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ignorant depreciation, of Words worth, deprives his opinion of the sincerity or consistency which can alone render an opinion valuable); and the honest avowal of James Hogg, that such an impression did the perusal of the Isle of Palms make upon him, and "so completely did it carry him off his feet, that for some days afterwards he felt himself as in a land of enchantment, and could with difficulty bring down his feelings to the business of ordinary life."
At the distance of about four years from the publication of the Isle of Palms, Mr. Wilson produced his best and most popular work, "The City of the Plague,"-a poem of first-rate excellence, amply realizing the anticipations to which his maiden effort had given birth. To the exalted merits of this production, which is of a severer order, and for the most part free from those exuberances of youthful genius which had in some measure deformed its predecessor, gratifying testimony has been borne by several of Mr. Wilson's distinguished contemporaries; and, among others, by Lord Byron and Mr. Moore, two writers whose genius is as opposite in character to that of the object of their eulogy as can well be imagined. In the preface to his "Doge of Venice," Lord Byron mentions the City of the Plague, as one of the very few evidences that dramatic power is not yet extinct among us. If that poetry deserves to rank the highest, which excites the most vivid emotions in the mind of the reader, Mr. Wilson's tragedy will certainly be found amply to deserve his Lordship's generous tribute; for we know of no work, of a purely imaginative character, which is calculated to make so deep an impression upon a person of even ordinary feeling and intelligence, as this. It assumes a loftier tone of inspiration than the Isle of Palins. Indeed, the two poems will scarcely admit of a comparison in any respect. One is a tale of love, beauty
and repose, the attempered glory of a summer's eve, disturbed only by one of those transitory storms which leave the face of nature more beautiful than ever; whilst the other is a narrative of alternate pity and suffering-tears and terrorimbued throughout with an energy almost supernatural-and producing upon the mind of the reader an impression which, like the recollection of a storm at sea, is never afterwards obliterated. Although dramatic in its form, there is little that is dramatic in either its plot, or the manner in which it is developed. It consists in a great measure of a series of impassioned dialogues on natural loveliness-a vernal picture of all that is serene, gentle and fas cinating in human nature, here and there chastised by those "sabler tints of woe,"
"Which blended form, with artful strife, The strength and harmony of life."
The selection of so awful a sub
ject as the great plague in London, as a groundwork for the delineation of the abiding strength and loveliadditional evidence of the power ness of our best affections, affords and versatility of Mr. Wilson's genius. Yet this he has attempted; and, notwithstanding the apparently antithetical nature of the subject, The following passages from his has achieved most triumphantly. poem, we select, not less for their intrinsic beauty than that they strike us as being peculiarly characteristic of his powers.
SIGNS OF THE PLAGUE.
Even at the moment when a hundred hearts
Of time, thus standing on eternity.
In unchanged meekness and serenity,
And all my fears were gone. But these green banks,
With an unwonted flush of flowers o'ergrown, Brown, when I left them last, with frequent
From morn till evening hurrying to and fro,
O unrejoicing Sabbath! not of yore
THE PLAGUE IN THE CITY.
Old Man. Know ye what ye will meet with in the city? =Together will ye walk through long, long
All standing silent as a midnight church.
Of that vain bauble, idly counting time,
As if the Spirit of the Plague dwelt there,
And, louder than all, outrageous blasphemy.
Raving, he rushes past you; till he falls, As if struck by lightning, down upon the stones, Or, in blind madness, dash'd against the wall, Sinks backward into stillness. Stand aloof, And let the Pest's triumphal chariot Have open way advancing to the tomb. See how he mocks the pomp and pageantry Of earthly kings! a miserable cart, Heap'd up with human bodies; dragg'd along =By pale steeds, skeleton-anatomies!
And onwards urged by a wan meagre wretch, Doom'd never to return from the foul pit, Whither, with oaths, he drives his load of
Would you look in? Grey hairs and golden tresses, Wan shrivel'd cheeks, that have not smiled for years,
In the volume which contains the City of the Plague, we meet with two poems which are deserving of especial remark, as being strikingly characteristic of the genius of their author; we allude to "The Convict," a dramatic fragment, in which, from a combination of natural touches, the catastrophe is wrought to the highest possible pathos and "The Scholar's Funeral," a sketch, justly celebrated for the lofty, reposing, serene, and beautiful train of imagery and sentiment which pervade it. The story of the former poem is that of an innocent man, who has been tried, and convicted, upon strong circumstantial evidence, of a murder of which he is wholly innocent. The first scene is laid in his cottage, where his wife and a friend are waiting, in momentary expectation of hearing the result of his trial. The alternations of hope and despair are most pathetically described. The clergyman, who has passed the preceding night in prayer with the
supposed criminal, visits the wretched woman, for the purpose of preparing her mind for the message, which arrives soon afterwards, announcing her husband's condemnation. Scene the second, is the Condemned Cell, a few days previous to that appointed for the execu tion. The first scene of the second part of the poem is the same cell, on the morning of the execution; the clergyman praying by the doomed man, and endeavoring to inspire him with fortitude to endure the horrors that await him. The second scene changes again to the prisoner's cottage, where his wife is sitting with her friend, surrounded by her little ones. The third scene is a field, in which several laborers are reposing. The following powerful description of the appalling spectacle is put into the mouth of one of the bystanders :
Master. Methinks I see the hill-side all alive, With silent faces gazing steadfastly On one poor single solitary wretch, Who views not in the darkness of his trouble One human face among the many thousands All staring towards the scaffold! Some are
there Who have driven their carts with his unto the market,
Have shook hands with him meeting at the
fair, Have in his very cottage been partakers Of the homely fare which rev'rently he bless'd, Yea! who have seen his face in holier places, And in the same seat boen at worship with Within the house of God. May God forgive
Mary. He is not guilty.
Last in the company of the murder'd man— Everything is dark. Blood on his hands-a bloody knife conceal'dThe coin found on him which the widow swore
His fears when apprehended--and the falsehoods
Which first he utter'd-all perplex my mind! And then they say the murder'd body bled, Soon as he touch'd it--Let us to our work, Poor people oft must work with heavy hearts.
Oh! doth that sunshine smile as cheerfully Upon Lea-side as o'er my happy fields!
[The Scene changes to a little Field commanding a view of the place of Execution. Two YOUNG MEN looking towards it.] 1st Man. I dare to look no longer.-What dost thou see?
2d Man. There is a stirring over all the crowd.
That dims his cheeks--but a wild yellow hue
[He turns away.]
2d Man. He is standing on the scaffolding
he looks round,
But does not speak-some one goes up to him
He whispers in his ear-he kisses him
He falls on his knees-now no one on the scaffold
But he and that old wretch! a rope is hanging
How look the crowd? 2d Man. I saw them not-but now ten thousand faces
Are looking towards him with wide-open eyes!
That calmly-slowly-and without a tremble-
He is reprieved at this very crial juncture; and the real murr confesses his guilt, and delivers himself up to justice. We are disposed to consider this fragment
the most touching and powerful of all Mr. Wilson's productions.
Among the minor poems, which in the new edition of Mr. Wilson's poetical works occupy the second volume, our prime favorites arethe Scholar's Funeral-Address to a Wild Deer-To a Sleeping Child
Trout-beck Chapel--the Hearth -Peace and Solitude, and the Children's Dance. The pieces which are the, most intrinsically characteristic of the writer's genius are-a Lay of Fairy Land-Edith and Nora-the Desolate Villagethe Ass in a Storm Shower-Picture of a Blind Man-My Cottage -and Church-yard Dreams. We are compelled to curtail the followpoem, in order to adapt it to our narrow limits:
ADDRESS TO A WILD DEER.
Magnificent Creature! so stately and bright!
Or borne like a whirlwind down on the vale !
-Hail! King of the wild and the beautiful! --hail!
A throne which the eagle is glad to resign
Lo! the clouds in the depth of the sky are at
And the race of the wild winds is o'er on the hill!
In the hush of the mountains, ye antlers lie
Though your branches now toss in the storm of delight,
Like the arms of the pine on yon shelterless
One moment--thou bright Apparition!-delay!
Aloft on the weather-gleam, scorning the earth,
O'er the fathomless gloom of each moaning abyss ;
O'er the grim rocks careering with prosperous motion,
Like a ship by herself in full sail o'er the
Yes! fierce looks thy nature, ev'n hush'd in
Then proudly he turn'd ere he sank to the dell,
And shook from his forehead a haughty farewell,
While his horns in a crescent of radiance shone,
Thy bold antlers call on the hunter afar, In the depths of thy desart regardless of foes. With a haughty defiance to come to the war. No outrage is war to a creature like thee; Like a flag burning bright when the vessel is As thou bearest thy neck on the wings of the The bugle horn fills thy wild spirit with glee,
With thy presence the pine-grove is fill'd as
'Mid the mist stealing up from the cataract's
Thou fling'st thy bold beauty exulting and free,
Where the creature at rest can his image behold,
Looking up through the radiance, as bright and as bold.
wind, And the laggardly gaze-hound is toiling be
In the beams of thy forehead, that glitter with death,
In feet that draw power from the touch of the heath,
In the wide-raging torrent that lends thee its
In the cliff that once trod must be trodden no more,
Thy trust-'mid the dangers that threaten thy reign:
--But what if the stag on the mountain be slain?
On the brink of the rock-lo! he standeth at
Like a victor that falls at the close of the dayWhile the hunter and hound in their terror retreat
From the death that is spurn'd from his furious
And his last cry of anger comes back from the skies,
As Nature's fierce son in the wilderness dies.
We quote also a part of the Address to a Sleeping Child :
Art thou a thing of mortal birth,