1828
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Recollections of Chichester. Written for the Bazaar in Aid of the Infirmary.

A New Year's Eve, and other Poems. By Bernard Barton.

Bernard Barton


A topographical rumination in six Spenserians. The first stanza alludes to three poets associated with the area: William Collins, William Cowper, and William Hayley.

Literary Gazette: "We remember once sitting to rest in one of those country churchyards only to be found in England. It was a small, gray church, whose square tower was overgrown with stonecrop, and the gilding on the old clock tarnished with many years; the tombstones looked almost as mouldering as the bones they protected; but the low wall which surrounded it was washed by a little river, or almost brook, keeping up a constant but sweet murmur, and bearing away the leaves as they fell, till, having escaped the shadow of the yews and the wall, it wandered off into the distant fields, one silvery line of dancing sunshine. We are tempted to compare this to the author whose work is open before us; for there are pages filled with pure and holy thoughts, often sad, but chastened with religious cheerfulness, and having for inspiration that hope which is in heaven" (29 November 1828) 755.

Bernard Barton to Robert Southey: "About three months ago having by me 160 pages of MS towards a new Volume, I began to think of looking about for a Publisher (the Bookseller who published my two last being deceased).... Never having before met with more than a delay of a week or so in treating for the disposal of a Copy-right I had not anticipated any such postponement as had occurred, but as confidently hoped to pocket my #60 — or #70 — as to receive my Salary for my Clerkship — indeed after the very gratifying reception Taylor met with, I had hoped from Murray's munificence and abundant means he might have given me #100 — as I was to make up the matter to 200 pages — and I had fifty Pounds from a little Bookseller for the Widow's Tale — only about 140 pages — and in quality I am sure not superior to the present Volume. The suspence, delay, and disappointment have fretted me more than a little, and the inconvenience in a pecuniary sense, is still more serious annoyance" 24 May 1828; in Literary Correspondence, ed. James E. Barcus (1966) 71-72.



Lavant! the Muse has graced thine humble stream,
Making thy lovely borders classic ground;
There thy own bard, "in penury's extreme,"
Sought in "one Book" a balm for every wound;
Nor far remote the pensive Cowper, crowned
With wreath more honoured than the minstrel's bay,
In Eartham's social bowers sweet refuge found,
Where beechen groves the lawny slopes array,
And on the distant main the sparkling sunbeams play.

Nor art thou, Lavant, loved for these alone,
Though these attract a poet's sympathies,
And for thy failing urn may well atone;
Yet to Cicestria bound by stronger ties,
Her silent spire up-pointing to the skies,
Her blooming gardens and her cloistered shade,
Her cross antique, her ivied walls arise
Before me oft, the while fond Memory's aid
Restores the long-lost scene in all its charms arrayed.

But near the hoary piles of ancient days,
With pinnacle and turret crested o'er,
A spacious structure greets my earnest gaze,
Whose simple elegance delights me more.
Fancy beholds above its open door,
(Unlike the words grav'd o'er the House of Woe,
Pourtrayed in Dante's wild terrific lore,
"ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE EACH HOPE FOREGO!")
Faith, Charity, and Hope, smiling on all below.

Blest Refuge! see, the child of want and woe,
Who else had pined in sickness and despair,
Borne to thy lofty chambers, there to know
Art's healing aid, and Nature's purer air;
I see him tended by as watchful care
And skill as wait the favoured heir of wealth,
'Till science and humanity repair
Each devastation, as by magic stealth,
And send their patient forth in happiness and health.

Then may His blessing, who is Lord of all,
Descend on thee as night-dews nourish earth!
May they partake it, who, at pity's call,
Still true to woman's purest, noblest worth,
Leave for thy scenes the brighter haunts of mirth,
To gladden by their presence grief and pain;
May peace be with them by their household hearth,
When to its social joys they turn again,
Peace which, when grief assails, can still their souls sustain.

And in that blest reward be theirs a part,
Whose zeal unwearied bade thy walls arise;
Who, skilled to "turn aside Death's levelled dart,"
Watch o'er thee with unshaken energies:
For every tear they wipe from Sorrow's eyes,
For every smile which Suffering's cheek steals o'er,
Be given that richer meed which Fame outvies,
On earth — a tear the less, a smile the more;
In heaven — of purer bliss an everlasting store!

[pp. 87-90]