Page images
PDF
EPUB

speedy movement, but both the tinie and object uncertain. Cholera increasing in all directions. Determined to return home by Tuesday steamer, the Sinai, Marseilles line. Learned she had been despatched with mails to Varna.

26th.- Sinai returned and sails to-day-not to touch at Gallipoli, where the epidemie is raging terribly.

Poor General Ney-Duc d'Elchingen-our gentlemanly fellow passenger coming out, has died at Gallipoli after nine hours' illness. He was an excellent and zealous officer, and had just completed and forwarded to his government a well-matured plan for keeping at bay, or lessening the sway of the dire scourge to which he fell one of the earliest victims.

Sailed at 11 P.M. “Adieu Constantinople.” Only ten or twelve passengers--half French, half British.

27th. The Sinai proved a fast boat-made Gallipoli at 12 to-daylanded mails. The French commandant laid an embargo on the boat, and insisted on our embarking certain passengers, chiefly cholera-convalescents, French officers. Thus we are rendered liable to quarantine at Smyrna, Syra, Malta, and heaven knows where besides. Our captain made but a faint resistance, and off came three boat loads of pale-faced wretches, one of whom had to be lifted up the side, and carried down at opce to bis berth. Reached the Dardanelles at 5; after a brief detention proceeded. Fine weather. Ten first-class passengers, two ladies, and a stork.

28th.Ran into Smyrna at 8 A.M. Refused pratique, of course, and passed a hot, tedious day in harbour, ship coaling. Sailed at sunset. Alarm of fire during the night. Got under without difficulty or much damage.

29th.Syra at 8 .x. In quarantine, as usual. Tired and impatient.' Much chess. Sailed at 5-fine breeze-going twelve knots. Roused at night by second alarm-great noise on decksplashing of water-essel stopped went up--found hot ashes falling in all directions as from a voleano, and men everywhere with buckets extinguishing them as they fell. No danger-everybody being on the alert. Turned in again.

30th. Much sea-all ill except self and three others. Only four at dinner, and those with meagre appetites. The poor man who was lifted on board at Gallipoli expired in the night, a result that possibly may have been hastened by his having swallowed a bag of plums and half a bottle of brandy on the preceding day. The body was placed in one of the boats, carefully covered, few persons on board being aware of the fact. The deceased officer was a chief inspector of military hospitals.

31st Reached Malta at 5 P.M.-ran into quarantine harbour-refused pratique--but, after inquiry as to the nature of the death on board, admitted the following morning

August 2nd.-Parted company-W. and S. to Civita Vecchia and Naples, I to Marseilles-- left at the same instant, but soon dropped our consort. But few passengers, chiefly French.

5th to 7th.-Marseilles at 5 A.M.-fresh and cool- landed and breakfasted at Hotel Imperial-city half deserted—80,000 persons having fled from fear of cholera. Deaths 200 each day. At 1, took train for Valence; the next day by boat, twelve miles an hour against tide, to Lyons, whence, on the following day to Paris by rail, making the whole journey from Marseilles to Paris in twenty-two hours actual travelling

GERALD MASSEY'S “ BALLAD OF BABE CHRISTABEL."

IF any indication, or token, were required as a mark whereby to testify the increasing intelligence of the present age, the little volume of most modest appearance bearing the above title might very aptly be taken for such a demand. It is, indeed, a striking production, and merits an attentive consideration. In the memoir attached, we learn some very curious particulars.

« Gerald Massey was born in May, 1828, and is, therefore, barely twenty-six years of age. He first saw the light in a little stone hut near Tring, in Herts, one of those miserable abodes in which so many of our happy peasantry—their country's pride !—are condemned to live and die. One shilling a week was the rent of this hovel, the roof of which was so low that a man could not stand upright in it."

In another portion of this biography we are told that Gerald “ went into a silk manufactory at eight years of age, toiling there till half-past six in the evening,' and so on from day to day, “till the mill was burned down, and the children held jubilee over it.”

From such a life-commencement, passed without any education, Gerald Massey taught himself, and as time advanced became suddenly conscious of an inherent poetic faculty. His mother sent him to a penny school, where he was taught to read, and he soon manifested an eager desire to glean all the knowledge that books could convey to his dawning mind.

On his subsequent arrival in London he frequented all the book-stalls he could meet with, and devoured the contents of all such works as he could possibly procure. Oftentimes it was his delight to purchase a book, and by so doing lose a meal; and the still small hours of the night would as frequently find him unresting-reading and reading with a keen relish, and a most pertinacious assiduity. Surely here is a notable instance of the times we live in, and the great necessity which exists for cultivating and developing latent excellence. Gerald Massey is in all respects a real poet ; he has a fine imagination, knows the true flow and fall of musical rhythm, and can shape his ideas into language of true poetic character. His appeals on behalf of his fellow-men are of necessity tinged with democratic ardour ; he speaks in a vigorous tone when his verses roll towards the political horizon, and suggest the passionate truth which are indicative of the writer. On these, however, we do not care to enlarge, but rather turn to the principal poem, which is full to overflowing with new and beautiful images. The subject is a sad one, the birth and death of a little child, but it is interspersed with sentiments redolent of Nature and her divinest influences. What a picture is this :

Ah! bliss to make the brain reel wild!

The star new kindled in the dark

Life that had fluttered like a lark

Lay in her bosom a sweet child ! Of children there is this sweet expression :

Wide worlds of worship are their eyes,

Their loyal hearts are worlds of love,

Who fondly clasp the stranger Dove,
And read its news from Paradise.
Their looks praise God-souls sing for glee ;

They think if this old world had toil'd

Through ages to bring forth their child,

It hath a glorious destiny. Nothing in modern poetry can surpass some of the lines in this poem. They are as rich as Cleopatra's pearls, and appeal with all a poet's love and fervour to the true human heart. They make the brain burn with emotion, and the coldest fancy awaken to a recognition not only of their extreme aptness, but also of their genuine beauty. No mournful wail, or plaint of sorrow, was ever tuned to a more appropriate key, or conveyed with more melodious utterance than that in which the parent laments the loss sustained by Christabel's early death.

All last night-tide she seemed near me like a lost beloved Bird

Beating at the lattice louder than the sobbing wind and rain,
And I called across the Night with tender name and fondling word ;

And I yearned out thro' the darkness all in vain.
Heart will plead, “ Eyes cannot see her, they are blind with tears of pain,

And it climbeth up and straineth for dear life to look and hark
While I call her once again : but there cometh no refrain,

And it droppeth down, and dieth in the dark.” Here is poetry of that plaintive and pleasing kind which awakes echoes in the hearts of those who read it. Here are sentiments which could proceed only from a singer whose heart and mind are in his song. The divine faculty of poesy has been won by this self-educated man. He is a poet in the fullest acceptation of the word; and it is but proper and consistent that all lovers of that fine art should greet him with an honest hearty welcome, and admit him to the select realms of English verse. Faults he has undoubtedly; sometimes his ear does not seem to be quite correct, and that he is occasionally wanting in that refinement of taste wbich should invariably accompany the course of sweet verse, can be no marvel to those who reflect on his early life, and the way in which he has been compelled to pluck at learning at all times and in all seasons. Blemishes such as these are trivial in comparison with the beauties which abound, and time alone will eradicate them. The wonder is not that faults are to be found, but that they are so few. Consider well the poet's history, and then, if allowance of the most ample kind is not freely bestowed for any and whatever defects there may be, as certainly will his melodious utterances be unrecognised. Again, we say, here is no ordinary minstrel. If any line, or thought, or simile seems to sound harshly, or too fiercely in its appeals, yet it must be confessed that there is nothing to be found analogous to the sickly rose-water school, whose sentiment so frequently begins in bombast and terminates in nothing. As a lyrist, Mr. Gerald Massey is eminently successful, and we quote the following “ Lover's fancy” to record our conviction :

Sweet Heaven, I do love a maiden,
Radiant, rare, and beauty laden ;

When she's near me, heaven is round me,
Her dear presence doth so bound me !
I could wring my heart of gladness,
Might it free her lot of sadness.
Give the world and all that's in it,
Just to press her hand a minute,
Yet she weeteth not I love her,
Never dare I tell the sweet
Tale, but to the stars above her
And the flowers that kiss her feet.
O! to live and linger near her,
And in tearful moments cheer her!
I could be a bird to lighten
Her dear heart--her sweet eyes brighten,
Or in fragrance like a blossom,
Give my life up on her bosom!
For my love's withouten measure,
All its pangs are sweetest pleasure,
Yet she weeteth not I love her,
Never dare I tell the sweet
Tale, but to the stars above her

And the flowers that kiss her feet. This is easy, natural, and winsome, partaking somewhat of the style in which Quarles, and Withers, and others of the old love-songsters were wont to address their lady-loves; yet it is tersely expressed, and the rhymes are as devoid of labour as they are of conceit. It is something to be proud of, surely, that we live and breathe and have our being in an age when such noble and stirring ditties as are to be met with in this volume proceed from the pen of so lowly a poet. Full of nerve, and vigorous is the manner in which he appeals to the powers that be, though we care not to linger on passages which have a political tendency. Poetry culls her choicest powers from quiet places ; the stormy arena where are fought the sharp combats of right and wrong, of vexed questions and strifeful arguments, is not adapted for the poet's path. It lies by fair meads, in orchard crofts, on swelling plains, in forests, and in the gentle and peaceful haunts of birds and murmuring insects. True, the trumpet that she ofttimes uses tells of deeds of arms and chivalrous enterprise ; but the poet's aim, and the poet's influence, certainly belong to a more gentle sphere. Gerald Massey can describe Nature with a painter's sense of the beautiful. Listen to his praise of Spring:

Earth weareth Heaven for bridal ring,
And the best garland of glory, Spring
From out old Winter's world can bring.

The green blood reddens in the Rose,
And underneath white-budding boughs
The violets purple in rich rows,
The boy beloved Whitebeams blow,
The live-green Apple-tree's flush bough

Floateth a cloud of rosy snow. The ascent to the lofty Mount Parnassus is notoriously steep and toilsome; the poet's crown, the laurels and the bay are not to be given indiscriminately to all and every of the numerous aspirants for their honours; nevertheless, when one appears with earnest purpose, lofty thought, and the true musical voice within him, it behoves those who hear the singing to encourage and support the singer for the Muses' sake. Mr. Massey may not be ready for the honours of the Capitol, but it were as well that we should strew flowers on his way, and aid him by all means in our power to pursue his peaceful calling. That he is already a poet this recently published volume sufficiently indicates. No one can peruse any single page without discovering beauties of matter and manner. Felicities of description abound, grace, love, and tenderness characterise in no stinted measure all that he sings. Gracefully let us welcome his entrance into the enchanting regions of sweet song.

GOSSE'S AQUARIUM.* GOSSE is one of those rare spirits who have won for themselves a niche in the temple of fame as a naturalist. It is by no means sufficient to be versed in the dry details of scientific nomenclature and of technical definitions to constitute a true naturalist. He must be an independent observer of habits and economy; the detailed knowledge of structure will follow, and with the greater interest, as each detail will be associated with some physiological fact. As Mr. Gosse himself observes, the most interesting parts by far of published natural history are those minute but most graphic particulars which have been gathered by an attentive watching of individual animals. Many examples crowd to the mind; Wilson's picture of the Mocking-bird; Vigors's of the Toucan ; Broderip's of his Beaver “Binny;" Wollaston's of the Water-Shrew ; Bennett's of the Bird of Paradise, and multitudes more.

Gosse is, par eminence, the historian of those strange creatures which inhabit our shores and dwell op our rock-bound coasts. His rambles on the Devonshire coast opened the subject. The present work continues it; and the Marine Aquarium, to found which is its object, bids fair to complete in time whatever may be wanting in this most interesting branch of natural history. Nothing can equal its popularity just now; and for that result we are entirely indebted to this amiable, pious, and indefatigable observer and collector.

It was with the view of supplying certain tanks in the Aquarium of the Zoological Society that Mr. Gosse directed his steps early last spring to Weymouth, on the coast of Dorsetshire. The hunting-ground presented by this magnificent bay is most various. There is the shingly beach of Belmont, with its broad bank of rotting black sea-grass (Zostera), the accumulation of years, there are the rocky ledges of Byng cliff, with their green and slippery boulders, which afforded many a harvest of marine plants and animals; there is the majestic mass of Portland rising

* The Aquarium: an Unveiling of the Wonders of the Deep Sea. By Philip Henry Gosse, A.L.S., &c. Jobn Van Voorst.

« EelmineJätka »