« AnkstesnisTęsti »
Those ever-blooming sweets, which from the store
Of nature fair imagination culls
To charm th' enliven'd soul! what though not all
Of mortal offspring can attain the heights
Of envied life; though only few possess
Patrician treasures or imperial state;
Yet nature's care, to all her children just,
With richer treasures and an ampler state,
Indows at large whatever happy man
Will deign to use them. His the city's pomp,
The rural honors his. Whate'er adorns
The princely dome, the column and the arch,
The breathing marbles and the sculptur'd gold,
Beyond the proud possessor's narrow claim,
His tuneful breast enjoys. For him, the spring
Distils her dews, and from the silken gem
Its lucid leaves unfolds: for him, the hand
Of autumn tinges every fertile branch
With blooming gold and blushes like the morn.
Each passing hour sheds tribute from her wings;
And still new beauties meet his lonely walk,
And loves unfelt attract him. Not a breeze
Flies o'er the meadow, not a cloud imbibes
The setting sun's effulgence, not a strain
From all the tenants of the warbling shade
Ascends, but whence his bosom can partake
Fresh pleasure, unreprov'd. Nor thence partakes
Fresh pleasure only for th' attentive mind,
By this harmodious action on her powers,
Becomes herself harmonious: wont so oft
In outward things to meditate the charm
Of sacred order, soon she seeks at home
To find a kindred order, to exert
Within herself this elegance of love,
This fair inspir'd delight: her temper'd powers
Refine at length, and every passion wears
A chaster, milder, more attractive mien.
But if to ampler prospects, if to gaze
On nature's form, where, negligent of all
These lesser graces, she assumes the port
Of that eternal majesty that weigh'd
The world's foundations, if to these the mind
Exalts her daring eye; then mightier far
Will be the change, and nobler. Would the forms
Of servile custom cramp her generous power?
Would sordid policies, the barbarous growth
Of ignorance and rapine, bow her down
To tame pursuits, to indolence and fear?
Lo! she appeals to nature, to the winds
And rolling waves, the sun's unwearied course,
The elements and seasons: all declare
For what th' eternal Maker has ordain'd
The powers of man: we feel within ourselves
he tells the heart,
He meant, he made us to behold and love
What he beholds and loves, the general orb
Of life and being; to be great like him,
Beneficent and active. Thus the men
Whom nature's work can charm, with God himself
Hold converse; grow familiar, day by day,
With his conceptions; act upon his plan;
And form to his, the relish of their souls.
It was to Mr. Home that Collins addressed his romantic ode on the Superstitions of the Highlands, predicting in the opening stanza the future exhibition of those tragic powers which were afterwards displayed so remarkably in Douglass. He was born in Scotland, studied at the University of Edinburgh, and was licensed to preach the gospel in 1747. In 1750 he became minister of the church at Athelstanford, over which the poet Blair had previously presided.
The tragedy of Douglass was first exhibited with great applause on the theatre in Edinburgh, and afterwards appeared with equal fame in London. It was attended in Scotland with consequences more unpleasant to the author. The Scotish presbytery esteemed it so great an outrage on the rules of propriety and religion for a clergyman to compose a tragedy for the stage, and be present at its performance, that Mr. Home judged it best to retire from his profession, and accordingly in 1758 took leave of his congregation in a deeply pathetic sermon. His own mind, it is to be feared, was more agitated by ambition, than obedient to the calls of duty.
He spent the remainder of his life, which was prolonged to the age of eighty five, at London, and published many tragedies, not one of which exhibited a glimpse of the genius that conceived and executed Douglass. It is upon this tragedy that Home's literary reputation rests exclusively; and by this it will always be supported. He has displayed in it much power of the descriptive and pathetic, a good degree of fancy, a discriminating hand in the delineation, of his characters, and a style of versification, easy, regular, and sometimes strong. Its moral influence is also pure. As a whole it is simple, chaste, and grand; like an ancient Grecian temple, severe in classic beauty, amidst the corruptions of the reigning taste.
SCENE FROM DOUGLASS.
Lord and Lady Randolph.
Lady R. Alas! my lord, I've heard unwelcome news; The Danes are landed.
Lord R. Ay, no inroad this,
Of the Northumbrian, bent to take a spoil;
No sportive war, no tournament essay,
Of some young knight, resolved to break a spear,
And stain with hostile blood his maiden arms.
The Danes are landed. We must beat them back,
Or live the slaves of Denmark.
Lady R. Dreadful times!
Lord R. The fenceless villages are all forsaken;
The trembling mothers and their children lodged
In well girt towers and castles; whilst the men
Retire indignant. Yet like broken waves,
They but retire, more awful to return.
Lady R. Immense, as fame reports, the Danish host!
Lord R. Were it as numerous as loud fame reports,
An army knit like ours would pierce it through:
Brothers, that shrink not from each other's side,
And fond companions, fill our warlike files.
For his dear offspring, and the wife he loves,
The husband and the fearless father arm,
In vulgar breasts heroic ardour burns,
And the poor peasant mates his daring lord.
Lady R. Men's minds are tempered, like their swords, for war.
Hence early graves; hence the lone widow's life,
And the sad mother's grief-embittered age.
Where is our gallant guest?
Lord R. Down in the vale
I left him, managing a fiery steed,
Whose stubbornness had foil'd the strength and skill
Of every rider.-But behold he comes,
In earnest conversation with Glenalvon.
Enter Glenalvon and Norval.
Glenalvon! with the lark arise; go forth,
And lead my troops that lie in yonder vale.
Private I travel to the royal camp.
Norval thou go'st with me. But say, young man,
Where didst thou learn so to discourse of war,
And in such terms as I o'erheard today?
War is no village science, nor its phrase
A language taught among the shepherd swains.
Norval. Small is the skill my lord delights to praise
In him he favours.--Hear from whence it came.
Beneath a mountain's brow the most remote
And inaccessible by shepherds trod,
In a deep cave, dug by no mortal hand,
A hermit liv'd; a melancholy man,
Who was the wonder of our wand'ring swains.
Austere and lonely, cruel to himself,
Did they report him; the cold earth his bed,
Water his drink, his food the shepherd's alms.
I went to see him; and my heart was touch'd
With reverence and with pity. Mild he spake,
And entering on discourse, such stories told,
As made me oft revisit his sad cell.
For he had been a soldier in his youth;
And fought in famous battles, when the peers
Of Europe, by the bold Godfredo led
Against the usurping Infidel, display'd
The cross of Christ, and won the Holy Land.
Pleas'd with my admiration, and the fire
His speech struck from me, the old man would shake
His years away, and act his young encounters;
Then, having show'd his wounds, he 'd sit him down,
And all the live-long day discourse of war.
To help my fancy, in the smooth green turf
He cut the figures of the marshall'd hosts;
Describ'd the motions, and explain'd the use
Of the deep column and the lengthen'd line:
The square, the crescent, and the phalanx firm.
For all that Saracen or Christian knew
Of war's vast art, was to this hermit known.
Returning homewards by Messina's port,
Loaded with wealth and honors bravely won,
A rude and boisterous captain of the sea
Fasten'd a quarrel on him. Fierce they fought!
The stranger fell; and with his dying breath
Declar'd his name and lineage.
The soldier cried, my brother! O my brother!
They exchang'd forgiveness:
And happy, in my mind, was he that died;
For many deaths has the survivor suffer'd.
In the wild desert on a rock he sits,
Upon some nameless stream's untrodden banks,
And ruminates all day his dreadful fate.
At times, alas! nor in his perfect mind,
Holds dialogues with his lov'd brother's ghost;
And oft each night forsakes his sullen couch,
To make sad orisons for him he slew.
THE FOREST BY MIDNIGHT.
THIS is the place, the centre of the grove;
Here stands the oak, the monarch of the wood.
How sweet and solemn is this midnight scene!
The silver moon, unclouded, holds her way,
Through skies where I could count each little star.
The fanning west wind scarcely stirs the leaves.
The river, rushing o'er its pebbled bed,
Imposes silence with a stilly sound.
In such a place as this, at such an hour,
If ancestry in aught can be believed,
Descending spirits have convers'd with man,
And told the secrets of the world unknown.
STORY OF THE OLD MAN NORVAL.
SOME eighteen years ago, I rented land
Of brave Sir Malcolm, then Balarmo's lord;
But falling to decay, his servants seized
All that I had, and then turned me and mine,
(Four helpless infants and their weeping mother)
Out to the mercy of the winter winds.
A little hovel by the river's side
Received us: there hard labour, and the skill
In fishing, which was formerly my sport,
Supported life. Whilst thus we poorly lived,
One stormy night, as I remember well,
The wind and rain beat hard upon our roof:
Red came the river down, and loud and oft
The angry spirit of the water shrieked.
At the dead hour of night was heard the cry
Of one in jeopardy. I rose and ran
To where the circling eddy of a pool
Beneath the ford, us'd oft to bring within
My reach whatever floating thing the stream
Had caught. The voice was ceased; the person lost:
But looking sad and earnest on the waters,
By the moon's light I saw, whirl'd round and round, A basket; soon I drew it to the bank,
And nestled curious there an infant lay.—
Within the cradle where the infant lay
Was stow'd a mighty store of gold and jewels;
Tempted by which we did resolve to hide,
From all the world, this wonderful event,
And like a peasant breed the noble child.
That none might mark the change of our estate,