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Robinson's Guide to Richmond (1833)


Part 19

Herbert Knowles

OFTEN as the "Lines written in Richmond Church Yard" have been printed, a Guide to Richmond might well be deemed defective which omitted to repeat them. They are from the pen of an amiable and highly gifted youth, who was cut off at the early age of nineteen, whilst preparing, under the kind and assiduous tutelage of Mr. Tate, to enter on his studies at Cambridge. His friends, who were respectable manufacturers in the West Riding, had endeavoured to fix his mind to business, and it was not until he had run off and enlisted in the Artillery, that they consented to allow him to follow the bent of his aspiring genius. He had already attracted the notice of Mr. Southey, and high indeed were the anticipations of his future eminence; but a few short weeks of disease hurried him off to the grave, where the "device" of the poet, and the "knowledge" of the scholar, are alike strangers.*

*Eccleslasticus, ix.10.

Lines written in the Church-yard of Richmond, Yorkshire. October 7th 1816.

Methinks it is good to be here:
If thou wilt, let us build---but for whom?
Nor Elias nor Moses appear;
But the shadows of eve, that encompass the gloom, The abode 
of the dead and the place of the tomb.

Shall we build to Ambition? Ah, no!
Affrighted he shrinketh away;
For, see! they would pin him below,
In a small narrow cave, and begirt with cold clay, To the 
meanest of reptiles a peer and a prey.

To Beauty? Ah no! she forgets
The charms which she wielded before
Nor knows the foul worm that he frets 
The Skin, which but yesterday fools could adore,
For the smoothness it held, or the tint which it wore.

Shall we build to the purple of Pride
-The trappings which dizen the proud?
Alas! they are all laid aside, 
And here's neither dress nor adornment allow'd, 
But the long winding sheet and the fringe of the shroud.

To Riches? alas! 'tis in vain-
Who hid, in their turns have been hid-
The treasures are squander'd again-
And here in the grave are all metals forbid, 
But the tinsel that shone on the dark coffin lid.

To the Pleasures which mirth can afford-
The revel, the laugh, and the jeer?
Ah! here is a plentiful board! 
But the guests are all mute as their pitiful cheer, 
And none but the worm is a reveller here.

Shall we build to Affection and Love?
Ah, no! they have wither'd and died, 
Or fled with the spirit above-
Friends, brothers, and sisters are laid side by side, 
Yet none have saluted, and none have replied.

Unto Sorrow? the dead cannot grieve-
Not a sob, not a sigh meets mine ear-
Which compassion itself could relieve!
Ah! sweetly they slumber, nor hope, love, nor fear, 
Peace, peace is the watch-word, the only one here.

Unto Death? to whom monarchs must bow? 
Ah, no! for his empire is known
And here there are trophies enow!
Beneath, the cold dead, and around, the dark stone, 
Are the signs of a sceptre that none may disown

The first tabernacle to HOPE we will build,
And look for the sleepers around us to rise!
The second to FAITH, which ensures it fulfill'd, 
And the third to the LAMB of the great sacrifice,
Who bequeath'd us them both when he rose to the skies!

HERBERT KNOWLES,

AE. XIX. Died 17th February, 1817.

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