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WILLIAM FALCONER.

The subject of the Shipwreck, and the fate of its author, bespeak an uncommon partiality in its favour. If we pay respect to the ingenious scholar who can produce agreeable verses amidst the shades of retirement, or the shelves of his library, how much more interest must we take in the "shipboy on the high and giddy mast" cherishing refined visions of fancy at the hour which he may casually snatch from fatigue and danger. Nor did Falconer neglect the proper acquirements of seamanship in cultivating poetry, but evinced considerable knowledge of his profession, both in his Marine Dictionary and in the nautical precepts of the Shipwreck. In that poem he may be said to have added a congenial and peculiarly British subject to the language; at least, we had no previous poem of any length of which the characters and catastrophe were purely naval.

WILLIAM FALCONER was a native of Edinburgh, | Aurora was never heard of after she passed the and went to sea at an early age in a merchant Cape, and was thought to have foundered in the vessel of Leith. He was afterwards mate of a Channel of Mozambique; so that the poet of the ship that was wrecked in the Levant, and was one Shipwreck may be supposed to have perished by the of only three out of her crew that were saved, a same species of calamity which he had rehearsed. catastrophe which formed the subject of his future poem. He was for some time in the capacity of a servant to Campbell, the author of Lexiphanes, when purser of a ship. Campbell is said to have discovered in Falconer talents worthy of cultivation, and when the latter distinguished himself as a poet, used to boast that he had been his scholar. What he learned from Campbell it is not very easy to ascertain. His education, as he often assured Governor Hunter, had been confined to reading, writing, and a little arithmetic, though in the course of his life he picked up some acquaintance with the French, Spanish, and Italian languages. In these his countryman was not likely to have much | assisted him; but he might have lent him books, and possibly instructed him in the use of figures. Falconer published his Shipwreck, in 1762, and by the favour of the Duke of York, to whom it was dedicated, obtained the appointment of a midshipman in the Royal George, and afterwards that of purser in the Glory frigate. He soon afterwards married a Miss Hicks, an accomplished and beautiful woman, the daughter of the surgeon of Sheerness yard. At the peace of 1763, he was on the point of being reduced to distressed circumstances by his ship being laid up in ordinary at Chatham, when, by the friendship of Commissioner Hanway, who ordered the cabin of the Glory to be fitted up for his residence, he enjoyed for some time a retreat for study without expense or embarrassment. Here he employed himself in compiling his Marine Dic-mond, are well contrasted. Some part of the tionary, which appeared in 1769, and has been love-story of Palemon is rather swainish and proalways highly spoken of by those who are capable tracted, yet the effect of his being involved in the of estimating its merits. He embarked also in the calamity leaves a deeper sympathy in the mind politics of the day, as a poetical antagonist to for the daughter of Albert, when we conceive her Churchill, but with little advantage to his memory. at once deprived both of a father and a lover. Before the publication of his Marine Dictionary he The incidents of the Shipwreck, like those of a had left his retreat at Chatham for a less comfort- well-wrought tragedy, gradually deepen, while able abode in the metropolis, and appears to have they yet leave a suspense of hope and fear to the struggled with considerable difficulties, in the midst imagination. In the final scene there is something of which he received proposals from the late Mr. that deeply touches our compassion in the picture Murray, the bookseller, to join him in the business of the unfortunate man who is struck blind by a which he had newly established. The cause of flash of lightning at the helm. I remember, byhis refusing this offer was, in all probability, the the-way, to have met with an affecting account of appointment which he received to the pursership the identical calamity befalling the steersman of a of the Aurora, East Indiaman. In that ship he forlorn vessel in a similar moment, given in a prose embarked for India, in September, 1769, but the and veracious history of the loss of a vessel on the

The scene of the catastrophe (though he followed only the fact of his own history) was poetically laid amidst seas and shores where the mind easily gathers romantic associations, and where it supposes the most picturesque vicissitudes of scenery and climate. The spectacle of a majestic British ship on the shores of Greece brings as strong a a reminiscence to the mind, as can well be imagined, of the changes which time has wrought in transplanting the empire of arts and civilization. Falconer's characters are few; but the calm sagacious commander, and the rough obstinate Rod

coast of America. Falconer skilfully heightens this trait by showing its effect on the commiseration of Rodmond, the roughest of his characters, who guides the victim of misfortune to lay hold of the shrouds.

"A flash, quick glancing on the nerves of light, Struck the pale helmsman with eternal night : Rodmond, who heard a pitious groan behind, Touch'd with compassion, gaz'd upon the blind;

THE SHIPWRECK.

CANTO I.

ARGUMENT.

Proposal of the subject. Invocation. Apology. Allegorical description of memory. Appeal to her assistance. The story begun. Retrospect of the former part of the voyage. The ship arrives at Candia. Ancient state of that island. Present state of the adjacent isles of Greece. The season of the year. Character of the master and his officers. Story of Palemon and Anna. Evening described. Midnight. The ship weighs anchor, and departs from the haven. State of the weather. Morning. Situation of the neighbouring shores. Operation of taking the sun's azimuth. Description of the vessel as seen from the land.

The scene is near the city of Candia; and the time about four days and a half.

WHILE jarring interests wake the world to arms,
And fright the peaceful vale with dire alarms;
While Ocean hears vindictive thunders roll,
Along his trembling wave, from pole to pole;
Sick of the scene, where war, with ruthless hand,
Spreads desolation o'er the bleeding land;
Sick of the tumult, where the trumpet's breath
Bids ruin smile, and drowns the groan of death!
"Tis mine, retired beneath this cavern hoar,
That stands all lonely on the sea-beat shore,
Far other themes of deep distress to sing
Than ever trembled from the vocal string.
No pomp of battle swells th' exalted strain,
Nor gleaming arms ring dreadful on the plain :
But, o'er the scene while pale Remembrance weeps,
Fate with fell triumph rides upon the deeps,
Here hostile elements tumultuous rise,
And lawless floods rebel against the skies;
Till hope expires, and peril and dismay
Wave their black ensigns on the watery way.

Immortal train, who guide the maze of song,
To whom all science, arts, and arms belong;
Who bid the trumpet of eternal fame
Exalt the warrior's and the poet's name!
If e'er with trembling hope I fondly stray'd
In life's fair morn beneath your hallow'd shade,
To hear the sweetly-mournful lute complain,
And melt the heart with ecstasy of pain;
Or listen, while th' enchanting voice of love,
While all Elysium warbled through the grove;
O! by the hollow blast that moans around,
That sweeps the wild harp with a plaintive sound;
By the long surge that foams through yonder cave,
Whose vaults remurmur to the roaring wave;

And, while around his sad companions crowd, He guides the unhappy victim to the shroud. Hie thee aloft, my gallant friend! he cries; Thy only succour on the mast relies!"

The effect of his sea phrases is to give a definite and authentic character to his descriptions; and his poem has the sensible charm of appearing a transcript of reality, and leaves an impression of truth and nature on the mind.

With living colours give my verse to glow,
The sad memorial of a tale of wo?

A scene from dumb oblivion to restore,

To fame unknown, and new to epic lore!
Alas; neglected by the sacred Nine,
Their suppliant feels no genial ray divine!
Ah! will they leave Pieria's happy shore,
To plough the tide where wintry tempests roar?
Or shall a youth approach their hallow'd fane,
Stranger to Phoebus, and the tuneful train?—
Far from the Muses' academic grove,
"Twas his the vast and trackless deep to rove.
Alternate change of climates has he known,
And felt the fierce extremes of either zone;
Where polar skies congeal th' eternal snow,
Or equinoctial suns for ever glow.
Smote by the freezing or the scorching blast,
"A ship-boy on the high and giddy mast,"
From regions where Peruvian billows roar,
To the bleak coast of savage Labrador.
From where Damascus, pride of Asian plains!
Stoops her proud neck beneath tyrannic chains,
To where the isthmus,† laved by adverse tides,
Atlantic and Pacific seas divides.

11*

But, while he measured o'er the painful race,
In Fortune's wild illimitable chase,
Adversity, companion of his way!
Still o'er the victim hung with iron sway;
Bade new distresses every instant grow,
Marking each change of place with change of wo:
In regions where th' Almighty's chastening hand
With livid pestilence afflicts the land;

Or where pale famine blasts the hopeful year,
Parent of want and misery severe;

Or where, all dreadful in th' embattled line,
The hostile ships in flaming combat join:
Where the torn vessel, wind and wave assail,
Till o'er her crew distress and death prevail-
Where'er he wander'd thus vindictive Fate
Pursued his weary steps with lasting hate!
Roused by her mandate, storms of black array
Winter'd the morn of life's advancing day;
Relax'd the sinews of the living lyre,

And quench'd the kindling spark of vital fire.-
Thus while forgotten or unknown he woos,
What hope to win the coy, reluctant Muse?
Then let not Censure, with malignant joy,
The harvest of his humble hope destroy!
His verse no laurel wreath attempts to claim,
Nor sculptur'd brass to tell the poet's name.
If terms uncouth, and jarring phrases, wound
The softer sense with inharmonious sound,

Shakspeare.

↑ Darien.

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Yet here let listening Sympathy prevail,
While conscious Truth unfolds her pitcous tale!
And lo! the power that wakes th' eventful song
Hastes hither from Lethean banks along:
She sweeps the gloom, and rushing on the sight,
Spreads o'er the kindling scene propitious light;
In her right hand an ample roll appears,
Fraught with long annals of preceding years;
With every wise and noble art of man,

Since first the circling hours their course began.
Her left a silver wand on high display'd,
Whose magic touch dispels Oblivion's shade.
Pensive her look; on radiant wings, that glow
Like Juno's birds, or Iris' flaming bow,
She sails; and swifter than the course of light,
Directs her rapid intellectual flight.
The fugitive ideas she restores,
And calls the wandering thought from Lethe's
To things long past a second date she gives,
And hoary Time from her fresh youth receives.
Congenial sister of immortal Fame,

[shores.

She shares her power, and Memory is her name.

O first-born daughter of primeval Time! By whom transmitted down in every clime, The deeds of ages long elapsed are known, And blazon'd glories spread from zone to zone; Whose breath dissolves the gloom of mental night, And o'er th' obscured idea pours the light! Whose wing unerring glides through time and place, And trackless scours th' immensity of space! Say! on what seas, for thou alone canst tell, What dire mishap a fated ship befell, Assail'd by tempests! girt with hostile shores! Arise! approach! unlock thy treasured stores!

A ship from Egypt, o'er the deep impell'd By guiding winds, her course for Venice held; Of famed Britannia were the gallant crew, And from that isle her name the vessel drew. The wayward steps of Fortune that delude Full oft to ruin, eager they pursued; And, dazzled by her visionary glare, Advanced incautious of each fatal snare; Though warn'd full oft the slippery track to shun, Yet Hope, with flattering voice, betray'd them on. Beguiled to danger thus, they left behind The scene of peace, and social joy resign'd. Long absent they, from friends and native home, The cheerless ocean were inured to roam : Yet Heaven, in pity to severe distress, Had crown'd each painful voyage with success: Still to atone for toils and hazards past, Restored them to maternal plains at last.

Thrice had the sun, to rule the varying year Across th' equator roll'd his flaming sphere, Since last the vessel spread her ample sail From Albion's coast, obsequious to the gale. She, o'er the spacious flood, from shore to shore, Unwearying, wafted her commercial store. The richest ports of Afric she had view'd, Thence to fair Italy her course pursued ; Had left behind Trinacria's burning isle, And visited the margin of the Nile. And now, that winter deepens round the pole, The circling voyage hastens to its goal, They, blind to Fate's inevitable law, No dark event to blast their hope foresaw; But from gay Venice soon expect to steer For Britain's coast, and dread no perils near.

A thousand tender thoughts their souls employ,
That fondly dance to scenes of future joy.

Thus time elapsed, while o'er the pathless tide
Their ship through Grecian seas the pilots guide.
Occasion call'd to touch at Candia's shore,
Which, bless'd with favouring winds, they soon
explore,

The haven enter, borne before the gale,
Despatch their commerce, and prepare to sail.
Eternal Powers! what ruins from afar
Mark the fell track of desolating War!
Here Art and Commerce, with auspicious reign,
Once breathed sweet influence on the happy plain;
While o'er the lawn, with dance and festive song,
Young Pleasure led the jocund hours along.
In gay luxuriance Ceres too was seen
To crown the valleys with eternal green.
For wealth, for valour, courted and revered,
What Albion is, fair Candia then appear'd.
Ah! who the flight of ages can revoke?
The free-born spirit of her sons is broke;
They bow to Ottoman's imperious yoke!
No longer Fame the drooping heart inspires,
For rude Oppression quench'd its genial fires.
But still, her fields with golden harvests crown'd
Supply the barren shores of Greece around,
What pale distress afflicts those wretched isles;
There hope ne'er dawns, and pleasure never smiles.
The vassal wretch obsequious drags his chain,
And hears his famish'd babes lament in vain.
These eyes have seen the dull reluctant soil
A seventh year scorn the weary labourer's toil.
No blooming Venus, on the desert shore,
Now views with triumph captive gods adore:
No lovely Helens now, with fatal charms,
Call forth th' avenging chiefs of Greece to arms:
No fair Penelopes enchant the eye,

For whom contending kings are proud to die.
Here sullen Beauty sheds a twilight ray,
While Sorrow bids her vernal bloom decay.
Those charms so long renown'd in classic strains,
Had dimly shone on Albion's happier plains.

Now, in the southern hemisphere, the sun
Through the bright Virgin and the Scales had run;
And on th' ecliptic wheel'd his winding way
Till the fierce Scorpion felt his flaming ray,
The ship was moor'd beside the wave-worn strand;
Four days her anchors bite the golden sand:
For sick'ning vapours lull the air to sleep,
And not a breeze awakes the silent deep.
This, when th' autumnal equinox is o'er,
And Phoebus in the north declines no more,
The watchful mariner, whom Heaven informs,
Oft deems the prelude of approaching storms.
True to his trust, when sacred duty calls,
No brooding storm the master's soul appals;
Th' advancing season warns him to the main :-
A captive, fetter'd to the oar of gain!
His anxious heart impatient of delay,
Expects the winds to sail from Candia's bay,
Determined, from whatever point they rise,
To trust his fortune to the seas and skies.

Thou living Ray of intellectual fire, Whose voluntary gleams my verse inspire! Ere yet the deep'ning incidents prevail, Till roused attention feel our plaintive tale, Record whom, chief among the gallant crew, Th' unblest pursuit of fortune hither drew!

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