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SPECIMEN OF BYRON'S VERSE.

391

A.D.

He died on the 19th of April 1824; and three days later, his turbulent Suliotes gathered, pale and tearful, round his coffin, to hear the funeral service read. The body of 1824 the poet was carried to England, and interred in the family vault at Hucknall, near Newstead.

The Prisoner of Chillon, a sweetly mournful sketch written at Geneva; The Lament of Tasso; The Prophecy of Dante; Beppo, a light tale of Venetian life; Mazeppa; and the terrible Vision of Judgment, written in mockery of a like-titled poem by Southey, with whom he had a deadly feud, complete the list of Byron's more important works.

ADDRESS TO THE OCEAN.

(FROM "CHILDE HAROLD.")

ROLL on, thou deep and dark-blue ocean-roll !
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin-his contro]
Stops with the shore; upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,

He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan-
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.

His steps are not upon thy paths—thy fields
Are not a spoil for bim-thou dost arise
And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields
For earth's destruction thou dost all despise,
Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,
And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray
And howling to his gods, where haply lies

His petty hope in some near port or bay,
And dashest him again to earth :-there let him lay.

The armaments, which thunder-strike the walls
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake
And monarchs tremble in their capitals ;
The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make
Their clay creator the vain title take
Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war :
These are thy toys, and as the snowy flake,

They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar
Alike the Armada's pride, and spoils of Trafalgar.

392

SPECIMEN OF BYRON'S VERSE.

Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee.
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage—what are they?
Thy waters wasted them while they were free,
And many a tyrant since; their shores obey
The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay
Has dried up realms to deserts;—not so thou,
Unchangeable save to thy wild waves' play-

Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow-
Such as Creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.

Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
Calm or convulsed-in breeze, or gale, or storm-
Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime
Dark-heaving, boundless, endless, and sublime-
The image of Eternity—the throne
Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime

The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone,

And I have loved thee, Ocean ! and my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubbles, onward; from a boy
I wantoned with thy breakers—they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
Made them a terror—'twas a pleasing fear;
For I was as it were a child of thee,

And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane--as I do here.

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“NATURE's sternest painter, yet the best," wrote Lord Byron of the poet Crabbe. It was a just and generous compliment, deriving additional value from the brilliance of the pen that traced the words.

Well might George Crabbe be a painter of stern and gloomy scenes, for with these he had been familiar from earliest childhood. His first recollections were of a flat and ugly coast, bordered with slimy rock-pools, washed by discoloured waves, and tenanted only by a race of wild, amphibious, weather-beaten men, who, for the most part, added to their lawful calling as fishermen the yet more hazardous occupation of the smuggler. Such was the scenery, and such were the people round Aldborough in Suffolk, where in 1754 he was born. His father, the salt-master or collector of salt duties in that little town, treated his 1754 Bon George, as he seems to have treated everybody else, with considerable harshness. But the boy had early found a consolation for the passing griefs of childhood. He used to cut out for his private reading the occasional verses of a periodical, for which his father subscribed. Over and over again the treasured scraps were conned, until the happy owner began to imitate their simple music.

The life of Crabbe, before settling down into the quietude of à rural parish, presents pleasant and painful scenes. The boy of fourteen, who had already got some grounding in classics and mathematics, was apprenticed to a surgeon at Wickham Brook,

A.D.

394

SEEKING FASE IN LONDON. near Bury St. Edmunds. Here he met with such ill-treatment, that it was thought right to remove him to another master, at Woodbridge in his native shire. Secretly, amid all discouragements and sorrows, the young poet, even when he was rolling pills or grinding nauseous drugs in a mortar, had been cultivating his new-found talent for making verses. In the house of his hard taskmaster he had filled a drawer with poetry." And, while - at Woodbridge, he won a prize for a poem on Hops, which was proposed by the proprietor of a certain magazine. The success of this Inaiden effort sealed the future fate of Crabbe. Thenceforward for life he was a poet; and in a short time, after a brave attempt to establish himself in his profession at Aldborough, he was drawn by an irresistible magnetism into the then perilous struggles of literary life in London.

This is the strangest period of his story. An apothecary's shopman and a country clergyman have nothing wonderful about their daily lives. But there is often a romance about the career of a literary adventurer, especially during his earlier struggles, which possesses a remarkable fascination. Even the first step Crabbe took towards getting to London was original and odd. He had no money. He sat down and wrote a letter, asking the loan of five pounds from Mr. Dudley North, whose brother had once contested the town of Aldborough at an election. The money came. A sloop bound for London was in the harbour, and soon the exsurgeon stood in the solitude of those busy streets.

There he went through the old routine of hard work and bitter rejection, in the midst of which so many earnest, hopeful hearts have failed and broken. His poems were refused; a publisher, to whom he had intrusted the issuing of a work on his own account, failed; his money was nearly gone; and want ståred him in the face. Just at this crisis he thought of his letter to North and the cordial reply. At once acting on the recollection, he wrote, enclosing poems, to the Prime Minister, the Lord Chancellor, and others No answer came. He would try the great Edmund Burke. With a beating heart he knocked at the statesman's door one night, handed in a letter, and then went in pitiable agitation to walk to

PUBLICATION OF “THE VILLAGE.” 395

and fro on Westminster Bridge, till the lamps went out along the river, and the red dawn began to glimmer in the east. Burke's kindness was prompt and real. Appointing a time for Crabbe to call, he looked over the manuscripts; picked out two, The Library and The Village; good-naturedly pointed out some passages in need of change; and, better than all, took the works to Dodsley's shop and recommended them to that eminent bookseller. Going further still, he brought the poet out to Beaconsfield, where he introduced him to some of the first men of the day. The tide had turned, and thenceforward there was no struggle in the peaceful life of Crabbe. In 1781 The Library was published. Lord Chancellor Thurlow became his friend, though tardily. At Burke's suggestion the poet qualified himself for entering the Church, and was ordained in the August of 1782. The quondam surgeon went back to Aldborough as curate of the parish, with every prospect of competence and fame. His good friend Burke did not forget the struggler he had saved from want, or worse than want. The statesman's influence having obtained for him the domestic chaplaincy in the household of the Duke of Rutland, he exchanged Aldborough parsonage for Belvoir Castle. Then appeared in 1783 The Village, the revisal of which was among the last works of Dr. John- 1783 son's toilsome life; and so decided was the success of A.D. the poem, that its publication may be regarded as the seal of George Crabbe's fame. Presented by Thurlow with two small livings in Dorsetshire, the successful poet married without delay that gentle Suffolk girl who had waited for him so long. The quiet current of his days then flowed on without any striking change or remarkable sorrow, except the gentle regrets of moving occasionally from one parish to another, and that one darkest cloud of his life, the loss of his affectionate wife. In 1785 he published The Wewspaper; and then his name was not seen in the publishers' lists for two-and-twenty years. The flowers, insects, and rocks of his parish, wherever he might be, engaged much of his studious love. With his sons, whom he taught at home, he read French and

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