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“She saw him weep, and she could understand
The cause thus tremulously that made him speak.
Play'd with their hold; then, letting him depart,
“ Mourn not for her; for what hath life to give
That should detain her ready spirit here?
Oh, who would keep her soul from being free ?
“ She hath pass'd away, and on her lips a smile
Hath settled, fix'd in death. Judged they aright,
When, lifting up her dying arms, she said,
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,
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.
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;
Which were full of delight and wonder.
There sate an eager boy,
And could not sit still for joy.
It was all too grave the while,
Of reproof than of praise in her smile.
Reprovingly, said she ;-
But give little content to me.
Some sober, sadder lay,
Before those locks were grey.'
Nay, mistress mine,' I made reply ;
• The autumn hath its flowers,
Than in its evening hours.
From all intemperate gladness,
Of playful themes to sing :
Than summer or than spring ;
Such hues hath nature thrown,
That the woods wear in sunless days
A sunshine of their own.
The source from whence we weep
In age it lies too deep.
Of retrospect have I ;
Can put those feelings by.
Might weigh me down to earth;
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,
We had a bond of union, closely knit
A part our lots were cast.
“ Hadst thou revisited thy native land,
Mortality, and Time,
Hath chill'd his faculties,
A light for those who follow him,
Of good, prolific still !
Heber, thou art not dead,—thou canst not die,
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.
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
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.