Графични страници
PDF файл

Armed at point, exactly, cap-a-pie,
Appears before them, and, with a solemn march,
Goes slow and stately by them : thrice he walk'd,
By their oppress'd and fear-surprised eyes,
Within his truncheon's length; whilst they, distillid
Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
Stand dumb, and speak not to him. This to me
In dreadful secrecy impart they did ;
And I with them, the third night kept the watch :
Where, as they had deliver'd, both in time,
Form of the thing, each word made true and good,
The apparition comes : I knew your father ;
These hands are not more like.

Ham. But where was this ?
Mar. My lord, upon the platform where we watch’d.
Ham. Did you not speak to it?

Hor. My lord, I did ;
But answer made it none : yet once, methought,
It lifted

up its head, and did address
Itself to motion, like as it would speak :
But, even then, the morning cock crew loud,
And at the sound it shrunk in haste away,
And vanished from our sight.

Ham. 'Tis very strange.

Hor. As I do live, my honour'd lord, 'tis true :
And we did think it writ down in our duty,
To let you know of it.

Ham. Indeed, indeed, Sirs, but this troubles me.
Hold you the watch to night?

All. We do, my lord.
Ham. Arm’d, say you ?
All. Arm’d, my lord.
Ham. From top to toe ?
All. My lord, from head to foot.

Ham. Then saw you not
His face?

Hor. O, yes, my lord; he wore his beaver up.
Ham. What ! look'd he frowningly?

Hor. A countenance more
In sorrow than in

Ham. Pale, or red ?
Hor. Nay, very pale.
Ham. And fixed bis eyes upon you ?
Hor. Most constantly.
Ham. I would I had been there.
Hor. It would have much amaz'd you.

Ham. Very like,
Very like : Stay'd it long?

Hor. While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.

Mar. & Ber. Longer, longer.
Hor. Not when I saw it.
Ham. His beard was grizzled ?—no?

Hor. It was, as I have seen it in his life,
A sable silver'd.

Ham. I will watch to-night; Perchance 'twill walk again.

Hor. I warrant, it will.

Ham. If it assume my noble father's person,
I'll speak to it, though EARTH itself should gape,
And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,
If you have hitherto conceal'd this sight,
Let it be tenable in your silence still :
And whatsoever else shall hap to-night,
Give it an understanding, but no tongue :
I will requite your loves : So, fare you well:
Upon the platform, 'twixt eleven and twelve,
I'll visit you.

All. Our duty to your honour.

Ham. Your loves, as mine to you; Farewell. My father's spirit in arms! all is not well : I doubt some foul play: 'would that the night were

come! Till then sit still, my soul : Foul deeds will rise, Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.




No sounds of labour vexed the quiet air
From morn till eve. The people all stood still,
And earth won back a Sabbath. There were none
Who cared to buy and sell, and make a gain,
For one whole day. All felt as they had lost
A father, and were fain to keep within,
Silent, or speaking little. Such a day
An old man sees but once in all his time.

The simplest peasant in the land that day Knew somewhat of his country's grief. He heard The knell of England's hero from the tower Of the old church, and asked the cause, and sighed. The vet’ran who had bled on some far field, Fought o'er the battle for the thousandth time With quaint addition; and the little child, That stopped his sport to run and ask his sire What it all meant, picked out the simple tale,How he who drove the French from Waterloo, And crushed the tyrant of the world, and made His country great and glorious, he was dead. All, from the

simplest to the stateliest, knew But one sad story,—from the cottar’s bairn Up to the fair-haired lady on the throne, Who sat within and sorrowed for her friend : And

every tear she shed became her well, And seemed more lovely in her people's eyes Than all the starry wonders of her crown.

But, as the waters of the Northern Sea, (When one strong wind blows steady from the

pole,) Come hurrying to the shore, and far and wide As eye can reach the creaming waves press on

Impatient; or, as trees that bow their tops
One way, when Alpine hollows bring one way
The blast whereat they quiver in the vale,-
So millions press to swell the general grief
One way ;—for once all men seemed one way drawn ;
Or if through evil hap and unforeseen,
Some stayed behind, their hearts,' at least, were there
The whole day through,—could think of nothing else,
Hear nothing else, see nothing !

In his cell
The student saw the pageant; spied from far
The long drawn pomp which reached from west to

east, Slow moving in the silence : casque and plume, And banner waving sad; the marvellous state Of heralds, soldiers, nobles, foreign powers, With baton, or with pennon ; princes, peers, Judges, and dignities of church and state, And warriors grown grey-headed ;-every form Which greatness can assume or honour name, Peaceful or warlike --each and all were there; Trooping in sable sorrow after him Who slept serene upon his funeral car In glorious rest! . . . A child might understand That 'twas no national sorrow, but a grief Wide as the world. A child might understand That all mankind were sorrowing for one ! That banded nations had conspired to pay This homage to the chief who drew his sword At the command of Duty ; kept it bright Through perilous days; and soon as Victory smiled, Laid it, unsullied, in the lap of Peace.


The poem from which the foregoing extract is taken

appeared anonymously shortly after the death of the Duke of Wellington, in 1852, and attracted much attention at the time.

DAVID'S LAMENT FOR ABSALOM. [NATHANIEL P. WILLIS, one of the foremost American writers,

was born 20th January, 1807, and died January, 1867. He was the founder of the American Monthly Magazine,

which has done much to foster literature in America.] 1. The pall was settled. He who slept beneath

Was straightened for the grave; and, as the folds
Sank to the still proportions, they betrayed
The matchless symmetry of Absalom.
His helm was at his feet: his banner soiled
With trailing through Jerusalem, was laid
Reversed, beside him: and the jewelled hilt,
Whose diamonds lit the passage of his blade,

Rested, like mockery, on his covered brow. 2. The soldiers of the king trod to and fro,

Clad in the garb of battle; and their chief,
The mighty Joab, stood beside the bier,
And gazed upon the dark pall steadfastly,
As if he feared the slumberer might stir.
A slow step startled him. He grasped his blade,
As if a trumpet rang; but the bent form
Of David entered, and he gave command,
In a low tone, to his few followers,

And left him with his dead. 3.

The king stood still
Till the last echo died; then, throwing off
The sackcloth from his brow, and laying back
The pall from the still features of his child,
He bowed his head upon him, and broke forth

In the resistless eloquence of woe :-
4. “ Alas, my noble boy! that thou shouldst die !

Thou, who wert made so beautifully fair ;That Death should settle in thy glorious eye,

And leave his stillness in this clustering hair ! How could he mark thee for the silent tomb,

My proud boy, Absalom ?

« ПредишнаНапред »