« PreviousContinue »
This poet is descended from a respectable family in Wiltshire, and was born in the village of King's-Sutton, Northamptonshire, on the 24th of September, 1762. He was educated at Winchester School, and afterwards at Trinity College, Oxford, where he obtained the Chancellor's prize for a Latin poem on the Siege of Gibraltar. In 1792, he took his degree of Master of Arts; and haring after. wards entered into holy orders, he served a curacy in Wiltshire, from which he was promoted to the living of Dumbledon in Gloucestershire, and finally in 1803 to the prebendary of Salisbury Cathedral.
The long life of this venerable divine has been chiefly spent in the country, amidst the charms of rural life, and the duties of his profession. His chief poems are, The Spirit of Discovery by Sea, which is considered the best of his works; and The Missionary. He was also distinguished by a keen controversy which he waged with Campbell and Byron upon the poetry of Pope, and the “invariable principles" of poetry in general: and it is greatly to his credit to record, that in this his conflict with the Titans, he departed without the shame of defeat.
The poetry of Bowles, with a very few exceptions, is too near mediocrity to be decidedly popular. He never sinks, but it is because he attempts none of those venturous flights that distinguish his great contemporaries. His works, however, will continue to be read with pleasure, on account of the elegance and amiable spirit with which they are every where pervaded.
DISCOVERY OF MADEIRA.
She left The Severn's side, and fled with him she loved O'er the wide main; for he had told her tales Of happiness in distant lands, where care Comes not, and pointing to the golden clouds That shone above the waves, when evening came, Whisper'd, “Oh! are there not sweet scenes of peace, Far from the murmurs of this cloudy mart, Where gold alone bears sway, scenes of delight, Where Love may lay his head upon the lap Of Innocence, and smile at all the toil Of the low-thoughted throng, that place in wealth Their only bliss? Yes, there are scenes like these. Leave the vain chidings of the world behind, Country, and hollow friends, and fly with me Where love and peace in distant vales invite. What wouldst thou here? O shall thy beauteous look Of maiden innocence, thy smile of youth, thine eyes Of tenderness and soft subdued desire, Thy form, thy limbs-oh, madness!—be the prey Of a decrepit spoiler, and for gold?Perish his treasure with him! Haste with me, We shall find out some sylvan nook, and then
If thou shouldst sometimes think upon these hills,
So tempted he, and soon her heart approved, Nay wood, the blissful dream; and oft at eve, When the moon shone upon the wandering stream, She paced the castle's battlements, that threw Beneath their solemn shadow, and, resign'd To fancy and to tears, thought it most sweet To wander o'er the world with him she loved. Nor was his birth ignoble, for he shone 'Mid England's gallant youth in Edward's reignWith countenance erect, and honest eye Commanding (yet suffused in tenderness At times), and smiles that like the lightning play'd On his brown cheek,—so nobly stern he stood, Accomplish'd, generous, gentle, brave, sincere, Robert à Machin. But the sullen pride Of haughty D'Arfet scorn'd all other claim To his high heritage, save what the pomp Of amplest wealth and loftier lineage gave. Reckless of human tenderness, that seeks One loved, one honour'd object, wealth alone He worshipp’d; and for this he could consign His only child, his aged hope, to loathed Embraces, and a life of tears! Nor here His hard ambition ended : for he sought By secret whispers of conspiracies His sovereign to abuse, bidding him lift His arm avenging, and upon a youth Of promise close the dark forgotten gates Of living sepulture, and in the gloom Inhume the slowly-wasting victim.
So He purposed, but in vain : the ardent youth Rescued her-her whom more than life he loved, E'en when the horrid day of sacrifice Drew nigh. He pointed to the distant bark, And while he kiss'd a stealing tear that fell On her pale cheek, as trusting she reclined
Her head upon his breast, with ardour cried,
O retire to rest, Maiden, whose tender heart would beat, whose cheek Turn pale to see another thus exposed :Hark! the deep thunder louder peals—0 saveThe high mast crashes; but the faithful arm Of love is o'er thee, and thy anxious eye, Soon as the grey of morning peeps, shall view Green Erin's hills aspiring!
The sad morn Comes forth: but Terror on the sunless wave Still, like a sea-fiend, sits, and darkly smiles Beneath the flash that through the struggling clouds Bursts frequent, half revealing his scathed front, Above the rocking of the waste that rolls Boundless around :
No word through the long day
And lo! scarce seen,
The wild wood opens, and a shady glen
Now evening, breathing richer odours sweet, Came down: a softer sound the circling seas,
The ancient woods resounded, while the dove,
Thou, dim cloud,