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pathy and loyalty from the great institution of the country, leads them to place themselves in an attitude of antagonism to the more favoured classes, and, so, greatly complicates those questions between labour and capital, which in themselves are sufficiently difficult to adjust. The charges of venality so freely urged against them must certainly be less earnestly insisted upon, since the recent enquiries have proved that other classes, who have no excuse of poverty to plead in mitigation of their offence, have been deeply tainted with this same corruption. Besides the accusation comes with specially bad grace from those who are accomplices in the sin. Who indeed has felt it to be a sin ? Surely not those honourable members who have secured their seats by the practice, and have made a jest of the exposures which have been made from time to time in the House. Surely not those clever electioneering managers who have reduced the practice to a system, and have had recourse to all sorts of ingenious expedients in order to mask it in secrecy. Surely not the commissioners who have made so merry in the discharge of their duties, or those who thronged their courts, and found only subject for ridicule in those very offences which, when occasion serves, are thought sufficient to disqualify a large section of the community for the enjoyment of the franchise. The moral tone of the nation upon this subject has been low, and if the working classes have shared in a common evil, it is surely unjust that on them alone the punishment should fall.
In our next number, we shall be in a better position to discuss the prospects of Reform under the new administration. Meanwhile we urge the working-classes to the exercise of a wise moderation. They have already demonstrated the falsehood of the slander, which, had it been true, would have been as full of danger to the country, as of discredit to themselves, that they do not care for the political rights their friends are anxious to secure for them. Monster demonstrations, attended with no little peril, and awakening the fears of other classes of society, have for the present been carried far enough. They can afford now to wait and see the effect of that which they have already done. If there should be an indisposition to recognize their rights, there will be opportunity and occasion for still further action, but we hope that the wisdom of our political leaders will spare them and us from such necessity, and that the present year may witness the passing of a measure as just in itself, and as happy in its consequences as that Bill of 1832, which Mr. Lowe now lauds, but which his principles, if consistently carried out, would have compelled him to oppose with the same vehemence which he directed against the righteous and moderate proposition of 1866.
MR. LONGFELLOW'S LATEST POEMS.*
THE poem which gives its title to Mr. Longfellow's most recent collection, has been significantly chosen for that purpose. No author living would be less likely to impose any false pretences upon his readers; and Mr. Longfellow is much too keen a critic of literature not to have taken long since his own true poetic
Our readers all remember Mrs. Barrett Browning's “ Musical Instrument," -
“ He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,
From the deep cool bed of the river:
Ere he brought it out of the river.
While turbidly flowed the river;
To prove it fresh from the river.
(How tall it stood in the river !)
In holes, as he sat by the river.
(Laughed while he sat by the river)
He blew in power by the river." Such is the conception of poetry by one to whom, in her own words, it was “as serious a thing as life itself”_" the completest expression of personal being to which ” she “could attain." We turn to Longfellow, and find ourselves again “ down in the reeds by the river;" but there is no uprooting or laceration, no thrilling sweetness that tells in its sad undertone of stern preceding discipline. The lily waves, the breeze softly breathes, and the very melancholy is luxurious, with no passion in its
*“ Flower-de-Luce," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. London: Routledge & Sons, 1867.
“Beautiful lily, dwelling by still rivers,
Or solitary mere,
Its waters to the weir !
Of spindle and of loom,
And rushing of the flume.
Thou dost not toil nor spin,
The meadow and the lin.
And round thee throng and run
The outlaws of the sun.
And tilts against the field,
With steel-blue mail and shield.
Who, armed with golden rod
The message of some god.
Hauntest the sylvan streams,
That come to us as dreams.
Linger to kiss thy feet!
The world more fair and sweet!'
These last two lines reveal the secret. Mr. Longfellow aims, and not unworthily, to make “the world more fair and sweet.” As he elsewhere puts it (in “The Builders ") some men “work with massive deeds and great; some, with ornaments of rhyme.” Hence he must be classed with those with whom poetry is not the life but the ornament of life. It is his chosen holiday from harder work and more strenuous service. Very possibly it is not without surprise that he finds himself famous through two hemispheres for this—his bye-work, while the world hardly cares to know anything of the Professor of Modern Languages, and the accomplished master of every dialect in Europe !
Can a just criticism account for the fame? No living poet, perhaps, has given more pleasure, and the pleasure is always pure : let this be eulogy sufficient. Our own Laureate has characterized him by discriminating praise. For it is undoubtedly to Mr. Longfellow's poem, “The Ladder of Augustine," that the opening stanza of In Memoriam refers-
“I held it truth, with him who sings
To one clear harp in divers tones,
Of their dead selves to higher things." The “harp" is always “clear,” if its tones are never passionate: it charms, though it may not thrill; and while its philosophy is by no means deep, it is generally the reflex of our own experiences. He cannot be called common-place in the sense in which Mr. Tupper, for instance, is common-place. One characteristic of genius at least belongs to Mr. Longfellow, “ propriè communia dicere," the utterance of familiar sentiments in so fresh a style, as to make them his own. “ What oft is thought," is seldom“ so well expressed,” as in his better verses. It is here that his power lies. We care but little for "The Spanish Student;" but who ever wearies of “ The Village Blacksmith ?" Nay, who would not give all “ Hiawatha," with the “Tales of a Wayside Inn,” thrown into the bargain, for four such lyrics as “ The Fire of Driftwood,” “Resignation," "The Reaper and the Flowers,” and “The Light of Stars." There is nothing in them which we have not thought before; and therefore are we not the less, but the more thankful, for the grace with which the sentiment is presented by the poet. If we want to dare, and speculate and strive with Faust, we 'go to Goethe, or even to Mr. Bailey, rather than to “The Golden Legend." We doubt, even after the specimens we have seen, whether our author's calling is to translate Dante, although the sonnets which describe his emotions in contemplating the Divina Commedia are among the finest things in the present collection. “Evangeline” has a certain charm for us, though we lose half the pleasure in our doubts about the ill-matched metre; but
“When the evening lamps are lighted,
And, like spectres grim and tall,
Dance upon the parlour wall;"
“We see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and mist,
Which our souls cannot resist ;"
or in any other hour of reverie—thoughtful, without profundity, -melancholy, without bitterness, Longfellow is the poet we want; not to sing us to sleep, (though that too may befal), but to “quiet the restless pulse of care," and to "fill the night with music."
In such a mood the defects in art, which of themselves mark his place as 'only among the secondary poets of our time, are unnoticed, or viewed indulgently. Yet any honest criticism must indicate these faults, especially as they most abound in some of Mr. Longfellow's favourite pieces. “ The Psalm of Life," for instance—what does it mean? Its bold trochaic measure, its clear terse phrases, ring upon the ear; and there is a glowing earnestness in its tone which chimes well with the better thoughts which haunt our reveries; but when we come to analyze it, where is the distinct impression which it leaves ? Who is bidden not to tell us “in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream'” ?
The heading of the poem answers the question in a dim inscrutable way: "What the heart of the young man said to the Psalmist." Now we confess never to have quite satisfied ourselves as to whether the poet intended the Bible " Psalmist," and pictured the "young man ” as rebuking, or at least correcting, David, or, it may be, “Moses, the man of God!” Or is the poet himself the psalmist, admonished by his own youthful heart; as in the famous lines—
“ As I walked by myself I talked to myself,
And myself said unto me"?
But to pass this by: mark the proofs assigned, that life is not an empty dream. The first is, that “the soul is dead that slum
Undoubtedly, if the soul is awake it does not dream; if asleep, it is dead, and therefore cannot dream. Life, therefore, is no dream-Q. E. D. But, further, “things are not what they seem.” Now this is true; but where the relevance? Why, it is the very characteristic of a dream-state that things, there, are not what they seem.
Hence this line would prove, if it proved anything, that life is a dream and not a reality! We might carry the same strain of remark all through the poem, but we notice only the famous figure about “footprints on the sands of Time.” Now what footprints are these? We understand the poet--who, like so many others, is often greatest in prose-when, in "Hyperion," he speaks of the “ gigantic form of Faith, half buried in the sands of Time, and gazing forward