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And in my dreams, methought, I went
To search out what might there be found;
And what the sweet bird's trouble meant,
That thus lay fluttering on the ground.
I went and peer'd, and could descry
No cause for her distressful cry;
But yet for her dear lady’s sake
I stoop'd, methought, the dove to take.
When lo! I saw a bright green snake
Coil'd around its wings and neck.
Green as the herbs on which it couch'd,
Close by the dove's its head it crouch'd '
And with the dove it heaves and stirs,
Swelling its neck as she swell’d hers'
I woke; it was the midnight hour,
The clock was echoing in the tower;
But though my slumber was gone by,
This dream it would not pass away—
It seems to live upon my eye'
And thence I vow'd this selfsame day,
With music strong and saintly song
To wander through the forest bare,
Lestaught unholy loiter there.
Thus Bracy said: the baron, the while,
Half-listening heard him with a smile;
Then turn'd to Lady Geraldine,
His eyes made up of wonder and love;
And said in courtly accents fine,
Sweet maid! Lord Roland’s beauteous dove,
With arms more strong than harp or song,
Thy sire and I will crush the snake'
He kiss'd her forehead as he spake,
And Geraldine in maiden wise,
Casting down her large bright eyes,
With blushing cheek and courtesy fine
She turn’d her from Sir Leoline;
Softly gathering up her train,
That o'er her right arm fell again
And folded her arms across her chest,
And couch'd her head upon her breast,
And look’d askance at Christabel—
Jesu, Maria, shield her well !
A snake’s small eye blinks dull and shy,
And the lady's eyes they shrunk in her head,
Each shrunk up to a serpent’s eye,
And with somewhat of malice and more of
"At Christabel she look’daskance:–
One moment—and the sight was fled !
But Christabel, in dizzy trance
Stumbling on the unsteady ground,
Shudder'd aloud, with a hissing sound;
And Geraldine again turn’d round,
And like a thing, that sought relief,
Full of wonder and full of grief,
She roll'd her large bright eyes divine
Wildly on Sir Leoline. -
The maid, alas! her thoughts are gone,
She nothing sees—no sight but one :
The maid, devoid of guile and sin,
I know not how, in fearful wise
So deeply had she drunken in
That look, those shrunken serpent eyes,
That all her features were resign'd
To this sole image in her mind:
And passively did imitate
That look of dull and treacherous hate :
And thus she stood, in dizzy trance,
Still picturing that look askance
With forced, unconscious sympathy
Full before her father’s view
As far as such a look could be
In eyes so innocent and blue.
And when the trance was o'er, the maid
Paused a while, and inly pray'd :
Then falling at the baron's feet,
“By my mother's soul do I entreat
That thou this woman send away!”
She said : and more she could not say;
For what she knew she could not tell,
O'ermaster’d by the mighty spell.
Why is thy cheek so wan and wild,
Sir Leoline o Thy only child
Lies at thy feet, thy joy, thy pride,
So fair, so innocent, so mild ;
The same, for whom thy lady died.
0 by the pangs of her dear mother,
Think thou no evil of thy child !
For her, and thee, and for no other,
She pray'd the moment ere she died;
Pray'd that the babe for whom she died
Might prove her dear lord's joy and pride!
That prayer her deadly pangs beguiled,
Sir Leoline !
And wouldst thou wrong thy only child,
Her child and thine?
Within the baron’s heart and brain
If thoughts like these had any share,
They only swell’d his rage and pain,
And did but work confusion there.
His heart was cleft with pain and rage,
His cheeks they quiver'd, his eyes were wil:
Dishonour'd thus in his old age;
Dishonour’d by his only child,
And all his hospitality
To the insulted daughter of his friend
By more than woman's jealousy
Brought thus to a disgraceful end—
He roll'd his eye with stern regard
Upon the gentle minstrel bard,
And said in tones abrupt, austere,
Why, Bracy' dost thou loiter here *
I bade thee hence: The bard obey'd;
And, turning from his own sweet maid,
The aged knight, Sir Leoline,
Led forth the Lady Geraldine !
THE CONCLUSION TO PART II.
A LITTLE child, a limber elf,
Singing, dancing to itself,
A fairy thing with red round cheeks
That always finds and never seeks,
Makes such a vision to the sight
As fills a father's eyes with light;
And pleasures flow in so thick and fast
Upon his heart, that he at last
Must needs express his love's excess
With words of unmeant bitterness.
Perhaps 'tis pretty to force together
Thoughts so all unlike each other;
To mutter and mock a broken charm,
To dally with wrong that does no harm.
Perhaps 'tis tender too and pretty
At each wild word to feel within
A sweet recoil of love and pity.
And what, if in a world of sin
(O sorrow and shame should this be true!)
Such giddiness of heart and brain
Comes seldom, save from rage and pain,
So talks as it’s most used to do.
VERse, a breeze 'mid blossoms straying,
Where Hope clung feeding, like a bee—
Both were mine ! Life went a-maying
With Nature, Hope, and Poesy,
When I was young !
When I was young —Ah, woful when '
Ah for the change 'twixt now and then
This breathing house not built with hands,
This body that does me grievous wrong,
O'er airy cliffs and glittering sands,
How lightly then it flash'd along:—
Like those trim skiffs, unknown of yore,
On winding lakes and rivers wide,
That ask no aid of sail or oar,
That fear no spite of wind or tide :
Naught cared this body for wind or weather,
When Youth and I lived in't together.
Flowers are lovely; love is flower-like;
Friendship is a sheltering tree;
O the joys, that came down shower-like,
Of friendship, love, and liberty,
Ere I was old '
Ere I was old Ah woful Ere,
Which tells me, Youth's no longer here !
O Youth' for years so many and sweet,
'Tis known, that thou and I were one,
I’ll think it but a fond conceit–
It cannot be that thou art gone!
Thy vesper-bell hath not yet toll'd :—
And thou wert aye a masker bold !
What strange disguise hast now put on,
To make believe that thou art gone *
I see these locks in silvery slips,
This drooping gait, this alter'd size:
But springtide blossoms on thy lips,
And tears take sunshine from thine eyes |
Life is but thought: so think I will
That Youth and I are house-mates still.
The allegory here is so apt, that in a catalogue of carious readings obtained from collating the MSS. one might expect to find it noted, that for “Life" Cod, quid habent, “Trade.” Though indeed the trade, i. e. the bibliopolic, so called, kär" to 6xny, may be regarded as life sansu eminentiori: a suggestion, which I owe to a young retailer in the hosiery line, who on hearing a description of the net profits, dinner parties, country houses, etc. of the trade, exclaimed, “Ay! that's what I call life now!” —This “Life, our Death,” is thus happily contrasted with the so its of authorship.–Sic nos non nobis mellificamus Apts.
Of this poem, with which the Fire, Famine, and Slaughter first appeared in the Morning Post, the three first stanzas, which are worth all the rest, and the ninth, were dictated by Mr. Southey. Between the ninth and the concluding stanza, two or three are omitted as grounded on subjects that have lost their interest—and for better reasons.
If any one should ask, who General – meant, tho author begs leave to inform him, that he did once see a red-faced person in a dream whom by the dress he took sor a general; but he might have been mistaken, and most certainly he did not hear any names mentioned. In simple verity, the author never meant any one, or indeed any thing but to put a concluding stanza to his dog
Last Monday all the papers said,
That Mr. was dead;
Why, then, what said the city 2
The tenth part sadly shook their head,
And shaking, sigh'd, and sighing said,
“Pity, indeed, 'tis pity!”
But when the said report was found
A rumour wholly without ground,
Why, then, what said the city ?
The other nine parts shook their head,
Repeating what the tenth had said,
“Pity, indeed, 'tis pity!”
Your poem must eternal be,
Dear sir!—it cannot fail—
For ’tis incomprehensible,
And wants both head and tail.
Swans sing before they die—"twere no bad thing Did certain persons die before they sing.
Of late, in one of those most weary hours,
When life seems emptied of all genial powers,
A dreary mood, which he who ne'er has known
May bless his happy lot, I sate alone;
And, from the numbing spell to win relief,
Call'd on the past for thought of glee or grief.
In vain bereft alike of grief and glee,
I sate and cower'd o'er my own vacancy!
And as I watch'd the dull continuous ache,
Which, all else slumbering, seem’d alone to wake;
O friend long wont to notice yet conceal,
And soothe by silence what words cannot heal,
I but half saw that quiet hand of thine
Place on my desk this exquisite design,
Boccaccio's garden and its faëry,
The love, the joyance, and the gallantry !
An idyl, with Boccaccio's spirit warm
Framed in the silent poesy of form.
Like flocks adown a newly-bathed steep
Emerging from a mist: or like a stream
Of music soft that not dispels the sleep,
But casts in happier moulds the slumberer's
Gazed by an idle eye with silent might
The picture stole upon my inward sight.
A tremulous warmth crept gradual o'er my chest,
As though an infant’s finger touch'd my breast.
And one by one (I know not whence) were brought
All spirits of power that most had stirr'd my
In selfless boyhood, on a new world tost
Of wonder, and in its own fancies lost;
Or charm'd my youth, that kindled from above,
Loved ere it loved, and sought a form for love;
Or lent a lustre to the earnest scan
Of manhood, musing what and whence is man'
Wild strain of scalds, that in the sea-worn caves
Rehearsed their war-spell to the winds and waves;
Or fateful hymn of those prophetic maids,
That call'd on Hertha in deep forest glades;
Or minstrel lay, that cheer'd the baron's feast;
Or rhyme of city pomp, of monk and priest,
Judge, mayor, and many a guild in long array,
To high-church pacing on the great saint's day.
And many a verse which to myself I sang,
That woke the tear, yet stole away the pang,
Of hopes which in lamenting I renew’d.
And last, a matron now, of sober mien,
Yet radiant still and with no earthly sheen,
Whom as a faëry child my childhood woo'd
E’en in my dawn of thought—Philosophy.
Though then unconscious of herself, pardie,
She bore no other name than poesy;
And, like a gift from heaven, in lifesul glee,
That had but newly left a mother's knee,
Prattled and play’d with bird, and flower, and stone,
As with elfin playfellows well known,
And life reveal’d to innocence alone.
Thanks, gentle artist! now I can descry
Thy fair creation with a mastering eye,
And all awake! And now in fix’d gaze stand,
Now wander through the Eden of thy hand;
Praise the green arches, on the fountain clear
See fragment shadows of the crossing deer,
And with that serviceable nymph I stoop,
The crystal from its restless pool to scoop.
I see no longer! I myself am there,
Sit on the ground-sward, and the banquet share.
*Tis I, that sweep that lute's love-echoing strings,
And gaze upon the maid, who gazing sings:
Or panse and listen to the tinkling bells
From the high tower, and think that there she
With old Boccaccio's soul I stand possest,
And breathe an air like life, that swells my chest.
The brightness of the world, O thou once free,
And always fair, rare land of courtesy'
0, Florence' with the Tuscan fields and hills'
And famous Arno fed with all their rills;
Thou brightest star of star-bright Italy'
Rich, ornate, populous, all treasures thine,
The golden corn, the olive, and the vine.
Fair cities, gallant mansions, castles old, And forests, where beside his leafy hold The sullen boar hath heard the distant horn, And whets his tusks against the gnarled thorn; Palladian palace with its storied halls; Fountains, where love lies listening to their falls; Gardens, where flings the bridge its airy span, And nature makes her happy home with man; Where many a gorgeous flower is duly fed With its own rill, on its own spangled bed, And wreathes the marble urn, or leans its head, A mimic mourner, that with veil withdrawn Weeps liquid gems, the presents of the dawn, Thine all delights, and every muse is thine: And more than all, th’ embrace and intertwine Of all with all in gay and twinkling dance' "Mid gods of Greece and warriors of romance, See Boccace sits, unfolding on his knees The new-found roll of old Maeonides;" But from his mantle's fold, and near the heart, Peers Ovid's Holy Book of Love's sweet smart 't 0 all-enjoying and all-blending sage, Long be it mine to con thy mazy page, Where, half-conceal’d, the eye of fancy views Fauns, nymphs, and winged saints, all gracious to thy muse!
Still in thy garden let me watch their pranks,
And see in Dian’s vest between the ranks
Of the trim vines, some maid that half believes
The testal fires, of which her lover grieves,
With that sly satyr peering through the leaves'
* Boccaccio claimed for himself the glory of having first introduced the works of Homer to his country. t I know few more striking or more interesting proofs of the overwhelming influence which the study of the Greek and Roman classics exercised on the judgments, feelings, and imaginations of the literati of Europe at the commencement of the restoration of literature, than the passage in the Filocopo of Boccaccio: where the sage in. structer, Racheo, as soon as the young prince and the beautiful girl, Biancafiore had learned their letters, sets them to study the Holy Book, Orid's Art of Love. “Incomincio Racheo a mettere il suo officio in essecuzione con intera sollecitudine. Eloro, in breve tempo, insegnato a conoscer le lettere, fece legere il santo libro d'Orridio, nel quale il sommo poeta mostra, come i santi fuochi di Venere sidebbanone freddi cuori occendere.”
JAMEs Montgomery was born in Irvine, Ayrshire, in 1771. His parents belonged to the church of the United Brethren, commonly called Moravians,—a sect by no means numerous in England, and still more limited in Scotland. Having previously sojourned for a short time at a village in the Irish county of Antrim, they placed the future poet at the school of their society at Fulnick, near Leeds, and embarked for the West Indies as missionaries among the negro slaves. They were the victims of their zeal and humanity; the husband died in Barbadoes, and the wife in Tobago.
After remaining two years at Fulnick, and, like other men of genius, disappointing the expectations of his friends as a student, “from very indolence,” he was placed by them in a retail shop at Mirfield near Wakefield. This ungenial employment he considered himself—not being under indentures— at liberty to relinquish at the end of two years, with a view to try his fortune in the great world. After spending other two years at a village near Rotherham, and a few months with a bookseller in London, he engaged as an assistant with Mr. Joseph Gales of Sheffield, who, published a newspaper;-to the management of which, in 1794, he succeeded. This, though conducted with comparative moderation, exposed him to much enmityrather inherited from his predecessor than actually incurred by himself. The liberty of the press in those days was, like faith, “the substance of things hoped for;” a sentence of condemnation, or even a word of reproach, against men in “high places,” was punished as libellous. Montgomery did not indeed share the fate of some of his stern sectarian forefathers; but in lieu of maiming and pillory, he had to endure fine and imprisonment. Within eighteen months, and when he had scarcely arrived at manhood, his exertions in the cause of rational freedom had twice consigned him to a jail. During the thirty years that followed, however, he was permitted to publish his opinions, without being the object of open persecutions. Wearied out, at length, he relinquished his newspaper, in 1825. Recently one of the government grants to British worthies has been conferred upon him ; and—it must be recorded to his honour—by Sir Robert Peel.
The poet continues to reside in Sheffield,— esteemed, admired, and beloved: a man of purer mind, or more unsuspected integrity, never existed. He is an honour to the profession of letters; and
by the upright and unimpeachable tenor of his lifeeven more than by his writings—the persuasive and convincing advocate of religion. In his personal appearance, Montgomery is rather below than above the middle stature: his countenance is peculiarly bland and tranquili and but for the occasional sparklings of a clear gray eye, it could scarcely be described as expressive.
Very early in life, Montgomery published a volume of poems. They were not, it would appear, favourably received by the public; and he writes, the disappointment of his premature poetical hopes brought with it a blight which his mind has never recovered. “For many years,” he adds, “I was as mute as a moulting bird; and when the power of song returned, it was without the energy, selfconfidence, and freedom which happier minstrels among my contemporaries have manifested.” The Wanderer of Switzerland was published in 1806; the West Indies, in 1810; the World before the Flood, in 1813; Greenland in 1819; the Pelican Island, in 1827; he has since contented himself with the production of occasional verses.
Those who can distinguish the fine gold from the “sounding brass” of poetry, must place the name of James Montgomery high in the list of British poets; and those who consider that the chiefest duty of such is to promote the cause of religion, virtue, and humanity, must acknowledge in him one of their most zealous and efficient advocates. He does not, indeed, often aim at bolder flights of imagination; but if he seldom rises above, he never sinks beneath, the object of which he desires the attainment. If he rarely startles us, he still more rarely leaves us dissatisfied; he does not attempt that to which his powers are unequal, and therefore is at all times successful. To the general reader, it will seem as if the early bias of his mind and his first associations had tinged—we may not say tainted—the source from whence he drew his inspirations, and that his poems are “sicklied o'er." with peculiar impressions and opinions which fail to excite the sympathy of the great mass of mankind. We should, however, recollect, that, although he has chiefly addressed himself to those who think with him, his popularity is by no means confined to them; but that those who read poetry for the delight it affords them, and without any reference to his leading design, acknowledge his merit, and contribute to his fame.