« AnteriorContinuar »
the intermittent cannons, the windows and balconies breathing with all the beauty of Paris, presented a striking and a memorable contrast of motion and stillness, of life and of death.
No one dared to assume the sceptre of power which Mirabeau had left behind him. His greatest enemies were the most embarrassed; and the eyes of all mechanically fixed themselves in deep abstraction on the vacant seat of him who had so often risen from thence to illumine and to direct their counsels.
Tu vero felix, Mirabilis, non vitæ tantum claritate, sed etiam opportunitate mortis. Nam tibi aut pro virtute animi, constantiaque tua, civilis febri subeunda fuit crudelitas, aut siqua te fortuna ab atrocitate mortis vindicavit, eadem esse te funereum patriæ spectatorem coegisset ; neque solum tibi improborum dominatus, sed etiam propter admistam civium cædem, bonorum victoria moerori fuisset.
Me dulcis dominæ Musa Lycimniæ
Now, listen to the Lady's minstrelsy!)
he sings; and Music is an airy God Who crowns her alabaster temples broad With flowers, as though the enchanted blood run mad In its fine channels, and with brcathing blue Coloured each panting pulse and artery. Look! her rich cheek is flush'd, and her proud eye, Throws strange illuminations far and near! She sings—divine one! Oh! not all the sounds ) Of morning, whereof idling poets rave, Can match her perfect and aerial song. She sings—“Love, Love !" softer than passion sigheth ; Now absence' and the conquer'd • maiden's shame;' And now 'tis “ Him who soars on golden wing,”Telling how the night-charming Philomel, Whose voice goes wandering like a summer wind, Threading the forest, 'smoothed the rugged brow Of Darkness' and the cloud-entangled Moon Lured, till she walked abroad on the blue roads Of Heaven, unfettered, like a virgin pale.
All happened as the old man had foretold. In the morning the guards entered the prison of Narenor, and seeing, as they thought, no one but a harmless idiot, they cried out that the wretch-the sorcerer, who could make bad money look like true coin, had evaporated through the key-hole, and had left this poor mis-shapen, dwarf in his place. So he was set free immediately, with many acclamations. Once more Narenor returned to the Schelwer forest.
How peaceful every thing appeared, contrasted with the scenes, through which he had lately passed! It was morning, when he wound along the margin of the small lake, which embosomed its quiet depth in trees, about three miles distant from his cottage. A hill, covered with brushwood, rose at once from the reedy shore of the lake, and its shadow descended far into the water with all the clearness of reality. The light, thus intercepted over the greater part of the lake, gleamed magically from behind the shadow of the hill; and (as a poet has expressed it)
-Fairer than all the scene
Than all that colder Truth, or Reason can impart !" On one side of the lake, a rocky bank left just sufficient space for a narrow weedy path between it and the water. Every where else was the impenetrable forest.
I suppose that every one has felt the exhilarating effect of the early morning air-yes, every one--for the fine lady has felt it in coming home from a ball
, just as much as the peasant in going out to his work. But to a person of susceptible frame (prompt in replying to the outward impulses of nature) the cool invigorating oxygen of the morning air conveys positively a new sense of existence. Every sound comes more sweetly upon the ear--every object is presented more vividly to the eye--and (were I not afraid of growing less poetical, I should say, every smell (fragrant, of course) is wafted more freshly, more dewily, to the nose. How very odd it is that nose should not do in poetry as well as ear. There are equally base associations connected with both. A nose may be pulled, but an ear may be lost in the pillory. A nose but I forbear. To return.
Narenor felt this intoxication of the morning air-so far above all that sparkling champagne (well enough in its way) or rubycoloured claret can produce-(which puts me in mind that I must
VOL. III. PART I.
quote a noble passage, to this effect, in by far the best dramatic composition of the present day-John Woodvil, a tragedy by Charles Lamb: most strangely neglected by this acute generation of critics.
“Lovel.-I marvel why the poets, who, of all men, methinks, should possess the hottest livers, and most empyreal fancies, should affect to see such virtues in cold water.
" John.-Because your poet-born hath an internal wine, richer than lippara, or canaries, yet uncrushed from any grapes of earth, unpressed in mortal wine-presses.
“ Lovel. What may be the name of this wine ?
"John. It hath as many names as qualities. It is denominated indifferently, wit, conceit, invention, inspiration ; but its most royal and comprehensive name is Fancy.
" Lovel. And where keeps he this sovereign liquor ?
" John.--Its cellars are in the brain, whence your true poet deriveth intoxication at will ; while his animal spirits, catching a pride (from the quality and neighbourhood of their noble relative, the brain, refuse to be sustained by wines, and fermentations of earth.
“Lovel.-But is your poet-born always tipsey with this liquor?
" John.-He hath his stoopings and reposings; but his proper element is the sky, and in the suburbs of the empyrean.
“ Lovel.-Is your wine intellectual so exquisite ?" Drunk with this wine-intellectual, Narenor forgot the past, and no longer anticipated the future. He felt that independent, undivided happiness, which is so rare in life—rare indeed as a day without a cloud in the natural world, is an hour of cloudless atmo sphere in the intellectual existence. Then (like Mrs. Ratcliffe's heroines) he began to compose-no“ his feelings found vent in”
the following--two lines, which were meant for the beginning of a sonnet
“ Youth, health, and morning, ye are things to make
The heart of man bound high with ecstasy!" Here his ideas failed, because happiness has few ideas. It is rather a sensation.
“ And why not (thus communed he with himself) make unto myself an endurable and daily happiness out of these simple elements? Why should not the rocks, the trees, the waters, the air, the sky, the sun, and the answer to these in my own heart, suffice for pleasure ?
So mused Narenor as he slowly proceeded along the unfrequented, overgrown path, that conducted to his cottage. Presently he heard a short, quick cry of canine pleasure, and a poor wretched skeleton of a dog flew to his feet, sprung up almost to a level with his face,—then grovelled again upon the ground, inviting, imploring the caress of his master's hand. 56 Poor Orra, thou odd shaggy creature, thou shambling, scrambling, illmannered, ill-gaited animal, so regardless of all the conveniences, and bienséances of society, how hast thou contrived to shuffle on with existence, in thy master's absence? Well, Orra, there is a a living being to welcome me, on my return home-so I will call it home. Certes, thou art not beautiful; the meeter comrade for me; poor dog! Come, and we will be laughed at, spurred at, and scouted together!" The dog looked at him with very human eyes, as if comprehending all that was said, and, still whining with uneasy joy, ran before him to the cottage. There every thing looked as it did, on the morning of his last departure. The white embers were yet unscattered on the hearth. A book, open at a particular page, lay on the old oak table with three claws, as if he had just risen from its perusal.“ No, I have never been away! (he exclaimed) It is all a dream. Surely I have walked into the forest and slept! And yet I could write a journal of four months : on such a day rode into the country--on such a day, played at tennis--on such another, attended lady Leonora on the promenade. But it is all past, past, past.”
Narenor was really very happy for some days. A man, who has been just going to be hanged, and has escaped so little-pleasing a ceremony, has reason to be so. He pursued his occupation as a wood-cutter, and rambled to all the most coy recesses of the forest. He tried to draw his pleasures from the simplest source of common nature-but then he read still; and still he found that
Knowledge is sorrow, they who know the most,
The tree of knowledge is not that of life.” The worst of it is that he was not meant to be a Timon. His heart was full of human feelings, and though he said to his dog, twenty times a day, “ Orra, I want no other companion, than thee !” he was not at all the less pining after a reasoning speechendued being. Then came the long, long winter-evenings. 6 I must have some one to speak to, or I shall forget how to speak,” was the thought that passed through his mind at length; and“ so his whole heart exhaled into one want."
One day he saw a very beautiful child asleep in the forest. The little fellow had wandered away from home in search of wild flowers, and there he lay, with thick auburn curls peeping through the ragged hat, the glowing cheek pillowed on the naked chubby arm, while even in sleep he tightly grasped his treasurean enormous bunch of spring-flowers. Now if even this child could love me,” thought Narenor. Gently he lifted up the boy, and kissed his smooth fair forehead. The child, awaking, and seeing a face so hideous in such close contact with his own, set up a roar as
loud as the stoutest pair of lungs could enable him to execute, and began to kick, scratch, and cuff most manfully. At this unlucky moment the mother, guided by the well-known sounds, came up to the scene of action. “ Monster, thou hast bewitched my child ! Set him down this moment. Don't touch him! Dont look at him! Thou hast an evil eye!" Screamed the enraged parent; at the same time displaying her fingers in a manner that enforced a shrinking of Narenor's face, which had already suffered from the urchin's vigour. Bitter, bitter were his thoughts, as his feet mechanically conveyed him homewards, without the aid of eyesfor all his senses were absorbed in the one distracted feeling, “ I am the outcast of heaven, and earth.” He threw himself on the ground, and a flood of tears convulsed his whole frame.
This past away, and hope, the very last deserter from the fortress of the human heart, began to maintain the siege against despair more vigorously. “ Surely, he thought, if I once more restore my person to a bearable comeliness, I may find, among the gentler sex of my own sphere, a partner of existence, without the fatal aid of wealth, or the adventitious glare of rank.” The transformation was soon effected, and Narenor began to join the village dance, and the wrestlers on the green,
" Where rustic eyes
Raind influence, and adjudged the prize," amidst the envy of the men and the admiration of the maidens. But Narenor was unfortunately too refined to endure the shock and jostle of coarse common natures. He saw, in humble life, the same mean motives and petty passions operating which he had beheld in a higher walk of society—but without the veil, which rendered the latter tolerable. There was one girl, she was certainly very beautiful; Raphael would have chosen her for one of his Madonnas. The same clear brown complexion, with a tint, like that of the pink may-blossom, blushing through it; the same full pouting lips; the same liquid hazel eye. Her figure, too, was fine, though somewhat unformed, (for Francesca was but sixteen,) and, it must be confessed, (unlike those poetical creations, who have always a native, inherent, incommunicable grace,) that there was a slight awkwardness, an uncultivatedness, (if I may be allowed the expression,) in her fine figure. Did this want of cultivation 'extend to the mind ? Narenor, for a time, thought not. Narenor had a vivid imagination.
" Who loves, raves—'tis youth's frenzy—but the cure
Is bitterer still; as charm by charm unwinds,