« PreviousContinue »
And thy meek blush affronts the celandine,
The starry herald of that gentlest gale
Whose plumes are sunbeams, dipp'd in odours fine:
Well mayst thou blush ; but sad blight will be thine,
If glowing day shut frore in stormy night.
“ Still dost thou weep, Old Man? The day is bright,
And spring is near : come, take a youngster's arm;
Come, let us wander where the flocks delight
At noon to sun them, when the sun is warm;
And visit then, beyond thy uncle's farm,
The one-arch'd bridge—thy glory, and thy pride,
Thy Parthenon, the triumph of thy skill;
Which still bestrides, and long it shall bestride,
The discontented stream from hill to bill,
Laughing to scorn the moorland torrent still.
How many years hath he slept in the tomb
Who swore thy bridge would yield to one year's rain!
E’en London folks, to see and praise it, come ;
And envious masons pray, with shame and pain,
For skill like Enoch Wray's, but pray in vain.
For he could do, what others could not learn,
First having learn'd what Heaven alone can teach :
The parish idiot might his skill discern;
And younglings, with the shell upon their breech,
Left top and taw, to listen to his speech.
The barber, proudest of mankind, con fest
His equal worth—' or so the story ran'-
Whate'er he did, all own'd, he did it best;
And e'en the bricklayer, his sworn foe, began
To say, that Enoch was no common man.
Had he carved beauty in the cold white stone,
(Like Law, the unknown Phidias of our day,)
The village Angelo had quail'd to none
Wbom critics eulogize, or princes pay;
And ne'er bad Chantrey equall'd Enoch Wray!
Forgotten relic of a world that was !
But thou art not forgotten, though, alas !
Thou art become a stranger, sunny nook,
On which the changeful seasons, as they pass,
Wait ever kindly! He no more will look
On thee, warm bauk! will see thy hermit brook
No more, no more. But kindled at the blaze
Of day, thy fragrance makes thy presence known.
Behold! he counts his footsteps as he strays !
He feels that he is near thy verdure lone;
And his heart whispers, that thy flowers are blown.
Pale primrose, know'st thou Enoch ? Long ago
Thy fathers knew him ; and their child is dear,
Because he loved them. See, he bends him low,
With reverend grace, to thee-and drops a tear.
• I see thee not,' he sighs, ' but thou art bere; !
Speak to a poor blind man !' And thou canst speak
To the lone blind. Still, still thy tones can reach
His listening heart, and soothe, or bid it break.
Oh, memory hears again the thrilling speech
Of thy meek beauty! Fain his hand would reach
And pluck thee-No! that would be sacrilege."
At the opening of Book Fifth it ing-(of winter it is still called_but may be said to be the spring. The who can now tell winter from description of her coming is exqui- spring?)-whence are seen site-and fain would we go with
“ Five rivers like the fingers of a hand,” you along with Enoch Wray and Ebenezer Elliott on an Excursion to the “silvan Don," the “infant Yew. the Mountains on a beautiful morn- den,” the "raving Locksley," the
“ darkening Rivilin,” the “ cast of the Radical; but without its Sheaf brightening into gold,” the seeking at present to express any " complaining Porter, Nature's particular political opinions-dim thwarted child,” the "headlong Wic and grey it haply looketh through a ming !" Why, there are seven-but mist that might be mistaken for the Yewden, and another-which we tears. know not-are mere children. Our Mr Elliott was pleased, a good poet well describes moors. The bee while ago, in a letter-the reverse enlivens his verse, and the snake of flattering-addressed to us, and embitters it " coloured like a written with his own hard hoof of stone,” “ with cruel and atrocious a hand, to call us "a big blue
Tory eye !!!" and saddens it, bottle;”—but we bear no resemthough he be himself merry and blance to that insect, and fear not reckless, the “short-lived Grinder," to image ourselves a dragonfly, “the Dey of Straps,” “ there cough- fierce-looking as he whirrs dartingly ing at his deadly trade!” But not in all directions, but harmless as any even Christopher North can look creature that wings the air, and after “ with cruel and atrocious Tory careering in storm and sunshine eye,” on the story of the “ Lost over ferny banks, and braes, and Lad ”_Whiggish his eye never can heather-mountains, dropping down look, so long as he retains his senses at last upon the bosom of a Highland --rather far would he that it had a loch, into easy death.
THE LOST LAD.
“ Far to the left, where streams disparted flow,
Rude as his home of granite, dark and cold,
In ancient days, beneath the mountain's brow,
Dwelt with his son, a widower poor and old.
Two steeds he had, whose manes and forelocks bold
Comb ne'er had touch'd ; and daily to the town
They dragg'd the rock, from moorland quarries torn.
Years roll'd away. The son, to manhood grown,
Married his equal; and a boy was born,
Dear to the grandsire's heart. But pride and scorn,
And avarice, fang'd the mother's small grey eyes,
That dully shone, like studs of tarnish'd lead.
She poison'd soon her husband's mind with lies;
Soon nought remain'd to cheer the old man's shed,
Save the sweet boy, that nightly shared his bed.
And worse days were at hand. The son defied
The father-seized his goods, his steeds, his cart:
The old man saw, and, unresisting, sigh'd :
But when the child, unwilling to depart,
Clung to his knees, then spoke the old man's heart
In gushing tears. · The floor,' he said, “is dry:
Let the poor boy sleep with me this one night.'—
• Nay,' said the mother; and she twitch'd awry
Her rabid lip; and dreadful was the sight,
When the dwarf'd vixen dash'd, with fiendish spite,
Her tiny fist into the old man's face,
While he, soft-hearted giant, sobb’d and wept.
But the child triumph'd! Rooted to the place,
Clasping the aged knees, his hold he kept,
And once more in his grandsire's bosom slept.
And nightly still, and every night, the boy
Slept with his grandsire, on the rush-strewn floor,
Till the old man forgot his wrongs, and joy
Revisited the cottage of the moor.
But a sad night was darkening round his door.
The snow had melted silently away,
And, at the gloaming, ceased the all-day rain;
But the child came not. Wherefore did he stay?
The old man rose, nor long look'd forih in vain;
The stream was bollowing from the bills amain,
And screams were mingled with its sullen roar :
• The boy is in the burn!' said he, dismay'd,
And rush'd forth, wild with anguish. From the shore
He plung’d; then, staggering, with both hands display'd,
Caught, screaming, at the boy, who shriek'd for aid,
And sank, and rais'd his hands, and rose, and scream'd !
He leap'd; he struck o'er eddying foam ; he cast
His wilder'd glance o'er waves that yelp'd and gleam'd;
And wrestled with the stream, that grasp'd him fast,
Like a bird struggling with a serpent vast.
Still, as he miss'd his aim, more faintly tried
The boy to scream; still down the torrent went
The lessening cries; and soon far off, they died ;
While o'er the waves, that still their boom forth sent,
Descended, coffin-black, the firmament.
Morn came : the boy return'd not : noon was nigh;
And then the mother sought the hut in haste :
There sat the wretched man, with glaring eye;
And in his arms the lifeless child, embraced,
Lay like a darkening snow-wreath on the waste.
• God curse thee, dog, what hast thou done ?' she cried,
And fiercely on his horrid eyeballs gazed :
Nor hand, nor voice, nor dreadful eyes replied;
Still on the corpse he stared with head unraised;
But in his fix'd eyes light unnatural blazed,
For Mind had left them, to return no more.
Man of the wither'd heart-strings! is it well ?-
Long in the grave bath slept the maniac boar ;
But of the “ Lost Lad' still the mountains tell,
When shriek the spirits of the hooded fell,
And, many-voiced, comes down the foaming snow."
From none of the next three She makes an attempt--not ex-
Books can we quote; there is abun- actly, perhaps, on the chastity—but
dance of good things in them, but on the widowerhood of the Cente-
taken together, they are not unlike narian-But rather boldly than skil-
one of the Poet's moors. Here a fully he effects a retreat,
flat, black if not barren-there a
pretty green patch of pasture-and “And hears her laugh of rage behind him
there a quagmire, pretty and green
too-with a pure spring in its bo-
som, and fringed with cresses-in
Through the whole of the succeedScotland called aptly souracks. There ing Book Enoch dreams a dream. And you see a small old house-whether
the one again after it consists entirely inhabited or not, it is hard to say execution, and insanity-a tragedy
of a dismal but terrible tale of murder, for it has an uncertain look of life, too nearly affecting Enoch Wrayand yet no smoke issues from the chimney—and that, there, is not a
the murderess-as she is calledhouse at all, though it is like one, been bis own daughter-in-law. His
though no murderess at all—having
but only a grey stone, and on its top
a hawk. Lo! there is snow on the son, Joseph, a poacher, had pre-
ground—and what brings here Enoch viously died in jail.
But of the ludicrous and the terri-
Wray? Why, to visit Dame Alice
Green, who has been five times a ble we get rid, towards
the close of buxom widow, and though now on
this extraordinary poem; its perva
ding spirit—with flashes of scorn, and the wrong side of fourscore
indignation, and grief between then “ Still she hath eyes—one red and blind, becomes that of a profound melanone green ;
choly-nor are there wanting touchAnd in her upper jaw is yet a tooth,
es, and more than touches, of the Which, when she laughs and yawns,
true moral sublime. It is Aprilmay well be seen,
and the Man of a Hundred years is With two below, and bluish stumps be. never to see May. Secret sorrow tween."
oppresses him-he sickens -- and
knows that he is—at last-about to He prepares to bid the world faredie. Whence secret sorrow to vne so well--and it is wonderful the pathos conditioned-one for whom has been which the Poet breathes into the so long waiting the grave ?
parting of this shadow with all the
other shadows, that will continue Why is our father's look so full of pain? for a while passing to and fro along What silent malady, wbat secret woe, the earth's surface, after it is gone. Weighs on his gloomy heart, and dizzy As Enoch Wray is about to shut his brain ?
eyes on time, temporal things all An evil, which he seeks, yet dreads, to
look touchingly beautiful, and he know, Not yet assured, suspected long ago.
gives them his last, his few remain
Flowers had Hath the dark angel of the night, that ing drops of tears.
been his earliest loves-and he is still Delights in human agony and tears,
sad to bid them all farewell. But Appallid his slumbers with predicted ill,
there is one flower—a blessed and a And confirmation of his worst of fears ? holy flower-bearing the name of The cause I tell not; but th'effect appears
the mother of our Saviour! It touchIn sudden alteration, such as oft
es his lips. Yet more for the sake Comes on the unailing aged, when they of another Mary whom he bopes soon
now to see in heaven! This passage Strong as old eagles on the wing aloft." is exquisite :
“ The meanest thing to which we bid adieu,
Loses its meanness in the parting hour,
When, long-neglected, worth seems born anew,
The heart, that scorns earth's pageantry and power,
May melt in tears, or break, to quit a flower.
Thus, Enoch-like a wretch prepar'd to fly,
And doom'd to journey far, and come no more-
Seeks old acquaintance with a boding sigh.
Lo, how he weeps for all he loved of yore,
Telling to weeds and stones quaint stories o'er !
How heavily he climbs the ancient stile,
Whence, on the bill which he no more shall climb,
Not with a brief, albeit a mournful, smile,
He seems to gaze, in reverie sublime,
Till, heard afar, and saddening all the clime,
Slow swings from yonder tower the passing bell !
“There is a flower-the housewife knows it well-
A Aower, which long hath graced the warm hedge side
Of Enoch's dying neighbour, Andrew Gell ;
Whose spleeny sire he pummell’d for bis pride,
Ere beauteous Mary Gold became a bride.
It is the flower which (pious rustics say)
The virgin-mother on her bosom wore.
It hoards no dewdrop, like the cups of May,
But, rich as sunset, when the rain is o'er,
Spreads flamy petals from a burning core ;
Which, if morn weep, their sorrowing beams upfold,
To wake, and brighten, when bright noon is near.
And Enoch bends him o'er the marygold ;
He loves the plant, because its name is dear.
But on the pale green stalks no flowers appear,
Albeit the future disk is growing fast.
He feels each little bud, with pleasing pain,
And sighs, in sweet communion with the past;
But never to his lip, or burning brain,
The flower's cold softness shall be press again,
Murmuring his long-lost Mary's virgin name." He now goes on to say good-by “ A kind, good man, who knows our fato friends and acquaintances living
ther's worth, in the neighbourhood, within an easy
And owns his skill in every thing but walk, and among the rest to the vil- Thyme." lage Poet
With touches almost of liveliness
-such as this--does Elliott relieve Disproves the plume, the beauty and the the mournful thoughts crowding
power, heavily upon the old man's heart- And deems it quite impossible to fly." and he scatters, too, gleams of earth's transitory beauty all round his part Enoch, ere he shake hands for the ing feet. The Blind feels they are
last time with Nature, must visit his there.
daughter Mary—at the Mill. For her
sake it was that the secret sorrow “ But thou deny'st not beauty, colour,
troubled him, which he feared to light; Full well thou know'st, that, all unseen
mention even to his own heart into by thee,
which it crept. Intimations had come The Vernal Spirit, in the valleys bright,
to him in his darkness that all was Is scattering diamonds over blossoms
not right in her husband's housewhite.
and he feared that Albert was a She, though she deign to walk, hath bankrupt. Was she-Mary Gould, wings of gold,
the daughter of Mary Gould—to beAnd plumes all beauteous ; while, in
come an inmate of the workhouse ? leafing bower,
Over his grave—were there indeed The Chrysalis, that ne'er did wing behold, after all-at last-to be shed by the Though born to glide in air o'er fruit chief mourner-a pauper's tears !
“ Farewell, ye mountains, neighbours of the sky !
Enoch will tread your silky moss no more ;
But here he breathes your freshness. Art thou nigh
Grey moth of April ? On the reedy shore,
For the last time he hears thee, circling o'er
The starry flower. Broad poplar, soon in bloom !
He listens to thy blossomy voice again,
And feels that it is vernal! but the tomb
Awaits him, and thy next year's flowers, in vain,
Will hearken for his footsteps. Shady lane,
Where Fearn, the bloody, felt his deadly arm!
Gate, which he climb'd to cut his bow of yew
From the dark tree of ages! Upland farm,
His uncle's once! thou furzy bank, whose hue
Is of the quenchless fire! adicu, adieu,
Thy soft answer to the breeze,
Storm-strengthen'd sycamore! is music yet
To his tired spirit: here, thou king of trees,
His own hand did thine infant weakness set;
But thou shalt wear thy palmy coronet
Long, long, when he is clay. Lake of the Mill,
That murmurest of the days when vigour strung
His oary feet, farewell ! he hears thee still,
And in his heart beholds thy banks, o'erhung
By every tree thou knew'st when he was young!
Forge!-built by him, against the ash-crown'd rock,
And now with ivy grown, a tussock'd mound-
Where oft himself, beneath the hammer's shock,
Drew forth the welded steel, brigbt, blue, and sound !
Vale of the stream-loved abbey, woodland-bound !
Thou forest of the druids! Oh, thou stone,
That once wast worshipp'd !--pillar of the past,
On which he lean'd amid the waste alone!
Scorner of change! thou listenest to the blast
Unmoved as death! but Enoch travels fast.
Thatch'd alehouse, still yclept the Sickles cross'd ;
Where died his club of poverty and age,
Worst blow of all! where oft the blacksmith toss'd
His truth-deciding coin ; and, red with rage,
The never silenced barber wont engage
In argument with Enoch! Fountain dim,
In which his boyhood quench'd the sultry beam!