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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.


Yellow 'mid the sunshine, on the Minster-clock,
Why does the finger,
Point at that hour? It is most horrible,
Speaking of midnight in the face of day.
During the very dead of night it stopp'd,

Even at the moment when a hundred hearts
Paused with it suddenly, to beat no more.
Yet, wherefore should it run its idle round?
There is no need that men should count the

Of time, thus standing on eternity.
It is a death-like image. How can I,
When round me silent nature speaks of death,
Withstand such monitory impulses?
Sometimes my mother's image struck my soul
When yet far off I thought upon the Plague,

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In unchanged meekness and serenity,

And all my fears were gone. But these green banks,

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With an unwonted flush of flowers o'ergrown, Brown, when I left them last, with frequent


From morn till evening hurrying to and fro,
In mournful beauty seem encompassing
A still forsaken city of the dead.

O unrejoicing Sabbath! not of yore
Did thy sweet evenings die along the Thames
Thus silently! Now every sail is furl'd,
The oar hath dropt from out the rower's hand,
And on thou flow'st in lifeless majesty,
River of a desart lately fill'd with joy!
O'er all that mighty wilderness of stone
The air is clear and cloudless, as at sea
Above the gliding ship. All fires are dead,
And not one single wreath of smoke ascends
Above the stillness of the towers and spires.
How idly hangs that arch magnificent
Across the idle river! Not a speck
Is seen to move along it. There it hangs,
Still as a rainbow in the pathless sky.


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.
You will hear nothing but the brown red grass
Rustling beneath your feet; the very beating
Of your own hearts will awe you; the small


Of that vain bauble, idly counting time,
Will speak a solemn language in the desart.
Look up to heaven, and there the sultry clouds,
Still threatening thunder, lower with grim

As if the Spirit of the Plague dwelt there,
Darkening the city with the shades of death.
Know ye that hideous hubbub? Hark, far off
A tumult like an echo! on it comes,
Weeping and wailing, shrieks and groaning


And, louder than all, outrageous blasphemy.
The passing storm hath left the silent streets,
But are these houses near you tenantless ?
your heads from a window, suddenly
A ghastly face is thrust, and yells of death
With voice not human. Who is he that flies,
As if a demon dogg'd him on his path?
With ragged hair, white face, and bloodshot


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,

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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.

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That dims his cheeks--but a wild yellow hue
Like that of mortal sickness or of death.
Oh! what the soul can suffer when the Devil
Sits on it, grimly laughing o'er his prey,
Like a carrion-bird beside some dying beast,
Croaking with hunger and ferocity.

[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
Right over his head-and as my Maker liveth,
That demon as he grasps it with his fingers
Hath laughter in his face.

1st Man.

How look the crowd? 2d Man. I saw them not-but now ten thousand faces

Are looking towards him with wide-open eyes!
Uncover'd every head-and all is silent
And motionless, as if 'twere all a dream.
Is he still praying?

1st Man.
2d Man.
can look no more,
For death and horror round his naked neck
Are gathering! Curse those lean and shri-
vel'd fingers

That calmly-slowly-and without a tremble-
Are binding unto agony and shame
One of God's creatures with a human soul.
-Hark! hark! a sudden shriek-a yell-a

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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:


Magnificent Creature! so stately and bright!
In the pride of thy spirit pursuing thy flight;
For what hath the child of the desart to dread,
Wafting up his own mountains that far-beam-

ing head;

Or borne like a whirlwind down on the vale !

-Hail! King of the wild and the beautiful! --hail!

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A throne which the eagle is glad to resign
Unto footsteps so fleet and so fearless as thine.
There the bright heather springs up in love of
thy breast-

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!
Then melt o'er the crags, like the sun from

the day.

Aloft on the weather-gleam, scorning the earth,
The wild Spirit hung in majestical mirth;
In dalliance with danger, he bounded in bliss,

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,


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With thy presence the pine-grove is fill'd as
with light,
And the caves, as thou passest, one moment
are bright.
Through the arch of the rainbow that lies on
the rock,

'Mid the mist stealing up from the cataract's

Thou fling'st thy bold beauty exulting and free,
O'er a pit of grim blackness, that roars like the


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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

feet :

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,
Whose happy home is on our earth?
Does human blood with life embue
Those wandering veins of heavenly blue,
That stray along thy forehead fair,
Lost 'mid a gleam of golden hair?
Oh! can that light and airy breath
Steal from a being doom'd to death;
Those features to the grave be sent
In sleep thus mutely eloquent;
Or, art thou, what thy form would seem,
The phantom of a blessed dream?
A human shape I feel thou art,
I feel it, at my beating heart,
Those tremors both of soul and sense
Awoke by infant innocence!
Though dear the forms by fancy wove,
We love them with a transient love;
Thoughts from the living world intrude
But, lovely child! thy magic stole
Even on her deepest solitude:
At once into my inmost soul,
With feelings as thy beauty fair,
Oh! that my spirit's eye could see
And left no other vision there.
Whence burst those gleams of ecstasy !
That light of dreaming soul appears
Thou smil'st as if thy soul were soaring
To play from thoughts above thy years.
To heaven, and heaven's God adoring!
And who can tell what visions high

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