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WRITTEN ON A GLASS WITH A DIAMOND PENCIL BELONGING TO LORD STANHOPS
Accept a miracle in place of wit;—
See two dull lines by Stanhope's pencil writ. An Impromptu is an extemporaneous composition, that is, one made at the moment, or without previous study.
An Acrostic is a composition in verse, in which the initial letters of each line, taken in order from the top to the bottom, make up a word or phrase, generally a person's name, or a motto
Example of the Acrostic.
Friendship, thou 'rt false! I hate thy flattering smile!
An Epithalamium is a nuptial song or poem, in praise ct the bride and bridegroom, and praying for their prosperity.*
PASTORAL AND ELEGIAC POETRY.
Pastorals or bucolics are the narratives, songs, and dramas, which are supposed to have been recited, sung, or acted by shepherds.
The ancient pastorals were either dialogues or monologues. A monologue is a poetical piece, where there is only a single speaker.
* Tke forty fifth Psalm is an epithalamium to Christ and the Church
An Idyl, Idillion or Idyllium is a short pastoral of the nat rative or descriptive kind.
An Eclogue is the conversation of shepherds. The word literally means a select piece, and the art of the poet lies in selecting the beauties without the grossness of rural life. The eclogue differs from the idyl, in being appropriated to pieces in which shepherds themselves are introduced.
ELEGY AND EPITAPH.
An Elegy is a poem or a song expressive of sorrow and lamentation
An Epitaph is, literally, an inscription on a tomb. When written in verse, and expressive of the sorrow of the survivors, epitaphs are short elegies.*
* The following remarks on the subject of epitaphs, were originally pre sented by a young friend, as a college exercise. They appear to be so much to the purpose, that they are presented entire :
"Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night.
God said, Let Newton be! and all was light." “One common fault in epitaphs is their too great length. Not being easily read upon stone, few trouble themselves to peruse them, if they are long; and in a churchyard so many solicit our attention, that we prefer to examine those which are concise, rather than spend our time on a few long ones. Every one, too, soon discovers, that those which cover the stones on which they are inscribed, are, for the most part, feebly expressed, and hardly recompense one for the trouble of deciphering them; while a concise inscription immediately attracts notice, and is generally found to be pointed. We can frequently perceive the description of character to be untrue, because it is coldly worded, and expressed in very general terms; in short, a character which would apply to one man as well as another, and such as 18 frequently given to a person whom we care nothing about. Such epitaphs I consider faulty. After the death of an acquaintance, all our feelings of dislike, caused by his presence, are dispelled; all the animosity, growing out of the clashing of our interests with his, vanishes with the man; and, per haps, being in some degree reproved by our consciences for our uncharitable feelings during his life, we endeavor to make amends by inscribing to his memory a eulogy, which, if he still lived, we should pronounce undeserved flattery, if spoken by others, and which would never have proceeded from our own lips, except in irony. In such a case, an epitaph usually begins by gravely telling the reader that we are all mortal, and ends by commend ing the soul of the defunct to heaven!
But, though epitaphs give us, generally, exaggerated characters, yet ! would riot have it otherwise. Our churchyards should be schools of moral. ity and religion. Every thing we see there, of course, reminds us of death ; and it would appear to us sacrilege, if we should behold any record of vice: Since everywhere we find virtue ascribed to the tenants of the place, their death, and death in general, will not be to us so terrible and gloomy a subject of reflection; yet will produce such a serious turn of mind as will lead to religions meditation, which always has the effect of calmirg the passione
ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day;
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea;
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
And all the air a solemn stillness holds;
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
and facilitates, in a great degree, our conquest over them, and the infru quency of which is the cause of most of our transgressions.
Eulogizing epitaphs give us a more exalted idea of the power of religion, to which they
chiefly have reference; and therefore have, in some measure. the force of examples. When a person has not been known to the world as a philosopher and a scholar, or in any other way a distinguished man, it is" sufficient that his epitaph should be calculated to excite tender and serious feelings. In such a case, elegiac poetry should be congenial to those feel ings. This, Stewart says, may be effected by the smoothness of the verse, and the apparently easy recurrence of the rhymes. Blank verse would be peculiarly inappropriate to this species of poetical composition. When, on the other
hand, a person has been conspicuous, as a philosopher, for instance, his epitaph should convey a different lesson ; by a description of his discove ries, it should remind us of what is due from us to science and our fellow creatures, besides suggesting the reflection that the greatest men must perish.
“Considering this quality desirable in an epitaph on a philosopher, we should praise an epitaph on Newton, which represented him as the greatest philosopher the world
has ever seen, and is expressive also of the gratitude which is due to him, for the improvement he has made in the condition of the human race by his discoveries. I think that the above epitaph, by Pope, conveys all this; for the observation, that`Mature and nature's laws lay hiá in night,' implies that information on the subject of those laws would be beneficial to mankind, inasmuch as an idea of disadvantage is associated with the word 'night; and the second line expresses that Newton alone made the whole subject clear to our minds ; an exaggerated expression, but one that certainly describes an exalted genius. I do not think, that the epitaph redounds mcah to the honor of Pope, except for the felicity of the expression; for the idea would occur to many minds. We should not, in judging of this couplet, consider it alone, for, united with the rest of the epitaph, of which it is but a part, the whole together deserves much greator praise than is due to either part' taken separately. A complete eulogy on Newton should not be expected in the inscription on his tomb, and therefore we should not consider its merits in that character. I think that the conciseness of the epitaph, which is a great recommendation, will compensate and account for whatever defect it may have in giving us a just and exart idea on Newton."
Beneath those rugged elms, that yow-tree's shade.
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep. The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shell rouse them from their lowly bed. For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Nor busy housewife ply her evening care ; No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share. Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield;
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team afield !
How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke. Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys and destiny obscure; Nor Grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor. The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Await, alike, the inevitable hour;
The paths of glory lead but to the grave. Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise, Where, through the long-drawn aisle and fretted version
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise. Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can Honor's
voice provoke the silent dust, Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of death? Perhaps, in this neglected spot, is laid
Some heart, once pregnant with celestial fire;
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll;
And froze the genial current of the soul. Fall many a gem, of purest ray serene,
The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast,
The little tyrant of his fields withstood; Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest;
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood. The applause of listening senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes, Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone,
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined ;Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind;
To quench the blushes of ingenuous Shame;
With incense kindled at the muse's flame. Far from the maddening crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learnt to stray: Along the cool, sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way. Yet even these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial, still erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculptun Jecked,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh. Their names, their years, spelled by the unlulere? Masa
The place of fame and elegy supply; And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die. For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing, anxious being e'er resigned ; Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind ! On some fond breast the parting soul relies ; Some pious drops the closing
eye requires ; Even from the tomb the voice of Nature cries ·
Even in our ashes live their wonted fires. For thee, who, mindful of the unhonored dead
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate If, chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate, Haply, some hoary.headed swain may say,
“Oft have we seen him, at the peep of dawn Brushing, with hasty steps, the dews away, To meet the sun upon the upland lawu.