Page images

Two rows of ancient cottages,

Beside the public way, A modest church with ivied tower,

And spire with mosses grey,

Why can't a painter lift each foot in turn,
Make his flesh liker, and his soul more like,
Both in their order? Take the prettiest face,
The Prior's niece - is it so pretty
You can't discover if it means hope, fear,
Sorrow or joy? won't beauty go with these ?
Suppose I've made her eyes all right and blue,
Can't I take breath, and try to add life's flash,
And then add soul, and heighten them three.

fold Or say there's beauty with no soul at all-(I never saw it-put the case the same) If you get simple beauty and nought else, You get about the best thing God invents; That's somewhat-and you'll find the soul

you have missed Within yourself when you return him thanks.

Beneath the elms' o'erarching boughs

The little children ran;
The selfsame shadows flecked the sward

In days of good Queen Anne-
And then, as now, the children sang

Beneath its branches tall;
They grew, they loved, they sinned, they

The tree outlived them all.

The picture of Lilian, too, is wrought in a few touches that paint to the life

The quiet ripple of her smile

Revealed the peaceful mind; The mellow moonlight of her eyes

Her sympathies refin'd, And when she spoke, the audible charm

Was beauty for the blind.

We are always pleased to see a book of Mr. Mackay's, and we were not disappointed when we had read The Lump of Gold,"* his latest work.

The story is simple. Aubrey loves Parson Vale's daughter, but desirous of money to redeem his ancestral property, goes to Australia, making a close friendship on the voyage. At the diggings he finds an enormous lump of gold which he cautiously conceals, for it is too heavy to remove. In one of his stealthy visits, his friend suddenly appears and claims half, and in his wrath he smites him seemingly dead with his hammer. He fiies home, leaving the gold, and goes to his native village, crushed with remorse. He falls sick unto death, and is attended by Parson Vale, to whom he relates his story, and who relieves his mind by telling him that Heseltine his friend is still alive. Of course a bridal follows, and Heseltine with most marvellous Christianity goes to Australia, and bringing back the lump of gold which he had cunningly concealed, gives half to Aubrey, and keeps the rest, paying all expenses, for himself. The treatment of this tale is distinguished by the healthfulness and manly vigour of thought which have made Mr. Mackay's poems such favorites among the middle classes of England. The description of the village and of Parson Vale's family is in his best style. Embowered amid the sunny hills,

The quiet village lay;

We would we had room to quote the description of the sudden silence during the parson's sermon, and how the sounds of nature from outside floated in through the door of the ivied country church; but if we gave all of these vivid, manly descriptions, we should be obliged to quote too much. The gardener's song has been praised by every one. The voyage and the description of the icebergs are too like portions of the Ancient Mariner, but the echo of the bells among the floating spires of the ice


Rose tinted_amber-opal blue,

Alight with living gold,

is strangely beautiful. We analysed and felt the truth of Mr. Mackay's delineation of the covetousness which pervaded all the gold-seekers, and the sympathetic effect it produced on Aubrey's mind, with great pleasure, arising not so much from the subject, as from its truth to natural feeling. Our readers can understand how Mr. Mackay has treated his subject if they read the book, and we promise they will not regret the time which they will spend in its perusal.

The rest of the poems are not so good ; most of them are but mediocre

* The Lump of Gold, by Charles Mackay. London : G. Routledge & Co., Farringdon-st. 1856.

in poetic spirit, and weak in their handling, and seem to have been written while travelling, and of course, in a hurry. One called “ Fallow” is remarkably good ; and the poem “ To one who was afraid to speak his mind on a great question,” is both well sustained with imagina tion, and full of a manly, true, honest, English spirit. We like in these poems the brave feeling of brotherhood, which stands free of mere civil distinctions, and displays man as he stands before God, who has made of one blood all nations that dwell on the face of the earth.” This is what we want in these days. If we all felt and acted on the belief of this great bond, the difficulty we find in approaching the poor would, at least, diminish. Fawning and servility would be no more. Heart would stand close by heart, and hand would grasp hand freely, beneath God's unity of sky.

We thank God the higher classes are beginning to feel this, and though there may be much vanity mixed up with all this lecturing and instructing of the poorer classes by noblemen and others, yet still it is the right thing to do. The poor would not ever be striving to assert that they are men, if they knew that they were looked on as men. The distinctions which God has made would be recognised by all, and there would be no struggle to assert a principle which was universally acknowledged. This may be all very Utopian, but it is the true and right thing to do, and it should be done. We rejoice when we read fine, free, manly poetry like this :

With this quotation-a quotation which gives us the same thrill as Wordsworth's telling sonnet “ To the Men of Kent”—we take our leave of Mr. Mackay, and pass on to a book wonderfully different in style and thinking, “The Poetical Works of Thomas Aird."* Mr. Aird has given us many a pleasant hour. Those who have perused the warm eulogium of Wilson, and known how the sympathies of Chalmers were enlisted on his behalf, must havefelt, as they read Mr. Aird's poems, that the criticisms of these great men were more than justified. Every idea which strikes him he fully embodies, and does not leave it till it has been made smooth and round as a billiard ball. The grotesqueness which we sometimes observe in Mr. Aird's painting of the terrible becomes a racy humour, which occasionally verges on what is low and undignified when his subject is pastoral. The closest observation of nature is combined with a rare power of expression which descends to the most minute details. “The Summer Day" and “The Winter Day," though so long, are not wearisome, owing to the vigor Mr. Aird imparts to his descriptions by mingling scenes of pastoral and travelling life with them, and so giving a human interest to the landscape. They remind us of the Georgics of Virgil, and The Seasons. A short quotation from the Summer Day will give our readers an idea of Mr. Aird's peculiar power :We love the umbrageous elm_its well

crimped leaf, Serrated, fresh, and rough as a cow's tongue, So healthy, natural, and cooling, far Beyond the famous bay, glazed, glittering,

hard, As liquored o'er with some metallic wash. Thus pleased, laid back, up through the

elm we look. What life the little Creeper of the Tree To leafdom lend! See how the antic bird, Her bosom to the bark, goes round away Behind the trunk, but quaintly reappears Through a rough cleft abore, with busy bill Picking her lunch ; and now among the leaves Our birdie goes, bright glimmering in the green And yellow light that fills the tender tree."

And this from “Frank Sylvan," to show Mr. Aird's peculiar humour.

Stand up, man, stand !

God's over all,
Why do you cringe to me,
Why do you bend the knee,
And creep and fawn and crawl ?

Stand up, man, stand !
If I thought our English land
Had no true-hearted poor,
To suffer--and endure-
And hold themselves erect,
In the light of their own respect

I'd blush that I was English-born,
And run away to the wilderness, to free my.

self from scorn,

• The Poetical Works of Thomas Aird. William Edinburgh. 1856.

Blackwood and Sons, London and

But lo the old mill-down to it hies our imp, of nature's last necessities, even this
Following the dam. The outer wheel still Has been my joy of life.

Though sleeked with gleety green, and can. Again-

died o'er With ice, is doing duty. In he goes

Everything's hollow-false-a lie. The By the wide two-leaved door ; all round he over-blown bubblo must burst-hence revolooks

lution, which is just the crack of an exploThroughout the dusty atmosphere, but sees ded lie. No miller there. The mealy cobwebs shake Along the wall, a squeaking rat comes out, We must lacker our fronts with daring, And sits and looks at him with steadfast eye. and hold out. He hears the grinding's smothered sound, a sound

Mr. Aird has evidently adopted Lonelier than silence: memory summons up Shakespeare as his model, and copies The Thirlstane Pedlar' murdered in a mill

almost too openly from him. When And buried there. The Meal-cap miller,' too, In God's revenge on Murther,' bloody famed,

Lord Wold says to his betrothed Comes o'er his spirit. Add to this the fear Of human seizure, for he meditates

Excellent creature, A boyish multure : stepping stealthily

How I do love thee. On tiptoe, looking round he ventures on ; Thrusts both his hands into the oatmeal it is impossible not to recognize heap,

Othello's Warm from the millstones; and in double

Excellent wretch, dread

Perdition seize my soul- but I do love thee. or living millers and of murdered pedlars, Flies with his booty, licking all the way. The Fate, impersonated in Afra,

which deepens over each act like a This would delight the heart of a thundercloud, binds the scattered benevolent miller, from the truth of action into something like dramatic description, and the happy theft of unity, and is some excuse for the the flying “imp," while his sense of number and the rapidity of the misretribution would be satisfied by the fortunes which culminate in the death terrors which conscience heaped on of Wold. The main design is too the small robber.

complicated, and deaths of almost Mr. Aird seems to delight in the every kind occur during the prohorrible, and we have observed that gress of the action, till, at the end he suddenly contrasts with it some of the play, the chief idea remainsofter image, making the idea like ing with the reader is that the whole the snaky horrors of Medusa's hair, district is depopulated. more terrible for the loveliness of the Mr. Aird's poems would require face. It is this which gives to a poem much more space and attention than called “The Prophecy," its strange we can give them. It is a matter of clinging power. “The Devil's Dream regret to us that we cannot, owing to on Mount Aksbeck," “ Othuriel,” the limits of our space, enter more “ Nebuchadnezzar," and others have fully into their great merits, and their been so well and fully treated of by small demerits, but these, as we said Mr. Gilfillan, that it would be super- above, have been recognized not only fluous for us to speak of them here by journals, but by established perifurther than according to them ourodicals. praise.

We cannot conclude our too short The tragic poem of Wold possesses notice of Mr. Aird's Poems better than all Mr. Aird's peculiarities. His by quoting two of his most beautiful power of chrystallizing thought is lines at the end of the Summer Day. somewhat like Shakespeare.

Day melts into the west, another fake Years, long years

Of sweet blue time, into the eternal past. To dwell with sifted winds in whistling caves, To live upon the naked haggard edge

“Poems by Rose and De Rupe"*

* Poems by Rose and De Rupe. —London: Longman. Dublin : M‘Glashan and Gill. 1856.

are prefaced by some few lines from an excitable people. Chains and Rose, which beg the charity of the blood, Saxon slavery and pikes, critics. We are sorry to say that the revenge and flame, have ceased to prayer is not an unnecessary one prove digestible. The poems which The chief fault of these poems by the Nation press poured into the ear Rose is an utter want of rhythm ; of Ireland were partially to be excua fault which common attention could sed by the time. Many of them are have remedied, and which shews truly beautiful ; many of them are either contempt for the public judg- true to fact; many of them are gross ment, positive carelessness, or igno- ly exaggerated. The long fever of rance of the established laws of metre. mistaken patriotism has, we hope, We open the book at random for a past its crisis. The delicate delirium few instances, for in almost every which produced Moore's song to Empoem there is some glaring violation met passed into the wild and unproof harmony :

ductive frenzy which inspired many In his halls the dark stranger stands,

of the Nation lyrics. In these the And proudly rules thy rightful lands.

heart of Ireland found expression. Thy country, shame once brave and free,

They will be useful for the first time, To the Saxon bends the slavish knee ; if they free us from them for ever, as, Her altars defiled, faith a scorn,

magna componere parvis, the fires of Better for thee thou ne'er wert born. a voloano deliver us from the threat

ened earthquake. We have, we hope, The first line is unrhythmical enough, entered on the first stage of convalesbut the fifth, what shall we say of cence. We are a patriot ourselves. it? Is it prose or poetry, or Rhythm The heart of Ireland is responsive to or Reason? We fear it is nothing our own. Over her ancient glories but words. The fourth line, which is and her undoubted wrongs, we have too long, is even more inexcusable. smiled with pride, and frowned with To quote more of these mistakes would indignation. Gross has been the but irritate the reader. Rhythm is misunderstanding, ignorant has been as necessary to poetry as oil is to an the rule of England; but she has seen axle. The thoughts may support an and owned her error, and are we to unrhythmical poem, as an ungreased remember for ever? It is a wise and axle does a waggon; but the noise Christian maxim to forget what has they both make is execrable. The been done, and to pursue what is yet idea to be expressed is full, rounded, to do. We would know the use of all and harmonious in the poet's own this noise. mind; and, however imperfectly understood, is the same in the reader's υμάς έρωτώ, θρέμματ' ουκ ανασχετα, also, if it is to be understood at all. taúrt épiota kal model dwrhpia, We are irritated, therefore, by the αύειν, λακάζειν, σωφρόνων μισήματα; inequality which objects itself to us, τα των θύραθεν δ' ώς άριστ’ οφέλλετε, between the imperfect expression in

αυτοι δ' υφ' αυτών ένδοθεν πoρθούμεθα. words and sounds which appeal to the senses, and the perfect roundness of

Our patience and admiration have the idea in our own minds. It is as at last been exhausted by these contiif the nerves of our mind were jarred. nual recollections of past glory, always as a delicate ear is by a discord in

in connection with vanished wrongs ; music. We are sorry that Rose, who

and by the lofty moral lesson which possesses poetical talent, which would is drawn from them, as exhibited in give her productions some value in the following lines from Rose, which the critical would should thus out will give the reader an idea of her balance her merit by a fault so easily poetry and her patriotism : avoided. We regret to say that Rose has indulged in those pseudo-patriotic

Sons of Erin, in days of yore,

When the Danish spoilers came, poems in which the English, under

You drove him from your lorely shore the generic name of the Saxon, are

With sword, and pike, and flatne. denounced. It is time now, when international relations have become so

The serpent stranger, deep in wile, universally friendly, that this poetic

Now taketh and graspeth all ; olla podrida should cease to be served Yet taunts from her venomous lips up for the intellectual consumption of On your cars unheeded fall.

Go! meet your wrongs as brave men should,

Not with tear and prayer and sigh, But resolute will and stern resolve

To avenge them or to die.

Rouse thee; the God of heaven will bless

The sword of the patriot brave. A deadly curse must ever rest,

On the low and grovelling slave,

Is this true or not? Are we such slaves, and so oppressed? If so, let us establish a guerilla warfare ; it is but just we should be free; if it is not true, let us cease for ever crying war, war, when there is no war.

Our present Irish poets have well stood apart from this style, so ensnaring from its popularity, and so enticing to the warm and undigested feel ings of young men. These “confusions of a wasted youth” are not to be found in the writings of such men as Starkey, Waller, and Irwin. We are slowly attaining to an international relation with England based on mutual forbearance and mutual honor. We regret, too, that a woman should have treated such subjects in such a manner. We cannot believe she thought of consequences; yet, truly, if all Irish rebellion is to eventuate in a bloodless cabbage-garden, she must have felt that she was urging her countrymen into a hopeless absurdity.

our grief, wants the voiceless beauty of Niobe, whose sorrow is felt not heard. There is no object gained by sitting idly, like a lazy hound, and “baying the moon.” We are like Alciphron on the mystic ladder. The past drops in a fathomless abyss. We cannot change it, but the future still remains, and we can use the sad experience of the past as we use a pair of spurs-wear it at our heels, to make our life more active. We are glad we can praise Mr. De Rupe for the poetry with which he has chosen to illustrate his grief. There are many graceful and beautiful poems which would not discredit the pen or the tenderness of Mrs. Hemans ; indeed they possess her very faults-a want of unity and condensation. It is impossible to read some of these poems without becoming sphered with the writer, and subdued into the mournful tenderness which breathes through them, as the low airs of evening through a sunken copse. His ballad of “Simple Mary” is pretty, and expressed with truth and tenderness :

Ridiculum acri Fortius et melius magnas plerumque secat res.

Simple Mary of the vale

Has taken her snow white pail, To bring water, swcet and cool, froin the

[woodside spring, Where the silver bubbles rise,

And the wild wind comes and flies, Lifting up the shadows as the green boughs

[swing. As she crossed the tufted heath,

It scarcely bent beneath The pressure of her springing feet, all wet

[and bare; A summer shower passed on,

And its drops like diamonds shone Upon the falling curls of her golden hair. U.

Monsieur De Rupe, whose poems fill up the rest of this book, is a poet whose chief excellence lies in a fault. His poems are mostly devoted to the expression of past sorrow, and some of them are sung with much sweet. ness. They are rhythmically worded, and do not want in streaks of imagination, but they remind us of a weeping willow whose branches are graceful but ever tend earthwards. He has missed the meaning of true sorrow, which teaches us to rise through endurance to a calmer and a stronger reality. Sorrow ought to end in the experience of the following lines :

It proceeds to tell how Simple Mary met her lover, who deceived her, and departed; yet the whole pathos and beauty of the ballad are slightly injured by inaccuracy in metrical arrangement. In a poem entitled “Night," we have the excellence of Mr. De Rupe's description, and the crude and wandering wildness into which he precipitates his muse, whenever there is any thinking to be eliminated. This is a beautiful image :

No longer caring to embalm

In dying songs a dead regret;

But, like a statue, solid set, And moulded in colossal calm.

This Byronic style, which trumpets forth to the world the inner life of

And floating slowly through the shadowy air, The night-hours coine, the trembling stars

to meet,

« PreviousContinue »