Dreams and Realities (2)
Home Up Biography Hours with the Muses Poetic Rosary Autumn Leaves Miscellaneous Poems Unpublished Poems Miscellanea Main Index Site Search


 

[Previous Page]


PASSION AND PENITENCE: A TALE.


In the heart of the fair and fertile county of Kent, not without reason called the garden of England, stands the village of Mayburn; and if the rapid and gigantic changes of the last twelve years have not invaded its peace, and disturbed its whereabouts, it is as lovely a spot as any one, weary of the busy world's din, heartlessness, and misery, could wish to make a refuge and a sanctuary of holy and ennobling thoughts.  Swerving a little from the great highway to Dover, it nestles down in a warm and narrow valley, shut in by wooded slopes and cultivated uplands.  On the surrounding level of its fields the hop, the grape of Kent, grows luxuriantly; and a stream, bright as the face of childhood, with a voice as silvery sweet, with a course as wayward and pleasant, winds through and about the separate and mingled beauties of the scene.  Mayburn possesses all the characteristics of an English village of the best class.  Its group of white dwellings, their well thatched roofs streaked with moss; their latticed windows glistening in the sunlight, and gay with flowering plants; their strips of garden neatly trimmed and productive, present to the stranger's eye something which satisfies and delights.  Its one inn, with its pendent sign standing apart between two old sentinel trees, and swinging lazily and audibly to the wind, seems to invite one into its snug recesses, thereto forget one's cares in the truly English comforts it affords.  Its old chard, with its low square tower, whose dim dial plate thrusts its admonitory face through the clustering ivy, stands on a neighbouring eminence, a holy and necessary feature of the place.  Beneath, where "the rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep," lies the green grave-yard, rife with solemn lessons of mortality, and which the hand of vulgar taste has not dared to desecrate.  Within a rood's length, under the shadow and protection of the church, is the anciently endowed school-house, whence issues the daily hum of embryo scholars labouring at the irksome task, or the sharp authoritative voice of the schoolmaster, which for a moment subdues the murmur, as a lap of thunder seems to silence the audacious chidings of the sea.  Contiguous, dropped as it were by chance in a sheltering dell, the rectorage lifts its pointed and fantastic gables, its turret chimneys and broad bay windows.  Its sharp angles, shady corners, and pendent eaves, with the swallows twittering about them; its tasteful grounds, where the wildness of nature is chastened, not checked, and all its comfortable and becoming appliances, make it a most comfortable and picturesque abode, in perfect keeping with the whole scene.  A little way from the village, seated on the stream, is an old mill, which to look upon from a short distance, when the motion of its wheel flings off its spray to sparkle in the sun, is a precious morsel for the painter.  Here and there may be discerned a few residences of the gentry looking down from the wooded hills, or glancing from quiet nooks in remote corners of the valley.  Then there are scattered farms, and romantic wood-paths, and branching bowery lanes, which lead to rural haunts as pleasant as our imaginations.  Such is the picture of Mayburn, as we beheld it some twelve years ago; and such is the principal scene of our story.

    In the spring of the year 1816, the curiosity of the good people of Mayburn was excited by the circumstance of a strange lady appearing among them, accompanied by a female of matronly deportment and maturer years.  The lady, who was young and eminently beautiful, wandered for two or three days about the village and its vicinity, evidently taking a pleasurable interest in all she saw.  At length she took a small unoccupied cottage which stood apart, surrounded by a still healthy looking garden, in a retiring nook of the village.  In a few days simple but elegant furniture was brought from a neighbouring town, and the strange lady, with her elder companion, and an interesting boy of three or four years of age, were duly installed in their new residence.  On the following Sunday the strange lady, with her little household, appeared at church.  Every eye was upon her; but any eye, however quickened by curiosity, envy, or prejudice, could see nothing in that beautiful, serene, and melancholy face, but what awakened sympathy and respect.  To this feeling we must attribute the silence, the kind but enquiring looks of the rustics of Mayburn, as the strange lady and her solitary family left God's house on the evening of her first Sabbath amongst them.

    In a few days the lady was discovered to be a foreigner, but of what land remained to be known.  She appeared to understand our tongue but very imperfectly; but the lisping, broken, and gentle idiom in which she expressed her wants, and her frank, liberal, and modest demeanour had charm which could not be withstood, so that she gained the tacit affections of her neighbours before she was prepared to receive or appreciate them.  By degrees she insinuated herself into the good graces of the inhabitants of Mayburn, individually and collectively.  She would take daily rounds among the people she had adopted; pause at one door to converse in her pleasing hesitating way, with some housewife, patting the while the rosy cheeks of wondering children; enter another, where the aspic, of poverty seemed to invite her and drop her heart-giving mite into the palm of its needy and grateful occupant, hurrying away from the sound of blessings called down upon her head.

    Madame Santerre, for such was the superscription of the few letters she received, was understood to be the widow of a French officer who fell in the wars of the Peninsula; but why she chose to estrange herself from her own country and seek seclusion in an English village, could not be ascertained.  That she had some deep-seated cause for sorrow was evident to all who observed to her.  She was habitually thoughtful, and absorbed in some feeling too great or too sacred to be breathed in the ear of the common world.  She was sometimes, by the few considerate and respectable people privileged to visit her, surprised in her tears; but the loss of a brave and beloved husband, and anxiety for the welfare of an orphan child, was deemed to be a sufficient reason for the solitary indulgence of her grief.  Her time seemed almost exclusively devoted to her household duties, the education of her son, and frequent visits to the sick and indigent of the village.  In these last good offices she was guided and often accompanied by the venerable rector.  He seemed to be the only one who possessed her confidence, and if her secret was confided to him (for she had a secret) it was kept inviolate, for not a word was dropped which pointed to the truth, till a combination of unexpected circumstances unravelled the mystery, and brought to the heart of the fair foreigner a joy for which she was unprepared.

    Ten years had elapsed since she took up her abode in the village of Mayburn, with whose unsophisticated sons and daughters she had become an established favourite.  Curiosity had subsided; her son was grown up into an intelligent youth: and she, though still beautiful, had a somewhat paler cheek and a more matronly deportment.  Her venerable and pious pastor was gathered to the grave, and one much younger succeeded him; but every one soon found cause to rejoice in so worthy a successor.  He was a man yet on the sunny side of forty years, of a commanding figure, grave, benevolent, and intellectual countenance, and a voice singularly impressive.  In his duties, both in and out of the church he was as assiduous, earnest, and charitable.  Wherever there was an error to be rectified, a soul to be instructed, a mind to be consoled, there for the pure love of God and man was the rector to be found.  His exhortations were characterized by a simple and natural eloquence, which appealed at once to the understanding, riveting the attention and gently opening the heart for the reception of those pure and sublime truths it was his sacred office to expound.  He was a scholar, and a man of considerable scientific knowledge; and the rectorage became the resort of similarly constituted minds.  The good and the great were often his guests, and save that, nor wife nor child hallowed his household by their loving and delightful presence, his home might be deemed one of all but perfect happiness.  To his duty as a gospel teacher every other pursuit, as being of secondary importance, was properly subservient; but he nevertheless enjoyed the world as a rational and responsible being for whom Providence had abundantly provided, and to whom had been entrusted the means of dispensing blessings to others.  To his equals he was courteous, communicative, and hospitable; to the poor, kind, considerate, and parental in his generosity: but his hospitality was neither ostentatious nor unwisely lavish, nor his religion austere or affected.  He was all that could be desired of a man in so onerous a situation; he felt its full importance, performed his duties in a meek spirit, and was in consequence revered and beloved by his flock and all who knew him.

    Such was the unexaggerated character of the Rev. Edward Morland, the new rector of Mayburn.  To such a man Madame Santerre could not remain long unknown.  The fact of her being a foreign lady, respectable in station, and popular because of her many charitable acts, could not fail to lead to such an event.  It was, however, brought about much sooner than she expected, in a singular manner, and with results that gave a new and interesting aspect to her hitherto solitary and mysterious existence.  Proceeding to the church, one beautiful spring morning, she took her accustomed seat near and in front of the pulpit.  The solemn service, the sweet and voluble tones of the organ, the harmonious and reverberated chant of the choir, the hallowed and venerable features of the place, altogether prepared the mind for deep and serious impressions, and this morning Madame Santerre felt unusually disposed to the indulgence of tender feelings; in spite of herself a few tears, stirred by recollections of the past, trickled from her pensive eyes and fell on her folded hands, and a melancholy serenity of thought succeeded.

    In a few minutes the rector entered the pulpit, and as he uplifted his face after a brief but silent prayer, Madame Santerre was struck with its resemblance to one she had looked upon long ago, and which still haunted her daily memories and nightly dreams.  Could it be that her long cherished hopes were about to be realized?  Could it be that face, that tongue, just reading a fervent passage from the divine book, which had beguiled her youth and embittered half her life?  No! his grave and earnest countenance, pale with holy musings; his sacred office; his position in the church, all forbade it.  She dismissed the thought.  The good rector had given his text and entered considerably into his discourse before the attention of Madame Santerre became fixed on the subject.  By a natural digression he commenced a description of the horrors of war.  He pictured the dazzling and imposing pageantry of armies proceeding to and gathering on the scene of action, the din and awful collision in the onset, the subsequent carnage and confusion, the exulting shouts of the victorious, and panic of the defeated; the gradual subsidence of the clash of arms and the thunder of the cannon; the following comparative and mournful silence, broken only by the groans of the dying, and the stealthy stops and compressed curses of the prowling plunderer, who under the shadow of the night, and with the horrid licence of his trade, stalked among the fallen to quench the remaining sparks of life, and insult the stiffening corpse by rifling it of raiment, or of those little mementos of affection which a wife, lover, sister, or parent, bedewed with their tears, and consigned to its keeping in the last parting and bitter hour.  He went on to describe a town in a state of siege; the alternate attack and stratagem of the besieger; the terror, physical suffering and resolute defence of the besieged; the final entrance of the foe; the tide of reckless and merciless soldiery rolling in, and sweeping all before it.

    Madame Santerre's heart beat violently, and a sickening sense of mental bewilderment came over her; but she kept her eyes riveted on the speaker's face.

    He proceeded to complete his description.  He spoke of God's temples being entered and wantonly desecrated; of the pavement of the streets slippery with gore; of the terrible glare of fired houses lighting the mass of men, transformed for a time into devils incarnate, to their noisy and beastly orgies; of the sanctuaries of home being invaded, and wives and daughters being openly and shamelessly violated in the compelled presence of husbands and fathers; of every species of outrage being committed which force could accomplish, or cruel and lawless passion suggest.  He concluded by condemning, in forcible, eloquent, and convincing language, all warfare as deplorable, iniquitous, and altogether unchristian, of incalculable mischief to man, and eminently sinful in the sight of God.  He would rejoice to see the civilized nations lay down the sword and take up the olive branch, and by their united influence annihilate, then and for ever, so destructive, so universal a calamity.  It was indeed a glowing and truthful picture the pastor drew, and, as if overpowered by the vividness of his own description, he paused from excess of emotion, bowed his face in his hands and was silent.

    Madame Santerre had fainted and fallen from her seat, and, amid the surprise of the rector, the temporary confusion of all, and the tears of many, she was borne out of the church and conveyed home.  This was but the re-awakening of her secret sorrows to enhance the sudden joy, and the long and tranquil happiness which were yet in store for her.

    On the morning following a Sabbath so eventful to Madam Santerre, she beheld from her window the rector passing through the wicket-gate of her garden, in his approach to the cottage.  With an indescribable feeling she met him at the door, and ushered him into her neat parlour.  "I call, as in duty bound," said he, "being witness of your indisposition at church, yesterday, to offer such assistance and consolation as I can give, to alleviate, if possible, your distresses, let them arise from what causes they may."  Madame Santerre replied, that "his discourse relative to the miseries of war had merely awakened certain painful recollections, which had for a moment overpowered her; but assured him that she was now quite well."  They now sat down, and, to set the lady more at ease, the rector conversed in French, which he spoke gracefully and fluently.  He entered upon general topics with an acuteness of remark, and a propriety of language, which at once interested and charmed.  When he spoke upon serious subjects with an earnest but subdued voice, Madame Santerre listened to him with the most profound attention, hanging upon the tones in which he delivered his sentiments with a fondness which surprised her, they were so unaccountably familiar to her ear: and as she stealthily scrutinized the face of the speaker, its features and expression answered to the strange fancy her memory had conjured up.  As, however, he never alluded in the slightest degree to times and circumstances of which she wished to hear, and on which half of her past life had depended, she again dismissed her newly formed hopes, with the conclusion that human faces and voices might be so alike as to deceive an anxious and sensitive imagination like her own.  In half-an-hour the good pastor took his leave, pleased with his new friend, and the feeling was reciprocal.

    He called again and again upon Madame Santerre, every time showing new proofs of his regard, and the interest he took in her welfare.  He undertook to superintend the education of her son, and according to her express wish, to prepare him for college or some respectable profession.  He now lengthened his frequent evening visits, and beguiled the hours so pleasantly and profitably with her and her little household, that his unexpected absence was felt as a disappointment.  Gradually a warm and serious sentiment, which she strove in vain to control, arose in the breast of Madame Santerre.  The feeling could not be mistaken—she had felt it before; and though less passionate and romantic than in her youthful days, she knew that it was love—love for her pastor, Edward Morland.  The discovery gave her infinite pain; but she locked up the secret in her heart, although she yearned to expend its treasury of affections upon one so worthy to receive them, and patiently waited the unfolding of events.

    Six months passed away in this delightful intercourse but nothing had transpired, nothing had fallen from the lips of the rector to fan the fair widow's unfortunate but virtuous passion.  He was respectful as ever, frank, ardent, and disinterested in his friendship for her, but nothing more.  At length, however, when Madame Santerre sat one evening in company with her faithful domestic, plying her needle in silence, and brooding over the melancholy events of her past life, the rector made his customary call.  He did not enter the apartment with his old cheerful smile, but with a mild reserved air, saying "Madame Santerre, can we be alone?  I have something to communicate."  The domestic withdrew.

    After a brief embarrassing silence, he said "Victorine,"—he paused.  This was the first time he had addressed her thus familiarly, and it had the effect of bringing the warm blood into her face, to which a deadly paleness instantly succeeded.  "Victorine," he resumed, "I come to speak to you on a subject which lies very near my heart, and which I have well considered.  It rests with you whether it be favourable or not to my future happiness.  Since the simple event which led to our first acquaintance, I have had numberless opportunities of judging of your general temper, prudence, and virtue.  The mental scrutiny has resulted to your credit and my own satisfaction.  I know you are amiable and discreet; I know you are intelligent and yet beautiful; I believe you are pious and above worldly reproach; I take your word that you are of good family, and though delicacy forbade enquiring into your youthful history, I doubt not it was equally pure with the maturer portion of your life.  Such being my conviction, you have my esteem, and, need I say it, Victorine? a more exalted and warmer feeling even than that."

    Madame Santerre sat drooping in her chair, trembling violently, but endeavoured in a scarcely audible voice to express her thanks for his good opinion.  Emotions, explicable only to herself, shook her whole being.  Mr. Morland went on—

    "In my quiet musings, after those brief intervals of enjoyment in your society, I have looked round my abode, and, spite of its many comforts, fancied that it looked lonely and cheerless.  Though I had never observed it before, the enlivening presence of a faithful and confiding woman seemed wanting.  I looked about me for the desirable object of my household, and my choice—could it miss?—rested upon you.  I felt the hold you had taken of my affections, but forbore to explain my sentiments, from a fear of being too premature, till now.  I am now decided; and if a man who had seen enow of the world's vanities to despise their false glitter—if a heart which has been chastened, and, I trust, purified by early mental suffering, but which is still capable of loving, be worthy your acceptance, I here offer them in exchange for yourself and your esteem.  I cannot woo with the romantic ardour of a youthful lover, but your good sense will not expect it.  If none more favoured has forestalled me in your affections, may I beg to know if your heart can respond to my own?  May I hope that the coming winter will see you the presiding mistress of my house?  God has been pleased to surround me with worldly comforts, and by the continuance of his blessing I can be a guide and father to your son, a devoted companion to yourself, and we can share the joy of doing good among our fellow-creatures, keeping in view the teachings and example of Him in whose service I am engaged, and to whose glory every deed of my life, I hope will be dedicated.  I wait for your decision.  Take time to examine your heart, and if its pleadings are in my favour my happiness is complete."

    With calm but desperate courage Madame Santerre replied to the good rector; she fully appreciated the honour conferred upon her by the unqualified offer of his heart and hand and confessed with diffidence and delicacy that she felt far from indifferent towards him; but argued the necessity of a little time for consideration on so important a step as marriage, fraught as it would be with misery or happiness to both.  In a week she would be prepared to enter into the details of her life previous to her coming to Mayburn, with a full trust in his integrity, and leave him to renew or withdraw the generous advances he had made, as a knowledge of her history might prompt him to act.  Mr. Morland was pleased with her candour, and acknowledged the reasonableness of her proposition.  He would wait with patience, though not without anxiety, the appointed time, and leave her till then in the care of her good angel.  At parting he took her extended hand, kissed it respectfully and affectionately, and quitted the house.  The widow sought her chamber, full of bewildering thought and misgivings as to the effect of her promised disclosure.  Her prayers were not unavailing that night in Heaven.  Having asked council of God, she resolved what course to pursue before slumber closed her eyes.  "For fourteen years," she mused, "have I estranged myself from my own land, pursuing a shadow which eludes my grasp, nursing a foolish love and a vain regret, mourning over the commission of a guilty act to which cruel circumstances, in some measure, compelled me, keeping my secret with unshrinking firmness, bearing up against my grief with unwearied fortitude, and finding, at last, in this sweet retirement something like retiring peace and tranquillity, when this good man, this Edward Morland, comes to change the whole current of my feelings, and to offer me happiness I am not prepared to accept.  If I tell him the whole truth, he knows my shame, and will, I fear, reject and despise me.  If I disguise it, I retain him by life-long deception, which my soul abhors,—a deception which would prey upon my heart, and dash my cup of happiness with gall.  No; I cannot dissemble to him as I have done to the world.  Injustice to a kind and honourable man, and for the sake of that peace of conscience hypocrisy cannot purchase, I will reveal my misfortunes, and trust to Heaven for the result.  With him, I doubt not, my secret will be in safe keeping, and if I sacrifice my hopes it shall, at least, be at the shrine of truth."

    With this determination Madame Santerre went about her duties with cheerfulness and alacrity.  A burden and a shadow seemed to have passed from her mind; and when on the appointed evening Mr. Morland made his appearance, she felt confident in her power to bear the approaching trial.

    "Well, Victorine," he said, as he entered, "I hope your good angel, under whose guardianship I left you, has dictated a favourable response to my wishes."

    The widow smiled faintly and sat down pale and composed.

    "Mr. Morland," she began, "I have well considered your generous and honourable offer.  I have done considerable violence to my feelings in preparing myself for this, to me, important meeting.  Though I claim your friendship, I feel I am not worthy of your love.  I cannot to you dissimulate.  With reverence for your sacred character as a minister of the Gospel, with respect for yourself as a man, I cannot go to the altar with premeditated duplicity—with a lie lurking and rankling in my heart.  I have committed a grievous sin, which will set a barrier between us,—a sin in expiation of which I have shed many bitter tears.  I trust that my God, against whom I have chiefly offended, has forgiven me; and shall I not expect pity from a fellow creature?  In divulging the particulars of my early life, I throw myself on your compassion.  I ask your sympathy, end place implicit faith in your secrecy.  More than this I dare not hope for.  To begin the history of my misfortunes, I have, contrary to your belief, never been married."

    "Never married, Madame Santerre?" exclaimed the rector, quite astounded and incredulous, "but your son"—

    "Is the child of guilt and dishonour."

    "Guilt and dishonour, Victorine!" muttered he, paralysed and bewildered, "then alas for thee and me!"

    "Alas, indeed!  Hear my story, and judge between my culpability and misfortunes.  My parents were French protestants; I was their only child and along with an education suitable to my station, I received their religious opinions.  My father made some successful mercantile speculation, in Spain, and, for the sake of convenience, removed his family thither, where he shortly afterwards died.  The loss of my father, shook my mother's delicate frame almost to dissolution, but recovering slowly, she resolved to return to France, when the British troops laid siege to the town in which we lived, and effectually prevented our removal.  In common with others we shared all the doubt, fear, and suspense of that terrible time.  At length the town surrendered, and the outrages of a victorious, licentious, and infuriated soldiery commenced.  Deaf to the voice of command, the appealings of reason, and the cries of innocence, nothing could restrain them.  Frenzy of the most diabolical kind took possession of them, and at this moment I shudder at the recollection of reports that hourly shocked our ears.  For a whole week they held the ascendancy, till the excess of their own fierce indulgences overmastered them.  It was night, on the first day of these horrors; I had just seen my mother to bed, feeble from sickness and terror, when a party of soldiers, reckless from drunkenness, forced the door, and entered the apartment where I sat with two or three domestics.  The servants fled, and left me to the fury of the intruders.  The men seemed to demand money, and while some ransacked the house in search of it, others pulled me rudely about and offered revolting indignities.  I was speechless with dismay, and though endowed with more than ordinary strength, I was near becoming the victim of their brutal passions, when one in the garb of a British officer entered, and confronting the men commanded them to desist.  They refused, but drawing his sword and shielding me with his person he kept them at bay.  Seeing him resolute, and beholding in him their own officer, they at length with loud and angry voices, reluctantly quitted the house.  When they were gone I fell on my knees before my deliverer, and thanked him in French for his generous and timely interference.  He addressed me in the same language, and leading me to a seat, assured me of his protection.  I now saw that he was young and handsome, of polished address and winning manners.  After some conversation he left me with a promise to keep watch over the house.  That night, though I could not sleep for the alarming sounds in the streets, I had no further molestation.  On the next day he called again, renewed his assurances of protection, and staid a considerable time.  Grateful for his kindness, and glad to have a protector near me, I could not urge his departure.  He talked warmly and eloquently on various subjects, and as he withdrew, expressed a hope that he might claim the privilege of a friend, and visit me as often as his duties would permit.  I know not how I answered, for his eyes and his tenderness said more than his tongue, and I felt his meaning.  I must confess that I was pleased with him and during his absence had a desire for his return.  To my mother, who was confined to her room, I had related my danger and delivery, and she bade me give such reception to the stranger as the merit of his act demanded, but cautioned me against overstepping the bounds of a proper end polite decorum.  For two days he came not again; and as the tumult of the town had not subsided, I was both alarmed and disappointed.  When he came it was nightfall; to his hurried knock and request to be admitted, as more than common danger was abroad, I answered precipitately.  He entered and secured the door, and to his desire that he might stay all night to guard the house, I offered no opposition, but leaving him with two male domestics, retired to my mother's apartment.  But you are indisposed, Mr. Morland.  Pray let me waive the rest till you are better."

    "Go on, Madame Santerre—for heaven's sake go on!  I must hear you to the end."

    Surprised and startled by the rector's singular and impressive manner, Madame Santerre proceeded:

    "Next morning, with considerable trepidation, I sat down to breakfast with my protector, who was cheerful and even gay, and exerted all his powers of pleasing.  At length he ventured to talk of love, and, encouraged by my silence, he declared his passion for me in the most earnest but respectful language, soliciting my pardon for his temerity, and offering his undivided and devoted heart.  As he spoke, I took a rapid survey of my own feelings towards him: his seeming rank, his amiable and fascinating manners, his cultivated mind, his personal bravery in my defence, my gratitude, all were in his favour, and pleaded for him with a power I could not withstand.  With a frankness which is natural to me, and with the proud but subdued delight of a girl who first sees man her worshipper, I confessed—could I do less? that I already loved him.  I need not describe our mutual confidence and happiness.  In a few days the frantic soldiery were reduced to order and discipline, and comparative peace was restored.  In the mean time my mother's health rallied, and every hospitable kindness that could express the deep sense of our obligation to the Englishman she unstintedly showered upon him.  Our interviews now became frequent and protracted.  Fearing to make my mother acquainted with what would appear to her a too premature connexion, we met in secret.  Every day we were knit more closely together—every hour saw me more entangled in the mazes of a new and romantic attachment.  By his artful designs—for I must now call them artful—my caution was gradually lulled to sleep; my scruples were over-ruled; my virtue was undermined; and in an evil and unguarded hour I became the victim of a guilty passion which I blush to name."

    Here Madame Santerre gave way to her feelings and wept, while the rector with a hurried step and troubled countenance, paced the apartment.  At length the widow resumed,—

    "A few weeks passed away in dishonourable and intoxicating indulgence, during which I saw no diminution of his tenderness.  One evening, how ever, he appeared unusually thoughtful.  Sitting beside me he slid a valuable ring on my finger and unclasped a bracelet from my arm, saying half-playfully, half seriously, "We will exchange tokens of affection, dear Victorine, keeping the talismans to remind us of each other when distance or duty keeps us apart."  I saw nothing in the sentence to alarm me.  I saw nothing but the unwonted gloom on his brow, and expressed my anxiety as to the cause.  With a sickly smile he pleaded indisposition, and with an embrace, during which I felt a tear—a tear of his shedding—fall hot upon my cheek, he departed.  I never saw him more.  On the following day I received a letter; it was from my lover.  With a trembling heart I tore it open, devoured its contents, and stood paralysed with fear, grief, and shame.  It was full of expressions of love and remorse.  'Under an assumed name,' he wrote, 'I have wooed and wronged you.  I mourn that inexorable circumstances prevent me making reparation; but as my heart can never be estranged from you, can those difficulties be removed, it will be my pride and pleasure to claim you as my wife.  Till then I implore you to be consoled, to forgive me, to believe that I am not the heartless seducer I appear.  We may possibly never meet again, but till the latest moment of my existence, my dear Victorine can never be forgotten, can never cease to be beloved.  Duty calls me hence; I depart this very hour.' "

    "This letter afforded no clue to where he might be found.  In vain I made enquiries.  In vain I made daily rambles through the town in the hope of again beholding him.  It was evident that he was really gone, and the sense of desolate despair that came over me words are inadequate to describe.  To add to my sorrow, my mother suffered a relapse, and as I watched over her with affectionate solicitude, brooding over my fate, fearing to lose the only being that connected me with the world, my fond parent would attribute my faded cheek to my toil and anxiety on her account.  It was indeed true in part, but I could not embitter the few days that remained to her by a confession of my guilt and grief.  She closed her eyes unconscious of my sin, and I laid her in the grave with a subdued and repentant spirit, returning home—alas! how lonely now!—with a strengthened, trustful, and tranquil mind.  I had scarcely performed this mournful duty than I began to feel the unquestionable consequences of my criminal love.  Alarmed at this new cause of trouble, and fearing exposure, I hurriedly arranged my affairs, discharged my domestics, disposed of my house, and with one female companion, who yet remains with me, set out for Paris, where my father's property had been chiefly invested.  Having secured my little fortune, I assumed the name of Madame Santerre, and took up my abode in a sequestered village, where I gave birth to my poor boy, who is yet ignorant of his mother's disgrace.  Here I stayed three years.  The innocent endearments of my child soothed my sorrow, and kept alive my love for his father.  A new hope, a new desire seized my mind.  I would visit the principal cities of France and England.  I might in my wanderings meet with him—he might be yet free and unchanged, and, oh! flattering idea! I might yet be compensated for all my sufferings on his account.  For a whole year I travelled incessantly, and made use of every honourable means to discover the object of my search, but in vain.  Wearied and sick at heart I at length took refuge here.  My one great hope gradually subsided.  Time did its work of consolation, and my one great misfortune seemed a thing of "long ago."  My love for the man who had wronged me gave way to a higher, a holier feeling.  Religion began to claim my whole heart, when your eloquence, Mr. Morland, gave poignancy to my recollections, and your noble offer put me to the necessity of making this painful disclosure.  Without reservation have I made it; and your commiseration, perhaps a continuation of your friendship, is all I can now expect; more than that I have not the presumption to claim.  A load is lifted from my mind, and with a full reliance on your honour, I resign myself to my solitary lot, too happy if I see my boy take a virtuous path, and an honourable position in the world, ere I die."

    Madame Santerre (as we must still call her) concluded her narrative with a deep sigh and a few tears of maternal solicitude.  With her eyes bent on the ground, she had not observed the many changes that had passed over the face of her auditor, in the course of her story.  He was now deathly pale and trembling with deep emotion, as he said, "Madame Santerre, there is something very strange in your history; and I feel, I hope, that I am in some way connected with it.  Will you satisfy some doubts that yet remain upon my mind?"

    "Anything, Mr. Morland, that may convince you of my sincerity."

    "Is your present name not Santerre?"

    "No; my real and only name is Jocelyn."

    "Good God!" ejaculated the rector.  "What was the assumed name of your lover—I mean your seducer?"

    "Alas!  I remember it too well!  It was Frederick Stanley."

    "Indeed!  But there have been, no doubt, many of that name in the British army.  Can you produce the ring he gave you, and the letter he wrote to you at parting?"

    "I can," said Victorine; taking them from a cabinet and laying them on the table: you will see that the ring contains an emerald, heart-shaped.  The letter is worn and stained with my tears."

    The rector took up the letter and scanned it closely.  Having read it end laid it down calmly on the table, there was a tear upon it, which said more than words.

    "In what town of Spain did these painful events of your early life take place?"

    "In Badajos, after the siege in 1812."

    With compressed lips, but with an expression of eye which indicated inward pleasure, Mr. Morland walked slowly about the room, purposely averting his face from the anxious, searching, and enquiring looks of the lady, a pause, he asked, with some hesitation, as if fearing her answer might frustrate his newly kindled hopes, "Was there about this Frederick Stanley any mark, any peculiarity by which you could recognize him?"

    "There was: he had on his neck a scar left by a bullet wound.  When questioning him concerning the dangers to which he had been exposed, he showed me this mark, and expressed his thankfulness that Providence had guarded him in the strife."

    Here, to the surprise of the lady, the rector threw himself at her feet exclaiming, "Rejoice with me! rejoice with me, my dearest Victorine!  Behold in me that Stanley—that infatuated and guilty man who robbed you of your honour, and who has been the cause of your tribulation.  In the course of your story I felt it would come to this, and I am now grateful to Heaven that I am permitted to offer that heart whose first love has never been wholly subdued.  But we knew not each other, beloved Victorine!  How is this?"

    Victorine, bewildered with astonishment, delight, and gratitude, had fallen upon his shoulders, and her tears were dropping thick and fast upon his uplifted face.  "Alas!" she replied, "fourteen years of sorrow and remorse will blanch and furrow the fairest face, and the difference of garb, place, and circumstance has aided the deception.  I had a vague presentiment, when I first saw you as God's chosen servant, that I had looked upon your countenance and listened to your voice in my youthful days; and am I not exceedingly happy to have found you at last!"  Once more, as of old, but in perfect purity and sincerity, their lips met, and seated by each other the rector explained some circumstances of his past life.

    "I was born of a good and pious family in the north of England.  My father designed me for the church, and I was educated at Oxford with a view to holy orders; but being of an ardent temperament, and fond of novelty and adventure, I expressed my preference for the army, which excited my father's anger and surprise.  Rightly judging, however, that a few years amid the dangers and discomforts of a soldier's life, would cool down my youthful impetuosity, he purchased for me a captain's commission, and I set out to reap laurels in the Peninsula.  After taking part in a few minor engagements I was at the taking of Badajos, where I had the good fortune my dearest Victorine, to protect thee from a brutal and merciless soldiery.  Little did I think that so many woes would have resulted from our first meeting.  I had not then learned to control my passions, and your beauty, your interesting position, your gratitude, and my own wild desires, all combined to effect your ruin.  Knowing I was not at liberty to offer you my hand, though my heart was yours, with a feeling of anguish and self-reproach I wrote that letter.  I was then ordered to a distant station, and departed immediately.  For six months, though I had much to occupy my mind as a soldier, I was absolutely miserable, hesitating between my love for you, and my ties and promises to those at home.  At length the caprice of the lady to whom I was betrothed released me from my engagements.  I hastened to communicate to you the joyful intelligence, renewed my vows, and promised, when my duties would permit, to fly to your arms, and make honourable amends for the wrongs I had inflicted.  Weeks passed away and no answer came to tranquilize my impatient mind.  I then requested a brother officer still remaining at Badajos, to make inquiries after you.  He informed me you were gone no one knew whither.  I was distracted, and with more recklessness than bravery, plunged into danger, and sought every kind of excitement in the vain hope of banishing your image from my memory.  It would cling to my recollection.  In the tent, in the field, at the feast, it was ever before me, and reproached me with almost unendurable gentleness.  Thus I existed, mentally and bodily tossed about, till the battle of Waterloo.  Here again I courted danger, but when victory furled the British standard I remained unscathed.  Disgusted with the enormities of the war system, weary of tumult, and the turmoil of my own mind, I gave up my commission, and was received by my family with affectionate joy.  To the great satisfaction of my father I recommenced my studies for the church, and began my new career with a small living at some distance from here.  With a truly changed and penitent spirit I gave myself wholly to my sacred duties, the performance of which afforded me a pleasure far higher than all the liberties of a mere worldly life.  At length I obtained the rectorage of Mayburn; and I believe that Providence has brought me hither for the especial purpose of atoning for my youthful crime by loving, guarding, and comforting thee, my Victorine; wilt thou not grant me such glorious privilege?

    "Need such a question be asked, Edward?  From this moment I am devoted to your slightest wish, and shall be proud to retain the truant I have sought so long."

    "I have but another request to make.  May I not see my boy this evening?  May not our marriage be solemnized immediately, Victorine?"

    "I will send for Charles; but we must prudently keep him ignorant of the circumstances of his birth for a time.  With regard to our marriage, permit me a little space to prepare my mind for that happiness I long since ceased to hope for.  It is now the end of October; let it be on Christmas day, Edward, a time to remind us of Him to whose service our future years must be devoted."

    The good rector assented, and their son was called in.  Mr. Morland took the boy's proffered hand and retained it, while the inward yearnings of the father's heart prompted him to fall upon his neck, but he restrained himself, and merely gazed affectionately in his child's face.

    "Charles," said his mother, "you must henceforth look upon Mr Morland as your father; can you not love and honour him as such?"  "I can mother.  I loved Mr. Morland long since, and am pleased to be allowed to call him father.  I shall be happy to prosecute my studies under a father's eye."

    Mr. Morland, with a gratified look, said, "Victorine, let us pray together."  This little family knelt down.  He prayed with more than common eloquence, fervour, and pathos, while Victorine in the fullness of her joy wept aloud.  When they rose, three happier hearts than theirs did not beat in the world.  Beseeching a blessing on the house and its inmates, the rector departed for his own dwelling with a feeling of profound peace arising from a consciousness of having done his duty, and of having given happiness to two beings so near and dear to him.

    A few weeks passed rapidly away, and on the morning of Christmas day Mr. Morland and Victorine by the most solemn and important of ceremonies for the living, were made one.  The rustics of Mayburn, who heard of the approaching event, had filled the church.  Their congratulations were sincere and hearty.  Their pastor gave bountiful largess them, and sent them grateful to their homes.  Mr. Morland then led his happy but trembling wife to the rectorage, where a few select guests awaited to receive them.

    "Welcome to thy future home, my own Victorine! " exclaimed he, as stepped over the threshold, "which thy sweet society will make a lit paradise for me, and where I shall pour my daily thanks to Heaven restoring thee to my arms.  Sinful was the PASSION; sincere has been the PENITENCE.  I trust we are forgiven."  Mrs. Morland threw herself upon her husband's neck, and wept in the fullness of her gratitude and joy.

    If there be among my readers any youth whose ardent spirit has been bewitched by the spurious grandeur of War, and who has longed to try his chance for distinction in the "tented field," I hope that this little tale may have tended, however slightly, to shake his faith in the "honour," the "glory," the "duty," said to belong to this disastrous and unchristian system.  They are specious names used to catch the ear and inflame the imaginations of young and unthinking minds.  "War is a game which, if men were wise, kings would not play at;" and as men begin to form correct notions of War and its enormities, a corresponding distaste and detestation of them will be created.  We may serve our country without shedding the blood of our fellow-creatures, recklessly and unnecessarily, at the bidding of men who would urge us into strife from expediency, vain glory, and intolerant self-love.  A feeling opposed to battle and bloodshed is taking deep root in the public mind of our own country, and who may tell her influence for good on other nations?  God prosper the feeling, and hasten the coming of that day of Jubilee when universal brotherhood shall be acknowledged and held inviolable, "and Peace embrace all climes, all children of the world."

 

_______________________

 
THE SEASIDE SOJOURN.

TO A POET-FRIEND.

 

My valued Friend! as generous and true
As bard could wish, when steadfast friends are few,—
Friend of the feeling heart and soul of fire,
Restrained and chastened by each just desire:
Whose thoughts are high, exuberant, and warm,—
Whose manners win, whose lightest words inform;
Whose deeds are ever on the helpless side
Of all who are oppressed and trouble-tried.
Thou hast not 'scaped the many-headed strife,
Which in the tangled labyrinths of life
Meets us at every turn, and strives to wrest
Peace from the mind, and pleasure from the breast;
But could I, as my wishes urge, extend
A prayer-won blessing unto thee, my friend,
Thy storms should cease, thy clouds should break away,
And leave the experienced evening of thy day
Calm in his joy, and in its brightness bland,
A fleeting foretaste of a happier land.
    Sick of the thoughtless revel, and the throng
Of paltry pleasures that have done me wrong,
Of envious malice and of spurious praise,
(The bane, the blight of my aspiring days!)
I come, with more than sadness in my breast,
To be with Nature a repentant guest;
And here, once more by the consoling sea,
Whose constant voice of solemn euphony
Disposes to serene, exalted thought,
I find the tranquil solacement I sought;
Put off my cares, repress regretful tears,
And wake fond memories of departed years.
Many and harmless are the spells that bind
To this calm spot my stricken heart and mind,
The grey and breezy downs, unploughed and bare:
The priceless luxury of healthful air;
The long lone ramble by the sounding shore;
The drip and sparkle of the measured oar;
The white winged sea-gull's low and laggard flight;
The green wave's fitful and phosphoric light;
The staunch and stately ships that come and go
With the strong tide's unfailing ebb and flow;
The hardy sailor's wild, peculiar cry,
As, with a spirit emulous and high,
His horny hands unfurl the fluttering sail
To catch the fullness of the freshening gale;
The steadfast beacon's red revolving shine,
Far-looking o'er the still or stormy brine
With calm and constant, needful, watchfulness,
To warn from danger, and to cheer distress.
Then the pure pleasantness at eventide,
Our faces brightening by the "ingle-side,"—
In social converse, various and new,
Merry or sad, with chosen friends and few,—
Of wit and wisdom, manners, books, and men,
Of the strong sword-plague and the stronger pen;
Of living laws that guard us or degrade;
Of peaceful arts that speed the wings of trade;
Of mild Philosophy's untold delights;
Of fearless Science in his daring flights:
Of fervid eloquence, whose wondrous tongue
Makes truth and falsehood, rectitude and wrong,
Play faithless and, withal, fantastic parts
On our deluded ears and doubtful hearts;
Till thou, my Friend, already brimming o'er
With classic story and poetic lore,
Dost lead us gently, by degrees, away
To mental regions of serener day,
Where Genius of a loftier, holier power,
Lives soul-rapt in the quiet of his bower,
Calmly creating and enjoying things,
(Born of emotions and imaginings.)
So sweet and stainless, truthful and sublime,
And so instinct with life, that even Time
Who makes material grandeur stern and hoary,
Adds to their strength, their beauty and their glory!
'Tis sweet again, with tranquil heart and limb,
Within my dormitory, small and dim,
To lie and listen to the lengthened roar
Of restless waters rolling on the shore,
And feel o'er all my languid senses creep
The soft and silent witchery of sleep;
With its mysterious crowd of glooms and gleams
Mixed in a wild romance of miscellaneous dreams.
    Once more there's pleasure, when my lattice pane
Admits the dewy morning's golden rain,
To hear the merry birds' melodious glee,
And the still sleepless and complaining sea—
Call me to spend another happy day
Of fresh, free thought—too soon to pass away!
    But there are other charms that gently hold
My world-sick spirit to thy little fold
Of joyous human lambs, that learn and live
'Mid many pleasures fair but fugitive;
That wist not wherefore, and that ask not when
Care claims the hearts, and dims the eyes of men.
The first that greets my inquiring eyes at morn
Is the sweet fay, thy loved and latest born:
Her with the ruddy and the rounded cheek,
And flowing elf-locks, amber-hued and sleek,
And ripe lips, like a virgin bud that blows
'Mid summer dews, a stainless infant rose:
Her with the thoughtless brow, and laughing eye,
Clear as the depths of the cerulean sky,
Where storms are brief, where shadows seldom dare
Pollute or trouble the salubrious air.
    Well do I know her father hath the power
(A dear, but yet, alas! a dangerous dower!)
To shrine his daughter in a song whose tone
Would be as sweet and lasting as my own;
But since he lays his trembling harp aside,
With a deep sense of not unworthy pride,—
Be mine the privilege, with words sincere,
To please an anxious father's willing ear.
    She duly comes—that little sprite of thine,—
A human form, but seeming half divine,
With the young morn, as fresh and free from care
As forest flowers that meet us unaware—
To kiss with ready lips her fond, firm mother,
Her kindly nurse,—her grave and growing brother,
Her yearning father, and her father's friend,
As if she sought her little soul to blend
With souls of sterner mood, and thus impart
Her own spontaneous happiness of heart.
With bright impatient face she rushes out,
Her lips disparted with a gleesome shout,
To make a merry pastime of the hours
In the romantic fields, knee deep in flowers,
Which with an eager hand she plucks to grace
The unravelled tresses floating round her face.
Else, with her young companions hand in hand,—
Leaving her tiny foot-prints in the sand,—
Roams the long level of the sloping shore,
Watching the waters—fearless of their roar;
Gathering the stranded shells wherewith to deck
The purer whiteness of her graceful neck;
Till in the full-tide splendours of the noon,
Humming with "vacant joy" some wordless tune,
She comes exulting from her pleasant toils,
And strews the floor with variegated spoils;
Worthless, perchance, to our maturer sight,
But to her own a treasure of delight.
The dinner done, the irksome lesson o'er,
Again she seeks her playmates, to explore
Haunts yet unvisited, or old ones where
All that salutes her earnest eyes is fair;
And every sound, to her untutored ears
Is as the fabled music of the spheres.
The shady quiet of some bosky dell,
And the cool sparklings of its little well;
The bustling brooklet hurrying past her feet
With a low murmur, tremulous and sweet;
A fluttering leaf—a waving flower—a tree
Shivering through all is foliage; a bee
Sitting assiduous on the honied bloom
Of clover, blushing in its own perfume:
The song and plumage of some fearless bird—
The cuckoo's shout from dim remoteness heard;
Mysterious Echo's mimic voice, that seems
Like that of spirit from a place of dreams;
The dauntless pleasure-toils to seek and find
The brown nuts nestling in their rugged rind;
The feast of bramble berries black and bright,
Staining the lip that prattles with delight;
The tale of fairy—childhood's cherished creed—
Of wild old thoughts, a treasury indeed!
Yea, all that Nature's outward form imparts
To win the worship of such sinless hearts,
Makes up her waking life, and makes it too
Seem ever gladsome, glorious, and new,—
Sending her home at the calm set of day
Subdued and silent from her joyous play;
Her light limbs weary, and her eyelids prest
By slumber—welcome, though unbidden guest,
Which lays her down, a pure unconscious thing,
In the soft shadow of an angel's wing.
    Oh!  Childhood is the Paradise of Life,
Long safe from sin, and separate from strife;
And heaven-appointed spirits hover round,
To guard from evil the enchanted ground,
Till the dread thing o'erleaps the hallowed wall,
Basks in our path, and lures us to our fall:
Bright thoughts and pure all stealthily depart,
Leaving a strange vacuity of heart;
Some necessary impulse seems to press
Our footsteps nearer to the wilderness,
Until we learn the knowledge of our doom
From the "small voice" that whispers through the gloom,
While unseen hands, and powerful, compel
Our going from the Eden where we dwell;
And at the boundary, the angel Truth,
With looks of pity on our dawning youth,
Waves the stern flame-sword in our startled eyes,
And turns us to the world where danger lies:
But happy we, if in our hearts we find
Aught holy from the home for ever left behind.
    I may not predicate what grief or glee
Awaits the darling of thy wife and thee,—
Her fate lies folded in the breast benign
Of Him who holds her in His hand divine:
But hope is soothing, and despair is vain,
And gentle precept leadeth with a chain
Stronger than passion's, from the path of wrong,
And firm example doeth more than song.
    Thus with the teaching thou alone canst give.
Serene in virtue she may learn to live;
And though some bitter taints the cup of all,
Her's, in its sweetness, may subdue the gall.
Oh! may these written thoughts, when after life
Hath merged the maiden in the prouder wife,
Awake sweet memories of departed years,
And call the tribute down of none but happy tears.
    I go, heart-strengthened by the little space
Of calm enjoyment in as calm a place,
Enlarged in sympathy, refreshed in mind,
With loftier thoughts, and feelings more refined;
Earnest and hopeful, anxious to explore
A clearer region of poetic lore,
Where I may toil with purer soul, and stand
Among the worthiest of my native land.
    In sadness I depart, but not in pain,
Trusting to clasp thy cordial hand again:
Take thou and thine my blessing and farewell,—
Peace to thy house and all therein that dwell!

 

_______________________

 
COME TO MY HOME.

 

Come to my calm but lonely home
    With all thy grace, and love, and light,
That I may watch thee day by day,
    And be thy guardian through the night;
Be thou my household's happy queen,
    The pride and beauty of my bower;
My wayward soul's presiding star,—
    My fond heart's sweetest, dearest flower.

Light labours only wait thee here,—
    My peerless and my chosen one!
For thou shalt train the nectar-tree
    To hang its tresses in the sun.
By thee the honey-fingered bine
    Shall mantle round our rural shed;
And the Sultana summer rose
    Lift high her proud imperial head

Through radiant summer's gorgeous time,
    When pleasant toils are duly told:
When burn upon the western skies
    The sun's rich robes of cloudy gold,—
We'll tread the green and fragrant sward,
    And, leaning by some laggard stream,
Breathe to the sweet and listening air
    The words of some immortal dream.

When garish day fades softly out,
    Religious twilight gathering o'er,—
We'll read upon the book of heaven
    Its God-illuminated lore;
Then filled with quiet thankfulness
    While odorous night winds round us creep,
We'll turn with homeward steps, and slow,
    To woo the tranquil bliss of sleep.

When moonlight snow is on the roof,
    And pictured frost is on the pane;
When clustering stars look keenly forth,
    And clouds discharge their solid rain,—
We'll nestle near the chimney side,
    Unenvious of the festive throng,
And drown the moaning of the blast
    In the united tones of song.

Should sickness bow thy fragile form,
    Or sorrow rifle thee of rest,—
Should aught of human ill destroy
    The peaceful rapture of thy breast,
My lips shall speak of hope and health,
    To cheat thee of thy grief and pain,
And all my faculties combine
    To bring thee back to peace again.

When other voices than our own,
    And other forms which are not here,
Shall fill these walls with childish glee,
    And make existence doubly dear;
What shall estrange us heart from heart,
    When such connubial joys are given?
Come, be the angel of my life,
    And make my earthly home a heaven!

 

_______________________

 
A SUMMER'S EVENING SKETCH.

 

In tranquil thought, last eventide, I went my wonted way,
Along the foldings of a vale where quiet beauty lay,
To breathe the living air, and watch with fancies half divine,
The clouds that gathered near the sun, to grace his grand
            decline.

The new-mown meadows, smooth and broad, gay in their
            second green,
The sinuous river gliding on in shadow and in sheen;
The orchard and its little cot, with low and mossy eaves,
And tiny lattice twinkling through its chequered veil of leaves.

The costly mansion, here and there, 'mid solemn groves and
            still;
The mass of deep and wave-like woods uprolling on the hill;
The grey and gothic church that looked down on its grave-
            yard lone,
And on the hamlet roofs and walls, coeval with its own;

Old farms remote and far apart, with intervening space
Of black'ning rock, and barren down, and pasture's pleasant
            face;
The white and winding road, that crept through village, vale,
            and glen,
And o'er the dreary moorlands, far beyond the homes of men.

The changeful glory of the sky, the loveliness below;
The tree-tops tinged with rosy fire, the bright pool's borrowed
            glow;
The blaze of windows, and the smile of fields so soon to fade,
And when the lingering sun went down, the tenderness of
            shade;

The throstle's still untiring song, loud as at early morn;
The grasshopper's shrill serenade amid the ripening corn;
The careless schoolboy's gleesome shout; the low of home-
            ward herds;
The voice of mother and of child, let loose in loving words;

The rose that sighed its fragrant soul upon the summer air;
The breath of honeysuckle wild, that met me unaware;
The smell of cribs where oxen lay, of dairies dim and small;
Of herb, and moss, and fruit, that grew within the garden
            wall;

All pleasant things that wooed the sense in odour, sound or
            hue;
Came with as sweet an influence as if they had been new,—
And so disposed my mind to love, to gentleness, and trust,
I blessed all seemly forms that God life kindled from the dust.

The mingled magic of the scene, the season, and the hour,
Fell on my world-sick spirit then with most consoling power;
Old friendships seemed revived again—old enmities forgive,
Suspended as my feelings were midway 'tween earth and
            heaven.

I could have sported with a child, myself a child again;
I could have hailed the veriest wretch of penury and pain;
Religion, love, humanity, awoke within my breast,
And filled me with a solemn joy my tears alone expressed.

Thus nature wins her peaceful way, with silent strength and
            grace,
To souls that love her lineaments, and meet her face to face.
Blest privilege! to leave behind the paths of toil we trod,
And live an hour of purity with Nature and with God!

 

_______________________

 
THE WANDERER.

 

In a lonely valley yonder,
    Where the Rhenish wine-tree grows,
I sat me down to rest and ponder
    On the mystery of woes:
For I was travel-stained and weary,
    Sore of foot and faint of limb,
Helpless, hungry, heart-sick, dreary,
    My eyes with want and watching dim.

It was a sunny Sabbath morning,
    In the briefest days of spring,—
Infant buds the boughs adorning,
    Larks upon the skyward wing:
Flowers, in fragrant childhood blowing,
    Drank the golden light of day;
Streams, in clearer gladness flowing,
    Found a sweeter, greener way.

The peasant poor to worship wending—
    Wrinkled dame and ruddy lass,
With a kind obeisance bending,
    Greet the pilgrim as they pass:—
Welcome, though their homely graces,
    Buoyant footstep, aspect free;
Stranger forms and stranger faces
    Are not those he yearns to see.

A simple Sabbath-chime was ringing
    From a grey and leafy tower,—
A sweet and solemn music flinging
    Over vineyard, vale, and bower;
The very woods and hills seemed listening;
    In a holy calm profound,
And the lingering dew-drops, glistening,
    Seemed to tremble at the sound.

Present sorrow,—baleful shadow!
    Slid from off my languid mind,
Like a cloud-shade from a meadow,
    Leaving greener spots behind.
Recollections, sad or splendid,
    Came with softened smiles and tears,
And the future, hope-attended,
    Beckoned unto brighter spheres.

England's temples of devotion,
    Unassuming, old, and dim,
Where the deepest heart-emotion
    Answers to the holy hymn;
In whose grave-yards, greened with ages,
    Eyes the tears of memory shed,
Looking on those solemn pages—
    Stony records of the dead.

I saw a sleeping babe receiving
    Baptismal drops upon its face,
A blushing bride the portal leaving
    With a proud and modest grace:
I saw a dark assembly gather
    Round an open grave and deep,
And a wifeless, childless father
    Stricken till he could not weep.

Then my youth rose up before me,
    Fresh as in its newest hour,
When that deeper life came o'er me,
    Love's pure passion and its power;
When a crowd of different feelings
    In my growing heart took birth,
Different thoughts, whose sweet revealings
    Uttered more of heaven than earth.

Memory opened out her treasures,
    Which had lain unheeded long,—
Trials, triumphs, pains, and pleasures
    A mingled and familiar throng;
Scenes, where I had wandered lonely,
    In my boyhood's dreamy days,
When the shapes of nature only
    Soothed and satisfied my gaze.

Wood haunts, where I lay and lingered,
    At my stolen, but happy ease,
While the west wind, frolic-fingered,
    Stirred the umbrage of my trees;
While the fern and fox-glove nigh me
    Whispered things, too seldom heard;
And brook and bee that flitted by me
    Held light concert with the bird.

England's soft and slumbering valleys,
    With happy homesteads scattered o'er,
Where the honey-suckle dallies
    With the rose, about the door:
England's ancient halls and granges,
    In some woodland nestled low,
Through whose shades the river ranges
    With a dark and devious flow,

Then I saw new things, and fairer,
    In the stars, clouds, fields, and flowers;
Then I heard new sounds, and rarer,
    In the ever-voiceful bowers:
Then with stronger life came laden
    Every breeze that wandered wide,
Because one loved, one loving maiden,
    Smiled, looked, listened, by my side.

Every spot of blissful meeting
    Rose before my inner sight;
Every fond and joyous greeting
    Thrilled me with an old delight.
Precious hours of speedy pinion—
    Ye with purest passion rife,
Alas! to feel your dear dominion
    Once only in the lapse of life!

Still that Sabbath-chime was ringing,
    Where the Rhenish wine-tree grows,
Sterner recollections bringing,
    Tinctured with a thousand woes:—
Poverty's resistless terrors,
    Careless words, and careless deeds
Rash resolves, and thoughtless errors,
    For which the wiser spirit bleeds.

Absent voices, absent faces,
    Which I longed to hear and see;
Hearts, which yearned for my embraces,
    And beat with faithful pulse for me.
Thoughts like these, with strong appealings,
    Tinged with hopes, and touched with fears
Only asked for human feelings,
    And I answered with my tears.

Thus that Sabbath-chime, though simple,
    Stirred me with its hallowed sound,
As a still lake's smallest dimple
    Moves the whole bright surface round.
That sweet music, and the brightness
    Of the young and buoyant day,
Gave to my soul new strength, new lightness,
    As I journeyed on my way.

 

_______________________

 
WAR.

 

Scourge of the nations, and the bane of freedom, hope, and
            life !
Stern reveller in gory fields, exulting in the strife !
Thou terror of ten thousand homes, thou sword-plague of
            the world !
When shall we see thy balefires quenched, thy blood-stained
            banners furled?

Ambition born, and power-begot, with passions dark and vile,
And fostered by the cruel arts of avarice and guile,
Thou goest forth with reckless hosts to slaughter and enslave,
Thou trampler upon human hearts, thou gorger of the grave!

My oriflamme floats wantonly in the pure unconscious air;
The chorus of thy drums gives out the warning note "Prepare;"
Thy cymbals ring, thy trumpets sing with shrill and vaunting
            breath,
Alas! that such vain pageantry should grace the feast of death,

Growing in peaceful splendour stands some proud and prosp-
            erous town,
Till thy dread footsteps pass her gates, and tread her glories
            down;
While panic sweeps her wildering streets, and all thy hounds of
            prey,
Make riot in her homes, and leave dishonour and dismay.

Some village, nestling tranquilly amid its happy shades,
Girt with the calm amenities of corn-fields, streams, and glades,
Beholds thee pause upon thy march, and in thy fierce employ
Despoil its blooming paradise of quietude and joy.

A province withers at thy frown, a kingdom mourns to see
Her desecrated temples torn, her towers o'erthrown by thee;
Bewails her commerce paralysed, her fields unploughed and wild
And all her household sanctities invaded and defiled.

And yet the land that sends thee forth, what land soe'er it be,
Leaps at thy lawless victories, and lifts the voice of glee,
And songs are sung, and bells are rung, and merry bonfires
            blaze,
While false, or foolish pens, distil the poison of their praise.

And at the crowded banquet board quick tongues diffuse thy fame,
And columns lift proud capitals in honour of thy name.
And virgins, pure and beautiful, give their fond hearts away
To men who trod out human life in the carnage yesterday.

Thy trophies, brought in triumph home, attest what thou hast done,
What valour lavished on the foe, what fields of glory won;
But men who scorn thy painful pomp, survey with blushing face
Such signs of sanguinary power, such symbols of disgrace.

Aye, strip thee of thy dainty garb, thy tinsel robe of pride,
Lay glistering helm, and flaunting plume, and specious names
            aside,—
And what remains of that gay thing that dazzled us before?
A monster, hideous to behold—an idol smeared with gore!

The widow's curse is on thee, War; the orphan's suppliant
            cries,
Mixed with the mother's malison, ascend the placid skies;
And bones that bleach upon the shore, and welter in the sea,
Appeal,—and shall it be in vain? against thy deeds and thee.

The green earth fain would fling thee off from her polluted
            breast:
The multitudes are yearning, too, for knowledge and for rest,
And lips inspired by Christian love all deprecate thy wrongs,
And poets fired with purer themes, disdain thee in their songs.

"The embattled corn" is lovelier far than thy embattled hordes;
One plough in Labour's honest hand is worth ten thousand
            swords;
The engine's steam pulse, fitly plied, hath nobler conquests
            made
Than all the congregated serfs of thy abhorrent trade.

More courage in the miner's heart than captain ever knew;
More promise in the peasant's frock than coats of scarlet hue,
More honour in the craftsman's cap, and in the student's
            gown;
More glory in the pastor's robe, than all thy vain renown.

England, my own, my mother land, as fair as thou art free!
Thou Island queen! whose wide domains o'ersprinkle earth
            and sea,
What need that thou should'st yearn again to conquer and
            subdue?
Thy power has long been known to all, shall not thy mercy
            too?

Forbear to use the cruel sword, or, if thou wilt invade,
Be it with palm or olive branch, that maketh none afraid;
Be it with Bible in thy hand, with justice in thy breast,
Give peaceful arts; give Gospel light; give rectitude and rest.

If strong ambition dares to doom his weaker foe to bleed,
Raise high the trumpet-voice of truth against the ruthless
            deed;
With magnanimity of heart, with calm and fearless brow,
Be thou the umpire and the friend—the mediator thou.

So shall the nations look to thee, as one ordained to keep
The balance of the social world, the portals of the deep;
And history shall write thee down, with proud and willing
            hand,
A realm of mind and majesty, a wise and Christian land!

 

_______________________

 
WINTER MUSINGS.

 

Stern Winter time! thy shrouded skies oppress me,
    And fling funereal shadows o'er my brain:
Sad thoughts and visions, spectre-like, distress me,
    And waken all my sympathies to pain;
Sad thoughts of yonder multitudinous city,
    Where care too often festers into crime:
Where hearts heave out their life for lack of pity,
    Or, living, dread thy coming, Winter time!

Sad thoughts of sinful and pestiferous places,
    Where love, hope, joy, breeze, sunlight, never comes;
Where pen and pencil never lend their graces,
    Nor common comforts quiet, to their homes—
Oh! no, not homes, but dens—where God's own creatures
    Creep through the roughest ways of lowest life;
Where untaught minds make savage forms and features,
    And hold perpetual fellowship with strife.

Sad thoughts! that virtue and that vice together
    Stir the thick air with curses and with groans,
Pine through the day, and in the fiercest weather
    Herd nightly on the cold and cruel stones;
Or desperate men put off their fear and starkness,
    To wreak their vengeance on some guiltless head;
Or women, roaming through the storm and darkness
    Barter their beauty for dishonoured bread.

Even where royalty, oppressed with splendour,
    Free as the humblest from repulsive pride,
While ready hands and willing hearts attend her,
    Walks in her gardens beautiful and wide—
There, even there, with gorgeous wealth surrounded,
    The lost, the scorned, the outcasts of their kind,
Lie down a heap of indigence confounded,
    Fellows in misery, if not in mind.

Sad thoughts! that in yon town's bewildering mazes,
    Dark veins far stretching from its giant heart,
Man in his saddest moods and sternest phases
    Lives from all healthy influence apart:
Souls that have missed their way lie there benighted,
    With all their sensual instincts wild and bare;
A hearts, once prone to love, are warped and blighted
    For lack of genial sustenance and care.

Father's sit brooding on the threatening morrow,
    With looks of anger kindling into hate;
And mothers, with a mute, but deeper sorrow,
    Cease to resist the thraldom of their fate:
Children, grown prematurely old, are pining
    In apathetic squalor, day by day;
Round their young natures vicious weeds are twining,
    Which thrust the flowers of purity away.

Perchance, within those lazar-dens of riot
    Insidious sickness saps the shattered frame:
Where is the yielding couch, the room of quiet?
    The pensive taper-light's unfailing flame?
Where is the cleanly hearthstone, blithely glowing?
    The cordial offered ere the lips request?
Where are affection's eyes, with grief o'erflowing?
    The forms that wait, yet fear, the final rest?

Where is the skilful leech, man's health-director,
    With words of honey all unmixed with gall?
The pastor praying to the great Protector,
    Without whose will a sparrow cannot fall!
Alas! not there! no love, no skill, no teaching,
    Touches with hopeful light the hour of gloom,
The lorn wretch thinks high heaven beyond his reaching
    And, dying, braves the horrors of his doom!

Strange contrast! lo! you lofty windows brighten
    From chambers as an eastern vision fair,
Where lips and eyes with pleasure smile and lighten,
    While song and music thrill the throbbing air;
Where Art hath brought her triumphs and her graces,
    The glowing canvas, and the breathing stone;
Where rich refinements from a thousand places
    Are tributes from the lands of every zone.

There lusty lacqueys round the banquet gliding
    With costly dainties court the pampered taste,
While Joy and Plenty o'er the board presiding
    See southern nectars run to wanton waste;
There Fortune's idol learns to love and languish,
    Swathed in the splendour and the pride of birth,
Uncaring, or unconscious, of the anguish
    That bows her lowly sisters of the earth.

And yet there are, beside the hall or palace,
    Shapes of humanity unhoused, unfed,
Untaught, unsought, unheeded, fierce or callous,
    The sky their curtain, and the earth their bed:
Shapes which are all of one Almighty's making,
    Imploring, threatening, near the rich man's feet,
With sin grown savage, or with sorrow quaking,
    Frenzied for food his dogs refuse to eat.

"The poor shall cease not," God's blest word declareth;
    But are they less of human mould than kings?
Must they grow faint for what kind Nature beareth,
    For what she gives to all her meaner things?
Must they exist in darkness and distraction,
    Doubting if Heaven be merciful and just?
Shut out from joy, unnerved for glorious action
    And scarce uplifted from the grovelling dust?

Formed for all fitting faculties and feelings
    By, Him who gives the tiniest worm a law,
Who fills His humblest work with high revealings,
    Sustains the shies, and keeps the stars in awe,—
Shall they, oppressed with famine and wrong doing,
    With crowding cares, and unassuasive pain,
Obey, toil, falter, rush to deeper ruin,
    Reason, implore, grow mad, and all in vain?

Forbid it, God! who deigns to guide and gift us!
    Ye mild and moral principles of right—
Ye liberal souls that labour to uplift us—
    Rise up against it with resistless light:
And all ye holy sympathies that slumber
    Unstirred, unfruitful in the human breast,
Spring into active phalanx without number,
    And give the poor hope, help, and happier rest.

Forbid it Pen—for thou canst vanquish error;
    Forbid it Press—proud ally of the Pen!
Forbid it Speech, that carries truth or terror
    To the hard bosoms of unthinking men.
Pen, Press, and Speech, creators of opinion—
    Opinion armed 'gainst ignorance and wrong—
League all the lands beneath your blest dominion,
    Till the glad poet sings a calmer song.

 

_______________________

 
THE PARTITION OF THE EARTH.

PARAPHRASED FROM THE GERMAN OF SCHILLER.

 

"Take the Earth!" uttered God, from the height of his throne,
    As he looked on the children he made, from above:
Take the Earth, with its treasures, and call it your own,
    But divide it with justice and brotherly love!"

By myriads men came when they heard the decree,—
    Age, manhood, and youth hurried on in the race;
The husbandman ruled o'er the corn-covered lea,—
    The forest was given to the sons of the chase.

The merchant took all that his stores would contain,
    While the priest—holy man! took the choicest of wine;
The king took the highways and byways for gain,
    By a law which the people believed was divine.

At length, when each mortal rejoiced in his lot,
    Came the poet, who loved not the boisterous throng;
But, alas! when he came he beheld not a spot,
    Save the breadth of a grave, for the pilgrim of song.

Then he threw himself down at the throne of his Sire,
    And cried to the Being who gave him his birth,—
"Oh! grant a poor outcast his only desire,
    Let the child of Thy wrath be forgotten on earth."

God said, "If thou liv'st in the empire of thought,
    The cause of thy sorrow pertains not to me:—
Where, where hast thou stayed while my bidding was
            wrought?"
    Said the Poet, "Oh, God! I was near unto Thee!

"If my eyes were entranced by Thy glory and might,
    And my ears by the music that breathes in Thy skies
If my soul was absorbed in Thy love and Thy light,
    Forgive that the Earth disappeared from mine eyes."

"Content thee," God said, "for Earth's riches are give",
    As such was my pleasure, and hence my decree,
Thou shalt live with thy Lord in his own blessed heaven;
    For whenever thou comest 'tis open to thee!"

 

_______________________

 
THE PATRIOT'S BATTLE PRAYER.

PARAPHRASED FROM THE GERMAN OF SCHILLER.

 

Father of Life! to Thee, to Thee I call—
    The cannon sends its thunders to the sky;
The winged fires of slaughter round me fall;
    Great God of Battles! let Thy watchful eye
Look o'er and guard me in this perilous hour,
And if my cause be just, oh! arm me with Thy power!

Oh! lead me, Father, to a glorious end,
    To well-won freedom, or a martyr's death;
I bow submissive to Thy will, and send
    A soul-felt prayer to Thee in every breath:
Do with me as beseems Thy wisdom, Lord,
But let not guiltless blood defile my maiden sword

God, I acknowledge Thee, and hear Thy tongue
    In the soft whisper of the falling leaves,
As well as in the tumult of the throng
    Arrayed for fight—this human mass that heaves
Like the vexed ocean.   I adore Thy name,
Oh, bless me, God of grace, and lead me unto fame.

Oh! bless me, Father! in Thy mighty hand
    I place what Thou hast lent—my mortal life;
I know it will depart at thy command,
    Yet will I praise Thee, God, in peace or strife;
Living or dying, God, my voice shall raise
To Thee, Eternal Power, the words of prayer and praise!

I glorify thee, God, I come not here
    To fight for false ambition, vainly brave;
I wield my patriot sword for things more dear,—
    Home and my fatherland; the name of slave
My sons shall not inherit.   God of Heaven!
For Thee and Freedom's cause my sacred vow is given!

God, I am dedicate to Thee for over;
    Death, which is legion here, may hem me round;
Within my heart the invader's steel may quiver,
    And spill my life-blood on the crimson ground:
Still am I Thine, and unto Thee I call,—
Father I seek the foe—forgive me if I fall!

 

_______________________

 
ON THE DEATH OF ROBERT SOUTHEY,

LATE POET LAUREATE.

 

From the bright coronal of living minds,
The grace and glory of these later days,
A gem is shaken to the dust; a star
Which rose in thought's wide hemisphere, and grew
Resplendent with the calm, sweet light of Song
Hath faded into darkness, while our eyes
Gaze with sad yearning after it—in vain!
The fitful winds, which sweep with varying voice
O'er the broad breast of Keswick's wrinkled lake,
Sing dirges o'er the mountain-girdled grave
Where Southey sleeps.   A fitting tomb for him
Whose heart did feed itself amid a scene
So strangely beautiful; for many a sound,
And silence—which is sound awful—will
Breathe about his resting place, from glens,
From green hill tops, from old time-twisted trees,
From wave-worn caverns in the rifted rock,
From waters, sleepless as the listening stars
On which they gaze, from breezes touched and tuned
To storms or zephyrs; for in them he heard
What unto him was Poesy, and she
Peopled his solitude with things of joy!
Sad to remember that that laurelled brow,
Which held such wild imaginings, such powers
To clothe in lofty language lofty truths,
And sentiments which humanized and stirred,
Wears the cold hues of death.   That cunning hand,
Which traced upon the page the living line,
Is paralysed; and that once piercing eye,
Lit with the reflex of an ardent-soul,
Is veiled and quenched.   That spark of deathless fire,
Which filled its shrine with glory, hath returned
To the pure fountain of immortal light
From whence it sprang, leaving its "darkened dust"
To mingle with its elements for ever!
    Men lightly say—"This is the common lot;"
But when the gifted and the good depart,
We stand aghast, as if some well-touched string,
Breathing divinest music in our ears,
Was snapped asunder, even while our hearts
Were throbbing to its tones.   But have we not,
Within a few brief moons, been called to weep
O'er the sad loss of many an eloquent mind
Of strength and beauty?   For a voice hath said,
That he who fixed his soul in marble lives
In fame ALONE; that Wilkie's magic hand,
Which threw upon the canvass genuine life
Hath lost its power in the remorseless grave;
That honest Allan, of the hardy north,
Hath hung his harp upon the cypress bough,
And joined a nobler choir; and Southey, last,
But far from least of these, hath rent away
The gyves of earth, and soared to happier spheres.
    Yet let us not despair,—for Southey LIVES,—
Lives in the labours of a quiet life,
Well spent and richly fruitful.   Few may claim.
The laurel crown which he hath laid aside,
And wear the wreath so nobly and so long.
The lustrous diamond in profoundest gloom
Retains the light it gathered from the sun
From age to age; so hath the world received
And treasured up the lustre of the mind
Of him we mourn, which shall not melt away.
Let us imbibe his spirit, like old wine
Long caverned in the earth, and mellowed down
To strength and purity; but let us not,
Because some lees remain within the cup,
Reject as worthless the inspiring draught.
    Those first brief bursts of his unsullied muse—
Those earlier flights of her rejoicing wing,
Light as the lark and buoyant as his lay,
Are ours to think upon and love.   How well
He sang the sorrows of his race, and cried
Aloud against its wrongs!   How sweetly breathed
His harp-strings, when the charms of nature wooed
Their eloquent voices out!   For these alone,—
For these few flashes of a feeling soul,
His laurel leaves shall keep for ever green!
                                          Wordsworth!
Thou priest and patriarch of nature!—thou,
Who wast a brother of the buried bard
In mind and fame! awake thine ancient lyre
To one last mournful melody, and mine lyre
Shall shrink to silence at thy loftier song!

 

_______________________

 
FAMILIAR EPISTLE TO MY FRIEND
JOHN BALL.

 

December 1843.

DEAR FRIEND,


Free for an interval of time
To sleep or think, to read or rhyme,—
I hear yon steeple's measured chime,
                           With solemn weight,
Fling to the silent night sublime
                           The hour of eight.

Snug seated by the chimney-cheek,
Too calmly indolent to speak,—
An evening custom through the week,
                           My tube of clay
Sends forth a light and odorous reek,
                           Like ocean spray.

The spiral cloud soars to the ceiling,
To Fancy's eye strange forms revealing
Until I find around me stealing
                           So sweet a rest
That every kind and gentle feeling
                           Stirs in my breast.

(Thou tiny censer, burning slow,
Whose fire and fragrance soothe my woe,
I would not willingly forego
                           Thy quiet power
For all the dainty dazzling show
                           Of Fashion's hour.)

The flickering fire is dancing bright,
Dispensing genial warmth and light,
While beings pleasant to my sight
                           Are seated round;
And one doth read, and one doth write,
                           With scarce a sound.

Meanwhile, within the glowing grate
I see things wild and desolate,—
Rocks, mountains, towers, in gloomy state,
                           With other traces
Of monsters savagely sedate,
                           With gorgon faces.

But as I gaze they slowly change
To regions beautiful and strange,
Where lovely creatures seem to range
                           The red realm through;
Or English temple, cot, and grange
                           Start into view.

Outside, the myriad-fingered rain
Is drumming on the window pane,
And the strong night-winds wail in vain
                           To enter here:—
Alas! they move upon the main
                           With wrath and fear!

And now my thoughts are sent afar
To where the peril seeking tar,
Without the light of moon or star,
                           Battles aghast,
And hears his proud ship's sail and spar
                           Rent in the blast.

Poor souls! who tempt the dangerous wave,
Your home, your empire, and your grave,
When winds and waters round you rave
                           In mighty madness,
Who shall extend the hand to save,
                           And give ye gladness?

Upbuoyed on Ocean's heaving flood,
A thousand breathing beings stood,
The brave, the gifted, and the good,
                           But yesterday,
Till the storm came in maddest mood,—
                           And where are they?

God of the tempest-hidden sea!
The solemn secret rests with Thee,—
With finite sense we are not free
                           To scan thy law;
'Tis ours alone to bow the knee
                           In silent awe!

Thus the sad chiding of the wind
Wakes memories of a mournful kind,
Which pour upon the restless mind
                           A tranquil balm,
As thoughtful here I sit reclined,
                           Secure and calm.

And thinking on the sleepless sea,
"Hungering for peace," I think of thee,
And how with friendly souls and free
                           We strayed together,
To talk and dream of Poesy,
                           In summer weather.

I see that little rustic place
Where our 'blythe friend,' with pleasant face,
Displayed with hospitable grace
                           Those goodly things,
Which quicken Time's lame, laggard pace,
                           And speed his wings.

The full o'erflowing of the breast,
The frank and unoffending jest,
The bright idea well expressed,—
                           The laugh and song
The talk of Spencer, and the rest
                           Of Fancy's throng;

The antique chamber, warm and small,
The fire-light flashing on the wall,
The social cup unmixed with gall,
                           The whole delight
Passed like a vision to enthrall
                           My memory quite.

Deferred too long; I seize my pen,
(My wand of fancy now and then),
To tell you why, and where, and when
                           I scrawled this letter;
For in these courtesies, ye ken,
                           I am your debtor.

Yon crowded town, where stunned and tossed
I lingered long, and to my cost,
Caressed to-day—to-morrow crossed,
                           I've left at last;
And as I count the moments lost
                           I stand aghast.

And here I am, three leagues away,
Earning my dinner every day
As I was wont, before my lay
                           Found willing ears,—
Without a single friend to say
                           "Put off thy fears."

But yet I am not friendless—No!
My wife, fond sharer of my woe,
And Hope, that spirit joy below,
                           Are with me still;
And God has blessings to bestow,—
                           I wait His will.

I have a corner in my heart
For thee, all generous as thou art;
For thou, like me, hast felt the smart
                           Of the world's wrong;
And thou art loth to live apart
                           From darling song.

And, therefore, do I wish to learn
If fortune's features grow less stern,
And if thou dost as yet discern
                           A brighter real,
Or of thy hidden thoughts still yearn
                           For the ideal.

Does Myra's cheek with gladness glow,
And her sweet mouth with laughter flow
As wont?   Do all thy children grow
                           In sense and duty?
And does thy wife put off the woe
                           That veils her beauty?

With us the wretched rains and damps
Have turned the level fields to swamps,
And through the mist the drowsy lamp
                           Look dim and dreary;
But, save some fitful aches and cramps;
                           I'm well and cheery.

I've fallen in love, but not with Flora,
Nor Cynthia chaste, nor young Aurora
Nor dark Gulnare, nor sweet Medora,
                           But with the shade
Of fair, fond, faithful, fervent Zora,
                           A Syrian Maid!

Simply, I mean to weave a lay
Of love, to cheer me on my way;
And in my silent hours I pray
                           "God speed my pen,"
To which, methinks I hear you say
                           "Amen!   Amen!"

Night wears, and, therefore, 'gainst my will,
I use the last drop in my quill
To tell thee I esteem thee still
                           In shade or shine;
And be our lot or good or ill,
                           I'm ever thine,
                                                J. C. PRINCE.

[Next Page]

 



[Home] [Up] [Biography] [Hours with the Muses] [Poetic Rosary] [Autumn Leaves] [Miscellaneous Poems] [Unpublished Poems] [Miscellanea] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be sent to Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk