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monks of old, in their least favourable point of view, that one could ill spare these portions of the poem.
As perpetual change is the cue in the movement of the “Golden Legend,”—the scene shifting from princely castle to peasant's homestead, from village church to stately cathedral, from miracle-play to pilgrimage, from convent-cellar (capitally done, too) to scriptorium, from cloisters to chapel, from monkish refectory to sacred nunnery, from the Covered Bridge at Lucerne (its walls grimly emblazoned with the Dance of Death) to the St. Gothard Pass, from an inn at Genoa tó a light felucca at sea, from the School of Salerno to the last scene of all that ends this strange if not eventful history,--so perpetual variety of metre, to suit all moods, and chime in with all vicissitudes, has been adventurously attempted, Professor Longfellow has evidently paid great attention to the study of metrical laws, and is endowed with a quick ear for the capabilities of rhythm. But he is too fond of experimentalising, and of trying to turn unwieldy forms into plastic graces ; nor can we discover that
- his musical finesse is such,
So nice his ear, so delicate his touch, as to justify, by the stamp of success, his hazardous essays in metrical novelty. The dialogue of the pilgrim pair on the road to Hirschau* is, almost literally, “no end of” a measure, and one in which it is superlatively easy for poet and patient to lose their way. The adoption of such an elongated inelegance-a sort of wounded (sea) snake “floating many a rood”-a most needless Alexandrine run to seed—a mile and a bittock
-a lane without a turning-implies the professor's persuasion of his apt. ness to cope with greater difficulties than the hexameter, and his dissent from the common cry of critics which pronounced the use of that metre all but fatal to “ Evangeline." :
“ Evangeline” is so fair and good that it would require something more deadly than hexameterst to be fatal to her beaming vitality. We love her for the dangers she has passed, amid these perilous breakers, as well as others not to be scanned and measured. It is asserted, indeed, that this calumniated metre is, after all, highly relished by persons of good ear and unprejudiced taste-such as most women who are lovers of poetry, and who 'have not to contend against traditions from the Latin
* Hexameters are apt to take an English reader's breath away; but who shall find wind for octameters, in which this dialogue is cast ? As thus: Onward and onward the highway runs to the distant city, impatiently bearing
Tidings of human joy and disaster, of love and of hate, of doing and daring. Six beats plus a bonus of two, make up a beating hard to bear. .
† “ We not long since,” says a writer in the Prospective Review (No. xxxiv.), "put to the test the most successful English hexameters which have lately been written—those, namely, in Longfellow's 'Evangeline.' If read with regard to sense, the ear could catch no metre. " If read with express view to inetre, it was difficult to apprehend the sense." He holds that as we know nothing of the Latin accent, and are therefore unable to realise to ourselves an hexameter, as it was to the Romans, so our imitation of it results in an awkward, scrambling, threelegged metre" as like the sonorous rapidity of Homer's verse, or the stately majesty of Virgil's line, as a ploughboy striding over the furrows is like the graceful motion of the Tragic Muse. For the pro and con. of English hexameters, the reader may consult with profit the sensible and agreeable Dialogues in Fraser's Magazine. Also the letters of M. Philarète Chasles in the Atheneum, and a recent essay of ability in the North British Review,
and Greek. Be this as it may, the destiny of “ Evangeline” is secure for an age, if not for all time-for the story of the maideu and her betrothed, cruelly sundered, and strangely and too briefly re-united, has come with power to
Thousands of throbbing hearts, while theirs are at rest and for ever,
Thousands of aching brains, when theirs no longer are busy. And not alone for maidens in Norman caps and homespun kirtles is it to repeat by the evening fire Evangeline's story-not for a few Acadian peasants, yet left in the forest primeval, to recount the tender tradition ; for it is imprinted now among the household words of two hemispheres, and is dear to
All who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,
All who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's devotion. But if" Evangeline” shall live, there are shorter pieces from the same hand that shall outlive her. Among a crowd of poetical miscellanies we may name “ Excelsior”—of which one well-known critic has enthusiastically declared, that he can no more conceive of a world without it than of a world without the chefs d'ouvre of Homer, Shakspeare, and Milton. “ That figure, climbing the evening Alps, in defiance of danger, of man's remonstrance, and the far deeper fascination of woman's love, is a type of man struggling, triumphing, purified by suffering, perfected in death." Who has not been stirred and bettered by cet appel héroïque qui dit à l'humanité : Montons au Capitole! Each stanza is a picture, and by a master-by one who is at once the consecrated teacher, and the sympathising man and brother. “The Psalm of Life," “ The Light of Stars," “ The Reaper and the Flowers," “ It is not always May," are all beautiful—some of them Æolian harp-like in airy harmony, and sinking into the soul like, what they profess to be, voices of the night.
Passing over not a few works of varied merit and power, in poetry and in prose,—the “Belfry of Bruges,” “Outre-Mer,” the translations from different European languages (especially Tegnér's “Children of the Lord's Supper”), &c.-a few words may be devoted to Mr. Longfellow's two novelets, “Hyperion : a Romance,” and “ Kavanagh."
With all its beauties, “ Hyperion” reads like a disorderly series of analecta from the professor's common-place book. Everything smacks of second-hand—the sentiment, the story, the philosophy, the criticism, the style. The entire romance might have been made up of translations from German authorship-now a rhapsody from Jean Paul, the “ Only One”-now an excerpt from Goethe, the Many-sided—in this chapter an adaptation from the transcendentalism of Fichte-in the next an abstract of some Callot curiosity by Hoffmann-ballad fragments from Uhland interwoven with persifage from Heine, and legends in the manner of Tieck interspersed with lachrymosities from Matthison. But the book is highly acceptable to tourists in Germany, always provided the said tourists have souls above Westphalia hams and Bologna sausages, and have heard of the prose-poet of Baireuth and the constellated poets of Weimar. Paul Flemming, the “hero," is two or three removes at least from originality ; but he interests us as an open soul, travelling and travailing in sorrow deep and strong—whose household gods have been broken, and his home razed, and who goes abroad that the sea may be between him and the grave, although “between him and his sorrow
there could be no sea, but that of time"-one whom experience disciplines into the resolve to live in the present wisely, alike forgetful of the past and uncareful for the shrouded future; to be a man among men, and no longer a dreamer among shadows, and to record upon the leaves that still remain of the book of life a more noble history than the child's story with which the book began. Interesting, too, is the Baron of Hohenfels, that “miscellaneous youth,”—everything by turns, but nothing long, or great-his master-defect the amiable one of thinking too well of human nature. And so is the Englishman, Berkley, —the basis of his character “good, sound common sense, trodden down and smoothed by education,” forming a level groundwork which his “ strange and whimsical fancy uses as a dancing-floor, whereon to exhibit his eccentric tricks”—who eats his breakfast sitting in a tub of cold water, and reading a newspaper-who has a kiss for every child he meets, and a benedicite (in plain English) for every old man—who pronounces the Righi sunrise a confounded humbug-and writes in the traveller's book at Schaffhausen,
Beware of the Raven of Zurich ! 'tis a bird of omen ill ;
With a noise and an unclean nest, and a very, very long bill. Glimpses of German life and manners we find scattered here and there, not without their attraction, -whether a touching sketch of home charities, or a rough draft of a “fox commerce" and “beer scandal,” with its slang, its boisterous practical jokes, its choruses, beer-bibbings extraordinary, and duels infinite.
“Kavanagh” is a tale more delicately and artistically wrought-containing passages of beautiful tenderness and earnest thought, together with interesting studies of character and minutely-finished pictures of life. But a certain shadowy medium intervenes between reader and book—the latter is bookish, and has the impress of the man of letters rather than the man conversant with life. This gives, perhaps, an additional charm to certain phases of his subject, but it impairs the effect of the story as a whole, and the reality of the actors. Emphatically individualised as these are-Kavanagh, ever planning, never completing ; another Coleridge in sanguine speculation, and eke in infirmity of will, -Alice Archer, too exquisitely sensitive, too fragile alike in person and character,-Cecilia Vaughan, dreamily poetic, indefinably fascinating, -still do we miss in each portraiture the vivifying touch of creative art. But nothing can be more delightful of its kind than the pervading style of this fiction; nothing more happily expressed than the apophthegms and aphorisms with which it abounds ; nor were it easy to excel in affecting beauty the scenes between Cecilia and Alice, or in strange effectiveness that of the camp-meeting by night.
From one in the prime of life, and who has made such a marked and rapid advance in literary development, we may justly, and do beartily, look for future performances, both in verse and prose, decidedly superior to the best of his present achievements. He will yet, we trust, produce “metal more attractive” than even the gold of the “Golden Legend”and sun himself in a sunnier “Hyperion”—and act “Excelsior” as well as sing it, in his minstrel vocation, which is
So to act that each to-morrow
CHRONICLES OF A COUNTRY TOWN.
1. Four years of Mrs. Selby's widowhood passed away, and little Nelly was seven years old ; tall for her age, and so beautifully formed that every action, every unstudied movement, was full of grace. Her mother's love was not without a feeling of gratified vanity, and poor old Jane absolutely doted on her; and yet she was not spoiled. She was a merryhearted, gentle little creature, that every one admired and loved ; and people often proudly pointed out little Eleanor Selby to strangers, as if the unrivalled beauty of the child reflected some honour on the town and on themselves.
About this time a great event occurred in Mrs. Selby's establishment. Dr. Barfoot told her that an old friend of his had written to him from India, to say that he had sent his only son, a boy of twelve years old, to England, for his education, and hoped that he could receive him.
“Now, Mrs. Selby," said the good doctor, “you must take charge of Master Charles Howard for me. I don't know whatever I should do without you, for his parents are full of anxiety about him. They fear the change of climate, exposure to the night air, wet feet, colds, damps, chills, and a whole catalogue of evils. I will not tell you all at once, for fear of frightening you; but say_will you take him, and relieve me from all this responsibility?"
“Surely,” replied Mrs. Selby, “I shall be only too glad to do so.”
“Well, well,” said the doctor, “you are to have additional trouble, and so you will have additional remuneration; the young gentleman will pay you forty pounds a year instead of thirty, and you will in return get him a spare bedroom, if you can.”
All this was soon arranged, and, before long, Charles Howard arrived. He was a tall, well-made boy, with crisp curly black hair, black eyes, and a complexion of so dark a hue, that little Nelly at first shrunk from him, because he was “a black boy.” But she did not look shily upon Charles Howard long: indeed no one could do so, for he was the most frank, free, good-natured, reckless fellow that ever lived; always in mischief and mishap, but never guilty of a mean or cruel deed; utterly unselfish, and ever ready to give up his own gratification for the sake of others, or to join in the laugh against himself, when his thoughtlessness had brought him into mischief. Charlie Howard, as he was soon called by all his companions and acquaintances, had not been long in Mrs. Selby's house before its quietness vanished. Jane scolded, and tried to be angry about dirt and disorder; but she was not proof against the unconquerable good-humour of the cheerful boy, and a sentence begun with a scold would generally end with a laugh, and a “Really now, Master Charlie, but you're too bad!" He soon became a favourite with all; but little Nelly, especially, made him the very idol of her heart. All her childish love was lavished upon Charlie Howard; she could think of nothing else; and he, on his part, was absolutely crazy about her. He would have spent all his pocket-money in sweets and presents for her if Mrs. Selby would have permitted it, but this she had always prohibited, and would not now relax her rule; still, in spite of all, Nelly had never been so rich in dolls, dolls' houses, toys, and picture-books, as she was after Charles Howard's arrival; and, in return, she would mend his gloves, or take care of his flute, or do anything she could for Charlie, with the prettiest little air of importance in the world.
Mrs. Selby had not thought it possible that such cheerfulness as now shone through her dwelling could have again visited it. Charlie Howard was the spirit that prevailed throughout: he would play the flute, dance, sing, tell Nelly stories, take her out for a run, or do anything in the world to please or to amuse. His spirits never flagged, and, always cheerful and happy himself, he made others cheerful and happy too.
One day, rather more than three years after his arrival, Charlie came running into the house, crying:
"I have got a holiday for to-morrow, Mrs. Selby. You know it is the 2nd of September, and I shall be fifteen! It is fair-day, too, and I shall take my sweetheart to the fair. Will you be my sweetheart, Nelly ?”
“Oh, yes, yes !" cried Nelly, clapping her hands, "I will be your sweetheart, Charlie, and will go with you to the fair, if mamma will let me. Shall I go, mamma?”
“You must not refuse, Mrs. Selby,” said the boy. “I can take care of her; and, besides, there is to be a large collection of wild beasts here, and I want to introduce Miss Eleanor Selby to the lions, and the tigers, and the leopards, and the monkeys. I will promise that the lions and tigers shall not eat her up, nor the monkeys take her for a playmate.”
After some slight demur the desired permission was given, on Charlie's pledging his word that she should not visit any other show, and that he would give her no sweetmeats.
The next morning was a bright and sunny one, and Nelly could scarcely keep quiet a moment, for the thought of the fair and the show. At three in the afternoon she was allowed to seek Jane, in order to get ready for going; and, as she left the room, clapping her hands and shouting with glee, Charles Howard turned to Mrs. Selby, and said, earnestly:
“ Is she not beautiful, Mrs. Selby? Did you ever in your life see anything half so lovely as our darling little Nelly ?”
“She is, I think, a pretty child,” replied Mrs. Selby; “but do not tell her so, Charlie. I think you would not like to see her formal and conceited.”
6 Formal and conceited !” exclaimed Charles. “Our little Nelly formal and conceited ?—that is quite impossible.”
“No, not impossible, I fear,” said Mrs. Selby, "if you continue to flatter her by your praise. Yesterday I saw her at the glass admiring her glossy ringlets, and when I asked her what she was doing, she exclaimed: Oh, mamma! Charlie says my curls are so beautiful! I am very glad they are beautiful; and they must be, you know, mamma, or Charlie would not say so.' Generally, my boy,” added Mrs. Selby, “a girl's first vanity is her hair; so, pray do not awaken the love of admiration in our little girl's bosom so early. She is certainly very beautiful, but we must not tell her so; and we must guard against prizing so perishable a gift too highly.”
At this moment Nelly came in, sparkling with animation, and dancing with excitement and pleasure. Away went she and Charlie, and, as Mrs. Selby turned from the window, she sighed to herself a regret that her Henry was not there to see with her the loveliness of their child.. : Oct.-VOL. XCIX. NO. CCCXCIV.