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nothing unless, forsooth, elaborate, discuss conversationally, as it were, with ourselves the merits of this "Rustic Tale." To appreciate them properly, we must carry along with us, during the perusal of the poem, a right understanding and feeling of that pleasant epithet-Rustic. Rusticity and Urbanity are polar opposites-and there lie between many million modes of Manners, which you know are Minor Morals. But not to puzzle a subject in itself sufficiently simple, the same person may be at once rustic and urbane, and that, too, either in his character of man or of poet, or in his twofold capacity of both; for observe that, though you may be a man without being a poet, we defy you to be a poet without being a man. A Rustic is a clodhopper; an Urban is a paviour. But it is obvious that the paviour in a field hops the clod; that the clodhopper in a street paces the pavée. At the same time, it is equally obvious that the paviour, in hopping the clod, performs the feat with a sort of city-smoke, which breathes of bricks; that the clodhopper, in pacing the pavée, overcomes the difficulty with a kind of country air, that is redolent of broom. Probably,too,Urbanus through a deep fallow is seen ploughing his way in pumps; Rusticus along the shallow stones is heard clattering on clogs. But to cease pursuing the subject through all its illustrations, suffice it for the present (for we perceive that
we must resume the discussion in another article) to say, that Allan Cunningham is a living example and lively proof of the truth of our Philosophy-it being universally allowed in the best circles of town and country, that he is an URBANE. RusTIC.
Now, that is the man for our love and money, when the work to be done is a Poem on Scottish Life. For observe, that though there are towns and cities in broad Scotland, such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paisley, Greenock, Ayr, and Dumfries, yet she consists chiefly in hills and valleys; nor need we tell you, that, without disparagement to the architectural genius of her Hamiltons, her Burns, and her Playfairs, any one of her hills or valleys is worth all her towns and cities jumbled together in one mighty metropolis. Look at Edinburgh and look at Clydesdale; and with a holy fervour you exclaim with Cowper,
"God made the country, but Man made the town."
Allan has often visited Dumfries, but he was born in Dalgonar. Dumfries is a pretty town, and genteel are its inhabitants. But Dalgonar is a glorious glen, and its natives are "God Almighty's gentlemen and ladies." And thus it is that our Poet delighteth in both-and both in our Poet; and that, by the waters of the Nith, the green Tree of his fame shall be eternal.
"Vale of Dalgonar, dear art thou to me!
Dear are your fairy dales and flowery downs,
Your woods, your streams where silver fishes dart;
Your martyrs' graves, your cots, your towers, your towns,
Grey sires and matrons grave, with their long mourning gowns,'
It may be shewn from Horace, we understand, and other classical authorities, that Rustic and Rural are not synonymes. We never said they were; but we do say they are near akin freres-brothers uterine-in truth, twins. Had Allan called The Maid of Elvar a Rural Tale, we do not know that we should have quarrelled with him on that score; we remember Milton's " Rural Villages and Farms;" but we feel that
he has chosen the more appropriate term, Rustic. It comprehends not only the scenery of the country, but its inhabitants and their occupations; and is instinct with spirit. All this is very questionable doctrine, on land debateable; but supposing it to pass, and therein lies its power. We can is the Poem rustic? Intensely so, Eustace→→ say of Allan, what Allan says of
"far from the pasture moor He comes; the fragrance of the dale and wood
Is scenting all his garments, green and good.
The rural imagery (mark how we observe our distinction) is fresh and fair; not copied Cockney-wise, from pictures in oil or water-colours from mezzotintoes or line-engravings -but from the free open face of day, or the dim retiring face of eve, or the face, " black but comely," of night-by sunlight or moonlight, ever Nature. Sometimes he gives usStudies. Small, sweet, sunny spots of still or dancing day-stream-gleam -grove-glow-sky-glimpse-or cottage-roof, in the deep dell sending up its smoke to the high heavens. But usually Allan paints with a sweeping pencil. He lays down his landscapes, stretching wide and far, and fills them with woods and rivers, hills and mountains, flocks of sheep and herds of cattle; and of all sights in life and nature, none so dear to
his eyes as the golden grain, ebbing like tide of sea before a close long line of glancing sickles no sound so sweet as, rising up into the pure harvest-air, frost-touched though sunny-beneath the shade of hedgerow-tree, after their mid-day meal, the song of the jolly reapers. But are not his pictures sometimes too crowded? No. For there lies the power of the pen over the pencil. The pencil can do much, the pen every thing; the Painter is imprisoned within a few feet of canvass, the Poet commands the horizon with an eye that circumnavigates the globe; even that glorious pageant, a painted Panorama, is circumscribed by bounds, over which imagination, feeling them all too narrow, is uneasy till she soars; but the Poet's Panorama is commensurate with the soul's desires, and may include the Universe.
their scientific coping, the green pas-
We have said already that we delight in the story; for it belongs to "order of fables grey," which has been ever dear to Poets. Poets have ever loved to bring into the pleasant places and paths of lowly life, persons (we eschew all manner of personages and heroes and heroines, especially with the epithet "our
prefixed) whose lot lay in a
higher sphere: For they felt that by such contrast, natural though rare, a beautiful light was mutually condition, and reflected from each o thereby that sacred revelations were made of human character, of which all that is pure and profound appertains equally to all estates of this our mortal being, provided only that happiness knows from whom it comes, and that misery and misfortune are alleviated by religion. Thus Electra appears before us at her father's Tomb, the virgin-wife of the peasant Auturgus, who reverently abstains from the intact body of the daughter of the king Look into Shakspeare. Rosalind was not so loveable at court as in the woods. Her beauty might have been more brilliant, and her conversation too, among lords and ladies; but more touching both, because true to tenfederer nature, when we see and hear her in dialogue with the neat-herdess
ROSALIND and Audrey! And trickles not the tear down thy cheek, fair reader burns not the heart within thee, when thou thinkest of Florizel and Perdita in the Forest?
This Poem reads as if it had been written during the hour of prime." early Allan must be an early riser. But, if not so now, some twenty or thirty years ago, he was up every morning with the lark, “Walking to labour by that cheerful song," away up the Nith, through the Dal-Nor from those visions need we swinton woods; or, for any thing fear to turn to Sybil Lesley. We see we know to the contrary, intersect- her as we said before, and say it .ing with stone-walls that wanted not again in Elvar Tower, a high-born
Lady-in Dalgonar Glen, a humble bondmaid. The change might have been the reverseas with the lassie beloved by the Gentle Shepherd. Both are best. The bust that gloriously set off the burnishing of the rounded silk, not less divinely shrouded its enchantment beneath the swelling russet. Graceful in bower or hail were those arms, and delicate those fingers, when moving white along the rich embroidery, or across the strings of the sculptured harp; nor less so when before the cottage door they woke the homely music of the humming wheel, or when on the Conthe brae beside the Pool, they playfully intertwined their softness among the new-washed fleece, or when among the laughing lassies at the Linn, not loath were they to lay out the coarse linen in the bleaching sunshine, conspicuous She the while among the
rustic beauties, as was Nausicaa of
old among her nymphs.
We are in love with Sybil Lesley. She is full of spunk. That is not a vulgar word; or if it have been so heretofore, henceforth let it be consecrated, and held synonymous with spirit. She shews it in her defiance of Sir Ralph on the shore of Solway in her flight from the Tower of Elvar. And the character she displays then and there, prepares us for the part she plays in the peasant's glen of Dalgonar. We are Sot surprised to see her take so kindly to the duties of a rustic service; for we call to mind how she sat among the humble good-folks in the hall, when Thrift and Waste figured in that rude but wise Morality, and how the gracious lady shewed she sympathized with the cares and contentments of lowly life. But there are seasons when, alas! and alack-a-day! there is no reliance to be placed-no security to be found-even in-spunk. Jadi yaogs
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Her temples burned as burns a kindled coal, B0
458 Love in their hearts reigned with a chaste controul, A 140 DAs in one soft entrancement touched their lips:
She blushed blood red for shame, and, starting from his grips,
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That for to touch her not young Eustace wanted grace."
But, near the end of all, when her fierce father, that proud palmer, frowning first on her and then on Eustace, seizes their linked hands,, and thrusting them wide asunder, says be do 4 neusit saT
Exotics" So I severo d Thee and that churl: now, by God's holy book-ioni suti, that stod I vow as water drank from Siddick's river send but oleat fest og I thus part him and no more 09 everitingih bus 29 there is a royal return and bold burst of spunk, DERD 97 todt at Thy daughter, I Shall keep my vow as sure as yon sun shines on high."
"And is Eustace likely to prove a fit mate for this "tarcel gentle?": Yes. For in the words of Beattie, In truth, young Eustace is no vulgar
in the words of Wordsworth,
66 He is a child of strength and state;" in the words of Campbell, speaking of Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd," he never speaks out of consistency with the habits of a peasant, but moves in that sphere with such a manly spirit, with so much cheerful sensibility to its humble joys, with maxims of life so rational and independent, and with an ascendency over his fellow swains, so well maintained by his force of
character, that if we could suppose the pacific scenes of the drama (here we must slightly alter the words of Campbell, who is an incomparable critic on poetry) to be suddenly changed into situations of trouble and danger, we should, in consistency with our former idea of him, expect him to become the leader of the peasants, and the Tell of his native hamlet."
We saw Eustace in one scene a thriving wooer. In several previous scenes Allan paints skilfully the progress of his perplexing passion for the delightful Double-ganger. And on the Discovery, when he finds that the supposed vagrant and orphan bondmaid is no other than the Maid of Elvar, the stern struggle between love and pride is strongly given, and we sympathize with the high-souled. peasant youth in the momentary shame that smites his face, with the agony that shakes his spirit from the thought that his base birth is a bar inseparable between him and his bliss. We are elated on his elevation -and confess that it is a case in which the eldest son of a noble house may be raised to the peerage., •ode sit Allan Cunningham has well preserved the character of his bold bright peasant, in thought, feeling, and ac tion; but he has not succeeded so admirably as Allan Ramsay, with his Gentle Shepherd, in the matter of words. Sometimes the language of Eustace is stiff and cumbrous in some stanzas, we suspect, too stately -for though Eustace was a poet, het was also "a tall fellow," and needed not, except in crossing a river, to walk upon stilts.
We have not much to say of the other characters. Sir Ralph Latoun is a stark Cumberland carle, who brings all disputed questions at once to the settlement of the sword. He is somewhat too much of a savage. . Miles Græme is,
a frugal yet free-hearted dame, who gives advice to damsels, in a spirit that shews she has not forgotten that she was once one herselfand who is endowed with so much good sense, sagacity, and smeddum, to say nothing of a natural propriety of demeanour, and an artless ease of manner, that, though born and bred, we believe, in a cottage, and with no other mental cultivation than is acquired unconsciously in the schooling of homely life, whose lessons are its daily duties we have not the slightest doubt whatever that her behaviour, when "my Lady" will be suitable to her rank, and that the conduct of the Peer's consort will do credit to the Peasant's daughter.
And now a few words of critical, but not carping censure. The incidents are sometimes smuggled in too hurriedly-and sometimes dragged in. too violently by the head and shoulders, or by the legs. The scene shifts now and then toos abruptly, leaving us at a loss to know where we are, how we got there, and what time has been past, or is passing in the action. Should an event be slow to happen, and look sulky, as if it would not happen at all, Allan will take no denial, but orders it in and out with a most magisterial air, that makes the event tremble in its shoes, and be but too happy to be off. In other moods he is toob ceremonious, and shews events in as if he were the Usher of the White Rod, instead of a Necromancer. 397 bat **The versification of the Poem is musical; but there is frequently too much effort made too many pains aken, and visibly so-to make it
various rhymesequently to
our ears the
a strange sound to our eyes a singular look, "as if they had no business there," clink-clanking less like cymbals than marrow-bones and and cleaver
The diction is rich and strong,
pleasant patriarch but sometimes too ambitious; and
and he impresses us so deeply with a conviction as well of his martial as of his peaceful worth, by his well-told stories of his, wanderings when a pilgrim through heathen lands, and by his well-fought, part in the final skirmish, that we believe, on a single word of his mouth, that he is indeed the good Lord Herries. His Lordship is well off in a wife--fat, fair, and forty-five
we have been sorry, on occasions where that virtue was indispensable, to desiderate simplicity Allan is a fine fearless fellow, and has a hearty scorn of all mereational delicacies and dignities; but he "outs" with words and images now and then that we cannot away with ;" and though there is not a single coarse sentiment in the Poem, there
are some sentences (we use the term advisedly) vulgar. We have already hinted, when speaking above of Eustace, that Allan Cuningham's style has a tendency to stateliness-we had almost said inflation; but we shall not say so, for that gives one the notion of a blown bladder, where as the fault we lay to his charge would be better typified-that is scarcely the word by a swollen pumpkin.
The Poem is in no part meagre; it never has, like Cassius," a lean and hungry look;" but it has here and there the opposite fault-it is like Hamlet, "fat and scant of breath;" and some stanzas, in their loose corpulence, have the hobbles. Akin to this crime, as Nicholas would call it, is occasionally too laborious an accumulation of imagery; and akin to that peccadillo again, is the repetition of the same images; as, for example, the song and flight of the Lark is mentioned twelve times, (we have counted them, and the number transcended our thumbs and fingers,) though true it is, and of verity, that Allan's lines are always good in which that lyrist sings, that musical sunbeam soars, or in which we see her "wakening by the daisy's side."
A considerable variety of clowns diversify the humbler home-scenes; and their colloquies are characteristic. But some of the boors are bores; and their absence would be agreeable company, though we are as firmly assured as we are of our own dislike to their clodhopperships, of Allan's affection for the whole fraternity; nor shall we seek to breed any bad blood between him and them, for, after all, they are a set of as worthy as wearisome fellows.
We do not doubt that the Poem Eustace sings at the competition, deserved the prize; nor have we the most distant intention of dropping a hint derogatory to her taste, or of throwing any doubt on the fairness of the award of the Maid of Elvar. She was no blue-stocking, and we verily believe a good judge of Poetry. But our modesty must not prevent us from promulgating our most solemn conviction, that, had we been there ourselves to tip Sybil a stave, we should have won the garland, and sent Eustace back bareheaded to
Dalgonar. He departs too wide and
Finally, Allan and we hold conflicting creeds on the subject of National Superstitions, considered in relation to Poetry. He believes, and writes fearlessly in the belief, that the blackest and brightest of them all may be brought in ad libitum by the Bard among the realities of life, and be suffered to pass away lowering or lustrous, without colouring permanently the incidents or characters of a Poem. We think not. And we suspect, that on our side we should have Shakspeare. So thinking, we cannot praise, and from them we derived no pleasure, his introduction of the scenes between Sir Ralph and the Goblin, between Eustace and the Fairies. The first, we fear, is bad, both in conception and execution; the second, though, taken by itself, not undelightful, makes a demand on our imagination to which it cannot yield-we shall not say the sacrifice of truth, for that is a trifle in the Fancy's faith, but the forced admission and mixture of fiction with truth, at a time, too, when the latter is felt to the soul all-sufficient, and the former to be an intrusion of unsubstantial dreams on the steadfast sanctity of Nature.