Imagens da página

tainly a youth of remarkable powers, although pairts' rather than high genius seems to express his calibre. He can hardly be said to sing, and he never soars. His best poems, such as The Farmer's Ingle,' are just lively daguerreotypes of the life he saw around him --there is nothing ideal or lofty in any of them. His ' Ingle-bleeze' burns low compared to that which in The Cottar's Saturday Night' springs up aloft to heaven, like the tongue of an altar-fire. He stuffs his poems, too, with Scotch to a degree which renders them too rich for even a Scotchman's taste, and as repulsive as a haggis to that of an Englishman. On the whole, Fergusson's best claim to fame arises from the influence he exerted on the far higher genius of Burns, who seems, strangely enough, to have preferred him to Allan Ramsay."-Gilfillan's “Less-known Brit. Poets," vol. iii. pp. 206-8. See Allibone's " Crit. Dict. Eng. Lit."

and after residing some months in his house, he left it in disgust, and with a few shillings in his pocket proceeded southwards. He travelled on foot, and such was the effect of his vexation and fatigue, that when he reached his mother's house he fell into a severe fit of illness.

“ He became, on his recovery, a copyingclerk in a solicitor's, and afterwards in a sheriff-clerk's office, and began to contribute to Raddiman's Weekly Magazine.' We remember in boyhood reading some odd volumes

of this production, the general matter in which I was inconceivably poor, relieved only by Fer.

gusson's raoy little Scottish poems. His evenings were spent chiefly in the tavern, amidst the gay and dissipated youth of the metropolis, to whom he was the 'wit, songster, and mimic.' That his convivial powers were extraordinary, is proved by the fact of one of his contemporaries, who survived to be a correspondent of Burns, doubting if even he equalled the fascination of Fergusson's converse. Dissipation gradually stole in upon him, in spite of resolutions dictated by remorse. In 1773, he collected his poems into à volume, which was warmly received, but brought him, it is believed, little pecuniary benefit. At last, under the pressure of poverty, toil, and intemperance, his reason gave way, and he was by a stratagem removed to an asylum. Here, when he found himself and became aware of his situation, he uttered a diemal shriek, and cast a wild and startled look around his cell. The history of his confinement was very similar to that of Nat Lee and Christopher Smart. For instance, a story is told of him which is an exact duplicate of one recorded of Lee. He was writing by the light of the moon, when a thin cloud crossed its disc. "Jupiter, snuff the moon!' roared the impatient poet.

The cloud thickened, and entirely darkened the light. Thou stupid god!' he exclaimed, *thou hast snuffed it out. By and by he became calmer, and had some affecting interviews with his mother and sister. A removal to his mother's house was even contemplated, but his constitution was exhausted, and on the 16th of October, 1774, poor Fergusson breathed his last. It is interesting to know that the New Testament was his favourite companion in his cell. A little after his death arrived a letter from an old friend, a Mr. Burnet, who had made a fortune in the East Indies, wishing him to come out to India, and enclosing a remittance of £100 to defray the expenses of the journey.

* Thus, in his twenty-fourth year, perished Robert Fergusson.

He was buried in the Canongate churchyard, where Burns afterwards erected a monument to his memory, with an inscription which is familiar to most of our readers.

* Burns in one of his poems attributes to Fergusson 'glorious pairts.? He was cer

EDWARD THOMPSON. “Edward Thompson, born 1738, died 1786, was a native of Hull, and went to sea so early in life as to be precluded from the advantages of a liberal education. At the age of nineteen, he acted as lieutenant on board the Jason, in the engagement off Ushant, between Hawke and Conflans. Coming to London, after the peace, he resided, for some time, in Kew-lane, where he wrote some light pieces for the stage, and some licentious poems, the titles of which need not be revived. At the breaking out of the American war, Garrick's interest obtained promotion for him in his own profession;

and he was appointed to the command of the Hyæna frigate, and made his fortune by the single capture of a French East India

He was afterwards in Rodney's action off Cape St. Vincent, and brought home the tidings of the victory. His death was occasioned by a fever, which he caught on board the Grampus, while he commanded that vessel, off the coast of Africa. Though a dissolute man, he had the character of an able and humane commander. A few of his sea songs are entitled to remembrance."Campbell's “ Specimens."


HENRY HEADLEY. "Henry Headley, born 1766, died 1788, whose uncommon talents were lost to the world at the age of twenty-two, was born as Irstead, in Norfolk. He received his education at the grammar school of Norwich, under Dr. Parr; and at the age of sixteen was admitted a member of Trinity College, Oxford. There the example of Thomas Warton, the senior of his college, led him to explore the beauties of our elder poets. About the age of

twenty he published some pieces of verse, 1751, Lord Lyttelton, in concert with Dodsley, which exhibit no very remarkable promise ; projected the paper of the World,' of which but his "Select Beauties of the Ancient it was agreed that Moore should enjoy the English Poets, which appeared in the follow profits, whether the numbers were written by ing year, were accompanied with critical himself or by volunteer contributors. Lyttelobservations, that showed an unparalleled ton's interest soon enlisted many accomplished ripeness of mind for his years. On leaving coadjutors, such as Cambridge, Jenyns, Lord the university, after a residence of four years, Chesterfield, and H. Walpole. Moore himself he married, and retired to Matlock, in Derby. wrote sixty-one of the papers. In the last shire.

His matrimonial choice is said to number of the World'the conclusion is made have been hastily formed, amidst the anguish to depend on a fictitious incident which had of disappointment in a previous attachment. occasioned the death of the author. When the But short as his life was, he survived the lady papers were collected into volumes, Moore, who whom he married.

superintended the publication, realized this “ The symptoms of consumption having | jocular fiction by his own death, whilst the last appeared in his constitution, he was advised number was in the press." Campbell's to try the benefit of a warmer climate ; and “Specimens.” he took the resolution of repairing to Lisbon, unattended by a single friend. On landing at Lisbon, far from feeling any relief from the

THOMAS RUSSELL. climate, he found himself oppressed by its sultriness; and in this forlorn state, was on

“Thomas Russell, born 1762, died 1788, the point of expiring, when Mr. De Vismes, to was the son of an attorney at Bridport, and whom he had received a letter of introduction one of Joseph Warton's wonderful boys at from the late Mr. Windham conveyed him to

Winchester School. He became fellow of his healthful villa, near Cintra, allotted spa

New College, Oxford, and died of consumption cious apartments for his use, procured for him

at Bristol Hot-Wells in his twenty-sixth the ablest medical assistance, and treated year. him with every kindness and amusement that " His poems were posthumous. The sonnet could console his sickly existence. But his

on Philoctetes is very fine ; and of our young malady proved incurable; and, returning to

writers, mature rather in genius than in England at the end of a few months, he years, Russell holds no humble place. Mr. expired at Norwich."-Campbell's “Speci. Southey has numbered five, and Russell is mens.” See Allibone's “ Crit. Dict. Eng.

among them-Chatterton, Bruce, Russell, Lit."

Bampfylde, and Kirke White."--Campbell's * Specimens."

[ocr errors]


EARL NUGENT. “Edward Moore, born 1712, died 1757, was the son of a dissenting clergyman at Abingdon, “Robert Craggs, afterwards created Lord in Berkshire, and was bred to the business of Nugent, was an Irishman, a younger son of a linendraper, which he pursued, however, Michael Nugent, by the daughter of Robert, both in London and Ireland, with so little Lord Trimlestown, and born in 1709. He success, that he embraced the literary life was, in 1741, elected M.P. for St. Mawes, in (according to his own account) more from Cornwall, and became, in 1747, comptroller to necessity than inclination. His Fables' (in the Prince of Wales' household. He after1744) first brought him into notice. The wards made peace with the Court, and reRight Honourable Mr. Pelham was one of his ceived various promotions and marks of favour earliest friends; and his Trial of Selim' besides the peerage. In 1739, he published gained him the friendship of Lord Lyttelton. anonymously a volume of poems possessing Of three works which he produced for the considerable merit. He was converted from stage, his two comedies, the 'Foundling' and Popery, and wrote some vigorous verses on "Gil Blas,' were unsuccessful; but he was the occasion. Unfortunately, however, he fully indemnified by the profits and reputation relapsed, and again celebrated the event in a of the Gamester.' Moore himself acknow very weak poem, entitled “Faith.' He died ledges that he owed to Garrick many popular in 1788. Although a man of decided talent, passages of his drama; and Davies, the as his . Ode to Mankind' proves, Nugent does biographer of Garrick, ascribes to the great not stand very high either in the catalogue of actor the whole scene between Lewson and Irish patriots or of royal and noble authors.' Stukely, in the fourth act; but Davies's --Gilfillan's "Less-known Brit. Poets,” vol. authority is not oracular. About the year iii. p. 261. See Campbeli's “Specimens.”


From 1727 to 1780.

840.-REMORSE. Is chance a guilt, that my disastrous

heart, For mischief never meant, must ever smart? Can self-defence be sin ? Ah, plead no more ! What though no purposed malice stained thee

o'er? Had heaven befriended thy unhappy side, Thou hadst not been provoked-or thou hadst

died. Far be the guilt of homeshed blood from

All I was wretched by to you I owed ;
Alone from strangers every comfort flowed !

Lost to the life you gave, your son no more,
And now adopted, who was doomed before,
New born, I may a nobler mother claim,
But dare not whisper her immortal name;
Supremely lovely, and serenely great,
Majestic mother of a kneeling state;
Queen of people's heart, who ne'er before
Agreed-yet now with one consent adore !
One contest yet remains in this desire,
Who most shall give applause where all

admire. Richard Savage.--Born 1698, Died 1743.

On whom, insought, embroiling dangers fall!
Still the pale dead revives, and lives to me,
To me! through Pity's eye condemned to see.
Remembrance veils his rage, but swells his


Grieved I forgive; and am grown cool too

late. Yonng and unthoughtful then; who knows,

one day, What ripening virtues might have made their

way! He might have lived till folly died in shame, Til kindling wisdom felt a thirst for fame. He might perhaps his country's friend have

proved; Both happy, generous, candid, and beloved ; He might have saved some worth, now doomed

to fall, And I, perchance, in him, have murdered all.

O fate of late repentance! always vain : Thy remedies but lull undying pain. Where shall my hope find rest? No mother's Shielded my infant innocence with prayer : No father's guardian hand my youth main

tained, Called forth my virtues, or from vice re

strained ; Is it not thine to snatch some powerful arm, First to advance, then screen from future

harm? Am I returned from death to live in pain ? Or would imperial pity save in vain ? Distrust it not. What blame can mercy find, Which gives at once a life, and rears a mindé

Mother, miscalled, farewell—of sonl severe, This sad reflexion yet may force one teor :

841.—THE WANDERER. Yon mansion, made by beaming tapers gay, Drowns the dim night, and counterfeits the

day; From lumined windows glancing on the eye, Around, athwart, the frisking shadows fly. There midnight riot spreads illusive joys, And fortune, health, and dearer time destroys. Soon death's dark agent to luxuriant'ease Shall wake sharp warnings in some fierce

disease. O man! thy fabric 's like a well-formed

state ; Thy thoughts, first ranked, were sure designed

the great ; Passions plebeians are, which faction raise ; Wine, like poured oil, excites the raging

blaze; Then giddy anarchy's rude triumphs rise : Then sovereign Reason from her empire flies : That ruler once deposed, wisdom and wit, To noise and folly place and power submit; Like a frail bark thy weakened mind is tost, Unsteered, unbalanced, till its wealth is lost.

The miser-spirit eyes the spendthrift heir, And mourns, too late, effects of sordid care. His treasures fly to cloy each fawning slave, Yet grudge a stone to dignify his grave. For this, low-thoughted craft his life em

ployed ; For this, though wealthy, he no wealth




For this, he griped the poor, and alms These travellers meet.—-Thy succours ] denied,

implore, Unfriended lived, and unlamented died.

Eternal king! whose potent arm sustains Yet smile, grieved shade! when that unpro The keys of hell and death. --The Gravesperous store

dread thing! Fast lessens, when gay hours return no Men shiver when thou'rt named: Nature,

appallid, Smile at thy heir, beholding, in his fall, Shakes off her wonted firmness.--Ah! how Men once obliged, like him, ungrateful all!

dark Then thought-inspiring woe his heart shall Thy long-extended realms, and rueful wastes ! mend,

Where nought but silence reigns, and night, And prove his only wise, unflattering friend. dark night, Folly exhibits thus unmanly sport,

Dark as was chaos, ere the infant sun While plotting mischief keeps reserved her Was rollid together, or had tried his beams court.

Athwart the gloom profound.—The sickly Lo! from that mount, in blasting sulphur taper, broke,

By glimm’ring through thy low-brow'd misty Stream flames voluminous, enwrapped with vaults smoke!

(Furr'd round with mouldy damps, and ropy In chariot-shape they whirl up yonder tower, slime), Lean on its brow, and like destruction lower! Lets fall a supernumerary horror, From the black depth a fiery legion springs ; And only serves to make thy night more Each bold bad spectre claps her sounding irksome. wings :

Well do I know thee by thy trusty yew, And straight beneath a summoned, traitorous Cheerless, unsocial plant ! that loves to dwell band,

'Midst skulls and coffins, epitaphs and On horror bent, in dark convention stand:

worms: From each fiend's mouth a ruddy vapour Where light-heel'd ghosts, and visionary flows,

shades, Glides through the roof, and o'er the council Beneath the wan cold moon (as fame reports) glows :

Embodied, thick, perform their mystic rounds. The villains, close beneath the infection pent, No other merriment, dull tree, is thine. Feel, all possessed, their rising galls ferment; See yonder hallow'd fane ;-the pious work And burn with faction, hate, and vengeful Of names once famed, now dubious or forgot, ire,

And buried 'midst the wreck of things which For rapine, blood, and devastation dire !

were; But justice marks their ways: she waves in There lie interr'd the more illustrious dead. air

The wind is up : hark ! how it howls! MeThe sword, high-threatening, like a comet's thinks glare.

Till now I never heard a sound so dreary : While here dark villany herself deceives, Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's There studious honesty our view relieves.

foul bird, A feeble taper from yon lonesome room, Rook'd in the spire, screams loud : the gloomy Scattering thin rays, just glimmers through aisles the gloom.

Black plaster'd, and hung round with shreds There sits the sapient bard in museful mood, of 'scutcheons And glows impassioned for his country's And tatter'd coats of arms, send back the good!

sound All the bright spirits of the just combined, Laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults, Inform, refine, and prompt his towering The mansions of the dead. -Roused from mind!

their slumbers,
Richard Savage.Born 1698, Died 1743. In grim array the grisly spectres rise,

Grin horrible, and, obstinately sullen,
Pass and repass, hush'd as the foot of Night.
Again the screech-owl shrieks : ungracious

sound !

I'll hear no more; it makes one's blood run

chill. Whilst some affect the sun, and some the Quite round the pile, a row of reverend shade,

elms Some flee the city, some the hermitage ; (Coeval near with that) all ragged show, Their aims as various, as the roads they take Long lash'd by the rude winds. Some rift In journeying through life ;-the task be half down mine

Their branchless trunks; others so thin a-top, To paint the gloomy horrors of the tomb; That scarce two crows could lodge in the Th' appointed place of rendezvous, where all same tree.

Assumed a dye more deep; whilst every

flower Vied with its fellow plant in luxury Of dress—Oh! then, the longest summer's

day Seem'd too, too much in haste : still the full

heart Had not imparted half : 'twas happiness Too exquisite to last. Of joys departed, Not to return, how painful the remembrance !

Robert Blair.- Born 1699, Died 1746.

Strange things, the neighbours say, have

happen'd here : Wild shrieks have issued from the hollow

tombs : Dead men have come again, and walk'd

about ; And the great bell has toll’d, unrung, un

touch'd, (Such tales their cheer at wake or gossiping, When it draws near to witching time of

night.) Oft, in the lone churchyard at night I've

seen, By glimpse of moonshine chequering through

the trees, The schoolboy, with his satchel in his hand, Whistling aloud to bear his courage up, And lightly tripping o'er the long flat stones (With nettles skirted, and with moss o'er

grown), That tell in homely phrase who lie below, Sudden he starts, and hears, or thinks he

hears, The sound of something purring at his heels ; Full fast he flies, and dares not look behind

him, Till out of breath he overtakes his fellows : Who gather round, and wonder at the tale Of horrid apparition, tall and ghastly, That walks at dead of night, or takes his

stand O'er some new-open'd grave; and (strange to

tell!) Evanishes at crowing of the cock.

Robert Blair.-Born 1699, Died 1746.

844.—THE MISER. Here the lank-sided miser, worst of felons, Who meanly stole (discreditable shift !) From back, and belly too, their proper cheer, Eased of a tax it irk'd the wretch to pay To his own carcase, now lies cheaply lodged, By clamorous appetites no longer teased, Nor tedious bills of charges and repairs. But, ah! where are his rents, his comings.

in ? Ay! now you've made the rich man poor

indeed ; Robb'd of his gods, what has he left behind ? O cursed lust of gold! when for thy sake The fool throws up his interest in both

worlds; First starved in this, then damn'd in that to come.

Robert Blair.-Born 1699, Died 1746.

843.-FRIENDSHIP. Invidious grave!-how dost thou rend in

sunder Whom love has knit, and sympathy made

one! A tie more stubborn far than nature's band. Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul ; Sweetener of life, and solder of society, I owe thee much. Thou hast deserved from

me Far, far beyond what I can ever pay. Oft have I proved the labours of thy love, And the warm efforts of the gentle heart, Anxious to please.-Oh! when my friend

and I In some thick wood have wander'd heedless

on, Hid from the vulgar eye, and sat us down Upon the sloping cowslip-cover'd bank, Where the pure limpid stream has slid along In grateful errors through the underwood, Sweet murmuring: methought the shrill.

tongued thrush Mended his song of love ; the sooty blackbird Mellow'd his pipe, and soften'd every note : The eglantine smell’d sweeter, and the rose

845.-UNPREPARED FOR DEATH. How_shocking must thy summons be, O

Death! To him that is at ease in his possessions ; Who, counting on long years of pleasure

here, Is quite unfurnish'd for that world to come! In that dread moment, how the frantic soul Raves round the walls of her clay tenement, Runs to each avenue, and shrieks for help, But shrieks in vain !-How wishfully she

looks On all she's leaving, now no longer hers! A little longer, yet a little longer, Oh! might she stay, to wash away her

stains, And fit her for her passage. - Mournful

sight! Her very eyes weep blood ;--and every groan She heaves is big with horror ; but the foe, Like a staunch murderer, steady to his

purpose, Pursues her close through every lane of life, Nor misses once the track, but presses on ; Till, forced at last to the tremendousverge, At once she sinks to everlasting ruin.

Robert Blair.-Born 1699, Died 1746.

« AnteriorContinuar »