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1868 was produced the most elaborate of all his works, The Ring and the Book,' an Italian story of the seventeenth century concerning certain assassins
Put to death
By heading or hangiug, as befitted ranks,
At Rome on February twenty-two,
Since our suivation sixteeu ninety eight. The latest works of Mr. Browning are · Balaustion's Adventure, including a Transcript from Euripides,' (1871)—which is another recital of the story of Alcestes, supposed to be told by a Greek girl who had witnessed the performance; “Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau, Saviour of Society' (1871); a name under which is thinly vailed the name of Louis Napoleon; Fifine at the Fair' (1872); “Red Cotton Night-cap Country” (1873); and · Aristophane's Apology, including a Transcript from Euripides, being the last Adventure of Balaustion ’ (1875). Of Aristophanes
Splendour of wit that springs a thunder ball-
Satire - to burn and purify the world,
True aim, fair purpose-
we have this bright pen-and-ink portrait:
And no ignoble presence ! on the bulge
Of the clear baldness-all his head one brow-
True, the veins swelled, blue network, and there surged
A red froin cheek to temple--then retired
As if the dark-leaved chaplet damped a flame-
Was never pursed by temperance or health.
But huge the eyeballs rolled black native fire,
Imperiously triumphant, nostrils wide
Waited their incense; wbile the pursed mouth's pout
Aggressive, while the beak supreme above,
While the head, face, nay, pillared throat thrown back,
Beard whitening under like a vinous foam-
These made a glory of such insolence,
I thought, such domineering deity
Hephaistos might have carved to cut the brine
For his gay brother's prow, imbrue that path
Which, parpling, recognised the conqueror
Impudent and majestic: drunk, perhaps,
But that's religion ; sense too plainly enuffed :
Still, sensuality was grown a rite.
In 1875 also appeared from the prolific pen of the poet The Inn
A fertile and original author with high and generous aims, Mr. Browning has proved his poetic power alike in thought, description, passion, and conception of character. But the effect of even his happiest productions is marred by obscurity, by eccentricities of style and expression, and by the intrusion of familiar phrases and Hudibrastic rhymes or dry metaphysical discussions. Ilis choice of subjects-chiefly Italian-his stories of monastic life, 'repulsive crimes, and exceptional types of character—are also against his popularity. “The Ring and the Book'is prolix: four volumes of blank verse, in which the same tale of murder is told by various interlocu.
tors, with long digressions from old chronicles and other sources, such a work must repel all but devoted poetical readers. These, however, Mr. Browning has obtained, and the student who per severes, digging for the pure untempered gold' of poetry, will find his reward in the pages of this master of psychological monologues and dramatic lyrics.
Mr. Browning is a native of Camberwell in Surrey, born in 1812, and educated at the London University: He is also an honorary Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. In November 1846 he was mar. ried, as already stated, to Miss Elizabeth Barrett. Of Mr. Brown. ing's many descriptions of the sunny south,' the following is a favourable specimen, and Miss Mitford states that it was admired by Mr. Ruskil for its exceeding truthfulness:
Picture of the Grape-hardest.
But to-day not a boat reached Salerno,
So back to a man
Came our friends, with whose belp in the vineyards
Grape-harvest began :
In the vat half-way up on our house-side
Like blood the juice spins,
While your hrother all bare-legged is dancing
Till breathless he grins,
Head-beaten, in effort on effort
To keep the grapes under,
For still when he seems all but master,
In pours the fresh plunder
From girls who keep coming and going
With basket on shoulder,
And eyes shut against the rain's driving,
Your girls that are older-
For under the hedges of aloe,
And where, on its bed
of the orchard's black mould, the love-apple
Lies pulpy and red,
All the young ones are kneeling and filling
Their laps with the snails,
Tempted ont by the first rainy weather
Your best of regales,
As to-night will be proved to my sorrow,
When, aupping in state,
We shall feast our grape-glerners-two dozen,
Three over one plate-
Macaroni, so tempting to swallow,
In slippery strings,
And gourds fried in great purple slices,
That colour of kings.
Meantime, see the gripe-bunch they've bronght you
The rain-water slips
O'er the beavy blue úloom on each globe
Which the wasp to your lips
Still follows with fretful persistence.
Nay, taste while awake.
This half of a curd-white smooth cheese-ball,
That peels, flake by flake,
Like an onion's, each smoother and whiter;
Next sip this weak wine
From the thin green glass flask, with its stopper,
A leaf of the vine;
And end with the prickly pear's red flesh,
That leaves through its juice
The stony black secus ou your pearl teeth.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin. -A Child's Story. ?
Hamelin town 's in Brunswick,
By famous Hanover city;
The river Weser, deep and wide,
Washes its wall ou the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But, when begivs my ditty,
Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer 50
From vermin was a pity.
They fought the dogs, and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cook's own ladlon,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Hade nests inside men's Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women's chats,
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In ifty different sharps and flats.
At last the people in a body
To the Town Hall came flocking.
• 'Tis clear,' cried they, our Mayor's a noddy;
And as for our Corporation-shocking
To think we buy gowns lined with ermine
For dolts that can't or won't determine
What's best to rid us of our vermin!
You hope, because you're old and obese,
To find in the furry civic robe ease ?
Rouse up, sirs ! Give your brains a racking
To find the remedy we're lacking,
Or, bure as fate, we'll send you packing!'
At this the Mayor and Corporation
Quaked with a mighty consternation.
An hour they sat in council,
At length the Mayor broke silence:
For e guilder I'd my ermine gown sell;
I wish I were a mile hence!
It's easy to bid one rack one's brain-
I'm sure my poor head aches again,
I've scratched it go, and all in vain;
O for a trap, a trap, a trap!
Just as he said this, what should hap
At the chamber-door but a gentle tap!
• Bless as,' cried the Mayor, what's that ?'
(With the Corporation as he wt,
Looking little, thongh wondrous fat;
Nor brighter was his eye, vor misler,
Tban a tov-loug-opened oraler,
Save whea at noon bis Diloch grew nutinons
For a plate of turtle green and glutiuous),
Only a scraping of shots on the mat?
Anything like the sound of a rat
Makes my heart go pit-s-pat!
"Come in !'--the Mayor cried, looking bigger:
And in did come the strangest figare.
His queer long coat from heel to head
Was half of yellow and half of red;
And he himself was tall and thin,
With sharp blue eyes, ench like a pin,
And light loose hair, yet swari hy skin,
No tufi on check nor beard on chin,
But lips where smil-e went out and in-
There was no guessing bjs kith and kin !
And nobody could enongh admire
The tall inan rod his quaint attire.
Quoth one: 'It's as my great grandsire.
Starting up at the Trump of Doom's tone,
Had walked this way from his painted tombstono
He advanced to the Council-table:
And, Please your honours,' said he, “I'm able,
By means of a secret charm, to draw
All creatures living beneath the sun,
That creep, or swin, or fly, or run,
After ne so as you never saw !
And I chietly use my charm
On creatures that do people harm,
The mole, and toud. and newt, and viner;
And people call me the Pied Piper.' (And here they noticed round his neck
A scarf of red and yellow stripe,
To match with his coat of the self-same check;
And at the scarf's end hung a pipe ;
And his fingere, tbey noticed, were ever straying,
As if iropatient to be playing
Upon this pipe, as low it dangled
Over his vestare so old-fangled.)
• Yet,' said he, 'poor piper as I am,
In Tartary I freed the Chem,
Last June, from his huge swarms of goats;
I eased in Asia the Nizam
Of a monstrous brood of vampyre bats:
And, as for what your brain bewilders,
If I can rid your town of rats,
Will you give me a thousand guilders ?'
*One? fifty thousand !?—was the exclamation'
Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation.,
Into the street the Piper etept,
Smiling first a little smile,
As if he knew what magic elept
In his quiet pipe the while;
Then, like a musical adept,
To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled,
And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled,
Like a candle flame where salt is sprinkled;
And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered ;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grambling grew to a mighty rumbling
And out of the house the rats came tumbling.
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, gray rats, tawny rats
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,
Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives
Followed the Piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing,
And step by step they followed dancing,
Until they came to the river Weser,
Wherein all plung d and perished
-Save one, who, stout as Julius Cæsar,
Swam across and lived to carry
(As he the maiuscript he cherished)
To Rat-land home nis coinmentary,
Which was · At the first ebril ooies of the pipa
I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,
And putting appl s. wondrous ripe,
Into à cider-press's gripe;.
And a moving away of pickle-tub boards,
And a leaving ajar of conserve cupboards,
And a drawing the corks of train-oil flasks,
And a breaking the hoops of butter casks;
And it seemed as if a voice
(Sweeter far th :p by harp or by psaltery
Is breathed) called out: * O rats, rejoice!
The world is grown to one vast drysaltery!
To munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon ?"
And just as a bulky sugar parcheon,
All ready staved, like a great sun shone
Glorious scarce an inch before me,
Jast ag methought it said, “ Come, bore me !"
-I found the Weser rolling o'er me.'
You slould have heard the Hamelin people
Ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple.
Go,' cried the Mayor, and get long poles !
Poke ont the nests and block np the holes !
Consult with carpenters and builders,
And leave in our town not even a trace
Of The rats |--when suddenly np the face
Of the Piper perked in the inarket-place,
With a 'First, if you please, my thousand guilders !
A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue;
So did the Corporation too.
For Council dinners made rare havoc
With Claret, Moselle. Vin-de-Orave. Hock
And haif the money would replenish