Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

and lakes, and plains, and the very ocean. In one direction, you have Morecomb Bay and Ulverstone sands, with the crags of Cartmell; in another, Coniston and other fells; then Eskdale fells, Dunmail raise; Bow fell, far beyond, and Langdale pikes. In another, you catch the summit of Skiddaw, and the lofty ridges in the neighborhood of Patterdale, with Shap fell. Below you is all the breadth and the scenery of Windermere.

Such a view is a perpetual enjoyment. The constant changes of cloud and sun cast over it a constant change of aspect. Now all is shining out airy, and clear, and brilliant; and now dark and solemn lie the shadows, black often as night, and wild from passing tempests, in the mysterious hollows of the hills. When you descend to the house, the scene around is made all the more soft and attractive to the senses by the change from such immense range of vision, and stern character of many of the objects presented. Here all is beauty and repose. The knoll on which the house stands is particularly round, and is well laid out in lawn and flower-beds. The house itself is simple, and consists principally of one long room, which, by folding doors, can be formed into two with a hall between them. Behind this lie the kitchen and offices. At the end next to the Windermere, is a large bay window, overlooking the upper part of the lake, toward Langdale and Coniston fell. The window is provided with seats, for the full enjoyment of this splendid view. A pleasantly swelling slope descends to the meadows which lie between its feet, and the house of the late Bishop Watson. The front door is in a bay window, lined with stands of plants, and having in direct view Ray Castle on the far side of the lake.

Such is the poet's cottage at Elleray, in itself unostentatious, but surrounded by the magnificence of nature in the distance, and by its quiet sweetness at hand. Years ago, when Mrs. Wilson was living, and the children were young and about them, we can conceive no happier spot of earth

No man was more formed to enjoy all that life had to offer, both at home and abroad, in such scenery; his wife was a most charming woman, and his children full of spirit and promise. The affectionate tenderness which diffused itself through the whole of Wilson's being, and the depth of that happiness which he enjoyed here, are manifested in such poems as the Children's Dance, and the Angler's Tent. When his tent was pitched in a Sabbath valley far off, he thus referred to the homes of both himself and his companion, the poet of Rydal :

“ Yet think not in this wild and fairy spot,

This mingled happiness of earth and heaven,
Which to our hearts this Sabbath-day was given,
Think not that far-off friends were quite forgot.
Helm-crag arose before our half-closed eyes,
With colors brighter than the brightening dove ; "
Beneath that guardian mount a cottage lies;
Encircled by a halo breathed from love!
And sweet that dwelling rests upon the brow, ,
Beneath that sycamore, of Orest hill,
As if it smiled on Windermere below,
Her green recesses and her islands still !
Thus gently blended many a human thought
With those that peace and solitude supplied, - -
Till in our hearts the musing kindness wrought
With gradual influence like a flowing tide,

And for the lovely sound of human voice we sighed.” But the great charm and ornament of that house has vanished; the young steps have wandered forth, and found other homes; and it must now be a somewhat solitary spot to him who formerly found collected into it all that made life beautiful. Nay, steam, as little as time, has respected the sanctity of the poet's home, but has drawn up its roaring iron steeds opposite to its gate, and has menaced to rush through it, and lay waste its charmed solitude. In plain words, I saw the stakes of a projected railway running in an ominous line across the very lawn, and before the very windows of Elleray.

WALLER BRYAN PROCTER.

As the most beautiful flowers are found in the most arid deserts, so out of the dry study of law comes forth now and then the most genial and tender spirit of poetry. Such has been the case with Mr. Procter, or Barry Cornwall, for we delight in that old favorite nom de guerre; and although I have been able to obtain but little knowledge of his homes and haunts, still these volumes would be incomplete without some notice of a man whose writings hold so firm a place in the public heart.

About seven-and-twenty years ago, Mr. Procter, then a young man, just called to the bar, and in very delicate health, published his first volume of poetry. Byron, Shelley, Keats, Campbell, and Leigh Hunt, were then pouring out volume after volume; and Scott, who was crowned with the laurels of his metrical romances, was riveting the attention of the whole world by his earlier romances; while Crabbe, as if woke up out of his slumber of twenty-two years by this great constellation of genius, had just put forth his new work, the Tales of the Hall. It was not a moment when a poet of ordinary power had any chance of sustaining his existence; but the young aspirant stood among those gigantic men, as one who, if not equal to them in all points at that moment, was yet kindred with them; and, although the Sicilian story, Diego de Montilla, Mirandola, and the Flood of Thessaly, have rather become pleasant memories than the actualities of the present day, the poet has established a lasting reputation by his volume of “ English Songs, and other small Poems”-a volume, in which there are gems of as noble and perfect poetry as any in the language, and which abounds with the most healthy, manly sentiment, and

the broadest sympathies with suffering and struggling humanity. It is now the fashion to sympathize with the people—and a noble fashion it is—the only fear being of this otherwise holy Christian sentiment becoming, in some minds, morbid, if not mawkish. In Barry Cornwall, it is as genuine as any other part of his nature; feigning and falsehood are as impossible to it as darkness to the sun. He has the clearest understanding of moral truth, and a detestation of the cold, sordid spirit of the world. According to his faith

“ Song should spur the mind to duty,

Nerve the weak and stir the strong;
Every deed of truth and beauty

Should be crowned by starry song;”. and like a true man, who proclaims no more than he himself practices, his song becomes a watchword in the cause of man. In confirmation of this, let me select one little poem, A Lyric of London, which contains a deeper moral than most sermons.

WITHIN AND WITHOUT.

“ WITHOUT.
“The winds are bitter; the skies are wild;

From the roof comes plunging the drowning rain,
Without-in tatters, the world's poor child

Sobbeth aloud her grief, her pain!
No one heareth her, no one heedeth her :

But Hunger, her friend, with his bony hand
Grasps her throat, whispering huskily-
What dost thou in a Christian land ?'

-6 WITHIN.
“ The skies are wild, and the blast is cold,

Yet riot and luxury brawl within ;
Slaves are waiting in crimson and gold,

Waiting the nod of a child of sin.
The fire is crackling, wine is bubbling

Up in each glass to its beaded brim:
The jesters are laughing, the parasites quaffing,

* Happiness,'-honor,'—and all for him!

, "WITHOUT
“She who is slain in the winter weather,

Ah! she once had a village fame;
Listened to love on the moonlit heather;

Had gentleness, vanity, maiden shame:
Now her allies are the tempest howling;

Prodigal's curses; self-disdain;
Poverty, misery : Well, no matter;

There is an end unto every pain.
“The harlot's fame was her doom to-day,

Disdain, despair; by to-morrow's light
The ragged boards and the pauper's pall;

And so she'll be given to dusky night!
Without a tear or a human sigh

She's gone,-poor life and its fever o'er !
So let her in calm oblivion lie;
While the world runs merry as heretofore!

“WITHIN,
“He who yon lordly feast enjoyeth,

He who doth rest on his couch of down,
He it was who threw the forsaken

Under the feet of the trampling town.
Liar-betrayer-false as cruel,

What is the doom for his dastard sin ?
His peers, they scorn ?-high dames, they shun him?

-Unbar your palace, and gaze within !
“There, -yet his deeds are all trumpet-sounded,

There upon silken seats recline
Maidens as fair as the summer morning,

Watching him rise from the sparkling wine.
Mothers all proffer their stainless daughters ;

Men of high honor salute him 'friend ;'
Skies! oh where are your cleansing waters!

World ! oh where do thy wonders end ?” Again, here is another poem, worthy to take its place beside Burns's A Man's á Man for a' that.

RIND AND FRUIT.
You may boast of jewels, coronets,

Ermine, purple, all you can-
There is that within them nobler ;-

Something that we call-a man!

« ПредишнаНапред »