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WRITTEN IN WHICHWOOD FOREST.
THE hinds how blest, who ne'er beguil'd
To quit their hamlet's hawthorn wild;
Nor haunt the crowd, nor tempt the main,
For splendid care, and guilty gain!
When morning's twilight-tinctur'd beam
Strikes their low thatch with slanting gleam,
They rove abroad in ether blue,
To dip the scythe in fragrant dew;
The sheaf to bind, the beech to fell,
That nodding shades a craggy dell.
'Midst gloomy glades, in warbles clear,
Wild nature's sweetest notes they hear:
On green untrodden banks they view
The hyacinth's neglected hue:
In their lone haunts, and woodland rounds,
They spy the squirrel's airy bounds,
And startle from her ashen spray,
Across the glen, the screaming jay:
Each native charm their steps explore
Of Solitude's sequester'd store.
For them the Moon with cloudless ray
Mounts, to illume their homeward way:
Their weary spirits to relieve,
The meadow's incense breathe at eve.
No riot mars the simple fare,
That o'er a glimmering hearth they share :
But when the curfew's measur'd roar
Duly, the darkening valleys o'er,
Has echoed from the distant town,
They wish no beds of cygnet-down,
No trophied canopies, to close
Their drooping eyes in quick repose.
Their little sons, who spread the bloom
Of health around the clay-built room,
Or through the primros'd coppice stray,
Or gambol in the new-mown hay;
Or quaintly braid the cowslip twine,
Or drive afield the tardy kine;
Or hasten from the sultry hill
To loiter at the shady rill;
Or climb the tall pine's gloomy crest,
To rob the raven's ancient nest.
Their humble porch with honied flow'rs
The curling woodbine's shade embow'rs:
From the small garden's thymy mound
Their bees in busy swarms resound:
Nor fell Disease, before his time,
Hastes to consume life's golden prime :
But when their temples long have wore
The silver crown of tresses hoar;
As studious still calm peace to keep,
Beneath a flowery turf they sleep.
• Grey clothing, from the Latin verb amicio, to clothe.
ON HIS LEAVING A FAVORITE VILLAGE IN
AH mourn, thou lov'd retreat! No more
Shall classic steps thy scenes explore!
When morn's pale rays but faintly peep
O'er yonder oak-crown'd airy steep,
Who now shall climb its brows to view
The length of landscape, ever new,
Where Summer flings, in careless pride,
Her varied vesture far and wide?
Who mark, beneath, each village-charm,
Or grange, or elm-encircled farm:
The flinty dove-cote's crowded roof,
Watch'd by the kite that sails aloof:
The tufted pines, whose umbrage tall
Darkens the long-deserted hall:
The veteran beech, that on the plain
Collects at eve the playful train:
The cot that smokes with early fire,
The low-roof'd fane's embosom'd spire?
Who now shall indolently stray
Through the deep forest's tangled way;
Pleas'd at his custom'd task to find
The well-known hoary-tressed hind,
That toils with feeble hands to glean
Of wither'd boughs his pittance mean?
Who 'mid thy nooks of hazel sit,
Lost in some melancholy fit;
And listening to the raven's croak,
The distant flail, the falling oak?
Who, through the sun-shine and the shower
Descry the rainbow-painted tower?
Who, wandering at return of May,
Catch the first cuckoo's vernal lay?
Who musing waste the summer hour,
Where high o'er-arching trees embower
The grassy lane, so rarely pac'd,
With azure flow'rets idly grac'd?
Unnotic'd now, at twilight's dawn
Returning reapers cross the lawn;
Nor fond attention loves to note
The wether's bell from folds remote:
While, own'd by no poetic eye,
Thy pensive evenings shade the sky!
For lo! the Bard who rapture found
In every rural sight or sound;
Whose genius warm, and judgment chaste,
No charm of genuine nature pass'd;
Who felt the Muse's purest fires,
Far from thy favor'd haunt retires;
Who peopled all thy vocal bowers
With shadowy shapes, and airy powers.
Behold, a dread repose resumes,
As erst, thy sad sequester'd glooms!
From the deep dell, where shaggy roots
Fringe the rough brink with wreathed shoots,
Th' unwilling genius flies forlorn,
His primrose chaplet rudely`torn.
With hollow shriek the nymphs forsake
The pathless copse and hedge-row brake:
Where the delv'd mountains headlong side
Its chalky entrails opens wide,
On the green summit, ambush'd high,
No longer Echo loves to lie.
No pearl-crown'd inaids with wily look,
Rise beckoning from the reedy brook.
Around the glow-worm's glimmering bank,
No Fairies run in fiery rank;
Nor brush, half-seen, in airy tread,
The violet's unprinted head.
But Fancy, from the thickets brown,
The glades that wear a conscious frown,
The forest oaks, that, pale and lone,
Nod to the blast with hoarser tone,
Rough glens, and sullen water-falls,
Her bright ideal offspring calls.
So by some sage enchanter's spell,
(As old Arabian fablers tell,)
Amid the solitary wild,
Luxuriant gardens gaily smil'd:
From sapphire rocks the fountains stream'd,
With golden fruit the branches beam'd;
Fair forms, in every wondrous wood,
Or lightly tripp'd, or solemn stood;
And oft, retreating from the view,
Betray'd, at distance, beauties new:
While gleaming o'er the crisped bowers
Rich spires arose, and sparkling towers.
If bound on service new to go,
The master of the magic show
His transitory charm withdrew,
Away th' illusive landscape flew :
Dun clouds obscur'd the groves of gold,
Blue lightning smote the blooming mould:
In visionary glory rear'd,
The gorgeous castle disappear'd ;
And a bare heath's unfruitful plain
Usurp'd the wizard's proud domain.
Cantus, Melpomene !
MOTHER of musings, Contemplation sage, Whose grotto stands upon the topmost rock Of Teneriffe; 'mid the tempestuous night, On which, in calmest meditation held,
Beneath yon ruin'd abbey's moss-grown piles Oft let me sit, at twilight hour of eve, Where through some western window the pale Moon Pours her long-level'd rule of streaming light; While sullen sacred silence reigns around, Save the lone screech-owl's note, who builds his bow's Amid the mould'ring caverns dark and damp, Or the calm breeze, that rustles in the leaves Of flaunting ivy, that with mantle green Invests some wasted tow'r. Or let me tread Its neighb'ring walk of pines, where mus'd of old The cloister'd brothers: through the gloomy void That far extends beneath their ample arch
As on I pace, religious horror wraps
My soul in dread repose. But when the world
Is clad in Midnight's raven-color'd robe,
'Mid hollow charnel let me watch the flame
Of taper dim, shedding a livid glare
O'er the wan heaps; while airy voices talk
Along the glimm'ring walls; or ghostly shape,
At distance seen, invites with beck'ning hand
My lonesome steps, through the far-winding vaulte
Nor undelightful is the solemn noon
Of night, when haply wakeful from my couch
I start: lo! all is motionless around!
Roars not the rushing wind; the sons of men
And every beast, in mute oblivion lie;
All nature's hush'd in silence and in sleep.
O then how fearful is it to reflect,
That through the still globe's awful solitude,
No being wakes but me! till stealing sleep
My drooping temples bathes in opiate dews.
Nor then let dreams, of wanton folly born,
My senses lead through flow'ry paths of joy;
But let the sacred genius of the night
Such mystic visions send, as Spenser saw,
When through bewild'ring Fancy's magic maze,
To the fell house of Busyrane, he led
Th' unshaken Britomart; or Milton knew,
When in abstracted thought he first conceiv'd
All Heav'n in tumult, and the seraphim
Come tow'ring, arm'd in adamant and gold.
Let others love soft Summer's evening smiles,
As list'ning to the distant water-fall,
They mark the blushes of the streaky west;
I choose the pale December's foggy glooms.
Then, when the sullen shades of ev'ning close,
Thou hear'st with howling winds the beating rain Where through the room a blindly glimm'ring gleam
And drifting hail descend; or if the skies
Unclouded shine, and through the blue serene
Pale Cynthia rolls her silver-axled car,
Whence gazing stedfast on the spangled vault
Raptur'd thou sitt'st, while murmurs indistinct
Of distant billows soothe thy pensive ear
With hoarse and hollow sounds; secure, self-blest,
There oft thou, listen'st to the wild uproar
Of fleets encount'ring, that in whispers low
Ascend the rocky summit, where thou dwell'st
Remote from man conversing with the spheres!
O lead me, queen sublime, to solemn glooms
Congenial with my soul; to cheerless shades,
To ruin'd seats, to twilight cells and bow'rs,
Where thoughtful Melancholy loves to muse,
Her fav'rite midnight haunts. The laughing scenes
Of purple Spring, where all the wanton train
Of Smiles and Graces seem to lead the dance
In sportive round, while from their hand they show'r
Ambrosial blooms and flow'rs, no longer charm;
Tempé, no more I court thy balmy breeze,
Adieu, green vales! ye broider'd meads, adieu!
The dying embers scatter, far remote
From Mirth's mad shouts, that through th'illumin'd
Resound with festive echo, let me sit,
Blest with the lowly cricket's drowsy dirge.
Then let my thought contemplative explore
This fleeting state of things, the vain delights,
The fruitless toils, that still our search elude,
As through the wilderness of life we rove.
This sober hour of silence will unmask
False Folly's smile, that like the dazzling spells
Of wily Comus cheat the unweeting eye
With blear illusion, and persuade to drink
That charmed cup, which Reason's mintage fair
Unmoulds, and stamps the monster on the man.
Eager we taste, but in the luscious draught
Forget the poisonous dregs that lurk beneath
Few know that elegance of soul refin'd,
Whose soft sensation feels a quicker joy
From Melancholy's scenes, than the dull pride
Of tasteless splendor and magnificence
Can e'er afford. Thus Eloise, whose mind
Had languish'd to the pangs of melting love,
More genuine transports found, as on some tomb
Reclin'd, she watch'd the tapers of the dead;
Or through the pillar'd aisles, amid pale shrines
Of imag'd saints, and intermingled graves,
Mus'd a veil'd votaress; than Flavia feels,
As through the mazes of the festive ball,
Ye youths of Albion's beauty-blooming isle, Whose brows have worn the wreath of luckless love Is there a pleasure like the pensive mood, Whose magic wont to soothe your soften'd souls? O tell how rapturous the joy, to melt
To Melody's assuasive voice; to bend
Proud of her conquering charms, and beauty's blaze, Th' uncertain step along the midnight mead,
She floats amid the silken sons of dress,
And shines the fairest of th' assembled fair.
When azure noontide cheers the dædal globe,
And the blest regent of the golden day
Rejoices in his bright meridian tower,
How oft my wishes ask the night's return,
That best befriends the melancholy mind!
Hail, sacred Night! thou too shalt share my song!
Sister of ebon-sceptred Hecate, hail!
Whether in congregated clouds thou wrapp'st
Thy viewless chariot, or with silver crown
Thy beaming head encirclest, ever hail!
What though beneath thy gloom the sorceress-strain,
Far in obscured haunt of Lapland moors,
With rhymes uncouth the bloody caldron bless;
Though Murder wan beneath thy shrouding shade
Summons her slow-ey'd vot'ries to devise
Of secret slaughter, while by one blue lamp
In hideous conference sits the list'ning band,
And start at each low wind, or wakeful sound:
What though thy stay the pilgrim curseth oft,
As all benighted in Arabian wastes
He hears the wilderness around him howl
With roaming monsters, while on his hoar head
The black-descending tempest ceaseless beats;
Yet more delightful to my pensive mind
Is thy return, than blooming Morn's approach,
Ev'n than, in youthful pride of opening May,
When from the portals of the saffron east
She sheds fresh roses, and ambrosial dews.
Yet not ungrateful is the Morn's approach,
When dropping wet she comes, and clad in clouds,
While through the damp air scowls the lowering
Blackening the landscape's face, that grove and hill
In formless vapors undistinguish'd swim:
Th' afflicted songsters of the sadden'd groves
Hail not the sullen gloom : the waving elms
That, hoar through time and rang'd in thick array,
Inclose with stately row some rural hall,
Are mute, nor echo with the clamors hoarse
Of rooks rejoicing on their airy boughs;
While to the shed the dripping poultry crowd,
A mournful train: secure the village-hind
Hangs o'er the crackling blaze, nor tempts the storm;
Fix'd in th' unfinish'd furrow rests the plow:
Rings not the high wood with enliven'd shouts
Of early hunter: all is silence drear;
And deepest sadness wraps the face of things.
Through Pope's soft song though all the Graces
And happiest art adorn his Attic page;
Yet does my mind with sweeter transport glow,
As at the root of mossy trunk reclin'd,
In magic Spenser's wildly-warbled song
I see deserted Una wander wide
Through wasteful solitudes, and lurid heaths,
Weary, forlorn; than when the fated fair
Upon the bosom bright of silver Thames
Launches in all the lustre of brocade,
Amid the splendors of the laughing Sun.
The gay description palls upon the sense,
And coldly strikes the mind with feeble bliss.
And pour your sorrows to the pitying Moon,
By many a slow trill from the bird of woe
Oft interrupted; in embow'ring woods
By darksome brook to muse, and there forget
The solemn dullness of the tedious world,
While Fancy grasps the visionary fair:
And now no more th' abstracted ear attends
The water's murm'ring lapse, th' entranced eye
Pierces no longer through th' extended rows
Of thick-rang'd trees; till haply from the depth
The woodman's stroke, or distant tinkling team,
Or heifers rustling through the brake, alarms
Th' illuded sense, and mars the golden dream.
These are delights that absence drear has made
Familiar to my soul, e'er since the form
Of young Sapphira, beauteous as the Spring,
When from her vi'let-woven couch awak'd
By frolic Zephyr's hand, her tender cheek
Graceful she lifts, and blushing from her bow'r
Issues to clothe in gladsome-glistering green
The genial globe, first met my dazzled sight:
These are delights unknown to minds profane,
And which alone the pensive soul can taste.
The taper'd choir, at the late hour of pray'r,
Oft let me tread, while to th' according voice
The many-sounding organ peals on high,
The clear slow-dittied chant, or varied hymn,
Till all my soul is bathed in ecstasies,
And lapp'd in paradise. Or let me sit
Far in sequester'd aisles of the deep dome,
There lonesome listen to the sacred sounds,
Which, as they lengthen through the Gothie vaults,
In hollow murmurs reach my ravish'd ear.
Nor when the lamps expiring yield to night,
And solitude returns, would I forsake
The solemn mansion, but attentive mark
The due clock swinging slow with sweepy sway,
Measuring time's flight with momentary sound.
Nor let me fail to enltivate my mind
With the soft thrillings of the tragic Muse,
Divine Melpomene, sweet Pity's nurse,
Queen of the stately step, and flowing pall.
Now let Monimia mourn with streaming eyes
Her joys incestuous, and polluted love;
Now let soft Juliet in the gaping tomb
Print the last kiss on her true Romeo's lips,
His lips yet reeking from the deadly draught:
Or Jaffier kneel for one forgiving look
Nor seldom let the Moor on Desdemone
Pour the misguided threats of jealous rage.
By soft degrees the manly torrent steals
From my swoln eyes; and at a brother's woe
My big heart melts in sympathizing tears.
What are the splendors of the gaudy court,
Its tinsel trappings, and its pageant pomps?
To me far happier seems the banish'd lord,
Amid Siberia's unrejoicing wilds,
Who pines all lonesome, in the chambers hoar
Of some high castle shut, whose windows dita
In distant ken discover trackless plains,
Where Winter ever whirls his icy car!
While still repeated objects of his view,
The gloomy battlements, and ivied spires,
That crown the solitary dome, arise;
While from the topmost turret the slow clock,
Far heard along th' inhospitable wastes,
With sad-returning chime awakes new grief;
Ev'n he far happier seems than is the proud,
The potent satrap, whom he left behind
'Mid Moscow's golden palaces, to drown
In ease and luxury the laughing hours.
Illustrious objects strike the gazer's mind
With feeble bliss, and but allure the sight,
Nor rouse with impulse quick th' unfeeling heart.
Thus seen by shepherds from Hymettus' brow,
What dædal landscapes smile! here palmy groves,
Resounding once with Plato's voice, arise,
Amid whose umbrage green her silver head
Th' unfading olive lifts: here vine-clad hills
Lay forth their purple store, and sunny vales
In prospect vast their level laps expand,
Amid whose beauties glistering Athens tow'rs.
Though through the blissful scenes Ilissus roll
His sage-inspiring flood, whose winding marge
The thick-wove laurel shades; though roseate Morn
Pour all her splendors on th' empurpled scene;
Yet feels the hoary hermit truer joys,
As from the cliff, that o'er his cavern hangs,
He views the piles of fall'n Persepolis
In deep arrangement hide the darksome plain.
Unbounded waste! the mould'ring obelisk
Here, like a blasted oak, ascends the clouds;
Here Parian domes their vaulted halls disclose
Horrid with thorn, where lurks th' unpitying thief,
Whence flits the twilight-loving bat at eve,
And the deaf adder wreathes her spotted train,
The dwellings once of elegance and art.
Here temples rise, amid whose hallow'd bounds
Spires the black pine, while through the naked street,
Once haunt of tradeful merchants, springs the grass:
Here columns heap'd on prostrate columns, torn
From their firm base, increase the mould'ring mass.
Far as the sight can pierce, appear the spoils
Of sunk magnificence! a blended scene
Of moles, fanes, arches, domes, and palaces,
Where, with his brother Horror, Ruin sits.
O come then, Melancholy, queen of thought!
O come with saintly look, and stedfast step,
From forth thy cave embower'd with mournful yew
Where ever to the curfew's solemn sound
List'ning thou sitt'st, and with thy cypress bind
Thy votary's hair, and seal him for thy son.
But never let Euphrosyné beguile
With toys of wanton mirth my fixed mind,
Nor in my path her primrose-garland cast.
Though 'mid her train the dimpled Hebe bare
Her rosy bosom to th' enamour'd view;
Though Venus, mother of the Smiles and Loves,
And Bacchus, ivy-crown'd, in citron-bow'r
With her on nectar-streaming fruitage feast:
What though 'tis hers to calm the low'ring skies,
And at her presence mild th' embattled clouds
Disperse in air, and o'er the face of Heav'n
New day diffusive gleam at her approach?
Yet are these joys that Melancholy gives,
Than all her witless revels happier far;
These deep-felt joys, by Contemplation taught.
Then ever, beauteous Contemplation, hail!
From thee began, auspicious maid, my song,
With thee shall end; for thou art fairer far
Than are the nymphs of Cirrha's mossy grot;
To loftier rapture thou canst wake the thought
Than all the fabling poet's boasted pow'rs.
Hail, queen divine! whom, as tradition tells,
Once in his evening walk a Druid found,
Far in a hollow glade of Mona's woods;
And piteous bore with hospitable hand
To the close shelter of his oaken bow'r.
There soon the sage admiring mark'd the dawn
Of solemn musing in your pensive thought;
For when a smiling babe, you lov'd to lie
Oft deeply list'ning to the rapid roar
Of wood-hung Meinai, stream of Druids old.
WILLIAM MASON, a poet of some distinction, born verse, made its appearance, of which the fourth and in 1725, was the son of a clergyman, who held the concluding book was printed in 1781. Its purpose living of Hull. He was admitted first of St. John's was to recommend the modern system of natural or College, and afterwards of Pembroke College, Cam-landscape gardening, to which the author adheres bridge, of the latter of which he was elected Fel- with the rigor of exclusive taste. The versification low in 1747. He entered into holy orders in 1754, is formed upon the best models, and the description, and, by the favor of the Earl of Holderness, was in many parts, is rich and vivid; but a general air presented to the valuable rectory of Ashton, York- of stiffness prevented it from attaining any conshire, and became Chaplain to His Majesty. Some siderable share of popularity. Some of his following poems which he printed gave him reputation, which poetic pieces express his liberal sentiments on politireceived a great accession from his dramatic poem cal subjects; and when the late Mr. Pitt came into of "Elfrida." By this piece, and his "Caractacus," power, being then the friend of a free constitution, which followed, it was his aim to attempt the resto- Mason addressed him in an "Ode," containing many ration of the ancient Greek chorus in tragedy; but patriotic and manly ideas. But being struck with this is so evidently an appendage of the infant and alarm at the unhappy events of the French revolu imperfect state of the drama, that a pedantic at- tion, one of his latest pieces was a "Palinody to tachment to the ancients could alone suggest its re- Liberty." He likewise revived, in an improved vival. In 1756, he published a small collection of form, and published, Du Fresnoy's Latin poem on "Odes," which were generally considered as displaying more of the artificial mechanism of poetry, than of its genuine spirit. This was not the case with his "Elegies," published in 1763, which, abating some superfluity of ornament, are in general marked with the simplicity of language proper to this species of composition, and breathe noble sentiments of freedom and virtue. A collection of all his poems which he thought worthy of preserving, was pub lished in 1764, and afterwards went through several editions. He had married an amiable lady, who died of a consumption in 1767, and was buried in the cathedral of Bristol, under a monument, on which are inscribed some very tender and beautiful lines, by her husband.
the Art of Painting, enriching it with additions furnished by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and with a metrical version. Few have been better executed than this, which unites to great beauties of language a correct representation of the original. His tribute to the memory of Gray, being an edition of his poems, with some additions, and Memoirs of his Life and Writings, was favorably received by the public.
Mason died in April, 1797, at the age of seventy. two, in consequence of a mortification produced by a hurt in his leg. A tablet has been placed to his memory in Poets' Corner, in Westminster Abbey. His character in private life was exemplary for worth and active benevolence, though not without a degree of stateliness and assumed superiority of
In 1772, the first book of Mason's "English Gar- manner. den," a didactic and descriptive poem, in blank]
MOTHER of Wisdom! thou, whose sway
The throng'd ideal hosts obey;
Who bidd'st their ranks, now vanish, now appear,
Flame in the van, or darken in the rear;
Accept this votive verse. Thy reign
Nor place can fix, nor power restrain.
All, all is thine. For thee the ear, and eye,
Rove through the realms of grace, and harmony:
The senses thee spontaneous serve,
That wake, and thrill through ev'ry nerve.
Else vainly soft, lov'd Philomel! would flow
The soothing sadness of thy warbled woe:
Else vainly sweet yon woodbine shade
With clouds of fragrance fill the glade;
Vainly, the cygnet spread her downy plume,
The vine gush nectar, and the virgin bloom.
But swift to thee, alive and warm,
Devolves each tributary charm:
See modest Nature bring her simple stores,
Luxuriant Art exhaust her plastic powers;
While every flower in Fancy's clime,
Each gem of old heroic time,
Cull'd by the hand of the industrious Muse,
Around thy shrine their blended beams diffuse.
Hail, Mem'ry! hail. Behold, I lead
To that high shrine the sacred maid:
Thy daughter she, the empress of the lyre,
The first, the fairest, of Aonia's quire.
She comes, and lo, thy realms expand'
She takes her delegated stand