Lines on John Palmer

Communicated by Miss Beslee

Lines, written by Mr Roscoe and spoken by Mr Holmes, before a play acted, at Liverpool, for the benefit of the family of Mr John Palmer, who died suddenly while performing the part of the Stranger in the play of that name, and immediately after repeating the words “Oh God, Oh God! there is another and a better world.”

Ye airy sprites, who oft as fancy calls,
Sport ’mid the fabric of these haunted walls
Light forms that float in mirth’s tumultuous throng
With frolic dance, and revelry, and song,
Fold your gay wings, repress your wonted fire
And from your favourite seats awhile retire!
And thou, whose powers sublimer thoughts impart
Queen of the springs that move the human heart
With change alternate, at whose magic call
The swelling tides of passion rise or fall,
Thou too, withdraw! for, ’mid thy loved abode,
With step more stern a mightier Power has trod,
Here, on this spot, to every eye confessed,
Enrob’d in terrors, stood the Kingly Guest;
Here, on this spot, Death waved th’unerring dart,
And struck his noblest prize — and honest heart.

What wondrous links the human feelings bind!
How strong the secret sympathies of mind!
As fancy’s pictured forms around us move,
We hope or fear, rejoice, detest or love.
Nor heaves the sigh for selfish woes alone,
Congenial sorrows mingle with our own.
Hence, as the poet’s raptured eye-balls roll,
The fond delirium seizes all his soul,
And, as his pulse concordant measure keeps,
He smiles in transport, or in anguish weeps.
But oh! lamented shade, not thine to know
The anguish only of imagined woe.
Doomed the lov’d partner of thy soul to mourn
And fond parental ties untimely torn1
Then whilst thy bosom, lab’ring with its grief
In fabled sorrows sought short relief,
The fancied woes, too true to Nature’s tone,
Burst the slight barrier, and became thy own;
In mingled tides the swelling passions ran,
Absorb’d the actor, and o’erwhelmed the man!
Martyr of sympathy! more sadly true
Than ever fancy feigned, or poet drew.

Say why, by Heaven’s acknowledged hand impressed,
Such keen sensations actuate all the breast?
Why throbs the heart for joys that long have fled?
Why lingers hope around the silent dead?
Does Heaven, unjust, the fond desire instil
To add to mortal woes another ill?
Are there no beings of etherial frame
Who in soft whispers prompt the nightly dream,
And, ’mid lone musings of remembrance sweet,
Inspire the secret wish, once more to meet?
There are — for, not by more determined laws,
The sympathetic steel the magnet draws,
Than the freed spirit acts with strong control
On its responsive sympathies of truth unfurl’d,
“There is another and a better world.”

Yet, while we, sorrowing, tread this earthly ball,
For human woes a human tear will fall
Blest be that tear, who gives it doubly blest,
That heals with balm the orphan’s bleeding heart.
Not all that breathes in morning’s genial dew
Revives the parent plant form whence it grew
Yet may those dews, with kindly nurture, aid
The infant flow’rets drooping in the shade,
While memory of tried worth and manners mild,
A father’s virtue, still protect his child.

  1. Mr Palmer lost his wife and one or two of his children a short time before his death.