Page images
PDF
EPUB

exhausted.” Originality, indeed, appears to have with Addison, wrote an occasional paper for the been a cardinal point with Swift; and to this Tatler and daily jotted down for Stella's enquality almost exclusively he owes the continu- lightenment the state of his health and the weaance of his fame. He boasts that he was never ther, the names of new acquaintances and the known to steal a hint. The party questions he conduct of old, the dishes he had eaten, the discussed are comparatively without interest ; as geography of his lodgings, the nick-nacks he had an essayist he has been superseded by more grace- purchased to bring to Ireland and the stage of ful and versatile pens; as a rhymster, the higher his progress in a political despatch, in the advolevel of taste condemns him to neglect; but as the cacy of a petition, or the composition of a lamauthor of Gulliver's Travels his renown is firmly poon. He expresses violent anger towards all based. Though intended as a local satire, the whose treatment dissatisfies him and frankly talks povelty of the conception and the verisimilitude of going to bed “rolling resentments in his mind." of the execution mark this work as one of true This diary exhibits the greatest activity of mind genius, whose standard value is only diminished and consciousness of ability and an extraordiby the occasional blemishes of a low and per- nary mixture of a satirical, inquiring, ambitious verted taste. It exhibits the same circumstan- and convivial temper, with so little of the enthutial felicity in description which Caleb Williams siasm of the poet, the tenderness of the lover or does in events. Besides this capo d' opera of the spirituality of the divine, that we can seldom satirical writing, Swift vindicated himself more realize that its author ever had any legitimate explicitly elsewhere ; facts, however, do not war- claim to either title. rant the complacency of his statement.

Dryden's prediction that Swift would never be

a poet seems to us to have been verified; and He spared a hump or crooked nose

this opinion we inser not only from his versified Whose owners set not up for beaux,

but his prose compositions. His facility in the True genuine dulness moved his pity

use of language, his " knack of rhyming," and Unless it offered to be witty. Those who their ignorance confessed

the various odes and other metrical pieces which He ne'er offended with a jest,

are found in his collected works, do not invaliBut laughed to hear an idiot quote

date our position. The term poet has now more A verse from Horace learned by rote.

than a technical meaning. It is used to derisa

nate a certain species of character and tone of It is conceded that the most satisfactory part mind, and is often applied to those who have not of Swift's life, at least in his own estimation, written verse and, perhaps, never written at all. were his busy years in London, of which, spent in A deep sense of the beautiful and intimate relathe service of party leaders of this epoch, we have tions with the human, the natural and the divine, a full accouut in the “ Journal to Stella"-a arising from earnestness of feeling and spiriturecord which confirms our preconceived notion ality of perception, are qualities now regarded as of his character. It shows his devotion to the essential to the office of poet. In these Swift actual by its brief chronicle of the events of was singularly deficient. All that gave point to, or each day with few comments or fancies to enli- yet redeem bis verses are their cleverness of ven the summary; his egotism by the importance diction and their wit. No poet could habitually he attaches to the least thing that concerns him- write such prose. It is utterly destitute of glow; self; his want of refinement by the coarseness of there are no kindling expressions ; the flow of the epithets ; his arbitrary tendency by its tone, words never accidentally becomes rhythmical and his deficient ideality by the absence of beau- from the loftiness of the sentiment, as in Burke, tiful sentiment or graceful expression. His rela- or its pathetic sweetness, as in Dickens. And tion to Stella is only to he inferred from the fa- yet, of its kind, Swift's style is unsurpassed. miliarity and confidence of its revelations ; it im- For perspicuity, directness and freedom from inplies intimacy rather than tenderness. To know volution or bombast, it is a model. It is exactly how a man passes his time is, however, no slight such a style as is desirable for the man of afassistance to the interpretation of his life and fajrs, whose object is to address the common genius. According to this journal, Swift was in sense of mankind, and to be equally understood a constant whirl of political and social excite- by the cultivated and the vulgar. Without ornament and a rainy or an ill day he, therefore, ment, and just raised above the colloquial by the found quite “apathetic.” He dined with minis- arrangement of words, only the worth or the ters, envoys, lords and duchesses,—visited Con- salient points of the thought lend it the least atgreve in his blindness, called for his letters at traction. To this very absence of elegance and Steele's office, chatted with · Rowe and Prior at fervor in style, may be ascribed Swift's popularone coffee-house and joined Harley in anathema-ity. Queen Anne's reign has been called the tizing the opposition at another, supped often' age of the wits. Prior circumstances rendered

Vol. Xy-19

nessa.

1

that period the reverse of an earnest one.

Sen- So weak thou art that fools my power despise, timent was at a discount and sense at a premium.

And yet so strong thou triumph'st o'er the wise !

Thy nets are laid with such peculiar art Social follies prevailed; party feeling ran high.

They caich the cautious, let the rash depart; Fanaticism and debauchery had each been car- Most nels are filled for want of thought and care, ried to extremes; and the reaction caused strength But too much thinking brings us to thy snare. of mind and clearness of thought to be admired. Hence Swift. with his vigor of statement, his

How, by his wit and wisdom, he built up a universally intelligible language, and, especially, mental supremacy and thus attached to himself his caustic irony and stinging repartee, was the these fresh and devoted hearts, is evident in the very writer to effect a public, weary of lackadai- case of Stella by the fact that he was the presical versewrights and croaking bigots, and alike ceptor of her childhood, and the exclusive coundistrustful of enervating taste and morbid enthu- sellor of her mature years; while Vanessa says siasm.

of himUnfortunately Swift was not content with in- When men began to call me fair tellectual empire. He sought and keenly en- You interposed your timely care: joyed a sway over hearts; and to this desire, un- You early taught me to despise naturally aggravated by causes already suggested,

The ogling of a coxcomb's eyes,

Showed where my judgment was misplaced, we ascribe his conduct toward Stella and Va

Refined my fancy and my laste. There is not a trace of genuine amatory feeling in his poems. Compare his love-verses It will not do to gloss over the inevitable conwith those of Petrarch, Barry Cornwall, Mrs. sequences of obligations like these, voluntarily Norton, or any other sincere votary of the tender conferred upon a susceptible and candid girl. passion, and this fact will be apparent. Every He must have instinctively anticipated her concircumstance related of his intercourse with the fession. unhappy women whose affections he won, his own allusions to them in verse and prose, and

Your lessons found the weakest part,

Aimed at the head, and reached the heart. their actions and expressions with reference to him indicate that the love of power and not the It is true, in the celebrated verses descriptive delights of mutual love actuated him. He sought of this unhappy love, he says, that at the disto wind himself, as it were, into their souls, to be-covery, he come a moral necessity, to call out all the recog

felt within him rise nition of which they were capable, to be the

Shame, disappointment, grief, surprise. motive and the arbiter of their inward life, and the consciousness of having attained this appears Yet, with heartless egotism, he goes on, year to have satisfied him. while they, more soulful after year, fostering a hopeless attachment, conand human, pined, in vain, for the endearments, cealing from one his relation with the other, unthe entire confidence and the realized sympa- til forced into a nominal marriage with Stella, thies of love. It is said that Richter sought in- and the bitter truth flashed upon the wretched timate association with interesting women for Vanessa, whom he leaves to wrestle alone with the express purpose of discovering materials for her misery until death gives her a welcome reromantic art. Swift did the same apparently for lease! The most exacting sentiment which ever the mere gratification of self-love. As far as he inspired a man, could require no more complete was capable of passion it was intellectual, spent self-dedication than these fair beings gave the itself in words, and a kind of philosophical dal- object of their love. Stella existed only for liance with sentiment but torturing to its objects. him; and an humble neighbor of Vanessa deDoubtless he liked the companionship of both scribes her as passing all her time in walking in Stella and Vanessa, and from his own peculiar the garden, reading and writing, and never seemnature could but feebly understand the agonizing ing happy except during the visits of Swift. uncertainties and wearisome suspense to which Byron in one of his letters says, with an evident his equivocal behaviour subjected them; but these and characteristic appreciation of this waste of considerations are quite insufficient to excuse the feeling : “Swift, when neither young, nor handpositive inhumanity of his course. That his some, nor rich, nor even amiable, inspired the view of love was rather metaphysical than natu- two most extraordinary passions upon record, ral-a thing more of the will than the heart, and Vanessa's and Stella's. inspired by reflection instead of sentiment, is

Vanessa, aged scarce a score, manifest not only by his conduct but in his wri

Sighs for a gown of forty-four. tings. Thus in his, apostrophe to love he says In all I wish, how happy I should be

He requited them bitterly; for he seems to Thou grand Deluder, were it not for thee!

have broken the heart of the one and worn out

that of the other; and he had his reward, for he them as a companion as well as useful to their died a solitary idiot in the hands of servants." cause as a writer. He managed his financial in

The source both of Swift's errors and triumphs terests with precision and economy from a very was a love of power. We are convinced that clear sense of the value of money as an agent of this is the key to the puzzle which, at first, seems power. He sent forth his tracts, epigrams and to bafile inquiry in regard to his anomalous satirical tales anonymously, not heeding reputaconduct. There is always a vindicatory princi- tion, but enjoying keenly the secret pleasure of ple at work in life and nature. Where any ele- impressing himself on other minds and leading ment is thwarted in one direction it will assert public opinion by his will. He had a fondness itself elsewhere ; the root which meets a rock for patronage on the same principle, and boasted gnarls itself upward in fibrous convolutions; the that thirty men of note owed their advancement stream, impeded in its onward flow, either gushes to his personal influence; among whom were into a fountain or expands into a lake; the dis- Parnell, Berkeley, Congreve, Rowe and Steele. appointed bard transforms himself into a fero- The same disposition is apparent in his training cious critic, and the unsuccessful belle turns de- of servants, in his dictation in regard to the housevotee. Now, the traits of humanity were in- hold arrangements of families he visited, in the complete in Swift. He possessed acuteness and oracular terms in which he pronounced upon vigor of intellect, strong will, remarkable wit and literature and character, in the overbearing confaculty of application, but he seems to have been ditions he proposed with his first offer of mardestitute of passion. It was rarely, therefore, riage, in the ceaseless exactions of his social life, that a genial, homogeneous excitement warmed and in the authoritative tone of his conversation and fused his nature. Its capabilities acted sep- and writings. To be admired, loved or feared, arately. He wanted the susceptibility and the he demanded from all but dolts; and he did this gentleness that come from an organization alive without any consideration as to his ability to reto harmonious sensations. His body and his ciprocate the more sacred feeling. Those whom soul did not thrill with the same conscious exis- he failed to bully, or lure into one of these sentitence. Life was consequently objective to a ments were thoroughly obnoxious to him. In great degree, and he sought to conquerits visible all this we see the arrogance of a passionless inobstacles rather than enrich and attune its ele- tellectuality, the unhesitating claim of pride, the ments within. He lived in a sense of intellectual domination of a will unchecked and unsoftened action inadequately combined with sentient en- by any of those noble emotions or lapses of tenjoyment. What nature denied him he sought der feeling and earnest desire, that cause a glad through mental expedients; and his relish of ex- surrender of opinion to truth, of individuality to istence seems to have consisted in operating upon assimilation, of self to a thought or being more others—a process comparatively indifferent to dear, yielding a joy never realized by the love of those who are vividly sensible of enjoyable re- power, even when its most detested foes or sources. This exclusive love of power is often sweetest victims are completely in its remorsethe heritage of disappointment,--the alternative less grasp ! for sympathy—the chief resort of those cut off by asceticism, disease, or circumstances from any source of natural pleasure. We see it in women unfavorably constituted or ungenially married, in the deformed and in the gifted but CASTLE BY THE SEA. low-born. They seem to desire to realize every thing through will. Their great demand from

From the German of Uhland. others is subserviency, and they manifest the greatest impatience at the least nonconformity with their caprices. Indeed coalition with them

Hast seen that castle olden, in thought and action is the only test of friend

That castle by the sea ?

The purple clouds and golden, ship or love, for the obvious reason that they are

Above it wander free. incapable of fully experiencing the delights of those sentiments which, to such as are more naturally constituted or situated, are their own ex

It sinks in gladness bending, ceeding reward. That Swift belonged to this

Into the food below, order of character, is evident from every page of

It sours in joy ascending,

Into the sunset glow. his biography and not a few of his writings. He was never satisfied in his political relations until be gained a personal influence with his distin

"On on the shore reclining, guished allies. He desired to be necessary to

Have I that castle seen,

I.

II.

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

VII.

VIII.

The moon above it shining

| be happy in it. We like to live because we like The misty wreaths between."

to enjoy ourselves ; if we find it impossible to enjoy ourselves at any time, ever in the future,

the best motive for living is gone. Men often Did winds and waters sostly.

come in this way to be disgusted with life, and Their murmurs gay prolong, And from the hall so losty,

yet are afraid of death. It scares them back; Heard'st thou the sestal song?

it does not scare me. But all this is only one selfish view of the case; I am to front death be

cause I cannot be a happy man. There is the “ The winds and waves were lying

other and greatest reason why I should die ; Miss As if in peaceful sleep,

Minny will be very much relieved by my death.
And from the hall came sighing

Fever burn on."
A song that made me weep."

And supplied with the fuel of such despairing

reflections the fever did burn up anew. Tom Saw'st thou in splendor glowing,

Herries became delirious then, and raved for sev. Walk there the king and queen,

eral days and nights. On one of these terrible With crimson mantles flowing,

days, the elder Herries and his wife were in a And crowns of lustrous sheen?

distant apartment, to which only the shrillest of the wild cries penetrated.

“We are ruined—lost-overwhelmed—I am Led they not forth with pleasure,

one of the damned,” groaned the black-browed A youthful daughter fair,

father.
Following with stately measure,
Beaming with golden hair?

" It is a grievous trial to lose this my only son; but, husband, your despair is a more dreadful

blow to me than the death of my first-born child." “ Nay, I saw those parents weeping,

“Wife, these cold-blooded Blairs have crushTheir golden crowns forgot,

ed us. That girl led the boy to his death. May Sable robes around them sweeping,–

the curse of Almighty God"The maiden saw I not."

C. C. L. A low tap at the door arrested the blind maleStaunton, Virginia.

diction of the thwarted and despairing man. The door opened, and Minny Blair entered. At the same time also entered one of those doleful cries of delirium which wandered about the passages, and galleries, and recoiling from the closed doors,

rose to the ceilings and even to the hollows of THE CRIME OF ANDREW BLAIR.

the great roof above.

Herries shuddered; the cry went to his heart like a dagger. In the face of his wife was that

dry anguish which craves tears, and sometimes CHAPTER VII.

becomes madness for want of them. Minny

Blair was calm, resolute, but very pale. Two weeks passed away, and the day ap- Herries advanced to meet her, saying with an pointed for the marriage of Tom Herries and impetuous manner : Miss Blair came. It found the bride-groom in “You are here! You are as cold as a pillar of wretched condition. A violent fever had seized salt. Are these howls, which are two-edged upon him soon after the dreadful fall; it had aba- swords to us, nothing to you? Come.” He ted, leaving him very feeble and not out of dan- took the girl by the hand with a rude force and

So the rising sun of the wedding-day led her from the room, along the gloomy passabrought no peace or joy to John Herries. He ges straight to the chamber of his delirious son. had labored with a stern energy to have the mar- “Death is nothing," Tom Herries repeated as riage accomplished without delay. He would they came into his chamber. His mind had wanhave given Minny a dying husband; but his son dered back to the moments passed in that reswould not permit this extreme measure. Tom trained gallop up to the verge of the Deep Cut, retained something of the singular purpose which and words then spoken were now on his lips, had urged him into the Deep Cut. On the morn- broken, wanting in continuity, but full of meaning of the wedding-day he mused to the follow-ing to the pale girl who stood above him. ing effect:

Death is nothing," repeated Tom. “Don't “ If I die now it will be all the better. If this take the leap; we may get over. The white lifo is worth any thing, it is only so when we can'queen with a yellow crown round her head con

BY P. P.

COOKE.

ger.

to the sea.

descends to ride with me. Her hair is like long| “We got upon fast horses. The sun was shiwillows. Lord! how it streams in my face. It ning and the ground was all in a white blaze and blinds me. Death is nothing. Whip-spur— singing like silver under the clack of the horsehere we thunder. Screech, Major." And Tom shoes. Lord ! what a gait we went at ! Herries yelled. The wild Jager, who is said to

• He mounted himself on a coal-black steed, traverse the German forests by night, might utter

And her on a freckled greysuch a yell, in the closing rush of his moonlit

With a bugalet horn hung at his sidechase.

And roundly they rode away.' An old servant, looking like some old noble physician of Carthage or Utica, so striking was “So-so. She rides like a queen of the Tarthe fine antique dignity of his face, held poor tars when she hears her king's horn. She is Tom upon his bed. Dr. Gaunt slept in a chair strait as a poplar. How her curls fly! I thought in a corner of the chamber; the cries of his pa- one of them was a yellow snake, and snapped at tient did not rouse him.

me as the wind whipped it out. But it was not “How deep her eyes are !”--the speech of so. The beautiful lady has a delicious mouth Tom Herries went wandering on. “ They are with scarlet lips, and eyes cut out of blue jewels. like two blue wells, with a little star glimmering Father, give me some wine. There is a little in the bottom of one of them and a horned moon stream coming down a hill-what a fresh, cool in the other. Take away your eyes—they are stream !-bring me near it, and put my mouth to distressing because they are so sad. And so you

it. How careless! You have let me fall to a will ride with me, beautiful lady? Flight rushes great depth just as I meant to drink. The fall like an eagle. An eagle has a singular scream ; stuns me, and I cannot look up. Ah, now I can. don't you think so? I saw one, a short time Reach out a hand, Miss Minny ; Lord ! what an ago, come down from the mountains on his way arm she puts out-long, and white as the wood

As the wind struck him he yelled. of a peeled maple. But it lifts me—-up-upI must let you hear how he yelled.” Again Tom up—to life again. You draw me up—you make uttered a cry, as shrill and defiant as the osprey's. me live-your merciful eyes give me unspeaka

A mind all a-glow with the wild fires of fever ble happiness.” is often raised to be of kindred with that of the The last sentence was spoken calmly; the eyes rapt poet ; the " vision” seems to be as palpable, of the speaker were directed full to the face of and the faculty divine" as vigorous : only as a Miss Blair ; the deeply-moved girl answered it fatal drawback, the vision of delirium goes flit- as though it had been the utterance of a sane ting, shifting, now some bright face, presently a man. fanged mouth, alternately something angelic and

“Would that I could draw you up-would something demoniac; and the faculty divipe of that I could make you live." delirium, instead of persevering into fair crea- “What price would you pay for his safety ?" tions, mars its work into the same incongruities the elder Herries asked with a manner of harsh of the vision-for instance, when it would finish scrutiny. a delicate hand to its idea of an angel, or beau- “ My life, if

You have misjudged tiful woman, it is taken captive by a fantasy, and me, sir. I am not cold and indifferent to the conmakes the arm stream off like a horse-tail, or dition of your son." end with a serpent's open mouth. Tom Herries Miss Blair passed to the chair of Dr. Gaunt, was a-glow in this way; and his stimulated wits and shook him with so much force that he preswere busy upon such wild work. He had not ently looked up with a pair of very red eyes, and been sufficiently trained in speech, or fed with said—“bless me, I must have fallen into a doze.” the thoughts of others, to talk the delirious elo- “ Doctor—are you quite awake? Is there no quence of a mad scholar, but his speech was means of curing this terrible delirium ?" Jet in its way brilliant, and ran into metaphor “ The delirium will go off,” replied Dr. Gaunt, and simile; the fever-blaze had even brought out rubbing his eyes with the corners of his handupon the tablets of his memory, as heat brings out kerchief;—" but how it will leave him is another characters traced in sympathetic ink, certain odds question.” Then the old gentleman blew his nose and ends of old verse. Tom certainly, in his or- explosively; and having done so, proceeded to dinary condition of wholesome dulness, could charge it again with an immense grasp of snuff, Dever have recalled them.

necessary.

not a pinch I cannot venture to tax the reader with the “ Now that you are quite awake, promise me whole of the wandering talk of this cheerless this, Doctor ; stay faithfully here, and when the scene. I must hurry to the end of it. After delirium is about to subside send a fast rider for much of a like kind, Tom said-still recurring to me.

Whatever the hour may be, night or day, the desperate ride :

through any weather I will come at once. I have

« PreviousContinue »