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Was born in Scotland, A.D. 1735. He received his education at Marischal College, Aberdeen, and became the professor of Moral Philosophy in that university. He rose into eminence by the publication of his Essay on Truth, in which he successfully exposed the fallacies of Hume and other sceptical writers. Shortly after appeared the Minstrel, the most celebrated of his poetical compositions. His latter days were embittered by a fiiction for the loss of his sons, youths of great promise. He died at Aberdeen, A.D. 1803.
Dr. Beattie is a respectable, rather than a great poet: but his works display great tenderness of feeling, and amiability of temper.
THE POET'S CHILDHOOD.
AND yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy.
Deep thought oft seemed to fix his infant eye.
Dainties he heeded not, nor gaude', nor toy,
Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy;
Silent when glad: affectionate, though shy:
And now his look was most demurely sad,
And now he laughed aloud, yet none knew why.
The neighbours stared and sighed, yet blessed the lad:
Some deemed him wondrous wise, and some believed him mad.
But why should I his childish feats display?
Concourse, and noise, and toil, he ever fled;
Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray
Of squabbling imps'; but to the forest sped,
Or roamed at large the lonely mountain's head,
Or where the maze of some bewildered stream
To deep untrodden groves his footsteps led,
There would he wander wild, till Phæbus' beam,
Shot from the western cliff, released the weary team.
The exploit of strength, dexterity, or speed,
To him nor vanity nor joy could bring :
His heart, from cruel sport estranged, would bleed
To work the woe of any living thing,
By trap or net, by arrow, or by sling ;
These he detested; those he scorned to wield :
He wished to be the guardian, not the king,
Tyrant far less, or traitor of the field, -
And sure the sylvan reign unbloody joy might yield.
Lo! where the stripling, rapt in wonder, roves
Beneath the precipice o'erhung with pine;
And sees, on high, amidst th' encircling groves,
2 imps, mischievous children.
From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents shine;
While waters, woods, and winds, in concert join,
And echo swells the chorus to the skies.
Would Edwin this majestic scene resign
For aught the huntsman's puny craft supplies?
Ah, no! he better knows great Nature's charms to prize.
And oft he traced the uplands, to survey,
When o’er the sky advanced the kindling dawn,
The crimson cloud, blue main, and mountain gray,
And lake, dim-gleaming on the smoky lawn:
Far to the west the long, long vale withdrawn,
Where twilight loves to linger for a while;
And now he faintly kens the bounding fawn,
And villager abroad at early toil:
But, lo! the sun appears! and heaven, earth, ocean, smile.
And oft the craggy cliff he loved to climb,
When all in mist the world below was lost-
What dreadful pleasure there to stand sublime,
Like shipwrecked mariner on desert coast,
And view the enormous waste of vapour, tost
In billows, lengthening to th' horizon round,
Now scooped in gulfs, with mountains now embossed!
And hear the voice of mirth and song rebound, Flocks, herds, and waterfalls, along the hoar profound !
In truth he was a strange and wayward wight,
Fond of each gentle, and each dreadful scene,
In darkness and in storm he found delight:
Nor less than when on ocean wave serene,
The southern sun diffused his dazzling sheen.
E'en sad vicissitude amused his soul;
And if a sigh would sometimes intervene,
And down his cheek a tear of pity roll,
A sigh, a tear, so sweet, he wished not to control.
Ar early dawn the youth his journey took,
And many a mountain passed and valley wide,
Then reached the wild, where, in a flowery nook,
And seated on a mossy stone, he spied
An ancient man; his harp lay him beside:
A stag sprang from the pasture at his call,
And, kneeling, licked the withered hand that tied
A wreath of woodbine round his antlers tall,
And hung his lofty neck with many a floweret small.
And now the hoary sage arose, and saw
The wanderer approaching: innocence
Smiled on his glowing cheek, but modest awe
Depressed his eye, that feared to give offence.
6 Who art thou, courteous stranger? and from whence?
Why roam thy steps to this sequestered dale?”
“ A shepherd boy,” the youth replied, “ far hence
My habitation; hear my artless tale,
Nor levity, nor falsehood, shall thine ear assail.
“ Late as I roamed, intent on Nature's charms,
I reached at eve this wilderness profound,
And, leaning where yon oak expands her arms,
Heard these rude cliffs thine awful voice rebound
(For in thy speech I recognise the sound).
You mourned for ruined man, and virtue lost,
And seemed to feel of keen remorse the wound,
Pondering on former days by guilt engrossed,
Or in the giddy storm of dissipation tossed.
“ But say, in courtly life, can craft be learned,
Where knowledge opens and exalts the soul?
Where fortune lavishes her gifts unearned,
Can selfishness the liberal heart control?
Is glory there achieved by arts, as foul
As those that felons, fiends, and furies plan?
Spiders insnare, snakes poison, tigers prowl:
Love is the godlike attribute of man!
Oh! teach a simple youth this mystery to scan.
“ Or else the lamentable strain disclaim,
And give me back the calm contented mind,
Which late, exulting, viewed in Nature's frame,
Goodness untainted, wisdom unconfined,
Grace, grandeur, and utility combined ;
Restore those tranquil days, that saw me still
Well pleased with all, but most with human-kind:
When fancy roamed through Nature's works at will,
Unchecked by cold distrust, and uninformed of ill.”
“ Wouldst thou,” the sage replied, “ in peace return
To the gay dreams of fond romantic youth,
Leave me to hide, in this remote sojourn,
From every gentle ear the dreadful truth;
For if my desultory strain with ruth
And indignation made thine eyes o’erflow,
Alas! what comfort could thy anguish soothe,
Shouldst thou th' extent of human folly know! Be ignorance thy choice, where knowledge leads to woe.
“But let untender thoughts afar be driven,
Nor venture to arraign the dread decree;
For know, to man, as candidate for heaven,
The voice of the Eternal said, “Be free;'
And this divine prerogative to thee
Does virtue, happiness, and heaven convey;
For virtue is the child of liberty,
And happiness of virtue; nor can they
Be free to keep the path, who are not free to stray.
“ Yet leave me not. I would allay that grief,
Which else might thy young virtue overpower,
And in thy converse I shall find relief,
When the dark shades of melancholy lour;
For solitude has many a dreary hour,
E'en when exempt from grief, remorse, and pain:
Come often, then, for, haply, in my bower,
Amusement, knowledge, wisdom, thou may'st gain; If I one soul improve, I have not lived in vain.”
And now at length, to Edwin's ardent gaze,
The Muse of History unrols her page,
But few, alas! the scenes her art displays,
To charm his fancy, or his heart engage.
Here chiefs their thirst of power in blood assuage,
And straight their flames with tenfold fierceness burn;
Here smiling virtue prompts the patriot's rage,
But lo! ere long is left alone to mourn,
And languish in the dust, and clasp the abandoned urn!
Enraptured by the hermit's strain, the youth
Proceeds the path of science to explore;
And now, expanded to the beams of truth,
New energies and charms, unknown before,
His mind discloses. Fancy now no more
Wantons on fickle pinion through the skies;
But, fixed in aim, and conscious of her power,
Aloft from cause to cause exults to rise,
Creation's blended stores arranging as she flies.
GEORGE CRABBE Was born at Aldborough, in Suffolk, A.D. 1754. He was destined for the medical profession: but not finding it suited to his disposition, he repaired to London, where he had the good fortune to find a friend in the celebrated Edmund Burke. In 1781, he published The Library, and soon after The Village, poems which at once established his fame. He afterwards entered into holy orders, and devoted himself to the duties of his sacred profession. After the lapse of more than twenty years, he again appeared before the public in 1817. In 1819 his last work, The Tales of the Hall, was published. Crabbe's innocent and useful life was spent in his parish of Trowbridge, where he was admired as a poet, beloved as a friend. revered as a divine, and respected as a man. He died A.D. 1832. sincerely and universally regretted.
Crabbe is, in every respect, a truly original writer. He is the faithful portrait painter of humble life, in all its variety and detail. He possesses vigorous conception, great pathos, and a vividness of delineation that convinces us at once of his truth and his power.
AN ENGLISH PEASANT.
From the PARISH REGISTER.
To pomp and pageantry in nought allied,
A noble peasant, Isaac Ashford, died.
Noble he was, contemning all things mean,
His truth unquestioned, and his soul serene:
Of no man's presence Isaac felt afraid,
At no man's question Isaac looked dismayed:
Shame knew him not, he dreaded no disgrace;
Truth, simple truth, was written in his face;
Yet while the serious thought his soul approved,
Cheerful he seemed, and gentleness he loved:
To bliss domestic he his heart resigned,
And, with the firmest, had the fondest mind:
Were others joyful, he looked smiling on,
And gave allowance where he needed none;
Good he refused with future ill to buy,
Nor knew a joy that caused reflection's sigh;
A friend to virtue, his unclouded breast,
No envy stung, no jealousy distressed;
(Bane of the poor! it wounds their weaker mind,
To miss one favour which their neighbours find :)
Yet far was he from stoic pride removed ;
He felt humanely, and he warmly loved :
I marked his action when his infant died,
And his old neighbour for offence was tried ;
The still tears, stealing down that furrowed cheek,
Spoke pity plainer than the tongue can speak.