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A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
And now they check'd their eager tread,
They told her how a glorious light, Streaming from a heavenly throng, Around them shone, suspending night! While, sweeter than a Mother's song, Blest Angels heralded the Savior's birth, Glory to God on high! and peace on Earth.
A botanical mistake. The plant which the poet here describes is called the Hart's Tongue.
ON THE DENIAL OF IMMORTALITY
IF dead, we cease to be; if total gloom
Swallow up life's brief flash for aye, we fare
She form'd with restless hands unconsciously!
If rootless thus, thus substanceless thy state, Go, weigh thy dreams, and be thy Hopes, thy Fears, The counter-weights!-Thy Laughter and thy Tears Mean but themselves, each fittest to create,
And to repay the other! Why rejoices
Thy heart with hollow joy for hollow good?
Image of image, Ghost of Ghostly Elf,
These costless shadows of thy shadowy self?
THE VISIT OF THE GODS.
IMITATED FROM SCHILLER.
NEVER, believe me,
Scarce had I welcomed the Sorrow-beguiler,
How shall I yield you
Me rather, bright guests! with your wings of up-
Bear aloft to your homes, to your banquets of joyance,
O give me the Nectar!
O fill me the Bowl!
That Styx the detested no more he may view,
Forbids me to die!
IMITATED FROM ONE OF AKENSIDE'S BLANK VERSE
NEAR the lone pile with ivy overspread,
Fast by the rivulet's sleep-persuading sound, Where" sleeps the moonlight" on yon verdant O humbly press. that consecrated ground!
But soon did righteous Heaven her guilt pursue!
Still Edmund's voice accused her in each gale.
With keen regret, and conscious guilt's alarms,
Go, Traveller! tell the tale with sorrow fraught
OR, A VISION IN A DREAM.
[The following fragment is here published at the request of a poet of great and deserved celebrity, and, as far as the Author's own opinions are concerned, rather as a psychological curiosity, than on the ground of any supposed poetic merits.
In the summer of the year 1797, the Author, then in ill health, had retired to a lonely farm-house between Porlock and Linton, on the Exmoor confines of Somerset and Devonshire. In consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne had been prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair at the moment that he was reading the following sentence, or words of the same substance, in Purchas's" Pilgrimage:""Here the Khan Kubla commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden thereunto; and thus ten miles of fertile ground were inclosed with a wall." The author continued for abou three hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses,
during which time he has the most vivid confidence that he could
not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines; if that indeed can be called composition in which all the images rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation, or consciousness of effort. On awaking he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found, to his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone had been cast, but, alas! without the after restoration of the latter.
Then all the charm
Is broken-all that phantom-world so fair
Yet from the still surviving recollections in his mind, the Autho bed-has frequently purposed to finish for himself what had been originally, as it were, given to him. Zapepov adecv aow. but the to-morrow is yet to come.
For there does Edmund rest, the learned swain!
Like some tall tree that spreads its branches wide,
As a contrast to this vision, I have annexed a fragment of a very different character, describing with equal fidelity the dream of pain and disease.-Note to the first Edition, 1916.)
IN Xanadu did Kubla Khan
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
But oh that deep romantic chasm which slanted
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she play'd,,
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 't would win me,
That with music loud and long,
would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
Since in me, round me, everywhere, Eternal Strength and Wisdom are.
But yester-night I pray'd aloud
Of shapes and thoughts that tortured me :
And whom I scorn'd, those only strong!
So two rights pass'd: the night's dismay
The third night, when my own loud scream
And having thus by tears subdued
To know and lothe, yet wish and do!
And whom I love, I love indeed.
THE PAINS OF SLEEP.
ERE on my bed my limbs I lay,
No wish conceived, no thought express'd!
A sense o'er all my soul imprest
That I am weak, yet not unblest,
TO "FIRE, FAMINE, AND SLAUGHTER."
AT the house of a gentleman, who by the principles and corresponding virtues of a sincere Christian consecrates a cultivated genius and the favorable accidents of birth, opulence, and splendid connexions, it was my good fortune to meet, in a dinner-party, with more men of celebrity in science or polite literature, than are commonly found collected round the same table. In the course of conversation, one of the party reminded an illustrious Poet, then present, of some verses which he had recited that morning, and which had appeared in a newspaper under the name of a War-Eclogue, in which Fire, Famine, and Slaughter were introduced as the speakers. The gentleman so addressed replied, that he was rather surprised that
none of us should have noticed or heard of the poem, and strengthens it. But the more intense and insane as it had been, at the time, a good deal talked of in the passion is, the fewer and the more fixed are the Scotland. It may be easily supposed, that my feel- correspondent forms and notions. A rooted hatred ings were at this moment not of the most comforta- an inveterate thirst of revenge, is a sort of madness, ble kind. Of all present, one only knew or suspect- and still eddies round its favorite object, and exered me to be the author: a man who would have cises as it were a perpetual tautology of mind in established himself in the first rank of England's thoughts and words, which admit of no adequate living Poets, if the Genius of our country had not substitutes. Like a fish in a globe of glass, it moves decreed that he should rather be the first in the first restlessly round and round the scanty circumference, rank of its Philosophers and scientific Benefactors. which it cannot leave without losing its vital eleIt appeared the general wish to hear the lines. As my ment. friend chose to remain silent, I chose to follow his There is a second character of such imaginary example, and Mr. ***** recited the Poem. This he representations as spring from a real and earnest decould do with the better grace, being known to have sire of evil to another, which we often see in real ever been not only a firm and active Anti-Jacobin and life, and might even anticipate from the nature of Anti-Gallican, but likewise a zealous admirer of Mr. the mind. The images, I mean, that a vindictive Pitt, both as a good man and a great Statesman. As man places before his imagination, will most often be a Poet exclusively, he had been amused with the taken from the realities of life: they will be images Eclogue; as a Poet, he recited it; and in a spirit, of pain and suffering which he has himself seen inwhich made it evident, that he would have read and flicted on other men, and which he can fancy himrepeated it with the same pleasure, had his own self as inflicting on the object of his hatred. I will name been attached to the imaginary object or agent. suppose that we had heard at different times two After the recitation, our amiable host observed, common sailors, each speaking of some one who had that in his opinion Mr. ***** had overrated the merits wronged or offended him: that the first with appaof the poetry; but had they been tenfold greater, rent violence had devoted every part of his adversathey could not have compensated for that malignity ry's body and soul to all the horrid phantoms and of heart, which could alone have prompted senti- fantastic places that ever Quevedo dreamt of, and ments so atrocious. I perceived that my illustrious this in a rapid flow of those outré and wildly-comfriend became greatly distressed on my account; but bined execrations, which too often with our lower fortunately I was able to preserve fortitude and pres-classes serve for escape-valves to carry off the excess ence of mind enough to take up the subject without of their passions, as so much superfluous steam that exciting even a suspicion how nearly and painfully would endanger the vessel if it were retained. The it interested me. other, on the contrary, with that sort of calmness of What follows, is substantially the same as I then tone which is to the ear what the paleness of anger replied, but dilated and in language less colloquial. is to the eye, shall simply say, If I chance to be It was not my intention, I said, to justify the publi- made boatswain, as I hope I soon shall, and can but cation, whatever its author's feelings might have once get that fellow under my hand (and I shall be been at the time of composing it. That they are upon the watch for him), I'll tickle his pretty skin! calculated to call forth so severe a reprobation from I wont hurt him! oh no! I'll only cut the a good man, is not the worst feature of such poems. the liver!" I dare appeal to all present, which of the Their moral deformity is aggravated in proportion to two they would regard as the least deceptive sympthe pleasure which they are capable of affording tom of deliberate malignity? nay, whether it would to vindictive, turbulent, and unprincipled readers. surprise them to see the first fellow, an hour or two Could it be supposed, though for a moment, that the afterward, cordially shaking hands with the ery author seriously wished what he had thus wildly im- man, the fractional parts of whose body and soul he agined, even the "ttempt to palliate an inhumanity so had been so charitably disposing of; or even perhaps monstrous would be an insult to the hearers. But it risking his life for him. What language Shakspeare seemed to me worthy of consideration, whether the considered characteristic of malignant disposition, we mood of mind, and the general state of sensations, see in the speech of the good-natured Gratiano, who in which a Poet produces such vivid and fantastic spoke "an infinite deal of nothing more than any images, is likely to coexist, or is even compatible, man in all Venice ;" with that gloomy and deliberate ferocity which a serious wish to realize them would presuppose.
-Too wild, too rude and bold of voice!
had been often observed, and all my experience the skipping spirit, whose thoughts and words recip tended to confirm the observation, that prospects of rocally ran away with each other;
O be thou damn'd, inexorable dog'
pain and evil to others, and, in general, all deep feelings of revenge, are commonly expressed in a few words, ironically tame, and mild. The mind under so direful and fiend-like an influence seems to take a and the wild fancies that follow, contrasted with Shy. morbid pleasure in contrasting the intensity of its lock's tranquil " I stand here for law." wishes and feelings, with the slightness or levity of Or, to take a case more analogous to the present the expressions by which they are hinted; and in-subject, should we hold it either fair or charitable to deed feelings so intense and solitary, if they were believe it to have been Dante's serious wish, that all not precluded (as in almost all cases they would be) the persons mentioned by him, (many recently deby a constitutional activity of fancy and association, parted, and some even alive at the time), should ac and by the specific joyousness combined with it, would assuredly themselves preclude such activity. Passion, in its own quality, is the antagonist of action; though in an ordinary and natural degree the former alternates with the latter, and thereby revives
tually suffer the fantastic and horrible punishments to which he has sentenced them in his Hell and Purgatory? Or what shall we say of the passages in which Bishop Jeremy Taylor anticipates the state of those who, vicious themselves, have been the
I'm wae to think upon yon den,
cause of vice and misery to their fellow-creatures? Could we endure for a moment to think that a spirit, like Bishop Taylor's, burning with Christian love; I need not say that these thoughts, which are here that a man constitutionally overflowing with plea- dilated, were in such a company only rapidly sug surable kindliness; who scarcely even in a casual gested. Our kind host smiled, and with a courteous illustration introduces the image of woman, child, or compliment observed, that the defence was too good bird, but he embalms the thought with so rich a for the cause. My voice faltered a little, for I was tenderness, as makes the very words seem beauties somewhat agitated; though not so much on my own and fragments of poetry from a Euripides or Simo-account as for the uneasiness that so kind and nides;-can we endure to think, that a man so na-friendly a man would feel from the thought that he tured and so disciplined, did at the time of composing had been the occasion of distressing me. At length this horrible picture, attach a sober feeling of reality I brought out these words: "I must now confess, to the phrases? or that he would have described in Sir! that I am author of that Poem. It was written the same tone of justification, in the same luxuriant some years ago. I do not attempt to justify my past flow of phrases, the tortures about to be inflicted on self, young as I then was; but as little as I would a living individual by a verdict of the Star-Chamber? now write a similar poem, so far was I even then or the still more atrocious sentences executed on the from imagining, that the lines would be taken as Scotch anti-prelatists and schismatics, at the com- more or less than a sport of fancy. At all events, if mand, and in some instances under the very eye of I know my own heart, there was never a moment the Duke of Lauderdale, and of that wretched bigot in my existence in which I should have been more who afterwards dishonored and forfeited the throne ready, had Mr. Pitt's person been in hazard, to interof Great Britain? Or do we not rather feel and un-pose my own body, and defend his life at the risk of derstand, that these violent words were mere bubbles, my own." flashes and electrical apparitions, from the magic I have prefaced the Poem with this anecdote, becaldron of a fervid and ebullient fancy, constantly cause to have printed it without any remark might fuelled by an unexampled opulence of language? well have been understood as implying an uncondi Were I now to have read by myself for the first tional approbation on my part, and this after many time the Poem in question, my conclusion, I fully years' consideration. But if it be asked why I rebelieve, would be, that the writer must have been published it at all? I answer, that the Poem had some man of warm feelings and active fancy; that been attributed at different times to different other he had painted to himself the circumstances that ac-persons; and what I had dared beget, I thought it company war in so many vivid and yet fantastic neither manly nor honorable not to dare father. forms, as proved that neither the images nor the From the same motives I should have published feelings were the result of observation, or in any perfect copies of two Poems, the one entitled The way derived from realities. I should judge, that they Devil's Thoughts, and the other The Two Round were the product of his own seething imagination, Spaces on the Tomb-Stone, but that the three first and therefore impregnated with that pleasurable ex- stanzas of the former, which were worth all the rest ultation which is experienced in all energetic exer- of the poem, and the best stanza of the remainder, tion of intellectual power; that in the same mood were written by a friend of deserved celebrity; and he had generalized the causes of the war, and then because there are passages in both, which might personified the abstract, and christened it by the have given offence to the religious feelings of certain name which he had been accustomed to hear most readers. I myself indeed see no reason why vulgar often associated with its management and measures. superstitions, and absurd conceptions that deform the I should guess that the minister was in the author's pure faith of a Christian, should possess a greater mind at the moment of composition, as completely immunity from ridicule than stories of witches, or azadis, ávaιpóσapkos, as Anacreon's grasshopper, and the fables of Greece and Rome. But there are that he had as little notion of a real person of flesh those who deem it profaneness and irreverence to and blood,
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb,
call an ape an ape, if it but wear a monk's cowl on its head; and I would rather reason with this weakness than offend it.
as Milton had in the grim and terrible phantoms (half The passage from Jeremy Taylor to which I reperson, half allegory) which he has placed at the ferred, is found in his second Sermon on Christ's gates of Hell. I concluded by observing, that the Advent to Judgment; which is likewise the second Poem was not calculated to excite passion in any in his year's course of sermons. Among many re mind, or to make any impression except on poetic markable passages of the same character in those readers; and that from the culpable levity, betrayed discourses, I have selected this as the most so. "But at the close of the Eclogue by the grotesque union when this Lion of the tribe of Judah shall appear, of epigrammatic wit with allegoric personification, then Justice shall strike and Mercy shall not hold in the allusion to the most fearful of thoughts, I her hands; she shall strike sore strokes, and Pity should conjecture that the "rantin' Bardie," instead shall not break the blow As there are treasures of of really believing, much less wishing, the fate spoken of in the last line, in application to any human individual, would shrink from passing the verdict even on the Devil himself, and exclaim with poor Burns,
But fare ye weel, auld Nickie-ben!
good things, so hath God a treasure of wrath and fury, and scourges and scorpions; and then shall be produced the shame of Lust and the malice of Envy. and the groans of the oppressed and the persecutions of the saints, and the cares of Covetousness and the troubles of Ambition, and the indolence of traitors and the violences of rebels, and the rage of anger and the uneasiness of impatience, and the restlessness of 67