Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Something all the rest surpassing ;

As the flower is to the sod;
As to man is high archangel;

As is to archangel-God!
“ Running o'er with tears and weakness ;

Flaming like a mountain fire ;
Racked by hate and hateful passions :

Tossed about by wild desire;
There is still within him mingled

With each fault that dims or mars,
Truth, and pity, virtue, courage,-

Thoughts that fly beyond the stars !
“You, who prize the book's fair paper

Above its thoughts of joy and pain;
You, who love the cloud's bright vapor

More than its soul,—the blessing, rain;
Take the gems, the crowns, the ermine ;

Use them nobly, if you can;
But give us-in rags or purple

The true, warm, strong heart of man!" Mr. Procter was born and spent his youth at Finchley, in a house which we understand is now pulled down. He was educated for the bar. He was some years at school at Harrow, where he was the cotemporary of the present Duke of Devonshire, Lord Byron, and Sir Robert Peel. On leaving Harrow, it had been the intention of his father to send him to one of the universities; but from this he was deterred, in consequence of the son of some friend or acquaintance having run a wild and ruinous career at one of these seminaries of extravagance and dissipation. From Harrow he, therefore, went to Calne, in Wiltshire, where he remained for some time under the care of an excellent man of the name of Atherton, who lived, it was said, in the house which at one time had been the residence of Coleridge, and opposite to another called the “Doctor's house,” because it had once been occupied by Dr. Priestley. Two miles from Calne was Bremhill, the rector of which place, William Lisle Bowles, was on friendly terms with young Procter.

With a head and heart much more fitted for the noble business of poetry than law, Mr. Procter devoted himself for twenty years to his profession, until a few years ago he was appointed one of the Government Commissioners of Lunacy, with a good income, but with less leisure than ever for his favorite studies. He has resided altogether in London, for some time, in Gray’s-inn; and after his marriage, with the step-daughter of Mr. Basil Montague, in what was in those days a very pretty cottage and suitable poet's home, at No. 5, Grove-end-place, St. John's-wood; and latterly in Upper Harley-place, Cavendish-square ; where we sincerely hope he may yet find leisure, if not to write some noble drama, for which we consider him eminently qualified, at least to enrich the lyrical poetry of his country with fresh lays that will add honor to his reputation, at the same time that they assist struggling humanity in its great contest with the cruelty and selfishness of the world.

There is a healthy, active vigor about all the latter writings of Barry Cornwall, that show that he has never yet fairly and fully developed his whole power. His reputation is of the first class, but every one feels, in reading one of his lyrics, that he would not surprise us now to come forth with some high and stirring drama of real life, that would stamp him as a true tragic poet. The elements of this lie everywhere in his poems. There is a clear and decided dramatic tact and cast of thought. Pathos and indignation against wrong live equally and vividly in him. His thoughts and feelings are put forth with a genuineness and a perspicuous life, that tell at once on the reader, making him feel how real and how earnest is his spirit. Spite of the long and continuous labors of his daily life, we shall still trust to some future outburst of his powers and impulses in a fitting form. In the mean time, the prompt and quick spirit of his lyrics is doing great service to the cause of progress far and wide.

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

ALFRED Tennyson moves on his way through life heard, but by the public unseen. We might put to him a question similar to that which Wordsworth put to the cuckoo :

“O blithe new-comer! I have heard,

I hear thee, and rejoice.
O Tennyson! art thou a man,

Or but a wandering voice ?" And our question would have like answer. That is, we should get just as much from the man as Wordsworth got from the cuckoo. We should have to look wise, and add

“Even yet thou art to me
No man; but an invisible thing,

A voice, a mystery." - Many an admiring reader may have said with Solomon of old—“ I sought him, but I could not find him ; I called

him, but he answered me not." If you want a popular poet, you generally know pretty well where to look for him. In the first place, you may make certain that London contains him. You may trace him to a coterie, probably a very recherché and exclusive one; you may look for him at midnight in some hot and crowded drawing-room, surrounded by the fairest of incense burners, and breathing volumes of ambrosial essences with a very complacent air; you may find him as the great gun of a popular periodical; you may meet him at Rogers's at breakfast; you may follow him from one great dinner table to another, and at last to that of the lord mayor. But in few or none of these places will you find Alfred Tennyson. '“He has gone down into his garden, to his beds of spices, to feed in his garden and gather lilies.” You may hear his voice, but where is the man? He is wandering in some dream-land, beneath the shade of old and charmed forests, by far-off shores, where

“All night
The plunging seas draw backward from the land

Their moon-led waters white:" . by the old milldam, thinking of the merry miller and his pretty daughter; or is wandering over the open wolds, where

“Norland whirlwinds blow.” From all these places from the silent corridor of an ancient convent ; from some shrine where a devoted knight recites his vows; from the drear monotony of the moated grange," or the ferny forest beneath the “talking oak”—comes the voice of Tennyson, rich, dreamy, passionate, yet not impatient; musical with the airs of chivalrous ages, yet mingling in his song the theme and the spirit of those that are yet to come.

The genius of Tennyson is essentially retiring, meditative, spiritual, yet not metaphysical ; ambitious only that itself, and not the man, shall be seen, heard, and live. So that his song can steal forth ; catch by a faint but aerial

prelude the ear quick to seize on the true music of Olympus; and then, with growing and ever swelling symphonies, still more ethereal, still fuller of wonder, love, and charmed woe, can travel on amid the listening and spell-bound multitude, an invisible spirit of melodious power, expanding, soaring aloft, sinking deep, coming now as from the distant sea, and filling all the summer air; so that it can thus triumph in its own celestial energy, the poet himself would rather not be found. He seems to steal away under the covert of friendly boughs; to be gone to caves and hiding crags, or to follow the stream of the gray moorland, gathering

“ From old well-heads of haunted rills,

And the heart of purple hills, :
And shadowed caves of a sunny shore,
The choicest wealth of all the earth,

Jewel, or shell, or starry ore." The orator may climb heights of most imperial influence over the public mind, the statesman of power over the public destiny, the merchant may gather stupendous wealth from every zone, the patriot produce and carry on to success the most dazzling schemes for human good : these disturb not the equanimity of Tennyson—the spirit of poetry that is conferred on him he accepts as his fortune, his duty, and his glory. In short, he has all that he can conceive of, or desire. He knows that through that, his applauses, though less riotous than those of the orator, will endure the longer; that he has in it a commission to work with or against the statesman, as that man may be good or evil; that even into the ear of the princeliest wealth he can whisper a startling word of human counsel, or can move to deeds of mercy; and that there is no patriot who can be more patriotic than him whose voice, from day to day and year to year, is heard in the stillest and most teachable hours of the most amply endowed and teachable natures. Over all the faculties, the ranks, the influences

« ПредишнаНапред »