1806
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Ode, read at the first Meeting of the Bath Humane Society.

Poetical Amusement on the Journey of Life; consisting of Various Pieces in verse: serious, theatric, epigrammatic and miscellaneous. by William Meyler.

William Meyler


A Pindaric ode celebrating the foundation of a rescue society at Bath, dated "1806." The poem consists of two narratives, the first describing the resuscitation of a young man nearly drowned in the Avon, as his anxious mother looks on: "She sees the genial warmth applied, | She sees the pow'rs electric tried; | And now, with anxious trembling, marks | Each breath that blows with latent sparks— | Whilst anguish thus her frame bedews, | Stern Perseverance still pursues | The course approved" p. 208-09. The second episode describes the revival of a young woman attempting suicide; in this instance comforts of a different kind are administered: "Sweet consolation, with reprovals kind, | Cheer'd sooth'd, and reconcil'd the chasten'd mind, | Whilst mild RELIGION ev'ry effort tries, | To crush DESPAIR, and point to happier skies" p. 210.

At this period William Collins's Ode on the Passions was being performed regularly, and seems to have inspired several occasional odes like this one, intended for dramatic readings before an audience. William Meyler was a bookseller and newspaper editor at Bath. Though he would have been a prominent local figure, little seems to have been recorded of him.



Resuscitation hail! whose potent breath
Can wrest the Victim from impending Death!
Type of the World's great Saviour! him whose hand
Could make the still, cold breast again expand;
And, list'ning to the Widow's piercing cries,
Command to life her bier-stretch'd Son to rise;
Oh! glorious attribute of pow'r divine!
To shield, to succour, and to save is thine!

The treach'rous stream that stilly winds
Around old Badon's walls;
Lures to its bosom youthful minds,
And by its smile enthrals.

One, fearless of its surface green,
Adventures from the shore:—
Through eddies strong, or depths unseen,
He sinks to rise no more!

He sinks, yet struggles in the wave—
His fate's for ever cast!
No aid humane was there to save;
He there has breathed his last!

But, happy change! see yon once blooming Boy,
His doating Mother's every hope and joy,
He heedless falls into the whelming flood,
Which stagnates life, and chills the struggler's blood.
Now prompt Relief floats off with ready aid,
And soon on land the pallid corse is laid;
The hapless Mother hears the distant cries,
And to the spot with madd'ning footstep flies;
There sees her Boy in death-like fetters bound,
Wet, cold and breathless, stretch'd along the ground;
She beats her bosom, tears her flowing hair,
And with her loud shrieks rends the yielding air.
SONS OF HUMANITY! behold her woes;
Oh! grant each succour heav'nly Science knows;
Infuse the vital warmth through ev'ry vein,
Excite the torpid pulse to beat again,
Let the breast throb, illume the fast-closed eye!
Or with the Son the Mother too must die.

She sees the genial warmth applied,
She sees the pow'rs electric tried;
And now, with anxious trembling, marks
Each breath that blows with latent sparks—
Whilst anguish thus her frame bedews,
Stern Perseverance still pursues
The course approved — "Oh! list — his groan?
Ah! no — the vital spark is gone.
Still, still proceed — I hear his sigh!
And now — and now he opes his eye!
Convulsive motions now appear—
Oh! god-like agents persevere!—
He moves once more! he grasps my hand!
His lip grows warm! his lungs expand!
Approaching life her signal gives—
His sense returns! — He lives! he lives!"

By love betray'd, the lost AMELIA sigh'd—
AMELIA! false LYSANDER'S promised bride;
To her a Father's door is ever barr'd,
Lost to herself, and to the World's regard!
Too proud to beg — for servitude unskill'd—
Early her mind some virtuous seeds instill'd,
She scorns th' abandon'd Wanton's ways impure,
Yet dreads that public shame she'll soon endure.
IMPIETY then came, with wan DESPAIR—
And bade the Wretch to yonder stream repair—

SELF-MURDER led the road,
As on she wildly strode,
Whilst HORROR shriek'd in ev'ry blast!
From calm REFLEXION'S ray,
She turn'd each thought away,
As from the shore her lovely form she cast!

But near the spot, by Heav'n's divine command,
SONS OF HUMANITY had ta'en their stand!
Scarce had the stream clos'd o'er AMELIA'S head,
Ere they their rescuing aids around her spread;
She's found! whilst yet a spark of life remains,
Glows at her heart, and vibrates in her veins;
They gently lift her from destruction dire,
And with sweet hope the Maniac wild inspire;
Point to the Suicide's tremendous rod,
Who, steep'd in murder, meets his anger'd God;
And, scorning Heav'n's first law, ah! wretch accurst!
"His Maker braves, and dares him to the worst!"
Sweet consolation, with reprovals kind,
Cheer'd sooth'd, and reconcil'd the chasten'd mind,
Whilst mild RELIGION ev'ry effort tries,
To crush DESPAIR, and point to happier skies.

Oh! then, ye Promoters of this hallow'd plan,
Who the embers of life thus successfully fan;
Proceed in your labours so nobly begun,
And be to mischance, like the beams of the Sun,
Whose heat can invig'rate the senseless, cold clod—
And bid the sunk spirit rejoice in God!
Keep from Obloquy's stain, what too long has been said
—In Avon once sunk — irretrievably dead:
Be the slaying of thousands the boast of the Brave—
Your triumphs are greater — your boast is — TO SAVE!

[pp. 207-10]