Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

was

NOTE I. PAGE 52. Richard Lovelace, born 1618, eldest son of Sir William Lovelace, of Woolwich, Kent, was gentleman-commoner of Gloucester Hall, Oxford, 1634, served King Charles in Scotland as ensign, and afterwards captain, and “ accounted,” says Wood," the most amiable and beautiful person that ever eye beheld; of innate modesty, virtue, and courtly deportment.” Staunch royalist, he presented to parliament the Kentish petition for the restoration of the King, and was therefore imprisoned for several months in the Gatehouse, Westminster, where he wrote his lyric “ To Althea from Prison.” After the surrender of Oxford, he commanded a regiment in the French King's service, and was wounded at Dunkirk; a false report of his death reaching Lucy Sacheverell, a lady whom he had long loved, and by whom most of his poems were inspired, she soon after was married to another. In 1648 he returned to London, and was again cast into prison, where he arranged his poems (many of them already separately published with music) for the press. The little volume (164 pages) appeared in 1649, under title “Lucasta: [i.e. Lux Casta, memorial of his Lucy] Epodes, Odes, Sonnets, Songs, &c., to which is added Araminta, a Pastorall, by Richard Lovelace, Esq.;" it contains three pretty pieces, which are often reprinted, “ To Lucasta, going to the Warres,” “ The Grasse-hopper,” and “ To Althea." His losses in his King's cause, and generosity to all needy persons, ruined Lovelace's fortune, and, when set at liberty after the execution of Charles, “ he grew very melancholy (which brought him into a consumption), became very poor in body and purse, was the object of charity, went in ragged clothes (whereas, when he was in his glory, he wore cloth of gold and silver) and mostly lodged in obscure and dirty places.”— Wood. He expired in 1658, only forty years old, at very mean lodgings in Gunpowder Alley, near Shoe Lane, and was buried at the west end of St. Bride's Church. His portrait shows a long, shapely face, high, sweet, and pensive. His “ Posthume Poems” were published by his brother in 1659. He also wrote two plays, never printed, “ The Scholar,” and “ The Soldier."

NOTE J. PAGE 54. William Blake was born November 28, 1757, the son of a hosier in Broad Street, Carnaby Market, which is

[ocr errors]

T

now on the right-hand side of Regent Street, London. At the age of fourteen, having shown an early bent for pictorial design, he was apprenticed for seven years to Mr. Basire, engraver; and, besides learning his art, proceeded to make innumerable original sketches, and also to compose a vast quantity of wonderful verses. When twentysix years old Blake's marriage with Katherine Boutcher took place--a real union, of mutual respect, perfect sympathy, tender affection. The quiet, brown-eyed Katherine had true taste for art, and gained skill enough to assist in colouring her husband's drawings; she copied with delight the strange verses he so often dictated; she honoured his painting, his poetry, his simplicity, and his mysticism. He now left his father's, and went to live in Green Street, Leicester Fields. In his thirtieth year, with the advice and assistance of John Flaxman, the sculptor, a volume of Blake's poems (seventy pages) was published, the style of which, incompact in thought and plan as they mostly are, reminds one, and in that sleepy hour of the English Muse, of our very highest men. Blake opened a print-shop, which did not succeed; and, during the last half of his life, gave his mornings to the graver, by which he earned a modest subsistence for himself and his wife, and his evenings to original drawing and poetry. “Were I to love money,” he used to say, “I should lose all power of thought; desire of gain deadens the genius of

My business is not to gather gold, but to make glorious shapes, expressing god-like sentiments.” Music, too, we hear of his composing, but he wanted the art of noting it down, and no specimen remains. Most of Blake's engraved works are rare. His illustrations to “Job” are to be had,- to Blair's “ Grave,” and Young's “ Night Thoughts” still more easily; but his own Songs of Innocence and Experience,” with sixty-four designs, or, as he calls them, " inventions,” are scarcely ever publicly offered for sale; and as seldom, or more seldom, his “ Urizen,” twenty-seven inventions; and “Gates of Paradise,” sixteen. The designs of the “ Songs of Innocence and Experience” consist of a number of scenes, tinted in a sweet and peculiar manner, presenting, with a kind of spiritual exaltation, images of youth and manbood-of domestic sadness and fire-side joy-of the gaiety, the innocence and happiness of childhood; and each scene having its accompanying verses finely pencilled in colours, and curiously interwoven with the group or landscape.

man.

Blake, as he grew older, grew poorer, but not less industrious or less cheerful; his habits became still more retired and inexpensive; he lived like a hermit in the wilderness of London, a hermit ministered te by an angel, who was his wife. A strange faculty which he had of vision-seeing, grew stronger and stronger; ideas of every sort took definite visible form, doubtless through large measure and over-activity of a power which we all possess—witness our dreams. It seems certain that the visual nerve may be stimulated from its internal or brain end with force equal, in some cases, to that exercised by external objects. One may note that while William Blake, a singular boy of fifteen, was busy learning engraving with Mr. Basire, and making sketches and verses, he may any day have met unwittingly in London streets, or walked beside, a placid, venerable, thin man of eightyfour, of erect figure and abstracted air, wearing a fullbottomed wig, a pair of long ruffles, and a curious-hilted sword, and carrying a gold-headed cane,-no Vision, still flesh and blood, but himself the greatest of modern VisionSeers, Emanuel Swedenborg by name; who came from Amsterdam to London in August, 1771, and died, in No. 26, Great Bath Street, Coldbath Fields, on the 29th of March, 1772.

Blake was accustomed to paint the visionary faces and groups which appeared to him; and the ghosts, among whom were many historical personages, usually “ sat” as steadily as could be wished. His verses, too, are always thoroughly concrete in their nature.

Blake spent the last year of his life in Fountain Court, Strand, which is nearly opposite Exeter Hall, and there died, 12th of August, 1828, aged seventy. His wife survived him some years.

A memorial volume, selected from the abundant evidences of his genius, poetic and pictorial, which now lie scattered in several hands, and are mostly inaccessible to the world, would, if lovingly and liberally executed, be very charming and valuable, and, in truth, a national honour. Creative genius, in any department, is too rare and precious that we should be content" to lose a drop" of that immortal gift. But to produce adequate fac-similes of Blake's best engraved designs, and, in especial, of his curiously-tinted drawings, some of which are astoundingly fine, would be no jobber's work.

It remains to add that for the version of “ The Tiger," here presented, differing somewhat from those hitherto published, use has been made of a MS. book of Blake's, belonging to a friend of the editor, full of the oddest chaos of verses, drawings, and memoranda.

NOTE K. PAGE 56. Eugene Aram. In the summer of the year 1759, a human skeleton was accidentally turned up in a quarry near Knaresborough in Yorkshire, and was supposed to be that of one Daniel Clark, who had suddenly disappeared from the locality about thirteen years before. One Richard Houseman, being arrested on suspicion, exclaimed that the skeleton was not Clark's; and, losing his self-possession, at last directed a search to be made in St. Robert's Cave, where another skeleton was found which proved to be that of Clark. Further inquiry resulted in the arrest of Eugene Aram, formerly of Knaresborough, and now usher in a school at Lynn in Norfolk, a studious and learned man. He was tried at York Castle, on the 3rd of August, made an elaborate and ingenious—too ingenious defence (to be found in Kippis's Biog. Britan.), and was found guilty of the murder of Clark, who, with Houseman, had been his accomplice in several robberies. After confession of guilt, followed by an attempt at suicide, Eugene Aram was hanged at York, and his body suspended in chains in Knaresborough Forest.

Note L. PAGE 89. Richard Harris Barham's best-known book is one of the comic order, entitled The Ingoldsby Legends, in which great cleverness is but poorly employed. These graver verses are said to have been the last he ever made.

NOTE M. PAGE 109. I do confesse thou’rt smooth and faire, has been said, but not with certainty, to be by Sir Robert Ayton, a Scottish courtier of James I, and a friend of Ben Jonson.

NOTE N. PAGE 110. Ned Bolton. The substance of what we have been able to learn regarding the author of this dashing buccaneer ballad, equal to Scott's best lyrics, is that he was a native of the north of Ireland, some time a newspaper writer, afterwards British Consul at Galveston in Texas,

was

in which country he died, or, as some accounts say, killed, about twenty years ago.

We have seen a volume of his poems, entitled “ Fitful Fancies,” and published, we think, in 1826, which contains Ned Bolton, but nothing else near so good. We have an impression that he published another volume of verse, but have not been able to lay hands on it.

NOTE O. PAGE 120. Ode to Evening. This poem is here printed with spacings that bring out both sense and sound more clearly than the usual arrangement, which is wholly superficial. Nothing is hereby lost, and much gained. The addition of four lines, enclosed with brackets, near the end, is less excusable-unless, with those readers to whom, after fit consideration, they may succeed in making their own ex

cuse.

[ocr errors]

There was

NOTE P. PAGE 134. Auld Robin Gray was written by Lady Anne Lindsay, daughter of the Earl of Balcarras, born 1750; married to Sir A. Barnard, 1793; died, without issue, 1825, in Berkeley Square, London. She was pretty, vivacious, and agreeable. Writing shortly before her death tó Sir Walter Scott, Lady Anne

says: Robin Gray, so called from its being the name of the old herd at Balcarras, was born soon after the close of the year 1771. My sister Margaret had married and accompanied her husband to London; I was melancholy, and endeavoured to amuse myself by attempting a few poetical trifles. an ancient Scottish melody of which I was passionately fond; (Miss Suff Johnstone), who lived before your day, used to sing it for us at Balcarras. She did not object to its having improper words, though I did. I longed to sing old Sophy's air to different words, and give to its plaintive tones some little history of virtuous distress in humble life, such as might suit it.

At our fire. side and amongst our neighbours · Auld Robin Gray' was always called for,- I was pleased in secret with the approbation it met with; but such was my dread of being suspected of writing anything, perceiving the shyness it created in those who could write nothing, that I carefully kept my own secret.” It became a disputed question whether the ballad was ancient or modern, and a reward of twenty guineas was offered in the newspapers for decisive

6

« AnteriorContinuar »