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tA Dream of Love.] [By Miss Hume.]
I dreamt that love Should steal upon the heart, like summer dawn On the awakening world, soft, gradual; First hailed and welcomed by the mountain-peaks, The loftiest aspirations of the soul; Then, slowly spreading downward o'er the slopes Of intellectual intercourse, to flood At length the very plains and vales of sense With beauties of its sunshine; one by one Kissing awake all spirit buds and flowers, To pour their fragrance forth in gratitude. I had forgot that perfect love like this Could be the portion but of perfect souls! I had forgot to estimate how far My own heart fell below the standard raised By my presumption, when I deemed its pulse Should never quicken, save to one whose touch First waked the highest, holiest chords that thrill In heart of mortal; deemed I must be wooed As angels woo, won as might angel be.
As lamps high set Upon some earthly eminence— And to the gazer brighter thence Than the sphere-lights they flout— Dwindle in distance and die out, While no star waneth yet; So through the past's far-reaching night, Only the star-souls keep their light.
A gentle boy— With moods of sadness and of mirth, Quick tears and sudden joy— Grew up beside the peasant's hearth. His father's toil he shares; But half his mother's cares From his dark searching eyes, Too swift to sympathise, Hid in her heart she bears.
At early morn, His father calls him to the field; Through the stiff soil that clogs his feet, Chill rain, and harvest heat, He plods all day; returns at eve outworn, To the rude fare a peasant's lot doth yield; To what else was he born?
The God-made king Of every living thing (For his great heart in love could hold them all); The dumb eyes meeting his by hearth and stall— Gifted to understand l— Knew it and sought his hand; And the most timorous creature had not fled, Could she his heart have read, Which fain all feeble things had blessed and shelterêd.
To Nature's feast— Who knew her noblest guest And entertained him bestKingly he came. Her chambers of the east She draped with crimson and with gold, And poured her pure joy-wines For him the poet-souled. For him her anthem rolled, From the storm-wind among the winter pines, Down to the slenderest note Of a love warble, from the linnet's throat.
But when begins The array for battle, and the trumpet blows, A king must leave the feast, and lead the fight. And with its mortal foes— Grim gathering hosts of sorrows and of sinsEach human soul must close. And Fame her trumpet blew Before him; wrapped him in her purple state; And made him mark for all the shafts of Fate, That henceforth round him flew.
Though he may yield Hard pressed, and wounded fall Forsaken on the field; His regal vestments soiled; His crown of half its jewels spoiled; He is a king for all. Had he but stood aloof ! Had he arrayed himself in armour proof Against temptation's darts ! So yearn the good; so those the world calls wise, With vain presumptuous hearts, Triumphant moralise.
Of martyr-woe A sacred shadow on his memory rests; Tears have not ceased to flow; Indignant grief yet stirs impetuous breasts, To think—above that noble soul brought low, That wise and soaring spirit fooled, enslavedThus, thus he had been saved !
It might not be That heart of harmony Had been too rudely rent; Its silver chords, which any hand could wound, By no hand could be tuned Save by the Maker of the instrument, Its every string who knew, And from profaning touch His heavenly gift withdrew.
Regretful love His country fain would prove, By grateful honours lavished on his grave; Would fain redeem her blame That he so little at her hands can claim, Who unrewarded gave To her his life-bought gift of song and fame.
The land he trod Hath now become a place of pilgrimage; Where dearer are the daisies of the sod That could his song engage. The hoary hawthorn, wreathed Above the bank on which his limbs he flung While some sweet plaint he breathed; The streams he wandered near; The maidens whom he loved; the songs he sung; All, all are dear!
The arch blue eyes—
Arch but for love's disguise-
Lighten with it their toils;
In which such songs are sung.
For doth not song
To the whole world belong ! Is it not given wherever tears can fall, Wherever hearts can melt, or blushes glow, Or mirth and sadness mingle as they flow,
A heritage to all?
The poet-translators of this period are numerous. The most remarkable for knowledge of foreign tongues and dialects is Jon N BowRING (now Sir John), who commenced in 1821 a large series of translations—Specimens of the Russian Poets, Batavian Anthology, Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain, Specimens of the Polish Poets, Servian Popular
oetry, # of the Magyars, Cheskian Anthology, or the Poetical #: of Bohemia, &c. The last of these works appeared in 1832. In 1825 Dr Bowring became editor of the Westminster Review; he sat some time in parliament, and in 1854 was knighted and made governor of Hong Kong. He was the literary executor of Jeremy Bentham, and author of political treatises, original poetry, and various other contributions to literature. The original bias of Sir John Bowring seems to have been towards literature, but his connection with Bentham, and his public appointments, have chiefly distinguished his career. He is a native of Exeter, born in 1792. MR JoHN STUART BLACKIE (born in Aberdeen in 1809, and professor of Greek in the university of Edinburgh) in 1834 gave an English version of Goethe's Faust,
and in 1850 translated the lyrical dramas of AEschylus, two volumes. Both of these versions were well received, and Mr Blackie has aided greatly in exciting a more general study of Greek in Scotland. In 1853 an excellent translation of some of the Spanish dramas of Calderon was published by Mr D. F. M‘CARTHY. The translations of Bulwer Lytton, Mr Lockhart, Professor Aytoun, Theodore Martin, and others have been already mentioned, and additions have been made to this branch of our literature in the admirable cheap serial libraries of Mr H. G. Bohm. Various works in the prose literature of Germany have been correctly and ably rendered by Mrs Austin (Fragments from German Prose Writers, with Biographical Notes, and Ranke's History of the Popes), by Lady Duff Gordon (The Amber Witch), Mr Henry Taylor (The Fairy Ring), &c.
WILLIAM THOM, the ‘Inverury poet’ (1789–1848), was author of some sweet, fanciful, and pathetic strains. He had wrought for several years as a weaver, and, when out of employment, traversed the country as a pedler, accompanied by his wife and children. This precarious, unsettled life induced irregular and careless habits, and every effort to place the poor poet in a situation of permanent comfort and respectability failed. He first attracted notice by a poem inserted in the Aberdeen Herald, entitled The Blind Boy's Pranks; in 1844 he published a volume of Rhymes and Recollections of a Hand-loom Weaver. He visited London, and was warmly patronised by his countrymen and others; but returning to Scotland, he died at Dundee after a period of distress and penury. A sum of about £300 was collected for his widow and family.
The Mitherless Bairn.
When a ither bairnies are hushed to their hame
The mitherless bairn gangs to his lane bed,
Aneath his cauld brow siccan dreams hover there, O' hands that wont kindly to kame his dark hair; But morning brings clutches, a reckless and stern, That lo'e nae the locks o' the mitherless bairn
Yon sister, that sang o'er his saftly rocked bed, Now rests in the mools where her mammy is laid; The father toils sair their wee bannock to earn, An' kens na the wrangs o' his mitherless bairn.
Her spirit, that passed in yon hour o' his birth,
Oh! speak na him harshly—he trembles the while,
A native of Burness, Orkney, born in 1790, MR VEDDER obtained some reputation by a #ume of Orcadian Sketches, published in 1832. In 1842 he collected his poems, scattered through various periodicals, and published them in one volume. Mr Vedder filled the office of tide-surveyor, and died in Edinburgh in 1854. His Scottish songs and Norse ballads were popular in Scotland. The following piece, which Dr Chalmers was fond of quoting to his students in his theological prelections, is in a more elevated strain of poetry:
The Temple of Nature.
Talk not of temples—there is one
The Alps arrayed in stainless snow,
The ocean heaves resistlessly,
* * *
The cedar and the mountain pine,
Some of the living contributors to Scottish song may be here enumerated. ALExANDER MACLAGAN (born at Bridgend, Perth, in 1811) published in 1841 a volume of poems; in 1849, Sketches from Nature, and other Poems; and in 1854, Ragged and Industrial School Rhymes. In one of the last letters written by Jeffrey, he praised the homely and tender verses of Maclagan for their “pervading joyousness and kindliness of feeling, as well as their vein of grateful devotion, which must recommend them to all good minds. JAMEs BALLANTINE (born in Edinburgh in 1808) is known equally for his Scottish songs and his proficiency in the revived art of glass-painting; of the latter, the palace at Westminster and many church-windows bear testimony, while his native muse is seen in The Gaberlunzie's Wallet, 1843; The Miller of Deanhaugh; and a collected edition of his lyrics, published in 1856. ANDREw PARK (born at Renfrew in 1811) is author of several volumes of songs and poems, and of a volume of travels entitled Egypt and the East, 1857. A collected edition of his poetical works appeared in
1854. JoHN CRAwFoRD (born at Greenock in 1816) ||
published in 1850 a volume of Doric Lays, which received the commendation of Lord Jeffrey and Mi'itori. HENRY Scott RIDDELL (born at
Gin reft frae friends or crost in love, as whiles nae doubt ye’ve been, Grief lies deep hidden in your heart, or tears flow frae your een, Believe it for the best, and trow there’s good in store for you, For ilka blade o' grass keps its ain drap o' dew.
In lang, lang days o' simmer, when the clear and cloudless sky Refuses ae wee drap o' rain to nature parched and dry,
They knew that they were cared for then,
D R A MATIST S.
Dramatic literature no longer occupies the prominent place it held in former periods of our history. Various causes have been assigned for this declineas, the great size of the theatres, the monopoly of the two large London houses, the love of spectacle or scenic display which has usurped the place of the legitimate drama, and the late dinner-hours now prevalent among the higher and even the middle classes. The increased competition in business has also made our “nation of shopkeepers’ a busier and harder-working race than their forefathers; and the diffusion of cheap literature may have further tended to thin the theatres, as furnishing intellectual entertainment for the masses at home at a cheaper rate than dramatic performances. The London managers appear to have had considerable influence in this matter. They lavish enormous sums on scenic decoration and particular actors, and aim rather at filling their houses by some ephemeral and dazzling display, than by the liberal encouragement of native talent and genius. To improve, or rather re-establish the acted drama, a writer in the Edinburgh Review for 1843 suggests that there should be a classification of theatres in the metropolis, as in Paris, where each theatre has its distinct species of the drama, and performs it well. ‘We believe, he says, “that the evil is mainly occasioned by the vain endeavour of managers to succeed by commixing every species of entertainment—huddling together tragedy, comedy, farce, melo-drama, and spectacle—and striving, by alternate exhibitions, to draw all the dramatic public to their respective houses. Imperfect—very imperfect companies for each species are engaged; and as, in consequence of the general imperfection, they are forced to rely on individual excellence, individual performers become of inordinate importance, and the most exorbitant salaries are given to procure them. These individuals are thus placed in a false position, and indulge themselves in all sorts of mannerisms and absurdities. The public is not unreasonably dissatisfied with imperfect companies and bad performances; the managers wonder at their ruin; and critics become elegiacal over the mournful decline of the drama! Not in this way can a theatre flourish; since, if one species of performance proves attractive, the others are at a discount, and their companies become useless burdens; if none of them prove attractive, then the loss ends in ruin. Too many instances of this have occurred within the last thirty years. Whenever a play of real excellence has been brought forward, the public has shewn no insensibility to its merits; but so many circumstances are requisite to its successful representation—so expensive are the companies, and so capricious the favourite actorsthat men of talent are averse to hazard a competition.
The tragedies of Miss Mitford and Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton-elsewhere noticed in this volumewere highly successful in representation, but the fame of their authors must ever rest on those prose fictions by which they are chiefly know', Sir Edward's Lady of Lyons is, however, one of our most popular acting plays; it is picturesque and romantic, with passages of fine poetry and genuine feeling.
THOMAS NOON TAL FOURD.
Two classic and two romantic dramas were produced by THoMAs Noon TALFoURD, an eloquent English barrister and upright judge, whose sudden death was deeply lamented by a most attached circle of literary and accomplished friends, as well as by the public at large. Mr Talfourd was a native of Reading, in Berkshire, born in 1795. His father was a brewer in Reading. Having studied the law, Talfourd was called to the bar in 1821, and in 1833 got his silk gown. As Serjeant Talfourd, he was conspicuous for his popular eloquence and liberal principles, and was returned to parliament for his native town. In 1835, he published his tragedy of Ion, which was next year produced at Covent Garden Theatre with success. His next tragedy, The Athenian Captive, was also successful. His subsequent dramatic works were The Massacre of Glencoe, and The Castilian, a tragedy. Besides these offerings to the dramatic muse, Talfourd published Vacation Rambles, 1851, comprising the recollections of three continental tours, a Life of Charles Lamb, and an Essay on the Greek Drama. In 1849, he was elevated to the bench, and in 1854 he died of apoplexy while delivering his charge to the grand jury at Stafford. Ion, the highest literary effort of its author, seems an embodiment of the simplicity and grandeur of the Greek drama, and its plot is founded on the old Grecian notion of destiny, apart from all moral agencies. The oracle of Delphi had announced that the vengeance which the misrule of the race of Argos had brought on the people, in the form of a pestilence, could only be disarmed by the extirpation of the guilty race, and Ion, the hero of the play, at length offers himself a sacrifice. The character of Ion—the discovery of his birth, as son of the kinghis love and patriotism, are drawn with great power and effect. The style of Mr Talfourd is chaste and clear, yet full of imagery. Take, for example, the delineation of the character of Ion:
Ion, our sometime darling, whom we prized As a stray gift, by bounteous Heaven dismissed From some bright sphere which sorrow may not cloud To make the happy happier ! Is he sent To grapple with the miseries of this time, Whose nature such ethereal aspect wears As it would perish at the touch of wrong ! By no internal contest is he trained For such hard duty; no emotions rude Hath his clear spirit vanquished—Love, the germ Of his mild nature, hath spread graces forth, Expanding with its progress, as the store Of rainbow colour which the seed conceals Sheds out its tints from its dim treasury, To flush and circle in the flower. No tear Hath filled his eye save that of thoughtful joy When, in the evening stillness, lovely things Pressed on his soul too busily; his voice, If, in the earnestness of childish sports, Raised to the tone of anger, checked its force, As if it feared to break its being's law, And faltered into music; when the forms Of guilty passion have been made to live In pictured speech, and others have waxed loud In righteous indignation, he hath heard With sceptic smile, or from some slender vein of:lue", which surrounding gloom concealed,
Ion. What wouldst thou with me, lady?
Clemanthe. Is it so?
Ion. 'Twas indeed a goodly dream;
Clem. To forget it !
Ion. Speak not, fair one,
Clem. Dost thou yet
Ion. It must separate us!
Clem. Thou dost accuse
Ion. Not for me;
Clem. O unkind |
Ion. [After a pause..] Yes!
Clem. Bless thee for that name;