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assault, perpetrated in a drunken night brawl.
which stimulated his horrible purpose-his reckFrom subsequent inquiries I learnt that the money less conduct-his heartless levity of tongue, when he received had been lavished in riotous in- he should rather have been overwhelmed with temperance and excess of every sort, during shame and sorrow-and the vacant, misplaced, which his eccentricities, freaks, and outrages, offensive laugh by which I had so often been combined with his incoherent language and wild revolted-all had now received a solution which looks, had procured for him from his fellow-revel- showed them to have sprung from latent insanity, lers the name of 'Crazy George.' Struck by the not from premeditated and conscious wickedness, vacant expression of his features, and the ram- not from the frivolty and defiance of an utterly bling silliness of his language, I saw at once that callous heart, not from the deliberate suggestions he was in a state of mental alienation, brought on, of an abandoned nature. From an object of unas I conjectured, by his recent wildness of life; avoidable disgust and hatred, my unfortunate boy under which impression, having procured his dis- was converted into a claimant for the profoundest charge from prison, I took him to a physician, pity and compassion. It was something to feel who has very extensive practice in the treatment that I still had a son, even though he might be of similar cases, and who has now seen him seven little better than a filial statue. or eight times.
"His deliberate opinion, I am much distressed to state, is exceedingly unfavorable. Though the disorder of the faculties may have been more rapidly developed by recent occurrences, he does not consider it a temporary one, but arising from organic derangement, and therefore of a permanent and incurable character. He pronounces it to be a softening of the brain, a defect which gradually undermines the reasoning powers, and usually terminates in imbecility and idiocy. On my hinting that his patient was by no means a harmless simpleton, but had recently been harboring heinous designs, he replied that a combination of cunning and contrivance with great wickedness frequently characterized the incipient stages of this peculiar lunacy; and that, from the present condition of your son, he had no hesitation in declaring he must have been in an unsound state of mind for several months. Depend upon it,' such were the physician's own words, that this unfortunate young man, though he may have been competent to the ordinary purposes of life, has long been utterly defective in the moral sense; has ceased to know the difference between right and wrong, and cannot, therefore, during this period of morbid mental action, be fairly deemed an accountable being.'
"I have placed poor George for the present in a private lunatic asylum, and await your orders as to his ultimate disposal."
Although Hodges, the foreman, had strict moral justice been awarded him, deserved punishment rather than reward, I had made him a promise which I held myself sacredly bound to perform. Removing him, accordingly, from a neighborhood where he might have been tempted to a renewal of his unhallowed practices, I purchased for him in a provincial town a long-established and respectable business, by attention to which he cannot fail to realize a moderate independence.
More than a year has elapsed since the occurrence of the events stated in the preceding narrative; and though I have no further marvellous adventures to record, the interval has not been altogether uneventful. Godfrey Thorpe, after having run through his own fine fortune by every species of wanton extravagance, lived for some time upon the fortunes of others by running in debt, when, being unable to protract any longer the smash I had anticipated, he absconded from the seat of his ancestors, and is at present settled with his family at Boulogne.
Oakfield Hall, with its wide and fair domains, is now mine, and I am writing in the library of that Elizabethan mansion of which I had so long coveted the possession. Many of my fond and foolish yearnings have been chastised by my temporary consignment to the jaws of death; but this ambition, perhaps the vainest of my earthly vanities, has survived my apparent decease and real entombment, and I feel a daily and increasing pleasure as I wander over my broad acres. Nor are my rides less gratifying because I take them on my favorite white cob, whose back I never again expected to bestride when I caught a glimpse of him as the undertakers were depositing me in my coffin.
Sad and afflicting as it was, I have said that this letter was not without mitigating suggestions. It is a great, a deplorable, a heart-rending calamity to be the father of an incurable idiot; but it is infinitely more terrible to have a son who could My daughter's marriage was solemnized a year contemplate, while in possession of his reason, the ago, and I am already blessed with a little granddiabolical crime of parricide. From this horror son, who bears my name, and who will become and disgrace I was relieved. My heart was my heir. Mr. Mason, for whom I have purchased enabled to throw off the incubus that had dark- the advowson of the living, and who, conjointly ened and crushed it. All was now cleared up, with his wife, does the honors of Oakfield Hall, everything was now intelligible, and my misfor- where they are permanently established, devotes tune, though still a heavy one, was not tainted by himself with an exemplary zeal to the discharge the unutterably hateful associations with which I of his pastoral duties, and is beloved by the whole had been previously haunted. My son's dabblings neighborhood. Their union promises to be more with the poisonous mixture-the monomania than usually blessed; a prospect which affords me
the purest and most exquisite of all pleasures—the 'I may give a better account of my stewardship contemplation of that happiness which we have than I could have done at an earlier period. been instrumental in conferring upon others. An eminent cutler of the Strand, one of whose
My poor son, whom I regularly see, though he relations had been buried alive, left a legacy of no longer recognizes me, is in a private asylum for ten guineas to be given to any surgeon who should Junatics, where he receives every succor and pass a stiletto through his heart before his body consolation that his unfortunate state allows.- was committed to the grave ; to facilitate the perAll hopes of his recovery have long been aban- formance of which operation, the weapon was tied doned.
to the will. This example I have followed. Though my constitution will never cease to feel Vain and even ridiculous as the precaution may be the effects of the trying shocks it has sustained, I deemed, I have too vivid, too harrowing a recolam still enabled, thank God! to participate in lection of my past sufferings, to incur the possibility most of my customary enjoyments ; nor am I of their recurrence. I have no wish to writewithout a hope that my moral health has been and, probably, my readers would have as little inclibenefited by the ordeals through which I have nation to peruse—a second “ Posthuinous Memoir passed, and that when I am finally called away, of Myself.”
THE DEAD CHILD.
us who bear this child to-day No pang like this is given ; The door we shut upon its tomb
Encloses it in heaven. Boston Atlas.
Let in the light of the fair sun,
And leave me here alone;
My dear, unspotted one!
And voiceless men are there;
"The bell strikes on the air. Through the bare trees the autumn wind
With rustling song complains
In sad funeral strains.
This eloquent, sweet face,
Sat with celestial grace.
But shame the sculptor's skill,
Unconscious, cold and still.
This is no place for tears ;
That mock my hopes and fears.
Feeling thou still art here,
That filled thy short career.
From out these infant eyes
The pathway to the skies. But this is death! beneath whose touch,
Cold, unrelenting power !
To perish in an hour.
It were in vain to weep;
As to the couch of sleep.
Is dark to him who fears
Of unrepented years.
KING WITLAF'S DRINKING HORN.
BY HENRY W. LONGFELLOW. WITLAF, a king of the Saxons,
Ere yet his last he breathed,
His drinking-horn bequeathed :
And drank from the golden bowl
And breathe a prayer for his soul.
And bade the goblet pass ;
Like dew-drops in the grass.
They drank to Christ the Lord, And to each of the Twelve Apostles,
Who had preached his holy word. They drank to the Saints and Martyrs
of the dismal days of yore, And as soon as the horn was empty,
They remembered one saint more. And the Reader droned from the pulpit,
Like the murmur of many bees,
And Saint Basil's homilies !
From their prison in the tower,
Proclaimed the midnight hour.
And the abbot bowed his head,
But the abbot was stark and dead!
He clutched the golden bowl, In which, like a pearl dissolving,
Had sunk and dissolved his soul,
The jovial monks forbore,
From the Boston Post.
merged are the external and internal of poesy, that The Poctical and Prose Writings of Charles it requires the most lofty and vigorous, the most
Sprague. New and Revised Edition. Boston : tender and burning efforts of whatever divinity Ticknor, Reed & Fields.
there may be within. And in truth, what have Year after year are the generations coming up, been rashly termed the outward and mechanical and it is fitting that the works of one whom the parts of verse, including, of course, all ornamental fathers delighted to honor should be accessible to epithets as well as melody, fitness and terseness of the children. The present edition of Sprague expression, and everything, in fine, but its inner contains a few pieces never before presented with idea and conception, really constitute, generally their brethren, but is especially welcome at this speaking, a large proportion of what is universally time, from the entire disappearance from our book- recognized as poetry, and that, 100, of a bigh and stores, of Francis & Co.'s elegant volume. even the highest order. The simple thought of
And here we might stay our pen. For is there Prospero of the utter dissolution of the world, with need, at this late day, of calling attention to all its “cloud-capped towers, gorgeous palaces,” “Curiosity," " Art," the “Centennial,” and the and his mental grasp of the sublimity, as if he held “ Shakspeare Ode,” to say nothing of those many the great globe in the hollow of his hand, are the tender, affectionate, pathetic stanzas which even really poetical cores of the glorious passage. But now are circling through the American press, and were they not, are they not, comparatively speaklike the poet's owo “ winged worshippers," are ing, common thoughts ; is not the merit of the “ blessed wanderers o'er lakes and lands?" In passage in its expression ? Who has sung like one view no further word need be uttered. The Shakspeare ? and yet he sang by the scale. But welcome which Sprague has always received, and his tones were sweeter, fuller, and more sublime. now receives from the public, proves that, in some Who cannot perceive, at any rate, that thought measure, at least, he is appreciated. His writings and expression are here so intimately blended, that might be safely left to themselves——true taste yet the former all alone would be but a preacher's thrives in many a quiet nook. True poetry in moral, while the latter without the thought could good English, with thoughts sublime, imaginative, never have been attained ? beautifulor philosophical, expressed clearly, strong- So, too, in Byron. The naked comparison of ly and completely, in melodious verse, is not yet fallen Greece to the beautiful dead, is unquestionthrown aside as worthless, at the advent of new ably poetical, but the great charm of the passage schools and new styles, with their crudities, spasms is the truthful, graceful and thrilling elaboration and thoughts too big for the utterance of the of its dress. Coming to single lines, everybody thinker, and so thrust upon the world in clothing, knows that the drum is a noisy and barbaric instrupicked up, blindfold, in a Brattle street of words. ment. There would seem to be nothing very
But in another view, our subject should not yet poetical in the idea, at any rate ; but Campbell be dismissed. For in late years, as it seems to saysus, there have grown up in our midst, a class of
And hears thy stormy music in the drum. people, who are ever “ like Paul's Athenians, And let him who dare, deny the line to be true seeking something new,” to the forgetfulness of
and even lofty poetry. what is good in the old. And, in fine, there are
And the author under notice, in his “ Centennial many, now-a-days, whose approval is really valu-Ode," while speaking of the Indian, saysable, who are fast tending to the opposite extreme to that wherein men wandered in the days of
Cold with the beast he slew, he sleeps. “good Queen Anne," who, it may be added. Here the idea is certainly poetical, but how much literally sat in the sun," but had no brightness of the beauty and effect of the line reside in the of her own.
opening epithet and the concluding alliteration ! In Pope's time, the dress of thought was more So in the “ Shakspeare Ode," the poet has told of regarded, perhaps, than thought itself-now-a-days, the downfall of the Roman empire, with its learnthere is a growing disposition to disregard the ing, science and the arts. dress altogether. And we would attempt a few
In dust the sacred statue slept, sentences in defence of the happy medium. Good,
Fair science round her aliars wept, plain, correct English alone, however apt, terse or
And wisdom couled his head. expressive, is neither thought nor poetry ; but we is not this a vast but perfectly finished picture ? do maintain that it is the only proper garb, color- and yet the charm of the whole is " wound up" ing and outside of both, whether in verse or prose. by the verb in the last line. What other word in And though in the main but the mechanical part the language could have so comprised the whole of verse, it is almost as indispensable as the mental story of the retreat of wisdom to the monks of the portion ; and though a fair production of this out- middle ages ? Does it require nothing but the side may not call for the poetical faculty, yet in its practice of a blockhead, or even of a shrewd and perfect production, is displayed a very high degree persevering brain, to obtain such expressions as of that faculty. At all times, it requires taste, these? experience, ear, knowledge of the language, power But we are no insane idolater of what may be of condensation, perspicuity and distinctness of regarded as, more or less, the externals of verse. idea ; at some time, su completely mixed and inter-| And still less are we special pleaders for the ex
ternal grace, strength and correctness of the author under notice. He has all these, but he has the "heart of hearts" of poetry, in addition. Moreover, in some of his most admired and most exquisite pieces, few writers could be less indebted than he to poetical expression. In some of them, the idea, whether pathetic or philosophical, is almost the only charm-the expression being noticeable chiefly for its clearness and harmony with the idea.
patience and practice, or those higher beauties, ranging from external elegances to the real spirit of poetry, which cannot be learned, but may be, nay, must be cultivated.
"A poet is born, not made," says the ancient critic. He should have added, "A poet is born, but born to grow." In the words of Ben Jonson
For though the poet's matter nature be,
Upon the muse's anvil; turn the same
But we do say that no man can be a poet without a proper knowledge of both the coarser and finer mechanism of verse, from its construction, which may, to some degree, be learned by a persevering dunce, to its choicest epithets, depending for their merit on natural gifts and careful cultivation. No as an artist, to express our opinion of his writings Our present purpose is chiefly to show our author man can be a painter without skill, and the great-as works of art, to prove that his poetry is no less est, in brushes, canvas and pigments, whatever be because his art is more than that of most living the ardor of his conceptions. If he could, dear writers, nay, of any living poet; for some people reader, you or we might sometimes stand with seem to believe that nothing which is finished can Raphael or Buonarotti. And the poet is the paint- be great or sublime-forgetting that the very er in words. His canvas is under his hand, but mountains are piled, the glaciers spread, and the on its narrow woof are shown the mote in the chasms rent, not by chance, but according to etersunbeam, the “violet 'neath a mossy stone," the nal laws. real glories of creation, the fabled terrois of the last day. As Shakespeare, in the chorus of Henry V., exclaims :
"Curiosity" is undoubtedly the best known and the most general favorite of all Sprague's longer poems. We shall therefore say little about it. Everybody knows what an occasional poem is "bound" to be a thing of "shreds and patches," a shot at a given, not a chosen mark. Until the appearance of Holmes' Urania," Curiosity" was the only poem of its class which seemed destined to fill a permanent place in our literature. It has now survived more than twenty years, has passed through a number of editions, and has been
No therefore, can be a poet who does not have all the requisites for writing verse properly. He may have large conceptions, a novel turn of thought, and even, when the fit is on him, may ac-published as the work of an Englishman, and cidentally throw forth a gem of poesy to shine amid the muck which is around, and astonish the world by its contrasted brilliancy. With great luck, he may produce these jewels often enough to make the whole heap a second Golconda; but instances of this fortuitous excellence are rare.
A man, to be a poet, must have not only the fire from heaven within him, but he must be able to breathe it skilfully, to play with it, to blast with it, to melt with it, according to the changing of his mood and his subject.
Obscurity and inappropriateness of expression involve clumsiness, carelessness, indolence and presumption. And if here reminded that we have wandered from our subject, we should reply that all the foregoing is really a tribute to our author; for he, of all American poets, is most remarkable for beauties of language, whether elegant, terse or simply correct, and for an union of these external beauties with the inner essence, whether it expand into a thought as vast as space itself, or creep into a single epithet, like Ariel into the cowslip's bell. To repeat, then, our opening remark, these paragraphs are written for the special consideration of those who are beginning or have begun to neglect the dress of poetry, whether this dress be that mere construction and that use of sensible words, a knowledge of which may be acquired by mere
praised accordingly, both in Calcutta and London.
But to leave comparison, " Curiosity," as a specimen of mastery over the heroic measure, stands alone in American literature. It does not contain a single weak line, or meaningless epithet, thrown in to eke out a foot or for the sake of a rhyme. It has but two or three lines which one would like to alter, and we defy the amateurs of the new school to scan it more closely and severely than we have done. The whole work is a model of execution, and a pleasant essay might be written on its individual verses and particular expressions. We do not claim for it the highest honors of poetry, but do aver, that while it is surpassed by
few productions of the kind, even in matter-in (not easily matched both “for poetry of idea and manner it stands before them all.
felicity of expression.” Passages will endure as But we must pass on. The elegiac effusions long as the Indian is remembered ; and as the red of Sprague are as well known as household words. man passes away, and the evil memories of him Our prime favorite is "I see thee still ;” a compo- are effaced, Sprague's glowing and sympathetic sition on which verbal criticism is absolutely at pictures may be even more highly regarded than fault. Everything is as clear as truth, as tender at present. The Indian's as love. That there is true poesy in all these
-heraldry is but a broken bou, pathetic pieces we have never heard disputed. Is His history' but a tale of wrong and woe, there less, than if they were written crudely, ob
His very name must be a blank. scurely, carelessly-with ill-chosen words, with And one day, romance will pour upon his grave harsh expressions? Who will deny that a deal her tears and roses, and there will be none alive of their pathos even, flows from the perfect har- to mock at her sympathy. Then Sprague's elegy mony and delicacy of their apparel. The whole and eulogy of the savage, over cordial as they now poetical idea of “ I see thce still,” for instance, is appear, will be received as truth as well as obvious in the title—all the rest proceeds either poetry. from the power or the carefulness of expression. Finally we come to the “Shakspeare Ode,"
After the elegiac pieces come “ The Winged having left it to the last ; as we consider it the Worshippers” and “ To my Cigar,” two genial greatest work of its author. Much of it, we bits of moralizing raised into poetry by the art of know, is but a paraphrase of Shakspeare, and
Preceding these are the series of these portions we dismiss at once. But enough “ Prize Prologues,” which were so successful, in
“ remains behind.” In this poem Sprague has various cities and among stranger judges, from essayed his most daring flight, and proved himself twenty to thirty years ago. These, too, are poems as capable of soaring into the imaginative as of of “occasion,” and in them the author was fitting about among the realities of human life, necessarily even more “cabined, cribbed, confined,” with its joys and sorrows. With little fancy, in than in «
Curiosity” or the other long poems. the Lalla Rookh sense of the term, his imaginaAt the present day, it may be said of these pro- tion is strong and his descriptions vivid and ductions, that they are, essentially, but tasteful, vigorous. We have heretofore noticed the comelegant, well-turned lines. The address for the prehensive picture given in the opening stanzas. Park Theatre in 1821 is the best, upon the whole- On the next page the birth of Shakspeare is thus the others are necessarily, in some measure, re
Wrapped in young dreams, a wild-eyed minstrel strayed;
Thou didst teach the bard his song:
, Her sinile a moonbeam on a blasled heath ;
Thy fingers strung his sleeping shell, Round some cold grave she comes, sweet flowers to strew, On his lips, thy spirit fell
And round his brows, a garland curled ; And, lost to reason, still to love is true.
And bade him wake and warm the world! Is not this poetry? Could it be better expressed ? Comment on these lines is needless. But again These are the questions which the critic should we ask, would they have been better, if worse ask of himself. The subject may not suit him, expressed ? We should think so, to judge from perhaps, but the subject given, could the execution the stuff which finds admirers, now-a-days. But be improved ? Setting aside the first few lines the truth is, that what men think, or ought to of Johnson's celebrated address at the opening of think, however high, spiritual or poetical, can be Drury Lane in 1747, we do not hesitate to aver put into words in such fashion as to be clear to that Sprague's theatrical prologues are superior other men—that is, it can be so put, with time, to the best of the most noted British efforts. We care, skill, patience, and ability. The passage in have now before us the addresses of Pope, Rogers, the “Ode” on “ Mirth, his face with sunbeams Sheridan, Byron, and Scott, and we know that lit”—is a find specimen of the blending of sound those of the American are not only more sensible, with sense--and that beginning, Young love poetical and elegant, but that, as mere verse, his with eye of tender gloom” is a most beautiful lines are decidedly superior.
picture of love's sorrow and joy. As an example The poem on
Art" next demands attention. of the bold and even sublime, the lines ending the John Quincy Adams once said of this, that in forty dream of Richard of Gloster should not be for. lines was comprised an encyclopadia of descrip- gotten :tion. The idea is poetical, and the expression is for him the vulture sits on yonder misty peak, worthy the idea. It is, in mere execution, the And chides the lagging night, and whets her hungry beak. most happy of all Sprague's productions, and it One can peer out into the thick darkness, and be. may be commended to versifiers as a model of hold the shadowy bird, impatient for her royal correct, condensed, melodious language. “ The carrion. We shall copy but one more passage. Centennial Ode” was never our favorite, in spite After the Pindaric lines, the heroic measure comes of occasional fine passages and strong lines ; and in with fine effect. Its sweep, at once majestic yet were our present task to end here, we could and yet full of spirit, is unsurpassed, when rolled quote from the “ Requiem of the Indian," stanzas from a master lyre :