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bination, and whose thoughts habitually condensed themselves into the most compendious phraseology.

The author of Marmion is a popular poet in this respect also; that his writings display an intense though discriminating sensibility to the grand and obvious appearances of nature, rather than that acute and critical study of her abstruser phenomena, which some writers carry even to pedantry. He rarely seems ambitious to mark out for description a circumstance, or combination of circumstances, beyond the scope of common observation, but embracing the whole supposed scene with a vigorous grasp of imagination, relies for success on his judgment in selecting, his enthusiasm in feeling, and his energy in painting * His reflections, too, on the objects before him, are unmarked by any laboured subtlety or capricious singularity; he has no eccentric starts or devious excursions of thought; his verse is not the exposition of sentiments cherished, and speculations prosecuted, by a refined and fanciful individual, but the lively copy of those sensations and habits of mind, in which nature and custom have disposed the generality of mankind to participate. The spirit of his poetry is not contemplative, but stirring and passionate ; he seldom pauses upon any object after he has noted the first impression it makes on the senses, and the first idea it calls up in the mind; to reduce things to their elements, and meditate on them in the abstract, is not his manner; but he loves,

* It must be owned, however, that the subjects of his verse are often so new and striking in their general features, as to preclude the necessity of those minute and curious particularities which are sometimes judiciously resorted to for the purpose of giving an air of freshness to a familiar and almost exhausted theme.


on the contrary, to view them invested with such adventitious circumstance, and illuminated by such artificial lights, as most powerfully enhance their effect on the imagination and feelings.

Hence, more than any other poet, he delights in localizing his descriptions of general nature, as in these elegant lines,

but still,
When summer smiled on sweet Bowhill,
And July's eve, with balmy breath,
Waved the bluebells on Newark heath;
When throstles sung on Hare-head Shaw,
And corn waved green on Carterhaugh,
And flourished, broad, Blackandro's oak,
The aged harper's soul awoke!
Then would he sing achievements high,
And circumstance of chivalry,

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And Yarrow, as he rolled along,
Bore burden to the minstrel's song."

Lay of the Last Minstrel.Conclusion.

On the other hand he seldom introduces the name of a place unmarked by some appropriate allusion to natural objects. It is his frequent practice to diffuse a peculiar tinge over his scene, by causing us to see it through the eyes of some strongly characterized individual: as in several of the lines describing William of Deloraine's expedition to Melrose; and in the following passage

“ Harold was born where restless seas
Howl round the storm-swept Orcades ;
Where erst St. Clairs held princely sway
O'er isle and islet, strait and bay;

Still nods their palace to its fall,
Thy pride and sorrow*, fair Kirkwall!
Thence oft he marked fierce Pentland rave,
As if grim Odinn rode her wave;
And watch'd, the whilst, with visage pale,
And throbbing heart, the struggling sail;
For all of wonderful and wild
Had rapture for the lonely child.”

Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto VI. St. 21.

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Again he neglects no opportunity of touching those chords of association by which places, things, and persons are connected in men's thoughts with local or national attachments, with romantic or patriotic recollections, with feelings of superstitious awe, or with the traditional veneration of mysterious antiquity. The Border beacons in communication with Branksome,

« Gleamed on many a dusky tarn,
Haunted by the lonely earn ;
On many a cairn's grey pyramid,
Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid;
Till high Dunedin the blazes saw.”

Lady of the Lake, Canto III. St. 29.

In the stag-hunt upon the wild Highland frontier,

“ The sounds of sylvan war
Disturb the heights of Uam-Var,
And roused the cavern, where 'tis told
A giant made his den of old.”

Lady of the Lake, Canto I. St. 4.

* Not now either the one or the other, if I may judge from the degraded condition in which I saw it six years ago.

When Deloraine and the Monk sit down in the dreary chancel of Melrose, we are told that

“A Scottish monarch slept below,"

and the sepulchral lamps burned dimly

“ Before thy low and lonely urn,
O gallant chief of Otterburne,
And thine, dark knight of Liddesdale !"

Lady of the Lake, Canto II. St. 10, 12.

And you doubtless remember with how much romantic effect the wizard priest,

" Whose bones are thrust From company of holy dust,"

is introduced in the description'of

“ Lone St. Mary's silent lake”.


“ Nought living meets the eye or ear,
But well I ween the dead are near."

Marmion, Introduction to Canto II.

The beautiful itineraries introduced in several of the poems, as, for instance, the journey of Deloraine, just now referred to, Bruce's voyage from Skye to Arran*, and that of the Whitby runs to Holy Islandť, abound in similar allusions.

There is, indeed, throughout the poetry of this author, even when he leads us to the remotest wildernesses, and the most desolate monuments of antiquity, a constant

* Lord of the Isles, Canto IV. St. 7 to 13. + Marmion, Canto II. St. 8, 9.


reference to the feelings of man in his social condition; others, as they draw closer to inanimate things, recede from human kind; to this writer even rocks and deserts bear record of active and impassioned life, nay sometimes appear themselves inspired with its sensations; the old forgotten chieftain groans in the lonely cavern, and with “ tears of rage impels the rill;" the maid's pale ghost “ from rose and hawthorn shakes the tear," and the phantom knight” shrieks along the field of his battles *.

In these which I have termed popular qualities, the poetical passages of the author of Waverley correspond, as far as the nature of prose composition admits, with those of his tuneful brother. The descriptions of both proceed with the same steady and even pace; their topics are equally simple and obvious, their reflections equally plain and natural. The novelist, like the poet, is a passionate, more than a contemplative writer, and treats of mankind, not like a mere philosophical observer, but like a companion, and sharer in their pursuits. Nor does he labour to analyze and simplify objects, or to separate ideas which, from whatever cause, have become associated together. He willingly avails himself of any power that resides in particular names and allusions to sway our secret moods and impulses;- and whatever theme may engage him, his constant aim is, directly or indirectly, to bring it home as much as possible to the business and the feelings of man. These remarks may be properly closed by an extract which I have chosen as affording a fair general view of the author's style and habits of composition, when his narrative rises into poetry.

'In that pleasant district of merry England which is

* Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto V. St. 2.

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