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From the People's Journal.




A VERY unfair estimate of American poetry | certainly a man of decided ability. has recently made its appearance in a well- would, we have no doubt, make a good critic known London periodical. We cannot We cannot of prose writing, but he is altogether out of accuse the critic in question of a prejudice his element when he ventures to criticise poagainst American authors in general, for he etry. Poetic feeling is absolutely essential acknowledges fully and fairly the great merits to him who undertakes this office, and of poof the prose writers of America-her Coop- etic feeling our friend possesses little or none. ers and Irvings, her Prescotts and Danas- He does not believe that America has given but we do accuse him of a deplorable defi- us any true poetry. She certainly has not ciency in the matter of genuine poetic taste. produced a poet entitled to rank with ShakMany with minds largely endowed by nature, speare and Milton, with Shelley and Bailey; and vigorously cultivated, have shown them- but she has from time to time given us lyriselves unable to appreciate poetry. Frank- cal effusions which, if there be any truth in lin called poets the mere waste paper of the words of Keats, that "a thing of beauty mankind;" and a still more celebrated philo- is a joy for ever," will be as imperishable as sopher, pointing contemptuously to "Para- the great masterpieces of our own poetic dise Lost," is said to have put the question, literature. of "What does it prove ?" In our own day there are not a few men of signal ability who are utterly incapable of perceiving the beauties and the uses of poetry-for instance, the veteran reformer, Joseph Hume, whose head is invariably referred to by the phrenologists as furnishing an example of deficient ideality. And certainly the speeches of the member for Montrose, admirable as they generally are, do bear out the phrenologists' assertion. The same may be said of Mr. Thomas Wakley, undeniably a man of vigorous intellect, and of a plenteous endowment of self-esteem into the bargain, as was evidenced some time since, when he very quietly let his constituents know that he could "write as good poetry as Wordsworth, if he thought it worth while." Now nothing can be more certain than that the redoubted coroner of Middlesex would not have the slightest chance of winning the tiniest leaf in the poetic coronar (as a cockney would call it), though he were to live through the united years of every man, woman, and child, upon whose body he has held an inquest, and were to labor unceasingly during those years for the acquisition of the single leaflet.

The writer of the criticism to which we

alluded at the beginning of this paper, is

* Frazer's Magazine, reprinted in the August number of the Eclectic Magazine.

We have charged this critic with a want of poetic taste. Now to the proof. He speaks of John Greenleaf Whittier, but seems perfectly unaware of the existence of that gentleman's ballad of "Cassandra Southwick," one of the noblest lyrics in the English language. Cassandra's father had been imprisoned and deprived of his property, by the Puritans of Boston, for entertaining two Quakers. She and her brother were afterwards fined ten pounds each, for non-attendance at church, which they being unable to pay, an order was passed by the General Court of Boston (it may still be seen on the court records), by which the treasurer of the county was "fully empowered to sell the said persons to any of the English nation at Virginia or Barbadoes, to answer said fines." What could be more soul-stirring than the reply of the "rough sea captain," when the sheriff inquires who will take and dispose of the Quaker maid? Cassandra feels a hard hand press her own, and a kind voice encourage her, and then

A weight seemed lifted from my heart, a pitying friend was nigh,

I felt it in his hard, rough hand, and saw it in his eye;

And when again the sheriff spoke, that voice so

kind to me,

Growled back its stormy answer, like the roaring

of the sea.

"Pile my ship with bars of silver, pack with coins | igoth," was deserving of, at least, passing of Spanish gold,

From keel-piece up to deck plank, the roomage of

her hold;

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And sneering priest, and baffled clerk, rode murmuring in his track.

And Willis, too. Is there no poetry in "The Leper," or in "Absalom ;" or in that lovely picture, "A child's first impression of a star," which looks as if it had been painted with a pencil dipped in sunset clouds?

She had been told that God made all the stars
That twinkled up in heaven; and now she stood
Watching the coming of the twilight on,
As if it were a new and perfect world,
And this were its first eve. She stood alone
By the low window, with the silken lash
Of her soft eye upraised, and her sweet mouth
Half parted with new and strange delight
Of beauty that she could not comprehend,
And had not seen before. The purple folds
Of the low sunset clouds, and the blue sky
That looked so clear and delicate above,
Filled her young heart with gladness, and the eve
Stole on with its deep shadows, and she still
Stood looking at the west, with that half smile,
As if a pleasant thought were at her heart.
Presently, in the edge of the last tint
Of sunset, where the blue was melted in
To the faint, golden mellowness, a star
Stood suddenly. A laugh of wild delight
Burst from her lips, and putting up her hands
Her simple thought broke forth expressively-
"Father, dear father, God has made a star!"

The description of Jesus in "The Leper," is worthy to be compared with the noble one in Festus Bailey's "Angel World."

Fitzgreen Halleck's poem, "The death of Marco Bozzaris," may not be quite equal to the "Battle of the Baltic," and be a right glorious poem notwithstanding; and surely Edward Everett's "Dirge of Alaric, the Vis

* The Sheriff.

mention. Not a syllable is uttered concerning the simple and beautiful songs of General George Morris. The great song-writer of the States, and the poetesses of America, are very cavalierly dismissed without notice, on account of their great number. We wonder whether this critic ever read Mrs. Frances Osgood's poem of "Labor?" 'It is a piece of great poetic beauty, and would of itself preserve her name to posterity. She is, alas, no longer a denizen of earth! There is also an American lady bearing the name of Lydia Sigourney, who has written a poem entiled " Alpine Flowers;" which poem has been, not undeservedly, compared with Coleridge's celebrated "Hymn before Sunrise in But we fear that the Vale of Chamouni.”

our critic resembles Peter Bell-that

A primrose by the river's brim,
A yellow primrose is to him,
And it is nothing more;

and that flowers, whether by river's side or far away up the Alpine heights, possess small attractions in his eyes. Here are Mrs. Sigourney's lines on the "Death of an Infant;" we cannot refrain from giving them, they are so beautiful :

Death found strange beauty on that polish'd brow,
And dash'd it out. There was a tint of rose
On cheek and lip. He touched the veins with ice,
And the rose faded.

Forth from those blue eyes There spake a wishful tenderness, a doubt Whether to grieve or sleep, which innocence Alone may wear. With ruthless haste he bound The silken fringes of those curtaining lids For ever.

There had been a murmuring sound, With which the babe would claim its mother's ear, Charming her even to tears-the spoiler set The seal of silence.

But there beam'd a smile, So fix'd, so holy, from that cherub brow, Death gaz'd, and left it there. He dar'd not steal The signet ring of heaven.

To supply even specimens of our favorite American poets is quite out of the question in a paper like this. Before us lies a heap of songs and ballads, the production of the rich fancy and warm heart of George Morris. Not many weeks since, at a public meeting in London, a gentleman claimed to be heard speak on the ground of his connection with the public press from the time he was seven

years of age. We will not undertake to say that General Morris ran his juvenile fingers over the chords of the lyre at so very early a period, but it is certain he tried his hand at writing for the newspapers when he was yet but a mere child.

While in his teens, he was a constant contributor to various periodicals. Many of his articles attracted notice. He began to acquire a literary reputation; and, at length, in 1822, being then in his twentieth year, he became editor of the "New York Mirror."

This responsible post he continued to hold until the termination of that paper's existence in 1834.

Morris accomplished an infinity of good in the twenty years during which he wielded the editorial pen. Perhaps no other man in the United States was so well qualified for the noble task he set himself at the outset of his career as editor. American literature was in its infancy, and subject to all the weaknesses of that period. Morris resolved to do his utmost towards forming a character for it, and looked abroad anxiously for such as could aid him in his endeavor. The "Mirror" will ever be fondly remembered by the American literary man, for it has been the cradle of American genius. In it Willis, Theodore Fay, and many others, whose names will not soon be forgotten, first tried their "prentice hans'." In its pages clever artists of every kind were certain of a kind reception. Morris, indeed, appears to have been almost a universal genius. He saw the wants of his country-it had no erature, no drama, no school of painting. Morris vigorously girded up his loins, resolved to do his utmost to remedy all this. None had a sharper eye than he for the detection of latent talent, and none were more ready by sound counsel and otherwise to aid its possessor. A writer in "Graham's Magazine," (American) speaks warmly of Morris's perseverance and address in disciplining a corps of youthful writers; of the keen eye which could discern in some nameless manuscripts the promise of future power; of the firm and open temper which his example inspired into the relations of literary men with one another throughout the land; of the inestimable value to America of the singular variety and discursiveness of the intellectual sympathies of General Morris.

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he overrates his merits in the least. From other sources we have ourselves learned much of the genial nature of George Morris, and his gigantic labors as a literary pioneer. Considering its juvenility as a nation, republican America indeed has been amazingly prolific of good writers. The large share Morris has had in awakening the latent talent of his countrymen must ever be to him a high source of gratulation. And, then, as an original writer he has won for himself a high place amongst literary Americans; he is, in fact, known throughout the States as "The song-writer of America." And we have the authority of Willis for stating that ninetynine people out of a hundred-take them as they come in the census-would find more to admire in Morris's songs than in the writings of any other American poet. Willis also tells us, as a proof of the General's popularity with those shrewd, dollar-loving men, the publishers, that "he can at any time obtain fifty dollars for a song unread, when the whole remainder of the American Parnassus could not sell one to the same buyer for one shilling! He is the best known poet of the country by acclamation-not by criticism."

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Morris seems to have had juster notions of what was required in a song than many who have achieved celebrity as song-writers in this country. The just notion and office of the modern song" has been defined to be, the embodiment and expression in beauty of some thought or sentiment-gay, pensive, moral, or sentimental-which is as natural and aplit-propriate in certain circumstances as the odor to the flower. Its graceful purpose is to exhibit an incident in the substance of an emotion, to communicate wisdom in the form of sentiment. A song should be the embodiment of some general feeling, and have reference to some season or occurrence.

To him this writer attributes the present flourishing condition and bright prospects of transatlantic literature. He evidently possesses a personal knowledge of the renowned literary general, and discourses right eloquently in his praise. Nor do we think that

It is not a very difficult thing to make words rhyme; some of the most unimaginative intellects we ever knew could do so with surprising facility. It is rare to find a sentimental miss or lackadaisical master who cannot accomplish this intellectual feat, with the help of Walker's Rhyming Dictionary. As for love, why every one writes about it now-a-days. There is such an abhorrence of the simple Saxon-such an outrageous running after outlandish phraseology, that we wonder folk are satisfied with this plain term. We wonder they do not seek for an equivalent in high Dutch or in low Dutch, in Hungarian or in Hindostanee. We wish they would, with all our heart and soul. We have no objection, provided the heart be

touched, that a head should produce a little of the stuff called "nonsense verses"--that this article should be committed to scented note-paper, and carefully sealed up with skewered hearts of amazing corpulence. God forbid that we should be thought guilty of a sneer at real affection!--far from it; such ever commands our reverence. But we do not find it in the noisy tribe of goslings green who would fain be thought of the nightingale species. Did the reader ever contemplate a child engaged in the interesting operation of sucking a lollipop ?--we assure him that that act was dictated by quite as much of true sentiment as puts in action the fingers and wits of the generality of our young amatory poetasters. We know of none who have written more charmingly of love than George Morris. Would to Apollo that our rhymesters would condescend to read carefully his poetical effusions! But they contain no straining after effect-no extravagant metaphors-no driveling conceits; and so there is little fear of their being taken as models by those gentlemen. Let the reader mark the surpassing excellence of the love songs; their perfect naturalness; the quiet beauty of the similes; the fine blending of graceful thought and tender feeling which characterize them. Morris is, indeed, the poet of home joys. None have described more eloquently the beauty and dignity of true affection-of passion based upon esteem; and his fame is certain to endure while the Anglo-Saxon woman has a hearthstone over which to repeat her most cherished

household words.

Here is Morris's "Seasons of Love." Seldom have the benign effects of the passion been more felicitously painted :—

The spring time of love

Is both happy and gay, For joy sprinkles blossoms

And balm in our way;
The sky, earth, and ocean,
In beauty repose,

And all the bright future
Is couleur de rose.

The summer of love

Is the bloom of the heart, When hill, grove, and valley, Their music impart ; And the pure glow of heaven Is seen in fond eyes, As lakes show the rainbow That's hung in the skies. The autumn of love

Is the season of cheerLife's mild Indian summer, The smile of the year;

Which comes when the golden,

Ripe harvest is stored;
And yields its own blessings-
Repose and reward.

The winter of love

Is the beam that we win, While the storm scowls without, From the sunshine within. Love's reign is eternal,

The heart is his throne, And he has all seasons

Of life for his own.

What simple tenderness is contained in the ballad of "We were boys together"! Every word in that beautiful melody comes home to the heart of him whose early days have been happy. God help those in whom this those whose memories it does not get wanpoem awakens no fond remembrances !— dering up the stream of life, toward its source; beholding at every step the sun smiling more brightly, the heavens assuming a deeper hue, the grass a fresher green, and the flowers a sweeter perfume. How wondrous are not its effects upon ourselves! The wrinkles have disappeared from our brow, and the years from our shoulders, and the marks of the branding iron of experience from our heart; and again we are a careless child, gathering primroses, and chasing butterflies, and drinking spring water from out the hollow of our hands. Around us are the hedges "with golden gorse bright blossomheard of death, but we know not what it is; ing, as none bloom now-a-day." and the word change has no meaning for us; and summer and winter, and seed-time and harvest, has each its unutterable joys. Alas!

we can

We have

dream-land. Nevertheless, we have profited never remain long in this happy greatly by the journey. The cowslips and violets gathered by us in childhood shall be potent in the hour of temptation; and the cap of rushes woven for us by kind hands in days gone by shall be a surer defense than a helmet of steel in the hour of battle. No, no; we will never disgrace our antecedents.


We were boys together,
And never can forget

The school-house near the heather,
In childhood where we met;
The humble home to memory dear,

Its sorrows and its joys;

Where woke the transient smile or tear,
When you and I were boys.

We were youths together,
And castles built in air,

Your heart was like a feather,

And mine weigh'd down with care;

To you came wealth with manhood's prime,

To me it brought alloysForeshadow'd in the primrose time,

When you and I were boys.

We're old men together

The friends we loved of yore
With leaves of autumn weather
Are gone for evermore.

How blest to age the impulse given,
The hope time ne'er destroys-
Which led our thoughts from earth to heaven,
When you and I were boys!

tagonist set foot, in the south, he should never return alive to Boston-no, though he were girt with a body-guard of thirty thousand men. Channing's tribute to the memory of Milton is a splendid piece of composition. We consider it finer than that of Macaulay's noble offering at the same sacred. shrine-rich though that offering be in "barbaric pearl and gold." And what shall we say of Washington Irving, the gentle spirit to whom we owe so many happy hours?he who has given us Rip Van Winkle and We regret we have not space to enter Ichabod Crane-who has collected for us more largely into the merits of Morris; but the Moorish legends of Andalusia-who has there is one quality in his songs to which we voyaged with Columbus for our benefit, and cannot but direct attention-and this is their traced out the wonderful career of the proalmost feminine purity. The propensities phet and his sworded successors-the Addihave had their laureates; and genius, alas! son of the States, and best biographer of has often defiled its angel wings by contact gentle Oliver Goldsmith. And Leatherwith the sensual and the impure. But Mor-stocking Cooper? who in the number of his ris has never attempted to robe vice in beauty; and, as has been well remarked, his lays can bring to the cheek of purity no blush save that of pleasure.

We began by expressing our disapproval of a certain criticism on American poetry; we cannot conclude without expressing our deep obligations to the prose writers of America. Many of them have rendered large service to the cause of humanity, and none more than the ever-to-be-venerated Channing. His eloquent treatise on slavery can never become a forgotten book. The mightiest of earth's conquerors might well envy the little Boston hero the moment when the southern slave-breeders, raging at the exposure of their crimes, swore with the most horrible imprecations that should their an

fictions almost rivals our own James. And Prescott, the great historian? and Herman Melville? whose narratives fascinate like the eye of the "Ancient Mariner." And Dana, and-but we must conclude; and this we do by wishing fair competence and long life and happiness, and fruitful vines and beautiful olive branches, to every penman at both sides of the ocean who labors to unite the two great divisions of the Anglo-Saxon race in the bonds of brotherhood, and who desires to make those bonds endure till-to apply the words of the fine American poet, Pierpont, writing of the Pilgrim Fathers

Till the waves of the bay,
Where the Mayflower lay,
Shall foam and freeze no more.

HANDWRITING. Some time ago, persons inclined to an ambitious turn of mind thought it indicative of an intellectual or literary disposition to write an unreadable hand; and we have heard men boast that they wrote so as not to be understood. This is an odd kind of success, and a very vulgar one to boot. A rapid hand may indicate a habit of writing, and therefore a familiarity with pursuits more or less intellectual; but not to be able to write both well and fast is a defect of skill, and can in no way be twisted into an ornamental trait. To write so that your correspondent cannot decipher you is silly

as regards your own object in writing, disrespectful as regards him. Not to perceive that certain words which do not derive elucidation from the context, such as technical terms and proper names, need particular distinctness, is a mistake of dullness. We do not mean to say that all men who write badly are dullards, or we might be confuted by a storm of illustrious autographs; but we do mean, that when a man intends to make you understand an idea, has a pen in his hand for the purpose, and fails for want of capacity to make the letters of the alphabet, that man's intellect is asleep.-Spectator.

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