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tion to ignore them altogether. For example, I have heard more than one scholar question the necessity for Australian belles-lettres. Why, they have asked, should we foster a new and immature growth when we have the magnificent literary possessions of the old country at hand ? By this, they infer an intention on our part to create a literature utterly independent of what is justly a source of pride to Englishmen ; but we have no such purpose in our heads.
What colonial men of letters are really anxious to do ought to be obvious enough. They look upon the grand results of British genius with as much exalted joy as their fathers did ; but, at the same time, they naturally desire to take advantage of the novel elements by which they are surrounded, and to gather from these (speaking figuratively) fresh sap for the ancient stock. Another objection set up by our learned Laodiceans is that Australian literati have not come forward with anything to entitle them to the encouragement which they look for. The answer is —what chance have they had to do so ? But granting, for the sake of argument, that the opportunity has been afforded them ; and that the results before us show all that they can produce, there is still sufficient argument for their vindication. Most things have a poor and pale beginning: as, for instance, the faint dawn is for ever the precursor of the strong, brilliant noon. To put it another way, the song of the skylark is not the less attractive because it is without the sublimity of sound contained in the organ anthem; and though we cannot find in a mountain rill the majesty of mighty rivers, it has still a beauty, and music, and sweetness of its own. There is no need to go on in this strain. In the face of all the chilling neglect of which I have spokenin the teeth of poverty hardly surpassed by that of Johnson and Savage in their Grub-street days, some noble prose writers have held their own in Australia ; and, more than once, there have been heard amongst us breaths from that divine Spirit of Song whose grander gleamings and pulses are to be found in the poetry of men like Byron and Shelley, and whose habitation is not one small island, but the universe.
WAS in the old Conscription days,
When War's recruiting drum was beating
And stern Bellona tuned her lays To wives' and children's cries, entreating
That through the crowd passed young Pierre, Forth from the Mairie's columned entry,
His face all fire, his brow all care-
Bordered with naked leafless elms,
(As spurning grief that overwhelms) He traversed faubourg, place and lane,
The level paths, the rising ridges ; Nor paused until he reached the Seine,
Where Henri Quartre* near the bridge is. There halting--it was growing dark
He peered across the snow-strewn spaces To seek a well-known love-lit spark
His Pharos—(where a gentle face is). But, seeing nought, he turned again,
Still sadly trudging through the snow Until he reached the Madelaine,
And there—hard by—a window-pane Lit with an honest glow.
Forth at his knock his sister came,
And one whose brow was all aflame,
This was his father, old and gray,
He sternly waved the girl away, Stabbed by her merry, artless prattle.
Then leading listless young Pierre,
He laid him in an antique chair,
“Pierre !” said he, “My son, go forth, 'Though it be sore thus soon to sunder ;
* The statue of Henri Quatre on the Pont Neuf.
“If I bequeath my greatest worth “ In thee to France, no man can wonder.
“ And as a soldier needs a sword, A noble weapon I'll bestow !
Regarding this one little word : “ It was Napoleon's long ago.
" This now shrunk hip He girt it on " Long since. (His service turned me white!)
“ This sword I wore at Ascalon; “ Unchangëd still—its blade is bright,
“Save one red speck above the hilt. • Come, soldier boy ! and see it here,
“Where the Imperial cipher 's gilt. "Son ! ’t was thy mother's parting tear !
The old man viewed the gleaming blade, Ere he returned it to its sheath,
With all the grace of past parade ; Then hung it up his spurs beneath.
" Pierre !” he cried, in that clear tone That once so thrilled the rank and file,
“Pierre !-Quick !---March! I'd be alone, “ And commune with myself awhile."
They sate, and vainly strove awhile
To pass the time with misplaced laughter ; And all that well-intended guile
That veils a grief to follow after. The mother had no heart to chide
Pierre's Marie-for their mutual losses Would make her seem a widowed bride
To share with her, war's bitter crossesPierre sat silent by the fire,
His fond arm round his sad-eyed beauty ; His mother thought on son and sire,
Perplexëd sore 'tween love and duty ; And young Pauline, Pierre's only sister,
Knelt on the carpet by his chair, Raising her rose-lips till he kissed her,
And passed her white hand thro' his hair. A strange sad group of love and sorrow,
Where vain regrets with gentle sighs, Tried to forget the stern to-morrow,
With store of tears for aching eyes.
The silent snow-stars, in a cloud,
Fell through the leafless boughs from Heaven, To pile upon dead earth a shroud ;
And as the clock was striking seven, The horse-patrol, the ghastly street
Made echo to their crashing sabres ; While the sharp ring of chargers' feet
Roused Paris to her daily labours. Challenge, reply, and countersign,
“ All's well !”-and “Pass !”— the sentries' hollo, Were ushers to the dim sunshine,
That heralded a day to follow ; As in the study, past the hall,
Where Fierre had left his father reading, A noise was heard-a heavy fall :
He rushed, and found the old man bleeding.
Than his no Arab's aim was truer ;
Beyond reproach-alas !-past cure.
(As in the camp) upon the table, And the dull lamp's last flickering ray
Went out as sun-lit spire and gable ; A pistol in his hand he held,
Blood from his breast was trickling slowly Into a pool, that gradual swelled,
Beneath a pillow crushed and lowly. Now-ere he closëd Death's door-Pierre
Perceived a narrow strip of paper Hang curling from the scabbard rare,
'Twas written on !-(he lit a taper), Then softly drew the glittering sword,
With its phylactery twining round it, And, having read it word for word,
Replaced it gently where he found it.
“HE WAS HIS MOTHER'S ONLY SON,
AND SHE A WIDOW,'*—sad inscription !
Free now for ever from conscription.
* The first Napoleon exempted in all cases the only sons of widows-the conscription was never meant to take effect in such cases.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF CRITICISM.
SAMUEL HAWKER BANKS.
SAPERE est et principium et fons.—Pliny. TRUE knowledge of the art of Criticism is a qualification very generally assumed but rarely possessed; and in literature, perhaps, more than in any branch of
Art. In others, we deem a practical or highly-trained theoretical knowledge necessary, and accept the dictum of none but those whom we believe to possess the necessary attributes ; as, for instance, if we desired an opinion of the excellence or imperfectness of a steam-engine, it is probable we should prefer the judgment of an engineer to that of an engine-driver. In literature, however, an acquaintance with the nine parts of speech, and the opportunity of expressing a written or oral opinion are all the requisites necessary--in the estimation of many—to make the perfect Critic, and it is with this class it is now contemplated to deal.
Our greatest of all bards, philosophers and historians—the immortal SHAKSPERE—who, happily for himself and for us, lived in an age less prolific of literary wasps and critical light-weights than is ours; and whose imagination, unfettered or misdirected by such “puny whipsters” as those with whom the modern aspirant for literary fame or the devoted ethicist is more than likely to come into contact, and live in dread or contempt of, was enabled to glance
From heaven to earth, from earth to heaven, and give, unquestioned and indisputably,
To airy nothing
A local habitation and a name, has complained of the “throwing about of brains" even in his time, and instances “philosophy" as the only means of finding out the something referred to, as above and beyond any other