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No. CIX.



WITH the sound of our PREFACE yet ringing in their ears, our many myriads of readers will open this Number in hope and fear of some tremendous explosion. The very least we can do after last month's volcano, will be to blow up both Houses of Parliament!-No such thing. The great beauty of our character-that which so rivets the affection of our friends, and so perplexes the hatred of our enemies,-is its apparent inconsistency. We are never the same Magazine for two months together. The moon herself, high as she stands for changefulness, is, in comparison with us, a most steady periodical. During the harvest, especially, she seems always a wellpleased planet, as if a cloud had never crossed her face. Nay, astronomers and shepherds pretend to understand much of her behaviour all the year round, and to predict when the fair editress is about to favour the public with a brilliant Number. But where is the astronomer or shepherd, (even he the Chaldean,) who shall venture to prophesy whether in a troubled or serene heaven will rise the effulgence of our next month's horns? Science herself is baffled, and imagination confesses herself at the wall. The nations see the day of our rising advertised, and wonder if, with fear of change, we are to be perplexing monarchs, or merely diffusing our gentle radiance over the paths of literature, and brightening the privacy of domestic life.



It is surely needless, at this time of day, to point out the surpassing excellence of such a character as this in any public and periodical personage, whether in heaven or on earth. We cheerfully acknowledge that many of the other Magazines are tiresome to a degree, of which those who have never read them can form not even the most inadequate conception; and yet it would be cruel to call them bad Ma

gazines. We believe them to be good Magazines. But what is a cold abstract belief without accompanying emotion? We do not feel them to be good Magazines ;-of which there cannot be a stronger proof than this, that when we chance to fall asleep during the perusal of even one of their most interesting articles, we never dream about it— never, so help us heaven !-but in our slumbers as utterly forget them as if such productions never had been born. Now, no sooner do we sink into repose over an article in Blackwood, (we adopt the common phraseology,) than that Periodical pursues us into the land of Nod, and haunts us in the shape of a dream. We hear an uncertain sound like the rustling of wings; and then a countenance, fluctuating from sternness to suavity, smiles or frowns upon us-is it that of George or Christopher-of North or Buchanan-of Socrates or Solomon ?-Into whatever imaginary scene fancy may have wafted the contributor, he seems to ascend steps like the very steps


of No. 17, Prince's Street; he sees the same long vista of vestibule, front shop, intermediate saloon, (where sits the same one eternal reader of the Courier,) and remoter den, till he sinks down in "Rabelais' easy-chair" in the Sanctum Sanctorum.

You may have observed something like this, not merely in literature, but in life. Think of any remarkable man, whom you may chance to know-any man of genius. Why, one day is he not grim and gruff as a bear, and if he condescends to growl, did you ever see such tusks? Another day, he is more like a tiger basking in the sun, with eyes of playful ferocity, and claws, three inches long, sheathing and unsheathing themselves in a sort of eager but careless instinct within the velvet of his stot-felling paws. Now he is all the world like a very absolute lion— marvellously imitating the part of the king of beasts !-Anon he is like the unweaned lamb, sporting on the sunny knoll-gentle as the cooing dove"weak as is the breaking wave," voiced like Zephyr, or the Lady-Echo.

We insist on knowing whether, among all your numerous acquaintances, there be a single one whom you love so dearly as this bear, tiger, lion, lamb, dove, zephyr, and echo? Today you have sworn to speak to him no more, for he has just cut you, as you think, on the street, or eyed you askance with leer malign,-or overwhelmed you with such a flood of idea'd words, that you, in your slow prosing way, have been unable to slip in one of your long treasured truisms, —or with one kick he has smashed, like so much crockery, an argument that you had been constructing, as you supposed with frame-work of iron, instead of wood,-or, with the touch of his little finger, he has let down the card-built edifice of one of your rejected articles to Blackwood. To-morrow, he proposes an arm-in-arm walk round the Calton Hill,-inquires kindly after your wife, your sore throat, or your rheumatism, asks your opinion of a book or a man,-expresses his concern and surprise that you do not confirm the opinion held of you by all your friends, by giving to the public some work worthy of your talents, genius, and erudition,-wonders you did not go to the bar,-requests you to repeat that most exquisite story,-complains of a pain in his side at your last pun,--

hints that Sheridan was no wit,-and, on parting, proposes a supper at Ambrose's.

It is our fixed determination this month to do the agreeable. We shall, therefore, not suffer any argumentative contributor to open his mouth. We shall not hurt a fly or a worm. Article shall vie with article in good humour and philanthropy. We shall strive to make it impossible for the most sensitive subscriber or non-subscriber (the two great divisions of our race) to take OFFENCE. Should we, nevertheless, fail in such avoidance, and, by some unlucky monosyllable, (for occasionally one word of ours, so small perhaps as to be invisible to readers without spectacles, appears a very mountain of mischief,) raise up the whole world against us, we shall make the amplest apology that ever graced the pages of a periodical work. Yes! Should the complainant be even the acknowledged Idiot of the poet's corner of a Cockney newspaper, we shall, in our apology, cheerfully and unequivocally express our belief,nay, knowledge, that he is the Author of Waverley.

We had once intended to entitle our leading article, "Characters of our Living Poets." We have written it, but are quite at a loss what to do with it; for James Ballantyne informs us that it would occupy twenty sheets, -that is, about three numbers of the Magazine. There are, we find, exactly 103 Living Poets of magnitude in this free and happy island; and an average of three pages a-piece cannot surely be thought unreasonable.— What, then, we ask once more, is to be done with the said article? We are determined not to fretter it down into piecemeals. Will any publisher, Murray, Longman, Hurst, Constable, Blackwood, or Oliver and Boyd, offer FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS?

After dashing off the concluding words of our Essay, ("the most glorious age of British Poetry,") our thoughts began to wander away, by some fine associations, into the woods of our childhood," Bards of Scotland! Birds of Scotland !" and at that very moment, we heard the loud, clear, mellow, bold song of the BLACKBIRD. There he flits along upon a strong wing, with his yellow bill visible in distance, and disappears in the silent wood. Not long silent. It is a spring

day in our imagination,—his clay-wall nest holds his mate at the foot of the Silver-fir, and he is now perched on its pinnacle. That thrilling hymn will go vibrating down the stem till it reaches her brooding breast. The whole vernal air is filled with the murmur and the glitter of insects, but the blackbird's song is over all other symptoms of love and life, and seems to call upon the leaves to unfold into beauty. It is on that one Tree-top, conspicuous among many thousands on the fine breast of wood, where, here and there, the pine mingles not unmeetly with the prevailing oak,that the forest minstrel sits in his inspiration. The rock above is one which we have often climbed. There lies the glorious Loch and all its islands -one dearer than the rest to eye and imagination, with its old Religious House,-year after year crumbling away unheeded into more entire ruin! Far away, a sea of mountains, with all their billowing summits distinct in the sky, and now uncertain and changeful as the clouds! Yonder castle stands well on the peninsula among the trees which the herons inhabit. Those coppice woods on the other shore stealing up to the heathery rocks, and sprinkled birches, are the haunts of the roe! That great glen, that stretches sullenly away into the distant darkness, has been for ages the birth and the death-place of the red deer. Hark, 'tis the cry of an eagle! There he hangs poised in the sunlight, and now he flies off towards the sea.But again the song of our BLACKBIRD "rises like a steam of rich distilled perfumes," and our heart comes back to him upon the pinnacle of his own Home-tree. The source of song is yet in the happy creature's heart-but the song itself has subsided, like a mountain-torrent that has been rejoicing in a sudden shower among the hills; the bird drops down among the balmy branches; and the other faint songs which that bold anthem had drowned, are heard at a distance, and seem to encroach every moment on the silence.

wisdom to be charmed with what is charming, to live in it, for the time being, and compare the emotion with no former emotion whatever-unless it be unconsciously in the working of an imagination set a-going by delight. Who, in reading this Magazine, for example, would compare or contrast it with any other Periodical under heaven? You read it--and each article is felt to be admirable or execrable-purely for its own sake. You love or you hate it, as THE, not as A Magazine. You hug it to your heart, or you make it spin to the other end of the room, simply because it is Blackwood's Magazine, without, during the intensity of your emotion, remembering that Colburn's, or the Monthly, or the London, or the European, or the Ladies', or the Gentleman's, exists. No doubt, as soon as the emotion has somewhat subsided, you do begin to think of the other Periodicals. On stooping to pick up the Number that has so aroused your wrath, you say, "I will subscribe to the New Monthly,"-yet no sooner have the words escaped your lips than you blush, like a flower unseen, at your own folly. Your own folly stares you the face, and out of countenance-You bless your stars that nobody was in the room at the timeYou re-read the article, and perceive, in your amended temper, that it is full of the most important truths, couched in the most elegant language. You dissolve into tears of remorse and penitence, and vow to remain a faithful subscriber on this side-at leastof the grave.

You say you greatly prefer the song of the THRUSH. Pray why set such delightful singers by the ears? We dislike the habit that very many people have of trying everything by a scale. Nothing seems to them to be good-positively -only relatively. Now, it is true Now, it is true

Although, therefore, we cannot say that we prefer the Thrush to the Blackbird, yet we agree with you in thinking it a most delightful bird. Where a Thrush is, we defy you to anticipate his song in the morning. He is indeed an early riser. By the way, Chanticleer is far from being so. You hear him crowing away from shortly after midnight, and, in your simplicity, may suppose him to be up, and strutting about the premises. Far from it; he is at that very moment perched in his polygamy between two of his fattest wives. The sultan will perhaps not stir a foot for several hours to come; while all the time the Thrush, having long ago rubbed his eyes, is on his topmost twig, broad awake, and charming the ear of dawn with his

beautiful vociferation. During midday he disappears, and is mute; but again, at dewy even, as at dewy morn, he pours his pipe like a prodigal, nor ceases sometimes, when night has brought the moon and stars. Best beloved, and most beautiful of all Thrushes that ever broke from the blue-spotted shell-thou who, for five springs, hast " hung thy procreant cradle" among the roses, and honeysuckles, and ivy, and clematis, that embower in bloom the lattice of my cottagestudy-how farest thou now in the snow!-Consider the whole place as your own, my dear bird; and remember, that when the gardener's children sprinkle food for you and yours all along your favourite haunts, that it is done by our orders. And when all the earth is green again, and all the sky blue, you will welcome us to our rural domicile, with light feet running before us among the winter leaves, and then skim away to your new nest in the old spot, then about to be somewhat more cheerful in the undis. turbing din of the human life within the flowery walls.

Why do the songs of the Blackbird and Thrush make us think of the songless STARLING? It matters not. We do think of him, and see him too-a beautiful bird, and his abode is majestic. What an object of wonder and awe is an old Castle to a boyish imagination! Its height how dreadful! up to whose mouldering edges his fear carries him, and hangs him over the battlements! What beauty in those unapproachable wall-flowers, that cast a brightness on the old brown stones of the edifice, and make the horror pleasing! That sound so far below is the sound of a stream the eye cannot reach of a waterfall echoing for ever among the black rocks and pools. The school-boy knows but little of the history of the old Castle, but that little is of war, and witchcraft, and imprisonment, and bloodshed. The ghostly glimmer of antiquity appals him-he visits the ruin only with a companion, and at mid-day. There and then it was that we first saw a Starling. We heard something wild and wonderful in their harsh scream, as they sat upon the edge of the battlements, or flew out of the chinks and crannies. There were Martens too, so different in their looks from the pretty House-Swallows-Jack-daws clamour

ing afresh at every time we waved our hats, or vainly slung a pebble towards their nests-and one grove of elms, to whose top, much lower than the castle, came, ever and anon, some noiseless Heron from the muirs.

Higher and higher than ever rose the tower of Belus, soars and sings the LARK, the lyrical poet of the sky.— Listen, listen! and the more remote the bird, the louder is his hymn in heaven. He seems, in his loftiness, to have left the earth for ever, and to have forgotten his lowly nest. The primroses and the daisies, and all the sweet hill-flowers, must be unremembered in the lofty region of light. But just as the Lark is lost-he and his song together

both are again seen and heard wavering down the sky, and in a little while he is walking contented along the furrows of the braided corn, or on the clover lea, that has not felt the plough-share for half a century.


In our boyish days, we never felt that the Spring had really come, till the clearsinging Lark went careering before our gladdened eyes away up to heaThen all the earth wore a vernal look, and the ringing sky said, “winter over and gone.' As we roamed, on a holiday, over the wide pastoral moors, to angle in the lochs and pools, unless the day were very cloudy, the song of some lark or other was still warbling aloft, and made a part of our happiness. The creature could not have been more joyful in the skies, than we were on the greensward. We, too, had our wings, and flew through our holiday. Thou soul of glee! who still leddest our flight in all our pastimes!-bold, bright, and beautiful child of Erin!-for many and many a long, long year hast thou been mingled with the dust! Dead and gone, as if they had never been, all the captivations of thy voice, eye, laugh, motion, and hand, open as day to "melting charity !"-He, too, the grave and thoughtful English boy, whose equisite scholarship we all so enthusiastically admired, without one single particle of hopeless envy,-and who accompanied us on all our wildest expeditions, rather from affection to his playmates than any love of their sports,

he who, timid and unadventurous as he seemed to be, yet rescued little Marian of the Brae from a drowning death, when so many grown-up men stood aloof in selfish fear,-gone, too,

for ever art thou, my beloved Edward Harrington! and, after a few brilliant years in the oriental clime,

-"on Hoogley's banks afar, Looks down on thy lone tomb the Evening Star.”

Methinks we hear the "song o' the GREY LINTIE," perhaps the darling bird of Scotland. None other is more tenderly sung of in our old ballads. When the simple and fervent love-poets of our pastoral times first applied to the maiden the words, "my bonnie burdie," they must have been thinking of the Grey Lintie-its plumage ungaudy and soberly pure-its shape elegant, yet unobtrusive-and its song various without any effort-now rich, gay, sprightly, but never rude or riotous now tender, almost mournful, but never gloomy or desponding. So, too, are all its habits, endearing and delightful. It is social, yet not averse to solitude, singing often in groups, and as often by itself in the furze-brake, or on the briary knoll. You often find the lintie's nest in the most solitary places in some small self-sown clump of trees by the brink of a wild hillstream, or on the tangled edge of a forest; and just as often you find it in the hedgerow of the cottage garden, or in a bower within, or even in an old gooseberry bush that has grown into a sort of tree.

One wild and beautiful place we well remember-ay, the very bush in which we first found a grey linnet's nest-for, in our native parish, from some cause or other, it was rather a rarish bird. That far-away day is as distinct as the present Now. Imagine, friend, first, a little well surrounded with wild cresses on the moor, something like a rivulet flows from it, or rather you see a deep tinge of verdure, the line of which, you believe, must be produced by the oozing moisture-you follow it, by and by there is a descent palpable to your feet-then you find yourself between low broomy knolls, that, heightening every step, become ere long banks and braes, and hills. You are surprised now to see a stream, and look round for its source-there seem now to be a hundred small sources in fissures, and springs on every side -you hear the murmurs of its course over beds of sand and gravel-and hark, a waterfall! A tree or two begins to shake its tresses on the horizon-a birch or a rowan. You get ready your angle and by the time you have

panniered three dozen, you are at a wooden bridge-you fish the pool above it with the delicate dexterity of a Boaz, capture the monarch of the flood, and on lifting your eyes from his starry side as he gasps his last on the silvery shore, you behold a cottage, at one gable end an ash, at the other a sycamore, and standing perhaps at the lonely door, a maiden far more beautiful than any angel.

This is the Age of Confessions; and why, therefore, may we not make a confession of first love? I had finished my sixteenth year, I was almost as tall as I am now,-almost as tall! Yes, yes,-for my figure was then straight as an arrow, and almost like an arrow in its flight. I had given over bird-nesting, but I had not ceased to visit the dell where first I found the grey lintie's brood. Talewriters are told by critics to remember that the young shepherdesses of Scotland are not beautiful as the fictions of a poet's dream. But SHE was beautiful beyond poetry. She was so then, when passion and imagination were young, and her image, her undying, unfading image, is so now, when passion and imagination are old, and when from eye and soul have disappeared much of the beauty and glory both of nature and life. I loved her from the first moment that our eyes met,—and I see their light at this moment, the same soft, bright, burning light, that set body and soul on fire. She was but a poor shepherd's daughter; but what was that to me, when I heard her voice singing one of her old plaintiff ballads among the braes, when I sat down beside her, when the same plaid was drawn over our shoulders in the rain-storm,

when I asked her for a kiss, and was not refused,-for what had she to fear in her beauty, and her innocence, and her filial piety, and was not I a mere boy, in the bliss of passion, ignorant of deceit or dishonour, and with a heart open to the eyes of all as to the gates of heaven? What music was in that stream! Could "Sabean odours from the spicy shores of Araby the Blest" so penetrate my soul with joy, as the balmy breath of the broom on which we sat, forgetful of all other human life! Father, mother, brothers, sisters, uncles, and aunts, and cousins, and all the tribe of friends that would throw me off,-if

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