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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3


page 121


Last month we quoted and criticised some of Mr W. R. Wills's verse. A little piece, entitled « Thou Knowest, » published since our paragraph appeared, is the best we have yet seen from his pen. It consists of four stanzas, of which we quote the third and fourth:

I see vice growing in the lands;
I know sin lurks in court and den;
I see chains wrought by jewelled hands,
To bind the thoughts and souls of men;
I know our leaders, to be just,
Must be divine—that cannot be;
But, for our manhood, let us trust
That they may lead and rule for Thee.
Perchance their best is done, to high and lowest,
And we may judge them wrong—Thou knowest!
I hear the jest, I see the sneer,
When one would dare to shame the wrong;
But be it far, or be it near,
For all time Right shall be my song.
Perchance my harp is but a toy,
And out of tune—some broken string
Makes discord, where it should be joy,
As with Earth's beauties it might ring;
But be I great, or of Thy sons the lowest,
And if I sing aright—Thou knowest!

A poet who can write verses like this should keep his weaker productions out of sight.

Two more numbers of the Dominion Illustrated, June and July, have come to hand, and the process illustrations are charming as ever. The literary matter, too, is quite in keeping, and the criticisms on new books are keen and sound. An article on « the Sonnet, » with illustrative examples, is by a lover of that difficult form of verse. Most students of literature will agree with him that Wordsworth's sonnet, « The world is too much with us, » is one of the finest ever written. As a specimen of Canadian work in this field we find the following example on « Hope, » from John Reade of Montreal, « whose muse is true, and whose poems have a classical finish all their own »:—

She touched me in my sorrow: I awoke;
Her kind hands broke the fetters of my grief;
The light of smiles shone round me as she spoke:
« I come, my friend, to bring thee sweet relief.
Of those that minister, I am the chief
To man's sick heart; I made the tears of Eve
Bright with the hues of heaven, when loth to leave
The joys her disobedience made so brief.
I sailed with Noah o'er the buried earth,
I sat with Hagar by the new-found well,
I solaced Joseph in his lonely cell,
I filled sad David's soul with songs of mirth. »
Much more she whisper'd, till my heart grew bright,
And sorrow vanished, as at dawn, the night.

Messrs John Haddon & Co. are the London agents for this excellent paper.

The fourth number of Zealandia is the best yet issued, though still cumbered by much that is ephemeral and trivial. The fault lies in the original plan, which overlooked the distinction that should exist between a newspaper and a literary magazine. Editorial advertisements no longer appear in the text, and the answers to correspondents might also with advantage be relegated to the fly-leaves; for it is surely no concern of the general reader if Q's verses are unsuitable, or X's story is declined with thanks. « The Mark of Cain » increases in interest; and in no way violates probability. There is originality in the plot, and careful development as the narrative proceeds. The synopsis of previous chapters has been dropped. Mr R. E. Ellis, the editor of the poetry department, has « a chat about verse-making. » All his illustrations are derived from such old-world authors as Milton, Tennyson, Browning, and Macaulay. He will surely have some indignant correspondent down upon him for ignoring local talent. Two little poetic trifles— « The Songs of Queen Silence » by S. C. Johnston, and « The Emigrant's Lament, » by T. Denniston, possess the true ring. The latter is a simple ballad, some of the stanzas having a quaint echo of the style of a hundred years ago. Mr Johnson's is a more highly-finished piece, in eleven-syllabled triplets; it is fancifully paradoxical, and the only jarring line is one where the incongruous word « quidnuncs » is introduced. The following specimen will illustrate Mr Johnson's style:

The far-away breath of an unwhispered sigh—
The wings of a cloud as it soareth on high—
The flit of a leaf as it falleth to die—
The intertwined boughs with their gentle caress,
Like lingering souls in Love's great wilderness,
Where never intruder their secret can guess—
These, these are the strings of Queen Silence's lute.
The dulcet refrain from her musical flute,
The tones of the soul when her sweet lips are mute.

Among the padding is a three-line conundrum headed « Self. » The writer may have meant something when he wrote « our selfest part is God. » « The Bay of Plenty, » by Mr E. A. Haggen, now of Woodville, is a well-written contribution, historical and descriptive. « The Man with Two Wives » is a short story, and is worth reading, which is more than can be said of the stories in former numbers. More than three closely-printed pages are devoted to a laborious review of a worse than worthless « shocker » by the author of the « Hansom Cab. » Miss E. M. Bourke writes forcibly and well in support of female suffrage, though she has no new arguments to adduce. « At present, » she says, « it is an absurd anomaly that the most ignorant youth or the most idle tramp that walks our land should have a direct interest in the government of the country, while the woman of culture, intelligence, and experience must be content with the part of an onlooker while questions of vital importance to her are settled without reference to her opinions. » The three pages of « Corner Cobweb » are principally occupied with the most agonizing strainings after comicality. The « jokes » would be ruthlessly thrown into the waste-basket of any colonial newspaper. Here is a fair specimen—mercifully short: « 'Bel-low the fire, blacksmith,' as the bull said to the farrier. » When such as this finds insertion, one wonders what the rejected contributions can be! A correspondent writing on « Federation and the State » has dumped down a load of polysyllables that Micawber might envy. He is of opinion that Sir Robert Stout's recent essay on the State « displays the beauty of using wide reading and erudite thinking as a lens to focus tangential thought to a point, » and proceeds to supplement the essay by « a deduction from reasonings substantiated by collateral testimony. » We wade through a page of Baboo-English to find that a « national spirit » would treat England as « an alien; » yet the Old Country is « our revered parent. » « Provincialism » is the « prime factor for the production of a hygeian whole. » ( « Hygeian » is good.) As a matter of fact the remains of old provincialism are now the greatest obstacles to national unity. He asks « Why is colonial literature, the formative power of true colonialism, called an abortion? » Let him read his own article, and then ask his own conscience!

Life-Lore for August is an interesting number, and beautifully illustrated. The editor, however, was ill-advised in reproducing, in a professedly scientific paper, the London Lord Mayor's stupid and ill-natured attack on the Anti-Vaccination Society. It is somewhat ridiculous to find a civic functionary speaking ex cathedrâ, and with the Infallibility attaching to such utterances, ridiculing the science of men like Garth Wilkinson and the editors of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

One of the most charming and graceful of recent poems is Mr Edwin Arnold's ode « To a Pair of Slippers, » published last year in the Universal Review, and fitly and profusely illustrated by J. Bernard Partridge. There is, however, a bit of somewhat doubtful local coloring:

Look! It was flood-time in valley of Nile,
Or a very wet day in the Delta, dear!
When your gilded shoes tripped their latest mile—
The mud on the soles renders that fact clear.

And the artist represents the lady walking on a muddy plain, an attendant holding a large umbrella over her head, the landscape veiled in a driving shower. How is this for « rainless Egypt » ?

Lord Tennyson completed his eightieth year on the 6th August. The following congratulatory sonnet, by the Rev. H. D. Rawnsley, appears in Macmillan, and though the imagery becomes somewhat confused in the eighth line, it is a fine piece of work:

The fourscore years that blanch the heads of men
Touch not immortals, and we bring to-day
No flower to twine with laurel and with bay;
Seeing the spring is with thee now, as when
Above the wold and marsh and mellowing fen
Thy song bade England listen. Powers decay,
Hands fail, eyes dim, tongues scarce their will can say,
But still Heaven's fire burns bright within thy pen.
O singer of the knightly days of old!
O ringer of the knell to lust and hate!
O bringer of new hope from memory's shrine!
When God doth set in Heaven thy harp of gold,
The souls that made this generation great
Shall own the voice that help'd their hearts was thine.

Punch has also published a good sonnet on the same theme; but as everyone reads Punch, it would be superfluous to quote it. Lewis Morris has written a congratulatory ode, in which occurs the following stanza:

Master and seer, stay yet, for there is none
Worthy to take thy place to-day, or wear
The laurel when thy singing-days are done.
As yet the halls of song are mute and bare,
Nor voice melodious wakes the tuneless air,
Save some weak faltering accents faintly heard.
Stay with us; 'neath thy spell the world grows fair,
Our hearts revive, our inmost souls are stirred,
And ail our English race awaits thy latest word!

One more sonnet. Mr Swinburne is a master of invective; but we doubt if ever he discharged a fiercer flash of forked lightning than the following, suggested by a certain historic Whitsuntide celebration this year in the Eternal City:

Cover thine eyes and weep, O child of hell,
Grey spouse of Satan, Church of name abhorred.
Weep, withered harlot, with thy weeping lord,
Now none will buy the heaven thou hast to sell
At price of prostituted souls, and swell
Thy loveless list of lovers. Fire and sword
No more are thine: the steel, the wheel, the cord,
The flames that rose round living limbs, and fell
In lifeless ash and ember, now no more
Approve thee godlike. Rome, redeemed at last
From all the red pollution of thy past,
Acclaims the grave bright face that smiled of yore
Even on the fire that caught it round and clomb
To cast its ashes on the face of Rome.

« The Irish Question: Union or Dismemberment, » is the title of a shilling pamphlet published in Auckland by Mr H. B. Sealy, formerly Resident Magistrate at Napier. Mr Sealy examins five different systems of « home rule » advocated by the Irish party, and comes to the conclusion that they have but one point in common—the aim at complete in-page 122dependence. Mr Sealy gives a brief outline of the past history of Ireland; a sketch of Mr Gladstone's political career; and a chapter on the Church of Rome in its political aspect as a promoter and an organizer of agitation. The book is ably written, and is a valuable contribution to the popular literature on the subject. Its numerous extracts are all properly authenticated; it affords a proof, if any were needed, of the means at the disposal of colonists to come to an intelligent conclusion on the subject; and it leads one to wonder at the impertinence of either land leaguers or primrose leaguers in sending uninvited and interested delegates to influence public opinion in this part of the world.

The many friends of the late Mr R. A. Proctor in the colonies will be interested to know that it is in contemplation to publish, in the interests of his widow and family, a cheap colonial edition of his smaller works. It should have a very large sale.

One of the commonest of old Bibles is the Genevan or « Breeches » Bible. About one edition a year appeared during the reign of Elizabeth. Some possessors entertain a very exaggerated idea of the value of these books. A fine perfect copy may be worth two guineas—an imperfect one, five shillings.

A copy of the rare first edition of Paradise Lost was lately sold at auction in London for £1669 13s 10d!