"Monologue, or Soliloquy on the Annuals"

John Wilson , Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 26 (December 1829), pages 948-976

What blockhead thinks now of reading Milton, or Pope, or Gray? Paradise Lost is lost; it has gone to the devil. Pope's Epistles are returned to the dead-letter office; the age is too loyal for “ruin seize thee, ruthless king," and the oldest inhabitant has forgotten “the curfew tolls."

. . . . One word embraces them all — Memorials. When “absent long and distant far," the living, lovely, loving, and beloved, how often are they utterly forgotten! But let something that once was theirs suddenly meet our eyes, and in a moment, returning from the region of the rising or the setting sun, lo! the friend of our youth is at our side, unchanged his voice and his smile; and dearer to our eyes than ever, because of some slight, faint, and affecting change wrought on face and figure by climate and by years! Let it be but his name written with his own hand, on the title-page of a book; or a few syllables on the margin of a favourite passage which long ago we may have read together, “when life itself was new,” and poetry overflowed the whole world! Or a lock of her hair in whose eyes we first knew the meaning of the word `depth' applied to the human soul, or the celestial sky! But oh! if death hath stretched out and out into the dim arms of eternity the distance – and removed away into that bourne from which no traveller returns the absence — of her on whose forehead once hung the relic we adore in our despair — what heart may abide the beauty of the ghost that, as at the touch of a talisman, doth sometimes at midnight appear before our sleepless bed, and with pale uplifted arms waft over us — so momentary is the vision — at once a blessing and a farewell!



Thomas Gray, "The Bard" (1757) -- Back

Gray, "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard' (1751) -- Back

Anne Home Hunter, "La Douce Chimere" (line 29) (1802) -- Back

Robert Montgomery, "The Old Man’s Song" (1809) -- Back

Hamlet III.i.78-79: “The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn / No traveller returns." ” -- Back

echo of Hamlet, Act I, scene i. -- Back