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Go, teach them to tremble, fell tyrant! but know,
No terrors hast thou to the brave!
Thou strik'st the dull peasant, he sinks in the dark,
Nor saves e'en the wreck of a name;
He falls in the blaze of his fame!
In the field of proud honor-our swords in our hands,
Our king and our country to save
O! who would not rest with the brave!
As I stood by yon roofless tower,
Where the wa’-flower scents the dewy air, Where th' howlet mourns in her ivy bower,
And tells the midnight moon her care.
The winds were laid, the air was still,
The stars they shot alang the sky; The fox was howling on the hill,
And the distant-echoing glens reply.
The stream, adown its hazelly path,
Was rushing by the ruin'd wa's, Hasting to join the sweeping Nith,
Whase distant roaring swells and fa's. VOL. VI.
The cauld blue north was streaming forth
Her lights, wi' hissing eerie din; Athort the lift they start and shift,
Like fortune's favours, tint as win.
By heedless chance I turn’d mine eyes,
And by the moonbeam, shook, to see A stern and stalwart ghaist arise,
Attir'd as minstrels wont to be.
Had I a statue been o'stane,
His darin look had daunted me; And on his bonnet grav'd was plain,
The sacred posy-Libertie !
And frae his harp sic strains did flow,
Might rous'd the slumb'ring dead to hear; But oh, it was a tale of woe,
As ever met a Briton's ear!
He sang wi' joy the former day,
He weeping wail'd his latter times; But what he said it was nae play,
I winna ventur't in my rhymes.
BORN 1725.-DIED 1797.
WILLIAM Mason was the son of the vicar of St. Trinity, in the East-Riding of Yorkshire. He was entered of St. John's college, Cambridge, in his eighteenth year, having already, as he informs us, blended some attention to painting and poetry with his youthful studies soon my
hand the mimic colours spread, “ And vainly strove to snatch a double wreath " From Fame's unfading laurels.”
English Garden, B. 1. At the university, he distinguished himself by his Monody on the death of Pope, which was published in 1747. Two years afterwards, he obtained his degree of master of arts, and a fellowship of Pembroke hall. For his fellowship he was indebted to the interest of Gray, whose acquaintance with him was intimate and lasting; and who describes him, at Cambridge, as a young man " of much fancy, “ little judgment, and a good deal of modesty; in
simplicity a child, a little vain, but sincere, in“ offensive, and indolent." At a later period of his life, Thomas Warton gave him the very opposite character of a " buckram man.”
He was early attached to Whig principles, and wrote his poem of “ Isis," as an attack on the Jacobitism of Oxford. When Thomas Warton produced his “ Triumph of Isis," in reply, the two poets had the liberality to compliment the productions of each other; nor were their rival strains much worthy of mutual envy. But Mason, though he was above envy, could not detach his vanity from the subject. One evening, on entering Oxford with a friend, he expressed his happiness that it was dark. His friend not perceiving any advantage in the circumstance, “ What,” said Mason, “ don't you remember my Isis ?”
In 1753 he published his “ Elfrida," in which the chorus is introduced after the model of the Greek drama. The general unsuitableness of that venerable appendage of the ancient theatre for the modern stage seems to be little disputed. The two predo. minant features of the Greek chorus were, its music and its abstract morality. Its musical character could not be revived, unless the science of music were by some miracle to be made a thousand years younger, and unless modern ears were restored to a taste for its youthful simplicity. If music were as freely mixed with our tragedy as with that of Greece, the effect would speedily be, to make harmony predominate over words, sound over sense, as in modern operas, and the result would be, not a resemblance to the drama of Greece, but a thing as opposite to it as possible. The moral use
of the ancient chorus is also superseded by the nature of modern dramatic imitation, which incor, porates sentiment and reflection so freely with the speeches of the represented characters, as to need no suspension of the dialogue for the sake of lyrical bursts of morality or religious invocation.
The chorus was the oldest part of Greek tragedy ; and though Mr. Schlegel has rejected the idea of its having owed its preservation on the Greek stage to its antiquity, I cannot help thinking that that circumstance was partly the cause of its preservation'. Certainly the Greek drama, having sprung from a choral origin, would always retain a character congenial with the chorus. The Greek drama preserved a religious and highly rhythmical character. It took its rise from a popular solemnity, and continued to exhibit the public, as it were, personified in a distinct character
the stage. In this circumstance we may perhaps recognize a trait of the democratic spirit of Athenian manners, which delighted to give
· Mr. Schlegel alludes to the tradition of Sophocles having written a prose defence of the chorus against the objections of contemporaries, who blamed his continuance of it. Admitting this tradition, what does it prove? Sophocles found the chorus in his native drama, and no doubt found the genius of that drama congenial with the chorus from which it had sprung. In the opinion of the great German critic, he used the chorus, not from regard to habit, but principle. But have not many persons of the highest genius defended customs on the score of principle, to which they were secretly, perhaps unconsciously, attached from the power of habit? Custom is, in fact, stronger than principle.