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“She saw him weep, and she could understand

The cause thus tremulously that made him speak.
By his emotion moved, she took his hand;
A gleam of pleasure o'er her pallid cheek
Pass'd, while she look'd at him with meaning meek,
And for a little while, as loth to part,
Detaining him, her fingers lank and weak

Play'd with their hold; then, letting him depart,
She gave him a slow smile, that touch'd him to the heart.

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“ Mourn not for her; for what hath life to give

That should detain her ready spirit here?
Think'st thou that it were worth a wish to live,
Could wishes hold her from her proper sphere ?
That simple heart, that innocence sincere,
The world would stain. Fitter she ne'er could be
For the great change; and, now that change is near,

Oh, who would keep her soul from being free ?
Maiden beloved of Heaven, to die is best for thee!

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“ She hath pass'd away, and on her lips a smile

Hath settled, fix'd in death. Judged they aright,
Or suffer'd they their fancy to beguile
The reason, who believed that she had sight
Of heaven before her spirit took its flight ?-
That angels waited round her lowly bed,
And that, in that last effort of delight,

When, lifting up her dying arms, she said,
'I come,' a ray from heaven upon her face was shed ? '

I might exhibit yet another phase of Southey's poetry in his humorous pieces. No man has better shown that one trait of genius,—the carrying forward the feelings of childhood into the powers of manhood :

My days have been the days of joy,
And all my paths are paths of pleasantness ;
And still my heart, as when I was a boy,
Doth never know an ebb of cheerfulness.

Time, which matures the intellectual part,

Hath tinged my hairs with grey, but left untouch'd my heart.” This natural and cultivated cheerfulness has vented itself in his playful poetry, to relieve his own exuberant feelings and to gladden his happy household group. There is something exceedingly fine in hearing him at one time uttering strains that sound from Arabia, or Gothic Spain, or the wilds of America, or from the magic supernatural caverns under the night of the ocean,—at another time sounding one of those tremendous imprecations on the head of Buonaparte,—and then to find him

SOUTHEY'S PLAYFUL POETRY.

309

writing, from the fulness of a father's heart, poetic stories for his children. This he deemed part of his vocation; for, as he sings in one of his sportive lyrics :

“I am laureate

To them and the king.” No man ever clung with deeper or manlier devotion to his household gods. For his children's sake, and for the sake of his own moral nature, he ever kept the young heart alive within him. There was wisdom in this, as he has shown in the plea that he has appended to one of his wild ballads :

“ I told my tale of the Holy Thumb,

That split the dragon asunder;
And my daughters made great eyes as they heard,

Which were full of delight and wonder.
“ With listening lips and looks intent,

There sate an eager boy,
Who shouted sometimes and clapt his hands,

And could not sit still for joy.
“ But when I look'd at my mistress' face,

It was all too grave the while,
And when I ceased, methought there was more

Of reproof than of praise in her smile.
That smile I read aright, for thus,

Reprovingly, said she ;-
• Such tales are meet for youthful ears,

But give little content to me.
From thee far rather would I hear

Some sober, sadder lay,
Such as I oft have heard, well pleased,

Before those locks were grey.'

Nay, mistress mine,' I made reply ;

• The autumn hath its flowers,
Nor ever is the sky more gay

Than in its evening hours.
That sense which held me back in youth

From all intemperate gladness,
That same good instinct bids me shun

Unprofitable sadness.
Nor marvel you if I prefer

Of playful themes to sing :
The October grove hath brighter tints

Than summer or than spring ;
For o'er the leaves, before they fall,

Such hues hath nature thrown,

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That the woods wear in sunless days

A sunshine of their own.
Why should I seek to call forth tears?

The source from whence we weep
Too near the surface lies in youth;

In age it lies too deep.
Enough of foresight sad, too much

Of retrospect have I ;
And well for me that I sometimes

Can put those feelings by.
“ •From public ills and thoughts that else

Might weigh me down to earth;
That I can gain some intervals

For healthful, hopeful mirth.' It only remains for me to show that that spirit of mirth was healthful, -a help to his moral strength, and consistent with a profound spirit of meditation. Let us turn, therefore, to the sublime closing strains of the most spiritual of his lyrical poems,—the noble ode on the portrait of Bishop Heber. They had been friends; and, when India's saintly bishop was no longer upon the earth, Southey's heart was strongly stirred as he gazed upon his portrait :

“O Reginald ! one course

Our studies and our thoughts,
Our aspirations, held.

*

We had a bond of union, closely knit
In spirit, though in this world's wilderness

A part our lots were cast.

*

“ Hadst thou revisited thy native land,

Mortality, and Time,
And Change, must needs have made
Our meeting mournful. Happy he
Who to his rest is borne,
In sure and certain hope,
Before the hand of age

Hath chill'd his faculties,
Or sorrow reach'd him in his heart of hearts !
Most happy if he leave in his good name

A light for those who follow him,
And in his works a living seed

Of good, prolific still !
“ Yes, to the Christian, to the heathen world,

Heber, thou art not dead,—thou canst not die,

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LECTURE XIV.

Byron.

A CATHOLIC TASTE IN LITERATURE - DIFFICULTIES OF A COURSE OF CRITICAL

LECTURES-SOUTHEY AND BYRON—THE SPIRIT OF CRITICISM, THE SPIRIT OF CHARITY-ROGERS'S PLEA FOR BYRON'S MEMORY-POPULARITY OF HIS POETRY -“ENGLISH BARDS AND SCOTCH REVIEWERS”_"CHILDE HAROLD"-HIS LOVE OF EXTERNAL NATURE-FORMATION OF HIS LITERARY CHARACTER-ADMIRATION FOR POPE-SUCCESS OF “CHILDE HAROLD"-HIS ORIENTAL TALES-LITERATURE OF THE LAST CENTURY-STORY OF BYRON'S MARRIAGE-NOCTES AMBROSIANÆ - CONTRAST BETWEEN THE “CORSAIR" AND THE “PRISONER OF CHILLON"_“THE DREAM"-MATERIALISM IN HIS POETRY-MANFRED-VENICETHE DYING GLADIATOR-STRAINS FOR LIBERTY - BEAUTY OF WOMANLY HUMANITY—“SARDANAPALUS"-BYRON'S SELFISHNESS-HIS INFIDELITY.

IN

N one of the introductory lectures of this course I took occasion to

advert to the importance of cultivating a catholic taste in literature, and, in so doing, gave at least an implied pledge that it should be one of my chief efforts to carry the same spirit into what I might wish to say to you on the many and multiform productions of English poetry. A rash or a mock originality lies not within

my
ambition;

and I have striven so to govern my voice that it should not convey to your ears old errors or old truisms disguised as startling paradoxes, that you should not turn from my opinions as prejudices or feel a wound given to your own prepossessions. Indeed, I have desired to introduce into these lectures no more of my own opinions than the very nature of my position made necessary, and, avoiding the spirit of the judge or the advocate, simply to set before your minds the poets as they have risen in succession on the glorious registry we have been examining, to open and illustrate the hidden nature of their genius, and then to leave you to know and to feel the character and spirit of their poetry. Believing that every profession has its peculiar temptation and peril, and that the professional teacher has most need to be on his guard against the insidious habit of dogmatizing, I have arrogated no authority for my opinions. But when I have felt assured that they had a root of truth, and branching aspirations after truth, I have given them utterance, trusting that the sounds awakened by the breath of poetic inspiration would prove sounds of truth.

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