Page images

been guilty of some ill thing, for which they did not dare to fhew their faces. The beauty and ftateliness of the trees which he faw then for the first time, as in his own island there grows not a fhrub, equally furprized and delighted him but he obferved, with a kind of terror, that as he passed among their branches, they pulled him back again. He had been perfuaded to drink a pretty large dose of strong waters; and upon finding himfelf drowsy after it, and ready to fall into a flumber, which he fancied was to be his last, he expreffed to his companions the great fatisfaction he felt in so easy a paffage out of this world: for, faid he, it is attended with no kind of pain.

Among such sort of men it was that Aurelius fought refuge from the violence and cruelty of his enemies.

The time appears to have been towards the latter part of the reign of King Charles the fecond: when those who governed Scotland under him, with no lefs cruelty than impolicy, made the people of that country defperate; and then plundered, imprisoned, or butchered them, for the natural effects of fuch defpair. The best and worthiest men were oft the objects of their moft unrelenting fury. Under the title of fanatics, or feditious, they affected to herd, and of course perfecuted, whoever wished well to his country, or ventured to stand up in defence of the laws and a legal government. I have now in my hands the copy of a warrant, figned by King Charles himself, for military execution upon them without procefs or conviction: and I know that the original is still kept in the secretary's office for that part of the united kingdom. Thus much I thought it neceffary


to fay, that the reader may not be misled to look upon the relation given by Aurelius in the second canto, as drawn from the wantonnefs of imagination, when it hardly arises to strict historical truth.

What reception this poem may meet with, the author cannot foresce: and, in his humble, but happy retirement, he needs not be over-anxious to know. He has endeavoured to make it one regular and confiftent whole; to be true to nature in his thoughts, and to the genius of the language in his manner of expreffing them. If he has fucceeded in these points, but above all in effectually touching the paffions, which, as it is the genuine province, fo is it the great triumph, of poetry; the candor of his more difcerning readers will readily overlook mistakes or failures in things of lefs importance.


THOU faithful partner of a heart thy own,
Whofe pain, or pleasure, springs from thine alone;
Thou, true as honour, as compaffion kind,
That, in fweet union, harmonize thy mind:
Here, while thy eyes, for fad Amintor's woe,
And Theodora's wreck, wich tears o'erflow,
O may thy friend's warm wish to heaven prefer'd
For thee, for him, by gracious heaven be heard!
So her fair hour of fortune fhall be thine,
Unmix'd; and all Amyntor's fondness mine.
So, through long vernal life, with blended ray,
Shall Love light up, and Friendship close our day:
Till, fummon'd late this lower heaven to leave,
One figh shall end us, and one earth receive.


[blocks in formation]



AR in the watery waste, where his broad wave

From world to world the vast Atlantic rolls,

On from the piny fhores of Labrador


To frozen Thulé east, her airy height
Aloft to heaven remotest Kilda lifts;
Last of the fea-girt Hebrides, that guard,
In filial train, Britannia's parent-coaft.
Thrice happy land! though freezing on the
Of arctic skies; yet, blameless still of arts
That polish, to deprave, each fofter clime,
With fimple nature, fimple virtue bleft!
Beyond Ambition's walk: where never War
Uprear'd his fanguine ftandard; nor unfheath'd,
For wealth or power, the defolating sword.
Where Luxury, foft fyren, who around
To thousand nations deals her nectar'd cup

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Of pleasing bane, that foothes at once and kills,
Is yet a name unknown. But calm content


That lives to reafon; ancient Faith that binds
The plain community of guilelef's hearts

In love and union; Innocence of ill

[ocr errors]

Their guardian genius: thefe," the powers that rule
This little world, to all its fons fecure
Man's happiest life; the foul ferene and found
From Paffion's rage, the body from disease.
Red on each cheek behold the rofe of health
Firm in each finew Vigor's pliant spring,
By Temperance brac'd to peril and to pain,
Amid the floods they ftem, or on the steep
Of upright rocks their straining steps furmount,
For food or paftime. These light up their morn,
And close their eve in flumber fweetly deep,
Beneath the north, within the circling fwell
Of oceans raging found. But laft and beft,
What Avarice, what Ambition shall not know,
True Liberty is theirs, the heaven-fent guest,
Who in the cave, or on th' uncultur'd wild,
With Independence dwells; and Peace of mind,
In youth, in age, their fun that never fets.





Daughter of heaven and nature, deign thy aid, 40 Spontaneous Mufe! O whether from the depth Of evening forest, brown with broadest shade; Or from the brow fublime of vernal alp As morning dawns; or from the vale at noon, By some soft stream that flides with liquid foot Through bowery groves, where Inspiration fits And fiftens to thy lore, aufpicious come! O'er thefe wild waves, o'er this unharbour'd fhore,



Thy wing high-hovering spread; and to the gale,
The boreal spirit breathing liberal round
From echoing hill to hill, the lyre attune
With answering cadence free, as best beseems
The tragic theme my plaintive verfe unfolds.

Here, good Aurelius-and a scene more wild
The world around, or deeper folitude,
Affliction could not find-Aurelius here,
By fate unequal and the crime of war
Expell'd his native home, the facred vale



That faw him bleft, now wretched and unknown,

Wore out the flow remains of setting life


In bitterness of thought: and with the furge,

And with the founding storm, his murmur'd moan
Would often mix-Oft as remembrance fad

Th' unhappy paft recall'd; a faithful wife,

Whom Love firft chofe, whom Reafon long endear'd, 65
His foul's companion and his fofter friend;

With one fair daughter, in her rofy prime,
Her dawn of opening charms, defenceless left
Within a tyrant's grafp! his foe profefs'd,
By civil madness, by intemperate zeal
For differing rites, embitter'd into hate,
And cruelty remorfelefs!-Thus he liv'd:

If this was life, to load the blast with fighs;
Hung o'er its edge, to fwell the flood with tears,
At midnight hour: for midnight frequent heard
The lonely mourner, defolate of heart,
Pour all the hufband, all the father forth
In unavailing anguish; ftretch'd along




« PreviousContinue »