Page images
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

(WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR, an eminent living writer, was born in 1775. He published a volume of poems when he was eighteen; and has at various periods of his life enriched the poetry of his country with productions of no common merit. Mr. Landor was the early friend of Southey ; but, unlike his friend, his early opinions have clung to him through life. This circumstance may account for some of the asperity, and some of the neglect, which it has been Mr. Landor's fate to encounter—in many respects very undeservedly. The first series of his

Imaginary Conversations, from which the following dialogue is extracted, was published in 1824; a second series appeared in 1836. His complete works were, in 1846, collected in two large closely printed volumes, sold at a cheap rate; and we have no doubt that the collection will be acceptable to a great body of readers, who will thus, for the first time, make the acquaintance of an author who, although his opinions may sometimes be singular and paradoxical, has a genuine love for all that is beautiful and ennobling in human thoughts and actions, and who has rarely been excelled as a prose writer in fertility and power.

As a fit introduction to this Conversation, we subjoin a passage from Roger Ascham's celebrated “Scholemaster,' describing the character and pursuits of Lady Jane Grey :

“And one example, whether love or fear doth work more in a child, for virtue and learning, I will gladly report, which may be heard with some pleasure, and followed with more profit. Before I went into Germany, I came to Brodegate in Leicestershire, to take my leave of that noble Lady Jane Grey, to whom I was exceedingly much beholding. Her parents, the Duke and the Duchess, with all the household, gentlemen and gentlewomen, were hunting in the park; I found her in her chamber reading Phædon Platonis in Greek, and that with as much delight, as some gentlemen would read a merry tale in Bocace. After salutation, and duty done, with some other talk, I asked her why she would lose such pastime in the park : smiling she answered me : ‘I wis, all their sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato; alas, good folk, they never felt what true pleasure meant.' ' And how came you, madam,' quoth I, to this deep knowledge of pleasure, and what did chiefly allure you unto it, seeing not many women, but very few men, have attained thereunto ?' 'I will tell you,' quoth she, “and tell you a truth, which perchance ye will marvel at. One of the greatest benefits that ever God gave me, is, that he sent me so sharp and severe parents, and so gentle a school master. For when I am in presence either of father or mother, whether [ speak, keep silence, sit, stand or go, eat, drink, be merry or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing any thing else, I must do it, as it were, in such weight, measure, and number, even so perfectly as God made the world, or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea presently sometimes, with pinches, nips, and bobs, and other ways which I will not name, for the honour I bear them, so without measure misordered, that I think myself in hell, till time come that I must go to Mr. Elmer, who teacheth me, so gently, so pleasantly, with such fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing, whiles I am with him. And when I am called from him, I fall on weeping, because, whatsoever I do else, but learning, is full of grief, trouble, fear, and whole misliking unto me. And thus my book hath been so much my pleasure, and bringeth daily to me more pleasure and more, that in respect of it, all other pleasures, in very deed, be but trifles and troubles unto me.' I remember this talk gladly, both because it is so worthy of memory, and because also it was the last talk that ever I had, and the last time that ever I saw that noble and worthy lady."]


Ascham. Thou art going, my dear young lady, into a most awful state; thou art passing into matrimony and great wealth. God hath willed it: submit in thankfulness.

Thy affections are rightly placed and well distributed. Love is a secondary passion in those who love most, a primary in those who love least. He who is inspired by it in a high degree, is inspired by honour in a higher: it never reaches its plenitude of growth and perfection but in the most exalted minds. Alas! alas !

Jane. What aileth my virtuous Ascham? What is amiss? Why do I tremble?

Ascham. I remember a sort of prophecy, made three years ago; it is a prophecy of thy condition and of my feelings on it. Recollectest thou who wrote, sitting upon the sea-beach, the evening after an excursion to the Isle of Wight, these verses ?

Invisibly bright water! so like air,
On looking down I feared thou couldst not bear
My little bark, of all light barks most light,
And look'd again, and drew me from the sight,
And, hanging back, breathed each fresh gale aghast,

And held the bench, not to go on so fast. Jane. I was very childish when I composed them; and, if I had thought any more about the matter, I should have hoped you had been too generous to keep them in your memory as witnesses against me.

Ascham. Nay, they are not much amiss for so young a girl, and there being so few of them, I did not reprove thee. Half an hour, I thought, might have been spent more unprofitably; and I now shall believe it firmly, if thou will but be led by them to meditate a little on the similarity of situation in which thou then wert to what thou art now in.

Jane. I will do it, and whatever else you command; for I am weak by nature and very timorous, unless where a strong sense of duty holdeth ard supporteth me. There God acteth, and not his creature. Those were with me at sea who would have been attentive to me if I had seemed to be afraid, even though worshipful men and women were in the company; so that something more powerful threw my fear overboard. Yet I never will go again upon the water.

Ascham. Exercise that beauteous couple, that mind and body, much and variously, but at home, at home, Jane! indoors, and about things indoors; for God is there too. We have rocks and quicksands on the banks of our Thames, O lady, such as ocean never heard of; and many (who knows how soon!) may be engulfed in the current under their garden walls.

Jane. Thoroughly do I now understand you. Yes, indeed, I have read evil things of courts; but I think nobody can go out bad who entereth good, if timely and true warning shali have been given.

Ascham. I see perils on perils which thou dost not see, albeit thou art wiser than thy poor old master. And it is not because Love hath blinded thee, for that surpasseth his supposed omnipotence; but it is because thy tender heart, having always leant affectionately upon good, hath felt and known nothing of evil.

I once persuaded thee to reflect much: let me now persuade thee to avoid the habitude of reflection, to lay aside books, and to gaze carefully and steadfastly on what is under and before thee.

Jane. I have well bethought me of my duties: O how extensive they are ? what a goodly and fair inheritance! But tell me, would you command me never more to read Cicero, and Epictetus and Plutarch, and Polybius? The others I do resign: they are good for the arbour and for the gravel walk: yet leave unto me, I beseech you my friend and father, leave unto me for my fireside and for my pillow, truth, eloquence, courage, constancy.

Ascham. Read them on thy marriage-bed, on thy child-bed, on thy death-bed Thou spotless undrooping lily, they have fenced thee right well. These are the men for men: these are to fashion the bright and blessed creatures whom God one day shall smile upon in thy chaste bosom. Mind thou thy husband.

Jane. I sincerely love the youth who hath espoused me; I love him with the fondest, the most solicitous affection; I pray to the Almighty for his goodness and happiness, and do forget at times, unworthy supplicant! the prayers I should have offered for myself. Never fear that I will disparage my kind religious teacher, by disobedience to my husband in the inost trying duties.

Ascham. Gentle is he, gentle and virtuous : but time will harden him: time must harden even thee, sweet Jane! Do thou, complacently and indirectly, lead him from ambition.

Jane. He is contented with me, and with home.
Ascham. Ah Jane! Jane! men of high estate grow tired of contentedness.

Jane. He told me he never liked books unless I read them to him: I will read them to him every evening; I will open new worlds to him richer than those discovered by the Spaniard: I will conduct him to treasures-0 what treasures !-on which he may sleep in innocence and peace,

Ascham. Rather do thou walk with him, ride with him, play with him, be his faery, his page, his every thing that love and poetry have invented; but watch him well; sport with his fancies, turn them about like the ringlets round his cheek; and if he ever meditate on power, go toss up thy baby to his brow, and bring back his thoughts into his heart by the music of thy discourse.

Teach him to live unto God and unto thee; and he will discover that women, like the plants in woods, derive their softness and tenderness from the shade.


COLERIDGE. [SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE was born on the 20th of October, 1772, at Saint Mary Ottery, Devonshire, of which parish his father was the vicar. His early education was in that noble institution, Christ's Hospital; and having there attained the scholastic rank of Grecian, he secured an exhibition to Jesus College, Cambridge, 1791. But he quitted the University without taking a degree, having adopted the democratic opinions of the day in all their extreme results. This boyish enthusiasm eventually subsided into calmer feelings. He gave himself up to what is one of the first duties of man--the formation of his own mind. His character was essentially contemplative. He wanted the energy necessary for a popular writer, and thus people came to fancy that he was an idle dreamer. What he has left behind him will live and fructify, when the flashy contributions to the literature of the day of fourfifths of his contemporaries shall have utterly perished. There is no man of our own times who has incidentally, as well as directly, contributed more to produce that revolution in opinion, which has led us from the hard and barren paths of a miscalled utility, to expatiate in the boundless luxuriance of those regions of thought which belong to the spiritual part of our nature, and have something in them higher than a money value. Since Mr. Coleridge's death in 1834, some of his works have been collected and republished in a neat form and at a moderate price :— The Poetical Works,' 3 vols. ;— The Friend, a Series of Essays,' 3 vols. ; --- Aids to Reflection,' 2 vols.;— On the Constitution of Church and State,” 1 vol. ;-Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit,' 1 vol. ;– Literary Remains,' 4 vols. To these has lately been added his · Biographia Literaria,' in 2 vols. These publications were chiefly superintended by his accomplished nephew, Mr. Henry Nelson Coleridge, whose early death was a public loss. The · Biographia' is edited by the widow of Mr. H. N. Coleridge, the daughter of the poet—the inheritress of the genius of her father, and of the virtues of her husband.]

Late, late yestreen I saw the new Moon,
With the old Moon in her arms;
And I fear, I fear, my Master dear!
We shall have a deadly storm.

Ballad of Sir Patrick Spenco,

Well! If the Bard was weather-wise, who made

The grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence,

This night, so tranquil now, will not go hence
Unroused by winds, that ply a busier trade
Than those which mould yon cloud in lazy flakes,
Or the dull sobbing draft, that moans and rakes

Upon the strings of this Eolian lute,

Which better far were mute.
For lo! the new Moon winter-bright!
And overspread with phantom light,
(With swimming phantom light o'erspread,

But rimmed and circled by a silver thread,)
I see the c!d Moon in her lap, foretelling

The coming on of rain and squally blast.
And oh! that even now the gust were swelling,

And the slant night-shower driving loud and fast!
Those sounds which oft have raised me, whilst they awody

And sent my soul abroad,
Might now perhaps their wonted impulse give,
Might startle this dull pain and make it move and live!



A grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear,

A stifled, drowsy, unimpassioned grief,
Which finds no natural outlet, no relief

In word, or sigh, or tear-
O Lady! in this wan and heartless mood,
To other thoughts by yonder throstle woo'd,

All this long eve, so balmy and serene,
Have I been gazing on the western sky,

And its peculiar tint of yellow green:
And still I gaze—and with how blank an eye!
And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars,
That give away their motion to the stars;
Those stars, that glide behind them or between,
Now sparkling, now bedimmed, but always seen
Yon crescent Moon, as fixed as if it grew
In its own cloudless, starless lake of blue;
I see them all so excellently fair,
I see, not feel how beautiful they are !


My genial spirits fail,

And what can these avail
To lift the smothering weight from off my breast?

It were a vain endeavour,

Though I should gaze for cver
On that green light that lingers in the west:

I may not hope from outward forms to win
The passion and the life, whose fountains are within.


O Lady! we receive but what we give,
And in our life alone does nature live:
Ours is her wedding-garment, ours her shroud!

And would we aught behold, of higher worth,
Than that inanimate cold world allowed
To the poor loneless ever-anxious crowd,

Ah! from the soul itself must issue forth
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud

Enveloping the Earth-
And from the soul itself must there be sent

A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth,
Of all sweet sounds the life and element!

O pure of heart! thou need'st not ask of me
What this strong music in the soul may be!
What, and wherein it doth exist,
This light, this glory, this fair luminous mist,
This beautiful and beauty-making power.

Joy, virtuous Lady! Joy that ne'er was given,
Save to the pure, and in their purest hour,
Life and life's effluence, cloud at once and shows,
Joy, Lady, is the spirit and the power,
Which wedding nature to us gives in dower,

A new Earth and new Heaven
Undreamt of by the sensual and the proud-
Joy is the sweet voice, Joy the luminous cloud

We in ourselves rejoice!
And thence flows all that charms or ear or sight,

All melodies the echoes of that voice,
All colours a suffusion from that light.


There was a time when, though my path was rough,

This joy within me dallied with distress, And all misfortunes were but as the stuff

Whence Fancy made me dreams of happiness:
For hope grew round me, like the twining vinc,
And fruits, and foliage, not my own, seemed mine.
But now afflictions bow me down to earth. ;
Nor care I that they rob me of my mirth.

But oh! each visitation
Suspends what nature gave me at my birth,

My shaping spirit of imagination
For not to think of what I needs must feel,

But to be still and patient, all I can;
Arid haply by abstruse research to steal

From my own nature all the natural man

This was my sole resource, my only plan; il thul which suits a part infects the whole, And now is almost grown the habit of my


« EelmineJätka »