Page images
PDF
EPUB

With acrid salts; his very heart athirst
To gaze at Nature in her green array.
Upon the ship's tall side he stands, possess'd 450
With visions prompted by intense desire;
Fair fields appear below, such as he left
Far distant, such as he would die to find,
He seeks them headlong, and is seen no more.

The spleen is seldom felt where Flora reigns; 455
The lowering eye, the petulance, the frown,
And sullen sadness that o'ershade, distort,
And mar the face of beauty, when no cause
For such immeasurable woe appears,
These Flora banishes, and gives the fair

460 Sweet smiles and bloom less transient than her own. It is the constant revolution stale And tasteless, of the same repeated joys 33, That palls and satiates, and makes languid life A pedler's pack, that bows the bearer down. 465 Health suffers, and the spirits ebb; the heart Recoils from its own choice,-at the full feast Is famish’d, finds no music in the song, No smartness in the jest, and wonders why. Yet thousands still desire to journey on,

470 Though halt and weary of the path they tread. The paralytic who can hold her cards But cannot play them, borrows a friend's hand To deal and shuffle, to divide and sort Her mingled suits and sequences, and sits

475 Spectatress both and spectacle, a sad

33 Like cats in air pumps, to subsist we strive
On joys too thin to keep the soul alive.

Young, Satire v.

And silent cypher, while her proxy plays.
Others are dragg’d into the crowded room
Between supporters; and once seated, sit
Through downright inability to rise,

480
Till the stout bearers lift the corpse again 34.
These speak a loud memento. Yet even these
Themselves love life, and cling to it, as he
That overhangs a torrent to a twig.
They love it, and yet loathe it; fear to die, 485
Yet scorn the purposes for which they live.
Then wherefore not renounce them ? No—the dread,
The slavish dread of solitude that breeds
Reflection and remorse, the fear of shame,
And their inveterate habits, all forbid.

490 Whom call we gay? That honour has been long The boast of mere pretenders to the name. The innocent are gay 35 ;—the lark is gay That dries his feathers saturate with dew Beneath the rosy cloud, while yet the beams 495 Of day-spring overshoot his humble nest. The peasant too, a witness of his song, Himself a songster, is as gay as he. But save me from the gaiety of those Whose head-aches nail them to a noonday bed ; 500 And save me too from theirs whose haggard eyes Flash desperation, and betray their pangs

34

the gay assembly's gayest room Is but an upper story to some tomb.

Young, Satire vi. 35 And farewell merry heart, The gift of guiltlesse minds.

Spenser. Epitaph on Sir P. Sidney.

505

510

Then snug

For property stripp'd off by cruel chance;
From gaiety that fills the bones with pain,
The mouth with blasphemy, the heart with woe.

The earth was made so various, that the mind
Of desultory man, studious of change,
And pleased with novelty, might be indulged.
Prospects however lovely may be seen
Till half their beauties fade; the

weary sight, Too well acquainted with their smiles, slides off Fastidious, seeking less familiar scenes.

inclosures in the shelter'd vale,
Where frequent hedges intercept the eye,
Delight us, happy to renounce a while 36,
Not senseless of its charms, what still we love,
That such short absence may endear it more.
Then forests, or the savage rock may please,
That hides the sea-mew in his hollow clefts
Above the reach of man: his hoary head
Conspicuous many a league, the mariner
Bound homeward, and in hope already there,
Greets with three cheers exulting. At his waist
A girdle of half-wither'd shrubs he shows,
And at his feet the baffled billows die.
The common overgrown with fern 37, and rough

515

520

525

36

But if much converse
Thee satiate, to short absence I could yield,
For solitude sometimes is best society,
And short retirement urges sweet return,

Par. Lost, ix. 247.
37 E'en the wild heath displays her purple dies,
And midst the desert fruitful fields arise,

Pope. Windsor Forest.

530

With prickly goss, that shapeless and deform
And dangerous to the touch, has yet its bloom
And decks itself with ornaments of gold,
Yields no unpleasing ramble ; there the turf
Smells fresh, and rich in odoriferous herbs
And fungous fruits of earth, regales the sense
With luxury of unexpected sweets.

There often wanders one, whom better days
Saw better clad, in cloak of sattin trimm'd

535 With lace, and hat with splendid ribband bound. A serving-maid was she, and fell in love With one who left her, went to sea and died. Her fancy follow'd him through foaming waves To distant shores, and she would sit and weep 540 At what a sailor suffers ; fancy too, Delusive most where warmest wishes are, Would oft anticipate his glad return, And dream of transports she was not to know. She heard the doleful tidings of his death,

545 And never smiled again. And now she roams The dreary waste; there spends the livelong day, And there, unless when charity forbids, The livelong night. A tatter'd apron hides, Worn as a cloak, and hardly hides a gown More tatter'd still ; and both but ill conceal A bosom heaved with never-ceasing sighs. She begs an idle pin of all she meets, And hoards them in her sleeve; but needful food, Though press'd with hunger oft, or comelier clothes, Though pinch'd with cold, asks never38.—Kate is crazed. 38 Man may dismiss compassion from his heart, But God will never.

Book vi. 442.

550

I see a column of slow-rising smoke O'ertop the lofty wood that skirts the wild. A vagabond and useless tribe there eat Their miserable meal. A kettle slung

560 Between two poles upon a stick transverse, Receives the morsel ; flesh obscene of dog, Or vermin, or at best, of cock purloin'd From his accustom'd perch. Hard-faring race ! They pick their fuel out of every hedge,

565 Which kindled with dry leaves, just saves unquench'd The spark of life. The sportive wind blows wide Their fluttering rags, and shows a tawny skin, The vellum of the pedigree they claim. Great skill have they in palmistry, and more 570 To conjure clean away the gold they touch, Conveying worthless dross into its place. Loud when they beg, dumb only when they steal. Strange! that a creature rational, and cast In human mould, should brutalize by choice 575 His nature, and though capable of arts By which the world might profit and himself, Self-banish'd from society, prefer Such squalid sloth to honourable toil. Yet even these, though feigning sickness oft 580

An assembly such as earth
Saw never.

Book vi. 816.
This agreeable cadence is Miltonic.

Which my mind
Knew never, till this irksome night.

Par. Lost, v. 33.
Clamour such as heard in heaven till now
Was never.

Par. Lost, vi. 209.

« PreviousContinue »