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Some on the lower boughs, which crost their way, Fixing their bearded fibres, round and round, With many a ring and wild contortion wound; Some to the passing wind at times, with sway Of gentle motion swung; Others of younger growth, unmov’d, were hung Like stone-drops from the cavern's fretted height. Beneath was smooth and fair to sight, Nor weeds, nor briars, deformed the natural floor; And through the leafy cope which bowered it o’er Came gleams of checkered light. . . So like a temple did it seem, that there A pious heart's first impulse would be
play, Ruffled the darkening surface, then, with gleam Of sudden light around the lotus Stem It rippled; and the sacred flowers that crown The lakelet with their roseate beauty, ride, In go." waving rocked, from side to S1(le; And as the wind upheaves Their broad and buoyant weight, the glossy leaves, Flap on the twinkling waters, up and down.” p. 133—5. The reader, perhaps, may now wish to see some of Mr. Southey's living characters; and we give them the picture of Kailyal’s retreat in the forest, after her sojourn by the holy fount of the Ganges. “And duly here, to Marriataly's praise, The maid, as with an angel’s voice of song, Poured her melodious lays Upon the gales of even, And gliding in religious dance along, Moved, graceful as the dark-eyed nymphs of heaven, Such harmony to all her steps was given.
Thus ever, in her father's doting eye, Kailyal performed the customary rite, He, patient of his burning pain the while, Beheld her, and approved her pious toil “He, too, by day and night, and every hour, Paid to a higher Power his sacrifice; An offering, not of ghee, or fruit, or rice, Flower-crown, or blood; but of a heart subdued, A resolute unconquered fortitude, An agony represt, a will resigned” “Yea, all around was hallowed: Danger, fear, Northought of evil ever entered here. A charm was on the Leopard when he
came Within the circle of that mystick lade; Submiss he crouched before the heavenly maid, And ored to her touch his speckled side; Or with arched back erect, and bending head, And eyes half closed for pleasure, would he stand, Courting the pressure of her gentle hand. Trampling his path through wood and brake, And canes which crackling fall before his way, And tassel-grass, whose silvery feathers play
O'ertopping the young trees, On comes the elephant, to slake His thirst at nooninyon pellucidsprings. Lo! from his trunk upturned, aloft he flings The grateful shower; and now Plucking the broad-leaved bough Of yonder plane, with waving motion slow, Fanning the languid air, He moves it to an fro. But when that form of beauty meets his sight, The trunk its undulating motion stops, From his forgetful hold the planebranch drops, Reverent he kneels, and lifts his rational eyes To her as if in prayer; And when she pours her angel voice in song, Entranced he listens to the thrilling notes, Till his strong temples, bathed with sudden dews,
Their fragrance of delight and love diffuse.” p. 136–9.
Redundant and over minute as these descriptions undoubtedly are, it is impossible not to feel, that they are conceived in the true spirit, and expressed in the genuine language, of poetry. We must add a few specimens of Mr. Southey's delineations of character and affection.
“Hope, we have none, said Kailyal to her slite. Said she aright? and had the mortal maid No thoughts of heavenly aid, No secret hopes her inmost heart to move With longings of such deep and pure desire, As vestal maids, whose piety is love, Feel in their ecstacies, when rapt above, f Their souls unto their heavenly spouse aspire', Why else so often doth that searching eye Roam through the scope of sky? Why if she sees a distant speck on high, Starts there that quick suffusion to her cheek? 'Tis but the eagle, in his heavenly height; Reluctant to believe, she hears his
cry, Aï.marks his wheeling flight, Then languidly averts her mournful sight. Why ever else, at morn, that waking sigh, Boe the lovely form no more is nigh Which hath been present to her soul all night; And that injurious fear Which ever, as it riseth, is represt, Yet riseth still within her troubled breast, That she no more shall see the Glendoveer " p. 141, 142.
Her emotions, when defaced with leprosy by the wrath of Kehama, have a character of equal tenderness and greater dignity.
“This is a loathsome sight to human
eye. Half-shrinking at herself, the maiden thought, W
Will it be so to him O surely not! The immortal powers who see Through the poor wrappings of mortality, Behold the soul, the beautiful soul, within, Exempt from age and wasting malady, And undeformed, while pure and free from sin. This is a loathsome sight to human eye, But not to eyes divine, Ereenia, son of heaven, oh not to thine !” p. 204, 205.
There is something very sweet and touching in their meeting after this disaster.
“Thou seest his poor revenge! So having said one io she glanced upon her leprous stain Indignantly, and shook Her head in calm disdain.
O maid of soul divine! And more than ever dear, And more than ever mine, Replied the Glendoveer: He hath not read, be sure, the mystick ways Of fate.” p. 214, 215.
We add but one other picture of her piety and filial devotion.
“O thou whom we adore, O Marriataly, thee do I emplore, The virgin cried; my goddess, pardon thou The unwilling wrong, that I no more, With dance and song, Can do thy daily service, as of yore! The flowers which last I wreathed around thy brow, Are withering there; and never now Shall I at eve adore thee, And swimming round with arms outspread, Poise the full pitcher on my head, In dext’rous dance before thee; While underneath the reedy shed, at 1’est My father sate the evening rites to view, And blest thy name—and blest His daughter too.” p. 33, 34.
“And turning to the image, threw Her gratefnl arms around it, ... It was thou Who saved'st me from the stream!
The elements on them like nurses tended, And with their growth etherial substance blended. Less pure than these is that strange Indian bird, Who never dips in earthly streams her bill, , But, when the sound of coming showers is heard, Looks up, and from the clouds receives her fill. Less pure the footless fowl of heaven, that Incvel" Rest upon earth, but on the wing for ever Hovering o'er bowers, their fragrant food inhale, Drink the descending dew upon its way, And sleep aloft while floating on the gale.” p. 222, 223.
We here close our extracts, and take our leave of Mr. Southey. We wish we could entertain any tolerable hopes of converting him from the damnable heresies into which he has fallen, and to which, if he does not reform speedily, we fear his reputation will die a martyr. The great space we have allowed him to occupy, both now and on former occasions, proves sufficiently what importance we attach to his very errours, and what great things, we think, might be expected from him, if he could only be made to exert himself on the same side with those who have hitherto succeeded in commanding the admiration of the world. To those who care little for our opinions, the copious extracts which we have given, will afford a safer ground of conclusion; and we conceive, that no reader of any taste or sensibility can peruse even those detatched fragments, without feeling that Mr. Southey is gifted with powers of fancy and of expression beyond almost any individual of his age; and that in the expression of all the tender and amiable, and quiet affections, he has had but few rivals; either in past or in present time. These are rare and precious qualities; the intrinsick value of which cannot be destroyed
by their combination with others of an opposite character, and to which we shall always be glad to do hoImage in spite of any such combination. But a childish taste, and an affected manner, though they cannot destroy genius, will infallibly deprive it of its glory; and must be re
probated, therefore, with a severity proportioned to the mischief they occasion; a mischief that can only be measured by the greatness of the excellence they hide, and will always be stated the highest by those to whom that excellence is dearest.
FROM THE UNIVERSAL MAGAZINE.
Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song: with historical and traditional Notices relative to the Manners and Customs of the Peasantry. Now first published by R. H. Cromek, F. A. S. Ed. Editor of “The Reliques of Robert Burns.” 1 vol. 8vo. 1810.
TO Mr. Cromek every lover of Scottish poetry is already deeply indebted for the industry and taste with which he collected materials for an additional volume to the works of Robert Burns. Of that work our opinion has been given in our eleventh volume, p. 132:” but we are now called upon to consider a production of a very different nature: a production which characterizes the modes of thought and feeling among the peasantry of a sister kingdom, and which, in its compilation, reflects no common praise upon the enthusiasm with which Mr. Cromek must have pursued his labour, and the judgment with which it is executed.
The contents of this volume form a subject more than usually interesting to the philosopher and the critick. They are not the matured cfforts of labour, study, and learning; they are not the offspring of refinement, nor are they executed from any prescribed model: they are the simple, natural, and heart-warm effusions of rustick feeling: they describe those passions which nature plants, nourishes, and expands: they have been written with no expectations of renown; they have floated Upon the breath of tradition: the very names of their authors are un
known: and just when the period had arrived that they would probably have died with their possessors, Mr. Cromek has arrested them in their fleeting progress, and has given them “a local habitation and a name.” The inquiry which might lead to a satisfactory explanation of the causes, whether physical, moral, or political, that have concurred to give to the peasantry of Scotland that superiority of mind which could produce such exquisite poetry as is contained in this volume, would carry us into a discussion too prolix for the pages of our miscellany. We feel, however, all the importance of the topick, and wish that we had space to do it justice. As we cannot, however, let us pass to a consideration of the volume itself. The first thing that arrests our attention is an “Introduction” from the pen of Mr. Cromek, in which we find many very pertinent and judicious remarks upon the subject of Scottish poetry: a subject upon which he can scarcely feel more enthusiasm than we do; but his enthusiasm has led to enterprise: it has not been a vague and general feeling of the mind. The manners of the peasantry, also their superstitions, their customs, and their po
* See Select Reviews, vol. II. p. 10.
pular prejudices, come in for a share of his attention. s The introductory, paragraphs deserve to be transcribed.
“The Scottish poets have raised a glorious fabrick of characteristick lyrick, the fairest, perhaps, any nation can boast. The foundations were laid by various unknown hands, and even of those who raised the superstructure few have attained the honour of renown; but the whole has been reformed and completed by a man whose fame will be immortal as his genius was transcendant. The name of Rob EkT BURNs, let a Scotchman pronounce it with reverence and affection' He produced the most simple and beautiful lyricks himself; he purified and washed from their olden stains many of the most exquisite of past ages. He collected others with all the glowing enthusiasm of an antiquary, and with the keen eye of an exquisite critick and poet. It was on these beautiful old ballads and songs that Burns laid the foundation of his greatness. Their simplicity he copied; he equalled their humour, and excelled their pathos. But that flame which they helped to raise absorbed them in its superiour brightness; so that the more we investigate the sources from which he drew, the more our reverence for his genius is increased. Whatever he transplanted grew up and flourished with a vigour unknown in the parent soil; whatever he imitated sinks almost into insignificance placed by the side of the imitation. He rolls along like a
mighty river, in the contemplation of
which the scattered streams that contribute to its greatness are forgotten. “ it has been the work of the present collector to redeem some of those fine old ballads and songs, overshadowed by the genius of Borns, such, especially, as have never before been published, and are floating in the breath of popular tradition. “Many of these are peculiar to certain districts of Scotland, and tracts of finely situated country. Deeply founded in the manners and customs of the peasantry, they keep hold of their minds, and pass from generation to generation by these local ties: their flashes of broad humour, their vivid description render them popular; and their strong touches of native feeling and sensibility make a lasting impresSion on the heart. “It is worthy of remark, that in no district of England are to be found specimens of this simple and rustick poetry. The influence of commerce has gradually alter. *
ed the character of the people: by creating new interests and new pursuits, it has weakened that strong attachment to the soil which gives interest to the localities of popular ballads, and has destroyed those cherished remembrances of former times which impart to a rude, an unpolished strain, all the pathos of the most laboured elegy. “We may safely premise, that many of the most valuable traditional songs and ballads perished in those afflicting times of reformation and bloodshed which be long to queen Mary, to Charles, and to James. A great change then took place in the Scottish character; the glowing vivacity and lightsomeness of the Caledonian muses were quenched in the gloomy severity of sour, fanatick enthusiasm, and ironfeatured bigotry. The profanity of the song was denounced from the pulpit, and the holy lips of Calvinism would not suffer pollution by its touch: dancing, to which it is nearly allied, was publickly rebuked, attired in fornicator's sackcloth. The innocent simplicity and airiness of song gave way to holier emanations; to spiritualized ditties, and to the edifying cadence of religious, reforming cant. Such seems to have been the state of song when Allan Ramsay arose. His beautiful collection rekindled the smothered embers of lyrick poetry; but he could not redecn the lost treasures of past ages; nor rake from the ashes of the fallen religion the sacred relicks of its songs. A few were redeemed; but they were trimmed anew, and laced with the golden thread of metaphysick foppery, over the coarse and homely hodclingray of rural industry. Their naïveté of feeling, their humour and amiable simplicity now gave way to the gilded and varnished trappings and tassclings of courtly refinement. “Scottish humour attempted to smear his thistics with the oil and balm of polite satire, till they lost their native pungency. Love was polished, and boarding
schooled, till the rough mint-stamp of
nature was furbishcd off it. The peasantry, however, preserved, in their traditional songs and ballads, a foir portion of the spirit and rough nature of the olden times. To the peasantry the Scotch are indebted for many of their most exquisite compositions. Their judgment in the selection and preservation of song scarcely can be sufficiently appreciated :-Barbour’s Bruce ; Blind Harry's Sir Wiiliam Wallace ; from say’s original works, and his Collection of Songs : Pergussoni, and Burns are to be food in every scus.