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pathetical, as in my humble judgment no poet, except Shakspeare, has excelled."

Talbot. I cannot tolerate a critic who speaks of his “humble judgment.” Critics generally are not a humble race; and Mr. Croker, in particular, gives no evidence of humility in his literary verdicts. A “humble judgment," indeed, which leads him to place Crabbe, for sundry high qualifications, on almost the same pedestal with Shakspeare! The poet of "The Borough " is too good a poet to be subject to the sneer which is involuntarily suggested by such a comparison.

HARTLEY. Crabbe's descriptions of scenery, like most of his character-sketches, are extremely natural; but, being like Nature when she puts on her most homely features, they are for the most part uninteresting, if not unpleasant. He paints all the objects which appear before his eye, and seems to be most at home in scenes of flatness and desolation, trackless moors, slimy marshes, gloomy sea-coasts with barren and unpicturesque cliffs ; and portrays, with apparent pleasure, all those objects which tend to make a miserable scene still more miserable and comfortless. Take, for example, his description of the Borough. Here we have “the squalid sea-dames" who “mend their meshy work" upon the beach, “stakes and sea-weeds withering on the mud," the poor dredger, cold and wet, who has been searching for oysters, and

“ Then drains the remnant of diluted gin,

To aid the warmth that languishes within.”

Half-naked sea-boys dabble on the shore, “the freshfill'd limekilns breathe their stifling smoke," sewers from streets “ defile the road-side banks,” fences made of wreck and tipped with tenters form “a strong repulsive bound," the village ale-house is “a tippling rendezvous,' and the drunken sailor staggering home completes the wretchedness of the picture. This eternal iteration of gloomy images may prove merry reading to a parish overseer or undertaker; but the non-professional mind cannot appreciate such an amusement. This world is, no doubt, full to overflowing of unnumbered miseries; but it has also its gardens and picture galleries, its dances and love-making, lively music and wholesome wine, men singers and women singers, birds of beauty and of song, flowers for colour and scent, the merry prattle of children, the sweet voices and careless laughter of girls. And it has, too, something better than all this; brave hearts struggling with adversity, and coming out of the conflict victors; men and women living for duty and for God, inured to self-sacrifice, forgetful of themselves if only they may minister to others; students who love learning for learning's sake, caring less for the prizes she offers than for the wisdom she bestows; young children wise in the school of Christ; gray-haired men who, through a long life, with “honest and good hearts," have served their Master in Heaven, and have found the yoke easy and the burden light. The poet, like the sun-flower, should look towards the sun ; Crabbe was too prone to turn from it into dark and gloomy places. No doubt it is well to search these noisome haunts sometimes; but it is not well to linger in them. The study of Helminthology may be a useful and interesting pursuit; but who, even for the high purposes of science-unless he were

an

enthusiast like Dr. Müller-would care to devote his days and nights to so loathsome a subject. The naturalist may be glad to observe the habits and instincts of " the slimy things" that crawl about in our marshes and ponds; he may find amusement and will gain knowledge from studying the organization of insect and reptile life; yet who but a Blackwall would willingly devote his existence to the investigation of spiders?

Stanley. As a man's knowledge grows the more absorbed he will be in his pursuit, whatever that pursuit may be. A sharply-defined object of study is a blessing to be prayed for ; and I can appreciate the scientific enthusiasm which seeks a vent in the study of spiders or of parasites. But

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TALBOT. It calls up the shepherd, but summons us to bed. I will turn in, like a sailor, for a two hours' nap, and then remove all drowsiness by a sea-bath.

HARTLEY. So brief a bout will not suit me ; but I shall probably sleep on until eight o'clock, and dream of insects and crustacea.

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CHAPTER XI.

But time, irrevocable time, is flown ;
And let us utter thanks for blessings sown
And reap'd—what hath been, and what is our own.

WORDSWORTH.

Two or three days passed by after the conversation just recorded before we met together again in HARTLEY'S library. When we did meet rural poetry gave place in large measure to familiar intercourse and easy chit-chat ; for this was our last evening at Lynton. HARTLEY, it will be remembered, had promised to give us, in succinct form, his views of Mrs. Barrett Browning's poetry; and, upon my starting the subject, he drew forth a manuscript from his pocket, and, having requested our permission to do so, read the following essay :

66 On the 29th of June, 1861, died, at Florence, one of the chief poets of modern times, and the greatest female poet of any age or country. The announcement of Mrs. Barrett Browning's death appeared in The Times among the other notifications which are daily inserted therein for a consideration ;' but the leading journal of our country paid no tribute to the genius of this illustrious lady, nor even recognized by the insertion of a paragraph

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from other papers, the service she has rendered to English literature. I noted at the time another peculiarity, which is, perhaps, illustrative of the age; namely, the `lack of tributary verses to Mrs. Browning's memory. The Damons and Corydons who sang or chirped on such occasions in the olden time were altogether mute. Better, indeed, that it should be so, if such elegies gave expression to a meretricious sorrow; but the emotion called forth by the death of so true a poet might, one would imagine, have found honest vent in a poetical In Memoriam. I dare believe that by hundreds of her countrymen Mrs. Browning's death was felt almost as a personal bereavement; and I am only expressing feebly, what I and many besides me feel strongly, that the loss of this noble poet, in the full flush of her fame and genius, is especially to be deplored at a time when in the world of poetry so much that is pinchbeck passes current for genuine metal.

“ It is impossible, perhaps it is not desirable, when reading a woman's works, to forget entirely the sex of the writer. Women are dearer to men as women than as artists. Intensely as we may admire the intellectual power of a large-brained woman,' we care more, and we ought to care more, for those attributes which are essentially feminine. Imagine, if that be possible, that the Merry Wives of Windsor,' or 'King Henry the Fourth,' had been conceived by a female dramatist, and say if any words can express too strongly the strange revulsion of feeling with which we should peruse them ? Indeed, although every poet's life should be, as Milton declared, a true poem, it seems especially needful that the

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