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Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried;
O'er the grave where our hero we buried.
• Few and short were the prayers we said,
But we steadfastly gaz'd on the face that was dead,
No useless coffin enclos'd his breast,
Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him;
< We thought, as we hollow'd his narrow bed,
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,
• But half of our heavy task was done,
When the clock struck the hour for retiring;'
Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
It is impossible not to think of Horace :
Pulchraque, et exactis minimum distantia, miror;
It is, however, hardly fair, nor, indeed, would it be worth while, to criticize, minutely, volumes published under such circumstances. We would rather direct our attention to whatever is really meritorious in the work.
The following song, written to the touching and beautiful Irish air of Gramachree, appears to us exquisitely tender. Mr. Russell
REV. AUG. 1825.
Mr. Russell thinks it is impossible to read them without tears. Let the reader judge..
The following is of a sprightlier mood. It is in the difficult metre of the Lines on Sir John Moore, the management of which Mr. Wolfe appears to have perfectly possessed.
Oh my love has an eye of the softest blue,
Yet it was not that that won me;
But a little bright drop from her soul was there,
I might have pass'd that lovely cheek,
Nor, perchance, my heart have left me;
But the sensitive blush that came trembling there,
I might have forgotten that red, red lip -
< Think not 'tis nothing but lifeless clay, —
'Let me not hear the Nightingale sing,
Who could blame had I loved that face, Ere my eye could twice explore her; Yet, it is for the fairy intelligence there, And her warm warm heart I adore her.' There is a great deal of good sense in Mr. Wolfe's remarks upon religious poetry.
‹‹‹**** The poems upon which you desire my opinion seem
to be the production of a truly spiritual mind, a mind deeply exercised in experimental religion, which sees every object through a pure and holy medium, and turns every thing it contemplates into devotion. But their very excellence, in this respect, seems, in the present instance, to constitute their leading defect. Their object, if I understand it aright, is to make popular music a channel by which religious feeling may be diffused through society; and thus, at the same time, to redeem the national music from the profaneness and licentiousness to which it has been prostituted. As to the first object: the natural language of a spiritual man, which would remind one of the like spirit of much of his internal experience, would be not only uninteresting, but absolutely unintelligible to the generality of mankind. He speaks of hopes and fears, of pleasures and pains, which they could only comprehend by having previously felt them. "You remember that it is said of the new song that was sung before the throne' that no man could learn that song, save those that were redeemed from the earth; and, therefore, it often happens, that those who best understand that music, are more intelligible to heavenly than earthly beings: they are often better understood by angels than by men. The high degree of spirituality which they have attained often renders it not only painful but impossible to accommodate themselves to the ordinary feelings of mankind. They cannot stoop even though it be to conquer. To the world, their effusions are in an unknown language. In fact, they often take for granted the very work to be done: they presuppose that communion of feeling and unity of spirit between themselves and the world, which it is their primary obCc 2
ject to produce; and when they do not produce this effect, they may even do mischief; for the spontaneous language of a religious mind is (generally speaking) revolting to the great mass of society they shrink from it, as they do from the Bible.
"Just consider all the caution, the judgment, and the skill requisite in order to introduce religion profitably into general conversation, and then you may conceive what will be the fate of a song, to which a man has recourse for amusement, and which he expects will appeal to his feelings, when he finds it employed on a subject to which he has not learnt to attach any idea of pleasure, and which speaks to feelings he never experienced. It is on this account I conceive that a song intended to make religion popular should not be entirely of a religious cast, that it should take in as wide a range as any other song, should appeal to every passion and feeling of our nature not in itself sinful, should employ all the scenery, the imagery and circumstance of the songs of this world, while religion should be indirectly introduced, or delicately insinuated. I think we shall come to the same conclusion, if we consider the reformation of the national music as the primary object. The predominant feelings excited and expressed by our national airs, however exquisitely delightful, are manifestly human; and it is evident that in order to do them justice we must follow the prevailing tone. The strain and ground-work of the words can hardly be spiritual; but a gleam of religion might be, every now and then, tastefully admitted, with the happiest effect. But indeed it appears so difficult, that in the whole range of poetry there does not occur to me at present an instance in which it has been successfully executed. The only piece which I now recollect as at all exemplifying my meaning is Cowper's Alexander Selkirk,' beginning, I am monarch of all I survey,' which I believe has never been set to music. It is not professedly religious; nay, the situation, the sentiments and the feelings are such as the commonest reader can, at once, conceive to be his own. It needs neither a spiritual man, nor a poet, nor a man of taste, or of education, to enter into immediate sympathy with him it is not until the fourth stanza (after he has taken possession of his reader) that he introduces a religious sentiment, to which, however, he had been gradually ascending; and even then accompanies and recommends it with what may, perhaps, be called the romantic and picturesque of religion, the sound of the church-going bell,' &c. He then appears to desert the subject altogether, and only returns to it (as it were) accidentally, but, with what beauty and effect in the last four lines.'
The author probably would have also instanced the beautiful Scotch ballad, "I'm wearing awa', John," if it had occurred to his memory. — Ed.'
In the course of the volume we are informed that Mr. Wolfe was a distinguished member of the Historical Society,a debating club in Trinity-College, Dublin, which has been suppressed since his time. It was an institution of very questionable utility, as the style of poetry, eloquence and essay-composition, which was most successful in it, exhibited all the characters of the most vitiated taste. Mr. Wolfe had the honor of opening one of its sessions with a speech from the chair. Fragments of that oration are injudiciously inserted in this collection.
The Prayer to Sleep,' which, as Mr. Russell remarks, was erroneously attributed, in Blackwood's Magazine, to the author of the Lines on Sir John Moore, is really by Professor Wilson of Edinburgh, and is contained in the second volume of his poems, lately collected. It is odd that such a mistake should have been made,
ART. V. An Inquiry into the present State of the Civil Law of England. By John Miller, Esq., of Lincoln's Inn. pp. 533. 18s. Murray, Albemarle-Street; and Hunter, BellYard. 1825.
GREAT and silent revolutions — revolutions in principle distinguish the time in which we live. Our leading public men have been bred up amid the toils of a protracted war, abounding in difficulties which demanded all their energies, and habituated their minds to gigantic operations. Called upon to resolve, as a quick succession of emergencies would permit, few of them, fortunately for the country, have had time left to imbue themselves with the prejudices of former ages, or to train themselves to a servile admiration of those deformities which encumber the fabric of our constitution. When the excitement of the war subsided, minds thus formed naturally applied themselves to the examination of those principles of political economy, upon which the country had acted for centuries without any change. It was soon found that the intellect and enterprize of the community had outgrown many of those antiquated principles, and that new interests had arisen, which sought a wider sphere of action. Novel doctrines (the beneficial effects of which had been occasionally proved, during the anarchy which had so long vexed Europe,) were seen emerging from the confusion, like morning from the womb of night, and all that remained to be done was to acknowlege their utility, and to adapt them to our institutions.