Page images

have been brought into notice by mere accident, we cannot resist the conviction, that as many praiseworthy men have passed away, “unhonored and unsung," as ever gained the applause of the world. To their fellow-men it was an incalculable loss, that they were not estimated in life. The loss to themselves we conceive to be less than it is usually regarded by the world. We know that it is painful to notice the neglect with which some whose names have been rescued from forgetfulness, were treated by their cotemporaries. Particularly is it painful, in looking over the history of literary men, to notice the want of sympathy there has ever been between the world and the man of letters; and as we read of the days and nights of wretchedness occasioned to some favorite author by the coldness and indifference of those who should have been his friends, we feel that it is due to his memory that we dwell with tenderness upon his unhappy sate, and speak feelingly of his sorrows. But we must remember that this is a world of suffering and sorrow to all, and that no man has passed a life in it without learning too, by bitter experience, that it is "a world of wrong.” The amount of untold misery doubtless far exceeds that which moves our sympathies; and if God has given to some understandings capable of a larger compass of thought, imaginations susceptible of a livelier delight in contemplating the beauty and sublimity of His works, and hearts of nobler and higher sentiments, than those of their fellow-men, they have the grand elements of happiness within themselves, to which they may turn in the day of adversity,--"adversis perfugium ac solatium." They at least may have the highest and most rational enjoyments of their nature ; and does it become such men to murmur at the allotments of Providence, simply because they are shut out from the notice of the world ? Does it become a man conscious to himself that he is in the possession of such means of the most refined enjoyment, to pine for the poor meed of popular applause ?

Let us not be misunderstood. We would not take from the value of an honorable fame, but contend that it should be only the reward of excellence. We know that the great and the good, whom all men delight to honor, have eagerly desired an “immortality of earthly fame;" but the greatest of them all confessed that though “the last,it was "an infirmity of noble minds." But think you that John Milton, with all his magnanimity, would have relaxed one iota in his endeavors to attain the object of his supreme desire, for the mere purpose of extending his fame? Look in upon the ruling passion of his great heart, as it is laid open in the frankness of familiar correspondence. “Wherever," says he, “I find a man despising the false estimates of the vulgar, and daring to aspire in sentiment, language, and conduct, to what the highest wisdom in every age has taught as most excellent; to him I unite myself by a sort of necessary attachment, and if I am so influenced by nature or by destiny, that by no exertion or labor of mine, I may exalt myself to this summit of worth and honor; yet no powers of heaven or earth shall hinder me to look with reverence and affection upon those who have attained this glory, or appeared in the successful pursuit of it.”

Such were the feelings of a man whose fame none may hope to rival, but whose zeal in cultivating and exercising the noblest qualities of his nature, the humblest may imitate. A man of inferior intellectual power may govern his conduct by the same motives, and be thrilled by the same kind of delight. The best thoughts of the greatest men may animate his own soul-he may

“ hold high converse with the godlike few," although denied admission to what are called the higher scenes of life. He may drink from the same fountains which have quenched the thirst of the great and the good in ages past; and if he do this in common with them, he has a right to feel, that he belongs to that brotherhood of “Nature's noblemen,” whose lives have honored humanity. 'Tis the voice of wisdom which says, “ deserve an honorable remembrance ;'*

“ But if so bent on worldly fame,
That thou must gild thy living name,

And snatch the honors of the game;
“ If failure might thy soul oppress,
And fill thy veins with heaviness,
And make thee love thy kind the less :
“ Pause, ere thou tempt thy hard career,
Thou'lt find the couflict too severe,
And heart will break and brain will sear.
“Content thee with a meaner lot,
Go plough thy field, go build thy cot,
Nor sigh that thou must be forgot.”


When shall we meet again, my friend?

When shall we meet again?
Shall it be when fair Spring time comes laughing on,
When the icy chains from the rills are gone,
When ’neath the warm sunshine they're dancing in glee,
And hurrying on to the chiming sea-
When each songster is trilling its “wood-notes wild,”
And the air is soft, and the breeze is mild-
When the south gale breathes over forest and lea,
And stirs the young leaves of the greenwood tree,

Then shall it be?

When shall we meet again, my friend ?

When shall we meet again ?
Shall it be whon Summer leads the Hours

In a wreathing dance with the Spirit flowers-
When fairies meet in the moonlit dell,
To the silvery sound of an elfin bell-
When the stars look love to the waves below,
And breathe the language they but know-
When all is fair, and bright, and gay,
And each moment glideth in light away,

Then shall it be?

When shall we meet again, my friend ?

When shall we meet again?
Shall it be in Autumn “ brown and sere,”
When murmurs the dirge of the dying year-
In the days which poets "saddest" name-
Yet when woods are fire, and each leaf a flame-
Those glorious days! I love them best,
When in gorgeous hues each grove is drest-
When kindly falls the dreamy sound,
Of hidden streamlets tinkling round-

Then shall it be?

When shall we meet again, my friend?

When shall we meet again?
Shall it be when Winter, icy and chill,
Hath bid the glad song of the bird be still —
When the Storm-King rides on the lowering cloud,
And the howling blast is piping loud-
When the bee and the flower with the sunshine go,
And the heart of Nature is beating low-
When each branch is robed in its glittering sheen,
More dazzling than monarch's crown, I ween-

Then shall it be?

I ken not when we meet, my friend,

Such gift is not for me
One Being alone can our destinies tell,
The Being who ruleth thoso destinies well
To the throne of His mercy, this prayer would I send
When life with its joys and its sorrows shall end
Grant He that we meet in a happier sphere,
Where the een of no angel is dimmed with a tear
In the Eden of God—the home of the blest-
Where the wicked cease troubling, the weary find rest-

There let it be !

B. K. R.


Gray, the poet, in a letter to a friend, says, “I rejoice you have met with Froissart ; he is the Herodotus of a barbarous age : had he but had the luck of writing in as good a language, he would have been immortal.” It may happen, he shall be immortal still.

The great characteristic of Froissart, is his simplicity. Yet it is not the simplicity of Odin and the Northmen, for they were simple as a granite shaft is simple. He had the disposition rather of a child or an old woman. As one may easily gather from his “ Chronicles," he liked gossip and was a firm believer in ghosts. Had he lived in our times, he would have passed a grave-yard by night with chattering teeth, and hair on end, and brought home, perhaps, a long account of the ghost he had seen. A good story was, above every thing else, his chief delight. Hour after hour he spent in the baronial castles of France, drinking in with eagerness the accounts the knights gave of their adventures. I can see him now, as he sat with gaping mouth, looking full in the face of the narrator, who is describing the ghosts that haunt the castle. The fire is burning brightly, and Froissart's seat is in the huge chimney corner. The wine flask is by his side, yet his courage is weak; his eyes at moments wander anxiously around, and he even casts a glance up the chimney, that no spirit steal on him unawares. Trembling he leaves towards midnight his snug seat, and steals along the corridor to his own apartment, to forget his fears in sleep.

Restless too was he, and a great wanderer. He spent his life in traveling from castle to castle, and from city to city, that he might gather materials for his history from the knights and brave men he always met there. In the preface to his book he himself says, “ I have frequented the company of many noblemen and gentlemen, as well in France as in England and Scotland and other countries, from whose acquaintance I have always requested accounts of battles and adventures, especially since the battle of Poictiers, where King John of France was taken prisoner.” But in all his journeyings he never forgot his own personal comfort. He loved the luxury and almost royal magnificence in which the nobles and many of the knights lived in that age. He was always happiest when it was his lot to be where every want of his would be supplied, often estimating his host by the extent of his host's larder. He was also of an amorous disposition, and once loved deeply, though not “ too well.” He has lest a few love songs, which are only valuable as illustrations of his state of feeling at this time. Imagine him then no poor monk, emaciated by frequent fastings,

“ Pale as is a poor pining ghost," but realizing Chaucer's vivid description of the Abbot and the Friar :

“ His head was bald and shone like any glass,

And eke his face as it had been anoint.
He was a lord full fat and in good point;
His eyes were deep and rolling in his head,
Which steamed as doth a furnace melting lead:
And certainly his note was blithe and gay,
Well could he sing and on the psaltery play.
In songs and tales the prize o'er all bore he.
His neck was white as is the fleur de lis.
Strong was he also as a champion,
And knew the taverns well in every town,
And every ostler there and tapster gay,
Much more than he knew beggars by the way.
Nor dealt with knaves and scrubs who have but little,
But all with rich and those who have good victual !".

But with all his imperfections, let us not despise him. His virtues were many, while his vices were the vices of almost every knight who wandered through the country in search of adventures. He was kind, and sympathized deeply with the sufferings of the poor. He severely blamed the wanton cruelties of the Black Prince, though in this his voice alone was raised. He was affable and entertaining in conversation, and wherever he went was gladly received, for the simplicity which he exhibited in every motion and word, gained the good will of all. Above every thing else, let us respect and thank him for the his. tory he has left us—in many points the most interesting one we have.

We turn now to speak of his Chronicles.

The first two volumes are by far the most interesting, whether because the narrative in itself is more exciting, or because one becomes tired of the extreme length of the book, I am at a loss to determine. But that which distinguishes them from most other histories, is the vividness with which every event, even the least important, is described. Indeed, the book is little more than a series of pictures, drawn by a master's hand. Froissart mingles no philosophical reasonings with his narrative, and seldom moralizes on the events he narrates. His book is in every sense a mere “ Chronicle.” It is written in an unaffected way, and every page is stamped with his good-humored garrulity and simplicity. But once give yourself to his guidance, and he will lead you like a child, wherever he will. Perhaps two armies have met, and a battle is unavoidable. The scene he reveals to you is something like this. It is the evening before the day of strife.' The servants are hurrying to and fro, preparing for the morrow. The armorers, whose forms are dimly revealed by the glowing forges, are busy at their work, for wo to that man whose armor fails him in battle. By the side of his tent, a little apart from the din, a knight perhaps is standing. He looks up to the stars, and sadness steals er his heart, when he thinks he may never look upon them again, nor on his home, nor on the face of her he loves." But his

« PreviousContinue »