Page images


been even from infancy, as she assured me, considered a beauty.

All this was appalling, seeing that I could not, by any attempt, bring my opinion to accord with hers.

It was true, she had blue eyes and large eyes, but they were all surface, they wanted the bright depth where another world seems to exist; where -in fact-they were eyes that any one might paint. It was true she had dark hair, and long hair, but there was no grace in the head it might otherwise have adorned; there was no expression in any feature except oue, and that made me think, every time I looked up, of Polypheme in the oratorio. "Bring me a hundred reeds of decent growth, to make a pipe for my capacious mouth."

Many an hour she devoted to me, and at length I produced a likeness; I could'nt help it, I know it was unpardonable, and I kiss the rod; it was gazed at, censured, abused, rejected: she agreed to sit again--to try an entirely new style," my poor face! no artist ever yet succeededto be sure that of poor dear Flatteurine's would have been exact, but he died, dear man, before it was finished!" Dreadful thought! I determined that should not be my catastrophe if I could help it, and began with fresh vigour. She chose to appear as Hebe, and she did-it was an excellent picture, totally unlike the former; "but Mamma," said her little daughter, "what is that little jug for? and the lady looks so cold without her gown, poor thing!"

This little connoisseur next took her place with her brother, and an infant ten months old claimed my care: the latter having previously determined not to submit to any such infliction, made it a point to whine and "shirl," and sulk, and storm, and rage; during which the nurses uttered all the inexpressive sounds that are resorted to in similar cases, till a new Babel woke; there were the knockings, the dancings, the whirlings, the joggings, threatening discomfiture to all my apparatus. I bore it all, however, and came off in triumph, having produced three cherubs, without the wings or rounding clouds. They were pronounced inimitable, and I saved my credit with but little sacrifice of truth,


for an ugly child is so rare-how is it
possible that infancy and innocence
can look otherwise than beautiful!
Their clear bright eyes, their soft,
rose-hued cheeks, their round small
limbs-art cannot flatter them.

Oh infancy! if aught can move
The coldest heart to pity and to love,
"Twere surely found in thee!

[ocr errors]

Dim passions mark
Stern manhood's brow, where age impresses


The stealing lines of sorrow, but thine eye
Wears nor distrust, nor grief, nor perjury.

The next family that claimed my
attention was one much more inter-
esting than I had been accustomed
to meet with. It consisted of a father,
three daughters, and a mother, blind
and infirm. I am ignorant of their
exact rank, but I conceive the father
must have formerly been in business,
though now retired from busy life to
a beautiful cottage in the country,
where his constant occupation was
gardening; so devoted was he to this
passion that his outward man indi-
cated a regular professor of that an-
cient art, no amateur: and it was
difficult for strangers to recognize
the lord of the mansion in his blue,
tucked-up apron, and clouted shoon.
The tender and unremitting attention
of the two youngest girls, who were
twins, to their mother, delighted me
extremely. I did not see the eldest
for some time, and I observed that
when her name was mentioned, a
sadness seemed to follow, and silence,
as if it roused some feelings that
could not be immediately suppressed:
this raised my curiosity to see her;
but I had little chance of my wish
being gratified-she never appeared.
The twins were very charming, they
sang the prettiest duets imaginable,
their voices blended so sweetly, they
looked so innocent and placid, and
yet there was some uneasiness that I
could not penetrate. I should have
thought it was the blindness of their
parent, but she was so tranquil, so
resigned; employed herself so con-
stantly with one little delicate work
or other, and spoke so cheerfully
about her affliction that it could not
be that.


"O soaring bird, that restest upon

the Sûdree, thy station is not this confined place of sorrow!"

One morning, chance gratified me with a sight of the incognita. I had arrived earlier than usual, and the family were not prepared for me: while I waited, observing that a glass door which led into the garden stood open, I strolled out, and following the direction of a terrace from whence a fine view of woods and hills extended, I came to a shaded walk of limes, the coolness and beauty of which invited me to go on. After sauntering up this avenue, and admiring the regularity of the long straight stems through which the sun gleamed, chequering the path with interrupted light, while the high branches far above murmured in the wind from which their thickness sheltered me, I came to a rising ground, which, as I advanced, led me to a rude flight of steps irregularly formed in the hill side, and having climbed them, I found myself on an elevated spot crowned with tall trees of different kinds, while below in a deep hollow I was surprised by observing a highly cultivated garden glowing with a profusion of flowers and flowering shrubs. Many paths branched off from this parterre, some planted with laurel, whose deep red, cherry

like berries, contrast with its bright leaf, while those that are unripe form a pleasing variety of paler greenthe underwood of dwarf St. John's wort with its star-like yellow flowers hanging over the path: other alleys of dim fir, and others of luxuriant flowers in wild variety; the tigerflower and dahlia of every hue, with all the rich gems that autumn scatters in her train.

A steep descent, which art had taught to imitate the rugged wildness of nature, promised to lead me to the beauties I contemplated at a distance, and I abandoned myself to its guidance in the pleasing uncertainty of losing my way in this labyrinth of beauty. I was mistaken in supposing I should reach the fairy scene I wished to see nearer; for, instead of that, I stood before a ruined arch overgrown with climbing plants, beyond which, in a small court surrounded by high broken fragments of stone, an antique fountain was playing in the front of what might be a cave or grotto: I was advancing when the sound of music arrested my steps, and listening attentively, I heard the following words, accompanied with much taste by a guitar.


There may be hope, though long removed,
And time may vanish'd joys restore;
But those fond moments when we loved
Are gone-and may return no more!
To some those joys renew'd may be,
But never can revive for me!

Once what delight my soul has known
To dwell upon thy cherish'd name;
I start to find that years have flown,
And see thee changed, myself the same.
The same as when unknown to care,
The same in sorrow-in despair!

The last words were interrupted by deep sighs, and I heard the soothing voice of one of the twin sisters say: "Dear Amy (which name betrayed to me the secret), why do you sing that song? you know it always makes you so melancholy; now do come in and see the picture; it will be finished to-day, and we must hear your opinion." A deep low voice answered, " Aye, now; let me go

now. I had rather not stay herethey come to me so often, and I begin to grow terrified-make hastedon't you see them now at the end of the cave?" "See what, my dear sister?" said my friend." The spirits to be sure," was the answer; "this is their time to come, and if we go directly we shall miss them--come!”

At these words they came out of the grotto; I intended to have re

[ocr errors]

tired before they perceived me, but was too late, and finding I was discovered 1 joined them, when my young acquaintance, with some embarrassment, introduced her eldest sister, Mrs. The latter received my salutations without any marks of confusion, or any of that wildness I had been so much startled at in her conversation. She was dressed in deep mourning, a long white veil was wound round her head in rather a fantastic manner, and her beautiful light auburn tresses escaped from it; she was very pale and delicately fair, which was more remarkable from the contrast formed by her large, full, hazel eyes, shaded by dark lashes, that gave them the effect of deep black; her face altogether was one, such as Guido loved to represent, and its extreme pensive beauty quite charmed me. I saw her frequently afterwards, but she never spoke, and I regarded her as a lovely vision. Her story I heard lately from an old woman, who had formerly been a domestic of the family. It is strange how linked together are almost all the beings in the world, from what apparently opposite sources information is drawn."

She had at a very early period of her life formed an attachment to a young man, her senior only by a few years, who being entirely without fortune, and in the army-a circumstance which she knew would be a great obstacle with her family, had little chance of obtaining the consent of her friends to their union. He was handsome, agreeable, and devoted; he wrote the most exquisite verses, at least she could not but think so, for she inspired them; they were both young and imprudent, and thought

Quando un alma è all' altra unita
Qual piacer un cor risente!

Ah si tolga dalla vita

In short they were privately married, and soon after her husband received orders to accompany his regiment to India! This was a severe announcement to the lovers, but they had no alternative but to part with tears and mutual vows, still resolving to conceal their marriage till better fortune should smile on him.

Her sorrow, which she found it impossible to hide, in a little time betrayed her secret to her mother; and, contrary to the expectations the fears of the lovers had conjured up, the news was not only calmly received, but her father, in his anxiety for the happiness of his beloved child, immediately set preparations on foot for her joining her husband. All was arranged, and she embarked -she reached the Cape, and beheld the tomb of him whom she sought! he had been seized with a fever which had carried him off in a few days. She returned broken-hearted to her parents, and when her son was born, his mother had no longer power to welcome her child; her intellect became deranged; and, though by degrees she partially recovered from that affliction, deep fits of melancholy frequently visited her mind, and rendered her incapable of joining in society. Her mother's blindness and the loss of her infant increased her sorrows and her malady. She was extremely gentle and fearful in the extreme-no violence was to be dreaded from her she excited the tenderest compassion, but no feeling of terror: her frequent theme was that chosen in the song I heard, namely, complaint of the inconstancy of some cherished object-such is the inconsistency of madness; so does it add bitterness to grief by imaginary wrongs-for her love

-he had the truest heart. Oh! he was heavenly true,

Tutto quel che non è amor.


When hearts are link'd in one soft chain,

All joy the moments move,

Ah! every hour of life is vain

That is not pass'd in love!-P. P.

P. P.



SINCE Fate my ev'ry hope destroys
I may not sing of love to thee,
Nor tear thee from thy own pure joys
To bind thee to my misery.

Thy smile's too like an angel's smile,
Thy truth too like an angel's truth-
To win thy confidence with guile,
And blast the prospects of thy youth.


I will not say that joy may bless
The soul that is so lonely now,
Nor bid thee think that happiness

Will warm my heart and ray my brow. Oh! no; I feel that bliss can ne'er

In this cold world again be mine:

I would not wed thee to despair

I would not wound a heart like thine ;


I would not give those eyes a tear,

I would not wrong their smiling light, Nor make that breast the seat of fear, Nor promise hope, and scatter blight,I would not let one pang be given,

To sere thy mind or dim thy charms, For all that earth, for all that heaven, Contain within their giant arms.


Life is for thee a cloudless scene

A summer scene where thou may'st stray O'er sunny hills and valleys green, Beneath the light of pleasure's ray. I will not as thou journey'st forth Hang like a cloud thy path above; Nor as the rude and cruel North

Breathe o'er thy soul my with'ring love.


Thou shalt not fall beneath the blast

That pours its deadliest wrath on me, But live serenely to the last,

And glide into eternity,

With all thy feelings pure and still

As autumn's sunset-summer's calm,

When evening from her silent hill
Drops on the vale her tears of balm.


I will not deem thy smile less sweet
When it shall beam no more on me,
Nor think that others use deceit,

Who tell their hopes and love to thee.
And when some other youth shall gain
Thy spotless heart I'll ne'er repine,
But joy that one I loved in vain

Has found a happier breast than mine.



CONSIDERING the Scriptures merely in a literary point of view, and without any reference to their divine object, the leading of our minds to virtue, and thenceforward to happiness, it is beyond doubt that they contain more sublime, more transcendently sublime passages, more beautiful, more exquisitely beautiful verses, than are to be met with in any profane work. Whilst I was yet but young in criticism, it was my habit to memorize" in a book of tablets such phrases as particularly; struck me by their vigour or elegance in the course of my desultory reading. On looking over the earliest of these juvenile records, some days ago, I found the two following extracts placed in the van, as exemplifying what I then considered to be the chef d'œuvre of sublime and beautiful composition, respectively. With a judgment (such as it is), somewhat more matured, and a course of study somewhat more extended, I do not know that I could now select a finer specimen of either kind. They are as follow:

Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?

Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible.

He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength! he goeth on to meet the armed men.

He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword.

The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield.

He swalloweth the ground in fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.

He saith among the trumpets, Ha! ha! and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting. Job, chap. xxxix. Consider the lilies of the field how they grow they toil not, neither do they spin;

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. St. Matthew, chap. vi. Of the first of these quotations it

may perhaps be said, that in it the boldness, the mental audacity which always characterizes a true genius for the sublime, has here reached its utmost limit,-if in one phrase it has not even transgressed it. The expression, "hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?" i. e. with a sound, though authenticated by Gray in his Progress of Poesy,* is perhaps too vague a metaphor to be distinctly apprehended,-if indeed it be anything more than a mere euphonous collection of syllables which captivates the ear. I am far from wishing to reduce poetry to logic, or to try it by the rules of that art; but it certainly should be always reducible to sense, and be always conformable to the standard of reason. I do not even require that the rationale of a poetical expression should be always definable in words; because the power of words is not sufficiently flexible, and cannot always reach the subtlety of thought. Words are fixed and unchangeable in their meaning; thought is indefinitely modifiable; its different shades must therefore frequently elude the grasp of words, and its various forms be often too delicate for the rude hand of language to seize without crushing. But I certainly require that the rationale of every poetical expression should be apprehensible by the reader, i. e. should be mentally explicable to himself. If it fulfils this condition, no more is necessary; but if it does not, if it affords the reader no distinguishable (not definable) object of contemplation, it is to all intents and purposes without meanI reing, that is, it is non-sense. member once repeating, with all the enthusiasm of youthful admiration, the above description of the warhorse in Job, to a friend who is more of a mathematician, and less of a "poet," than I am. He immediately demanded of me what was meant by "clothing a horse's neck with a sound?" I was puzzled, but I would not confess it. I was

* Speaking of the horses of Pindar, he says, With necks in thunder clothed, and long resounding pace. Nov. 1824. 2 L

« PreviousContinue »