Page images
PDF

THE LAST MAN.
All worldly shapes shall melt in gloom,

The sun himself must die,
Before this mortal shall assume

Its immortality!
I saw a vision in my sleep,
That gave my spirit strength to sweep

Adown the gulf of time !
I saw the last of human mould,
That shall creation's death behold,

As Adam saw her prime!

The sun's eye had a sickly glare,

The earth with age was wan;
The skeletons of nations were

Around that lonely man!
Some had expired in fight,—the brands
Still rusted in their bony hands;

In plague and famine some !
Earth's cities had no sound nor tread;
And ships were drifting with the dead

To shores where all was dumb !

Yet, prophet-like, that lone one stood,

With dauntless words and high,
That shook the sere leaves from the wood

As if a storm pass'd by,
Saying, “ We are twins in death, proud Sun,
Thy face is cold, thy race is run,

'Tis mercy bids thee go. For thou ten thousand thousand years Hast seen the tide of human tears,

That shall no longer flow.

“ What though beneath thee man put forth

His pomp, his pride, his skill ;
And arts that made fire, flood, and earth,

The vassals of his will :
Yet mourn I not thy parted sway,
Thou dim, discrowned king of day;

For all those trophied arts
And triumphs that beneath thee sprang,
Heal'd not a passion or a pang

Entail'd on human hearts.

“ Go, let oblivion's curtain fall'

Upon the stage of men ;
Nor with thy rising beams recal

Life's tragedy again.
Its piteous pageants bring not back,
Nor waken flesh, upon the rack

Of pain anew to writhe ;
Stretch'd in disease's shapes abhorr’d,
Or mown in battle by the sword,

Like grass beneath the scythe.

“ Ev’n I am weary in yon skies

To watch thy fading fire;
Test of all sunless agonies,

Behold not me expire.
My lips that speak thy dirge of death,
Their rounded gasp and gurgling breath

To see thou shalt not boast.
The eclipse of nature spreads my pall,
The majesty of darkness shall

Receive my parting ghost !

“ This spirit shall return to Him

That gave its heavenly spark ;
Yet think not, Sun, it shall be dim

When thou thyself art dark !
No! it shall live again, and shine
In bliss unknown to beams of thine,

By Him recall'd to breath,
Who captive led captivity,
Who robb'd the grave of victory,

And took the sting from Death!

“ Go, Sun, while mercy holds me up

On nature's awful waste,
To drink this last and bitter cup

Of grief that man shall taste;
Go, tell the night that hides thy face,
Thou saw'st the last of Adam's race,

On earth's sepulchral clod;
The dark’ning universe defy
To quench his immortality,

Or shake his trust in God!"

THE SOLDIER'S DREAM.

Our bugles sang truce,- for the night-cloud had lower’d,

And the sentinel stars set their watch in the sky; And thousands had sunk on the ground overpower'd,

The weary to sleep, and the wounded to die,

When reposing that night on my pallet of straw,

By the wolf-scaring faggot that guarded the slain ; At the dead of the night a sweet vision I saw,

And thrice ere the morning I dreamt it again.

Methought from the battle-field's dreadful array,

Far, far I had roam'd on a desolate track; 'Twas autumn,—and sunshine arose on the way

To the home of my fathers, that welcom'd me back.

I flew to the pleasant fields, traversed so oft

In life's morning march when my bosom was young; I heard my own mountain-goats bleating aloft,

And knew the sweet strain that the corn-reapers sung.

Then pledged we the wine-cup, and fondly I swore,

From my home and my weeping friends never to part; My little ones kiss'd me a thousand times o'er,

And my wife sobb’d aloud in her fulness of heart.

Stay, stay with us,-rest, thou art weary and worn ;

And fain was their war-broken soldier to stay : But sorrow return’d with the dawning of morn,

And the voice in my dreaming ear melted away.

BRYAN WALLER PROCTER was born in London: he received his education at Harrow: and on his removal from the school was articled to a solicitor, of the name of Atherton, at Calne, in Wiltshire,-one of the most uninteresting towns in the king

d as having been the residence of Moore, Crabbe, Coleridge, Bowles, and Procter. Mr. Procter continued here about four years, acquiring a knowledge of the profession for which he was intended, and proceeded to the metropolis, where he became the pupil of an eminent conveyancer; and where he applied himself diligently to a pursuit as opposed to that to which his genius inclined him, as can be well imagined. He has since been called to the bar.

Mr. Procter is below the middle size; his countenance is not characteristic of energy, but its expression is peculiarly gentle, and his manners are kindly and conciliating to a degree. There is no living Poet more universally respected and esteemed: he is said to be exceedingly sensitive, and he is evidently averse to force his way to that professional distinction, which the extent of his acquirements might readily achieve for him. Of late. however, he has written but little poetry; and, it is understood, has devoted himself so assiduously to acquire legal knowledge, that, as a chamber counsel, his skill is largely appreciated, and his practice extensive. We trust. he will not long remain known only to the "attorneys;" among his contemporaries he may find at least one instance of fame achieved in the opposite paths of Law and Poetry.

BARRY CORNWALL-for under that name he obtained his fame as a Poet, and he has hitherto published under no other first appeared before the world in the year 1815. His " Dramatic Scenes" at once established a reputation, which he has since sustained by the publication of the “Sicilian Story," “ Marcian Colonna," the “ Flood of Thessaly," the tragedy of “ Mirandola," and various “ Miscellaneous Poems :" and. although we believe he has not yet issued any work in prose, he has afforded proof, in various periodical works, of his large capacity in this department of literature.

Mr. Procter, in an advertisement to his "Dramatic Scenes," states that his leading intention was to try the effect of a more natural style than that which had for a long time prevailed in our dramatic literature." The experiment was successful : he is the undoubted restorer of those quick and natural turns of impulsive dialogue, to which the drama had been a stranger since the times of Beaumont and Fletcher. He cannot be said to equal in energy the older writers, who have been his models, but at times he approaches them very nearly, in deep feeling, in true pathos, and in fine and delicate delineations of human character. One great advantage, also, he possesses in common with them,-earnestness, the reader is made to sympathise deeply with the persons whose sufferings the author depicts: it is singular that nearly all the topics which the Poet has selected for illustration, should have been based upon melancholy; and that he appears always more inclined to the treatment of topics which leave a sadness upon the minds of his readers.

The latest publication of Barry Cornwall is a volume of songs, collected chiefly from the various works in which they had previously appeared. As a song writer, also, he frequently hits those apparently vague, but really subtle, analogies in the feeling of the beautiful which characterise the Old Poets; but if he occasionally rivals them in grace, fancy, and sweetness, he now and then falls into the common error of considering as perfections their artificialities, and their conceits; "preferring the quaint to the natural, and often losing truth in searching after originality." The lyrics of Barry Cornwall are, therefore, however exquisite as small poems, unlikely to make their way among the multitude; and, with few exceptions, have not been received as national songs. We have seen writers far inferior enjoying & much wider popularity: compositions of comparatively little merit have been made familiar as household words, because they treat of matters common to all, in language understood by all, while the admirers of Barry Cornwall have been limited to those who have a refined taste, and a delicate appreciation of what is truly excellent. Our extracts will sufficiently prove the fine and masterly power of the Poet. A sound mind, a rich fancy, a rare and exqui. site skill in dealing with words, and a pure style of versification, is evident in them all. Mr. Procter has, however, kept the promise of his genius. Among the Poets of Great Britain he holds a very foremost rank; if, now that his judgment is matured. he would again essay dramatic composition, he might occupy a station still higher,-and take his undisputed seat beside the glorious creators of a gone-by age, whose fame is imperishable.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

A PERILOUS life, and sad as life may be,
Hath the lone fisher on the lonely sea,
In the wild waters labouring, far from home,
For some bleak pittance e'er compelled to roam !
Few friends to cheer him through his dangerous life,
And none to aid him in the stormy strife :
Companion of the sea and silent air,
The lonely fisher thus must ever fare;
Without the comfort, hope,—with scarce a friend,
He looks through life, and only sees—its end !
Eternal ocean! Old majestic sea !
Ever love I from shore to look on thee,
And sometimes on thy billowy back to ride,
And sometimes o'er thy summer breast to glide :

« PreviousContinue »