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the volume are of various character, and of Your hangman fingers cannot touch his fame. course of unequal merit; though all of them Still in your prostrate land there shall be some are marked by that exquisite melody of ver- Long trains of ill may pass unheeded, dumb,
Proud hearts, the shrines of Freedom's vestal flame. sification, and general felicity of diction, But Vengeance is behind, and Justice is to come.' which makes the mere recitation of their
pp. 78–81. words a luxury to readers of taste, even when they pay but little attention to their sense.
Mr. Campbell's muse, however, is by no Most of them, we believe, have already
means habitually political; and the greater
appeared in occasional publications, though it is part of the pieces in this volume have a purely quite time that they should be collected and moral or poetical character. The exquisite engrossed in a less perishable record.
If stanzas to the Rainbow, we believe, are in they are less brilliant, on the wyple, than the every body's hands; but we cannot resist the most exquisite productions of the author's temptation of transcribing the latter part of earlier days, they are generally marked, we
them. think, by greater solemnity and depth of
“ When o'er the green undelug'd earth thought, a vein of deeper reflection, and more Heaven's covenant thou didst shine, intense sympathy with human feelings, and, How came the world's grey fathers forth if possible, by a more resolute and entire de- To watch thy sacred sign? votion to the cause of liberty. Mr. Campbell, “ And when its yellow lustre smil'd we rejoice to say, is not among those poets O'er mountains yet untrod, whose hatred of oppression has been chilled
Each mother held aloft her child
To bless the bow of God! by the lapse of years, or allayed by the suggestions of a base self-interest. He has held “ Methinks, thy jubilee to keep, on his course through good and through bad
The first made anthem rang,
On earth deliver'd from the deep, report, unseduced, unterrified; and is now
And the first poet sang. found' in his duty, testifying as fearlessly against the invaders of Spain, in the volume
“ Nor ever shall the Muse's eye before us, as he did against the spoilers of
Unraptur'd greet thy beam :
Theme of primeval prophecy, Poland in the very first of his publications. It
Be still the poet's theme ! is a proud thing indeed for England, for poetry, and for mankind, that all the illustrious poets
" The earth to thee her incense yields,
The lark thy welcome sings, of the present day–Byron, Moore, Rogers,
When glitt'ring in the freshen'd fields Campbell-are distinguished by their zeal for
The snowy mushroom springs! freedom, and their scorn for courtly adula
“ How glorious is thy girdle cast tion; while those who have deserted that
O'er mountain, iower, and town, manly and holy cause have, from that hour, Or mirror'd in the ocean vast, felt their inspiration withdrawn, their harp
A thousand fathoms down! strings broken, and the fire quenched in their
“ As fresh in yon horizon dark, censers! Even the Laureate, since his un
As young thy beauties seem, happy Vision of Judgment, has ceased to As when the eagle from the ark sing; and fallen into undutiful as well as First sported in thy beam. ignoble silence, even on court festivals. As For, faithful to its sacred page, a specimen of the tone in which an unbought
Heaven still rebuilds thy span, Muse can yet address herself to public
Nor lets thy type grow pale with age themes, we subjoin a few stanzas of a noble
That first spoke peace to man.' ode to the Memory of the Spanish Patriots
pp. 52–55. who died in resisting the late atrocious inva- The beautiful verses on Mr. Kemble's resion.
tirement from the stage afford a very re" Brave men who at the Trocadero fell
markable illustration of the tendency of Mr. Beside your cannons-conquer'd not, though slain! Campbell's genius to raise ordinary themes There is a victory in dying well
into occasions of pathetic poetry, and to invest For Freedom and ye have not died in vain ; trivial occurrences with the mantle of solemn For come what may, there shall be hearts in Spain thought. We add a few of the stanzas. To honour, ay, embrace your martyr'd lot, Cursing the Bigot's and the Bourbon's chain,
“ His was the spell o'er hearts And looking on your graves, though trophied not. Which only acting lendsAs holier, hallow'd ground than priests could make The youngest of the sister Arts, the spot !"
Where all their beauty blends : “Yet laugh not in your carnival of crime
For ill can Poetry express, Too proudly, ye oppressors !-Spain was free ;
Full many a tone of thought sublime, Her soil has felt the foot-prints, and her clime
And Painting, mute and motionless, Been winnow'd by the wings of Liberty!
Steals but a glance of time. And these, even parting, scatter as they flee
But by the mighty Actor brought, Thoughts-influences, to live in hearis unborn,
Illusion's perfect triumphs comeOpinions that shall wrench the prison-key
Verse ceases to be airy thought, From Persecution-show her mask off-torn,
And Sculpture to be dumb." And tramp her bloated head beneath the foot of
"High were the task--too high, Scorn.
Ye conscious bogoms here! “ Glory to them that die in this great cause !
In words to paint your memory Kings, Bigots, can inflict no brand of shame,
Of Kemble and of Lear! Or shape of death, to shroud them from applause :- But who forgets that white discrowned head, Nol-manglers of the martyr's earthly frame ! Those bursts of Reason's half-extinguish'd glare ; Those tears upon Cordelia's bosom shed, case, he prefer other employments to the in doubt more touching than despair,
feverish occupation of poetry, he has a right If 'twas reality he felt ?"
surely to choose his employments—and is ** And there was many an hour
more likely to choose well, than the herd of Of blended kindred fame,
his officious advisers. For our own parts, When Siddons's auxiliar power And sister magic came.
we are ready at all times to hail his appear'Together at the Muse's side
ances with delight-but we wait for them The tragic paragons had grown
with respect and patience; and conceive that They were the children of her pride, we have no title to accelerate them by our The columns of her throne !
Before concluding, we would wish also to
protect him against another kind of injustice. In lovelier woman's cause."'--pp. 64-67.
Comparing the small bulk of his publications
with the length of time that elapses between We have great difficulty in resisting the them, people are apt to wonder that so little lemptation to go on : But in conscience we has been produced after so long an incubamust stop here. We are ashamed, indeed, tion, and that poems are not better which are to think how considerable a proportion of this the work of so many years—absurdly suppolittle volume we have already transferred into sing, that the ingenious author is actually our extracts. Nor have we much to say of labouring all the while at what he at last the poems we have not extracted. “The produces, and has been diligently at work Ritter Bann” and “Reullura” are the two during the whole interval in perfecting that longest pieces, after Theodric—but we think which is at last discovered to fall short of not the most successful. Some of the songs perfection! To those who know the habits are exquisite-and most of the occasional of literary men, nothing however can be more poems too good for occasions.
ridiculous than this supposition. Your true The volume is very small—and it contains drudges, with whom all that is intellectual all that the distinguished author has written moves most wretchedly slow, are the quickest for many years. We regret this certainly :- and most regular with their publications ; but we do not presume to complain of it. while men of genius, whose thoughts play The service of the Muses is a free service with the ease and rapidity of lightning, often and all that we receive from their votaries is seem tardy to the public, because there are a free gift, for which we are bound to them long intervals between the flashes! We are in gratitude-not a tribute, for the tardy far from undervaluing that care and labour rendering of which they are to be threatened without which no finished performance can or distrained. They stand to the public in ever be produced by mortals; and still farther the relation of benefactors, not of debtors. from thinking it å reproach to any author, They shower their largesses on unthankful that he takes pains to render his works worthy heads; and disclaim the trammels of any of his fame. But when the slowness and the sordid contract. They are not articled clerks, size of his publications are invidiously put in short, whom we are entitled to scold for together in order to depreciate their merits, their idleness, but the liberal donors of im- or to raise a doubt as to the force of the gemortal possessions; for which they require nius that produced them, we think it right to only the easy quit-rent of our praise. If Mr. enter our caveat against a conclusion, which Campbell is lazy, therefore, he has a right to is as rash as it is ungenerous; and indicates enjoy his laziness, unmolested by our impor- a spirit rather of detraction than of reasonable tunities. If, as we rather presume is the judgment.
(April, 1805.) The Lay of the Last Minstrel: a Poem. By WALTER Scott, Esq. 4to. pp. 318. Edinburgh,
Constable and Co.: London, Longman and Co.: 1805.* We consider this poem as an attempt to 1 metrical romance. The author, enamoured transfer the refinements of modern poetry to of the lofty visions of chivalry, and partial the matter and the manner of the ancient to the strains in which they were formerly
• The Novels of Sir Walter Scout have, no contemporary notices of the two poems which I doubi, cast his Poetry into the shade: And it is think produced the greatest effect at the time: the beyond question that they must always occupy the one as the first and most strikingly original of the highest and most conspicuous place in that splendid whole series: the other as being on the whole trophy which his genius has reared to his memory. the best ; and also as having led me to make some Yet, when I recollect the vehement admiration it remarks, not only on the general character of the once excited, I cannot part with the belief that author's genius, but on the peculiar perils of there is much in his poetry also, which our age very popular poetry—of which ihe time that has should not allow to be forgotten. And it is under since elapsed has afforded some curious illustra. this impression that I now venture to reprint my I tions.
embodied, seems to have employed all the tains should have monopolised as much prito resources of his genius in endeavouring to try as might have served to immortalise the recall them to the favour and admiration of whole baronage of the empire, we are the the public; and in adapting to the taste of more inclined to admire the interest and mag. modern readers a species of poetry which nificence which he has contrived to communiwas once the delight of the courtly, but has cate to a subject so unpromising. long ceased to gladden any other eyes
than Whatever may be thought of the conduct those of the scholar and the antiquary. This of the main story, the manner of introducing is a romance, therefore, composed by a min- it must be allowed to be extremely poetical. strel of the present day; or such a romance An aged minstrel who had “harped to King as we may suppose would have been written Charles the Good," and learned to love his art in modern times, if that style of composition at a time when it was honoured by all that had continued to be cultivated, and partaken was distinguished in rank or in genius, having consequently of the improvements which fallen into neglect and misery in the evil days every branch of literature has received since of the usurpation, and the more frivolous ga ie. the time of its desertion.
ties or bitter contentions of the succeeding Upon this supposition, it was evidently Mr. reigns, is represented as wandering about the Scott's business to retain all that was good, Border in poverty and solitude, a few years and to reject all that was bad in the models after the Revolution. In this situation he is upon which he was to form himself; adding, driven, by want and weariness, to seek shelter at the same time, all the interest and beauty in the Border castle of the Duchess of Bucwhich could possibly be assimilated to the cleuch and Monmouth; and being cheered by manner and spirit of his originals. It was his the hospitality of his reception, offers to sing duty, therefore, to reform the rambling, ob- "an ancient strain," relating to the old warscure, and interminable narratives of the an- riors of her family, and after some fruitless cient romancers--to moderate their digressions attempts to recall the long-forgotten melody, -to abridge or retrench their unmerciful or pours forth “The Lay of the Last Minstrel, needless descriptions—and to expunge alto- in six cantos, very skilfully divided by some gether those feeble and prosaic passages, the recurrence to his own situation, and some rude stupidity of which is so apt to excite the complimentary interruptions from his noble derision of a modern reader. At the same auditors. time, he was to rival, if he could, the force and The construction of a fable seems by no vivacity of their minute and varied representa- means the forte of our modem poetical wri. tions—the characteristic simplicity of their ters; and no great artifice, in that respect, was pictures of manners—the energy and concise to be expected, perhaps, from an imitator of ness with which they frequently describe the ancient romancers. Mr. Scott, indeed, great events-and the lively colouring and ac- has himself insinuated, that he considered the curate drawing by which they give the effect story as an object of very subordinate imof reality to every scene they undertake to portance; and that he was less solicitous to delineate. In executing this arduous task, he deliver a regular narrative, than to connect was permitted to avail himself of all that such a series of incidents as might enable him variety of style and manner which had been to introduce the manners he had undertaken sanctioned by the ancient practice; and bound to delineate, and the imagery with which to embellish his performance with all the they were associated. Though the conception graces of diction and versification which could of the fable is, probably from these causes, be reconciled to the simplicity and familiarity exceedingly defective, it is proper to lay a of the minstrel's song.
short sketch of it before our readers, both for With what success Mr. Scott's efforts have the gratification of their curiosity, and to fabeen attended in the execution of this adven- cilitate the application of the remarks we may turous undertaking, our readers will be better be afterwards tempted to offer. able to judge in the sequel: but, in the mean Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch, the Lord of time, we may safely venture to assert, that he Branksome, was slain in a skirmish with the has produced a very beautiful and entertain- Cars, about the middle of the sixteenth cen. ing poem, in a style which may fairly be con- tury. He left a daughter of matchless beauty, sidered as original; and which will be allowed an infant son, and a high-minded widow, who, to afford satisfactory evidence of the genius though a very virtuous and devout person, was of the author, even though he should not suc- privately addicted to the study of Magic, in ceed in converting the public to his own which she had been initiated by her father. opinion as to the interest or dignity of the sub- Lord Cranstoun their neighbour was at feud ject. We are ourselves inclined indeed to with the whole clan of Scott; but had fallen suspect that his partiality for the strains of desperately in love with the daughter, who antiquity has imposed a little upon the sever- returned his passion with equal sincerity and ity of his judgment, and impaired the beauty ardour, though withheld, by her duty to her of the present imitation, by directing his ai- mother, from uniting her destiny with his. tention rather to what was characteristic, than The poem opens with a description of the warto what was unexceptionable in his originals. like establishment of Branksome-hall; and Though he has spared too many of their faults, the first incident which occurs is a dialogue however, he has certainly improved upon between the Spirits of the adjoining mountain their beauties: and while we can scarcely and river, who, after consulting the stars, debodo regretting, that the feuds of Borderchief.clare that no good fortune can ever bless the mansion" till pride be quelled, and love be carry him off, while the goblin page returns free.” The lady, whose forbidden studies to the castle; where he personates the young had taught her to understand the language of baron, 10 the great annoyance of the whole such speakers, overhears this conversation; inhabitants. and vows, if possible, to retain her purpose in The lady finds the wounded knight, and spite of it. She calls a gallant knight of her eagerly employs charms for his recovery, that train, therefore, and directs him to ride im- she may learn the story of his disaster. The mediately to the abbey of Melrose, and there lovely Margaret, in the mean time, is sitting to ask, from the monk of St. Mary's aisle, the in her turret, gazing on the western star, and mighty book that was hid in the tomb of the musing on the scenes of the morning, when wizard Michael Scott. The remainder of the she discovers the blazing beacons that anfirst canto is occupied with the night journey nounce the approach of an English enemy. of the warrior. When he delivers his mes. The alarm is immediately given, and bustling sage, the monk appears filled with constema- preparation made throughout the mansion for tion and terror, but leads him at last through defence. The English force under the commany galleries and chapels to the spot where mand of the Lords Howard and Dacre speedily the wizard was interred; and, after some ac- appears before the castle, leading with them count of his life and character, the warrior the young Buccleuch; and propose that the heaves up the tomb-stone, and is dazzled by lady should either give up Sir William of the streaming splendour of an ever-burning Deloraine (who had been her messenger to lamp, which illuminates the sepulchre of the Melrose), as having incurred the guilt of enchanter. With trembling hand he takes march treason, or receive an English garrison the book from the side of the deceased, and within her walls. She answers, with much hurries home with it in his bosom.
spirit, that her kinsman will clear himself of In the mean time, Lord Cranstoun and the the imputation of treason by single combat, lovely Margaret have met at dawn in the and that no foe shall ever get admittance into woods adjacent to the castle, and are repeat- her fortress. The English Lords, being seing their vows of true love, when they are cretly apprised of the approach of powerful startled by the approach of a horseman. The succours to the besieged, agree to the proposal lady retreats; and the lover advancing, finds of the combat; and stipulate that the boy it to be the messenger from Branksome, with shall be restored to liberty or detained in whom, as an hereditary enemy, he thinks it bondage, according to the issue of the battle. necessary to enter immediately into combat. The lists are appointed for the ensuing day; The poor knight, fatigued with his nocturnal and a truce being proclaimed in the mean adventures, is dismounted at the first shock, time, the opposite bands mingle in hospitality and falls desperately wounded to the ground, and friendship.. while Lord Cranstoun, relenting towards the Deloraine being wounded, was expected to kinsman of his beloved, directs his page to appear by a champion ; and some contention attend him to the castle, and gallops home arises for the honour of that substitution.before any alarm can be given. Lord Cran- This, however, is speedily terminated by a stoun's page is something unearthly. It is a person in the armour of the warrior himself, little misshapen dwarf, whom he found one who encounters the English champion, slays day when he was hunting, in a solitary glen, him, and leads his captive young chieftain to and took home with him. It never speaks. the embraces of his mother. At this moment except now and then to cry "Lost ! lost! Deloraine himself appears, half-clothed and lost !, and is, on the whole, a hateful, mali- unarmed, to claim the combat which has been cious little urchin, with no one good quality terminated in his absence! and all flock but his unaccountable attachment and fidelity around the stranger who had personated him to his master. This personage, on approaching so successfully. He unclasps his helmet the wounded Borderer, discovers the mighty and behold! Lord Cranstoun of Teviotside ? book in his bosom, which he finds some diffi. The lady, overcome with gratitude, and the culty in opening, and has scarcely had time remembrance of the spirits' prophecy, conto read a single spell in it, when he is struck sents to forego the feud. and to give the fair down by an invisible hand, and the clasps of hand of Margaret to that of the enamoured the magic volume shut suddenly more closely Baron. The rites of betrothment are then than ever.
This one spell, however, enables celebrated with great magnificence; and a him to practice every kind of illusion. He splendid entertainment given to all the Eng. lays the wounded knight on his horse, and lish and Scottish chieftains whom the alarm leads him into the castle, while the warders had assembled at Branksome. Lord Cransee nothing but a wain of hay. He throws stoun's page plays several unlucky tricks him down, unperceived, at the door of the during the festival, and breeds some dissen. lady's chamber, and turns to make good his sion among the warriors. To soothe their retreat. In passing throngh the court, how- ireful mood, the minstrels are introduced, ever, he sees the young heir of Buccleuch at who recite three ballad pieces of considerable play, and, assuming the form of one of his merit. Just as their songs are ended, a super companions, tempts him to go out with him natural darkness spreads itself through the to the woods, where, as soon as they pass a hall; a tremendous flash of lightning and peal rivulet, he resumes his own shape, and bounds of thunder ensue, which break just on the
The bewildered child is met by two spot where the goblin page had been seated, English archers, who make prize of him, and who is heard 10 cry "Foun l! found! found !!'
and is no more to be seen, when the darkness management of its successive incidents. La clears away. The whole party is chilled with these more essential particulars, Mr. Scott's terror at this extraordinary incident; and merits, we think, are unequivocal. He writes Deloraine protests that he distinctly saw the throughout with the spirit and the force of a figrire of the ancient wizard Michael Scott in poet; and though he occasionally discovers a the middle of the lightning. The lady re- little too much, perhaps, of the “brave negnounces for ever the unhallowed study of lect," and is frequently inattentive to the magic; and all the chieftains, struck with delicate propriety and scrupulous correctness awe and consternation, vow to make a pil- of his diction, he compensates for those degrimage to Melrose, to implore rest and for- fects by the fire and animation of his whole giveness for the spirit of the departed sorcerer. composition, and the brilliant colouring and With the description of this ceremony the prominent features of the figures with which minstrel closes his “Lay.”'
he has enlivened it. We shall now proceed From this little sketch of the story, our to lay before our readers some of the passages readers will easily perceive, that, however which have made the greatest impression on well calculated it may be for íhe introduction our own minds; subjoining, at the same time, of picturesque imagery, or the display of ex- such observations as they have most forcibly traordinary incident, it has but little preten- suggested. sion to the praise of a regular or coherent In the very first rank of poetical excellence, narrative. The magic of the lady, the mid- we are inclined to place the introductory and night visit to Melrose, and the mighty book concluding lines of every canto; in which the of the enchanter, which occupy nearly one ancient strain is suspended, and the feelings third of the whole poem, and engross the and situation of the Minstrel himself deattention of the reader for a long time after scribed in the words of the author. The the commencement of the narrative, are of elegance and the beauty of this setting, if we no use whatsoever in the subsequent develop- may so call it, though entirely of modern ment of the fable, and do not contribute, in workmanship, appears to us to be fully more any degree, either to the production or ex- worthy of admiration than the bolder relief planation of the incidents that follow. The of the antiques which it encloses; and leads whole character and proceedings of the goblin us to regret that the author should have wastpage, in like manner, may be considered as ed, in imitation and antiquarian researches, merely episodical; for though he is employed so much of those powers which seem fully in some of the subordinate incidents, it is equal to the task of raising him an independent remarkable that no material part of the fable reputation. In confirmation of these remarks, requires the intervention of supernatural we give a considerable part of the introduce agency. The young Buccleuch might have tion to the whole poem: wandered into the wood, although he had not been decoyed by a goblin; and the dame
“ The way was long, the wind was cold,
The Minstrel was infirm and old ; might have given her daughter to the deliverer His wither'd cheek, and tresses gray, of her son, although she had never listened
Seem'd to have known a better day; to the prattlement of the river and mountain The harp, his sole remaining joy, spirits. There is, besides all this, a great deal
Was carried by an orphan boy: of gratuitous and digressive description, and
The last of all the Bards was he, the whole sixth canto may be said to be re
Who sung of Border chivalry; dundant.
For, well-a-day! their date was fled, The story should naturally end Hie tuneful brethren all were dead; with the union of the lovers; and the account And he, neglected and oppress'd, of the feast, and the minstrelsy that solem- Wish'd to be with them, and at rest! nised their betrothment is a sort of epilogue,
No more, on prancing palfrey borne, superadded after the catastrophe is complete.
He caroll'd, light as lark at morn;
No longer, courled and caress'd, But though we feel it to be our duty to
High plac'd in hall, a welcome guest, point out these obvious defects in the struc- He pour'd, to lord and lady gay, ture of the fable, we have no hesitation in The unpremeditated lay! conceding to the author, that the fable is but Old times were chang'd, old manners gone ! a secondary consideration in performances of
A stranger fill'd the Stuarts' throne; this nature. A poem is intended to please by
The bigots of the iron time
Had call'd his harmless art a crime. the images it suggests, and the feelings it
A wand'ring harper, scorn'd and poor, inspires; and if it contain delightful images He begg'd his bread from door to door; and affecting sentiments, our pleasure will not And tun'd, to please a peasant's ear, be materially impaired by some slight want The harp, a King had lov'd to hear."'--pp.3, 4. of probability or coherence in the narrative by which they are connected. The callida
After describing his introduction to the junctura of its members is a grace, no doubt, presence of the Duchess, and his offer to which ought always to be aimed at; but the entertain her with his music, the description quality of the members themselves is a con
proceeds :sideration of far higher importance; and that " The humble boon was soon obtain'd; by which alone the success and character of The aged Minstrel audience gain'd. the work must be ultimately decided. The
But, when he reach'd the room of state,
Where she, with all her ladies, sate, adjustment of a fable may indicate the indus
Perchance he wish'd his boon denied ! try or the judgment of the writer; but the
For, when to tune his harp he tried, Genius of the poet can only be shown in his His trembling hand had lost the ease