Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE

POETICAL WORKS

OF

SAMUEL ROGERS,

The Pleasures of Memory.

IN TWO PARTS.

lloc est
Vivere bis, vitá posse priore frui.-Mart.

On could my mind, unfolded in my page,
Enlighten climes and mould a future age;
There as it glow'd, with noblest frenzy fraught,
Dispense the treasures of exalted thought;
To Virtue wake the pulses of the heart,
And bid the tear of emulation start!
Oh could it still, through each succeeding year,
My life, my manners, and my name endear;
And, when the poet sleeps in silent dust,
Still hold communion with the wise and just! -
Yer should this Verse, my leisure's best resource,
When through the world it steals its secret course,
Revive but once a generous wish supprest,
Chase but a sigh, or charm a care to rest;
In one good deed a fleeting hour employ,
Or tlusli one faded cheek with honest joy;
Blest were my lines, though limited their sphere,
Though short their date, as his who traced them here.

1793.

| larity. They are sometimes excited by sensible objects, and sometimes by an internal operation of the mind. Of the former species is most probably the memory of brutes; and its many sources of pleasure to them, as well as to us, are considered in the first part. The latter is the most perfect degree of memory, and forms the subject of the second.

When ideas have any relation whatever, they are attractive of each other in the mind; and the perception of any object naturally leads to the idea of another, which was connected with it either in time or place, or which can be compared or contrasted with it. Hence arises our attachment to inanimate objects; hence also, in some degree, the love of our country, and the emotion with which we contemplate the celebrated scenes of antiquity. Hence a picture directs our thoughts to the original: and, as cold and dark ness suggest forcibly the ideas of heat and light, he, who feels the infirmities of age, dwells most on whatever reminds him of the vigour and vivacity of his youth.

The associating principle, as here employed, is no less conducive to virtue than to happiness ; and, as such, it frequently discovers itself in the most tumultuous scenes of life. It addresses our finer feelings, and gives exercise to every mild and generous propensity.

Not confined to man, it extends through all animated nature; and its effects are peculiarly striking in the domestic tribes,

PART I.

Dolce septier,
Colle, che mi piacesti,
Ov' ancor per usanza Amor mi mens ;
Ben riconosco in voi l'usate forme,
Non, lasso, in me.

PETRARCH.

ANALYSIS

Twilight's soft dews steal o'er the village-green, The Poem begins with the description of an obscure With magic lints to harmonize the scene : village, and of the pleasing melancholy which it excites Stilled is the hum that through the hamlet broke, on being revisited after a long absence. This mixed When round the ruins of their ancient oak sensation is an effect of the Memory. From an effect | The peasants flocked to hear the minstrel play, we naturally ascend to the cause; and the subject pro- And games and carols closed the busy day. poscd is ihen unfolded, with an investigation of the na ller whcel at rest, the matron thrills no more [ure and leading principles of this faculty.

With treasured tales, and legendary lore. It is evident that our ideas flow in continual succession, all, all are tled; nor mirth nor music flows and introduce cach other with a certain degree of regu- To chase the dreams of innocent repose.

All, all are fled; yet still Uinger here !

Soar'd in the swing, half pleased and half afraid, What secret charms this silent spot endear?

Through sister elms that waved their summer-shade; Mark

yon old Mansion frowning through the trees, Or strewed with crumbs yon root-inwoven seat, Whose hollow turret wooes the whistling breeze.

To lure the red-breast from his lone retreat! That casement, arch'd with ivy's brownest shade,

Childhood's loved

group

revisits every scene; First to these eyes the light of heaven convey'd. The tangled wood-walk, and the tufted green! The mouldering gateway strews the grass-grown court, Indulgent MEMORY wakes, and lo, they live! Once the calm scene of many a simple sport,

Clothed with far softer hues than Light can give. When nature pleased, for life itself was new,

Thou first, best friend that Heaven assigns below, And the heart promised what the fancy drew.

To soothe and sweeten all the cares we know; Sce, through the fractured pediment reveald, Whose glad suggestions still each vain alarm, Where moss inlays the rudely-sculptured shield, When nature fades, and life forgets to charm; The martin's old hereditary nest :

Thee would the Muse invoke!- to thiee belong Long may the ruin spare its hallow'd guest !

The sage's precept, and the poet's song. As jars the hinge, what sullen echoes call!

What soften'd views thy magic glass reveals, Oh haste, unfold the hospitable hall!

When o'er the landscape Time's meek twilight steals ! That hall, where once, in antiquated state,

As when in ocean sinks the orb of day, The chair of justice held the grave

debate.

Long on the wave reflected lustres play; Now stain'd with dews, with cobwebs darkly hung, Thy temper'd gleams of happiness resign'd Oft has its roof with peals of rapture rung ;

Glance on the darken'd mirror of the mind. When round yon ample board, in due degree,

The School's lone porch, with reverend mosses grey, We sweeten'd every meal with social glee.

Just tells the pensive pilgrim where it lay. The heart's light laugh pursued the circling jest;

Mute is the bell that rung at peep of dawn, And all was sunshine in each little breast.

Quickening my truant-feet across the lawn : ’T was here we chased the slipper by the sound; Unheard the shout that rent the noon-tide air, And turn'd the blindfold hero round and round. When the slow dial gave a pause to care. "T was here, at eve, we form'd our fairy ring;

Up springs, at every step, to claim a tcar, (1) And Fancy flutter'd on her wildest wing.

Some little friendship form'd and cherishi'd here; Giants and genii chain'd each wondering ear;

And not the lightest leaf, but trembling teems And orphan-sorrows drew the ready tear.

With golden visions, and romantic dreams! Oft with the babes we wander'd in the wood,

Down by yon hazel copse, at evening, blazed Or viewd the forest-feats of Robin Hood :

The Gipsey's fagot-there we stood and gazed ; Oft, fancy-led, at midnight's fearful hour,

Gazed on her sun-burnt face with silent awe, With startling step we scaled the lonely tower;

Her tatter'd mantle, and her hood of straw; O'er infant innocence to hang and wecp,

Her moving lips, her caldron brimming o'er ;
Murder'd by ruffian hands, when smiling in its sleep. The drowsy brood that on her back she bore,
Ye Houschold Deities! whose guardian eye

Imps in the barn with mousing owlet bred,
Mark'd cach pure thought, ere register'd on high ; From ritled roost at nightly revel fed ;
Still, still ye walk the consecrated ground,

Whose dark eyes flash'd througlı locks of blackest shade, And breath the soul of Inspiration round.

When in the breeze the distant watch-dog bay'd :As o'er the dusky furniture I bend,

And heroes fled the Sibyl's mutter'd call, Each chair awakes the feelings of a friend.

Whose elfin prowess scaled the orchard-wall.
The storied arras, source of fond delight,

As o'er my palm the silver piece she drew,
With old achievement charms the wilder'd siglit; And traced the line of life with searching view,
And still, with Heraldry's rich hues imprest,

How throbb’d my fluttering pulse with hopes and fears, On the dim window glows the pictured crest.

To learn the colour of my future years! The screen unfolds its many-coloured chart;

Ah, then, what honest triumph flushd my breast; The clock still points its moral to the heart;

This truth once known-To bless is to be blest! That faithful monitor 'I was heaven to hear,

We led the bending beggar on his way, When soft it spoke a promised pleasure nicar:

(Bare were liis feet, his tresses silver-grey) And has its soher hand, its simple chime,

Soothed the keen pangs his aged spirit fell, Forgot to trace the feathered feet of Time?

And on his tale with mute attention dwelt. Thai massive beam, with curious carvings wrought, As in his scrip we dropt our little store, Whence the caged linnet soothed my pensive thought; And sigh'd to think that little was no more, Those muskets, cascd with venerable rust;

He breathed his prayer, « Long may such goodness live!. Those once-loved forms, still breathing thro' their dust, 'T was all he gave, 't was all he had to give. Sull, from the frame in mould gigantic cast,

But hark! through those old firs, with sullen swell, Starting to lifc-all whisper of the Past!

The church-clock strikes ! ye tender scenes, farewell ! As through the garden's descrt paths I rove,

It calls me bience, beneath their shade, to trace What fond illusions swarm in every grove!

The few fond lines that Time may soon effice. How oft, when purple evening tinged the west,

On yon grey stone, that fronts the chancel-door, We watched the emmel to her grainy nest ;

Worn smooth by busy feel now seen no more, Welcorned the wild-bee home on weary wing,

Each eve we shot the marble through the ring, Laden with sweets, the choicest of the spring!

When the heart danced, and life was in its spring; llow oft inscribed, with Friendship's votive rhyme, Alas! unconscious of the kindred earth, The bark now silver'd by the touch of Time;

That faintly ecl:o'd to die voice of mirth.

The glow-worm loves her emerald light to shed, Long o'er the wave a wistful look he cast, Where now the sexton rests his hoary licad.

Long watched the streaming signal from the mast; Oft, as he turn'd the greensward with liis spade, Till twilight's dewy tints deceived his eve, He lectured every youth that round him play'd ; And fairy-forests fringed the evening sky. And, calmly pointing where our fathers lay,

So Scotia's Queen, (5) as slowly dawn'd the day, Roused us to rival cach, the hero of his day.

Rose on her couch, and gazed hier soul away. Hush, ye fond flutterings, hush! while here alone Her eyes had blessed the beacon's glimmering height, I search the records of each mouldering stone.

That faintly tipt the feathery surge with light; Guides of my life! Instructors of my youth !

But now the morn with orient hues pourtray'd Who first unveil'd the hallow'd form of Truth;

Each castled cliff, and brown monastic shade: Whose every word enlighten'd and endear'd;

All touched the talisman's resistless sprinę, In age beloved, in poverty revered ;

And lo, what busy tribes were instant on the wing! In Friendship's silent register ye live,

Thus kindred objects kindred thoughts inspire, (6) Nor ask the vain memorial Art can give.

As summer-clouds tlash forth electric fire. - But when the sons of peace, of pleasure sleep, And hence this spot gives back the joys of youth, When only Sorrow wakes, and wakes to weep,

Warm as the life, and with the mirror's truth. What spells entrance my visionary mind

Hence home-felt pleasure (7) prompts the Patriot's sigh ; With sighs so sweet, with transports so refined ! This makes him wish to live, and dare to die. Ethereal Power! who at the noon of night

For this young Foscari,(8) whose hapless fate Recall'st the far-iled spirit of delight;

Venice should blush to hear the Muse relate,
From whom that musing, melancholy mood

When exile wore his blooming years away,
Which charms the wise, and clevates the good ; To sorrow's long soliloquies a prey,
Blest MEMORY, hail! Oh grant the grateful Muse, When reason, justice, vainly urged his cause,
Her pencil dipt in Nature's living lines,

For this he roused her sanguinary laws;
To pass the clouds that round thy empire roll,

Glad to return, though Hope could grant no more, And trace its airy precincts in the soul.

And chains and torture hail'd him to the shore. Lull'd in the countless chambers of the brain,

And hence the charm historic scenes impart: (9) Our thoughts are link'd by many a hidden chain. Hence Tiber awes, and Avon melts the heart. Awake but one, and lo, what myriads rise! (2)

Aerial forms in 'Tempe's classic vale Each stamps its image as the other tlies!

Glance through the gloom, and whisper in the gale; Each, as the various avenues of sense

In wild Vaucluse with love and Laura dwell, Delight or sorrow to the soul dispense,

And watch and weep in Eloisa's cell. (10) Brightens or fades; yet all, with magie art,

'T was ever thus. As now at Virgil's tomb (1) Control the latent fibres of the heart.

We bless the shade, and bid the verdure bloom: As studious Prospero's mysterious spell

So Tully paused, amid the wrecks of Time, (12) Drew every subject-spirit to his cell;

On the rude stone to trace the truth sublime; Each, at thy call, advances or retires,

When at his feet, in lionour'd dust disclosed, As judgment dictates, or the scene inspires.

The immortal Sage of Syracuse reposed. Each thrills the seat of sense, that sacred source And as he long in sweet delusion hung, Whence the fine nerves direct their mazy course,

Where once a Plato taught, a Pindar sung; And through the frame invisibly convey

Who now but meets him musing, when lie roves The subtle, quick vibrations as they play.

His ruinid Tusculan's romantic groves ? Survey the globe, each ruder realm explore;

In Rome's great forum, who but hears bim roll From Reason's faintest ray to Newton soar.

His moral thunders o'er the subject soul? What different spheres to human bliss assign'd!

And hence that calm delight the portrait gives: What slow gradations in the scale of mind !

We

gaze on every feature till it lives! Yet mark in each these mystic wonders wrought; Still the fond lover sees the absent maid ; Oh mark the sleepless energies of thought !

And the lost friend still lingers in his shade! The adventurous boy, that asks his little share, Say why the pensive widow loves to weep, (13) And hies from home with many a gossip's prayer,

When on her knee she rocks her babe to sleep: Turns on the neighbouring hill, once more to sec

Tremblingly still, she lifts his veil to trace The dear abode of peace and privaey;

The father's features in his infant face. And as he turns, the thatch among the trees,

The hoary grandsire smiles the hour away, The smoke's blue wreaths ascending with the breeze, Won by the raptures of a game at play; The village-common spotted white with sheep,

He bends to meet each artless burst of joy, The churclı-yard yews round which his fathers slecp;(3) Forgets his age, and acts again the boy. All rouse Reflection's sadly-pleasing train,

What though the iron school of War erase And oft he looks and weeps, and looks again.

Each milder virtue, and each softer grace; So, when the mild Tupia dared explore

What though the fiend's torpedo-touch arrest Arts yet untaught, and worlds unknown before, Each gentler, finer impulse of the breast; And, with the sons of Science, wooed the gale

Still shall this active principle preside, That, rising, swell’d their strange expanse of sail; And wake the tear to Pity's self denied. So, when he breathed his firm yet fond adieu, (4)

The intrepid Swiss, who guards a forcign shore, Borne from his teafy hut, his carved canoc,

Condemn'd to climb his mountain-cliffs no more, And all his soul best loved —such tears he shed,

If chance he hears the song so sweetly wild (14) While each soft scene of summer-beauty tled.

Which on those cliffs his infant hours beguiled,

the sky.

Melts at the long-lost scenes that round him rise, Want with her babes round generous Valour clung, And sinks a martyr to repentant siglas.

To wring the slow surrender from his tongue, Ask not if courts or camps dissolve the charm: 'T was thine to animate her closing eye; Say why Vespasian loved his Sabine farm; (15) Alas! 't was thine perchance the first to die, Why great Navarre, (16) when France and freedom bled, Crushed by her meagre hand, when welcomed from Sought the lone limits of a forest-shed. When Diocletian's self-corrected mind (17)

Hark! the bee (21) winds her small but mellow horn, The imperial fasces of a world resign d,

Blithe to salute the sunny smile of morn. Say why we trace the labours of his spade,

O'er thymy downs she bends her busy course, In calm Salona's philosophic shade.

And many a stream allures her to its source. Say, when contentious Charles renounced a throue, (18) | 't is noon, 't is night. That eye so finely wrought, To muse with monks unletter'd and unknown, .Beyond the search of sense, the soar of thought, What from his soul the parting tribute drew?

Now vainly asks the scenes she left behind;
What claim'd the sorrows of a last adieu ?

Its orb so full, its vision so confined !
The still retreats that soothed his tranquil breast Who guides the patient pilgrim to her cell ?
Ere grandeur dazzled, and its cares oppress'd.

Who bids her soul with conscious triumph swell?
Undamp'd by time, the generous Instinct glows With conscious truth retrace the mazy clue
Far as Angola's sands, as Zembla's snows;

Of varied scents, that charm'd her as she flew?
Glows in the tiger's den, the serpent's nest,

Jail, MEMORY, bail! thy universal reign
On every form of varied life imprest.

Guards the least link of Being's glorious chain.
The social tribes its choicest influence hail:-
And when the drum beats briskly in the gale,
The war-worn courser charges at the sound,
And with young vigour wheels the pasture round.

PART II.
Oft has the aged tenant of the vale
Leaned on his staff to lengthen out the tale;
Oft have his lips the grateful tribute breathed,

Delle cose custode, e dispensiera.

TASSO.
From sire to son with pious zeal bequeath'a.
When o'er the blasted leath the day declined,

ANALYSIS
And on the scathed oak warr'd the winter-wind;
When not a distant taper's twinkling ray

The Memory has hitherto acted only in subservience to Gleam'd o'er the furze to light him on his way;

the senses, and so far man is not eminently distinguished When not a sheep-hell soothed his listening ear, from other animals: but, with respect to man, she bas And the big rain-drops told the tempest ncar;

a higher province; and is often busily employed, when Then did his horse the homeward track descry,(19) excited by no external cause whatever. She preserves, The track that shunn'd his sad, inquiring eye;

for his use, the treasures of art and science, history and And win each wavering purpose to relent,

philosophy. She colours all the prospects of life: for With warmth so mild, so gently violent,

* We can only anticipate the future, hy concluding what That his charmed hand the careless rein resign'd, is possible from what is past. On her agency depends And doubts and terrors vanished from his mind. every effusion of the Fancy, who with the boldest effort Recall the traveller, whose alter'd form

can only compound or transpose, augment or diminish Has borne the buffet of the mountain-storm;

the materials which she has collected. And who will first his fond impatience meet?

When the first emotions of despair have subsided, His faithful dog 's already at his feet!

and sorrow bas softened into melancholy, she amuscs Yes, though the porter spurn him from the door, with a retrospect of innocent pleasures, and inspires

Though all, that knew him, know his face no more, that noble confidence which results from the consciousHis faithful dog shall tell his joy to each,

ness of having acted well, When sleep has suspended With that mute eloquence which passes speech. the organs of sense from their office, she not only supAnd see, the master but returns to die!

plies the mind with images, but assists in their combiYet who shall bid the watchful servant fly?

nation. And even in madness itself, when the soul is The blasts of heaven, the drenching dews of earth, resigned over to the tyranny of a distempered imagiThe wanton insnlts of unfeeling mirth,

nation, she revives past perceptions, and awakens that These, when to guard Misfortune's sacred grave, train of thought which was formerly most familiar. Will firm Fidelity exult to brave.

Nor are we pleased only with a review of the brighter Led by what chart, transports the timid dove passages of life. Events, the most distressing in their The wreaths of conquest, or the vows of love?

immediate consequences, are often cherished in reSay, through the clouds what compass points her flight? membrance with a degree of enthusiasm. Monarchs have gazed, and nations bless'd the sight. But the world and its occupations give a mechanical Pile rocks on rocks, bid woods and mountains rise, impulse to the passions, which is not very favourable Eclipse her native shades, her native skies :

to the indulgence of this feeling. It is in a calm and *T is vain! through Ether's pathless wilds she goes, well-regulated mind that the Memory is most perfect; And lights at last where all her cares repose.

and solitude is hier best sphere of action.

With this Sweet bird! thy truth shall Haarleni's walls allest,(20) sentiment is introduced a Tale illustrative of her inAnd unborn ages consecrate thy nest.

tluence in solitude, sickness, and sorrow. And the subWhen, with the silent energy of grief,

ject having now been considered, so far as it relates to With looks that asked, yet dared not hope relief, man and the animal world, the Poem concludes with

« PreviousContinue »