網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

abilities contained in this extract is indeed fully borne out by the accounts which some of his schoolfellows have given of him to the writer. They spoke of him with the strongest affection, and represented him as the pride of Winchester school. Some of the poems and Latin verses by which he distinguished himself there, shall appear at the close of this volume.

In the year 1809, he entered the University of Dublin, under the tuition of the late Rev. Dr. Davenport, who immediately conceived the highest interest for him, and continued to shew it by special proofs of his favour. In a few months after his entrance, the writer had the happiness of becoming acquainted with him. This casual acquaintance soon became a cordial intimacy, which quickly ripened into a friendship that continued not only uninterrupted, but was cemented more and more by constant intercourse, and by community of pursuits: it was, above all, improved and sweetened by an unreserved interchange of thoughts on those subjects which affect our eternal interests, and open to us the prospects of friendships which death can only suspend, but not destroy.

Our author immediately distinguished himself by his high classical attainments, for which he was early rewarded by many academical honours. The first English poem which attracted general notice was written very early in his college course, upon a subject proposed by the heads of the university. It evinces a boldness of thought, a vigour of expression, and somewhat of a dramatic spirit, which seems to entitle it to a place in this little collection; and it shall therefore be presented first in order to the reader. The prison-scene of Jugurtha (which is the subject of the poem) gave the author full scope for a masterly exhibition of the darkest and deadliest passions of human nature in fierce conflict. Disappointed ambition, revenge, despair, remorse, were to be represented as raging by turns in the captive's mind, or dashing, as it were, against each other, and struggling for utterance. The subject was proposed in the following form

"JUGURTHA INCARCERATUS, VITAM INGEMIT RELICTAM."

Well-is the rack prepared-the pincers heated? Where is the scourge? How !-not employ'd in Rome?

We have them in Numidia.

Not in Rome?

I'm sorry for it; I could enjoy it now;

I might have felt them yesterday; but now,-
Now I have seen my funeral procession:

The chariot-wheels of Marius have roll'd o'er me:
His horses' hoofs have trampled me in triumph,-
I have attain'd that terrible consummation
My soul could stand aloof, and from on high
Look down upon the ruins of my body,
Smiling in apathy: I feel no longer;

I challenge Rome to give another pang.-
Gods! how he smiled, when he beheld me pause
Before his car, and scowl upon the mob;
The curse of Rome was burning on my lips,

And I had gnaw'd my chain, and hurl'd it at them,
But that I knew he would have smiled again.
A king! and led before the gaudy Marius,
Before those shouting masters of the world,
As if I had been conquer'd; while each street,
Each peopled wall, and each insulting window,
Peal'd forth their brawling triumphs o'er my head.
Oh! for a lion from thy woods, Numidia!—
Or had I, in that moment of disgrace,
Enjoy'd the freedom but of yonder slave,
I would have made my monument in Rome.
Yet am I not that fool, that Roman fool,
To think disgrace entombs the hero's soul,-
For ever damps his fires, and dims his glories;
That no bright laurel can adorn the brow

1

That once has bow'd; no victory's trumpet-sound
Can drown in joy the rattling of his chains:
No;-could one glimpse of victory and vengeance
Dart preciously across me, I could kiss

Thy footstep's dust again; then all in flame,
With Massinissa's energies unquench'd,
Start from beneath thy chariot-wheels, and grasp
The gory laurel reeking in my view,

And force a passage through disgrace to glory –
Victory! Vengeance! Glory !-Oh these chains!
My soul's in fetters, too; for, from this moment,
Through all eternity I see but-death;

To me there's nothing future now, but death:
Then come and let me gloom upon the past.-
So then-Numidia's lost; those daring projects--
(Projects that ne'er were breathed to mortal man,
That would have startled Marius on his car),
O'erthrown, defeated! What avails it now,
That my proud views despised the narrow limits,
Which minds that span and measure out ambition
Had fix'd to mine; and, while I seem'd intent
On savage subjects and Numidian forests,
My soul had pass'd the bounds of Africa !—
Defeated, overthrown! yet to the last

Ambition taught me hope, and still my mind,

Through danger, flight, and carnage, grasp'd dominion; And had not Bocchus-curses, curses on him!—

What Rome has done, she did it for ambition;

What Rome has done, I might I would have done;

What thou hast done, thou wretch !—Oh had she proved Nobly deceitful; had she seized the traitor,

And join'd him with the fate of the betray'd,

I had forgiven her all; for he had been
The consolation of my prison hours;

I could forget my woes in stinging him ;
And if, before this day, his little soul
Had not in bondage wept itself away,

Rome and Jugurtha should have triumph'd o'er him.
Look here, thou caitiff, if thou canst, and see
The fragments of Jugurtha; view him wrapt
In the last shred he borrow'd from Numidia;
"Tis cover'd with the dust of Rome; behold
His rooted gaze upon the chains he wears,
And on the channels they have wrought upon him;
Then look around upon his dungeon walls,
And view yon scanty mat, on which his frame
He flings, and rushes from his thoughts to sleep.
Sleep!

I'll sleep no more, until I sleep for ever:
When I slept last, I heard Adherbal scream.
I'll sleep no more! I'll think until I die:
My eyes shall pore upon my miseries,

Until my miseries shall be no more.

Yet wherefore did he scream? Why, I have heard
His living scream,—it was not half so frightful.

Whence comes the difference? When the man was

living,

Why, I did gaze upon his couch of torments

« 上一頁繼續 »