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CAMPBELL'S GERTRUDE OF WYOMING.
The effect of this seclusion on Gertrude is beautifully represented.
“ It seem'd as if those scenes sweet influence had
On Gertrude's soul, and kindness like their own
Inspir'd those eyes affectionate and glad,
That seem'd to love whate'er they look'd upon!
Whether with Hebe's mirth her features shone,
Or if a shade more pleasing them o'ercast,
(As if for heav'nly musing meant alone);
Yet so becomingly the expression past,
That each succeeding look was lovelier than the last.
Nor, guess I, was that Pensylvanian home,
With all its picturesque and balmy grace,
And fields that were a luxury to roam,
Lost on the soul that look'd from such a face !
Enthusiast of the woods! when years apace
Had bound thy lovely waist with woman's zone,
The sunrise path, at morn,
I see thee trace
To hills with high magnolia overgrown;
And joy to breathe the groves, romantic and alone." - p. 29, 30. The morning scenery, too, is touched with a delicate and masterly hand.
" While yet the wild deer trod in spangling dew,
While boatman carollid to the fresh-blown air,
And woods a horizontal shadow threw,
And early fox appear'd in momentary view." - p. 32. The reader is left rather too much in the dark as to Henry's departure for Europe ; — nor, indeed, are we apprised of his absence, till we come to the scene of his unexpected return. Gertrude was used to spend the hot part of the day in reading in a lonely and rocky recess in those safe woods; which is described with Mr. Campbell's usual felicity.
“ Rocks sublime
To human art a sportive semblance wore ;
And yellow lichens colour'd all the clime,
Like moonlight battlements, and towers decayed by time.
"But high, in amphitheatre above,
His arms the everlasting aloes threw:
Breath'd but an air of heaven, and all the grove
As if instinct with living spirit grew,
Rolling its verdant gulfs of every hue;
And now suspended was the pleasing din,
Now from a murmur faint it swellid anew,
Like the first note of organ heard within
Cathedral aisles — ere yet its symphony begin." — p. 33.
In this retreat, which is represented as so solitary, that, except her own,
scarce an ear had heard
The stock-dove plaining through its gloom profound,
Or winglet of the fairy humming bird,
Like atoms of the rainbow fluttering round"- p. 34. a stranger of lofty port and gentle manners surprises her, one morning, and is conducted to her father. They enter into conversation on the subject of his travels.
And much they lov'd his fervid strain -
While he each fair variety retrac'd
Of climes, and manners, o'er the eastern main.
Now happy Switzer's hills — romantic Spain
Gay lilied fields of France — or, more refind,
The soft Ausonia's monumental reign;
Nor less each rural image he design'd,
Than all the city's pomp and home of human kind.
“ Anon some wilder portraiture he draws !
Of Nature's savage glories he would speak -
The loneliness of earth that overawes !
Where, resting by some tomb of old cacique,
The lama-driver on Peruvia's peak
Nor voice nor living motion marks around;
But storks that to the boundless forest shriek ;
Or wild-cane arch high flung o'er gulf profound,
That fluctuates when the storms of El Dorado sound."
p. 36, 37. Albert, at last, bethinks him of inquiring after his stray ward young Henry; and entertains his guest with a short summary of his history.
“ His face the wand'rer hid ; - but could not hide
A tear, a smile, upon his cheek that dwell ! --
* And speak, mysterious stranger!' (Gertrude cried)
• It is! – it is! - I knew — I knew him well!
'Tis Waldegrave's self, of Waldegrave come to tell !'
A burst of joy the father's lips declare;
But Gertrude speechless on his bosom fell :
At once his open arms embrac'd the pair;
Was never group more blest, in this wide world of care !"
The first overflowing of their joy and artless love is represented with all the fine colours of truth and poetry; but we cannot now make room for it. The Second Part ends with this stanza:
“ Then would that home admit them — happier far
Than grandeur's most magnificent saloon –
While, here and there, a solitary star
Flush'd in the dark’ning firmament of June;
And silence brought the soul-felt hour full soon,
Ineffable - which I may not pourtray!
For never did the Hymenean moon
A paradise of hearts more sacred sway,
In all that slept beneath her soft voluptuous ray." — p. 43. The Last Part sets out with a soft but spirited sketch of their short-lived felicity.
“ Three little moons, how short! amidst the grove,
And pastoral savannas they consume !
While she, beside her buskin'd youth to rove,
Delights, in fancifully wild costume,
Her lovely brow to shade with Indian plume ;
And forth in hunter-seeming vest they fare ;
But not to chase the deer in forest gloom!
'Tis but the breath of heav'n— the blessed air
And interchange of hearts, unknown, unseen to share.
“What though the sportive dog oft round them note,
Or fawn, or wild bird bursting on the wing;
Yet who, in love's own presence, would devote
To death those gentle throats that wake the spring?
Or writhing from the brook its victim bring ?
No !- nor let fear one little warbler rouse ;
But, fed by Gertrude's hand, still let them sing,
Acquaintance of her path, amidst the boughs,
That shade ev'n now her love, and witness'd first her vows !"
The transition to the melancholy part of the story
is introduced with great tenderness and dignity.
“But mortal pleasure, what art thou in truth ?
The torrent's smoothness ere it dash below!
And must I change my song? and must I show,
Sweet Wyoming ! the day, when thou wert doom'd,
Guiltless, to mourn thy loveliest bow'rs laid low!
When, where of yesterday a garden bloom'd,
Death overspread his pall, and black’ning ashes gloom'd ?-
“ Sad was the year, by proud Oppression driv'n,
When Transatlantic Liberty arose ;
Not in the sunshine, and the smile of heav'n,
But wrapt in whirlwinds, and begirt with woes :
Amidst the strife of fratricidal foes,
ECLIPSE OF ITS BRIGHTNESS.
Her birth star was the light of burning plains ;
Her baptism is the weight of blood that flows
From kindred hearts the blood of British veins !
And famine tracks her steps, and pestilentiål pains."-
Gertrude's alarm and dejection at the prospect of hostilities are well described:
"O, meet not thou,” she cries, “thy kindred foe!
But peaceful let us seek fair England's strand,” &c. - as well as the arguments and generous sentiments by which her husband labours to reconcile her to a necessary evil. The nocturnal irruption of the old Indian is given with great spirit:— Age and misery had so changed his appearance, that he was not at first recognized by any of the party.
“ • And hast thou then forgot' — (he cried forlorn,
And ey'd the group with half indignant air),
*Oh! hast thou, Christian chief, forgot the morn
When I with thee the cup
of peace did share ?
Then stately was this head, and dark this hair,
That now is white as Appalachia's snow !
But, if the weight of fifteen years' despair,
And age hath bow'd me, and the tort'ring foe,
Bring me my Boy — and he will his deliverer know!'
" It was not long, with eyes and heart of flame,
Ere Henry to his lov'd Oneyda flew :
• Bless thee, my guide !'— but, backward as he came,
The chief his old bewilder'd head withdrew,
And grasp'd his arm, and look'd and look'd him through.
nor could the group a smile control
The long, the doubtful scrutiny to view :---
At last delight o'er all his features stole,
It is - my own!' he cried, and clasp'd him to his soul.
“ . Yes! thou recall'st my pride of years; for then
The bowstring of my spirit was not slack,
When, spite of woods, and floods, and ambush'd men,
I bore thee like the quiver on my back,
Fleet as the whirlwind hurries on the rack;
Nor foeman then, nor cougar's crouch I fear'd,
For I was strong as mountain cataract;
And dost thou not remember how we cheer'd
Upon the last hill-top, when white men's huts appear'd ?'”—
p. 54–56. After warning them of the approach of their terrible foe, the conflagration is seen, and the whoops and scat
tering shot of the enemy heard at a distance. The motley militia of the neighbourhood flock to the defence of Albert: the effect of their shouts and music on the old Indian is fine and striking.
“ Rous'd by their warlike pomp, and mirth, and cheer,
Old Outalissi woke his battle song,
And, beating with his war-club cadence strong,
Tells how his deep-stung indignation smarts," &c. - p. 61. Nor is the contrast of this savage enthusiasm with the venerable composure of Albert less beautifully represented.
“ Calm, opposite the Christian Father rose,
Pale on his venerable brow its rays
Of martyr light the conflagration throws ;
One hand upon his lovely child he lays,
And one th' uncovered crowd to silence sways ;
While, though the battle flash is faster driv'n-
Unawd, with eye unstartled by the blaze,
He for his bleeding country prays to Heav'n –
Prays that the men of blood themselves may be forgiven."
They then speed their night march to the distant fort, whose wedged ravelins and redoubts
“Wove like a diadem its tracery round
The lofty summit of that mountain green and look back from its lofty height on the desolated scenes around them. We will not separate, nor apologize for the length of the fine passage that follows; which alone, we think, might justify all we have said in praise of the poem.
“A scene of death! where fires beneath the sun,
And blended arms, and white pavilions glow;
And for the business of destruction done,
Its requiem the war-horn seem'd to blow.
There, sad spectatress of her country's woe!
The lovely Gertrude, safe from present harm,
Had laid her cheek, and clasp'd her hands of snow
On Waldegrave's shoulder, half within his arm
Enclos'd, that felt her heart, and hush'd its wild alarm!
“But short that contemplation! sad and short
The pause to bid each much-lov'd scene adieu !
Beneath the very shadow of the fort,
Where friendly swords were drawn, and banners flew,