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“ Thy leaf has perished in the green.”
-TENNYSON. These brief lines, “ of sorrow born,” may be read in afier days by some outside the pleasant little circle for whom they possess their chief interest; and to them we would say in plain and simple truth, the
of the friend we bave striven to honour is endeared to us by his warmhearted sincerity and true nobility of character.
On the sudden and lamented death of William Ritchie Macfadyen, at the early age of twenty-nine years, his friends of the Manchester Atheneum Debating Society thought they could not more fittingly offer the tribute of their regard for his memory than by printing for private circulation the annexed Essay, selected, not because it was by any means the ablest production of his facile pen, but in consideration of its being, perhaps, the most suitable paper available for the purpose which he had read before the Society
It was during the Autumn Session of 1868 that Macfadyen became a member of the Debating Society of the Manchester Athenæum. At its meetings he was a regular visitor and speaker, and his courtesy and amiability at once attracted to him many friendships, which, though death too soon terminated, memory continues to cherish.
His private studies—the chief source of his information - were varied and comprehensive, and amongst his favourite authors were Browning, Buckle, Carlyle, and Thackeray.
He possessed more than an average student's knowledge of Latin and Greek, could converse fluently in French and German, and in the summer prior to his death spent his leisure in learning Arabic.
In debate, though his mode of speech was somewhat hurried, he was clear and forcible. An able advocate of the just and true, but unsparing of his denunciations of the mean and disingenuous.
His intellectual activities were not confined to the limits of the Atheneum Society, and many critical and trenchant papers on subjects of general interest communicated to the local press will, from his regard for anonymity, remain for him unhonoured and unsung.
Socially, he was genial and attractive, possessing a wealth of conversational power, with that admirable patience that can listen to a twice-told tale.
In his business relations his diligence and natural shrewdness were conspicuous, and opened for him a career of great promise. To his intimate friends it was known that he entertained a desire to go abroad: and the opportunity at length arrived. He left England for Alexandria at the end of June, 1871, on the 27th of which month many of his “auld acquaintance” met to wish him “God speed." Brilliant prospects of commercial success, which only health was needed to realize, lay before him. But beneath the unceasing activity of his finely wrought brain and ardent energies, his physical strength gave way, and after fighting bravely on for twenty months in a foreign clime, away from friends and home, he sought again, with health fatally impaired, the shores he had so recently left full of high hopes and auspicious farewells.
He survived his return to England but one week; those that were near and dear to him tended his closing hours with devoted affection; and the friendly pilgrim may find his grave in the Southern Necropolis of his native cityGlasgow.
We, his companions and friends, only seek to add that he
“ Best seemed the thing he was, and joined
W. B. THE ATAENÆUM,
Manchester, October 12, 1873.
As a starting point for the remarks I have this evening to make concerning our literature as extant in Ballads, I would first of all refer to the analogy so often drawn between the life of an individual and the existence of a nation; and this reference I make in saying that as by vur friend's speech we estimate what manner of man he is, so may we say that the literature of a people is the speech of that people, and that, in this case as in the other, their speech bewrayeth them. This similitude of speech is true of the whole bulk of a nation's literature, but it is especially true of its poetry; for of all things it is in poetry that .“ out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh.”
To some extent our subject this evening embraces all varieties of that musical thought comprehended under the generic term “poetry," and it will be necessary to consider, in the first place, what essential forms this poetry assumes. We have two theories concerning this. One relegates poetry to the domain of sense, making it depend for its effect upon the impressions we receive from objects external to ourselves. This order of poetry I would call objective; and as illustrating its method I would instance the two well-known poems, “ L'Allégro” and “Il Penseroso." In the first named, Milton, as you will remember, is seeking to convey to us his own emo
tions of gladness, as in the latter he is striving to express the contrasted feeling of melancholy. In both poems he does so, not by describing the feelings themselves as appreciated by his own mind, but by minutely and accurately portraying the objects, external to himself, which induced or maintained in him those feelings. You remember the opening stanza of the first-named poem :
Come, thou goddess fair and free,
And here, in passing, observe how in these two lines, as in the whole piece, the sound of the verse is made to echo the sense. With exquisite taste the lively lilting measure, by its jocund and, so to speak, dancing progression, helps to induce in the mind the gladsome feeling of which the words are the vehicle. This, however, by the way.
Turning again to the poem, recall how Milton, after the above invocation, goes on to tell how
Mirth, that lady fair,
He relates how it fell that
Zephyr with Aurora playing,
—and so the measure goes tripping along, expressing the poet's joy, not directly, but by minute and careful descriptions of the material objects which induced in him that joy, or with which he associated it. We have this still better illustrated a few stanzas later. When describing the “unreproved pleasures free ” of the mirth he sings, he specially dwells on these :
To bear the lark begin his flight,