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“Marmion;" and again, like “The Lady of the Lake,” gracefully rowing along in octosyllabic time. Fifty romances, at least, have been published in this vein, of which five will not soon be forgotten. From one of these (the least irregular of Sir Walter's Border Epics), as an example of tragic power in which he has outgone himself, I extract the “ Death of Roderic Dhu,” the sternest of all his champions. Roderic, wounded and captive, is imprisoned in a hideous “ donjon keep.” A minstrel is introduced to him by mistake, who, being locked in with the chieftain Gael, sings, at his request, “The Battle of Beale and Duine.” Roderic is thus represented :
“ As the tall ship, whose lofty prore
Shall never stem the billows more,
And oft his fever'd limbs he threw
After some discourse with his companions,
And fever's fire was in his eye;
Chequer'd his swarthy brow and cheeks.” The Minstrel begins his Lay; and after having sung long and furiously, the strain abruptly ends :
“ The harp escaped the Minstrel's hand !
Oft had he stolen a glance, to spy
first the chieftain, to his chime,
Here is a worthy companion-piece to the “Death of Marmion," so much celebrated. To me, the silence, the deafness, the terrible tranquillity of dissolution in the Highland Chief, are more awful and impressive than the delirious ecstasy, and the expiring shout, of the English hero:
“Charge, Chester! charge ! - on, Stanley, on!'
Were the last words of Marmion."
“ - motionless, and moanless, drew
His parting breath, stout Roderic Dhu.”
Poetry for the Young.
I shall particularise only one species more of this versatile art, little used in former times, but which
has been carried to extraordinary perfection in our own. The authors of those small volumes—“Original Poems,” Rhymes for the Nursery,” and “ Hymns for Infant Minds," - have indeed deserved well of their country, and long will their humble but admirable productions continue to bless its successive generations. Though even in these, they showed themselves qualified to indite for persons of larger growth, and entitled to claim high poetic honours, yet the fair and modest writers,- for they were of the better sex, - condescended to gather flowers at the foot of Parnassus to wreathe the brows of infancy, instead of climbing towards the summit to grasp at laurels for their own.
I say, they condescended to do this, because it is hard for the pride of intellect to forego any advantage which might set off itself before the public. To most poets, it would have been no small annoyance to be confined to the nursery and playground, and sing to please little children, when they might command the attention of men ;—for children, however they may be delighted with the song, pay no tribute of applause to the minstrel ; but when they are charmed with a beautiful idea in a book, feel and express the same simple and unmixed pleasure as when they gaze upon a peacock, or listen to the cuckoo. It never enters into their unsophisticated minds to attach merit to the bestowers of such blessings. The sense and the desire of enjoyment are born with them, but gratitude and veneration they must be taught.
Hence, there is little temptation, except the pure impulse to do good, to compose works of any kind for
the amusement of those, who neither flatter the vanity, nor reward the labours, of their benefactors. The contributors to the volumes in question willingly sacrificed ambition; and were content to clothe Truth in language so clear and pure, that it should appear like a robe of light shining from heaven around her, to reveal her beauty and proportions, and thus attract the eye that rolled in darkness, and the feet that wandered in error before. How successfully they have effected their purpose, may be shown by three brief stanzas; which also prove what I have been most anxious in these papers to establish, that verse, in its diction, may be as unadorned and inartificial as prose, yet lose nothing of the elegance and grandeur of poetry. The attribute of Deity called omnipre sence is, perhaps, as difficult to express otherwise than by that one emphatic word, as any other subject that can be imagined. A thousand illustrations might be more easily given, than one distinct idea of it. I may be mistaken, but I do think that the nearest possible approach has been made to it in the last of the following lines. A child speaks :
66 If I could find some cave unknown,
Where human feet have never trod,
side there would be God."
This is a child's thought in a child's words; and yet the longer it is dwelt upon the more impressive it becomes, till we feel ourselves as much in the presence of Deity, as within the ring of the horizon, and
under the arch of heaven, wherever we go, and however the scene may be changed.
Eternity is another indefinite and undescribable thing. Hear a child's notion of it, and I am sure the wisest in this assembly will not be displeased with it:
“ Days, months, and years must have an end ;
Eternity has none,
As when it first begun."
The very impotence of language is sometimes the strongest expression of the sentiment to be conveyed. Here, when words break down under the weight of the thought, how natural and touching is the apostrophe in which the infant mind takes refuge from the overwhelming contemplation! Can I be wrong in wishing that he who now utters, and all who hear it, may be able to adopt the prayer?
Great God! an infant cannot tell
How such a thing can be :
It would be injustice to forget, in this connection, Dr. Watts's “ Divine Songs for Children.” These form so small a portion of his multiform labours, that, were they expunged, the eye could scarcely perceive the bulk of one of the volumes diminished. Yet who can calculate the innocent pleasure, and the abiding profit, which those few leaves have afforded to myriads of minds through the lapse of a century ? And much