Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

On the hedge elms in the narrow lane

Sull swung the spikes of corn: Dear Lord! it seems but yesterday,

Young Edward's marriage-morn.

Up through that wood behind the church,

There leads from Edward's door A mossy track, all over-bough'd

For half a mile or more.

And from their house-door by that track

The Bride and Bridegroom went; Sweet Mary, though she was not gay,

Seem'd cheerful and content.

But when they to the church-yard came,

I've beard poor Mary say,
As soon as she stepp'd into the sun,

Her heart it died away.

And when the vicar join'd their hands,

Her limbs did creep and freeze ; But when they pray'd, she thought she saw

Her mother on her knees.

which must be supposed to have been narrated in the first and becond parts, is as follows.

Edvand, a young farmer, meets, at the house of Ellen, her boson-friend. Mary, and commences an acquaintance, which ends in a mutual attachment. With her consent, and by the Bride of their compinon friend Ellen, he announces his hopes and intentions to Mary's Mother, a widow-woman bordering en her fortieth year, and from constant health, the possession of a compeient property, and from having had no other children bor Mary and another daughter (the Father died in their infancy). retaining, for the greater part, her personal attractions and comelinees of appearance; but a woman of low education and violent temper. The answer which she at once returned to Essard's application was remarkable" Well, Edward ! you are a handsome young fellow, and you shall have my Daughter." From this time all their wooing passed under the Mother's eye; and, in fine, she became herself enamoured of her future Soo-in-law, and practised every art, both of endearment and of ealumoy, to transfer bis affections from her daughter to bervell. The outlines of the Tale are positive facts, and of no very distant date, though the author has purposely allered the names and the scene of action, as well as invented the characters of the parties and the detail of the incidents.) Edward, how eret, though perplexed by her strange detraction from her daughter's good qualities, yet in the innocence of his own heart still mistaking her increasing fondness for motherly affection; she, at length overcome by her miserable passion, alter much abase of Mary's temper and moral tendencies, exclaimed with violent emotion-" (Edward indeed, indeed, she is not fit for 900-she has not a heart to love you as you deserve. It is I that love you! Marry me, Edward! and I will this very day settle ail my property on you."— The Lover's eyes were now opesed; and thus taken by surprise, whether from the effect of the horror which he felt, acting as it were hysterically on his nervous system, or that at the first moment he lost the sense of the proposal in the feeling of its strangeness and absurdity, be flung ter from him and burst into a fit of laughter. Irritated by this almost to frenzy, the woman fell on her kncer, and in a lord voice that approached to a erream, she prayed for a Curso both on him and on her own Child. Mary happened to be in the room directly above them, heard Edward's laugh and her Mother'e blasphemous prayer, and fainted away. He, hearing the fal), ran up stairs, and taking her in his arms, carried her off to Ellen's home; and after some fruitless attempts on her part toward a reconciliation with her Mother, she was married to him.-And here the third part of the Tale berins.

I was not led to choore this story from any partiality to tragic, much lesz to monstrous events (though at the time that J composed the verres, somewhat more than twelve years ago, I was lese arerre to such subjects than at present), but from finding in it a striking proof of the possible effect on the imagination, from an idea violently and suddenly impressed on it. I had been reading Bryan Edwards's account of the effect of the Oby Witchcraft on the Negroes in the West Indies, and Hearne's deeply interesting Anecdotes of similar workings on the imagination of the Copper Indians (those of my readers who have it in their power will be well repaid for the trouble of referring to those works for the passages alluded to), and I conceised the design of showing that instances of this kind are not Derpliar to savage or barbarous tribes, and of illustrating the mode in which the mind is affected in these cases, and the progress and symptoms of the morbid action on the fancy from the beginning.

(The Tale is supposed to be narrated by an old Sexton, in a country church-yard, to a Traveller whose curiosity had been awakened by the appearance of three graves, close by each other, to two only of which there were grave-stones. On the first of these were the name, and dates, as usual: on the second, no name, but only a date, and the words, The Mercy of God is infinite.)

And o'er the church-path they return'd

I saw poor Mary's back, Just as she stepp'd beneath the boughs

Into the mossy track.

Her feet upon the mossy track

The married maiden set: That moment I have heard her say—

She wish'd she could forget.

The shade o'erflushd her limbs with heat

Then came a chill like death: And when the merry bells rang out,

They seem'd to stop her breath.

Beneath the foulest Mother's curse

No child could ever thrive: A Mother is a Mother still,

The holiest thing alive.

So five month's passid: the Mother still

Would never heal the strife; But Edward was a loving man,

And Mary a fond wife.

“My sister may not visit us,

My mother says her nay: O Edward! you are all to me, I wish for your sake I could be

More lifesome and more gay.

“I'm dull and sad ! indeed, indeed

I know I have no reason! Perhaps I am not well in health,

And 't is a gloomy season."

PART II.
THE grapes upon the vicar's wall

Were ripe as ripe could be ;
And yellow leaves in sun and wind

Were falling from the tree.

'Twas a drizzly time-no ice, no snow!

And on the few fine days She stirr'd not out, lest she might meet

Her Mother in her ways. But Ellen, spite of miry ways

And weather dark and dreary, Trudged every day to Edward's house, And made them all more cheery.

55

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Dear Ellen did not weep at all,

But closelier did she cling, And turn'd her face, and look'd as if She saw some frightful thing.

[blocks in formation]

And oft she said, I'm not grown thin!

And then her wrist she spann'd; And once, when Mary was downcast,

She took her by the hand,
And gazed upon her, and at first

She gently press'd her hand; Then harder, till her grasp at length

Did gripe like a convulsion ! Alas! said she, we ne'er can be Made happy by compulsion !

Within this arbor, which was still

With scarlet berries hung, Were these three friends, one Sunday morn, Just as the first bell rung.

DEJECTION;

"Tis sweet to hear a brook, 'tis sweet

To hear the Sabbath-bell, "Tis sweet to hear them both at once,

Deep in a woody dell.

AN ODE.

II..

Late, late yestreen, I saw the new Moon, His limbs along the moss, his head

With the old Moon in her arms;

And I fear, I fear, my Master dear!
Upon a mossy heap,

We shall have a deadly storm.
With shut-up senses, Edward lay:

Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens. That brook e'en on a working day Might chatter one to sleep.

I.

WELL! if the Bard was weather-wise, who made And he had pass'd a restless night,

The grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence,
And was not well in health ;

This night, so tranquil now, will not go hence The women sat down by his side,

Unroused by winds, that ply a busier trade
And talk'd as 't were by stealth.

Than those which mould yon cloud in lazy flakes,

Or the dull sobbing draught, that moans and rakes “The sun peeps through the close thick leaves,

Upon the strings of this Æolian lute,

Which better far were mute.
See, dearest Ellen! see!
"Tis in the leaves, a little sun,

For lo! the New-moon winter-bright!
No bigger than your e'e;

And overspread with phantom light,
(With swimming phantom light o'erspread

But rimm'd and circled by a silver thread) “ A tiny sun, and it has got

I see the old Moon in her lap, foretelling
A perfect glory too;

The coming on of rain and squally blast.
Ten thousand threads and hairs of light,

And oh! that even now the gust were swelling, Make up a glory, gay and bright,

And the slant night-shower driving loud and fast! Round that small orb, so blue.'

Those sounds which oft have raised me, whilst

they awed,

And sent my soul abroad, And then they argued of those rays,

Might now perhaps their wonted impulse give, What color they might be:

Might starile this dull pain, and make it move and Says this, “ they're mostly green;" says that,

live! “ They're amber-like to me.”

A grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear,
So they sat chatting, while bad thoughts

A stifled, drowsy, unimpassion d grief,
Were troubling Edward's rest;

Which finds no natural outlet, no relief,
But soon they heard his hard quick pants,

In word, or sigh, or tear-
And the thumping in his breast.

O Lady! in this wan and heartless mood,
To other thoughts by yonder throstle wood,

All this long eve, so balmy and serene, “ A Mother too!" these self-samo words Have I been gazing on the western sky, Did Edward mutter plain ;'

And its peculiar tint of yellow green: His face was drawn back on itself,

And still I gaze-and with how blank an eye!
With horror and huge pain.

And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars,
That give away their motion to the stars;

Those stars, that glide behind them or between, Both groan'd at once, for both knew well

Now sparkling, now bedimm’d, but always seen: What thoughts were in his mind;

Yon crescent Moon, as fix'd as if it grew
When he waked up, and stared like one

In its own cloudless, starless lake of blue;
That hath been just struck blind.

I see them all so excellently fair,

I see, not feel, how beautiful they are!
He sat upright; and ere the dream

III.
Had had time to depart,

My genial spirits fail, "O God forgive me! (he exclaim'd)

And what can these avail
I have torn out her heart."

To lift the smothering weight from off my breast?

It were a vain endeavor,
Then Ellen shriek'd, and forthwith burst

Though I should gaze for ever,
Into ungenile laughter;

On that green light that lingers in the west :
And Mary shiver'd, where she sat,

I may not hope from outward forms to win
And never she smiled after.

The passion and the life, whose fountains are within.

IV. Carmen reliquum in futurum tempus relegatum. To-morrow! O Lady! we receive but what we give, and To-morrow! and To-morrow!-

And in our life alone does nature live :

over

Ours is her wedding-garment, ours her shroud! Makest Devils' yule, with worse than wintry song,

And would we aught behold, of higher worth, The blossoms, buds, and timorous leaves among. Than that inanimate cold world allow'd

Thou Actor, perfect in all tragic sounds ! To the poor loveless ever-anxious crowd,

Thou mighty Poet, e'en to Frenzy bold ! Ah! from the soul itself must issue forth,

What tell'st thou now about? A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud

"T is of the Rushing of an Host in rout, Enveloping the Earth

With groans of trampled men, with smarting And from the soul itself must there be sent

wounds A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth, At once they groan with pain, and shudder with the Of all sweet sounds the life and element!

cold! V.

But hush! there is a pause of deepest silence!

And all that noise, as of a rushing crowd,
O pure of heart! thou need'st not ask of me
What this strong music in the soul may be!

With groans, and tremulous shudderings—all is What, and wherein it doth exist,

[loud ! This light, this glory, this fair luminous mist,

It tells another tale, with sounds less deep and This beautiful and beauty-making power.

A tale of less affright, Joy, virtuous Lady! Joy that ne'er was given,

And temper’d with delight, Save to the pure, and in their purest hour,

As Otway's self had framed the tender lay, Life, and Life's Emuence, Cloud at once and

"T is of a little child Shower,

Upon a lonesome wild, Joy, Lady! is the spirit and the power,

Not far from home, but she hath lost her way,

And now moans low in bitter grief and fear,
Which wedding Nature to us gives in dower
A new Earth and new Heaven,

And now screams loud, and hopes to make her mother

hear. Undreamt of by the sensual and the proud Joy is the sweet voice, Joy the luminous cloud

VIII. We in ourselves rejoice!

"T is midnight, but small thoughts have I of sleep: And thence flows all that charms or ear or sight, Full seldom may my friend such vigils keep! All melodies the echoes of that voice,

Visit her, gentle Şleep! with wings of healing, All colors a suffusion from that light.

And may this storm be but a mountain-birth,

May all the stars hang bright above her dwelling, VI.

Silent as though they watch'd the sleeping Earth! There was a time when, though my path was With light heart may she rise, rough,

Gay fancy, cheerful eyes, This joy within me dallied with distress,

Joy lift her spirit, joy'attune her voice : And all misfortunes were but as the stuff

To her may all things live, from Pole to Pole, Whence Fancy made me dreams of happiness :

Their life the eddying of her living soul !
For hope grew round me, like the twining vine,

O simple spirit, guided from above,
And fruits, and foliage, not my own, seem'd mine.
But now afflictions bow me down to earth :

Dear Lady! friend devoutest of my choice,

Thus mayest thou ever, evermore rejoice.
Nor care I that they rob me of my mirth.

But oh! each visitation
Suspends whai nature gave me at my birth,

My shaping spirit of Imagination.
For not to think of what I needs must feel,

ODE TO GEORGIANA, DUCHESS OF But to be still and patient, all I can;

DEVONSHIRE, And haply by abstruse research to steal

ON THE TWENTY-FOURTH STANZA IN HER“ PASSAGE
From my own nature all the natural Man-
This was my sole resource, my only plan :

OVER MOUNT GOTHARD."
Till that which suits a part infects the whole,
And now is almost grown the habit of my Soul.

And hail the Chapel ! bail the Platform wild !
VII.

Where Tell directed the avenging Dart,
Hence, viper thoughts, that coil aroùnd my mind,

With well-strung arm, that first preserved his Child,

Then aim'd the arrow at the Tyrant's heart.
Reality's dark dream!
I turn from you, and listen to the wind,

Which long has raved unnoticed. What a scream SPLENDOR'S fondly foster'd child!
Or agony by torture lengthen'd out

And did you hail the Platform wild, That lute sent forth! Thou Wind, that ravest Where once the Austrian fell without,

Beneath the shaft of Tell ?
Bare crag, or mountain-taim,* or blasted tree, O Lady, nursed in pomp and pleasure !
Or pine-grove whither woodman never clomb,

Whence learnt you that heroic measure ? Or lonely house, long held the witches' home,

Methinks were fitter instruments for thee, Light as a dream your days their circlets ran,
Mad Latanist! who in this month of showers, From all that teaches Brotherhood to Man;
Of dark brown gardens, and of peeping flowers, Far, far removed! from want, from hope, from fear!

Enchanting music lulld your infant ear,
• Taim is a small lake, generally, if not always, applied to obeisance, praises soothed your infant heart :
the lakes up in the mountains, and which are the feeders of Emblazonments and old ancestral crests,
those in the valleys. This address to the Storm-wind will not with many a bright obtrusive form of art,
appear extravagant to those who bave heard it at night, and
in a mountainous country.

Detain'd your eye from nature : stately vests,

« ZurückWeiter »