Abbildungen der Seite

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music, too,
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue ;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies ;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn ;

Hedge-crickets sing ; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

KEATS. After this beautiful imagery, the blank verse of another poet of the same period sounds somewhat prosaic;—but it has its charms:

Nay, William, nay, not so ! the changeful year
In all its due successions to my sight
Presents but raried beauties, transient all,
All in their season good. These fading leaves,
That with their rich variety of hues
Make yonder forest in the slanting sun
So beautiful, in you awake the thought
Of winter-cold, drear winter, when these trees,
Each like a fleshless skeleton shall stretch
Its bare brown boughs ; when not a flower shall spread
Its colours to the day, and pot a bird
Carol its joyaunce,—but all nature wear
One sullen aspect, bleak and desolate,
To eye, ear, feeling, comfortless alike.
To me their many-coloured beauties speak
Of times of merriment and festival,
The year's best holiday : I call to mind
The school-boy days, when in the falling leaves
I saw with eager hope the pleasant sign
Of coming Christmas ; when at morn I took
My wooden kalendar, and counting up
Once more its often-told account, shuooth'd off
Each day with more delight the daily notch.
To you the beauties of the autumnal year
Make mournful emblems, and you think of man
Doom'd to the grave's long winter, spirit-broken,
Bending beneath the burthen of his years,
Sense-dulld and fretful, “ full of aches and pains,”
Yet clinging still to life. To me they show
The calm decay of nature, when the mind
Retains its strength, and in the languid eye
Religion's holy hope kindles a joy
That makes old age look lovely. All to you
Is dark and cheerless ; you in this fair world
See some destroying principle abroad,
Air, earth, and water, full of living things,
Each on the other preying ; and the ways
Of man, a strange, perplexing labyrinth,

Where crimes and miseries, each producing each,
Render life loathsome, and destroy the hope
That should in death bring comfort. Oh, my friend,
That thy faith were as mine! that thou couldst sce
Death still producing life, and evil still
Working its own destruction ; couldst behold
The strifes and troubles of this troubled world
With the strong eye that sees the promised day
Dawn through this night of tempest! All things then
Would minister to joy ; then should thine heart
Be heald and harmonized, and thou wouldst fccl
God always, every where, and all in all.


SHELLEY, the great master of harmony, has one of his finest lyrics for Autumn :

'The warm sun is failing, the bleak wind is wailing,
The bare boughs are sigbing, the pale flowers are dying,

And the year
On the earth her death-bed, in a shroud of leaves dead,

Is lying
Come, months, come away,
From November to May,
In your

saddest array ;
Follow the bier

Of the dead cold year,
And like dim shadows watch by her scpulchre.

The chill rain is falling, the vight-worm is crawling,
The rivers are swelling, the thunder is knelling

For the year ;
The blithe swallows are flown, and the lizards each gone

To his dwelling;
Come, months, come away,
Put on white, black, and grey,
Let your light sisters play-
Ye follow the bier

Of the dead cold year,

And make her grave green with tear on tear. Who has not felt that Autumn is a mournful type of human life? Who ever expressed the feeling more tenderly than ShaksPERE?

That time of year thou mayest in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was noiirish'd by.

This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must lcare cre long.

The Ayrsbire ploughman paints the season with his own transparent colours:

'Twas when the stacks get on their winter-liap,
And thack and rape secure the toil-won crap;
Potato bings are snugged up frae skaith
O'coming winter's biting, frosty breath;
The bees, rejoicing o'er their summer toils,
Unnumber'd buds an' flow'rs' delicious spoils,
Seal'd up with frugal care in massive waxen piles,
Are doom’d by man, that tyrant o'er the weak,
The death o' devils, smoor’d wi' brimstone rock:
The thund'ring guns are heard on ev'ry side,
The wounded coveys, recling, scatter wide;
The feather'd field-mates, bound by nature's tie,
Sires, mothers, children, in one carnage lie:
(What warm poetic heart, but inly bleeds,
And execrates man's savage, ruthless deeds!)
Nae mair the flow'r in field or meadow springs
Nae mair the grove with airy concert rings,
Except perhaps the robin's whistling glee,
Proud o' the height o' some bit half-lang tree:
The hoary morns precede the sunny days,
Mild, calm, serene, wide spreads the noontide blaze,
While thick the gossamour waves wanton in the rays.

COLERIDGE looks upon the fields with the unerring eye of the poet-naturalist :

The tedded hay, the first fruits of the soil,
The tedded hay and corn-sheaves in one field,
Show summer gone, ere come. The fox-glove tall
Sheds its loose purple bells, or in the gust,
Or when it bends beneath the up-springing lark,
Or mountain-finch alighting. And the rose
(In vain the darling of successful love)
Stands like some boasted beauty of past years,
The thorns remaining, and the flowers all gone.
Nor can I find, amid my lonely walk
By rivulet, or spring, or wet road-side,
That blue and bright-eyed floweret of the brook,
Hope's gentle gem, the sweet Forget-me-not!

One of our own day not less poetically and truly describes the Autumn flower-garden :

A spirit haunts the year's last hours
Dwelling amid these yellowing bowers:

To bimself he talks ;
For at eventide, listening carnestly,
At his work you may hear him sob and sigh

In the walks;

Earthward he boweth the heavy stalks
Of the mouldering flowers.

Heavily hangs the broad sunflower

Over its grave i' the earth so chilly;
Heavily hangs the hollyhock,

Heavily hangs the tiger-lily.
The air is damp, and hush'd, and close,
As a sick man's room when he taketh reposc

An hour before death;
My very heart faints and my whole soul grieves
At the moist rich smell of the rotting leaves,

And the breath

Of the fading edges of box beneath,
And the year's last rose.

Heavily hangs the broad sunflower

Over its grave i' the earth so chilly;
Heavily hangs the hollyhock,

Heavily hangs the tiger-lily.



FIELDING. [HENRY FIELDING, “ the father of the English novel,” as he has been justly called, was born in 1707. He was the son of General Fielding, and was connected with noble fanilies. His means, however, were limited; his habits expensive. His life was one of difficulty in its middle period, and of physical suffering in his decline. He died at the age of 47. Fielding's first novel was · Joseph Andrews,' which was intended as a burlesque on Richardson’s ‘Pamela.' But, unlike most satirists, the author was led away by his genius to produce something more enduring than banter or travestie. He found out his power of delineating character--and “Parson Adams' will live as long as the language. •Tom Jones' is unquestionably Fielding's greatest work. • Amelia' is more unequal. How greatly is it to be deplored that productions of such undoubted genius have corrupting and grovelling passages in them in a great degree the result of the habits of the age in which they were produced -- which exclude them from general acceptation! "Jonathan Wild, from which our extract is taken, is a remarkable production, full of that knowledge of the world which made Fielding the first of novelists, and the most acute of magistrates.)

Jonathan Wild had every qualification necessary to form a great man. As his most powerful and predominant passion was ambition, so nature had, with consummate propriety, adapted all his faculties to the attaining those glorious ends to which this passion directed him. He was extremely ingenious in inventing designs, artful in contriving the means to accomplish his purposes, and resolute in executing them; for as the most exquisite cunning and most undaunted boldness qualified him for any undertaking, so was he not restrained by any of those weaknesses which disappoint the views of mcan and vulgar souls, and which are comprehended in one general term of honesty, which is a corruption of HONOSTY, a word derived from what the Greeks call an ass. He was entirely free from those low vices of modesty and good-nature, which, as he said, implied a total negation of human greatness, and were the only qualities which absolutely rendered a man incapable of making a considerable figure in the world. His lust was inferior only to his ambition ; but as for what simple people call love, he knew not what it was. His avarice was immense, but it was of the rapacious not of the tenacious kind; his rapaciousness was indeed so violent, that nothing ever contented him but the whole : for, however considerable the share was which his coadjutors allowed him of a booty, he was restless in inventing means to make himself master of the smallest pittance reserved by them. He said laws were made for the use of prigs only, and to secure their property ; they were vever, therefore, more perverted than when their edge was turned against these ; but that this generally happened through their want of sufficient dexterity. The character which he most valued himself upon, and which he principally honoured in others, was hypocrisy. His opinion was, that no one could carry priggism very far without it; for which reason, he said, there was little greatness to be expected in a man who acknowledged his vices, but always much to be hoped from him who professed great virtues : wherefore, though he would always shun the person whom he discovered guilty of a good action, yet he was never deterred by a good character, which was more commonly the effect of profession than of action ; for which reason he himself was always very liberal of honest professions, and had as much virtue and goodness in his mouth as a saint; never in the least scrupling to swear by his honour, even to those who knew him the best ; nay, though he held good-nature and modesty in the highest contempt, he constantly practised the affectation of both, and recommended this to others, whose welfare, on his own account, he wished well to. He laid down several maxims as the certain methods of attaining greatness, to which, in his own pursuit of it, he constantly adhered. As

1. Never to do more mischief to another than was necessary to the effecting his purpose ; for that mischief was too precious a thing to be thrown away.

2. To know no distinction of men from affection ; but to sacrifice all with equal readiness to his interest.

3. Never to communicate more of an affair than was necessary to the person who was to execute it.

4. Not to trust him who hath deceived you, nor who knows he hath been deceived

by you.

5. To forgive no enemy; but to be cautious, and often dilatory, in revenge.

6. To shun poverty and distress, and to ally himself as close as possible to power and riches.

7. To maintain a constant gravity in his countenance and behaviour, and to affect wisdom on all occasions.

8. To foment eternal jealousies in his gang one of another.

9. Never to reward any one equal to his merit ; but always to insinuate that the reward was above it.

10. That all men were knaves or fools, and much the greater number a composition of both.

11. That a good name, like money, must be parted with, or at least greatly risked, in order to bring the owner any advantage.

12. That virtues, like precious stones, were easily counterfeited ; but the counterfeits in both cases adorned the wearer equally, and that very few had knowledge or discernment sufficient to distinguish the counterfeit jewel from the real.

13. That many men were undone by not going deep cnough in roguery; as in gaming any man may be a loser who doth not play the whole game.

14. That men proclaim their own virtues, as shopkeepers expose their goods, in order to profit by them.

15. That the heart was the proper seat of hatred, and the countenance of affection and friendship.

He had many more of the same kind, all equally good with these, and which were after his decease found in his study, as the twelve excellent and celebrated rules were in that of King Charles I. ; for he never promulgated them in his lifetime, not having them constantly in his mouth, as some grave persons have the rules of virtue and morality, without paying the least regard to them in their actions ; whereas our hero, by a constant and steady adherence to his rules in conforming every thing he did to them, acquired at length a settled habit of walking by them, till at last he

« ZurückWeiter »