תמונות בעמוד

sion-with a parhelion eloquence that throws a counterfeit glow of expression on common-place ideas—as when he treats us to the solemnly ridiculous bathing of Musidora; or draws from the classics in. stead of nature; or, after invoking Inspiration from her hermit-seat, makes his dedicatory bow to a patronizing countess, or speaker of the House of Commons. As long as he dwells in the pure contemplation of nature, and appeals to the universal poetry of the human breast, his redundant style comes to us as something venial and adventitious it is the flowing vesture of the druid; and perhaps to the general experience is rather imposing : but when he returns to the familiar narrations or courtesies of life, the same diction ceases to seem the mantle of inspiration, and only strikes us by its unwieldy difference from the common costumé of expression. Between the period of his composing the Seasons and the Castle of Indolence, he wrote several works, which seem hardly to accord with the improvement and maturity of his taste exhibited in the latter production. To the Castle of Indolence 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 Fairy Queen: and in meeting with the paternal spirit of Spenser he seems as if he were admitted more intimately to the home of inspiration. There he redeemed the jejune ambition of his style, and retained all its wealth and luxury without the accompaniment of ostentation. Every stanza of that charming allegory, at least of the whole of the first part of it, gives out a group of images from which the mind is reluctant to part, and a flow of harmony which the ear wishes to hear repeated.



O MORTAL man, who livest here by toil,
Do not complain of this thy hard estate;
That like an emmet thou must ever moil,
Is a sad sentence of an ancient date;
And, certes, there is for it reason great ;
For, though sometimes it makes thee weepand wail,
And curse thy star, and early drudge and late,

Withouten that would come an heavier bale,
Loose life, unruly passions, and diseases pale.

In lowly dale, fast by a river's side,
With woody hill o'er hill encompass'd round,
A most enchanting wizard did abide,
Than whom a fiend more fell is no where found.
It was, I ween, a lovely spot of ground:
And there a season atween June and May, .
Half prankt with spring, with summer half im-

brown'd, A listless climate made, where, sooth to say, No living wight could work, ne cared ev'n for play,

Was nought around but images of rest :
Sleep-soothing groves, and quiet lawns between;
And flowery beds that slumberous influence kest,
From poppies breath'd; and beds of pleasant green,
Where never yet was creeping creature seen.
Meantime unnumber'd glittering streamlets play'd,
And hurled every-where their waters sheen;

That, as they bicker'd through the sunny glade, Though restless still themselves, a lulling murmur


Join'd to the prattle of the purling rills,
Were heard the lowing herds along the vale,
And flocks loud-bleating from the distant hills,
And vacant shepherds piping in the dale :
And now and then sweet Philomel would wail,
Or stock-doves plain amid the forest deep,
That drowsy rustled to the sighing gale;

And still a coil the grasshopper did keep;
Yet all these sounds yblent inclined all to sleep.

Full in the passage of the vale, above,
A sable, silent, solemn forest stood;
Where nought but shadowy forms was seen to move,
As Idless fancied in her dreaming mood :
And up the hills, on either side, a wood
Of blackening pines, aye waving to and fro,
Sent forth a sleepy horror through the blood;

And where this valley winded out, below,
The murmuring main was heard, and scarcely heard,
A pleasing land of drowsy-head it was,
Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;
And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,
For ever flushing round a summer-sky:
There eke the soft delights, that witchingly
Instil a wanton sweetness through the breast,
And the calm pleasures, always hover'd nigh;

to flow.

But whate'er smack'd of noyance, or unrest, Was far, far off expell’d from this delicious nest.'

The landskip such, inspiring perfect ease,
Where Indolence (for so the wizard hight)
Close-hid his castle mid embowering trees,
That half shut out the beams of Phæbus bright,
And made a kind of checker'd day and night;
Meanwhile, unceasing at the massy gate,
Beneath a spacious palm, the wicked wight

Was plac'd; and to his lute, of cruel fate,
And labourharsh,complain’d, lamenting man's estate.

Thither continual pilgrims crowded still,
From all the roads of earth that pass there by:
For, as they chaunc'd to breathe on neighbouring

The freshness of this valley smote their eye,
And drew them ever and anon more nigh;
Till clustering round th'enchanter false they hung,
Ymolten with his syren melody;

While o'er th' enfeebling lute his hand he flung, And to the trembling chords these tempting verses


“ Behold! ye pilgrims of this earth, behold!
See all but man with unearn’d pleasure gay:
See her bright robes the butterfly unfold,
Broke from her wintery tomb in prime of May !
What youthful bride can equal her array?
Who can with her for easy pleasure vie ?
From mead to mead with gentle wing to stray,

From flower to flower on balmy gales to fly,
Is all she has to do beneath the radiant sky.

“ Behold the merry minstrels of the morn, The swarming songsters of the careless grove, Ten thousand throats ! that from the flowering

thorn, Hymn their good God, and carol sweet of love, Such grateful kindly raptures them emove : They neither plough, nor sow: ne, fit for flail, E'er to the barn the nodding sheaves they drove;

Yet theirs each harvest dancing in the gale, Whatever crowns the hill, or smiles along the vale.

6 Outcast of nature, man ! the wretched thrall
Of bitter dropping sweat, of sweltry pain,
Of cares that eat away thy heart with gall,
And of the vices, an inhuman train,
That all proceed from savage thirst of gain :
For when hard-hearted Interest first began
To poison earth, Astræa left the plain;

Guile, violence, and murder seiz'd on man,
And, for soft milky streams, with blood the rivers


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