Heroic to avenge it. Were such thoughts
And feelings sinful all ? In sober truth,
When I review those hours, I deem them not
Misspent or useless ; and if riper years,
Instructing me more fully in the lore
Of good and evil, have reveal'd a world
Of mischief in the stage-if I forbear
To breathe its dangerous atmosphere, or soil
My priestly garments with the taint it bears,-
Such sacrifice I grudge not, but exult
With thankfulness that I have better joys
To gladden me on earth : but then no doubt
Or dim misgiving e'er had cross'd my mind;
No dark suspicion of inherent guilt
Estranged me from its magic: all the ill
(If ill there was) by me was unperceived ;
The good, I think, remain’d with me: some thoughts
And feelings were develop'd, which perchance
In after years have sway'd my inner man
With no unwholesome influence; some power

Was given me to perform my task on earth. Or if you wish to learn how our bard can deal with plain domestic scenes, and unobtrusive character of the true old English stamp, let him discourse of the tradesman and his mate in their retirement,in their comforts, their placid joys, and intense sympathies :

Twenty years
Were they our next-door neighbours. As a child
I well remember, when the parsonage
On rare occasions oped its festal doors
To guests invited, how amidst the throng
His was the gravest face, the stateliest step,
The hoariest head; with what a solemn grace
He at quadrille or whist would take his seat,
Confronted with some bulky dowager,
Or spinster of threescore. The dark brown coat,
White waistcoat, breeches of demurest drab,
And hose of spotless cotton, (for as yet
Silk was, with us, a luxury only known
To clergymen and squires, the polished shoes
Of rustic make, and thicker than need was,
Still dwell in my remembrance.

On his arm
Hung his good-humour'd partner, all bedight
In finery, such as fifty years before
Had shone in metropolitan saloons.
Herself ungraced by the accomplishments
Qf modish education, and, in truth,
What some call vulgar, but, beyond her peers,

From all vulgarity of soul exempt;
Kind-hearted, full of charity, unchill'd
By niggard thrift, for all the neighbouring poor
Prompt ever both to spend and to be spent ;
Alike unfit to hear and to repeat
The scandal of the tea-table. They lived,
She and her mate, a blameless, peaceful life,
Through fifty years of wedlock, till at last
Disease, in cancerous shape, assaild the wife,
Marring her features, and extending wide
Its fibres though her flesh. For some few years
She pined and wasted ; with assiduous care
Still tended by her husband, whose whole life
Was so entwined with hers, that, when she died,
The old man's heart seem'd broken. From tliat hour
He never cross'd the threshold of his door,
Save when he went to church, but sat and sat
Beside his lonely hearth from morn to night ;
Now poring o'er his Bible, now absorb’d
In dreamy thought, his eyes suffused with tears,
His heart with her whom he had lost, in heaven.
Nor sought he other company ; though oft,
When friends or neighbours came to visit him,
He would converse in no uncheerful tone,
Nor close his heart to sympathize with those
Who sympathized with him. Some habits form'd
In happier days, some customs shared with her,
He still retain'd; still every Sunday eve,
The service done, he with his kinsman dined ;
Whose jovial humour soften'd now by years,
Was, in his presence, temper'd to a grave
And reverential sadness : each with each
Held soothing fellowship, till life's frail thread
At last, in one, gave way.

His race is run; His story told ; he rests with her he loved. There is nothing forced and unusual here ; nothing but truth and natural tenderness. It only required a soul and an observation such as Cowper would have brought to such homely themes, to turn them to the best account for our instruction and bettering both for this and a future state. We

e see no necessity for anxious selection in order to allow Mr. Moultrie to recommend his own effusions by means of specimens; but have taken such examples as we find have on the instant attracted the notice of other readers. We accordingly quote one sample more where the poet becomes a landscape painter, the scene being as truthfully conceived as the drawing is simple and the colouring chaste:

There is a little town, within short space
Of England's central point, of various brick
Irregularly built, nor much adorn'd
By architectural craft-save that, indeed,
As you approach it from the South, a pile
Of questionable Gothic lifts its head
With somewhat of a grave collegiate air,
Not unbefitting what in truth it is,
A seat of academic discipline
And classic education. At its base
Stretches a broad expanse of verdant turf,
With stately trees bestudded—the resort
Of schoolboys from their studious toil released,
And bent on sport athletic : but for this,
The place might pass unnoticed-to speak truth,
As insignificant a market-town
As may be seen in England. Far around
Extends a pastoral glade, to numerous herds
Yielding abundant herbage, but ungraced
By much of rural beauty-featureless,
And to the poet's and the painter's eye
Alike insipid ; a wide, weary tract
Of hedgerow upon hedgerow. Rock nor hill
Nor graceful undulation here is seen;
The very stream which waters the fat meads
(Shaksperian Avon) hath not yet attain'd
The breadth and beauty of his later course,
But winds between his flat and reedy banks
A thin, meandering, melancholy thread
Of slow, dull, slimy water: the sole charms
Of which, with truth, the unvaried landscape boasts
Are verdure and fertility: the grass
Grows freshly, and the hedgerow trees present
Masses of summer foliage, with rich tints
Diversified in autumn; there is nought
To seek or shun, to hate or fondly love,
For miles and miles around. Amidst such scenes

The lines are fallen to me. Mr. Moultrie's other poems have a miscellaneous character, and cannot be expected to have uniformly the completeness or finish of the principal piece. All of them, however, give proofs that the same unpretending yet adequate genius has been at work upon them, -a genius that is thoroughly imbued with the national character, with that life-like breadth

and depth of tone that belong to strength when honestly and cordially put forth.


ART. VI.-Letters from the Pyrenees. By T. Clifton PARIS.

Murray. Few tourists have the adventure of Mr. Clifton Paris, and perhaps still fewer have the eye, the fancy, and the spirit to give the lively and authentic account of the scenes and the emotions inseparable from climbing the break-neck precipices, threading the giddy paths, and skirting the shelving rocks which look down and lead by one fell swoop to the tremendous yawning gulphs that characterize Alpine regions. This gentleman has indeed a peculiar liking for daring the gateways of the thunder; and he dwells upon the reminiscences of his fearful ascents, and the awful dangers upon the edge of which he trod, as well as of the sublime panoramas which opened up to him, with a gratification that is extraordinary. Most people would turn dizzy at the remembrance of the scenes and the escapes which he describes; that is, supposing they had had the good fortune ever to have returned from the eagle-heights which our tourist tempted. The equanimity, the self-possession, the gladsome minuteness with which he details his adventures will be remarkable to most persons; furnishing ample internal proof that all he narrates is in perfect faithfulness, not only in respect of what he performed, but of what his performance enabled him to scan. In short these letters are a series of sketches that are picturesque and graphic in spite of their particularity, are suggestive of thought while they arrest the eye, and are informing even when the writer's aim may have been merely to fill the imagination.

A book of this kind does not require to be analyzed in order to arrive at a critical judgment of its qualities; neither would our readers feel gratified were we to trace with the tourist the exact route which he took, or mark the stages at which he halted. We therefore do not accompany him through France, especially as there does not appear to us anything particularly striking in this part of his journey or story. It is to one or two of his letters from the Pyrenees that we direct notice,--to his adventures and encounters amongst the mountains. The ascent to the Lake of the Bear, in the vicinity of Gabas, will afford a good beginning. By the bye Mr. Paris likes to look upon crystal waters, such as issue from the everlasting adamant and the walls of the world. To every eye indeed, that has speculation in it, the limpid translucent lake, the meandering stream, and swelling fountains far removed from the intrusion of all but hermits and hermitage-seekers, must suggest a poetry that abounds with images of primeval purity, enduring beauty, and life's renovation. A waternymph is not a bad creature of the fancy; and sundry of the bathing stations, not very distant from the scenes of our tourist's exploits, may have been chosen for the healing which reaches the body through

the channel of mere association of ideas. Perhaps the bathingplace at Biaritz may have had this potency and good fortune; the water being “as clear as the brightest crystal,” so that through “its azure depths the eye can discern the white sand that sparkles at the bottom.” The nymphs and the swains practise a system that is worthy of notice; for sayeth Mr. Clifton Paris,

This constitutes the famous bathing-place, and here the beau monde of Biaritz are to be seen during the heat of the morning executing their watery purposes ; beaux and belles alike, sporting and flirting as though the sea were their native element. The ladies are dressed in the thinnest linen garments, with gigantic bats of straw as a protection from the sun's rays. They are kept in a buoyant position by bladders passed under their arms, while expert bathing-men push them over the bay, by holding their feet with one hand and swimming with the other.

But we must not pass by the narrative of the ascent to the Lake of the Bear; our tourist's landlady having informed him on his arrival in the vicinity, that though the object of his curiosity was a long way distant, and the road to it was a ladder of broken rocks, and also that the hour at which he proposed to set out was too late to allow him time to return before sunset, that yet " there is an old man below who is on the point of starting for the lake, and he will no doubt be happy to act as guide, should you wish it.”

He was one of a party who were tending a berd of three hundred cattle on the higher mountain-pastures, and he was about to return, with his donkey and a supply of bread, from a foraging excursion to these lower regions. His appearance was agreeable: he wore a highland garb---the round cap of Bearn, a jacket, which he now carried over his shoulders, knee-breeches and leggings, all of the same rough woollen materials, and of a russet-brown colour; long black hair flowed down his back; he was exceedingly deaf, and appeared of extreme age. He said I must make up my mind to sleep in his cabane, and be content with black bread and milk, his only fare; and he warned me of a mist on the morrow that might obstruct my plan of ascending to the lake: I nevertheless joyfully accepted these conditions, being quite ready for any adventure, and equally indifferent as to food and lodging. Accordingly, we sallied forth, at about half-past one, for the wild residence of my so Old Man of the Mountain."

After climbing and winding for a considerable space, the labour of the excursion became more exciting.

We ascended by a crooked path of rock, through wild furs, and immediately opposite to the Pic du Midi; so you may well imagine the grandeur of the scenery. This famous mountain is bare and precipitous, soaring aloft in a huge cone, and having a notch in its impending crest like a pair of gaping jaws, with which it would seem eager to grasp the heavens. I should think it impossible to find a better point for viewing it than that afforded by

« VorigeDoorgaan »