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[Tribute to a Mother, on her Death.]
[From the Essay on Epic Poetry."]


For me who feel, whene'er I touch the lyre,
My talents sink below my proud desire;
Who often doubt, and sometimes credit give,
When friends assure me that my verse will live;
Whom health, too tender for the bustling throng,
Led into pensive shade and soothing song;
Whatever fortune my unpolished rhymes
May meet in present or in future times,

Let the blest art my grateful thoughts employ,
Which soothes my sorrow and augments my joy;
Whence lonely peace and social pleasure springs,
And friendship dearer than the smile of kings.
While keener poets, querulously proud,
Lament the ill of poesy aloud,

WILLIAM HAYLEY (1745-1820), the biographer of Cowper, wrote various poetical works, which enjoyed great popularity in their day. His principal productions are the Triumphs of Temper (1781), a series of poetical epistles on history, addressed to Gibbon, and Essays on Painting, on Epic Poetry, &c. He produced several unsuccessful tragedies, a novel, and an Essay on Old Maids. A gentleman by education and fortune, and fond of literary communication, Hayley enjoyed the acquaintance of most of the eminent men of his times. His overstrained sensibility and romantic tastes exposed him to ridicule, yet he was an amiable and benevolent man. It was through his personal application to Pitt that Cowper received his pension. He had (what appears to have been to him a sort of melancholy pride and satisfaction) the task of writing epitaphs for most of his friends, including Mrs Unwin and Cowper. His life of Cowper appeared in 1803, and three years afterwards it was enlarged by a supplement. Hayley prepared memoirs of his own life, which he disposed of to a publisher on condition of his receiving an annuity for the remainder of his life. This annuity he enjoyed for twelve years. The memoirs appeared in two fine quarto volumes, but they failed to attract attention. Hayley had outlived his popularity, and his smooth but often unmeaning lines had vanished like chaff before the vigorous and natural outpourings of the modern muse. specimen of this once much-praised poet, we subjoin some lines on the death of his mother, which had the merit of delighting Gibbon, and with which Mr Southey has remarked Cowper would sympathise deeply

As a


And magnify with irritation's zeal,
Those common evils we too strongly feel,
The envious comment and the subtle style
Of specious slander, stabbing with a smile;
Frankly I wish to make her blessings known,
And think those blessings for her ills atone;
Nor would my honest pride that praise forego,
Which makes Malignity yet more my foe.

If heartfelt pain e'er led me to accuse
The dangerous gift of the alluring Muse,
'Twas in the moment when my verse impressed
Some anxious feelings on a mother's breast.
O thou fond spirit, who with pride hast smiled,
And frowned with fear on thy poetic child,
Pleased, yet alarmed, when in his boyish time
He sighed in numbers or he laughed in rhyme;
While thy kind cautions warned him to beware
Of Penury, the bard's perpetual snare;
Marking the early temper of his soul,
Careless of wealth, nor fit for base control!
Thou tender saint, to whom he owes much more
Than ever child to parent owed before;
In life's first season, when the fever's flame
Shrunk to deformity his shrivelled frame,
And turned each fairer image in his brain
To blank confusion and her crazy train,
'Twas thine, with constant love, through lingering years
To bathe thy idiot orphan in thy tears;
Day after day, and night succeeding night,
To turn incessant to the hideous sight,
And frequent watch, if haply at thy view
Departed reason might not dawn anew;
Though medicinal art, with pitying care,
Could lend no aid to save thee from despair,
Thy fond maternal heart adhered to hope and prayer:
Nor prayed in vain; thy child from powers above
Received the sense to feel and bless thy love.

might he thence receive the happy skill,
And force proportioned to his ardent will,
With truth's unfading radiance to emblaze
Thy virtues, worthy of immortal praise!

Nature, who decked thy form with beauty's flowers,
Taught it with all her energy to feel
Exhausted on thy soul her finer powers;
Love's melting softness, friendship's fervid zeal,
With charity's diffusive spirit fraught.
The generous purpose and the active thought,
There all the best of mental gifts she placed,
Superior parts without their spleenful leaven,
Vigour of judgment, purity of taste,
Kindness to earth and confidence in heaven.
While my fond thoughts o'er all thy merits roll,
Thy praise thus gushes from my filial soul;
Nor will the public with harsh rigour blame
This my just homage to thy honoured name;
To please that public, if to please be mine,
Thy virtues trained me-let the praise be thine.

Inscription on the Tomb of Cowper.

Ye who with warmth the public triumph feel
Of talents dignified by sacred zeal,
Here, to devotion's bard devoutly just,
Pay your fond tribute due to Cowper's dust!
England, exulting in his spotless fame,
Ranks with her dearest sons his favourite name.
Sense, fancy, wit, suffice not all to raise
So clear a title to affection's praise:
His highest honours to the heart belong;
His virtues formed the magic of his song.

On the Tomb of Mrs Unwin.

Trusting in God with all her heart and mind,
This woman proved magnanimously kind;
Endured affliction's desolating hail,
And watched a poet through misfortune's vale.
Her spotless dust angelic guards defend!
It is the dust of Unwin, Cowper's friend.
That single title in itself is fame,
For all who read his verse revere her name.

How snowdrops cold, and blue-eyed harebells blend
Their tender tears, as o'er the streams they bend;
The love-sick violet, and the primrose pale,
Bow their sweet heads, and whisper to the gale;
With secret sighs the virgin lily droops,
And jealous cowslips hang their tawny cups.
How the young rose, in beauty's damask pride,
Drinks the warm blushes of his bashful bride;
With honied lips enamoured woodbines meet,
Clasp with fond arms, and mix their kisses sweet!
Stay thy soft murmuring waters, gentle rill;
Hush, whispering winds; ye rustling leaves be still;
Rest, silver butterflies, your quivering wings;


DR ERASMUS DARWIN, an ingenious philosophi-Alight, ye beetles, from your airy rings; cal, though fanciful poet, was born at Elston, near Ye painted moths, your gold-eyed plumage furl, Newark, in 1731. Having passed with credit Bow your wide horns, your spiral trunks uncurl; through a course of education at St John's college, Glitter, ye glow-worms, on your mossy beds; Cambridge, he applied himself to the study of Descend, ye spiders, on your lengthened threads; physic, and took his degree of bachelor in medicine Slide here, ye horned snails, with varnished shells; at Edinburgh in 1755. He then commenced prac- Ye bee-nymphs, listen in your waxen cells! tice in Nottingham, but meeting with little encour- This is exquisitely melodious verse, and ingenious agement, he removed to Lichfield, where he long subtle fancy. A few passages have moral sentiment continued a successful and distinguished physician. and human interest united to the same powers of In 1757 Dr Darwin married an accomplished lady vivid painting and expression:of Lichfield, Miss Mary Howard, by whom he had five children, two of whom died in infancy. The lady herself died in 1770; and after her decease, Darwin seems to have commenced his botanical and literary pursuits. He was at first afraid that the reputation of a poet would injure him in his profession, but being firmly established in the latter capacity, he at length ventured on publication. At this time he lived in a picturesque villa in the neighbourhood of Lichfield, furnished with a grotto and fountain, and here he began the formation of a botanic garden. The spot he has described as adapted to love-scenes, and as being thence a proper residence for the modern goddess of botany.' In 1781 appeared the first part of Darwin's Botanic Garden, a poem in glittering and polished heroic verse, designed to describe, adorn, and allegorise the Linnæan system of botany. The Rosicrucian doctrine of gnomes, sylphs, nymphs, and salamanders, was adopted by the poet, as affording a proper machinery for a botanic poem, as it is probable they were originally the names of hieroglyphic figures representing the elements.' The novelty and ingenuity of Darwin's attempt attracted much attention, and rendered him highly popular. the same year the poet was called to attend an aged gentleman, Colonel Sachevell Pole of Radbourne-hall, near Derby. An intimacy was thus formed with Mrs Pole, and the colonel dying, the poetical physician in a few months afterwards, in 1781, married the fair widow, who possessed a jointure of L.600 per annum. Darwin was now released from all prudential fears and restraints as to the cultivation of his poetical talents, and he went on adding to his floral gallery. In 1789 appeared the second part of his poem, containing the Loves of the Plants. Ovid having, he said, transmuted men, women, and even gods and goddesses into trees and flowers, he had undertaken, by similar art, to restore some of them to their original animality, after having remained prisoners so long in their respective vegetable mansions:


From giant oaks, that wave their branches dark
To the dwarf moss that clings upon their bark,
What beaux and beauties crowd the gaudy groves,
And woo and win their vegetable loves.*

*Linnæus, the celebrated Swedish naturalist, has demonstrated, that all flowers contain families of males or females, or both; and on their marriage, has constructed his invaluable system of botany.-Darwin.

Roll on, ye stars! exult in youthful prime,
Mark with bright curves the printless steps of Time;
Near and more near your beamy cars approach,
And lessening orbs on lessening orbs encroach;
Flowers of the sky!, ye, too, to age must yield,
Frail as your silken sisters of the field!
Star after star from heaven's high arch shall rush,
Suns sink on suns, and systems systems crush,
And death, and night, and chaos mingle all!
Headlong, extinct, to one dark centre fall,
Till o'er the wreck, emerging from the storm,
Immortal nature lifts her changeful form,
Mounts from her funeral pyre on wings of flame,
And soars and shines, another and the same!

In another part of the poem, after describing the
cassia plant, cinctured with gold,' and borne on
by the current to the coasts of Norway, with all its
infant loves,' or seeds, the poet, in his usual strain
of forced similitude, digresses in the following happy
and vigorous lines, to Moses concealed on the Nile, and
the slavery of the Africans :-
So the sad mother at the noon of night,
From bloody Memphis stole her silent flight;
Wrapped her dear babe beneath her folded vest,
And clasped the treasure to her throbbing breast;
With soothing whispers hushed its feeble cry,
Pressed the soft kiss, and breathed the secret sigh.
With dauntless step she seeks the winding shore,
Hears unappalled the glimmering torrents roar;
With paper-flags a floating cradle weaves,
And hides the smiling boy in lotus leaves;
Gives her white bosom to his eager lips,
The salt tears mingling with the milk he sips;
Waits on the reed-crowned brink with pious guile,
And trusts the scaly monsters of the Nile.
Erewhile majestic from his lone abode,
Ambassador of heaven, the prophet trod;
Wrenched the red scourge from proud oppression's

And broke, cursed slavery! thy iron bands.

Hark! heard ye not that piercing cry,
Which shook the waves and rent the sky!
E'en now, e'en now, on yonder western shores
Weeps pale despair, and writhing anguish roars;
E'en now in Afric's groves with hideous yell,
Fierce slavery stalks, and slips the dogs of hell;
From vale to vale the gathering cries rebound,
And sable nations tremble at the sound!
Ye bands of senators! whose suffrage sways
Britannia's realms, whom either Ind obeys;

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The effect of the whole, however, was artificial, and destitute of any strong or continuous interest. The Rosicrucian machinery of Pope was united to the delineation of human passions and pursuits, and became the auxiliary of wit and satire; but who can sympathise with the loves and metamorphoses of the plants? Darwin had no sentiment or pathos, except in very brief episodical passages, and even his eloquent and splendid versification, for want of variety of cadence, becomes monotonous and fatiguing. There is no repose, no cessation from the glare of his bold images, his compound epithets, and hightoned melody. He had attained to rare perfection in the mechanism of poetry, but wanted those impulses of soul and sense, and that guiding taste which were required to give it vitality, and direct it to its true objects.

[Invocation to the Goddess of Botany.]

[From The Botanic Garden."]

Stay your rude steps! whose throbbing breasts infold
The legion-fiends of glory and of gold!
Stay, whose false lips seductive simpers part,
While cunning nestles in the harlot heart!
For you no dryads dress the roseate bower,
For you no nymphs their sparkling vases pour;
Unmarked by you, light graces swim the green,
And hovering Cupids aim their shafts unseen.

The material images of Darwin are often less happy than the above, being both extravagant and gross, and grouped together without any visible connexion or dependence one on the other. He has such a throng of startling metaphors and descriptions, the latter drawn out to an excessive length and tiresome minuteness, that nothing is left to the reader's imagination, and the whole passes like a glittering pageant before the eye, exciting wonder, but without touching the heart or feelings. As the poet was then past fifty, the exuberance of his fancy, and his peculiar choice of subjects, are the more remarkable. A third part of the Botanic Garden' was added in 1792. Darwin next published his Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life, part of which he had written many years previously. This is a curious and original physiological treatise, evincing an inquiring and attentive study of natural phenomena. Dr Thomas Brown, Professor Dugald Stewart, Paley, and others, have, however, successfully combated the positions But thou whose mind the well-attempered ray of Darwin, particularly his theory which refers in- Of taste and virtue lights with purer day; stinct to sensation. In 1801 our author came forward Whose finer sense with soft vibration owns with another philosophical disquisition, entitled With sweet responsive sympathy of tones; Phytologia, or the Philosophy of Agriculture and Gar-So the fair flower expands its lucid form dening. He also wrote a short treatise on Female To meet the sun, and shuts it to the storm; Education, intended for the instruction and assist- For thee my borders nurse the fragrant wreath, ance of part of his own family. This was Darwin's My fountains murmur, and my zephyrs breathe; last publication. He had always been a remarkably Slow slides the painted snail, the gilded fly temperate man. Indeed he totally abstained from Smooths his fine down, to charm thy curious eye; all fermented and spirituous liquors, and in his On twinkling fins my pearly pinions play, Botanic Garden he compares their effects to that Or win with sinuous train their trackless way; of the Promethean fire. He was, however, subject Form with ingenious bill the pensile nest, My plumy pairs in gay embroidery dressed, to inflammation as well as gout, and a sudden attack To love's sweet notes attune the listening dell, carried him off in his seventy-first year, on the 18th And echo sounds her soft symphonious shell. of April 1802. Shortly after his death was published a poem, The Temple of Nature, which he had ready for the press, the preface to the work being dated only three months before his death. Temple of Nature aimed, like the Botanic Garden, to amuse by bringing distinctly to the imagination the beautiful and sublime images of the operations of nature. It is more metaphysical than its predecessor, and more inverted in style and diction.


And if with thee some hapless maid should stray,
Disastrous love companion of her way,
Oh, lead her timid steps to yonder glade,
Whose arching cliffs depending alders shade;
Where, as meek evening wakes her temperate breeze,
And moonbeams glitter through the trembling trees,
The rills that gurgle round shall soothe her ear,
The weeping rocks shall number tear for tear;
There, as sad Philomel, alike forlorn,
Sings to the night from her accustomed thorn;
While at sweet intervals each falling note
Sighs in the gale and whispers round the grot,
The sister wo shall calm her aching breast,
And softer slumbers steal her cares to rest.

The poetical reputation of Darwin was as bright and transient as the plants and flowers which formed the subject of his verse. Cowper praised his song for its rich embellishments, and said it was as 'strong' as it was learned and sweet.' 'There is a fashion in poetry,' observes Sir Walter Scott, which, without increasing or diminishing the real value of the materials moulded upon it, does wonders in facilitating its currency while it has novelty, and is often found to impede its reception when the mode has passed away. This has been the fate of Darwin. Besides his coterie at Lichfield, the poet of Flora had considerable influence on the poetical taste of his own day. He may be traced in the 'Pleasures of Hope' of Campbell, and in other young poets of that time. The attempt to unite science with the inspirations of the Muse, was in itself an attractive novelty, and he supported it with various and high powers. His command of fancy, of poetical language, dazzling metaphors, and sonorous versification, was well seconded by his curious and multifarious knowledge.

Winds of the north! restrain your icy gales,
Nor chill the bosom of these happy vales!
Hence in dark heaps, ye gathering clouds, revolve!
Disperse, ye lightnings, and ye mists dissolve!
Hither, emerging from yon orient skies,
Botanic goddess, bend thy radiant eyes;
O'er these soft scenes assume thy gentle reign,
Pomona, Ceres, Flora in thy train;
O'er the still dawn thy placid smile effuse,
And with thy silver sandals print the dews;
In noon's bright blaze thy vermeil vest unfold,
And wave thy emerald banner starred with gold.'
Thus spoke the genius as he stept along,
And bade these lawns to peace and truth belong;
Down the steep slopes he led with modest skill
The willing pathway and the truant rill,

Stretched o'er the marshy vale yon willowy mound,
Where shines the lake amid the tufted ground;
Raised the young woodland, smoothed the wavy green,
And gave to beauty all the quiet scene.
She comes! the goddess! through the whispering air,
Bright as the morn descends her blushing car;
Each circling wheel a wreath of flowers entwines,
And, gemmed with flowers, the silken harness shines;
The golden bits with flowery studs are decked,
And knots of flowers the crimson reins connect.
And now on earth the silver axle rings,
And the shell sinks upon its slender springs;
Light from her airy seat the goddess bounds,
And steps celestial press the pansied grounds.
Fair Spring advancing calls her feathered quire,
And tunes to softer notes her laughing lyre;
Bids her gay hours on purple pinions move,
And arms her zephyrs with the shafts of love.

[Destruction of Sennacherib's Army by a Pestilential Wind.]

[From the Economy of Vegetation."]

From Ashur's vales when proud Sennacherib trod,
Poured his swoln heart, defied the living God,
Urged with incessant shouts his glittering powers,
And Judah shook through all her massy towers;
Round her sad altars press the prostrate crowd,
Hosts beat their breasts, and suppliant chieftains

Loud shrieks of matrons thrilled the troubled air,
And trembling virgins rent their scattered hair;
High in the midst the kneeling king adored,
Spread the blaspheming scroll before the Lord,
Raised his pale hands, and breathed his pausing sighs,
And fixed on heaven his dim imploring eyes.
'Oh! mighty God, amidst thy seraph throng
Who sit'st sublime, the judge of right and wrong;
Thine the wide earth, bright sun, and starry zone,
That twinkling journey round thy golden throne;
Thine is the crystal source of life and light,
And thine the realms of death's eternal night.
Oh! bend thine ear, thy gracious eye incline,
Lo! Ashur's king blasphemes thy holy shrine,
Insults our offerings, and derides our vows.
Oh! strike the diadem from his impious brows,
Tear from his murderous hand the bloody rod,
And teach the trembling nations Thou art God!'
Sylphs! in what dread array with pennons broad,
Onward ye floated o'er the ethereal road;
Called each dank steam the reeking marsh exhales,
Contagious vapours and volcanic gales;
Gave the soft south with poisonous breath to blow,
And rolled the dreadful whirlwind on the foe!
Hark! o'er the camp the venomed tempest sings,
Man falls on man, on buckler buckler rings;
Groan answers groan, to anguish anguish yields,
And death's loud accents shake the tented fields!
High rears the fiend his grinning jaws, and wide
Spans the pale nations with colossal stride,
Waves his broad falchion with uplifted hand,
And his vast shadow darkens all the land.


[The Belgian Lovers and the Plague.] [From the same.]

[When the plague raged in Holland in 1636, a young girl was seized with it, and was removed to a garden, where her lover, who was betrothed to her, attended her as a nurse. He remained uninfected, and she recovered, and was married to him.]

Thus when the plague, upborne on Belgian air, Looked through the mist, and shook his clotted hair, O'er shrinking nations steered malignant clouds, And rained destruction on the gaping crowds;

The beauteous Ægle felt the envenomed dart, Slow rolled her eye and feebly throbbed her heart; Each fervid sigh seemed shorter than the last, And starting friendship shunned her as she passed. With weak unsteady step the fainting maid Seeks the cold garden's solitary shade, Sinks on the pillowy moss her drooping head, And prints with lifeless limbs her leafy bed. On wings of love her plighted swain pursues, Shades her from winds and shelters her from dews, Extends on tapering poles the canvass roof, Spreads o'er the straw-wove mat the flaxen woof; Sweet buds and blossoms on her bolster strows, And binds his kerchief round her aching brows; Soothes with soft kiss, with tender accents charms, And clasps the bright infection in his arms. With pale and languid smiles the grateful fair Applauds his virtues and rewards his care; Mourns with wet cheek her fair companions fled, On timorous step, or numbered with the dead; Calls to her bosom all its scattered rays, And pours on Thyrsis the collected blaze; Braves the chill night, caressing and caressed, And folds her hero-lover to her breast. Less bold, Leander, at the dusky hour, Eyed, as he swam, the far love-lighted tower; Breasted with struggling arms the tossing wave, And sunk benighted in the watery grave. Less bold, Tobias claimed the nuptial bed, Where seven fond lovers by a fiend had bled; And drove, instructed by his angel guide, The enamoured demon from the fatal bride. Sylphs! while your winnowing pinions fanned the air, And shed gay visions o'er the sleeping pair, And with his keener arrows conquered death. Love round their couch effused his rosy breath,

[Death of Eliza at the Battle of Minden.] [From the Loves of the Plants."]

So stood Eliza on the wood-crowned height,
O'er Minden's plain, spectatress of the fight.
Sought with bold eye amid the bloody strife
Her dearer self, the partner of her life;
From hill to hill the rushing host pursued,
And viewed his banner, or believed she viewed.
Pleased with the distant roar, with quicker tread
Fast by his hand one lisping boy she led;
And one fair girl amid the loud alarm
Slept on her kerchief, cradled by her arm;
While round her brows bright beams of Honour dart,
And Love's warm eddies circle round her heart.
Near and more near the intrepid beauty pressed,
Saw through the driving smoke his dancing crest;
Saw on his helm, her virgin hands inwove,
Bright stars of gold, and mystic knots of love;
Heard the exulting shout, They run! they run !'
'Great God!' she cried, 'He's safe! the battle's won!"
A ball now hisses through the airy tides,
(Some fury winged it, and some demon guides !)
Parts the fine locks her graceful head that deck,
Wounds her fair ear, and sinks into her neck;
The red stream, issuing from her azure veins,
Dyes her white veil, her ivory bosom stains.
'Ah me!' she cried, and sinking on the ground,
Kissed her dear babes, regardless of the wound;
'Oh, cease not yet to beat, thou vital urn!
Wait, gushing life, oh wait my love's return!"
Hoarse barks the wolf, the vulture screams from far.
The angel pity shuns the walks of war!


Oh spare, ye war-hounds, spare their tender age; On me, on me,' she cried, 'exhaust your rage !' Then with weak arms her weeping babes caressed, And, sighing, hid them in her blood-stained vest. From tent to tent the impatient warrior flies, Fear in his heart and frenzy in his eyes;

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