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from time to time as having been won from infidelity, to believe in that future state which these manifestations reveal. It had been a charity to leave them in their old belief. For such an immortality who could be grateful ?

Βουλοίμην κ' επάρoυρος έων θητευόμεν άλλα
Avapi tap' axanpo, u pes' Blotos Tonùs ein,

Ε* πάσιν νεκύεσσι καταφθιμένοισιν ανάσσειν. But we will leave Sludge, without attempting to consider the sly specious argument, wonderfully sustained by Mr. Browning, in which the impostor, half a dupe himself, tries to show that after all there may be something in his science. For one brief picture we must make room; it is that of the literary man, who "makes capital," as the phrase is, for himself out of these " lying wonders.” That the scornful satire is not undeserved, the reader of modern fiction will at once acknowledge :

" Then there's the other picker out of pearl

From dung-heaps,-ay, your literary man,
Who draws on his kid gloves to deal with Sludge
Daintily and discreetly,-shakes a dust
Of the doctrine, flavours thence, he well knows how,
The narrative or the novel,-half believes,
All for the book's sake, and the public's stare,
And the cash that's God's sole solid in this world !
Look at him! Try to be too bold, too gross
For the master! Not you! He's the man for muck;
Shovel it forth, full splash, he'll smooth your brown
Into artistic richness, never fear!
Find him the crude stuff; when you recognise
Your lie again, you'll doff your hat to it,
Dressed out for company !"

P. 204. The more ardent admirers of Mr. Browning will think that we might have quoted more characteristic passages. Such stanzas as the following, for instance, ought to have suggested the staple of our criticism. A lover forsaken upbraids his mistress, who, as it would appear, has forsworn him, in order henceforth to live a blameless life. He says:

“Men tell me of truth now—'False !'I cry;

Of beauty- A mask, friend! Look beneath!
We take our own method, the devil and I,

With pleasant and fair, and wise and rare :
And the best we wish to what lives, is-death;

Which, even in wishing, perhaps we lie !
“ Far better commit a fault and have done-

As you, dear! for ever; and choose the pure,
And look where the healing waters run,

And strive and strain to be good again,
And a place in the other world insure,

All glass and gold, with God for its sun.

“Misery! What sball I say or do ?

I cannot advise, or, at least, persuade:
Most like, you are glad you deceived me-rue

No wbit of the wrong: you endured too long,
Have done no evil and want no aid,

Will live the old life out and chance the new.
“And your sentence is written all the same,

And I can do nothing -pray, perhaps :
But, somehow, the world pursues its game,

If I pray, if I curse,- for better or worse:
And my faith is torn to a thousand scraps,

And my heart feels ice while my words breathe flame.
“Dear, I look from my hiding-place.

Are you still so fair ? Have you still the eyes ?
Be happy! Add but the other grace,

Be good! Why want what the angels vaunt ?
I knew you once, but in Paradise,
If we meet, I will pass, nor turn my face.

Pp. 42, 43. But enough has been said about these vivid, abrupt delineations of exceptional moods. They are often fraught with fiery power. Mr. Browning is not reticent with respect to the stronger passions, nor does he veil his meaning in conventional phrases. Some readers therefore find him coarse ; but we fear not to say that he is the most moral, as he is the most metaphysical and the most Christian, of our modern great poets. And the volume before us, though it has no wrought-out dramas like "Strafford” or “ The Blot on the Scutcheon," no lyrics like “Saul,” no ballads, and very few Ingoldsby-rhymes, is perhaps, on the whole, as complete a representation of Mr. Browning's genius as any other of his works. We recommend it, therefore, as a Primer—an Introduction—and shall be much surprised if many of our readers, after reading it, do not henceforth make Robert Browning's poems a study and delight. We close with some noble lines, different in strain from all that we have quoted before :

PROSPICE.
“ Fear death ?-to feel the fog in my throat,

The mist in my face,
When the snows begin, and the blasts denote

I am nearing the place,
The power of the night, the press of the storm,

The post of the foe;
Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form,

Yet the strong man must go :
For the journey is done and the summit attained,

And the barriers fall,
Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained,

The reward of it all.
I was ever a fighter, so-one fight'more,

The best and the last !

I would hate that death bandaged my eyes, and forbore,

And bade me creep past.
No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers

The heroes of old,
Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears,

Of pain, darkness, and cold.
For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave,

The black minute's at end,
And the elements' rage, the fiend voices that rave,

Shall dwindle, shall blend,
Shall change, shall become, first, a peace; then a joy,

Then a light, then thy breast,
O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again,
And with God be the rest!”

Pp. 149, 150.

A CLUSTER OF OLD ENGLISH CHRISTMAS

CAROLS.

MORE than fifty generations have come and gone since the plains of Bethlehem were radiant with heavenly glory, and the awestruck shepherds heard the angelic song of“ Glory to God in the highest ; on earth peace, good-will to men.” Through all subsequent ages, even the darkest, have men rejoiced in that light, and amongst the din of arms have the echoes of that song been heard. Genius, in its manifold forms, has gained new inspiration from the wondrous theme. Painting, music, eloquence, poetry, have come with the shepherds and the magi to gaze, and wonder, and adore at the shrine of the Incarnate God, and to lay their offerings at His feet.

The object of this paper is not to deal with these loftier tributes of devout homage to the Divine Child, but to set forth some of its ruder and simpler forms. The progress of civilization and refinement is rapidly putting an end to the old-world customs in which our forefathers delighted. Christmas Waits and Carols will soon be numbered with the things that were. The besotted musicians and draggle-tailed vocalists who make night hideous at Christmas time in our towns and manufacturing districts, only caricature the quaint antique minstrelsy which was wont to usher in the day which celebrates the birth of our Lord. Before Christmas carols are quite forgotten it seems worth while to bring together a few of those which may, even yet, be heard in the few districts of England which the snort and shriek of the steam engine have not invaded.

The first which we give lingers in the North of England, though in a somewhat broken and distorted form. It was printed in Byrd's collection (1587), and is copied with some abridgment in Montgomery's“ Christian Poet." The tendency to alliteration which is observable throughout proves its archaic character. It is undoubtedly amongst the very earliest specimens of old ballad literature now extant. In spite of the rudeness of its versification, this monody of the Virgin over her child has a tenderness and pathos which are very attractive. As sung, there is a soft and plaintive lullaby, forming a chorus at the end of each verse. “My sweet little Baby, what meanest thou to cry?

Be still, my blessed Baby, though cause thou hast to mourn,
Whose blood most innocent the cruel king hath sworn
And lo! alas ! behold! what slaughter he doth make!
Shedding the blood of infants all, sweet Saviour, for Thy sake.
A King is born, they say, which King this king would kill.

Oh! woe and woeful heavy day when wretches have their will! “ Three kings, the King of kings to see, are come from far,

To each unknown,* with offerings great, by guiding of a star;
As shepherds heard the song which angels bright did sing,
Giving all glory unto God for coming of this King,
Which must be made away-King Herod Him would kill.
Oh! woe and woeful heavy day when wretches have their will!
“Lo! my little Babe, be still; lament no more :

From fury Thou shall step aside, help have we still in store;
We heavenly warning have some other soil to seek ;
From death must fly the Lord of life, as lamb both mild and meek;
Thus must my Babe obey the king that would him kill.
Ob! woe and woeful heavy day when wretches have their will !
“But Thou shalt live and reign, as David hath foresaid

And prophets prophesied
Whom Catiffs none can 'tray, whom tyrants none can kill.
Oh ! joy and joyful, happy day, when wretches want their will !".

The holly tree is commonly supposed to be the holy tree. What gained for it this reputation and name? The next carol which we give will answer the question. There is much true poetry in the natural symbolism thus quaintly shadowed forth. The carol belongs to a period probably quite as remote as the last.

THE HOLLY AND THE IVY.
“ The holly and the ivy

Now are both well grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood

The holly bears the crown.

* A reference to the old tradition that the wise men of the East were kings, who each left his own country, without concert or knowledge of the others, and that they met together as perfect strangers at Bethlehem.

CHORUS
" The rising of the sun,

The running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,

Sweet singing in the choir.
“ The holly bears a blossom,

As white as the lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,

To be our sweet Saviour.
“ The holly bears a berry,

As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,

To do poor sinners good.
“ The holly bears a prickle,

As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,

On Christmas-day in the morn.
“ The holly bears a bark,

As bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,

For to redeem us all.
“ The holly and the ivy

Now are both well grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood

The holly bears the crown.” The origin of the next carol is to be sought in the various Apocryphal Gospels, such as those of Nicodemus and of the Infancy. The legendary Gospels abound in similar incidents, in which the imagination of the early Church endeavoured to fill up the void left by the inspired record. Many of these Apocryphal narratives are found in a great variety of forms, yet are marked by an essential unity; so that it is difficult to avoid the conjecture that they rest upon some common tradition.

“ As it fell out one May morning,
And on a bright holiday,
Sweet Jesus asked of His dear mother,
If He might go to play.

“ 'To play, to play sweet Jesus shall go,
And to play now get you gone.
And let me hear of no complaint,
At night when you come home.

“ Sweet Jesus went down to yonder town
As far as the Holy Well,
And there did see as fine children
As any tongue can tell.

" He said, 'God bless you every one;
May Christ your portion be;
Little children, shall I play with you ?
And you shall play with me.'

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