« AnteriorContinuar »
All who have witnessed or felt the inspiriting effects | of fine mountain scenery on invalids, will subscribe to the truth so happily expressed in the concluding | lines of this passage. The blank verse of Armstrong | somewhat resembles that of Cowper in compactmess and vigour, but his imagination was hard and | literal, and wanted the airy expansiveness and tenderness of pure inspiration. It was a high merit, | however, to succeed where nearly all have failed, in blending with a subject so strictly practical and | prosaic, the art and fancy of the poet. Much learning, skill, and knowledge are compressed into his | poem, in illustration of his medical and ethical doc| trines. The whole is divided into four books or | divisions—the first on air, the second on diet, the || third on exercise, and the fourth on the passions. In his first book, Armstrong has penned a ludicrously pompous invective on the climate of Great Britain, 'steeped in continual rains, or with raw fogs bedewed.” He exclaims—
o Our fathers talked
0f summers, balmy airs, and skies serene:
Good Heaven! for what unexpiated crimes
| This dismal changel The brooding elements
| Do they, your powerful ministers of wrath,
Prepare some fierce exterminating plague !
Indulgent nature! 0, dissolve this gloom;
Bind in eternal adamant the winds
| That drown or wither; give the genial west | To breathe, and in its turn the sprightly south,
| And may once more the circling seasons rule The year, not mix in every monstrous day!
What does not fade? The tower that long had stood The crush of thunder and the warring winds, shock by the slow but sure destroyer Time, Now hangs in doubtful ruins o'er its base, And flinty p ids and walls of brass |Descend. The Babylonian spires are sunk; | Achaia, Rome, and Egypt moulder down. | Time shakes the stable tyranny of thrones, | And tottering empires rush by their own weight. | This huge rotundity we tread grows old, | And all those worlds that roll around the sun; | The sun himself shall die, and ancient night Again involve the desolate abyss, Till the great Father, through the lifeless gloom, Extend his arm to light another world, And bid new planets roll by other laws.
[Recommendation of Angling.]
But if the breathless chase o'er hill and dale
[Pestilence of the Fifteenth Century.]
Ere yet the fell Plantagenets had spent
First through the shoulders, or whatever part
At last a heavy pain oppressed the head,
In some a gentle horror crept at first
Withheld their moisture, till by art provoked
Heaven heard them not. Of every hope deprived,
WiLLIAM JULIUS MICKLE.
An admirable translation of “The Lusiad' of Camoens, the most distinguished poet of Portugal, was executed by WILLIAM JULIUs MickLE, himself a poet of taste and fancy, but of no great originality or energy. Mickle was son of the minister of Langholm, in Dumfriesshire, where he was born in 1734. He was engaged in trade in Edinburgh as conductor, and afterwards partner, of a brewery; but he failed in business, and in 1764 went to London, desirous of literary distinction. Lord Lyttelton noticed and encouraged his poetical efforts, and Mickle was buoyed up with dreams of patronage and celebrity. Two years of increasing destitution dispelled this vision, and f.e poet was glad to accept the situation of correcto"f the Clarendon press at Oxford. Here he publish” Pollio, an elegy, and The Concubine, a moral poem in the manner of Spenser, which he afterwards reprinted with the title of Syr Martyn. Mickle adopted the obsolete phraseology of Spenser, which was too antiquated even for the age of the
‘Faery Queen,' and which Thomson had almost wholly discarded in his “Castle of Indolence.’ The first stanza of this poem has been quoted by Sir Walter Scott (divested of its antique spelling) in illustration of a remark made by him, that Mickle, ‘with a vein of great facility, united a power of verbal melody, which might have been envied by bards of much greater renown:'—
Awake, ye west winds, through the lonely dale, And Fancy to thy faery bower betake; Even now, with balmly sweetness, breathes the gale, Dimpling with downy wing the stilly lake; Through the pale willows faltering whispers wake, And Evening comes with locks bedropped with dew; On Desmond's mouldering turrets slowly shake The withered rye-grass and the harebell blue, And ever and anon sweet Mulla's plaints renew.
Sir Walter adds, that Mickle, “being a printer by profession, frequently put his lines into types without taking the trouble previously to put them into writing.” This is mentioned by none of the poet's biographers, and is improbable. The office of a corrector of the press is quite separate from the mechanical operations of the printer. Mickle's poem was highly successful (not the less, perhaps, because it was printed anonymously, and was ascribed to different authors), and it went through three editions. In 1771 he published the first canto of his great translation, which was completed in 1775; and being supported by a long list of subscribers, was highly advantageous both to his fame and fortune. In 1779 he went out to Portugal as secretary to Commodore Johnston, and was received with much distinction in Lisbon by the countrymen of Camoens. On the return of the expedition, Mickle was appointed joint agent for the distribution of the prizes. His own share was considerable; and having received some money by his marriage with a lady whom he had known in his obscure sojourn at Oxford, the latter days of the poet were spent in ease and leisure. He died at Forest Hill, near Oxford, in 1788. The most popular of Mickle's original poems is his ballad of Cumnor Hall, which has attained additional celebrity by its having suggested to Sir Walter Scott the groundwork of his romance of Kenilworth.” The plot is interesting, and the versification easy and musical. Mickle assisted in Evans's Collection of Old Ballads (in which “Cumnor Hall' and other pieces of his first appeared); and though in this style of composition he did not copy the direct simplicity and unsophisticated ardour of the real old ballads, he had much of their tenderness and pathos. A still stronger proof of this is afforded by a Scottish song, the author of which was long unknown, but which seems clearly to have been written by Mickle. An imperfect, altered, and corrected copy was found among his manuscripts after his death; and his widow being applied to, confirmed the external evidence in his favour, by an express declaration that her husband had said the song was his own, and that he had explained to her the Scottish words. It is the fairest flower in his poetical chaplet. The delineation of humble matrimonial happiness and affection which the song presents, is almost unequalled— Sae true his words, sae smooth his speech, His breath like caller airl His very foot has music in't As he comes up the stair.
* Sir Walter intended to have named his romance Cumnor Hall, but was persuaded by Mr Constable, his publisher, to adopt the title of Kenilworth.
Then, Leicester, why, again I plead
Why didst thou wed a country maid,
Why didst thou praise my humble charms,
Why didst thou win me to thy arms,
The village maidens of the plain
Envious they mark my silken train,
The simple nymphs' they little know
To smile for joy, than sigh for wo;
How far less blessed am I than them, Daily to pine and waste with care!
Like the poor plant, that, from its stem Divided, feels the chilling air.
Nor, cruel Earll can I enjo
Your minions proud my peace destroy,
Last night, as sad I chanced to stray, The village death-bell smote my ear;
They winked aside, and seemed to say, “Countess, prepare—thy end is near.”
And now, while happy peasants sleep,
- Thus sore and sad that lady grieved
In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear; And many a heartfelt sigh she heaved, And let fall many a bitter tear.
And ere the dawn of day appeared,
Full many a piercing scream was heard,
The death-bell thrice was heard to ring, An aerial voice was heard to call,
And thrice the raven flapped his wing Around the towers of Cumnor Hall.
The mastiff howled at village door,
Wo was the hour, for never more
And in that manor, now no more
For ever since that dreary hour
The village maids with fearful glance,
Now prosperous gales the bending canvass swelled; From these rude shores our fearless course we held: | Beneath the glistening wave the god of day | Had now five times withdrawn the parting ray, | When o'er the prow a sudden darkness spread, And slowly floating o'er the mast's tall head A black cloud hovered; nor appeared from far | The moon's pale glimpse, nor faintly twinkling star; So deep a gloom the lowering vapour cast, Transfixed with awe the bravest stood aghast. Meanwhile a hollow bursting roar resounds, As when hoarse surges lash their rocky mounds; Nor had the blackening wave, nor frowning heaven, The wonted signs of gathering tempest given. Amazed we stood–0 thou, our fortune's guide, Avert this omen, mighty God, I cried; Qr through forbidden climes adventurous strayed, Have we the secrets of the deep surveyed, Which these wide solitudes of seas and sky Were doomed to hide from man's unhallowed eye? Whate'er this prodigy, it threatens more Than midnight tempest and the mingled roar,
I spoke, when rising through the darkened air, Appalled we saw a hideous phantom glare; High and enormous o'er the flood he towered, And thwart our way with sullen aspect lowered.
When sea and sky combine to rock the marble shore.
Unearthly paleness o'er his cheeks was spread, Erect uprose his hairs of withered red; Writhing to speak, his sable lips disclose, Sharp and disjoined, his gnashing teeth's blue rows; His haggard beard flowed quivering on the wind, Revenge and horror in his mien combined; His clouded front, by withering lightning scared, The inward anguish of his soul declared. His red eyes glowing from their dusky caves Shot livid fires: far echoing o'er the waves His voice resounded, as the caverned shore With hollow groan repeats the tempest's roar. Cold gliding horrors thrilled each hero's breast; Our bristling hair and tottering knees confessed Wild dread; the while with visage ghastly wan, His black lips trembling, thus the Fiend began: “O you, the boldest of the nations, fired By daring pride, by lust of fame inspired, Who, scornful of the bowers of sweet repose, Through these my waves advance your fearless prows, Regardless of the lengthening watery way, And all the storms that own my sovereign sway, i Who 'mid surrounding rocks and shelves explore Where never hero braved my rage before; Ye sons of Lusus, who, with eyes profane, Have viewed the secrets of my awful reign, Have passed the bounds which jealous Nature drew, To veil her secret shrine from mortal view, Hear from my lips what direful woes attend, And bursting soon shall o'er your race descend. With every bounding keel that dares my rage, Eternal war my rocks and storms shall wage; The next proud fleet that through my dear domain, With daring search shall hoist the streaming vane, That gallant navy by my whirlwinds tost, And raging seas, shall perish on my coast. Then He who first my secret reign descried, A naked corse wide floating o'er the tide Shall drive. Unless my heart's full raptures fail, O Lusus ! oft shalt thou thy children wail; Each year thy shipwrecked sons shalt thou deplore, Each year thy sheeted masts shall strew my shore.' * * He spoke, and deep a lengthened sigh he drew, A doleful sound, and vanished from the view; The frightened billows gave a rolling swell, And distant far prolonged the dismal yell; Faint and more faint the howling echoes die, And the black cloud dispersing leaves the sky.
DR JOHN LANGHORNE.
DR John LANGHoRNE, an amiable and excellent clergyman, has long lost the popularity which he possessed in his own day as a poet; but his name nevertheless claims a place in the history of English literature. He was born at Kirkby Steven, in Westmoreland, in 1735, and held the curacy and lectureship of St John's, Clerkenwell, in London. He afterwards obtained a prebend's stall in Wells cathedral, and was much admired as a preacher. He died in 1779. Langhorne wrote various prose works, the most successful of which was his Letters of Theodosius and Constantia; and, in conjunction with his brother, he published a translation of Plutarch's Lives, which still maintains its ground as the best English version of the ancient author. His poetical works were chiefly slight effusions, dictated by the passion or impulse of the moment; but he made an abortive attempt to repel the coarse satire of Churchill, and to walk in the magic circle of the drama. His ballad, Owen of Carron, founded on the old Scottish tale of Gil Morrice, is smoothly versified, but in poetical merit is inferior to the original. The only poem of Langhorne's which has a cast of originality is his Country Justice. Here he seems to have anticipated Crabbe ||
in painting the rural life of England in true colours.
His picture of the gipsies, and his sketches of venal clerks and rapacious overseers, are genuine likenesses. He has not the raciness or the distinctness of Crabbe, but is equally faithful, and as sincerely a friend to humanity. He pleads warmly for the poor vagrant tribe:-
Still mark if vice or nature prompts the deed;
Let age no longer toil with feeble strife, Worn by long service in the war of life; Nor leave the head, that time hath whitened, bare To the rude insults of the searching air; Nor bid the knee, by labour hardened, bend, 0 thou, the poor man's hope, the poor man's friend If, when from heaven severer seasons fall, Fled from the frozen roof and mouldering wall, Each face the picture of a winter day, More strong than Teniers' pencil could portray; If then to thee resort the shivering train, Of cruel days, and cruel man complain, Say to thy heart (remembering him who said), “These people come from far, and have no bread.” Nor leave thy venal clerk empowered to hear; The voice of want is sacred to thy ear. He where no fees his sordid pen invite, Sports with their tears, too indolent to write; Like the fed monkey in the fable, vain. To hear more helpless animals complain. But chief thy notice shall one monster claim; A monster furnished with a human frame— The parish-officers—though verse disdain Terms that deform the splendour of the strain, It stoops to bid thee bend the brow severe
On the sly, pilfering, cruel overseer;
This allusion to the dead soldier and his widow on the field of battle was made the subject of a print by Bunbury, under which were engraved the paSir Walter Scott has mentioned, that the only time he saw Burns, the Scottish poet, this picture was in the room. Burns shed tears over it; and Scott, then a lad of fifteen, was the only person present who could tell him
where the lines were to be found. The passage is beautiful in itself, but this incident will embalm and
[Appeal to Country *:: i. Behalf of the Rural
When the poor hind, with length of years decayed, Leans feebly on his once-subduing spade, Forgot the service of his abler days, His profitable toil, and honest praise, Shall this low wretch abridge his scanty bread, This slave, whose board his former labours spread: When harvest's burning suns and sickening air From labour's unbraced hand the grasped hook tear, Where shall the helpless family be fed, That . languish for a father's bread? See the pale mother, sunk with grief and care, To the proud farmer fearfully repair; Soon to be sent with insolence away, Referred to vestries, and a distant day ! Referred—to perish Is my verse severe : Unfriendly to the human character? Ah! to this sigh of sad experience trust: The truth is rigid, but the tale is just. If in thy courts this caitiff wretch appear, Think not that patience were a virtue here. His low-born o: with honest rage control; Smite his hard heart, and shake his reptile soul. But, hapless! oft through fear of future wo, And certain vengeance of the insulting foe; Oft, ere to thee the poor prefer their prayer, The last extremes of penury they bear. Wouldst thou then raise thy patriot office higher? To something more than magistrate aspire : And, left each poorer, pettier chase behind, Step nobly forth, the friend of human kind 1 The game I start courageously pursue! Adieu to fear ! to insolence adieu ! And first we'll range this mountain's stormy side, Where the rude winds the shepherd's roof deride, As meet no more the wintry blast to bear, And all the wild hostilities of air. That roof have I remembered many a year; It once gave refuge to a hunted deer— Here, in those days, we found an aged pair; But time untenants—ha! what seest thou there? ‘Horror!—by Heaven, extended on a bed Of naked fern, two human creatures dead! Embracing as alive!—ah, no l—no life! Cold, breathless s” 'Tis the shepherd and his wife. I knew the scene, and brought thee to behold What speaks more strongly than the story told— They died through want— “By every power I swear, If the wretch treads the earth, or breathes the air, Through whose default of duty, or design, These victims fell, he dies.” .They fell by thine.
Swear on no pretence : A swearing justice wants both grace and sense.
* Infernal |
[An Advice to the Married.]
Should erring nature casual faults disclose,
Love, like the flower that courts the sun's kind ray,