Landon in The Literary Gazette 1832/On Walter Scott

Landon in The Literary Gazette 1832  (1832)  by Letitia Elizabeth Landon
On Walter Scott’s Death


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!