LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Poems by Others

Vol. I. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Introductory
Ch. 2: Childhood
Ch. 3: Boyhood
Ch. 4: London
Ch. 5: Companions
Ch. 6: The Cypher
Ch. 7: Edinburgh
Ch. 8: Edinburgh
Ch. 9: Excursion
Ch. 10: Naval Services
Ch. 11: Periodical Press
Ch. 12: Periodical Press
Ch. 13: Past Times
Ch. 14: Past Times
Ch. 15: Literary
Ch. 16: War & Jubilees
Ch. 17: The Criminal
Ch. 18: Mr. Perceval
Ch. 19: Poets
Ch. 20: The Sun
Ch. 21: Sun Anecdotes
Ch. 22: Paris in 1814
Ch. 23: Paris in 1814
Ch. 24: Byron
Vol. I. Appendices
Scott Anecdote
Burns Anecdote
Life of Thomson
John Stuart Jerdan
Scottish Lawyers
Sleepless Woman
Canning Anecdote
Southey in The Sun
Hood’s Lamia
Murder of Perceval
Vol. II. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary
Ch. 2: Mr. Canning
Ch. 3: The Sun
Ch. 4: Amusements
Ch. 5: Misfortune
Ch. 6: Shreds & Patches
Ch. 7: A Character
Ch. 8: Varieties
Ch. 9: Ingratitude
Ch. 10: Robert Burns
Ch. 11: Canning
Ch. 12: Litigation
Ch. 13: The Sun
Ch. 14: Literary Gazette
Ch. 15: Literary Gazette
Ch. 16: John Trotter
Ch. 17: Contributors
Ch. 18: Poets
Ch 19: Peter Pindar
Ch 20: Lord Munster
Ch 21: My Writings
Vol. II. Appendices
The Satirist.
Authors and Artists.
The Treasury
Morning Chronicle
Chevalier Taylor
Foreign Journals
Vol. III. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary Pursuits
Ch. 2: Literary Labour
Ch. 3: Poetry
Ch. 4: Coleridge
Ch 5: Criticisms
Ch. 6: Wm Gifford
Ch. 7: W. H. Pyne
Ch. 8: Bernard Barton
Ch. 9: Insanity
Ch. 10: The R.S.L.
Ch. 11: The R.S.L.
Ch. 12: L.E.L.
Ch. 13: L.E.L.
Ch. 14: The Past
Ch. 15: Literati
Ch. 16: A. Conway
Ch. 17: Wellesleys
Ch. 18: Literary Gazette
Ch. 19: James Perry
Ch. 20: Personal Affairs
Vol. III. Appendices
Literary Poverty
Ismael Fitzadam
Mr. Tompkisson
Mrs. Hemans
A New Review
Debrett’s Peerage
Procter’s Poems
‣ Poems by Others
Poems by Jerdan
Vol. IV. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Critical Glances
Ch. 2: Personal Notes
Ch. 3: Fresh Start
Ch. 4: Thomas Hunt
Ch. 5: On Life
Ch. 6: Periodical Press
Ch. 7: Quarterly Review
Ch. 8: My Own Life
Ch. 9: Mr. Canning
Ch. 10: Anecdotes
Ch. 11: Bulwer-Lytton
Ch. 12: G. P. R. James
Ch. 13: Finance
Ch. 14: Private Life
Ch. 15: Learned Societies
Ch. 16: British Association
Ch. 17: Literary Characters
Ch. 18: Literary List
Ch. 19: Club Law
Ch. 20: Conclusion
Vol. IV. Appendix
Gerald Griffin
W. H. Ainsworth
James Weddell
The Last Bottle
N. T. Carrington
The Literary Fund
Letter from L.E.L.
Geographical Society
Baby, a Memoir
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I. page 232.
By J. Read.
Threescore and ten I can remember well,
Within the volume of which time I’ve seen
Hours dreadful, and things strange; but this sore night
Hath trifled former knowings.—Macbeth.
Whose flag has braved, a thousand years,
The battle and the breeze.—Campbell.
The sun went down in splendour—as he went
A crimson glory streak’d the Occident,
Lingering like hope: and clouds were floating, bright
As ruby islands in a sea of light:
Awhile they wore all hues—then wavering, weak,
Waned like the blush that warms a virgin’s cheek,
Till all was lost: then Twilight drew her hood,
Dropp’d with pale stars; and scowling Darkness stood,
Like a dim spectre, on the Eastern hill,
Vestured in clouds, and lingering there until
His hour had come: then sobbing gusts plain’d by—
The vex’d wave flung his silver crest on high—
The sea-gull shriek’d on rapid-wheeling wing—
The steed prick’d up his ear, as hearkening
To far, far sounds—neigh’d, started, toss’d his head
Then, bounding off, gazed fierce and spirited;
The watch-dog bay’d; the patient steer drew nigh—
There was a calm petition in his eye;
Unsocial birds forsook the wild woods far,
And peck’d and flutter’d at the lattice bar—
Nought breath’d untroubled—
* * * * * *
Hark! the ruffian squalls
Rock to their base those bastion-circled walls,
Whose towery crown, by time or siege unbow’d,
Frowns on the deep, and stays the passing cloud.
* * * * * *
How baleful dark! tho’ brief an hour be gone
Since, thro’ the bright-edged rack that hurried on,
The Moon look’d out unsullied: while I gazed,
Athwart her path the vivid meteor blazed;
And, as that herald of the brooding gale
Wing’d noiseless on, her crescent brow wax’d pale:
She heard the rebel deep disown her sway
And, like offended Beauty, turn’d away.
Then swoop’d the winds which hurl the giant oak
From Snowdon’s altitude;—the thunder broke
In deep, percussive, peals—so near, that earth
Shook as it threaten’d a volcano’s birth:
And, while the angled lightning quiver’d by
(Like types of a celestial tongue) the eye
Recoil’d within itself—oppress’d and awed—
As tho’ it saw the written wrath of God
Gleam on the black and cloud-leaf book of Night,
In letters of unutterable light!
* * * * * *
It seems as Ocean, weary of repose,
With all his storms, in bold rebellion rose,
To bow that Flag, obey’d where’er it veers,
Which braved their fury for a thousand years!
Yet, Ocean! thou hast been our friend—tho’, thus
Convulsed with rage, the eye grows tremulous
That gazeth on thee! as might one, whose skill
Had brought by spells some spirit to his will,
Start—each deep wish indulged—to find it turn
In wrath upon himself, and fiercely spurn
The bondage it had brook’d. Thy mighty arm
Was stretch’d between us and the locust-swarm
That made all earth an Egypt! our Ally
When none beside was our’s—and Destiny
Had doom’d us Ishmael’s lot, opposing thus
Our hand to all, and every hand to us!
And thou hast borne us thro’—triumphant borne—
The sun of glory spotless and unshorn!
Those days of strife-—tho’ not their memory—cease,
And all, but only thou, repose in peace:
Alas! ere ebbs this barrier-trampling tide,
The throb of many a temple shall subside;
And beating hearts which sicken at thy roar,
Be hush’d to rest—and palpitate no more!
* * * * * *
Now faint, and far, comes on the wail of death—
Heard as the tempest seems to pause for breath;
And now the sheeted levin glares upon
A peopled deck, that idly hopes to shun
Those ambush’d banks o’er which the breakers rave—
A crash—a shriek—the ocean is their grave!
Would that owe victim might appease the blast!
Oh no—the cry of death is deepening fast;
And minute-guns, above the surging swell,
Boom on the gale the Pilot’s passing-bell!
And there be some to whom this morning’s sun
Reveal’d the cliffs their thoughts had dwelt upon
Through exiled years; and bade, all peril past,
The warm heart hail its native hills at last—
As fair to-morrow’s sun those hills may greet,
But then the surf shall be their winding-sheet!
And there be others struggling with the spite
Of warring elements, whose souls were bright
To mark, at evening’s close, the little space
Which but delay’d Affection’s bland embrace;
And now they roll the aching eye-ball round,
And meet but death—the drowning and the drown’d:
Yet fond, fair arms shall yield the clasp they sought—
Yea, wildly clasp,—but they shall heed it not!
* * * * * * *

O, I have suffer’d
With those that I saw suffer! a brave vessel,
Who had, no doubt, some noble creatures in her,
Dash’d all to pieces. O, the cry did knock
Against my very heart—poor souls, they perish’d!
* * * * * *
. . . . . Not a soul
But felt a fever of the mad, and play’d
Some tricks of desperation.—Tempest.
How many now are pondering o’er the lot
Of friends afar—Unthought of, half, forgot,
Till this compassion-waking moment brings
Their image back, with all their sufferings!
The haughty Maid recals the youth she drove
To seek a grave for ill-requited love—
Sees all the worth she would not see before,
And bears in turn the agonies he bore.
A Father brings the outcast boy to mind
His sternness forced to brave the waves and wind;
Alas, too late compunction wrings his breast,—
His child hath rested—where the weary rest!
Yes, tho’ while present those we loved might err
In many actions—tho’ the mind prefer
A stranger at the moment, for some boon
Of nature, chance, or art, which falls in tune
With passing whim—yet, like the butterfly
(Whose wings grow dim by handling) presently
Their gloss is gone; and then our thoughts recal
Worth overlook’d, and let each failing fall
To deep oblivion. Yes, the sun that parted
In clouds, will shine when we are softer-hearted!
And absence softens hearts; and time hath pow’r
To clear those clouds which stain’d a peevish hour—
Call recollections from their pensive gloom,
Like kind, but injured spectres from the tomb—
Accusing with their smiles. Oh, this should move
The soul to those it loves—or ought to love;
’Twould bar reproach!
Yet, ’tis not always fair
To read the bosom thro’ the eye—for there
A sleepless, an untold-of worm may lurk,
And do, although it ’plain not, deadly work;
And make men seem unkind to those whom heaven
Hath heard them plead for, when the heart was riven
With its own griefs. If such are breathing, sure
Life lends no joy?—they live not—they endure—
And (were there not a world beyond this scene)
Than thus to be ’twere better not have been!
* * * * * *
Flash courses flash! the war-ship’s mast is shiver’d—
Smote by the cloud-sped bolt that o’er it quiver;d!
A broader flame the midnight blackness broke—
Her magazine receives the thunder-stroke;
And fires that vault which stars no longer pave,
As though a sun were bursting from the wave!
Bewildering, giddy glare! the echoes reel
From cliff to cliff, replying to the peal
That red explosion rang along the sky;
It seem’d as if its cloud-voiced potency
Surprised the rocks to utterance! the bay
Heaved liquid flame beneath the sudden day,
Whose dawn was death: and some, who cursed tho night,
Hid their pale eyes from that appalling light.
* * * * * *
Sped by her star a gallant ship drew near
The signal-shot flash’d frequent from her tier—
She struck, and stagger’d, in her mid career;
Then, swift as thought, her fragments strew’d the spray,
As some enchanted castle melts away!
* * * * * *
A crowded skiff was labouring for the land—
The wreck they fled drove mastless and unmann’d.
Bold the attempt, but fruitless, to elude
The swiftly rolling billows which pursued:
Their bark had rubb’d the sand, but fail’d to reach
Ere mountain waves broke o’er it on the beach,
And dash’d them to the earth:—they rise—they spring—
Vain as the wounded plover’s fluttering!
For, oh! as if some sea-fiend mock’d their toil,
The big wave caught them in its swift recoil.
One youth was left—the lightning as it sped
Show’d those who baulk’d the sea-dog of the dead,
Fling forth the coil he shivering grasp’d—and now,
While some shade back the tangle from his brow,
An age-worn man that freezing eye surreys,
Where life late play’d—alas, no longer plays!
Smites his scathed breast—and cries (in tones which speak
The heart’s last burst of anguish ere it break)
“How have I sigh’d to hail thy wanderings done—
And meet we thus at last—my son! my son!”
* * * * * *
The storm relents not—as the tiger’s mood
Becomes blood-thirsty by the taste of blood,
It growls for other victims! Hast thou been
The near spectator of a ship-wreck scene?
Heard the unanswer’d cry of sore distress?
Mark’d the strong throes of drowning eagerness?
The body madden’d by the spirit’s pain?
The wild, wild working of the breast and brain?
The haggard eye that horror-widen’d, sees
Death take the start of sorrow and disease?
For such were heard and seen—so close at hand,
A cable’s length had reach’d them from the land;
Yet, farther off than ocean ever bore—
Eternity between them and the shore!
Some sought the beach with many a sob and strain,
But felt each sinew fetter’d by a chain
Which dragg’d them writhing down: a secret hand
Buoy’d others up, and cast them on the land—
Miraculously saved! a few were there
Who pray’d with fervent, and confiding pray’r—
Alas, too few! the many still would cling
To toil and tears—to life and suffering;
And some, whose anguish might not brook to wait
That shunless doom, plunged headlong to their fate:
Yet nature struggled till the last thick gasp;
It was a misery to see them grasp
The sliding waves, and clench the hand, and toil
Like a spent eagle in the whirlwind’s coil—
Till, dash’d against some floating spar or mast,
On Ocean’s rocking couch they slept at last.
Pale, panic-struck, the youth falls prostrate—reft
Of senses that had madden’d were they left:
The harden’d fool, whose life of enterprise
Long verged on death, in drunken frenzy dies:
And helpless woman’s wail, upon the wave,
Pleads at the heart which yearns in vain to save.
But there were some, in hopelessness of soul,
Who pined at heart to reach the destined goal;
Yes, long had spurn’d the load of life unawed,
But dared not rush uncall’d before their God:—
Or haply, pride, which trembled at a stain,
Or, haply love for those they would not pain,
Had moved to give the fatal purpose up—
Unedged the steel, and spill’d the poison-cup:
These, bitter days, soul-racking nights had tried—
And ’scaped, perchance, the curse of suicide.

How like a younker, or a prodigal,
The scarfed bark puts from her native bay,
Hugg’d and embraced by the strumpet wind!
How like the prodigal doth she return;
With over-weatherd ribs, and ragged sails,
Lean, rent, and beggar’d by the strumpet wind!
An anxious, lingering, perilous voyage past,
An India ship hail’d Albion’s land at last!
Moor’d in the Downs, her mighty pinions close
Like some far-flying bird that sought repose;
While, crowding on the deck, a hundred eyes
Turn’d shoreward—flush’d with pleasure and surprise.
That eve they anchor’d, from th’ horizon’s hem
The virgin Moon, as if to welcome them,
Rose from her rest—but would no more reveal
Than the faint outline of her pale profile;
Tho’ soon (as maids forego their fears) she gave
Her orbed brow to kiss the wanton wave
Till—like a scornful lover, swoln by pride,
Because too fondly loved to be denied,
The rude wave spurn’d her off, and raised that loud
And angry blast which scream’d through sail and shroud,
The live-long night on which my harp is dwelling.
Meanwhile, the swarthy crew, each care dispelling,
Had sported thrice three summer suns away
Since they had cast their anchor in the bay.
Oh, none save Fortune’s step-sons, doom’d to roam
The deep, can prize a harbour and a home!
The temperate breeze their sun-bronzed temples blessing—
A native shore the gladden’d eye refreshing—
The painted pinnace dancing from the land
Freighted with friends—the pressure of the hand
Whose pulse throbs happy seconds—the warm gush
Of blood into the cheek, as it would rush
With the heart’s welcome ere the tongue could half
Perform its office—feeling’s telegraph!
Impassion’d smiles, and tears of rapture starting—
Oh, how unlike the tears which fell at parting!
And all were theirs—that good ship’s gallant crew—
As tho’ each joy which absence render’d due
Were paid in one bright moment: such are known
To those long sever’d, loving, loved, alone!
* * * * * *
A gorgeous freight that broad-sail’d vessel bore—
The blazing diamonds and the blushing ore;
Spices that sigh’d their incense, till the sails
Were fann’d along on aromatic gales
From Orient lands. Then marvel not if he
Who there is chief should look exultingly
Back on the storms he baffled, and should know
The bosom’s warmest wildest overflow
While gazing on the land which laugh’d before him—
The smooth sea round—the blue pavilion o’er him!
Yet felt he more than ever sprang from these,
For love demanded deeper sympathies;
And long in lonely bower had sigh’d for him
A fond fair Bride, whose infant Cherubim
Oft spirit-clouded from its playthings crept,
To weep beside its mother while she wept.
But, oh, they met at length! And such sweet days
Already proved as leave a light which plays
Upon the memory when their warmth is gone—
The fount thus treasures sunbeams, and shines on
Thro’ dusk and darkness. Like some happy mother,
Joy mark’d the hours pursuing one another—
A wreath of buoyant angels! Yet, as they
Wheel’d laughing round, oft sigh’d—to make them stay!
* * * * * *
This was a day of banqueting on board;
And swan-wing’d barks, and barges many-oar d
Came crowded to the feast. The young—the gay—
The beautiful—were there. Right merrily
The pleasure boats glide onward—with swift prow
The clear wave curling, till around each bow,
With frequent flash, the bright and feathery spray
Threw mimic rainbows at the sun in play.
The ship is won, the silken chair is lower’d—
Exulting Youth and Beauty bound on board;
And, while they wondering gaze on sail and shroud,
The flag flaps o’er them like a crimson cloud.
* * * * * *
Young Pleasure kiss’d each heart! from Persia’s loom
An ample awning spread its purple bloom
To canopy the guests; and vases, wreathed
With deep-hued flowers and foliage, sweetly breathed
Their incense, fresh as zephyrs when they rove
Among the blossoms of a citron grove:
Soft sounds (invisible spirits on the wing)
Were heard and felt around them hovering:
In short, some magic seem’d to sway the hour,
The wand-struck deck becomes an orient bower!
A very wilderness of blushing roses,
Just such as Love would chuse when he reposes.
The pendant orange from a lush of leaves
Hangs like Hesperian gold; and, tied in sheaves,
Carnations prop their triple coronals:
The grape, out-peeping from thick foliage falls
Like cluster’d amethysts in deep festoons;
And shells are scatter’d round which Indian moons
Had sheeted with the silver of their beams:
But O, what, more than all, the scene beseems,
Fair, faultless forms, glide there with wing-like motion—
Bright as young Peris rising from the ocean!
* * * * * *
Eve darken’d down—and yet they were not gone;
The sky had changed—the sudden storm came on!
One waved on high a ruby-sparkling bowl—
Youth, passion, wine, ran riot in his soul:
“Fill to the brim,” he cried, “let others peer
Their doubtful path to heaven—my heaven is here!
This hour is mine, and who can dash its bliss?
Fate dare not darken such an hour as this!”
Then stoop’d to quaff—but (as a charm were thrown)
His hand, his lips, grew motionless as stone:
The drunkness of his heart no more deceives—
The thunder growls, the surge-smote vessel heaves;
And, while aghast he stared, a hurrying squall
Rent the wide-awning, and discover’d all!
Across their eyes the hissing lightning blazed—
The black wave burst beside them as they gazed;
And dizzily the thick surf scatter’d o’er them;
And dim and distant loom’d the land before them;
No longer firm—the eternal hills did leave
Their solid rest, and heaved, or seem’d to heave!
O, ’twas an awful moment—for the crew
Had rashly, deeply drank, while yet they knew
No ruling eye was on them—and became
Wild as the tempest! peril could not tame—
Nay, stirr’d their brutal hearts to more excess;
Round the deserted banquet-board they press,
Like men transform’d to fiends, with oath and yell:
And many deem’d the sea less terrible
Than maniacs fiercely ripe for all, or aught,
That ever flash’d upon a desperate thought!
Strange laughter mingled with the shriek and groan—
Nor woman shrank, nor woman wept alone.
Some, as a bolt had smote them, fell—and some
Stared haggard wild—dismay had struck them dumb.
There were of firmer nerve, or fiercer cast,
Who scowl’d defiance back upon the blast—
Half scorning in their haughty souls to be
Thus pent and buffetted. And tenderly,
Even then, to manly hearts fair forms were drawn,
Whose virgin eyes had never shed their dawn
Before—soft, beautifully shy—to flush
A Lover’s hope; but, as the Dove will rush
Into the school-boy’s bosom to elude
The swooping goshawk—woman, thus subdued,
Will cling to those she shunn’d in lighter mood—
The soul confess emotions but conceal’d—
Pure, glowing, deep, tho’ lingeringly reveal’d;
That true camelion which imbibes the tone
Of every passion-hue she pauses on!
O, ’tis the cheek that’s false—so subtly taught
It takes not of its colour from the thought;
But, like volcanic mountains veil’d in snow,
Hides the heart’s lava, while it works below!
And there were two who loved, but never told
Their love to one another: years had roll’d
Since Passion touch’d them with his purple wing,
Tho’ still their youth was in its blossoming.
Lofty of soul, as riches were denied,
He deem’d it mean to woo a wealthy bride:
And (for her tears were secret) coldly she
Wreathed her pale brow in maiden dignity.
Yet each had caught the other’s eye reposing—
And, far as looks disclose, the truth disclosing;
But when they met, pride check’d the soul’s warm sigh,
And froze the melting spirit of the eye—
A pride in vulgar hearts that never shone;
And thus they loved, and silently loved on.
But this was not a moment when the head
Could trifle with the heart! the cloud which spread
Its chilling veil between them, now had past—
Too long awaking—but they woke at last!
He rush’d where clung the fainting fair one—sought
To soothe with hopes he felt not, cherish’d not:
And, while in passionate support he prest,
She raised her eyes—then swiftly on his breast
Hid her blanch’d cheek—as if resign’d to share
The worst with him—nay, die contented there.
That silent act was fondly eloquent,
And to the youth’s deep soul, like lightning, sent
A gleam of rapture—exquisite yet brief
As his (poor wretch) that in the grave of grief
Feels Fortune’s sun burst on him, and looks up
With hope to heaven—forgetful of the cup,
The deadly cup his shivering hand yet strain’d—
A hot heart pang reminds him—it is drain’d!
Away with words! for when had true love ever
A happy star to bless it?—Never, never!
And oh, the brightest after-smile of Fate
Is but a sad reprieve, which comes—too late!
* * * * * *
The riot shout peal’d on—but deep distress
Had sunk all else in utter hopelessness:
One mark’d the strife of frenzy and despair—
The most concern’d, and yet the calmest there;
In bitterness of soul beheld his crew—
He should have known them, and he thought he knew;
The blood-hound on the leash may fawn, obey—
Hell tear thee, should’st thou cross him at his prey!
One only trust survives a—doubtful one—
But oh, how cherish’d, every other gone!
“While hold our cables, fear not”—As he spoke
A sea burst o’er them, and their cables broke!
Then, like a lion bounding from the toil,
The ship shot thro’ the billows’ black recoil:
Urged by the howling blast—all guidance gone—
They shuddering felt her reeling, rushing on—
Nor dared to question where, nor dared to cast
One asking look—for that might be their last!
* * * * * *
What frowns so steep in front—a cliff? a rock?
The groaning vessel staggers in the shock!
The last shrieks rise * * *
* * * Hark! whence that voice they hear
Loud o’er the rushing waters—loud and near?
Alas, they dream—’tis but the ocean roar—
Oh no, it echoes from the swarming shore!
Kind Heaven! thy hand was there: with swelling bound
The vast waves heaved the giant hull aground;
And, ebbing with the turning tide, became,
Like dying monsters, impotent and tame.
Wedged in the sand their chafing can no more
Than lave her sides, and deaden with their roar
The clamorous burst of joy. But some there were
Whose joy was voiceless as their late despair—
Whose heavenward eyes, clasp’d hands, and streaming cheeks,
Did speak a language which the lip ne’er speaks!
O, he were heartless, in that passionate hour,
Who could not feel that weakness hath its power,
When gentle woman, sobbing and subdued,
Breathed forth her vow of holy gratitude,
Warm as the contrite Mary’s when forgiven—
An angel smiled recording it in heaven!

O heavens! is’t possible a young maid’s wits
Should be as mortal as an old man’s life?
Nature is fine in love: and, where ’tis fine,
It sends some precious instance of itself
After the thing it loves.
He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone;
At his head a grass-green turf,
At his heels a stone. Hamlet.
’Tis midnight. Eyeless Darkness, like a blind
And haggard witch, with power to loose and bind
The spirits of the elements at will,
Draws her foul cloak across the stars, until
Those demons she invoked to vex the waves
Have dived and hid them in their ocean-caves:
And they are fled—though still the mighty heart
Of Nature throbs: and now that hag doth start
(Her swarth cheek turning pale in bitter spite)
For thro’ her brow she feels the cold moonlight
Shoot like a pain, as on a western hill
The setting Planet of the night stood still,
Just parted from a cloud: no more the blast
Wail’d, like a naked spirit rushing past,
As tho’ it sought a resting-place in vain:—
The storm is lull’d: and yet, it is a pain
To tell what wreck and ruin strew’d the shore—
Each wave its freight of death or damage bore!
Here, stain’d and torn, a royal flag was cast;
There lay a broken helm, a shatter’d mast;
And oh, the saddest relic of the storm,
Yon wave conveys a seaman’s lifeless form!
* * * * * *
’Tis morn—the waning mists with shadowy sweep
Draw their cold curtains slowly from the deep:
’Tis morn—but gladness comes not with her ray:
The bright and breathing scene of yesterday
Is gone, as if that swift consuming wing
Had brush’d the deep which smote Assyria’s king,
And left his Host, like sear leaves, withering!
The sea swells full, but smooth—to Passion’s thrill,
Tho’ spent her tempest, heaves the young heart still:
A bleakness slumbers o’er it—here and there
Some desolate hull, forsaken in despair,
Drives idly, like a friendless outcast thing
“Which still survives the world’s abandoning:
Where are her sails—her serried tiers’ display—
Her helm—her wide flag’s emblem’d blazonry—
Her crew of fiery spirits—where are they?
* * * * * *
Far scatter’d groups, dejected, hurried, tread
The beach in silence, where the shipwreck’d dead
Lie stiff and strain’d: among them (humbling thought!)
They seek their friends—yet shrink from what they sought,
As on some corse the eye, recoiling, fell—
Tho’ livid, swoln—but recognised too well!
Apart, disturb’d in spirit, breathless, pale—
Her unbound tresses floating on the gale—
A Maiden hasten’d on:—across her way,
As tho’ he slept, a lifeless sailor lay:
She paused, and gazed a moment—shudder’d, sank
Beside that victim on the wave-wash’d bank—
Bent shivering lips to press his haggard cheek,
But started backward with a loathing shriek!
Fond wretch! thy half-averted eyes discover
The cold and bloodless aspect of the Lover!
* * * * * *
Their tale is brief. The youth was one of those
Who spurn the thought of safety or repose
Whilst Peril stalks the deep: where’er display’d,
The flag which sues for succour has their aid—
The foe man’s, or the friend’s;—no pausing then
To question who implore them—they are men!
A noble race—and, tho’ unfamed, unknown,
A race that England should be proud to own!
He, with a few as generously brave,
Had heard the death-wail rising from the wave,
And in an ill-starr’d moment sought to save.
The life-boat reach’d the foundering ship—her crew
With greedy haste secured the rope it threw;
And, in the wild avidity for life,
Rush’d reeling in: alas, that fatal strife
But seal’d their doom! the flashing billows roar
Above their heads—one pang—they strove no more!
* * * * * *
He did not love unloved; for sue who prest
That clay cold hand so madly to her breast,
Believed his vows; and but for Fortune’s scorn
Young Love had smiled on this their bridal morn:
But oh, his years are few who hath not felt
That, while we grasp, the rainbow bliss will melt;
That hopes, like clouds which gleam across the moon,
Soon pass away, and lose their light as soon!
The weltering mass she folds, but yesternight
Heaved warm with life—his rayless eye was bright:
And she whose cheek the rose of rapture spread,
Raves now a maniac—widow’d, yet unwed:
And reckless wanderings take the place of woe—
She fancies joys that glow not, nor can glow;
Breathes in a visionary world, and weaves
A web of bliss—scarce falser than deceives
The reasoning heart: oft sings and weeps; and now
Entwines a sea-weed garland for her brow,
And says it is a marriage wreath. Meanwhile
Her calm vague look will dawn into a smile,
As something met her eye none else should see:
She folds her hands and bends imploringly
To sue its stay;—with wilder gesture turns,
And clasps her head, and cries—“It burns, it burns!”
Then shakes as if her heart were ice. * *
* * * * * * Not long
The soul, the frame, could brook such bitter wrong:
Beside her lover’s that distracted head
Rests cold and calm—the grave their bridal bed.
By —— Beresford, Trinity College, Cambridge.
Underneath the greenwood tree
There we dwell right merrily,
Lurking in the grassy lane,
Here this hour—then gone again.
You may see where we have been,
By the burned spot on the green,
By the oak’s branch drooping low,
Wither’d in our faggots’ glow—
By the grass and hedgerow cropped,
Where our asses have been grazing,
By some old torn rag we dropp’d,
When our crazy tents were raising.
You may see where we have been,
Where we are—it is not seen.
Where we are—it is no place
For a lazy foot to trace.
Over heath and over field,
He must scramble who would find us,
In the copse-wood close concealed,
With a running brook behind us.
Here we list no village clocks,
Livelier sound the farm-yard cocks,
Crowing, crowing round about,
As if to point their roostings out.
And many a cock shall cease to crow
Or ere we from the copse-wood go.
On the stream the trout are leaping,
Midway there the pike is sleeping.
Motionless, self-poised he lies,
E’en as an arrow through the skies!
We could tie the noose to snare him,
But by day we wisely spare him;
Nets shall scour the stream at night,
By the cold moon’s trusty light.
Scores of fish will not surprise her,
Writhing with their glittering scales,
She’ll look on, none else the wiser,
Give us light and tell no tales,
And next day the sporting squire
Of his own trout shall be the buyer.
Till the farmer catch us out
Prowling his rich barns about;
Till the squire suspect the fish,
Till the keeper find his hares
Struggling in our nightly snares;
Till the girls have ceased to wish,
Heedless what young lads shall be
Theirs in glad futurity;
Till the boors no longer hold
Awkwardly their rough hands out,
All to have their fortunes told,
By the cross-lines thereabout;
Till these warnings, all, or some,
Raise us (not by heat of drum)
On our careless march to roam,
The copse shall be our leafy home.
By Mr. Cartwright.
Oh, holy spirit, oft when eve
Hath slowly o’er the western sky
Her gorgeous pall begun to weave
Of gold and crimson’s richest dye;
I’ve thought the gentle gales thy breath,
The murmuring of the grove thy voice,
And heaven above and earth beneath
In thee seemed to rejoice.
Sweet visions then that sleep by day
Thy magic wand hath made my own,
As brilliant as the clouds that play
Around the sun’s descending throne;
And I have striven in many a song
To pay my homage at thy shrine,
A worthless offering for a throng
Of joys, by thee made mine.
What tho’ the idle wreath would fade
By weak, tho’ willing fingers twined,
Soon gather’d to oblivion’s shade;
Not less the task would soothe my mind.
Inspired by thee, I ceased to pine,
Nor thought on aught that cross’d my bliss,
And borne to other worlds of thine,
Forgot the pangs of this.
But this was all in earlier days
When boyhood’s hopes were wild and high,
And, eaglet like, I fixed my gaze
Where glory’s sun blazed thro’ the sky,
But fate and circumstance forbade
The noble, tho’ presumptuous flight;
Those hopes are blasted and decay’d
By disappointment’s blight.
My soul is daring now, as then,
Tho’ fate denies its strong desire,
Still, still, I hear the voice within—
The stirring voice that cries, Aspire.
It haunts me like the sounds that ring
In dying guilt’s distemper’d ear,
When round his couch dim hovering
His crimes like ghosts appear.
W. JERDAN. 365
And aye some demon in my sight
Displays what wreaths for others bloom,
The fame that gilds their life with light,
The halo that surrounds their tomb;
And “Gaze, presumptuous fool,” he cries,
“Unhonoured, blest, thou ne’er shalt be,
But pine for ever—there to rise
Where springs no flower for thee.”
Oh, Poesy, thou too hast now
“Withdrawn thy wonted influence,
When most I need thy tender glow
To renovate my aching sense;
No more thy dreams before me pass
In swift succession bright and fair,
And when I would unveil thy glass
Thou show’st me but despair.
Whenever now I seek these bowers
Where Fancy led her steps to thee,
Before my eyes a desert lowers,
The cold reality I see;
My gloomy bosom’s joyless cell
No ray of thine illumines more,
Which once could guide my spirit well,
O’er every ill to soar.
By all the intense love of thee,
Which fires my soul, and thrills my frame;
By tears thou giv’st thy words to be
When struggling feelings have no name—
Return, return, by thee upborne,
And by a yet unvanquish’d will,
The malice of my fate I’d scorn,
In woe triumphant still.