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facility which interests, while we regret its indulgence, feeling how much more with the same materials study and earnestness would have effected. The lyrical pieces, with two or three marked exceptions, are the least successful ; defects of rhythm, and other inaccuracies of versification, are more readily noticed by the ear in this kind of composition; and the deceptive rhyme, which is only one to the eye, is more objectionable where the effect is to depend upon the nicest observance of art, and carelessness cannot be afforded. In the pieces of a more descriptive character, there is frequently remarkable liveliness, distinctness, and force-pictures rapid and bold, vigorous in outline, and glow. ingly coloured—with a vein of reflective or passionate feeling which rarely fails to awaken a response. Among the few sonnets, though all are not constructed on the strictest principle, as perfect satisfaction with this poetical dainty requires that each should be, are several possessing an impressive and elevated power, breathing fine thought in solemn music. They end the volume worthily; one we are tempted to copy :
The panting breath and hurrying steps of life,
The sights, the sounds, the struggle and the strife
From this quick gasping life, were to be blest." This is no minced measure; it is bold, nervous writing, shewing, as in the passage marked, how the Shaksperian studies have enriched and directed the mind, and suggesting, as several other pieces do, as well by the tone and turn of thought, as by a quaintness of manner, recollections of some of the best of our elder writers. Let us cite, as an example, the pleasant song, “ Pass thy hand through my hair, love;" it recals agreeably Carew or Withers. We have enjoyed also a touch or two of rich humour, as in a fragment written when the thermometer stood at 98° in the shade! As some of the lyrical pieces are those that moved us least, we must select from them a little poem of a more perfect kind, touching in its sentiment, and graceful in its flow :
Fill we one brimming cup-it is the last !
Breathe o'er this pledge, the memory of the past.'
Smiles on the gloomy path we tread so fast ;
Lives one sweet drop--the memory of the past.
Through their warm tears, their loveliest and their last,
Now farewell all, save memory of the past.” Had the volume contained nothing but the stanzas “ On a Musical Box," it should be affectionately and admiringly welcomed by all lovers of ardent feeling, pleasant fancy, and quaint harmony. And the sonnet which precedes this-what a striking picture it contains of the fearful and discordant anomalies of life, ending with a fine line
“So rush they down to the eternal night.”
We re-open the lately read pages of Miss Barrett, with a feeling of admiration and respect too strong to be entrusted to such feeble and inadequate expressions of it as we could here employ. If these volumes do not place her .(about which there may be some argument) in the highest class of our poets, most assuredly they do place her in the first rank of fine intellectual natures; of those who, now and then, in a great age, by their mental supremacy and universal sympathies, attain a station where admiration is not unmingled with reverence. If some of this poetry be not of the highest, it is so nearly allied to it, that the keenest sense of the exquisite essence in which the highest poetry consists, is requisite to detect and make palpable the distinction.
We merely profess to mention the appearance of this collection, and the feelings it awakens: to give the “why and because," would demand a long dissertation; the very subjects forbid us to touch lightly. The great poem, the “ Drama of Exile, is the exile from Paradise, depicted in a form and with a power suited to the subject, grand and awful as it is. To discuss it adequately in a few sentences, is as impossible as the imaginative beauty and illustrative knowledge revealed in it is undoubted. The attempt to treat it so, remembering the sacredness of all the associations connected with it, would be “ to do it wrong.” We can simply state, that, in something of the Greek tragic shape, this lofty drama presents the “new and strange experience of the fallen humanity," as it went forth into the wilderness ; and the subject is treated, in the author's words, “ with a peculiar reference to Eve's allotted grief, which, considering that self-sacrifice belonged to her womanhood, and the consciousness of originating the Fall to her offence, appeared to me imperfectly apprehended hitherto, and more expressible by a woman than a man." There was room, at least, it is remarked," for lyrical emotion in those first steps into the wilderness." Truly; and the aim has been accomplished with such a truthfulness of power, working to its purpose, that every modest doubt, which so long held back the poem,
(as we here learn,) must for ever be banished from the author's mind. The discourse of the Fallen Pair, under the reproaches of the spirits of the earth, animate and inanimate, are equally grand and pathetic. They excite tears, and they thrill us with awe, as the mournful, the compassionate, or the terrible predominates. Page after page would supply its proof; but all imperfectly, as this must necessarily do: it is Eve speaking :
For was I not
Speaking of joy ?" The minor poems in the collection are only so in form and subject; few of them are without some weight of object, or touch of beauty. All that we can complain of is, that too many words are sometimes used-large words, not so full of meaning as of sound—that there is too much of what is called
eloquence" in the work. The introductory pages are full of interest; all is womanly, delicate, and unaffected.
REVELATIONS OF LONDON.
BY THE EDITOR.
TIE ELIXIR OF LONG LIFE.
THE sixteenth century drew to a close. It was the last day of the last year, and two hours only were wanting to the birth of another year and of another century.
The night was solemn and beautiful. Myriads of stars paved the deep vault of heaven; the crescent moon hung like a silver lamp in the midst of them; a stream of rosy and quivering light issuing from the north traversed the sky, like the tail of some stupendous comet; while from its point of effluence broke forth, ever and anon, coruscations rivalling in splendour and variety of hue, the most brilliant discharge of fireworks.
A sharp frost prevailed; but the atmosphere was clear and dry, and neither wind nor snow aggravated the wholesome rigour of the season. The water lay in thick congealed masses around the conduits and wells, and the buckets were frozen on their stands. The thoroughfares were sheeted with ice, and dangerous to horsemen and vehicles; but the footways were firm and pleasant to the tread.
Here and there a fire was lighted in the streets, round which ragged urchins and mendicants were collected, roasting fragments of meat stuck upon iron prongs; or quaffing deep draughts of metheglin and ale, out of leathern cups. Crowds were collected in the open places, watching the wonders in the heavens, and drawing auguries from them, chiefly sinister, for most of the beholders thought the signs portended the speedy death of the queen, and the advent of a new monarch from the north-a safe
-a and easy interpretation, considering the advanced age and declining health of the illustrious Elizabeth, together with the known appointment of her successor, James of Scotland.
Notwithstanding the early habits of the times, few persons had retired to rest, an universal wish prevailing among the citizens to see the new year in, and welcome the century accompanying it. Lights glimmered in most windows, revealing the holly-sprigs and laurel-leaves stuck thickly in their diamond panes; while, whenever a door was opened, a ruddy
gleam burst across the street; and a glance inside the dwelling shewed its inmates either gathered round the glowing hearth, occupied in mirthful sports--fox-i'th-hole, blind-man's-buff, or shoe-the-mare-or seated at the ample board groaning with Christmas cheer.
Music and singing were heard at every corner, and bands of comely damsels, escorted by their sweethearts, went from house to house, bearing huge brown bowls dressed with ribbons and rosemary, and filled with a drink called “ lamb's-wool,” composed of sturdy ale, sweetened with sugar, spiced with nutmeg, and having toasts, and burnt crabs floating within it,-a draught from which seldom brought its pretty bearers less than a groat, and occasionally a more valuable coin.
Such was the vigil of the year Sixteen Hundred.
On this night, and at the tenth hour, a man of striking and venerable appearance was seen to emerge upon a small wooden balcony, projecting from a bay-window near the top of a picturesque structure situated at the southern extremity of London Bridge. The old man's beard and hair were as white as snow
w—the former descending almost to his girdle—so were the thick overhanging brows that shaded his still piercing eyes. His forehead was high, bald, and ploughed by innumerable wrinkles. His countenance, despite its death-like paleness, had a noble and majestic cast, and his figure, though worn to the bone by a life of the severest study, and bent by the weight of years, must bave been once lofty and commanding.
His dress consisted of a doublet and hose of sad-coloured cloth, over which he wore a loose gown of black silk. His head was covered by a square black cap, from beneath which his silver locks strayed over his shoulders.
This venerable personage was known by the name of Doctor Lamb, and being devoted to alchemical and philosophical pursuits, was esteemed by the vulgar as little better than a wizard. Strange tales were reported and believed of him. Amongst others, it was said he possessed a familiar, because he chanced to employ a deformed, crack-brained dwarf, who assisted him in his operations, and whom he appropriately enough styled Flapdragon.
The alchemist's gaze was fixed intently upon the heavens, and he seemed to be noting the position of the moon with reference to some particular star.
After remaining in this posture for a few minutes, the doctor was about to retire, when a loud crash arrested him, and he turned to see whence it proceeded.
Immediately before him stood the Southwark gateway-a square stone building, with a round, embattled turret at each corner, and a flat, leaden roof, planted with a forest of poles, fifteen or sixteen feet high, garnished with human heads. To his surprise, the doctor perceived that two of these poles had just been pulled down by a tall man, who was in the act of stripping them of their grisly burthens.
Having accomplished his object, the mysterious plunderer thrust his spoil into a leathern bag with which he was provided, tied its mouth, and was about to take his departure by means of a rope-ladder attached to the battlements, when his retreat was suddenly cut off by the gatekeeper, armed with a halberd, and bearing a lantern, who issued from a door opening upon the leads.
The baffled marauder looked round, and remarking the open window at which Doctor Lamb was stationed, hurled the sack and its contents through it. He then tried to gain the ladder, but was intercepted by the gatekeeper, who dealt him a severe blow on the head with his halberd. The plunderer uttered a loud cry, and attempted to draw his sword; but before he could do so, he received a thrust in the side from his opponent. He then fell, and the gatekeeper would have repeated the blow, if the doctor had not called to him to desist.
“ Do not kill him, good Baldred,” he cried. “The attempt may not be so criminal as it appears. Doubtless, the mutilated remains, which the poor wretch has attempted to carry off, are those of his kindred, and horror at their exposure must have led him to commit the offence.”
“ It may be, doctor,” replied Baldred ; " and if so, I shall be sorry to have hurt him. But I am responsible for the safe custody of these heads, and it is as much as my own is worth to permit their removal." “ I know it,” replied Doctor Lamb; " and you are fully jus
, tified in what you have done. It may throw some light upon the matter, to know whose miserable relics have been disturbed.”
“They were the heads of two rank papists,” replied Baldred, “ who were decapitated on Tower Hill, on Saint Nicholas' day, three weeks ago, for conspiring against the queen.”
“ But their names ?" demanded the doctor. “ How were they styled ?"
They were father and son,” replied Baldred;—“Sir Simon Darcy and Master Reginald Darcy. Perchance they were known to your worship?"
“ Too well—too well !" replied Doctor Lamb, in a voice of anguish, that startled his hearer. “They were near kinsmen of mine own. What is he like who has made this strange attempt ?"
“ Of a verity, a fair youth,” replied Baldred, holding down the lantern. “Heaven grant I have not wounded him to the death ! No, his heart still beats. Ha! here are his tablets,” he added, taking a small book from his doublet; "these may give the information you seek. You were right in your conjecture, doctor. The name herein inscribed is the same as that borne by the others-Auriol Darcy."