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the factory, daily made, were daily filled by male and female workers; often queer enough people, and from all parts—none too coarse for using. The pick-pocket, trained to the loom six months in Bridewell, came forth a journeyman weaver, and his precious experiences were infused into the common moral puddle, and in due time did their work." No wonder that “the distinctive character of all sunk away. Man became less manly-woman unlovely and rude.” No wonder that the factory, like too many more, though a thriving concern to its owners, becomes “a prime nursery of vice and sorrow.” “ Virtue perished utterly within its walls, and was dreamed of no more ; or, if remembered at all, only in a deep and woful sense of self-debasement—a struggling to forget, where it was hopeless to obtain." But to us, almost the most interesting passage in his book, and certainly the one which bears most directly on the general purpose of this article, is one in which he speaks of the effects of song on himself and his fellow factory-workers.
“ Moore was doing all he could for love-sick boys and girls, yet they had never enough! Nearer and dearer to hearts like ours was the Ettrick Shepherd, then in his full tide of song and story; but nearer and dearer still than he, or any living songster, was our illfated fellow-craftsman, Tannahill. Poor weaver chiel! what we owe to you !-your Braes of Baiquidder,' and 'Yon Burnside,' and Gloomy Winter,' and the Minstrel's' wailing ditty, and the noble Gleneiffer.' Oh! how they did ring above the rattle of a thousand shuttles! Let me again proclaim the debt which we owe to these song spirits, as they walked in melody from loom to loom, ministering to the low-hearted; and when the breast was filled with everything but hope and happiness, let only break out the healthy and vigorous chorus, ' A man's a man for a' that,' and the fagged weaver brightens up. ... Who dare measure the restraining influences of these very songs? To us they were all instead of Sermons. Had one of us been bold enough to enter a church, he must have been ejected for the sake of decency. His forlorn and curiously patched habiliments would have contested the point of attraction with the ordinary eloquence of that period. Church bells rang not for us. Poets were indeed our priests : but for those, the last relic of moral existence would have passed away. Song was the dew-drop which gathered during the long dark night of despondency, and was sure to glitter in the very first blink of the sun. You might have seen "Auld Robin Gray' wet the eyes that could be tearless amid cold and hunger, and weariness and pain. Surely, surely, then there was to that heart one passage left.”
Making all allowance for natural and pardonable high-colouring, we recommend this most weighty and significant passage to the attention of all readers, and draw an argumentum a fortiori, from the high estimation in which Thom holds those very
Importance of Popular Song-Literature.
up becereat resultestes, and there, the peor child at "xurious considerable new impuh for good onth
songs of Tannahill's, of which we just now spoke somewhat depreciatingly, for the extreme importance which we attach to popular poetry, as an agent of incalculable power in moulding the minds of nations.
The popular poetry of Germany has held that great nation together, united and heart-whole for centuries, in spite of every disadvantage of internal division, and the bad influence of foreign taste; and the greatest of their poets have not thought it beneath them to add their contributions, and their very best, to the common treasure, meant not only for the luxurious and learned, but for the workman and the child at school. In Great Britain, on the contrary, the people have been left to form their own tastes, and choose their own modes of utterance, with great results, both for good and evil ; and there has sprung up before the new impulse which Burns gave to popular poetry, a considerable literature-considerable not only from its truth and real artistic merit, but far more so from its being addressed principally to the working-classes. Even more important is this people's literature question, in our eyes, than the more palpable factors of the education question, about which we now hear sach ado. It does seem to us, that to take every possible precaution about the spiritual truth which children are taught in school, and then leave to chance the more impressive and abiding teaching which popular literature, songs especially, give them out of doors, is as great a niaiserie as that of the Tractarians who insisted on getting into the pulpit in their surplices, as a sign that the clergy only had the right of preaching to the people, while they forgot that, by means of a free press, (of the license of which they too were not slack to avail themselves,) every penny-a-liner was preaching to the people daily, and would do so, maugre their surplices, to the end of time. The man who makes the people's songs is a true popular preacher. Whatsoever, true or false, he sends forth, will not be carried home, as a sermon often is, merely in heads, to be forgotten before the week is out: it will ring in the ears, and cling round the imagination, and follow the pupil to the workshop, and the tavern, and the fireside, even to the deathbed, such power is in the magic of rhyme. The emigrant, deep in Australian forests, may take down Chalmers's sermons on Sabbath evenings from the scanty shelf; but the songs of Burns have been haunting his lips, and cheering his heart, and moulding him unconsciously to himself, in clearing and in pasture all the weary week. True, if he be what a Scotchman should be, more than one old Hebrew psalm has brought its message to him during these week-days; but there are feelings of his nature on which those psalms, not from defect, but from their very purpose, do not touch; how is he to express them, but in the songs which echo them? These will keep alive, and intensify in him, and in the children who learn them from his lips, all which is like themselves. Is it, we ask again, to be left to chance what sort of songs these shall be ?
As for poetry written for the working-classes by the upper, such attempts at it as we yet have seen, may be considered nil. The upper must learn to know more of the lower, and to make the lower know more of them-a frankness of which we honestly believe they will never have to repent. Moreover, they must read Burns a little more, and cavaliers and Jacobites a little less. As it is, their efforts have been as yet exactly in that direction which would most safely secure the blessings of undisturbed obscurity. Whether “ secular” or “ spiritual,” they have thought proper to adopt a certain Tommy-good-child tone, which, whether to Glasgow artisans or Dorsetshire labourers, or indeed for any human being who is “ grinding among the iron facts of life,” is, to say the least, nauseous; and the only use of their poematicula has been to demonstrate practically, the existence of a great and fearful gulf between those who have, and those who have not, in thought as well as in purse, which must be, in the former article at least, bridged over as soon as possible, if we are to remain one people much longer. The attempts at verse for children are somewhat more successful—a certain little “Moral Songs" especially, said to emanate from the Tractarian School, yet full of a health, spirit, and wild sweetness, which makes its authoress, in our eyes, “wiser than her teachers.” But this is our way. We are too apt to be afraid of the men, and take to the children as our pis aller, covering our despair of dealing with the majority, the adult population, in a pompous display of machinery for influencing that very small fraction, the children. “Oh, but the destinies of the empire depend on the rising generation !" Who has told us so?
-how do we know that they do not depend on the risen generation? Who are likely to do more work during our life-time, for good and evil,—those who are now between fifteen and five. and-forty, or those who are between five and fifteen? Yet for those former, the many, and the working, and the powerful, all we seem to be inclined to do is to parody Scripture, and say, “ He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still.”
Not that we ask any one to sit down, and, out of mere benevolence, to write songs for the people. Wooden, out of a wooden birthplace, would such go forth, to feed fires, not spirits. But if any man shall read these pages, to whom God has given a truly poetic temperament, a gallant heart, a melodious ear, a
The Poet for the People.
quick and sympathetic eye for all forms of human joy, and sorrow, and humour, and grandeur-an insight which can discern the outlines of the butterfly, when clothed in the roughest and most rugged chrysalis-hide; if the teachers of his heart and purposes, and not merely of his taste and sentiments, have been the great songs of his own and of every land and age; if he can see in the divine poetry of David and Solomon, of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and, above all, in the parables of Him who spake as never man spake, the models and elemental laws of a people's poetry, alike according to the will of God and the heart of man; if he can welcome gallantly and hopefully the future, and yet know that it must be, unless it would be a monster and a machine, the loving and obedient child of the past; if he can speak of the subjects which alone will interest the many, on love, marriage, the sorrows of the poor, their hopes, political and social, their wrongs, as well as their sins and duties; and that with a fervour and passion akin to the spirit of Burns and Elliott, yet with more calm, more purity, more wisdom, and therefore with more hope, as one who stands upon a vantage ground of education and culture, sympathizing none the less with those who struggle behind him in the valley of the shadow of death, yet seeing from the mountain peaks the coming dawn, invisible as yet to them. Then let that man think it no fall, bát rather a noble rise, to shun the barren glacier ranges of pure art, for the fertile gardens of practical and popular song, and write for the many, and with the many, in words such as they can understand, remembering that that which is simplest is always deepest, that the many contain in themselves the few, and that when he speaks to the wanderer and the drudge, he speaks to the elemental and primeval man, and in him speaks to all who have risen out of him. Let him try, undiscouraged by inevitable failures; and if at last he succeeds in giving vent to one song which will cheer hardworn hearts at the loom and the forge, or wake one pauper's heart with the hope that his children are destined not to die as he died, or recall, amid Canadian forests or Australian sheep-walks, one thrill of love for the old country, and her liberties, and her laws, and her religion, to the settler's heart;- let that man know that he has earned a higher place among the spirits of the wise and good, by doing, in spite of the unpleasantness of self-denial, the duty which lay nearest him, than if he had outrivalled Goëthe on his own classic ground, and made all the cultivated and the comfortable of the earth desert, for the exquisite creations of his fancy, Faust, and Tasso, and Iphigenie. ART. VI.- The Works of John Owen, D.D. Edited by the Rev.
WILLIAM H. GOOLD, Edinburgh. Vols. 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 14, (to be completed in Fifteen Volumes.) London and Edinburgh. 1850-51.
Two hundred years ago the Puritan dwelt in Oxford; but, before his arrival, both Cavalier and Roundhead soldiers had encamped in its Colleges. Sad was the trace of their sojourn. From the dining-halls the silver tankards had vanished, and the golden candlesticks of the cathedral lay buried in a neighbouring field. Stained windows were smashed, and the shrines of Bernard and Frideswide lay open to the storm. And whilst the heads of marble apostles, mingling with cannon-balls and founders' coffins, formed a melancholy rubbish in many a corner, straw heaps on the pavement and staples in the wall, reminded the spectator that it was not long since dragoons had quartered in All-Souls, and horses crunched their oats beneath the tower of St. Mary Magdalene.
However, matters again are mending. Broken windows are repaired; lost revenues are recovered; and the sons of Crispin have evacuated chambers once more consecrated to syntax and the syllogism. Through these spacious courts we recognise the progress of the man who has accomplished the arduous restoration. Tall, and in the prime of life, with cocked-hat and powdered hair, with lawn tops to his morocco boots, and with ribbons luxuriant at his knee, there is nothing to mark the Puritan,—whilst in his easy unembarrassed movements and kindly-assuring air, there is all which bespeaks the gentleman : but, were it not for the reverences of obsequious beadles and the recognitions of respectful students, you would scarce surmise the academic dignitary. That old-fashioned divine,—his square cap and ruff surmounting the doctor's gown,— with whom he shakes hands so cordially, is a Royalist and Prelatist, but withal the Hebrew Professor, and the most famous Orientalist in England, Dr. Edward Pocock. From his little parish of Childry, where he passes for “no Latiner,” and is little prized, he has come up to deliver his Arabic lecture, and collate some Syriac manuscript, and observe the progress of the fig-tree which he fetched from the Levant; and he feels not a little beholden to the Vice-Chancellor, who, when the Parliamentary triers had pronounced him incompetent, interfered and retained him in his living. Passing the gate of Wadham, he meets the upbreaking of a little conventicle. That no treason has been transacting, nor any dangerous doctrine propounded, the guardian of the University has ample assurance in the presence of his very good friends, Dr. Wallis the Savilian