« AnteriorContinuar »
Stand forth! be men! repel an impious foe, And beauteous island! thou hast been my sole Impious and false, a light yet cruel race, And most magnificent temple, in the which Who laugh away all virtue, mingling mirth I walk with awe, and sing my stately songs, With deeds of murder; and still promising Loving the God that made me! May my Freedom, themselves too sensual to be free,
fears, Poison life's amities, and cheat the heart My filial fears, be vain! and may the vaunts Of faith and quiet hope, and all that soothes And menace of the vengeful enemy And all that lifts the spirit! Stand wc forth; Pass like the gust, that roar'd and died away Render them back upon the insulted ocean, In the distant tree: which heard, and only And let them toss as idly on it's waves
heard As the vile sea-weed, which some mountain- In this low dell, bow'd not the delicate grasa.
blast Swept from our shores! And oh! may we
But now the gentle dew-fall sends abroad Not with a drunken triumph, but with fear, The fruit-like perfume of the golden furze: Repenting of the wrongs with which we The light has left the summit of the hill,
Though still a sunny gleam lies beautiful So fierce a foe to frenzy! I have told, Aslant the ivied beacon. Now farewell, O Britons ! 0 my brethren! I have told Farewell, awhile, O soft and silent spot! Most bitter truth, but without bitterness. On the green sheep-track, up the heathy hill, Nor deem my zeal or factious or mis-tim’d; Homeward I wind my way; and, lo! recall'd For never can true courage dwell with them, From bodings that have well nigh wearied Who, playing tricks with conscience, dare
me, not look
I find myself upon the brow, and pause
And elmy Fields, secms like societyLike fancy-points and fringes, with the robe Conversing with the mind, and giving it Pullid off at pleasure. Fondly these attach A livelier impulse and a dance of thought! A radical causation to a few
And now, beloved Stowey! I behold Poor drudges of chastising Providence, Thy church-tower, and, methinks, the four Who borrow all their hues and qualities
huge elms From our own folly and rank wickedness, Clustering, which mark the mansion of my Which gave them birth and nurse them.
friend; Others, meanwhile, And close behind them, hidden from my Dote with a mad idolatry ; and all
view, Who will not fall before their images, Is my own lowly cottage, where my babe And yield them worship, they are enemies And my babe's mother dwell in peace! With Even of their country! Such have I been
And quicken'd footsteps thitherward I tend, But, o dear Britain ! ( my Mother-Isle! Remembering thee, oh green and silent den! Needs must thou prove a name most dear And grateful, that by nature's quictness
And solitary musings all my heart
dear and holy
hills, Thy clouds, thy quiet dales, thy rocks and SAD lot, to have no Hope! Tho' lowly Beas,
kneeling, Have drunk in all my intellectual life, He fain would frame a prayer within his All sweet sensations, all ennobling thoughts,
breast, All adoration of the God in Nature, Would fain intreat for some sweet breath of All lovely and all honorable things,
healing, Whatever makes this mortal spirit feel That his sick body might have case and rest; The joy and greatness of its future being? He strove in vain! the dull sighs from his There lives nor form nor feeling in my soul
ehest Unborrow'd from my country. O divinc Against his will the stifling load revealing
Tho' Nature forc'd; tho' like some captive ander the name of a War-Eclogue, in which
Fire, Famine, and Slaughter were introduced Some royal prisoner at his conqueror's feast, as the speakers. The gentleman 60 addressAn alien's restless mood but half concealing, ed replied, that he was rather surprised that The sternness on his gentle brow confest none of us should have noticed or heard of Sickness within and miserable feeling: the Poem, as it had been, at the time, a Tho'obscure pangs made curses of his dreams, good deal talked of in Scotland. It may be And dreaded sleep, each night repelld in vain, easily supposed, that my feelings were at Each night was scatter'd by its own loud this monient not of the most comfortable
kind. Of all present, one only knew, or Yet never conld his heart command, tho' fain, suspected me to be the author; a man who One deep full wish to be no more in pain. would have established himself in the first
rank of England's living Poets, if the Genius
of our country had not decreed that he should That Hope, which was his inward bliss rather be the first in the first rank of its
and boast, Philosophers and scientific Benefactors. It Which wan'd and died, yet ever near him appeared the general wish to hear the lines.
As my friend chose to remain silent, I chose Tho' chang'd in nature, wander where he to follow his example, and Mr. ***** recited
the Poem. This he could do with the better For Love's Despair is but Hope's pining grace, being known to have ever been not
only a firm and active Anti-Jacobin and For this one hope he makes his hourly moan, Anti-Gallican, but likewise a zealous adHe wishes and can wish for this alone! niirer of Mr. Pitt, both as a good man and Piercd, as with light from heaven, before a great Statesman. As a Poet exclusively,
he had been amused with the Eclogue; as (So the love-stricken visionary deems) a Poet, he recited it; and in a spirit, which Disease would vanish, like a summer-shower, made it evident, that he would have read Whose dews fling sunshine from the noon- and repeated it with the same pleasure, had
tide bower! bis own name been attached to the imaginary Or let it stay! yet this one Hope should object or agent. give
After the recitation, our amiable host obSuch strength that he would bless his pains served, that in his opinion Mr. ***** bad
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 FIRE, FAMINE, AND SLAUGHTER. illustrious friend became greatly distressed
on my account; but fortunately I was able A WAR-ECLOGUE,
to preserve fortitude and presence of mind
enough to take up the subject without exWITH AN APOLOGETIC PREFACE. citing even a suspicion, how nearly and pain
fully it interested me. Me dolor incautam, me lubrica duxerit atas, Me tumor impulerit, me devius egerit ardor:
What follows, is substantially the same Te tamen haud decuit paribus concurrere telis.
as I then replied, but dilated and in language En adsın : veniam, confessus crimina, posco. less colloquial. It was not my intention, I
CLAUD. Epist. ad Hadr. said, to justify the publication, whatever There is one that slippeth in his speech, but its author's feelings might have been at the not from his heart; and who is he that hath not time of composing it. That they are calofended with his tongue ?
culated to call forth so severe a reprobation Ecclesiasticus, xii. 16. from a good man, is not the worst fmture
of such poems. Their moral deformity is Ar the house of a gentleman, who by aggravated in proportion to the pleasure the principles and corresponding virtues of which they are capable of affording to vina sincere Christian consecrates a cultivated dictive, turbulent, and unprincipled readers. genias and the favorable accidents of birth, Could it be supposed, though for a moment, opulence, and splendid connexions, it was that the author seriously wished what he toy good fortune to meet, in a dinner-party, had thus wildly imagined, even the attempt with more men of celebrity in science or to palliate an inhumanity so monstrous would polite literature, than are commonly found be an insult to the hearers. But it seemed collected round the same table. In the course to me worthy of consideration, whether the of conversation, one of the party reminded mood of mind, and the general state of senan illustrious Poet, then present, of some sations, in which a Poct produces such vivid verses which he bad recited that morning, and fantastic images, is likely to co-exist, or und which had appeared in a newspaper is even compatible with that gloomy and
deliberate ferocity which a serious wish to watch for him), I'll tickle his pretty skin! realize them would pre-suppose. It had been I won't hurt him! oh no! I'll only cut the often observed, and all my experience tended ---to the liver!” I dare appeal to all preto confirm the observation, that prospects sent, which of the two they would regard of pain and evil to others, and in general, as the least deceptive symptom of deliberate all deep feelings of revenge, are commonly malignity ? nay, whether it would surprize expressed in a few words, ironically tame them to see the first fellow, an hour or two and mild. The mind, under so direful and afterward, cordially shaking hands with the fiend-like an influence, seems to take a mor- very man, the fractional parts of whose body bid pleasure in contrasting the intensity of and soul he had been so charitably disposing its wishes and feelings with the slightness of; or even perhaps risking his life for him. or levity of the expressions by which they What language Shakspeare considered chaare hinted ; and indeed feelings so intense racteristic of malignant disposition, we see and solitary, if they were not precluded (as in the speech of the good-natured Gratiano, in almost all cases they would be) by a con- who spoke an infinite deal of nothing more stitutional activity of fancy and association, than any man in all Venice; and by the specific joyousness combined with
-Too wild, too rude and bold of voice, it, would assuredly themselves preclude such activity. Passion, in its own quality, is the the skipping spirit, whose thoughts and antagonist of action; though in an ordinary words reciprocally ran away with each other; and natural degree the former alternates -O be thou damn'd, inexorable dog! with the latter, and thereby revives and
And for thy life let justice be accused ! strengthens it. But the more intense and and the wild fancies that follow, contrasted insane the passion is, the fewer and the more with Shylock's tranquil I stand here for Lare. fixed are the correspondent forms and notions. Or, to take a case more analogous to the A rooted hatred, an inveterate thirst of present subject, should we hold it either fair revenge, is a sort of madness, and still or charitable to believe it to have been Daneddies round its favourite object, and exer-te's serious wish, that all the persons mencises as it were a perpetual tautology of tioned by him, (many recently departed mind in thoughts and words, which admit and some even alive at the time) should of no adequate substitutes. Like a fish in actually suffer the fantastic and horrible a globe of glass, it moves restlessly round punishments, to which he has sentenced and round the scanty circumference, wbich them in his hell and purgatory? Or what it can not leave without losing its vital shall we say of the passages in which Bishop element.
Jeremy Taylor anticipates the state of those There is a second character of such ima- who, vicious themselves, have been the ginary representations as spring from a real cause of vice and misery to their fellow-creaand carnest desire of evil to another, which tures? Could we endure for a moment to we often see in real life, and might even think that a spirit, like Bishop. Taylor's, anticipate from the nature of the mind. The burning with Christian love; that a man images, I mean, that a vindictive man pla- constitutionally overflowing with pleasurces before his imagination, will most often able kindliness; who scarcely even in a cabe taken from the realities of life: they will sual illustration introduces the image of be images of pain and suffering which he woman, child, or bird, but he embalms the has himself seen inflicted on other men, and thought with so rich a tenderness, as makes which he can fancy himself as inflicting on the very words seem beauties and fragments the object of his hatred. I will suppose of poetry from an Euripides or Simonides;that we had heard at different times two can we endure to think, that a man so nacommon sailors, each speaking of some one tured and so disciplined, did at the time of who had wronged or offended him; that the composing this horrible picture, attach a first with apparent violence had devoted sober feeling of reality to the phrases ? or every part of his adversary's body and soul that he would have described in the same to all the horrid phantoms and fantastic tone of justification, in the same luxuriant places that ever Quevedo dreamt of, and flow of phrases, the tortures about to be ihis in a rapid flow of those outré and wildly inflicted on a living individual by a verdict combined execrations, which too often with of the Star-Chamber or the still more our lower classes serve for escape-valves to atrocious sentences executed on the Scotch carry off the excess of their passions, as so anti-prelatists and schismatics, at the com much superfluous steam that would endanger mand, and in some instances under the very the vessel if it were retained. The other, eye of the Duke of Lauderdale, and of that on the contrary, with that sort of calmness wretched bigot who afterwards disbonored of tone which is to the ear what the paleness and forfeited the throne of Great Britain ? of anger is to the eye, shall simply say: "If Or do we not rather feel and understand I chance to be made boatswain, as i hope that these violent words were mere bubbles I soon shall, and can but once get that fel-flashes and electrical apparitions, from the low under my hand (and I shall be upon the magic cauldron of a fervid and ebulliant fancy, constantly fuelled by an unexampled poem, so far was I even then from imaginopulence of language ?
ing, that the lines would be taken as more Were I now to have read by myself for or less than a sport of fancy. At all events, the first time the poem in question, my con- if I know my own heart, there was never clusion, I fully believe, would be, that the a moment in my existence in which I should writer must have been some man of warm have been more ready, had Mr. Pitt's person feelings and active fancy; that he had painted been in hazard, to interpose my own body, to himself the circumstances that accompany and defend his life at the risque of my own. war in so many vivid and yet fantastic forms, I have prefaced the poem with this anecas proved that neither the images nor the dote, because to have printed it without feelings were the result of observation, or any remark might well have been understood in any way derived from realities. I should as implying an unconditional approbation on judge, that they were the product of his my part, and this after many years considerown seething imagination, and therefore ation. But if it be asked why I re-published impregnated with that pleasurable exultation it at all? I answer, that the Poem had been wbich is experienced in all energetic exertions attributed at different times to different other of intellectual power; that in the same mood persons; and what I had dared beget, I he had generalized the causes of the war, thought it neither manly nor honorable not and then personified the abstract and christ- to dare father. From the same motives I ened it by the name which he had been should have published perfect copies of two accustomed to hear most often associated poems, the one entitled The Devil's Thoughts, with its management and measures. I should and the other The Two Round Spaces on the guess that the minister was in the author's Tomb-Stone, but that the three first stanzas mind, at the moment of composition, as com- of the former, which were worth all the rest pletely analns, craquosa xoc, as Anacreon's of the poem, and the best stanza of the regrasshopper, and that he had as little notion mainder, were written by a friend of deof a real person of flesh and blood, served celebrity; and because there are pasDistinguishable in member, joint, or limb,
sages in both, which might have given ofas Milton had in the grim and terrible phan-readers. I myself indeed see no reason why
fence to the religious feelings of certain toms (half person, half allegory) which he has placed at the gates of Hell.1 concluded vulgar superstitions, and absurd conceptions by observing, that the Poem was not cal-that deform the pure faith of a Christian, culated to excite passion in any mind, or to ridicule than stories of witches, or the fables
should possess a greater immunity from make any impression except on poetic readers; of Greece and Rome. But there are those and that from the culpable levity, betrayed who deem it profaneness and irreverence to by the grotesque union of epigrammatic wit with allegoric personification, in the allusion call an ape an ape, if it but wear a nionk's to the nost fearful of thoughts, I should cowl on its head; and I would rather reason conjecture that the "rantin Bardie," instead with this weakness than offend it. of really believing, inuch less wishing, the
The passage from Jeremy Taylor to which fate spoken of in the last line, in application Christ's Advent to Judgement; which is
I referred, is found in his second Sermon on to any human individual, would shrink from passing the verdict even on the Devil him- likewise the second in his year's course of self, and exclaim with poor Burns :
sermons. Among many remarkable passages
of the same character in those discourses, But fare ye weel, auld Nickie-ben!
I have selected this as the most so. “But Oh! wad ye tak a thought an' men! Ye aiblins might-I dinna ken
when this Lion of the tribe of Judah shall Still bae a stake- appear, then Justice shall strike and Mercy I'm wae to think upon yon den,
shall not hold her hands, she shall strike Ev'n for your sake!
sore strokes, and Pity shall not break the I need not say that these thoughts, which blow. As there are treasures of good things, are here dilated, were in such a company no hath God a treasure of wrath and fury, only rapidly suggested. Our kind host smiled, and scourges and scorpions; and then shall and with a courteous compliment observed, be produced the shame of Lust and the that the defence was too good for the cause. malice of Envy, and the groans of the opMy voice faultered a little, for I was some- pressed and the persecutions of the saints, what agitated; though not so much on my and the cares of Covetousness and the trouown account as for the uneasiness that so bles of Ambition, and the insolencies of traikind and friendly a man would feel from the tors and the violences of rebels, and the rago thought that he had been the occasion of of anger and the uneasiness of impatience, distressing me. At length I brought out and the restlessness of unlawful desires; and these words: I must now confess, Sir! that by this time the monsters and diseases will I am the author of that Pocm. It was writ- be numerous and intolerable, when God's ten some years ago. I do not attempt to heavy hand shall press the sanies and the justify my past sell, young as I then was; intolerableness, the obliquity and the unbut as litile as I would now write a similar reasonableness, the amazement and the dis
order, the smart and the sorrow, the guilt chief which all good and humane men must and the punishment, out from all our sins, of course desire, will, he taken for granted and pour them into one chalice, and mingle by parity of reason, meet with a punishment, them with an infinite wrath, and make the an ignominy, and a retaliation, as much wicked drink off all the vengeance, and force severer than other wicked men, as their it down their unwilling throats with the guilt and its consequence were more enormviolence of devils and accursed spirits.” ous. His description of this imaginary pun
That this Tartarean drench displays the ishment presents more distinct pictures to imagination rather than the discretion of the fancy than the extract from Jeremy Taythe compounder; that, in short, this passage lor; but the thoughts in the latter are inand others of the same kind are in a bad comparably more exaggerated and horrific. taste, few will deny at the present day. It All this I knew; but I neither remembered, would doubtless have more behoved the good nor by reference and careful re-perusal could bishop not to be wise beyond what is written, discover, any other meaning, either in Milon a subject in which Eternity is opposed ton or Taylor, but that good men will be to Time, and a death threatened, not the rewarded, and the impenitent wicked punishnegative, but the positive Opposite of Life; ed, in proportion to their dispositions and a subject, therefore, which must of neces- intentional acts in this life; and that if the sity be indescribable to the human under- punishment of the least wicked be fearful standing in our present state. But I can beyond conception, all words and descriptions neither find nor believe, that it ever occur- must be so far true, that they must fall red to any reader to ground on such pas- short of the punishment that awaits the sages a charge against Bishop Taylor's hu- transcendently wicked. Had Milton stated manity, or goodness of heart. I was not a either his ideal of virtue, or of depravity, little surprized therefore to find, in the Pur- as an individual or individuals actually exsuits of Literature and other works, so hor- isting? Certainly not! Is his representation rible a sentence passed on Milton's moral worded historically, or only hypothetically? character, for a passage in his prose-wri- Assuredly the latter ! Does he express it as tings, as nearly parallel to this of Taylor's his own wish, that after death they should as two passages can well be conceived to be. suffer these tortures? or as a general conAll his merits, as a poet, forsooth-all the sequence, deduced from reason and revelaglory of having written the Paradise Lost, tion, that such will be their fate? Again the are light in the scale, nay, kick the beam, latter only! His wish is expressly confined compared with the atrocious malignity of to a speedy stop being put by Providence heart expressed in the offensive paragraph. to their power of inflicting misery on others! I remembered, in general, that Milton had But did he name or refer to any persons, concluded one of his works on Reformation, living or dead? No! But the calumniators written in the fervoor of his youthful ima- of Milton daresay (for what will calumny gination, in a high poetic strain, that wanted not dare say?) that he had Laud and Stapmetre only to become a lyrical poem. I FORD in his mind, while writing of remorseremembered that in the former part he had less persecution and the enslavement of a formed to himself a perfect ideal of human free country, from motives of selfish ambivirtue, a character of heroic, disinterested tion. Now, what if a stern anti-prelatist zeal and devotion for Truth, Religion, and should daresay, that in speaking of the insopublic Liberty, in Act and in Suffering, in lencies of traitors and the violences of rebels, the day of Triumph and in the hour of Mar- Bishop Taylor must have individualized in tyrdom. Such spirits, as more excellent his mind, HAMDEN, Hollis, Pyu, FAIRFAI, than others, hre describes as having a more Ireton, and Milton? And what if he should excellent reward, and as distinguished by a take the liberty of concluding, that in the transcendent glory: and this reward and afterdescription the Bishop was feeding and this glory he displays and particularizes feasting his partyhatred, and with those with an energy and brilliance that announ- individuals before the eyes of bis imaginaced the Paradise Lost as plainly, as ever tion enjoying, trait by trait, horror after the bright purple clouds in the east announ- horror, the picture of their intolerable ago ced the coming of the Sun. Milton then nies? Yet this bigot would have an equal passes to the gloomy contrast, to such men right thus to criminate the one good and as from motives of selfish ambition and great man, as these men have to criminate the Just of personal aggrandizement should, the other. Milton has said, and I doubt not against their own light, persecute truth and but that Taylor with equal truth could have the true religion, and wilfully abuse the said it, that in his whole life he never spate powers and gifts entrusted to them, to bring against a man even that his skin should be vice, blindness, misery and slavery, on their grazed. He asserted this when one of his native country, on the very country that opponents (either Bishop Hall or his pephew) had trusted, enriched and honored them. had called upon the women and children in Such beings, after that speedy and appro- the streets to take up stones and stone him priate removal from their sphere of mis-|(Milton). It is known that Milton repeatedly