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One prospect lost, another still we gain,
And not a vanity is given in vain :

Ev'n mean self-love becomes, by force divine,
The scale to measure others' wants by thine.
See! and confess one comfort still must rise;
'Tis this,--Though man's a fool, yet God is wise.


Born 1699-Died 1747.

BLAIR's father was one of the ministers of Edinburgh, and chaplain to King Charles I. The poet, after the usual preparatory studies, was ordained the minister of Athelstaneford, in the county of East Lothian, and resided there till his death. He is said to have been assiduous and zealous in the performance of his pastoral duties, and distinguished for his fervid eloquence. Among his friends, by whom he was warmly beloved, he numbered Colonel Gardiner, Dr. Watts, and Dr. Doddridge.

"The eighteenth century," says Campbell, "has produced few specimens of blank verse of so powerful and simple a character as that of the Grave. It is a popular poem, not merely because it is religous, but because its language and imagery are free, natural, and picturesque. Blair may be a homely and even a gloomy poet in the eye of fastidious criticism; but there is a masculine and pronounced character even in his gloom and homeliness, that keeps it most distinctly apart from either dulness or vulgarity. His style pleases us like the powerful expression of a countenance without regular beauty."


SEE yonder hallow'd fane;-the pious work
Of names once fam'd, now dubious or forgot,
And buried midst the wreck of things which were;
There lie interr'd the more illustrious dead.
The wind is up: hark! how it howls! Methinks

Till now I never heard a sound so dreary:

Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's foul bird,
Rook'd in the spire, screams loud: the gloomy aisles,

Black-plaster'd, and hung round with shreds of 'scutcheons
And tatter'd coats of arms, send back the sound,

Laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults,

The mansions of the dead.-Rous'd from their slumbers, In grim array the grisly spectres rise,

Grin horribly, and obstinately sullen,

Pass and repass, hush'd as the foot of night.

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Again the screech-owl shrieks: ungracious sound!
I'll hear no more; it makes one's blood run chill.

Quite round the pile, a row of reverend elms, (Coeval near with that) all ragged show,

Long lash'd by the rude winds. Some rift half down
Their branchless trunks; others so thin a-top,

That scarce two crows could lodge in the same tree.
Strange things, the neighbours say, have happen'd here:

Wild shrieks have issued from the hollow tombs:

Dead men have come again, and walk'd about;

And the great bell has toll'd, unrung, untouch'd. (Such tales their cheer, at wake or gossiping, When it draws near the witching time of night.}

Oft in the lone church-yard at night I've seen,
By glimpse of moonshine checquering through the trees,
The school-boy, with his satchel in his hand,
Whistling aloud to bear his courage up,

And lightly tripping o'er the long flat stones,
(With nettles skirted, and with moss o'ergrown,)
That tell in homely phrase who lie below.
Sudden he starts, and hears, or thinks he hears,
The sound of something purring at his heels;
Full fast he flies, and dares not look behind him,
Till out of breath he overtakes his fellows;
Who gather round, and wonder at the tale
Of horrid apparition, tall and ghastly,

That walks at dead of night, or takes his stand.
O'er some new-open'd grave; and (strange to tell!
Evanishes at crowing of the cock.


INVIDIOUS grave !-how dost thou rend in sunder
Whom love has knit, and sympathy made one!
A tie more stubborn far than nature's band.
Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul;
Sweetener of life, and solder of society,

I owe thee much. Thou hast deserv'd from me
Far, far beyond what I can ever pay.

Oft have I prov'd the labours of thy love,
And the warm efforts of the gentle heart,
Anxious to please.-Oh! when my friend and I
In some thick wood have wander'd heedless on,
Hid from the vulgar eye, and sat us down
Upon the sloping cowslip-cover'd bank,
Where the pure limpid stream has slid along
In grateful errors through the underwood,

Sweet murmuring; methought the shrill-tongued thrush
Mended his song of love, the sooty blackbird
Mellow'd his pipe, and soften'd every note:
The eglantine smell'd sweeter, and the rose
Assum'd a dye more deep; whilst every flower
Vied with its fellow-plant in luxury

Of dress.-Oh! then the longest summer's day
Seem'd too, too much in haste: still the full heart
Had not imparted half: 'twas happiness

Too exquisite to last. Of joys departed,

Not to return, how painful the remembrance!


It was Christ's royal will,

That where he is, there should his followers be;

Death only lies between.-A gloomy path!
Made yet more gloomy by our coward fears:
But not untrod, nor tedious: the fatigue
Will soon go off.-Besides, there's no by-road
To bliss. Then, why, like ill-condition'd children,
Start we at transient hardships in the way,
That leads to purer air, and softer skies,
And a ne'er-setting sun?-Fools that we are!
We wish to be where sweets unwithering bloom;
But straight our wish revoke, and will not go.
So have I seen, upon a summer's even,
Fast by the rivulet's brink, a youngster play:
How wishfully he looks to stem the tide!
This moment resolute, next unresolv’d :
At last he dips his foot; but as he dips,
His fears redouble, and he runs away
From the' inoffensive stream, unmindful now
Of all the flowers that paint the further bank,
And smil'd so sweet of late.-Thrice welcome death!
That after many a painful bleeding step

Conducts us to our home, and lands us safe,
On the long wish'd-for shore.-Prodigious change;
Our bane turn'd to a blessing!-Death disarm'd,
Loses its fellness quite.—All thanks to Him
Who scourg'd the venom out.-Sure the last end
Of the good man is peace!-How calm his exit!
Night-dews fall not more gently to the ground,
Nor weary worn out winds expire so soft.
Behold him in the evening tide of life,
A life well-spent, whose early care it was
His riper years should not upbraid his green:
By unperceiv'd degrees he wears away;
Yet, like the sun, seems larger at his setting.

High in his faith and hopes, look how he reaches
After the prize in view! and, like a bird
That's h mper'd, struggles hard to get away:
Whilst the glad gates of sight are wide expanded
To let new glories in, the first fair fruits

Of the fast coming harvest.-Then, oh, then!
Each earth-born joy grows vile, or disappears,
Shrunk to a thing of nought.-Oh! how he longs
To have his passport sign'd, and be dismiss'd!
"Tis done! and now he's happy!—the glad soul
Has not a wish uncrown'd.

* *** * * *

"Tis but a night, a long and moonless night,
We make the grave our bed, and then are gone.
Thus at the shut of even, the weary bird
Leaves the wide air, and in some lonely brake
Cowers down, and dozes till the dawn of day;
Then claps his well-fledg'd wings, and bears away,


Born 1700-Died 1748.

THOMSON was the son of a minister in Scotland. He was partly educated at the University of Edinburgh, and upon the death of his father, was persuaded by his friends to enter on a course of theological studies. As a previous exercise, one of the Psalms was given him for explanation, and his language is said to have been so splendid, that he was reproved for employing a diction, which none of his future audience would be able to understand. This reproof, united with the dislike which he felt to the profession of divinity, determined him to abandon it, and to seek his fortune in London.

Thither he went in 1725, with his poem of Winter, which was published the following year, and after a short neglect, admired and applauded. Summer appeared in 1727, Spring in 1728, and Autumn in 1730. After this, he travelled on the European continent with the son of the Lord Chancellor of England, and on his return, employed himself in the composition of his various tragedies and his poem on Liberty. In 1746, he published the Castle of Indolence, a poem, which is perhaps the most finished of all his produc


Thomson is said to have been naturally amiable and benevolent, and perfectly free from all literary jealousies; reserved in mingled company, but cheerful and social with his particular friends, and beloved by them all in a degree quite uncommon and singular. It is no where recorded that he was

religious, though some of his poetical compositions might be supposed to have emanated from a mind impressed with a deep reverence for the Deity, as well as an ardent admiration of his works.

The moral character of his poetry is exalted and excellent; though the declaration of Lord Lyttleton, that his works contained

"No line which, dying, he could wish to blot,"

would not, perhaps, have proceeded from the poet's own lips at that last solemn hour.

In his boyhood he used regularly to burn all his verses, as fast as he composed them-a conduct, which proved the strength of his judgment, and probably contributed to his succeeding eminence. It would be well for the world were it oftener imitated.

Thomson is superior in nature and originality to all the descriptive poets except Cowper. He looked upon nature with a view at once comprehensive and minute. Like a skilful limner of the human countenance, he seized upon some of the expressive features in each Season, and the portraiture of these communicated individuality and verisimilitude to the whole picture. His subject had before been comparatively untouched, and his own delineation of it is rather sparing than full. He displays not only beauty and accuracy, but great sublimity in his description of the torrid and frigid zones; and his sketch of the traveller lost in the snows, is full of pathos. "His diction," Dr. Johnson observes, "is in the highest degree florid and luxuriant, such as may be said to be to his images and thoughts both their lustre and their shade; such as invest them with splendour, through which perhaps they are not always easily discerned. It is too exuberant, and sometimes may be charged with filling the ear more than the mind."

The Castle of Indolence is the finest effort of his genius. In that poem he seems to have imbibed the very spirit of Spenser. His style preserves all its richness and copiousness, without the florid splendour, which marks it in The Seasons, and his versification combines a softness and melody of flow, with a harmony which holds the mind in enchantment. His imagery is remarkable for its luxuriance and adaptation to his subject.


THE north-east spends his rage; he now shut up
Within his iron cave, th' effusive south
Warms the wide air, and o'er the void of Heaven
Breathes the big clouds with vernal showers distent
At first a dusky wreath they seem to rise,

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