« PoprzedniaDalej »
With newly-gathered flowerets; chaplets gay
A popular vitality has been awarded to a ballad of Glover's, while his epics have sunk into oblivion:—
Admiral Hosier's Ghost.
[Written on the taking of Carthagena from the Spaniards, 1739.]
[The case of Hosier, which is here so pathetically represented, was briefly this:—In April 1726, that commander was sent with a strong fleet into the Spanish West Indies, to block up the galleons in the ports of that country; or, should they presume to come out, to seize and carry them into England. He accordingly arrived at the Bastimentos near Portobello; but being restricted by his orders from obeying the dictates of his courage, lay inactive on that station until he became the jest of the Spaniards. He afterwards removed to Carthagena, and continued cruising in those seas until the far greater part of his men perished deplorably by the diseases of that unhealthy climate. This brave man, seeing his best officers and men thus daily swept away, his ships exposed to inevitable destruction, and himself made the sport of the enemy, is said to have died of a broken heart.]
Mark those numbers, pale and horrid, Who were once my sailors bold;
Lo! each hangs his drooping forehead, While his dismal tale is told.
I, by twenty sail attended,
Nothing then its wealth defended
Oh! that in this rolling ocean
And obeyed my heart's warm motion,
For resistance I could fear none;
What thou, brave and happy Vernon,
Then the Bastimentos never
Nor the seas the sad receiver
Thus, like thee, proud Spain dismaying,
Though condemned for disobeying,
To have fallen, my country crying,
Had been better far than dying
Unrepining at thy glory,
But remember our sad story,
Sent in this foul clime to languish,
Wasted with disease and anguish,
Hence with all my train attending, From their oozy tombs below,
Through the hoary foam ascending, Here I feed my constant wo.
Here the Bastimentos viewing,
And, our plaintive cries renewing,
O'er these waves forever mourning
If, to Britain's shores returning,
After this proud foe subduing,
Think on vengeance for my ruin,
The poets who follow are a secondary class, few of whom are now noted for more than one or two favourite pieces.
Robert Dodsley (1703–1764) was an able and spirited publisher of his day, the friend of literature and of literary men. He projected the Annual Register, in which Burke was engaged, and he was the first to collect and republish the “Old English Plays,' which form the foundation of our national drama. Dodsley wrote an excellent little moral treatise, The
With that first ring I married youth, Grace, beauty, innocence, and truth; Taste long admired, sense long revered, And all my Molly then appeared. If she, by merit since disclosed, Prove twice the woman I supposed, I plead that double merit now, To justify a double vow. Here, then, to-day (with faith as sure, With ardour as intense, as pure, As when, amidst the rites divine, I took thy troth, and plighted mine), To thee, sweet girl, my second ring A token and a pledge I bring: With this I wed, till death us part, Thy riper virtues to my heart; Those virtues which, before untried, The wife has added to the bride; Those virtues, whose progressive claim, Endearing wedlock's very name, My soul enjoys, my song approves, For conscience' sake as well as love's. And why?—They show me every hour Honour's high thought, Affection's power, Discretion's deed, sound Judgment's sentence, And teach me all things—but repentance.
SIR WILLIAM JONES.
“It is not Sir William Jones's poetry,” says Mr Southey, “that can perpetuate his name.’ This is true: it was as an oriental scholar and legislator, an enlightened lawyer and patriot, that he earned his laurels. His profound learning and philological researches (he was master of twenty-eight languages) were the wonder and admiration of his contemporaries. Sir William was born in London in 1746.
Sir William Jones.
His father was an eminent mathematician, but died when his son was only three years of age. The care of educating young Jones devolved upon his mother, who was well qualified for the duty by her virtues and extensive learning. When in his fifth year, the imagination of the young scholar was caught by the sublime description of the angel in the tenth chapter of the Apocalypse, and the impression was never effaced. In 1753 he was placed FROM 1727
at Harrow school, where he continued nearly ten years, and became an accomplished and critical classical scholar. He did not confine himself merely to the ancient authors usually studied, but added a knowledge of the Arabic characters, and acquired sufficient Hebrew to read the Psalms. In 1764 he was entered of University college, Oxford. Here his taste for oriental literature continued, and he engaged a native of Aleppo, whom he had discovered in London, to act as his preceptor. He also assiduously perused the Greek poets and historians. In his nineteenth year, Jones accepted an offer to be private tutor to Lord Althorp, afterwards Earl Spencer. A fellowship at Oxford was also conferred upon him, and thus the scholar was relieved from the fear of want, and enabled to pursue his favourite and unremitting studies. An opportunity of displaying one branch of his acquirements was afforded in 1768. The king of Denmark in that year visited England, and brought with him an eastern manuscript, containing the life of Nadir Shah, which he wished translated into French. Jones executed this arduous task, being, as Lord Teignmouth, his biographer, remarks, the only oriental scholar in England adequate to the performance. He still continued in the noble family of Spencer, and in 1769 accompanied his pupil to the continent. Next year, feeling anxious to attain an independent station in life, he entered himself a student of the Temple, and, applying himself with his characteristic ardour to his new profession, he contemplated with pleasure the ‘stately edifice of the laws of England,’ and mastered their most important principles and details. In 1774 he published Commentaries on Asiatic Poetry, but finding that jurisprudence was a jealous mistress, and would not admit the eastern muses to participate in his attentions, he devoted himself for some years exclusively to his legal studies. A patriotic feeling was mingled with this resolution. “Had I lived at Rome or Athens,’ he said, ‘I should have preferred the labours, studies, and dangers of their orators and illustrious citizens —connected as they were with banishment and even death—to the groves of the poets or the gardens of the philosophers. Here I adopt the same resolution. The constitution of England is in no respect inferior to that of Rome or Athens.’ Jones now practised at the bar, and was appointed one of the Commissioners of Bankrupts. In 1778, he published a translation of the speeches of Isaeus, in causes concerning the law of succession to property at Athens, to which he added notes and a commentary. The stirring events of the time in which he lived were not beheld without strong interest by this accomplished scholar. He was decidedly opposed to the American war and to the slave trade, then so prevalent, and in 1781 he produced his noble Alcaic Ode, animated by the purest spirit of patriotism, and a high strain of poetical enthusiasm. He also joined in representing the necessity that existed for a reform of the electoral system in England. But though he made speeches and wrote pamphlets in
favour of liberty and pure government, Jones was
no party man, and was desirous, he said, of being transported to the distance of five thousand leagues
from all the fatal discord of contending politicians.
His wishes were soon accomplished. He was ap
pointed one of the judges of the supreme court at Fort William, in Bengal, and the honour of knight
hood was conferred upon him. He married the
daughter of Dr Shipley, bishop of St Asaph ; and
in April 1783, in his thirty-seventh year, he em
barked for India, never to return. Sir William
Jones entered upon his judicial functions with all
the advantages of a high reputation, unsullied in
tegrity, disinterested benevolence, and unwearied perseverance. In the intervals of leisure from his duties, he directed his attention to scientific objects, and established a society in Calcutta to promote inquiries by the ingenious, and to concentrate the knowledge to be collected in Asia. In 1784, his health being affected by the climate and the closeness of his application, he made a tour through various parts of India, in the course of which he wrote The Enchanted Fruit, or Hindoo Wife, a poetical tale, and a Treatise on the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India. He also studied the Sanscrit language, being unwilling to continue at the mercy of the Pundits, who dealt out Hindoo law as they pleased. Some translations from oriental authors, and original poems and essays, he contributed to a periodical established at Calcutta, entitled The Asiatic Miscellany. He meditated an epic poem on the Discovery of England by Brutus, to which his knowledge of Hindoo mythology suggested a new machinery, the agency of Hindoo deities. To soften the violence of the fiction into harmony with probability, the poet conceived the future comprehension of Hindostan within the circle of British dominion, as prospectively visible in the age of Brutus, to the guardian angels of the Indian peninsula. This gorgeous design he had matured so far as to write the arguments of the intended books of his epic, but the poem itself he did not live to attempt. In 1789 Sir William translated an ancient Indian drama, Sacontala, or the Fatal Ring, which exhibits a picture of Hindoo manners in the century preceding the Christian era. He engaged to compile a digest of Hindoo and Mahometan laws; and in 1794 he translated the Ordinances of Menu or the Hindoo system of duties, religious and civil. His motive to this task, like his inducement to the digest, was to aid the benevolent intentions of our legislature in securing to the natives, in a qualified degree, the administration of justice by their own laws. Eager to accomplish his digest, Sir William Jones remained in India after the delicate health of Lady Jones compelled her departure in December 1793. He proposed to follow her in the ensuing season, but in April he was seized with inflammation of the liver, which terminated fatally, after an illness of one week, on the 27th of April 1794. Every honour was paid to his remains, and the East India Company erected a monument to his memory in St Paul's Cathedral. The attainments of Sir William Jones were so profound and various, that it is difficult to conceive how he had comprised them in his short life of fortyeight years. As a linguist he has probably never been surpassed; for his knowledge extended to a critical study of the literature and antiquities of various nations. As a lawyer he had attained to a high rank in England, and he was the Justinian of India. In general science there were few departments of which he was ignorant: in chemistry, mathematics, botany, and music, he was equally proficient. ‘He seems,’ says his biographer, “to have acted on this maxim, that whatever had been attained was attainable by him; and he was never observed to overlook or to neglect any opportunity of adding to his accomplishments or to his knowledge. When in India, his studies began with the dawn; and in seasons of intermission from professional duty, continued throughout the day; meditation retraced and confirmed what reading had collected or investigation discovered. By a regular application of time to particular occupations, he pursued various objects without confusion; and in undertakings which depended on his individual perseverance, he was never deterred by difficulties from proceeding to a successful termination. With respect to the
| The poems of Sir William Jones have been collected and printed in two small volumes. An early collection was published by himself, dedicated to the Countess Spencer, in 1772. They consist of a few original pieces in English and Latin, and translations from Petrarch and Pindar; paraphrases of Turkish and Chinese odes, hymns on subjects of Hindoo mythology, Indian Tales, and a few songs from the Persian. Of these the beautiful lyric from | Hafiz is the most valuable. The taste of Sir William | Jones was early turned towards eastern poetry, in which he was captivated with new images, expressions, and allegories, but there is a want of chasteness and simplicity in most of these productions. The name of their illustrious author ‘reflects credit,' as Campbell remarks, “on poetical biography, but his secondary fame as a composer shows that the palm of poetry is not likely to be won, even by great genius, without exclusive devotion to the pursuit.'
An Ode, in Imitation of Alcatus.
What constitutes a state? Not high-raised battlement or laboured mound, Thick wall or moated gate; Not cities proud with spires and turrets crowned ; Not bays and broad-armed ports, Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride; Not starred and spangled courts, Where low-browed baseness wafts perfume to pride. No: men, high-minded men, | With powers as far above dull brutes endued In forest, brake, or den, As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude; Men who their duties know, But know their rights, and, knowing, dare maintain, Prevent the long-aimed blow, And crush the tyrant while they rend the chain: These constitute a state, And sovereign Law, that state's collected will, O'er thrones and globes elate Sits empress, crowning good, repressing ill; Smit by her sacred frown, The fiend Discretion like a vapour sinks, And e'en the all-dazzling Crown Hides his faint rays, and at her bidding shrinks.
Such was this heaven-loved isle, Than Lesbos fairer, and the Cretan shore! No more shall Freedom smile ! Shall Britons languish, and be men no more? Since all must life resign, Those sweet rewards, which decorate the brave, 'Tis folly to decline, And steal inglorious to the silent grave.
* As respects sleep, the example of Sir Walter Scott may be added to that of Sir William Jones, for the great novelist has stated that he required seven hours of total unconsciousness to
fit him for the duties of the day.
A Persian Song of Hafiz.
Sweet maid, if thou would'st charm my sight,
Boy, let yon liquid ruby flow,
O! when these fair perfidious maids,
In vain with love our bosoms glow: Can all our tears, can all our sighs, New lustre to those charms impart : Can cheeks, where living roses blow, Where nature spreads her richest dyes, Require the borrowed gloss of art?
Speak not of fate: ah! change the theme,
Beauty has such resistless power,
But ah! sweet maid, my counsel hear (Youth should attend when those advise Whom long experience renders sage): While music charms the ravished ear; While sparkling cups delight our eyes, Be gay, and scorn the frowns of age.
What cruel answer have I heard 7
Go boldly forth, my simple lay,
The Concluding Sentence of Berkeley's Siris Imitated.
Before thy mystic altar, heavenly Truth,
* The following is the last sentence of the Siris:—‘IIe that
would make a real progress in knowledge must dedicate his
age as well as youth, the latter growth as well as the first fruits, at the altar of Truth.” 117 - t
Some blast had struck the cheerful scene;
When Night her murky pinions spread, And sober folks retire to bed, To every public place they flew, Where Jenny told them who was who. Money was always at command, And tripped with pleasure hand in hand. Money was equipage, was show, Gallini's, Almack's, and Soho;