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Robert Buchanan - The Literary Lounger

‘The Literary Lounger’ only appeared in three editions of The Glasgow Sentinel in 1858 and his identity is more speculative. The first is unsigned, but the inclusion of the poem by David Gray suggests Robert Buchanan Jr. is the writer, as do the initial comments about ‘Young America’ which mimic those in his Longfellow review. The next two articles were signed ‘R. B.’ The absence of the ‘W.’ might indicate Buchanan Snr., who, as well as being a journalist, essayist and polemicist, was also a poet. Two years later, after the collapse of The Glasgow Sentinel, at the first of Buchanan Snr.’s bankruptcy hearings (reported in The Glasgow Herald of 2nd June, 1860) he did make this statement:

“For upwards of twelve months before my sequestration, I did not contribute regularly to the literary department of the paper, that being supplied by the sub-editor and other parties who were paid for their contributions. This was occasioned because my mind was taken up by financial matters, and planning to meet my pecuniary engagements. I, however, took a general supervision of that department, and suggested the topics to be written for the papers.”

The Glasgow Sentinel (23 October, 1858 - p.2)


TRULY, Young America is a clever boy, and one who likes his books. At the semi-annual book sale, held in New York recently, the amount sold by auction was rising 200,000 dollars. But he stands in much the same relation to literature as Master Jones, the young hopeful of such and such an honest fellow’s family, to his volume of “Fairy Tales.” The rogue likes to read, but he must be provided with something which he can regard as interesting. He prefers Don Juan to Anacreon, and Tennyson to Puritan John. Heigho! Box his ears, and you will find Jonathan a stubborn lad indeed; but give him the open fields, with full permission to read when he will, and what he will, and you will find him in the ultimate a very talented little fellow. He wont study in a pair of stays, depend upon it. He likes so and so’s writing, and tells you so. He follows impulsively the promptings of his own spirit, and will candidly inform you that his head is hardly old enough to contain the soundest material; that he loves the birds, the flowers, and the sunshine, the voice of Spring, and the little sober path through the wood much better than the bowers of classic Accademus and the society of Plato dux philosophorum; and that his feelings are those of a boy he can give you as his reason why. He is as loving as he is impulsive, and “Love knows no order,” said St Jerome. In the meantime, we may watch his gambols with the Peripatetics and his dallying at the foot of the Holy Hill advisedly; we may wait, in the meantime, for his grey hairs.
     The “Household Book of Poetry” has been issued by the Messrs Appleton, of New York. It is a volume comprising somewhere about 800 pages, edited, as we understand, by Dana, who has himself given some very tame effusions, and one good poem, “The Buccaneer,” to the world. We have one blunder to grumble at—a very heinous one in our opinion, and in that of American literary circles. The writings of one individual will live when those of all other living Americans, with three or four exceptions, perhaps, are forgotten. The poems of Alice Carey possess refinement, esprit, and are remarkable for honest, affectionate pathos. They are eminently womanly—candid, loving delineations of a candid, loving female’s heart. She has not written a line which a stout soul should be ashamed to weep over internally. Her pen is characteristic of Christian gentleness, and views the infinite—which is the beautiful—through Christian smiles and tears. It is poetry with body and soul in it. It has some of the finish of Longfellow, much of Bryant’s susceptibility to the beautiful in nature and art, and a great deal of Lowell’s subjective power. Yet is the name and fame of this lady, who is a true poetess, passed without comment by Master Dana. This is not well. No wonder that such-a-one, who is an honest admirer of Miss Carey, grumbles over the book; or that so-and-so, whose little ones have probably learned to sing some of her sweetest and simplest lilts, casts it aside with contempt. Miss Carey is not known half well enough on this side of the Atlantic, by the way. O seceum insipiens et inficitum!
     Mr Wilkie Collins’ new drama, the “Red Vial,” while brimful of the horrible—which is Mr Collins’ element—is well written; but the success of a play with the public depends very much upon its direct influence on their feelings and sympathies. The uncritical part of an audience look to the theme instead of the treatment of a drama. In the “Red Vial” the most dreadful emotions are jarred painfully together for the sake of artistic effect. It does not partake sufficiently of the pathetic spirit, and acts indirectly upon the senses through the medium of the most alarming situations. It is characterised by power and excellent good taste, but disappoints the mass. Its title, by the bye, is a true indication of its outre plot. The component parts are thus subdivided: “Act I. Fourth of June Act II. The Physician’s Secrets!! Act III. The Alarm Clock!!!” High praise has been accorded to Mrs Stirling for her exquisite impersonation of the principal female character.
     Mr G. P. R. James, late her Majesty’s Consul at Richmond, Virginia, is making a short sojourn in the metropolis. This gentleman is the most prolific of the novelists now amongst us, and what is more remarkable, has never produced anything absolutely bad. Many of his tales are very popular, and some are excellent in their way. His “Forest Days” is a novel beautifully written, full of the spirit of the olden time—sparkling as Burgundy—summoning up visions delightful of stout Sir Launcilots, of bold Robin Hood and his dulcinea, the fair maid Marian, famous in many a good song, of stout Friar Tuck and the outlaw’s merry men! Mr James is on his way to Venice, to which place he has been appointed consul, at an increased income. His wife, daughter, and youngest son accompany him.
     The progress of a healthy journalism has been satisfactorily traced by Lord Brougham in his address before the Liverpool meeting of the assembly for the promotion of social science. His lordship went into statistics of the enormous sale of some of our penny publications, and commented in limine upon the good they have effected. His speech was eloquent and energetic, reminding one of the old inspired fire—that bright Edinburgh Review fire, which has not yet died out in the bosom of the grand old man. What one among his hearers did not dream of dear Sir Walter, dead and gone, and of Abbotsford; of Jeffrey, keen-cutting as the diamond, yet as good and precious, and of Craigerook; of Henry Cockburn and Co., and the Lesser Court? It was delightful. Every politician of note appears to regard the subject discussed by the noble lord—that of popular education—as a very important one indeed; and Brougham spoke upon a subject which he has studied conscientiously. The great schoolmaster and founder of the Useful Knowledge Society handled his arguments with the air of a warm thinker. Popular preachers and teachers who regard the London Journal, with other journals of its class, as nothing more or less than a weekly pennyworth of moral evil, would do well to mark his words. Depend upon it, every syllable was weighed with precision internally ere made use of in speech. He recognised the fact as regards the poor which the rich have recognised all along as regards themselves—that amusement is fully as necessary to the healthful mind as instruction. Let the Janus-headed fellows who privily read Bulwer, Brogden Brown, Sir Walter Scott, Balsac, and Monsieur Eugene Sue, and support at the same time in externo the Multiplication Table and the driest of dry science, weigh his expressions well. As for conviction, God speed the mark, cry we!
     We have received the following for publication:—


A LADY, pale faced in her lore of dreams,
Soft eyne blue deep as lipping Tivoli,
Sat silent by a painted oriel
Burnished with sunset. A white finger pressed
Two rose-leaf lips of dewy splendidness;
And one fair hand, streak’d delicately blue
As a spring blossom, or those wondrous hands
On Vandyke’s canvas ever beautiful,
Lay in her satin lap in snowy rest.
About the window played the panting breeze,
Stirring the tangled verdant drapery
Of rose flowers blushing thro’ the green of leaves.
Her belted lord was very far away
Across the valley with his merry men,
His long-ear’d hounds, of old and gentle breed,
Chasing the red deer in the forest maze.

A noble grand was gallant Lord Moraine,
The proudest in the many-acred shire;
And, in the hey-day of his manhood, he
Led to his bosom a fair Saxon bride,
With all her lands and towers and grand domains.
When he leapt down all clanking from his steed
At the hall door, he patted her fine cheek
In wanton tenderness. O she was all;
A grand wee plaything for his sunny hours,
A little luxury he lifted up
Sometimes upon a quiet palfrey brown.

So now sat she, a tear-drop in her eye
A shadow on her soul. Poor little thing!
Came evening in her drapery of gloom,
And like a spirit from the great unknown,
A white star rose in the grey-clouded east.
He came not. Sure, the chase this summer day
Had been prolonged beyond the custom’d hour.
The deer had mounted the hillside afar
Swift as the shadow of a falcon-cloud,
And there sat she, still as the marble form
Of pale Diana in her chastest dream.

The golden stair by which the sun went down
Changed from a purple to an orange hue,
Then to a weary grey. The crescent moon,
Like light gondola, on a placid lake
Venetian, stood by a shore of cloud,
Waiting a freight of souls. He came not yet;
And from her heart there came these longing words
In tinkling tones most ravishingly clear
And sonorous as pearls rolling down
A silver basin—
                               “Sooth, I like him well!
The oak-tree of my ivy-love! Ah me!
He will come soon. Hush! was not that full note,
Sheathing its clearness in the damp of night,
The sound of my lord’s horn? Fie on my little faith!
I mind one time he came not till the dawn,
With all the panting dogs about his feet;
And as he stalked up the ancestral stair,
And caught me playing Niobe at the top,
He laid my wet cheek to his manly breast—
Saying I was a tender-hearted thing
That should have been in bed. Well, well; but, but—
Methinks there is an omen in the air.
Ah! how the tall pine wrestles with the winds,
As I do with my thoughts. Heaven help me well!
But I will out and meet him in the wood,
Tho’ the grey night should fashion spirit forms
To haunt me as did Comus long ago!”

         *          *         *          *         *

     Mr David Gray, the author of the poem transcribed above has contributed some very beautiful effusions to the local press; but his head has evidently been turned a little by Percy Bysshe Shelley and Master John Keats. He is capable of producing good poems, but we would warn him against putting his muse in a pair of stays. She is young and delicate now—far too delicate and young to be tampered with, we should think. Lollipops and bon-bons are well enough in their way, no doubt, but good honest bread and butter must form her staple article of diet now-a-days. Did time and space permit, we would take our young poet most lovingly by the button-hole, and discourse to him “most excellent advice.” The divine faculty is at bud within him, but he must nurse it well. We consider “Lord Moraine” exceedingly creditable to Mr Gray’s head and heart; but he will give us something better one day. A volume of his poems, now in the press, and to a view of which we have been treated privately, contains some effusions of sterling worth.
     Messrs Longman state that Mr Crowe’s “History of France”—at least the first volume—will be published at the end of the present month. Mrs Jameson makes appearance shortly, with the fourth and concluding series of her “Sacred and Legendary Art.” The specific subject is “The History of Our Lord and of His Precursor, St John the Baptist,” with the personages and typical subjects of the Old Testament, as represented in Christian art. Messrs Longman announce various other publications, among them the third and concluding volume of Brialmont’s “Life of the Duke of Wellington.” Mr Murray announces the publication of the Marquis Cornwallis’s correspondence relating to India, America, the Union with Ireland, and the peace of Amiens. Sir Howard Douglas is about to publish a work on naval warfare with steam. Mr Murray also announces the third and fourth volumes of Rawlinson’s translation of Herodotus, which will complete the work.
     The world has fallen into the “sere and yellow leaf,” and the reading season has set in with a furore. The poet is brooding over coming “epics,” the novellist over novels that are to create a sensation by and by; and enterprising publishers are ever busy conning well-thumbed M.S. The summer has gone back to the unknown whence she came, and taken the emotions which it is given her to awaken to lands not far away. Farther south, perhaps, Miss Philomel varies the monotony of affairs a little now and then, but our Scotch woods lie silent, solemn, and neglected. Let us seek our own hearth with a good book. People like Mr Dickens better than Mr Tennyson now, in much the same way as they prefer a cosy fire within doors to a rouse in the open air.



The Glasgow Sentinel (6 November, 1858 - p.2)


THE snows of eight-and-eighty winters are piled on Alexander von Humboldt’s honoured head. He is old, very old, but the bright impassioned intellect has not died out yet within him. He prosecutes his literary labours quite as assiduously as ever—toiling, thinking, writing, morning, noon, and night. His glorious colleagues are dead and gone; he stood with Varnhagen von Ense in the mighty Presence only a day or two ago, yet he lingers with us still, engaged in the production of the two last volumes of his Cosmos, probably the last study which God will spare him to complete. A long life, and one, indeed, well spent, has been that of Alexander von Humboldt; and this very day the resources of his wonderful intellect appear as manifold and as unimpaired as they were twenty years ago. Friends of his say that he continues as great an enthusiast as ever. Farseeing and prophetic as a man of genius, he is earnest, simple, and light-hearted as a child.
     Lord Byron, than whom no man was more different from his idol in range of style and intellect, worshipped Pope, and another noble lord, now with us, has been silly enough to follow his example. Lord Carlisle has cultivated a style almost exclusively used by school boys and the authors of prize poems, and published in decasyllabic verse, a paraphrase of the eighth chapter of Daniel. We are so constantly disgusted at the affectation and priggishness of our modern lovers of simplicity, and are so often led to regret the wonderful weight, condensation, and manliness, which Pope alone put into such verses, that it is well we should occasionally be reminded that the imitation of Pope was perhaps a drearier employment than the imitation of Mr Tennyson.
     We regret to announce the death of Mrs Hope Scott, granddaughter of Sir Walter, and daughter of the late John Lockhart. She expired in the Clarendon Hotel, Edinburgh, a day or two ago. The Border Advertiser, commenting on the amiable lady’s decease, observes:—“Mrs Hope Scott had never rightly recovered strength after her last confinement, about five weeks ago, although the seeds of the malady which proved fatal had evidently been sown previous to that event. She was removed lately to the Clarendon Hotel, Edinburgh, in order that she might be under the special medical attention of Dr Simpson. Here she gradually sank. She was attended to the last by her devoted husband. Not to dwell upon the prostrating effects of the bereavement on the strong mind of him who was her doating partner in life, we know that in the hearts of the domestics at Abbotsford, from faithful old Swanston down to the youngest and latest arrived member of the household, there has fallen a gloom and a sadness that are altogether unequalled on ordinary occasions of death. Mrs Hope Scott was equally beloved for her unobtrusive kindness and amiability among all classes; and particularly in the cottages of the poor many an eye will be wetted at the news of her death. The last link may almost be said to be now severed that bound the name of Sir Walter Scott to the present and living generation. The deceased Charlotte Harriet Jane Lockhart was—at the time of her union, in 1847, to James R. Hope Scott, Esq., Q.C.—the only surviving daughter of Mr Lockhart, the critic, and biographer of Sir Walter, by his marriage with Sophia, Scott’s eldest daughter. Her father died at Abbotsford, in the presence of his daughter and her husband, on the 25th December, 1851, and his dust reposes by the side of the poet, under the ivy-clasped arches of Dryburgh, where a fitting monument was lately erected to his memory. Her mother Mrs Lockhart, died in her house in London in June, 1837, and is interred in the new cemetery, Harrow Road, beside her sister Anne, who died in 1833. In the same spot also was interred, by his mother’s side, the ashes of that frail but noble boy, John Hugh Lockhart—the Hugh Littlejohn of the ‘Tales of a Grandfather,’ so well known in fancy to the boyish years of the youth of Scotland. He died in 1831. Walter Scott Lockhart Scott, the once heir to the name and estates of Abbotsford, and brother of the present departed lady, died about fourteen years ago abroad, and is interred in the cemetery of Versailles. Thus, one by one, the off-shoots of that family tree which Sir Walter Scott had such an ambition to found on our border have fallen. Let us hope that the still remaining distant and slender link that Mrs Hope Scott leaves behind her may be spared to re-establish the name and build up the house of Abbotsford. Mr Hope Scott’s family consists of a daughter, Mary Monica, about four years of age; Walter Michael, a boy about 18 months old; and the fruit of the late confinement, a daughter, only a few weeks entered into life. We understand that Mrs Hope Scott’s remains will be interred for the present in the burying-ground, Edinburgh, belonging to the congregation of Bishop Gillies; the space in Dryburgh Abbey, where her father and grandfather are interred, being as yet unsuitable. The deceased lady was said, by those who were able to form a correct opinion, to bear in her features some traces of the lineaments of her distinguished ancestor, whose facial characteristics were still more apparent and strongly marked in his daughter, her late mother.”
     Students in England as well as in Germany will remember a charming little book, in which Lessing attempted to give definiteness and force to certain propositions as to the relations of Humanity and Christianity—propositions which had been set up some time previously in the famous “Wolfebuttel Fragments.” Readers ignorant of German will be delighted with a very excellent translation of the work to which we allude, just published by Smith, Elder and Co., of London. Die Erziehung des Menschengeschlects (The Education of the Human Race)—appeared, if we remember correctly, in the year 1781, and immediately exercised a remarkable influence on thought and opinion in Germany. Gotthold Ephraim Lessing stands at the head of the critical rationalistic school of continental theology; and his name has now an historical significancy.
     The first New York sale for the season took place, Sept. 1st, at the auction rooms of G. A. Leavitt and Co., and terminated on the 18th. The total amount was about £40,000, the largest invoice, that of D. Appleton and Co., having yielded £4,000; that of Phillips, Sampson, and Co., £3,000; and that of Derby and Jackson over £2,500. The attendance has been numerous, and the prices good, some books being in excellent demand. Of the “Jubilee,” a music-book published by Mason Brothers, over 1,000 copies were sold. Appletons disposed of 700 Bryant’s Poems, and 3,000 Cornell’s educational works. Derby and Jackson sold over 4,000 volumes of the Library of Standard Fiction; Childs and Peterson, 350 copies of Dr Kane’s Arctic Explorations, which has already had a circulation of 70,000. H. W. Beecher’s “Life Thoughts” was bought to the extent of 4,000, and Captain Mayne Reid’s writings had the same fortune. J. W. Bradley, of Philadelphia, sold 620 “Livingstone’s Travels,” and Hickling, Swan, and Brewer, 1,300 of “Worcester’s Pronouncing Speller,” as well as 600 “Goodrich’s History of the United States.” An offer was made and refused for 200,000 Webster’s “Elementary Speller,” at one-eighth cent less than the regular price. The largest amount sold of any one book was £750 for about 800 Coppee’s “Gallery of Famous English and American Poets,” published by E. H. Butler and Co.
     Exactly seven-and-thirty years ago the maiden essay of Mr Thomas De Quincey appeared in the columns of the London Magazine. Poor Hazlitt’s “Table Talk,” and Charles Lamb’s “Essays of Elia,” were models of literary excellence then, and the “Confessions of an English Opium Eater” was at once acknowledged by all and sundry as fit to range side by side with theses in originality and esprit. A scholar, after years of toil, and study, and literary discipline, he came to the measuring-bar quite as boldly as the best, and was not found wanting. Since then, for seven-and-thirty years, he has poured forth the treasures of an inexhaustible intellect, and more than justified the position, the success, his first production gained him. During this interval, under hardships which must make the human heart ache even to imagine, he has exerted his imaginative resources in unintermittent contributions to periodical works of high status. We have recognised him as an accurate scholar, a subtle reasoner, a philosophic thinker, and an accomplished historian. He is the “Admirable Crichton” of modern literature. We know not to what extent the “selection” issued by Mr Hogg, of Edinburgh, have yet to be continued, but this we do know, that the series improves as gradually as it advances. Nine desirable volumes have already been issued, and we trace the slow growth of a great and original mind from one to one. His last productions are as much superior to the “Confessions” as the “Confessions” are superior to anything else of their kind in the whole range of English literature. Originality and progress identify genius; and in the subtle intellect of De Quincey we must recognise genius in its sublimest form. Some amongst his later essays—as the papers on “Homer and the Homerioæ,” on the “Republic of Plato,” and the “Philosophy of Herodotus,” are examples of that familiarity with the literature of Greece which was one of Mr De Quincey’s school honours; and some, again—as that on the “Pagan Oracles”—are full of marvellous acuteness and curious lore. We find a source of inexhaustible pleasure in these happy alternations of the “grave and gay.”
     In a very beautifully got-up little volume of verse, by a Miss Young of this city, we find many indications of poetic talent. One or two of the poems are little, if at all, above mediocrity, but many on the other hand are something more than mere vers de societie. More than once do we meet with beautiful thoughts beautifully expressed. Our authoress possesses a sound, loving, appreciative heart; and her effusions are now and then characterised by tone and power. She looks upon the beautiful through woman’s smiles and tears, bringing her soul into her song. She thinks no evil, apprehending none; and her verses are as innocent and good as the bosom which fostered and encouraged the emotions they are written to represent. Hers is just such a book as we would desire to find in the possession of our “sweethearts and wives.” One little song, written in the honest, pathetic Doric, has already assumed for itself a position in Scotch ballad literature; and we shall confer a favour, both upon the reader and ourselves, by its reproduction in these columns:—


Oh! sad wails the norlan’s wind round my lane sheiling;
     The snaw-drift an’ sleet wrastle hard in the air,
An’ cauld is my hamestead, but caulder my bosom,
     An’ thowless my heart, for my Jeanie’s nae mair.
The pride o’ my heart, an’ the joy o’ my bosom,
     She kept my auld days free o’ sorrow an’ care,
But she’s gane frae my sicht like a frost-nipp’t blossom,
     And gane are my joys since noo she’s nae mair.

I hear nae her silvery voice ring through the hallan
     Wi’ music as sweet as the saft simmer air,
Nor hear her licht fit-fa’ steal round in the gloamin’,
     Aud ilk thing looks cheerless since Jeanie’s nae mair.
It’s no that the warld’s grown darker or drearier—
     It’s no that its flowers are bloomin’ less fair,
But my life’s sun’s gane down, an’ nae mair can they cheer me—
     It’s aye gloamin’s round me since Jeanie’s nae mair.

The sunbeams shoot over the ocean’s dark bosom,
     Like glints o’ the glory that’s shinin’ on high,
An’ the ebb o’ the wave comes like sabs o’ emotion,
     Betiding the time I maun heave my last sigh.
Like a storm-rifted tree to the grave I maun daunner,
     Nae kind heart to cheer or my sorrow to share,
But my thochts ever dwell on the warld that’s aboon us,
     An’ I ken that my Jeanie will welcome me there.

An open-hearted and innocent girl might be even less profitably employed than in the production of verses as meritorious as these.
     Now that we approach the wise and merry Christmas time, illustrated books begin to come out in goodly number. There is, first, Mr John Murray, who announces Lockhart’s “Spanish Ballads,” splendidly bound in quarto, and illustrated with coloured borders, and illuminated titles and initial letters; and likewise “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” with seventy illustrations, from original drawings and sketches by Percival Skelton. There are, next, Messrs Longman, who promise Moore’s “Lalla Rookh,” in like magnificent quarto dress; and Messrs Nisbet, who announce Thomson’s “Seasons,” illustrated by Pickersgill. And there is Mr Routledge, who has some Christmas books in hand surpassing anything he has hitherto published. They are Wordsworth’s “Deserted Cottage,” illustrated by Gilbert and Wolf; and Goldsmith’s Poems, illustrated by designs of Birket Foster and printed in colours from woodblocks.

                                                                                                                                                     R. B.



The Glasgow Sentinel (13 November, 1858 - p.2)


LET us take a hasty glance at one or two of the monthlies. First and foremost in the list comes our sober, straightforward, honest old friend, Blackwood, discussing yesterday and to-day in the same sober, straightforward, honest manner. “What will he do with it?” progresses favourably enough. Mr Buckle and his “History of Civilisation” came under notice, and the reviewer appears to regard Mr Buckle as a builder of tangible theories based on unsubstantial foundations, and a man of genius at the same time. He touches that gentleman on the most sensitive point—in the most delicate manner possible; and, admirabile dictu, appears to look upon him all along as a very clever fellow who has made a very great fool of himself. “Cherbourg” is a topic exhausted weeks ago, but Blackwood will have its say about it. The author of the article on Edward Irving talks a good deal of nonsense—nonsense that we have heard from the lips of nonsensical people over and over again. He appears to regard the Scottish clergy in general and Edward Irving in particular (all honour to whom, however) as neither more nor less than angels in flannel waistcoats and pantaloons. He estimates the preacher by an erroneous standard, and magnifies his intellectual powers to bring them to the stipulated calibre. The direct popularity of Edward Irving, instead of resulting from his mental powers, might be traced to causes different indeed.
     Titan comes nest in our category—firstly, because it has been and is a favourite of ours; and secondly, because the number for this month is more than ordinarily clever and entertaining. The author of “At Munich” pays a visit to the celebrated Bavarian Residenz and handles the topics suggested by such a visit like a genuine lover of the arts. We have enjoyed his company, and you, my dear reader, cannot do better than seek him out, and enjoy it too. “Marriage as in France” is a good translation of M. Chas. Reybaud’s admirable story, “Faustine et Sydonie.” “Two Millions” and “Nothing to Wear” are from a Transatlantic source. practical people will enjoy the chapter on “Art and Science Abroad.” Here is a paragraph for extract:—


     The work of tunnelling the Alps has been commenced some months. The spot chosen for this undertaking is beneath Mount Cenis, the part of the Alpine chain which separates France from Piedmont. Although the ridge here is high, it is one of the narrowest portions of the chain anywhere hereabouts. The tunnel is to begin at Modane on the north side, and terminate at Bardoneche on the south, these two points being, within a little, on the same level. The convenience of this position for a tunnel was pointed out by M. Medoil, more than 20 years ago, and has often attracted the attention of engineers. The tunnel will be very near eight miles in length, and is designed in the same vertical plane; but, to facilitate drainage, is rather higher in the middle than at the ends, so as to form a slope on each side. The crest of the mountain is about a mile higher than the highest point of the tunnel; hence the sinking of shafts was practically impossible, and the tunnel can only be worked at its extremities. By the ordinary method of tunnelling, the work would occupy 36 years; and by an ingenious mechanical contrivance to be applied, this time will be greatly shortened. . . . The perforating apparatus, set in motion by the compressed air, is so compact and powerful, that in a space barely sufficient for three couples of miners to work, 18 perforators may be employed, so that it will be possible to complete the work in six years instead of 36. The inventors calculate upon being able to advance three metres per day at each end, or six metres per day altogether. The air, after working the perforators, is still available for ventilation. When this work is completed and connected with the Victor Emanuel Railway, it will form one of the finest, if not the finest, road on the continent of Europe; and the journey from Paris to Turin will occupy only 22 hours, and from Paris to Milan only 27 hours.

     Fraser opens with a chatty piece de resistance, “Our Failures.” Here we are seized as with an ague. Failures, failers—dupers, dupes—humbugs and shams of all sorts—there they stand in miserable array beneath the comprehensive eye of “A Manchester Man.” Havoc upon the flock, cried he—and no sooner said than done. He ships a director or two to Norfolk Island, pour encourager les autres, and kicks very heartily a few other kite-flyers of the class gregarious. The author of Headlong Hall contributes a curious notice of some translations from the Sanscrit into ancient Greek, by Demetrius Galanus, a Greek settler in Benares towards the end of the last century, which have been recently edited by G. K. Lypallus, Superintendent of the Royal Library at Athens. Mr Lever’s “Davenport Dunn” is continued with vigour. The following exhibits to some extent, the abilities attributed to the man in his varied capacities:—


     “I am now coming to myself—to my own case, my Lord,” said Dunn, with the very slightest tremor in his voice. “Need I say that I wish it were in the hands of any other advocacy? I am so far fortunate, however, that I address one fully conversant with my claims on his party. For five-and-twenty years I have been the careful guardian of their interests in a country where, except in mere name, they never possessed any real popularity. Your Lordship smiles a dissent; may I enter upon the question?” “Heaven forbid!” broke in the Minister, smiling good-humouredly. “Well, my Lord, were I to reduce my services to a mere monetary estimate, and furnish you with a bill of costs, for what a goodly sum should I stand in the estimates! I have mainly sustained the charge of seven county elections, hardly contested. I have paid the entire charges on twenty-two borough contests. I have subsided the provincial press in your favour at a cost of several thousand pounds out of my own pocket. I have compromised three grave actions about to be brought against the Government. Of the vast sums I have contributed to local charities, schools, nunneries, societies of various denominations, all in the interest of your party, I take no account. I have spent in these and like objects a princely fortune; and yet these hundreds of thousands of pounds are as nothing—mere nothing—to the actual personal services I have rendered to your party. In the great revolution effected by the sale of encumbered estates, I have so watchfully guarded your interests that I have replaced the old rampant Toryism of the land by a gentry at once manageable and practicable—men intent less upon party than personal objects, consequently available to the Minister, always accessible by an offer of direct advantage. I have, with all this, so thrown a Whig light over all the rising prosperity of the country that it might seem the result of your wise rule that stimulated men to the higher civilisation they have attained to, and that a more forbearing charity and a more liberal spirit went hand in hand with improved agriculture and higher farming. To identify a party with the great march of this prosperity—to make of your policy a cause of these noble results, was the grand conception, which, for a quarter of a century, I have carried out. When Mr O’Connell kept your predecessors in power, his price was the bit-by-bit surrender of what in your hearts you believed to be the bulwarks of the constitution. In return for my support what have I got? Some patronage; be it so; for my own dependants and followers, no doubt! Show me one man of my name, one man of my convictions, holding place under the Crown. No, my Lord; my power to serve your party was based on this dure foundation, that I was open to no imputation; I was the distributor of your patronage to the men best worthy to receive it—no more.”

     Our old friend Punch has sprung his Christmas rattle before all his rivals and issued his illustrated ephemeras for 1859. The “Pocket Book” is a repertoire of honest, good-natured fun. “A pic-nic is a drawing-room,” drawn by John Leech, makes a capital frontispiece. The artist has shown us how to get up a real rus in urbe, free from insects, flaring hot sun, or charge for waiters. The comic translations from Horace are decidedly clever; and the classico-comical cut of Demosthenes haranguing the waves, supposed to typify his sublime serenity the Speaker of the House of Commons, is among the best of the kind we have ever seen.

                                                                                                                                                 R. B.



I also came across two reviews of poetry, both unsigned, which struck me as possibly the work of Buchanan Jr., but I have no evidence to support the feeling, so I’ve just added the scans below.


‘A Gush of Song’
The Glasgow Sentinel (10 April, 1858 - p.6)


The Glasgow Sentinel (25 December, 1858 - p.2)

Items of Interest from 1858

The following items from The Glasgow Sentinel of 1858 have no overt connection to Robert Buchanan, but I found them interesting.


A poem by David Gray on the marriage of Princess Victoria (eldest child of Queen Victoria) to Prince Frederick William of Prussia (later German Emperor Frederick III) which took place on 25th January, 1858.

The Glasgow Sentinel (27 February, 1858 - p.6)


LO! she comes in glory,
     From the empire of the sea!
From the castle turrets hoary
     Float our banners fair and free;
Deck Winter’s beard with flowers,
     In the heart’s own Summer springing;
And set all our leafless bowers
     To a hearty welcome ringing;—
For a sweet rosebud, the fairest,
     Is come to open here;—
For a noble maid, the rarest,
     Hath glorified the year
With a tale of love most tender—
     With a fond, confiding tale;—
And shall Prussia fail to render
     A welcoming “All Hail!”

Lo! pour out the wine,
     And let beacons light the deep,
Where, through the festal brine,
     Do the gallant vessels sweep;—
Let Berlin’s lamps be lighted—
     For the pride of England’s land
A youthful troth hath plighted,
     Hath bestowed a virgin hand.
We know her land of childhood,
     All surrounded by the sea;
We know the Windsor wildwood,
     In its ancient grandeur free;
But Prussia has a garden
     Where this bonniest bud may flourish—
In a soil that ne’er shall harden,
     In a land that aye shall cherish.

We know the tender parting
     By the solemn altar’s side;
We know the fond first starting
     Of the newly-wedded bride;
And we love her more for telling
     How her fainting heart grew sore,
As the chorus was outswelling
     Its ecstatic “never more”
For England! She is ours;—
     Ho! ring out the music there!
Ye maidens, line the towers
     With your smiling faces fair;—
Let each bosom beat in cadence
     Across wide Prussia’s land,
For the rosebud queen of maidens
     Hath alighted on our land!

                               Merkland.                                                                                             D. GRAY.



The Glasgow Sentinel (10 July, 1858 - p.6)

Original Poetry.


THE moon hath sunk behind the Strachurben,
     And the fair West is blushing at the parting;
The longing Thetis wins her lord again,
     While Cynthia with her maidens is up-starting.

Over Ben Cruachan she glides in glory,
     And shines more brightly as the day-light dies;
While one clear star, well known in rythmic story,
     The dearest beauty of the ebon skies,

Is deepening yonder into passionate brightness—
     Into an eloquence unutterable;
Like my loan soul into a calm contriteness—
     A full God-worship, reverent and stable.

Darker and darker grows the pensive west,
     Higher and higher rides the meek-eyed moon;
Deeper and deeper in the Loch’s great breast
     Her shadows saileth to the sphere’s high tune.

 Full of the silent eloquence of Night,
     Touched with the softness of Divinity,
 My spirit ponders o’er that inner light,
     The lustre of whose gleam can never die.

I cannot tell why thoughts have me o’erwhelmed—
     Thoughts of the grave, and all the mysteries
That in the great unknown lie sadly realm’d—
     The border land of wonder sand vain cries.

I am an idle dreamer among men,
     And sadly apt to laugh at Reason’s faith;
But far beyond e’en “mimic Fancy’s” ken
     Lies the almighty truth of Life and Death.

Hid from the softened lustre of the moon,
     Sit I beneath the shadow of that tree,
Whose golden ringlets play i’ the neck of June:
     These dismal thoughts my only company.

 The world is shrouded in a shroud of light:
     The mighty mountains, glorious, eternal—
Those speechless deities of olden night,
     Whose very silence is a choir supernal,

Are cowled, like friars, with a cloud of grey—
     A worship vestment of a woof the fairest—
Like friars, unto God their homage pay,
     Homage from Nature’s self, the purest, rarest.

And in my soul, a sympathetic glow,
     Communicable with the light that lies
On hill and dale, and waters as they flow,
     That breathes from out the sadly-shining skies.

Of Night, Day’s soft-eyed sister, now is born
     Hospitious—a sad joy, a joy in grief:
And I could think of Death until the morn,
     Could think all darkest things, and find relief.

Hush! lone and chilling as the painful wail
     Of a weak child in agony, the sound
Of night-wind haunts the pines of Innishail,
     While brooding Darkness spreads her wing around.

Fair “Isle of Beauty!” fairest Innishail!
     Laden with legends of the olden time,
When pious chantings sanctified the vale,
     And fires were covered at the curfew’s chime.

Faded thy convent as a morning dream
     Of holy happiness; thy altar spoiled!
And she, the fairest! on whose brow the gleam
     Of adoration lay most undefiled,

Is surely praising in a better sphere
     The great God who was all in all to her:
And though her hapless fate may draw a tear,
     Her spotless virtue claims the worshipper.

Sure, happiness is all our own creation,
     For, drawing glory from the soft fair skies,
Her life was but a sunny adumbration
     Of life angelical in Paradise.

O, God of Heaven! and deities immortal!
     My heart weeps out in Adoration’s tears:
For, shining grandly at celestial portal,
     Thy streaming glory gilds a thousand spheres.

And thou, fair moon! mild Cynthia of old!
     I cannot call that loveliness material
Which made the fairest heart of Endymion bold
     To woo a goddess, beautiful, ethereal.

Farewell! and happy what I now have gained
     Of Nature’s love, may serve some future time,
When for new scenes my restless mind is pained—
     For sunny snatches of some foreign clime!

                               Merkland.                                                                                       DAVID GRAY.



The Glasgow Sentinel (2 October, 1858 - p.8)


Review of the Public Reading by Charles Dickens.

The Glasgow Sentinel (9 October, 1858 - p.4)


Robert Owen died on 17th November, 1858. Considering the importance of Owen to Robert Buchanan Snr., I thought this editorial in The Glasgow Sentinel might be of interest.

The Glasgow Sentinel (27 November, 1858 - p.4)


And this is very ‘of its time’.

The Glasgow Sentinel (4 December, 1858 - p.2)




Checking every edition of the 1858 Glasgow Sentinel for adverts for Buchanan’s two poetry books, the following advert appeared in every issue. I still have no idea what ‘Alliance Trousers’ are.


4. The Glasgow Sentinel 1859


The Glasgow Sentinel (1 January, 1859 - p.2)


[Note: I have not transcribed this (perhaps when there’s time...) but the scan of the page is available here.]



The Glasgow Sentinel (1 January, 1859 - p.8)


The Glasgow Sentinel (8 January, 1859 - p.2)

Original Poetry.



TRUTH robes her sons in golden mail,
     And by the Beautiful is given
The loving wings with which we mortals scale
     The palace walls of Heaven.


Thus hearts are open, old and young,
     And, sitting in the seas,
Our little island smiles to-day among
     Her gentlest memories.


To-day the soul which sits and sings
     Over the pious grave of one
Who liveth in the life of all good things,
     Lies dreaming in the sun;


It sitteth at the humblest hearth,
     It talketh in the humblest eyes;
And whispers to the universal earth
     Of beauteous destinies;


We hear it in a thousand songs
     That haunt the peasant’s ingleside,
And its immortal influence prolongs
     Our sorrow as our pride.


When Deity in life and light
     First set this seal on Virtue’s brow,
No meaner beauty marked the silent night,
     And Day was fair as now.


From sea to sea, from land to land,
     Thro’ all the mist of buried years,
To-day we wring our poet by the hand,
     And bless him with our tears.


To-day each manly bosom burns,
     And wantons with the kissing hours;
To-day the nations yearn—as Nature yearns
     To tell her bliss in flowers.


Where Love her perfect seed has sown,
     The rose of Virtue must succeed,
And in one independent act we own
     Heaven’s Motive, half her Deed.


And thus our Right and thus our Might
     Must meet in this our poet’s name,
And Beauty linger in the pious light
     Of his celestial fame.


The laurel which our poet won
     Is mirrored in the simple lore
And love of this dear day—to lead us on
     And upward evermore.


Wise Nature holds her wealth apart,
     From none who seek it side by side,
With Love and Hope; and in our Burns’s heart
     It struggled like a tide.


Our human hopes hang evermore
     Above the earth where he is lain,
Paying a tribute, due as much and more
     To Freedom as to Pain.


A mingled sorrow, awe, and pride,
     Is sitting with us, one and all—
Our human souls are lying open wide,
     Catching the thoughts that fall.


The happy tears that it is ours
     To shed this day, a glorious birth,
Are germs that in the poet’s heart bear flowers,
     Whose fragrance haunts the earth.


The myst’ry of the starry page,
     The riddle of the rolling years,
Are solved in Truth that steps from age to age—
     Compound of smiles and tears.


From off the mountain-peak of song
     He pointed out the after-time,
When the red Right shall spurn the lifeless Wrong,
     And Love arise sublime.


So, gentle meanings sit and sing
     Within the poor man’s heart like birds;
The feelings on his red cheek blossoming
     Sigh out in sunny words.


The people’s harp is old with years,
     The people’s harp is strung with fire;
And he did cleanse it with the costliest tears
     Of a sublime desire.


The spirit, brooding in his eyes,
     Where labour with delight ran loose,
Then sang—to see how Beauty underlies
     Each form of simple use:


The spirit, glorying to pursue
     The shadow of its own amaze,
Then sang—and found the Muse not loathe to woo
     Calm nights and simple days.


Truth robes her sons in golden mail;
     And by the Beautiful is given
The loving wings with which we mortals scale
     The palace-walls of Heaven.


Thus hearts are open, old and young;
     And, sitting in the seas,
Our little island smiles to-day among
     Her choicest memories.


Sweet pieties must bloom apart
     Above our poet’s grave to-day;
And Nature, issuing from her own great heart,
     Her graceful tribute pay.


We would not give the whole world wide,
     For glorious moment such as this is,
When all our sense of sorrow and of pride
     Is drown’d in human blisses.

                                                                                                                         ROBT. W. BUCHANAN.


[Note: To compare like with like, here is Robert Buchanan Snr.’s poem about the Robert Burns Centenary printed in this account of a meeting of ‘The Literary and Artistic Club’ at the King’s Arms Hotel, Trongate, Glasgow in The Glasgow Free Press of 29th January, 1859 - p.4.]



The Glasgow Sentinel (15 January, 1859 - p.1)



“A SHAPE celestial, tending the dark earth with light and silver service as the moon, is poesy,” exquisitely utters the most tenderly-melodious of all our modern poets, and with such a definition we rest contentedly until philosophy shall have given another as widely-embracing, and inspired by sympathies as touchingly intimated, as in the extract we have had the happiness to quote. With such canon before us, it is with misgivings that we at any time pronounce criticism upon the impalpable art, to create which is the poet’s mission. Deterred by misdoubts of limiting by conventional words the thought intentionally, rather suggested than defined, we ever feel the impossibility of attempting such critical analysis of the poetic form of language as may freely be indulged in with the less ideal language of prose. This difficulty becomes daily more palpable, since every addition to our poetical literature confirms its tendency towards this suggestive character, which is the eminent trait of all art in its highest interpretation. A volume of poems now before us, by the author of “Love Lyrics,” betrays ample evidences of the universality of that hopeful tendency to which we have referred, and which marks the most estimable works of the modern poetical school. This is especially a volume of thoughts, undisturbed by any false endeavour to make these rather subservient to the completion of a narrative than to the expression of all their individual meaning may intrinsically suggest. In freeing himself from the practices and traditions of those preceding schools which aimed at a treatment wholly subversive of the practice of our author, he has shown a worthy sympathy with the highest aspirations of his art, and strengthened in no inconsiderable degree the ambitious claims of the school he is a representative of. In our present notice of this volume we have chosen only to review the poem entitled “The Graves,” leaving its further contents for a future occasion. Through a bold flight of that blank verse which has shipwrecked many a hope, we are borne with the poet into nature’s

                 “Holiest sensibilities,
Amid her all eternal solitudes,”

as he has well expressed it, to the scene in which is laid the chief episode of this tale. In this progress we, however, pass many happy thoughts interwoven with the verse by such a simple contiguity as sacrifices nothing of their expression to the story, besides a preconceived unity with its general character. These thoughts, often striking in character, have found, in many instances, a most touching utterance, although spoken of by the poet as

                                           “Little rhymes,
Sad waves of song, infirm perchance as foam,
Yet holy in their vassalage to love;
And out of thee and these my soul shall draw
Wisdom for future years.”

With such confession of his success, we have of course the less reason to expect such fortunate passages as continually recur in the perusal of the poem we quote from, but we none the less pleasantly fall upon these, feeling, as we do, that in writing them the poet must have felt

               “Nature smiled
Upon his musings;”

Even while, as he says,

“I sigh among my melancholy days,
Weak as a wave, and wander like a shade.”

We extract from the first page of this volume the following very forcible intimation of that eternal creative fiat which has borne our earth out of the past, and follows it into the future—

                       “The Earth
Is evermore a mother.”

Like another Alastor, a hero of this tale is pictured:—

“Within the centre of an ancient wood,
Embosoming the beauties of the hours.
           .          .          .          .          .  

Here was his favourite resort—meet bower
For that religion which makes beautiful,
And more than mortal, simple nights and days.”

This gentle poet—

“Who grew grey betimes,”

and of whom his sympathising brother sings he had

“High, sinless thoughts of peace and human weal,
           .           .           .           .           .           .

And Nature was his solitary bride”—

at length is stricken with the tender passion, or as it is picturesquely worded,

“Love, the wandering Arab, had pitched his tent
In a rejoicing heart,”

and so are the lovers carried away—

“Like summer flies upon a silver brook,
They floated on the stream of sympathy.”

From some verses following their confession of a mutual passion we quote the subjoined for its rythmical beauty:—

“Ah! love that lies in gentle eyes,
     Meek maiden love, a violet lowly,
Haunted by thee, to thy white soul seems wed,
Haunted by thee seems ever hallowed:
Thou set’st a glory o’er the early head,
     And mak’st all passion holy.”

As a fine instance of that descriptive form of the poetic art which, through its suggestiveness, excites our interest in the poet’s creation, we give the description of Kate Hathorne, as introduced into the narrative of which she is the heroine:—

“Her form was fairy-like as atomies
     That buzz about our dreams of slumber nightly—
The embodiment of all weird harmonies
     Heard when grey elfins sit in groups unsightly
     Beneath the silver moonshine, as it might be.”

With such extracts we must now rest, contenting ourselves with so far having overtaken an agreeable task, while at the same time believing the notice we have given is sufficient to increase an interest in this recently published volume of verse. Having promise of becoming an acceptable addition to our modern poetical literature, it is wit the more regret that we have hastily perused even that portion of this volume we have particularly chosen to refer to.

                                                                                                                                                 J. D. B.



The Glasgow Sentinel (15 January, 1859 - p.2)


[Note: Again, I have not transcribed this, but the scan of the page is available here.]



Robert Buchanan and The Glasgow Sentinel - continued (iv)








The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law


The Critical Response
Harriett Jay


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