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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48


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Ladies and Gentlemen,—

Deeply convinced as I am, from experience and reflection, of the importance of the encouragement of intellectual pursuits and the cultivation of the liberal arts, for the promotion of individual happiness, of social welfare, and of public virtue,—it gives me much satisfaction, when the avocations of my official position afford me leisure and opportunity to meet my fellow-colonists on occasions like the present, and contribute my mite towards their intellectual re-creation.

I have had special pleasure in acceding to the request that I should address you this evening, inasmuch as your attendance would enable me, indirectly, to assist in carrying out an object worthy in itself,—of some interest to a large portion of this community,—and specially interesting to my reverend and much esteemed friend who sits near me.

I doubt not you will pardon me if I do not so deeply enter into the subject I have chosen as I might have done with more leisure for preparation; and if I do not treat it very philosophically or artistically, but content myself with giving you some indication of its extent and interest, and offering you some suggestions respecting the influence which the liberal arts exercise upon the happiness of mankind, and of the manner in which the cultivation of a taste for them increases and multiplies our sources of enjoyment.

There is an old saying, quoted by the eloquent Jeremy Taylor in his greatest work, that to enquire why the beautiful is admired and loved is to ask a blind man's question. It is a necessary result of the constitution of man. To derive pleasure from the contemplation of beauty, both in the animate and in the inanimate creation, is natural to all men; but the degree and the quality of the pleasure, and the extent of the power of enjoyment, depend upon the character, gifts, education, acquirements, and habits of the individual.

But beside this natural beauty, almost all men are sensible of an internal craving after something beyond the mere facts and realities of life which surround them—of a certain ad- page 6 miration and love for 'The beautiful and true and pure,'—apart from any express definite realization of them to the senses; for, prominent among the faculties with which man's complex being has been endowed by a munificent Creator, is that faculty of Imagination, whereby things before unknown are called into existence, and combinations of qualities properties and ideas, not realised in the world of fact, are produced or received into the mind,—appreciated and enjoyed. Each faculty of our nature craves for exercise, for nourishment, for development. The soul, says a distinguished Art-writer, "needs a certain amount of intellectual enjoyment to give it strength for the daily struggles in which it is involved;" and of its several faculties, Imagination is not the least clamorous for its share of gratification.

To create ideal beauty, more pure, more perfect, and more true than any which Nature herself can exhibit—inasmuch as it is the result of the abstraction and recombination of qualities, ideas, and facts, essential and incidental, which are nowhere met in perfect combination in any individual products of nature,—to feel, to understand, to admire and love such creatures, are pleasures as pure and sweet, as intense and satisfying, as the intellectual portion of man's nature can enjoy.

Now Art is the process, method, or system of rules by which complex things, material or intellectual, are brought into existence. The useful and mechanical arts are those which provide for the supply and gratification of the physical or bodily wants of man, while the liberal, polite, or fine arts are those which minister to his intellect and imagination. It is with the latter that we have to deal at present; and when we speak of the influences of Art, we allude to the influences created by the cultivation of those liberal arts themselves, or by their products.

Now it will be found, on reflection, that the ultimate principles' applicable to all those arts—to poetry, music, painting, and sculpture, and to architecture, as far as it partakes of the character of the liberal arts, are essentially the same,—that beauty and sublimity, truth and purity, harmony and fitness, unity and completeness, are the characteristics of all their worthy products, and the sources of the admiration, love, and pleasure which they generate and develope in the cultivated mind.

Taste, is the faculty by which we appreciate, in a discriminating manner, (figuratively taste), the diversely flavored page 7 products of the imagination, and enjoy (or, as one may say figuratively, relish) them.

Criticism is the science by means of which we learn thus to discriminate, and to test the value of our discrimination, and to give an account to ourselves and others of the fact, the nature, the degree, and the cause of our enjoyment; and by the cultivation of which we educate our minds to a higher power of tasting and enjoying the works of art, and, it may be, to the facility for producing such ourselves.

It is to the cultivation of this taste that I would fain attract those who have hitherto neglected it, especially among the younger members of the Community, and those who have leisure time at their disposal; and as an inducement I would strive to make them feel sure that the results will be pleasant, permanent, and profitable.

Wholesome and agreeable occupation for time which would otherwise hang heavy upon them,—and whose vacancy might tempt them to vicious or imprudent indulgences,—giving fresh zest and interest to life;—producing an increase of modest self respect, with an accompanying abatement of vulgar self sufficiency; inducing gentleness of tone and demeanour towards others; an enlargement of social sympathies, a consciousness of personal resources and of a power to communicate pleasure, (pleasure too, not of a momentary and passing kind, but lasting, easily recalled, germinal and reproductive);—such are some of the most obvious gains to be derived from a cultivation of taste for the liberal arts.

And let not men who are busy and worn with the necessary work of life—absorbed in its anxieties, its hopes, and ambitions, or depressed by its disappointments and sorrows,—rashly deem that they can have no interest in the works of Art or Imagination, and can derive no profit or pleasure from them. Those who are most earnest in the business of life, and those whose spirits are most worn with care, are the very persons to derive the largest amount of refreshment and consolation from this source. Let them but once acquire a wholesome taste, regulated by right principles of criticism, for true and worthy Art, and they will soon find themselves possessed of treasures of which neither "age, ache, penury, nor imprisonment" can deprive them;—they will discover solaces for their griefs, opiates for their pains, distraction from their cares,—not indeed so satisfying and complete as in the resources of religion and in works of charity, but still page 8 congenial with their higher nature, full of pleasantness and delight, various and copious, and easy of access.

No doubt, over-indulgence in the pleasures of Art may tend to diminish men's working energy, and to induce a certain amount of effeminacy of character; but unless it be carried almost to the morbid extent to which we have heard of the Stage-struck Apprentice being reduced, and seriously interfere with the business of life, there is not much to be feared from it. In a Society like this, whose Art resources are necessarily limited, it is unnecessary to give any warning against such excess. Should it be my duty to return among you in my official capacity, it will give me great pleasure if I find that the Inhabitants have succeeded in establishing some Literary Institute—so important in the early days of a Settlement;—and I shall be happy if I can offer any assistance to such an Establishment.

In a general and necessarily discursive address like the present, I feel that it would be out of place to enter into any definitions, or to enounce any rules of Art, or maxims of taste, or canons of criticism: or to trace out minutely the boundaries or the alliances of the fine arts. I must be content, on this occasion, to suggest (I fear but vaguely and feebly) the importance and comprehensiveness of the subject,—to invite you to the rich banquet which awaits all who desire and prepare themselves to visit the great Temples of Art; and, by bringing before you a few specimens of artistic productions, to illustrate that well-known line of the poet Keats,—

"A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Foe Ever."

In acting as a Cicerone to-night, I cannot display to your eyes any of the glorious creations of the painter's or the sculptor's art; I cannot shew you the Goddess that loves in stone (the Venus of Medicis), or the Lord of the unerring bow (the Apollo Belvedere), which ancient Greece has bequeathed to be the delight and despair of modern ages. I cannot point out to you the glories of form, colour, and composition of any work of Michael Angelo or Raphael, of Titian or Guido, of Rubens or Turner. Nor can I indulge your ears with melody or harmony divine, of voice or instrument; but I can bring before you—although I fear I shall be but a poor exhibitor—some gems of the poetic art fit to illustrate my theme, and likely to be far more welcome to your taste than any crude lucubrations of my own. And, indeed, Poetry and Art are in one sense synonymous. For the Poet is—as page 9 the word etymologically implies—the "Maker." Words, in-articulate sounds, form, and colour may clothe the "Maker's" thoughts, and turn them to poetry, music, sculpture, and pictures; but in the conception lies the poetical essence of the work,—the beauty and truthfulness of the ideas, the fitness and harmony and delight-giving novelty of their combinations, revealing the essential art;—while the skill of the poet, musician, sculptor, or painter, gives to them the characteristics of his special art. To-night I must confine myself to the poetry of articulate and rhythmical language—that which is, in the narrower and more common sense, called Poetry.

If, in some of the fine arts, England has not yet risen so high as other nations of the world,—our national tastes, our climate and customs, our historical associations and the particular development of the character of our mixed races, and other circumstantial incidents, having tended to restrain us as a people—till quite modern times—from any very general cultivation of painting, sculpture, and music—(in which, nevertheless, we may still be destined to attain great excellence),—there is little doubt that to our body of poets we may look with pride and satisfaction, even when we compare them with those of any other Nation, ancient or modern.

The Italians may well boast of their grand, solemn, majestic, profound, sublime, pure, and mysterious Dante; their melodious, love-stricken, graceful Petrarch; the heroic Tasso; the fanciful Ariosto, and other honored names. The French may be proud of their witty, caustic, brilliant Molière; their critical and epigrammatical Boileau; the well balanced graces and declamations of their Corneilles and Racines; their sentimental Lamartine; and their truly national Lyrist, Beranger. The Germans may with reason challenge attention to the bright ornaments of their comparatively modern literature in Schiller, Goethe, Uhland, and Körner. The Spaniards may vaunt the copiousness, the invention, and the grandeur of their Calderon, the brilliant exhaustlessness of their teeming Lope de Vega. The Portuguese may proudly point to their warrior bard, Camoens. Indeed we may duly esteem the lyric skill, the critical acumen, and the poetical science of the Roman Horace; the elegant and graceful narrative or the Arcadian beauty and simplicity of Virgil; the fanciful picturesqueness and glowing sweetness of Ovid and Catullus; the satiric vigour of Juvenal, and the humour of Terence. Nay, we may look to those Giants of the still older time—to Homer, page 10 the blind old Minstrel, who sang the Gods, the Heroes, and the men of Greece, the great mother of Art,—to the lyric, dramatic, and idyllic poets of that land of song.

And we need feel no blush of shame,—no need of apologies,—no doubt as to the sufficiency of our ground for national self-gratulation, when we compare with any or all of them; the Poets of England.

What thick-coming memories do those words recall! What suggestions of phrases, expressions, thoughts, ideas, feelings, characters, do they not evoke—divers beyond counting, and which have become, as it were, part of our-selves.

Think of Chaucer, Sydney, Spencer; Cowley, Dryden, Milton; Prior, Pope, Goldsmith; Cowper, Crabbe, Rogers; Scott, Campbell, Burns; Wilson, Hogg, Moore; Shelley, Byron, Keats; Southey, Wordsworth, Coleridge; our living illustrious Laureate—all, great and true Artists,—besides the numerous clusters of no inconsiderable lesser lights grouped around them;—and, last of all, but above all, beyond all, paling the comparatively ineffectual fires of all the rest—that great Northern Luminary, specially and belovedly our own, yet not the less catholically the world's and mankind's, immortal Shakespeare; of whom it has been said with such comprehensive truth,—

Each scene of many coloured life he drew;
Exhausted worlds;—and then imagined new.

O! did not time fail me, how gladly would I make an effort to induce any of you who have hitherto been strangers to the great delights which that one consummate Artist has provided for all generations, to come and partake of his munificent gifts. Here can you find fields of gold inexhaustible—treasures which imply neither labour nor jealousy nor strife in the getting; which do not satiate, and do not waste in the enjoyment. When foreign nations present to us the spectacle of their most learned and esteemed men dedicating an unstinted labour to the study and elucidation of the marvellously pregnant works of our great Poet; and, at the same time we know that every man of common understanding who can read English, may, with the slightest care and attention, procure delight and knowledge and refinement from this source,—it seems deplorable that any one should, from want of counsel and suggestion, rest contented in the voluntary deprivation of so much happiness.

page 11

But when I approach dear Shakespeare's honoured pages, and think to cull from them some choice flowers of noble eloquence or some sweet posy fresh from Fairy land; or to select some revelations of human passion, some expositions of the subtle workings' of the human heart, some visions of glory or beauty which this Artist, with all the profundity of the most sagacious philosophy and all the luxurious copiousness of boundless Imagination and of unconscious Art, presents to the view;—embarrassed with the wealth of choice, dazzled by the galaxy of various beauties, I wander and wander on—my judgment hesitating and vacillating—and I am constrained to leave the selection to the arbitrament of chance. To appreciate properly such a poet as Shakespeare, the readings should be consecutive and complete and not detached from their bearing. But such readings I cannot give to you.

I have said that unity and completeness, beauty and truth, harmony and fitness, are characteristics of true Art. See now with what apparent effortlessness a great Artist creates a work that is to live as long as his race. The painter with a few touches of his brush can make something of a picture. Hear how with a few simple words, a Poet can create a character and a biography, illustrative of human passion, of human honour and dignity, and of human suffering! Hear the talc of a maiden love, the victim of secresy, offered up on the altar of Modesty—a life of trial, suffering, and sacrifice,—recorded and embalmed in a few short lines:—

Duke. And what's her history?
Viola. A blank, my lord: She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i'the bud,
Feed on her damask cheek: she pin'd in thought;
And, with a green and yellow melancholy,
She sat like patience on a monument
Smiling at grief.

Twelfth Night: Act II., Scene 4.

No wonder that such passages become "familiar as Household words." One of the most unerring evidences of the appreciation of poetical genius by a people, is when its common language adopts proverbially a poet's words. But the familiarity may lead to contempt, unless the mind be applied critically to the appreciation of the expressions. Had I time, I could suggest to you various reflections arising out of a careful perusal of the passage I have cited; but I must not linger by the way.

I would now call your attention to the consideration that the poetical artist does not disdain the regions of fact, but page 12 that he has skill and power to illustrate real life and history, and the characteristics of actual individuals—spreading a halo of glory or interest around them, and making a poetic representation, poetically true, and not inconsistent with historical truth, but still a creation of the poet's mind. Look at the characters of King John, Richard the Third, Julius Cæsar, Coriolanus, and many others which our Shakespeare has made far more familiar and intelligible to the great bulk of the people than History has done. In this walk too, the modern Sir Walter Scott, not least a poet in his prose works, has been pre-eminently successful.

But for illustrations, let me take a passage or two from Henry the Eighth, illustrative of the character and fall of the princely, proud, ambitious Wolsey.

The Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk have just announced to the Cardinal his degradation by his Sovereign, and declared the forfeiture of his vast possessions:—

Wolsey. So farewell to the little good you bear me.
Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness!
This is the state of man; To-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hope, to-morrow blossoms.
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him:
The third day, comes a frost, a killing frost;
And,—when he thinks, good easy man! full surely
His greatness is a-ripening,—nips his root,
And then he falls, as I do. I have ventur'd
Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
This many summers in a sea of glory;
But far beyond my depth: my high-blown pride
At length broke under me; and now has left me,
Weary, and old with service, to the mercy
Of a rude stream, that must for ever hide me.
Vain pomp, and glory of this world, I hate ye;
I feel my heart new opened: O, how wretched
Is that poor man, that hangs on Princes' favours!
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
More pangs and fears than wars or women have;
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.

Wolsey's faithful servant Cromwell now comes in, and announces the open avowal of the King's marriage with Anne Bullen, and the preparations for her coronation. "Wolsey says—

* * * * * * * *
There was the weight that pulled me down. O Cromwell,
The king has gone beyond me; all my glories
In that one woman I have lost tor ever:
No sun shall ever usher forth mine honours,
Or gild again the noble troops that waited
Upon my smiles. Go, get thee from me, Cromwell;
I am a poor fallen man, unworthy now
To be thy lord and master: Seek the king;
That sun, I pray, may never set! I have told him
What, and how true thou art: he will advance thee;
page 13 Some little memory of me will stir him,
(I know his noble nature.) not to let
Thy hopeful service perish too: Good Cromwell,
Neglect him not; make use now, and provide
For thine own future safety.
Cromwell. O my lord.
Must I then leave you? must I needs forego
So good, so noble, and so true a master?
Bear witness, all that have not hearts of iron,
With what a sorrow Cromwell leaves his lord.—
The king shall have my service; but my prayers
For ever, and for ever, shall be yours.
Wol Cromwell! I did not think to shed a tear
In all my miseries; but thou hast fore'd me
Out of thy honest truth to play the woman.
Let's dry our eyes: and thus far hear me, Cromwell;
And,—when I am forgotten, as I shall be,
And sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention
Of me more must be heard of,—say, I taught thee;
Say, Wolsey,—that once trod the ways of glory,
And sounded all the depths and shoals of honour,—
Found thee a way, out of his wreck, to rise in;
A sure and safe one, though thy master miss'd it.
Mark but my fall, and that that ruined me.
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition;
By that sin fell the angels; how can man then.
The image of his Maker, hope to win by't?
Love thyself last: cherish those hearts that hate thee;
Corruption wins not more than honesty.
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
To silence envious tongues. Be just, and fear not:
Let all the ends, thou aim'st at, be thy country's
Thy God's, and truth's; then if thou fall'st, O Cromwell.
Thou fall'st a blessed martyr. Serve the king;
And Pr'ythee, lead me in:
There take an inventory of all I have,
To the last penny; 'tis the king's: my robe,
And my integrity to heaven, is all
I dare now call mine own. O Cromwell, Cromwell,
Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I serv'd my king, he would not in mine ago
Have left me naked to mine enemies.
Crom. Good sir, have patience.
Wol. So I hare. Farewell
The hopes of court! my hopes in heaven do dwell.

I would next call your attention to creations of art illustrative of external nature, whether animate or inanimate.

There is not a flower in the field, a bird of the air, a stream that flows, a cloud that fleets along, but is suggestive to the true poet of new thoughts and ideas, new combinations, resemblances, and illustrations, which he turns into new creatures of the imagination, destined to he imperishable while the World shall last. Think for a moment of the countless creations of fancy and imagination which have, in almost all ages, countries, and languages, illustrated one little flower—the Rose, the Queen of the garden. What hours on hours, days and weeks of delight might a cultivated Taste enjoy in the collation, comparison, and admiration, of the tributes paid to the Rose! Then the Lily: consider the dignity with which it has been invested since Our Lord himself chose it to illustrate the munificent providence of the Creator of all things. I shall read you a few stanzas illustra- page 14 tive of flowers, of a true poet.—whose words steal upon the sense like the odour of sweet flowers:—

The Sensitive Plant.
A Sensitive Plant in a garden grew.
And the young winds fed it with silver dew,
And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light.
And closed them beneath the kisses of night.

And the spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

But none ever trembled and panted with bliss
In the garden, the field, or the wilderness,
Like a Doe in the noon-tide with love's sweet want,
As the companionless Sensitive Plant.

The snowdrop, and then the violet,
Arose from the ground with warm rain wet,
And their breath was mixed with sweet odour, sent
Prom the turf, like the voice and the instrument.

Then the pied wind-flowers and the tulip tall,
And Narcissi, the fairest among them all.
Who gaze on their eyes in the stream's recess,
Till they die of their own dear loveliness.

And the Naiad-like lily of the vale,
Whom youth makes so fair and passion so pale,
That the light of its tremulous bells is seen
Through their pavilions of tender green;

And the hyacinth purple, and white, and blue,
Which flung from its bells a sweet peal anew
Of music so delicate, soft, and intense,
It was felt like an odour within the sense;

And the rose like a nymph to the bath addrest,
Which unveiled the depth of her glowing breast.
Till, fold after fold, to the fainting air
The soul of her beauty and love lay bare;

And the wand-like lily, which lifted up,
As a Mænad, its moonlight-coloured cup,
Till the fiery star, which is its eye.
Gazed through the clear dew on the tender sky;

And the jessamine faint, and the sweet tuberose,
The sweetest flower for scent that blows;
And all rare blossoms from every clime
Grew in that garden in perfect prime.

* * * * * * *

I cannot refrain from yielding to the temptation of shewing you how the same poet deals with external animated nature, in strains full of such true poetic fancy and sustained beauty that I should never tire repeating them. I read to you his "Ode to a Skylark":—

Hail to thee, blythe spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art

page 15

Higher Still and higher,
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
O'er which clouds are brightening,
Thou dost float and run;
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of heaven,
In the broad day-light
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight.

Keen as are the arrows
Of that, silver sphere,
Whose intense lamp narrows
In the white dawn clear,
Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there.

All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud,
As, when night is bare,
From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflowed.

What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From Rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see,
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.

Like a poet hidden
In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden.
Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not:

Like a high-born maiden
In a palace tower,
Soothing her love-laden
Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:

Like a glow worm golden
In a dell of dew,
Scattering unbeholden
Its aerial hue
Among the flowers and grass which screen it from the view:

Like a rose embowered
In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflowered,
Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-winged thieves,

Sound of vernal showers
On that twinkling grass,
Rain-awakened flowers,
All that ever was
Joyous and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass.

Teach us, sprite or bird,
What sweet thoughts are thine:
I have never heard
Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine,

Chorus hymeneal,
Or triumphal chaunt,
page 16 Matched with thine would be all
Hut an empty vaunt—
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.

What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy strain?
What fields, or wave, or mountains?
What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?

With thy clear keen joyance
Languor cannot be:
Shadow of annoyance
Never came near thee:
Thou lovest; but ne'er knew'st love's sad satiety.

Waking or asleep,
Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep
Than we mortals dream,
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?

We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

Yet, if we could scorn
Hate, and pride, and fear;
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.

Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found.
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!

Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,—
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow,
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

Aye, poor Poet! The World does listen, and will still listen to thy song, while things of Beauty and of Joy endure in it. The World will ever mourn the sad fate that took thee from it in thy early spring, ere thy spirit had struggled through the dark mysterious clouds of Doubt, with which the All-wise permitted it to be enwrapped, into the clear light of that Truth thou wert not destined to realise on this side the grave; and as we efface with tears of pity and regret, the words of rebellion which darken a few of thy otherwise glorious pages, we thank thee, as remotest posterity will thank thee, for the beautiful things thou hast left behind thee, to be joys for ever.

And now I would take you to another class of subjects—to the illustration of manners, of domestic virtues in a humble sphere, and of true patriotism,—in one of the most genuine poets the world ever saw—the peasant poet of Scotland, Robert Burns. Here you will see a faithful representation page 17 of national manners, probity, morality, religion, and love of country; no mere Daguerreotype, but a work of Art, true, beautiful, pure, harmonious, elevating, and new in its combinations,—though a faithful representation in one sense, no less a creation of a true "Maker":—It is the "Cotter's Saturday Night." After a stanza of dedication, the poem goes on,—

* * * * * * * *

November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh;
The short'ning winter day is near a close;
The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh,
The blaek'ning trains o' craws to their repose;
The toil-worn cotter frae his labour goes.
This night his weekly moil is at an end,
Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,
Hoping the morn in case and rest to spend,
And weary, o'er the moor, his course does hameward bend.

At length his lonely cot appears in view,
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
Th' expectant wee things, toddlin' stacher thro'
To meet their Dad wi' flichterin' noise and glee.
His wee bit ingle, blinkin' bonnily,
His clean hearthstane, his thrifty wifie's smile,
The lisping infant prattling on his knee,
Does a' his weary carking cares beguile,
An' makes him quite forget his labour an' his toil.

Belyve, the elder bairns come drapping in,
At service out amang the farmers roun':
Some ca' the pleugh, some herd, some tentie rin
A cannie errand to a neibor town:
Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman grown,
In youthful bloom, love sparkling in her e'e,
Comes hame, perhaps, to show a bravo new gown,
Or deposit her sair-won penny-fee,
To help her parents dear, if they in hardship be.

Wi' joy unfeigned, brothers and sisters meet,
And each for other's welfare kindly spiers:
The social hours, swift-wing'd, unnotic'd fleet;
Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears.
The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years;
Anticipation forward points the view:
The mother wi' her needle an' her shears,
Gars auld claes look amaist as weel's the new;—
The father mixes a' wi' admonition due.

Their master's and their mistress's command,
The younkers a' are warned to obey;
An' mind their labours wi' an eydent hand,
An' ne'er tho' out o' sight to jauk or play:
"An' oh! be sure to serve the Lord alway!
An' mind your duty, duly, morn and night
Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray,
Implore His counsel and assisting might:
They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright

But hark! a rap comes gently to the door;
Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same,
Tells how a neibor lad cam o'er the moor,
To do some errands, and convoy her hame.
The wily mother sees the conscious flame
Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, an' flush her cheek,
Wi' heart-felt anxious care, inquires his name,
While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak;
Weel pleased the mother hears it's nae wild worthless rake.

Wi' kindly welcome, Jenny brings him ben;
A strappin' youth; he taks the mother's eye;
page 18 Blythe Jenny sees the visit's no ill ta'en;
The father cracks of horses, ploughs, and kye.
The youngster's artless heart o'erflows wi' joy,
But blate an' laithfu', scarce can weel behave;
The mother, wi' a woman's wiles, can spy
What makes the youth sae bashfu' and sae grave:
Weel pleased to think her bairn's respected like the lave.

Oh happy love!—where love like this is found
Oh heart-felt raptures!—bliss beyond compare
I've paced much this weary, mortal round.
And sage experience bids me this declare—
"If Heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure spare
One cordial in this melancholy vale,
'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair
In other's arms breathe out the tender tale.
Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the ev'ning gale."

Is there in human form, that bears a heart,
A wretch ! a viilain! lost to love and truth!—
That can, with studied, sly, ensnaring art,
Betray sweet Jenny's unsuspecting youth?
Curse on his perjured arts! dissembling smooth
Are honour, virtue, conscience, all exil'd?
Is there no pity, no relenting ruth,
Points to the parents fondling o'er their child?
Then paints the ruin'd maid, and their distraction wild?

Then, the simple supper meal is graphically described, and the poet proceeds:—

The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face,
They, round the ingle, form a circle wide
The sire turns o'er with patriarchal grace,
The big ha'-bible, ance his father's pride;
His bonnet rev'rently laid aside,
His lyart haffets wearing thin and bare;
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
He wales a portion with judicious care;
And, "Let us worship God," he says, with solemn air.

They chant their artless note in simple guise;
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim
Perhaps Dundee's wild-warbling measures rise,
Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name,
Or noble Elgin beets the heaven-ward flame,
The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays.
Compar'd with these, Italian trills are tame;
The tickl'd car no heart-felt raptures raise;
Nae unison ha'e they with our Creator's praise.

The priest-like father reads the sacred page—
How Abram was the friend of God on high
Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage
With Amalek's ungracious progeny;
Or how the royal bard did groaning lie
Beneath the stroke of heaven's avenging ire
Or Job's pathetic plaint, an' wailin' cry;
Or rant Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire;
Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.

Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme—
How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed;
How He, who bore in Heav'n the second name,
Had not on earth whereon to lay His head;
How His first followers and servants sped,
The precepts sage they wrote to many a land
How he, who lone in Patmos banished,
Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand;
And heard great Bab'lon's doom pronounced by Heav'n's command.

page 19

Then kneeling down to Heaven's Eternal King,
The saint, the father, and the husband prays:
Hope "springs exulting on triumphant wing,"
That thus they all shall meet in future days:
There ever bask in uncreated rays,
No more to sigh or shed the bitter tear,
Together hymning their Creator's praise,
In such society, yet still more dear;
While circling time moves round in an eternal sphere.

* * * *

Then homeward all take off their sev'ral way;
The youngling cottagers retire to rest:
The parent-pair their secret homage pay,
And proffer up to heaven the warm request,
That He who stills the raven's clam'rous nest,
And decks the lily fair in flow'ry pride,
Would in the way His wisdom sees the best,
For them and for their little ones provide;
But chiefly in their hearts with grace divine preside.

From scenes like these old Scotia's grandeur springs,
That makes her lov'd at home, revered abroad:
Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,
"An honest man's the noblest work of God;"

* * * *

O Thou! who pour'd the patriotic tide
That stream'd through Wallace's undaunted heart,
Who dared to nobly stem tyrannic pride,
Or nobly die, the second glorious part,
(The patriot's God, peculiarly Thou art,
His friend, inspirer, guardian, and reward!)
Oh never, never, Scotia's realm desert:
But still the patriot, and the patriot bard,
In bright succession raise, her ornament and guard

But I ought not to forget a subject particularly connected with our meeting here this evening, which has a very great variety of poetical associations,—I mean the subject of Bells. Had I been aware before coming here, that this topic would have been one of special interest to you, I should have brought with me some books from which I could have selected illustrations of it. I have a very interesting little work called "The Bell" (published by Messrs. Bell and Daldy of Fleet-street) written by an old friend of mine, the Rev. A. Gatty, vicar of Ecclesall, husband of a charming Art-writer whose "Parables from Nature," "Aunt Judy's stories," and other works, are most deservedly popular. From this source I should have been able to give you some of the learning and history of Bells: and I might have looked up the biography of great bells—of Tom of Lincoln, Peter of York, and that Big Ben who gave so much bother—first getting cracked himself, and now, I hear some Doctors say, very apt to make nervous people within his reach cracked also. And besides those Giants, I might have told you all about a very little bell, Benvenuto Cellini's, which I saw at the dispersion of Horace Walpole's collection at Strawberry Hill, and which page 20 has made not a little noise in the world for some hundreds of years.

Then I might have enlarged on the associations of Bells with public national, and private individual life,—about Joy-bells for births and anniversaries of Sovereigns and Princes, for military successes, and for the establishment of peace; and solemn knells for departed sovereigns,—about the bells that herald the birth of the rustic heir,—of marriage bells,—of Sabbath bells,—the passing bell—and the funeral bell. Here, surely, there were ample verge and scope enough for discourse.

Somewhere I have read of an old Monk who became a Monomaniac about bells, and wrote a voluminous treatise to prove that the happiness of the Blessed hereafter would consist in an unlimited faculty of bell ringing.

So fertile is the subject.

Then if Memory and Research strayed through the treasures of Bell-poetry, how large and various would the field be found! From the days when, in the nursery, we were invited to proceed, on an animal of questionable species, to witness the equestrian performances of an old lady at Ban-bury Cross, who, it was intimated, would have music wherever she went, because she had "rings on her fingers and bells on her toes," and our juvenile intellect was puzzled about the share the finger rings had in the music,—from those days, all through our reading life, we have been lighting on bell passages in almost every poet of note; and, indeed, it seems, without such elaborate dedication of talent and art as Schiller in his Song of the Bell, or its illustrator Retsch, devoted to the subject, few Poets have neglected to pay their tribute to the Bell.

Properly prepared beforehand, I should have been glad to spend the evening with the Bells, exclusively.

But, to conclude a long parenthesis, let me indulge in a little bit of speculation.

Who shall say but that, in a future age, Lord Macaulay's much renowned New Zealander,—before he sets out from his native land to visit the remains of Old Britain in the North, and sketch the ruins of the great Fane of her Capital, from a crumbling arch of London Bridge—may take a preliminary tour through his own country, and, coming to the populous and wealthy Emporium of trade and Seat of Learning at Napier, may be shewn, when he visits its Cathedral towers, among other Campanological curiosities, a curious page 21 specimen of remote antiquity—the modest little Bell the early Settlers of the place procured for the first English Church erected in it,—which your attendance here to-night will, I hope, help to bring into existence.

I would now give you a specimen or two of that style of poem which is probably the oldest in the world—the short Narrative or "Ballad," originally no doubt lyrical, and sung by the voice with accompaniment of instrument. The Ballad might be called the narrative song, as distinguished from the mere emotional or sentimental song. Some, nay many, of our old English and Scottish ballads, are real works of art, possessing all the characteristics to which I have more than once alluded. I shall first read you a specimen of the ancient ballad, in "Fair Helen of Kirkconnell"—to my mind, a most poetical, most musical, and most melancholy lay:—

"I Wish I were where Helen lies—
Night and day on me she cries;
O! that I were where Helen lies,
On fair Kirkconnell lea.

O Helen fair, beyond compare,
I'll make a garland of thy hair,
Shall bind mv heart, for evermair,
Until the day I die.

Curs'd be the heart that thought the thought,
And curs'd the hand that fir'd the shot,
When in my arms burd Helen dropt,
And died for sake o' me.

O think na but my heart was sair
When my love fell and spak nae mair;
I laid her down wi' meikle care
On fair Kirkconnell lea,

I laid her down; my sword did draw;
Stern was our strife in Kirtle-shaw—
I hew'd him down in pieces sma',
For her that died for me.

O that I were where Helen lies,
Night and day on me she cries,
Out of my bed she bids me rise,
'O come, my love, to me!'

O Helen fair! O Helen chaste!
Were I with thee I would be blest,
Where thou Iy'st low, and tak'st thy rest
On fair Kirkconnell lea.

I wish I were where Helen lies,
Night and day on me she cries;
I'm sick of all beneath the skies,
Since my love died for me."

I shall now read you a modern ballad of great power and beauty, which stands very high in my estimation, every stanza of which contains a picture of the most vivid and forcible kind; and the contrasts, the lights and shades, and incidents of which are managed with the highest art, while page 22 they present the appearance of perfect simplicity, and the language is remarkably pure, simple, uninvolved and vigorous. It is by a Poet who, once known chiefly as a Humourist, was ere his death discovered by his fellow countrymen to possess great powers of art, pathos, beauty, and profundity, and to wrap up in his grotesque fun no small amount of philosophy and feeling—Thomas Hood. I will read his

"Eugene Aram's Dream."
'Twas in the prime of summer time,
An evening calm and cool,
And four-and-twenty happy boys
Came bounding out of school:
There were some that ran and some that leapt,
Like troutlets in a pool.

Away they sped with gamesome minds,
And souls untouched by sin;
To a level mead they came, and there
They drave the wickets in:
Pleasantly shone the setting sun
Over the town of Lynn.

Like sportive deer they coursed about,
And shouted as they ran,—
Turning to mirth all things of earthy
As only boyhood, can;
But the Usher sat remote from all,
A melancholy man!

His hat was off, his vest apart,
To catch heaven's blessed breeze;
For a burning thought was in his brow,
And his bosom ill at ease:
So he lean'd his head on his hands, and read
The book between his knees.

Leaf after leaf he turn'd it o'er,
Nor ever glanced aside,
For the peace of his soul he read that book
In the golden eventide:
Much study had made him very lean,
And pale and leaden-eyed.

At last he shut the ponderous tome,
With a fast and fervent grasp
He strain'd the dusky covers close,
And fix'd the brazen hasp:
"Oh, God! could I so close my mind,
And clasp it with a clasp!"

Then leaping on his feet upright,
Some moody turns he took,—
Now up the mead, then down the mead,
And past a shady nook,—
And, lo! he saw a little boy
That pored upon a book!

"My gentle lad, what is 't you read—
Romance or fairy fable?
Or is it some historic page,
Of kings and crowns unstable?"
The young boy gave an upward glance,—
"It is 'The Death of Abel.'"

The Usher took six hasty strides,
As smit with sudden pain,—
Six hasty strides beyond the place,
Then slowly back again;
And down he sat beside the lad,
And talk'd to him of Cain;

page 23

And, long since, then, of bloody men,
whose deeds Tradition saves;
Of lonely folk cut off unseen,
And hid in sudden graves;
Of horrid stabs, in groves forlorn,
And murders done in caves;

And how the sprites of injured men
Shriek upward from the sod,—
And how the ghostly hand will point
To show the burial clod;
And unknown facts of guilty acts
Are seen in dreams from God !

He told how murderers walk the earth
Beneath the curse of Cain,—
With crimson clouds before their eyes,
And flames about their brain;
For blood has left upon their souls
Its everlasting stain!

"And well," quoth he, "I know, for truth,
Their pangs must be extreme,—
Woe, woe, unutterable woe,—
Who spill life's sacred stream!
For why? Methought, last night, I wrought
A murder, in a dream!

"One that had never done me wrong—
A feeble man, and old;
I led him to a lonely field—
The moon shone clear and cold:
Now here, said I, this man shall die,
And I will have his gold!

"Two sudden blows with a ragged stick,
And one with a heavy stone,
One hurried gash with a hasty knife,—
And then the deed was done:
There was nothing lying at my feet
But lifeless flesh and bone!

"Nothing but lifeless flesh and bone,
That could not do me ill;
And yet I feared him all the more,
For lying there so still:
There was a manhood, in his look,
That murder could not kill!

"And, lo! the universal air
Seem'd lit with ghastly flame;—
Ten thousand, thousand, dreadful eyes
Were looking down in blame:
I took the dead man by the hand,
And call'd upon his name !

"Oh, God! it made me quake to see
Such sense within the slain!
But when I touch'd the lifeless clay,
The blood gush'd out amain!
For every clot, a burning spot
Was scorching in my brain!

"My head was like an ardent coal,
My heart as solid ice;
My wretched, wretched soul I knew,
Was at the Devil's price;
A dozen times I groan'd; the dead
Had never groan'd but twice!

"And now, from forth the frowning sky,
From the Heaven's topmost height,
I heard a voice—the awful voice
Of the blood-avenging sprite;—
'Thou guilty man! take up thy dead
And hide it from my sight!'

"I took the dreary body up,
And cast it in a stream,—
page 24 A sluggish water, black as ink,
The depth was so extreme;—
My gentle Boy, remember this
Is nothing but a dream !

"Down went the corse with a hollow plunge,
And vanished in the pool;
Anon I cleansed my bloody hands,
And washed my forehead cool,
And sat among the urchins young,
That evening in the school.

"Oh, Heaven! to think of their white souls,
And mine so black and grim!
I could not share in childish prayer,
Nor join in Evening Hymn:
Like a Devil in the Pit I seemed,
'Mid holy Cherubim!

"And peace went with them, one and all,
And each calm pillow spread;
But Guilt was my grim Chamberlain
That lighted me to bed;
And drew my midnight curtains round,
With fingers bloody red !

"All night I lay in agony,
In anguish dark and deep;
My fever'd eyes I dared not close,
But stared aghast at Sleep,
For Sin had rendered unto her
The keys of Hell to keep!

"All night I lay in agony,
Prom weary chime to chime,
With one besetting horrid thirst,
That rack'd me all the time;
A mighty yearning like the first
Fierce impulse unto crime!

"One stem tyrannic thought, that made
All other thoughts its slave;
Stronger and stronger every pulse
Did that temptation crave,—
Still urging me to go and see
The Dead Man in his grave!

"Heavily I rose up, as soon
As light was in the sky,
And sought the black accursed pool.
With a wild misgiving eye;
And I saw the Dead m the river bed,
For the faithless stream was dry.

"Merrily rose the Lark, and shook
The dew-drop from its wing:
But I never mark'd its morning flight,
I never heard it sing:
For I was stooping once again
Under the horrid thing.

"With breathless speed, like a soul in chase,
I took him up and ran;—
There was no time to dig a grave
Before the day began:
In a lonesome wood, with heaps of leaves,
I hid the murder'd man!

"And all that day I read in school,
But my thought was other where;
As soon as the mid-day task was done,
In secret I was there:—
And a mighty wind had swept the leaves,
And still the corse was bare !

"Then down I cast me on my face,
And first began to weep,
For I knew my secret then was one
That earth refused to keep:
page 25 Or land or sea, though he should be
Ten thousand fathoms deep.

"So wills the fierce avenging Sprite,
Till blood for blood atones!
Ay, though he's buried in a cave,
And trodden down with stones,
And years have rotted off his flesh,—
The world shall see his bones !

"Oh, God ! that horrid, horrid dream
Besets me now awake!
Again—again, with dizzy brain,
The human life I take;
And my red right hand grows raging hot,
Like Cranmer's at the stake.

"And still no peace for the restless clay,
Will wave or mould allow;
The horrid thing pursues my soul,—
It stands before me now!"—
The fearful Boy looked up, and saw
Huge drops upon his brow.

That very night, while gentle sleep
The urchin eyelids kiss'd,
Two stern-faced men set out from Lynn,
Through the cold and heavy mist;
And Eugene Aram walk'd between,
With gyves upon his wrist.

I propose to conclude my reading this evening with an extract from the most recent work of the Poet Laureate—Alfred Tennyson. Time was when this office did not necessarily imply any high standard of poetic merit; but, happily, in our present gracious Sovereign's reign, the tastes of the Court and of the People in Art, as well as their opinions and feelings in other things, are in the most auspicious harmony, and will bear the tests of pure criticism. The reputation of the Laureate may not yet have reached its zenith; but unquestionably the publication of his last work has greatly added to his fame: and I cannot help believing that the poem of which I am about to read you a portion will place him, in the estimation of a coming age, among those who occupy the highest rank of our poets—after the one pre-eminent Shake-speare.

It is from the last of the Idylls I am about to read—from "Guinevere."

This is the argument. King Arthur—the noble, brave, pious, and chivalrous,—after gathering about his Round Table the flower of Christian chivalry, and doing battle effectually against the heathen invaders of his land, sued for the fair Guinevere in marriage, and obtained her hand. But, for his misfortune, Sir Lancelot of the Lake, the foremost and most highly gifted of his knights, acting as his ambassador,—Guinevere and he fell in love with each other, and, permitting their love to master their judgment, concealed page 26 it from the King; and, in spite of the promptings of Conscience and their better nature, sinned together after her marriage with the King. Thence followed a long train of misery and suffering to themselves and to their Country. The King's nephew discovered and revealed the fatal secret to him. Sir Lancelot fled to a distant fortress, and the Queen, secretly and in disguise, took refuge in a nunnery at Almesbury. Here, conscience began to do its work,—and her remorse and anguish were heightened by the simple prattle of a little Novice assigned to attend upon her, who sought to distract the melancholy Lady from her griefs, by speaking largely of the misfortunes of the good King, and the wickedness of the Queen, with which the Kingdom was ringing.

Musing sadly on these things, the Queen says to herself:—

But help me, heaven, for surely I repent.
For what is true repentance but in thought—
Not ev'n in inmost thought to think again
The sins that made the past so pleasant to us:
And I have sworn never to see him more,
To see him more.

And ev'n in saying this,
Her memory from old habit of the mind
Went slipping back upon the golden days
In which she saw him first, when Lancelot came,
Reputed the best knight and goodliest man,
Ambassador, to lead her to his lord
Arthur, and led her forth, and far ahead
Of his and her retinue moving, they,
Rapt in sweet talk or lively, all on love
And sport and tilts and pleasure, (for the time
Was maytime, and as yet no sin was dream'd.)
Rode under groves that look'd a paradise
Of blossom, over sheets of hyacinth
That seem'd the heavens upbreaking thro' the earth,
And on from hill to hill, and every day
Beheld at noon in some delicious dale
The silk pavilions of King Arthur raised
For brief repast or afternoon repose
By couriers gone before; and on again,
Till yet once more, ere set of sun they saw
The Dragon of the great Pendragonship.
That crown'd the state pavilion of the King,
Blaze by the rushing brook or silent well.

But when the Queen, immersed in such a trance,
And moving thro' the past unconsciously,
Came to that point, when first she saw the King
Ride toward her from the city, sigh'd to find
Her journey done, glanced at him, thought him cold,
High, self-contain'd, and passionless, not like him,
'Not like my Lancelot'—while she brooded thus,
And grew half-guilty in her thoughts again,
There rode an armed warrior to the door.
A murmuring whisper thro' the nunnery ran,
Then on a sudden, a cry, 'the King.' She sat
Stiff-stricken, listening; but when armed feet
Thro' the long gallery from the outer doors
Rang coming, prone from off her seat she fell,
And grovell'd with her face against the floor;
There with her milk-white arms and shadowy hair,
She made her face a darkness from the King:
And in the darkness heard his armed feet
Pause by her; then came silence, then a voice,
page 27 Monotonous and hollow like a Ghost's
Denouncing judgment, but tho' changed, the King's,

'Liest thou here so low, the child of one
I honoured, happy, dead before thy shame?
Well is it that no child is born of thee.
The children born of thee are sword and fire,
Red ruin, and the breaking up of laws,
The craft of kindred and the Godless hosts
Of heathen swarming o'er the Northern Sea,
Whom I, while yet Sir Lancelot, my right arm.
The mightiest of my knights, abode with me,
Have everywhere about this land of Christ
In twelve great battles running overthrown.
And knowest thou now from whence I come—from him
From waging bitter war with him: and he,
That did not shun to smite me in worse way,
Had yet that grace of courtesy in him left—
He spared to lift his hand against the King,
Who made him knight: but many a knight was slain;
And many more, and all his kith and kin
Clave to him, and abode in his own land.
And many more when Modred raised revolt,
Forgetful of their troth and fealty, clave
To Modred, and a remnant stays with me.
And of this remnant will I leave a part.
True men who love me still, for whom I live,
To guard thee in the wild hour coming on,
Lest but a hair of this low head be harm'd.
Fear not: thou shalt be guarded till my death.
Howbeit, I know, if ancient prophecies
Have err'd not, that I march to meet my doom.
Thou hast not made my life so sweet to me,
That I the King should greatly care to live;
For thou hast spoilt the purpose of my life.
Bear with me for the last time while I show,
Ev'n for thy sake, the sin which thou has sinned.
For when the Roman left us, and their Law
Relax'd its hold upon us, and the ways
Were fill'd with rapine,—here and there a deed
Of prowess done redress'd a random wrong.
But I was first of all the kings who drew
The knighthood-errant of this realm and all
The realms together under me, the Head,
In that fair order of my Table Round,
A glorious company, the flower of men.
To serve as model for the mighty world,
And be the fair beginning of a time.
I made them lay their hands in mine and swear
To reverence the King as if he were
Their Conscience, and their Conscience as their King,
To break the heathen and uphold the Christ,
To ride about redressing human wrongs,
To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it,
To lead sweet lives in purest chastity,
To love one maiden only, cleave to her,
And worship her by years of noble deeds
Until they won her; for indeed I knew
Of no more subtle master under heaven
Than is the maiden passion for a maid,
Not only to keep down the base in man,
But teach high thought, and amiable words
And courtliness, and the desire of fame,
And love of truth, and all that makes a man.
And all this throve until I wedded thee!
Believing "lo mine helpmate, one to feel
My purpose and rejoicing in my joy."
Then came thy shameful sin with Lancelot;
Then came the sin of Tristram and Isolt;
Then others, following these my mightiest knights,
And drawing foul ensample from fair names,
Sinn'd also, till the loathsome opposite
Of all my heart had destined did obtain,—
And all thro' thee! so that this life of mine
I guard as God's high gift from scathe and wrong,
Not greatly care to lose; but rather think
page 28 How sad it were for Arthur, should he live,
To sit once more within his lonely hall,
And miss the wonted number of my knights,
And miss to hear high talk of noble deeds
As in the golden days before thy sin.
For which of us, who might be left, could speak
Of the pure heart, nor seem to glance at thee?
And in thy bowers of Camelot or of Usk
Thy shadow still would glide from room to room,
And I should evermore be vext with thee
In hanging robe or vacant ornament,
Or ghostly footfall echoing on the stair.
For think not, tho' thou would'st not love thy Lord,
Thy Lord has wholly lost his love for thee.
I am not made of so slight elements.
Yet I must leave thee, Woman, to thy shame.
I hold that man the worst of public foes
Who either for his own or children's sake,
To save his blood from scandal, lets the wife
Whom he knows false, abide and rule the house:
For being thro' his cowardice allow'd
Her station, taken everywhere for pure,
She like a new disease, unknown to men,
Creeps, no precaution used, among the crowd,
Makes wicked lightnings of her eyes, and saps
The fealty of our friends, and stirs the pulse
With devil's leaps, and poisons half the young.
Worst of the worst were that man he that reigns!
Better the King's waste hearth and aching heart
Than thou reseated in thy place of light,
The mockery of my people, and their bane.'

He paused,—and in the pause she crept an inch
Nearer, and laid her hands about his feet.
Far off a solitary trumpet blew.
Then waiting by the doors the warhorse neigli'd
As at a friend's voice, and he spake again.

'Yet think not that I come to urge thy crimes,
I did not come to curse thee, Guinevere,
I, whose vast pity almost makes me die
To see thee, laying there thy golden head,
My pride in happier summers, at my feet.
The wrath that forced my thoughts on that fierce law,
The doom of treason and the flaming death,
(When first I learnt thee hidden here) is past.
The pang—which while I weighed thy heart with one
Too wholly true to dream untruth in thee,
Made my tears burn—is also past, in part.
And all is past, the sin is sinned, and I,
Lo! I forgive thee as Eternal God
Forgives: do thou for thine own soul the rest.
But how to take last leave of all I loved?
O golden hair with which I used to play
Not knowing! O imperial-moulded Form,
And Beauty such as never woman wore,
Until it came to a kingdom's curse with thee—
I cannot touch thy lips, they are not mine,
But Lancelot's: nay, they never were the King's.
I cannot take thy hand; that too is flesh,
And in the flesh thou hast sinn'd; and mine own flesh,
Here looking down on thine polluted, cries
"I loathe thee:" yet not less, O Guinevere,
For I was ever virgin save for thee,
My love thro' flesh hath wrought into my life
So far, that my doom is, I love thee still.
Let no man dream but that I love thee still.—
Perchance, and so thou purify thy soul,
And so thou lean on our fair father Christ,
Hereafter in that world where all are pure
We two may meet before high God, and thou
Wilt spring to me, and claim me thine, and know
I am thine Husband—not a smaller soul,
Nor Lancelot, nor another. Leave me that,
I charge thee, my last hope. Now must I hence.
Thro' the thick night I hear the trumpet blow:
They summon me their King to lead mine hosts
page 29 Far clown to that groat battle in the west,
Where I must strike against my sister s son.
Leagued with the lords of the White Horse and knights
Once mine, and strike him dead, and meet myself
Death, or I know not what mysterious doom.
And thou remaining here wilt learn the event;
But hither shall I never come again,
Never lie by thy side, see thee no more,

And while she grovell'd at his feet,
She felt the King's breath wander o'er her neck,
And in the darkness o'er her fallen head
Perceived the waving of his hands that blest.

Then, listening till those armed steps were gone,
Rose the pale Queen, and in her anguish found
The casement; 'Peradventure,' so she thought,
'I might see his face, and not be seen.'
And lo, he sat on horseback at the door!
And near him the sad Nuns with each a light
Stood, and he gave them charge about the Queen,
To guard and foster her for evermore
And while he spake to these his helm was lower'd,
To which for crest the golden dragon clung
Of Britain; so she did not see the face,
Which then was as an Angel's, but she saw,
Wet with the mists and smitten by the lights,
The Dragon of the great Pendragonship
Blaze, making all the night a steam of fire.
And even then he turn'd; and more and more
The moony vapour rolling round the King,
Who seem'd the phantom of a Giant in it,
Unwound him fold by fold, and made him gray
And grayer, till himself became as mist
Before her,—moving ghostlike to his doom.

—Can any one hear, I would ask you,—can any one read or think of such poetry without emotion? What pictures are those—of The guilty conscious Wife grovelling self-abased at the feet of her noble, much-wronged, but forgiving Lord; of that Saint-like Warrior, waving his hands in blessing over the head of the still loved, though forever banished, Form; of the Hero as, gradually magnified into colossal proportions by the evening mist, he vanishes out of sight, to meet a not unwelcome doom. Sorrowful as they are, they are most beautiful—these master works of the art of word painting. And besides the beauties of the pictures, and the sweet unaffected straightforwardness of the melodious language in which they are painted, think of the moral beauty and grandeur of the character of Arthur—brought out, heightened, tried, and proved by the sin of his unhappy Consort! In truth such a portraiture is a glory to our country, its language and its art, for ever: and generation after generation yet unborn will fondly, admiringly, and gratefully cherish it as a precious treasure; and take occasion, from this as from other creations of our noblest English poets, to express their thankfulness, that in our happy Fatherland, Genius has so often made Art not merely the Minister of Pleasure, but also the Handmaid of Wisdom, of Virtue, and of Piety.

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Printed at the Havre's Bay Herald Office by James Wood.

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