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That crown the solitary dome, arise;
While from the topmost turret the slow clock,
Far heard along th' inhospitable wastes,
With sad-returning chime awakes new grief;
Ev'n he far happier seems than is the proud,
The potent satrap, whom he left behind
'Mid Moscow's golden palaces, to drown
In ease and luxury the laughing hours.
Illustrious objects strike the gazer's mind
With feeble bliss, and but allure the sight,
Nor rouse with impulse quick th' unfeeling heart.
Thus seen by shepherds from Hymettus' brow,
What dædal landscapes smile! here palmy groves,
Resounding once with Plato's voice, arise,
Amid whose umbrage green her silver head
Th' unfading olive lifts: here vine-clad hills
Lay forth their purple store, and sunny vales
In prospect vast their level laps expand,
Amid whose beauties glistering Athens tow'rs.
Though through the blissful scenes Ilissus roll
His sage-inspiring flood, whose winding marge
The thick-wove laurel shades; though roseate Morn
Pour all her splendors on th' empurpled scene;
Yet feels the hoary hermit truer joys,
As from the cliff, that o'er his cavern hangs,
He views the piles of fall'n Persepolis
In deep arrangement hide the darksome plain.
Unbounded waste! the mould'ring obelisk
Here, like a blasted oak, ascends the clouds;
Here Parian domes their vaulted halls disclose
Horrid with thorn, where lurks th' unpitying thief,
Whence flits the twilight-loving bat at eve,
And the deaf adder wreathes her spotted train,
The dwellings once of elegance and art.
Here temples rise, amid whose hallow'd bounds
Spires the black pine, while through the naked street,
Once haunt of tradeful merchants, springs the grass:
Here columns heap'd on prostrate columns, torn
From their firm base, increase the mould'ring mass.
Far as the sight can pierce, appear the spoils
Of sunk magnificence! a blended scene
Of moles, fanes, arches, domes, and palaces,
Where, with his brother Horror, Ruin sits.
O come then, Melancholy, queen of thought!
O come with saintly look, and stedfast step,
From forth thy cave embower'd with mournful yew
Where ever to the curfew's solemn sound
List'ning thou sitt'st, and with thy cypress bind
Thy votary's hair, and seal him for thy son.
But never let Euphrosyné beguile
With toys of wanton mirth my fixed mind,
Nor in my path her primrose-garland cast.
Though 'mid her train the dimpled Hebe bare
Her rosy bosom to th' enamour'd view;
Though Venus, mother of the Smiles and Loves,
And Bacchus, ivy-crown'd, in citron-bow'r
With her on nectar-streaming fruitage feast:
What though 'tis hers to calm the low'ring skies,
And at her presence mild th' embattled clouds
Disperse in air, and o'er the face of Heav'n
New day diffusive gleam at her ap
Yet are these joys that Melancholy gives,
Than all her witless revels happier far;
These deep-felt joys, by Contemplation taught.
Then ever, beauteous Contemplation, hail!
From thee began, auspicious maid, my song,
With thee shall end; for thou art fairer far
Than are the nymphs of Cirrha's mossy grot;
To loftier rapture thou canst wake the thought,
Than all the fabling poet's boasted pow'rs.
Hail, queen divine! whom, as tradition tells,
Once in his evening walk a Druid found,
Far in a hollow glade of Mona's woods;
And piteous bore with hospitable hand
To the close shelter of his oaken bow'r.
There soon the sage admiring mark'd the dawn
Of solemn musing in your pensive thought;
For when a smiling babe, you lov'd to lie
Oft deeply list'ning to the rapid roar
Of wood-hung Meinai, stream of Druids old.
WILLIAM MASON, a poet of some distinction, born | verse, made its appearance, of which the fourth and in 1725, was the son of a clergyman, who held the concluding book was printed in 1781. Its purpose living of Hull. He was admitted first of St. John's was to recommend the modern system of natural or College, and afterwards of Pembroke College, Cam- landscape gardening, to which the author adheres bridge, of the latter of which he was elected Fel- with the rigor of exclusive taste. The versification low in 1747. He entered into holy orders in 1754, is formed upon the best models, and the description, and, by the favor of the Earl of Holderness, was in many parts, is rich and vivid; but a general air presented to the valuable rectory of Ashton, York- of stiffness prevented it from attaining any conshire, and became Chaplain to His Majesty. Some siderable share of popularity. Some of his following poems which he printed gave him reputation, which poetic pieces express his liberal sentiments on politireceived a great accession from his dramatic poem cal subjects; and when the late Mr. Pitt came into of "Elfrida." By this piece, and his “Caractacus," power, being then the friend of a free constitution, which followed, it was his aim to attempt the resto- Mason addressed him in an “Ode," containing many ration of the ancient Greek chorus in tragedy; but patriotic and manly ideas. But being struck with this is so evidently an appendage of the infant and alarm at the unhappy events of the French revoluimperfect state of the drama, that a pedantic at- tion, one of his latest pieces was a “ Palinody to tachment to the ancients could alone suggest its re- Liberty." He likewise revived, in an improved vival. In 1756, he published a small collection of form, and published, Du Fresnoy's Latin poem on "Odes," which were generally considered as display- the Art of Painting, enriching it with additions furing more of the artificial mechanism of poetry, than nished by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and with a metrical of its genuine spirit. This was not the case with version. Few have been better executed than this, his "Elegies," published in 1763, which, abating which unites to great beauties of language a correct some superfluity of ornament, are in general marked representation of the original. His tribute to the
memory of Gray, being an edition of his poems, with some additions, and Memoirs of his Life and Writings, was favorably received by the public.
with the simplicity of language proper to this species of composition, and breathe noble sentiments of freedom and virtue. A collection of all his poems which he thought worthy of preserving, was published in 1764, and afterwards went through several editions. He had married an amiable lady, who died of a consumption in 1767, and was buried in the cathedral of Bristol, under a monument, on which are inscribed some very tender and beautiful lines, by her husband.
Mason died in April, 1797, at the age of seventytwo, in consequence of a mortification produced by a hurt in his leg. A tablet has been placed to his memory in Poets' Corner, in Westminster Abbey. His character in private life was exemplary for worth and active benevolence, though not without a degree of stateliness and assumed superiority of manner.
In 1772, the first book of Mason's "English Garden," a didactic and descriptive poem, in blank]
ODE TO MEMORY.
MOTHER of Wisdom! thou, whose sway
The throng'd ideal hosts obey;
Who bidd'st their ranks, now vanish, now appear,
Flame in the van, or darken in the rear;
Accept this votive verse. Thy reign
Nor place can fix, nor power restrain.
All, all is thine. For thee the ear, and eye,
Rove through the realms of grace, and harmony:
The senses thee spontaneous serve,
That wake, and thrill through ev'ry nerve.
Else vainly soft, lov'd Philomel! would flow
The soothing sadness of thy warbled woe:
Else vainly sweet yon woodbine shade
With clouds of fragrance fill the glade;
Vainly, the cygnet spread her downy plume,
The vine gush nectar, and the virgin bloom.
But swift to thee, alive and warm,
Devolves each tributary charm:
See modest Nature bring her simple stores,
Luxuriant Art exhaust her plastic powers;
While every flower in Fancy's clime,
Each gem of old heroic time,
Cull'd by the hand of the industrious Muse,
Around thy shrine their blended beams diffuse.
Hail, Mem'ry! hail. Behold, I lead
To that high shrine the sacred maid:
Thy daughter she, the empress of the lyre,
The first, the fairest, of Aonia's quire.
She comes, and lo, thy realms expand '
She takes her delegated stand
Full in the midst, and o'er thy num'rous train
Displays the awful wonders of her reign.
There thron'd supreme in native state,
If Sirius flame with fainting heat,
She calls; ideal groves their shade extend,
The cool gale breathes, the silent show'rs descend.
Or, if bleak Winter, frowning round,
Disrobe the trees, and chill the ground,
She, mild magician, waves her potent wand,
And ready summers wake at her command.
See, visionary suns arise
Through silver clouds and azure skies; See, sportive zephyrs fan the crisped streams; Through shadowy brakes light glance the sparkling
While, near the secret moss-grown cave, That stands beside the crystal wave, Sweet Echo, rising from her rocky bed, Mimics the feather'd chorus o'er her head.
Rise, hallow'd Milton! rise, and say, How, at thy gloomy close of day, How, when "deprest by age, beset with wrongs;" When "fall'n on evil days and evil tongues;" When darkness, brooding on thy sight, Exil'd the sov'reign lamp of light;
Say, what could then one cheering hope diffuse? What friends were thine, save Mem'ry and the Muse? Hence the rich spoils, thy studious youth Caught from the stores of ancient truth: Hence all thy classic wand'rings could explore, When rapture led thee to the Latian shore ;
Each scene, that Tyber's banks supplied; Each grace, that play'd on Arno's side; The tepid gales, through Tuscan glades that fly; The blue serene, that spreads Hesperia's sky;
Were still thine own; thy ample mind Each charm receiv'd, retain'd, combin'd. And thence "the nightly visitant," that came To touch thy bosom with her sacred flame,
Recall'd the long-lost beams of grace, That whilom shot from Nature's face, When God, in Eden, o'er her youthful breast Spread with his own right hand Perfection's gorgeous vest.
ODE TO INDEPENDENCY.
HERE, on my native shore reclin'd,
While silence rules this midnight hour,
I woo thee, Goddess! On my musing mind
Descend, propitious power!
And bid these ruffling gales of grief subside:
Bid my calm'd soul with all thy influence shine;
As yon chaste orb along this ample tide
Draws the long lustre of her silver line,
While the hush'd breeze its last weak whisper blows,
And lulls old Humber to his deep repose.
Come to thy vot'ry's ardent prayer, In all thy graceful plainness drest: No knot confines thy waving hair, No zone, thy floating vest; Unsullied honor decks thine open brow, And candor brightens in thy modest eye: Thy blush is warm content's ethereal glow; Thy smile is peace; thy step is liberty: Thou scatter'st blessings round with lavish hand, As Spring with careless fragrance fills the land.
Know, ye were form'd to range yon azure field,
In yon ethereal founts of bliss to lave:
Force then, secure in Faith's protecting shield,
Is this the bigot's rant? Away, ye vain,
The sting from Death, the vict'ry from the Grave
Your hopes, your fears, in doubt, in dullness steep
Go, soothe your souls in sickness, grief, or pain,
With the sad solace of eternal sleep.
Yet will I praise you, triflers as ye are,
More than those preachers of your fav'rite creed
Who proudly swell the brazen throat of war,
Who form the phalanx, bid the battle bleed;
Nor wish for more: who conquer, but to die.
Hear, Folly, hear, and triumph in the tale:
Like you, they reason; not, like you, enjoy
The breeze of bliss, that fills your silken sail:
On Pleasure's glitt'ring stream ye gaily steer
Your little course to cold oblivion's shore:
They dare the storm, and, through th' inclement year
Stem the rough surge, and brave the torrent's roar.
Is it for glory? that just Fate denies.
Chas'd by a charm still lovelier than the last.
That bell again! it tells us what she is:
Long must the warrior moulder in his shroud,
Ere from her trump the heav'n-breath'd accents rise
That lift the hero from the fighting crowd.
Is it his grasp of empire to extend?
On what she was, no more the strain prolong :
Luxuriant fancy, pause: an hour like this
Demands the tribute of a serious song,
Maria claims it from that sable bier,
To curb the fury of insulting foes?
Ambition, cease: the idle contest end:
Where cold and wan the slumberer rests her head; And why must murder'd myriads lose their all, "Tis but a kingdom thou canst win or lose.
In still small whispers to reflection's ear,
She breathes the solemn dictates of the dead. Oh catch the awful notes, and lift them loud;
(If life be all,) why desolation lower, With famish'd frown, on this affrighted ball,
Proclaim the theme, by sage, by fool rever'd: Hear it, ye young, ye vain, ye great, ye proud!
That thou may'st flame the meteor of an hour? Go wiser ye, that flutter life away,
"Tis Nature speaks, and Nature will be heard. Yes, ye shall hear, and tremble as ye hear, While, high with health, your hearts uxulting leap; Yet know, vain sceptics, know, th' Almighty mind, Ev'n in the midst of Pleasure's mad career,
Crown with the mantling juice the goblet high; Weave the light dance, with festive freedom gay, And live your moment, since the next ye die.
The mental monitor shall wake and weep.
For say, than****'s propitious star,
Who breath'd on man a portion of his fire,
Bade his free soul, by earth nor time confin'd
To Heav'n, to immortality aspire.
What brighter planet on your births arose :
Or gave of Fortune's gifts an ampler share,
In life to lavish, or by death to lose!
Early to lose; while, borne on busy wing,
Nor shall the pile of hope, his mercy rear'd,
By vain philosophy be e'er destroy'd :
Eternity, by all or wish'd or fear'd,
Shall be by all or suffer'd or enjoy'd.
Ye sip the nectar of each varying bloom:
Nor fear, while basking in the beams of spring,
ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF A LADY. THE midnight clock has toll'd; and hark, the bell Of death beats slow! heard ye the note profound? It pauses now; and now, with rising knell,
Flings to the hollow gale its sullen sound. Yes, **** is dead. Attend the strain,
Daughters of Albion! Ye that, light as air, So oft have tript in her fantastic train,
With hearts as gay, and faces half as fair: For she was fair beyond your brightest bloom;
(This envy owns, since now her bloom is fled ;) Fair as the forms, that, wove in fancy's loom,
Float in light vision round the poet's head. Whene'er with soft serenity she smil'd,
Or caught the orient blush of quick surprise,
How sweetly mutable, how brightly wild,
The liquid lustre darted from her eyes!
Each look, each motion, wak'd a new-born grace,
That o'er her form its transient glory cast:
Some lovelier wonder soon usurp'd the place,
The wintry storm that sweeps you to the tomb.
Think of her fate! revere the heav'nly hand
That led her hence, though soon, by steps so slow:
Long at her couch Death took his patient stand,
And menac'd oft, and oft withheld the blow:
To give reflection time, with lenient art,
Each fond delusion from her soul to steal;
Teach her from folly peaceably to part,
And wean her from a world she lov'd so well.
Say, are ye sure his mercy shall extend
To you so long a span? Alas, ye sigh:
Make then, while yet ye may, your God, your friend,
And learn with equal ease to sleep or die!
Nor think the Muse, whose sober voice ye hear,
Contracts with bigot frown her sullen brow;
Casts round Religion's orb the mists of fear,
Or shades with horrors, what with smiles should
No; she would warm you with seraphic fire,
Heirs as ye are of Heav'n's eternal day;
Would bid you boldly to that Heav'n aspire,
Not sink and slumber in your cells of clay.
EPITAPH ON MRS. MASON.
IN THE CATHEDRAL OF BRISTOL.
TAKE, holy earth! all that my soul holds dear:
Take that best gift which Heav'n so lately gave To Bristol's fount I bore with trembling care
Her faded form; she bow'd to taste the wave, And died. Does youth, does beauty, read the line? Does sympathetic fear their breasts alarm? Speak, dead Maria! breathe a strain divine:
Ev'n from the grave thou shalt have power to charm.
Bid them be chaste, be innocent, like thee;
Bid them in duty's sphere as meekly move;
And if so fair, from vanity as free;
As firm in friendship, and as fond in love.
Tell them, though 'tis an awful thing to die,
("Twas ev'n to thee) yet the dread path once trod Heav'n lifts its everlasting portals high,
And bids "the pure in heart behold their God."
WILLIAM COWPER, a poet of distinguished and Olney in Buckinghamshire, which was thenceforth
original genius, was born in 1731, at Great Berk- the principal place of Cowper's residence. At
hampstead in Hertfordshire. His father, the rector Olney he contracted a close friendship with the
of the parish, was John Cowper, D. D., nephew of Rev. Mr. Newton, then minister there, and since
Lord Chancellor Cowper. The subject of this me- rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, London, whose reli-
morial was educated at Westminster school, where gious opinions were in unison with his own.
he acquired the classical knowledge and correctness collection of hymns published by him, Cowper con-
of taste for which it is celebrated, but without any tributed a considerable number of his own composi
portion of the confident and undaunted spirit which tion. He first became known to the public as a
is supposed to be one of the most valuable acquisi-poet by a volume printed in 1782, the contents of
tions derived from the great schools, to those who which, if they did not at once place him high in the
are to push their way in the world. On the con- scale of poetic excellence, sufficiently established his
trary, it appears from his poem entitled "Tirocini- claim to originality. Its topics are, “Table Talk,”
um," that the impressions made upon his mind from "Error," "Truth," " Expostulation," "Hope," "Char-
what he witnessed in this place, were such as gave ity," "Conversation," and "Retirement," all treated
him a permanent dislike to the system of public upon religious principles, and not without a consid-
education. Soon after his leaving Westminster, he erable tinge of that rigor and austerity which be-
was articled to a solicitor in London for three years; longed to his system. These pieces are written in
but so far from studying the law, he spent the great- rhymed heroics, which he commonly manages with
est part of his time with a relation, where he and little grace, or attention to melody. The style, though
the future Lord Chancellor (Lord Thurlow) spent often prosaic, is never flat or insipid; and sometimes
their time, according to his own expression," in gig- the true poet breaks through, in a vein of lively de-
gling, and making giggle." At the expiration of his scription or bold figure.
time with the solicitor, he took chambers in the
Temple, but his time was still little employed on
the law, and was rather engaged in classical pur-
suits, in which Coleman, Bonnel Thornton, and
Lloyd, seem to have been his principal associates.
If this volume excited but little of the public at-
tention, his next volume, published in 1785, intro-
duced his name to all the lovers of poetry, and gave
him at least an equality of reputation with any of
his contemporaries. It consists of a poem in six
Cowper's spirits were naturally weak; and when books, entitled "The Task," alluding to the injunc-
his friends had procured him a nomination to the tion of a lady, to write a piece in blank verse, for
offices of reading-clerk and clerk of the Private the subject of which she gave him The Sofa. It sets
Committees in the House of Lords, he shrunk with out, indeed, with some sportive discussion of this
such terror from the idea of making his appearance topic; but soon falls into a serious strain of rural
before the most august assembly in the nation, that description, intermixed with moral sentiments and
after a violent struggle with himself, he resigned his portraitures, which is preserved through the six
intended employment, and with it all his prospects books, freely ranging from thought to thought with
in life. In fact, he became completely deranged; no perceptible method. But as the whole poem will
and in this situation was placed, in December, 1763, here be found, it is unnecessary to enter into particu-
about the 32d year of his age, with Dr. Cotton, an lars. Another piece, entitled "Tirocinium, or a Re-
amiable and worthy physician at St. Alban's. This view of Schools," a work replete with striking ob-
agitation of his mind is placed by some who have servation, is added to the preceding; and several
mentioned it to the account of a deep consideration other pieces gleaned from his various writings will
of his state in a religious view, in which the terrors be found in the collection.
of eternal judgment so much overpowered his For the purpose of losing in employment the dis-
faculties, that he remained seven months in mo- tressing ideas which were ever apt to recur, he next
mentary expectation of being plunged into final undertook the real task of translating into blank
misery. Mr. Johnson, however, a near relation, has verse the whole of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. This
taken pains to prove to demonstration, that these work has much merit of execution, and is certainly
views of his condition were so far from producing a far more exact representation of the ancient poet
such an effect, that they ought to be regarded as his than Pope's ornamental version; but where simpli-
sole consolation. It appears, however, that his mind city of matter in the original is not relieved by the
had acquired such an indelible tinge of melancholy, force of sonorous diction, the poverty of English
that his whole successive life was passed with little blank verse has scarcely been able to prevent it from
more than intervals of comfort between long parox- sinking into mere prose. Various other translations
ysms of settled despondency.
denoted his necessity of seeking employment; but
nothing was capable of durably relieving his mind
After a residence of a year and a half with Dr.
Cotton, he spent part of his time at the house of from the horrible impressions it had undergone. He
his relation, Earl Cowper, and part at Huntingdon, passed some of his latter years under the affection-
with his intimate friend, the Rev. Mr. Unwin. The ate care of a relation at East Dereham, in Norfolk,
death of the latter caused his widow to remove to where he died on April 25th, 1800.