« AnteriorContinuar »
1838.] A Glance over the Poetry of Thomas Warton.
surprising ability ; that he has given
the bappiest selection and adaptation Such a simile might be pardoned or of collateral topics; and has shown approved in a lightsome mood, when how a poet may celebrate his sovepeople are allowed or expected to be reign, not with the fulsome adulation fanciful and ingenious—but here—at of an Augustan courtier, or the base midnight on the quest by monk and prostration of an Oriental slave, but warrior of Michael Scott's awful book, with the genuine spirit and erect lying on his breast in his grave-it is front of an Englishman." “ The Promost unhappily out of time and place. bationary odes," witty as they were, “ The moon in the east oriel shone
are now forgotten ; and Warton's are Through slender shafts of shapely stone,
not remembered. We believe the By foliaged tracery combined;
rogues printed the Laureate's first Thou would'st have thought some fairy's ode, which was rather a rum concern, hand,
among the Probationary; and sent 'Twixt poplars straight the ozier wand, him a copy with an editorial letter
In many a freakish knot had twined; expressing their gratitude to him, for Then framed a spell, when the work was having set “ the example of a Joke". done,
"an inimitable effort of luxuriant And changed the willow-wreaths humour.” Dr Joseph says, that bis stone.”
brother of all men felt the least, and Sir Walter says in a note, that it is least deserved to feel, the force of the impossible to conceive a more beauti
Probationary odes, written on his apful specimen of the lightness and ele- pointment to the office ; and that he gance of Gothic architecture, when always heartily joined in the laugh, in its purity, than the eastern window and applauded the exquisite wit and of Melrose Abbey, and
alludes to Sir humour that appeared in many of those James Hall's ingenious idea, that the original satires.". Laureates do not Gothic order, through its various forms like to be laughed at, more than other and cunningly eccentric ornaments,
office-bearing men-but Warton had may be traced to an architectural imi.
more humour and as much wit as tation of wicker-work, of which, as
the Set-and, on this occasion, rubwe learn from some of the legends, bing his elbow, merely chuckled the earliest Christian churches were
“black-letter dogs, Sir." Not a wi constructed. Possibly. But that affords of them all could have written thes no justification of such a description as
When ancient Chivalry display'd
The pomp of her heroic games ;
And crested chiefs, and tissued dames “O fading honours of the dead ! O high ambition lowly laid I"
Assembled, at the clarion's call,
In some proud castle's high-ar And this fanciful or rather fantastic hall,
To grace romantic Glory's genial rites : By social imagery beguild,
He moulds his harp to manners mild; The minstrel struck his kindred string, Nor longer weaves the wreath of war And told of many a steel-clad king,
alone, Who to the turney train d his hardy Nor hails the hostile forms that grac'd the knights ;
“ And now he tunes his plausive lay Who travers d Pagan climes to quell To kings, who plant the civic bay! The wisard foe's terrific spell ;
Who choose the patriot sovereign's part, In rude affrays untaught to fear Diffusing commerce, peace, and art ; The Saracen's gigantic spear.
Who spread the virtuous pattern wide, The listening champions felt the fabling And triumph in a nation's pride ; rhyme
Who seek coy Science in her cloister'd With fairy trappings fraught, and shook
nook, their plumes sublime.
Where Thames, yet rural, rolls an artless
“ Such were the themes of regal praise
Had quench'd the fires of feudal rage,
No more, in formidable stale,
The castle shuts its thundering gate!
Adventurous Valour idly bleeds :
Who love to view the vale divine,
Where revel Nature and the Nine,
pray'rs, Should Treason arm the weakest
hand! To these his heart-felt praise he bears, And with new rapture hastes to greet
This festal morn, that longs to meet,
on her wing !
ON HIS MAJESTY'S BIRTH-DAY, JUNE 414, 1788.
“ The noblest bards of Albion's choir
Had dar'd to break her Gothic chain,
In tones majestic hence he told
And Arthur's ancient rites restor'd;
“ Won from the shepherd's simple meed,
To grace Eliza's golden sway :
Portraying chiefs that knew to tame
From fabling Fancy's inmost store
A rich romantic robe he bore ;
“ At length the matchless Dryden came,
And strength with melody to blend ;
I spurn his panegyric strings,
By glory fired, to pity sued,
“ Had these blest bards been call'd, to pay
A mightier sovereign than his own!
His chaplets of fantastic bloom,
Spenser had cast in scorn away,
The glories of his pictur'd queen!
His lyre had blameless been, bis tribute all sincere !"
Embowering elms their umbrage wave; rather deficient in sentiment—too pure
And while the maple dish is mine, ly descriptive ; some of them are so
The beechen cup, unstain'd with wine ; -others not--and we think that ob
I scorn the gay licentious crowd, jection will by none be felt to lie a.
Nor heed the toys that deck the proud. gainst his delightful lines entitled « The Hamlet.” Headley calls it “ a
“ Within my limits lone and still
The blackbird pipes in artless trill; most exquisite little piece," and says
Fast by my couch, congenial guest, “ it contains such a selection of beauti.
The wren bas wove her mossy nest ; ful rural images as perhaps no other
From busy scenes, and brighter skies, poem of equal length in our language To lurk with innocence, she flies ; presents us with.” Headley, we think,
Here hopes in safe repose to dwell, was a Trinity man, and as such must
Nor aught suspects the sylvan cell. have loved Warton, and his praise may need pruning ; but he was a good " At morn I take my custom'd round, judge because a fine genius.
To mark how buds yon shrubhy mound, Hamlet” is “ written on Whichwood And every opening primrose count, Forest” which lies towards the west- That trimly paints my blooming mount : ern side of Oxfordshire, and near the Or o'er the sculptures, quaint and rude, Poet's parish of Cuddington.
That grace my gloomy solitude,
I teach in winding wreaths to stray And to the world's tumultuous stage
Prefer the blameless hermitage ?" “ At eve, within yon studious nook,
Headley remarks, too, that the leadI ope my brass-embossed book,
ing idea of these lines was suggested Portray'd with many a holy deed
by an account of the life of a peasant Of martyrs, crown'd with heavenly meed: in Phineas Fletcher's “ Purple IsThen as my taper waxes dim,
land." Dr Mant agrees with him ; but Chant, ere I sleep, my measur'd hymn; we see small reason or none for thinkAnd at the close, the gleams behold ing so, and believe that the “ leading Of parting wings bedropt with gold. idea,” which is obvious to all mankind,
was suggested to Warton many hun“ While such pure joys my bliss create, dred times during his walks in the Who would but smile at guilty state ? Forest of Whichwood. Fletcher's Who would but wish his holy lot
stanzas, however, are « beautiful exIn calm Oblivion's humble grot ?
ceedingly"-as these two declare. Who but would cast his pomp away, To take my staff, and amice gray ;
“ His certain life that never can deceive him,
“ His bed of wool yields safe and quiet sleeps,
Joseph and Thomas Warton, as all The flinty dove-cote's crowded roof, the world once knew, were most affec- Watch'd by the kite that sails aloof: tionate brothers -- and Tom seldom The tufted pines, whose umbrage tall left Oxford but to visit Joe at Win Darkens the long-deserted hall : chester, which he did annually as long The veteran beech, that on the plain as he lived, and where he was the de. Collects at eve the playful train : light of the boys, writing for them their
The cot that smokes with early fire, themes and tasks, and mingling with
The low-roof'd fane's embosom'd spire ! their amusements till the very last.
" Who now shall indolently stray Before Joseph's elevation to the mas
Through the deep forest's tangled way;
Pleas' at his custom'd task to find tership, he went abroad with the
The well known hoary-tressed hind, Duke of Bolton, and on that occasion Thomas indited the beautiful lines, of wither'd boughs his pittance mean!
That toils with feeble hands to glean “ Sent to a Friend on his leaving a
Who mid thy nooks of hazle sit, favourite Cottage in Hampshire."
Lost in some melancholy fit ;
And listening to the raven's croak,
The distant flail, the falling oak!
Who, through the sunshine and the Ah mourn, thou lov'd retreat ! No more shower, Shall classic steps thy scenes explore ! Descry the rainbow-painted tower ? When morn's pale rays but faintly peep Who, wandering at return of May, O'er yonder oak-crown'd airy steep, Catch the first cuckow's ver Who now shall climb its brows to view Who musing waste the summer hour, The length of landscape, ever new, Where high o'er-arching trees embower Where Summer flings, in careless pride, The grassy lane, so rarely pac'd, Her varied vesture far and wide!
With azure flow'rets idly grac'd ! Who mark, beneath, each village-charm, Unnotic'd now, at twilight's dawn Or grange, or elm-encircled farm : Returning reapers cross the lawn;
Nor fond attention loves to note
lity--for if much of the images be borThe wether's bell from folds remote : rowed from books, as much is taken While, own'd by no poetic eye,
from nature, and the whole is finely Thy pensive evenings shade the sky ! fused together by an affectionate heart
“ For lo ! the Bard who rapture found and a glowing fancy, and comes from In every rural sight or sound ;
the process, Poetry. The close was, Whose genius warm, and judgment chaste, perhaps, imitated from AkensideNo charm of genuine nature pass'd ; Who felt the Muse's purest fires,
“ So fables tell, Far from thy favour'd haunt retires :
The adventurous hero, bound on hard ex. Who peopled all thy vocal bowers
ploits, With shadowy shapes, and airy powers.
Beholds with glad surprise, by secret spells “ Behold, a dread repose resumes,
Of some kind sage, the patron of his toils, As erst, thy sad sequester'd glooms !
A visionary paradise disclosed From the deep dell, where shaggy roots
Amid the dubious wild," &c. Fringe the rough brink with wreathed But Akenside imitated Addison, and of
shoots, Th' unwilling genius flies forlorn,
the three fine pictures, Addison's is the His primrose chaplet rudely torn.
finest—as you will confess. We have With hollow shriek the nymphs forsake
it by heart. " We are every where The pathless copse and hedge-row brake :
entertained with pleasing shows and Where the delv'd mountain's headlong apparitions ; we discover imaginary side
glories in the heavens and in the earth, Its chalky entrails opens wide,
and see some of their visionary beauty On the green summit, ambush'd high, poured out on the whole creation. No longer Echo loves to lie.
But what a rough unsightly sketch of No pearl-crown'd maids with wily look, nature should we be entertained with, Rise beckoning from the reedy brook. did all her colouring disappear, and Around the glow-worm’s glimmering bank, the several distinctions of light and No fairies run in fiery rank;
shade vanish? In short, our souls are Nor brush, half-seen, in airy tread at present delightfully lost and bewil. The violet's unprinted head.
dered in a pleasing delusion, and we But Fancy, from the thickets brown, walk about like the enchanted hero in The glades that wear a conscious frown,
a romance, who sees beautiful castles, The forest-oaks, that, pale and lone, woods, and meadows, and at the same Nod to the blast with hoarser tone,
time hears the warbling of birds and Rough glens, and sullen waterfalls,
purling of streams; but, upon the Her bright ideal offspring calls. “ So by some sage enchanter's spell,
finishing of some secret spell, the fan. (As old Arabian fablers tell,)
tastic scene breaks up, and the disconAmid the solitary wild,
solate knight finds himself on a barLuxuriant gardens gaily smil'd :
ren heath, or in a solitary forest." From sapphire rocks the fountains
It is something-much-to deserve stream'd,
the name of a descriptive Poet even of With golden fruit the branches beam'd ;
the lowest order. No man can deFair forms, in every wondrous wood, scribe natural objects well, without Or lightly tripp'd, or solemn stood ; some feeling of their beauty-withAnd oft, retreating from the view, out the power of re-awakening in Betray'd, at distance, beauties new : himself that feeling, by an act of the While gleaming o'er the crisped bowers imagination. The feeling keeps him Rich spires arose, and sparkling towers. to the truth, and inspires him to paint If bound on service new to go,
it. And he who has this power of The master of the magic show,
feeling is so far a Poet. He who has His transitory charm withdrew,
it not, or in whom it is faint and flucAway th' illusive landscape flew :
tuating, may have no inconsiderable Dun clouds obscur'd the groves of gold,
pleasure, even beyond that of the Blue lightning smote the blooming mould :
senses, in the charms of nature; but In visionary glory rear'd,
in attempting to describe them, he The gorgeous castle disappeared ; And a bare heath's unfruitful plain
makes but sorry work of it, and the Usurp'd the wizard's proud domain."
more gorgeous his imagery, and the
more laboriously gathered, the more We call these beautiful lines; nor does prosaic is his picture. Often nowit detract much from their merit that a-days they who have little or no they have little or no claim to origina- knowledge of nature, and therefore