The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

Home | Order | Support | About | Contact | Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

Who joined pure faith to strong poetic powers ; Who, in reviving Reason's lucid hours, Sought on one Book his troubled mind to rest, And rightly deemed the Book of God the best."
In the old churchyard at Selsey, over the resting-place of two boys drowned in trying to save the crew of a wrecked vessel, there used to be a stone with another epitaph by Hayley, but it seems to have disappeared or to have become illegible—
" Around this grave with veneration tread, For youth and valour graced these honour'd dead ;— Grac'd, and yet fail'd their useful lives to save From the dark rage of winter's ruthless wave ; They in the storms of peril, undeprest, Rendered brave succour to a ship distrest: Returning with a generous joy, the shore They seem'd to reach, but living reach'd no more. Their rescued bodies share this common tomb, Justly we mourn who lose them in their bloom ;— But let this truth our rising sorrow calm, Their God has called them to an early palm."
The lines that Hayley wrote on the death of his mother have a note of true affection and genuine feeling, but it was in truth almost impossible for the poet really to soar far above the commonplace, and there is a strong infusion of egotism.
" O thou fond spirit, who with pride hast smiled, And frowned with fear on thy poetic child, Pleased, yet alarmed, when in his boyish time He sighed in numbers or he laughed in rhyme ; While thy kind cautions warned him to beware Of Penury, the bard's perpetual snare ; Marking the early temper of his soul, Careless of wealth, nor fit for base control! Thou tender saint, to whom he owes much more Than ever child to parent owed before."
Previous Contents Next