Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

In England, Mrs. Chisholm has deservedly won golden opinions from all classes, notwithstanding that a base and bigoted attempt has been made to stay the progress of her beneficent work, by imputing to her an attachment to the Roman Catholic faith. We find no trace of such attachment in any of her writings, addresses, or operations; and even if it be true, it can be understood only in a very modified sense. Christians of all denominations have recognised in her a truly Christian spirit; and at the head of the Family Colonization Society, and active in promoting its purposes, is the very Protestant Earl of Shaftesbury. If the mean-spirited attempt alluded to had not been made publicly, we should have allowed it to pass unnoticed. Her work has been of too great and disinterested a character from the first to allow of her proselytizing to any sect. Of this she manifested her deep consciousness, when she nobly vowed, at the commencement of her labours in Australia, 'to know neither country nor creed, but to try to serve all justly and impartially.'

Although giving so much time and attention to the interests of others, it is due to Mrs. Chisholm that our readers of the fair sex should be informed, that her maternal duties are never neglected. In the midst of a vast correspondence and personal superintendence of business details, certain periods are sacredly assigned to domestic duties. Mrs. Chisholm has six children living, the three eldest of whom have aided in the labours of carrying into effect the gratuitous and philanthropic plans of emigration propounded by the Family Colonization Society, and it is gratifying to see the species of adoration and love with which they look on their amiable parents. Piety in deeds as well as in words—matrimonial, filial, and paternal love, unite together, and form one of the happiest of happy family circles.' Captain Chisholm is at the present moment in Australia, receiving the • family groups' on their arrival; and we have been recently informed that Mrs. Chisholm intends to leave England for the same destination in August next, in a screw steam-ship now building, to be called • The Caroline Chisholm.'

[We are indebted to several sources for the materials of the preceding paper, but chiefly to the • Memoirs' by Eneas Mackenzie. Respecting his book, we will not say much, as we have not taken it up with a view to criticism. The facts it contains render it sufficiently interesting. We cannot praise the style of its author, or the manner in which he has executed his task ; but as he seems conscious of its imperfections in these respects, we can only remark, that the subject was certainly worthy of abler treatment.]

colonial world, who was present, was then drunk,' and Mrs. Chisholm · returned thanks in person, with a grace of utterance that betokened a heart devoted, with all the energies of a powerful mind and a resolute will, to a work of Christian charity.'

The Reniewer Reviewed;

OR, THE NORTH BRITISH REVIEW' v. LONGFELLOW.

·

WE read in a very ancient historical book of an Ephraimite, who was in a terrible pucker, because some men had stolen from him the graven image to which he burnt incense. Very graphic is the picture which represents the enraged Ephraimite pursuing the thieves, and exclaiming, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and what have I more?' We do not put ourselves in the same category with Micah, but we thoroughly sympathize with his honestly-expressed feeling. What we love we do not like to be robbed of. We cry 'Hands off' to the spoiler, when he presumes to touch our cherished household gods; and if he will not hear this deprecation, we have something more in reserve for him. Now, as we want to discharge ourselves of a considerable amount of indignation with as little delay as possible, the sooner we indicate our meaning the better. In the August number of that always able quarterly, the North British Review,' there is an article entitled, American Poetry,' than which we remember nothing more disgraceful, more ungentlemanly, and more unlike the polish and refinement of a man of letters. William Cullen Bryant's poems, poor Edgar Thomas Buchanan Read's, and Longfellow's, are passed be.ore the reviewer in quick succession, and dealt with in a manner that equally violates the canons of criticism, and the rules of good breeding. At the end of the Review are several pages of advice tendered to all American poets; recommendations, which the reviewer says, it is especially desirable' they should follow; but which, as advice is always given gratis, with an allowance to those who take a quantity, we opine the American poets' will consider, before they do take it, even though the result should be, that if they do not, they will never rise above their present mediocrity, which is not tolerable to "gods or men," although unfortunately it is tolerated by women!' In reading this advice, running through three pages, we know not whether most to smile or to be indignant; to smile at the pert insolence and extreme SirOracleism of the whole, or to be indignant at the brazen hollowness of the man that could interlard such insolence with scraps from Holy Writ.

19

6

6

As for Longfellow, he is done for,' clean and complete. Henceforth he will hide his diminished head. The reviewer has given him such a dressing, and done it with such glee, such intense satisfaction, has chuckled over his tomahawk exploits in such a fashion, that we are strongly tempted to think the whole article was written by Master Wackford Squeers, of Dotheboys Hall. It is his juvenile precocity in full development. Oh my eye! won't I give it to the boys! Oh, father, won't I make 'em squeak again!' Those of our readers, and those who are not our readers (for there are many sincere admirers of

"

6

Longfellow out of our circle, albeit that is a widening one), who have been accustomed to read in their families, the gentle and loving poems of our best American writer, will be surprised at the grand anonymous, with a pompous 'we' for a pseudonyme, dealing with him after the following fashion :- Evangeline' is an ambitious poem,' 'written in lines that are intended to pass for hexameters,' which are nothing else 'than the measured prose which was thought so much of in the days of our grandmothers,' in which said hexameters 'illustrations from the Bible make up in sacredness for any degree of inaptitude,' and in which are conceits of scarcely a first-rate album rank;' and in which 'the life and doctrines of Christianity are brought in for artistical effect.'

Our readers remember the passage in which Father Felician is introduced as endeavouring to calm the stern and chafed spirits of the Acadians, in words which we think, begging the reviewer's pardon, are alike beautiful and Christian; but we must repeat them to give an idea of the taste of the Scotch reviewer. After awing into silence that clamorous throng, the poet represents the venerable Father as saying—

Lo! where the crucified Saviour, from his cross, is gazing upon you!
See in those sorrowful eyes, what meekness and holy compassion!
Hark, how those lips still repeat the prayer, "Oh, Father, forgive them!"
Let us repeat that prayer in the hour when the wicked assail us;
Let us repeat it now, and say, "Oh, Father, forgive them!"
Few were his words of rebuke; but deep in the hearts of the people
Sank they, and sobs of contrition succeeded that passionate outbreak.'

Upon this saith our Lycurgus :-'If any preacher were foolish enough thus to address good Christians so situated, we trust he would get well laughed at for his pains, and duly censured by his authorities' (Presbyterian or Episcopal?) for his gross misinterpretation and misapplication of scriptural precepts; but the foolish Acadians repented them forthwith of their righteous wrath and impulse to resistance, &c.' The conclusion of all which is, that the pity' of the reviewer for Gabriel, the son of Basil the blacksmith, the betrothed of Evangeline, is very much diminished by knowing that he is one of this congregation of spoonies!' Much more to the same effect is added, but the conclusion caps the climax: anything more cold-blooded we do not remember to have fallen in our way since the exultant shout of Master Wackford Squeers quoted above. We have laid,' says the critic, disproportionate emphasis upon the blame deserved by the poem, because we consider that the praise which it has obtained has been out of all proportion to its deserts.' This is a canon of literary immorality that we believed could not be found in religious journalism. The world says, Give every one, even So-and-so, his due. The North British' says, No, give him less than his due; disproportionate blame; because others have praised him. The old story; Why do you ostracise Aristides? Why? Because I am tired of hearing him called the Just!

There is a sweet poem,-the Psalm of Life,'-which we have seen

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

quoted by Dr. Hamilton, in his · Life in Earnest,' and by Dr. Campbell, in his · Witness,' and which our eldest son repeats to us frequently on a Sabbath evening, beginning with

• Tell me not in mournful numbers,

Life is but an empty dream,' &c.
We can scarcely resist the temptation to quote these stanzas :-

• Lives of great men all remind us,

We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sand of time.
*Footprints that perhaps another,

Sailing o'er life's troubled main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, may take heart again.' On this the reviewer says, We, the intelligent critics of the North British Review,”(sic) pronounce these verses to be 'pretensious, unprofitable, anti-christian trash ;' and the 'young man' who said this in his heart to the Psalmist •an unconscionable puppy!' We might go on quoting more, but the task is too sickening; it is like sipping rhubarb and magnesia at dinner. More than once have we thought of bestowing a kindly and a genial notice of Longfellow upon our readers, but this reviewer has moved us out of our place to be wroth instead of fraternal. We ought to add that the cloven foot of the odium theologicum is not quite concealed beneath this rabid effusion of a most dull prosaic soul, apparently without one spark of poetry or enthusiasm. • Mr. Longfellow, we believe, makes no secret of his being a Socinian: we should have guessed him to be such. Thus saith the reviewer, and because Mr. Longfellow is a Socinian he cannot write good verses. Burns was a sot and a villain, but he was a Scotchman, knew the Assembly's Catechism, swore by the Solemn League and Covenant, and wrote capital verses, for, thank God, he was not like Longfellow, a Socinian,* on whom this great tower in Siloam has now fallen.

But having reviewed the reviewer, not because we liked the task, but because duty impelled us to notice what seems to have escaped

[ocr errors]

* We commend to this reviewer an article in Edin. Rev.' vol. ii. p. 393, on Burns, from which we quote the following :-—The great boast of polished life is the delicacy and even the generosity of its hostility; that quality which is still the characteristic, as it furnishes the denomination, of a gentleman ; that principle which forbids us to attack the defenceless, to strike the fallen, or to mangle the slain ; and enjoins us in forging the shafts of satire, to increase the polish exactly as we add to their keenness or their weight.' And again, on Burns, who was not a Socinian, 'It requires no habit of deep thinking, nor anything more, indeed, than the information of a honest heart, to perceive that it is cruel and base to spend in vain superfluities that money which belongs of right to the pale industrious tradesman, and his famishing infants ; or that it is a vile prostitution of language to talk of that man's generosity or goodness of heart, who sits raring about friendship and philanthropy in a tavern, while his wife' heart breaking at her eerless fireside, and his children pining in solitary poverty.'

.

the attention of all our periodical literature, let us close our remarks by diverging from this antagonistic strain into one more genial. We make no secret of loving Longfellow: we read him often, and love him more as we know him more. We don't admire the Spanish Student: ' it is wearisome and flat, and the plot neither novel nor well sustained. The Golden Legend' contains some very clever things, but we read it rather as a laborious duty than as a resistless pleasure. We are not conscious of any Longfellolatry; but our hearts hang about some of his minor pieces with wordless delight. Who that has tasted sorrow and been called to bid farewell to the loved and lovely, does not murmur to himself the Footsteps of Angels,' and find in them a soothing balm? Who that has parted with a beloved child, and whose heart has been probed to the profound extent of parental anguish, does not remember, for it has been learnt by heart,—by heart, because it is liked and loved,-that exquisite piece beginning thus:

[ocr errors]

There is no flock, however watched and tended,
But one dead lamb is there!

There is no fireside, howso'er defended,
But has one vacant chair.

Let us be patient! These severe afflictions

Not from the ground arise,

But oftentimes celestial benedictions

Assume this dark disguise.'

And then the last verse: does not its truthful power touch every heart?

We will be patient, and assuage the feeling
We may not wholly stay;

By silence sanctifying, not concealing
The grief that must have way.'

There are two other pieces of Longfellow we have never yet seen quoted, but which in spite of some north countrie'-man pouncing upon them as 'anti-christian trash,' we will here quote, and bid farewell to our audience, begging them to do us the justice to remember that we were not first in the fray.

Here is a beautiful fancy :—

THE ARROW AND THE SONG.
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I know not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I know not where,
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward in an oak,

I found the arrow still unbroke;

And the song from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.'

The other piece is Blind Bartimeus.' Children are good judges

« PreviousContinue »