No. 1580, February 6th,
(1) The Travels of Prince Legion and other Poems.
By John Le Gay Brereton (Longman & Co.)
—'Prince Legion' is an allegory told something after the manner of Tennyson's 'Day Dream.'
He is a kind of fairy prince, who inhabits that realm of golden dreams in the minds of men, which stretches from the golden age that has been to the golden age that is to be.
In this guise is imaged the kingly soul that comes into the world as one of the workers for that golden
age—commonly called Utopia—full of high thought and grand aspiration, to strive, and suffer, and sorrow, and beat out its strength on the very shore of
Reality—its imagined landing-place,—most likely to fall back at length worn out with effort, not with
use; and whose high throne, when won, is not of this world. There is something fairylike in the telling of the tale and in the gay grace of the music.
In fact, the writer errs in treating his subject too lightly. Else the Poem is pleasantly written, and may be read without weariness by any one wishing to know more of "the Travels of Prince Legion" than is revealed in the following lines, where the Prince meets the bride of his love,
whose life has passed in a pleasant dream of his coming:—
What mystical silence is here?
What stillness of leaf and of flower,
Like the listening quiet of woods and moors
Before the rushing shower?
The air with a gentle motion is stirred:
Dumb with amaze a Lady stands,
Dumb with amaze, and a strange delight.
That Lady, wandering lone, had heard
And followed what seemed the song of a bird,
The marvellous song of a beautiful bird:
The bird she had followed from tree to tree,
And lo, the Prince, that for many a night
Had haunted her dreams, before her stands,
In his own real majesty!
A soft breeze stole thro' the fragrant wood,
And woke the bee in the lily flower,
And lifted the broad leaves of the vine,
And the jasmine wreath at the door of the bower:
The crocus, thro' the moss and the grass,
Broke into a crimson fire,
The grapes overhead blushed a deeper red,
And the rosebuds burst with desire;
And far thro' the sounding wood was heard
The chorus of every singing bird.
—The lesser poems have a vein of quiet thought, and now and then manifest a real lyrical faculty.
Sunlight and starlight come and go,
One sad, sad dream to me;
Spring is quickening under the snow,
All as it used to be!
But the grass may wave,
Or the storm may rave,
In the quiet grave 'tis the same to thee.
—Also, in this little bit of true-love philosophy:—
Little world of great men, great world of small,
Seek ye Life's jewel? the dust is in your e'e:
Name and power and riches, the deil tak 'em all,
Poet's crown or victor's, what are these to me?
I love my Love, and my Love loves me.
—Nor do we catch a Minor Minstrel every week who can sing a song like this, called
'Spirit Voyaging,' which possesses something more than a smooth flow and a sparkling
The soft wind bloweth, the blythe stream floweth
To paradisal airs:
Where are we going? there's no knowing,
And who amongst us cares?
Then row! brothers, row! for merrily, ho!
The wild birds sing and the soft winds blow.
The soul that is wary the land of fairy
Never, never may find;
But the stream grows dark, and the black wood start,
And shrill the icy wind.
Then row! brothers, row! for brighter grow
The woods and the flowery banks as we go.
O, fragrant the showers of leaves and flowers
That greet us passing along!
While under the wave, each starry cave
Sends up its fairy song;
And lo! brothers, lo! more rosily glow
The sky above and the plain below.
(2) The Australian Sacred Lyre.
By James Sinclair (Melbourne.)
We have heard of a Scotsman who was accustomed to say that he was a modest man himself, but though he said it who should not say
it, he never saw the thing he could not do. The author of the 'Australian Lyre'—for sacred lyre it is not, unless the word is wrongly
spelt—furnishes a parallel diffidence. He tells us that this little book
"requires no long flourish of trumpets to usher in the simple and original heart-felt effusions of his brain on the present occasion, further than to state that he particularly recommends them to the most learned professors of every grade in
Australia, and would remind them that, previous to condemning the merits of this little publication,
they should discover and point out something superior, that has emanated from the Colony of Victoria,
or publish something that will eclipse their most humble servant, James
Sinclair."—A modest self assurance! The most original thing in these pages is
the following couplet:—
Oh, the diggings, the golden diggings,
To many have they given wiggings
We think it would puzzle other professors besides those of "every grade in Australia''
to publish anything that could eclipse that; and if the author of 'The Australian Sacred
Lyre' does not deserve a "wigging" also, then we attach different meanings to the word.
1583, February 27th,
(1) Hermione the Beloved, and Miscellaneous Poems.
By J. P. Robson. (Edinburgh, Maclachlan & Stewart.)
TRUE poetry must be produced under a sort of Pythonic
pressure—it may be hydraulic, should there chance to be water on the brain:—pressure of some kind there must be, for this is as necessary for poetry as for Parliament.
Under this mental pressure we get the distilled riches of the poet's thought and the fine essence of his feeling; and these are intensified so that their natural expression in expansion is music.
Where writers of verse cannot bring this power of pressure to bear upon their poetry, and wring out some drops of spirit life, it would be a gain, for which we should feel grateful, if some ingenious descendant of Guttenburg would invent a press which should in some measure supply this required pressure, so that in the absence of that force, while the poetry was being composed, it might still be applied while the poetry was being printed.
By this means we calculate that a book of three or four hundred pages of pretty good verse might sometimes be crushed down and concentrated into three or four pages of good poetry.
We merely throw out the idea, as that will be quite sufficient in this age of machinery.
If, for example, we could put this volume of Hermione the Beloved, and Miscellaneous
Poems (by J. P. Robson) under the proposed process, its 310 pages of
verse—which no one will ever go through—might have yielded a page or two that many could have read.
Certainly the book might then bear even a smaller proportion to the present one than does the tiny foot of a Chinese lady after a similar pressure to that of a Scottish herd lassie, but we should be gainers by the diminution were there ever so little to boot.
We do not deny to Mr. Robson the faculty of expression; but what is the use of expression if you have nothing to say?
It would not be considered any remarkable advantage to have the very heat of appetites if you had nothing to exercise it on.
He has the voice of poetry, but it would be an exceedingly blind critical Isaac from whom it could filch the blessing.
In this case the moment you try to feel for the genuine Esau you find out the truth which neither voice nor vesture can conceal.
(2) Corona, and other Poems.
By E. J. Reed. (Longman & Co.)
—There can be no doubt but that Mr. Tennyson is a great mistake for most of our minor minstrels.
By some means or other,—we imagine it to be the "weird seizure" that he hints at in
The Princess,—he forestalls them in what they were going to say, and in the very way in which they were about to say it.
Such a "weird seizure" would not have been considered canny in times past.
The author of this book must have been considerably annoyed when he had written
Corona to find that Mr. Tennyson had been beforehand with so much of his subject in
The Princess, and written so much that ought to have belonged to him.
The worst of it is, that the Laureate will get all the credit, just because he happened to be first in point of time.
Mr. Reed's muse wears the same robe of purple words, and moves to the same measures as Mr. Tennyson's, but this she does with such a grace, and possesses so real a beauty of her own, that we are sorry to have to make any deductions on the Laureate's account.
If the author will keep in mind that line of Mrs. Browning's—
I am no trumpet, but a reed,
and be content with his own instrument, we shall yet look and listen to many tender pipings.
The following is not the best specimen we might have quoted, but with a touch of alteration here and there, which the reader can make, it is most in
Let low music fill
The palace with delight,
For gentle genial music still
Hath a mystic might,
And o'er the darkened spirit rolls like light
Over dark morning seas:
Let low music rise
About her whom the future forth invites—
About the brilliant beauty where she lies
On the glowing crimson, ill at ease,
Are mixing all their trembling lights
In her deep and tender eyes.
Now she burdeneth all her soul with cares
Drawn from a fancied future; now doth try
The weight of empire that her father bears,
And lift his crown upon her brows, and sigh
For brothers to release her from the throne
When the dying king is gone.
Now she broodeth o'er the thought that brings
Noble pride to royal souls;
See'th the stream of glorious parentage
Where in the stormy past it rolls,
Breaking down from age to age
Through conquerors and kings.
Look into those lovely eyes
Where the wild glories flash and break,
Like wavering sunbeams on a lake
Shook by the breathing skies.
Look into those lovely eyes
Brimming high with hopes and fears,
Brimming high with glimmering tears
O'er queenly destinies.
O blessed tears that rise and quiver
In tremulous light, and flow among
Those fringing lashes dark awl long—
Burst thy bounds, O river!
Burst thy brimming bounds and roll
A sacred torrent from the soul.
O royal lady, it is well
Silently to solemnize
With tears from thine imperial eyes
Thy throne anal state:
For nought within heaven's sphere doth dwell
More truly great—
More strong the suffering world to cheer and bless,
Than hearts where growing power brings growing
(3) The Poems of Francis Hingeston.
Edited by his Son. (Longman & Co.)
—The amiable verses of an amiable man who was an amiable imitator of Master Tommy Moore.
The aptest idea that we can give of them will be to quote the first lines of four different pieces which follow each other.
These are "Oh God! to Thee, to Thee my heart," "Oh! fair and flowery be thy way," "Oh! there was none in that bright throng," and "Oh! lady, when the winter sea."
It will be perceived that these poems are mildly amatory and meekly exclamatory.
The editor's belief that his father was a poet is delightfully filial.
(4) The Violet: Poems.
By Clara Load. (Canterbury, Ashenden.)
—Like the title, the writer's preface is exceedingly modest and very different from the usual helmeted preface which young authors of both sexes are apt to put on by way of showing that they are not going to uncover in the presence of their critics.
The poems also are as modest as their title: we cannot say that they breathe all the sweetness of the violet, unless it be the very early violet, which is often faint in fragrance.
Those who will have it that Gray's Elegy was intended to immortalize Thanington Churchyard, should they not succeed in bearing away the palm from the Stoke Pogisians, may here find an Elegy to their own funereal favourite.
We make no comparisons betwixt the two poems, especially when the writer of one of them is a lady.
(5) The Dream of Freedom, and other Poems.
By James Smart Linwood. (Bulman.)
—Dreamed as vaguely and as vainly as many another vision of liberty that has faded away ungraspably from the eyes of the glorious company of dreamers.
The other poems are not good enough to waken our gratitude, nor bad enough to win from us one unkind word.
No. 1600, June 26th,
(1) The Moslem and the Hindoo: a Poem on the Sepoy Revolt.
By a Graduate of Oxford. (Saunders S, Otley.)
—We earth-eating Feringhees may have taken the Indies for our own "private eating," and, in the course of time, may swallow them, with an occasional sticking in the throat; but that we have not yet digested and assimilated them is proved, we think, by the fact that Indian wars do not come home to the national
heart,—and our Indian heroes have never been fittingly enshrined in English poetry.
From the day when Clive pursued his visioned victory across the river, and with his 3,000 men won it from his 60,000 foes at Plassy, up to the time of Napier's bloody wrestle for triumph at Meanee, where twenty Belloochee shields opposed each bayonet thrust, the deeds of our Indian heroes might have passed away with the shifting of the sand on which they were written red, as far as poetry has been concerned.
In the present stern struggle, which has produced such abundance of the stuff that makes a nation's
"storm-stay-sails," we have seen a valour more noble than any that illumines the histories of Greece or Rome: more noble because it has so often been the high, calm courage that reveals the greater danger in the clearer light, and does not conquer with blind blows.
But where is the poet who shall match it with glorious music and wed it to equal
words? An "Oxford Graduate" has made a feeble attempt to strike the lyre and tell the story of the war; but his recital never reaches poetry.
From beginning to end, he proses on in the poorest of blank verse. Here are a few specimen lines:—
The danger of the
crisis; trifling then
Were fatal; he to reach Umballa sought,
Thence push to Delhi and defeat the foe.
With eastern haste he to Umballa came,
But there delay detain 'd him—there he found
No siege-train ready for th' emergency,
No preparation 'gainst the fatal day.
Delay! how trying to th' impatient mind!!!
Among the first who fell a sacrifice
Were Fraser, Nixon, Douglas. Quickly spread
This tale of terror to the battery.
Without delay, the Fifty-fourth was sent
To check the scene of murder; orderly
Through Cashmere's gate they marched, but at the sight
Of those wild Sowars, gory with the work
Of slaughter, backward from their lines they rush 'd,
And left their officers unarm'd, a prey,
Defenceless and expos'd to murd'rous hands.
Short work they made; the Europeans fell
Slain by that bloody crew. The Fifty-fourth,
No longer fearing the commander's word,
Join'd joyfully the rebel ranks, and rush'd
With them to crime and heartless butchery.
By Edward Charles Mogridge. (London, Judd & Glass.)
—To Mr. Mogridge, and other of our Minor Minstrels, we commend a little allegory, which, as Hazlitt said, cannot be made to go on
all-fours. Old Biddy Wytock was the natural of a Scotch village. When she appeared in public, she was generally mounted astride a stick.
The boys were accustomed to hint that, in spite of the stick, she had not any great advantage over other people that walked.
Her invariable reply was, "she kenned there wur no muckle difference, wur it no for the graunder o' the
thing!" It must be just the graunder of the thing that tempts so many to straddle the stick or mount the stilts of verse when they make a public appearance, instead of their being content with the feet Nature has supplied them with, and quietly walking the path
of prose. Mr. Mogridge might safely, we think, have trusted all he had to say to prose.
If we make any exception, it shall be in favour of the following stanzas, for the charm of their
SHE IS NOT LISTENING NOW.
I held a parley with my tears,
My tears that fell like rain;
I cannot sing in these dull years
The old exulting strain.
What though this sad declining life
Riches and fame endow,
Too late the peace, too long the strife—
She is not listening now!
To thee, my travel-wearied soul
Would ever fly for rest,
And all its dear-bought stores unroll
Thou brightest and thou best.
Treasure above all wealth or lore,
As I shall e'er avow,
Thou hast gone hence for evermore,
Thou art not listening now!
True that for thee I would have died,
Or lived all fear above—
And rudest shocks of life defied,
With an o'ermastering love—
In vain this wild and frantic grief,
In vain each fervent vow;
Slow time, wan age, bring small relief,
She is not listening now!
Ah, bound on earth in dearest links
With the soul's brightest chain,—
A whisper comes, "Thy spirit sinks,
Yet shall it climb again
To richest peace—to union sure"
My blest one—answerest thou?
O world, thy worst I may endure,
For she is listening now!
(3) Lays of the Lost One; and other Poems,
by H. Johnston (Dublin, Madden & Oldham),
—refer to the loss of a little child. What faculty they show is altogether imitative.
From the other poems we select a couple of stanzas, for their pretty peep of a country cottage, and for the praiseworthy certainty of the last
The stream ripples bright by my cottage;
The sunshine is bright on the stream;
And the wee, pebbly stones, in the sunshine,
Like diamonds sparkle and gleam.
There are hazel-trees kissing the water,
And plumes of the fair meadow-sweet;
And down by the hazels sits Jeanie,
And dabbles her little white feet.
The robin peeps in at my door-way;
The linnet looks down from the tree;
And here, pillowed up in his cradle,
Wee Sandy sits smiling at me.
My milk-pail stands bright in the corner,
My tins are all bright on the shelf;
And the white supper-cloth on my table
Is clean, for I washed it myself.
(4) Oberon's Empire
(Saunders & Otley)
—is emphatically a gone thing. The Author of this book —"nameless here for
evermore"—is not in possession of the magic wand that was waved in a certain
'Midsummer Night's Dream,'—that lies with the great enchanter by Avon stream.
We have never met with any one who has seen the fairies,—and the author of this book is no exception.
No. 1603, July 17th,
(1.) Sketches: being Poems.
By Jos. (Saunders & Otley.)
—These poems consist of dramas, narratives, odes, sonnets and little fugitive pieces composite in their disorder. Jos, who appears to have been long in the habit of writing verse, displays a crude facility in stringing rhymes together, upon commonplace soliloquies and descriptions; but he has been tempted to print, with his more elaborate pieces, a variety of impromptus hopeless in their imbecility, as those beginning "Ah, bright were her eyes," and "On being asked for impromptu rhymes to bridegroom, and beseech."
In "The Spirit of Love" and "My Pilgrimages" occur some fragments deriving Merit from the intensity of the feeling at work upon them, and the writer's pride in the splendours and graces of the rational world.
The volume, however, is one that appeals exclusively to the admiration of any friends who may be willing to vote a crown to the poet of their parlour circle.
(2) Youthful Echoes, Cheerfulness, and other Poems.
By A. S. W. (Wertheim & Co.)
—have been "composed for the most part either during the days of boyhood, or amid the never-ending turmoil and confusion of a commercial life" in London.
The principal poem in the volume, Cheerfulness, is graceful, and imbued with a thoroughly healthy social and human sentiment.
From that argument A. S. W, after flattering the violets of the garden "by their pure purple mantles known," as thousands of lyrists have done, and celebrating various periods and scenes of youth, rises Tyrtæan altitudes and sings of the
Alma, Wellington, Raglan, Britain's Cause, Inkermann (in a charade), and the return of the British Army after the Russian War.
The volume is creditable to its author, and seems to promise that he will, in time, mellow into a pleasant minstrel of the minor order.
(3.) Birds, Bees and Blossoms. Original Poems for Children.
By Thomas Miller. Illustrated by Birket Foster.
(J. & C. Brown.)
--Little versified lessons in natural history, rhymed gossip on birds and insects, simple melodies in praise of red and golden flowers.
They are pretty and without pretence, and serve fittingly to illustrate the illustrations by Mr Birket Foster, which to the "young-eyed cherubim" of the earth will be very attractive.
(4.) Pottery Poems.
By William Cyples. (Hanley, Roberts.)
—The author of these poems has published them "in redemption of an understanding with friends that he should one day write a book."
A cynical critic might feel inclined to reply, that they might have been written without an understanding.
But they could not have been written without some fancy. Indeed, fancies dance down these pages uncountable, untameable, and purposeless as a swarm of flies.
According to this writer, it is the business of men and women to leave all the realities of life to hunt fancies, or lie down on the green earth and watch their fly-like dance on the blue ceiling above.
Sometimes the fancies are original, although not admirable. The following, however, may have been borrowed from the Miltonic line:—
A thousand liveried Angels lacquey her.—
Soon morning came, and her gay footman, Dawn,
Clomb with swift hand the trellised east afar
To loop the drapery of sable lawn,
Whose every fold, pinned with a silver star,
Curtained the sky around its cloudy bar.
And, as he took the ornaments away,
He set the golden windows all ajar,
Till the wild light made all things live and gay—
Night had said all her prayers, and now up came the day.
—This might have been called Upholstery Poetry. In an address to the sea our author reverses the relationship of land and sea, as illustrated by the well-known image where "He decorates her tawny brow with shells." (That poor sea, how it has had
to shell out of late in the way of images!) Our author will have it that the sea is the lady of the land and not the bridegroom.
He calls the earth—
A giant vast, and though thou mak'st him fine,
With strings of shells, yet all the talk is thine.
Which suggestion determines the sex irrevocably. Here is a better specimen of this writer's
This world, I wot, is but an ancient sun,
Whose outer fires are faded, spent and cold,
Condemned, it may be, for some misdeeds done,
To be in vapoury atmosphere enrolled;
But still concealed it keeps a heart of gold,
And shines a sun within the inner sphere,
Burning in glory like its beams of old;
Though now it hides its torch, as if in fear,
Or else the white-faced moon had dared not roll so near.
And, here and there, about the earth, are doors,
Which lead to galleries running down below;
And could your feet but trend the golden floors,
You might behold the hidden, secret show,
And see how masked among the stars we go.
(5.) The Spirit of Home.
By Sylvan. (Saunders & Otley)
—consists of a large number of helplessly commonplace verses, on all sorts of subjects, ranging from 'Revolution' to 'Poor Pat,' from 'Taxes' to 'Woking Cemetery,' and like many another poor fellow, the author gets to the
'Workhouse' at last. We do not exactly see the connexion betwixt the title and the book, although the verses are certainly homely enough, as this quotation will show:—
THE QUARTERN LOAF.
Oh! for that same, gold-tinted, lusty one,
Such as my dear old Granny used to make!
Sweet as a nut throughout both crust and crumb,
And Briton like in feature and in shape,
As mellow as good butter or rich cake;
But oh! ye modern Millers, or ye Bakers!
Had I my will, full oft around your nape,
As a reward for your dishonest capers—
I'd a good halter twine, and spare your Undertakers!
Alum and beans! and bones!! and plaster stories!!!
And any other SHAM that will like flour appear;
God help the poor ones! and protect their homes!
What wonder that so many look so queer?
First, there's their bread, butter, tea, coffee, beer,—
And every other good their God hath sent
To sweeten toil, and their lone spirits cheer,
And make their hearts with GOVERNMENT content,
Is mix'd, and mess'd, and drugg'd, ah! more than cent.
No. 1647, May 21st,
(1.) Poems from Cape Town.
By George Longmore.
—Under this title we class together various poems which appear to have been published some years ago.
They are for the most part Byronic and Tom Mooreish, and do not prepossess us with their faded smartness.
They have gone the way of all imitations and simulations; we cannot if we would recall them from the great silent world of Oblivion, and we should not if we could.
(2.) A Midsummer Day's Dream, and other Poems.
By W. Avon. (Harrison.)
—The author of these informs us on his first page, that
In this season I am much addicted
To golden visions, such as Spenser brought
From Faëry-land, and in sweet verse has wrought;
So, from the gorgeous scenes which he depicted
Have I, perchance, like inspiration caught.
We were afraid that the news was too good to be true, and so we found on searching subsequent pages.
Whatever the author may be "addicted to," he may rest assured that he has nothing akin to Spenser, except the same number of lines in his stanza.
(3.) Musings on Guard.
By Frank Felix. (Hatchard.)
—These are the Musings of a Captain, who tells us that they have afforded him cheerful occupation at times during a lengthened service, and we hope they may have been to him their own reward.
The verses are neither better nor worse than the average of our Minor Minstrelsy, pleasant as private exercises, without being up to the mark for parade in print: the writers of such require to be on their guard against the temptation to publish.
(4.) Nothing to Do.
(Dublin, Hodges & Co.)
—The writer has considerable facility in verse and probably some faculty for poetry.
In his present effort these are frivolously frittered away. He had better get something to do, and earnestly set about doing it.
1652, July 25th, 1859.
By Joseph Truman. (Longman & Co.)
—The sternest critic must in minor matters have a variable standard. We cannot level the long and short of all the verse that comes before us on the same Procrustean bed. Here is a small volume, which, if ,judged leniently, may be said to have some poetry in it. Yet it is poetry in the Jupiter condition, and requires heating and condensing and welding. The thoughts lack the breath of life, the words do not burn, the touch does not thrill; still we think there is poetry. What does the reader think of
THE WEE BIT BIRDIE?
There was a little maiden
Walked at her father's side,
All through the daisied meadows,
In the cool of eventide.
He called her his wee bit birdie,
For, as they went along,
To him her chatter sounded
More sweet than any song.
And the blinking stars, and the stillness,
And the amber-swimming West,
Filled with wonder and feeling
The wee bit birdie's breast.
And she prattled a hundred fancies,
Child-like, quaint, and fair—
She longed to be the thistle-down,
And sail the evening air;
And watch, from the midway ether,
The deep-green earth grow dim;
Then follow the sinking Sun, to break
In some brightening Last with him.
Or, in an ancient forest
To live as a Fairie Queen,
And be served by a myriad sportive sprites
In silver suit and sheen;
And the never-fading flowers to wear
That grow by the Fairie wells,
And over the Fairie lakes to glide,
To the chiming of unseen bells;
And to speak, and a palace fine should stand
Where the wood-grass whistled wild,
Porphyry arches, and carven pearl,
Over crystal pillars piled.
Once again he walked the meadows,
In the gloaming's golden grey,
But not the wee bit birdie came
That daisy-whitened way.
For we suffer a will we do not ken,
And the kind mysterious Powers
Had changed those child-like dreams to fact,
In a higher sense than ours.
And her pulsing stream of soul had run
To its main-like home afar,
Beyond the light of the farthest Sun
And highest-hanging star.
And purer blooms the wee bird wore
Than in Fairie world ever blew,
And a brighter than Fairie Crown she bore,
And a sweeter life she knew.
(2.) Self: a Satire.
By the Rev. Edward Morse. (Hope.)
—Many good people mean well enough, but have a most unfortunate way of showing it.
The author of this Satire in five cantos appears to be one of them. The object is good, being that of drawing attention to the condition of the under-paid working Clergy: the subject has in it both pathos and satire, if treated effectively.
But Mr. Morse gives us far too much of the wrong quality; and the verse is encumbered with the old stock-in-trade called classical, that we look in vain for a single touch of nature.
(3.) Raven Hill; or, the Danish Fort.
By Richard Vasey. (Simpkin & Co.)
—A tale of the Northmen, which, by what it does not tell, serves to remind us of the great deeds of the ruddy, fair-haired follows who put so much of the salt sparkle and fire element into our British blood.
Surely there is rare inspiration lurking in the old Norse life and literature, which shall yet produce brave ballads for us.
The times also seem to be tiding us back to the great grim energy of the fearless sea-rangers.
A sturdy expression of the Norse feeling would do us good. It must not die out of the English heart while there is every appearance of its having so much work yet to do.
May we not here ask Mr. Laing whether he cannot give the people a cheap edition of his admirable translation of the '
Heimskringla; or, Chronicles of the Sea-Kings'?- a work that ought to be taken in hand and to heart at the present time.
(4.) The Twelve Foundations.
By the Rev. H. C. Adams.
—There is not much to be said for this work. Is it not a mistake in more ways than one to make the twelve Apostles the twelve foundations?
The verse is smooth—a far off feeble echo of Keble. It has no milk for babes nor marrow for manhood; but we should imagine that here and there a cozy Christian might find them pleasant after a good dinner, on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
No. 1744, March 30th,
Songs of Labour and Domestic Life.
By Alexander Smart. (Edinburgh, Nimmo.)
—The best of this book is its frank and cheering spirit; the worst of it is
the thought that the poor fellow who wrote it is now in an asylum for
No. 1748, April 27th,
Enoch: a Poem, in Three Books.
By Robert Stafford, M.A. (Longman & Co.)
—A very gentle spirit of humanity and mild flavour of poetry pervade this thin
book—the one too gentle to call forth an unkind word; the other too
faint to reach the brain of man or the heart of woman beyond the
writer's own circle of admirers.
No. 1759, July 13th, 1861.
(1) Sibyl and other poems
by John Lyttleton (Smith, Elder & Co.)
—There is something of the power and picturesqueness of true poetry in 'Sibyl,' a wild story of love and hatred told in soldierly blank verse, and with a bitter, biting brevity of expression. The writer can describe, as some lines written at mid-day in the hot weather of Burmah will
Scarcely a foot-breadth lay the line of shade
Before my tent at noon: the tent-ropes only
Threw their thin dusky lines upon the ground.
It seemed as it the earth had died: the wind
Breathed not upon the hot death of the ground:
I had not wondered it huge cracks had opened,
And flames burst forth to burn the useless body.
One thing only
Played as in mockery o'er the ghastly scene
(As along trail of ants upon a grave).
The sunlight showered a noiseless golden rain
From where I sat, right over the broad river;
Fiercely it seemed to fall, that muffled hail
Of molten gold-dust, as the dread largesse
Of day's strong tyrant king.
—Here is a short, sharp "War-cry," sword-like to the point:—
Work we want—not words;
Arms that will not tire;
Men who will out and hew the wood,
Ere they warm themselves at the fire.
Children to feed, and fathers to slay for them!
This is our life, and we must not shirk,
Men to fight, and women to pray for them!
Unclasp their necks then: women! make way for them!
Let them do their appointed work!
And yours (Oh, weep not, but be ye proud,
Mothers and wives of God-made men!)
Is to deck the cradle, and weave the shroud.
Yet let not your weeping be long or loud,
But pray unto God that ye be allowed
To welcome them back again!
—Our last quotation from this little book is a song strictly irregular in measure and philosophy, but characteristic and piquant:
Love sets one thinking—
Thinking sets one drinking—
Well it may!
Drinking brings on headache,
Sad to say!
Sadder still that dead ache,
Where our lost heart lay.
For the one is gone to-morrow,
But love leaves doubt and sorrow
Many a day.
Hence I find 'tis wiser
Deep to drink;
Than, like fool or miser,
Deep to think.
But if you'd be clever
Other wights above,
Take my counsel, never
Know what 'tis to love:
For the drinking may pass off merrily,
And the thinking you may not rue.
But love, alas! necessarily
Entails the other two.
(2) Prometheus' Daughter, a poem
by Col. James Abbott (Smith, Elder & Co.)
—Here is another proof that the gallantry of British soldiers is equal to any need. Men who would lead a forlorn hope at St. Sebastian,—face death darkly at Inkermann,—stem the stern sunburnt Swordsman with Napier at Meeanee,—charge the guns at Balaclava, or gallop through the death-gaps with Hodson and Havelock, might, have quailed before writing these 878 pages of verse on such a subject. As a matter of course, with such abounding bravery, some of it is pretty sure to be wasted, and we are not able to chronicle a success commensurate with the daring. Still we are compelled to speak with all respect of Colonel Abbott's poem for its sustained purpose and fine stately verse. It is often classic in manner and felicitous in fancy. Take this, personification of Nature as a specimen, though selected at random:
Nature hath risen from her trance, and Joy,
Still marks her rising; is her first employ.
Nature awakes in loveliness confessed,
As late she sank in loveliness to rest.
The languor soft enshrouding her repose
Like elfin robes fell from her as she rose,
Radiant in life and smiles, and every vein
Rend'ring the heart its full throb back again:
As the pure tide recruited by her rest
Runs its glad round and sparkles thro' her breast
In all her smiles, her freshness, and the might
Of heaven-born beauty, as she meets the sight
Of Man, she calls him with her gentle voice,
Diffused thro' earth, sir, ocean, to rejoice!
For him, her smile doth beam, her song doth rise
For him—Love's lustrous beacon, her pure eyes
Are lighted up to lure him with their ray
To peace that blooms where her sweet footsteps stray,
So broke the morn: so Nature wooed to bless,
And vainly tempted Man to happiness.
1781, December 14th, 1861
Bay and other Poems.
By J. Gordon. (Hall & Co.)
were written, one half in Scotland and the other half in Australia. We can only
say, that the first were not worth carrying across the Pacific, and the latter
were not worth bringing back.
No. 1794, March 15th, 1862
(1) Nemesis: a Poem, in Four Cantos.
By John Bruce Norton (Richardson.)
.... is one of those long and respectable poems which seem so easy to write, but are so hard to read. There is no apparent reason why they should ever come to an end, and we see no reason why they should have had a beginning.
(2) Avalanche, &c.,
By Andrew M'Ewen (Clarke.)
We hope to see something better from its author when he is able to do himself more justice. We hope also that he may get a printer who will make his verses more readable. The present volume is in various types, and one piece is printed twice.
(3) Poems and Sketches.
By the Rev. Alex. Wallace (Hamilton & Co.)
....are hopeless enough in a literary point of view, but Charity is good-natured enough to lend its golden smile to very leaden things.
Here is a most felicitous chance for it! The book is intended as a contribution to a fund which is being raised for the purpose of building a new church, hall and class-room, at the east end of Glasgow, where these are much needed.
If any benevolent reader will convert this paper into gold, that will furnish a surer foundation to build upon than the reverend author of the book has wrought.