Sidor som bilder



character on the style in which they are treated. It is distinguished accordingly by a fine and tender finish, both of thought and of diction - by a chastened elegance of words and images - a mild dignity and tempered pathos in the sentiments, and a general tone of simplicity and directness in the conduct of the story, which, joined to its great brevity, tends at first perhaps to disguise both the richness and the force of the genius required for its production. But though not calculated to strike at once on the dull palled ear of an idle and occupied world, it is of all others perhaps the kind of poetry best fitted to win on our softer hours, and to sink deep into vacant bosoms — unlocking all the sources of fond recollection, and leading us gently on through the mazes of deep and engrossing meditation — and thus ministering to a deeper enchantment and more lasting delight than can ever be inspired by the more importunate strains of more ambitious authors.

There are no doubt peculiar and perhaps insuperable difficulties in the management of themes so delicate, and requiring so fine and so restrained a hand — nor are we prepared to say that Mr. Campbell has on this occasion entirely escaped them. There are passages that are somewhat fade:— there are expressions that are trivial: - But the prevailing character is sweetness and beauty; and it prevails over all that is opposed to it. though abundantly simple, as our readers will immediately see, has two distinct compartments – one relating to the Swiss maiden, the other to the English wife. The former, with all its accompaniments, we think nearly perfect. It is full of tenderness, purity, and pity ; and finished with the most exquisite elegance, in few and simple touches. The other, which is the least considerable, has more decided blemishes. The diction is in many places too familiar, and the incidents too common

and the cause of distress has the double misfortune of being unpoetical in its nature, and improbable in its result. But the shortest way is to give our readers a slight account of the poem, with such specimens as may enable them to judge fairly of it for themselves.

The story,




It opens, poetically, with the description of a fine scene in Switzerland, and of a rustic church-yard; where the friend of the author points out to him the flowery grave of a maiden, who, though gentle and fair, had died of unrequited love: — and so they proceed between them, for the matter is left poetically obscure, to her history. Her fancy had been early captivated by the tales of heroic daring and chivalric pride, with which her country's annals abounded — and she disdained to give her love to any one who was not graced with the virtues and glories of those heroic times. This exalted mood was unluckily fostered by her brother's youthful ardour in praise of the commander under whom he was serving abroad — by whom he was kindly tended when wounded, and whose picture he brought back with him on his return to his paternal home, to renew, and seemingly to realize, the day-dreams of his romantic sister.

This picture, and the stories her brother told of the noble Theodric, completed the poor girl's fascination. Her heart was kindled by her fancy; and her love was already fixed on a being she had never seen! In the mean time, Theodric, who had promised a visit to his young protegé, passes over to England, and is betrothed to a lady of that country of infinite worth and amiableness. He then repairs to Switzerland, where, after a little time, he discovers the love of Julia, which he gently, but firmly rebukes — returns to England, and is married. His wife has uncomfortable relations - quarrelsome, selfish, and envious; and her peace is sometimes wounded by their dissensions and unkindness. War breaks out anew, too, in Theodric's country; and as he is meditating a journey to that quarter, he is surprised by a visit from Julia's brother, who informs him that, after a long struggle with her cherished love, her health had at last sunk under it, and that she now prayed only to see him once more before she died ! His wife

His wife generously urges him to comply with this piteous request. He does so; and arrives, in the midst of wintry tempests, to see this pure victim of too warm an imagination expire, in smiles of speechless gratitude and love. While mourning over



her, he is appalled by tidings of the dangerous illness of his beloved Constance — hurries to England — and finds her dead !- her fate having been precipitated, if not occasioned, by the harsh and violent treatment she had met with from her heartless relations. The piece closes with a very touching letter she had left for her husband - and an account of its soothing effects on his mind.

This, we confess, is slight enough, in the way of fable and incident: But it is not in those things that the merit of such poems consists; and what we have given is of course a mere naked outline, or argument rather, intended only to explain and connect our extracts.

For these, we cannot possibly do better than begin with the beginning.

“ 'Twas sunset, and the Ranz des Vaches was sung,

And lights were o'er th' Helvetian mountains flung,
That gave the glacier tops their richest glow,
And ting’d the lakes like molten gold below.
Warmth flush'd the wonted regions of the storm,
Where, Phænix-like, you saw the eagle's form,
That high in Heav'n's vermilion wheeld and soard !
Woods nearer frown'd; and cataracts dash'd and roard,
From heights brouzed by the bounding bouquetin;
Herds tinkling roam'd the long-drawn vales between,
And hamlets glitter'd white, and gardens flourish'd green.
'Twas transport to inhale the bright sweet air !
The mountain-bee was revelling in its glare,
And roving with his minstrelsy across
The scented wild weeds, and enameli'd moss.
Earth's features so harmoniously were link'd,
She seem'd one great glad form, with life instinct,
That felt Heav'n's ardent breath, and smil'd be
Its flush of love, with consentaneous glow.
A Gothic church was near; the spot around
Was beautiful, ev'n though sepulchral ground;
For there nor yew nor cypress spread their gloom,
But roses blossom'd by each rustic tomb.
Amidst them one of spotless marble shone -
A maiden's grave — and 't was inscrib'd thereon,

and lov'd she died whose dust was there : “Yes,' said my comrade, 'young she died, and fair ! Grace formd her, and the soul of gladness play'd Once in the blue eyes of that mountain-maid ! Her fingers witch'd the chords they pass'd along, And her lips seem'd to kiss the soul in song:




Yet wood, and worshipp'd as she was, till few
Aspir'd to hope, 't was sadly, strangely true,
That heart, the martyr of its fondness, burn'd
And died of love that could not be return'd.

"• Her father dwelt where yonder Castle shines
O'er clust'ring trees and terrace-mantling vines.
As gay as ever, the laburnum's pride
Waves o'er each walk where she was wont to glide
And still the garden whence she grac'd her brow,
As lovely blooms, though trode by strangers now.
How oft from yonder window o'er the lake,
Her song, of wild Helvetian swell and shake,
Has made the rudest fisher bend his ear,
And rest enchanted on his oar to hear !
Thus bright, accomplish'd, spirited, and bland,
Well-born, and wealthy for that simple land,
Why had no gallant native youth the art
To win so warm

so exquisite a heart?
She, midst these rocks inspir'd with feeling strong
By mountain-freedom

music — fancy song,
Herself descended from the brave in arms,
And conscious of romance-inspiring charms,
Dreamt of Heroic beings; hoped to find
Some extant spirit of chivalric kind;
And scorning wealth, look'd cold ev’n on the claim

Of manly worth, that lack'd the wreath of Fame.'”—p. 3–7. We pass over the animated picture of the brother's campaigns, and of the fame of Theodric, and the affectionate gratitude of parents and sister for his care and praises of their noble boy. We must make room, however, for this beautiful sketch of his return.

“ In time, the stripling, vigorous and heald,
Resum'd his barb and banner in the field,
And bore himself right soldier-like, till now
The third campaign had manlier bronz’d his brow;
When peace, though but a scanty pause for breath
A curtain-drop between the acts of death
A check in frantic war's unfinish'd

Yet dearly bought, and direly welcome, came.
The camp broke up, and Udolph left his chief
As with a son's or younger brother's grief:
But journeying home, how rapt his spirits rose !
How light his footsteps crush'd St. Gothard's snows !
How dear seem'd ev'n the waste and wild Shreckhorn,
Though wrapt in clouds, and frowning as in scorn
Upon a downward world of pastoral charms ;
Where, by the very smell of dairy-farms,

[blocks in formation]

And fragrance from the mountain herbage blown,
Blindfold his native hills he could have known!

“ His coming down yon lake — his boat in view
Of windows where love's flutt'ring kerchief flew –
The arms spread out for him the tears that burst -
('Twas Julia's, 't was his sister's met him first ;)
Their pride to see war's medal at his breast,

And all their rapture's greeting, may be guess 'd."- p. 12, 13. At last the generous warrior appears in person among those innocent beings, to whom he had so long furnished the grand theme of discourse and meditation.

“The boy was half beside himself — the sire,
All frankness, honour, and Helvetian fire,
Of speedy parting would not hear him speak;
And tears bedew'd and brightend Julia's cheek.

Thus, loth to wound their hospitable pride,
A month he promis'd with them to abide ;
As blithe he trode the mountain-sward as they,
And felt his joy make ev'n the young more gay
How jocund was their breakfast-parlour, fann'd
By yon blue water's breath! - their walks how bland !
Fair Julia seem'd her brother's soften'd sprite –
A gem reflecting Nature's purest light-
And with her graceful wit there was inwrought
A wildly sweet unworldliness of thought,
That almost child-like to his kindness drew,
And twin with Udolph in his friendship grew.
But did his thoughts to love one moment range ?
No! he who had lov'd Constance could not change !
Besides, till grief betray'd her undesign'd,
Th' unlikely thought could scarcely reach his mind,
That eyes so young on years like his should beam

Unwoo'd devotion back for pure esteem."— p. 17, 18. Symptoms still more unequivocal, however, at last make explanation necessary; and he is obliged to disclose to her the secret of his love and engagement in England. The effects of this disclosure, and all the intermediate events, are described with the same grace and delicacy. But we pass at once to the close of poor Julia's pure-hearted romance.

“ That winter's eve how darkly Nature's brow
Scowl'd on the scenes it lights so lovely now!
The tempest, raging o'er the realms of ice,
Shook fragments from the rifted precipice;

« FöregåendeFortsätt »