תמונות בעמוד

lected for those splendid passages and striking incidents which irradiate the whole poem. In lines like the following, he speaks with a mingled sweetness and dignity, superior even to his great master Dryden :

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest.
The soul, uncasy and confined, from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Lo! the poor Indian, whose untutored mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His soul, proud science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk on milky way;
Yet simple nature to his hope has given
Behind the cloud-topped hill a humbler heaven;
Some safer world in depth of woods embraced,
Some happier island in the watery waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
Nor fiends torment, nor Christians thirst for gold.
To be, contents his natural desire,
He asks no angel's wing, no seraph's fire;
But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company.

The poetic labors of Pope during the last few years of his life were confined chiefly to satire. In 1727, he had published, in conjunction with Swift, three volumes of Miscellanies in prose and verse, which drew down, upon the authors, a torrent of invectives and lampoons, and which eventually led to the production of Pope's Dunciad. This elaborate satire displays the fertile invention of the poet, the variety of his illustration, and the force and facility of his diction; but the work is now read with a feeling more allied to pity than to admiration-pity that one so highly gifted should have allowed himself to descend to things so mean, and to devote the close of a great literary life to the infliction of unnecessary pain on every humble aspirant in the world of letters. 'I have often wondered,' says Cowper, that the same poet who wrote the 'Dunciad' should have written these lines :

That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.

Alas for Pope, if the mercy he showed to others was the measure of the mercy he received.'

Pope's satire is very different from that of Dryden. It is neither so keen nor so bright. Whom he attacks, he butchers; whom he cuts, he mangles. He shows us not the lifeless corpse of his victim, but the writhings and the tortured limbs. For the object of Dryden's satire we never feel any thing like sympathy. His fiat seems the fiat of unerring justice, which it would be almost impiety to dispute. Pope exhibits more of the accuser than of the judge. Petty interests and personal malice, instead of love of justice,



and hatred of vice, appear to be the powers

which nerve his arm. The victim is sure to fall beneath his blow, but the deed, however righteous, inspires us with no regard for the executioner.

Sir Walter Scott has very justly remarked that Pope must have suffered more from these wretched contentions than his antagonists. It is well-known that his temper was ultimately much changed for the

Misfortunes were also now gathering round him. Swift, his dearest friend, was fast verging on insanity, and was lost to the world. Atterbury and Gay died in 1732; and soon after his venerable mother, whose declining years he had watched with such affectionate solicitude, also expired. To this accumulation of sorrows we may add an important political event. The anticipated approach of the Pretender induced the government to issue a proclamation prohibiting every Roman Catholic from appearing within ten miles of London. Pope complied with the proclamation ; and he was soon afterward too ill to be in town. This additional proclamation from the Highest of all Powers,' as he termed his sickness, he submitted to without murmuring. A constant state of excitement, added to a life of ceaseless study and contemplation, operating on a frame naturally delicate, and even deformed from birth, had completely exhausted the sinking poet's powers. He complained of want of ability to think; yet a short time before his death he said, “ İ am so certain of the soul's being immortal, that I seem to feel it within me as it were by intuition. Another of his dying remarks was, “There is nothing that is meritorious but virtue and friendship; and, indeed, friendship itself is only a part of virtue.' Pope died at Twickenham, on the thirtieth of May, 1744, having just passed the fifty-sixth year of his age.

As a poet, it would be improper to rank Pope with those great masters of the lyre—Chaucer, Spenser, Shakspeare, and Milton. He belongs to the school of Dryden, and was more the poet of artificial life and manners, than the poet of nature. In comparing his versification with that of his great master, it is difficult to determine to which the preference belongs. In ease and sweetness, Pope has the advantage; but in majesty and power, Dryden left our versification at a point from which it has since rather receded than advanced. Pope, it is true, levelled and polished it; but he levelled the rocks that impelled, as well as the stones that impeded its majestic current, and he polished away much of its grandeur, as well as of its roughness. Pope, however, had a finer fancy than Dryden, and we are almost inclined to say, in opposition to the popular opinion, that he possessed more genius. We know of nothing so original and imaginative in the whole range of Dryden's poetry as the “Rape of the Lock;' no descriptions of nature that can compare with those in the Windsor Forest;' and nothing so tender and feeling as many parts of the 'Elegy on an Unfortunate Lady,' and the 'Epistle from Eloisa to Abelard. With that ‘Elegy,' and the Mes. siah, we shall close our remarks upon this interesting author :


What beck’ning ghost, along the moonlight shade,
Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade ?
'Tis she !--but why that bleeding bosom gored ?
Why dimly gleams the visionary sword ?
O ever beauteous, ever friendly! tell,
Is it in heaven, a crime to love too well ?
To bear too tender or too firm a heart,
To act a lover's or a Roman's part ?
Is there no bright reversion in the sky
For those who greatly think, or bravely die ?

Why bade ye else, ye powers ! her soul aspire
Above the vulgar flight of low desire ?
Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes;
The glorious fault of angels and of Gods:
Thence to their images on earth it flows,
And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows.
Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age,
Dull sullen prisoners in the body's cage:
Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years,
Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres;
Like eastern kings, a lazy state they keep,
And close confined to their own palace sleep.

From these, perhaps, (ere nature bade her die)
Fate snatched her early to the pitying sky.
As into air the purer spirits flow,
And separate from their kindred dregs below;
So flew the soul to its congenial place,
Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.

But thou, false guardian of a charge too good, Thou mean deserter of thy brother's blood ! See on these ruby lips the trembling breath, These cheeks now fading at the blast of death; Cold is that breast which warmed the world before, And those love-darting eyes must roll no more. Thus, if eternal justice rules the ball, Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall: On all the line a sudden vengeance waits; And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates: There passengers shall stand, and, pointing, say (While the long funerals blacken all the way), Lo! these were they, whose souls the furies steeled And cursed with hearts unknowing how to yield. Thus unlamented pass the proud away, The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day! So perish all, whose breast ne'er learned to glow For other's good, or melt at other's woe.

What can atone (0 ever injured shade !) Thy fate unpitied, and thy rites unpaid ? No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear Pleas'd thy pale ghost, or graced thy mournful bier; By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed, By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed,

By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned,
By strangers honoured, and by strangers mourned!
What though no friends in sable weeds appear,
Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year,
And bear about the mockery of woe
To midnight dances and the public show?
What though no weeping loves thy ashes grace,
Nor polished marble emulate thy face ?
What though no sacred earth allow thee room,
Nor hallowed dirge be mutter'd o'er thy tomb?
Yet shall thy grave with rising flowers be dresse
And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast :
There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow;
There the first roses of the year shall blow;
While angels with their silver wings o'ershade
The ground now sacred by thy relics made.

So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame.
How loved, how honoured once, avails thee not,
To whom related, or by whom begot;
A heap of dust alone remains of thee;
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be!

Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung
Deaf the praised ear, and mute the tuneful tongue.
Even he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays,
Shall shortly want the generous tear he pays;
Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part,
And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart;
Life's idle business at one gasp be o'er,
The muse forgot, and thou beloved no more!


Ye nymphs of Solyma ! begin the song:
To heavenly themes sublimer strains belong.
The mossy fountains and the sylvan shades,
The dreams of Pindus, and the Aonian maids,
Delight no more-0 thou my voice inspire,
Who touch'd Isaiah’s hallowed lips with fire!
Rapt into future times, the bard begun :
A Virgin shall conceive, a Virgin bear a Son!
From Jesse's root behold a branch arise,
Whose sacred flower with fragrance fills the skies
The ethereal spirit o'er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descends the mystic Dove.
Ye heavens ! from high the dewy nectar pour,
And in soft silence shed the kindly shower.
The sick and weak the healing plant shall aid,
From storms a shelter, and from heat a shade.
All crimes shall cease, and ancient frauds shall fail ;
Returning Justice lift aloft her scale;
Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend,
And white-robed Innocence from heaven descend.
Swift fly the years, and rise the expected morn!
Oh spring to light, auspicious Babe, be born!

:744 A.D.)

See, nature hastes her earliest wreaths to bring,
With all the incense of the breathing spring !
See lofty Lebanon his head advance !
See nodding forests on the mountains dance !
See spicy clouds from lowly Sharon rise,
And Carmel's flowery top perfume the skies !
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers;
Prepare the way! a God, a God appears !
A God, a God! the vocal hills reply;
The rocks proclaim the approaching Deity.
Lo! earth receives him from the bending skies ;
Sink down, ye mountains; and ye valleys rise;
With heads declined, ye cedars homage pay;
Be smooth, ye rocks: ye rapid floods, give way!
The Saviour comes ! by ancient bards foretold :
Hear him, ye deaf: and all ye blind, behold !
He from thick films shall purge the visual ray,
And on the sightless eyeball pour the day:
'Tis he the obstructed paths of sound shall clear,
And bid new music charm the unfolding ear:
The dumb shall sing, the lame his crutch forego,
And leap exulting like the bounding roe.
No sigh, no murmur, the wild world shall hear;
From every face he wipes off every tear.
In adamantine chains shall death be bound,
And hell's grim tyrant feel the eternal wound.
As the good shepherd tends his fleecy care,
Seeks freshest pasture, and the purest air ;
Explores the lost, the wandering sheep directs,
By day o'ersees them, and by night protects;
The tender lambs he raises in his arms,
Feeds from his hand or in his bosom warms;
Thus shall mankind his guardian care engage,
The promised father of the future age.
No more shall nation against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes;
Nor fields with gleaming steel be covered o'er,
The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more :
But useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad falchion in a ploughshare end.
Then palaces shall rise; the joyful son
Shall finish what his short-lived sire begun;
Their vines a shadow to their race shall yield,
And the same hand that sowed, shall reap the field.
The swain in barren deserts with surprise
Sees lilies spring, and sudden verdure rise ;
And starts amidst the thirsty wilds to hear
New falls of water murmuring in his ear.
On rifted rocks, the dragon's late abodes,
The green reed trembles, and the bulrush nods.
Waste sandy valleys, once perplexed with thorn
The spiry fir and shapely box adorn:
To leafless shrubs the flowery palms succeed,

« הקודםהמשך »