Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

An oak and an elm tree stand beside,

And behind does an ash-tree grow, And a willow from the bank above

Droops to the water below.

A traveller came to the well of St. Keyne,

Joyfully he drew nigh,
For from cock-crow he had been travelling,

And there was not a cloud in the sky.

He drank of the water so cool and clear,

For thirsty and hot was he, And he sat down upon the bank,

Under the willow-tree.

There came a man from a house hard by,

At the well to fill his pail ; On the well-side he rested it,

And he bade the stranger hail.

“Now, art thou a bachelor, stranger ? ” quoth he,

“For an if thou hast a wife, The happiest draught thou hast drunk this day

That ever thou didst in thy life.”

“ Or has thy good woman, if one thou hast,

Ever here in Cornwall been ?
For an if she have, I'll venture my life,

She has drunk of the well of St. Keyne."

I have left a good woman who never was here,”

The stranger he made reply; “But that my draught should be the better for that,

I pray you answer me why." “ St. Keyne,” quoth the Cornishman, “many a time

Drank of this crystal well ;
And before the angel summoned her,

She laid on the water a spell.

“If the husband, of this gifted well

Should drink before his wife, A happy man thenceforth is he,

For he shall be master for life.

[ocr errors]

“But if the wife should drink of it first,

God help the husband then !”
The stranger stooped to the well of St. Keyne,

And drank of the water again.

“ You drank of the well, I warrant, betimes,”

He to the Cornishman said ;
But the Cornishman smiled as the stranger spake,

And sheepishly shook his head.

"I hastened, as soon as the wedding was done,

And left my wife in the porch ;
But i' faith she had been wiser than me,

For she took a bottle to church."


Like Wordsworth, Southey was very industrious; he worked in a great many fields, - history, biography, essays,

and fiction. At the outset of his literary career he was poor, but by his work accumulated a fair fortune and collected a fine library. He was as much a radical as Coleridge had been in youth, but became more conservative than either of his friends, and bitterly criticised any difference from the opinions he learned to hold.

It is to be said of the Lake Poets that they were all men of pure lives; strict adherents to principle, whichever way the vane of opinion was set; good husbands, fathers, and friends. In bringing back some of the virtues of an early age of poetry, they brought back none of the vices of that day, and nothing in their career marks the literary man as a Bohemian or social outlaw.



[ocr errors]

UST about the time the Lake Poets were making their first stir in the world of books, THOMAS CAMPBELL,

who was a countryman of Robert Burns, first ap1777-1844

peared in print. He was a youthful poet, only twenty-two, — and his poem, The Pleasures of Hope, was written in that tiresome old rhyming measure used so continually since Dryden and Pope, which the Lake School did so much towards abolishing. The Pleasures of Hope proved a very popular poem, however, and while Wordsworth's

poems fell dead from the press, Campbell's sold four editions in less than a year.

There are strong passages in The Pleasures of Hope, although, as a whole, I think it dull reading. The best lines in it are those which burn with generous anger against the wrongs Poland had suffered when divided among her oppressors and crushed out of being as a nation. Campbell's best poems are his shorter ones, The Mariners of England, Battle of the Baltic, Hohenlinden, The Exile of Erin, and the like. Every schoolboy knows these, as well as Lochiel's Warning, O'Connor's Child, and Lord Ullin's Daughter, which are founded on old stories of the Border. In these shorter songs he has escaped from the bonds of that see-saw rhyme, and his songs and ballads are full of spirit, with a ring in the lines which is like a bugle-sound. You can hear this in Ye Mariners of England, which begins, –

“Ye mariners of England
That guard our native seas,
Whose flag has braved, a thousand years,
The battle and the breeze!
Your glorious standard launch again
To match another foe,
And sweep through the deep
While the stormy winds do blow ;
While the battle rages loud and long,

And the stormy winds do blow."
Still more like martial music is The Battle of the Baltic :

“Of Nelson and the North,
Sing the glorious day's renown,
When to battle fierce came forth
All the might of Denmark's crown,
And her arms along the deep proudly shone ;
By each gun the lighted brand
In a bold, determined hand,
And the prince of all the land
Led them on.

“ Like leviathans afloat
Lay their bulwarks on the brine,
While the sign of battle flew
On the lofty British line :

It was ten of April morn by the chime;
As they drifted on their path
There was silence deep as death,
And the boldest held his breath
For a time.

“ But the might of England flushed

To anticipate the scene ;
And her van the fileeter rushed
O’er the deadly space between.
* Hearts of oak !' our captains cried, when each gun
From its adamantine lips
Spread a death-shade round the ships,
Like the hurricane eclipse
Of the sun.


[blocks in formation]

“ Then Denmark blessed our chief
That he gave her wounds repose;
And the sounds of joy and grief
From her people wildly rose
As Death withdrew his shades from the day;
While the sun looked smiling bright
O’er a wide and woful sight,
Where the fires of funeral light

Died away.

"Now joy, Old England, raise ! For the tidings of thy might,

By the festal cities' blaze,
Whilst the wine-cup shines in light;
And yet, amidst that joy and uproar,
Let us think of them that sleep
Full many a fathom deep,
By thy wild and stormy steep,
Elsinore !"

Such pieces as these, vigorous and dramatic, are admirably adapted for recitation; and hence many of Campbell's minor poems have had wide circulation in reading-books and collections of poetry.

After publishing a volume of short poems, Campbell wrote his Gertrude of Wyoming, a Tale of Pennsylvania. It was written on a tragedy of the war of the American Revolution, in which a savage band, more than half of them Indians, swept down on a little settlement in the valley of the Wyoming, and massacred the villagers, men, women, and babes, without mercy. It was a shameful and bloodthirsty murder, and Campbell, whose sympathies were always passionately on the side of humanity, put his heart into the poem. The heroine is Gertrude, who, murdered by the enemy, dies in her husband's arms. You will see that the poem is in the Spenserian measure :

“A scene of death! where fires beneath the sun,

And blended arms and white pavilions glow;
And for the business of destruction done,
Its requiem the war-horn seemed to blow ;
There, sad spectatress of her country's woe,
The lovely Gertrude, safe from present harm,
Had laid her cheek and clasped her hands of snow

On Waldegrave's shoulder, half within his arm
Enclosed, that felt her heart and hushed its wild alarm.

“But short that contemplation, - sad and short
The pause to bid each much-loved scene adieu,
Beneath the very shadow of the fort,
Where friendly swords were drawn and banners flew;
Ah! who could deem that foot of Indian crew
Was near ? yet there, with lust of murderous deeds,
Gleamed, like a basilisk from woods in view,

The ambushed foeman's eye; his volley speeds,
And Albert, Albert falls! the dear old father bleeds !


« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »