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And golden cross, and snowy
The city walls: dark myriads round them clinging :
Now the oid bridge beneath their tread is ringing:
Uncounted bells with chime of human voices !
Like the mother of some victor chief rejoices.
Let forth a breeze of music onward gushing,
Down sink the crowds, at once their murmur hushing.
Martyrs and saints in dyed and mystic glass
Flood the fair aisles, and all that by them pass :
Like fire-topped reeds, from their aërial station
Beneath the blessing of that constellation
What then? the faith was large that dropped it down;
But won from Heaven a perdurable crown.
They on each other smiled, and gazed around
Their infant brows with golden circlet bound. The prelates blessed them, and the nobles swore True faith and fealty by the sword they bore.
VOL. LXXII. NO. CXLIII.
Home to the palace, still in order keeping,
That train returned; and in the stateliest room
Together in one cradle's curtained gloom;
And jest past lightly 'mid the courtly throng.' If the spirit of Spenser were to revisit the earth, in order to see what had been done in his own way since he left it, he would find nothing that would give him more pleasure than this. Nor is the childhood that follows this infancy less delightfully depicted:
Ah, lovely sight! behold them-creatures twain,
Hand-in-hand wandering through some verdant alley,
Their wind-caught laughter echoing musically;
And fain would peer into its snowy cave:
The feebler backward draws him from the wave;
Both hands they caught; and bade him explicate
At large all duties of the nuptial state.
Touching with awe the illuminated page;
Of babes destroyed by Herod's murderous rage.
Light pet and childish quarrel seldom came.
Their nurse addressed them thus-an ancient dame-
Lifts her lone head; but pines, and pining dies.
Monarch or knight beside his lady lies :
“Rachael, not less, and Ruth, whereof men read
In book ordained our life below to guide,
Loved him full well, nor any loved beside.
Unblemished truth, and hearts in sweet accord.
With stronger faith their king and sovereign lord.
Those babes walked gravely : at the garden gates
And hooded nuns looked downwards from their grates.
(The lowlier flowers in wrecks around them thrown),
And there, now wreathed, now leaning into one,
To please good angels thus, and win good men.' At twelve years of age the boy follows the standard of the Cross to Palestine; and, after some years spent in the wars, to his great honour and glory, he returns to the home and wife of his childhood :
Strange joy they found all day in wandering over
The spots in which their childish sports had been ;
A broken light brightened yet more the scene !
They loved with love eternal : spent their days
No spoils unjust they sought, or unjust praise.
Who dare to mock our childish bridal, cease!
Unblest was that which gave two kingdoms peace ?
We now take our leave of Mr. De Vere's poetry, commending it to the care of a class which we believe to be daily increasingthe students of this art in its higher walks. Poetry has been supposed to be not much the fashion of late years; but the truth is that—with few, very few exceptions—poetry of the highest order never has been the fashion at any time; it has never been extensively popular. It is true of the last twenty years that popular poetry has lost its popularity ; but it is also true of the last ten, that poetry which was aimed at a higher mark than popularity, has gained a large accession of devoted students of readers who seek in poetry the highest knowledge invested with the least perishable charm. It is these men who lay the foundation of a great poet's fame; and it is through a popular recognition of their judgment, and a popular sympathy with their admiration, that such poets as Milton and Wordsworth come to be popular in the only sense in which they can be said to be so—that is, that their merits come to be fully acknowledged, though but partially felt and perceived, by readers at large.
But besides this accession of strength to the cause of poetry in its loftier moods, we believe that there is now reviving amongst us a love of it merely as a literary pleasure and recreation.
For several years it was supplanted in this function by a sort of book which Laura Matilda herself might have been permitted to look down upon--that cross between social frivolity and an itch for writing, called fashionable novels. These have well nigh had their day, and we trust that they will soon be to be seen chiefly in the circulating libraries of the smaller country-towns. A more dry and meagre dissipation for the human mind human art never invented; and such books, even when morally unobjectionable (which few of them are), are as much worse than nothing to the mind, as a soil choked with weeds is worse than a fallow.
To a mind that is vacant and lies open, nature or accident may bring some increase-seeds are sown by the winds in many
such minds, or dropped by the birds :--but to a mind which is occupied with the pitiful employment of reading these thoughtless, passionless, fruitless productions, even fortuitous cultivation and the growths of Nature's planting seem to be forbidden. We are therefore happy to believe that the back-shop is now the chief asylum for fashionable novels : in London, at least, the drawing-room table will often be unwilling to display them; it shows signs of shame, and we have known them to be cleared off at the approach of a stranger with as much expedition as marked Miss Lydia Languish's preparations for an unexpected visit,- when she flung
Peregrine Pickle' under the toilet, threw Roderick Random into the closet, and put the Innocent Adultery' into the whole
Duty of Man.'— Few books are so bad as bad poems; but fashionable novels are worse, because they are not of the number of books which (as the Germans say) will not permit themselves to be read: bad poems are.
But to bad poems there is no occasion to have recourse,—or to indifferent ones, which would be the same thing. There is much good poetry which (if we are not mistaken) would be new to the great majority of those who read for amusement. Mr. Tennyson is now, we believe, pretty generally read; but how many of our readers have read Mr. Darley's Thomas-à-Becket,' or his Sylvia;' Mr. W. Smith's Athelwold;' Mr. Sterling's and Mr. Trench's poems; those of Sir Francis Doyle—and Mr. De Vere's father, Sir Aubrey? Yet in these, how much of refined and cultivating recreation might be met with by those who would wish to pitch their literary amusements above the mark of a fashionable novel; and by those who would wish to look into the inner mind of their age, how much would be met with of the pensive fancies, the thoughtful graces, the intellectual interests, which blossom beneath our busier life and our more rank and forward literature.
Art. VI.- Histories of Noble English Families ; with Biographi
cal Notices of the most Distinguished Individuals in each : Illustrated by their Armorial Bearings, Portraits, Monuments, Seats, 8c. "Compiled and edited by Henry Drummond, Esq.
Parts I. & II. Inp. folio. 1842. London. FEW literary facts are more surprising than that the innu
merable volumes which treat of, perhaps, the proudest and richest, as well as the most accomplished aristocracy in the world, should, with rare exceptions, be scarcely more pleasant reading' than the introductory chapters of the Book of Chronicles ;' for the verbs “to beget' and 'to die' form the substance of the narratives. On glancing over the pages of the books called · Peerages,' it would almost seem as if the individuals mentioned in them had possessed neither talents, valour, ambition, nor vices. Little else is to be found than a catalogue of names and dates, posts held, lands inherited; with the occasional enlivenment of a will, an epitaph, or an indiscriminate and fulsome panegyric. Of these “gentle historians' Burke justly said that they dip their pens in nothing but the milk of human kindness-seek no farther for merit than the preamble of a patent, or the inscription on a tomb. With them every man created a Peer is first a hero ready