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Well, it is all the better for the tragedy, but as we read the sublime appeals of Pym to a higher state of being, we cannot but wish that all had been done in accordance with them. The art and zeal, with which the condemnation of Strafford was obtained, have had high praise as statesmanlike; we would have wished for them one so high as to preclude this.
No doubt great temporary good was effected for England by the death of Strafford, but the permanence of good is ever in proportion with the purity of the means used to obtain it. This act would have been great for Strafford, for it was altogether in accordance with his views. He met the parliament ready to do battle to the death, and might would have been right, had he made rules for the lists ; but they proposed a different rule for their government, and by that we must judge them. Admit the story of Vane's pilfering the papers not to be true, that the minutes were obtained some other way. This measure, on the supposition of its existence, is defended by those who defend the rest.
Strafford would certainly have come off with imprisonment and degradation from office, had the parliament deemed it safe to leave him alive. When we consider this, when we remember the threat of Pym, at the time of his deserting the popular party, “ You have left us, but I will never leave you while your head is on your shoulders,” we see not, setting aside the great results of the act, and looking at it by its merits alone, that it differs from the administration of Lynch law in some regions of our own country. Lynch law, with us, has often punished the gamester and the rob. ber, whom it was impossible to convict by the usual legal process ; the evil in it is, that it cannot be depended upon, but, while with one hand it punishes a villain, administers with the other as summary judgment on the philanthropist, according as the moral sentiment or prejudice may be roused in the popular breast.
act. Just so we read of Bonaparte's green coat being turned at St. Helena, after it had faded on the right side. He who had overturned the world, to end with having his old coat turned! There is something affecting, Belisarius-like in the picture. When Warren Hastings knelt in Westminster Hall, the chattering but pleasant Miss Burney tells us, Wyndham, for a moment struck, half shrunk from the business of prosecuting him. At such a sight, whispers in every breast the monition, Had I been similarly tempted, had I not fallen as low, or lower ?
We have spoken disparaging!y of the capacities of the drama for representing what is peculiar in our own day, but, for such a work as this, presenting a great crisis with so much clearness, force, and varied beauty, we can only be grateful, and ask for more acquaintance with the same mind, whether through the drama or in any other mode.
Copious extracts have been given, in the belief that thus, bet. ter than by any interpretation or praise of ours, attention would be attracted, and a wider perusal ensured to Mr. Sterling's works.
In his mind there is a combination of reverence for the Ideal, with a patient appreciation of its slow workings in the actual world, that is rare in our time. He looks religiously, he speaks philosophically, nor these alone, but with that other faculty which he himself so well describes.
You bear a brain
Such is the demonology of the man of the world. It may rule in accordance with the law of right, but where it does not, the strongest man may lose the battle, and so it was with Strafford.
CONTAINING SUNDRY GLOSSES ON POETIC TEXTS.
SCENE is in a chamber, in the upper story of a city boarding house. The room
is small, but neat and furnished with some taste. There are books, a few flowers, even a chamber organ. On the wall hangs a fine engraving from one of Dominichino's pictures. The curtain is drawn up, and shows the moonlight falling on the roofs and chimnies of the city and the distant water, on whose bridges threads of light burn dully.
To Aglauron enter Laurie. A kindly greeting having been interchanged,
Laurie. It is a late hour, I confess, for a visit, but coming home I happened to see the light from your window, and the remembrance of our pleasant evenings here in other days came so strongly over me, that I could not help trying the door.
Aglauron. I do not now see you here so often, that I could afford to reject your visits at any hour. · L. (Seating himself, looks round for a moment with an expression of some sadness.) All here looks the same, your fire burns bright, the moonlight I see you like to have come in as formerly, and we,—we are not changed, Aglauron ? · A. I am not.
L. Not towards me ?
A. You have elected other associates, as better pleasing or more useful to you than I. Our intercourse no longer ministers to my thoughts, to my hopes. To think of you with that habitual affection, with that lively interest I once did, would be as if the mutilated soldier should fix his eyes constantly on the empty 14*
sleeve of his coat. My right hand being taken from me, I use my left.
L. You speak coldly, Aglauron ; you cannot doubt that my friendship for you is the same as ever.
A. You should not reproach me for speaking coldly. You have driven me to subdue my feelings by reason, and the tone of reason seems cold because it is calm.
You say your friendship is the same. Your thoughts of your friend are the same, your feelings towards him are not. Your feelings flow now in other channels.
L. Am I to blame for that ?
A. Surely not. No one is to blame ; if either were so, it would be I, for not possessing more varied powers to satisfy the variations and expansions of your nature.
L. But have I not seemed heartless to you at times ?
A. In the moment, perhaps, but quiet thought always showed me the difference between heartlessness and the want of a deep heart.
Nor do I think this will eventually be denied you. You are generous, you love truth. Time will make you less restless, because less bent upon yourself, will give depth and steadfastness to that glowing heart. Tenderness will then come of itself. You will take upon you the bonds of friendship less easily and knit them firmer.
L. And you will then receive me?
A. What would you have? That gentle trust, which seems to itself immortal, cannot be given twice. What is sweet and flower-like in the mind is very timid, and can only be tempted out by the wooing breeze and infinite promise of spring. Those flowers, once touched by a cold wind, will not revive again.
L. But their germs lie in the earth.
A. Yes, to await a new spring! But this conversation is profitless. Words can neither conceal nor make up for the want of flowing love. I do not blame you, Laurie, but I cannot af. ford to love you as I have done any more, nor would it avail either of us, if I could. Seek elsewhere what you can no longer duly prize from me. Let us not seek to raise the dead from their tombs, but cherish rather the innocent children of to-day.
L. But I cannot be happy unless there is a perfectly good understanding between us.
4. That, indeed, we ought to have. I feel the power of understanding your course, whether it bend my way or not. I need not communication from you, or personal relation to do that,
"Have I the human kernel first examined,
Then I know, too, the future will and action.”
I have known you too deeply to misjudge you, in the long run.
L. Yet you have been tempted to think me heartless.
A. For the moment only; have I not said it? Thought always convinced me that I could not have been so shallow as to barter heart for anything but heart. I only, by the bold play natural to me, led you to stake too high for your present income. I do not demand the forfeit on the friendly game. Do you understand me?
L. No, I do not understand being both friendly and cold.
A. Thou wilt, when thou shalt have lent as well as borrowed.
I can bring forward on this subject gospel independent of our own experience. The poets, as usual, have thought out the sub
ject for their age. And it is an age where the complex and subtle workings of its spirit make it not easy for the immortal band, the sacred band of equal friends, to be formed into phalanx, or march with equal step in any form.