The library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) online

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would yield, as to vindicate the principle,
that Parliament had a right to tax the co-
lonies. The people resisted the act, and
destroyed the tea, to show that they likewise
had a principle, for which they felt an equal

By these experiments on their patience,
and these struggles to oppose them, their
confidence was increased, as the tree gains
strength at its root, by the repeated blasts of
the tempest against its branches. From
this time a mixture of causes was at work ;
the pride of power, the disgrace of defeat,
the arrogance of office, on the one hand 5
a sense of wrong, indignant feeling, an en-
thusiasm for liberty on the other These
were secondary, having slight connection
with the first springs of the Revolution, or
the pervading force by which it was kept up,
although important filaments in the network
of history.

The acts of the Revolution derive dignity
and interest from the character of the actors,
and the nature and magnitude of the events.
It has been remarked, that in all great po-
litical revolutions, men have arisen, pos-
sessed of extraordinary endowments, ade-
quate to the exigency of the time. It is true
enough, that such revolutions, or any re-
markable and continued exertions of human
power, must be brought to pass by corre-
sponding qualities in the agents ; but whether
the occasion makes the men, or men the oc-
casion, may not always be ascertained with
exactness. In either case, however, no pe-
riod has been adorned with examples more
illustrious, or more perfectly adapted to the
high destiny awaiting them, than that of the
American Revolution.

Statesmen were at hand, who, if not skilled
in the art of governing empires, were tho-
roughly imbued with the principles of just
government, intimately acquainted with the
history of former ages, and, above all, with
the condition, sentiments and feelings of their
countrymen. If there were no Richelieus
nor Mazarins, no Cecils nor Chathams, in
America, there were men, who, like The-
mistocles, knew how to raise a small state to
glory and greatness.

The eloquence and the internal counsels



of the Old Congress were never recorded
we know them only in their results ; buttha
assembly, with no other power than tha
conferred by the suffrage of the people, with
no other influence than that of their public
virtue and talents, and without precedent to
guide their deliberations, unsupported even
by the arm of law or of ancient usages thai
assembly levied troops, imposed taxes, and
for years not only retained the confidence
and upheld the civil existence of a distracted
country, but carried through a perilous war
under its most aggravating burdens of sa-
crifice and suffering. Can we imagine a
situation, in which were required higher
moral courage, more intelligence and talent,
a deeper insight into human nature and the
principles of social and political organiza-
tions, or, indeed, any of those qualities whicl
constitute greatness of character in a states-
man? See, likewise, that work of wonder,
the Confederation, a union of independent
states, constructed in the very heart of a
desolating war, but with a beauty and
strength, imperfect as it was, of which the
ancient leagues of the Amphictyons, the
Achaeans, the Lycians, and the modern con-
federacies of Germany, Holland, Switzer-
land, afford neither exemplar nor parallel.

In their foreign affairs these same states-
men showed no less sagacity and skill, taking
their stand boldly in the rank of nations,
maintaining it there, competing with the
tactics of practised diplomacy, and extorting
from the powers of the world not only the
homage of respect, but the proffers of friend-

The American armies, compared with the
embattled legions of the old world, were
small in numbers, but the soul of a whole
people centred in the bosom of these more
than Spartan bands, and vibrated quickly
and keenly with every incident that befell
them, whether in their feats of valour, or the
acuteness of their sufferings. The country
itself was one wide battle-field, in which not
merely the life-blood, but the dearest inte-
rests, the sustaining hopes, of every indivi-
dual, were at stake. It was not a war of
pride and ambition between monarchs, in
which an island or a province might be the
award of success ; it was a contest for perso-
nal liberty and civil rights, coming down in
its principles to the very sanctuary of home
and the fireside, and determining for every
man the measure of responsibility he should
hold over his own condition, possessions,
and happiness. The spectacle was grand

and new, and may well be cited as the most
glowing page in the annals of progressive


[JUAN MELENDEZ VALDES, a Spanish poet of much
grace and power, was born at Ribera, in 1754, died at
Montpellier, in 1817. He wrote a pastoral comedy,
was appointed professor in Saragossa, and in 1785 estab-
lished his reputation by the publication of his " Poetias


The Sun, 'midst shining glory now concealed

Upon heaven's highest seat,
Darts straightway down upon the parched

His fierce and burning heat ;

And on revolving Noonday calls, that he

His flushed and glowing face
May show the world, and, rising from the sea,

Aurora's reign displace.

The wandering Wind now rests his weary

And hushed in silence broods ;
And all the vocal choir of songsters sings

Among the whispering woods.

And sweetly warbling on his oaten pipe
His own dear shepherd-maid.

The herdboy leads along his flock of sheep
To the sequestered shade ;

Where shepherd youths and maids in secret

In song and feast unite,
[n joyful band, to pass the sultry hours

Of their siesta light.

All, all is calm and silent. how sweet,

On this enamelled ground,
At ease recumbent, from its flowery seat

To cast your eyes around !

The busy bee, that round your listening ear

Murmurs with drowsy hum ;
The faithful turtles, perched on oak-trees

Moaning their mates' sad doom.

A.nd ever in the distance her sweet song

Murmurs lorn Philomel ;
While the hoar forest's echoing glades pro-

Her love and music well.



And 'midst the grass slow creeps the rivulet,
In whose bright, limpid stream

The blue sky and the world of boughs are

Mirrored in one bright gleam.

And of the elm, the hoar and silvery leaves
The slumbering winds scarce blow ;

Which, pictured in the bright and tremulous

Follow their motion slow.

These airy mountains, and this fragrant seat,
Bright with a thousand flowers ;

These interwoven forests, where the heat
Is tempered in their bowers !

These cooling grottoes! retirement blest I

Within thy calm abode,
My mind alone can from her troubles rest

With solitude and God.

Thou giv'st me life, and liberty, and love,

And all I now admire ;
And from the winter of my soul dost move

The deep enthusiast fire.

bounteous Nature, 'tis thy healing womb

Alone can peace procure !
Thither all ye, the weary, laden, come,

From storms of life secure !


[Dr. JOHN BYROM, born near Manchester, 1691. Edu-
cated at Trinity College, Cambridge. Died 1763].

Once on a time, a certain man was found
That had a pond of water in his ground :
A fine large pond of water fresh and clear,
Enough to serve his turn for many a year.
Yet so it was a strange unhappy dread
Of wanting water seized the fellow's head :
When he was dry, he was afraid to drink
Too much at once, for fear his pond should


Perpetually tormented with this thought,
He never ventured on a hearty draught ;
Still dry, still fearing to exhaust his store,
When half refreshed, he frugally gave o'er;
Reviving of himself revived his fright,
"Better," quoth he, "to be half choked than


Upon his pond continually intent,
In cares and pains his anxious life he spent ;
Consuming all his time and strength away,
To make his pond rise higher every day :
He worked and slaved, and oh ! how slow it


Poured in by pailfuls, and took out by gills.
In a wet season he would skip about,
Placing his buckets under every spout ;
From falling showers collecting fresh supply,
And grudging every cloud that passed by ;
Cursing the dryness of the times each hour,
Although it rained as fast as it could pour.
Then he would wade through every dirty spot,
Where any little moisture could be got ;
And when he had done draining of a bog,
Still kept himself as dirty as a hog :
And cried, whene'er folks blamed him, " What

d'ye mean ?

It costs a world of water to be clean ; "
If some poor neighbor craved to slake his

"What! rob my pond! I'll see the rogue

hanged first :

A burning shame, these vermin of the poor
Should creep unpunished thus about my door !
As if I had not frogs and toads enow,
That suck my pond, whatever I can do."
The sun still found him, as he rose or set,
Always in quest of matters that were wet ;
Betime he rose to sweep the morning daw,
And rested late to catch the evening too ;
With soughs and troughs he laboured to en-
The rising pond from every neighbouring

ditch ;
With soughs, and troughs, and pipes, and cuts,

and sluices,
From growing plants he drained the very

juices ;

Made every stick upon the hedges
Of good behaviour to deposit pledges ;
By some conveyance or another, still
Devised recruits from each declining hill:
He left, in short, for this beloved plunder,
No stone unturned, that could have water

Sometimes when forced to quit his awkward


And sore against his will to rest awhile :
Then straight he took his book and down he sat
To calculate th' expenses he was at ;
How much he suffered, at a moderate guess,
From all those ways by which the pond grew

less ;

For as to those by which it still grew bigger,
For them he reckoned not a single figure ;
He knew a wise old saying, which maintained
That 'twas bad luck to count what one had


" First, for myself my daily charges here
Cost a prodigious quantity a year :
Although, thank Heaven, I never boil my


Nor am I such a sinner as to sweat ;
But things are come to such a pass, indeed
We spend ten times the water that we need ;



People are grown, with washing, cleansing


So finical and nice, past all convincing;
So many proud fantastic modes, in short,
Are introduced, that my poor pond pays for't.
Not but I could be well enough content
With what upon my own account is spent ;
But those large articles from whence 1 reap
No kind of profit, strike me on a heap :
What a vast deal each moment, at a sup,
This ever thirsty earth itself drinks up !
Such holes ! and gaps ! Alas ! my pond pro-

Scarce for its own unconscionable sides :
Nay, how can one imagine it should thrive,
So many creatures as it keeps alive !
That creep from every nook and corner, marry !
Filching as much as ever they can carry :
Then all the birds that fly along the air
Light at my pond, and come in for a share :
Item, at every puff of wind that blows,
Away at once the surface of it goes :
The rest in exhalation to the sun
One month's fairweather j and I am undone."
This life he led for many a year together ;
Grew old and grey in watching of the weather ;
Meagre as Death itself, till this same Death
Stopped, as the saying is, his vital breath ;
For, as the old fool was carrying to his field
A heavier burden than he well could wield,
He missed his footing, or somehow he fumbled
In tumbling of it in but in he tumbled:
Mighty desirous to get out again,
He screamed and scrambled, but 'twas all in


The place was grown so very deep and wide,
Nor bottom of it could he feel, nor side ;
And so i' the middle of his pond he died.
What think ye now, from this imperfect sketch,
My friends, of such a miserable wretch ?
"Why, 'tis a wretch, we think of your own

making ;

No fool can be supposed in such a taking ;
Your own warm fancy.'' Nay, but warm or


The world abounds with many such a fool :
The choicest ills, the greatest torments, sure
Are those, which numbers labour to endure.
" What! for a pond?" Why, call it an estate:
You change the name, but realize the fate.


[WENTWORTH DILLON, Earl of Koscommon (1634-1685)
was the nephew and godson of the celebrated Earl of
Strafford. He travelled abroad during the Civil War,
and returned at the time of the Restoration, when he
was made captaiu of the baud of pensioners, and sub-

sequently Master of the Horse to the Duchess of York.
Roscommon, like Denham, was addicted to gambling;
but he cultivated his taste for literature, and produced
a poetical " Essay on Translated Verse," a translation of
Horace's " Art of Poetry," and some other minor pieces.
He planned, in conjunction with Dryden, a scheme for
refining our language and fixing its standard ; but,
while meditating on this and similar topics connected
with literature, the arbitrary measures of James II.
caused public alarm and commotion. Roscommon,
dreading the result, prepared to retire to Rome, saying,
it was best to sit near the chimney when the chamber
smoked. An attack of gout prevented the poet's depart-
ure. He died, and was buried (January 21, 1684-5) in
Westminster Abbey. " At the moment in which he
expired," says Johnson, " he uttered, with an energy of
voice that expressed the most fervent devotion, two
lines of his own version of ' Dies Ir '.

My God, My Father, and my Friend,
Do not forsake me in my end ! "]

With how much ease is a young maid betrayed

How nice the reputation of the maid 1

Your early, kind, paternal care appears

By chaste instruction ol her tender years.

The first impression in her infant breast

Will be the deepest, and should be the best.

Let not austerity breed servile fear ;

No wanton sound offend her virgin ear.

Secure from foolish pride's affected state,

And specious flattery's more pernicious bait ;

Habitual innocence adorns her thoughts ;

But your neglect must answer for her faults.
Immodest words admit of no defence,

For want of decency is want of sense.

What moderate fop would rake the park or stews,

Who among troops of faultless nymphs may choosot

Variety of such is to be found ;

Take then a subject proper to expound,

But moral, great, and worth a poet's voice ;

For men of sense despise a trivial choice :

And such applause it must expect to meet,

As would some painter busy in a street

To copy bulls and bears, and every sign

That calls the staring sots to nasty wine.

Yet 'tis not all to have a subject good ;
It must delight us when 'tis understood.
He that brings fulsome objects to my view
As many old have done, and many new
With nauseous images my fancy fills,
And all goes down like oxymel of squills.
Instruct the listening world how Maro singg
Of useful subjects and of lofty things.
These will such true, such bright ideas raise,
As merit gratitude, as well as praise.
But foul descriptions are offensive still,

lither for being like or being ill.

'or who without a qualm hath ever looked
On holy garbage, though by Homer cooked ?
ft'hose railing heroes, and whose wounded gods,

ilnke some suspect he snores aa well as nods.



But I offend Virgil begins to frown,
And Horace looks with indignation down :
My blushing Muse, with conscious fear retires,
And whom they like implicitly admires.


On sure foundations let your fabric rise,
And with attractive majesty surprise ;
Not by affected meretricious arts,
But strict harmonious symmetry of parts ;
Which through the whole insensibly must pass
With vital heat, to animate the mass ;
A pure, an active, an auspicious flame,
And bright as heaven, from whence the blessing came.
But few few I souls pre ordained by fate,
The race of gods, have reached that envied height.
No rebel Titans' sacrilegious crime,
By heaping hills on hills, can hither climb :
The grisly ferryman of hell denied
JEncas entrance, till he knew his guide.
How justly then will impious mortals fall,
Whose pride would soar to heaven without a call !
Pride of all others the most dangerous fault
Proceeds from want of sense, or want of thought.
The men who labour and digest things most,
Will be much apter to despond than boast ;
For if your author be profoundly good,
'Twill cost you dear before he's understood.
How many ages since has Virgil writ I
How few are they who understand him yet I
Approach his altars with religious fear ;
No vulgar deity inhabits there.
Heaven shakes not more at Jove's imperial nod
Than poets should before their Mantuan god.
Hail, mighty Maro! may that sacred name
Kindle my breast with thy celestial flame,
Sublime ideas and apt words infuse ;
The Muse instruct my voice, and thou inspire the Muse !


[JOHN WILMOT, Earl of Rochester (1647-1680), is
known principally from his having to use the figura-
tive language of Johnson " blazed out his youth and
his health in lavish voluptuousness," and died from
physical exhaustion and decay at the age of thirty-
three. Like most of the courtiers of the day, Roches-
ter travelled in France and Italy. He was at sea with
the Earl of Sandwich and Sir Edward Spragge, and dis-
tinguished himself for bravery. In the heat of an en-
gagement, he went to carry a message in an open boat
amidst a storm of shot. This manliness of character
forsook Rochester in England, for he was accused of
betraying 1 cowardice in street quarrels, and he refused

to fight with the Duke of Buckingham. In the profli-
gate court of Charles, Rochester was the most profligate ;
lii.s intrigues, his low amours and disguises, his erect-
ing a stage and playing the mountebank on Tower-hill,
and his having been./Je years in a state of inebriety, are
circumstances well known and partly admitted by him-
self. It is remarkable, however, that his domestic let-
tersshew him in a different light" tender, playful, and
alive to all the affections of a husband, a father, and a
son." His repentance itself says something for the
natural character of the unfortunate profligate: t
judge from the memoir left by Dr. Burnet, who was his
lordship's spiritual guide on his death-bed, it was sincere
and unreserved. We may, therefore, with some confi-
dence, set down Rochester as one of those whose vices
are less the effect of an inborn tendency, than of exter-
nal corrupting circumstances. It may be fairly said of
him, " Nothing in his life became him like the leaving
it." His poems consist of slight effusions thrown off
without labour. Many of them are so very licentious as
to be unfit for publication ; but in one of these, he has
given in one line a happy character of Charles II.:

A merry monarch, scandalous and poor.
His songs are sweet and musical.

While on those lovely looks I gaze,

To see a wretch pursuing,
In raptures of a blest amaze,

His pleasing happy ruin ;
"Tis not for pity that I move ;

His fate is too aspiring,
Whose heart, broke with a load of

Dies wishing and admiring.

But if this murder you'd forego,

Your slave from death removing,
Let me your art of charming know,

Or learn you mine of loving.
But whether life or death betide,

In love 'tis equal measure ;
The victor lives with empty pride,

The vanquished die with pleasure.


I cannot change as others do,

Though you unjustly scorn ;
Since that poor swain that sighs for you,

For you alone was born.
No, Phillis, no ; your heart to move

A surer way I' 11 try ;
And, to revenge my slighted love,

Will still love on, will still love on, and die



When, killed with grief, Amyntas lies,

And you to mind shall call
The sighs that now unpitied rise,

The tears that vainly fall ;
That welcome hour that ends this smart

Will then begin your pain,
For such a faithful tender heart

Can never break, can never break in vain.


Too late, alas ! I must confess,

You need not arts to move me ;
Such charms by nature you possess,

'Twere madness not to love you.

Then spare a heart you may surprise,

And give my tongue the glory
To boast, though my unfaithful eyes

Betray a tender story.


My dear mistress has a heart

Soft as those kind looks she gave me,
When, with love's resistless art,

And her eyes, she did enslave me.
But her constancy's so weak.

She's so wild and apt to wander,
That my jealous heart would break,

Should we live one day asunder.

Melting joys about her move,

Killing pleasures, wounding blisses ;
She can dress her eyes in love,

And her lips can warm with kisses.
Angels listen when she speaks ;

She's my delight, all mankind's wonder;
But my jealous heart would break,

Should we live one day asunder.

A few specimens of Rochester's letters to
his wife and son are subjoined :

I am very glad to hear news from you, and
I think it very good when 1 hear you are
well ; pray be pleased to send me word what
you are apt to be pleased with, that I may
shew you how good a husband I can be ; I
would not have you so formal as to judge of
the kindness of a letter by the length of it,
but believe of everything that it is as you
would have it.

'Tis not an easy thing to be entirely happy ;
but to be kind is very easy, and that is the
greatest measure of happiness. I say not
this to put you in mind of being kind to me ;
you have practiced that so long, that I have
a joyful confidence you will never forget it;
but to shew that I myself have a sense of
what the methods of my life seemed so utterly

to contradict, I must not be too wise about
my own follies, or else this letter had been a
book dedicated to you, and published to the
world. It will be more pertinent to tell you
that very shortly the king goes to New-
market, and then I shall wait on you at
Adderbury ; in the meantime, think of any-
thing you would have me do, and I shall
thank you for the occasion of pleasing you.

Mr. Morgan I have sent in this errand,
because he plays the rogue here in town so
extremely, that he is not to be endured ;
pray, if he behaves himself so at Adderbury,
send me word, and let him stay till I send for
him. Pray, let Ned come up to town ; I have
a little business with him, and he shall be
back in a week.

Wonder not that J have not written to you
all this while, for it was hard for me to know
what to write upon several accounts ; but in
this I will only desire you not to be too much
amazed at the thoughts my mother has of you,
since, being mere imaginations, they will as
easily vanish, as they were groundlessly
erected ; for my own part, I will make it my
endeavour they may. What you desired of
me in your other letter, shall punctually be
performed. You must, I think, obey my mo-
ther in her commands to wait on her at Ayles-
bury, as I told you in my last letter. I am
very dull at this time, and therefore think it
pity in this humour to testify myself to you
any further ; only, dear wife, I am your hum-
ble servant,


MY WIFE The difficulties of pleasing your
ladyship do increase so fast upon me, and are
grown so numerous, that to a man less re-
solved than myself never to give it over, it
would appear a madness ever to attempt it
more ; but through your frailties mine ought
not to multiply ; you may therefore secure
yourself that it will not be easy for you to put
me out of my constant resolutions to satisfy
you in all I can. I confess there is nothing
will so much contribute to my assistance in
this as your dealing freely with me ; for since
you have thought it a wise thing to trust me
less and have reserves, it has been out of my
power to make the best of my proceedings ef-
fectual to what I intended them. At a dis-
tance, I am likeliest to learn your mind, for
you have not a very obliging way of deliver-
ing it by word of mouth ; if, therefore, you
will let me know the particulars in which I
may be useful to you, I will shew my readi-
ness as to my own part ; and if I fail of the
success I wish, it shall not be the fault of
your humble servant, ROCHESTER.

I intend to be at Adderbury some time next



I hope, Charles, when yon receive this, and
know that I have sent this gentleman to be
your tutor, you will be very glad to see I take
such care of you, and be very grateful, which
is best shewn in being obedient and diligent.
You are now grown big enough to be a man,
and you can be wise enough ; for the way to

Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 28 of 75)