« AnteriorContinuar »
O blest retreat, and sacred too!
Sacred as when the bell of prayer
And crosses deck'd thy summits blue.
ONCE more, enchanting maid, adieu!
Yet give me, give me, ere I go,
O say-but no, it must not be.
INSCRIPTION FOR A TEMPLE.
DEDICATED TO THE GRACES.
APPROACH With reverence. There are those within Whose dwelling-place is heaven. Daughters of
From them flow all the decencies of life;
TO THE BUTTERFLY.
CHILD of the sun! pursue thy rapturous flight, Mingling with her thou lovest in fields of light; And, where the flowers of paradise unfold, Quaff fragrant nectar from their cups of gold. There shall thy wings, rich as an evening sky, Expand and shut with silent ecstasy! -Yet wert thou once a worm, a thing that crept On the bare earth, then wrought a tomb and slept. And such is man; soon from his cell of clay To burst a seraph in the blaze of day!
* At Woburn Abbey.
WRITTEN IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
OCTOBER 10, 1806.*
WHOE'ER thou art, approach, and, with a sigh, Mark where the small remains of greatness lie.t There sleeps the dust of Fox, for ever gone: How dear the place where late his glory shone ! And, though no more ascends the voice of prayer Though the last footsteps cease to linger there, Still, like an awful dream that comes again, Alas! at best as transient and as vain, Still do I see (while through the vaults of night The funeral song once more proclaims the rite) The moving pomp along the shadowy aisle, That, like a darkness, fill'd the solemn pile; Th' illustrious line, that in long order led, Of those that loved him living, mourn'd him dead; Of those the few, that for their country stood Round him who dared be singularly good: All, of all ranks, that claim'd him for their own; And nothing wanting-but himself alone!
O say, of him now rests there but a name; Wont, as he was, to breathe ethereal flame? Friend of the absent, guardian of the dead !§ Who but would here their sacred sorrows shed? (Such as he shed on Nelson's closing grave; How soon to claim the sympathy he gave!) In him, resentful of another's wrong, The dumb were eloquent, the feeble strong. Truth from his lips a charm celestial drewAh, who so mighty and so gentle too?
What though with war the madding nations rung, Peace," when he spoke, was ever on his tongue! Amidst the frowns of power, the tricks of state, Fearless, resolved, and negligently great! In vain malignant vapours gather'd round; He walk'd, erect, on consecrated ground. The clouds, that rise to quench the orb of day, Reflect its splendour, and dissolve away!
When in retreat he laid his thunder by, For letter'd ease and calm philosophy, Blest were his hours within the silent grove, Where still his godlike spirit deigns to rove; Blest by the orphan's smile, the widow's prayer, For many a deed, long done in secret there. There shone his lamp on Homer's hallow'd page; There, listening, sate the hero and the sage; And they, by virtue and by blood allied, Whom most he loved, and in whose arms he died. Friend of all human kind! not here alone (The voice that speaks, was not to thee unknown) Wilt thou be miss'd. O'er every land and sea, Long, long shall England be revered in thee! And, when the storm is hush'd-in distant yearsFoes on thy grave shall meet, and mingle tears!
*After the funeral of the Right Hon. Charles James Fox.
+ Venez voir le peu qui nous reste de tant de grandeur, etc.-Bossuet. Oraison funèbre de Louis de Bourbon.
Et rien enfin ne manque dans tous ces honneurs, que celui à qui on les rend.-Ibid.
§ Alluding particularly to his speech on moving a new writ for the borough of Tavistock, March 16, 1802.
|| See that admirable delineation of his character by Sir James Mackintosh, which first appeared in the Bombay Courier, January 17, 187.
THE poem of The Sabbath will long endear the name of JAMES GRAHAME to all who love the due observance of Sunday, and are acquainted with the devout thoughts and poetic feeling which it inspires. Nor will he be remembered for this alone; his British Georgics and his Birds of Scotland, rank with those productions whose images and sentiments take silent possession of the mind, and abide there when more startling and obtrusive things are forgotten. There is a quiet natural ease about all his descriptions; a light and shade both of landscape and character in all his pictures, and a truth and beauty which prove that he copied from his own emotions, and painted with the aid of his own eyes, without looking, as Dryden said, through the spectacles of books. To his fervent piety as well as poetic spirit the public has borne testimony, by purchasing many copies of his works. The Birds of Scotland is a fine series of pictures, giving the form, the plumage, the haunts, and habits of each individual bird, with a graphic fidelity rivalling the labours of Wilson. His drama of Mary Stuart wants that passionate and happy vigour which the stage requires; some of his songs are natural and elegant; his Sabbath Walks, Biblical Pictures, and Rural Calendar, are all alike remarkable for accuracy of description and an original turn of thought. He was born at Glasgow, 22d April, 1765; his father, who was a writer, educated him for the bar, but he showed an early leaning to the Muses, and such a love of truth and honour as hindered him from accepting briefs which were likely to lead him out of the paths of equity and justice. His Sabbath was written and published in secret, and he had the pleasure of finding the lady whom he had married among its warmest admirers; nor did her admiration lessen when she discovered the author. His health declined; he accepted the living of Sedgeware, near Durham, and performed his duties diligently and well till within a short time of his death, which took place 14th September, 1811.
giving vent to the familiar sentiments of his bosom. We can trace here, in short, and with the same pleasing effect, that entire absence of art, effort, and affectation, which we have already noticed as the most remarkable distinction of his attempts in description. Almost all the other poets with whom we are acquainted, appear but too obviously to put their feelings and affections, as well as their fancies and phrases, into a sort of studied dress, before they venture to present them to the crowded assembly of the public: and though the style and fashion of this dress varies according to the taste and ability of the inventors, still it serves almost equally to hide their native proportions, and to prove that they were a little ashamed or afraid to exhibit them as they really were. Now, Mr. Grahame, we think, has got over this general nervousness and shyness about showing the natural and simple feelings with which the contemplation of human emotion should affect us; or rather, has been too seriously occupied, and too constantly engrossed with the feelings themselves, to think how the confession of them might be taken by the generality of his readers, to concern himself about the contempt of the fastidious, or the derision of the unfeeling. In his poetry, therefore, we meet neither with the Musidoras and Damons of Thomson, nor the gipsy-women and Ellen Orfords of Crabbe; and still less with the Matthew Schoolmasters, Alice Fells, or Martha Raes of Mr. Wordsworth ;but we meet with the ordinary peasants of Scotland in their ordinary situations, and with a touching and simple expression of concern for their sufferings, and of generous indulgence for their faults. He is not ashamed of his kindness and condescension, on the one hand; nor is he ostentatious or vain of it, on the other; but gives expression in the most plain and unaffected manner to sentiments that are neither counterfeited nor disguised. We do not know any poetry, indeed, that lets us in so directly to the heart of the writer, and produces so The great charm of Mr. Grahame's poetry, (says a full and pleasing a conviction that it is dictated by writer in the Edinburgh Review,) appears to us to the genuine feelings which it aims at communicatconsist in its moral character; in that natural ex-ing to the reader. If there be less fire and elevapression of kindness and tenderness of heart, which tion than in the strains of some of his contempo gives such a peculiar air of paternal goodness and pa-raries, there is more truth and tenderness than is triarchal simplicity to his writings; and that earnest and intimate sympathy with the objects of his compassion, which assures us at once that he is not making a theatrical display of sensibility, but merely
commonly found along with those qualities, and less getting up either of language or of sentiment than we recollect to have met with in any modern composition.
Murmurs more gently down the deep-worn glen;
The dizzying mill-wheel rests; the anvil's din
Description of a Sabbath morning in the country. The labourer at home. The town mechanic's morning walk; his meditation. The sound of bells. Crowd proceeding to church. Interval before the service begins. Scottish service. English service. Scriptures read. The organ, with the voices of the people. The Sound borne to the sick man's couch: his wish. The worship of God in the solitude of the woods. The shepherd boy among the hills. People seen on the heights returning from church. Contrast of the present times with those immediately preceding the Revolution. The persecution of the Covenanters: A Sabbath conventicle: Cameron: Renwick: Psalms. Night conventicles during storms. A funeral according to the rites of the church of England. A female charac. ter. The suicide. Expostulation. The incurable of an hospital. A prison scene. Debtors. Divine ser vice in the prison hall. Persons under sentence of death. The public guilt of inflicting capital punishments on persons who have been left destitute of religious and moral instruction. Children proceeding to a Sunday-school. The father. The impress. Appeal on the indiscriminate severity of criminal law. Com parative mildness of the Jewish law. The year of jubilee. Description of the commencement of the jubilee. The sound of the trumpets through the land. The bondman and his family returning from their servitude to take possession of their inheritance. Emigrants to the wilds of America. Their Sabbath worship. The whole inhabitants of Highland districts who have emigrated together, still regret their country. Even the blind man regrets the objects with which he had been conAn emigrant's contrast between the tropical climates and Scotland. The boy who had been born on the voyage. Description of a person on a desert island. His Sabbath. His release. Missionary ship. The Pacific ocean. Defence of missionaries. Effects of the conversion of the primitive Christians. Transition to the slave trade. The Sabbath in a slave ship. Appeal to England on the subject of her encouragement to this horrible complication of crimes. Transition to war. Unfortunate issue of the late war-in France-Fills in Switzerland. Apostrophe to TELL. The attempt to resist too late. The treacherous foes already in possession of the passes. Their devastating progress. Desolation. Address to Scotland. Happiness of seclusion from the world. Description of a Sabbath evening in Scotland. Psalmody. An aged man. Description of an industrious female reduced to poverty by old age and disease. Disinterested virtuous conduct to be found chiefly in the lower walks of life. Test of charity in the opulent. Recommendation to the rich to devote a portion of the Sabbath to the duty of visiting the sick. In. vocation to health-to music. The Beguine nuns. Lazarus. The Resurrection. Dawnings of faith-its progress -consummation.
How still the morning of the hallow'd day!
Hail, Sabbath! thee I hail, the poor man's day.
These, mingled with the young, the gay, approach
It is most needed in this vale of tears:
And see the father raise the white-robed babe
The holy man sprinkles with forth-stretch'd hand
Nor would I leave unsung
The people rising, sing, With harp, with harp,
That homage should be paid to the Most High;
"And they brought young children to him that he should touch them; and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much dis. pleased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily, I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them." Mark x. 13-16.
Almost beyond the sound of city chime,
At intervals heard through the breezeless air;
Nor yet less pleasing at the heavenly throne,
With meikle care beneath the lowly roof,
What though the skeptic's scorn hath dared to soil
The upland muirs, where rivers, there but brooks,
Amid the heathery wild, that all around
By Cameron thunder'd, or by Renwick pour'd
Of night, save when the wintry storm raved fierce,
But wood and wild, the mountain and the dale,
Ah me! these youthful bearers robed in white,
With angel tongue pleaded to those who could;
With melancholy ornaments-(the name, The record of her blossoming age)-appears Unveil'd, and on it dust to dust is thrown, The final rite. O! hark that sullen sound! Upon the lower'd bier the shovell'd clay Falls fast, and fills the void.—
But who is he That stands aloof, with haggard, wistful eye, As if he coveted the closing grave? And he does covet it-his wish is death: The dread resolve is fix'd; his own right-hand Is sworn to do the deed: The day of rest No peace, no comfort brings his wo-worn spirit: Self-cursed, the hallow'd dome he dreads to enter; He dares not pray; he dares not sigh a hope; Annihilation is his only heaven. Loathsome the converse of his friends: he shuns The human face; in every careless eye Suspicion of his purpose seems to lurk. Deep piny shades he loves, where no sweet note Is warbled, where the rook unceasing caws: Or far in moors, remote from house or hut, Where animated nature seems extinct. Where e'en the hum of wandering bee ne'er breaks The quiet slumber of the level waste; Where vegetation's traces almost fail, Save where the leafless cannachs wave their tufts Of silky white, or massy oaken trunks Half buried lie, and tell where greenwoods grew,— There on the heathless moss outstretch'd he broods O'er all his ever-changing plans of death: The time, place, means, sweep like a stormy rack, In fleet succession, o'er his clouded soul;The poniard, and the opium draught, that brings Death by degrees, but leaves an awful chasm Between the act and consequence, the flash Sulphureous, fraught with instantaneous death;— The ruin'd tower perch'd on some jutting rock, So high that, 'tween the leap and dash below, The breath might take its flight in midway air,This pleases for a while; but on the brink, Back from the toppling edge his fancy shrinks In horror: sleep at last his breast becalms,He dreams 'tis done; but starting wild awakes, Resigning to despair his dream of joy.
Then hope, faint hope, revives-hope, that despair May to his aid let loose the demon frenzy,
Her heavenward eyes suffused! Those eyes are To lead scared conscience blindfold o'er the brink
But all her loveliness is not yet flown:
She smiled in death, and still her cold, pale face
Cf self-destruction's cataract of blood.
Sentinels were placed on the surrounding hills to Yet he, e'en he, with feeble steps draws near,
give warning of the approach of the military.
Towards the end of Columbus's voyage to the new world, when he was already near, but not in sight of land, the drooping hopes of his mariners (for his own confidence seems to have remained unmoved) were revived by the appearance of birds, at first hovering round the ship, and then alighting on the rigging.
With trembling voice joins in the song of praise.
Or turn thee to that house with studded doors,