« PředchozíPokračovat »
Thy morning bounties ere I left my home, There sits quiescent on the floods, that show The biscuit, or confectionary plum;
Her beauteous form reflected clear below, The fragrant waters on my cheeks bestow'd While airs impregnated with incense play By thy own hand, till fresh they shone and glow'd : Around her, fanning light her streamers gay ; All this, and more endearing still than all, So thou, with sails how swift! hast reach'd the Thy constant flow of love, that knew no fall,
shore, Ne'er roughend by those cataracts and breaks, “Where tempests never beat nor billows roar," That humour interposed too often makes ; And thy loved consort on the dang’rous tide All this still legible in mem'ry's page,
Of life long since has anchor'd by thy side. And still to be so to my latest age,
But me, scarce hoping to attain that rest, Adds joy to duty, makes me glad to pay
Always from port withheld, always distressid, Such honours to thee as my numbers may ; Me howling blasts drive devious, tempest-toss'l, Perhaps a frail memorial, but sincere,
Sails ripp'd, seams op'ning wide, and compass kes, Not scorn'd in Heav'n, though little noticed here. And day by day some current's thwarting force
Could Time, his flight reversed, restore the hours, Sets me more distant from a prosp'rous course. When, playing with thy vesture's tissued flow’rs, Yet 0 the thought that thou art safe, and he ! The violet, the pink, and jessamine,
That thought is joy, arrive what may to me. I prick'd them into paper with a pin,
My boast is not, that I deduce my birth (And thou wast happier than myself the while, From loins enthroned, and rulers of the earth; Wouldst softly speak, and stroke my head, and But higher far my proud pretensions riseCould those few pleasant days again appear, (smile,) | The son of parents pass'd into the skies. Might one wish bring them, would I wish them here! And now, farewell—Time unrevoked has run I would not trust my heart—the dear delight His wonted course, yet what I wish'd is done. Seems so to be desired, perhaps I might.
By contemplation's help, not sought in rain, But no—what here we call our life is such, I seem t' have lived my childhood o'er again ; So little to be loved, and thou so much,
To have renew'd the joys that once were mine, That I should ill requite thee to constrain Without the sin of violating thine ; Thy unbound spirit into bonds again.
And, while the wings of Fancy still are free, Thou, as a gallant bark from Albion's coast And I can view this mimic show of thee, (The storms all weather'd and the ocean cross'd) Time has but half succeeded in his theft Shoots into port at some well-haven'd isle
Thyself removed, thy power to soothe me left Where spices breathe, and brighter seasons smile,
(Born, 1739, Died, 1802.)
ERASMUS DARWIN was born at Elton, near / arrival in the very place where he proved the Newark, in Nottinghamshire, where his father apostle of sobriety. Having one day joined a was a private gentleman. He studied at St. few friends who were going on a water-party, John's College, Cambridge, and took the degree he got so tipsy after a cold collation, that, on the of bachelor in medicine ; after which, he went boat approaching Nottingham, he jumped into to Edinburgh, to finish his medical studies. the river, and swam ashore. The party calka Having taken a physician's degree at that uni to the philosopher to return ; but he walked ca versity, he settled in his profession at Litchfield; deliberately, in his wet clothes, till he reached and, by a bold and successful display of his skill the market-place of Nottingham, and was there in one of the first cases to which he was called, found by his friend, an apothecary of the place, established his practice and reputation. About baranguing the town's-people on the benefit of a year after his arrival, he married a Miss fresh air, till he was persuaded by his friend to Howard, the daughter of a respectable inhabit- | come to his house and shift his clothes, Dr. ant of Litchfield, and by that connexion strength- | Darwin stammered habitually; but on this oecaened his interest in the place. He was, in theory sion wine untied his tongue. In the prime of and practice, a rigid enemy to the use of wine, life, he had the misfortune to break the patella and of all intoxicating liquors; and, in the course of his knee, in consequence of attempting to drive of his practice, was regarded as a great promoter a carriage of his own Utopian contrivance, which of temperate habits among the citizens : but he upset at the first experiment. gave a singular instance of his departure from He lost his first wife, after thirteen years of his own theory, within a few years after his domestic union. During his widowhood, Mirs
Pole, the wife of a Mr. Pole, of Redburn, in to build systems of vital sensibility on mere Derbyshire, brought her children to his house, mechanical principles ; and in the former, he to be cured of a poison, which they had taken in paints everything to the mind's eye, as if the soul the shape of medicine, and, by his invitation, she had no pleasure beyond the vivid conception of continued with him till the young patients were form, colour, and motion. Nothing makes perfectly cured. He was soon after called to poetry more lifeless than description by abstract attend the lady, at her own house, in a dangerous terms and general qualities; but Darwin runs to fever, and prescribed with more than a physi. the opposite extreme of prominently glaring cian's interest in her fate. Not being invited to circumstantial description, without shade, relief, sleep in the house in the night after his arrival, or perspective. he spent the hours till morning beneath a tree, His celebrity rose and fell with unexampled opposite to her apartment, watching the passing rapidity. His poetry appeared at a time pecuand repassing lights. While the life which he so liarly favourable to innovation, and his attempt passionately loved was in danger, he paraphrased to wed poetry and science was a bold experiment, Petrarch's celebrated sonnet on the dream which which had some apparent sanction from the predicted to him the death of Laura. Though triumphs of modern discovery. When Lucretius less favoured by the muse than Petrarch, he was wrote, science was in her cradle ; but modern more fortunate in love. Mrs. Pole, on the demise philosophy had revealed truths in nature more of an aged partner, accepted Dr. Darwin's band, sublime than the marvels of fiction. The Rosiin 1781; and, in compliance with her inclinations, crucian machinery of his poem had, at the first he removed from Litchfield to practise at Derby. glance, an imposing appearance, and the variety He had a family by his second wife, and con of his allusion was surprising. On a closer view, tinued in high professional reputation till his it was observable that the Botanic goddess, and death, in 1802, which was occasioned by angina her Sylphs and Gnomes, were useless, from their pectoris, the result of a sudden cold.
having no employment; and tiresome, from being Dr. Darwin was between forty and fifty before the mere pretexts for declamation. The variety he began the principal poem by which he is of allusion is very whimsical. Dr. Franklin is known. Till then he had written only occasional compared to Cupid ; whilst Hercules, Lady verses, and of these he was not ostentatious, fear- Melbourne, Emma Crewe, Brindley's canals, ing that it might affect his medical reputation to be and sleeping cherubs, sweep on like images in thought a poet. When his name as a physician a dream. Tribes and grasses are likened to had, however, been established, he ventured, in angels, and the truffle is rehearsed as a subterthe year 1781, to publish the first part of his ranean empress. His laborious ingenuity in find“ Botanic Garden." Mrs. Anna Seward, in hering comparisons is frequently like that of Hervey life of Darwin, declares herself the authoress of in his “Meditations,” or of Flavel in his "Gardenthe opening lines of the poem ; but as she had ing Spiritualized.” never courage to make this pretension during If Darwin, however, was not a good poet, it Dr. Darwin's life, her veracity on the subject is may be owned that he is frequently a bold perexposed to suspicion*. In 1789 and 1792, the sonifier, and that some of his insulated passages second and third part of his botanic poem appeared. are musical and picturesque. His Botanic GarIn 1793 and 1796, he published the first and den once pleased many better judges than his second parts of his “ Zoonomia, or the Laws of affected biographer, Anna Seward ; it fascinated Organic Life." In 1801, he published “ Phyto even the taste of Cowper, who says, in conjunclogia, or the Philosophy of Agriculture and tion with Hayley, Gardening ;” and, about the same time, a small “We, therefore pleased, extol thy song, treatise on female education, which attracted
Though various yet complete, little notice. After his death appeared his poem,
Rich in embellishment, as strong “ The Temple of Nature," a mere echo of the
And learned as 'tis sweet. “ Botanic Garden."
And deem the bard, whoe'er he be,
And howsoever known, Darwin was a materialist in poetry no less
That will not weave a wreath for thee, than in philosophy. In the latter, he attempts
Unworthy of his own."
FROM « THE BOTANIC GARDEN," CANTO II.
Gnomes ! your bold forms unnumber'd arms out
stretch, When Heaven's dread justice smites in crimes And urge the vengeance o'er the guilty wretcho'ergrown
Thus when Cambyses led his barbarous hosts The blood-nursed Tyrant on his purple throne, From Persia's rocks to Egypt's trembling coasts,
(* “I was at Lichfield," writes R. L. Edgeworth to written by Miss Seward."-Edgeworth's Memoirs, vol. ii. Sir Walter Scott, “when the lines in question were p. 267.)
FROM CANTO III.
Defiled each hallow'd fane, and sacred wood, Wheeling in air the winged islands fall,
Then ceased the storm,—Night bow'd his Ethiopi And pour'd destruction through her hundred gates;
brow In dread divisions march'd the marshald bands,
To earth, and listen'd to the groans below,And swarming armies blacken'd all the lands,
Grim Horror shook,-awhile the living hill By Memphis these to Ethiop's sultry plains,
Heaved with convulsive throes,-and all was still! And those to Hammon's sand-encircled fanes. Slow as they pass'd, the indignant temples frown'd, Low curses muttering from the vaulted ground; Long aisles of cypress waved their deepen’d glooms, And quivering spectres grinn'd amid the tombs !
Persuasion to Mothers to suckle their own Children. Prophetic whispers breathed from Sphinx's tongue, And Memnon's lyre with hollow murmurs rung; CONNUBIAL Fair! whom no fond transport warms Burst from each pyramid expiring groans, To lull your infant in maternal arms ; And darker shadowsstretch'd their lengthen'd cones. Who, bless'd in vain with tumid bosoms, hear Day after day their deathful route they steer, His tender wailings with unfeeling ear; Lust in the van, and Rapine in the rear.
The soothing kiss and milky rill deny Gnomes! as they march'd, you hid the gather'd To the sweet pouting lip, and glistening eye! fruits,
Ah! what avails the cradle's damask roof, The bladed grass, sweet grains, and mealy roots; The eider bolster, and embroider'd woof! Scared the tired quails that journey'd o'er their Oft hears the gilded couch unpitied plains, heads,
And many a tear the tassel'd cushion stains ! Retain'd the locusts in their earthy beds ; No voice so sweet attunes his cares to rest, Bade on your sands no night-born dews distil, So soft no pillow as his mother's breast :Stay'd with vindictive hands the scanty rill. — Thus charm’d to sweet repose, when twilight hours Loud o'er the camp the fiend of Famine shrieks, Shed their soft influence on celestial bowers, Calls all her brood and champs her hundred beaks; The cherub Innocence, with smile divine, O'er ten square leagues her pennons broad expand, Shuts his white wings, and sleeps on beauty'sshride. And twilight swims upon the shuddering sand : Perch'd on her crest the griffin Discord clings, And giant Murder rides between her wings ; Blood from each clotted hair, and horny quill, And showers of tears in blended streams distil;
Midnight Conflagration ; Catastrophe of the families of High poised in air her spiry neck she bends,
Woodmason and Molesworth. Rolls her keen eye, her dragon claws extends, Darts from above, and tears at each fell swoop From dome to dome when flames infuriate climb, With iron fangs the decimated troop.
Sweep the long street, invest the tower sublime ; Now o'er their head the whizzing whirlwinds Gild the tall vanes, amid the astonish'd night, breathe,
And reddening Heaven returns the sanguine And the live desert pants, and heaves beneath ;
light ; Tinged by the crimson sun, vast columns rise While with vast strides and bristling hair aloof Of eddying sands, and war amid the skies, Pale Danger glides along the falling roof; In red arcades the billowy plain surround, And giant Terror howling in amaze And whirling turrets stalk along the ground. Moves his dark limbs across the lurid blaze. -Long ranks in vain their shining blades extend, Nymphs ! you first taught the gelid wave to rise, To demon-gods their knees unhallow'd bend, Hurl'd in resplendent arches to the skies; Wheel in wide circle, form in hollow square, In iron cells condensed the airy spring, And now they front, and now they fly the war, And imp'd the torrent with unfailing wing: Pierce the deaf tempest with lamenting cries, -On the fierce flames the shower impetuous fall Press their parch'd lips, and close their blood-shot And sudden darkness shrouds the shatter'd salls; eyes.
Steam, smoke, and dust, in blended volumes roll, Gnomes! o'er the waste you led your myriad powers, And night and silence repossess the pole. Climb'd on the whirls, and aim'd the flinty showers! Where were ye, Nymphs ! in those disastroes Onward resistless rolls the infuriate surge,
hours, Clouds follow clouds, and mountains mountains Which wrapp'd in flames Augusta's sinking towers? urge ;
Why did ye linger in your wells and groves, Wave over wave the driving desert swims, When sad Woodmason mourn'd her infant lores! Bursts o'er their heads, inhumes their struggling when thy fair daughters with unheeded screaras limbs ;
Ill-fated Molesworth! call’d the loitering streamsMan mounts on man, on camels camels rush,
The trembling nymph on bloodless fingers hung, Hosts march o'er hosts and nations nations crush-Eyes from the tottering wall the distant throng,
FROM THE SAME.
With ceaseless shrieks her sleeping friends alarms, The beauteous Ægle felt the venom'd dart*,
Sinks on the pillowy moss her drooping head, And now a third, and now a fourth she brings ; And prints with lifeless limbs her leafy bed. Safe all her babes, she smooths her horrent brow,
-On wings of love her plighted swain pursues, And bursts through bickering flames, unscorch'd Shades her from winds, and shelters her from dews, below,
Extends on tapering poles the canvas roof, So by her son arraign'd, with feet unshod, Spreads o'er the straw-wove mat the flaxen woof, O'er burning bars indignant Emma trod.
Sweet buds and blossoms on her bolster strows, E’en on the day when Youth with Beauty wed, And binds his kerchief round her aching brows; The fames surprised them in their nuptial bed;— Soothes with soft kiss, with tender accents charms, Seen at the opening sash with bosom bare, And clasps the bright infection in his arms.With wringing hands, and dark disheveld hair, With pale and languid smiles the grateful fair The blushing bride with wild disorder'd charms Applauds his virtues, and rewards his care ; Round her fond lover winds her ivory arms; Mourns with wet cheek her fair companions fled Beat, as they clasp, their throbbing hearts with On timorous step, or number'd with the dead; fear,
Calls to her bosom all its scatter'd rays, And many a kiss is mix'd with many a tear ; And pours on Thyrsis the collected blaze; Ah me! in vain the labouring engines pour Braves the chill night, caressing and caress'd, Round their pale limbs the ineffectual shower And folds her hero-lover to her breast.Then crash'd the floor, while shrinking crowds Less bold, Leander at the dusky hour retire,
Eyed, as he swam, the far love-lighted tower ;
Where seven fond lovers by a fiend had bled;
-Sylphs! while your winnowing pinions fann'd the
And shed gay visions o'er the sleeping pair ; [air, The heroic Attachment of the Youth in Holland, who
Love round their couch effused his rosy breath, attended his mistress in the plague.
And with his keener arrows conquer'd Death.
* When the plague raged in Holland, in 1636, a young Thus when the Plague, upborne on Belgian air, girl was seized with it, had three carbuncles, and was Look'd through the mist and shook his clotted removed to a garden, where her lover, who was betrothed hair ;
to her, attended her as a nurse, and slept with her as hig
wife. He remained uninfected, and she recovered, and O'er shrinking nations steer'd malignant clouds, was married to him. The story is related by Vinc. FabriAnd rain's destruction on the gasping crowds ; cius, in the Misc. Cur. Ann. II. Obs. 18%.
JAMES BEATtie was born in the parish of of verse, which he transmitted to the Scottish Lawrence Kirk, in Kincardineshire, Scotland. Magazine, gained him a little local celebrity. His father, who rented a small farm in that Mr. Garden, an eminent Scottsh lawyer, afterparish, died when the poet was only seven years wards Lord Gardenstone, and Lord Monboddo, old; but the loss of a protector was happily encouraged him as an ingenious young man, supplied to him by his elder brother, who kept and introduced him to the tables of the neighhim at school till he obtained a bursary at the bouring gentry : an honour not usually extended Marischal College, Aberdeen. At that univer to a parochial schoolmaster. In 1757, he stood sity he took the degree of master of arts ; and, candidate for the place of usher in the highat nineteen, he entered on the study of divinity, / school of Aberdeen. He was foiled by a comsupporting himself, in the mean time, by teaching petitor, who surpassed him in the minutiwe of a school in the neighbouring parish. Whilst Latin grammar; but his character as a scholar he was in this obscure situation, some pieces suffered so little by the disappointment, that at
the next vacancy he was called to the place literary character in a finer light. Gray's mind without a trial. He had not been long at this was not in poetry only, but in many other school, when, in 1761, he published a volume of respects, peculiarly congenial with his own ; and Original Poems and Translations which (it speaks nothing could exceed the cordial and reverential much for the critical clemency of the times) | welcome which Beattie gave to his illustrious were favourably received, and highly commended visitant. In 1770, he published his “ Essay on in the English Reviews. So little satisfied was Truth,” which had a rapid sale, and extensive the author himself with those early effusions, popularity; and within a twelvemonth after, the that, excepting four, which he admitted to a first part of his “ Minstrel.” The poem appeared subsequent edition of his works, he was anxious at first anonymously ; but its beauties were imto have them consigned to oblivion ; and he mediately and justly appreciated. The second destroyed every copy of the volume which he part was not published till 1774. When Gray could procure.
About the age of twenty-six, criticised the Minstrel he objected to its author, he obtained the chair of Moral Philosophy in that, after many stanzas, the description went the Marischal College of Aberdeen, a promotion on and the narrative stoppedt. Beattie very which he must have owed to his general reputa- justly answered to this criticism, that he meant tion in literature : but it is singular, that the the poem for description, not for incident. But friend who first proposed to solicit the High he seems to have forgotten this proper apology, Constable of Scotland to obtain this appointment, when he mentions in one of his letters his inshould have grounded the proposal on the merit tention of producing Edwin, in some subsequent of Beattie's poetry. In the volume already books, in the character of a warlike bard inmentioned there can scarcely be said to be a spiring his countrymen to battle, and contributing budding promise of genius.
to repel their invaders. This intention, if he Upon his appointment to this professorship, ever seriously entertained it, might have prowhich he held for forty years, he immediately duced some new kind of poem, but would bare prepared a course of lectures for the students ; formed an incongruous counterpart to the piece and gradually compiled materials for those prose as it now stands, which, as a picture of still works, on which his name would rest with con life, and a vehicle of contemplative morality, siderable reputation, if he were not known as a has a charm that is inconsistent with the bold poet. It is true, that he is not a first-rate evolutions of heroic narrative. After having metaphysician ; and the Scotch, in undervaluing portrayed his young enthusiast with such ailhis powers of abstract and close reasoning, have vantage in a state of visionary quiet, it would been disposed to give him less credit than he have been too violent a transition to have begun deserves, as an elegant and amusing writer. in a new book to surround him with dates of But the English, who must be best able to judge time and names of places. The interest which of his style, admire it for an ease, familiarity, and we attach to Edwin's character, would have an Anglicism that is not to be found even in the been lost in a more ambitious effort to make him correct and polished diction of Blair. His mode a greater or more important, or a more locally of illustrating abstract questions is fanciful and defined being. It is the solitary growth of his interesting.
genius, and his isolated and mystic abstraction In 1765, he published a poem entitled “The from mankind, that fix our attention on the Judgment of Paris," which his biographer, Sir romantic features of that genius. The simWilliam Forbes, did not think fit to rank among plicity of his fate does not divert us from his his works". For more obvious reasons Sir Wil- mind to his circumstances. A more unworldly liam excluded his lines, written in the subse air is given to his character, that instead of quent year, on the proposal for erecting a monu being tacked to the fate of kings, he was one ment to Churchill in Westminster Abbey-lines “ Who envied not, who never thought of kings;" which have no beauty or dignity to redeem their and that, instead of mingling with the troubles bitter expression of hatred. On particular sub- which deface the creation, he only existed to jects, Beattie's virtuous indignation was apt to make his thoughts the mirror of its beauty be hysterical. Dr. Reid and Dr. Campbell and magnificence. Another English critics has hated the principles of David Hume as sincerely blamed Edwin's vision of the fairies es tro as the author of the Essay on Truth; but they splendid and artificial for a simple youth ; but never betrayed more than philosophical hostility, while Beattie used to speak of the propriety of
[t Gray complained of a want of action. “As to descrip
tion," he says, “I have always thought that it made the excluding Hume from civil society.
most graceful ornament of poetry, but never ought to His reception of Gray, when that poet visited make the subject."] Scotland in 1765, shows the enthusiasm of his [# This was no written intention, but one delivered
orally in reply to a question from Sir William Forbes * It is to be found in the Scottish Magazine ; and, if I An invasion however, had been for long a settled pointmay judge from an obscure recollection of it, is at least some great service that the minstrel was to do his and as well worthy of revival as some of his minor pieces. try; but his plan was never concerted.] (See it also in the Aldine edition of Beattie, p. 97.}
§ Dr. Aikin.