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higher passages are all carefully finished, and rise Greets with three cheers exulting. At his waist or fall
, according to the nature of the subject, with A girdle of half-withered shrubs he shews, inimitable grace and melody. In this respect,
And at his feet the based billows die. Cowper, as already mentioned, has greatly the The common overgrown with fern, and rough advantage of Thomson, whose stately march is With prickly goss, that, shapeless and deform, never relaxed, however trivial be the theme. The
And dangerous to the touch, has yet its bloom, variety of The Task in style and manner, no less
And decks itself with ornaments of gold, than in subject, is one of its greatest charms. The
Yields no unpleasing ramble ; there the turf
Smells fresh, and rich in odoriferous herbs mock-heroic opening is a fine specimen of his
And fungous fruits of earth, regales the sense humour, and from this he slides into rural descrip- With luxury of unexpected sweets. tion and moral reflection so naturally and easily, that the reader is carried along apparently without From the begining to the end of The Task we an effort. The scenery of the Ouse—its level never lose sight of the author. His love of country plains and spacious meads--is described with the rambles, when a boy, vividness of painting, and the poet then elevates the character of his picture by a rapid sketch of
O'er hills, through valleys, and by river's brink; still nobler features :
his walks with Mrs Unwin, when he had ex
changed the Thames for the Ouse, and had grown Rural Sounds.
sober in the vale of years ;' his playful satire and
tender admonition, his denunciation of slavery, his Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds,
noble patriotism, his devotional earnestness and Exhilarate the spirit, and restore
sublimity, his warm sympathy with his fellow-men, The tone of languid nature. Mighty winds That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood
and his exquisite paintings of domestic peace and Of ancient growth, make music not unlike
happiness, are all so much self-portraiture, drawn The dash of ocean on his winding shore,
with the ripe skill and taste of the master, yet And lull the spirit while they fill the mind,
with a modesty that shrinks from the least obtrusUnnumbered branches waving in the blast,
iveness and display. The very rapidity of his And all their leaves fast fluttering all at once. transitions, where things light and sportive are Nor less composure waits upon the roar
drawn up with the most solemn truths, and satire, Of distant floods, or on the softer voice
pathos, and reproof alternately mingle or repel Of neighbouring fountain, or of rills that slip each other, are characteristic of his mind and Through the clest rock, and chiming as they fall
temperament in ordinary life. His inimitable ease Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length
and colloquial freedom, which lends such a charm In matted grass, that with a livelier green
to his letters, is never long absent from his Betrays the secret of their silent course. Nature inanimate displays sweet sounds,
poetry ; and his peculiar tastes, as seen in that But animated nature sweeter still,
somewhat grandiloquent line, To soothe and satisfy the human ear.
Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too, Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one The livelong night ; nor these alone whose notes
are all pictured in the pure and lucid pages of Nice-fingered art must emulate in vain,
The Task. It cannot be said that Cowper ever But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime abandoned his sectarian religious tenets, yet they In still-repeated circles, screaming loud,
are little seen in his great work. His piety is that The jay, the pie, and even the boding owl
which all should feel and venerate; and if his sad That hails the rising moon, have charms for me. experience of the world had tinged the prospect of Sounds inharmonious in themselves and harsh, life, its fluctuations and its vast concerns,' with a Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns,
deeper shade than seems consonant with the And only there, please highly for their sake.
general welfare and happiness, it also imparted a The freedom of this versification, and the admir- higher authority and more impressive wisdom to able variety of pause and cadence, must strike the stricken deer that left the herd,
' conscious of the
his earnest and solemn appeals. He was a most uncritical reader. With the same playful follies and wants of those hé left behind, and strength and equal power of landscape-painting, inspired with power to minister to the delight and he describes
instruction of the whole human race.
The Diversified Character of Creation.
From · Conversation.'
A graver coxcomb we may sometimes see,
A shallow brain behind a serious mask,
Who bidd'st me honour, with an artless song An oracle within an empty cask,
Affectionate, a mother lost so long. The solemn fop, significant and budge;
I will obey, not willingly alone, A fool with judges, amongst fools a judge ;
But gladly, as the precept were her own : He says but little, and that little said,
And while that face renews my filial grief, Owes all its weight, like loaded dice, to lead.
Fancy shall weave a charm for my relief; His wit invites you by his looks to come,
Shall steep me in Elysian reverie, But when you knock, it never is at home :
A momentary dream, that thou art she. 'Tis like a parcel sent you by the stage,
My mother! when I learned that thou wast dead, Some handsome present, as your hopes presage ; Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed ? 'Tis heavy, bulky, and bids fair to prove
Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son, An absent friend's fidelity of love;,
Wretch even then, life's journey just begun? But when unpacked, your disappointment groans Perhaps thou gavest me, though unseen, a kiss ; To find it stuffed with brickbats, earth, and stones. Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss—
Some men employ their health-an ugly trick- Ah, that maternal smile ! it answers-yes. In making known how oft they have been sick, I heard the bell tolled on thy burial-day, And give us in recitals of disease
I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away, A doctor's trouble, but without the fees ;
And turning from my nursery window, drew Relate how many weeks they kept their bed,
A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu ! How an emetic or cathartic sped ;
But was it such? It was. Where thou art gone, Nothing is slightly touched, much less forgot ;
Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown. Nose, ears, and eyes seem present on the spot. May I but meet thee on that peaceful shore, Now the distemper, spite of draught or pill,
The parting sound shall pass my lips no more ! Victorious seemed, and now the doctor's skill ; Thy maidens grieved themselves at my concern, And now-alas for unforeseen mishaps !
Oft gave me promise of a quick return : They put on a damp night-cap, and relapse ;
What ardently I wished, I long believed, They thought they must have died, they were so bad ; And, disappointed still, was still deceived; Their peevish hearers almost wish they had.
By disappointment every day beguiled, Some fretsul tempers wince at every touch,
Dupe of to-morrow even from a child. You always do too little or too much :*
Thus many a sad to-morrow came and went, You speak with life, in hopes to entertain
Till, all my stock of infant sorrow spent, Your elevated voice goes through the brain ;
I learned at last submission to my lot, You fall at once into a lower key,
But, though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot. That 's worse—the drone-pipe of a humble-bee.
Where once we dwelt our name is heard no more, The southern sash admits too strong a light;
Children not thine have trod my nursery floor; You rise and drop the curtain—now 'tis night. And where the gardener Robin, day by day, He shakes with cold-you stir the fire, and strive Drew me to school along the public way, To make a blaze-that's roasting him alive.
Delighted with my bauble coach, and wrapt Serve him with venison, and he chooses fish;
In scarlet mantle warm, and velvet capt, With sole—that's just the sort he would not wish. 'Tis now become a history little known, He takes what he at first professed to loathe,
That once we called the pastoral house our own. And in due time feeds heartily on both;
Short-lived possession ! but the record fair, Yet still o'erclouded with a constant frown,
That memory keeps of all thy kindness there, He does not swallow, but he gulps it down.
Still outlives many a storm, that has effaced Your hope to please him vain on every plan,
A thousand other themes less deeply traced. Himself should work that wonder, if he can.
Thy nightly visits to my chamber made, Alas ! his efforts double his distress.
That thou mightst know me safe and warmly laid; He likes yours little, and his own still less ;
Thy morning bounties ere I left my home, Thus always teasing others, always teased,
The biscuit or confectionary plum; His only pleasure is to be displeased.
The fragrant waters on my cheeks bestowed I pity bashful men, who feel the pain
By thy own hand, till fresh they shone and glowed: Of fancied scom and undeserved disdain,
All this, and more endearing still than all, And bear the marks upon a blushing face
Thy constant flow of love, that knew no fall, Of needless shame and self-imposed disgrace.
Ne'er roughened by those cataracts and breaks, Our sensibilities are so acute,
That humour interposed too often makes : The fear of being silent makes us mute.
All this, still legible in memory's page, We sometimes think we could a speech produce
And still to be so to my latest age, Much to the purpose, if our tongues were loose ;
Adds joy to duty, makes me glad to pay But being tried, it dies upon the lip,
Such honours to thee as my numbers may; Faint as a chicken's note that has the pip;
Perhaps a frail memorial, but sincere, Our wasted oil unprofitably burns,
Not scorned in heaven, though little noticed here. Like hidden lamps in old sepulchral urns.
Could Time, his flight reversed, restore the hours,
When, playing with thy vesture's tissued flowers, On the Receipt of his Mother's Picture.
The violet, the pink, and jessamine,
I pricked them into paper with a pin-
Would softly speak, and stroke my head and smileThose lips are thine-thy own sweet smiles I see,
Could those few pleasant hours again appear, The same that oft in childhood solaced mes
Might one wish bring them, would I wish them here? Voice only fails, else, how distinct they say:
I would not trust my heart—the dear delight "Grieve not, my child ; chase all thy fears away! Seems so to be desired, perhaps I might. The meek intelligence of those dear eyes —
But no-what here we call our life is such, Blest be the art that can immortalise,
So little to be loved, and thou so much, The art that baffles time's tyrannic claim
That I should ill requite thee to constrain To quench it—here shines on me still the same.
Thy unbound spirit into bonds again. Faithful remembrancer of one so dear,
Thou, as a gallant bark from Albion's coast( welcome guest, though unexpected here !
The storms all weathered and the ocean crossed
Shoots into port at some well-havened isle,
For though thou gladly wouldst fulfil
My Mary! Thy indistinct expressions seem Like language uttered in a dream; Yet me they charm, whate'er the theme,
My Mary! Thy silver locks, once auburn bright, Are still more lovely in my sight Than golden beams of orient light,
My Mary! For, could I view nor them nor thee, What sight worth seeing could I see? The sun would rise in vain for me,
My Mary! Partakers of thy sad decline, Thy hands their little force resign ; Yet gently pressed, press gently mine,
My Mary! Such feebleness of limbs thou prov'st, That now at every step thou mov'st Upheld by two ; yet still thou lov'st,
My Mary! And still to love, though pressed with ill, In wintry age to feel no chill, With me is to be lovely still,
Voltaire and the Lace-worker.-From “ Truth.' Yon cottager, who weaves at her own door, Pillow and bobbins all her little store ; Content though mean, and cheerful if not gay, Shufiling her threads about the livelong day, Just earns a scanty pittance, and at night Lies down secure, her heart and pocket light; She, for her humble sphere by nature fit, Has little understanding, and no wit; Receives no praise; but though her lot be suchToilsome and indigent-she renders much ; Just knows, and knows no more, her Bible trueA truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew ; And in that charter reads, with sparkling eyes, Her title to a treasure in the skies. O happy peasant ! O unhappy bard ! His the mere tinsel, hers the rich reward ; He praised, perhaps, for ages yet to come, She never heard of half a mile from home; He lost in errors his vain heart prefers, She safe in the simplicity of hers.
But ah ! by constant heed I know,
To Mary (Mrs Unwin).
My Mary! Thy needles, once a shining store, For my sake restless heretofore, Now rust disused, and shine no more,
Winter Evening in the Country.-From The Task.'
Garth. (See Vol. I. of this work, page 507.)
Or do they still, as if with opium drugged,
Fringed with a beard made white with other snows Snore to the murmurs of the Atlantic wave ?
Than those of age ; thy forehead wrapt in clouds, Is India free? and does she wear her plumed
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne And jewelled turban with a smile of peace,
A sliding car indebted to no wheels, Or do we grind her still? The grand debate,
But urged by storms along its slippery way; The popular harangue, the tart reply,
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem'st, The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit,
And dreaded as thou art! Thou hold'st the sun And the loud laugh— I long to know them all; A prisoner in the yet undawning east, I burn to set the imprisoned wranglers free,
Shortening his journey between morn and noon, And give them voice and utterance once again.
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay, Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Down to the rosy west ; but kindly still Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
Compensating his loss with added 'hours And while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Of social converse and instructive ease, Throws up a steamy column, and the cups,
And gathering, at short notice, in one group That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
The family dispersed, and fixing thought So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
Not less dispersed by daylight and its cares. Not such his evening who, with shining face
I crown thee king of intimate delights, Sweats in the crowded theatre, and squeezed
Fireside enjoyments, home-born happiness, And bored with elbow-points through both his sides, "And all the comforts that the lowly roof Out-scolds the ranting actor on the stage :
Of undisturbed retirement, and the hours Nor his who patient stands till his feet throb,
Of long uninterrupted evening, know. ... And his head thumps, to feed upon the breath
Come, Evening, once again, season of peace; Of patriots bursting with heroic rage,
Return, sweet Evening, and continue long Or placemen all tranquillity and smiles.
Methinks I see thee in the streaky west, This folio of four pages, happy work !
With matron-step slow-moving, while the night Which not even critics criticise ; that holds
Treads on thy sweeping train; one hand employed Inquisitive attention, while I read,
In letting fall the curtain of repose Fast bound in chains of silence, which the fair,
On bird and beast, the other charged for man Though eloquent themselves, yet fear to break; With sweet oblivion of the cares of day : What is it but a map of busy life,
Not sumptuously adorned, nor needing aid, Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns ?
Like homely-featured Night, of clustering gems ; Here runs the mountainous and craggy ridge
A star or two just twinkling on thy brow That tempts ambition. On the summit see
Suffices thee; save that the moon is thine
No less than hers : not worn indeed on high
With modest grandeur in thy purple zone,
Come then, and thou shalt find thy votary calm, Here rills of oily eloquence, in soft
Or make me so. Composure is thy gift ; Meanders, lubricate the course they take ;
And whether I devote thy gentle hours The modest speaker is ashamed and grieved
To books, to music, or the poet's toil ; To engross a moment's notice, and yet begs,
To weaving nets for bird-alluring fruit ; Begs a propitious ear for his poor thoughts,
Or twining silken threads round ivory reels, However trivial all that he conceives.
When they command whom man was born to please,
Love of Nature. From the same.
'Tis born with all : the love of Nature's works In which all comprehension wanders lost ;
Is an ingredient in the compound, man, While fields of pleasantry amuse us there,
Infused at the creation of the kind. With merry descants on a nation's woes.
And, though the Almighty Maker has throughout The rest appears a wilderness of strange
Discriminated each from each, by strokes But gay confusion; roses for the cheeks,
And touches of his hand, with so much art And lilies for the brows of faded age,
Diversified, that two were never found Teeth for the toothless, ringlets for the bald,
Twins at all points-yet this obtains in all, Heaven, earth, and ocean plundered of their sweets, That all discern a beauty in his works, Nectareous essences, Olympian dews,
And all can taste them: minds that have been formed Sermons, and city feasts, and favourite airs,
And tutored, with a relish more exact, Æthereal journeys, submarine exploits,
But none without some relish, none unmoved. And Katterfelto, * with his hair on end
It is a flame that dies not even there, At his own wonders, wondering for his bread.
Where nothing feeds it : neither business, crowds, 'Tis pleasant through the loopholes of retreat
Nor habits of luxurious city-life, To peep at such a world ; to see the stir
Whatever else they smother of true worth Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd ;
In human bosoms, quench it or abate. To hear the roar she sends through all her gates
The villas with which London stands begirt, At a safe distance, where the dying sound
Like a swarth Indian with his belt of beads, Falls a soft murmur on the uninjured ear.
Prove it. A breath of unadulterate air, Thus sitting, and surveying thus at ease
The glimpse of a green pasture, how they cheer The globe and its concerns, I seem advanced
The citizen, and brace his languid frame ! To some secure and more than mortal height,
Even in the stifling bosom of the town, That liberates and exempts me from them all.
A garden in which nothing thrives, has charms Oh Winter ! ruler of the inverted year,
That soothe the rich possessor; much consoled Thy scattered hair with sleet like ashes filled,
That here and there some sprigs of mournful mint, Thy breath congealed upon thy lips, thy cheeks Of nightshade or valerian, grace the wall
He cultivates. These serve him with a hint * A noted conjuror of the day.
That Nature lives; that sight-refreshing green 10
Is still the livery she delights to wear,
And plausible than social life requires,
And thou hast need of discipline and art
From nature's bounty—that humane address
And sweetness, without which no pleasure is
Or, flushed with fierce dispute, a senseless brawl.
Yet being free, I love thee : for the sake
Of that one feature can be well content,
Disgraced as thou hast been, poor as thou art,
To seek no sublunary rest beside.
Where I am free by birthright, not at all.
Then what were left of roughness in the grain
Of British natures, wanting its excuse
That it belongs to freemen, would disgust
And shock me. I should then with double pain
Feel all the rigour of thy fickle clime ;
And, if I must bewail the blessing lost,
I would at least bewail it under skies
Milder, among a people less austere ;
In scenes which, having never known me free,
Do I forebode impossible events,
And tremble at vain dreams? Heaven grant I may !
But the age of virtuous politics is past,
And we are deep in that of cold pretence.
Patriots are grown too shrewd to be sincere,
And we too wise to trust them. He that takes
Deep in his soft credulity the stamp
Designed by loud declaimers on the part
Of liberty, themselves the slaves of lust,
Incurs derision for his easy faith,
And lack of knowledge, and with cause enough :
For when was public virtue to be found
Where private was not? Can he love the whole
Who is in truth the friend of no man there?
Can he be strenuous in his country's cause
Who slights the charities, for whose dear sake
That country, if at all, must be beloved ?
From' Yardley Oak.'*
Relic of ages !could a mind, imbued
With truth from heaven, created thing adore,
I might with reverence kneel and worship thee.
Thou wast a bauble once ; a cup and ball,
Which babes might play with ; and the thievish jay,
Seeking her food, with ease might have purloined Causeless, and daubed with undiscerning praise,
The auburn nut that held thee, swallowing down
The yet close-folded latitude of boughs,
And all thy embryo vastness, at a gulp.
But fate thy growth decreed ; autumnal rains,
Beneath thy parent tree, mellowed the soil
Designed thy cradle ; and a skipping deer,
With pointed hoof dibbling the glebe, prepared
The soft receptacle in which, secure,
Thy rudiments should sleep the winter through. . .
Who lived when thou wast such? Oh, couldst thou In those that suffer it a sordid mind,
As in Dodona once thy kindred trees
Oracular, I would not curious ask
The future, best unknown, but at thy mouth
Inquisitive, the less ambiguous past.
By thee I might correct, erroneous oft,
The clock of history, facts and events
Timing more punctual, unrecorded facts
Recovering, and misstated setting right-
Desperate attempt, till trees shall speak again! ...
What exhibitions various hath the world
A tree in Yardley Chace, near Olney, said to have been planted
by Judith, daughter of William the Conqueror, and wife of Earl * Mignonette. Waltheof.