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X.-Elegy written in a Country Churchyard. THE curfew tolls the knell of parting day; The lowing herds wind slowly o'er the lea; The ploughman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds;
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath these rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense breathing morn, In
The swallow, twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion or the echcing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care;
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees, the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield;
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke :
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys and destiny obscure:
Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await, alike, the inevitable hour;
The paths of glory lead-but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where through the long drawn aisle and fretted vault,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can story'd urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or flatt'ry sooth the dull cold ear of death:
Perhaps, in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart, once pregnant with celestial fire:
Hands that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre:
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unrol;
Chill penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem, of purest ray serene,
The dark, unfathom'd caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast,
The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest;
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade; nor circumscrib'd alone,
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd;
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind:
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame :
Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride,
With incense kindled at the muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray-
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life,
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply;
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing, anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day;
Nor cast one longing, ling'ring look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies;
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
E'en from the tomb the voice of nature cries,
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who, mindful of the unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate,
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,
Haply, some hoary-headed swain may say,
"Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn,
Brushing with hasty steps, the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
There at the foot of yonder nodding beech,
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that bubbles by.
Hard by yon wood, now smiling, as in scorn,
Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove;
Now drooping, woful wan, like one forlorn,
Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
One morn I miss'd him on th' accustom'd hill,
Along the heath, and near his fav'rite tree,
Another came, nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he.
The next, with dirges due, in sad array,
Slow through the churchway path we saw him borne,
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay,
'Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.".
HERE rests his head upon the lap of earth,
A youth to fortune and to fame unknown;
Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere :
Heaven did a recompense as largely send.
He gave to mis'ry all he had a tear;
He gain'd from heaven ('twas all he wish'd)—a friend
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they, alike, in trembling hope repose) The bosom of his Father and his God.
XI.-Scipio restoring the Captive Lady to her Lover,
WHEN to his glorious first essay in war, New Carthage fell; there all the flower of Spain Were kept in hostage; a full field presenting For Scipio's generosity to shine.-A noble virgin Conspicuous far o'er all the captive dames Was mark'd the general's prize. She wept and blush'd, Young, fresh, and blooming like the morn. An eye As when the blue sky trembles through a cloud Of purest white. A secret charm combin'd Her features, and infus'd enchantment through them. Her shape was harmony. But eloquence Beneath her beauty fails; which seem'd on purpose By nature lavish'd on her, that mankind May see the virtue of a hero try'd
Almost beyond the stretch of human force.
Soft as she pass'd along, with downcast èyes,
Where gentle sorrow swell'd, and now and then,
Dropp'd o'er her modest checks a trickling tear.
The Roman legions languish'd, and hard war
Felt more than pity; e'en their chief himself,
As on his high tribunal rais'd he sat,
Turn'd from the dang'rous sight; and, chiding, ask'd
His officers, if by this gift they meant
To cloud his glory in its very dawn.
She, question'd of her birth, in trembling accents,
With tears and blushes, broken, told her tale.
But, when he found her royally descended;
Of her old captive parents the sole joy;
And that a hapless Celtiberian prince,
Her lover and belov'd, forgot his chains,
His lost dominions, and for her alone
Wept out his tender soul: sudden the heart
Of this young, conquering, loving, godlike Roman,
Felt all the great divinity of virtue.
His wishing youth stood check'd, his tempting power,
Restrain'd by kind humanity.-At once,
He for her parents and her lover call'd.
The various scene imagine. How his troops
Look'd dubious on, and wonder'd what he meant ;
While, stretch'd below, the trembling suppliant lay
Rack'd by a thousand mingling passions-fear,
Hope, jealousy, disdain, submission, grief,
Anxiety and love, in every shape.
To these, as different sentiments succeeded,
As mix'd emotions, when the man divine,
Thus the dread silence to the lover broke.
"We both are young-both charm'd. The right of war
Has put thy beauteous mistress in my power;
With whom I could, in the most sacred ties,
Live out a happy life. But, know that Romans,
Their hearts, as well as enemies, can conquer;
Then, take her to thy soul! and with her, take
Thy liberty and kingdom. In return,
I ask but this-When you behold these eyes,
These charms, with transport, be a friend to Rome."
Ecstatic wonder held the lovers mute;
While the loud camp, and all the clust'ring crowd
That hung around, rang with repeated shouts ;
Fame took th' alarm, and through resounding Spain
Blew fast the fair report; which more than arms,
Admiring nations to the Romans gain'd.
XII.-Pope's humorous Complaint to Dr. Arbuthnot, of the Impertinence of Scribblers.
SHUT, shut the door, good John!-fatigu'd I said:
Tie up the knocker-say, I'm sick, I'm dead.
The dog-star rages! Nay, 'tis past a doubt,
All Bedlam, or Parnassus is let out.
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand,
They rave, recite, and madden round the land.
What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide?
They pierce my thickets; through my grot they glide
By land, by water, they renew the charge;
They stop the chariot, and they board the barge;
No place is sacred; not the church is free;
E'en Sunday shines no sabbath-day to me.
Then, from the mint walks forth the man of rhyme-
(6 Happy to catch me just at dinner-time."
Friend to my life! (which did not you prolong,
The world had wanted many an idle song)
What drop or nostrum can this plague remove?
Or which must end me, a fool's wrath or love?
A dire dilemma !-either way I'm sped;
If foes, they write; if friends, they read me dead.
Seiz'd and ti'd down to judge how wretched I!
Who can't be silent, and who will not lie.
To laugh were want of goodness and of grace;
And to be grave exceeds all power of face.
I sit, with sad civility; I read,
With serious anguish and an aching head:
Then drop at last, but in unwilling ears,
This saving counsel-" Keep your piece nine years."
"Nine years!" (cries he, who, high in Drurylane,
Lull'd by soft zephyrs through the broken pane,
Rhymes ere he wakes, and prints before term ends,
Oblig'd by hunger, and request of friends ;)
"The piece you think is incorrect. Why, take it;
I'm all submission, what you'd have it, make it."
Three things another's modest wishes bound-
My friendship, and a prologue, and ten pound.
Pitholeon sends to me-" You know his Grace;
I want a patron-ask him for a place."
"Pitholeon libell'd me."-" But here's a letter
Informs you, Sir, 'twas when he knew no better."
"Bless me! a packet!-'Tis a stranger sues
A virgin tragedy, an orphan muse."
If I dislike it-"Furies, death, and rage,"
If I approve" Commend it to the stage."
There, thank my stars, my whole commission ends;
The players and I are luckily, no friends.
Fir'd that the house reject him-" "Sdeath I'll print it.
And shame the fools-Your interest, Sir, with Lintot."