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1887. Perpetual praise is productive of is the old grievence symbolized in the captious peevishness, to which a good story of Tithonus and Aurora, “immorgrumble is a good antidote.
tal age beside immortal youth,” our dwinM. G. dling age beside the undying youth of
nature. Not, inercifully, that our age is really immortal, but in imagination at least it is nothing less, for when is our
own death ever adequately compassed by From Macmillan's Magazine.
our imagination ? Nay, even when our THE PASSION OF THE PAST.
memory is fading " from all the circle of The source of much of the pathos of the hills," are we not standing by to see poetry, and particularly of the self-con- it fade? And so the poet apostrophizes scious poetry of our own day, is the pas. the autumn fields as happy, because they sionate idealization of what we once had, are yet in possession of their ancient glory but have not, and cannot have any more. which has not waxed old. The golden Herein is the virtue of all the eternal fare- shimmer and the fragrance and the fruitwells and hopeless regrets of literature; fulness are all there, although we are no and we each of us, in an abiding sense of longer in touch with it as once in “ the such loss, carry about a burden of which days that are no more.” we seldom trust ourselves to speak, but which to a great extent qualifies all we Ay mel ay me! with what another heart say. It is the light out of which so many I used to watch — if I be he that watch'd
In days far off, and with what other eyes pathetic colors are made, identical under The lucid outline forming round thee; saw so many different expressions, from Cow- The dim curls kindle into sunny rings; per's lament over his mother's picture, Changed with thy mystic change, and felt my
blood Children not thine have trod thy nursery Glow with the glow that slowly crimson'd all floors,
Thy presence and thy portals. to Lord Tennyson's,
Of course, in many lives some overmasTill year by year our memory fades
tering loss has as it were gathered about From all the circle of the hills.
it all the passion of the past –
With bitter memories to make But never before, I believe, has it won
The whole earth blasted for our sake. so distinct a recognition of its character, as apart from and beyond any special But even here, except in certain supreme loss, as in the laureate's wonderful lines, moments, it is hard to say whether the “ Tears, idle tears.” Here for the first larger rhythm of sorrow does not belong time the passion of the past finds a dis- to that which is gathered rather than to tinct utterance, a voice unmixed with any the special sorrow which gathers it. We specific strain of lamentation. The vari- love, it would seem, the past, if it be in ous images presented of special losses are any sense good, because it is the past. A merely illustrations serving to introduce light has fallen upon it which when presthe “idle tears,” the sorrow which is so ent it had not; an evening light in which large and vague and yet so mysteriously the scene, whilst exquisitely distinct, has intense, within the circle of the imagina- somehow lost all the irksome trivialities tion.
which accompanied its actual presence.
It is invested with Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, Tears from the depth of some divine despair The light that never was on sea or land, Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes, The consecration and the poet's dream. In looking on the happy autumn fields, And thinking of the days that are no more.
Compare, for instance, our memory of some summer wandering with any
faithful It is not merely that we think of certain diary made at the time, and we shall be definite losses with which particular scenes able to realize something of the sort of may be associated. “The happy autumn glamour thrown by loss. Most people
are not simply, as the veteran regard with a tender, and often with an sportsman might surmise, the partridge- intense regret the memory of childhood. haunted stubble, which, in the “days that Here for the most part there is a solid are no more," before gout and rheumatism ground for the pain of loss. We have lost had wrought their wicked will, he had our innocence with all its infinite possibil. quartered so dauntlessly. It is something ities; and we may well sigh over the hapmuch larger and deeper in our nature. It | piness of a time,
When yet I had not walked above is a fair spot in a southern county, an old A mile or two from my first love, home of the writer's — or rather the scene And looking back at that short space of an old home, for the home itself has Could see a glimpse of his bright face.
vanished. It is the first home he can Moreover, we have lost almost infinite recollect, lost to him when still a child; opportunities. We have seen door after and the last home he recognizes, for a door closed to us which but now was
schoolboy has no home in any complete standing open; we have joined the ranks sense. A large gray house it was, with purof " the old who play no more ;
w of those ple, lichen-mottled roof and goodly lawn emeriti who would seem by long living and gardens sloping to one of the bright: inadvisedly to have earned the right of est of English trout-streams, which wound advising fruitlessly. But even here it is its way through the deep water-meadows hard to say that the surplusage of actual to an old cathedral town some two miles anguish is not due to the passion of the distant. Our life was lulled by the caresspast, that is to say to a delusion, as some
ing sounds of those cathedral bells which will be inclined to call it. But this is in their varying cadences had this ever hardly fair; the passion of the past is as
for an under tone, “As it was in the bemuch a phenomenon of our nature, and ginning, is now, and ever shall be, world therefore as likely to have a truth of its without end." Those who came after us own, as any other sentiment. It may be for one reason or another quarrelled with in abeyance to a great extent in some the old place, which was to us as a Para. natures, who cannot afford, as they boast, dise of God. They dealt with it as it had the time for dreaming; who are too been Thurnaby waste; the house was deeagerly engaged with the coming chapters molished, the shrubs and trees cut down, even to keep a finger in the past, but and the disfenced garden suffered to melt sooner or later in all probability their time away into the surrounding fields. Any will come. On the other hand it is won
ghost of our leaving, one would think, derful to see how this passion will affect must have been “stubb'd oot wi' the lot.” even quite young children, of whom their
I remember that on first hearing what elders can scarcely understand how their had taken place I felt a certain fierce sattiny lives afford room enough for
isfaction that the work had been so cleanly
any past upon which to dwell with regret. Past done. It was almost as though we had holidays, past toys, past companionships had perished with our possession of it
not been ousted at all, but that our home will often affect these little beings with a solemn sense of woe not the less real
No more fear now of any such desecration because in miniature; and they will listen of nursery floors by alien footsteps as to the sighing of the wind at night, or to Cowper lamented. One who years after the continuous murmuring of the stream saw and brought us word, reported that with the feeling that it is singing to them there was nothing to distinguish the old of ancient bygone times when it was all place from the meadows round except so nice, when the weather was fine, and two or three trees yet remaining, with a their best friend in all the world had not statelier presence speaking of more gentle departed. So the Ancient Sage:
days. Hardly a shred is left us here on
which to feed the passion of the past; and
For oft On me, when boy, there came what then I desolate fields must be its very sanctuary.
yet to me it has always seemed that these called, Who knew no books and no philosophies,
There is the river ever whispering the In my boy-phrase "the Passion of the Past.” story, whilst the garden trees, a knot of The first grey streak of earliest summer dawn, old retainers with uplifted hands and The last long stripe of waning crimson gloom, husky voices, bear witness that it is true. As if the late and early were but one —
I bave not seen, and I trust I may never A height, a broken grange, a grove, a flower, see, that spot. There for me, if anywhere, Had murmurs Lost and gone and lost and is the ancient well-head from which, when gone!”
it is once unsealed, the Undine of the past A breath, a whisper - some divine farewell – Desolate sweetness — far and far away
is fain to issue, a spectral figure with What had he loved, what had he Yost, the agonizing hands, to kill one with a kiss. boy?
Who can fail to recognize the allegory in I know not and I speak of what has been.
that story? The present, a dainty bride,
would fain add to her charms “ the tender Of all appeals to the passion of the grace of a day that is dead ;” a few drops past one of the strongest is that which of that water is deemed a sovereign cos. belongs to revisiting an old home. There I metic – yesterday is to enhance with its
delicate half-shadows the brightness of image thrown successively upon its sur-
rises dead youth, or first they are fleeting. On the contrary we do
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play economy of the emotions, and continue
on; more or less painfully to sit upon two Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd, stools until the present vanishes with its Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: need and capability of compromise. Such Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not alternate between indifference and sensi- leave bility ; they use the water of the well spar- Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; ingly, and somehow no Undine emerges.
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, But each stands on his guard against his Though winning near the goal — yet, do not
grieve; peculiar danger. For one it is an old
She cannot fade, though thou hast not song, for another some pictured face, or
Forever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adicu;
Forever piping songs forever new; take up the burden of our past upon our
Forever warm and still to be enjoy'd, own shoulders without flinching, to live Forever panting and forever young; with it as with something inalienably one's All breathing human passion far above,
It is the basis of Christian repent- That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and ance not to ignore the guilty past; it is an cloy'd, element of Christian hope to retain our A burning forehead, and a parching hold upon the old good things which God tongue. has promised to renew. It is infidelity to At the end the poet wakes from his their past which renders so repulsive cer- rapture, and, in a line I venture to think tain personages of modern fiction who are at once acute and perverse, exclaims, supposed to have found out the secret of the elixir of life. These pass sentimen-Thou, silent forml dost tease us out of thought tally unscathed though a succession of As doth eternity. generations, ever hardening in the process, Now it is precisely this suggestion of as they form fresh and fresh connections, eternity which does not tease us, but on until they change them as easily as their the contrary administers the one sedative clothes.
to our passion. I know few words of more But if human life be essentially succes- solemn beauty and stronger comfort that sive, why should it complain of what be have come to us from the remote past, longs to succession, the continual losing than the definition given of eternity by of the present in the past? A river ever Boethius in the sixth century, which the flowing on, as it belongs to rivers to flow, schoolmen have with one accord adopted between banks ever varying in their as- as their own : Est interminabilis vitæ tota pect, even if it were conscious of every simul et perfecta possessio; “ It is the all
at once and perfect possession of life with-pect of a prelude to the blessedness of the out end." In its first instance and highest life that is then present; the memory of perfection it is regarded as an attribute of sin perseveres in that of the grace which the Divinity ; but it is also attributed in makes it void. its degree under the expression of ævum In this life, hope and memory divide to the life of pure spirits, and of the souls the field between them; in the life to of the just made perfect. It is a life in come, hope and affectionate memory are which for the first time we shall have a merged in the joy that welcomes the old present we can call our own; no mere things made new : Ecce nova facio omnia. gasp between an anxious future as yet | Winter's despair and summer's disapuncome and a regretful past which has pointment having perished, autumn and come and gone. Surely of all undesirable spring shall meet and bring between them things the most undesirable is to be for a new season, neither the one nor the other ever broken on this wheel of time :- but holding of both. Vex not his ghost: 0, let him pass! he hates refuse to be comforted, I must be allowed
Should Mimnermus still persist and him That would upon the rack of this tough world to doubt the sincerity of his devotion to Stretch him out longer.
the past, daintily as he expresses himself.
He clasps his dying roses with an eye to As it is not congenial to a man to be relays of fresh ones by which the charmforever tossed on shipboard, and he must ing tradition of blooming and dying may needs desire and look again to feel the be carried on. He has, after all, been solid earth beneath his feet, so we must only coquetting with the passion of the desire and look for that day which “hours past
. He is not“ aidless, alone, and smit. no more offend ;” in which the freshness ten through the helm," or he would look of morning is interwoven with the tender- longingly toward that Avilion, – ness of eve; in which the past and future are merged in the creation of a steadfast Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow, present, instead of rending it asunder as Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies between wild horses. Flumina Babylonis Deep-meadow'd, happy, fair with orchard
lawns sunt omnia quæ hic amantur et trans. And bowery hollows crown'd with summer eunt, exclaims St. Augustine. O Sanctus Sion, ubi totum stat èt nihil fluit. Then where I will heal me of my grievous wound. comes“ Mimnermus in Church,” and complains very naturally and gracefully :
For this at least, whatever else, is the
promise of the after life ; and to this, if I Forsooth the present we must give do not mistake, the passion of the past in To that which cannot pass away: the intensity of its resentment witnesses. All beauteous things for which we live
I. R. By laws of time and space decay. But oh! the very reason why
I clasp them is because they die. Have we any hope that the eternal life, ubi totum stat, will not only bar future loss
From Temple Bar. but will restore to us what we have lost in A CHILD'S RECOLLECTION OF WILLIAM the life that is past ? To this I answer
MAKEPEACE THACKERAY. that there can be no actual repossession I was a little girl of about seven years of a past that has actually gone; that were of age when I first recollect seeing Mr. such repossession possible, in virtue of Thackeray. We lived then in Paris (my the tota simul possessio, it would in the birthplace), as my father was the Paris best circumstances be intolerable. There correspondent of several leading English 'is much in every one's past that he would newspapers. My mother's evening recepnot only willingly not recover, but that he tions were very popular; her salon was a would gladly not even remember. The rendezvous where the artistic and literary river Lethe has a necessary place even celebrities met in order to converse. Conin the Christian conception of the after versation was at that period almost a fine world. Dante makes it flow in the high- art; men and women (so I have been told, est place in Purgatory as a proximate as I was far too young to judge) enjoyed preparation for Paradise; but by him it is causerie; and they knew how to talk. described rather as a water for transform- Amongst the many interesting people who ing the remembrance than as the mere gathered round my father and mother, water of oblivion. The past remains and none made such a vivid impression on my is recognized, though only under the as- I childish imagination as Thackeray. He
is the central figure which stands out in were three little iron beds all in a row; I bold relief from the dim surroundings. I saw him smiling at us, and then, putting can distinctly recall the big white head, his hand in his pocket, he murmured, the spectacles, the rosy face, and the “ Now for the distribution of medals !" sweet sunny smile which positively illu- and chuckling, he deposited on each of our mined his countenance and made it almost pillows a bright five-franc piece, remarkbeautiful. I grew even to love the broad ing, “ Precious little ones! they will think broken nose, and used to wonder how a the fairies have been here." boy, at any period, could have been so One afternoon, as I was taking a walk wildly audacious as to punch that feature. with my father in the Champs Elysées, I wondered at the softness and gentleness we met Mr. Thackeray, and he stopped to of his voice and manner, and why so great have a talk. Some public character was an author should care to come amongst mentioned - I forget who, but evidently us little children in such a simple friendly some one that Thackeray disliked, for he way. He had a formidable appearance, certainly poured forth a torrent of strong, being over six feet, and broad in propor- scathing words. I had never seen him tion. We children were like pilgrims before look angry or speak in a vexed clustering round the knees of Brobdignag. manner,
rather frightened. Mr. Thackeray was our favorite giant. Whilst talking, I noticed that Mr. ThackBut evidently he was not too tall or too eray's eyes wandered towards a poor, delgreat to take an interest in our childish icate woman holding in her arms a little games. How often has he sat amongst child; she was leaning for support against us, enquiring tenderly about my dolls! a tree, and was evidently in great destituHe remembered all their names, and had tion; without making any remark, he made out a genealogical tree, so that every walked up to the woman, enquired into poupée had a distinct history of her own. her condition, and on learning her trou.
One late afternoon, after having told bles slipped into her hand several small us delightful stories, Mr. Thackeray re- silver pieces. marked that he must leave us at once, he Mr. Thackeray often made us little ones was so terribly hungry. We coaxed him laugh heartily with his droll stories and to remain, and told him that we really ways. He one day spied my crinoline, could give him a good dinner.
which was on a chair in the nursery; he “ There is nothing, my dears, you can examined it carefully, and to my horror give me,” he answered, with a funny little put his head through the aperture, and sigh ; " for I could only eat the chóp of a walked into the drawing-room with it rhinoceros or a slice from an elephant.' round his neck, looking like Michael An
“ Yes I tan,” exclaimed my three-year- gelo's statue of Moses. old sister; we saw her disappear into a “ I am an ogre now!” he exclaimed. big cupboard. She emerged a few sec- “ Imagine, my dears, that I have a cropped onds after, with a look of triumph on her red head, blue eyes, and very big lu. fat little face, holding in her hands a nettes !". And forthwith he related to us wooden rhinoceros and an elephant from wonderful adventures, making us laugh her Noah's ark, and putting the two ani- and cry, just as he wished. mals on a plate, she handed them with A few years later we came to live in great gravity to Mr. Thackeray. Never London; my father, through no fault of can I forget the look of delight on the his own, lost a lucrative appointment in great man's face; how he laughed and Paris; it was a period of much anxiety; rubbed his hands with glee; and then, my second sister fell dangerously ill. Mr. taking the child up in his arms, kissed | Thackeray's goodness and kindness to us her, remarking, “Ah, little rogue, you all were beyond words. He called nearly already know the value of a kiss! every day at our house in Thistle Grove,
Then he asked for a knife and fork, himself bringing delicacies of all sorts to smacked his lips, and pretended to devour tempt the appetite of my invalid sister. the elephant and rhinoceros.
His cook, who was a cordon-bleu, had reAnother time when Mr. Thackeray ceived orders to exert her culinary powers called we children were in bed. I was to their utmost, and she made the most the only one not asleep. I had been lis- exquisite dishes and jellies. I remember tening to his pleasant voice, talking to my a note from Thackeray to my mother, with father and mother in the salon, when our the words “ A LAST APPEAL," written in bedroom door was cautiously opened, and capital letters, begging that the jellies in marched Mr. Thackeray, my mother should in the future be made with old following him, holding a candle. There I sherry, or the best Madeira. The doctor