« AnteriorContinuar »
true picture of the business that is to be done. There is in these letters, as I have said above, a silence still more significant of Oliver to us than any speech they have. Dimly we discover features of an intelligence, and soul of a man, greater than any speech. The intelligence that can, with full satisfaction to itself, come out in eloquent speaking, in musical singing, is, after all, a small intelligence. He that works and does some poem, not he that merely says one, is worthy of the name of poet. Cromwell
, emblem of the dumb English, is interesting to me by the very inadequacy of his speech. Heroic insight, valor and belief, without words,-how noble is it in comparison to eloquent words without heroic insight!
THE ENGLISH PURITANS.
I will venture to give the reader two little pieces of advice, which, if his experience resemble mine, may prove furthersome to him in this inquiry : they include the essence of all that I have discovered respecting it.
The first is, by no means to credit the wide-spread report that these seventeenth-century Puritans were superstitious, crack brained persons; given up to enthusiasm, the most part of them; the minor ruling part being cunning men, who knew how to assume the dialect of the others, and thereby, as skilful Machiavels, to dupe them. This is a wide-spread report ; but an untrue one. I advise my reader to try precisely the opposite hypothesis. To consider that his fathers, who had thought about this world very seriously indeed, and with very considerable thinking faculty indeed, were not quite so far behindhand in their conclusions respecting it. That actually their “enthusiasms," if well seen into, were not foolish but wise. That Machiavelism, Cant, Official Jargon, whereby a man speaks openly what he does not mean, were, surprising as it may seem, much rarer then than they have ever since been. Really and truly it may in a manner be said, Cant, Parliamentary and other Jargon, were still to invent in this world. 0 Heavens, one could weep at the contrast! Cant was not fashionable at all; that stupendous invention of “Speech for the purpose of concealing Thought” was not yet made. A man wagging the tongue of him, as if it were the clapper of a bell to be rung for economic purposes, and not so much as attempting to convey any inner thought, if thought he have, of the matter talked of, --would at that date have awakened all the horror in men's minds, which at all dates, and at this date, too, is due to him. The accursed thing! No man as yet dared to do it; all men believing that God would judge them. In the History of the Civil War far and wide, I have not fallen in with one such phenomenon.
The use of the human tongue was then other than it now is. I counsel the reader to leave all that of Cant, Dupery, Machiavelism, and so forth, decisively lying at the threshold. He will be wise to believe that these Puritans do mean what they say, and to try unimpeded if he can discover what that is. Gradually a very stupendous phenomenon may rise on his astonished eye. A practical world based on belief in God ;—such as many centuries had seen before, but as never any century since has been privileged to see. It was the last glimpse of it in our world, this of English Puritanism : very great, very glorious; tragical enough to all thinking hearts that look on it from these days of ours.
My second advice is, not to imagine that it was Constitution, “Liberty of the people to tax themselves," privilege of Parliament, triennial or annual Parliaments, or any modification of these sublime privileges, now waxing somewhat faint in our admirations, that mainly animated our Cromwells, Pyms, and Hampdens, to the heroic efforts we still admire in retrospect. Not these very measurable “ Privileges,” but a far other and deeper, which could not be measured ; of which these, and all grand social improvements whatsoever, are the corollary. Our ancient Puritan Reformers were, as all Reformers that will ever much benefit this Earth are always, inspired by a Heavenly Purpose. To see God's own law, then universally acknowledged for complete as it stood in the holy Written Book, made good in this world; to see this, or the true unwearied aim and struggle towards this: it was a thing worth living for and dying for! Eternal Justice; that God's Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven : corollaries enough will flow from that, if that be there; if that be not there, no corollary good for much will flow.
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
The facts in the life of ELIZABETH BARRETT, one of the most distinguished of the female poets of England, which have come to our knowledge, are very few. Up to her marriage with Robert Browning, (himself no mean poet,) in November, 1846, she went very little into society. Since that time she has resided with her the inspirations of Christianity." This is readily granted, and yet we cannot say that her poetry, as a whole, deeply interests us. With the exception of some few pieces, it takes no permanent hold upon the heart, simply because it is addressed more to the reason than to the feelings or affections. The following, we think, are some of her best pieces-pieces of the most simplicity and feeling, if they do not, so well as some others, illustrate her general style.
I have a name, a little name,
Uncadenced for the ear;
The solemn font anear.
Upon the leaves of none;
Across my funeral stone.
May chance your smile to win ;-
The sudden tears within !
When we were children twain ;
That life had any pain.
Of chestnuts from the hill
He calls me by it still !
What none of you can hear !
Around our human cheer!
My sister's woodland glee-
The poet at his knee-
Most tender tones were keeping !
In heaven these drops of weeping!
My name to me a sadness wears
No murmurs cross my mind-
Sweet memories left behind !
With love which softens yet;
Earth's guerdon of regret!
The love divinely given:
And lead us nearer Heaven!
Of all the thoughts of God that are
Along the Psalmist's music'deep
Now tell me if that any is,
“He giveth His beloved sleep.' What would we give to our beloved ? The hero's heart, to be unmoved
The poet's star-tuned harp, to sweep The senate's shout to patriot vowsThe monarch's crown to light the brows ?
“ He giveth His beloved sleep." What do we give to our beloved ? A little faith, all undisproved
A little dust to overweep-
“He giveth His beloved sleep.”
Sad dreams that through the eyelids creep: But never doleful dream again Shall break the happy slumber, when
“ He giveth His beloved sleep."
More softly than the dew is shed,
“ He giveth His beloved sleep."
In such a rest his heart to keep ;
“He giveth His beloved sleep!” For me, my heart, that erst did go, Most like a tired child at a show,
That sees through tears the juggler's leapWould now its wearied vision close, Would childlike on Ilis love repose,
Who "giveth His beloved sleep!”
And round my bier ye come to weep-
“ He giveth His beloved sleep!”.
It is a place where poets crown'd
May feel the heart's decayingIt is a place where happy saints
May weep amid their praying-
As low as silence languish;
To whom she gave her anguish.
Was pour'd the deathless singing! O Christians! at your cross of hope
A hopeless hand was clinging!
Your weary paths beguiling,
And died while ye were smiling.
Through dimming tears his storyHow discord on the music fell,
And darkness on the glory And how, when, one by one, sweet sounds
And wandering lights departed, He wore no less a loving face,
Because so broken-hearted.
The poet's high vocation,
In meeker adoration;