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man feels, if he expects greatly to move or to interest man kind. They are the ardent sentiments of honor, virtue, magnanimity, and public spirit, that alone can kindle that fire of genius, and call up into the mind those high ideas, which attract the admiration of ages; and if this spirit be necessary to produce the most distinguished efforts of eloquence, it must be necessary also to our relishing them with proper taste and feeling.
The language and sentiments of the above extract cannot be too highly commended. It suggests that it should be a leading object with the teacher, to cultivate a taste for polite literature. A good knowledge of language, an extensive acquaintance with the writers on criticism, will create a just relish for whatever is beautiful, proper, elegant, and ornamental in writing; for all that is lofty in sentiment, sublime in poetry, and admirable in eloquence. A delicate taste for these will give a certain elegance of sentiment to which the ignorant are strangers. The feelings which they create, and the emotions which they excite, are always the most tender, and lead us, almost imperceptibly, to admire whatever is refined in the character and behavior of others, and to abhor whatever is vulgar and selfish. Literature, and a taste for the fine arts, fit us for acting in the social state with dignity and propriety, and furnish so much mental enjoyment, that, in order to avoid ennui, no one need give up his youth to dissipation, or his Bubsequent life to ambition and sordid avarice.
33. Elegy written in a Country Churchyard.
The curfew tolls — the knell of parting day,
The lowing herds wind slowly o'er the lea,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds ;
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed,
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care; No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knee the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield;
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team a-field !
How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys and destiny obscure; Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Await alike the inevitable hour:
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can Honor's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe the dull, cold ear of Death?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire ; Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll; Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem, of purest ray serene,
The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood, Some mute, inglorious Milton, here may rest,
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.
The applause of listening senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade ; nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined, Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind;
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame, Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride,
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learned to stray ; Along the cool, sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet even these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial, still erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by the unlettered Muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply; And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing, anxious being e'er resigned, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind ?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies ;
Some pious drops the closing eye requires; Even from the tomb the voice of nature cries,
Even in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who, mindful of the unhonored dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate, If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
Brushing, with hasty steps, the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
There, at the foot of yonder nodding beech,
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Muttering his wayward fancies, he would rove; Now drooping, woful, wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.
One morn I missed him on the 'customed hill,
Along the heath and near his favorite tree; Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he.
The next, with dirges due, in sad array,
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne. Approach and read, for thou canst read the lay,
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.”
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth,
A youth, to Fortune and to Fame unknown; Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy marked him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere;
Heaven did a recompense as largely send; He gave to Misery all he had,
a tear; He gained from Heaven, 'twas all he wished, a friend.
No further seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,