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“ This lake I do revisit. As he spoke,
Away died' the music in the firmament,
And unto silence left our parting hour.
No breeze will ever steal from Nature's heart
So sweet again to me.
Whate'er my doom,
It cannot be unhappy. God hath given me
The boon of resignation : I could die,
Tlough doubtless human fears would cross my soul,
Calmly even now ;-yet if it be ordain'd
That I return unto my native valley
And live with Frankfort there, why should I fear
To say I might be happy-happier far
Than I deserve to be. Sweet Rydal lake!
Am I again to visit thee? to hear
Thy glad waves murmuring all around my soul?
Isabel. Methinks I see us in a cheerful groupe
Walking along the margin of the bay
Where our lone summer-house .
Sweet mossy cell !
So cool-so shady-silent and compos’d!
A constant evening full of gentle dreams !
Where joy was felt like sadness, and our grief
A melancholy pleasant to be borne.
Hath the green linnet built her nest this spring
In her own rose-bush near the quiet door?
Bright solitary bird ! she oft will miss
Her human friends: Our orchard now must be
A wilderness of sweets, by none belov’d.
Isabel. One blessed week would soon restore its beauty,
Were we at home. Nature can work no wrong.
The very weeds how lovely! the confusion
Doth speak of breezes, sunshine, and the dew.
Magd. I hear the murmuring of a thousand bees
In that bright odorous honeysuckle wall
That once enclos'd the happiest family
That ever lived beneath the blessed skies.
Where is that family now? O Isabel,
I feel my soul descending to the grave,
And all these loveliest rural images
Fade, like waves breaking on a dreary shore.
Isabel. Even now I see a stream of sunshine bathing
The bright moss-roses round our parlour window !
Oh! were we sitting in that room once more !
Magd. 'Twould seem inhuman to be happy there,
And both my parents dead. How could I walk
On what I used to call my father's walk,
He in his grave! or look upon that tree
Each year so full of blossoms or of fruit
Planted by my mother, and her holy name
Graven on its stem by mine own infant hands!! p. 75–77. This overflowing of innocent hearts is continued with the same sweetness through several pages;--and then they sing their evening hymns together, and pass to the discharge of other duties.
The Third Scene has scarcely any reference to the main agents in the story,--but consists altogether of conversations in the streets on the subject of the wide-wasting pestilence, and the signs by which its approach was announced. There is something very terrific and impressive in the images Mr W. has conjured up for this purpose. The orator of the superstitious gossips demands
-Did any here behold, as I beheld,
That Phantom who three several nights appear'd,
Sitting upon a cloud-built throne of state
Right o'er St Paul's Cathedral? On that throne
At the dead hour of night he took his seat,
And monarch-like stretch'd out his mighty arm
That shone like lightning. In that kingly motion
There seem'd a steadfast threat'ning—and his features,
Gigantic 'neath their shadowy diadem,
Frown'd, as the Phantom vow'd within his heart
Perdition to the City. Then he rose,
Majestic spectre ! keeping still his face
Towards the domes beneath, and disappear'd,
Still threatening with his outstretch'd arm of light,
Into a black abyss behind the clouds.
Voice from the crowd.
• And saw ye not
The sheeted corpses stalking through the sky
In long long troops together--yet all silent,
And unobservant of each other, gliding
Down a dark flight of steps that seem'd to lead
Into the bosom of eternity?
" What sawest thou else ?
3d Man." I have seen hearses moving through the sky!
Not few or solitary, as on earth
They pass us by upon a lonesome road.
But thousands, tens of thousands mov'd along
In grim procession-a long league of plumes
Tossing in the storm that roar'd aloft in heaven,
Yet bearing onwards through the hurricane,
A black, a silent, a wild cavalcade
That nothing might restrain ; till in a moment
The heavens were freed, and all the sparkling stars
Lock'd through the blue and empty firmament!! p. 87, 88.
There is, then, another attempt to portray profligate insensibility and blasphemous daring ;-but the author's heart a. gain fails him, and a few words of mild exhortation from Magdalene melts the whole party into lears of penitential sorrow.
The following scene passes calmly and sorrowfully between Frankfort, his friend, and the Priest, beside the bodies of the innocent sufferers. The Priest decribes the death of MagdaJene's parents, and her heroic devotion since that event.
•_What! though thy Magdalene heretofore had known
Only the name of sorrow, living far
Within the heart of peace, with birds and focks,
The flowers of the earth, and the high stars of heaven
Companions of her love and innocence;
Yet she who in that region of delight,
Slumber'd in the sunshine, or the shelter'd shade,
Rose with the rising storm, and like an angel
With hair unruffled in its radiance, stood
Beside the couch of tossing agony !
As undisturb’d as on some vernal day
Walking alone through mountain-solitude,
To bring home in her arms a new-yean'd lamb
Too feeble for the snow !
I wonder not !
Its beauty was most touching, and I loved
The bright and smiling surface of her soul ;
But I have gazed with adoration
Upon its awful depths profoundly calm,
Seen far down shadowing the sweet face of heaven.'
p. 106, 107. While they are thus discoursing, she enters,—and the loving orphans embrace each other in speechless sorrow and delight. The last scene of this act begins with rather a dull dialogue between a gravedigger and his apprentice, broken off by a brawl and fatal duel in the churchyard, and ends with the funeral of Frankfort's mother.
The Last Act, for there are but three, opens with a quiet conversation between Frankfort's friend and the reverend Priest, in which the latter describes some of the most remarkable effects of the first appearance of the plague.
As thunder quails
Th’ inferior creatures of the air and earth,
So bowed the Plague at once all human souls,
And the brave man beside the natural coward
Walk'd trembling. On the restless multitude,
Thoughtlessly toiling through a busy life,
Nor hearing in the tumult of their souls
The ordinary language of decay,
A voice came down that made itself be heard,
As Death's benumbing fingers suddenly
Swept off whole crowded streets into the grave.
Then rose a direful struggle with the Pest !
And all the ordinary forms of life
Mov'd onwards with the violence of despair.
Wide flew the crowded gates of theatres,
And a pale frightful audience, with their souls
Looking in perturbation through the glare
Of a convulsive laughter, sat and shouted
At obscene ribaldry, and mirth profane.
There yet was heard parading through the streets
War-music, and the soldier's tossing plumes
Mov'd with their wonted pride. O idle show
Of these poor worthless instruments of death,
Themselves devoted! Childish mockery!
At which the Plague did scoff, who in one night
The trumpet silenc'd and the plumes laid low.' p. 119, 120. And a little after
• Silent as nature's solitary glens
Şlept the long streets--and mighty London seem'd,
With all its temples, domes, and palaces,
Like some sublime assemblage of tall cliffs
That bring down the deep stillness of the heavens
To shroud them in the desert. Groves of masts
Rose through the brightness of the sun-smote river,
But all their flags were struck, and
Was lower'd. Many a distant land had felt
The sudden stoppage of that mighty heart.
And as I look'd
Down on the courts and markets, where the soul
Of this world's business once roar'd like the sea,
That sound within my memory strove in vain,' &c. p. 122–3. In this interesting conversation, they are interrupied by the return of Frankfort himself-in a wild access of delirium and fever. He is with difficulty borne home; and the scene sbists to the lonely chamber of Magdalene, where it soon appears. that the same unsparing malady has likewise laid its spell on that sainted creature. After some starts of natural sorrow, she composes herself in blissful gentleness
! O were Frankfort happy!
I now could follow death into the grave
As joyfully as in the month of May
A lamb glides after its soft bleating mother
Into a sunny field of untrod dew. - but hearing of his seizure, she insists upon going instantly to
him; and accordingly arrives in the next scene to still the tossing of his wounded spirit, with her meek eyes and enchanting voice. He recognizes her almost immediately, and regains his perfect recollection; and she says
Is all at once spread over with a calm
More beautiful than sleep, or mirth, or joy !
I am no more disconsolate. We shall die
Like two glad waves, that, meeting on the sea
In moonlight and in music, melt away
Quietly 'mid the quiet wilderness!' p. 147, 148.
She then clasps him in her arms; and he says-
• Thy soft white spotless bosom, like the plumes
Of some compassionate angel, meets my heart !
And all therein is quiet as the snow
At breathless midnight.
A sweet mild voice is echoing far away
In the remotest regions of my
'Tis clearer now and now again it dies,
And leaves a silence smooth as any sea,
When all the stars of heaven are on its breast.
Magd. We go to sleep, and shall awake with God.
Frank. Sing me one verse of a hymn before I die.
One of those hymns you sang long, long ago
On Sabbath evenings! Sob not so, my Magdalene. p. 149. We pity the reader who does not feel the beauty and tbe pathos of those simple expressions. He dies in that pure embrace: and she remains entranced upon his bosom. The Priest says
· See her breath just moves
The ringlets on his cheek! -How lovingly
In her last sleep these white and gentle hands
Lie on his neck and breast!-Her soul is parting!' p. 151. She does not die there, however; but is present at his funeral in the concluding scene. She faints at the edge of his grave, and is thus commiserated by the by-standers.
• That one small grave—that one dead mariner-
That dying Lady—and those word'rous friends
So calm, so lofty, yet compassionate
Do strike a deeper awe into our souls,
A deeper human grief than yon wide pit
With its unnumber'd corpses.
Woe and death
Have made that Angel bright their prey at last !
But yesterday I saw her heavenly face
Becalm a shrieking room with one sweet smile!
For her, old age will tear his boary locks,