« PředchozíPokračovat »
only son of his mother, and she a widow ! Perhaps a more affecting spectacle:-a kind and indulgent father of a numerous family, lies breathless; snatched away in the strength of his age;-torn in an evil hour from his children and the bosom of a disconsolate wife!
Behold much people of the city gathered together to mix their tears, with settled sorrow in their looks, going heavily along to the house of mourning, to perform that last melancholy office, which, when the debt of nature is paid, we are called upon to pay to each other.
If the sad occasion which leads him there has not done it already, take notice to what a serious and devout frame of mind every man is reduced the moment he enters this gate of affliction. The busy and fluttering spirits, which in the house of mirth were wont to transport him from one diverting object to another, see how they are fallen! how peaceably they are laid! In this gloomy mansion, full of shades and uncomfortable damps to seize the soul,-see, the light and easy heart, which never knew what it was to think before, how pensive it is now! how soft! how susceptible! how full of religious impressions! how deeply it is smitten with a sense and with a love of virtue! Could we, in this crisis, whilst this empire of reason and religion lasts, and the heart is thus exercised with wisdom and busied with Heavenly contemplations,could we see it naked as it is,-stripped of its passions, un
spotted by the world, and regardless of its pleasures, we might then safely rest our cause upon this single evidence, and appeal to the most sensual, Whether Solomon has not made a just determination 'here in favour of the house of mourning?-not for its own sake, but as it is fruitful in virtue, and becomes the occasion of so much good. Without this end, sorrow, I own, has no use but to shorten a man's days;
nor can gravity, with all its studied solemnity of look and carriage, serve any end but to make one half of the world merry, and impose upon the other. STERNE.
THE FESTAL HOUR.
WHEN are the lessons giv'n
That shake the startled earth ?-When wakes the
While the friend sleeps ?-When falls the traitor's blow?
When are proud sceptres riv'n
High hopes o'erthrown ?—It is, when lands rejoice,
Fear ye the festal hour!
When mirth o'erflows, then tremble !-'Twas a night
Of gorgeous revel, wreaths, and dance, and light,
When, through the regal bow'r,
The trumpet peal'd, ere yet the song was done;
The marble shrines were crown'd; Young voices, through the blue Athenian sky, And Dorian reeds, made summer-melody, And censer's wav'd around;
And lyres were strung, and bright libations pour'd, When, through the streets, flash'd out th' avenging
Fearless and free, the sword with myrtles bound!*
Through Rome a triumph pass'd.
Rich in her sun-god's mantling beams went by
With shout and trumpet-blast.
An empire's gems their starry splendour shed
And many a Dryad's bow'r
Had lent the laurels, which, in waving play, Stirr'd the warm air, and glisten'd round his way, As a quick-flashing show'r.
*The sword of Harmodius.
+ Paulus Æmilius, one of whose sons died a few days before, and another after, his triumph upon the conquest of Macedon, when Perseus, king of that country, was led in chains.
O'er his own porch, meantime, the cypress hung;
A sound of lyre and song,
In the still night, went floating o'er the Nile,
And lamps were shining o'er the red wine's foam,
'Twas Antony that bade
The joyous chords ring out !—but strains arose
Shook Alexandria through her streets that night,
Bright midst its vineyards lay
The fair Campanian city,† with its tow'rs
* See the description given by Plutarch, in his Life of Antony, of the supernatural sounds heard in the streets of Alexandria the night before Antony's death.
+ Herculaneum, of which it is related, that all the inhabitants were assembled in the theatres, when the shower of ashes which covered the city descended.
Joy was around it as the glowing sky,
A cloud came o'er the face
Of Italy's rich heaven !—its crystal blue
As with the wings of death! in all his pow'r
Such things have been of yore,
In the gay regions where the citrons blow,
And where the palms to spicy winds are waving,
Turn we to other climes!
Far in the Druid isle a feast was spread,
And ancient battle-rhymes
Stonehenge, said by some traditions to have been erected to the memory of Ambrosius, an early British king; and by others, mentioned as a monumental record of the massacre of British chiefs here alluded