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But my sweet vision, like a bird,
With that brief lustre fied,
Can waken more-the dead-
principle of political balance in the Old World : a door has been opened in the very centre of Europe for the admission of a new race, giving it access to the Adriatic and thence to the Mediterranean, and the interests of the Western half of the Continent will henceforth be more directly exposed to the influence of a power tremendous in itself, and by its close alliance with one of the most numerous races of the world, silent and mysterious in its ambition, but successful in whatever it has attempted.
Still a strange something tells my heart
Thy presence haunts me yet-
Nor kindred souls forget-
P. H. H.
THE LAST ADIEU.
“There is a touching part of the Greek-funeral service, There is, perhaps, no similitude more trite and in which relatives and friends are invited to embrace the familiar,—certainly there is none more striking deceased (whose face is uncovered) and so bid their final and true, than that which likens the origin and adieu."
progress of nations to the growth and develop“She died; yet Death could scarcely chill ment of children. As a mere figure of speech, Her smiling beauties.”—Mrs. Welby,
to illustrate the periods of increase and decay, it The summer sky is calm and bright,
is undoubtedly just and appropriate : but this reThe Earth looks gay with flowers
semblance, which may be traced as well in the The birds are glancing in the light,
ruined tower, or the tottering oak, is not the Or warbling in their bowers
most interesting analogy, suggested by such But oh! my heart is dark and chill,
phrases, as the infancy, the maturity, and the old I would this fevered pulse were still.
age of nations. The Heaven, that bends so calm above,
Let a country, fit for the habitation of man, be As if God's smile were there,
possessed by a people partly civilized. Let them Is like thy brow, departed love !
lay the foundations of a state, and go on, through And scarce more pure and fair“ Dust unto dust"-but not while grace,
a succession of ages, to build up, to strengthen, So angel-like illumes thy face.
and to extend their dominion : let them reach the
culminating point of greatness, and fall into that How still thy raven tresses lie!
decline which full surely awaits every work of How paled thy cheek's rich bloom!
human hands: and there will be found not only How dimmed the lustre of thine eye! And yet no trace of gloom,
in the power and resources of the nation, at these No trace, no trace is o'er them cast,
different epochs, but in the temper and character For Grief is dead : and Death is past.
of the people, in their thoughts and feelings, their Aye! Death is past; but can the power,
passions and pursuits, a remarkable coincidence So dread a change that wrought
with those of the corresponding divisions of huOn those pale features in an hour,
man life. Change the soul's love-or thought?
These remarks, it is obvious, will not apply to Do beings in the untrodden sphere,
the history of colonies from a highly civilized Dream of the days they lingered here?
parent stock. When emigrants leave the soil of A sunbeam, through the o'erhanging trees,
their ancestors, to plant in other climes the seeds Breaks radiant on thy brow,
of future nations, they carry with them the exWhere the dark locks a perfumed breeze, perience and knowledge of the past--the dis13 stirring genily now
coveries of science, the treasures of art, the Was it a smile thy spirit sent, From the fair, bending firmament?
fruits of thought and study-bequeathed to them
by their predecessors. They begin their sepaA moment! and I fondly deemed
rate existence, at that stage of cultivation, which So life-like was the ray,
the mother country had already attained : nor can That over eye, lip, ringlet beamed,All had not passed away
we expect to discover, in their subsequent proOf the ethereal, magic flame
gress, the characteristics which belong to an earThat warmed so late thy heart and frame. lier civilization. For these we must look back
to the rude annals of the race from which they passed. Its projects, conflicts, defeats, victosprung.
ries—all are at an end. We begin to descend The child is a creature of impulse and feeling. the hill, and look doubtfully at the dark shadows His dormant reason can only be awakened, stim- which surround its base. We remember, with ulated, guided and supported, by means of his sad tenderness, the valley where we sported at affections. But his very instincts, for the most morning; its sunshine and flowers, the joyous part, prompt him to what is good. It is true, song of birds and the lovely radiance, which that pride and selfishness are soon at work within clothed even the homeliest objects in the hues of him. It is true, that the excess, even of com- Heaven. We review, with a strange mixture of mendable feelings, will sometimes hurry him be- pride and self-reproach, all that we suffered and yond the limits that divide every virtue from its achieved, in the ascent of the mountain beneath corresponding vice. But, nevertheless, the main- the glare of the mid-day sun: the perils encounsprings of the youthful heart, with rare and lam- tered, the obstacles surmounted, the wild joy of entable exceptions, are truth, justice and gene- the struggle, the intoxication of success. Before rosity. It loves the beautiful, reveres the pure, us is no pleasing prospect. Each step that we admires the daring, awed by the sublime, take, still weaker than the last, brings us nearer weeps over the pathetic, abhors the cruel, burns to that “cold obstruction,” towards which we with indignation at oppression and wrong, and are hastening. And we cling, with vain repiswells with a noble sympathy at the triumph of nings, to recollections of the brilliant sunrise, the innocent and the downfall of the guilty. Let and the glorious noon-tide of life's short day. him who doubts the fidelity of this sketch, recall Is there not a close parallel between this our his childish emotions, when he listened at the mortal career, and that which may be called the nurse's knee, to the sad story of the Children in moral life of nations ? Do not the changes in the Wood, the valiant knight-errantry of Jack the temper and spirit of a people correspond with the Giant-Killer, and the terrible vengeance those we have been describing ? Where, except which overtook the bloody Blue Beard upon the in the first ages of a rising state, shall we look battlements of his own castle. Let him do this : for simplicity of manners ? for the strong tie of and, if his pulse beat as quickly now as it did in citizenship ? for that frank hospitality, which dethose early days, at the tale of rescued innocence signated, by the same word, the stranger and the and punished crime, he may rejoice that he has guest ? Where else do we find such examples of not been sorrowfully taught
lofty patriotism, of generous self-devotion, of ro"To know he's farther off from Heaven,
mantic courage and of high-souled clemency? Than wben be was a boy."
To borrow a happy thought from one, who utters
many of them, it is “ far away in the early peBut, alas! few can boast such freshness of riod of time, where the uncertain hues of poesoul. The rough experience of the world, the try blend with the sereper light of history," that busy cares of interest and ambition, the colli- we are to seek for those heroic hearts who loved sions and struggles, which task the intellect and to hear and to emulate the noble deeds of others. rouse the energies of manhood, seldom fail to Such were the men who delighted in the majesdeaden our sensibilities and to develop, in ex- tic song of Homer, or the impassioned strains of cess, all our selfish tendencies. The love of the Celtic bards; such the men who left, as pleasure, the thirst for gold and the lust of power, themes for future poets, the Pass of Thermopylæ absorb the finer feelings of our nature. At every and the Field of Bannockburn. turn we inquire—" cui bono ?”—what doth it - Time rolls his ceaseless course.” He bears profit me? Our motives of action are contracted away, on his resistless current, the landmarks of into a narrow calculation of worldly ease or ad- early civilization. An age of iron is to succeed. vantage. Here and there we do, indeed, find The sacred love of independence is supplanted men, in whom the love of excellence still abides by the unballowed passion for foreign conquest. who have replaced the ardor of youth with the The minds that labored, and the hearts that bled surer strength of moral principle and religious for freedom and the right now exert their powfaith. And, perhaps, few are not sometimes, ers, at the bidding of unjust and unscrupulous nay often, moved to shake off their earth-fast ambition. The infant state, that but lately strugsetters, and strike one generous blow for the wel- gled to defend itself, has grown up into a mighty fare of their kind. But the short-lived impulse empire, upon the ruins of its weaker neighbors, soon dies: the conviction of uuty fades away the arts of peace, too, blessed as is their general from the mind : and we are plunged again into influence, foster the greedy spirit of the time. the tumult and strife of our daily existence. “ The land is full of harvests and green meads”—
Thus we push on and painfully win our way the cities teem with busy manufacturos: the seas to the confines of age. The prime of life is swarm with white-winged messengers of trade :
and the whole force of the people, physical and make the ballads of a nation he would care litintellectual, is chained to the service of private tle who made the religion of it"—has passed long gain, or public aggrandizement. The romantic since into a proverb. And equally familiar to feeling of other days is every where extinct: un- every body is the remark of a pamphleteer of less it survive in some mountain solitude, undis- that day, that the famous “Lilliburlero" sung turbed as yet by the harsh clank of machinery, King James II. out of three kingdoms. The or the grovelling thunder of the rail-way. very triteness of these quotations proves their
At last comes the season of decay. The vices universal reception as political truths, and justiof excessive wealth and refinement have shot up fies the high estimate which has been placed in rank exuberance, and matured their deadly upon the rụde lyrics of a former day. Let us fruits. Luxury, sloth and licentiousness over- then devote an hour to the consideration of that spread the soil and choke the seeds of every gen- poetry which had so large a share in forming erous emotion, every manly virtue. The hand and reflecting the features of contemporary hisof death presses heavily upon the body politic. tory-to the labors of the old Chroniclers and Gone is the elastic activity of youth—the nervous Rhymers, the makers and the minstrels of Navigor of manhood. Vainly does the palsied do- tional Ballads. tard recount now with exulting chuckle, and In the infancy of the arts, and especially beanon with tears, the proud achievements of by- fore the invention of letters, poetry and music gone days. These can avail nothing to stay the combined seem to have been naturally, and even relentless decree of Fate. The haughty empire necessarily, resorted to, on all public occasions. of the Assyrians and the colossal strength of At the assemblies of the people, whether for reRome,—their glories tarnished, their triumphs ligious sacrifice, or social festivity, their chief ocforgotten—lie prostrate in the dust, whence they cupations were song and dancing. The solem
nity of religious worship required for its expresWe are now in the full maturity of life as a sion a language more elevated than the common nation. Infancy, such as we have endeavored discourse of life, and produced the first attempts to portray, our country has never known. The at rhythm, or measured speech. Melody soon founders of the American States were men born came to its aid: pleasing the ear by musical caand reared in a highly civilized era, and were dences, and, through their agency, impressing themselves in no way behind the intelligence and more strongly on the memory and the heart the knowledge of their age. But it may not be un- sacred poems with their fervent spirit of adorainteresting nor wholly unprofitable to recur to tion. Hence the sublime strains of the Hebrew that distant time in which our own origin is to be Prophets, and the classic hymns of Greece. discerned, mingled with the beginnings of the Legislators, philosophers and historians, availed various European nations, whose blood courses themselves of the same method, to proclaim the in the veins of Anglo Saxon and Anglo Ameri- laws, to publish scientific truth, and to transmit
It may be worth while to look back upon to future generations the events of their own as the thoughts and deeds of men who trod the well as of former times. At such meetings Hoearth before us, and who left their impress upon mer sang his Iliad, a poem and a chronicle : a setheir own, perhaps upon succeeding generations : ries of narratives in verse, wherein real occurto glance at the records, rude and imperfect rences are blended with the fabulous, and embelthouhg they may be, of the mighty and prolific Past, lished with all the treasures of poetic genius and
Among those records we shall find naught more dramatic art. And thus were preserved the deserving of attention than the ancient ballads; not early traditions of all nations : the Arabs and unfrequently, indeed, they are the only sources of the Persians, the Greeks and the Germans, the history and tradition. To us they are valuable hordes of Scythia, and the Celtic tribes of Gaul as exponents of the character of the times which and Britain. produced them: but, in those times, their office The great characteristics of lyric poetry are its was more important—for they wielded no small versatility, freedom and animation. It does not influence over the manners and sentiments of the follow the stately march of history, but wanders people who listened to them. The pithy saying at will in digressions and episodes. Unfettered of Fletcher of Saltoun*—" that if he could but by the continuous measure of more elaborate
composition, it varies with the changeful current * This is sometimes rendered "give me the making of a of passionate emotion. Sometimes it flows on nation's ballads and I care not who makes its laws.” It is in smooth tranquillity, sometimes it hurries along attributed now to one celebrated man and now to another. with the force and vehemence of a torrent. Now Very recently, a contributor to the Edinburg Review ( divil it rises into grandeur and sublimity-and now a less," Mr. Lever would say) ascribed the maxim to Car. dinal Mazarin! But we make our stand resolutely on
subsides into the tender and pathetic. Here it Fletcher of Saltoun.
winds peacefully amid the chequered scenes of
common life, and anon it swells with the mighty personages for the dramatis persona, ascribing to tides of ambitious policy, or thunders with all them lives and exploits, in which the fable bethe tumult of furious war. Nor does it disdain gan largely to predominate over the truth: until the pursuit of lighter themes. The banquet hall at length these compositions became wholly unand the bower of love—the revels of the noble, worthy of confidence, as vehicles of history, and and the games of the rustic—the gay, the humor- were superseded in this, their original office, by ous and comic aspects of life—are reflected upon annals of a more grave and imposing appearance. its surface, and relieve its deeper shades. Of all For a long time, however, the metrical romanthe countries of modern Europe, Italy alone has ces and the minstrels, by whom they were compreserved, in the art of the Improvisatore, some- posed and sung, retained their place in the esteem thing like the diversified and spirited poesy of the of the feudal knights and nobles. The minstrel olden time.
was a character of high distinction. His person The character of different nations, as we are was sacred. He was sometimes the ambassador, told by scholars conversant with their literature, often the companion and friend of kings and emis displayed in their early poems. The songs of perors ; and his services were rewarded with the the fierce Gothic people breathe of battle and most substantial as well as the most honorable slaughter: the Chinese treat of gentle and more marks of princely favor. peaceful subjects: the Greek is full of specula- When Richard, the Lion-hearted king of Engtions upon Chaos, Creation and the physical his- land, was on his return from the crusades, he tory of the World: the Spanish, and Moorish was treacherously seized and imprisoned by the ballads mingle a chivalrous and martial spirit Duke of Austria, whilst passing through his terwith much of refinement and delicacy: while the ritories. For the space of a year, no tidings of Oriental poets often, as in the Proverbs, and the him could be heard. At last Blondel de Nesle, Book of Job, present us with impressive lessons a minstrel, who had been brought up in his houseof moral and religious truth.
hold after a laborious search for him in many Much has been written about the origin and lands, came to the castle in which he was confined development of romantic poetry in Europe. and ascertained that an unknown prisoner was Numberless theories have been maintained, com- there kept with unusual strictness. He obtained bated and abandoned. The received opinion, at access to the castle, without difficulty, in his cathe present day, derives the first knowledge of pacity of minstrel: and, watching his opportuthis species of literature from the Scandinavian nity, began one day singing a French song, which or Gothic tribes : and supposes it to have been King Richard and himself had composed tomodified—perhaps revolutionized—by the inter-gether many years before. When he had sung course of the Crusaders with Eastern countries, half the song he stopped : whereupon the king and the influence of the elegant and polished took up the unfinished strain and concluded it. Saracens who were so long seated in Spain. Thus the minstrel became satisfied, where, and Thus, the “ barbaric horror,” which invests many by whom, his master was detained : and, returnof the oldest fictions, is ascribed to the dark and ing to England, made known his discovery to the gloomy superstitions of the North : whilst the queen and the nobles. A negotiation was immore brilliant and splendid enchantments of later mediately set on foot with the Duke of Austria, fables are traced to the people of those sunny which resulted in the king's ransom and liberaregions, which produced the Arabian Night's tion. Entertainments. And the spirit of the latter, Such was the honored position of the minstrel, changed and colored by other accidents of time in the palmy days of the profession. But the and place, still survives in the "marvellous ma- number of those who embraced the calling, their chineries” of Tasso and Dante, and in the gor- idle and vagrant life, the silent but continuous geous "Fairy Queen” of Spenser.
change in the constitution of society, and the inIn Europe, during the middle ages, ballads troduction of the prose romances, to which the were made up of historical events, adventures of art of printing gave birth, gradually effected their particular heroes, pictures of domestic and social downfall. They were banished from the feasts life
, the occupations and amusements of the peo- of the nobility and gentry, and sunk by degrees ple, their manners and customs, habits and tastes. into itinerant ballad-singers : in which character, At first, the historical details were probably cor- for a long time, they were received, as favored rect in substance, and ornamented only to a small guests, at the tables and firesides of the poorer extent by the fancy of the chronicler : but, as in classes. From their songs, or the fragments of process of time, the narratives descended from them, preserved by tradition, have been collected age to age, changes crept in through the ignor- the remains of ballad-poetry, in England and ance of some minstrels and the invention of oth-Scotland, by Dr. Percy, Sir Walter Scott, and ers; new poems were composed with the same other gleaners of less celebrity: encouraged in
their work, by the successful labors of their breth-have utterly disbelieved the whole, and even ren, in the no less fruitful fields of German and denied the existence of the monarch himself. Spanish poetry
Around these great centres, revolved a host of We have adverted to the writers of prose ro- luminaries, scarcely less splendid—Roland, Rimances, who supplanted the old minstrels, in the naldo, and Olivier-Sir Gawain, Launcelot du favor of the great. Possessed of somewhat more Lac, Palmerin of England, and a score of others, learning and a much larger share of pretension, who constituted a common stock, for the use of than their fallen predecessors, they did not scru- minstrels all over Europe. Whenever a new ple to steal heroes and subjects from the old bal- | ballad was to be elaborated, one of these worlads, and reproduce them in other narratives, thies was selected, and a fresh chapter added to which they imposed upon their unlearned pat- his biography, keeping up his traditionary charrons, as authentic translations from original Greek acter, and providing him with suitable advenand Latin manuscripts. Thus, while they af- tures. They were brought out, like approved fected a superiority, in point of dignity and eor- actors, in new pieces, especially adapted to their rectness to the metrical tales of the minstrels, talents : so that, when the audience tired of one these interminable fictions, swollen to a porten- performance, the old favorites might be ready to tous size by countless excrescences, grew into a re-appear in another drama. deformity, that became constantly more and more But we are by no means to suppose that unlike the truth of history. Sir Walter Scott kings and nobles were the exclusive themes of makes an amusing apology for these prolix and minstrelsy. The beauty and virtue of their discursive romances : "a book, which addresses dames—the vicissitudes of faithful love, whose itself only to the eyes, may be laid aside, when it course, (as every body knows,) never did run becomes tiresome to the reader : whereas it may smooth, were fruitful subjects of romance. Nor not always have been so easy to stop the min- did they overlook the personages of humbler life. strel in the full career of his metrical declama- Many a good story is told of bold outlaws, like tion.” Such as they were, however, these books Robin Hood and little John—of stout yeomen,
“deemed and taken" (as legislators phrase like the Tanner of Tamworth, and the Miller of it) by our simple ancestors for faithful annals; Mansfield. In a word, all classes of people, genand were received with the same implicit confi- tle and simple, rich and poor, high and low, all dence, that Lord Chatham is said to have be found their appropriate places, and performed stowed on the historical plays of Shakspeare, their proper parts. Indeed, the value of these
The model of most, or all, of these romances, productions, as materials for history, as repreis to be found, according to some critics, in the sentations of the social and domestic life of the Ethiopics of Heliodorus, who was bishop of times, has been highly esteemed by those most Tricca, in Thessaly, in the fourth century. This conversant with them. The testimony of Masvork contains an account of the amours of The- caulay is eloquently given, in his description of agenes and Chariclea; which, although written what history should be. in a modest and reserved style, when compared “ The perfect historian is he, in whose work, with others of the same kind, did not escape the the character and spirit of an age is exhibited in severe censure of the church. He was required, miniature. He relates no fact, he attributes no either to suppress his book, or to renounce his expression to his characters, which is not authenbishopric. As the story goes, literature carried ticated by sufficient testimony. But, by judicious the day against divinity. The good bishop would selection, rejection, and arrangement, he gives to not desert the children of his fancy, and sacrifi- truth those attractions, which have been usurped ced, for their sake, his clerical preferment. by fiction. In his narrative, a due subordination
The emperor Charlemagne and king Arthur is preserved : some transactions are prominent, of England were the most distinguished heroes others retire. But the scale, on which he repof European Romance. Turpin, archbishop of resents them, is increased or diminished, not acRheims, under the former prince, is the reputed cording to the dignity of the persons concerned author of a fabulous history, the subject of which in them, but according to the degree, in which is the expulsion of the Saracens from Spain, and they elucidate the condition of society, and the which has been the original of innumerable le- nature of man. He shows us the court, the camp, gends, concerning the exploits of Charlemagne and the senate. But he shows us also the naand his twelve peers. In like manner, the his- tion. He considers no anecdote, no peculiarity tory of Geoffrey of Monmouth has transmitted of manner, no familiar saying, as too insignifito posterity the life and exploits of king Arthur; cant for his notice, which is not too insignificant which by the industry of the old chronicler, and to illustrate the operation of laws, of religion, his successors, have been so interwoven and con- and of education, and to mark the progress of fused with a mass of fictions, that some critics' the human mind.