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- The Library - 4/4 -


Released from bondage with my virgin love:- She comes! she comes! in all the charms of youth, Unequall'd love, and unsuspected truth! Ah! happy he who thus, in magic themes, O'er worlds bewitch'd, in early rapture dreams, Where wild Enchantment waves her potent wand, And Fancy's beauties fill her fairy land; Where doubtful objects strange desires excite, And Fear and Ignorance afford delight. But lost, for ever lost, to me these joys, Which Reason scatters, and which Time destroys; Too dearly bought: maturer judgment calls My busied mind from tales and madrigals; My doughty giants all are slain or fled, And all my knignts--blue, green, and yellow--dead! No more the midnight fairy tribe I view, All in the merry moonshine tippling dew; E'en the last lingering fiction of the brain, The churchyard ghost, is now at rest again; And all these wayward wanderings of my youth Fly Reason's power, and shun the light of Truth. With Fiction then does real joy reside, And is our reason the delusive guide? Is it then right to dream the syrens sing? Or mount enraptured on the dragon's wing? No; 'tis the infant mind, to care unknown, That makes th' imagined paradise its own; Soon as reflections in the bosom rise, Light slumbers vanish from the clouded eyes: The tear and smile, that once together rose, Are then divorced; the head and heart are foes: Enchantment bows to Wisdom's serious plan, And Pain and Prudence make and mar the man. While thus, of power and fancied empire vain, With various thoughts my mind I entertain; While books, my slaves, with tyrant hand I seize, Pleased with the pride that will not let them please, Sudden I find terrific thoughts arise, And sympathetic sorrow fills my eyes; For, lo! while yet my heart admits the wound, I see the CRITIC army ranged around. Foes to our race! if ever ye have known A father's fears for offspring of your own; If ever, smiling o'er a lucky line, Ye thought the sudden sentiment divine, Then paused and doubted, and then, tired of doubt, With rage as sudden dash'd the stanza out;- If, after fearing much and pausing long, Ye ventured on the world your labour'd song, And from the crusty critics of those days Implored the feeble tribute of their praise; Remember now the fears that moved you then, And, spite of truth, let mercy guide your pen. What vent'rous race are ours! what mighty foes Lie waiting all around them to oppose! What treacherous friends betray them to the fight! What dangers threaten them--yet still they write: A hapless tribe! to every evil born, Whom villains hate, and fools affect to scorn: Strangers they come, amid a world of woe, And taste the largest portion ere they go. Pensive I spoke, and cast mine eyes around; The roof, methought, return'd a solemn sound; Each column seem'd to shake, and clouds, like smoke, From dusty piles and ancient volumes broke; Gathering above, like mists condensed they seem, Exhaled in summer from the rushy stream; Like flowing robes they now appear, and twine Round the large members of a form divine; His silver beard, that swept his aged breast, His piercing eye, that inward light express'd, Were seen,--but clouds and darkness veil'd the rest. Fear chill'd my heart: to one of mortal race, How awful seem'd the Genius of the place! So in Cimmerian shores, Ulysses saw His parent-shade, and shrunk in pious awe; Like him I stood, and wrapt in thought profound, When from the pitying power broke forth a solemn sound:- "Care lives with all; no rules, no precepts save The wise from woe, no fortitude the brave; Grief is to man as certain as the grave: Tempests and storms in life's whole progress rise, And hope shines dimly through o'erclouded skies. Some drops of comfort on the favour'd fall, But showers of sorrow are the lot of ALL: Partial to talents, then, shall Heav'n withdraw Th' afflicting rod, or break the general law? Shall he who soars, inspired by loftier views, Life's little cares and little pains refuse? Shall he not rather feel a double share Of mortal woe, when doubly arm'd to bear? "Hard is his fate who builds his peace of mind On the precarious mercy of mankind; Who hopes for wild and visionary things, And mounts o'er unknown seas with vent'rous wings; But as, of various evils that befall The human race, some portion goes to all; To him perhaps the milder lot's assigned Who feels his consolation in his mind, And, lock'd within his bosom, bears about A mental charm for every care without. E'en in the pangs of each domestic grief, Or health or vigorous hope affords relief; And every wound the tortured bosom feels, Or virtue bears, or some preserver heals; Some generous friend of ample power possess'd; Some feeling heart, that bleeds for the distress'd; Some breast that glows with virtues all divine; Some noble RUTLAND, misery's friend and thine. "Nor say, the Muse's song, the Poet's pen, Merit the scorn they meet from little men. With cautious freedom if the numbers flow, Not wildly high, nor pitifully low; If vice alone their honest aims oppose, Why so ashamed their friends, so loud their foes? Happy for men in every age and clime, If all the sons of vision dealt in rhyme. Go on, then, Son of Vision! still pursue Thy airy dreams; the world is dreaming too. Ambition's lofty views, the pomp of state, The pride of wealth, the splendour of the great, Stripp'd of their mask, their cares and troubles known, Are visions far less happy than thy own: Go on! and, while the sons of care complain, Be wisely gay and innocently vain; While serious souls are by their fears undone, Blow sportive bladders in the beamy sun, And call them worlds! and bid the greatest show More radiant colours in their worlds below: Then, as they break, the slaves of care reprove, And tell them, Such are all the toys they love."

Footnotes:

{1} Indentation and punctuation as original.

{2} In ancient libraries, works of value and importance were fastened to their places by a length of chain; and might so be perused, but not taken away.

{3} See Blackstone's Commentaries, i. 131, 359; iv. 432.


The Library - 4/4

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