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Arma muremque cano.- Virgil.
WHERE swells the proud Danube, let armies engage,
And empires embattled their bloody wars wage:
Let bards for a pension their venal lays sing,
And hail a usurper, a despot, or king,
Who slaughters battalions, like turkeys and pullets,
But conquers by bulletins, rather than bullets.
More pleasing to me is the delicate theme,
Of beauty in tremors, and mice stealing cream.
Of Aspern and Wagram, and such horrid names,
While emperor Boney, with rapture declaims;
And gen’rals and counts, from Nap to Nansouty,
All scamper and scramble in search of the booty.
I sing of a conflict'less bloody, by far-
A mouse, in a cellar, with ladies at war;
Whose fur was as smooth, as their garments of silk;
And whose phiz was white-wash'd in a pitcher of milk.
As, by échelon, march'd, the light parlor brigade
The nibbler lay couch'd in a snug ambuscade.
A batt’ry of butter protected his rear,
On his flanks, the steep sides of the firkin appear:
Like Boney's chasseurs with the Danube in van,
A stream of sweet milk, in front of him ran;
While an empty beer keg, join'd a breach in the wall,
To secure his retreat, should he chance to lose all.
Thus strongly entrench’d, á la mode de souris,
The fair cavalcade, their antagonist see,
Then bravely they halt, reconnoitering his post,
A shield from Cantón, is the armor they boast.
A double prong'd spear, like a Brummagem scissors;
A huge Sheffield carver, a bodkin and tweezers,
Like the sword of Achilles, bright glitter'd in air,
While a box of rappee, was their ruse de la guerre.
Not amazons fam’d, for their contests and wars; In perils undaunted, and heedless of scarsVOL. III.
E’er fought with more valor, than glow'd in the band,
Who sounded the charge, with their carvers in hand
Great Mars, with his joy, shook the sides of the house,
And lady Bellona encouraged the mouse,
When cutting and slashing, Eve's heroine daughters,
Pierc'd through his rear guard, and beat up his quarters.
The mouse kept his station, like any archduke,
Till even the base of his buttresses shook;
But his centre gave way, and he plung’d in the stream,
Discharging a volley of butter and cream.
The damsels stood trembling, appall’d by the shot,
In doubt, if in truth, they were killed or not,
Till whisking their heads, like a whirligig wheel,
'They found there was life, from their power to squeal.
This fact ascertain'd, with new ardor they rise,
The lightning which darted from four brilliant eyes,
Soon melted the bastions, the culprit had rear'd,
And sing'd with a flash, his long whiskers and beard.
“ Afraid of his bacon,” from foes so galvanic,
The mouse beat retreat in a terrible panic:
By the beer keg he rally'd, but lay on his oars,
With an eye to the butter, provisions and stores.
The belles, though as brave as the canoniz'd Joan,
Admiring a courage, resembling their own-
Made a truce, with the pilfering rogue upon terms,
And an armistice sign’d for suspension of arms.
Pill Garlic march'd off, with the honours of war,
A part of the spoils, was the prize of the fair,
And their splendid achievements applauded shall be,
While ladies love butter and cream with their tea.
For ne'er did a battle such ardor display,
As mark'd the exploits of this mem'rable day,
And ne'er did a hero, more gallant withdraw,
Not even, great Nap; to the inner Lobaw-
While Danube majestic, shall roll its dark wave;
And Hudson's pure current, its peaceful shores lave;
“The gentle Lucella," high honours shall claim,
And Phæbe the wit, grace the laurel of Fame.
Had I thought that another would taste
That kiss, which was formerly mine,
Or believed that the form I embraced,
Some happier arms would entwine;
Had I thought that the rose of thy lip,
For a rival as richly would bloom,
Or supposed that another would sip,
From thy mouth, its ambrosial perfume ;
I would never have vow'd to be true,
Nor have sworn that I thought thee so fair,
Nor have said that inconstance in you,
Would o'erwhelm me with grief and despair.
But return to me, Mary! no more;
Still dwell in thy new lover's heart,
Since your faith you can never restore,
charms I will willingly part.
The altar of love, once profan'd,
Has lost its attractions divine,
And the heart with inconstancy stain’d,
Can never, sweet Mary! be mine.
With the variation of a single word in Dryden's translation of one of the satires of Persius, the Roman poet's description of the merchant adventurer to the East in his time is strictly applicable to many a voyager now :
The thrifty merchants, led by lucre, run
To the parched Indies and the rising sun,
And thence hot pepper and rich drugs they bear,
Bartering for spices their Columbian ware.
The different pursuits of man are tolerably hit off in a rough sketch by a great master.
One bribes for high preferments in the state,
A second shakes the box, and sits up late ;
Another lies in bed, dissolving there,
Till knots upon his gouty joints appear,
And chalk is in his crippled fingers found,
Rots, like a doddard oak, and falls to ground.
In the reigns of Elizabeth, James, and Charles, the poets and meu of learning in general could scarcely lay aside the idiom of Rome when writing for the press. Dryden affects many latinisms in his vigorous verse. In the following couplets the reader will find an example, and we will not say that it is a very faulty one. This innovation in style seems to be justified by the example and authority of Dr. Johnson.
The high-shoed ploughman, should he quit the land,
To take the pilot's rudder in his hand,
Artless of stars, and of the moving sand,
The gods would leave him to the waves and wind,
And think all shame was lost in human kind.
In the mythology of the pagans we read of the single-eyed, or as others say, of the squinting priestess of the goddess Isis. Dryden, translating from an old poet, who alludes to some of the superstitions of his country, introduces a strange word to the confusion of grammarians. This uncouth, and we may say ludicrous, epithet is, however, very whimsically descriptive.
Now a cracked egg-shell thy sick fancy frights,
Besides the childish fear of walking sprites ;
Of o'ergrown burly priests thou art afraid,
The timbrel, and the squintefego maid.
The genius of lord Granville has been most honourably acknowedged by lord Chesterfield, in one of the best drawn sketches of the uoblemen, his contemporaries. Horace Walpole has very happily crayoned out some of the darker, as well as of the brighter, features of his friend.
Portrait of John earl of Granville, by lord Orford.
Commanding beauty, smooth'd by cheerful grace,
Sat on the open features of his face:
Bold was his language, rapid, glowing, strong,
And science flow'd spontaneous from his tongue.
A genius, seizing systems, slighting rules,
And void of gall, with boundless scorn of fools.
Ambition dealt her flambeau to his hand,
And Bacchus sprinkled fuel on the brand.
His wish-to counsel monarchs, or control;
His means—the impetuous ardor of his soul:
For, while his views outstript a mortal span,
Nor Prudence drew, nor Craft pursu'd the plan.
Swift fell the scaffold of his airy pride;
But, slightly built, diffus'd no ruin wide.
Unhurt, undaunted, undisturbid he fell,
Could laugh the same, and the same stories tell:
And, more a sage than he, who bade await,
His rivals, till his conquests were complete;
Our jovial statesman, either sail unfurl'd,
And drank his bottle, though he miss'd the world.
HENRY K. WHITE, a very juvenile bard, endowed with powers not very different from those of CHATTERTON, and remarkably pure from all the faults of that marvellous boy, wrote, at a very early age, the following sublime, beautiful, and pathetic stanzas. They present a very dismal picture of many results from the temperature of genius; but it is apprehended that the poet's representation, however gloomy, will accord with some of the reasonings of the philosopher, and with much of the observation and experience of the physician.
MANY there be that through the vale of life
With velvet pace, unnoticed softly go,
While jarring Discord's unharmonious strife
Awakes them not to wo.
By them unheeded carking Care,
Green eyed Grief, and dull Despair ;
Smoothly they pursue their way,
With even tenor and with equal breath,
Alike through cloudy and through sunny day,
They sink in peace to death.
But ah! a few there be whom griefs devour,
And weeping Wo and Disappointment keen,
Repining Poverty, and Sorrow sour,
And self consuming Spleen.
And they are Genius' favourites : these
Know the thought throned mind to please,
And from her fleshy seat to draw
To realms where Fancy's golden orbits roll,
Disdaining all but wildering Rapture's law,
The captivated soul.