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are quite reluctant to confess, that their only fault is that of being oppressively wearisome and dull. The patience of Job would hardly suffice for the perusal of The Island Bride, which is a narrative poem, consisting of nine mortal cantos, each containing on an average about thirty Spenserian stauzas. We have no particular complaint to make of this operose undertaking; in Dogberry's phrase, "it is quite tolerable, and not to be endured." His rhymes are unexceptionable, his diction good, the versification smooth and uniform, and a bountiful array of the commonplaces of poetry appears on every page. Nearly all his stanzas are quite as good as half of those the inferior half, it is true in the first two cantos of Childe Harold. But it is unfortunate for Mr. Colman that he has provoked this comparison, for we sadly miss the other half. He has availed himself very liberally of the license granted by Horace,
"Verum operi longo fas est obrepere somnum";
but has quite forgotten a subsequent remark of the same critic, though it has been so often quoted, about a certain class of poets whom neither gods, men, nor booksellers will tolerate.
It is of no sort of importance what part of the poem we quote, in order to give our readers a taste of Mr. Colman's quality; for it would be difficult to find a work of equal length so uniform in its excellence. If we had found any better stanzas than the following, we should have given them the preference for citation; and our readers may be assured that the remainder of the poem is quite as good as this sample. We take at random the opening of the first canto, from which it will appear that the writer has been studying Byron very diligently; it is much to his credit, that he has left out of his own work all traces of the noble bard's wickedness and misanthropy, and rather unlucky for him, that he has omitted most of the poetry along with it.
"O, surely never superstition took,
Fair Greece, more gentle lineaments than thine!
Thy sweet congenial credence did entwine
"It lulled the yearnings of the human soul -
To the far orbs that o'er earth's changes roll,
On its half-human breast; and, with full freight
To earth by earthly ties, still struggles from the ground."
The minor poems at the end of the book are somewhat better; that is, they do not leave the reader's mind in that state of languid quiescence which creeps over one after accomplishing a heavy task. There are some vigorous lines among those "suggested at the White Mountains," and some tender images and pleasing description in Summer Musings and Mater Dolorosa; but neither of them rises so much above elegant mediocrity as to tempt us to enlarge our quotations. The Stanzas written after the Departure of an Atlantic Steamer are the best in the volume, though it is a misfortune that they remind one so plainly of Charles Sprague's glorious Shakspeare Ode; but Mr. Colman borrows nothing.
The seventh Muse has inspired a lady, and we are of opinion that we shall best manifest our deference for the sex by passing over her effusions very hurriedly. Mrs. Browne is an Englishwoman, who can probably allege the old excuse for her appearance in public,
"Obliged by hunger, or request of friends."
She has certainly a kind heart, and is disposed to commemorate in undying verse the virtues of some of these importunate friends, who might otherwise have remained unknown to fame. How grateful they are likely to feel for the compliment may be judged from the following stanza, taken from a little poem on the death of the Dowager Lady Powerscourt. "She who gains a heavenly crown
Earthly honors meekly wore,
Gladly laid the burden down,
Powerscourt was the name she bore."
This is quite enough. It is but a brick from the lady's edifice, but an architectural survey of it could not convey a more faithful idea of the whole structure.
Mr. Sargent has gained some reputation as a song-writer and dramatist, which is not likely to be either enhanced or diminished by the publication of his collected poems. Some of his shorter lyrics are dashed off with great freedom and spirit, though they would suffer by comparison with the bold and fanciful strains of Barry Cornwall, after which they are evidently modelled. Many of them have been successfully wedded to music, which is a good proof of the writer's skill in numbers. Mr. Sargent's ear is quite correct, and he has a fine flow of animated versification, which, with a manly tone of genial sentiment, and occasional delicacy and tenderness, has somewhat blinded the eyes of readers to his rather meagre fancy and lack of original thought. He probably lays no claim to the higher honors of poesy, and we are free, therefore, to give him the tribute that is really due to the simplicity and transparency of his diction, and the melody of his rhymes. He does not labor to be either imaginative or profound, and therefore never sinks into bathos or obscurity. The contents of the volume are very unequal, many of the pieces being occasional in character, and written at long intervals, for song appears to be his amusement, and not his vocation.
We cannot say much for the dramatic fragments; the dialogue is lively, and the conversational tone is well preserved; but these merits cannot conceal a great lack of invention, and poverty of thought. The names and garb of the personages introduced are Italian or Greek; but this theatrical disguise cannot conceal their Yankee origin, and their talk smacks of modern newspapers. Adelaide's Triumph is the most pleasing among the occasional poems; the story is an old one, but it is prettily versified, in a vein of pure sentiment, and with some pathetic effect. The Martyr of the Arena is but partially successful, and Gonello is an utter failure. There is something in the Whistlecraft and Beppo style and stanza which is very attractive to young men about town, and to poets of society; but to imitate them is hazardous, for without an exuberance of wit and fancy, they are flatter than stale beer.
It is a pity that Miss Farley was so ill-advised as to adopt for her volume one of those coxcombical titles which the bad taste of Mr. Willis has brought into fashion. Nothing could be more inappropriate, considering the modest character of
its contents, and the peculiar claims that it presents for a kind reception from the public. All that was wanted to secure immediate attention was a simple announcement of the fact, that Miss Farley was the editor of the Lowell Offering, and one of the most successful contributors to it; and that, encouraged by the favorable notice which has been taken of that periodical, both in this country and in Europe, she has collected from it, and published in a separate volume, her own fugitive pieces, both in prose and verse. The book, therefore, does not properly come under our cognizance at the present time, as two thirds of its contents are in sober prose. But we wished to assist in making its publication more widely known, so that the public may be able to form some estimate of the character and attainments of the females who are employed in the mills at Lowell. It shows what use was made of her leisure by one who spent twelve hours a day at the loom.
The appearance of the Lowell Offering was regarded as a strange phenomenon in England; but it excited comparatively little surprise here, where the blessings of education are so widely diffused, and a higher rate of wages, with a more earnest desire for independence, induces many to devote themselves to manual labor who are well qualified for a more ambitious, but less lucrative, calling. A farmer's daughter finds that she can earn more money by employment in a cotton factory, than by teaching a country district school; and as nearly all distinctions of class are merely nominal in this country, it is not strange that she should choose the shortest road to independence. It will be her own fault, if she is not quite as much respected in the mill as in the schoolhouse. Miss Farley's book shows more talent certainly, but not a higher degree of cultivation, or a wider range of reading, than is quite common among her associates in labor. She writes with facility and correctness, showing a tolerable command of expression, and an instinctive good taste. Her poems are smoothly versified, and display considerable fancy and humor, with frequent indications of deep feeling. She is evidently most familiar with Burns and Mrs. Hemans, and two of her imitations of the former, The Mouse's Visit, and the Lines addressed to the Comet of 1843, in the manner of the Address to the De'il, are quite successful. Certainly, the perusal of her volume was the least disagreeable portion of our task, when we undertook to give our readers some account of nine new poets.
ART. VII. The Life of William Alexander, Earl of Stirling, Major-General in the Army of the United States, during the Revolution; with Selections from his Correspondence. By his Grandson, WILLIAM ALEXANDER DUER, LL. D. Published for the New Jersey Historical Society, by Wiley & Putnam. New York. 1847. 8vo. pp. 272.
FEW contributions to the literature of our country are more useful than those which furnish the biographies of our distinguished men. In recording the actions, and giving an insight into the character, of those who have rendered valuable services to the republic, they at the same time bestow a merited reward on the faithful public servant, and hold up a valuable example to those who would tread the same honorable career. Moreover, the private records from which they are usually compiled often bring to view much that has escaped the documentary history of the times, and serve to cast a brighter light along the track of general history with which they are connected.
While Mr. Duer, therefore, has performed an act of filial duty in presenting to the public the papers of his distinguished ancestor, he has also made a valuable contribution to the existing materials for our national history. The narrative, too, with which he has skilfully connected the correspondence, that comprises the chief part of his work, supplies agreeably the information which the reader would desire, and enables him to form a just estimate of the actions and character of one of the fathers of our independence. From the volume before us we propose to give a condensed view of the life, services, and character of Lord Stirling.
William Alexander was born in New York, in 1726. His father, James Alexander, was a native of Scotland, who having served at an early age as an engineer officer in the army of the Pretender, in the rebellion of 1715, on its suppression, took refuge in America. Through the interest of friends, he obtained employment, on his arrival, in the office of the secretary of the province, and devoted his leisure assiduously to the study of law. His mathematical acquirements soon obtained for him the appointment of surveyor-general of the provinces of New York and New Jersey. He was also ad