« ZurückWeiter »
Like orient pearls at random strung :
Sweet as the rose that scents the gale,
Beauty like thine, all nature thrills ;
Where could those peerless flow'rets blow ?
Sighing, I view that cypress waist,
Spreading thy toils with hands divine,
See at thy feet no vulgar slave,
Join Logan, the son of a Scottish farmer, was born in the parish of Fala, Mid Lothian, in 1748. He was educated for the Church, at the University of Edinburgh, and was appointed one of the ministers of South Leith, in 1773, having already obtained some reputation as a poet, and by his edition of the works of his friend and contemporary, Michael Bruce. In 1779 he delivered a series of lectures on the Philosophy of History; their merit was considered sufficient to justify him in becoming a candidate for the Professorship of Universal History, in the University; but the attempt unhappily failed. In 1781 he collected and published his poems; their success was such as to encourage him to attempt the production of a tragedy; he selected for his subject the Charter of Runnymede, and it was accepted at Corent Garden. The Lord Chamberlain, however, thought fit to prohibit the performance, under a groundless pretence that the Barons of King John were made to speak too freely of wrongs that still continued unredressed. Moreover, his parishioners took offence at his unclerical connexion with the stage. He resigned his charge and flung himself into the great vortex, London.
In London, he adopted literature as a profession; existed, in exceeding wretchedness, during three years; and died in December, 1788. “ He perished," says Mr. D'Israeli, in his Calamities of Authors, “ not of penury, but a broken heart." He had been disappointed in his hopes of fame; his ambition had led to naught; and he had become a prey to that melancholy which so frequently visits, in its severest form, those who are least fitted to contend against it. “ Logan," observes the writer we have quoted, “had the disposition of a poetic spirit not cast in a common mould; with fancy he combined philosophy, and adorned philosophy with eloquence; while no student had formed a loftier feeling of the character of a man of letters: "He found that his favourite objects and his fondest hopes were barren and neglected; after the failure of his schemes of literary ambition, his periods of depression became more frequent and less under his control, and he was unhappily led to obtain temporary relief by resorting to the bottle :
" And what was difficult, and what was dire,
Yields to your prowess and superior stars ;
The claims of Logan to be admitted among the acknowledged poets of Great Britain are by no means large, if they are estimated only by the number of his productions. It is, indeed, surprising that the encouragement his earlier efforts received did not lead to some of higher aim and more enduring character. A dozen miscellaneous poems - a few hymns, written with a view to amend the psalmody of the Scottish Church — his tragedy of “Runnymede," a work of no very sterling meritand a collection of unfinished fragments-comprise the list of his contributions to our store of national wealth. Among his poems, however, there are some of exceeding beauty; they are characterized by strength, vigour in conception, and elegance of diction; frequently indeed he compresses his ideas so as to give a volume in a sentence, and startles the reader by the immensity of thought that follows in its train. The few subjects upon which he occupied his pen are well chosen ; and whatever fault the Scottish Presbyters could find with the eccentricity of his conduct, they could urge none against the moral of his writings—they are worthy of the purest divine that ever undertook the sacred office.
His “ Ode to the Cuckoo" is one of the sweetest poems in the language. Logan has been charged with having stolen this composition from the posthumous manuscripts of Bruce, the collecting and editing of which were committed to his care. His claim to it, however, is not only supported by internal evidence, but the charge was never advanced against him while he was alive to repel it. Among his other poems may be named the Odes to Spring, to Women, and to Men of Letters, and his pathetic ballad of “ The Braes of Yarrow." His “Hymns" were failures, like all attempts to convert into rhyme the noble language of the Psalmist. To say that he has succeeded better than others have done, is saying very little. Those who are familiar with the original can be satisfied wi
“ Thy braes were bonny, Yarrow stream !
When first on them I met my lover; Thy braes how dreary, Yarrow stream!
When now thy waves his body cover ! For ever now, O Yarrow stream !
Thou art to me a stream of sorrow; For never on thy banks shall I
Behold my love, the flower of Yarrow! “ He promised me a milk-white steed,
To bear me to his father's bowers;
He promised me a wedding ring,
The wedding-day was fix'd to-morrow;Now he is wedded to his grave,
Alas, his watery grave in Yarrow! “ Sweet were his words when last we met;
My passion I as freely told him! Clasp'd in his arms, I little thought
That I should never more behold him ! Scarce was he gone, I saw his ghost;
It vanish'd with a shriek of sorrow; Thrice did the water-wraith ascend,
And gave a doleful groan through Yarrow. “ His mother from the window look'd,
With all the longing of a mother; His little sister weeping walk'd
The green-wood path to meet her brother: They sought him east, they sought him west,
They sought him all the forest thorough; They only saw the cloud of night,
They only heard the roar of Yarrow. “ No longer from thy window look,
Thou hast no son, thou tender mother! No longer walk, thou lovely maid !
Alas, thou hast no more a brother! No longer seek him east or west,
And search no more the forest thorough ; For, wandering in the night so dark,
He fell a lifeless corse in Yarrow. “ The tear shall never leave my cheek,
No other youth shall be my marrow; I'll seek thy body in the stream,
And then with thee I'll sleep in Yarrow.” The tear did never leave her cheek,
No other youth became her marrow; She found his body in the stream,
And now with him she sleeps in Yarrow.
ODE TO THE CUCKOO.
Hail, beauteous stranger of the grove !
Thou messenger of Spring!
And woods thy welcome sing.
Thy certain voice we hear;
Or mark the rolling year?
I hail the time of flowers,
From birds among the bowers.
To pull the primrose gay,
And imitates thy lay.
Thou fliest thy vocal vale,
Another Spring to hail.
Thy sky is ever clear;
No winter in thy year!
We'd make, with joyful wing,
Companions of the Spring.