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"Non cuicunque datum est habere Nasam."

I should be afraid of being thought a pedant for my quotation, did not I know that the gentleman I am writing to always carrys a Horace in his pocket.'

The same taste which led Addison, as we have seen, to censure as fulsome the wild and gorgeous genius of Spenser, made him look with indifference, if not aversion, on the splendid scenery of the Alps: I am just arrived at Geneva,' he says, 'by a very troublesome journey over the Alps, where I have been for some days together shivering among the eternal snows. My head is still giddy with mountains and precipices, and you can't imagine how much I am pleased with the sight of a plain, that is as agreeable to me at present as a shore was about a year ago, after our tempest at Genoa.'

The matured powers of Addison show little of this tame prosaic feeling. The higher of his essays, and his criticism on the Paradise Lost, betray no insensibility to the nobler beauties of creation, or the sublime effusions of genius. His conceptions were enlarged, and his mind expanded, by that literary study and reflection from which his political ambition never divorced him even in the busiest and most engrossing period of his life.

[From the Letter from Italy.]

For wheresoe'er I turn my ravish'd eyes,
Gay gilded scenes and shining prospects rise;
Poetic fields encompass me around,
And still I seem to tread on classic ground;1
For here the muse so oft her harp has strung,
That not a mountain rears its head unsung;
Renown'd in verse each shady thicket grows,
And every stream in heavenly numbers flows.
See how the golden groves around me smile,
That shun the coast of Britain's stormy isle;
Or when transplanted and preserved with care,
Curse the cold clime, and starve in northern air.
Here kindly warmth their mounting juice ferments
To nobler tastes, and more exalted scents;
Even the rough rocks with tender myrtle bloom,
And trodden weeds send out a rich perfume.
Bear me, some god, to Baia's gentle seats,
Or cover me in Umbria's green retreats;
Where western gales eternally reside,
And all the seasons lavish all their pride;
Blossoms, and fruits, and flowers together rise,
And the whole year in gay confusion lies.
How has kind heaven adorn'd the happy land,
And scatter'd blessings with a wasteful hand!
But what avail her unexhausted stores,
Her blooming mountains, and her sunny shores,
With all the gifts that heaven and earth impart,
The smiles of nature, and the charms of art,
While proud oppression in her valleys reigns,
And tyranny usurps her happy plains?
The poor inhabitant beholds in vain

*

The redd'ning orange, and the swelling grain:
Joyless he sees the growing oils and wines,
And in the myrtle's fragrant shade repines:
Starves in the midst of nature's bounty curst,
And in the loaded vineyard dies for thirst.

O liberty, thou goddess heavenly bright,
Profuse of bliss, and pregnant with delight!
Eternal pleasures in thy presence reign,
And smiling plenty leads thy wanton train;
Eas'd of her load, subjection grows more light,
And poverty looks cheerful in thy sight;
Thou mak'st the gloomy face of nature gay,
Giv'st beauty to the sun, and pleasure to the day.
Thee, goddess, thee, Britannia's isle adores;
How has she oft exhausted all her stores,
How oft in fields of death thy presence sought,
Nor thinks the mighty prize too dearly bought!
On foreign mountains may the sun refine
The grape's soft juice, and mellow it to wine;
With citron groves adorn a distant soil,
And the fat olive swell with floods of oil:
We envy not the warmer clime, that lies

In ten degrees of more indulgent skies;

Nor at the coarseness of our heaven repine,
Though o'er our heads the frozen Pleiads shine:

'Tis liberty that crowns Britannia's isle,

And makes her barren rocks and her bleak mountains smile.

Ode.

How are thy servants blest, O Lord!

How sure is their defence!

Eternal wisdom is their guide,

Their help Omnipotence.

In foreign realms, and lands remote,

Supported by thy care,

Through burning climes I pass'd unhurt,

And breathed in tainted air.

1 Malone states that this was the first time the phrase classic ground, since so common, was ever used. It was ridiculed by some contemporaries as very quaint and affected.

Thy mercy sweeten'd every soil,
Made every region please;
The hoary Alpine hills it warm'd,
And smooth'd the Tyrrhene seas.

Think, O my soul! devoutly think,
How, with affrighted eyes,
Thou saw'st the wide-extended deep
In all its horrors rise.

Confusion dwelt on every face,

And fear in every heart,

When waves on waves, and gulfs on gulfs,
O'ercame the pilot's art.

Yet then from all my griefs, O Lord!
Thy mercy set me free;
Whilst in the confidence of prayer

My soul took hold on thee.

For though in dreadful whirls we hung
High on the broken wave,*

I knew thou wert not slow to hear,
Nor impotent to save.

The storm was laid, the winds retir'd,
Obedient to thy will;

The sea that roar'd at thy command,
At thy command was still.

In midst of dangers, fears, and death,
Thy goodness I'll adore;
I'll praise thee for thy mercies past,
And humbly hope for more.

My life, if thou preserv'st my life,
Thy sacrifice shall be;
And death, if death must be my doom,
Shall join my soul to thee.

Ode.

The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great original proclaim:
Th' unwearied sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator's power display,
And publishes to every land
The work of an Almighty hand.

Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wond'rous tale,
And nightly to the list'ning earth
Repeats the story of her birth:
Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,

And spread the truth from pole to pole.

What, though in solemn silence, all
Move round the dark terrestrial ball?
What though nor real voice nor sound
Amid their radiant orbs be found?
In reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
For ever singing, as they shine,
The hand that made us is divine.

*The earliest composition that I recollect taking any pleasure in was the Vision of Mirza, and a hymn of Addison's, beginning," How are thy servants blest, O Lord!" I particularly remember one half-stanza, which was music to my boyish ear:

"For though in dreadful whirls we hung
High on the broken wave."'

Burns-Letter to Dr Moore.

[The Battle of Blenheim.]
[From The Campaign."]

But now the trumpet terrible from far,
In shriller clangours animates the war;
Confed'rate drums in fuller concert beat,
And echoing hills the loud alarm repeat:
Gallia's proud standards to Bavaria's join'd,
Unfurl their gilded lilies in the wind;
The daring prince his blasted hopes renews,
And while the thick embattled host he views
Stretch'd out in deep array, and dreadful length,
His heart dilates, and glories in his strength.

The fatal day its mighty course began,
That the griev'd world had long desir'd in vain ;
States that their new captivity bemoan'd,
Armies of martyrs that in exile groan'd,
Sighs from the depth of gloomy dungeons heard,
And prayers in bitterness of soul preferr'd;
Europe's loud cries, that providence assail'd,
And Anna's ardent vows, at length prevail'd;
The day was come when Heav'n design'd to show
His care and conduct of the world below.

Behold, in awful march and dread array
The long-extended squadrons shape their way!
Death, in approaching, terrible, imparts
An anxious horror to the bravest hearts;
Yet do their beating breasts demand the strife,
And thirst of glory quells the love of life.
No vulgar fears can British minds control;
Heat of revenge, and noble pride of soul,
O'erlook the foe, advantag'd by his post,
Lessen his numbers, and contract his host;
Though fens and floods possess'd the middle space,
That unprovok'd they would have fear'd to pass;
Nor fens nor floods can stop Britannia's bands,
When her proud foe rang❜d on their borders stands.

But O, my muse, what numbers wilt thou find
To sing the furious troops in battle join'd!
Methinks I hear the drum's tumultuous sound,
The victor's shouts and dying groans confound;
The dreadful burst of cannon rend the skies,
And all the thunder of the battle rise.
"Twas then great Marlbro's mighty soul was prov'd,
That, in the shock of charging hosts unmov'd,
Amidst confusion, horror, and despair,
Examin'd all the dreadful scenes of war;
In peaceful thought the field of death survey'd,
To fainting squadrons sent the timely aid,
Inspir'd repuls'd battalions to engage,
And taught the doubtful battle where to rage.
So when an angel, by divine command,
With rising tempests shakes a guilty land,
Such as of late o'er pale Britannia pass'd,
Calm and serene he drives the furious blast,
And, pleas'd th' Almighty's orders to perform,
Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.

[The concluding simile of the angel has been much celebrated, and was so admired by the lord treasurer, that on seeing it, without waiting for the completion of the poem, he rewarded the poet by appointing him, in the place of Mr Locke (who had been promoted), a commissioner of appeals.]

[From the Tragedy of Cato.]

Act iv.-Scene iv.

Re-enter PORTIUS.

Hah! what has he done?

Portius. Scarce had I left my father, but I met him
Borne on the shields of his surviving soldiers,
Breathless and pale, and cover'd o'er with wounds.
Long at the head of his few faithful friends
He stood the shock of a whole host of foes;
Till obstinately brave, and bent on death, ́
Opprest with multitudes, he greatly fell.
Cato. I'm satisfied.

Portius.

Nor did he fall before
His sword had pierced through the false heart of
Syphax.

Yonder he lies. I saw the hoary traitor

Grin in the pangs of death, and bite the ground.
Cato. Thanks to the gods! my boy has done his
duty.

Portius, when I am dead, be sure thou place
His urn near mine.

Portius.
Long may they keep asunder!
Lucius. O Cato! arm thy soul with all its patience;
See where the corse of thy dead son approaches!
The citizens and senators, alarmed,
Have gather'd round it, and attend it weeping.

Cato. [meeting the corpse.]

Welcome, my son! here lay him down, my friends,
Full in my sight, that I may view at leisure
The bloody corse, and count those glorious wounds.
How beautiful is death, when earn'd by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? what pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country!
Why sits this sadness on your brows, my friends!
I should have blushed if Cato's house had stood
Secure, and flourished in a civil war.
Portius, behold thy brother, and remember
Thy life is not thy own when Rome demands it.
Juba. Was ever man like this!
Cato.
Alas! my friends,

[Aside.

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Cato. Whate'er the Roman virtue has subdued,
The sun's whole course, the day and year, are Cæsar's.
For him the self-devoted Decii died,
The Fabii fell, and the great Scipios conquered:
Even Pompey fought for Cæsar. Oh ! my friends!
How is the toil of fate the work of ages.
The Roman empire fallen! O curst ambition!
Fallen into Cæsar's hands! our great forefathers
Had left him nought to conquer but his country.
Juba. While Cato lives, Cæsar will blush to see
Mankind enslaved, and be ashamed of empire.
Cato. Cæsar ashamed! has not he seen Pharsalia!
Lucius. Cato, 'tis time thou save thyself and us.
Cato. Lose not a thought on me, I'm out of
Heaven will not leave me in the victor's hand.
danger.
Cæsar shall never say I conquer'd Cato.
But oh my friends, your safety fills my heart
With anxious thoughts: a thousand secret terrors
Rise in my soul: how shall I save my friends!
'Tis now, O Cæsar, I begin to fear thee!
Lucius. Cæsar has mercy, if we ask it of him.
Cato. Then ask it, I conjure you! let him know
Whate'er was done against him, Cato did it.

Portius. Misfortune on misfortune! grief on grief! Add, if you please, that I request it of him,
My brother Marcus
Cato.
Has he forsook his post? has he given way!
Did he look tamely on, and let them pass?

The virtue of my friends may pass unpunish'd.
Juba, my heart is troubled for thy sake.
Should I advise thee to regain Numidia,
Or seek the conqueror !

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a.

If I forsake thee

1st I have life, may heaven abandon Juba! ato. Thy virtues, prince, if I foresee aright, ill one day make thee great; at Rome, hereafter, will be no crime to have been Cato's friend. ortius, draw near! My son, thou oft has seen

sire engaged in a corrupted state,

estling with vice and faction: now thou seest me spent, overpower'd, despairing of success: Let me advise thee to retreat betimes To thy paternal seat, the Sabine field, Where the great Censor toiled with his own hands, And all our frugal ancestors were blest In humble virtues and a rural life.

There live retired; pray for the peace of Rome;
Content thyself to be obscurely good.

When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway,
The post of honour is a private station.

Portius. I hope my father does not recommend
A life to Portius that he scorns himself.

Cato. Farewell, my friends! if there be any of you
Who dare not trust the victor's clemency,
Know, there are ships prepared by my command
(Their sails already opening to the winds)
That shall convey you to the wish'd-for port.
Is there aught else, my friends, I can do for you?
The conqueror draws near. Once more farewell!
If e'er we meet hereafter, we shall meet

In happier climes, and on a safer shore,
Where Cæsar never shall approach us more.

[Pointing to his dead son. There the brave youth, with love of virtue fired, Who greatly in his country's cause expired, Shall know he conquer'd. The firm patriot there (Who made the welfare of mankind his care), Though still, by faction, vice, and fortune crost, Shall find the generous labour was not lost.

Act V.-Scene I.

[CATO alone, sitting in a thoughtful posture: in his hand PLATO's book on the Immortality of the Soul. A drawn sword on the table by him.]

It must be so-Plato, thou reason'st well!-
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?

Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
Of falling into nought? why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction?
'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
"Tis heaven itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
Through what variety of untried being,
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass?
The wide, th' unbounded prospect, lies before me;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.
Here will I hold. If there's a power above us,
(And that there is, all nature cries aloud
Through all her works), he must delight in virtue;
And that which he delights in must be happy.
But when? or where? This world was made for
Cæsar.

I'm weary of conjectures. This must end them.
[Laying his hand on his sword.
Thus am I doubly arm'd: my death and life,
My bane and antidote are both before me:
This in a moment brings me to an end;
But this informs me I shall never die.
The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years;
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the wars of elements,

The wrecks of matter, and the crush of worlds.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic]

Jon at: Swift.

which he was early familiar, seem to have su.k deep in his haughty soul. Born a posthumous child,' says Sir Walter Scott, and bred up an object of charity, he early adopted the custom of observing his birth-day as a term, not of joy, but of sorrow, and of reading, when it annually recurred, the striking passage of Scripture in which Job laments and execrates the day upon which it was said in his father's house "that a man-child was born."" Swift was sent to Trinity college, Dublin, whicn he left in his twenty first year, and was received into the house of Sir William Temple, a distant relation of his mother. Here Swift met King William, and indulged hopes of preferment, which were never realised. In 1692 he repaired to Oxford, for the purpose of taking his degree of M.A., and shortly after obtaining this distinction he resolved to quit the establishment of Temple and take orders in the Irish church. He procured the prebend of Kilroot, in the diocese of Connor, but was soon disgusted with the life of an obscure country clergyman with an income of £100 a-year. He returned to Moorpark, the house of Sir William Temple, and threw up his living at Kilroot. Temple died in 1699, and the poet was glad to accompany Lord Berkeley to Ireland in the capacity of chaplain. From this nobleman he obtained the rectory of Aghar, and the vicarages of Laracor and Rathveggan; to which

35

was afterwards added the prebend of Dunlavin, making his income only about £200 per annum. At Moorpark, Swift had contracted an intimacy with Miss Hester Johnson, daughter of Sir William Temple's steward, and, on his settlement in Ireland, this lady, accompanied by another female of middle age, went to reside in his neighbourhood. Her future life was intimately connected with that of Swift, and he has immortalised her under the name of Stella.

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But books, and time, and state affairs,
Had spoiled his fashionable airs
He now could praise, esteem, approve,
But understood not what was love:
His conduct might have made him styled
A father, and the nymph his child.
That innocent delight he took
To see the virgin mind her book,
Was but the master's secret joy

sidence of the unhappy Vanessa. 'As he entered
the apartment,' to adopt the picturesque language
of Scott in recording the scene, the sternness of his
countenance, which was peculiarly formed to express
the stronger passions, struck the unfortunate Vanessa
with such terror, that she could scarce ask whether
he would not sit down. He answered by flinging a
letter on the table; and instantly leaving the house,
mounted his horse, and returned to Dublin. When
Vanessa opened the packet, she only found her own
letter to Stella. It was her death-warrant.
sunk at once under the disappointment of the delayed
yet cherished hopes which had so long sickened her
heart, and beneath the unrestrained wrath of him
for whose sake she had indulged them. How long
she survived this last interview is uncertain, but
the time does not seem to have exceeded a few
weeks.'*

She

In school to hear the finest boy. In 1701, Swift became a political writer on the The tragedy continued to deepen as it approached side of the Whigs, and on his visits to England, he the close. Eight years had Vanessa nursed in soliassociated with Addison, Steele, and Arbuthnot. In tude the hopeless attachment. At length she wrote 1710, conceiving that he was neglected by the mito Stella, to ascertain the nature of the connexion nistry, he quarrelled with the Whigs, and united with between her and Swift; the latter obtained the fatal Harley and the Tory administration. He was re-letter, and rode instantly to Marley abbey, the received with open arms. I stand with the new people,' he writes to Stella, ten times better than ever I did with the old, and forty times more caressed.' He carried with him shining weapons for party warfare - irresistible and unscrupulous satire, steady hate, and a dauntless spirit. From his new allies, he received, in 1713, the deanery of St Patrick's. During his residence in England, he had engaged the affections of another young lady, Esther Vanhomrigh, who, under the name of Vanessa, rivalled Stella in poetical celebrity, and in personal misfortune. After the death of her father, this young lady and her sister retired to Ireland, where their father had left a small property near Dublin. Human nature has, perhaps, never before or since presented the spectacle of a man of such transcendent powers as Swift involved in such a pitiable labyrinth of the affections. His pride or ambition led him to postpone indefinitely his marriage with Stella, to whom he was early attached. Though, he said, he loved her better than his life a thousand millions of times,' he kept her hanging on in a state of hope deferred, injurions alike to her peace and her reputation. Did he fear the scorn and laughter of the world, if he should marry the obscure daughter of Sir William Temple's steward? He dared not afterwards, with manly sincerity, declare his situation to Vanessa, when this second victim avowed her passion. He was flattered that a girl of eighteen, of beauty and accomplishments, sighed for a gown of forty-four,' and he did not stop to weigh the consequences. The removal of Vanessa to Ireland, as Stella had gone before, to be near the presence of Swift her irrepressible passion, which no coldness or neglect could extinguish- her life of deep seclusion, only chequered by the occasional visits of Swift, each of which she commemorated by planting with her own hand a laurel in the garden where they met her agonizing remonstrances, when all her devotion and her offerings had failed, are touching beyond expression.

The reason I write to you,' she says, is because I cannot tell it to you, should I see you. For when I begin to complain, then you are angry; and there is something in your looks so awful, that it strikes me dumb. O! that you may have but so much regard for me left, that this complaint may touch your soul with pity. I say as little as ever I can. Did you but know what I thought, I am sure it would move you to forgive me, and believe that I cannot help telling you this, and live.'

To a being thus agitated and engrossed with the strongest passion, how poor, how cruel, must have seemed the return of Swift!

Cadenus, common forms apart,

In every scene had kept his heart;

Had sighed and languished, vowed and writ,
For pastime, or to stw his wit;

Even Stella, though ultimately united to Swift, dropped into the grave without any public recogni tion of the tie; they were married in secrecy in the garden of the deanery, when on her part all but life had faded away. The fair sufferers were deeply avenged. But let us adopt the only charitableperhaps the just-interpretation of Swift's conduct; the malady which at length overwhelmed his reason might then have been lurking in his frame; the heart might have felt its ravages before the intellect. A comparison of dates proves that it was some years before Vanessa's death that the scene occurred which has been related by Young, the author of the Night Thoughts.' Swift was walking with some friends in the neighbourhood of Dublin. Perceiving he did not follow us,' says Young, *1

* The talents of Vanessa may be seen from her letters to Swift. They are further evinced in the following Ode to Spring, in which she alludes to her unhappy attachment:—

Hail, blushing goddess, beauteous Spring!
Who in thy jocund train dost bring
Loves and graces-smiling hours-
Balmy breezes-fragrant flowers;
Come, with tints of roseate hue,
Nature's faded charms renew!

Yet why should I thy presence hail?
To me no more the breathing gale
Comes fraught with sweets, no more the rose
With such transcendent beauty blows,
As when Cadenus blest the scene,
And shared with me those joys serene.
When, unperceived, the lambent fire
Of friendship kindled new desire;
Still listening to his tuneful tongue,
The truths which angels might have sung,
Divine imprest their gentle sway,
And sweetly stole my soul away.
My guide, instructor, lover, friend,
Dear names, in one idea blend ;
Oh! still conjoined, your incense rise,
And waft sweet odours to the skies!

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