Page images
PDF
EPUB

· The fair OsmUNDA * seeks the filent dell,
The ivy canopy, and dripping cell ;
There hid in Thades, clandeftine rites approves,
Till the green progeny betrays her loves.

Five fifter-nymphs to join Diana's train
With thee, fair Lychnist! vow,- but vow in vain
Beneath one roof resides the virgin band,
Flies the fond swain, and scorns his offer'd hand;
But when soft hours on breezy pinions move,
And smiling May attunes her lute to love,
Each wanton beauty, trick'd in all her grace,
Shakes the bright dew-drops from her blushing face ;
In gay undress displays her rivals charms,
And calls ber wondering lovers to her arms.

The fell Silene I and her sisters fair,
Skill'd in deftruction, spread the viscous snare.
The harlot-band ten lofty bravoes screen,
And frowning guard the magic nets, unseen.-
Haste, glittering nations, tenants of the air,
Oh, steer from hence your viewless course afar !
If with soft words, sweet blushes, nods, and smiles,
The three dread Syrens lure you to their coils,
Lim'd with their art, in vain you point your stings ;
In vain the efforts of your whirring wings !
Go, seek your giided mates and infant hives,
Nor taste the honey purchas'd with your lives!'

* This plant grows on moist rocks; the parts of its flower or its seeds are scarce discernible; whence Linneus has given the name of clandestine marriage to this class. The younger plants are of a beautiful vivid green.

+ ' The Aowers, which contain the five females, and those which contain the ten males, are found on different plants; and often at a great distance from each other. When the females arrive at their maturity, they rise above the petals, as if looking abroad for their distant husbands ; the scarlet ones contribute much to the beauty of our meadows in May and June.'

I • Silene, CatchÂy-The viscous material which surrounds the Atalks under the lowers of this plant, and of the Cucubulus Otites, is a curious contrivance to prevent various insects from plundering the honey, or devouring the feed. In the Dionæa Muscipula there is a ftill more wonderful contrivance to prevent the depredations of insects : the leaves are armed with long teeth, like the antennæ of insects, and lie spread upon the ground round the ftem ; and are so irritable, that when an insect creeps upon them, they fold op,

and crush or pierce it to death. T'he flower of the Arum muscivorum has the smell of carrion; by which the flies are invited to lay their cggs in the chamber of the flower, but in vain endeavour to elcape, being prevented by the hairs pointing inwards; and thus perish in the flower, whence its name of Fly-eater.'

Though

Z 2

Though this bard professes to have counteracted the spells of Ovid, yet on some occasions he takes up the very wand of that great enchanter; and how skilfully he can manage it, the following transmutation will shew:

• On Dove's green brink the fair TREMELLA * food,
And viewed her playful image in the flood;
To each rude rock, lone dell, and echoing grove,
Sung the sweet sorrows of her secret love.-
“Oh, stay!-return!”-along the founding shore
Cried the sad Naiads,- she return'd no more !
Now, girt with clouds, the fullen Evening frown'd,
And withering Eurus swept along the ground;
The misty Moon withdrew her horned light,
And sunk with Hesper in the kirt of Night;
No dim electric streams (the porthern dawn)
With meek effulgence quiver'd o'er the lawn ;
No ftar benignant Mot one transient ray,
To guide or light the wanderer on her way.
Round the dark craggs the murmuring whirlwinds blow,
Woods groan above, and waters roar below;
As o'er the feeps with pausing foot she moves,

The pitying Dryads shriek amid their groves ; * – I have frequently observed fungufles of this genus on old rails and on the ground, to become a transparent jelly, after they had been frozen in autumnal mornings; which is a curious property, and distinguishes them from some other vegetable mucilage ; for I have observed that the paste, made by boiling wheat-flour in water, ceases to be adhesive after having been frozen. I suspected that the Tremella nofloc, or star-jelly, also had been thus produced; but have fince been well informed, that the Tremella nostoc is a mucilage voided by Herons after they have eaten frogs; hence it has the ap. pearance of having been pressed through a hole; and limbs of frogs are said sometimes to be found amongst it; it is always seen upon plains, or by the fides of water, places which Herons generally fre

quent.'

It may here be proper to add, from a note in a different part of the book (p. 166.), what the author says of another vegetable muciJage, bird lime, made from the bark of hollies; viz. that it seems to be a very similar material to the elastic gum, or Indian rubber as it is called.' This intimation may probably give rise to further inquiries, which will doubtlefs prove interesting to science, if they should not be productive of any immediate utility in arts.

• Some of the funguses are so acrid, that a drop of their juice blisters the tongue; others intoxicate those who eat them. The Ostiachs in Siberia use them for the latter purpose; one fungus, of the species agaricus muscarum, eaten raw, or the decoction of three of them, produces intoxication for 12 or 16 hours.- As all acrid plants become less so if exposed to a boiling heat, it is probable the common mushroom may sometimes disagree from being not fufficiently 'ftewed. The Oltiachs blister their skin by a fungus found on birch trees, and use the officinal agaricus for soap.'

She

[ocr errors]

She Aies,-the stops,-the pants,- she looks behind,
And hears a demon howl in every wind.
- As the bleak blast unfurls her Auttering vest,
Cold beats the snow upon her shuddering breast;
Through her numb'd limbs the chill fensations dart,
And the keen ice-bolt trembles at her heart.
“ I fink, I fall! oh, help me, help!"-she cries,
Her stiffening tongue the unfinish'd found denies;
Tear after tear adown her cheek sacceeds,
And pearls of ice bestrew the glistering meads;
Congealing snows her lingering feet surround,
Arrest her flight, and root her to the ground;
With suppliant arms she pours the filent prayer,
Her fuppliant arms hang crystal in the air ;
Pellucid films her shivering neck o'erspread,
Seal her mute lips, and silver o'er her head,
Veil her pale bosom, glaze her lifted hands,

And shrined in ice the beauteous ftatue stands.'-
The reader will, by this time, have observed, that though
the Loves of the Plants be the ground-work of the poem, a great
variety of collateral poetic ornaments very naturally branch out;
and we shall give a specimen of one or two of those that can be
the best detached from the subjects that gave rise to them—

• Fair Cista,
Hail'd with rude melody the new-born MAY,
As cradled yet in April's lap The lay.

1.
“ Born in yon blaze of orient sky,

Sweet May! thy radiant form unfold;
Unclose thy blue voluptuous eye,
And wave thy shadowy locks of gold.

II.
For thee the fragrant zephyrs blow,

For thee descends the funny Mower;
The rills in softer murmurs flow,
And brighter blossoms gem the bower.

III.
Light Graces dress'd in flowery wreaths

And tiptoe Joys their hands combine ;
And Love his sweet contagion breathes,
And laughing dances round thy shrine.

IV.
Warm with new life, the glittering throngs,

On quivering fin, and rustling wing,
Delighted join their votive songs,

And hail thee, goddess of the Spring.”
The account of a medicinal plant introduces Hygeia, -Con-
tagion,-BENEVOLENCE,--and an Encomium on Mr. Howard,
as just as it is poetic:

« From

i

[ocr errors]

• From realm to realm, with cross or crescent crown'd,
Where'er Mankind and Misery are found,
O'er burning sands, deep waves, or wilds of snow,
Thy Howard journeying seeks the house of woe.
Down many a winding Atep to dungeons dank,
Where anguish wails aloud, and fetters clank ;
To caves bestrewed with many a mouldering bone,
And cells, whose echoes only learn to groan ;
Where no kind bars a whispering friend disclose,
No sunbeam enters, and no zephyr blows,
He treads, inemulous of fame or wealth,
Profuse of toil, and prodigal of health ;
With soft assuasive eloquence expands
Power's rigid heart, and opes his clenching hands;
Leads ftern-ey'd Justice to the dark domains,
If not to sever, to relax the chains;
Or guides awaken's Mercy through the gloom,
And shews the prison, sister to the tomb !
Gives to her babes the self-devoted wife,
To her fond husband liberty and life!

Disease and Death retire, And murmuring Demons hate him, and admire.' The circumstance of Callia trusting her tawny children to the floods,' and of the fruits of some other American trees being conveyed by currents to the coasts of Norway, frequently in so recent a state as to vegetate, produces, by way of fimile, a highly pathetic episode of the preservation of Moses, in the cradle of Lotus leaves, on the Nile. But the poet does not stop at the preservation of the infant ;-he sketches oui, in glowing colours, the firft great act of the adult;

majestic from his lone abode,
Embassador of Heaven, the prophet trod;
Wrench'd the red scourge from proud OPPRESSION's hands,

And broke, curft SLAVERY! thy iron bands.' It is not to be expected that the warm imagination, and the benevolent heart, of our philosophic poet, could quit this idea without some animated touches on the present slavery of the Africans; which he concludes with an address to the British senate :

« Ye bands of Senators ! whose fuffrage sways
Britannia's realms,-whom either Ind obeys ;
Who right the injur'd, and reward the brave;
Stretch your ftrong arm, for ye have power to save !
Stern Conscience
With still small voice the plots of Guilt alarms,
Lights his dark mind, his lifted hand disarms;
But wrap'd 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

[ocr errors]

12mo.

[ocr errors]

The poem is divided into four Cantos, and between them are prose interludes, in the form of dialogues betwixt the poet and his bookseller ; in which various literary subjects are critically discussed, and placed in a new and, we think, a juft light; such as, the essential differerence between poetry and prose; the degree of analogy requitite in fimiles; the relationship between poetry and painting; the suitableness of allegoric figures for the former, and their unsuitableness for the latter; an affinity between poetry and music, respecting their measure or time; some advantages of the English language for poetical composition, above those of Rome or Greece, &c. &c. But we have already made fuch large extracts from the poem itself, that our limits will not admit of any more particular account, either of the interludes, or of the notes, and we shall only add, that the notes have great merit, and that science is not less indebted to the philosopher, than claffic tafte is to the poet. Chi Art. XIV. Bell's Claffical Arrangement of Fugitive Poetry. The first Three Vols.

gs. sewed *. Bell. 1789. N our Review for August 1788, we paid a just tribute of ap

probation to Mr. Bell's edition of Shakespeare, and now we have before us another specimen of the elegant productions of the press, under his direction.

The plan of this new undertaking is, to give to the public a selection of detached pieces of English poetry of acknowleged merit, formerly printed separately, or in prior colle&tions; and here republished, onder a classical arrangement:' a circumftance that will, probably, for the most obvious reasons, recommend the undertaking to most of its readers. Dodfey's Miscellany, and others of the kind, will, no doubt, contribute much toward the accomplishment of this design. The three volumes already published, which are more beautiful than bulky, contain the classes of Ethic Epistles,'-— Epiftles Familiar and Humorous,'-and Epistles Critical and Didactic.' The periods of publication are monthly. The first volume appeared February last, and the whole collection, as we gather from the advertisements on the covers, will be comprised in about twenty volumes, at 3s. each.

The collector (as far as we can venture to pronounce, from the volumes before us) has manifested no deficiency of taste, either in the choice of his subjects, or in respect of the merit of those pieces that he has selected: but as tafte has no flandard, we must leave the public to judge for themselves on this point.

In the ist volume (containing the Ethic Epiftles) we diftinguilh Soame Jenyns's Essay on Virtue,-Melmoth's Poem on

About 180 pages in each volume.

24

Active

« PreviousContinue »