Sidor som bilder

attempt of the office keeper to tempt me by different tickets, and we had nearly left the shop without a purchase, when the clerk, who had been examining different desks and drawers, said to his principal:

"I think, Sir, the matter may be managed if the gentleman does not mind paying a few shillings more. That ticket, 2,224, only came yesterday, and we have still all the shares; one half, one quarter, one eighth, two sixteenths. It will be just the same if the young lady is set upon it."

The young lady was set upon it, and the shares were purchased.

The whole affair was a secret between us, and my father whenever he got me to himself talked over our future twenty thousand pounds-just like Alnaschar over his basket of eggs.

Meanwhile, time passed on, and one Sunday morning we were all preparing to go to church, when a face that I had forgotten, but my father had not, made its appearance. It was the clerk of the lottery office. An express had just arrived from Dublin, announcing that No. 2,224 had been drawn a prize of twenty thousand pounds, and he had hastened to communicate the good news.

Ah, me! In less than twenty years what was left of the produce of the ticket so strangely chosen? What? except a Wedgwood dinner-service that my father had had made to commemorate the event, with the Irish harp within the border on one side, and his family crest on the other! That fragile and perishable ware long outlasted the more perishable money!

And then came long years of toil, and struggle,

and anxiety, and jolting over the rough ways of the world, of which the tilted cart of Dorchester offers a feeble type. But it is a subject of intense thankfulness that, although during those long years want often came very close to our door, it never actually entered; and that those far dearer and far better worth than I, were, more than once, saved from its clutches when it seemed nearest by "something even more fragile and less durable than Mr. Wedgwood's china or the Irish lottery ticket.

Amongst the consolations and encouragements of those years, I may reckon the partial kindness of the late excellent Mrs. Kenyon, for it is to her fancy for my poor writings that I owe not only her own highlyprized friendship, but the thousand good offices of her accomplished husband.

His poems, full as they are of the largest and most liberal views, of refined taste and of harmonious versification, make but a small part of his reputation. I think he generally intends to publish them, but he does actually disperse them amongst his friends before the public has time to find them out, so that they have the grace, freshness, and rarity of gift-books: and his hospitality, his benevolence, and his conversational power are far better known than his verse.

Now this verse has to me a singular charm, particularly "The Rhymed Plea for Tolerance," which is so clear, so scholarly, and so full of strong, manly sense. Only see in how short a space he gives a history of English morals, or perhaps, to speak more accurately, of the morals of English literature, from the Commonwealth to the first French Revolution.

When lofty Charles and ancient Privilege
Of new-mailed liberty first felt the siege,
Then first Old England rather groaned than rang
With godly hymns and Barebones' nasal twang.
But then not less the godless cavalier

Flung his loose ballad on the offended ear;
And still, for so extremes extremes provoke,
Mocked the prim preachment with the ribald joke.

A following century struck a wiser mean;
The mass was then more cheerful, but more clean.
Yet then unprudish Addison could win,
Then Pope deemed raillery unstarched no sin;
Then scornful Swift could frolic with free touch,
And Peachum pleased a race that robbed not much.
Some even have played with Congreve's comic lyre,
Nor felt the tinder temperament take fire.
War with pretence satiric Fielding waged,
Yet thousands read of Blifil unenraged;
(For least who feign are least by banter crost,
'Tis doubtful titles stir the passions most ;)
And follies forth, and forth e'en vices streamed,
Yet man meanwhile was better than he seemed.
Then too our Second George, not overstaid,
Would lead his court to merry masquerade,
And if the mask chance-vices covered there,
"Twas not, as 'neath the Third, life's daily wear.

And Puritans extinct had ceased to rage
And vex with holy war the graceful stage;
And then if Constance, or discrowned Lear,
Had routed some loftier throb or deeper tear;
Or sweet Miranda's purest womanhood
Touched the fine sense of Beautiful and Good;
Or glorious Falstaff, raciest son of earth,
Shook from his sides immeasurable mirth;
Or free Autolycus, as nature free,

Had won to bear his rogueries for his glee;
Even then-no follower of play-scourging Prynne
Denounced, as now, the sympathy for sin.

And then-though Wesley, strong in fervent youth,
Strong in man's weakness, strong in his own truth,
Followers ere long drew round him, Hope and Fear,
Rueful Pretence and Penitence sincere ;

Votaries the most with little to resign,

Rude audience from the workshop or the mine;
And though erewhile at Pride's or Faith's command,
Some titled Dowager would head the band;
(For stimulants still charm fair devotee,
Chapel for church, for writ extempore ;)

And though a court more decent than before,
With cowl and hood court-vices covered o'er,
And cast from Windsor's towers a monkish gloom;
Yet Frankness still had genial air and room,
Free in the main to pray, or sport at will,-
And our dear land was "merry England" still.

But when, as chanced, from limbs and wearied veins,
France, slavery stung, burst body-bands and chains;
Some were rejoiced; some doubted; some were sad;
But all at length allowed her Freedom mad;
Most for our own proclaimed a muzzle right,

Some would have slain, so much they feared the bite.
The danger, seen through mist, loomed large and near,
And Reason, Principles, were lost in Fear.

Then ancient statesmen took their daily range

Round one small spot, and shuddering talked of change;
Or niched, discreet, behind Prescription's shield,

In his own wrong urged Valour to the field.

Wealth, mid his coffers, feared the approaching war,
And ribboned Title trembled for his star;
Vague unused terrors crept upon the brave,
And scarce the scornful Bar its scorn could save.
The ready Pulpit joined the Statesman's game,
And Freedom walked our British soil in shame.

Then follows a magnificent character of Burke, proving how just Mr. Kenyon can be to real greatness in every shade of opinion. The following stanza,

from a beautiful poem called " Upper Austria," has the same rare merit of fairness and candour.

O Liberty! thou sacred name
Whate'er reproach may thee befall,
From judgment just or spiteful blame,
To thee I cling, on thee I call.
And yet thou art not all in all;
And e'en where thou art worshipped less,
In spite of check, in spite of thrall,
Content may spring and happiness.

The spirited and original anacreontic, entitled "Champagne Rose," was composed under very peculiar circumstances. Having improvised, while looking at the bubbles upon a glass of pink champagne, the exceedingly happy line that begins the song, Mr. Kenyon was challenged to complete it on the spot. He undertook to do so within twenty minutes, and accomplished his task, as very few besides himself could have done.

Lily on liquid roses floating

So floats yon foam o'er pink Champagne--
Fain would I join such pleasant boating,
And prove that ruby main,
Floating away on wine!

Those seas are dangerous, greybeards swear,
Whose sea-beach is the goblet's brim;

And true it is they drown old Care,

But what care we for him,

So we but float on wine!

And true it is they cross in pain

Who sober cross the Stygian Ferry;
But only make our Styx Champagne,
And we shall cross right merry,
Floating away on wine!



« FöregåendeFortsätt »