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From the People's Journal.
A VERY unfair estimate of American poetry certainly, a man of decided ability. He has recently made its appearance in a well. would, we have no doubt, make a good critic known London periodical.* We cannot of prose writing, but he is altogether out of accuse the critic in question of a prejudice i his element when he ventures to criticise poagainst American authors in general, for he etry. Poetic feeling is absolutely essential acknowledges fully and fairly the great merits to him who undertakes this office, and of poof the prose writers of America—her Coop- etic feeling our friend possesses little or none. ers and Irvings, her Prescotts and Danas- He does not believe that America has given but we do accuse him of a deplorable defi- us any true poetry. She certainly has not ciency in the matter of genuine poetic taste. produced a poet entitled to rank with ShakMany with minds largely endowed by nature, speare and Milton, with Shelley and Bailey ; and vigorously cultivated, have shown them- but she has from time to time given us lyriselves unable to appreciate poetry. Frank- cal effusions which, if there be any truth in lin called poets "the mere waste paper of the words of Keats, that " a thing of beauty mankind;" and a still more celebrated philo- is a joy for ever,” will be as imperishable as sopher, pointing contemptuously to “Para- the great masterpieces of our own poetic dise Lost,” is said to have put the question, literature. of “What does it prove ?" In our own day We have charged this critic with a want of there are not a few men of signal ability who poetic taste. Now to the proof. He speaks are utterly incapable of perceiving the of John Greenleaf Whittier, but seems perbeauties and the uses of poetry-for instance, fectly unaware of the existence of that genthe veteran reformer, Joseph Hume, whose tleman's ballad of “Cassandra Southwick,' head is invariably referred to by the phre- one of the noblest lyrics in the English nologists as furnishing an example of deficient language. Cassandra's father had been imideality. And certainly the speeches of the prisoned and deprived of his property, by member for Montrose, admirable as they the Puritans of Boston, for entertaining two generally are, do bear out the phrenologists' Quakers. She and her brother were afterassertion. The same may be said of Mr. wards fined ten pounds each, for non-attendThomas Wakley, undeniably a man of vigor- ance at church, which they being unable to ous intellect, and of a plenteous endowment pay, an order was passed by the General of self-esteem into the bargain, as was evidenc- Court of Boston (it may still be seen on the ed some time since, when he very quietly let court records), by which the treasurer of the his constituents know that he could “write county was “fully empowered to sell the said as good poetry as Wordsworth, if be thought persons to any of the English nation at Virit worth while.” Now nothing can be more ginia or Barbadoes, to answer said fines.” certain than that the redoubted coroner of What could be more soul-stirring than the reMiddlesex would not have the slightest ply of the “rough sea captain," when the chance of winning the tiniest leaf in the poetic sheriff inquires who will take and dispose of coronar (as a cockney would call it), though the Quaker maid ? Cassandra feels a hard he were to live through the united years of hand press her own, and a kind voice enevery man, woman, and child, upon whose courage her, and thenbody he has held an inquest, and were to A weight seemed listed from my heart, a pitying labor unceasingly during those years for the friend was nigh, acquisition of the single leaflet.
I felt it in his hard, rough hand, and saw it in his The writer of the criticism to which we eye ; alluded at the beginning of this paper, is And when again the sheriff spoke, that voice so
* Frazer's Magazine, reprinted in the August Growled back its stormy answer, lik the roaring number of the Eclectic Magazine.
of the sea.
kind to me,
“ Pile my ship with bars of silver, pack with coins | igoth,” was deserving of, at least, passing of Spanish gold,
mention. Not a syllable is uttered concernFrom keel-piece up to deck plank, the roomage of ing the simple and beautiful songs of General
her hold; By the living God who made me! I would sooner George Morris. The great song-writer of in your bay
the States, and the poetesses of America, Sink ship, and crew, and cargo, than bear this are very cavalierly dismissed without notice, child away.”
on account of their great number. We won“ Well answered, worthy captain ! shame on their der whether this critic ever read Mrs. Francruel laws !"
ces Osgood's poem of “Labor ?” 'It is a Ran through the crowd in murmurs loud, the piece of great poetic beauty, and would of people's just applause ;
itself preserve her name to posterity. She is, Like the herdsman of Tekoa, in Israel of old, alas, no longer a denizen of earth! There Shall we sell the poor and righteous, again for is also an American lady bearing the name silver, gold.
of Lydia Sigourney, who has written a poem I looked on haughty Endicott,* with weapon half- entiled “ Alpine Flowers ;" which poem has way drawn
been, not undeservedly, compared with ColeSwept round the throng his lion glare of bitter ridge's celebrated “Hymn before Sunrise in
hate and scorn; Fiercely he drew his bridle rein, and turned in the Vale of Chamouni.” But we fear that silence back,
our critic resembles Peter Bell—that And sneering priest
, and baffled clerk, rode murmuring in his track.
A primrose by the river's brim,
A yellow primrose is to him, And Willis, too. Is there no poetry in
And it is nothing more ; “ The Leper," or in “ Absalom;" or in that lovely picture, “A child's first impression of and that flowers, whether by river's side or a star,” which looks as if it had been painted far away up the Alpine heights, possess with a pencil dipped in sunset clouds ?
small attractions in his eyes. Here are Mrs.
Sigourney's lines on the “ Death of an InShe had been told that God made all the stars
fant;" we cannot refrain from giving them, That twinkled up in heaven ; and now she stood they are so beautiful :Watching the coming of the twilight on, As if it were a new and perfect world,
Death found strange beauty on that polish'd brow, And this were its first eve. She stood alone And dash'd it out. There was a tint of rose By the low window, with the silken lash On cheek and lip. He touched the veins with ice, Of her soft eye upraised, and her sweet mouth And the rose faded. Half parted with new and strange delight Of beauty that she could not comprehend,
Forth from those blue eyes And had not seen before. The purple folds There spake a wishful tenderness, a doubt Of the low sunset clouds, and the blue sky Whether to grieve or sleep, which innocence That looked so clear and delicate above,
Alone may wear. With ruthless haste he bound Filled her young heart with gladness, and the eve The silken fringes of those curtaining lids Stole on with its deep shadows, and she still For ever. Stood looking at the west
, with that half smile, As if a pleasant thought were at her heart.
There had been a murmuring sound, Presently, in the edge of the last tint
With which the babe would claim its mother's ear, Of sunset, where the blue was melted in Charming her even to tears—the spoiler set To the faint, golden mellowness, a star
of silence. Stood suddenly. A laugh of wild delight Burst from her lips, and putting up her hands
But there beam'd a smile, Her simple thought broke forth expressively- So fix'd, so holy, from that cherub brow, “ Father, dear father, God has made a star!”. Death gaz’d, and left it there. He dar'd not steal
The signet ring of heaven. The description of Jesus in “ The Leper, is worthy to be compared with the noble one To supply even specimens of our favorite in Festus Bailey's "Angel World."
American poets is quite out of the question Fitzgreen Halleck's poem, " The death of in a paper like this. Before us lies a heap Marco Bozzaris,” may not be quite equal to of songs and ballads, the production of the the “ Battle of the Baltic,” and be a right rich fancy and warm heart of George Morris. glorious poem notwithstanding; and surely Not many weeks since, at a public meeting Edward Èverett's “Dirge of Alaric, the Vis in London, a gentleman claimed to be heard
speak on the ground of his connection with * The Sheriff.
the public press from the time he was seven years of age. We will not undertake to say he overrates his merits in the least. From that General Morris ran his juvenile fingers other sources we have ourselves learned over the chords of the lyre at so very early much of the genial nature of George Morris, a period, but it is certain he tried his hand and his gigantic labors as a literary pioneer. at writing for the newspapers when he was considering its juvenility as a nation, repubyet but a mere child.
lican America indeed has been amazingly While in his teens, he was a constant con- prolific of good writers. The large share tributor to various periodicals. Many of his Morris has had in awakening the latent taarticles attracted notice. He began to ac- lent of his countrymen must ever be to him a quire a literary reputation ; and, at length, high source of gratulation. And, then, as an in 1822, being then in his twentieth year, he original writer he has won for himself a high became editor of the “ New York Mirror." place amongst literary Americans ; he is, in
This responsible post he continued to hold fact, known throughout the States as “ The until the termination of that paper's existence song writer of America.” And we have the in 1834.
authority of Willis for stating that ninetyMorris accomplished an infinity of good in nine people out of a hundred take them as the twenty years during which he wielded they come in the census—would find more the editorial pen. Perhaps no other man in to admire in Morris's songs than in the writthe United States was so well qualified for ings of any other American poet. Willis also the noble task he set himself at the outset of tells us, as a proof of the General's populahis career as editor. American literature rity with those shrewd, dollar-loving men, was in its infancy, and subject to all the the publishers, that “ he can at any time obweaknesses of that period. Morris resolved tain fifty dollars for a song unread, when the to do his utmost towards forming a charac- whole remainder of the American Parnassus ter for it, and looked abroad anxiously for could not sell one to the same buyer for one such as could aid him in his endeavor. "The shilling! He is the best known poet of the “ Mirror" will ever be fondly remembered country by acclamation—not by criticism.” by the American literary man, for it has Morris seems to have had juster notions of been the cradle of American genius. In it what was required in a song
than Willis, Theodore Fay, and many others, have achieved celebrity as song writers in this whose names will not soon be forgotten, first country. The just notion and office of the tried their “'prentice hans'.” In its pages modern song” has been defined to be, the emclever artists of every kind were certain of a bodiment and expression in beauty of some kind reception. Morris, indeed, appears to thought or sentiment-gay, pensive, moral, have been almost a universal genius. He or sentimental—which is as natural and apsaw the wants of his country—it had no lit-propriate in certain circumstances as the erature, no drama, no school of painting odor to the flower. Its graceful purpose is Morris vigorously girded up his loins, resolved to exhibit an incident in the substance of an to do his utmost to remedy all this. None had emotion, to communicate wisdom in the form a sharper eye than he for the detection of la- of sentiment. A song should be the embotent talent, and none were more ready by sound diment of some general feeling, and have recounsel and otherwise to aid its possessor. A ference to some season or occurrence. writer in “ Graham's Magazine,” (American) It is not a very difficult thing to make speaks warmly of Morris's perseverance and words rhyme; some of the most unimaginaaddress in disciplining a corps of youthful tive intellects we ever knew could do so with writers; of the keen eye which could discern in surprising facility. It is rare to find a sentisome nameless manuscripts the promise of fu- mental miss or lackadaisical master who canture power; of the firm and open temper which not accomplish this intellectual feat, with the his example inspired into the relations of lite help of Walker's Rhyming Dictionary. As rary men with one another throughout the for love, why every one writes about it land ; of the inestimable value to America of now-a-days. There is such an abhorrence the singular variety and discursiveness of the of the simple Saxon—such an outrageous intellectual sympathies of General Morris. running after outlandish phraseology, that
To him this writer attributes the present we wonder folk are satisfied with this plain Agurishing condition and bright prospects of term. We wonder they do not seek for an transatlantic literature. He evidently pos- equivalent in high Dutch or in low Dutch, in sesses a personal knowledge of the renowned Hungarian or in Hindostanee. We wish they literary general, and discourses right elowould, with all our heart and soul. We quently in his praise. Nor do we think that I have no objection, provided the heart be
many who touched, that a head should produce a little
Which comes when the golden, of the stuff called “ nonsense verses”--that
Ripe harvest is stored; this article should be committed to scented
And yields its own blessings
Repose and reward. note-paper, and carefully sealed up with skewered hearts of amazing corpulence. God
The winter of love forbid that we should be thought guilty of a
Is the beam that we win,
While the storm scowls without, sneer at real affection !--far from it; such
From the sunshine within. ever commands our reverence. But we do
Love's reign is eternal, not find it in the noisy tribe of goslings
The heart is his throne, green who would fain be thought of the
And he has all seasons nightingale species. Did the reader ever
Of life for his own. contemplate a child engaged in the interest
What simple tenderness is contained in the ing operation of sucking a lollipop ?--we as ballad of “We were boys together”! Every sure him that that act was dictated by quite word in that beautiful melody comes home as much of true sentiment as puts in action to the heart of him whose early days have the fingers and wits of the generality of our been happy. God help those in whom this young amatory poetasters. We know of none
poem awakens no fond remembrances ! who have written more charmingly of love those whose memories it does not get wanthan George Morris. Would to Apollo that dering up the stream of life, toward its our rhymesters would condescend to read
source ; beholding at every step the sun carefully his poetical effusions ! But they smiling more brightly, the heavens assuming contain no straining after effect—no extrava
a deeper hue, the grass a fresher green, and gant metaphors—no driveling conceits; and the flowers a sweeter perfume. How wonso there is little fear of their being taken as
drous are not its effects upon ourselves ! models by those gentlemen. Let the reader The wrinkles have disappeared from our mark the surpassing excellence of the love brow, and the years from our shoulders, and songs ; their perfect naturalness; the quiet the marks of the branding iron of experience beauty of the similes ; the fine blending of from our heart; and again we are a careless graceful thought and tender feeling which child, gathering primroses
, and chasing butcharacterize them. Morris is, indeed, the terflies, and drinking spring water from ont poet of home joys. None have described the hollow of our bands. Åround us are the more eloquently the beauty and dignity, hedges “ with golden gorse bright blossomof true affection-of passion based upon es
ing, as none bloom now-a-day.' We have teem ; and his fame is certain to endure while heard of death, but we know not what it is; the Anglo-Saxon woman has a hearthstone and the word change has no meaning for us; over which to repeat her most cherished and summer and winter, and seed-Lime and household words.
harvest, has each its unutterable joys. Alas ! Here is Morris's “ Seasons of Love." Sel
never remain long in this happy dom have the benign effects of the passion dream-land. Nevertheless, we have profited been more felicitously painted :
greatly by the journey. The cowslips and The spring time of love
violets gathered by us in childhood shall be Is both happy and gay,
potent in the hour of temptation; and the For joy sprinkles blossoms
cap of rushes woven for us by kind hands in And balm in our way;
days gone by shall be a surer defense than The sky, earth, and ocean,
a helmet of steel in the hour of battle. No, In beauty repose, And all the bright future
no; we will never disgrace our antecedents.
We were boys together,
And never can forget
The school-house near the heather,
In childhood where we met;
The humble home to memory dear,
Its sorrows and its joys;
Where woke the transient smile or tear,
When you and I were boys.
We were youths together,
And castles built in air,
Your heart was like a feather,
And mine weigh'd down with care ;
WE WERE BOYS TOGETHER.
To you came wealth with manhood's prime, tagonist set foot, in the south, he should To me it brought alloys
never return alive to Boston—no, though he Foreshadow'd in the primrose time, When you and I were boys.
were girt with a body-guard of thirty thou
sand men. Channing's tribute to the memoWe're old men together
ry of Milton is a splendid piece of composiThe friends we loved of yore
tion. We consider it finer than that of With leaves of autumn weather
Macaulay's noble offering at the same sacred Are gone for evermore.
shrine-rich though that offering be in “barHow blest to age the impulse given, baric pearl and gold.”.
And what shall we The hope time ne'er destroysWhich led our thoughts from earth to heaven. say of Washington Irving, the gentle spirit When you and I were boys !
to whom we owe so many happy hours ?
he who has given us Rip Van Winkle and We regret we have not space to enter Ichabod Crane—who has collected for us more largely into the merits of Morris ; but the Moorish legends of Andalusia—who has there is one quality in his songs to which we voyaged with Columbus for our benefit, and cannot but direct attention—and this is their traced out the wonderful career of the proalmost feminine purity. The propensities phet and his sworded successors—the Addi
their laureates; and genius, alas ! son of the States, and best biographer of has often defiled its angel wings by contact gentle Oliver Goldsmith. And Leatherwith the sensual and the impure. But Mor- stocking Cooper ? who in the number of his ris has never attempted to robe vice in beau-fictions almost rivals our own James. And ty; and, as has been well remarked, his lays Prescott, the great historian ? and Herman can bring to the cheek of purity no blush Melville ? whose narratives fascinate like the save that of pleasure.
of the “Ancient Mariner.” And Dana, We began by expressing our disapproval and—but we must conclude; and this we of a certain criticism on American poetry; do by wishing fair competence and long life we cannot conclude without expressing our and happiness, and fruitful vines and beautideep obligations to the prose writers of ful olive branches, to every penman at both America. Many of them have rendered large sides of the ocean who labors to unite the service to the cause of humanity, and none two great divisions of the Anglo-Saxon race more than the ever-to-be-venerated Chan- in the bonds of brotherhood, and who desires ning. His eloquent treatise on slavery can to make those bonds endure till—to apply never become a forgotten book. The mighti- | the words of the fine American poet, Pierest of earth’s conquerors might well envy the pont, writing of the Pilgrim Fatherslittle Boston hero the moment when the southern slave-breeders, raging at the expo
Till the waves of the bay, sure of their crimes, swore with the most
Where the Mayflower lay, horrible imprecations that should their an
Shall foam and freeze no more.
HANDWRITING.Some time ago, persons, as regards your own object in writing, disreinclined to an ambitious turn of mind thought spectful as regards him. Not to perceive it indicative of an intellectual or literary dis- that certain words which do not derive eluposition to write an unreadable hand; and cidation from the context, such as technical we have heard men boast that they wrote terms and proper names, need particular so as not to be understood. This is an odd distinctness, is a mistake of dullness. We kind of success, and a very vulgar one to do not mean to say that all men who write boot. A rapid hand may indicate a habit of badly are dullards, or we might be confuted writing, and therefore a familiarity with pur- by a storm of illustrious autographs; but suits more or less intellectual; but not to be we do mean, that when a man intends to able to write both well and fast is a defect make you understand an idea, has a pen in of skill, and can in no way be twisted into i his hand for the purpose, and fails for want of an ornamental trait. To write so that your capacity to make the letters of the alphabet, correspondent cannot decipher you is silly that man's intellect is asleep.-- Spectator.