« AnteriorContinuar »
with their Watteau pageantries, their dances in the open air, and their patient love of the deepest and most unmingled tragedy, afforded a notable instance of this contrast. But that which is observable in Mrs. Clive's case, is still more striking. I have never known any creature half so cheerful. Happy sister, happy mother, happy wife, she even bears the burden of a large fortune and a great house without the slightest diminution of the delightful animal spirits, which always seem to me to be of her many gifts the choicest. Moreover, enjoyment seems to be her mode of thankfulness; as, not content with being happy herself, she has a trick of making everybody happy that comes near her. I do not know how she contrives it, but such is the effect. There is no resisting the contagious laughter of those dancing eyes.
As, however, everybody that thinks deeply, as she does, must have some moments of sadness, she is content to put them into her writings; sometimes in prose, for her “Story of the Great Drought” has an intensity of tragic power, a realization of impossible horrors, such as gave their fascination to the best works of Godwin; sometimes in verse, where the depth of thought and fearless originality of treatment, frequently redeem the commonest subject from anything like commonplace. Here is an example:
I stood within the grave's o’ershadowing vault ;
Gloomy and damp, it stretched its vast domain ; Shades were its boundary; for my
eye sought For other limits to its width in vain.
Faint from the entrance came a daylight ray,
And distant sound of living men and things; This, in the encountering darkness passed away,
That, took the tone in which a mourner sings.
I lit a torch at a sepulchral lamp,
Which shot a thread of light amid the gloom; And feebly burning 'gainst the rolling damp,
I bore it through the regions of the tomb.
Around me stretched the slumbers of the dead,
And yet its echoes chilled my heart with fear.
The former men of every age and place,
From all their wanderings, gathered round me lay The dust of withered empires did I trace,
And stood mid generations passed away.
I saw whole cities, that in flood or fire,
Or famine, or the plague, gave up their breath; Whole armies, whom a day beheld expire,
Swept by ten thousands to the arms of death. VOL II.
I saw the Old World's white and wave-swept bones,
A giant heap of creatures that had been ; Far and confused the broken skeletons
Lay strewn beyond mine eyes' remotest ken.
Death’s various shrines--the urn, the stone, the lamp
Were scattered round confused amid the dead; Symbols and types were mouldering in the damp,
Their shapes were wanting and their meaning fled.
Unspoken tongues, perchance in praise or woe,
Were chronicled on tablets Time had swept; And deep were half their letters hid below
The thick, small dust of those they once had wept.
No hand was here to wipe the dust away ;
No reader of the writing traced beneath ; No spirit sitting by its form of clay;
No sigh nor sound from all the heaps of death.
One place alone had ceased to hold its prey ;
A form had pressed it and was there no more ; The garments of the grave beside it lay,
Where once they wrapped HIM on the rocky floor.
HE only with returning footsteps broke
The eternal calm with which the tomb was bound; Among the sleeping dead alone HE woke
And blessed with outstretched hands the host around.
Well is it that such blessing hovers here,
To soothe each sad survivor of the throng Who haunt the portals of the solemn sphere,
And pour their woe the loaded air along.
They to the verge have followed what they love,
And on the insuperable threshold stand;
And stretch in the abyss their ungrasped hand.
But vainly there they seek their soul's relief,
And of the obdurate Grave its prey implore ;
Closing their eyes by those they met before.
All that have died, the earth's whole race, repose
Where Death collects his treasures, heap on heap ;
Its actors, sufferers, schools, kings, armies—sleep.
It would be difficult to frame a better wish for the writer and the woman, than that both may remain unchanged that the shadow may still cast its deep and thoughtful veil over the poetry and the sunshine, and the blessing rest upon the life ! The exact reverse of Mrs. Clive
be found in Mrs. Acton Tindal, whose verse, so free, so buoyant, so firm and so graceful, derives most of its charm from its resemblance to the sweet and lovely creature by whom it was written. There is a sparkling vividness in her style, which has the life and colour of painting. The very choice of her subjects is picturesque. With an extent and variety of reading, remarkable even now in one of the youngest of our female writers, she instinctively fixes upon some theme of processional grace and beauty, and throws all the truth and tenderness of her sentiment around figures already interesting by historical association. The " Infant Bridal” might be transferred to canvas without altering a word.
“ Richard Duke of York, second son of Edward IV., was married to Anne Mowbray, Duchess of Norfolk in her own right. The bridegroom was not five years old, and the bride scarcely three. The ceremony was performed in St. Stephen's Chapel, A.D. 1477."
The sunbeams of the early day
Streamed through the lattice grim,
the dark aisle’s pillared way
Of courtly dames and fair,
The bravest best were there.
But slowly moved the bright array,
For gently at its head
With short and doubtful tread :
(Like Cupid's train in eld),
Each other's hands they held.