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instances, has courted him to abridge labour at the expense of elegance and vigour, and adopt superficial modes of expression, which, while they suit the rhythm, painfully impair the power and precision of the thought. The evil is, however, so strongly incidental to the measure as to have subjected to it the many able writers who, captivated by its ease and sprightliness, its peculiar fitness for brilliant narrative, and abrupt and startling transitions, have been induced to forego, in its favour, the more difficult, stately, and sonorous heroic. These qualities, though de sirable, are dangerous, and, with its
digressive tendency, its slender and easily extended length, and its strong antipathy to compression, have led the author to prolong his pocin to a degree unusual and disadvantageous. The termination of twelve ample cantos still leaves the story in suspense, and, we presume, it will take another dozen to contain the sequel. This, we submit to him, though it may prolong the "pleasure of production," considerably abridges that of perusal, as the spirit and interest necessarily become thereby diluted, and the narrative probably halting, rambling, and unjointed.
A PLEASING and unlaboured effusion, full of feminine delicacy, evidently the fruit of a genuine impulse, and free alike from the stiffness and, we had nearly said, the stability of premeditation. It is one of those creations of softness and seclusion which demand both for their due appreciation -unfit to respond to the rough and stirring requirements of the times, or ruffle it successfully with its bolder and more robust competitors. The authoress is already known to the poetic public and to our readers as a sweet and attractive writer, not meanly skilled in that music of language which expresses the music of the mind; and her present volume will not be unacceptable to such as can relish delicate harmony of sentiment when fittingly embodied. It is a tale of that which hath been and which shall be-lovers' vows and lovers' frailty, a topic wherein most female poets, with the fervour and unity of feeling pre-eminently theirs, find their most frequent and most ardent inspiration. The forsaken fond one sings her own lament; and though the subject be strictly single, the accessories
few, and the thoughts all closely kindred and concentric, yet this simple theme and narrow range contain what most of all has absorbed and agitated human feelings. Ignatia is an orphan, rich and beautiful, the child of Eastern romance and Spanish loftiness, and unites in herself the characteristic fervour and reserve of each. She derives from the excess of these last a somewhat clouded lot, and notwithstanding her high gifts, dwells in self-sought seclusion, friendless and solitary, amid her own fair but untenanted domains. But loneliness is not always “the nurse of high thoughts" only, and to her had proved the parent of wayward and morbid aims, when
the casual intrusion of Leon-an accomplished stranger-upon her speculative solitude, dissipates her airy phantasies, and draws on a living object all her thoughts. They mutually woo, and win, and wed, and, for a time, in the rich flush of youthful feeling, gather profuse and perfect happiness. But Leon, anon, tires of this too easy lapse of life, as his watchful companion often reads in his languid attention and wistful looks.
"Upon his brow had crept
She saw him gazing towards the circling bound
Turning all restlessly a longing eye;
As if the sight of all free, wandering things
The clouds, the eagle-made him long for wings."
Framing an excuse, at length, he left her to return, he feigned, "ere the new moon,"
"In ample time to share
And sympathise in all the loving care
Of her young motherhood
• Ignatia and other Poems. By M. A. Browne.
London: Hamilton, Adams,
and Co., Paternoster-row.
"A weary stranger in a vast And noisy city,"
before Leon's gaily lighted and festive dwelling. That night, heedless and vain, the deceiver gave a mask, and, entering unnoticed with the motley
throng of revellers, for a time, with
"The crowd fell back, and from a distant door
Of admiration! They were sweet and mild,
As are a half-tamed fawn's. She paused, and raised
Now wakened like the torrent of the hills,
To wilder notes. When ceased that glorious strain
And when was broken that delicious thrall,
-Whose was the smiling face that bent towards her's,
Whose was the proffered hand that led her forth?
Even so. I knew too well the stately tread,
The curls that clustered round the graceful head;
Mine eyes grew dim, my forehead throbbed and burned,
And, ere my startled consciousness returned,
The twain were gone."
Ignatia passes from the bewildering scene to hide or mitigate her agony ;
"There were slow steps upon the terraced walk,
and sight and hearing testify to her
The extract above, it will be acknowledged, remarkably evinces, in its life-like vividness and grace, the poetic
faculty of conjuring up a lovely prototype, and in its truthfulness and freedom, the pictorial skill of giving " a local habitation and a name" to a beautiful, but, only for it, a still impalpable, imagining.
The volume in general manifests the distinctive excellencies of the authoress' sex-delicacy, refinement, vivacity, and fervour; and, if not altogether free from the usually associated fragility and evanescence, it is only in accord
ance with the converse of the principle known to economists as that of compensation, by which exuberance, in one respect, is counteracted by deficience in another.
A poem springing from the ancient fables of Geoffrey of Monmouth, with regard to the primeval race of British kings, but modifying the venerable bishop's legend by such serviceable circumstances as suit a poet's need. Whatever be the capacity of the general theme for epic composition, we do not admire the author's judgment in the selection of his particular topic, nor do we conceive that, even when adopted, it has yielded its utmost to his treatment. Indeed, of its own proper fitness for a poem, irrespective of his management, we entertain no very high opinion. Few take an interest in the dim and distant, when unaccompanied by the magnificent or the momentous; the attraction of mere antiquity is insufficient to secure our sympathy, and the poet who pitches his scenes in a rude, barbarian age, naked alike of any association of interest or grandeur-who avowedly neglects, moreover, any attempt at fidelity of conception or truth of portraiture, viewing the past, not in its own, but in a light reflected from the present-can, in fairness, only contem
A mélange of shorter pieces-among which we would distinguish" Leodine" and “Queen Guinever's Hair" for their ballad naïveté and simplicity-forms an agreeable conclusion to the volume. OF LOCKRIN.*
plate for his production a cold reception, and a speedy restoration to that congenial obscurity with which it deals. Autiquity in itself has majesty, and its clouds and darkness their appropriate gloom and grandeur; but it is not to every one they will yield their lightning, and the eye soon wearies of an unrelieved expanse of lowering and impervious mists.
But setting aside this primary defect, which belongs to the scheme and substance of the poem, and not to its execution as it exists, it assuredly possesses no weak infusion of a poetic spirit. The strain is wild, tender, and melancholy-the outline fragmentary and irregular-the entire remote from the usual haunts of memory and fancy. The impression it leaves upon the mind is dim and indefinite. and, like diagrams drawn on the forsaken shore, soon to be effaced by the reflux of ordinary habitudes of sentiment and thought. It is as a dream when we awake-strange, baseless, and, but for a brief space, influential. To quote the same similitude in our author's apter language :
"The theme is but a broken one-like what
Of their dark wand'rings, showing how to raise
A tale of the long night, from what hath been,
The style is singularly equal, easy, and euphonical. A constant sense of the becoming is perceptible through out-a sense, however, of that species which is apt to decline into tiniidity, and nullify the license, and, so to speak, audacity of thought, which is the poet's privilege, and, in a great degree, his power. The adjustment of this faculty, so as to control, without preponder ating, in the mental economy, is, by the way, a matter of infinite moment, as well as of the rarest attainment; and it is obvious that it is to its disproportion we are chiefly to trace, on the one side, the iusipid moderation of such as indite " prose fringed with
• The Reigu of Lockrin. London:
rhyme," and on the other, the helmless deviations of the mere rhapsodist into the wide inane" of nonsense. general excess or defect, with the attendant evils, is of easy illustration in the works of many, but its constant perfection of proportion, we may safely assert, in those of none. In our author it seems excessive, and, consequently, he displays-what is at once the privilege and penalty of genius-a deep and tender sensibility, much more than the other main constituent-a fervid and creative fancy. While a quickening current of genuine, if not lofty, sentiment pervades the entire, the evidence of "a shaping mind" is rare
Whittaker and Co., Ave Maria Lane.
the range of illustration, limited and obvious, consisting with that general tropical style inseparable from verse, of a few trite and oft-reiterated similitudes coeval with Homer, and so exceedingly natural, expressive, or familiar, as to spring spontaneous to the summons of the meanest imagination. This defect is, we feel assured, in a great part superinduced and not inherent. A desire to steer clear of what is far-fetched or meretricious, has led him to forego the search of what is original and captivating. But, be this as it may, subtract from his stock of similes, moonbeams, storms, torrents, and a few such well-worn and veteran auxiliaries, and the fee-simple of the remainder will be but little worth. The epic or narrative portion is scanty to the last degree, but for this we may find
some compensation in its wildness and eccentricity. The portraitures are fugitive, shadowy, and imperfect, but still the scattered lineaments are relatively just and true; though, as an individual item, the revenge of Gendolah on her beautiful and guileless rival for Lockrin's love, is far too hideous to be probable, and, even though it were within the pale of truth, far too horrible to be admitted in a species of composition whose aim is to refine upon reality. The Spenserian stanza, to which the public ear has been, of late days, thoroughly familiarized, is that adopted, and, in this case, certainly with judgment, as, both in its nature and associations, it is by much the best suited to catch and to communicate the peculiar spirit of the theme.
THE DEVOTED ONE.*
A casual incursion into the contents of this volume, excited expectations from which a more correct and formal scrutiny made large deductions. We happened to alight on some of the felicitous snatches which, good in conception, and equally so in expression, lighten here and there throughout it, and, reading therein indications of a ripened intellect and an educated taste, trustfully turned con amore to a consecutive perusal. But (we speak of the Devoted One, and not of the appended poems) there is a wide difference between the collection of some fine materials, and the raising of a noble edifice-the discovery of some valuable constituents and their adjustment in that due relation which gives strength and symmetry to a composition. It will not suffice the poet's purpose to seize and note down the bright thoughts which, in some happy moment of excitement, have gratified his aspirations, and, connecting them with the dull and low-pitched productions of an ordinary mood, complacently contemplate the discrepant and ill-circumstanced performance. He must not trust to such precarious contributions, and, acquiescing in the deceptive supposition that wide and frequent alternations are the notes of genius, merely submit himself to the random impulses of nature as contradistinguished from, and independent of, art; and conceive that her beautiful
and eccentric creations, unreviewed by judgment and uncombined by skill, can pass muster among works on which the unremitting action of both conjointly has been exercised. It is one thing to make brief excursions into the joyous realms of poesy, and bring back choice and sparkling specimens of her priceless produce-to catch something of the lustre of those transient gleams of glory, which are occasionally shed upon the brains of all who are any wise given to the charms of song-to indite, in a word, those fragile, but frequently most attractive pieces, distinguished by the epithet of fugitive; and it is another to lay the scheme of an extended poem-to have in view a purposed end-to collect materials with design-to execute in mutual harmony and fitness, so that, the same spirit governing throughout, the various parts may co-operate for a common and paramount result, and not stand isolate or feebly dependent, as if in reality cast together by a "fortuitous concurrence."
The Devoted One, and Other Poems.
These remarks, we are happy to say, do not in their fulness attach to the contents of the volume before us; but are yet so far applicable, as to be at once suggested by a comparison of our author's shorter essays with the more elaborate dramatic composition which gives the title to his book. While he exhibits imagination, sentiment, phraseology, and judgment sufficient for the former, he brings, we
By Dugald Moore. Glasgow: Thomas
conceive, an obviously inadequate supply of these to his more protracted and arduous performance. We do not find therein that store of thought that depth of feeling-that diversity of diction that amount of wisdom, or that degree of inspiration which are essential to the construction, animation, and adornment of a composition that looks so high as the Devoted One. Impressive passages, striking configurations, and vigorous language are often to be met with; but the relative, as well as the separate, character of the parts of any writing is to be considered, and when power is not sustained, but often stands side by side with feebleness-when merit is, ever and again, marred by the contiguity of worthlessness-and when the same ideas, invested in nearly the same language, are with undue frequency pressed into the service, the reader's temper is too prone to deny the existence of both the former, and to meet with indifference the well-worn and too familiar aspects of the latter. The play is one of that class which is limited to the study, and was never written, we presume, with a view to its representation, so remote from reality are many of its incidents, and so little influenced by art its disposition. It discards every thing like compactness or symmetry of structure, consisting, in fact, of a series of occurrences devoid of unity of aim, affecting successively three different characters, who respectively take the lead in the three different and integral acts into which the composition is distributed.
The Devoted One (Bertha) terminates her career under the sacrificial knife, with the first scene of the second act; her lover (Cathul) then takes up the part of hero, and occupies the foreground till the end of the same, when he declines into inaction and insignificance; and the third, the remaining portion of the piece, is appropriated to Boadicea, who, heretofore a minor accessory, is now advanced to prominence, and principally sustains the drama until its tragic termination.
As thus, in the plot, it appears the author allows himself ample latitude, so, in the subordinate conduct and colouring, he is not a whit the less disposed to overleap the bounds which a moderate regard to descriptive accuracy and consistency of keeping would prescribe. He thus introduces, as it were, hap-hazard, a commixture of creeds-Druidic, Gothic, and Judaic
a confusion of customs, and a style of intercourse and demeanour which would assuredly provoke the malison of an antiquary, properly so called, if any of that testy race should chance to read it. The repeated invocations of Lucifer, and reference to his expulsion and his doom-the introduction of the Gothic idol, Odin, as the object of Druidical worship-the pompous descriptions of the plumed and steel-clad hosts of Britain, &c. furnish obvious instances; while with respect to those other points of propriety, the observance of which is certainly no mean merit, though their neglect may be a venial error, we find frequent perver sions of the cardinal doctrine and ceremonial of the Druids-witness the characters surrounded with circumstances to which we cannot but remember they were altogether strangers, and hear them deliver themselves in a strain which, however it might suit the nineteenth century, ill consists with our conceptions of those dark and distant times. With regard to difficult and barassing conjunctures, and not a few such occur, the author evinces but little foresight to avoid, and, what is worse, but little labour or ingenuity to extricate himself from the perplexities in which he has been heedlessly involved. These arise partly from the defective basis of the play, and partly from a hasty acquiescence in his first suggestions as to the sentiment and incident, without sufficient apprehension of their bearings.
The sudden transition of the veteran Ulgar, on hearing his daughter's doom, from being, one moment, a god-like chief, to being, in the next, a drivelling dotard, is felt at once to be a rude and hasty expedient to evade the expenditure of thought and device which a more natural procedure would have imposed. The momentary resurrection of Cathul, likewise, after so long a withdrawal from the scene, to consummate the fate of the traitor Luell, with his immediate relapse into the embrace of death, bears an exceedingly inartificial and make-shift character; and, in the protracted exhibition at the witch's cave, the aggregation of ghostly monstrosities presented to us is obviously gratuitous untowardly appearing, as they do, without being summoned, and then ridiculously vanishing like a herd of frightened schoolboys, at the production of the old hag's switch, without having contributed an iota to any submitted purpose.