« AnteriorContinuar »
fend Johnson, when I blamed his severity and unwillingness to allow, and incapacity to appreciate, poetical merit,-would refer me to his life of Savage, and plainly showed much partiality for Johnson. Of Dryden, he was a warm and almost enthusiastic admirer. He conversed a great deal about that great English poet; and indeed I never perceived, at any time, a stronger relish for, or admiration of, the poets, than at this afflicting period. I generally read to him till three or four in the morning, and then retired for a few hours: he showed always great uneasiness at my sitting up, but evidently was soothed and gratified by my being with him. At first he apologized for my preparing the nourishment, which required to be warmed in the night; but seeing how sincerely I was devoted to him, he ceased to make any remark. Once he asked me, at midnight, when preparing chicken panade for him, “ Does this amuse you? I hope it does." He was so far from exacting attendance, that he received every little good office, every proper and necessary attention, as a favor and kindness done him. So unvitiated by commerce with mankind, so tender, so alive to all the charms of friendship, was this excellent man's heart! His anxiety also, lest Mrs. Fox's health should suffer, was uniformly great till the day he expired.
Lord Holland and General Fitzpatrick, as he grew worse, came and resided at Chiswick House entirely. Miss Fox also remained there. Thus he had around him, every day, all he loved most; and the overwhelming pressure of his disorder was as much as possible relieved by the converse and sight of cherished relatives and friends. Lord Holland showed how much he valued such an uncle. He never left him ;—the hopes of power or common allurements of ambition, had no effect upon him. His affectionate attention to Mr. Fox, and his kindness to all who assisted that great man,
were endearing in a high degree. Miss Fox-calm and resigned, grieving, without uttering a word-would sit at the foot of his bed, and often reminded me of the fine heads of females, done by masterly hands, to express sorrow, dignity, and faith in God.
There was now a plaintiveness in his manner very interesting, but no way derogating from his fortitude and calm
He did not affect the stoic. He bore his pains as a Christian and a man. Till the last day, however, I do not think he conceived himself in danger. A few days before the termination of his mortal career, he said to me at night, “ Holland thinks me worse than I am ;" and, in fact, the appearances were singularly delusive not a week before he expired. In the day, he arose and walked a little, and his looks were not ghastly or alarming by any means. Often did he latterly walk to his window to gaze on the berries of the mountain ash, which hung clustering on a young tree at Chiswick House; every morning he returned to look at it he would praise it, as the morning breeze, rustling, shook the berries and leaves; but then the golden sun, which played upon them, and the fresh air that comes with the dawn, were to me almost heart-sickening, though once so delightful : he whom I so much cherished and esteemed,—whose kindness had been ever unremitting and unostentatious,—he whose society was to me happiness and peace,—was not long to enjoy this sun and this morning air. His last look on that mountain-ash was his farewell to nature.
I continued to read aloud to him every night, and as he occasionally dropt asleep, I was then left to the awful meditations incident to such a situation. No person was awake beside myself; the lofty rooms and hall of Chiswick House were silent, and the world reposed. In one of those melancholy pauses, I walked about for a few moments, and found
myself involuntarily and accidentally in the late Duchess of Devonshire's dressing-room. Everything was as that amiable and accomplished lady had left it: the music-book still open, the books not restored to their places, a chair as if she had but just left it, and every mark of a recent inhabitant in this elegant apartment. The Duchess had died in May, and Mr. Fox had very severely felt her loss. Half-opened notes lay scattered about. The night was solemn and still; and at that moment, had some floating sound of music vibrated through the air, I cannot tell to what my feelings would have been wrought. Never had I experienced so strong a sensation of the transitory nature of life, of the vanity of a fleeting world! I stood scarce breathing-heard nothing --listened. Scarcely knowing how I left the dressing-room, I returned. All was still. Mr. Fox slept quietly. I was deluded into a tranquil joy to find him still alive, and breathing without difficulty. His countenance was always serene in sleep: no troubled dreams ever agitated or distorted it,-it was the transcript of his guileless mind.
Mr. Fox expired between five and six in the afternoon of the 13th of September, 1806. The Tower guns were firing for the capture of Buenos Ayres, as he was breathing his last.
Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard.
We desire to say as little as possible about this affecting and noble poem. It is so sweet, so true, and so universally appreciated, that we feel inclined to be as silent before it, as if listening to the wind over the graves. It is the fit conclusion for our book, both in the subject and spirit-serious, calm, and hopeful.
The epitaph is on the author; and never did a man speak of himself with a truth more beautifully combining dignity with bumility, a sense of all that he felt worthy and all that he felt weak. We suspect, that the “cross'd in love” of the previous lines might very well apply to Gray. He had secret griefs of some kind, perhaps of disease, perhaps of sympathy with a good mother, and distress at having a bad father (for such, alas ! was the case); but whatever they were, we may be sure that they were those of a good and kind man.
The poem before us is as sweet as if written by Coleridge, and as pious and universal as if religion had uttered it, undisturbed by polemics. It is a quintessence of humanity.
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning ilight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds ;
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care'; No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield;
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team afield !
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke !
Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure; Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor. The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,