Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

In rainy days keep double guard,
Or spleen will surely be too hard ;
Which, like those fish by sailors met,
Fly highest while their wings are wet.
In such dull weather, so unfit
To enterprise a work of wit;
When clouds one yard of azure sky,
That's fit for simile, deny,
I dress my face with studious looks,
And shorten tedious hours with books.
But if dull fogs invade the head,
That memory minds not what is read,
I sit in window dry as ark,
And on the drowning world remark:
Or to some coffeehouse I stray
For news, the manna of a day,
And from the hipped discourses gather,
That politics go by the weather. *

Sometimes I dress, with women sit,
And chat away the gloomy fit;
Quit the stiff garb of serious sense, .
And wear a gay impertinence,
Nor think nor speak with any pains,
But lay on fancy's neck the reins. *

Law, licensed breaking of the peace,
To which vacation is disease;
A gipsy diction scarce known well
By the magi, who law-fortunes tell,
I shun; nor let it breed within
Anxiety, and that the spleen.

I never game, and rarely bet,
Am loath to lend or run in debt.
No Compter-writs me agitate;
Who moralising pass the gate,
And there mine eyes on spendthrifts turn,
Who vainly o’er their bondage mourn.
Wisdom, before beneath their care,
Pays her upbraiding visits there,
And forces folly through the grate
Her panegyric to repeat.
This view, profusely when inclined,
Enters a caveat in the mind :
Experience, joined with common sense,
To mortals is a providence.
Reforming schemes are none of mine;
To mend the world's a vast design :
Like theirs, who tug in little boat
To pull to them the ship afloat,
While to defeat their laboured end,
At once both wind and stream contend:
Success herein is seldom seen,
And zeal, when baffled, turns to spleen.

Happy the man, who, innocent,
Grieves not at ills he can't prevent;
His skiff does with the current glide,
Not puffing pulled against the tide.
He, paddling by the scuffling crowd,
Sees unconcerned life’s wager rowed,
And when he can't prevent foul play,
Enjoys the folly of the fray.
Yet philosophic love of ease
I suffer not to prove disease,
But rise up in the virtuous cause
Of a free press, and equal laws. * *

Since disappointment galls within,
And subjugates the soul to spleen,
Most schemes, as money snares, I hate,
And bite not at projector's bait.
Sufficient wrecks appear each day,
And yet fresh fools are cast away.
Ere well the bubbled can turn round,
Their painted vessel runs aground;
Or in deep seas it oversets
By a fierce hurricane of debts;
Or helm-directors in one trip,
Freight first embezzled, sink the ship. * *

When Fancy tries her limning skill
To draw and colour at her will,
And raise and round the figures well,
And show her talent to excel,
I guard my heart, lest it should woo
Unreal beauties Fancy drew,
And, disappointed, feel despair
At loss of things that never were.

[Contentment—A Wish.]
Forced by soft violence of prayer,
The blithsome goddess soothes my care;
I feel the deity inspire,
And thus she models my desire :
Two hundred pounds half-yearly paid,
Annuity securely made,
A farm some twenty miles from town,
Small, tight, salubrious, and my own;
Two maids that never saw the town,
A šerving-man not quite a clown,
A boy to help to tread the mow,
And drive, while t'other holds the plough;
A chief, of temper formed to please,
Fit to converse and keep the keys;
And better to preserve the peace,
Commissioned by the name of niece;
With understandings of a size,
To think their master very wise.
May heaven (it's all I wish for) send
One genial room to treat a friend,
Where decent cupboard, little plate,
Display benevolence, not state.
And may my humble dwelling stand
Upon some chosen spot of land :
A pond before full to the brim,
Where cows may cool, and geese may swim;
Behind, a green, like velvet n
Soft to the eye, and to the feet;
Where odorous plants in evening fair
Breathe all around ambrosial air;
From Eurus, foe to kitchen ground,
Fenced by a slope with bushes crowned,
Fit dwelling for the feathered throng,
Who pay their quit-rents with a song;
With opening views of hill and dale,
Which sense and fancy do regale,
Where the half-cirque, which vision bounds,
Like amphitheatre surrounds :
And woods impervious to the breeze,
Thick phalanx of embodied trees ;
From hills through plains in dusk array,
Extended far, repel the day;
Here stillness, height, and solemn shade,
Invite, and contemplation aid :
Here nymphs from hollow oaks relate
The dark decrees and will of fate;
And dreams, beneath the spreading beech
Inspire, and docile fancy teach ;
While soft as breezy breath of wind,
Impulses rustle through the mind:
Here Dryads, scorning Phoebus' ray,
While Pan melodious pipes away,
In measured motions frisk about,
Till old Silenus puts them out.
There see the clover, pea, and bean,
Vie in variety of green ;
Fresh pastures speckled o'er with sheep,
Brown fields their fallow Sabbaths keep,
Plump Ceres golden tresses wear,
And poppy top-knots deck her hair,
And silver streams through meadows stray,
And Naiads on the margin play,
And lesser nymphs on side of hills,
From plaything urns pour down the rills.

Thus sheltered free from care and strife, May I enjoy a calm through life;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

See faction, safe in low degree,
As men at land see storms at sea,
And laugh at miserable elves,
Not kind, so much as to themselves,
Cursed with such souls of base alloy,
As can possess, but not enjoy ;
Debarred the pleasure to impart
By avarice, sphincter of the heart ;
Who wealth, hard earned by guilty cares,
Bequeath untouched to thankless heirs;
May I, with look ungloomed by guile,
And wearing virtue's livery-smile,
Prone the distressed to relieve,
And little trespasses forgive;
With income not in fortune's power,
And skill to make a busy hour;
With trips to town, life to amuse,
To purchase books, and hear the news,
To see old friends, brush off the clown,
And quicken taste at coming down,
Unhurt by sickness' blasting rage,
And slowly mellowing in age,
When fate extends its gathering gripe,
Fall off like fruit grown fully ripe,
Quit a worn being without pain,
Perhaps to blossom soon again.

ANNE, COUNTESS OF WINCHELSEA. It is remarkable,' says Mr Wordsworth, that excepting The Nocturnal Reverie, and a passage or two in the Windsor Forest of Pope, the poetry of the period intervening between the publication of “Paradise Lost” and the “ Seasons," does not contain a single new image of external nature.' The * Nocturnal Reverie' was written by ANNE, COUNTESS OF WINCHELSEA, the daughter of Sir William Kingsmill, Southampton, who died in 1720. Her lines are smoothly versified, and possess a tone of calm and contemplative observation :

A Nocturnal Reverie. In such a night, when every louder wind Is to its distant cavern safe confined, And only gentle zephyr fans his wings, And lonely Philomel still waking sings; Or from some tree, famed for the owl's delight, She, holloaing clear, directs the wanderer right: In such a night, when passing clouds give place, Or thinly veil the heaven's mysterious face; When in some river overhung with green, The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen ; When freshened grass pow bears itself upright, And makes cool banks to pleasing rest invite, Whence springs the woodbine, and the bramble rose, And where the sleepy cowslip sheltered grows; Whilst now a paler hue the foxglove takes, Yet chequers still with red the dusky brakes; When scattered glow-worms, but in twilight tine, Show trivial beauties watch their hour to shine; Whilst Salisbury stands the test of every light, In perfect charms and perfect virtue bright: When odours which declined repelling day, Through temperate air uninterrupted stray ; When darkened groves their softest shadows wear, And falling waters we distinctly hear; When through the gloom more venerable shows Some ancient fabric, awful in repose ; While sunburnt hills their swarthy looks conceal, And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale: When the loosed horse now, as his pasture leads, Comes slowly grazing through the adjoining mcads, Whose stealing pace and lengthened shade we fear, Till torn-up foraye in his teeth we hear; When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food, And unmolested kine rechew the cud;

When curlews cry beneath the village walls,
And to her straggling brood the partridge calls;
Their short-lived jubilee the creatures keep,
Which but endures whilst tyrant man does sleep;
When a sedate content the spirit feels,
And no fierce light disturbs, whilst it reveals;
But silent musings urge the mind to seek
Something too high for syllables to speak;
Till the free soul to a composedness charned,
Finding the elements of rage disarmed,
O’er als below a solemn quiet grown,
Joys in the inferior world, and thinks it like her own :
In such a night let me abroad remain,
Till morning breaks, and all's confused again;
Our cares, our toils, our clamours are renewed,
Or pleasures seldom reached again pursued.

The following is another specimen of the correct and smooth versification of the countess, and scems to us superior to the · Nocturnal Reverie :

Life's Progress.
How gaily is at first begun

Our life's uncertain race!
Whilst yet that sprightly morning sun,
With which we just set out to run,

Enlightens all the place.
How smiling the world's prospect lies,

How tempting to go through!
Not Canaan to the prophet's eyes,
From Pisgah, with a sweet surprise,

Did more inviting show.
How soft the first ideas prove

Which wander through our minds !
How full the joys, how free the love,
Which does that early season move,

As flowers the western winds !
Our sighs are then but vernal air,

But April drops our tears,
Which swiftly passing, all grows fair,
Whilst beauty compensates our care,

And youth each vapour clears.
But oh! too soon, alas! we climb,

Scarce feeling we ascend
The gently-rising hill of Time,
From whence with grief we see that prime,

And all its sweetness end.
The die now cast, our station known,

Fond expectation past :
The thorns which former days had sown,
To crops of late repentance grown,

Through which we toil at last.
Whilst every care's a driving hari,

That helps to bear us down;
Which faded smiles no more can charm,
But every tear's a winter storm,

And every look's a frown,

[merged small][ocr errors]

His estate lay in Warwickshire, and brought him in £1500 per annum. He was generous, but extravagant, and died in distressed circumstances, plagued

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and threatened by wretches,' says Shenstone, that The important work. Me other joys invite;
are low in every sense, and forced to drink himself | The horn sonorous calls, the pack awaked,
into pains of the body to get rid of the pains of the Their matins chant, nor brook thy long delay.
mind.' He died in 1742, and was buried at Wot. My courser hears their voice ; see there with ears
ton, near Henley-on-Arden. •The Chase' is in And tail erect, neighing, he paws the ground;

Fierce rapture kindles in his reddening eyes,
And boils in every vein. As captive boys
Cowed by the ruling rod and haughty frowns
Of pedagogues severe, from their hard tasks,
If once dismissed, no limits can contain
The tumult raised within their little breasts,
But give a loose to all their frolic play;
So from their kennel rush the joyous pack;
A thousand wanton gaieties express
Their inward ecstacy, their pleasing sport
Once more indulged, and liberty restored.
The rising sun that o'er the horizon peeps,
As many colours from their glossy skins
Beaming reflects, as paint the various bow
When April showers descend. Delightful scene!
Where all around is gay ; men, horses, dogs ;
And in each smiling countenance appears
Fresh blooming health, and universal joy.

Somerville wrote a poetical address to Addison, on the latter purchasing an estate in Warwickshire. • In his verses to Addison,' says Johnson, the couplet which mentions Clio is written with the most exquisite delicacy of praise; it exhibits one of those happy strokes that are seldom attained.' Addison, it is well-known, signed his papers in the Spectator' with the letters forming the name of Clio. The

couplet which gratified Johnson so highly is as Urn erected by Shenstone to Somerville.

follows :blank verse, and contains practical instructions and

When panting virtue her last efforts made, admonitions to sportsmen. The following is an

You brought your Clio to the virgin's aid. animated sketch of a morning in autumn, prepara In welcoming Addison to the banks of Avon, Somtory to “throwing off the pack:'

erville does not scruple to place him above ShaksNow golden Autumn from her open lap

peare as a poet! Her fragrant bounties showers; the fields are shorn;

In heaven he sings; on earth your muse supplies Inwardly smiling, the proud farmer views

The important loss, and heals our weeping eyes : The rising pyramids that grace his yard,

Correctly great, she melts each flinty heart
And counts his large increase ; his barns are stored,
And groaning staddles bend beneath their load.

With equal genius, but superior art.
All now is free as air, and the gay pack

Gross as this misjudgment is, it should be rememIn the rough bristly stubbles range unblamed ; bered that Voltaire also fell into the same. The No widow's tears o'erflow, no secret curse

cold marble of Cato was preferred to the living and Swells in the farmer's breast, which his pale lips breathing creations of the myriad - minded' maTrembling conceal, by his fierce landlord awed :

gician.
But courteous now he levels every fence,
Joins in the common cry, and halloos loud,

ALLAN RAMSAY.
Charmed with the rattling thunder of the field.
Oh bear me, some kind power invisible !

The Scottish muse had been silent for nearly a To that extended lawn where the gay court

century, excepting when it found brief expression View the swift racers, stretching to the goal ;

in some stray song of broad humour or simple paGames more renowned, and a far nobler train,

thos, chanted by the population of the hills and dales. Than proud Elean fields could boast of old.

The genius of the country was at length revived in Oh! were a Theban lyre not wanting here,

all its force and nationality, its comic dialogue, Doric And Pindar's voice, to do their merit right!

simplicity and tenderness, by ALLAN RAMSAY, whose Or to those spacious plains, where the strained eye,

very name is now an impersonation of Scottish In the wide prospect lost, beholds at last

scenery and manners. The religious austerity of Sarum's proud spire, that o'er the hills ascends, the Covenanters still hung over Scotland, and And pierces through the clouds. Or to thy downs, damped the efforts of poets and dramatists; but a Fair Cotswold, where the well-breathed beagle climbs, freer spirit found its way into the towns, along with With matchless speed, thy green aspiring brow,

the increase of trade and commerce. The higher And leaves the lagging multitude behind.

classes were in the habit of visiting London, though Hail, gentle Dawn! mild, blushing goddess, hail ! the journey was still performed on horseback; and Rejoiced I see thy purple mantle spread

the writings of Pope and Swift were circulated over O'er half the skies; gems pave thy radiant way, the North. Clubs and taverns were rife in EdinAnd orient pearls from every shrub depend.

burgh, in which the assembled wits loved to indulge Farewell, Cleora ; here deep sunk in down,

in a pleasantry that often degenerated to excess. Slumber secure, with happy dreams amused,

Talent was readily known and appreciated; and Till grateful streams shall tempt thee to receive when Ramsay appeared as an author, he found the Thy early meal, or thy officious maids;

nation ripe for his native humour, his mannersThe toilet placed shall urge thee to perform

painting strains,' and his lively original sketches

[graphic]

Alan Ramsay

of Scottish life. Allan Ramsay was born in 1686, enjoyed. Allan was admitted a member of this in the village of Leadhills, Lanarkshire, where his blythe society,' and became their poet laureate.

He wrote various light pieces, chiefly of a local and
humorous description, which were sold at a penny
each, and became exceedingly popular. He also
sedulously courted the patronage of the great, sub-
duing his Jacobite feelings, and never selecting a
fool for his patron. In this mingled spirit of pru-
dence and poetry, he contrived

To theek the out, and line the inside,
Of mony a douce and witty pash,

And baith ways gathered in the cash.
In the year 1712 he married a writer's daughter,
Christiana Ross, who was his faithful partner for
more than thirty years. He greatly extended his
reputation by writing a continuation to King
James's Christ's Kirk on the Green,' executed
with genuine humour, fancy, and a perfect mastery
of the Scottish language. Nothing so rich had ap-
peared since the strains of Dunbar or Lindsay. What
an inimitable sketch of rustic life, coarse, but as true
as any by Teniers or Hogarth, is presented in the
first stanza of the third canto !--

Now frae the east nook of Fife the dawn

Speeled westlins up the lift;
Carles wha heard the cock had craw'n,

Begoud to rax and rift ;
And greedy wives, wi' girning thrawn,

Cried lasses up to thrift;
Dogs barkëd, and the lads frae hand
Banged to their breeks like drift

By break of day. father held the situation of manager of Lord Hope- Ramsay now left off wig-making, and set up a ton's mines. When he became a poet, he boasted bookseller's shop, opposite to Niddry's Wynd.' that he was of the auld descent of the Dalhousie family, and also collaterally ‘sprung from a Douglas works. The Tea Table Miscellany, being a collection

He next appeared as an editor, and published two loin. His mother, Alice Bower, was of English

of songs, partly his own; and The Evergreen, a colparentage, her father having been brought from lection of Scottish poems written before 1600. He Derbyshire to instruct the Scottish miners in their

was not well qualified for the task of editing works art. Those who entertain the theory, that men of of this kind, being deficient both in knowledge and genius usually partake largely of the qualities and dispositions of their mother, may perhaps recognise

taste. In the ‘Evergreen,' he published, as ancient

poems, two pieces of his own, one of which, The some of the Derbyshire blood in Allan Ramsay's Vision, exhibits high powers of poetry.. The genius frankness and joviality of character. His father

er of Scotland is drawn with a touch of the old heroic died while the poet was in his infancy; but his mus

Muse :mother marrying again in the same district, Allan was brought up at Leadhills, and put to the village

Great daring darted frae his ee, school, where he acquired learning enough to enable

A braid-sword shogled at his thie, him, as he tells us, to read Horace .faintly in the

On his left arm a targe; original.' His lot might have been a hard one, but

A shining spear filled his right hand, it was fortunately spent in the country till he had

Of stalwart make in bane and brawnd, reached his fifteenth year; and his lively tempera

Of just proportions large; ment enabled him, with cheerfulness

A various rainbow-coloured plaid

Owre his left spaul he threw. To wade through glens wi' chorking feet,

Down his braid back, frae his white head, When neither plaid nor kilt could fend the weet;

The silver wimplers grew. Yet blythely wad he bang out o'er the brae,

Amazed, I gazed, And stend o'er burns as light as ony rae,

To see, led at command, Hoping the mornl might prove a better day.

A stampant and rampant

Fierce lion in his hand. At the age of fifteen, Allan was put apprentice to a wig-maker in Edinburgh-a light employment suited | In 1725 appeared his celebrated pastoral drama, The to his slender frame and boyish smartness, but not Gentle Shepherd, of which two scenes had previously very congenial to his literary taste. His poetical been published under the titles of Patie and Roger, talent, however, was more observant than creative, and Jenny and Meggy. It was received with uniand he did not commence writing till he was about versal approbation, and was republished both in twenty-six years of age. He then penned an address London and Dublin. When Gay visited Scotland to the “Easy Club,' a convivial society of young in company with his patrons, the Duke and Duchess men, tinctured with Jacobite predilections, which of Queensberry, he used to lounge in Allan Ram. were also imbibed by Ramsay, and which probably say's shop, and obtain from him explanations of formed an additional recommendation to the favour some of the Scottish expressions, that he might of Pope and Gay, a distinction that he afterwards communicate them to Pope, who was a great admirer

[graphic]

of the poem. This was a delicate and marked come !! 1 pliment, which Allan must have felt, though he

1 Tomorrow.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

had previously represented himself as the vicegerent the Castle hill, which he called Ramsay Lodge, but of Apollo, and equal to Homer! He now removed which some of his waggish friends compared to a to a better shop, and instead of the Mercury's head which had graced his sign-board, he put up ‘the presentment of two brothers' of the Muse, Ben Jonson and Drummond. He next established a circulating library, the first in Scotland. He associated on familiar terms with the leading nobility, lawyers, wits, and literati of Scotland, and was the Pope or Swift of the North. His son, afterwards a distinguished artist, he sent to Rome for instruction. But the prosperity of poets seems liable to an uncommon share of crosses. He was led by the promptings of a taste then rare in Scotland to expend îis savings in the erection of a theatre, for the performance of the regular drama. He wished to keep his troop' together by the pith of reason;' but he did not calculate on the pith of an act of parliament in the hands of a hostile magistrate. The statute for licensing theatres prohibited all dramatic exhibitions without special license and the royal letters-patent; and on the strength of this enactment the magistrates of Edinburgh shut up Allan's theatre, leaving him without redress. To add to his mortification, the envious poetasters and strict religionists of the day attacked him with personal satires and lampoons, under such titles as— A Looking-Glass for Allan Ramsay;' • The Dying Words of Allan Ramsay ;' and 'The Flight of Religious Piety from Scotland, upon the account of Ramsay's lewd books, and the hell-bred playhouse comedians,' &c. Allan endeavoured to enlist Presi

Ramsay Lodge. dent Forbes and the judges on his side by a poetical

goose pie. He told Lord Elibank one day of this address, in which he prays for compensation from

ludicrous comparison. •What,' said the witty peer, the legislature

| “a goose pie! In good faith, Allan, now that I see Syne, for amends for what I've lost,

you in it, I think the house is not ill named. He Edge me into some canny post.

lived in this singular-looking mansion (which has

since been somewhat altered) twelve years, and died His circumstances and wishes at this crisis are more of a complaint that had long afflicted him, scurvy particularly explained in a letter to the president, in the gums, on the 7th of January 1758, at the which now lies before us :

age of seventy-two. So much of pleasantry, good “Will you,' he writes, give me something to humour, and worldly enjoyment, is mixed up with do? Here I pass a sort of half idle scrimp life, the history of Allan Ramsay, that his life is one tending a trifling trade, that scarce affords me the of the green and sunny spots' in literary bioneedful. Had I not got a parcel of guineas from graphy. His genius was well rewarded; and he posyou, and such as you, who were pleased to patronise sessed that turn of mind which David Hume says it my subscriptions, I should not have had a gray is more happy to possess than to be born to an estate groat. I think shame (but why should I, when I of ten thousand a-year-a disposition always to see open my mind to one of your goodness ?) to hint the favourable side of things. that I want to have some small commission, when it Ramsay's poetical works are sufficiently various; happens to fall in your way to put me into it.** and one of his editors has ambitiously classed them

It does not appear that he either got money or a under the heads of serious, elegiac, comic, satiric, post, but he applied himself attentively to his busi- epigrammatical, pastoral, lyric, epistolary, fables and ness, and soon recruited his purse. A citizen-like tales. He wrote trash in all departments, but failed good sense regulated the life of Ramsay. He gave in none. His tales are quaint and humorous, though, over poetry before,' he prudently says, the cool- like those of Prior, they are too often indelicate. ness of fancy that attends advanced years should The Monk and Miller's Wife, founded on a poem of make me risk the reputation I had acquired.' Dunbar, is as happy an adaptation of an old poet as

any of Pope's or Dryden's from Chaucer. His lyrics Frae twenty-five to five-and-forty,

want the grace, simplicity, and beauty which Burns My muse was nowther sweer nor dorty; breathed into these wood-notes wild,' designed alike My Pegasus wad break his tether

for cottage and hall; yet some of those in the E'en at the shagging of a feather,

Gentle Shepherd' are delicate and tender; and And through ideas scour like drift,

others, such as The last time I came o'er the Moor, Streaking his wings up to the lift;

and The Yellow-haired Laddie, are still favourites Then, then, my soul was in a low,

with all lovers of Scottish song. In one of the That gart my numbers safely row.

least happy of the lyrics there occurs this beautiful But eild and judgment 'gin to say,

image:Let be your sangs, and learn to pray.

How joyfully my spirits rise, About the year 1743, his circumstances were suffi

When dancing she moves finely, 0; ciently flourishing to enable him to build himself a

I guess what heaven is by her eyes, small octagon-shaped house on the north side of

Which sparkle so divinely, 0.

His Lochaber no More is a strain of manly feeling * From the manuscript collections in Culloden House. I and unaffected pathos. The poetical epistles of

[graphic]
« НазадПродовжити »