Page images
PDF
EPUB

Furling the iron fails with numbed hands, Firm on the deck the great Adventurer ftands; Round glitt'ring mountains hears the billows rave, And the vast ruin thunder on the wave.Appall'd he hears !-but checks the rifing figh, And turns on his firm band a glist'ning eye.Not for himself the fighs unbidden break, Amid the terrors of the icy wreck; Not for himself ftarts the impaffion'd tear, Corgealing as it falls ;-nor pain, nor fear, Nor Death's dread darts, impede the great defign, Till Nature draws the circumfcribing line. Huge rocks of ice th' arrefted fhip embay, And bar the gallant Wanderer's dangerous way.His eye regretful marks the Goddess turn Th' affiduous prow from its relentless bourn. The following paffage is embellished by imagery truly poetic, original, and just.

On a lone beach a || rock-built temple ftands,
Stupendous pile! unwrought by mortal hands;
Sublime the ponderous turrets rise in air,
And the wide roof bafaltic columns bear;
Thro' the long aifles the murm'ring tempefts blow,
And Ocean chides his dashing waves below.
From this fair fane, along the filver fands,
Two fifter-virgins wave their snowy hands;
First § gentle Flora-round her smiling brow
Leaves of new forms, and flow'rs uncultur'd glow;
Thin folds of ** vegetable filk, behind,
Shade her white neck, and wanton in the wind;

Strange

Furling the iron fails.-" Our fails and rigging were so frozen, that they feemed plates of iron."

And the vast ruin.-The breaking of one of thefe immense mountains of ice, and the prodigious noife it made, is particularly defcribed in Cook's fecond voyage to the South Pole.

Till Nature, &c.-" After running four leagues this courfe, with the ice on our starboard fide, we found ourselves quite embayed, the ice extending from north-north-east, round by the weft and fouth, to eaft, in one compact body; the weather was tolerably clear, yet we could fee no end to it."

|| A rock-built temple." On ore part of this ifle there was a folitary rock, rifing on the coaft with arched cavities, like a majestic temple."

Firft gentle Flora.-Flora is the Goddefs of modern Botany, and Fauna of modern Zoology: hence the pupils of Linnæus call their books Flora Anglica - Fauna Danica, &c." The Flora of one of these islands contained thirty new plants."

** Vegetable filk.-In New-Zealand is a flag of which the natives make their nets and cordage. The fibres of this vegetable are longer and ftronger than our hemp and flax; and fome, manufactured in

London,

Strange fweets, where'er the turns, perfume the glades, And fruits unnam'd adorn the bending fhades. -Next Fauna treads, in youthful beauty's pride, A playful Kangroo bounding by her fide; Around the Nymph her beauteous + Pois difplay Their varied plumes, and trill the dulcet lay; A Giant-bat, with leathern wings outspread, Umbrella light, hangs quiv'ring o'er her head. As o'er the cliff her graceful ftep the bends, On glitt'ring wing her infect-train attends. With diamond-eye her fcaly tribes furvey Their Goddefs nymph, and gambol in the fpray.' The allufion to the funeral ceremonies at Otaheite is introduced with great happiness and propriety:

Gay Eden of the fouth, thy tribute pay,

And raise, in pomp of woe, thy Cook's || Morai!
Bid mild Omiah bring his choiceft ftores,
The juicy fruits, and the luxuriant flow'rs;
Bring the bright plumes, that drink the torrid ray,
And ftrew each lavish spoil on Cook's Morai!
Come, Oberea, hapless fair-one! come,
With piercing fhrieks bewail thy Hero's doom!-
She comes! The gazes round with dire furvey !—
Oh! fly the mourner on her frantic way.
See! fee! the pointed ivory wounds that head,
Where late the Loves impurpled roses spread;
Now ftain'd with gore, her raven treffes flow,
In ruthlefs negligence of madd'ning woe;

This valuable vegetable

*A playful Kangroo.-The kangroo is an animal peculiar to those climates. It is perpetually jumping along on its hind legs, its fore legs being too short to be ufed in the manner of other quadrupeds.

London, is as white and gloffy as fine filk. will probably grow in our climate.

+ Beauteous Pois." The poi-bird, common in those countries, has feathers of a fine mazarine blue, except those of the neck, which are of a beautiful filver grey; and two or three fhort white ones, which are in the pinion-joint of the wing. Under its throat hang two little tufts of curled white feathers, called its poies, which, being the Otaheitean word for ear-rings, occafioned our giving that name to the bird; which is not more remarkable for the beauty of its plumage, than for the exquifite melody of its note."

↑ A Giant-bat.-The bats which Captain Cook faw in fome of thefe countries were of incredible dimenfions, measuring three feet and an half in breadth, when their wings were extended.

Morai. The Morai is a kind of funeral altar, which the people of Otaheite raise to the memory of their deceased friends. They bring to it a daily tribute of fruits, flowers, and the plumage of birds. The chief mourner wanders around it in a ftate of apparent diftraction, fhrieking furiously, and ftriking at intervals a shark's tooth into her head. All people fly her, as the aims at wounding not only herself, but others.

Loud

Loud fhe laments!-and long the Nymph fhall ftray
With wild unequal ftep round Cook's Morai!"
The Poetefs then adverts, with exquifite fenfibility and art, to
a connexion of a dearer and more interefting kind.
'But ah!-aloft on Albion's rocky steep,
That frowns incumbent o'er the boiling deep,
Solicitous, and fad, a softer form
Eyes the lone flood, and deprecates the ftorm.-
Ill fated matron!-for, alas! in vain
Thy eager glances wander o'er the main !—
'Tis the vex'd billows, that infurgent rave,
Their white foam filvers yonder diftant wave,
'Tis not his fails!-thy husband comes no more!
His bones now whiten an accurfed fhore!—
Retire, for hark! the fea-gull fhrieking foars,
The lurid atmosphere portentous low'rs;
Night's fullen fpirit groans in ev'ry gale,
And o'er the waters draws the darkling veil,
Sighs in thy hair, and chills thy throbbing breaft-
Go, wretched mourner!-weep thy griefs to reft!

Yet, tho' through life is loft each fond delight,
Tho' fet thy earthly fun in dreary night,
Oh! raife thy thoughts to yonder ftarry plain,
And own thy forrow felfish, weak, and vain;
Since, while Britannia, to his virtues just,
Twines the bright wreath, and rears th' immortal buft;
While on each wind of heav'n his fame shall rife,
In endless incenfe to the fmiling skies;

THE ATTENDANT POWER, that bade his fails expand,
And waft her bleffings to each barren land,
Now raptur'd bears him to th'immortal plains,
Where Mercy hails him with congenial trains;
Where foars, on Joy's white plume, his fpirit free,
And angels choir him, while he waits for THEE.'
To this poem is fubjoined an Ode to the Sun; a prize poem
at Batheafton, which difplays an imagination well stored with
poetical ideas.

ART. X. An Epifle to a Friend, on the Death of John Thornton, Efq. By the Author of "An Epistle to an eminent Painter." 4to. Is. DodЛley. 1780.

HOW

OWEVER homely may be the verfe that laments over the grave of departed friendship, it not only difarms the feverity of criticifm, but, if dictated by the genuine and unaffected feelings of the heart, it will be read with attention in fome degree equal to the fincerity with which it is fupposed to have been written. How exquifite, then, must be the pleasure that is afforded by a poem like the prefent! a poem as elegant as the principle which it proceeds from is amiable! How beautiful is the following apostrophe!

• Pure

Pure mind! whofe meeknefs, in thy mortal days,
Purfuing virtue, ftill retir'd from praise;
Nor wish'd that friendship fhould on marble give
That perfect image of thy worth to live,
Which 'twas thy aim alone to leave impreft
On the close tablet of her faithful breast.
If now her verse against thy wish rebel,
And ftrive to blazon what the lov'd fo well,
Forgive the tender thought, the moral fong,
Which would thy virtues to the world prolong;
That, refcued from the grave's oblivious fhade,
Their useful luftre may be fill survey'd,
Dear to the penfive eye of fond regret,
As light ftill beaming from a fun that's fet.
Oft to our giddy Mufe thy voice has taught
The juft ambition of poetic thought;
Bid her bold view to latest time extend,
And strive to make futurity her friend.
If any verfe, her little art can frame,
May win the partial voice of diftant fame,
Be it the verfe, whofe fond ambition tries
To paint thy mind in truth's unfading dyes,
Tho' firm, yet tender, ardent, yet refin'd;
With Roman ftrength and Attic grace combin'd.

What tho' undeck'd with titles, power, and wealth,
Great were thy generous deeds, and done by stealth;
For thy pure bounty from obfervance ftole,
Nor with'd applaufe, but from thy conscious foul.
Tho' thy plain tomb no fculptur'd form may fhew,
No boaftful witnefs of fufpected woe;

Yet heavenly fhapes, that fhun the glare of day,
To that dear spot fhall nightly vifits pay:
Pale Science there fhall o'er her votary strew
Her flow'rs, yet moift with forrow's recent dew.
There Charity, Compaffion's lovely child,
In ruftic notes pathetically wild,

With grateful bleffings bid thy name endure,
And mourn the patron of her village-poor.
E'en from the midnight fhew with mufic gay,
The foul of Beauty to thy tomb fhall stray,
In fweet distraction fteal from prefent mirth,
To figh unnotic'd o'er the hallow'd earth,
Which hides those lips, that glow'd with tender fire,
And fung her praises to no common lyre :
But Friendship, wrapt in forrow's deepest gloom,
Shall keep the longest vigils at thy tomb;
Her wounded breaft, difdainful of relief,
There claims a fond præ-eminence in grief.

Short was thy life, but ah! its thread how fine!
How pure the texture of the finish'd line!
What tho' thy opening manhood could not gain
Those late rewards, maturer toils attain ;

Hope's

Hope's firmest promifes 'twas thine to raise,
that merit's brightest meed would grace thy lengthen'd days;
For thine were Judgment's patient powers to draw
Entangled juftice from the nets of law;
'Thine firm Integrity, whose language clear
Ne'er fwell'd with arrogance, or fhook with fear.
Reafon's mild power, unvex'd by mental strife,
Sway'd the calm current of thy useful life;
Whofe even courfe was in no feason loft,
Nor rough with ftorms, nor ftagnated by frøft.
In fcenes of public toil, or focial eafe,
'Twas thine by firm fincerity to please ;
Sweet as the breath of fpring thy converfe flow'd,
As fummer's noon-tide warmth thy friendship glow'd,
O'er thy mild manners, by no art conftrain'd,
A penfive, pleafing melancholy reign'd,
Which won regard, and charm'd th' attentive eye,
Like the foft luftre of an evening fky:
Yet if perchance excited to defend
The injur'd merit of an abfent friend,
That gentle fpirit, rous'd to virtuous ire,
Indignant flash'd refentment's noble fire.

Tho' juft obfervance in thy life may trace
A lovely model of each moral grace,
Thy laft of days the nobleft leffon taught:
Severe instruction! and too dearly bought!
Whofe force from memory never can depart,
But while it mends, muft agonife the heart.
Tho' thy fhrunk nerves were deftin'd to sustain
Th' increafing horrors of flow wafting pain;
Thofe fpirit-quenching pangs, whose base controal
Cloud the clear temper, and exhauft the foul;
Yet in that hour, when Death afferts his claim,
And his strong fummons fhakes the confcious frame;
When weaker minds, by frantic fear o'erthrown,
Shrink in wild horror from the dread Unknown,
Thy firmer foul, with Chriftian ftrength renew'd,
Nor loft in languor, nor by pain fubdued,
(While thy cold grafp the hand of Friendship preft,
And her vain aid in fault'ring accents bleft)
With awe, but not as Superftition's flave,
Survey'd the gathering fhadows of the grave;
And to thy God, in death, devoutly paid
That calm obedience which thy life difplay'd.
The melancholy yet manly enthufiafm with which the Writer
fuggefts the employment of himfelf and the furviving friend to
whom the epiftle is addreffed, is truly affecting.

Oft let us loiter on his favourite hill,
Whose shades the fadly-pleafing thought inftill;
Recount his kindness, as we fondly rove,
And meet his spirit in the lonely grove.

« PreviousContinue »