« IndietroContinua »
THE RUSTIC NURSE.
debasing influences of worldly pursuits. Poetry em
bodies the art of elevating the objects around and about Our Illustration of this day so well tells its own tale us, of discovering and rendering apparent the beautiful as to need no remarks from us; for, although our little in the familiar scenes of every-day life, of idealizing nurse seems much pleased with his change, we freely reality, so to speak; yet to be what it professes, it must confess our thoughts were drawn to the more melan. ever speak of, and answer to the truth. It is not con. choly reflection that in these days children are too apt objects of nature, which to the eyes of a prosaical, com,
fined to mere utterings; it is seen and felt in a thousand to be kept away from the Village School, to perform mön-place mind, are mere rivers, woods, or fields, and the part of the parent at home--a system equally detri- nothing more. It is a fact that there are a great many mental to the interests of both old and young.
poets amongst the mass of human beings, who are altogether unconscious of possessing one spark of this divine faculty. They see a beauty, and hear a music, to which they can give no name; they abandon themselves to a
sense of pleasure in their admiration of things beautiful, ON THE POETRY AND POETS OF THE AGE. but cannot tell whence it arises. There may be no ex
pression in these men,—they may make use of no symbols It is of a truth no easy task to set up a standard and no types,-but, for all that, poetry lives and moves whereby we may judge of poetry and poets. If this were
within them. Imagination is necessary for the poet to ever a difficulty in times past, how much greater has it enable him to clothe his thoughts in words, and this is become in these days, when opinion differs so widely as to attain.
a gift of Nature's own bestowing, which no study can
Hence the poet as distinguished from the the merits of various writers, and when every rhymester man in whom poetry lives; and thence it follows, that arrogates to himself a niche in the temple of the Muses. this art may be defined as the power of liberating one It is impossible in an article circumscribed as this of the highest faculties of the intellect: not cabined must necessarily be, to enter fully into the niceties of or confined, but speaking very intelligible language, such a question ; but as the mariner voyaging over
that shall vibrate through many hearts, and be listened strange seas is enabled to estimate distances, and to tell for ever ; like our own immortal Shakspeare, “he is not
to in all seasons and in all ages. For the real poet lives by certain signs and tokens how far off he is from land, for an age, but for all time." He receives from Nature so, in a few brief remarks, the qualities that belong to an exquisite perception of the beautiful, and following this divine art may be enumerated, and allusion made out the just and unerring laws of compensation, this to its most successful followers now living and speaking same Nature gives him a voice by which he shall benefit amongst us.
his fellow-workers in the paths of life, and this voice is Never was there made a more barefaced attempt to the requirements which are specially needful for such a
expression, or, going farther, we may say is poetry. Of all foist a fallacy on the public mind, than in giving out man, two must never be lost sight of-earnestness and that because a man could string together a quantity truthfulness ; for without these poetry were a mere wanof words which should jingle harmoniously, he was ton idleness, a soft delusion. Nothing contributes more worthy of being elevated to the rank of a poet. Facility to the rapture with which we hang upon the pages of of versification, and richness of invention, may be, and Shakspeare, Milton, Byron, Dante, Homer, and Burns, are, inherent in the true poet, but they do not of them. each in his degree, were in earnest and spoke the
than the certain conviction we possess that these men, selves constitute a title to that distinguished appel-truth. lation.
of the poetry and poets of the present day it is conThere is something of a far bigher origin wanting to fessedly an ungracious office to speak ; for opinions are complete the proper characteristic which distinguishes still strangely divided as to the merits of several of our the man of genius from the mere maker of couplets. very cleverest writers. It would seem that an entirely To this something it is almost impossible to give a school of a very different order to any that has pre
new school has sprung up within the last few years, a name, and assuredly no easy task to afford the reader a ceded it. Its merits appear to consist in the elaboration correct idea of its literal meaning and intrinsic value of intense thought, and the power of clothing with a It speaks for itself in the verse of the poet; it is the beauty all their own things of every day life. To this reflex of the noble thoughts that have been engendered may be added a high sense of the loveliness of external in his brain, and are revealed in glowing words, which nature. Its chief defects consist of a too great disreshine upon man's spirit with the lustre shed from the gard to the conventionalities of the world, an occasional bright halo of inspiration that glitters on the brow of able obscurity. Wordsworth, who was never more read
looseness of construction, and in many places considertruth--truth one and immutable-the same in every than he is at the present time, may be called the highage and in every clime. We must recognise in the priest of this new fraternity. Of his longer poems we works of the real poet a thinking and an aspiring mind, will not now speak; but upon the shorter pieces, parand be able to trace his aspirations to the domains of ticularly the sonnets, we must bestow our warmest eulothe beautiful and the true. Poetry of the simply ficti- gium. In this class of composition, he stands without a tious order, and which serves no useful end, is in our
rival; in it he displays all the pathos and energy of a opinion scarcely deserving of the name, and may be laid the volume at random, and take the first verses that
man of feeling, and of the most refined mind. We open aside with the other ephemeræ of its day. That the present themselves. decline and fall of this species of versification is near at
SONNET hand may be confidently predicted, and indeed is a consummation most devoutly to be wished. If it is on SIR WALTER SCOTT'S QUITTING ABBOTSFORD FOR NAPLES. an art which is to serve no purpose, let poetry at once “A trouble, not of clouds, or weeping rain, be suffered to become obsolete and unknown, save in Nor of the setting suu's pathetic light the fanciful imagery of some plaintive love-song. But Engendered, hangs o'er Eildon's triple height: poetry, beyond all other species of literature and the fine
Spirits of Power assembled there complain
For kindred Power departing from their sight; arts, has a natural tendency to elevate and exalt the While Tweed, best pleased in chanting a blithe strain, sphere of a man's usefulness, and to free him from the Saddens his voice again and yet again :
Lift up your hearts, ye Mourners ! for the might | lady, as exhibited in his “Bells and Pomegranates," and Of the whole world's good wishes with him goes ; Sordello and Paracelsus, is in many respects very strikBlessings and prayers, in nobler retinue
ing, but the obscurity which accompanies it detracts so Than sceptred king or laurelled conqueror knows,
much from its merits, that few persons are tempted to Follow this wondrous Potentate. Be true,
peruse it. Horne has done some wonderful things; his Ye winds of ocean and the midland sea, Wafting your charge to soft Parthenope.”
plays, and the epic “ Orion,” are as finely conceived as
they are ably executed. He is gifted with a nice judg. The late Thomas Hood, whose comic effusions have so ment, and can adapt his verses to the scene or time of often set the table in a roar, was very successful in this their action with great facility and fluency. walk of poesy. We may instance his Sonnet on Silence Many passages in Taylor's “Van Artevelde" are equal as being a perfect model for the gentle craft; but as a to some of the best productions of our old Elizabethan specimen of his more general style, we will adduce this, dramatists. This author is peculiarly happy in deli. his last dying inspiration
neating character, and in the episode which divides the STANZAS.
two parts of his historical play, there are bits of exqui
site imagery, which must delight at every fresh reading. “ Farewell Life! my senses swim,
In thus reviewing what has been passing of late years And the world is growing dim:
in the regions of poesy, and noticing some of the leading Thronging shadows cloud the light,Like the advent of the night
minstrels of the age we live in, it must not for a moment Colder, colder, colder still ,
be supposed that the subject has been otherwise than Upward steals a vapour chill;
cursorily treated. Strong the earthy odour grows-
There are many meritorious authors, pilgrims bend. I smell the mould above the rose !
ing their steps towards Parnassus, persons of genius, Welcome Life! the Spirit strives !
whose names and productions have not been here alluded Strength returns and hope revives;
to. The theme is one which embraces a number of Cloudy fears and shapes forlorn
remarks and observations, incompatible with the limits Fly like shadows at the morn,
of a single article. The subject is a most interesting O'er the earth there comes a bloom;
and attractive one, and increases in its importance to Sunny light for sullen gloom,
the literary world with every passing year; for educaWarm perfume for vapour cold
tion is making rapid strides throughout the country, I smell the rose above the mould."
and the knowledge of this great fact has a natural tenRogers, Moore, and Leigh Hunt, cannot be said to dency to stimulate the mass of mankind to inquire who have any characteristics in common with this new epoch are the presiding spirits of the age. The question has of the poetic art; therefore, on this occasion, we will not been here mooted, and but imperfectly answered ; still enter into their merits, which belong to a totally dif- it is to be hoped that it may, in some slight measure, ferent order. Tennyson, among the writers of this assist the inquirers who would investigate a subject of school, however, claims a distinguished position, and
so lofty a nature. deserves a more lengthened notice here, for his poetry is everywhere attracting general attention, and daily
THE MAIDEN AUNT.-No. IV.1 appealing, by its energetic beauty, to fresh audiences. In the verses of this poet there is an accumulative force, and apposite flow of rhythm, which will convert, in due Edith from the necessity of answering this embarrassing
A SUDDEN knocking at the door of the room" relieved season, even such of his readers as are most inclined to
question. waver in their faith, and fail in their appreciation of his great genius. His verses will yet find an echo in many a wishes to see you before you go to bed.”.
“ If you please, ma'am, Captain Kinnaird is come, and young and susceptible heart. His sympathies are grandly felt and nobly expressed. If ever man possessed that with which her friend responded to this summons.
Mrs. Dalton could not restrain a laugh at the alacrity which an American writer has designated as OVER-SOUL, “Good night,” said she, kissing her, "you are quitte it is this man. To quote is to mutilate him. He must pour la peur this time, and when next I want to calebe read, learnt by heart, studied, read again, and, more chise you, I will take precautions against these stage than all, thought over. Then will come a discovery of surprises. I do believe it was preconcerted.”. the natural beauty of his poetry. “The Two Voices,” the “Morte d'Arthur," “ Locksley Hall,” “ Mariana," very intelligible answer. “I am only so very glad to
“Dear Mrs. Dalton, how can you—?" was Edith's not “ Dora,” the “ Day Dream,” are all gems not easily see my brother again; it is six months since we met." matched.
She wrapped herself in a shawl as she spoke, and “ Yet I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs,
hurried to the dressing room to receive her brother, And the thoughts of men are widen'd with the process of the while Mrs. Dalton withdrew to her own apartment. suns."
Kinnaird, having kissed his sister heartily, examined
her closely by the light of the lamp, pronounced that she No poet ever betrayed the effect of high thinkings so
was somewhat paler than her wont, and that dissipation freely as this one. None ever concentrated beautiful did not agree with her, asked a few scattered questions ideas so thoroughly or so well. Nearly allied to him in relative to her proceedings for the last six months, and style, is a lady who has lately entered the pale of matrimony, Mrs. Browning. In some of her compositions involved information relative to his own, professed him
volunteered a vast quantity of rambling, rattling, and we are astounded at the force and fervour which glow self tired, and wished her good night. But Edith lin. and move in every line, and can scarcely be persuaded we are listening to chords struck by a woman's hand. gered by the table with his candle in her hand, which
was assuredly longer in getting lighted than ever candle Here, too, we trace the impressions produced by intense
was before. At last she said abruptly, thought; and are charmed with the music of its melodi
“I hope, Frank, you didn't forget my birthday.". ous'flow, and delighted with the very agreeable fancies we encounter at every page. The "Romaunt of Margret," just a fortnight since; I was in Wales, drank your health
"To be sure not, darling," was his rejoinder.“ It is the “ Poet's Vow,” and “ Lady May,” are examples of in the very best Château Margaux it ever was my luck her great command of language and power of depicting to taste. I suppose you are in a hurry for your birthemotion. It is to be regretted that conceits should so often mar the effect of many of her inost pleasing verses, till my portmanteau is unpacked. When a young lady
day present,” he added, laughing, " but you must wait and the constant recurrence of forced rhythms, made-up like you attains her majority, you know, one can't pay words, and accentuated particles, is objectionable. The poetry of Browning, the husband of this talented
(1) Continued from
homage to her with a mere trifle, such as one may carry I likely to satisfy the mind of Edith, who, in Mrs. Dalton's in one's pocket."
words, was “a woman most unlikely to forego her sex's “ Yes, -I am twenty-one," said Edith, sighing. privilege of being wooed.” The manner in which he
From the moment in which childhood leaves us, we evaded her question was, however, much less calculated begin to count our birthdays with sighs instead of to satisfy her than a simple statement of the fact. The smiles. They are involuntary pauses, forcing a conscious- severity of reserve bears witness to the strength of the ness of life, even upon the giddiest,--steps are they in feeling which it is intended to restrain: a cord may bind the ladder of time, and whether we consider them as a child, but you need chains of iron to fetter à man. leaving the past, or leading to the future, the thought is Absolute silence may be more expressive than the most equally sobering. But Satan's great aim is to paint our eloquent oration ;-but small talk seems to be expressive life's picture for us without any shadows; where he of nothing but indifference. The conclusion which Edith cannot eradicate them, he gilds them over; well know- carried away from this conversation was, that Everard ing that so he shall destroy the proportions, and confuse had alluded to his engagement in terms so light, so cool, the conception of the whole, -overpowering the bright and so easy, that her brother did not like to report them composure of the everlasting sky by the gaudy and ob- to her. trusive splendours of earth. And so the healthful It is singular how close the union, how strong the solemnities which God has provided for man are by affection between brother and sister may bo, without man forcibly transmuted into festivals ; so we celebrate their even approaching to a comprehension of each a baptism by a dinner-party, and build an hospital by a other's characters :- without the smallest admixture of ball!
that sympathy, which, as has been before said, is the Kinnaird looked earnestly at his sister, and then, with basis of friendship. One kind of sympathy, indeed, his customary straightforwardness, answered the question they must necessarily possess; they must be ready to which he believed to lurk in that sigh. “It is a month weep for each other's sorrows, to rejoice in each other's since I heard from Everard,” said he. Edith started happiness,—but this, perhaps, without any quick perat the name; the idea of the person whom we love is, as ception of the personal causes which deepen either the it were, compressed, and centred in the name, and so joy or the grief. The bond between them is one rather the heart shrinks from it, even when most familiar with of habit than of instinct, and differs herein most conthe thought which it implies; just as a single speck of spicuously from the love of parent and child, which is a intense light will force tears from the eyes which could part of the life of the heart, acting by secret unisons and gaze steadily at the same amount of brightness spread spiritual accordances which cannot be put to silence, save over a larger space.
by breaking the strings on which they vibrate. Not that "He was at Marseilles when he wrote,” continued this deeper union does not frequently exist in the case Frank, "and must have been detained, or he would have of the other relationship to which we are adverting, been home long ere this. I wrote you word I had heard giving birth to a holy and tranquil friendship, whose from him, from Marseilles."
sanctuary no light thought or evil doubt is suffered to “You did,” answered Edith, as she moved towards profane. We are rather calling attention to the fact, the door. “Good night, Frank,” added she, hurriedly that it is quite possible for a very strong, warm, and and with averted face, pausing, as if for a moment ere even tender affection to exist without it. It is quite she left the room, “You never tell me anything about possible to love a brother with your whole heart, and yet these letters. What does he say of me-of our engage to feel that he is as far from conjecturing what passes in ment?"
that heart as the stranger to whom you were introduced The words were almost inaudible, but, even so, it cost yesterday. Edith much to utter them. During the last three years Now, Frank Kinnaird's affection for Edith was preshe had regularly received from her brother notice of all cisely of this latter description. He was proud of her, Everard's proceedings, as reported in his own letters; and fond of her,-nay, he positively doated upon her: but not one word of herself, not one allusion to their yet if he had been asked to name any of the particulars engagement. For some time she attributed this to which individualized her character, and caused her to delicacy or thoughtlessness in Frank; then she tried to differ from other women, he would have answered by a break the oppressive silence by hints or allusions, but in most blank silence. His notions of women in general vain. She could scarcely have given any tangible form might have been worth a passing examination, if it were to her suppositions, but there could bo no doubt that not that he shared them in common with so many of his her vanity was piqued, and the fortnight which had sex: a heterogeneous compound they were, full of startelapsed since her twenty-first birthday, without bringing ling contradictions and pleasant inconsistencies. He had any tidings of Everard, had not helped to soothe it. At a strong theory that woman was a ministering angel; length she was resolved to ask the question ; and the combined with a more practical belief that she was a embarrassment immediately visible in her brother's face domestic animal, and a vague doubt whether she really made her heart stop suddenly in its beating, as if a hand had any more soul than a kitten. Intellect he conhad laid cold grasp upon it.
sidered decidedly disadvantageous to her ; yet it did not Oh,” replied he, with a little hesitation," I always appear that he sought the society, or enjoyed the convergive him full particulars concerning you; and as to the sation of those who were destitute of such a portion of it engagement, you know, he does not say much about that, as he was capable of appreciating. Self-dependence in because, you see, he takes it for granted ;-it is a thing a woman he vehemently detested; yet no one could understood-a matter of course.'
be more utterly bored by the practical results of the “Good night," repeated Edith, as, with a flushed face opposite quality, except in the case of the individuals and a step of unwonted stateliness, she left the apart- who, for the time, occupied his fancy and commanded ment.
his attentions. Intense, but not ungraceful vanity, 3 Frank Kinnaird's embarrassment was genuine and kind of shallow tenderness, abundant in tears, but unpreprofound. The fact was, that, during the whole course pared for sacrifices, a pretty alacrity in white lies and of their correspondence, Everard had never once men- innocent deceptions -- these were, according to him, tioned Edith's name. It is true that Kinnaird had marks of the sex too indisputable to require discusalways given abundant information concerning her with- ion; and there is scarcely any imaginable instance of out waiting to be questioned, and though puzzled by frivolity or falsehood which would not have elicited such unbroken silence on a subject so interesting, he had from him the appropriate comment, “What a thorough satisfied his own mind by the reflection that Everard woman!” Nevertheless, no one could more readily
an odd fellow, who never felt or acted exactly as recognise the merits of such particular instances as came other men did, and he must be allowed to go his own under his personal observation; no one more indigway." But he did not think these considerations at all nantly testify to disparities, moral or intellectual, between
wife and husband; no one more cordially pity the to give Mr. Thornton a German lesson, and shall not be former,--more carnestly condemn the latter, when the at leisure for at least an hour. If you have anything case demanded it. But his admiration for excellencies very particular to say, tell me now-quick-this instant, in women arose out of his natural love of whatever was for my pupil is waiting for me!" good or noble ; his leniency to their faults, out of the “Your pupil is, of course, a person of far greater conpoverty and meanness of his ideal :—what woman would sequence than your brother," said Frank, with that sour accept such charity? Nor let it be supposed that in this kind of playfulness in which the joke is only assumed any special censure on Frank Kinnaird is intended; for the privilege which it gives the speaker of saying like most other men, he had never taken the trouble to far ruder things than he could possibly say in plain combine his scattered opinions, so as to detect the earnest. unreality of some and the inconsistency of all. And “Oh, I see you are cross !" returned his sister; "how we suspect that if this operation could be performed on glad I am that I have got an engagement! Anything the opinions of most other men, the result would be a is pleasanter than being scolded. I hope by the time I theory not very unlike that which we have just described. am at your service you will be in a better humour;" and, And what, after all, does it signify? If the harp have with a curtsey of mock solemnity, she darted away into three octaves, the most pertinacious playing, for a life the library. Kinnaird stood still for a moment, feeling time, on three notes, has no power to reduce the compass most disproportionately angry, and then slowly followed of the instrument. True, the useless strings may grow her, and betaking himself to an easy chair and a newsuntunable, and return discord instead of harmony to paper, watched with no indulgent eyes the proceedings the careless touch; but there they are still, undestroyed, of the two students. A formidable array of grammars for good or for evil; there they are still, and the various and dictionaries lay on the table as a sort of challenge melody and the rich concord still sleep in them, ready to the whole world to disprove that they were going to to awake beneath the hand of a skilful player.
study; Halm's “Son of the Desert
was open before Thus much it has been necessary to say in order to them, and from this they read alternately, Édith occaexplain what followed upon Frank Kinnaird's arrival at sionally supplying her pupil (whose knowledge of the Selcombe Park, and to account for the view which he language seemed scarcely inferior to her own) with the took of Edith's conduct. He immediately perceived meaning of a word. that she was, to use the fashionable phrase, flirting, to "I wonder how that play would act," said Mrs. Dalton, no inconsiderable extent with three gentlemen at once. who was playing chaperone, as they closed the book. Jealous for his friend, whose faith it never once occurred " Exquisite as it is, and full of truth and pathos, the to him to doubt, and with whose fastidious delicacy he unity of interest is so unrelieved that it is scarcely was well acquainted, he became angry with Edith, and dramatic.” he showed his anger in the most injudicious manner Oh, that is the very peculiarity in which I delight !” possible. His sister was a spoilt child, wayward, high- exclaimed Edith ; "there is a kind of repose, even in spirited, and vain ; she had been breathing an air arti- passion when it is uninterrupted; episodes and contrasts ficially softened for three years, and it would have dojarso with one's feelings when they are really interested. required the most gradual tenderness to accustom her I cannot endure that perpetual recurrence of an underto a healthier temperature :-Frank took her out in an plot, or another set of characters, when the first concepeast wind at once, and then was astonished that she tion has been grand, and true, and simple. It is as caught cold. Though undisciplined in mind, she was if you were to paint every alternate figure in a frieze full of generous and noble feelings, and an affectionate by way of relieving the eye from the glare of white and judicious friend might have moulded her as he marble." pleased ; but the idea that she was doing wrong,—that “No," said Mr. Thornton,“ don't paint the figures, but her frivolous and useless life was a perpetual sin,--- that paint the background, if you please ; the white figures her constant and unintermitted intercourse with the of the Parthenon stand upon a ground of pure blue. In world,-even with the amiable world, was unconsciously the episodes and underplots which have disgusted you, lowering her principles and injuring her character, had the fault lies in the execution, not the idea, for it is never once occurred to her; and now, on a sudden, she only by contrast that unity becomes salient. Unity in found the brother whom she had always hitherto multiplicity' was the old Italian definition of beauty, ranked as one of her warmest worshippers, encountering and we shall not easily find a better. You can trace a her with a most unreasonable petulance, with an appa- silver thread in a crimson web, but make the whole rent resolution to disapprove all she did and dispute fabric crimson and the separate filaments are no longer all she said, with those broad rebukes and unsoftened to be discovered.” taunts which the freedom of family intercourse is some- “But is not the life that one lives background enough times supposed to sanction, but which sadly rub the to throw the conceptions of art into most bold relief ?" bloom from family affection. Was it wonderful that inquired Mrs. Dalton; "not blue, truly, but russet or she was exceedingly indignant, and felt herself ex. lead colour.” tremely ill-used ? Nay, was it unnatural that she “ There is truth in that remark," said Mr. Thornton; pertinaciously resolved to follow her own way? that and perhaps that is the reason why, when daily life she made an object of what had hitherto been only has attained the acmé of civilization, that is to say, of an amusement ? that she rather studied to exhibit the artificialness and corruption, art seems to assume a pleasure she took in the attentions of her admirers than second childhood, as if in despair at its own decrepitude. to withdraw from those attentions, and assume uncon- Vast and complex creations appear no longer possible; sciousness of them? Several days passed, and matters we have a new generation of lyrical poets, and we have seemed rather to get worse than to improve; there the lyrical spirit in all art, differing, however, from its Wis still no intelligence of Captain Everard; Edith con. carlier manifestation as the twilight of evening differs tinued to amuse herself and provoke her brother, and from that of morning; the one hurries into day, the the latter, growing more and more surly, resolved at other loiters into darkness. Simple forms, and short but last upon an open remonstrance.
lofty flights, are the true artist's only refuge from the “Edith,” said he, encountering his sister in the hall, wearisome varieties of reality as it exists now.' as he was seeking her for this purpose, “will you come As he spoke he was carelessly turning the leaves and walk with me in the garden? I have something to of the book, and, lighting upon Parthenia's song, he say to you."
handed it to Mrs. Dalton with a look of entreaty. “Sing Edith's rapid step was checked in an instant. “Have it in English,” said he. She complied, and the rich you letters ?" asked she hurriedly.
notes of the simple but passionate melody, rang through 'No, no ; but I particularly want to speak to you." the room, with a tone irresistibly saddening, though the “Out of the question !" cried she gaily, “I am going expression was rather wistful than melancholy.