« PředchozíPokračovat »
XXIX. - CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE.
ALFRED TENNYSON, a living poet of England, was born at Somersby, Lincolnshire, in 1810. He has published two volumes of miscellaneous poetry; also “ The Princess," a narrative, in blank verse; a volume called "In Memoriam”; “Maud,” in which an unhappy love-story is told in a broken and fragmentary way; and “Idyls of the King,” comprising four poems founded on the legends of King Arthur.
He is a man of rare and fine genius, whose poetry is addressed to refined and cultivated minds. The music of his verse and his skill in the use of language are alike excellent. He is a poet of poets; and, in general, is only fully appreciated by those who have something of the poetical faculty themselves. He is more valued by women than by men, and by young men than by old. He is evidently a man of the finest organization, and his poetry is of the most exquisite and ethereal cast. He has an uncominon power of presenting pictures to the eye, and often in a very few words. His pages are crowded with subjects for the artist. A portion of what he has written is rather remote from the beaten track of human sympathies and feelings; but that he can write popular poetry is shown by his well-known “May Queen."
His volume called “In Memoriam" is a very remarkable book. It is a collection of one hundred and twenty-nine short poems, written in a peculiar and uniform meter, which were called forth by the early death of Arthur Henry Hallam, the eldest son of the historian, a young man of rare excellence of mind and character, the intimate friend of Tennyson, and betrothed to his sister. Such a book will not be welcome to all minds, nor to any niind at all periods and in all moods ; but it contains some of the most exquisite poetry which has been written in our tiines, and some of the deepest and sweetest effusions of feeling to be found anywhere.
The following spirited poem commemorates a gallant and desperate charge made by a brigade of English light-horse at the battle of Balaklava, in the Crimea, October 25, 1854, under circumstances that seemed to insure the destruction of the whole body. The order to charge was supposed to have been given under a mistake; but nothing was ever distinctly known about it, as Captain Nolan, who delivered it, was the first man who fell. Of six hundred and thirty who started on the charge only a hundred and fifty returned.
Not though the soldiers knew
Some one had blundered ; Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die : Into the valley of death
Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Volleyed and thundered :
Rode the six hundred.
Flashed all their sabers bare,
All the world wondered :
Shattered and sundered. Then they rode back, but not,
Not the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Volleyed and thundered :
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Left of six hundred.
When can their glory fade ?
All the world wondered.
Noble six hundred !
XXX. — PERSONAL APPEARANCE AND CHAR
ACTER OF WASHINGTON.
REV. JARED SPARKS.
JARED SPARKS, an American historian and author, was born in Willington, Connecticut, May 10, 1789; and died March 14, 1866. He was first a Unitarian minister, and was settled in Baltimore from 1819 to 1823. In 1821 he was Chaplain to the House of Representatives. He edited the North American Review from 1823 to 1830. He is best known by his valuable contributions to American history, of which the principal are “The Life and Works of Washington,” in twelve volumes, and “The Life and Works of Franklin," in ten volumes. He also wrote “The Life of John Ledyard," "The Life of Governeur Morris,” in three volumes, edited “The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution,” several numbers of the “ American Almanac,” and “The Library of American Biography,” in twenty-five volumes. He was McLane Professor of History at Harvard College from 1839 to 1849, and President of this College from 1849 to 1852. His historical writings are remarkable for their judgment and good sense, for accuracy and thoroughness of research, and for an unadorned simplicity and correctness of style.
ful, and fitly proportioned ; his stature six feet, his chest broad and full, his limbs long and somewhat slender, but well shaped and muscular. His features were regular and symmetrical, his eyes of a light blue color, and his whole countenance, in its quiet state, was grave, placid, and benignant.
When alone, or not engaged in conversation, he appeared sedate and thoughtful; but, when his attention was excited, his eye kindled quickly and beamed with animation and intelligence. He was not fluent in speech, but what he said was apposite, and listened to with more interest as being known to come from the heart. He seldom attempted sallies of wit or humor, but no man received more pleasure from an exhibition of them by others; and, although contented in seclusion, he sought his chief happiness in society, and participated with delight in all its rational and innocent amusements.
Without austerity on the one hand, or an appearance of condescending familiarity on the other, he was affable, courteous, and cheerful; but it has often been remarked, that there was a dignity in his person and manner, not easy to be defined, which impressed every one who saw him for the first time with an instinctive deference and
This may have arisen in part from a conviction of his superiority, as well as from the effect produced by his external form and deportment.
His moral qualities were in perfect harmony with those of his intellect. Duty was the ruling principle of his conduct; and the rare endowments of his understanding were not more constantly tasked to devise the best methods of effecting an object, than they were to guard the sanctity of conscience.
No instance can be adduced, in which he was actuated by a sinister motive, or endeavored to attain an end by unworthy means. Truth, integrity, and justice were
deeply rooted in his mind; and nothing could rouse his indignation so soon, or so utterly destroy his confidence, as the discovery of the want of these virtues in any one whom he had trusted. Weaknesses, follies, indiscretions, he could forgive; but subterfuge and dishonesty he never forgot and rarely pardoned.
He was candid and sincere, true to his friends, and faithful to all, neither practicing dissimulation, descending to artifice, nor holding out expectations which he did not intend should be realized. His passions were strong, and sometimes they broke out with vehemence, but he had the power of checking them in an instant. Perhaps selfcontrol was the most remarkable trait of his character. It was in part the effect of discipline; yet he seems by nature to have possessed this power to a degree which has been denied to other men.
A Christian in faith and practice, he was habitually devout. His reverence for religion is seen in his example, his public communications, and his private writings. He uniformly ascribed his success to the beneficent agency of the Supreme Being. Charitable and humane, he was liberal to the poor, and kind to those in distress. As a husband, son, and brother, he was tender and affectionate. Without vanity, ostentation, or pride, he never spoke of himself or his actions, unless required by circumstances which concerned the public interests.
As he was free from envy, so he had the good fortune to escape the envy of others, by standing on an elevation which none could hope to attain. If he had one passion stronger than another, it was love of his country. The purity and ardor of his patriotism were commensurate with the greatness of its object. Love of country in him was invested with the sacred obligation of a duty;