« ZurückWeiter »
The flowers that kindred beauty drank,
43. And all was peace around the dead. He tended still the primrose flowers, 32.
He decked with them his Mary's And while by day the man had wrought, mound, And while by night awake he lay,
In what to him were Sabbath hours He felt within a flow of thought On Henry's grave he set them round. Serene, that led him still to pray.
And sometimes when a funeral came, Before him now his daughter came With pensive eyes the train he saw; In all her truth, as if alive ;
Bareheaded stood, and so would claim Now child, now woman, still the same, His share in others' grief and awe.
45. And made his purest heart revive. 34.
But once 'twas more than this. There He thought how after Henry died
died She strove and toiled with earnest will, A worn-out widow's only good, To each small task her heart applied. A daughter, all her help and pride, Though Death within was strengthen Who toiled to gain their daily food.
Who saw their state might well con-
man's utter poverty. And so she wore away. The night
47. In which she went to Henry's home And when the burial all was o'er, Had seized her all with chilly blight, And there the mother stayed alone, And warmth again would never come. With fingers clasped, and weeping 37.
sore, She laid her down, but not to rest, She stood, for every hope was gone. For feverish dreams besieged her bed ;
48. And, with too many thoughts oppressed, But Simon crept in silence there, It seemed that thought itself was tied. And stretched his hand beneath her
view, But now with steadfast voice and eye That held five golden pieces fair, She met her father's wandering gaze,
More wealth than e'er before she And told of visions bright and highStrange visions told in darkling phrase.
“ The aching heart it cannot heal, Then swift she sank ; she could not I know," he said, “ nor give you rest; speak,
But thus you will not have to feel But lay a pale, unmoving clod, The pangs that seize the helpless At last she said, with utterance weak, breast.” “Remembering me, remember God!"
Few words she said, and went away, The thought of this, of her, of all But lighter heart that eve he bore That she to him had been before, Than he for many a weary day Began within his heart to call,
Perchance had ever felt before. wide its inmost door.
Next day began with sunbright dawn, Though seventy winters gathering still And soon to tend the grave he went ; Had choked with ice some sacred cells, From toil by sultry heat withdrawn, He felt within him now a thrill He felt his strength was overspent. That thawed the solid icicles.
He sank to earth in quiet sleep, From morning's burst to soothing eve Beside the grave his head he laid, He loitered near the hallowed spot ; And in that slumber soft and deep And though he never ceased to grieve, lle died below the Yew-tree shade. The pangs of grief he now forgot.
THOUGHTS ON ORPIIEUS.
Oì, the blessing upon and through- to a dying sound; and Alcestis fell out the whole man, of the first real, back in the shade, fainting upon the warm, green light, and genial glow supporting arm of a scarce distinguishof Spring! Not as it is seen in towns, able figure; and the music was also giving but a more brazen face to brick Gluck's, “ Le pur cara è a me la presumption, but as it steals gently vita.” We awoke--the vision passed upon the country, amid rocks and -Oh, that it would return! trees, into the deep shade, like a long But here is the most substantive premourned spirit returning re-embodied sence of it still before us. Here lie the from the dead, bearing at once the sun-lit pages worthy of such illuminatwofold charm of earthly and Elysian tion- Euripides, Virgil
, Ovid, Orloveliness. Such was Alcestis—Al. pheus, Shakspeare; and, apart, what cestis! the restored Alcestis! We is this modest volume ? Elton! His have been reading the beautiful tale- tale, too, is of Orpheus—it is a the volume of Euripides is open upon dream. We must, however, keep up the now growing grass-our scholars, our character of Master, and hear whose youthful, hopeful hearts, drew our class. The tale of Orpheus is, in from the gentle Greek generosity, doubtless, the original of the plays. and the sweet passion, even hence in. And how simple the story is ! Or. cipient, and soon ready to burst the pheus, a man-more, a poet-a husbud, and open with the promise of band-more, an adoring husbandperfect love our scholars have bound loses his wife. Lyre in hand, he deed away like young fawns stricken, scends to the infernal regions, and by not unconscious of the pleasing wound; bis art of song obtains the boon h: and we, lying upon the sunny green,
seeks-her restoration, but upon the saw them upon
of the shade, condition that he must not look back the dark eye, as it were, of the deep in the passage to the upper
world. dell before us—and a change came He is overcome by his love, and reo'er them and us. Is it dream or gards not the condition. He looks vision? They have robed behind the back, and she is lost to him—for ever! trees, and bearded too-they present Here all is tragic, for Orpheus himus with their tasks-we take them self is torn to pieces by the Bacchants graciously.- So— they are signed, whose love he scorns. How could Euripides - Sbakspeare — Alcestis - this tale bave arisen but from a dream? the Winter's Tale. Then two come
how often does the blessedness of up behind them, and look oyer their sleep restore !— Then the waking—the shoulders. We know them instinc- looking back-and what utter desolatively- Virgil and Ovid; and there tion is there of the heart! As Wordsleans the melancholy Orpheus be- worth says of his Lucy, “ Oh! the Death the caverned rock; and deep difference to me," a fully exact transin its hollow are dimly seen Eurydice lation of the passage in Euripides of and Alcestis in parting embrace, and the exclamation of the husband of one with head averted, and in deeper Alcestis-Toni gag có pérov. shadow-Alcestis bending forwards, Admetus.-Ω σχήμα δόμων, πως and half in a reflected mysterious
εισέλθω ; light. Then came another, and took
Πώς δ' οίκήσω, μεταπίπτοντος up the lyre which Orpheus had left unheeded beside him.
Δαίμονος και οι μοι» πολύ γας το He struck; it was Gluck's “ Euridice:" " Che farò
μέσον. . senza Euridice: dove andrò senza il It is a domestic reality, and has sunk mio ben ?" Oh, the heart-piercing deep in all its possible wo into many sounds! Orpheus started up and a fond beart - thence how forlorn! rushed into the deepest wood, and the There is not among ancient fables one voice of his moaning was lost in the of deeper interest, nor set off with indistinct howling of the dimly moving greater variety in the picturesque detigers that followed the incantation of velopement of its scenery and action. his wo. Then did the measure change The dramatic pieces of the Greek,
and our own bard of Avon, though with effect—he leaves it as the one they are more drawn within the com never to be obliterated—and with admon circle of human life, and may, mirable transition passes on to give therefore, be more directly and pal some idea of the duration of his grief pably pathetic, yet want the romantic “ Seven whole months by the lonerange and wild accompaniment which ly Strymon". make the original an untiring and
Septem illum totos perhibent ex ordine ever-affecting narrative. It is one of those subjects, the embellishment of Rupe sub aëriâ, deserti ad Strymonis unwhich poetry has but vaguely defined,
dam leaving the fuller accomplishment for
Flevisse, et gelidis hæc evolvisse sub anthe sister art. The painter will find
tris, in it full scope for his genius; it com Mulcentem tigres, et agentem carmine prises a series of pictures, each vary- quercus. ing in character-it admits of sub
And how truly pathetic is the simile! limity, magnificence, tenderness, beau
and how is the cruelty and tenderness ty, richness of scenery, forest and mountain, with their subdued and lis- touched off by the epithets durus and tening monsters, leopards and tigers, implumes, and the violence of detraxit and the wild revelry of the Bacchana- and the warmth of the nest - And
then the loneliness of the grief--the lian women.
If we must act the Didascalus, the night season—the whole night ferule or a sound flogging for Ovid. “ Qualis populeå mærens Philomela sub His jejune narrative has not a single umbra beauty—it is cold and feeble. Nor Amissos queritur fætus, quos durus arashall his trite sermonizing save him. And, oh! the puerile conceit that Eu Observans nido implumes detraxit; at illa rydice did not complain, when relaps. Flet noctem, ramoque sedens miserabile ing into death and Orcus, because it carmen showed she was too much loved! Integrat, et mæstis late loca questibus imWhat business had he to prose it
plet.” away that we must all die ?
The whole tale of the Pastor Aris
tæus (whom, by the by, we do not at “ Tendimus huc omnes, hæc est domus
all pity for the loss of his bees), of ultima ; vosque Humani generis longissima regna tenetis.”
which the Orpheus forms but a part,
is, perhaps, the richest of Virgil's epiAnd his abominable conclusion merits sodes. But even in Virgil we object for him the real taking up.
to the speech of Eurydice. True, it Now let us see Virgil's account is the best that could be made for her, read it again and again—it is all Mu. but it is destructive of the shadow of sic of Affection. If sparingly told, it mystery, which throws her image upis well set, and what is told reaches on the imagination as of a creature the heart. The sole, the absorbing of love spiritualized, and as yet under passion of Orpheus breathes in the the prohibition of the human senses. inimitable hexameters--inimitable in The injunction renders her invisible, tone, and in such choice of words, that and should bave rendered her inauda substitution cannot be imagined. In ible. How striking is this yet reall this it is perfect. What a tone of maining mystery of Death upon the melancholy pervades it! Virgil leaves living imagined in the Alcestis of Eumuch of the agony of Orpheus to be ripides! Simple, too, is the story of imagined, as a thing not to be told. Alcestis. Admetus, King of ThesWe see what Orpheus saw with his saly, is fated to die. Apollo, who, mind's eye—the picture that haunted banished from the Gods, had served him_his Eurydice in the Stygian bark, him, obtains life for him, on condition never to be restored. She was even that one should die willingly in his before him in that fearful
Alcestis alone, his wife, con“ Illa quidem Stygia nabat jam frigida
sents to die for him. She dies. At the cymbâ.”
moment of her death, Hercules arrives
as a guest to the house of Admetus. Having thus shown that such was the The hospitable Admetus receives him, ever-present scene in the mind's eye concealing the cause of his grief. of Orpheus, the could add no more This, however, Hercules learns from
the servants, and determines to res- been said proverbially that still wacue Alcestis from the hands of Death. ters run deep ;' her passions are not He accordingly lies in ambush at the vehement, but in her settled mind the sepulchre, seizes, wrestles with Death, sources of pain or pleasure, love or and obtains Alcestis. Hercules re- resentment" (the last we would omit turns with her to Admetus, but does as not shown, at least in action, in that not discover her until the lamenting of Alcestis), "are, like the springs that husband has given proof of his love feed the mountain lakes, impenetraand the depth of his affliction, by re ble, unfathomable, and inexhaustible. fusing to receive her to his care, sup- Shakspeare has conveyed (as is his posing her to be one whom Hercules custom) a part of the character of (as he had declared) had won as the Hermione in scattered tonches, and prize of his toils, and requested Adme- through the impressions she produces tus to preserve until his return. The on all around her."
« The play here terminates in the restoration expressions,“most sacred lady,' dread of Alcestis to her husband. She is mistress,' ' sovereign,' with which thus, in her dying, and more full and she is addressed or alluded to; the happy restoration, the true Eurydice. boundless devotion and respect of The dim and faintly sketched charac- those around her, and their confidence ter of fable is brought out from the in her goodness and innocence, are so cold shades of Orcus into the warmth many additional strokes in the porand glow of life and love, a mere indi- trait.” There is a striking instance vidual human being, and therefore the of one of these incidental touches in more an object of our admiration and Euripides ; one of the servants speaks sympathy, breathing virtuous patience, of Alcestis as unknown endurance, and indomitable Δέσποιναν, ή μοι πασί τ' οίκίταισιν ήν affection, in her dying breath. Eury- Mýtnpe xulxin gidip peoplar ippuero, dice is the ideal personification, Alces. 'opoyés parátorova' ávàpós.—Line 772. tis the natural perfection of wedded Jove.
My mistress, who to me and all the do
mestics was Every thing in the play is made
As a mother, for from innumerable ills subservient to the developement of this
she freed us, beautiful character. She has none to support her (no female friend) in her Soothing the anger of her husband. resolution, and her husband is unable Admetus we can scarcely respect ; and, we fear, unworthy the sad office : bad as the act of allowing his wife to she is supported solely by her love- die for him is, the dialogue between her own gentle, yet firm mind. It is him and his old father, whom he upthis union of firmness and gentleness braids for not dying, instead of his that constitutes the beauty, we had wife, for him, sinks him lower in our almost said the rarity, of her character. regard than the occasion of the drama Our sympathy is kept alive by her requires—and the old man has, uncontinual dying ; there is no cessation questionably, the best of the argument. from the secret working of the doom Towards the end of the play, however, under which, whilst she suffers, she he rises, through pity for his unfeigned loses not one particle of her resolution: love and affliction, and his refusal to nor has her ebbing life less tenderness; receive his undiscovered wife brought as the life-blood chills, life lingers as to him by Hercules, somewhat in our it were in the surviving warmth of her esteem ; so that we are artfully thus affections. Mrs Jameson, in her ad- prepared entirely to sympathize with mirable work on the Female Charac- him, and finally to enter into his full ters of Shakspeare, in that of Her- happiness in having the lovely, the mione not unaptly describes Alcestis. lost Alcestis restored to him. His " She is a queen, a matron, and a aversion to look at the lady to be inmother ; she is good and beautiful, trusted to his care, and at the first royally descended; a majestic sweet- hasty look the resemblance to the form ness, a grand and gracious simplicity, of Alcestis, and his burst of feeling, an easy, unforced, yet dignified self- and wonder, and entreaty that she possession, are in all her deportment, should be removed from his sight, and in every word she utters ; she is thereupon, are perfect in dramatic one of those characters of whom it has effect.
συ δ', ώ γύναι,
And you, O lady,
This lady, that you do not utterly destroy me undone.
Δοκώ γαρ, αυτήν είσορών, γυναίκ' οράν
My wife. How like Shakspeare, where poor old Lear, in similar doubt and surprise, says,
“ Methinks I should know you, and know this man,
To be my child Cordelia.”-King Lear, Act IV., Scene 5. Thus Admetus, that the interest may be still in suspense, has the vision removed from his eyes, for they are diin with tears, and he can for awhile no longer see; and then is his grief renewed with double bitterness, as from a double loss.
9ολοί δε καρδίαν· έκ δ' όμματων
How afresh do I taste the bitterness of this grief ! The refusal of Hercules to deliver her into any other hand but that of Admetus most feelingly and naturally brings about the discovery. He receives her with averted look, and knows not that she is his wife till he is told to look at her, and see if she be like her, and be happy. The recognition (even ending in terror, lest it be unreal-some phantom conjured from the dead—is true to nature) is finely conceived. Admetus. Ω θεοί, τί λέξω; θαύμ’ ανέλπιστον τόδε:
Γυναίκα λεύσσου τήνδ' εμήν ετητύμως. .
*Η κέρτομός με θεού τις εμπλήσσει χαρά και
O Gods ! what shall I say ? unhoped for is this miracle ;
Or does some false heart-cutting joy of the God strike me with wonder?
Admetus. Oh! take care, then, that this be no phantom of the dead. And what does Alcestis say? Al- happiness ? And who would dissolve cestis ! the recovered from the dead, the spiritual awe that is around her? “ forbid to tell the secrets of that pri- — The spell of Death in Life. She son-house."
Can speech tell her speaks not. When Admetus asks why