« EelmineJätka »
laid up; and the magazine was afterwards conducted by generous friends. Dickens, Bulwer, Mrs. Hall, and others, supplied it with unasked-for contributions. The famous "Song of the Shirt" came out in the Christmas (1843) number of “Punch,” to whose laughter-filled pages he was an occasional contributor. This is his most popular production. The song was at once copied in all the magazines and papers, and it spread through the nation, kindling its great heart with its - thoughts that breathe and words that burn." Towards his closing days he wrote another song, similar in tendency, called “The Lay of the Labourer, which deserves equal fame. And yet nearer his death, he penned that never-dying poem on the suicides from Waterloo Bridge, naming it, after the renowned Venetian construction, “The Bridge of Sighs.” These three poems, composed almost with his latest breath, contain his whole heart and intellect rushing forth in a fervid glow of eloquence like molten metal. Behold here the promptings and yearnings of his true human heart, speaking on
behalf of the neglected needlewomen, of the distressed agricultural labourers, and of that outcast class towards whom society manifests so little compassion and forgiveness. Hood was thus one of the noble few who, in Burke's emphatic language, “ remembered the forgotten.” These songs will ever cause a bright halo to shine around his name, entitling him to an eternal gratitude. He had good reason to be proud of the “Song of the Shirt.” During his last illness he sketched a simple design for his own monument, with the eloquent legend-.
"We sang the Song of the Shirt.” This, he said, he would adopt as his motto, if ever he were permitted to wear arms. The arms, he said, should be a heart pierced with a needle, threaded with silver tears; the crest, a hawk (in allusion to his name). The above motto, with' bas-reliefs illustrating the “Bridge of Sighs," and 4 Eugene Aram's Dream," has a place on the monument by Noble, erected over his grave, in Kensall Green Cemetery, in the year 1854.
The public little thought, when they read his magazine month after month, what intense suffering their author was enduring. "Sick of sickness," he vainly longed to be able to leave his chamber;
“My temples throb, my pulses boil,
I'm sick of song, and ode, and ballad ;
And pour it on a lobster salad.
I cannot write a verse or read;
And let us have a lark instead.
work, work, work!” Not, however, for Fame, for he had done more than enough for that, but for the sake of his family, that he was so soon to leave. Writing to Bulwer Lytton about this time, he said---“It is not well, perhaps, for me to write so much, but besides the necessity for exertion, from long habit my mind refuses to be passive, and seems the more restless from my inability to exert much bodily activity. I sleep little; and my mind, instead of being a shady chamber, is like a hall with a lamp burning in it all night. And so it will be to the end. I must die in harness, like a hero-or a horse.” Hood's literary industry is a striking trait in his life.
It was now represented that the only way of prolonging his life, if it were not already too late, lay in the relaxation of his literary efforts. His claims were therefore brought before the government, and Sir R. Peel granted him a pension of £100, to revert to his wife. “Few," said Sir Robert, “could appreciate and admire more than myself the good sense and good feeling which have taught you to infuse so much fun and merriment into writings correcting folly and exposing absurdity, and yet never trespassing beyond those limits within which wit and facetiousness are not very often confined.” The Premier desired an introduction, but Hood afterwards wrote stating that it was not to be. He concluded the noble letter in the following words :-“I would have written one more letter-a forewarning one-against an evil, or the danger of it, arising from
a one-sided humanity, opposite to that Shakspearian sympathy which felt with king as well as peasant, and duly estimated the moral temptations of both stations." Here is a proof how deeply his benevolence throbbed for expression, and how intensely he desired to be of service to mankind. But his death was now at hand, and lie had long been prepared to meet it. On one occasion he said that he had been so often near death's door, he could almost fancy he heard the creaking of the hinges. And he did not see in death a grim, ghastly, grinning skeleton, but a veiled angel, sent to deliver him from the sorrows of earth, and to reveal to him the hereafter, “where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying.” Hood spoke like a philosopher and a Christian when he said, that
"'Tis a stern and startling thing to think,
Of its grave without any misgiving ;
Is dying, and death is living.
How their souls would sadden instanter,
Only broken into a canter!" On his deathbed, unknown hands brought him many touching gifts ;-a proof of the esteem with which some regarded him. But they were too late; given in the years that were passed, their sympathy might have helped to lengthen his days, and he might now be delighting the world with the fruits of a genius which was not yet matured. Those who had assailed his religion, and who had termed his life trifling, might now have seen how a good man could die,--might have seen the deep faith and resignation afforded by his practical Christianity. He had taken leave his friends, forgiven his enemies, made his peace with God, talked over plans for the future of his family, taken his last long lingering look at the earth in Spring, and then, in the words of his son, “he called us round him, my mother, my little brother just ten years old, and myself. He gave us his last blessing tenderly and fondly, and then quietly clasping my mother's hand, he said — Remember, Jane, I forgive all, as I hope to be forgiven! He lay for some time calmly and passively, and breathing slowly and with difficulty. My mother bending over him heard him say faintly, O Lord, say
" arise, take up thy cross, and follow me! His last words were _' Dying, dying ! as if glad to realise the rest implied in them. He then sank into a deep slumber
On Saturday, at noon, he breathed his last, without a struggle or a sigh.”
Not many days before embarking on the deep waters of eternity, he found strength in his weakness to pour out his soul, once more, in the following sublime song-a pæan of victory, in which, like Columbus and his crew on their approach to the shores of the new world, he seems to inhale the fragrance-laden breezes of "the better laud:”
“FAREWELL LIFE ! my senses swim,
WELCOME LIFE! the spirit strives !
ENGLISH SATIRISTS OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.
J. K. SPENDER, ESQ.
[Read to the Members of the Bath Literary and Philosophical Association.]
HE title of my paper expresses accurately the aim and
limits of my subject. It is fortunately not necessary for me to indulge in any rhetorical flourishes about the general political and literary history of the 17th century. Most of my audience must know very well that one part of the century was very grand-another part very grovelling; and as the people and their rulers were, so were the books written, and so were the thoughts uttered. Popular story-books about the ages gone by, affirm with determined perseverance that most of our ancestors had many more sins to repent of, and follies to be ashamed of, than we
and that if anybody's great-grandfather didn't drink and didn't swear, his great-great-grandfather did, which is much the same thing. And so, creeping up 'stealthily through the series of grandfathers, we come upon the breathing flesh and blood of the court of Charles II.upon the grim stern souls who governed us under Cromwell—and upon the brave bleeding warriors who were doing on a small scale what America is doing now. Now, these three chronologically cúnsecutive pictures are the three great historic bits of tapestry of the 17th century. They are the keys to the unfolding of the domestic life, the religious life, and the political life, of 200 years ago. They declare, in a sort of deductive manner, what were the influences at work, and what kind of men and women preached and played, and sang and fought, on that tremendous stage, amid those tremendous scenes. But there are always some who laugh while others weep. You walk through a plague-stricken city, and there are some houses which the plague touches not, and whose inhabitants (may be) are jesting on the sorrows of their neighbours. You march through a country devastated by war, and you see