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FROM BOOK III.

MOONLIGHT.

Eterne Apollo ! that thy sister1 fair
Is of all these the gentlier-mightiest.
When thy gold breath is misting in the west,
She unobservéd steals unto her throne,
And there she sits most meek and most alone;
As if she had not pomp subservient;
As if thine eye, high Poet! was not bent
Towards her with the muses in thine heart;
As if the ministering stars kept not apart,
Waiting for silver-footed messages.
O Moon! the oldest shades 'mong oldest trees
Feel palpitations when thou lookest in :
O Moon! old bonghis lisp forth a holier din
The while they feel thine airy fellowship.
Thou dost bless everywhere, with silver lip
Kissing dead things to life. The sleeping kine,
Couched in thy brightness, dream of fields divine :
Innumerable mountains rise, and rise,
Ambitious for the hallowing of thine eyes;
And yet thy benediction passeth not
One obscure hiding-place, one little spot
Where pleasure may be sent : the nested wren
Has thy fair face within its tranquil ken,
And from beneath a sheltering ivy leaf
Takes glimpses of thee; thou art a relief
To the poor patient oyster, where it sleeps
Within its pearly house.-The mighty deeps,
The monstrous sea is thine—the myriad sea!
O Moon ! far spooming Ocean bows to thee,
And Tellus feels her forebead's cumbrous load.

THOMAS HOOD.

(1798—1845.) Who has not laughed with laughter-loving Thomas Hood? But wit was not his best quality ; he possessed sterling benevolence and genial philan. thropy. He could twist our language into every comical shape of pun and quibble ; but he could also move the best feelings of our nature by genuine tenderness and compassion. The flesh creeps as his reader follows him step by step over his “ Haunted House," or through the windings of remorse in the mind of Eugene Aram. “ The Elm Tree," though fanciful in its construction, is full of pregnant feeling; and numbers of his smaller pieces

1 See note 3, p. 25.

THE DREAM OF EUGENE ARAM.

475

are stamped with the purest characters of poetry ; all must remember the excitement produced by his “ Song of the Shirt.” Mr Hood was the son of a bookseller in London ; he abandoned his original profession of an engraver when he witnessed the popularity of his sportive muse. The last hours of the poet's lingering illness were cheered by the knowledge of the Queen's generous intention to pension his widow.

THE DREAM OF EUGENE ARAM."

'Twas in the prime of summer time,

An evening calm and cool,
And four-and-twenty happy boys

Came bounding out of school:
There were some that ran, and some that leapt,

Like troutlets in a pool.

Away they sped with gamesome minds,

And souls untouched by sin,
To a level mead they came, and there

They drave the wickets in :
Pleasantly shone the setting sun

Over the town of Lynn.

Like sportive deer they cours'd about,

And shouted as they ran,-
Turning to mirth all things of earth

As only boyhood can;
But the Usher sat remote from all,

A melancholy man!

His hat was off, his vest apart,

To catch heaven's blessed breeze;
For a burning thought was in his brow,

And his bosom ill at ease :
So he lean'd his head on his hands, and read

The book between his knees !

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1 Eugene Aram, a schoolmaster, was executed at York in 1759, for the murder of Daniel Clarke near Knaresborough). Aram was a man of extraordinary intellectual acquirements 'see Smollet's England, anno 1759); his defence, which he conducted himself, displays singular ingenuity, resource, and command of expression. The motive of the murder of his miserable associate was alleged to be the procuring of money to contribute to his education. Admiral Burney (the brother of the authoress of “Evelina," kc.) " used to tell of school-days under the tutelage of Eugene Aram; how he remembered the gentle usher pacing the play ground, arm-in-arm with some one of the elder boys, and seeking relief from the unsuspected burden of his conscience by talking of strange murders ; and low he (the admiral), a child, had shuddereit at the handcuffs on his teach r's hands, when taken away in a post chaise to prison."-Talfourd's Final Memoirs of Charles Lamb. One of Sir E. B. Lytton's noveis is founded on the story of this singular criminal. See also Miller's First Impressions of England and its People, p. 29.

For the peace of his soul he read that look

In the golden eventide :
Much study had made him very lean,

And pale, and leaden-ey'd.

At last he shut the ponderous tome,

With a fast and fervent grasp
He strained the dusty covers close,

And fix'd the brazen hasp :
" Oh, God! could I so close my mind,

And clasp it with a clasp !".

Then leaping on his feet upright,

Some moody turns he took,Now up the mead, then down the mead,

And past a shady nook,And, lo! he saw a little boy

That pored upon a book!

" My gentle lad, what is't you read

Romance or fairy fable?
Or is it some historic page,

Of kings and crowns unstable ?”
The young boy gave an upward glance,

“It is . The Death of Abel.'”

The Usher took six hasty strides,

As smit with sudden pain,
Six hasty strides beyond the place,

Then slowly back again :
And down he sat beside the lad,

And talk'd with him of Cain ;

And, long since then, of bloody men,

Whose deeds tradition saves;
Of lonely folk cut off unseen,

And hid in sudden graves;
Of horrid stabs, in graves forlorn,

And murders done in caves ;

And how the sprites of injured men

Shrick upward from the sod, -
Ay, how the ghostly hand will point,

To shew the burial clod;
And unknown facts of guilty acts

Are seen in dreams from God !

He told how murderers walk the earth

Beneath the curse of Cain,-
With crimson clouds before their eyes,

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" And well," quoth he, “I know for truth,

Their pangs must be extreme,-
Woe, woe, unutterable woe,

Who spill life's sacred stream !
For why? Methought, last night, I wrongbt

A murder, in a dream!

“ One that had never done me wrong,

A feeble man and old ;
I led him to a lonely field,

The moon shone clear and cold :
Now here, said I, this man shall die,

And I will have his gold i

" Two sudden blows with a rugged stick,

And one with a heavy stone,
One hurried gash with a hasty knife,-

And then the deed was done :
There was nothing lying at my foot

But lifeless flesh and bone !

" Nothing but lifeless flesh and bone,

That could not do me ill!
And yet I feared him all the more,

For lying there so still :
There was a manhood in his look

That murder could not kill !

" And lo! the universal air

Seem'd lit with ghastly flame ;-
Ten thousand thousand dreadful eyes

Were looking down in blame :
I took the dead man by his hand,

And call'd upon his name!

"Oh God! it made me quake to see

Such sense within the slain !
But when I touch'd the lifeless clay,

The blood gush'd out amain !
For every clot, a burning spot

Was scorching in my brain !

" My head was like an ardent coal,

My heart as solid ice;
My wretched, wretched soul, I knew

Was at the Devil's price;

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"I took the dreary body up,

And cast it in a stream,-
A sluggish water, black as ink,

The depth was so extreme :
My gentle Boy, remember this

Is nothing but a dream! " Down went the corse with a hollow plange,

And vanish'd in the pool;
Anon I cleans'd my bloody hands,

And wash'd my forehead cool,
And sat among the urchins young

That evening in the School. “Oh, Heaven! to think of their white souls,

And mine so black and grim!
I could not share in childish prayer,

Nor join in evening hymn :
Like a Devil of the Pit I seem'd

'Mid holy Cherubim !

And peace went with them, one and all,

And each calm pillow spread;
But Guilt was my grim Chamberlain

That lighted me to bed ;
And drew my midnight curtains round,

With fingers bloody-red ! “ All night I lay in agony,

In anguish dark and deep :
My fever'd eyes I dared not close,

But stared aghast at Sleep:
For Sin had render'd unto her

The keys of Hell to keep !

“ All night I lay in agony

From weary chime to chime,
With one besetting horrid hint

That rack'd me all the time;
A mighty yearning, like the first

Fierce impulse unto crime!

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