1823
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Stanzas written at Night.

Oriental Herald and Colonial Review 1 (February 1824) 288.

James Silk Buckingham


A nocturne in four Spenserian stanzas: "Gods! there is inspiration in the night! | Unknown, uncherished in the busy hour." The verses are signed "Bion, Sept. 1823." Perhaps Bion's exceptional inversions of syntax are intended to suggest a reflective state of mind. I speculate that "Bion," a long-time contributor, was James Silk Buckingham, founder and editor of the Oriental Herald: the "B" in "Bion" signifying "Buckingham."

Literary Chronicle: "The Oriental Herald, the first number of which was published on Wednesday se'ennight, has been commenced by Mr. Buckingham, a gentleman whose struggles for the liberty of the press, in India, have rendered his name very familiar even to a British public, on account of its having almost exclusively occupied the attention of the Indian government for several months. Without positively asserting the liberty of the press could safely be put on the same footing in India as in England, we cannot but think it quite unnecessary that such restraint should be imposed on it as has been done by a late governor-general, against whom Mr. Buckingham brings strong charges" 6 (10 January 1824) 21.

John Wilson: "NORTH. Imitators — imitators are the Cockneys all. They can originate nothing. And in their paltry periodicals, how sneakingly they blaspheme that genius, from whose sacred urn they draw the light that discovers their own nakedness and their own impotence! TICKLER. Title-pages, chapter-mottoes even — stolen, transmogrified, and denied!" Blackwood's Magazine (November 1826) in Noctes Ambrosianae (1857) 2:283.

W. Davenport Adams: "James Silk Buckingham (1786-1855), is best known as the founder of The Athenaeum. He also published a large number of books of travel, and established a journal at Calcutta. See his Autobiography" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 104.



There's something sweet in sitting thus alone,
Thinking of hearts, alas! which beat no more—
'Till fancy peopleth with their voice the moan
The night-breeze makes, as with the poplar hoar
It passing struggles: — on the pebbly shore
Seated at night, when winds and waves were still,
I've thus thus the dark stream, whispering evermore
While lapsing to the ocean, heard — at will
Would I could wake such strains as now my spirit fill!

I listen to the wind — it speaks of days
Of youthful study and of youthful bliss,
When the wild, deep, deep-rooted thirst of praise
Was wakened first on such a night as this—
When wandering forth from sports I well could miss,
I saw the bright round moon in purest sky,
Listening the sea's blue wavelets curling kiss
The silver shore, which to my raptured eye
Stretched glittering far and wide in heaven's bright panoply.

Gods! there is inspiration in the night!
Unknown, uncherished in the busy hour,
When all things walk abroad by common light,
And bound upon the turf, or crop the flower
Of day; now purer thoughts exert their power
With simple, perfect, undistracted sway:
Night stilleth those rude cares that would devour
Our soft serenity, and drives away
Those useless sluggish drones, who waste our hours by day.

Now muster round the awful shades of those
I might have loved, alive — and worship, dead;
And each great spirit, as it flitting goes
Back to the world of night, a thrilling dread,
Severely pleasing, leaves: I bow my head
To all and each of this immortal throng;
Hoping — vain thought! — that when my earthly bed
Receives me, then this mighty train among
I too may walk, a sprite immortalized by song!

[p. 288]