« PreviousContinue »
The modest virtues mingled in her eyes,
Still on the ground dejected, darting all
Their humid beams into the blooming flowers :
Or, when the mournful tale her mother told,
Of what her faithless fortune promis'd once,
Thrill'd in her thought, they, like the dewy star
Of evening, shone in tears. A native grace
Sat, fair proportion'd, on her polish'd limbs,
Veil'd in a simple robe, their best attire,
Beyond the pomp of dress ; for loveliness
Needs not the foreign aid of ornament,
But is, when unadorn'd, adorn'd the most.
Thoughtless of beauty, she was beauty's self,
Recluse, amid the close embow'ring woods.
As in the hollow breast of Appenine,
Beneath the shelter of encircling hills,
A myrtle rises, far from human eye,
And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the wild i
So flourish'd blooming, and unseen by all,
The sweet Lavinia ; till at length compelld
By strong Necessity's supreme command,
With smiling patience in her looks, she went
To glean Palemon's fields. The pride of swains
Falemon was ; the generous and the rich ;
Who led the rural life, in all its joy
And elegance, such as Arcadian song,
Transmits from ancient uncorrupted times ;
When tyrant Custom had not shackled man,
But free to follow nature, was the mode.
He then, his fancy with autumnal scenes
Amusing, chanc'd beside his reaper train
To walk, when poor Lavinia drew his eye,
Unconscious of her power, and turning quick.
With unaffected blushes, from his gaze :
He saw her charming; but he saw not half
The charms her downcast modesty conceald.
That very moment love and chaste desire
Sprung in his bosom, to himself unknown ;
For still the world prevail'd, and its dread laugh
(Which scarce the firm philosopher can scorn)
Should his heart own a gleaner in the field ;
And thus in secret to his soul he sigh'd.
"What pity that so delicate a form, By beauty kindled, where enlivening sense, And more than vulgar goodness seems to dwell, Should be devoted to the rude embrace Of some indecent clown ! She looks, methinks, Of old Acasto's line ; and to my mind; Recalls that patron of my happy life, From whom my liberal fortune took its rise ;
Now to the dust gone down, his houses, lands,
And once fair spreading family, dissolv'd.
'Tis said that in some lone, obscure retreat,
Urg'd by remembrance sad, and decent pride,
Far from those scenes which knew their better days,
His aged widow and his daughter live,
Whom yet my fruitless search could never find ;
Romantic wish! would this the daughter were."
When, strict inquiring, from herself he found
She was the same, the daughter of his friend,
Of bountiful Acasto—who can speak
The mingled passions that surpriz'd his heart,
And through his nerves, in shiv'ring transport ran !
Then blaz'd his smother'd flame, avow'd, and bold !
And, as he view'd her, ardent o'er and o'er,
Love, gratitude and pity wept at once.
Confus'd and frighten'd at his sudden tears,
Her rising beauties fush'd a higher bloom ;
As thus Palemon, passionate and just,
Pour'd out the pious rapture of his soul.
“ And art thou, then, Acasto's dear remains i She whom my restless gratitude has sought So long in vain ? O yes ! the very same, The soften'd image of my noble friend ; Alive his every feature, every look, More elegantly touch'd. Sweeter than Spring! Thou sole surviving blossom from the root That nourish'd up my fortune! say, ah ! where, In what sequester'd desert hast thou drawn The kindest aspect of delighted heaven ! Into such beauty spread and blown so fair, Though poverty's cold wind and rushing rain, Beat keen and heavy on thy tender years. O let me now into a richer soil Transplant thee safe, where vernal suns and showers Diffuse their warmest, largest influence ; And of my garden be the pride and joy. Ill it befits thee, oh ! it ill befits: Acasto's daughter, his whose open stores, Though vast, were little to his ampler heart, The father of a country, thus to pick The very refuse of those harvest fields, Which from his bounteous friendship I enjoy. Then throw that shameful pittance from thy hand, But ill applied to such a rugged task ; The fields, the master, all, ny fair, are thine ; If to the various blessings which thy house Has on me lavish'd, thou wilt add that bliss, That dearest bliss, the power of blessing thee." Here ceas'd the youth ; yet still his speaking eye
Express'd the secret triumph of his soul,
With conscious virtue, gratitude and love,
Above the vulgar joy divinely rais'd.
Nor waited he reply. Won by the charm
Of goodness irresistible, and all
In sweet disorder lost—she blush'd consent.
The news immediate to her mother brought,
While, pierc'd with anxious thought, she pin'd away
The lonely moments for Lavinia's fate :
Amaz'd anri scarce believing what she heard,
Joy seiz'd her wither'd vein, and one bright gleam
Of setting life shone on her evening hours :
Not less enraptur'd than the happy pair,
Who flourish'd long in tender bliss, and reara
A numerous offspring, lovely like themselves,
And good, the grace of all the country round.
VI.—Celadon and Amelia.-IB.
And his Amelia were a matchless pair,
With equal virtue form'd, and equal grace,
The same, distinguish'd by their sex alone.
Hers, the mild lustre of the blooming morn,
And his the radiance of the risen day.
They lov'd. But such their guiltless passion was*
As, in the dawn of time, inforni'd the heart
Of innocence and undissembling truth.
'Twas friendship, heightened by the mutual wish t
Th' enchanting hope and sympathetic glow
Beam'd from the mutual eye. Devoting all
To love, each was to each a dearer self ;
Supremely happy in th' awaken'd power
Of giving joy. Alone, amid the shades,
Still, in harmonious intercourse, they liv'd
The rural day, and talk'd the flowing heart ;
Or sigh'd and look'd--unutterable things.
So pass'd their life, a clear united stream, By care unruffled, till, in evil hour, The tempest caught them on the tender walk, Heedless how far and here its mazes stray'd; While, with each other uiess'd creative love Still bade eternal Eden smile around. Presaging instant fate, her bosom heav'd Unwonted sighs ) and stealing oft a look Tow'rds the big gloom, on Celadon her eye Fell tearful, wetting her disorder'd cheek. In vain assuring love and confidence In heaven repress'd her fear ; it grew, and shook Her frame near dissolution. He perceiv'd. Th' unequal conflict; and, as angels llmk.
On dying saints, his eyes compassion shed,
With love illumin'd high. “ Fear not," he said,
“ Sweet innocence ! thou stranger to offence
And inward storm! He who yon skies involves
In frowns of darkness, ever smiles on thee,
With kind regard. O'er thee the secret shaft,
That wastes at midnight, or th’undreaded hour
Of noon, flies harmless; and that very voice
Which thunders terror through the guilty heart,
With tongues of seraphs whispers peace to thine.
'Tis safety to be near thee, sure, and thus
To clasp, perfection !" From his void embrace,
(Mysterious Heaven !) that moment to the ground,
A blacken'd corse was struck the beauteous maid.
But who can paint the lover as he stood,
Pierc'd by severe amazement, hating life,
Speechless, and fix'd in all the death of woe.
VII.--Description of Mab, Queen of Che Fairies.-
SHE is the fancy's midwife ; and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone,
On the fore finger of an Alderman ;
Drawn by a team of little atomies,
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep ;
Her waggon spokes, made of long spinner's legs :
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers ;
The traces, of the smallest spider's web ;
The collars, of the moonshine's wat'ry beams;
Her whip, of cricket's bone ; the lash of film ;
Her waggoner, a small gray coated gnat ;
Her charriot is an empty hazle nut,
Made by the joiner Squirrel, or old Grub,
Time out of mind the fairies' coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops, night by night,
Through lovers'brains, and then they dream of love ;
O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream of fees;
O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream ;
And sometimes comes she with the tithe pigs' tail,
Tickling the parson as he lies asleep,
Then dreams he of another benefice.
Sometimes she driveth o'er a soldier's neck ;
And then he dreams of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades ;
Of healths five fathoms deep; and then, anon,
Drums in his ears : at which he starts and wakes ;
And being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two,
And sleeps again.
VIII.- On the Existence of a Deity.--YOUNG.
RETIRE—The world shut out—thy thoughts call home Imagination's airy wing repress. Lock up thy senses. Let no passion stir. Wake all to reason. Let her reign alone. Then, in thy soul's deep silence, and the depth Of nature's silence, midnight, thus inquire. What am I ? and from whence ? I nothing know But that I am ; and since I am, conclude Something eternal. Had there e'er been nought, Nought still had been. Eternal there must be. But, what eternal? Why not human race, And Adam's ancestors, without an end ? That's hard to be conceiv'd, since every link Of that long chain'd succession is so frail; Can every part depend, and not the whole ? Yet, grant it true, new difficulties rise : I'm still quite out at sea, nor see the shore. Whence earth and these bright orbs ? Eternal too! Grant matter was eternal : still these orbs Would want some other father. Much design Is seen in all their motions, all their makes. Design implies intelligence and art, That can't be from themselves—or man ; that art Man scarce can comprehend, could man bestow : And nothing greater yet allow'd than man. Who, motion, foreign to the smallest grain, Shot through vast masses of enormous weight ? Who bid brute matter's restive lump assume Such various forms, and gave it wings to fly? Has matter innate motion ? Then each atom, Asserting its indisputable right To dance, would form an universe of dust. Has matter none ? Then whence these glorious forms, And boundless flights, from shapeless and repos'd ? Has matter more than motion ? Has it thought, Judgment and genius? Is it deeply learn'd In mathematics? Has it fram'd such laws, Which, but to guess, a Newton made immortal 1 If art to form, and council to conduct, And that with greater far than human skill, Resides not in each block—a Godhead reigns
And if a God there is that God how great! IX.—Evening in Paradise described: Adam and Eve's
Conversation and Evening Worship.-MILTON,
NOW came still evening on, and twilight gray
Had in her sober livery all things clad..
Silence accompanied; for beast and bird,..