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She hath brought me by her might
To draw comfort and delight.

Therefore, thou best earthly bliss,
I will cherish thee for this !
Poetry, thou sweet'st content
That e'er Heaven to mortals lent;
Though they as a trifle leave thee
Whose dull thoughts cannot conceive thee;
Though thou be to them a scorn
That for nought but earth are born ;
Let my life no longer be
Than I am in love with thee!
Though our wise ones call it madness,
Let me never taste of gladness
If I love not thy maddest fits
Above all their greatest wits !
And though some, too seeming holy,
Do account thy raptures folly,
Thou dost teach me to contemnn
What makes knaves and fools of them!

“ The praises of poetry have been often sung in ancient and modern times ; strange powers have been ascribed to it of influence over animate and inanimate auditors; its force over fascinated crowds has been acknowledged: but before Wither no one had celebrated its power at home; the wealth and strength which this divine gift confers upon its possessor.” This fine criticism, worthy of the poetry which it celebrates, is by Charles Lamb.

XIII.

FEMALE POETS.

JOANNA BAILLIE.* --CATHERINE FANSHAWE.

BELOVED, admired, appreciated by the best spirits of her time, it is with no little triumph that I, who plead guilty to some of that esprit de corps which may be translated into

* Since writing this paper, this gifted authoress and admirable woman has passed from this world to the higher and happier state which was ever in her thoughts. A letter from her to a mutual friend, written a very few days before her death, expresses her satisfaction in having received the sacrament with her sister the Sunday previous. In this letter, for the first time during a long correspondence, she breaks off somewhat suddenly, complaining of bodily fatigue, although no one then thought her ill.

“pride of sex," write the name of our great female dramatist -of the first woman who won high and undisputed honours in the highest class of English poetry. The pleasure of rendering her a faint and imperfect justice is all the greater that I have the honour of claiming acquaintance with this most gifted person, and that she is in her domestic relations the very pattern of what a literary lady should be-quiet, unpretending, generous, kind, admirable in her writings, excellent in her life.

And yet of Mrs. Joanna Baillie, the praised of Scott and of all whose praise is best worth having for half a century, what can I say, but that many an age to come will echo back their applause !

Her tragedies have a boldness and a grasp of mind, a firmness of hand, and resonance of cadence, that scarcely seem within the reach of a female writer; whilst the tenderness and sweetness of her heroines—the grace of the love-scenes -and the trembling outgushings of sensibility, as in Orra, for instance, in the fine tragedy on Fear-would seem exclusively feminine, if we did not know that a true dramatist-as Shakespeare or Fletcher-has the wonderful power of throwing himself, mind and body, into the character that he portrays. That Mrs. Joanna is a true dramatist, as well as a great poet, I, for one, can never doubt, although it has been the fashion to say that her plays do not act.

It must be above fifty years ago that I, then a girl of thirteen, in company with my old and dear friend, Mr. Harness, the bosom friend of Thomas Hope, the friend and correspondent of Lord Byron (and, be it observed, of all his correspondents, the one who seems to have impressed the daring poet with the most sincere respect), then a boy considerably younger than myself, witnessed the representation of “ De Montfort,” by John Kemble and Mrs. Siddons. Forty years after, we had the pleasure of talking over that representation with the authoress, in Lady Dacre's drawing-room, a place where poets “most do congregate," and we both agreed that the impression which the performance had made upon us remained indelible. Now, the qualities in an acted play that fixed themselves upon the minds of children so young, must have been purely dramatic Purely dramatic, too, are many of the finer traits that strike us in reading, as, when De Montfort, with his ear quickened by hatred, announces the approach of Rezenvelt, and Freberg exclaims :

“How quick an ear thou hast for distant sound !

I hear him not

.

and many others scattered through the tragedies.

I concede, however, very willingly, that Mrs. Joanna is a most charming lyrical poetess; as witness the beautiful Morning Song in the “Beacon,” which breathes the very spirit of hope :

Up! quit thy bower; late wears the hour;
Long have the rooks cawed round thy tower;
On flower and tree loud hums the bee;
The wilding kid sports merrily :
A day so bright, so fresh, so clear,
Showeth when good fortune's near.
Up! lady fair, and braid thy hair,
And bathe thee in the breezy air ;
The rolling stream that soothed thy dream
Is dancing in the sunny beam;
And hours so sweet, so bright, so gay,
Will waft good fortune on its way.
Up! time will tell; the friar's bell
Its service sound hath chimed well;
The aged crone keeps house alone,
And reapers to the fields are gone;
The active day, so fair and bright,

May bring good fortune ere the night.
There is a remarkable freedom in the diction and versifica
tion of the following beautiful song; the more remarkable
that it is written for a Welsh air :-

THE BLACK COCK,

Good morrow to thy sable beak,
And glossy plumage, dark and sleek,
Thy crimson moon and azure eye,
Cock of the heath so wildly shy !
I see thee slowly cowering, through
That wiry web of silver dew,
That twinkles in the morning air,
Like casement of my lady fair.
A maid there is in yonder tower,
Who, peeping from her early bower,
Half shows, like thee, with simple wile
Her braided hair and morning smile.

The rarest things, with wayward will,
Beneath the covert hide them still;
The rarest things to light of day
Look shortly forth and break away.
One fleeting moment of delight
I warmed me in her cheering sight,
And short, I ween, the time will be
That I shall parley hold with thee.
Through Snowdon's mist red beams the day;
The climbing herd-boy chants his lay :
The gnat-flies dance their sunny ring ;

Thou art already on the wing. This song is distinguished by the same delicious freedom, and was also written to music. Truly, the Muse can dance in fetters :

O welcome bat and owlet grey,
Thus winging low your airy way!
And welcome moth and drowsy fly,
That to mine ear come humming by!
And welcome shadows dim and deep,
And stars that through the pale sky peep;
() welcome all ! to me ye say
My woodland love is on her way.
Upon the soft wind floats her hair,
Her breath is on the dewy air ;
Her steps are in the whispered sound
That steals along the stilly ground.
O dawn of day, in rosy bower,
What art thou to this witching hour ?
O noon of day, in sunshine bright,
What art thou to this fall of night?

I cannot resist indulging myself by transcribing the following Scottish ballad, a delightful specimen of quaint archness and quiet humour :

FY, LET US A' TO THE WEDDING.

(An Auld Song New Buskit.)
Fy, let us a' to the wedding,

For they will be lilting there;
For Jock 's to be married to Maggie,

The lass wi' the gowden hair.
And there will be jibing and jeering,

And glancing of bonny dark een,
Loud laughing, and smooth-gabbit speering

O' questions baith pawky and keen.

And there will be Bessy the beauty,

Wha raises her cockup sae hie,
And giggles at preachings and duty,-

Guid grant that she gang na' ajee !
And there will be auld Geordie Tanner,

Wha coft a young wife wi' his gowd ; She'll flaunt wi' a silk gown upon her,

But, wow ! he looks dowie and cow'd. And brown Tibbie Fowler the heiress

Will perk at the tap o' the ba', Encircled wi' suitors, wha's care is

To catch up her gloves when they fa', Repeat a' her jokes as they're cleckit,

And haver and glower in her face, While tocherless mays are negleckit,

A crying and scandalous case. And Maysie, wha's clavering aunty

Wad match her wi’ Lowrie the laird,
And learns the young fule to be vaunty,

But neither to spin nor to caird.
And Andrew, wha's granny is yearning

To see him a clerical blade,
Was sent to the college for learning,

And cam' back a coof as he gaed.
And there will be auld Widow Martin,

That ca’s hersel thirty and twa;
And thraw-gabbit Madge, wha, for certain,

Was jilted by Hab o' the Shaw.
And Elspy the sewster sae genty,

A pattern o' havins and sense,
Will straik on her mittens sae genty,

And crack wi' Mess John i' the spence.
And Angus, the seer of fairlies,

That sits on the stane at his door, And tells about bogles, and mair lies

Than tongue ever uttered before. And there will be Bauldie the boaster,

Sae ready wi' hands and wi' tongue; Proud Paty and silly Sam Foster,

Wha quarrel wi' auld and wi' young. And Hugh the town-writer, I'm thinking,

That trades in his lawyerly skill, Will egg on the fighting and drinking,

To bring after-grist to his mill. And Meggie-ha! ha! will be civil,

And let the wee bridie a-be : A vilipend tongue is the devil,

And ne'er was encouraged by me.

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