'Edward, lo! to sudden fate (Weave we the woof: the thread is spun) Half of thy heart we consecrate. (The web is wove. The work is done.) Stay, oh stay! nor thus forlorn Leave me unblessed, unpitied, here to mourn! In yon bright track, that fires the western skies, They melt, they vanish from my eyes. But oh! what solemn scenes on Snowdon's height, Descending slow, their glittering skirts unroll? Visions of glory, spare my aching sight! Ye unborn ages, crowd not on my soul! No more our long-lost Arthur we bewail: All hail, ye genuine kings, Britannia's issue, hail!
'Girt with many a baron bold, Sublime their starry fronts they rear; And gorgeous dames, and statesmen old In bearded majesty, appear. In the midst a form divine! Her eye proclaims her of the Briton line; Her lion-port, her awe-commanding face, Attempered sweet to virgin-grace. What strings symphonious tremble in the air, What strains of vocal transport round her play! Hear from the grave, great Taliessin, hear: They breathe a soul to animate thy clay. Bright Rapture calls, and, soaring as she sings, Waves in the eye of Heaven her many-coloured wings.
'The verse adorn again Fierce War and faithful Love And Truth severe, by fairy Fiction dressed. In buskined measures move Pale Grief and pleasing Pain, With Horror, tyrant of the throbbing breast. A voice, as of the cherub-choir, Gales from blooming Eden bear; And distant warblings lessen on my ear, That, lost in long futurity, expire. Fond impious man, think'st thou yon sanguine cloud, Raised by thy breath, has quenched the orb of day! To-morrow he repairs the golden flood, And warms the nations with redoubled ray. Enough for me; with joy I see The different doom our Fates assign: Be thine Despair and sceptred Care; To triumph and to die are mine.' He spoke, and headlong from the mountain's height Deep in the roaring tide he plunged to endless night.
THE FATAL SISTERS
AN ODE FROM THE NORSE TONGUE
How the storm begins to lower, (Haste, the loom of hell prepare,) Iron-sleet of arrowy shower Hurtles in the darkened air.
Glittering lances are the loom, Where the dusky warp we strain, Weaving many a soldier's doom, Orkney's woe, and Randver's bane.
See the grisly texture grow, ('Tis of human entrails made,) And the weights, that play below, Each a gasping warrior's head.
Shafts for shuttles, dipped in gore, Shoot the trembling cords along. Sword, that once a monarch bore, Keep the tissue close and strong.
Mista black, terrific maid, Sangrida, and Hilda see, Join the wayward work to aid: 'Tis the woof of victory.
Ere the ruddy sun be set, Pikes must shiver, javelins sing, Blade with clattering buckler meet, Hauberk crash, and helmet ring.
(Weave the crimson web of war.) Let us go, and let us fly, Where our friends the conflict share, Where they triumph, where they die.
As the paths of fate we tread, Wading through th' ensanguined field: Gondula, and Geira, spread O'er the youthful king your shield.
We the reins to slaughter give, Ours to kill, and ours to spare: Spite of danger he shall live. (Weave the crimson web of war.)
They, whom once the desert-beach Pent within its bleak domain, Soon their ample sway shall stretch O'er the plenty of the plain.
Low the dauntless earl is laid, Gored with many a gaping wound: Fate demands a nobler head; Soon a king shall bite the ground.
Long his loss shall Erin weep, Ne'er again his likeness see; Long her strains in sorrow steep, Strains of immortality!
Horror covers all the heath, Clouds of carnage blot the sun. Sisters,—weave the web of death; Sisters, cease, the work is done.
Hail the task, and hail the hands! Songs of joy and triumph sing! Joy to the victorious bands; Triumph to the younger king.
Mortal, thou that hear'st the tale, Learn the tenor of our song. Scotland, through each winding Tale Far and wide the notes prolong.
Sisters, hence with spurs of speed: Each her thundering falchion wield; Each bestride her sable steed. Hurry, hurry to the field.
ODE ON THE PLEASURE ARISING FROM VICISSITUDE
Now the golden Morn aloft Waves her dew-bespangled wing; With vermeil cheek and whisper soft She wooes the tardy Spring; Till April starts, and calls around The sleeping fragrance from the ground, And lightly o'er the living scene Scatters his freshest, tenderest green.
New-born flocks, In rustic dance, Frisking ply their feeble feet; Forgetful of their wintry trance, The birds his presence greet; But chief the sky-lark warbles high His trembling, thrilling ecstasy, And, lessening from the dazzled sight, Melts into air and liquid light.
Rise, my soul! on wings of fire Rise the rapturous choir among! Hark! 'tis Nature strikes the lyre, And leads the general song. [Four lines lacking in the MS.]
Yesterday the sullen year Saw the snowy whirlwind fly; Mute was the music of the air, The herd stood drooping by: Their raptures now that wildly flow No yesterday nor morrow know; 'Tis man alone that joy descries With forward and reverted eyes.
Smiles on past Misfortune's brow Soft Reflection's hand can trace, And o'er the cheek of Sorrow throw A melancholy grace; While Hope prolongs our happier hour, Or deepest shades, that dimly lower And blacken round our weary way, Gilds with a gleam of distant day.
Still where rosy Pleasure leads See a kindred Grief pursue; Behind the steps that Misery treads, Approaching Comfort view: The hues of bliss more brightly glow Chastised by sabler tints of woe, And, blended, form with artful strife The strength and harmony of life.
See the wretch that long has tossed On the thorny bed of pain At length repair his vigour lost And breathe and walk again: The meanest flowret of the vale, The simplest note that swells the gale. The common sun, the air, the skies, To him are opening Paradise.
Humble Quiet builds her cell Near the source whence Pleasure flows; She eyes the clear crystalline well, And tastes it as it goes.
[The rest is lacking.]
From THE VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES
IN IMITATION OF THE TENTH SATIRE OF JUVENAL
In full-blown dignity see Wolsey stand, Law in his voice, and fortune in his hand: To him the church, the realm, their powers consign; Through him the rays of regal bounty shine; Turned by his nod the stream of honour flows; His smile alone security bestows. Still to new heights his restless wishes tower; Claim leads to claim, and power advances power; Till conquest unresisted ceased to please, And rights submitted left him none to seize. At length his sovereign frowns—the train of state Mark the keen glance, and watch the sign to hate: Where'er he turns he meets a stranger's eye; His suppliants scorn him, and his followers fly; Now drops at once the pride of awful state— The golden canopy, the glittering plate, The regal palace, the luxurious board, The liveried army, and the menial lord. With age, with cares, with maladies oppressed, He seeks the refuge of monastic rest. Grief aids disease, remembered folly stings, And his last sighs reproach the faith of kings.
* * * * *
When first the college rolls receive his name, The young enthusiast quits his ease for fame; Through all his veins the fever of renown Spreads from the strong contagion of the gown; O'er Bodley's dome his future labours spread, And Bacon's mansion trembles o'er his head. Are these thy views? Proceed, illustrious youth, And virtue guard thee to the throne of truth! Yet should thy soul indulge the generous heat, Till captive science yields her last retreat; Should reason guide thee with her brightest ray, And pour on misty doubt resistless day; Should no false kindness lure to loose delight, Nor praise relax, nor difficulty fright; Should tempting novelty thy cell refrain, And sloth effuse her opiate fumes in vain; Should beauty blunt on fops her fatal dart, Nor claim the triumph of a lettered heart; Should no disease thy torpid veins invade, Nor melancholy's phantoms haunt thy shade; Yet hope not life from grief or danger free, Nor think the doom of man reversed for thee: Deign on the passing world to turn thine eyes, And pause awhile from letters, to be wise; There mark what ills the scholar's life assail, Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail. See nations slowly wise, and meanly just, To buried merit raise the tardy bust!
* * * * *
On what foundation stands the warrior's pride, How just his hopes, let Swedish Charles decide. A frame of adamant, a soul of fire, No dangers fright him, and no labours tire; O'er love, o'er fear, extends his wide domain, Unconquered lord of pleasure and of pain. No joys to him pacific sceptres yield— War sounds the trump, he rushes to the field; Behold surrounding kings their powers combine, And one capitulate, and one resign: Peace courts his hand, but spreads her charms in vain; 'Think nothing gained,' he cries, 'till naught remain! On Moscow's walls till Gothic standards fly, And all be mine beneath the polar sky!' The march begins in military state, And nations on his eye suspended wait. Stern Famine guards the solitary coast, And Winter barricades the realms of frost. He comes; nor want nor cold his course delay— Hide, blushing Glory, hide Pultowa's day! The vanquished hero leaves his broken bands, And shows his miseries in distant lands, Condemned a needy supplicant to wait While ladies interpose and slaves debate. But did not Chance at length her error mend? Did no subverted empire mark his end? Did rival monarchs give the fatal wound, Or hostile millions press him to the ground? His fall was destined to a barren strand, A petty fortress, and a dubious hand. He left the name at which the world grew pale, To point a moral or adorn a tale.
* * * * *
But grant, the virtues of a temperate prime Bless with an age exempt from scorn or crime; An age that melts with unperceived decay, And glides in modest innocence away; Whose peaceful day Benevolence endears, Whose night congratulating Conscience cheers; The general favourite as the general friend: Such age there is, and who shall wish its end? Yet even on this her load Misfortune flings, To press the weary minutes' flagging wings; New sorrow rises as the day returns, A sister sickens, or a daughter mourns, Now kindred Merit fills the sable bier, Now lacerated Friendship claims a tear. Year chases year, decay pursues decay, Still drops some joy from withering life away; New forms arise, and different views engage, Superfluous lags the veteran on the stage, Till pitying Nature signs the last release, And bids afflicted worth retire to peace.
* * * * *
Where then shall Hope and Fear their objects find? Must dull Suspense corrupt the stagnant mind? Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate, Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate? Must no dislike alarm, no wishes rise, No cries invoke the mercies of the skies?— Enquirer, cease; petitions yet remain, Which Heaven may hear; nor deem religion vain. Still raise for good the supplicating voice, But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice; Safe in His power, whose eyes discern afar The secret ambush of a specious prayer. Implore His aid, in His decisions rest, Secure, whate'er He gives, He gives the best. Yet when the sense of sacred presence fires, And strong devotion to the skies aspires, Pour forth thy fervours for a healthful mind, Obedient passions, and a will resigned; For love, which scarce collective man can fill; For patience, sovereign o'er transmuted ill; For faith, that, panting for a happier seat, Counts death kind Nature's signal of retreat: These goods for man the laws of Heaven ordain; These goods He grants, who grants the power to gain; With these celestial Wisdom calms the mind, And makes the happiness she does not find.
FROM THE GOLDFINCHES
All in a garden, on a currant bush, With wondrous art they built their airy seat; In the next orchard lived a friendly thrush Nor distant far a woodlark's soft retreat.
Here blessed with ease, and in each other blessed, With early songs they waked the neighbouring groves, Till time matured their joys, and crowned their nest With infant pledges of their faithful loves.
And now what transport glowed in either's eye! What equal fondness dealt th' allotted food! What joy each other's likeness to descry; And future sonnets in the chirping brood!
But ah! what earthly happiness can last! How does the fairest purpose often fail? A truant schoolboy's wantonness could blast Their flattering hopes, and leave them both to wail.
The most ungentle of his tribe was he, No generous precept ever touched his heart; With concord false, and hideous prosody, He scrawled his task, and blundered o'er his part.
On mischief bent, he marked, with ravenous eyes, Where wrapped in down the callow songsters lay; Then rushing, rudely seized the glittering prize. And bore it in his impious hands away!
But how stall I describe, in numbers rude, The pangs for poor Chrysomitris decreed, When from her secret stand aghast she viewed The cruel spoiler perpetrate the deed?
'O grief of griefs!' with shrieking voice she cried, 'What sight is this that I have lived to see! O! that I had in youth's fair season died, From love's false joys and bitter sorrows free.'
From A DESCRIPTIVE POEM
... To nature's pride, Sweet Keswick's vale, the Muse will guide: The Muse who trod th' enchanted ground, Who sailed the wondrous lake around, With you will haste once more to hail The beauteous brook of Borrodale.
* * * * *
Let other streams rejoice to roar Down the rough rocks of dread Lodore, Rush raving on with boisterous sweep, And foaming rend the frighted deep; Thy gentle genius shrinks away From such a rude unequal fray; Through thine own native dale where rise Tremendous rocks amid the skies, Thy waves with patience slowly wind, Till they the smoothest channel find, Soften the horrors of the scene, And through confusion flow serene. Horrors like these at first alarm, But soon with savage grandeur charm, And raise to noblest thought the mind: Thus by the fall, Lodore, reclined, The craggy cliff, impendent wood, Whose shadows mix o'er half the flood, The gloomy clouds which solemn sail, Scarce lifted by the languid gale.
* * * * *
Channels by rocky torrents torn, Rocks to the lake in thunder borne, Or such as o'er our heads appear, Suspended in their mid-career, To start again at his command Who rules fire, water, air, and land, I view with wonder and delight, A pleasing, though an awful sight.
* * * * *
And last, to fix our wandering eyes, Thy roofs, O Keswick, brighter rise The lake and lofty hills between, Where Giant Skiddow shuts the scene. Supreme of mountains, Skiddow, hail! To whom all Britain sinks a vale! Lo, his imperial brow I see From foul usurping vapours free! 'Twere glorious now his side to climb, Boldly to scale his top sublime, And thence—My Muse, these flights forbear, Nor with wild raptures tire the fair.
THE FLOWERS OF THE FOREST
I've heard them lilting, at our ewe-milking, Lasses a-lilting, before the dawn of day: But now they are moaning, on ilka green loaning; The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.
At bughts in the morning nae blythe lads are scorning; The lasses are lanely, and dowie, and wae; Nae daffing, nae gabbing, but sighing and sabbing, Ilk ane lifts her leglin, and hies her away.
In hairst, at the shearing, nae youths now are jeering, The bandsters are lyart, and runkled and gray; At fair or at preaching, nae wooing, nae fleeching— The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.
At e'en, in the gloaming, nae swankies are roaming 'Bout stacks wi' the lasses at bogle to play; But ilk ane sits eerie, lamenting her dearie— The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.
Dool and wae for the order sent our lads to the Border! The English, for ance, by guile wan the day; The Flowers of the Forest, that fought aye the foremost, The prime of our land, lie cauld in the clay.
We'll hear nae more lilting at our ewe-milking, Women and bairns are heartless and wae; Sighing and moaning on ilka green loaning, The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.
FROM THE ROSCIAD
[QUIN, THE ACTOR]
His eyes, in gloomy socket taught to roll, Proclaimed the sullen habit of his soul. Heavy and phlegmatic he trod the stage, Too proud for tenderness, too dull for rage. When Hector's lovely widow shines in tears, Or Rowe's gay rake dependent virtue jeers, With the same cast of features he is seen To chide the libertine and court the queen. From the tame scene which without passion flows, With just desert his reputation rose. Nor less he pleased when, on some surly plan, He was at once the actor and the man. In Brute he shone unequalled: all agree Garrick's not half so great a brute as he. When Cato's laboured scenes are brought to view, With equal praise the actor laboured too; For still you'll find, trace passions to their root, Small difference 'twixt the stoic and the brute. In fancied scenes, as in life's real plan, He could not for a moment sink the man. In whate'er cast his character was laid, Self still, like oil, upon the surface played. Nature, in spite of all his skill, crept in: Horatio, Dorax, Falstaff—still 'twas Quin.
FROM THE GHOST
Pomposo, insolent and loud, Vain idol of a scribbling crowd, Whose very name inspires an awe, Whose every word is sense and law, For what his greatness hath decreed, Like laws of Persia and of Mede, Sacred through all the realm of wit, Must never of repeal admit; Who, cursing flattery, is the tool Of every fawning, flattering fool; Who wit with jealous eye surveys, And sickens at another's praise; Who, proudly seized of learning's throne, Now damns all learning but his own; Who scorns those common wares to trade in, Reasoning, convincing, and persuading, But makes each sentence current pass With 'puppy,' 'coxcomb,' 'scoundrel,' 'ass,' For 'tis with him a certain rule, The folly's proved when he calls 'fool'; Who, to increase his native strength, Draws words six syllables in length, With which, assisted with a frown By way of club, he knocks us down.
["TRANSLATIONS" FROM "OSSIAN, THE SON OF FINGAL"]
FROM FINGAL, AN EPIC POEM
[FINGAL'S ROMANTIC GENEROSITY TOWARD HIS CAPTIVE ENEMY]
'King of Lochlin,' said Fingal, 'thy blood flows in the veins of thy foe. Our fathers met in battle, because they loved the strife of spears. But often did they feast in the hall, and send round the joy of the shell. Let thy face brighten with gladness, and thine ear delight in the harp. Dreadful as the storm of thine ocean, thou hast poured thy valour forth; thy voice has been like the voice of thousands when they engage in war. Raise, to-morrow, raise thy white sails to the wind, thou brother of Agandecca! Bright as the beam of noon, she comes on my mournful soul. I have seen thy tears for the fair one. I spared thee in the halls of Starno, when my sword was red with slaughter, when my eye was full of tears for the maid. Or dost thou choose the fight? The combat which thy fathers gave to Trenmor is thine! that thou mayest depart renowned, like the sun setting in the west!'
'King of the race of Morven!' said the chief of resounding Lochlin, 'never will Swaran fight with thee, first of a thousand heroes! I have seen thee in the halls of Starno: few were thy years beyond my own. When shall I, I said to my soul, lift the spear like the noble Fingal? We have fought heretofore, O warrior, on the side of the shaggy Malmor; after my waves had carried me to thy halls, and the feast of a thousand shells was spread. Let the bards send his name who overcame to future years, for noble was the strife of Malmour! But many of the ships of Lochlin have lost their youths on Lena. Take these, thou king of Morven, and be the friend of Swaran! When thy sons shall come to Gormal, the feast of shells shall be spread, and the combat offered on the vale.'
'Nor ship' replied the king, 'shall Fingal take, nor land of many hills. The desert is enough to me, with all its deer and woods. Rise on thy waves again, thou noble friend of Agandecca! Spread thy white sails to the beam of the morning; return to the echoing hills of Gormal.' 'Blest be thy soul, thou king of shells,' said Swaran of the dark-brown shield. 'In peace thou art the gale of spring. In war, the mountain-storm. Take now my hand in friendship, king of echoing Selma! Let thy bards mourn those who fell. Let Erin give the sons of Lochlin to earth. Raise high the mossy stones of their fame: that the children of the north hereafter may behold the place where their fathers fought. The hunter may say, when he leans on a mossy tomb, here Fingal and Swaran fought, the heroes of other years. Thus hereafter shall he say, and our fame shall last for ever!'
'Swaran,' said the king of hills, 'to-day our fame is greatest. We shall pass away like a dream. No sound will remain in our fields of war. Our tombs will be lost in the heath. The hunter shall not know the place of our rest. Our names may be heard in song. What avails it when our strength hath ceased? O Ossian, Carril, and Ullin! you know of heroes that are no more. Give us the song of other years. Let the night pass away on the sound, and morning return with joy.'
We gave the song to the kings. A hundred harps mixed their sound with our voice. The face of Swaran brightened, like the full moon of heaven: when the clouds vanish away, and leave her calm and broad in the midst of the sky.
FROM THE SONGS OF SELMA
It is night; I am alone, forlorn on the hill of storms. The wind is heard in the mountain. The torrent pours down the rock. No hut receives me from the rain, forlorn on the hill of winds.
Rise, moon! from behind thy clouds. Stars of the night, arise! Lead me, some light, to the place where my love rests from the chase alone! his bow near him, unstrung; his dogs panting around him. But here I must sit alone, by the rock of the mossy stream. The stream and the wind roar aloud. I hear not the voice of my love! Why delays my Salgar, why the chief of the hill, his promise? Here is the rock, and here the tree! here is the roaring stream! Thou didst promise with night to be here. Ah! whither is my Salgar gone? With thee I would fly, from my father; with thee, from my brother of pride. Our race have long been foes; we are not foes, O Salgar!
Cease a little while, O wind! stream, be thou silent a while! let my voice be heard around. Let my wanderer hear me! Salgar! it is Colma who calls. Here is the tree and the rock. Salgar, my love! I am here. Why delayest thou thy coming? Lo! the calm moon comes forth. The flood is bright in the vale. The rocks are grey on the steep. I see him not on the brow. His dogs come not before him, with tidings of his near approach. Here I must sit alone!
Who lie on the heath beside me? Are they my love and my brother? Speak to me, O my friends! To Colma they give no reply. Speak to me: I am alone! My soul is tormented with fears! Ah, they are dead! Their swords are red from the fight. O my brother! my brother! why hast thou slain my Salgar? Why, O Salgar! hast thou slain my brother? Dear were ye both to me! what shall I say in your praise? Thou wert fair on the hill among thousands! he was terrible in fight. Speak to me; hear my voice; hear me, sons of my love! They are silent; silent for ever! Cold, cold are their breasts of clay. Oh! from the rock on the hill; from the top of the windy steep, speak, ye ghosts of the dead! speak, I will not be afraid! Whither are ye gone to rest? In what cave of the hill shall I find the departed? No feeble voice is on the gale; no answer half-drowned in the storm!
I sit in my grief? I wait for morning in my tears! Rear the tomb, ye friends of the dead. Close it not till Colma come. My life flies away like a dream! why should I stay behind? Here shall I rest with my friends, by the stream of the sounding rock. When night comes on the hill; when the loud winds arise; my ghost shall stand in the blast, and mourn the death of my friends. The hunter shall hear from his booth. He shall fear, but love my voice! For sweet shall my voice be for my friends: pleasant were her friends to Colma!
[THE LAST WORDS OF OSSIAN]
Such were the words of the bards in the days of song; when the king heard the music of harps, the tales of other times! The chiefs gathered from all their hills and heard the lovely sound. They praised the voice of Cona [Ossian], the first among a thousand bards! But age is now on my tongue; my soul has failed! I hear at times the ghosts of bards, and learn their pleasant song. But memory fails on my mind. I hear the call of years! They say as they pass along, why does Ossian sing? Soon shall he lie in the narrow house, and no bard shall raise his fame! Roll on, ye dark-brown years; ye bring no joy on your course! Let the tomb open to Ossian, for his strength has failed. The sons of song are gone to rest. My voice remains, like a blast that roars lonely on a sea-surrounded rock, after the winds are laid. The dark moss whistles there; the distant mariner sees the waving trees!
FROM A SONG TO DAVID
Strong is the lion-like a coal His eyeball, like a bastion's mole His chest against the foes; Strong the gier-eagle on his sail; Strong against tide th' enormous whale Emerges as he goes:
But stronger still, in earth and air And in the sea, the man of prayer, And far beneath the tide, And in the seat to faith assigned, Where ask is have, where seek is find, Where knock is open wide.
Beauteous the fleet before the gale; Beauteous the multitudes in mail, Ranked arms and crested heads; Beauteous the garden's umbrage mild, Walk, water, meditated wild, And all the bloomy beds;
Beauteous the moon full on the lawn; And beauteous when the veil's withdrawn The virgin to her spouse; Beauteous the temple, decked and filled, When to the heaven of heavens they build Their heart-directed vows:
Beauteous, yea beauteous more than these, The shepherd King upon his knees, For his momentous trust; With wish of infinite conceit For man, beast, mute, the small and great, And prostrate dust to dust.
Precious the bounteous widow's mite; And precious, for extreme delight, The largess from the churl; Precious the ruby's blushing blaze, And Alba's blest imperial rays, And pure cerulean pearl;
Precious the penitential tear; And precious is the sigh sincere, Acceptable to God; And precious are the winning flowers, In gladsome Israel's feast of bowers, Bound on the hallowed sod:
More precious that diviner part Of David, even the Lord's own heart, Great, beautiful, and new; In all things where it was intent, In all extremes, in each event, Proof—answering true to true.
Glorious the sun in mid career; Glorious th' assembled fires appear; Glorious the comet's train; Glorious the trumpet and alarm; Glorious th' Almighty's stretched-out arm; Glorious th' enraptured main;
Glorious the northern lights a-stream; Glorious the song, when God's the theme; Glorious the thunder's roar; Glorious, Hosannah from the den; Glorious the catholic amen; Glorious the martyr's gore:
Glorious, more glorious, is the crown Of Him that brought salvation down, By meekness called Thy son; Thou that stupendous truth believed, And now the matchless deed's achieved, Determined, dared, and done.
FROM THE TRAVELLER; OR, A PROSPECT OF SOCIETY
As some lone miser, visiting his store, Bends at his treasure, counts, recounts It o'er, Hoards after hoards his rising raptures fill, Yet still he sighs, for hoards are wanting still: Thus to my breast alternate passions rise, Pleased with each good that Heaven to man supplies; Yet oft a sigh prevails, and sorrows fall, To see the hoard of human bliss so small, And oft I wish amidst the scene to find Some spot to real happiness consigned, Where my worn soul, each wandering hope at rest. May gather bliss to see my fellows blest. But where to find that happiest spot below, Who can direct, when all pretend to know?
* * * * *
To kinder skies, where gentler manners reign, I turn; and France displays her bright domain. Gay, sprightly land of mirth and social ease, Pleased with thyself, whom all the world can please, How often have I led thy sportive choir, With tuneless pipe, beside the murmuring Loire, Where shading elms along the margin grew, And freshened from the wave the zephyr flew! And haply, though my harsh touch, faltering still, But mocked all tune and marred the dancer's skill, Yet would the village praise my wondrous power, And dance forgetful of the noontide hour. Alike all ages: dames of ancient days Have led their children through the mirthful maze; And the gay grandsire, skilled in gestic lore, Has frisked beneath the burthen of threescore,
So blessed a life these thoughtless realms display; Thus idly busy rolls their world away.
Theirs are those arts that mind to mind endear, For honour forms the social temper here: Honour, that praise which real merit gains, Or e'en imaginary worth obtains, Here passes current; paid from hand to hand, It shifts in splendid traffic round the land; From courts to camps, to cottages it strays, And all are taught an avarice of praise; They pleased, are pleased; they give, to get, esteem, Till, seeming blessed, they grow to what they seem.
But while this softer art their bliss supplies, It gives their follies also room to rise; For praise, too dearly loved or warmly sought, Enfeebles all internal strength of thought, And the weak soul, within itself unblessed, Leans for all pleasure on another's breast. Hence Ostentation here, with tawdry art, Pants for the vulgar praise which fools impart; Here Vanity assumes her pert grimace, And trims her robes of frieze with copper-lace; Here beggar Pride defrauds her daily cheer, To boast one splendid banquet once a year: The mind still turns where shifting fashion draws, Nor weighs the solid worth of self-applause.
* * * * *
Vain, very vain, my weary search to find That bliss which only centres in the mind. Why have I strayed from pleasure and repose, To seek a good each government bestows? In every government, though terrors reign, Though tyrant kings or tyrant laws restrain, How small, of all that human hearts endure, That part which laws or kings can cause or cure! Still to ourselves in every place consigned, Our own felicity we make or find: With secret course, which no loud storms annoy, Glides the smooth current of domestic joy; The lifted axe, the agonizing wheel, Luke's iron crown, and Damiens' bed of steel, To men remote from power but rarely known, Leave reason, faith, and conscience all our own.
THE DESERTED VILLAGE
Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain; Where health and plenty cheered the labouring swain, Where smiling Spring its earliest visit paid, And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed: Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease, Seats of my youth, when every sport could please, How often have I loitered o'er thy green, Where humble happiness endeared each scene! How often have I paused on every charm, The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm, The never-failing brook, the busy mill, The decent church that topped the neighbouring hill, The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade For talking age and whispering lovers made! How often have I blest the coming day, When toil remitting lent its turn to play, And all the village train, from labour free, Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree, While many a pastime circled in the shade, The young contending as the old surveyed; And many a gambol frolicked o'er the ground, And sleights of art and feats of strength went round. And still, as each repeated pleasure tired, Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired; The dancing pair that simply sought renown By holding out to tire each other down; The swain mistrustless of his smutted face, While secret laughter tittered round the place; The bashful virgin's side-long looks of love, The matron's glance that would those looks reprove: These were thy charms, sweet village! sports like these, With sweet succession, taught even toil to please: These round thy bowers their cheerful influence shed: These were thy charms—but all these charms are fled.
Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn, Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen, And desolation saddens all thy green: One only master grasps the whole domain, And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain. No more thy glassy brook reflects the day, But, choked with sedges, works its weedy way; Along the glades, a solitary guest, The hollow sounding bittern guards its nest; Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies, And tires their echoes with unvaried cries; Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all, And the long grass o'ertops the mouldering wall; And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand, Far, far away thy children leave the land.
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates, and men decay: Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade; A breath can make them, as a breath has made: But a bold peasantry, their country's pride, When once destroyed, can never be supplied.
A time there was, ere England's griefs began, When every rood of ground maintained its man; For him light labour spread her wholesome store, Just gave what life required, but gave no more: His best companions, innocence and health; And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are altered; trade's unfeeling train Usurp the land and dispossess the swain; Along the lawn, where scattered hamlets rose, Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose, And every want to opulence allied, And every pang that folly pays to pride. These gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom, Those calm desires that asked but little room, Those healthful sports that graced the peaceful scene, Lived in each look, and brightened all the green; These, far departing, seek a kinder shore, And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Sweet Auburn! parent of the blissful hour, Thy glades forlorn confess the tyrant's power. Here, as I take my solitary rounds Amidst thy tangling walks and ruined grounds, And, many a year elapsed, return to view Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew, Remembrance wakes with all her busy train, Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.
In all my wanderings round this world of care, In all my griefs—and God has given my share— I still had hopes, my latest hours to crown, Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down; To husband out life's taper at the close, And keep the flame from wasting by repose: I still had hopes, for pride attends us still, Amidst the swains to show my book-learned skill, Around my fire an evening group to draw, And tell of all I felt, and all I saw; And, as an hare whom hounds and horns pursue Pants to the place from whence at first she flew, I still had hopes, my long vexations past, Here to return—and die at home at last.
O blest retirement, friend to life's decline, Retreats from care, that never must be mine, How happy he who crowns in shades like these A youth of labour with an age of ease; Who quits a world where strong temptations try, And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly! For him no wretches, born to work and weep, Explore the mine, or tempt the dangerous deep; No surly porter stands in guilty state, To spurn imploring famine from the gate; But on he moves to meet his latter end, Angels around befriending Virtue's friend; Bends to the grave with unperceived decay, While resignation gently slopes the way; And, all his prospects brightening to the last, His Heaven commences ere the world be past!
Sweet was the sound, when oft at evening's close Up yonder hill the village murmur rose. There, as I passed with careless steps and slow, The mingling notes came softened from below; The swain responsive as the milk-maid sung, The sober herd that lowed to meet their young, The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool, The playful children just let loose from school, The watch-dog's voice that bayed the whispering wind, And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind;— These all in sweet confusion sought the shade, And filled each pause the nightingale had made.
But now the sounds of population fail, No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale, No busy steps the grass-grown foot-way tread, For all the bloomy flush of life is fled. All but yon widowed, solitary thing, That feebly bends beside the plashy spring: She, wretched matron, forced in age, for bread, To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread, To pick her wintry faggot from the thorn, To seek her nightly shed, and weep till morn; She only left of all the harmless train, The sad historian of the pensive plain.
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled, And still where many a garden flower grows wild; There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose, The village preacher's modest mansion rose. A man he was to all the country dear, And passing rich with forty pounds a year; Remote from towns he ran his godly race, Nor e'er had changed, nor wished to change his place; Unpractised he to fawn, or seek for power, By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour; Far other aims his heart had learned to prize, More skilled to raise the wretched than to rise. His house was known to all the vagrant train; He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain: The long-remembered beggar was his guest, Whose beard descending swept his aged breast; The ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud, Claimed kindred there, and had his claims allowed; The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay, Sate by his fire, and talked the night away, Wept o'er his wounds, or, tales of sorrow done, Shouldered his crutch and showed how fields were won. Pleased with his guests, the good man learned to glow, And quite forget their vices in their woe; Careless their merits or their faults to scan, His pity gave ere charity began.
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride, And e'en his failings leaned to Virtue's side; But in his duty prompt at every call, He watched and wept, he prayed and felt, for all;
And, as a bird each fond endearment tries To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies, He tried each art, reproved each dull delay, Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way.
Beside the bed where parting life was laid, And sorrow, guilt, and pain by turns dismayed, The reverend champion stood. At his control Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul; Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise, And his last faltering accents whispered praise.
At church, with meek and unaffected grace, His looks adorned the venerable place; Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway, And fools, who came to scoff, remained to pray. The service past, around the pious man, With steady zeal, each honest rustic ran; Even children followed with endearing wile, And plucked his gown to share the good man's smile. His ready smile a parent's warmth expressed; Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distressed: To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given, But all his serious thoughts had rest in Heaven. As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form, Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm, Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread, Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way, With blossomed furze unprofitably gay, There, in his noisy mansion, skilled to rule, The village master taught his little school. A man severe he was, and stern to view; I knew him well, and every truant knew; Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace The days' disasters in his morning face; Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee At all his jokes, for many a joke had he; Full well the busy whisper circling round Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned. Yet he was kind, or, if severe in aught, The love he bore to learning was in fault: The village all declared how much he knew; 'Twas certain he could write, and cipher too; Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage, And even the story ran that he could gauge; In arguing, too, the parson owned his skill, For, even though vanquished, he could argue still; While words of learned length and thundering sound Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around; And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew, That one small head could carry all he knew.
But past is all his fame. The very spot Where many a time he triumphed is forgot. Wear yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high, Where once the sign-post caught the passing eye, Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspired, Where graybeard mirth and smiling toil retired, Where village statesmen talked with looks profound, And news much older than their ale went round. Imagination fondly stoops to trace The parlour splendours of that festive place: The whitewashed wall, the nicely sanded floor, The varnished clock that clicked behind the door: The chest contrived a double debt to pay, A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day; The pictures placed for ornament and use, The twelve good rules, the royal game of goose; The hearth, except when winter chilled the day, With aspen boughs and flowers and fennel gay; While broken tea-cups, wisely kept for show, Ranged o'er the chimney, glistened in a row.
Vain transitory splendours could not all Reprieve the tottering mansion from its fall? Obscure it sinks, nor shall it more impart An hour's importance to the poor man's heart. Thither no more the peasant shall repair To sweet oblivion of his daily care; No more the farmer's news, the barber's tale, No more the woodman's ballad shall prevail; No more the smith his dusky brow shall clear, Relax his ponderous strength, and lean to hear; The host himself no longer shall be found Careful to see the mantling bliss go round; Nor the coy maid, half willing to be pressed, Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest.
Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain, These simple blessings of the lowly train; To me more dear, congenial to my heart, One native charm, than all the gloss of art. Spontaneous joys, where Nature has its play, The soul adopts, and owns their first-born sway; Lightly they frolic o'er the vacant mind, Unenvied, unmolested, unconfined. But the long pomp, the midnight masquerade, With all the freaks of wanton wealth arrayed— In these, ere triflers half their wish obtain, The toiling pleasure sickens into pain; And, e'en while fashion's brightest arts decoy, The heart distrusting asks if this be joy.
Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen who survey The rich man's joys increase, the poor's decay, 'Tis yours to judge, how wide the limits stand Between a splendid and an happy land. Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted ore, And shouting Folly hails them from her shore; Hoards e'en beyond the miser's wish abound, And rich men flock from all the world around. Yet count our gains! This wealth is but a name That leaves our useful products still the same. Not so the loss. The man of wealth and pride Takes up a space that many poor supplied; Space for his lake, his park's extended bounds, Space for his horses, equipage, and hounds: The robe that wraps his limbs in silken sloth Has robbed the neighbouring fields of half their growth; His seat, where solitary sports are seen, Indignant spurns the cottage from the green: Around the world each needful product flies, For all the luxuries the world supplies; While thus the land adorned for pleasure all In barren splendour feebly waits the fall.
As some fair female unadorned and plain, Secure to please while youth confirms her reign, Slights every borrowed charm that dress supplies, Nor shares with art the triumph of her eyes; But when those charms are passed, for charms are frail, When time advances, and when lovers fail, She then, shines forth, solicitous to bless, In all the glaring impotence of dress. Thus fares the land by luxury betrayed: In nature's simplest charms at first arrayed, But verging to decline, its splendours rise, Its vistas strike, its palaces surprise; While, scourged by famine from the smiling land The mournful peasant leads his humble band, And while he sinks, without one arm to save, The country blooms—a garden and a grave.
Where then, ah! where, shall poverty reside, To 'scape the pressure of contiguous pride? If to some common's fenceless limits strayed, He drives his flock to pick the scanty blade, Those fenceless fields the sons of wealth divide, And even the bare-worn common is denied.
If to the city sped—what waits him there? To see profusion that he must not share; To see ten thousand baneful arts combined To pamper luxury, and thin mankind; To see those joys the sons of pleasure know Extorted from his fellow-creature's woe. Here while the courtier glitters in brocade, There the pale artist plies the sickly trade; Here while the proud their long-drawn pomps display, There the black gibbet glooms beside the way. The dome where pleasure holds her midnight reign Here, richly decked, admits the gorgeous train: Tumultuous grandeur crowds the blazing square, The rattling chariots clash, the torches glare. Sure scenes like these no troubles e'er annoy! Sure these denote one universal joy! Are these thy serious thoughts?—Ah, turn thine eyes Where the poor houseless shivering female lies. She once, perhaps, in village plenty blessed, Has wept at tales of innocence distressed; Her modest looks the cottage might adorn, Sweet as the primrose peeps beneath the thorn: Now lost to all; her friends, her virtue fled, Near her betrayer's door she lays her head, And, pinched with cold, and shrinking from the shower, With heavy heart deplores that luckless hour,
When idly first, ambitious of the town, She left her wheel and robes of country brown.
Do thine, sweet Auburn,—thine, the loveliest train,— Do thy fair tribes participate her pain? Even now, perhaps, by cold and hunger led, At proud men's doors they ask a little bread!
Ah, no! To distant climes, a dreary scene, Where half the convex world intrudes between, Through torrid tracts with fainting steps they go, Where wild Altama murmurs to their woe. Far different there from all that charmed before The various terrors of that horrid shore; Those blazing suns that dart a downward ray, And fiercely shed intolerable day; Those matted woods, where birds forget to sing, But silent bats in drowsy clusters cling; Those poisonous fields with rank luxuriance crowned, Where the dark scorpion gathers death around; Where at each step the stranger fears to wake The rattling terrors of the vengeful snake; Where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey, And savage men more murderous still than they; While oft in whirls the mad tornado flies, Mingling the ravaged landscape with the skies. Far different these from every former scene, The cooling brook, the grassy vested green, The breezy covert of the warbling grove, That only sheltered thefts of harmless love.
Good Heaven! what sorrows gloomed that parting day, That called them from their native walks away; When the poor exiles, every pleasure passed, Hung round the bowers, and fondly looked their last, And took a long farewell, and wished in vain For seats like these beyond the western main, And shuddering still to face the distant deep, Returned and wept, and still returned to weep, The good old sire the first prepared to go To new-found worlds, and wept for others' woe; But for himself, in conscious virtue brave, He only wished for worlds beyond the grave. His lovely daughter, lovelier in her tears, The fond companion of his helpless years, Silent went next, neglectful of her charms, And left a lover's for a father's arms. With louder plaints the mother spoke her woes, And blest the cot where every pleasure rose, And kissed her thoughtless babes with many a tear, And clasped them close, in sorrow doubly dear, Whilst her fond husband strove to lend relief In all the silent manliness of grief.
O luxury! thou cursed by Heaven's decree, How ill exchanged are things like these for thee! How do thy potions, with insidious joy, Diffuse their pleasure only to destroy! Kingdoms by thee, to sickly greatness grown, Boast of a florid vigour not their own. At every draught more large and large they grow, A bloated mass of rank unwieldy woe; Till sapped their strength, and every part unsound, Down, down, they sink, and spread a ruin round.
Even now the devastation is begun, And half the business of destruction done; Even now, methinks, as pondering here I stand, I see the rural Virtues leave the land. Down where yon anchoring vessel spreads the sail, That idly waiting flaps with every gale, Downward they move, a melancholy band, Pass from the shore, and darken all the strand. Contented Toil, and hospitable Care, And kind connubial Tenderness, ate there; And Piety with wishes placed above, And steady Loyalty, and faithful Love. And thou, sweet Poetry, thou loveliest maid, Still first to fly where sensual joys invade; Unfit in these degenerate times of shame To catch the heart, or strike for honest fame; Dear charming nymph, neglected and decried, My shame in crowds, my solitary pride; Thou source of all my bliss, and all my woe, That found'st me poor at first, and keep'st me so; Thou guide by which the nobler arts excel, Thou nurse of every virtue, fare thee well! Farewell, and oh! where'er thy voice be tried, On Torno's cliffs, or Pambamarca's side, Whether where equinoctial fervours glow, Or winter wraps the polar world in snow, Still let thy voice, prevailing over time, Redress the rigours of th' inclement clime; Aid slighted truth with thy persuasive strain; Teach erring man to spurn the rage of gain; Teach him, that states of native strength possessed, Though very poor, may still be very blessed; That trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay, As ocean sweeps the laboured mole away; While self-dependent power can time defy, As rocks resist the billows and the sky.
Here lies our good Edmund, whose genius was such We scarcely can praise it or blame it too much; Who, born for the universe, narrowed his mind, And to party gave up what was meant for mankind; Though fraught with all learning, yet straining his throat To persuade Tommy Townshend to lend him a vote; Who, too deep for his hearers, still went on refining, And thought of convincing, while they thought of dining; Though equal to all things, for all things unfit— Too nice for a statesman, too proud for a wit, For a patriot too cool, for a drudge disobedient, And too fond of the right to pursue the expedient: In short, 'twas his fate, unemployed or in place, sir, To eat mutton cold and cut blocks with a razor.
* * * * *
Here Cumberland lies, having acted his parts, The Terence of England, the mender of hearts; A flattering painter, who made it his care To draw men as they ought to be, not as they are: His gallants are all faultless, his women divine, And Comedy wonders at being so fine— Like a tragedy-queen he has dizened her out, Or rather like Tragedy giving a rout; His fools have their follies so lost in a crowd Of virtues and feelings that folly grows proud; And coxcombs, alike in their failings alone, Adopting his portraits, are pleased with their own. Say, where has our poet this malady caught, Or wherefore his characters thus without fault? Say, was it that, vainly directing his view To find out men's virtues, and finding them few, Quite sick of pursuing each troublesome elf, He grew lazy at last and drew from himself?
* * * * *
Here lies David Garrick: describe me, who can, An abridgment of all that was pleasant in man; As an actor, confessed without rival to shine; As a wit, if not first, in the very first line. Yet with talents like these, and an excellent heart, The man had his failings, a dupe to his art: Like an ill-judging beauty his colours he spread, And beplastered with rouge his own natural red; On the stage he was natural, simple, affecting— 'Twas only that when he was off he was acting. With no reason on earth to go out of his way, He turned and he varied full ten times a day: Though secure of our hearts, yet confoundedly sick If they were not his own by finessing and trick; He cast off his friends as a huntsman his pack, For he knew when he pleased he could whistle them back. Of praise a mere glutton, he swallowed what came, And the puff of a dunce he mistook it for fame; Till, his relish grown callous, almost to disease, Who peppered the highest was surest to please. But let us be candid, and speak out our mind: If dunces applauded, he paid them in kind; Ye Kenricks, ye Kellys, and Woodfalls so grave, What a commerce was yours while you got and you gave! How did Grub Street re-echo the shouts that you raised, While he was be-Rosciused and you were bepraised! But peace to his spirit, wherever it flies To act as an angel and mix with the skies! Those poets who owe their best fame to his skill Shall still be his flatterers, go where he will;
Old Shakespeare receive him with praise and with love, And Beaumonts and Bens be his Kellys above.
* * * * *
Here Reynolds is laid, and, to tell you my mind, He has not left a better or wiser behind. His pencil was striking, resistless, and grand; His manners were gentle, complying, and bland; Still born to improve us in every part— His pencil oar faces, his manners our heart. To coxcombs averse, yet most civilly steering, When they judged without skill he was still hard of hearing; When they talked of their Raphaels, Correggios, and stuff, He shifted his trumpet, and only took snuff.
FROM THE MINSTREL; OR, THE PROGRESS OF GENIUS
Fret not thyself, thou glittering child of pride, That a poor villager inspires my strain; With thee let pageantry and power abide: The gentle Muses haunt the sylvan reign; Where through wild groves at eve the lonely swain Enraptured roams, to gaze on Nature's charms. They hate the sensual, and scorn the vain, The parasite their influence never warms, Nor him whose sordid soul the love of gold alarms.
Though richest hues the peacock's plumes adorn, Yet horror screams from his discordant throat. Rise, sons of harmony, and hail the morn, While warbling larks on russet pinions float; Or seek at noon the woodland scene remote, Where the grey linnets carol from the hill: O let them ne'er, with artificial note, To please a tyrant, strain the little bill, But sing what Heaven inspires, and wander where they will!
* * * * *
And yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy. Deep thought oft seemed to fix his infant eye. Dainties he heeded not, nor gaud, nor toy, Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy; Silent when glad; affectionate, though shy; And now his look was most demurely sad; And now he laughed aloud, yet none knew why. The neighbours stared and sighed, yet blessed the lad; Some deemed him wondrous wise, and some believed him mad.
* * * * *
In truth, he was a strange and wayward wight, Fond of each gentle and each dreadful scene. In darkness and in storm he found delight, Nor less than when on ocean-wave serene The southern sun diffused his dazzling sheen. Even sad vicissitude amused his soul; And if a sigh would sometimes intervene, And down his cheek a tear of pity roll, A sigh, a tear, so sweet, he wished not to control.
* * * * *
When the long-sounding curfew from afar Loaded with loud lament the lonely gale, Young Edwin, lighted by the evening star, Lingering and listening, wandered down the vale. There would he dream of graves, and corses pale, And ghosts that to the charnel-dungeon throng, And drag a length of clanking chain, and wail, Till silenced by the owl's terrific song, Or blast that shrieks by fits the shuddering isles along.
* * * * *
Or when the setting moon, in crimson dyed, Hung o'er the dark and melancholy deep, To haunted stream, remote from man, he hied, Where fays of yore their revels wont to keep; And there let fancy rove at large, till sleep A vision brought to his entranced sight. And first, a wildly murmuring wind 'gan creep Shrill to his ringing ear; then tapers bright, With instantaneous gleam, illumed the vault of night.
* * * * *
Nor was this ancient dame a foe to mirth. Her ballad, jest, and riddle's quaint device Oft cheered the shepherds round their social hearth; Whom levity or spleen could ne'er entice To purchase chat or laughter at the price Of decency. Nor let it faith exceed That Nature forms a rustic taste so nice. Ah! had they been of court or city breed, Such, delicacy were right marvellous indeed.
Oft when the winter storm had ceased to rave, He roamed the snowy waste at even, to view The cloud stupendous, from th' Atlantic wave High-towering, sail along th' horizon blue; Where, midst the changeful scenery, ever new, Fancy a thousand wondrous forms descries, More wildly great than ever pencil drew— Rocks, torrents, gulfs, and shapes of giant size, And glittering cliffs on cliffs, and fiery ramparts rise.
Thence musing onward to the sounding shore, The lone enthusiast oft would take his way, Listening, with pleasing dread, to the deep roar Of the wide-weltering waves. In black array When sulphurous clouds rolled on th' autumnal day, Even then he hastened from the haunts of man, Along the trembling wilderness to stray, What time the lightning's fierce career began, And o'er heaven's rending arch the rattling thunder ran.
Responsive to the sprightly pipe when all In sprightly dance the village youth were joined, Edwin, of melody aye held in thrall, From the rude gambol far remote reclined, Soothed, with the soft notes warbling in the wind. Ah then all jollity seemed noise and folly To the pure soul by fancy's fire refined! Ah, what is mirth but turbulence unholy When with the charm compared of heavenly melancholy!
LADY ANNE LINDSAY
AULD ROBIN GRAY
When the sheep are in the fauld, and the kye at hame, And a' the warld to rest are gane, The waes o' my heart fa' in showers frae my e'e, While my gudeman lies sound by me.
Young Jamie lo'ed me weel, and sought me for his bride; But saving a croun he had naething else beside; To make the croun a pund, young Jamie gaid to sea; And the croun and the pund were baith for me.
He hadna been awa' a week but only twa, When my father brak his arm, and the cow was stown awa'; My mother she fell sick,—and my Jamie at the sea— And auld Robin Gray came a-courtin' me.
My father couldna work, and my mother couldna spin; I toiled day and night, but their bread I couldna win; Auld Rob maintained them baith, and wi' tears in his e'e Said, 'Jennie, for their sakes, O, marry me!'
My heart it said nay; I looked for Jamie back; But the wind it blew high, and the ship it was a wrack; His ship it was a wrack—Why didna Jamie dee? Or why do I live to cry, Wae's me!
My father urged me sair: my mother didna speak; But she looked in my face till my heart was like to break: They gi'ed him my hand, though my heart was in the sea; Sae auld Robin Gray he was gudeman to me.
I hadna been a wife a week but only four, When mournfu' as I sat on the stane at the door, I saw my Jamie's wraith,—for I couldna think it he, Till he said, 'I'm come hame to marry thee.'
O sair, sair did we greet, and muckle did we say; We took but ae kiss, and we tore ourselves away; I wish that I were dead, but I'm no like to dee; And why was I born to say, Wae's me!
I gang like a ghaist, and I carena to spin; I daurna think on Jamie, for that wad be a sin; But I'll do my best a gude wife aye to be, For auld Robin Gray he is kind unto me. * * * * *
THERE'S NAE LUCK ABOUT THE HOUSE
And are ye sure the news is true, And are ye sure he's weel? Is this a time to think of wark? Ye jauds, fling by your wheel. Is this the time to think of wark, When Colin's at the door? Gi'e me my cloak! I'll to the quay And see him come ashore.
For there's nae luck about the house, There's nae luck ava; There's little pleasure in the house, When our gudeman's awa'.
Rise up and mak' a clean fireside; Put on the muckle pot; Gi'e little Kate her cotton gown, And Jock his Sunday coat: And mak' their shoon as black as slaes, Their hose as white as snaw; It's a' to please my ain gudeman, For he's been long awa'.
There's twa fat hens upon the bauk, Been fed this month and mair; Mak' haste and thraw their necks about, That Colin weel may fare; And mak' the table neat and clean, Gar ilka thing look braw; It's a' for love of my gudeman, For he's been long awa'.
O gi'e me down my bigonet, My bishop satin gown, For I maun tell the bailie's wife That Colin's come to town. My Sunday's shoon they maun gae on, My hose o' pearl blue; 'Tis a' to please my ain gudeman, For he's baith leal and true.
Sae true his words, sae smooth his speech, His breath's like caller air! His very foot has music in't, As he comes up the stair. And will I see his face again? And will I hear him speak? I'm downright dizzy with the thought,— In troth, I'm like to greet.
The cauld blasts o' the winter wind, That thrilled through my heart, They're a' blawn by; I ha'e him safe, Till death we'll never part: But what puts parting in my head? It may be far awa'; The present moment is our ain, The neist we never saw.
Since Colin's weel, I'm weel content, I ha'e nae more to crave; Could I but live to mak' him blest, I'm blest above the lave: And will I see his face again? And will I hear him speak? I'm downright dizzy wi' the thought,— In troth, I'm like to greet.
THE DAFT DAYS
Now mirk December's dowie face Glowrs owr the rigs wi' sour grimace, While, thro' his minimum of space, The bleer-eyed sun, Wi' blinkin' light and steeling pace, His race doth run.
From naked groves nae birdie sings; To shepherd's pipe nae hillock rings; The breeze nae od'rous flavour brings From Borean cave; And dwyning Nature droops her wings, Wi' visage grave.
Mankind but scanty pleasure glean Frae snawy hill or barren plain, Whan Winter,'midst his nipping train, Wi' frozen spear, Sends drift owr a' his bleak domain, And guides the weir.
Auld Reikiel thou'rt the canty hole, A bield for mony a caldrife soul, What snugly at thine ingle loll, Baith warm and couth, While round they gar the bicker roll To weet their mouth.
When merry Yule Day comes, I trow, You'll scantlins find a hungry mou; Sma' are our cares, our stamacks fou O' gusty gear And kickshaws, strangers to our view Sin' fairn-year.
Ye browster wives, now busk ye bra, And fling your sorrows far awa'; Then come and gie's the tither blaw O' reaming ale, Mair precious than the Well of Spa, Our hearts to heal.
Then, though at odds wi' a' the warl', Amang oursells we'll never quarrel; Though Discord gie a cankered snarl To spoil our glee, As lang's there's pith into the barrel We'll drink and 'gree.
Fiddlers, your pins in temper fix, And roset weel your fiddlesticks; But banish vile Italian tricks From out your quorum, Nor fortes wi' pianos mix— Gie's 'Tullochgorum'!
For naught can cheer the heart sae weel As can a canty Highland reel; It even vivifies the heel To skip and dance: Lifeless is he wha canna feel Its influence.
Let mirth abound; let social cheer Invest the dawning of the year; Let blithesome innocence appear, To crown our joy; Nor envy, wi' sarcastic sneer, Our bliss destroy.
And thou, great god of aqua vitae! Wha sways the empire of this city,— When fou we're sometimes caperneity,— Be thou prepared To hedge us frae that black banditti, The City Guard.
When I think on the happy days I spent wi' you, my dearie; And now what lands between us lie, How can I be but eerie!
How slow ye move, ye heavy hours, As ye were wae and weary! It was na sae ye glinted by When I was wi' my dearie.
FROM THE COUNTRY JUSTICE
GENERAL MOTIVES FOR LENITY
Be this, ye rural Magistrates, your plan: Firm be your justice, but be friends to man. He whom the mighty master of this ball We fondly deem, or farcically call, To own the patriarch's truth however loth, Holds but a mansion crushed before the moth. Frail in his genius, in his heart, too, frail, Born but to err, and erring to bewail;
Shalt thou his faults with eye severe explore, And give to life one human weakness more? Still mark if vice or nature prompts the deed; Still mark the strong temptation and the need; On pressing want, on famine's powerful call, At least more lenient let thy justice fall.
APOLOGY FOR VAGRANTS
For him who, lost to every hope of life, Has long with fortune held unequal strife, Known, to no human love, no human care, The friendless, homeless object of despair; For the poor vagrant, feel while he complains, Nor from sad freedom send to sadder chains. Alike, if folly or misfortune brought Those last of woes his evil days have wrought; Believe with social mercy and with me, Folly's misfortune in the first degree.
Perhaps on some inhospitable shore The houseless wretch a widowed parent bore, Who, then no more by golden prospects led, Of the poor Indian begged a leafy bed; Cold on Canadian hills, or Minden's plain, Perhaps that parent mourned her soldier slain, Bent o'er her babe, her eye dissolved in dew, The big drops mingling with the milk he drew, Gave the sad presage of his future years, The child of misery, baptized in tears!
* * * * *
AUGUSTUS MONTAGU TOPLADY
ROCK OF AGES
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee! Let the water and the blood From Thy riven side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
Not the labors of my hands Can fulfil Thy law's demands; Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring; Simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Saviour, or I die!
While I draw this fleeting breath, When my eyestrings break in death, When I soar through tracts unknown, See Thee on Thy judgment-throne; Book of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee!
* * * * *
Come gie's a sang! Montgomery cried, And lay your disputes all aside; What signifies 't for folk to chide For what's been done before 'em? Let Whig and Tory all agree, Whig and Tory, Whig and Tory, Let Whig and Tory all agree To drop their Whig-mig-morum! Let Whig and Tory all agree To spend the night in mirth and glee, And cheerfu' sing, alang wi' me, The reel o' Tullochgorum!
O, Tullochgorum's my delight; It gars us a' in ane unite; And ony sumph' that keeps up spite, In conscience I abhor him: For blythe and cheery we's be a', Blythe and cheery, blythe and cheery, Blythe and cheery we's be a', And mak a happy quorum; For blythe and cheery we's be a', As lang as we hae breath to draw, And dance, till we be like to fa', The reel o' Tullochgorum!
There needs na be sae great a phrase Wi' dringing dull Italian lays; I wadna gi'e our ain strathspeys For half a hundred score o' 'em: They're douff and dowie at the best, Douff and dowie, douff and dowie, They're douff and dowie at the best, Wi' a' their variorum; They're douff and dowie at the best, Their allegros and a' the rest; They canna please a Scottish taste, Compared wi' Tullochgorum.
Let warldly minds themselves oppress Wi' fears of want and double cess, And sullen sots themselves distress Wi' keeping up decorum: Shall we sae sour and sulky sit? Sour and sulky, sour and sulky, Shall we sae sour and sulky sit, Like auld Philosophorum? Shall we so sour and sulky sit, Wi' neither sense nor mirth nor wit, Nor ever rise to shake a fit To the reel o' Tullochgorum?
May choicest blessings still attend Each honest, open-hearted friend; And calm and quiet be his end, And a' that's good watch o'er him! May peace and plenty be his lot, Peace and plenty, peace and plenty, May peace and plenty be his lot, And dainties a great store o' em! May peace and plenty be his lot, Unstained by any vicious spot, And may he never want a groat That's fond o' Tullochgorum!
But for the dirty, yawning fool Who wants to be Oppression's tool, May envy gnaw his rotten soul, And discontent devour him! May dool and sorrow be his chance, Dool and sorrow, dool and sorrow, May dool and sorrow be his chance, And nane say 'wae's me' for him! May dool and sorrow be his chance, Wi' a' the ills that come frae France, Whae'er he be, that winna dance The reel o' Tullochgorum!
* * * * *
[SONGS FROM "AELLA, A TRAGYCAL ENTERLUDE, WROTENN BIE THOMAS ROWLEIE"]
[THE BODDYNGE FLOURETTES BLOSHES ATTE THE LYGHTE]
The boddynge flourettes bloshes atte the lyghte; The mees be sprenged wyth the yellowe hue; Ynn daiseyd mantels ys the mountayne dyghte; The nesh yonge coweslepe blendethe wyth the dewe; The trees enlefed, yntoe Heavenne straughte, Whenn gentle wyndes doe blowe to whestlyng dynne ys brought.
The evenynge commes, and brynges the dewe alonge; The roddie welkynne sheeneth to the eyne; Arounde the alestake Mynstrells synge the songe; Yonge ivie rounde the doore poste do entwyne; I laie mee onn the grasse; yette, to mie wylle, Albeytte alle ys fayre, there lackethe somethynge stylle.
So Adam thoughtenne, whann, ynn Paradyse, All Heavenn and Erthe dyd hommage to hys mynde; Ynn Womman alleyne mannes pleasaunce lyes; As Instrumentes of joie were made the kynde. Go, take a wyfe untoe thie armes, and see Wynter and brownie hylles wyll have a charm for thee.
Whanne Autumpne blake and sonne-brente doe appere, With hys goulde honde guylteynge the falleynge lefe, Bryngeynge oppe Wynterr to folfylle the yere, Beerynge uponne hys backe the riped shefe; Whan al the hyls wythe woddie sede ys whyte; Whanne levynne-fyres and lemes do mete from far the syghte;
Whann the fayre apple, rudde as even skie, Do bende the tree unto the fructyle grounde; When joicie peres, and berries of blacke die, Doe daunce yn ayre, and call the eyne arounde; Thann, bee the even foule or even fayre, Meethynckes mie hartys joie ys steynced wyth somme care.
Angelles bee wrogte to bee of neidher kynde; Angelles alleyne fromme chafe desyre bee free: Dheere ys a somwhatte evere yn the mynde, Yatte, wythout wommanne, cannot stylled bee; Ne seynete yn celles, botte, havynge blodde and tere, Do fynde the spryte to joie on syghte of womanne fayre;
Wommen bee made, notte for hemselves, botte manne, Bone of hys bone, and chyld of hys desire; Fromme an ynutyle membere fyrste beganne, Ywroghte with moche of water, lyttele fyre; Therefore theie seke the fyre of love, to hete The milkyness of kynde, and make hemselfes complete.
Albeytte wythout wommen menne were pheeres To salvage kynde, and wulde botte lyve to slea, Botte wommenne efte the spryghte of peace so cheres, Tochelod yn Angel joie heie Angeles bee; Go, take thee swythyn to thie bedde a wyfe; Bee bante or blessed hie yn proovynge marryage lyfe.
[O, SYNGE UNTOE MIE ROUNDELAIE]
O, synge untoe mie roundelaie! O, droppe the brynie teare wythe mee! Daunce ne moe atte hallie daie; Lycke a reynynge ryver bee: Mie love ys dedde, Gon to hys death-bedde, Al under the wyllowe tree.
Blacke hys cryne as the wyntere nyghte, Whyte hys rode as the sommer snowe, Rodde hys face as the mornynge lyghte; Cale he lyes ynne the grave belowe: Mie love ys dedde, Gon to hys deathe-bedde, Al under the wyllowe tree.
Swote hys tyngue as the throstles note, Quycke ynn daunce as thoughte canne bee, Defte hys taboure, codgelle stote; O! hee lyes bie the wyllowe tree: Mie love ys dedde, Gonne to hys deathe-bedde, Alle underre the wyllowe tree.
Harke! the ravenne flappes hys wynge, In the briered delle belowe; Harke! the dethe-owle loude dothe synge, To the nyghte-mares as heie goe: Mie love ys dedde, Gonne to hys deathe-bedde, Al under the wyllowe tree.
See! the whyte moone sheenes onne hie; Whyterre ys mie true loves shroude, Whyterre yanne the mornynge skie, Whyterre yanne the evenynge cloude: Mie love ys dedde, Gon to hys deathe-bedde, Al under the wyllowe tree.
Heere, uponne mie true loves grave, Schalle the baren fleurs be layde, Nee one hallie Seyncte to save Al the celness of a mayde: Mie love ys dedde, Gonne to hys deathe-bedde, Alle under the wyllowe tree.
Wythe mie hondes I'lle dente the brieres Rounde his hallie corse to gre; Ouphante fairie, lyghte youre fyres, Heere mie boddie stylle schalle bee: Mie love ys dedde, Gon to hys death-bedde, Al under the wyllowe tree.
Comme, wythe acorne-coppe and thorne Drayne mie hartys blodde awaie; Lyfe and all yttes goode I scorne, Daunce bie nete, or feaste by dale: Mie love ys dedde, Gon to hys death-bedde, Al under the wyllowe tree.
Waterre wytches, crownede wythe reytes, Bere mee to yer leathalle tyde. I die! I comme! mie true love waytes.— Thos the damselle spake, and dyed.
AN EXCELENTE BALADE OF CHARITIE
AS WROTEN BIE THE GODE PRIESTE THOMAS ROWLEY, 1464
In Virgyne the sweltrie sun gan sheene, And hotte upon the mees did caste his raie; The apple rodded from its palie greene, And the mole peare did bende the leafy spraie; The peede chelandri sunge the livelong daie; 'Twas nowe the pride, the manhode, of the yeare, And eke the grounde was dighte in its most defte aumere.
The sun was glemeing in the midde of daie, Deadde still the aire, and eke the welkea blue; When from the sea arist in drear arraie A hepe of cloudes of sable sullen hue, The which full fast unto the woodlande drewe, Hiltring attenes the sunnis fetive face, And the blacke tempeste swolne and gathered up apace.
Beneathe an holme, faste by a pathwaie side Which dide unto Seynete Godwine's covent lede, A hapless pilgrim moneynge dyd abide, Pore in his viewe, ungentle in his weede, Longe bretful of the miseries of neede; Where from the hailstone coulde the almer flie? He had no housen theere, ne anie covent nie.
Look in his glommed face, his spright there scanne: Howe woe-be-gone, how withered, forwynd, deade! Haste to thie church-glebe-house, ashrewed manne; Haste to thie kiste, thie onlie dorture bedde: Cale as the claie whiche will gre on thie hedde Is Charitie and Love aminge highe elves; Knightis and Barons live for pleasure and themselves.
The gathered storme is rype; the bigge drops falle; The forswat meadowes smethe, and drenche the raine; The comyng ghastness do the cattle pall, And the full flockes are drivynge ore the plaine; Dashde from the cloudes, the waters flott againe; The welkin opes, the yellow levynne flies, And the hot fierie smothe in the wide lowings dies.
Liste! now the thunder's rattling clymmynge sound Cheves slowie on, and then embollen clangs, Shakes the hie spyre, and, losst, dispended, drowned, Still on the gallard eare of terroure hanges; The windes are up, the lofty elmen swanges; Again the levynne and the thunder poures, And the full cloudes are braste attenes in stonen showers.
Spurreynge his palfrie oere the watrie plaine, The Abbote of Seyncte Godwyne's convente came: His chapournette was drented with the reine, And his pencte gyrdle met with mickle shame; He aynewarde tolde his bederoll at the same. The storme encreasen, and he drew aside With the mist almes-craver neere to the holme to bide.
His cope was all of Lyncolne clothe so fyne, With a gold button fastened neere his chynne; His autremete was edged with golden twynne, And his shoone pyke a loverds mighte have binne— Full well it shewn he thoughten coste no sinne; The trammels of the palfrye pleasde his sighte, For the horse-millanare his head with roses dighte.
'An almes, sir prieste!' the droppynge pilgrim saide; 'O let me waite within your covente dore, Till the sunne sheneth hie above our heade, And the loude tempeste of the aire is oer. Helpless and ould am I, alas! and poor; No house, ne friend, ne moneie in my pouche; All yatte I calle my owne is this my silver crouche.'
'Varlet,' replyd the Abbatte, 'cease your dinne! This is no season almes and prayers to give. Mie porter never lets a faitour in; None touch mie rynge who not in honour live.' And now the sonne with the blacke cloudes did stryve, And shettynge on the ground his glairie raie: The Abbatte spurrde his steede, and eftsoones roadde awaie. Once moe the skie was blacke, the thounder rolde: Faste reyneynge oer the plaine a prieste was seen, Ne dighte full proude, ne buttoned up in golde; His cope and jape were graie, and eke were clene; A Limitoure he was of order seene, And from the pathwaie side then turned bee, Where the pore almer laie binethe the holmen tree,
'An almes, sir priest!' the droppynge pilgrim sayde, 'For sweete Seyncte Marie and your order sake!' The Limitoure then loosened his pouche threade, And did thereoute a groate of silver take: The mister pilgrim dyd for halline shake. 'Here, take this silver; it maie eathe thie care: We are Goddes stewards all, nete of our owne we bare.
'But ah, unhailie pilgrim, lerne of me Scathe anie give a rentrolle to their Lorde. Here, take my semecope—thou arte bare, I see; 'Tis thyne; the Seynctes will give me mie rewarde.' He left the pilgrim, and his waie aborde. Virgynne and hallie Seyncte, who sitte yn gloure, Or give the mittee will, or give the gode man power!
FROM THE DESOLATION OF AMERICA
I see, I see, swift bursting through the shade, The cruel soldier, and the reeking blade. And there the bloody cross of Britain waves, Pointing to deeds of death an host of slaves. To them unheard the wretched tell their pain, And every human sorrow sues in vain: Their hardened bosoms never knew to melt; Each woe unpitied, and each pang unfelt.— See! where they rush, and with a savage joy, Unsheathe the sword, impatient to destroy. Fierce as the tiger, bursting from the wood, With famished jaws, insatiable of blood!
Yet, yet a moment, the fell steel restrain; Must Nature's sacred ties all plead in vain? Ah! while your kindred blood remains unspilt, And Heaven allows an awful pause from guilt, Suspend the war, and recognize the bands, Against whose lives you arm your impious hands!— Not these, the boast of Gallia's proud domains, Nor the scorched squadrons of Iberian plains; Unhappy men! no foreign war you wage, In your own blood you glut your frantic rage; And while you follow where oppression leads, At every step, a friend, or brother, bleeds.
* * * * *
Devoted realm! what now avails thy claim, To milder virtue, or sublimer flame? Or what avails, unhappy land! to trace The generous labours of thy patriot race? Who, urged by fate, and fortitude their guide, On the wild surge their desperate fortune tried; Undaunted every toil and danger bore, And fixed their standards on a savage shore; What time they fled, with an averted eye, The baneful influence of their native sky, Where slowly rising through the dusky air, The northern meteors shot their lurid glare. In vain their country's genius sought to move, With tender images of former love, Sad rising to their view, in all her charms, And weeping wooed them to her well-known arms. The favoured clime, the soft domestic air, And wealth and ease were all below their care, Since there an hated tyrant met their eyes And blasted every blessing of the skies.
* * * * *
And now, no more by nature's bounds confined He[A] spreads his dragon pinions to the wind. The genius of the West beholds him near, And freedom trembles at her last barrier.
In vain she deemed in this sequestered seat To fix a refuge for her wandering feet; To mark one altar sacred to her fame, And save the ruins of the human name.
* * * * *
Lo! Britain bended to the servile yoke, Her fire extinguished, and her spirit broke, Beneath the pressure of [a tyrant's] sway, Herself at once the spoiler and the prey, Detest[s] the virtues she can boast no more And envies every right to every shore! At once to nature and to pity blind, Wages abhorred war with humankind; And wheresoe'er her ocean rolls his wave, Provokes an enemy, or meets a slave.
But free-born minds inspired with noble flame, Attest their origin, and scorn the claim. Beyond the sweets of pleasure and of rest, The joys which captivate the vulgar breast; Beyond the dearer ties of kindred blood; Or Brittle life's too transitory good; The sacred charge of liberty they prize, That last, and noblest, present of the skies.
* * * * *
Yet, gracious Heaven! though clouds may intervene, And transitory horrors shade the scene; Though for an instant virtue sink depressed, While vice exulting rears her bloody crest; Thy sacred truth shall still inspire my mind, To cast the terrors of my fate behind! Thy power which nature's utmost hound pervades, Beams through the void, and cheers destruction's shades, Can blast the laurel on the victor's head, And smooth the good man's agonizing bed, To songs of triumph change the captive's groans, And hurl the powers of darkness from their thrones!
[Footnote A: The monster, tyranny.]
From THE LIBRARY
When the sad soul, by care and grief oppressed, Looks round the world, but looks in vain for rest; When every object that appears in view, Partakes her gloom and seems dejected too; Where shall affliction from itself retire? Where fade away and placidly expire? Alas! we fly to silent scenes in vain; Care blasts the honours of the flowery plain: Care veils in clouds the sun's meridian beam, Sighs through the grove, and murmurs in the stream; For when the soul is labouring in despair, In vain the body breathes a purer air.
* * * * *
Here come the grieved, a change of thought to find; The curious here, to feed a craving mind; Here the devout their peaceful temple choose; And here the poet meets his fav'ring Muse. With awe, around these silent walks I tread; These are the lasting mansions of the dead:— 'The dead!' methinks a thousand tongues reply, 'These are the tombs of such as cannot die! Crowned with eternal fame, they sit sublime, And laugh at all the little strife of time.'
* * * * *
Lo! all in silence, all in order stand, And mighty folios first, a lordly band; Then quartos their well-ordered ranks maintain, And light octavos fill a spacious plain: See yonder, ranged in more frequented rows, A humbler band of duodecimos; While undistinguished trifles swell the scene, The last new play and frittered magazine.
* * * * *
But who are these, a tribe that soar above, And tell more tender tales of modern love?
A novel train! the brood of old Romance, Conceived by Folly on the coast of France, That now with lighter thought and gentler fire, Usurp the honours of their drooping sire: And still fantastic, vain, and trifling, sing Of many a soft and inconsistent thing,— Of rakes repenting, clogged in Hymen's chain, Of nymph reclined by unpresuming swain, Of captains, colonels, lords, and amorous knights, That find in humbler nymphs such chaste delights. Such heavenly charms, so gentle, yet so gay, That all their former follies fly away: Honour springs up, where'er their looks impart A moment's sunshine to the hardened heart; A virtue, just before the rover's jest, Grows like a mushroom in his melting breast. Much too they tell of cottages and shades. Of balls, and routs, and midnight masquerades, Where dangerous men and dangerous mirth reside, And Virtue goes——on purpose to be tried. These are the tales that wake the soul to life, That charm the sprightly niece and forward wife, That form the manners of a polished age, And each pure easy moral of the stage.
FROM THE VILLAGE
The village life, and every care that reigns O'er youthful peasants and declining swains; What labour yields, and what, that labour past, Age, in its hour of languor, finds at last; What form the real picture of the poor, Demand a song—the Muse can give no more.
Fled are those times when, in harmonious strains, The rustic poet praised his native plains; No shepherds now, in smooth alternate verse, Their country's beauty or their nymphs' rehearse: Yet still for these we frame the tender strain; Still in our lays fond Corydons complain, And shepherds' boys their amorous pains reveal— The only pains, alas! they never feel.
On Mincio's banks, in Caesar's bounteous reign, If Tityrus found the Golden Age again, Must sleepy bards the flattering dream prolong, Mechanic echoes of the Mantuan song? From Truth and Nature shall we widely stray, Where Virgil, not where Fancy, leads the way? Yes, thus the Muses sing of happy swains, Because the Muses never knew their pains. They boast their peasants' pipes; but peasants now Resign their pipes and plod behind the plough, And few amid the rural tribe have time To number syllables and play with rhyme: Save honest Duck, what son of verse could share The poet's rapture and the peasant's care, Or the great labours of the field degrade With the new peril of a poorer trade?
From this chief cause these idle praises spring— That themes so easy few forbear to sing, For no deep thought the trifling subjects ask; To sing of shepherds is an easy task: The happy youth assumes the common strain, A nymph his mistress, and himself a swain; With no sad scenes he clouds his tuneful prayer, But all, to look like her, is painted fair.
I grant indeed that fields and flocks have charms For him that grazes or for him that farms; But when amid such pleasing scenes I trace The poor laborious natives of the place, And see the mid-day sun with fervid ray On their bare heads and dewy temples play, While some, with feebler heads and fainter hearts Deplore their fortune yet sustain their parts, Then shall I dare these real ills to hide In tinsel trappings of poetic pride?
No; cast by Fortune on a frowning coast, Which neither groves nor happy valleys boast; Where other cares than those the Muse relates, And other shepherds dwell with other mates; By such examples taught, I paint the cot As Truth will paint it and as bards will not. Nor you, ye poor, of lettered scorn complain: To you the smoothest song is smooth in vain; O'ercome by labour and bowed down by time, Feel you the barren flattery of a rhyme? Can poets soothe you, when you pine for bread, By winding myrtles round your ruined shed? Can their light tales your weighty griefs o'erpower, Or glad with airy mirth the toilsome hour?
Lo! where the heath, with withering brake grown o'er, Lends the light turf that warms the neighbouring poor; From thence a length of burning sand appears, Where the thin harvest waves its withered ears; Rank weeds, that every art and care defy, Reign o'er the land and rob the blighted rye: There thistles stretch their prickly arms afar, And to the ragged infant threaten war; There poppies nodding, mock the hope of toil; There the blue bugloss paints the sterile soil; Hardy and high, above the slender sheaf, The slimy mallow waves her silky leaf; O'er the young shoot the charlock throws a shade, And clasping tares cling round the sickly blade; With mingled tints the rocky coasts abound, And a sad splendour vainly shines around.
* * * * *
Here, wandering long, amid these frowning fields, I sought the simple life that Nature yields: Rapine and Wrong and Fear usurped her place, And a bold, artful, surly, savage race; Who, only skilled to take the finny tribe, The yearly dinner, or septennial bribe, Wait on the shore, and, as the waves run high, On the tossed vessel bend their eager eye, Which to their coast directs its venturous way; Theirs or the ocean's miserable prey.
As on their neighbouring beach yon swallows stand, And wait for favouring winds to leave the land; While still for flight the ready wing is spread: So waited I the favouring hour, and fled; Fled from these shores where guilt and famine reign, And cried, 'Ah! hapless they who still remain: Who still remain to hear the ocean roar, Whose greedy waves devour the lessening shore;
Till some fierce tide, with more imperious sway Sweeps the low hut and all it holds away; When the sad tenant weeps from door to door, And begs a poor protection from the poor!'
But these are scenes where Nature's niggard hand Gave a spare portion to the famished land; Hers is the fault, if here mankind complain Of fruitless toil and labour spent in vain; But yet in other scenes more fair in view, Where Plenty smiles—alas! she smiles for few— And those who taste not, yet behold her store, Are as the slaves that dig the golden ore— The wealth around them makes them doubly poor. Or will you deem them amply paid in health, Labour's fair child, that languishes with wealth? Go, then! and see them rising with the sun, Through a long course of daily toil to run; See them beneath the Dog-star's raging heat, When the knees tremble and the temples beat; Behold them, leaning on their scythes, look o'er The labour past, and toils to come explore; See them alternate suns and showers engage, And hoard up aches and anguish for their age; Through fens and marshy moors their steps pursue, When their warm pores imbibe the evening dew; Then own that labour may as fatal be To these thy slaves, as thine excess to thee.
Amid this tribe too oft a manly pride Strives in strong toil the fainting heart to hide; There may you see the youth of slender frame Contend with weakness, weariness, and shame; Yet, urged along, and proudly both to yield, He strives to join his fellows of the field; Till long-contending, nature droops at last, Declining health rejects his poor repast, His cheerless spouse the coming danger sees, And mutual murmurs urge the slow disease.
Yet grant them health, 'tis not for us to tell, Though the head droops not, that the heart is well; Or will you praise that homely, healthy fare, Plenteous and plain, that happy peasants share!
Oh! trifle not with wants you cannot feel, Nor mock the misery of a stinted meal; Homely, not wholesome, plain, not plenteous, such As you who praise, would never deign to touch.
Ye gentle souls, who dream of rural ease, Whom the smooth stream and smoother sonnet please; Go! if the peaceful cot your praises share, Go look within, and ask if peace be there; If peace be his, that drooping weary sire; Or theirs, that offspring round their feeble fire; Or hers, that matron pale, whose trembling hand Turns on the wretched hearth th' expiring brand,
Nor yet can Time itself obtain for these Life's latest comforts, due respect and ease; For yonder see that hoary swain, whose age Can with no cares except its own engage; Who, propped on that rude staff, looks up to see The bare arms broken from the withering tree, On which, a boy, he climbed the loftiest bough, Then his first joy, but his sad emblem now.
He once was chief in all the rustic trade; His steady hand the straightest furrow made; Full many a prize he won, and still is proud To find the triumphs of his youth allowed; A transient pleasure sparkles in his eyes. He hears and smiles, then thinks again and sighs; For now he journeys to his grave in pain; The rich disdain him; nay, the poor disdain: Alternate masters now their slave command, Urge the weak efforts of his feeble hand, And, when his age attempts its task in vain, With ruthless taunts, of lazy poor complain.
Oft may you see him, when he tends the sheep, His winter charge, beneath the hillock weep; Oft hear him murmur to the winds that blow O'er his white locks and bury them in snow, When, roused by rage and muttering in the morn, He mends the broken hedge with icy thorn:—
'Why do I live, when I desire to be At once from life and life's long labour free? Like leaves in spring, the young are blown away, Without the sorrows of a slow decay; I, like you withered leaf, remain behind, Nipped by the frost, and shivering in the wind; There it abides till younger buds come on As I, now all my fellow-swains are gone; Then from the rising generation thrust, It falls, like me, unnoticed to the dust.
'These fruitful fields, these numerous flocks I see, Are others' gain, but killing cares to me; To me the children of my youth are lords, Cool in their looks, but hasty in their words: Wants of their own demand their care; and who Feels his own want and succours others too? A lonely, wretched man, in pain I go, None need my help, and none relieve my woe; Then let my bones beneath the turf be laid, And men forget the wretch they would not aid.'
Thus groan the old, till by disease oppressed, They taste a final woe, and then they rest.
Theirs is yon house that holds the parish poor, Whose walls of mud scarce bear the broken door; There, where the putrid vapours, flagging, play, And the dull wheel hums doleful through the day; There children dwell who know no parents' care; Parents, who know no children's love, dwell there! Heart-broken matrons on their joyless bed, Forsaken wives, and mothers never wed; Dejected widows with unheeded tears, And crippled age with more than childhood fears; The lame, the blind, and, far the happiest they! The moping idiot, and the madman gay. Here too the sick their final doom receive, Here brought, amid the scenes of grief, to grieve, Where the loud groans from some sad chamber flow, Mixed with the clamours of the crowd below; Here, sorrowing, they each kindred sorrow scan, And the cold charities of man to man: Whose laws indeed for ruined age provide, And strong compulsion plucks the scrap from pride; But still that scrap is bought with many a sigh, And pride embitters what it can't deny.