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More genuine transports found, as on some tomb
Reclin'd, she watch'd the tapers of the dead;
Or through the pillar'd aisles, amid pale shrines
Of imag d saints, and intermingled graves,
Mus'd a veil'd votaress; than Flavia feels,
As through the mazes of the festive ball,
Proud of her conquering charms, and beauty's blaze,
She floats amid the silken sons of dress,
And shines the fairest of th’ assembled fair.
When azure noontide cheers the daedal globe,
And the blest regent of the golden day
Rejoices in his bright meridian tower,
How ost my wishes ask the night's return,
That best befriends the melancholy mind
Hail, sacred Night! thou too shalt share my song!
Sister of ebon-sceptred Hecate, hail
Whether in congregated clouds thou wrapp'st
Thy viewless chariot, or with silver crown
Thy beaming head encirclest, ever hail!
What though beneath thy gloom the sorceress-strain,
Far in obscured haunt of Lapland moors,
With rhymes uncouth the bloody caldron bless;
Though Murder wan beneath thy shrouding shade
Summons her slow-ey'd vot’ries to devise
Of secret slaughter, while by one blue lamp
In hideous conference sits the list'ning band,
And start at each low wind, or wakeful sound:
What though thy stay the pilgrim curseth oft,
As all benighted in Arabian wastes
He hears the wilderness around him howl
With roaming monsters, while on his hoar head
The black-descending tempest ceaseless beats;
Yet more delightful to my pensive mind
Is thy return, than blooming Morn's approach,
Ev’n than, in youthful pride of opening May,
When from the portals of the saffron east
She sheds fresh roses, and ambrosial dews.
Yet not ungrateful is the Morn's approach,
When dropping wet she comes, and clad in clouds,
While through the damp air scowls the lowering
Blackening the landscape's face, that grove and hill
In formless vapors undistinguish'd swim :
Th' afflicted songsters of the sadden'd groves
Hail not the sullen gloom: the waving elms
That, hoar through time and rang'd in thick array,
Inclose with stately row some rural hall,
Are mute, nor echo with the clamors hoarse
Of rooks rejoicing on their airy boughs;
While to the shed the dripping poultry crowd,
A mournful train: secure the village-hind
Hangs o'er the crackling blaze, nor tempts the storm;
Fix'd in th' unfinish'd surrow rests the plow :
Rings not the high wood with enliven'd shouts
Of early hunter: all is silence drear;
And deepest sadness wraps the face of things.
Through Pope's soft song though all the Graces
And happiest art adorn his Attic page;
Yet does my mind with sweeter transport glow,
As at the root of mossy trunk reclin'd,
In magic Spenser's wildly-warbled song
I see deserted Una wander wide
Through wasteful solitudes, and lurid heaths,
Weary, forlorn ; than when the sated fair
Upon the bosom bright of silver Thames
Launches in all the lustre of brocade,
Amid the splendors of the laughing Sun.
The gay description palls upon the sense,
And coldly strikes the mind with feeble bliss.
Ye youths of Albion's beauty-blooming isle, Whose brows have worn the wreath of luckless love Is there a pleasure like the pensive mood, Whose magic wont to soothe your soften’d souls? O tell how rapturous the joy, to melt To Melody's assuasive voice; to bend Th'uncertain step along the midnight mead, Aud pour your sorrows to the pitying Moon, By many a slow trill from the bird of woe Ost interrupted ; in embow'ring woods By darksome brook to muse, and there sorget The solemn dullness of the tedious world, While Fancy grasps the visionary fair: And now no more th' abstracted ear attends The water's murm'ring lapse, th' entranced eye Pierces no longer through th' extended rows Of thick-rang'd trees; till haply from the depth The woodman's stroke, or distant tinkling team, Or heifers rustling through the brake, alarms Th’ illuded sense, and mars the golden dream.
-|These are delights that absence drear has made
Familiar to my soul, e'er since the form
Of young Sapphira, beauteous as the Spring,
When from her vi'let-woven couch awak'd
By frolic Zephyr's hand, her tender cheek
Graceful she lists, and blushing from her bow'r
Issues to clothe in gladsome-glistering green
The genial globe, first met my dazzled sight:
These are delights unknown to minds profane,
And which alone the pensive soul can taste.
The taper'd choir, at the late hour of pray'r,
Oft let me tread, while to th’ according voice
The many-sounding organ peals on high,
The clear slow-dittied chant, or varied hymn,
Till all my soul is bathed in ecstasies,
And lapp'd in paradise. Or let me sit
Far in sequester'd aisles of the deep dome,
There lonesome listen to the sacred sounds,
Which, as they lengthen through the Gothic vaults,
In hollow murmurs reach my ravish'd ear.
Nor when the lamps expiring yield to night,
And solitude returns, would I forsake
The solcmn mansion, but attentive mark
The due clock swinging slow with sweepy sway,
Measuring time's flight with momentary sound.
Nor let me fail to cultivate my mind
With the soft thrillings of the tragic Muse,
Divine Melpomene, sweet Pity's nurse,
Queen of the stately step, and flowing pall.
Now let Monimia mourn with streaming eyes
Her joys incestuous, and polluted love;
Now let soft Juliet in the gaping tomb
Print the last kiss on her true Romeo's lips,
His lips yet reeking from the deadly draught :
Or Jasier kneel for one sorgiving look.
Nor seldom let the Moor on Desdemone
Pour the misguided threats of jealous rage.
By soft degrees the manly torrent steals
From my swoln eyes; and at a brother's woe
My big heart melts in sympathizing tears.
What are the splendors of the gaudy court,
Its tinsel trappings, and its pageant pomps?
To me far happier seems the banish'd lord,
Amid Siberia's unrejoicing wilds,
Who pines all lonesome, in the chambers hoar
Of some high castle shut, whose windows diin
In distant ken discover trackless plains,
Where Winter ever whirls his icy car!
While still repeated objects of his view, o
The gloomy battlements, and ivied spires,
That crown the solitary dome, arise;
While from the topmost turret the slow clock,
Far heard along th' inhospitable wastes,
With sad-returning chime awakes new grief;
Ev’n he far happier seems than is the proud,
The potent satrap, whom he left behind
'Mid Moscow's golden palaces, to drown
In ense and luxury the laughing hours.
Illustrious objects strike the gazer's mind
With feeble bliss, and but allure the sight,
Nor rouse with impulse quick th' unfeeling heart.
Thus seen by shepherds from Hymettus' brow,
What daedal landscapes smile! here palmy groves,
Resounding once with Plato's voice, arise,
Amid whose umbrage green her silver head
Th’ unfading olive lists: here vine-clad hills
Lay forth their purple store, and sunny vales
In prospect vast their level laps expand,
Amid whose beauties glistering Athens tow'rs.
Though through the blissful scenes Ilissus roll
His sage-inspiring flood, whose winding marge
The thick-wove laurel shades; though roseate Morn
Pour all her splendors on th' empurpled scene;
Yet feels the hoary hermit truer joys,
As from the cliff, that o'er his cavern hangs,
He views the piles of fall'n Persepolis
In deep arrangement hide the darksome plain.
Unbounded waste' the mould'ring obelisk
Here, like a blasted oak, ascends the clouds;
Here Parian domes their vaulted halls disclose
Horrid with thorn, where lurks th' unpitying thief,
Whence flits the twilight-loving bat at eve,
And the deaf adder wreathes her spotted train,
The dwellings once of elegance and art.
Here temples rise, amid whose hallow'd bounds
Spires the black pine, while through the naked street,
Once haunt of tradeful merchants, springs the grass:
Here columns heap'd on prostrate columns, torn
From their firm base, increase the mould'ring mass.
Far as the sight can pierce, appear the spoils
Of sunk magnificence! a blended scene
Of moles, sanes, arches, domes, and palaces,
Where, with his brother Horror, Ruin sits.
O come then, Melancholy, queen of thought!
O come with saintly look, and stedfast step,
From forth thy cave embower'd with mournful yew
Where ever to the cursew's solemn sound
List'ning thou sitt'st, and with thy cypress bind
Thy votary's hair, and seal him for thy son.
But never let Euphrosyné beguile
With toys of wanton mirth my fixed mind,
Nor in my path her primrose-garland cast.
Though 'mid her train the dimpled Hebe bare
Her rosy bosom to th' enamour'd view;
Though Venus, mother of the Smiles and Loves,
And Bacchus, ivy-crown'd, in citron-bow'r
With her on nectar-streaming fruitage feast:
What though 'tis hers to calm the low'ring skies,
And at her presence mild th’ embattled clouds
Disperse in air, and o'er the face of Heav'n
New day diffusive gleam at her approach
Yet are these joys that Melancholy gives,
Than all her witless revels happier sar;
These deep-felt joys, by Contemplation taught.
Then ever, beauteous Contemplation, hail!
From thee began, auspicious maid, my song,
With thee shall end; for thou art fairer far
Than are the nymphs of Cirrha's mossy grot;
To loftier rapture thou canst wake the thought,
Than all the fabling poet's boasted pow'rs.
Hail, queen divine! whom, as tradition tells,
Once in his evening walk a Druid found,
Far in a hollow glade of Mona's woods;
And piteous bore with hospitable hand
To the close shelter of his oaken bow'r.
There soon the sage admiring mark'd the dawn
Of solemn musing in your pensive thought;
For when a smiling babe, you lov'd to lie
Oft deeply list'ning to the rapid roar
Of wood-hung Meinai, stream of Druids old.
WILLIAM MAson, a poet of some distinction, born in 1725, was the son of a clergyman, who held the living of Hull. He was admitted first of St. John's College, and afterwards of Pembroke College, Cambridge, of the latter of which he was elected Fellow in 1747. He entered into holy orders in 1754, and, by the favor of the Earl of Holderness, was presented to the valuable rectory of Ashton, Yorkshire, and became Chaplain to His Majesty. Some poems which he printed gave him reputation, which received a great accession from his dramatic poem of “Elfrida.” By this piece, and his “Caractacus,” which followed, it was his aim to attempt the restoration of the ancient Greek chorus in tragedy; but this is so evidently an appendage of the infant and imperfect state of the drama, that a pedantic attachment to the ancients could alone suggest its revival. In 1756, he published a small collection of “Odes,” which were generally considered as displaying more of the artificial mechanism of poetry, than of its genuine spirit. This was not the case with his “Elegies,” published in 1763, which, abating some supersluity of ornament, are in general marked with the simplicity of language proper to this species of composition, and breathe noble sentiments of freedom and virtue. A collection of all his poems which he thought worthy of preserving, was published in 1764, and afterwards went through several editions. He had married an amiable lady, who died of a consumption in 1767, and was buried in the cathedral of Bristol, under a monument, on which are inscribed some very tender and beautiful lines, by her husband.
In 1772, the first book of Mason’s “English Gar
verse, made its appearance, of which the fourth and concluding book was printed in 1781. Its purpose was to recommend the modern system of natural or landscape gardening, to which the author adheres with the rigor of exclusive taste. The versification is formed upon the best models, and the description, in many parts, is rich and vivid; but a general air of stiffness prevented it from attaining any considerable share of popularity. Some of his following poetic pieces express his liberal sentiments on political subjects; and when the late Mr. Pitt came into power, being then the friend of a free constitution, Mason addressed him in an “Ode,” containing many patriotic and manly ideas. But being struck with alarm at the unhappy events of the French revolution, one of his latest pieces was a “Palinody to Liberty.” He likewise revived, in an improved form, and published, Du Fresnoy's Latin poem on the Art of Painting, enriching it with additions furnished by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and with a metrical version. Few have been better executed than this, which unites to great beauties of language a correct representation of the original. His tribute to the memory of Gray, being an edition of his poems, with some additions, and Memoirs of his Life and Writings, was favorably received by the public.
Mason died in April, 1797, at the age of seventytwo, in consequence of a mortification produced by a hurt in his leg. A tablet has been placed to his memory in Poets' Corner, in Westminster Abbey. His character in private life was exemplary for worth and active benevolence, though not without a degree of stateliness and assumed superiority of inainner.
Vainly, the cygnet spread her downy plume,
The vine gush nectar, and the virgin bloom.
But swift to thee, alive and warm,
Devolves each tributary charm :
See modest Nature bring her simple stores,
Luxuriant Art exhaust her plastic powers;
While every flower in Fancy's clime,
Each gem of old heroic time,
Cull'd by the hand of the industrious Muse,
Around thy shrine their blended beams diffuse.
Hail, Mem'ry! hail. Behold, I lead To that high shrine the sacred maid: Thy daughter she, the empress of the lyre, The first, the fairest, of Aonia's quire. She comes, and lo, thy realms expand' She takes her delegated stand
Full in the midst, and o'er thy num'rous train
Displays the awful wonders of her reign.
There thron'd supreme in native state,
If Sirius flame with fainting heat,
She calls; ideal groves their shade extend,
The cool gale breathes, the silent show’rs descend.
Or, if bleak Winter, frowning round,
Disrobe the trees, and chill the ground,
She, mild magician, waves her potent wand,
And ready summers wake at her command.
See, visionary suns arise
Through silver clouds and azure skies;
See, sportive zephyrs fan the crisped streams;
Through shadowy brakes light glance the sparkling
While, near the secret moss-grown cave,
That stands beside the crystal wave,
Sweet Echo, rising from her rocky bed,
Mimics the feather'd chorus o'er her head.
Rise, hallow'd Milton' rise, and say, How, at thy gloomy close of day, How, when “deprest by age, beset with wrongs;” When “fall'n on evil days and evil tongues;” When darkness, brooding on thy sight, Exil'd the sov’reign lamp of light; Say, what could then one cheering hope diffuse ! What friends were thine, save Mem'ry and the Muse? Hence the rich spoils, thy studious youth Caught from the stores of ancient truth: Hence all thy classic wand'rings could explore, When rapture led thee to the Latian shore; Each scene, that Tyber's banks supplied; Each grace, that play'd on Arno's side; The tepid gales, through Tuscan glades that fly; The blue serene, that spreads Hesperia's sky; Were still thine own; thy ample mind Each charm receiv'd, retain'd, combin'd. And thence “the nightly visitant,” that came To touch thy bosom with her sacred flame, Recall'd the long-lost beams of grace, That whilom shot from Nature's face, When God, in Eden, o'er her youthful breast Spread with his own right hand Persection's gorgeous vest.
HERE, on my native shore reclin'd, While silence rules this midnight hour, I woo thee, Goddess! On my musing mind Descend, propitious power! And bid these ruffling gales of grief subside: Bid my calm'd soul with all thy influence shine; As yon chaste orb along this ample tide Draws the long lustre of her silver line, While the hush'd breeze its last weak whisper blows, And lulls old Humber to his deep repose.
Come to thy vot'ry's ardent prayer, In all thy graceful plainness drest: No knot confines thy waving hair, No zone, thy floating vest; Unsullied honor decks thine open brow, And candor brightens in thy modest eye: Thy blush is warm content's ethereal glow; Thy smile is peace; thy step is liberty: Thou scatter'st blessings round with lavish hand, As Spring with careless fragrance fills the land.
As now o'er this lone beach I stray, Thy sav'rite swain” oft stole along, And artless wove his Dorian lay, Far from the busy throng. Thou heard'st him, goddess, strike the tender string, And bad'st his soul with bolder passions move: Soon these responsive shores forgot to ring, With beauty's praise, or plaint of slighted love; To loftier flights his daring genius rose, And led the war 'gainst thine, and Freedom's foes.
Pointed with satire's keenest steel, The shafts of wit he darts around ; Ev’nt mitred dullness learns to feel, And shrinks beneath the wound. In awful poverty his honest Muse Walks forth vindictive through a venal land: In vain corruption sheds her golden dews, In vain oppression lifts her iron hand; He scorns them both, and, arm'd with truth alone, Bids lust and folly tremble on the throne.
Behold, like him, immortal maid, The Muses' vestal fires I bring: Here, at thy feet, the sparks I spread: Propitious wave thy wing, And fan them to that dazzling blaze of song, Which glares tremendous on the sons of pride. But, hark! methinks I hear her hallow'd tongue! In distant trills it echoes o'er the tide; Now meets mine ear with warbles wildly free, As swells the lark's meridian ecstasy.
“Fond youth ! to Marvell's patriot same, Thy humble breast must ne'er aspire. Yet nourish still the lambent flame; Still strike thy blameless lyre: Led by the moral Muse, securely rove; And all the vernal sweets thy vacant youth Can cull from busy Fancy's fairy grove, Oh hang their foliage round the sane of Truth: To arts like these devote thy tuneful toil, And meet its fair reward in D'Arcy's smile.
“'Tis he, my son, alone shall cheer Thy sick'ning soul; at that sad hour, When o'er a much-lov'd parent's bier, Thy duteous sorrows shower: At that sad hour, when all thy hopes decline; When pining Care leads on her pallid train, And sees thee, like the weak and widow’d vine, Winding thy blasted tendrils o'er the plain. At that sad hour shall D'Arcy lend his aid, And raise with friendship's arm thy drooping head.
“This fragrant wreath, the Muses' meed, That bloom'd those vocal shades among, Where never flatt'ry dar'd to tread, Or interest's servile throng; Receive, thou favor'd son, at my command, And keep with sacred care, for D'Arcy's brow: Tell him, 'twas wove by my immortal hand, I breath'd on every flower a purer glow; Say, for thy sake, I send the gift divine To him, who calls thee his, yet makes thee mine.”
* Andrew Marvell, born at Kingston-upon-Hull in the year 1620.
f See The Rehearsal Transposed, and an account of the effect of that satire, in the Biographia Britannica, art. Marvell.
ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF A LADY.
The midnight clock has toll'd ; and hark, the bell
Os death beats slow! heard ye the note profound?
It pauses now; and now, with rising knell,
Flings to the hollow gale its sullen sound.
Yes, **** is dead. Attend the strain,
Daughters of Albion' Ye that, light as air,
So oft have tript in her fantastic train,
With hearts as gay, and faces half as fair:
For she was fair beyond your brightest bloom;
(This envy owns, since now her bloom is fled;)
Fair as the forms, that, wove in fancy's loom,
Float in light vision round the poet's head.
Whene'er with soft serenity she smil'd,
Or caught the orient blush of quick surprise,
How sweetly mutable, how brightly wild,
The liquid lustre darted from her eyes!
Each look, each motion, wak'd a new-born grace,
That o'er her form its transient glory cast:
Some lovelier wonder soon usurp'd the place,
Chas'd by a charm still lovelier than the last.
That bell again! it tells us what she is:
On what she was, no more the strain prolong :
Luxuriant fancy, pause: an hour like this
Demands the tribute of a serious song,
Maria claims it from that sable bier,
Where cold and wan the slumberer rests her head;
In still small whispers to reflection's ear,
She breathes the solemn dictates of the dead.
Oh catch the awful notes, and lift them loud;
Proclaim the theme, by sage, by fool rever'd :
Hear it, ye young, ye vain, ye great, ye proud!
"Tis Nature speaks, and Nature will be heard.
Yes, ye shall hear, and tremble as ye hear,
While, high with health, your hearts uxulting leap;
Ev’n in the midst of Pleasure's mad career,
The mental monitor shall wake and weep.
For say, than ****'s propitious star,
What brighter planet on your births arose:
Or gave of Fortune's gifts an ampler share,
In life to lavish, or by death to lose !
Early to lose; while, borne on busy wing,
Ye sip the nectar of each varying bloom:
Nor fear, while basking in the beams of spring,
The wintry storm that sweeps you to the tomb.
Think of her fate' revere the heav'nly hand
That led her hence, though soon, by steps so slow:
Long at her couch Death took his patient stand,
And menac'd oft, and oft withheld the blow:
To give reflection time, with lenient art,
Each fond delusion from her soul to steal;
Teach her from folly peaceably to part,
And wean her from a world she lov’d so well.
Say, are ye sure his mercy shall extend
To you so long a span Alas, ye sigh:
Make then, while yet ye may, your God, your friend,
And learn with equal ease to sleep or die!
Nor think the Muse, whose sober v_ice ye hear,
Contracts with bigot frown her sullen brow;
Casts round Religion's orb the mists of fear,
Or shades with horrors, what with smiles should
No; she would warm you with seraphic fire,
Heirs as ye are of Heav'n's eternal day;
Would bid you boldly to that Heav'n aspire,
Not sink and slumber in your cells of clay.
Know, ye were form'd to range yon azure field,
In yon ethereal founts of bliss to lave:
Force then, secure in Faith's protecting shield,
The sting from Death, the vict'ry from the Grave
Is this the bigot's rant? Away, ye vain,
Your hopes, your fears, in doubt, in dullness steep
Go, soothe your souls in sickness, grief, or pain,
With the sad solace of eternal sleep.
Yet will I praise you, trislers as ye are,
More than those preachers of your fav'rite creed
Who proudly swell the brazen throat of war,
Who form the phalanx, bid the battle bleed;
Nor wish for more : who conquer, but to die.
Hear, Folly, hear, and triumph in the tale:
Like you, they reason; not, like you, enjoy
The breeze of bliss, that fills your silken sail:
On Pleasure's glitt'ring stream ye gaily steer
Your little course to cold oblivion's shore:
They dare the storm, and, through th' inclement year
Stem the rough surge, and brave the torrent's roar.
Is it for glory? that just Fate denies.
Long must the warrior moulder in his shroud,
Ere from her trump the heav'n-breath'd accents rise
That lift the hero from the fighting crowd.
Is it his grasp of empire to extend ?
To curb the sury of insulting foes?
Ambition, cease: the idle contest end:
'Tis but a kingdom thou canst win or lose.
And why must murder'd myriads lose their all,
(If life be all,) why desolation lower,
With famish'd frown, on this affrighted ball,
That thou may'st flame the meteor of an hour?
Go wiser ye, that flutter life away,
Crown with the mantling juice the goblet high;
Weave the light dance, with festive freedom gay,
And live your moment, since the next ye die.
Yet know, vain sceptics, know, th' Almighty mind,
Who breath'd on man a portion of his fire,
Bade his free soul, by earth nor time confin'd
To Heav'n, to immortality aspire.
Nor shall the pile of hope, his mercy rear'd,
By vain philosophy be e'er destroy'd :
Eternity, by all or wish'd or fear'd,
Shall be by all or suffer'd or enjoy'd.
EPITAPH ON MRS. MASON.
IN THE CATHEDRAL OF BRISTOL.
Take, holy earth all that my soul holds dear:
Take that best gift which Heav'n so lately gave :
To Bristol's fount I bore with trembling care
Her faded form; she bow'd to taste the wave,
And died. Does youth, does beauty, read the line?
Does sympathetic fear their breasts alarm
Speak, dead Maria! breathe a strain divine :
Ev’n from the grave thou shalt have power to
Bid them be chaste, be innocent, like thee;
Bid them in duty's sphere as meekly move;
And if so fair, from vanity as free;
As firm in friendship, and as fond in love.
Tell them, though 'tis an awful thing to die,
("Twas ev'n to thee) yet the dread path once trod
Heav'n lists its everlasting portals high,
And bids “the pure in heart behold their God."