« 上一頁繼續 »
THIS poem seems intended as
imitation of Dr. Johnson's "London." There is, however, very little similarity in its topics. It is a very brief descant on the discouragements which genius meets with in America; on the frailty and inelegance of our architecture, in that mode of building which exposes our towns, and particularly Boston, to the ravages of fire; on the broils and animosities of party, and on the absurdities of fashion and dress, manners, amusements, music and poetry. On each of these topics, the poet expatiates briefly, but with considerable spirit and elegance. He is most copious, and writes with most energy, on the folly of wooden buildings. The lines on this subject, will afford a very advantageous specimen of the performance, and few readers will refuse to join in the justice of the sentence pronounced :
Yet here no splendid monuments arise,
No dome ascends, no turret strikes the skies.
Where spires should parley with the setting sun,
And shine with lustre when the day
A pyre of shapeless structures crowds the spot, Where taste, and all but cheapness, is
One little spark the funeral pile may fire,
And Boston blazing, see itself expire.
Views the bright casement of his window glare,
And hears the brazen clamour in the air.
Ascending columns point the fatal doom,
And flashing, rend uncertain midnight's gloom.
Along the streets tumultuous thunders fly,
While waking watchmen join the dismal cry.
All headlong rush, attracted by the blaze,
And crowd around to moralize and Some more benevolence, than judg
over anxious, ruin what they
Too idly active, mischievously kind, Throw from the windows every thing they find.
Part 'gainst the rest unconsciously conspire,
And loud confusion mounts on wings
But half attir'd, and wrapp'd in nightly dress,
The shivering, houseless victims of distress
A shelter seek; perhaps of all bereft,
Yet with the blushes of another day,
And aided by subscription's liberal hands,
On the warm spot another mansion stands,
Larger by far, more comely to the view,
Of better boards and better shingles too.
Each rebus-maker takes the poet's
And every rhymer is the heir of fame.
On the whole, there is much strength of imagery, and spirited versification in this little performance. Should the writer continue to pursue the same path, we doubt whether his own case would not prove an exception to the charge so often made against America, of being insensible and inattentive to genius of its own growth. It is the spirit of satire to deal out invectives without measure, and to heap penalties on the breach of laws, the very breach of which carries its own punishment along with it. Thus the insensibility to poetical and literary merit, so far as this insensibility is real, ought to entitle us to condolence and com
passion, rather than to chiding and rebuke, since to want this faculty, is to want a source of very great pleasure; and since no man is enabled to acquire it by reproach and ridicule.
And the soft zephyr o'er the meadow blows;
No wave deforms the river's polish'd breast,
But calm and peaceful through the vale it flows;
But when dark clouds deform the azure skies,
Red lightnings gleam, hoarse thunder shakes the poles, And whirlwinds rage; the heaving billows rise,
While ruin sits on ev'ry wave that rolls:
No longer in their wonted bounds confin'd,
The waves o'erwhelming fierce destruction spread..... So when mild peace dwells in the human mind
A sweet complacence through the frame is shed,
But when the storms of fierce contention rise,
Destruction comes, and peace he
YOUR village maid forever true,
Your village maid believe.
Within these wild romantic dells,
Your village maid so true.
The Stock-dove from the slumbering grove,
Shall sweetly swell the note of love,
EXTRACTED FROM COWPER'S LIFE. ALL who delight to accompany the genius of CowPER in animated flights of moral contemplation, will deeply regret that he was precluded by a variety of trouble, from indulging his ardent imagination in a work that would have afforded him such ample scope for all the sweetness, and all the sublimity of his spirit. His felicity of description, and his exquisite sensibility; his experience of life, and his sanctity of character, rendered him singularly fit and worthy to delineate the progress of nature, in all the different stages of human existence.
A poem of such extent and diversity, happily completed by such a poet, would be a national treasure, of infinite value to the country that gave it birth; and I had fervently hoped, that England might receive it from the hand of CowPER.
With a regret, proportioned to those hopes, I now impart to my readers the minute and imperfect fragment of a project so mighty. Yet even the few verses which COWPER had thrown on paper as a commencement of such a work, will be read with peculiar interest, if there is truth, as I feel there is, in the following remark of the elder Pliny:....
Suprema opera artificum, imperfectasque Tabulas, in majori admiratione esse quam perfecta; Quippe in iis lineamenta reliqua ipsæque cogitationes artificum spectantur, atque in lenocinio commendationis dolor est :.... Manus, cum id agerent extinctæ, desiderantur."
THOSE who peruse the following Poem, may perhaps find themselves sufficiently interested in it, to wish for some account of the Author.
He was the son of the Rev. Mr. PENROSE, Rector of Newbury, Berks; a man of high character and abilities, descended from an ancient Cornish family, beloved and respected by all who knew him; Mr. PENROSE, jun. being intended for the Church, pursued his studies with success, at Christ church, Oxford, until the summer of 1762, when his eager turn to the Naval and Military line overpowering his attachment to his real interest, he left his College, and embarked in the unfortunate expedition against Nova Colonia, in South America,
under the command of Captain Macnamara. The issue was fatal.... The Clive, (the largest vessel) was burnt....and though the Ambuscade escaped, (on board of which Mr. PENROSE, acting as Lieutenant of Marines, was wounded) yet the hardships which he afterwards sustained in a prize sloop, in which he was stationed, utterly ruined his constitution. Returning to England, with ample testimonials of his gallantry and good behaviour, he finished, at Hertford College, Oxon, his course of studies; and, having taken Orders, accepted the curacy of Newbury, the income of which, by the voluntary suhscription of the inhabitants, was considerably augmented. After he had continued in that station about nine years, it seemed as if the clouds of disappointment, which had hitherto overshadowed his prospects, and tinctured his Poetical Essays with gloom, were clearing away; for he was then presented by a friend, who knew his worth, and honoured his abilities, to a living worth near 5001. per annum. It came, how
ever, two late; for the state of Mr. PENROSE'S health was now such as left little hope, except in the assistance of the waters of Bristol. Thither he went, and there he died in 1779, aged 36 years. In 1768, he married Miss Mary Slocock, of Newbury,by whom he had one child, Thomas, now on the foundation of Winton College.
Mr PENROSE was respected for his extensive erudition, admired for his eloquence, and equally beloved and esteemed for his social qualities.....By the poor, towards whom he was liberal to his utmost ability, he was venerated to the highest degree. In oratory and composition his talents were great. His pencil was ready as his pen, and on subjects of humour had uncommon merit. To his poetical abilities, the Public, by the reception of his Flights of Fancy, &c. have given a favourable testimony. To sum up the whole, his figure and address were pleasing, as his mind was ornamented.
Such was Mr. PENROSE; to whose memory I pay this just and willing