Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

And flowers these darksome woodlands rear,

Whose shades they yearly claim,
That Nature's wond'rous mystery wear

Anl bloom without a name :
What different shapes in leaves are seen

That o'er my head embower,
Clad in as many shades of green

As colours in the flower !

My path now gleams with fairer light,

The side approaches near,
A heath now bolts upon the sight,

And rabbit-tracks appear :
I love the heath, though ’nid the brakes

Fear shudders, trampling through,
Oft check'd at things she fancies snakes

Quick nestling from the view.
Yet where the ground is nibbled bare

By rabbits and by sheep,
I often fearless loiter there,

And think myself to sleep;
Dear are the scenes which Nature loves,

Where she untamed retires,
Far from the stretch of planted groves,

Which polish'd taste admires.
Here oft, though grass and moss are seen

Tann'd brown for want of showers,
Still keeps the ling its darksome green,

Thick set with little flowers;
And here, thick mingling o'er the heath,

The furze delights to dwell,
Whose blossoms steal the summer's breath,

And shed a sultry smell.
Here threat'ning ploughs have tried in vain

To till the sandy soil;
Yon slope, already sown with grain,

Shows Nature mocks the toil;
The wild weeds choak the straggling ears,

And motley gardens spread ;
The blue-cap there in bloom appears,

And poppies, lively red.
And now my footsteps sidle round

The gently sloping hill,
And faulter now o'er marshy ground ;

Yet Nature charins me still:
Here moss, and grass, and flowers appear

Of different forms and hues;
And insects too inhabit here

Which still my wonder views.
Here horsetail, round the water's edge,

In bushy tufts is spread,
With rush, and cutting leaves of sedge

That children learn to dread,
Whose leaves like razors mingling there

Oft make the youngster turn, Leaving his rushes in despair,

A wounded hand to mourn.

[ocr errors]

What wonders strike

my
idle

gaze,
As near the pond I stand !
What life its stagnant depth displays,

As varied as the land :
All forms and sizes swimming there,

Some, sheath'd in silvery den,
Oft siling up as if for air,

And nimbling down agen.
Now rising ground attempts again

To change the restless view,
The pathways leading down the lane

My pleasures still renew.
The osier's slender shade is by,

And bushes thickly spread;
Again the ground is firm and dry,

Nor trembles ’neath the tread.
On this side, ash or oak embowers;

There, hawthorns humbler grow,
With goatsbeard wreath'd, and woodbine flowers,

That shade a brook below,
Which feebly purls its rippling moans

With summer draining dry;
And struttles, as I step the stones,

Can scarcely struggle by.
Now soon shall end these musing dreams

In solitude's retreat ;
The eye that dwelt on woods and streams

The village soon shall meet :
Nigh on the sight the steeple towers ;

The clock, with mellow hum,
Counts out the day's declining hours,

And calls my ramblings home.
I love to visit Spring's young blooms

When wet with April showers;
Nor feel less joy, when Summer comes,

To trace her darker bowers;
I love to meet the Autumn winds

Till they have moum'd their last;
Nor less delight my journey finds

In Winter's howling blast. John Clark.

THE INCONSTANT LADY.

A SONNET.

Did I not fly to thee, and in thine eyes

Look for all comfort? Listening to the sound
Of thy gay innocent voice, have I not found
Intense delight, speaking it with my sighs?
Thou didst not know it, but I shaped replies,

That so thy converse, with unbroken round

Of melody, as from enchanted ground,
Might win my soothed soul to paradise.-

Ah, what a change!- The world is all alike
Buried in darkness to the scori'd and blind:

I see no glimpse of joy. Thy features strike
Other beholders still with love, and find

Worshippers every where :-but I disdain
To pray to gods that answer not again.

ON THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF

WILLIAM MASON.

IN CONTINUATION OF DR. JOHNSON'S LIVES OF THE POETS.

It is to be regretted that no one of Water Nymph, not without some Mason's friends has thought fit to fancy and elegance, in which his paspay the same tribute of respect to his sion for the new style of gardening memory, which he had himself paid first showed itself; as his political to that of his two poetical friends, bias did the year after in Isis, a poem Gray and Whitehead. In this dearth levelled against the supposed Toryism of authentic biography, we must be of Oxford, and chiefly valuable for contented with such information con- having called forth the Triumph of cerning him, as either his own writ- Isis, by Thomas Warton. To this he ings, or the incidental mention made prefixed an advertisement, declaring of him by others, will furnish. that it would never have appeared in

William Mason was born on the print, had not an interpolated copy, 23d of February, 1725, at Hull, published in a country newspaper, where his father, who was vicar of scandalously misrepresented the prinSt. Trinity, resided. Whether he had ciples of the author.

Now comany other preceptor in boyhood, ex- menced his intimacy with Gray, who cept his parent, is not known. That was rather more than eight years his this parent was a man of no common senior, a disparity which, at that peattainments, appears from a poem riod of life, is apt to prevent men at which his son addressed to him when college from uniting very closely. he had attained his twenty-first year, His friend described him to Dr. and in which he acknowledged with Whartou as having much fancy, gratitude the instructions he had re- little judgment, and a good deal of ceived from him in the arts of painting, modesty. “ I take him," continued poetry, and music. In 1742, he was Gray, “ for a good and well-meaning admitted of St. John's College, Cam- creature ; but then he is really in bridge; and there, in 1744, the year simplicity a child, and loves every in which Pope died, he wrote Musæus, body he meets with: he reads little a monody on that poet; and Il Belli- or nothing, writes abundance, and coso and Il Pacifico, a very juvenile that with a design to make his forimitation, as he properly calls it, of tune by it.” On reviewing this chathe Allegro and Penseroso. In 1745, racter of himself twenty-five years he took his degree of Bachelor of after, he confessed, what cannot be Arts; and in the ensuing year, with matter of surprise, that this interval a heavy heart, and with some fear had made a considerable abatement lest he should grow old · in northern in his general philanthropy; but declime,' bade farewell to Granta in an nied having looked for more emoluOde, which commemorates the virtues ment from his publications than a few of his tutor Dr. Powell. He soon, guineas to take him to a play or an however, returned; by his father's opera. Gray's next report of him, permission visited London; and re- after a year’s farther acquaintance, moving from St. John's College to is, that he grows apace into his Pembroke Hall, was unexpectedly good graces, as he knows him more; nominated Fellow of that society in that “he is very ingenious, with great 1747, when, by the auvice of Dr. good nature and simplicity; a little Powell, he published Musæus. His vain, but in so harmless and so fourth Ode expresses his delight at comical a way, that it does not offend the prospect of being restored to the one at all; a little ambitious, but banks of the Cam. In a letter to a withal so ignorant in the world and friend written this year, he boasts its ways, that this does not hurt him that his poem had already passed in one's opinion ; so sincere and so through three impressions. At the undisguised, that no mind with a same time, he wrote his Ode to a spark of generosity would ever think

1

a

a

of hurting him, he lies so open to in- orders in another light, I frankly jury; but so indolent, that if he cannot owned to him he ought not to go unovercome this habit, all his good qua- less he had a call; by which I meant, lities will signify nothing at all.” At I told him, nothing fanatical or sus this time, he published an Ode on the perstitious, but an inclination, and Installation of the Duke of New- on that a resolution, to dedicate all castle, which his friend, who was a his studies to the science of religion, laughing spectator of the ceremony, and totally to abandon his poetry: considers “ the only entertainment he entirely agreed with me in thinkthat had any tolerable elegance, and ing that decency, reputation, and relithinks it, “ with some little abate- gion, all required this sacrifice of him, ments, uncommonly well on such an and that if he went into orders he inoccasion :” it was, however, very in- tended to give it.” This was surely ferior to that which he himself com- an absurd squeamishness in one of posed when the Duke of Grafton was the same profession, as Warburton installed.

was, who had begun his career by His next production (in 1751) was translations in prose and verse from Elfrida, written on the model of the Latin writers, had then mingled in the ancient Greek Tragedy ; a delicate literary cabals of the day, and afterexotic, not made to thrive in our wards did not think his time misem“cold septentrion blasts," and which, ployed in editing and commenting on when it was long after transferred to Shakspeare and Pope. Yet he was the theatre by Colman, was unable unreasonable enough to continue his to endure the rough aspect of a Bri- expectations that Mason should do tish audience. The poet complained of what he had, without any apparent some trimming and altering that had compunction, omitted to do himself; been thought requisite by the mana- for after speaking of Brown, the unger on the occasion; and Colman, it fortunate author of Barbarossa, who is said, in return, threatened him with was also an ecclesiastic, he adds: a chorus of Grecian washerwomen. “ How much shall I honour onę, who Matters were no better when Mason has a stronger propensity to poetry, himself undertook to prepare it for and has got a greater name in it, if the stage.

he performs his promise to me of In 1752, we find him recom- putting away these idle baggages mended to Lord Rockingham, by after his sacred espousal.” After Mr. Charles Yorke, who thought all, this proved to be one of the vows him, said Warburton, likely to at- at which Jove laughs. The sacred tach that Lord's liking to him, as espousal did not lessen his devotion he was a young nobleman of ele- to the idle baggages; and it is very gance, and loved painting and mu- doubtful whether he discharged his sic. In the following year he lost his duties as King's Chaplain or Rector father, in the disposition of whose of Aston (for both which appointaffairs he was less considered than ments he was indebted to the kindhe thought himself entitled to expect. ness of Lord Holdernesse) at all the What the reason for this partiality worse for this attachment, which he was, it would be vain to conjecture; was indeed barefaced enough to nor have we any means of knowing avow two years after by the publicawhether the disappointment deter- tion of some of his odes. At his Recmined him to the choice of a profes- tory of Aston, in Yorkshire, he consion which he made soon after (in tinued to live for great part of his re1754), when he entered into the church. maining life, with occasional abFrom the following passage, in a sences in the metropolis, at Camletter of Warburton's, it appears that bridge, or at York, where he was the step was not taken without some made Precentor and Canon of the hesitation. “ Mr. Mason has called Cathedral, and where his residence on me. I found him yet unresolved was therefore sometimes required. whether he would take the living. I I have not learnt whether he had any said, was the question about a mere other preferment. Hurd, in a letter secular employment, I should blame written in 1768, mentions that the him without reserve if he refused the death of a Dr. Atwell threw a good offer. But as I regarded going into living into his hands. Be this as it

a

[ocr errors]

man.

might, he was rich enough, and had to associate for parliamentary rean annual income of about fifteen form, he took an active part in ashundred pounds at his death. Lord sisting their deliberations, and wrote Orford says of him somewhere in his several patriotic manifestos. In the letters, that he intended to have re- same year appeared his Ode to the fused a bishopric if it had been offer- Naval Officers of Great Britain, on ed him. He might have spared him- the trial of Admiral Keppel, in which self the pains of coming to this reso- the poetry is strangled by the polilution ; for mitres, “though they fell tics. His harp was in better tune, on many a critic's head," and on that when, in 1782, an Ode to Mr. Pitt of his friend Hurd among the rest, declared the hopes he had conceived did not seem adapted to the brows of of the son of Chatham ; for like many a poet. When the death of Cibber others, who espoused the cause of had made the laurel vacant, he was freedom, he had ranged himself informed that “ being in orders he among the partizans of the youthful was thought merely on that account statesman, who was then doing all less eligible for the office than a lay- he could to persuade others, as he

“A reason," said he, “ so had no doubt persuaded himself, that politely put, I was glad to hear as- he was one of the number. signed ; and if I had thought it In the mean time Gray, who, if he a weak one, they who know me will had lived longer, might, perhaps, readily believe that I am the last have restrained him from mixing in man in the world who would have this turmoil, was no more. The attempted to controvert it.” Of the office which he performed of biolaurel, he probably was not more am- grapher, or rather of editor, for his bitious than of the mitre; though he deceased friend, has given us one of was still so obstinate as to believe the most delightful books in its kind that he might unite the characters that our language can boast. It is of a clerk and a poet, to which he just that this acknowledgment should would fain have superadded that of be made to Mason, although Mr. a statist also. Caractacus, another Mathias has recently added many tragedy on the ancient plan, but others of Gray's most valuable pawhich made a better figure on the pers, which his former editor was stage, appeared in 1759 ; and in scarcely scholar enough to estimate 1762, three elegies. In 1769, Harris as they deserved; and Mr. Mitford heard him preach at St. James's early has shown us, that some omissions, prayers, and give a fling at the and perhaps some alterations, were French for the invasion of Corsica. unnecessarily made by him in the Thus politics, added his hearer, have letters themselves. As to the entered the sanctuary. The sermon task which the latter of these genis the sixth in his printed collection. tlemen imposed on himself, few A fling at the French was at all times will think that every passage which a favourite topic with him. In the he has admitted, though there be discourse delivered before George III. nothing in any to detract from the on the Sunday preceding his Corona- real worth of Gray, could have been tion, he has stretched the text a little made public consistently with those that he may take occasion to descant sacred feelings of regard for his meon the blessings of civil liberty, and mory by which the mind of Mason has quoted Montesquieu's opinion of was impressed, and that reluctance the British government. In praising which he must have had to conquer, our religious toleration, he is careful before he resolved on the publication to justify our exception of the church at all. The following extract from of Rome from the general indulgence. a letter, written by the Rev. Edward Nor was it in the pulpit only that he Jones, brings us into the presence of acted the politician. He was one of Mason, and almost to an acquaintthose, as we are told in the Bio ance with his thoughts at this time, graphical Dictionary, who thought and on this occasion. “ Being at the decision of Parliament on the York in September 1771," (Gray Middlesex election a violation of died on the thirtieth of July precedthe rights of the people; and ing,) “ I was introduced to Mr. Mawhen the counties began, in 1779, son, then in residence. On my first

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »