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bit” that of “ Misses an unit,” and “ Lightnings are loosened” of “Peace let the dew send.” Instances like these tempt us to attach a special significance to what sounds like a confession, in the second stanza of “Two in the Campagna :"
For me, I touched a thought, I know,
Has tantalised me many times,
To catch at and let go.
which he did “ catch at.” But we too may as well let go this catching at, and carping at, his demerits, and pass on, in a less captious mood, to his deserts. Not that we affect to enumerate, classify, and duly signalise the latter-mille fois non! But neither are they to be taken for granted, to the extent of being ignored altogether. A word or two, then, on a Representative one or two of these Men and Women. “ Saul” is a vigorous and highly graphic sketch of a scene between the first king of Israel and the golden-haired son of Jesse, whose harp had power to soothe and sober the moody monarch. It needs more than a single reading, of the railway reading sort, to follow out its purport; but there is, on the whole, & power and beauty in it of a less jagged outline and misty envelopment than belong to the majority of this collection. Many of its lines are fluent and musical, with a flow and music such as this : Then I tuned my barp,- took off the lilies we twine round its chords Lest they snap 'neath the stress of the noontide—those sunbeams like swords ! And I first played the tune all our sheep know, as, one after one, So docile they come to the pen-door, till folding be done. They are white and untorn by the bushes, for lo, they have fed Where the long grasses stifle the water within the stream's bed; And now one after one seeks its lodging, as star follows star Into eve and the blue far above us,--so blue and so far!
Numerous passages, too, it contains of that rich picturesque genre which marks some of the poet's happiest earlier works; for example : Oh, the wild joys of living ! the leaping from rock up to rockThe strong rending of boughs from the fir-tree,-the cool silver shock Of the plunge in a pool's living water,—the hunt of the bear, And the sultriness showing the lion is couched in his lair. And the meal -- the rich dates-yellowed over with gold dust divine, And the locust's-flesh steeped in the pitcher; the full draught of wine, And the sleep in the dried river-channel where bulrushes tell That the water was wont to go warbling so softly and well.
Another Scriptural study, and of still greater interest if not excellence, is that entitled * An Epistle,” indited in the poet's best blank verse (which at its best is very good indeed), and having for its subject Lazarus of Bethany in his resurrection-life, as seen and speculated upon by an Arab physician, “Karshish, the picker up of learning's crumbs, the not incurious in God's handiwork." The epistle is supposed to be written about the time of the Romans' advance on Jerusalem :
The man-it is one Lazarus a Jew,
body's habit wholly laudable,
Preposterously, at cross purposes. Which of us all, in reading the fourth gospel, has not mused in awful dreamy wonder on the looks, and ways, and words of Lazarus redivivus ? and longed to overhear from those lips that Death had kissed as his own, the secrets of that prison-house from which he so strangely had been freed, some news of that bourne from which no traveller returns ? As surely as we have all thus muced and longed, shall we all be attracted to know what a poet of earnest, thoughtful, religious feeling has made of this conjectural theme. It has a psychological value of an unwonted kind.
There is another long piece in blank verse, of philosophic and religious interest, called “ Cleon," which discusses the problem of life from the stand-point of an inquiring mind, unenlightened by divine revelationguessing at truth, groping in the darkness after light, daring to imagine a hereafter," some future state," "unlimited in capability for joy, as this is in desire for joy."
He must have done so-were it possible. In a sort of post-scriptum to this letter from Cleon the poet to Protos the tyrannos, the perplexed and finally desponding seeker is made, with pregnant effect, to allude in cavalier obiter terms to “one called Paulus," to whom Protos had despatched a messenger on some errand, to Cleon unknown and uncared for :
We have heard his [Paulus] fame
“Cleon” will repay a reflective and time-taking perusal. So, on a cognate topic, or group of topics, but radically alien in style, will the polemical nondescript yclept Bishop Blougram's Apology”-a tissue of violent contrasts and provoking incongruities—fine irony and coarse abuse, subtle reasoning and halting twaddle, the lofty and the low, the refined and the vulgar, earnestness and levity, outpoured pell-mell by the blustering yet "pawky” bishop over his wine. But what is probably the most perfect specimen of even, sustained, and lofty excellence afforded in this collection, is the dramatic fragment, “ In a Balcony"-than which there are few better things in the best of its author's dramas; and that is saying more, by a great deal, than would be supposed by idle play-goers and railway-bookstall-keepers, whose gauge of excellence is the run of so many nights, and the run on so many copies
. Let such as doubt Mr. Browning's possession of a real dramatic talent, listen to his speakers “In a Balcony," and note the construction and quietly markedout action of the piece; and they will surely abate their scepticism, or the avowal of it. We had intended to quote several excerpts from these scenes, but space is wanting, and the reader will of course enjoy them fifty times as much in their proper place; for to cull elegant extracts from any drama good for anything, is almost a crime against the dramatist or rather, 'tis worse than a crime, 'tis a blunder. Nor will we drag in disjecta membra from “ Andrea del Sarto," painting from himself and to himself,—from “ A Grammarian's Funeral,” that piquant elegy on an old scholar wbo, the ruling passion strong in death, was heard still, " through the rattle,” settling the busing of ori and the proper basis of 'ovv, and (after he was dead up to the waist) the true * doctrine of the enclitie De”-or from that jovial confession of “ Fra Lippo Lippi,” escaped from a three weeks' painting job, to overtake, in the fresh air (past midnight though), the “hurry' he has overheard from his open window, of “ feet and little feet, a sweep of lute-strings, laughs, and whifts of song.". But it were unfair to quote no one piece entire; so here is one more thau commonly fitted for popularity:
Beautiful Evelyn Hope is dead
Sit and watch by her side an hour.
She plucked that piece of geranium-flower,
Little has yet been changed, I think-
Save two long rays thro' the hinge's chink.
Perhaps she had searcely heard my name-
Her life had many a hope and aim,
And now was quiet, now astir-
And the sweet white brow is all of her.
Is it too late, then, Evelyn Hope ?
What, your soul was pure and true, The good stars met in your horoscope, Made
you of spirit, fire, and dewAnd just because I was thrice as old,
And our paths in the world diverged so wide, Each was nought to each, must I be told ?
We were fellow-mortals, nought beside ? No, indeed! for God above
Is great to grant, as mighty to make, And creates the love to reward the love,
I claim you still, for my own love's sake! Delayed it may be for more lives yet,
Thro' worlds I shall traverse, not a fewMuch is to learn and much to forget
Ere the time be come for taking you. But the time will come,-at last it will,
When, Evelyn Hope, what meant, I shall say, In the lower earth, in the years long still,
That body and soul so pure and gay ? Why your hair was amber I shall divine,
And your mouth of your own geranium's red And what
would do with me, in fine, In the new life come in the old one's stead.
I have lived, I shall say, so much since then,
Given up myself so many times, Gained me the gains of various men,
Ransacked the ages, spoiled the climes ; Yet one thing, one, in my soul's full scope,
Either I missed, or itself missed me And I want and find you, Evelyn Hope !
What is the issue ? let us see!
My heart seemed full as it could hold-
And the red young mouth and the hair's young gold.
See, I shut it inside the sweet cold hand. There, that is our secret! go to sleep;
You will wake, and remember, and understand.
The night was wailing, like a widowed queen,
cloud covered all the brooding sky,