Графични страници
PDF файл

devoid of solemnity, and a certain massive grandeur, but it is not great enough for the occasion-neither great enough in its passion, or its power, and has somewhat of the coldness and constraint of a piece written to order. Still it is a fine composition ; and when we speak of its shortcomings, it is only in relation to the large abilities and genius of its author.

But there is another piece, the last in the volume, which has all the life, and vigour, and dash of something thrown hot from the heart-a lyric worthy of the great feat of self-sacrificing gallantry which it records. Who can read these verses without emotion :

"Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them

Volley'd and thunder'd ;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
They that had struck so well
Rode thro' the jaws of Death,
Half a league back again,
Up from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,

Left of six hundred.

" Honour the brave and bold !

Long shall the tale be told, Yea, when our babes are old

How they rode onward."

"THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE. “Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.
Charge,' was the captain's cry;
Their's not to reason why,
Their's not to make reply,
Their's but to do and die,
Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

"Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them

Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well ;
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell,

Rode the six hundred.

This is something that men will commit to memory, and that our children's children will chant like “Hohen. linden,” or the " Battle of Lake Regillus" - something that hurries the blood and makes the breath come fast as we read it.

As we observed in the outset of our observations, this volume does nothing to advance the reputation of its author. It is very true that an advance in literary fame is not an easy achievement for one who has attained to so high an elevation. Still he is one of those favoured spirits to whom it is given to bear the great spiritual banner with its heaven-seeking motto “ Excelsior," and we bear not willingly to see him stationary ; less than stationary, however, he is not; so far as · Maud" is an evidence of his power, there is no retrogression as yet in the laureate. May that day be long distant-may it never reach him. Rather let us hope that his course may be like that of his illustrious predecessor, gaining with long added years increase of intellectual power, ripening in all the sweet philosophy of song more melodious, more meditative every day; till, at last, full of years and of glory, he shall pass away like those bright lights of a summer night that leave a trail of glory behind them when they disappear from the sky.

"Flash'd all their sabres bare,

Flash'd all at once in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while

All the world wonder'd : Plunged in the battery-smoke Fiercely the line they broke; Strong was the sabre-stroke : Making an army reel

Shaken and sunder'd
Then they rode back, but not,

Not the six hundred.

[blocks in formation]

The gallant Lord Brictric, son and heir
Of Algar, had wealth I ween to spare;
In Cornwall and Somerset, Dorset and Devon,
Where the tall spire of Sarum points nobly to heaven,
He had vast possessions, and numberless bands
Of vassals did homage on those wide lands:
The Honour of Gloucester, with all its manors,
Was his- and when his shield and banners
Flared in the front of the battle high,
There were thousands behind them to conquer or die.

At the castle of Bristow kept Brictric his state,

Where life was a nightly festival ; Troops of retainers thronged every gate, And prelates and peers in high revelry sate

With the noble thane in his stately hall. Egad, how the tables were wont to groan!

How the earls and bishops were wont to laugh ! Wbile wines, the coolest that ever were known,

From cumbrous tankards they used to quaff. You may talk as you will about aldermen’s dinners,

And the gourmand habits of rubicund mayors,
But Saxon thanes were the hungriest sinners,

As every orthodox annal declares ;
Nor ever shall Bristol rejoice in sublime
Celebrations like those in Lord Brictric's time.
And yet is this noble old city of ours
A city of famous good cheer, by the powers !
And tale after tale, on its records engraven,

Prove well that its burghers were fond of a feed
Since burst on its pathway the fast-flowing Avon,

Away to the sea, like a thirst-driven steed
Since the City of Chasms first sternly arose,
Defying the stoutest and best of her foes,
Vespasian lived in the jolliest way,
With boar-hunts and otter-hunts every day;
And the whole Third Legion every night
Sat down to a supper with great delight.
There were oysters caught on the coasts of Wales,

And salmon prime from the Severn sea,
Droves of fat oxen from Isca's vales,

And game from the waving woods of Leigh. And after the Cæna Deorum was over,

And every warrior was full to the brim,
(While the neophyte heroes began to discover

The gaslights were burning uncommonly dim),
They drank Vespasian's health in wine,
Of the very best Chian, with nine times nine.

And since that time, and its classical fun,

How many a Bristol Whittington,*
Of portly rotundity, solid estate,
Unparalleled appetite, wonderful weight,
Whom seals municipal nobly befitted,
Who never his prandial duties omitted,
Has rolled bimself in his easy chair,

And gazed on the spread that before him lay,
On the rosy decanters, and entremêts rare,

With the look of a man who has nothing to pay-
At those feasts which the turtle learnt to rue,
At that glorious old tavern, the Montague !

But not the invasion

Of brave old Vespasian
On the muttons and beeves of these well-supplied regions,

To fatten his legions-
That drama of eating and drinking, whose latter act
Was wine to the tune of Niagara's cataract
Nor the merriest Montague jollification,
That ever enraptured the corporation-
Was anything like the nightly meals

Which Brictric patronised every day;
Why they eat many miles of Salisbury eels,

and drank an Atlantic of giddy Tokay.
Brictric of Bristow, Algar's son,

Was a noble fellow, never a finer,
A lover of jollity, frolic, and fun,

And a ladies' man as well as a diner.
From troubadour poets he learned how to rhyme

His sweet billets-doux and most musical sonnets,
Where he told the dear charmers their looks were sublime,

And lauded their petticoats, eyelids, and bonnets.
He could sing like a seraph or opera star ;
Was a capital fist at the Spanish guitar ;
Could improvise verses to Lucy and Fanny;
Danced with just the perfection of Don Giovanni ;
Talked theology better than cleric or layman;
Fenced like a thorough disciple of Hamon ;
Wrote receipts for odontos, and hair-dyes, and hashes ;

Wore charming moustaches ;
Drove tandem divinely, without many crashes,

And patronised Moses ;

The historian supposes
His existence was matter of metempsychosis ;
That he puffed and placarded, annoying the bilious,
Under the firm of “ Moyses et Filius."
Of course, such being his qualifications,

Young Bric had a hundred ladies die for him,

And so very prodigious a number apply for him,
He was really done up with their pretty flirtations :

Dowagers ugly

Exhibited smugly
Their warm little estates, fit for dwelling in snugly;

Antiquate spinsters
Gazed at the minsters


* This honourable title belongs, as of right, to Sir John Kerle Haberfield, six times Mayor of the ancient city,

Wistfully, wishing for chimes matrimonial ;

Mammas strategetic

Had visions poetic That their daughters were lodged in his chambers baronial ; Blue-stockings admired him, and managed to say so, In hexameter verse from Ovidius Naso;

Beauties of eighteen,

Quite tired of waiting,
Blushed and looked shy, as he asked them to walk a
Minuet with him, or galope, or polka ;
Ladies of wit (is there anything horrider ?),


Bric with their elegant raillery ; He was way-layed by beauty in every corridor,

And loneliness chased him through terrace and gallery. But our hero was bent upon travel, and so

From Bristol to Folkstone one morning he drove,
Determined in search of adventure to go,

And carry through Europe the warfare of love.
At Folkstone embarked in the Comet or Star,
Mounted the paddle-box, lit a cigar,
And getting poetical rather, was trying

To recollect something some rhymer had said,
While columns of smoke to the leeward were flying,
And away in the west yachts and fishing-boats lying,
And the song of the seas to the breezes replying,

And the clouds floating merrily high overhead. The glad shore of France lay in shadow afar, Through the cloud-rifts came glimmering night's earliest star ; The track of the ship seemed a path of delight; The moon rose in radiance surpassingly bright ;What wonder, with beauty below and above, That Brictric was dreaming, and dreaming of love ?

Did he dream of that eye of celestial blue

That soon was to tease him with visions of joy?
Did he dream of those rich lips, whose ruddiest hue

Became brighter for him ?-I believe you, my boy.
And soon-to skip passport and custom-house pother,
Hotel-bills, post-horses, and various other
Little items of travelling-Brictric arrived

In the County of Baldwin, who asked him to stay,
And at Flanders no doubt had been bappily wived,

But the Destinies hit on a different way
To wind up his oddities, madnesses, schisms,
And eccentric adventurous bachelorisms.

Oh, a beauty, indeed, was the Lady Mathilde,
Full of hauteur and loveliness, stern and self-willed,
With the richest of voices, the brightest of eyes,
More radiant, more lustrous, than Sicily's skies ;
So Dian passed peerless the forests between,

In the terror of beauty—too queenly for love ;
So here, enthroned in imperial mien,

Beamed splendours that shook the stern bosom of Jove : This child of an earl, who stood equal with kings, Disdained the swift beat of young Love's happy wings.

His arrows were harmless,

His sly missiles charmless, Mathildis passed on with an exquisite scorn,

While her wooers retreated,

Dismayed and defeated,
Like timorous stars from the glances of Morn.


But Brictric the dauntless,

Whose fame is not chantless, Produced a sensation in Baldwin's old palace ;

And Mathildis the scornful

Awoke the next morn full
Of visions that Love had suggested in malice :
Before she had time for exclaiming "How is it?"
The mischievous god had made use of his visit,

And managed by sinister

Means to administer
The least taste in life of his venomous chalice.
And though she concealed it awhile from herself,

And tried as of old to seem proud and imperious,
She was utterly swayed by the petulant elf-

A slave to that royalty, divinely mysterious.

And Brictric another flirtation plunged into
(He didn't reflect it was really a sin to),
And wrote her gay verses in Tuscan and Flemish,
Provençal and French, without lameness or blemish.
At hawking and hunting he rode by her side

To whisper sweet tales in her pearl-laden ear;
While Mathildis the beautiful simpered and sighed,
As varied the tones of the preux

chevalier. He flattered her fancy with castles in Spain

Sang rondeaux and madrigals, choice and melodious,
And quoted from Amadis, Arthur, Gawain,

Read then very much, though we now think them odious.
He toyed with her ringlets in sunsbiny glades,
And kissed her in secret in moonlit arcades :
In short, he made love; and as love always made is
In much the same way, we'll leave that to the ladies.

[ocr errors]

And thus very silently Eros went on,
Till one morning at breakfast-time Brictric was gone!

Papa cried “ Parbleu ?

An odd freak of his, too
“Of course there's a letter or something, sacrebleu ?"
There was one most truly-a mignonne affair-
Pink paper, rose-fragrant, the sealing-wax rare ;
The seal no heraldic baronial crudity,
But fair Aphrodite, in sweet simi-nudity.
'Tis opened_Mathildis is beautiful now,
Proud anger is throned on the eloquent brow;
The blue eye is flashing—the ruby lip curled-

No verse-valediction,

No pretty love-fiction,
No daguerreotype sparkling in sapphire and opal,
Cut by outlandish jewellers in Constantinople-



Across the sea from Normandy Duke William's army came,
They landed on these English shores—they fought for wealth and fame;
For Godwin's gallant son had claimed to rule these mighty realms,
And gathering thunders dimm'd the sky, stout swords and plumèd helms.
Behold! the Norman archers come_hark! to the battle-cry-
Hark! to the tramp of countless feet as the fierce host sweeps by!
And noble Harold courts the fray, who no defeat may know :
Hurrah ! hurrah for England I-down with the Norman foe!

« ПредишнаНапред »