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all true art to reveal, this is the domain in which poetry soars supreme, while painting toils after her with earth-laden wings. Principal Shairp, in reference to the power of poetic sentiment, recently said that, "in the movements of man's being, the first and deepest thing is the sentiment which possesses him, the emotional and moral atmosphere which he breathes. The causes which ultimately determine what this atmosphere shall be are too hidden, too manifold and complex, for us to grasp, but among the human agents which produce them none are more powerful than great poets.
Poets are the rulers of men's spirits more than the philosophers, whether mental or physical. For the reasoned thought of the philosopher appeals only to the intellect, and and does not flood the spirit; the great poet touches a deeper part of us than the mere philosopher ever reaches, for he is a 'philosopher and something more—a master of thought, but it is inspired thought, thought filled and made alive with emotion. He makes his appeal, not to the intellect alone, but to all that part of man's being in which lie the springs of life.
We sometimes feel inclined to think that the hope of being a poet animates more human breasts than any other aspiration. We see people of all ages, of all ranks, of all degrees of education, of all qualities of mental power, possessed by an irrepressible desire to express their thoughts in verse, when the truth is the thoughts are either not worth expression, or, if they are, they would be better stated in sober prose. It is fortunate that many of those who at one period of their lives felt inclined to "rhyme" were never placed in circum stances favourable to the fulfilment of their desires. Readers generally would not be losers, and it would seem, according to the testimony of Robert Browning, that the embryo "poets" themselves have been the gainers. Writing to a contemporary a correspondent tells that when a boy he received half-a-crown with which he bought a small book. The possession of this treasure he determined to commemorate in a "copy of verses," in which the following lines occur :I bought it at Mister Cusson's,
And it was picked out of dozens.
The lines tickled the fancy of his father so much that he showed them to everybody who came to the house. Being
shy and sensitive, this used to make the writer cry with vexation. The result was that he determined never to write any more verses. Meeting Robert Browning," he continues, "about a year ago I mentioned this to him, ending with, 'probably I also might have been a poet, if I had not been thus cruelly nipped in the bud.' He turned round with a bland smile, and replied, 'Ah, my friend, be very, very thankful to those who nipped you in the bud; you don't know what they have saved you from.""
It is an oft-repeated fact that the Scottish mind has a tendency to develop its overflowing tenderness and earnest passionateness in lyrical strains of simple beauty, which no literature and no age of the world have surpassed. It has a quaintness and a grace, an elegant simplicity, and an affectionate tenderness which are peculiarly its own. The influence James I. exercised upon Scottish song was strong and lasting, and he has been recognised as the father of Scottish melody, although Scottish music was little known to the world until Allan Ramsay, in the year 1724, collected the melodies of his country in his "Tea-Table Miscellany." He, however, gave little account of them, and Dr Robert Chambers tells us that "the Scottish people are more proud of their songs and music than of any other branch of literature, and they can tell very little regarding the origin and early history of these endeared national treasures." If Burns created no new taste among his countrymen, he developed, extended, and improved that which he found already existing. The beauty of Scottish song is its truth and simplicity, and Burns as well as his compeers and successors always appealed to the heart--expressing their feelings in the pithy language of real emotion, and it appears that the kind of literary talent most in request at present is that of writing songs suitable to music. Our leading musicians are anxious to get hold of verses that are capable of being set to ballad tunes. We often find that the best poetry is the least susceptible of being wedded to music, and it must be remembered that the songs of Burns were in most cases written expressly to the airs to which they are sung. In the case of songs-as, indeed, in many other cases-genius is a disturbing element, and a delicate vein of sentiment or fancy is, so far as the composer
is concerned, in advance of imaginative or creative gifts. Much of our modern poetry is not only good in form and wording, but it has also the ring of inspiration-as natural as the song of the bird or the ripple of the stream. Our poets always cherish a warm sympathy for the history of their country and its noble traditions. In our second and third series in particular we give several examples of Scotchmen, who, although they have wandered far from the broom and the heather, have retained their love of "the Mither Tongue," and are still filled with enthusiasm in regard to everything concerning their native country. Both at home and abroad our countrymen are inspired by the historic events and great historic names of Scotland—its battlefields; its ruined strongholds, where once old clansmen had their homes; its bleak hills and dales, moors and glens; the traditions and associations of the heroic past, impress themselves indelibly on their minds, and are the haunts of the Muse of Poetry. With few exceptions, they are unsuccessful in the production of little poems in celebration of interesting events, and as tributes to friends, or to the memory of important personages, in praise of girls with blue or black eyes, or affecting partings. We have invariably been suspicious of such themes, and intending authors should be warned of the fact of how flatly, even a lively poem or song, written to amuse a genial circle of friends, will fall upon the public.
As several competent authorities considered that a number of the sketches in our first series were too brief, we have here, as in the second, and where desirable, gone more fully into details of the career of the authors. Since we commenced our efforts we have had various proofs of having treated too briefly several poets, including Mr Matthias Barr, whose writings are acknowledged everywhere as having the quality which wins for them a passport to the heart, and Mr Dugald M'Fadyen, a young man, who, during the past two years, has been making for himself a name as a poet of affluent fancy, and bright sparkling humour. We could mention others, regarding whom opinions may differ, but would just add that we have found that in critics, as occasionally in poets, the raven may croak, and the howlet hoot, the magpie may chatter, and the jackdaw caw, but the blackbird shall whistle
no less delightfully than heretofore, and the mavis, and the thrush, and the lark shall sing as if there were neither rook nor pie in existence. However we may speak of poets when we speak critically, we beg to say most explicitly that, as fellow-countrymen, we have an esteem for them all. The very feeling which prompts to write poetry implies something good in the character-something ingenuous and warmhearted, and we almost feel that no cold canning villian ever yet wrote a line of real poetry.
Encouraged by the kindly reception which was accorded to our first series, and the growing taste manifested for the productions of our present-day poets and versifiers, we have thus been induced to go deeper into the subject by preparing a second and third series. Even now we have been reluctantly compelled to omit several names of living writers, particulars of whose career, with selections from their poetry, we were anxious to include in this series, but the space to which we had restricted ourselves was more than exhausted. We now learn that at the outset we must have had a very imperfect idea of the extent of a department of modern Eterature so extensive and varied; yet we feel that a fourth series would exhaust the subject, and should the present effort meet with a reception as kindly as the first, it is possible that we may prepare the stores we have on hand, and accept of the material and assistance kindly offered by trends. Meanwhile we would gratefully acknowledge the TELINE of numerous Sterary gentlemen who have communicated information. Car thanks are also due to publishers of copyright works wha with great frankness, gave us permission to reprint many tine compositions.