Page images

In vain he appeal'd to both Weimar and Gotha,
But they could not assist him a single iota;

And, though he had fee'd all the faculties round him,
The faculties left him as wise as they found him.

Now, Time, the Impostor, was at his old tricks,
Turning hours into days, and then days into weeks;
Then weeks into months,-ti!l the term was at hand,
Assign'd by the Despot's capricious command!

With musing, and fretting, ground down to the bone,
He wander'd about in the fields, all alone;

And, in one of these rambles, when most at a loss,
On his shepherd, Hans Beudix, he happen'd to cross.→→→→
"Lord Abbot," cried Hans, "I guess all is not right!
Why so clouded that brow, which, till late, was so bright?
To your faithful Hans Beudix vouchsafe to impart
The trouble, that inwardly preys on your heart!"-
"Alas, my good Beudix, the Emperor's Grace
Has made thy poor master's a pitiful case!
He has given me three pestilent cob-nuts to crack,
Would puzzle Old Nick, with his Dam at his back!
"For the first, when array'd in his costliest robe,
On his throne, with his crown, and his sceptre, and globe,
Must I, the most luckless of Prelates on earth,
Compute, to a farthing, his Highness's worth!

"The problem he, secondly, deign'd to propound,
Is, how long it would take him to ride the world round?
And this, to a minute, without more or less ;—
He said, 'twas a trifle, quite easy to guess!

"And, last, he expects me to tell him his thought,
When next to his Highness's presence I'm brought;
And, whatever it be, it must prove a delusion,-
Some error in judgment, or optic illusion!

"And, unless I these precious conundrums explain,
He swears, I shall ne'er see my Abbey again
And, he'll have me paraded all over the land,

On the back of an ass, with his tail in my hand!”—

"What, no more?" quoth Hans Beudix,-" Then, write me an ape, If I don't get your Reverence out of this scrape.

Just lend me your mantle, your crozier, and mitre,

And you'll find that old Beudix may still bite the biter !

"It is true,-in book-learning I'm not very far gone, Not a whit do I know of your heathenish jargon ;

But old mother Nature has given me that,

Which the greatest of scholars can't always come at !"

My Lord Abbot's countenance rose, as he spoke,
And to Beudix he handed his mitre and cloak ;
Who, arm'd with the crozier, repair'd to the Court,
Assuming his master's right reverend port.-

The Emperor, clad in his costliest robe,

On his throne, with his crown, and his sceptre, and globe,
Thus address'd him,-" Thou wisest of Prelates on earth,
Resolve, to a farthing, how much I am worth!"

"For thirty rix-dollars the Saviour was sold,
And, with all your gay trappings of purple and gold,
Twenty-nine is your price:-you'll not take it amiss,
If I judge that your value must fall short of his !"-

[ocr errors]

So, so!" thought his Highness; "the priest has me there!
I own, my Lord Abbot, the answer is fair.-
Did greatness e'er swallow so bitter a pill?
But, like it or not, I must swallow it still!

"And, now for a question your learning shall probe :-
How long would it take me to ride round the globe?
To a minute compute it, without more or less;
You'll easily solve it, my lord, as I guess!"-

"If your Highness will please just to get on your horse,
With the rise of the sun, and pursue the sun's course,
Keeping always beside him, a million to one,

But in two dozen hours the whole business is done!"—
"Are you there, my old fox, with your ifs and your ans?
But I need not remind you, they're not pots and pans,
Else tinkers would starve, (as I learnt from my nurse ;)
Still the answer shall pass, for it might have been worse.
"And now for the poser-mind what you're about;
For the donkey's at hand, and shall straight be led out.
What think I, that's false ?-Tell me that, if you can;
Here you shall not come off with an if or an an."

"If I read not your thought, you may fry me for bacon ;-
In which thought, my dread liege, you are shrewdly mistaken!
You think me the Abbot-but I, as you'll find,

With all due submission, am-Beudix, his hind!"

"What the d-1! Art thou not the Abbot of Lintz ?
By my troth, thou hast fairly outwitted thy prince!
'Tis the cowl makes the monk, as I've heard people say ;
So I dub thee Lord Abbot from this very day.

"For the former incumbent, an indolent sot!
On Dapple's bare withers, please God, he shall trot;
For his office, Hans Beudix is fitter by half;
And here I invest thee with ring and with staff.".
"Under favour, great sir, I can handle a crook,
But, alas!. I'm no very great hand at my book;
I ne'er went to school, and no Latin have I-
Not so much as you'd write on the wing of a fly!"-
"Is it so, my good fellow? Then, more is the pity;
So, bethink thee of some other thing that may fit ye.
Thy wit hath well pleased me; and it shall go hard,
If Hans's sagacity miss its reward."-

"If such the conditions, the boon that I ask
Will prove to your highness no difficult task:
To your favour again, on my knees I implore,

That your highness will please my good lord to restore.”-
The sovereign replied,-" As I hope in God's grace,
The heart of Hans Beudix is in its right place.
Thy master, for me, shall his mitre enjoy,

And long may he wear it.-So, tell him, old boy."

R. T.

The above is nearly a translation of a Ballad of Bürger's.




Coleridge's Fancy in Nubibus.


I AM a little crazy. My friends speak of the circumstance with concern; but I cannot say that it causes me any annoyance, except it be from the suspicion with which they receive my evidence. They are very apt to look incredulous, and say to one another, Ay, ay, very well, 'tis his wild way of talking, but no such thing ever happened.” Now, surely the having a supernumerary cranny in the skull, (for it must be confessed I am decidedly crack-brained), ought not 'to interfere with a man's being be lieved, when he plainly tells you about things which he saw with eyes that have no flaw, and ears of which the apertures are all as they should be. It was only last Wednesday se'ennight that the incident befel me, which will form the subject of this letter. I told it to Doctor Scammony, who is kind enough to feel my pulse at times, and he said it was "hallucinatio mentis," -my intimate friend, Sam Pottinger, interrupted me with, "my dear fellow, this is all fudge," and my cousin, Lucy Manning, advised me, that I "had better not talk about it again, as it was mere rodomontade," and, when I had found a more rational listener in old Alice Tugwell, who has nursed me when ill, even she at the end squalled out, Lard love thy swivity head, thee'st been dreaming broad awake." Judge you, Mr Christopher, and hold the scales of equity ever, between me and my detractors, Dr Scammony, Sam Pottinger, Miss Lucy Manning, and Dame Alice Tugwell, aforesaid. My pursuits consist in reading new poetry, and noticing the weather. For instruction about the latter, I have read what is said of Mr Howard's Nomenclature of Clouds, as expounded by Dr T. L. Forster, in the Supple ment to the Encyclopædia Britannica. Since which, I never lift up my eyes without taking especial care to refer the passing clouds to one of the seven genera they have established. Now, It happened that about a fortnight ago I went to my bookseller's, Mr TitleVOL. X.


page, whose counter I found groaning with the incumbrance of modern publications, and he told me, that so many new poems were perpetually forth coming, that he thought the old ones of living authors must soon be used as waste paper. I certainly chewed the cud upon this speech a good deal, in a little room which I have at the end of my garden, and which over looks a wildish sort of common. They tell me I fell asleep there, or indulged my imagination awake, whenever I have spoken of what I am going to relate. But to both of these solutions I say no. With these eyes, then, did I see the shopman of my bookseller trundle a wheelbarrow full of books upon the common, where there was a pot boiling, slung between three sticks, and which I thought had belonged to a party of gypsies. His mas ter followed, with more drab-coated volumes under his arm, and I could see that, one by one, he popt the works of living versifiers into the cauldron, out of which, after a little simmering, they issued in the shape of vapour, and suc cessively overspread the heaven with clouds, which, knowing Mr Howard's theory, I was luckily able to systema tize. Perhaps you will be able to draw some wiser inferences from what I saw than I can,only believe in the pot and the wheelbarrow; surely a leaky scull is able to recognize the famous utensil of Mr Accum, and the coach of Mr Punch. I thought, however, that whenever thunder grumbled, or rain fell from these clouds so distil led from paper, that there was something bad in taste or morals in the poems which made the broth, whence the steam issued.

Tom Moore's progeny were first immersed. His songs whirled (a coin of his friend King Leigh the First's mintage) into cirri or curl-clouds, and pretty little fantastic chignons and lovelocks they became. Lalla Rookh was metamorphosed into a cirrocubulus, oř sonder-cloud, rather heavy in the main, patchy, spotty, and disjointed, made up of separate parts, some of which

2 L

were exquisitely good in themselves, but not coalescing into a pleasing and proper unity.

The abundant offspring of the laureat, as well as that of Sir Walter, mounted up and took the shape of cumuli, or stacken-clouds, those marble-like masses which shine like temples or cities in the intense blue of a summer noon. -Southey's were somewhat heavily grouped in places, but they sailed along nobly. The solidity of Sir Walter's was relieved by the outline running into freakish shapes, like those Gothic ornaments, which, separately viewed, disfigure, but, in connection with the whole, contribute to the delightful effect of our venerable cathedrals.

Crabbe's works tumbled up into the same sort, and a good homely batch of stacken-cloud they made. It flirted down indeed a few drops in my eyes, as it were by way of a sly joke; but this was so trifling that it neither injured the nap of my coat, nor detracted much from the merit of the author, though it was an indication that his taste is not unquestionable. His cloud looked as if much useful household rain-water might upon occasion be collected from it, both for cookery and for washing.

Lord Byron's were next shot into the boiler, and they emerged in the form of cumulo-stratus, or twain-cloud. A fine wild picturesque appearance of troubled atmosphere was the result of the decoction of Childe Harold, and his other misanthropical personages. The bosom of the cloud, which seemed by its working to be suffering intestine commotion, was of a lurid purple, and a flash or two of lightning issued from it, deepening, by its momentary radiance, the gloom through which it struggled. The English Bards, the Poems on Domestic Circumstances, and Don Juan, took rather a more airy shape, but as the wind moved the lighter part of them, the nucleus was seen to be fraught with " sulphureous and thought-executing fires, vauntcouriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts." Leigh Hunt's Rimini, Bacchus and Ariadne, and others, most of them “inoculating,” (as Dr Forster hath it,) slid upwards, and the pretty Nepheliads were dispatched to their own quarters, and the whole became instantly cirrostratus or wane-cloud, which sort, as Mr Howard avers, "is characterized by shallowness." Can any

thing be more apt? Moreover," it is in this cloud that those peculiar refractions of the sun's light called haloes, mocksuns, &c. usually appear;" and certainly this etherial quintessence of Mr L. H.'s publications in rhyme was extremely fertile of these gaudy delusions, the consequence, I suppose, of the bewildering paltry claptraps of Cockney applause, with which his distiches are tricked out. It is not to be denied that portions of his cloud were beautiful, but the whole was treacherous and threatening; and indeed the lower extremities deliquesced into regular nimbus, or rain-cloud, and a pitiless drenching I got from incautious exposure to it-his own "washerwomen" could not have saturated my garments with wet more thoroughly, than the effects of his bad taste did, while I was trying to ascertain, by nubilous analogy, the degree of his poetical merit.

[ocr errors]


The barrow next supplied the works of Campbell and Rogers. They were soon subtilized into cirrocumulus, or sonder-cloud. The Pleasures of Hope took a station to the windward quarter, and there imbibing a golden light from "the fiery-tressed sun,' sailing nearer to us, with much promise of increasing attractiveness. The Pleasures of Memory went to leeward at first, and passing from us, though it never actually got out of sight, kept gaining in tenderness of hue, for what it lost in distinctness of contour and feature.

Montgomery's, Milman's, Croly's, Maturin's, and Shelley's productions, rose into cumulostrati, or twain-clouds, which are described as being top-heavy, and apt to degenerate into nimbi, or positively rainy clouds. Of course, the component parts, originating from such different authors, varied much. Where Montgomery's had a share in producing some of the mass, there was great beauty-a floating delicacy in some of the wreaths of vapour which was quite exquisite-not that his division had altogether an escape from extreme and frothy tenuity. Milman's part of the cloud was rather overbeetling and stiff in figure, but a magnificent apparition notwithstanding; and I made no doubt that his and Croly's would devolve at last into something nearer to the nature of cumulus, which is the true fine-weather harbinger and exponent. There was a blue brimstone miasma

about Maturin's which foreboded thunder which did growl a little, and the distillation from some of his muddy metaphors dropped in not very transpicuous streams. The stormy rack raised from Shelley's was evidently of dangerous import, while the body of the cloud in that direction was plainly a garner of hail and thunder-it was not long before a forked flash of lightning pierced it, dazzling our eyes, and followed by a surly peal; and I was instantly well peppered with hail-stones, but thought it well that I got nothing worse from such a brewage of tempest. Barry Cornwall's Sketches had not body enough to consolidate into cumulus, but they made a very fine kind of cirrocumulus, with some locks of the cirrus fancifully wafted among the spaces between the denser parts, and all were refracting on their sunny sides colours of the least obstrusive brilliancy. Hogg's broke in to clouds of the same genus, and indeed presented a sky such as the shepherd himself must by moonlight have often gazed at with tranquil pleasure, and have been struck with its resemblance to his own charge, then either quietly grazing, or lying at rest on the green heather,-hardly less lovely objects than "the snowy flock of Cynthia's fold" studding the blue arch of night over his head;-whether Hogg may have pursued the parallel between the respective overseers of the two flocks, I cannot tell; but if he did, he may possibly have thought himself able to compete in brilliance with the moon at her brightest.


Of the Lyrical Ballads, after they had been nightly stewed down, some crept along in a stratus, or fall-cloud, and some rose like an exhalation" into a delightful cirrostratus, or wane-cloud, which, however, emitted a soft shower, (a proof belike of something wrong amid graces beyond the reach of art to snatch.) Yet this ill luck was redeemed by the beauty of the rainbow which was tenderly bodied forth in the cloud as it passed away. Wordsworth's heart would have" leapt up" at beholding the sight. Iris, in the times of the Greeks, never shot down from the empyreum in a more delicately-tinted curve, and we may well envy that damsel for having such a meteor for her pathway, the raised platform at the coronation, although Miss Fellows and her nymphs strewed it with flow

ers of the choicest, was not half so elegant a road. As for the Excursion, it became a fine cumulus-high-shouldered, mayhap, and too portly in the paunch, but nevertheless truly dignified; and it wore the sunlight well, "sailing with supreme dominion in the azure depth of air.”

Next came some poems, comparatively few in number, and not large in bulk; and yet they played such pranks in the air, that they were as "noticeable” for their vagaries, as their author for his "large grey eyes."They were Coleridge's. The Ancient Mariner and Cristabel were transmogrified into something between cirrostratus and cirrocumulus,-wildest and most ominous where the gas extracted from the Mariner was whirling in grotesque volumes, and reflecting as many colours as a "witch's oils,” which, as Mr Coleridge informs us, "burn green, and red, and white." It would, certes, puzzle the acutest adept in terminology, or rather orismology, (as the purists speak ;-see Kirby and Spence's Letters on Entomology,) to describe what shape the cloud was of, which was formed by Cristabel ;-it looked in front a little like the head of a mastiff bitch, and ended, (if end it could be called,) with something like a child "singing and dancing to itself." Although these clouds vexed the eyesight, and threatened an explosion of something very fearful and mysterious, it was impossible to keep one's eyes from looking at them. One poem, however, called Genevieve, sublimed into a faultless shape and hue of loveliness, "as glorious to our sight, being o'er our heads, as is a winged messenger of heaven.'

[ocr errors]

Wilson's "Plagues and Palms," rose aloft in a semblance hard to be classified,-the Isle of Palms had something of the changeable look of cirrostratus, but the City of the Plague, though not altogether removed from that genus, was trenching closely upon the solid and steady appearance of the cumulus, "with fleecy folds voluminous.”

There was a long horizonal stratus, or fall-cloud, condensed from the works of various writers. Among the authors who contributed to this lowlying sheet of mist, were the following. Lloyd, though he made an effort to mount; but metaphysics kept him down ;-Bowles, who not only at

« PreviousContinue »