1759 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. James Hervey

John Ogilvie, in "To the Memory of the late pious and ingenious Mr. Hervey" Scots Magazine 21 (January 1759) 35.



As rapt in thought the musing mind survey'd
The vain of life, and walk'd the deep'ning Shade;
O'er Care's broad empire cast its trembling view,
And mark'd the flying traits that Fancy drew:
Her magic hand at once transform'd the scene,
And show'd the spot were HERVEY sleeps serene;
Stretch'd where lone Silence haunts the solemn gloom,
Where Thought's keen eye explores the peaceful tomb,
Where Pleasure's glitt'ring dreams at last are o'er,
And Love's soft music charms the soul no more.

Thrill'd as I view'd, the streaming tears o'erflow,
From the big bosom bursts the sighs of woe:
Her friend* now lost who taught the muse to sing,
Check'd her wild flight, and prun'd her trembling wing,
Whose candid praise with eager hope inspir'd,
Whose censure chasten'd, and whose genius fir'd;
Abash'd she stood, — her bold essays were vain,
Nor tun'd the harp, nor pour'd the plaintive strain.

When, lo! unfolding from the blaze of light,
A form all beauteous flash'd upon the sight!
The robes of heav'n involv'd his dazzling frame,
And his eyes sparkled with celestial flame!
High o'er his brow the waving radiance play'd,
An orient crown inclos'd his beamy head;
His lip with Beauty's deep vermilion glow'd,
And flowers spontaneous blossom'd as he trod.
'Twas GENIUS: — pausing o'er the sacred dead,
His bright eye languish'd and the roses fled,
His moan remurmur'd o'er the echoing vale,
His heav'n wove robe hung loosen'd on the gale:
He snatch'd the lyre, and pour'd the melting lay
That steals the heart, and charms the soul away.
Dull Night sat list'ning on her cloud-wrapt throne,
And white-lipp'd Anguish curb'd the bursting groan;
On Care's wild thought the tuneful accents flow,
And sounds melodious thrill'd the ear of Wo.

"O call'd at last th' Almighty's praise to sing!
Where oft thy genius tow'r'd with daring wing!
Plac'd where no cares th' exulting wish controul!
Bless'd with the joys that fir'd thy kindling soul!
Though smiles no more the placid eye serene,
Nor rove the graces o'er some pictur'd scene;
Though snatch'd from all thy boundless hope design'd,
When life's full summer cheer'd thy ripening mind:
Yet these no more the plaintive muse detain,
Thy friend, thy country claims the mournful strain;
Since lost each nobler plan thy soul had wrought,
Since stopt the stream of sweet, persuasive thought,
Fled the bright noon thy bursting blaze had giv'n,
And mute the voice that rapt the soul to heav'n.

"Strow'd o'er thy page what beauteous traits appear!
What melting music steals the list'ning ear!
'Twas I whose pow'r the living picture caught,
'Twas I whose pencil ting'd the glowing draught:
Through Death's black gloom I trac'd thy dubious way,
That kindred gloom where Fancy loves to stray!
Then led thee, circled with the laughing hours,
Where sports young Zephyr o'er the waste of flow'rs,
With richer strokes the warm description wrought,
And touch'd with transport all the springs of thought.
Mine was the ray on Night's dim curtain throw'n,
And mine the glass where gay Creation shown;
Mine the bold wing that shot where tempests rise,
And mine the flight that reach'd the starry skies."

He ceas'd, — for sudden on the wond'ring gaze
From heav'n's broad concave burst the rapid blaze:
At once descending from the realms on high
An angel-shape arrests the dazzled eye!
Loose o'er her limbs the floating garment roll'd,
Her sparkling pinions flam'd with beamy gold,
Her eyes like lightning glanc'd a piercing ray,
And all th' illumin'd aether gleam'd with day:
Near as she came, superior, though resign'd,
Her form majestic aw'd the dubious mind;
With highten'd grace her bloomy features glow'd,
Free on her robe the mazy ringlets flow'd;
Her balmy breath ambrosial scents perfume,
And o'er her cheek was pour'd celestial bloom.
Pale Sorrow bright'ned as RELIGION came,
And slow-pac'd Time stood trembling at the name;
Rage dragg'd in triumph, swell'd her solemn train;
And Death behind her groan'd, and clank'd his chain.

She paus'd, — and musing o'er the fun'ral bier,
Sigh'd deeply sad, and pour'd a tender tear:
Then check'd its course, and, bright'ning as the sun,
She look'd to heav'n serene, and thus began.

"Hail, thou escap'd to yonder worlds above!
Hail, join'd to saints that melt in strains of love!
At last 'tis come! the bright transforming day!
Th' exulting spirit bursts, and soars away!
Loose are its bars! and gain'd th' immortal prize!
It breathes of heav'n sublime, and walks the skies!
But late my hand yon beauteous scenes display'd,
And led thy steps through life's perplexing shade;
The vivid wish a distant prospect brought,
The rapt soul trembling o'er the verge of thought!
Yet then what transport taught thy hope to soar!
How flam'd the kindling look that glanc'd it o'er!
How Fancy's touch the glowing draught refin'd!
And light celestial pour'd upon the mind.

"A race unborn thy genius shall inspire,
And souls yet darken'd catch sublime desire.
When to thy page, in some sequester'd bow'r,
Calm musing Thought devotes the serious brow;
Just when Aspasio's strain has warm'd the breast,
When white-rob'd Quiet lulls its cares to rest;
Then shall my hand superior pow'r impart,
Then Love's persuasive lay shall melt the heart;
Then shall Religion's purest beams be giv'n:
Now rest in peace." She said, and soar'd to heav'n.
J. O.
Aberdeen.

* This alludes to some personal favours which the author had the honour to receive from Mr. Hervey.