« PreviousContinue »
The Pleasures of Memory.
IN TWO PARTS.
Vivere bis, vità posse priore frui.-Mart.
On could my mind, unfolded in my page,
Colle, che mi piacesti,
Ov' ancor per usanza Amor mi mena;
regularity. They are sometimes excited by sensible objects, and sometimes by an internal operation of the mind. Of the former species is most probably the memory of brutes; and its many sources of pleasure to them, as well as to us, are considered in the first part. The latter is the most perfect degree of memory, and forms the subject of the second.
When ideas have any relation whatever, they are attractive of each other in the mind; and the perception of any object naturally leads to the idea of another, which was connected with it either in time or place, or which can be compared or contrasted with it. Hence arises our attachment to inanimate objects; hence also, in some degree, the love of our country, and the emotion with which we contemplate the celebrated scenes of antiquity. Hence a picture directs our thoughts to the original: and, as cold and darkness suggest forcibly the ideas of heat and light, he, who feels the infirmities of age, dwells most on whatever reminds him of the vigor and vivacity of his youth.
The associating principle, as here employed, is no less conducive to virtue than to happiness; and, as such, it frequently discovers itself in the most tumultuous scenes of life. It addresses our finer feelings, and gives exercise to every mild and generous propensity.
Not confined to man, it extends through all animated nature; and its effects are peculiarly striking in the domestic tribes.
TWILIGHT's soft dews steal o'er the village-green, THE Poem begins with the description of an obscure With magic tints to harmonize the scene: village, and of the pleasing melancholy which it excites Still'd is the hum that through the hamlet broke, on being revisited after a long absence. This mixed When round the ruins of their ancient oak sensation is an effect of the memory. From an effect The peasants flock'd to hear the minstrel play, we naturally ascend to the cause; and the subject And games and carols closed the busy day. proposed is then unfolded, with an investigation of Her wheel at rest, the matron thrills no more the nature and leading principles of this faculty. With treasured tales, and legendary lore. It is evident that our ideas flow in continual succes- All, all are fled; nor mirth nor music flows tion, and introduce each other with a certain degree of To chase the dreams of innocent repose.
All, all are fled; yet still I linger here! What secret charms this silent spot endear?
Mark yon old Mansion frowning through the trees, Whose hollow turret wooes the whistling breeze. That casement, arch'd with ivy's brownest shade, First to these eyes the light of heaven convey'd. The mouldering gateway strews the grass-grown
Once the calm scene of many a simple sport,
See, through the fractured pediment reveal'd,
As jars the hinge, what sullen echoes call!
Now stain'd with dews, with cobwebs darkly hung,
As o'er the dusky furniture I bend, Each chair awakes the feelings of a friend. The storied arras, source of fond delight, With old achievement charms the wilder'd sight; And still, with Heraldry's rich hues imprest, On the dim window glows the pictured crest. The screen unfolds its many-color'd chart; The clock still points its moral to the heart; That faithful monitor 't was heaven to hear, When soft it spoke a promised pleasure near: And has its sober hand, its simple chime, Forgot to trace the feather'd feet of Time? That massive beam, with curious carvings wrought, Whence the caged linnet soothed my pensive thought; Those muskets, cased with venerable rust; [dust, Those once-loved forms, still breathing thro' their Still, from the frame in mould gigantic cast, Starting to life-all whisper of the Past!
As through the garden's desert paths I rove, What fond illusions swarm in every grove! How oft, when purple evening tinged the west, We watch'd the emmet to her grainy nest; Welcomed the wild-bee home on weary wing, Laden with sweets, the choicest of the spring! How oft inscribed, with Friendship's votive rhyme, The bark now silver'd by the touch of Time;
Soar'd in the swing, half pleased and half afraid,
Childhood's loved group revisits every scene; The tangled wood-walk, and the tufted green! Indulgent MEMORY wakes, and lo, they live! Clothed with far softer hues than Light can give. Thou first, best friend that Heaven assigns below, To soothe and sweeten all the cares we know ; Whose glad suggestions still each vain alarm, When nature fades, and life forgets to charm ; Thee would the Muse invoke!-to thee belong The sage's precept, and the poet's song. What soften'd views thy magic glass reveals, When o'er the landscape Time's meek twilight steal»' As when in ocean sinks the orb of day, Long on the wave reflected lustres play; Thy temper'd gleams of happiness resign'd Glance on the darken'd mirror of the mind. The School's lone porch, with reverend mosses grey, Just tells the pensive pilgrim where it lay. Mute is the bell that rung at peep of dawn, Quickening my truant feet across the lawn: Unheard the shout that rent the noontide air, When the slow dial gave a pause to care.
Up springs, at every step, to claim a tear, (1) Some little friendship form'd and cherish'd here; And not the lightest leaf, but trembling teems With golden visions, and romantic dreams!
Down by yon hazel copse, at evening, blazed The Gipsey's fagot-there we stood and gazed; Gazed on her sun-burnt face with silent awe, Her tatter'd mantle, and her hood of straw; Her moving lips, her caldron brimming o'er; The drowsy brood that on her back she bore, Imps in the barn with mousing owlet bred, From rifled roost at nightly revel fod; [shade, Whose dark eyes flash'd through locks of blackest When in the breeze the distant watch-dog bay'd And heroes fled the Sibyl's mutter'd call, Whose elfin prowess scaled the orchard-wall. As o'er my palm the silver piece she drew, And traced the line of life with searching view, How throbb'd my fluttering pulse with hopes and fears,
To learn the color of my future years!
Ah, then, what honest triumph flush'd my breast; This truth once known-To bless is to be blest! We led the bending beggar on his way, (Bare were his feet, his tresses silver-grey) Soothed the keen pangs his aged spirit felt, And on his tale with mute attention dwelt. As in his scrip we dropt our little store, And sigh'd to think that little was no more, [live!" He breathed his prayer, "Long may such goodness "Twas all he gave, 'twas all he had to give.
But hark! through those old firs, with sullen swell, The church-clock strikes! ye tender scenes, farewell! It calls me hence, beneath their shade, to trace The few fond lines that Time may soon efface.
On yon grey stone, that fronts the chancel-door, Worn smooth by busy feet now seen no more, Each eve we shot the marble through the ring, When the heart danced, and life was in its spring; Alas! unconscious of the kindred earth, That faintly echo'd to the voice of mirth.
The glow-worm loves her emerald light to shed, Where now the sexton rests his hoary head. Oft, as he turn'd the greensward with his spade, He lectured every youth that round him play'd; And, calmly pointing where our fathers lay, Roused us to rival each, the hero of his day.
Hush, ye fond flutterings, hush! while here alone I search the records of each mouldering stone. Guides of my life! instructors of my youth! Who first unveil'd the hallow'd form of Truth; Whose every word enlighten'd and endear'd; In age beloved, in poverty revered; In Friendship's silent register ye live, Nor ask the vain memorial Art can give.
-But when the sons of peace, of pleasure sleep,
To pass the clouds that round thy empire roll,
Lull'd in the countless chambers of the brain,
Survey the globe, each ruder realm explore; From Reason's faintest ray to NEWTON soar. What different spheres to human bliss assign'd! What slow gradations in the scale of mind! Yet mark in each these mystic wonders wrought; Oh mark the sleepless energies of thought!
The adventurous boy, that asks his little share, And hies from home with many a gossip's prayer, Turns on the neighboring hill, once more to see The dear abode of peace and privacy; And as he turns, the thatch among the trees, The smoke's blue wreaths ascending with the breeze, The village-common spotted white with sheep, The church-yard yews round which his fathers sleep; (3)
All rouse Reflection's sadly-pleasing train,
And all his soul best loved-such tears he shed,
Long o'er the wave a wistful look he cast,
So Scotia's Queen, (5) as slowly dawn'd the day, Rose on her couch, and gazed her soul away. Her eyes had bless'd the beacon's glimmering height, That faintly tipt the feathery surge with light; But now the morn with orient hues portray'd Each castled cliff, and brown monastic shade: All touch'd the talisman's resistless spring, And lo, what busy tribes were instant on the wing!
Thus kindred objects kindred thoughts inspire, (6) As summer-clouds flash forth electric fire. And hence this spot gives back the joys of youth, Warm as the life, and with the mirror's truth. Hence home-felt pleasure (7) prompts the Patriot's sigh;
This makes him wish to live, and dare to die.
When reason, justice, vainly urged his cause,
And hence the charm historic scenes impart: (9)
In Rome's great forum, who but hears him roll
And hence that calm delight the portrait gives: We gaze on every feature till it lives! Still the fond lover sees the absent maid; And the lost friend still lingers in his shade! Say why the pensive widow loves to weep, (13) When on her knee she rocks her babe to sleep: Tremblingly still, she lifts his veil to trace The father's features in his infant face. The hoary grandsire smiles the hour away, Won by the raptures of a game at play; He bends to meet each artless burst of joy, Forgets his age, and acts again the boy.
What though the iron school of War erase
The intrepid Swiss, who guards a foreign shore,
Memoir of Samuel Rogers.
THERE seems to be something so repugnant to and various passages display uncommon felicity. the pursuits of literature in habits of trade and As a whole, perhaps its chief defect is that it commerce, that the instances have been very rare wants vigor, but the deficiency in this quality in which they have been combined in one indi- is made up in correctness and harmony. Rogers vidual. The historian of the Medici, and ROGERS is one of the most scrupulous of the sons of the the Poet, are almost solitary instances of literary lyre in his metre, and he too often sacrifices that taste and talent being united harmoniously with harshness which sets off the smoother passages traffic. Samuel Rogers is a banker in London, of a writer's works, and prevents sameness and and has been for many years at the head of monotony, to mere cold purity of style. Perhaps a most respectable firm. His father followed no poem of equal size ever cost its author so the same business before him, and amassed con- many hours to produce. Not satisfied with his siderable wealth, both which became the her-own corrections, he repeatedly consulted the taste itage of the Poet, who was born about the of some of his friends; one of the most devoted year 1762, in London; but little or nothing is of whom, Richard Sharpe, then a wholesale hatter, known of the way in which he passed his early and since Member of Parliament,' has said that, years. His education was liberal, no cost having before the publication of this poem, and while been spared to render him an accomplished preparing the successive editions for press, they scholar. That improved by thought and re- had read it together several hundred imes, at flection upon the lessons of his youth, there can home as well as on the Continent, and in every be no doubt; and, it is to be presumed, he lost temper of mind that varied company and varied no opportunity of reaping profit from the extra-scenery could produce.
ordinary advantages which his station obtained In the year 1798, Rogers published "An Episfor him. He always kept the best society, both tle to a Friend, with other Poems," and in 1812 as respected rank and talent, the circle of which "The Voyage of Columbus." Two years afterin the metropolis of England in his younger wards, in conjunction with Lord Byron, or days was more than commonly brilliant. His rather printed in the same volume with Byron's political ideas are what are styled liberal, and no Lara, appeared his tale of "Jacqueline;" a poem one has ever been able to reproach him with the which displays a strange contrast to the fire abandonment of a single principle with which he and energy of the author of Manfred. Sweet originally set out in life. Over most of his early and pleasing rather than striking, "Jacqueline," friends and companions the grave has now closed, though well received, contributed little to inand they included among them inany great crease its author's reputation. "Human Life," next to the Pleasures of Memory, is the most With a strong attachment for the Muses, after finished production of Rogers. The subject was the excellent education Rogers received, it is not a good one, for it was drawn from universal surprising that he ventured before the public. nature, and connected with all those rich assoHis first work was an "Ode to Superstition, and ciations which increase in attraction as we other Poems," which appeared in 1786. This journey onwards in the path of life. It is was followed by a second publication, "The Pleasures of Memory," when he had passed the 1 This gentleman has carried the art of brilliant and greenness of youth, having attained his thirtieth interesting conversation to an unprecedented degree of year. In 1792 this poem was received by the perfection, having in fact reduced it to a matter of mere public with universal applause. The subject was index to his multitudinous commonplace books; and has business, as systematic as Book-Keeping. He keeps an happily chosen, coming home to the business and a debtor and creditor account with his different circles of bosoms of all: it was executed with great care, the jokes let off or the set speeches made.