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MULCHINOCK'S POEMS. *

It is pre

In the early days of criticism it was rare ! pursuit ; of facility—but a facility that dethat any book could pass through one edi- feats itself, and defrauds its own coinage of tion without being made the text of a com- its legible and current stamp. mentary or a philippic, and authors felt eminently representative of the largest and themselves insulted if their works, which the most unproductive school of imitative poetry common people admired or censured after of the present day. And if it claim to be their own untaught fashion, were not at of no extraordinary pretensions, and if in least noticed by the higher and more privi- reality it is neither powerful nor durable, it leged oracles of letters. But as publishers may be well to pause over it for a moment, lists expanded, the mass of reviews became as a profitable lesson for our myriad versibriefer and more superficial, passing from the fiers, whose number is surely not warranted ornate pages of quarterlies to the hurried by any special increase of the poetic elecolumns of the newspaper, and dictated quite ment amongst us. as often by personal favor or dislike as by In common with most men, we have no literary taste, until now it is quite impos- very friendly feelings toward imitation of sible to give a fair portion of impartial time any kind in literature; but for that imitation and type to any but strongly-marked and of which Mr. Mulchinock’s verses may be representative specimens of current litera- taken as an exponent, we have a peculiar ture. From decisions thus arrived at, the distaste. We have little fault to find with public may extend their opinions as little or a young and inexperienced writer, who, for as widely as they please, and authors take the purpose of perfecting himself in the extheir cue with a readiness proportioned to ternals of poetry, gives his days and nights their acquiescence in critical judgment. And to that most melodious of versifiers, Pope, if an author once thought himself slighted since his is almost a necessary task, and one if he was overlooked, he should now con- from which, in these days of incorrect rhythm, sider himself fortunate if sufficiently repre- it were better no aspirant for poetic laurels sentative of good or bad to be marked out should be exempt. But we question if the by reviewers, for surely that“ bad eminence" public, for whom we would be mouthpiece, which is ever made the object of attack is have any such leniency for the writer who better than an unmolested because unno- adopts the phrases which original and poetic ticed mediocrity. There is always hope for minds have created and immortalized, and men or books whose faults are so conspic- spreads them over his own pages, as easy uous that they are singled out for special and current subterfuges behind which to animadversion.

hide his own dearth of sentiment and poetiMr. Mulchinock's poetry is representative, cal power. There is an affectation of poetibut not of originality. It is representative cal affinity about this, which is as specious as were the verses of Hoole and other close as it is insincere, and which, in addition to imitators of the rhythmical beauty of Pope; its own unworthiness, is apt to detract from or as the towering fustian of Lee and Dryden the credit of the genuine poet, whose pecuwhen they essayed to overtop their masters, liar terms of expression are thus subjected the early English dramatists. It is repre- to the imputation of claptrap and unmeansentative of ambition-but of unwarranted ingness. Even beyond the absurdities of growth ; of emulation—but emulation of certain small philosophers, who have adopted such a nature that it uses imitated gesture the esoteric and mystical expressions of conand phrase to accomplish the object of its tinental thinkers as a clothing for their own

* The Ballads and Songs of William Pembroke Mulchinock. New-York: T. W. Strong & Co, No. 98 Nassau street.

over the superior, which it is the peculiar tined to an inferior condition, through which quality of all intellectual exercises to subdue only can he rise into a better—is elevated, and to correct. These find an aliment in by his reverence and fidelity, into a being the obvious nature which renders them indif-whom we reward not less with love than ferent to, and keeps them ignorant of the with food and raiment. To the catholic prurient appetites of a morbid mood. The eye of art, high and humble are but relative aspects of nature and man are equally grate- dependencies, mutual in position, though ful to the faith which looks confidingly to differing in height and aspect. The beautiall things under the genial influence of a hope ful and the obscure, the bright and the dark, that takes its birth in the affections, and are but natural foils of each other—in other believes chiefly because it loves. And it is words, parts of a system, in which variety is precisely such a confiding nature which is not simply a proof of the boundless resources the soul and very secret of success in art. of the Creator, but of his sense, also, of what To its eye, nothing is absolutely unseemly, is essential to the proper exercise, the relief though all demands improvement, in the and the gratification of the soul. The phinatural aspects of earth and man. The losophy which art teaches, is the faith with desert is no desert, spread out and sleeping which youth begins ; a faith which youth beneath the broad, blue canopy of heaven. is but too apt to forget, in the more earthy The sea is no terror, reposing in its delicious cares of manhood; but which it is the moonlight. The forest is no region of gloom becoming vocation of art, as tributary to and exile, but one rather of refuge and of religion, still to re-inspire. It is in this way shade, when the world threatens and the that art is always young and original. Every burning sun prevails. It is by an innate generation discovers in her a new aspect. property that art is enabled to crown nature Novel forms, new guises, declare for her with an aspect of her own ;-nor inanimate supremacy over the monotonous and tamely nature only. The wild beast is stilled by, recurring aspects of ordinary time. It is and crouches beneath, a look; the reptile because heedless of this peculiar virtue in is spelled by a sound, and uncoils himself

, the constitution of this catholic Muse, that unharming, from his victim. And man him- we find the critic of hackneyed judgment, self—the savage man! He is savage, it grown too subservient to the customary to may be, but not necessarily foul or beastly appreciate the fresh, resenting as a vice the Wild, but why vicious, unless you make, or assumption of new phases in the very Genius suffer him to remain so? It is in your own which he has worshipped under another form. hands to subject him to holier and happier He seems unwilling to believe that there laws, if you will only so far sympathize with should be any longer a novelty in art, when his inferior nature, as to show him the path- there is no longer a freshness in his own way to a better promise. The serf-des- | nature.

MULCHINOCK'S POEMS.*

In the early days of criticism it was rare ! pursuit ; of facility—but a facility that dethat any book could pass through one edi- feats itself

, and defrauds its own coinage of tion without being made the text of a com- its legible and current stamp. It is prementary or a philippic, and authors felt eminently representative of the largest and themselves insulted if their works, which the most unproductive school of imitative poetry common people admired or censured after of the present day. And if it claim to be their own untaught fashion, were not at of no extraordinary pretensions, and if in least noticed by the higher and more privi- reality it is neither powerful nor durable, it leged oracles of letters. But as publishers' may be well to pause over it for a moment, lists expanded, the mass of reviews became as a profitable lesson for our myriad versibriefer and more superficial, passing from the fiers, whose number is surely not warranted ornate pages of quarterlies to the hurried by any special increase of the poetic elecolumns of the newspaper, and dictated quite ment amongst us. as often by personal favor or dislike as by In common with most men, we have no literary taste, until now it is quite impos- very friendly feelings toward imitation of sible to give a fair portion of impartial time any kind in literature; but for that imitation and type to any but strongly-marked and of which Mr. Mulchinock's verses may be representative specimens of current litera- taken as an exponent, we have a peculiar ture. From decisions thus arrived at, the distaste. We have little fault to find with public may extend their opinions as little or a young and inexperienced writer, who, for as widely as they please, and authors take the purpose of perfecting himself in the extheir cue with a readiness proportioned to ternals of poetry, gives his days and nights their acquiescence in critical judgment. And to that most melodious of versifiers, Pope, if an author once thought himself slighted since his is almost a necessary task, and one if he was overlooked, he should now con- from which,in these days of incorrect rhythm, sider himself fortunate if sufficiently repre- it were better no aspirant for poetic laurels sentative of good or bad to be marked out should be exempt. But we question if the by reviewers, for surely that “ bad eminence” public, for whom we would be mouthpiece, which is ever made the object of attack is have any such leniency for the writer who better than an unmolested because unno- adopts the phrases which original and poetic ticed mediocrity. There is always hope for minds have created and immortalized, and men or books whose faults are so conspic- spreads them over his own pages, as easy uous that they are singled out for special and current subterfuges behind which to animadversion.

hide his own dearth of sentiment and poetiMr. Mulchinock's poetry is representative, cal power. There is an affectation of poetibut not of originality. It is representative cal affinity about this, which is as specious as were the verses of Hoole and other close as it is insincere, and which, in addition to imitators of the rhythmical beauty of Pope; its own unworthiness, is apt to detract from or as the towering fustian of Lee and Dryden the credit of the genuine poet, whose pecuwhen they essayed to overtop threir masters, liar terms of expression are thus subjected the early English dramatists. It is repre- to the imputation of claptrap and unmeansentative of ambition—but of unwarranted ingness. Even beyond the absurdities of growth ; of emulation—but emulation of certain small philosophers, who have adopted such a nature that it uses imitated gesture the esoteric and mystical expressions of conand phrase to accomplish the object of its tinental thinkers as a clothing for their own

* The Ballads and Songs of William Pembroke Mulchinock. New-York: T. W. Strong & Co., No. 98 Nassau street.

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bald and commonplace sentiments, do we easy complacency with which they are led rank in point of dishonesty and extravagance off by the imitators of these poets, and prethe effusions of that school of versifiers who eminently Mr. Mulchinock, is an attack upon have complacently taken the phrases of con- our forbearance and an affront to our notions temporary poets as their own, and used them of good sense and good poetry. What, for as capital on which to build a wide and profit- instance, can we think of such rhymings able reputation.

as the following ?It is fortunate for the true poet that the imitative versifier always overreaches him

Blending with the bright Ideal the sad Actual

and Real, self. The peculiar turns of phraseology, Till its chords shall seem to be all touched and the rhythmical dress and posturing, and the struck by viewless fingers artistic connections of sentiment, which, with Of weird spirits in the air.” as little modification as possible, the imitator

"Overlong the false Ideal would make his own, are rarely to be trans- Kept us on a weary chase ; ferred so as to preserve their original beauty, We would know not now the Real, even by the most skilful hands; and, degene

If we met it face to face." rating into mannerism by being forced upon “ In dreams she comes to me, to cherish and woo us too often, at last entirely lose their harmony and effect. It too frequently happens

The slumber is pleasure, the waking is woe, that an author who has charmed us by

Where fades the Ideal, when triumphs the Real;

I pine for young Alice of Ballinasloe.” original felicities of manner is so far carried away by success and self-praise as to give us “Oh! thou bright and blest Ideal,

Radiant vision of my dreams, too many of them in his subsequent works.

Lighting up the darksome Real But, however well we may endure the repe

With your rainbow-tinted gleams !” tition of the cloying sweetness, we have no patience for the distasteful and dispropor- Are they not simply an affectation of tionate dose of mannerism which the forth- high sentiment where there is no senticoming imitator would compel us to swallow. ment at all, and an irreverent handling of And we resent the attempted infliction with words which were never meant to be trifled as much heartiness as we would repel the with ? It requires no very great amount impertinences of a bystander, who had taken of skill to frame stanzas that shall contain upon himself to insult us from beholding these words; they are remarkably docile our forbearance under the momentary ca- in couples; and there is not a clever lad of prices of a friend.

fifteen who could not string them together Some time ago we had marked out certain with as much of the bright” and “ blest” phrases on the pages of two of our special and “darksome" as they are garnished with favoites, Tennyson and Poe, and had ven- by Mr. Mulchinock. And we do not know tured to predict in a quiet way, that the imita- why we should be called upon to admire so tors of these admirable poets would betray cheap and easy a performance—what any themselves by fastening on these peculiarities, of us could do equally well at any time. and repeating them to us ad nauseam. Two We are sorry to see Mr. Mulchinock dewords particularly had attracted our atten- pending so much for effect on the words tion as being very open to abuse, and very “Past," " Present,” and “Future," with their difficult to be used at all, except by minds of attendant adjectives, which every reader's exquisite perceptions; and indeed they had memory will readily suggest to him. What been so bandied about by shallow mystics, has just been said about the Ideal and the that men who were equal to an appreciation Real will apply to these much-abused words. of their meaning would be very cautious It requires a delicacy of taste amounting how they employed them. These words almost to genius to avoid using them in just are the Real and the Ideal; and surely no such connections as those in which they are one will say that they are to be played with employed by the mob of ordinary writers by children, or harped on in vacant hours, and speakers when they would be thought like the strings of an idle instrument. Ten- learned, sublime, and prophetic. To talk nyson and Poe had been sufficiently familiar about these three conditions of Time is to with them for our taste, and had used them run the risk of talking commonplace ambiquite enough for producing effect; but the tiously. Mr. Mulchinock has taken the risk, and we think he has been unlucky—if we | with trifling with poetic terms, when we may judge from verses like these spoken by often find him appropriating with equal Paul Flemming, the “pale" student:- recklessness the more peculiar property of

other poets. " Then like music spake he-Mary, by my love

Coleridge tells us of that ne'er can vary,

“A noise as of a hidden brook By mine eyes so wan and weary, weary watch

In the leafy month of June.” ing for thy presence, Oh, thou beautifully fair ;

This therefore is Coleridge's, and no one "By the Past whose gloom is o'er me ; by the else has any right to it. But Mr. MulchiFuture dark before me;

nock does not agree with us. By virtue of By the loved dead who implore me in sweet his poetic calling he has a right to it, and whispers from the grave-yard,

proceeds to exercise his prerogative as folTo lie down and slumber there."

lows: Or these :

“Sweeter than the streamlet rushing amid spring

flowers in their flushing In the kingdom of the Worker he shall have the highest place

Came the song of love outgushing from the lips ko hath dipt into the Future living far beyond In the leafy month of June.”

of the pale student his race: “Who hath shown his mission God-like by the

Very awkwardly done. But it requires reaches of his eye,

talent to plagiarize well. Glinting over Past and Present, lighting dim Tennyson's Locksley Hall contains this Futurity."

beautiful couplet : Part of this reminds us very forcibly of a “ Love took up the harp of Life and smote on all couplet in Tennyson's Locksley Hall

its chords with might,

Smote the chord of self, that trembling passed in "For I dipt into the Future far as human eye could

music out of sight." see, Saw the Vision of the world and all the wonder

In Mr. Mulchinock's Chant for Toilers this that would be."

is very coolly reproduced :Such coincidences, however, are common “From the chord of self-evoking music, wild but with Mr. Mulchinock. We

may
notice one

sweet to hear, or two others before we part company.

Fraught with mystic strange revealings to the

earnest thinker's ear." Here is a stanza quite in the prophetic style of Mævius and Bavius. It is addressed We hardly know what to style the folto “Men of Genius" :

lowing, but it certainly shows a great facility

of adaptation, if nothing more. The original Though to all your toil incessant Of the muscle and the mind,

is from Locksley Hall:Ye shall feel and find the Present

“Many a morning in the moorland did we hear In its sluggish dulness blind;

the copses ring, In the Future shall the story

And her whispers thronged my pulses with the
Sung at every happy hearth,

fulness of the spring.
Tell how for man's lasting glory
Heaven's angels toiled on earth.”

“Many an evening by the waters did we watch the

stately ships, We consider this disparagement of the And our spirits rushed together at the touching times in which one lives an affectation, and

of the lips." unworthy a liberal mind. And in all candor Mr. Mulchinock thus adapts it:we must say we find far too much of it in “Many a morning by the waters of the far reMr. Mulchinock. But of this hereafter.

sounding sea, We have noticed many other instances of Have I walked in meditation, all my spirit fancy

free. this commonplace and unmeaning trifling with suggestive phrases which it is hardly “ Many a morning in the forest ere the birds began necessary to quote for the

purpose
of show-

to sing, ing that Mr. Mulchinock has brought noth

Have I sung of Freedom's advent, harping on the

bounding string.” ing more out of them than certain rhymes and cadences for which he has mainly em- But enough of mere verbal criticism; of ployed them. We shall not be accused of citations of what it is charity to style imitreating him unfairly in thuse charging him tations, which any one of moderate acquaint

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