Samuel Rogers.

The complete poetical works of Samuel Rogers; with a biographical sketch, and notes online

. (page 1 of 31)
Online LibrarySamuel RogersThe complete poetical works of Samuel Rogers; with a biographical sketch, and notes → online text (page 1 of 31)
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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by

In the Clerk's Office of the District Conrt of the District of Massachusetts.

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IT is now more than a third of a century since Lord
Byron alluded to the author of "Human Life" as the
Nestor of the living poets. Since that time most of his
then celebrated brethren have passed away ; but the ven-
erable bard still lives, to enjoy the society he adorns, and
the fame which brightens with his years. He has taken
leave of Byron, and Campbell, and Moore, and all his po-
etical rivals and contemporaries ; but he has kept alive the
sentiments and sympathies of his nature, and is still cheered
by the company of younger poets, who regard him with the
genial warmth of old friendship.

It was the consolation of Campbell, in his declining years,
that he had never written a line against religion or virtue.
We may say, with equal truth, of Rogers, that he leaves no
verse which, " dying," he could " wish to blot." Exquisite
taste and judgment pervade everything from his pen. But,
while this purity of style and sentiment renders him a fa-
vorite poet for the study of the young, his great and pecu-


liar merits, we think, are better felt and appreciated, in later
years, by those who have become wearied with the intense
straining for effect, and the passionate eccentricities, of some
of our more recent schools of verse, and recur with fresh
pleasure to pages that are marked everywhere with sim-
plicity, refinement, and tranquil beauty.

It has been our object to furnish an edition of the Com-
plete Poetical Works of Samuel Rogers, in a form so hand-
some that everybody might be pleased to possess It, and so
cheap that anybody might be able to buy. We have thrown
together, in a prefatory memoir, such materials for the per-
sonal and literary life of the author as were within our
reach ; and, among them, we are sure that the admirable
critiques of Mackintosh and Jeffrey will be considered as
imparting additional value to the volume.






" li " Part II., 77



" " " Canto II., 123

" " " Canto III., 125

" " " Canto IV., 128

" " " Canto V., 129

" " " Canto VI., 131

" " Canto vn., 133

" " Canto Vin., 135

" " Canto IX., 137

" " " Canto X., 138

" " " Canto XI., 140

" " " Canto XII., 142




Ode to Superstition, 215

The Sailor, 221

A Wish, 222

An Italian Song, 223

The Alps at Day-break, 223

On a Tear, 224

Written in a Sick Chamber, 225

To two Sisters, 226

To a Friend on his Marriage, 227

Written to be spoken by Mrs. Siddons, 228

To ****** * 5 231

A Farewell, 231

From a Greek Epigram, 232

From Euripides, 232

From an Italian Sonnet, 233

Captivity, 233

Written at Midnight, 233



A Character, 234

To an Old Oak, 234

To the youngest Daughter of Lady * *, 235

To the Gnat, 236

To a Voice that had been Lost, 236

To the Butterfly, 237

An Epitaph on a Robin-redbreast, 238

To the fragment of a Statue of Hercules, 238

To , 239

The Boy of Egremond, 240

Written in the Highlands of Scotland, 241

On ... Asleep, 243

An Inscription in the Crimea, 244

An Inscription for a Temple dedicated to the Graces, 245

Reflections, 245

Written at Midnight, 248

From an Italian Sonnet, 248

Written in Westminster Abbey, 249

Written at Droprnore, 250

Written at Strathfield Saye, 251

Written in July, 1834, 252

Written in 1834, 253

ITALT, 259

The Lake of Geneva, 261

Meillerie, 264

St. Maurice, 266

The Great St. Bernard, 267

The Descent, 271

Jorasse, 273

Marguerite DC Tours, 276

The Brothers, 278

The Alps, 281

Como, 283

Bergamo, 286

Italy, 289

Coll'alto, 290

Venice, 293

Luigi, 298

St. Mark's Place, 300

The Gondola, 306

The Brides of Venice, 309

Foscari, 314

Marcolini, 321

Arqua, 323

Ginerra, 325

Bologna, 328

Florence, 332

Don Garzia, 335

The Campagna of Florence, 338

The Pilgrim, 348

An Interview, 351

Montorio, 3< r >5



Rome, 358

A Funeral, 363

National Prejudices, 366

The Campagna of Home, 368

The Roman Pontiffs, 372

Caius Cestius. 373

The Nun, 374

The Fire-Fly, 376

Foreign Travel, 378

The Fountain, 382

Banditti, 383

An Adventure, 387

Naples, 392

The Bag of Gold, 397

A Character, 403

Pcestum, 404

Amain, 403

Monte Cassino, 411

The Harper, 413

The Felucca, 415

Qenoa, 419

Marco Griffoni, 420

A Farewell, 423


SAMUEL ROGERS was born at Newington Green, a village now form-
ing part of London, about the year 1763, and is now (1854)
upwards of ninety-one years of age. His birth-place was in a local-
ity distinguished by many associations of interest. " In this neigh-
borhood," says William Howitt, in his entertaining work on the
Homes and Haunts of the Most Eminent British Poets, " the Tudor
princes used to live a good deal. Canonbury, between this green
and Islington, was a favorite hunting-seat of Elizabeth, and no doubt
the woods and wastes extended all round this neighborhood. There
is Kingsland, now all built on, there is Henry VIII. 's walk, and
Queen Elizabeth's walk, all in the vicinity ; and this old, quiet green
seems to retain a feeling and an aspect of those times. It is built
round with houses, evidently of a considerable age. There are trees
and quietness about it still. In the centre of the south side is an old
house standing back, which is said to have been inhabited by Henry
VIII. At the end next to Stoke Newington stands an old Presbyte-
rian chapel, at which the celebrated Dr. Price preached, and of
which, afterward, the husband of Mrs. Barbauld was the minister.
Near this chapel De Foe was educated, and the house still remains.
In this green lived, too, Mary Wolstoncroft, being engaged with
another lady in keeping school. Samuel Rogers was born in the
stuccoed house at the south-west corner, which is much older than it
seems. Adjoining it is a large, old garden. Here his father, and
his mother's father, lived before him. By the mother's side he was
descended from the celebrated Philip Henry, the father of Matthew


Henry, and was therefore of an old non-conformist family. Mr.
Rogers' grandfather was a gentleman, pursuing no profession, but
his father engaged in banking." In the banking-house the elder
Rogers amassed considerable wealth, which with his business de-
scended to his son.

But little is known of the early life of the poet. His education
was liberal, and from an early age he was familiar with the lu-st
society of the metropolis. In the year 178G he published his first
volume, with the title of "An Ode to Superstition, and other Poems,"
in which a critic of the time, writing in the Monthly Review, thought
he perceived the " hand of a master."

Six years afterwards he published The Pleasures of Memory, a
poem that attained an immediate popularity, both in England and
in this country. This poem was elaborated with the most consummate
care and art. He submitted it very freely to the censure of his
friends before publication, one of whom, Mr. Richard Sharpe, since
member of Parliament, has said that during the preparation of the
first and second editions he had read it with the poet several hun-
dred times, at home and on the continent, and in every temper of
mind that varied company and varied scenery could produce. " To
the spirit of original observation," says Mr. Allan Cunningham of
this poem, in his History of British Literature, " to the fine pictures
of men and manners, and to the remarks on the social and domestic
condition of the country, which mark the disciples of the newer
school of verse, are added the terseness, smoothness and harmony, of
the old. The poem abounds with capital and brilliant hits ; with
passages which remain on the memory, and may be said to please
rather than enchant one, to take silent possession of the heart,
rather than fill it with immediate rapture. Hazlitt, with some of
that perverseness which even talent is not without, said the chief
fault of Rogers was want of genius and taste. Perhaps in the whole
list of living men of genius no one can be named whose taste in
poetry is so just and delicate. This is apparent in every page of his
compositions ; nay, he is even fastidious in his taste, and rejects
much, in the pictures of manners and feelings which he paints, which
other authors, whose taste is unquestioned, would have used without
scruple. His diction is. pure, and his language has all the necessary
strength, without being swelling or redundant : his words are always


in keeping with the sentiment. He has, in truth, great strength ;
he says much in small compass, and may sometimes be charged with
a too great anxiety to be brief and terse. It was the error of the
school in which his taste was formed to be over anxious about the
harmony and polish of the verse ; and he may be accused of erring
with his teachers. Concerning the composition of The Pleasures of
Memory, it is related that he corrected, transposed and changed,
till he exhausted his own patience ; and then, turning to his friends,
he demanded their opinions, listening to every remark, and weighing
every observation. This plan of correction is liable to serious objec-
tions. The poet is almost sure of losing in dash and vigor more than
what he gains by correctness ; and, as a whole, the work is apt to be
injured, while individual parts are bettered. Poetry is best hit oft' at
one heat of the fancy ; the more it is hammered and wrought on, the
colder it becomes. The sale of The Pleasures of Memory con-
tinued to be large, though The Pleasures of Hope came into the

This production gave its author a high position among the men of
letters who flourished in London during the early part of the present
century. Cumberland, the dramatic author, in the supplement to
his Memoirs, published nearly half a century ago, advised Moore,
who was then known as the translator of Anacreon and the author
of Little's Poems, to " subject his composition to the review of his
correct and judicious friend, Mr. Rogers, (and when so done) he may
surrender himself without fear to the criticism of the world at large.''
"I can visit," said the veteran reminiscent, "the justly-admired
author of The Pleasures of Memory, and find myself with a friend
who together with the brightest genius possesses elegance of manners
and excellence of heart. He tells me he remembers the day of our
first meeting at Mr. Dilly's ; I also remember it, and, though his
modest, unassuming nature held back and shrunk from all appear-
ances of ostentation and display of talents, yet even then I take
credit for discovering a promise of good things to come, and sus-
pected him of holding secret commerce with the Muse, before the
proof appeared in shape of one of the most beautiful and harmonious
poems in our language. I do not say that he has not ornamented
the age he lives in, though he were to stop where he is ; but I hope
he will not so totally deliver himself over to the arts, as to neglect


the Muses ; and I now publicly call upon Samuel Rogers to answer
to his name, and stand forth in the title-page of some future work,
that shall be in substance greater, in dignity of subject more sublime,
and in purity of versification not less charming, than his poem above
mentioned. ' '

In November, 1805, Moore wrote to his mother, " I am just
going to dine third to Rogers and Cumberland : a good poetical step-
ladder we make ; the former is past forty, and the latter past seven-
ty." It was in the pages of the Anthologia Hibernica, for the months
of January and February, 1793, that Moore first read, as a school-
boy, Rogers' Pleasures of Memory, little dreaming that he should
one day become the intimate friend of the author ; and such an im-
pression did it then make upon him, as he tells us in his Memoirs,
that the particular type in which it is there printed, and the very
color of the paper, were through life associated with every line of it
in his memory.

Rogers was an early friend of Lord Byron. The noble poet had
excepted him from the somewhat indiscriminate abuse of the English
Sards and Scotch Reviewers, and had complimented him in lines
which will well bear transcription :

" To the famed throng now paid the tribute dne,
Neglected genius ! let me turn to you.
Come forth, Campbell !* give thy talents scope;
Who dares aspire if thou must cease to hope 1
And thou, melodious Rogers ! rise at last
Recall the pleasing memory of the past.
Arise ! let blest remembrance still inspire,
And strike to wonted tones thy hallowed lyre ;
Restore Apollo to his vacant throne,
Assert thy country's honor and thine own."

This eulogy Moore thinks the disinterested and deliberate result of
the young poet's judgment, as at that time he had never seen Rogers

* It would bo superfluous to recall to the mind of the reader the authors
of " The Pleasures of Memory " and " The Pleasures of Hope," the most
beautiful didactic poems in our language, if we except Pope's " Essay on
Man ;" but so many poetasters have started up, that even the names of
Campbell and Rogers are become strange. Byron's Note.


(with whom he afterwards became intimate) ; and the opinion he then
expressed remained the same through life.

It was in the year 1798 that Kogers published " An Epistle to a
Friend, with other Poems," and he did not appear again as an author
till the year 1812, when he ventured before the world with a frag-
mentary poem entitled The Voyage of Columbus. This poem was
received by the critics with various favor. In a letter written from
Bombay, before its appearance, Sir James Mackintosh had begged to
be particularly remembered to Eogers, and added, " I hope Colum-
bus will soon undertake a new voyage to the East, and that he will
animate the dulness of the one Indies more quickly than he con-
quered the barbarism of the other." When the poem appeared, the
great whig jurist and statesman, no less eminent as a man of letters
and a critic, pronounced his judgment of its merits in the Edinburgh
Review for October, 1813 ; and we feel that we cannot better occupy
the pages we have reserved for a literary memoir of the poet than
by giving this article entire :

" POEMS BY SAMUEL ROGERS : Including Fragments of a Poem called
The Voyage of Columbus. London, 1812.

" It seems very doubtful whether the progress and the vicissitudes'
of the elegant arts can be referred to the operation of general laws,
with the same plausibility as the exertions. of the more robust facul-
ties of the human mind, in the severer forms of science and of useful
art. The action of fancy and of taste seems to be affected by causes
too various and minute to be enumerated with sufficent completeness
for the purposes of philosophical theory. To explain them, may
appear to be as hopeless an attempt as to account for one summer
being more warm and genial than another. The difficulty would be
insurmountable, even in framing the most general outline of a the-
ory, if the various forms assumed by imagination, in the fine arts,
did not depend on some of the most conspicuous as well as powerful
agents in the moral world. But these arise from revolutions of pop-
ular sentiments, and are connected with the opinions of the age, and
with the manners of the refined class, as certainly, though not in so
great a degree, as with the passions of the multitude. The comedy
of a polished monarchy never can be of the same character with that


of a bold and tumultuous democracy. Changes of religion and of
government, civil or foreign ware, conquests which derive splendor
from distance or extent or difficulty, long tranquillity, all these,
and indeed every conceivable modification of the state of a commu-
nity, show themselves in the tone of its poetry, and leave long and
deep traces on every part of its literature. Geometry is the same,
not only at London and Paris, but in the extremes of Athens and
Sauiarcand ; but the state of the general feeling in England, at thin
moment, requires a different poetry from that which delighted our
ancestors in the time of Luther or Alfred.

" During the greater part of the eighteenth century, the connection
of the character of English poetry with the state of the country was
very easily traced. The period which extended from the English to
the French Revolution was the golden age of authentic history.
Governments were secure, nations tranquil, improvements rapid,
manners mild beyond the example of any former age. The English
nation, which possessed the greatest of all human blessings, a
wisely constructed popular government, necessarily enjoyed the
largest share of every other benefit. The tranquillity of that for-
tunate period was not disturbed by any of those calamitous, or even
extraordinary events, which excite the imagination and inflame the
passions. No age was more exempt from the prevalence of any spe-
cies of popular enthusiasm. Poetry, in this state of things, partook
of that calm, argumentative, moral, and directly useful character,
into which it naturally subsides when there are no events to call up
the higher passions, when every talent is allured into the imme-
diate service of a prosperous and improving society, and when wit,
taste, diffused literature, and fastidious criticism, combine to deter
the young writer from the more arduous enterprises of poetical
genius. In such an age, every art becomes rational. Reason is the
power which presides in a calm. But reason guides, rather than
impels ; and, though it must regulate every exertion of genius, it
never can rouse it to vigorous action.

" The school of Dryden and Pope, which prevailed till a very late
period of the last century, is neither the most poetical nor the most
national part of our literary annals. These great poets sometimes,
indeed, ventured into the regions of pure poetry ; but their general
character is, that ' not in fancy's maze they wandered long ; ' and


that they rather approached the elegant correctness of our conti-
nental neighbors, than supported the daring flight, which, in tho
former age, had borne English poetry to a sublimer elevation than
that of any other modern people of the West.

" Towards the middle of the century, great, though quiet changes,
began to manifest themselves in the republic of letters in every Euro-
pean nation which retained any portion of mental activity. About
that time, the exclusive authority of our great rhyming poets began
to be weakened, while new tastes and fashions began to show them-
selves in the political world. A school of poetry must have prevailed
long enough to be probably on the verge of downfall, before its prac-
tice is embodied in a correspondent system of criticism.

" Johnson was the critic of our second poetical school. As far as
his prejudices of a political or religious kind did not disqualify him
for all criticism, he was admirably fitted by nature to be the critic
of this species of poetry. Without more imagination, sensibility or
delicacy, than it required, not always with perhaps quite enough
for its higher parts, he possessed sagacity, shrewdness, experience,
knowledge of mankind, a taste for rational and orderly compositions,
and a disposition to accept, instead of poetry, that lofty and vigorous
declamation in harmonious verse, of which he himself was capable,
and to which his great master sometimes descended. His spontane-
ous admiration scarcely soared above Dryden. ' Merit of a loftier
class he rather saw than felt.' Shakspeare has transcendent excel-
lence of every sort, and for every critic, except those who are repelled
by the faults which usually attend sublime virtues, character and
manners, morality and prudence, as well as imagery and passion.
Johnson did, indeed, perform a vigorous act of reluctant justice
towards Milton ; but it was a proof, to use his own words, that

' At length our mighty bard's victorious lays
Fill tho loud voice of universal praise ;
And baffled Spite, with hopeless anguish dumb,
Yields to renown the centuries to come.'

The deformities of the Life of Gray ought not to be ascribed to jeal-
ousy, for Johnson's mind, though coarse, was not mean, but to
the prejudices of his university, his political faction, and his poetical


sect ; and this lost bigotry is the more remarkable, because it is
exerted against the most skilful and tasteful of innovators, who, in
reviving more poetical subjects and a more splendid diction, has em-
ployed more care and finish than those who aimed only at correct-

" The interval which elapsed between the death of Goldsmith and
the rise of Cowper is perhaps more barren than any other twelve
years in the history of our poetry since the accession of Elizabeth.
It seemed as if the fertile soil was at length exhausted. But it had
in fact only ceased to exhibit its accustomed produce. The estab-
lished poetry had worn out either its own resources, or the constancy
of its readers. Former attempts to introduce novelty had been either
too weak or too early. Neither the beautiful fancy of Collins, nor
the learned and ingenious industry of Warton, nor even the union
of sublime genius with consummate art in Gray, had produced a
general change in poetical composition. But the fulness of time was
approaching ; and a revolution has been accomplished, of which the
commencement nearly coincides not, as we conceive, accidentally
with that of the political revolution which has changed the char-
acter, as well as the condition, of Europe. It has been a thousand
times observed, that nations become weary even of excellence, and
seek a new way of writing, though it should be a worse. But, besides
the operation of satiety, the general cause of literary revolutions,
several particular circumstances seem to have affected the late changes
of our poetical taste ; of which, two are more conspicuous than the

" In the natural progress of society, the songs which are the effusion
of the feelings of a rude tribe are gradually polished into a form of
poetry still retaining the marks of the national opinions, sentiments
and manners, from which it originally sprung. The plants are im-
proved by cultivation ; but they are still the native produce of the
soil. The only perfect example which we know, of this sort, ia
Greece. Knowledge and useful art, and perhaps in a great measure
religion, the Greeks received from the East ; but, as they studied no
foreign language, it was impossible that any foreign literature should
influence the progress of theirs. Not even the name of a Persian,
Assyrian, Phenician, or Egyptian poet is alluded to by any Greek
writer. The Greek poetry was, therefore, wholly national. ThO


Pelasgic ballads were insensibly formed into Epic, and Tragic, and
Lyric poems ; but the heroes, the opinions, and the customs, con-
tinued as exclusively Grecian as they had been when the Hellenic
minstrels knew little beyond the Adriatic and the JEgean. The lit-
erature of Rome was a copy from that of Greece. When the classi-
cal studies revived amid the chivalrous manners and feudal institu-
tions of Gothic Europe, the imitation of ancient poets struggled
against the power of modern sentiments, with various event, in
different times and countries, but everywhere in such a manner as
to give somewhat of an artificial and exotic character to poetry.
Jupiter and the Muses appeared in the poems of Christian nations.
The feelings and principles of democracies were copied by the gentle-
men of Teutonic monarchies or aristocracies. The sentiments of the
poet in his verse were not those which actuated him in his conduct.
The forms and rules of composition were borrowed from antiquity,
instead of spontaneously arising from the manner of thinking of
modern communities. In Italy, when letters first revived, the chiv-

Online LibrarySamuel RogersThe complete poetical works of Samuel Rogers; with a biographical sketch, and notes → online text (page 1 of 31)