Page images

Meanwhile there swelled through London

Vague rumors of the fray,
No man, whate'cr his own affair,

Thought much of it that day—
Swells nt club breakfasts, pausing

In gastronomic joys,
And little boys, who going to school,

Met other fittle boys,


And patriarchs old and hoary,

And matrons grave and staid, And the sick with hfs physician,

And the swain with blushing maid,
Fair penitents conferring

With parsons Puseyite,
And clients with their men of law,

All asked, How vent the fight 1

And well may both brave nations

Be proud of both bravo sons;
Through all the triumphs of the race

A thread in common runs; Still Jonathan must feel to John

As son to noble sire,

Still John (tlio' sometimes moved to chide),
Watching the boy that left his side,
As on ho goes with giant stride,

Must wonder and admire.

Embalmed in verse strong Dares

To far times lives anew,
Why not strong Ilccnan 1 Have we not

Our brave Entcllus too?
And I would some worthier poet,

In more melodious rhyme,
Should sing the Battle of the Belt,

And send it down through time.



Habk, hark, hark!

The lark sings high in the dark. The raven croaked from the raven stone; I spurred up my charger, and left him alone; For what should I care for his boding groan, Ki'lin',' the moorlund to como to mine own;

While hark, hark, hark I

The lark sings high in the dark.

Hark, hark, hark!

The lark sings high in the dark. Long have I wandered by land and by sea, Long have I ridden by moor and by lea, Till yonder she sits with her babe on her knee, Sits at the window and watches for me.

While hark, hark, hark 1

The lark sings high in the dark. —Eraser's Magazine. C. K.


A. Boat left idly rocking at its chain
Through the long brightness of the summer


While ever past it, to the glad blue main,
All sweep away.

Toam in their woke, and sunlight on their sails,
The light waves laughing round them as they


They speed, their white wings spread before the gales,

For it, alas!

Chained to the narrow inlet's dull green tide That sluggish breaks against the silent shore, The drifted seaweed clinging to its side, The idle our.

Oh! for an hour of motion and of life,

Dancing along the lit crests of the sea, Even as the white gull, through the calm and strife,

Goes sweeping frcee!

Action, and purpose, and the wholesome task

That bends the supple sinews to their strength; Scope for the powers within me! these I ask, And lo! at length

I feel the freshness of the rising gale,

The long wave rollcth inward even here, The anchor parts, the wind is in the sail,

The path is clear 1 —N. Y. Evening Post. Exul.


These gray November days Suit well my temper; so these fallen Icarc* lying

In all the miry ways,
Part rotten, part just dead, part only dying,

Pray prayers, chant holy lays,
Preach homilies for me most edifying.

My hopefuUspring is past,
My rustling summer and my harvest season

Unfruitful, and at last
My fall-of-lcaf hath come; and there is treason

Against the bitter blast Within my heart, although I know 'tis reason.

November leaves must fall, And hopes outworn, the timely frost must sever,

Leaving their branches tail All gaunt and bare and black; but not forever.

Thrice-strong to whom befall These kindly frosts! Let such forget them

never. —Ladiei' Companion. J. A.


Leigh Hunt was one of a class of authors who fail to achieve eminence chiefly because they are overshadowed by the vicinity of greater reputations. Ambitious men, of powers below the highest, should choose ••. line of their own. A thirdrate physician may become immortal by cultivating one of the waste places of natural science, and a barrister who has scarcely held a brief in Westminster Hall may dash into the attorney-generalship of an obscure colony. It is the same in literature. Tho public prefers relative to absolute excellence. With a just economy of time it will read a book, or go to see a sight, which is reputed to bo the first of its class. It does not care to discriminate between the comparative elevation of two different careers, or to balance the difficulty of success in that which is open and that which is crowded. Mr. Leigh Hunt wrote, and wrote well, in a variety of styles, but in each one he was fairly beaten by some contemporary poet. The "Story of Rimini" contains some fine passages, but as a whole does not approach the best of Byron's narrative poems. "The Palfrey," and " Wallace," are poor beside Sir Walter Scott's lays and ballads. The " Ode to the Sun," perhaps the highest flight of poetry in the volume, falls short of the simplicity and grandeur of the "Ode to Immortality." "Godiva," though it contains the choice line, "Hear how the boldest naked deed was clothed in saintliest beauty," has not the strange transparency of Mr. Tennyson's fragment on the same subject, and is not comparable to his masterpieces on kindred subjects. The result is, that although Mr. Hunt has written real poetry, and not mere rhetoric and metaphysics in verse, he is scarcely numbered amon$ English poets, and probably has more honor with the less discriminating but more sympathetic American public than in his own country.

The present volume, as we learn from the introduction, contains those of his poetical works, which the author thought worthy of preservation, and the plan of arrangement was settled by himself before his death. They are distributed into "Narrative Poems," "Narrative Modernizations," "Narrative Imitations," "Political and Critical Poems," "Sonnets," " Blank Verse," "Miscellaneous Poems," and " Translations." Adopting this classification, we should be inclined to give the preference to the least ambitious works — to the Translations, the Imitations of

* The Poetical Wort* of Ltigh Hunt. Now finally collected, revised bv "himself, nml edited by bis »on, Thornton Hunt. London and New York: Bontledgc and Co. H60.

Chaucer and Spenser, and those of the Narrative Poems which arc really metrical tales, and turn, like fables, on the description of simple incidents. It is natural that an author should regard with partial fondness his more elaborate efforts; and Mr. Hunt, like Southey, does "not pretend to think that there is no merit in the larger pieces," and, like him, appeals to the fact that " they have not ceased to bo called for by the public." We attach very little value to this test. It varies with the attractiveness of the subject, the notoriety of the writer, and the greater or less urgency of the puffing. Undismayed by their alleged popularity, and by the assertion that the first is the " finest narrative poem which has appeared in the English language since the time of Dryden," we pronounce "Rimini," "Corso and Emilia," "The Palfrey," and even "Hero and Leander," to be second-rate productions, deficient in originality, and but for their pictures of scenery very little above the level of the prize-poem. It is perhaps worth while to remark, by the way, that the line, "That ever among ladies ate in hall," in that most beautiful passage which describes Elaine's admirationoXLancelot, occurs word for wor3 inLorenzo's lamentation over the body of Corso.

Mr. Leigh Hunt is much more successful in what may be called "cabinet poems," where sustained power is less necessary than poetical sympathy and grace of expression. "Mahmoud, "Kilspindie," and the "Trumpets of Doolkarnein," are happy examples of what is rapidly becoming a lost art—the art of telling a story graphically without marring its effect by subjective interpolations. The mine of self-consciousness had, in Mr. Hunt's earlier days, scarcely been opened to poets. Byron himself, though he formed a kind of dark background to his pictures out of his own blighted existence, sought his materials and refreshed his imagination in the inexhaustible richness of nature. Even the misanthropy of Manfred and Childe Harold is not the misanhtropy of the hero in "Maud"—the Byronic melancholy is not the melancholy which gives its charm to " In Memoriam." Leigh Hunt's poetry—more nearly related to that of Keats than to that of Byron—still essentially belongs to the earlier manner of the present century. It abounds in glowing descriptions, ingenious turns, and lively sallies; but it is strictly confined within the dominion of fancy, and never aspires to teach or to interpret. Perhaps its most attractive characteristic is the cheerful tone which pervades it, in spite of trials and misrepresentations which might well have soured a less equable temper. There is no bitterness of spirit in the following sonnet "To Hampatead—Written during the Author's Imprisonment, August, 1813:"—

"Sweet upland, to whose walks with fond repair,

Ont of thy western slope I took my rise, Day after day, and on these feverish eyes Met the moist lingers of the bathing air;— If health, unenrn'd of thec, I may not share, Keep it, I pray thcc, where my memory lies, In thy green lanes, brown dells, and breezy

skies, Till I return, and find theo doubly fair.

"Wait then my coming, on that lightsome land, Health, and the joy that oat of nature

springs, And Freedom's air-blown locks;—but

stay with me, Friendship,'frank entering with the cordial

hand, And Honor, and the Muse with growing

wings, And Love Domestic, smiling equably."

On the other hand, we think a wise discretion would have forborne to reprint such "specimens of political verse" as the lines on the "St. James' Phenomenon" and the "Coronation Soliloquy." Clever and witty they certainly are, but the interest of such squibs is quite ephemeral, their vulgarity is of the broadest kind, and the contrast of their spirit with that of the "Odes to the Queen," and on the births of the Princess Royal, the Prince of Wales, and the Princess Alice, is somewhat too glaring. No living writer of reputation would venture on satire so scurrilously personal as the whimsical pasquinade on the prince regent's habits and appearance:—

"Hard by St. James' Palace

You may sec this prince of shockings,
But not before three,
For at one, d'ye sec,

He begins to put on his stockings.

"His head, or else what should be

In the place that's on his shoulders,
Is nothing but hair,
Frizz'd hero and there.

To the terror of nil beholders.
That it has a mouth, is clear from

His <iiiiil.ii!':, and his vap'rings;
But all agree
That he cannot sec,

For he'll take a pig for a prince.

"To tell yon what his throat is,
Is a matter a little puzzling;
But I should guess,
That more or less,
It was forty yards of muslin."

On the other hand, we question whether the Family Herald would accept from the most maudlin correspondent loyalty so insipid as this :—

"Blest be the queen! Blest when the sun goes

down; When rises blest. May love line soft her


May music's self not more harmonious be, Than the mild manhood by her side, and she— May she be young forever—ride, dance, sing, 'Twixt cares of state, carelessly carolling," etc.

Or again, the description of the assemblage at the Prince of Wales' christening,

the third and fourth lines of which are considerately explained in a note to allude to the late king of Prussia and Alexander von Humboldt:—

"Young beauties mixed with warriors gray,
And choristers in lily array,
And princes, and the genial tiny,
With the wise companioning,
And the mild manhood, by whoso side
Walks daily forth his two years' bride," etc.

On the same principle, Mr. Hunt, in the notes, makes a general recantation of his jokes on the Lake poets. This is " coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb" with a vengeance, and would be pitiable if it were not so very common. The poetical development of individuals, no less than of nations, has a tendency to begin with prophecies and war-songs, and to end with glorified nursery rhvmes in the language of adulation and compliment.

There are two thoroughly modern attributes which Mr. Leigh Hunt's poems possess; viz., obscurity of thought, and want of finish in composition. Whatever excuse may be made for either of these qualities taken separately, they make up a grave blemish when combined. Keats is sometimes quoted as the founder of a system according to which metre and sound ore subordinated to the complete development of an idea. But if the ear is to be offended, the understanding should be propitiated, and the difficulties ofsyntax and prosody should be presented alternately. At all events, triple rhvmes, trochees for iambics, and grammatical liberties, should be introduced onlv where there is a digmu vindiee nodus, and the gush of inspiration may be supposed to have been too strong for the restrictions of form. But no such indulgence can be claimed for passages so tamely slipshod as the following:—

"An aged nurse had Hero in the place,
An under priestess of an humbler race,
Who partly serv'd, partly kept watch and ward
Over the rest, but no good love dcbarr'd.
The temple's faith though serious, never crosi'd
Engagements, missed to their exchequer's cost;
And though this present knot was to remain
Unknown awhile, 'twas blessed within the fane,
And much good thanks expected in the end
From the dear married daughter, and the wealthy

Poor Hero looked for no such thanks. Her

hand, But to be held in his, would have given sea and


In fact, several of the occasional poems are suggestive of that excruciating game called "conglomeration," in which rhymes have not only to be written on a given text, but two subtantives, chosen by a stranger to the subject, must be woven into the texture of the composition. In justice, however, to Mr. Hunt we will quote the sonnet on the Nile, which was avowedly struck off in this extemporary fashion, and is certainly a very good specimen of its class:—

"It flows through old hnsh'd -<5Egypt and its

sands, Like some grave, mighty thought threading

a dream, And times and things, as in that vision,


Keeping along it their eternal stands,—
Can's, pillars, pyramids, the shepherd band
That roamed through the young world, tho

glory extreme

Of high Sesostris, and that southern beam, The laughing queen that caught the world's great hands.

"Then comes a mightier silence, stern and


As of a world left empty of its throng.
And the void weighs on as; and then we


And hear tbe fruitful stream lapsing along 'Twixt villages, and think how wo shall

take Oar own culm journey on for human sake."

One poem in this collection is remarkable, not so much for its artistic merit, as for the moral ends which it is designed to advance, and which arc categorically announced in the prefatory remarks. The long and bloody wars arising out of the French Revolution had excited in sensitive minds a disgust for all warfare which can scarcely be conceived bjr the present generation. Traces of this are to be found m most of our poets during the latter half of George IIL's reign. "Cap

tain Sword and Captain Pen," with its accompanying notes, detailing the actual horrors of battle-fields, is a downright and vigorous attempt to discourage war by a simple revelation of its cruel mysteries. "Is a murder in the streets worth attending to—a single wounded man worth carrying to the hospital—and are all the murders and massacres and fields of wounded, and the madness, the conflagrations, the famines, the miseries of families, and the rickety frames and melancholy bloods of posterity, only fit to have an embroidered handkerchief thrown over them? Must 'ladies and gentlemen' be called off, that they may 'not look that way,' the ' sight is so shocking?' Does it become us to let others endure what we cannot bear even to think of." We are far from ridiculing such language as this; for we believe that some good may be done by speaking the truth during lulls and lucid intervals; but it is of no use ilying in the face of mankind when the fit is on them. Our opinion of human nature is such that we have more faith in the influence of commercial considerations than in direct appeals to humanity. People who might be moved by the calm discussion of " War" in Mr. Helps' essays, shake oft" the impressions produced by " Captain Sword and Captain Pen" as they would shake off the harrowing recollections of the sick-chamber or dissectingroom, and relegate the subject to the hopeless category of necessary evils.

In most of Mr. Hunrs poetry there is a delicacy of sentiment and a freedom from mannerism and straining after effect which redeems many faults. There is room in literature for the pleasing as well as for the acute and profound; and in these days it is a positive relief to read either prose or poetry in which point has not been studied to excess. The aggressive obtrusion of an author's cleverness is sometimes perfectly insulting, and mars that serene and genial temper of mind which the masters of literature love to produce in their readers.

Oub readers may probably remember a charming little book, which appeared about two years ago, called "Letters of a Betrothed." These epistle* purported to be the genuine compositions of a l.i.iy addressed to her future husband during a long engagement, and were professedly published to show that such a correspondence need not necessarily be of such a ridiculous nature as nisi priut revelations would lend us to believe. They also throw some light on the character of the lover—who, from various slight indication;, would seem to have been a stiff,

harsh, priggish kind of mnn, and scarcely worthy of his very pleasant correspondent. Doubt, however, is now thrown on the genuineness of the work by the advertisement of a novel "by the sumo author,"—who turns out to bo Miss Marguerite A. Power,—tho niece, wo conclude, of Lady Blessington. > WTe say that this suggests a doubt, for wo imnginc that, though a lady might possibly publish her love-letters if it were quite certain that her name conlil not be known, yet that she would be scarcely likely to give her friends the power of identifying herns the author of them.—1'he Press.

From The Examiner.

Tlie Cottages of the Alps: or, Life and Manners in Switzerland. By a Lady. In two volumes. Sampson Low, Son, & Co. This is a valuable sketch of the present state of Switzerland by an American lady, •who has already written a good account of Peasant Life in Germany, but cannot make the titles of her two works uniform, because in republican Switzerland there is no peasant class. The work is dedicated to the Princess Dora d'Istria, a liberal student of Swiss liberties, come from the East, who met with sympathy all the impressions of the lady from the West. The social state of Switzerland, in the present time, and the forms of the independence threatened by the late French annexations,— as well as by the possible ideas for which France may hereafter make war,—are very well set forth by the writer of the book. She has blended personal detail with matter of research, treats systematically of each canton in turn, and even adds, in an appendix, a brief outline of Swiss history. It is not every Swiss tourist •who cares, as this lady appears to have cared, mainly about the life of the people, and but incidentally about the mountains. Yet she can describe passages of mountain travel well. Her account of a visit to the Rhone glacier is worthy of a traveller whose whole mind is devoted to the picturesque. Whether she writes of men or glaciers, the lady speaks with refinement. She is never flippant, never obtrusive of herself. In the religious feeling underlying many of her comments, there is a broad, wise charity predominant. For example, while discussing with singular fairness the contrast observed by every traveller between the well-to-do Protestant and the less prosperous Catholic cantons, she remarks the drawback suffered by the Protestants in the removal of much gaycty_ out of their lives by the severity of Calvinist opinion: —

"The well-meant, bnt ill-directed, zeal of the Reformers led them to forbid the danco nnd song and festive mirth, not knowing that, unless they substituted something in their place, they only produced an aching void, which drove the revellers to darker deeds. The human mind cannot live on vacancy, and it must be one of marvellous construction that can support itself on solitude. Statistics prove that excitement does not cause so much insanity as meditation, and not so many cases of madness occur in great cities as in rural solitudes. The first case of suicide among thcso simple Alpino people was known when they were condemned to practise the forms of a new religion without understanding any thing of its spirit. Neither their minds nor hearts had received any cultivation that fitted them for a serious and earnest life. What were they to do, or think about, suddenly conpcmncd to idleness, with no food for thought,

and no idea of even the meaning of meditation?

"Statistics also prove that there are not so many cases of insanity among Catholics generally as among Protestants. One reason may be, that tho assurances which they continually receive of pardon, and their credulity with regard to the efficacy of the means they use for salvation, preserve them from disturbing doubts and fears, and the amusements which they are allowed divert them from speculations which avail nothing even with strong nnd healthy intellects, and must surely destroy weak ones, if they do not utterly distract them.

"We do not give this as an argument in favor of Catholicism, but only as a fact. There is no reason why Protestants should not be as happy as Catholics. Those who arc ignorant, or those who need it for any reason, whether of one faith or another, should be furnished with healthful amusement; and those who nrecontent with intellectual cultivation and resources should endeavor for an hour to conceive what they Would do without them."

The writer is in Friburg and among Gessenay shepherds, when such thoughts are suggested to her. We quote a few Gesscnay customs:—

"Tho law again allowed the peasants of Gcssenay first to dance on week days and nt certain annual festivals, but now there is no restriction —they may dance all the year. It was found they would resort to tho woods and ravines at midnight, nnd the evil consequences became more, and had a more frightful fatality, than when they were permitted to assemble at proper times and in proper places. ...

"They have a curious custom of assembling at little inns called cabarets, after morning service in church at New Year's Eve, every unmarried youth conducting a maiden, whom he has chosen for the occasion. They spend two or three days there together, and when they leave are betrothed. The marriages nrc performed at the Feast of Annunciation, when they go in pairs to church, powdered to correspond with their mountains, and the bridegroom carrying a long sword. If it is a widow who marries, they choose a king, and bear him on their shoulders around tho village, with great noise and shouting, finishing with theatricals, representing various scenes in their history.

"A traveller relates that one day, when climbing the mountains, he met a young girl who had sole charge of tho flocks and herds, no other person being within miles of her. He asked her to pive him a cup of milk. She answered, 'The milk belongs to my mother.' 'But I am very thirsty,' said the wanderer. She looked down a moment in deep thought, and then ran quickly away, and soon returned with a foaming tankard. He offered her money, nnd she said with serious surprise, ' You told mo you were thirsty, and I gave you milk; what would my mother say if I sold her milk ?'"

Of books of travel written by ladies this is, in short, one of the most liberal and sensible.

« PreviousContinue »