changed position in relation to the Commons, by the creation of Peers for life, and by allowing Peers to un-lord themselves for the purpose of sitting in the Lower, or rather the then Upper House.

• Who is there, even among Tories, not blinded by faction or ambition, who does not anxiously wish that it were possible to retain Lord Spencer in that House in which his influence was so powerful and so beneficial? or to restore Lord Brougham to the field in which he was so long the champion of improvement ?

We will only add, that the recent elections have added ample proof to the indications which before existed of the imperfections of the Reform Act in some important points, and of the necessity of averting the formation of a number of venal boroughs, and of securing even the degree of representation which it was intended to bestow, by the speedy extension of the suffrage, the repeal of the Septennial Act, and the adoption of Vote by Ballot.


CHARLES COWDEN CLARKE deserves well of his country. His merit is manifold. It should be recognised the more readily for two reasons: first, its humble pretensions and unobtrusive character; and, secondly, its relation to the most interesting portion of society, and also the most improvable,—the young. He is great with little folks, and will rise with the rising generation. On the cricket-ground he is potential, and his laws are obeyed by the boy with the bat, who searches the ‘Young Cricketer's Tutor' for statute, precedent, and pattern. And he is not less grand in the garden. We should wish that his · Adam' were an annual, but that the book is perennial. What an eloquent homily it is on the duty and delight of digging! Wordsworth consecrates an ode to the Spade with which Wilkinson hath tilled his lands; but, begging Wilkinson's pardon, and Wordsworth's too, we have much more reverence for Adam's hoe. It is more influential, more prolific, a self-multiplying machine, a very polypus of a hoe, and has produced its like in the hands of hundreds of juvenile cultivators. Honour to the man who makes boys and girls love flowers, teaches them to sow with success, gives them a turn for transplanting, disposes them to haunt the hedges, and make botanizing forays in the fields, and opens their eyes and hearts to nature's loveliness! The descriptions in the work we refer to, show how much Mr. Clarke is at home when he is abroad. But look within doors, and you will find him quite a native in the nursery. Anterior to the age for spade or bat, the little things have head enough for The Tales from Chaucer.' And for the time when they begin to outgrow the bat and spade, he has made provision in the work now before us, the da capo of his juvenile melody, in which the “big manly voice' may chant again the notes of its childish treble, but with a deeper tone of meaning and a richer swell of harmony.

* The Riches of Chaucer; with Explanatory Notes, and a Memoir of the Poet, By Charles Cowden Clarke. Two Volumes.

If Chaucer be the well of English undefiled,' Mr. Clarke's book is a famous bucket, and we have to thank him for a delic cious draught. His own metaphor in the title reminds us rather of a mine ; in The Tales' he has coined the ore into small change for children, but here the senior juveniles are presented with pure and massy ingots, the genuine Riches of Chaucer.'

And truly a good work does he perform who induces young folks to read old poets. Statues have been raised for achievements far less honourable or useful. The education is radically defective in which they do not contribute some portion of the inental discipline. Their absence cannot be atoned for by all the volumes of history and science which the strength of youthful appetite may enable it to digest. They are Professors of Humanity, whose lectures cannot be delivered by proxy: What Burns says of misfortune may be said of their poems, which are a fortune:

• There's wit there ye'll get there,

Ye'll find na other where.' And of all the great names of our poetical classics, the editor judged wisely to commence with Chaucer. This was to begin with the beginning, not only in the order of time, but in the more important order of the mental impressions which the writings of our most illustrious bards are calculated to produce; and also in the order of the previous attainment which is requisite for a correct appreciation. Chaucer's writings are the basis of English poetry. In them we can best trace the elemental principles of its versification, and of its prevailing modes of thought and feeling. Their broad simplicity is a noble study for the young. The universality of Shakspeare is too much for them in one way, and the learned magnificence of Milton is too much for them in another way. The full action of each is only upon a matured and accomplished intellect; and such an intellect is required for their appreciation. Spenser, too, is well postponed to Chaucer. His fascination is of an artificial character. The Faery Queen’ can only be read by the initiated. It rests on an hypothesis, like the faith in dramatic reality. Until the student has taken one degree, at least, it is a sealed volume. That degree he may take upon an examination in Chaucer, who writes for the worshippers of the outer court of the Muses' Temple. The literal character of his poetry has been well commented upon by Hazlitt. It is a word for word translation from the volumes of nature and of the world. They are fairly - done into English. He catalogues plants like a botanist ; and narrates events as if he were in a witness-box. And

yet the

result is sterling poetry. It is so, because Chaucer was a poet. His faculty was simply in poetical selection. This is his

peculiarity. Nothing is effected by the medium through which the objects are seen, with the exception of the melody of the versification; that medium is only the clear and sharp atmosphere of his intellect; there is no colouring, no mistiness. You look at his inventory, and you feel that it is poetry, because it is an inventory of poetical object and attribute. "Now this is wholesome food for the young mind; a thousand times better than the made dishes which in our days are cooked up to pass for poetry. And Chaucer was, not only a lover of nature, but a man of the world; and to complete an extraordinary combination, he was also a man of principle, active and zealous for the reformation of such corruptions and abuses as were most rife in his times. Hence, though devoid of the absolute versatility of Shakspeare, he abounds in strokes of humour and character; and though devoid of the stateliness of Milton, he yet makes us reverence the presence of moral principle. Hence, his verbal translation of the poetry which is in nature and in man, may fitly precede their illustrative commentary. This is learning the language of the gods, according to the Hamiltonian system ; and our gifted translator himself selects the best passages to be construed. It is true there is a yet further selection to be made. The plain-spoken tongue of those days often offends our niceness. Some words which were then tolerably reputable, have since lost caste and been banished from decent society. Nor did even the virtuous scruple to tell of very unmannerly doings. On these points, the present editor interposes. He has discharged this portion of his office with much good taste and sound discretion. Without being fastidious himself

, they must be very fastidious to whom he has left any cause of offence. His dealings with the orthography and accentuation are also creditable to his judgment. The noble music of Chaucer's verse is freed from the seeming and exaggerated difficulties of reproducing it from its appropriate instrument, the human voice. It may now be read at sight. Heartily do we thank the editor for his hearty labours in this good work. We hope he will be encouraged, next, to see what he can do, for the same class of readers, with the chivalric pictures by which the halls of the Faery Queen are tapestried. The youth whom he has endowed with the · Riches of Chaucer' will then find them an admission fee to the Gallery of Spenser.




The doctor shook his head and looked very grave. What!' exclaimed the chapel-master, jumping off his chair, · What! is this illness of Clara really serious ?

The doctor took out his snuff-box, tapped two or three times upon the lid, replaced it in his pocket without taking a pinch, looked up at the ceiling, but spoke not a word. This put the chapel-master quite out of patience.

“Tell me,' said he, “tell me, without any mystification, is this cold—which Clara caught, I think, by neglecting to put on her shawl when she left church-likely to cost the dear child her life?'

Why, no,' said the doctor, again taking out his snuff-box, and this time using its contents, no let us hope not; but it is more than probable that she will never sing a note again all her life-time.'

On hearing those words the chapel-master thrust his ten fingers desperately into his hair, thereby surrounding himself with a cloud of powder, and, running about the room in great agitation, he cried,— Not sing again !-never sing again! Clara never to sing again! All those charming canzonettas, those astonishing arias, those ravishing romances, which flowed from her lips like honey-brooks, are they silenced for ever?Shall we never hear from her again those tender agnuses, those sweet benedictuses? Oh ! oh! -never hear again those magnificent misereres, which refined the soul from terrestrial ideas, and inspired everybody with chromatic themes? Doctor, doctor, you surely deceive me! The organist of the cathedral, who hates me ever since I composed that qui tollis for eight voices, which ravished the whole universe, has bribed you to destroy me! He wishes to drive me to despair; to prevent me from finishing the mass I am about; but he shall not succeed. I have here (he clapped his pocket) Clara's solos, and to-morrow the dear child shall sing them, con amore.'

The chapel-master put on his hat, and would have gone out, but the doctor held him fast by the coat-tail, and said with mildness, “I honour your enthusiasm, my worthy friend, but, really, I exaggerate not; and as for the organist of the cathedral, I know nothing about him. Since the day on which Clara sang the solos in the gloria and the credo, she has experienced a loss of voice which quite defies my skill, and makes me fear, as I told you before, that she will never sing again.'

• Very well,' said the chapel-master, as if resigned to his No. 93.



despair, ‘very well! Then give her laudanum,-laudanum,-and continue to give her laudanum until an easy death finishes her. If Clara cannot sing again, she will not wish to live; she lives to sing; she exists in singing. Dear doctor, oblige me thus far; poison her quickly. I have acquaintances in the criminal college; I studied at Halle with the president; he has an excellent heart. You need not fear anything; I swear you need not; but poison her, I beg of you, my good doctor!'

• When people have arrived at a certain age,' said the doctor, when they have worn powder during many years, they ought not to talk in this manner about murder and poisoning; they ought rather to sit quietly in their arm-chair, and listen with patience to their medical adviser.'

Well, so I will,' said the chapel-måster, in a lamentable tone; ‘I will listen to what you have to say.'

• There is,' continued the doctor, ‘in Clara's case, something so strange, that I might almost be allowed to term it marvellous. She speaks freely; she has not even the signs of a common sore throat; she is, as far as I am able to judge, quite in a fit state to produce a musical tone; yet, as soon as she endeavours to sing, the sound is stifled, or else comes out low and hoarse. This negative state of illness mocks my skill. The enemy I combat escapes like a spectre. You certainly had reason to say that Clara exists only in her art, for she frets herself to death at the idea of losing her voice, and that redoubles the evil. I am, to tell the truth, inclined to believe that her malady is more mental than bodily.

• You are right, doctor,' said a third interlocutor, who sat in a corner, with crossed arms; you are right, doctor; you have struck the right note; Clara’s illness is the physical repercussion of a mental impression; and not less dangerous on that account. I, alone, gentlemen, can explain it all to you.'

• Then pray do,' said the chapel-master, in a very dolorous voice. The doctor approached his chair towards the new speaker, and looked at him with a satirical smile; but the dialogist took no notice either of him or of the chapel-master, and raising his eyes to the ceiling, said:

'I once saw, chapel-master, a pretty painted little butterfly a prisoner under the wires of your grand pianoforte. The little insect fluttered from side to side, beating them with its wings, and producing sounds infinitely sweet, just perceptible to a tympanum exquisitely fine. As the delicate insect appeared voluptuously borne along by the harmonic undulations, it happened that now and then a string, touched ruder, struck, as if irritated, the joyous butterfly, whose brilliant colours were scattered into diamond dust; but it fluttered gaily, until, at last, wounded more and more by the strings, it fell lifeless upon the sounding board; the sweet sounds which intoxicated it playing its requiem.

« VorigeDoorgaan »