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“ Their pathway foliage-curtain'd and moss-grown ;
Behind the trees the wbite flood flashing swift,
Roars steadily, where sunlights play and shift.
Lit up in points of blue,—how soft and treble
The quail's “twit-wit-wit,” like a hopping pebble
Of groves and crannied cliffs and evening sky,
Slope to embrace its margin peacefully,
Shelter'd cool and free from smirch
In thy cavelet shady,
Stoops a forest lady.
" To thy glass the Star of Eve
Shyly dares to bend her;
Globed in mellow splendour.
“ Bounteous spring! for ever own
Undisturb'd thy station ;
Serving mild donation.
“Never come the newt or frog,
Pebble thrown in malice,
Or defile thy chalice.
The smaller pieces are upon various subjects, such as usually suggest themselves to the mind of young poets. One, “ The Way-side Well,” is very pleasingly written, though not with as much power as the lines on the same subject which are to be found in the volume of Mortimer Collins which we have just noticed. It has, however, a rural simplicity and repose about it that will justify our pausing to quote it :
THE WAYSIDE WELL. “O thou pretty Wayside Well,
Wreath'd about with roses !
Weary foot reposes.
Wave thy border grasses,
Sighing as he passes.
Charity of summer,
Every meanest comer!
Without stint or measure,
Share thy liquid treasure.
Like a naiad daughter,
To thy trembling water.
Down the twilight meadow,
Soft the double shadow!
Nature seems to pet thee.
Hath no power to fret thee.
“ Heaven be still within thy ken,
Through the veil thou wearest,
When the boughs are barest !"
Left rock and ruin vaguely seen;
Light boughs descended, floating green. “Slow turn'd the stair—a breathless height,
And, far above, it set me free,
Was closing down into the sea.
It led to ; and so high was that,
That they could reach to where I sat,
A Selection from the Lesser Poems of W. H. Leatham. 231 "Aloft within the moulder'd tower,
“ The guided orb is mounting slow; Dark ivy fringed its round of sky,
The duteous wave is ebbing fast; Where slowly, in the deepening hour, And now, as from the niche I go, The first faint stars unveil'd on high. A shadow joins the shadowy past.
“ Farewell! dim ruins; tower and life; " The rustling of the foliage dim,
Sadly enrich the distant view!
And welcome, scenes of toil and strife ; With tears that trembled on the brim,
To-morrow's sun arises new."
Mr. Allingham, like most modern “O Sea, thy ripple's mournful tune! poets, has tried his hand on the sonnet.
The cloud along the sunset sleeps; They are, to our thinking, not perfect The phantom of the golden moon
specimens of a species of writing which Is kindled in thy quivering deeps. is very exacting in its requirements
both of metre, rhyme, and polish. Ne“Oh, mournfully and I to fill,
vertheless they are as good as a thou. Fix'd in a ruin-window strange,
sand sonnets that are daily given to the Some countless period, watching still public. Here is one that possesses
A moon, a sea, that never change! poetic merit:
ON THE SUNNY SHORE.
Among the grass, blinking the watery gleam;
Most idly floating in the noontide beam.
Of ocean's giant pulsing, and the Dream,
Of greenish vapour on decline of day,
Of sea-gulls, whilst a foot in careless sweep
Faint-circling ; till at last he dropt asleep,
Lap-lapping drowsily the heated rocks."
If Mr. Allingham cannot lay claim to much originality or great vigour, he has certainly considerable sweetness of versification, and a true appreciation of natural beauties. These, with a cultivated taste, and a sufficient share of judgment, are likely to ensure the production of what will be pleasing. To fulfil that end is the mission of the many who write; to attain to the higher walks of poetry is granted but to the few. The critic who would proscribe the former class would do no good service to literature or to the public. We can well afford to linger over verses such as those before us, and feel not the less relish for loftier themes or higher thoughts, when we have the good fortune to meet with them.
We have a great dislike to what are called “fugitive pieces." We suppose they are compositions of so flighty
a character, that one is never able to fix them that they are gone as soon as come, leaving no trace behind. From our own experience of such things, we have no great desire to stay them on their course, whether it be upwards on boys' kites, or downwards to the pastrycook's kitchen — nay, we should be rather better pleased to find that they were gone even before they were come. Mr. Henry Leatham* has given us some of this sort of literature, wbich he calls his “ Lesser Poems” (using a word that Dr. Johnson justly calls a barbarous corruption). Whatever fame his greater poems have acquired for him, we do not apprehend it will be largely augmented by the lesser ones. They make no pretension, he tells, to be works of labour or of art. So much the worse for writer and for reader. We know little of any value, either in poetry or in any thing else,
*"A Selection from the Lesser Poems of Wm. Henry Leatham." London: Longman and Co. 1855.
that can be produced without the one lation to the sorrow of the bereaved and the other. We do not mean to as- parent; butone scarce expects the pubsume that Mr. Leatham is insensible to sic to be much in love with those plathe importance of such handmaidens titudes who can read their Bibles in the to genius, but he should be slow to hour of such trials, and learn how offer any thing to the public with such David found consolation when bis child an implied claim to its favour, or such was taken away from him; and the an apology. In truth, we always look sublimer comfort which Job took to his upon this announcement as a piece of soul, while his body was racked with vanity of the utterer, as who should say, pain, in the contemplation of the resur“If I can throw off such things without rection. Mr. Leatham gives us some trouble, what could I not do were I to pieces which he classifies as “humouse the aids of labour and art ?” We rous.” At this side of the Channel we have a very grave suspicion, now that flatter ourselves we have no small relish we have read over these poems, that for, and appreciation of, humour; inthey are little else than the residuary deed, our good friends on the eastern scrapings of the portfolio of a man who side are in the habit of telling us that has done and can do a great deal bet- our taste in that way is somewhat more ter things — the caput mortuum that than is good for us—that if we laughed remained in the crucible after all the less we would fare all the better. We ore had been taken away. There is venture to say, however, that very few nothing to censure, there is nothing to of his Irish readers will discover much praise; a good deal of common-place humour in this volume; and were he thought in common-place language. to read his jeu d'esprit of “ Railways We have gone from cover to cover and Royalty” in College-green to a without finding a new sentiment or convention of carmen (the best critics, feeling a fresh sensation. Let us give * by the way, of such matters extant), he one of these poems, perhaps the best would scarce extort a smile from the in its way :
most mercurial of his auditors, even
when he read about Lancaster finding “Child of many prayers and tears,
his head between his knees. We have Joys and sorrows, hopes and fears! been the less lenient in our observaChild of scarcely three full years, tions on Mr. Leatham's mediocrity,
In death asleep! because he relies on his previous posi
tions as an author. Had he been a " Infant tenderly beloved,
young author, making his first appeal, Early thus from sin removed,
we should temper our admonition with Ere its venom thou hadst proved Say, shall we weep?
encouragement, advise him to bave
constant recourse to“ labour and art," “Can a mother's love unbind
to elevate, if possible, his soul above Those sealed eyes? or can it find
platitudes, and his style above comCharms to burst the chains that wind
mon-places; but we will not take these Round thy cold brow?
lesser things from Mr. Leatham, as
beggars are doled out the remains of a “But the Archangels' stirring blast
banquet, after the dainties have been Can those limbs, in marble cast,
all consumed by worthier guests. Raise far lovelier at the last,
Whatever have been our short-com. Than erst-or now. ings at bome in the way of warlike
preparation, one class has, at all events, "Yes! thy soul is now on high,
furnished its quota. We mean the Face to face with God, and nigh poets; they have been very busy and Jesus and his company
very valiant withal.
They have shed Of saints above! ink with a desperate and most gallant
recklessness of that precious fluid. "Glory far beyond what we
We have had more songs than we can Could desire or grant to thee!
well number, during the last year and Let us set our cherub free
a-half; and if the sound of harps could From selfish love !" batter down the walls of Sebastopol,
as that of horns did those of Jericho, we Now, that is all very well to put in should have been masters of those obstian album ; nor should we censure the nate strongholds long since. Have they kindness that would offer such a conso- not been battering the place with their * " War Songs." By W. C. Bennett. London : Effingham Wilson. 1855.
Fifty thousand they came to our seven,
Mad-drunk with religion and rum.
“ We were but a bandful to them, boys,
But not a heart 'mongst us all sank, As we dashed at their grey-coated columns
That swept round us front, lads, and flank; If they could not well see us, I swear, men,
Our ranks they could hear well and feel, As we swept them down volley by volley,
And gave them their fill of the steel.
shells ? Have they not beleagured the very walls with the testudo ?
The latest ordnance in the way of war-songs that has issued from our poetical arsenal has been furnished by Mr. Bennet.* They are as good as any that we have seen heretofore - a remark which we do not intend to convey any extravagant commendation ; for we confess we have not yet seen any of those lyrics which are likely to claim a lasting place in the country's literature, to be treasured by our chil. dren's children, like “Hohenlinden," and “ The Battle of the Baltic,” and those fine old sea-songs that have been long, as they still are, the delight and pride of British mariners. Some of these songs, however, which Mr. Bennett has published have this great merit, that they are written in strong, vigorous, manly English, such as a British soldier can understand and a British peasant can sympathise in, and are by no means deficient in spirit, with here and there a dash of pathos, just so much as a soldier can afford to indulge in upon the day of battle, that will elevate his heart without depressing his courage.“ The Inkermann” contains some good verses of this description, that may possibly render it a popular favourite. We will quote a portion of it:
“When we went up the hills of the Alma,
Through their hell-fire of shell and
of shot, We did a good day's work that morning,
And, boys, a good drubbing they got ; But though they'll remember September,
They'll think of it, boys, but as play To the work of this fifth of November, And the drubbing they got, boys, to
Yes—we well might thank Heaven that
night, boys, As on that red hill-top we stood, That, safe there, the day was our own,
boys, Though bought, lads, with England's
best blood! Give a sigh to all those who are gone,
boys, But fill up, all you who remain, We'll drink, "May they come soon again,
boys, That, boys, we may drub them again !'”
"Below they had mustered their thousands ;
The night and the fog hid them well; Before we could see, they were on us, With shot, and with thrust, and with
yell; They swept back our pickets, and yelling,
Right up, boys, upon us they come ;
There is somewhat too much of a spirit of boastfulness in this lyric, which, alas! the issue of events by no means justifies. We, too, have had our re
verses, short-lived we hope they may that it was written at a period of sickprove ; and we have learned to recog- ness, which may, perhaps, account nise no despicable foe in those who in. for a want of method and completeness flicted upon us a bloody repulse on about it. Nevertheless, whatever be the memorable 18th of June, causing its drawbacks, it is a composition full the British soldier for once to sigh as of thoughtfulness, and abounds with he recalls that day in the history of passages of great beauty. A certain his life, and marking it with a black Italian Count Lamballa, despairing of stone in the fasti of British annals. winning the affections of the lady he And here we are still, after many loves, flies to a convent, and, in the months have passed over-winter, and austerities of religion, seeks a close spring, and summer-beleaguring that communion with God; but amongst fortress which we arrogantly thought the superstitions and formularies of the would have fallen into our hands brotherhood he cannot find what he within one week after the battle of wants. Then the desire to go again Alma, while all the time its fortifica- into the world comes back upon him, tions seem to rise up under our can- and the memory of his love will not nonading, as its soldier hordes grow be repressed. And so, with the aid of beneath our slaughter. Well, we have a friendly monk, he escapes from the learned wisdom, and gained our learn- convent, and secretly regains his own ing at a very dear school. Still, let us castle. keep up our spirits, and try to keep up. In the meantime his mistress is not the hearts of those who do battle for without a suitor. We have the someus in the Crimea; and so Mr. Bennett what backneyed device of a rich noblegives his aid in his chant “ To the Be- man becoming the sole creditor of an siegers of Sebastopol,” of which we impoverished father, who flies, leaving quote the opening and concluding his daughter exposed to the plots of verses :
her admirer. Julian, of course, in
tervenes just at the right moment to * Foot by foot, and hour by hour,
rescue Lilia from Nembroni, who is Onward, brave hearts !—forward go! prevented running away with her in a Well we know the end is sure,
chaise-and-pair by the very effective Though its coming must be slow !
process of a dagger-stroke in the heart, Never fear we murmur here!
and the lady is conveyed senseless to What you are right well we know ;
Julian's castle. Julian discovers that Foot by foot, and hour by hour,
Lilia loves him, and we have some Onward, brave hearts !-forward go!
very well written dialogue between the
lovers. The failing in the lady's cha“Onward ! what shall keep yon back ?
racter is evidently a want of strength For the end who weakly fears?
and reliance on her companion. She On! the living have our prayers ;
shrinks from the stains of blood, though On! the fallen have our tears ;
the act had purchased her own freeOh, what welcome waits you here, dom. She dreads to fly with the monk
Victors, when your wounds you show! and marry him, and yet she yields Foot by foot, and hour by hour,
eventually, and they escape just as he Onward, brave hearts !--forward go !”
is about to be seized and taken back
to his convent. After having perused the volume Five years pass away, and Julian is now before us, we are not quite sure in a meanly-furnished house, at night, that we understand why the author has bending over the crib of a sleeping so named it,* or the particular moral child. He is still the same earnest seeker lesson he would wish to inculcate. after God, craving hungrily to be filled This much, indeed, is plainly enough with spiritual knowledge. A strange deducible, that in all earthly trials a misunderstanding arises between him reliance on God is the surest support; and his wife, each believing that the but beyond that we do not clearly see love of the other is constrained. The our way as to the author's object. We scenes between the father and his little collect, from some introductory lines, child are full of tenderness. The me
** Within or Without :” a Dramatic Poem. By Geo. MacDonald. London: Longman and Co. 1855.