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515 Ove to Georgiana, Dutchess of Devonshire, on
the twenty-fourth Stanza in her “ Passage over
Song of the Cid
Sonnet. At Barnborough Castle
. On leaving a Village in Scotland
. At Dorer Cliffs, July 20, 1787
The Harp of Sorrow .
586 Mac Gregor's Gathering. Written for Albyn's An-
The Ages of Man
591 Carle, now the King's come. Being 'new Words is
WILLIAM FALCONEr was a native of Edinburgh, Aurora was never heard of after she passed the and went to sea at an early age in a merchant Cape, and was thought to have foundered in the vessel of Leith. He was afterwards mate of a Channel of Mozambique ; so that the poet of the ship that was wrecked in the Levant, and was one Shipwreck may be supposed to have perished by the of only three out of her crew that were saved, a same species of calamity which he had rehearsed. calastrophe which formed the subject of his future The subject of the Shipwreck, and the fate of poem. He was for some time in the capacity of a its author, bespeak an uncommon partiality in its servant to Campbell, the author of Lexiphanes, favour. If we pay respect to the ingenious scholar when purser of a ship. Campbell is said to have who can produce agreeable verses amidst the discovered in Falconer talents worthy of cultiva. shades of retirement, or the shelves of his library, tion, and when the latter distinguished himself as how much more interest must we take in the “shipa poet, used to boast that he had been his scholar. boy on the high and giddy mast” cherishing refined What he learned from Campbell it is not very easy visions of fancy at the hour which he may casually to ascertain. His education, as he often assured snatch from fatigue and danger. Nor did Falconer Governor Hunter, had been confined to reading, neglect the proper acquirements of seamanship in writing, and a liule arithmetic, though in the course cultivating poetry, but evinced considerable knowof his life he picked up some acquaintance with ledge of his profession, both in his Marine Dictionthe French, Spanish, and Italian languages. In ary and in the nautical precepts of the Shipwreck. these his country man was not likely to have much In that poem he may be said to have added a conassisted him; but he might have lent him books, genial and peculiarly British subject to the lanand possibly instructed him in the use of figures. guage ; at least, we had no previous poem of any Falconer published his Shipwreck, in 1762, and by length of which the characters and catastrophe the favour of the Duke of York, to whom it was de were purely naval. dicated, obtained the appointment of a midshipman The scene of the catastrophe (though he followed in the Royal George, and afterwards that of purser only the fact of his own history) was poetically in the Glory frigate. He soon afterwards married laid amidst seas and shores where the mind easily a Miss Hicks, an accomplished and beautiful wo- gathers romantic associations, and where it supman, the daughter of the surgeon of Sheerness poses the most picturesque vicissitudes of scenery yard. At the peace of 1763, he was on the point and climate. The spectacle of a majestic British of being reduced to distressed circumstances by his ship on the shores of Greece brings as strong a ship being laid up in ordinary at Chatham, when, a reminiscence to the mind, as can well be by the friendship of Commissioner Hanway, who imagined, of the changes which time has wrought ordered the cabin of the Glory to be fitted up for in transplanting the empire of arts and civilization. his residence, he enjoyed for some time a retreat Falconer's characters are few; but the calm sagafor study without expense or embarrassment. Here cious commander, and the rough obstinate Rodhe employed himself in compiling his Marine Dic- mond, are well contrasted. Some part of the tionary, which appeared in 1769, and has been love-story of Palemon is rather swainish and proalways highly spoken of by those who are capable tracted, yet the effect of his being involved in the of estimating its merits. He embarked also in the calamity leaves a deeper sympathy in the mind politics of the day, as a poetical antagonist to for the daughter of Albert, when we conceive her Churchill, but with little advantage to his memory. at once deprived both of a father and a lover. Before the publication of his Marine Dictionary he The incidents of the Shipwreck, like those of a had left his retreat at Chatham for a less comfort. well-wrought tragedy, gradually deepen, while able abode in the metropolis, and appears to have they yet leave a suspense of hope and fear to the struggled with considerable difficulties, in the midst imagination. In the final scene there is something of which he received proposals from the late Mr. that deeply touches our compassion in the picture Murray, the bookseller, to join him in the business of the unfortunate man who is struck blind by a which he had newly established. The canse of flash of lightning at the helm. I remember, by. his refusing this offer was, in all probability, the the-way, to have met with an affecting account of appointment which he received to the pursership the identical calamity befalling the steersman of a of the Aurora, East Indiaman. In that ship he forlorn vessel in a similar moment, given in a prose embarked for India, in September, 1769, but the and veracious history of the loss of a vessel on the
coast of America. Falconer skilfully heightens And, while around his sad companions crowd, this trait by showing its effect on the commisera He guides the unhappy victim to the shroud. tion of Rodmond, the roughest of his characters,
Hie thee alost, my gallant friend! he cries; who guides the victim of misfortune to lay hold of
Thy only succour on the mast relies!" the shrouds.
The effect of his sea phrases is to give a definite "A flash, quick glancing on the nerves of light,
and authentic character to his descriptions ; and his Struck the pale helmsman with eternal night:
poem has the sensible charm of appearing a tranRodmond, who heard a pitious groan behind,
script of reality, and leaves an impression of truth Touch'd with compassion, gaz'd upon the blind; and nature on the mind.
With living colours give my verse to glow,
The sad memorial of a tale of wo?
A scene from dumb oblivion to restore,
To fame unknown, and new to epic lore!
Alas; neglected by the sacred Nine,
Their suppliant feels no genial ray divine !
gorical description of memory. Appeal to her assist- 'To plough the tide where wintry tempests roar ?
Or shall a youth approach their hallow'd fane, Ancient state of that island. Present state of the Stranger to Phæbus, and the tuneful train ?adjacent isles of Greece. The season of the year.
Far from the Muses' academic grove, Character of the master and his officers. Story of 'Twas his the vast and trackless deep to rove. Palemon and Anna. Evening described. Midnight. Alternate change of climates has he known, The ship weighs anchor, and departs from the haven. And felt the fierce extremes of either zone; State of the weather. Morning. Situation of the Where polar skies congeal th' eternal snow, neighbouring shores. Operation of taking the sun's
Or equinoctial suns for ever glow. azimuth. Description of the vessel as seen from the land.
Smote by the freezing or the scorching blast,
“A ship-boy on the high and giddy mast,' The scene is near the city of Candia ; and the time about four days
From regions where Peruvian billows roar,
To the bleak coast of savage Labrador.
Atlantic and Pacific seas divides.
In Fortune's wild illimitable chase,
Bade new distresses every instant grow,
In regions where th’ Almighty's chastening band
With livid pestilence afflicts the land ;
Parent of want and misery severe;
Where the torn vessel, wind and wave assail,
Till o'er her crew distress and death prevailTill hope expires, and peril and dismay
Where'er he wander'd thus vindictive Fate Wave their black ensigns on the watery way. Pursued his weary steps with lasting hate!
Immortal train, who guide the maze of song, Roused by her mandate, storms of black array To whom all science, arts, and arms belong; Winter'd the morn of life's advancing day; Who bid the trumpet of eternal fame
Relax'd the sinews of the living lyre,
And quench'd the kindling spark of vital fire.-
What hope to win the coy, reluctant Muse ?
The harvest of his humble hope destroy! Or listen, while th' enchanting voice of love,
His verse no laurel wreath attempts to claim, While all Elysium warbled through the grove ;
Nor sculptur'd brass to tell the poet's name. 0! by the hollow blast that moans around,
If terms uncouth, and jarring phrases, wound
Yet here let listening Sympathy prevail,
A thousand tender thoughts their souls employ, While conscious Truth unfolds her piteous tale! That fondly dance to scenes of future joy. And lo! the power that wakes th' eventful song Thus time elapsed, while o'er the pathless tide Hastes hither from Lethean banks along:
Their ship throngh Grecian seas the pilots guide. She sweeps the gloom, and rushing on the sight, Occasion callid to touch at Candia's shore, Spreads o'er the kindling scene propitious light; Which, bless'd with favouring winds, they soon In her right hand an ample roll appears,
explore, Fraught with long annals of preceding years ; The haven enter, borne before the gale, With every wise and noble art of man,
Despatch their commerce, and prepare to sail. Since first the circling hours their course began. Eternal Powers! what ruins from afar Her left a silver wand on high display'd,
Mark the fell track of desolating War! Whose magic touch dispels Oblivion's shade. Here Art and Commerce, with auspicious reign, Pensive her look; on radiant wings, that glow Once breathed sweet influence on the happy plain ; Like Juno's birds, or Iris' Aaming bow,
While o'er the lawn, with dance and festive song, She sails ; and swister than the course of light, Young Pleasure led the jocund hours along. Directs her rapid intellectual fight.
In gay luxuriance Ceres too was seen The fugitive ideas she restores,
[shores. To crown the valleys with eternal green. And calls the wandering thought from Lethe’s For wealth, for valour, courted and revered, To things long past a second date she gives, What Albion is, fair Candia then appear’d. And hoary Time from her fresh youth receives. Ah! who the flight of ages can revoke? Congenial sister of immortal Fame,
The free-born spirit of her sons is broke ; She shares her power, and Memory is her name. They bow to Ottoman's imperious yoke !
O first-born daughter of primeval Time! No longer Fame the drooping heart inspires, By whom transmitted down in every clime, For rude Oppression quench'd its genial fires. The deeds of ages long elapsed are known, But still, her fields with golden harvests crown'd And blazon'd glories spread from zone to zone; Supply the barren shores of Greece around, Whose breath dissolves the gloom of mental night, What pale distress afflicts those wretched isles ; And o'er th' obscured idea pours the light! There hope ne'er dawns, and pleasure never smiles. Whose wing unerring glides through time and place, The vassal wretch obsequious drags his chain, And tracklers scours th' immensity of space! And hears his famish'd babes lament in vain. Say! on what seas, for thou alone canst tell, These eyes have seen the dull reluctant soil What dire mishap a fated ship befell,
A seventh year scorn the weary labourer's toil. Assail'd by tempests ! girt with hostile shores ! No blooming Venus, on the desert shore, Arise! approach! unlock thy treasured stores! Now views with triumph captive gods adore :
A ship from Egypt, o'er the deep impellid No lovely Helens now, with fatal charms, By guiding winds, her course for Venice held; Call forth th' avenging chiefs of Greece to arms : Of famed Britannia were the gallant crew, No fair Penelopes enchant the eye, And from that isle her name the vessel drew. For whom contending kings are proud to die. The wayward steps of Fortune that delude Here sullen Beauty sheds a twilight ray, Full oft to ruin, eager they pursued ;
While Sorrow bids her vernal bloom decay. And, dazzled by her visionary glare,
Those charms so long renown'd in classic strains, Advanced incautious of each fatal snare;
Had dimly shone on Albion's happier plains. Though warnd full oft the slippery track to shun, Now, in the southern hemisphere, the sun Yet Hope, with flattering voice, betray'd them on. Through the bright Virgin and the Scales had run; Beguiled to danger thus, they left behind And on th' ecliptic wheeld his winding way The scene of peace, and social joy resign'd. Till the fierce Scorpion felt his flaming ray, Long absent they, from friends and native home, The ship was moor’d beside the wave-worn strand; The cheerless ocean were inured to roam : Four days her anchors bite the golden sand : Yet Heaven, in pity to severe distress,
For sick’ning vapours lull the air to sleep, Had crown'd each painful voyage with success : And not a breeze awakes the silent deep. Still to atone for toils and hazards past,
This, when th' autumnal equinox is o'er, Restored them to maternal plains at last.
And Phæbus in the north declines no more, Thrice had the sun, to rule the varying year The watchful mariner, whom Heaven informs, Across th' equator roll'd his flaming sphere, Oft deems the prelude of approaching storms. Since last the vessel spread her ample sail True to his trust, when sacred duty calls, From Albion's coast, obsequious to the gale. No brooding storm the master's soul appals ; She, o'er the spacious flood, from shore to shore, Th'advancing season warns him to the main :Unwearying, wafted her commercial store. A captive, fetter'd to the oar of gain! The richest ports of Afric she had view'd, His anxious heart impatient of delay, Thence to fair Italy her course pursued ;
Expects the winds to sail from Candia's bay, Had left behind Trinacria's burning isle,
Determined, from whatever point they rise, And visited the margin of the Nile.
To trust his fortune to the seas and skies. And now, that winter deepens round the pole, Thou living Ray of intellectual fire, The circling voyage hastens to its goal,
Whose voluntary gleams my verse inspire !
Ere yet the deep'ning incidents prevail,
Record whom, chief among the gallant crew, For Britain's coast, and dread no perils near. Th' unblest pursuit of fortune hither drew!