« AnteriorContinuar »
had written, either before or since, none have reached the merit of this admirable little poem. It struck her that some tale of virtuous distress in humble life would be most suitable to the plaintive character of her favorite air; and she accordingly set about such an attempt, taking the name of "Auld Robin Gray" from an ancient herd at Balcarras. When she had written two or three of the verses she called to her junior sister (afterward Lady Hardwicke), who was the only person near her, and thus addressed her: "I have been writing a ballad, my dear; I am oppressing my heroine with many misfortunes; I have already sent her Jamie to sea, and broken her father's arm, and made her mother fall sick, and given her Auld Robin Gray for her lover: but I wish to load her with a fifth sorrow within the four lines-poor thing! Help me to one." "Steal the cow, sister Anne," said the little Elizabeth. "The cow," adds Lady Anne in her letter, "was immediately lifted by me, and the song completed."-Illustrated Book of Scottish Song.
Page 137.-To MARY IN HEAVEN.-" At Ellisland," says Professor Wilson, "Burns wrote many of his finest strains, and, above all, that immortal burst of passion, 'To Mary in Heaven.' This celebrated poem was composed in September, 1789, on the anniversary of the day in which he heard of the death of his early love, Mary Campbell. According to Mrs. Burns, he spent that day, though laboring under cold, in the usual work of his harvest, and apparently in excellent spirits; but as the twilight deepened he appeared to grow very sad about something, and at length wandered out to the barnyard, to which his wife, in her anxiety for his health, followed him, entreating him in vain to observe that the frost had set in, and to return to the fireside. On being again and again requested to do so, he always promised compliance, but still remained where he was, striding up and down slowly and contemplating the sky, which was singularly clear and starry. At last Mrs. Burns found him stretched on a mass of straw, with his eyes fixed on a beautiful planet that shone like another moon,' and prevailed on him to come in. He immediately on entering the house called for his desk, and wrote as they now stand, with all the ease of one copying from memory, these sublime and pathetic verses."-John Gibson Lockhart.
some milkmaid, that had not yet attained so much age and wisdom as to load her mind with any fears of many things that will never be, as too many men too often do; but she cast away all care, and sung like a nightingale. Her voice was good, and the ditty suited for it. "Twas that smooth song which was made by Kit Marlow now at least fifty years ago; and the milkmaid's mother sung an answer to it, which was made by Sir Walter Raleigh in his younger days. They were old-fashioned poetry, but choicely good; I think much better than the strong lines that are now in fashion in this critical age. Look yonder! On my word, yonder they both be a-milking again! I will give her the chub, and persuade them to sing those two songs to us."
Page 145.-MAID OF ATHENS.-Our servant, who had gone before to procure accommodation, met us at the gate and conducted us to Theodora Macri, the Consulina's, where we at present live. This lady is the widow of the consul, and has three lovely daughters; the eldest celebrated for her beauty, and said to be the subject of those stanzas by Lord Byron
"Maid of Athens, ere we part,
Give, oh, give me back my heart!" etc.
Theresa, the Maid of Athens, Catinco, and Mari. ana, are of middle stature. On the crown of the head of each is a red Albanian skull-cap, with a blue tassel spread out and fastened down like a star. Near the edge or bottom of the skull-cap is a handkerchief of various colors bound around their temples. The youngest wears her hair loose, falling on her shoulders-the hair behind descending down the back nearly to the waist, and, as usual, mixed with silk. The two eldest generally have their hair bound, and fastened under the
handkerchief. Their upper robe is a pelisse edged with fur, hanging loose down to the ankles; below is a handkerchief of muslin covering the bosom and terminating at the waist, which is short; under that, a gown of striped silk or muslin, with a gore round the swell of the loins, falling in front in graceful negligence; white stockings and yellow slippers complete their attire. The two eldest have black or dark hair and eyes; their visage oval and complexion somewhat pale, with teeth of dazzling whiteness. Their cheeks are rounded and nose straight, Page 140.-THE MILKMAID'S SONG.-This song rather inclined to aquiline. The youngest, Mariand "The Milkmaid's Mother's Answer" have ana, is very fair, her face not so finely rounded, been ascribed by some editors to Shakespeare, but has a gayer expression than her isters', but there is very little doubt but that they were whose countenances, except when the conversawritten respectively by Marlowe and Raleigh. tion has something of mirth in it, may be said to Izaak Walton says, in The Compleat Angler: "As be rather pensive. Their persons are elegant ani I left this place and entered into the next field a their manners pleasing and lady-like, such as second pleasure entertained me. 'Twas a hand-would be fascinating in any country. They pos
Page 170.-THE BANK O' DOON.-"Miss Margaret K- was the daughter of a land-proprietor in Carrick; Burns met her at the house of a Mauchline friend where she was paying a visit. The lively conversation of the young lady, her youth and beauty, deeply impressed the susceptible poet, and he made her the subject of the song (entitled Young Peggy') which he sent to her enclosed in a letter. The bard could little imag
sess very considerable powers of conversation, and their minds seem to be more instructed than those of the Greek women in general. With such attractions it would, indeed, be remarkable if they did not meet with great attention from, the travellers who occasionally are resident in Athens. They sit in the Eastern style, a little reclined, with their limbs gathered under them on the divan, and without shoes. Their employments are the needle, tambourine, and reading.- Trav-ine the sad fate which was in reality in store for els in Italy, Greece, etc., by H. W. Williams, Esq.
Page 145.-BONNIE LESLEY.-The poet, in a letter to Mrs. Dunlop dated August, 1792, describes the influence which the beauty of Miss Lesley Baillie exercised over his imagination. "Know, then," said he, "that the heartstruck awe, the distant, humble approach, the delight we should have in gazing upon and listening to a messenger of heaven, appearing in all the unspotted purity of his celestial home among the coarse, polluted, far inferior sons of men, to deliver to them tidings that make their hearts swim in joy and their imaginations soar in transport, such, so delighting and so pure, were the emotions of my soul on meeting the other day with Miss Lesley Baillie, your neighbor. Mr. Baillie with his two daughters, accompanied by Mr. H. of G., passing through Dumfries a few days ago on their way to England, did me the honor of calling on me, on which I took my horse (though God knows I could ill spare the time!) and accompanied them fourteen or fifteen miles, and dined and spent the day with them. 'Twas about nine, I think, when I left them, and riding home I composed the following ballad."
Page 166.- JESSY.- The Jessy of this and several other songs was Jessy Lewars, sister of a fellow-exciseman of Burns in Dumfries. She was distinguished from many of his contemporarary admirers by the affectionate sympathy which she always had for him and for his wife, and which during his last illness took the form of a daughter's watchful care. This is the last song Burns ever wrote.-Mary Carlyle Aitken.
Page 167.-WHEN THE KYE COMES HAME.-In the title and chorus of this favorite little pastoral I choose rather to violate a rule in grammar than a Scottish phrase so common that when it is altered into the proper way every shepherd and shepherd's sweetheart accounts it nonsense I was once singing it at a wedding with great glee the latter way ("When the kye come hame "), when a tailor, scratching his head, said, "It was a terrible affected way, that!" I stood corrected, and have never sung it so again.— Hogg's Poems.
Young Peggy. When she was but seventeen, a train of circumstances commenced which was to end in the loss of her good name and her early death, and it is to her unhappy story that this song refers."-Notes to Burns's Poems.
Page 173.-A PASTORAL.-The Phoebe of this admired pastoral was Joanna, the daughter of
the very learned Dr. Richard Bentley, archdeacon and prebendary of Ely, regius professor and master of Trinity College, Cambridge, who died in 1742. She was afterward married to Dr. Dennison Cumberland, bishop of Clonfert in Killaloe in Ireland, and grandson of Dr. Richard Cumberland, bishop of Peterborough.-Spectator, No. 603, note.
Page 179.-CASTARA.-Castara was a daughter of William Herbert, first Lord Powis, and became the wife of the poet. There are no purer and few more graceful records of a noble attachment than that which is contained in the poems to which Habington has given the name of the lady of his happy love.-Richard Chenevix Trench.
Page 185.-To HIS MISTRESS, THE QUEEN OF BoHEMIA. On that amiable princess, Elizabeth, daughter of James I. and wife of the Elector Palatine, who was chosen King of Bohemia September 5, 1619. The consequences of this fatal election are well known. Sir Henry Wotton, who in that and the following year was employed in several embassies in Germany in behalf of this unfortunate lady, seems to have had an uncommon attachment to her merit and fortunes; for he gave away a jewel that was worth a thousand pounds, that was presented to him by the emperor, "because it came from an enemy to his royal mistress the Queen of Bohemia" ("for so," says Walton in The Life of Wotton, "she was pleased he should always call her ").-Bellew's Poets' Corner.
Page 186.-JENNY KISSED ME.-Leigh Hunt called on Carlyle to inform him of some very in the room at the time, was so delighted that she pleasant piece of news. Mrs. Carlyle, who was jumped up and kissed him. On his return home he wrote this pretty little compliment. Page 199.-ANNIE LAURIE.
Where me and Annie Laurie
And never forget will I;
She's backit like the peacock,
"And as this Henry, Lord Clifford, did grow to more years, he was still the more capable of his danger, if he had been discovered. And therefore presently after his grandfather, the Lord Vesey, was dead, the said rumor of his being alive being more and more whispered at the court, made his said loving mother, by the means of her second husband, Sir Launcelot Threlkeld, to send him away with the said shepherds and their wives into Cumberland, to be kept as a shepherd there, sometimes at Threlkeld, and amongst his fatherin-law's kindred, and sometimes upon the borders of Scotland, where they took lands purposely for these shepherds that had the custody of him; where many times his father-in-law came purposely to "These two verses," as we are informed by Mr. visit him, and sometimes his mother, though very Robert Chambers, "were written by Mr. Douglas secretly. By which mean kind of breeding this of Finland upon Annie, one of the four daugh- inconvenience befell him, that he could neither ters of Sir Robert Laurie, first baronet of Max-write nor read; for they durst not bring him up welton, by his second wife, who was a daughter
I'll lay me doun and die.
of Riddell of Minto. As Sir Robert was created a
baronet in the year 1685, it is probable that the verses were composed about the end of the seventeenth or the beginning of the eighteenth century. It is painful to record that, notwithstanding the ardent and chivalrous affection displayed by Mr. Douglas in his poem, he did not obtain the heroine for a wife; she was married to Mr. Ferguson of Craigdarroch."
Page 225.-THE GOOD LORD CLIFFORD.-Mr. Southey, describing the mountain-scenery of the Lake region, says: "The story of the shepherd Lord Clifford, which was known only to a few antiquarians till it was told so beautifully in verse by Wordsworth, gives a romantic history to Blencathara." Henry, Lord Clifford, was the son of John, Lord Clifford, who was slain at Towton, which battle placed the House of York upon the throne. His family could expect no mercy from the conqueror, for he was the man who slew the younger brother of Edward IV. in the battle of Wakefield-a deed of cruelty in a cruel age. The hero of this poem fled from his paternal home, and lived for twenty-four years as a shepherd. He was restored to his rank and estates by Henry VII. The following narrative is from an old MS. quoted by Mr. Southey:
"So in the condition of a shepherd's boy at Lonsborrow, where his mother then lived for the most part, did this Lord Clifford spend his youth, till he was about fourteen years of age, about which time his mother's father, Henry Bromflett, Lord Vesey, deceased. But a little after his death it came to be rumored, at the court, that his daughter's two sons were alive, about which their mother was examined; but her answer was, that she had given directions to send them both beyond seas, to be bred there, and she did not know whether they were dead or alive,
in any kind of learning, lest by it his birth should
be discovered. Yet, after he came to his lands and honors, he learnt to write his name only.
"Notwithstanding which disadvantage, after he came to be possessed again, and restored to the enjoyment of his father's estate, he came to be a very wise man, and a very good manager of his estate and fortunes.
"This Henry, Lord Clifford, after he came to be possessed of his said estate, was a great builder and repairer of all his castles in the North, which had gone to decay when he came to enjoy them; for they had been in strangers' hands about twenty-four or twenty-five years. Skipton Castle, and the lands about it, had been given to William Stanley by King Edward IV., which William Stanley's head was cut off about the tenth year of
King Henry VII.; and Westmoreland was given by Edward IV. to his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who was afterward king of England, and was slain in battle, the 22d of August, 1485.
"This Henry, Lord Clifford, did, after he came to his estate, exceedingly delight in astronomy and the contemplation of the course of the stars, which it is likely he was seasoned in during the course of his shepherd's life. He built a great part of Barden Tower (which is now much decayed), and there he lived much; which it is thought he did the rather because in that place he had furnished himself with instruments for that study.
"He was a plain man, and lived for the most part a country life, and came seldom either to the court or London but when he was called thither to sit in them as a peer of the realm, in which parliament, it is reported, he behaved himself wisely, and nobly, and like a good Englishman."-Knight's Half Hours with the Best Authors.
Page 235.-EPITAPH ON THE COUNTESS OF PEMRROKE. In the Jacobean age the herse was a
stage of wood with sable drapery set up in the centre of the church to support the coffin during the funeral, and afterward removed to stand over the grave in the chancel or chapel until the marble tomb was ready to replace it. While the herse was so standing a poetic mourner might lay upon it a scroll containing appropriate verse. Such a written scroll was an epitaph.
In October, 1621, William Browne laid upon
the herse of the countess dowager of Pembroke, then standing in Salisbury Cathedral, an epitaph -a scroll in which he had written these very lines, without stops or signature:
"Underneath this sable Herse
Both her Mourner and her Tombe "
Collectors of such pieces wrote this, often from imperfect memory, in their books. In 1650, William Browne wrote in a book some of his shorter poems, among them this epitaph, and signed his name thereto, eight years before any version of the epitaph appeared in print, and one hundred and six years before Peter Whalley, editing Ben Jonson's works, claimed it for that poet. William Browne's book is in the British Museum, Lansd. MS. 777. In 1815 it was privately printed by Sir Egerton Brydges, who, however, fancifully rearranged the poems, and did not understand this epitaph.-Henry Salusbury Milman.
Page 235.—ON LUCY, COUNTESS OF BEDFORD. Lucy, the lady of Edward, third Earl of Bedford, and daughter of John, Lord Harrington. She was a munificent patron of genius, and seems to have been péculiarly kind to Jonson. One of the most exquisite compliments that ever was offered to talents, beauty, and goodness was paid by the graceful poet to this lady The biographers are never weary of repeating after one another that she was "the friend of Donne and Daniel, who wrote verses on her," but of Jonson, who wrote more than both, they preserve a rigid silence.Jonson's Works, vol. vii.
Page 236.-SONNET TO CYRIAC SKINNER.-Cyriac Skinner was one of the principal members of Harrington's political club. Wood says that he was "an ingenious young gentleman and scholar to John Milton."
Page 237.-MILTON'S PRAYER OF PATIENCE.— This poem, so Miltonic in its purity and force of expression, was at first attributed to the great poet himself, and was actually published in an English edition of his works as a recently-discovered poem by him.
Page 237.-To THE LADY MARGARET LEY.-The
daughter of Sir James Ley, whose singular learning and abilities raised him through all the great posts of the law till he came to be made Earl of Marlborough, Lord High Treasurer, and Lord President of the Council to King James I.
Page 237.-LYCIDAS.-The name under which Milton celebrates the untimely death of Edward King, Fellow of Christ College, Cambridge, who was drowned in his passage from Chester to Ireland, August 10th, 1637. He was the son of Sir John King, Secretary for Ireland.-Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.
Page 240.-AN HORATIAN ODE.-This ode was written in the summer of 1650, after Cromwell's return from the campaign in Ireland, and after he had been designated for the expedition to Scotland, but while as yet the "laureat wreath" of Dunbar Field was unwon.
Page 247.-ON THE DEATH OF DR. LEVETT.— In one of his (Johnson's) memorandum-books in my possession is the following entry: “January 20, Sunday, 1782, Robert Levett was buried in the churchyard of Bridewell between one and two in the afternoon. He died on Thursday, 17, about seven in the morning, by an instantaneous death. He was an old and faithful friend. I have known him from about 1746. Commendavi. May God have mercy on him! May He have mercy on me!" Boswell quotes as follows from "Critical Remarks" by Nathan Drake, M. D.: "The stanzas on the death of this man of great but humble utility are beyond all praise. The wonderful powers of Johnson were never shown to greater advantage than on this occasion, where the subject, from its obscurity and mediocrity, seemed to bid defiance to poetical efforts; it is, in fact, warm from the heart, and is the only poem from the pen of Johnson that has been bathed with tears. Would to God that on every medical man who attends the poor such encomiums could be justly passed!"-Boswell's Life of Johnson.
Page 249.-ELEGY ON CAPTAIN MATTHEW HENDERSON.-Captain Matthew Henderson, a gentleman of very agreeable manners and great propriety of character, usually lived in Edinburgh, dined constantly at Fortune's Tavern, and was a member of the Capillaire Club, which was composed of all who desired to be thought witty or joyous. He died in 1789. Burns, in a note to
the poem, says: "I loved the man much, and have not flattered his memory." Henderson seems, indeed, to have been universally liked. "In our travelling party," says Sir James Campbell of Ardkinglass, "was Matthew Henderson, then (1759) and afterward well known and much esteemed in the town of Edinburgh, at that time an officer in the Twenty-fifth regiment of foot, and, like myself, on his way to join the army; and I may say with truth that in the course of a long
life I have never known a more estimable character than Matthew Henderson."-Memoirs of Campbell of Ardkinglass.
Page 253.-BURIAL OF SIR JOHN MOORE.Sir John Moore often said that if he were killed
"19 WARWICK-CRESCENT, W., "DEAR MR. GROSART: "Feb. 24, '75. "I have been asked the question you now address me with, and as duly answered it, I can't remember how many times; there is no sort of objection to one more assurance or rather confession on my part, that I did in my hasty youth presume to use the great and venerated personality of WORDSWORTH as a sort of painter's model; one from which this or the other particular feature may be selected and turned to account: had I intended more, above all, such a boldness as portraying the entire man, I should not have talke) about 'handfuls of silver and bits of ribbon.' These never influenced the change of politics in the great poet, whose defection, nevertheless, accompanied as it was by a regular face-about of his special party, was to my juvenile apprehension, and even mature consideration, an event to deplore. But just as in the tapestry on my wall I can recognize figures which have struck out a fancy, on occasion, that though truly enough thus derived, yet would be preposterous as a copy, so, though I dare not deny the original of my little poem, I altogether refuse to have it considered as the very effigies' of such a moral and intellectual superiority.
"Faithfully y urs,
in battle he wished to be buried where he fell.
Page 253.-OH, BREATHE NOT HIS NAME.-This poem refers to Robert Emmett, an eloquent Irish enthusiast, born in Cork in 1780. He was an ardent but misguided partisan of Irish independence, and appears to have been a sincere patriot. He was one of the chiefs of the "United Irishmen." In July, 1803, he rashly put himself at the head of a party of insurgents consisting of the rabble of Dublin, who murdered the chiefjustice, Lord Kilwarden, and others, but were quickly dispersed by the military. Emmett was arrested, was tried, and after an eloquent and impassioned speech in vindication of his course, suffered with intrepid courage a felon's death, September, 1803. — Thomas's Biographical Dictionary.
Page 264-THE LOST LEADER.-Many have been the speculations and surmises and assertions and contradictions as to who the "lost leader" was. The verdict of one of the immortals on his fellow-immortal concerns us all; hence it is with no common thankfulness that the editor of Wordsworth's prose embraces this opportunity of settling the controversy beyond appeal by giving a letter which Mr. Browning has done him the honor to write for publication. It is as follows:
Page 268.- ICHABOD.-" And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel." 1 Samuel iv. 21. This poem was written upon receipt of the intelligence of Daniel Webster's speech in the U. S. Senate, March 7, 1850, in defence of the Compromise measures, and especially of the Fugitive Slave Law.
Page 281.-ANNE HATHAWAY.-The Critic for May 17th, 1884, has the following note: "Mr. Rolfe is anxious to trace that one of the two ballads en titled 'Anne Hathaway' in which the lady's name is played upon. The verses, falsely ascribed to Shakespeare, appear in various anthologies of recent date. We are happy to be able to direct Mr. Rolfe to the book in which the ballad first appeared. It is entitled A Tour in Quest of a Genealogy through several parts of Wales, Somersetshire, and Wiltshire, with a Description of Stourhead and Stonehenge, various Anecdotes and Curious Fragments from a Manuscript Collection ascribed to Shakespeare. By a Barrister. London: Sherwood, Neely & Jones. 1811. The 'Fiag. ments' consist of a poem to Anne Hathaway, from W. S.;' a 'Letter' inscribed to Mistress Judith Hathaway,' from William Shakespeare; A few items from his [Shakespeare's] Journal, and a sample of his own Memoirs by himself;' A Song to her owne Lovynge Willie Shakspeare,' by 'Anna Hatheway;' 'To the Belovyd of the Muses and Mee,' by Anna Hatheway;" a letter 'To Master William Benson,' by W. S.;' and To the peerlesse Anna, magnette of my affectionnes.' It is a rare volume, but Mr. Rolfe