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progress of art — ^a change which, indeed, in some degree, obscured
much that was glorious, but which brought with it new charm of
its own.

We must now proceed to the work more directly before us — that of
giving our readers some account of Mr. WordswortVs just published
volume. Its title, " Poems chiefly of Early and Late Years,*^ is
one of peculiar interest in reference to the thoughts which have been
engaging us ; and in accordance with its promise, the collection will be
found to span nearly the entire half century of the author^s public
existence as a poet. The first place in it is occupied by a poem,
entitled Guilt and Sorrow, the onginal whole, as it seems, of which a
very cherished favourite of ours, The Female Vagrant, has all along,
unknown to us and the public, formed a part. Such a poem (we are
speaking just now of the part) could not have borne transplanting or
adaptation to anything for which it was not originally meant ; but
this has happily not been its fate. We have it here in the place
which it all along has occupied in the poet's mind, and amia the
objects with which he at the first surrounded it ; objects, therefore,
alU^ther congruous with itself, and informed by the same spirit.
Perhaps it, and the whole poem to which we now find it belonging,
forms the finest specimen of the severe graces of our author^s earlier
style ; and it is dated 1798-4, and must therefore have been com-
posed in his extreme youth ! What a proof, in this point of view, it
affords of the deep-seated originality of his mind ! and how innate
are the peculiar characteristics of his cenius, if thus early in his
career, with such vicious models around him as then found favour, —
with no severe or deep criticism among men of letters to guide his
taste, — ^with so little of English scholarship in others to aid in forming
his style, — ^before, too, his acquaintance with that other great mind,
which was destined afterwards to bring out so much of his own, — he
could write a poem so pure from all tinsel and conventionality, so
majestic in its simplicity, indicating such confidence in the truth of



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nature — in the power and the life that reside " in common thinf|;8 that
round us lie.^^ The following stanzas may give our readers some
sample of those portions of the poem, which have hitherto been with-
held from them : —

" The gathering clouds grew red with stormy fire,
In streaks diverging wide and mounting hi^h;
That inn he long had pass'd; the distant spure.
Which oft as he look'd back had fix'd his eye.
Was lost, though still he look'd, in the blank sky.
Perplex'd and comfortless he gaz'd around,
And scarce coidd any trace of man descry,
Save corn-fields stretched and stretching without bound ;
But where the sower dwelt was nowhere to be found.

" No tree was there, no meadow's pleasant green.
No brook to wet his lip or soothe his ear ;
Long files of corn-stacks here and there were seen,
But not one dwelling-place his heart to cheer.
Some labourer, thousnt he, may perchance be near ;
And so he sent a feeple shout — in vain ;
No voice made answer — ^he could only hear
Winds rustling over plots of unripe grain.
Or whistling mrough thin grass along the unfurrow'd plain.

'* Long had he fancied each successive slope
Concealed some cottage, whither he mi^ht turn
And rest ; but now along heaven's darkening cope
The crows rush'd by in ^dies, homeward borne.
Thus wam'd, he sought some shepherd's spreading thorn
Or hovel from the storm to shield his head.
But sought in vain ; for now, all wild, forlorn.
And vacant, a huge waste around him spread ;
The lYet cold ground, he fear'd, must be his only bed."



'* All, all was cheerless to the horizon's bound ;
The weary eye — ^which, wheresoe'er it strays,
Marks nothing but the red sun's setting round.
Or on the earu strange lines, in former days
Left by gigantic arms — at length surveys
What seems an antique castle spreading wide ;
Hoary and naked are its walls, and raise
Their brow sublime : in shelter there to bide
He tum'd, while rain pour'd down smoking on every side.

"Pile of Stone-henge ! so proud to hint yet keep
Thy secrets ; thou that lov'st to stand and hear
The riain resounding to the whirlwind's sweep ;
Inmate of lonesome Nature's endless year;
Even if thou saw'st the giant wicker rear
For sacrifice its throngs of living men.
Before thy face did ever wretch appear.
Who in his heart had groan 'd with deadlier pain
Than he who now at night-fall treads thy bare domain f



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Poetry of the Year 1842. «65

^* Within that &bnc of mysterious &yrm,
Winds met in ooBffict, each by tarns supreme v
And, fVom its perilous sbeher driTen, through storm
And rain he wiider^d on, no moon to stream
From gulf of parting douds one friendly beam.
Nor an^ frieodly sound his footsteps led;
Once d*d the lightxrinff's fkint disastrous gleam
Disclose a naked flroicb-post's double head,
Sight Which thou|^ lost at ODoe a gkam of pleasure shed.

** No swinging sign-board creak'd from cottage elm
To stay his steps with faintness overcome ;
Twas dark ana void as ocean's watery realm
Roaring with storms be&eath night^s starless gloom ,
No gipsy cower'd o'er fire of Airze or broom;
'abou



No labourer watched his red kiln glaring bright,

Nor taper glimmer'd dim from si<£ man's room ;

Along the waste no line of moumftd light

From lamp of lonely toll-gate stream'd athwart the night."

Pp. 6, 11—13.

We wish we could quote the whole of the Ad(b«8S to the Clouds,
which, we think, belongs to Mr. W.'s latest style. But the following
extract is as much as we have room or time for ; and, by the way, it
18 by much the greater part of the poem : —

^ Speak, silent creatures. — ^They are gone, are fled,
Buried together in yon gloomy mass
T%at loads the middle heaven ; and dear and bright
And vacant doth the region wkieh diey throng'd
Appear ; a calm descent of sky conducting
Down to the unapproachable abyss,
Down to that hidden gulf from which they rose
To vanish— fleet as days and months and years.
Fleet as the generations of mankind,
Power, glory, empire, as the world itself^
The lin^rii^ world, when time hath ceased to be:
But ^e witi£ roar, shaking the rooted trees ;
And see ! a bright precursor to a train
Perchance as numerous, overpeera the rock
That sullenlv refhses to partake
Of the wild uopulse. From a fl>unt of fife
Invisible, the long procession moves
Luminous or gloomy, welcome to the vale.
Which they are entering, welcome to mine eye
That sees them, to my soul that owns in them,
And in the bosom of uie firmament
O'er which they move, wherein they are contain'd,
A type of her capacious self and all
Her restless progeny.

A hiunble walk
Here is my body doom'd to tread, this path,
A little hoary line and faintly trac'd.
Work, shall we call it, of the shepherd's foot
Or of his flock f^joint vestige of them both.
I pace it unrepining, fbr my thoughts
Admit no bondage and my words have wings.
Where is the Orphean lyre, or Druid harp,
To accompany t£e verse ? The mountain blast
NO. xviii. — N. s. 4q



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666 Poetry of the Year 1842.

Shall be our Aotu^ of music ; he shall sweep

The rocks, and quiverinir trees, and billowy lake.

And search the fibres of the caves, and thej

Shall answer, for our song is of the Clouds,

And the wind loves them ; and the genUe gales —

Which by their aid re-dotlie the naked lawn

With annual verdure, and revive the woods,

And moisten the parch'd lips of thirsty flowers-*

Love them ; and every idle breeze of air

Bends to the fiivourite burthen. Moon and stars

Keep their most solemn vigils when the Clouds

Watch also, shifting peaceably their place

Like bands of ministerine spirits, or when they lie,

As if some Protean art the change had wrou^t,

In listless quiet o'er the ethereal deep

Scattered, a Cyclades of various shapes

And all decrees of beauty. O ye Lightnings !

Ye are theur perilous ofi&pring ; and the Sun —

Source inexhaustible of life and joy.

And type of man's fiir-darting reason, therefore

In old time worshipped as the god of verse,

A bbudng intellectual deity —

Loves his own glory in their looks, and showers

Upon that unsubstantial brotherhood

Visions with all but beatific light

Enrich'd — ^too transient were they not renew'd

From age to age, and did not, wmle we gaze

In silent raptim, credulous desire,

Nourish the hope that memory lades not power

To keep the treasure unimpairU Vain tnought !

Yet why repine, created as we are

For jov and rest, albeit to find them only

Lodg'd in the bossom of eternal things?" — Pp. 86 — 88. .

Ab usual in Mr. WoidswortVs volumes, we have a conndeiable
sprinkling of sonnets — a branch of art which he has carried fiiither
than any other English writer. There is a series to Italy, which we
wish all thoughtfiu Italians could see and deeply ponder. They
deserve to be embalmed along with Filicaia's series to the same
land. We can only present our readers with one of them.

" As leaves are to the tree whereon they grow
And wither, evenr human generation
Is to the B^g of a mighty nation,
Lock'd in our world's embrace through weal and woe ;
Thought that should teach the zealot to forego
Rash schemes, to abjure all selfish agitation.
And seek throusdi noiseless pains and moderation
The unblemish'd good they only can bestow.
Alas ! with most, who wei^h futurity
Against time present, passion holds the scales :
Hence e^ual iterance of both prevails.
And nations sink ; or, strolling to be firee.
Are doom'd to flounder on, luLe wounded whales
Toss'd on the bosom of a stormy sea." — P. 43.

There is much besides in the volume on which we could say a great
dealj but we must hasten to the performance with which it doses— the



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Podry of the Year 184«. 667

• *■*, -jj*

tragedy of the Borderers. The public have long been aware^ through
Coleridge and Hazlitt, that in his earlier days, Mr. Wordsworth wrote a
tragedy — and three ^r four lines in it quoted by the latter, are, we
doubt not, familiar tomany of our readers. It was notgenerally believed,
fix>m a note at the end of this volume, until within the last month or
two, that its author had any thoughts of publishing it. There are not
many men who could have afforded to allow such a production to lie
unknown among their papers ; for, with all its faults, of which we dare
say no one is more sensible than Mr. Wordsworth himself, who is
probably well aware that his genius is not dramatic, it is a most ex-
traordinary production. The plot is, as we expected, defective; the
scenery, encumbered by more of the picturesque than suits that
branch of art, and in other respects, the action is faulty ; but it is
full of power and passion,* as the foUowing extracts may serve to
show: —

« Oswald. It may be,

That some there are, squeamish half-thinking cowards,
Who will turn pale upon you, call you murderer,
And you will walk in solitude among them.
A mighty evil for a strong-built mind !
Join twenty tapers of unequal height,
And light tnem joined, and you w3l see the less
How 'twill bum down the taller ; and they all
Shall prey upon the tallest. Solitude!
The eagle lives in solitude !

Marmaduke. Even so,

The sparrow so on the house-top, and I,
The weakest of God's creatures, stand resolved
To abide the issue of my act, alone.

Osw. Now would you? and for ever? — My young friend,
As time advances, either we become
The prey or masters of our own past deeds.
Fellowship we must have, wiUing or no ;
And if good angels fiul, slack in uieir duty,
Substitutes, turn our fkces where we may,
Are still forthcoming : some which, though they bear
m names, can render no ill services,
In recompense for what themselves required.
So meet extremes in this mysterious world.
And opposites thus melt iato each other.

Mar. Hme, smce Man first drew breath, has never moved
With such a weight upon his wings as now;
But they will soon be lightened.

Osw. Ay, look up —

Cast roimd you your mind's eye, and you will learn
Fortitude is the child of Enterprise :
Great actions move our admiration, chiefly



* By the way, how much the impaasioned character of Mr. Wordsworth's poetry has
been overlooked l^ critics I What is there in Byron to compare with the opening
books of the Excursion in this respect ?



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f ^ i%^ of the Year 18^.

Because they carry in themselyes an eameal
That we can suffer greatly.

Mar. Very true.

Oflw. Action Is transitorjr— a step, a Mow,
Tkemotkm of a muade^uus way or ikaXn^
Tifl don& and in the after vacancy
We wonder at oursdves like men betrayed :
Suffering is permanent, obscure and darK,
And shtfes the nature of faifinity.

Mar. Truth-^and I feel H.

Obw. What! if you had bid

Eternal £uewdl to unn^Bffled joy.
And the light dancing of the thoughtless heart \
It is the toy of fools, and little fit
For such a world as this. The wise abjure
All thoughts whose idle compositiod lives
In the entire fov|;etfiilness of paiii.
— I see I have disturbed you.

Mar. By no means.

Osw. Coii^assien !— npity !•— pride can do without them ;
And what if you should never know them more 1
He is a puny soul who, fedinz pain,
Finds ease because another feds it too.
If e^er I open out tlus heart of mine
It shall be for a nobler— to teach
And not to purdiase puling sympathy.
— Nay, you are pale.

Mar. It may be so.

Osw. Remorse—

It cannot live with thought ; think on, think on.
And it will die. What! in this universe.
Where the least things control the greatest, where
The faintest breath that breathes can move a world.
What! feel remorse, where, if a cat had sneeKod,
A leaf had fallen, the thing had never be^i
Whose very shadow gnaws us to the vitals.

♦ « « « «

Marm ADUKB {Jioih rehanmi^.) The dead have but one fiiOB:
And such a man — so medc and unoffending — (To khmsdf.)

Helpless and harmless as a babe : a man,
By obvious signal to the world's protection.
Solemnly dedi^ted — ^to decoy him ! —

Idonba. Oh, had you seen him living!—

Marm. I (so filled

With horror is this world) am unto thee
The thing most precious, that it now contains :
Therefore through me alone must be revealed
Bv whom thy parent was destroyed, Idonea!
I have the proofs !—

Idon. O miserable fether !

Thou didst command me to bless all mankiad ;
Nor to this moment, have I ever wished
Evil to any living thing ; but hear me.

Hear me, ye Heavens ! ^(kneelinff) - mtLj vengeance haunt the ffend
For this most cruel murder : let him live
And move in terror of the elements ;
The thunder send him on his knees to prayer
In the open streets, and let him think he sees,



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Poetry qfOie Year 184*. 669

If e'er he entereth the house of Gk>d,
The roo^ self-moved, unsettling o'er his head ;
And let him, when he would lie down at nisht,
Point to his wife the blood-drops on his pillow I

Marm. My voice was silent, but my heart hath loined thee.

I DOW. {leaning on Marm.) Left to the mercv of that maul
How could he call upon hu child !— O friend ! [ Twrm to Marm.
My faithful true ana only comforter.

Mabm. Ay, come to me and weep. {He kisses her,)
{To Eldred) Yes, varlet, look.

The dovils at sudi sights do dap their hands [Eldrbd retires

InoN. Thy vest is torn, thy «heek is deadly pale ; alarmed.
Hast thou pursued the monster ?

Marm. I have found him. —

Oh ! would that thou hadst perished in the flames !

Idon. Here art thou, then can I be desolate?—

Marm. There was a time, when this protecting hand
AvaUed against the mighty ; never more
Shall blessinffs wait upon a deed of mine.

Idon. Wild words for me to hear, for me, an orphan,
Committed to thy guardianship by Heaven ;
And, if thou hast forgiven me, let me hope,
In this deep sorrow, trust, that I am thine
For closer care ; — here is no malady. [Taking his arm,

Marm. There, t« a malady —
(Striking his heart and forehead) And here, and here,
A mortal malady.— I am accurst :
All nature curses me, and in my heart
Thy curse is fixed; the truth must be laid bare.
It must be told, and borne. I am the man,
(Abused, betrayed, but how it matters not)
Presumptuous above all that ever breathed,
Who, casting as I thought a guilty pearson
Upon Heaven's righteous iuc^ment, did become
An instument of nends. Through me, through tne,
Thy Father perished.

1 DON EA. Perished — by what mischance ?"

Pp. 344—347, 386—389.

The next name on our list is that of Campbell, vho, like Words-
worth, had achieved greatness before the present generation saw the
light, or many of its highest reputations were established. Not that
in thus classing him with Wordsworth, we can be understood to treat
the two as in any way equal ; though a true and most original poet,
Campbell impresses us with no sense of the transcendent greatness
we nave hitherto been contemplating. And in this respect, he
fatally diflTers from Wordsworth, that his old age is not, as r^ards
poetry at least, serene and bright ; that the senility of his verses id
unredeemed by any great merit ; that, in short, we should greatly
prefer his abandoning poetry altogether. Though not, as we have
already intimated, of the first class, his fi^rmer writings approved him
a true poet, and in the ea^er and more impetuous ode, he was original
and without a rival. With that let him be content. H<Hien-
linden, and O'Connor'^s Child, The Mariners of England, and
the Bnttlc of the Baltic, must live as long as the English Ian-



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670 Poetry of ike Year 1848.

guage ; and even a more than ordinarily craving ambition might well
be content with the immortality thus ensured. Perhaps it is in the
very nature of a lyrical genius of the particular kind displayed in
those noble songs, quick, impetuous^ flashing, and sensuous, to de-
mand a young temperament for its exercise. At all events it seems
to have been so m the case of Mr. Campbell, whose Terses have
exhibited a gradual declension as he has got later into lifi^ till at last
we get to this dismal " Pilgrim of Glencoe," Why it ever saw the
light, it might puzzle the most acute diver into motives to find out
Theodrio was a sad felling off from Gertrude of Wyoming ; but,
after the first burst of disappointment was over, people began to see
that the tale was by no means without merit, — ^that a spirit of aw^t-
ness and refinement reigned throughout, — that amid all it9 feeU«nafls
of outline, and slovenliness of execution, the true poet continuallj
appeared ; but we cannot fency that any maturer Judgment than our
present will enable us to find merit in the Piljmm of Olencoe.
There is hardly a gleam of interest in the tale, though the hero at
one time is within an ace of being murdered, and hardly a ray of
poetry in the telling it, though its scene is laid in one of the sub-
limest spots of the earth. But if there be neither interest in the
tale, nor poetry in the telling it, why was it published ? Possibly
to give vent to the author's political feelings, for, be it known to our
readers, it is a TFhig performance. Now, as Mr. Campbell has
always been at least a Whig, this circumstance by itself may neith^
surprise nor pain ihem, even should they be Tories. But it will sur-
prise and pain them to find the poet, in other days so delicately
refined, expressing himself thus of an old Highland savage, who
entertains a purpose of murdering his guest : —

" Yet Norman had fierce virtues, that would mock
Cold-blooded Tories of the modem stock,
Who starve the breadless poor with fraud and cant, —
He slew and saved them from the pangs of want"

A nleasant and a courteous way of announcing political disagreement,
to be sure !

But we will not part on bad terms with one to whose earlier works
we owe such a debt of gratitude. In spite of the utter imbecility
of the principal piece in this collection, and the (to us distressingly)
Anacreontic character of one of its shorter contents, there are things
in it somewhat worthier of Mr. CampbelFs feme and his genius.
The Child and Hind is so sweetly told, that we can even forgive
the most portentous piece of bad English we have lately encoun-
tered, a paxty in searc)i of a child being called '^ the ehUd^xptoring
band ;^ an expression which conveys to our minds rather the thought
of dissecting^ than of looking for a child. And the verses to Cora
Linn are so beautiful, that our readers must share our pleasure in
them.



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Poeify of the Year 1842. 671

CORA LINNy OR THE FALLS Oli' THE CLYDE.
IVritten on revisiting U in 1837.

The time I saw thee, Cora, last,
Twas with congenial friends;
And calmer hours of pleasure past
My memory seldom sends.

It was as sweet an Autumn day
As ever shone on Clyde,
And Lanark's orchards aU the way
Put forth their golden pride ;

Ev'n hed^, busk'd in bravery,
Look'd nch that sunny mom ;
The scarlet hip and blackberry
So prank'd September's thorn.

\ In Cora's glen the calm how deep !

That trees on loftiest hill
liike statues stood, or things asleep.
All motionless and stilL

The torrent spoke, as if his noise
Bade earth be quiet round,
And give his loud and lonely voice
A more commanding sound.

His foam, beneath the yellow light
Of noon, came down like one
Continuous sheet of jaspers bright,
Broad rolling by the sun.

Dear linn! let loftier falling floods
Have prouder names than Uiine;
And long of all, enthron'd in woods.
Let Niagara shine.

Barbarian, let him shake his coasts
With reeking thunders &r,
Extended like Ui' array of hosts
In broad, embattled war !

His voice appals the wilderness ; —
Approaching thine, we feel
A solemn, deep m^odiousness,
That needs no louder peal.

More ftiry would but disenchant
Thy dream-inspiring din ;
Be thou the Scottish Muse's haunt,
Romantic Cora Linn I

The remaining poets in our list must be reserved for next month.



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672



ON THE DIVISION OF VERSES IN THE BIBLE.

(Continued fivm page 469.)

We are now come to the consideration of the division of verses whidi
prevailed in early manuscripts of the Latin Bibles. We have already
seen that Jerome divided the books of Chronicles into colons, or
members, to prevent, as he says, confnsioQ amid so many proper
names,* as he had already divided the prophetical books into col(ms
and commas, or greater and leaser seetiims, which he informs us he
did in imitation of a similar custom which prevailed in regard to the
Greek and Latin orators.f He ftirther acquaints us that he had found
the metrical books already so written ; that is, as we have already
observed, divided into stanzas and hemistichs. It is quite evident
that there was no appearance of the present division into verses in Uie
Hebrew copies in J erome's time, or he would, doubtless, have noticed
it in some way ; nor does it appear that this learned fiither introduced
any division whatever into the other books of Scripture.

We must not omit to say, that Leusden goes so iar as to maintain
that Jerome states elsewhere that he adopted his divisions fix>m the
Hebrew ; but as we have not been able to discover this in any part of
Jerome's writings, we are inclined to think it a hasty assertion of
Leusden's, arising from his zeal for the great antiquity and even the
inspiration of the present Hebrew division into verses. On the con-
trary, as Jerome expressly asserts that he was himself the author of
this division, it seems almost certain, as we have already observed,
that no such distinction existed in his time in the Hebrew copies.
It is also evident that the division of Jerome is ouite different nrom
the Hebrew. For instance, in the two first Hebrew alphabetical
divisions in the book of Lamentations, there is a verse to each letter,
while Jerome divides the same sentence with that in the Hebrew
into three verses, and sometimes more.

In the fourth alphabetical divisioa the Masorites have one, while
Jerome has three verses. Here the verses are somewhat shorter than
in the former ; but in the third alphabet they both agree, which could
not possibly have been otherwise, as they aD begin with the same
letter.

* " £t ouod nunc Verba dierum interpretatus nun ; idciroo feci, ut inextrieabilef
moTM ot ■UTam nominum qiu» soriptorum conAiaa aunt vitio^ atnauumque labyriDthos,
per venuum cola|digererem." Prof, im ParaL

** Monemutque lectorem, ut silvam Ueb. nominum et distinctionem per membra



Online LibraryWilliam ScottThe Christian remembrancer → online text (page 94 of 103)