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Late, late yestreen I saw the new Moon,
Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence.
1. Well! If the Bard was weather-wise, who made
The grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence,
This night, so tranquil now, will not go hence
Upon the strings of this Eolian lute,
Which better far were mute.
But rimmed and circled by a silver thread,)
The coming on of rain and squally blast.
And the slant night-shower driving loud and fast!
And sent my soul abroad,
A grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear,
A stifled, drowsy, unimpasioned grief,
In word, or sigh, or tear –
All this long eve, so balmy and serene,
And its peculiar tint of yellow green:
And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars,
My genial spirits fail,
And what can these avail To lift the smothering weight from off my breast?
It were a vain endeavour,
Though I should gaze for ever On that green light that lingers in the west : I may not hope from outward forms to win The passion and the life, whose fountains are within.
And would we aught behold, of higher worth,
Ah! from the soul itself must issue forth,
Enveloping the Earth-
A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth,
O pure of heart! thou need'st not ask of me
This beautiful and beauty-making power.
Joy, virtuous Lady! Joy that ne'er was given,
A new Earth and new Heaven
We in ourselves rejoice!
All melodies the echoes of that voice,
VI. There was a time when, though my path was rough,
This joy within me dallied with distress, And all misfortunes were but as the stuff
Whence Fancy made me dreams of happiness :
But oh! each visitation
My shaping spirit of imagination-
But to be still and patient, all I can;
From my own nature all the natural man
This was my sole resource, my only plan : Till that which suits a part infects the whole, And now is almost grown the habit of my soul.
Reality's dark dream!
Which long has raved unnoticed. What a scream
Of agony by torture lengthened out
Bare craig, or mountain-tairn *, or blasted tree,
Methinks were fitter instruments for thee,
Thou Actor, perfect in all tragic sounds!
What tell'st thou now about ?
"Tis of the rushing of a host in rout,
And all that noise, as of a rushing crowd,
A tale of less affright,
And tempered with delight,
'Tis of a little child
Upon a lonesome wild,
'Tis midnight, but small thoughts have I of sleep:
* Tairn is a small lake, generally if not always applied to the lakes up in the mountains, and which are the feeders of those in the valleys. This address to the Stormwind will not appear extravagant to those who have heard it at night, and in a mountainous country.
Visit her, gentle Sleep! with wings of healing,
And may this storm be but a mountain birth,
With light heart may she rise,
O simple spirit, guided from above,
11.-APOPHTHEGMS.-I. [An Apophthegm is properly speaking, a pithy saying. An Aphorism is a precept, or rule of practice. Plutarch made a collection of Apophthegms which are for the most part what we call Anecdotes. Lord Bacon's collection of Apophthegms is almost wholly of the same character. In a preface to this collection our great English philosopher writes as follows:
“Julius Cæsar did write a collection of apophthegms, as appears in an epistle of Cicero: I need say no more for the worth of a writing of that nature. It is pity his work is lost, for I imagine they were collected with judgment and choice; whereas that of Plutarch and Stobæus, and much more the modern ones, draw much of the dregs. Certainly they are of excellent use. They are mucrones verborum, pointed speeches. Cicero prettily calls them salinas, salt pits, that you may extract salt out of and sprinkle it where you will. They serve to be interlaced in continued speech. They serve to be recited, upon occasions, of themselves. They serve, if you take out the kernel of them and make them your own. I have, for my recreation in my sickness, fanned the old, not omitting any because they are vulgar [common), for many vulgar ones are excellent good; nor for the meanness of the person, but because they are dull and flat, and adding many new, that otherwise would have died.”
We shall devote a few Half-hours' to this amusing branch of literature, selecting, without chronological order, from many books :-)