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English.—Where is the old lame mare that you were leading up the lane from the mead ?
Dorset.—Where's the wold leäme meäre that you were a-leäden up the leäne from the meäde ?
Mr. Barnes infers from Frisian usage that the Dorset peasants have not done more in these diphthongs than perpetuate the breath-sounds of their forefathers, who said yarm for arm, beäm for beam, and meärc for mark, just as the Frisians say leäf for leaf, neäm for name, and so forth. The Dorset usage of z, v, and d, for s, f, and th, is confined to words of Teutonic or English roots, and words that have been imported in later times are not meddled with. It is good Dorset to say zand or vind ; bad, to say zaint, vamine, vigure, zabbath.
Dorset is not a good dialect for punning, as it can show a large number of words to which it gives a distinct sound according to the meaning, the same words having only one sound in ordinary speech. The copia verborum of the dialect is still more remarkable. Witness the following specimens :- Shelter is a screen against what falls from above, as rain ; leuth, a screen from cold wind blowing sideways. To ceäre, is to be uneasy about what has happened or is happening; to ho, is to be anxious for the future. The root of a tree is simply its root; the moot the bottom of a stem after it is felled, with all its roots on to it. The do marry a couple; the man do marry wi' the woman. A wride of hazel is all the stems that grow from one root; a hazel-bush may contain many wrides. A choor (char) is a recurring term of work, as washing or house-cleaning; a job is a single stroke of any work or business.
But it is the Dorset poems that are the best apology for the dialect after all. No arbitrary, unmeaning patois would have supported the pathos to which this form of English furnishes just the setting and no more-as the Scottish forms do to Burns's best poems; and it would only have spoilt Mr. Barnes's genuine humour, which depends on no tricks of language for its point. In naming Burns, it is not meant to set up the Dorset poems in comparison with his; no greater mistake could be made in defining the real merits of Mr. Barnes, who stands quite alone among English writers. You could not gather from his writings that he had ever read a verse of other poets, nor adopted a single line of thought or mode of speech. And yet it would be hard to discover writings more entirely free from affectation than these. It is as Hogg has said, ' A man may be sair mista’en about many things, sic as yepics and tragedies, and even lang set elegies about the death o' great public characters, and hymns, and odes, and the like; but he canna be mista'en about a sang.' Just so on reading Vol. 111.–No. 222. Y
the Dorset songs; you are puzzled to find an exact standard of comparison, but they have a true ring of their own which cannot be mistaken. 'Sleep did come wi' the dew,” “Rivers don't gie out,' “The Weepèn' Liady,' “The Väices that be gone,' and • Jenny out vrom hwome,' in the first volume; and “Ellen Brine o' Allenburn,' • Slantèn Light o'Vall,' • Bleake's House in Blackmoor,' Knowlwood,' and Faetherhood,' in the second, are all not only poems of great beauty, but sure to be recognised as such on a first reading.
The Dorset poor themselves heartily enjoy these poems; and it is hard to say which succeed best before a cottage audience, the pathetic or the humorous ones. • The Waggon a-Stooded' (stuck in the mud), describing an accident with a load of furz, is always welcome. It is an eclogue with three interlocutors, or in Dorset idiom with dree o' m a-ta'kèn' o't:''1.-Well, here we be then wi' the vust poor
lwoad O'vuzz we brought a-stooded in the road. 2.—The road, George ? Noa. There's nar a road. That's wrong.
If we'd a road, we mid ha got along.
Is here a-stooded in theäs bed o' clae.
The little oone's a-zunk up to the nut.' After a good deal of criticism on the driving that brought the accident about, a spade is sent for to dig the wheels out; and meanwhile the load is to be lightened :'1.-Well, we must lighten en; come, Jeämes, then hop
Upon the lwoad, and just fling off the top. 2.-If I can clim' en; but 'tis my consaït
That I shall awverzet en wi' my weight. 1.--You awverzet en! Noa, Jeämes; he won't vall:
The lwoad's a-built so firm 's a wall.' This is the confident remark of the man who had had the chief hand in 'setting the load ; and on the strength of it the other climbs, falls of course, bringing the load with him, but unconsoled by the slightest admission on the part of his stolid companion, who looks on with a broad grin and sets all down to the ant-hills on the turf-track :1.-Lo'k there, thik fellor is a-vell lik' lead, An' haef the vuzzen wi'n, heels awver head.
The lwoad wer built so firm 's a rock,
*Merry Bleäke o' Blackmwore' is another great favourite. It tells how John Blake, having two hundred pounds left him by his uncle, determined to build a house of his own. His consultations with his wife and maïdens,' his reckonings with the workmen, and his grand housewarming when all was done, are told with much humour, and with the same faultless truth of observation that is so conspicuous in the history of Mrs. Poyser's ways and doings. When nothing else remains to be done towards the effective inauguration of the house, the swallows duly take possession of the eaves, and the poem finishes.
• An' when the morrow's zun did sheen,
“ Tweet, tweet,” the birds all cried;
“Dad, dad," the children cried so glad
To merry Bleäke o' Blackmwore.' The excellent poem called “Faetherhood' gives an example of the spirit and swing which Mr. Barnes can throw into his verses. This that follows is supposed to come straight out of the warm heart of a father, who is met after a cold journey by the pleasant voices and little-mouthed laefs' of his children at his own fireside :
Let en zit, wi' his dog an' his cat,
Wi' ther noses a-turned to the vire;
An' have all that a man should desire :
Woudden meake mighty odds in the main :
An' wi' mwore we've less jäy wi' less païn :
Like do-nothèn, rue-nothèn,
Dead-alive dumps.' Yet, clever and admirably truthful as the humorous poems and the mere narratives are, Mr. Barnes seems to be greatest in the | expression of a pathetic sentiment, always of the extremest
gentleness and tenderness, but always wholesome, and never bordering on what is maudlin or dull. It has been urged, and it is probably often thought by fresh readers of the “Dorset Poems,' Common sense. † Care or anxiety for the future. # Plough.
that the dialect has nothing to do with the pathetic element in them; in other words, that if, in a given poem of the kind, the forms of ordinary English were to be substituted for the dialect forms, the pathos would remain undiminished and unaltered. A little reflection, and—still more surely—a growing familiarity with the genius of Mr. Barnes, will show that this notion is erroneous. It is undoubtedly possible to light upon single stanzas of the more serious
poems which scarcely suffer at all by a translation into English. It is equally possible to find single passages of Burns in which it is of no consequence whether we read frae or from, guid or good; or single verses of the Bible where the effect would not be destroyed by the substitution of you for thou, and have for hast. But who, for that reason, would desire to see an Anglicized edition of Burns's serious poetry, or a version of the Bible according to Dr. Conquest ? And thus it is in the case of Mr. Barnes. In spite of the apparent evidence to the contrary which single instances may furnish—and such instances will be found very few and far between—there are a thousand touches natural and easy in his Doric, which would have been unattainable in Attic. Who would write “raving' for 'riavèn' in the following admirable song ? or what should we get out of common English in return for all the sound and vigour of wiave da dreve wiave in the dark-water'd pon’??
JENNY OUT VROM HWOME.
The elems da rock an' the poplars da ply,
Oh! wher da ye rise vrom, an wher da ye die ?
you, lik' a bird o' the clouds, up above
To wher I da lang var an' vo’kes I da love.
The soft-zwelling sounds ye da leäve in your road,
ya mid bring me, vrom tongues that be dear,
By the house an' the elems vrom wher I'm a-come,
at the winder ar call at the door,
banks, where James would sit Playing upon the clarionet
To voices that are gone.'
And how should we render into common English that pregnant thought of the girls and boys being now married off all woys'? Yet observe the effect of both passages as they stand in the poem.
THE VÄICES THAT BE GONE.
In archet, where the place oonce rung
By väices that be gone.
Beside the banks, wher Jim did zit
To väices that be gone.
How she da wish, wi' useless tears,
about her ears
The väices that be gone !
I still da santer out wi' tears
Da miss the väices gone.' More than once we have seen this poem draw the tears from eyes of listening cottagers ; nor must it be supposed that the refinement of education is necessary to the reader before he can read Mr. Barnes's poems with such a result. A clownish reader will read clownishly, whether he read in English or in the Dorset dialect; and a chance hand from the plough-tail would probably make a very poor thing of “Väices that be gone.' But put the book into the hands of one of the thoughtful and deephearted men that may be met with, not so rarely either, even among