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And when with envy, time transported,
Shall think to rob us of our joys,
And I'll go wooing in my boys. Surely this is the sort of poetry that ought to be popularto be sung in our concert-rooms, and set to such airs as should be played on barrel-organs through our streets, suggesting the words and the sentiments as soon as the first notes of the melody make themselves heard under the window.
THOMAS DAVIS-JOHN BANIM.
CONSIDERING his innmense reputation in the Sister Island, the name of Thomas Davis has hardly found its due place in our literature. He was an Irish barrister; the most earnest, the most vehement, the most gifted, and the most beloved of the Young Ireland party. Until the spring of 1840, when he was in his twenty-sixth year, he had only been remarkable for extreme good nature, untiring industry, and very varied learning. At that period he blazed forth at once as a powerful and brilliant political writer, produced an eloquent and admirable “Life of Curran,” became one of the founders of the “Nation” newspaper, and carried his zeal in the cause of nationality to such excess, that he actually proposed to publish a weekly journal in the Irish tongue-an impracticable scheme, which happily ended in talk.
To the newspaper which was established, and which the young patriots condescended to write in the language—to use their own phrase-of the Saxons, we owe the beautiful lyrics of Thomas Davis. The editor of the “ Nation" had faith in the well-known saying of Fletcher of Saltoun, “Give me the writing of the ballads, and let who will make the laws ;" and in default of other aid, the regular contributors to the new journal resolved to attempt the task themselves. It is difficult to believe, but the editor of his poems dwells upon it as a well-known fact, that up to this time the author of “The Sack of Baltimore” had never written a line of verse in his life, and was, indeed, far less sanguine than his coadjutors in the success of the experiment. How completely he succeeded there is no need to tell, although nearly all that he has written was the work of one hurried year, thrown off in the midst of a thousand occupations and a thousand claims. A very few years more, and his brief and bright career was cut short by a sudden illness, which carried him rapidly to the grave, beloved and lamented by his countrymen of every sect and of every party : “ His mourners were two hosts, his friends and foes :
He had kept The whiteness of his soul, and thus men o'er him wept." Oh! that he had lived to love Ireland, not better, but more wisely, and to write volumes upon volumes of such lyrics as the two first which I transcribe, such biographies as his “Life of Curran," and such criticism as his “Essay upon Irish
I will deal more tenderly than he would have done with printer and reader, by giving them as little as I can of his beloved Cymric words (such is the young Irish name for the old Irish language); and by sparing them altogether his beloved Cymric character, which I have before my eyes at this moment, looking exactly like a cross between Arabic and Chinese.
THE SACK OF BALTIMORE.
Baltimore is a small seaport, in the barony of Carbery, in South Munster. It grew up round a castle of O'Driscoll's, and was, after his ruin, colonized by the English. On the 20th of June, 1631, the crew of two Algerine galleys landed in the dead of the night, sacked the town, and bore off into slavery all who were not too old or too young, or too fierce, for their purpose. The pirates were steered up the intricate channel by one Hackett, a Dungarvon fisherman, whom they had taken at sea for that office. Two years after he was convicted and executed for the crime. The summer sun is falling soft on Carbery's hundred isles ; The summer sun is gleaming still through Gabriel's rough defiles ; Old Inisherkin's crumbled fane looks like a moulting bird ; And in a calm and sleepy swell the ocean-tide is heard; The hookers lie upon the beach; the children cease their play; The gossips leave the little inn; the households kneel to pray ; And full of love and peace and rest, its daily labour o'er. Upon that cosy creek there lay the town of Baltimore.
A deeper rest, a starry trance, has come with midnight there,
Oh! some must tug the galley's oar and some must tend the steed,
The more we study this ballad, the more extraordinary does it appear that it should have been the work of an unpractised hand. Not only is it full of spirit and of melody, qualities not incompatible with inexperience in poetical composition, but the artistic merit is so great. Picture succeeds to picture, each perfect in itself, and each conducing to the effect of the whole. There is not a careless line, or a word out of place; and how the epithets paint : "fibrous sod,” “heavy balm,” “ “shearing sword !” The Oriental portion is as complete in what the French call local colour as the Irish. He was learned, was Thomas Davis, and wrote of nothing that he could not have taught. It is something that he should have left a poem
like this, altogether untinged by party politics, for the pride and admiration of all who share a common language, whether Celt or Saxon.
MAIRE BHAN ASTOIR -"FAIR MARY MY TREASURE."
IRISH EMIGRANT SONG.
In a valley far away,
With my Maire bhan astoir,
Ever loving more and more.
With the light her heart would pour,
Fond is Maire bhan astoir,
Sings my Maire bhan astoir.
And her mother cold as stone;
She should be my bride alone;
And he knew she loved me too,
True is Maire bhan astoir,
* Pronounced Maur-ya Vaun Asthore.
There are lands where manly toil
Surely reaps the crop it sows.
Where the broad Missouri flows;
From our hearth with maith go léor,
Mild is Maire bhan astoir,
Of my Maire bhan astoir. I subjoin one of the lyrics, a ballad of the “Brigade,” which produced so much effect, when printed on the broad sheet of the “Nation.” It is a graphic and dramatic battle-song, full of life and action; too well calculated to excite that most excitable people, for whose gratification it was written.
FONTENOY. (1745.) Thrice, at the huts of Fontenoy, the English column failed ; And twice, the lines of Saint Antoine the Dutch in vain assailed ; For town and slope were filled with fort and flanking battery, And well they swept the English ranks and Dutch auxiliary. As vainly through De Barri's wood the British soldiers burst, The French artillery drove them back, diminished and dispersed. The bloody Duke of Cumberland beheld with anxious eye, And ordered up his last reserve, his latest chance to try. On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, how fast his generals ride! And mustering come his chosen troops like clouds at eventide. Six thousand English veterans in stately column tread, Their cannon blaze in front and flank, Lord Hay is at their head. Steady they step adown the slope, steady they mount the hill, Steady they load, steady they fire, moving right onward still, Betwixt the wood and Fontenoy, as through a furnace blast, Through rampart, trench, and palisade, and bullets showering fast And on the open plain above they rose and kept their course, With ready fire and grim resolve, that mocked at hostile force; Past Fontenoy, past Fontenoy, while thinner grow their ranks, They break as breaks the Zuyder Zee through Holland's ocean
banks! More idly than the summer flies, French tirailleurs rush round; As stubble to the lava tide, French squadrons strew the ground; Bomb shell and grape and round-shot tore, still on they marched
and fired; Fast, from each volley, grenadier and voltigeur retired. "Push on, my household cavalry !” King Louis madly cried : To death they rush, but rude their shock, not unavenged they died. On, through the camp the column trod, King Louis turned his rein ; Not yet, my liege," Saxe interposed, “the Irish troops remain.”