Landon in The Literary Gazette 1832/On Walter Scott
Literary Gazette, 29th September, 1832, Pages 619-620
Of Sir Walter Scott's legal and official career, or of his pecuniary circumstances, it is not for us to speak; and we congratulate ourselves that the touching strain which we now annex from the pen of L. E. L. enables us to leave these matters of worldly record to others:—
Our sky has lost another star,
The earth has claimed its own,
And into dread eternity
A glorious one is gone.
He who could give departed things
So much of light and breath,
He is himself now with the past—
Gone forth from life to death.
It is a most unblessed grave
That has no mourner near;
The meanest turf the wild flowers hide
Has some familiar tear:
But kindred sorrow is forgot
Amid the general gloom;
Grief is religion felt for him
Whose temple is his tomb.
Thou of the future and the past,
How shall we honour thee?
Shall we build up a pyramid
Amid the pathless sea?
Shall we bring red gold from the east,
And marble from the west,
And carved porphyry, that the fane
Be worthy of its guest?
Or shall we seek thy native land,
And choose some ancient hill,
To be thy statue, finely wrought
With all the sculptor's skill?
Methinks, as there are common signs
To every common wo,
That we should do some mighty thing
To mark who lies below.
But this is folly: thou needst not
The sculpture or the shrine;
The heart is the sole monument
For memories like thine.
The pyramids in Egypt rose
To mark some monarch's fame:
Imperishable is the tomb,
But what the founder's name?
Small need for tribute unto thee,
To let the fancy roam—
To thee, who hast by many a hearth
An altar and a home:
Each little bookshelf where thy works
Are carefully enshrined,
There is thy trophy, there is left
Thy heritage of mind.
How many such delightful hours
Rise on our saddened mood,
When we have owed to thee and thine
The charm of solitude!
How eagerly we caught the book!
How earnestly we read!
How actual seemed the living scenes
Thy vivid colours spread!
And not to one dominion bound
Has been thy varied power;
In many a distant scene enjoyed—
In many a distant hour,
In childhood turning from its play,
In manhood, youth, and age.
All bent beneath the enchanter's wand,
All owned that spell—thy page.
Read by the glimmering firelight,
In the greenwood alone,
Amid the gathered circle—who
But hath thy magic known?
Laid in the cottage window-seat,
Fanned by the open air,
Left by the palette and the desk,
Thou hast thy readers there.
Actual as friends we know and love,
The beings of thy mind
Are, like events of real life,
In memory enshrined:
We seem as if we heard their voice,
As if we knew their face—
Familiar with their inward thoughts,
Their beauty and their grace.
As if bound on a pilgrimage,
We visit now thy shore,
Haunted by all which thou hast gleaned
From the old days of yore:
We feel in every hill and heath
Romance which thou hast flung;
We say, 'Twas here the poet dwelt,
'Twas there of which he sung.
Remembering thee, we half forget
How vainly this is said;
There seemed so much of life in thee,
We cannot think thee dead.
Dead? dead? when there is on this earth
Such waste of worthless breath;
There should have gone a thousand lives
To ransom thee from death!
Now out on it! to hear them speak
Their idle words and vain,
As if it were a common loss
For nature to sustain.
It is an awful vacancy
A great man leaves behind,
And solemnly should sorrow fall
Upon bereaved mankind.
We have too little gratitude
Within the selfish heart,
Else with what anguish should we see
The great and good depart!
Methinks our dark and sinful earth
Might dread an evil day,
When Heaven, in pity or in wrath,
Calls its beloved away.
A fear and awe are on my soul,
To look upon the tomb,
And think of who are sleeping laid
Within its midnight gloom.
What glorious ones are gone!—thus light
Doth vanish from our spheres:
Out on the vanity of words!
Peace now, for thoughts and tears!