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Rade out on a day.
And gallant rade he;
But never cam he!
“Out cam his auld mither
Greeting fu' sair,
Rivin' her hair.
And booted rade he;
But never cam he !"
What a picture of domestic affliction, heightened by contrast with the gallant setting out in the morning, is here called up, in a few lines, all the more graphic from being incomplete! Its own affirighted steed the fragment resembles, before the forlorn mansion, with saddle “toom,” nostrils dilated wide and eyes glaring wild, all the more sublime from his being unable tell a word of his lost rider. The Monody on the Burial of Sir John Moore, by Wolfe, was pronounced by Byron the best lyric in the English language; and its having been set to music and become afterwards universally popular is a proof that his praise was not misapplied. It was inspired, no doubt, almost wholly by the sad and solemn occasion on which it was written, but I cannot help thinking that the author may have caught something at least of its measure, if not of its mood, from the old Scottish fragment, which he may formerly have read and admired, of Bartram's Dirge. In a modern collection of old ballads we are told that this was taken down by Mr. Surtees from the recitation of Anne Douglas, an old woman that weeded in his garden.” We only wish that Mr. Surtees had given it as it fell from the old woman's lips without any of his modern touches. As it stands now it is still eminently beautiful, we admit, and deserving to be placed along side of the monody of Wolfe, but it has certainly lost something of its ancient cast. Its general character, we are sorry to say, is no longer altogether that of the genuine" old and antique song.”
" They shot him dead at the Nine-stone Rig,
Beside the headless Cross,
Upon the moor and moss.
"They made a bier of the broken bough,
The sauch' and the aspin gray,
And waked him there all day.
"A lady came to that lonely bower
And threw her robes aside,
And knelt at Bartram's side.
“She bathed him in the Lady-Well,
His wounds sae deep and sair,
And a garland for his hair.
"They rowed him in a lily-sheet
And bare him to his earth,
As they pass'd the Chapel Garth.
"They buried him at the mirk midnight,
When the dew fell cold and still ;
And the mist clung to the hill.
By the edge of the Nine-stone Burn,
The moss and the Lady fern.
“A Gray Friar staid upon the grave
And sang till the morning tide,
While the Headless Cross shall bide."
From Scottish ballad poetry we have taken the tivo foregoing specimens, when perhaps more properly, to suit our subject, we should have chosen some from what is English. The fact is, however, beautiful as the ballads of “Merry England” are, those of Romantic Scotland, it must be said, excel mostly in touching incident and vivid description. The legends of a country, it is well known, are tinctured and inspired always, not only by the manners and customs of the people themselves, but also by the beauty or sublimity of the scenery in the midst of which they have arisen. From the loneliness of the gray and misty moors of Scotland and the wildness of her mountain glens and dashing torrents—
" Land of the mountain and the flood,
her ballads catch a stirring sublimity, as well as, from the deadly frays of rival clans “fought over again in song," often a thrilling tragic interest. On the other hand, the rich and highly cultivated tracts of land along the storied 'streams of England, her gray towers of abbies embowered amid ancient oaks and elins and hamlets sleeping in their vales, impart to her songs of this kind, for the most part, more of the charm of quietued and repose. They are more contemplative than active, more epic than lyric. Nevertheless, as the scenes of Scottish legends were generally laid along the Border and those of England in the “ North Countrye,” from their proximity it happened that the same ballads were often sung on both sides of the Tweed, and sometimes merely parts of one
were borrowed and fitted on to those of another, receiving always, however, different modifications and improvements to suit the respective feelings of each people ; and in such cases, it must be said that those applied on the Scottish side were generally the best. In the Scottish ballad of the Douglas Tragedy, for instance, how deadly and lasting !was the wrath of the old knight against Lord William, who had carried off his daughter and slain his seven sons who were following hard after, is well set forth by his pulling up afterwards and flinging into the Loch, from the tomb of the lover, the presumptuous brier, because it dared to lean over and entwine itself with the branches of the—alas !—too loving red rose on the grave of his lamented daughter.
" Lord William was buried in St. Marie's kirk,
Lady Margaret in Marie's quire;
And out o' the knight's a brier.
“And they twa met and they twa plat,
And fain they would be near,
They were twa lovers dear.
And wow but he was rough!
And flang'd it in St. Marie's Loch."
In comparison how tame and yet lofty, to be sure, in conceit to the exclusion of all feeling, is the somewhat similar tail-piece, which, however, I half suspect is a modern attachment intended to out do the Scottish, to the old English ballad of Fair Margaret and Sweet William !
"Margaret was buryed in the lower chancèl
And William in the higher:
And out of his a briar.
They grew till they grew unto the church-top
And they could grow no higher;
Which made all the people admire.
" Then came the clerk of the parish,
As you the truth shall hear,
Or they had still been there."
O most lame and impotent conclusion! Some ancient charms, however, this old English ballad still retains in spite of modern handling, from which it was that David Mallet, Esq. mistook the following lines,
“When it was grown to dark midnight,
And all were fast asleep,
And stood at William's feet,”for a lonely fragment, as he found them in Fletcher's “Knight of the Burnin Ppestle,” and naked of ornament and simple as they are, he tells us, they struck his fancy; whereupon, using them for a base, he completed upon them a superstructure of his own, called Margaret's Ghost, one of the most beautifnl ballads," says Bishop Percy,“ in our own or any language." Beautiful indeed are the similes and antitheses with which it abounds, and its versification has all the smoothness of the times of its author, who was cotemporary and intimate with Pope; but after all, I must say, for my own part, I am just as well pleased, if not better, with the wild irregularity and varied incident of the old English ballad, notwithstanding its tail-piece, from which the first stanza of this, burnished up, to be sure, was taken ; and in genuine pathos it is certainly far inferior to the modern Scottish ballad, well known in this country, on a theme somewhat similar, called Mary's Dream or Sandy's Ghost.. Mercersburg, Pa.
W. M. N.
WILBERFORCE ON THE INCARNATION. The Doctrine of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ in
its relation to Mankind and to the Church. By Robert Isaac Wilberforce, A. M., Archdeacon of the East Riding. First American from the second London Edition. Philadelphia: H. Hooker & Co., 1849, pp. 411. 12 mo.
We are not exactly prepared to pronounce this book, in the language of some of its admirers, the greatest theological work of the age. Our Episcopal friends are apt to be a little too fast in claiming credit in this style for the literature of their own Church, and a good deal too dull in perceiving or acknowledging the merit of any literature besides. They are quite too starched and pedantic especially, in their bearing towards the theology of Germany. It is only ridiculous however to fancy the English Church, or the Episcopal Church in America, on any sort of parallel and level, as regards theological science, with German Protestantism under its better form. There is no doubt on the English side a vast fund of traditional orthodoxy and order, which at this time particularly cannot well be held in too high account; and there are errors and heresies too in the thinking of Germany, as we all know, that need to be guarded against with the most jealous and watchful care. But mere tradition can never be made to stand in the place of thought ; nor are heresies to be cured, by a declaration of war against all philosophy and science. Theology, to live, must be something more ihan a form of sound words. It must grapple with error, and overcome it. Its mission is to be scientific, as well as true to