Page images
PDF
EPUB

To leafless shrubs, the flow’ring palms succeed,
And od’rous myrtle to the noisome weed.
The lambs with wolves shall graze the verdant mead,
And boys in flow'ry bands the tiger lead;
The steer and lion at one crib shall meet,2
And harmless serpents lick the pilgrim's feet.
The smiling infant in his hand shall take
The crested basilisk and speckled snake,
Pleased, the green lustre of the scales survey,
And with their forky.tongues shall innocently play.
Rise, crowned with light, imperial Salem, rise!
Exalt thy tow'ry head, and lift thy eyes !
See a long race' thy spacious courts adorn;
See future sons, and daughters yet unborn,
In crowding ranks on ev'ry side arise,
Demanding life, impatient for the skies!
See barb’rous nations at thy gates attend,
Walk in thy light, and in thy temple bend;
See thy bright altars thronged with prostrate kings,
And heaped with products of Sabæan springs !5
For thee Idume's spicy forests blow,
And seeds of gold in Ophir's mountains glow.
See heav'n its sparkling portals wide display,
And break upon thee in a flood of day!
No more the rising sun shall gild the morn,?
Nor ev’ning Cynthia fill her silver horn;
But lost, dissolved in thy superior rays,
One tide of glory, one unclouded blaze

i Virg. Ecl. iv. 21.

Ipsæ lacte domum referent distenta capella
Ubera, nec magnos metuent armenta leones.-
Occidet et serpens, et fallax herba veneni

Occidet. " The goats shall bear to the field their udders distended with milk: hor shall the herds be afraid of the greatest lions. The serpent shall die, and the herb that conceals poison shall die." Isaiah xi. 6, 7, 8.Pope. 2 Isaiah lxv. 25.-Pope.

3 The thoughts of Isaiah which compose the latter part of the poem are worderfully exalted, and much above those general exclamations of Virgil, which make the loftiest part of his Pollio

Magnus ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo,
-toto surget gens, aurea mundo!
-incipient magni procedere menses !

aspice, venturo lætentur ut omnia sæclo ! &c. The reader needs only turn to the passages of Isaiah here cited. Pope.

4 Isaiah lx. 4-Pope.
6 Isaiah lx. 3.-Pope.
6 Isaiah lx. 6.-Pope.
7 Isaiah lx. 19, 20,-Pope.

O’erflow thy courts: the Light Himself shall shine
Revealed, and God's eternal day be thine!
The seas shall waste, the skies in smoke decay,

Rocks fall to dust, and mountains melt away;
. But fixed His word, His saving power remains;-

Thy realm for ever lasts; thy own MESSIAH reigns!

ELEGY

TO THE MEMORY OF AN UNFORTUNATE

LADY.

SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN WRITTEN IN 1712, BUT PUBLISHED 1717.

What beck’ning ghost, along the moonlight shade
Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade?
'Tis she!—but why that bleeding bosom gored,
Why dimly gleams the visionary sword!
Oh ever beauteous, ever friendly! tell,
Is it in heav'n, a crime to love too well?
To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,
To act a lover's or a Roman's part ?
Is there no bright reversion in the sky,
For those who greatly think, or bravely die?

Why bade ye else, ye powers! her soul aspire
Above the vulgar flight of low desire ?
Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes;
The glorious fault of angels and of gods;
Thence to their images on earth it flows,
And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows.
Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age,
Dull sullen pris'ners in the body's cage:
Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years
Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres;

1 Isaiah li. 6 and liv. 10.-Pope.

2 See the Duke of Buckingham's verses to a lady designing to retire into a monastery compared with Mr. Pope's letters to several ladies. She seems to be the same person whose unfortunato death is the subject of this poem.-Pope.

Nothing at all certain is known as to the "Lady" of the Elegy: 80 conflicting are the statements, that shọ may be a fictitious heroine only.

confliching at sem. Ponne person Mr. P

Like Eastern kings a lazy state they keep,
And close confined to their own palace, sleep.

From these perhaps (ere nature bade her die)
Fate snatched her early to the pitying sky.
As into air the purer spirits flow,
And separate from their kindred dregs below;
So flew the soul to its congenial place,
Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.

But thou, false guardian of a charge too good,
Thou, mean deserter of thy brother's blood!
See on these ruby lips the trembling breath,
These cheeks now fading at the blast of death:
Cold is that breast which warmed the world before
And those love-darting eyes must roll no more.
Thus, if eternal justice rules the ball,
Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall;
On all the line a sudden vengeance waits,
And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates.
There passengers shall stand, and pointing say,
(While the long fun’rals blacken all the way),
“Lo these were they, whose souls the furies steeled,
And cursed with hearts unknowing how to yield.
Thus unlamented pass the proud away,
The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day!
So perish all, whose breasts ne'er learned to glow
For others' good, or melt at others' woe.”

What can atone (oh ever-injured shade!) Thy fate unpitied, and thy rights unpaid ? No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear Pleased thy pale ghost, or graced thy mournful bier. By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed, By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed. By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned, By strangers honoured, and by strangers mourned! What though no friends in sable weeds appear, Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year And bear about the mockery of woe To midnight dances, and the public show? What though no weeping loves thy ashes grace, Nor polished marble emulate thy face? What though no sacred earth allow thee room, Nor hallowed dirge be muttered o'er thy tomb ? Yet shall thy grave with rising flow’rs be drest, And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast;

There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow,
There the first roses of the year shall blow:
While angels with their silver wings o’ershade
The grounds now sacred by thy reliques made.

So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
What once had beauty, titles, wealth and fame.
How loved, how honoured once, avails thee not,
To whom related, or by whom begot;
A heap of dust alone remains of thee,
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be!

Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung, Deaf the praised ear, and mute the tuneful tongue. Ev'n he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays, Shall shortly want the gen’rous tear he pays: Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part, And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart, Life's idle business at one gasp be o’er, The muse forgot, and thou be loved no more!

PROLOGUE
TO MR. ADDISON'S TRAGEDY OF CATO.

To wake the soul by tender strokes of art,
To raise the genius, and to mend the heart;
To make mankind, in conscious virtue bold,
Live o'er each scene, and be what they behold :
For this the tragic muse first trod the stage,
Commanding tears to stream through ev'ry age;
Tyrants no more their savage nature kept,
And foes to virtue wondered how they wept.
Our author shuns by vulgar springs to move
The hero's glory, or the virgin's love;
In pitying love, we but our weakness show, .
And wild ambition well deserves its woe.
Here tears shall flow from a more gen’rous cause,
Such tears as patriots shed for dying laws :

1 Louis XIV. wished to have pardoned the Cardinal do Roban after hearing the “ Çinya” of Corneille.- Warton,

He bids your breasts with ancient ardour rise,
And calls forth Roman drops from British eyes.
Virtue confessed in human shape he draws,
What Plato thought, and godlike Cato was :
No common object to your sight displays,
But what with pleasure heav'n itself surveys,
A brave man struggling in the storms of fate,
And greatly falling, with a falling state.
While Cato gives his little senate laws,
What bosom beats not in his country's cause ?
Who sees him act, but envies ev'ry deed ?
Who hears him groan, and does not wish to bleed ?
Ev’n when proud Cæsar ’midst triumphal cars,
The spoils of nations and the pomp of wars,
Ignobly vain and impotently great,
Showed Rome her Cato's figure drawn in state;
And her dead Father's rev’rend image past,
The pomp was darkened, and the day o'ercast;
The triumph ceased, tears gushed from ev'ry eye:
The world's great victor passed unheeded by ;
Her last good man dejected Rome adored,
And honoured Cæsar's less than Cato's sword.

Briton's attend : be worth like this approved,
And show, you have the virtue to be moved.
With honest scorn the first famed Cato viewed
Rome learning arts from Greece, whom she subdued;
Your scene precariously subsists too long
On French translation, and Italian song.
Dare to have sense yourselves ; assert the stage,
Be justly warmed with your own native rage :
Such plays alone should win a British ear,
As Cato's self had not disdained to hear.2

i The noble passage of Seneca, which Addison adopted as a motto, is here finely alluded to by Pope.

% This alludes to that famous story of his coming into the theatre, and going out again, related by Martial.- Warburton.

« PreviousContinue »