Page images

labours of a thoughtful mind given to contemplation. No eye hath ever seen you, no ear hath ever heard of you. You have gained the applause of no panegyrist, nor incurred the censure of any critic. Never shall it be known that ye ever were composed. Ye shall bloom and die like a rose of the wilderness, unnoticed and unknown.

But these essays have not been without their use, at least to myself

For many an hour have they beguiled,
And cheated many a pain.



A MUSE, the meanest of the minstrel throng,
To whom no arts of elegance belong,

Now first attempts Parnassus' tow'ring height,
And trembles at the greatness of her flight.

To Atherton she dedicates her lays,

And seeks his censure, as she courts his praise :
To him, in whom opposing virtues blend,

The rigid critic and the faithful friend.

O thou, my patron, who art richly fraught

With strength of judgment, as with depth of thought,
Now kindly listen to my maiden verse, (1)
While I the subject of my dreams rehearse. (2)

Awake, my soul, the cheerful morn appears,
And bid adieu to visions and to fears.
The fleeting midnight forms now haste away,
And leave me at the dawn of rising day.
Ere shines as yet the sun's effulgent light,
I'll ponder o'er the visions of the night.

Sure they are wrong, who much too rashly deem
That bodiless and vain is all we dream.

In midnight's silent hour it oft has been
That spirits of the friends we loved were seen,
Not with an idle message, to relate

Of hidden mines, or mysteries of fate;
But with far nobler aim do they appear,
Perhaps the drooping child of dust to cheer,
To check presumption, or t' incite desire,
And pure and heavenly ardour to inspire.
In midnight shades, with sacred tidings fraught,
They find the secret channels of our thought,
And, when the body is entranced in sleep,
Inform the mind, in dreams and visions deep.
As happen'd to the Temanite of old,*
For thus 'tis in the sacred volume told.
E'en now I feel a transport fire my veins,
And still th' impression of my trance remains.

Methought I wander'd in a desert way, (3)
And midnight gloom obscured the light of day;
A tenfold darkness on my spirit hung
While with a falt'ring step I stole along.
Huge, massy rocks, impended o'er my head,
And on the ground lay bodies of the dead.
Re-echoing groans I hear, and deepest sighs,
And frightful spectres flit before my eyes,
Enclosed in shrouds and with a ghastly face,
While sheets of flame disclose the awful place.
I strove to fly, but strove, alas! in vain,
Some ties unknown my struggling feet detain.
I wish'd to weep, but tears refused to flow-
I stood in all the agony of wo;
When suddenly before my wond'ring eyes
A bright angelic form I saw arise.

A heavenly radiance all his features bore,
And more than mortal was the form he wore ;
And yet though shining with celestial grace,
Still in the shade a brother's form I trace.
His placid smile my palsied tongue unbound,
And now my words a ready utt'rance found.

* Job.

"Whoe'er thou art, O more than earthly fair, Receive a helpless wand'rer to thy care;

O lead me, lead me from these shades away,
And take me to the blissful realms of day."

He smiled, (and painful dread my mind forsook,)
And thus, in music's softest accents spoke:
"Poor child of dust! be calm! let heavenly peace
Fill all thy mind, and let thy terrors cease.
My brother, 'tis thy Lucius who appears,
The gay companion of thy tender years.
Still undiminish'd are my former loves,
And once thy brother, now thy guardian proves.
By God commission'd I thy steps attend,
In trouble aid thee, and in grief befriend,
Inspire new vigour, quell each fond alarm,
And guard my Junius from impending harm.
But late, near Scotia's wild and stormy shore,
Thee from the tempest and from death I bore;
Upheld and kept thee in th' o'erwhelming wave,
And rescued thus from an untimely grave.
O, whence arise these murm'rings in thy breast,
Why is thy soul with gloomy care opprest?—
Thy heavenly Father why shouldst thou mistrust,
Too wise to err, too good to be unjust."

Thus while the angel spoke, straight disappear'd
The horrid forms which fancy first had rear'd.
He led me on. As we our way pursued,

A scene beauteous beyond all thought I view'd:
Brightness illumed it, though no sun was there, (4)
And beams of light fill'd all the ambient air.
No words my curious feelings can explain;
For equal terms the mind inquires in vain.
Methought it bore the semblance of a plain,
With gentle swellings here and there around,
While lofty hills th' extended prospect bound.
A purling rivulet the plain divides,
And tufts of poplar grew upon its sides.
And now whatever clogs the soul, was gone,
And of myself my mind remain'd alone.
Methought I felt myself supremely blest,
And not one care disturb'd my tranquil breast.

My every faculty seem'd form'd anew,
And like my bright conductor straight I grew ;
Fair forms around o'er all the valley glide,
While some, reposing by a fountain's side,
Converse, relating each what once they were,
Ere yet they ceased to breathe the vital air,
The various trials they had undergone,
And the deliverances they had known.
When lo! the loveliest of the angelic throng
Propose to chant an eucharistic song:
Listening, my soul in mute attention hung,
And thus, methought, the happy spirits sung:

Sing to the Lord, angelic choirs,
Praise ye the Lord, celestial fires,
The God who o'er all worlds presides,
Who rules the planet, and the comet guides.

"Children of dust, his praise proclaim,
In him ye are, from him ye came:
For worms of earth his bounty share,
He calms their sorrow, and he soothes their care.

"Rejoice, ye saints, in his regard,

He gives his angels for your guard;
Lo, e'en to you his love is given,
His smile congratulates the heirs of heaven."

Note 1, p. 90.

"my maiden verse."

This was the first poetical production I ever attempted. I began it in my sixteenth year.

Note 2, p. 90..

"While I the subject of my dream rehearse."

The idea that dreams are inspired is very ancient: as a proof of which I may mention that well-known passage in Homer,

και γαρ τ' οναρ ἐκ Διος ἐσιν

and the two following passages in Virgil, viz :

"Nox erat et terris animalia somnus habebat.
Effigies sacræ Divum," &c.-ÆNEID III.

"Nox erat,

Quum pater in ripa, gelidique sub ætheris axe
Eneas, tristi turbatus," &c.-ENEID VIII.

Note 3, p. 91.

"Methought I wander'd in a desert way."

The sensations here described are such as usually accompany what is called the "night-mare." This is supposed to arise from the impeded velocity of the circulating fluid. The uneasiness thereby occasioned is easily relieved by changing the position of the body. Hence it is that we may frequently remark a sudden transition in the subject of our dream from awful to agreeable images, and from images which are pleasing to those which are terrifying and awful.

Note 4, p. 92.

"Brightness illumed it, but no sun was there," &c.

These confused ideas are intended to describe a pleasing impres. sion that leaves no distinct recollection of what has been seen or felt.


YE spirits of the tuneful dead,
Whose memory lives in song,
Inspire my fancy while I tread
These fairy scenes along :
The lofty bank and lowly dell,
Where fancy and the muses dwell,
Where poets dream

Beside the stream,

And, mid their waking slumbers,

Conceive bold thoughts in magic numbers.

* A river of Scotland.-ED.

« PreviousContinue »