Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

It was approved by the critics as much as read and applauded, and thus seemed to combine the applause of contemporaries with the suffrages of the representatives of posterity.”

In 1798, Rogers published his “ Epistle to a Friend, with other Poems,” but did not come forward again as a poet till 1812, when he added to a collected edition of his works his somewhat irregular poem of “The Vision of Columbus.". Two years after, in company with Lord Byron's “Lara," appeared his tale of "Jacqueline," which, though well received, contributed but little to his reputation ; and, in 1819, he published his “Human Life,” which, next to his “Pleasures of Memory,” is our author's most finished production. The subject was a good one, for it was drawn from universal nature, and connected with all those rich associations which increase in attraction as we journey onward in the path of life. It is an epitome of man from the cradle to the grave, and is executed throughout with the poet's wonted care.

In 1822 was published his first part of “ Italy," which was soon after completed, and has since been published in the most splendid style, illustrated by numerous engravings. This is his last and longest, but not his best performance, though there are certainly many beautifully descriptive passages in it-delightful glimpses of Italian life and scenery, and old traditions ; for the poet was an accomplished traveller, a lover of the fair and good, and a worshipper of the classic glories of the past. But it is chiefly as the author of the “Pleasures of Memory? that he will be known to posterity, though, at the same time, some of his minor poems are among the most pure and exquisite fragments of verse which the poets of this age have produced. In all his works, however, there is everywhere seen a classic and graceful beauty ; no slovenly or obscure lines; fine cabinet pictures of soft and mellow lustre; and occasional trains of thought and association that awaken or recall tender and heroic feelings. His diction is clear and polishedfinished with great care and scrupulous nicety; but it must be admitted that he has no forcible or original invention, no deep pathos that thrills the soul, and no kindling energy that fires the imagination.2

In society, few mon are said to be more agreeable in manners and conversation than the venerable subject of this memoir. “ He has been enabled to cultivato his favorite tastes, to enrich his house in St. James's Park with some of the finest and rarest pictures, husts, books, and gems, and to entertain his friends with a generous and unostentatious hospitality. His conversation is rich and various,

1 " The poet looks on man, and teaches us to look on him not merely with love, but with reverence; and, mingling a sort of considerate pity for the shortness of his busy, little career, and for the disappointments and weaknesses with which it is heset, with a genuine admiration of the great capacities he unfolds, and the high destiny to which he seems to be reserved,

works out a gutiful painuth of the affecting this lid van

abounding in wit, eloquence, shrewd observation, and interesting personal anecdote. He has been familiar with almost every distinguished author, orator, and artist for the last fifty years. His benevolence is equal to his taste; his bounty soothed and relieved the death-bed of Sheridan, and is now exerted to a large extent, annually, in behalf of suffering or unfriended talent." ;

EARLY RECOLLECTIONS.
Twilight's soft dews steal o'er the village green,
With magic tints to harmonize the scene;
Still'd is the hum that through the hamlet broke,
When round the ruins of their ancient oak
The peasants flock'd to hear the minstrel play,
And games and carols closed the busy day.
Her wheel at rest, the matron thrills no more
With treasured tales and legendary lore.
All, all are fled; nor mirth nor music flows
To chase the dreams of innocent repose.
All, all are fled! yet still I linger here!
What secret charms this silent spot endear!

Mark yon old mansion, frowning through the trees,
Whose hollow turret woos the whistling breeze.
That casement, arch'd with ivy's brownest shade,
First to these eyes the light of heaven convey'd.
The mouldering gateway strews the grass-grown court,
Once the calm scene of many a simple sport,
When nature pleased, for life itself was new,
And the heart promised what the fancy drew.

*

Childhood's loved group revisits every scene,
The tangled wood-walk and the tufted green !
Indulgent Memory wakes, and lo, they live!
Clothed with far softer hues than Light can give;
Thou first, best friend that Heaven assigns below
To soothe and sweeten all the cares we know;
Whose glad suggestions still each vain alarm,
When nature fades and life forgets to charm;
Thee would the Muse invoke !--to thee belong
The sage's precept and the poet's song.
What soften’d views thy magic glass reveals,
When o'er the landscape Time's meek twilight steals !
As when in ocean sinks the orb of day,
Long on the wave reflected lustres play;
Thy temper'd gleams of happiness resign'd
Glance on the darken’d mirror of the mind.
The school's lone porch, with reverend mosses gray,
Just tells the pensive pilgrim where it lay.
Mute is the bell that rung at peep of dawn,
Quickening my truant feet across the lawn;
Unheard the shout that rent the noontide air,
When the slow dial gave a pause to care.

1 " Chambers' Cyclopædia."

Up springs, at every step, to claim a tear,
Some little friendship form’d and cherish'd here,
And not the lightest leaf but trembling teems
With golden visions and romantic dreams!

Pleasures of Memory,

HISTORIC ASSOCIATIONS.

Thus kindred objects kindred thoughts inspire,
As summer clouds fash forth electric fire.
And hence this spot gives back the joys of youth,
Warm as the life, and with the mirror's truth.
Hence homefelt pleasure prompts the patriot's sigh;
This makes him wish to live and dare to die.
For this young Foscari,' whose hapless fate
Venice should blush to hear the Muse relate,
When exile wore his blooming years away,
To sorrow's long soliloquies a prey,
When reason, justice vainly urged his cause,
For this he roused her sanguinary laws;
Glad to return, though hope could grant no more,
And chains and torture hail'd him to the shore.

And hence the charms historic scenes impart;'
Hence Tiber awes and Avon melts the heart.
Aërial forms in Tempe's classic vale
Glance through the gloom and whisper in the gale;
In wild Vaucluse with love and Laura dwell,
And watch and weep in Eloisa's cell.
'Twas ever thus. As now at Virgil's tomb
We bless the shade and bid the verdure bloom:
So Tully paused, amid the wrecks of Time,3
On the rude stone to trace the truth gublime ;
When at his feet, in honor'd dust disclosed,
The immortal sage of Syracuse reposed.
And as he long in sweet delusion hung,
Where once a Plato taught, a Pindar sung,
Who now but meets him musing when he roves
His ruin'd Tusculan's romantic groves ?
In Rome's great forum, who but hears him roll
His moral thunders o'er the subject soul?

· He was suspected of murder, and, at Venice, suspicion is good evidence. Neither the interest of the Doge, his father, nor the intrepidity of conscious innocence, which he exhibited in the dungeon and on the rack, could procure his acquittal. Ile was banished to the island of Candia for life. But here his resolution failed him. At such a distance from home he

And hence that calm delight the portrait gives :
We gaze on every feature till it lives!
Still the fond lover sees the absent maid ;
And the lost friend still lingers in his shade!
Say why the pensive widow loves to weep,
When on her knee she rocks her babe to sleep:
Tremblingly still, she lifts his vail to trace
The father's features in his infant face.
The hoary grandsire smiles the hour away
Won by the raptures of a game at play;
He bends to meet each artless burst of joy,
Forgets his age, and acts again the boy.

What though the iron school of War erase
Each milder virtue and each softer grace;
What though the fiend's torpedo-touch arrest
Each gentler, finer impulse of the breast;
Still shall this active principle preside,
And wake the tear to Pity's self denied.

The intrepid Swiss, who guards a forcign shore,
Condemn’d to climb his mountain-cliffs no more,
If chance he hears the song so sweetly wild
Which on those clitfs his infant hours beguiled,
Melts at the long-lost scenes that round him rise,
And sinks a martyr to repentant sighs.

Ask not if courts or camps dissolve the charm :
Say why Vespasian' loved his Sabine farm?
Why great Navarre, when France and Freedom bled,
Sought the lone limits of a forest-shed ?
When Diocletian's self-corrected mind'
The imperial fasces of a world resign'd,
Say why we trace the labors of his spade,
In calm Salona's philosophic shade?
Say, when contentious Charles renounced a throne,
To muse with monks unletter'd and unknown,
What from his soul the parting tribute drew?
What claim'd the sorrows of a last adieu ?
The still retreats that soothed his tranquil breast
Ere grandeur dazzled and its cares oppress’d.

4

The same.

! Vespasian, according to Suetonius, constantly passed his summers in a small villa near Reate, where he was born, and to which he would never add any embellishment.

? " That amiable and accomplished monarch, Henry the Fourth of France, made an excursion from his camp, during the long siege of Laon, to dine at a house in the forest of Folambray, where he had often been regaled, when a boy, with fruit, milk, and new cheese, and in THE POWER OF MEMORY.

revisiting which he is himself togs

Yry D

Sweet Memory, wafted by thy gentle gale,
Oft up the stream of Time I turn my sail,
To view the fairy haunts of long-lost hours,
Blest with far greener shades, far fresher flowers.

Ages and climes remote to thee impart
What charms in Genius and refines in Art;
Thee, in whose hand the keys of Science dwell,
The pensive portress of her holy cell;
Whose constant vigils chase the chilling damp
Oblivion steals upon her vestal-lamp.

The friends of Reason and the guides of Youth,
Whose language breathed the eloquence of Truth;
Whose life, beyond preceptive wisdom, taught
The great in conduct and the pure in thought;
These still exist' by thee to Fame consign'd,
Still speak and act, the models of mankind.

From thee, sweet Hope, her airy coloring draws;
And Fancy's flights are subject to thy laws.
From thee that bosom-spring of rapture flows,
Which only Virtue, tranquil Virtue, knows.

When Joy's bright sun has shed his evening ray,
And Hope's delusive meteors cease to play ;
When clouds on clouds the smiling prospect close,
Still through the gloom thy star serenely glows;
Like yon fair orb, she gilds the brow of night
With the mild magic of reflected light.

The beauteous maid who bids the world adieu,
Oft of that world will snatch a fond review;
Oft at the shrine neglect her beads to trace
Some social scene, some dear familiar face;
And ere, with iron tongue, the vesper-bell
Bursts through the cypress-walk, the convent-cell,
Oft will her warm and wayward heart revive,
To love and joy still tremblingly alive ;
The whisper'd vow, the chaste caress prolong,
Weave the light dance and swell the choral song;
With rapt ear drink the enchanting serenade,
And, as it melts along the moonlight glade,
To each soft note return as soft a sigh,
And bless the youth that bids her slumbers fly.

1 There is a future existence even in this world, an existence in the hearts and minds of those who shall live after us, It is in reserve for every man, however obscure; and his portion, if he be diligent, must be equal to bis desires. For in whose remembrance can we wish to hold a place but such as know and are known by us? These are within the sphere of our influence, and among these and their descendants we may live evermore.

It is a state of rewards and punishment; and, like that revealed to us in the gospel, has

« AnteriorContinuar »