« AnkstesnisTęsti »
nor a Keats, nor yet a Tennyson, which last he much | fectly splendid as that in which Mr. Burns bas presented affects, if he follows any one ; yet the rhapsodist of the his Rhymes, Tales, and Jingles. The copy before us is forests and solitudes of the New World is not one to be marked a second edition, improved. We think there is neglected, into whatever unshapely fashion he may throw no probability of a third edition appearing " improved," his clear, his mystical, or his nearly unintelligible also in matters of gilding, binding, and illustration. The thoughts. No just idea could be given of this singular next improvement must be in the literature. And while collection of poems by any one or two detached pieces. the book seems rather fine 'for the very young people of We therefore, in justice to the author, forbear extracting. 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 ILLUSTRATED WORKS.
Ilubbard and her Cat,'' Old King Cole," "The House that IIeath's ILLUSTRATED NEW TESTAMENT. London : Jack built,” and still less poetical fragments of the past, Chapman and Wall.—We have no recollection of having in morocco, covered with gilding and fancifully decorated ever met, amongst the magnificent editions of the Scriptures lead us to hope that Mr. Burns may take some of the that have recently been issued, any work more truly superb old ballads a step above the nursery next in hand. than the four parts, embracing to the 25th chapter of
The Bor's Own LIBRARY. WINTER BOOK-AUTUMX Matthew's Gospel, of this edition. The typography and
Book. London : Chapman & Hall.—The Title page paper of the edition are beautiful, but the strength of the work is in its engravings. In this respect it has no cqual. have a particularly neat appearar.ce. The other illustra
and Vignettes to these small volumes, printed in colours, And all who appreciate the application of the highest art
tions are of fair wood engraving; and the exteriors are to the finest subjects, will place on this New Testament pretty without being showy or pretending. The matter a very high value.
is, however, in every respect excellent. The style is betThe Christian IN Palestine. — London: George ter than has generally been bestowed on large books, and Virtue.--- A serial work, which we have previously no- the matter is unexceptionable, at least we deem it so, ticed, containing in each number, four engravings of perhaps some few game preservers would think otherwise scenery in the Holy Land, accompanied with letter of such passages as the following :press. The engravings are remarkable for their clear
“Every boy, who knows anything of the country, must ness ; and although we have yet to make “the new be aware, that if a hare or rabbit is in a particular field crusade,” yet we have some good indirect reasons for or wood on one day, it may by night be a mile or two off, believing that they represent faithfully the scenes de- feeding on the cabbages in some poor man's garden. We scribed. The illustrations are by Mr. Bartlett, and the sheep, but what right he has to a wild animal, or to a
can understand a man laying claim to a pig, an ass, or a letter-press by Dr. Stebbing. Notwithstanding Mr. D' bird, which is here to-day and there to-morrow, any more Israeli's opinion, that Syria is a neglected land, and the than the poorest peasant, who may chance to meet with it eastern question misunderstood, yet we believe that this
on a common, we were never yet able to understand ; and
yet were the poor peasant to capture either the one or work is very popular.
the other on the wide, open common, he must either pay ROYAL GEMS FROM THE GALLERIES OF EUROPE. Lon- a heavy fine or go to prison. Sorry should I be were any don : George Virtue. --The object of this work is to
of you to attempt to take a single head of game ; for, as
the law now stands, such an act would bring you into present, at a cheap rate, first class engravings from trouble, and, unjust as I consider the game law, whilst it paintings of acknowledged excellence. The engravings exists, it must be obeyed. My object is to show you, in this number are the Adoration from Murillo--the that beautful as are our English laws, they are still caTwo Sisters, a German painting ; and The Wayfarers, pable of amendment; and that, although compiled by
wise and learned men, like all other human institutions, an English scene. In all the parts that we have seen, they yet remain imperfect.” the plates are arranged in the same varied style ; and
If we were interested in the preservation of the game they are executed with a care befitting the subjects, laws, we should not like to have them attacked in such which are accompanied by notes written by Mr. S. C. Hall. This work is of permanent value.
But from every natural object publications as these.
that crosses the boy's path in spring or winter, the author NURSERY RHYMES, Tales, AND JINGLES. London: gathers something to say. The object is not always, or James Burns.—We do not know that the literature of often, a partridge or hare, and therefore the moral is not the nursery, has ever appeared before in a garb so per- often political in its character.
PRINTED BY GEORGE TROUP, 29, DUNLOP STREET, GLASGOW.
TAIT'S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.
FEMALE AUTHORS. No. 1.--MRS. HEMANS.
A GALLERY OF LITERARY PORTRAITS."
BY GEORGE GILFILLAN, AUTHOR OF
Female authorship is, if not a great, certainly a quiet and lovely presence; by its very gentleness, a singular fact. And if a singular fact in this overawing as well as refining and beautifying it century, what must it have been in the earlier all. One principal characteristic of female writages of the world—when it existed as certainly ing in our age is its sterling sense. It is told of as now, and was more than now a phenomenon, Coleridge, that he was accustomed, on important standing often insulated and alone? If, even in emergencies, to consult a female friend, placing this age, blues are black-balled and homespun is implicit confidence in her first instructive suggesstill the “only wear,” and music, grammar, and tions. If she proceeded to add her reasons, he gramarye are the three elements, legitimately in- checked her immediately. “Leave these, madam, cluded and generally expected in the education of to me to find out.” We find this rare and valuable woman, in what light must the Aspasias and the sense- this short-hand reasoning - exemplified Sapphos of the past have been regarded ? Pro- in our lady authors' producing, even in the absence bably as lusus natura, in whom a passionate at- of original genius, or of profound penetration, or tachment to literature was pardoned as a pleasant of wide experience, a sense of perfect security, as peecadillo, or agreeable insanity; just as a slight we follow their gentle guidance. Indeed, on all squint in the eye of a beauty, or even a far-off questions affecting proprieties, decorums, what we faux pas in her reputation, is still not unfrequently may call the ethics of sentimentalism, minor as forgiven. But alas : in our age, the exception well as major morals, their verdict may be conis likely soon to become the rule—the lusus sidered oracular, and without appeal. But we the law; and, at all events, of female author dare not say that we consider them entitled to ship, the least gallant of critics is compelled now speak with equal authority on those higher and to take cognizance ; and without absolutely ad- | deeper questions, where not instinct nor heart, mitting this as our characteristic, we must con- but severe and tried intellect is qualified to return fess the diffidence as well as the good-will where the responses. We remark, too, in the writings with we approach a subject where respect for of females, a tone of greater generosity than inz truth and respect for the sex are sometimes apt to those of men. They are more candid and amijostle and jar.
able in their judgments of authors and of books. The works of British women have now taken Commend us to female critics. They are not up, not by courtesy but by right, a full and con- eternally consumed by the desire of being witty, spicuous place in our literature. They constitute astute, and severe, of carping at what they could an elegant library in themselves; and there is not equal—of hewing down what they could or hardly a department in science, in philosophy, in would not have built up. The principle, nil morals, in politics, in the belles lettres, in fiction, admirari, is none of theirs; and whether it be or in the fine arts, but has been occupied, and that a sneer disfigures their beautiful lips, it is ably occupied by a lady. This certainly pro- seldom seen upon them. And in correspondence claims a high state of cultivation on the part of with this, it is curious that (in our judgments, the many which has thus flowered out into com- and we suspect theirs) the worst critics are perposition in the case of the few. It exhibits an sons who dislike the sex, and whom the sex disextension and refinement of that element of female likes-musty, fusty old bachelors, such as Gillord, influence which, in the private intercourse of or certain pedantic prigs in the press of the presociety, has been productive of such blessed efiects sent day. Ladies, on the other hand, are seldom —it mingles with the harsh tone of general litera- severe judges of anything, except each other's ture, as the lute pierceth through the cymbal’s | dress and deportment; and in defect of profound clash”-it blends with it a vein of delicate discri- principles, they are helped out by that fine inmination, of mild charity, and of purity of morals stinctive sense of theirs, which partakes of the -gives it a healthy and happy tone, the tone of genial nature, and verges upon genius itself. the fireside; it is in the chamber of our literature, Passing from such preliminary remarks, we
YOL VIY, NO. CIII.
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 Hemaus 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- duetor 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. Sho 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 We wish not to be misunderstood. Mrs. Hethe finest compliment that it is possible to pay mans had something more than the common to woman, as a moral being—is to compare her to belief of all poets in the existence of the beautiful. “one of Shakspeare's women,” and to say, had She was a genuine woman, and, therefore, the Imogen, or Isabella, or Cornelia become an sequence (as we shall see speedily) is irresistible, authoress, she had so written.
a true Christian. Nor has she feared to set her Sometimes, indeed, Mrs. Hemans herself seems creed to music in her poetry. But it was as a reduced, through the warmth of her temperament, betrayal, rather than as a purpose, that she so did. the facility and rapidity of her execution, and the She was more the organ of sentiment and sensiintensely lyrical tone of her genius, to dream that. bility than of high and solemn truth-more a the shadow of the Pythoness is waving behind golden morning mist, now glittering and then her, and controlling the motions of her song. To gone in the sun, than a steady dial at once meekly herself she appears to be uttering oracular deliver- reflecting and faithfully watching and measuring ances. Alas! "oracles speak," and her poetry, as his beams. to all effective utterance of original truth, is silent. She was, as Lord Jeffrey well remarks, an It isemotion only that is audible to the sharpestear admirable writer of occasional verses. She has that listens to her song. A bee wreathing round caught, in her poetry, passing words of her own you in the warm summer morn, her singing mind-meditations of the sleepless night-trancircle gives you as much new insight into the uni- sient glimpses of thought, visiting hier in her verse as do the sweetest strains which have ever serener hours—the “ silver lining” of those issued from this “ voice of spring.” We are re- cloudy feelings which preside over her darkerluctantly compelled, therefore, to deny her, in its and the impressions made upon her mind by the highest sense, the name of poet—a word often more remarkable events of her every-day lifeabused, often misapplied in mere compliment or and the more exciting passages of her reading. courtesy, but which ought ever to retain its stern Her works are a versified journal of a quiet, and original signification. A maker she is not. ideal, and beautiful life—the life at once of a What dream of childhood has she ever, to any woman and a poetess, with just enough, and no imagination, reborn? whose slumbers has she ever more, of romance to cast around it a mellow peopled with new and terrible visions ? what new autumnal colouring. The songs, hymns, and form or figure has she annexed, like a second odes in which this life is registered are as soft and shadow, to our own idiosyncrasy, to track us on bright as atoms of the rainbow ; like them, tears our way for ever? to what mind has she given transmuted into glory, but, no more than they, such a burning stamp of impression, as it feels great or complete. In many poets we see the eternity itself unable to efface? There is no such germ of greatness, which might in happier cirresult from the poetry of Mrs. Hemans. She is cumstances, or in a more genial season, have been less a maker than a musician, and her works ap- developed. But no such germ can the most micropear rather to rise to the airs of the piano than scopic survey discover in her, and we feel that at that still sad music of humanity-the adequate her death her beautiful but tiny task was done. instrument for the expression of which, has not Indeed, with such delicate organization, and such yet been invented by man. From the tremulous intense susceptiveness as hers, the elaboration, movement, the wailing cadences, the artistic the long reach of thought, the slow cumulative pauses, and the conscious-swelling climaxes of advance, the deep-curbed, yet cherished ambition her verse, we always figure her as modulating, in which a great work requires and implies, are, we spiring, and controlling her thoughts and words fear, incompatible. to the tune of some fine instrument, which is less
s It follows, naturally from this, that her largest the vehical than the creator of the strain. In are her worst productions. They labour under her poetry,consequently, the music rather awakens the fatal defect of tedium. They are a surfeit of the meaning, than does the meaning round and sweets. Conceive an orchard of rose-trees. Who mellow off into the music.
would not, stupified and bewildered by excess and With what purpose does a lady, in whom per extravagance of beauty, prefer the old, sturdy, and fect skill and practice have not altogether drowned well-laden boughs of the pear and pippen, and feel enthusiasm, sit down to her harp, piano, or 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 “Wee mony, 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 Scot. much life and motion. The glens, the still moortish mother blesses, in one breath, her babe and lands, and the rugged hills, will not move, save to his poet. We mention this, not entirely to ap- one master finger, the finger of the earthquake, prove, but in part to wonder at it. It is not just who is chary of his great displays. But before that one strain from a lute or a pan’s-pipe should cach lightest touch of the breeze the complacent survive a thunder-psalm--that effusions should leaves of the woodland begin to stir, and the depth eclipse works.
of solitude seems instantly peopled, and from perMrs. Hemans's poems are strictly effusions. fect silence there comes a still small voice, so sweet And not a little of their charm springs from and sudden, that it is, as if every leaf were the their unstudied and extempore character. This, tongue of a separate spirit. Her favourite season too, is in fine keeping with the sex of the writer. was the autumn, though her finest verses are dedicated to the spring. Here, too, we devoutly parti- golden brown, and the ever varying expression of cipate in her feelings. The shortening day—the her brilliant eyes, have been to the noble boy new out-bursting from their veil of daylight of Percy Byshe Shelley, when he came first to Oxthose, in summer, neglected tremblers—the stars ford, a fair-haired, bright-eyed enthusiast, on -its the yellow corn—the grey and pensive light whose cheek and brow, and in whose eye was althe joy of harvest—the fine firing of all the ready beginning to burn a fire, which ultimately groves (not the “fading but the kindling of enwrapped his whole being in flames! the leaf”)—the frequent and moaning winds- In Mrs. Hemans's melancholy,one “simple” was the spiritual quiet in which, at other times, the wanting, which was largely mixed in Shelley's, stubble fields are bathed—the rekindling of the that of faithless despondency, Her spirit was cheerful fires upon the hearth—the leaves falling cheered by faith-by a soft and noble form of to their own sad music—the rising stackyards, the softest noblest faith—a form, reminding us the wild fruit, ripened at the cold sun of the frost much from its balance of human, poetical, and -the ineffable gleams of light dropping upon fa- celestial elements of that of Jeremy Taylor-the vourite glens or rivers, or hills which shine out Shakspeare of divines. Although, as we have like the shoulder of Pelops—the beseeching looks said, her poetry is not, of prepense and purpose, with which, trembling on the verge of winter, the the express image of her religious thought, yet it belated season seems to say, “Love me well, I am is a rich illustration of the religious tendency of the the last of the sisterhood that you can love”-in female mind. Indeed, females may be called the short, that indescribable charm, which breathes in natural guardians of morality and faith. These its very air and colours its very light, and sheds shall always be safe in the depths of the female its joy of grief over all things, have concurred intellect, and of the female heart-an intellect, with some sweet and some sad associations, to the essence of which is worship—a heart, the elerender autumn to us, the loveliest and the dear- ment of which is love. Unhired, disinterested, est of all the seasons. As Mrs. Hemans loved spontaneous is the aid they give to the blessed woodland scenery for its kindly “looks of shel-cause-leaning, indeed, in their lovely weakness ter,'' so she loved the autumn principally for its on the “worship of sorrow,” they, at the same correspondence with that fine melancholy which time, prop it up through the wide and holy influwas the permanent atmosphere of her being. In ences which they wield. Their piety, too, is no fierce one of her letters, speaking of an autumn day, she and foul polemic flame—it is that of the feelingssays, “the day was one of a kind I like, soft, still, the quick instinctive sense of duty-the wonderand grey, such as makes the earth appear a ‘pen- stricken soul and the loving heart—often it is not sive but a happy place.'' We have sometimes even a conscious emotion at all—but in Wordsthought that much of Wordsworth's poetry should worth's language-they lie in always be read, and can never be so fully felt as “ Abraham's bosom all the year, in the autumn, when “Laodamia,” at least, must Aud God is with them, when they know it not." have been written. Should not poems, as well as In Mrs. Hemans's writings you find this pious pictures, have their peculiar light, in which alone tendency of her sex unsoiled by an atom of cant, they can properly be seen ? Should not Scott be or bigotry, or exclusiveness; and shaded only by read in spring, Shelley in the fervid summer, so much pensiveness as attests its divinity and its Wordsworth in autumn, Cowper and Byron in depth : for as man's misery is said to spring from winter, Shakspeare all the year round ?
his greatness, so the gloom which often overhangs In many points Mrs. Hemans reminds us of a the earnest spirit arises from its more immediate poet just named, and whom she passionately ad proximity to the Infinite and the Eternal. And mired, namely, Shelley. Like him, drooping, fra- who would not be ready to sacrifice all the cheap gile, a reed shaken by the wind, a mighty wind, sunshine of earthly success and satisfaction, for in sooth, too powerful for the tremulous reed on even a touch of a shadow so sublime ? which it discoursed its music ; like him, the vic- After all, the nature of this poetess is more intim of exquisite nervous organization ; like him, teresting than her genius, or than its finest proverse flowed for and from her, and the sweet sound ductions. These descend upon us like voices from often overpowered the meaning, kissing it, as it a mountain summit, suggesting to us an elevation were, to death ; like him, she was melancholy, of character far higher than themselves. If not, but the sadness of both was musical, tearful, ac- in a transcendent sense, a poet, her life was a tive, not stony, silent and motionless, still less poem. Poetry coloured all her existence with a misanthropical and disdainful ; like him, she was golden light-poetry presided at her needlework gentle, playful, they could both run about their -poetry mingled with her domestic and her prison garden, and dally with the dark chains maternal duties—poetry sat down with her to which, they knew, bound them till death. Mrs. her piano-poetry fluttered her hair and flushed Hemans, indeed, was not like Shelley, a vates; her cheek in her mountain rambles—poetry she has never reached his heights, nor sounded quivered in her voice, which was a “sweet sad his depths, yet they are, to our thought, so strik- melody”—poetry accompanied her to the orchard, ingly alike, as to seem brother and sister, in one as she read the “ Talisman,” in that long gloribeautiful, but delicate and dying family. Their ous summer day, which she has made immortal very appearance must have been similar. How like -and poetry attended her to the house of God, must the girl, Felicia Dorothea Browne, with the and listened with her to the proud pealing organ, mantling bloom of her cheeks, her hair of a rich as to an echo from within the veil. Poetry per