« السابقةمتابعة »
One of the sweetest of the minor poets of the beginning of the eighteenth century is Dr Thomas Parnell. This poet was born and educated in Dublin. He embraced the ecclesiastical profession. Though originally bred a Whig, he was one of the Tory coterie of poets that comprehended Swift, Pope, and Gay, Parnell was of material assistance to Pope in his translation of Homer. He frequently deserted his Irish living for the attractions of the society of England. The sudden death of his wife plunged him in profound affliction, from which he never recovered. He is accused of having taken refuge from his sorrow in irregular habits. The interest of Swift procured for him further preferment in the Irish Church. He did not enjoy it above three or four years ; he died in 1717," in some measure," says Gold.
smith, "a martyr to conjugal fidelity." Parnell's poetical works consist of translations, Scripture characters, epistles, songs, &c. “ His praise," says Johnson,“ must be derived from the easy sweetness of his diction ; in his verses there is more happiness than pains ; he always delights, though he never ravishes.”
A NIGHT-PIECE ON DEATH.
By the blue taper's trembling light,
No more I waste the wakeful night,
Intent with endless view to pore
The schoolmen and the sages o'er :
Their books from wisdom widely stray,
Or point at best the longest way.
I'll seek a readier path, and go
Where wisdom's surely taught below.
How deep yon azure dyes the sky!
Where orbs of gold unnumber'd lie,
While through their ranks in silver pride
The nether crescent seems to glide.
The slumbering breeze forgets to breathe,
The lake is smooth and clear beneath,
Where once again the spangled show
Descends to meet our eyes below.
The grounds, which on the right aspire,
In dimness from the view retire :
The left presents a place of graves,
Whose wall the silent water laves.
That steeple guides thy doubtful sight
Among the livid gleams of night.
There pass with melancholy state
By all the solemn heaps of Fate,
And think, as softly-sad you tread
Above the venerable dead, -
Time was, like thee, they life posscss'd,
And time shall be, that thou shalt rest.
Those with bending osier bound,
That nameless heave the crumbled ground,
Quick to the glancing thought disclose,
Where toil and poverty repose.
The flat smooth stones that bear a name,
The chisel's slender help to fame,
(Which ere our set of friends decay
Their frequent steps may wear away,)
A middle race of mortals own,
Men, half ambitious, all unknown.
The marble tombs that rise on high,
Whose dead in vaulted arches lie,
Whose pillars swell with sculptur'd stones,
Arms, angels, epitaphs, and bones,
These, all the poor remains of state,
Adorn the rich, or praise the great ;
Who, while on Earth in fame they live,
Are senseless of the fame they give.
Ha! while I gaze, pale Cynthia fades,
The bursting earth unveils the shades !
All slow, and wan, and wrap'd with shrouds,
They rise in visionary crowds,
And all with sober accent cry,
" Think, mortal, what it is to die.”
Now from yon black and funcral yew,
That bathes the charnel-house with dew,
Methinks, I hear a voice begin ;
(Ye ravens, cease your croaking din,
Ye tolling clocks, no time resound
O'er the long lake and midnight ground!)
It sends a peal of hollow groans,
Thus speaking from among the bones.
“When men my scythe and darts supply,
How great a king of fears am I!
They view me like the last of things;
They make, and then they draw, my strings.
Fools! if you less provok'd your fears,
No more my spectre-form appears.
Death's but a path that must be trod,
If man would ever pass to God :
A port of calms, a state to ease
From the rough rage of swelling seas."
Why then thy flowing sable stoles,
Deep pendant cypress, mourning poles,
Loose scarfs to fall athwart thy weeds,
Long palls, drawn hearses, cover'd steeds,
And plumes of black, that, as they tread,
Nod o'er the escutcheons of the dead ?
Nor can the parted body know,
Nor wants the soul these forms of woe;
As men who long in prison dwell,
With lamps that glimmer round the cell,
Whene'er their suffering years are run,
Spring forth to greet the glittering Sun;
Such joy, though far transcending sense,
Have pious souls at parting hence.
On Earth, and in the body placed,
A few, and evil years, they waste :
But when their chains are cast aside,
See the glad scene unfolding wide,
Clap the glad wing, and tower away,
And mingle with the blaze of day.
YOCNG was born near Winchester, at 'pham, of which his father was Tector. On finishing his education at Oxford, he became, after the exa in ple of other poets of the time, an assiduous aspirant to court favour. But Queen Anne nor George I. rewarded the poet's zeal The patronage of the “ infamous Wharton" did him no honour. His youth was gay and dissipated; but his mind poured forth with untiring profusion its products, both in prose and verse. Despairing of advancement from his mere literary merits, m 1728 he entered into orders, and was appointed chaplain to George II. In 1730, he received from his college the rectory of Welwyn, in Hertfordshire ; and the following year, at the age of fifty, married Lady Elizabeth Lee, “ a daughter of the Earl of Lichfield, and widow of Colonel Lee." The deaths of his wife and her two children by her foriner marriage, deeply affected Young's heart, and his sorrows were poured forth in the celebrated “ Night Thoughts." The light of his genius shone brightest towards the close of his life: the extremity of age could not quench the indomitable activity of his mind. He died almost in the midst of his literary employ. ments, at the age of eighty-four.
The principal poetical works of Young, besides the “Night Thoughts," are Satires under the title of the “ Love of Fame, the Universal Passion;" “ The Force of Religion, or Vanquished Love,” founded on the story of Lady Jane Grey; three tragedies, “Busiris," "The Revenge," and “The Brothers;" “ The Last Day ;” a Paraphrase of part of the Book of Job ; Odes and Epis. tles, in the usual artificial taste of the early part of the eighteenth century ; and “ Resignation," published in 1762.
The style of Young, though not to be imitated, has many fascinating attributes ; in general, it is hard, stern, and epigrammatic, yet the vivid colouring of its antitheses exerts a singular power over the mind. The terrible grandeur and gloom of the objects pictured in the Night Thoughts prevents us from feeling the strained artifice of manner so painfully visible in his tragedies. The high-toned hopes that gild the terrors in which his genius delights to shroud herself, attract us to this poet as one of the most wholesome of moralists
FROM "NIGHT THOUGHTS."
PROCRASTINATION. (Night I.)
Be wise to-day: 'tis madness to defer ;
Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is push'd out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals till all are fled,
And to the mercics of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
If not so frequent, would not this be strange?
That 'tis so frequent, this is stranger still.
Of man's miraculous mistakes, this bears
The palm, " That all men are about to live," —
For ever on the brink of being born.
All pay themselves the compliment to think
They one day shall not drivel: and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise;
At least, their own; their future selves applaud.
How excellent that life—they ne'er will lead !
Time lodg'd in their own hands is folly's vails;
That lodg‘d in fate's, to wisdom they consign;
The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone.
'Tis not in folly, not to scorii a fool;
And scarce in human wisdom, to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that through every stage: when young, indeed,
In full content we, sometimes, nobly rest,
Unanxious for ourselves; and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan ;
At fifty chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve ;
In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolves; and re-resolves; then, dies the same.
And why? Because he thinks himself immortal.
All men think all men mortal, but themselves ;
Themselves, when some alarming shock of fate
Strikes through their wounded hearts the sudden dread;
But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air,
Soon close, where, past the shaft, no trace is found.
As from the wing, no scar the sky retains ;
The parted wave no furrow from the keel ;-
So dies in human hearts the thought of death,
E'en with the tender tear which Nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.
VALUE OF TIME. (Night II.)
Youth is not rich in time, it may be poor.
Part with it as with money, sparing; pay
No moment, but in purchase of its worth ;
And what its worth, ask death-beds; they can tell.
Part with it as with life, reluctant; big
With holy hope of nobler time to come;
Time higher aim'd, still nearer the great mark
Of men and angels : virtue more divine.
THE PRECIOUSNESS OF DEATH. (Night III.) And feel I, Death! no joy from thought of thee ? Death, the great counsellor, who man inspires