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Eternal King! whose potent arm sustains
The keys of hell and death.—The Grave—dread thing!
Men shiver when thou'rt named. Nature, appall'd,
Shakes off her wonted firmness.—Ah! how dark
Thy long-extended realms, and rueful wastes!
Where naught but silence reigns, and night, dark ni'-dit,
Dark as was chaos, ere the infant sun
Was roll'd together, or had tried his beams
Athwart the gloom profound.
Invidious Grave! how dost thou rend in sunder Whom love has knit, and sympathy made one! A tie more stubborn far than nature's band. Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul! Sweetener of life! and solder of society! I owe thee much. Thou hast deserved from me Far, far beyond what I can ever pay. Oft have I proved the labors of thy love, And the warm efforts of thy gentle heart Anxious to please. Oh! when my friend and 1 In some thick wood have wanderVl heedless on Hid from the vulgar eye, and sat us down Upon the sloping cowslip-cover d bank, Where the pure limpid stream has slid along In grateful errors through tile underwood, Sweet murmuring, methought the shrill-tongued thrush Mended his song of love; the sooty blackbird Mellow'd his pipe, and soften'd every note; The eglantine smell'd sweeter, and the rose Assumed a dye more deep; whilst every flower Vied with its fellow-plant in luxury Of dress! Oh! Uien the longest summer's day Seem'd too, too much in haste: still, the full heart Had not imparted half: 'twas happiness Too exquisite to last. Of joys departed Not to return, how painful the remembrance!
DEATH, THE GOOD MAN'S PATH TO ETERNAL JOV.
Thrice welcome Death!
High in his faith and hopes, look how he reaches
After the prize in view! and, like a bird
That's hamper'd, struggles lmrd to get away!
Whilst the glad gates of sight are wide expanded
To let new glories in, the lirst fair fruits
Of the fast-coming harvest. Then, oh, then,
Each earth-born joy grows vile, or disappears,
Shrunk to a tiling of naught! Oh, how he longs
To have his passport sign'd, and be disiniss'd 1
Tis done—and now he's happy! The glad soul
Has not a wish uncrown'd. E'en the lag flesh
Rests, too, in hope of meeting once again
Its belter half, never to sunder more.
Nor shall it hope in vain: the time draws on
When not a single spot of burial earth,
WhcUier on land, or in the spacious sea,
But must give back its long-committed dust
Inviolate; and faithfully shall these
Make up the full account; not the least atom
Embezzled or mislaid of the whole tale.
Each soul shall have a body ready furnish'd;
And each shall have his own. Hence, ye profane
Ask not how this can be? Sure the same Power
That rear'd the piece at first, and took it down.
Can reassemble tho loose scatter'd parts,
And put them as they were. Almighty God
Hath done much more: nor is his arm impair'd
Through length of days; and what he can, ho will;
His faithfulness stands bound to see it done.
When the dread trumpet sounds, the slumbering dust,
Not unattentivo to the call, shall wake;
And every joint possess its proper place,
With a new elegance of form unknown
To its first state. Nor shall the conscious soul
Mistake its partner, but amidst the crowd,
Singling its other half, into its arms
Shall rush, with all th' impatience of a man
That's new come home, and, having long been absent,
With haste runs over every different room,
In pain to see tho whole. Thrice-happy meeting!
Nor time, nor death, shall ever part them more.
Tis but a night, a long and moonless night; We make the grave our bud, and then are gone!
Thus, at the shut of even, the weary bird Leaves the wide air, and in some lonely brake Cowers down, and dozes till the dawn of day, Theu claps his well-fledged wings, and bears away. JAMES THOMSON. 1700—1748.
James Thomson, tin* author of "The Season?/' was the son of n Scolch clergyman, and was lxirn in the year 1700. After completing his academic education at the University of Edinburgh, he entered upon the study of divinity; but a purapimtse of one of the Psalms having been given, by the professor of divinity, to the class, Thomson's exercise was in so poetical and figurative a style as to astonish all who heard it. This incident made him resolve to quit divinity for poetry, and, after some time, he went to London, p<xir and friendless, to try his fortune, with the manuscript of u Winter" in his pocket. It was with difficulty he found a purchaser for it, and the price given was trilling. It was published in 1726, and after a period of neglect,1 was admired and applauded, and a number of editions speedily followed. His "Summer" appeared in 1727, "Spring" in 1728, and "Autumn" in 1730.
After the publication of the Seasons, he travelled on the continent with the son of the Lord Chancellor Talbot, and on his return employed himself in the composition of his various tragedies, and his poem on "Liberty." These are by no means equal to his other performances, and are now but little read. In May, 1748, he finished his "Castle of Indolence," upon which he had been laboring for years. This is the noblest effort of his genius. "To it," says Campbell, "he brought not only the full nature, but the perfect art of a poet. The materials of that exquisite poem are derived originally from Tasso; but he was more immediately indebted for them to the Faerie Queene." Indeed, of all the imitations of Spenser, it is the most spirited and beautiful, both for its moral, poetical, and descriptive power. He did not long survive its publication. A violent cold, through inattention, terminated in a fever, and carried him off on the 27th of August, 1748.
In nature and originality, Thomson is superior to all the descriptive poets except Cowper, and few poems in the English language have been more popular than the "Seasons." «It is almost stale to remark," observes Campbell, "the beauties of a poem so universally felt; the truth and genial interest with which he carries us through the life of the year; the harmony of succession which he gives to the casual phenomena of nature; his pleasing transition from native to foreign scenery; and the soul of exalted and unfeigned benevolence which accompanies his prospects of the creation. It is but equal justice to say that, amidst the feeling and fancy of the 1 Seasons,' we meet with interruptions of declamation, heavy narrative, and unhappy digression."*
But though Thomson's merits as n descriptive poet are of the first order; though "he looks with the eye which nature bestows only on a poet, and with a mind that at once comprehends the vast, and attends to the minute," yet his greatest charm, and that which makes him so popular with all classes, is, that he looks also with a heart that feels for all mankind. As has been well said, "his sympathies are universal." His touching allusions to the con
1 "When Thomson published his "Winter," It lay a long* time neglected, till Mr. Spense roaJe honorable mention of It In his " Odyssey," which, becoming a popular book, made the poem universally known."— Warian.
3 "Thomson was blessed with a strong and copious fancy: he hath enriched poetry with a variety of new and original Images, which he painted from nature lt*elf, and from bis own actual observv Uons: his descrfpUona have therefore a distinctness and truth which are utterly wanting to those of poeU who have only copied from each other, and have never looked abroad on the objects torTM selves."— tfarton'i T<pe, 1.42.
ditions of the poor and suffering; to the hapless state of bird and beast in winter; the description of the peasant perishing in tho snow; the Siberian exile, or the Arab pilgrims, all are marked with that humanity and true feeling which show that the poet's virtues "formed the magic of his song." The genuine impulses under which he wrote, he has expressed in one noble stanza in the "Cattle of Indolence:"—
I care not, Fortune, what you mo deny;
THE LOVES OF THE BIRDS.
When first tho soul of love is sent abroad,
Tis love creates their melody, and all
Try every whining way inventive love
A SUMMER SCENE.
Around th' adjoining brook, that purls along
Tis listening fear and dumb amazement all;
Confess'd from yonder slow-cxtinguish'd clouds,