Page images


The Memory has hitherto acted only in subservience to the senses, and so far man is not eminently distinguished from other animals ; but, with respect to man, she has a higher province, and is often busily employed when excited by no external cause whatever. She preserves, for his use, the treasures of art and science, history and philosophy. She colors all the prospects of life ; for we can only anticipate the future by concluding what is possible from what is past. On her agency depends every effusion of the Fancy, who with the boldest effort can only compound or transpose, augment or diminish, the materials which she has collected, and still retains.

When the first emotions of despair have subsided, and sorrow has softened into melancholy, she amuses with a retrospect of innocent pleasures, and inspires that noble confidence which results from the consciousness of having acted well. When sleep has suspended the organs of sense from their office, she not only supplies the mind with images, but assists in their combination. And, even in madness itself, when the soul is resigned over to the tyranny of a distempered imagination, she revives past perceptions, and awakens that train of thought which was formerly most familiar.

Nor are we pleased only with a review of the brighter passages of life. Events the most distressing in their immediate consequences are often cherished in remembrance with a degree of enthusiasm.

But the world and its occupations give a mechanical impulse to the passions, which is not very favorable to the indulgence of this feeling. It is in a calm and well-regulated mind that the memory is most perfect; and solitude is her best sphere of action. With this sentiment is introduced a Tale illustrative of her influence in solitude, sickness, and sorrow. And the subject having now been considered, so far as it relates to man and the animal world, the Poem concludes with a conjecture that superior beings are blost with a nobler exercise of this faculty.


SWEET MEMORY, wafted by thy gentle gale,

the stream of Time I turn my sail,
To view the fairy-haunts of long-lost hours,
Blest with far greener shades, far fresher flowers.

Ages and climes remote to thee impart
What charms in Genius and refines in Art;
Thee, in whose hands the keys of Science dwell,
The pensive portress of her holy cell ;
Whose constant vigils chase the chilling damp
Oblivion steals upon her vestal-lamp.

They in their glorious course the guides of Youth,
Whose language breathed the eloquence of Truth;
Whose life, beyond preceptive wisdom, taught
The great in conduct, and the pure in thought;
These still exist, by thee to Fame consigned,
Still speak and act, the models of mankind.

From thee gay Hope her airy coloring draws: And Fancy's flights are subject to thy laws. From thee that bosom-spring of rapture flows, Which only Virtue, tranquil Virtue, knows.

When Joy's bright sun has shed his evening-ray, And Hope's delusive meteors cease to play; When clouds on clouds the smiling prospect close, Still through the gloom thy star serenely glows: Like yon fair orb, she gilds the brow of night With the mild magic of reflected light.


The beauteous maid who bids the world adieu,
Oft of that world will snatch a fond review :
Oft at the shrine neglect her beads, to trace
Some social scene, some dear, familiar face :
And ere, with iron tongue, the vesper-bell
Bursts through the cypress-walk, the convent-cell,
Oft will her warm and wayward heart revive,
To love and joy still tremblingly alive;
The whispered vow, the chaste caress prolong,
Weave the light dance and swell the choral song;
With rapt ear drink the enchanting serenade,
And, as it melts along the moonlight-glade,
To each soft note return as soft a sigh,
And bless the youth that bids her slumbers fly.

But not till Time has calmed the ruffled breast,
Are these fond dreams of happiness confest.
Not till the rushing winds forget to rave,
Is Heaven's sweet smile reflected on the wave.

From Guinea's coast pursue the lessening sail,
And catch the sounds that sadden every gale.
Tell, if thou canst, the sum of sorrows there
Mark the fixed gaze, the wild and frenzied glare,
The racks of thought, and freezings of despair!
But pause not then — beyond the western wave,
Go, see the captive bartered as a slave !
Crushed till his high, heroic spirit bleeds,
And from his nerveless frame indignantly recedes.

Yet here, even here, with pleasures long resigned, Lo! MEMORY bursts the twilight of the mind. Her dear delusions soothe his sinking soul, When the rude scourge assumes its base control ;

And o'er Futurity's blank page diffuse
The full reflection of her vivid hues.
'Tis but to die and then, to weep no more,
Then will he wake on Congo's distant shore;
Beneath his plantain's ancient shade renew
The simple transports that with freedom flew;
Catch the cool breeze that musky Evening blows,
And quaff the palm's rich nectar as it glows;
The oral tale of elder time rehearse,
And chant the rude, traditionary verse
With those, the loved companions of his youth,
When life was luxury, and friendship truth.

Ah, why should Virtue fear the frowns of Fate?'
Hers what no wealth can buy, no power create !
A little world of clear and cloudless day,
Nor wrecked by storms, nor mouldered by decay;
A world, with MEMORY'S ceaseless sunshine blest,
The home of Happiness, an honest breast.

But most we mark the wonders of her reign,
When Sleep has locked the senses in her chain.
When sober Judgment has his throne resigned,
She smiles away the chaos of the mind;
And, as warm Fancy's bright Elysium glows,
From her each image springs, each color flows.
She is the sacred guest, the immortal friend,
Oft seen o'er sleeping Innocence to bend,
In that dead hour of night to Silence given,
Whispering seraphic visions of her heaven.

When the blithe son of Savoy, journeying round
With humble wares and pipe of merry sound,
From his green vale and sheltered cabin hies,
And scales the Alps to visit foreign skies;

Though far below the forkéd lightnings play,
And at his feet the thunder dies away,
Oft, in the saddle rudely rocked to sleep,
While his mule browses on the dizzy steep,
With MEMORY'S aid, he sits at home, and sees
His children sport beneath their native trees,
And bends to hear their cherub-voices call,
O'er the loud fury of the torrent's fall.

But can her smile with gloomy Madness dwell ?
Say, can she chase the horrors of his cell ?
Each fiery flight on Frenzy's wing restrain,
And mould the coinage of the fevered brain ?

Pass but that grate, which scarce a gleam supplies,
There in the dust the wreck of Genius lies!
He, whose arresting hand divinely wrought
Each bold conception in the sphere of thought;
And round, in colors of the rainbow, threw
Forms ever fair, creations ever new !
But, as he fondly snatched the wreath of Fame,
The spectre Poverty unnerved his frame.
Cold was her grasp, a withering scowl she wore ;
And Hope's soft energies were felt no more.
Yet still how sweet the soothings of his art !
From the rude wall what bright ideas start !
Even now he claims the amaranthine wreath,
With scenes that glow, with images that breathe !
And whence these scenes, these images, declare.
Whence but from Her who triumphs o'er despair?

Awake, arise ! with grateful fervor fraught,
Go, spring the mine of elevating thought.
He, who, through Nature's various walk, surveys
The good and fair her faultless line portrays;


« PreviousContinue »