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misery in my determination, and I durst not trifle | refined and accomplished Woman was a being alwith so important a deposite. Nor have I any most new to him, and of which he had formed but cause to repent it. If I have not got polite tattle, a very inadequate idea."-Vol. v. pp. 68, 69. modish manners, and fashionable dress, I am not sickened and disgusted with the multiform curse of boarding-school affectation; and I have got the handsomest figure, the sweetest temper, the soundest constitution, and the kindest heart in the county! Mrs. Burns believes, as firmly as her creed, that I am le plus bel esprit, et le plus honnête homme in the universe; although she scarcely ever in her life, except the Scriptures of the Old and New Testa ment, and the Psalms of David in metre, spent five minutes together on either prose or verse. I must except also from this last, a certain late publication of Scots Poems, which she has perused very devoutly, and all the ballads in the country, as she has
He adds also, in another place, that "the poet, when questioned about his habits of composition, replied,-'All my poetry is the effect of easy composition, but of laborious correction.'" It is pleasing to know those things-even if they were really as trifling as to a superficial observer they may probably appear. There is a very amiable letter from Mr. Murdoch, the poet's early preceptor, at p. 111; and a very splendid one from Mr. Bloomfield, at p. 135. As nothing is more
(O the partial lover! you will cry) the finest "wood-rare, among the minor poets, than a candid acknowledgment of their own inferiority, we think Mr. Bloomfield well entitled to have his magnanimity recorded.
note wild" I ever heard.-I am the more particular in this lady's character, as I know she will henceforth have the honour of a share in your best wishes. She is still at Mauchline, as I am building my house for this hovel that I shelter in while occasionally here, is pervious to every blast that blows, and every shower that falls; and I am only preserved from being chilled to death, by being suffocated with smoke. I do not find my farm that pennyworth I was taught to expect; but I believe, in time, it may be a saving bargain. You will be pleased to hear that I have laid aside idle éclat, and bind every day after my reapers.
"To save me from that horrid situation of at any time going down, in a losing bargain of a farm, to misery, I have taken my excise instructions, and have my commission in my pocket for any emerg ency of fortune! If I could set all before your view, whatever disrespect you, in common with the world, have for this business, I know you would approve of my idea."-Vol. v. pp. 74, 75.
We may add the following for the sake of board ?"-Vol. v. pp. 135, 136.
"I know not how the word exciseman, or still more opprobrious, gauger, will sound in your ears. I too have seen the day when my auditory nerves would have felt very delicately on this subject; but a wife and children are things which have a wonderful power in blunting these kind of sensations. Fifty pounds a year for life, and a provision for widows and orphans, you will allow, is no bad settlement for a poet. For the ignominy of the profession, I have the encouragement which I once heard a recruiting serjeant give to a numerous, if not a respectable audience, in the streets of Kilmarnock-Gentlemen, for your further and better encouragement, I can assure you that our regiment is the most blackguard corps under the crown, and consequently with us an honest fellow has the surest chance of preferment.'"-Vol. v. pp. 99, 100.
"The illustrious soul that has left amongst us the name of Burns, has often been lowered down to a comparison with me; but the comparison exists more in circumstances than in essentials. That man stood up with the stamp of superior intellect on his brow; a visible greatness: and great and patriotic subjects would only have called into action the powers of his mind, which lay inactive while he played calmly and exquisitely the pastoral pipe.
The letters to which I have alluded in my preface to the Rural Tales,' were friendly warnings, pointed with immediate reference to the fate of been the watchword of my friends. I do remember that extraordinary man. Remember Burns,' has Burns; but I am not Burns! I have neither his fire to fan, or to quench; nor his passions to control! Where then is my merit, if I make a peaceful voyage on a smooth sea, and with no mutiny on
It would have been as well if Mr. Cromek had left out the history of Mr. Hamilton's dissensions with his parish minister,-Burns' apology to a gentleman with whom he had a drunken squabble, and the anecdote of his being used to ask for more liquor, when visiting in the country, under the pretext of fortifying himself against the terrors of a little wood he had to pass through in going home. The most interesting passages, indeed, in this part of the volume, are those for which we are indebted to Mr. Cromek himself. He informs us, for instance, in a note,
The observations on Scottish songs, which fill nearly one hundred and fifty pages, are, on the whole, minute and trifling; though the exquisite justness of the poet's taste, and his fine relish of simplicity in this species of composition, is no less remarkable here than in his correspondence with Mr. Thomson. Of all other kinds of poetry, he was so indulgent a judge, that he may almost be termed an indiscriminate admirer. We find, too, from these observations, that several songs and pieces of songs, which he printed as genuine antiques, were really of his own composition.
The commonplace book, from which Dr. Currie had formerly selected all that he thought worth publication, is next given entire by Mr. Cromek. We were quite as well, we think, with the extracts;-at all events, there was no need for reprinting what had been given by Dr. Currie; a remark which is equally applicable to the letters of which we had formerly extracts.
Of the additional poems which form the concluding part of the volume, we have but little to say. We have little doubt of their authenticity; for, though the editor has omitted, in almost every instance, to specify the source from which they were derived, they certainly bear the stamp of the author's manner and genius. They are not, however, of his purest metal, nor marked with his finest die: several of them have appeared in print already; and the songs are, as usual, the best. lamentation of a desolate damsel, is tender
"One of Burns' remarks, when he first came to Edinburgh, was, that between the Men of rustic life, and the polite world. he observed little difference that in the former, though unpolished by fashion, and unenlightened by science, he had found much observation and much intelligence;-but a and pretty.
and the benefits of those generous and humanising pursuits, are by no means confined to those whom leisure and affluence have courted to their enjoyment. That much of this is peculiar to Scotland, and may be properly referred to our excellent institutions for parochial education, and to the natural sobriety and prudence of our nation, may certainly be allowed: but we have no doubt that there is a good deal of the same principle in England, and that the actual intelligence of the lower orders will be found, there also, very far to exceed the ordinary estimates of their superiors. It is pleasing to know, that the sources
We now reluctantly dismiss this subject.We scarcely hoped, when we began our critic-of rational enjoyment are so widely dissemial labours, that an opportunity would ever nated; and in a free country, it is comfortable occur of speaking of Burns as we wished to to think, that so great a proportion of the speak of him; and therefore, we feel grate- people is able to appreciate the advantages ful to Mr. Cromek for giving us this opportu- of its condition, and fit to be relied on, in all nity. As we have no means of knowing, emergencies where steadiness and intelliwith precision, to what extent his writings are gence may be required. known and admired in the southern part of the kingdom, we have perhaps fallen into the error of quoting passages that are familiar to most of our readers, and dealing out praise which every one of them had previously awarded. We felt it impossible, however, to resist the temptation of transcribing a few of the passages which struck us the most, on turning over the volumes; and reckon with confidence on the gratitude of those to whom they are new, while we are not without hopes of being forgiven by those who have been used to admire them.
Our other remark is of a more limited application; and is addressed chiefly to the followers and patrons of that new school of poetry, against which we have thought it our duty to neglect no opportunity of testifying. Those gentlemen are outrageous for simplicity; and we beg leave to recommend to them the simplicity of Burns. He has copied the spoken language of passion and affection, with infinitely more fidelity than they have ever done, on all occasions which properly admitted of such adaptation: But he has not rejected the helps of elevated language and habitual We shall conclude with two general re-associations; nor debased his composition by marks the one national, the other critical. an affectation of babyish interjections, and The first is, that it is impossible to read the all the puling expletives of an old nurseryproductions of Burns, along with his history, maid's vocabulary. They may look long without forming a higher idea of the intelli- enough among his nervous and manly lines, gence, taste, and accomplishments of our before they find any "Good lacks!"—"Dear peasantry, than most of those in the higher hearts!" or "As a body may says," in them; ranks are disposed to entertain. Without or any stuff about dancing daffodils and sister meaning to deny that he himself was endow- Emmelines. Let them think, with what ined with rare and extraordinary gifts of genius finite contempt the powerful mind of Burns and fancy, it is evident, from the whole details would have perused the story of Alice Fell of his history, as well as from the letters of and her duffle cloak,-of Andrew Jones and his brother, and the testimony of Mr. Murdoch the half-crown,-or of Little Dan without and others, to the character of his father, that breeches, and his thievish grandfather. Let the whole family, and many of their asso- them contrast their own fantastical personages ciates, who never emerged from the native of hysterical school-masters and sententious obscurity of their condition, possessed talents, leechgatherers, with the authentic rustics of and taste, and intelligence, which are little Burns's Cotters' Saturday Night, and his insuspected to lurk in those humble retreats.— imitable songs; and reflect on the different His epistles to brother poets, in the rank reception which those personifications have of small farmers and shopkeepers in the ad- met with from the public. Though they will joining villages,-the existence of a book-not be reclaimed from their puny affectations society and debating-club among persons of by the example of their learned predecessors, that description, and many other incidental they may, perhaps, submit to be admonished traits in his sketches of his youthful compan- by a self-taught and illiterate poet, who drew ions, all contribute to show, that not only from Nature far more directly than they can good sense, and enlightened morality, but do, and produced something so much liker literature, and talents for speculation, are far the admired copies of the masters whom they more generally diffused in society than is have abjured. commonly imagined; and that the delights
My father put me frae his door,
The bonnie lad that's far awa.
"A pair o' gloves he gave to me,
And silken snoods he gave me twa; And I will wear them for his sake,
The bonnie lad that's far awa. "The weary winter soon will pass,
And spring will cleed the birken-shaw;
And he'll come hame that's far awa."
Gertrude of Wyoming, a Pennsylvanian Tale; and other Poems. By THOMAS CAMPBELL, author of "The Pleasures of Hope," &c. 4to. pp. 136. London: Longman & Co.: 1809.
WE rejoice once more to see a polished and pathetic poem-in the old style of English pathos and poetry. This is of the pitch of the Castle of Indolence, and the finer parts of Spenser; with more feeling, in many places, than the first, and more condensation and diligent finishing than the latter. If the true tone of nature be not everywhere maintained, it gives place, at least, to art only, and not to affectation-and, least of all, to affectation of singularity or rudeness.
Beautiful as the greater part of this volume is, the public taste, we are afraid, has of late been too much accustomed to beauties of a more obtrusive and glaring kind, to be fully sensible of its merit. Without supposing that this taste has been in any great degree vitiated, or even imposed upon, by the babyism or the antiquarianism which have lately been versified for its improvement, we may be allowed to suspect, that it has been somewhat dazzled by the splendour, and bustle and variety of the most popular of our recent poems; and that the more modest colouring of truth and nature may, at this moment, seem somewhat cold and feeble. We have endeavoured, on former occasions, to do justice to the force and originality of some of those brilliant productions, as well as to the genius (fitted for mach higher things) of their authors and have little doubt of being soon called upon for a renewed tribute of applause. But we cannot help saying, in the mean time, that the work before us belongs to a class which comes nearer to our conception of pure and perfect poetry. Such productions do not, indeed, strike so strong a blow as the vehement effusions of our modern Trouveurs; but they are calculated, we think, to please more deeply, and to call out more permanently, those trains of emotion, in which the delight of poetry will probably be found to consist. They may not be so loudly nor so universally applauded; but their fame will probably endure longer, and they will be oftener recalled to mingle with the reveries of solitary leisure, or the consolations of real
There is a sort of poetry, no doubt, as there is a sort of flowers, which can bear the broad sun and the ruffling winds of the world,which thrive under the hands and eyes of indiscriminating multitudes, and please as much in hot and crowded saloons, as in their own sheltered repositories; but the finer and the purer sorts blossom only in the shade; and never give out their sweets but to those who seek them amid the quiet and seclusion of the scenes which gave them birth. There are torrents and cascades which attract the
admiration of tittering parties, and of which even the busy must turn aside to catch a transient glance: But "the haunted stream" steals through a still and a solitary landscape; and its beauties are never revealed, but to him who strays, in calm contemplation, by its course, and follows its wanderings with undistracted and unimpatient admiration. There is a reason, too, for all this, which may be made more plain than by metaphors.
The highest delight which poetry produces, does not arise from the mere passive perception of the images or sentiments which it presents to the mind; but from the excitement which is given to its own internal activity, and the character which is impressed on the train of its spontaneous conceptions. Even the dullest reader generally sees more than is directly presented to him by the poet; but a lover of poetry always sees infinitely more; and is often indebted to his author for little more than an impulse, or the key-note of a melody which his fancy makes out for itself. Thus, the effect of poetry, depends more on the fruitfulness of the impressions to which it gives rise, than on their own individual force or novelty; and the writers who possess the greatest powers of fascination, are not those who present us with the greatest number of lively images or lofty sentiments, but who most successfully impart their own impulse to the current of our thoughts and feelings, and give the colour of their brighter conceptions to those which they excite in their readers. Now, upon a little consideration, it will probably appear, that the dazzling, and the busy and marvellous scenes which constitute the whole charm of some poems, are not so well calculated to produce this effect, as those more intelligible delineations which are borrowed from ordinary life, and coloured from familiar affections. The object is, to awaken in our minds a train of kindred emotions, and to excite our imaginations to work out for themselves a tissue of pleasing or impressive conceptions. But it seems obvious, that this is more likely to be accomplished by surrounding us gradually with those objects, and involving us in those situations with which we have long been accustomed to associate the feelings of the poet,-than by startling us with some tale of wonder, or attempting to engage our affections for personages, of whose character and condition we are unable to form any distinct conception. These, indeed, are more sure than the other to produce a momentary sensation, by the novelty and exaggeration with which they are commonly attended; but their power is spent at the first impulse: they do not strike
root and germinate in the mind, like the seeds | less encouragement than it deserves. If the of its native feelings; nor propagate through-volume before us were the work of an unout the imagination that long series of delight-known writer, indeed, we should feel no litful movements, which is only excited when tle apprehension about its success; but Mr. the song of the poet is the echo of our familiar Campbell's name has power, we are perfeelings. suaded, to insure a very partial and a very general attention to whatever it accompanies, and, we would fain hope, influence enough to reclaim the public taste to a juster standard of excellence. The success of his former work, indeed, goes far to remove our anxiety for the fortune of this. It contained, perhaps, more brilliant and bold passages than are to be found in the poem before us: But it was inferior, we think, in softness and beauty; and, being necessarily of a more desultory and didactic character, had far less pathos and interest than this very simple tale. Those who admired the Pleasures of Hope for the passages about Brama and Kosciusko, may perhaps be somewhat disappointed with the gentler tone of Gertrude; but those who loved that charming work for its pictures of infancy and of maternal and connubial love, may read on here with the assurance of a still higher gratification.
It appears to us, therefore, that by far the most powerful and enchanting poetry is that which depends for its effect upon the just representation of common feelings and common situations; and not on the strangeness of its incidents, or the novelty or exotic splendour of its scenes and characters. The difficulty is, no doubt, to give the requisite force, elegance and dignity to these ordinary subjects, and to win a way for them to the heart, by that true and concise expression of natural emotion, which is among the rarest gifts of inspiration. To accomplish this, the poet must do much; and the reader something. The one must practise enchantment, and the other submit to it. The one must purify his conceptions from all that is low or artificial; and the other must lend himself gently to the impression, and refrain from disturbing it by any movement of worldly vanity, derision or hard heartedness. In an advanced state of society, the expression of simple emotion is so obstructed by ceremony, or so distorted by affectation, that though the sentiment itself be still familiar to the greater part of mankind, the verbal representation of it is a task of the utmost difficulty. One set of writers, accordingly, finding the whole language of men and women too sophisticated for this purpose, have been obliged to go to the nursery for a more suitable phraseology; another has adopted the style of courtly Arcadians; and a third, that of mere Bedlamites. So much more difficult is it to express natural feelings, than to narrate battles, or describe prodigies!
But even when the poet has done his part, there are many causes which may obstruct his immediate popularity. In the first place, it requires a certain degree of sensibility to perceive his merit. There are thousands of people who can admire a florid description, or be amused with a wonderful story, to whom a pathetic poem is quite unintelligible. In the second place, it requires a certain degree of leisure and tranquillity in the reader. A picturesque stanza may be well enough relished while the reader is getting his hair combed; but a scene of tenderness or emotion will not do, even for the corner of a crowded drawing-room. Finally, it requires a certain degree of courage to proclaim the merits of such a writer. Those who feel the most deeply, are most given to disguise their feelings; and derision is never so agonising as when it pounces on the wanderings of misguided sensibility. Considering the habits of the age in which we live, therefore, and the fashion, which, though not immutable, has for some time run steadily in an opposite direction, we should not be much surprised if a poem, whose chief merit consisted in its pathos, and in the softness and exquisite tenderness of its representations of domestic life and romantic seclusion, should meet with
The story is of very little consequence in a poem of this description; and it is here, as we have just hinted, extremely short and simple. Albert, an English gentleman of high character and accomplishment, had emigrated to Pennsylvania about the year 1740, and occupied himself, after his wife's death, in doing good to his neighbours, and in educating his infant and only child, Gertrude. He had fixed himself in the pleasant township of Wyoming, on the banks of the Susquehanna; a situation which at that time might have passed for an earthly paradise, with very little aid from poetical embellishment. The beauty and fertility of the country, the simple and unlaborious plenty which reigned among the scattered inhabitants,-but, above all, the singular purity and innocence of their manners, and the tranquil and unenvious equality in which they passed their days, form altogether a scene, on which the eye of philanthropy is never wearied with gazing, and to which, perhaps, no parallel can be found in the annals of the fallen world. The heart turns with delight from the feverish scenes of European history, to the sweet repose of this true Atlantis; but sinks to reflect, that though its reality may still be attested by surviving witnesses, no such spot is now left, on the whole face of the earth, as a refuge from corruption and misery!
The poem opens with a fine description of this enchanting retirement. One calm summer morn, a friendly Indian arrives in his canoe, bringing with him a fair boy, who, with his mother, were the sole survivors of an English garrison which had been stormed by a hostile tribe. The dying mother had commended her boy to the care of her wild deliverers; and their chief, in obedience to her solemn bequest, now delivers him into the hands of the most respected of the adjoining settlers. Albert recognises the unhappy or phan as the son of a beloved friend; and
rears young Henry Waldegrave as the happy playmate of Gertrude, and sharer with her in the joys of their romantic solitude, and the lessons of their venerable instructor. When
he is scarcely entered upon manhood, Henry is sent for by his friends in England, and roams over Europe in search of improvement for eight or nine years,-while the quiet hours are sliding over the father and daughter in the unbroken tranquillity of their Pennsylvanian retreat. At last, Henry, whose heart had found no resting place in all the world besides, returns in all the mature graces of manhood, and marries his beloved Gertrude. Then there is bliss beyond all that is blissful on earth,—and more feelingly described than mere genius can ever hope to describe any thing. But the war of emancipation begins; and the dream of love and enjoyment is broken by alarms and dismal forebodings. While they are sitting one evening enjoying those tranquil delights, now more endeared" by the fears which gather around them, an aged Indian rushes into their habitation, and, after disclosing himself for Henry's ancient guide and preserver, informs them, that a hostile tribe which had exterminated his whole family, is on its march towards their devoted dwellings. With considerable difficulty they effect their escape to a fort at some distance in the woods; and at sunrise, Gertrude, and her father and husband, look from its battlements over the scene of desolation which the murderous Indians had already spread over the pleasant groves and gardens of Wyoming. While they are standing wrapt in this sad contemplation, an Indian marksman fires a mortal shot from his ambush at Albert; and as Gertrude clasps him in agony
her heart, another discharge lays her bleeding by his side! She then takes farewell of her husband, in a speech more sweetly pathetic than any thing ever written in rhyme. Henry prostrates himself on her grave in convulsed and speechless agony; and his Indian deliverer, throwing his mantle over him, watches by him a while in gloomy silence; and at last addresses him in a sort of wild and energetic descant, exciting him, by his example, to be revenged, and to die! The poem closes with this vehement and impassioned exhortation.
Before proceeding to lay any part of the poem itself before our readers, we should try to give them some idea of that delighful harmony of colouring and of expression, which serves to unite every part of it for the production of one effect; and to make the description, narrative, and reflections, conspire to breathe over the whole a certain air of pure and tender enchantment, which is not once dispelled, through the whole length of the poem, by the intrusion of any discordant impression. All that we can now do, however, is to tell them that this was its effect upon our feelings; and to give them their chance of partaking in it, by a pretty copious
selection of extracts.
The descriptive stanzas in the beginning, which set out with an invocation to Wyoming,
though in some places a little obscure and overlaboured, are, to our taste, very soft and beautiful.
Although the wild-flower on thy ruin'd wall
"It was beneath thy skies that, but to prune
Then, where of Indian hills the daylight takes
Unhunted, sought his woods and wilderness again.
tish, and English settlers, and of the patriThe account of the German, Spanish, Scotarchal harmony in which they were all united, is likewise given with great spirit and brevity; their own elected judge and adviser. A sudas well as the portrait of the venerable Albert, den transition is then made to Gertrude.
Young, innocent! on whose sweet forehead mild
The parted ringlet shone in simplest guise,
The rose of England bloom'd on Gertrude's cheekWhat though these shades had seen her birth," &c.
child of her mother, the author goes on in After mentioning that she was left the only
these sweet verses.
To them that feel the strong paternal tie,
(The playmate ere the teacher of her mind);
All uncompanion'd else her years had gone
Till now in Gertrude's eyes their ninth blue sum