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ON THE PORTRAIT
THE LADY DOROTHY NEVILL.
BY CHARLES HOWARD.
How swiftly, here, are loving friends contented !
How lightly eager suitors satisfied !
And bristling rivals bidden cease to chide !
-Because they have no reason !
O lady! were the biped folk unfeathered
Who flock around you for your notice here,
What brawls stirred up for all the town to hear !
Look but on birds with favour !
For bitter, bitter, is the lone heart-weeping
Of eager wooer who must woo in vain ! For weary, weary, is the noon-day creeping
Of sunny hours whose brightness shows but pain ! — And (even when pictured) who may look upon you,
Nor wish that he had won you ?
* For though my nature rarely yields
To that vague fear implied in death,
Nor shudders at the gulfs beneath,
Yet oft, when sundown skirts the moor,
An inner trouble I behold
A spectral doubt which makes me cold.
Come then, pure hands, and hear the head
That sleeps, or wears the mask of sleep ;
And come, whatever loves to weep,
My name is Martin Brown. I am now an old man, but age has not dimmed my recognition of modern progress, or clouded my love of the beautiful in nature. I do not look back with regrets to the past, or forward with forebodings to the future, but encourage a high and holy faith that the world is busy in working out a great and an immortal destiny, and that every year added to our existence ought also to add to our relish and appreciation of what human genius is creating. I am even content, sometimes, to learn humbly from my grandchildren, and very often to think that they are in the right whenever their sentiments and feelings come into collision with my own. My young folks maintain that modern poetry and modern wit immeasurably transcend what delighted our ancestors; and though we may have lost the secrets of some curious arts, we of the present day are unapproachable in the power of
exhibiting and fixing the prismatic hues of thought and life. It may be so; for I find myself looking with a very indulgent eye upon the world, and thinking it “a very good sort of world, after all.” The nearer I approach that future home to which we are all travelling, the more does its beneficent light hallow my perceptions, cheer my path, and brighten my passage to the tomb. This state of belief and content is, however, quite the product of recent times. In my youth I harboured a morose and gloomy creed, which allowed me no rest and no hope; I spent my days in sadness and my nights in trembling; I quailed before my own fancies and visions; I prognosticated the speedy destruction of this beautiful world, “and all that it inhabit ;" I considered merriment as profanity, and a jest as an insult to human reason. My purpose in living appeared to be to cover the earth with a pall, and to marshal my thoughts as its funeral procession. Nevertheless I did not sit down in apathy and despair ; I was full of enthusiasm, and I determined to act in the dark and moody cause which clung to my heart and brain. I took the holy book whose meaning I had thus perverted, and went forth to propound my sad interpretation of its revealings.
One day I rang the bell of my study: my man attended to the summons.
“Blake," said I, and I did not look him in the face as I spoke, “I have made up my mind to wander from home for a week. Saddle my favourite black mare, and do not let my friends be impertinently curious about my destination; and, Blake, do not forget to give the mare a good feed, poor thing!”
“Will you take anything yourself, sir ?”
Thus earnest, confident, and unprepared, I betook myself zealously to my new and self-imposed calling. Nature was just