Abbildungen der Seite

rather select such a writer as the late Mrs. Gaskell, or the present Miss Thackeray. In all the qualities in which women excel men, in delicacy of touch, in minute observation, in the art of telling a simple story, both these writers take an eminent rank.

To conclude. It does not appear to us that any woman has originated, or is likely to originate, a new school of fictional literature. Women succeed best when they confine themselves to that range of subjects which comes naturally under female observation. When they attempt a wider range, they become mere copyists of men, and like many copyists, they exaggerate the defects of their masters, outvying them in coarseness, in repulsiveness, and in laxity of tone. We have thought it right to speak plainly in this article, but we trust that we have used no unnecessary personality. We have been compelled to mention names, and to criticise sharply some of the productions which have appeared under those names, because we feel convinced that these productions cannot but cause mischief. Possibly this taste for stories about disreputable people may in time pass away; but before it passes away it may do irreparable injury. Young people may grow up in the belief that the fair surface of society is due to an organized hypocrisy, that in reality we are all cheats, gamblers, seducers, bigamists, murderers. As a practical result their own moral standard will be lowered. "Why should I shrink from committing this pleasant sin ?" they may ask. “I shall be no worse than my hypocritical neighbours ?" And what is the remedy for this diseased literary appetite? The remedy is obvious, but not easy of application, for it requires that the taste of the novel-reading public should be considerably raised. At present the standard is deplorably low. The dainty lady who, on stepping from her brougham at Mr. Mudie's door, asks for the last sensational or sensual novel, and the ragged urchin who buys the "Hatchet of Horror" in Drury Lane, are, in point of real taste and culture, pretty much on a level.

The Story of Corn Light.

THE story of 'Lorn Light, that lends its lamp
To warn all vessels from the Reef of Doom,
Where lion-surges ceaseless roar and ramp,

And many a gallant heart has found a tomb.

West of the point whereon the lighthouse stands,
A village nestles on the valley's side,
Through which a brooklet tumbles to the sands,
To lose itself in the unrestful tide;
A little village, full of fisher-folk,

That boasts a tiny pier, of stone rough-hewn,
Whereon the wild waves beat themselves to smoke
When keen North-Easters pipe their stormy tune.

Here, summer visitors-like swallows-came,

And gleamed along the sands. But when the year, Forewarned of death, touched all the woods with flame For funeral pyre, then would they disappear: Wherefore they knew not what the winters brought To that small village by the water's edge; How with the cliffs the furious ocean fought,

Broke on their breast, and leapt from ledge to ledge.

Nor knew they what it was to wait and yearn

For those whose boats might never more come homeSo wondered why the fishers' wives should turn Eyes dim with awe to that long line of foam

That long, white, angry bar across the tide,

Seen in the daylight, heard in midnight gloom, Those rocks, throughout the sea-coast wild and wide, Known, feared, and hated as the Reef of Doom.

In that small village Richard Masters dwelt,
An honest fisher, owner of a boat;
Yet one who in his inmost bosom felt

A longing for some nobler work afloat.
His father had been one of Nelson's crew,
An "Agamemnon " tried and trusty tar;
He fought where'er the flag of Nelson flew,
And trod the slippery deck at Trafalgar.
Small wonder, Richard, as he hauled his net,
And steered "The Little Commodore" to shore,
Should dream the vague, ambitious dreams that fret
A noble heart-inactive-to the core.

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]


His mother lived; and, but for her, the boy
Had long ago sought scenes of sterner strife,
Content for her his labours to employ,

And gently feed her failing lamp of life.

But Love, the pilot, who delights to steer

Poor human hearts on sandbank or on reef-
Or, for long voyages will sail them clear,

Which bring them back with heavy freights of grief—
Love took the tiller out of Richard's hand

('Tis vain the pilot's mandate to resist),

Then turned the vessel's head away from land,
And let her drift where'er the winds might list!

For, as he dropt one evening with the stream,
Out past the pier-head to his anchored sloop,
He saw a maiden lovelier than a dream-

O'er violet eyes saw golden lashes droop;
Saw the red sun on silken tresses shine,

On peach-soft cheeks, and lips of rosy bloom,
And fancied he beheld some shape divine

That beamed upon him in the gathering gloom.

Ah, sweet! ah, sore! the anguish and the joy

When first the soul's chords thrill to passion's hand! With heart that almost burst for bliss, the boy

Let fall the oars, and drifted from the land.

A summer-visitor that lovely maid,

Who thus had bound poor Richard's heart her thrall— One of those summer sojourners who paid

Their fleeting visits to the hamlet small.

He learnt her name; and she was far above
The humble fisher's wildest, fondest, dreams;

But all in vain he strove against the love

That filled his brain with visionary schemes.

He never spoke of that deep wound he bore,
But grew so pale, and thin, and heavy-eyed,
That watching him, his mother's heart grew sore
To note how oft he sadly mused and sighed ;
For restlessness had seized him, and the land

Seemed hateful evermore by night and day,
And when he was not straying on the strand
He hoisted sail, and stood to sea away.
At length he sold "The Little Commodore,"
The boat that earned their living on the sea,
And gave his mother half the price for store,

And then to seek his fortune off went he.


« ZurückWeiter »