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But if you
. . for I darsen't go into the certain. Write to me, if there is time. dark to give it yez !”
hour. In the hall, a hand-lamp was set upon I hope I sha'n't disgrace myself, for the little table. Maggie tottered beside your sake. I think I shall behave betit; the cheek of the Irish girl was whiter ter if I can get your answer,
- either than the paper in her shaking hand. way you put it. I have never dared be
For she held a letter, stained and lieve you really love me. marred and time-discolored, bearing the do, or if you can, — enough, I mean, to
Ι forgotten red postage stamp of the de- be my wife some day, I don't think I nomination of the war; a letter as old as could die if I knew that. I should come ...O God! as old as anguish! For back all right. • Love would find out when Miriam dashed it up against the the way,' you used to sing — it seems light, the house rang with such a cry as fifty years ago! I shall write my moit would have broken his heart, in heaven, ther about
ther about you, if you give me the right, to hear.
at once. She and my sister would want “It is his ghost,” sobbed Maggie. to see you. I send you that old ring of “ His ghost has taken bis pen in hand mother's you used to see me wear. It to comfort yez!”
is the best I can do, on the march.
Wear it for me, dear, if you do love me, But when has it been recorded in the till I see your face again. For I am heavens above, or on the earth beneath, Your own, and only yours, that a ghost could write as he had writ
Till death and after it, ten? Living was the hand and living
HAROLD GRAND." was the love that penned those worn and
She read. She clasped the
She clasped the gray and With a clang she locked, and double- tattered paper to her bosom and buried locked, and triple-locked the door, to it there. She fell upon her knees, and read this message from beyond the grave. lifted her streaming face to heaven. She had the right now. . . . She could And then, for the first time in all those keep the whole world off. She and her years, she broke into terrible sobs. sacred joy and her holy grief were sanctified at last. He loved her. He had So much of this story of a letter as is loved her then and always. In a few true I tell; and for more I cannot vouch. manly, ardent words, written upon the What was the fate of the message for march, he had poured his heart out, and fifteen years withheld from the stricken placed it in her keeping. He had meant girl? Perhaps the soldier on the furto write differently, he said. He had lough died. Perhaps, at the time, his waited to find a better time.
pockets were not searched. Was he some made no way for love. Would she listen friendless fellow, for whose affairs nobody to this poor love-letter? Spoiled, he said, cared ? Did the letter slip between the as so much else was spoiled, the lives lining and the army blue? Did the uniof men and the happiness of women, form pass from hand to hand ? Perhaps by the accidents of war.
it was cut up some day for a veteran's “I shall give it to one of the boys son, and so the worn envelope slipped who is on the sick list and has a fur- out, and some one said to one of the lough,” he wrote, “and he will get it children, “There is an old army letter, mailed for me, in Washington, I hope, sealed and stamped, and never sent. Run or even in New York. I think it will and mail it, my dear. We must not go more quickly so, and surer. Our open it or keep it. It may be some poor mails are irregular, you know, and un- girl has waited for it all these years."
Whether in this way or in that way The Irish girl was wise. He was nothing God's mysterious finger traced the lines Miriam but a living man. by which the dead boy's declaration of The elm-tree in the garden could have love did force its way to her, who shall taught him that; and the Persian lilac say ? I know no more than you, no might have told him, “ It was not love more than she; for I tell it only as it she gave you.” But the yellow lilies was told to me.
kept awake to watch for her. Only this I can append. When young She came at midnight, when all her Professor Seyd came to the house again, father's house was still. She wore the that evening, the Irish girl stood in the old white muslin dress with the little front door and barred the
She held her head “It's no use, Perfesser Tom,” said like a bride, and trod like the Queen of Maggie, “an' that I takes upon meself Joy. Nor God nor man could say
her to say. There's a dead man got ahead
Proudly she took upon her of yez. Me and you are nothin', Mr. soul the oath of allegiance which binds Tom, - nothin' to her but just livin' the living to the dead, — that ancient folks.”
oath, so often taken, so often broken, and Then Maggie told him what had hap- sometimes kept. She stopped beneath pened. And Tom Seyd went back to the elm, and stood beside the iron seat his father's laboratory without a word. against the garden wall. The hot night In this he showed the discretion of his had grown cool and calm. The moontemperament, which accepts a fact, be it light lay at the flood. There Miriam what it will and lead it where it may, put his mother's ring upon her marriage without an idle protest.
finger; and there she lifted from the On that great glad night, she had for- earth to heaven the solemn face of the gotten him as utterly as annihilation. happiest woman in the land.
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps.
NATURE IN OLD ENGLISH POETRY.
In the epic of Beowulf, our first great 1300, when a nameless poet warbled of English epic, with almost countless refer- spring in this wise :ences to the winter season, the sweet, an- “Between the March and April, tithetical season of summer is not once When sprays begin to spring, mentioned. This fact is significant, and The little fowls they have their will
In their own way to sing." stands for a good deal. At first it appears sufficiently astonishing. England If this be the note of the bards in the is fair now in the season, and it was year of grace 1400 or 1300, why not in so at the end of the fourteenth century the seventh or eighth century, five hunwhen Monk Langland began to sing :- dred years before, which is the presuma“In a summer season
ble date of the Beowulf? It is hardly a When soft was the sun,
satisfactory answer to say that the beauI was weary of wandering, and went me to
ty of nature was there, but not the eyes
to see it. Old English literature is rife Under a broad bank by a bourne side."
with passages testifying to appreciation No winter rhyme this, of a truth. It of the sterner mood of nature, a cogniwas so, too, a hundred years earlier, in zance of her wintry phenomena, her rig
ors of land and sky and water. It is laws that no man may dodge, and with only on the side of warmth and bloom an iron will in place of a tender heart. and fragrance that the poetry is so woe- Germanic mythology and literature give fully lacking in expression, so insensitive a lively sense of all this. to loveliness and joyance. The explana- These two causes, then (to mention no tion lies in large part elsewhere. To give more), blend to bring about a fact which, one reason: the first poetry written down at first blush, strikes the modern student in England partakes of the atmosphere as curious and repellent. of the physical conditions of the country As a result of this dominant note of whence come the original settlers, name- winter in Old English poetry an effect ly, that of the low-lying lands of the Bal- of gloom and sternness is made on us, tic, the North Sea, and the more norther- especially if we come to the study full ly Atlantic. Beowulf itself, for example, of the tropic exuberance and troubadour is entirely un-English and Continental in gayety which run through the literary its locale, the scene shifting from Den- product of the Romance peoples; or if mark to Sweden. And so with the lesser we are steeped in the bland brightness poetical product: it is the climate of the of classic imagery; or again, if we are lowlands, of Norwegian fiords and Dan- conversant with the rich color and senish nesses, that is in the English liter- suous languors of some of the Oriental ature of the earliest period of produc- literatures. It is somewhat gray busition; hence it is the darker and grimmer ness, this harping on the one string, phases of nature which are voiced and this chronicling of only such objective pictured in the poetry. A striking illus- phenomena as are characteristic of the tration of this is to be seen in an Old frozen earth and the ice-beaten sea. Yet English idiom. It was not the Anglo- if sunny charm and color play and soft Saxon's way to use the word "year" melody are wanting, there is great graphic as a denominator of time; he spoke of power and a sort of wild music in many “thirty of winters " instead of thirty of the descriptions; we get good etchyears, evidently an unconscious tribute to ings, strong black-and-white work, if not the prominence of that cold and nipping the landscapes of Claude and Turner; season in his calendar.
and there is stimulation for one who has Another explanation of this fondness been bred in softer pleasures to turn for of our ancestors for winter landscape the nonce from scented rose gardens and brings us within the domain of psycho- lute tinklings to the sound of storm-swept logy. The first poetry of the race is pre- pines, the smell of briny waters, and the Christian, heathen in warp and woof; sight of blood-flecked battle-shields shaken and in the literature which antedates in mortal combat. “Pretty” may not be Christianity — which has Odin and Thor the adjective to apply to such a poetic in the heavens and fatalism as its ethical product, but “fine” and “strong” and creed, instead of the sunburst of hope and “virile” emphatically are. joy which comes with the white Christ Examples follow of the way in which and his cheerier promises of happiness the manifold demonstrations of the exand heaven — the poetic spirit is distinct- ternal world wrought upon our forely, indubitably, more joyless, less percep- fathers, as they feasted, hunted, fought, tive of the bright side of things. Na- and prayed in Saxon England more than ture, which to the modern poet is but the a thousand years ago, and how this found garment of God, was to his Old English vent in their song. In time, no doubt, forbears a chilling rather than an inspir- we shall have the whole body of Old iting spectacle ; for back of the myth-gods English poetry in a form which will themselves stood Fate, Necessity, with commend it to popular use and appre
ciation ; as yet, however, much remains And the poem says that at the sight to be done, and every worker may con- this welter of storm-smit waters instead tribute his mite. In turning the pas- of the warm, feast-glad interior of the sages into modern English, the Anglo- great hall - the scald's heart is made Saxon verse-line, with its four stresses, the heavier. It is a veritable etching, a or accents, and its definite alliteration sea piece in monochrome, and very typitaking the place of the later device of cal. It may be said here that perhaps rhyme, is reproduced as nearly as may no one phenomenon of nature plays so be. Inevitably, the result is a metre of large a part in Old English literature as so much looser, less regular rhythm that the sea, because it played so large a part an effect of carelessness and comparative in the life as well, and again was a monformlessness is produced on the reader ster that spoke the Saxon's sense of the familiar with more modern verse laws. change, the bigness, and the mystery of The rhymeless dithyrambs of Walt Whit- human days. It were interesting to trace man are at times suggested. But although its steady influence in the great singthe conception of metrical movement is ers of the race. Think what inspiration, freer, the laws that govern it are as what imagery, it has furnished Shakeexact and the artistic limitations as rig- speare, and a long train of successors orously obeyed as anything that more down to Swinburne and Whitman! The recent poetry can show. It is a popular epithet“ fallow” as applied to the waves, error to regard this early verse product in the lines just cited, is very fine, and as rude and deficient in art.
shows the true selective felicity of poThe long, striking, and beautiful lyric etry. In contrast with the gray clouds known as The Wanderer, a truly repre- and the snow-filled air, the water would sentative
poem in its sadness and full of have taken on just that dusky yellow the lament of personal bereavement, con- tinge described by the word. The color tains but two brief references to nature. scheme of the Anglo-Saxons, it may be This is an indication of how laconic is remarked, was far more restricted than is the early poet's use of this embellish- ours to-day. Several of our commonest ment or accessory which in modern times colors appear not at all, and light and threatens to preëmpt the whole canvas shade seem to have made the strongest at the expense of motifs and animated impression upon them. This fact is a cuforegrounds. Even the most subjective rious commentary on a passage in one of of Old English poets was not satisfied Ruskin's lectures on art, where he reto paint a picture for the mere picture's marks that “the way by color is taken sake. The Wanderer, a minstrel, is ima- by. men of cheerful, natural, and entiregined at sea, having lost all his friends, ly sane disposition in body and mind, including the lord whose vassal he once much resembling, even at its strongest, was, and is thinking over his past with the temper of well-brought-up children;" sick memory. Having dreamed of bet- while, contrariwise, “the way by light ter times, when his lord clipped him and and shade is taken by men of the highkissed him, while the bard in turn affec- est power of thought and most earnest tionately laid his hand and head on the desire for truth; they long for light, and kingly knee, he wakes to a realization of for knowledge of all that light can show. his present misery:
But seeking for light, they perceive also
darkness; seeking for substance and truth, " There awakeneth eft the woeful man,
they find vanity. They look for form in Seeth before him the fallow waves, The sea fowls a-bathing, broadening their
the earth, for dawn in the sky, and, seekfeathers,
ing these, they find formlessness in the The rime and snow falling, mingled with hail.” earth and night in the sky.” It hardly
seems amiss to name as exponents of the seen in the fallen wall and tower and two types here adumbrated the man of rain-pierced roof. In the tenth line, Romance stock, sun-loving and insouci- however, there is a touch worth noting. ant, and the Teuton, with his mood bred The artisan who built all this mighty of northern gloom and barrenness. structure, says the poet, is long dead, and
The second passage in The Wanderer now his work after him is crumbling to occurs near the close of the lyric. The naught. But it was not always so. singer gives a gloomy picture of the
“ Often yon wall earth when the evil days come of loss (Deer-gray, red-spotted) saw many a mighty and change, of age and desolation :
Hiding from storms." “Storms shake the stony cliffs, The snow falls and binds the earth,
The descriptive touch en parenthèse is The winter wails, wan dusk comes,
as accurate and careful as it is laconic. The night-shade nips, from the north gends It implies real and fresh observation, and Rough hail, for harm to heroes."
a wish for truthful representation. This is vivid description, and proves a Another lyric which may well be placed vigorous grasp of vocabulary and a happy in evidence is that called The Seafarer ; power in seizing on typically representa- it contains several descriptive passages tive features of a wintry landscape. It which make it interesting for our particis not cataloguing, but the movement of ular study. It pictures a lonely seafarer the awakened imagination.
afloat on the waters, with the usual unIn the mysterious ill - defined lyric pleasant concomitants of bad weather which Grein calls The Wife's Plaint, and bleak season: and which seems to tell of a woman
I exiled in a sad, dim wood, far away
may of mine own might a sooth-song sing,
Say of my journeys how I through toilful from her husband, there is a short de
days scription which again has shadow and Often endured arduous times, sorrow for its setting, the woman's ill Had to abide breast care full bitter, stead being echoed and transcribed in
Knew on the ship many a sad berth,
Fierce welter of waves, where oft they beat the phase of the external world which is
upon me presented. She is telling of her banish
In my narrow night-watch at the boat's bow, ment and the place of her abode:
When it hurtled on the cliffs, conquered by
the cold ; “ They bade me to dwell in the bushy woods, Then were my feet by the frost bitten,
Under the oak-trees down in the earth caves. In fetters bleak. . . . No man may know it, Old are the earth halls ; I am all-wretched; Who on the fair, firm land happily liveth, Dim are the dens, the dunes towering,
How I, sore-sorry one, upon the ice-cold sea Dense the inclosures, with brambles engirt, Winter long dwelt midst evils of exile, The dwellings lack joy."
Lorn of all joys, robbed of my kinsmen,
Behung with icicles. Hail blew in showers; The reference to The Wife's Plaint
There heard I naught but the streaming sea, turns the mind instinctively to the The ice-cold wave; whilom the swan's song longer and remarkable lyric known as Had I to pleasure me, cry of the water-hen, The Ruin ; only a fragment, but as pre
And, for men's laughter, the sea-beast's loud
voice, cious in its way as one of Sappho's, and
The singing of gulls instead of mead-drink. full of Old English feeling for the dark Storms beat the stony cliffs, while the seathings of life, fairly reveling in descrip- swallow, tions of physical destruction. The sub- Icy-feathered, answered ; full oft the eagle, ject is a city in ruined decay and neg
Moist-feathered, shrieked." lect, and the poem deals scarcely at all Here we have a full-length portrait of with nature directly, but rather with the misery, with much vividness and pareffects of time upon the work of men as ticularity in putting before us the mon