Richard Hengist Horne.
THE cable announced to us during the pre- sent week the death of Richard Hengist Horne, at one time well known in Australia. To most people the name was unfamiliar, but to those
who engage in the pursuit of literature it was the name of a poet of some eminence, and a critic of great calibre and corresponding in- fluence. Horne was born in London early in the prevent century—some state in 1803 others in 1807—and received his education at the Sand- hurst Royal Military College. He began life very young as a sailor, entering the Mexican Navy, wherein he saw much active service, being present at the bombardment of Vera Cruz and at the taking of the fortress of San Juan Ulloa. On the conclusion of the Mexican-Spanish war, his love for adven- ture caused him to visit the United States, where he became aquainted with several Indian tribes. He was the hero of many hair-breadth escapes and seemed to bear a charmed life. At Vera Cruz, he plunged into the waters of the bay and was fiercel y attacked by a huge shark; at Niagara, his adventurous yet foolhardy spirit prompted him to view the grand volume of water from beneath, and he paid the penalty by smashing a couple of ribs; he had a narrow escape from drowning in the Gulf of St Lawrence through his vessel being wrecked; he sailed from Nova Scotia in a ship on board of which a mutiny broke out, and after this had been successfully quelled the old tub took fire, and out of this he also came without turning a hair. He then threw up seafairing life, returned to England, and, settling down, he devoted himself wholly to literature giving to the world most of his best works. Shortly after this the fame of the Australian goldfields was ringing throughout the world; it reached the ears of Horne, and in 1852 be sailed for Melbourne. Here and in other ports of the country he held at various times the following appointments:—Gold Escort Commissioner, Commissioner in charge of Goldfields, Territorial Magistrate. Com- missioner Yan Yean Water supply, and Mining Registrar at the Blue Mountain. About seven or eight years ago he left our shores for the white cliffs of Albion, carrying with him, it is said, little affection for the Aus- tralian statesmen with whom he came in con- tact. Horne was a most energetic and prolific writer, being almost to the time of his death a constant contributor of poems and essays to the leading magazines and periodicals of the day. The works by which he in best known are: "The Death of Marlowe," a tragedy in one act; the tragedy of "Gregory the Seventh," which is prefaced by an essay on Tragic lnfluences; "Cosimo de Medici," an historical tragedy; "Judas Escariot," a mystery play : "Orion," an epic poem; and "The New Spirit of the Age," containing biographical and critical sketches of his literary contemporaries. There are numerous ballad romances, and miscel- laneous poems and essays, but the works named may be fairly claimed as his best writings. "Orion" was originally (issued ?) at a farthing " a price placed upon it as a sarcasm upon the low estimation into which epic poetry was fallen and the (??) was highly succesful for the work ran through several editions after the price was raised. The splenetic (?) Edgar Allan Poe recognsed the undoubted power and grandeur of the poem. of the passage commencing There, underneath the boughs, mark where the ??? ca ?? ? ? ?(rooting ?) ? chasm is thrown Upon a grass plot below &c. Poe writes: "There is nothing more richly, more weirdly. more chastely, more sublimely imaginative in the rich realm of poetical literature." He concludes his criticism of the ????? ? ? ? ? genius to be one of the ? ? ? ? be very noblest, practical work ? ? ? ? ? ?Its defects are trivial and ? ? ? ? ?
words of Dickens contained as eloquently exemplified by the reverend gentleman As we sat entranced, almost spellbound, not as much, perhaps, by the highly developed orato- rical powers of the speaker as as by the exquisite beauty and tender pathos of the story, no eye is dry, for the heart was penetrated by the music of sorrow—the music of the waving of the sombre and gloomy cypress, the low soft music of the murmuring sea. This poetry, or at least rhythmical prose, characterises most of the sad portions of Dickens's tales. Home, in his "New Spirit of the Age," on an essay on Dickens compares this with the irregular metres at times adopted by Shelley and more frequently by Southey, yet this is an error into most poets fall, Shakespeare and Milton among them and it may be argued that those of them who show a nice or close preciseness in the art of versifation lack the true gift of poesy. the "divine afflatus." Horne prints Dickens line for line, and the regular versified prose is immediately seen. he gives the con- cluding portion of "Nicholas Nickelby" in this way: The grass was green above the dead boy's grave trodden by feet so small and light That not a daisy drooped its head Beneath their pressure. Through all the spring and summertime Garlands of fresh flowers wreathed by infant hands. Rested upon the stone. Horne's works have undergone severe scrutiny; they have stood the test well, and the author has received the congratulations and enconiums of the brightest intellects of England and America; but whether they will live or not must be left to the keen appreciative discernment of posterity. There is no attractive gloss, no ephemeral bronze, about his writing—ornaments which catch the eye and have been the means of bringing into prominence, and sustaining ,much maudlin stuff sham philosophy which would be better in the grave of oblivion; and in conclusion I may state that no one rises from the study of the chief efforts of Richard Hengist Horne, upon whom—to use his own majestic words—has descended Midnight, tremendous silence. and iron sleep! without feeling the magnetic influence of undeniable genius. W. H. B.