ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)

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ROBERT BUCHANAN AND THE MAGAZINES

POEMS

 

London Poems: I. Temple Bar
 published in Temple Bar (No. 1, December 1860.)

 

Illustrated Times (8 December, 1860 - p.360)

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The Country Curate’s Story
published in The Welcome Guest (December (Christmas) 1860)

 

Illustrated Times (22 December, 1860 - p.389)

     “Snowbound” is the title of the Christmas number of the Welcome Guest, and the manner in which the tales herein are introduced cannot at least be charged with any novelty. A party of travellers waiting for an up-mail train on Christmas Eve find that the snow has fallen in and block up the line. Bored out of their lives, they endeavour to wile away the night by telling each other tales applicable to the season. There is, as will be seen, but little novelty in this idea; but there is a small personal interest interwoven with the threads, and plenty of what may be called “seasonable garnish,” in the shape of snow, frost, firelight, punch, and love-making. But the stories told are really very good indeed: in most of them there is, perhaps, too much of the horrible, but three parts of the world feel au enjoyment in being made to shudder, and here they will find it. The stories of Messrs. Hollingshead, D. Richmond, and the author of “Grandmother’s Money,” are highly melodramatic, but they are pleasantly relieved by a very genial, natural boy’s story, signed “M. E. Braddon” (why don’t people sign Christian names in full? what may be “M. E.’s” sex?); and a capital rattle by Captain Wraxall. A poem, “The Country Curate’s Story,” by Mr. R. Williams Buchanan, is decidedly above the average of such productions. The “Snowbound” is illustrated with several excellent engravings, is in every respect far superior to its last year’s forerunner, and is altogether an amusing and a creditable drawing-room miscellany.

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London Poems: II. The Dead
 published in Temple Bar (No. 2, January 1861.)

 

Illustrated Times (5 January, 1861 - p.11)

     The second number of Temple Bar is a very great improvement on the first; there is more variety in the selection of the articles and a lighter tone throughout. Graver readers are, however, not uncared for; there is a scientific article on “Light,” clearly and intelligibly written, and educing much novel thought; and an admirable description of a coal-mine and colliery explosions, called “What our Coals Cost Us,” and understood to be written by Professor Ansted. Articles of a Household-Words descriptive character are “The Houseless Poor” and “A Visit to the Iron-clad Ship.” Mr. Sala contributes three papers to the number—a complete and concise summary of the events of the year, written with great force, and in its concluding portion with much beauty of expression, called “Annus Mirabilis;” a continuation of the pleasant “Travels in Middlesex;” and the first instalment of his new novel, “The Seven Sons of Mammon,” which promises admirably. Nothing can be better than the description of the millionaire and his surroundings, while so far, at least, the story possesses the grand merit of being kept close to its point, and being free from that diffuse wandering in which its author occasionally indulges. Lovers of old literature will delight in a charming essay on “Robert Herrick,” written in the true spirit of appreciation There are three poems in the number—one by Mr. Stigant; a second of the “London Poems,” full of fine thought and eloquent expression; and a musical song, by Mr. Mortimer Collins.

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London Poems: V. Belgravia
 published in Temple Bar (No. 6, May 1861.)

 

The Evening Herald (2 May, 1861 - p.7)

     Temple Bar flourishes after its manner. “The Seven Sons of Mammon” is the opening story, and is this month, so far as we can see, something more original than last. We detect no “wine” in the present number borrowed without leave or acknowledgement, to use the words of a succeeding paper, “from another man’s vintage,” and this is at least an improvement. “A Jovial Bishop” is a readable and clever paper, “Broad Awake” is sketchy, as Mr. Edmund Yates’ productions not unusually are. “The Real and the Conventional Nigger” should be read at the present time as a counterpoise to the extravagant sympathy in which we are likely to indulge respecting “the men and brethren” of the new American confederation. “For Better, for Worse” is as good as before. “London Poems: Belgravia” is musical and readable; “Clouds” contains some good thoughts; a sketch of “Elizabeth Berkeleigh, Margravine of Anspach,” is respectable; “John’s Wife” is an agreeable story; “On Quacks” is well written, if not very original; “In the Temple Gardens” is well told; and “Three Times” embodies a good idea in three sweet verses. The little poem, in fact, is a perfect gem.

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London Poems: VI. A City Preacher
published in Temple Bar (No. 8, July 1861.)

 

The Evening Herald (4 July, 1861 - p.7)

     Temple Bar is up to its average. The inevitable “Seven Sons of Mammon” commences the number; “The Burg- keeper’s Secret” is a good story; “Chalk” contains a good deal of readable and enjoyable information about those white cliffs of Albion for the neighbourhood of which every one in London is sighing; “Aged Forty” is not worth criticism; “Holy Mr. Herbert” is one of those excellent papers upon minor celebrities of the past which Temple Bar would do well to make a specialty; “Spell-bound” is a short but tolerably good story; “Of the Mountebank Family” records the popular history of the gladiators and fun-makers of old in a sufficiently pleasant fashion; “London Poems” contains “A City Preacher,” very well written; “For Better for Worse” drags its slow length along; “Told at Frascati” reads well; “In Loco Parentis” deserves like commendation; and the concluding piece is some poetry of good quality, suggested by Mr. Holman Hunt’s wonderful picture “Christ in the Temple.” We must not forget to mention as part of the number a complacent, self-satisfied preface, by Mr. Sala, to the volume just concluded.

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Baby Grace
published in The St. James’s Magazine (June 1862.)

[Note: I have omitted the long extracts from the poem in two of the following reviews.]

 

The Belfast News-Letter (7 June, 1862)

ST. JAMES’S MAGAZINE. London: W. Kent & Co., Paternoster Row.

THE June number of this magazine ably sustains its reputation as one of the leading monthlies. Mrs. Hall has retired from the editorship, but the spirit and life of the periodical are well maintained in other hands. At a time when Iron v. Wood has been and is occupying so much of the public attention, the opening paper in the present month’s issue, on “Shot and Shields,” will be read with interest by all who desire to see the status of the nation supported at home and abroad. The writer says—“The introduction into the service of rifled ordnance has induced the majority of the public to believe that some entirely new facts have been lately discovered in connexion with ‘projectiles.’ Such a conclusion, however, is erroneous; for the same principles which influenced the stone flung from the sling of David, or the arrows discharged by our archers at Agincourt, also affect the flight of round shot, shells, and elongated cannon shot.” Albany Fonblanque’s romance of “A Tangled Skein” has reached chapter 17, and increases in its fascinating influence over the mind of the reader as it proceeds. “Death at the Altar” is one of those excellent, brief tales which are being more generally introduced into the light reading of the magazines of the present. There is also, continued, “The Disinherited,” a tale of Mexican life. Amongst the papers on scientific subjects, conveying a vast amount of information, is one by Mr. J. Scoffern, M.B., on “Ceramic Ware,” in which the manufacture of pottery-ware and porcelain is ably treated. There is also an admirable paper by Mr. T. A. Masey, entitled, “Under the Sea and Through the Earth,” in which the telegraph, as a shortener of time and space, is noticed, and the extraordinary speed attained on several occasions in sending intelligence “under the sea and through the earth” set forth in a very happy, readable style. But there yet remains, amongst others, one production of genius in the number before us which is value, in itself, for quadruple the price of the entire. We refer to Mr. R. Williams Buchanan’s beautiful poem—“Baby Grace.” The reader who loves poetry bearing the true impress of one of Nature’s own poets will be enraptured with this piece. An extract or two—and it is difficult to make such where all is so superior—will best show the nature of the poem, and its surpassing excellence:—

[Extract: 85 lines.]

     Many, no doubt, will become purchasers of the “St. James’s” that they may possess this excellent piece of genuine poetry.

___

 

The Derby Mercury (11 June, 1862)

     St. James’s Magazine opens with a paper on “Shot and Shields,” containing a good many facts pretty well known before, and such harmless stuff as this:—“The larger the surface of the shot which has to force its way through the air, the greater will be the resistance.” The staff of St. James’s does not seem equal to this class of subjects, and the Magazine is far stronger in fiction than in anything else. Mr. R. W. Buchanan has not equalled the winning playfulness of Mr. Bennett’s “Baby May” in “Baby Grace,” but there is a sort of mournful lovingness in the latter which compensates in some measure for the lack of Mr. Bennett’s brightness. “Under the Sea and Through the Earth” is a useful summary of the present position of the art of telegraphing.

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The Standard (13 June, 1862)

     The St. James’s is a more than tolerable number. “Shot and Shields,” the first article, is a readable popular exposition of the controversy between the advocates of iron projectiles and iron sides. “A Tangled Skein,” by Mr. Albany Fonblanque, is of a surety tangled enough, but the unwinding of it is amusing. “Baby Grace,” by Mr. R. Williams Buchanan, is one of the sweetest and most pathetic poems we have ever had the fortune to read. No one who is or has ever been a parent can read it without being deeply affected; no one at all can read it without pleasure. If Mr. Buchanan had never written anything else “Baby Grace” would stamp him as a poet of no common order. A review of the lately published “Memoir of Professor Forbes;” a paper on “Modern French Society;” and “Death at the Altar,” a queer tale, succeed; and the other papers worth notice are “Ceramic Ware” and “Under the Sea and through the Earth,” an account of submarine telegraphy.

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The Hampshire Advertiser (14 June, 1862 - p.7)

ST. JAMES’S MAGAZINE FOR JUNE.

     We continue to miss, with feelings of regret, the contributions of Mrs. Hall. The present manager, however, is rallying about him a few writers whose efforts are calculated to help the work over severe difficulties, although, as yet, there is abundance of room to mend the position. There is a good article on “Shot and Shields,” a subject profusely handled of late. The writer thinks that such a vessel as the Warrior could disperse a whole fleet of Monitors and Merrimacs,  which, though formidable in the smooth waters near the coasts, and against wooden ships, would be but feeble antagonists on the Atlantic, and when opposed to such an enemy as the Warrior. There is a pretty poem—imperfect in some respects, yet charming withal—from the pen of R. Williams Buchanan. It will, we are sure, be read with impassioned interest by all mothers, very many fathers, and by the thousands of loving maidens who regard babyhood with those proper feelings with which Nature has inspired them. It is a graceful history of

BABY GRACE.

[Extract: verse 1-5, 9-10, 12-13.]

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John Keats in Cloudland
published in The St. James’s Magazine (July 1863.)

 

The Caledonian Mercury (4 July, 1863)

     ST JAMES’S MAGAZINE abounds with a number of literary trifles more or less readable. Every thing in general, and nothing in particular—from the “Roman Police” to “Scenes at Epsom” and “Antiquarian Researches in Morayshire”—seem to be alluded to incidentally if not specially. There is a very excellent poetic contribution by R. Williams Buchanan, entitled “John Keats in Cloudland.” “Royal Favourites” is a continuation of former chapters on Court history, and is, perhaps, the most substantial and informing article of the number.

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Willie Baird
published in The Cornhill Magazine (March 1865.)

 

Illustrated Times (4 March, 1865 - p.138)

     The Cornhill contains another of the Garibaldi papers (“Iserna: L’Addio”), which we have all found so pleasant before now, and which we can so easily trace home to the authors, for the pens of husband and wife are both visible in them. “The General, by way of recompense, gave me a piece of roast lamb.” What a picture! Garibaldi handing a gentleman a dab of cold meat like the keeper of a slap-bang shop! The article is very good indeed, and let us hope we shall see these papers collected into a volume, with additions—if any are necessary. The Cornhill has one very unusual feature—a poem, in blank verse, eleven pages long! “Willie Baird, a Winter Idyll,” is, I guess, by Robert Buchanan. It is a Scottish pastoral, broadly distinguished from any “idylls” I have lately been accustomed to see by the novelty of its music and the severe simplicity of its whole manner. Those who go to it for Tennysonian echoes will be disappointed; for it is original—neither “ornate,” nor “grotesque,” but “pure in style—a very touching story, truthfully told, of a beloved little boy who was lost in the snow:—

A tiny, trembling tot, with yellow hair;
A tiny, poor-clad tot, six summers old.

Mr. Du Maurier’s illustrations to “Wives and Daughters” are superlatively good.

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Langley Lane
published in Good Words (August 1865.)

 

Illustrated Times (5 August, 1865 - p.71)

     In Good Words we have again some excellent Holy-Land illustrations—one that is as large as four pages of the magazine. Robert Buchanan is welcome in “Langley Lane,” and Ricardo Smith is really good in “Alfred Hagart’s Household.” By-the-by, our welcome of “Langley Lane”—a very sweet poem—must not be taken as committing us to the psychology or to the truthfulness of the sentiment. Grant the poet these, however, and his work is beautiful.

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Hermioné
published in The Argosy (No. 1, December 1865.)

 

The Hampshire Advertiser (2 December, 1865 - p.7)

THE ARGOSY, A MAGAZINE FOR THE FIRESIDE
AND THE JOURNEY.

     Most of the magazines have seen the world in the first instance in the month of January/ This sixpenny youngster has had a kind of premature birth, and is born on the first of December. It is healthy, however, and likely to live, provided it is carefully nursed and cared for. The illustrations of Number One are excellent, quite equal to its higher-priced rivals. The hunting scene is spirited and in all respects thoroughly artistic. That of Hermioné is a perfect picture of Beauty and Affection. Some architectural vignettes charmingly illustrate an article entitled “The Infiorata of Genzano.” It is too soon to judge of Charles Reade’s story, “Griffith Gaunt,” from the first four chapters, yet there is an air of promise about it, and the reader will probably be wound up to the desired point of interest as the incidents are developed. The author is not the man to let matters lag by the way. We have here some of the broad peculiarities of his quaint style. Miss Jean Ingelow’s poem of “Sand-Martins” is pleasingly descriptive, and yet devoid of any deep poetic fervour. Miss Isa Craig has some versification, entitled “On Board the Argosy.” The reader may judge of the whole by this sample of the opening lines—

Our thoughts are ships that go,
Blown by a breath, and with their fit words freighted,
All up and down the world; we never know,
When we have sent them forth, if they are fated
To find a haven, or to sink below
Oblivion’s waters that about them flow;
Whether they’ll come again, with riches weighted,
Having made merchandize
With other thoughts—exchange that duly rated
Each gives yet gains the prize—
Or running swift aground,
Be left amid the ooze to drift and flounder;
Or unseaworthy found
In the first stress of weather leak and founder.

We are presented with a vivid description of “The Round of Life in Bokhara,” by an Hungarian traveller—Arminius Vambery—who, it is expected, will deliver a lecture at the Hartley Institution in the early part of next year. A paper called “An Apology for the Nerves” is not so seriously treated altogether as the subject deserves. We have much pleasure in transferring the following poem to our columns:—

HERMIONE.

[Extract: complete poem.]

     We are led to suppose that the above neatly-expressed thoughts in “rollicking rhyme” are from the able pen of Mr. Robert Buchanan. There are various other papers in this new-comer which demand our hearty welcome, and as first Numbers are not always the best, we may expect matters to mend when the whole of the crew, including the skipper himself, are all on board the Argosy. We wish them a pleasant and a prosperous voyage.

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Artist and Model
published in The Argosy (January 1866.)

 

The Patriot (11 January, 1866 - p.26)

     The Argosy presents us with another instalment of Charles Reade’s promising story, “Griffith Gaunt,” and of George Macdonald’s poetic account of “A Journey Rejourneyed.” Mrs. Oliphant contributes a short but interesting story entitled a “Hidden Treasure,” Citoyenne B. a graphic sketch of the “Bourgeois of Paris,” Henry Kingsley a picture of New Year’s-day at Windsor, 1327; and Robert Buchanan a London poem entitled “Artist and Model,” full of beauty and pathos. It is no easy task to find a place for a new magazine, but the conductors of the Argosy are evidently determined at all events to deserve success, and we can only trust that their hopes will be fully realised.

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Hugo the Bastard
published in Temple Bar (October 1866.)

 

The Guardian (3 October, 1866)

     Temple Bar is rather a good number. Not indeed so far as regards Mrs. Wood, who is tantalising, nor as concerns Mr. Charles Clarke’s “Tale of the War,” which if untrue would be simply bad. It is a story of Prussian oppressions at Frankfort, and ends with a duel where both the combatants are killed, the suicide of a girl who loved one of them, and the moral ruin and suicide of her brother. As a piece of fiction this sort of thing has been done—to use an Americanism—time and again, and if it was not drawn from the late war, it would have been thrown aside for want of all novelty. The justice of drawing such morals from the late war becomes rather questionable when we remember the Austrian report of the conduct of the victorious Prussians. If Mr. Clarke has any facts to support him, they should be forthcoming; but if not, we think his tale should have remained untold. There is a tragic, rather powerful, poem of Robert Buchanan’s, which remind us too much of Robert Browning, but is much more than a mere imitation; one or two light gossiping papers of home and foreign travel, one by Mr. Lord on Vancouver Island, and the other by Professor Ansted on the Inactive Craters of Vesuvius.

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Charmian
published in The Broadway (No. 1, 15 August 1867.)

 

The Standard (15 August, 1867 - p.6)

THE BROADWAY.
_____

     It is scarcely possible that the first number of a new magazine should be its best, though it is not too much to expect that it should give something better than a faint foretaste of its future. The first number of The Broadway is now before us; to-day it will be before the public.

. . .

The poetry of Mr. Robert Buchanan possesses the subtle charm of simplicity of style, associated with depth and intensity of feeling; and amongst his later productions is nothing so melodious in versification, so tender and graceful in expression, as the lyric termed “Charmian.” His singular felicity of phrase, though here and there almost too florid and too elaborately wrought, is linked with the story of a love which never came to maturity, and of an opportunity neglected. Having escaped from the spell of Mr. Buchanan’s pleasing fancies, the reader will be rather cooled by a perusal of Mr. John Hollingshead’s article entitled “Dramatic Critics Criticised.” . . .

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A Blind Man’s Love
published in Routledge’s Christmas Annual (December 1869.)

 

Illustrated Times (4 December, 1869)

     Routledge’s Annual contains a good deal of pleasant reading, besides a poem of extreme beauty by Mr. Robert Buchanan. It is entitled “A Blind Man’s Love.” Mrs. Lynn Linton, Hesba Stretton, Annie Thomas, Mr. W. W. Fenn, and Mr. W. Sawyer are among the contributors. High praise is due to Miss Adelaide Claxton’s “Six Stages on the Journey of French Life;” there is a good deal to study in it.

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Phil Blood’s Leap and The Ballad of Judas Iscariot
published in The Saint Pauls Magazine (February 1872.)

[Note: Buchanan’s name was not attached to either poem. Phil Blood’s Leap: A Tale of the Gambusinos was ‘by the author of “St. Abe and his Seven Wives.”’ The Ballad of Judas Iscariot was published anonymously. The February edition of the magazine also included Buchanan’s essay on Dickens, ‘The “Good Genie” of Fiction’.]

 

The Newcastle Courant (9 February, 1872)

LOCAL NOTES
BY SPECTATOR.

. . .

     Has the reader seen St. Paul’s for this month? If not, he should get a hold of it without delay. In “Phil Blood’s Leap,” and “The Ballad of Judas Iscariot,” two splendid poems which it contains, a rich and rare treat awaits him. “Phil Blood’s Leap” very much reminds one, especially in style, of “Jane Conquest,” a beautiful, popular poem from the pen of Mr James Milne, of our own town. Of “The Ballad of Judas Iscariot” it would be impossible to speak in too warm terms of praise. The story is one of the weirdest ever told in the English language. Let any man try to read it, all alone in his room, about midnight; and, unless possessed of more than ordinary human nerve, he will think that, after all, he is not alone but has some strange companions beside him.

’Twas the body of Judas Iscariot
     Lay in the Field of Blood;
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
     Beside the body stood.

Then “the soul” resolved to bury “the body” “deep beneath the soil lest mortals look thereon;” but he could not find a spot of earth that would relieve him of his fearful load.

And as he bare it from the field
     Its touch was cold as ice,
 And the ivory teeth within the jaw
     Rattled aloud like dice.

As the soul of Judas Iscariot
     Carried its load with pain,
The eye of heaven, like a lanthorn’s eye,
     Open’d and shut again.

Half he walk’d, and half he seemed
     Lifted on the cold wind;
He did not turn, for chilly hands
     Were pushing from behind.

He tried to throw the body into a stagnant pool; but “it floated light as wool.” For days and nights he wandered on, but could not find a spot that would kindly be a grave for his corpse. At last he “perceived a far-off light.” Hastening to the place, he found it was a beautiful palace where a marriage-feast was being held. He dared not enter, but wandered up and down, round the palace. The guests hearing his terrible moans and discovering that it was Judas, entreated the Bridegroom to “scourge” him “away into the night.” The Bridegroom, however, was more merciful than that, for going out to the door—

’Twas the body of Judas Iscariot
     Floated away full fleet,
And the wings of the doves that bare it off
     Were like its winding-sheet.

’Twas the Bridegroom stood at the open door,
     And beckon’d, smiling sweet;
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
     Stole in, and fell at his feet.

“The Holy Supper is spread within,
     And the many candles shine,
And I have waited long for thee
     Before I poured the wine!”

The Supper wine is poured at last,
     The lights burn bright and fair,
Iscariot washes the Bridegroom’s feet,
     And dries them with his hair.

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The Sun & Central Press (10 February, 1872 - p.8)

     St. Paul’s Magazine has dispensed with its illustrations, but the general good character of the literature continues undiminished. In the present number there is a remarkable article on the “Art of Beauty,” in which the writer advises all fat people to wear nothing but black clothes, “decently made,” and advocates that ladies (who need them) should use almost any cosmetics not injurious to health. The argument in favour of cosmetics commences thus. “There is not any more harm or degradation in avowedly hiding defects of complexion, or touching the face with pink or white, than in padding the dress, piercing the ears, or replacing a lost tooth; nor can half the objections be urged against the practice that can be urged against that of wearing false hair. It seems to me generally a harmless, and in some cases a most necessary and decent practice.” The clever author of the poem, “St. Abe and his Seven Wives,” contributes some fresh verses to the magazine, under the title of “Phil Blood’s Leap,” a Tale of the Gambusinos (Goldseekers). The poem is a defence of the Indians, against whom the white gold-diggers have a strange aversion, and look upon as so many snakes. Phil Blood is a white man of desperate temperament, who resolves to kill a certain Indian who has been lucky in finding gold and food. Phil pursues the Indian on the latter’s return from hunting one day, and in attempting to clear a precipice, over which the frightened Indian has bounded, misses his footing, and is on the point of rolling into the abyss beneath, when the Indian turns hastily round, grasps the ruffian’s hands, and saves him. The description of this exciting scene is concluded with these words:—

Saved? True for you! By an Injin too! and the man he meant to kill,
There all alone on the brink of stone, I see them standing still;
Phil Blood gone white with the struggle and fright, like a great mad bull at bay,
And the Injin meanwhile, with a half-skeered smile, ready to spring away.
What did Phil do? Well, I watched the Two, and saw Phil Blood turn back,
Then he went to the brink and took a blink into the chasm black,
Then stooping low, for a moment or so, he drew his bowie bright,
And he chucked it down the gulf with a frown, and whistled and lounged from sight.
And after that day he changed his play, and kept a civiller tongue.
And whenever an Injin came that way, his contrary head he hung—
But whenever he heard the lying word, “Its a lie!” Phil Blood would groan;
“A snake is a snake, make no mistake! but an Injin’s flesh and bone.”

The poem is written with vigour, and every verse is suggestive of American sharpness and wit. It is not, however, likely to meet with the same popularity as “St. Abe,” as a single incident only is dealt with, and that not of an original kind. The description of the Duke of Argyll by Mr. Holbeach is a bold composition. Mr. Holbeach predicts that we may yet expect a new and fine book from the hand of the Duke, and he asserts that he has seen that much of his grace’s equanimity and cautiousness is inherited by the Marquis of Lorne, in whose character there also seems to be another quality which “he has often noticed as the promise of a late but powerful maturity.”

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Glasgow Herald (10 February, 1872)

THE MAGAZINES.
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     Saint Pauls.—In the continuation of the late Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Romance of Immortality,” there is some excellent writing, with the faint cropping up of a new tragic element in the double form of incompatibility in the temperament of the two lovers, and of a mysterious document which will probably turn out to contain directions for the attainment of immortality on this earth. There is a capital article by Mr Robert Buchanan on Dickens, who is happily designated “The ‘Good Genie’ of Fiction.” There is a poem entitled “Supreme Love,” by John Banks, who, if we mistake not, is also Robert Buchanan. Again, “The Ballad of Judas Iscariot,” although unsigned, is wonderfully like a coin of Mr Buchanan’s mintage. We have also a clever and characteristic poem by the author of “St Abe and his Seven Wives.” Henry Holbeach and Matthew Browne have each an article a piece. These apparent two are one and the same person, whose real name, however, is neither Holbeach nor Browne. Mr Buchanan makes some strong statements regarding Dickens. “The world,” he says,” has decided long ago that Dickens was beyond all parallel the greatest imaginative creator of this generation, and that his poetry (the best of it), although written in unrhymed speech, is worth more, and will probably last longer, than all the verse-poetry of this age, splendid as some of that poetry has been.” This is decidedly generous on the part of the critic, but we should doubt if it is altogether an accurate prophecy. Of Mr Buchanan’s criticisms on Dickens’ humour we quote one passage:—

     “Shakespeare’s humour, even more than Chaucer’s, is of the very essence of divine quiddity. Between Shakespeare and Dickens, only one humorist of the truly divine sort arose, fluted magically for a moment, and passed away, leaving the Primrose family as his legacy to posterity. Swift’s humour was of the earth, earthy; Gay’s was shrill and wicked; Fielding’s was judicial, with flashes of heavenlike promise; Smollett’s was cumbrous and not spiritualising; Sterne’s was a mockery and a lie (shades of Uncle Toby and Widow Wadman, forgive us, but it is true!); and, not to catalogue till the reader is breathless, Scott’s was feudal, with all the feudal limitations, in spite of his magnificent scope and depth. Entirely without hesitation we affirm that there is more true humour, and, consequently, more helpful love, in the pages of Dickens than in all the writers we have mentioned put together; and that, in quality, the humour of Dickens is richer, if less harmonious, than that of Aristophanes; truer and more human than that of Rabelais, Swift, or Sterne; more distinctly unctuous than even that of Chaucer, in some respects the finest humorist of all; a head and shoulders over Thackeray’s, because Thackeray’s satire was radically unpoetic; certainly inferior to that of Shakespeare only, and inferior to his in only one respect—that of humorous pathos. It is needless to say that in the last-named quality Shakespeare towers supreme, almost solitary. Falstaff’s death-bed scene is, taken relatively to the preceding life, and history, and rich unction of Sir John, the most wonderful blending of comic humour and divine tenderness to be found in any book—infinite in its suggestion, tremendous in its quaint truth, penetrating to the very depths of life, while never disturbing the first strange smile on the spectator’s face. Yes; and therefore overflowing with unutterable love.”

Mr Holbeach continues his articles on “Literary Statesmen.” His present subject is the Duke of Argyll, whom he describes as being “in politics and sociology a Conservative-Liberal; and if that phrase were admissible in another  sphere, it would be applicable to the Duke as a thinker in theology and philosophy. His intellect moves with great caution, and not without something of the spirit which expresses itself in the proverbial saying—‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’” The writer says of his Grace that “there is no speculative knight-errantry about him. He feels his way in every subject that he touches, and even with a degree of punctiliousness which has an effect not quite cheerful.” “There was,” continues Mr Holbeach, “a Scotch Professor of Logic who, being urged to go and fight a duel with a man who called him a liar, said, with perfect bonhomie—‘What for fight him? Let ’em pruv it, sir; let ’em pruv it.’ It is the same in all his writings.” These indicated features of the Duke’s character as a thinker Mr Holbeach proceeds to illustrate in a very happy manner, and the whole article, we may say, is as well written as it is interesting. The ballad of “Judas Iscariot” is a curious, indeed, a fine production, the last three verses whereof will show what final fate the poet assigns to the man whom all the world regards as a traitor:—

“’Twas the Bridegroom stood at the open door,
     And beckon’d, smiling sweet;
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
     Stole in, and fell at his feet.

‘The Holy Supper is spread within,
     And the many candles shine,
And I have waited long for thee
     Before I poured the wine!’

The supper wine is poured at last,
     The lights burn bright and fair;
Iscariot washes the Bridegroom’s feet,
     And dries them with his hair.”

___

 

The Newcastle Courant (16 February, 1872)

LITERARY NOTICES.

. . .

     The Saint Paul’s Magazine. (London; Strahan and Co., 56, Ludgate Hill.)—“Saint Paul’s” is remarkably brilliant this month. While all the prose contributions, with, perhaps, one exception, are of a decidedly superior character, the two poems—“Phil Blood’s Leap,” by the able author of “St. Abe and His Seven Wives,” and “The Ballad of Judas Iscariot”—are the finest things of the kind that have appeared lately. Our correspondent “Spectator,” it will be remembered, noticed them at some length last week, and we greatly mistake if they do not have the effect of running the current number of “St. Paul’s” into more than the usual one edition.

_____

 

Seraphina Snowe
published in The Saint Pauls Magazine (April 1872.)

 

The Nonconformist (3 April, 1872)

     The other magazines of Messrs. Strahan and Co. may be noticed in a single paragraph. St. Paul’s is good, but wants relief. Hawthorne’s “Septimus” is subtle, but unfinished and unsatisfactory, becoming, indeed, more and more so as we go on. Miss Ingelow’s story is more enjoyable. Walter Hutcheson surely has some arrière pensée in “Criticism as a Fine Art,” which, however, is clever; but why does he not cite Mr. Matthew Browne among the critics, whose personality is frequently communicated with peculiar strength! The “Saint Abe” ballad is not so good as we should expect; it wants local colouring.

___

 

Glasgow Herald (9 April, 1872)

     Saint Pauls.—Hawthorne’s “Septimus: a Romance of Immortality,” winds slowly and curiously along.

. . .

“B.”—Mr Robert Buchanan, we presume—has an able and characteristic poem on Mazzini. Mr Walter Hutcheson writes a sort of clever, snappy, happy-go-lucky sort of paper on “Criticism as One of the Fine Arts.” He declares that “scientific criticism is fudge—as sheer fudge as scientific poetry, as scientific painting; but criticism does belong to the fine arts; and, for that reason, its future prospects are positively unlimited.” “Criticism now-a-days,” he says, “simply means (it is doubtful whether at any time it has meant much more) the impression produced on certain minds by certain  products.” Listen to how certain things and persons impress Mr Walter Hutcheson:—

[Extracts.]

“Seraphina Snowe” is the title of a poem by the author of “St. Abe and his Seven Wives.” The present production is clever, but it seems to increase the already existing suspicion that the author is not an American but an Englishman, if not a Scotchman. The article on “Our Dinners” is worthy of being carefully studied by all who are in the habit of giving dinners or of eating them.

_____

 

Faces on the Wall
published in The Saint Pauls Magazine (May 1872.)

 

Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury (18 May, 1872 - p.2)

     ST. PAUL’S has altered its outside garb, but in our judgment the alteration is not an improvement. It apes the ancient style of covers, and looks old fashioned. “Child-life as seen by the poets,” is a charming paper, one of the most perfect illustrations of the motto of the magazine. “A neat repast, light and choice, of Attic taste.” “Body and Character,” is a scrappy bit of writing on the relation of the mind and body, a subject treated very fully in one of the older numbers of the Quarterly. A single paragraph in that paper contained more stuff than the four pages of Henry Holbeach’s meandering gossip. Walter Hutcheson writes a pathetic paper, sadly too true, under the dolorous plaint, “Pity the poor Drama!” How low dramatic writing has fallen, who does not know? but still let every lover of the legitimate drama read this lament for himself. “Love in Heaven,” will have its readers; but the “Funeral of Mr. Maurice,” will win for itself a wider circle of attraction. The poetry of the number is by Robert Buchanan, and the author of “St. Abe and his Seven Wives.” Buchanan’s “Faces on the Wall,” consists of a beautiful series of sonnets. Miss Ingelow’s tale grows in fascination, and Septimius grows in weirdness. Aunt Kezia dies, despite her elixir of life; and Septimius is more than ever bent on discovering the one lacking ingredient to make it potent to ward off death.

_____

 

John Mardon, Mariner: his Strange Adventures in El Dorado
published in The Saint Paul’s Magazine (July, September and October 1872.)

 

Glasgow Herald (10 September, 1872)

     Saint Pauls.—Miss Jean Ingelow’s story, “Off the Skelligs,” moves rather slowly and unsensationally along. The weakness of the tale seems to be its superabundance of talk and its poverty of incident. The strange adventures in El Dorado of “John Mardon, Mariner,” by the author of “St. Abe,” has advanced into the second part, but is not yet finished. There is some quaint and curious versification in the poem, and the local colouring is pretty true to South America, though here and there perhaps slightly overdone. We have next a slight sketch of the Italian Poet Filicaia, with a fine and faithful, rather than a brilliant analysis of his poetry. Then comes a portion of “An Old Letter,” containing a brief but keenly and cunningly wrought effort of storyology, by Catherine Saunders. Under the title “Head Dresses,” M. E. Haweis supplies a singularly interesting paper on colour, which might be perused with advantage by readers of both sexes. We shall just give a taste of it by quoting a couple of passages:—

. . .

Mr Walter Hutcheson discourses on “Prose and Verse” with good sense and some acuteness. One passage will show partly what he means:—

[Extract.]

___

 

The Newcastle Courant (13 September, 1872)

     Saint Paul’s Magazine.—(London: Strahan & Co., 56, Ludgate Hill.)—“Off the Skelligs,” by Jean Ingelow, still runs on. In this month’s “Literary Legislators” we have a sketch of Sir John Lubbock, M.P., and under the title of “Editors and Correspondents” “a disgusted journalist” narrates some amusing experiences. The author of “St. Abe and his Seven Wives” gives us the second part of “John Mardon, Mariner.” Though written by one to whom South American forests are clearly familiar, and who has already given evidence of poetic talent, it must be said that Part II. is scarcely equal to Part I.—certainly in beauty nothing like an extract from another coming poem, which appeared a number or two back, and of which we gave a specimen. The writer has had his eye on “The Ancient Mariner,” but if he thinks he can rival the weirdness of that ballad by a free use of capital letters, and quaint phraseology, he is mistaken. In the description of the journey through the forest, the very awfulness of the scenery, and the terrible dangers surrounding the gold  seekers, cause a monotony which there is no incident to relieve. But despite these objections, “John Mardon, Mariner” is worth reading. The other matter in the magazine consists of “Rambles in Sussex,” “Filicaia,” “An Old Letter,” “Headdresses,” &c.

_____

 

O’Murtogh
published in Scribner’s Monthly (December 1872 -Vol V, pp.181-181.)

 

The Nation (28 November, 1872 - Vol. XV, pp.353-354)

     Mr. Robert Buchanan, whose business it appears to have become to put into verse whatever is momentarily attracting the attention of the public, has been utilising the Irish question, and in a poem called “Murtough”—which treats of the hanging of a “Boy”—he surpasses even himself in false pathos and commonplace thought. As for the verse and diction, most Englishmen and Scotchmen who have undertaken the imitation of Irish dialects—most of them, by the bye, being ignorant that there are more dialects than one—have succeeded in making themselves a spectacle to gods and men; but Mr. Buchanan, when he comes, slaughters and exterminates patience once for all and dashes forbearance into flinders.

_____

 

The Great Snow [from White Rose and Red]
published in The Saint Pauls Magazine (February 1873.)

 

The Sun & Central Press (8 February, 1873 - p.3)

     The best thing by far in St. Paul’s Magazine is “The Year of the Great Snow,” a most spirited poem by the author of “St. Abe and his Seven Wives.” The approach of that storm, as terrible almost as that which has just swept over Minnesota, is told with great graphic power. The other poem, “Dorothy,” is also very good. Mr. Herne gives an interesting account of some of the leading markets and fairs in Europe.

_____

 

The Ship of Folly
published in The Saint Pauls Magazine (February 1874.)

 

Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury (21 February, 1874 - p.12)

     ST. PAUL’S is a very good number. “The Sherlocks” is winning favour, and “the Tales from ‘Belkin’” are more weird and strange. “Calderon’s martyr-plays” is a thoughtful critical paper, and is worth the cost of the whole number. “The Ship of Folly,” by the author of “White Rose and Red” is excellent. When will this unknown Knight lower his visor that we may know who he is? There are other papers of interest, among which is the amusing one entitled “The Apotheosis of the Policeman.” Matthew Brown has not done anything better for some time.

_____

 

Granddad in the Ingle
published in Cassell’s Magazine (March 1874.)

 

The Spectator (14 March, 1874)

In Cassell’s Magazine there is a real treat for its readers, in Mr. Buchanan’s fine ballad, “Granddad in the Ingle.” He has done nothing better than this terrible, grim story of the old buccaneer, who, in the cheery homeliness of Christmas at the farm, sits wrapped in his old age, dull, sightless, senseless, until he wakes suddenly to the memory of his great crime, and the arousing dart kills him. The imagery is fine and consistent throughout,—in the exterior of the old man,—

“As still he sat as a cold grey stone
     Upon the lone sea sands,
His thin grey hair as white as foam,
     Like drifting weeds his hands;”

and in the interior, where

“Ever the life he lived went on
     Within his soul alone;
To all the wash of the waves of life,
     He kept as cold as stone.”

The motive is thoroughly preserved, and the close most effective.

___

 

Erôs Athanatos
published in The Gentleman’s Magazine (May 1874.)

 

The Bradford Observer (2 May, 1874 - p.6)

LITERATURE.
_____

PUBLICATIONS FOR MAY.
[FIRST NOTICE.]

     The Gentleman’s Magazine is, as usual, spirited and entertaining. Mr. Francillon’s “Olympia” will, we imagine, place that gentleman in a still higher position on the roll of modern British novelists than the one he has previously enjoyed. There is a wonderful breadth of grasp in “Olympia,” the characters are life-like, and the tone and sentiment of the novel are charming. “The Official Member” is the title of a paper by “the Member for the Chiltern Hundreds.” Like the article in last month’s number, it is clever, witty, and sharply critical. The “member” hits off the different characteristics of the new Ministry very happily. Mr. John H. Ingram contributes an article on “Edgar Allan Poe’s Early Poems,” which contains a good deal of interesting matter concerning the poet which was not before known. Mr. Robert Buchanan, who is now the self-avowed author of “White Rose and Red,” has a poem, on an ancient model, which he entitles “Erôs Athanatos.” It is very good, containing many beautiful lines; but it only serves to increase our wonder that Mr. Buchanan does not stick to the homelier themes that his muse was formerly content to soar amongst. Mr. Blanchard Jerrold’s paper on “Shirley Brooks” gives us a very interesting picture of the late editor of Punch as he appeared to his intimate friends. Mr. Joseph Hatton’s novel, “Clytie,” is concluded in this number. The Gentleman’s Magazine has made a bold bid for popular favour since its new editor took it in hand, and it is not too much to say that at present it is not distanced in point of attractiveness and ability by any of its compeers.

___

 

The Hull Packet and East Riding Times (15 May, 1874)

     The Gentleman’s Magazine is unquestionably improving under the new management. The editor is surrounding himself with writers of manifest ability, and some rich promises are added to the store of good things with which he presents us this month. M. Francillon’s “Olympia” has developed, as we anticipated it would do, into an admirable novel—far superior, in our estimation, to his “Zelda’s Fortune;” and its continuing chapters will be looked forward to with intense interest. The second instalment of “Men and Manners in Parliament”—by the Member for the Chiltern Hundreds—deals with “the official member,” in which the writer chattily contrasts the members of the present Cabinet with those who preceded them under the old régime, and gives us a very interesting sketch of the interior economy, so to speak, of Parliament. “Erôs Athanatos” is the title of an exquisitely written poem, by the author of “White Rose and Red,” and the nuptial night of Hyacinthus and Irene is one of the richest conceptions we have read for many a long day. Mr. Blanchard Jerrold contributes a kindly reminiscence of his friend, the late Shirley Brooks, who, as the writer observes, “fell into his long sleep leaving hosts of friends to mourn him, and not an enemy, that I ever heard of, to assail his memory.” Here also we have another sketch of the waterside that will be devoured by anglers with as much avidity as the May-fly is by the trout on the “rampage.” These sketches, by “Red Spinner,” are intensely interesting, and just at this time are calculated not only to entertain the disciple of the “gentle art,” but to teach him a “wrinkle or two,” which will be well worth knowing. There are other interesting chapters in the current number, including one by Mr. John H. Ingram, on “Edgar Allen Poe’s Early Poems;” a sketch of the “Peace Manœuvres of England,” by a Field Officer, and others. The last-named is to be concluded in the June number, in anticipation of the grand sham fight at Aldershot. The conclusion of Mr. Joseph Hatton’s story, “Clytie,” has been condensed into this part, and it will be published in a full three volume novel, next month, by Messrs. Chapman and Hall. We are also promised the opening chapters of a new story by Mrs. Mary Cowden Clarke, some “Waterside Sketches,” and an “important” article on modern archery in England; so that readers of the Gentleman have a prospect of abundant entertainment before them, in the purveying of which we are sure the editor will not fail to sustain the high reputation which this magazine has gained amongst the literature of the day.

___

 

Nottinghamshire Guardian (15 May 1874 - p.6)

     To an unusually good number of The Gentleman’s, Mr. Robert Buchanan contributes a new poem, “Eros  Athanatos.” If space permitted, it would be no difficult matter to select several passages of the highest poetical beauty, and well worth repetition; as it is, we must content ourselves with a mere recognition of its general power and originality. Mr. Buchanan, by the way, takes this opportunity of acknowledging the authorship of “White Rose and Red,” and therefore of “St. Abe.” ...

___

 

The Examiner (16 May, 1874 - p.17)

The Gentleman’s grows better and better under its new management. A memoir of Shirley Brooks, by Mr Blanchard Jerrold, will be read with great pleasure by the many friends of the deceased man. Though short, it has much in it which could not have been left unsaid, and which no one could have said better than Mr Blanchard Jerrold. “Men and Manners in Parliament” continues to be very entertaining. There is a song of love and glamour from Mr Robert Buchanan—the first of a series. We have read it carefully three times, and yet cannot say whether we like it or not. It really looks as though the critic of the ‘Fleshly School’ were beginning to form himself upon the model he once decried.

_____

 

The Last Poet
published in The Gentleman’s Magazine (June 1874.)

lastpoetad

[Advert for The Gentleman’s Magazine from the Birmingham Daily Post (28 May, 1874).]

 

The Nonconformist (3 June, 1874)

     Amongst the papers in the Gentleman’s Magazine we have the continuation of “Olympia,” in which a discovery dawns upon us, and we begin to see, rather too soon, what is to be the end. The “Peace Manœuvres of England” are well criticised by a competent hand, and the “Silent member” (Mr. Lucy?), continues his clever and lively sketches of “Men and Manners in Parliament.” This month we have the “Independent Member,” with characteristic notes of Mr. Smollett, Mr. Scourfield, Mr. Bentinck, Mr. Henry James, Sir Vernon Harcourt, Lord E. Fitzmaurice, Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Mr. Jenkins, Mr. Horsman, and Mr. Roebuck. The sketch of Mr. Jenkins is a mere caricature. In last month’s Gentleman’s, Mr. Robert Buchanan joined the “fleshly school” of poets. Yes; that terrific denunciator went over to his enemies bodily, and the “fleshly school” must have had a delicious feeling of being avenged. This month we have a splendidly-conceived incarnation of the “Last Poet”—

“Old, gaunt, pale, famine-stricken, hugging rags,
To keep him from the bleak breath of the wind.
God help him! God’s last Poet! the last Soul
That kept his faith in God!”

_____

 

The God-like Love
published in The Gentleman’s Magazine (October 1874.)

 

The Nonconformist (7 October, 1874)

     In the Gentleman’s Magazine the development of the plot of “Olympia” is novel, but slightly too eccentric. And will Mr. Buchanan ever write again on the “Fleshly School” after sinning a second time, as he does this month, in “The God- like Love”? Nothing more “fleshly” was ever written than the stanzas on Danae. We are glad to see in the article on “Liverpool”—another of the articles on “Great Towns and their Public Influence”—an appreciative word relating to the Financial Reform Association, but we decline to accept the writer’s opinion as to the political influence of Liverpool on Lancashire. It has none. In the editor’s “Table Talk” of this month we meet with an acute remark upon Mr. Tennyson’s habit of retouching his poems, which is worth quoting—

[Extract.]

_____

 

The Battle of Isandúla
published in The Contemporary Review (April 1879.)

 

The Guardian (4 April, 1879 - p.6)

THE APRIL MAGAZINES.

     The Contemporary Review contains a poem on “Isandula” by Mr. Robert Buchanan. Its versification is spirited, but it cannot be said to be on the whole successful. In particular, there is an obvious jar in speaking of the Zulus as “devils,” “tigers,” &c. This is not the way in which brave men or the bards who worthily sing brave men’s deeds speak of opponents in fair fight.

___

 

The Examiner (5 April, 1879 - p.24-25)

     It may safely be asserted that if Mr. Alfred Tennyson were not the poet Laureate, and the author of many grand and touching poems, the two effusions of his brains and metrical faculties which head the present number of the Nineteenth Century (Kegan, Paul, and Co.) would have wandered into Mr. Knowles’s rubbish basket, instead of finding their way into its columns. Reviewers are requested by the editor to confine their quotations to extracts only; we can assure him that we were not, even for a single moment, tempted to reprint either the “Dedicatory Poem to the Princess Alice,” or “The Relief of Lucknow.” The latter we should have thought must have been written twenty years ago; yet is not the following line a distinct example of the poet’s later and not better manner?

“So that the brute bullet broke through the brain that could think for the rest.”

     We recommend the public to try and read the poem aloud. It will be as good practice for would-be elocutionists as:—

“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper,
A peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked,” &c.

. . .

     The current number of the Contemporary Review contains a poem by Robert Buchanan on the disaster at Isandula. A good many poets all over the country have already been inspired by our defeat, and have not hesitated to commit their inspirations to paper; nor is the crop yet exhausted, for we shall, in the year 1900, have to expect Mr. Tennyson’s ode. Meanwhile, we are quite satisfied with Mr. Buchanan’s. It is the most metrical, the most flowing, and the most poetic we have yet read. An ode on a battle is nothing if it does not sound well; Mr. Buchanan’s metre is well-chosen, and his verses are sonorous. There is in this number an extremely interesting letter from Russia, which we warmly commend to the few who still believe in her.

___

 

The Pall Mall Gazette (19 April, 1879)

MILITARY HONOUR.

     The Saturday Review noticing Mr. Buchanan’s poem in the last number of the Contemporary Review, says it might have been hoped that by this time a juster judgment on the disaster at Isandlana would have succeeded to the false one which obtained in the first instance. Mr. Robert Buchanan and people like him might safely be left to write what nonsense they can find editors to accept, but it becomes a more serious matter when we find the commander of a force in the field praising in an official report what he styles the heroic conduct of the two officers who tried to escape with the colours and were drowned in crossing the Buffalo, and other military men writing to propose that their relatives should receive some special mark of distinction for this behaviour. What change has come over the British army when flight from the field of battle, even with the colours, is to be stamped as heroic? It must be remembered that the officer who took them off must have thought he was saving his own life by so doing, and the only creditable thing about his conduct was that he should have encumbered himself with a heavy staff. The Saturday Review does not blame him, but at the same time it protests against any praise being given. The nobler part would have been to stay, as so many of the other officers did, to share the fate of their men. It is the more necessary to insist on this point, because we seem to be entering on a new phase of public opinion in these matters. The only surviving officer of the late disaster near Luneberg reports that, being well mounted, he rode off as hard as he could to that place, leaving as it is to be inferred, the remnant of his men to take their chance on foot. When an officer can be found to make such a report, it is time to ask whether we are going to set up a new standard of military honour in place of the old rules which have hitherto guided the conduct of the British army.

_____

 

Justinian
published in The Contemporary Review (January 1880.)

 

The Examiner (3 January, 1880)

     The Contemporary Review for this month is an uncommonly strong number. It opens with a brilliant sketch of England in the eighteenth century by that acute observer and graceful writer, Karl Hillebrand. He shows, and to our mind conclusively, that the political religious and literary development of England in that much decried century was one of the most active and fruitful which even our history records. Professor Stuart Blackie prefers an eloquent indictment against the accumulation of land in the hands of comparatively few owners. The words of Pliny, “Latifundia perdidere Italiam,” are his text. “Large properties are ruining Britian,” is his conclusion. The number is enriched by a really fine poem from the pen of Mr. Robert Buchanan, entitled “Justinian,” which to our mind deserves to rank with his most finished productions. It is so far above the ordinary run of magazine poetry that it would be presumptuous, nay, absurd, to enter upon a discussion of its merits in this place. Professor Calderwood attacks the most recent embodiment of Mr. Herbert Spencer’s philosophy, “The Data of Ethics.” Another valuable philosophical article is the one contributed by Professor Lotze, of Göttingen, on the philosophy of the last forty years. Mr. Mathew Browne has something interesting to say on the letters of Charles Dickens. The section devoted to contemporary life and thought in foreign countries—this time Russia and Italy—is full of suggestive matter.

___

 

The Academy (10 January, 1880 - p.27)

     THE Contemporary Review is somewhat dull, and ought not to publish an article of Herr Karl Hillebrand, which has been already noticed in these columns, on “England in the Eighteenth Century,” without a statement of the fact that it appeared in the Deutsche Rundschau for December. Prof. Blackie attempts to settle the land question by an appeal to the “law of nature,” which wondrous code we thought had now been abandoned. Prof. R. K. Douglas gives a sketch of the “Chinese Drama” which does not lead us to think that even the existing taste for Chinese art will lead any devotee to agitate for the establishment of a Chinese theatre. The most striking of the contents of this number is a poem by Mr. Robert Buchanan called “Justinian,” which, however, has nothing to do with the Emperor, but is the account of an amiable scientific atheist who begat a son that he might nurture him without superstition, stimulated his desire to work until his health gave way, saw him die with despair, and had none of the comforts of religion. Mr. Buchanan does full justice to the atheist and his good intentions, and the poem has much discrimination of character and much pathos. It is a pity Mr. Buchanan does not know more about obvious things. He makes the father choose for his son “the learned name Justinian,” because he wants a name whose associations are “heathen no more than Christian;” but surely Justinian was not learned, and was eminently pious and superstitious. He gives us a picture of an Italian lake which is positively excruciating. He showers upon it all the colours of the rainbow, and then makes châlets hang upon its sides and gondolas crawl across its stillness.

___

 

The North China Herald (18 March, 1880)

SOME ENGLISH PERIODICALS.

     Karl Hildebrand makes a stirring appeal in the January Contemporary on behalf of England in the eighteenth century. It was lately the fashion to decry the political life of that period as corrupt, its religious life as death under another name, and its literary development as contemptible. On the contrary, as the result of a minute analysis, Hildebrand shews that under all three aspects English thought and action were never more fruitful than then. It was an age of religious revival, witness Wesley and Whitfield, of literary wealth, witness Swift, and of political energy, witness the improvements introduced into the constitution, and the foreign wars in defence of European independence against schemes of universal monarchy.—Mr. Robert Buchanan tells in smoothly running verse a tale of a philosopher who brought up his only son in the Lucretian creed, and found that body of negative belief all insufficient to sustain him when death snatched away the object of his idolatry. Apart from its poetic merits, which are distinctly high, the tale is most artistically constructed to suggest a moral which is nowhere thrust under the reader’s eyes. Humour and pathos are skilfully blended into a whole which will, we think, agreeably astonish those who stand outside the very select circle of Mr. Buchanan’s admirers.— We pass by a rambling paper by Professor Blackie on Landlords and Land Laws, and a criticism by Professor Calderwood of Herbert Spencer’s last book. . . .

_____

 

Annus Aureolus: An Ode on the Jubilee of the Empress Victoria
published in The Contemporary Review (June 1887.)

 

The Globe (31 May, 1887 - p.6)

THE MAGAZINES AND THE JUBILEE.

     The Magazines for June naturally contain a good deal which has some bearing, direct or indirect, upon the great event of the month. Authors, illustrators, and editors have combined to produce a number of articles dealing either with the reign or with the life of Her Majesty, together with others of a kindred but more general nature. The poets are necessarily well to the fore. The subject was one to inspire them, and they have accordingly been inspired, not always to write poetry, but at least to produce very loyal and readable verse. Of Mr. Swinburne’s eloquent Ode in the Nineteenth Century we have spoken before. Mr. Robert Buchanan, in the Contemporary Review, supplies “An Ode on the Jubilee of the Empress Victoria,” which he entitles “Annus Aureolus.” He opens with some spirit:—

“’Tis Jubilee here, and ’tis Jubilee yonder,
As far as the sun round her Empire doth wander;
From the East to the West wakes the world in her honour,
The sunrise and sunset flash splendour upon her.”

He represents the Queen’s “subject Spirits” as attending her. First, India—

                   “Clad in woofs of strange device,
With fruitage from the fabled Eastern Aidenn,
     And gifts of precious gems and gold and spice.
On a white elephant she rides, while round her
     Like baying hounds her spotted tigers run—
Black-brow’d as night, to her who tamed and crown’d her
     She comes, with fiery eyes that front the sun.”

So come Australia, Tasmania, Canada, Albion, and Caledonia; and then Erin rises up and calls to her to “redress her children’s wrongs.” Then we are shown how,

“Huddling beneath the gas, in the dark City,
     Hagar and Mary wail their evil star.”

And in a later verse the Queen is reminded of the wars which have been waged by England in her reign. Finally, in the epode, she is told that God “lends a torch to light her path to peace transcending dreams,” that light being Love. Altogether, Mr. Buchanan’s Ode, though it has “literary merit,” is rather depressing than joyous, showing overmuch of the shadows of the past.
     In Good Words the Laureate of the occasion is the Rev. Dr. Walter Smith, whose poetical fame is not exactly commensurate with the United Kingdom, but who is known in Scotland and many English circles as a rhetorical rhymer of some power. He, too, writes an ode, and calls it “Jubilee.” Its tune is cheerful, as it should be. Of the Queen it says:—

         “Maiden, wife, and widow, queenly
               Mother of a Regal race,
                   Loyal to the Nation’s laws
                   Loyal to the People’s cause,
                   Not for favour or applause
         Thou hast done thy work serenely
               With a royal grace;
Never faltered with the Right,
     Nor faltered where thy path should be,
But walked in duty and in light
     Until this year of Jubilee.”

The various achievements of the reign are also celebrated. No fewer than two poets lift up their voices in the Leisure Hour, the Rev. S. J. Stone (author of that really stirring composition, “The Church’s One Foundation”) contributing a “Hymn,” and Miss Sarah Doudney furnishing a “Lay.” Mr. Stone, in the course of half a dozen well-turned verses, gives praise for

                       “A monarch,
     The stateliest under sun—
Yet for the tenderest woman
     That ever love has won—
For sympathy the sweetest,
     For duty grandly done.”

Miss Doudney’s lines are also more or less religious in sentiment, telling, among other things, how

         “Mother and maid and wife,
         Draw from a royal life
Such holy thoughts as lead to love and rest.”

. . .

___

 

The Illustrated London News (4 June, 1887 - p.2)

MAGAZINES FOR JUNE.

Contemporary Review.—
. . .

“Annus Aureolus,” Mr. Robert Buchanan’s Jubilee ode, is an inharmonious jingle of alternate double and single rhymes, with interposing strophes of shorter measure which are even more tedious than the longer lines; while neither the thoughts nor the language have any value as poetry.
     Nineteenth Century.—Here indeed is a Jubilee poem which is lyrical, musical, song-like; but Mr. Algernon Swinburne, though a masterly verse-maker, has his faults as a rhetorician; and a besetting habit of forced antithesis often mars the utterance of his best thoughts. Yet there are several noble verse, each fitly enunciating and adorning a fresh and grand idea, in this composition. One verse, which we will quote, would have been improved in syntax and in clearness of sense, though the set order of rhymes would have been deranged, by thus transposing the first two lines:—

[2]  A troubled record, foul and fair,
[1]      A simple record and serene,
           Inscribes for praise a blameless queen,
     For praise and blame, an age of care
           And change and ends unseen.

. . .

___

 

The Guardian (8 June, 1887)

MAGAZINES FOR JUNE.

     Two articles, dealing more or less with recent changes in Oxford, deserve a more extended notice than usual. Mr. Freeman continues his papers on “Oxford after Forty Years,” in the Contemporary, the first instalment we dealt with fully last month.
. . .

We have only space to call attention to three other contributions to the Contemporary. Mr. Gladstone, discussing the significance of the myth of “The Great Olympian Sedition” of Here, Athene, and Poseidon, regards it as representing an incident in the religious history of the Greek peninsula. Dr. R. W. Dale, the Birmingham Congregationalist minister, treats of “The Liberal Party and Home Rule” from the Radical Unionist point of view; and Mr. Robert Buchanan gives us in “Annus Aureolus” an addition to the ever-lengthening list of Jubilee odes which has more purpose than most.

_____

 

The Burial of Parnell
published in The Echo (12 October, 1891 - p.1)

 

The Northern Echo (13 October, 1891 - p.3)

parnellfuneral

The Yorkshire Post (13 October, 1891 - p.4)

     Mr. Robert Buchanan contributes some stirring lines to the Echo on the late Mr. Parnell which will not tend to soothe the exacerbated feelings of the deceased leader’s supporters. Taking for his text, “We come to bury Cæsar, not to praise him,” Mr. Buchanan turns on the current of his vitriolic pen to the tune of a dozen or more stanzas, each of which is a scathing denunciation of the plotters who strove to drive Mr. Parnell from public life. “Jackals and cowards” are among the epithets he hurls at them,, and he singles out several for special treatment. Mr. Gladstone is of the number. This is how the right hon. gentleman is described:—

Lo! Where the English Brutus stands,
     With white and reverend hair.
Bloodstains upon the wrinkled hands
     He calmly folds in prayer.
Facing all ways beneath the sky,
     Strong still, though worn and wan,
This Brutus is (so all men cry)—
     “An honourable man!”

The verses are not in the best taste, and there is a too dithyrambic flavour about them to suit most English palates, but their very faults will probably recommend them to the excited gentry who are shouting for revenge on the “murderers” of their chief.

___

 

The Lancashire Evening Post (13 October, 1891 - p.4)

     Mr. Robert Buchanan thinks it necessary to lay a wreath of verse on Mr. Parnell’s grave. Mr. Parnell, according to the bard, was the Cæsar of modern politics, and Mr. Gladstone is the Brutus who folds his blood-stained hands in prayer. This is a sufficient specimen of Mr. Buchanan’s political discernment. As for his rhymes, they have the customary facility of emptiness.

___

 

The Aberdeen Journal (14 October, 1891 - p.5)

     Mr Robert Buchanan has delivered himself of a poem anent Mr Parnell’s death, which is a very fine piece of writing, and which will no doubt have some influence on the controversy in Ireland, where anything done into poetry will assuredly have a greater effect than even the most fiery prose. It is a characteristic effort, and is thus introduced:— “When the noble leader of Irish freedom was first offered up to the false gods of moral and religious superstition, when the first foul blow was struck by the accredited High Priest, to be followed by the countless poisoned stabs of the journalist in absolution, one English voice alone arose in protestation. That voice was mine.” Then follows the “poor wreath of verse,” which he places on the great Irishman’s grave. Here is a sample laurel from it:—

Who slew this man? The cruel foe
     That stabbed our nation first;
Then Brutus, loth to strike the blow;
     Then Casca, the accurs’t:
Then freed men by his hands unbound,
     And slaves his hands had fed,
Joining the throng that ring’d him round,
     Stoned him till he was dead!

Lo, where the English Brutus stands,
     With white and reverend hair,
Bloodstains upon the wrinkled hands
     He calmly folds in prayer;
Facing all ways beneath the sky,
     Still strong, though worn and wan,
This Brutus is—so all men cry—
     “An honourable man!”

___

 

The Leeds Times (17 October, 1891 - p.4)

POETRY ON PARNELL.

     The death of Mr. Parnell has brought up the poets, and some of the specimens of the jingling doggerel are really good of their kind. The heaven-sent Robert Buchanan, who seems to be going from bad to worse, has delivered his ink pot of stuff like this:—

Lo! Where the English Brutus stands,
     With white and reverend hair;
Bloodstains upon the wrinkled hands
     He calmly folds in prayer.
Facing all ways beneath the sky,
     Strong still, though worn and wan,
This Brutus is (so all men cry)—
     “An honourable man!”

Brutus, of course, is Mr. Gladstone, who, according to this poet, killed Mr. Parnell. But Mr. Buchanan doesn’t stand alone. There are other people who can waste good ink, too. Listen to this, by Mary Fitzpatrick:—

But, O God, the everlasting horror,
     There he lies before us foully slain!
And the slayers his own trusted brothers—
     Lo! We brand them with the scar of Cain.

All we have to say is that if these people keep on writing poetry like that, they may, in a few years, be qualified to tar palings.

___

 

Typo: a Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review (New Zealand) (26 December, 1891 - Vol. 5, Issue 60, p.155)

     In the Echo of 12th October, Mr Robert Buchanan has a poem of sixteen eight-line stanzas, full of fiery invective, on “The Burial of Parnell.” It is prefaced by a prose note: “When the noble Leader of Irish Freedom was first offered up to the false gods of moral and religious superstition, … one English voice alone arose in protest. That voice was mine,” &c. The fifteenth stanza is a good sample of the poem:

Not till our King lay bleeding there,
     Crept forth with cruel eyne
The venom’d things which make their lair
     Beneath the Seven-Hill’d shrine:
Then in the name of Him they priced,
     Degraded, and betrayed,
They poisoned, these false priests of Christ,
     The wounds a Judas made!

It is strange to find so sturdy and robust a writer as Buchanan thus prostrating himself at the feet of such a clay idol as Parnell—one of the basest and most utterly selfish characters of modern times. The poet likens him to Cæsar—and as regards his ruling passion, the love of dominion, some resemblance may be admitted. No trust, public or private—no confidence, however implicitly given—was too sacred to be betrayed if it stood in the way of his ambition or of his lower passions. Before his fall, The Times was the only journal that was able to measure him. And this is the man that the erratic poet dubs Martyr, and for whom his eyes “grow dim above the holy spot where our dead monarch lies.” !Holy! The word has been grievously degraded, as in its application to certain fabricated relics; but the “holy” grave of Parnell is too much.

___

 

The Dundee Evening Telegraph (12 October, 1894 - p.2)

MR ROBERT BUCHANAN AND MR PARNELL.

     Mr Buchanan has contributed a poem to the Dublin Weekly Independent anent the Parnell anniversary celebration last Sunday. He introduces it by the following note:—
     “When the noble leader of Irish freedom was first offered up to the false gods of moral and religious superstition—when the first foul blow was struck by the accredited High Priest, to be followed by the countless stabs of the journalists in absolution—one English voice alone arose in protestation. That voice was mine. What I feared has come to pass, so it is not unfitting that I—an alien, but a lover of Irish freedom—should place this poor wreath of verse on the great Irishman’s grave.—R. B.”
     In the poem Mr Buchanan speaks of one Irish leader who first kissed, then smote, Mr Parnell’s cheek; of another, who mocked him with foul and impious jest; and of a third, “the basest of them all, who gnawed the bleeding breast.”

_____

 

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