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Old Charon's self shall make him mellow,
The charming stanzas with which I conclude my extracts form part of a poem written to illustrate an engraving in Finden's Tableaux; one of the many kindnesses which I owe to Mr. Kenyon. It would be difficult to find verse more melodious, or more pure.
THE SHRINE OF THE VIRGIN.
Who knows not, fair Sicilian land!
Yes! Tand thou wert of fruits and flowers,
By Jove made glad with suns and showers,
Yon temple's old foundation stone;
Sublimest wisdom deigns to dwell.
* The present cathedral of Syracuse was formerly a temple of Minerva.
And where, within some deep shy wood, And seen but half through curving bough, In silent marble Dian stood,
Behold! a holier Virgin now
Hath sanctified the solitude;
And thou, meek Mary-Mother! thou
The devious pilgrim, far beguiled,
And bowed in heart, not less than deed,
There, while his secret soul he bares,
That lonely altar bending by,
The traveller passing unawares,
Shall stay his step, but not too nigh,
Albeit the creed he may deny,
Thy shrines are lovely, wheresoe'er,
Green tendrilled plants, in many a ring
As if it came that brow to greet,
I love the ever-open door
That welcomes to the house of God!
Free as the pathway or the sod,
Whence journeying pilgrim, mid broad air,
I wish more people would write such lucid and melodious verse; but I have a suspicion that amongst the many who call themselves poets, there are very few indeed who can.
FROM Bath we proceeded to Bristol, or rather to Clifton, traversing the tunnels this time with as gay a confidence as I should do now. Of Bath, its buildings and its scenery, I had heard much good; of Bristol, its dirt, its dinginess, and its ugliness, much evil. Shall I confess-dare I confess-that I was charmed with the old city? The tall, narrow, picturesque dwellings with their quaint gables; the wooden houses in Wine Street, one of which was brought from Holland bodily, that is to say, in readymade bits, wanting only to be put together; the courts and lanes climbing like ladders up the steep acclivities; the hanging-gardens, said to have been given by Queen Elizabeth to the washerwomen (everything has a tradition in Bristol); the bustling quays; the crowded docks; the calm, silent, Dowry Parade (I have my own reasons for loving Dowry Parade), with its trees growing up between the pavement like the close of a cathedral; the Avon flowing between those two exquisite boundaries, the richly-tufted Leigh
Woods clothing the steep hill side, and the grand and lofty St. Vincent's Rocks, with houses perched upon the summits that looked ready to fall upon our heads; the airy line of the chain that swung from tower to tower of the intended suspension-bridge, with its basket hanging in mid air like the car of a balloon, making one dizzy to look at it; formed an enchanting picture. I know nothing in English landscape so lovely or so striking as that bit of the Avon beyond the Hot Wells, especially when the tide is in, the ferry-boat crossing, and some fine American ship steaming up the river.
As to Clifton, I suspect that my opinions were a little heretical in that quarter also; for I could not help wishing the houses away (not the inhabitantsthat would have been too ungrateful), and the wide open downs restored to their primæval space and airiness. How delightful must the Hot Wells have been then! and how much greater the chance of recovery for invalids, who could add the temptation of such a spot for rides and drives to the salubrity of the waters!
I had an hereditary interest in the Hot Wells; my own mother having accompanied her only brother thither to die. It was one of the brief romances which, under different forms, most families probably could tell a young man of the highest promise, a Fellow of Oriel, as his father had been before him, and just entered of Lincoln's Inn, who galloped to Reading after dark to dance with a county beauty, and returned the same way the moment the ball was ended. He had offered his hand, for more than the evening, to the lady of his love, and had been ac