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The outlaw's mother, with a presentiment of his fate, entreats him to give over what was to prove a woful huuting, but in vain; and in spite of her forebodings and the terrors of the forest-laws, he goes forth. The rude and animated strain continues :

“Beardslee shot, and the dun deer leap'd,

And he wounded her in the side;
But a'tween the water and the brae,

His hounds, they laid her pride.

And Beardslee has bryttled the deer so well,

That he's had out her liver and lungs;
And with these he has feasted his bloody hounds,

As if they had been Earl's sons."

The hunter and his dogs fall asleep, and are surprised by the foresters, who overpower him, and, after a desperate conflict, leave him dying in the lonely wood. The outlaw's breath passes away in a very gentle strain :

“O! is there no a bonny bird

Can sing as I can say,
Would flee away to my mother's bower

And tell to fetch Beardslee away.

There's no a bird in a' this forest

Will do as mickle for me,
As dip its wing in the wan water,

And streak it on my o'e bree."

Another characteristic of this poetry is the remarkable dramatic power that pervades it, the vividness of the dialogue. This is shown in that, the finest specimen of all, which Coleridge called “the grand old ballad of Sir Patrick

It is a poem with a certain air of historical

Spens."*

* Coleridge's Poems, Dejection, an Ode, p. 282.

interest, heightened by the mysterious uncertainty of its incidents, and remarkable both for the power of description and its depth of passion. It has come down from a remote antiquity, and has manifestly escaped the tampering of modern hands. Let me mention, respecting it, that after I had quoted it in a lecture of a former course, I was told by one of my very kind friends that I had carried him back to the days of his childhood in the old country, when he had heard this very ballad chaunted by the old Scotch people, who must have been familiar with it only by tradition, and not by books. I mention this incident, because it brought home to my mind most distinctly the manner in which the minstrel literature has been perpetuated.*

When the earliest poetry of Greece, the mighty song of Homer, was a tradition from age to age, on the shores and the islands of the Ægean, with no surer abiding-place than the memories and the tongues of the Rhapsodists, the wisest of Athenian lawgivers, and one of the most politic of Athenian statesmen, made it a part of their wisdom and their policy to gather the scattered poetry into safer keeping for the good of all after generations. No

ritish Solon, no British Pisistratus, took like heed for Britain's early popular poetry. Doubtless, much of it has perished, and the names of the minstrels, like the names

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* “ The very kind friend," to whom my brother refers, was the Reverend Doctor Wylie, for many years Vice Provost and Professor of Ancient Languages in the University of Pennsylvania, a man of great learning and eminent purity of character and feeling. He died in 1852. He was a native of the North of Ireland, and for many years pastor of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church in this city. He was a man beloved by all who knew him. W. B. R.

a

of the great church architects of the Middle Ages, have perished utterly. They did their appointed work in their day and generation; and again, when in the last century, (as I proprose to show at a later part of the course,) Eng. lish poetry became artificial, feeble, unreal, and sophisticated, the early song was revived, to breathe into it again health, and strength, and truth.

X

LECTURE V.

Literature of the Sixteenth Century.*

Dawn of letters a false illustration-Intellectual gloom from Edward

III. to Henry VIII.—Chaucer to Spenser—Caxton and the art of printing—Civil wars-Wyatt and Surrey—The sonnet naturalized in English poetry-Blank verse-Henry VIII.--Edward VI.Landor's sonnet--Sternhold and Hopkins, Bishop Latimer--Goodwin Sands and Tenterden Steeple—“ Bloody Mary’-Sackville “ The Mirror of Magistrates”—His career--Age of Elizabeth-Contrasts of her life-The Church as an independent English powerShakspeare-His journey to London-Final formation of the English language—“The well of English undefiled”—The Reformation --Sir Philip Sydney—The Bishop's Bible-Richard Hooker-Spenser and Shakspeare—Wilson's Criticism Sir Walter Raleigh Shakspeare's Prose.

In approaching the early English literature in my last lecture, I stated that, in forming a general notion of the extent of it, we may regard the era of our literature as a period of five centuries, from about 1350 to the present time—the middle of the fourteenth century down to the middle of the nineteenth. The student would, however, be misled, were he to believe as he might naturally do, that, during those five centuries, there was a continuous and uninterrupted progress, that the light of literature was faithfully handed from sire to son, and that new fires were kindled, in due succession, to light the new ages as the world moved on. Looking to that little island of our forefathers, we shall see, in its history, how

* January 31, 1850.

it travelled on with other lights flashing over it than the quiet illumination that shines from the studious watchtowers of poets and scholars. Such tranquil beams were, in many a year, dimmed by the fierce and lurid fires which war in its worst form, civil strife, and ecclesiastical persecutions were casting over the land.

The fainiliar and well-known metaphor which has long designated Chaucer as the “Morning Star” of English poetry, while it is most apt in telling of that primal and fair shining in the eastern sky of our literature, is not so truthful in its relations to the later as to the earlier times. The light of day came on too slowly; and, indeed, a long night followed that early outbreak of the imagination of England's first great poet. Nearly two centuries passed before another arose worthy to take place beside him. Mr. Hallam's historical study of the progress of the European mind during the Middle Ages, has led him to remark, that “The trite metaphors of light and darkness, of dawn and twilight, are used carelessly by those who touch on the literature of the Middle Ages, and

suggest, by analogy, an uninterrupted succession, in which learning, like the sun, has dissipated the shadows of barbarism. But, with closer attention, it is easily seen that this is not a correct representation; that taking Europe generally, far from being in a more advanced stage of learning at the beginning of the fifteenth century than two hundred years before, she had, in many respects, gone backward, and gave little sign of any tendency to recover her ground. There is, in fact, no security, as far as the past history of mankind assures us, that

any

nation will be uniformly progressive in science, arts, and letters ; nor do I perceive, whatever may be the current language,

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