Изображения страниц

The Legends of St. Patrick; in 1874, Alex- | from his various works. Of his prose that

ander the Great, a dramatic poem; and in 1879, Legends of the Saxon Saints. Besides the above-mentioned drama he has written St. Thomas of Canterbury. His prose works are English Misrule and Irish Misdeeds (1848); Picturesque Sketches of Greece and Turkey (1850); The Church Settlement of Ireland, or Hibernia Pacanda (1866); Ireland's Church Property and the right use of it (1867); and Pleas for Secularization (1867). A volume of correspondence entitled Proteus and Amadeus, in which the chief religious and philo- FLORENCE MACCARTHY'S FAREWELL sophical questions in controversy at the present day were reviewed, and published in 1878, was edited by Mr. De Vere.

which we most prefer is to be found in the introductions he has written to his own and his father's works. The style combines the two qualities of simplicity and cultured grace. His English Misrule and Irish Misdeeds is a generous defence of his countrymen against the scurrilous attacks of some English writers and public speakers.]


Of the volumes of poetry enumerated, that which possesses the greatest interest for Irish readers is Inisfail, from which the following extracts are taken. The idea is very original; it is to convey in a series of poems a picture of the chief events in certain great cycles of Irish history. "Its aim," writes the poet himself, "is to embody the essence of a nation's history." "Contemporary historic poems," he proceeds, "touch us with a magical hand; but they often pass by the most important events, and linger beside the most trivial. Looking back upon history, as from a vantage ground, its general proportions become palpable; and the themes to which poetry attaches herself are either those critical junctures upon which the fortunes of a nation turn, or such accidents of a lighter sort as illustrate the character of a race. A historic series of poems thus becomes possible, the interest of which is continuous, and the course of which reveals an increasing significance." In accordance with this plan the writer illustrates each epoch by some representative poem and event. At one time he celebrates a great victory in the joyous swing of the ballad; at another an elegy depicts the darkness of a nation's defeat. A great religious epoch is celebrated in stately rhyme; and at another moment the poet has to resort to a lighter measure when individual love plays an important part in fashioning the history of the future. In this way the history of Ireland is * presented in a series of tableaux. It is impossible to speak too highly of the skill with which the poet performs his task: he gives, from the nature of the work, specimens of his mastery over all forms of poetry-the martial, the sacred, the passionate, the sad, and over a large variety of measures. The volume published under the title of The Infant Bridal, also contains many exquisite gems

My pensive-brow'd Evangeline!
What says to thee old Windsor's pine,

Whose shadow o'er the pleasance sways?

It says, "Ere long the evening star
Will pierce my darkness from afar :

I grieve as one with grief who plays."

Evangeline! Evangeline!

In that far distant land of mine

There stands a yew-tree among tombs!
For ages there that tree has stood,
A black pall dash'd with drops of blood;
O'er all my world it breathes its glooms.

England's fair child, Evangeline!
Because my yew-tree is not thine,

Because thy gods on mine wage war,
Farewell! Back fall the gates of brass;
The exile to his own must pass:

I seek the land of tombs once more.


We seem to tread the self-same street,
To pace the self-same courts or grass;
Parting, our hands appear to meet:
O vanitatum vanitas!

Distant as earth from heaven or hell,

From thee the things to me most dear: Ghost-throng'd Cocytus and thy will

Between us rush. We might be near.

Thy world is fair: my thoughts refuse

To dance its dance or drink its wine; Nor canst thou hear the reeds and yews

That sigh to me from lands not thine.

DECEMBER, A.D. 1601.

O'er many a river bridged with ice,

Through many a vale with snow-drifts dumb, Past quaking fen and precipice

The Princes of the North are come!

[blocks in formation]

Twas a dream! but in dream at thy foot did he follow

Through the meadow-sweet on by the marish and mallow!

Was he thine? Have they slain him? Thou seek'st him, not knowing

Thyself too art theirs, thy sweet breath and sad lowing!

Thy gold horn is theirs; thy dark eye and thy silk!

And that which torments thee, thy milk, is their



'Twas no dream, mother land! 'Twas no dream, God works through man, not hills or snows! In man, not men, is the godlike power;


Hope dreams, but grief dreams not-the grief of The man, God's potentate, God foreknows;

the Gael!

He sends him strength at the destined hour.
His Spirit he breathes into one deep heart:
His cloud he bids from one mind depart:
A Saint!-and a race is to God re-born!
A Man!-One man makes a nation's morn!

From Leix and Ikerren to Donegal's shore
Rolls the dirge of thy last and thy bravest


O woods, that o'er the waters breathe
A sigh that grows from morn till night!
O waters, with your voice like death,

And yet consoling in your might;
Ye draw, ye drag me with a charm,

As when a river draws a leaf,
From silken court and citied swarm,
To your cold homes of peace in grief.

In boyhood's flush I trod the shore

When slowly sank a crimson sun, Revealed at moments, hid once more

By rolling mountains, gold or dun: But now I haunt its marge when day

Has laid his fulgent sceptre by, And tremble over waters gray Long windows of a hueless sky.


The dying tree no pang sustains;
But, by degrees relinquishing
Companionship of beams and rains,

Forgets the balmy breath of spring.

From off th' enringèd trunk that keeps
His annual count of ages gone,
Th' embrace of summer slowly slips;-
Still stands the giant in the sun.

He falls; the forests round him roar;-
Ere long on quiet bank and copse
Untrembling moonbeams rest; once more
The startled babe his head down drops.
But ah for one who never drew

From age to age a painless breath!
And ah the old wrong ever new!
And ah the many-centuried death!

His myriad lips, that suck'd of old

The dewy breasts of heaven, are dry;
His roots remit the crag and mould;
Yet painless is his latest sigh.

[blocks in formation]

Thy breeze o'er the upland blows clement and | Blind, blind as the blindworm; cold, cold as the


Who, seeing thee, see not, possess but not love thee!


And o'er fields, once his own, which the hind
must abandon.

A caitiff the noble who draws from thy plains
His all, yet reveres not the source of his great-

A clown and a serf, 'mid his boundless domains
His spirit consumes in the prison of his straight-


Through the cloud of its pathos thy face is more fair:

In old time thou wert sun-clad; the gold robe
thou worest!

To thee the heart turns as the deer to her lair,
Ere she dies, her first bed in the gloom of the


The little Black Rose shall be red at last!

What made it black but the East wind dry,
And the tear of the widow that fell on it fast?
It shall redden the hills when June is nigh!
The Silk of the Kine shall rest at last!

What drave her forth but the dragon-fly?
In the golden vale she shall feed full fast
With her mild gold horn, and her slow dark eye.

The wounded wood-dove lies dead at last :
The pine long bleeding, it shall not die!

Our glory, our sorrow, our mother! Thy God
In thy worst dereliction forsook but to prove-This song is secret. Mine ear it pass'd
In a wind o'er the stone plain of Athenry.2



BORN 1814- DIED 1873.

To the last-named periodical he began to contribute shortly after its start. His first great success was with his poetry, two of his pieces, "Shemus O'Brien," and "Phadrig Crohoore" being excellent specimens of the half humorous, half pathetic composition, which best depicts Irish life. One of these we quote. Le Fanu was also the author of a considerable number of novels. His chief power was in describing scenes of a mysterious or grotesque character, and the mystery in some of his series is kept up with considerable skill to the end.


[The subject of our memoir is yet another | Some of the best things, however, he wrote member of the large family of wits that sprung were shorter sketches in the old numbers of from the stock of the Sheridans. Joseph the Dublin University Magazine, an extract Sheridan Le Fanu was the grandson of Alicia | from one of which we give. In 1850 he pubLe Fanu, the favourite sister of Richard lished The Cock and Anchor, a Chronicle of Old Brinsley Sheridan, and an authoress herself, Dublin. This was followed in 1863 by the like nearly every member of her family. His House by the Churchyard. He is also the father was the Rev. Thomas P. Le Fanu. author of Uncle Silas, Tenants of Malory, Joseph was born in Dublin on the 28th of Willing to Die, and other stories. In most of August, 1814. He graduated with honours these later productions there is the skilfulness in Trinity College, and at an early age he in contriving a plot of which we have spoken; began writing for the newspapers. Ulti- there are also frequently fine scenes; but some mately he became part proprietor of the Dub- of the stories are weakened by the want of lin Evening Mail, with its weekly issue the condensation so common in tales that appear Warder; and a few years before his death he in serial form. was also the owner of the Dublin University Magazine.

Mr. Le Fanu, who had retired from social life several years previously, owing to the death of his wife, died in his house in Merrion Square, Dublin, on February 7, 1873. His friends, according to a magazine article, "admired him for his learning, his sparkling wit, and pleasant conversation, and loved him for his manly virtues . . . and his loving affectionate nature."]

1 Ireland is spoken of in this little poem in the mystical

terms commonly employed among the older Irish bards: the moral is that Ireland should hope for a bright future

in spite of its gloomy past.-ED.

2 The scene of a great Irish defeat.


[The tale from which the following passage is an extract appeared under the title, "Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess," in the November number (1838) of the Dublin University Magazine. The same facts supplied the chief incident in Uncle Silas. A young girl-she is the countess is left by her father as the ward of her uncle. This uncle wishes her to marry his son, "Edward T--n." She refuses, and one night the events described in the following extract took place. The Emily mentioned is daughter of the uncle of the countess.]

I went to my room early that night, but I was too miserable to sleep. At about twelve o'clock, feeling very nervous, I determined to call my cousin Emily, who slept, you will remember, in the next room, which communicated with mine by a second door. By this private entrance I found my way into her chamber, and without difficulty persuaded her to return to my room and sleep with me. We accordingly lay down together—she undressed, and I with my clothes on--for I was every moment walking up and down the room, and felt too nervous and miserable to think of rest or comfort. Emily was soon fast asleep, and I lay awake, fervently longing for the first pale gleam of morning, reckoning every stroke of the old clock with an impatience which made every hour appear like six. It must have been about one o'clock when I thought I heard a slight noise at the partition door between Emily's room and mine, as if caused by somebody's turning the key in the lock. I held my breath, and the same sound was repeated at the second door of my room-that which opened upon the lobby-the sound was here distinctly caused by the revolution of the bolt in the lock, and it was followed by a slight pressure upon the door itself, as if to ascertain the security of the lock. The person, whoever it might be, was probably satisfied, for I heard the old boards of the lobby creak and strain, as if under the weight of somebody moving cautiously over them. My sense of hearing became unnaturally, almost painfully acute. I suppose the imagination added distinctness to sounds vague in themselves. I thought that I could actually hear the breathing of the person who was slowly returning down the lobby; at the head of the staircase there appeared to occur a pause; and I could distinctly hear two or three sentences hastily

whispered; the steps then descended the stairs with apparently less caution. I now ventured to walk quickly and lightly to the lobby door, and attempted to open it; it was indeed fast locked upon the outside, as was also the other. I now felt that the dreadful hour was come; but one desperate expedient remained-it was to awaken Emily, and by our united strength, to attempt to force the partition door, which was slighter than the other, and through this to pass to the lower part of the house, whence it might be possible to escape to the grounds, and forth to the village. I returned to the bedside, and shook Emily, but in vain; nothing that I could do availed to produce from her more than a few incoherent words-it was a death-like sleep. She had certainly drank of some narcotic, as had I probably also, spite of all the caution with which I had examined everything presented to us to eat or drink. I now attempted, with as little noise as possible, to force first one door, then the other-but all in vain. I believe no strength could have effected my object, for both doors opened inwards. I therefore collected whatever movables I could carry thither, and piled them against the doors, so as to assist me in whatever attempts I should make to resist the entrance of those without. I then returned to the bed and endeavoured again, but fruitlessly, to awaken my cousin. It was not sleep, it was torpor, lethargy, death. I knelt down and prayed with an agony of earnestness; and then seating myself upon the bed, I awaited my fate with a kind of terrible tranquillity.

I heard a faint clanking sound from the narrow court which I have already mentioned, as if caused by the scraping of some iron instrument against stones or rubbish. I at first determined not to disturb the calmness which I now felt, by uselessly watching the proceedings of those who sought my life; but as the sounds continued, the horrible curiosity which I felt overcame every other emotion, and I determined, at all hazards, to gratify it. I therefore crawled upon my knees to the window, so as to let the smallest portion of my head appear above the sill. The moon was shining with an uncertain radiance upon the antique gray buildings, and obliquely upon the narrow court beneath, one side of which was therefore clearly illuminated, while the other was lost in obscurity, the sharp outlines of the old gables, with their nodding clusters of ivy, being at first alone visible. Whoever or whatever occasioned the noise which had

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »