Under the wavering wings of

And suddenly into my pre-
sence came
A Spectre, thin as that dismal name
That burns and beams, a moving lamp,
Where the dreary fogs of night encamp.
Her lips were pah*, her checks were white,
Her eyes were full of phantom light—

Once, twice, thrice,
A goblet wrought to a rare device
She held to fevered lips of mine;
But mocked them with its frozen wine,
Till they were numb on the dusky ice.

I could not speak, I could not stir,

I could do nought but look at her;

Nought but look in her wonderful eyes

And loose me in their mysteries.

The goblet shone, the goblet glowed,

But from its rim no liquid flowed.

Its sides were bright with pictures rare

Of demons foul and angels fair,

And Life and Death o'er Youth contending,

And Love on luminous wings descending,

Celestial cities with golden domes,
And caverns full of labouring gnomes.

Once, twice, thrice,
That goblet wrought to a rare device
She held to fevered lips of mine,
But mocked them with its frown wine,
Till they were numb on the dusky ioe.

Loud rang the bell through the stormy air,
And the clock replied on the s
And Chanticleer awo
The echo from his silvery t
All nature with a sudden noise
Proclaimed the momentary poise
Of that invisible beam, that weighs
At midnight the divided days.
The Phantom beckoned and turned away,
I had no power to speak or stay :—
Wc passed the dusky corridor,
Her sandal gems illumed the floor,
And with a ruddy, phosphor light.
The frozen goblet lit the night.

Onoe, twice, thrice,
That goblet wrought to a rare device
She held to fevered lips of mine,
But mocked them with its frozen wine,
Till they were numb on the dusky Ice.

She led me through enchanted woods,
Through deep and haunted solitudes,
By threatening cataracts, and the edges
Of high and dizzy mountain lodges,
And over bleak and perilous ridges,
To frail and air-suspended bridges,
Where, in the muffled dark beneath,
Invisible rivers talked of death,

Until, for very sympathy
With the uiifathomed mystery,
I cried, "Here I resign my breath,
Here let me taste the cup of Death I"

Once, twice, thrico,
That goblet wrought to a rare device
She held again to lips of mine,
But mocked them with ita frozen wine,
Till they were numb of the dusky Ice.

And then a voice within mo said,
"Wouldst thou journey to the dead?—
Shed this mantle, and pass for ever
Into the black, eternal river?—
For very sympathy, depart
From the tumult of this heart?
Knowst thou not that mightier river.
Rolling on in darkness ever,
Ever sweeping, coiling, boiling,
Howling, fretting, wailing, toiling,
Where every wave that breaks on shore
Is a human heart that can bear no more?''

Once, twice, thrice,
That goblet wrought to a rare device
She held to fevered lips of mine,
But mocked them with the frozen wine,
Till they were numb on the dusky ice.

And then In sorrow and shame I cried,
"Oh, take me to that river's sido,
And I will shun the languid shore,
And plunge me into the dark uproar,

And drink of the waters till they impart

A generous sense, and a human heart."

And all at once, around me rose

A mingled mutiny of woes,

And my soul discerned these sounds to he

The wail of a wide humanity;

Till my bosom heaved responsive sighs,

And tremulous tears were in my eyes.

Once, twice, thrice,
That goblet wrought to a rare device
She held to fevered lips of mine,
And at their instant touch, the wine
Flowed freely from the dusky ice.

I drank new life, I could not stop,

But drained it to its latest drop,

Till the Phantom with the goblet rare

Dissolved Into the shadowy air—

Dissolved into the outer gloom,

And once more I was in my room;

Yet oft before my waking eyes

The figures of that goblet rise—

The angels and the fiends at strife,

And Youth 'twixt warring Death and Life—

The domes—the gnomes—mysterious things!

And Love descending on luminous wings.

Once, twice, thrice,
That goblet wrought to a rare device
Fair Memory holds to lips of mine,
And bathes them with the sacred wine,
The tribute of that dusky ice.



Tur wild bee brought your message,

Just at the peep of day,
Tapping, buzzing at my window,

Then gaily flew away.
I thank you, fair young sister,

Bui 'twould break my heart to roam. So many, many love me,

In my dusty city home.

You tell of fresh green meadows,

Of upland, hill, and glade, Of the many merry sisters,

And the still and pleasant shade; Of fragrant flowers around you,

Of a laughing, noisy brook, Tripping gaily at your feet all day,

Reflecting every look.

You say we'll have sweet music

With the early morning light, That the nightingale will cheer us,

Through all the summer night; That the humming-bird and bee

Shall do my bidding every day, Bring all the city news to me

From friends so far away.

You say I must be lonely,

That you tremble for my health, That the fresh and fragrant breezes

Are worth the city's wealth;
But could you see the fair young girl

That ministers to me,
You'd say how happy was my lot,

Cherished so tenderly.

There are but few to love her,

And why? alas, she's poor! And toiling, toiling all the day,

She loveth me the more. She smiles to see my beauty,

She'll weep when I am dead; Wild sister, who will weep for you

When winter bows your head?

She opes the window early,

To give me air and sun, Then sitteth sadly at my side

To toil till day is done;
And when she rests her weary hands,

And drops a tear on me,
My sweetest fragrance I impart

And cheer her gratefully.

The children, poor and wretched,

Smile as they gaxe on me,
And often stop in passing

And praise me timidly;
So I cannot leave my noisy home,

Though brighter are your hours;
I have the love of many hearts,

You've but the love of flowers.

My gentle mistress sccmeth ill,

I sometimes think she'll die; Then send the robin and the thrush,

To bear me where she'll lie; And come to me, sweet sister,

Whero sombre willows wave, And side by side, we'll weep and watch

Over her early grave.



It is a fact that it is with the inferior portions of French literature we are most extensively acquainted in a popular way. Everybody has read the high-flavoured novels and stories of Sue, Dumas, Dudevant, De Kock, and the rest of that school—very clever and very talented—but dashed and blended with the melodramatic and the extravagant to an unwholesome degree. Suiting the tastes of the many, the publication of their works is a good speculation, and hence the facility with which English-speaking people arc introduced to them. For these reasons of trade, acting in a circle, the better literature of our sister republic is comparatively unappreciated. And it may naturally be a received impression, therefore, that the literature of modern France is an affair of sentiment and passion, chiefly— champagne and gunpowder—in keeping with the social and political character the people there have earned, for all sorts of exciting and terrible things. However true this idea may be to the nature of the " literary lower empire" we have spoken of, it is a mistaken one, as regards modern French literature. In the departments of History, Poetry, Ethics, and Science they exhibit qualities and tendencies as excellent as those of any other literature— ancient or modern. Perhaps of these denominations French Poetry is that which is least appreciated by foreigners. The robust and massive elements of prose are more easily transfused than the subtile and unaccommodating spirit of poesy—racy on its own soil, and evaporating, in a more or less degree, in a strange atmosphere. And this is the case when verse is even well translated. An intimacy with a language—not a mere knowledge of it—is necessary to comprehend it; and then there are the equivalent parallel thought, tone and word to be premised. Nevertheless, though these are good reasons why foreign poetry cannot necessarily be so favourably or generally appreciated as prose, they are not always conclusive against the wish to appropriate what is another's, which would seem to be an instinct, and to animate human nature, from Queens, Kings, and Presidents, down to translators and others, whom we scruple to name along with such respectable people. But it is difficult for a man to keep the knowledge of a good thing to himself; and there's a gos

Vol. VL, 20

siping amiability in sharing it, which may be fairly set down to his account.

Who can behold tho ripened rose nor seek
To wear it ?—

though it may afterwards wither in his handling.

In the following we would merely presume to indicate some of the more sparkling fountains of French literature—directing to them the attention of our young and intellectual readers, thattheymay "better the instruction," and in the way of reading and study, enjoy what a certain old king—we forget his name— offered a reward for,—a new pleasure.

Glancing along the array of French poetry, the eye is first attracted by the picturesque muse of Victor Hugo—Baron Victor Hugo.

[graphic][merged small]


"the Saint Bartholemew of the privileged orders," as Burke called it. So, he has been forced (Hugo, not Burke) to put his patent in his pocket for awhile—like Mozart, who on his way through the piebald principalities of Germany used, after his father's prudent advice, to hang out his Pope's Cross in some places, and put it up in others. However, things have already taken a turn in France— in Paris, at least—and Victor Hugo may shortly exhibit his patent at his button-hole if he likes—that is, if he may not actually do so as affairs stand in that republic of a year. Matters there are getting on a reculons, and some more restorations would seem to be in the wind. Victor Hugo is prouder of his title, we believe, than of the authorship of N6tre Dame. In this he resembles Lord Byron, (who considered an old English Baron the first of dignities—even when no longer a schoolboy)—and, must we add, Sir Walter Scott? Yes; for with that healthful Cervantic mind of his—so like Chaucer's in many of its features—Scott would rather be rated as descendant or kinsman of the cattle-stealing chief of Harden, than the man who drew Jeannie Deans, and the Jewess, Balfour of Burley, and the Baron of Bradwardine. And we may remark how much Scott resembles Shakespeare, in one particular—if not in others. Both were thinking more of building houses for themselves and their families, than of that edifice of immortality which the world has inherited in their names. Shakespeare, in one of his Sonnets written after he had made money as a stage-manager, complains of the degradation and loss of respectability he endured by writing and acting plays! How unlike Milton in this respect, who put himself under a solemn course of intellectual training, before he strode prepense upon the epic stage, and challenged a renown that the world should not willingly let die! Congreve, who also made his literature a subordinate consideration, was rebuked by Voltaire for his affectation, while it was probably no affectation, but a truth of character now countenanced by loftier examples. Perhaps there is something after all in that preference for high station, and that looking back to feudal times and pretensions, if philosophy would but hunt it out. It may be these great intellects have not exhibited such tendencies for nothing.

But, as we were saying, Victor Hugo is proud of his countship; it suits his name, which has something Merovingian in it. He has long been at the head of what the French have called, by a rather loose kind of nomenclature, the romantic school of poetry, contradistinguished from the classical. His genius, certainly, like that of Scott, exhibits a strong leaning to the chivalrous period of society, and

is at home among the courts, castles, cathedrals,
and tournaments—the goblins, wizards, herald-
ries, and pageantries of the mediaeval times. It
loves the prestige of feudal nobility, and hears
ancestral voices in old historic localities. It
strikes us there is more in a name than Shake-
speare thinks. A rose called dandelion will
not smell as sweet as by its own name. We
have a fancy that a name has an influence on
character. Three names (we might easily get
more) occur to us in seeming proof of this. We
wonder if Scott, Hugo, and Thierry would have
distinguished themselves, each in his manner
and matter, if their chivalrous and medieeval
names did not prompt their pride and direct
the current of their studies. Now, there is
Dickens;—his name is plebeian. No ancestor of
his name ever rode on a freebooter's foray from
a lordly keep, or kept the lists against a Chas-
telherault, or coming from a monastery, suc-
ceeded Chilperic; and see the character of the
man's mind: despising the pomp and circum-
stance of old or modern times, and forming his
beautiful creations on little parish paupers,
Cheerybles and Tom Pinches—as if he had said
with Tennyson, of whose verse he is an ardent

Howo'er it be, it seems to me
'Tis only noblo to be good;
Kind hearts arc mora than coronets,
And simple faith than Norman blood.

We will pursue this digression no longer, but
there may be something more than fancy in it.

Coming to Victor Hugo:—he is one of the first of French lyric poets, not the first. His fame will rest less upon his NCtre Dame, a work truer to its Gothic details and the distinctives of a historic period than to human nature and probability (in this far inferior to Sir Walter Scott), less upon his dramas, which are more remarkable for a certain pomp of style and imagery, and an exaggeration of character, than for the sweet touches of humanity which make Shakespeare akin to the whole world—than upon his lyrics. Though he does not think so himself, probably; for, with a wonderful self-delusion, he fancies he could be to Shakespeare what Napoleon was to Charlemagne. But his lyric poetry gives him celebrity enough. In this he seems to run through all modes of the lyre, and be master of them. In 1822, being twenty years old, he published his Odes and Ballads. In his Odes he showed himself a legitimist—the poet of royalty and the denouncer of Napoleon. That did not hinder him, however, from worshipping the memory of the buried Emperor afterwards, and in a very little time, too! His father was a General of the Empire. But his mother was a royalist, and her sentiments early impressed

the mind of the young poet, giving one more instance of the truth of Napoleon's saying, that the mother greatly influences the character of the child. The Ballads contain some sweet pieces, breathing the simple spirit of the earlier times of knighthood and the troubadours—such as Ecoute-moi Madelaine, and LaFiancSe du Timbalier. The last is as follows. There has been a good deal said about translation—from Horace down; we think a man has the best chance of doing his victim justice who gives him as literally as possible. Horace advises a free translation; that is very good when your translator is equal to the original—a Shelley, a Coleridge, or a Hunt. But we have been much struck with a certain opinion of Chaucer's —to wit:—

"Whoso shall tellen a tale after a man,
He mustc rcherse as nigh as ever ho can,
Everich word, if it be in his charge,
All speke he never so rudely and so large;"

and so in the matters following, we ha*e observed this fine-hearted old troubadour's advice, as much as possible.

Monseigneur, le Due de Brctagne, etc.

My lord, the Duke of bold Bretagne,

Was to the battle boune afar;
From Nantz' good city to Mortagne,
He sent by mountain and the plain

Ills arriere-ban of war I

Barons were there whose blazons bold

Deck many a moated castle wall;
And famous knights in war grown old,
And squires and men-at-arms enrolled—

My true-love with them all.

To Aquitaine he went away,

One of the cymbal iers; but he
Looked quite a captain—one would say—
With such an air, in doublet gay,

All golden-seamed to see.

Since then, distracted by my fear,
I've ceaseless prayed our kind St. Bride,

To send his guardian-angel here

To watch that wandering cymballer—
For ever by his side.

I've bid our Abbot pray a prayer

For all our valiant soldiers gone,
And to repay his holy care
Fve burned three waxen tapers fair

St. Gildas' shrine upon.

Our Lady of Loretto, too,

I've promised her, right sore distressed,
To wear, this dreary absence through,
Under my 'kerchief, hid from view,

The scallop on my breast.

No token came to soothe my wo,

No absent lover's gentle gage;
To bear Love's message to and fro,
The vassal has no squire to go,

The peasant maid no page

Tc~day he will return, I trow,

Back by his noble master's side,
He is no vulgar lover now;
I lift my long-dejected brow;

My love it is my pride.

The Duke returns and brings, elate,
His torn and honoured banner here:

Maidens, come stand beneath the gate,

To see his Highness pass in state—
And my bold cymballer.

Come, see his charger harnessed gay

For this day's noble pageant, bound
Beneath his rider with a neigh,
And toss his proud head all the way,
With purple feathers crowned.

Maidens, you dress too slowly, come

To see my soldier-love advance;
His cymbals will strike gaily home,
And mingled with the rolling drum,

Make every bosom dance.

Come, see him, too, so proudly wear

The mantle by my fingers drest;
My true-love, he will look so fair,
And like a chief with lofly air.

Bear bis steel cap and crest.

A gipsy woman yesterday

Behind a pillar called mo near.
And said—may Hoaven her weird gainsay! —
There should be missed from the array

A certain cymballer I

Truce to sad thoughts!—come, come along I

I hear the war-drum close at hand;
Look at the women in a throng,
And flowers and floating flags among
Purple pavilions grand!

Now two and two the host comes by;

And first the pikemen, stout and slow;
Next, under pennons flaunting high,
Barons in cloaks of silken soy

And caps of velvet go.

Then priests in chasubles; then prance
The heralds on their steeds of white,

While on their tabards they advance

Their master's proper cognizance
Emblazoned there aright.

Next rides the Templars' dreaded van,

In Persian armour of the East;
Beneath the pike and partisan,
The trusty bowmen of Lausanne,

In buff and steel go drest.

The Duke! the Duke! his banner borne

Floats o'er his noblo cavaliers;
The captive standards battle-torn
Come next and seem to droop forlorn,—

Sisters, the Cymballers 1

She said: her eager glance was thrown
O'er all the train in trembling haste;
Then in tho careless crowd, alone,
Senseless she sank, with dying moan,
Tho Cymballers had passed!

In his Orientates, Victor Hugo exhibits most of that glowing imagery and graceful pomp of versification which particularly distinguish his writings. He says he got the inspiration of

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