Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

Lockhart's Life of Scott must rank as the most valuable book of the age; a similar variety of important topics has not been presented to the public since the publication of Boswell. We have the threefold picture of the Man, the Poet, and the Novelist, distinguished in either point as one of the most remarkable characters of his times. Either, too, presents a picture which we cannot but look upon with pleasure and admiration. In Lockhart's life we have the smallest traits of the man and the author set down with a fidelity and zeal more anxious to throw the illustrious subject into the foreground than, with some biographers, to make himself the hero. It is just such a life as we wanted of so great a man; where, in his letters and journals, he is always suffered to speak for himself; and, where he has "made no sign," a private anecdote of his fireside, or the recollection of his friends, supplies the deficiency. Every where it is Scott who speaks or acts. The materials are mostly new. Besides a great mass of correspondence, we have journals and diaries, the character of which we need not endorse, when we allude to them as a private transcript of the author's mind. The Journey of a two-months' voyage to the Shetland Isles occupies a large portion of the third volume. This also includes a melancholy account of his pecuniary difficulties with the Ballantynes. The fourth volume brings the reader to the height of the interest, in the successive publication of the Waverley Novels in the days of the Great Unknown. It was at this period that Lockhart became acquainted with Scott, and his circle at Edinburgh and Abbotsford; and is thus enabled to place before us in full view the novelist as his character was developed both by success and difficulty in that crowded period of his life. The interest of the narrative, now that the author draws from his own recollections, greatly increases. This volume concludes with the appearance of the Monastery in 1820.

The American reprint before us is a fair octavo, published simultaneously with the volumes of the English edition. The fifth volume is announced by Cadell, the Edinburgh bookseller, for the first of October.

3. The New-York Book of Poetry. NEW-YORK: George Dearborn. 1837.

THIS is a worthy attempt to rescue from oblivion many miscellaneous poems which, with their full share of excellence, were in danger of perishing with the loose fragmentary litera

ture of the day. In this age of prolific writers, the author must number his long shelf of works to obtain a rank among his contemporaries. With Scott and his century of volumes, Southey, the most bookful of Laureates,' and the fertility of Bulwer, James, and Marryatt, the minor poets must be cared for, or their simple flowerets will pass unnoticed among these many-leaved trees of the forest. A scrap of good verse, indeed, is not to be lost in these times so barren of the Muses; and we thank the Editor and Publisher for the many such collected in the present volume. It is an anthology worth the preservation.

We are pleased to meet with a few specimens of our favourite writers, Drake and Sands: a word in their praise is never unseasonable, for we have scarcely yet learnt to entertain a proper esteem for our own native authors. It is not a little to our credit, that of late years America has produced some of the most finished minor poems in the language. Halleck, Drake, and Bryant are in every sense classic writers. In well-proportioned design and execution their works are wholly distinct from the rude, unfinished attempts so generally prevalent. If their popularity is secondary at present, it will be permanent hereafter. A single felicitous couplet has ere now outlived an inventive and laboured epic; and though these authors have written but little, a slight acquaintance with English poetry will remind us that many of its best reputations depend upon a very few successful efforts-multum magisquam multa. Dryden is best known by his Ode to St. Cecilia; Prior is only read for his short tales; while Gray and Goldsmith, who are really popular, least of all wrote in folios.

Poor Drake, with Sands and Lawrence, fell an early victim: it is difficult to say what the maturer powers of these would not have accomplished. Sands's Proem to Yamoyden is a vigorous specimen of verse closely written and harmonious.

INVOCATION.

Friend of my youth, with thee began the love
Of sacred song; the wont, in golden dreams,
'Mid classic realms of splendours past to rove,
O'er haunted steep, and by immortal streams;
Where the blue wave, with sparkling bosom gleams
Round shores, the mind's eternal heritage,
For ever lit by Memory's twilight beams;
Where the proud dead, that live in storied page,
Beckon, with awful port, to glory's earlier age.-p. 87.

When are we to have a complete edition of the poetry of Sands and his friend Eastburn? From Dr. Eastburn's late oration at the semi-centennial anniversary of Columbia College, we know there are rich treasures yet in reserve, which should not be withheld.

Drake's fancy was active and sparkling, as in the Culprit Fay; while his numbers possessed a tuneful flow that, sometimes turning a pretty conceit, reminds us of Sir John Suckling :

INCONSTANCY.

BY J. R. DRAKE.

Yes! I swore to be true, I allow,

And I meant it, but, some how or other,
The seal of that amorous vow

Was pressed on the lips of another.

Yet I did but as all would have done;

For where is the being, dear cousin,
Content with the beauties of one

When he might have the range of a dozen?

Young love is a changeable boy,

And the gem of the sea-rock is like him,
For he gives back the beams of his joy

To each sunny eye that may strike him.

From a kiss of a zephyr and rose

Love sprang in an exquisite hour,
And fleeting and sweet, heaven knows,
Is this child of a sigh and flower.

Drake's poem of Bronx is a delightful piece of this description, with more than one line of strength and power. This stanza is perfect :

The breeze fresh springing from the lips of morn,
Kissing the leaves, and sighing so to lose 'em,

The wing of the merry locusts' horn,

The giad spring gushing from the rock's bare bosom: Sweet sights, sweet sounds, all sights, all sounds excelling, Oh! 'twas a ravishing spot formed for a poet's dwelling. p. 123.

The Thoughts of a Student, which leads the van of this light-armed corps poetical, is a favourable specimen of Lawrence, whose erect frame and animated look seem to have been with us but yesterday. We should entitle this,

VOL. I.-NO. II.

57

THE POET'S APOLOGY.

Many a sad, sweet thought have I,
Many a passing, sunny gleam,
Many a bright tear in mine eye,

Many a wild and wandering dream,
Stolen from hours I should have tied
To musty volumes by my side,
Given to hours that sweetly wooed
My heart from its study's solitude.-p. 1.

The author-Edward Sanford-of the Address to Black Hawk' and the Address to a Musquito,' has a fine taste in finished playful verse and ingenious thought. C. F. Hoffman has many elegant trifles scattered up and down the volume. George P. Morris, too, has an excellent knack at verse in his way; a light, easy rhyme, or an epilogue for theatres. Washington Irving also takes his rank among the Poets, by a kind of courtesy we presume, on Parnassus, for the charming lines he has written in prose. The Falls of the Passaic, however, is not so delicate or appropriate to his happy genius as the little gem of the Dull Lecture, which is redolent of the careless piquancy of the olden song. We give it, though it has been omitted in the present collection.

THE DULL LECTURE.

BY WASHINGTON IRVING.

Frostie age, frostie age

Vain all thy learning!
Drowsie page, drowsie page,
Evermore turning.

Young heade no love will heede,"

Young heart's a recklesse rover,
Young beautie, while you reade,

Sleeping dreams of absent lover.

A visit from St. Nicholas, by Clement C. Moore, is one of the most appropriate passages of the New-York Book.

THE SAINT OF MANNAHATTA.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook, when he laugh'd, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump; a right jolly old elf;
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.

p. 219.

These lines have lately been illustrated by Weir's painting of St. Nicholas, where we have the very impersonation, the second self, of the jolly Saint, with his happy Dutch visnomy, full of broad enjoyment, twinkling grey eyes, expanded mouth, and warm rubicund nose-a more lumbering Dutch Puck or Robin Goodfellow, just ascending the chimney after his humorsome labours, while the scripture tiles round the fireplace and rich oak mantel throw a ruddy light on this worthy representative of the Russian Calendar.

Not less pleasing, though in another way, a thoughtful melancholy mood, are the Lines 'To a Lady,' From a Father to his Children,' From a Husband to his Wife,' by the same hand. They combine a ripeness of feeling with an ease of versification that might profitably have been employed on wider subjects. With the Father's reverie from the last-mentioned of these poems we conclude our notice.

A HUSBAND TO HIS WIFE.

The dreams of Hope that round us play,
And lead along our early youth,
How soon, alas! they fade away

Before the sober rays of Truth.
And yet there are some joys in life

That Fancy's pencil never drew;
For Fancy's self, my own dear wife,
Ne'er dreamt the bliss I owe to you.

*

*

*

Hope comes, with balmy influence fraught,
To heal the wound that rends my heart,
Whene'er it meets the dreadful thought

That all our earthly ties must part.

Bless'd hope, beyond earth's narrow space,
Within high Heaven's eternal bound,
Again to see your angel face,

With all your cherubs clustering round.
Reflected images are seen

Upon this transient stream of Time,
Through mists and shades that intervene,
Of things eternal and sublime.

« ÎnapoiContinuă »