« AnteriorContinuar »
Near the pavilions where we slept, still ran
Yet the least entrance found they none at all; Whence sweeter grew our sleep, secure in massy hall.
And hither Morpheus sent his kindest dreams,
So fierce with clouds, the pure ethereal space;
Than these same guileful angel-seeming sprights, Who thus in dreams voluptuous, soft, and bland, Poured all the Arabian heaven upon our nights, And blessed them oft besides with more refined delights.
They were, in sooth, a most enchanting train,
To thee belongs the rural reign;
The muses, still with freedom found,
JOHN DYER, a picturesque and moral poet, was a native of Wales, being born at Aberglasslyn, Carmarthenshire, in 1700. His father was a solicitor, and intended his son for the same profession. The latter, however, had a taste for the fine arts, and rambled over his native country, filling his mind with a love of nature, and his portfolio with sketches of her most beautiful and striking objects. The sister art of poetry also claimed his regard, and during his excursions he wrote Grongar Hill, the production on which his fame rests, and where it rests securely. Dyer next made a tour to Italy, to study painting. He does not seem to have excelled his return in 1740, he published another poem, The as an artist, though he was an able sketcher. On Ruins of Rome, in blank verse. One short passage, often quoted, is conceived, as Johnson remarks, 'with the mind of a poet:'
The pilgrim oft
At dead of night, 'mid his orison, hears, Aghast, the voice of time, disparting towers, Tumbling all precipitate down dashed, Rattling around, loud thundering to the moon.
They, till due time should serve, were bid far hence Seeing, probably, that he had little chance of suc
Ye guardian spirits, to whom man is dear, From these foul demons shield the midnight gloom; Angels of fancy and of love be near, And o'er the blank of sleep diffuse a bloom; Evoke the sacred shades of Greece and Rome, And let them virtue with a look impart : But chief, awhile, oh lend us from the tomb Those long-lost friends for whom in love we smart, And fill with pious awe and joy-mixt wo the heart.
When Britain first at Heaven's command, Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sung the strain: Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves! Britons never shall be slaves.
The nations not so blest as thee,
Must in their turn to tyrants fall, Whilst thou shalt flourish great and free, The dread and envy of them all. Rule Britannia, &c.
Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful from each foreign stroke;
Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame;
ceeding as an artist, Dyer entered the church, and obtained successively the livings of Calthrop, in Leicestershire, of Conningsby, in Huntingdonshire, and of Belchford and Kirkby, in Lincolnshire. He published in 1757 his longest poetical work, The Fleece, devoted to
The care of sheep, the labours of the loom. The subject was not a happy one. How can a man write poetically, as was remarked by Johnson, of serges and druggets? One critic asked Dodsley how old the author of The Fleece' was; and learning that he was in advanced life,' He will,' said the critic, be buried in woollen.' The poet did not long survive the publication, for he died next year, on the 24th of July 1758. The poetical pictures of Dyer are happy miniatures of nature, correctly drawn, beautifully coloured, and grouped with the taste of an artist. His moral reflections arise naturally out of his subject, and are never intrusive. All bear evidence of a kind and gentle heart, and a true poetical fancy.
Silent nymph, with curious eye,
Grongar Hill invites my song,
Draw the landscape bright and strong;.
With my hand beneath my head;
While strayed my eyes o'er Towy's flood,.
From house to house, from hill to hill,
About his chequered sides I wind,
Now I gain the mountain's brow,
Old castles on the cliffs arise,
The sturdy oak, with broad-spread boughs..
On which a dark hill, steep and high,
His sides are clothed with waving wood,.
A little rule, a little sway,
A sunbeam in a winter's day,
And see the rivers, how they run
Ever charming, ever new,
The pleasant seat, the ruined tower,
See, on the mountain's southern side,
A step, methinks, may pass the stream,
So we mistake the future's face,
O may I with myself agree,
Be full, ye courts; be great who will;
Seek her on the marble floor:
In vain you search, she is not there;
And often, by the murmuring rill,
**Byron thought the lines here printed in Italics the original of Campbell's far-famed lines at the opening of The Pleasures of Hope:'
• "Tis distance lends enchantment to the view,
WILLIAM HAMILTON of Bangour, a Scottish gentleman of education, rank, and accomplishments, was born of an ancient family in Ayrshire in 1704. He was the delight of the fashionable circles of his native country, and became early distinguished for his poetical talents. In 1745, struck, we may suppose, with the romance of the enterprise, Hamilton joined the standard of Prince Charles, and became the volunteer laureate' of the Jacobites, by celebrating the battle of Gladsmuir. On the discomfiture of the party, Hamilton succeeded in effecting his escape to France; but having many friends and admirers among the royalists at home, a pardon was procured for the rebellious poet, and he was soon restored to his native country and his paternal estate. He did not, however, live long to enjoy his good fortune. His health had always been delicate, and a pulmonary complaint forced him to seek the warmer climate of the continent. He gradually
declined, and died at Lyons in 1754.
Hamilton's first and best strains were dedicated to lyrical poetry. Before he was twenty, he had assisted Allan Ramsay in his 'Tea-Table Miscellany.' In 1748, some person, unknown to him, collected and published his poems in Glasgow; but the first genuine and correct copy did not appear till after the author's death, in 1760, when a collection was made from his own manuscripts. The most attractive feature in his works is his pure English style, and a somewhat ornate poetical diction. He had more fancy than feeling, and in this respect his amatory songs resemble those of the courtier poets of Charles II.'s court. Nor was he more sincere, if we may credit an anecdote related of him by Alexander Tytler in his life of Henry Home, Lord Kames. One of the ladies whom Hamilton annoyed by his perpetual compliments and solicitations, consulted Home how she should get rid of the poet, who she was convinced had no serious object in view. The philosopher advised her to dance with him, and show him every mark of her kindness, as if she had resolved to favour his suit. The lady adopted the counsel, and the success of the experiment was complete. Hamilton wrote a serious poem, entitled Contemplation, and a national one on the Thistle, which is in blank verse:
How oft beneath
Its martial influence have Scotia's sons,
In everlasting blushes seen,
Such Pringle shines, of sprightly mien ;
Others of his amatory strains are full of quaint conceits and exaggerated expressions, without any trace of real passion. His ballad of The Braes of Yarrow is by far the finest of his effusions: it has real nature, tenderness, and pastoral simplicity. As the cause of the composition of Wordsworth's three beautiful poems, Yarrow Unvisited,' 'Yarrow Visited,' and Yarrow Revisited,' it has, moreover, some external importance in the records of British literature. The poet of the lakes has copied some of its lines and images.
The Braes of Yarrow.
A. Busk ye, busk ye, my bonny bonny bride,
B. Where gat ye that bonny bonny bride?
Pouing the birks on the Braes of Yarrow.
Pouing the birks on the Braes of Yarrow.
Pouing the birks on the Braes of Yarrow? 4. Lang maun she weep, lang maun she, maun she
Lang maun she weep with dule and sorrow,
Hung on the bonny birks of Yarrow?
Upon the duleful Braes of Yarrow.
Wash, oh wash his wounds his wounds in tears,
His helpless fate on the Braes of Yarrow.
Did I not warn thee not to lue,
And warn from fight, but to my sorrow; O'er rashly bauld a stronger arm
Thou met'st, and fell on the Braes of Yarrow.
Sweet smells the birk, green grows, green grows the
Flows Yarrow sweet? as sweet, as sweet flows Tweed,
Busk ye, then busk, my bonny bonny bride,
C. How can I busk a bonny bonny bride,
That slew my love on the Braes of Yarrow.
O Yarrow fields! may never never rain,
My love, as he had not been a lover.
The boy put on his robes, his robes of green,
The boy took out his milk-white milk-white steed,
But e'er the to-fall of the night
He lay a corpse on the Braes of Yarrow.
Much I rejoiced that waeful waeful day;
How canst thou, barbarous man, then woo me?
My happy sisters may be may be proud;
May bid me seek on Yarrow Braes
My brother Douglas may upbraid, upbraid,
And strive with threatening words to move me, My lover's blood is on thy spear,
How canst thou ever bid me love thee?
Yes, yes, prepare the bed, the bed of love,
Unbar, ye bridal maids, the door,
Let in the expected husband lover.
Cornes, in his pale shroud, bleeding after?
And crown my careful head with willow.
Pale though thou art, yet best yet best beloved,
4. Return, return, O mournful mournful bride,
Ye shepherds of this pleasant vale,
In my triumphant song.
She grants, she yields; one heavenly smile
One happy minute crowns the pains
Raise, raise the victor notes of joy,
These suffering days are o'er;
No doubtful hopes, no anxious fears,
The sun with double lustre shone
The gales their gentle sighs withheld,
The hovering songsters round were mute,
The hills and dales no more resound
All nature seemed in still repose
The woods struck up to the soft gale,
The feathered choir resumed their voice,
The hills and dales again resound
With all his murmurs Yarrow trilled
Above, beneath, around, all on
Was verdure, beauty, song;
I snatched her to my trembling breast,
Ah, the poor shepherd's mournful fate,
Yet eager looks and dying sighs
While rapture, trembling through mine eyes,
The tender glance, the reddening cheek,
A thousand various ways they speak
For, oh! that form so heavenly fair,
Thy every look, and every grace,
So charm, whene'er I view thee, Till death o'ertake me in the chase, Still will my hopes pursue thee. Then, when my tedious hours are past, Be this last blessing given, Low at thy feet to breathe my last, And die in sight of heaven.
DR SAMUEL JOHNSON.
In massive force of understanding, multifarious knowledge, sagacity, and moral intrepidity, no writer
Dr Samuel Johnson.
of the eighteenth century surpassed DR SAMUEL JOHNSON. His various works, with their sententious morality and high-sounding sonorous periods -his manly character and appearance-his great virtues and strong prejudices-his early and severe struggles, illustrating his own noble verse
Slow rises worth by poverty depressed
his love of argument and society, into which he poured the treasures of a rich and full mind-his wit, repartee, and brow-beating-his rough manners and kind heart-his curious household, in which were congregated the lame, blind, and despised-his very looks, gesticulation, and dress-have all been brought so vividly before us by his biographer, Boswell, that to readers of every class Johnson is as well known as a member of their own family. His heavy form seems still to haunt Fleet Street and the Strand, and he has stamped his memory on the reIn literature his mote islands of the Hebrides. influence has been scarcely less extensive. No prose writer of that day escaped the contagion of his peculiar style. He banished for a long period the naked simplicity of Swift and the idiomatic graces of Addison; he depressed the literature and poetry of imagination, while he elevated that of the understanding; he based criticism on strong sense and solid judgment, not on scholastic subtleties and refinement; and though some of the higher qualities and attributes of genius eluded his grasp and observation, the withering scorn and invective with which he assailed all affected sentimentalism, immorality, and licentiousness, introduced a pure and healthful and invigorating atmosphere into the crowded walks of literature. These are solid and substantial benefits which should weigh down errors of taste or the caprices of a temperament constitutionally prone to melancholy and ill health, and which was little sweetened by prosperity or applause at that period of life when the habits are formed and the manners become permanent. As a man, Johnson was an admirable representative of the Englishman-as an author, his course was singularly pure, high-minded, and independent. He could boast with more truth than Burke, that he had no arts but manly arts." At every step in his progress his passport was talent and virtue; and when the royal countenance and favour were at length extended to him, it was but a ratification by the sovereign of the wishes and opinions entertained by the best and wisest of the nation.
Johnson was born at Lichfield, September 18, 1709. His father was a bookseller, and in circumstances that enabled him to give his son a good education. In his nineteenth year he was placed at Pem
Street Scene in Lichfield, including the birthplace of Johnson (being the under part of the lighted side of the large house