Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

If Dibdin had not written so many good-humour and cheerfül obedience sea-songs, his reputation would have underlies all his satire, grumbling, and been enhanced in critical estimation. fault-finding. " The Voyage of Life" We admire his genius as much, and is a capital specimen of a moralising relish his themes and their treatment strain, in which Dibdin frequently inas keenly as anybody; but we think dulged, when he would compare the at least three-fourths of his sea-songs ocean and ships to human life and to might be annihilated without any ma- man, the individual :terial loss to literature, and with a certainty of placing Dibdin on a yet " A voyage at sea, and all its strife, higher pedestal of fame in the opinion Its pleasure and its pain,

At every point resembles lifeof posterity. We have carefully con

Hard work for little gain. sidered all his acknowledged lyrics of The anchor's weighed, smooth is the flood, the class in question, and our impres

Serene seems every form,

But soon, alas! comes on the scud sion is, that at most not more than a That speaks the threatening storm. score are deserving of permanent pre

The voyage through life is various found, servation, or worthy of the name and

The wind is seldom fair ; fame of their author.

Though to the Straits of Pleasure bound,

Too oft we touch at Care." A score, then, let us say, of Dibdin's sea-songs are excellent, and of this number some half-dozen are truly

“ Tom Tackle, Honesty in Tatfirst-rate. Whatever depreciatory re

ters,” “ True Courage," Sailor's marks we have previously thought it

Consolation," and several other songs, right to make, apply only to the great have each particular excellencies ; but mass of the songs - not to the nobly

we can merely allude to them here. exceptional few; for the latter, al- Our space will only permit us to speak though not faultless, are really of the

of two other of Dibdin's pieces -- one very highest merit. Who can read of which, “ The Shipwreck,” is the “ Poor Tom Bowling” without ac

finest of all his serious efforts. It is knowledging, its heart-subduing, pa

a splendid composition, of a higher thos? The language is beautiful, the order of poetry, and more elevated in melody is exquisite, the simple words tone, and perfect in execution, than are felicitously chosen, the sentiment any other lyric he ever produced. In is appropriate - all is in perfect keep- conception it is very dramatic; the ing; and the result is, an unique,

incidents are natural, and correctly matchless composition, a gem that will detailed ; the imagery is remarkably be treasured as long as the literature vivid and appropriate. Had Dibdin of our country exists. “ Poor Jack" never written anything else, it is of is another piece which will assuredly

itself sufficient to stamp him a true enjoy an enduring popularity. Let poet; and as it is, we forget all his us quote one grand verse which strik- faults when we read it. We believe ingly exemplifies what we said about this noble piece is much less known Dibdin's earnest, manly way of advo

than it deserves to be — for there is cating an ever-cheerful performance not a finer production of the kind in of duty, and reliance on Providence, the whole compass of English literaand resignation to the will of Godi- ture; and, therefore, we hesitate not

to present it entire :“ D'ye mind me, a sallor should be, every inch, All as one as a piece of the ship;

" Avert yon omen, gracious Heaven ! And with her brave the world, without off'ring to

The ugly scud, finch,

By rising winds resistless driven,
From the moment the anchor's a-trip.

Kisscs the flood,
As to me, in all weathers, all times, tides and ende, Ilow hard the lot for sailors cast,
Nought's a trouble from duty that springs;

That they should roam
For my heart is my Poll's, and my rbino's my For years, to perish thus at last
friend's,

In sight of home ! And as for my life, 'lis the King's.

For if the coming gale we mourn Even when my time comes, ne'er believe me so soft,

A tempest grows, As with grief to be taken aback;

Our vessel's shatter'd so and torn, For that same little cherub that sits up aloft

That down she goes! Will look out a good berth for poor Jack !"

" The tempest comes, while meteors red « Jack at the Windlass” is a mas- Portentous ily;

And now we touch old Ocean's bed, ? terly picture of the mood in which

Now reach the sky ! sailors often go to sea ; and amid its On salle wings, in gloomy flight, satire, the author is careful to let us

Fiends seem to wait

To snatch us in this dreadful night, understand that Jack's natural vein of

Dark as our fate :

Unless some kind, some pitying Power the greatest naval (and truly national)

Should interpose,
She labours so within this hour,

lyric in existence. Of course we al. Down she goes !

lude to Campbell's “ Mariners of Eng* But see, on rosy pinions borne

land;" and only second to that gloO'er the mad deep,

rious effusion of genuis is the same Reluctant beams the sorrowing morn,

poet's “ Battle of the Baltic." It is With us to weep. Deceitful sorrow, cheerless light

merely necessary to name them here, Dreadful to think,

for they are so universally known and The morn is risen, in endless night Our hopes to sink !

appreciated that criticism or eulogy She splits! she parts !--through sluices driven would alike be sheer impertinence. The water flows!

It is worthy of remark that, with Adieu, ye friends! have mercy Hearen! For down she goes!"

the exception of Charles Dibdin, no

poet has produced anything like a The best song (strictly speaking)

series of sea-songs. From the latter that even the king of the sea-poets end of the eighteenth century up to produced, remains to be noticed." We

the present time, a considerable num. allude, of course, to the “ True Eng- ber of very popular sea-songs have lish Sailor,” which he must have writ

been published; but in hardly any inten in his happiest moment of inspi- stance have more than one or two of ration. There cannot be two opinions

these pieces been written by the same about this song. It is the truest por- author. We shall now briefly notice trait of the English-or British?-sailor

a few of these solitary productions ever given to the world in verse.

that have attained the greatest celeEverybody must recognise its graphic brity. "The Arethusa" (by Prince fidelity; and we can vouch for it, that

Hoare) is one of this class, and it has there are at this moment thousands of

ever been especially popular in the gallant fellows serving their country in the Baltic and Black Sea fleets, to

navy, owing partly to the fame won by

the gallant frigate commemorated, and whom Dibdin's lines are thoroughly partly to the dashing, breezy, chivalapplicable. He must indeed be hy; ric style in which it is written — a percritical who will venture to impeach style particularly calculated to please thegeneral truthfulness of this masterly men-of-war's-men. This is the first description of the

stanza (one very fine line of which we TRUE ENGLISH SAILOR.

italicise) :" Jack dances and sings, and is always content ; In his vows to his lass he'll ne'er fail her;

"Come, all ye jolly sailors bold, His anchor's a-trip when his money's all spent

Whose hearts are cast in honour's mould,

While English glory I unfoldAnd this is the life of a sailor.

Huzza to the Arethusa! · Alert in his duty, he readily flies

She is a frigate tight and brave Where the winds the tired vessel are flinging,

As ever stemm'd the dashing wave : Though sunk to the sea-gods, or toss'd to the skies,

Her men are stanch Still Jack is found working and singing.

To their fav'rite launch,

And when the foe shall meet our fire, “ 'Longside of an enemy, boldly and brave,

Sooner than strike we'll all expire,
He'll with broadside on broadside regale her ;

On board of the Arethusa."
Yet he'll sigh to the soul o'er that enemy's grave,
Bo noble's the mind of a sailor.

Incledon frequently sang " Let cannon roar loud, burst their sides let the

Arethusa,” in a style that probably bombs,

aided not a little to win its popuLet the winds a dread hurricane rattle,

larity. The rough and the pleasant he takes as it comes, And laughs at the storm and the battle.

The « Old Commodore" used to be

immensely popular, and it certainly is " In a fostering Power while Jack puts his trust, As Fortune comes smiling he'll hail her;

a very clever and thoroughly sailorResiga'd still, and manly, since what must be like song; but, unfortunately, it is must

intolerably coarse in language, and is And this is the mind of a sailor.

only fit, on that account, to be sung in “Though careless and headlong, if danger should a forecastle, even if there, now-a-days. And rank d 'mongst the free list of rovers,

Another anonymous song (at least we Yet he'll melt into tears at a tale of distress, have not been able to obtain any copy And prove the most constant of lovers.

with the author's name) of greater * To rancour unknown, to no passion a xluve, merit, and of almost equal popularity, Nor unmanly, nor mean, nor a railer,

is that entitled “ Harry Bluff.” It He's gentle as mercy, as fortitude brave And this is a true English sailor."

may, however, be unknown to many

of our readers, and we think so highly Although Dibdin is the king of our of its style and sentiment that we shall sea-poets, yet he is not the author of insert it without further comment.

- The

press,

Dibdin himself might have been proud lacketh. The latter is a song which to have written as a worthy compa- no true sea-poet would have written, panion-song to his “True English and no seaman will care to sing; but Sailor"

it is excellently adapt d to gratify the HARRY BLUFF.

tastes of all fresh-water sailors, ama" Harry Bluff, when a boy, left his friends and his teur river yachtsmen, and fervent ad

home, His dear native land, on the ocean to roam ;

mirers of T. P, Cooke. In a word, it Like a sapling he sprung, he was fair to the view, is a platform and drawing-room song And was true British oak as the older he grew. Though his body was weak, and his hands they

- an abundantly clever melodramatic were soft,

effusion, which will extremely delight When the signal was given he was first up aloft; those who derive their notion of the The veterans all said he'd one day lead the van, And though rated a boy, he'd the soul of a man, ocean from a voyage to the buoy at And the heart of a true British sailor.

the Nore, and their knowledge and " When by manhood promoted, and burning for fame,

beau-ideal of seamen from the perIn peace or in war Harry Bluff was the same; formance of the heroes of pautical So true to his love, and in battle so brave,

dramas on the stage.

We are exMay the myrtle and laurel entwine o'er his grave. In battle he fell, when by victory crown'd- pressing an honest opinion, which we The flag shot away fell in tatters around; feel competent and qualified to proThe soe thought he'd struck, when he cried out, Avast!'

nounce; and, although we thus broadly And the colours of old England he nailed to the protest against the indiscriminate eu.

mast, And he died like a true British sailor!

logies so often lavished on “ The Sea !

the Sea! the open Sea !" we yet are One of the most gifted of modern warm admirers of the generality of English song-writers, Barry Cornwall, Barry Cornwall's noble English songs. is author of " The Sea ;" and a more Nature, however, never intended him popular production of its class has not for a sea-poet. He should not venbeen written during the present gene- ture lower down the Thames than ration. Everybody must have read Gravesend; or, at the utmost, he it, or heard it sung. It may be bold must not quit the soundings of the to impugn the verdict of the public, Channel. When his lead ceases to which has been unequivocally mani- bring up sand and shells, let him imfested in favour of this remarkable mediately put about, and bear up for song; but, whilst we appreciate its the river again ; for, although he as. merits, and admire it as a very fine sures us that literary composition, we cannot conscientiously class it with the best songs

“ If a storm should come, and awake the deep,

What matterI skull ride and sleep"(!) of Dibdin, or with several sea-songs by various authors much less popular. yet we don't believe him; and, knowIn our opinion it is far loo artificial ing, as we do, that he would be infal. and forced in sentiment. Whatever libly sea-sick even in crossing the enthusiasm the author may have felt Straits of Dover, we tremble at the regarding the sea, his song has no racy mere supposition of seeing our help. salt-water smack; and were you to less friend (who has spent “ full fifty ask a blue-jacket his opinion, he would summers a rover's life") tossed about shift his quid, and contemptuously tell like a shuttlecock on the merciless and you that a Cockney must have written remorseless billows of the North Atit. And there is a Cockney twang lantic - an ocean that may be said to about it. When we carefully con it hold all amateur “rovers" in especial over, and weigh its words and their scorn, for it has never yet failed to legitimate meaning, we feel that, how- shake all their amiable, nonsensical ever spirited it may be in a literary enthusiasm out of them in less than sense, it lacks the soul that animates twenty-four hours after they ventured the breast of the genuine sea-poet; to ride its royal waves ! and we fancy that the author drew his Allan Cunningham's “A Wet Sheet inspiration from the Thames, or, at and a Flowing Sea” is well deserving most, from a trip in a Margate hoy, of its popularity. A nautical critic or in a steam-boat to Boulogne. The would, perhaps, object to some exvery poorest of Dibdin's songs-how- pressions ; but it is, on the whole, a ever carelessly written and paltry in very fine, spirited song, and its sentitheme — have a natural touch about ment is healthy and natural, and not them, a salt-water flavour, a sailor- overstrained nor melodramatic. We like tone and air, which Barry think it far superior to Barry CornCornwall's celebrated song wofully wall's more celebrated production.

The length of our article warns us written by practical seamen. We only to conclude ; yet, before doing so, we know two notable exceptions. The would fain notice a very beautiful and first is Falconer, author of “ The Shipaffecting piece, entitled “The Sailor- wreck," and of several sea-odes, &c. ; Boy's Grave," written by Mr. William and the second is Ismael Fitzadam, Ilott. Whether it can be strictly who is now almost forgotten, and uncalled a sea-song is a question we shall known to the existing generation, not discuss; but sure are we that it but who acquired melancholy cele“ breathes the very poetry of ocean" brity more than thirty years ago. His (to use Herman Melville's expression), real name was John Macken; by birth and it is worthy, both on the score of an Irishman; by education a gentlesubject, sentiment, and language, to man; by nature a poet. He became be printed in any future collection of a man-o'-war's-man, and fought as the choicest and finest sea-pieces ever such under Lord Exmouth, at the written. Our readers will thank us bombardment of Algiers. Subsefor here presenting them with quently, he wrote and published his

“Harp of the Desert,” which contains "TAB SAILOR-BOY'S GRAVE.

a description of the battle in question “ Bright, bright were the sailor-boy's dreams in It was generously appreciated in some life's morning,

literary quarters; but when Ismael When hope with its fairy-forms gilded the way, And a thousand sweet visions of happiness dawning,

Fitzadam sent a copy of his work and Were spreading their shadows throughout the long a letter to Lord Exmouth, the latter

day. Quick, quick beat his heart at the buoyant bark's

declined to take any notice of either. motion,

Poor Fitzadam, in the bitterness and For his childhood's first dream-his first love Were the foam-crested waves of the wide-spreading

despair of his heart, then addressed ocean,

the following very striking and affectWith the sun and the sea-bird above.

ing remonstrance to his Admiral :" Soon, soon were his hopes and his fairy-dreams banish'd ,

“ Chief of the Christian host ! stern Exmouth, who, Not long did they gladden his sight;

When Britain's thunder, throned upon the sea, For he sickened, and quickly the light of life

Smote proud Algiers to dust-the slave set freevanishid,

Led'st up the fiery hurricane that blew, Till it wan'd into death's gloomy night.

And burst in vengeance on the Paynim crew, They buried him then in the shroud they had made

Champion of Faith I rememberest aught of me,

Who that day, 'mid Old England's chivalry, "Neath his childhood's first dream-his first love- Did toil beneath thy banners, tough and true ! And sea-shells are scattered around where they laid

Then tried, in such mad moment of renown, him,

To seize the theme-fond Phaeton of the wave! With the sun and the sea-bird above.

Well, though condemned to brook Oblivion's frown,

Though never poet-wreath my name may save, “ No flowers bloom in beauty; no stone tells his

Yet of his share, of thine, and victory's crown, story;

No slight can rob thy minstrel's desert-grave," No dirge, save the wind and the wave; No tablet of fame, and no emblem of glory,

This ill-fated sailor-poet is said to Are found near the sailor-boy's grave. Yet his head rests in peace on his coral-rock pillow,

have been a man of keen sensibility 'Neath his childhood's first dream-bis first love- and of a very independent spirit. The And the sun, and the sea-bird, and foam-crested billow,

neglect, the misfortunes, the disapAll sparkle in splendour above."

pointments, and the hope long deferred

(and, alas I never realised) experienced Knowing what we know of the his- by him, at length broke his manly tory of certain sailor-boys and their heart. graves, we can hardly read the above

“ And he ! what was his fate--the Bardexquisite lines without shedding tears. He of the Desert-Harp, whose song Underneath the desk on which we are Flowed freely, wildly as the wind now writing there lies at this moment

That bore him and his harp along? a letter relating the death and burial of “The fate which waits the gifted onea sailor-boy - a letter written by the

To pine, each finer impulse checked ,

At length to sink and die beneath captain of the ship to the boy's wi. The shade and silence of neglect." dowed mother - that even a stranger cannot read without deep emotion. Thus wrote “L. E. L.” when Is

One parting observation we must mael Fitzadam's death added another not omit. It is, that very few sea- name to the long list of victims of songs, or lyrics, or poems, have been neglected genius.

him,

[blocks in formation]

WHERE that singularly beautiful inlet and lofty chambers were rudely fur. of the sea, known in the west of Ire- nished, and about as many smaller land as the Killeries, after narrowing ones fitted for servant accommodation, to a mere strait, expands into a bay, but no effort at embellishment, not stands the ruin of the ancient Castle of even the commonest attempt at neatGlencore. With the bold steep sides ness was bestowed on the grounds or of Ben Greggan behind, and the broad the garden; and in this state it remainblue Atlantic in front, the proud keep ed for some five-and-twenty or thirty would seem to have occupied a spot years, when the tidings reached the that might have bid defiance to the little village of Leenane that his lordboldest assailant. The estuary itself ship was about to return to Glencore, here seems entirely landlocked, and and fix his residence there. resembles in the wild fantastic outline Such an event was of no small moof the mountains around, a Norwegian ment in such a locality, and many fiord, rather than a scene in our own were the speculations as to what might tamer landscape. The small village be the consequence of his coming. of Leenane, which stands on the Gal- Little, or indeed nothing, was known way shore, opposite to Glencore, pre- of Lord Glencore; his only visit to the sents the only trace of habitation in neighbourhood had occurred many this wild and desolate district, for the years before, and lasted but for a day. country around is poor, and its soil He had arrived suddenly, and, taking offers little to repay the task of the hus- a boat at the ferry, as it was called, bandman. Fishing is then the chief, crossed over to the castle, whence he if not the sole resource of those who returned at nightfall, to depart as hurpass their lives in this solitary region ; riedly as he came. and thus, in every little creek or inlet of those who had seen him in this of the shore may be seen the stout brief visit the accounts were vague and craft of some hardy venturer, and most contradictory. Some called him nets, and tackle, and such like gear, handsome and well-built; others said lie drying on every rocky eminence. he was a dark-looking, downcast man, We have said that Glencore was a ruin, with a sickly and forbidding aspect. but still its vast proportions, yet trac- None, however, could record one sinable in massive fragments of masonry, gle word he had spoken, nor could displayed specimens of various eras of even gossips pretend to say that he architecture, from the rudest tower of gave utterance to any opinion about the twelfth century to the more ornate the place or the people. The mode in style of a later period; while artificial which the estate was managed gave as embankments and sloped sides of grass little insight into the character of the showed the remains of what once had proprietor. If no severity was disbeen terrace and “parterre," the suc- played to the few tenants on the processors, it might be presumed, of fosse perty, there was no encouragement and parapet. Many a tale of cruelty given to their efforts at improvement ; and oppression, many a story of suf- à kind of cold neglect was the only fering and sorrow clung to those old feature discernible, and many went so walls, for they had formed the home far as to say, that if any cared to forof a baughty and a cruel race, the last get the payment of his rent the chances descendant of which died in the close were it might never be demanded of of the past century. The Castle of him; the great security against such a Glencore, with the title, had now de- venture, however, lay in the fact, that scended to a distant relation of the the land was held at a mere nominal house, who had repaired and so far rental, and few would have risked his restored the old residence as to make tenure by such an experiment. it habitable that is to say, four bleak It was little to be wondered at that

« ПредишнаНапред »