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worded, as it came from Lord Byron's hands. When he showed it to me completed, which, I think, was some time in the year 1814, I did not take a copy of it, but the verses impressed themselves indelibly on my recollection. I heard, a few years afterwards, when we separated for different pursuits in life, that a copy of them, without the participation of Wolfe, had got into an Irish newspaper *, whence they were copied into a magazine. I did not see them published until they reappeared within the last year in the Devizes Gazette, under the title of “ The Dead Soldier.” They had, I presume, been all this time circulating about from one journal to another; and the author never took the pains of correcting the errors which have been perpetuated from the first imperfect copy to that which Captain Medwin has given to the public. These errors detract greatly from the spirit and beauty of the original. I shall correct them, and restore the ode to the state in which it came from the hands of the author; as my memory has always been tenacious of every syllable of it. The fame of Sappho is realized by a solitary fragment. The existence of Wolfe will be remembered by one of the shortest, but one of the most impressive odes in the language. It would be matter of regret if a work, though so small, yet bearing the impress of immortality, should not go down to future times with all the excellence which the genius of the author conferred on it. When volumes of verses that enjoy the popularity of a season shall have disappeared, this little ode, which its author never ventured to publish, will take its place among whatever is classic and enduring in the literature of our day.”
Mr. Taylor proceeds, with great critical taste, to point out the various corruptions which had crept into the ode, and their injurious effect. Mr. Russell suggests one or two further little corrections. Subjoined is a copy of the ode restored to its pure and native state :
* The Newry Telegraph of the 19th of April 1817.
“ The Burial of Sir John Moore.
As his corse to the rampart we hurried ;
O’er the grave where our hero we buried.
The sods with our bayonets turning;
3. “ No useless coffin enclos’d his breast,
Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him; But he lay like a warrior taking his rest
With his martial cloak around him.
4. - Few and short were the prayers we said,
And we spoke not a word of sorrow; But we steadfastly gaz'd on the face that was dead, And we bitterly thought of the morrow.
5. “ We thought, as we hollow'd his narrow bed,
And smooth'd down his lonely pillow, That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head, And we far away on the billow !
6. “ Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,
And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him,But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on In the grave where a Briton has laid him.
7. “ But half of our heavy task was done,
When the clock struck the hour for retiring ; And we heard the distant and random gun
That the foe was sullenly firing.
From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
But we left him alone with his glory!" A subsequent letter to Mr. Taylor, from the Rev. J. Sullivan, with a sight of which we have been favoured, thus describes the circumstances which led to the composition of the ode.
6. The poem was commenced in my company. The occasion was as follows: Wolfe came into my room one evening while I was reading the Edinburgh Annual Register; I think it was the volume for 1809 *, and which concluded with an account of the battle of Corunna, and the death of Sir John Moore. It appeared to me to be admirably written; and although the writer might not be classed amongst the very warmest admirers of that lamented general, yet he cordially appreciated his many great and amiable qualities, and eagerly seized upon every opportunity of doing him generous and ample justice. In college we do not always lay down our books when visited by our friends, at least, you know, to your cost, that such is not my practice. I made our dear departed friend listen to me while I read the account which the admirable writer (I conjectured that he must be Mr. Southey) made to assume a classical interest; and we both felt kindled. and elevated by a recital which was calculated to concentrate whatever of glory or interest attached in our young imagin
* It was the volume for 1808. The following is the conclusion of the passage to which Mr. Sullivan alludes.
“ Sir John Moore had often said, that if he was killed in battle, he wished to be buried where he fell. . The body was removed at midnight to the citadel of Corunna. A grave was dug for him on the rampart there, by a party of the 9th regiment; the aides-du camp attending by turns. No coffin could be procured ; and the officers of his staff wrapped the body, dressed as it was, in a military cloak and blankets. The interment was hastened ; for, about eight in the morning, some firing was heard, and the officers feared that if a serious attack were made, they should be ordered away, and not suffered to pay him their last duty. The officers of his family bore him to the grave; the funeral service was read by the chaplain ; and the corpse was covered with earth.” (Edinburgh Annual Register, 1808, p. 458.)
ations to Chæronea or Marathon, upon the spotless valour of a British soldier. When I had done, Wolfe and I walked into the country; and I observed that he was totally inattentive to the objects around him; and in conversation absent and self-involved. He was, in fact, silently composing; and, in a short time, he repeated for me (without writing them down) the first and last stanzas of his beautiful ode, which, as you have truly stated in the Morning Chronicle, were all that he at first intended. I was exceedingly pleased by them; and I believe the admiration I expressed partly induced him to supply the other stanzas. Every one of the corrections which you have suggested is right. Your memory has served you admirably to restore the ode to the state in which it was left by its lamented author.”
In adverting to the passage in Captain Medwin's work, in which it is stated, that Campbell's Hohenlinden was adduced by some of the company at Lord Byron's as one of the finest specimens of lyrical composition, Mr. Russel observes, that that powerfully descriptive and sublime ode was a peculiar favourite with Mr. Wolfe.
66 The awful imagery presented in such a rapid succession of bold and vivid flashes ; - the burning thoughts which break forth in such condensed energy of expression, and the incidental touches of deep and genuine pathos, which characterize the whole poem, never failed intensely to affect his imagination, and to draw out the most rapturous expressions of admiration. It was, indeed, the peculiar temperament of his mind, to display its emotions by the strongest outward demonstrations. Such were his intellectual sensibilities, and the corresponding vivacity of his animal spirits, that the excitation of his feelings generally discovered itself by the most lively expressions, and sometimes by an unrestrained vehemence of gesticulation, which often afforded amusement to his more sedate or less impressible acquaintances. Whenever, in the company of his friends, any thing occurred in his reading, or to his memory, which powerfully affected his imagination, he usually started from his seat, flung aside his chair, and paced about the room,
giving vent to his admiration in repeated exclamations of delight, and in gestures of the most animated rapture. Nothing produced these emotions more strongly than music, of the pleasures of which he was in the highest degree susceptible. He had an ear formed to enjoy, in the most exquisite manner, the simplest melody, or the richest harmony. With but little cultivation, he had acquired sufficient skill in the theory of this accomplishment, to relish its highest charms, and to exercise a discriminative taste in the appreciation of any composition or performance, in that delightful
Sacred music above all, (especially the compositions of Handel,) had the most subduing — the most transporting effect upon his feelings, and seemed to enliven, and sublimate his devotion to the highest pitch. He understood and felt all the poetry of music, and was particularly felicitous in catching the spirit and character of a simple air or a national melody.” Of this aptitude to adapt his poetical talents to such subjects Mr. Russell gives a happy specimen, in an English song which he wrote to the grand national Spanish air of “ Viva el Rey Fernando.”
“ For a short period,” — we again quote Mr. Russell, — “ he prosecuted his studies with such effect as to render it a matter of regret to all who were interested for him, that he did not persevere in his efforts, and that he allowed any trifling interruptions to divert him from his object. He evinced, indeed, a solidity of understanding and a clearness of conception which, with ordinary diligence and proper management, might have soon made him master of all those branches of learning required in the fellowship course of the Dublin University; but, the habits of his mind, and the
peculiarity of his disposition, and the variety of his taste, seemed adverse to any thing like continued and laborious application to one definite object. It was a singular characteristic of his mind that he seldom read any book throughout, not even those works in which he appeared most to delight. Whatever he read, he thoroughly digested and accurately retained; but, his progress through any book of an argumentative or