Page images
PDF
EPUB

whom I have had the honour of reading these pages

there have been more than a few whose special studies have rendered them particularly acute in criticising the links of my argument.

In

consequence of such criticism, I have been able profitably to revise the work, to add evidence where it seemed wanting, to remove rash statements and to remould ambiguous sentences.

Above all,

I have given a great deal of care to the accumulation, in the form of notes and appendices, of historical and critical data of a kind too particular for the purposes of a lecture, but not, I hope, without genuine importance to the student of the history of literature. In an enquiry of this nature, exact evidence, even of a minute kind, outweighs in importance any expression of mere critical opinion. The friendly criticism of which I have spoken has not, however, shaken me in the slightest degree with regard to my central idea. On the contrary, the effect of minute controversy

has merely been to strengthen on every side my conviction that the theory which I have here laid down for the first time is substantially the true one, and that the opinion hitherto received regarding the sources of the classical school in our poetry is erroneous. I think I may at least claim, from the critic who is inclined to reject my views, a careful consideration of the arguments and evidence upon which they are founded.

It would be impossible for me to speak too warmly of the kindness which my friend Professor Samuel R. Gardiner has shown me in allowing me to see and use the unfinished MS. of the forthcoming volume of his History, and in leading me to MS. sources of seventeenth-century information. It is wholly owing to his generosity that I have been enabled, in the second chapter of this volume, to give an account of Waller's Plot which is much more complete and accurate than

any

hitherto published. Prof. Gardiner's volume, for which

students of the Caroline period can hardly command their impatience, will not, I am sorry to say, be in our possession for some years.

TRIN. COLL., CAMBRIDGE.

May, 1885.

TO W. D. HOWELLS.

The humming-bird in June
Sits, like a jewel, on your taut clothes-line,
And greets Charles River broad and opaline,
Till wanes September's honeysuckle moon
Too soon ;

And thenaway he goes,
A flash of ruby on the southward air,
And comes no more, though still the straits are fair,
Where misty Cambridge from the Beacon shows
Pale rose;

But leaves a plume behind,-
A little plume you fold into a book,
On which one day if you should chance to look,
Your tiny friend would rise, thro' storm and wind,
To mind.

The fluted conchs that came
Long since in Salem merchant-ships to town,
With polished porcelain lips and ridges brown,
Faint perfumed from the isles of eastern name
A-flame,-

These still, if shaken, give
From their deep hearts a murmur of the dome
Where once their soft inhabitants could roam,-
Sonorous seas where Indian monsters thrive
And strive;

Their owners all are dead;
The mighty ships that brought them rot on shore;
Yet still that murmur lingers at their core,
And fancy's light across their tropic bed
Is shed.

1, less than bird or shell,
More volatile, more fragile far than these,
Lighting an hour by these New England seas,
Leave here my plume, my echo,—where it fell
To dwell;

You shook it from my wing!
You dived to lift it from my glimmering deeps!
Now, wakened by your voice no more, it sleeps
And grows less mine than yours; here let it cling
And sing;

Then, when at dusk you spy
The noiseless phantom-schooners warping down
To load in mouldering wharves of Boston town,
Turn sometimes to your lamp-lit shelves, where I
Shall lie.

302 BEACON STREET, Boston.

Dec. 1884.

« PreviousContinue »