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peculiarly sensitive mind, her sor- popular ; but the deep poetry of rows were bitter, nor could all sentiment is not understood by the celebrity which attended her the multitude. We shall be happoetical career, sooth the throb. py if some of our readers, after bings of a wounded spirit. wading through a few pages of
It may seem late to review her Mrs. Hemans, do not mentally life and works; but it was not ask what all the “pother” is till now that the former was fully about ; indeed some men make and authentically written, and quite a merit of saying, “I never that the latter were collected, cut open a poem." And yet if together with her unpublished our Creator has given us imapieces; and we also owe her me- gination, and the deep springs mory a debt, for a large portion of of emotion, why should not they her lyrics being scattered, as they be exercised, both for lawful re. were thrown off, in various pub- creation and for moral benefit; lications, we have never adorn- and the Christian ought not to ed our pages with more than an say of any faculty, that it cannot occasional extract. Few persons be consecrated to the glory of comparatively in these days of God. large and rapid publication, and We ought perhaps to excuse in the present distaste for poetry, our neglect of Mrs. Hemans, by will possess themselves of seven remarking that rich, beautiful, and volumes of one author's versifica- affecting as is her poetry, it is tion; but a few pages of extract not generally of that class which from such valuable stores will,
call strictly religious. we doubt not, be generally accep. Even in many of her more devout table. The memoir is entirely new; pieces, there is no distinct alluand most of the poems will be so to sion to the peculiarities of the the majority of our readers; and Gospel of our Redeemer. There should we quote, as we purpose, is a radiant glow, but it partakes some pieces better known, their more of sentiment than piety. In merit will render them acceptable the evangelical school of Montfor re-perusal.
gomery, Christian doctrines, and We have in our possession let in the mystical school of Keble, ters from several of the most emis Christian mysteries, and in both nent of the living masters of Christian emotions, are constantly poetry, lamenting the neglect into prominent. Mrs. Hemans is more which their once-honoured art is the poetess of nature; and what is fallen. There is scarcely any en- religious often appears rather as couragement in the literary mar- unfolded in the pages of creation ket for the article ; the booksellers than in those of inspiration. Still are afraid to touch it; and instead to the devout mind her strains of our Southeys, Milmans, Mont- suggest devotional feelings; and gomerys, Wordsworths, and Cro- they are eminently calculated to lys finding their once popular soften the heart to serious emotions. works called for in repeated edi. We fear almost to let the last tions, it is only by condensing paragraph stand, lest in it we several expensive volumes into a should have borne false wita cheap duodecimo, that the pub- ness; for there are many paslic can be induced to trouble sages, and some whole poems, esthemselves about the matter. pecially among her later produc
The real admirers of poetry of tions, which may be quoted against a high order are few. Dramatic us, and we shall be very glad to and inflammatory poetry are still have our sentence modified or
lift mine eye,
reversed, are only
Shall he not then thy guardian be? ious that the line should be clearly Will not his aid extend to thee?
Oh! safely may'st thou rest! marked between poetical emotion Trust in his love, and e'en should pain, and specific Christianity. In her Should sorrow tempt thee to complain, “Hymns for Childhood," pub- Know what He wills is best. lished in 1834, the year before her death, we meet with many duction, and in a higher cast of
We will copy a still later propassages which are distinctive; as for example:
poetry, from her “Scenes and Hymns of Life," published only
a few months before her death, THE RIVERS.
It indicates her feelings in the ap. The chief whose mighty deeds we hail, proach of her last hours.
The Monarch throned on high, The peasant in his native vale
A POET'S DYING HYMN. All journey on-to die ! But if Thy guardian care, my God! The blue deep glorious Heavens !-I
The pilgrim's course attend, I will not fear the dark abode
And bless thee, O my God! that I To which my footsteps bend.
have met For thence thine all-redeeming Son,
And own'd thine image in the majesty Who died the world to save,
Of their calm temple still !-that In light, in triumph, rose, and won
never yet The victory from the grave !
There bath thy face been shrouded from
By noontide blaze, or sweeping storm THE NIGHTINGALE.
of night: At that calm hour, so still, so pale,
I bless thee, O my God! Awakes the lonely nightingale ; Tbat now still clearer, from their pure And from a hermitage of shade Fills with her voice the forest-glade.
I see the mercy of thine aspect shine, And sweeter far that melting voice, Touching death's features with a lovely Than all which through the day rejoice; glance And still shall bard and wanderer love Of light, serenely, solemnly divine, The twilight music of the grove. And leading to each holy star a ray Father in heaven ! oh thus wben day
As of kind eyes, that woo my soul away: With all its cares bath pass'd away,
Í bless thee, O my God! And silent hours waft peace on earth, That by the passion of its deep distress, And hush the louder strains of mirth ; And by the o'erflowing of its mighty Thus may sweet songs of praise and
And by the yearning of its tenderness, praver To Thee my spirit's offering bear ;
Too full for words upon their stream
to bear, Yon star, my signal, set on high, For vesper hymns of piety.
I have been drawn still closer to thy
shrine, So may thy mercy and thy power Well-spring of love, the unfathom'd, the Protect me through the midnight hour;
divine ; And balmy sleep and visions blest
I bless thee, O my God! Smile on thy servant's bed of rest.
That hope hath ne'er my heart or song
forsaken, THE BIRDS.
High hope, which even from mystery, Some, amidst India's groves of palm, doubt, or dread, And spicy forests breathing balm, Calm, rejoicingly the things hath taken
Weave soft their pendent nest; Whereby its torch-light for the race Some deep in Western wilds, display
was fed : Their fairy form and plumage gay, That passing storms have only fanned In rainbow colours drest.
the fire, Others no varied song may pour,
Which pierced them still with its triumMay boast no eagle plume to soar,
phal spire, No tints of light may wear ;
I bless thee, O my God! Yet, know, our heavenly Father guides Now art thou calling me in every gale, The least of these, and well provides Each sound and token of the dying For each, with tenderest care.
Thou leavest me not, though early life And if thy spirit on thy child bath shed grows pale,
The gift, the vision of the unseal'd eye, I am not darkly sinking to decay; To pierce the mist o'er life's deep meanBut hour by hour, my soul's dissolving ings spread, shroud
To reach the hidden fountain-urns Melts off to radiance, as a silvery cloud. that lie I bless thee, O my God! Far in man's heart-if I have kept it free
And pure-a consecration unto thee : And if this earth, with all its choral
I bless thee, O my God! streams, And crowning woods, and soft as
If my soul's utterance hath by tbee been solemn skies,
fraught And mountain sanctuaries for poet's
With an awakening power—if thou
Like the winged seed, the breathings of 'Tis not that fondly I would linger here,
my thought, But that thy foot-prints on its dust
And by the swift winds bid them be
To lands of other lays, and there become
Native as early melodies of home : And that the tender shadowing I behold,
I bless thee, O my God! The tracery veining every leaf and
Not for the brightness of a mortal wreath, flower,
Not for a place midst kingly minstrels Of glories cast in more consummate
dead, mould, No longer vassals to the changeful But that perchance, a faint gale of thy
breath, hour ;
A still small whisper in my song hath That life's last roses to my thoughts
led can bring Rich visions of imperishable spring :
One struggling spirit upwards to thy
throne, I bless thee, O my God!
Or but one hope, one prayer :—for this Yes! the young vernal voices in the alone skies
I bless thee, O my God! Woo me not back, but, wandering That I have loved—that I have known past mine ear,
the love Seem heralds of th' eternal melodies, Which troubles in the soul the tearThe spirit-music, imperturbed and
Yet, with a colouring halo from above, The full of soul, yet passionate no Tinges and glorifies all earthly
things, Let me, too, joining those pure strains, Whate'er its anguish or its woe may be, adore !
Still weaving links for intercourse with I bless thee O my God! thee: Now aid, sustain me still !-to thee I
I bless thee, O my God.
Mrs. Hemans was a Make thou my dwelling where thy
woman children are !
who shrunk from the world's And for the hope of that immortal home, noon-tide glare ; and would have And for thy Son, the bright and morn- been harassed at the anticipation
ing star, The sufferer and the victor-king of death, of being made the subject of a I bless thee with my glad song's dying copious memoir ; but her sister's breath!
apology is, that it is now too late I bless thee, o my
to deprecate or deplore, for that That I have heard thy voice, nor been others have already laid before afraid
the world a portion, and not the In the earth's garden-midst the
most eligible portion, of her cormountains old And the low thrillings of the forest- respondence, and that it is there. shade,
fore best to exhibit a larger and And the wild sound of waters uncon- more adequate selection. trollid
The details of her life were not And upon many a desert plain and shore
numerous ; and they derive their No solitude—for there I feel thee more: chief public interest from their
I bless thee, O my God! connexion with her character
and writings. She was the daugh- same time, at the age of fifteen, ter of an Irish gentleman, Mr. she fell in love with Captain HeBrowne, who had settled as a mans, and he with her; she was merchant in Liverpool, where Fe. then in the full glow of that radi. licia was born in 1793. She was ant beauty which faded in after distinguished from her cradle by years ;-her very mind beaming her personal beauty and preco- in her countenance; and her voice cious talents. Commercial re- and conversation were peculiarly verses caused her father to retire, fascinating. The captain was when she was seven years old, 'to about to embark with his regithe village of Gwrych in Denby- ment for Spain ; but on his reshire, where she passed the next turn their acquaintance was renine years in a large old mansion newed, and they were married in close to the sea, and shut in by the year 1812: This early mara range of picturesque mountains. riage was far from happy. The In this romantic seclusion she causes of the discord are not parspent her happy childhood. She ticularly mentioned in the narrahad a careful and highly gifted tive; nor is it necessary to revive mother to instruct her, and a the subject. The captain's health large library at her command; being much impaired by military and her juvenile verses exhibit fatigues, he went to reside in Italy how well she had profited by her in the year 1818; Mrs. Hemans advantages. But the woods and remaining under her mother's the glens, the waters and the roof at Bronwylfa near St. Asaph mountains, were her favourite (the family having removed thi. books; and in them, and in com- ther from Gwrych) to educate merce with her own heart, she her children--five sisterless boys. acquired the art and mystery of It was not expressly intended that her gentle craft.
the separation should be final; She
learned to read but neither party sought to terFrench, Italian, Spanish, Portu- minate it ; and the result was guese, and German ; and so ex- that they never met again. They traordinary was her memory, corresponded however by letter, that on one occasion, to satisfy and Captain Hemans was the incredulity of one of her bro- sulted respecting the disposal of thers, she learned by heart the their boys; but time rolled on; whole of Heber's Palestine (more seventeen years of absence and than four hundred lines), which consequent alienation ensued, and she had never seen before, in one Mrs. Hemans lived as a widow hour and twenty minutes. She to the end of her life, exerting had a refined taste in drawing and herself by her literary talents to music; and an instinctive affinity support her family. for whatever was sublime or beau- In 1812, shortly before her tiful in art or nature.
marriage, she published her In 1808, her admiring friends “Domestic Affection and other were so injudicious as to publish Poems;" after which appeared in a collection of her childish poet- rapid succession volume after ical efforts in a quarto volume. volume, besides numerous smaller Some of the pieces were remark- pieces, first scattered in magaable as juvenile performances, but zines and annuals, and afterwards they were not fitted to be thus collected. Her poetical career enshrined for the cold-hearted may be divided into two periods, world to gaze vpon. About the the Classic and the Romantic.
Her“ Restoration of the Works sculpture. Every state and city' of Art to Italy ;" her“ Modern every river and mountain, every Greece,” her “ Tales and Histo. grove and glade, brings before ric Scenes,” “Wallace,” “Dart- us the recollection of deeds and moor,” and “The Sceptic,” be- men of heroic fame. Sedate malong to the former period; her jesty, pensive tenderness, breath“ Forest Sanctuary,' " Records less veneration, steal over the of Woman,” and most of her later soul; we are in the land of arts poems, to the latter. Her critics, and arms; of liberty and glory; we believe, generally gave the we see, we hear, we feel all that preference to her second school; fires and exalts the imagination; but the first evinced an academi. all that adds elasticity and ardour cal purity, and a delicacy of finish, to mortal energies ; and gives to which are very pleasing to a well- the ordinary passions and purformed taste, though the thoughts suits of mankind an aspect of may not be so wildly sweet as poetical dignity, of mental eleva. those of the latter. We have not tion, of ideal sublimity. yet in our mature years forgot- But if from the pagan we turn ten so much of our youthful days to the Christian page ; if we as not to be able to enjoy the survey this faded world of en. exquisite beauty and classical po- chantments, not by the flickering lish of Heber's Palestine ; though glare of excited passions, but of poetry less highly polished and a holier lamp which casts all that more romantic may inore forcibly is earthly into shadow ; what then arrest the imagination. Of all do we behold? Like an inspired Mrs. Hemans's productions that apostle, we cease to listen to the which we have always considered Lydian lute or the Doric strain : the most elaborately wrought, and we see no longer a land of gorthe most resembling in ethereal geous palaces and hallowed tembeauty the statues and temples of ples; we exult no more, as the the days of Pericles and Phidias, agonistic champion encircles his the Elgin marbles, or the Apollo brow with wreaths of amaranth, Belvidere, was her
“ Modern or the undaunted matron urges Greece." She seemed to have on her sons to deeds of heroic felt the magic of treading upon glory; we pass by the student classic ground; and if to severe drinking deep at the fountains of dignity was added something of Attic wisdom, and the statesman womanly softness, the combina- pouring forth the exalted conception was but the more captivat- tions of his free-born mind in ing. Greece is a land of thrilling, the majestic strains of Athenian but blended, associations. If we eloquence; - we see but a land regard it only with the recollec- “ wholly given to idolatry." We tions of academical enthusiasm, need not indeed cease to admire we kindle into glowing emotions what is beautiful, or to be charmof wonder and admiration. We ed with what is intrinsically noble; mix with poets and historians, but the contrast is too painful to with philosophers and orators; render the scene pleasurable ; we walk with sages in tranquil ambition and blood usher in and groves; or follow the animated conclude the spectacle; cruelty crowd to scenes of forensic or and rapine fill every palace, and theatrical eloquence ; or pace licentiousness violates every temmarble temples, and gaze en- ple; God is forgotten, and his tranced upon all that is elegant gifts are abused; man, ignorant and splendid in architecture and of his Creator, nay expelling Him