Samuel Rogers.

The poems of Samuel Rogers, with a memoir online

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Forgets the cold indifference of moa'/
-Soon through the gaddin;j vli.e the sua

.ooks iU;



HUMAN LIFE. 231

And gendc hands the breakfast-rite begin.
Then the bright kettle sings its matin-song,
Then fragrant clouds of Mocha and Souchong
Blend as they rise ; and (while without are seen.
Sure of their meal, the small birds on the green ;
And in from far a school-boy's letter flies,
Flashing the sister's cheek with glad surprise)
That sheet unfolds (who reads, that reads it not ?)
Born with the day and with the day forgot ;
Its ample page various as human life,
The pomp, the woe, the bustle and the strife !

But nothing lasts. In Autumn at his plow
Met and solicited, behold him now
Leaving that humbler sphere his fathers knew,
The sphere that Wisdom loves — and Virtue too,
She who subsists not on the vain applause
Misjudging man now gives and now withdraws.

"T was morn — the sky-lark o'er the furrow
sung,
As from his lips the slow consent was wrung ;
As from the glebe his fathers till'd of old,
The plow they guided in an age of gold,
Down by the beech-wood side he turn'd away :—
And now behold him in an evil day
Serving the State again — not as before.
Not foot to foot, the war-whoop at his door,—
But in the Senate : and (though round him fly
The j'^st, the sneer, the subtle sophistry.
With honest dignity, with manly sense.
And every charm of natural eloquence,
Like Hampden struggling in his Country'^
cause,



232 HU3IAN LIFE.

The first, the foremost to obey the laws,
The last to brook oppression. On he moves,
Careless of blame while his own heart approves,
Careless of ruin — (" For the general good
'T is not the first time I shall shed my blood.")
On through that gate misnamed, through which

before
Went Sidney, Russel, Raleigh, Cranmer, More,
On into twilight within walls of stone,
Then to the place of trial ; and alone.
Alone before his judges in array
Stands for his life : there, on that awful day.
Counsel of friends — all human help denied —
All but from her who sits the pen to guide,
Like that sweet Saint who sate by Russel's side.
Under the Judgment-seat, — But guilty men
Triumph not always. To his hearth again,
Again with honour to his hearth restored,
Lo, in the accustom' d chair and at the board.
Thrice greeting those who most withdraw theil

claim,
(The lowliest servant calling by his name)
He reads thanksgiving in the eyes of all.
All met as at a holy festival !
—On the day destined for his funeral !
Lo, there the Friend, who entering where ha

lay.
Breathed in his drowsy ear, " Away, away.'
Take thou my cloak— Nay, start not, but obey —
Take it and leave me." And the blushing

aiaid,



HUMAN LIFE. 23S

Who throfugh the streets as through a desert

stray'd ;
And, when her dear, dear Father pass'd along,
Would not be held — but, bursting through the

throng,
Halberd and battle-axe — kiss'd him o'er and

o'er ;
Then turn'd and went — then sought him as

before,
Believing she should see his face no more !
And oh, how changed at once — no heroine here,
But a weak, woman worn with grief and fear,
Her darling Mother! 'Twas but now she

smiled.
And now she weeps upon her weeping child
— But who sits by, her only wish below
At length fulfiU'd— and now prepared to go ?
His hands on hers — as through the mists of night
She gazes on him with imperfect sight ;
Her glory now, as ever her delight !
To her, methinks, a second Youth is given ;
The light upon her face a light from Heaven !

An hour like this is worth a thousand pass'd
In pomp or ease — 'T is present to the last !
Years glide away untold — 'Tis still the same!
As fresh, as fair as on the day it came !

And now once more where most he loved to be
In his own fields — breathing tranquility —
We hail him — not less happy, Fox, than thea!
Thee at S'.. Anne's so soon of care beguiled,
Playful, sincere, and artless as a chila!



234 HUMAN LIFE.

Thee, who wouldst watch a bird's nest on tho

spray
Through tlie green leaves exploring, day by day.
How oft from grove to grove, from peat to seat,
With thee conversing in thy loved retreat,
I saw the sun go down ! — Ah, then 't was

thine
Ne'er to forget some volume half divine,
Shakspear's or Dryden's — through the chequer'd

shade
Borne in thy hand behind thee as we stray'd ;
And where we sate (and many a halt we made)
To read there with a fervour all thy own,
And in thy grand and melancholy tone.
Some splendid passage not to thee unknown,
Fit theme for long discourse — Thy bell has

toll'd !
— But in thy place among us we behold
One who resembles thee.

'T is the sixth hour.
The village-clock strikes from the distant tower.
The plowman leaves the field; the traveller

hears,
And to the inn spurs forwara. Nature wears
Her sweetest smile ; the day-star in the west
Yet hovering, and the thistle's down at rest.
And such, his labour done, the calm He

knows.
Whose footsteps we have follovv'd. Round him

glows
An atmosphere t\iat brightens to the last



HU3IAN LIFE. 235

The light, .hat shines, reflected from the Past,
— And from the Future too ! Active in Thought
Among old books, old friends ; and not un-
sought
By the wise stranger — in his morning-hours,
AVhen gentle airs stir the fresh-blowing flowers,
He muses, turning up the idle weed ;
Or prunes or grafts, or in the yellow mead
Watches his bees at hiving-time ; and now,
The ladder resting on the orchard-bough,
Culls the delicious fruit that hangs in air,
The purple plum, green fig, or golden pear,
'^iMid sparkling eyes, and hands uplifted therew
At night, when all, assembling round the fire,
Closer and closer draw till they retire,
A tale is told of India or Japan,
Of merchants from Golcond or Astracan,
^Vhat time wild Nature revell'd unrestrain'd.
And Sinbad voyaged and the Caliphs reign'd :—
Of some Norwegian, while the icy gale
Rings in her shrouds and beats her iron-sail,
Among the snowy Alps of Polar seas
Im.movable — for ever there to freeze !
Or some great caravan, from well to well
Winding as darkness on the desert fell,
In their long march, such as the Prophet bids,
To Mecca from the land of Pyramids,
And in an instant lost — a hollow wave
Of burning sand their everlasting grave! —
Now the scene shifts to Venice — to a square
Glittering with light, all nations masking there,
With light re£?cted on the tremulous tide,



236 HUMAN LIFE.

Where gondolas in gay confusion glide,
Answering the jest, the song on every side ;
To Naples next — and at the crowded gate,
Where Grief and Fear and wild Amazement

wait,
Lo, on his back a Son brings in his Sire,
Vesuvius blazing like a World on fire ! —
Then, at a sign that never was forgot,
A strain breaks forth (who hears and loves it

not?)
From lute or organ ! 'T is at parting given,
That in their slumbers they may dream of

Heaven ;
Young voices mingling as it floats along.
In Tuscan air or Handel's sacred song !

And She inspires, whose beauty shines in all ;
So soon to weave a daughter's coronal,
And at the nuptial rite smile through her

tears ; —
So soon to hover round her full of fears.
And with assurance sweet her soul revive
In child-birth — when a mother's love is most

alive.
No, 't is not here that Solitude is known,
Through the wide world he only is alone
Who lives not for another. Come what will,
The generous man has his companion still ;
The cricket on his hearth ; .he buzzing fly
That skims his roof, or, be his roof the sky.
Still with its note of gladness passes by:
And, in an iron cage condemn'd to dwell,
Tfea cage that stands within the dungeon-cell,



BUMAKT LIFE. &37

H^ feeds his spider— happier at the worst
Than he at large who in himself is curst.

O thou all-eloquent, whose mighty mind
Streams from the depth of ages on mankind,
Streams hke the day— who, angel-like, ba»«

shed
Thy full eflTulgeuce on the hoary head.
Speaking in Cato's venerable voice,
" Look up, and faint not — faint not, bm r6«

joice !""
From thy Elysium guide him. Age has novf
Stamp'd with its signet that ingenious brow ;
And, 'mid his old hereditary trees.
Trees he has climb'd so oft, he sits and sees
His children's children playing round his knees ;
Then happiest, youngest, when the quoit is

flung,
"When side by side the archer's bows are

strung ;
His to prescribe the place, adjudge the prize,
Envying no more the young their energies
Than they an old man when his words are wise ;
His a delight how pure — without alloy ;
Strong in their strength, rejoicing in their joy !

Now in their turn assisting, they repay
The anxious cares of many and many a day ;
And now by those he loves relieved, restored,
His very wants and weaknesses afford
A feeling of enjoyment. In his walks,
Leaning on them, how oft he stops and talks,
While they look up! Their questions, their

replies,



£38 HUMAN LIFE.

Fresh as the welling waters, round him rise,
Gladdening his spirit: and, his theme the past,
How eloquent he is ! His thoughts flow fast,
And, while his heart (oh can the heart grow old ?
False are the tales that in the World are told !)
Swells in his voice, he knows not where to end ;
Like one discoursing of an absent friend.

But there are moments which he calls his own,
Then, never less alone than when alone,
Those that he loved so long and sees no more,
Loved and still loves — not dead — but gone

before.
He gathers round him ; and revives at will
Scenes in his life — that breathe enchantment

still—
That come not now at dreary i-ntervals" —
But where a light as from the Blessed falls,
A light such guests bring ever — pure and holy-
Lapping the soul in sweetest melancholy.
—Ah then less willing (nor the choice condemn)
To live with others than to think on them !

And now behold him up the hill ascending,
Memory and Hope like evening-stars attending ;
Sustain'd, excited, till his course is run,
By deeds of virtue done or to be done.
When on his couch he sinks at length to rest,
Those by his counsel saved, his power redress'd,
Those by the World shunn'd ever as unblest.
At whom the rich man's dog growls from the

gate,
But whom he sought out, sitting desolate,



HUMAN LIFE. 239

Come and stand round — tne widow with her

child,
As when she first forgot her tears and smiled !
They, who watch by him, see not ; but he sees,
Sees and exults — Were ever dreams Hke these ?
They, who watch by him, hear not; but he hears,
And earth recede?, and Heaven itself appears !
'T is past! That hand we grasp' d, alas, in vain!
Nor shall we look upon his face again !
But to his closing eyes, for all were there,
Nothing was wanting; and, through many a year,
We shall remember with a fond delight
The words so precious which we heard to-night;
His parting, though awhile our sorrow flows.
Like setting suns or music at the close !

Then was the drama ended. Not till then,
•So full of chance and change the lives of men,
Could we pronounce him happy. Then secure
From pain, from grief, from all that we endure,
He slept in peace — say rather soar'd to Heaven,,
Upborne from Earth by Him to whom'tia

given
In his right hand to hold the golden key
That opes the portals of Eternity.
—When by a good man's grave I muse alone,
Methinks an angel sits upon the stone ;
Like those of old, on that thrice-hallow'd night.
Who sate and watch' d in raiment heavenly-
bright ;
And, with a voice inspiring joy, not fear,
Says, pointing upward, that he is not here,
That he is risen !



240 HUMAN LIFE.

But the day is spent ,
And stars are kindling in the firmament,
To us how silent — though Uke ours perchanca
Busy and full of life and circumstance ;
Where some the paths of Weilih and Powei

pursue,
Of Pleasure some, of Happiness a few ;
And, as the sun goes round — a sun not ours —
While from her lap another Nature showers
Gifts of her own, some from the crowd retire,
Think on themselves, within, without inquire ;
At distance dwell on all that passes there,
All that their world reveals of good and fair ;
And, as they wan-der, picturing things, like me,
Not as they are, but as they ought to be.
Trace out the Journey through their little Day,
And fondly dream an idle hour away.



AN EPISTLE TO A FRIEND



Villula, et pauper agelle,

Meiibi, ei hos una meciun, et quos semper amavi,
Commendo.



PREFACE.

EvEKY reader turns with pleasure to those
passages of Horace, and Pope, and Boileau,
which describe how they lived and where they
dwelt; and which, being interspersed among
their satirical writings, derive a secret and irre-
sistible grace from the contrast, and are admira-
ble examples of what in Painting is termed re-
pose.

We have admittance to Horace at all hours.
We enjoy the company and convefsation at his
table; and his suppers, like Plato's, " non
solum in prajsentia, sedetiam postero die jucun-
dce sunt." But when we look round as we sit
there, we find ourselves in a Sabine farm, and
not in a Roman villa. His windows have every
charm of prospect ; but his furniture might have
descended from Cincinnatus; and gems, and pic-
tures, and old marbles, are mentioned by him
more than once with a seeming indifference.

His English Imitator thought and felt, perhaps,

more correctly on the subject; and embellished
^ 16 •" ' 241



242 AN EPiSTLE TO A FRIEND.

his garden and grotto with great industry and
success. But to these alone he solicits our no-
tice. On the ornaments of his house he is silent;
and he appears to have reserved all the minuter
touches of his pencil for the library, the chapel,
Eind the banqueting-room of Timon. " Le sa-
voir de notre siecle," says Rousseau, " tend
beaucoup plus H detruire qu'i edifier. On cen-
sure d'un ton de maitre ; pour proposer, il en
faut prendre un autre."

It is the design of this Epistle to illustrate the
virtue of True Taste ; and to show how little
she requires to secure, not only the comforts,
but even the elegancies of life. True Taste is
an excellent Economist. She confines her choice
to few objects, and delights in producing great
effects by small means : while False Taste is
for ever sighing after the new and the rare ; and
reminds us, in her works, of the Scholar of
Apelles, who, not being able to paint his Helen
beautiful, determined to make her fine.



ARGUMENT.
A.n invitation— The approach to a Villa described - Ita
situation— Us few apartments— furnished with casta
from the Antique, etc.— The dining-room— the library
— A cold-bath— A winter-walk;— A summer- walk— Tho
invitation renewed— Conclusion
■» —
When, with a Reaumur's skill, thy curioua
mind



AK EPISTLE TO A FR/END. 243

Hasclass'd the insect-tribes of human kind,
Each with its busy hum, or gilded wing,
Its subtle net-work, or its venom'd sting ;
Let me, to claim a few unvalued hcturs.
Point out the green lane rough with fern and

flowers ;
The shelter' d gate that opens to my field,
And the white front tlirough mingling elms re-
veal' d-
In vain, alas, a village-friend invites
To simple comforts, and domestic rites,
When the gay months of Carnival resume
Their annual round of glitter and perfume ;
When London hails thee in its splendid mart,
Its hives of sweets, and cabinets of art ;
And, lo, majestic as thy manly song.
Flows the full tide of human life along.

Still must my partial pencil love to dwell
On the home-prospects of my hermit-cell ;
The mossy pales that skirt the orchard-green,
Here hid by shrub -wood, there by gUmpsea

seen;
And the brown pathway, that, with careless

flow.
Sinks, and is lost among the trees below.
-Still must it trace (the flattering tints forgive)
Each fleeting charm that bids the landscape live.
Oft o'er the mead, at pleasing distance, pass
Browsing the hedge by fits the pannier'd ass;
The idling shepherd-boy, with rude delight,
Whistling his dog to mark the pebble's flight,
And in her kerchief blue the ccttage-maid,



244 AN EPISTLE TO A TKIZ^D.

With brimming pitcher from the shadowy glad«t
Far to the south a mountain- vale retires,
Rich in itsgi-oves, and glen?, and village-spires:
Its upland-lawns, and cliffs with foliage hung>
Its wizard-stream, nornameless nor unsung:
And through the various year, the various day,
V/hat scenes of glory burst, and melt away !

When April-verdure springs in Grosvenor-
square,
And the furr'd Beauty comes to winter there,
She bids old N"ature mar the plan no more ;
Yet still the seasons circle as before.
Ah, still as soon the young Aurora plays,
Though moons and flambeaux trail their broai-

est blaze.
As soon the sky-lark pours his matin-song,
Though evening lingers at the mask so long.

There let her strike with momentary ray,
As tapers shine their little lives away ;
There let her practise from herself to steal,
And look the happiness she does not feel ;
The ready smile and hidden blush employ
\t Faro-routs that dazzle to destroy ;
Fan with affected ease the essenced air.
And lisp of fashions with unmeaning stare.
Be thine to meditate an humbler flight,
When morning fills the fields with ro>y light ;
Be thine to blend, nor thine a vulgar aim,
Repose with dignity, with quiet fame.

Here no state-chambers in long line unfold.
Bright with broad mirrors, rough with fretted
gold ;



AH EnSTLE TO A FFaEND. 245

STet modest ornament, with use combined,

Attracts the eye to exercise the mind.

Small change of scene, small space his home

requires.
Who leads a life of satisfied desires.

What though no marble breathes, no canvass
glows,
From every point a ray of genius flows !
Be mine to bless the more mechanic skill.
That stamps, renews, and multiplies at will;
And cheaply circulates, through distant climes,
The fairest relics of the purest times.
Here from the mould to conscious being start
Those finer forms, the miracles of art ;
Here chosen gems, imprest on sulphur, shine,
That slept for ages in a second mine ;
And here the faithful graver dares to trace
A Michael's grandeur, and a Rapiiael's grace!
Thy Gallery, Florence, gilds my humble

walls,
And my low roof the Vatican recalls I

Soon as the morning-dream my pillow flies,
To waking sense what brighter visions rise !
O mark ! again the courses of the Sun,
At Guido's call, their round of glory run!
Again the rosy Hours resume their flight,
Obscured and lost in floods of golden light !

But could thine erring friend ?o long forgei
CSweet source of pensive joy and fond regret)
That here its warmest hues the pencil flings,
Lo ! here the lost restores, the absent brings;
And s'ii' *-he Few best loved and most revered



ZiG AN EPISTLK VO A fKIEJtD.

Rise round the board their soint-l smile endcarM!
Selected shelves shall claim thy studioua

hours ;
There shall thy ranging mind be fed on flowers !
1'here, while the shaded lamp's mild lustre

streams,
Read ancient books, or dream inspirinor dreams
And, when a sage's bust arrests thee there,
Pause, and his features with his thoughts

compare.
— Ah, most that Art my grateful rapture calls.
Which breathes a soul into the silent walls ;
Which gathers round the Wise of every Tongue,
All on whose words departed nations hung ;
Still prompt to charm with many a converse

sweet ;
Guides in the world, companions in retreat !
Though my thatch'd bath no rich Mosiac

knows,
A limped stream with unfelt current flows.
Emblem of Life ! which, still as we survey.
Seems motionless, yet ever glides away !
The shadowy walls record, with Attic art,
The strength and beauty that its waves impart.
Here Thetis, bending, v/ith a mother's fears
Dips her dear boy, whose pride restrains hia

tears.
There, Venus, rising, shrinks with sweet

surprise,
As her fair self reflected seems to rise .
Far from the joyless glan, the maddening

strife,



AN EPISTLE TO A FEIEND. 247

And all the dull impertinence of life,

These eye-lids open to the rising ray,

And close, when nature bids, at close of day.

Here, at the dawn, the kindling landscape

glows ;
There noon-day levees call from faint repose.
Hero the flush' d wave flings back the parting

light ;
There glimmering lamps anticipate the night.
"When from his classic dreams the student

steals.
Amid the buzz of crowds, the whirl of wheels,
To muse unnoticed — while around him press
The meteor-forms of equipage and dress ;
Alone, in wonder lost, he seems to stand
A very stranger in his native land !
And (though perchance of current coin possest,
And modern phrase by living lips esprest)
Like those blest Youths, forgive the fabling

page,
Whose blameless lives deceived a twilight age.
Spent in sweet slumbers ; till the miner's spade
Unclosed the cavern, and the morning play'd.
Ah ! what their strange supplies, their wild

delight !
Ne w arts of life, new manners meet their sight !
In a new world they wake as from the dead ;
Yet doubt the trance dissolved, the vision fled !

O come, and, rich in intellectual wealth,
ijlend thought with exercise, with knowledge

health !
Long, in this shelter'd scene of letter'd tali,



248 AN EPISTLE TO A FRIEIfD.

With sobei stop repeat the pensive walk ;
N jr scorn, when gruver triflings fail to pleas®,
The cheap amusements of a mind at ease;
Here every care in sweet oblivion cast,
And many an idle hour — not idly pass'd.

No tuneful echoes, ambush'd at my gate,
Catch the blest accents of the wise and great.
Vain of its various page, no Album breathes
The sigh that Friendship or the Muse bequeaths.
Yet some good Genii o'er my hearth preside,
Oft the far friend, with secret spell, to guide ;
And there I trace, when the gray evening lours,
A silent chronicle of happier hours I

"When Christmas revels in a world of snow,
And bids her berries blush, her carols flow ;
His spangling shower when Frost the wizard

flings ;
Or, borne in ether blue, on viewless wings,
O'er the white pane his silvery foliage weaves,
And gems with icicles the sheltering eves ;
— Thy muffled friend his nectarine- wall pursues,
What time the sun the yellow crocus wooes.
Screened from the arrowy North ; and duly

hies.
To meet the morning-rumour as it flies ;
To range the nmrmuring market-place, and

view
The motley groups that faithful Teniers drew.
When Spring bursts forth in blossoms through

the vale.
And her wild music triumphs on the gale,
Oft with my book I muse from stile to stile ;



AN EPISTLE TC A FRIEND. 249

Oft in my porch the listless noon beguile,
Framing loose numbers, till declining day-
Through the green trellis shoots a crimson ray ;
Till the West-wind leads on the twilight hours,
And shakes the fragrant bells of closing flowers.

Nor boast, Choisy ! seat of soft delight,
The secret charm of thy voluptuous night.
Vain is the blaze of wealth, the pomp of power !
Lo, here, attendant on the shadowy hour,
Thy closet-supper, served by hands unseen,
Sheds, Uke an evening-star, its ray serene,
To hail our coming. Not a step profane
Dares, with rude sound, the cheerful rite re-
strain ;
And, while the frugal banquet glows reveal'd,
Pure and unbought, — the natives of my field ;
While blushing fruits through scatter'd leaves

invite.
Still clad in bloom, and veil'd in azure light!
With wine, as rich in years as Horace sings,
With water, clear as his own fountain flings.
The shifting side-board plays its humbler part,
Beyond the triumphs of a Lorioi's art.

Thus, in this calm recess, so richly fraught
With mental light, and luxury of thought,
My life steals on ; (0 could it blend with thine !)
Careless my course, yet not without design.
So through the vales of Loire the bee-hives

glide.
The light raft dropping with the silent tide;
So, till the laughing scenes are lost in night,
The bus}- people wing their various fli/jbt,



250 AN EPISTLE TO A Fi?.IEND.

Culling unnumber'd sweets from nameless

flowers,
That scent the vineyard in its purple hours.

Rise, ere the watch-relieving clarions play,
Caught through St. James's groves a blush cl

day ;
Ere its full voice the choral anthem flings
Through trophied tombs of heroes and of kings.
Haste to the tranquil shade of learned ease.
Though skiil'd alike to dazzle and to please ;
Though each gay scene be search' d with

anxious eye.
Nor thy shut door be pass'd without a sigh.

If, when this roof shall know thy friend no more,
Some, form'd like thee, should once, like thee,

explore ;
Invoke the lares of this loved retreat,
And his lone walks imprint with pilgrim-feet ;
Then be it said, (as, vain of better days,
Some grey domestic prompts the partial praise


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Online LibrarySamuel RogersThe poems of Samuel Rogers, with a memoir → online text (page 12 of 16)