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pletely covered the Jura, with the exception of a few high crests, perhaps, rising island-like above it, and mounted to a height of some nine thousand feet upon the Alps, while it extended on the one side into the northern plain of Italy, filling all its depressions, and on the other Jown to the plains of Central Europe. The only natural inference from these facts is, that the climatic conditions leading to their existence could not have been local; they must have been cosmic. When Switzerland was bridged across from range to range by a mass of ice stretching southward into Lombardy and Tuscany, northward into France and Burgundy, the rest of Europe could not have remained unaffected by the causes which induced this state of things.
It was this conviction which led me to seek for the traces of glaciers in Great Britain. I had never been in the regions I intended to visit, but I knew the formj of the valleys in the lake - country of England, in the Highlands of Scotland, and in the mountains of Wales and Ireland, and I was as confident that I should find them crossed by terminal moraines and bordered by lateral ones, as if I had already seen them.
The reader must not suppose, when I describe these walls, formed of the debris of the glacier, as consisting of boulders, atones, pebbles, sand, and gravel, a rough accumulation of loose materials indiscriminately thrown together, that we find the ancient moraines presenting any such appearance. Time, which mellows and softens all the wrecks of the past, has clothed them with turf, grassed them over, planted them with trees, sown his seed and gathered in his harvests upon them, until at last they make a part of the undulating surface of the country. Were it not for anticipating my story, I could point out many a green billow, rising out of the fields and meadows immediately
about us, that had its origin in the old ice-time. Thus disguised, they are not so evident to the casual observer; but, nevertheless, when once familiar with the peculiar form, character, and position of these rounded ridges scattered over the face of the country, they are easily recognized.
Of course, the ancient glaciers of Great Britain were far more difficult to trace than those of Switzerland, where the present glaciers are guides to the old ones. But, nevertheless, my expectations were more than answered. The first valley J entered in the glacial regions of Scotland was barred by a terminal moraine; and throughout the North of England, as well as in Scotland and Ireland, I found tin: hill-sides covered with traces of glacial action, as distinct and unmistakable as those I had left in my native land. And not only was the surface of the country polished, grooved, and scratched, as in the region of existing glaciers, and presenting an appearance corresponding exactly to that described elsewhere, but we. could track the path of the boulders where they had come down from the hills above and been carried from the mouth of each valley far down into the plains below. In Scotland and Ireland the phenomena were especially interesting. I had intended to give in this article some account of the "parallel roads" of Glenroy, marking the ancient levels of glacier-lakes, so much discussed in this connection. But the reminiscences of old friends, and the many associations revived in my mind by recurring to a subject which I have long looked upon as a closed chapter, so far as my own researches are concerned, have'constantly led me beyond the limits I had prescribed to myself in these papers upon glaciers; and as the story of Glenroy and the phenomena connected with it is a long one, I shall reserve it for a subsequent number.
The literary life of Bryant begins with the publication of " Thanatopsis " in the "North American Review,"in 1816; for we need take no account of those earlier blossoms, plucked untimely from the tree, as they had been prematurely expanded by the heat of party polities. The strain of that song was of a higher mood. In those days, when American literature spoke with faint and feeble voice, like the chirp of half-awakened birds in the morning twilight, we need not say what cordial welcome was extended to a poem which embodied in blank verse worthy of anybody since Milton thoughts of the highest reach and noblest power, or what wonder was mingled with the praise when it was announced that this grand and majestic moral teaching and this rich and sustained music were the work of a boy of eighteen. Not that Bryant was no more than eighteen when " Thanatopsis" was printed, for he must pay one of the tributes of eminence in having all the world know that he was born in 1794; but he was no more than eighteen when it was written, and surely never was there rippr fruit plucked from so young a tree. And now we have before us, with the imprint of 1864, his latest volume, entitled "Thirty Poems." Between this date and that of the publication of "Thanatopsis" there sweeps an arch of forty-eight years. With Bryant these have been years of manly toil, of resolute sacrifice, of faithful discharge of all the duties of life. The cultivation of the poetical faculty is not always favorable to the growth of the character, but Bryant is no less estimable as a man than admirable as a poet . It has been his lot to earn his bread by the exercise of the pros; part of his mind, — by those qualities which he has in common with wiher men, — and his poetry has. been written in the intervals and breathingspaces of a life of regular industry. This
VOL. XIII. 18
necessity for ungenial toil may have added something to the shyjiess and gravity of the poet's manners; but it has doubtless given earnestness, concentration, depth, and a strong flavor of life to hi* verse. Had ho been a man of leisure, he might have written more, but he could hardly have written better. And nothing tends more to prolong to old age the freshness of feeling and the sensibility to impressions which are characteristic of the poetical temperament than the dedication of a portion of every day to some kind of task-work. The sweetest flowers are those which grow upon tho rocks of renunciation. Byron at thirtyseven was a burnt-out volcano: Bryant at threescore and ten is as sensitive to the touch of beauty as at twenty.
The poetry of Bryant is not great in amount, but it represents a great deal of work, as few men are more fmished artists than he, or more patient in shaping and polishing their productions. No piece of verse ever leaves his hands till it has received the last touch demanded by the most correct judgment and tho most fastidious taste. Thus the style of his poetry is always admirable. Nowhere can one find in what he has written a careless or slovenly expression, an awkward phrase, or an ill-chosen word. He never puts in an epithet to fill out a line, and never uses one which could be improved by substituting another. The range within which he moves is not wide. He has not written narrative or dramatic poems: he has not painted poetical portraits : he has not aspired to the honors of satire, of wit, or of humor: he has made no contributions to the poetry of passion. His poems may be divided into two great classes, — those which express the moral aspects of humanity, and those which interpret the language of Nature; though it may be added that in not a few of his productions these two elements are combined. Thoso of tho former class are not Bo remarkable for originality of treatment as for the beauty and truth with which they express the reflections of the general mind and the emotions of the general heart. In these poems we see our own experience returned to us, touched with the lights and colored with the hues of the most•exquisite poetry. Their tone is grave and high, but not gloomy or morbid: the edges of the cloud of life are turned to gold by faith and hope. Of the"poems of this class, "Thauatopsis," of which we have already spoken, is one of the best known. Others are the " Hymn to Death," " The Old Man's Funeral," "A Forest Hymn," "The Lapse of Time," "An Evening Reverie," "The Old Man's Counsel," and " The Past." This last is one of the noblest of his productions, full of solemn beauty and melancholy music, and we cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of quoting a few of its stanzas.
"Thon unrelenting Past!
And fetters, tare and fast.
"Far in thy realm withdrawn,
And glorious ages gone
"Childhood, with all its mirth, Youth, Manhood, Age, that draws us to the
And last, Man's Life on earth, Glide to thy dim dominions, and lire bound.
"In thy abysses hide
Earth's wonder and her pride
"Labors of good to man, Unpublished charity, unbroken faith,—
Love, that 'midst grief began, And grew with years, and faltered not in death.
"Full many a mighty name
With thee are silent fame,
"Thine for a space are they, — Yetfthalt thou yiold thy treasures up at last;
Thy gates shall yet give way, Thy bolts shall fall, inexorable Past!
"All that of good and fair
Shall then come forth to wear
Here is nothing new. It is the old, sad strain, of coeval birth with poetry itself. It may be read in the Hebrew of the Book of Job and in the Greek of Homer: but with what dignity of sentiment, what majestic music, what beauty of language, the oft-repeated lesson of humanity is enforced! Every word is chosen with unerring judgment, and no needless dilution of language weakens the force, of the conceptions and pictures. Bryant is one of the few poets who will bear the test of the well-nigh obsolete art of verbal criticism: observe the expressions, "silent fame," "forgotten arts," "wisdom disappeared": how exactly these epithets satisfy the ear and the mind! how impossible to change any one of them for the better!
In Bryant's descriptive poems there is the same finished execution and the same beauty of style as in his reflective and didactic poems, with more originality of treatment. It was -his fortune to be born and reared in the western part of Massachusetts, and to become familiar with some of the most beautiful inland scenery of New England in youth and early manhood, when the mind takes impressions which the attrition of life never wears out. In his study of Nature he combines the faculty and the vision, the eye of the naturalist and the imagination of the poet. No man observes the outward shows of earth and sky more accurately; no man feels them more vividly; no man describes them more beautifully. He was the first of our poets who, deserting the conventional paths in which imitators move, studied and delineated Nature as it exists in New England, modified by the elements of a comparatively low latitude, a brilliant sky, uncertain springs, short and hot summers, richly colored autumns, and winter* of pure and crystal cold. The merit and the popularity of Bryant's descriptive poetry prove how intimate is the relation between imagination and truth, and how the poet who is faithful to the highest requisitions of his art must obey laws as rigid as those of science itself. Here, at the risk of making our readers read again what they may have read before, we transcribe a passage from a memorandum of Mr. Morritt's, containing an account of Scott's proceedings while studying the localities of " Rokeby ": —
"I observed him noting down even the peculiar little wild flowers and herbs that accidentally grew round and on the side of a bold crag near his intended Cave of Grey Denzil, and could not help saying, that, as he was not to be upon oath in his work, daisies, violets, and primroses would be as poetical as any of the humble plants he was examining. I laughed, in short, at his scrupulousness; but I understood him when he replied, 'that in Nature no two scenes were exactly alike, and that whoever copied truly what was before his eyes would possess the same variety in his descriptions, and exhibit apparently an imagination as boundless as the range of Nature in the scenes he recorded; whereas, whoever trusted to his imagination would soon find his own mind circumscribed and contracted to a few images, and the repetition of these would sooner or later produce that very monotony and barrenness which had always haunted descriptive poetry in the hands of any but the patient worshippers of truth.'"
This is excellent good sense, and the descriptive poetry of Bryant shows how carefully he has observed the rules which Scott has laid down. He never has a conventional image, and never resorts to the second-hand frippery of a poetical commonplace-book to tag his verses with. Every season of our American year has been delineated by him, and the drawing and coloring of his pictures are always correct. Our American springs, for instance, are not at all the ideal or poetical springs, and Bryant does not pretend that
they are; and yet he can find a poetical side to them, as witness his poem entitled "March": —
"The stormy March is come at last.
With wind, and cloud, and changing skim: I hear the rushing of the blast That through the snowy valley flies.
"Ah, passing few are they who speak.
Wild, stormy month! in praise of thee; Yet, though thy winds are lnud and bleak, Thou art a welcome month to me.
"For thou to northern lands again
The glad and glorious sun dost bring; And thou hast joined the gentle train, And wear'st the gentle name of Spring.
"And in thy reign of blast and storm
Smiles many a long, bright, sunny day,
When the changed winds are sofr and warm,
And heaven puts on the blue of Hay."
This is all as strictly true as if it were drawn up for an affidavit. March, aa we all know, is the eldest daughter of Winter, and bitterly like her grim sire. The snow which has melted from the uplands lingers in the valleys; the storms, and the cloudy skies, and the rushing blasts mark the sullen retreat of winter; but the days are growing longer, the sira mounts higher, and sometimes a soft and vernal air flows from the blue sky, like Burns's daisy " glinting forth" amid the storm.
March and April come and go, and May succeeds. Hers is not quite the "blue, voluptuous eye" she wears in the portraits which poets paint of her, and those who court her smiles arc sometimes chilled by decidedly wintry glances. Bryant gives us her best aspect: —
.- The sun of May was bright in middls heaven, And steeped the sprouting forests, the green
hills, And emerald wheat-fields, in his vellow
Upon the apple-tree, where rosy buds Stood clustered, re.idy to burst forth in
The rnbin warbled forth his full clear nott For hours, and wearied not. Within the
woods, Where young and half-transparent leave*
A shade, gay circlel of anemones
Danced on their stalks; the shad-bush, white with flowera,
Brightened the glens; the new-leaved butternut
And quivering poplar to the roving breeze
Gave a balsamic fragrance."
How admirable this is I And with what truth, we had almost said courage, the poet makes his report. The emerald wheat-fields, the rosy buds of the appletree, the half-transparent leaves of the trees, the anemones on their restless stalks, the shad-bush (Amelanchier Botryapium), the quivering poplars, and the peculiar bnlsamic odor which one perceives in the woods at that season are so exactly what wo find in our New-Kngland May! How much better these distinct statements arc than a tissue of generalities about flowery wreaths, and fragrant zephyrs, and genial rays, and fresh Terdurc, and vernal airs, and ambrosial dewsl
But tho year goes on. Our fitful aud capricious spring passes by, and summer takes its place. But our New-England summer is not like the summer of Thomcon and Cowper, and images drawn from English poetry and transplanted here would be out of place; and our faithful interpreter of American Nature takes nothing at second-hand. How correctly he delineates the characteristic features of our glorious month of June I
"There, through the long, long summer hours,
The golden light should lie, And thick young herbs and groups of flowera
Stnnd in their beauty by. , The oriu:> should build nnd tell Ilis love-tale close beside my cell;
The idle butterfly
Should rest him here, and there be heard
The /loH.ifici/i-bee is an expressive epithet. Does it involve a double meaning, and insinuate that as a bee carries a sting, so women who are stirring, notable, and good housekeepers have something sharp in their natures?
Next comes midsummer with its fervid and overpowering heats, which find in our poet also an accurate delineator.
"It is a sultry day: the sun has drunk
Its tender foliage, and declines its blooms. But far in the fierce sunshine tower the hills With all their growth of woods, silent and
As if the scorching heat and dazzling light Were but an element they loved."
But our radiant and many-colored autumn is Bryant's favorite season, and some of his most beautiful and characteristic passages are those which paint ita hues of crimson and purple, and the vaporous gold of its atmosphere. Such is the number of these passages that it is difficult to make a selection of one or two for quotation. Hera is one from "Autumn Woods."
"Let in through all the trees,
Come the strange rays; tho forest-depths
Their sunny-colored foliage, in the breeze, Twinkles like beams of light.
"The rivulet, late unseen,
Where bickering through the shrubs ita
Shines with the image of its golden screen And glimmerings of the sun.
"But, 'neath yon crimson tree,
Lover to listening maid might breathe bis
Nor mark, within its roseate canopy,
Here is nothing imitative or borrowed, and here are no unmeaning -reneralities. Everything is exact and local, — drawn from an American autumn, and no other. And how lovely an imago is that in the third stanza, and what an added charm it gives to an object in itself most beautiful!
But our readers must indulge us with one more quotation under this head, al