Samuel Rogers.

The poems of Samuel Rogers, with a memoir online

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Online LibrarySamuel RogersThe poems of Samuel Rogers, with a memoir → online text (page 1 of 16)
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■ emom of samuel hogers
(talt :

PabtI. I. The Lake of Geneva

II. TKe St. Bernard
fil. The Descent .
IV". Jorasse

V. Marsuerite de Tours

VI. The^Alps .
Til. Como
VIU. Bergamo .

IX. Italy

X. Coil' alto .
XI. Venice .

X!l. Lui-i ....

XIII. St. Mark's Place .

XIV. The Gondola
XV. The Brides of Venice

XVI. Foscari
XVII. Arqua
XVIII. Giiievra
XIX. Bologna .
XX. Florence .
XXr Don Garzia
XXII. The Campagna of Florence
PaetII. I. ThePilsrim .
II. An Interview

III. Rome

IV. A Funeral

V. National Prejudices .
VI. The Campatrna of Rome
Vil. The Roman'Pontiffs
\1H. Caius Cestius
IX. The Nun .
X. Tlie Fire-fly .

XI. Foreisn Travel
Xll The fountain



XITI. RandiUi .
ilV. An Adveiiuire

XV. Naples

XVI. TheBagofG(ild
XVII. A Character

iVllI. Soneiuo
XIX. Pssium .
XX. i\lomo Cassino
XX!. The Harper
XXII. The Felucca .

XXIII. Genoa .

XXIV. A Farewell
Noies and lUuslralions to " llrvly'





The Sailor ....

Wviilen at Midnight, 178G

To Two Sisters

To an Old Oak . .

From Kuripedea

To a Voice that iiad been Lost .

On a Tear

On Asleep .

The Boy of Egremond
A Character ....
To a Friend on his ]\Iarria£re
A Wish . . . . ' .


Caplivily ....

A Farewell

To the Fragment of a Statue of Hercules

Italian Song

From a Greek Epigram

Wriiven in the Highlands of Scotland,

ToihRBuupitly " . for a Temple .

Written in Westminster A iibey .


The Alps by Pay-break

An Inscription . . , ,.

The Pleasures of Memory * .



There seems to l>e something so repugnant
to the pursuits of Ulerature in habits of trade
end commerce, that the instances have been
very rare in which they have been combined in
one individual. The historian of the Medici,
and RoGEKS the Poet, are ahnost solitary in-
stances of hterary taste and talent being united
harmoniously with traffic. Samuel Rogers is a
banker in London, and has been for many years
at the head of a most respectable firm. His
father followed the same business before him,
and amassed considerable wealth, both which
became the heritage of the Poet, who was bom
about the year 1762, in London; but little cr
nothing is known of the way in which he passed
his early years. His education was liberal, no
cost having been spared to render him an ac-
complished scholar. That he improved by
thought and reflection upon the lessons of his
youth, there can be no doubt ; and, it is to be
presumed, he lost no opportunity of reaping
profit from the extraordinary advantages which
ins station obtained for him. He always kept
(he best society, both as respected rank and
talent, the circlf; of v,-hichin the metropolis a''

b MEMOiK OF sami;el rogeks.

England in his younger days was more tlian
commonly brilliant. His political ideas are
what are styled liberal, and no one has ever
been able to reproach him with the abandon-
ment of a single principle with which he ori-
ginally set out in life. Over most of his early
friends and companions the grave has now
closed, and they included among them many
great names.

With a strong attachment for the Muses, after
the excellent education Rogers received, it is
not surprising that he ventured before the pub-
lic. His first work was an " Ode to Supersti-
tion, and other Poems," which appeared in
17S6. This was followed by a second publica-
tion, "The Pleasures of Memory," when he
had passed the greenness of youth, having at-
tained his thirtieth year. In 1792 this poem
was received by the public with universal ap-
plause. The subject was happily chosen, com-
ing home to the business and bosom of all ; it
was executed with great care, and various pas-
sages display uncommon felicity. As a whole,
perhaps its chief defect is that it wants vigour, but
the deficiency in this quaUty is made up in cor-
rectness and harmony. Rogers is one of the most
scrupulous of the sons of the lyre in his metre,
and he too often sacrifices that harshness which
Bets olT the smoother passages of a writer's
works, and prevents sameness and monotony,
to mere cold purity of style. Perhaps no poem
of f qua.! size ei e: cost its author so many boar;!


to produce. Not satisfied with his own coirec-
tions, he repeatedly consulted the taste of some
of his friends ; one of the most devoted of whom,
Richard Sharpe, then a wholesale hatter, and
since Member of Parliament,* has said that,
before the pubhcation of this poem, and while
preparing the successive editions for press, they
had read it together several hundred times,
at homo as well as on the Continent, and in
every temper of mind that vaiied company and
varied scenery could produce.

In the yeir 1798, Rogers published "An
Epistle to a Friend, with other Poems," and in
1812 "The Voyage of Columbus." Two
years afterwards, in conjunction with Lord
Byron, or rather printed in the same volume
with Byron's Lara, appeared his tale of " Jac-
quehne;" a poem which displays a strange
contrast to the fire and energy of the author of
Manfred. Sweet and pleasing rather than strik-
ing, " Jacqueline," though well received, con-
tributed little to increase its author's reputation.
" Human Life," nextlothe"Pleasures of Memo-
ry," is the most finished production of Rogers.
The subject was i good one, for it was drawn

* This gentleman has carried the art of brilliant and
Inleresiing conversation to an uaprecedenied degree of
perfection, having in fact reduced it to a matter of inera
business, aa systematic as Book-Keeping. He ke^ps an
index to his multitudinous commonplace books: and haa
a debtor and creditor account with his ditfereni circles of
the jokes let off or the set speeches made.


fiom universal nature, and connected with all
Jhose rich associations which increase m attrac-
tion as we journey onwards in the path of hfe.
It is an epitome of man from the cradle to the
grave, and is executed throughout with the poet's
wonted care.

The friendship of Rogers with Sheridan and
with Byron is well known. When the great
wit, dramatist, and orator, was near the close
of his career, neglected by those who were fore-
most in the circle of friends when he enjoyed
health and prosperity, the individual who re-
lievied the wants of the dying man was Rogers ;
whose opulence of purse enabled him to do that
act of benevolence .to his friend, which must
ever be one of his most gratifying reminiscences.
It is seldom poets are so well enabled to meet
the aspirations of their hearts towards others.
A dispute, on the appearance of Moore's " Life
of Sheridan," was very warmly kept up con-
nected with this circumstance. It was said that
a friend of Sheridan, of no less rank than a
former King of England himself, had been
among those who, in his last moments, were re-
gardless of the pecuniary necessities of the dy-
ing man ; that at last, when no longer necessary,
a sum of money was sent by the royal order,
which Sheridan returned, saying that it came
too late, a friend having furnished him with all
he should require while life remained. Loyalty
never lacks defenders, or perhaps the Prince of
Wales was not to blame, as tales of distress are


always slow in reaching the t;ars of indiviauals
in august stations. However the matter might
have been, the affair was warmly disputed ia
respect to the implied royal neglect, and re-
mains still in as much uncertainty as ever ; but
Rogers gloriously carried off the palm of friend-
ship and feeling on the occasion, let the truth
lie which side it may, in respect of the tender
from a higher quarter. Byron and Rogers were
on terms of great intimacy, both in England
and during the poet's residence in Italy. In
that medley of truth and falsehood, the " Recol-
lections of Byron" by Medwin, the noble poet
is described as alluding to a singular talent for
epigram, which Rogers is made to possess.
This talent, however, has been very sparingly
employed. Certain buffoons and scribblers in
Sunday newspapers, who have been opposed
from political principles, or rather whose pay at
the moment was on the opposite side to that
taken by the venerable poet, impudently
ascribed a thousand bons-mots and repartees to
Rogers, whom they never saw in their lives,
and which they manufactured themselves. Ilia
skill in writing epigram, however, is acknow-
ledged ; but what he has produced is the work
of the scholar and the gentleman ; for there is
not an individual in existence less likely to tres-
pass on the rules prescribed for the conduct of
either, by the regulations of social intercourse.

Our poet has travelled mn-^h out of his ov/n
count»^7. and he is not less a master of mannera


in the better classes of society abroad than at
home. His " Sketches in Italy," prove that he
was no unobservant sojourner abroad ; and as
his opportunities for observation were great, he
did not fail to profit by them proportionately.—
This may be noticed in his conversation, which
is always amusing and instructive ; and, more
particularly, when, visiting the circles of his
fashionable or learned friends, he becomes the
spokesman on some topic whicli interests him,
and which he sees affording gratification to others.
Rogers never entered upon the stormy ocean
of politics. This is singular, from the number
of his political friends, and the example set him
by his Either. The elder Rogers was renowned
in the annals of parliamentary elections for a
severe contest with Colonel Holroyd, subse-
qiiently Lord Sheffield, in dividing die suffrages
of the city of Coventry, when the obstinacy of
the combat attracted much attention. He has
wisely preferred the gratification of a pure taste,
and the interchanges of urbanity, to the stirring
hazards of political ambition: notwithstanding
which he is a warm partisan of the principles
he has chosen, and understands well how to
maintain them. What he has done every way
proves that he is conscious of his own powers,
b/'t careless of indulging them, though much in
this respect may no doubt be attributed to hia
unceasing attention to the calls of business,
fron? which he never allows himself to be di«
ver ed.


Rogers is now in the " sere and yellow leaf"
of human vegetation. He is the kind, agreea*
ble, affable old man ; but there is nothing be-
yond the good and amiable in character depicted
upon a countenance by no means the best
formed and most impressive of the species, if
the features are separately considered. His
habits are remarkably regular, and his conduct
governed by that urbanity and breeding which
show he has been accustomed to mingle most
in the best society. — He takes a great interest
in all that promotes the improvement of the
state and contributes to the comfort and happi-
ness of his fellow-men. In short, Rogers, like
all men of genius, if possessing certain eccen-
tricities, is gifted with the impress of high in-
tellect which belongs to that character, and
which makes it so distinguished above the herd
of mankind. There is about Rogers, however,
a sort of otium cum dignitate which seems to
repress his energies, and to keep inactive a spirit
which, had it been less indebted to good fortune
and flung more upon its own resources, would
have performed greater things.

Among the friends of Rogers were Fox, Sher
idan, Windham, and a galaxy of distinguished
names, when they were in the zenith of their
glory. To the illustrious nephew of Fox, the
well-known Lord Holland, and to his friends of
the same political party, Rogers still adheres.
He is accounted one of the literary coterie at
Holland He use, the hospitable receptacle of men


of talent from all couiUries and of all creeds. Il6
IS introduced in the Novel of " Glenarvon" at
the court of the Princess of Madagascar (a
character intended for Lady Holland) ; and per-
haps the name of no individual is more on the
lips of a certain fashionable order of persons who
are attached to literary pursuits, than that of
Rogers. His opinion is looked up to, and justly,
as one of great weight ; and though not devoicl
of a certain irritability of temper, his general
good-nature and kindness, — for he shows no
tincture of envy in his character, — contribute
largely to increase the influence and impression
made by his judgment.

Such is the sum of all which "s known of
Samuel Roger?, — a poet who never rises to the
height of Byron or Campbell, but who is of the
same school. He is remarkable principally for
the elegance and grace of his compositions,
which he polishes up and smooths off as if he
valued only their brilliancy and finish, and for-
got that strength and force are essential to poetic
harmony and the perfection of metrical style.
Notwithstanding this defect, Rogers will be
read and admired while the English language
continues to be used or spoken in his native




Dly glimmer'd in the east, and th

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Online LibrarySamuel RogersThe poems of Samuel Rogers, with a memoir → online text (page 1 of 16)