페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Now stretch'd at ease beside some favourite stream, Of beauty and enchantment will I dream;

Elysium, feats of art, and laurels won,

The Graces three, and * Japhet's fabled son:
Whilst Angelo shall wave the mystic rod,
And see a new creation wait his nod,
Prescribe his bounds to time's remorseless power,
And, to my arms, my absent friends restore,
Place me amidst the group, each well-known face,
The sons of science, lords of human race;
And as oblivion sinks at his command,

Nature shall rise more finish'd from his hand.
Thus some magician, fraught with potent skill,
Transforms and moulds each varied mass at will;
Calls animated forms of wondrous birth,
Cadmean offspring, from the teeming earth;
Uncears the ponderous tombs, the realms of night,
And calls their cold inhabitants to light;
Or, as he traverses a dreary scene,

Bids every sweet of nature there convene,

Huge mountains skirted round with wavy woods, The shrub-deck'd lawns, and silver sprinkled floods, Whilst flow'rets spring around the smiling land, And follow on the traces of his wand.

'Such prospects, lovely Auburn! then, be thine; And what thou canst of bliss impart be mine; Amid thy humble shades, in tranquil ease, Grant me to pass the remnant of my days, Unfettered from the toil of wretched gain, My raptur'd muse shall pour her noblest strain,

Prometheus.

Within her native bowers the notes prolong,
Aud, grateful, meditate her latest song.
Thus, as adown the slope of life I bend,
And move, resign'd, to meet my latter end,
Each worldly wish, each worldly care represt,
A self-approving heart alone possest,

Content, to bounteous Heaven I'll leave the rest.'

Thus spoke the bard: but not one friendly power
With nod assentive crowned the parting hour;
No eastern meteor glared beneath the sky,
No dextral omen; nature heaved a sigh
Prophetic of the dire impending blow,
The presage of her loss, and Britain's woe
Already portioned, unrelenting fate

Had made a pause upon the number'd date;
Behind stood Death, too horrible for sight,
In darkness clad, expectant, prun'd for flight;
Pleas'd at the word, the shapeless monster sped,
On eager message to the humble shed,
Where, wrapt by soft poetic visions round,
Sweet slumbering, fancy's darling son he found.
At his approach the silken pinion'd train
Affrighted, mount aloft, and quit the brain,
Which late they fann'd: now other scenes than
dales

Of woody pride, succeed, or flow'ry vales:
As when a sudden tempest veils the sky,
Before serene, and streaming lightnings fly;
The prospect shifts, and pitchy volumes roll,
Along the drear expanse, from pole to pole;
Terrific horrors all the void invest,

Whilst the archspectre issues forth confest.

The bard beholds him beckon to the tomb
Of yawning night, eternity's dread womb;
In vain attempts to fly, the impassive air
Retards his steps, and yields him to despair;
He feels a gripe that thrills through every vein,
And panting struggles in the fatal chain.
Here paus'd the fell destroyer to survey
The pride, the boast of man, his destined prey;
Prepared to strike, he poised aloft the dart,
And plunged the steel in virtue's bleeding heart;
Abhorrent, back the springs of life rebound,
And leave on nature's face a grisly wound.
A wound enrolled among Britannia's woes,
That
ages yet to follow cannot close.

Oh, Goldsmith! how shall sorrow now essay
To murmur out her slow incondite lay?
In what sad accents mourn the luckless hour,
That yielded thee to unrelenting power;
Thee, the proud boast of all the tuneful train
That sweep the lyre, or swell the polished strain?
Much honoured bard! if my untutored verse
Could pay a tribute worthy of thy hearse,
With fearless hands I'd build the fane of praise,
And boldly strew the never fading bays.
But, ah! with thee my guardian genius fled,
And pillowed in thy tomb his silent head:
Pain'd memory alone behind remains,
And pensive stalks the solitary plains.
Rich in her sorrows, honours without art,
She pays in tears, redundant from the heart.
And say, what boots it o'er thy hallow'd dust
To heap the graven pile, or laurel'd bust;

Since by thy hands already rais'd on high,

We see a fabric tow'ring to the sky;

Where, hand in hand with time, the sacred lore Shall travel on, till nature is no more?

ESSAY S.

INTRODUCTION.

THERE is not, perhaps, a more whimsical figure in nature, than a man of real modesty who assumes an air of impudence; who, while his heart beats with anxiety, studies ease and affects good humour. In this situation, however, every unexperienced writer, as I am, finds himself. Impressed with terrors of the tribunal before which he is going to appear, his natural humour turns to pertness, and for real wit he is obliged to substitute vivacity.

For my part, as I was never distinguished for address, and have often even blundered in making my bow, I am at a loss whether to be merry or sad on this solemn occasion. Should I modestly decline all merit, it is too probable the hasty reader may take me at my word. If, on the other hand, like labourers in the magazine trade, I humbly presume to promise an epitome of all the good things that were ever said or written, those readers I most desire to please may forsake me.

My bookseller, in this dilemma, perceiving my embarrassment, instantly offered his assistance and advice. You must know, sir,' says he, that the republic of leters is at present, divided into several

B

« 이전계속 »