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NOTES. 1-7. Compare Shelley throughout; and 45. Through every vein. 'In 1786, the in particular:

year after these lines were written, I

grow weary to behold England was employing 130 ships, The selfish and the strong still tyran- which carried 42,000 slaves ; but in nise.'

the following year the Society for 16. Intersected, usually, cut or crossed the Suppression of the Slave-trade

each by other; here, cut between, was instituted, and the question was or asunder (Lat. intersectum). opened in Parliament.

In April 34. Prized above all price. Cowper's 1791, Wilberforce made a direct

intense passion for liberty constantly motion for abolition, which was lost recurs throughout his poems. In by 88 to 83. Lord Grenville and April 1792, he addressed a sonnet Fox took up the question as Ministo William Wilberforce, in strong ters in 1806, and the slave-trade was approval of his exertions for the abolished in 1807' (Globe edition of abolition of slavery.

Cowper). Negro slavery continued 37–42. Lord Mansfield decided in 1772 in the English colonies down to

(13 years before the publication of August 1833, when it was abolished The Task) that a slave, on landing at the cost of twenty millions paid in England, thereby becomes free. in compensation to the planters.

245

250

EVENING.

(From The Task, Book IV.)
Come, Evening, once again, season of peace ;
Return, sweet Evening, and continue long !
Methinks I see thee in the streaky west,
With matron step slow moving, while the Night
Treads on thy sweeping train ; one hand employed
In letting fall the curtain of repose
On bird and beast, the other charged for man
With sweet oblivion of the cares of day:
Not sumptuously adorned, nor needing aid,
Like homely-featured Night, of clustering gems!
A star or two, just twinkling on thy brow,
Suffices thee : save that the moon is thine
No l'ess than hers, not worn indeed on high
With ostentatious pageantry, but set
With modest grandeur in thy purple zone,
Resplendent less, but of an ampler round.
Come then, and thou shalt thy votary calm,
Or make me so. Composure is thy gift :
And, whether I devote thy gentler hours

255

260

To books, to music, or the poet's toil ;
To weaving nets for bird-alluring fruit;
Or twining silken threads round ivory reels,
When they command whom man was born to please ;
I slight thee not, but make thee welcome still. 266

NOTES.

257. Zone, belt, girdle.
258. Ampler round. The moon when

seen just above the horizon appears
larger, partly because it is often seen

through mist, partly because it is easier to compare it with terrestrial

objects.' (Storr). 265. They. Who?

Compare generally Collins's' Ode to Evening.'

A FINE NOON IN WINTER.

60

65

(From The Task, Book VI.)
The night was winter in his roughest mood,
The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon,
Upon the southern side of the slant hills,
And where the woods fence off the northern blast,
The season smiles, resigning all its rage,
And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue
Without a cloud, and white without a speck
The dazzling splendour of the scene below.
Again the harmony comes o'er the vale ;
And through the trees I view the embattled tower
Whence all the music. I again perceive
The soothing influence of the wafted strains,
And settle in soft musings as I tread
The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elm's,
Whose outspread branches overarch the glade.
The roof, though movable through all its length
As the wind sways it, has yet well sufficed,
And, intercepting in their silent fall
The frequent flakes, has kept a path for me.
No noise is here, or none that hinders thought.
The redbreast warbles still, but is content
With slender notes, and more than half suppressed ;
Pleased with his solitude, and flitting light
From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes

70

75

80

From many a twig the pendent drops of ice,
That tinkle in the withered leaves below.
Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft,
Charms more than silence. Meditation here
May think down hours to moments. Here the heart 83
May give a useful lesson to the head,
And Learning wiser grow without his books.

NOTES.

66. The embattled tower of the church

of Emberton, a village not far from Olney.

85. Think down &c. While one is think.

ing, hours may pass so rapidly as to seem only minutes.

Describe in prose.

EDWARD GIBBON.-1737-1794. EDWARD GIBBON, the son of a wealthy landed proprietor, was born at Putney. Being a weakly child, the only survivor of a family of seven, he was long kept at home, where he carried on a most diligent miscellaneous reading, especially in history. From a private school at Kingston he passed to Westminster School, whence he proceeded to Magdalen College, Oxford, at the age of fifteen. In little more than a year, becoming a convert to Roman Catholicism, he was obliged to leave Oxford (1753), which he did without regret. He was now sent to Lausanne, where the instructions of a Calvinist minister in eighteen months succeeded in reconverting him (Christmas, 1754). In 1758 he returned to England, and continued his studies at his father's house. He was a captain in the Hampshire militia, 1761-3. He next travelled in France, Switzerland, and Italy. In 1774 he entered parliament. In 1783 he returned to Lausanne to complete his History. On the outbreak of the French Revolution, he came back to England, and died in London in 1794.

Gibbon's great work is The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It was at Rome,' he tells us, 'on the 15th October 1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted friars were singing vespers in the temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started to my mind.' The first volume was given to the public in 1776; and the last volume, completed in 1787, was published in 1788, on the author's fifty-first birthday.

BOETHIUS.

man.

(From The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,

Chap. xxxix.) The senator Boethius is the last of the Romans whonr Cato or Tully could have acknowledged for their country

As a wealthy orphan he inherited the patrimony and honours of the Anician family, a name ambitiously assumed by the kings and emperors of the age ; and the appellation of Manlius asserted his genuine or fabulous descent from a race of consuls and dictators who had repulsed the Gauls from the Capitol, and sacrificed their sons to the discipline of the republic. In the youth of Boethius, the studies of Rome were not totally abandoned ; a Vergil is now extant corrected by the hand of a consul; and the professors of grammar, rhetoric, and jurisprudence were maintained in their privileges and pensions by the liberality of the Goths. But the erudition of the Latin language was insufficient to satiate his ardent curiosity; and Boethius is said to have employed eighteen laborious years in the schools of Athens, which were supported by the zeal, the learning, and the diligence of Proclus and his disciples. The reason and piety of their Roman pupil were fortunately saved from the contagion of mystery and magic which polluted the groves of the Academy; but he imbibed the spirit, and imitated the method, of his dead and living masters, who attempted to reconcile the strong and subtle sense of Aristotle with the devout contemplation and sublime fancy of Plato. After his return to Rome, and his marriage with the daughter of his friend the patrician Symmăchus, Boethius still continued, in a palace of ivory and marble, to prosecute the same studies. The church was edified by his profound defence of the orthodox creed against the Arian, the Eutychian, and the Nestorian heresies; and the Catholic unity was explained or exposed in a formal treatise by the indifference of three distinct though consubstantial persons. For the benefit of his Latin readers, his genius submitted to teach the first elements of the arts and sciences of Greece. The geometry of Euclid, the music of Pythagoras, the arithmetic of Nicomặchus, the mechanics of Archimedes, the astronomy of Ptolemy, the theology of Plato, and the logic of Aristotle, with the commentary of Porphyry, were translated and illustrated by the indefatigable pen of the Roman senator. . And he alone was esteemed capable of describing the wonders of art, a sun-dial, a water-clock, or a sphere which represented the motions of the planets.

From these abstruse speculations, Boethius stooped—or to speak more truly, he rose to the social duties of public and private life : the indigent were relieved by his liberality; and his eloquence, which flattery might compare to the voice of Demosthenes or Cicero, was uniformly exerted in the cause of innocence and humanity. Such conspicuous merit was felt and rewarded by a discerning prince : the dignity of Boethius was adorned with the titles of consul and patrician, and his talents were usefully employed in the important station of master of the offices. Notwithstanding the equal claims of the East and West, his two sons were created, in their tender youth, the consuls of the same year. On the memorable day of their inauguration, they proceeded in solemn pomp from their palace to the Forum, amidst the applause of the senate and people ; and their joyful father, the true consul of Rome, after pronouncing an oration in the praise of his royal benefactor, distributed a triumphal largess in the games of the circus. Prosperous in his fame and fortunes, in his public honours and private alliances, in the cultivation of science and the consciousness of virtue, Boethius might

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