« PreviousContinue »
also marred the effect of his conceptions, and the copious flow of his versification, unrelieved by bursts of passion or elegant sentiment, sometimes becomes heavy and monotonous in its uniform - smoothness and dignity.
The Battle of Blenheim. It was a summer evening,
I could not well make out. Old Kaspars work was done,
But every body said,' quoth he,
That 'twas a famous victory.
My father lived at Blenheim then, , His little grandchild Wilhelmine.
Yon little stream hard by ;
They burned his dwelling to the ground, She saw her brother Peterkin
And he was forced to fly; Roll something large and round
So with his wife and child he fled. Which he beside the rivulet,
Nor had he where to rest his head. In playing there had found; He came to ask what he had found. • With fire and sword, the country round That was so large, and smooth, and Was wasted far and wide: round.
And many a childing mother then,
And new-born baby, died; Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
But things like that, you know, must be Who stood expectant by;
At every famous victory.
• They say it was a shocking sight
For many thousand bodies here
Lay rotting in the sun; 'I find them in the garden,
But things līke that, you know,'must be For there's many here about;
After a famous victory. And often, when I go to plough,
The ploughshare turns them out! "Great praise the Duke of Marlbro', For many thousand men,' said he,
won, • Were slain in that great victory.'
And our good prince, Eugene.'
• Why 'twas a very wicked thing!'. “Now tell us what 'twas all about,'
Said little Wilhelmine. Young Peterkin he cries :
Nay-nay-my little girl,” qt
It was a famous victory,
And everybody praised the duke,
Who this great fight did win.'
And what good came of it at last?'
Quoth little Peterkin.
• Why, that I cannot tell,' said he, But what they killed each other for, * But 'twas a famous victory.'
The Holly Tree.
The holly tree?
Its glossy leaves
Wrinkled and keen;
Can reach to wound;
I love to view these things with curious eyes,
Can emblems see
Harsh and austere,
Reserved and rude,
Some harshness shew,
Would wear away,
So bright and green,
Less bright than they,
The thoughtless throng,
More grave than they,
As the green winter of the holly tree. Some of the youthful ballads of Southey were extremely popular. His Lord William,' Mary the Maid of the Inn,' The Well of St. Keyne,' and The Old Woman of Berkeley,' were the delight of most young readers seventy years since. He loved to sport with subjects of diablerie ; and one satirical piece of this kind, The Devil's Thoughts,' the joint production of Southey and Coleridge, had the honour of being ascribed to various persons. The conception of the piece was Southey's, who led off with the following opening stanzas:
From his brimstone bed at break of day
A-walking the devil is gone,
And see how his stock goes on.
And he went over the plain,
As a gentleman switches his cane. But the best and most piquant verses are by Coleridge: one of pl these has passed into a proverb:
He saw a cottage with a double coach-house,
A cottage of gentility;
Is pride that apes humility.
WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR. - This gentleman, the representative of an ancient family, was born at Ipsley Court, Warwickshire, on the 30th of January 1775. He was educated at Rugby School, whence he was transferred to Trinity College, Oxford. His first publication was a small volume of poems, dated as far back as 1795. The poet was intended for the army, but, like Southey, he imbibed republican sentiments, and for that cause declined engaging in the profession of arms. His father .. then offered him an allowance of £400 per annum, on condition, that he should study the law, with this alternative, if he refused, that his income should be restricted to one-third of the sum. The independent poet preferred the smaller income with literature as his companion. He must soon, however, have succeeded to the family estates, for in 1806, exasperated by the bad conduct of some of his tenants, he is said to have sold possessions in Warwickshire and Staffordshire, and pulled down a handsome house he had built. This rash impulsiveness will be found pervading his literature as. well as his life.
In 1808, Mr. Landor joined the Spaniards in their first insurrectionary movement, raising a troop at his own expense, and contributing 20,000 reals to aid in the struggle. In 1815, he took up his residence in Italy, having purchased a villa near Florence. There he lived formany years, cultivating art and literature, but he again returned to England and settled in Bath. The early poetical works of Landor were collected and republished in 1831. They consist of "Gebir,' a sort of epic poem, originally written in Latin (* Gebirus,' 1802), which De Quincey said had for some time “the sublime distinction of having enjoyed only two readers-Southey and himself 'Count Julian,' a tragedy, highly praised by Southey; and various miscellaneous poems, to which he continued almost every year to make additions. “He also 'cultivated private renown,' as Byron said, in the shape of Latin verses and essays, for which the noble poet styled him the “deep-mouthed Baotian, Savage Landor.' This satire, however, was pointless; for as a ripe scholar, imbued with the spirit of antiquity, Mr. Landor transcended most of his contemporaries. His acquirements and genius were afterwards fully displayed in his * Imaginary Conversations,' a series of dialogues published at intervals between 1824 and 1846, by which time they had amounted to one hundred and twenty-five in number, ranging over all history, all times, and almost all subjects. Mr. Landor's poetry is inferior to his prose. In 'Gebir' there is a fine passage, amplified by Wordsworth in his Excursion,' which describes the sound which sea-shells seem to make when placed close to the ear:
But I have sinuous shells of pearly hue
Shake one and it awakens, then apply
In Count Julian,' Mr Landor adduces the following beautiful illustration of grief:
Wakeful he site, and lonely and unmoved,
In the cold light. His smaller poems are mostly of the same meditative and intellectual character. An English scene is thus described:
Clifton, in vain thy varied scenes invite-
My cheeks are moistened by the dews of eve. "The Maid's Lament’is a short lyrical flow of picturesque express sion and pathos, resembling the effusions of Barry Cornwall:
I loved him not; and yet, now he is gone,
I feel I am alone.
Alas! I would not check.
And wearied all my thought
My love could he but live
'Twas vain, in holy ground
I waste for him my breath.
And this lone bosom burns
And waking me to weep
Wept he as bitter tears!
"These may she never share!
Than daisies in the mould.
Where children spell athwart the churchyard gate ,
His name and life's brief date.
And oh! pray, too, for me!
Lucilla asks me what I see,
Enough for me?
Have I not culled as sweet before?
I still deplore.
Where pleasure beams with heaven's own
And not less bright.
Whose chain of flowers no force can sever,
Is gone for ever. Mr. Landor continued to write far beyond his eightieth year. In 1851, he published a pamphlet entitled 'Popery, British and Foreign,' and about this time he contributed largely to the columns of the Examiner' weekly journal. Though living the life of a recluse, he was an accurate observer of public events, and an eager though inconsistent and impracticable politician. In 1853, he issued a volume of essays and poetical pieces, entitled “The Last Fruit off an Old Tree;' and in 1858, another volume of the same kind, called ‘Dry Sticks fagoted by Walter Savage Landor.' For certain grossly indecent verses and slanders in this work, directed against a lady in Bath, the author underwent the indignity of a trial for defamation, was convicted, and amerced in damages to the amount of £1000.
Shortly before this, Mr. Landor had published a declaration that of his fortune he had but a small sum left, with which he proposed to endow the widow of any person who would assassinate the Emperor of the French! Thus poor, old, and dishonoured, Mr. Landor again left England-a spectacle more pitiable, considering his high intellectual
endowments, his early friendships, and his once noble aspirations, * than any other calamity recorded in our literary annals, ‘After some
months of wretchedness at Fiesole,' says a memoir of Landor in the *English Cyclopædia,' 'his friends came to his rescue. A plain but comfortable lodging was found for him at Florence, his surviving brothers undertook to supply an annuity of £200, which Robert Browning generously saw duly employed as long as he remained in Florence. · And thus one more gleam of sunshine seemed to settle on the “old man eloquent." Though deaf and ailing, he continued to find solace in his pen. He wrote and published occasional verses, and