Page images

The cloudless, “purely bright” eyes, the heart manifests. It is in this particular that grief less brow, and the “light heart," con- the songs of Burns excel; in the true spirit, vey the whole idea of her of whom such is embodying what rushes to every mind, and said, even as the mariner can prophesy the entrapping as an illustration to his main obday or the morrow by the sky signs of the ject every little occurrence, making every dawn or the evening. Here is another verse thing and all things subservient to his occafrom the “Melodies,” which always struck sion. The song we have quoted is a beauus as inexpressibly beautiful, and which one tiful burst of affection and passionate pride. could linger over by the hour. It tells a The opening line is excessively musical ; it whole history of literary life, and its truth is bounds with conscious joy, and almost read in all literary biography:

suggests a tune. The amplification of the

praises of her Willie in the three succeed“Though the bard to purer fame may soar, When wild youth's past;

ing lines is most natural, showing the delight Though he win the wise, who frown'd before,

with which the maiden singer loves to dwell To smile at last;

on the appearance of her beloved, and her He'll never meet

connecting with his “bounding step” and A joy so sweet,

“bonnie blue e'e," all the love, hope, and In all his noon of fame, As when first he sung to woman's ear

joy which her natural and maiden pride His soul-felt flame,

suggests to her mind as the beau-ideal of a And at every close, she blush'd to hear young lovable hero. Every true woman The one loved name.”

thinks thus, and associates with the object of

her love all the manhood and hope and bliss These quotations carry out our idea of which it is possible for her mind to imsong-writing. We have a very sweet song before us varies woman's love. The more a woman

agine. It is this power of idealizing which which we do not remember to have ever thinks her lover is, the more heroic, the met in print. We have looked through more manly he is to her notion, the more several volumes which we thought likely to intense is her affection for him. The true contain it, but in vain have we sought a soul of woman finds congenial labor here. clue to its authorship. We have taken it What woman could love a coward! This down from the recitation of a lady who sings it, and who recollects it from child- faculty and feeling it must be which prohood. We have applied to several literary love.

duces the great likeness between those who friends for information as to its parentage, idealize a noble man, and the man to appre

For a woman must be noble to but without finding any more than we knew ciate the feelings and grandeur of such a ourself. Here is the foundling :

woman must have the true soul actuating "Oh! thou art the lad of my heart, Willie! and guiding him—a soul capable of unThere's love, and there's

hope, and there's glee, derstanding and participating in noble acThere's love and there's joy in thy bounding step, tions.

And there's bliss in thy bonny blue e'el But, oh! how my heart was torn, Willie;

“But, oh! how my heart was torn, Willie,” For little I e'er thought to see That the lad who won the lasses all

and concluding lines of the first stanza, preShould ever be won by me!

sent a beautiful insight to the maiden's " But of vows 80 soft as thy vows, Willie,

heart, and is the most natural turn of Oh! who would not like me be proud I

thought to the preceding. Having won Come down, come down, sweet lark, and see, him, she thinks back to the time her heart Come down frae thy echoing cloud;

was torn with doubt and despair, and shows Come down frae thy cloud, and tell to thy mate,- that strong silent love so characteristic of a

But tell to thy mate alone,
Thou hast found a maid whose heart of love

deep-seated affection. Her modesty, too, Was merry and light as thine own!”

in fearing competition with the other

maidens, tells a whole heart-history. The The chief beauty of this song, and it is a contrast of her present the more forcibly true song, is its naturalness—the spontaneity makes her think of the past, and the amwith which it bursts forth. There is no art plification of the joy in the opening is the in its composition at all as regards metre, more natural on this very account, for she yet the contrasts have all the art which true l has had her sorrow:

“Oh! how my heart was torn, Willie; rough, but always natural. He knew no For little I e'er thought to see

rules but those of his heart, and wrote as it That the lad who won the lasses all Should ever be won by me!”

dictated, because he couldn't help it. Stop

from writing? He could no more do it than In the opening of the second stanza she Bacchus could stop from drinking. He recurs to his vows and to the pride they should sing as well as breathe. To him was should naturally entail on her, keeping in given another power of vitality, not often mind that he who “won the lasses all” was consigned to man. Singing was necessary now hers alone. The break-off in the third to his life, although it indirectly caused his line, with an apostrophe to the Jark, to us death. Now this looks paradoxical, reader, appears most natural, and is one of those but it is not so. In Burns we often find real (can we say !) tricks of application which humor, oftener ludicrousness. He possessed love makes for the heightening of its own a deep nature-gift of knowledge of character, purpose. She implores the lark to come and could pierce to the heart of humanity, down, that she might compare her own love join in the undertone of its inborn melody, with the love of its mate for him, as pure take up its minutest pulses, and convey their and joyous. The maidenhood of the ex- throbbings and feelings to his fellow-men. pression in the line,

He was wild, too, and gloriously uncouth,

but in all he was thoroughly national, and, “ But tell to thy mate alone,

for those days of hypocrisy and mask, unnatis very suggestive, and conveys all the urally natural, and always enthusiastically modesty and silent-love characteristics in earnest. spoken of before in connection with the George H. Colton, the author of "Tefifth line of the first stanza. “Tell to thy cumseh,” and one of the original projectors mate alone," as she would tell her Willie. and editors of this Review, was a critic of Her love is alone for him, and needs be told remarkably acute and sensitive appreciation. to no other; and conscious of being beloved An intimate friend of his, now at our elbow, in return, she is as “merry and light” as and to whom we have been reading our the lark's mate, cleaving with its loving essay, interrupts us to tell an anecdote wings the congenial sky of heaven. In our which, as it is characteristic of Colton, illusopinion it is a very beautiful song, and trates the power of Burns, and agrees percarries out our idea of the song proper, in fectly with our ideas of the epic suggestiveits spontaneity, heart, and suggestiveness. ness of a song, we insert here. Colton had We have before alluded to its inartistic a tender and sympathetic perception for the qualities; they are evident. It may be beautiful and the pathetic, and it appears he that the memory of the lady from whom never could repeat the well-known lines of we have it has dropped some words and in- Burns, troduced others, but we rather give the song “Had we never loved sae kindly, as we have it than alter it. It is most Had we never loved sae blindiy, likely, however, that it stands on our page

Never met and never parted,

We had ne'er been broken-hearted,” as it was written, with some very trivial difference, and we should think it between without tears coming to his eyes. These half a century and seventy years old. lines were favorites of Colton's, and on re

The directness, uniqueness, heart, and sug- peating them once to our friend, he remarked gestiveness which we idealize as the combina- with exceeding truth that they were among tion necessary to the being of a song, will the finest lines he knew, and concluded be found to be present in the works of those thus epigrammatically : “ In those four lines lyrists who hold on the public ear; those we have a play of Shakspeare's or a novel who live through the fashionable season, and of Walter Scott's !” Scott, himself a who make for the reception of their thought wizard, and than whom none could better all seasons fashionable. Look to the three understand their suggestiveness, said of greatest lyrists of our time, perhaps of any these same lines, that they contained the time, Moore, Burns, and Béranger, and we essence of a thousand love romances. We find in them all those elements we contend had not the pleasure of Colton's acquaintfor. Burns's great quality is his thorough ance, but from this conversational remark candor, heart, and humor. He is often it is plain we should have agreed as to the necessity of the song proper. These four both the Scotch and Irish bards, he is

very lines contain an epic-many epics in their sarcastic when he has an opportunity, and suggestions. They are simple, spontaneous, deals heavy blows, and leaves life-scars on strong, pathetic, and present the wildering the objects of his wrath. He is very sugstory with the nervous completeness of con- gestive, and his unity is a great feature in his density that such an experience would con- songs; being written with some certain purvey most naturally to the heart of a true, pose, they give a daguerreotype which sugsorrowing lover.

gests the time, influence, or person, under Moore, as a lyrist, is far the most perfect and whose inspiration he wrote. Republican brilliant we can name; and it is as a lyrist France is the pole to which his soul has been he will flow over the rapids and cataracts of magnetized, and he has kept his head, hand Time undisturbed. For Time's old stream and heart firmly in that direction through all does not always flow smoothly, O reader. vicissitudes, storms, and prison windows. He It has its whirlpools and cataracts : we all is always in earnest, and the arrows of his witnessed one of the latter, nor long since Cupid are as sharp as his freedom-seeking either—'48. Time worked itself to fever lance. He is honest, daring, natural, and heat then. It roared till we almost thought national, bounding with heart and good-huit had changed its voice for aye. The old mor. We rarely meet a translation of one sinner abated, thinking he had cried enough of his songs to come up with our idea of him, for his misdeeds, but left an echo to perform they are so difficult of English rendering by that which he needs must have left unwept the localisms, idiosyncrasies, and naïveté of for, and which thunders in his wake like the the author. The best, we might say the haunting conscience of a great crime. Moore only really characteristic translations we will outlive those cataracts, and lull the old have met, are those by Dr. Maginn, Father man's wrath. Moore's power of language is Prout, (Rev. F. Mahony,) and William Dowe: exceeding; he strikes the finest chords of these are to be found only in Fraser's, the feeling by a word, and enraptures by a well- Dublin University, and lately Sartain's pointed metaphor: we speak especially of Magazines. Why not Dowe make a collechis songs. His periods curl as gracefully as tion ** the whitened locks of sea-foam coming near The songs of such poets as we have alluded a coast when a gay land-breeze kisses them; to live in the future as traditions and family they wave and sparkle like diamonds. The legends. The first airs that lullaby the occuconstruction of his songs is perfection; his pant of the cradle, they will grow with the wit brilliant, and suiting its place and oppor- child up through his youth and manhood as tunity as the flowers the seasons. When he a part of him; and though he never had the rises into a purely national feeling, his emo-books, or knew how even to read if he had tions are strong and nervous, embodying the them, he shall be haunted by the song as spirit of his land, its sorrow, glory, or gal- his good or evil genius, the star under which lantry. He is musical beyond compare, and he was born. He shall leave it to his children tender to blessedness. His pathos is of a as a legacy, and to his children's children refined and exquisite nature, those lyrics, to shall croon it in the chimney-corner, or under wit, “Oh, breathe not his name;" “Has the Liberty-trees or hawthorns of his own sorrow thy young days shaded ?" “ The Harp youthhood. The songs of Haynes Bailey that once through Tara's Halls ;” and a crowd of others which cling to the reader's memory. His deviltry is rather impish following paragraph, which, even more literally

* Since writing the above, we have met the than diabolic, and his Bacchanalian songs than we could have imagined, carries out our idea are decidedly intoxicating, if not in them of the suggestiveness of the true song. The Paris selves intoxicated. He is a true minstrel, in correspondent of the London Literary Gazette his wit, wassail, war, and women.

writes: “ Within the last few months the world.

renowned . Lisette,' the 'Grandmère,'• Roger BonBéranger, without Moore's finish, has more temps, and I know not how many other of Bé style than Burns, with all the latter's natu- ranger's exquisite songs, have been transformed ralness. He is boisterous, humorsome, witty, into plays; and this week, there have been 'La pointed in a like degree, and possesses a cer

Gotton' spun out into five acts, and ‘La Bouquetain forcible pith, born of his undying polit- Burns's lines is made a fact, as regards the for

tière et le Croque-Mort.'” Colton's remark on ical zeal, which is perfectly electric. Like I tunate French lyrist.



“Split my


and Thomas Dibdin, and others of their class,
possess a “rage" for a time, owing to some " Oft, when a careless child,
accident of tune or fashion ; but they fall

Beneath its shade I've heard

The wood-notes sweet and wild like the leaves of autumn, and are whizzed out of existence with the season and the last

Of many a forest bird;

My mother kiss'd me here, soirée. Bailey's songs are pretty—no more.

My father press'd my band : Who reads them now, notwithstanding their

I ask thee with a tear once great popularity? No one, save sen

To let that old oak stand. timental young ladies, and gentlemen who try to torture themselves into what they call

“ That old familiar tree, affection, as they would torture them into

Whose glory and renown corsets and paddings. And where are Dib- Are spread o'er land and sea, din's now? Where where, but consigned

Say, wouldst thou back it down? to the lurching and “heave-ahead," red

Woodman, forbear thy stroke,

Touch not its earth-bound ties; faced and big-whiskered fellow in clean white

Oh! spare that aged oak trousers and blue jacket edged with tape,

Now towering to the skies." who “does” the very nautical business behind the foot-lights of the minor theatres of We quote from memory. Here is CampLondon? “Out on the lazy land-lubbers !” bell's : taffrail !” “Shiver timbers !"

“Oh! leave this barren spot to me! and then out comes the ghost of poor Dib- Spare, wondman, spare the beechen tree! din, to the delight of the “gods” and other Though shrub [bush) nor floweret never grow admirers of the "Mariners of England," and My wan (dark) unwarming shade below; to the disquiet of poor Tom's ghost, no

Nor summer bud perfume the dew doubt, (if he has one.) These songs for the

Of rosy blush, or yellow hue ;

Nor fruits of autumn, blossom-born, most part lacked nature; they were painted

My green and glossy leaves adorn; for theatric representation, like an accompa- Nor murmuring tribes from me derive nying scene. They wanted heart, truth, and Th'ambrosial treasures of the hive;

Yet leave this little spot to me: earnestness, and so went the ways of hypo

Spare, woodman, spare the beechen tree ! crisy.

Some of the songs of George P. Morris “ Thrice twenty summers I have seen, and Charles Fenno Hoffman are catching

The sky grow bright, the forest green;

And many a wintry wind have stood and exceedingly pretty, but they want that

In bloomless, fruitless solitude, “no uncommon want," earnestness. They Since childhood in my rustling [pleasant] bower are exceedingly musical, those of the latter First spent its sweet and sportive hour ; especially; but that thorough heart and Since youthful lovers in my shade

Their vows of truth and rapture paid (made ;] spontaneity so requisite to the song is in gen

And on my trunk's surviving frame eral wanting. Poe says that “ Woodman, Carved many a long-forgotten name. spare that Tree" is enough to make Morris Oh! by the vows (sighs) of gentle sound immortal. We admire the song for a cer

First breathed upon this sacred ground; tain amount of pathetic tenderness in it, and

By all that Love has whispered here,

Or Beauty heard with ravishd ear ; for its suggestiveness of a story. At the As Love's own altar honor me: same time we must admit that the author

Spare, woodman, spare the beechen tree 12* took more than a hint from Thomas Campbell's “ Beech Tree's Petition.” It is worth

The ideas in both are identical, and the reading the two side by side :

burden expressed in each nearly word for word. The feelings of the first naturally grow out of those expressed in the latter,

and are only different in being put into the “ Woodman, spare that tree, Touch not a single bough;

* The lines italicized were emendations of the In youth it shelter'd me,

author, and appear in the edition of 1841. The And I'll protect it now.

earlier editions had them not; and on looking at 'Twas my forefather's hand

the edition of 1851, Philadelphia, we perceive that That placed it near his cot:

in the emended form are also five verbal alterations O woodman! spare that tree,

in the poem, which we have given in brackets after The axe shall harm it not.

the original text.


[ocr errors]

which opens :

[ocr errors]

mouth of a female, while Campbell made Graham, “ The Dream of Love," the openthe tree itself “ petition” for its life. ing runs thus : The following verses by Morris are full of

“I've had the beart-ache many times, beauty, and worthy the praise which they At the mere mention of a name;" have met with :

which immediately reminds us that Halleck “ Where Hudson's wave o'er silvery sands

wrote thus :
Winds through the hills afar,
Old Crow-nest like a monarch stands, “ I've felt full many a heart-ache in my day,
Crowned with a single star.

At the mere rustling of a muslin gown," etc.; And there, amid the billowy swells

Of rock-ribbed, cloud-capped earth, and Mrs. Osgood thus :
My fair and gentle Ida dwells,
A nymph of mountain birth.”

“ Whenever his name is heard,

Her young heart thrills; Fit dwelling for the "fair and gentle Ida." Forgetting herself, her duty, The metaphor of the "billowy swells" of

Her dark eye fills," etc. the hills is the more perfectly carried out by

In the same stanzas of Morris we have : the expression of the

" Her gentle look and winning ways, Nymph of mountain birth."

Whose portrait hangs on Memory's walls ;" The next verse is rather diffuse in rhetorical expletives and wanting in heart, but is reminding us of Alice Carey's sweet poem, nevertheless pretty :“ The snow-flake that the cliff receives

“ Among the beautiful pictures The diamonds of the showers

That hang on Memory's wall.
Spring's tender blossoms, buds and leaves

A little farther down Morris says:
The sisterhood of flowers
Morn's early beam—eve's balmy breeze

“They little know the human heart,
Her purity define ;-

Who think such love with time expires :
But Ida's dearer far than these

Once kindled, it will ne'er depart,
To this fond breast of mine.'

But burn through life with all its fires ;" This second stanza wants passion and which seems a dilution of Tom Moore's more unity. The melody of the lines is intercepted by the disjointed construction

“ The heart that once truly loves never forgets, the dashes (-). This description of con

But as truly loves on to the close." struction is often very effective, and produces If we wished to be obtrusive, we might strength, but every word should heighten call many more such “coincidences,” but in character and force to achieve such an simple justice to the authors (four) demands end. It is very dangerous in lyrical com- our giving these notes to Mr. Morris's composition to deal in the dash style. In the pilation in this instance. fifth line, “ Morn's early beam

Hoffman's “Sparkling and Bright" is a rough: the two consonants r come together hearty and melodious production. In the too closely, and produce a stumble in the Anacreontic vein, here are two stanzas by course of the metre, as well as an unpleas- Rufus Dawes, which have spirit and some antness to the ear. The line should read,

pleasant conceit:Dawn's early beam-eve's balmy breeze;"

“ Mark this cup of rosy wine, and it would be perfect at all points. Such

With virgin pureness deeply blushing ; ;

Beauty pressed it from the vine, a difference is by no means slight. Singers While Love stood by to charm its gushing. know well the happiness of words which He who dares to drain it now may be articulated clearly and with ease.

Shall drink such bliss as seldom gladdens;

The Moslem's dream Mr. Morris seems to be a communist in

Would joyless seem the way of verses, for we find among his To him whose brain its rapture paddens. compositions many ideas and expressions of some of our favorites, which he appropriates

“ Pleasure sparkles on the brim;

Lethe lies far deeper in it; without the credit of quotation marks or

Both, enticing, wait for him foot-notes. In a late production of his in Whose heart is warm enough to win it.

is very

« PreviousContinue »