Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

was struck down by the weapons of the neighbouring menat-arms, and while her gray hairs streamed with blood, and her neck was forcibly held down, the axe discharged, at length, its dreadful office. The last victim of all followed in the graceful and gallant person of the young Lord Surrey. The dying tyranny, speechless and incapable of motion, had its hand lifted up to affix the formal seal to the death-warrant of the poet, the soldier, the statesman, and scholar, and on ‘the day of the execution,” according to Hollinshed, was itself lying in the agonies of death.’ Its miserable comfort, then, was the thought that youth was dying too; that the grave which yawned for abused health, indulged lusts, and monstrous crimes had, in the same instant, opened at the feet of manly health, of generous grace, of exquisite genius, and model virtue. And so perished Henry VIII.” We pass on from the long and odious reign of the sire to the short rule of his innocent and tender-hearted Son. “Ring, child, and seraph, blended in the mien Of pious Edward.”f As the mind passes from this detested father to his son— gentle Jane Seymour's gentle son—one cannot but think how it exemplifies the truth which Landor's lines have told :

“Children are what their mothers are.
No fondest father’s wisest care
Can fashion so the infant heart,
As those creative beams that dart,
With all their hopes and fears, upon
The cradle of a sleeping son.

* Forster's Treatise on Popular Progress.
f Wordsworth's Coll. Ed. p. 301.

His startled eyes with wonder see A father near him on his knee, Who wishes all the while to trace The mother in his future face; But 'tis to her alone uprise His wakening arms, to her those eyes Open with joy, and not surprise.” Another copartnership in letters, closer than that of Surrey and Wyatt, and suggesting another kind of associations, may be noticed in that part of the sixteenth century which belongs to the reign of Edward VI. I refer to the first version of the Psalms of David in English metre, produced by two writers—whose names have become the symbols of dulness and clumsy versification—Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins. Undoubtedly the grandeur of the Hebrew Psalmody is very inadequately represented in the flat and prosaic diction and the awkward metres of these two good men; but it should be remembered that a worthy translation of the Psalms into English metre has never yet been achieved; and, indeed, the best judges make question of the possibility of such version. If this old version, three hundred years ago, is rude and uncouth, honourable testimony has been borne to its fidelity to the Hebrew original. The version of later times, now most in use, is at once tame and tawdry, (worse faults than rudeness,) taking, too, larger license with the original, and “generally,” it is said, “sacrificing altogether the direct, lightning-like force of the inspired sentences.” Much of Sternhold and Hopkins' version would 'certainly now so affect the dainty modern ear, as to give a sense of ridicule most incongruous to the theme; but the reproach that rests on the old version may be lightened a little, when we meet with a stanza like this: “The Lord descended from above, and bowed the heavens most high, And underneath his feet he cast the darkness of the sky; On cherub and on cherubim full royally he rode, And on the wings of mighty winds came flying all abroad.”f However rude this version was, it has a claim to respect as the first that fitted to English lips the music of the royal inspired singer; and as the homely verses were, years after, familiarized in the people's devotions, the imagery of the Hebrew poetry was sinking into the hearts of the men of England, and helping to form that sacred character which is the glory of all the highest inspirations of English poetry. . The progress of English prose, as it was slowly advancing to its best estate, appears, at the period I have been speaking of, in the sermons of him whose intrepid spirit and cheerful constancy sustained him in the hour of

* Mr. Tandor's poems are so scattered, and in their modes of publication so fugitive, that they must often be quoted at second-hand. I find these verses marked with my brother's pencil in a little French volume called, “La Petite Chouanerie, ou Histoire d’un Collége Breton sous l'Empire, par A. F. Rio,” p. 296. I am tempted to put on these pages the following lines, by Landor, on Charles Lamb, which appeared during the present year in the Examiner newspaper:

“Candid old man what youth was in thy years
What wisdom in thy levity what truth
In every utterance of that purest soul |
Few are the spirits of the glorified
I’d spring to earlier at the gates of heaven o’ W. B. R.

# Keble.

if Psalm xviii. 9, 10. It is to be observed that more modern paraphrasers of the Psalms have generally shrunk from rendering these verses into their slender English. W. B. R.

martyrdom—Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester. It was in a sermon preached before Edward VI. that he introduced, in accordance with the quaint pulpit-oratory of the times, the well-known illustration of the Goodwin Sands and Tenterden Steeple, in reply to a very common fallacy; and the passage may be quoted to show the character of the prose, which was then equal, at least, to simple purposes of natural narrative : “Here was preaching,” he says, “against covetousness all the last year in Lent, and the next summer followed rebellion; ergo preaching ‘against’ covetousness was the cause of rebellion. A goodly argument “Here, now, I remember an argument of Master More's, which he bringeth in a book that he made against Bilney; and here, by the way, I will tell you a merry toy. Master More was once sent in commission into Kent, to help to try out, if it might be, what was the cause of Goodwin Sands and the shelf that stopped up Sandwich Haven. Thither cometh Master More, and calleth the country afore him—such as were thought to be men of experience, and men that could, of likelihood, best certify him of the matter concerning the stopping of Sandwich |Haven. Among others, came in before him an old man with a white head, and one that was thought to be little less than an hundred years old. When Master More saw this aged man, he thought it expedient to hear him say his mind in the matter; for, being so old a man, it was likely he knew most of any man in that presence and company. So Master More called this old aged man unto him and said, “Father,’ said he, “tell me, if ye can, what is the cause of this great arising of the sands and shelves here about this haven, the which stop it up that no ships can arrive here 2 Ye are the eldest man that I can espy in all this company, so that if any man can tell any cause of it, ye, of likelihood, can say most in it, or, at leastwise, more than any other man here assembled.’ ‘Yea, forsooth, good master,’ quoth this old man, “for I am well-nigh an hundred years old, and no man here in this company any thing near unto mine age.’ ‘Well, them,' quoth Master More, ‘how say you in this matter? What think ye to be the cause of these shelves and flats that stop up Sandwich Haven?’ ‘Forsooth,’ quoth he, ‘I am an old man; I think that Tenterden Steeple is the cause of Goodwin Sands. For I am an old man, sir,’ quoth he, ‘and I may remember the building of Tenterden Steeple, and I may remember when there was no steeple at all there. And before that Tenterden Steeple was in building, there was no manner of speaking of any flats or sands that stopped the haven; and, therefore, I think that Tenterden Steeple is the cause of the destroying and the decay of Sandwich Haven.’ And even so, to my purpose, is preaching of God's word the cause of rebellion, as Tenterden Steeple was cause Sandwich Haven is decayed.” There is one sentence of English words uttered by this same divine, which has a deeper and more enduring interest, and that was when he and Ridley stood in their dread fellowship of martyrdom at the stake; when the fagot, kindled with fire, was brought and laid at Ridley’s feet, Latimer, happy, as the martyr's crown was poised above his brow, on which four-score years had placed their crown of glory, spake in this manner: “Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this

« FöregåendeFortsätt »