« PreviousContinue »
Here measur'd laws and philosophic ease
Fix, and improve the polish'd arts of peace;
There industry and gain their vigils keep,
Command the winds, and tame th’ unwilling deep :
Here force and hardy deeds of blood prevail;
There languid pleasure sighs in every gale.
Oft o'er the trembling nations from afar
Has Scythia breath'd the living cloud of war;
And, where the deluge burst, with sweepy sway
Their arms, their kings, their gods were roll'd away.
As oft bave issued, host impelling host,
The blue-ey'd myriads from the Baltic coast.
The prostrate south to the destroyer yields
Her boasted titles, and her golden fields :
With grim delight the brood of winter view
A brighter day, and heav'ns of azure hue;
Scent the new fragrance of the breathing rose,
And quaff the pendant vintage as it grows.
Proud of the yoke, and pliant to the rod,
Why yet does Asia dread a monarch's nod,
While European freedom still withstands
Th'encroaching tide that drowns her lessening lands;
And sees far off, with an indignant groan,
Her native plains, and empires once her own?
Can opener skies and suns of fiercer flame
O’erpower the fire that animates our frame ;
As lamps, that shed at eve a cheerful ray,
Fade and expire beneath the eye of day?
Need we the influence of the northern star
To string our nerves, and steel our hearts to war?
And, where the face of nature laughs around,
Must sick’ning virtue fly the tainted ground?
Unmanly thought! what seasons can control,
What fancied zone can circumscribe the soul,
Who, conscious of the source from whence she springs,
By reason's light, on resolution's wings,
Spite of her frail companion, dauntless goes
O'er Libya's deserts and through Zembla's snows?
She bids each slumb'ring energy awake,
Another touch, another temper take,
Suspends th' inferior laws that rule our clay :
The stubborn elements confess her sway;
Their little wants, their low desires, refine,
And raise the mortal to a height divine.
Not but the human fabric from the birth
Imbibes a flavour of its parent earth :
As various tracts enforce a various toil,
The manners speak the idiom of their soil.
An iron race the mountain cliffs maintain,
Foes to the gentler genius of the plain :
For where unwearied sinews must be found
With side-long plough to quell the flinty ground,
To turn the torrent's swift-descending flood,
To brave the savage rushing from the wood,
What wonder, if, to patient valour train'd,
They guard with spirit, what by strength they gain’d?
And while their rocky ramparts round they see,
The rough abode of want and liberty,
(As lawless force from confidence will grow)
Insult the plenty of the vales below?
What wonder, in the sultry climes, that spread
Where Nile redundant o'er his summer-bed
From his broad bosom life and verdure flings,
And broods o'er Egypt with his wat'ry wings,
If with advent'rous oar and ready sail,
The dusky people drive before the gale;
Or on frail floats to neighb'ring cities ride,
That rise and glitter o'er the ambient tide
[The following couplet, which was intended to have been intro
duced in the poem on the Alliance of Education and Government, is much too beautiful to be lost. Mason.
When love could teach a monarch to be wise, And gospel-light first dawn'd from Bullen's eyes.
Mr. Bentley had made a set of designs for Mr. Gray's Poems,
particularly a head-piece to the Long Story. The original drawings are in the library at Strawberry Hill.
In silent gaze the tuneful choir among,
Half pleas'd, half blushing, let the Muse admire, While Bentley leads her sister-art along,
And bids the pencil answer to the lyre.
See, in their course, each transitory thought
Fix'd by his touch a lasting essence take ; Each dream, in fancy's airy colouring wrought
To local symmetry and life awake!
The tardy rhymes that us'd to linger on,
To censure cold, and negligent of fame, In swifter measures animated run,
And catch a lustre from his genuine flame.
Ah! could they catch his strength, his easy grace,
His quick creation, bis unerring line; The energy of Pope they might efface,
And Dryden's harmony submit to mine.
But not to one in this benighted age
Is that diviner inspiration given,
That burns in Shakspeare's or in Milton's page,
The pomp and prodigality of heaven.
As when conspiring in the diamond's blaze,
The meaner gems, that singly charm the sight, Together dart their intermingled rays,
And dazzle with a luxury of light. Enough for me, if to some feeling breast
My lines a secret sympathy ' impart;' And as their pleasing influence ‘flows confest,'
A sigh of soft reflection - heaves the hcart.'