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retinebitur.” It has rendered them in a certain degree discreditable, and reduced them to operate more in secret than formerly, and more individuals have been freed from their sway; but he must know little of the actual state of things who supposes their present influence to be inconsiderable, or, perhaps, diminishing.” And, afterwards, in Letter xxv. which contains “ Remarks on an argument in favour of the Reality of Spectral appearances”, which argument is Dr. Johnson's, put into the mouth of the Sage, Imlac, in his Rasselas, you say (p. 281.) “It may be further observed, that with regard to supposed spectral appearances, the idea of them has, in different countries and ages, received such variations as might be expected from the operation of the fancy modified by variety of circumstances. One remarkable diversity is, that similar things are represented as passing in a vision and in reality; and sometimes it is not easy to say which of the two is intended.” After giving instances from Virgil and Ovid, you say (p. 283.) “ It would be easy to multiply instances in which the poets, those faithful recorders of popular superstitions, have thus wavered between vision and reality in their representations of the commerce with G
aerial beings.”* With these references and these extracts I shall rest Margaret's Ghost, and proceed to Edw IN AND EMMA, (p. 73.) It exhibits a beautiful picture of a delicate passion between the lovers, as related in the fol
The lesson too to parents and relatives not to oppose virtuous love, merely because the object may have no fortune, is valuable ; but,
* In the Letter by the Poet Burns to Dr. Moore, giving an account of his life, there is a very curious passage to this effect: “In my infant and boyish days, too, I owed much to an old woman who resided in the family, remarkable for her ignorance, credulity and superstition. She had, I suppose, the largest collection in the country of tales and songs concerning devils, ghosts, fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles, dead-lights, wraiths, apparitions, cantraips, giants, enchanted towers, dragons and other trumpery. This cultivated the latent seeds of poetry; but had so strong an effect on my imagination, that to this hour, in my nocturnal rambles, 1 sometimes keep a sharp look-out-in suspicious places; and though nobody can be more sceptical than I am in such matters, yet it often takes an effort of philosophy to shake off these idle terrors.” (See Dr. Currie's Edition of Burn's Works. Wol. I.
here, likewise, there is food for superstition. After Emma's last interview with Edwin it is stated, Now, homeward, as she, hopeless, went The Church-yard path along,
The blast blew cold, the dark owl scream'd
Amid the falling gloom of night,
In every bush his hovering shade,
In the last verse but one Emma talks of her lover's angel face. The comparing human beings to angels I certainly do not approve. Mr. Walter Scott, in his Lady of the Lake, has done this with more reserve than poets generally practise, as he makes the comparison with an if. The lines are so beautiful that they are well deserving of insertion in this place : Some feelings are to mortals given, With less of earth in them than heaven; And if there be a human tear From passion's dross refin’d and clear, A tear so limpid and so meek, It would not stain an angel's cheek,
'Tis that which pious fathers shed
In the last verse of this Ballad of Edwin and Emma, it is said, “She shiver'd, sigh'd, and died”, on which subject see before, p. 53.
NANcy of THE WALE, by Shenstone, “The western sky was purpled o'er”, (p. 77.) is a very beautiful Ballad, and is given, with some small alterations, in the second Volume of my Collection. You have omitted it (for which I can see no reason) in your late Volume.
To illustrate my ideas on this subject still farther, and to afford my readers some relief from continued comment, I shall subjoin some specimens of what appear to me to be good Ballads and Pastoral Songs, or rather what I will call by the more appropriate name of Rural Songs.
1 HUSH'd was the storm—the fleet unmoor'd, The top-sails floated on the wind, And many a gallant youth aboard, Sigh’d for the maid he left behind. 2 But earnest vows and looks of love, Were most to gentle Mary giv'n, Wows such as angels might approve, And hear—and register in Heaven! 3 Far off her Henry's voice she hears, He calls—she answers; but in vain; Hark! tis the gun—Fast flow her tears; The vessel rides along the main.