Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

*

*

*

*

wine, and, in the very thick of calamity, he would An elegant sufficiency, content, be happy for the time being."

Retireinent, rural quiet, friendship, books,

Ease and alternate labor, useful life, He speaks of the “godlike wisdom of the tem

Progressive virtue, and approving Heaven. pered breast,” and remarks—" to have always some secret, darling idea, to which one can still have re- And with genuine poetic pride, he sings: course, amidst the noise and nonsense of the world, and which never fails to touch us in the most ex

I care not Fortune what you me deny,

You cannot roh me of free Nature's grace; quisite manner, is an art of happiness that fortune

You cannot shut the windows of the sky, cannot deprive us of.”

Through which Aurora shows her brightening face ; The very diction of Thomson breathes a kind You cannot bar my constant feet to trace of luxurious serenity. The opening stanzas of the

The woods or lawn, by living stream at ere;

Let health my nerves and finer fibres brace, Castle of Indolence present a scene of dreamy re

And I their toys to the great children leare : pose, which soothes and wins the fancy like an

Or fancy, reason, virtue nought can me bereave. Eastern tale.

The tragedies and several minor efforts of ThomHere naught but candor reigns, indulgent ease,

son are now quite neglected; and he is reinemGood-natur'd lounging, sauntering up and down : They who are pleased themselves must always please;

bered by two poems only. The reflective portions On other's ways they never squint or frown,

of these works are unexceptionable as regards the Nor heed what haps in bamlet or in town.

principles and motives inculcated. There is often

a pure vein of devotion and patriotic feeling, which What, what is virtue, but repose of mind,

imparts the most pleasing impression of the poet's A pure ethereal calm, that knows no storm;

views and character, and sufficiently accounts for Above the reach of wild ambition's wind, Above those passions that this world deform?

the warm personal estimation in which he was held.

The “ Seasons" ranks high in English poetry, The following is a friend's description of Thom-chiefly from its descriptive fidelity. If an inhabison inserted in his own poem :

tant of this planet were suddenly transferred to

another sphere where an entirely different order of A bard here dwelt, more fat than bard beseems,

things prevailed, this poem would forever preserve Who void of envy, guile, and lust of gain, On virtue still, and Nature's pleasing themes,

to his mind a vivid picture of the earth he has Pour'd forth his unpremeditated strain :

quitted. Thomson seems to have proceeded most The world forsaking with a calm disdain,

conscientiously in his genial task. He has indited Here laugh'd he careless in his easy seat;

an artist-like and correct nomenclature of the pheHere quaffed encircled with the joyous train,

nomena of Nature. For the most part the ** SeaOft moralizing sage; his ditty sweet,

sons" is a narrative of physical facts, familiar to He loathed much to write, he cared not to repeat.

every one. This explains the attractiveness of the The blank-verse of the “Seasons" has none of the poem. We are ever delighted with a true reprelofty effort of Milton, nor the passionate force so sentation of whatever interests us. It requires as common in Shakspeare. It is flowing and free. introspective mind to appreciate the grand portraiWe perceive, indeed, a careful selection of words, tures of human passion and experience; but the and are sometimes conscious of a studied construc- graphic delineation of sensible objects appeals to tion. But, generally speaking, the language of universal observation. Hence the popularity of Thomson is diffuse. His native idleness tinctures Thomson. He has faithfully traced the various his poetic style. Perhaps its peculiar charm con- changes consequent upon the varying Year. The sists in the facility and unfettered course of the alternate vocation of husbandry, the successive rhythm. One reason, however, of the vagueness sports which beguile the monotony of country life, of the impression we derive from his poetry, is the the drought and the freshet, the snow-storm and prolixity of the language. Several times in the the spring morning, the midsummer noon and the course of this poem, occurs the word “amusive"

winter night, have found in him a graceful chronian epithet which admirably serves to designate the cler. His pages recall at once and with singular character of Thomson's verse.

life the associations of the Seasons. Beyond this, Although, for the most part, the bard of the “Sea- they have no very strong hold upon the feelings. sons,” was a passive recipient of poetical influences, We derive from them few powerful impressions. rather than a devoted worshipper and enthusiastic Their influence is pleasing, but vague. There is student, let us fully recognize the worth of such a remarkable repose in the strain. It is more like poetry. There is a meditative interest and quiet the agreeable lassitude of a summer afternoon, than morality interwoven with its pictures. In accor- the clear excitement of an autumn morning. The dance with cast of mind, Thomson deemed se- tasteful diction is often cold; and were it not for cluded ease infinitely preferable to the “ weary the digressions which the poet makes to express labyrinth of state,” or the "smooth barbarity of occasionally some cherished feeling, we should courts.” His essentials of happiness were often find him rather tame and business-like. But

the amiable and excellent sentiments he displays, folding thee in her far-reaching presence, shall
the overflowing kindness of his heart, and the pen- shed her dewy calmness upon thy soul, and shall
sive morality scattered among his descriptions, soothe and comfort thee like the words of a loved
serve to enliven them with something of a personal one.
and tender attractive hue.
I cannot go

A FRAGMENT.
Where universal Love smiles not around,
Sustaining all yon orbs and all their sons ;

They were sitting by the light of a fire, in the From seeming evil still educing good ;

twilight hour; and around them, in the room, there And hetter thence again, and better still

was that mystic appearance, which ever accompaIn infinite progression.

nies such an hour, in such a place. The shadows The scholar, the friend and the idle dreamer, ap- continually changing with the flickerings of the pear as conspicuously as the bard. The very fa- fire, moved through the room like dim phantoms; miliarity of the scenes and circumstances, to which and the very sound of the wood fire's wavering the poem is devoted, is attractive. It is worthy of fame, was mystic. And over her beautiful counnote, that we are as easily interested by what is tenance, now revealing it wholly, now partially, exceedingly familiar, as by the novel and extraor- came that magic light, as she gazed pensively on dinary. If a writer does not “o'erstep the modesty the fire; shadowing forth in her face, the dim meof nature,” we like him all the better for treating lancholy of heart, and the looking into the vast and of what is very near to us. The curiosity of the shadowy past, and the veiled future, which then multitude is not extensive. The most universal

were there. There they sat together: he talked sympathy is that devoted to what is adjacent. to her in his low, spiritual, sweet voice, of past Cervantes rose to fame by describing the manners times, of all they had mutually undergone and felt, of his own country. There are hundreds who fol- though not intimate at that time, yet, in the same low Thomson with delight over the every-day place and scenes. And thus was she girt, as with scenes of the earth, to one who soars with Milton

an ataiosphere of all the feelings springing from beyond its confines. Hence it has been said that the contemplation of the past. The mystic hour " the Seasons look best a little torn and dog's- unclosed her heart; and free from all but tender eared;" and a man of genins who saw a copy in emotions, it was open to him, who with his low this condition on the window-seat of an ale-house, voice, thus exhibited before her, so much in which exclaimed—“ this is fame!” Paul Jones was a de- they sympathized. And when he went on in that voted lover of this poem. What a contrast must

same hour, gradually to declare his deep love for its peaceful beauty have presented to the scenes of her, overcome by the tenderness of her emotions, violence and danger in which he delighted!

at the time, she plighted him her affections. The varying popularity of celebrated works is

Williamsburg, Va.

G. to be accounted for principally by their distance or vicinity to the associations of each age. We sometimes yawn over Ariosto's battles and knights, THE OLD NEW-ENGLAND MEETING-HOUSE. while we are often kindled and charmed by Childe Harold. Chivalric enterprises belong to the past ; but a tour through Switzerland and Italy, is among

They all are passing from the land,

Those churches old and gray, the common achievements of the day. And thus

In which our fathers used to stand Thomson is indebted to his faithful pictures of

In years gone by to prayNature's annual decay and renovation, for his con- They never knelt, those stern old men, tinued estimation as a poet.

Who worship'd at our Altars then. “ Remembrance oft shall haunt the shore,

No, all that e'en the semblance bore
When Thames in summer-wreaths is drest,

Of popedom on its face,
And oft suspend the dripping oar,

Our fathers, as the men of yore,
To bid his gentle spirit rest.”

Spurned from the holy place--
They bow'd the heart alone in prayer,
And worship'd God thus sternly there.

And there was one, my mind recalls,
GRIEF.

Where, when a little child,

I mark'd with awe its old gray walls ; 0! if thy heart be full of grief and despair, go And breathed, all fresh and wild forth in the twilight, under the leaves of the forest; Such prayers as reach the holy throne, for the breeze fanning softly these leaves, shall

From childhood's trusting lips alone. whisper a soothing unto thee: the stars shining

It was a church, low-built and square, through their interstices, shall shed their own

With belfry perched on high,

And no unseemnly carvings there brightness upon thy soul-telling thee that all

To shock the pious eyeearthly things pass quickly away; that the hea

That belfry was a modest thing, vens only, are eternally bright, and the night in- In which a bell was meant to swing.

BY MRS. SEBA SMITH.

I say was meant for never there

Church-going bell" was heard
No long-drawn peal to call to prayer

Disturb'd the forest bird
The wind through its small arches rung,
But never there a bell was hung.
Through coarse gray plaster might be seen

Oak timbers large and strong, And those who reared them must have been

Stout men when they were youngFor oft I've heard my grandsire speak, How men were growing thin and weak. The frosts of eighty years have passed

Upon that grandsire's headHe seems a fine old relic cast

From days that long have fled;
Alas that he should see the day,
That rent those oaken planks away.
His heart was twined, I do believe,

Round every timber there-
For memory loved a web to weave

Of all the young and fair,
Who gather'd there with him to pray
For many a long, long Sabbath day.
He saw again his youthful bride-

His white-hair'd boys once more
All walk'd demurely side by side,

As in those days of yore.
Alas! those boys are old and gray,
And she hath pass'd in death away.
It stood, like many a country church,

Upon a spacious green;
Whence style and bye-path go in search

Of cot the hills between.
The rudest boor that turf would spare,
And turn aside his teem with care.
I smile, with no satiric smile,

As I each group review,
That came by many a long, long mile

In garments fresh and new;
The Sunday dress, the Sunday air,
The thorough-greased and Sunday hair.
The straight, stiff walk, with Sunday suit,

The squeaking leathern shoe,
The solemn air of man and brute,

As each the Sabbath knew;
The conscious air as pass'd the maid,
The swains collected in the shade.

That sounding-board ! to me it seem'd

A cherub poised on high-
A mystery I almost deem'd

Quite hid from vulgar eye;
And that old Pastor, wrapt in prayer,
Look'd doubly awful ’neath it there.
I see it all once more; once more

That lengthend prayer I hear-
I hear the child's foot kick the door-

I see the mother's fear--
And that long knotty sermon too,
My grandsire heard it all quite through.
But as it deeper grew, and deep-

He always used to rise-
He would not, like the women, sleep-

But stood with fixed eyes,
And look intent upon the floor,
To hear each dark point o'er and o'er.
Hard thinkers were they, those old men,

And patient too, I ween-
Long words and knolty questions then

But made our fathers keen.
I doubt me if their sons would bear
Such lengthy sermons year by year.
But all are passing fast away-

Those abstruse thinkers too
Old churches, with their walls of gray,

Must yield to something new-
Be-Gothic'd things, all neat and white,
Greet every where the traveller's sight.
And stern old men with hearts of oak,

Their bed-room pews must quit,
And like degenerate, common folk,

In cushion'd slip must sit'T'was sacrilege most monstrous, vile, To tear away that old oak pile. 'Twas sound in every joint and sill,

I've heard my grandsire say-
And hard they work'd with right good-will,

To pull its planks away.
Young men were they, who little cared
How old men felt--how old men fared.
Ay, pull them down, as well ye may,

Those Altars stern and old-
They speak of those long-pass'd away,

Whose ashes now are cold.
Few, few are now the strong-arm'd men,
Who worship'd at our Altars then.
And they reproach you with their might,

The pious, proud and free-
The wise in council, strong in fight,

Who never bow'd the knee.
And those gray churches only stand
As emblems of that hardy band.
Then pull them down, and rear on high

New-fangled, painted things-
For these but mock the modern eye,

The past around them rings.
Then pull them down and upward rear,
A pile like those who worship here.
Not stern and simple like the race
· Now passing fast away,
But painted, varnish'd tbings in place,

Like those who come to pray-
Who keep the outward form with zeal-
Forget the heart, but learn to kneel.

The females enter straight the door,

And talk with those within--
The elders on town matters pore,

Nor deem it deadly sin.
And now the Pastor, grave and slow,
Along the aisle is seen to go.
Down Jrop the children from the seat,

The groups disperse around-
Pew doors-are slam'd, and gathering feet

Give out a busy soundThe sounding pipe and viol string No longer through the old church ring. I do remember with what awe

That pulpit fillid mine eye,
As through the balusters I saw

The sounding-board on bigh.
Those balusters!-a childish crime--
Alas! I've squeak'd in sermon time.

It may,

REFLECTIONS

sacres on Sunday were produced, is a subject

well worthy of inquiry; for the presence of such SUGGESTED BY THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. feelings as theirs, when they pervade masses, most

[We recommend this article to the careful attention of deeply affects all calculations on the destiny of manthe reader, as the production of a highly gifted and philo- kind. We will offer some reflections, by as brief sophical mind.)- Ed. Mess.

an examination of those principles of the human No event of modern times—perhaps no circum- character which relate to the subject, as we are stance in the history of our species, excited more

able to present. deeply the attention of mankind than the French There is a propensity strong in all men to be inRevolution. The extraordinary moral phenomena terestingly occupied. It is the indulgence of this it exhibited, astounded those who, accustomed to feeling that gives to life its chief enjoyment, and contemplate the current of civilized society under its disappointment is attended with a strong sense the influence of other agents, were utterly unpre

of dissatisfaction and suffering. The feeling which pared to expect them. The revolutions of other is called ennui by the French, is the peculiar countries, such as those of England and the Uni- misery suffered when nothing is offered that exted States of America, proceeded with a respect cites us—when the soul recoils on itself, and the for life and property, and terminated in changes eye exhibits the stare of the languid. which left every class in society in a situation not without violence, be called the hunger of the soul ; radically different from their original state. But and is, of all the incentives to human action, the in France, as the revolution advanced, every thing most constant, and the most imperative. Man is belonging to the old system was destroyed; whole only occasionally under the dominion of other inclasses were swept away, and everything sub- fluences, but this is unceasingly urgent throughverted that the hand of man could overturn.

out the whole of his earthly career. The sensaThe remorseless disregard of human life and tion is thus strikingly described by one who felt happiness, among those who professed to be

its pecu

power: liarly the friends of humanity and liberty, excited

“ The keenest pangs the wretched find, wonder and horror in all reflecting men, and led Are rapture to the dreary void, many to believe there were qualities in the French The leafless desert of the mind, character which marked it as different from that of

The waste of feelings unemployed. the rest of our race.

Who would be doomed to gaze upon
Deep prejudices against
France pervaded the civilized world, operative to

The sky without a cloud or sun?

Less hideous far the tempest's roar, this hour, and weighing heavily on the progress of Than ne'er to brave the billows more." amelioration, which the institutions of past ages so loudly demand. Of the writers of that period, Mr. A feeling so urgent was doubtless intended to Burke said: “Their object is to corrupt all that is make man an active being, and to render a life of good in man—to eradicate his immortal soul—to absolute indolence intolerable. The savage, under dethrone God from the universe. They are the its influence, rushes to the stirring scenes of war brood of that putrid carcass—that mother of all or the chase, or to draughts of inebriating liquors evil, the French Revolution. I never think of that when within his reach, and to the excesses of gaplague-spot in the history of mankind, without ming, to shake off the burden it imposes.(3) Civishuddering."(1)

lized nations have devised many methods for their Of this wonderful revolution much has been writ- relief in private and public amusements, but with ten, both by natives of France and foreigners, but very partial success, as those most conversant no attempt to explain its awful atrocities has been with them have testified. In the gay scenes of made, that we have seen, that is at all satisfactory Paris, the witty and admired Madame Du Deffand, to us. M. Thiers, one of the most popular of its although surrounded for many years by the most historians, merely says, in describing the most brilliant and accomplished society, complains inwanton and unprovoked massacre at the Bicetre cessantly of the insufficiency of the scenes around prison, which closed the hurrid tragedies of Sep- her to procure happiness. With a sensibility worn tember 1792: “The monsters who poured out below the point of pleasurable excitement from all blood since Sunday, became enraged by this horri- that wit or talent could offer, she is constantly ble undertaking, and contracted a habit which they complaining of the absence of interested feelings, could not discontinue."(2)

as the misery of life. “True happiness,” she exHow the monsters who commenced the mas- claims, “is to be exempt from ennui; all that pre(1) Life of Sir James Melntosh-vol. 1, p. 94. London: serves us from it is equally good.”(4) And says

(2)Les etres monstrueux qui versaient le sang depuis le Di- (3) See Tacitus De Moribus Germanorum, and Robertson manche, s'étaient achamés a cette horrible tâche, et en

on the American Indians. avaient contracté une habitude qu'ils ne pouvaient plus in. (4) Vol 1, p. 139: Letters of Madame Du Deffand to the terrompre.--His. de la Rev. Francaise. Tom. 2, p. 334. Honorable Horace Walpole. London : 1810.

1836.

Vol. VII—77

again, bitterly: “ It is to die every day, to live with- “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto." out loving any thing."(5)

But there is another feeling which springs up and To love nothing-to feel interest in nothing, is unites with this sentiment of excited attention, truly the misery of life; but fortunately for human which is all important to its useful exercise. It is nature this will not happen, unless the feelings the sentiment of love; and it prompts us to make have been misused. Nature has implanted in man the exertions which an awakened attention points a deep interest in the affairs of the world of which out as necessary. Wherever pain of any kind exhe is an inhabitant; and as long as he makes a ists, the effort to relieve is prompted by the love proper use of his sensibility, the scenes around him we entertain for the object; and far the greater will always engage his attention.

part of the strong emotions, such as most decidedly Among the objects that naturally attract him, draw the observation of others, are more or less the manifestation in others of feelings, to which he mingled with pain. is himself subject, are of the first order. Wonder

In the dangers of our friends, we rush readily to may stare at the phenomena of inanimate nature, the rescue. In the dangers and distresses of enbut the interest of the scene becomes infinitely tire strangers, our feeling would be in proportion to deeper when human beings are involved in it. A the general sense of humanity we may entertain, vessel suffering shipwreck would attract attention; but far feebler than in the case of friends. But if but how immeasurably would the anxiety of the all feeling of love or humanity were extinct, the moment be increased, if we were to be informed distresses of others would merely awaken our atthat there were human beings on board ? How tention, without calling forth any desire to reliere. deeply would we sympathize with the various emo- The idea may be illustrated by the following estions to which we might suppose their situation ample, as the feeling towards the inferior animals gave rise! An earthquake or a volcano would al- differs only in degree, not in kind, from that we ways affect us deeply; but the interest would be entertain towards men: The sportsman pursues greatly heightened, if informed that beings of the fox with pleasure, and the harder the animal our race were within their destructive influence is pressed, the more delightful is the chase. But Whatever strongly moves human passions in others, were he to discover that it was a favorite dog presents to us objects of interest. It is thus that who was the object of pursuit, and in imminent the incidents of life are attractive—that history and danger of destruction, and not the fox as he at romance engage us, and the representations of the first supposed, his pleasure would instantly vanish; drama afford amusement to persons of every con- he would hasten to throw himself between the par. dition.

suers and the pursued, in order to rescue from deNor do we sympathize only with the emotions struction what he had just before anxiously soeght of our own species. The manifestation in other to ruin. Or, if a person could be the spectator of animals, of emotion, to which we are subject, acts an engagement between the armies of two nations, upon us with similar but with not so powerful an who were strangers to him, from some commandeffect. The gratitude of the dog has furnished ing eminence, the scene would deeply engage his many an interesting story. The conjugal love of attention, without however exciting any desire to the dove has been made the theme of poetry; and mingle in it. But if one of the armies consisted the wrath of the lion and the tiger, so terrible in the of his own countrymen, his feelings would assume forest, has been made subservient to the amusement a much more intense character, and, if he sere a of multitudes, in the games of the amphitheatre. brave man, he would rush to their assistance.

It would seem consonant to the wisdom of na- Still more anxious would he be to lend his aid, if ture, that man should be most attracted by what many of his own personal friends and relations most concerns his happiness and safety. The were struggling in the conflict. emotions of his fellow-beings are preëminently of It is this feeling of excited interest in the trying that character, and they are of the first order of scenes of other beings, connected with a feeling of interest. Without an attention to, and a knowledge good will towards them, prompting to sympathy of them, we could not exist at all; we should be with their emotions, and to assistance in their disperpetually running into dangers that would be tresses, which constitute the social principle, and fatal. Our attention seems, consequently, called form the cement of society. Without an aptitude forth to such agents in the earliest stage of in- to be excited by the manifestation of all the stirfancy. The child instinctively recognizes the an- ring passions incident to humanity, we should pass gry or the affectionate feelings of its nurse, in the them without notice : and without a sentiment of changes of the countenance, or in the tones of the love, we would experience no disposition to reliere. voice : and the attention, thus early awakened, is Man would be in this world an insulated being, redestined to continue through life. In the language ceiving no aid from his fellows, and, having less of the Latin poet

bodily resources for subistence than other animals, (5) Vol. 3, p. 133 : Letters of Madame Du Deffand to the would very speedily disappear from the earth. Honorable Horace Walpole. London: 1810.

Without the principle of love, he would be the

« НазадПродовжити »