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No. 1570. - July 11, 1874.
Downs. Part V., . . . . . . Blackwood's Magazine,
Shirley, . . . . . . . Fraser's Magazine, .
| Yet many passed to gaze upon the thing, Oh to keep them still around us, baby dar. still around ns. baby dara!
And all who passed did sacrifice and prayer, lings, fresh and pure,
Lest the unknown, not rightly honouring, “Mother's ” smile their pleasures crowning, Some great god they should anger unaware. “mother's ” kiss their sorrows' cure;
And each one thought this hidden god was he Oh to keep the waxen touches, sunny curls,
| Whom he desired in his most secret heart, and radiant eyes,
And prayed for that he longed for most to be, Pattering feet, and eager prattle — all young
Gifts that was no fixed godhead to impart.
Gifts life's lost Paradise !
Nor prayed in vain, for prayers scarce breathed One bright head above the other, tiny hands
in word that clung and clasped,
Were straight fulfilled, and every earthly Little forms, that close enfolding, all of Love's bliss best gifts were grasped ;
Showered down on men; till half the world Sporting in the summer sunshine, glancing had heard, round the winter hearth,
And left all ancient gods to worship this. Bidding all the bright world echo with their · fearless, careless mirth.
| But Jove, in anger at his rites unpaid,
Tore off the veil with one fierce tempestOh to keep them ; how they gladdened all the breath, path from day to day,
Lo! that to which all men their vows had What gay dreams we fashioned of them, as in made, rosy sleep they lay;
Shuddering they saw was their fell foeman, How each broken word was welcomed, how Death.
each struggling thought was hailed, As each bark went Xoating scaward, love-be- | And all forgot the blessings they had had, decked and fancy-sailed !
And all forsook the kindly carven stone.
'Tis now a shapeless block; the Zephyrs sad — Gliding from our jealous watching, gliding
None else - their nightly prayers around it from our clinging hold,
moan. Lo! the brave leaves bloom and burgeon ; | Spectator.
F. W. B. lo! the shy sweet buds unfold; Fast to lip, and cheek, and tresses steals the
maiden's bashful joy; Fast the frank bold man's assertion tones the
ON THE CLIFF. accents of the boy.
Half down the cliff the pathway ends, Neither love nor longing keeps them ; soon in
The rocks grow steep and sheer ; other shape than ours
Hard by a sudden stream descends ; Those young hands will seize their weapons,
From ledge to ledge with break and bends build their castles, plant their flowers ;
It dashes cool and clear. Soon a fresher hope will brighten the dear eyes we trained to see ;
Across the bay green ripples flow Soon a closer love than ours in those waken
In endless falls and swells ;
Clear shows the ribbed sea-flow below,
Smooth sands of crisped shells.
Foam-specks before the wind that glide, Backward yearnings are but idle; dawning
The sleeping sea-gulls float: never glows again ;
Amid eve's crimson shadows wide, Slow and sure the distance deepens, slow and
Rocked softly by the swaying tide, sure the links are rent;
Yet safe as anchored boat.
Their white and folded wings are laid
On tides that change and flow;
Whate'er may come and go.
So safe, 'mid waste of waters wide,
Below the darkening sky, And over was a veiled deity,
So safe my heart and I may bide, And no man dared to raise the veiling hood, Calm floating on time's changeful tide, Nor any knew what god they then should Beneath eternity. see.
From The Contemporary Review. Isitions of “Paracelsus ” and “Fifine at MR. BROWNING'S PLACE IN LITERATURE. the Fair.” his first known and his latest
No writer has aroused in his own original work, without disturbing any time and within his own sphere a more preconceived judgment of promise in the positive interest than Mr. Browning. one or finality in the other. In their acHe has been sincerely loved and cor- tual relation, each appears in its right dially disliked. For many persons, both place. We see in “ Paracelsus" the men and women, his works have pos- idealism of a young and lofty intellisessed the support, the sympathy, and gence; in “Fifine” the semi-material the suggestiveness of a secular Gospel; philosophy which comes of prolonged whilst with others they have become a contact with life ; but if “ Fifine” had bye-word for ambiguousness of thought been written when its author was twentyand eccentricity of expression. He has two, it would have seemed full of the been abundantly reviewed in each iso- sophistry of a youthful spirit, dazzled by lated poem ; isolated aspects of his ge- the variety of life, and striving to comnius have been strongly appreciated and bine incompatible enjoyments and to receven subtly defined; nevertheless, he oncile incompatible feelings. And if has been writing for forty years, and the “Paracelsus" were published now, we public are more than ever at issue con- should hail in it the final utterance of a cerning the fundamental conditions of mind wearied by its own eccentricities his creative life; the question is more and giving in its solemn adherence to the than ever undecided whether he is what time-honoured methods of human labour he professes to be, a poet, whose natural and human love. “Fifine at the Fair" expression is verse, or what many be-exhibits one sign of a riper genius in the lieve him to be - a deep, subtle, and im- tone of satire which does not spare even aginative thinker, who has chosen to itself; but “ Paracelsus" bears a still write in verse.
fuller stamp of maturity in its complete The fact is, perhaps, less strange than refinement of imagery and expression. It it appears. Either opinion may be sup- shows the touch of a master hand. ported by reference to his writings ; We do not mean to assert that during whether either is absolutely true can only Mr. Browning's long literary career the be discovered through a complete survey manner of his inspiration has undergone of them; and a survey complete enough no change. It has changed so far, that for such a purpose is by no means easily if we compare the first twenty years with obtained. Mr. Browning's collective the last we shall find emotion predomiwritings are not too voluminous to benant in the one period and reflection in read, but their substance is too solid to the other; but reflection is considered be compressed into a written review, and to have acquired a morbid development with all its variety, too uniform for the in “Sordello," and fashes of intense species of classification by which review- feeling occur even in the coldest of his ing is generally assisted. As a poet, he later works. The change has been too has had no visible growth; he displays gradual to draw a boundary line across no divisions into youth, manhood, and any moment of his life; and though it is age; no phases particularly marked by in the nature of things that a change so the predominance of an aim, a manner, gradual should be permanent, there is or a conviction. His genius is supposed something in Mr. Browning's nature to have reached its zenith in “ The Ring which prevents our feeling it as such. It and the Book," because nothing he has appears too restless to crystallize. written before or since has afforded so To exist thus as a haunting presence large an illustration of it, but we have no in the literary world, never old and never. reason to believe that his writing it when young, always distinctly self-asserting, he did, instead of before or afterwards, never thoroughly defined, is to possess was due to anything but its external the prestige of mystery which Mr. cause; and we might reverse the po- Browning is by some persons wrongly
supposed to covet; and it is precisely other creations of an equally esoteric because we believe that he does not kind, and in thought, though not in excovet it, that his mysteriousness lies in no pression, it is essentially a youthful intentional involvement of his thoughts, work. It is the half-delirious self-revealbut in the complex individuality which ing of a soul maddened by continued inis probably, though in a different way, trospection, by the irrepressible craving as mysterious to him as to us, that we do to extend its sphere of consciousness, not think his literary reputation has and by the monstrosities of subjective much to gain by any possible solution of experience in which this self-magnifying it. To those for whom he is a poet, he and self-distorting action has involved it. appeals in the manner of “deep calling The sufferer tells his story to a woman unto deep" in that infinite sense of sym- who loves him, and to whom he has been pathetic existence which needs no ex- always more or less worthily attached ; plaining; to those for whom he is not, and ends by gently raving himself into a his mode of self-manifestation will re- rest which is represented as premonitory main uninteresting or obnoxious, what- of death, and in which the image of a ever its principles may be. But every perfect human love rises amidst the tuwriter has a certain number of responsi- mult of the disordered brain, transfusing ble critics whose function is not merely its chaotic emotions into one soft harto endorse such impressions but to demony of life and hope. The same funtermine their causes and in some meas- damental idea recurs in “ Paracelsus," ure to judge them. No true critic can but in a more subdued and infinitely dispense with all knowledge of the gene- more objective form. We find there the sis of the ideas which he is called upon same consciousness of intellectual powto judge ; and Mr. Browning's critics er, but with a stronger sense of responcan be true neither to themselves nor to sibility ; the same restless ambition, but him till they have taken the evidence of directed towards a more definite and more his collective works on this one great ques-unselfish end. There is also the same tion of what he is and what he has striven acceptance of love as the one saving reto do. We think that, if rightly ques- ality of life, but the earthly adorer of tioned, their answer will be unequivocal. Pauline has become the exponent of the
We have said that Mr. Browning's heaven-born, universal love; and we genius had no perceptible growth, be shall see in one of Mr. Browning's more cause it was full-grown when first pre recent poems how the final expression sented to the world. This does not im- of these two modes of feeling may be ply that it had no period of manifest be-l imaginatively resolved into one. “ Paucoming; and there is evidence of such a line” is strongly distinguished from its phase in a fragment called “Pauline,” author's subsequent works by an exceswhich became known much later than sive luxuriance of imagery, employed, his other works, but in the last edition not as the illustration of a distinct idea, of them occupies its proper place at the but as the spontaneous embodiment of a beginning. The difference of manner complex and intense emotion. It resemand conception which divides it from bles them in its very delicate and power“Paracelsus " gives the rate of the prog- ful rendering of the passion of Love. ress which carried him in three years One passage especially breathes a perfect from the one to the other, whilst the aroma of tenderness :comparative crudeness of the earlier poem affords a curious insight into the...
- I am very weak,
| But what I would express is, - Leave me not, yet seething elements of that almost co
Still sit by me with beating breast and hair lossal power. We cannot judge how far |
Loosened, be watching earnest by my side, “ Pauline” was a deliberate product of
Turning my books or kissing me when I the author's imagination or a sponta-1 Look up like summer wind !' Be still to me neous overflowing of poetic feeling ; but A key to music's mystery when mind fails this does not affect its relation to his ' A reason, a solution, and a clue !
The one quality of Mr. Browning's in- , which they are intended to depict. Some tellectual nature which is at present most objection has been taken to the mise en universally recognized is its casuistry – scène of the monologue, and the introduchis disposition to allow an excessive tion of the Lais of Leicester Square is, weight to the incidental conditions of hul indeed, a violation of good taste which man action, and consequently to employ could only be accepted on the ground of sliding scales in the measurement of it. entire poetic fitness. But there is even The most remarkable evidence of this more than poetic fitness — there is hisquality, supplied by his later works, is to toric truth in this ideal approximation of be found in “ Prince Hohenstiel-Schwan- the princely exponent of hand-to-mouth gau.” It is displayed with more audacity existence to its typical embodiment in in “ Fifine at the Fair," with larger and the lowest social form. more sustained effect in “ The Ring and! The Emperor is supposed to describe the Book.” But “ Fifine at the Fair," or imagine the leading actions of his though very subjective in treatment, reign under three different aspects - as verges too much on the grotesque to be they appear in the light of his own conaccepted as a genuine reflection of the science, as they would have been if they author's mind; and “The Ring and the had conformed to a general rule of right, Book" represents him as a pleader, but and as they must have appeared to those at the same time as a judge. It de- who measured them by such a rule. He scribes the case under discussion from begins by admitting and defending his every possible point of view, but does not wavering policy as dictated by the highdescribe it as subject to any possi-est expedience ; and then proceeds to ble moral doubt. “ Prince Hohenstiel- enumerate the acts and motives which Schwangau" is a deliberate attempt on the eulogistic historians of the Thiers and author's part to defend a cause which he Hugo type would impute to him; opposknows to be weak, and as such is a typi- ing to this ideal version step by step the cal specimen, as it is also a favourable rejected suggestions of sagacity, which one, of his genius for special pleading. depicts his actual thoughts and deeds in It places in full relief the love of opposi- the obvious shallowness of their tempotion which impels him to defend the rizing worldly wisdom. The argument weaker side, and the love of fairness which which occupies the first half of the book always makes him subsume in the defence is an elaborate vindication of the policy every argument that may be justly ad- of leaving things as they are, saving only vanced against it; and it also exhibits such improvement as implies no radical that double-refracting quality of his mind change. A piece of paper lying close to which can convert a final concession to the speaker's hand supplies him with an the one side into an irresistible last word illustration. The paper has two blots in favour of the other. It is unfortunate upon it, and he mechanically draws a line that a slight ambiguity in one or two pas- from one to the other; it does not occur sages obscures the drift of the poem, and to him to make a third, but it does occur disinclines its readers for taking the other to him to correct the two already made. wise small amount of trouble required for That he does this and no more is typical its comprehension, for this supposed solil- of his conduct through life. He has not oquy of the ex-Emperor of the French is in been gifted with the genius that could every respect a striking expression of the create, but he has been gifted with the non-pathetic side of its author's genius. sober intelligence which appreciates the Both narrative and argument have a risk of destroying. The great renewing coursing rapidity which rather fatigues changes of life are wrought by special the mind, but they are vivid, humorous, agencies and under special conditions, as and picturesque, carry some serious in the physical world — thought in solution, and leave behind as their residue a distinct dramatic impres- New teeming growth, surprises of strange life sion of the easy-going Bohemianism | Impossible before a world broke up