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11. The Pilgrim of the Hebrides ; a Lay of the North Countrie. By
the Author of "Three Days at Kilkenny.” 8vo. pp 299. London:
Longman & Co. 1830. 12. The Traveller's Lay, a Poem. By Thomas Maude, Esq. A. M.
8vo. pp. 94. London: Longman & Co. 1830. 13. Montmorency, a Tragic Drama. The first of a Series of His
, torical and other Dramas. Together with some Minor Poems. By
H. W. Montagu. 8vo. pp. 141. London : Joy. 1828. The preceding formidable list contains the titles of by no means the whole of the self-styled poetical works, which either their authors or publishers have forwarded to us for review within the last six or seven months. There lurks, we believe, somewhere or other, a notion, that if books be brought in this way, under our immediate notice, it becomes us at least not to speak harshly of them, if we cannot with a safe conscience exalt them to the regions of fame. The sooner this idea becomes dissolved into the empty air, the sooner shall the principles of this journal be perfectly understood. We have but one standard for our guidance, the real character of every particular publication which we sit down to review. We have no predilection either of censure or applause to gratify, no interests in the trading world to promote, no enmities to dread, no patronage to solicit. We do not care one farthing for all the booksellers in London, or in the empire. As little regard have we, professionally speaking, for any of the poets, dramatists, historians, philosophers, novelists, of the time in which we live. We look simply and exclusively to the soundness and purity of English literature, which we cultivate with unaffected devotion. When we meet with a new work that is worthy to be admitted into the sacred temple, we hail it with enthusiasm, from whatever quarter it comes. When we find that authors who once basked in the sunshine of public esteem, count upon their popularity in order to pass off the productions of a careless hour, or of a mind decayed, we boldly resist the imposition, and shut the door of the temple against them. When youthful aspirants turn impudent pretenders, and attempt to set up standards for themselves,-standards which they easily form by seeking to depress the literature of the country to their own level, or in other words by talking of schools to which their ideas and their phraseology belong, --we expose their folly, and compel them to hide again their miserable heads in that obscurity, from which they never should have dared to emerge. But when modest merit comes forth with burning brow and palpitating heart, to win the suffrages of the public for her earliest labours, we hold out the hand of encouragement. We listen to her accents, we know her by the ruby on her cheek, and the music that falls from her tongue, and far from repressing, we sympathize with her in her hopes, and stimulate her glorious ambition.
In pursuing this discriminating course, we offend numberless persons,—the author, the publisher, the author's friends, and
whole worlds of various sort of individuals, who form literary coteries and conversaziones, both here and in Edinburgh. But all this is to us as the idle wind that passes over the desert. We utterly disregard it, because we feel and know what is right, and we have the courage to pursue it. We thus keep ourselves equally distinct from the parasitical critics of the week, or the day, who with open mouths are ready to swallow every absurdity, and to praise every book, as from the zoilous tribe of pedants, who look down with contempt upon every effort of modern genius.
We are not among those who think that it is absolutely necessary
that every man who writes verse and calls it poetry, should be a Byron or a Campbell. There are moods of the mind in which the light even of the lesser stars may produce a soothing effect, more particularly in the absence of the planets. It depends sometimes on the humour in which we chance to be at the moment, whether we should prefer the solitary sound of that beautiful instrument called the Æolina, to the finest chorus that ever was performed at the Philharmonic Society. In the revival of nature which takes place at this season of the year, when the voices of heaven and earth sometimes appear of an evening to mingle together, a thought or an image will touch the heart and vibrate through the frame, that under other circumstances might have no such power to charm. The reader may perhaps in this way find amongst the works which we are about to notice, something that he may take into the fields, and dwell upon with pleasure.
. It is with regret, however, that we cannot offer him for any such purpose, the book that stands first on our list-a place of honour assigned to it out of respect for the name of the author. Heaven help that name, if it had never been attached to a more precious composition than the Doom of Devorgoil! The Latin word inaninis which is explained to mean 6 want of fulness in the veins of the animal,” in some degree characterizes it. The veins, if we may carry on the metaphor, have in them a thin watery substance, of a colour that is neither red nor black. The work is
. called a melo-drama. We should like to see any set of actors attempt to perform it on the stage. The late Mr. Terry, for whose intended benefit it is said to have been written, shewed his good taste by not meddling with it. It is founded upon a version of the old story of the “Ghostly Barber,” but it is in point of plot and poetry so utterly worthless, that we shall pass it over without further comment. There is something more of nerve, and blood too, about the Ayrshire Tragedy. Here is indeed a tale of horror, sufficient to frighten all the nurseries from the Land's End to the Orknies. Murder is perpetrated after murder in the most wild and diabolical manner. A deadly feud existed between two rival familes in Ayrshire--the Mure of Auchindrane and the house of Cassilis. The head of the latter
other cause than that of envy, barbarously slain by the head of the former. A A
was, without any
young man who could have proved Mure's guilt, and who was spirited away by him for a while, returned to Scotland. Him he gets murdered by one of his own dependants, and that dependant he causes to be murdered by his own son, thus closing up, as he thought, the chain of evidence that might be unrolled against
But the bodies of his victims bear witness of the crime, and he and his accomplice are delivered over to the vengeance of the law. We extract part of the concluding scene.
Auchindrane. Where is he?-where's MacLellan ?
In the deep-
• Auchindrane. MacLellan dead, and Quentin too ?-So be it
Philip. Hear me, old man— -There is a heaven above us,
vengeance; It rides the waters like a living thing. Erect, as if he trode the waves which bear him · Auchindrane. Thou speakest frenzy, when sense is most required.
Philip. Hear me yet more !-I say I did the ed
Auchindrane. It was enchantment!-Did you strike at it?
Philip. Once and again. But blows avail'd no more
. Auchindrane. 'Twas Hell's own work!
MacLellan then grew restive
By this dead shape, upon whose ghastly features
* Auchindrane. He had enough of mortal sin about him, To sink an argosy.'--pp. 327-330.
This is horrible enough in the description. But Sir Walter Scott, to whom has undoubtedly been denied dramatic genius, has the good taste not only to have his double murder minutely described, but also to have the dead body of one of the victims floated on the mimic shore, where it bleeds at the touch of a virgin! This is too bad even for the Coburg theatre.
The author of the sketches founded on the pastoral poetry of Scotland, intended to produce eclogues, not dramas. His idea was to give pictures of the rural manners which prevail, or more properly speaking, have prevailed in that country. A Master of Arts could not, however, be supposed to know a great deal from his own personal experience on the subject, although he informs us that in his youth he was a sort of poetical shepherd boy. For his scenes, however, he has gone, not to his own experience, such as it was, but to the old pastoral songs of his native country. From these he has drawn a series of sketches, in which he has given to Bessy Bell and Mary Gray, to the lowland lass and the highland lad, to Annie, and Peggie, and Colin, and Phemie, and to a whole race of Scottish shepherds and shepherdesses, language which they certainly never spoke, and which they cannot even speak at this day. It is amusing to see an educated mind, sophisticated in the notions of the world, ape the simplicity of the hamlet and the fields. As for instance, Colin after singing to Annie asks
• An. Hold there! Deep hid amid the yellow broom,
· Col. And dost thou ask who would be thy protector?
Can, then, a native wanderer of the wilds
• Col. My eloquent disputant! well may I
Oh ! flatterer !
Of winter.'--- pp. 71-73. We do not suppose that in all the highlands or lowlands of Scotland, there is to be found a single shepherd who could understand, not to say, talk in the language that is here set down for the amiable Annie, and the amorous Colin. We must do the author the justice to remark, however, that some of the songs which he has introduced into his scenes, breathe the hospitable spirit of Caledonia, and that too in her native dialect. We shall take one at random from the harvest field.
fretful carles a',
Wad only spoil our cheer:
The gloaming's dewy air,