Page images

Such, no doubt, were the privileges which the poet expected, and such were the advantages he derived from the descriptive and allegorical nature of his themes.

seems to have been the whole industry of our author (and it is, at the same time, almost all the claim to moral excellence his writings can boast) to promote the influence of the social virtues, by painting them in the fairest and happiest lights.

if, therefore, it should appear to some readers, that he has been more industrious to cultivate description than sentiment; it may be observed, that his descriptions themselves are sentimental, and answer the whole end of that species of writing, by embellishing every feature of virtue, and by conveying, through the effects of the pencil, the finest moral lessons to the mind.

After these apologies for the descriptive turn of the following odes, something remains to be said on the origin and use of allegory in poetical composition.

It is not the verbal but the sentimental allegory, not allegorical expression (which, indeed, might come under the term of metaphor) but allegorical imagery, that is here in question.

At the birth of letters, in the transition from hieroglyphi

cal to literal expression, it is not to be wondered if the custom of expressing ideas by personal images, which had so long prevailed, should still retain its influence on the mind, though the use of letters had rendered the practical application of it superfluous. Those who had been accustomed to express strength by the image of an elephant, swiftness by that of a panther, and courage by that of a lion, would make no scruple of substituting, in letters, the symbols for the ideas they had been used to represent.

Here we plainly see the origin of allegorical expression, that it arose from the ashes of hieroglyphics; and if to the same cause we should refer that figurative boldness of style and imagery which distinguish the oriental writings, we shall, perhaps, conclude more justly, than if we should impute it to the superior grandeur of eastern genius.

From the same source with the verbal, we are to derive the sentimental allegory, which is nothing more than a continuation of the metaphorical or symbolical expression of the several agents in an action, or the different objects in a:


The latter most peculiarly comes under the denomination of allegorical imagery; and in this species of allegory we include the impersonation, of passions, affections, virtues and vices, &c. on account of which, principally, the following odes were properly termed by their author, allegorical.-L.


O THOU, the friend of man assign’d,
With balmy hands his wounds to bind,

And charm bis frantic woe:
When first Distress, with dagger keen,
Broke forth to waste his destin'd scene,

His wild unsated foe !

By Pella’s Bard,* a magic name,
By ail the griefs his thought could frame,

Receive my humble rite:
Long, Pity, let the nations view
Thy sky-worn robes of tenderest blue,

And eyes of dewy light!

But wherefore need I wander wide
To old Ilissus' distant side,

Deserted stream, and mute?
Wild Arunt too has heard thy strains,
And Echo, 'midst my native plains,

Been sooth'd by Pity's lute.

* Euripides, who was buried at Pella, a city of Macedonia, after residing . there about three years.-C.

+ A river in Sussex.-The mention of Otway, born as well as Collins near the Arun, probably suggested to his melaycholy and indignant mind, an

There first the wren thy myrtles shed
On gentlest Otway's infant head,

To him thy cell was shewn;
And while he sung the female heart,
With youth's soft notes unspoil'd by art,

Thy turtles mix'd their own.

Come, Pity, come, by fancy's aid,
Ev'n now my thoughts, relenting Maid,

Thy temple's pride design:
Its southern site, its truth complete
Shall raise a wild enthusiast heat,

In all who view the shrine.

There Picture's toil shall well relate,
How chance or hard involving fate

O’er mortal bliss prevail:
The buskin'd Muse shall near her stand,
And sighing prompt her tender hand,

With each disastrous tale.

There let me oft, retir'd by day,
In dreams of passion melt away,

Allow'd with thee to dwell:

analogy in their fates which he has forborne to express. They both were the objects of pity, from that circumstance which a liberal mind would least wish to become so-pecuniary distresses.-B.

There waste the mournful lamp of night,
Till, Virgin, thou again delight

To hear a British shell !


THOU, to whom the world unknown
With all its shadowy shapes is shewn;
Who seest appallid th' unreal scene,
While Fancy lifts the veil between :

Ah Fear ! ah frantic Fear?

I see, I see thee near.
I know thy hurried step, thy haggard eye!
Like thee I start, like thee disorder'd fly,
For, lo what monsters in thy train appear!
Danger, whose limbs of giant mould
What mortal eye can fix'd behold ?
Who stalks his round, an hideous forin,
Howling amidst the midnight storm,
Or throws him on the ridgy steep
Of some loose hanging rock to sleep:
And with him thousand phantoms join'd,
Who prompt to deeds accurs’d the mind :
And those, the fiends, who near allied,
O'er nature's wounds, and wrecks preside;

« PreviousContinue »