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She knows no worldly guile or art, but Love and Joy have made
her fair : And so I keep her in my heart, and bless her in my silent prayer.
Pass we now to the serio-comic Hood,-a poet whose memory is “ emblazoned with a halo of light-hearted mirth and pleasantry,” but whose coruscations of wit and fancy do not more charm us, than do the genial charities and deep human sympathies which characterize his graver productions. If he was the “prince of
prince of punsters,” he was also pre-eminently the poet of pathos ; for, as a portrayer of life in its various phases, his rich and graceful imagery, and vivid descriptions of sorrow and suffering, were no less conspicuous than the kindly spirit with which his sarcasms and satires are tempered, so that while they cauterize, they cure. How much of human suffering has been mitigated, how many a home of sadness consoled, by the pleadings of his powerful pen! The spirit of his playful productions, so chaste, and so glittering with sportive gayety and humour, are yet enriched with the pure gold of wisdom, so that while they charm the imagination, they also benefit the heart.
Hood's fragile constitution was invaded, during his whole life, by a slow wasting disease, and it was terminated by protracted suffering. Referring to his own physical debility, he thus writes :—“That man who has never known a day's illness is a moral dunce,-one who has lost the greatest moral lesson in life,—who has skipped the finest lecture in that great school of humanity, the sick-chamber. Let him be versed in metaphysics, profound in mathematics, a ripe scholar in the classics, a bachelor of arts, or even a doctor in divinity, yet he is one of those gentlemen whose education has been neglected. For all his college acquirements, how inferior he is in wholesome knowledge to the mortal who has had a quarter's gout, or a half-year of ague,-how infinitely below the fellow-creature who has been soundly taught his tic-douloureux, thoroughly grounded in rheumatism, and deeply red in the scarlet fever !" It was while suffering from bodily sickness that poor
Hood composed those touching and immortal poems,—The Bridge of Sighs, The Lady's Dream, The Lay of the Labourer, and The Song of the Shirt. It was the last-named that his wife at once pronounced one of the best things he ever wrote.
Her verdict turned into a prophecy, for it obtained an immediate and long-continued popularity, and was also translated into several foreign languages :
O, men, with sisters dear! O, men, with husbands and wives !
Stitch, stitch, stitch, in poverty, hunger, and dirt ;
That works for a
tear lume a
dail feed to shed,
a alle weeping woulo
my heart foot to
heart with lary
Riant with hans,
Henders nedre & Chread
It seems so like my own, because of the fasts I keep,-
What exquisite delicacy and force characterize his Bridge of Sighs :
Alas! for the rarity of Christian charity
Under the sun !
House she had none !
The bleak wind of March made her tremble and shiver ;
Swift to be hurled
Anywhere, anywhere out of the world!
The rough river ran;
Dissolute man !
Now two or three stanzas from the Lady's Dream :
Of the hearts that daily break, of the tears that hourly fall,
them all. For the blind and the cripple were there, and the babe that pined
for bread, And the houseless man, and the widow poor, who begged—to bury
the dead :