Page images






Non injussa cano: te nostræ, Vare, myricæ,
Te nemus omne canet; nec Phœbo gratior ulla est,
Quam sibi quæ Vari præscripsit pagina nomen.

Virg. Ecl. vi. 9.




The close of the poem is said to have given peculiar offence to Addison, as both a poet and a politician. The offence may fairly be conceived to have lain in Pope's open espousal of a cause fatal to Addison's party, and his advocacy of a negociation which tarnished all the laurels of the noblest war of England.




THY forest, Windsor! and thy green retreats,
At once the monarch's and the Muse's seats,
Invite my lays. Be present, sylvan maids!
Unlock your springs, and open all your shades.
Granville commands; your aid, O Muses, bring!
What Muse for Granville can refuse to sing?


5 Granville commands. Lord Lansdowne was an author of more variety than skill, and more diligence than success: tragedy and romance, description and criticism, served only to exercise his pen and the prudence of his friends: poetry was his mistress, but she never returned his flame; and the poet had no resource but to take refuge in the politician. There mediocrity of parts was less felt, and diligence more. From a private station he gradually advanced through successive offices, until, in 1710, he attained the peerage: but even then he was to feel the uncertainty of fortune. He was charged with disaffection to the Brunswick line, and in the next year was committed to the Tower; there succeeding a still more memorable example of the chances of public life; for his apartment was the one in which sir Robert Walpole had been confined. Horace Walpole, with his usual wit, observes of lord Lansdowne's authorship, that it was lucky


The fields are ravish'd from the industrious swains,
From men their cities, and from gods their fanes :
The levell'd towns with weeds lie cover'd o'er;
The hollow winds through naked temples roar;
Round broken columns clasping ivy twined;
O'er heaps of ruin stalk'd the stately hind;
The fox obscene to gaping tombs retires,
And savage howlings fill the sacred quires.
Awed by his nobles, by his commons cursed,
The oppressor ruled tyrannic where he durst,
Stretch'd o'er the poor and church his iron rod, 75
And served alike his vassals and his god:
Whom ev'n the Saxon spared, and bloody Dane,
The wanton victims of his sport remain.
But see, the man, who spacious regions gave
A waste for beasts, himself denied a grave!


65 The fields are ravish'd. Pope tells us that this was 'translated from the

Templa adimit Divis, fora civibus, arva colonis, of an old monkish writer, I forget who.' Warton gives the contrasted line from Camden, speaking of Edgar :

Templa Deo, templis monachos, monachis dedit agros. 80 Himself denied a grave! It is difficult to discover to what incident the poet alludes here. Warton conceives it a reference to the story in St. Foix, that when the body of William the Conqueror was about to be interred, a bystander cried out against suffering him to be laid in that peculiar piece of ground; asserting that William, when duke, had seized the spot from his father without an equivalent; and that prince Henry agreed to pay the claimant, who was only a farrier, a hundred crowns for the land: but this could scarcely be called the denial of a grave.

The modern scepticism which meets all the facts of history only with an intention to dispute them, doubts the ravages of William and his son in Hampshire. It is true, that it is not easy, in the absence of minute records, to prove the specific

Stretch'd on the lawn his second hope survey,
At once the chaser, and at once the prey:
Lo, Rufus, tugging at the deadly dart,
Bleeds in the forest like a wounded hart.
Succeeding monarchs heard the subjects' cries, 85
Nor saw displeased the peaceful cottage rise:
Then gathering flocks on unknown mountains

O'er sandy wilds were yellow harvests spread;
The forest wonder'd at the unusual grain;
And secret transports touch'd the conscious swain.
Fair Liberty, Britannia's goddess, rears
Her cheerful head, and leads the golden years.
Ye vigorous swains! while youth ferments your


And purer spirits swell the sprightly flood,
Now range the hills, the gameful woods beset, 95
Wind the shrill horn, or spread the waving net.

waste committed by those tyrants; but the returns of the population, property, and tillage, of those districts before and after the reigns of the Conqueror and his son, amply show that a devastation must have been exercised there of the most sweeping kind.

81 Second hope. William, second son of William the Conqueror.

83 The spot on which the king was slain is still pointed out in the New Forest: even the oak, against which sir Walter Tyrrel's arrow glanced, survived within memory. The moment sir Walter Tyrrel had shot him, he instantly hastened to the sea-shore, without speaking of the accident, and embarked for France, and thence hurried to Jerusalem to do penance for his involuntary crime. The body of Rufus was found in the forest by a countryman, whose family are said to be still living near the spot; and was buried, without any pomp, before the altar of Winchester cathedral, where the monument remains.

« EelmineJätka »