Page images
PDF

its pine-trees in a storm of wind, more impetuous than his action; and yet the senate-house still stands, and (I thank God) we are all safe and well at your service. I was ready to sink for him, and scarce dared to look about me, when I was sure it was all over ; but soon found I might have spared my confusion; all people joined to applaud him. Every thing was quite right; and I dare swear not three people here but think him a model of oratory; for all the duke's little court came with a resolution to be pleased; and when the tone was once given, the university, who ever wait for the judgment of their betters, struck into it with an admirable harmony: for the rest of the performances, they were just what they usually are. Every one, while it lasted, was very gay and very busy in the morning, and very owlish and very tipsy at night: I make no exceptions from the chancellor to bluecoat. Mason's ode was the only entertainment that had any tolerable elegance; and, for my own part, I think it (with some little abatements) uncommonly well on such an oceasion. Pray lot me know your sentiments; for doubtless you have seen it. The author of it grows apace into my good graces, as I know him more; he is very ingenious, with great good-nature and simplicity; a little vain, but in so harmless and so comical a way, that it does not oflTend one at all; a little ambitious, but withal so ignorant in the world and its ways that this does not hurt him in one's opinion; so sincere and so undisguised, that no mind with a spark of generosity, would ever think of hurting him, ho lies so open to injury; but so indolent, that if he can not overcome this habit, all his good qualities will signify nothing at all. After all, I like him so well, I could wish you knew him.

TO HIS MOTHER

Cambridge, Nov. 7, 1749.

The unhappy news I have just received from you equally surprises and afflicts me.* 1 have lost a person I loved very much, and have hcen used to from my infancy; but am much more concerned for your loss, the circumstances of which I forbear to dwell upon, as you must be too sensible of them yourself; and will, I fear, more and more need a consolation that no one can give, except He who has preserved her to you so many years, and, at h.-t, when it was his pleasure, has taken her from as to himself; and perhaps, if we reflect upon what the felt in this life, we may look upon this as an

* lir' death of hn aunt Mrs. Mary Antrobua, who died the Mh of November, and was buried in a vault In Stoke churchyard, near the chancel door, in which also hla mother and Mm-.'.'' Iaecording la the direction In his will) were after i«-'.. buried

instance of his goodness both to her, and to thoM that loved her. She might have languished many yean before our eyes, in a continual inerease oi pain, and totally helpless; she might have long wished to end her misery without being able to attain it; or perhaps even lost all sense. and yet continued to breathe; a sad spectacle to such as must have felt more for her than she could have done for herself. However you may deplore your own loss, yet think that she is at last easy and happy: and has no more oceasion to pity us than we her. I hope, and beg, you will support yourself with that resignation we owe to Him, who gave us our being for our good, and who deprives us of it for the same reason. I would have come to you directly, but you do not say whether you desire I should or not; if you do, I beg I may know it, for there is nothing to hinder me, and 1 am in wry good health.

TO MR. WALPOLE.

Stoke, Jane 12 1JSO.

As I live in a place, where even the ordinary tattle of the town arrives not till it is stale, and which produces no events of its own, you will not desire any excuse from me for writing so seldom, especially as of all people living I know you are the least a friend to letters spun out of one's own brains, with all the toil and constraint that aceompanies sentimental productions. I have been here at Stoke a few days (where I shall continue good part of the summer;) and having put an end to a thing, whose beginning you have seen long ago, I immediately sent it you.* You will, I hope, lock upon it in the light of a thing viUk an end to it; a merit that most of my writings have wanted, and arc like to want, but which this epistle I am determined shall not want, when it tells you that I am ever Yours.

Not that I have done yet; but who could avoid the temptation of finishing so roundly and so cleverly in the manner of good Queen Anne's dayt? Now I have talked of writings; 1 have seen a buck, which is by this time in the press, against Middleton (though without naming him,) by Aslu'ton. As far as I can judge from a very hasty reading, there are things in it new and ingenious, but rather too prolix, and the style here and there savouring too strongly of sermon. I imagine it wih do him eredit. So much for other people, now U self again. You are desired to tell me your opinion, if you can take the pains, of these lines. I un once more, Ever yourt.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

ODE I.

ON THE SPRtNO.

Lo! where the rosy-bosomed hours,

Fair Venus' train, appear,
Disclose the long-expecting flowers,

And wake the purple year,
The attic warbler pours her throat
Responsive to the cuckoo's note,

The untaught harmony of spring, While, whispering pleasure as they fly, Cool zephyrs through the clear blue sky

Their gathered fragrance fling.

Where-er the oak's thick branches streteh

A broader, browner shade,
Where'er the rude and moss-grown beech

O'er-canopies the glade.s
Beside some water's rushy brink
With me the Muse shall sit, and think

(At ease reclined in rustic state)
How vain the ardour of the erowd,
How low, how little, are the proud,

How indigent the great

Still is the toiling hand of Care,

The panting herds repose,
Yet hark! how through the peopled air,

The busy murmur glows!
The insect youth are on the wing,
Eager to taste the honeyed spring,

And float amid the liquid noonjt
Some lightly o'er the current skim,
Some show their gayly-gilded trim,

Quick-glancing to the sun.t

[merged small][ocr errors]

To contemplation's sober eye,*

Such is the race of man,
And they that ereep and they that fly

Shall end where they began.
Alike the busy and the gay
But flutter through life's little day,

In fortune's varying colours drest; Brushed by the hand of rough Mischance, Or chilled by Age, their airy dance

They leave, in dust to rest.

Methinks I hear, in aecents low,

The sportive kind reply,
Poor moralist! and what art thou?

A solitary fly!

Thy joys no glittering female meets,
No hive hast thou of hoarded sweets,

No painted plumage to display;
On hasty wings thy youth is flown,
Thy sun is set, thy spring i s gone—

We frolic while 'tis May.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Still had she gazed, but, 'midst the tide,
Two angel forms were seen to glide,

The Genii of the stream:
Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue,
Through richest purple, to the view

Betrayed a golden gleam.
The hapless nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first, and then a claw,

With many an ardent wish,
She stretehed in vain to reach the prize:
What female heart can gold despise?

What Cat's averse to fishl

Presumptuous maid! with looks intent,
Again she stretehed, again she bent,

Nor knew the gulf between:
(Malignant Fate sat by and mniled,)
The slippery verge her feet beguiled;

She tumbled headlong in.

Eight limes emerging from the flood,
She mewed to every watery god

Some speedy aid to send.
No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirred,
Nor eruel Tom or Susan heard:

A fav'rite has no friend!

From hence, ye Beauties! undeceived,
Know one false step is ne'er retrieved,

And he with caution bold:
Not all that tempts your wandering eyes,
Aud heedless hearts, is lawful prize,

Nor all that glistens gold.

ODE III.

ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE.

Ye distant Spires! ye antique Towers!

That erown the watery glade
Where grateful science still adores

Her Henry's* holy shade;
And ye that from the stately brow
Of Windsor's height s the expanse below

Of grove, of lawn, of mead, survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
Winders the hoary Thames along

His silver-winding way;

Ah happy hills! ah pleasing shade!

Ah fields beloved in vain!
Where once my careless childhood strayed,

A stranger yet to pain!
I feel the gales that from ye blow
A momentary bliss bestow,

As waving fresh their gladsome wing
My weary soul they seem to sooth,
And, redolentt of joy and youth,

To breathe a second spring.

K i, c Henry VL founder of the College. * A ,n' bees their honey redolent of spring

Jtryrten'a Fable on the Pythag. System,

Say, father Thames! forthou hast secc

Full many a sprightly race,
Disporting on thy margent green,

Fhe paths of pleasure trace,
Who foremost now delight to cleave
With pliant arm thy glassy wave?

The captive linnet which enthral?
What idle progeny suceeed
To chase the rolling circle's speed,

Or urge the flying ball?

While some, on earnest business oem,

Their murmunng labours ply
'Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint.

To sweeten liberty;
Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign,

And unknown regions dare desery
Still as they run they louk behind,
They hear a voice in every wind,

And snateh a fearful joy.

Gay hope is theirs, by fancy fed,

Less pleasing when possest; The tear forgot as soon as shed,

The sunshine of the breast; Their buxom health of rosy hue, sWild wit, invention ever new,

And lively cheer of vigour bom; The thoughtless day. the easy night, The spirits pure, the slumbers light

That fly the approach of morn.

Alas! regardless of their doom,

The little victims play!
No sense have they ef ills to come,

Nor care beyond to-day:
Yet see how all around 'em wait
The ministers of human fate,

And black Misfortune's baleful train! Ah! show them where in ambush stand, To seize their prey, the murderous band I

Ah! tell them they are men.

These shall the fury passions tear,

The vultures of the mind;
Disdainful anger, pallid fear,

And shame that skulks behind;
Or pining love shall waste their youth,
Or jealousy, with rankling tooth,

That inly gnaws the seeret heart;
And envy wan, and faded care,
Grim-visaged, comfortlens despair,

And sorrow's piercing dart.

Ambition this shall tempt to rist,
Then whirl the wreteh from high.

To bitter^ scorn a saerif,ce.
And grinning infamy,

The stings of falsehood those shall try

And hard unkindnesi' altered eye,

That mocks the tear it forced to flow; And keen remorse, with blood defiled, And moody madness* laughing wild

Amid severest wo.

I.'! in the vale of years beneath

A grisly troop are seen,
The painful family of death,

More hideous than their queen:
This racks the joints, this li It- the veins,
That every lab'ring sinew strains,

Those in the deeper vitals rage;
Lo! pove'rty to fill the hand,
Thai numbs the soul with icy hand,

And slow-consuming age.

To each his sufferings; all are men

Condemned alike to groan, The tender for another's pain, . Th' unfeeling for his own. fel ah! why should they know their fate Since sorrow never comes too late,

And happiness too swiftly flies? Thought would destroy their paradise, No more; where ignorance is bliss

'Tis folly to be wise.

ODJE IV.

TO ADVERSITY.

Daughter of Jove, relentless power,

Thou tamer of the human breast,
Whose iron scourge and torturing hour

The bad affright, afflict the best!
Bound in thy adamantine chain,
The proud are taught to taste of pain,
And purple tyrants vainly groan
With pangs unfelt before, unpitied and alone.

When first thy sire to send on earth

Virtue, his darling child, designed, To thee he gave the heavenly birth,

And bad-' to form her infant mind; Stern rugged nurse! thy rigid lore With patience many a year she bore: What sorrow was thou bad'st her know, And from her own she learned to melt at others' wo.

Saered at thy frown terrific fly

Self-pleasing folly's idle brood,
Wild laughter, noise and thoughtless joy,

And leave us leisure to be good.
Light they disperse; and with them go
The Bummir friend, the flattering foe:
By vain prosperity received,
To her they vow their truth, and are again be-
lieved.

'And Madneaa Ie.ughing In his Ireful mood.

l)syde>,'s FaUt of Palawan and Arctte.

Wisdom, in sable garb arrayed,

Immersed in rapt'rous thought profound,

And melancholy, silent maid,
With leaden eye, that loves the ground,

Still on thy solemn ste|u attend;

Warm charity, the general friend,

With justice, to herself severe,

And pity, dropping soft the sadly-pleasing tear.

Oh! gently on thy suppliant's head,

Dread goddess! lay thy chasteinng hand,
Not in thy Gorgon terrors clad,

Nor circled with the vengeful band;
(As by the impious thou art seen,)
With thundering voice and threatening mien,
With sereaming horror's funeral ery,
Despair, and fell disease, and ghastly poverty.

Thy form benign, O Goddess! wear,

Thy milder influence impart, Thy philosophic train be there,

To soften, not to wound my heart: The generous spark extinct revive; Teach me to love and to forgive; Exact my own defects to scan, What others are to feel, and know myself a man.

ODE V.

THE PROGRESS OF POESY.—PINDARIC.

Adtertiserltent. When the author lira published this and the following Ode, he was advised, even by his f,iends, to subIoin some few explanatory notes, hut had too much respect for the under* standing of his readers to take that liberty ^

I. 1.

Awake, JEulian lyre! awake,*

And give to rapture all thy trembling strings;

From Helicon's harmonious springs

A thousand rills their mazy progress take;

The laughing flowers, that round them blow,

Drink life and fragrance as they flow

Now the rich stream of music winds along

Deep, majestie, smooth, and strong,

Through verdant vales and Ceres' golden reign;

Now rolling down the steep amain,

Headlong, impetous, see it pour;

The rocks and nodding groves rebellow to the roar.

'Awake, my glory! awake, Iu:? onJ harp.

Davtft Ptalms.

Pindar styles hls own poetry, with its mt,nical aecompanl. ments, .T.odan son", .Kolian strings, the breath of the ^Eotian flute. The subIect and simile, as una.' with Pindar, are bcra united. The various sources of poetry, wnich elves life ,u,d lustre to all it touches, are here deseritied, M well in iw qulel maIestic progrese, enriching every subIect Iotherwise dry »nd barren) with all the pomp of diction, snd luxuriant hurnv,nr of numbers, as In In more rapid and irresistible course when swollen and hurried away bI1 Un confltct of tumultuous ra»

1.2.

Oh sovereign* of the willing soul,
Parent of sweet and solemn-breathing aira,
Enchanting shell! the sullen cares
And frantic passions hear thy soft control.
On Thracia's hills the lord of war
Has curbed the fury of his car,
And dropped his thirsty lance at thy command:
Perching on the sceptred handt
Of Jove, thy magic lulls the feathered king
With ruffled plumes and flagging wtng;
Quenched in dark clouds of slumber lie
The terror of his beak and lightning of his eye.

I. 3.

Theet the voice, the dance obey,
Tempered to thy warbled lay:
O'er Idalia's velvet green
The rosy-erowned loves are seen,
On Cytherea's day,

With antic sports and blue-eyed pleasures
Frisking light in frolic measures:
Now pursuing, now retreating,
Now in circling troops they meet;
To brisk notes in cadence beating
Glance their many-twinkling feet.
Slow-melting strains their queen's approach declare;
Where'er she turns the graces homage pay:
With arms sublime, that float upon the air,
In gliding state she wins her easy way;
O'er her warm check and rising bosom move
The bloom of young desire and purple light of love.

II. 1.

• Man's feeble race what ills await II
Labour and penury, the rack of pain,
Disease, and sorrow's weeping train,
And death, sad refuge from the storms of fate!
The fond complaint, my song! disprove,
And justify the laws of Jove.
Say, has he given in vain the heavenly nuisc?
Night and all her sickly dews,
Her spectres wan, and birds of boding cry,
He gives to range the dreary sky,
Till down the eastern cliffs afarll
Hyperion's march they spy and glittering shafts of
war.

II. 2. .

In climes* beyond the solar road,t
Where shaggy forms o'er ice-built mountains roam,
The muse has broke the twilight-gloom
To cheer the shivering native's dull abode:
And oft beneath the odorous shade
Of Chili's boundless forests laid,
She deigns to hear the savage youth repeat,
In loose numbers, wildly sweet,
Their feather-cinctured chiefs and dusky love*.
Her track, where'er the goddess roves,
Glory pursue, and generous shame,
The unconquerable mind and freedom'!holy fl.iroe

II. 3.

Woods that wave o'er Delphi's steep,t
Isles that erown the JEgenn deep,
Fields that cool llissus laves,
Or where Meander's amber waves
In lingenng labyrinths ereep,
How do your tuneful echoes languish,
Mute but to the voice of anguish?
Where each old poetic mountain
Inspiration breathed around,
Every shade and hallowed fountain
Murmured deep a solemn sound,
Till the sad nine, in Greece's evil hour,
Left their Parnassus for the Latian plains:
Alike they scorn the pomp of tyrant power
And coward vice, that revels in her chains,
When Latium had her lofty spirit lost,
They sought, oh, Albion! next thy sea-enoiclei
coast.

III. 1.

Far from the sun and summer gale,

In thy green lap was nature's darlingf laid,

What time, where lucid Avon strayed

To him the mighty mother did unveil

Her awful face; the dauntless child

Stretehed forth his little arms, and smiled.

This pencil take (she said) whose colours clear

Richly paint the vernal year;

Thine too these golden keys, immortal boy!

This can unlock the gates of joy;

Of horror that, and thrilling fears,

Or ope the saered source of sympathetic tears.

• Power of harmony to calm the turbulent passion . or the •mtl. The lim,t' Ins are borrowed from the f,rst Py ,Mian of P,ndar.

t Thto b a weak Imitation of some beautiful lines In the •une ode.

t Power of harmony to produce all the graces of motion In tUbody.

{ To compensate the real or imaginary ills of life, the mtue was given to mankind by the same Providence that sends the d:.y by iu cheerful pretence to dispel the gloom and tenon of Uw night.

I Or seen the morning's well-appointed star,
Come marrUng up the esmrr htlli ufa.—Oawley.

'Extensive influence of poetic genius over the remote* asw most uncivilized nations; iu connexion with liberty, and the virtues that naturally attend on it. ISee the Ersr, Nor*-ma'. and Welsh Fragments, the Lapland and American Songs, ic-,

t Extra anni solisque vias.— Vtrgtl. Tutta lontana dal camin del role.—Petrurdk. Cam. 2

I Progress of poetry from Greece to Italy, and from Italy u Ensland. Chaucer was not unacquainted with the writing! of Dante or of Petrarch. The Earl of Surrey and Str Thonu, Wyatt had travelled In Italy, and formed their taste then' Spencer imitated the Italian writers, Milton improved on then. but thia school expired soon after the reKoratkm, and • Mw one arose on the French model, which has subsisted e r*i sues

S Shakspeure.

« PreviousContinue »