Page images

Invention comes, unfolding every hour
Of steam the almost preternatural power.
What cannot mind achieve whose magic skill
Rules this reluctant element at will?

It may perchance still mightier powers create
That now in depths of night its fiat wait.
Improvement points to paths yet unexplored,
Where realms of science richest spoils afford.

Fame's temple with her thousand portals still
Is placed on high; but all ascend the hill.
Ye few secure yon heights above to keep
Your stations now-is this a time to sleep?
The mild interpreter of Nature now
Had been a Faustus centuries ago;

Nor God nor Dæmon, scarcely prized no more,
He adds his mite unto the common store,
The gain of patient thought: meanwhile increase
Through mutual intercourse the gifts of peace.
Commerce, the nurse of Freedom, rears afar
Her flag triumphant o'er wide-wasting war.
Though Prejudice still struggles to maintain
Her long ascendency, she strives in vain.

The "Georgics of the mind," so widely spread Is knowledge, make the rudest hind well-bred! Beggars in metaphor your alms entreat,

And low-born knaves like Gentlemen can cheat!

Milkmaids write flowing lines on purling rills,
And Owen's happy children dance quadrilles.

Some master minds there are, that still excel
The rest, as Davy's vast discoveries tell;
Unrivall❜d in his art, with what success
He bore the Torch through Chemistry's recess !

From age to age his deep research shall wake

Some genius slumbering else on Lethe's lake,
Whose talents in a moment may, by chance,
For years the knowledge of his art advance.

The sun of science in its noonday blaze
Glorious would strike our Bacon with amaze,
Were he again revisiting this earth,

To view its progress, as he hail'd its birth!

But genius came all-perfect from above,


sprung Minerva from the head of Jove,
Play'd in bold lightnings o'er the Theban's lyre,
And shone round Homer's head a crown of fire:
Fresh as their air, and brilliant as their sky,
Flow'd on the deep stream of their Poesy.
In lovely Greece, while yet the world was young,
Pregnant with intellect such Poets sung;

In that fair clime, by subtle Taste refin'd
Came forth the rich creations of the mind.


Beauty and wit, bright idols of the crowd,
Beneath a veil of allegory glow'd.

Are not our Bards of olden times confest
By all to be more potent than the rest?

Shakspeare, whate'er I may presume to call
Thee, Moralist, Bard, Sage, or all in all;
May I approach thy intellectual throne,
While now all spirits are to thee as known
As once on earth mankind, and bow the knee,
Thou Idol of an English heart, to thee.
What but thy wondrous nature could display
Such perfect samples of the grave and gay?
As Hamlet's melancholy mood we quit
For Hal's light badinage and Falstaff's wit.
Compared with thine, the noblest dramas, fraught
With genius, are but rudiments of thought;
And images the bard profusely pours,
As if he never could exhaust his stores,
On every glowing verse, but give the change
Of a few fancies circumscribed in range.
Invention's unborn sons might yet produce
Works, bending Nature's will to human use;
Another Watt may bless mankind; but when
Shall Shakspeare's inspiration live again?

Shakspeare, the glorious morning-star that cheer'd Our dawn of literature, has disappear'd;

What light has since uprisen to adorn

The noon, as that illumed the purple morn?
One like a meteor (Nations gazed, admired!)
Rush'd on our sight, blazed momently, expired.
Its radiance, flashing on our memory, warms
Us still; in dreams its noble aspect charms.

The rage for all that's marvellous and new
Pervades the crowd, a love of truth but few:
With Shakspeare and the Northern Seer content,
Why heed we what inferior minds invent?

Far as our language spreads, from clime to clime, Is Shakspeare's muse upborne on wings of time: Thousands unborn her glorious flight shall hail:For Nature will be felt when customs fail.

Now Authors come at Fashion's call in haste
To please with varied food the public taste:
Well! they are idols of the day, and have
All that they want-what's fame beyond the grave:
An unsubstantial glare that flickers o'er
Ambition's dangerous eminence, no more—

Let Milton wait posterity's award,

'Tis present gain that charms the modern bard. A bard triumphant, disregarding facts,

Some known event from History's page extracts:

Drawn from a Poem that just praise hath won,
The tale is through a lengthen'd novel spun ;
Here fiction o'er a wider surface blends
Itself with truth, and common sense offends.

Are not the Novelists whose bright renown
Blazed through all Italy-now scarcely known?
Except Boccaccio; (He who reads must smile
At his fine wit, and love his perfect style ;)
And yet the gems that from invention's mine
They drew, than ours more beautifully shine.

A tale of real life by Fashion wove,
Will have its day, and high and low approve.
Another follows, incidents surprise,
And scenes of woe with tears fill loveliest eyes.

As a high-crested wave o'ertops the rest,
Then foaming breaks on Ocean's heaving breast;
Thus towers awhile, his Brother-Bards among,
Some mightier Poet, how sublime in song!
Till, on the wide expanse of ages cast,
He's caught within oblivion's gulf at last!

Since thoughts successive in another sphere Excel those of our brightest moments here, Why should he seek distinction, which acquired, He may hereafter scorn, though now desired!

« PreviousContinue »