Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

The mysteries which the dreamers of old days
Did gird thee with, in many a solemn strain,
Are buried in the grave of our disdain :
Men now no altars to Apollo raise ;

And rich-brained Memory's glorious daughters

Sink in Oblivion's Lethe-waters :
The mount whence Eros shot his golden arrow
At jeering Phobus' heart, revered by none,
Hath less advertence than a war-left barrow,
And every spring mates that of Helicon :
The blood-engendered horse, the winged vision !
With the child's steed, becomes the man's derision;

Round poet-brows no laurel crownlet clings,
And outward symbols all are scoffed as idle things !

• But life and death remain unread ;

And by the same

Aspiring flame
Their
poor

inheritors are fed :
And thou and thy sublime rewards,

Deep-dwelling in the mind's regards,
Unchanged, are now as when dark Sappho writ,
Or Carus' wisdom on the world alit.

*Some idle voices are gone forth of late,
That thou art fading from the dreamless world ;
But darkness cannot yet decree light's date,
Nor thine imperial flag by slaves be furled !

• Deep cell of honey ! evermore unclosed,
But filling fast as feasted on : thou flower !
That on the steep of life ay overpeerest
The ocean of eternity, and rearest
Thy beauteous head beneath Time's hurricane power,
In which, though shaken, thou hast still reposed :
Even as a green bough waveth o'er a tomb,
Thy glories float above the old world's doom ;
And, as sweet blossoms beat to earth by rain
Rise with fresh beauty in the morning sun-
When barbarism hath thy grace o'errun,

Thou with a most tender

And more perfect splendour
Hast blushed reviving o'er the world again!

* As many wander by the wondrous ocean
Only to gather pebbles, thou to millions
Art but as vanity ; but that emotion
Which of the hearts who feast in thy pavilions
Is the ripe-gushing fruit and foaming wine,
Is deep as Bacchus' vat, or Mammon's mine.

Those who despise thee and thy dreamy glories,
Because they know thee not, are dreamers vainer,
Who sleep through their dark life, and think it light;
Reality their spell-word; but thy sight

Out-glanceth dull day-life; thy lofty stories
Are clear as their fond creeds, and thy religion plainer.

*

•As the eye, eastward fixed afar,
Plucks from the dawn a paling star,

Seen but by a striving vision ;
Thou, with a sublime decision,
Forcest from the universe
Many a dream and secret golden,

In its depths of glory folden,
And weay'st it into soul-essential verse !

Like the storm-presaging bird

In the van of thunder heard,
Thou prophesiest of eternity;
And from the great To-Come clouds roll before thine eye!

I dedicate my transient being

To thy great altars, thou All-seeing !
Lead me in tumult to thy sovereign peace;
And print thy kiss of love on my soul's brow!
Suffer my footsteps in thy places holy;
And sanctify me with the melancholy
Born of that exaltation !-Lo! I droop;
And from thine ether to dim silence stoop
Yet musing of thee : as the lark, descending,
Stills in the lower airs his gushing song ;

And on the quiet mead his voyage ending,
Sits hush'd, as his deep thought did the same strain prolong.'

p. 5-12.

Mr. Wade is the author of two dramas, entitled “Woman's Love, or the Triumph of Patience, a Comedy,' and “The Jew of Arragon, or the Hebrew Queen, a Tragedy.'. Both partake of that rich mingling of poetry and passion which characterizes the old English drama; and the latter especially, although a division of interest impairs its dramatic effect, is fraught with a power to which we yield but poor praise in saying, that it may be long sought for in vain amongst the most successful of modern plays.

W. J. F.

460

THE ACTRESS

• How sadly your brother neglects Flora's education,' said Sir James Brandon, as he looked from the newspaper, in which he had been reading a florid advertisement of a fashionable school, and addressed himself to his lady who was drawing at a table near him; it is lamentable— lamentable indeed!'

• It scarcely deserves the name of neglect, I think,' replied Lady Brandon ; "for he is constantly with her, joins in her pursuits, and permits her to share in his, whenever she feels disposed to do so.'

Yes; but what are they? reading plays and similar useless books; idling time in writing others; letting her run riot in his library (a most improper thing for a young girl to be permitted to do, especially in such a mixed library as his) or anywhere else she may choose; allowing her to use the freedom to express her opinions, whatever they may be; and, by not putting her under the judicious restraint of some respectable person, preventing her from acquiring those quiet correct notions which every young woman, who has to live in the world, ought to possess.'

• Yes; but do you not think that up to this time my brother's plan has succeeded? She is one of the happiest girls I know, and one of the warmest-hearted; always active, and perfectly free from the most ungraceful fault in the world, that of being selfish.'

* All very well, Lady Brandon; but those warm-hearted people are very imprudent, and, by thinking too much of others, we are often brought into difficulty. I have contented myself with endeavouring to maintain a distinguished respectability in the world; and, if your brother were to take a little more pains to instil the same policy into Flora, it would be far better for us all.' Lady Brandon was about to reply, when the colloquy was stayed by the entrance of the Flora in question; and never was an argument in a person's own favour more captivatingly embodied. As she entered she held up a wreath of white wild convolvulus, and another of the same kind was twined round the large straw hat which shaded her brows.

See, dear aunt, I have brought you the wreath you wanted; it was such a beauty, and I had such a scramble for it, and you must begin to draw it directly, for the flowers fade in an instant; bless its poor little life! Oh! how it did beg not to be torn away from the family of white faces it has left behind; but I told it that you would make it immortal, and then it came directly; now, do not disappoint its hopes.'

• Flora, how can you talk so much nonsense ?' said Sir James ; and then Flora's brows looked worried, but she quickly recovered. • Good morning, uncle; when does Emma come home? do let her come and see me soon. I have a new garden, and papa has given me a nice arbour for the miranda to twine over; and I have

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

hung Dick up, and he sings as if his soul were constantly coming up his throat and going down again.'

• Hung Dick up! what are you talking of child ?' said her uncle, who had imperfectly heard the last sentence.

Why, my Dick, the canary; poor dear, it is one's duty to make them as happy as one can. I long to open the door and let it fly; and should, only they say it would die. But, uncle, you will let Emma come very often; we will sit there so pretty, and do our lessons together.'

Lessons! I thought you had never anything to do with such things.

Oh yes, sometimes; for papa never obliges me to, and • That to is a vulgarism,' said Sir James.

"Oh, is it?—well, where was I?—it is, however, right to do them as often as I can; and when I take pains, papa is so kind and smiles so; and then he reads to me out of "Macbeth” or the “ Merchant of Venice,” or anything else I ask him; and I have learnt so many speeches by heart. Oh! do let me say “the quality of mercy. And she threw off her hat, shook down her hair over her shoulders, caught up a shawl that was lying on a chair, wrapped it around her, and was soon lost in her sensations of enjoyment; went fairly through the whole trial scene from the Merchant of Venice;' guessing at and personating Shylock and the other characters, which had usually fallen to her father's share, but giving her own part of Portia perfectly, and with all the truth, grace, and spirit which had been impressed into her both by nature and cultivation. Meanwhile Lady Brandon, who had begun to sketch the. convolvulus wreath, now relinquished it, to gaze on the other and more exquisite child of nature before her.

Of a form so fragile that it seemed scarcely sufficient tenement for the spirit that dwelt within it, and replete with that native grace which waits alike upon the unconsciousness of youth or the refined and cultured taste of later years; with every feature enriched with the music of expression, waking up a beautiful and universal harmony, the little enthusiast, her eyes brightening, her cheeks now red, now pale, as each successive emotion thrilled and vibrated through her frame, stirred not until the scene was near its completion. After the words, Down, therefore, and beg mercy of the duke,' she seemed suddenly to recollect herself. She hastily threw off the shawl, and gathering up her hair said, half-archly, halftimidly, 'I see, uncle, you are thinking it high time that I should “ down and beg mercy” of you for carrying my folly into your library: Sir James Brandon, somewhat mitigated by Flora's extreme artlessness and grace, softened towards her. dear, no; it is all very well here; but let me warn you against the cultivation of a very dangerous taste, very dangerous, indeed!

Why very well here, uncle, and not very well anywhere else? Why dangerous ? I am sure it always makes me feel better and

*No, my happier. I wish you would ask me to do something very difficult for you ; I am so strong; I feel I could do anything; could fly, almost.' And she threw her arms back, and seemed, like Ariel, to drink the air before her;' and you felt that with a very little less of the mortal coil in which she was wrapped, she might have taken her flight home on a bat's back, after sunset merrily.'

• But tell me, uncle, why is it dangerous ?'

• I wonder a girl of your sense (here was condescension !) should ask the question ; dangerous, because it might lead you into temptation.'

* Into temptation! I do not know what you mean, uncle.' • Why, tempt you to become an actress, to be sure.'

*Oh! is that all? well, I never could see why it should be very well here, as you said just now, and very bad at a theatre; to me it seems much better, because there are so many more people to whom you are able to give pleasure.'

• Flora, I am shocked to hear you express such a disgraceful opinion,' said her uncle.

• My father would not think it so,' said Flora, colouring to the temples.

• Possibly not,' said her uncle, with perfect coolness.

• And I—but we shall never agree, and it is absurd to waste feeling in this way,' she said, half speaking to herself; and she turned to her aunt to receive the kiss that had been awaiting her so long, and the test of affection from eyes that were always either filling with fresh tears, or parting with old ones; while Sir James was remaining inwardly shocked at the impertinence which could make a girl of fourteen commit the indecorum of not agreeing with a man more than three times her own age, and of much longer standing in society. • Dear aunt, how beautifully you are sketching the little drooper! Pretty one! do you think me very cruel for tearing you away from your home? And, as she kissed the dying convolvulus, a passing shade came over her, while Lady Brandon looked at the fragile girl and the fading flower, and sighed she scarcely knew why, though its interpretation might be found in the fleetly-vanishing beauty and freshness of fair youth. • There! look at your futurity before you die,' continued the girl, holding the flower to the page on which it had been preserved in many a graceful curve; ' you will live longer than the companions whom you have left on the hedge-bough; but that is poor comfort; and here is so much life gone!' And the rapidly-dying wreath was again pondered over, and a resolve half-formed never again to pluck another. At last she threw it gently from her, as if that were the only way to end her doubting. And now, dear aunt, I

for

papa was to come and meet me at the gate at the end of the wood,--this end; for I love to walk through a wood with him, and he will be there before I am. Do let me know as soon as Emma comes home, for we are going to give the school children

must go,

« VorigeDoorgaan »