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Tales by the Theologian and the Poet. 59 craves of Torquemada—what Torquemada is very willing to grant
-the permission to cut down and bring to the public place the wood of the pile that is to consume them !-craves to be allowed with his own hand to set fire to the pile! Horrible! We pass on to the Poet's tale, which is indeed pure innocence. He tells of the 'Birds of Killingworth. The farmers of Killingworth (like some farmers of our own country) issued their decree for the destruction of the small birds. An amiable preceptor pleads for them in vain. They are destroyed, but their death is signally avenged. Myriads of caterpillars, hosts of devouring insects, make the land a desert. Killingworth is, like Herod, devoured by worms, because, like Herod, it had slaughtered the innocents. Let our own farmers read and be warned! We quote three stanzas of the preceptor's pleading for the little birds, which we are sure will find a response in every gentle heart in the country.
You slay them all! and wherefore ? for the gain
Of a scant handful more or less of wheat,
Scratched up at random by industrious feet,
Or a few cherries that are not so sweet
Do you ne'er think who made them, and who taught
Alone are the intepreters of thought ?
Sweeter than instrument of man e'er caught!
The dim, leaf-latticed windows of the grove,
Their old, melodious madrigals of love!
'Tis always morning somewhere, and above
Somewhere the birds are singing evermore.' Here end the Tales of a Wayside Inn.' A few occasional, personal, or lyrical poems follow, collected under the rather fanciful title of Birds of Passage.' Birds of passage though they ., are called, they will probably stay longer with us than any of the preceding tales. When one who is really entitled to the name of poet speaks in his own name, and utters from the heart some
sentiment of his own, he is then more than ever sure of our attention. The Children's Hour' and Weariness' will be, we suspect, the two popular favourites of this volume.
I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
And voices soft and sweet.'
But we will not quote them. They will find their way, without our aid, into the hands of all who have leisure and hearts to read a tender verse. Yet we do not know whether we ought not to enter a protest-a very mild protestation it shall be-against the sentiment contained in the second of these poems, Weariness.
"O little feet! that such long years
Must ache and bleed beneath your load;
Am weary, thinking of your road.
O little hands! that, weak or strong,
Have still so long to give or ask;
Am weary, thinking of your task.
And so on. It is pretty and plaintive ; but if the older man is weary, can he possibly forget that in his own youth he was not weary ; that the child, the boy, the young man, have no happiness comparable to that of activity and effort ? It does not seem to be a natural strain of sentiment to be weary for them. The old man seeks repose for himself, but he would not wish a premature repose for youth ; this is tantamount to wishing them a cessation of life ; for life, activity, and effort, are almost synonymous terms.
It is in the latter part of the volume, amongst these · Birds of ‘Passage,' that occurs the only piece which has an allusion to the civil war now raging in the country of the author. It consists of some verses on the Cumberland, one of the vessels, it will be remembered, that suffered from the attack of the iron-clad Merrimac. The verses are not remarkable. The concluding stanza is the most spirited, and will dwell on the ear for the bold prophecy it contains
Ho! brave hearts that went down in the seas !
Ye are at peace in the troubled stream,
Thy flag that is rent in twain,
Shall be one again,
And without a seam!'. Bold prophecy! But we hear it willingly from the lips of a poet of the Northern States. One again, and without a seam !' Alas! the conquest made by arms must for a long time be retained by arms. One thinks that if the rent flag be reunited it must be long before the seam disappears.
Judging by the extracts we have made from these new poems of Longfellow, our readers will probably be of opinion that if they do not increase, they do not diminish the reputation he has amongst us. We have not yet received, nor do we expect from this writer a long continuous work which critics will agree in calling a great poem. But we have received, and fully hope to continue to receive from him very many pleasing poems of the lyrical order. And after all, is not this the form which we all desire poetry to take? Why complain that there are no great poems? We do not really want them. Most of our modern poets have made their reputation by brief poems. Our own laureate, who is not only ours but the present laureate of all Europe, has won his pride of place by a succession of brief poems. Not only Moore, the sweetest of all English song writers, but Wordsworth, gravest and most studious of poets, is best known by his shorter pieces. If a jury of critics were impanelled to decide where we are to find in modern times the longest continuous strain of admirable poetry, they would perhaps fix upon the Third and Fourth Cantos of Childe Harold ; and what are these but a succession of brief poems, in the same metre, strung very slightly together? It is no ill compliment, therefore, to say of Mr. Longfellow, that he is best known by his shortest pieces ; nor do we think it too bold a prophecy to make—notwithstanding his plaintive lines on Weariness'—if we predict that we shall yet receive still other beautiful lyrics from his pen. We think we detect here and there in the present volume indications of a more earnest spirit of thought than distinguished even his previous works, and this encourages us to expect that he may yet write many verses as tender and more profound than those for which we stand at present indebted to him.
ART. III. --Reign of Elizabeth. By JAMES ANTHONY FROUDE, M.A.,
late Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. Vols. I. II. London: Longman & Co.
The first two volumes of Mr. Froude's contemplated history of the reign of Elizabeth are occupied with events which belong to the first eight years since the Queen's accession. At this rate, the author's narrative, before reaching its close, must extend to not less than ten volumes; and if the volumes to follow shall be of equal value with the instalment now before us, thoughtful Englishmen will not regret that so much space has been assigned to the subject. We speak of thoughtful Englishmen, because so minute and thorough a treatment of the period as the author is prosecuting can hardly be popular ; especially as his narrative is made to consist so largely of relations taken from manuscripts, and often strung together by a slight thread of connection on the part of the historian. Mr. Froude possesses descriptive power of a high order, and it comes into play in some instances with great effect in the pages under review ; but his judgment or his taste disposes him to leave the men of the time, as far as possible, to tell their own tale after their own manner. Such writers as Gibbon, Prescott, and Motley, prefer gathering up the substance of ancient documents, and giving it in the condensed and eloquent language at their command. To the many their course will be the most acceptable ; but to persons who read history in search of distinct and certain information on the matters of which it treats, will prize Mr. Froude's method very highly. The extent in which he has succeeded in basing his history on manuscript authorities, and in making the men of the times our instructors concerning them, is really surprising.
The effect, indeed, is not to reverse any of our old impressions in relation to the policy or the parties of that age. We all knew before that the safety of England under Elizabeth was to be traced very largely to the complications of European politics ; that the guidance of the vessel through a sea so full of danger devolved mainly upon the genius and labour of Cecil; that the character of Elizabeth seemed at times to exhibit the strength of her father and the weakness of her mother; that the Queen of Scots, with her more feminine and graceful texture, was fully a match to Elizabeth in subtle policy and in manly daring, and could wear the mask of deception much more artfully, and purchase the objects of her ambition at a much more guilty cost ; that English Puritanism
Character of the Work. and the English Parliament had work enough to do to guard the person of Elizabeth, and to keep the elements so hostile to her power in check; and that the religious policy of her Majesty, Protestant as she was supposed to be, was of a kind so oscillating, and at times so doubtful, as to subject both Catholics and Protestants to many alternations of hope and fear. But though we have known all these things, in Mr. Froude's chapters these elements of the past are developed more fully than elsewhere, and if his work should be completed they will be engraven more deeply than ever in our national literature.
The French possessions of our Norman kings served to perpetuate relations between England and the Continent through a series of centuries. But before the accession of Henry VIII. that state of things may be said to have come to an end. Since the days of Henry V. English politics had become almost wholly domestic. Calais was retained. The rest had gone. It was left to Henry VIII. and Wolsey to make England a power in the affairs of Europe on a new basis. The great rival sovereignties were Spain and France. The remaining states allied themselves with the one or the other according to circumstances. England often held the balance between them. The men who ruled under Edward VI. had much to do at home : they looked little abroad. Mary, by her marriage with Philip, embroiled England in Spanish politics to its great loss and dishonour. Under her evil sway even Calais had been taken by the French. Nothing could be more pitiable than the general state of the country as left by that misguided woman.
The economy with which Mary had commenced had been sacrificed to superstition, and what the hail had left the locusts had eaten. She had brought herself to believe that the confiscation of the abbey lands had forfeited the favour of Heaven; and stripping the already embarrassed crown of half its remaining revenues to re-establish the clergy, she had sacrificed, at the same time, the interests of England to her affection for her husband, and forced the nation into a war in which they had neither object to gain nor injury to redress. She had extorted subsidies only to encounter shame and defeat, and in the midst of the general exasperation of the disgrace which had fallen upon England, she had allowed Philip to avail himself of the scanty revenues of the treasury, and had made him a present of sixty thousand pounds, with the valuable jewels of the crown.
Although the country was financially ruined, there was still the land, and there was still the people to fall back upon; but in the two last sad years famine and plague had been added to other causes of suffering, and the long gaps in the muster-rolls told a fearful tale of the ravages which they had made. The