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From steep to steep, loud-thundering down they
A wintry waste in dire commotion all; [come,
And herds, and flocks, and travellers, and swains,
And sometimes whole brigades of marching troops,
Or hamlets sleeping in the dead of night,
Are deep beneath the smothering ruin whelm'd.
Now, all amid the rigours of the year,
In the wild depth of Winter, while without
The ceaseless winds blow ice, be my retreat,
Between the groaning forest and the shore
Beat by the boundless multitude of waves,
A rural, shelter'd, solitary, scene;
Where ruddy fire and beaming tapers join,
To cheer the gloom. There studious let me sit,
And hold high converse with the mighty Dead;
Sages of ancient time, as gods reverd,
As gods beneficent, who bless'd mankind
With arts, with arms, and humaniz'd a world.
Rous'd at the inspiring thought, I throw aside
The long-liv'd volume; and, deep-musing, hail
The sacred shades, that slowly-rising pass
Before my wondering eyes. First Socrates,
Who, firmly good in a corrupted state,
Against the rage of tyrants single stood,
Invincible! calm Reason's holy law,
That Voice of God within the attentive mind,
Obeying, fearless, or in life, or death:
Great moral teacher! Wisest of mankind !
Solon the next, who built his common-weal
On equity's wide base ; by tender laws
A lively people curbing, yet undamp'd
Preserving still that quick peculiar fire,
Whence in the laurelld field of finer arts
And of bold freedom, they unequallid shone,
The pride of smiling Greece, and human-kind.
Lycurgus then, who bow'd beneath the force
Of strictest discipline, severely wise,
All human passions. Following him, I see,
As at Thermopylæ he glorious fell,
The firm devoted Chief?, who prov'd by deeds
The hardest lesson which the other taught.
Then Aristides lifts his honest front;
Spotless of heart, to whom the' unflattering voice
Of freedom gave the noblest name of Just;
In pure majestic poverty reverd;
Who, ev'n his glory to his country's weal
Submitting, swell’d a haughty Rival's 3 fame.
Reard by his care, of softer ray appears
Cimon sweet-soul'd; whose genius, rising strong,
Shook off the load of young debauch ;
abroad The scourge of Persian pride, at home the friend Of every
worth and every splendid art; Modest, and simple, in the pomp of wealth. Then the last worthies of declining Greece, Late call’d to glory, in unequal times, Pensive appear. The fair Corinthian boast, Timoleon, happy temper! mild, and firm, Who wept the brother while the tyrant bled. And, equal to the best, the Theban Pair 4, Whose virtues, in heroic concord join, Their country rais’d to freedom, empire, fame. He too, with whom Athenian honour sunk, And left a mass of sordid lees behind, Phocion the Good; in public life severe,
To virtue still ipexorably firm;
But when, beneath his low illustrious roof,
Sweet peace and happy wisdom smooth'd luis brow,
Not friendship.softer was, bor love more kind.
And he, the last of old Lycurgus' sons,
The generous victim to that vain attempt,
To save a rotten state, Agis, who saw
Ev'n Sparta's self to servile avarice sunk,
The two Achaian heroes close the train :
Aratus, who a while relum’d the sonl
Of fondly-lingering liberty in Greece;
And he her darling as her latest hope,
The gallant Philopamen; who to arms
Turn’d the luxurious pomp he could not cure;
Or toiling in his farm, a simple swain ;
Or, bold and skilful, thundering in the field.
Of rougher front, a mighty people come!
A race of heroes ! in those virtuous times
Which knew no stain, save that with partial flame
Their dearest country they too fondly lov’d:
Her better Founder first, the light of Rome,
Numa, who soften'd her rapacious sons :
Servius the king, who laid the solid base
On which o'er earth the vast republic spread,
Then the great consuls venerable rise.
The public Fathers who the private quell'd,
As on the dread tribunal sternly sad.
He, whom his thankless country could not lose,
Camillus, only vengeful to her foes.
Fabricius, scorner of all conquering gold;
And Cinniunatus, awful from the plough,
Thy willing victim', Carthage, bursting loose
From all that pleading Nature could oppose,
From a whole city's tears, by rigid faith
Imperious callid, and honour's dire command,
Scipio, the gentle chief, humanely brave,
Who soon the race of spotless glory ran,
And, warm in youth, to the poetic shade
With Friendship and Philosophy retir'd.
Tully, whose powerful eloquence a while
Restrain’d the rapid fate of rushing Rome.
Unconquer'd Cato, virtuous in extreme:
And thou, unhappy Brutus, kind of heart,
Whose steady arm, by awful virtue urg'd,
Lifted the Roman steel against thy friend.
Thousands besides the tribute of a verse
Demand; but who can count the stars of Heaven?
Who sing their influence on this lower world?
Behold, who yonder comes ! in sober state,
Fair, mild, and strong, as is a verpal sun :
'Tis Phębus' self, or else the Mantuan Swain!
Great Homer too appears, of daring wing,
Parent of song! and equal hy his side,
The British Muse: join'd hand in hand they walk,
Darkling, full up the middle steep to fame,
Nor absent are those shades, whose skilful touch
Pathetic drew the’ impassion'd heart, and charm'd
Transported Athens with the moral scene;
Nor those who, tuneful, wak’d the' enchanting lyre,
First of your kind! society divine ! Still visit thus my nights, for you reservd, And mount my soaring soul to thoughts like yours. Silence, thou lonely power! the door be thine ;
See on the hallow'd hour that none intrude,
Save a few chosen friends, who sometimes deign
To bless my humble roof, with sense refin'd,
Learning digested well, exalted faith,
Unstudied wit, and humour ever gay.
Or from the Muses' hill will Pope descend,
To raise the sacred hour, to bid it smile,
And with the social spirit warm the heart?
For though not sweeter bis own Homer sings,
Yet is his life the more endearing song. [pride,
Where art thou, Hammond ? thou, the darling
The friend and lover of the tuneful throng!
Ah why, dear youth, in all the blooming prime
Of vernal genius, where disclosing fast
Each active worth, each manly virtue lay,
Why wert thou ravish'd from our hope so soon?
What now avails that noble thirst of fame,
Which stung thy fervent breast? that treasurd store
Of knowledge, early gain'd? that eager zeal
To serve thy country, glowing in the band
Of youthful patriots, who sustain her name;
What now, alas! that life-diffusing charm
Of sprightly wit? that rapture for the Mnse,
That heart of friendship, and that soul of joy,
Which bade with softest light thy virtues smile?
Ah! only show'd, to check our fond pursuits,
And teach our humbled hopes that life is vain!
Thus in some deep retirement would I pass The winter-glooms, with friends of pliant soul, Or blithe, or solemn, as the theme inspirod: With them would search, if Nature's boundless frame Was call'd, late-rising from the void of night, Or sprung eternal from the Eternal Mind; Its life, its laws, its progress, and its end.