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The Grave is said to have been first printed at Edinburgh in 1747, but this is a mistake. It was printed in 1743, at London, for M. Cooper. The author had previously submitted it to Dr. Watts, who informed him that two booksellers had declined the risk of publication. 'He had likewise corresponded with Dr. Doddridge on the subject, and in a letter to that divine, says, that “ in order to make it more generally liked, he was obliged sometimes to go cross to his own inclination, well knowing that whatever poem is written upon a serious argument, must, upon that very account, lie under peculiar disadvantages : and therefore proper arts must be used to make such a piece go down with a licentious age which cares for none of those things!." In what respect he crossed his inclination, and by what arts he endeavoured to make his poem more acceptable to a licentious age, we know not. In defence of the present age, it may be said with justice that the poem owes its popularity to its subject; and that, notwithstanding its defects, it will probably be a lasting favourite with persons
of a serious turn.
i Letters to and from Dr. Doddridge. 8vo. 1790.
THE GRA V E.
WHILE some affect the sun, and some the shade, Long lash'd by the rude winds. Some rift half down
Some fiee the city, some the hermitage; Their branchless trunks; others so thin at top, Their aims as various, as the roads they take That scarce two crows can lodge in the same tree. In journeying thro' life;—the task be mine, Strange things, the neighbours say, have happen'd To paint the gloomy horrours of the tomb; TH' appointed place of rendezvous, where all Wild shrieks have issued from the hollow tombs; These travellers meet.-Thy succours I implore, Dead men have come again, and walk'd about; Eternal king! whose potent arm sustains [thiug! And the great bell has toll?d, unrung, untouch'd. The keys of Hell and Death.– The Grave, dread (Such tales their cheer at wake or gossipping, Men sbiver when thou 'rt named: Nature appall'd When it draws near to witching time of night.) Shakes off her wonted firmness.- -Ah! how dark Oft in the lone church yard at night I've seen, Thy long-extended realms, and rueful wastes! By glimpse of moonshine chequering thro' the trees, Where nought but silence reigns, and night, dark The school boy, with bis satchel in his hand, Dark as was chaos, ere the infant Sun [night, Whistling aloud to bear his courage up, Was rollid together, or had try'd his beams And lightly tripping o'er the long flat stones, Athwart the gloom profound. The sickly taper, (With nettles skirted, and with moss o'ergrown,) By glimm'ring thro' thy low-brow'd misty vaults, That tell in homely phrase who lie below. (Furr'd round with mouldy damps, and ropy slime,) Sudden he starts, and hears, or thinks he hears, Lets fall a supernumerary horrour,
The sound of something purring at his heels; And only serves to make thy night more irksome. Full fast he flies, and dares not look behind him, Well do I know thee by thy trusty yew,
'Till, out of breath, he orertakes his fellows, Cheerless, unsocial plant! that loves to dwell Who gather round and wonder at the tale Midst sculls and coffins, epitaphs and worms: Of horrid apparition tall and ghastly, Where light-hee'd ghosts, and visionary shades, That walks at dead of night, or takes his stand Beneath the wan, cold Moon (as Fame reports) O’er some new-open'd grave; and (strange to tell!) Embody'd, thick, perform their mystic rounds, Evanishes at crowing of the cock. No other merriment, dull tree! is thine.
The new-made widow, too, I've sometimes 'spy'd, See yonder hallow'd fane;—the pious work Sad sight! slow moving o'er the prostrate dead: Of names once fam'd, now dubious or forgot, Listless, she crawls along in doleful black, And bury'd midst the wreck of things which were; While bursts of sorrow gush from either eye, There lie interr'd the more illustrious dead. Fast falling down her now untasted cheek. The wind is up:- hark! how it howls!—Methinks, Prone on the lowly grave of the dear man 'Till now, I never heard a sound so dreary: She drops; whilst busy meddling memory, Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's foul In barbarous succession, musters up bird,
The past endearments of their softer hours, Rook'din thespire, screamsloud; the gloomy aisles Tenacious of its theme. Still, still she thinks Black plaster'd, and hung round with shreds of She sees him, and indulging the fond thought, iscutcheons,
Clings yet more closely to the senseless turf, And tatter'd coats of arms, send back the sound, Nor heeds the passenger who looks that way. Jaden with heavier airs, from the low vaults, Invidious Grave!-how dost thou rend in sunder The mansions of the dead.-Rous'd from their Whom love has knit, and sympathy made one? la grim array the grisly spectres rise, [slumbers, |. A tie more stubborn far than Nature's band. Grin horrible, and, obstinately sullen,
Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul, Pass and repass, hush'd as the foot of night. Sweetner of life, and solder of society, Asain the screech-owl shrieks—ungracious sound! I owe thee much. Thou hast deserved from me, I'll hear no more; it make one's blood run chill. Far, far beyond what I can ever pay.
Quite round the pile, a row of reverend elms, Oft have I prov'd the labours of thy love, (Coeval near with that) ali ragged show,
And the warm efforts of the gentle heart, ya
Anxious to please.-Oh! when my friend and I And glittering in the sun; triumphant entries
In glory scarce excred. Great gluts of people Upon the sloping cowslip-cover'd bank,
Retard th' unwieldy show: whilst froin the caseWhere the pure limpid stream has slid along
merits, In grateful errours thro' the underwood, [thrush. And houses' tops, ranks behind ranks, close wedzd, Sweet murmuring; m thought the shrill-tongu'd | Hang bellying o’er. But tell us why this waste, Mended his song of love; the sooty blackbird Why this ado in earthing up a carcase Mellow'd his pipe, and soften'd every note: That's full’n into disgrace, and in the nostril The eglantine smell’d sweeter, and the rose Smells borrible? - Ye undertakers, tell us, Assum'd a dye more deep; whilst ev'ry flower 'Mdst all the gorgeous figures you exhibit, Vy'd with its fellow-plant in luxury
Why is the principal conceald, for which Of dress-Oh! then the longest summer's day You make this mighty stir? Tis wisely done: Seem'd too too much in haste; still the full heart What would offend the eye in a good picture, Had not imparted talf: 'twas happiness
The painter casts discreetly into shades. Too exquisite to last. Of joys departed,
Proud Lineage, now how little thou appear'st Not to return, low painful the remembrance! Below the envy of the private map! Dull Grave!- thou spoil'st the dance of youth- | Honour, that meddlesome, osicious ill, fat blood,
Pursues thee e'en to death; nor there stops short; Strik'st out the dimple from the check of mirth, Strange persecution ! when the grave itself And ev'ry smirking feature from the face;
Is no protection froin rude sufferance. Branding our laughter with the name of madness. Absurd to think to orer-reach the Grave, Where are the jester; now? the men of health, And from the wreck of names to rescue ours. Complectionally pleasant? Where's the droll, The best concerted schemes men lay for fame Whose ev'ry bok and gesture was a joke
Die fast away; only themselves die faster. To clapping theatres and shouting crowds, The far-fam'd sculptor, and the laurell’d bard, And made ev’n thick-lippd musing Melancholy Those bold insurancers of deathless fame, To gather up her face into a smile
Supply their little feeble aids in vain. Before she was aware? Ab! sullen now,
The tapering pyramid, th’ Ægyptian's pride, And dumb as the green turf that covers them. And wonder of the world, whose spiky top
Where are the mighty thunrlerbolts of war? Has wounded the thick cloud, and long outliv'd The Roman Cæars, and the Grecian chiefs, The angry shaking of the winter's storm: The boast of story? Where the hot brain'd youth, Yet spent at last by th' injuries of Heaven, Who the tiara at his pleasure tore
Shatter'd with age, and furrou'd o'er with years, Fruin kings of all the then discover'd globe, The mystic cone with hieroglyphics crusted, And cry'd, forsooth, because his arın was bam
At once gives way. Ob! lainentable sight! Ani had not room enough to do its work? [perd, The labour of whole ages tumbles down, Alas! how slim, dishovourably slim,
A bideous and mishapen length of ruins. And cram'd into a space we blush to name! Sepulchral columns westle but in vain Proud Rova'ty! how alter'd in thy looks!
With all-subduing Time; her cank’ring hand How blank tly features, and how wan thy hus! With calm, delib'rate malice wasteth them: Son of the Morning whither art thou gone? Worn on the edge of days, the brass consumes, Wher: hast thon hid thy many-spangled head, The busto moulders, and the deep-cut marble, And the majestic menace of thine eyes
Uosteady to the steel, gives up its charge. Feit from afar? Pliant and powerless now, Ambition, half convicted of her folly, Like new-born infant wound up in his swathes, Hangs down her head, and reddens at the tale, Or victim timbled flat upon its back,
Here all the mighty troublers of the Earth, That throbs beneath the sacrificer's knife.
Who swam tu sov 'reign rule thro’ seas of blood; Mute, must thou bear the strife of little tongues, Th'oppressive sturdy, man-destroying villains, And coward insults of the base-born crowd, Who ravag'd kingdoms, aud laid empires waste, That grudge a privilege thou never hadst,
And, in a cruel wantonness of power, But only hop'd for in the peaceful grave,
Tbinn'd states of half their people, and gave up Of being unmolested and alone.
To want the rest; now, like a storm that's spent, Arabia's gums and odoriferous drugs,
Lic hush'd, and meanly sneak behind the corert. And honous by the heralds duly paid,
Vain thought! to hide them from the general In mode and form e'en to every scruple; Oh! cruel irony! these come too late,
That haunts and dogs them like an injured ghost And only mock whom they were meant to honour. Implacable.-Here, too, the petty tyrant, Surely there's not a dungeon slave that's bury'd Whose scant domains geographer ne'er notic'd, In the highway, unshrouded and uncoffin'd, And well for neighbouring grounds, of arm as But lies as soft, and sleeps as sound as he,
Who fix'd his iron talons on the poor, [short, Sorry pre-eminence of high descent,
And grip'd them like some lordly beast of prey; Above the vul.ar born to rot in state.
Deaf to the forceful cries of goawing Hunger, But see! the well-p'um'd hearse comes nodding | And piteous plaintive voice of Misery; Stately and slor, and properly attended [on (As if a slave was not a shred of Nature, By the whole sable tribe, that painful watch Of the same common nature with his lord;) The sick man's door, and live upon the dead, Now tame and humble, like a child that's whipp'd, By letting out their persons by the hour,
Shakes bands with dust, and calls the woriu iris To miinię sorrow when the heart's not sad.
kipsinan; How rich the trappings! now they're all unfurld, Nor plads lijs rauk and birthright. Under ground,
Precedency's a jest; vassal and lord,
Soon, very soon, thy firmest footing fails; Grossly familiar, side by side consume.
And down thou drop'st into that darksome place, When self-esteem, or other's adulation,
Where nor device nor knowledge ever came. Would cunningly persuade us we are something Here the tongue-warrior lies disabled now, Above the common level of our kind; [Hattery, | Disarm'd, dishonour'd, like a wretch that's gagg'd, The Grave gainsays the smooth-complection’d And cannot tell his ails to passers by. [change; And with blunt truth acquaints us what we are. Great man of language!-Whence this mighty
Beauty-thou pretty plaything, dear deceit! This dumb despair, and drooping of the head?
And sly insinuation's softer arts
Alas! how chop-fall’n now? Thick mists and si-
The strength of action, and the force of words, Methinks I see thee with thy head low laid, The well-turn'd period, and the well-tund voice, Whilst surfeited upon thy damask cheek
With all the lesser ornaments of phrase ? The high-fed worm, in lazy volumes rollid, Ah! fed for ever, as they ne'er had been; Riots unscard. - For this, was all thy caution? Raz'd from the book of Fame; or, more provoking, For this, thy painful labours at thy glass,
Perchance some hackney, hunger-bitten scribbler, To improve those charms and keep them in repair, Insults thy memory, and blots thy tomb For which the spoiler thanks thee not? Poul feeder! With long flat narrative, or duller rhymes, Coar e fare and carrion please thee full as well, With heavy halting pace that drawl along; And leave as keen a relish on the sense.
Enough to rouse a dead man into rage, Look how the fair one weeps!—the conscious tears And warm with red resentment the wan cheek. Stand thick as dew-drops on the bells of Powers : Here the great masters of the healing-art, Honest effusion! the swoln heart in vain
These mighty mock defrauders of the tomb, Works hard, to put a gloss on its distress. Spite of their juleps and catholicons,
Strength, too-thou surly and less gentle boast Resign to fate.Proud Æsculapius' son! Of those that loud laugh at the village ring, Where are thy boasted implements of art, A fit of common sickness pulls thee down
And all thy well-cram'd magazines of health? With greater ease than e'er thou didst the stripling Nor hill, nor vale, as far as ship could go, That rashly dar'd thee to th’unequal fight.- Nor margin of the gravel-bottom'd brook, What gruan was that I heard ? -Deep groan in- Escap'd thy rifling hand:—from stubborn shrubs deed!
Thou wrung'st their shy-retiring virtues out, With anguish heavy laden. Let me trace it. - And vex'd them in the fire; nor fly, nor insect, From yonder bed it comes, where the strong man, Nor writhy snake, escap'd thy deep research. By stronger arm belabourd, gasps for breath But why this apparatus ? Why this cost? Like a hard-hunted beast. How his great heart Tell us, thou doughty keeper from the grave, Beats thick! bis roomy chest by far too scant Where are thy recipes and cordials now, To give the lungs full play.—What now avail With the long list of vouchers for thy cures? The strong-built sinewy limbs, and well-spread Alas! thou speak'st not.-The bold impostor shoulders!
Looks not more silly when the cheat's found out. See how he tugs for life, and lays about him,
Here the lank-sided miser, worst of felons, Mad with bis pains !- Eager he catches hold Who meanly stole, (discreditable shift) Of what comes next to hand, and grasps it hard, From back and belly too, their proper cheer, Just like a creature drowning! hideous sight! Eas'd of a task it irk'd the wretch to pay On! how his eyes stand out, and stare full ghast- To his own carcase, now lies cheaply lodged, ly!
By clam'rous appetites no longer teas'd, Whilst the distemper's rank and deadly venom Nor tedious bills of charges and repairs. Shoots like a burning arrow cross his bowels, But ab! where are his rents, his comings-in? And drinks his marrow up.—Heard you that Ay! now you've made the rich man poor indeed! groan?
Robb'd of his gods, what bas he left behind? It was his last-See how the great Goliath, Oh, cursed lust of gold! when for thy sake, Just like a child that brawl'd itself to rest,
The fool throws up his intrest in both worlds: Lies still.-What mean'st thou then, O mighty First starv'd in this, thn dann'd in that to come. buaster,
[bull, How shocking must thy summons be, O Death, To raunt of nerves of thine? What means the To him that is at ease in his possessions; l'nconscious of his strength, to play the coward, Who counting on long years of pleasure here, And flee before a feeble thing like inan,
Is quite unfurnish'd for that world to come! That, knowing well the slackness of his arm, In that dread moment, how the frantic soul Truits inly in the well-invented knife?
Raves round the walls of her clay tenement; With study pale, and midnight vigils spent, Runs to each avenue, and shrieks for help, The star-surveying sage close to his eye
But shrieks in vain!-How wishfully she looks Applies the sight-invigorating tube, [space, On all she's leaving, now no longer her's ! Ad trar'lling through the boundless length of A little longer, yet a little longer, Marks vell the courses of the far-seen orbs Oh! might she stay to wash away her stains, That roll with regular confusion there,
And fit her for her passage.-Mouruful sight! Io estacy of thought. But ah! proud man! Her very eyes weep blood; and every groan Great heights are hazardous to the weak head; She beaves is big with horrour.- But the foe,
Like a staunch murd'rer, steady to his purpose, To those you left behind, disclose the secret?
Forewarn’d men of their death:-T was kindly Sure'tis a serious thing to die! my soul!
done, What a strange moment must it be, when near To knock, and give th’alarm.-But what means Thy journey's end, thou hast the gulf in view! This stinted charity? -T is but lame kindness That awful gulf, po mortal e'er repass'd
That does its work by halves.-Why might you not To tell what's doing on the other side.
Tell us what 't is to die?-Do the strict laws Nature runs back, and shudders at the sight, of your society forbid your speaking And every life-string bleeds at thought of parting; Upon a point so nice: -I'll ask no more : For part they must; body and soul must part: Sullen, like lamps in sepulchres, your shine Pond couple? link'd more close than wedded pair. Enlightens but yourselves. Well-'tis no matter; This wings its way to its Almighty Source, A very little time will clear up all, The witness of its actions, now its judge; And make us learn'd as you are and as close. That drops into the dark and noisome Grave, Death's shafts fly thick: here falls the village Like a disabled pitcher of no use.
swain, If death was nothing, and nought after death; And there his pamper'd lord. The cup goes round: If when men died, at once they ceas'd to be, And who so artful as to put it by! Returning to the barren womb of nothing, 'Tis long since Death had the majority; Whence first they sprung, then might the de- Yet strange! the living lay it not to heart. bauchee
(drunkard See yonder maker of the dead man's bed, Untrembling mouth the Heavens: then might the The sexton, hoary-headed chronicle, Reel over his full bowl, and, when 't is drain'd, Of hard, unmeaning face, down which ne'er stole Fill up another to the brim, and laugh
A gentle tear, with mattock in bis hand, At the poor bugbear Death: then might the wretch Digs thro' whole rows of kindred and acquaintance, That's weary of the world, and tir'd of life, By far his juniors.-Scarce a skull's cast up, At once give each inquietude the slip,
But well he knew its owner, and can tell By stealing out of being when he pleas'd, Some passage of his life. Thus hand in hand And by what way, whether by hemp or steel. The sot has walk'd with Death twice twenty years, Death's thousand doors stand open. Who could | And yet ne'er yonker on the green laughs louder The ill-pleas'd guest to sit out his full time, [force Or clubs a smuttier tale: when drunkards meet, Or blame him if he goes ?-Sure he does well, None sings a merrier catch, or lends a hand That helps himself as timely as he can,
More willing to his cup.—Poor wretch! he minds When able. But if there is an hereafter,
That soon some trusty brother of the trade [not, And that there is, conscience, uninfluenc'd, Shall do for him, what he has done for thousands. And suffer'd to speak out, tells ev'ry man,
On this side, and on that, men see their friends Then must it be an awful thing to die:
Drop off, like leaves in autumn; yet launch out More horrid yet to die by one's own hand. Into fantastic schemes, which the long livers
Self-murder!--name it not: our island's shame; In the world's hale and undegenerate days That makes her the reproach of neighbouring Could scarce have leisure for.- Pools that we are, states.
Never to think of death and of ourselves Shall Nature, swerving from her earliest dictate, At the same time: as if to learn to die Self-preservation, fall by her own act?
Were no concern of ours.-Oh! more than sottish, Forbid it, Heaven.-Let not, upon disgust, For creatures of a day in gamesome mood, The shameless hand be fully crimson'd o'er To frolic on Eternity's dread brink With blood of its own lord.Dreadful attempt! Unapprehensive ; when, for aught we know, Just reeking from self-slaughter, in a rage The very first swoln surge shall sweep us in. To rush into the presence of our judge;
Think we, or think we not, Time hurries on As if we challeng'd him to do bis worst,
With a resistless, unremitting stream; And matter'd not his wrath: unbeard-of tortures Yet treads more soft than e'er did midnight thief, Must be reserv'd for such: these herd together; That slides his hand under the miser's pillow, The common damn'd shun their society,
And carries off his prize.-What is this world? And look upon themselves as fiends less foul. What, but a spacious burial-field unwall'd, Our time is fix'd, and all our days are number'd; Strew'd with Death's spoils, the spoils of animals How long, how short, we know not:this we know, Savage and tame, and full of dead men's bones. Duty requires we calmly wait the summons, The very turf on which we tread once liv'd; Nor dare to stir till Heav'n shall give permission: And we that live must lend our carcases Like sentries that must keep their destin'd stand, To cover our own offspring; in their turns, And wait th' appointed hour, till they're reliev'd; They, too, must cover theirs.--'Tis here all meet; Those only are the brave that keep their ground, The shiv'ring Icelander, and sun-burnt Moor; And keep it to the last. To run away
Men of all climes, that never inet before; Is but a coward's trick. To run away
And of all creeds, the Jew, the Turk, the Christian. From this world's ills, that, at the very worst, Here the proud prince, and favourite yet prouder, Will soon blow o'er, thinking to mend ourselves, His sov'reign's keeper, and the people's scourge, By boldly venturing on a world unknown,
Are huddled out of sight..Here lie abash'd
And celebrated masters of the balance,