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The subject proposed. Address to the Earl of Wilmington. First
approach of Winter. According to the natural course of the Season, various storms described. Rain. Wind. Snow. The driving of the snows: a man perishing among them; whence reflections on the wants and miseries of human life. The wolves descending from the Alps and Apenines. A Winter Evening described : as spent by philosophers ; by the country people; in the city. Frost. A view of Winter within the Polar Circle. A thaw. The whole concluding with moral reflections on a future. state.
SEE, Winter comes to rule the varied year,
Sullen and sad, with all his rising train:
Vapours, and clouds, and storms. Be these my theme,
These! that exalt the soul to solemn thought,
And heavenly musing. Welcome, kindred glooms !
Congenial horrors, bail! with frequent foot,
Pleas'd have I, in my cheerful morn of life,
When nursid by careless solitude I liv'd,
And sung of Nature with unceasing joy,
Pleas'd have I wander'd through your rough domain;
Trod the pure virgin snows, myself as pure;
Heard the winds roar, and the big torrent burst;
Or seen the deep-fermenting tempest brew'd,
In the grim evening sky. Thus pass'd the time,
Till through the lucid chambers of the south
Look'd out the joyous Spring, look'd out, and smild.
To thee, the patron of her first essay,
The muse, O Wilmington! renews her song.
Since has she rounded the revolving year,
Skim'd the gay Spring; on eagle-pinions borne,
Attempted through the Summer-blaze to rise ;
Then swept o'er Autumn with the shadowy gale;
And now among the wintry clouds again,
Roll'd in the doubling storm, she tries to soar;
To swell her note with all the rushing winds;
To suit her sounding cadence to the floods ;
As is her theme, her numbers wildly great ;
Thrice happy! could she fill thy judging ear
With bold description, and with manly thought.
Nor art thou skill'd in awful schemes alone,
And how to make a mighty people thrive :
But equal goodness, sound integrity,
A firm unshaken uncorrupted soul
Amid a sliding age, and burning strong,
Not vainly blazing for thy country's weal,
A steady spirit regularly free;
These, each exalting each, the statesman light
Into the patriot; these, the public hope
And eye to thee converting, bid the muse
Record what envy dares not flattery call.
Now when the cheerless empire of the sky
To Capricorn the Centaur Archer yields,
And fierce Aquarius stains th' inverted year,
Hung o'er the farthest verge of heaven, the sun
Scarce spreads through ether the dejected day.
Faint are his gleams, and ineffectual shoot
His struggling rays, in horizontal lines,
Through the thick air; as, cloth'd in cloudy storm,
Weak, wan, and broad, he skirts the southern sky;
And, soon descending, to the long dark night,
Wide shading all, the prostrate world resigns,
Nor is the night unwishod; while vital heat,
Light, life, and joy, the dubious day forsake.
Meantime, in sable-cincture, shadows vast,
Deep-ting'd and danıp, and congregated clouds,
And all the vapoury turbulence of heaven,
Involve the face of things. Thus Winter falls,
A heavy gloom oppressive o'er the world,
Through nature shedding influence malign,
And rouses up the seeds of dark disease.
•The soul of man dies in him, loathing life,
And black with more than melancholy views.
The cattle droop; and o'er the furrow d land,
Fresh from the plough, the dun discolour'd flocks,
Untended spreading, crop the wholesoine root.
Along the woods, along the moorish fens,
Sighs the sad genius of the coming storm;
And up among the loose disjointed cliffs,
And fractur'd mountains wild, the brawling brook
And cave, presageful, send a hollow moan,
Resounding long in listening fancy's ear.
Then comes the father of the tempest forth,
Wrapt in black glooms. First joyless rains obscure
Drive through the mingling skies with vapour foul;
Dash on the mountain's brow, and shake the woods,
That grumbling wave below. Th' unsightly plain
Lies a brown deluge; as the low-bent clouds
Pour flood on flood, yet unexhausted still
Combine, and deepening into night shut up
The day's fair face. The wanderers of heaven,
Each to his home, retire ; save those that love
To take their pastime in the troubled air,
Or skimming futter round the dimply pool.
The cattle from th' untasted fields return,
And ask, with meaning low, their wonted stalls,
Or ruminate in the contiguous shade.
Thither the household feathery people crowd,
The crested cock, with all his female train,
Pensive, and dripping; while the cottage-hind
Hangs o'er th' enlivening blaze, and taleful there
Recounts his simple frolic: much he talks,
And much he laughs, nor recks the storm that blows
Without, and rattles on his humble roof.
Wide 'o'er the brim, with many a torrent swell’d, And the mix'd ruin of its banks o'erspread, At last the rous'd-up river pours along: Resistless, roaring, dreadful, down it comes, From the rude mountain, and the mossy wild, Tumbling through rocks abrupt, and sounding far; Then o'er the sanded valley floating spreads, Calm, sluggish, silent; till again, constrain'd Petween two meeting hills, it bursts away, Where rocks and woods o'erhang the turbid stream; There gathering triple force, rapid, and deep, It boils, and wheels, and foams, and thunders through.
Nature ! great parent! whose unceasing hand Rolls round the Seasons of the changeful year, How mighty, how majestic, are thy works!
With what a pleasing dread they swell the soul !
That sees astonish'd! and astonish'd sings!
Ye too, ye winds! that now begin to blow,
With boisterous sweep, I raise my voice to you.
Where are your stores, ye powerful beings! say,
aërial magazines serv'
To swell the brooding terrors of the storm ?
In what far distant region of the sky,
Hush'd in deep silence, sleep ye when 'tis calm?
When from the pallid sky the sun descends,
With many a spot, that o'er his glaring orb
Uncertain wanders, stain'd, red fiery streaks
Begin to flush around. The reeling clouds
Stagger with dizzy poise, as doubting yet
Which master to obey: while rising slow,
Blank, in the leaden-colour'd east, the moon
Wears a wan circle round her blunted horns.
Seen through the turbid fluctuating air,
The stars obtuse emit a shiver'd ray;
Or frequent seem to shoot athwart the gloom,
And long behind them trail the whitening blaze,
Snatch'd in short eddies, plays the wither'd leaf;
And on the flood the dancing feather floats.
With broaden'd nostrils, to the sky up-turn'd,
The conscious heifer snuffs the stormy gale.
Ev'n as the matron, at her nightly task,
With pensive labour draws the faxen tread,
The wasted taper and the crackling flame
Foretel the blast. But chief the plumy race,
The tenants of the sky, its changes speak.
Retiring from the downs, where all day long
They pick'd their scanty fare, a blackening train
Of clamorous rooks thick urge their weary flight,
And seek the closing shelter of the grove;
Assiduous, in his bower, the wailing owl
Plies his sad song. The cormorant on high
Wheels from the deep, and screens along the land.
Loud shrieks the soaring hern; and with wild wing
The circling sea-fowl cleave the flaky clouds.
Ocean, unequal press’d, with broken tide
And blind commotion heaves; while from the shore,
Eat into caverns by the restless wave,
And forest-rustling mountains, comes a voice,
That solemn sounding bids the world prepare.
Then issues forth the storm with sudden burst,
And hurls the whole precipitated air,
Down, in a torrent. On the passive main
Descends th' ethereal force, and with strong gust
Turns from its bottom the discolour'd deep.
Through the black night that sits immense around,
Lash'd into foam, the fierce conflicting brine
Seems o'er a thousand raging waves to burn :
Meantime the mountain-billows to the clouds
In dreadful tumult swell’d, surge above surge,
Burst into chaos with tremendous roar,
And anchor'd navies from their stations drive,
Wild as the winds across the howling waste
Of mighty waters: now th' inflated wave
Straining they scale, and now impetuous shoot
Into the secret chambers of the deep,
The wintery Baltic thundering o'er their head.
Emerging thence again, before the breath
Of full-exerted heaven they wing their course,
And dart on distant coasts; if some sharp rock,
Or shoal insidious break not their career,
And in loose fragments fing them floating round.
Nor less at land the loosen'd tempest
The mountain thunders; and its sturdy sons
Stoop to the bottom of the rocks they shade.
Lone on the midnight steep, and all aghast,
The dark way-fairing stranger breathless toils,
And, often falling, climbs against the blast.
Low waves the rooted forest, vex'd, and sheds
What of its tarnish'd honours yet remain ;
Dash'd down, and scatter'd by the tearing wind's
Assiduous fury its gigantic limbs.
Thus struggling through the dissipated grove,
The whirling tempest raves along the plain ;
And on the cottage thatch'd, or lordly roof,
Keen-fastening, shakes them to the solid base.
Sleep frighted flies; and round the rocking dome,
For entrance eager, howls the savage blast.
Then too, they say, through all the burden'd air,
Long groans are heard, shrill sounds, and distant sighs