Page images

had been unjustly banished; but, in the hour of her danger, he forgot the cruelty of his own wrongs in the severity of hers. Rome recalled the injured patriot from banishment, and gave him the command of her forces; and so completely did he defeat the enemy, not a soul was left to publish their destruction. The same lofty sense of honour in the same individual, refused with contempt, and visited with chastisement, the base overtures of a schoolmaster, who would have put into his power some of his pupils, sons of the principal men of the city besieged by Camillus, in order to ensure its speedy surrender.

These examples place man in the best light, and evince that he is sometimes influenced by motives of the purest kind, emanating from something more stable, lasting, and glorious, than his frail tenement of animated earth. It was surely something like this, that, in the midst of suffering, sustained the unfortunate, but illustrious Regulus, who, after being defeated and taken prisoner by Xanthippus, the Carthaginian general, was sent to Rome by the enemy, to propose an accommodation; being first bound by the most solemn oaths to return to Carthage, if his mission proved unsuccessful. When he arrived in Rome, he strenuously advised the Romans not to accede to the terms of the Carthaginians, and returned to Carthage, in compliance with his oaths, regardless of the unmitigated cruelties he well knew he should experience in the capital of Africa.

Such were the Romans at this time. The heart swells with exultation at these instances of heroism and self-devotedness. They shew an intrinsic goodness in man's heart,—a disinterested virtue, that seeks for no reward beyond the pure responses of a well-directed mind, conscious of having endeavoured to do its duty.

It is true that these are individual examples of public spirit, but do they partake less of nationality on that account? From what does a nation receive its character for literature, but from the labours or genius of the gifted few? Egypt stood indebted for her pre-eminence in learning, and Greece for her taste and skill in the fine arts, not to the multitude that formed the majority of those people, but to the vividness and transcendent qualities of mind found in those, whose names will endure on the scanty, but sacred roll of fame.

But Rome needs not even this explanation: her history bears ample testimony to her public spirit; it animated and incited the entire body of her people. When Hannibal, after the terrible battle of Cannæ, appeared before the walls of Rome, there was nothing of dejection nor timidity visible amongst the Roman people; but, in the midst of their cala

Canst thou with apathy have view'd
This pitiless and mighty brood!


See! how they come, like torrents thrown
Loud from a thousand mountains down!
When first transgression burst to birth,
Ne'er follow'd Satan to the earth,
(So Fancy says-and that she saw,) –
Such train with ruin for its law;
Though follow'd then his daughter foul,
And all her hounds, with hideous howl,
And the so grisly spectre dread,
Who shook the weapon at his head,
Growing still more deform and fell,
To thwart him at the gates of hell;
And all of fiends the Stygian-band,
That fierce forsook their burning strand,
With dire, tartarian terrors then,
In hate unto the race of men,

And with revenge, vain-daring strode,
In arms against the Almighty God!
So Fancy says,-and so 1 ween,

Then not more dread had been that scene,
Had Winter's train not follow'd fell,
And swell'd the awe, and fill'd the yell!
Thou splendid charioteer of day!
Canst thou see these, and yet not stay
Thy coursers lessening on our sight?
Return thy fervid wheels of light!
Conquer our barb'rous enemies,
Arisen from the northern seas!
Wilt thou desert thy Western Isles,
Where thou hast shed paternal smiles?
Where thou sweet chamber'st in the eve,
And we thy mildest sway receive?
Or do the sons of south reclaim
Thy fiercest, yet thy welcom'd, flame?
Hail! oh, ye climes of mountains high,
Detaining radiant Phoebus nigh,

And all his heat, from neighb'ring vale,---
Zone of unequal Seasons, hail !
Lands, zenith of the car of day,
Surrounded by the ocean's spray;
Ye rivers of the torrid world,
Producing many a vapour curl'd,
Resistive to the sun, which rise,
And bear it to its native skies:
Ye wilds of sand, that long retain
The hot beams of Sol's ardent reign,
And in the sultry night enlarge
To wings of air the fervid charge;

Ye lands of sulphur, whence ascend
Hot exhalations to the wind,

Where dews of nitre, through the vale,
Most fertile, penetrating sail,—
Climes of the varying winds, all hail!
Bright Phœbus, to our clime denied,
Visits your territory wide,

Emblem of Fortune of this earth,

On whom she smil'd, she frowns a dearth,
On whom she frown'd, she rays her smiles,
And them again in turn reviles!

Such is Man's varying state below, --
That day was bliss, and this is woe;
Her wheel revolves, and joy and pain
Succeed in an alternate reign.

My genius turns his natal land to see,-
Is that the blossom-down on every tree?
Or whiten'd wing of vernal swallows spread?
Long have the blossoms been matur'd to fruit,
And that bath fail'd from ev'ry root;
The leaves have fall'n from ev'ry bough;
The swallows to another clime have fled,
Or, hanging o'er the marshy lake,
Sank down, thick-cluster'd, to its deep abyss.
It is the snow that whitens every brake,
Glistening on every tree and every hill,-
It, smiling, mocks surrounding woe,
With the fond shine of bliss!

The lark, high soaring from his nest below,
Welcomes no more the morn with ecstasy;
Where do ye, vernal warblers, trill
Your soul-entrancing melody?
Have ye retir'd, averse to gloom,
In solitude to weep your doom?
Do ye, like th' Israelites of old,

Refuse your harps of song to string,
Save in your native, glowing Spring,
When all the laud is cloth'd in gold?
My harp, that sprightlier themes hath sang,
Shall I upon the willow hang?

And, like that tree above the stream of grief,
In sorrow sel, my head depress'd,-

My arms woe-folded,—and oft sigh relief
From the affliction of my breast?

My bosom shall not breathe its moans! —
But hang there, harp of many tones!

Blow thro' its chords, ye winds of winter shrill!
Your wild, unmeasur'd notes apply

Unto its yielding minstrelsy!

Admit me for thy priest, O mighty power!
Me with thy fierce emotions fill!
And in thine all-inspiring hour,

Rapt by the god, with frantic mien,-
Ob, be thy spirit in thy Prophet seen!

It was the hand of Prejudice, which wrought
Thy picture, with but dismal horrors fraught!
Within thy terrors Deity abides,

Tremendous Winter, venerable form!

On thy wide-thundering wings JEHOVAH rides,
In whirlwind, and in storm!

All hail! ye Northern Horrours! hail!

Ye suit the sacred musing of my mind,On the tempest, my spirit! free and fearlessly sail! Rapidly rush with the wings of the wind! I feel my soul with fury fir'd, Disturb'd, exalted, rapt, inspir'd!Now convey me, Winter hoar, Upon thy tempest-beaten shore,

To hear thy wind's long, rough, resounding roar ! The mountains around

Re-rattling the sound,

Their sturdy sons low to the foot descending,
The rushing blasts the forest rending!
Here will I place my harp,-attune its string!
O, let thy storms against it ring,

And in their proper cadence sing,
Till their sound be heard no more!

Hail! seat of grandeur! Terror's fane!
Temple high of cogitation,

Rising with the undulation!—

How tranquil,-calm, thou art, O jasper Main!
Hark! hark! the boding spirit of the rock
Utters forth a hollow sound!-

Prepare! prepare! ye seamen, for the shock,-
Prepare! prepare!

The storm now gathers round

His dusky wings of fear!

Mark the tenebrous elements-thy frown!
Lo! the big torrent bursts,-it thunders down!
Shipmen! ye your direst foe surrounds,
Hark! the clarion of the tempest sounds!
Shipmen! 'mid this tremendous jar,
Arm all your powers to the war!
The hour of energy forsook,
Upon the next ye dare not look,—
The hour of energy will not avail !
Who can quell the troubled main ?

Sleep! sleep! ye winds! your blust'rings fail!
Be ocean hush'd to peace again!

It will not be !

No star-beam is reveal'd

Welcome the darkness!-Ruin be conceal'd!
Lightnings! mock ye the ineffectual prayer?
Dazzling the moon's uncertain glance,
How ye intermitting glare
Along the wide expanse,

Disclosing all the horrors of the gloom;
Flick'ring as the seaman's hope,
Upborne upon the mighty waves —
As with their destiny they cope !
And must this be your day of doom?
The swelling surges be your graves?
Ye victims of the wild of water!

Hoarse howls the blast!-upon it's plume
Your shrieks are borne to every quarter!
Loud echo spreads the dismal sound,
Long and mournfully around,

Increasing resonant through all the dark profound!
What dolour burthens all the air!

Ye strugglers with the swell of might!

Where are ye now?—

Past hope and past despair!

Death draws the curtain close in everlasting night!Upon a deep-brown rock retir'd,

Viewing the grand of Nature's wrath, O were they not such scenes, ye sons of soul! Your wild sublimity inspired?

Yes; I retrace your venerable path!

I would your burning raptures roll-
Yea, I would share that envied cest,
Which one* unrivall'd hath possest !

Instructed to the solemn rite,
By scenes of majesty and might,
Let me, thy priest, bid to aspire,
Winter, thy sacrificial fire!

And while before thy fane I stand,
Awaiting thy divine command,
Give me, inspired, to proclaim,
And call on thy mysterious name!

O awful Chief, of hoary hair,
Thou Soother of the brow of care!
Lo, humid-eyed Misfortune's gaze,
The barren scene around surveys.

* See Collins' ode, "On the Poetical Character."

« PreviousContinue »