« PreviousContinue »
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 favourable 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 blest with a nobler exercise of this faculty.
SWEET MEMORY, wafted by thy gentle gale,
Ages and climes remote to Thee impart
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 colouring 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,
The beauteous maid, who bids the world adieu,
To each soft note return as soft a sigh,
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 sooth his sinking soul, When the rude scourge assumes its base controul ; 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,
Ah! why should Virtue fear the frowns of Fate?
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 colour 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; Tho' far below the forked 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,