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Afflictions great! yet greater still remain:
My galligaskins, that have long withstood
The winter's fury and encroaching frosts,
By time subdued (what will not time subdue ?)
A horrid chasm disclos'd with orifice
Wide, discontinuous; at which the winds
Eurus and Auster, and the dreadful force
Of Boreas, that congeals the Cronian waves,
Tumultuous enter with dire chilling blasts,
Portending agues. Thus, a well-fraught ship,
Long sail'd secure, or through th' Ægean deep,
Or the Ionian, till, cruising near
The Lilybean shore, with hideous crush
On Scylla or Charybdis (dangerous rocks!)
She strikes rebounding; whence the shatter'd oak,
So fierce a shock unable to withstand,
Admits the sea; in at the gaping side
The crowding waves gush with impetuous rage,
Resistless overwhelming! horrors seize
The mariners; death in their eyes appears;
They stare, they lave, they pump, they swear, they pray;
(Vain efforts!) still the battering waves rush in,
Implacable; till, delug'd by the foam,
The ship sinks foundering in the vast abyss.
THOMAS PARNELL was born in Dublin, in 1679. He was descended from an ancient family of Cheshire, who, after the Restoration, purchased an estate in Ireland, to which the poet became heir, together with their lands, in their native country. After the usual preparatory education, he entered, in the thirteenth year of his age, the university of Dublin, and in 1700 took his master's degree, immediately after which he was ordained deacon, though under the canonical age. About three years after he was ordained priest; and, in 1705, the bishop of Clogher conferred upon him the archdeaconry of that see. When the Whigs, toward the end of Queen Anne's reign, passed out of office, Parnell repaired to London and joined the Tory party, by whom he was regarded as an acquisition of strength. He had previously married Miss Anne Minchen, a young lady of great beauty and accomplishments; but having the misfortune to lose her by death a few years after their union, he suffered the event to prey so deeply upon his mind as to hurry him into the habit of intemperance. But the vice could not have been either gross or notorious; for he afterward received, from Archbishop King, the vicarage of Finglass, in the diocese of Dublin, which was worth four hundred pounds a year. He did not, however, long enjoy this last preferment, as his death occurred at Chester, in the month of July, 1717, when on his way to Ireland.
Parnell seems to have been one of those poets who write from the mere love of writing. 'The compass of his poetry,' says Campbell, 'is not extensive, but its tone is peculiarly delightful.' His works are of a miscellaneous nature, consisting of translations, songs, hymns, epistles, and narra
tives. His most celebrated production is The Hermit—a poem familiar to most readers from their infancy. Its sweetness of diction and picturesque solemnity of style must always afford pleasure. His Night Piece on Death was indirectly preferred by Goldsmith to Gray's celebrated Elegy; but few persons of taste will be inclined to adopt such an opinion. In the 'Night Piece' the poet goes forth at midnight to the churchyard, and there meditates among the tombs:
How deep yon azure dyes the sky!
Where orbs of gold unnumbered lie;
While through their ranks, in silver pride,
The nether crescent seems to glide.
The slumbering breeze forgets to breathe,
The lake is smooth and clear beneat
Where once again the spangled show
Descends to meet our eyes below.
The grounds, which on the right aspire,
In dimness from the view retire:
The left presents a place of graves,
Whose wall the silent water laves.
That steeple guides thy doubtful sight
Among the livid gleams of night.
There pass, with melancholy state,
By all the solemn heaps of fate,
And think, as softly sad you tread,
Above the venerable dead,
'Time was, like thee, thy life possessed,
And time shall be that thou shalt rest.'
Those with bending osier bound,
That nameless heave the crumbled ground,
Quick to the glancing thoughts disclose
Where toil and poverty repose.
The flat smooth stones that bear a name,
The chisel's slender help to fame
(Which, ere our set of friends decay,
Their frequent steps may wear away)
A middle race of mortals own,
Men half ambitious, all unknown.
The marble tombs that rise on high
Whose dead in vaulted arches lie,
Whose pillars swell with sculptured stones,
Arms, angels, epitaphs, and bones;
These all the poor remains of state,
Adorn the rich, or praise the great,
Who, while on earth in fame they live,
Are senseless of the fame they give.
The poem, however, by which Parnell is chiefly known is the 'Hermit;" and did our limits permit, we should introduce it entire. As it is, we must be satisfied with a few of the opening paragraphs, merely to show the style.
Far in a wild, unknown to public view,
From youth to age a reverend hermit grew;
The moss his bed, the cave his humble cell,
His food the fruits, his drink the crystal well;
Remote from men, with God he passed his days,
Prayer all his business, all his pleasure praise.
A life so sacred, such serene repose,
Seemed heaven itself, till one suggestion rose-
That vice should triumph, virtue vice obey,
This sprung some doubt of Providence's sway;
His hopes no more a certain prospect boast,
And all the tenor of his soul is lost.
So, when a smooth expanse receives impressed
Calm nature's image on its watery breast,
Down bend the banks, the trees depending grow,
And skies beneath with answering colours glow;
But, if a stone the gentle sea divide,
Swift ruffling circles curl on every side,
And glimmering fragments of a broken sun,
Banks, trees, and skies, in thick disorder run.
To clear this doubt to know the world by sight,
To find if books, or swains, report it right,
(For yet by swains alone the world he knew,
Whose feet came wandering o'er the nightly dew,)
He quits his cell; the pilgrim-staff he bore
And fixed the scallop in his hat before;
Then with the rising sun, a journey went,
Sedate to think, and watching each event.
The morn was wasted in the pathless grass,
And long and lonesome was the wild to pass;
But, when the southern sun had warmed the day,
A youth came posting o'er a crossing way;
His raiment decent, his complexion fair;
And soft in graceful ringlets waved his hair;
Then, near approaching, 'Father, hail!' he cried,
And Hail, my son!' the reverend sire replied.
Words followed words, from question answer flowed,
And talk of various kind deceived the road;
Till each with other pleased, and loath to part,
While in their age they differ, join in heart.
Thus stands an aged elm in ivy bound,
Thus useful ivy clasps an elm around.
We shall close this brief notice of Parnell with the following beautiful hymn :
HYMN TO CONTENTMENT.
Lovely, lasting peace of mind!
Sweet delight of human kind!
Heavenly born, and bred on high,
To crown the favorites of the sky
With more of happiness below,
Than victors in a triumph know!
Whither, O whither art thou fled,
To lay thy meek, contented head;
What happy region dost thou please
To make the seat of calms and ease?
Ambition searches all its sphere
Of pomp and state, to meet thee there.
Increasing avarice would find
Thy presence in its gold enshrined.
The bold adventurer ploughs his way,
Through rocks amidst the foaming sea,
To gain thy love; and then perceives
Thou wert not in the rocks and waves.
The silent heart, which grief assails,
Treads soft and lonesome o'er the vales,
Sees daisies open, rivers run,
And seeks (as I have vainly done)
Amusing thought; but learns to know
That solitude 's the nurse of woe.
No real happiness is found
In trailing purple o'er the ground:
Or in a soul exalted high,
To range the circuit of the sky,
Converse with stars above, and know
All nature in its forms below;
The rest it seeks, in seeking dies,
And doubts at last for knowledge rise.
Lovely, lasting peace, appear!
This world itself, if thou art here,
Is once again with Eden blest,
And man contains it in his breast.
'T was thus, as under shade I stood,
I sung my wishes to the wood,
And, lost in thought, no more perceived
The branches whisper as they waved:
It seem'd as all the quiet place
Confess'd the presence of his grace.
When thus she spoke-Go rule thy will,
Bid thy wild passions all be still,
Know God-and bring thy heart to know
The joys which from religion flow:
Then every grace shall prove its guest,
And I'll be there to crown the rest.
Oh! by yonder mossy seat,
In my hours of sweet retreat,
Might I thus my soul employ,
With sense of gratitude and joy:
Raised as ancient prophets were,
In heavenly vision, praise, and prayer;
Pleasing all men, hurting none,
Pleased and bless'd with God alone:
Then while the gardens take my sight
With all the colours of delight;
While silver waters glide along,
To please my ear, and court my song;
I'll lift my voice, and tune my string,
And thee, great Source of Nature, sing.
The sun that walks his airy way,
To light the world, and give the day;
The moon that shines with borrow'd light;
The stars that gild the gloomy night;
The seas that roll unnumber'd waves;
The wood that spreads its shady leaves;
The field whose ears conceal the grain,
The yellow treasure of the plain;
All of these, and all I see,
Should be sung, and sung by me;
They speak their maker as they can,
But want and ask the tongue of man.
Go search among your idle dreams,
Your busy or your vain extremes;
And find a life of equal bliss,
Or own the next begun in this.
WILLIAM SOMERVILLE, the author of The Chase, belongs to the poets of this period, but his works are now rarely read or consulted. He was a native of Warwickshire, and was born on a family estate called Edston, in 1682. He received his early education at Westminster school, from which he was sent to New College, Oxford, and there was afterwards elected to a fellowship. It does not appear that in the places of his education Somerville exhibited any uncommon proofs of genius, or attainments in literature. His powers were first displayed in the country, where he became distinguished, both as a poet, and a gentleman. His estate yielded him an income of fifteen hundred pounds a-year; but being generous, and even extravagant, he died in distressed circumstances, in 1742, and was buried at Wotton, near Henleyon-Arden.
Somerville wrote in a variety of strains, but in none with elevation sufficient to entitle him to greater praise than that of 'writing very well for a gentleman.' 'In his verses to Addison,' says Johnson, the couplet which mentions Clio is written with the most exquisite delicacy of praise: it exhibits one of those happy strokes that are seldom attained.' Addison, it is well known, signed his papers in the Spectator, with the letters forming the name of Clio. The couplet alluded to, is as follows:
When panting virtue her last efforts made
You brought your Clio to the virgin's aid.
In welcoming Addison to the banks of the Avon, in Warwickshire, where he had purchased an estate, Somerville does not scruple to place him, as a poet, above Shakspeare :
In heaven he sings; on earth your muse supplies
The important loss, and heals our weeping eyes;