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At length thou camest; thou, the last and least;
Nick-named “ the Emperor,” by thy laughing brothers, Because a haughty spirit swell’d thy breast,
And thou didst seek to rule and sway the others;
And oh! most like a regal child wert thou !
An eye of resolute and successful scheming ;
Fit for the world's strife, not for Poet's dreaming:
Different from both! Yet each succeeding claim,
I, that all other love had been forswearing,
Nor injured either, by this love's comparing;
THE CHILD OF EARTH.
Fainter her slow step falls from day to day,
Death's hand is heavy on her darkening brow; Yet doth she fondly cling to earth, and say,
I am content to die,—but, oh! not now !-Not while the blossoms of the joyous spring
Make the warm air such luxury to breathe ; Not while the birds such lays of gladness sing;
Not while bright flowers around my footsteps wreathe. Spare me, great God! lift up my drooping brow; I am content to die,—but, oh! not now !”
The spring hath ripened into summer time;
The season's viewless boundary is past ;
Oh! must this glimpse of beauty be the last ?
Let me not perish while o'er land and lea,
With silent steps, the Lord of light moves on; Not while the murmur of the mountain-bee
Greets my dull ear with music in its tone! Pale sickness dims my eye and clouds my brow; I am content to die,-but, oh! not now !”
Summer is gone : and autumn's soberer hues
Tint the ripe fruits, and gild the waving corn ;
Shouts the halloo ! and winds his eager horn.
On the broad meadows, and the quiet stream,
Slant through the fading trees with ruddy gleam ! Cooler the breezes play around my brow; I am content to die,—but, oh! not now !”
The bleak wind whistles : snow-showers, far and near,
Drift without echo to the whitening ground; Autumn hath passed away, and, cold and drear,
Winter stalks on with frozen mantle bound: Yet still that prayer ascends. “Oh! laughingly
My little brothers round the warm hearth crowd, Our home-fire blazes broad, and bright, and high,
And the roof rings with voices light and loud :
The spring is come again—the joyful spring!
Again the banks with clustering flowers are spread; The wild bird dips upon its wanton wing :
The child of earth is numbered with the dead ! “ Thee never more the sunshine shall awake,
Beaming all redly through the lattice-pane;
Nor fond familiar voice arouse again!
SAMUEL ROGERS was born in London, in the year 1762 : his father was a banker,and the Poet, it is known, follows the same profitable calling. His first work, an " Ode to Superstition, and other Poems," was published in 1786. It met with considerable success; and the appearance of the “ Pleasures of Memory," in 1792, at once established a reputation, which has continued undiminished for nearly half a century. The “ Pleasures of Memory" was followed by an “ Epistle to a friend;" " the Voyage of Columbus ;” and “ Jacqueline,” which was originally published in the same volume with Lord Byron's “ Lara." This was succeeded by “ Human Life." His last, and we think his greatest, work, “ Italy," was published in 1823. An edition of this volume, magnificently illustrated by a series of fine engravings, from the designs of Turner and Stothard, appeared in 1830 ; and, although it was at first considered that the author sought only to indulge his fancy by a large expenditure, for which he did not anticipate a return, we believe the extent of its sale has been so large, that the experiment has been exceedingly lucrative. The other “Poems” were published on a similar plan, in 1834. The two volumes are, without exception, the most exquisite examples of embellished books which our age, so fertile in such achievements, has yet produced. They aflord proof that a judicious employment of capital cannot fail to ensure success. It is scarcely necessary to observe, that the Editor of the “ Book of Gems" is indebted to Mr. Rogers for the suggestion of his work.
Mr. Rogers is now not a young man. He has preserved his fame, notwithstanding that since he obtained it so many new and vigorous competitors have started for the same goal. Portraits of him, in abundance, have been published: they all give us the outlines of a countenance strongly marked, -but not one of them supply us with the smallest notion of the shrewd and observant man, who, through nearly all his life in "populous city pent,” has looked much about him, both at home and abroad; has devoted all his leisure to the “proper study of mankind;" and whose natural talent has been matured and polished by a long intercourse with all the finer spirits of the age. Few men have been more extensively known, or more universally courted; his conversation is remarkably brilliant, and his wit pure and original.
Mr. Rogers, it is said, writes with labour, and polishes with exceeding care. His poems are not, perhaps, remarkable for passion or vigour; and
does not attempt invention. They are, however, surpassingly sweet, touching, and correct; a false rhyme, or an inharmonious sound, rarely or never occurs in any of his productions. He is the contemplative philosopher, rather than the man of action. It may be that his earnest desire to refine, has often lessened the strength of a thought; and that the melody of his verse has procured him more admirers than the energy of his conceptions; but if the grand object of a writer is to give pleasure to a reader, he has undoubtedly attained it. The “ Pleasures of Memory" has stood the test of time; the grandsires of the present race loved it; and it remains one of the most popular productions of the press. His “ Italy" will for ever hold place among the finest poems in the language. Its leading feature is simplicity. Nature itself is not more free from meretricious and inappropriate ornament. It is the record of a “keen observer"learned and contemplative-passing through a country, every spot of which has been made familiar to the scholar by his books, telling all he sees, hears, and thinks, in language so unforced and natural, so graceful and impressive, that the people with their habits, and the palaces with their traditions, appear actually before the reader. In a brief preface to the work, he says, " wherever he came he could not but REMEMBER;"—it is, however, in calling actual observation and experience to the aid of memory and reading, that his great excellence consists. His descriptions are marvellously accurate : with a single sentence he pictures a whole scene; the worthy and the unworthy of past ages are brought, as it were, under our very eyes; and the deep pathos with which the legendary tales are told, is singularly affecting. Who that has read the story of Ginevra can ever forget it? How different from-because how much more natural than--the solemn dignity of Childe Harold, or the impassioned glow of Corinne, is the “ Italy" of Rogers. It is, indeed, a romance without exaggeration ; a book of travels, without a tedious detail; a history of classic ground, which may be acquired without struggling to obtain it through the schools; and a poem, with all the best, most exciting, and most attractive attributes of poetry.
Dear is my little native vale,
The ring-dove builds and murmurs there; Close by my cot she tells her tale
To every passing villager.
In orange-groves and myrtle-bowers,
That breathe a gale of fragrance round, I charm the fairy-footed hours
With my loved lute's romantic sound;
The shepherd's horn at break of dav,
The ballet danced in twilight glade,
Sung in the silent greenwood shade :
ON A TEAR.
Oh! that the Chemist's magic art
Could crystallize this sacred treasure ! Long should it glitter near my heart,
A secret source of pensive pleasure.
The little brilliant, ere it fell,
Its lustre caught from Chloe's eye ; Then, trembling, left its coral cell,
The spring of Sensibility!
Sweet drop of pure and pearly light!
In thee the rays of virtue shine,More calmly clear, more mildly bright,
Than any gem that gilds the mine.
Benign restorer of the soul !
Who ever fly'st to bring relief,— When first we feel the rude controul
Of love or pity, joy or grief.
The sage's and the poet's theme,
In every clime-in every age; Thou charm'st in fancy's idle dream,
In reason's philosophic page.
That very law which moulds a tear,
And bids it trickle from its source, That law preserves the earth a sphere,
And guides the plancts in their course.