« PreviousContinue »
Mark AKENSIDE (1721-1770), is chiefly distinguished by his poem on the Pleasures of the Imagination, which is one of the best, if not the best, of our philosophical poems. We copy one or two extracts.
MORAL GREATNESS AND BEAUTY SUPERIOR TO THAT
WHICH IS MATERIAL.
Look, then, abroad through Nature, to the range
Of planets, suns, and adamantine spheres,
Wheeling unshaken through the void immense;
And speak, oh man! does this capacious scene
With half that kindling majesty dilate
Thy strong conception, as when Brutus rose
Refulgent from the stroke of Cæsar's fate,
Amid the crowd of patriots; and his arm
Aloft extending, like eternal Jove
When guilt brings down the thunder, called aloud
On Tully's name, and shook his crimson steel,
And bade the father of his country, hail !
For lo! the tyrant prostrate on the dust,
And Rome again is free! Is aught so fair
In all the dewy landscapes of the spring,
In the bright eye of Hesper, or the morn,
In Nature's fairest forms, is aught so fair
As virtuous friendship? as the candid blush
Of him who strives with fortune to be just ?
The graceful tear that streams for others' woes,
Or the mild majesty of private life,
Where Peace, with ever-blooming olive, crowns
The gate; where Honour's liberal hands effuse
Unenvied treasures, and the snowy wings
Of Innocence and Love protect the scene ?
PLEASURABLE EMOTIONS DERIVED FROM PITY
Ask the crowd
Which flies impatient from the village-walk
To climb the neigbouring cliffs, when far below
The cruel winds have hurled upon the coast
Some helpless bark; while sacred Pity melts
The general eye, or Terror's icy hand
Smites their distorted limbs and horrent hair;
While every mother closer to her breast
Catches her child, and pointing where the waves
Foain through the shattered vessel, shrieks aloud,
As one poor wretch that spreads his piteous arms
For succour, swallowed by the roaring surge,
As now another, dashed against the rock,
Drops lifeless down: 0! deemest thou indeed
No kind endearment here by Nature given
To mutual terror and Compassion's tears?
No sweetly-melting softness which attracts,
O'er all that edge of pain, the social powers
To this their proper action and their end?
“ OLIVER GOLDSMITH (1728-1774), whose writing range over every department of miscellaneous litera ture, challenges attention as a poet chiefly for the unaffected ease, grace, and tenderness of his descrip tions of rural and domestic life, and for a certain vein of pensive philosophic reflection.” The following ex. tracts are from the Deserted Village.
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled,
And still where many a garden flower grows wild,
There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,
The village preacher's modest mansion rose.
A man he was to all the country dear,
And passing rich with forty pounds a-year;
Remote from towns, he ran his godly race,
Nor e'er had changed, nor wished to change, his place;
Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for power,
By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour;
Far other aims his heart had learned to prize,
More bent to raise the wretched than to rise.
His house was known to all the vagrant train;
He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain.
The long-remembered beggar was his guest,
Whose beard descending swept his aged breast;
The ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Claimed kindred there, and had his claims allowed;
The broken soldier, kindly hade to stay,
Sat by his fire, and talked the night away;
Wept o'er his wounds, or, tales of sorrow done,
Shouldered his crutch, and showed how fields were won.
Pleased with his guests, the good man learned to glow,
And quite forgot their vices in their woe;
Careless their merits or their faults to scan,
His pity gave ere charity began.
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And even his failings leaned to virtue's side;
But, in his duty prompt at every call,
He watched and wept, he prayed and felt for all ;
And, as a bird each fond endearment tries,
To tempt her new-fledged offspring to the skies,
He tried each art, reproved each dull delay,
Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way.
Beside the bed where parting life was laid,
And sorrow, guilt, and pain, by turns dismayed,
The reverend champion stood. At his control
Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul;
Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise,
And his last faltering accents whispered praise.
At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
His looks adorned the venerable place;
Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway;
And fools, who came to scoff, remained to pray.
The service past, around the pious man,
With ready zeal, each honest rustic ran;
Even children followed with endearing wile,
And plucked his gown, to share the good man's smile;
His ready smile a parent's warmth expressed,
Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distressed;
To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given,
But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven.
As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm;
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way, With blossomed furze unprofitably gay, There in his noisy mansion skilled to rule, The village master taught his little school; A man severe he was, and stern to view; I knew him well, and every truant knew. Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace The day's disasters in his morning's face; Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee At all his jokes, for many a joke had he; Full well the busy whisper circling round, Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned : Yet he was kind; or, if severe in aught, The love he bore to learning was in fault; The village all declared how much he knew; 'Twas certain he could write and cipher too; Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage; And even the story ran that he could gauge; In arguing, too, the parson owned his skill, For even though vanquished, he could argue still; While words of learned length, and thundering sound, Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around; And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew, That one small head could carry all he knew. But past is all his fame: the very spot Where many a time he triumphed, is forgot.