Obrázky stránek

'In her ear he whispers gaily,

“ If my heart by signs can tell, Maiden, I have watch'd thee daily,

And I think thou lov'st me well.” She replies in accents fainter,

“There is none I love like thee." He is but a landscape-painter,

And a village maiden she. He to lips, that fondly falter,

Presses his without reproof'; Leads her to the village altar,

And they leave her father's roof.
“I can make no marriage present;

Little can I give my wife.
Love will make our cottage pleasant,

And I love thee more than life.”

They by parks and lodges going

See the lordly castles stand :
Summer woods, about them blowing,

Made a murmur in the land.
From deep thought himself he rouscs,

Says to her that loves him well,
“ Let us see these handsome houses

Where the wealthy nobles dwell.” So she goes by him attended,

Hears him lovingly converse, Sees whatever fair and splendid

Lay betwixt his home and hers;

Parks with oak and chestnut shady,

Parks and order'd gardens great, Ancient homes of lord and lady,

Built for pleasure and for state. All he shows her makes him dearer :

Evermore she seems to gaze On that cottage growing nearer,

Where they twain will spend their days. O but she will love him truly !

He shall have a cheerful home; She will order all things duly,

When beneath his roof they come.

Thus her heart rejoices greatly,

Till a gateway she discerns With armorial bearings stately,

And beneath the gate she turns; Sees a mansion more majestic

Than all those she saw before: Many a gallant gay domestic

Bows before him at the door.


And they speak in gentle murmur,

When they answer to his call,
While he treads with footstep firmer,

Leading on from hall to hall;
And, while now she wonders blindly,

Nor the meaning can divine,
Proudly turns he round and kindly,

“All of this is mine and thine." Here he lives in state and bounty,

Lord of Burleigh, fair and free; Not a lord in all the county

Is so great a lord as he. All at once the colour fushes

Her sweet face from brow to chin: As it were with shame she blushes,

And her spirit changed within. Then her countenance all over

Pale again as death did prove : But he clasp'd her like a lover,

And he cheer'd her soul with love.
So she strove against her weakness,

Though at times her spirit sank;
Shaped her heart with woman's meekness

To all duties of her rank:
And a gentle consort made he,

And her gentle mind was such That she grew a noble lady,

And the people loved her much. But a trouble weigh'd upon her,

And perplex'd her, night and morn, With the burthen of an honour

Unto which she was not born. Faint she grew, and ever fainter,

As she murmur'd, “ Oh, that he Were once more that landscape-painter,

Which did win my heart from me!”
So she droop'd and droop'd before him,

Fading slowly from his side:
Three fair children first she bore him,

Then before her time she died.
Weeping, weeping late and early,

Walking up and pacing down, Deeply mourn'd the Lord of Burleigh,

Burleigh-house by Stamford-town. And he came to look upon her,

And he look'd at her and said, “ Bring the dress, and put it on her,

That she wore when she was wed."

Then Then her people, softly treading,

Bore earth her body, drest
In the dress that she was wed in,
That her spirit might have rest.”

- vol. ii. pp. 201-205. Every thoughtful reader of the poems which we have thus glanced through will be led to compare them with those on similar themes, of present human existence in the country, by the most profoundly reflective of our living poets, Mr. Wordsworth.

Michael,' The Brothers, the story of Margaret in the beginning of · The Excursion,'· Ruth,'— these also are English Idylls, drawn from the well-springs of Nature, and finished with the painful care of a great artist. How naked and bare they all are in their solemn stillness! Nor is it only in these poems, but even in works of lighter and gladder movement, that we are compelled to listen to the bard as to a grave teacher of moral truth, whom the spirit of spontaneous enjoyment, and even the sympathy with whatever is pathetic or grand in man, cannot hurry beyond the school of his compassionate but austere stoicisin. Ignorance only, or lunacy, could deny him a deep internal power of true poetry. But even this, and not merely the manly passions and the soft affections, even the shaping and inspired imagination itself, is always subject to the considerate dominion of the moral idea. Emotion, the most general and obvious, the necessary impulse of all poetry in every age, is restrained in all his writings by the awful presence of self-centred will. The feelings are described rather than shared; the tragic passions summoned up only to be rebuked by a more solemn conjuration than their own; the free enjoyment of life and nature approved only within the bounds of unrelaxing caution; and love—the name bubbled by every wave of Hippocrene, and thundered in all the floods and storms of the main ocean of our being-is here a grave ritual sound spoken over the still waters drawn from the well of Truth for a penitential baptism.

Of course it would be far from our design to charge this great writer with want of feeling. A poet without feeling! Fire without warmth, and a heart without pulsation! But it is clear that his feelings are always strictly watched by his meditative conscience too strictly, not for wisdom, but for rapture. Not a prophet in the wilderness lifting up his testimony against an evil generation, for the heart of the seer must be red and fierce as molten iron-not a hermit in his cave retired from human joys, for the anchorite floats above his rocky floor, forgetful of laws and retributions, in an ecstasy of self-denying love, that supplies the place of decalogue and duties—but like the prophet and the monk, this poet turns aside from the busy ways of life to speculate,



and sometimes awful rhetoric, on the wondrousness of existence, and the care with which we must tend the purity of its fountain in the heart. There is no face so lovely, no act so gushing over with keen life, that it can kindle at once the minstrel into song, hurrying him beyond all thought of wrong and right, and having warrant enough in the zealous heat which it inspires. Only in communion with the stars, the mountains, and the sea, the flowers of spring and autumn leaves, and all the simple mysteries of natural things, does his heart pour, without pause, a stream of melodious gladness, and fear no danger in its own happy ecstasies. Even in these solemn elevations of soul he does not forget to impose a scheme of toils on human life. Among streams and rocks he begins with discourse of virtue; and when he has risen on the ladder of his vision to the stars, we still hear him singing from the solar way, that it is by temperance, soberness, and chastity of soul he has so climbed, and that the praise of this heroic discipline is his last message to mankind. A noble temper of heart! "A truly great man! He has strangely wedded his philosophic lore to the sweetness of poetry. But the poetry would have streamed out in a freer gush, and flushed the heart with ampler joy, had the moral been less obtruded as its constant aim.

In the younger of these two idyllic writers, on the whole the most genial poet of English rural life that we know—for Burns was of another language and country, no less than school—there is a very different stamp

of soul. In his works there has been art enough required and used to give such clear and graceful roundness; but all skill of labour, all intellectual purpose, kept behind the sweet and fervid impulse of the heart. Thus, all that we call affection, imagination, intellect, melts out as one long happy sigh into union with the visibly beautiful, and with every glowing breath of human life. In all his better poems there is this same character—this fusion of his own fresh feeling with the delightful affections, baffled or blessed, of others—and with the fairest images of the real world as it lies before us all to-day. To this same tendency all legend and mystery are subordinate—to this the understanding, theorizing and dogmatizing, yet ever ministers, a loyal giant to a fairy mistress. In his better and later works the fantastic and ingenious brain, abounding in gold-dust and diamond-powder, and the playmate of sphinxes and hieroglyphic beasts, pours out its wealth, and yokes its monsters only for the service of that homely northern nature, without whose smile all wealth is for us but dead stones, and all mysteries but weary tasklike puzzles.



Art. V.- Remarks on English Churches, and on the Expediency

of rendering Sepulchral Memorials subservient to Pious and Christian Uses. By J. H. Markland, F.R.S. and S.A.

Oxford, 1842. 12mo. Second Edition. MR.

R. MARKLAND has long been known for his zealous and

indefatigable services to the Church-services not the less valuable as rendered by a layman. And he has now added another to their number, by a suggestion so likely to accord with the present improved state of religious feeling, and capable of such general application, that it may be regarded as one of the most important steps made lately in the restoration of a sound and efficient church-system among us. That it is simple, and obvious, such as might have occurred to any mind in passing through one of our churchyards, or looking at the tablets which disfigure the walls of our churches, is no disparagement to the merit of the suggester. Most of our greatest inventions have been of this

To have appreciated its value, and placed it before the public in a form likely to fix attention, and to induce the adoption of it, is in itself no slight thing. And the pure, practical, and devotional spirit of the little work in which it is contained will give it a recommendation, which Mr. Markland may well claim as his own.

It is not (he says) the object of these pages to suggest the banishing of sepulchral monuments altogether from our churches, deeply reverencing, as we must, the antiquity of the custom, and the feeling of love and respect for the dead," as the last work of charity we can perform for them,” which in many instances prompts their erection ; and also believing that they have often been the means of producing a salutary inpression upon the living. “ The sensations of pious cheerfulness which attend the celebration of Sunday,” says Wordsworth, “are profitably chastised by the sight of the graves of kindred and friends, gathered together in that general home, towards which the thoughtful, yet happy, spectators themselves are journeying." The descendant of a noble house who in his family mausoleum sees his steel-clad sires and mothers mild” reposing on their marble tombs, and the peasant who saunters among the mouldering heaps of the forefathers of his hamlet, are alike susceptible of some mournful pleasure, arising from the contemplation of these relics of veneration ;” and are alive to the sentiments so exquisitely expressed by Gray in a stanza which ought never to have been expunged from his Elegy

“ Hark! how the sacred calm that breathes around

Bids every fierce tumultuous passion cease;
In still small accents whispering from the ground

A grateful earnest of eternal peace.”
Tombs of different periods, and of styles characteristic of those periods



2 E

« PředchozíPokračovat »