Unknown.

The library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) online

. (page 6 of 75)
Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 6 of 75)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Robiu Hood's mother looked out, and said,

" It were a shame and a sin
For fear of getting a wet head

To keep such a day within,
Nor welcome up from his sick bed

Your uncle Gamelyn."

And Robin leaped, and thought so too ;

And so he has grasped her gown ;
And now looking back, they have lost the view

Of merry sweet Locksley town.

Robin was a gentle boy,

And therewithal as bold ;
To say he was his mother's joy,

It were a phrase too cold.

His hair upon his thoughtful brow
Came smoothly clipped, and sleek,

But ran into a curl somehow
Beside his merrier cheek.

Great love to him his uncle too

The noble Gamelyn bare,
And often said, as his mother knew,

That he should be his heir.

Gamelyn's eyes, now getting dim,

Would twinkle at his sight,
And his ruddy wrinkles laugh at him

Between his locks so white;

For Robin already let him see
He should beat his playmates all

At wrestling, running, and archery ;
Yet he cared not for a fall.

Merriest he was of merry boys,

And would set the old helmets bobbing ;
If his uncle asked about the noise,

'Twas, " If you please, sir, Robin."

And yet if the old man wished no noise,

He'd come and sit at his knee,
And be the gravest of grave-eyed boys ;

And not a word spoke he.



So whenever he and his mother came

To brave old Gamelyn Hall,
'Twas nothing there but sport and game,

And holiday folks all :
The servants never were to blame,

Though they let the physic falL

And now the travellers turn the road,

And now they hear the rooks ;
And there it is the old abode,

With all its hearty looks.

Robin laughed, and the lady too,
And they looked at one another ;

Says Robin, "I'll knock as I'm used to do,
At uncle's window, mother."

And so he picked up some peebles and ran,

Arid jumping higher and higher,
He reached the windows with tan a ran tan,
And instead of the kind old white-haired man.
There looked out a fat friar.

"How now," said the fat friar angrily,
"What is this knocking so wild?"
But when he saw young Robin's eye,
He said, "Go round, my child:

"Go round to the hall, and I'll tell you all :"

He'll tell us all ! thought Robin ;
And his mother and he went quietly,
Though her heart was set a throbbing.

The friar stood in the inner door,

And tenderly said, " I fear
You know not the good squire's no more,

Even Gamelyn de Vere.

" Gamelyn de Vere is dead,

He changed but yesternight:"
" Now make us way," the lady said,

"To see that doleful sight."

" Good Gamelyn de Vere is dead,

And has made us his holy heirs ;"
The lady stayed not for all he said,
But went weeping up the stairs.

Robin and she went hand in hand,

Weeping all the way,
Until they came where the lord of that land

Dumb in his cold bed lay.

His hand she took, and saw his dead look,
With the lids over each eye-ball ;

And Robin and she wept as plenteously,
As though he had left them all.

" I will return, Sir Abbot of Vere,

I will return as is meet,
And see my honoured brother dear
Laid in his winding-sheet.



SONGS OF ROBIN HOOD.



25



" And I will stay, for to go were a sin,

For all a woman's tears,
And see the noble Gamelyn
Laid low with the De Veres."

The lady went with a sick heart out

Into the kind fresh air,
And told her Robin all about

The abbot whom he saw there :

And how his uncle must have been

Disturbed in his failing sense,
To leave his wealth to these artful men

At hers and Robin's expense.

Sad was the stately day for all

But the Vere Abbey friars,
When the coffin was stript of its hiding pall,

Amidst the hushing choirs.

Sad was the earth-dropping " dust to dust,"
And "our dear brother here departed;"

The lady shook at them, as shake we must;
And Robin he felt strange -hearted.

That self-same evening, nevertheless,
They returned to Locksley town,

The lady in a dumb distress,
And Robin looking down.

They went, and went, and Robin took
Long steps by his mother's side,

Till she asked him with a sad sweet look
What made him so thoughtful-eyed.

"I was thinking, mother," said little Robin,

And with his own voice so true,
He spoke right out, "that if I was a king,
I'd see what those friars do."

His mother stooped with a tear of joy,
And she kissed him again and again,

And said, " My own little Robin boy,
Thou wilt be a King of Men !"

ROBIN HOOD'S FLIGHT.

Robin Hood's mother, these twelve years now,
Has been gone from her earthly home;

And Robin has paid, he scarce knew how,
A sum for a noble tomb.

The church-yard lies on a woody hill,

But open to sun and air;
It seemi, as if the heavens still

Were looking and smiling there.

Often when Robin looked that way,
He looked through a sweet thin tear,

But he looked in a different manner, they say,
Towards the Abbey of Vere.



He cared not for its ill-got wealth,

He felt not for its pride ;
He had youth, and strength, and health,

And enough for one beside.

But he thought of his gentle mother's cheek,

How it had sunk away,
And how she used to grow more weak

And weary every day.

And how when trying a hymn, her voice

At evening would expire,
How unlike it was the arrogant noise

Of the hard throats in the quire.

And Robin thought too of the poor,
How they toiled without their share,

And how the alms at the abbey-door
But kept them as they were :

And he thought him then of the friars again,

Who rode jingling up and down
With their trappings and things as fine as the
kings,

Though they wore but a shaven crown.

And then bold Robin he thought of the king,
How he got all his forests and deer,

And how he made the hungry swing
If they killed but one in a year.

And thinking thus, as Robin stood

Digging his bow in the ground,
He was aware in Gamelyn wood

Of one who looked around.

"And what is Will doing," said Robin then,
"That he looks so fearful and wan?"

" Oh my dear master that should have been,
I am a weary man,

"A weary man," said Will Scarlet, "am I;

For unless I pilfer this wood
To sell to the fleshers, for want I shall die
Here in this forest so good,

"Here in this forest where I have been,

So happy and so stout,
And like a palfrey on the green
Have carried you about."

"And why, Will Scarlet, not come to me?

Why not to Robin, Will?
For I remember thy love and thy glee,
And the scar that marks thee still.

"And not a soul of my uncle's men

To such a pass should come,
While Robin can find in his pocket or bin
A penny or a crumb.



SONGS OF ROBIN HOOD.



"Stay thee, Will Scarlet, stay awhile,

And kindle a fire for me ;"
And into the wood for half a mile
He has vanished instantly.

Robin Hood with his cheek on fire

Has drawn his bow so stern,
And a leaping deer with one leap higher

Lies motionless in the fern.

Robin, like a proper knight

As he should have been,
Carved a part of the shoulder right,

And bore otf a portion clean.

' ' Oli what hast thou done, dear master mine !

What hast thou done for me?"
"Roast it, Will, for excepting wine

Thou shalt feast thee royally."

And Scarlet took and half-roasted it,

Blubbering with blinding tears,
And ere he had eaten a second bit,

A trampling came to their ears.

They heard the tramp of a horse's feet,
And they listened and kept still,

For Will was feeble and knelt by the meat ;
And Robin he stood by WilL

" Seize him, seize him !" the abbot cried,
With his fat voice through the trees ;
Robin a smooth arrow felt and eyed,
And Will jumped stout with his knees.

"Seize him, seize him!" and now they appear,

The abbot and foresters three.
'"Twas I," cried Will Scarlet, "that killed the

deer."

Says Robin, "Now let not a man come near,
Or he's dead as dead can be."

But on they came, and with an embrace,

The first one the arrow met,
And he came pitching forward and fell on his face

Like a stumbler in the street.

The others turned to that abbot vain,
But "Seize him !" still he cried,

And as the second turned again,
An arrow was in his side.

" Seize him, seize him still, I say,"
Cried the abbot in furious chafe,

" Or these dogs will grow so bold some day,
Even priests will not be safe."

A fatal word ! for as he sat

Urging the sword to cut.
An arrow stuck in his paunch so fat

As in a leathern butt,



As in a leathern butt of wine;

Or dough, a household lump ;
Or a pumpkin, or a good beef chine,

Stuck that arrow with a dump.

"Truly," said Robin without fear,

Smiling there as he stood,
"Never was slain sp fat a deer

In good old Gamelyn wood.

" Pardon, pardon, Sir Robin stout,"

Said he that stood apart,
" As soon as I knew thee, I wished thee out

Of the forest with all my heart.

"And I pray thee let me follow thee,

Anywhere under the sky,
For thou wilt never stay here without me,
Nor without thee can I."

Robin smiled, and suddenly fell

Into a little thought ;
And then into a leafy dell

The three slain men they brought.

Ankle-deep in leaves so red,

Which autumn there had cast,
When going to her winter-bed

She had undrest her last.

And there in a hollow, side by side,
They buried them under the treen ;

The abbot's belly, for all its pride,
Made not the grave be seen.

Robin Hood, and the forester,

And Scarlet the good Will,
Struck off among the green trees there

Up a pathless hill ;

And Robin caught a sudden sight

Of merry sweet Locksley town,
Reddening in the sunset bright :

And the gentle tears came down.

Robin looked at the town and land
And the church-yard where it lay ;

And poor Will Scarlet kissed his hand,
And turned his head away.

Then Robin turned him with a grasp of Will's,
And clapped him on the shoulder,

And said with one of his pleasant smiles,
"Now show us three men bolder."

And so they took their march away

As firm as if to fiddle,
To journey that night and all next day

With Robin Hood in the middle.



SONGS OF ROBIN HOOD.



27



BOBIX HOOD, AN OUTLAW.

Robin Hood is an outlaw bold

Under the greenwood tree :
Bird, nor stag, nor morning air

Is more at large than he.

They sent against him twenty men,

"Who joined him laughing-eyed;
They sent against him thirty more,

And they remained beside.

All the stoutest of the train,

That grew in Gamelyn wood,
"Whether they came with these or not,

Are now with Robin Hood.

And not a soul in Locksley town

Would speak him an ill word ;
The friars raged ; but no man's tongue,

Nor even feature, stirred :

Except among a very few

Who dined in the Abbey halls ;
And then with a sigh bold Robin knew

His true friends from his false.

There was Roger the monk, that used to make

All monkery his glee ;
And Midge, on whom Robin had never turn'd

His face but tenderly :

With one or two, they say, besides,

Lord ! that in this life's dream
Men should abandon one true thing

That would remain with them.

We cannot bid our strength remain,

Our cheeks continue round ;
We cannot say to an aged back,

Stoop not towards the ground :

We cannot bid our dim eyes see

Things as bright as ever ;
Nor tell our friends, thougli friends from youth,

That they'll forsake us never :

But we an say, I never will,

Friendship, fall oft' from thee ;
And, oh, sound truth and old regard,

Nothing shall part us three.



HOW ROBIN AND HIS OUTLAWS LIVED IN
THE WOODS.

Robin and his merry men

Lived just like the birds,
They had almost as many tracks as thoughts,

And whistles and songs as words.



Up they were with the earliest sign
Of the sun's up-looking eye ;

But not an archer breakfasted
Till he twinkled from the sky.

All the morning they were wont
To fly their gray-goose quills

At butts, or wands, or trees, or twigs,
Till theirs was the skill of skills.

With swords too they played lustily,

And at quarter-staff;
Many a hit would have made some cry,

Which only made them laugh.

The horn was then their dinner-bell ;

When like princes of the wood,
Under the glimmering summer trees,

Pure venison was their food.

Pure venison and a little wine,
Except when the skies were rough,

Or when they had a feasting day ;
For their blood was wine enough.

And story then, and joke, and song,
And Harry's harp went round ;

And sometimes they'd get up and dance,
For pleasure of the sound.

Tingle, tangle ! said the harp,

As they footed in and out :
Good lord ! it was a sight to see

Their feathers float about;

A pleasant sight, especially

If Margery was there,
Or little Ciss, or laughing Bess,

Or Moil with the clumps of hair.

Or any other merry lass
From the neighbouring villages,

Who came with milk and eggs, or fruit,
A-singing through the trees.

For all the country round about

Was fond of Robin Hood,
With whom they got a share of more

Than the acorns in the wood ;

Nor ever would he suffer harm

To woman, above all;
No plunder, were she ne'er so great,

No fright to great or small ;

No, not a single kiss unliked,
Nor one look-saddening clip;

Accurst be he, said Robin Hood,
Makes pale a woman's lip.



28



ETHICAL AND ARTISTIC NOTES.



Only on the haughty rich,

And on their unjust store,
He'd lay his fines of equity

For his merry men and the poor.

And special was his joy no doubt
(Which made the dish to curse)

To light upon a good fat friar,
And carve him of his purse.

A monk to him was a toad in the hole,

And an abbot a pig in grain,
But a bishop was a baron of beef

With cut and come again.

Never poor man came for help

And went away denied;
Never woman for redress,

And went away wet-eyed.

Says Robin to the poor who came

To ask of him relief,
You do but get your goods again

That were altered by the thief;

There, ploughman, is a sheaf of yours

Turned to yellow gold ;
And, miller, there's your last year's rent,

'Twill wrap thee from the cold :

And you there, Wat of Lancashire,

Who such a way have come,
Get upon your land-tax, man,

And ride it merrily home.



THE HOUR IS COME.

The hour is come too soon it came

When you and I, fair girl, must sever;
But though as yet be strange thy name,

Thy memory will be loved for ever.
We met as pilgrims on the way,

Thy smiles made bright the gloomiest weather,
Yet who is there can name the clay

When we shall meet again together !

Be that as 'twill, if ne'er to meet,

At least we've had one day of gladness ;
And oh ! a glimpse of joy's more sweet

That it is seen through clouds of sadness.
Thus did the sun half-hid to-day

Seem lovelier in its hour of gleaming,
Than had we mark'd its fervid ray

Through one untired day of beaming.

THOMAS ATKINSON.



ETHICAL AND ARTISTIC NOTES.

[John Raskin, LL.D., bora in London, February,
1819. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford,
where he gained the Ne wdigate prize for poetry in 1 839.
He was appointed Eede Lecturer at Cambridge in
1867, and Slade Professor of Art in the University of
Oxford in 1869. In 1871 he gave to the latter univer-
sity 5000, for the endowment of a mastership of draw-
ing in the Taylor Galleries. As an art critic he has
exercised an important influence iipon modern art,
although many of his opinions have been vigorously
opposed. His chief work is Modern Painters, the first
volume of which appeared in 1S43, the fifth and last in
1860. The preface to the last volume explains the delay
in the completion of the book, and contains the follow-
ing characteristic sentences, which give the key-note of
all the author's work: "In the main aim and prin-
ciple of the book there is no variation from its first
syllable to its last. It declares the perfectness and
eternal beauty of the Work of God, and tests all work
of man by concurrence with, or subjection to, that.
And it differs from most books, and has a chance of
being in some respects better for the difference, that it
has not been written either for fame or for money, or
for conscience' sake, but of necessity." In the course
of an active and earnest life, Mr. Ruskin has produced
numerous works, of which we may note : The Seven
Lamps of Architecture; The Stones of Venice; Nates on the
Construction of Sheerfolds; Pre-Raphaelitism; The King
of the Golden River; Lectures on Architecture and Paint-
ing ; Giotto and his Works in Padua; The Two Paths,
being Lectures on Art and its Application to Decora-
tion and Manufacture ; a series of essays or addresses
appearing from time to time under the title of Fors
Clavigera; &c. &o. A selection from his writings has
been published by Smith, Elder, & Co.]

THE SACBEDNESS OF HOME.

I cannot but think it an evil sign of a people
when their houses are built to last for one
generation only. There is a sanctity in a good
man's house which cannot be renewed in every
tenement that rises on its ruins: and I believe
that good men would generally feel this; trnd
that having spent their lives happily and hon-
ourably, they would be grieved at the close of
them to think that the place of their earthly
abode, which had seen, and seemed almost to
sympathize in, all their honour, their gladness,
or their suffering, that this, with all the re-
cord it bare of them, and all of material tilings
that they had loved and ruled over, and set
the stamp of themselves upon was to be swept
away as soon as there was room made for them
in the grave; that no respect was to be shown
to it, no affection felt for it, no good to be
drawn from it by their children; that though
there was a monument in the church, there
was no warm monument in the hearth and
house to them : that all that they ever treasured



ETHICAL AND ARTISTIC NOTES.



29



was despised, and the places that had sheltered
and comforted them were dragged down to the
dust. I say that a good man would fear this;
and that, far more, a good son, a noble descend-
ant, would fear doing it to his father's house.
I say that if men lived like men indeed, their
houses would be temples temples which we
should hardly dare to injure, and in which it
would make us holy to be permitted to live;
and there must be a strange dissolution of
natural affection, a strange unthankfulness for
all that homes have given and parents taught,
a strange consciousness that we have been un-
faithful to our father's honour, or that our own
lives are not such as would make our dwellings
sacred to our children, when each man would
fain build to himself, and build for the little
revolution of his own life only. And I look
upon those pitiful concretions of lime and clay
which spring up in mildewed forwardness out
of the kneaded fields about our capital upon
those thin, tottering, found ationless shells of
splintered wood and imitated stone upon
those gloomy rows of formalized minuteness,
alike without difference and without fellowship,
as solitary as similar not merely with the
careless disgust of an offended eye, not merely
with sorrow for a desecrated landscape, but
with a painful foreboding that the roots of our
national greatness must be deeply cankered
when they are thus loosely struck in their
native ground; that those comfortless and un-
honourcd dwellings are the signs of a great and
spreading spirit of popular discontent; that
they mark the time when every man's aim is
to be in some more elevated sphere than his
natural one, and every man's past life is his
habitual scorn; when men build in the hope of
leaving the places they have built, and live in
the hope of forgetting the years that they have
lived; when the comfort, the peace, the reli-
gion of home have ceased to be felt; and the
crowded tenements of a struggling and restless
population differ only from the tents of the
Arab or the Gipsy by their less healthy open-
ness to the air of heaven, and less happy choice
of their spot of earth; by their sacrifice of
liberty without the gain of rest, and of stability
without the luxury of change.

This is no slight, no consequenceless evil;
it is ominous, infectious, and fecund of other
fault and misfortune. When men do not love
their hearths, nor reverence their thresholds,
it is a sign that they have dishonoured both,
and that they have never acknowledged th
true universality of that Christian worship
which was indeed to supersede the idolatry,
but not the piety, of the pagan. Our God is a



household God, as well as a heavenly one; He
has an altar in every man's dwelling; let men
look to it when they rend it lightly and pour
out its ashes. It is not a question of mere
ocular delight, it is no question of intellectual
pride, or of cultivated and critical fancy, how
and with what aspect of durability and of com-
pleteness the domestic buildings of a nation
shall be raised. It is one of those moral duties,
not with more impunity to be neglected because
the perception of them depends on a finely
toned and balanced conscientiousness, to build
our dwellings with care, and patience, and
fondness, and diligent completion, and with a
view to their duration at least for such a period
as, in the ordinary course of national revolu-
tions, might be supposed likely to extend to
the entire alteration of the direction of local
interests. This at the least; but it would be
better if, in every possible instance, men built
their own houses on a scale commensurate rather
with their condition at the commencement
than their attainments at the termination of
their worldly career; and built them to stand
as long as human work at its strongest can be
hoped to stand; recording to their children
what they had been, and from what, if so it
had been permitted them, they had risen. And
when houses are thus built, we may have that
true domestic architecture, the beginning of all
other, which does not disdain to treat with
respect and thoughtfulness the small habitation
as well as the large, and which invests with
the dignity of contented manhood the narrow-
ness of worldly circumstance.

I look to this spirit of honourable, proud,
peaceful self-possession, this abiding wisdom
of contented life, as probably one of the chief
sources of great intellectual power in all ages,
and beyond dispute as the very primal source
of the great architecture of old Italy and
France. To this day, the interest of their
fairest cities depends, not on the isolated rich-
ness of palaces, but on the cherished and exqui-
site decoration of even the smallest tenements,
of their proud periods. The most elaborate
piece of architecture in Venice is a small house
at the head of the Grand Canal, consisting of
a ground-floor with two stories above, three
windows in the first and two in the second.
Many of the most exquisite buildings are on
the narrower canals, and of no larger dimen-
sions. One of the most interesting pieces of
fifteenth-century architecture in North Italy
is a small house in a back street, behind the
market-place of Vicenza. It bears date 1481,
and the motto, Il.riest.rose.sans.tpine; it
has also only a ground-floor and two stories,



30



ETHICAL AND ARTISTIC NOTES.



with three windows in each, separated by rich
flower-work, and with balconies, supported, the
central one by an eagle with open wings, the
lateral ones by winged griffins standing on
cornucopiee. The idea that a house must be
large in order to be well built, is altogether of
modern growth, and is parallel with the idea
that no picture can be historical except of a
size admitting figures larger than life.

I would have, then, our ordinary dwelling-
houses built to last, and built to be lovely: as
rich and full of pleasantness as may be, within
and without; with what degree of likeness to
eich other in style and manner I will say
under another head; but, at all events, with
such differences as might suit and express
each man's character and occupation, and
partly his history. This right over the house,
I conceive, belongs to its first builder, and is
to be respected by his children; and it would
be well that blank stones should be left in
places, to be inscribed with a summary of his
life and of its experience, raising thus the
habitation into a kind of monument, and de-
veloping, into more systematic instructiveness,
that good custom which was of old universal,
and which still remains among some of the
Swiss and Germans, of acknowledging the
grace of God's permission to build and possess
a quiet resting-place. The Seven Lamps of
Architecture.

PASTORAL POETRY.

Exactly as hoops, and starch, and false hair,
and all that in mind and heart these things
typify and betray, as these, I say, gained upon
men, there was a necessary reaction in favour
of the natural. Men had never lived so utterly
in defiance of the laws of nature before; but
they could not do this without feeling a strange



Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 6 of 75)