The Botanic Garden. Part II. Containing The Loves of the Plants. A Poem. With Philosophical Notes: Canto II.

A poem by Erasmus Darwin

The Botanic Garden. Part II. Containing The Loves of the Plants. A Poem. With Philosophical Notes: Canto II.

Again the Goddess strikes the golden lyre,
And tunes to wilder notes the warbling wire;
With soft suspended step Attention moves,
And Silence hovers o'er the listening groves;
5 Orb within orb the charmed audience throng,
And the green vault reverberates the song.
"Breathe soft, ye Gales!" the fair CARLINA cries,
Bear on broad wings your Votress to the skies.
How sweetly mutable yon orient hues,
10 As Morn's fair hand her opening roses strews;
How bright, when Iris blending many a ray
Binds in embroider'd wreath the brow of Day;
Soft, when the pendant Moon with lustres pale
O'er heaven's blue arch unfurls her milky veil;
15 While from the north long threads of silver light
Dart on swift shuttles o'er the tissued night!

[Carlina. l. 7. Carline Thistle. Of the class Confederate Males. The seeds of this and of many other plants of the same class are furnished with a plume, by which admirable mechanism they perform long aerial journeys, crossing lakes and deserts, and are thus disseminated far from the original plant, and have much the appearance of a Shuttlecock as they fly. The wings are of different construction, some being like a divergent tuft of hairs, others are branched like feathers, some are elevated from the crown of the seed by a slender foot-stalk, which gives, than a very elegant appearance, others sit immediately on the crown of the seed.

Nature has many other curious vegetable contrivances for the dispersion of seeds: see note on Helianthus. But perhaps none of them has more the appearance of design than the admirable apparatus of Tillandsia for this purpose. This plant grows on the branches of trees, like the misleto, and never on the ground; the seeds are furnished with many long threads on their crowns; which, as they are driven forwards by the winds, wrap round the arms of trees, and thus hold them fast till they vegetate. This it very analogous to the migration of Spiders on the gossamer, who are said to attach themselves to the end of a long thread, and rise thus to the tops of trees or buildings, as the accidental breezes carry them.]

"Breathe soft, ye Zephyrs! hear my fervent sighs,
Bear on broad wings your Votress to the skies!"--
--Plume over plume in long divergent lines
20 On whale-bone ribs the fair Mechanic joins;
Inlays with eider down the silken strings,
And weaves in wide expanse Dædalian wings;
Round her bold sons the waving pennons binds,
And walks with angel-step upon the winds.

25 So on the shoreless air the intrepid Gaul
Launch'd the vast concave of his buoyant ball.--
Journeying on high, the silken castle glides
Bright as a meteor through the azure tides;
O'er towns and towers and temples wins its way,
30 Or mounts sublime, and gilds the vault of day.
Silent with upturn'd eyes unbreathing crowds
Pursue the floating wonder to the clouds;
And, flush'd with transport or benumb'd with fear,
Watch, as it rises, the diminish'd sphere.
35 --Now less and less!--and now a speck is seen!--
And now the fleeting rack obtrudes between!--
With bended knees, raised arms, and suppliant brow
To every shrine with mingled cries they vow.--
"Save Him, ye Saints! who o'er the good preside;
40 "Bear Him, ye Winds! ye Stars benignant! guide."
--The calm Philosopher in ether fails,
Views broader stars, and breathes in purer gales;
Sees, like a map, in many a waving line
Round Earth's blue plains her lucid waters mine;
45 Sees at his feet the forky lightnings glow,
And hears innocuous thunders roar below.
----Rife, great MONGOLFIER! urge thy venturous flight
High o'er the Moon's pale ice-reflected light;
High o'er the pearly Star, whose beamy horn.
50 Hangs in the east, gay harbinger of morn;
Leave the red eye of Mars on rapid wing;
Jove's silver guards, and Saturn's dusky ring;
Leave the fair beams, which, issuing from afar;
Play with new lustres round the Georgian star;
55 Shun with strong oars the Sun's attractive throne,
The sparkling zodiack, and the milky zone;
Where headlong Comets with increasing force
Through other systems bend their blazing course.--
For thee Cassiope her chair withdraws,
60 For thee the Bear retracts his shaggy paws;
High o'er the North thy golden orb shall roll,
And blaze eternal round the wondering pole.
So Argo, rising from the southern main,
Lights with new stars the blue etherial plain;
65 With favoring beams the mariner protects,
And the bold course, which first it steer'd, directs.

Inventress of the Woof, fair LINA flings
The flying shuttle through the dancing strings;

[For thee the Bear. l. 60. Tibi jam brachia contrahit ardens Scorpius. Virg. Georg. l. 1. 34. A new star appeared in Cassiope's chair in 1572. Herschel's Construction of the Heavens. Phil. Trans. V. 75. p. 266.]

[Linum. l. 67. Flax Five males and five females. It was first found on the banks of the Nile. The Linum Lusitanicum, or portigal flax, has ten males: see the note on Curcuma. Isis was said to invent spinning and weaving: mankind before that time were clothed with the skins of animals. The fable of Arachne was to compliment this new art of spinning and weaving, supposed to surpass in fineness the web of the Spider.]

Inlays the broider'd weft with flowery dyes,
70 Quick beat the reeds, the pedals fall and rise;
Slow from the beam the lengths of warp unwind,
And dance and nod the massy weights behind.--
Taught by her labours, from the fertile soil
Immortal Isis clothed the banks of Nile;
75 And fair ARACHNE with her rival loom
Found undeserved a melancholy doom.--
Five Sister-nymphs with dewy fingers twine
The beamy flax, and stretch the fibre-line;
Quick eddying threads from rapid spindles reel,
80 Or whirl with beaten foot the dizzy wheel.
--Charm'd round the busy Fair five shepherds press,
Praise the nice texture of their snowy dress,
Admire the Artists, and the art approve,
And tell with honey'd words the tale of love.

85 So now, where Derwent rolls his dusky floods
Through vaulted mountains, and a night of woods,
The Nymph, GOSSYPIA, treads the velvet sod,
And warms with rosy smiles the watery God;
His ponderous oars to slender spindles turns,
90 And pours o'er massy wheels his foamy urns;
With playful charms her hoary lover wins,
And wields his trident,--while the Monarch spins.
--First with nice eye emerging Naiads cull
From leathery pods the vegetable wool;

[Gossypia. l. 87. Gossypium. The cotton plant. On the river Derwent near Matlock in Derbyshire, Sir RICHARD ARKWRIGHT has created his curious and magnificent machinery for spinning cotton; which had been in vain attempted by many ingenious artists before him. The cotton-wool is first picked from the pods and seeds by women. It is then carded by cylindrical cards, which move against each other, with different velocities. It is taken from these by an iron-hand or comb, which has a motion similar to that of scratching, and takes the wool off the cards longitudinally in respect to the fibres or staple, producing a continued line loosely cohering, called the Rove or Roving. This Rove, yet very loosely twisted, is then received or drawn into a whirling canister, and is rolled by the centrifugal force in spiral lines within it; being yet too tender for the spindle. It is then passed between two pairs of rollers; the second pair moving faster than the first elongate the thread with greater equality than can be done by the hand; and is then twisted on spoles or bobbins.

The great fertility of the Cotton-plant in these fine flexile threads, whilst those from Flax, Hemp, and Nettles, or from the bark of the Mulberry-tree, require a previous putrefection of the parenchymatous substance, and much mechanical labour, and afterwards bleaching, renders this plant of great importance to the world. And since Sir Richard Arkwright's ingenious machine has not only greatly abbreviated and simplefied the labour and art of carding and spinning the Cotton-wool, but performs both these circumstances better than can be done by hand, it is probable, that the clothing of this small seed will become the principal clothing of mankind; though animal wool and silk may be preferable in colder climates, as they are more imperfect conductors of heat, and are thence a warmer clothing.]

95 With wiry teeth revolving cards release
The tanged knots, and smooth the ravell'd fleece;
Next moves the iron-band with fingers fine,
Combs the wide card, and forms the eternal line;
Slow, with soft lips, the whirling Can acquires
100 The tender skeins, and wraps in rising spires;
With quicken'd pace successive rollers move,
And these retain, and those extend the rove;
Then fly the spoles, the rapid axles glow;--
And slowly circumvolves the labouring wheel below.

105 PAPYRA, throned upon the banks of Nile,
Spread her smooth leaf, and waved her silver style.

[Cyperus. Papyrus. l. 105. Three males, one female. The leaf of this plant was first used for paper, whence the word paper; and leaf, or folium, for a fold of a book. Afterwards the bark of a species of mulberry was used; whence liber signifies a book, and the bark of a tree. Before the invention of letters mankind may be said to have been perpetually in their infancy, as the arts of one age or country generally died with their inventors. Whence arose the policy, which still continues in Indostan, of obliging the son to practice the profession of his father. After the discovery of letters, the facts of Astronomy and Chemistry became recorded in written language, though the antient hieroglyphic characters for the planets and metals continue in use at this day. The antiquity of the invention of music, of astronomical observations, and the manufacture of Gold and Iron, are recorded in Scripture.]

--The storied pyramid, the laurel'd bust,
The trophy'd arch had crumbled into dust;
The sacred symbol, and the epic song,
110 (Unknown the character, forgot the tongue,)
With each unconquer'd chief, or fainted maid,
Sunk undistinguish'd in Oblivion's shade.
Sad o'er the scatter'd ruins Genius sigh'd,
And infant Arts but learn'd to lisp and died.
115 Till to astonish'd realms PAPYRA taught
To paint in mystic colours Sound and Thought.
With Wisdom's voice to print the page sublime,
And mark in adamant the steps of Time.
--Three favour'd youths her soft attention share,
120 The fond disciples of the studious Fair,

[About twenty letters, ten cyphers, and seven crotches, represent by their numerous combinations all our ideas and sensations! the musical characters are probably arrived at their perfection, unless emphasis, and tone, and swell could be expressed, as well as note and time. Charles the Twelfth of Sweden had a design to have introduced a numeration by squares, instead of by decimation, which might have served the purposes of philosophy better than the present mode, which is said to be of Arabic invention. The alphabet is yet in a very imperfect state; perhaps seventeen letters could express all the simple sounds in the European languages. In China they have not yet learned to divide their words into syllables, and are thence necessitated to employ many thousand characters; it is said above eighty thousand. It is to be wished, in this ingenious age, that the European nations would accord to reform our alphabet.]

Hear her sweet voice, the golden process prove;
Gaze, as they learn; and, as they listen, love.
The first from Alpha to Omega joins
The letter'd tribes along the level lines;
125 Weighs with nice ear the vowel, liquid, surd,
And breaks in syllables the volant word.
Then forms the next upon the marshal'd plain
In deepening ranks his dexterous cypher-train;
And counts, as wheel the decimating bands,
130 The dews of Ægypt, or Arabia's sands,
And then the third on four concordant lines
Prints the lone crotchet, and the quaver joins;
Marks the gay trill, the solemn pause inscribes,
And parts with bars the undulating tribes.
135 Pleased round her cane-wove throne, the applauding crowd
Clap'd their rude hands, their swarthy foreheads bow'd;
With loud acclaim "a present God!" they cry'd,
"A present God!" rebellowing shores reply'd--
Then peal'd at intervals with mingled swell
140 The echoing harp, shrill clarion, horn, and shell;
While Bards ecstatic, bending o'er the lyre,
Struck deeper chords, and wing'd the song with fire.
Then mark'd Astronomers with keener eyes
The Moon's refulgent journey through the skies;
145 Watch'd the swift Comets urge their blazing cars,
And weigh'd the Sun with his revolving Stars.
High raised the Chemists their Hermetic wands,
(And changing forms obey'd their waving hands,)
Her treasur'd gold from Earth's deep chambers tore,
150 Or fused and harden'd her chalybeate ore.
All with bent knee from fair PAPYRA claim
Wove by her hands the wreath of deathless fame.
--Exulting Genius crown'd his darling child,
The young Arts clasp'd her knees, and Virtue smiled.

155 So now DELANY forms her mimic bowers,
Her paper foliage, and her silken flowers;

[So now Delany. l. 155. Mrs. Delany has finished nine hundred and seventy accurate and elegant representations of different vegetables with the parts of their flowers, fructification, &c. according with the classification of Linneus, in what she terms paper-mosaic. She began this work at the age of 74, when her sight would no longer serve her to paint, in which she much excelled; between her age of 74 and 82, at which time her eyes quite failed her, she executed the curious Hortus ficcus above-mentioned, which I suppose contains a greater number of plants than were ever before drawn from the life by any one person. Her method consisted in placing the leaves of each plant with the petals, and all the other parts of the flowers, on coloured paper, and cutting them with scissars accurately to the natural size and form, and then parting them on a dark ground; the effect of which is wonderful, and their accuracy less liable to fallacy than drawings. She is at this time (1788) in her 89th year, with all the powers of a fine understanding still unimpaired. I am informed another very ingenious lady, Mrs. North, is constructing a similar Hortus ficcus, or Paper-garden; which she executes on a ground of vellum with such elegant taste and scientific accuracy, that it cannot fail to become a work of inestimable value.]

Her virgin train the tender scissars ply,
Vein the green leaf, the purple petal dye:
Round wiry stems the flaxen tendril bends,
160 Moss creeps below, and waxen fruit impends.
Cold Winter views amid his realms of snow
DELANY'S vegetable statues blow;
Smooths his stern brow, delays his hoary wing,
And eyes with wonder all the blooms of spring.

165 The gentle LAPSANA, NYMPHÆA fair,
And bright CALENDULA with golden hair,

[Lapsana, Nymphæa alba, Calendula. l. 165. And many other flowers close and open their petals at certain hours of the day; and thus constitute what Linneus calls the Horologe, or Watch of Flora. He enumerates 46 flowers, which possess this kind of sensibility. I shall mention a few of them with their respective hours of rising and setting, as Linneus terms them. He divides them first into meteoric flowers, which less accurately observe the hour of unfolding, but are expanded sooner or later, according to the cloudiness, moisture, or pressure of the atmosphere. 2d. Tropical flowers open in the morning and close before evening every day; but the hour of the expanding becomes earlier or later, at the length of the day increases or decreases. 3dly. Æquinoctial flowers, which open at a certain and exact hour of the day, and for the most part close at another determinate hour.

Hence the Horologe or Watch of Flora is formed from numerous plants, of which the following are those most common in this country. Leontodon taraxacum, Dandelion, opens at 5--6, closes at 8--9. Hieracium pilosella, mouse-ear hawkweed, opens at 8, closes at 2. Sonchus lævis, smooth Sow-thistle, at 5 and at 11--12. Lactuca sativa, cultivated Lettice, at 7 and jo. Tragopogon luteum, yellow Goatsbeard, at 3--5 and at 9--10. Lapsana, nipplewort, at 5--6 and at 10--1. Nymphæa alba, white water lily, at 7 and 5. Papaver nudicaule, naked poppy, at 5 and at 7. Hemerecallis fulva, tawny Day-lily, at 5 and at 7--8. Convolvulus, at 5--6. Malva, Mallow, at 9--10, and at 1. Arenarea purpurea, purple Sandwort, at 9--10, and at 2--3. Anagallis, pimpernel, at 7--8. Portulaca hortensis, garden Purilain, at 9--10, and at 11--12. Dianthus prolifer, proliferous Pink, at 8 and at 1. Cichoreum, Succory, at 4--5. Hypochiaeris, at 6--7, and at 4--5. Crepis at 4--5, and at 10--II. Picris, at 4--5, and at 12. Calendula field, at 9, and at 3. Calendula African, at 7, and at 3--4.

As these observations were probably made in the botanic gardens at Upsal, they must require further attention to suit them to our climate. See Stillingfleet Calendar of Flora.]

Watch with nice eye the Earth's diurnal way,
Marking her solar and sidereal day,
Her slow nutation, and her varying clime,
170 And trace with mimic art the march of Time;
Round his light foot a magic chain they fling,
And count the quick vibrations of his wing.--
First in its brazen cell reluctant roll'd
Bends the dark spring in many a steely fold;
175 On spiral brass is stretch'd the wiry thong,
Tooth urges tooth, and wheel drives wheel along;
In diamond-eyes the polish'd axles flow,
Smooth slides the hand, the ballance pants below.
Round the white circlet in relievo bold
180 A Serpent twines his scaly length in gold;
And brightly pencil'd on the enamel'd sphere
Live the fair trophies of the passing year.
--Here Time's huge fingers grasp his giant-mace,
And dash proud Superstition from her base,
185 Rend her strong towers and gorgeous fanes, and shed
The crumbling fragments round her guilty head.
There the gay Hours, whom wreaths of roses deck,
Lead their young trains amid the cumberous wreck;
And, slowly purpling o'er the mighty waste,
190 Plant the fair growths of Science and of Taste.
While each light Moment, as it dances by
With feathery foot and pleasure-twinkling eye,
Feeds from its baby-hand, with many a kiss,
The callow nestlings of domestic Bliss.

195 As yon gay clouds, which canopy the skies,
Change their thin forms, and lose their lucid dyes;
So the soft bloom of Beauty's vernal charms
Fades in our eyes, and withers in our arms.
--Bright as the silvery plume, or pearly shell,
200 The snow-white rose, or lily's virgin bell,
The fair HELLEBORAS attractive shone,
Warm'd every Sage, and every Shepherd won.--
Round the gay sisters press the enamour'd bands,
And seek with soft solicitude their hands.
205 --Ere while how chang'd!--in dim suffusion lies
The glance divine, that lighten'd in their eyes;

[Helleborus. I. 201. Many males, many females. The Helleborus niger, or Christmas rose, has a large beautiful white flower, adorned with a circle of tubular two-lipp'd nectarics. After impregnation the flower undergoes a remarkable change, the nectaries drop off, but the white corol remains, and gradually becomes quite green. This curious metamorphose of the corol, when the nectaries fall off, seems to shew that the white juices of the corol were before carried to the nectaries, for the purpose of producing honey: because when these nectaries fall off, no more of the white juice is secreted in the corol, but it becomes green, and degenerates into a calyx. See note on Lonicera. The nectary of the Tropaeolum, garden nasturtion, is a coloured horn growing from the calyx.]

Cold are those lips, where smiles seductive hung,
And the weak accents linger on their tongue;
Each roseat feature fades to livid green,--
210 --Disgust with face averted shuts the scene.

So from his gorgeous throne, which awed the world,
The mighty Monarch of the east was hurl'd,
To dwell with brutes beneath the midnight storm,
By Heaven's just vengeance changed in mind and form.
215 --Prone to the earth He bends his brow superb,
Crops the young floret and the bladed herb;
Lolls his red tongue, and from the reedy side
Of slow Euphrates laps the muddy tide.
Long eagle-plumes his arching neck invest,
220 Steal round his arms, and clasp his sharpen'd breast;
Dark brinded hairs in bristling ranks, behind,
Rise o'er his back, and rustle in the wind,
Clothe his lank sides, his shrivel'd limbs surround,
And human hands with talons print the ground.
225 Silent in shining troops the Courtier-throng
Pursue their monarch as he crawls along;
E'en Beauty pleads in vain with smiles and tears,
Nor Flattery's self can pierce his pendant ears.

Two Sister-Nymphs to Ganges' flowery brink
230 Bend their light steps, the lucid water drink,
Wind through the dewy rice, and nodding canes,
(As eight black Eunuchs guard the sacred plains),
With playful malice watch the scaly brood,
And shower the inebriate berries on the flood.--
235 Stay in your crystal chambers, silver tribes!
Turn your bright eyes, and shun the dangerous bribes;
The tramel'd net with less destruction sweeps
Your curling shallows, and your azure deeps;
With less deceit, the gilded fly beneath,
240 Lurks the fell hook unseen,--to taste is death!--
--Dim your slow eyes, and dull your pearly coat,
Drunk on the waves your languid forms shall float,

[Two Sister-Nymphs. l. 229. Menispernum. Cocculus. Indian berry. Two houses, twelve males. In the female flower there are two styles and eight filaments without anthers on their summits; which are called by Linneus eunuchs. See the note on Curcuma. The berry intoxicates fish. Saint Anthony of Padua, when the people refused to hear him, preached to the fish, and converted them. Addison's travels in Italy.]

On useless fins in giddy circles play,
And Herons and Otters seize you for their prey.--

245 So, when the Saint from Padua's graceless land
In silent anguish sought the barren strand,
High on the shatter'd beech sublime He stood,
Still'd with his waving arm the babbling flood;
"To Man's dull ear," He cry'd, "I call in vain,
"Hear me, ye scaly tenants of the main!"--
250 Misshapen Seals approach in circling flocks,
In dusky mail the Tortoise climbs the rocks,
Torpedoes, Sharks, Rays, Porpus, Dolphins, pour
Their twinkling squadrons round the glittering shore;
255 With tangled fins, behind, huge Phocæ glide,
And Whales and Grampi swell the distant tide.
Then kneel'd the hoary Seer, to heaven address'd
His fiery eyes, and smote his sounding breast;
"Bless ye the Lord!" with thundering voice he cry'd,
260 "Bless ye the Lord!" the bending shores reply'd;
The winds and waters caught the sacred word,
And mingling echoes shouted "Bless the Lord!"
The listening shoals the quick contagion feel,
Pant on the floods, inebriate with their zeal,
265 Ope their wide jaws, and bow their slimy heads,
And dash with frantic fins their foamy beds.

Sopha'd on silk, amid her charm-built towers,
Her meads of asphodel, and amaranth bowers,
Where Sleep and Silence guard the soft abodes,
270 In sullen apathy PAPAVER nods.
Faint o'er her couch in scintillating streams
Pass the thin forms of Fancy and of Dreams;
Froze by inchantment on the velvet ground
Fair youths and beauteous ladies glitter round;

[Papaver. l. 270. Poppy. Many males, many females. The plants of this class are almost all of them poisonous; the finest opium is procured by wounding the heads of large poppies with a three-edged knife, and tying muscle-shells to them to catch the drops. In small quantities it exhilarates the mind, raises the passions, and invigorates the body: in large ones it is succeeded by intoxication, languor, stupor and death. It is customary in India for a messenger to travel above a hundred miles without rest or food, except an appropriated bit of opium for himself, and a larger one for his horse at certain stages. The emaciated and decrepid appearance, with the ridiculous and idiotic gestures, of the opium-eaters in Constantinople is well described in the Memoirs of Baron de Tott.]

275 On crystal pedestals they seem to sigh,
Bend the meek knee, and lift the imploring eye.
--And now the Sorceress bares her shrivel'd hand,
And circles thrice in air her ebon wand;
Flush'd with new life descending statues talk,
280 The pliant marble softening as they walk;
With deeper sobs reviving lovers breathe,
Fair bosoms rise, and soft hearts pant beneath;
With warmer lips relenting damsels speak,
And kindling blushes tinge the Parian cheek;
285 To viewless lutes aërial voices sing,
And hovering Loves are heard on rustling wing.
--She waves her wand again!--fresh horrors seize
Their stiffening limbs, their vital currents freeze;
By each cold nymph her marble lover lies,
290 And iron slumbers seal their glassy eyes.
So with his dread Caduceus HERMES led
From the dark regions of the imprison'd dead,
Or drove in silent shoals the lingering train
To Night's dull shore, and PLUTO'S dreary reign
295 So with her waving pencil CREWE commands
The realms of Taste, and Fancy's fairy lands;
Calls up with magic voice the shapes, that sleep
In earth's dark bosom, or unfathom'd deep;
That shrined in air on viewless wings aspire,
300 Or blazing bathe in elemental fire.
As with nice touch her plaistic hand she moves,
Rise the fine forms of Beauties, Graces, Loves;
Kneel to the fair Inchantress, smile or sigh,
And fade or flourish, as she turns her eye.

305 Fair CISTA, rival of the rosy dawn,
Call'd her light choir, and trod the dewy lawn;
Hail'd with rude melody the new-born May,
As cradled yet in April's lap she lay.

[So with her waving pencil. l. 295. Alluding to the many beautiful paintings by Miss EMMA CREWE; to whom the author is indebted for the very elegant Frontispiece, where Flora, at play with Cupid, is loading him with garden-tools.]

[Cistus labdaniferus. l. 304. Many males, one female. The petals of this beautiful and fragrant shrub, as well as of the Oenothera, tree primrose, and others, continue expanded but a few hours, falling off about noon, or soon after, in hot weather. The most beautiful flowers of the Cactus grandiflorus (see Cerea) are of equally short duration, but have their existence in the night. And the flowers of the Hibiscus trionum are said to continue but a single hour. The courtship between the males and females in these flowers might be easily watched; the males are said to approach and recede from the females alternately. The flowers of the Hibiscus sinensis, mutable rose, live in the West Indies, their native climate, but one day; but have this remarkable property, they are white at the first expansion, then change to deep red, and become purple as they decay.

The gum or resin of this fragrant vegetable is collected from extensive underwoods of it in the East by a singular contrivance. Long leathern thongs are tied to poles and cords, and drawn over the tops of these shrubs about noon; which thus collect the dust of the anthers, which adheres to the leather, and is occasionally scraped off. Thus in some degree is the manner imitated, in which the bee collects on his thighs and legs the same material for the construction of his combs.]


"Born in yon blaze of orient sky,
310 "Sweet MAY! thy radiant form unfold;
"Unclose thy blue voluptuous eye,
"And wave thy shadowy locks of gold.


"For Thee the fragrant zephyrs blow,
"For Thee descends the sunny shower;
315 "The rills in softer murmurs slow,
"And brighter blossoms gem the bower.


"Light Graces dress'd in flowery wreaths
"And tiptoe Joys their hands combine;
"And Love his sweet contagion breathes,
320 "And laughing dances round thy shrine.


"Warm with new life the glittering throngs
"On quivering fin and rustling wing
"Delighted join their votive songs,
"And hail thee, GODDESS OF THE SPRING."

325 O'er the green brinks of Severn's oozy bed,
In changeful rings, her sprightly troop She led;
PAN tripp'd before, where Eudness shades the mead,
And blew with glowing lip his sevenfold reed;
Emerging Naiads swell'd the jocund strain,
330 And aped with mimic step the dancing train.--

[Sevenfold reed. I. 328. The sevenfold reed, with which Pan is frequently described, seems to indicate, that he was the inventor of the musical gamut.]

"I faint, I fall!"--at noon the Beauty cried,
"Weep o'er my tomb, ye Nymphs!"--and sunk and died.
--Thus, when white Winter o'er the shivering clime
Drives the still snow, or showers the silver rime;
335 As the lone shepherd o'er the dazzling rocks
Prints his steep step, and guides his vagrant flocks;
Views the green holly veil'd in network nice,
Her vermil clusters twinkling in the ice;
Admires the lucid vales, and slumbering floods,
340 Fantastic cataracts, and crystal woods,
Transparent towns, with seas of milk between,
And eyes with transport the refulgent scene:--
If breaks the sunshine o'er the spangled trees,
Or flits on tepid wing the western breeze,
345 In liquid dews descends the transient glare,
And all the glittering pageant melts in air.
Where Andes hides his cloud-wreath'd crest in snow,
And roots his base on burning sands below;
Cinchona, fairest of Peruvian maids
350 To Health's bright Goddess in the breezy glades
On Quito's temperate plain an altar rear'd,
Trill'd the loud hymn, the solemn prayer preferr'd:
Each balmy bud she cull'd, and honey'd flower,
And hung with fragrant wreaths the sacred bower;
355 Each pearly sea she search'd, and sparkling mine,
And piled their treasures on the gorgeous shrine;
Her suppliant voice for sickening Loxa raised,
Sweet breath'd the gale, and bright the censor blazed.

--"Divine HYGEIA! on thy votaries bend
360 Thy angel-looks, oh, hear us, and defend!
While streaming o'er the night with baleful glare
The star of Autumn rays his misty hair;
Fierce from his fens the Giant AGUE springs,
And wrapp'd in fogs descends on vampire wings;

[Cinchona. l. 349. Peruvian bark-tree. Five males, and one female. Several of these trees were felled for other purposes into a lake, when an epidemic fever of a very mortal kind prevailed at Loxa in Peru, and the woodmen, accidentally drinking the water, were cured; and thus were discovered the virtues of this famous drug.]

365 "Before, with shuddering limbs cold Tremor reels,
And Fever's burning nostril dogs his heels;
Loud claps the grinning Fiend his iron hands,
Stamps with his marble feet, and shouts along the lands;
Withers the damask cheek, unnerves the strong,
370 And drives with scorpion-lash the shrieking throng.
Oh, Goddess! on thy kneeling votaries bend
Thy angel-looks, oh, hear us, and defend!"
--HYGEIA, leaning from the blest abodes,
The crystal mansions of the immortal gods,
375 Saw the sad Nymph uplift her dewy eyes,
Spread her white arms, and breathe her fervid sighs;
Call'd to her fair associates, Youth, and Joy,
And shot all-radiant through the glittering sky;
Loose waved behind her golden train of hair,
380 Her sapphire mantle swam diffus'd in air.--
O'er the grey matted moss, and pansied sod,
With step sublime the glowing Goddess trod,
Gilt with her beamy eye the conscious shade,
And with her smile celestial bless'd the maid.
385 "Come to my arms," with seraph voice she cries,
"Thy vows are heard, benignant Nymph! arise;
Where yon aspiring trunks fantastic wreath
Their mingled roots, and drink the rill beneath,
Yield to the biting axe thy sacred wood,
390 And strew the bitter foliage on the flood."
In silent homage bow'd the blushing maid,--
Five youths athletic hasten to her aid,
O'er the scar'd hills re-echoing strokes resound,
And headlong forests thunder on the ground.
395 Round the dark roots, rent bark, and shatter'd boughs,
From ocherous beds the swelling fountain flows;
With streams austere its winding margin laves,
And pours from vale to vale its dusky waves.
--As the pale squadrons, bending o'er the brink,
400 View with a sigh their alter'd forms, and drink;
Slow-ebbing life with refluent crimson breaks
O'er their wan lips, and paints their haggard cheeks;
Through each fine nerve rekindling transports dart,
Light the quick eye, and swell the exulting heart.
405 --Thus ISRAEL's heaven-taught chief o'er trackless lands
Led to the sultry rock his murmuring bands.
Bright o'er his brows the forky radiance blazed,
And high in air the rod divine He raised.--
Wide yawns the cliff!--amid the thirsty throng
410 Rush the redundant waves, and shine along;
With gourds and shells and helmets press the bands,
Ope their parch'd lips, and spread their eager hands,
Snatch their pale infants to the exuberant shower,
Kneel on the shatter'd rock, and bless the Almighty Power.

415 Bolster'd with down, amid a thousand wants,
Pale Dropsy rears his bloated form, and pants;
"Quench me, ye cool pellucid rills!" he cries,
Wets his parch'd tongue, and rolls his hollow eyes.
So bends tormented TANTALUS to drink,
420 While from his lips the refluent waters shrink;
Again the rising stream his bosom laves,
And Thirst consumes him 'mid circumfluent waves.
--Divine HYGEIA, from the bending sky
Descending, listens to his piercing cry;
425 Assumes bright DIGITALIS' dress and air,
Her ruby cheek, white neck, and raven hair;
Four youths protect her from the circling throng,
And like the Nymph the Goddess steps along.--
--O'er Him She waves her serpent-wreathed wand,
430 Cheers with her voice, and raises with her hand,
Warms with rekindling bloom his visage wan,
And charms the shapeless monster into man.

[Digitalis. l. 425. Of the class Two Powers. Four males, one female, Foxglove. The effect of this plant in that kind of Dropsy, which is termed anasarca, where the legs and thighs are much swelled, attended with great difficulty of breathing, is truly astonishing. In the ascites accompanied with anasarca of people past the meridian of life it will also sometimes succeed. The method of administering it requires some caution, as it is liable, in greater doses, to induce very violent and debilitating sickness, which continues one or two days, during which time the dropsical collection however disappears. One large spoonful, or half an ounce, of the following decoction, given twice a day, will generally succeed in a few days. But in more robust people, one large spoonful every two hours, till four spoonfuls are taken, or till sickness occurs, will evacuate the dropsical swellings with greater certainty, but is liable to operate more violently. Boil four ounces of the fresh leaves of purple Foxglove (which leaves may be had at all seasons of the year) from two pints of water to twelve ounces; add to the strained liquor, while yet warm, three ounces of rectified spirit of wine. A theory of the effects of this medicine, with many successful cases, may be seen in a pamphlet, called, "Experiments on Mucilaginous and Purulent Matter," published by Dr. Darwin in 1780. Sold by Cadell, London.]

So when Contagion with mephitic breath
And withered Famine urged the work of death;
435 Marseilles' good Bishop, London's generous Mayor,
With food and faith, with medicine and with prayer,
Raised the weak head and stayed the parting sigh,
Or with new life relumed the swimming eye.--
440 --And now, PHILANTHROPY! thy rays divine
Dart round the globe from Zembla to the Line;
O'er each dark prison plays the cheering light,
Like northern lustres o'er the vault of night.--

[Marseillle's good Bishop. l. 435. In the year 1720 and 1722 the Plague made dreadful havock at Marseilles; at which time the Bishop was indefatigable in the execution of his pastoral office, visiting, relieving, encouraging, and absolving the sick with extream tenderness; and though perpetually exposed to the infection, like Sir John Lawrence mentioned below, they both are said to have escaped the disease.]

[London's generous Mayor, l. 435. During the great Plague at London in the year 1665, Sir John Lawrence, the then Lord Mayor, continued the whole time in the city; heard complaints, and redressed them; enforced the wisest regulations then known, and saw them executed. The day after the disease was known with certainty to be the Plague, above 40,000 servants were dismissed, and turned into the streets to perish, for no one would receive them into their houses; and the villages near London drove them away with pitch-forks and fire-arms. Sir John Lawrence supported them all, as well as the needy who were sick, at first by expending his own fortune, till subscriptions could be solicited and received from all parts of the nation. Journal of the Plague-year, Printed for E. Nutt, &c. at the R. Exchange. 1722.]

From realm to realm, with cross or crescent crown'd,
Where'er Mankind and Misery are found,
445 O'er burning sands, deep waves, or wilds of snow,
Thy HOWARD journeying seeks the house of woe.
Down many a winding step to dungeons dank,
Where anguish wails aloud, and fetters clank;
To caves bestrew'd with many a mouldering bone,
450 And cells, whose echoes only learn to groan;
Where no kind bars a whispering friend disclose,
No sunbeam enters, and no zephyr blows,
HE treads, inemulous of fame or wealth,
Profuse of toil, and prodigal of health;
455 With soft assuasive eloquence expands
Power's rigid heart, and opes his clenching hands;
Leads stern-ey'd Justice to the dark domains,
If not to fever, to relax the chains;
Or guides awaken'd Mercy through the gloom,
460 And shews the prison, sister to the tomb!--
Gives to her babes the self-devoted wife,
To her fond husband liberty and life!--
--The Spirits of the Good, who bend from high
Wide o'er these earthly scenes their partial eye,
465 When first, array'd in VIRTUE'S purest robe,
They saw her HOWARD traversing the globe;
Saw round his brows her sun-like Glory blaze
In arrowy circles of unwearied rays;
Mistook a Mortal for an Angel-Guest,
470 And ask'd what Seraph-foot the earth imprest.
--Onward he moves!--Disease and Death retire,
And murmuring Demons hate him, and admire."

Here paused the Goddess,--on HYGEIA'S shrine
Obsequious Gnomes repose the lyre divine;
475 Descending Sylphs relax the trembling strings,
And catch the rain-drops on their shadowy wings.
--And now her vase a modest Naiad fills
With liquid crystal from her pebbly rills;
Piles the dry cedar round her silver urn,
480 (Bright climbs the blaze, the crackling faggots burn),
Culls the green herb of China's envy'd bowers,
In gaudy cups the steamy treasure pours;
And, sweetly-smiling, on her bended knee
Presents the fragrant quintessence of Tea.


Bookseller. The monsters of your Botanic Garden are as surprising as the bulls with brazen feet, and the fire-breathing dragons, which guarded the Hesperian fruit; yet are they not disgusting, nor mischievous: and in the manner you have chained them together in your exhibition, they succeed each other amusingly enough, like prints of the London Cries, wrapped upon rollers, with a glass before them. In this at least they resemble the monsters in Ovid's Metamorphoses; but your similies, I suppose, are Homeric?

Poet. The great Bard well understood how to make use of this kind of ornament in Epic Poetry. He brings his valiant heroes into the field with much parade, and sets them a fighting with great fury; and then, after a few thrusts and parries, he introduces a long string of similies. During this the battle is supposed to continue; and thus the time necessary for the action is gained in our imaginations; and a degree of probability produced, which contributes to the temporary deception or reverie of the reader.

But the similies of Homer have another agreeable characteristic; they do not quadrate, or go upon all fours (as it is called), like the more formal similies of some modern writers; any one resembling feature seems to be with him a sufficient excuse for the introduction of this kind of digression; he then proceeds to deliver some agreeable poetry on this new subject, and thus converts every simile into a kind of short episode.

B. Then a simile should not very accurately resemble the subject?

P. No; it would then become a philosophical analogy, it would be ratiocination instead of poetry: it need only so far resemble the subject, as poetry itself ought to resemble nature. It should have so much sublimity, beauty, or novelty, as to interest the reader; and should be expressed in picturesque language, so as to bring the scenery before his eye; and should lastly bear so much veri-similitude as not to awaken him by the violence of improbability or incongruity.

B. May not the reverie of the reader be dissipated or disturbed by disagreeable images being presented to his imagination, as well as by improbable or incongruous ones? P. Certainly; he will endeavour to rouse himself from a disagreeable reverie, as from the night-mare. And from this may be discovered the line of boundary between the Tragic and the Horrid: which line, however, will veer a little this way or that, according to the prevailing manners of the age or country, and the peculiar associations of ideas, or idiosyncracy of mind, of individuals. For instance, if an artist should represent the death of an officer in battle, by shewing a little blood on the bosom of his shirt, as if a bullet had there penetrated, the dying figure would affect the beholder with pity; and if fortitude was at the same time expressed in his countenance, admiration would be added to our pity. On the contrary, if the artist should chuse to represent his thigh as shot away by a cannon ball, and should exhibit the bleeding flesh and shattered bone of the stump, the picture would introduce into our minds ideas from a butcher's shop, or a surgeon's operation-room, and we should turn from it with disgust. So if characters were brought upon the stage with their limbs disjointed by torturing instruments, and the floor covered with clotted blood and scattered brains, our theatric reverie would be destroyed by disgust, and we should leave the play-house with detestation.

The Painters have been more guilty in this respect than the Poets; the cruelty of Apollo in flaying Marcias alive is a favourite subject with the antient artists: and the tortures of expiring martyrs have disgraced the modern ones. It requires little genius to exhibit the muscles in convulsive action either by the pencil or the chissel, because the interstices are deep, and the lines strongly defined: but those tender gradations of muscular action, which constitute the graceful attitudes of the body, are difficult to conceive or to execute, except by a master of nice discernment and cultivated taste. B. By what definition would you distinguish the Horrid from the Tragic?

P. I suppose the latter consists of Distress attended with Pity, which is said to be allied to Love, the most agreeable of all our passions; and the former in Distress, accompanied with Disgust, which is allied to Hate, and is one of our most disagreeable sensations. Hence, when horrid scenes of cruelty are represented in pictures, we wish to disbelieve their existence, and voluntarily exert ourselves to escape from the deception: whereas the bitter cup of true Tragedy is mingled with some sweet consolatory drops, which endear our tears, and we continue to contemplate the interesting delusion with a delight which it is not easy to explain.

B. Has not this been explained by Lucretius, where he describes a shipwreck; and says, the Spectators receive pleasure from feeling themselves safe on land? and by Akenside, in his beautiful poem on the Pleasures of Imagination, who ascribes it to our finding objects for the due exertion of our passions?

P. We must not confound our sensations at the contemplation of real misery with those which we experience at the scenical representations of tragedy. The spectators of a shipwreck may be attracted by the dignity and novelty of the object; and from these may be said to receive pleasure; but not from the distress of the sufferers. An ingenious writer, who has criticised this dialogue in the English Review for August, 1789, adds, that one great source of our pleasure from scenical distress arises from our, at the same time, generally contemplating one of the noblest objects of nature, that of Virtue triumphant over every difficulty and oppression, or supporting its votary under every suffering: or, where this does not occur, that our minds are relieved by the justice of some signal punishment awaiting the delinquent. But, besides this, at the exhibition of a good tragedy, we are not only amused by the dignity, and novelty, and beauty, of the objects before us; but, if any distressful circumstances occur too forcible for our sensibility, we can voluntarily exert ourselves, and recollect, that the scenery is not real: and thus not only the pain, which we had received from the apparent distress, is lessened, but a new source of pleasure is opened to us, similar to that which we frequently have felt on awaking from a distressful dream; we are glad that it is not true. We are at the same time unwilling to relinquish the pleasure which we receive from the other interesting circumstances of the drama; and on that account quickly permit ourselves to relapse into the delusion; and thus alternately believe and disbelieve, almost every moment, the existence of the objects represented before us.

B. Have those two sovereigns of poetic land, HOMER and SHAKESPEAR, kept their works entirely free from the Horrid?--or even yourself in your third Canto?

P. The descriptions of the mangled carcasses of the companions of Ulysses, in the cave of Polypheme, is in this respect certainly objectionable, as is well observed by Scaliger. And in the play of Titus Andronicus, if that was written by Shakespear (which from its internal evidence I think very improbable), there are many horrid and disgustful circumstances. The following Canto is submitted to the candour of the critical reader, to whose opinion I shall submit in silence.

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