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How effective is the unexpected return to the fierce old race-names in the scene of elemental passion, and what a sound of onslaught is embodied in the second of these stanzas! Mark the effect of the full stop after 'the combat deepens. One feels the crisis of the battle begin, as the trumpet sounds for the charge of the Bavarian horse.
In the · Battle of the Baltic' Campbell seizes as truly the slow movement of the old sailing war-ships drifting into battle, and the gradual dying away of the cannonade as one enemy's ship after another was put out of action. The thing is not so much described as embodied in the movement of the verse. A modern sea-fight would require a swifter metre. Two modern warships, steaming full pace ahead, with their far-reaching guns, might be in action ten minutes after they saw each other's smoke above the horizon. A modern sea-fight might be as much a surprise as one by cavalry coming over the edge of a hill. Campbell's 'Mariners
of England' is, perhaps, our best patriotic ode. It is an interesting example of the transmutation of a good old popular piece of verse into far finer metal. Then, again, Campbell's 'Soldier's Dream' is the most beautiful rendering in English verse of the war-weary mood. Altogether, if, as Eton boys used to be sagely instructed, 'a
few good verses are better than a great many bad ones,' no British poet surpasses in this kind the Scotchman Campbell. One can understand what Walter Scott meant when he said that he could imitate other poets of his day, but not . Campbell, because the peculiarity of Campbell lay in his
substance and not in his style.' It was in a few poems only, however, of this poet that the style was so one with the theme. Campbell himself seems to have founded his expectations of fame upon The Pleasures of Hope' and • Gertrude of Wyoming,' poems in the late Georgian style, which few can now relish. He spoke of his · Hohenlinden' as a 'damned drum and trumpet thing!' So great may be the delusions of poets as to the relative merits of the results of their laborious lucubrations and their real inspirations.
Like Campbell's best poems, Wolfe's · Burial of Sir John Moore' embodies with singular felicity in the essence of its simple metre the feeling of one side of war, and it will endure while and wherever English is spoken or read.
What did the Crimean war produce in this field ? One splendid war lyric certainly, which ranks with the English classics in this kind—Tennyson's Charge of the Light * Brigade.' There is not a word too much, or too little, or misplaced, or out of taste in those half-dozen stanzas. Sir Franklin Lushington and Mr. Henry Lushington wrote several poems included in the most patriotic anthologies, but they are of the forcible-feeble kind, not good enough to reprint at this distance of time. The Chinese 'opium war,' with its dubious object and easy success, is not one in which Englishmen can find any gratification. But it chanced to bear poetic fruit in one of the finest poems of this kind—Sir Francis Doyle's' Private of the Buffs,' with its noble moral :
• Vain, mightiest fleets of iron framed ;
Vain, those all-shattering guns ;
The strong heart of her sons.
A man of mean estate,
Because his soul was great.' The desperate and heroic race-struggle in India in the summer of 1857 has hardly found its poet. Tennyson's retrospective ' Defence of Lucknow' was not written when he was in his full powers, and seems to be too laboured and remote from the real thing. One feels in it too much the action of the pump, as Fitzgerald said of some of his friend's later work. The feeling of the Mutiny time lives best, perhaps, in the poems of Sir Alfred Lyall, who had the advantage of being in his youth amid those troublous scenes, and yet, as a civilian, standing somewhat aloof from the full tide of war. In his “Theology in Extremis' and his poem on a soldier's burial amid the Himalayas to the piercing northern melody of Annie Laurie,' episodes or scenes of the war stand out in vivid relief, and his 'Somnia' recalls, though without any imitation, the spirit of Campbell's 'Soldier's Dream :'
"A late moon that sinks o'er a river,
Flowing luminous, languid, and still;
In the cold morning breeze from the hill;
norta soldier; In his standing
• Just a thin veil of darkness above you,
While the cool quiet hour is your own;
With the fast fading night they'll be gone.
"Look up, see above you the star-land
Wanes dim with the flush of the dawn,
And your visions must break with the morn
Still wanders, forgetful and free,
Hears the long winding plash of the sea.
Ah, rest in that home while you may ;
When you wake, and your dreams pass away.
• When the sun beats aflame on your faces,
What the old fighters felt, ye shall feel,
Flashes out in the smoke and the steel ;
'For the plain, bare and burning, lies yonder,
And perchance, when the war-cloud has passed,
And thy sleep shall be dreamless at last.' The American Civil War was an embodiment of a great struggle of contending ideas; on the one side those of human freedom and the unity of the United States, on the other those of State liberty and rights of property. Some of the poetry wbich was born of it will be an enduring part of the American heritage. Of such a kind is Bret Harte's "Réveillé,' with its stirring opening :
* Hark! I hear the tramp of thousands,
And of armed men the hum :
Saying, “ Come,
Freemen, come! Ere your heritage be wasted,” said the quick alarming drum.' Whittier’s ‘Barbara Frietchie' is an excellent model of narration of a touching and striking incident of war.
The Afghan War of 1878-80 did not elicit either from official or unofficial bards any immortal British poem. It did produce a fine crop of ballads of the primitive kind among the Afghan mountaineers, some of which have been rendered into excellent French prose by M. James Darmesteter in his 'Chants populaires des Afghans.' They are true border ballads, written by bards who were not distant
literary artists, but had seen that of which they wrote, and had themselves keenly enjoyed the pleasure of shooting at the Firangis. The names of Râpat (Lord Roberts), who has sworn upon the Gospels that he will take Kâbul,' Kamnári (Cavagnari), Warbarton (Colonel Warburton, of Peshawur), figure oddly in this uncivilised poetry. Here is a spirited little .ghazal' concerning a hero called Muhammed Jân :
He fights always, never flies, the admirable youth. He leaps upon the Firangis ; his name is Muhammed Jân.
The English are come from London, thinking to take Kabul; he fires at them his great pistols, every moment.
They make war on those who believe in the Law of the Prophet; he covers himself with honour, he covers all the Pagans with shame.
The place of the Pagans is in the fifth circle of hell; for them deep is the abyss, dark is the tomb; they burn in eternal flames.
"He who has ascended so high on the ladder of the martyrs, the colour of the flower,* rests on his bed in Paradise.
"Since thou must depart from this world, O, Muhammed-Dîn, make thyself a dervish at the door of the All-Glorious.
*He fights always, never flies, the admirable youth ; his name is Muhammed Jân.'
· Let death come suddenly upon them, and let them go • down alive into hell,” said the Hebrew psalmist. The • righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance; he shall wash his footsteps in the blood of the ungodly.'
The latest South African war has been illustrated by countless deeds of valour, and has caused tears enough to flow, Heaven knows; but it has not, we think, inspired a single poem which is likely to live.t One poet of a rather cold order of merit, Mr. Watson, has been compelled by conscience to indite sonnets and other poems condemning the British cause. Mr. Kipling's verses upon the departure for Table Bay of the fifty thousand men, who were so easily and rapidly to conquer the Dutch Republics, had some go and ring, but were ephemeral, Mr. Swinburne, under the influence of over-excited feelings, has written a poem or two which, in his own interest, had better be forgotten as soon as possible. The Poet Laureate has written exhortations
which is lijout it has not caused ten
• The blood of martyrs is supposed to make red roses grow.
* Except, perhaps, a little poem by Mr. Newbolt, quoted by the Bishop of London in his sermon at St. Paul's, before the King, on June 3, 1902.
hardly exhilarating enough to animate the gentlest charge :
Comrades in arms, from every shore
Where thundereth the main,
To face the rifle's rain ;
And chase them till they fall,
Upon the rebel wall.
And bid her bow the knee ?
And her ironclads the sea.' In justice to the Laureate it must be said that this was written in December 1899, before the Boers had proved that they could not only defend trenches and difficult hill positions, but attack on the open veld as bravely as any soldiers in the world. It may be that English education has so bred in our poets, and infused into our mental atmosphere, the habit of sympathy with small nations defending independence against mighty empires, that, however just and necessary this war may have been, not even a Poet Laureate can celebrate it with the fire which burned in Athenian poets when they remembered Marathon and Salamis.
Byron lit his torch at that hearth of freedom when he . wrote his noble 'Isles of Greece:'
"The mountains look on Marathon
And Marathon looks on the sea;
I dreamed that Greece might still be free;
I could not deem myself a slave.
Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis;
And men in nations ;-all were his !
My country ? On thy voiceless shore
The heroic bosom beats no more!'