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That crown the solitary dome, arise;
Illustrious objects strike the gazer's mind
As from the cliff, that o'er his cavern hangs,
Of sunk magnificence! a blended scene
With toys of wanton mirth my fixed mind,
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 with the simplicity of language proper to this spe- memory of Gray, being an edition of his poems, cies of composition, and breathe noble sentiments of with some additions, and Memoirs of his Life and freedom and virtue. A collection of all his poems Writings, was favorably received by the public. 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
In 1772, the first book of Mason's "English Gar- manner. den," a didactic and descriptive poem, in blank|
ODE TO MEMORY.
MOTHER of Wisdom! thou, whose sway
Who bidd'st their ranks, now vanish, now appear,
Accept this votive verse. Thy reign
That wake, and thrill through ev'ry nerve.
Else vainly sweet yon woodbine shade
Vainly, the cygnet spread her downy plume,
Hail, Mem'ry! hail. Behold, I lead
She comes, and lo, thy realms expand'
Full in the midst, and o'er thy num'rous train
As now o'er this lone beach I stray,
There thron'd supreme in native state,
Through silver clouds and azure skies;
While, near the secret moss-grown cave,
Rise, hallow'd Milton! rise, and say,
When darkness, brooding on thy sight,
Each scene, that Tyber's banks supplied;
Were still thine own; thy ample mind
Recall'd the long-lost beams of grace,
ODE TO INDEPENDENCY.
HERE, on my native shore reclin'd,
And bid these ruffling gales of grief subside:
Come to thy vot'ry's ardent prayer,
And artless wove his Dorian lay,
Far from the busy throng.
Thou heard'st him, goddess, strike the tender string,
Soon these responsive shores forgot to ring,
And led the war 'gainst thine, and Freedom's foes.
Pointed with satire's keenest steel,
In vain oppression lifts her iron hand;
He scorns them both, and, arm'd with truth alone,
Behold, like him, immortal maid,
And fan them to that dazzling blaze of song,
"Fond youth! to Marvell's patriot fame,
And meet its fair reward in D'Arcy's smile.
"Tis he, my son, alone shall cheer
Thy sick'ning soul; at that sad hour,
At that sad hour, when all thy hopes decline;
This fragrant wreath, the Muses' meed,
Receive, thou favor'd son, at my command,
* Andrew Marvell, born at Kingston-upon-Hull in the year 1620.
† See The Rehearsal Transposed, and an account of the effect of that satire, in the Biographia Britannica, art. Marvell.
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 filed ;) 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, Chas'd by a charm still lovelier than the last. That bell again! it tells us what she is:
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,
Know, ye were form'd to range yon azure field,
Your hopes, your fears, in doubt, in dullness steep
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.
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?
To curb the fury of insulting foes? Ambition, cease: the idle contest end: "Tis but a kingdom thou canst win or lose.
Where cold and wan the slumberer rests her head; And why must murder'd myriads lose their all,
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;
Proclaim the theme, by sage, by fool rever'd: Hear it, ye young, ye vain, ye great, ye proud!
'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; Ev'n in the midst of Pleasure's mad career,
The mental monitor shall wake and weep.
What brighter planet on your births arose :
Ye sip the nectar of each varying bloom:
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
То 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 vice 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 glow.
No; she would warm you with seraphic fire,
(If life be all,) why desolation lower, With famish'd frown, on this affrighted ball,
That thou may'st flame the meteor of an hour? Go wiser ye, that flutter life away,
Crown with the mantling juice the goblet high; Weave the light dance, with festive freedom gay, Yet know, vain sceptics, know, th' Almighty mind, And live your moment, since the next ye die.
Who breath'd on man a portion of his fire,
Nor shall the pile of hope, his mercy rear'd,
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
Bid them be chaste, be innocent, like thee;
As firm in friendship, and as fond in love.
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 relimorial was educated at Westminster school, where gious opinions were in unison with his own. То а he acquired the classical knowledge and correctness collection of hymns published by him, Cowper conof taste for which it is celebrated, but without any tributed a considerable number of his own composiportion 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," "Charwhat 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 consideducation. Soon after his leaving Westminster, he erable tinge of that rigor and austerity which bewas 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 degling, 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 pursuits, in which Coleman, Bonnel Thornton, and Lloyd, seem to have been his principal associates.
If this volume excited but little of the public attention, his next volume, published in 1785, introduced 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 injunchis 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 particuabout the 32d year of his age, with Dr. Cotton, an lars. Another piece, entitled "Tirocinium, or a Reamiable and worthy physician at St. Alban's. This agitation of his mind is placed by some who have mentioned it to the account of a deep consideration of his state in a religious view, in which the terrors of eternal judgment so much overpowered his For the purpose of losing in employment the disfaculties, 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 simplisole 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
view of Schools," a work replete with striking observation, is added to the preceding; and several other pieces gleaned from his various writings will be found in the collection.
After a residence of a year and a half with Dr. nothing was capable of durably relieving his mind 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 affectionwith 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.