Изображения страниц

Within those silent chambers where they dwell
In happy intercourse?

4 And I am there!

Ah! little thought I, when in school I sat,
A schoolboy on his bench, at early dawn
Glowing with Roman story, I should live
To tread the Appian, once an avenue
Of monuments most glorious, palaces,
Their doors sealed up and silent as the night,
'Die dwellings of the illustrious dead ; — to turn
Toward Tiber, and, beyond the city gate,
Pour out my unpremeditated verse,
Where on his mule I might have met so oft
Horace" himself; — or climb the Palatine,1'
Dreaming of old Evander" and his guest, —
Inscribe my name on some broad aloe-leaf,
That shoots and spreads within those very walla
Where Virgil" read aloud his tale divine,
Where his voice faltered, and a mother wept
Tears of delight!

5. But what a narrow space

Just underneath! In many a heap the ground
Heaves, as though Ruin in a frantic mood
Had done his utmost. Here and there appears,
As left to show his handiwork, not ours,
An idle column, a half-buried arch,
A wall of some great temple. It was once
The Forum," whence a mandate, eagle-winged,
Went to the ends of the earth. Let us descend,
Slowly. At every step much may be lost.
The very dust we tread stirs as with life;
And not the lightest breath that sends not up
Something of human grandeur. We are come,
Are now where once the mightiest spirits met
In terrible conflict; this, while Rome was free,
The noblest theatre on this side heaven!

6. Here the first Brutus" stood, — when o'er the corse Of her so chaste all mourned, — and from his cloud

That ran with blood, the blood of his own child,
Virginius" called down vengeance.
Here Cincinnatus" passed, his plough the while
Left in the furrow ; and how many more
Whose laurels fade not, who still walk the earth,
Consuls, dictators, still in curule" pomp
Sit and decide, and, as of old in Rome,
Name but their names, set every heart on fire!

[ocr errors]

7. Now all is changed; and here, as in the wild,

The day is silent, dreary as the night;

None stirring, save the herdsman and his herd,

Savage alike; or they that would explore,

And learnedly discuss; or they that como

(And there are many who have crossed the earth)

That they may give the hours to meditation,

And wander, often saying to themselves,

"This was the Roman Forum!" Rogers.


1. The Pleasures Op Hope. Campbell.

At summer eve, when Heaven's ethereal bow
Spans with bright arch the glittering hills below,
Why to yon mmntnin turns the musing eye,
Whose sunbright summit mingles with the sky?
Why do those cljffsjif shadowy tint appear
More sweet than all the landscape smilmg near?
"f is distance lends enchantment to the view,
And robes the mountain in its aziwe hue.
Thus, with delight, we linger to suxwjy
The promised joys of life's unmeasured way;
Thus from afar each dim-disoevered scene
More pleasing seems than all the past hath been
And every form that Fancy can repair,
From dark oblivion, glows divinely there.

2. Fame. Pope.

Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favors call

She comes unlooked for, if she comes at all.

But if the purchase cost so dear a price

As soothing Folly, or exalting Vice,

O! if the Muse" must flatter lawless sway,

And follow still where Fortune leads the way,—

Or if no basis bear my rising name,

But the fallen ruins of another's fame, —

Then teach me, Heaven! to scorn the guilty bays,"

Drive from my breast that wretched lust of praise;

Unblemished let me live, or die unknown;

0, grant an honest fame, or grant me none!

, 3. Death. Youngv

Why start at death! Where is he? Death arrived
Is past; not come, or gone,— he's never here!
Ere hope, sensation foils; black-boding man
Receives, not suffera, death's tremen«k>us blow.

The knell, the shrDud, the mattock, and the grave,
The deep damp vault, the darkness, and the worm,
These are the ougbears of a winter's eve,
The terrors of the living, not the dead.
Imagination's fool, and error's wretch,
Man makes a death which Nature never made *
Then on the point of his own taney falls,
And feels a thousand deaths in fearing one.

4. Kosciusko." Campbell.

O! bloodiest picture in the book of time,
Sarmatia" fell, unwept, without a crime;
Found not a generous friend, a pitying foe,
Strength in her arms, nor mercy in her woe!
Dropped from her nerveless grasp the shattered spear,
Closed her bright eye, and curbed her high career ; —
Hope for a season bade the world farewell,
And Freedom shrieked as Kosciusko fell!

5. The Captive's Dreams.Mrs. Hemans.

I dream of all things free! of a gallant, gallant bark,
That sweeps through storm and sea like an arrow to its mark
Of a stag that o'er the hills goes bounding in its glee;
Of a thousand flashing rills, — of all things glad and free.
I dream of some proud bird, a bright-eyed mountain king!
In my visions I have heard the rushing of his wing.
I follow some wild river, on whose breast no sail may be;
Dark woods around it shiver, — I dream of all things free;
Of a happy forest child, with the fawns and flowers at play,
Of an Indian midst the wild, with the stars to guide his way;
Of a chief his warriors leading, of an archer's greenwood tree:
My heart in chains is bleeding, and I dream of all things free!

6. On Ancient Greece. Byron

Clime of the unforgotten brave ! —
Whose land from plain to mountain-cave
Was Freedom's home or Glory's grave —
Shrine of the mighty! can it be
That this is all remains of thee?
Approach, thou craven," crouching slave!
Say, is not this Thermopylae?
These waters blue that round you lave,
O, servile offspring of the free! —
Pronounce what sea, what shore is this t —
The gulf, the rock of Salamis!
These scenes — their story not unknown —
Arise, and make again your own;
Snatch from the ashes of your sires
The embers of their "former fires,
And he .who in the strife expires

Will add to theirs a name of fear,
That Tyranny shall quake to hear,
And leave his sons a hope, a fame,
They too will rather die than shame;
For Freedom's battle once begun,
Bequeathed by bleeding sire to son,
Though baffled oft, is ever won.

7. The Banyan-tree.Moore.

They tell us of an Indian tree,

Which, howsoe'er the sun and sky
May tempt its boughs to wander free,

And shoot and blossom wide and high,
Far better loves to bend its arms

Downward again to that dear earth,
From which the life that fills and warms

Its grateful being first had birth.
'T is thus, though wooed by flattering friends,

And fed with fame, — if fame it be, —
This heart, my own dear mother, tends,

With love's true instinct, back to thee!

8. Gayett.Cowper.

W hom call we gay 1 that honor has been long
The boast of mere pretenders to the name.
The innocent are gay — the lark is gay,
That dries his feathers, saturate with dew,
Beneath the rosy cloud, while yet the beams
Of day-spring overshoot his humble nest.
The peasant, too, a witness of his song,
Himself a songster, is as gay as he.
But save me from the gayety of those
Whose headaches nail them to a noonday bed;
And. save me, too, from theirs whose haggard eyes
Flash desperation, and betray their pangs
For property stripped off by cruel chance; —
From gayety, that fills the bones with pain,
The mouth with blasphemy, the heart with woe.


1. To say that he was the greatest man that ever lived is to provoke a useless controversy, and comparisons that lead to nothing, between Shakspeare and Caesar, Shakspeare and Charlemagne," Shakspeare and Cromwell;" to say that he was the greatest intellect that ever lived is to bring the shades of Aristotle, and Is ito, and Bacon, aid Newton, and all your othei systematic thinkers, grumbling about us, with demands for a definition of intellect, which we are by no means in a position to give; nay, finally, to say that he is the greatest poet that the world has produced (a thing which we would certainly say, were we provoked to it) would be unnecessarily to hurt the feelings of Homer, and Soph'ocles, and Dante, and Milton. What we will say, then, and what we will challenge the world to gainsay, is that he was the greatest expresser that ever lived. This is glory enough, and it leaves the other question open.

2. Other men may have led, on the whole, greater and moro impressive lives than he; other men, acting on their fellows through the same medium of speech that he used, may have expended a greater power of thought, and achieved a greater intellectual effect, in one consistent direction; other men, too (though this is very questionable), may have contrived to issue the matter which they did address to the world in more compact83 and perfect artistic shapes. But no man that ever lived said such splendid extem'pore" things on all subjects universally; no man that ever lived had the faculty of pouring out on all occasions such a flood of the richest and deepest language. He may have had rivals in the art of imagining situations; he had no rival in the power of sending a gush of the appropriate intellectual effusion over the image and body of a situation once conceived.

3. From the jewelled ring on an alderman's finger to the most mountainous thought or deed of man or demon, nothing suggested itself that his speech could not envelop and enfold with ease. That excessive fluency which astonished" Ben Jonson when he listened to Shakspeare in person astonishes the world yet. Abundance, ease, redundance," a plenitude of word, sound, and im'agery, which, were the intellect at work only a little less magnificent, would sometimes end in sheer braggardism and bombast," are the characteristics of Shakspeare's style. Nothing is suppressed, nothing omitted, nothing cancelled. On and on the poet flows, words, thoughts, and fancies, crowding on him as fast as he ean write, all related to the matter on hand, and all poured forth together, to rise and fall on the waves of an established ca'dence.

4. Such lightness and ease in the manner, and such prodigious wealth and depth in the matter, are combined in no other writer. How the matter was first accumulated — what proportion of it was the acquired capital of former efforts, and what proportion of it welled up in the poet's mind during and in virtue of the very act of speech — it is impossible to say; but this, at least, may be afiirmed without fear of contradiction, that there never was a mind in the world from which, when it was prick by any occa

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »