« AnteriorContinua »
smiles of his wife: the flattered attendant on the crowned one" feels he should, in his proper sphere, be more at ease; he sighs for the former days he joyfully spent in retirement: the poor outcast, begging his bread from door to door, often wishes he were a monarch; and this principle of not being satisfied with our condition in no way ameliorates our sorrows or our state; nor does it heighten joys: it feeds the flame of discontentit adds evil to evil.
Now, he who can curb this wildness of the heart-can check its improper desires, and hold it in perfect submission presents us an example worthy of imitation. Such a one, I think, may be found in Kirke White: a serious perusal of his “ Solitude," a poem fraught with feeling, has led me to this conclusion. That no regard for the station he occupied in life was his—that no undue pain made him lament he was not a sharer of the smiles of patronage, with wealth on its side, is
evident: it was no vexation for hopes laid low-for expectations never realised ; it was not anguish for frustrated plans or schemes to promote his welfare, thwarted by the interposition of malice or envy. What
That bids this silent tear to flow;
It is that I am all alone." Not only had Kirke White softened the wild aspirations of his heart, and subdued its too ardent expectations, but he appears to have so guided it, that it was influenced by the most sympathetic and kindly feelings. We may picture the “martyr student,” with his pale brow, and cheek faintly relieved by the deceitful hectic, with his slow and steady pace rambling through the woods, or down the shady lane; his eye eagerly scanning the commingled beauties around him, made still more enchanting from the sunset. How joyed his mind to hold sweet communion with Nature! It was then revelling in its own peculiar sphere, feasting on things whose origin was immediately from heaven, and garnering from alleven from the wild weed—some morality, rendered more impressive from the simplicity of the source that conveyed it.
“ In woods and glens I love to roam,
When the tired hedger hies him home ;
And sighs that it is all alone.” The gentlest susceptibilities, the tenderest emotions, must have thrilled in his bosom-every spring of love and affection must have been in unison. The tale of pity must have agonised it and gained commiseration-the cry of sadness must have caused it pain, and drawn the tear from its crystal cell, to sympathise with the sufferer. The heart must
have been baptized in feeling's holy flow, or it could never have given forth such pathetic strains as
" The autumn leaf is sear and dead,
It floats upon the water's bed :
Without recording sorrow's sigh.” These lines confirm all, and strengthen my assertions. They reveal to the “mind's eye” of the writer, the history of one now laid beneath the sod of his native churchyard. Once—when I first knew him-he was a young and ardent lover of poesy; eagerly he perused every book the votaries of the Muses cast upon the public tide ; the morning sun and the evening star found him alike devoting his time after his favourite
Nothing pleased him more than to leave the haunts of menthe busy mart, and noisy town—and saunter leisurely through fields all bright with flowers and rich in songs: the charms expanding on all sides were to him pages of lore he used to ponder over. Tired of his ramble, he would stretch himself beneath some verdant shrub, and resting, with the aromatic wild thyme blossoming around his head, would ruminate on men and things. Keenly he understood the beautiful in nature, and everything that stood in rich sublimity : the wood-lark's note, the opening bud, the silver clouds, were to him sources of unfeigned delight and joy. Alas! Time blights the fairest and the best; Death culls his victims without any distinction; he neither
and smiling, nor the aged and the trembling-neither the wise and gifted, nor the unlearned and the poor. Disease seized the body, and consumption made sad havoc on his frame; but although the eye was dimmed, the cheek turned pallid, and the sufferer wasted and tortured on the thorny couch of sickness, yet the mind was in no way enervated; all its aspirations beat as warmly as when health decked the brow; all its relish for poesy and mental blossoms was as keen as ever. The pangs of the frame-the struggles of disease, and the long hours of suffering, were often abated by his being indulged with some kind friend's reading to him a favourite volume; and many strikingly pathetic poems from his own pen, written in his distress, alleviated in a great measure his bitter lot. At length the summons came, and Adolphus, my friend, was freed from the chains of earth, to share, I trust, the realms of the blest. Many a tear has been shed over his grave by Friendship, and his memory is now renewed, for continually on his lips were the lines last quoted :
“I would not be a leaf, to die
Without recording sorrow's sigh." May we not with much truth assume that such as has been described was the temperament of Kirke White? the general tone of all his writings seems to corroborate this idea.
" The woods and winds with sudden wail
Tell all the same unvaried tale ;
Here, then, we learn that Nature's page was the one great source of instruction to the youthful poet : his contemplation and study convinced him all was doomed to perish : the leaves strewing the woodpath told him everything should fade; and the plaintive breeze, gathering the lament, wafted it onwards : it re-echoed the lamentations and sighs of the moralist.
Surely his must be a heart seldom influenced by kindly motives or skilled in the “ diviner lore," that can behold the setting sun, the fading blossom, and the withered leaf, and not gather from them the lessons they were intended to convey. Wisely were they designed to improve us—to convince us, that we are not to place too strong a contidence in present existing circumstances; but to glean from Nature's movements the moralities and truths the “living page” on all sides displays.
What a beautiful and heartfelt lament is that contained in the concluding lines of the stanza, last given! The good feelings and beatings the promptings and inclinations of his heart—are there most delightfully set forth. How striking is the contrast they bear, when we remember the misanthropic lines of Byron, in “ Childe Harold's Farewell Song !"
« Oh why should I for others sigh,
Since none will sigh for me?" We
e are compelled to admire the character of Kirke White, and to deplore the early departure of so bright a star from the firmament. The accompanying extract is from his own pen :-“I imagine myself placed upon an eminence above the crowds who pant below in the dusty tracks of wealth and honours. The black catalogue of crimes and of vice-the sad tissue of wretchedness and woe-passes in review before me; and I look down upon men with an eye of pity and commiseration. Though the scenes which I survey be mournful, and the ideas they excite equally sombre ;—though the tears gush as I contemplate them, and my heart feels heavy with the sorrowful emotions which they inspire ;-yet are they not unaccompanied with sensations of the purest and most ecstatic bliss." These are sentiments that do honour to human nature-that solicit profound admiration, and mark him, whose conduct is thus actuated, as a true philosopher and a philanthropist. A proof that Kirke White did not possess a depraved imagination—that source of sorrow and evil—is very evident, from a mature consideration of the concluding stanza of “ Solitude.” Fancy lent to his meditations her pleasing charnis; but an undue intercourse with her ideal beauties was not indulged in. He seems to have been perfect master of his heart, and to have most wisely regulated his actions.
“ Yet in my dreams a form I view
That thinks on me, and loves me too :-
I weep that I am all alone."
observing the soft melancholic strain that pervades it;-tenderness and sentiment are most conspicuous :-these show the state and general tone the full bearing of the author's mind : they force themselves so irresistibly upon our view, that we are not permitted to escape considering their charms. It will, I feel assured, be vain to think the herd of mankind can discover in the poem anything more attractive than usual ;—they have blunted feelings and unsympathising bosoms. The poet has not one view in common with the world; his ideas are only felt by the fraternity, by his fellow-worshippers of the Muses : thus, then it is, the hidden beauties of “Solitude” present themselves to my notice; and I hope not to mine only, but to that of others. Should this poor explanation arouse in the breast of any, a sense of love either for Kirke White or the writer, the time devoted to penning the article will not have been unproductive of good, inasmuch as it will have kindled sympathy for the “Child of Song."
CHAMOUNI AT SUNRISE. *
BY JOHN HOWDEN, B. A.
“ Aus tiefem Schatten des schweigenden Fannenhains."
From out the silent fir-grove's shady depth,
Say, who sank
Say, who marks out
It whispers in the rippling silver streams!
+ Wogentümmel, wave dizziness, or tumult of waves. # Lavinendonner.
(THE BIRTH-PLACE OF BISHOP HORNE.) The biography of our parish churches includes and contributes the brightest light that illumines the pages of English history. Their foundations record an act either of reverential piety, or unbounded liberality, their preservation, on which the continuity of our established state religion partially depends, marks the prevalence through ages of a lively faith,--and the monuments that cover their walls, and floors their aisles, perpetuate, in long-enduring characters, the private virtues and the public achievements of the good and great in times gone past. There is not a more instructive history in existence than the ice-cold ais of Westminster Abbey. There, the creature of to-day, can be admitted to the society of the heroes, scholars, martyrs, and even monarchs, of ages different from his own, and from each other; and there he cannot fail to feel the silent reputation of those great benefactors of his race, the model of whose lives he has been unable to imitate. Painting, we are told, leaves an impression more indelible than reading or reflection; but to us the artist's stratagem is so much more obvious than in sculpture, that we have always given the prize to the statuary. We do not certainly imagine that resuscitated beings surround us, when we pause in Westminster's long-drawn aisles, and gaze upon the reflecting