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earth? *As happens to prematurely old port wine,' he says, 'I am of a bad color with very little body. And all this when he felt like Keats, that his mental powers were never stronger, and that with health he could double bis fame. That of itself would kill most men. The fretting and chafing of the eager spirit against the check of the flesh; the longing for strength to write, for strength to think, for strength to live; the leaving life when life was worth most, is the saddest thought a man of ability can own. No light, no hope—the words fall like clods on a coffin, each one ringing the knell of a thousand fancies, a thousand happy schemes. Yet Hood saw only the things which cheered. • There was the smell of the mould,' he writes again, but I remembered that it nourished the violets.'
Nor can you accuse him of levity in his latest hours. A pun was no proof of that. He knew the depth of feeling there was in his heart, but in his very melancholy he could not exist in gloom. So these sparks of wit, like rockets in a cave, light up for a second the darkness beyond, but only to leave on the mind a fuller sense of the blackness from which they rose. A jest was his life, and as this brings us to his powers of wit and humor, we may as well speak of them here.
To pun is one thing. To pun well is another and a far different gift. Now a man may be a wit, or a humorist, and not pun; but if he is wit and humorist together he cannot help it. Such was Hood; genial or satirical, his puns gave him many a strong point, and knowing, as he did, how to use them, they became of course his favorite weapons. Perhaps he never made a better combination of the articles than in Faithless Sally Brown,' where young Bencloses the ballad with his mournful fate :
His death, which happened in his berth,
At forty-odd befell,
And the Sexton tolled the bell.'
But his humorous vein always joins in with and helps them out, as witness • Miss Kilmansegg,' • The Monkey Martyr,' the • Tale of a Trumpet,' and Singing for the Million,' with many another equally worthy.
There is nothing forced, nothing strained, no striving for effect your best machinery works the quietest, and the ease of true genius never allows you to wonder how much labor this or that cost. You may think I use genius wrongfully here, but stop a minute. Soyer has the genius of cooking, Rarey of horse-taming, Blondin of rope
walking, and Paul Morphy of chess. Genius, to give a rough defini. tion, consists in the ability to do a hard thing in an easy way,
a generally restricting it to literature and the higher fields of imagination, call him a genius who, with ease, excels therein. It is essential that he should be no plodder. A • dig' may be at times a genius, but a genius can never be a • dig.' He must love his work, and have a perfect strength, not acquired, but rather self-possessed, with which to grapple it. And therefore I say that Hood has the genius of wit. It is all spontaneous—for no one can read, for example, the ode. To my Infant Son,' and believe it premeditated. No, you must admit here as everywhere, that in this, bis specialty, Hood stands supreme.
And then in pathos. What heart does not beat quicker as he tells of one more unfortunate gone to her death? What man but is moved to pity at the Song of the Shirt? Here, as ever, the simple pathos strikes deepest, and the love, the tenderness, the sublime compassion of Tom Hood, win him a place denied to many a more ambitious rhymer.
In wild and weird conceptions, too, he almost surpasses ·Monk' Lewis, or Festus’ Bailey. The Last Man,' and The Forge,' are enough to prove this were there no more that I could cite. There is a strange wealth of fancy which he possesses, which comes in at every turn, always adding to the beauty of the piece, but nearly as often astonishing the reader by its very quaintness. There is material for thought in every thing he wrote, though it is not so often expressed as hinted at. Ideas are brought out by delicate touches, accumulating till the connected whole appears in all its symmetry. In the • Demon Ship’ he steadily enhances the feeling, till at last the grand catastrophe, so different from what one could conceive, bursts suddenly on the mind. In this last art he is very successful, delaying the denouement till the latest instant, and never hinting at the final design.
I have spoken incidentally of his rhythmic abilities. A man may have all the poetic fancies imaginable, and yet, if he cannot express them, away they go into thin mist again. But Hood could express his meaning always-never lacking in clearness or point. The polished verse of The Schoolmaster,' and · The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies,' shows his power there; the easy swing of his ordinary poems show him to be at home there also ; wbile in Miss Kilmansegg,' the adaptation of sound to sense is wonderful. The old Latin line,
'Quadrupedante putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum,' rendered into English by the phrase,
'Shaking the thundering plain with the tramp of the galloping horse-hoofs,' VOL. XVVIII.
does not express more plainly the sound of the tearing gallop of a horse than does the series of verses descriptive of Miss Kilmansegg's terrible ride. Posts, trees, houses, go whirling by, and at the close you feel as much relief as if you had been there and had seen it all. This gift of rythm (what Dean Swift called “a knack at verse ') is displayed everywbere. Our Village,' doleful at the best, is rendered ludicrously so by the “needless Alexandrines' which tell the story. • Eugene Aram’has a touch of the old ballad in it, and as specimens of this last, Faithless Nelly Gray' and Ben Battle' will more than answer the demand.
He is happy, too, in words and expressions. "The Tale of a Trum: pet' is full of felicities of thought and style, and you cannot lay your finger on many of his poems in which this is not shown beyond all cavil. In fine, we may say with great truth, Quicquid tetigit, ornavit.'
Thomas Hood has left behind him a lasting fame. He has spoken to the English people in joy and sorrow. In their suffering he has felt his own ; in their mirth he too has been merry. The world was better that he lived in it. It has learned new lessons of pity from the over-driven writer who loved its poor so well, and in honest sadness it has dropped a tear to his memory. Wit and humor may pass away like autumn leaves ; pleasant fancy and grace of style be reckoned as things of naught, but for all that the Bridge of Sighs' shall hold for aye its place in England's heart.
S. W. D.
Academical Recollections. In view of the bellicose aspect of things in this state, and in other localities where secesh abound, I had drafted a company of pugnacious words, which, being suitably drilled, I imagined would afford some aid in putting an "effectual quietus ” upon this peace party, whose members, as nigh as we can learn from their threats, intend to obtain peace by killing everybody who dislikes their way of getting it. Judge, then, of my dismay when I learnt that the supply of warlike articles in the editorial market exceeded the demand. I betook myself to my
intellectual garret, and sought diligently for the wherewithal to manufacture a literary article, but after a thorough survey of my mental possessions, I reluctantly arrived at the same conclusion I often arrive at in surveying my material possessions; to wit, that I am in a state of deplorable destitution. In this sad condition I fell to turning the leaves of a "Lit” that lay within reach. Mechanically I muttered aloud the titles of various articles, and Echo muttered back “ Vacation Vagaries.” There was something fascinating in the sound, and fancy kept repeating it. As I mused, it became clear to me that I also once spent a notable vacation. If I could faithfully picture the scenes of those swift weeks, I felt sure I should please myself if I pleased nobody else, and perhaps, I might lead back the fancy of the reader to the happy days of his own academical career, which, I am sure, it is pleasant to remember. At any rate I should have a peaceable article. So I made another ascent into the garret aforesaid, and, after much rummage, I succeeded in finding some records of the time, dim and obliterated here and there ; but may be they can be restored and made presentable, and with the kind permission of the benevolent editor, I will undertake the task.
The winter term was numbered among the things that were, at the famous old academy of E— My friend X and myself were spruce young sprigs in that nursery of rising genius. Feeling somewhat at home there, and not feeling able to go home, we concluded to stay and study up during vacation. Through the kind offices of a friend we procured most excellent lodgings in a quiet part of the town, which lodgings the excellent superintendent of our club house was kind enough to pay for.
The first incident I remember, after getting established in our new domicil, was the advent of a man with a bill not an ornithological bill, dear reader, but a wood bill, and a very hard one too. Contrary to my fears, he presented his bill to X, who very gravely assured him that it was all right, and returning it politely, bowed him out. As the man gained the street, I remarked that he regarded his bill with a peculiarly fond and admiring look, through one eye half shut-such as a father might bestow upon a small son, who is expected to become a man in the course of time. Then X and I became studious—and strange as it may seem, we made considerable advance during that vacation, both in classical acquirements and in social requirements. Chum was a good-looking fellow, and always in demand, and owing to the scarcity of beaux, occasioned by the absence of a great part of the students, I myself had more calls upon my gallantry than a man
of my inconsiderable personal attractions could expect. The day we devoted to the muses, and the night to pbilosophical investigations. Our opportunities in this latter direction embraced an extensive range of subjects, and I need not say that we cordially embraced our opportunities. With our zeal in the march of truth, we mingled a laudable spirit of benevolence, and contrived to make ourselves generally useful. As a specimen of our praiseworthy endeavors, permit me to narrate our labors of a single evening.
Reluctantly closing the pages of Homer the divine, (I will add, for the sake of clearness, that this Homer was an ancient Greek, not a modern divine,) we sallied forth and soon found ourselves by the teatable of Mrs. Easy. For the benefit of genealogists, I would remark that it is highly probable that this family is remotely connected with the family of Midshipman Easy, who became so famous in the royal navy. At Mrs. Easy's we found a pleasant little party, with whom the evening passed very agreeably. In looking back upon that evening it always seems as though it passed a hundred years ago. The house was one of those old residences which were built in the highest style of the time, by the gentry of the last century. The ceiling of the parlor was so low that a tall man might drive his head through it if he rose erect in haste. I suppose this may account in part for the dignified deliberateness which characterizes gentlemen of the old regime. Around the doors, windows, and mantel, there was an abundance of small mouldings and some scroll work, once showing a polishished surface of dark wood, but now a coat of modern white paint had blotted out its lights and shadows. But the furniture was old and quaint, the dames elegant and stately, with the manners of olden time, and an ancient piano, rising nearly to the ceiling, completed the illusion. As a melody of our forefathers floated out from its curious recesses, we all seemed set back into the days of Georgius Secundus. Regretfully taking our leave of antiquity, we stepped out into the moonshiny streets of the present.
A Young Ladies' Sewing Circle was in session in another part of the town, and fearing they might be in want of an indispensable article at such gatherings, we bent our steps thitherward. The result justified our proceeding. We found thirty young ladies assembled, but the masculine portion of the assembly consisted of only one student, one married man, two small boys, and a baby. We felt as I imagine the seven loaves and a few small fishes must have felt when they found themselves about to be devoured by the five thousand. We humbly hoped that we might be of some benefit, although the age