The poet, however, puts out all his strength | head quarters of the insurgent Earls; and dein the dehortation which he makes Francis scribes the first exploits of those conscientious Norton address to his father, when the prepa- warriors; who took possession of the Catherations are completed, and the household is dral of Durham, ready to take the field.

"Francis Norton said,
'O Father! rise not in this fray-
The hairs are white upon your head;
Dear Father, hear me when I say
It is for you too late a day!
Bethink you of your own good name;
A just and gracious queen have we,
A pure religion, and the claim

Of peace on our humanity.

'Tis meet that I endure your scorn,-
I am your son, your eldest born;

The Banner touch not, stay your hand,-
This multitude of men disband,
And live at home in blissful ease.'"'

The warlike father makes no answer to this exquisite address, but turns in silent scorn to the banner,

"And his wet eyes are glorified;"

and forthwith he marches out, at the head of his sons and retainers.

Francis is very sad when thus left alone in the mansion—and still worse when he sees his sister sitting under a tree near the door. However, though "he cannot choose but shrink and sigh," he goes up to her and says,

"Gone are they,-they have their desire; And I with thee one hour will stay, To give thee comfort if I may.'

He paused, her silence to partake,
And long it was before he spake :
Then, all at once, his thoughts turn'd round,
And fervent words a passage found.

Gone are they, bravely, though misled,
With a dear Father at their head!
The Sons obey a natural lord;
The Father had given solemn word
To noble Percy, and a force
Still stronger bends him to his course.
This said, our tears to-day may fall
As at an innocent funeral.
In deep and awful channel runs
This sympathy of Sire and Sons;
Untried our Brothers were belov'd,
And now their faithfulness is prov'd;
For faithful we must call them, bearing
That soul of conscientious daring.'
After a great deal more, as touching and
sensible, he applies himself more directly to
the unhappy case of his hearer-whom he
thus judiciously comforts and flatters:


"Hope nothing, if I thus may speak
To thee a woman, and thence weak;
Hope nothing, I repeat; for we
Are doom'd to perish utterly;
'Tis meet that thou with me divide
The thought while I am by thy side.
Acknowledging a grace in this,
A comfort in the dark abyss:
But look not for me when I am gone,
And be no farther wrought upon.
Farewell all wishes, all debate,

All prayers for this cause, or for that!
Weep, if that aid thee; but depend
Upon no help of outward friend;
Espouse thy doom at once, and cleave
To fortitude without reprieve.'

It is impossible, however, to go regularly on with this goodly matter. The Third Canto brings the Nortons and their banner to the

Sang Mass, and tore the book of Prayer,-
And trod the Bible beneath their feet.'

Elated by this triumph, they turn to the south.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

However, they are tolerably reconciled that evening; and by and by, just a few minutes after nine, an old retainer of the house comes to comfort her, and is sent to follow the host and bring back tidings of their success.-The worthy yeoman sets out with great alacrity; but not having much hope, it would appear, of the cause, says to himself as he goes, "Grant that the moon which shines this night,

May guide them in a prudent flight!'"-p. 75. Things however had already come to a still worse issue-as the poet very briefly and ingeniously intimates in the following fine lines: "Their flight the fair moon may not see; For, from mid-heaven, already she Hath witness'd their captivity!"-p. 75.

They had made a rash assault, it seems, on Barnard Castle, and had been all made prisoners, and forwarded to York for trial.

The Fifth Canto shows us Emily watching on a commanding height for the return of her faithful messenger; who accordingly arrives forthwith, and tells, 'as gently as could be,' the unhappy catastrophe which he had come soon enough to witness. The only comfort he can offer is, that Francis is still alive. "To take his life they have not dar'd.

On him and on his high endeavour
The light of praise shall shine for ever!
Nor did he (such Heaven's will) in vain
His solitary course maintain;
Nor vainly struggled in the might
Of duty seeing with clear sight."-p. 85.

He then tells how the father and his eight sons were led out to execution; and how Francis, at his father's request, took their banner, and promised to bring it back to Bolton Priory.

The Sixth Canto opens with the homeward | ful doe; but so very discreetly and cautiously pilgrimage of this unhappy youth; and there written, that we will engage that the most is something so truly forlorn and tragical in tender-hearted reader shall peruse it without his situation, that we should really have the least risk of any excessive emotion. The thought it difficult to have given an account poor lady runs about indeed for some years in of it without exciting some degree of interest a very disconsolate way, in a worsted gown or emotion. Mr. Wordsworth, however, re- and flannel nightcap: But at last the old white serves all his pathos for describing the white- doe finds her out, and takes again to following ness of the pet doe, and disserting about her her-whereupon Mr. Wordsworth breaks out perplexities, and her high communion, and into this fine and natural rapture. participation of Heaven's grace;-and deals in this sort with the orphan son, turning from the bloody scaffold of all his line, with their luckless banner in his hand.

"He look'd about like one betray'd;

What hath he done? what promise made?
Oh weak, weak moment! to what end
Can such a vain oblation tend,
And he the Bearer?-Can he go
Carrying this instrument of woe,
And find, find any where, a right
To excuse him in his Country's sight?
No, will not all Men deem the change
A downward course? perverse and strange?
Here is it, but how, when? must she,
The unoffending Emily
Again this piteous object see?

Such conflict long did he maintain
Within himself, and found no rest;
Calm liberty he could not gain;
And yet the service was unblest.
His own life into danger brought
By this sad burden-even that thought
Rais'd self-suspicion, which was strong,
Swaying the brave Man to his wrong:
And how, unless it were the sense
Of all-disposing Providence,
Its will intelligibly shown,
Finds he the Banner in his hand,
Without a thought to such intent ?"
pp. 99, 100.

His death is not much less pathetic. A troop of the Queen's horse surround him, and reproach him, we must confess with some plausibility, with having kept his hands unarmed, only from dread of death and forfeiture, while he was all the while a traitor in his heart. The sage Francis answers the insolent troopers as follows:

"I am no traitor,' Francis said,

Though this unhappy freight I bear;
It weakens me; my heart hath bled
Till it is weak-but you beware,
Nor do a suffering Spirit wrong,
Whose self-reproaches are too strong
p. 103.


This virtuous and reasonable person, however, has ill luck in all his dissuasories; for one of the horsemen puts a pike into him without more ado-and

"There did he lie of breath forsaken!" And after some time the neighbouring peasAants take him up, and bury him in the churchyard of Bolton Priory.

The Seventh and last Canto contains the history of the desolated Emily and her faith

"Oh, moment ever blest! O Pair!
Belov'd of Heaven, Heaven's choicest care!
This was for you a precious greeting,-
For both a bounteous, fruitful meeting.
Join'd are they; and the sylvan Doe
Can she depart? can she forego
The Lady, once her playful Peer?

[blocks in formation]

p. 126.

In due time the poor lady dies, and is buried beside her mother; and the doe continues to haunt the places which they had frequented together, and especially to come and pasture every Sunday upon the fine grass in Bolton churchyard, the gate of which is never opened but on occasion of the weekly service. In consequence of all which, we are assured by Mr. Wordsworth, that she 'is approved by Earth and Sky, in their benignity;' and moreover, that the old Priory itself takes her for a daughter of the Eternal Primewhich we have no doubt is a very great compliment, though we have not the good luck to understand what it means.

Communication, like the ray

Of a new morning, to the nature
And prospects of the inferior Creature!"

"And aye, methinks, this hoary Pile,
Subdued by outrage and decay,
Looks down upon her with a smile,
A gracious smile, that seems to say,


Thou, thou art not a Child of Time,
But Daughter of the Eternal Prime!'"

(October, 1829.)

1. Records of Women: with other Poems. By FELICIA HEMANS. 2d Edition. 12mo. pp. 323. Edinburgh: 1828.

2. The Forest Sanctuary: with other Poems. By FELICIA HEMANS. 2d Edition, with Additions. 12mo. pp. 325. Edinburgh: 1829.

While, in their perceptions of grace, propriety, ridicule-their power of detecting artifice, hypocrisy, and affectation-the force and promptitude of their sympathy, and their capacity of noble and devoted attachment, and of the efforts and sacrifices it may require, they are, beyond all doubt, our Superiors.

WOMEN, we fear, cannot do every thing; nor even every thing they attempt. But what they can do, they do, for the most part, excellently-and much more frequently with an absolute and perfect success, than the aspirants of our rougher and more ambitious sex. They cannot, we think, represent naturally the fierce and sullen passions of men-nor their Their business being, as we have said, with coarser vices-nor even scenes of actual busi- actual or social life, and the colours it receives ness or contention-nor the mixed motives, from the conduct and dispositions of individand strong and faulty characters, by which uals, they unconsciously acquire, at a very affairs of moment are usually conducted on early age, the finest perception of character the great theatre of the world. For much and manners, and are almost as soon instinctof this they are disqualified by the delicacy ively schooled in the deep and more dangerof their training and habits, and the still more ous learning of feeling and emotion; while disabling delicacy which pervades their con- the very minuteness with which they make ceptions and feelings; and from much they and meditate on these interesting observaare excluded by their necessary inexperience tions, and the finer shades and variations of of the realities they might wish to describe- sentiment which are thus treasured and reby their substantial and incurable ignorance corded, trains their whole faculties to a nicety of business-of the way in which serious and precision of operation, which often disaffairs are actually managed-and the true closes itself to advantage in their application nature of the agents and impulses that give to studies of a different character. When movement and direction to the stronger cur- women, accordingly, have turned their minds rents of ordinary life. Perhaps they are also -as they have done but too seldom-to the incapable of long moral or political investiga- exposition or arrangement of any branch of tions, where many complex and indeterminate knowledge, they have commonly exhibited, elements are to be taken into account, and a we think, a more beautiful accuracy, and a variety of opposite probabilities to be weighed more uniform and complete justness of thinkbefore coming to a conclusion. They are ing, than their less discriminating brethren. generally too impatient to get at the ultimate There is a finish and completeness, in short, results, to go well through with such discus-about every thing they put out of their hands, sions; and either stop short at some imper- which indicates not only an inherent taste for fect view of the truth, or turn aside to repose elegance and neatness, but a habit of nice in the shade of some plausible error. This, observation, and singular exactness of judghowever, we are persuaded, arises entirely ment. from their being seldom set on such tedious tasks. Their proper and natural business is the practical regulation of private life, in all its bearings, affections, and concerns; and the questions with which they have to deal in that most important department, though often of the utmost difficulty and nicety, involve, for the most part, but few elements; and may generally be better described as delicate than intricate;-requiring for their solution rather a quick tact and fine perception, than a patient or laborious examination. For the same reason, they rarely succeed in long works, even on subjects the best suited to their genius; their natural training rendering them equally averse to long doubt and long labour. For all other intellectual efforts, however, either of the understanding or the fancy, and requiring a thorough knowledge either of man's strength or his weakness, we apprehend them to be, in all respects, as well qualified as their brethren of the stronger sex: 60

It has been so little the fashion, at any time, to encourage women to write for publication, that it is more difficult than it should be, to prove these truths by examples. Yet there are enough, within the reach of a very careless and superficial glance over the open field of literature, to enable us to explain, at least, and illustrate, if not entirely to verify, our assertions. No Man, we will venture to say, could have written the Letters of Madame de Sevigné, or the Novels of Miss Austin, or the Hymns and Early Lessons of Mrs. Barbauld, or the Conversations of Mrs. Marcet. Those performances, too, are not only essentially and intensely feminine; but they are, in our judgment, decidedly more perfect than any masculine productions with which they can be brought into comparison. They ac complish more completely all the ends at which they aim; and are worked out with a gracefulness and felicity of execution which excludes all idea of failure, and entirely satis2 P 2

that belongs to them, from the legends of different nations, and the most opposite states of society; and has contrived to retain much of what is interesting and peculiar in each of them, without adopting, along with it, any of the revolting or extravagant excesses which may characterise the taste or manners of the people or the age from which it has been derived. She has transfused into her German or Scandinavian legends the imaginative and daring tone of the originals, without the mystical exaggerations of the one, or the painful fierceness and coarseness of the other-she has preserved the clearness and elegance of the French, without their coldness or affectation

fies the expectations they may have raised. We might easily have added to these instances. There are many parts of Miss Edgeworth's earlier stories, and of Miss Mitford's sketches and descriptions, and not a little of Mrs. Opie's, that exhibit the same fine and penetrating spirit of observation, the same softness and delicacy of hand, and unerring truth of delineation, to which we have alluded as characterising the purer specimens of female art. The same distinguishing traits of woman's spirit are visible through the grief and piety of Lady Russel, and the gaiety, the spite, and the venturesomeness of Lady Mary Wortley. We have not as yet much female poetry; but there is a truly feminine tender--and the tenderness and simplicity of the ness, purity, and elegance, in the Psyche of early Italians, without their diffuseness or Mrs. Tighe, and in some of the smaller pieces langour. Though occasionally expatiating, of Lady Craven. On some of the works of somewhat fondly and at large, among the Madame de Staël-her Corinne especially-sweets of her own planting, there is, on the there is a still deeper stamp of the genius of whole, a great condensation and brevity in her sex. Her pictures of its boundless de- most of her pieces, and, almost without exvotedness-its depth and capacity of suffering ception, a most judicious and vigorous con-its high aspirations-its painful irritability, clusion. The great merit, however, of her and inextinguishable thirst for emotion, are poetry, is undoubtedly in its tenderness and powerful specimens of that morbid anatomy its beautiful imagery. The first requires no of the heart, which no hand but that of a wo- explanation; but we must be allowed to add man's was fine enough to have laid open, or a word as to the peculiar charm and character skilful enough to have recommended to our of the latter. sympathy and love. There is the same exquisite and inimitable delicacy, if not the same power, in many of the happier passages of Madame de Souza and Madame Cottin-to say nothing of the more lively and yet melancholy records of Madame de Staël, during her long penance in the court of the Duchesse de Maine.

It has always been our opinion, that the very essence of poetry-apart from the pathos, the wit, or the brilliant description which may be embodied in it, but may exist equally in prose-consists in the fine perception and vivid expression of that subtle and mysterious Analogy which exists between the physical and the moral world-which makes outward things and qualities the natural types and emblems of inward gifts and emotions, or leads us to ascribe life and sentiment to every thing that interests us in the aspects of external nature. The feeling of this analogy, obscure and inexplicable as the theory of it may be, is so deep and universal in our nature, that it has stamped itself on the ordinary language of men of every kindred and speech: and that to such an extent, that one half of the epithets by which we familiarly designate moral and physical qualities, are in reality so many metaphors, borrowed reciprocally, upon this analogy, from those opposite forms of existence. The very familiarity, however, of the expression, in these instances, takes away its poetical effect and indeed, in substance, its metaphorical character. The original sense of the word is entirely forgotten in the derivative one to which it has succeeded; and it requires some etymological recollection to convince us that it was originally nothing else than a typical or analogical illustration. Thus we talk of a sparkling wit, and a furious blast

It may not be the best imaginable poetry, and may not indicate the very highest or most commanding genius; but it embraces a great deal of that which gives the very best poetry its chief power of pleasing; and would strike us, perhaps, as more impassioned and exalted, if it were not regulated and harmonised by the most beautiful taste. It is singularly sweet, elegant, and tender-touching, perhaps, and contemplative, rather than vehement and overpowering; and not only finished throughout with an exquisite delicacy, and even severity of execution, but informed with a purity and loftiness of feeling, and a certain sober and humble tone of indulgence and piety, which must satisfy all judgments, and allay the apprehensions of those who are most-without being at all aware that we are afraid of the passionate exaggerations of poetry. speaking in the language of poetry, and trans The diction is always beautiful, harmonious, ferring qualities from one extremity of the and free-and the themes, though of great sphere of being to another. In these cases, variety, uniformly treated with a grace, orig- accordingly, the metaphor, by ceasing to be inality and judgment, which mark the same felt, in reality ceases to exist, and the analogy master hand. These themes she has occa- being no longer intimated, of course can prosionally borrowed, with the peculiar imagery duce no effect. But whenever it is intimated,

a weighty argument, and a gentle stream

But we are preluding too largely; and must come at once to the point, to which the very heading of this article has already admonished the most careless of our readers that we are tending. We think the poetry of Mrs. Hemans a fine exemplification of Female Poetry-and we think it has much of the perfection which we have ventured to ascribe to the happier productions of female genius.

it does produce an effect; and that effect we think is poetry,

It has substantially two functions, and operates in two directions. In the first place, when material qualities are ascribed to mind, it str.kes vividly out, and brings at once before us, the conception of an inward feeling or emotion, which it might otherwise have been difficult to convey, by the presentment of some bodily form or quality, which is instantly felt to be its true representative, and enables us to fix and comprehend it with a force and clearness not otherwise attainable; and, in the second place, it vivities dead and inanimate matter with the attributes of living and satient mind, and fills the whole visible universe around us with objects of interest and sympathy, by tinting them with the hues of life, and associating them with our own passions and affections. This magical operat:on the poet too performs, for the most part, in one of two ways-either by the direct agency of similies and metaphors, more or less condensed or developed, or by the mere graceful presentment of such visible objects on the scene of his passionate dialogues or adventures, as partake of the character of the emotion he wishes to excite, and thus form an appropriate accompaniment or preparation for its direct indulgence or display. The former of those methods has perhaps been most frequently employed, and certainly has most attracted attention. But the latter, though less obtrusive, and perhaps less frequently resorted to of set purpose, is, we are mclined to think, the most natural and efficacious of the two; and it is often adopted, we believe unconsciously, by poets of the highest order-the predominant emotion of their minds overflowing spontaneously on all the objets which present themselves to their fancy, and calling out from them, and colouring with their own hues, those that are naturally emblematic of its character, and in accordance with its general expression. It would be easy to show how habitually this is done, by Shakespeare and Milton especially, and how much many of their finest passages are indebted, both for force and richness of effect, to this general and diffusive harmony of the external character of their scenes with the passions of their living agents-this harmonising and appropriate glow with which they kindle the whole surrounding atmosphere, and bring all that strikes the sense into unison with all that touches the heart.

But it is more to our present purpose to say, that we think the fair writer befo us is em.nently a mistress of this poetical secret; and, in truth, it was solely for the purpose of illustrating this great charm and excellence in her imagery, that we have ventured upon this little dissertation. Almost all her poems are rich with fine descriptions, and studded over with images of visible beauty. But these are never idle ornaments: all her pomps have, a meaning; and her flowers and her gems are arranged, as they are said to be among Eastern lovers, so as to speak the language of truth and of passion. This is peculiarly remark-i

able in some little pieces, which seem at first sight to be purely descriptive-but are soon found to tell upon the heart, with a deep moral and pathetic impression. But it is in truth nearly as conspicuous in the greater part of her productions; where we scarcely meet with any striking sentiment that is not ushered in by some such symphony of external nature-and scarcely a lovely picture that does not serve as an appropriate foreground to some deep or lofty emotion. We may illustrate this proposition, we think, by opening either of these little volumes at random, and taking what they first present to us.-The following exquisite lines, for example, on a Palm-tree in an English garden:

"It way'd not thro' an Eastern sky, Beside a fount of Araby;

It was not fann'd by southern breeze In some green isle of Indian seas, Nor did its graceful shadow sleep O'er stream of Afric, lone and deep. "But far the exil'd Palm-tree grew 'Midst foliage of no kindred hue; Thro' the laburnum's dropping gold Rose the light shaft of orient mould, And Europe's violets, faintly sweet, Purpled the moss-1 eds at his feet. "There came an eve of festal hours

Rich music fill'd that garden's bowers:
Lamps, that from flowering branches hung,
On sparks of dew soft colours flung,
And bright forms glanc'd-a fairy show-
Under the blossoms, to and fro.

"But one, a lone one, 'midst the throng.
Seem'd reckless all of dance or song:
He was a youth of dusky mien,
Whereon the Indian sun had been-
Of crested brow, and long black hair-
A stranger, like the Palm-tree, there!
"And slowly, sadly mov'd his plumes,
Glittering athwart the leafy glooms:
He pass'd the pale green olives by,
Nor won the chesnut flowers his eye;
But, when to that sole Palm he came,
Then shot a rapture through his frame!
"To him, to him its rustling spoke!
The silence of his soul it broke!
It whisper'd of his own bright isle,
That lit the ocean with a smile;
Ave, to his ear that native tone
Had something of the sea-wave's moan!
"His mother's cabin home, that lay

Where feathery cocoas fring'd the bay;
The dashing of his brethren's oar;
The conch-note heard along the shore ;-
All thro' his wakening bosom swept;
He clasp'd his country's Tree-and wept!
“Oh! scorn him not!--The strength, whereby
The patriot girds himself to die.

'Th' unconquerable power, which fills The freeman battling on his hillsThese have one fountain, deep and clear.The same whence gush'd that child-like tear!" The following, which the author has named, "Graves of a Household," has rather less of external scenery, but serves, like the others, to show how well the graphic and pathetic may be made to set off each other:

"They grew in beauty, side by side, They fill'd one home with glee; Their graves are sever'd, far and wide, By mount, and stream, and sea!

« 前へ次へ »