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'And over me my Lady seemed to flow,
'With slender moonlight on the sand
A distant horn blends plans clear and bold.'
Neither do we think he can always be held to steer clear of bathos. 'Psyche and Mercury' begins poetically enough. But
'Chiefly the rippling laugh that softly shines
Of course the italics are ours. For the rest, white bodies and red roses strike us as appearing with quite sufficient frequency to become monotonous. In fact, at one time of our reading we had nearly pronounced the volume to be the apotheosis of roses on a dead level of mediocrity. Whatever Mr. Barlow's abilities may be, we cannot honestly say we think their range admits of his publishing a volume containing two hundred and thirty sonnets, without becoming very tiresome.
Ariadne Naxos. By R. S. Ross. London: Trübner & Co.,
In this poem Mr. Ross has admirably depicted the beautiful side of Greek mythology, showing the purity and loveliness which remain when the mire besmearing the same is swept away. The main interest of the poem lies, of course, in the dialogues between Theseus and Ariadne. In the very first of these the coming tragedy is dimly foreshadowed by Ariadne's vague forebodings, and the question of Thesens. This scene appears to us to be slightly injured by a perceptible talking at the reader; but considering how little the public are in general acquainted with Greek mythology, this perhaps deserves to be regarded rather as an unavoidable misfortune than as a fault. We have therein an admirable instance of how entirely Mr. Ross's muse is imbued with the Greek ideal of beauty, in the avoidance of any materialism calculated to shock or revolt refined feeling. comes to a description of his combat with the Minotaur.
The crimson tide
Poured from the gaping gashes, maddening him,
But why again affright thee with the tale?
Enough thou knowest the end; content thee so.
How effective this sudden break in the narration! The horrors of the conflict are rendered only more vivid by the apparent recoil of Theseus from the thought of a graphic description of them. In the following soliloquy of Theseus, and his next dialogue with Ariadne, his treacherous design becomes more clear and distinct; and with all the skill of a true artist Mr. Ross brings out the nobility of her nature against
the dark back-ground of the crafty meanness of her unworthy lover, who purposes abandoning her, after all her sacrifices for him, because his Cretan bride will be, in Athens, a stumbling block to his further attainments of that vulgar applause, the thirst for which she plainly shows him is the incentive to his heroic deeds. How noble the aim she sets before him!. I'd have thee aim above
Thy highest aim, which is too low; for see,
There is nothing however in the nature of the treacherous Athenian to answer to such a call, and so he leaves her sleeping, and sails away. Then, when Dionysos has, at last, convinced the hapless Ariadne that she is really abandoned by her faithless lover, we come to a scene the beauty of which analysis could but mangle, if not murder. The monologue in which the Cretan princess laments her fate, reproaches the perfidious Theseus, and welcomes the pitying arrow of Artemis, is exquisitely beautiful; a model of classical simplicity of language, in which the most touching pathos is blended with a proud resignation, and calm dignity well befitting the noble nature with which Mr. Ross has endowed the beautiful Cretan. In conclusion, we would only note the admirable structure of the choruses, dimly foreshadowing, warning, explaining, but always without effort, and never crudely definite; and the very effective use of the Furies. We sincerely hope that the mournful tale of Ariadne will not be the last of the Greek myths which Mr. Ross will set, in all their pristine beauty and purity, before that large portion of the public who are absolutely ignorant of, or only superficially acquainted with Greek, and can yet appreciate Greek beauty when thus charmingly reproduced for them.
German Classics: Nathan der Weise. A Dramatic Poem by LESSING. Edited, with English Notes, &c., by C. A. BUCHHEIM, Ph. D. Oxford. Clarendon Press, 1882.
This edition of Lessing's masterpiece in dramatic composition fully sustains the well known and thoroughly deserved reputation of Dr. Buchheim as an editor. We can scarcely conceive of a volume more admirably adapted to introduce the student to the study of the better class of German literature. The Introduction leaves absolutely nothing to be desired, unless it be that fuller acquaintance with Lessing which can only be obtained through the patient study of his works. Specially deserving of notice are the sections headed History of the Composition,' Analysis of the Characters,' 'A Dramatic Poem and a Stage Play.' In the 'Notes' not a single difficulty seems to have been overlooked, while the amount of historical and critical matter they contain gives them a value of their own. A more scholarly, painstaking, and in every respect satisfactory performance we have never seen.
Select Poems of Goethe. Edited with Life, Introduction, and Notes, by EDWARD A. SONNENSCHEIN, M.A., and ALOIS POGATSCHER. London: W. Swan Sonnenschein & Co.,
This excellent little volume has one great merit which its title page does not even hint at. The poems selected are not merely amongst the best that Goethe wrote, but they are also precisely those which will enable the reader to appreciate him as the Germans themselves appreciate him. They are those which the school-boy learns, which the student sings, and which everybody quotes. The Introductions' are particularly valuable. In explaining difficulties of grammar and construction, the Editors have judiciously remembered what is too often forgotten: 'the point of view of the school-master, who rightly objects to having his pupils supplied with a ready-made solution of difficulties, which they could solve for themselves with a little care and thought.'
Specimen Days and Collect.
By WALT WHITMAN. Glasgow: Wilson & McCormick, 1883.
As we intend to treat of the writings of Walt Whitman at greater length than is possible here, all we can do now is to direct attention to the handsomne volume of his prose writings which has recently been issued by Messrs. Wilson & McCormick.
Wayside Songs: with other verse. (Glasgow: Wilson & M'Cormick, 1883.) The motto to this handsomely got up little volume of poems-‘I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers '-serves very well to indicate the character of its contents. The poems are, for the most part, short. Some of them are very sweet and beautiful, and bring to one's mind many fresh and pleasant scenes. There is a childlike simplicity about them which makes them simply delightful. The author is evidently a student of Wordsworth, and has caught not a little of his spirit. One or two of the poems, as, for instance, 'By the Fire,' might be improved or left out. "To a Child in Church' is one of the best in the book. The same may also be said of 'To a Caged Bird.' 'In the Shadow' is a genuine bit of poetry. The Man of the Woods. (Edinburgh: A. & C. Black.) Mr. M'Dowall has here given, in a collected form, a number of his poems which have for some time been out of print. We are very glad to see that they are meeting with the success they so well deserve. The poem which gives the title to the volume, and "The Martyr of Erromanga,' now in its third edition, are probably the best. Some of the shorter poems show deep feeling and not a little poetic insight.-Burns in Dumfriesshire is from the same author and from the same publishers, and though not a volume of poems, may here be noticed. It gives a singularly
interesting and faithful sketch of the last eight years of the poet's life, supplying many biographical details with which all lovers of Burns will do well to acquaint themselves.-Mr. A. G. Murdoch's The Scottish Poets: Recent and Living, has reached a second edition. The selection, which is well made, deserves this reward. We cannot say so much for the portraits. Their omission would be a decided improvement.-C Sonnets by C Authors, edited by H. J. Nicoll (Edinburgh: Macniven & Wallace) is a prettily printed, and judiciously made, selection of sonnets gathered from a very wide field. The editor has done his work well; but the printer might have given some of his pages a more uniform appearance.
Scottish Loch Scenery. Illustrated by a Series of Coloured Plates, from Drawings by A. F. LYDON. With Descriptive Notes by THOMAS A. CROAL. London: Walker & Co.,
Scotchmen and lovers of Scottish Loch scenery will give this volume a very hearty welcome. The plates are twenty-five in number, and represent some of the most beautiful scenes in Scotland. Though one or two of them are perhaps a little over-coloured, they are, generally speaking, exceedingly well done. The descriptive notes are good, Mr. Croal having interwoven with the descriptions of the scenes, much interesting historical and antiquarian information. In short, the book is really a charming one, and to those who have wandered among the Scottish lochs, it will recall many happy days.
Angus Graeme, Gamekeeper. By the Author of A Lonely Life, Wise as a Serpent, &c. 2 vols. London: Alexander Gardner, 1883.
This is an exceedingly interesting novel of Scotch life and its surroundings. The plot is simple, but its very simpleness is one of the charms of the book. All the characters, with but few exceptions, move in a radius of a few miles. The interest of the story centres itself in Yair House, within easy distance of Stronvar, 'a royal Burgh, with Provost, Town Council, and all other requisite officials and even a share in a Member of Parliament, to whom the honour of representing the free and independent electors of said Burgh was not without attendant pains and penalties.' Yair House is the residence of the Misses Macrae-Christie and Janet-whose parsimonious habits, odd ways of living, narrow views and opinions are graphically and humorously depicted. Mr. Pilrigg, a neighbouring ninister-not a favourable specimen-falls in love with the younger of the two sisters-Miss Janet-and the airs of that lady and her plans to make the reverend gentleman declare himself, are told with a humour which reminds one of Galt. But the Macraes had another sister, cast in a
different mould, who, years before, had made a runaway match, in consequence of which her father had made a will in favour of the other two, but their miserly ways and the cat and dog life which they led made the old gentleman cancel the first and make a second, leaving the estate of Yair to the issue of his daughter Alison. Much to the consternation of the two sisters, an heiress turns up in the shape of Jessie Grant, their sister's only child, and now an orphan. Her reception is anything but favourable, but the poor girl exerts herself to please her aunts, who repel all such advances with dry studied coldness. We may take one passage from the novel as. illustrating the quieter moments between aunts and niece. Miss Janet has been busily engaged trimming a bonnet, with Mr. Pilrigg in view, when Miss Jessie Grant, who had been watching all the while, said :—
'Aunt Janet, let me trim that bonnet for you. Indeed, you are not making it pretty or becoming.'
Janet looked at her in amazement, but, with an immediate dread of foul play in her mind, hesitated to relinquish the bonnet. Jessie, interpreting her thoughts by the light of her own guileless nature, took it almost by force from her hands, saying
'Indeed, you need not be afraid to trust me. I was always a good milliner. You have crowded a great deal too much upon it; you would look a fright in it. I will shew you in a few minutes, and I will alter it as often as you like, till I get it to please you.'
Her deft fingers were busy as she spoke, and Janet watched her in silence, reflecting the while, very shrewdly, as she imagined. Godless French Papists were great authorities on matters of taste she knew. Why should not a zealous Presbyterian thus far participate in the spoils of Egypt? Glorious visions began to rise before her of possibilities in connection with wedding clothes, under Jessie's skilful guidance.
After a few minutes deft manipulation, Jessie Grant held up the bonnet for inspection.
'Yes,' said Miss Janet, that's pretty, thank ye. But wad ye have done it the same for yourself,' she added, with a satisfactory sense of acute application of searching tests to motives.
The cunning suspicious glance which accompanied the words, fell before the girl's clear steadfast eyes.
'Of course not, Aunt Janet. We are not in the least alike. You would look absurd in a bonnet which would suit me. I am trying to make this suit you as well as I can,' she added, looking a little ruefully at her material.'
The Rev. Mr. Pilrigg flings Miss Janet overboard and falls desperately in love with Jessie Grant, the future heiress (she as yet does not know it) of Yair estate. But she hates the reverend gentleman, and to be free from his advances, and the chill and gloom of Yair, takes long rambles out among the hills. In one of these journeys she is saved from a sudden and terrible death by Angus Graeme, gamekeeper on Cairncarron estate. Angus is the hero of the story. After this, he takes a great interest in the young girl, watching over her with almost parental solicitude. He teaches her to fish, and never wearies in doing any service that will lighten the gloom of her surroundings. He saves her from being abducted, and ends himself by loving her with that intense love which certain natures are only capable of. This love is hopeless, and is only revealed to Jessie Grant on the eve of her marriage with the young laird of Cairncarron. After the