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proper machinery for a botanic poem, as it is probable they were originally the names of hieroglyphic figures representing the elements.' The novelty and ingenuity of Darwin's attempt attracted much attention, and rendered him highly popular. In the same year the poet was called to attend an aged gentleman, Colonel Sachevell Pole of Radbourne Hall, near Derby, An intimacy was thus formed with Mrs. Pole; and the colonel dying, the poetical physician in a few months afterwards, in 1781, married the fair widow, who possessed a jointure of £600 per annum. Darwin was now released from all prudential fears and restraints as to the cultivation of his poetical talents, and he went on adding to his floral gallery. In 1789 appeared the second part of his poem, containing the · Loves of the plants." Ovid having, he said, transmuted men, women, and even gods and goddesses, into trees and flowers, he had undertaken, by similar art, to restore some of them to their original animality, after having remained prisoners so long in their respective vegetable mansions.
Extract from Loves of the Plants.'
From giant oaks, that wave their branches dark,
To the dwarf moss that clings upon their bark,
What beaux and beauties crowd the gaudy groves.
And woo and win their vegetable loves.*
How snowdrops cold, and blue-eyed harebells, blend
Their tender tears, as o'er the streams they bend;
The love-sick violet, and the primrose pale,
Bow their sweet heads, and whisper to the gale;
With secret sighs the virgin lily droops,
And jealous cowslips hang their tawny cups.
How the young rose, in beauty's damask pride,
Drinks the warm blushes of his bashful bride;
With honeyed lips enamoured woodbines meet,
Clasp with fond arms, and mix their kisses sweet!
Stay thy soft murmuring waters, gentle rill;
Hush, whispering winds; ye rustling leaves, be still;
Rest, silver butterflies, your quivering wings;
Alight, ye beetles, from your airy rings;
Ye painted moths, your gold-eyed plumage furl,
Blow your wide horns, your spiral trunks uncurl ;
Glitter, ye glow-worms, on your mossy beds ;
Descend, ye spiders, on your lengthened threads;
Slide here, ye horned snails, with varnished shells;
Ye bee-nymphs, listen in your waxen cells ! This is certainly melodious verse, and ingenious subtle fancy. A few passages have moral sentiment and human interest united to the same powers of vivid painting and expression:
Roll on, ye stars, exult in youthful prime,
Mark with bright curves the printless steps of time:
Near and more near your beamy cars approach,
And lessening orbs on lessening orbs encroach;
Flowers of the sky! ye too to age must yield,
Frail as your silken sisters of the field ! * Linnæus, the celebrated Swedish naturalist, has demonstrated that all flowers contain families of males or females, or both , and on their marriage has constructed his iu. yaluable system of botany.-DARWIN,
Star after star from heaven's high arch shall rush,
Suns sink on suns, and systems, systems crush,
Headlong, extinct, to one dark centre fall,
And death, and night, and chaos mingle all!
Till o'er the wreck, emerging from the storm,
Immortal nature lifts her changeful form,
Mounts from her funeral pyre on wings of flame,
And soars and shines, another and the same! In another part of the poem, after describing the cassia plant, 'cinctured with gold,' and borne on by the current to the coasts of Norway, with all its 'infant loves,' or seeds, the poet, in his usual strain of forced similitude, digresses in the following happy and vigorous lines, to Moses concealed on the Nile,' and the slavery of the Africans:
So the sad mother at the noon of night,
From bloody Memphis stole her silent flight;
Wrapped her dear babe beneath her folded yest,
And clasped the treasure to her throbbing breast;
With soothing whispers hushed its feeble cry,
Pressed the soft kiss, and breathed the secret sigh.
With dauntless step she seeks the winding shore,
Hears unappalled the glimmering torrents roar;
With paper-flags a floating cradle weaves,
And hides the smiling boy in lotus leaves;
Gives her white bosom to his eager lips,
The salt tears mingling with the milk he sips;
Waits on the reed-crowned brink with pious guile,
And trusts the scaly monsters of the Nile.
Erewhile majestic from his lone abode,
Ambassador of heaven, the prophet trod;
Wrenched the red scourge from proud oppression's hands,
And broke, cursed slavery! thy iron bands.
Hark! heard ye not that piercing cry,
'Which shook the waves and rent the sky ?
E'en now, e'en now, on yonder western shores
Weeps pale despair, and writhing anguish roars;
E'en now in Afric's groves, with hideous yell,
Fierce slavery stalks, and slips the dogs of hell ;
From vale to vale the gathering cries rebound,
And sable nations tremble at the sound !
Ye bands of senators! whose suffrage sways
Britannia's realms, whom either Ind obeys;
Who right the injured and reward the brave,
Stretch your strong arm, for ye have power to save!
Throned in the vaulted heart, his dread resort,
Inexorable conscience holds his court;
With still small voice the plots of guilt alarms,
Bares his masked brow, his lifted hand disarms;
But wrapped in night with terrors all his own,
He speaks in thunder when the deed is done.
Hear him, ye senates ! hear this truth sublime,
“He who allows oppression, shares the crime!! The material images of Darwin are often less happy than the above, being both extravagant and gross, and grouped together without any visible connection or dependence one on the other. He has such å throng of startling metaphors and descriptions, the latter
drawn out to an excessive length and tiresome minuteness, that nothing is left to the reader's imagination, and the whole passes like a glittering pageant before the eye, exciting wonder, but without touching the heart or foelings. As the poet was then past fifty, the exuberance of his fancy, and his peculiar choice of subjects, are the more remarkable. A third part of the ‘Botanic Garden' was added in 1792; (he received £900 for the copyright of the whole). Darwin next published his Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life,' part of which he had written many years previously. This is a curious and original physiological treatise, evincing an inquiring and attentive study of natural phenomena. Dr. Thomas Brown, Professor Dugald Stewart, Paley, and others, have, however, successfully combated the positions of Darwin, particularly his theory which refers instinct to sensation. In 1801 our author came forward with another philosophical disquisition, entitled 'Phytologia, or the Philosophy of Agriculture and Gardening.' He also wrote a short treatise on ‘Female Education,' intended for the instruction and assistance of part of his own family. This was Darwin's last publication. He had always been a remarkably temperate man. Indeed, he totally abstained from all fermented and spirituous liquors, and in his · Botanic Garden 'he compares their effects to that of the Promethean fire. He was, however, subject to inflammation as well as gout, and a sudden attack carried him off in his seventy-first year, on the 18th of April 1802. Shortly after his death, was published a poem, the Temple of Nature,' which he had ready for the press, the preface to the work being dated only three months before his death. The · Temple of Nature’aimed, like the ‘ Botanic Garden,' to amuse by bringing distinctly to the imagination the beautiful and sublime images of the operations of nature. It is more metaphysical than its predecessor, and more inverted in style and diction.
The poetical reputation of Darwin was as bright and transient as the plants and flowers which formed the subject of his verse. Cowper praised his ‘song' for its rich embellishments, and said it was as strong' as it was learned and sweet. There is a fashion in poetry,' observes Sir Walter Scott, 'which, without increasing or diminishing the real value of the materials moulded upon it, does wonders in facilitating its currency while it has novelty, and is often found to impede its reception when the mode has passed away. This has been the fate of Darwin." Besides his coterie at Lichfield, the poet of Flora had considerable influence on the poetical taste of his own day. He may be traced in the 'Pleasures of Hope' of Campbell, and in other young poets of that time. The attempt to unite science with the inspirations of the Muse, was in itself an attractive novelty, and he supported it with various and high powers. His command of fancy, of poetical language, dazzling metaphors, and sonorous versification, was well seconded by his curious and multifarious laurledge. The effect of the whole, however, was artificial, and
destitute of any strong or continuous interest. The Rosicrucian
machinery of Pope was united to the delineation of human passions
and pursuits, and became the auxiliary of wit and satire; but who
can sympathise with the loves and metamorphoses of the plants ?
Darwin had no sentiment or pathos except in very brief episodical
passages, and even his eloquent and splendid versification, for want
of variety of cadence, becomes monotonous and fatiguing. There
is no repose, no cessation from the glare of his bold images, his com-
pound epithets, and high-toned melody. He had attained to rare
perfection in the mechanism of poetry, but wanted those impulses
of soul and sense, and that guiding taste which were required to give
it vitality, and direct it to its true objects.
Invocation to the Goddess of Botany.-From the Botanic Garden.'
“Stay your rude st ps! whose throbbing breasts infold
The legion-fiends of glory and of gold !
Stay, whose false lips seductive simpers part,
While cunning nestles in the harlot heart !
For you no dryads dress the roseate bower,
For you no nymphs their sparkling vases pour;
Unmarked by you, light graces swim the green,
And hovering Cupids aim their shafts unseen.
* But thou whose mind the well-attempered ray
Of taste and virtue lights with purer day ;
Whose finer sense with soft vibration owns
With sweet responsive sympathy of tones;
So the fair flower expands its lucid form
To ineet the sun, and shuts it to the storm ;
For thee my borders nurse the fragrant wreath,
My fountains murmur, and my zephyrs breathe;
Slow slides the painted snail, the gilded fly
Sm“oths his fine down, to charm thy curious eye;
On twinkling fins my pearly pinions play,
Or win with sinuous train their trackless way;
My plumy pairs in gay embroidery dressed,
Form with ingenious bill the pensile nest,
To love's sweet notes attune the listening dell,
And Echo sounds her soft symphonious shell.
. And if with thee some hapless maid should stray,
Disastrous love companion of her way,
Oh, Jead her timid steps to yonder glade,
Whose arching cliffs depending alders shade ;
Where, as meek evening wakes her temperate breeze,
And moonbeams glitter through the trembling trees,
The rills that gurgle round shall soothe her ear,
The weeping rocks shall number tear for tear;
There, as sad Philomei, alike forlorn,
Sings to the night from her accustomed thorn;
While at sweet intervals each falling note
Sighs the gale and whispers round the grot,
The sister woe shall calm her aching breast,
And softer slumbers steal her cares to rest.
• Winds of the north ! restrain your icy gales
Nor chill the bosom of these happy vales !
Hence in dark heaps, ye gathering clouds, revolve!
Disperse, ye lightnings, and ye mists, dissolve !
Hither, emerging from yon orient skies,
Botanic goddess, bend thy radiant eyes ;
O'er these soft scenes assume thy gentle reign,
Pomona, Ceres, Flora in thy train ;
O'er the still dawn thy placid smile effuse,
And with thy silver sandals print the dews;
In noon's bright blaze thy vermeil vest unfold,
And wave thy emerald banner starred with gold.'
Thus spoke the genius as he stept along,
And bade these lawns to peace and truth belong;
Down the steep slopes he led with modest skill
The willing pathway and the truant rill,
Stretched o'er the marshy vale yon willowy mound,
Where shines the lake ainid the tufted ground;
Raised the young woodland, smoothed the wavy green,
And gave to beauty all the quiet scene.
She comes ! the goddess ! through the whispering air,
Bright as the morn descends her blushing car;
Each circling wheel a wreath of flowers entwines,
And, gemmed with flowers, the silken harness shines ;
The golden bits with flowery studs are decked,
And knots of flowers the crimson reins connect.
And now on earth the silver axle rings,
And the shell sinks upon its slender springs;
Light from her airy seat the goddess bounds,
And steps celestial press the pansied grounds.
Fair Spring advancing calls her feathered quire,
And tunes to softer notes her laughing lyre;
Bids her gay hours on purple pinions move,
And arms her zephyrs with the shafts of love.
Destruction of Sennacherib's Army by a Pestilential Wind- From the
Economy of Vegetation.'
From Ashur's vales when proud Sennacherib trod,
Poured his swoln heart, defied the living God,
Urged with incessant shouts his glittering powers,
And Judah shook through all her massy towers;
Round her sad altars press the prostrate crowd,
Hosts beat their breasts, and suppliant chieftains bowed;
Loud shrieks of matrons thrilled the troubled air,
And trembing virgins rent their scattered hair;
High in the midst the kneeling king adored,
Spread the blaspheming scroll before the Lord,
Raised his pale hands, and breathed his pausing sighs,
And fixed on heaven his dim imploring eyes.
"O mighty God, amidst thy seraph throng
Who sit’st sublime, the judge of right and wrong;
Thine the wide earth, bright sun, and starry zone,
That twinkling journey round thy golden throne;
Thine is the crystal source of life and light,
And thine the realms of death's eternal night.
O bend thine ear, thy gracious eye incline,
Lo! Ashur's king blasphemes thy holy shrine,
Insults our offerings, and derides our vows.
O strike the diadem from his impious brows,
Tear from his murderous hand the bloody rod,
and teach the trembling nations - Thou art God !” ?
Sylphs ! in what dread array with pennons broad,
Oftward ye floated o'er the ethereal road;
Called each dank steam the reeking marsh exhales,
Contagiou vapours and volcanic gales ;