Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

LVI. - THE SONG OF THE CORNISH MEN.

When Sir Jonathan Trelawny, one of the seven bishops, was committed to

the Tower, in 1688, during the religious persecutions under King James, the men of the county of Cornwall, in England, rose one and all, and marched as far as Exeter on their way to free him from prison. It is said that the following song, which was sung all over the county, had great effect in alarming the government, and staying the course of persecution.

A GOOD sword and a trusty hand,
A
merry

heart and true,
King James's men shall understand

What Cornish lads can do.

And have they fixed the where and when ?

And shall Trelawny die ?
Here's thirty thousand Cornishmen

Will see the reason why!

Out spake their captain, brave and bold,

A merry wight was he:
“ If London's Tower were Michael's hold,

We'll set Trelawny free!

“We'll cross the Tamar, land to land ;

The Severn is no stay;
All side by side, and hand to hand,

And who shall bid us nay?

“ And when we come to London wall,

A pleasant sight to view,
Come forth, come forth, ye cowards all,

To better men than you!
“Trelawny, he's in keep and hold;

Trelawny, he may die;
But here's thirty thousand Cornish bold

Will see the reason why!”

LVII.- DREAMS.

O! THERE is a dream of early youth,

And it never comes again ;
'Tis a vision of light — of life of truth

That flits across the brain :

THE MURDERER'S CONFESSION.

857

And love is the theme of that early dream —

So warm, so wild, so new,
That in all our after life I deem

That early dream we rue.
O! there is a dream of maturer years,

More turbulent by far
'Tis a vision of blood, and of woman's tears,

For the theme of that dream is war ;
And we toil in the field of danger and death,

And we shout in the battle array,
Till we find that fame is a bodiless breath,

That vanisheth away.
0! there is a dream of hoary age;

'Tis a vision of gold in store -
Of sums noted down in a figured page,

To be counted o'er and o'er ;
And we fondly trust in our glittering dust,

As a refuge from grief and pain,
Till our limbs are laid on that cold bed

Where the wealth of the world is vain
And is it thus from man's birth to his grave:

In the path which we all are treading ?
Is there naught in his wild career to save

From remorse and self-upbraiding?
O, yes ! there's a dream so pure, so bright,

That the being to whom it is given
Hath bathed in a sea of living light,

And the theme of that dream is Heaven.

LVIII. — THE MURDERER'S CONFESSION
I PAUSED not to question the devil's suggestion,

But o'er the cliff, headlong, the living was thrown;
A scream and a plashing, a foam and a flashing,
And the smothering water accomplished his slaughter, -

All was silent, and I was alone !
With heart-thrilling spasm, I leant o'er the chasm ;

There was blood on the wave that closed over his head,
And in bubbles his breath, as he struggled with death,

Rose up to the surface. I shuddered and fled.

With footsteps that staggered, and countenance haggard,

I stole to my dwelling, bewildered, dismayed,
Till whisperings stealthy said, “ Psha! he was wealthy-

Thou 'rt his heir no one saw thee - then be not afraid." Age-paralyzed, sickly, he must have died quickly,

Each day brought some new ill;
Why leave him to languish and struggle with anguish ?
The deed that relieved him from all that aggrieved him

Was kindly, not cruel.
In procession extended, a funeral splendid,
With bannered displays and escutcheons emblāzoned,

To church slowly passed,
When a dread apparition astounded my vision;
Like an aspen-leaf shaking, dumfounded and quaking,

I stood all aghast !
From its nailed coffin-prison the corpse had arisen,
And all in its shroud vesture, with menacing gesture,
And eyeballs that stared at me, flared at me, glared at me
It pointed it flouted its slayer, and shouted,

In accents that thrilled me,
“That ruthless dissembler, that guilt-stricken trembler,
Is the villain who killed me!”
'Twas fancy's creation — mere hallucination -
A lucky delusion; for again my confusion,
Guilt's evidence sinister, seemed to people and minister
The painful achievement of grief and bereavement.
To escape the ideäl, let me dwell on the real :

I, a pauper so lately,
In abundance possessing life's every blessing,
Fine steeds in my stable, rare wines on my table,
Servants dressed gayly, choice banquets daily,
A wife fond and beautiful, children most dutiful,
I, a pauper so lately, live richly and greatly,
In a mansion-house stately..
Life's blessings ? — 0, liar! all are cursos most dire !

In the midst of my revels,
His eyes ever stare at me, flare at me, glare at me!
Before me, when treading my mănors outspreading,
There yawns an abysmal cliff precipice dismal :
Isolation has vanished, all silence is banished;
Where'er I immew me, his death-shrieks pursue me,

I am haunted by devils !

THE MURDERER'S CONFESSION.

859

My wine, clear and ruddy, seems turbid and bloody:
I cannot quaff water; — recalling his slaughter,
My terror it doubles

- 't is beaded with bubbles,
Each filled with his breath,
That in every glass hisses – -“ Assassin !
My curse shall affright thee, haunt, harrow, and blight thee,

In life and in death!”
When free from this error, I thrill with the terror

(Thought horrid to dwell on!) That the wretch whom men cherish may shamefully perish; Bc publicly gibbeted, * branded, exhibited,

As a murderous felon !
0, punishment hellish! the house I embellish
From center to corner upbraids its adorner :
A door's lowest creaking swells into a shrieking;
Against me each column bears evidence solemn;

Each statue's a Něm'esis ;
They follow - infest me; they strive to arrest me,
Till, in terrified sadness, that verges on madness,

I rush from the premises.
The country's amenity brings no serenity;
Each rural sound seeming a menace or screaming;
Not a bird or a beast but cries, “ Murder !

There goes the offender !
Dog him, waylay him, encompass him, stay him,

And make him surrender!
My flower-beds splendid seem eyes blood-distended -
His eyes, ever staring, and flaring, and glaring!
· I turn from them quickly, but phantoms more sickly

Drive me hither and thither.
I would forfeit most gladly wealth stolen so madly,
Quitting grandeur and revelry to fly from this devilry,

But whither -01 whither ?
Hence, idle delusions! hence, fears and confusions !
Not a single friend's soverance lessens men's reverence,
No neighbor of rank quits my sumptuous banquets

Without lauding their donor.
Throughout the wide county I'm famed for my bounty,

All hold me in honor.
• Tho g in this word has the sound of j.

A Greek divinity, worshiped as tho goddess of vengeance, and regarded as tho personification of the righteous anger of the gods.

Let the dotard and craven by fear be enslaven!
They have vanished ! How fast fly these images ghastly,

When, in firm self-reliance,
You determine on treating the brain's sickly cheating

With scorn and defiance !
Ha! ha! I am fearless henceforward, and tearless ;
No coinage of fancy, no dream's necromancy,
Shall sadden and darken God help me! - hist! hearken!
Tis the shriek, soul-appalling, he uttered when falling!
Nerves a thousand times stronger could bear it no longer !
Grief, sickness, compunction, dismay in conjunction,
Nights and days ghost-prolific, more grim and terrific

Than judges and juries, Make the heart writhe and falter more than gibbet and halter ! Arrest me, secure me, seize, handcuff, immure me! I own my transgression — will make full confession ! Quick! quick! Let me plunge in some dark-vaulted dungeon, Where, though tried and death-fated, I may not be baited By devils and furies !

HORACE SMITH.

LIX. — THE SONG OF THE FORGE.

Clang, clang! the massive anvils ring;
Clang, clang! a hundred hammers swing;
Like the thunder-rattle of a tropio sky,
The mighty blows still multiply ;

Clang, clang!
Say, brothers of the dusky brow,
What are your strong arms forging now?
Clang, clang !- We forge the colter now,-
The colter of the kindly plow;
Prosper it, Heaven, and bless our toil!

May its broad furrow still unbind

To genial rains, to sun and wind,
The most benignant soil !
Clang, clang ! - Our cõlter's course shall be
On many a sweet and sheltered lea,

By many a streamlet's silver tide,
Amid the song of morning birds,
Amid the low of sauntering herds,
Amid soft breezes which do stray
Through woodbine hedges and sweet May,

Along the green hill's side.

« ForrigeFortsett »