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The Pleasures of Memory.
IN TWO PARTS.
Vivere bis, vitá posse priore frui.-Mart.
Ou could my mind, unfolded in my page,
Colle, che mi piacesti,
Ov' ancor per usanza Amor mi mena;
regularity. They are sometimes excited by sensible objects, and sometimes by an internal operation of the mind. Of the former species is most probably the memory of brutes; and its many sources of pleasure to them, as well as to us, are considered in the first part. The latter is the most perfect degree of memory, and forms the subject of the second.
When ideas have any relation whatever, they are attractive of each other in the mind; and the perception of any object naturally leads to the idea of another, which was connected with it either in time or place, or which can be compared or contrasted with it. Hence arises our attachment to inanimate objects; hence also, in some degree, the love of our country, and the emotion with which we contemplate the celebrated scenes of antiquity. Hence a picture directs our thoughts to the original: and, as cold and darkness suggest forcibly the ideas of heat and light, he, who feels the infirmities of age, dwells most on whatever reminds him of the vigor and vivacity of his youth.
The associating principle, as here employed, is no less conducive to virtue than to happiness; and, as such, it frequently discovers itself in the most tumultuous scenes of life. It addresses our finer feelings, and gives exercise to every mild and generous propensity.
Not confined to man, it extends through all animated nature; and its effects are peculiarly striking in the domestic tribes.
TWILIGHT'S soft dews steal o'er the village-green, THE Poem begins with the description of an obscure With magic tints to harmonize the scene: village, and of the pleasing melancholy which it excites Still'd is the hum that through the hamlet broke, on being revisited after a long absence. This mixed When round the ruins of their ancient oak sensation is an effect of the memory. From an effect The peasants flock'd to hear the minstrel play, we naturally ascend to the cause; and the subject And games and carols closed the busy day. proposed is then unfolded, with an investigation of Her wheel at rest, the matron thrills no more the nature and leading principles of this faculty. With treasured tales, and legendary lore.
It is evident that our ideas flow in continual succes- All, all are fled; nor mirth nor music flows sion, and introduce each other with a certain degree of To chase the dreams of innocent repose.
All, all are fled; yet still I linger here!
Mark yon old Mansion frowning through the trees, Whose hollow turret wooes the whistling breeze. That casement, arch'd with ivy's brownest shade, First to these eyes the light of heaven convey'd. The mouldering gateway strews the grass-grown
Once the calm scene of many a simple sport,
See, through the fractured pediment reveal'd,
Long may the ruin spare its hallow'd guest!
As through the garden's desert paths I rove,
Soar'd in the swing, half pleased and half afraid, Through sister elms that waved their summer shade Or strew'd with crumbs yon root-inwoven seat, To lure the red-breast from his lone retreat!
Childhood's loved group revisits every scene, The tangled wood-walk, and the tufted green! Indulgent MEMORY wakes, and lo, they live! Clothed with far softer hues than Light can give Thou first, best friend that Heaven assigns below To soothe and sweeten all the cares we know ; Whose glad suggestions still each vain alarm, When nature fades, and life forgets to charm; Thee would the Muse invoke!-to thee belong The sage's precept, and the poet's song. What soften'd views thy magic glass reveals, When o'er the landscape Time's meek twilight steals As when in ocean sinks the orb of day, Long on the wave reflected lustres play; Thy temper'd gleams of happiness resign'd Glance on the darken'd mirror of the mind. The School's lone porch, with reverend mosses grey Just tells the pensive pilgrim where it lay. Mute is the bell that rung at peep of dawn, Quickening my truant feet across the lawn: Unheard the shout that rent the noontide air, When the slow dial gave a pause to care. Up springs, at every step, to claim a tear, (1) Some little friendship form'd and cherish'd here, And not the lightest leaf, but trembling teems With golden visions, and romantic dreams!
Down by yon hazel copse, at evening, blazed The Gipsey's fagot-there we stood and gazed; Gazed on her sun-burnt face with silent awe, Her tatter'd mantle, and her hood of straw; Her moving lips, her caldron brimming o'er; The drowsy brood that on her back she bore, Imps in the barn with mousing owlet bred, From rifled roost at nightly revel fed; Whose dark eyes flash'd through locks of blackest When in the breeze the distant watch-dog bay'd:And heroes fled the Sibyl's mutter'd call, Whose elfin prowess scaled the orchard-wall. As o'er my palm the silver piece she drew, And traced the line of life with searching view, How throbb'd my fluttering pulse with hopes and fears,
To learn the color of my future years!
Ah, then, what honest triumph flush'd my breast; This truth once known-To bless is to be blest! We led the bending beggar on his way, (Bare were his feet, his tresses silver-grey) Soothed the keen pangs his aged spirit felt, And on his tale with mute attention dwelt. As in his scrip we dropt our little store, And sigh'd to think that little was no more, [live!" He breathed his prayer, "Long may such goodness 'Twas all he gave, 'twas all he had to give.
But hark! through those old firs, with sullen swell, The church-clock strikes! ye tender scenes, farewell It calls me hence, beneath their shade, to trace The few fond lines that Time may soon efface.
On yon grey stone, that fronts the chancel-door Worn smooth by busy feet now seen no more, Each eve we shot the marble through the ring, When the heart danced, and life was in its spring, Alas! unconscious of the kindred earth, That faintly echo'd to the voice of mirth.
The glow-worm loves her emerald light to shed, Where now the sexton rests his hoary head. Oft, as he turn'd the greensward with his spade, He lectured every youth that round him play'd; And, calmly pointing where our fathers lay, Roused us to rival each, the hero of his day. Hush, ye fond flutterings, hush! while here alone I search the records of each mouldering stone. Guides of my life! instructors of my youth! Who first unveil'd the hallow'd form of Truth; Whose every word enlighten'd and endear'd; In age beloved, in poverty revered; In Friendship's silent register ye live, Nor ask the vain memorial Art can give.
-But when the sons of peace, of pleasure sleep, When only Sorrow wakes, and wakes to weep, What spells entrance my visionary mind With sighs so sweet, with transports so refined! Ethereal Power! who at the noon of night Recall'st the far-fled spirit of delight; From whom that musing, melancholy mood Which charms the wise, and elevates the good; Blest MEMORY, hail! Oh grant the grateful Muse, Her pencil dipt in Nature's living hues, To pass the clouds that round thy empire roll, And trace its airy precincts in the soul.
Luli'd in the countless chambers of the brain, Our thoughts are link'd by many a hidden chain. Awake but one, and lo, what myriads rise! (2) Each stamps its image as the other flies! Each, as the various avenues of sense Delight or sorrow to the soul dispense, Brightens or fades; yet all, with magic art, Control the latent fibres of the heart. As studious PROSPERO'S mysterious spell Drew every subject-spirit to his cell; Each, at thy call, advances or retires, As judgment dictates, or the scene inspires. Each thrilis the seat of sense, that sacred source Whence the fine nerves direct their mazy course, And through the frame invisibly convey The subtle, quick vibrations as they play.
Survey the globe, each ruder realm explore; From Reason's faintest ray to NEWTON soar. What different spheres to human bliss assign'd! What slow gradations in the scale of mind! Yet mark in each these mystic wonders wrought; Oh mark the sleepless energies of thought!
The adventurous boy, that asks his little share,
All rouse Reflection's sadly-pleasing train,
Long o'er the wave a wistful look he cast,
So Scotia's Queen, (5) as slowly dawn'd the day,
This makes him wish to live, and dare to die.
And hence the charm historic scenes impart: (9)
In Rome's great forum, who but hears him roll
And hence that calm delight the portrait gives:
What though the iron school of War erase
The intrepid Swiss, who guards a foreign shore,
Melts at the long-lost scenes that round him rise,
Ask not if courts or camps dissolve the charm: Say why Vespasian loved his Sabine farm; (15) Why great Navarre, (16) when France and freedom bled,
Sought the lone limits of a forest-shed.
Say, when contentious Charles renounced a throne, (18)
Undamp'd by time, the generous Instinct glows
The social tribes its choicest influence hail :—
Yes, though the porter spurn him from the door,
Want with her babes round generous Valor clung, To wring the slow surrender from his tongue, "T was thine to animate her closing eye; Alas! 't was thine perchance the first to die, Crush'd by her meagre hand, when welcomed from the sky.
Hark! the bee (21) winds her small but mellow
Blithe to salute the sunny smile of morn.
THE Memory has hitherto acted only in subservi ence to the senses, and so far man is not eminently distinguished from other animals: but, with respect to man, she has a higher province; and is often busily employed, when excited by no external cause whatever. She preserves, for his use, the treasures of art and science, history and philosophy. She colors all the prospects of life: for "we can only anticipate the future, by concluding what is possible from what is past." On her agency depends every effusion of the Fancy, who with the boldest effort can only compound or transpose, augment or diminish, the materials which she has collected.
When the first emotions of despair have subsided, and sorrow has softened into melancholy, she amuses with a retrospect of innocent pleasures, and inspires that noble confidence which results from the consciousness of having acted well. When sleep has suspended the organs of sense from their office, she not only sup plies the mind with images, but assists in their combination. And even in madness itself, when the soul is resigned over to the tyranny of a distempered imagination, she revives past perceptions, and awakens that train of thought which was formerly most familiar.
Nor are we pleased only with a review of the brighter passages of life. Events, the most distressing in their immediate consequences, are often cherished in remembrance with a degree of enthusiasm.
Led by what chart, transports the timid dove The wreaths of conquest, or the vows of love? Say, through the clouds what compass points her flight? Monarchs have gazed, and nations bless'd the sight. Pile rocks on rocks, bid woods and mountains rise, Eclipse her native shades, her native skies:'Tis vain! through Ether's pathless wilds she goes, And lights at last where all her cares repose. Sweet bird! thy truth shall Haarlem's walls at- and solitude is her best sphere of action. With this
And unborn ages consecrate thy nest.
But the world and its occupations give a mechanical impulse to the passions, which is not very favorable to the indulgence of this feeling. It is in a calm and well-regulated mind that the Memory is most perfect;
sentiment is introduced a Tale illustrative of her influence in solitude, sickness, and sorrow. And the subject having now been considered, so far as it relates to man and the animal world, the Poem concludes with