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nor a Keats, nor yet a Tennyson, which last he much | fectly splendid as that in which Mr. Burns has presented
affects, if he follows any one; yet the rhapsodist of the forests and solitudes of the New World is not one to be neglected, into whatever unshapely fashion he may throw his clear, his mystical, or his nearly unintelligible thoughts. No just idea could be given of this singular collection of poems by any one or two detached pieces. We therefore, in justice to the author, forbear extracting.
HEATH'S ILLUSTRATED NEW TESTAMENT. London: Chapman and Hall. We have no recollection of having ever met, amongst the magnificent editions of the Scriptures that have recently been issued, any work more truly superb than the four parts, embracing to the 25th chapter of Matthew's Gospel, of this edition. The typography and paper of the edition are beautiful, but the strength of the work is in its engravings. In this respect it has no equal. And all who appreciate the application of the highest art to the finest subjects, will place on this New Testament a very high value.
THE CHRISTIAN IN PALESTINE. London: George Virtue. A serial work, which we have previously noticed, containing in each number, four engravings of scenery in the Holy Land, accompanied with letter press. The engravings are remarkable for their clearness; and although we have yet to make "the new crusade," yet we have some good indirect reasons for believing that they represent faithfully the scenes described. The illustrations are by Mr. Bartlett, and the letter-press by Dr. Stebbing. Notwithstanding Mr. D' Israeli's opinion, that Syria is a neglected land, and the eastern question misunderstood, yet we believe that this work is very popular.
ROYAL GEMS FROM THE GALLERIES OF EUROPE. London: George Virtue.-The object of this work is to present, at a cheap rate, first class engravings from paintings of acknowledged excellence. The engravings in this number are the Adoration from Murillo-the Two Sisters, a German painting; and The Wayfarers, an English scene. In all the parts that we have seen, the plates are arranged in the same varied style; and they are executed with a care befitting the subjects, which are accompanied by notes written by Mr. S. C. Hall. This work is of permanent value.
NURSERY RHYMES, TALES, AND JINGLES. London: James Burns. We do not know that the literature of the nursery, has ever appeared before in a garb so per
his Rhymes, Tales, and Jingles. The copy before us is marked a second edition, improved. We think there is no probability of a third edition appearing "improved," also in matters of gilding, binding, and illustration. The next improvement must be in the literature. And while the book seems rather fine 'for the very young people of the nursery; it is also too gorgeous for the matter. One likes to see these old jingles just as they saw them long ago in small 24mo. books, price one halfpenny. "Madam Hubbard and her Cat," Old King Cole," "The House that Jack built,” and still less poetical fragments of the past, in morocco, covered with gilding and fancifully decorated lead us to hope that Mr. Burns may take some of the old ballads a step above the nursery next in hand.
THE Bor's OWN LIBRARY. WINTER BOOK-AUTUMN Воок. London: Chapman & Hall.-The Title page and Vignettes to these small volumes, printed in colours, have a particularly neat appearance. The other illustrations are of fair wood engraving; and the exteriors are pretty without being showy or pretending. The matter is, however, in every respect excellent. The style is better than has generally been bestowed on large books, and the matter is unexceptionable, at least we deem it so, perhaps some few game preservers would think otherwise of such passages as the following:
Every boy, who knows anything of the country, must be aware, that if a hare or rabbit is in a particular field or wood on one day, it may by night be a mile or two off, feeding on the cabbages in some poor man's garden. We can understand a man laying claim to a pig, an ass, or a sheep, but what right he has to a wild animal, or to a bird, which is here to-day and there to-morrow, any more than the poorest peasant, who may chance to meet with it on a common, we were never yet able to understand; and yet were the poor peasant to capture either the one or the other on the wide, open common, he must either pay a heavy fine or go to prison. Sorry should I be were any of you to attempt to take a single head of game; for, as the law now stands, such an act would bring you into trouble, and, unjust as I consider the game law, whilst it exists, it must be obeyed. My object is to show you, that beautful as are our English laws, they are still cawise and learned men, like all other human institutions, pable of amendment; and that, although compiled by they yet remain imperfect."
If we were interested in the preservation of the game laws, we should not like to have them attacked in such publications as these. But from every natural object that crosses the boy's path in spring or winter, the author gathers something to say. The object is not always, or often, a partridge or hare, and therefore the moral is not often political in its character.
FEMALE AUTHORS. No. I.-MRS. HEMANS.
BY GEORGE GILFILLAN, AUTHOR OF "A GALLERY OF LITERARY PORTRAITS."
FEMALE authorship is, if not a great, certainly a singular fact. And if a singular fact in this century, what must it have been in the earlier ages of the world—when it existed as certainly as now, and was more than now a phenomenon, standing often insulated and alone? If, even in this age, blues are black-balled and homespun is still the "only wear," and music, grammar, and gramarye are the three elements, legitimately included and generally expected in the education of woman, in what light must the Aspasias and the Sapphos of the past have been regarded? Probably as lusus naturæ, in whom a passionate attachment to literature was pardoned as a pleasant peccadillo, or agreeable insanity; just as a slight squint in the eye of a beauty, or even a far-off faux pas in her reputation, is still not unfrequently forgiven. But alas in our age, the exception is likely soon to become the rule-the lusus the law; and, at all events, of female authorship, the least gallant of critics is compelled now to take cognizance; and without absolutely admitting this as our characteristic, we must confess the diffidence as well as the good-will wherewith we approach a subject where respect for truth and respect for the sex are sometimes apt to jostle and jar.
The works of British women have now taken up, not by courtesy but by right, a full and conThey constitute spicuous place in our literature. an elegant library in themselves; and there is hardly a department in science, in philosophy, in morals, in politics, in the belles lettres, in fiction, or in the fine arts, but has been occupied, and This certainly proably occupied by a lady. claims a high state of cultivation on the part of the many which has thus flowered out into comIt exhibits an position in the case of the few. extension and refinement of that element of female influence which, in the private intercourse of society, has been productive of such blessed effects -it mingles with the harsh tone of general literature, as the lute pierceth through the cymbal's clash"-it blends with it a vein of delicate discrimination, of mild charity, and of purity of morals -gives it a healthy and happy tone, the tone of the fireside; it is in the chamber of our literature,
VOL. XIV.NO, CLII.
a quiet and lovely presence; by its very gentleness,
We remark, too, in the writings
proceed to our theme. We have selected Mrs. | guitar? Not altogether for the purpose of display Hemans as our first specimen of Female Authors, not at all for that of instruction to her audience not because we consider her the best, but because-but in a great measure that she may develop in we consider her by far the most feminine writer a lawful form, the sensibilities of her own bosom. of the age. All the woman in her shines. You Thus sate Felicia Hemans before her lyre-not could not (unknowing of the author) open a page touching it with awful reverence, as though each of her writings without feeling this is written by string were a star, nor using it as the mere cona lady. Her inspiration always pauses at the femi- ductor to her overflowing thoughts, but regarding nine point. It never "oversteps the modesty of na- it as the soother and sustainer of her own highture," nor the dignity and decorum of womanhood. wrought emotions—a graceful alias of herself. She is no Sibyl, tossed to and fro in the tempest Spring, in its vague joyousness, has not a more of furious excitement, but ever a "deep, majesti- appropriate voice in the note of the cuckoo than cal, and high-souled woman"-the calm mistress feminine sensibility had in the more varied but of the highest and stormiest of her emotions. hardly profounder song of the authoress before us. The finest compliment we can pay her-perhaps the finest compliment that it is possible to pay to woman, as a moral being—is to compare her to one of Shakspeare's women," and to say, had Imogen, or Isabella, or Cornelia become an authoress, she had so written.
Sometimes, indeed, Mrs. Hemans herself seems reduced, through the warmth of her temperament, the facility and rapidity of her execution, and the intensely lyrical tone of her genius, to dream that the shadow of the Pythoness is waving behind her, and controlling the motions of her song. To herself she appears to be uttering oracular deliverances. Alas! "oracles speak," and her poetry, as to all effective utterance of original truth, is silent. It is emotion only that is audible to the sharpest ear that listens to her song. A bee wreathing round you in the warm summer morn, her singing circle gives you as much new insight into the universe as do the sweetest strains which have ever issued from this "voice of spring." We are reluctantly compelled, therefore, to deny her, in its highest sense, the name of poet-a word often abused, often misapplied in mere compliment or courtesy, but which ought ever to retain its stern and original signification. A maker she is not. What dream of childhood has she ever, to any imagination, reborn? whose slumbers has she ever peopled with new and terrible visions? what new form or figure has she annexed, like a second shadow, to our own idiosyncrasy, to track us on our way for ever? to what mind has she given such a burning stamp of impression, as it feels eternity itself unable to efface? There is no such result from the poetry of Mrs. Hemans. She is less a maker than a musician, and her works appear rather to rise to the airs of the piano than that still sad music of humanity-the adequate instrument for the expression of which, has not yet been invented by man. From the tremulous movement, the wailing cadences, the artistic pauses, and the conscious-swelling climaxes of her verse, we always figure her as modulating, inspiring, and controlling her thoughts and words to the tune of some fine instrument, which is less the vehical than the creator of the strain. In her poetry, consequently, the music rather awakens the meaning, than does the meaning round and mellow off into the music.
With what purpose does a lady, in whom perfect skill and practice have not altogether drowned enthusiasm, sit down to her harp, piano, or
We wish not to be misunderstood. Mrs. Hemans had something more than the common belief of all poets in the existence of the beautiful. She was a genuine woman, and, therefore, the sequence (as we shall see speedily) is irresistible, a true Christian. Nor has she feared to set her creed to music in her poetry. But it was as a betrayal, rather than as a purpose, that she so did. She was more the organ of sentiment and sensibility than of high and solemn truth-more a golden morning mist, now glittering and then gone in the sun, than a steady dial at once meekly reflecting and faithfully watching and measuring his beams.
She was, as Lord Jeffrey well remarks, an admirable writer of occasional verses. She has caught, in her poetry, passing words of her own mind-meditations of the sleepless night-transient glimpses of thought, visiting her in her serener hours-the "silver lining" of those cloudy feelings which preside over her darkerand the impressions made upon her mind by the more remarkable events of her every-day life— and the more exciting passages of her reading. Her works are a versified journal of a quiet, ideal, and beautiful life-the life at once of a woman and a poetess, with just enough, and no more, of romance to cast around it a mellow autumnal colouring. The songs, hymns, and odes in which this life is registered are as soft and bright as atoms of the rainbow; like them, tears transmuted into glory, but, no more than they, great or complete. In many poets we see the germ of greatness, which might in happier circumstances, or in a more genial season, have been developed. But no such germ can the most microscopic survey discover in her, and we feel that at her death her beautiful but tiny task was done. Indeed, with such delicate organization, and such intense susceptiveness as hers, the elaboration, the long reach of thought, the slow cumulative advance, the deep-curbed, yet cherished ambition which a great work requires and implies, are, we fear, incompatible.
It follows, naturally from this, that her largest are her worst productions. They labour under the fatal defect of tedium. They are a surfeit of sweets. Conceive an orchard of rose-trees. Who would not, stupified and bewildered by excess and extravagance of beauty, prefer the old, sturdy, and well-laden boughs of the pear and pippen, and feel the truth of the adage" The apple tree is the
fairest tree in the wood?" Hence few, compara- | You are saved the ludicrous image of a doubletively, have taken refuge in her "forest sanctuary," dyed Blue, in papers and morning wrapper, reluctant and rare the ears which have listened sweating at some stupendous treatise or tragedy to her "Vespers of Palermo," her "Siege of from morn to noon, and from noon to dewy eveValencia," has stormed no hearts, and her "Sceptic" you see a graceful and gifted woman, passing from made, we fear, few converts. But who has not the cares of her family, and the enjoyments of wept over her " Graves of a Household," or hushed society, to inscribe on her tablets some fine thought his heart to hear her "Treasures of the Deep," or feeling, which had throughout the day existed in which the old Sea himself seems to speak, or as a still sunshine upon her countenance, or perwished to take the left hand of the Hebrew child haps as a quiet unshed tear in her eye. In this and lead him up, along with his mother, to the case, the transition is so natural and graceful, temple service; or thrilled and shouted in the gorge from the duties or delights of the day to the of " Mergarten," or trembled at the stroke of her employments of the desk, that there is as little "Hour of Death?" Such poems are of the kind pedantry in writing a poem as in writing a letter, which win their way into every house, and every and the authoress appears only the lady in flower. collection, and every heart. They secure for their Indeed, to recur to a former remark, Mrs. Hemans authors a sweet garden plot of reputation, which is distinguished above all others by her intense is envied by none, and with which no one inter- womanliness. And as her own character is so meddles. Thus flowers smile, unharmed, to the true to her sex, so her sympathies with her sex bolt which levels the pine beside them. Cata- are very peculiar and profound. Of the joys and racts, in the course of ages, wear away their cliff the sorrows, the difficulties and the duties, the of vantage, and so their glory suicidally perishes, trials and the temptations, the hopes and the while "one meek streamlet, only one," beautifies fears, the proper sphere and mission of woman, its narrow glen for ever-tapers live while suns and of those peculiar consolations which the sink and disappear. Even a single sweet poem, “world cannot give nor take away" that sustain flowing from a gentle mind in a happy hour, is as her even when baffled, she has a true and thorough "ointment poured forth," and carries a humble appreciation; and her "Records of Woman," name in fragrance far down into futurity, while and her "Songs of the Affections," are just the elaborate productions of loftier spirits rot upon audible beatings of the deep female heart. In the shelves. A Lucretius exhausts the riches of our judgment, Mrs. Ellis's idea of Woman is his magnificent mind in a stately poem, which is trite, vulgar, and limited, compared with that of barely remembered, and never read. A Wolfe "Egeria," as Miss Jewsbury used fondly to denote expresses the emotions of every heart at the re- her beloved friend. What a gallery of Shakcital of Sir John Moore's funeral in a few rude speare's female characters would the author of the rhymes, and becomes immortal. A Shelley, dip- "Mothers, Daughters, and Women of England” ping his pen in the bloody sweat of his lonely and have painted! What could she have said of agonised heart, traces voluminous lines of "red Juliet? How would she have contrived to twist and burning" poetry, and his works are known Beatrice into a pattern Miss? Perdita! would only to some hardy explorers. A Michael Bruce she have sent her to a boarding-school? or insisted transfers one spring joy of his dying frame, stir- on finishing, according to the Hannah Moore patred by the note of the cuckoo, to a brief and tear- tern, the divine Miranda? Of that pretty Pagan stained page; and henceforth the voice of the Imogen, what would she make? Imagine her bird seems vocal with his name, and wherever, criticism on Lady Macbeth, or on Ophelia's dying from the "engulphed navel" of the wood you speech and confession, or her revelation of the hear its strange, nameless, tameless, wandering, "Family Secrets" of the Merry Wives of Windunearthly voice, you think of the poet who sighed sor! away his soul, and gathered his fame in its praise. Next to her pictures of the domestic affections A Baillie constructs a work "before all ages,' stand Mrs. Hemans's pictures of nature. These are lavishes on it imagination that might suffice for less minute than passionate, less sublime than beaua century of poets, and writes it in colours snatched tiful, less studious than free, broad, and rapid from the sun; and it lies, on some recherché sketches. Her favourite scenery was the woodland, tables, like a foreign curiosity, to be seen, shown, a taste in which we can thoroughly sympathise. In and lifted, rather than to be read and pondered. the wood there is a fulness, a roundness, a rich harA William Miller sings, one gloaming, his "Weemony, and a comfort, which soothe and completeWillie Winkie;" and the nurseries of an entirely satisfy the imagination. There, too, there is nation re-echo the simple strains, and every Scottish mother blesses, in one breath, her babe and his poet. We mention this, not entirely to approve, but in part to wonder at it. It is not just that one strain from a lute or a pan's-pipe should survive a thunder-psalm-that effusions should eclipse works.
Mrs. Hemans's poems are strictly effusions. And not a little of their charm springs from their unstudied and extempore character. This, too, is in fine keeping with the sex of the writer.
much life and motion. The glens, the still moorlands, and the rugged hills, will not move, save to one master finger, the finger of the earthquake, who is chary of his great displays. But before cach lightest touch of the breeze the complacent leaves of the woodland begin to stir, and the depth of solitude seems instantly peopled, and from perfect silence there comes a still small voice, so sweet and sudden, that it is, as if every leaf were the tongue of a separate spirit. Her favourite season was the autumn, though her finest verses are dedi
her brilliant eyes, have been to the noble boy Percy Byshe Shelley, when he came first to Oxford, a fair-haired, bright-eyed enthusiast, on whose cheek and brow, and in whose eye was already beginning to burn a fire, which ultimately enwrapped his whole being in flames! wanting, which was largely mixed in Shelley's, In Mrs. Hemans's melancholy, one "simple" was that of faithless despondency, cheered by faith-by a soft and noble form-of the softest noblest faith-a form, reminding us Her spirit was much from its balance of human, poetical, and celestial elements of that of Jeremy Taylor-the Shakspeare of divines. Although, as we have said, her poetry is not, of prepense and purpose, the express image of her religious thought, yet it is a rich illustration of the religious tendency of the female mind. Indeed, females may be called the natural guardians of morality and faith. shall always be safe in the depths of the female intellect, and of the female heart-an intellect, These the essence of which is worship-a heart, the element of which is love. Unhired, disinterested, spontaneous is the aid they give to the blessed
cated to the spring. Here, too, we devoutly parti- | golden brown, and the ever varying expression of cipate in her feelings. The shortening day-the new out-bursting from their veil of daylight of those, in summer, neglected tremblers-the stars -its the yellow corn-the grey and pensive light -the joy of harvest-the fine firing of all the groves (not the " fading but the kindling of the leaf")—the frequent and moaning winds— the spiritual quiet in which, at other times, the stubble fields are bathed the rekindling of the cheerful fires upon the hearth-the leaves falling to their own sad music-the rising stackyards the wild fruit, ripened at the cold sun of the frost -the ineffable gleams of light dropping upon favourite glens or rivers, or hills which shine out like the shoulder of Pelops the beseeching looks with which, trembling on the verge of winter, the belated season seems to say, "Love me well, I am the last of the sisterhood that you can love"-in short, that indescribable charm, which breathes in its very air and colours its very light, and sheds its joy of grief over all things, have concurred with some sweet and some sad associations, to render autumn to us, the loveliest and the dearest of all the seasons. As Mrs. Hemans loved woodland scenery for its kindly "looks of shel-cause-leaning, indeed, in their lovely weakness ter," so she loved the autumn principally for its correspondence with that fine melancholy which was the permanent atmosphere of her being. In one of her letters, speaking of an autumn day, she says, "the day was one of a kind I like, soft, still, and grey, such as makes the earth appear a 'pensive but a happy place."" We have sometimes thought that much of Wordsworth's poetry should always be read, and can never be so fully felt as in the autumn, when "Laodamia," at least, must have been written. Should not poems, as well as pictures, have their peculiar light, in which alone they can properly be seen? Should not Scott be read in spring, Shelley in the fervid summer, Wordsworth in autumn, Cowper and Byron in winter, Shakspeare all the year round?
In many points Mrs. Hemans reminds us of a poet just named, and whom she passionately admired, namely, Shelley. Like him, drooping, fragile, a reed shaken by the wind, a mighty wind, in sooth, too powerful for the tremulous reed on which it discoursed its music; like him, the victim of exquisite nervous organization; like him, verse flowed for and from her, and the sweet sound often overpowered the meaning, kissing it, as it were, to death; like him, she was melancholy, but the sadness of both was musical, tearful, active, not stony, silent and motionless, still less misanthropical and disdainful; like him, she was gentle, playful, they could both run about their prison garden, and dally with the dark chains which, they knew, bound them till death. Mrs. Hemans, indeed, was not like Shelley, a vates; she has never reached his heights, nor sounded his depths, yet they are, to our thought, so strikingly alike, as to seem brother and sister, in one beautiful, but delicate and dying family. Their very appearance must have been similar. How like must the girl, Felicia Dorothea Browne, with the mantling bloom of her cheeks, her hair of a rich
on the "worship of sorrow," they, at the same time, prop it up through the wide and holy influences which they wield. Their piety, too, is no fierce and foul polemic flame-it is that of the feelingsthe quick instinctive sense of duty-the wonderstricken soul and the loving heart-often it is not even a conscious emotion at all-but in Wordsworth's language they lie in
"Abraham's bosom all the year,
And God is with them, when they know it not." tendency of her sex unsoiled by an atom of cant, In Mrs. Hemans's writings you find this pious or bigotry, or exclusiveness; and shaded only by depth: for as man's misery is said to spring from so much pensiveness as attests its divinity and its his greatness, so the gloom which often overhangs proximity to the Infinite and the Eternal. And the earnest spirit arises from its more immediate who would not be ready to sacrifice all the cheap sunshine of earthly success and satisfaction, for even a touch of a shadow so sublime?
teresting than her genius, or than its finest proAfter all, the nature of this poetess is more inductions. These descend upon us like voices from of character far higher than themselves. If not, a mountain summit, suggesting to us an elevation poem. Poetry coloured all her existence with a in a transcendent sense, a poet, her life was a golden light-poetry presided at her needlework
poetry mingled with her domestic and her maternal duties-poetry sat down with her to her piano-poetry fluttered her hair and flushed her cheek in her mountain rambles-poetry quivered in her voice, which was a "sweet sad melody"-poetry accompanied her to the orchard, ous summer day, which she has made immortal as she read the "Talisman," in that long glori
and listened with her to the proud pealing organ,