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The nimble fancy of all beauteous Greece,
Not that my hand could make of stubborn stone,
Dedicatory Sonnet, line 3.
“ Beside my cradle, $c."
Alluding to the poem called “Frost at Midnight,” by S. T. Coleridge. The reference is especially to the following lines:
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze,
Himself in all, and all things in himself,
This sonnet, and the two following, my earliest attempts at that form of versification, were addressed to R. S. Jameson, Esq., on occasion of meeting him in London after a separation of some years. He was the favourite companion of my boyhood, the active friend and sincere counsellor of my youth. “Though seas between us broad ha' rollid” since we “travell’d side by side” last, I trust the sight of this little volume will give rise to recollections that will make him ten years younger. He is now Judge Advocate at Dominica, and husband of Mrs. Jaineson, authoress of the “ Diary of an Ennuyee,” “ Loves of the Poets,” and other agreeable productions.
Sonnet 1, line 3.
The peace that floated
Love had he found in huts, where poor men lie,
Wordsworth's Song at the feast of Brougham Castle.
Sonnet 8, line 9.
Popular fancy has generally conceived a connection between the Foxglove and the good people. In Ireland, where it is called Lusmore (the great herb) and also Fairy-cap, the bending of its tall stalks is believed to denote the unseen presence of supernatural beings. The Shefro, or gregarious Fairy, is represented as wearing the corolla of the Fox-glove on his head, and no unbecoming head-dress either. See Crofton Croker's “ Fairy Legends of the South of Ireland," a book to the author of which, unknown as he is to me, I gladly seize this opportunity of returning thanks for huge delight and considerable accession of fairy lore. Crofton Croker is evidently a man of genius and poetical feeling. Is it not to be wished that he had given more free way to the poetry of his nature? He seems almost afraid lest some one should suspect him of fearing and believing in the good people himself, and consequently tells his stories as if he did not believe them, which makes them appear more like great big Irish lies than the genuine educts of superstition. Now this may be proper enough in such tales as Daniel O'Rourke's Voyage to the Moon, Ned Sheehy's Excuse, and some others; but still superstition is one thing, and lying another, and though the superstitions are often mendacious, or rather destitute of any standard of truth within their minds, and when hard pushed will consciously and conscientiously forge to eep up the credit of their creed, (countless are the falsehoods that have been told as well as
believed, for conscience sake,) yet really superstitious persons do not, Falstaff-like, set about of malice propense to raise a laugh by the enormity of their inventions. Many thanks to Crofton for his three delectable little volumes; but I do suspect, that from injudicious emulation of Tam-o-Shanter, he sometimes “mars a curious tale in telling it.” It is his manifest endeavour to be as Irish as possible, but are his Irishmen always genuine Milesians? Are they not too much like the Kilmallocks, and Mactwolters, and Brulgrudderies? all excellent fellows in their way, but not fit company for Fairies. A certain dash of the ludicrous is not amiss in a terrible story, because fear is a ridiculous passion, whether its object be man or goblin; but it should be naiveté, or unconscious humour, not irony or sarcasm, far less the slang knowingness of a hoaxer.
Of all the imaginations of Erin, the Banshee is the most affecting, and the best authenticated. There are some narratives of this apparition attested by startling evidence. But perhaps the most beautiful fancy is the Thierna-na-Oge, or land of youth, a region of perpetual spring beneath the waters, where there is no decay, no change, no time, but all remains as at the moment of submersion. To this Moore alludes in those lines :
On Lough Neagh's bank, as the fisherman strays,
When the clear, cold eve's declining,
In the wave beneath him shining.
Sonnet 15, last lines.
Thou worshippest at the Temple's inner shrine,