Abbildungen der Seite

Which like the firelight in a cottage pane,

Warming with cheery glow the humble place,
Doth charm our hearts to gaze at it, and try
To gain a glimpse within as we pass by.
Philosophers who know the whims of Nature,

Affirm the dame works in a curious way,
Whene'er she forms a wise inventive creature,

Clothing the spirit in the coarsest clay ;
Oft hiding genius 'neath such clumsy feature,

That one would think she'd moulded it in play,
Certes, 'tis strange that Nature does take pleasure
In earthen pitchers thus to hide her treasure.
As, for example, Grecian Socrates;

One of the wisest men the world has seen,
Æsop, Rabelais, Giotto, Aristophanes,

Cromwell, Turenne, Mirabeau, Racine,
Some famous women, too, may rank with these,

Mohammed's earliest wife, the Swedish queen,
One scarce can name a heroine or hero
Whose personal beauty was not down at zero.
Sappho was not at all a lovely woman,

And Cleopatra, too, was no great beauty;
Although she captive led the hook-nosed Roman

(Whom Death could not subdue, whose " et tu Brute," Wails in reproach through time to find a foeman

E’en in his best beloved). Nor she* whose duty
Sought its reward in her great husband's love,
A joy beyond what jewelled dames could prove.

The loveliest have not been always loved

The longest and the deepest ; Nature's kind, Full oft to those who farthest are removed

From outward charms she makes it up in mind,

* The wife of Phocion.

Which wins and wears the longest, and has proved

Of more avail than beauty, though behind Obsequious Wealth display his gems and gold, Worth with the wise has borne the palm of old.

It's not the fashion which the world has got,

She judges people by the outward shell ; A man may be a rogue, or fool, or sot,

Yet if he has the art of looking well,
And hides his folly with a well-cut coat,

The world will ring his praises like a bell.
To pardon faults society is willing,
When joined with polish and the “splendid shilling.”

His house was not as air-tight as a castle ;

Through many a chink and cranny streamed the wind, Which with the crazy structure seemed to wrestle,

And howled around it like an angry fiend,
Still, 'gainst the storm the tenement stood fast all,

E'en though its frame sad creaks and groans did send,
As if its joints were wrung with sudden pain,
By the fierce striving of the wind and rain.

It was a wooden cottage, roofed with bark,

And had two windows mended with brown paper, Through which there streamed out after it was dark,

The glimmer of the student's midnight taper; The cobwebbed roof and rafters rough and stark,

Were tinged a rich dark brown with smoke and vapour, Some faded paper-hangings hid the walls, Though somewhat tattered by the winter squalls.


'Twas furnished with a bench and an old stretcher,

A rough deal table and a three-legged stool, For which he meant as soon as he grew richer,

To get a leathern cushion stuffed with wool ;

Upon some shelves there stood an old cracked pitcher,

A dinted teapot, and a basin, full
Of rich new milk which a kind neighbour
Had given in return for some slight labour.


The walls were hung around with pencil sketchings

Of landscapes, buildings, waterfalls and flowers, Of animals and childish faces; in such etchings

He innocently spent his lighter hours Relieved from sterner toil. As clumsy scratchings The “connoisseurs” had dubbed them, those whose

powers Of skill and knowledge above other folks, Make them pass judgment on art, men, and books.

On a rough sideboard stood his cups and delf,

And over it upon some little hooks, Hung hat and cloak; a portrait of himself,

When young, with mischief in his looks,
Was o'er the chimney-piece, and on a shelf,

Ranged in a row two score or so of books,
The compass of his library was such
That 't held most tongues from Hebrew to High Dutch.

The excellent of the earth were gathered there,

In all their humour, wisdom, prose and verse; In choice it would with richer ones compare

And many a country parson has a worse;
But lest you deem I do not state what's fair,

I will the names which that shelf held rehearse,
For Guttenberg be thanked, the kings of men,
Now speak their wisdom to the lowliest ken.
Shakespeare and Schiller, Wordsworth and Jean Paul,

Stood side by side with Roman Cicero,
Caesar and Livy. Bacon, Locke, and Hall,

Jeremy Taylor, Bunyan, Wesley: Howe,

Were tête-a-tête with Cowper, Coleridge, Pascal,

Dickens and Thackeray, Goldsmith and Defoe;
Beside the works of Spenser and Cervantes,
Stood Homer's, Virgil's, Milton's, and stern Dante's.
Merry old Chaucer, with his English cheer,

Wise Rabelais, laughing hugely, over-frolic;
Chatty Montaigne, and Rousseau wrung with fear

Lest folk should laugh at him ; Byron melancholic,
And Scott benign, and hapless Bozzy dear

For stout old Johnson's sake; with Swift, who owl-like,
Dwelt in the shadow of his own dark mind,
Collins, too finely touched, with madness pined.
Boccacio, the good Queen of Navarre,

La Fontaine, Montesquieu, Voltaire,
Musäus, Ludwig Tieck, Goethe, like the star

Of morn among his fellows, and the youthful pair
Warped by the stress of intellectual war

To death and atheism. Molière
Wove jests by Herbert's side, and Butler stung,
And the resounding swell of Dryden rung,
Pope's cadence chimed, and genial Horace laughed,

My best beloved of Romans, and the buffoon Greek +
Chuckled in boisterous humour, as if he had quaffed

The cask of old Silenus ; Gibbon sleek Sneered at the Christian story ; sophistic craft

In Plato's grasp elenctic waxéd weak, And the wild woodnotes of the heart of Burns Drowned the pathetic whimpering of Sterne's. Tom Campbell's clarion rung its martial strain, Hood punned and sighed, and dear old Lamb's quaint

mind Stammered out wit and wisdom; Kingsley's vein

Of fiery valour throbbed, and Helps, in kind,

* Keats and Shelley.

† Aristophanes.

Quiet, delightful English, bade his “Friends” again

Rehearse their conference sweet; in wrath, behind,
The sage of Chelsea rent the shams which hide
The empty objects of our century's pride.
Ruskin, our greatest living seer, inspired

By truth's eternal beauty, which doth rest
Upon the work of all whose souls are fired

By coals from God's own altar, and whose quest Reaches to things divine. Good reader, are you tired

Of this brave company which fills my list ? I'll count no more, for if I don't have done, St. Victor's college will not hold its own.*


For there were more, too numerous to mention,

The legacy and teaching of the wise,
To which the great world pays but small attention,

Too self-willed it, to take their good advice;
Their wisdom, fancy, pathos, and invention

Are things which scarcely suit its foolish eyes,
And right revealed by preacher or by poet,
Finds few that love it well enough to do it.
I left the student sitting by the fire,

And listening to the roaring of the weather,
While I described him and his house, entire,

With the few things which he had scraped together;
For which forgive me, nothing can be drier

Than an inventory, or a description, either
Of man or woman, unless that they're good-looking,
Your ugly people are not worth the booking.

The student sat immersed in contemplation

Of some great thought or argument sublime, Gathered by study from some great narration

In golden prose, or sung in lofty rhyme; * See Rabelais' “Gargantua and Pantagruel,” Book II. Chap. 7.

« ZurückWeiter »