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and the enforced contact with all that was upon me with an expression of entreaty, most painful to his refined tastes and hab- raising his hands towards me as he lay in its proved a shock from which he never bed as though asking for assistance, but recovered. He had not long regained his saying nothing. Upon this I requested liberty before he was attacked by a second him to repeat after me the acte de contrition paralytic seizure of a much more serious of the Roman ritual as in our prayercharacter than the former, and from which books. He immediately consented, and he only partially rallied; his reason gra- repeated after me in an earnest manner dually became impaired, and it was soon
that form of prayer.
He then became found necessary for him to be constantly more composed, and laid his head down attended. I will not dwell on the distress- on one side; but this tranquillity was ining details of this period; suffice it to say terrupted about an hour after by his turnthat, after a while, his state became so pre- ing himself over and uttering a cry at the carious as to necessitate his removal to the same time, appearing to be in pain. He asylum of St. Saviour. He was here treat- soon, however, turned himself back, with ed with every kindness and consideration, his face laid on the pillow, towards the but did not long survive his admission wall, so as to be hidden from us who were During the winter of 1839 he became much on the other side. After this he never weaker, and in the March following it was moved, dying imperceptibly.” It was the evident that his end was near. The ac- 30th of March, 1840. He was buried in count of his last moments, as given by the the Protestant Cemetery of Caen. nun who attended him, is very touching. So died the once famous, admired, and “On the evening of his death,” she said, courted George Brummel, a pauper and “about an hour before he expired, the de- an imbecile. If his follies and extravability having become extreme, I observed gance transcended ordinary bounds, it him assume an appearance of intense must be allowed that his sufferings did so anxiety and fear, and he fixed his eyes also.
WERE we in search of a sort of golden neficent moments, and if it be conceded thread on which to string together some on the other hand that any worthy represenof the choicest gems of poetic thought and tation of child-life and child-thought, their diction, what better could we find for our influence and their mystery, demands some purpose than such a title as “ Child-Life of the very tenderest, subtlest qualities of as seen by the Poets ?”
Instead of a mere human nature, it will speedily be seen how collection of elegant extracts, or of mere our poets and singers may glorify or betray nursery rhymes, or of poems written for themselves in this infantine direction. children, we should have before us a col- Open Shakspeare at any passage where the lection of the grandest poetry that men of beginning of life is referred to. Read the genius have left behind to “ brighten the passage: sunshine;" but we should have in addition
l' the dead of darkness something more-a sparkling little history, The ministers for the purpose hurried thence so to speak, of the progress of the poetic Me, and thy crying self !
Prospero to Miranda, The Tempest. intellect. For it will be found, on careful examination, that there is no better clue to There we have a flash of humanity in one the quality of any minstrel than his man- epithet : or turn to the piteously beautiful ner of writing about children, his greater or
lines on the Innocents in the Tower, less reference to childish experience, and
Girdling one another his fondness for child-like moods. If, as
Within their alabaster innocent arms: most good critics now admit, the crucial Their lips were four red roses on a stalk
Which in their summer beauty kiss'd each other! proof of any poet's mission be the power of his human sympathy, if poetry be some- Or glance elsewhere, even into the thing more than a set of fanciful pictures, strange pages of “ Pericles," and hear the if it be the perfect speech of the supre- King addressing the little one new born mest and simplest natures in their most be- amid the storm: New Series.-VOL XVI., No. 1.
Now, mild may be thy life! great bard of Italy. In all the awful seFor a more blust'rous birth had never babe:
ries of human faces which succeed each Quiet and gentle thy conditions !—for Thou art the rudeliest welcomed to this world,
other in the “ Inferno,” is there any awfulThat e'er was prince's child !
ler than that of Ugolino, gnawing the The whole of the situation here alluded to skull of Archbishop Ruggieri, who starved is infinitely tender, and should be noted by the miserable Count and his four children every student. How the whole great heart to death ? . Tender beyond tenderness is of Shakspeare sobs with Pericles in the every detail of the story, down to the memorable passage which follows, when the
heart-rending close. superstitious sailors of the ship insist that Gaddo mi si gittò disteso a piedi, the Queen must be thrown "overboard Dicendo: Padre mio, chè? non m' aiuti ? straight!" “Here she lies, sir,” cries
Quivi morl. Lychorida, pointing to the “corpse;" and Dante spares us none of the horrible Pericles exclaims
particulars; but his soul is full of stern A terrible childbed hast thou had, my dear;
pity. When our own Chaucer takes up No light, no fire: the unfriendly elements
the tale, however, he breaks down-he is Forgot thee utterly; nor have I time
too tender-hearted—he can not finish; To give thee hallow'd to thy grave, but straight but refers us to the “grete poete of Itaille." Must cast thee, scarcely confin'd, in the ooze; .
Chaucer adds one exquisite touch, conBid Nestor bring me spices, ink and paper,
cerning the behavior of one of the chilMy casket and my jewels; and bid Nicander dren, to which attention has been drawn Bring me the satin coffer : lay the babe
by Mr. Leigh Hunt: Upon the pillow ; hie thee, whiles I say A priestly farewell to her!
There day by day this child began to cry,
Till in his father's barme* adowne he lay Such mere glimpses of the great Bard And said, Farewell, father, I must die, would be insufficient to show the
suprema- And kiss'd his father, and died the same day. cy of his insight; yet from either of the
overflow at all times with above passages we may at least gather, at divine tears. "He, the “morning star" of a glance, that the mightiest of intellectual English song,t was also the most pitiful and creators' was a man whose heart was in the most human. Here, once more, the tune with all innocent loveliness. We are method of regarding a child-like circumtaught the very same truth of Homer- stance is the clue to the whole poetic identhat mystic human figure far back in time tity of the writer. —by the glimpse of Andromache's child
Having ascertained so much, we may in the Iliad. Here it is, as admirably ren
soon ascertain more, and discover, in fol. dered by the late Mr. Worsley :
lowing our golden thread of subject, that He spake, and to the babe reached forth his arms, themes connected with child-life have been Who to the bosom of his fair-eyed nurse
treated most frequently at the noblest periClung with a cry; scared at his father's look And by the brass helm, and the horsehair plume
ods of our literature; and so surely as Waving aloft so grimly. And they laughed,
poetry has been wretched and degenerate, Father and mother; and the nodding helm such themes have been employed most deHe in a moment from his head removed,
gradingly or neglected altogether. In And laid it shining on the earth, then kissed Fondly, and dandled in his arms, the child,
Chaucer, children are fresh little creatures, And called on Zeus and all the gods in prayer:
touched with no metaphysical light; ten“ Zeus and all gods, let this my child become
der human blossoms, sometimes plucked Famed in the hosts of Troia ; even as I,
cruelly, but ever meant for beauty and for In strength so good, and full of power to reign. brightness. We are breathing the mornAnd, when he cometh from the fight, let men
ing air of literature, and life around us is Say, 'A far better than his sire is here.' And thus with glory-spoils let him return
simple, unsophisticated, and troubled by From the slain foe, and cheer his mother's heart !" no “problems.” With Shakspeare and the
dramatists who shine around him and conHe spake, and in the arms of his dear wise Laid the fair babe, and to her fragrant breast
stitute with him what might be called “the She clasped him, smiling thro' a mist of tears. Shakspearian system," a child is a child, an
unconscious actor sometimes in great Animal light and sparkle of childhood is there, brightening with one sweet touch * Lap. the beautiful episode of the parting. Leav
+ Old Chaucer, like the morning star, .ing the great bard of Greece, turn to the
To us discovers day from afar.—DENHAM.
events; a prattling voice breaking in oc- of child-life, and when they do speak, pile casionally on the deeper tones of men and up conceits and oddities. These men, women;' a little creature of flesh and who would trim the very daisies on a blood :
grave into quaint forms and characters,
At first the infant, were mostly childless and overshadowed Mewling and puling in the nurse's arms. And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel with religious sorrows. When the Resto
Our And shining morning face, creeping like snail
came, things were worse still. Unwillingly to school.
poets played French tunes till the world How tenderly does Ben Jonson, bewailing sickened, and scarcely one natural note
reached the ears of the public. In that his boy, call him
portentous collection of nervous English Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry ! and vicious rubbish, known to the reader And with what quiet insight Michael as “ Dryden's Works,” in that dusty legaDrayton, describing the little infant Mo- cy of a man who might have become a ses, enters into the very life and soul of great English poet, and who doubtless infancy :
was our very best English critic, there is Her pretty infant lying in her lap,
nothing natural save the fearless selfWith his sweet eyes her threatening rage be. revelation of the writer who changed his guiles,
creed every lustrum and would gladly For yet he plays and dallies with his pap,
have changed his skin had that been posTo mock her sorrows with his amorous smiles, And laugh'd, and chuck'd, and spread the pretty sible. Between Dryden and Pope the hands,
Muses were silent, save at routs and teaWhile her full heart was at the point to break. parties; there was no mention of children Moses' Birth and Miracles, Book 1.
or any thing else innocent; and there was As these men and their contemporaries no true poetry. Pope rose, flourished, wrote of children, they wrote of all else- lied, and confirmed the artificial tendenwith insight, tenderness, and truth. They cies of his age; and Gay, who might have were as noteworthy for kindly humanity done better than any of his contemporaas for poetic force and range. So too, ries, for he had real humor and a large though in a much less degree, were their heart, fiddled away his great gifts, leaving immediate successors. The Stuarts began posterity his debtor for little more than the early to create court poets; and the false Beggar's Opera. About this period, Jonaand artificial verses of Carew and his com- than Swift sarcastically recommended the rades were already poisoning our Helicon. poor and fruitful Irish to eat their babies, As we follow our poetic thread further, and showed in divers other ways his conthere are long blanks, and few indeed are tempt for ordinary human ties. Let us the pearls between Drayton and Milton. do Swift the justice, however, to observe Milton was a stately singer, not used to that, in the same spirit of savage and reunbend to infancy, save as typical of Him lentless humor, he was demolishing the who came in infant guise to redeem the artificial structure of English poetry, showworld. His lines “On a fair infant dying ing its insincerity and worthlessness. Engof a cough” are full of puerile affectations, Tish poetry was in a very bad way when and the “ Ode on the Nativity," though Ambrose Phillips wrote his hideous infangrand and golden beyond parallel, having tine pieces, on the little “Lady Charthe effect of a glorious illuminated missal lotte Pulteney dressed to go to a ball,” unrolled to sudden music, shows little or etc. ;-carrying the patch-box and the no tenderness. In good truth, something powder-brush into the very nursery, beof the freshness of English literature had daubing infancy, and hailing it in anacrealready departed. Great as Milton was, ontics; all his feeling, on seeing a beauhe was academical, and his poetry wanted tiful female child, being that it was not the natural life of Chaucer's breezy verse, old enough to be made love to. Things and Shakspeare's ever-varied numbers. were not much better in Johnson's day,
But if we are disappointed in the poets though the fresh and wholesome genius of who preceded Milton, and even in Milton Goldsmith was beginning to woo man himself, what shall we say of his contem- back to nature and simple truth, and poraries and immediate successors ? Even Bishop Percy published that book which, the Puritan poets, who were in all respects more than almost any other, renovated the finest singers of those days, speak little our poetic literature—the “Reliques” of antique ballads. A great heap of shame- sublime musings on human destiny, his less trash was yet to be written and pub- strange sense, so novel to the world, of the lished ere that great poet rose, who stands links between physical nature and the in the foreground of modern poetry and human soul, his straightforward trust in dispenses light to all contemporaries and the simplicity of all commanding thought. successors. Wordsworth was born, and Let it suffice to say, that he opened up a English poetry was saved. He himself new region of mystery, which was exdwelt in long obscurity ; but he filled the plored with him and after him by other lamps of all the world honored. Byron commanding spirits,—by Coleridge, by read Wordsworth secretly and was trans- Shelley, by Tennyson, and by Browning. formed from a feeble verse-writer into a But Wordsworth was not altogether the living force, though he never had the originator of this revolution. Before the grace to confess his obligation. Coleridge author of the “ Lyrical Ballads” appeared, gave and received light to and from the the first keynote of a nobler literature had same source. Without Wordsworth's po- been struck by William Blake, an extraoretry to recruit his imperfect strength, Shel- dinary genius, generally known as “the ley could scarcely have become a subtle mad painter.” Blake's “Songs of Inno. power at all. Even Keats drank some- cence” are full of a strange weird simplithing, though not much; he had scarcely city, like the speech of some elfin child. begun to feel the world. Without Words- They open thus : worth, indeed, modern poetry might have remained at what might be called the
Piping down the valleys wild
Piping songs of pleasant glee “ Addisonian" stage to this day.
On a cloud I saw a child, And what did Wordsworth begin by
And he, laughing, said to me, doing? By writing what have been call
“Pipe a song about a lamb;" ed savagely, but quite truly, “poems
So I piped with merry cheer; about babies,”—about the dim beginnings “Piper, pipe that song again ;” of life, about birds'-nests and flower-gath
So I piped; he wept to hear. ering,-about little village maidens, gyp
Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe, sy boys and idiot lads,-about Barbara
Sing thy songs of happy cheer;" Lewthwaite and her pet lamb, and Agnes
So I sung the same again, Fell and her new cloak of “ duffel gray."
While he wept with joy to hear. No wonder that critics sneered and the “Piper, sit thee down and write public neglected. “Childishness, conceit,
In a book, that all may read." and affectation !" cried Jeffrey in the Edin
So he vanish'd from my sight;
And I pluck'd a hollow reed, burgh Review ; and afterward proceeded to compare Wordsworth with Ambrose
And I made a rural pen, Phillips, and actually quoted the noblest
And I stain'd the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs passage in the noble “ Ode on Intimations
Every child may joy to hear. of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” as a sample of utter raving In these lamb-like noods Blake has no and unintelligibility,—these lines for ex. rival. There is a poem of his, narrating ample, among others !
how a number of little sweeps got washed
in a shining river in Heaven, which, for Hence, in a season of calm weather,
simple audacious beauty and quaintness Though inland far we be, Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
of effect, is without a peer in our language. Which brought us thither,
Old and gray in years, he was a cherub in Can in a moment travel thither,
soul. He was utterly devoid of guile. And see the children sport upon the shore,
So tremendous was his simplicity of chaAnd hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.
racter, that he is said to have persuaded Wordsworth's poems about children form his wife to walk with him in the garden in a volume in themselves. To this great a state of nature, in the manner of Adam master, a child was a mysterious and and Eve. The ordinary modern explanabeautiful agent; childhood, an unutter- tion for such conduct as Blake's is summed ably significant epoch in the history of up in one word—“insanity;" but the man. It would occupy too much space word is bandied about too readily. Many to show in how many ways he conveyed, of his pranks were absurd from our point through the medium of childhood, his of view; but is it not perfectly obvious
that we should feel in the same way
INVOCATION TO HIS CHILD. towards any more spiritual being than the billows on the beach are leaping around it, ourselves, provided we did not quite The bark is weak and frail ; fathom the living motive of such a being ? The sea looks black, and the clouds that bound it Blake believed himself a spiritual person, Come with me, thou delightful child, ---,
Darkly strew the gale. and laid little stress on the body. Admit- Come with me, though the wave is wild, ting for a moment (what the world won't And the winds are loose; we must not stay, admit) that the conception was a true one, Or the slaves of law may send thee away. there was nothing irrational in his con- They have taken thy brother and sister dear, duct after all. But be that as it may, he They have made them unfit for thee; was a truly divine poet, and may be said They have withered the smile, and dried the tear, to have sown in Wordsworth's mind the
Which should have been sacred to me. seeds of an imperishable literature. Com- They have bound them slaves in youthly time;
To a blighting faith, and a cause of crime, pared with Blake's child-poems, Words. And they will curse my name and thee, worth's wonderful series may be described Because we fearless are and free. as less etherial and more obtrusively pathe- Come thou, beloved as thou art ; tic. Wordsworth takes the philosophic Another sleepeth still attitude, and allows us, even in such ex- Near thy sweet mother's anxious heart, quisite poems as “ Alice Fell,” to catch a Which thou with joy wilt fill
With fairest smiles of wonder thrown faint tone of the schoolmaster. A wilder On that which is indeed our own, and more elfin light, a light more alien to And which in distant lands will be Blake's etherial mood, yet far removed The dearest playmate unto thee. from Blake's divine simplicity, burns in Fear not the tyrants will rule for ever, the child-like poems of Shelley. They Or the priests of the evil faith; are very few, and little known; the finest, They stand on the brink of that raging river, indeed, is not printed in the body of his
Whose waves they have tainted with death.
It is fed from the depth of a thousand dells, works at all. Another is the merest frag. Around them it foams and rages and swells ; ment, and, on that account, infinitely and their swords and their sceptres I floating see touching. It bewails the death of his Like wrecks on the surge of eternity. child, buried among the ruins of Rome; Rest, rest. Shriek not, thou gentle child ! and is full of an impulsive gleam, which The rocking of the boat thou fearest, gains brightness from the sudden finish— And the cold spray, and the clamor wild !
There, sit between us two, thou dearest, as if the poet could bear his grief no
Me and thy mother; well we know more :
The storm at which thou tremblest so,
Less cruel than the savage slaves
Who hunt thee o'er these sheltering waves.
This hour will in thy memory
Be a dream of things forgotten;
We soon shall dwell by the azure sea
Of serene and golden Italy,
Or Greece, the mother of the free;
And I will teach thy infant tongue
To call upon their heroes old
In their own language, and will mould
of'Grecian love, that by such name
A patriot's birthright thou mayst claim.
It will be seen that the poet is too pas-
sionately moved to be exquisite; the piece The love of living leaves and weeds,
is as loose in writing as Byron's worst and Among these tombs and ruins wild ; Let me think that through low seeds
most careless flights; but it veritably tremOf the sweet Aowers and sunny grass, bles with power, rocking us on the billows Into their hues and scents may pass of a stormy and broken style, until it A portion
ceases in a false and dangerous calm—the But far finer-tremendous indeed in its calm of agony and pride suppressed. blending of strong emotion and semi- Turn from it; turn from the boat dancing scenic effect, is the extraordinary"Invo- on stormy waters, with its two hysteric figcation," written under circumstances with ures; and listen for a moment to the which all the world is familiar:
somewhat oilier tones of a great good
TO WILLIAM SHELLEY.
sayRoma ! Roma I Roma !