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"Hermann and Dorothea" is a charming work, full of profound and simple wisdom, and of clear and sweet descriptive power; but in reading it we are somehow made to think much more of the skilful author than of the hero and heroine. The warmth is always of the fancy, never of the heart.

Judging from Mr. Longfellow's works, "The Golden Legend,” "Evangeline," and his miscellaneous verses, we feel pretty well convinced that his ideal of a great poet is Goethe, and that the poems of Goethe that we have named are his favourite models. If so, he has perfectly succeeded in copying many of their faults, though he has seldom attained to their merits of admirable finish and most delicate sensual perception.

We have space to notice, in detail, only a few minor pieces of Mr. Longfellow's, together with his best known poem, "Evangeline," which would certainly have been a notable work had "Hermann and Dorothea" never been written.

"Evangeline" is evidently an ambitious work, and its great popularity has perhaps persuaded Mr. Longfellow that he has succeeded in his attempt to write a great poem. We have, however, to bring against it a few complaints which will probably smite Mr. Longfellow's artistical conscience with a sense of their truth; for we have much respect for this gentleman's understanding, although we decidedly dissent from the public voice, which would place him, we sincerely believe, against his own cool estimate of himself, in the rank of the great abiding poets. As "Evangeline" is commonly, perhaps justly, regarded as being, on the whole, the most notable work in verse hitherto produced by an American, we shall make a somewhat detailed inquiry into its merits and demerits. The subject is decidedly a fine one, and was probably fixed upon by Mr. Longfellow in consequence of the outcry which had been raised by critics in England and America for a poem that should be truly American in subject and scenery. The historical foundations of the poem are these facts:In 1713, before Great Britain had established her great colonial empire in North America, Acadia, the province now called Nova Scotia, was ceded to her by France. The inhabitants, who seem to have been little studied throughout the whole transaction, were soon induced to swear allegiance to their new masters, upon the sole condition that they should be exempt from bearing arms against either the French or Indians, in defence of the province; the former being, as it were, their countrymen, and the latter connected with them by alliances and by the private bonds of friendship. The English Government objected to this condition, but though some alteration was intended to be made no new oath was administered, and the old oath, therefore, remained valid. Before the termination of the "war of succession," when

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Acadia was annexed to the British settlements, and the English extended their possessions in that quarter by the capture of Fort Beau Séjour, the Acadians were accused of having forfeited their neutrality by supplying intelligence, provisions, and quarters, to the French and Indians at Beau Séjour. It is by no means certain how far this charge was just. It was, however, followed by a severe chastisement upon the simple-minded Acadians. The punishment was delayed, and any announcement of its nature avoided, till the harvests were gathered in, that the British army might seize on the grain. The villagers were then called, on a particular day, into the church of Grand Pré, to hear the orders of their new governor, the king of England. It was then announced that all the lands, tenements, herds, grain, and other effects, except money and household goods, of the people, were forfeited to the crown, and themselves to be removed to distant colonies. This precaution of distributing the Acadians among English settlers was taken to prevent the possibility of their joining with the French against their new masters, whom they had now so little cause to love. Ships and soldiers were on the spot to execute this abominable decree. The whole number of persons collected together at Grand Pré on this occasion was somewhat under two thousand, and these were hurried on shipboard with the most cruel confusion, and disastrous and life-long separations of child from parent, husband from wife, and lover from lover. A disaster of the last kind furnishes the story. Evangeline is about to be married to Gabriel Lajeunesse. In the hurry of deportation they are separated by hundreds of miles, and have no means of discovering each other's destination. Gabriel takes to the wandering life of a huntsman in prairie and mountain. Evangeline lives on, moving, according to opportunity, from one place to another, in the hope of finding him. At one moment he passes her on the river, but she is sleeping, and does not hear of his having done so till it is too late to overtake him. She does, however, follow him, and is on his track for months and years. Finally, she gives up the search in despair; and in the last scene we find her an old woman, tending the sick in an hospital, to which an old man, Gabriel, is brought to die. They recognise each other, and he expires in trying to pronounce her name.

"Evangeline" is written in hexameters, or at least in lines that are intended to pass for hexameters, for real hexameters are next to impossible in a language like ours, which owes nearly all its capacity for versification to accent, and not to quantity; while, however, true hexameters are almost impossible in English, pseudohexameters, like those of Mr. Clough and Mr. Longfellow, are so easy that they entirely miss the great end of metre, namely,

that of imposing a severe external law upon the otherwise rank exuberance of poetical feeling and expression. Such hexameters are, indeed, nothing more than the revival of the " measured prose" which was thought so much of in the days of our grandmothers, and which chiefly consisted in the recurrence, at intervals, of from fourteen to eighteen syllables, of the monotonous cadence that alone distinguishes Mr. Longfellow's verses from ordinary prose.

We commence our extracts from "Evangeline" with the description of the heroine.

"Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers.

Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the way side;

Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses!

Sweet was her breath as the breath of kine that feed in the meadows.
When in the harvest heat, she bore to the reapers, at noontide,
Flagons of home-brewed ale; ah! fair, in sooth, was the maiden.
Fairer was she on Sunday morn, while the bell from its turret
Sprinkled with holy sounds the air, as the priest with his hyssop
Sprinkles the congregation, and scatters blessings upon them;
Down the long street she passed, with her chaplet of beads and her


Wearing her Norman cap, and her kirtle of blue, and her ear-rings,
Brought in the olden time from France, and since, as an heir-loom,
Handed down from mother to child, through long generations.
But a celestial brightness, a more ethereal beauty,

Shone on her face, and encircled her form, when after confession,
Homeward serenely she walked, with God's benediction upon her.
When she had past, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music."

This damsel had of course many wooers, but

66 Among all who came, young Gabriel only was welcome:
Gabriel Lajeunesse, the son of Basil the blacksmith,
Who was a mighty man in the village, and honoured of all men;
For since the birth of time, throughout all ages and nations,
Has the craft of the smith been held in repute by the people.
Basil was Benedict's friend. Their children, from earliest childhood,
Grew up together as brother and sister; and Father Felician,
Priest and pedagogue both in the village, had taught them their letters
Out of the selfsame book, with the hymns of the Church and the

plain song.

But when the hymn was sung, and the daily lesson completed,
Swiftly they hurried away to the forge of Basil the blacksmith.
There, at the door, they stood with wondering eyes, to behold him
Take in his leathern lap the hoof of the horse as a plaything,
Nailing the shoe in its place; while near him the tire of the cart-wheel
Lay like a fiery snake, curled round in a circle of cinders.
Oft in Autumnal eves, when without in the gathering darkness,

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Extracts from "Evangeline."


Bursting with light seemed the smithy, through every cranny and


Warm by the forge within, they watched the labouring bellows,
And as its panting ceased, and the sparks expired in the ashes,
Merrily laughed, and said they were nuns going into the chapel."

The evening of the lover's formal betrothal is ushered in by some extremely pleasing description,—

"Day with its burden and heat had departed, and twilight descending, Brought back the evening star to the sky, and the herds to the home


Pawing the ground they came, and resting their necks on each other, And with their nostrils distended, inhaling the freshness of evening. Foremost, bearing the bell, Evangeline's beautiful heifer,

Proud of her snow-white hide, and the ribbon that waved from her collar,

Quietly paced, and slow, as if conscious of human affection.

Then came the shepherd back with his bleating flocks from the seaside,

Where was their favourite pasture. Behind them followed the watchdog,

Patient, full of importance, and grand in the pride of his instinct,
Walking from side to side with a lordly air, and superbly
Waving his bushy tail, and urging forward the stragglers."

The scenery of village, forest, and prairie, are given with breadth and distinctness enough to please, though with none of that more than scientific accuracy of observation and description which is characteristic of the great poet. The author is profuse in illustrations, which, although they are often striking, are seldom harmonious, or in keeping with the feeling of the passage into which they are introduced. The following lines afford one out of scores of examples which we could bring forward to prove the fault in question:

"In doors, warm by the wide-mouth'd fire-place, idly the farmer Sat in his elbow-chair, and watched how the flame and the smoke


Struggled together, like foes in a burning city. Behind him,
Nodding and mocking along the wall, with gestures fantastic,
Darted his own huge shadow, and vanished away into darkness.
Faces clumsily carved in oak, on the back of his arm-chair,
Laughed in the flickering light; and the pewter plates on the dresser
Caught and reflected the flame, as shields of armies the sunshine!"

Here is a piece of singularly good description quite ruined, as far as regards unity of feeling, by the last half-line. What in the world have "shields of armies" to do with a farmer's cosy kitchen in Acadia? a place which probably never saw a soldier till the day upon which a small detachment arrived to put an end to the quiet little commonwealth which had established

itself there. Mr. Longfellow seems to think that an illustration from the Bible will make up in sacredness for any degree of inaptitude. The following are a few instances of this mistake. Evangeline was looking at the evening sky,—

"And as she gazed from the window, she saw serenely the moon pass Forth from the folds of a cloud, and one star followed her footsteps, As out of Abraham's tent young Ishmael wandered with Hagar!” Again, when Evangeline, on learning that her lover passed her on the river while she was sleeping, sets out with the blacksmith in pursuit of him; the "priest," by way, we suppose, of keeping up his sacerdotal character, bids Basil farewell, exclaiming,

"See that you bring back the prodigal son from his fasting and famine, And, too, the foolish virgin, who slept when the bridegroom was coming."

Now there is nothing whatever in Gabriel's behaviour or position to assimilate him to "the prodigal son;" and the inaptness of the allusion in the second line is only surpassed by its irreverence. At another time the villagers were assembled on the beach, waiting for the embarkation of themselves and their goods; and among them wandered the faithful priest, consoling, and blessing, and cheering,

"Like unto shipwrecked Paul on Melita's desolate sea-strand." But not more like unto Paul on that occasion than any other religious person, walking on any other sea-coast, and under any circumstances whatever, would have been. In another place, "with the winds of September Wrestled the trees of the forest, as Jacob of old with the angel."

Our last example of this painfully mistaken kind of illustration is from the death-bed of Gabriel,—

"Hot and red on his lips still burned the flush of the fever, As if life, like the Hebrew, with blood had besprinkled the portals, That the angel of death might see the sign, and pass over." This, if it can be called an illustration at all, is an illustration "by contraries," seing that, in this instance, the angel of death did not pass over, and that the flushed lips were a sign rather of Gabriel's being a fit victim for the destroyer, than one who was free from his power. Another effect of Mr. Longfellow's want of true poetical sincerity is seen in a class of similes which, by the conspicuous position given to them, are evidently favourites with him, but which seem to us to be conceits often of scarcely a first-rate album rank. The stars, for example, are called "the forget-me-nots of the angels."

Mr. Longfellow, we believe, makes no secret of his being a

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