthy of the theme, shall consecrate
To after-ages, and applauding worlds
Shall bless the godlike man who saved his country.
So vainly wished, so fondly hoped the Muse:
Too fondly hoped. The iron fates prevail,
And Cyrnus is no more. Her generous sons,
Less vanquished than o'erwhelmed, by numbers crushed,
Admired, unaided fell. So strives the moon
In dubious battle with the gathering clouds,
And strikes a splendour through them; till at length
Storms rolled on storms involve the face of heaven
And quench her struggling fires. Forgive the zeal
That, too presumptuous, whispered better things,
And read the book of destiny amiss.
Not with the purple colouring of success
Is virtue best adorned: the attempt is praise.
There yet remains a freedom, nobler far
Than kings or senates can destroy or give;
Beyond the proud oppressor's cruel grasp
Seated secure, uninjured, undestroyed;
Worthy of Gods:….the freedom of the mind.
Eighteen Hundred And Eleven
Still the loud death drum, thundering from afar,
O'er the vext nations pours the storm of war:
To the stern call still Britain bends her ear,
Feeds the fierce strife, the' alternate hope and fear;
Bravely, though vainly, dares to strive with Fate,
And seeks by turns to prop each sinking state.
Colossal power with overwhelming force
Bears down each fort of Freedom in its course;
Prostrate she lies beneath the Despot's sway,
While the hushed nations curse him—and obey.
Bounteous in vain, with frantic man at strife,
Glad Nature pours the means—the joys of life;
In vain with orange-blossoms scents the gale,
The hills with olives clothes, with corn the vale;
Man calls to Famine, nor invokes in vain,
Disease and Rapine follow in her train;
The tramp of marching hosts disturbs the plough,
The sword, not sickle, reaps the harvest now,
And where the soldier gleans the scant supply,
The helpless peasant but retires to die;
No laws his hut from licensed outrage shield,
And war's least horror is the' ensanguined field.
Fruitful in vain, the matron counts with pride
The blooming youths that grace her honoured side;
No son returns to press her widowed hand,
Her fallen blossoms strew a foreign strand.
—Fruitful in vain, she boasts her virgin race,
Whom cultured arts adorn and gentlest grace;
Defrauded of its homage, Beauty mourns,
And the rose withers on its virgin thorns.
Frequent, some stream obscure, some uncouth name,
By deeds of blood is lifted into fame;
Oft o'er the daily page some soft one bends
To learn the fate of husband, brothers, friends,
Or the spread map with anxious eye explores,
Its dotted boundaries and penciled shores,
Asks where the spot that wrecked her bliss is found,
And learns its name but to detest the sound.
And think'st thou, Britain, still to sit at ease,
An island queen amidst thy subject seas,
While the vext billows, in their distant roar,
But soothe thy slumbers, and but kiss thy shore?
To sport in wars, while danger keeps aloof,
Thy grassy turf unbruised by hostile hoof?
So sing thy flatterers;—but, Britain, know,
Thou who hast shared the guilt must share the woe.
Nor distant is the hour; low murmurs spread,
And whispered fears, creating what they dread;
Ruin, as with an earthquake shock, is here,
There, the heart-witherings of unuttered fear,
And that sad death, whence most affection bleeds,
Which sickness, only of the soul, precedes.
Thy baseless wealth dissolves in air away,
Like mists that melt before the morning ray:
No more on crowded mart or busy street
Friends, meeting friends, with cheerful hurry greet;
Sad, on the ground thy princely merchants bend
Their altered looks, and evil days portend,
And fold their arms, and watch with anxious breast
The tempest blackening in the distant West.
Yes, thou must droop; thy Midas dream is o'er;
The golden tide of Commerce leaves thy shore,
Leaves thee to prove the' alternate ills that haunt
Enfeebling Luxury and ghastly Want;
Leaves thee, perhaps, to visit distant lands,
And deal the gifts of Heaven with equal hands.
Yet, O my Country, name beloved, revered,
By every tie that binds the soul endeared,
Whose image to my infant senses came
Mixt with Religion's light and Freedom's holy flame!
If prayers may not avert, if 'tis thy fate
To rank amongst the names that once were great,
Not like the dim, cold Crescent shalt thou fade,
Thy debt to Science and the Muse unpaid;
Thine are the laws surrounding states revere,
Thine the full harvest of the mental year,
Thine the bright stars in Glory's sky that shine,
And arts that make it life to live are thine.
If westward streams the light that leaves thy shores,
Still from thy lamp the streaming radiance pours.
Wide spreads thy race from Ganges to the pole,
O'er half the western world thy accents roll:
Nations beyond the Apalachian hills
Thy hand has planted and thy spirit fills:
Soon as their gradual progress shall impart
The finer sense of morals and of art,
Thy stores of knowledge the new states shall know,
And think thy thoughts, and with thy fancy glow;
Thy Lockes, thy Paleys shall instruct their youth,
Thy leading star direct their search for truth;
Beneath the spreading platan's tent-like shade,
Or by Missouri's rushing waters laid,
“Old father Thames” shall be the poet's theme,
Of Hagley's woods the' enamoured virgin dream,
And Milton's tones the raptured ear enthrall,
Mixt with the roaring of Niagara's fall;
In Thomson's glass the' ingenuous youth shall learn
A fairer face of Nature to discern;
Nor of the bards that swept the British lyre
Shall fade one laurel, or one note expire.
Then, loved Joanna, to admiring eyes
Thy storied groups in scenic pomp shall rise;
Their high-souled strains and Shakespear's noble rage
Shall with alternate passion shake the stage.
Some youthful Basil from thy moral lay
With stricter hand his fond desires shall sway;
Some Ethwald, as the fleeting shadows pass,
Start at his likeness in the mystic glass;
The tragic Muse resume her just controul,
With pity and with terror purge the soul,
While wide o'er transatlantic realms thy name
Shall live in light, and gather all its fame.
Where wanders Fancy down the lapse of years
Shedding o'er imaged woes untimely tears?
Fond moody power! as hopes—as fears prevail,
She longs, or dreads, to lift the awful veil,
On visions of delight now loves to dwell,
Now hears the shriek of woe or Freedom's knell:
Perhaps, she says, long ages past away,
And set in western waves our closing day,
Night, Gothic night, again may shade the plains
Where Power is seated, and where Science reigns;
England, the seat of arts, be only known
By the grey ruin and the mouldering stone;
That Time may tear the garland from her brow,
And Europe sit in dust, as Asia now.
Yet then the' ingenuous youth whom Fancy fires
With pictured glories of illustrious sires,
With duteous zeal their pilgrimage shall take
From the Blue Mountains, or Ontario's lake,
With fond adoring steps to press the sod
By statesmen, sages, poets, heroes trod;
On Isis' banks to draw inspiring air,
From Runnymede to send the patriot's prayer;
In pensive thought, where Cam's slow waters wind,
To meet those shades that ruled the realms of mind;
In silent halls to sculptured marbles bow,
And hang fresh wreaths round Newton's awful brow.
Oft shall they seek some peasant's homely shed,
Who toils, unconscious of the mighty dead,
To ask where Avon's winding waters stray,
And thence a knot of wild flowers bear away;
Anxious inquire where Clarkson, friend of man,
Or all-accomplished Jones his race began;
If of the modest mansion aught remains
Where Heaven and Nature prompted Cowper's strains;
Where Roscoe, to whose patriot breast belong
The Roman virtue and the Tuscan song,
Led Ceres to the black and barren moor
Where Ceres never gained a wreath before:
With curious search their pilgrim steps shall rove
By many a ruined tower and proud alcove,
Shall listen for those strains that soothed of yore
Thy rock, stern Skiddaw, and thy fall, Lodore;
Feast with Dun Edin's classic brow their sight,
And “visit Melross by the pale moonlight.”
But who their mingled feelings shall pursue
When London's faded glories rise to view?
The mighty city, which by every road,
In floods of people poured itself abroad;
Ungirt by walls, irregularly great,
No jealous drawbridge, and no closing gate;
Whose merchants (such the state which commerce brings)
Sent forth their mandates to dependent kings;
Streets, where the turban'd Moslem, bearded Jew,
And woolly Afric, met the brown Hindu;
Where through each vein spontaneous plenty flowed,
Where Wealth enjoyed, and Charity bestowed.
Pensive and thoughtful shall the wanderers greet
Each splendid square, and still, untrodden street;
Or of some crumbling turret, mined by time,
The broken stairs with perilous step shall climb,
Thence stretch their view the wide horizon round,
By scattered hamlets trace its ancient bound,
And, choked no more with fleets, fair Thames survey
Through reeds and sedge pursue his idle way.
With throbbing bosoms shall the wanderers tread
The hallowed mansions of the silent dead,
Shall enter the long isle and vaulted dome
Where Genius and where Valour find a home;
Awe-struck, midst chill sepulchral marbles breathe,
Where all above is still, as all beneath;
Bend at each antique shrine, and frequent turn
To clasp with fond delight some sculptured urn,
The ponderous mass of Johnson's form to greet,
Or breathe the prayer at Howard's sainted feet.
Perhaps some Briton, in whose musing mind
Those ages live which Time has cast behind,
To every spot shall lead his wondering guests
On whose known site the beam of glory rests:
Here Chatham's eloquence in thunder broke,
Here Fox persuaded, or here Garrick spoke;
Shall boast how Nelson, fame and death in view,
To wonted victory led his ardent crew,
In England's name enforced, with loftiest tone,
Their duty,—and too well fulfilled his own:
How gallant Moore,
as ebbing life dissolved,
But hoped his country had his fame absolved.
Or call up sages whose capacious mind
Left in its course a track of light behind;
Point where mute crowds on Davy's lips reposed,
And Nature's coyest secrets were disclosed;
Join with their Franklin, Priestley's injured name,
Whom, then, each continent shall proudly claim.
Oft shall the strangers turn their eager feet
The rich remains of ancient art to greet,
The pictured walls with critic eye explore,
And Reynolds be what Raphael was before.
On spoils from every clime their eyes shall gaze,
Egyptian granites and the' Etruscan vase;
And when midst fallen London, they survey
The stone where Alexander's ashes lay,
Shall own with humbled pride the lesson just
By Time's slow finger written in the dust.
There walks a Spirit o'er the peopled earth,
Secret his progress is, unknown his birth;
Moody and viewless as the changing wind,
No force arrests his foot, no chains can bind;
Where'er he turns, the human brute awakes,
And, roused to better life, his sordid hut forsakes:
He thinks, he reasons, glows with purer fires,
Feels finer wants, and burns with new desires:
Obedient Nature follows where he leads;
The steaming marsh is changed to fruitful meads;
The beasts retire from man's asserted reign,
And prove his kingdom was not given in vain.
Then from its bed is drawn the ponderous ore,
Then Commerce pours her gifts on every shore,
Then Babel's towers and terraced gardens rise,
And pointed obelisks invade the skies;
The prince commands, in Tyrian purple drest,
And Egypt's virgins weave the linen vest.
Then spans the graceful arch the roaring tide,
And stricter bounds the cultured fields divide.
Then kindles Fancy, then expands the heart,
Then blow the flowers of Genius and of Art;
Saints, heroes, sages, who the land adorn,
Seem rather to descend than to be born;
Whilst History, midst the rolls consigned to fame,
With pen of adamant inscribes their name.
The Genius now forsakes the favoured shore,
And hates, capricious, what he loved before;
Then empires fall to dust, then arts decay,
And wasted realms enfeebled despots sway;
Even Nature's changed; without his fostering smile
Ophir no gold, no plenty yields the Nile;
The thirsty sand absorbs the useless rill,
And spotted plagues from putrid fens distill.
In desert solitudes then Tadmor sleeps,
Stern Marius then o'er fallen Carthage weeps;
Then with enthusiast love the pilgrim roves
To seek his footsteps in forsaken groves,
Explores the fractured arch, the ruined tower,
Those limbs disjointed of gigantic power;
Still at each step he dreads the adder's sting,
The Arab's javelin, or the tiger's spring;
With doubtful caution treads the echoing ground,
And asks where Troy or Babylon is found.
And now the vagrant Power no more detains
The vale of Tempe, or Ausonian plains;
Northward he throws the animating ray,
O'er Celtic nations bursts the mental day:
And, as some playful child the mirror turns,
Now here now there the moving lustre burns;
Now o'er his changeful fancy more prevail
Batavia's dykes than Arno's purple vale,
And stinted suns, and rivers bound with frost,
Than Enna's plains or Baia's viny coast;
Venice the Adriatic weds in vain,
And Death sits brooding o'er Campania's plain;
O'er Baltic shores and through Hercynian groves,
Stirring the soul, the mighty impulse moves;
Art plies his tools, and Commerce spreads her sail,
And wealth is wafted in each shifting gale.
The sons of Odin tread on Persian looms,
And Odin's daughters breathe distilled perfumes
Loud minstrel bards, in Gothic halls, rehearse
The Runic rhyme, and “build the lofty verse:”
The Muse, whose liquid notes were wont to swell
To the soft breathings of the' Æolian shell,
Submits, reluctant, to the harsher tone,
And scarce believes the altered voice her own.
And now, where Cæsar saw with proud disdain
The wattled hut and skin of azure stain,
Corinthian columns rear their graceful forms,
And light varandas brave the wintry storms,
While British tongues the fading fame prolong
Of Tully's eloquence and Maro's song.
Where once Bonduca whirled the scythed car,
And the fierce matrons raised the shriek of war,
Light forms beneath transparent muslins float,
And tutored voices swell the artful note.
Light-leaved acacias and the shady plane
And spreading cedar grace the woodland reign;
While crystal walls the tenderer plants confine,
The fragrant orange and the nectared pine;
The Syrian grape there hangs her rich festoons,
Nor asks for purer air, or brighter noons:
Science and Art urge on the useful toil,
New mould a climate and create the soil,
Subdue the rigour of the northern Bear,
O'er polar climes shed aromatic air,
On yielding Nature urge their new demands,
And ask not gifts but tribute at her hands.
London exults:—on London Art bestows
Her summer ices and her winter rose;
Gems of the East her mural crown adorn,
And Plenty at her feet pours forth her horn;
While even the exiles her just laws disclaim,
People a continent, and build a name:
August she sits, and with extended hands
Holds forth the book of life to distant lands.
But fairest flowers expand but to decay;
The worm is in thy core, thy glories pass away;
Arts, arms and wealth destroy the fruits they bring;
Commerce, like beauty, knows no second spring.
Crime walks thy streets, Fraud earns her unblest bread,
O'er want and woe thy gorgeous robe is spread,
And angel charities in vain oppose:
With grandeur's growth the mass of misery grows.
For see,—to other climes the Genius soars,
He turns from Europe's desolated shores;
And lo, even now, midst mountains wrapt in storm,
On Andes' heights he shrouds his awful form;
On Chimborazo's summits treads sublime,
Measuring in lofty thought the march of Time;
Sudden he calls:—“'Tis now the hour!” he cries,
Spreads his broad hand, and bids the nations rise.
La Plata hears amidst her torrents' roar;
Potosi hears it, as she digs the ore:
Ardent, the Genius fans the noble strife,
And pours through feeble souls a higher life,
Shouts to the mingled tribes from sea to sea,
And swears—Thy world, Columbus, shall be free.