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THE PLEASURES OF MEMORY.

IN TWO PARTS.

-Hoc est
Vivere bis, vita posse priore frui.-Mart.

O COULD my mind, unfolded in my page,
Enlighten climes and mould a future age;
There as it glow'd, with noblest frenzy fraught,
Dispense the treasures of exalted thought;
To virtue wake the pulses of the heart,
And bid the tear of emulation start!
O could it still, through each succeeding year,
My life, my manners, and my name endear;
And when the poet sleeps in silent'dust,
Still hold communion with the wise and just !
Yet should this verse, my leisure's best resource,
When through the world it steals its secret course,
Revive but once a generous wish supprest,
Chase but a sigh, or charm a care to rest;
In one good deed a fleeting hour employ,
Or flush one faded cheek with honest joy ;
Blest werë my lines, though limited their sphere,
Though short their date as his who traced them here.

1793

1

ANALYSIS OF PART I.

THE poem begins with the description of an obscure village, and of the pleasing melancholy which it excites on being revisited after a long absence. This mixed sensation is an effect of the memory. From an effect we naturally ascend to the cause; and the subject proposed is then unfolded, with an investigation of the nature and leading principles of this faculty.

It is evident that our ideas flow in continual succession, and introduce each other with a certain degree of regularity. They are sometimes excited by sensible objects, and sometimes by an internal operation of the mind. Of the former species is most probably the memory of brutes ; and its many sources of pleasure to them, as well as to us, are considered in the first part. The latter is the most perfect degree of memory, and forms the subject of the second.

When ideas have any relation whatever, they are attractive of each other in the mind; and the perception of any object naturally leads to the idea of another, which was connected with it either in time or place, or which can be compared or contrasted with it. Hence arises our attachment to inanimate objects ; hence also, in some degree, the love of our country, and the emotion with which we contemplate the celebrated scenes of antiquity. Hence a picture directs our thoughts to the original; and, as cold and darkness suggest forcibly the ideas of heat and light, he, who feels the infirmities of age, dwells most on whatever reminds him of the vigour and vivacity of his youth.

The associating principle, as here employed, is no less conducive to virtue than to happiness; and, as such, it frequently discovers itself in the most tumultuous scenes of life. It addresses our finer feelings, and gives exercise to every mild and generous propensity.

Not confined to man, it extends through all animated nature ; and its effects are peculiarly striking in the domestic tribes.

2 THE

PLEASURES OF MEMORY.

PART I.

Dolce sentier,
Colle, che mi piacesti,
Ov' ancor per usanza Amor mi mena;
Ben riconosco in voi l'usate forme,
Non, lasso, in me.

Twilight's soft dews steal o'er the village-green, With magic tints to harmonize the scene. Still’d is the hum that through the hamlet broke When round the ruins of their ancient oak The peasants flock’d to hear the minstrel play, And games and carols closed the busy day. Her wheel at rest, the matron thrills no more With treasured tales and legendary lore. All, all are fled: nor mirth nor music flows To chase the dreams of innocent repose. All, all are fled; yet still I linger here! What secret charms this silent spot endear!

Mark yon old mansion frowning through the trees, Whose hollow turret wooes the whistling breeze. That casement arch'd with ivy's brownest shade, First to these eyes the light of heaven convey'd.

The mouldering gateway strews the grass-grown

court,
Once the calm scene of many a simple sport;
When nature pleased, for life itself was new,
And the heart promised what the fancy drew.

See, through the fractured pediment reveal'd,
Where moss inlays the rudely sculptured shield,
The martin's old, hereditary nest :
Long may the ruin spare its hallow'd guest !

As jars the hinge, what sullen echoes call!
O haste, unfold the hospitable hall!
That hall, where once, in antiquated state,
The chair of justice held the grave debate.

Now stain'd with dews, with cobwebs darkly hung, Oft has its roof with peals of rapture rung; When round yon ample board, in due degree, We sweetend every meal with social glee. The heart's light laugh pursued the circling jest; And all was sunshine in each little breast. 'Twas here we chased the slipper by the sound; And turn'd the blindfold hero round and round. 'Twas here, at eve, we form'd our fairy ring ; And fancy flutter'd on her wildest wing. Giants and genii chain'd each wondering ear; And orphan sorrows drew the ready tear. Oft with the babes we wander'd in the wood, Or view'd the forest feats of Robin Hood :

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