Page images

The mighty master smiled to see
That love was in the next degree:
'Twas but a kindred sound to move;
For pity melts the mind to love.

Softly sweet in Lydian measures,

Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures;
War, he sung, is toil and trouble;
Honour but an empty bubble;

Never ending, still beginning,
Fighting still, and still destroying;

If the world be worth thy winning,
Think, O think it worth enjoying!
Lovely Thaïs sits beside thee,

Take the good the gods provide thee.
The many rend the skies with loud applause;
So love was crown'd, but music won the cause.
The prince, unable to conceal his pain,

Gazed on the fair

Who caused his care,

And sigh'd and look'd, sigh'd and look'd,
Sigh'd and look'd, and sigh'd again.

At length, with love and wine at once oppress'd,
The vanquish'd victor sunk upon her breast.

Now strike the golden lyre again;

A louder yet, and yet a louder strain.
Break his bands of sleep asunder,

And rouse him like a rattling peal of thunder.
Hark! hark! the horrid sound


[ocr errors]

Has raised up his head.

As awaked from the dead,

And amazed, he stares around.

Revenge, revenge, Timotheus cries:

See the Furies arise;

See the snakes that they rear!

How they hiss in the air.

And the sparkles that flash from their eyes

Behold a ghastly band,

Each a torch in his hand!

These are Grecian ghosts, that in battle were slain,

And unburied remain

Inglorious on the plain;
Give the vengeance due
To the valiant crew:

Behold how they toss their torches on high!
How they point to the Persian abodes,

And glitt'ring temples of their hostile gods!

The Princes applaud, with a furious joy;

And the king seiz'd a flambeau, with zeal to destroy;

Thaïs led the way,

To light him to his prey,

And, like another Helen, fired another Troy.

Thus long ago,

Ere heaving bellows learn'd to blow,

While organs yet were mute,

Timotheus to his breathing flute

And sounding lyre,

Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire.

At last divine Cecilia came,

Inventress of the vocal frame;

The sweet enthusiast, from her sacred store,

Enlarged the former narrow bounds,

And added length to solemn sounds,
With Nature's mother-wit, and arts unknown before.
Let old Timotheus yield the prize,

Or both divide the crown :
He raised a mortal to the skies;
She drew an angel down.

The whole unto Him, and remember who
Prevail'd by wrestling ere the sun did shine;
Pour oil upon the stones, weep for thy sin,
Then journey on, and have an eye to heav'n.
Mornings are mysteries; the first, the world's youth,
Man's resurrection, and the future's bud,

Shroud in their births; the crown of life, light, truth,
Is styled their star; the stone and hidden food:
Three blessings wait upon them, one of which
Should move-they make us holy, happy, rich.
When the world's up, and every swarm abroad,
Keep well thy temper, mix not with each clay;
Despatch necessities; life hath a load

Which must be carried on, and safely may;

Yet keep those cares without thee; let the heart
Be God's alone, and choose the better part.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]




[JOHN DRYDEN, the son of Erasmus Dryden, of Tichmersh, was born at Aldwinkle, in Northamptonshire, in the year 1632. He was educated at Westminster School under the celebrated Dr. Busby, and was elected to one of the Cambridge scholarships. He entered Trinity College in 1650, and, in four years, took his B. A. degree. At the same time, upon the death of his father, he came into possession of property worth about 60l. a year. He soon afterwards began to write poetry and dramatic compositions, and, in 1665, married the Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter of the first Earl of Berkshire. For many years he supported himself solely by his writings; these were principally for the stage, or satires of men of the day, or translations of the classic authors. His poems "Absalom and Achitophel" and "The Hind and the Panther" gained him great reputation, and he was made Poet Laureate. In his later days he wrote "Alexander's Feast: an Ode to St. Cecilia's Day," the finest lyric poem in the English language, and his Fables." Dryden died in poverty on the 1st of May, 1700, at a small house in Gerrard Street, Soho. He had a public funeral, and was buried with great honour in Westminster Abbey.]

"TWAS at the royal feast, for Persia won,

By Philip's warlike son:

Aloft in awful state

The godlike hero sate

On his imperial throne:

His valiant peers were placed around, Their brows with roses and with myrtle bound;

So should desert in arms be crown'd.
The lovely Thaïs by his side

Sat, like a blooming Eastern bride,
In flower of youth and beauty's pride.

« PreviousContinue »