Page images

leaves his reader at the utmost loss how to comprehend his reasoning, and how to sympathize with his emotions.

The Wanderer in Norway is the celebrated Mary Wolstonecraft; a lady who wrote to avenge the cause of her sex, and to maintain their rights, and who lived to exemplify in her history their peculiar weaknesses and misfortunes. While at Paris, during the tumultuous scenes of the Revolution, she formed an intimacy with an American of the name of Imlay; and with the view, it is said, of not rendering her lover responsible for some debts she had contracted, she gave him all the rights of a husband without the legitimate title ; lived with him in the same house, assumed his name, and in due time became the motber of a daughter, who afterwards shared with her the misery which such a connexion could hardly fail to produce. Iinlay was unprincipled, and soon abandoned her. He passed over to England, and gave his attentions to another lady, while the unfortunate Wolstonecraft, devoured by her own regrets, divided her time, between useless importunities and thoughts of suicide. An apparent return of kindness on his part, diverted her from the dreadful resolution of self-murder ; and she eagerly seized an opportunity which was presented to her, of repairing to Norway to superintend some commercial arrangements for the behalf of him whom she called her husband. In the society of her little girl, Mary thus commenced her wanderings in toat northern land, endeavouring to soothe her mind by the summer scenery of a romantic and mountainous country, and by the thought, perhaps, that she might still be of service to one, who little deserved the interest which he had too long continued to excite in her breast. We make two or three extracts, which we give as a fair specimen of Dr. Brown's poetical talents.

“ Land of wild beauty! when the heart is free,
And the glad eyes can gaze on all they see,
Where shall the summer guest, who nature hails,
Find lovelier home, O Norway! than thy vales!
Of either seasons boastful climes may sing-
Gay springs, and winters that scarce frown to spring,
And autumns, that, wherever glance can rise,
Bloom fair with fruitage of a thousand dies !
But not for them does summer sweetest shine,
Land of wild rocks that season all is thine.

No tardy vernal months thou ask'st, to rear
With gentle breath the glories of thy year;
But quick, as at some spirit's wide command,
Bursts into blossoms a rejoicing land -
O'er crag and dell'one mantling whiteness glows, men
The lake, the river, lost beneath their snows; si


Mute is the mountain-cataract, whose fall
Stunned the far valley with its thundering call;.
Or if, with whirling gust, the tempest sweep
Some frozen spires half-hanging o'er the deep,
The faint dull crash, from glittering wreath to wreath
Scarce wakes the echoes, slumbering calm beneath.
'Tis o'er,– The vallies sinkThe unseen rill
Flows, heard-The torrents rush from every hill..!
Down comes the river, clashing loud, till seem
One steep-dash'd cataract the ceaseless stream.
The snows are vanished from the dell,—though white
The pines still shiver on the rocky height:
Yet, in that dell with trickling waters cold,
Already dares the turf its blooms unfold; .
Even higher, from the clift, with sun-beams gay,
Peeps the lone bud, though ice-drops gem its way;
As if stern winter, in some secret bower,
Had couched beneath his snows, and nursed the flower,
Then swift, and swifter, bursts the blaze around;
A stream of radiance lives upon the ground:
The mead's soft slope, the banks where runnels glide,
Each path, or crevice, of the mountain's side,
The deeper tufts that skirt the forest's gloom,
Are all one joy of fragrance and of bloom;
As if the tribes that feed on light, and give
Sweet tribute, for the beams on which they live,
When smiled the brighter sun-shine, know how frail
That short-lived pomp, they hurried glad to hail.
Now blest, who, while that passing glory shines,
Wild realm of summer! in thy dells reclines.” P. 58.

“ Ye mountain-woods that rising dark from earth,
In haughty majesty, her eldest birth,
Frown to the sun, as if a mightier power
Ye lodged, eternal nature's ancient bower!
And ye, wild cataracts! whose thundering sway
Sounds like the voice that bids the world obey ?
Receive the Wanderer! Quenched as in the tomb

Bid every sorrow die amid your gloom !” P. 66. The lines we admire the most, are to be found in the dea scription of her friend's funeral, who dying in France, was committed to the ground in the night, with all the stealth and sia lence which the bigotry of the Papists imposes upon Protes. tants. There is something touching in the dust “ dropping cautious on the bier.”

“ In the dark hour, when half by stealth she gave
Those last dear relics to a nameless grave,
No chaunted hymn permitted o'er her breast,
No prayer to bid her gentie spirit resto
G g 2


The sob faint stifled in the noiseless tear, ..
The very dust dropt cautious on her bier ;
When sorrow mixed with ire's tumultuous glow,
Scarce felt the indignation in the woe,
And all which earth in joyous promise spread,
Seemed with her buried Frances, sunk and dead,
Even then what hopeless misery must endure
She felt not for her bosom then was pure,
If not from guilty passion flows the ill
For nature's suffering there is solace still ;-
And Mary then, when earth was wrapt in gloom

Could look, nor dread to look-beyond the tomb." P. 44 The following verses were addressed to Professor Dugald Stewart, when the author presented to him a copy of his “ Observations on Dr. Darwin's Zoonomia.” The attempt to delineate, in poetical language, the phenomena of mind, savours pretty strongly of Darwin's characteristic nonsense.

“ O still in all my soul's proud musings sought,
Thou more than patron of my early thought,
Warm from the triumphs of whose mighty aim
I dared, with timid hope, to pant for fame!
Now, while my feeble toil foresees the gloom
Of cold neglect, or ridicule, its doom,
From critic sternness, critic scorn, I fly,
And seek the shelter of thy friendly eye ;
As the young bird, when hovering foes molest,
The grove, that bosom'd deep its late-left nest.

Dear were the hours, when mid the listening trair
That truth-warm’d soul expanded with thy strain ;
When first, on eyes in careless musings blind
Burst all the glories of the world of mind.

“ Mid blooms and odours born and tones that swell
The peal of nature's thousand-chorded shell,
Sensations crowding rise,-a dazzling throng-
Earth, Heaven, all glowing, as they beam along.
Next, a pale train, conceptions dimly tread,
Like spectral forms, half-viewless of the dead;
. Till fancy pour her witching spell, to give

The shadowy band again to shine, to live. .
Then opes in deeper gloom, the noiseless reign,
Where dwell abstraction's tribes, a shapeless train,
Unheard, unvisioned, yet to judgment clear
As the gay charmers of the eye and ear.
By memory's circling tie associate bound,
Her swift ideas mix in mazy round;
While,--as, when clouds on clouds are rushing dark
Flames, where they meet, the bright electric spark, ---
From thought to thought exulting Reason views
Truth's spreading flash the mutual light effuse.


With softer bondage, will, the giant power,
No slave, close fettered to a dungeon tower ;
But led by many a joy and many a love,
That guide him, as they sport and smile above :
Feels not the gentle chain he cannot see ;

And proud pursues, as if he wandered free. · The marks of the , chisel are strong on Dr. Brown; but we must end where we began; a poet is born, not made.

ART. XVIII. The Battle of Waterloo ; a Poem. By George

Walker. small 8vo. pp. 77. 1815.

[ocr errors]

THIS is a poem, Mr. Walker tells us, in “ the simple style of the Old English Ballad;" a style, which he says, he has been induced to adopt, in the hope that his work may, “ in that dress, find its place in the Farm-House and the Cottage, it being vain to expect shelter from the rich and the great, in competition with such poets as Scott, Byron, Southey, Swift, &c." He professes, also, to have " no doubt that many will prefer this native and simple style, to the high ornaments of heroic pomp, and he is led to this belief, from observing that most of our historical tales, most of our interesting stories, and legendary ballads, and even one version of the Psalms used in our Churches, are formed to this measure, which, indeed, appears to be the natural inclination of our language in its first step from prose.”

That Mr. Walker is not competent to rival any of the poets whom he mentions, we can easily believe, and we applaud his prudence in not entering the lists with them. We fear that, even in the humbler kind of poetry which he has chosen as his field, he will be found to have made a wrong estimate of the difficulties, and of his own powers. He seems to think that by adopting the ballad style, he has relieved himself from the trouble of seeking for poetical ornament, and has nothing to do but to write in a loose kind of eight syllable metre, and in stan. zas of four lines each. This idea of his is an exceedingly er, roneous one. The ballad style does not exclude grace and elegance, and chaste embellishment. In the present day it im. periously requires them. It is not merely the fluency of the verse, which constitutes the charm of so many ballads. That charm lies in their touches of nature and pathos, in the frequent beauty of their language, and in the felicity of their descriptions. Even our rudest ballads occasionally display these merits, in a very high degree. Nothing can be more affecting, or more picturesque, tban numerous passages in them. Among a thou


Pabe wulgare manifest a chavoductions

sand others of the kind, we need only refer to The Children in
the Wood, and Chevy Chase, for proofs of that which we assert.
lo modern writers there is no excuse for that incorrectness
which sonetimes disfigures the productions of the ancient.
They are expected to manifest a chaste simplicity; but are for-
bidden to be vulgar and careless. Mr. Walker appears to be
quite ignorant of this. His simplicity consists not in unaffected
yet pleasing attire, but in squalid raggedness. In the whole
course of his deadly long poem, and it has nearly two hundred
and fifty stanzas, there is not one happy image or expression,
not one spark of fire, not one of those strokes of pathos which
go straight to the heart. The reader proceeds from beginning
to end, without finding a single line which forces itself upon.-
the memory after the book is closed. All is monotonous and
cold. As a fair specimen, we give the following speech of the
Duke of Wellington to his men, on the close of the contest.

“ The tardy night its darkness spread
Upon the Aying rout;
Now stay the sword !” cried Wellington,

“ And give one general shout!
© Blucher will bare the dreadful arm

Of justice in the fight ;
He will pursue the flying foe

Until the morning light.
6. Then stay we, masters of the field,

Our men have need of rest;
Pursuit to Prussia we will yield,

For God our cause has blest.
& My heart would surely break to see

So many brave men down;
But we have won the victory;

Napoleon lost the crown !". We cannot suffer one assertion, in Mr. Walker's “ historical detail,” to pass uncontradicted. He gives his readers to understand, that, if the Prussians had not come up when they did, the British troops would, probably, have been defeated. This is directly contrary to the fact.' The final efforts of Napoleon against our army had been foiled before the arrival of Marshal Blucher's troops, and the battle was consequently won'; though, undoubtedly, from the complete inability of our forces to pursue, it would not have been so decisive in its effects, had not our allies appeared in the field at the critical moment, contributed mainly to throw the French into irretrievable confusion, and followed up with vigour the advantage which had been gained.


« PreviousContinue »