Page images

man, we observe no permanent order. The laws of Nature on the contrary, forever are the same: operating with equal constancy, whether in the Scythian, the Atlantic, or the Indian; the Antarctic or Pacific. When the waves swell with storms; the sky darkens with clouds, and rocks reverberate, till echo weary in repeating their sounds; how vast is the conception of a power, alone capable of commanding obedience to his mandate:

"Silence, ye troubled waves; and thou, deep, peace;" Said then th' omnific word; "Your discord cease."


If towering and impending rocks, abrupt and gigantic mountains, and, above all, the ocean, elevate the mind, and exalt it above mortality, the woody dingle, the deep and romantic glen, the rocky valley, and the wide, the rich, the fascinating vale, associating ideas of rural comfort, and of peaceful enjoyment, cheerful industry, robust health, and tranquil happiness, draw us from subjects too high for human thought, chain us to the earth, and enchant us with magic spells. No country abounds more in those characters, in which Nature delights to speak to the imagination, than Greece. Her mountains were not more the theme of her poets, than her vales and her valleys. In that fine country, no vale was more celebrated than that of Tempe; a vale, in which the peasants frequently assembled, in order to give entertainments to each other, and to offer sacrifices. A Greek writer calls it " a festival for the eyes," and the gods were believed frequently to wander in it. Of this enchanting spot, Pliny has given a description in the fourth book of his Natural History; but Alien has left the most copious and accurate account of it. "Tempe," says he, "is

situated between the mountains of Ossa and Pelion, which are the highest mountains in Thessaly; and are divided in this place with a singular kind of attention. They enclose a valley five miles in length, but which, in breadth, often does not exceed a hundred feet. In the middle flows the river Peneus, which, at first, is little more than a cataract; but, by the addition of many smaller streams, it at length assumes considerable magnitude. Among the rich shrubs upon its banks, are various beautiful windings and recesses; not the works of human hands, but of spontaneous nature, which seems to have formed every thing in this spot with the solicitude of a mother. A profusion of ivy is seen in all parts of the woods, which, with the vine, ascend the tops of the highest trees, cling round their branches, and fall luxuriantly between them. The different species of convolvulus, which grow upon the sides of the hills, throw their white flowers and creeping foliage over the rocks; while, in the vale, or wherever they can find a level surface, groves of all kinds, in venerable arches, or capricious forms, afford a cool and refreshing retreat. Nor are there wanting frequent falls of water, with the most pure and crystal springs, sweet to drink, and wholesome to the bather. The thrush, the wood lark, and the nightingale, procreate in the thickets, and with their songs shorten the way, and soothe the ears of the traveller; who finds, in every path, arbours and grottos, and seats of repose. The Pencus still continues through the vale, idly, as it were, and with a glassy smoothness; while the depending boughs, which crowd over its surface, yield an almost constant shade to those who navigate the river." In the vale of Tempe, Ford has laid the scene of a contest, between a nightingale and a lutanist; finely imitated from a passage in Strada's Prolusions.

[ocr errors]

Passing from Italy to Greece, the tales,
Which poets of an elder time have feigned,

To glorify their Tempe, bred in me
Desire of visiting that paradise.

To Thessaly I came; and living private,
I day by day frequented silent groves,
And solitary walks. One morning early
This accident encounter'd me. I heard
The sweetest and most ravishing contention,
That art and nature ever were at strife at."

This contest was begun by a nightingale, who, chancing to hear a lutanist play several airs upon his lute, endeavoured to surpass them. In this attempt, however, the unfortunate bird failed: on which

-Down dropt she on the lute,

And broke her heart!"



MOV'D by a strange mysterious power,
That hastes along the rapid hour,

I touch the deep ton'd string.

E'en now I see his wither'd face,
Beneath yon tower's mouldering base,

Where mossy vestments cling.

Dark roll'd his cheerless eye around,
Severe his grisly visage frown'd,

No locks his head array'd,
He grasp'd a hero's antique bust,
The marble crumbled into dust,

And sunk amidst the shade.

Malignant triumph fill'd his eyes,
"See hapless mortals, see," he cries,

"How vain your idle schemes.

Beneath my grasp, the fairest form,
Dissolves and mingles with the worm,
Thus vanish mortal dreams.

The works of God! and man I spoil,
The proudest proof of human toil,
I treat as childish toys.

I crush the noble and the brave,
Beauty I mar, and in the grave
I bury human joys."

Hold! ruthless phantom-hold! I cried,
If thou canst mock the dreams of pride,
And meaner hopes devour.
Virtue! beyond thy reach shall bloom,
When other charms sink to the tomb,

She scorns thy envious power.

On frosty wings the demon fled,
Howling, as o'er the wall he sped,
"Another year is gone!"

The ruin'd spire,—the crumbling tow'r,
Nodding, obey'd his awful pow'r,
As time flew swiftly on.

Since beauty then to time must bow,
And age deform the fairest brow,

Let brighter charms be yours.

The virtuous mind, embalmed in truth,
Shall bloom in everlasting youth,

While time himself endures.


NOT a drum was heard nor a funeral note,
As his corse o'er the rampart we hurried,
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot,
O'er the grave where our hero we buried.

We buried him darkly at dead of night,
The sod with our bayonets turning,
By the trembling moon-beams' misty light,
And our lantern dimly burning.

No useless coffin enclosed his breast,

Nor in sheet nor in shroud we bound him,

But like a warrior taking his rest,

His martial cloak wrapt around him.

Few and short were the prayers we said,
We spoke not a word of sorrow,

But stedfastly gaz'd on the face of the dead,
And bitterly thought of the morrow.

We thought as we hollowed his narrow bed,
And smooth'd down his lowly pillow,

That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
And we, far away o'er the billow.

« PreviousContinue »