Page images

his assistance in writing a volume of hymns, but his morbid melancholy gained ground, and in 1773 it became a case of decided insanity. About two years were passed in this unhappy state. On his recovery, Cowper took to gardening, rearing hares, drawing landscapes, and composing poetry. The latter was fortunately the most permanent enjoyment; and its fruits appeared in a volume of poems published in 1782. The sale of the work was slow; but his friends were eager in its praise, and it received the approbation of Johnson and Franklin. His correspondence was resumed, and cheerfulness again became an inmate of his retreat at Olney. This happy change was augmented by the presence of a third party, Lady Austen, a widow, who came to reside in the immediate neighbourhood of Olney, and whose conversation for a time charmed away the melancholy spirit of Cowper. She told him the story of John Gilpin, and the famous horseman and his feats were an inexhaustible source of merriment.' Lady Austen also prevailed upon the poet to try his powers in blank verse, and from her suggestion sprung the noble poem of The Task. This memorable friendship was at length dissolved. The lady exacted too much of the time and attention of the poet-perhaps a shade of jealousy on the part of Mrs Unwin, with respect to the superior charms and attractions of her rival, intervened to increase the alienation-and before the Task was finished, its fair inspirer had left Olney without any intention of returning to it. In 1785 the new volume was published. Its success was instant and decided. The public were glad to hear the true voice of poetry and of nature, and in the rural descriptions and fireside scenes of the Task, they saw the features of English scenery and domestic life faithfully delineated. The Task,' says Southey, was at once descriptive, moral, and satirical. The descriptive parts everywhere bore evidence of a thoughtful mind and a gentle spirit, as well as of an observant eye; and the moral sentiment which pervaded them gave a charm in which descriptive poetry is often found wanting. The best didactic poems, when compared with the Task, are like formal gardens in comparison with woodland scenery.' As soon as he had completed his labours for the publication of his second volume, Cowper entered upon an undertaking of a still more arduous nature-a translation of Homer. He had gone through the great Grecian at Westminster school, and afterwards read him critically in the Temple, and he was impressed with but a poor opinion of the translation of Pope. Setting himself to a daily task of forty lines, he at length accomplished the forty thousand verses. He published by subscription, in which his friends were generously active. The work appeared in 1791, in two volumes quarto. In the interval the poet and Mrs Unwin had removed to Weston, a beautiful village about a mile from Olney. His cousin, Lady Hesketh, a woman of refined and fascinating manners, had visited him; he had also formed a friendly intimacy with the family of the Throckmortons, to whom Weston belonged, and his circumstances were comparatively easy. His malady, however, returned upon him with full force, and Mrs Unwin being rendered helpless by palsy, the task of nursing her fell upon the sensitive and dejected poet. A careful revision of his Homer, and an engagement to edit a new edition of Milton, were the last literary undertakings of Cowper. The former he completed, but without improving the first edition: his second task was never finished. A deepening gloom settled on his mind, with occasionally bright intervals. A visit to his friend Hayley, at Eartham, produced a short cessation of his mental suffering, and in 1794 a pension of £300

was granted to him from the crown. He was induced, in 1795, to remove with Mrs Unwin to Norfolk, on a visit to some relations, and there Mrs Unwin died on the 17th December 1796. The unhappy poet would not believe that his long tried friend was actually dead; he went to see the body, and on wit- | nessing the unaltered placidity of death, flung himself to the other side of the room with a passionate expression of feeling, and from that time he never mentioned her name nor spoke of her again. He lingered on for more than three years, still under the same dark shadow of religious despondency and terror, but occasionally writing, and listening attentively to works read to him by his friends. His last poem was the Castaway, a strain of touching and beautiful verse, which showed no decay of his poetical powers: at length death came to his release on the 25th of April 1800. So sad and strange a

[graphic][ocr errors]

Cowper's Monument.


destiny has never before or since been that of a man of genius. With wit and humour at will, he was nearly all his life plunged in the darkest melancholy. Innocent, pious, and confiding, he lived in perpetual dread of everlasting punishment: he could only see between him and heaven a high wall which he despaired of ever being able to scale; yet his intellectual vigour was not subdued by affliction. What he wrote for amusement or relief in the midst of supreme distress,' surpasses the elaborate efforts of others made under the most favourable circumstances; and in the very winter of his days, his fancy was as fresh and blooming as in the spring and morning of existence. That he was constitutionally prone to melancholy and insanity, seems undoubted; but the predisposing causes were as surely aggravated by his strict and secluded mode of life. Lady Hesketh was a better guide and companion than John Newton; and no one can read his letters without observing that cheerfulness was inspired by the one, and terror by the other. The iron frame of Newton could stand unmoved amidst shocks that destroyed the shrinking and apprehensive mind of Cowper. All, however, have now gone to their account-the stern yet kind minister, the faithful Mary Unwin, the gentle high-born relations

[ocr errors]

who forsook ease, and luxury, and society to soothe the misery of one wretched being, and that immortal being himself has passed away, scarce conscious that he had bequeathed an imperishable treasure to mankind. We have greater and loftier poets than Cowper, but none so entirely incorporated, as it were, with our daily existence-none so completely a friend our companion in woodland wanderings, and in moments of serious thought-ever gentle and affectionate, even in his transient fits of ascetic gloom-a pure mirror of affections, regrets, feelings, and desires which we have all felt or would wish to cherish. Shakspeare, Spenser, and Milton, are spirits of ethereal kind: Cowper is a steady and valuable friend, whose society we may sometimes neglect for that of more splendid and attractive associates, but whose unwavering principle and purity of character, joined to rich intellectual powers, overflow upon us in secret, and bind us to him for ever.

It is scarcely to be wondered at that Cowper's first volume was coldly received. The subjects of his poems (Table Talk, the Progress of Error, Truth, Expostulation, Hope, Charity, &c.) did not promise much, and his manner of handling them was not calculated to conciliate a fastidious public. He was both too harsh and too spiritual for general readers. Johnson had written moral poems in the same form of verse, but they possessed a rich declamatory grandeur and brilliancy of illustration which Cowper did not attempt, and probably would, from principle, have rejected. There are passages, however, in these evangelical works of Cowper of masterly execution and lively fancy. His character of Chatham has rarely been surpassed, even by Pope or Dryden :

A. Patriots, alas! the few that have been found
Where most they flourish, upon English ground,
The country's need have scantily supplied;
And the last left the scene when Chatham died.

B. Not so; the virtue still adorns our age,
Though the chief actor died upon the stage.
In him Demosthenes was heard again;
Liberty taught him her Athenian strain;
She clothed him with authority and awe,
Spoke from his lips, and in his looks gave law.
His speech, his form, his action full of grace,
And all his country beaming in his face,
He stood as some inimitable hand

Would strive to make a Paul or Tully stand.
No sycophant or slave that dared oppose
Her sacred cause, but trembled when he rose ;
And every venal stickler for the yoke,
Felt himself crushed at the first word he spoke.

Neither has the fine simile with which the ing retrospect closes :

In this mixture of argument and piety, poetry and plain sense, we have the distinctive traits of Cowper's genius. The freedom acquired by composition, and especially the presence of Lady Austen, led to more valuable results; and when he entered upon the Task, he was far more disposed to look at the sunny side of things, and to launch into general description. His versification underwent a similar improvement. His former poems were often rugged in style and expression, and were made so on purpose, to avoid follow-the polished uniformity of Pope and his imitators.

He was now sensible that he had erred on the opposite side, and accordingly the Task was made to unite strength and freedom with elegance and harmony. No poet has introduced so much idiomatic expression into a grave poem of blank verse; but the higher passages are all carefully finished, and rise or fall, according to the nature of the subject, with inimitable grace and melody. In this respect Cowper, as already mentioned, has greatly the advantage of Thomson, whose stately march is never relaxed, however trivial be the theme. The variety of the Task in style and manner, no less than in subject, is one of its greatest charms. The mock-heroic opening is a fine specimen of his humour, and from this he slides into rural description and moral reflec

The poem of Conversation in this volume is rich in Addisonian humour and satire, and formed notion so naturally and easily, that the reader is carried unworthy prelude to the Task. In Hope and Retire- along apparently without an effort. The scenery of ment, we see traces of the descriptive powers and the Ouse-its level plains and spacious meads-is natural pleasantry afterwards so finely developed. described with the vividness of painting, and the

Ages elapsed ere Homer's lamp appeared,
And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard;
To carry nature lengths unknown before,
To give a Milton birth asked ages more.
Thus genius rose and set at ordered times,
And shot a day-spring into distant climes,
Ennobling every region that he chose.
He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose ;
And, tedious years of Gothic darkness past,
Emerged all splendour in our isle at last.
Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main,
Then show far off their shining plumes again.

The highest flight in the whole, and the one most characteristic of Cowper, is his sketch of

[The Greenland Missionaries.]

That sound bespeaks salvation on her way,
The trumpet of a life-restoring day;
'Tis heard where England's eastern glory shines,
And in the gulfs of her Cornubian mines.
And still it spreads. See Germany send forth
Her sons to pour it on the farthest north;
Fired with a zeal peculiar, they defy
The rage and rigour of a polar sky,
And plant successfully sweet Sharon's rose
On icy plains and in eternal snows.

Oh blessed within the enclosure of your rocks,
Nor herds have ye to boast, nor bleating flocks;
No fertilising streams your fields divide,
That show reversed the villas on their side;
No groves have ye; no cheerful sound of bird,
Or voice of turtle in your land is heard;
Nor grateful eglantine regales the smell
Of those that walk at evening where ye dwell;
But Winter, armed with terrors here unknown,
Sits absolute on his unshaken throne,
Piles up his stores amidst the frozen waste,
And bids the mountains he has built stand fast;
Beckons the legions of his storms away
From happier scenes to make your lands a prey;
Proclaims the soil a conquest he has won,
And scorns to share it with the distant sun.
Yet Truth is yours, remote unenvied isle!
And Peace, the genuine offspring of her smile;
The pride of lettered ignorance, that binds
In chains of error our accomplished minds,
That decks with all the splendour of the true,
A false religion, is unknown to you.
Nature indeed vouchsafes for our delight
The sweet vicissitudes of day and night;
Soft airs and genial moisture feed and cheer
Field, fruit, and flower, and every creature here;
But brighter beams than his who fires the skies
Have risen at length on your admiring eyes,
That shoot into your darkest caves the day
From which our nicer optics turn away.

poet then elevates the character of his picture by a the vale of years; his playful satire and tender rapid sketch of still nobler features:

admonition, his denunciation of slavery, his noble patriotism, his devotional earnestness and sublimity, his warm sympathy with his fellow-men, and his exquisite paintings of domestic peace and happiness, are all so much self-portraiture, drawn with the ripe skill and taste of the master, yet with a modesty that shrinks from the least obtrusiveness and display. The very rapidity of his transitions, where things light and sportive are drawn up with the most solemn truths, and satire, pathos, and reproof alternately mingle or repel each other, are characteristic of his mind and temperament in ordinary life. His inimitable ease and colloquial freedom, which lends such a charm to his letters, is never long absent from his poetry; and his peculiar tastes, as seen in that somewhat grandiloquent line,

Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too,

[Rural Sounds.]

Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds,
Exhilarate the spirit, and restore
The tone of languid nature. Mighty winds
That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood
Of ancient growth, make music not unlike
The dash of ocean on his winding shore,
And lull the spirit while they fill the mind,
Unnumbered branches waving in the blast,
And all their leaves fast fluttering all at once.
Nor less composure waits upon the roar
Of distant floods, or on the softer voice
Of neighbouring fountain, or of rills that slip
Through the cleft rock, and chiming as they fall
Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length
In matted grass, that with a livelier green
Betrays the secret of their silent course.
Nature inanimate displays sweet sounds,
But animated nature sweeter still,
To soothe and satisfy the human ear.
Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one
The livelong night; nor these alone whose notes
Nice-fingered art must emulate in vain,
But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime
In still-repeated circles, screaming loud,
The jay, the pie, and even the boding owl
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me.
Sounds inharmonious in themselves and harsh,
Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns,
And only there, please highly for their sake.
The freedom of this versification, and the admirable
variety of pause and cadence, must strike the most
uncritical reader. With the same playful strength
and equal power of landscape painting, he describes

[The Diversified Character of Creation.]
The earth was made so various, that the mind
Of desultory man, studious of change
And pleased with novelty, might be indulged.
Prospects, however lovely, may be seen
Till half their beauties fade; the weary sight,
Too well acquainted with their smiles, slides off
Fastidious, seeking less familiar scenes.
Then snug enclosures in the sheltered vale,
Where frequent hedges intercept the eye,
Delight us, happy to renounce a while,
Not senseless of its charms, what still we love,
That such short absence may endear it more.
Then forests, or the savage rock may please
That hides the sea-mew in his hollow clefts
Above the reach of man; his hoary head
Conspicuous inany a league, the mariner
Bound homeward, and in hope already there,
Greets with three cheers exulting. At his waist
A girdle of half-withered shrubs he shows,
And at his feet the baffled billows die.
The common overgrown with fern, and rough
With prickly goss, that, shapeless and deform,
And dangerous to the touch, has yet its bloom,
And decks itself with ornaments of gold,
Yields no unpleasing ramble; there the turf
Smells fresh, and rich in odoriferous herbs
And fungous fruits of earth, regales the sense
With luxury of unexpected sweets.

From the beginning to the end of the Task we never lose sight of the author. His love of country rambles, when a boy,

O'er hills, through valleys, and by river's brink; his walks with Mrs Unwin, when he had exchanged the Thames for the Ouse, and had grown sober in


are all pictured in the pure and lucid pages of the Task. It cannot be said that Cowper ever abandoned his sectarian religious tenets, yet they are little seen in his great work. His piety is that which all should feel and venerate; and if his sad experience of the world had tinged the prospect of life, its fluctuations and its vast concerns,' with a deeper shade than seems consonant with the general welfare and happiness, it also imparted a higher authority and more impressive wisdom to his earnest and solemn appeals. He was a stricken deer that left the herd,' conscious of the follies and wants of those he left behind, and inspired with power to minister to the delight and instruction of the whole human race.

[ocr errors]

[From Conversation.']

The emphatic speaker dearly loves to oppose,
In contact inconvenient, nose to nose,
As if the gnomon on his neighbour's phiz,
Touched with a magnet, had attracted his.
His whispered theme, dilated and at large,
Proves after all a wind-gun's airy charge-
An extract of his diary-no more-

A tasteless journal of the day before.
He walked abroad, o'ertaken in the rain,
Called on a friend, drank tea, stept home again;
Resumed his purpose, had a world of talk
With one he stumbled on, and lost his walk;
I interrupt him with a sudden bow,
Adieu, dear sir, lest you should lose it now.

A graver coxcomb we may sometimes see,
Quite as absurd, though not so light as he:
A shallow brain behind a serious mask,
An oracle within an empty cask,
The solemn fop, significant and budge;
A fool with judges, amongst fools a judge;
He says but little, and that little said,
Owes all its weight, like loaded dice, to lead.
His wit invites you by his looks to come,
But when you knock, it never is at home:
'Tis like a parcel sent you by the stage,
Some handsome present, as your hopes presage;
'Tis heavy, bulky, and bids fair to prove
An absent friend's fidelity of love;

But when unpacked, your disappointment groans
To find it stuffed with brickbats, earth, and stones,
Some men employ their health-an ugly trick-
In making known how oft they have been sick,
And give us in recitals of disease

A doctor's trouble, but without the fees;
Relate how many weeks they kept their bed,
How an emetic or cathartic sped;
Nothing is slightly touched, much less forgot;
Nose, ears, and eyes seem present on the spot.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Now the distemper, spite of draught or pill,
Victorious seemed, and now the doctor's skill;
And now-alas! for unforeseen mishaps!
They put on a damp nightcap, and relapse;

May I but meet thee on that peaceful shore,
The parting sound shall pass my lips no more!
Thy maidens grieved themselves at my concern,
Oft gave me promise of a quick return:

They thought they must have died, they were so bad, What ardently I wished I long believed,

Their peevish hearers almost wish they had.
Some fretful tempers wince at every touch,
You always do too little or too much:
You speak with life, in hopes to entertain,
Your elevated voice goes through the brain;
You fall at once into a lower key,

And, disappointed still, was still deceived;
By disappointment every day beguiled,
Dupe of to-morrow even from a child.
Thus many a sad to-morrow came and went,
Till, all my stock of infant sorrow spent,
I learned at last submission to my lot,
But, though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot.

That's worse, the drone-pipe of a humble bee.
The southern sash admits too strong a light;
You rise and drop the curtain-now 'tis night.
He shakes with cold-you stir the fire, and strive
To make a blaze-that's roasting him alive.
Serve him with venison, and he chooses fish;
With sole that's just the sort he would not wish.
He takes what he at first professed to loathe,
And in due time feeds heartily on both;
Yet still o'erclouded with a constant frown,
He does not swallow, but he gulps it down.
Your hope to please him vain on every plan,
Himself should work that wonder, if he can.
Alas! his efforts double his distress.
He likes yours little and his own still less;
Thus always teasing others, always teased,
His only pleasure is to be displeased.

Where once we dwelt our name is heard no more,
Children not thine have trod my nursery floor;
And where the gardener Robin, day by day,
Drew me to school along the public way,
Delighted with my bauble coach, and wrapt
In scarlet mantle warm, and velvet-capt,
'Tis now become a history little known,
That once we called the pastoral house our own.
Short-lived possession! but the record fair,
That memory keeps of all thy kindness there,
Still outlives many a storm, that has effaced
A thousand other themes less deeply traced.
Thy nightly visits to my chamber made,
That thou might'st know me safe and warmly laid;
Thy morning bounties ere I left my home,
The biscuit or confectionary plum;

I pity bashful men, who feel the pain
Of fancied scorn and undeserved disdain,
And bear the marks upon a blushing face
Of needless shame and self-imposed disgrace.
Our sensibilities are so acute,

The fear of being silent makes us mute.
We sometimes think we could a speech produce
Much to the purpose, if our tongues were loose;
But being tried, it dies upon the lip,

Faint as a chicken's note that has the pip;
Our wasted oil unprofitably burns,
Like hidden lamps in old sepulchral urns.

On the Receipt of his Mother's Picture.

Oh that those lips had language! Life has passed
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
Those lips are thine-thy own sweet smiles I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced me;
Voice only fails, else, how distinct they say,
'Grieve not, my child, chase all thy fears away!'
The meek intelligence of those dear eyes
(Blest be the art that can immortalise,
The art that baffles time's tyrannic claim
To quench it) here shines on me still the same.
Faithful remembrancer of one so dear,
O welcome guest, though unexpected here!
Who bidd'st me honour, with an artless song
Affectionate, a mother lost so long.
I will obey, not willingly alone,
But gladly, as the precept were her own:
And while that face renews my filial grief,
Fancy shall weave a charm for my relief;
Shall steep me in Elysian reverie,
A momentary dream, that thou art she.

My mother! when I learned that thou wast dead,
Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed?
Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son,
Wretch even then, life's journey just begun!
Perhaps thou gavest me, though unseen, a kiss;
Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss-
Ah, that maternal smile! it answers-Yes.
I heard the bell tolled on thy burial day,
I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away,
And, turning from my nursery window, drew
A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu!
But was it such! It was. Where thou art gone,
Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown.

The fragrant waters on my cheeks bestowed
By thy own hand, till fresh they shone and glowed;
All this, and more endearing still than all,
Thy constant flow of love, that knew 'no fall,
Ne'er roughened by those cataracts and breaks,
That humour interposed too often makes;
All this, still legible in memory's page,
And still to be so to my latest age,
Adds joy to duty, makes me glad to pay
Such honours to thee as my numbers may;
Perhaps a frail memorial, but sincere,
Not scorned in heaven, though little noticed here.
Could Time, his flight reversed, restore the hours,
When, playing with thy vesture's tissued flowers,
The violet, the pink, and jessamine,

I pricked them into paper with a pin,
(And thou wast happier than myself the while,
Would softly speak, and stroke my head and smile),
Could those few pleasant hours again appear,
Might one wish bring them, would I wish them here!
I would not trust my heart-the dear delight
Seems so to be desired, perhaps I in'ght.
But no-what here we call our life is such,
So little to be loved, and thou so much,
That I should ill requite thee to constrain
Thy unbound spirit into bonds again.

Thou, as a gallant bark from Albion's coast
(The storms all weathered and the ocean crossed),
Shoots into port at some well-havened isle,
Where spices breathe and brighter seasons smile,
There sits quiescent on the floods, that show
Her beauteous form reflected clear below,
While airs impregnated with incense play
Around her, fanning light her streamers gay;
So thou, with sails how swift! hast reached the shore
'Where tempests never beat nor billows roar ;'
And thy loved consort on the dangerous tide
Of life, long since, has anchored at thy side.
But me, scarce hoping to attain that rest,
Always from port withheld, always distressed-
Me howling winds drive devious, tempest-tossed,
Sails ript, seams opening wide, and compass lost;
And day by day some current's thwarting force
Sets me more distant from a prosperous course.
But oh the thought, that thou art safe, and he!
That thought is joy, arrive what may to me.
My boast is not that I deduce my birth
From loins enthroned, and rulers of the earth;

But higher far my proud pretensions rise-
The son of parents passed into the skies.
And now, farewell-Time unrevoked has run
His wonted course, yet what I wished is done.
By contemplation's help, not sought in vain,
I seem to have lived my childhood o'er again:
To have renewed the joys that once were mine,
Without the sin of violating thine;
And, while the wings of fancy still are free,
And I can view this mimic show of thee,
Time has but half succeeded in his theft-
Thyself removed, thy power to soothe me left.

[Voltaire and the Lace-worker.]

Yon cottager, who weaves at her own door,
Pillow and bobbins all her little store;
Content though mean, and cheerful if not gay,
Shuffling her threads about the live-long day,
Just earns a scanty pittance, and at night
Lies down secure, her heart and pocket light;
She, for her humble sphere by nature fit,
Has little understanding, and no wit;
Receives no praise; but though her lot be such
(Toilsome and indigent), she renders much;
Just knows, and knows no more, her Bible true—
A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew;
And in that charter reads, with sparkling eyes,
Her title to a treasure in the skies.
O happy peasant! O unhappy bard!
His the mere tinsel, hers the rich reward;
He praised, perhaps, for ages yet to come,
She never heard of half a mile from home;
He lost in errors his vain heart prefers,
She safe in the simplicity of hers.

*To Mary (Mrs Unwin).
Autumn, 1793.

The twentieth year is well nigh past
Since first our sky was overcast ;
Ah, would that this might be our last!
My Mary!

Thy spirits have a fainter flow,
I see thee daily weaker grow;
'Twas my distress that brought thee low,

My Mary!

Thy needles, once a shining store,
For my sake restless heretofore,
Now rust disused, and shine no more,

My Mary!

For though thou gladly wouldst fulfil
The same kind office for me still,
Thy sight now seconds not thy will,

My Mary!
But well thou play'dst the housewife's part,
And all thy threads, with magic art,
Have wound themselves about this heart,
My Mary!

Thy indistinct expressions seem
Like language uttered in a dream;
Yet me they charm, whate'er the theme,
My Mary!

Thy silver locks, once auburn bright, Are still more lovely in my sight Than golden beams of orient light,

My Mary!

For, could I view nor them nor thee, What sight worth seeing could I see? The sun would rise in vain for me,

My Mary!

[blocks in formation]

[Winter Evening in the Country.]
[From The Task.']

Hark! 'tis the twanging horn o'er yonder bridge,
That with its wearisome but needful length
Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the moon
Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright;
He comes, the herald of a noisy world,

With spattered boots, strapped waist, and frozen


News from all nations lumbering at his back.
True to his charge, the close-packed load behind,
Yet careless what he brings, his one concern
Is to conduct it to the destined inn;
And, having dropped the expected bag, pass on.
He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch!
Cold and yet cheerful: messenger of grief
Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some;
To him indifferent whether grief or joy.
Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks,
Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet
With tears, that trickled down the writer's cheeks
Fast as the periods from his fluent quill,

Or charged with amorous sighs of absent swains,
Or nymphs responsive, equally affect
His horse and him, unconscious of them all.
But O the important budget! ushered in
With such heart-shaking music, who can say
What are its tidings? have our troops awaked?
Or do they still, as if with opium drugged,
Snore to the murmurs of the Atlantic wave?
Is India free and does she wear her plumed
And jewelled turban with a smile of peace,
Or do we grind her still? The grand debate,
The popular harangue, the tart reply,
The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit,
And the loud laugh-I long to know them all;
I burn to set the imprisoned wranglers free,
And give them voice and utterance once again.

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups,
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
Not such his evening who, with shining face,
Sweats in the crowded theatre, and squeezed
And bored with elbow-points through both his sides,
Out-scolds the ranting actor on the stage:
Nor his who patient stands till his feet throb,
And his head thumps, to feed upon the breath
Of patriots, bursting with heroic rage,

« PreviousContinue »