FUGITIVE AND UNPUBLISHED POEMS.
SPIRIT OF SOUND
COUNTRY WEDDING. (A Sketch)
MEETING OF THE WINDS
ADDRESS—SPOKEN BY THE AUTHOR, ETC.
FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE
STANZAS FOR THE NEW YEAR (1859)
ALICE THE FAIR
PROLOGUE—SPOKEN ON THE OCCASION OF AN AMATEUR PLAY
SPIRIT OF CHARITY
STANZAS TO THE MEMORY OF THE LATE JOSEPH
BROTHERTON, ESQ., M.P
EXTEMPORE LINES TO MY FRIEND, JAMES GRIMSHAW, ESQ.
FUGITIVE AND UNPUBLISHED POEMS.
TO THE MUSE.
my forlorn and visionary youth,
Dear Muse! I sought companionship with thee,
Heard thy first murmur of melodious truth
With a new sense of dignity and glee.
Thy many-toned revealings day and night
Haunted my spirit with a vague delight,
Quickened the life of thought, and lent it wings
To seek, if not to share, diviner things,
Where Genius, self-enthroned, sits calm and pure,
Crowned with the beams of Truth, on Fame's proud
'Twas thee that strengthened those delicious moods
Which slept like angel shadows on my mind,
When in the depths of slumbrous solitudes
My soul was flushed with fancies undefined.
'Twas thee that gave to Nature's varying form,
In gloom or gladness, quietude or storm,
While all her changes passed into my face—
More than external lineament and grace,
A voice which whispered wheresoe'er I trod,
Of fitness, perfect mould, life, harmony, and God!
'Twas thee that gave to summer earth and air
A fuller glory, a serener dye;
To winter, wayward, desolate, and bare,
A wilder beauty, a sublimer sky;
A richer life and language to the flower,
To sound and silence more impressive power,
To every interchange that went and came
O'er the glad world and its resplendent frame
A majesty and mystery, that woke
Feelings of love and awe, as if an angel spoke.
'Twas thee that wrought the tissue of my dreams
Out of the mingled elements that throng
The temple of the universe—high theme!
That make the charm of many a living song!
And in those dreams of rife and rapturous thought
My soul, impatient of its bondage, sought
To look beyond the visible, to Him
Who tuned the harp-strings of the seraphim,—
Who clothes the sun in glory or eclipse,—
Who shook the prophet's frame, who fires the poet's lips.
Sweet dewdrops twinkling with prismatic light,
Strewn for the joyous coming of young day,
Star-systems crowding in the cope of night,
Clouds in their fleeting splendour of array;
The lapse of waters, and the stir of trees,
The war of thunders, and the wail of seas,
Mountains in steadfast grandeur, and the glow
Of gorgeous sunsets on their crowns of snow,
Twilight in quiet fields, and in the wild
The dim and dreamy sheen of moonlight undefiled.
These, and whate'er was Nature's, and pertained
To beauty, and sublimity, and power,
At once my inquiring faculties enchained,
And tinged with transport meditation's hour:
But had I caught the cunning to diffuse
All thou hast shadowed forth, dear spirit-muse!
How had I bounded up the steep of fame!
How had I gathered glory round my name!
With what proud triumph had I voiced the lyre,
And used for holiest ends thy consecrated fire!
So sped my youth; but in my after years,
When the cold world was freezing round my heart,
When stern realities, obtrusive fears,
And selfish sorrows warned thee to depart,
Thou didst not leave me to my sombre fate
All callous, comfortless, and desolate,
But breathing in my ear some quickening tale
Of hopes that urge, of efforts that prevail,
Gilded the gloom, assuaged the internal strife,
And armed me to endure the fitful storms of life.
Disaster drove me to a stranger-land,
But thy calm shadow travelled by my side;
Oppression smote me with his ruffian hand,
But thou sustained my intellectual pride;
I maddened at my wrongs, but thou didst stay
To soothe my frenzy with the poet's lay;
Thoughtless, I roamed on Error's tangled track,
But thy sweet voice could ever lure me back,
And bring before me, as by magic spell,
banquet from the bowers where Truth, Peace, Beauty
My children pined for perishable food,
Their mother battled with the stalwart ill;
I, in a passive but bewildered mood,
Saw, thought, and suffered, but adored thee still;
I sickened, but thy spirit floated by
With songs which were the echoes of the sky;
Death trampled on my flowers, but thou didst fling
The dews of resignation from thy wing,
And whispered through the darkness of the hour,
"There's mercy in the Hand that awes thee with its power!"
THE SPIRIT OF SOUND.
Spirit of the tremulous air!
Music! Thou unseen sorceress of sound,
How I have worshipped thee! Thy lips have
O'er the still chords of my susceptive soul
Till I have wept with ecstasy, and seen,
In the fast-changing mirror of my thoughts,
Visions of matchless splendour, which the Past,
The Present, and the Future, too, have lent
To lift me for a time above the world.
Nature is full of thee: thy voices flow
Spontaneous o'er the earth, whose waters sing
In roarers or in murmurs; while the birds,
Through the bright lapse of gorgeous summer-time,
Are eloquent unceasingly with song!
Say, who can hear the low-complaining bees
Nestling in fragrant calyces of gold,
Nor feel that thou art with them? Who can hear
The hum of myriad insects on the wing,
The doves' soft cooing, and the shivering leaves,
Nor own thy blessed influence of peace?
Can we lie listening to the solemn rage
Of winds at midnight, or the thunder's voice,
Which rends the silence of the sultry noon,
Nor feel that thou art speaking to us still,
If not in melody, at least in tones
Which thoughtful minds make music? Can we hear
The fitful dash of sudden hail and rain,
The melancholy moaning of the sea,
Nor willingly believe thou art the power,
The self-same power which tinkles in the rill,
And tunes the impassioned nightingale to joy?
Art thou not present in the homes of men,
Heard in the fond extravagance that flows
From loving hearts, through love-expressing lips?
And art thou not most audible and sweet
In the exuberant laughter of the child,
The father's blessing, and the mother's song,
Which soothes her weary offspring into rest?
Thou art all these, and yet thy voice might fall
Dull and unheeded on the human ear,
Were there no feelings in the human heart,
No chords of sympathy within the soul,
To hearken to and answer it. Where'er
Love, Hope, Affection, joy, or Sorrow lives,
There wilt thou find an entrance;—a response
To all thy rich revealings, and become
An earthly rapture—perfect but in Heaven.
THE COUNTRY WEDDING.
more of grief:—the viol is awake,
Pouring its brisk and blood-bestirring soul
In gushes of quaint melody. Behold!
Down the dim vista of yon bowery lane,
Through whose full foliage peeps the house of God—
A troop of joyous villagers, who come
In all the fresh hilarity of youth
To grace the wedding of a rustic pair.
Let me draw near in sympathy, and be
A brief partaker of their liberal joy;
For though our years have passed the lusty noon
Of fleeting life, it is a pleasure still,
If care hath eaten not our hearts away,
To see another's gladness, and to feel
We live more sweetly when we live for all.
Hither they come, and marching in the van
The silver-haired musician of the vales
Leads the gay group with merry music home.
With what a sturdy mien, and beaming eye
The bridegroom walks! With what a timid grace
The yet bewildered bride, whose fluttering heart
Is brimming with a new, subdued delight!
They little deem, poor souls! that they have passed
From out the garden of that bright romance
Wherein they learned to love; they little deem
They stand upon the threshold of a new
And yet uncertain being, which may bring
Sorrow and strife, or peacefulness and joy,
As the mixed passions of their souls prevail.
But be our blessings with them:—they are near
The dwelling of their kin, a rural spot,
Half-hidden in the may-bloom of its trees—
Where rose and woodbine round each humble door
Marry in summer sweetness, while the bees,
Like summer friends, cling clustering about
The flowers that feed them. Mark with what a look
Of pleasurable pride the parents greet
Their happy children,—though the mother's kiss
Hath left a tear upon the daughter's cheek
Which was not there! With what a gladdening shout
Of boisterous friendship, genuine though rude,
Old co-mates mingle; while each brawny hand
Is shaken with a heartiness of soul
Scarce known beyond the dwellings of the poor!
Meanwhile the calm and sunny afternoon
(To two, at least, the loveliest of the year)
Is winged with many a pleasantry and joke,
With many a story of departed times.
And now the ale-cup with its amber draught
Goes round incessantly; the fragrant smoke,
In many a graceful wreath from many a pipe,
Soars circling to the roof; the laugh grows loud,
The song grows gay, the converse less confined,
Till warmed and wakened into wild delight,
The old musician twangs his ready strings
(Just as the ruddy sun goes westering down),
And calls them to the dance. "A dance!" "A dance!"
With simultaneous voice the guests exclaim;
And eager to provide a fitting space,
Chair, table, chest, against the homely walls
They pile in pyramids. Up start the throng,
And rank, promiscuous partners, face to face;
The old musician grasps his friendly bow,
And, leaning to his instrument as one
Who holds communion with some hidden power,
He stamps his earnest foot upon the ground,
And dashing off some brave and buoyant air,
Whirls all his listeners into sudden life.
On moves the living labyrinth, where feet
That bid defiance unto time and tune
Torture the tender toe, and threaten oft
Disastrous warfare to the fragile gown.
The dancers smile—they pant, they toil, they shout
With still determined vigour; as for grace
They understand it not; anon they flag,
Exhausted strength retards the bounding step;
Each maiden's cheek is burning with the blood
Gathered from all her veins—her eyes grow bright
With soul-exciting labour: still untired,
The old musician, with a roguish leer,
Inexorable mortal! plies his bow
With quick, remorseless energy, and keeps
That human whirlpool, that resistless throng,
Still on their weary feet: but faint at length
"The force of fiddle can no farther go,"
And strange disorder ends the maddening dance.
The supper passed, the due thanksgiving breathed,
The cheering tankard set upon the board
And honoured oft, a few more happy hours—
Ere quiet midnight shows her inmost stars—
Are passed in glad communion round the hearth.
The old musician, skilled in many things,
Awakes his viol to some tender theme
Of love and song, some story of distress,
Some legend of old times: his artless voice
With natural pathos answering to the string
His hand makes eloquent. Is it not strange
The self-same agent of unconscious sound
Should stir our laughter and provoke our tears;
Should rouse, subdue, electrify, and awe?
And yet 'tis even so; this friendly group,
Late mad with mirth, extravagant with joy,
Sit mute and mournful, fettered by a spell
Whose power they feel but cannot understand.
"The song hath ceased, the minstrel's task is done,"
The well-won praise leaps forth from every tongue,
And grateful pleasure looketh from the soul
Through every face:—alas! the hour is come,
Too soon for many a reveller, the brief,
The angel-winged hour of new delight,
Which comes but once through all the linked years
Of mortal life. That hour of bridal bliss
Let none profane, but on that humble roof,
Now rendered consecrate to hallowed love,
Invoke a blessing, and depart in peace!
THE MEETING OF THE WINDS.
(IMITATED FROM THE FRENCH.)
the four points of the horizon's ring
(For so I've heard the voice of fancy sing),
The winds assembled in a lonely vale,
Each to recount his own peculiar tale.
When these fierce children of Æolus
Strange sounds of fury on the silence broke,
As each in turn let loose his noisy tongue,
And told of deeds scarce fit for peaceful song.
One boasted, with a laugh of savage mirth,
That he had torn from the reluctant earth
The gnarled oak, and with relentless shock
Thrown the proud pine-tree from its native rock.
Another, sweeping o'er a desert land,
Had built a thousand giant tombs of sand,
Had ravished corn-fields, blighted blooming bowers,
And carried poison to the fruits and flowers.
Another, still, had blown upon the deep,
And raised its waters from a treacherous sleep,
Trampled the mariner beneath the wave
Down to a green, illimitable grave,
Seized on the gallant ship's majestic form,
And rent it up to glut the angry storm.
The mightiest of the four had boldly spoken,
Till the returning silence they had broken
Was stirred by gentle Zephyr's plaintive voice,
Whose softness makes the listening heart rejoice;
"You see the difference that fate hath made
Between yourselves and me," bland Zephyr said:
"Mischief is pleasure unto you I know,
I would not harm the humblest thing below;
Ye range and riot over land and sea,
I am a blessing wheresoe'er I be;
For, faithful to the impulse of my soul,
I work no woe, I hold no harsh control.
With my calm kiss I woo the fertile ground,
And at my whisper verdure springs around;
I follow streams in their bright courses lone,
And mix my sweetest murmurs with their own;
I love the swains and damsels, when at morn
They rest awhile beneath the budding thorn,
Or when, at quiet eve, they talk and sing,
Moved by the amorous spirit of the spring;
Within their loosened locks I love to linger,
And touch each blushing cheek with cooling finger;
Nor doth self-shielded Innocence deny
My warm caresses as I wander by:
All in my presence live 'mid 'light and bloom,'
But feel, when I depart, a soul-pervading gloom."
Thus spoke young Zephyr, candid as a sage,
While his wild brothers, with increasing rage,
Indignant at his language and his mien,
Blew in his tranquil face with pride and spleen;
And, with a voice intended to affright,
Cried out, "Begone from our insulted sight,
Thou fickle creature of the wanton wing,
Thou puny, perfumed, and dishonoured thing!"
Zephyr obeyed them with a willing heart,
But, ere he swayed his pinions to depart,
He turned, and said, with a reproachful smile,
"Go, ye destructive ministers, and vile!
I will return to many a pleasant place,
Exhaling fragrance, and imparting grace;
I'll seek green haunts, fresh brooks, umbrageous bowers,
And make my wonted visit to the flowers;
Go to your reckless sport, alarm, destroy!
Be mine the peaceful lot of gentleness and joy."
Need more be writ, my meaning to express?
Have we no evils cruel to excess,
No whirlwind passions, no ambitious deeds,
No war and waste, no wild conflicting creeds,
No sin of soul, no wilfulness of heart,
Which thrust our best humanities apart?
Need I extol the purity and power
Of quiet virtues, acting hour by hour,
Benevolence, meek toil, and generous thought,
And prompt, spontaneous justice, never bought;—
Of meek deportment when great things are won,
Of calm conclusions when a wrong is done,
Of free forgiveness to a contrite foe,
And love for everything of good below?
Read human nature, and ye cannot fail
To see the simple moral of my tale.
SPOKEN BY THE AUTHOR AT THE ANCIENT SHEPHERDS'
ANNIVERSARY, TOWN HALL, ASHTON, JANUARY 1ST, 1846.
the gleam and the gladness of waters and vales,
That fling a proud charm o'er the realm of old Wales,
In a cot that hung midway 'tween mountain and moor,
Where silence and solitude guarded the door,
Dwelt Ruthin, the shepherd, as honest a hind
As e'er breasted the tempest, or battled the wind!
Rude, hardy, yet gentle, good-humoured and brave;
Ever ready to succour, and reckless to save;—
With a heart full of love, and a soul full of mirth,
A simple, unpolished, free child of the earth!
Though his dwelling was lonely, and lowly, and bare—
Though his raiment was weather-worn—scanty his fare;
Enough for to-day set him proof against sorrow,
He knew not, he sought not the ills of to-morrow:
For a faithful and frugal, a village-born wife,
Who strengthened his fortitude—softened his life;
And children, a comely but boisterous race,
Came fondly about him and gladdened the place!
And nightly with earnestness—sometimes with tears,
He prayed for the peace of his young mountaineers.
But alas! o'er his threshold stepped sickness one day,
And Death followed after with dread and dismay,
Touched the heart of the mother so watchful and mild,
Put his hand on the brow of the loveliest child;
And the husband—the father stood soul-stricken there,
In a motionless, voiceless, and tearless despair!
Till the little ones shook his sad spirit with cries,
And the fulness of sorrow o'erflowed at his eyes.
In the palace, where plenty and splendour abide,
Death may veil his dread form in the trappings of pride;
But in the lorn hovel where penury reigns,
How awful his aspect, how piercing his pains!
Poor Ruthin, o'erwhelmed and bewildered with woe,
Sank prostrate—for poverty doubled the blow.
Desponding and destitute, where could he crave
The last solemn boon of a coffin and grave?
But God sent him succour: from hamlet and glen
Came rough-handed, kind-hearted, poor, patient men;
And each from the mourner took part of his grief,
And each brought his tribute of timely relief;
And the mother was laid, with her child on her breast,
In the shadow and stillness of hallowed rest;
But never did Ruthin grow cold at the deed,
Or shut up his heart to a brother in need.
This "short simple annal" of life may portray,
By its homely example our purpose to-day;
For we, too, though Shepherds but only in name,
Each to each in our sorrows would practise the same!
With the deeds of our Virgin-born Pastor in view,
We are bound in a covenant steadfast and true;
In a brotherly compact of peace to sustain
The trouble-tried spirit that bows to its pain;
To enter where sickness appalleth the poor,
And keep foe and famine aloof from the door;
To give to misfortune e'en more than a tear;
To watch by the death-bed, and wait on the bier;
To comfort the widow, the orphan to guide,
And all without falsehood, or folly, or pride;
Save that honest pride which the conscience forgives,
As it pleads for the lowliest being that lives.
No sword flashes proudly at Shepherdry's gate,
No symbols of mystery garnish our state,
No banners hang round us in foolish array,
No words, cabalistic, mislead or betray!
Benevolence needeth not these to proclaim,
Its feelings and doings, its purpose and name;
It is simple in manner, and humble in mien;
It is earnest in private, in public serene;
In action 'tis strenuous, kindly, and warm,
It is ready to plan, it is prompt to perform;
It seeketh not honour, it asketh not praise,
It is deaf to our whisper, and blind to our gaze;
If its conscience approve what its bounty hath given,
It is happy on earth, it is hopeful in heaven!
Benevolence bids us, with thankful delight,
To hail you as friends on this festival night;
This night of the newly-born year, when the mind,
More than wont is consoling, confiding and kind!
And ye will not forget on the calm-coming morrow
The heirs of misfortune, and suffering, and sorrow;
For ye come here to help, to encourage, to bless
With your heart-given tribute, the child of distress;
And still let this beautiful truth be believed—
That "A blessing bestowed is a blessing received."
FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE.
of Conscience!" glorious theme for pencil, pen, or
How worthy of the purest fire, the proudest voice of song!
More fitting for those lofty thoughts which thrill the harp divine,
Than the weak words that tremble through this lowly lyre of mine.
"Freedom of Conscience!" let me sing, how slight soe'er, my
This universal privilege, this consecrated dower;
God claims the homage of my soul, yet leaves its reason free,
And shall a mortal shadow come between my God and me?
Shall human law prescribe my creed, and tell me when to
Shall state or priest coerce me to a form I cannot feel?
Shall stole or surplice, cowl or cap, or any outward guise,
Show me the clearest, nearest path to glory in the skies?
Oh no! Religion needeth not compulsion or parade,
'Twas not for these the Nazarene's dread sacrifice was made;
But oh! it is a blessed sight, 'neath temple, cloud, or tree,
To see sincere and solemn crowds bow down the adoring knee!
No need of arch, and storied pane, of fixed and formal prayer,
The heart that learns to lean towards Heaven can worship
In chapel, closet, cloister gloom, or forest shade, we may,
If the spirit, not the form, inspires, cast off the world, and pray.
Some love the eye-alluring pomp of fulminating Rome,
The blazing altar, dreary mass, the high and gorgeous dome,
And some, the ancient English Church, of venerable grace,
In whose time-hallowed grounds how few would scorn a resting-
And some, more simple in their faith, but with a lofty aim,
'Mid lowliest walls would glorify Jehovah's power and name;
And thus, on Nature's broad, free floor, beneath Heaven's
Would fill the breezes as they pass with songs of earnest praise.
And others—would they were but few! with mingled doubt and
Stray from each happier fold, and meet in mockery aside
Poor slaves to sense and circumstance, they wander far apart;
Love all and scorn not! God alone may judge the inner heart.
Let each who thinks, and by his thought can rise above the clay,
Let all who, strong in love and faith, pursue their peaceful way,
Let every being, whatsoe'er his creed, clime, colour be,
Rejoice in chainless soul and limb, for God hath made him free!
But thou, my own creative land! the favoured of the isles!
On whom the light of gifted minds the Gospel-glory smiles,
Go with thy power of intellect, with peace upon thy tongue,
And wean the wayward and the weak from ignorance and wrong.
"Freedom of conscience!" who divulged this thrice transcendent
By whose pure force the fettered lips, the famished mind was
A few brave men, a very few, the noblest, gentlest, best,
'Mid many who had bowed and bled at Bigotry's behest!
Great Nye! methinks I hear thy voice within that ancient hall,
To some imparting hope and joy, and wonder unto all.
Methinks I see thy manly mien, thy broad, uplifted brow,
Honour to thee, exalted one! we feel thy spirit now!
For full, emancipated speech; for thought's immortal right,
For power to worship as we list, the God of love and light;
For the sweet sake of Charity to all the sons of earth,
This champion oped his giant heart, and gave its feelings birth!
And lo! the painter's soul hath caught the greatness of that
And thrown it on the canvas field with genius' magic power.
There Cromwell (gentle Selden by), with hard, heroic face,
Lists to the winged words that fill that consecrated place.
There, 'mid a mute and anxious crowd, stands Milton's youthful
His soul with high poetic thought, his heart with freedom warm;
And many a mind of generous mood, and many an eye of scorn,
Seem to make up the spectacle of that triumphant morn.
Like breeze-borne seeds, that pregnant truth went forth from
zone to zone,
Took root, and flourished free and fair, in places wild and lone;
And out of that devoted band, the fearless, firm eleven,
An independent multitude press peacefully to heaven!
STANZAS FOR THE NEW YEAR.—[1859.]
Old Year is numbered with those of the past,
He has done with his chances for right or for wrong;
May the good that he gave us remain to the last,
And the evil be dead and forgotten ere long!
Some griefs which he brought us may linger awhile,
But to-day let us have neither murmur nor tear;
We have met with a kindly and sociable smile
To hail with warm welcome the gladsome New Year.
Some things the Old Year has achieved, we must own,
Which the spirit of progress will wisely extend,—
He has added new grandeur and strength to the throne—
New glories to Science, true Liberty's friend.
He has shown us that language can fly through the seas,—
That lands, the remotest, may seem to draw near;
Let us give the departed due honour for these,
As we hail with warm welcome the gladsome New Year.
Some kindred and friends the Omnipotent Will
Has summoned and snatched from our tenderest care,
But beings to comfort us cling round us still,
And chase from our souls discontent and despair.
By turns 'tis the lot of unsatisfied man
To hope and to grieve, to rejoice and to fear;
Let us cherish the blessings we have, while we can,
And hail with warm welcome the gladsome New Year.
The wings of old Time change their hues as he flies
With an onward, still onward, but varying flight;
To-day they are sombre as sorrow's own skies,—
To-morrow as lovely as Hope's rosy light.
The darkness should raise us to efforts anew,
The brightness should charm us with solace and cheer;
Then, keeping both duty and pleasure in view,
Let us hail with warm welcome the gladsome New Year.
The gladsome New Year is a time when a race
For the good things of life should in earnest begin,
If we wish to attain a more prominent place,
And the goal of success and fruition to win.
Old ties should be strengthened, new friendships be
Old signs of stern feeling should now disappear,—
New plans for improvement be tried and be taught,
When we've hailed with warm welcome the gladsome
Thou hast come to thy heritage, young Fifty-Nine!
May peace, knowledge, freedom give grace to thy time!
May all that's exalted and noble be thine—
Thy coming triumphant, thy going sublime!
May thy presence bring something of good and of great,
To elevate man in his mortal career;
But, whatever it be, we must "labour and wait,"
And give thee warm welcome, thou gladsome New Year!
We rejoice; but, oh! let us remember with awe
The merciful Giver of blessings untold,—
The Source of all wisdom, and order, and law,—
The infinite Power to whom nothing is old.
Let the thoughts of our thankfulness rise unto Him,
Who made and sustains every system and sphere,
So that nothing unworthy our pleasures may dim,
As we hail with warm welcome the gladsome New Year.
ALICE THE FAIR.
DEEMED my affections were destined no more
To flourish in vigour and bloom,
That my mind, once so hopeful and ready to soar,
Would wear a perpetual gloom;
But a change for the better has softened my woe
And chased discontent and despair,
And the pleasure that thrills through my being, I owe
To the magic of Alice the Fair.
Oh! blest was the circumstance, happy the hour
When I caught the first smile of her face,
And felt, as by instinct, the exquisite power
Of her kindliness, beauty, and grace;
And now, not a day that goes by but I seem
To see her dear form in the air,
Not a night but I muse on her beauty, or dream
Of the sweet eyes of Alice the Fair.
Oh! would I could win her as wholly my own,
With no hollow hearts coming nigh;
No lord in his palace, no king on his throne,
Would feel so exalted as I.
She would make my existence more tranquil and bright,
Would wean me from sorrow and care,
Be a flower in the day-time, a star in the night,
My peerless one, Alice the Fair.
SPOKEN, ON THE OCCASION OF AN AMATEUR PLAY, FOR A
OF THE DRAMA! gathered here to-night,
With hearts of feeling and with looks of light;
Humbly, but hopefully, we crave once more,
That kind indulgence ye have shown before.
Roused into pity for the pining Poor,
We venture now to tread this honoured floor;
This great arena where the KEMBLE stood,
And fiery KEAN portrayed the deed of blood;
Where gifted COOKE drew down your willing cheers,
And graceful YOUNG beguiled you of your tears;
Where manly VANDENHOFF, with true disguise,
Brought the unyielding Roman to your eyes;
Where stern MACREADY, mighty in his age,
Hath dared to dignify the drooping stage;
Well may we feel distrustful of our powers,
When men like these have charmed your evening hours,
And we are willing humbly to confess,
" 'Tis not in mortals to command success;"
But should we violate dramatic laws,
Deign to forgive us—for our holy cause!
When haggard thousands cry aloud for bread,
With scarce a shelter for each weary head;
When desperate fathers lift the felon hand,
And naked mothers wander o'er the land—
Mothers whose hearts are racked with daily pain,
To hear their offspring wail for food in vain!
Can we do less than sympathise, and try
To wipe one tear-drop from the sufferer's eye?
Can we do less than faithfully combine
With others labouring in the work divine;—
That work of CHARITY! which must impart
A mutual blessing to the human heart?
To you, dear friends, we venture to appeal,
Fully assured that ye have souls to feel,
And as within ye Pity's pleadings wake,
O'erlook our failures for sweet Pity's sake!
The gentle Author of our chosen scene,*
Kind to his fellow-man hath ever been;
And he hath suffered, more than many know,
Yet won renown which none can overthrow.
For him we plead not, for the public voice
Hath spoken loudly, proudly of our choice;
Be his alone the triumph and the fame,
And, if your judgment will it, ours the blame;
'Tis your's to hear, and flatter, or to frown,
'Tis our's to lay our free-will offerings down
In the full hope that we shall bear away
Your smiles and favours till some future day.
* Leigh Hunt, "A Legend of
THE SPIRIT OF CHARITY.
(WRITTEN FOR A CHARITABLE PURPOSE.)
Messiah was born, and the Bethlehem star
Led the wise of the East to their worship afar—
A spirit came down from the realm of its birth,
To rest and remain with the children of earth;
It awoke in the soul of that God-given child,
Illuming His lips as He talked or He smiled,
And when He went forth in His wisdom of youth,
To win by His gentleness, teach by His truth,
This spirit was heard in the words of His tongue,
As He raised his meek voice to the wondering throng.
It moved in His actions, it beamed in His eyes,
It burned in His tears, and it breathed in His sighs;
It oozed in His sweat-drops of passionate pain,
It gushed in His blood—but it gushed not in vain;
He had finished the task which His mercy designed,
But the Spirit of Charity lingered behind!
And then that pure being found welcome and rest
In some human hearts, which it softened and blest;
And they who could feel its warm pleadings within,
Sought out the lone haunts of affliction and sin;
On the hungry and sad they essayed to intrude,
And e'en the unworthy were favoured with food;
Rejoicing, they sheltered the fatherless child,
And the widow forgot her distraction, and smiled.
They entered the dungeon where, prostrate in gloom,
The frail son of error awaited his doom;
They appealed to his manhood, they soothed his despair,
Till his obdurate nature was melted in prayer.
They ventured where warfare and pestilence ran
On the message of death through the dwellings of man,
And often they stood by the dying and dead,
Alone by the side of some sufferer's bed;
Giving pity and aid through the terrible night,
Unscathed and undaunted as angels of light;
But if in such mission one chanced to fall,
Like a martyr he died with the blessings of all!
Human hearts so devoted were rare, it is true,
But the Spirit of Charity strengthened and grew,
Waxed wider and brighter, like opening day,
Till millions, rejoicing, acknowledged its sway!
A small band of friends, with a noble desire,
Which the breath of the spirit had fanned into fire—
Met, talked, and determined, with laudable pride,
To scatter the seeds of benevolence wide;
To befriend the poor wayfarer far from his home,
When fortune compelled him neglected to roam,
To cheer him in sickness, in death to be kind
To those he might leave in deep sorrow behind;
To fly to the succour of fatherless grief,
To give to the desolate widow relief;
To strengthen the feeble, to soften the strong,
Till love should subdue all the errors of wrong;
To cling to their purpose with temperate zeal,
Till the world should be taught to respect them and feel;
These, these were their objects, how noble! how high!
How worthy of souls which are never to die!
And oh! how much nobler! how higher by far,
Than the deeds which are done by the minions of war!
The result is a proud one. These friends of their
Are gathering, and widening, and soaring apace,
And the loneliest hamlet on Britain's green isle,
Partakes of the light of their covenant-smile;
And the cities and towns of this beautiful land
Are thronged with the sons of this glorious band.
If you go to Columbia, the free and the fair,
This tree of benevolence flourisheth there!
In the wildest, the uttermost regions of earth,
This star of humanity bursts into birth ;
And this wonderful brotherhood, strange though it be,
Embrace o'er the hills, and shake hands o'er the sea.
But where doth this spirit of pity appear?
The peri is present—the angel is here,
In the hearts of the men who have toiled with success,
To solace affliction, and lighten distress:
'Tis here in fair woman's compassionate glance;
It breathes in the music, it moves in the dance;
It glows in the bosoms, unmixed with alloy,
Of all who are friends to this generous joy.
Before I return to the world and its care,
Be this my sincerest, my holiest prayer,—
May the Christian exhort, and the patriot appeal,
Till God shall awaken new hearts that can feel;
New hands that will open, obedient to Heaven,
And scatter what God hath abundantly given:
May the idols of self from their altars be hurled,
And the Spirit of Charity govern the world!
TO THE MEMORY OF THE LATE
JOSEPH BROTHERTON, ESQ., M.P.
sent His summons down,
And a calm spirit from among us passed,—
One who has donned victoriously at last
The palm-wreath, and the crown.
In his sad household now
They miss his presence at the evening hour,
When he was wont, with gentle, genial power
To clear each clouded brow.
In many a poor man's cot,—
Where fell his bounty like the silent dew,
Opening the fountains of the heart anew,
He will not be forgot.
In many a public place
Souls will be found his memory to revere,
For he united with good men to cheer
And help the human race.
In lecture-room or mart,—
In hall of justice, or in house of prayer,
All who beheld his welcome presence there
Knew of his guileless heart.
Within the senate walls
His mild, good sense was honoured long ago;
He never lost a friend, nor made a foe,
Within those noble halls.
Oh! when a good man dies,—
Albeit we cannot choose but shed the tear,—
Let the example of his own career
Uplift us towards the skies.
Calm, temperate, and just,
Opposed to falsehood, prejudice, and strife,
Through the long lapse of an unsullied life
He found both love and trust.
Peace to thy resting-place,
Christian, just wakened to diviner birth!
And may the seed which thou hast sown on
Grow in the light of grace!
and friends, your presence here to-night
Moves us with gratitude and pure delight;
For such prompt answer to our poor appeal
Proves ye have minds to think, and hearts to feel;
And we were all unworthy of your thought,
Did we not prize your kindness as we ought.
A band of many brothers, our chief aim
Is to establish an unsullied name
For peace, benevolence, and watchful care
Of the scant means that fall to Labour's share;
For reverence for lawful things alone,
Love for the Sovereign, honour for the Throne.
Love, Friendship, Truth, our motto and our guide,
Are with celestial Charity allied,—
The angel Charity, so oft a guest
In gentle Woman's sympathising breast,
Adding a milder beauty to her face,
To all her motions a serener grace,
A softer music to her words of balm,
And to her kindly heart a holier calm;
Long may she Charity's blest power obey,
Nor scare the angel visitant away.
There is no nobler labour for the mind
Than to assuage the sufferings of mankind;
It is a pleasure to console and please
The widow and the fatherless; for these
We step aside from our accustomed way
To comfort and to help them, if we may;
And your unstrained beneficence shall bear
Hope, peace, and joy to many a heart of care.
Think of the widow, reft of him whose hand
Brought daily bread unto the household band,
He who was cheerful in the darkest hour,
Whose heart was gentle, and whose will was power;
Gone is the friend and husband, firm and kind,
Leaving despair and poverty behind,
While to her mournful eyes a sudden cloud
Covers the earth as with a funeral shroud.
What can she do, and all her helpless brood,
In the cold world, for shelter and for food?
Unless some little largess we bestow
On this poor widowed woman in her woe,—
Give with a generous impulse of the heart
Which shall a tenfold blessing back again impart!
Think of the orphan, whom no father's eye
Can overlook when danger cometh nigh,
No father's voice can soften and restrain,
And when he wanders, bring him back again.
Left to themselves, the fatherless forsake
The path which parent love would have them take;
In evil deeds grow prematurely bold,
Like wanton cattle broken from the fold;
Or still and stealthy cunning takes the place
Of childhood's natural gaiety and grace,
While their harsh destiny implants such seeds
As rankly germinate in moral weeds,
Which thrust the flowers of gentleness apart,
And drain the dews of goodness from the heart.
Oh! wake the holier sympathies that lie
Hid in the depths of your humanity;
Help the poor mother, that her care may guide
And guard the helpless flock that linger by her side.
We, the poor actors of a fleeting hour,
With emulous feelings, but with little power,
Ask your indulgence for our lack of skill,
Which must be all unequal to our will;
Deign to forgive our failings of to-night,
So ye will make our self-taught task more light;
For the dear sake of our devoted cause
Grant us your smiles, your patience, your applause;
And at our parting we shall bear away
Glad thoughts to cheer our hearts for many a
TO MY FRIEND, JAMES GRIMSHAW, ESQ.,
ON THE DEATH OF HIS MOTHER.
more the mighty leveller hath been
O'er the dear threshold of that home serene
Where first the light broke o'er thine infant head;
A new bereavement calleth for thy tears,—
A mother, full of honour and of years,
Hath found the tranquil slumber of the dead.
Too well I know that cold, condoling words
Can never heal the lacerated chords
Which Death hath shattered in the human breast;
Yet may a friend, with sympathy unbought,
Pay the poor tribute of melodious thought,
To charm thy spirit from its sad unrest.
Our wildest wailings never can restore
To earth, to us, the loved ones gone before,—
The fair, the good, from our embraces riven:—
Had we no sorrow in this lower life,
No broken hopes, no agonies, no strife,
What need of Immortality and Heaven?
Thy father's dust is mingling with the sod;—
Thy wife, a nearer one, is with her God,
And now thou weepest o'er thy mother's tomb:
But other treasures there are left behind,
To cheer thy heart, to tranquillise thy mind,
The lingering star-lights of thy household gloom.
Thy children yet are spared to thee,—in them
Thou hast the reflex of that one lost gem,—
The brightest in thy coronet of love:
She who became the idol of thy youth;
Who clave to thee with undecaying truth,—
She who beholds thy sorrows from above.
Oh! mourn not for the dead: their lot is bright,—
All purity and joy; all strength and light,—
All peace and power, and love without its stings:
Then mourn not for the dead:—if tears must fall,
Be it for those who lie beneath the pall—
The cold, oppressive pall of earthly things.
Printed by R. & R. CLARK, Edinburgh.
R. A. DUNCAN LITHGOW, LL.D.
1. One of Prince's earliest efforts, and
originally contributed to the " Manchester Guardian," where it was signed
2. Suggested by the picture,
"Independents asserting Freedom of Conscience in the Westminster Assembly
of Divines, 1644," by J. R. Herbert, A.R.A., in the National Gallery.
Contributed to the "Child's Companion."
3. Published in "Oddfellows'
Magazine," April 1842.
4. Mr. Brotherton was M. P. for
Salford, and died January 7, 1857, universally regretted.
5. Written for the occasion of an
amateur dramatic performance, given at the Royal Queen's Theatre, Spring
Gardens, Manchester, in aid of the Widow and Orphans' Fund of the National
Independent Order of Oddfellows, Salford District, May 8, 1862.