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of winter within the Polar Circle, and of a thaw, and concludes the poem with moral reflections on a suture state.
His reflections on midnight, and the address to the Supreme Being, are pious and beautisul.
As yet 'tis midnight deep. The weary clouds,
Where now, ye lying vanities of lise!
Father of light and lise! thou Good Supreme!
The description of a deep snow, and of a husbandman lost in it, with the reflections on the wants and miferies of mankind, are seafonable and pathetic.
As thus, the snows arife; and foul, and sierce; All winter drives along the darken'd air; In his own loose-revolving sields, the swain Difaster'd stands; sees other hills ascend, Of unknown joyless brow; and other scenes, Of horrid prospect, shag the trackless plains; Nor sinds the river, nor the forest, hid Beneath the formless wild i but wanders on From hill to dale, still more and more astray; Impatient flouncing thro1 the drifted heaps, Stung with the thoughts of home; the thoughts of horns Rush on his nerves, and call their vigour forth
In many a vain attempt. How links his foul!
What black despair, what horror sills his heart!
When for the dusky spot, which fancy seign'd
His tufted cottage rising thro' the snow,
He meets the roughness of the middle waste,
Far from the track, and blest abode of man;
While round him night resistless closes fast,
And every tempest, howling o'er his head,
Renders the favage wilderness more wild.
Then throng the busy shapes into his mind,
Of cover'd pits, unfathomably deep,
A dire descent! beyond the power of frost,
Of faithless bogs; of precipices huge,
Smooth'd up with snow; and, what is land, unknown.
What water, of the still unfrozen spring,
In the loose marsh or folitary lake,
Where the fresh fountain from the bottom boils.
These check his searsul steps; and down he sinks
Beneath the shelter of the shapeless drift,
Thinking o'er all the bitterness of death,
Mix'd with the tender anguifh nature shoots
Thro* the wrung bosum of the dying man,
His wise, his children, and his friends unseen.
In vain for him th' osficious wise prepares
The sire fair blazing, and the vestment warm;.
In vain his little children, peeping out
Into the mingling storm, demana their sire,
With tears of artless innocence. Alas!
Nor wise, nor children, more shall he behold,
Nor friends, nor facred home. On every nerve
The deadly winter seizes; shuts up sense;
And, o'er his inmost vitals creeping cold,
Lays him along the snows, a iliffned corse,
Stretch'd out, and bleaching in the northern blast.
Ah little think the gay licentious proud,
His conclusion glows with a st ain of piety worthy of a christian poet and philosupher, and is too perspicuous and forcible to require or admit of any remark.
'Tis done! dread Winter spreads his latest gloom, And reigns tremendous o'er the conquer'd year. How dead the vegetable kingdom lies! How dumb the tunesul! Horror wide extends His desulate domain. Behold, fond man! See here thy pictur'd lise; pass sume sew years, Thy flowering spring, thy summer's ardent strength, Thy suber autumn fading into age, And pale concluding winter comes at last, And shuts the scene. Ah! whither now are fled, Those dreams of greatness? Those.unsulid hopes Of happiness? Those longings after fame? Those restless cares? Those busy bustling days? Those gay-spent, sestive nights? Those veering thoughts Lost between good and ill, that soar'd thy life? All now arevanish'd ! Virtue fole-survives, Immortal never-failing friend of man, His guide to happiness on high. And see! 'Tis come, the glorious morn! the second birth Of heaven, and earth! awakening nature hears The new creating <v:ord, and starts to lise, In every heighten'd form, from pain and death For ever free. The great eternal scheme. Involving all, and in a f er/ed whole Uniting, as the prospect wider spreads, To reasun's eye retin'd clears up apace. Ye vainly wise! ye blind presumptuous! now, Confounded in the dust, adore that Power, And Wisdom oft arraign'd: see now the cause, Why unassuming worth in secret liv'd. And dy'd, neglected: why the good man's share In life was gall and bitterness os foul: Why the lone widow and her orphans pin'd In starving folitude; while luxury, In palaces, lay straining her low thought, To form unreal wants: why heaven-born truth, And moderation fair, wore the red marks Of superstition's scourge: why licens'd pain, That cruel spoiler, that embofom'd foe,
Jmbitter'd all our blifs. Ye good distrest!
THE method of writing Precepts in verse, and embellishing them with the graces of poetry, had its rise, we may suppose, from a due consideration of the frailties and perversenese of human nature; and was intended to engage the affections, in order to improve the mind and amend the heart.
Were it possible to inspect into the minds of men, and see their inmost thoughts, we should sind, I am afraid, that most of the human race are fond of appearing wifer than they are, and though they wish for knowledge are unwilling to consess the want of it, or to seek after science for sear of being thought ignorant. Yet there are others, especially amongst our youth, who are under no apprehension of this kind, but fly from knowledge only because the roads to it are rugged, and the approaches difficult of access. To footh therefore the vanity of the one, and to remove the indolence of the other, poetry was called in to the aid of science, which by its peculiar gracesulness and address could foften the appearance of instruction, and render rules that were dull and difagreeable, sprightly and entertaining. The inventor of didactic poetry knew not only the desects of mankind, but likewife the force and power of a genteel and winning address : He consider'd that ignorance and inattention were not the only enemies to science; but that pride, impatience, and affectation, were likewife to be vanquished; and therefore adorned and enriched his precepts, that pleasure might allure the one, and keep the other in countenance.
Men must be taught as if you taught them not,
Knowledge that is conveyed thus indirectly, and without the appearance of a dictator, will be learned with more ease, sink deeper into the understanding, and fo six itself in the mind as not to be easily obliterated. And these considerations, we may suppose, induced the priests and bards of old to deliver their laws and religious maxims in verse.
Didactic or Preceptive Poetry, has been usually employed either to illustrate and explain our moral duties; our philofophical enquiries; our business and pleasures; or in teaching the art of criticifm or poetry itself. It may be adapted, however, to any other subject, and may, in all cases, where instruction is designed, be employed to good purpose. Some subjects, indeed, are more proper than others, as they admit of more poetical ornaments, and give a greater latitude to genius; but whatever the subject is, those precepts are to be laid down that are the most useful, and they mould follow each other in a natural easy method, and be delivered in the most agreeable engaging manner. What the prose writer tells you ought to be done, the poet often conveys under the form of a narration, or shews the necessity of in a description; and by representing the action as done, or doing, conceals the precept that should enforce it. The poet, likewife, instead of telling the whole truth, or laying down all the rules that are requisite, selects such parts only as are the most pleasing, and communicates the rest indirectly, without giving us an open view of them; yet takes care that nothing shall escape the reader's notice with which he ought to be acquainted. He difcloses just enough to lead the imagination into the parts that are concealed, and the mind, ever gratisied with its own difcoveries, is complimented with exploring and sinding them out; which, tho' done with ease, seems fo considerable as not to be obtained but in consequence of its own adroitness and fagacity.
But this is not susficient to render didactic poetry always pleasing; for where precepts are laid down one after ar