Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

In their gold coats spots you see ;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours :
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear..

The glittering dew-drops are not the only signs they give the human race of their existence. Like other bodies politic, the fairy world has its commotions and jealousies and petty wars; and wars, small as well as great, will leave visible traces behind them. Thus Titania complains that Oberon has prevented her and her train from extending their benignant influences to man.

Never, since the middle summer's spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead.
By paved fountain, or by rushy brook,
Or on the beached margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But with all thy brawls thou hast disturb'd our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
Contagious fogs,

and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard.
The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud;
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green,
For lack of tread, are undistinguishable :
The human mortals want their winter here;
No night is now with hymn or carol blest.+

[ocr errors]

The fairies have other duties to perform besides watching over the opening flowers, contesting the rule of the night with the buzzing or crawling insects, and assisting the seasons in their course. They have sympathies with the human race. They caress and defend those who are attached to them, in the most devoted manner. Titania will not part with the little changeling boy, even at the risk of a quarrel with her lord. She protests

The fairy land buys not the child of me,
His mother was a votress of my order;

Midsummer-Night's Dream, Act ii, Scene 1.

Ibid, Act ii, Scene 2.

And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,
Full often hath she gossip'd by my side.

And, for her sake, I do rear up her boy;

And, for her sake, I will not part with him.* Again, the fairies haunt the houses of their friends, scattering blessings around them. They enter the palace of Theseus, and Oberon enjoins

Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each fairy stray,
To the best bride-bed will we,

Which by us shall blessed be.
Break of day warns the fairies to bring their task to an end.
Let but the sun appear, and their kingdom will vanish into
thin air. They are as unsubstantial as the spirits whom
Prospero describes :-

These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thip air :
And, like the baseless fabrick of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve ;
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind: We are such stuff
As dreams are made of, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.t The dawn of the morning causes Puck to warn his master that the ghosts are trooping home to the places of their abode :

For night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast.

And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger.
Oberon answers

But we are spirits of another sort :
I with the Morning's Love have oft made sport;
And, like a forester, the groves may tread,
Even till the eastern gate, all fiery red,
Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,
Turns into yellow gold his salt-green streams. I

+ Tempest, Act iv, Scene 1.

Midsummer-Night's Dream, Act ii, Scene 2.

Midsummer Night's Dream, Act iii, Scene 2.

melted away.

A little longer and their tasks are done, and they have all

Then Bottom the weaver finds himself awake, near a hawthorn thicket. The strange visions of the night flit through his brain; the ass's head, which so admirably fitted the wearer, and the elfin queen, who so freely offered him her love-what were they? Bottom answers the question himself, and from his muddled brain pours forth this version of the adventures of the night. “I have had a dream,-past "the wit of man to say what dream it was : Man is but an ass, “if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I was" there is no man can tell what. Methought I was, and methought I had.-But man is but a patched fool, if he “ will offer to say what methought I had."*

And thus, in one of the most beautiful compositions man ever penned, Shakspeare has preserved the airy visions, the summer's evening dreams, about the fairy people of the woodlands of Warwickshire.

My paper has extended much longer than I at first intended; but I think I have proved what I have tried to do-our great poet's strong love for the forest, and that it was no transient feeling which inspired the words which Amiens sang :

Under the greenwood tree,
Who loves to lie with me,
And tune his merry note,

Unto the sweet bird's throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither;

There shall he see

No enemy
But winter and rough weather. +

Midsummer Night's Dream, Act iv, Scene 1. + As You Like It, Act ii, Scene 5,

THE PAMPHLET LITERATURE OF LIVERPOOL.

By Thomas Dawson Esq., M.R.C.S.

(READ 4TH FEBRUABY, 10TH MARCH AND 3RD NOVEMBER, 1864).

HAVING, for several years, been a collector of books and pamphlets printed or published in, or peculiarly relating to, Liverpool, I had intended presenting to the Historic Society a catalogue of books and pamphlets united, under the names of their authors, in alphabetical order. In this, however, I have been partially anticipated by Mr. Mott, who has published in our Transactions a catalogue of books published in Liverpool. It has been thus left to me to grapple with the more arduous task of cataloguing the pamphlets, which, for uniformity, I propose arranging in the same chronological order and to the same date-1850.

The papers read to the Society, and intended to form a preface to this catalogue, cannot possibly be printed for want of space, the list having extended far beyond the ordinary limits of a single paper. The difficulty of getting together these little links, which, united, form such a strong bond of union with the past, is very great;—they are scattered about in unaccountable places, and for the most part neglected and forgotten. The present catalogue is very far from exhaustive, being little more than a list of local pamphlets which, by quiet perseverance, I have been able to gather together for my own library.

About the year 1700 a printing press appears to have been first established in Liverpool, under the management of Samuel Terry, in Dale Street; he must have had a good business, being possessed of Greek type and able to commence a newspaper. How long he had been settled in the town pursuing this trade is unknown; the earliest specimen I can find of his work is a pamphlet printed in 1710, for Joseph Eaton. From this date I commence my catalogue. It is amusing to have it on record, that so recently as in the year 1647 two dictionaries were ordered for the parish school, with the injunction that they be chained to the desk or walla striking proof of the rarity of books in Liverpool at that period.

As a pamphlet is generally an essay or treatise on some subject of temporary interest, we shall find, in looking through the present collection, that many of these bear upon the more important events in the history of the town and illustrate those rapid but gigantic strides which so suddenly carried Liverpool to her present eminence among the great commercial cities of the world. It must not be forgotten that the pioneers of her greatness rose from the ranks and had to keep pace with the enormous growth of commerce ; had therefore abundant other calls on their attention and but slight qualifications for literary work. Yet, notwithstanding these drawbacks, the period of a hundred and fifty years embraced in my catalogue is not entirely barren of productions whose interest is enhanced by their literary merit. Of their special interest to the members of a Society engaged in reclaiming from oblivion whatever conduces to a clearer apprehension of the past a glance at the titles here recorded will afford ample proof; and, in dismissing the present imperfect compilation, I cannot refrain from expressing the hope that the Society may succeed in obtaining from other sources the means of rendering it more nearly complete.

« PředchozíPokračovat »