A descriptive rhapsody presented as a sequel to the earlier Pleasures of Nature; the preface is signed "D. C." The earlier part had been composed in Spenserian stanzas; in his preface Carey explains that The Reign of Fancy began as the third part of the previous poem, but that since objections had been raised to the stanza, and since material was growing on his hands, he had changed his plans. It is difficult to see how a third part could have been intended for the Pleasures of Nature since, as structured around the cycle of the seasons, it is complete as it stands. The two poems, however, do form a kind of diptych, the former on natural and the latter on sacred themes. But both are unmethodical enough to make it difficult to speak of design.
As Carey's Pleasures of Nature had been cast in the mold of James Beattie's The Minstrel and James Thomson's The Seasons, his Reign of Fancy seems to be cast in the manner of Alexander Pope's Essay on Man and Edward Young's Night Thoughts. While neither poem follows its sources very closely, both appear to follow the convention at work at this stage of the poems on the pleasures series of taking the style of a familiar English classic. The connection to Pope lies in the development of theodicy, and to Young in the theme of transcendental comfort, both of which are recurring themes. As he had done in The Pleasures of Nature, so in The Reign of Fancy Carey makes the second part darker and more serious than the first. The poet alludes to unspecified personal unhappiness (Carey had migrated to London and would have been struggling in poverty) and to the more general miseries caused by the Napoleonic wars.
Preface: "The thoughts contained in the following poem were thrown together in the Spenserian stanza, and intended to have been published as the third and last part of the 'Pleasures of Nature,' (a poem written under happier auspices,) and meant to convey some of the faint expressions of those refined enjoyments that human nature is capable of acquiring in the bosom of science and domestic felicity. But, on reconsidering the subject, some objections arising to the stanza in which it was written, the author felt such a train of ideas crowding on his mind, each giving birth to another, that he found it necessary to alter his plan entirely, and, giving a loose to all the vagaries of an ungovernable imagination, produced, at last, what is here offered to the the perusal of the public, with a degree of diffidence and anxiety bordering upon terror.
"The pleasures and faculties of the mind are many and multiform; the former, for the most part being of a pensive cast, and, generally speaking, signify sublime meditation, the profound deductions of reason, and the brilliant effusions of the imagination; and fancy being the most active principle, affecting all the rest, and colouring every incident in life, this predominant agency, it was thought, should form the ground-work of the following pages, and give title to the whole; and the subject, yet far from being exhausted, having been now considered, both in an external and internal point of view, the author drops the pen, which he has, perhaps, already held too long for the patience of the reader.
"It is hoped that the reader will not be displeased, on perusing the principal of these poems, if, instead of a metaphysical analysis of a shadow, he is often presented with the substance in perspective; and scenes meet his eye, which either a judgment truer to the cause of propriety would have arranged more methodically, or an imagination more chastised have softened into shade; and sentiments and objects call aloud for attention, which a mind, less interested in the sufferings and the wrongs of humanity than that of the poet, might have loved to banish for ever from her dream of happiness and ideal perfection. The present age is fruitful of subjects of this kind; no wonder that the charm is dissolved. We have seen murder dogging the heels of commerce like a blood-hound, from pole to pole, while the interests of states, and the lawless ambition of individuals, have blasted the blossoms of domestic joy, and blotted countries and kingdoms from the catalogues of nations. Nor is Peace or Mercy yet triumphant: the sword still thirsts for the blood of thousands: the shrieks of the innocent still tingle in our ears, and the cries of Liberty are yet heard from afar.
"'How many happy thoughts,' says a celebrated German writer, to whom I am under some obligations, 'have been stifled in their birth, from an apprehension that they were too bold to be indulged.' With poetical minds this consideration may operate as an apology for the present attempt at publicity, as well as for offences committed either against the supreme government of Reason, or the sacredness of Truth, if any such are to be found in the following poem..." pp. i-iv.
Anti-Jacobin Review: "Our readers will probably recollect the favourable notice which we gave of Mr. Carey's Pleasures of Nature, alluded to above. We must, however, congratulate him on the alternation of his plan; as well for making the present an entire, and distinct poem, as for adopting the heroic verse, in preference to the Spenserian stanza. Dr. Beattie, and one or two other modern writers, have indeed given proof, that the latter is capable of every beauty and elegance of poetry; but its structure is admitted, by all, to be extremely difficult, and the shackles which it imposes are not easily overcome. In addition to this, it may be observed, that every poet is not in possession of the commanding powers of Spenser or Beattie; and that every reader is not capable of appreciating the merit, or of enjoying the beauty, of the Spenserian stanza.... The poem, as we have sufficiently proved by our quotations, possesses a superior degree of merit; and, on the whole, exhibits a far greater portion, both of energy and polish, than appeared in the author's earlier productions" 21 (June 1805) 180, 184.
Poetical Register and Repository of Fugitive Poetry for 1804: "This poem forms a sequel to the Pleasures of Nature, of which a favourable character was given in our last volume. It contains much animated description, and vivid imagery, but it wants order and connexion. On the whole, however, it does credit to its author. The versification is flowing, but it is sometimes too much the echo of Dr. Darwin's" (1806) 491.
Francis William Blagdon: "Mr. CAREY, the author of the Pleasures of Nature, has produced a pleasing volume, entitled The Reign of Fancy. He invokes the aid of this goddess, who descends and describes her powers in retracing the past and anticipating the future, thereby heightening the joy of the present. The poet then describes the work of creation, the beauties of Eden, the expulsion of Adam and Eve, traces the progress of man through the paths of science, pourtrays the charms of rural retirement and domestic felicity, and makes the soundest remonstrances to the libertine and voluptuary" Flowers of Literature for 1805 (1806) lxxviii.
After deploring his unhappy condition the poets invokes the goddess Fancy, who upon descending in her airy car, responds "Is there in earth, or air, or sea, or sky, | Aught that my powerful influence can defy?" p. 18. Opening her oration, Fancy begins by enumerating her power to "watch the wonders of Creation's dawn" p. 20. Eden is then described, and the expulsion from Paradise. Fancy next traces the progress of humanity from primal ignorance up through Egypt to Greece, Rome, and Britain. Shakespeare is imagined inventing his characters, Newton poring over nature's book, and Benjamin Franklin pursuing mechanic genius: "Yes! there are greater, happier men than kings, | Titles are nought, and riches paltry things!" p. 31. Fancy directs the poet's attention to imagined landscapes where dwell men of genius: Cicero Virgil, Petrarch, Shakespeare, Thomson, and Pope. She promises to raise additional and equivalent geniuses in the future.
A young man is imagined reviewing historical scenes and becoming inspired to emulation by the examples of Socrates, Pericles, and Horace: "So, when the organ lifts the soul on high, | And peals the soft, sweet music of the sky, | While rapt Attention lists seraphic strains, } Above, below, around enchantment reigns!" pp. 37-38. Christopher Columbus is offered as an example of ambition propelled by Fancy. If it is true that man is everywhere the enemy of mankind, it is also true that enlightenment eventually follows upon commerce: "Go, track illimitable oceans o'er, | The light shall dawn upon Angola's shore! | Pierce Error's maze, the midnight of the mind, | And link in social union human kind" p. 44. Reflections on the slave-trade lead into a series of inset tales concerned with innocence, guilt, and unhappy love. Fancy breaks off and the first canto concludes with the observation that contemplation cannot heal the minds of those whose hearts are dead to compassion.
While others wake the lyre to love and joy,
And all the soul's warm energies employ,
Condemn'd by Fate, unfeeling and severe,
To wander far from all my soul holds dear;
From every holy haunt that might inspire,
The Muse's dreams, or animate the lyre,
O! while I sit me down, to grief resign'd,
And Fancy paints the joys I left behind,
Fraternal kindness, Love's endearing wiles,
Friendship thy sweets, and Happiness thy smiles;
Joys that my throbbing heart no more shall share,
But treasur'd with a miser's fondness there!
Say, what shall bid this hand essay to roll
The deep-ton'd music that enchains the soul?
Or, if across the harp my hand I fling,
And wake to melody each sounding string,
Shall aught save Sorrow's plaintive accents flow,
Or aught engage, save images of woe?
That power has Beauty, Beauty's angel smile
With magic influence shall each care beguile;
Shall warm the bosom with poetic fire,
And breathe a soul along each warbling wire:
Once more the chords my harsh control shall prove,
For Love commands, and who obeys not Love?
O thou, the Muse's friend! to whom belong
Poetic raptures and the flowers of song,
If e'er I lov'd to stray with wand'ring feet,
'Mid haunts where thou hast fix'd thy chosen seat;
Where, far from man, the sainted streamlet glides,
Where yet the blameless exile, Peace, abides;
Where yet the cherub Innocence is found,
'Mid scenes where Inspiration breathes around;
If e'er, a vot'ry at thy sacred shrine,
To worship there with solemn dread was mine;—
Or, when to bliss I urg'd my tender claim,
And sunk the poet's in the lover's name,
What time, by mead or mountain's sunny brow
The fair Amelia smil'd upon my vow,
If e'er thy visions to my soul were dear,
Drew grief's warm gush, or rapture's pleasing tear,
O, FANCY! yet awhile the song inspire,
And breathe a soul to animate the lyre!
She comes! — Eolian strains around her play,
While, lightly pois'd, the GODDESS wins her way,
Gay Genii, hovering round, support her train
That gems with rainbow hues th' ethereal plain;
The billowy air while her proud coursers beat,
She views the subject world beneath her feet,
Lawn, meadow, mountain, valley, grove, and shade
By gentle Spring in vermil vest array'd,
Fields that put forth their sweetest, loveliest dye,
To hail the car-borne queen of earth and sky.
The notes of triumph, GODDESS! now begin,
That holy awe and mute attention win.
She wakes with sov'reign pow'r the harp that owns
The soothing concord of celestial tones,
—"Is there in earth, or air, or sea, or sky,
Aught that my powerful influence can defy?
This life-imparting hand, which nought can bar,
Has fill'd each flood, and peopled every star;
At my command the world shall rock with dread,
And the clos'd sepulchre give up its dead:—
My poweer is felt through nature unconfin'd,
But chief my empire is the human mind.
At my control the mists of fear arise,
And dim the mental eye and cloud the skies;
And hearts, by Misery long doom'd to mourn
And drop the tear unpity'd and forlorn,
Aided by me shall lay their sorrows down,
And make a bliss angelic here their own.
"Thou, transient MATTER! soon shalt melt away,
But I shall bloom unconscious of decay,
And thou shalt cease to be, COEVAL TIME!
But I shall flourish in eternal prime.
Mine is the present, mine the magic key
That opes the secrets of futurity.
"'Tis mine to pierce the past, on wing of flame,
Ere yet ye knew existence, place, or name;
To penetrate th' immensity profound,
Where Darkness spreads her dragon pinions round.—
'Tis done, — the awful voice of Thunder speaks,
'Let there be light!' a tide of glory breaks:
I see, receding far, the veil withdrawn,
And watch the wonders of Creation's dawn.
Sun of the morning! shed thy influence bland,
Fountain of light, fresh from thy Maker's hand,
How fair art thou! how beautiful thy beams,
Soft trembling, dancing on the ocean streams!
The azure skies, in new-born beauty bright,
Spread their translucent folds to catch thy light;
The World, emerging from her oozy bed,
Woos thee, with all her charms, thy beams to shed;
Their purple hues the blushing meads unfold,
And wave with pride ambrosial locks of gold;
Pure flows the streamlet o'er the sylvan scene,
And laves its borders dy'd in loveliest green;
Sweet sings the feather'd warbler from the tree;
Murmurs on thymy wilds the mountain bee;
Fountain of light! effuse thy genial ray,
That universal nature may be gay.
"But sweetest of the landscapes bright with dew,
Fair Eden spreads its breast of loveliest hue;
For there, the flowers a fairer bloom disclose,
And clearer there the crystal current flows,
And sweeter sings the warbler from the tree,
Murmurs in softer sounds the mountain bee;
Still sweeter there the vernal breezes sigh,
And greener far the sod's perennial dye,
Where stray to mark their sweets, in blooming pride,
The first of men, with Beauty by his side;—
And when the moon shall gild the vault of night,
Far softer there shall fall her mellow light;
The primrose flowers in beauty shall outvie,
Stars of the earth! their brethren of the sky;
And Philomela pour a sweeter lay
Than ever warbled in the car of day.—
'Tis o'er! for Justice gives the awful word,
'Depart,' he cries, and waves the flaming sword:
Farewell the joys that Eden's vineyard knew,
Adieu, fair Eden! Paradise, adieu!
"To these succeed, lords of the universe,
A race of men ungovernably fierce,
Strangers to Love's, to Friendship's gentle strife,
And all the tender offices of life.
I see them pass in proud succession by,
War in their port, and vengeance in their eye;
I mark them bound across the desart fleet,
And wing with, speed of wind their hasty feet;
Chace the wild roe, or brave the brindled boar,
And dye with horrid joy the lance in gore;
Or pierce the deep recesses of the wood,
And glut their savage appetites with blood,
Till conscious Nature sickens at the sight,
And horror dims the blazing orb of light!
"O! born in orient fields of ether, say,
Why linger'st thou? fair daughter of the day!
Arise! thy skirts of living light unrol,
Sun of the mental world! and bless the soul.
Arise! and lend to man thy leading star,
And chace the mists of ignorance afar;
Sublime his thoughts, his emulation move,
And sow the seeds of industry and love.
Fair Science, queen of light! thy beams impart,
And cheer the mind and humanize the heart.
"Pant'st thou to trace her course from clime to clime
With sails expanded, down the stream of time?
Thy feet shall wander o'er each favour'd isle
Where dawn'd the emanations of her smile.
I see thee tread old Egypt's letter'd shore,
To scan her arts and hieroglyphic lore,
Where, rooted to the earth and towering high,
Her pyramidal columns mock the sky.
Thence rove where mystic awe dominion holds,
And all the splendor of the east unfolds;
Where to the sun the Magi bend the knee,
And swell the song of fond idolatry,
Or, fill'd with vain philosophy, admire,
And hallow all his haunts, the God of fire!
"So, when the monarch climbs th' ethereal height,
And beams and burns upon his path of light,
His duteous flow'r adores, with awe imprest,
And turns to heaven the worship of her breast;
Watches his glowing track along the sky,
And drinks the tide of glory from his eye;
Courts the soft ray with many a pious wile,
And lives but in the sunshine of his smile.
"Go! Greece invites thee to her far-fam'd shore,
Each classic haunt to visit and explore;
Where Ilium rears its towers and blest abodes,
The work of many an age, the work of Gods!
Where flow'd of war the sanguinary tide,
Where pour'd the crimson deluge far and wide;
Where swell'd the notes, omnipotent to roll
The stream of music o'er the vanquish'd soul.
Land of the Muse! blest with her first regard,
Where are they now, the hero and the bard?
Where are they now, thy temples? Perish'd long!
They live but in the memory of the song.
"By Tiber's banks, to where the goddess flew,
Another Athens rises on my view.
Shades of th' illustrious dead! styl'd justly great,
List from your marble beds the high debate;
Or Tully's eloquence, that well might move
The gods to hear, or Plato to approve.
"A Roman ardour in thy breast shall rise,
And indignation sparkle in thy eyes.
As, pausing there, the scenes shall be supply'd
Where Caesar triumph'd, and where Freedom died.
While Brutus sternly bids thee dare be free,
And Cato gives the sword of Liberty,
O, give the lovely goddess all thy heart
And swear to act a Roman's glorious part!
"For ever fallen the Queen of Nations now,
Blasted the laurel wreath that deck'd her brow;
Far thence the sister nymphs divinely bright,
Fair Freedom, Science, speed their westering flight,
Where Albion, lovely Albion! spreads her charms,
And woos the exil'd wanderers to her arms.
"In other lands, by Ganges' yellow wave,
Dominions of the tyrant and his slave;
'Mid climes with equatorial splendour gay,
Where equinoxial horrors spread dismay;
By Arno's banks, where livelier colours glow,
Or by the wan dering waters of the Po;
Or where on isles that spot the western deep,
Where fierce Tornado bids his tempests sweep,
Where Slavery lifts to heaven her iron bands,
And the dread earthquake desolates the lands,
Though richer hues and brighter blossoms shine,
Land of the brave! than e'er would bloom on thine,
Yet thou art happy, pleasure dwells with thee,
For, Albion! O, my country! thou art free.
"But who is he essays the lay to weave,
As, laid by Avon's wave at summer's eve,
He scans the old traditionary rhymes,
And meditates the song of future times?
Before his eyes, in joyous revels, pass
The fairy bands, nor bow the velvet grass:
A tiny race! that leave their flowery cells,
Or hide them in the lily's dewy bells.
Lo! the weird sisters' mystic forms appear,
And chaunt their wildest witch-notes in his ear:
They roam with Hecate the blasted heath,
And hail the Thane of Cawdor, hail Macbeth!
Come, to my arms, sweet SHAKESPEAR, artless, wild,
The child of Nature, thou shalt be my child!
To PROSPER'S lonely cell I'll lead thy feet,
And shed o'er thy charm'd sense my visions sweet,
And bid thee all antiquity explore,
And teach thee all my charms and all my lore;
Then, with expanded wing and sails unfurl'd,
Give thee with pride to the astonish'd world!
"With daring flight, exploring earth and sky,
Lo! NEWTON, sunward, turns his eagle eye;
Directs the wandering planets in their course,
And traces Gravitation to its source;
From its pure fount th' electric fluid guides,
And bids the pale moon sway the trembling tides;
Fixes the freezing, the antarctic pole,
And gives the vast terraqueous globe to roll.
"Where Patriot Valour stretch'd the arm to save,
Across the West's unconquerable wave,
The lurid flash descends, the Storm rolls on,
And cloud-capt Andes trembles on his throne,
To heights sublime, intrepid FRANKLIN! rise,
And bid thy steely points invade the skies;
Snatch from the Avenger's arm and bright abodes,
The lightning's brand, the thunder of the Gods;
Shield from the Tempest's all-consuming power,
Earth's fairest boast of fabric, tree, and flower;
Bid, o'er the wave, his bark the sailor guide,
Tho' the dark storms descend, and forked terrors glide.—
With hand less bold, and bosom less humane,
Prometheus stole from the ethereal plain,
When smil'd upon the theft the Helmed Maid,
The flames that play'd innocuous round his head.
"Blest Sage! when Evening's spangled ensigns wave,
The western star shall guide me to thy grave:
There oft shall twilight love to linger near,
And Hesper's radiance tremble through a tear;
And there, Philosophy, with sorrowing eye,
And Virtue, fairest daughter of the sky,
And there MECHANIC GENIUS oft shall bend;
And mourn for ever fled, a brother and a friend.
"Yes! there are greater, happier men than kings,
Titles are nought, and riches paltry things!
Can these from lassitude the spirit save?
Their memory from the midnight of the grave?
Far thence, full oft, the genuine Muses shed
The tears that consecrate the honour'd dead,
And grateful Nature hails her guiding star,
And Fame's loud clarion echoes from afar.
Hence, borne on viewless wing, the spirit sails,
To breathe her sighs and vows in other vales;
Sweeps o'er the scene where once great ILIUM stood,
The DARDON shore, and fam'd SCAMANDER'S flood:
On ATTIC lands is shed the light from high,
Hear this great truth, 'The soul can never die!'
Where TULLY sleeps, where VIRGIL'S laurels wave,
Bid hands unseen array each hallow'd grave;
In fair VAUCLUSE, o'er LAURA drop the tear,
And strew unfading roses on her bier;
Or rove, with awe, where AVON laves the glade,
Or by thy winding waters, sylvan JED;
Or catch their sounds in TWICK'NAM'S sparry caves,
NYMPH OF THE GROT, thy consecrated waves!
Still shall their magic power the trance prolong,
Still shall they murmur in thy poet's song!
"Hence, with the manly veneration due,
Shall Genius still their glorious path pursue,
And often, while the heart's warm wishes wake
For love, for pity, or for freedom's sake,
The breast shall thrill with exquisite alarms,
And all the maddening pulses beat to arms.
The foes of Error, or the friends of Man,
Where'er on earth their bright career began,
Where'er on earth their sacred dust repose,
Still there the tear of fond affection flows;
And there with awe congenial souls shall turn,
And there the fires of emulation burn.
"What! has the Sun of Science set in night?
Has Death for ever shut the gates of light?
Away! 'twas but the glimmering
That dimly heralds in the beams of heaven;
The pledge of day, o'er night's dark cope that stole,
Perfection's dawn, the day-spring of the soul.
Slow spread the rays of Knowledge and of Taste,
But once imbib'd can never be effac'd.
Blest pair! in vain shall clouds obstruct your fire,
Your lamp is lighted never to expire!
Led by the splendor of your opening ray,
I wake the future embryos into day;
Bid other NEWTONS, other FRANKLINS rise,
And read to man the secrets of the skies;
A HOWARD still once more the orphan's moan;
A WALLACE shake a tyrant on his throne;
Another PLATO bless the world again,
Another SHAKESPEAR pour the deathless strain!
"For all the toils that rack his manly frame,
Virtue requires no other meed than fame:
Did not the energetic mind have power
To wing her flight beyond the present hour,
Her boundless sphere were narrow'd to a span,
And life a thing not worthy of the Man.
Snatch from his daring a ken the glorious prize,
And what remains to prompt him to be wise?
Bound his aspiring wishes by the grave,
And what shall prompt him to be good or brave?
But let the restless spirit wander free
Amid the prospects of futurity,
And Science holds her cheering lamp to Art,
And wakes each social impulse of the heart.
"From scenes that History has to Fame consign'd,
Each bright example glowing on his mind,
Th' enamour'd youth retires to haunts remote,
To revel in the luxury of thought.
There, while no ear can hear, no eye can see,
He bends to Nature the adoring knee,
And asks some spark of that pure flame from high,
That emanation of the Deity,
Which warm'd the bosoms of the wise and good,
Or gave the patriot faith or fortitude.
Virtue and Fame their mingl'd charms unrol,
And the delirium rushes on his soul.
He marks the gaze the god-like hero draws,
And hears the pealing thunder of applause;
Bids Freedom rise regenerate from the tomb,
And wields the dagger that deliver'd Rome;
With SOCRATES inspires the crowd with awe,
Or gives, with PERICLES, the Senate law;
Or sits with HORACE sportive in the shade,
And binds the Delphic laurel round his head;
Or strives to mingle in one dearer name,
The bowers of Love, the theatre of Fame.
"So, when the maid by Nature's fingers drest,
Wakes the fond flame that warms the stripling's breast,
While gazing on the beauties of the fair,
The heart would rest, but still it knows not where;
O'er all her charms the wilder'd wishes rove,
And the soul wanders in the wilds of love.
"So, when the organ lifts the soul on high,
And peals the soft, sweet music of the sky,
While rapt Attention lists seraphic strains,
Above, below, around enchantment reigns!
"When Ocean's waves reflect the sun's last light,
And Vesper leads the starry train of night,
Who swells the choral incense of the Even,
Night's sacred melody! the songs of Heaven!
And whose the hand the woodland harp that wakes,
When Eve's lone Songstress warbles from the brakes?
So softly swell the murmurs of the lyre,
Eolian spirits wander on the wire,
And love-sick virgins hang upon the strain
And pity melts with ecstacy of pain;
A thousand sweets endear the hallow'd ground,
A thousand ford illusions swarm around!
"Hence Virtue more than mortal charms acquires,
Hope borrows strength, and Science trims her fires;
What time such pure intelligence is lent,
The mind grows conscious of her high descent:
What is this spark of intellectual light?
Creation is too narrow for her flight!
"What, when the daring scheme COLUMBUS plann'd,
Drew the warm wish, the generous purpose fann'd?
What, though he left Iberia far behind,
Bade the heart dance to rapture unconfin'd?
When faded from his sight CANARY'S shores,
And the white surge that washes the AZORES,
For many a long day forc'd his course to keep,
And many a long night linger on the deep,
And still no object met th' enquiring eye,
Save one wide waste of water and of sky;
But when the magnet guide-star of the soul,
Swerv'd from its path, and wander'd from the pole,
And Nature seem'd from Nature to depart,
What terrors took possession of the heart!
Then came Philosophy, with aspect sage,
And bade their jarring discords cease to rage;
And still, at evening's melancholy close,
What hopes, what golden expectations rose,
When many a mountain cliff they seem'd to spy,
And fairy forest waving to the sky!
And, as they fled before the morning ray,
How rose their fears, how died those hopes away!—
So melt the joys that promise still to bless,
So fly th' enchanted shores of Happiness!
"The Day was fix'd, — the Sun's last splendors shone,
Strange lustre play'd around his setting throne;
They hail'd the friendly presage with delight,—
The morning gave new worlds to bless their sight.
What joys, what raptures did ye then dispense,
Ye isles of fragrance! to the ravish'd sense!
Then did your fields their richest charms unfold,
Your rills of Amber, and your streams of Gold;
Then did your groves their fairest liv'ry wear,
And Freedom smill'd upon the vernal year.
"'Tis thus our expectations swell the sail,
Life is the sea, and Passion is the gale;
Long tempest-tost upon the wide expanse,
In Joy's wild chace, and Hope's delusive trance,
The wish goes forth, nor finds whereon to rest,
And, dove-like, seeks again the shelt'ring breast;
And many a joy and fancied bliss appears,
But to dissolve like dreams of earlier years.—
The Sun goes down; — then, sent to sooth and save,
The Day dawns on the midnight of the grave!
'Awake! arise! and see the skies unroll'd,
And all the flowers of Paradise unfold;
Shake off the leaden slumbers of thy rest,
And hear the mingled anthems of the blest.'
The Trumpet sounds, — the curtain is unfurl'd,—
The spirit wakes, — and lo! another world.
"Man has no greater enemy than man,
Why does he, fiend-like, mar the social plan?
Tell me, why Peace and Mercy still must fly,
Where'er he prints the ground, O tell me why?—
BRITANNIA loves the principle humane,
But she is bloated with the odious stain.
The Muse has vindicated Nature's laws,
And still the Muse shall thunder in her cause:
Let BRITONS read, and blush to own it true,
Pause 'mid the list of crimes, and tremble too.
"To sea-born gales, that fan the rippling tide,
Lo! COMMERCE spreads the bellying canvas wide;
With breast that softly heaves, and pennons gay.
She courts the winds to waft her on her way.
Hark! the symphonious strains of music swell,
The sailor sighs, and sings a long farewell.
'Farewell the chalky cliffs, of Britain's isle!
Farewell to love and Anna's angel smile!
Adieu! the wild-woven bower's that pleas'd my youth.
That witness'd to my vows of endless truth;
That oft have heard the song of other days,
That fondly warbled in my Anna's praise.
Ah! many a setting sun shall gild the main,
Ere I shall taste your genuine sweets again:
Yet, oft as ev'ning sheds its watry gleam,
Or morning shoots afar its purple beam,
Whether we stem far distant Gambia's wave
With daring prow, or polar terrors brave,
Still, still on you the anxious thoughts shall dwell,
Ye genuine sweets that now I bid farewell!'
"Go, track illimitable oceans o'er,
The light shall dawn upon Angola's shore!
Pierce Error's maze, the midnight of the mind,
And link in social union human kind.—
Lords of the earth, the masters of the wave!
They come! they come! throng round, the chief, the slave,
Leave the rude waste, the wild wood's dark abode,
'A God, a God!' prepare to meet a God.
O, sacred Heavens! what are the scenes I view?
'Are these the Gods!' ye cry, 'our fancy drew.
Monsters! who wave the desolating brand,
Defile our temples, and pollute our land!
Come they the cheering beams of Truth to spread?
They give us chains and misery in their stead,
If this is light, take back the galling chain,
And give us to our native woods again.'
O, lamp of day! be not thy splendor given
To show such scenes! behold them not high Heaven!
Else shall thy lightnings flash but to consume,
And thy dread earthquakes ope but to entomb.
"Man! at thy birth the hills with gladness rung,
Floods clapp'd their hands, and the green vallies sung;
From every glade, and every stream that flows,
The peal of praise, the long Hosanna rose;
Rejoic'd in acclamations loud to heaven,
Each living thing, 'To us a king is given,
With god-like mind, and capable to feel,
Whose power shall aid the weak, the wounded heal,
Smooth the rude waste, give vernal beauty birth,
And rule with meliorating sway the Earth!'
Ah! then, as conscious exultation grew,
Had all the future flash'd upon their view,
Nature had mourn'd with agonizing cries,
And tears of blood had dimm'd celestial eyes.
"Trim was the bark, and gaily mann'd, that bore
The young MONTALDO from his native shore,
By wayward destiny impell'd to rove,
Far from the haunts of innocence and love,
And doom'd no more MARIA'S smiles to share,
A father's love, a father's tender care;
By noontide visions fir'd, for bloody gain
To brave the billows of the foamy main:
Yet oft would rush upon his yielding mind,
The unstain'd pleasures that he left behind.
Oft as the moon her mellow radiance threw,
Prone on the watry waste they rose to view,
When all the elements forgot to rave,
And holy Silence slept upon the wave;—
When Tritons taught the love-lorn lyre to weep,
Borne on the beryl coursers of the deep.—
'Hark! from their sparry groves and pearly caves,
The sea Nymphs come to charm the list'ning waves;
O! were MARIA here to share their song,
Far sweeter were the music they prolong!
Ye who in coral caves abide,
Ye who leave your bowers of spar,
When the heaving ocean-tide
Trembles to the evening star:
Sea nymphs! sea nymphs! come away,
To swell the merry roundelay.
Blue-ey'd daughters of the wave,
Ye who in the briny streams
Love your floating limbs to lave,
When the pale moon sheds her beams:
Sea-green sisters! come away,
To swell the merry roundelay.
"But who is she, to love-lorn grief resign'd,
With shadowy locks that wander on the wind,
Who bends her course along the shelving strand,
And marks each foamy surge that rolls to land;
Lifts the imploring eye in pensive mood,
And sings her sorrows to the dashing flood?
'Beloved! why dost thou thy course delay?
Ye winds, O waft a lover on his way!
Ye Nereid nymphs, who sooth the sailor's ear
With sea-born harmony, your songs forbear!
Roll on, ye billows of the surgy main,
And waft the vessel o'er the liquid plain.
Is it a sail my straining eyes survey?
Ah, no! 'twas but the ocean's whitening spray.'
That bark, MARIA, thou shalt hail no more!
MONTALDO sleeps upon wild AFRIC'S shore!—
Thence, sauntering sad and slow, to moonlight groves
And glimmering shades, the lonely mourner roves,
That oft have heard the song, the vow of truth,
Breath'd melting sweet, in the fair morn of youth;
Where still, 'tis said, the fond MARIA sees
Her lover's spirit gliding on the breeze.
'Com'st thou, MONTALDO, from the roaring deep,
But to behold thy lov'd MARlA weep?
I see thee riding on the passing gale;
But, O MONTALDO! why art thou so pale?
Why are thy shadowy garments of the flood?
Why stain'd thy visionary form with blood?
I see thee borne along the twilight grove,
But thou art sad and silent, O my love!'
"No misery mingles with the lovers' tears
When conscious innocence the pang endears:
'Tis sweet to plant, where the belov'd repose,
The weeping willow and ephemeral rose;
'Tis sweet to tread those walks they lov'd to tread,
While fond remembrance balms the tears they shed.
There, while their breasts with mixt emotions swell,
The charms of those they, lov'd on earth so well
Assimilate with all they hear and see,
And banish every thought of misery;
Dear is the pledge they gave, when forc'd to part,
And dear their memory to the kindred heart.
"When the red SIROC calls his troops to war,
And yokes the blasting whirlwinds to his car,
With dread dominion o'er the Desart reigns,
And lords it wide o'er Asia's fertile plains;
As shrinks the pilgrim from the blaze of day,
And Mecca's hallow'd gloom is far away,
If haply, in some greenwood's waving shade,
He lay him down to rest his weary head,
Around his couch descending Houries throng,
Shed balmy spoils, and quire the soothing song;
Heave their fair breasts, and fan with winnowing wings,
And breathe and look unutterable things:—
So, oft before Affliction's sorrowing eye,
In all the fair effulgence of the sky,
With all the joys that language can express,
Flit the thin forms that talk of happiness.
"Romantic speculations of the mind,
How blest your tranced moments, and how kind!
Moments of joy, to Virtue only given,
As sweet anticipations of her heaven.
"Conscience! when deeds of guilt the mind subdue,
With still small voice thou tak'st a sad adieu:
'Adieu!' I hear thy accents thus express'd,
'I go, but to return in terrors drest!—
In Heaven's indignant car to blaze the crime,
'I go, — but we shall meet some other time!'
—So, ere Philippi's fatal day appear'd,
The gliding Spectre's warning voice was heard:
'BRUTUS, farewell!' he said, or seem'd to say,
'Farewell! we yet shall meet another day.'
—Ha! who can boldly say in, that dread hour,
'And I shall meet thee then, Immortal Power!'
Lo! in her cell, where sad ELIZA sleeps,
Her guardian Angel sorrowing vigils keeps:
How chang'd — how fallen — ah, never more to rise,
The fair who won all hearts, who drew all eyes!
Ah, now no lustre lightens in that eye,
And blanch'd that cheek, once of the rose's dye:
And, oh! — to ease the heart-strings torn with woe,
No sigh will murmur, and no tear will flow.
But why, with phrenzied look and lifted arm,
Brandish the unreal dagger rais'd for harm?
Smile with convulsive agony, and fly
And boldly bid a faithless lover die?
Clasp to thy breast th' imaginary child,
And gaze, and start, and stamp with anguish wild?
"See! by the taper's gleam, along the walls,
Where never pleasure smil'd, or sun-beam falls,
Her pencil, dipt in life's warm colours, shows
The sadly-chequer'd story of her woes.—
On Thames' fair banks behold two lovers laid,
Where gadding ivy forms a treacherous shade,
And the wild rose and pansy deck the ground,
And luscious woodbine flings its scent around.
'Ah! whither do the wanderers love to roam?
The star of evening shines to light them home!'
Virtue, alas! and art thou but a dream?
The star of evening veils its lucent beam!
"So, softly stole to ROSAMONDA'S bower,
The ROYAL LOVER at the twilight hour;
Hung with delight on all her tempting charms,
And clasp'd the beauty in transported arms.
Sceptres and crowns, ye are but shining cares!
Ye give no joys like those the full heart shares,
When Loves in languid indolence recline,
Press with moist lip, with raptur'd arms entwine,
And pour the overflowings of the soul,
And curse the fleeting moments as they roll.
"O, sad reverse! behold ELIZA stand,
The fatal poniard gleaming in her hand,
And wildly gaze, with eyes that cannot weep,
On smiling Innocence that lies asleep:
'Thou smil'st in native loveliness, my boy!—
So smil'd thy faithless father to destroy!
Thy hand is on thy heart, yet free from guile,
But never shall that heart and father's smile
Murder the virgin's peace of mind, my boy!
And breathe, and look, and languish to destroy!'
In vain! — she faints! — she falls! — the strife is o'er,
And Reason, exil'd, holds her throne no more:
But still the horrid vision haunts her brain,
A bleeding lover and an infant slain!
"Then comes the spirit of her softest dream,
To whisper words of comfort and redeem:
'Sleep on, poor child of error, child of grief,
For none on earth can give thy soul relief;
But there is One, sad mourner, in the sky,
Will heal each woe, and calm each rising sigh:
There is no misery he cannot chace;
There is no stain his blood cannot efface;
Then cease, sad spirit, cease this anxious strife,
Thy sins are blotted from the book of life;
Thy prayers, thy sufferings, are come up to Heaven,
ELIZA, Sleep! thy errors are forgiven.'—"
Here paus'd the lyre. — The GODDESS heav'd a sigh
For human woes, and mourn'd in sympathy;
O'er human miseries she dropt the tear,
For mortal bliss to heavenly breasts is dear.
So, when the ruthless Furies steal his soul,
And Man, the murderer, scorns thy soft control,
Angel of Mercy! thou art heard to mourn,
And lure him still to virtue to return:
With dove-like wings thou hover'st round his head,
And shed'st for him the tear he cannot shed.
Passions that mock at Reason, ye who roll
The tide of vice and madness o'er the soul;
Ye vultures of the heart, ye fiends unblest,
Come not to rob my bosom of its rest.
Where shall I fly to shun your fatal rage?
Can'st thou, O Solitude! their wrath assuage,
And bid the anxious spirit cease to toil,
The pulse to riot, and the blood to boil?
—Where if not man a grateful tribute raise,
Woods, murmuring rivers, swell the song of praise;
Where Vesper Anthems peal at close of Even,
And Contemplation wings the soul to heaven,
Say, shall the mind one holy Sabbath keep?—
The Infant's rest, — the Saint's eternal sleep!—
O not, if, scorning Nature, thou hast trod
On Virtue's laws, and waded deep in blood!
If Love and Pity, exil'd from thy heart,
Awoke no feeling, caus'd no melting smart:
Tho' shouting realms their mingled incense roll,
Joy shall depart, and Peace desert thy soul;
And fiends of darkness hollow in thy ear,
'Fools smile, and Vengeance waits on Glory's mad career!'