Графични страници
PDF файл

Stand forth! be men! repel an impious foe,
Impious and false, a light yet cruel race,
Who laugh away all virtue, mingling mirth
With deeds of murder; and Mill promising
Freedom, themselves too sensual to he free,
Poison life's amities, and cheat the heart
Of faith and quiet hope, and all that soothes
And nil that lifts the spirit! Stand vc forth;
Render them back upon the insulted ocean,
And let them toss as idly on it's waves
As the vile sea-weed, which some mountain-
blast
Swept from our shores! And oh! may we

retnrn Not with a drunken triumph, but with fear, Repenting of the wrongs with which we

stung So fierce a foe to frenzy!—I have told, O Britons! O my brethren! I have told Most bitter truth, but without bitterness. Nor deem my zeal or factious or mis-tinTd; For never enn true courage dwell with them, Who, playing tricks with conscience, dare

not look At their own vices. We have been too long Dupes of a deep delusion! Some, belike, Groaning with restless enmity, expect All change from change of constituted power; As if a Government had been a robe, On which our vice and wretchedness were

.ta£G'd Like fancy-points and fringes, with the robe

Pull'd off nt pleasure. Fondly these attach
A radical causation to a few
Poor drudges of chastising Providence,
Who borrow all their hues and qualities
From our own folly and rank wickedness,
Which gave them birth and nurse them.
Others, meanwhile,
Dote with a mad idolatry; and all
Who will not fall before their images,
And yield them worship, they are enemies
Even of their country! Such have I been

deem'd— But, O dear Britain! O my Mothcr-lslc! Meeds must thou prove a name most dear

and holy To me, a son, a brother, and a friend, A husband, and a father! who revere All bonds of natural love, and find them all Within the limits of thy rocky shores. O native Britain! O my Mother-Isle! How shouldst thou prove aught else but

dear and holy To me, who from thy lnkes and mountainhills, Thy clouds, thy quiet dales, thy rocks and

seas, Have drunk in nil my intellectual life, All sweet sensations, all ennobling thoughts, All adoration of the God in Nature, All lovely nnd all honorable things, Whatever makes this mortal spirit feel The joy and greatness of its future being? There lives nor form nor feeling in my soul I'nborrow'd from my country. O divine

And beauteous island! thou hast been my sole And most magnificent temple, in the which I walk with awe, and sing my stately songs, Loving the God that made me! May my

fears, My filial fears, be vain! and may the Taunts And menace of the vengeful enemy Pass like the gust, that roar'd and died away In the distant tree: which heard, and only

heard In this low dell, bow'd not the delicate grass.

But now the gentle dew-fall sends abroad The fruit-like perfume of the golden furze: The light has left the summit of the hill, Though still a sunny gleam lies beautiful Aslant the ivied beacon. Now farewell, Farewell, awhile, O soft and silent spot! On the green sheep-track, up the heathy hill, Homeward I wind my way; and, lo! recall'd From bodings that have well nigh wearied

me, I find myself upon the brow, and pause Startled! And after lonely sojourning In such a quiet and sorrounded nook, This burst of prospect, here the shadowy

Main, Dim tinted, there the mighty majesty Of that huge amphitheatre of rich And elmy Fields, seems like society— Conversing with the mind, and giving it A livelier impulse and a dance of thought! And now, beloved Stowey! I behold Thy church-tower, and, methinks, the four

huge elms Clustering, which mark the mansion of my

friend; And close behind them, hidden from my

view. Is my own lowly cottage, where my babe And my babe's mother dwell in peace! With

light And quicken'd footsteps thitherward I trad. Remembering thee, oh green and silent dell! And grateful, that by nature's quietness And solitary musings all my heart Is soften'd and made worthy to indulge Love, and the thoughts that yearn for huinaa

kind.

THE VISIONARY HOPE.

Sad lot, To Have No Hops! Tho' lowly kneeling.

He fain would frame a prayer within his breast.

Would fain intreat for some sweet breath c ( healing,

That his sick body might have ease and Its*;

He strove in vain! the dull sighs from sua chest

Against his will the stifling load rcvcalisvg Tint" Nature fore'd; tlio' like some captive

guest, Some royal prisoner at his conqueror's feast, An alien's restless mood but half concealing, Tie sternness on his gentle brow ronfest Sickness within and miserable feeling: Tho'obscure pangs made curses of his dreams, And dreaded sleep, each night repell'd in vain, ttich night was scatter'd by its own loud

screams: let never could his heart command, tho'fain, Ooe deep full wish to be no more in pain.

That Hops, which was his inward bliss and boast,

Which wan'd and died, yet ever near him stood,

Tho' chang'd in nature, wander where he would—

For Lore's Despair is but Hope's pining Ghost!

For this one hope he makes his hourly moan,

He wishes and can wish for tliia alone!

Pierc'd, as with light from heaven, before its gleams

(So the love-stricken visionary deems)

Disease would vanish,like a summer-shower,

Whose dews fling sunshine from the noontide bower!

Or let it stay! yet this one Hope should give

Such strength that he would bless his pains and live.

FIRE, FAMINE, AND SLAUGHTER.

A WAB.-ECLOGITK,

WITH AN APOLOGETIC PREFACE.

Me rfslor iaeantnm, me lubrica dnxerit :rlat»,
Me tnmor impalerit, me devias egcrit ardor:
I e tanm hand decuit paribus ennenrrere tells.
£• tdtom: veniam, confestus crimina, posco.

Ci.ai p. Epiat. ad Hadr.

There is one that slippeth in his speech, but "1 from big hear!; and who is he that hath not "ended with his tongue!

Ectltiiaittcut, xix. 18.

At the house of a gentleman, who by 'he principles and corresponding virtues of a sincere Christian consecrates a cultivated

"iu< and the favorable accidents of birth, opnlence, and splendid connexions, it was ny good fortune to meet, in a dinner-party, ■»ith more men of celebrity in science or polite literature, than are commonly found collected round the same table. In the course °f conversation, one of the party reminded <B illustrious Poet, then present, of some "rscs which he had recited that morning, and which had appeared in a newspaper

under the name of a War-Eclogue, in which Fire, Famine, and Slaughter were introduced as the speakers. The gentleman so addressed replied, that he was rather surprised that none of us should have noticed or heard of the Poem, as it had been, at the time, a good deal talked of in Scotland. It may be easily supposed, that my feelings were at this moment not of the most comfortable kind. Of all present, one only knew, or suspected me to be the author; a man who would have established himself in the first rank of Englnnd's living Poets, if the Genius of our country had not decreed that he should rather be the first in the first rank of its Philosophers and scientific Benefactors. It appeared the general wish to hear the lines. As ray friend chose to remain silent, I chose to follow his example, and Mr. •*••• recited the Poem. This he could do with the better grace, being known to have ever been not only a firm and active Anti-Jacobin and Anti-Gallican, but likewise a zealous admirer of Mr. Pitt, both as a good man and a great Statesman. As a Poet exclusively, be had been amused with the Eclogue; as a Poet, he recited it; and in a spirit, which randc it evident, that he would have read and repeated it with the same pleasure, had his own name been attached to the imaginary object or agent.

After the recitation, onr amiable host observed, that in his opinion Mr. ***'* had over-rated the merits of the poetry; but had they been tenfold greater, they could not have compensated for that malignity of heart, which could alone have prompted sentiments so atrocious. I perceived that my illustrious friend became greatly distressed on my account; but fortunately I was able to preserve fortitude and presence of mind enough to take up the subject without exciting even a suspicion, how nearly and painfully it interested me.

What follows, is substantially the same as I then replied, but dilated and in Innguage less colloquial. It was not my intention, I said, to justify the publication, whatever its author's feelings might have been at the time of composing it. That they are calculated to call forth so severe a reprobation from a good man, is not the worst faskture of such poems. Their moral deformity is aggravated in proportion to the pleasure which they are capable of affording to vindictive, turbulent, and unprincipled readers. Could it be supposed, though for a moment, that the author seriously wished what he had thus wildly imagined, even the attempt to palliate an inhumanity so monstrous would be an insult to the hearers. But it seemed to me worthy of consideration, whether the mood of mind, and the general state of sensations, in which a Poet produces such vivid and fantastic images, is likely to co-exist, or is even compatible with that gloomy and deliberate ferocity which, a gerioiiB with to realize them would prc-suppose. It had been often observed, and all my experience tended to confirm the observation, that prospects ill pain and evil to others, and in general, all deep feelings of revenge, are commonly expressed in a few words, ironically tame and mild. The mind, under so direful and fiend-like an influence, seems to take a morbid pleasure in contrasting the intensity of its wishes and feelings with the slightness or levity of the expressions by which tliey arc hinted; and indeed feelings so intense and solitary, if they were not precluded (as in nlmnst all cases they would be) by a constitutional activity of fancy and association, and by the specific jnyousness combined with it, would assuredly themselves preclude such activity. Passion, in its own quality, is the antagonist of action; though in an ordinary and natural degree the former alternates with the latter, and thereby revives and strengthens it. But the more intense and insane the pnssion is, the fewer and the more fixed are, the correspondent forms and notions. A rooted hatred, an inveterate thirst of revenge, is a sort of madness, and still eddies round its favourite object, and exercises ns it were a perpetual tautology of mind in thoughts and words, which admit of no adequate substitutes. Like a fish in a globe of glass, it moves restlessly round and round the scanty circumference, which it can not leave without losing its vital element

There is a second character of such imaginary representations as spring from a real and earnest desire of evil to another, which we often see in real life, and might even anticipate from the nature of the mind. The images, I mean, that a vindictive man places before his imagination, will most often be taken from the realities of life: they will he images of pain and suffering which he lias himself seen inflicted on other men, and which he can fancy himself as inflicting on the object of his hatred. I will suppose that we had heard at different times two common snilors, each speaking of some one who had wronged or offended him; that the first with apparent violence had devoted v\ erg part of his adversary's body and soul to all the horrid phantoms and fantastic places that ever Quevedo dreamt of, nnd this in a rapid flow of those outre and wildly combined execrations, which too often with our lower classes serve for escape-valves to carry off the excess of their passions, as so much superfluous steam Hint would endanger the vessel if it were retained. The other, on the contrary, with that sort of calmness of tone which is to the ear what the paleness of anger is to the eye,shall simply say: "If I chance to be made boatswain, as 1 hope I soon shall, nnd can but once get that fellow under my hand (and I shall be upon the

watch for him), I'll tickle his pretty skis! I won't hurt him! oh no! I'll only cut the to the liver!" I dare appeal to all present, which of the two they would regard as the least deceptive symptom of deliberate malignity? nay, whether it would surprize them to see the first fellow, an hour or two afterward, cordially shaking hands with the very man, the fractional parts of whose body and soul he had been so charitably disposing of; or even perhaps risking his life for him. What language Slinkspeare considered characteristic of malignant disposition, we see in the speech of the good-natured Gratiano, who spoke an infinite deal pf nothing more than any man in all Venice;

Too wild, too rode and bold of voice,

the skipping spirit, whose thoughts and words reciprocally ran away with each other;

O be thou damnd, ineiorablc dog!

And for toy life let justice be accused!

and the wild fancies that follow, contrasted with Shy lock's tranquil / stand Acre for Law. Or, to take a case more analogous to the present subject, should we hold it cither fair or charitable to believe it to have been Dante's serious wish, that all the persons mentioned by him, (many recently departed and some even alive at the time) should actually suffer the fantastic and horrible punishments, to which he has sentenced them in his hell and purgatory? Or what shall we say of the passages in which Bishop Jeremy Taylor anticipates the state of those who, vicious themselves, have been the cause of vice and misery to their fellow-creatures? Could we endure for a moment to think that a spirit, like Bishop Taylor's, burning with Christian love; that a man constitutionally overflowing with pie able kindliness; who scarcely even in sual illustration introduces the image of woman, child, or bird, but he embalms the thought with so rich a tenderness, as makes the very words seem beauties and fragments of poetry from an Euripides or Simonidra;— can we endure to think, that a man »o naturcd and so disciplined, did at the time of composing this horrible picture, attach a sober feeling of reality to the phrases* or that he would have described in the same tone of justification, in the some luxuriant flow of phrases, the tortures about In be inflicted on a living individual by a verdict of the Star-Chamber? or the still more atrocious sentences executed on the Scotch anti-prelatists and schismatics, at the cosa mand, nnd in some instances under the very eye of the Duke of Lauderdale, and of that wretched bigot who afterwards dishonored and forfeited the throne of Great Britain? Or do we not rather feel and understand, that these violent words Were mere bubbles. flashes and electrical apparitions, from the magic cauldron of a fervid and ebnlliisi fancy, constantly fuelled l>y an unexampled opnlence of language?

Were I now to have read by myself for the first time the poem in question, my conclusion, I fully believe, would be, that the writer must have been some man of warm feelings and active fancy; that he had painted to himself the circumstances that accompany war in so many vivid and yet fantastic forms, as proved that neither the imnges nor the feelings were the result of observation, or in any way derived from realities. I should judge, that they were the product of his own seething imagination, and therefore impregnated with that pleasurable exultation which is experienced in all energetic exertions of intellectual power; that in the same mood he had generalized the causes of the war, and then personified the abstract and christened it by the name which he had been accustomed to hear most often associated with its management and measures. I should gness that the minister was in the author's mind, at the moment of composition, as completely caraSqc, dvatfioatxpxoc, as Anacreon's grasshopper, and that he had as little notion of a real person of flesh and blood,

Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb, aa Milton had in the grim and terrible phantoms (half person, half allegory) which he has plared at the gates of Hell. I concluded li.v observing, that the Poem was not calculated to excite passion in any mind, or to male any impression except on poetic readers; nnd that from the culpable levity, betrayed by the grotesque union of epigrammatic wit with allegoric personification, in the allusion to the most fearful of thoughts, I should conjecture that the "rantin Bardie," instead of really believing, much less wishing, the fate spoken of in the last line, in application ta any human individual, would shrink from passing the verdict even on the Devil himself, and exclaim with poor Burns:

But fare ye weel, auld Nickie-ben!
Oh* wad ye tak a thought an' men!
Ye sibling might—I dimia ken—

Still hae a stake
I'm wae to think upon yon den,

Ev'n for your sake!

I need not say that these thoughts, which are here dilated, were in such a company only rapidly suggested. Our kind host smiled, *nd with a courteous compliment observed, that the defence was too good for the cause. My voice faultered a little, for I was somewhat agitated; though not so much on my own account an for the uneasiness that so Hod and friendly a man would feel from the thought that he had been the occasion of distressing me. At length I brought out these words: I must now confess, Sir! that 1 am the author of that Poem. It was written some years ago. I do not attempt to justify my past self, young as I then was; l"it as little as I wonld now write a similar

poem, Ro far was I even then from imagining, that the lines would be taken as more or less than a sport of fancy. At all events, if I know my own heart, there was never a moment in my existence in which I should have been more ready, had Mr. Pitt's person been in hazard, to interpose my own body, and defend his life at the risque of my own. I have prefaced the poem with this anecdote, because to have printed it without any remark might well have been understood as implying an unconditional approbation on my part, and this after many years consideration. But if it be asked why I re-published it at all? I answer, that the Poem had been attributed at different times to different other persons; and what I had dared beget, I thought it neither manly nor honorable not to dare father. From the same motives I should have published perfect copies of two poems, the one entitled The Devil's Thoughts, and the other The Two Round Spaces on the Tomb-Stone, but that the three first stanzas of the former, which were worth all the rest of the poem, and the best stanza of the remainder, were written by a friend of deserved celebrity; and because there arc passages in both, which might have given offence to the religious feelings of certain readers. I myself indeed see no reason why vulgar superstitions, and absurd conceptions that deform the pure faith of a Christian, should possess a greater immunity from ridicule than stories of witches, or the fables of Greece and Borne. But there are those who deem"it profaneness and irreverence to call an ape an ape, if it but wear a monk's cowl on its head; and I would rather reason with this weakness than oll'end it.

The passage from Jeremy Taylor to which I referred, is found in his second Sermon on Christ's Advent to Judgement; which is likewise the second in his year's course of sermons. Among many remarkable passages of the same character in those discourses, I have selected this as the most so. "But when this Lion of the tribe of Jtidah shall appear, then Justice shall strike and Mercy shall not hold her hands; she shall strike sore strokes, and Pity shall not break the blow. As there are treasures of good thinga, so hath God a treasure of wrath and fury, and scourges nnd scorpions; and then shall be produced the shame of Lust and the malice of Envy, and the groans of the oppressed and the persecutions of the saints, nnd the cares of Covetousness and the troubles of Ambition, and </ic insolencies of traitors and the violences of rebels, and the rago of anger and the uneasiness of impatience, and the restlessness of unlawful desires; and by this time the monsters nnd diseases will be numerous and intolerable, when God's heavy hand shall press the sanies and the intolerableness, the obliquity and the unreasonableness, the amazement nnd the ili*

order, the smart nnd the sorrow, the guilt and the punishment, nut from nil our sins, and pour them into one chalice, and mingle them with an infinite wrath, and make the wicked drink oil' all the vengeance, and force it down their unwilling throats with the violence of devils and accursed spirits."

That this Tartarean drench displays the imagination rather than the discretion of the compounder; that, in short, this passage and others of the same kind arc in a bad taste, few will deny at the present day. It would doubtless have more hehoved the good hishop not to he wise heyond what is written, on a suhject in which Eternity is opposed to Time, and a death threatened, not the negative, hut the positive Opposite of Life; a suhject, therefore, which must of necessity he indescribable to the human understanding in our present state. But I can neither find nor helieve, that it ever occurred to any reader to ground on such passages a charge against Bishop Taylor's humanity, or goodness of heart. I was not a little surprized therefore to find, in the Pursuits of Literature and other works, so horrible a sentence passed on Milton's moral character, for a passage in his prose-writings, as nearly parallel to this of Taylor's as two passages can well he conceived to he. All his merits, as a poet, forsooth—all the glory of having written the Paradise Lost, are light in the scale, nay, kick the beam, compared with the atrocious malignity of heart expressed in the olTcnsivc paragraph. I remembered, in general, that Milton had concluded one of his works on Reformation, written in the fervour of his youthful imagination, in a high poetic strain, that wanted metre only to become a lyrical poem. I remembered that in the former part he had formed to himself a perfect ideal of human virtue, a character of heroic, disinterested Zealand devotion for Truth, Religion, and public Liberty, in Act and in Suffering, in the day of Triumph and in the hour of Martyrdom. Such spirits, as more excellent than others, Ire describes as having a more excellent reward, and as distinguished by a transcendent glory: and this reward and this glory he displays and particularizes with an energy and brilliance that announced the Paradise Lost as plainly, as ever the bright purple clouds in the east announced the coming of the Sun. Milton then passes to the gloomy contrast, to such men as from motives of selfish ambition and the lust of personal aggrandizement should, against their own light, persecute truth and the true religion, and wilfully abuse the powers and gifts entrusted to them, to bring vice, blindness, misery and slavery, on their native rountry, on the very country thnt had trusted, enriched and honored them. Such beings, after that speedy and appropriate removal from their sphere of mis

chief which all good and humane men must of course desire, will, he takes for granted by parity of reason, meet witli a punishment, an ignominy, nnd a retaliation, as much severer than other wicked men, as their guilt and its consequence were more, enormous. His description of this imaginary punishment presents more distinct pictures to the fancy than the extract from Jeremy Taylor; but the thoughts in the latter are incomparably more exaggerated and horrific. All this I knew; but I neither remembered, nor by reference and careful re-perusal could discover, any other meaning, either in Milton or Taylor, but that good men will be rewarded, nnd the impenitent wicked punished, in proportion to their dispositions and intentional nets in this life; and that if the punishment of the least wicked be fearful beyond conception, all words nnd descriptions must be so far true, that they must fall short of the punishment that awaits the transcendently wicked. Had Milton stated either his ideal of virtue, or of depravity, as an individual or individuals actually existing? Certainly not! Is his representation worded historically, or only hypothetic-ally? Assuredly the latter! Does he express it as his own wish, that after death they should suffer these tortures? or as a general eonsequence, deduced from reason and revelation, that such will be their fate? Again the latter only! His wish is expressly confined to a speedy stop being put by Providence to their power of inflicting misery on others! But did he name or refer to any persona, living or dead? No! But the calumniators of Milton daresay (for what will calumny not dare say?) that he had Laud and StafFord in his mind, while writing of remorseless persecution and the enslavement nf a free country, from motives of selfish ambition. Now, what if a stern anti-prclatist should daresay, that in speaking nf the insolencies nf traitors and the violences of rebels. Bishop Taylor must have individualized in his mind, Hamdrn. Hollis, Pym. Fhmh 1 Ki:Ion, and Milton? And what if he should take the liberty nf concluding, that in the afterdescription the Bishop was feeding and feasting his partyhatrcd, and with those individuals before the eyes of his imagination enjoying, trnit by trait, horror after horror, the picture of their intolerable agonies? Yet this bigot would have an eqasl right thus to criminate the one good and great man, as these men hare to criminate the other. Milton has said, and I donlit not but that Taylor with equal truth could hate said it, that in his whole life he neverspakr against a man even that his skin should be grazed. He asserted this when one of hi« opponents (either Bishop Hall or his nephewl had called upon the women and children is the streets to take up stones and stone km (Milton). It is known that Milton repeated!*

« ПредишнаНапред »