網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Ille notes! untimely green!

Why this unavailing haste ?
Western gales and skies serene

Prove not always winter past,
Cease, my doubts, my fears to move-
Spare the nonor oi my love.

The stings of Falsehood those shall try,
And hard Unkindness' alter'd eye,

That mocks the tear it forced to flow;
And keen Remorse with blood defiled,
And moody Madness laughing wild

Amid severest woe.
Lo! in the vale of years beneath!

A griesly troop are seen,
The painful family of Death,

More hideous than their queen:
This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That every laboring sinew strains,

Those in the deeper vitals rage:
Lo! Poverty, to fill the band,
That numbs the soul with icy hand,

And slow-consuming Age.
To each his sufferings: all are men,

Condemn'd alike to groan;
The tender for another's pain,

Th' unfeeling for his own.
Yet, ah! why should they know their fate,
Since sorrow never comes too late,

And happiness too swiftly flies?
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more;-where ignorance is bliss,

'Tis folly to be wise.

The chief prose compositions of Gray are his letters, which are among the
test in the language, full of just remarks, beautiful criticisms, and descriptions
d natural scenery, which a painter might study, and which a poet alope
could have conceived;" and occasionally exhibit a genial humor which mark
the author of the Ode to a Favorite Cat." In 1798, before the letters of
Cowper were published, Dr. Beattie thus writes to a friend: "I am ac.
quainted with many parts of your excursion through the north of Englanch,
and very glad that you had my old friend Mr. Gray's Letters' with you,
which are indeed so well written, that I have no scruple to pronounce them
the best letters that have been printed in our language. Lady Montagu's are
Dit witlacut merit, but are 100 artificial and affected to be confided in as true
and Lord Chesterfield's have much greater faults; indeed, some of the greates:
het letters can have: but Gray's letters are always sensible, and of classical
conciseness and perspicuity. They very much resemble what his conversa,
fica was."

SONG,

Thyrsis, when we parted, swore

Ere the spring he would return-
Ah! what means yon violet flower,

And the bud that decks the thorn?
'Twas the lark that upward sprung!
'Twas the nightingale that sung!

1 A most happy ldca; and the whole stanza is exquisitely beautiful, and will not be disgraced by appearing in the same view with a passage in "Paradise Lost," where description is carried to 15 highest pitch of excellence :

"Immediately a place
Before his eyes appear'd, sd, noisome, dark;
A lazar-house it seem'd; wherein were laid
Numbers of all diseased; all maladies
or ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualms
or heart-sick agony, al feverous kinds,
Convulsions, epilepsles, fierce catarrhs,
Intestine stone and ulcer, collc pangs,
Demoniac phrensy, moping melancholy,
And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy,
Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence,
Dropsies, and asthmas, and Joint-racking rheuma.
Dire was the tossing, deep the groans: Despair
Tended the sick, busted from couch to couch;
And over them triumphant Denth his dart
Shook."

Book xi. ver. 177.

HOW HE SPENDS HIS TIME IN THE COUNTRY.
To HA. WALPOLE

I was hindered in my last, and so could not give you all the
trouble I would have done. The description of a road, which
your coach-wheels have so often honored, it would be needless to
pive you; suffice it, I arrived safe at my uncle's, who is a great
hunter in imagination; his dogs take up every chair in the house,
so I am forced to stand at this present writing, and though the
yout forbids his galloping after them in the field, yet he continues
still to regale his ears and nose with their comfortable noise and
stink. He holds me mightily cheap, I perceive, for walking when
1 should ride, and reading when I should hunt. My comfort
amidst all this is, that I have, at the distance of half a mile,
through a green lane, a forest, (the vulgar call it a common,) all
my own, at least as good as so, for I spy no human thing in it but
myself. It is a little chaos of mountains and precipices; mour-
tains, it is true, that do not ascend much above the clouds, nor
are the declivities quite so amazing as Dover Cliff, but just such:
bills as people who love their necks as well as I do, may venture
to climb; and crags that give the eye as much pleasure as if they
kwere more dangerous. Both vale and hill are covered with most
venerable beeches, and other very reverend vegetables, that, like
most other ancient people, are always dreaming out their old
bonies to the winds

And, as they bow their hoary tops, relate,
In murmuring sounds, the dark decrees of late :

[graphic]

Ille notes! untimely green!

Why this unavailing haste ?
Western gales and skies serene

Prove not always winter past.
Cease, my doubts, my fears to move

Spare the aonor of my jove. The chief prose compositions of Gray are his letters, which are among the best in the language, full of just remarks, beautiful criticisms, and descriptions of natural scenery, “which a painter might study, and which a poet alone could have conceived;" and occasionally exhibit a genial humor which mark the author of the “ Ode to a Favorite Cat.” In 1798, before the letters of Cowper were published, Dr. Beattie thus writes to a friend: “I am acquainted with many parts of your excursion through the north of England, and very glad that you had my old friend Mr. Gray's Letters' with you, which are indeed so well written, that I have no scruple to pronounce them the best letters that have been printed in our language. Lady Montagu's are not without merit, but are too artificial and affected to be confided in as true, and Lord Chesterfield's have much greater faults; indeed, some of the greates: that letters can have: but Gray's letters are always sensible, and of classical conciseness and perspicuity. They very much resemble what his conversation was."

HOW HE SPENDS HIS TIME IN THE COUNTRY. To MR. WALPOLE.

I was hindered in my last, and so could not give you all the trouble I would have done. The description of a road, which your coach-wheels have so osten honored, it would be needless to give you ; suffice it, I arrived safe at my uncle's, who is a great hunter in imagination; his dogs take up every chair in the house, so I am forced to stand at this present writing; and though the gout forbids his galloping after them in the field, yet he continues still to regale his ears and nose with their comfortable noise and stink. He holds me mightily cheap, I perceive, for walking when I should ride, and reading when I should hunt. My comfort amidst all this is, that I have, at the distance of half a mile, through a green lane, a forest, (the vulgar call it a common,) al) my own, at least as good as so, for I spy no human thing in it but myself. It is a little chaos of mountains and precipices; mour. tains, it is true, that do not ascend much above the clouds, nor are the declivities quite so amazing as Dover Clíff; but just such hills as people who love their necks as well as I do, may venture to climb; and crags that give the eye as much pleasure as if they were more dangerous. Both vale and hill are covered with most venerable beeches, and other very reverend vegetables, that, like most other ancient people, are always dreaming out their old stories to the winds,

And, as they bow their hoary tops, relate,
In murmuring sounds, the dark decrees of fate:

While visions, as poetic eyes avow,

Cling to each leaf, and swarm on every bough. At the foot of one of these squats me I,(1 penseroso,) and there grow to the trunk for a whole morning. The timorous hare and sportive squirrel gambol around me like Adam in Paradise, before he had an Eve; but I think he did not use to read Virgil, as I commonly do there. In this situation I often converse with iny Horace, aloud too, that is, talk to you, but I do not remember That I ever heard you answer me. I beg pardon for taking all the conversation to myself, but it is entirely your own fault. I shall be in town in about three weeks. Adieu.

September, 1737.

(good man !) and bidding his beads for the souls of his benefactors, Interred in that venerable pile that lies beneath him. Beyond it the meadow still descending) nods a thicket of oaks that mask the building, and have excluded a view too garish and luxuriant for a holy eye; only on either hand they leave an opening to the tine glittering sea. Did you not observe how, as that white sail ebot by and was lost, he turned and crossed himself to drive the tempter from him that had thrown that distraction in his way! I should tell you, that the ferryman who rowed me, a lusty young fellow, told me that he would not for all the world pass a night at the Abbey (there were such things seen near it) though there was a power of money hid there. From thence I went to Salis

NETLEY ABBEY AND SOUTHAMPTON.-BEAUTIFUL SUNSET. To Mr. Nicholls.

I received your letter at Southampton, and as I would wish to treat everybody according to their own rule and measure of good breeding, have, against my inclination, waited till now before I answered it, purely out of fear and respect, and an ingenious diffidence of my own abilities. If you will not take this as an excuse, accept it at least as a well-turned period, which is always my principal concern.

So I proceed to tell you that my health is much improved by the sea; not that I drank it, or bathed in it, as the common people do: no! I only walked by it, and looked upon it. The climate is remarkably mild, even in October and November; no snow has been seen to lie there for these thirty years past; the myrtles grow in the ground against the houses, and Guernsey lilies bloom in every window; the town, clean and well-built, surrounded by its old stone walls, with their towers and gateways, stands at the point of a peninsula, and opens full south to an arm of the sea, which, having formed two beautiful bays on each hand of it, stretches away in direct view till it joins the British Channel: it is skirted on either side with gently-rising grounds, clothed with thick wood, and directly cross its mouth rise the high lands of the Isle of Wight at distance, but distinctly seen. In the bosom of the woods (concealed from profane eyes) lie hid the ruins of Netley Abbey; there may be richer and greater houses of reli gion, but the Abbot is content with his situation. See there, at the top of that hanging meadow, under the shade of those old trees ihat bend into a half circle about it, he is walking slowly,

bars, Wilton, and Stonehenge ; but of these I say no more; they
will be published at the University press.

P.S.-I must not close my letter without giving you one principal erent of my history; which was, that in the course of my late tour) I set out one morning before five o'clock, the moon shining through a dark and misty autumnal air, and got to the sea-crast time enough to be at the sun's levee. I saw the clouds and dark vapors open gradually to right and left, rolling over one anseher in great smoky wreaths, and the tide, (as it flowed gently in upon the sand,) first whitening, then slightly tinged with golil and blue; and all at once a little line of insufferable brightness that (before I can write these five words) was grown to half an orb, and now to a whole one, too glorious to be distinctly seen. It is very add it makes no figure on paper; yet I shall remember 123 long as the sun, or at least as long as I endure. I wonder whether anybody ever saw it before! I hardly believe it.

TO MR. NICHOLLS, ON THE DEATH OF HIS MOTHER. It is long since that I heard you were gone in haste into Yorkshire on account of your mother's illness, and the same letter informed me that she was recovered, otherwise I had then wrote to you only to beg you would take care of her, and to inform you that I had discovered a thing very little known, which is, that in one's whole life one can never have any more than a single mother You may think this is obvious, and what you call) a trite observation. You are a green gosling! I was at the same age (very near as wise as you, and yet I never discovered this with full evidence and conviction I mean till it was too late. It is thirteen years ago, and seems but as yesterday, and every day I live it

[graphic]

I The same ludicrous expression is met with in Foote's play of The Knights,' p. 27, from the wonth or Sir Penurious Trifle :'And what does me I, but take a trip to a coffee-house in St. Martin's Lane' &e. See also Don Quixote' by Smollet, vol. iv. p. 30."- Mitford.

e and Bradwell, in Suffolk. His acquaintance with Mr. Gray commenced a few Vers before the date of this, when he was a student in Cambridre

18x a description of similar beauty by Jeremy Taylor, D. 223, under "Dawn and Progress of

(good man !) and bidding his beads for the souls of his benefactors, interred in that venerable pile that lies beneath him. Beyond it (the meadow still descending) nods a thicket of oaks that mask the building, and have excluded a view too garish and luxuriant for a holy eye; only on either hand they leave an opening to the blue glittering sea. Did you not observe how, as that white sail shot by and was lost, he turned and crossed himself to drive the tempter from him that had thrown that distraction in his way? I should tell you, that the ferryman who rowed me, a lusty young fellow, told me that he would not for all the world pass a night at the Abbey (there were such things seen near it) though there was a power of money hid there. From thence I went to Salisbury, Wilion, and Stonehenge ; but of these I say no more; they will be published at the University press.

P.S.-I must not close my letter without giving you one principal event of my history; which was, that (in the course of my late tour) I set out one morning before five o'clock, the moon shining through a dark and misty autumnal air, and got to the sea-coast time enough to be at the sun's levee. I saw the clouds and dark vapors open gradually to right and left, rolling over one another in great smoky wreaths, and the tide, (as it flowed gently in upon the sand,) first whitening, then slightly tinged with golil and blue; and all at once a little line of insufferable brightness that (before I can write these five words) was grown to half an orb, and now to a whole one, too glorious to be distinctly seen. It is very odd it makes no figure on paper ; yet I shall remember it as long as the sun, or at least as long as I endure. I wonder whether anybody ever saw it before ? I hardly believe it.

TO MR. NICHOLLS, ON THE DEATH OF HIS MOTHER. It is long since that I heard you were gone in haste into Yorkshire on account of your mother's illness, and the same letter informed me that she was recovered, otherwise I had then wrote to you only to beg you would take care of her, and to inform you that I had discovered a thing very little known, which is, that in one's whole life one can never have any more than a single mother You may think this is obvious, and (what you call) a trite observation. You are a green gosling! I was at the same age (very near) as wise as you, and yet I never discovered this (with full evidence and conviction I mean) till it was too late. It is thirteen years ago, and seems but as yesterday, and every day I live it

1 See a description of similar beauty by Jeremy Taylor, p. 223, under "Dawn and Progress of Reason."

007

sinks deeper into my heart. Many a corollary could I draw from this axiom for your use, (not for my own,) but I will leave you the merit of doing it for yourself.

thh" pervade all his fictitious writings.' As an historian, he writes in a clear and easy style; but neither his ternper of mind nor his pursuits qualified him lix an historical wnier. As a poet, though he takes not a very high rank, yet the few poems which he has left have a delicacy which is not :o be found in bi Lorels

TO MR. MASON, ON THE DEATH OF HIS WIFE.

I break in upon you at a moment when we least of all are per: mitted to disturb our friends, cnly to say, that you are daily and hourly present to my thoughts. If the worst be not yet past, you will neglect and pardon me: but if the last struggle be over; if the poor object of your long anxieties be no longer sensible to your kindness, or to her own sufferings, allow me (at least in idea, for what could I do were I present more than this?) to sit by you in silence, and pity from my heart not her, who is at rest, but you, who lose her. May He, who made us, the Master of our pleasures and of our pains, preserve and support you! Adieu ! I have long understood how little you had to hope. March 28, 1767.

THE TEARS OF SCOTLAND.' Mourn, hapless Caledonia, mourn Thy banish'd peace, thy laurels torn! Thy sons, for valor long renownd, Lie slaughter'd on their native ground; Thy hospitable roofs no more Invite the stranger to the door; In smoky ruins sunk they lie, The monuments of cruelty. The wretched owner sees afar His all become the prey of war; Bethinks him of his babes and wife, Then smites his breast, and curses life. Thy swains are famish'd on the rocks, Where once they fed their wanton flocks; Thy ravish'd virgins shriek in vain; Thy infants perish on the plain, What boots it, then, in every clime,

TOBIAS SMOLLET. 1721-1771.

Tobias SMOLLET was descended of a family of some note in Dumbartonslire, Scotland, and passed his earliest years along the banks of the Leven. He early showed a genius for poetry, but on finishing his academical education, he was put apprentice to a surgeon, and pursued his professional studies with diligence, till the death of bis grandfather, on whom he had depended, left him without the means of support, and he went to London. Not being able to get literary employment, he accepteil an appointment as surgeon sa male on board a man-of-war. But his literary taste prevailed over his proles sional, and quitting the service he returned to London in 1746, and soon became one of the most successful authors of the day. Novels, plays, and a * History of England" were produced in rapid succession, and added largely to his income. After a life of most checkered character, having suffered long from ill health, he set out for Italy in 1770, in hopes to receive benefit from that climate ; but after a short residence in the neighborhood of Leghorn in very distressed circumstances, he died October 21, 1771.

As a novelist, Smollet's reputation, once very high, is growing less every year with the best portion of the reading world, and must conunue to do so as a love of moral purity shall continue to increase: for « indecency and

Through the wide-spreading waste of time, Thy martial glory, crownd with praise, Sull shone with undiminish'd blaze? Thy towering spirit now is broke, Thy neck is bended to the yoke. What foreign arms could never quell, By civil rage and rancour fell. The rural pipe and merry lay No more shall cheer the happy day: No social scenes of gay delight Beguile the dreary winter night: No strains but those of sorrow flow, And naught be heard but sounds of woe, While the pale phantoms of the slain Glide nightly o'er the silent plain. Oh! baneful cause, oh! fatal morn, Accursed to ages yet unborn!

• He seldom mentioned his mother without a sigh. After his death her gowns and wearing sppan rol were found in a trunk in his apartments just as she had left them;

had left them; it seemed as if he could never wake the resolution to open it, in order to distribute them to his fernale relations, to whom by to will, he bequeathed them."- Mason.

2"As this little billet (which I received at the Hot Wells at Bristol) then breatherl, and still seerss to breathe, the very voice of friendship in its tenderest and most pathetic note, I cannot refrain from publishing it in this place. I opened it almost at the precise moment when it would necessarily 50 the most afecting.".-M.son.

18- let's *Englab Comic Writers," whose opinion I here quote, being happy to lever read but one of Smollet's novels, and such was a character that I never wish to res

. Tiene One Versea were written in 1746, on the barbarities committed in the Highlande hos

at Duke of Cumberland, after the battle of Culloden. The dreadful cruelties pretend Tamil and, wade his name execrated throughout Scotland, and have Axed an indelible stain ha pery, Ben-Chambers's "History of the Rebellion," a small work replete with interest

Then Sollet wrote this poem, be was, as mentioned in the above blographical sketch, a surron matt, botely returned from service abroad. It is sald that he originally Anished the me tan; abes, some one representing Ual such a diatribe against government might injure bi

anda, be sat down and added the still more pointed lupective of the seventi vanza.

« 上一頁繼續 »