Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHA P. XX I V. The Pain arising from virtuous emo

tions attended with Pleasure..

Be told the ways

Of Heav'n's eternal destiny to man,
For ever just, benevolent and wise :
That Virtue's awful steps, howe'er pursued
}}y. vexing Fortune and intrusive Pain,
Should never be divided from lier chaste,
Her fair attendant , Pleasure Need I urge
Thy tardy thought through all the various round
of ihis existence, that thy softning soul
At length may learn what energy the hand.
Of Virtue mingles in the bitter tide
Of passion swelling with distress and pain,
To mitigate the sharp with gracious drops
Of cordial Pleasure ?--Ask the faithful youth,
Why the cold urn of her whom long he lov'd,
So often fills his arms; so often draws
His lonely footsteps, at the silent hour,
To
pay

the mournful tribute of his tears?
! he will tell thee that the wealth of yvorlds
Should ne'er seduce his bosom to forego
That sacred hour, when stealing from the noise
Of

and

envy , sweef remembrance sooths With virtue's kindest looks his aching breast, And turns his tears to rapture.--Ask the crow

À Which flies impatient from the village-walk To climb the neighb’ring cliffs, when far below The cruel winds have hurl'd

upon

the coast Some hapless bark; while sacred pity melts The gen'ral eye, or terror's icy hand Suites their distorted limbs and horrent hair; While every

mother closer to her breast Catches her child, and pointing where the waves Foam thro' the shatter'd vessel, shricks alond, As one poor wretch, that spreads lis pitious arme For succour , swallow'd by the roaring surge ja

care

As now another , dash'd against the rock,
Drops lifeless down. O deemest thou indeed
No kind endearment here by nature givin
To mutual terror and compassion's tears?
No sweetly-melting softness which attracts
O'er all that edge of pain, the social pow'rs
To this their proper action and their end?
Ask thy own heart; when at the midnight hour,
Slow thro' that studious gloom thy pausing eye
Led by the glimm’ring taper moves around
The sacred volumes of the dead, the songs
Of Grecian bards, and records writ by fame
For Grecian Heroes, where the present pow'r
Of heav'n and earth surveys th' immortal

page,
E'en as a father blessing , while he reads
The praises of his son, if then thy soul,
Spurning the yoke of these inglorious days,
Mix in their deeds and kindle with their flame:
Say, when the prospect blackens on thy view,
When rooted from the base , heroic States
Mourn in the dust, and tremble at the frown
Of curst ambition; when the pious band
Of youths that fought for freedom and their sires
Lie side by side in gore;--when ruffian-pride
Usurps the throne of justice, turns the pomp
Of public pow'r, the majesty of rule,
The sword, the laurel, and the purple robe,
To slavish empty pageants, to adorn
A tyrant's walk, and glitter in the eyes
Of such as bow the knee; — when honour'd urns.
Of patriots and of chiefs, the awful bust
And storied arch, to glut the coward rage
Of regal envy, strew the public way
With hallow'd ruins!-when the muse's haunt,
The marble porch, where wisdom wont to talk
With Socrates or Tully, hears no more,
Save the hoarse jargon of contentious monks,
Or female superstition's midnight pray'r ;-
When ruthless rapine from the hand of time
Tears the destroying scythe, with surer blow
To sweep the works of glory from their base;

Till desolation o'er the

grass-grown

street
Expands his raven-wings, and up the wall,
Where senates once the pride of monarchs doom'd,
Hisses the gliding snake thro' boary weeds ,
That clasp the mould'ring column:thus defacd,
Thus widely mournful when the prospect thrills
Thy beating bosom, when the patriot's tear
Starts from thine eye, and thy extended arm
In fancy hurls the thunderbolt of Jove
To fire the impious wreath on Philip's brow,
Or dash Octavius from the trophied car ;-
Say, does thy secret soul repine to taste
The big distress? Or wouldst thou then exchange
Those heart-ennobling sorrows, for the lot
Of him who sits amid the gaudy herd
Of mute barbarians bending to his nod,
And bears aloft his gold-invested front,
And says within himself, I am a king,
» And wherefore should the clanı'rous voice of woe
» Intrude

upon
mine ear

} -The baleful dregs Of these late ages, this inglorious draught Of servitude and folly , have not yet , (Blest be th’Eternal Ruler of the world !) Defild to such a depth of sordid shame The native honours of the human soul, Nor so effac'd the image of its sire.

AKENSIDE. CH A P. X X V.

On Taste, Sax, what is taste , but the internal powers Active, and strong, and feelingly alive To each fine impulse ? a discerning sense Of decent and sublime, with quick disgust Froni things deformid , or disarrang'd, or gross In species? This nor gems , nor stores of gold, Nor purple state , nor culture can bestow; But God alone, when first his active hand Imprints the sacred bias of the soul. He, mighty Parent! wise and just in all, Free as the vital breeze, or light of heav'n ,

In every

Reveals the charms of nature. Ask the swain
Who journies homeward from a summer-day's
Long labour, why forgetful of his toils
And due repose , he loiters to behold
The sunshine gleaming as thro' amber clouds,
O'er all the western sky! Full soon, I ween,
His rude expression and untutor'd airs,
Beyond the pow'r of language, will unfold
The form of beauty smiling at his heart,
How lovely! how commanding ! But tho Heaven

breast hath sown these early -seeds
Of love and admiration, yet in vain,
Without fair culture's kind parental aid,
Without enlivening suns, and genial show'rs,
And shelter from the blast, in vain we hope
The tender plant should rear its blooming head,
Or yield the harvest promis'd in its spring.
Nor yet will every soil with equal stores
Repay the tiller's labour; or attend
His will, obsequious, whether to produce
The olive or the laurel: diff'rent minds
Incline to diff'rent objects: one pursues
The vast alone, the wonderful, the wild;
Another sighs for harmony and grace,
And gentlest beauty. Hence when lightning fires
The arch of heav'n, and thunders rock the ground;
When furious whirlwinds rend the howling air,
And ocean , groaning from his lowest bed,
Heaves his tempestuous billows to the sky;
Amid the mighty, uproar, while below
The nations tremble, Shakespeare looks abroad
From some high cliff, superior , and enjoys.
The elemental war. But Waller longs,
All the

margin of some Low'ry stream.,, To spread his careless limbs amid the cool Of plantain shades, and to the listiring deer;g, The tale of slighted vows and love's disdain Resounds soft warbling, all the live-long day :: Consenting Zephyr sighs; the weeping rill Joins in his plaint , melodious; mute the groves ; And hill and dale with all their echoes mourn. Suchandso various are the tastes of men. AKENSIDE.,

on

CH A P. X X V I. The Pleasures arising from a cultivated

imagination. Oblest of Hear'n, whom not the languid songs Of luxury, the Siren! not the bribes. Of sordid wealth, nor all the gaudy spoils Of pageant honour, can seduce to leave Those ever blooming sweets, which from the store. Of nature, fair imagination culis To charm th' enliven'd soui! What tho' not all. Of mortal offspring can attain the height Of envied life; tho’ only few possess Patrician treasures or imperial state : Yet nature's care, to all'her children just, With richer treasures and an ampler state Endows at large whatever happy nian Will deign to use them. His the city's pomp, The rural honours his. Whate'er adorns The princely dome, the column and the arch The breathing marbles and the sculptur'd gold Beyond the proud possessor's narrow claim , His tuneful breast enjoys. For him the spring Distils her dews, and from the silken gem Its lucid leaves unfolds; for him the hand Of autumn tinges every fertile branch With blooming gold, and blushes like the morn.. Each passing hour sheds tribute from her wings ;; And still new beauties meet his lonely walk, And loves unfelt attract him. Not a breeze Flies o'er the meadow, not a cloud imbibesThe setting sun's effulgence, not a strain From all the tenants of the warbling shade Ascends, but whence his bosom can partake Fresh pleasure, unreprov'd. Nor then partakes. Fresh pleasure only : for th' attentive mind By this harmonious action on her pow'rs Becomes herself harmonious : wont so ost. In.outward things to mediate the charm.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »