EXTRACT FROM "
THE CRITIC" OF APRIL, 1847.
"Mr. PRINCE is one of those men, so rare, yet so
welcome when they come, who, born and educated amid poverty and invested
with a quick intellect, have, amid the gloom of their world, such an
expansion of heart, that when they condemn they comdemn without
bitterness. In the entire range of literary history we have read of
no poet with a mind more elastic than that possessed by Mr. PRINCE.
His mind rebounds from the passions and the degradation with which he has
been un-avoidably associated, and the rebound has been most signal and
lofty. Apart from birth and education, and in the completeness and
individuality of the word, Mr. PRINCE is a poet.
He has an intuitive perception of the finest beauties of life, and a quick
comprehension of the beauties of nature. We need not say more.
We have written only what is generally admitted; but our desire is that
Mr. PRINCE'S Works should be the companions of every
poor man, because they will increase his social tendencies; and, further,
we wish them to be in the possession of every rich man, because they will
teach him that a Poet of the People is not necessarily antagonistic to the
A fourth edition of "HOURS WITH THE MUSES,"
price Three Shillings, may be had of the AUTHOR or PRINTER,
TRIBUTARY STANZAS TO J. C. PRINCE.
BY JOHN BOLTON ROGERSON.
When first I saw thy sweet and polished lines,
Though they were penn'd not by a scholar'd hand,
Even as the sun through mist of morning shines,
I knew that they were destined to command
The praise and wonder of thy native land;
And on the banner of wide-circling fame
Inscribe, in dazzling hues, thy then unhonoured name!
And so it is!—thy aspirations high,
Thy powerful pleadings for a suffering race;
Thy ardent love for heavenly Poesy,—
The feelings pure which in each line we trace,—
Have for thee gained a proud and envied place
Among the bards, who heavenwards cleave their way,
And gain by strength of wing, a bright immortal day.
Thou need'st not now, a wretched outcast, tread
With slow and weary steps a foreign shore;—
England will find a shelter for thy head,
And thou shalt know the want of food no more:
Be true unto thyself—there is in store
A future, rich in many happy days,
And thou shalt find the bard treasured as are his lays.
Walk forth and worship Nature as thou hast,—
Drink in the beauty of her vales and streams;
Wander again, as when, in days long past,
Thy soul, enwrapt in its poetic dreams,
Became instinct with holy Sabbath themes;
And then, in thoughts majestic and sublime,
Poured forth the noble strain which shall contend with time.
Give us thy songs of freedom once again—
Raise high thy voice for liberty and love;
Tell to the world the woes of toiling men,
And thou their dearest champion wilt prove—
Perchance the great and mighty then may'st move:
Speak in thy wonted tones aloud of wrong—
Who may divine the power and influence of song?
Hang not thy harp upon the willows now—
Be not with what thou'st won alone content;
A wreath more glorious yet may grace thy brow—
On high achievement be thy mind still bent;
Gifts like to thine were surely never meant
To be unused or thrown neglected by—
Well is he paid whose dower is immortality!
Manchester, May 1842.
THE PEN AND THE SWORD.
"One murder makes a villain—millions a hero."
Creative Pen, destructive Sword—dread powers!
How strongly ye have stirred this world of ours!
By different means, to different ends ye sway,
One with delight, the other with dismay
Homes, cities, nations, climes, religions, kings,
And all the boundless range of human things.
One, proud of Peace and her great gifts, aspires
To aid progression in its vast desires:
One, prone to waste, disorder, spoil, and pride,
Would turn the course of onward thought aside;
One lifts, enlightens, purifies, and saves;
One smites, degrades, contaminates, enslaves;
One hath a baneful, one a blest employ,
One labours to create, one leapeth to destroy!
Giant opponents! leagued with peace and strife,—
One blights, one beautifies, the forms of life;
One leads to pleasures, lofty and refined,
One, while it darkens, tortures humankind.
Stupendous twain! great ministers on earth
Of good and ill, of plenitude and dearth,—
One is the storm, the pestilence, the grief,
One the mind's health, calm, solace, and relief;
One is the hope, the majesty, the dower
Of man, still striving for a wiser power;
And one—dark game, which false ambition plays!
A fierce, but fading, error of old days.
The world grows weary of this sad unrest,
This night-mare of its myriad-hearted breast,—
This monster, breathing horror in its path,
This hideous thing of recklessness and wrath:
New thoughts, new deeds, more kindred to the skies,
Pregnant with better destinies, arise,
And 'mong the old iniquities of men,
The mighty Sword shall fall before the mightier Pen!
Ye worshippers of Warfare, can ye tell
Where are the right, the beauty, and the spell,
The glory, the morality, the gain,
Of the disastrous system ye maintain?
When ye have paved the battle-ground with bones,
To the sad music of a people's groans;
Wakened the cries of multitudinous woe,—
Done all ye can to slaughter arid o'erthrow;
Brought man's and nature's fairest doings down,—
Bold hearts and bloody bands! how holy your renown!
Holy? Dear God! War in his whole
Is rife with lawless force and hopeless fear;
And, spite of gorgeous garniture and forms,
With inward agonies and outward storms;
Lust, riot, ruin hang upon his breath,
Tumultuous conflict, and dishonoured death!
Let not the youth whose spirit pants to win
By lofty labours, fame unsoiled with sin,
Seek it amid those desolating hordes
That gird Ambition with embattled swords;
Nor desecrate his soul—which God has made
For nobler things—in War's unhallowed trade.
But let him serve his country as he can,
With pen, tongue, action, as becomes a man
Bent upon toils that dignify and grace,
And bring some blessing to the human race.
See the poor soldier—no unworthy name
When wielding moral weapons 'gainst the shame
Born of a thousand social ills and wrongs,
Which dash with bitterness the Poet's songs;—
See the poor soldier, from less guilty life
Coaxed or coerced to tread the fields of strife,
Caught in a tavern; in a barrack bred
To things that blight his heart and cloud his head;
Shut up his sympathies, enslave his soul,
Hold natural impulse in a stern control:
Hoodwink his reason, paralyse his speech,
Uproot his virtues—all that's good unteach,—
Till he becomes,—oh! man thrice brave and blest!—
In war a terror, and in peace a pest!
And if he dare—for manhood sometimes will
Break through its bondage, spite of every ill,—
If he but dare by look, word, act, or flaw,
Mark his impatience of the iron law,
The Lash, laid ready for the needful hour,—
That just and gentle instrument of power,
That man-degrading, man-upbraiding thing,
Bearing at every point a scorpion's sting,—
Tears up the quivering flesh, extorts the groan,
Rouses to vengeance, or subdues to stone,
Making the being it pretends to win
A restless, reckless follower of sin;
Or a machine, now dead to fear and shame,
Whereby the well-born coward climbs to fame!
Fame, did I say? Can that enchanting thing,
For whose great guerdon Genius strains his wing,
Bedim her lustrous records with the tale
Of deeds, whereat the harrassed world turns pale?
They write it fame; but Reason, Truth, and Song,
Must find a darker word to designate the wrong!
But, hark! your country calls! up valiant sons!
Gird on your swords, prepare your murderous guns;
Some new aggression, grand in its design,
Strikes the wise rulers of your land and mine;—
Your country calls, and her strong law and voice
Admit no conscience, and allow no choice:
Ye wear War's gaudy badge, ye willing braves,—
Ask not the why and where, go at it, slaves!
Plenty may fail, and Commerce droop the while,
And Peace, for lack of light, refuse to smile;
The Arts may sicken, Science cease his toils,
And a sad people tremble at your broils.
What boots it if a wilderness be won,
Or a pacific nation half undone?
Go forth, nor let the hostile flag be furled
Till ye have cursed and conquered half the world!
But ere ye go, the Servant of the Lord
Must bless the banner, consecrate the sword;
Must pray the God of Battles—impious prayer!
To make your cohorts His especial care;
And, with a mock solemnity of mien,—
Ah! how unworthy of the sacred scene!—
Ask blessings on a bloody crowd that goes
To fetter human wills, and feast on human woes!
Dear Christ! commissioned from the Eternal Throne
To touch our hearts, and claim them for thine own;
Man of humility and patient pain,
Word without error, life without a stain;
Teacher of truths reflected from above,—
Pure type of Peace, and miracle of Love!
It shocks the soul, it makes the spirit sad,
To hear these men, in robes of meekness clad,
Beside the altars hallowed in thy name,
Sanction a giant sin, should brand their cheeks with shame!
It is the day of battle; morn's sweet light
Comes surging o'er the lingering shades of night,
And Nature, fresh as in her newest hour,
Looks up with calm and renovated power;
But hostile hosts, impatient for the day,
Panting like hungry tigers for the fray:—
For slaughter eager, and for conquest keen,
Crowd and encumber the enchanting scene;
Preparing to pollute, with gloom and glare,
What God has made so holy and so fair;
And with the life-blood of each others' veins,
Curse and incarnadine the peaceful plains.
The mournful bugle sings a startling note;
The cannon opes its fulminating throat;
Gleams the quick sword; upstarts the bristling lance,
A thousand files with deadly strength advance,
And with a wild tornado-shock of strife,
Each bosom burning with delirious life—
Meet midway; and the tumult rising high
Shakes the ensanguined ground, and troubles all the sky,
Fiercer and fiercer, till the noon is past,
Rages the battle's desolating blast;
Closer and closer, with unbated breath,
The martial multitudes contend with death,
Till the insulted sun, adown the skies,
Sinks in an ocean of resplendent dyes,
And pensive twilight, clothed in dewy grey,
Drops her dim curtain o'er the fitful fray;
Till baffled, bleeding, filled with pride and spleen,
Foe shrinks from foe, and darkness steals between.
But not in silence reigns the fearful night,
For muffled sounds denote the hurried flight;
And groans, upheaved from ebbing hearts, ascend
And shriek, and prayer, and malediction blend;
And ruffian violence, and frantic fear,
Strike with abrupt alarm the enquiring ear;
And reckless revel in the camp is heard,
And angry cries at victory deferred,—
And the mixed mockery of laugh and song,
From men that glory in gigantic wrong;
Till a new morning, lovely as before,
Smiles on the field that reeks with human gore,—
Wakes the rough soldier from his haunted sleep,
And gilds a scene "that makes the angels weep!"
For many a day the dread Golgotha lies
Hideous and bare to the upbraiding skies;
The gentle flowers, the yet surviving few,
Droop with the burden of unhallowed dew:
The lark, returning thither, soars and sings
With man's last life-blood on his buoyant wings!
The vagrant butterfly drops down to bear
The stains of slaughter through the summer air:
The quiet cattle startle, as they stray,
At ghastly faces festering into clay;
The stream runs red; the bare and blackened trees
Have ceased to wanton with the wayward breeze;
But the gaunt wolf and hungry vulture, led
By tainted gales that blow athwart the dead,
Hold loathsome banquet; till some friendly hand
Digs a great grave, and clears the cumbered land;
And pleasant winds, and purifying rains,
Sweep out at last the horror of the plains! *
Thought sickens o'er the scene:—come back, sweet Muse!
Nor soil thy sunny garments with the hues
Gathered from gory battle-grounds, and graves
Unheaped with warfare's immolated slaves,
Lest gentle bosoms, and disdainful tongues,
Tire of thy truths, and rail against thy songs.
Lo! in that quiet and contracted room,
Where the lone lamp just mitigates the gloom,
Sits a pale student, stirred with high desires,
With lofty principles and gifted fires.
From time to time, with calm inquiring looks,
He culls the ore of wisdom from his books;
Clears it, sublimes it, till it flows refined
From his alchymic crucible of mind;
And as the mighty thoughts spring out complete,
How the quill travels o'er the snowy sheet!
Till signs of glorious import crowd the page,
Destined to raise and rectify the age;
For every drop from that soul-guided pen
Shall fall a blessing on the hearts of men,—
Shall rouse the listless to triumphant toils,
Wean the unruly from their sins and broils;
Teach the grown man, and in the growing child
Transfuse a power to keep it undefiled;
Solace the weary, animate the sad,
Restrain the reckless, make the dullest glad,
Sow in the bosoms of our rising youth
The seed of unadulterated truth;—
Uproot the lingering errors of the throng,
Break down the barriers of remorseless Wrong;
Direct mind's onward march, and in the van
Send back electric thought from man to man:
This is the PEN'S high purpose—Can it fail?
Soul! scorn the shameful doubt! press forward and prevail!
Oh! for a day of that triumphant time,
That universal jubilee sublime;
When Marlboroughs shall be useless, and the name
Of Miltons travel through a wider fame;
When other Nelsons shall be out of place,
While other Newtons pierce the depths of space;
When other Wellingtons!—proud name!—shall yield
To mightier Watts, in a far mightier field!
When other Shakespears shall direct the mind
To Hero-worship of a purer kind;
When War's red banner shall, for aye, be furled,
And Peace embrace all climes, all children of the world!
* I find that this passage is
an unintentional imitation of a beautiful in
"The Battle of Life," by Charles Dickens.
THE PRESS AND THE CANNON.
The Cannon and Press! how they ban, how they bless
This beautiful planet of ours;
The first by the length of its terrible strength,
The other by holier powers.
More and more they are foes as the new spirit grows—
Will their struggles bring joy to the free?
For the wrongful and right—for the darkness and light—
Oh, which shall the conqueror be?
With a war-waking note from its sulphurous throat
The Cannon insulteth the day,
And flingeth about, with a flash and a shout,
The death-bolts that deepen the fray:
"Give me slaughter," it cries, as it booms to the skies,
And men turn to fiends at the sound;
Till the sun droppeth dun, till the battle is won,
And carnage encumbers the ground.
Then the reveller reels, then the plunderer steals
Like a snake, through the horrible gloom;
Then the maid is defiled, then the widow is wild,
As she fathoms the depths of her doom;
Fierce fires glare aloof, till the night's starry roof
Seems to blush at the doings of wrong;
Sounds of terror and woe through the dark come and go,
With fury, and laughter, and song!
When the morrow's fair face looketh down on the place,
All trodden and sodden with strife,
The grass and the grain are empurpled with rain
From the fountains of desperate life;
The stream runneth red, and the green leaves are shed,
That o'ershadowed its waters so clear—
For the bale-fire hath been on the desolate Scene,
And hath cursed it for many a year!
Reeking ruins abound on the war-withered ground;
In whose ashes sit shapes of despair,
And the voices of wail float afar on the gale,
Till the brute is appalled in his lair:
On the broad battle-floor, in their cerements of gore,
Lie thousands whose conflicts are past,
To furnish a feast for the bird and the beast
To fester and bleach in the blast.
But the tears of the sad, and the cries of the mad,
And the blood that polluteth the sod,
And the prayers of the crowd—solemn, earnest, and loud—
Together go up unto God!
Nor in vain do they rise—for the good and the wise,
And the gifted of spirit and speech,
Are waking the lands to more holy commands,
For peace is the lesson they teach.
Behold the proud Press! how it labours to bless,
By the numberless tones of its voice!
To lofty and low its grand harmonies flow,
And the multitudes hear and rejoice;
Scarce an ally of gloom, scarce an artisan's room,
Scarce a heart in the mill or the mine,
Scarce a soul that is dark, but receiveth a spark
Of its spirit, so vast and divine!
The Cannon lays waste, but the Press is in haste
To enlighten, uplift, and renew;
And the life of its lore—can we languish for more?—
Is the beautiful, peaceful, and true.
Man bringeth his thought, in calm solitude wrought
To be multiplied, scattered, and sown;
And the seed that to-day droppeth down by the way,
Is to-morrow fair, fruitful, and grown.
Joy, joy to the world! Press and People have hurled
Their slings 'gainst the errors of old;
One by one, as they fall, the poor children of thrall
Grow dignified, gladsome, and bold.
The Cannon and Sword—cruel, cursed, and abhorred
Cannot stay the proud march of the free;
They may ban and beguile the rude nations awhile,
But the PRESS will the conqueror be!
A WINTER SKETCH FROM OLDERMANN.*
Fair are the Springtide features of the hills—
Glorious their Summer aspect of repose—
Calm in Autumnal hues their shadowy forms—
But not less beautiful when Winter fills—
Their wild untrodden solitudes, and throws
Around them all the grandeur of its storms!
Such are my musings on the craggy crown
Of Oldermann, the sterile, stern, and cold,
As days sink sloping to the evening hour;
Round my proud centre mountain regions frown,
Abrupt and lone, wherein my eyes behold
Gigantic proofs of God's unmeasured power,
Which wake mute worship in the eloquent heart,
And lift the aspiring soul from common things apart.
What a religious silence is outspread
O'er all the rude and solitary scene—
So cold, so pure, so solemn, so serene—
From the deep valley to the mountain's head!
Ice-roofed, the stream runs mutely o'er its bed;
The torrent lingers in its midway leap;
The firs, in all their branches, are asleep;
The bird is absent, and the bee is fled;
From moss-fringed fountains not a tear is shed;
Of human life no shape or voice is near;
And the sole sound that greets my passive ear
Is the crisp snow-floor yielding to my tread:
Dumb seems the earth, and rifled of her bloom,
Like breathless beauty shrouded for the tomb.
Dear Heaven? it is a blessed thing to feel
My heart unwithered by the world, my mind
Wakeful as ever, and as glad to steal
Into the realms of wonder, unconfined,
As round me drops the drapery of night,
With the delicious dimness of a dream,
While the one herald-star, of restless beam,
Climbs, with the quiet moon, the etherial height.
Winter is Nature's Sabbath-time; and now,
With all her energies within her breast,
She folds her matron garments round her brow,
Sits down in peace, and takes her holy rest:
For wave, wood, mountain, star, moon, cloud, and sky,
In deep-adoring stillness, prove that God is nigh!
* A bold precipitous hill in the romantic valley of
a few miles from Ashton-under-Lyne.
HYMN TO THE CREATOR.
Praise unto God! whose single will and might
Upreared the boundless roof of day and night,
With suns, and stars, and glorious cloud-wreaths hung
The 'blazoned veil that hides the Eternal's throne,
The glorious pavement of a world unknown,
By angels trodden, and by mortals sung.
To God! who fixed old Ocean's utmost bounds,
And bade the Moon, in her harmonious rounds,
Govern its waters with her quiet smiles;
Bade the obedient winds, though seeming free,
Walk the tumultuous surface of the sea,
And place man's daring foot upon a thousand isles!
Praise unto God! who thrust the rifted hills,
With all their golden veins and gushing rills,
Up from the burning centre, long ago;
Who spread the deserts, verdureless and dun,
And those stern realms, forsaken of the sun,
Where Frost hath built his palace-halls of snow!
To God! whose hand hath anchored in the ground
The forest-growth of ages, the profound
Green hearts of solitude, unsought of men!
God! who suspends the avalanche, who dips
The Alpine hollows in a cold eclipse,
And hurls the headlong torrent shivering down the glen!
Praise unto God! who speeds the lightning's wing
To fearful flight, making the thunder spring
Abrupt and awful from its sultry lair,
To rouse some latent function of the earth,
To bring some natural blessing into birth,
And sweep disorder from the troubled air!
To God! who bids the hurricane awake,
The firm rock shudder, and the mountain quake
With deep and inextinguishable fires;
Who urges ghastly pestilence to wrath,
Sends withering famine on his silent path,
The holy purpose hid from our profane desires.
Praise unto God! who fills the fruitful soil
With wealth awaking to the hand of toil,
With germs of beauty, and abundance, too;
Who bends athwart the footstool of the skies
His braided sunbow of resplendent dyes,
Melting in rain-drops from the shadowy blue!
To God! who sends the seasons, "dark or bright,"
Spring's frequent resurrection of delight;
Summer's mature tranquillity of mien;
The generous flush of the Autumnal time,
The every-changing spectacle sublime
Of purgatorial Winter, savage or serene!
Praise unto God! whose wisdom placed me here,
A lowly dweller on this lovely sphere—
This temporary home to mortals given;
Which holds its silent and unerring way
Among the innumerable worlds that stray,
Singing and burning through the halls of heaven!
To God! who sent me hither to prepare,
By wordless worship, and by uttered prayer,
By suffering, humility, and love,
By sympathies and deeds, from self apart,
Nursed in the inmost chambers of the heart,
For that transcendent life of purity above.
THE QUEEN'S QUESTION; OR, THE RIVAL
Ladies,—who linger o'er this page
With pure and tranquil pleasure,
Moved by the words of Wit and Sage,
Or Bard's romantic measure,—
Deign to receive this random rhyme,
This brief and simple story,
Of Solomon's transcendent time
Of grandeur and of glory.
Fired at the splendour of his fame,
A proud and regal maiden
To Israel's distant kingdom came
With costly presents laden.
She brought bright gold from Ophir's mine,
Rich gems of mighty prices,
Raiment of colours half divine,
With perfumes and with spices.
With mingled majesty and grace,
A gorgeous crowd attending,
She met the monarch face to face,
In silent homage bending.
With dignified, but gentle, tone,
His eyes with kindness beaming,
The good king placed her on his throne,
In posture more beseeming.
The feast was spread, the hymn was sung,
The dancers bounded lightly;
Rare music through the palace rung,
And scented lamps burnt brightly,
Meanwhile the monarch urged his guest
To pleasure's sweet employment;
And both, by radiant looks, confess'd
The depth of their enjoyment.
With questions subtle, deep, refined,
In changing conversation,
The maiden task'd the monarch's mind
With skilful penetration:
But still, like gold thrice tried by fire,
Wit, wisdom, lore and learning
Came from the king, the sage, the sire,
With richer lustre burning.
The baffled queen was sorely tried,
And dumb with pleasing wonder;
But what can quell a woman's pride,
Or keep her spirit under?
Sheba, with persevering pains,
Assumes a modest meekness,
For one last question still remains
To prove her strength or weakness.
With quick and cunning hand she cull'd
A mass of seeming flowers,
And one of real sweetness pull'd
From lavish Nature's bowers.
In equal parts, with silken tie,
She bound the blushing roses,
Till each appear'd, to casual eye,
Twin pyramids of posies.
Within the spacious palace hall,
A fair mischievous thing;
She stood apart from each and all,
And thus address'd the king—
"Pray tell me, thou of high command,
To whom great thoughts are given,
Which is the work of human hand—
Which drank the dews of heaven?"
He gazed with earnest look and long—
The question was repeated;
But still he held a silent tongue,
Half angry, half defeated.
The pleas'd spectators cluster'd nigh,
And whisper'd—almost loudly,—
While Sheba, with inquiring eye,
Stood patiently and proudly.
'Twas summer, and some bees had stray'd
Away from fields and bowers;
They hovered round the royal maid,
And round the rival flowers:
To one gay group they clung at last,—
Their own strange instinct guiding;
But careless o'er the other pass'd,
Not one lone wing abiding.
"Fair queen! those floral gems of thine,
Where yet the wild bee lingers,
Where all the rainbow hues combine,
Were train'd by Nature's fingers!"
Thus spoke old Israel's king, aloud,
And every bosom started;—
The vanquish'd maiden blush'd and bow'd,
Then gracefully departed.
Of Solomon's exalted soul,
Of Sheba's mental merit,
A portion of the glorious whole,
'Tis well, if we inherit;
With sight to see, desire to know,
And reason our adviser,
Better and happier we may grow,
And surely something wiser.
Fair female flowers, which breathe and bloom
Where'er our lot hath bound us;
Flinging Affection's dear perfume
Delightfully around us:
Born with a beauty all your own,
In proud and pure completeness,
May well-deserving bees alone
Enjoy your summer sweetness!
A LAY FOR THE PRINTER.
Who will deny the dignity of that enduring toil
That penetrates earth's treasure-glooms, and ploughs her sunny
That flings the shuttle, plies the hammer, guides the spinning
Moulds into shape the rugged ore, and bends the stubborn steel?
That hews the mountain's rocky heart, piles the patrician dome,
Leans to some lone and lowly craft beneath a lowlier home?
And who shall say that my employ hath not the power to bless,
Or scorn the honest hand that wields the wonder-working Press?
With ready finger, skilful eye, and proudly-cheerful heart,
I link those potent signs that make the magic of my art;
Till word by word, and line by line, expands the goodly book,
Wherein a myriad eyes, ere long, with eager souls will look.
The lightning wit, the thunder-truth, the tempest-passion there,
The touching tones of poesy, the lesson pure and fair,
Come forth upon the virgin page, receive their outward dress,
And, to inspire an anxious world, teem glowing from the Press!
What were the Poet's vision-life, his rapture-moods of mind,
His heavenward aspirations, and his yearnings undefined?
His thoughts that drop like precious balm in many a kindred
His gorgeous fancies, and his feelings gloriously express'd?
What were his sentiments that make the hopeful spirit strong,
His fervent language for the right, his fearless 'gainst the
What were they to the "I'll multitudes—a nation's strength—
They sprang in thrice ten thousand streams triumphant from
The star-seer—honour to his name—with art-assisted sight
May travel 'midst the pathless heavens, and trace their founts
May weigh the planet, watch the comet, pierce those realms
Of suns that cluster thick as sands by Wonder's boundless
May mark, with mute exalted joy, some nameless orb arise
To shine a lawful denizen of earth's familiar skies;—
But these sublime and silent toils how few could know or
Save through the tongue that faileth not, the ever-voiceful
The student of the universe, the searcher of its laws,
Whose soul mounts, link by link, the chain that leads to God,
Who reads the old world's history in wondrous things that
Tombed in the rack-veins and the seas, ere man assumed
Who grasps the subtile elements and bows them to his will,
Tracks the deep mysteries of Mind, a nobler knowledge still;
Who adds to human peace and power, makes human
What warms, applauds, and cheers him on? His own
A proud preserver of the past, it gives us o'er again
Tully's golden tide of speech, a Homer's stirring strain;
Reflects the glory of old Greece, Rome's stern heroic
And tells us how they sank beneath the shocks of Time
Horatian wit, Virgilian grace, it keeps for us in store,
And every classic dream is fresh and lovely as of yore:—
How had these treasures been consigned to "dumb
But for the mirror of great things, the re-creating Press!
The Press! 'tis Freedom's myriad-voice re-echoed loud
The Poet's world-wide utterance of high and hopeful song;
A trump that blows the barriers down where fear and falsehood
A lever lifting yearning hearts still nearer to the sky!
In good men's hands it multiplies God's Oracles of Grace,
And puts them in a hundred tongues to glad the human race:
Oh! Christian truth! oh! Christian love! twin fires that burn to
What holier spirit than your own to purify the Press?
And yet it is an evil thing when wicked men combine
To use it for some selfish end, some fierce or dark design;
Who through it pour their poison-creeds, their principles of
To cripple, darken, and degrade the social forms of life.
Oh! ye of strong and upright minds, from such unhallowed
Defend the mighty instrument whence peaceful knowledge
Make it the bulwark of all right, the engine of redress,
The altar of our country's hopes—a chainless, stainless Press!
A RHYME FOR THE TIME.
On! ye have glorious duties to fulfil,
Nor fear, nor falter on the weary way;
Ye, who with earnest rectitude of will
Marshal the millions for the moral fray:
Ye, who with vollied speech and volant lay,
'Gainst the dark crowd of social ills engage,
Lead us from out the darkness to the day
We languish to behold; exalt the age,
And write your names in fire on Truth's unspotted page!
With hopeful heart and faith-uplifted brow
Press on, Crusaders, for the gaol is near;
Desert and danger are behind, and now
Sweet winds and waters murmur in our ear:
And plenteous signs of peaceful life appear,
And songs of solace greet us as we go;
And o'er the horizon's rim, not broad, but clear,
The light of a new morning seems to flow,—
We journey sunwards! on, and hail the uprising glow!
In the sad wilderness we've wandered long
Thirsting amid the inhospitable sand,
Cheered by that burden of prophetic song,—
"The clime, the time of freedom is at hand!"
And, lo! upon the threshold of the land
We strive and hope, keep patient watch, and wait;
And few and feeble are the foes that stand
Between us and our guerdon:—back, proud gate,
That opes into the realm of Freedom's high estate!
Not ours, perchance, the destiny to see
The unveiled glories of her inner bower,
But myriads following in our steps shall be
Equal partakers of the coming hour;
The unencumbered heritage, the dower
With its full fruits is theirs, with all its store
Of fine fruition and exalted power:
And Truth shall teach them her transcendent lore—
"Man towards the perfect good advanceth evermore!"
And in our upward progress through the past,
What giant evils have been trodden down!
Dread deeds which struck the shrinking soul aghast,
Branding the doer with unblest renown:
The Inquisitor's harsh face and gloomy gown,
Girt with a thousand torture-tools; the flame
In whose fierce folds the martyr won his crown,—
Are gone into the darkness whence they came,—
There let them rust and rot, in God's insulted name!
Knowledge hath left the hermit's ruined cell,
The narrow convent and the cloister's gloom,
With world-embracing wings to soar and dwell
In ampler ether, and sublimer room;
The vollied lightnings of her Press consume
The tyrant's strength, and smite the bigot blind;
Day after day its thunders sound the doom
Of some old wrong, too hideous for the mind
Which reason hath illumed, which knowledge hath refined.
Knowledge hath dignified the sons of toil,
And taught where purest pleasures may be won;
The peasant leaves his ploughshare in the soil
For mental pastime when the day is done;
The swart-faced miner, shut from breeze and sun,
While Nature reigns in beauty unsubdued,
Creeps from his caverned workshop, deep and dun,
And in his hovel's fire-lit solitude
Storeth his craving mind with not unwholesome food.
'Mid the harsh clangor of incessant wheels,
Beside the stithy and the furnace blaze,
Some soul, stilt hungering and enlarging, feels
The silent impulse of her quickening rays;
In the lone loom-cell, where for weary days,
And weary nights, the shuttle flies amain,
With his white web the weaver weaveth lays
To speed his labour, or beguile his pain,
Lays which the world shall hear, and murmur o'er again.
Proud halls re-echo with exalted song,
With calm instruction, or impassioned speech;
And who stands foremost in the listening throng?
The artizan, who learns that he may teach:
Longing, acquiring, holding, like the leech,
He cries, "Give, give!" with unallayed desire;
No point of knowledge seems beyond his reach:
Effort begets success, and higher, higher,
Like eagles towards the sun, his full-fledged thoughts aspire?
Nor is there danger in the liberal gift
Of soul-seed, cast abroad by Genius' hand,
Not weeds, but flowers and fruitful stems shall lift
Their forms of grace and grandeur o'er the land.
Like that proud tree by eastern breezes fanned,
From kindred roots a mighty forest made—
A brotherhood of branches shall expand
From the great myriad mind, affording shade,
Strength, shelter, and supply, when outer storms invade.
And by this patient gathering of thought,—
And by this peaceful exercise of will,
What wonders have been nursed, matured, and wrought!
What other wonders will they not fulfil?
Upheaves the valley, yawns the opposing hill,
Man and his hand-work sweep triumphant through;
Time swells, space narrows, prejudice stands still
And dwindles in the distance; high and new
Are all our dreams and deeds:—but much remains to do.
But War, that tawdry yet terrific thing,
The Ethiop's brand and bondage, the vile show
Of God's frail image from the gallows string
Dangling and heaving with convulsive throe;—
These man-made ministers of death and woe,
Shall we not crush them—Reason, Mercy, say?
Shall we not fling behind us, as we go,
These ancient errors? Reason answers "Yea!
Pure hearts and earnest souls will clear the encumbered way."
Hail to the lofty minds, the truthful tongues
Linked in an universal cause, as now!
Which break no rights, which advocate no wrongs,
Firm to the loom, and faithful to the plough!
Commerce, send out thy multifarious prow
Laden with goodly things for every land;
Labour, uplift thy sorrow-shaded brow,
Put forth thy strength of intellect and hand,
And plenty, peace, and joy may round thy homes expand.
Hail! mighty Science, nature's conquering lord!
Thou star-crowned, steam-winged, fiery-footed power!
Hail! gentle Arts, whose hues and forms afford
Refined enchantments for the tranquil hour!
Hail! tolerant teachers of the world, whose dower
Of spirit-wealth outweighs the monarch's might!
Blest be your holy mission, may it shower
Blessings like rain, and bring, by human right,
To all our hearts and hearths, love, liberty, and light!
POETRY IN COMMON THINGS.
Saturn's night, dark, silent, chill, and late,
My exhausted fire was dying in the grate;
My taper's wick was waxing large and long,
While I sat musing on the gift of song,
With all its soul-born influences, and power
To soothe or strengthen in the varying hour,
Upon my table, in promiscuous crowd,
Lay the great minds to whom my spirit bowed;—
Shakespear, the universal, and the bard
Who Gloriana sang without reward,
Save that which Fame accorded him for ever!—
Dryden, the child of change, whose best endeavour
Was aye beset with troubles, though his string
Rang out in praise of Commonwealth and King;
Milton, the mighty, dignified, and pure,
Born with a soul to battle or endure:
Pope, the euphoneous, whose every theme
Is smooth and flowing as the summer stream;
The cold and caustic Swift, whose loveless heart
Knew not the pangs he laboured to impart;
Goldsmith, whose muse is ever undefiled,
"In wit a man—simplicity a child!"
The grave sarcastic Cowper, best of men!
And Crabbe, the moral Hogarth of the pen;
Calm Campbell, dazzling Moore, to fancy dear;
The erratic ploughman, and the wayward peer;
Southey, the sorcerer, whose wizard strain,
Alas! is silent, ne'er to sound again;
Wordsworth, now full of honourable years,
Whose thoughts do often lie "too deep for tears;"
Coleridge, of dreamy lore, (who shall excel
His wild and wondrous fragment, "Christabel?")
Baronial Scott, the heir of deathless glory,
And him who sang Kilmeny's fairy story;
Ideal Shelley, and ethereal Keats,
With their fine gathering of luxurious sweets;
Leigh Hunt, who loves a quaint, but cheerful lore,
And Lamb, as gentle as the name he bore;
Elliott the iron-like, but sweetly strong,
And the Montgomery of sacred song;
The fervid Hemans of the magic shell,
And that lorn nightingale, sweet L. E. L.
These are a glorious number, yet not all
Whose words have held me in delicious thrall.
Weary with many thoughts, I went to sleep,
(Mysterious mute existence!) calm and deep
My slumbers came upon me, while my dreams,
Tinged with the beauty of a thousand themes
From childhood cherished, crowded through my brain,
Bright things a waking eye might seek in vain.—
Freed from its daily struggles with the real.
My spirit sought the infinite ideal,
And revelled in its regions for a time,
Where all is pure, extatic, and sublime.
With clear, unbounded intellect, and tongue
To utter at my will undying song,
My lips dropped poesy, like flakes of light,
As though some wandering angel, in his flight,
Had waved his radiant pinions o'er my head,
And shaken plumage off. Forth from my bed,
When the spring morning shed its lustrous rain,
I leapt in joy, and seized my pen to chain
A thousand splendid visions which had crept
Through my delighted being as I slept;
But like a breath upon a mirror's face,
They lapsed away, nor left a lingering trace.
Finding my muse had crippled both her wings,
And fluttered earthward, back to common things,
I went to breakfast, wrapt in thoughtful gloom,
While Sabbath sunshine pouring in my room,
Hung brightly upon ceiling, wall, and floor,
And laid a golden bar across my door;
I could not choose but own its silent power,
And feel in calm accordance with the hour.
The scribbling fit was on me, but in lieu
Of soaring into regions high and new
Of perfect Poesy, I strove to climb
The little mole-hill of imperfect Rhyme.
The ample table-cover drooped adown
In graceful folds, white as a bridal gown,
Or childhood's shroud, or vestal-maid's array,
Or blossoms breathing on the lap of May,
Or cygnet's breast, or those fair clouds that lie
Hovering in beauty in a summer sky;
Or snow on Alpine summits, (thus you see
We get at poesy by simile.)
The bread suggested corn-fields broad and yellow,
Touched by the autumn sunbeams mild and mellow
The rustle of full sheaves, the laugh and song
Of jolly reapers, sickle-armed and strong,
And all the loud hilarities that come
To swell the triumph of a harvest home.
And then the restless and secluded mill,
Moved by the gushings of a mountain rill,
With its moss-grown and ever-dripping wheel,
Churning the waters till they flash and reel,
Came up distinct before my mental gaze,—
A well-remembered picture of old days.
The unctuous butter and the cooling cream,
Though simple in themselves, inspired a dream
Of quiet granges seated far away
From towns and cities, and of meadows gay
With spring's innumerable flowers; of kine
Feeding in healthful pastures, (how I pine
To rush into the fields!) of dairies sweet,
Where buxom damsels, rosy-lip'd and neat,
Have pleasant toils; and last, the ingle side,
Scene of the farmer's solacement and pride.
The juicy lettuce and the pungent cress,
At least in fancy's hearing, spoke no less
Of trim-laid gardens, and complaining brooks,
Winding away through green romantic nooks,
To schoolboys and to lovers only known,
Or Poets wandering in their joy alone;
And then the coffee, with its amber shine,
In aromatic richness half divine—
Brought Araby and Araby the "Nights,"
Which in my boyhood filled me with delights
That linger yet. To memory how dear
The generous Caliph, and the good Vizier:
The silent city with its forms of stone,
Its crowded streets so wonderfully lone:—
Sinbad, of eastern travellers the great;
Aladdin's potent lamp, and splendid state,
And all that dreamy mystery whose power
Hath kept one wakeful till the morning hour.
Alas! that time's remorseless hand should raze
Those magic mansions of our early days,
Wherein we dwell in quietude and joy,
As yet unconscious of the world's annoy;
But still, though time, and even truth, be stern,
'Tis well if we can meditate, and learn
To gather solace from the meanest springs,
And see some beauty in the humblest things;
For to the willing heart and thoughtful mind,
To eyes with pride and prejudice unblind,
Germs of enjoyment and for ever rife,
E'en on the waste of unromantic life.