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Unfading shines the constant polar star;
In closing our remarks on these Tragedies, we cannot omit to notice a popular and vulgar error into which Mr. Pennie has fallen; and which is stated with all the weight of grave authority, in a note, page 122; viz. that of its having been the custom of the Druids to sacrifice human beings on their altars. We had thought that those best read in Celtic lore, (and in this class we readily rank Mr. Pennie,) had long ago been convinced that the British Druids had far too exalted an idea of the Deity, and were too deeply imbued with loving-kindness and mercy, to give way to such horrid paganism. Indeed, their creed and manners appear to have been nearly approaching to that simplicity and perfection so sublimely inculcated and enforced in the revelation of Jesus Christ; and it is not by any means fair that so foul an imputation should be disseminated in the present day, when it is well known there are still those who profess themselves Druids, acting upon the principles of their long-gone predecessors, and whose horror of the destruction of human life may be inferred from the fact of their absolute refusal, not only to slay, but even to witness the slaughter of any animal what
For a further account of these misrepresented sages, we refer our author to the lyric poems of Edward Williams, where, in his “Principles of Bardisin," he completely, to our minds, refutes the monstrous accusation. True it is that Mr. Pennie has very aptly said, from Horace Walpole, that
“Belief in every kind of prodigy was so established in those dark ages, that an author would not be faithful to the manners of the times, who should omit all mention of them. He is not bound to believe them himself, but he must represent his actors as believing them."
But with deference to Mr. Pennie, and his extremely able authority, if it be shewn, as we think it is, that the actors of the events in those times did not believe in such prodigies of evil, inasmuch as they did not take place, the saying of Ilorace Walpole, although doubtless meant to be an axiom, falls to the ground. The poetry of history should be founded on truth, which it is at liberty to embellish, but by no means to alter; for truth is above all other things that which should not be tampered with. It embodies all that we worship as divine: all that we admire and esteem as human; and to it, more than any other thing on earth, should be applied the heartfelt aspiration, esto perpetua.
On the whole, we are convinced that there is in Mr. Pennie's
mind, deep thought, aided by profound study. His versification is generally smooth and harmonious; rising, not unfrequently, to the grand and noble; and exhibiting throughout an amiability and charity, alike creditable to the man and the Christian. We shall hail his future productions with real pleasure.
The Celtic Annals. A Poem. By the Rev. John Parker, A.M.
1 vol. 8vo. Rivingtons; London, 1831.
(Concluded from p. 106.)
We cannot resume the subject of “The Celtic Annals” without allowing our imagination to stray amongst the wild legends of our beauteous land, amid those stories of stirring and romantic interest wherein the names of the most renowned of our British ancestors are set forth. Our mind's eye turns to the lonely barrow on the hoary mountain's top, where sleep the ashes of the honoured brave; to the dark thick foliage of Mona's consecrated groves; to the venerable Druid priest, whose robes, (white as the sun-lit snow on Berwyn's broad and dusky shadowing brow,) stream in the breeze, as if in blessing on the assembled gorsedd. We dwell on the memory of Arthur, the great and good, “the darling of romance;” on Owain Glyndwr, the proud and free, whose course was brilliant, yet evanescent, as the blazing meteor, which, ere we have time to wonder at, has passed away, and is seen no more. We behold, in all its horrors, the dread massacre of the bards; we see, high on the desolate and topmost rock, the figure of the last of all that ancient tribe, seeming as a spirit to linger between earth and sky; while we hear the wild tones of his harp and voice descending like Heaven's thunder on the head of their destroyer, the “ruthless king.”
We could, indeed, cite example after example of the proud and glorious deeds of our ancestors, did not our space warn us to recall our glowing mind, and attend to the subject matter more immediately before us, by briefly adding to the observations made in our last Number, on Mr. Parker's clever work, which has so strongly recalled those fond recollections we have just now obtruded upon our readers.
We have before complained, and we think with reason, on the strangeness of the garb in which our author has veyed his poetry to the world; and during the three months that have elapsed since our last writing, we have not seen any reason to change our opinion. Once more, we would entreat Mr. Parker to abandon his restive hexameters, and convince us, as we feel assured he can, that he is able to effect a
poem that may live after he and ourselves shall have ceased to do so; one which his sons and grandsons shall be proud to speak of as having been written by him; and which ours may congratulate us as having been the fortunate reviewers to have had placed before us.
Mr. Parker has given us a specimen in the“ Passengers" (which our readers will recollect is bound up with the poem of the“Annals,") of the Greek Anapæst, or dance song, which, as an adaptation in English, is as interesting as scarce. Of the manner and capabilities of this verse, we think much more highly than of the Hexameters; and it is quite a relief to us to find ourselves bounding along with the author in the Anapest; instead of dragging dull lengths along with the hexameters. Confound the very name of them! for we verily believe Mr. Parker has, all unconsciously, put us out of love with them for ever. Not so the Anapest, of which we give the author's able specimen.
In a moment, all yon distant world,
• Pronounced Keiri.
Banded ranks, and sun-bright armour,
In this poem the author has justly remarked that the strict rules of anapæstic song are not observed, viz. those which regulate the cæsural pause. There is, however, (notwithstanding the absence of the additional fire and spirit with which the cæsural pause is adapted to imbue any thing like patriotic song,) still great beauty in this little ode; and we particularly call attention to the second, fifth, sixth, and seventh stanzas; the first mentioned being replete with the truest poetical imagery and beauty. It is when such passages are written, that the looker on might see “the poet's eye in fine frenzy rolling:" then, indeed, it is that the true inspiration from Parnassus descends on the head of the devoted Bard in blessing and in majesty, crowning the works of mortal with immortality, and himself with the fame of ages, yet afar off in the bosom of futurity.
We here take leave of Mr. Parker, being sure he will understand that the spirit in which our observations have been made, has been that of candour and fairness. Of our high estimate of his poetical powers, we trust we have here and previously, said enough to convince him. We admire his wild and free-born
She is a mountain maiden, bare-legged, it is true, and her hair dishevelled, but possessing a spirit like Diana, in the ardour of the chace, together with all the roseate softness of Jove's own Hebe. We have found fault with her because she has strayed among our hills in the would-be-guise of a Grecian lady, from the plains of Troy. Let her put on mountain garments, and, once more, take her stand, when the sun is rising, on Moel Siabed's glorious height; then let her revel amid the history and the legends of “wild Wales”; and let her song be loud and joyous. Then, indeed, shall we, though, albeit of the humblest, be among the most admiring of her auditors.
Evan Bane; a Highland Legend, and other Poems. By D. M.
Ferguson. London: Longman and Co. 1832. “ A Highland Legend!” said we to ourselves, on opening this little volume. How did the idea recall our days of early delight, when, residing in one of the most secluded situations in the country, we were wont to have our young imagination charmed by the sweet and silvery songs of the great Celtic enchanter Scott! when “Marmion,” “the Lady of the Lake,” and “the Lay of the Last Minstrel,” followed in quick succession,—where we were constrained to admire gallant though bloody chieftains; to weep over fallen innocence, and truth betrayed; and where we needed no constraint to fall deeply in love alike with highborn jewelled dames, and unadorned, bare-footed, peasant maidens. How did our young mind rejoice in the dread strife of battle, where met, in proud defiance, Britain's boasted chivalry! How did we revel in the hearty feast, where resounded the minstrel's harp, and the stout yeoman's jovial song! And ah!, how much more did our heart bound with delight within the gay and lighted hall, where brave knights and ladies fair moved graceful 'mid the mazes of the dance, where
_"bright the lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men;
And when music rose, with its voluptuous swell,
And all went merry as a marriage bell.” The world, at least that portion of it which comes under the description of the phlegmatic and cold, may perhaps laugh at us for thus throwing back our eyes, through the darkening veil of time, to the period of life's outset, when all was bright, fresh, and beauteous as the blush of early morn. Let them laugh; we are not ashamed to avow that we have possessed a joy in the regions of romance, far greater than we can express; and although we have since experienced the sad realities of sorrow and trial, we are not now, and far be. it from us ever to be, the less prone to cherish the happiness that has once been ours.
The author of “Evan Bane” has evidently profited by the field of romance, into which his studies appear to have been directed, and has woven out of an old, and sufficiently terrible story, a sweet and fowing poem, which, to say the least of it, merits praise, and is well adapted to repay the attention of perusal. We suspect him, however, to be a very young poet, inasmuch as he has so closely imitated Scott, that whole passages of “ Evan Bane," had they been printed anonymously, might have been mistaken for the productions of Sir Walter. This, it may be thought, is no mean praise: but we beg to assure Mr. Ferguson that we mean it not as such; but merely as a hint to himself,