« PreviousContinue »
Oh catch the aweful notes, and lift them loud;
Proclaim the theme, by sage, by fool rever'd: Hear it, ye young, ye vain, ye great, ye proud!
'Tis Nature speaks, and Nature will be heard. Yes, ye shall hear, and tremble as ye hear,
While, high with health, your hearts exulting leap; Ev'n in the midst of Pleasure's mad career,
The mental monitor shall wake and weep. For say, than***'s propitious star,
What brighter planet on your births arose : Or gave of Fortune's gifts an ampler share,
In life to lavish, or by death to lose! Early to lose; while, borne on busy wing,
Ye sip the nectar of each varying bloom: Nor fear, while basking in the beams of spring,
The wintry storm that sweeps you to the tomb. Think of her fate! revere the heav'nly hand
That led her hence, though soon, by steps so slow: Long at her couch Death took his patient stand,
And menac'd oft, and oft withheld the blow: To give reflection time, with lenient art,
Each fond delusion from her soul to steal; Teach her from folly peaceably to part,
And wean her from a world she lov'd so well. Say, are ye sure his mercy shall extend
To you so long a span? Alas, ye sigh:
Make then, while yet ye may, your God, your friend,
No; she would warm you with seraphic fire,
Not sink and slumber in your cells of clay.
In yon ethereal founts of bliss to lave: Force then, secure in Faith's protecting shield,
The sting from Death, the vict'ry from the Grave. Is this the bigot's rant? Away, ye vain,
Your hopes, your fears, in doubt, in dulness steep: Go soothe your souls in sickness, grief, or pain, With the sad solace of eternal sleep. Yet will I praise you, triflers as ye are,
More than those preachers of your fav'rite creed, Who proudly swell the brazen throat of war,
Who form the phalanx, bid the battle bleed; Nor wish for more: who conquer, but to die.
Hear, Folly, hear, and triumph in the tale : Like you, they reason; not, like you, enjoy
The breeze of bliss, that fills your silken sail : On Pleasure's glitt'ring stream ye gaily steer
Your little course to cold oblivion's shore: They dare the storm, and, through th' inclement year, Stem the rough surge, and brave the torrent's roar. Is it for glory? that just Fate denies.
Long must the warrior moulder in his shroud, Ere from her trump the heav'n-breath'd accents rise, That lift the hero from the fighting crowd. Is it his grasp of empire to extend?
To curb the fury of insulting foes? Ambition, cease: the idle contest end:
'T is but a kingdom thou canst win or lose.
And why must murder'd myriads lose their all,
That thou may'st flame the meteor of an hour? Go wiser ye, that flutter life away,
Crown with the mantling juice the goblet high; Weave the light dance, with festive freedom gay,
And live your moment, since the next ye die. Yet know, vain sceptics, know, th' Almighty mind, Who breath'd on man a portion of his fire, Bade his free soul, by earth nor time confin'd To Heav'n, to immortality aspire. Nor shall the pile of hope, his mercy rear'd, By vain philosophy be e'er destroy'd: Eternity, by all or wish'd or fear'd,
Shall be by all or suffer'd or enjoy'd.
EPITAPH ON MRS. MASON.
IN THE CATHEDRAL OF BRISTOL.
TAKE, holy earth! all that my soul holds dear: Take that best gift which Heav'n so lately gave: To Bristol's fount I bore with trembling care
Her faded form; she bow'd to taste the wave, And died. Does youth, does beauty, read the line? Does sympathetic fear their breasts alarm? Speak, dead Maria! breathe a strain divine:
Ev'n from the grave thou shalt have power to charm.
Bid them be chaste, be innocent, like thee;
As firm in friendship, and as fond in love. Tell them, though 't is an aweful thing to die,
('T was ev'n to thee) yet the dread path once trod, Heav'n lifts its everlasting portals high,
And bids "the pure in heart behold their God."
WILLIAM COWPER, a poet of distinguished and
original genius, was born in 1731, at Great Berkhampstead in Hertfordshire. His father, the rector of the parish, was John Cowper, D. D., nephew of Lord-Chancellor Cowper. The subject of this memorial was educated at Westminster school, where he acquired the classical knowledge and correctness of taste for which it is celebrated, but with. out any portion of the confident and undaunted spirit which is supposed to be one of the most valuable acquisitions derived from the great schools, to those who are to push their way in the world. On the contrary, it appears from his poem entitled "Tirocinium," that the impressions made upon his mind from what he witnessed in this place, were such as gave him a permanent dislike to the system of public education. Soon after his leaving Westminster, he was articled to a solicitor in London for three years; but so far from studying the law, he spent the greatest part of his time with a relation, where he and the future Lord Chancellor (Lord Thurlow) spent their time, according to his own expression, "in giggling, and making giggle."