Tifl strange to talk of two mammas I

Well, come and sit by mc, And I will try to tell you how

So strange a thing can be.

Years since, you had a dear mamma,

So gentle, good, and mild, Her Father, Ood, looked down from heaven,

And loved his humble child.

"Gime hither, child," he said, "and lean

Thy head upon my breast." She had toiled long: and wearily,

He knew she needed rest.

And so her cheek grew wan and pale,

And fainter came her breath, And in the arch beneath her brow,

A shadow lay like doath.

Then dear papa grew sad at heart,

Oh, very sad was ho I But still he thought 'twould make her well,

To sail upon the sea.

He did not know that God had called,
But thought she still might stay,

To bless his lonely Burman home,
For many a happy day.

And so sho kissed her little boys,

With white and quivering lip,
And while the tears were falling fast,

They bore her to the ship.

And Abby, Pwen, and Enna* went—

Oh t it was sad to be
Thus parted—thrco upon the land,

And three upon the sea!

But poor mamma still pater grew,

As far the vessel sped,
Till wearily she closed her eyes,

And slept among the dead.

Then on a distant rocky isle,
Where none but strangers rest,

They broke the cold earth for her grave,
And heaped it on her breast.

And there they left her all alone,—
Her whom they loved So well!—

Ah me t the mourning in that ship,
I dare not try to tell I

And how they wept, and how they prayed,

And sleeping or awake,
How one great grief came crusblngly,

As if their hearts would break.

At length they reached a distant shore,

A beautiful, bright land,
And crowds of pitying strangers came,

And took them by the hand.

And Abby found a pleasant home,

And Pwen, and Enna too;
But poor papa's sad thoughts turned back,

To Burmah and to you.

He talked of wretched heathen men,

With none to do them good;
Of children who are taught to bow

To gods of stone and wood.

He told me of his darling boys,

Poor orphans far away,
With no mamma to kiss their lips,

Or teach them how to pray.

And would I be their new mamma,

And join the little band
Of those, who for the Saviour's sake,

Dwell in a heathen land?

And when I knew how good he was,

I said that I would come;
I thought it would be sweet to live

In such a precious home;

And look to dear papa for smiles,
And hear him talk and pray;

But then I knew not it would grow
Still sweeter every day.

Oh, if your first mamma could see,
From her bright home above,

How much of happiness is here,
How much there is oflove,

'Twould glad her angel heart, I know,

And often would she come,
Gliding with noiseless spirit-step,

About her olden home.

Much do I love my darling boys,
And much do you love me;—

Our Heavenly Father sent me here,
Your new mamma to be.

And if I closely follow Him,

And hold your little hands,
I hope to lead you up to heaven,

To join the angel bauds.

Then with papa, and both mammas,

And her who went before,
And Christ who loves you more than all,

Ye'll dwell for ever more.

Maulmain, 1849.

[* Pweny and Enna, names of endearment among the Burmans, very commonly applied to children.—Ed.] SHAKESPEARE'S MINOR POEMS.


To the observer of our literary history one object ever stands proudly eminent—an object not unlike the Pyramid of Cheops—which, whether you go up or down the Nile, whether you penetrate its rich valley from the east over the sand-hills of Arabia, or from the west across the trackless desert of Zahara—from whatever quarter you approach—is the first object to strike, the last to recede from the tision. So is it with the object which we have indicated. Whether we approach it travelling backward from the names of Wordsworth and Coleridge and Byron and Scott, or descend towards the same point from Ccedinon, Chaucer, Sidney, and Spenser—whether we cross the correct of our literature by a transition from that of France or Germany, the Norseland or the South of Europe—from whatever quarter of the literary horizon we direct our gaze towards the point indicated—one name rises spontaneously on every tongue—the greatest name in all English, in all modern, perhaps I may say absolutely, in all literature. Shakespeare may possibly not be read as much now as he once was. The time will come, I believe, when he will be read still less. But he is stndied all the more. His fame is steadily in the ascendant. It is confessedly higher now than it was at the beginning of the present century. It has made a perceptible rise even within the last ten years.

In a spirit of affectionate reverence for the subject, I have in two former papers offered to the reading public some remarks suggested by a study of the Sonnets. Before proceeding to a similar study of the Dramas— without in fact having yet fully settled in my own mind whether I might daro to enter upon ground at once so hallowed and so profaned— ballowed, I mean, by the awe-inspiring genius of the author, profaned by the babbling herd of querulous and contending commentators and critics—still standing at respectful and unambitious distance from that which after all constitutes the unchanging and eternal pyramid of Shakespeare's fame, let me pause once more for a space to gather some of the lotos-blossoms and lilies from the fertilizing river at its base. The study of the other Minor Poems may, it is hoped, afford pleasing and instructive topics for remark similar to those suggested by the Sonnets, and will form a

fitting preparation for higher studies, should they hereafter be deemed discreet.

The minor poems of Shakespeare, besides the Sonnets, are the Passionate Pilgrim, the Lover's Complaint, Venus and Adonis, and the Rape of Lucrece.

The Passionate Pilgrim was first published in 1599. It is not, like the other three that have been named, a connected poem, but a name given to a small collection of Sonnets and Songs on various subjects, but mostly of a passionate character. The publisher had evidently found these pieces circulating in manuscript, and proposed to profit by the rising reputation of the author by collecting them into a small volume for sale. He made however many extraordinary mistakes, such indeed as to prove incontestably the surreptitious character of the publication. Several of the pieces in the collection were ascertained afterwards not to be Shakespeare's, but the work of different authors. Some appear elsewhere as parts of other works of Shakespeare's. Others, that do not appear elsewhere, and that may reasonably be accepted as Shakespeare's, are yet not of a character to entitle them to much consideration. On the whole, therefore, the collection is of little value, and need not be farther noticed.

The Lover's Complaint was originally published as an appendix to the Sonnets. This was the case in the original edition of 1009, and in the second edition of 1640. They are generally so printed now. This however is merely an incidental connexion, adopted originally probably for bookselling convenience, and followed since from custom. There is no connexion in form or subject. The Lover's Complaint is a continuous narrative poem, in the seven-line stanza or Rhythm Royal of Chaucer and the elder poets. This was the favourite stanza, particularly for romantic poetry, through the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries. It is a modification of the Italian ottava rima, and an evident improvement upon it. Chaucer, who first domesticated, if he did not invent it, has written in this form the Court of Love, Troilus and Creseida, the Complaint of the Black Knight, the Flower and the Leaf, besides four of his Canterbury Tales. Spenser used it also in the Ruins of Time and the Hymns of Love and Beauty. The capabililies of this stanza for poetical effect, with all due deference to the craft, have not been sufficiently considered by our living poets. But to return.

Of incident in the Lover's Complaint there is very little, almost nothing—-less even than in Longfellow's Kavanagh of which so many have complained, because forsooth the author was better advised than to make a shilling novel for the newsboys. The poem, in fact, though narrative in its form, is chiefly speculative and intro-versive. ■ The story is of a female, now past the meridian of life, who had been deceived and deserted in youth. She is described as a half-crazed being, with some remains of beauty and of comely apparel still cleaving to her, sitting alone on the margin of a gentle streamlet, bewailing in melancholy tones her sad history.

The story opens with the following scene. The poet represents himself as reclining upon a gentle hill, listening to the echo from a "sistering" vale. The echo thus brought to his ears was a "plaintful" story, which on directing his eyes thither, he found to proceed from the half-crazed person already described.

"From off a hill whoso oonoave womb re-worded
A plaintful story from a sistering vale,
My spirits to attend this double voice accorded,
And down I laid to list the sad-tuned talc:
Ere long espied a fickle maid full pale,
Tearing of papers, breaking rings a-twain,
Storming her world with sorrow's wind and rain.

"Upon her head a platted hive of straw,
Which fortified her visage from the sun,
Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw
The carcase of a beauty spent and done.
Thrift had not scythed all that youth begun,
Nor youth all quit; but, spite of heaven's fell rage,
Some beauty peeped through lattice of seared age.

"Oft did she heave her napkin* to her eyne,
Which on it had conceited characters,!
Lannd'ringt the silken figures in tho brine
That seasoned wo had pelleted^ in tears,
And often reading what contents it bears,
As often shrieking undistinguished wo,
In clamours of all size, both high and low.

"Sometimes her levelled eyes their carriage ride,
As they did battery to the spheres intend;
Sometime diverted their poor balls are tyed
To the orbed earth; sometime they do extend
Their view right on; anon their gazes lend
To every place at once, and nowhere fixed,
The mind and sight distractedly commixed.

"Her hair, nor loose, nor tied in formal plat,
Proclaimed in her a careless hand of pride;
For some, untuck'd, descended her sheav'dj| hat,
Hanging her pale and pined check beside;
Some in her threaden fillet still did bide,

* Napkin, handkerchief.

f Conceited characters, fanciful figures.

X Laund'ring, washing.

{ Pelleted, formed into pellets or small balls.

| Sheaved, made of straw collected from sheaves.

And, true to bondage, would not break from thence.
Though slackly braided in loose negligence.

"A thousand favours from a maund* she drew,
Of amber, crystal, and of bedded jet,
Which one by one she in a river threw,
Upon whose weeping margent she was set;
Like usury, applying wet to wet,
Or monarch's hands, that let not bounty fall
Where want cries ' some,' but where excess begs all.

"Of folded schedules had she many a one,
Which she perus'd, sigh'd, tore, and gave the flood;
Crack'd many a ring of posied gold and bone,
Bidding them find their sepulchres in mud:
Found yet more letters sadly penned in blood,
With sleided silk feat and affectedly
Enswathed, and sealed to curious secrecy.

"These often bathed she in her fluxive eyea,
And often kissed, and often 'gan to tear:
Cried, 0 false blood! thou register of lies,
What unapproved witness dost thou bear!
Ink would have seemed more black and damned here!
This said, In top of rage the lines she rents,
Big discontent so breaking their contents."

At this point an incident occurs, if incident it may be called, the only one in the poem. An aged man of venerable aspect approaches. He had been in early life a courtier, but had retired to the green fields to spend the quiet close of life, a simple herdsman. From the neighbouring fields he observed the strange conduct and appearance of this half-crazed female. His gentle manner and his reverend age win her confidence, and he draws from her the story of her wrongs.

"So slides he down upon his grained bat,
And comely-distant sits he by her side;
When he again desires, being sat,
Her grievance with his hearing to divide:
If that from him there may be aught applied
Which may her suffering ecstasy assuage;
'Tis promised in the charity of age.''

Thus invited she recounts to him the story of her grief. It is the old story. But when, before or since, was it told with such perfection of beauty ?—Listen to her description of her youthful lover:

"His browny locks did hang in crooked curls;
And every light occasion of the wind
Upon his lips their silken parcels hurls.
What's sweet to do, to do will aptly find:
Each eye that saw him, did enchant the mind;
For on his visage was in little drawn,
What largeness thinks in paradise was sawn.f

"Small show of man was yet upon his chin;
His phoenix down began but to appear,
Like unshorn velvet, on that termless skin,
Whose bare out-bragg'd the web it seem'd to wear;
Yet show'd his visage by that cost more dear;
And nice affections wavering stood in doubt
If best 'twere as it was, or best without.

* Maundy basket.

f Satan, sown (Boswell), or seen (Maloue).

"Hla qualities were beauteous as his form,
For maiden-tongued he wn-s . and thereof free;
Yet if men moved him, was he such a storm,
As oft 'twist May and April is to see,
When winds breathe sweet, unruly though they be.
His rudeness so with his authorized youth,
Did livery falseness in a pride of truth.

"Well could he ride, and often men would say,
'That horse his mettle from his rider takes:
Proud of subjection, noble by the sway,
What rounds, what bounds, what course, what stop he

And controversy hence a question takes,
Whether the horse by him became his deed,
Or he his manage by the well-doing steed.

"But quickly on his side the verdict went,
His real habitude gave life and grace
To appertainings and to ornament,
Accomplished in himself, not in his case:
All aids, themselves made fairer by their place,
Came for additions; yet their purposed trim
Pieced not his grace, but were all graced by him.

"So, on the tip of his subduing tongue
All kind of arguments and question deep,
All replication prompt, and reason strong,
For his advantage still did wake and sleep:
To make the weeper laugh, the laugher weep,
He had the dialect and different skill,
Catching all passions in his craft and will;

"That he did in the general bosom reign
Of young, of old; and sexes both enchanted,
To dwell with him in thoughts, or to remain
In personal duty, following where he haunted:
Consents bewitched, ere he desire, have granted;
And dialogued for him what he would say,
Asked their own wills, and made their wills obey.

"Many there were that did his picture get,
To serve their eyes, and in it put their mind;

Like fools that in the imagination set

The goodly objects which abroad they find

Of lands and mansions, thoir's in thought assigned;

And labouring in more pleasures to bestow them,

Than the true gouty landlord which doth owe them:

"So many have, that never touched his hand,
Sweetly supposed them mistress of his heart.
My woful self, that did in freedom stand,
And was my own fee-simple, (not in part)
What with his art in youth, and youth in art,
Threw my affections in his charmed power,
Reserved the stalk, and gave him all my flower."

The sad maiden goes on then to describe the various arts by which her affections and her confidence had been won, and ends her woful tale with the following genuine touch of nature.

"Who, young and simple, would not be so Iover*d?
Ah me! I fell: and yet, do question make
What I should do again for such a sake.

"0, that infected moisture of his eye,
0, that false firo which in his check so glowed,
O that forced thunder from hts heart did fly,
0 that sad breath his spongy lungs bestowed,
0 all that borrowed motion (seeming owed),
Would yet again betray the love-betrayed,
And now pervert the reconciled maid!"

The single and particular beauties in this poem are as numerous as the lines, almost as the words. It has been my object rather to give to readers who may not, be familiar with the poem—am I wrong in supposing there are such ?—some general impression of the character of the poem as a whole. I hope to resume the subject next month.



Through the half-curtained window stole

An autumn sunset's glow. As languid on my couch I lay

With pulses weak and low.

And then me thought a presence stood

With shining feet and fair, Amid the waves of golden light

That rippled through the air;

And laid upon my heaving breast—
With earnest glance and true,

A babe whose fair and gentle brow
No shade of sorrow knew.

A solemn joy was in my heart—

Immortal life was given
To earth, upon her battle-field

To discipline for heaven.

Strange music thrilled the quiet room— An unseen host were nigh,

Who left the infant pilgrim at
The threshold of our sky.

A new strange love woke In my heart

Defying all control,
As on the soft air rose and fell

That birth-hymn for a soul.

And now again the autumn skies

As on that evening shine, When from a trance of agony

I woke to joy divine.

That boundless love is in my heart,
That birth-hymn on the air;

I clasp in mine with grateful faith
A tiny hand in prayer;

And bless the God who guides my way,
That mid this world so wide,

I day by day am walking with
An angel by my side.


(From the Gascon of Jasmin.)


At the foot of the mountain height

Where is perched Caste 1-Cuille,
When the apple, the plum, and the almond tree

In the plain below were growing white.

This is the song one might perceive
On a Wednesday morn of Saint Joseph's Etc:

-Thr roads should blossom, the roads should bloom,
So fair a bride shall leave her home 1
Should blossom and bloom with garlands gay,
So fair a bride shall pass to-day!"

This old Te Deum, rustic rites attending,
Seemed from the clouds descending;
When lo 1 a merry company
Of rosy village girls, clean as tho eye,

Each one with her attendant swain,
Came to the cliff, all singing the same strain;
Resembling there, so near unto the sky,
Rejoicing angels, that kind Heaven had sent
For their delight and our encouragement.

Together blending,

And soon descending

The narrow sweep

Of the hill-side steep,

They wind aslant

Towards Saint Amant,

Through leafy alleys

Of verdurous valleys

With merry sallies

Singing their chant:

"The roads should blossom, the roads should bloom,
So fair a bride shall leave her home!
Should blossom and bloom with garlands gay,
So fair a bride shall pass to-day!"

It is Baptists, and his affianced maiden,
With garlands for the bridal laden I

The sky was blue; without one cloud of gloom,
The sun of March was shining brightly,

And to the air the freshening wind gave lightly
Its breathings of perfume.

When one beholds the dusky hedges blossom,
A rustic bridal, ahl how sweet it is!

To sounds of joyous melodies,
That touch with tenderness the trembling bosom,
A band of maidens
Gayly frolicking,
A band of youngsters
Wildly rollicking!
With fingers pressing,
Till in the veriest
Madness of mirth, as they dance.
They retreat and advance,
Trying whose laugh shall be loudest and merriest;

While the bride, with roguish eyes, Sporting with them, now escapes and cries: "Those who catch me

Married verily

This year shall be!"

And all pursue with eager haste,
And all attain what they pursue,
And touch her pretty apron fresh and new,
And the linen kirtle round her waist.

Meanwhile, whence comes it that among

These youthful maidens fresh and fair,

So joyous, with such laughing air,

Baptiste stands sighing, with silent tongue?

And yet the bride is fair and young! Is it Saint Josoph would say to us all, That love, o'er-hasty, precedeth a fall?

0, no! for a maiden frail, I trow,

Never bore so lofty a brow I

What lovers 1 they give not a single caress!
To see them so careless and cold to-day,
These are grand people, one would say.
What ails Baptiste? what grief doth him oppress?

It is, that halfway up the hill,
In yon cottage, by whose walls
Stand the cart-house and the stalls,
Dwelleth the blind orphan still,
Daughter of a veteran old;
And you must know, one year ago,
That Margaret, the young and tender,
Was the village pride and splendour,
And Baptiste her lover bold.
Love, the deceiver, them ensnared;
For them the altar was prepared;
But alas I the summer's blight,
The dread disease that none can stay,
The pestilence that walks by night,

Took the young bride's sight away.
All at the father's stern command was changed;
Their peace was gone, hut not their love estranged.
Wearied at home, ere long the lover fled;

Returned but three short days ago,

The golden chain they round him throw,

He is enticed, and onward led

To marry Angela, and yet

Is thinking ever of Margaret.

Then suddenly a maiden cried,
"Anna, Theresa, Mary, Kate!
Here comes the cripple Jane!" And by a fountain's side
A woman, bent and gray with years,
Under the mulberry-trees appears,
And all towards her run, as fleet
As had they wings upon their feet.

It is that Jane,—the cripple Jane,
Is a soothsayer, wary and kind,
She telleth fortunes, and none complain.
She promises one a village swain,
Another a happy wedding-day,
And the bride a lovely boy straightway.
All comes to pass as she avers;
She never deceives, she never errs.

« 上一页继续 »