Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

tury. Even without awaiting the issue of such trials, he attuned a degree of popularity which is almost without s precedent, while the species of popularity which he has acquired is yet more honourable than the extent of it. No man's works ever appeared with less of artificial preparation : no venal heralds proclaimed the approach of a new poet, nor toll the world what it was to admirc. fic emerged from obscurity, the object of no patron. age, and the adherent of no party. Ilis fame, great and extensive as it is, arose from gradual conviction, and gratitude for pleasure received. The genius, the scholar, the critic, the man of the world, and the man of piety, cach found in Cowper's works something to excite their surprise and their adini. ration--something congenial with their habits and feelings-something which taste readily selected, and judgment decidedly confirmed. Cowper was found to possess that combination of energies which marks the comprehensive mind of a great and in. ventive genius, and to furnish examples of the sub. lime, the pathetic, the descriptive, the moral, and the satirical, so numerous, that nothing seemed be. yond his grasp, and so original, that nothing reminds us of any former poct.

If this praise be admitted, it will be needless to inquire in what peculiar charins Cowper's poems consist, or why hie, above all poets of recent times, has become the universal favourite of his nation. Yet as he appears to have been formed not only to be an ornament but a model to his brethren, it may not be useless to remind them, that in him the virtues of the man and the genius of the poet were inseparable; that in every thing he respected the highest interests of human kind, the promotion of religion, morality, and benevolence; and that while he enchants the imagination by the decorations of genuine poetry, and even condescends to trifle with innocent gaiety, his serious purposes are all of the

fobler kind. He secures the judgment by depth of reflection on morals and manners, and by a vigour of sentiment, and a knowledge of human nature, such as every man's taste and every man's experience must confirm. In description, whether of objects of nature or of artificial society, he has few equals; and whether be passes from description to reasoning, or illustrates the one by the other, he has found the happy art of administering to the pleasures of the senses and of the intellect with equal success. But what adds a peculiar charm to Cowper is, that his language is every where the language of the heart,

TABLE TALK.

Si te forie meu gravis uret sarcina charta,
Abjicito.

Hor. lib. i. Epist. 13.

A. You told me, I remember, glory, built On selfish principles, is shame and guilt ; The deeds, that men admire as half divine, Stark naught, because corrupt in their design. Strange doctrine this ! that without scruple tears The laurel, that the very lightning spares ; Brings down the warrior's trophy to the dust, And eats into his bloody sword like rust.

1. I grant that, men continuing what they are, Fierce, avaricious, proud, there must be war. And never meant the rule should be applied To him, that fights with justice on his side.

Let laurels, drench'd in pure Parnassian dews, Reward his mern'ry, dear to ev'ry muse, Who, with a courage of unshaken root, In honour's field advancing his firm foot, Plants it upon the line that justice draws, And will prevail or perish in her cause. Tis to the virtues of such men, man owes His portion in the good, that Heav'n bestows. And when recording History displays Fcats of renown, though wrought in ancient days,

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

Tells of a few stout hearts, that fought and died,
Where duty placed them, at their country's side ;
The man, that is not mov'd with what he reads,
That takes not fire at their heroic deeds,
Unworthy of the blessings of the brave,
Is base in kind, and born to be a slave.

But let eternal infamy pursue
The wretch to nought but his ambition true,
Who, for the sake of filling with one blast
The post-horns of all Europe, lays her waste.
Think yourself station'd on a tow'ring rock,
To see a people scatter'd like a flock,
Some royal mastiff panting at their heels,
With all the savage thirst a tiger feels ;
Then view him self-proclaim'd in a gazette
Chief monster that has plagu'd the nations yet.
The globe and sceptre in such hands misplac'd,
Those ensigns of dominion, how disgrac'd :
The glass, that bids man mark the fleeting hour,
And Death's own sithe would better speak hispow'r;
Then grace the bony phantom in their stead
With the king's shoulderknot and gay cockade ;
Clothe the twin brethren in each other's dress,
The same their occupation and success.

4. 'l'is your belief the world was made for mani;
Kings do but reason on the selfsame plan :
Maintaining yours, you cannot theirs condemn,
Who think, or seem to think, man made for them,

B. Seldom, alas! the pow'r of logic reigns
With much sufficiency in royal brains ;
Such reas'ning falls like an inverted cone,
Wanting it's proper base to stand upon.
Man made for kings ! those optics are but dim,
That tell you som-say, rather, they for him.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »