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THE SONG OF THE SHIRT.
In poverty, hunger and dirt, Sewing at once, with a double thread,
A shroud as well as a shirt!
6 But why do I talk of death
That phantom of grisly bone, I hardly fear his terrible shape,
It seems so like my own-
Because of the fasts I keep,
And flesh and blood so cheap!
My labour never flags :
A crust of bread—and rags !
A table--a broken chair-
For sometimes falling there!
66 Work-work—work !
From weary chime to chime ! Work-work-work!
As prisoners work for crime ! Band, and gusset and seam,
Seam and gusset and band, "Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumbed,
As well as the weary hand.
In the dull December light, And work-work—work,
When the weather is warm and bright
With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
Plying her needle and thread!
In poverty, hunger and dirt,
It was at-Rome when he was finishing his “ Last Days of a Philosopher," that he received the final warning to prepare to die. By dictation he wrote to his brother “ I am dying from a severe attack of palsy, which has seized the whole of the body with the exception of the intellectual organ."
They buried him at Geneva. In truth Geneva buried him herself, with serious and respectful ceremonial. A simple monument stands at the head of the hospitable grave. There is a tablet to his memory on the wall of Westminster Abbey. There is a monument at Penzance. His public services of plate, his imperial vases, his foreign prizes, his royal medals, shall be handed down with triumph to his collateral posterity, as trophies won from the deeps of nescience. But his work : designed by his own genius : executed by his own hand, tracery and all : and every single stone signalised by his own private mark, indelible, characteristic and inimitable : his work is the only adequate record of his name. How deeply are its foundations rooted in space, and how lasting its materials for time! It is solid, yet its substantial utility is almost every where flowered into beauty. It is mingled in its style, bnt it is unique. It is the tomb, not of the palsy stricken body which has returned to the earth as it was, but of that transcendant intellect with which his Maker had endowed him, so that the erection knows no place, and can be assimilated to our conceptions only by the figures of fancy and imagination.
The monumental fane, then, which this great investigator has raised in honour of nature, for the benefit of man, is not a cameraobscura, like the “ Work without a Parallel,” of old Beecher, or the “ Foundations of Chemistry” by Stahl: in which the figures are but dim and upside-down, though lying luminous and beautiful in the midst of the surrounding darkness. It is not a crystal
edifice like the palace of ice upon the Neva, as in the system of Lavoiser. It is not a European museum like the substantial fabric which the long days' work of Berzelius has slowly builded over his future bed of rest, and filled with all that is rich and rare from Icelandic caldrons, Ural mines, Tropical woods, and the heights of the Andes and the Himmelah, for the useful instruction of mankind : nor a half-lit, unfinished, but magnificent orrery, like the “ New Philosophy” of Dalton, in which, when the undiscovered planets and the unexpected Comets shall have been found, and when the central idea shall have been kindled into a blaze of light and force by the Prometheus of another day, the movements and the sheen of all the stars shall be held up to the astonished eye, as one complete microcosm of creation. Yet there is something of all these together, in the work of the London discoverer. There are the neigbouring shadows of Stahl, and as it appears from the researches of Faraday, something also like the inverted representation of the truth. There is the brightness of Wollaston, in the great facts he has won from their enchanted holds. There is the sound logic of Lavoiser. And, last of all these, there is the independence, and the essential vitality of glorious promise for posterity, of our Quaker—the immortal Dalton : but over the great proportions of the fabric, there is shed that brilliancy which is all his own : a lustre partly derived from the accidental character of his particular discoveries, and partly from the original endowment of his mind, by that only Potentate, whose minister he was.” Such is the elaborate and richly laden mausoleum of Humphrey Davy.
NORTH BRITISH REVIEW.