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HARRY B. SMITH.
R. HOLMES, in "The Autocrat," speaks of the advantages gained by a boy who is able to pass a share of his time tumbling about among the books in a good library. It was because of his being able to do this that the subject of this sketch became interested in books and was led to adopt the profession to which he has always devoted himself.
Harry Bache Smith was born in the City of Buffalo, and has just passed his twenty-ninth birthday. From his father he inherited musical talent and from his mother literary taste. To these he added a gift for drawing and sketching. His love for books, music and pictures developed when he was ten or twelve years old, and much of his time was occupied at the piano, or in the library of rare and curious books owned by his grandfather. It was among these volumes that he became a book-lover and grew to cherish modest literary aspirations. He began to write verses before he entered his teens and, doubtless, he would have tried to publish them, but for judicious parental interference.
His family took up their residence in Chicago shortly before the great fire of 1871, in which their home and his father's business enterprises were swept away. This calamity necessitated an entire change in the plans that had been formed for his future, and he was compelled to abandon the idea of a collegiate education. He lost no opportunities for study, however, devoting himself to the modern languages, music, art and belles-lettres, in addition to the ordinary branches that may be acquired at a public high-school. At the age of fifteen he entered a business house and occupied his evenings and added to his income by writing sketches, verses for music, and newspaper articles. In 1880 he gave up business and entered journalism professionally. He has held positions on the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Herald and Chicago Daily News, acting as musical and dramatic critic, writing humorous articles, specials, and doing all sorts of work. In the years 1885 and 1886 Mr. Smith conducted The Rambler, a weekly paper, from which his verses and humorous sketches were extensively copied. Of late he has been occupied in writing for the stage. His comic opera libretti have met with great success, as Mr. Smith not only writes smooth, melodious verse, but has the faculty of putting together bright and lively dialogue. His principal successes in stage work have been the following burlesques and comic operas: "The Begum,' 'Boccaccio,' Fatinitza,"
"The May Queen," "Clover," and "Captain Fracasse" (all played successfully by the McCaull Opera Company), "The Crystal Slipper," which ran for fourteen weeks in Chicago, "Don Quixote," produced simultaneously by the Bostonians Opera Company and at the Prince of Wales Theater, London, England. These pieces and a dozen more of an ephemeral but entertaining character have been written by Mr. Smith while he continued his regular newspaper work and kept up his contributions to several magazines and periodicals.
It seems to me that the verse of Mr. Smith exhibits in a remarkable degree the vivacity, happy conceit and clever turns of language that are necessary for a successful writer of vers de société. His meter is always correct, his rhymes (except where purposely far-fetched) exceptionally perfect. Wit, rather than humor; conceits, rather than sentiment, and pleasure, rather than emotion, are the ruling motives of Mr. Smith's verse. He, however, occasionally, as in "Love, the Warrior," shows that he can do a very much higher class of work than the light and vivacious verse by which he has won recognition in the press of America.
LOVE, THE WARRIOR. LOVE in panoply of pride Tossed his crown of curls aside, Rose and all the world defied:
"Where's a foe who will not yield To my glance the sword I wield, And a tender sigh-my shield?
"My fair standard is my brow, Trust and truth there shining now; And my war-song is a vow. "I've a promise for a spear; I've a love-song for a cheer, And my armor is a tear. "Should my weapons go amiss, I can vanquish all in bliss With my coup-de-grace-a kiss. "Hatred dared my power to brave; But I faced the vicious knave, Vanquished him and then forgave.
"Faithlessness my might denied And my courage sorely tried; Faithlessness grew faint and died.
"Doubt once filled my heart with dread. Eyes met eyes; the traitor fled. Soul faced soul, and Doubt was dead.
"Anger sought to do me ill,
Felt my sword his stern heart thrill, Saw my armor, and was still.
"Jealousy enraged drew near;
But my standard and my spear
"But a foe of power immense
"He with dull, insensate stare,
With no heart to feel and care,
"Scorns and spurns my shield of sighs
"He can neither feel nor fear.
For a smile he gives a sneer,
"If perchance my weapon be
"Blows that hopefully I aim
Give him glory, give me shame.
"Gainst a foe that's dead and cold
It is a crypt, this cabinet;
A love affair is buried here;
Its requiem a faint regret,
And scented letters for a bier. Its wreaths, dead roses interlaced With memories of ball and fête, While for a headstone I have placed A potrait in a paper-weight.
Here, lies as ashes in an urn,
A verse or two I learned to quote, The notes I had no heart to burn, Our letters-what a lot we wrote! A silken tress of sunny strands, A ribbon that I used to prize, A glove-she had such tiny hands!— A miniature with deep, dark eyes.
'Tis with a smile I view to-day
AT THE CHURCH DOOR.
ALICE has gone to confession.
What has the girl to confess? What little, idle transgression Causes my sweetheart distress? Is it her fondness for dress That needs a priest's intercession, And brings that pensive expression Into her eyes' loveliness? What has the maid to confess?
Is it some little flirtation,
She who lives always so purely
Can not so gravely transgress. One who can smile so demurely Can not have much to confess. Let me for pardon address, For I am guiltier, surely.
Sin your small sins, then, securely. If it is I that they bless,
Mine be the task to confess.
THEN AND NOW.
YN dayse yf olde if any fayre one proved
Thus when a mayde's affections tooke a journeye
In modern days, if any fickle jade
ROSE HAWTHORNE LATHROP.
NEW element has entered into poetry and given it a subtle flavor that it did not possess before, and we are indebted to woman for this added charm. It is the element of suggestiveness, the giving of just enough to awaken interest to stimulate thought, and then to leave the reader's mind to carry on the successive pictures, called to life by the first limning. This is undoubtedly a result of that finer intuition which a woman possesses, and which enables her to gather from a half-formed sentence, a glance, or a gesture, a knowledge of the mind-force lying back of these. Mrs. Helen Hunt Jackson possessed this quality in a marked degree, and it shines forth with strong radiance from the pages of a little volume of poems published about a year ago, entitled, "Along the Shore," the work of Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and wife of George Parsons Lathrop.
Mrs. Lathrop has been a contributor of stories, essays and poems to the Princeton Review, Scribner's Magazine and the Harper periodicals, and of daintily flavored sketches for young people to St. Nicholas and Wide-Awake, but her only printed volume is the tasteful little book named above. It contains about one hundred pages, but they are pages replete with the charm that has been mentioned. Perhaps the statement may cause some reader to shake the head and say: "That is a poetic attribute always, and is possessed by the older generation of writers, and by men as well as women." Careful study will, however, show otherwise. The older poets have a directness in their methods of work that leaves little play for the mind. The story is told in detail, the thought plainly written out, the moral added. This is not so in Mrs. Lathrop's work. The artist power is there, the sorcerer's charm, that outlines on the canvas shapes and forebodings of beauty, but there is something left for the reader's mind, a distance that can be filled with kindred pictures, till a vast gallery expands on and on, and reaches the border of that mist-haunted land, the realm of surmise.
Of Mrs. Lathrop's life little can be written. It is, perhaps, best shown in her work. One can pick out, here and there, the heart-throbs that are the soul's aspirations, and this is all that interests the world. The items that she was born in Lenox, Mass., in 1851, that she married George Parsons Lathrop, the author, and that her home and literary work absorb her attention, fill, with what she has written, the sum of her life.
And from what has been so well begun may not much more that is better be expected? It is but natural to think so, for good work is almost always the precursor of higher aims and achievements. T. S. C.
THE GREATER WORLD.
WHEN you forget the beauty of the scene,
The heights, the fields, the wide-winged air
Not city streets. That little life of care
Live with the spaces, wake with bird and cloud,
Our home is nature, even to the proud
Then say the scene God made is glorious!
THE GHOSTS OF REVELERS.
AT PURPLE eves beside the grain
Our loves on altars we had burned,
Our tears, when rosy dawn returned.
At purple eves beside the rim
Of frozen lakes our loves we burned, And slid away when stillness reigned: Deep the vast woods our bodies urned. In starlit night along the shade
Of our dusk tombs our spirits glide; We hear the echoing of the wind, We breathe the sighs we, living, sighed.
A SONG BEFORE GRIEF.
SORROW, my friend,
When shall you come again?
The wind is slow, and the bent willows send
That sang this morning through the summer rain!