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as evidence in support of them, a vague but universal application of theology and metaphysics, are among the natural characteristics of the school and the time. Lord Macaulay's name is a byword of contempt, Mr. Tennyson is an object of idolatry. Some of these opinions and feelings have maintained themselves or have gained supporters up to the present time; others have probably had their day. But the ability of most of the writers, while it is sufficiently evident in the magazine itself, has been abundantly established since in various departments of art and literature.
The most interesting feature of the collection is the part contributed by Mr. Morris, consisting of a number of romantic tales in the mediæval manner. These are indeed so striking by their originality of style that it is wonderful they did not at least attract the attention of the Saturday critic. We believe that no lover of poetry could read these prose poems without being fascinated by their picturesque scenery and delightful quaintness. The writer shows already in them the narrative facility which is so remarkable in “ Jason” and in the “ Earthly Paradise;" and nothing in his later writings surpasses the best passages of detailed description. It is to be hoped that Mr. Morris will reprint them for the benefit of his present public. We add one specimen from the “ Story of the Unknown Church :"
" The abbey where we built the church was not girt by stone walls but by a circle of poplar-trees, and whenever a wind passed over them, were it ever so little a breath, it set them all a-ripple ; and when the wind was high, they bowed and swayed very low, and the wind, as it lifted the leaves and showed their silvery white sides, or as again in the lulls of it it let them drop, kept on changing the trees from green to white, and white to green ; moreover, through the boughs and trunks of the poplars we caught glimpses of the great golden corn-sea, waving, waving, waving for leagues and leagues; and among the corn grew burning scarlet poppies and blue corn-flowers; and the cornflowers were so blue that they gleamed and seemed to burn with a steady light, as they grew beside the poppies among the gold of the wheat.”
“ The Defence of Guenevere, and other poems, by William Morris," appeared in 1858. For several years—in fact, until Mr. Morris had gained the ear of general readers by his “ Jason ”—this little book remained as nearly as possible unknown. It is difficult to give a reason for this; perhaps Mr. Tennyson's modernizations of the Arthurian cycle of legends had indisposed the public taste for an unreserved representation of the mediæval imaginative world as it was conceived by the people who imagined it. It must also be conceded that the first poem especially is rather difficult and obscure, and that the metre is unmercifully rough and broken. The grey-eyed, passionate queen must defend herself before an unfriendly tribunal of Arthur's knights :
“Her voice was low at first, being full of tears ;
But as it cleared, it grew full, loud, and shrill,
In “ King Arthur's Tomb” the last meeting of Launcelot and Guenevere is described ; and their conversation is full of vivid touches. For instance :
About it shone great tapers with sick flame,
Lay, royal-robed, but stone-cold now and dead."
A dramatic fragment, the subject of which is taken from the partisan warfare in Poictou during the latter days of the English occupation, “ Sir Peter Harpdon's End,” is perhaps the most perfectly realized study of mediæval character in the book. Sir Peter Harpdon is defending a crazy castle in Poictou for the English. He is treacherously attacked by his cousin, Sir Lambert, who has secretly changed sides. The traitor being captured, Sir Peter, after taunting him fiercely with his treachery, orders his lieutenant to cut off his ears, but afterwards, by way of being merciful, offers the alternative of death. Sir Lambert chooses disgrace, and is set free after having suffered his punishment. Shortly after, Sir Peter falls into the hands of the French, with whom Sir Lambert is now in high favour, and meets his end on a French gibbet. The rough cruelty of the times is most vividly presented in combination with the chivalrous sense of honour. “ The Gilliflower" is a tourney-song; the following are two or three stanzas from it :
“A golden gilliflower to-day
I wore upon my helm alway,
Hah! hah ! la belle jaune giroflée.
Although my spear in splinters flew
Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.
Hah! hah ! la belle jaune giroflée.
Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.” But we have no space to say more of these poems. “The Little Tower," “ Shameful Death,” “The Judgment of God,” the terrible “Haystack in the Floods,” are among the best of them. Perhaps “local colour" may not be to the taste of all readers of poetry; here, at any rate, we find it more abundant, and at the same time more accurate, than in any other poetry that we know.
But the interest of even the best mediæval reproductions is limited in degree as well as in extent. Mr. Morris's next poem, “The Life and Death of Jason," published last year, showed that he had renounced his mediæval speciality, and returned into the ranks. He tells us in the opening of Book XVII. what influence it was which led him from the laborious realism of the poems to the improvisatore-like manner of “ Jason.” He says :
“Would that I
These lines are enough in themselves to show that Mr. Morris is not an unworthy disciple of Chaucer; and the whole poem of “Jason” shows that he is so in a sense in which no other poet has ever been so before. He has treated the legend of Jason not in a mediæval manner, but in the way in which the spirit of Chaucer would treat it if he could come to life again. The sweet lapse of the verse's even stream, which keeps up one soothing song to the ear; the little loitering eddies of reflection where all the gentle spirit of the poem seems on tiptoe to move forward again, and yet will not slur the playful pleasures of delay; the tranquil versatility, the unregretful freshness of interest, with which a heart and mind in tune with joyful life move through the scenes which a rare fancy shifts and changes in unwearied activity—these are qualities which might have seemed to be lost and buried with the story-tellers of the East, or with Chaucer and Boccaccio, had not Mr. Morris revived them for our delight.
Never more than now was poetry called upon to give pleasure; never, since Plato wrote poems and called them dialogues, had poetry less chance of being encouraged to bear a part in the severer labours of the understanding. We have no space left in which to hail Mr. Morris' “Earthly Paradise;" and there is the less need, because everything shows that it has already met with an unusual number of appreciating readers. What we have said above of “Jason” is sufficiently descriptive of it: the two works taken together place Mr. Morris, in our opinion, so high among living poets that we decline to approach the invidious question of his precise relative rank.
AN OLD STUDENT OF ENGLISH.
By Professor HENRY MORLEY.
WHEN due attention has been paid to his father, this will be the story of the life of Francis Junius (to the world not scholarly, Dujon) the younger. He was a model student of English in the time of Milton.
Junius the elder, was a man of mark, who died of the plague in 1602. His son, Francis the younger, was then eleven years old, and his own age was fifty-seven. The elder Junius acquired his renown as a theologian of the Reformed Church. He was born at Bourges, and he also was the son of a good scholar, who was of the king's counsel in Bourges, and in favour with Francis I., although a Huguenot. The father of Francis the elder, taught his son at home, with the help of tutors. Those tutors grossly mismanaged the education of a timid boy, who was too modest to make any complaint of their behaviour to him. Too shy for a Court life, unfit for active business in the world, he was urged to become a thorough scholar. He was moved often to tears by his father's acute prophecy of the miseries of civil war that would afflict his country. Already, when studying in Lyons, he narrowly escaped from a popular tumult in which many Huguenots were massacred. When he was sent afterwards to Geneva, the religious war broke out; communications with home were cut off, and he would have starved if he had not been succoured by a poor tailor, also from Bourges, who once had received succour from the house of the Dujons. Yet, that he might not be a burden upon his helper's poverty, the hungry student abstained during four months from all food except just so much every evening as would keep body and soul together. After seven months of the civil war there was truce, and Dujon then was able to receive money from home. Meanwhile he had determined to give up his life to the study of theology. His father opposed this, and called him back to Bourges. While they were arguing by letter, the father was officially sent to inquire as to a popular massacre of Huguenots within their place of worship at Issoudun. There the rabble broke into his lodgings, murdered him, and threw his body out of window. The son then was resolved never again to enter France. He earned his living at Geneva by giving private lessons in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. His health had suffered much by privation of food in the seven months of poverty, and suffered still by the continual privation of rest to which he unwisely condemned himself, believing that he could advance the faster and the farther in his studies by a sacrifice of strength. But he ascribed his weakness to the air of the place, and when the French congregation of the Reformed Church at Antwerp sent to Geneva for a minister, he took upon himself that office, and journeyed to the Netherlands. There he became active in the great religious contest with the force of Spain, in political counsel as well as in preaching. As a Frenchman, he was especially obnoxious to the regency, and Margaret of Parma made several attempts to seize him. Thus he was at last driven to Heidelberg, where he was well received, and ministered in the neighbouring church at Schönau. How he paid a long visit to his mother; how the shy scholar was compelled to follow a campaign with the Prince of Orange, and would have been driven to join another, bitterly against his will, if a beneficent dog had not crippled him opportunely with a sharp bite in the leg; how he was joined with Tremellius in the