« AnteriorContinuar »
would be appropriate enough in a per- cious hour of sweet and secret love, son going to sleep; but, in one “ expi. seems to us to indicate both " ring,” it is never needed, and not often and sensibility," and the premature attempted. The figure of Death thus anticipation of dawn, from a fitful presented to us, in a scene of peace and effulgence of the wading moon, is joy, is incongruous and painful. both graphically and poetically plea
We would further observe, with re. sing. Have we not, in the highest ference to this song, that Mr Thom- poetry, the same subject handled in a son's usual censorial powers seem to somewhat similar, though it may be have been lulled into a slumber when in a superior style, as superior as the he allowed it to pass without question. genius of Shakspeare over that of all Mr Thomson is as vigilant as a kirk- other men ? And shall we not admire session to discover any impropriety of the reflection, in our own homely and conduct, or even to entertain a fama nameless minstrel, of the same burning in the case of the heroes and heroines spirit tbat gave birth to the doubts of the older songs; and it is surprising and delusions of Juliet and her lover, that he should not have perceived the when fearfully watching the approach suspicious position of “Dainty Davie” of dawn, and avaricious of every moand his female admirer. They cer- ment that the night would grant them? tainly do not appear to be residing The mistake in the one case is in the together as married persons, otherwise cock, in giving warning 'too soon; in there would be no occasion for their the other, it is in the fond lover refrequent assignations on the “ warlock fusing to believe a warning that was knowe;" and, therefore, the lady's
fly- almost too late. But a parallel being to her Davie's arms, when “ Day tween the situations is, to our minds, draws the curtain of Nature's rest,” is easily drawn; and in each of the rea feature in the case that “ rigour," or presentations, after its own kind and “ advice with scrupulous heed," would measure, we can admire the feeling of have pronounced to be at least as dan- tenderness and beauty which prompted gerous as most things of the kind in the poetry. the old school.
“Jul. Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet These are not scruples that would occur to ourselves, who are always It was the nightingale, and not the lark
near day : disposed to put the best construction
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine on the behaviour of young people ; but they are unanswerable objections,
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate as against Mr Thomson, who carried his views so far as to pronounce the
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale. delightful old song of “ Saw ye my Rom. It was the lark, the herald of the father" to be both indelicate and silly.
morn, Burns was of a different opinion there No nightingale ; look, love, what envious on both points, and so are we.
The streaks strain we now refer to is old, indeed, Do lace the severing clouds in yonder and in one sense simple; but we see east: not the silliness. What is there silly Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund in the “ lassie's" bargain with the bird Day that was her only time-teller, that, if Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain he was faithful to his office,
I must begone and live ; or stay and die. “ His breast it shall be of the bonny beaten Jul. Yon light is not daylight, I know
gowd, And his wings of the silver grey ?" It is some meteor that the sun exhales,
To be to thee this pight a torch-bearer, Is the catastrophe silly, or is it And light thee on thy way to Mantua : sweetly poetical ?
Therefore, stay yet, thou need’st not to “ The cock proved fause, and untrue he
Rom. Let me be ta’en, let me be put was,
to death; For he crew an hour o'er soon :
I am content so thou wilt have it so: The lassie thought it day when she sent her love away,
I'll say yon gray is not the morning's eye, And it was but a glimpse of the moon."
'Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia's brow :
Nor that is not the lark, whose notes do A lament for the loss of one pre- beat
The vaulty heaven so high above our No more I trace the light footsteps of heads;
pleasure, I have more care to stay, than will to go; But sorrow and sad-sighing care. Come, death, and welcome ! Juliet wills
“Is it that summer's forsaken our valleys,
And grim surly winter is near ? With regard to the question of in- No, no, the bees humming round the gay delicacy, the old song of “ Saw ye
roses, my father," appears to us to have Proclaim it the pride of the year. at least as little of that blemish as the modern one of " Dainty Davie,' “ Fain would I hide what I fear to diswhich we have above considered.
cover, But why should we suspect inde- Yet long; long too well have I known, licacy where it is not necessarily All that has caused this wreck in my to be inferred ? Manners are one
bosom, thing and morals another: nor are all
Is Jenny, fair Jenny, alone. things alike blamable in different cir. cumstances. What might be very
66 Time cannot aid me, my griefs are im
mortal, hazardous and very horrible in Mr Thomson or Miss Tomkins, may, in
Nor hope dare a comfort bestow;
Come, then, enamour'd, and fond of my the case of Johnnie and Jeannie, be
anguish, safe and innocent. In the humble
Enjoyment I'll seek in my woe.” ranks of life, through all parts of the world, interviews between lovers,
In its kind, the opening of this song strong in love and in honesty, have taken is good. We are not, however, pleased place at midnight as blamelessly as at
with the strained fancy of joys “ dannoon. But, besides, if we are driven cing” in the morning to the lark's to it, why not suppose a private mar
The lines riage, as in the case of Romeo and Juliet ? Marriages are easily contract- 6. Where is the peace that awaited my ed in Scotland; and the admirable
wand'ring, judgment and speech of Sir William At evening the wild woods amung,” Scott in the Dalrymple case has put such proceedings on a footing per- are natural and touching. The sefectly secure and satisfactory, at cond and third verses are fair, though least for all the purposes of poetry, if with here and there a clumsy expresnot of practice. Evil to him who evil sion. The two last verses, we take thinks. For our part, we are willing leave to say, are about as bad as ever to go to the stake in defence of our were written. When personally infirm belief, that the conduct of Johnny troduced to the heroine of this senand his mistress in the old song, how. timental strain, we involuntarily, and ever it is to be explained, would be with more justice, exclaim with Mrs found perfectly unexceptionable if Quickly, 66 Vengeance of Jenny's we knew the whole particulars. case! fie on her, never name her!"
“ Saw ye my father,” however, was • My griefs are immortal,"_" Enanot admissible into the Thomson col- moured, and fond of my anguish,' lection; and therefore, contrary to “ Enjoyment I'll seek in my woe," Burns's own conscience and convic.
are frigid exaggerations, or absolute tion, the task was imposed on him of fustian. supplying its place by one more pure We might dwell, alas! much longer or more prudish. Let us now see on this part of our task ; but we have how that task was fulfilled :
greater pleasure in proceeding to
notice the best among those songs of “ Where are the joys I have met in the
Burns, which we consider to be wor. morning, That danced to the lark's early song ?
thy of his high genius, and of the Where is the peace that awaited my lyrical reputation which they have wand'ring,
obtained for him. We shall point out At evening the wild woods among?
in these the beauties which
us to be most solid and conspicuous; " No more a-winding the course of yon but shall not spare to animadvert also river,
on the blemishes or inequalities by And marking sweet flow'rets so fair : which their value is alloyed. We
shall divide the subjects of our consid- lities, we are unable to find a satisfaceration into three classes, though each tory answer.
We discover no prosometimes merges into the other found reflections--no soaring imagiSongs of Spirit, Songs of Tenderness, nations; we meet with nothing that and Songs of Merriment.
is not a common topic in such a No song, perhaps, has been oftener situation--nothing that is unexpectsung or quoted, or is more completely edly striking, or touching, or terrible, identified with Burns's name, than the in the images presented to us. • Address of Bruce to his Army at far as the thoughts are concerned, we Bannockburn." Though it probably question if there is any thing which a dwells in the memories of all, let schoolboy might not have introduced us lay it before our readers, and offer into a theme on such a subject; and a few observations upon its merits. probably, if he had read Galgacus's “ Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
speech in the life of Agricola, a clever Scots wham Bruce has aften led,
schoolboy might have introduced senWelcome to your gory bed,
timents which were more pointed, if Or to victory!
not more pithy. But, on the other
hand, when we look at it, not as a " Now's the day and now's the hour; composition of lofty genius or of See the front of battle low'r,
creative poetry, but as a plain and See approach proud Edward's pow'r, powerful exhortation to a patriotic Chains and slavery !
struggle, and introduced as a popular
versification of ideas suitable to so " Wha will be a traitor knave ?
great an occasion, and yet level to the Wha can fill a coward's grave ?
capacities and sympathies of all men ; Wha sae base as be a slave ?
when we observe the vigorous, manly, Let him turn and fee!
and resolute tone in which those ideas
are expressed, and the absence of any “ Wha for Scotland's king and law
thing feeble or foreign to the matter Freedom's sword will strongly draw?
at issue, we willingly pronounce it to Freeman stand, or freeman fa'?
be an admirable example of the marLet him on wi' me!
tial lyric, and a successful achieve. “ By oppression's woes and pains,
ment of a difficult and honourable By your sons in servile chains,
task. If the imaginative reader finds We will drain our dearest veins,
nothing in it which surpasses the But they shall be free!
common notions of all mankind on so
exciting a subject, the universal ap“ Lay the proud usurper low!
plause with which ordinary minds Tyrants fall in every foe ;
have received it, is at least a proof Liberty's in every blow!
that it does not in any thing fall short Let us do or die !"
of that standard. If the same ideas
have often been thought, the result of We have so often sung or mur- the experiment proves that they have mured to ourselves this impressive never, or not often, been so well exsong—we have so often heard it said pressed. and sung by others—it has so long We like as well, if not better, what been established in our imaginations Mr Thomson pleasantly calls a viveas the actual address which preceded la-bagatelle song, but which, to us, and helped to gain the battle that
appears a rather more serious affair. secured our country's independence, « Is there for honest poverty that it is with difficulty we can escape
That hangs his head, and a' that? from the engrained prepossessions The coward slave we pass him by, thus produced, and place ourselves in And dare be poor for a' that. the free and indifferent position of For a' that and a'that, liberal critics. We shall try, how- Our toils obscure, and a' that ; ever, to do so; and shall task our- The rank is but the guinea's stamp, selves to determine what is the precise The man's the gowd for a' that. degree and amount of praise to which 6. What though on hamely fare we dine, this poem is intrinsically entitled.
Wear hodden grey, and a' that ? When we hear it commended as Gie fools their silks, and knaves tbeir splendid or sublime, and enquire in wine, what particulars it exhibits those qua. A man's a man for a'that.
For a' that and a' that,
which, under proper control, are imTheir tinsel show, and a' that ;
portant elements in private independThe honest man, though e'er so poor, ence and public liberality. Is king o' men for a'that.
There is a wildness and energy in
what we are next to quote that attains “ Ye see yon birkie ca'd a lord,
to the sublime, and appears to place Wha struts, and stares, and a' that;
it very high in the scale of song-writThough hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a coof for a' that. For a' that and a' that,
“ As I stood by yon roofless tower, His riband, star, and a' that ;
Where the wa'flower scents the dewy air, The man of independent mind,
Where th' howlet mourns in her ivy bower, He looks and laughs at a' that.
And tells the midnight moon ber care. “ A king can mak'a belted knight,
66 The winds were laid, the air was still, A marquis, duke, and a' that ;
The stars they shot alang the sky; But an honest man's aboon his might,
The fox was howling on the bill,
And the distant echoing glens reply.
“ The stream adown its hazelly path, The pith o’ sense, and pride o' worth,
Was rushing by the ruin'd wa's, Are higher ranks than a' that.
Hasting to join the sweeping Nith,
Whase distant roaring swells and fa's. 6 Then let us pray, that come it mayAnd come it will for a' that-
“ The cauld blue north was streaming forth That sense and worth o'er a' the earth Her lights, wi' hissing eerie din ; May bear the gree and a' that.
Athort the lift they start and shift,
Like fortune's favours, tint as win.
By heedless chance I turned mine eyes, Shall brothers be for a' that.”
And, by the moonbeam, shook to see
A stern and stalwart ghaist arise, This is plainly written con .amore,
Attired as minstrels wont to be. and is almost perfect in its way, though it has little pretension to poetry,
“ Had I a statue been o' stane, and is as much a satire as a song.
His darin' look bad daunted me; However dangerous or destructive its
And on his bonnet graved was plain, sentiments may be in their excess or
The sacred posy-Libertie !" misapplication, they are entitled to Our next is a very favourable exreverence and sympathy, as truths ample of Burns's powers :
“ Their groves o' sweet myrtle let foreign lands reckon,
Where bright beaming summers exalt the perfume ;
Wi' the burn stealing under the lang yellow broom :
Where the blue-bell and gowan lurk lowly unseen;
A-listening the linnet, aft wanders my Jean.
" Though rich is the breeze in their gay sunny valleys,
And cauld Caledonia's blast on the wave;
What are they?—the haunt o’the tyrant and slave !
The brave Caledonian views with disdain ;
This, on the whole, is excellent; it with tears, whether at home or in disis bold and beautiful, and has thrilled tant lands. Nothing can be sweeter many thousand Scottish hearts, and in themselves, or by contrast with filled many thousand Scottish eyes what precedes them, than the lines
« Far dearer to me yon lone glen o' green Green be your woods, and fair your breckan,
flowers, Wi' the burn stealing under the lang yellow Your waters never drumlie!
There simmer first unfauld her robes,
And there the langest tarry ; But the song has faults, and those,
For there I took the last fareweel too, considerable ones. We doubt
o'my sweet Highland Mary. whether the reason assigned for loving
yon humble broom bowers," is not “ How sweetly bloom'd the gay green too exclusively confined to their con- birk, nexion with the poet's mistress. Surely How rich the hawthorn's blossom ; we prefer the glens of our native land, As underneath the fragrant shade with their broom and their breckan, I clasp'd her to my bosom! before the rich regions of the myrtle The golden hours on angel wings and orange, not merely because they Flew o'er me and my dearie ; are the haunt of a beloved woman, For dear to me, as light and life, but also because they are the home of Was my sweet Highland Mary. our fathers and kindred, the seat of knowledge and piety, the domicile of « Wi' mony a vow and lock'd embrace liberty and peace.
If it be said that Our parting was fu' tender ; “ Jean," in her character and virtues,
And pledging oft to meet again
We tore ourselves asunder : is to be regarded as the type of all
But oh! fell death's untimely frost, these excellences, we think the idea is
That nipt my flower sae early! somewhat strained and obscure. We are certain, however, that if Now green’s the sod, and cauld's the clay
That wraps my Highland Mary. this illusion was admissible in the first verse, it is poorly introduced, and
“ O pale, pale now, those rosy lips, mawkishly expressed in the conclu.
I oft hae kiss'd sae fondly ; sion of the second. The conceit of
And closed for aye the sparkling glance the free Caledonian wandering about That dwelt on me sae kindly! his mountains with only "love's willing And mould’ring now in silent dust fetters, the chains ó' his Jean," is The heart that lo'ed me dearly! equally cold and commonplace, and But still within my bosom's core wholly unsuitable to the simple and Shall live my Highland Mary." manly character which the song should sustain.
We feel this to be, indeed, admir. We are naturally led from this last able, and fresh from the heart; and song to notice some of those which if one or two blemishes occur to us in are more exclusively devoted to the style or versification, the sacredness of tender or gentle affections. We shall a love and sorrow so beautiful and give the precedence to “ Highland so sincere, deter us from whispering a Mary.”
word of aught but sympathy and re
verence. “ Ye banks, and braes, and streams around What we have next to notice is The castle o' Montgomery,
every way more open to criticism.
“ There's auld Rob Morris that wons in yon glen,
“ She's fresh as the morning, the fairest in May;
“But oh! she's an heiress, and Robin's a laird,
“ The day comes to me, but delight brings me nane ;