« PreviousContinue »
acutely sensitive mind, as to have led to the disease of which he died. In the hopes of averting the progress of consumption, he was recommended to try a warm climate, and he accordingly repaired to Rome, where he died in the arms of a young artist, Mr. Severn, whose generous and devoted friendship had nearly sacrificed his own life in his assiduous care of his dying friend. Keats was only twenty-four when he died, adding another to the many examples of high poetic promise thus cut off when their genius “just waved its joyous wing.” Beautiful as his poems are, they can be regarded only as the early indications of genius, which, had it reached maturity, might have rivalled the greatest poets of the age.
The phalanx of literary genius in our own day has been strengthened by not a few distinguished female names, and among these the poets take a prominent place, including Joanna Baillie, Felicia Hemans, L. E. Landon, Caroline Bowles, Elizabeth Barrett, and other well-known names. Some of these are still, happily, among our living poets. From among them all, we may select, as the most widely popular both in this country and America,
BORX, 1793; LIED, 1835. Her maiden name was Felicia Dorothea Browne, the daughter of an Irish merchant, who resided at Liverpool at the time of her birth. Her childhood and youth, as well as most of the later years of her life were spent in Wales. At the age of eighteen she married Captain Hemans, but the union proved an unhappy one. About six years afterwards, her husband retired to Italy for his health, and without any formal separation, they never again met. Thenceforth she contrived to maintain herself, and to educate her family almost solely by the fruits of her pen; and to this harsh stimulus is to be ascribed the production of many pieces of inferior merit, which have detracted from her fame. Delicacy of feeling, and a refined though sad tone of devotional feeling run through her writings. They are eminently pure and feminine in character; and have acquired a popularity which have led to many imitators. The most successful of these is the American poetess, Maria Sigourney ; but, as in all other cases of literary imitation, none of them have equalled the original. Mrs. Hemans' remains lies interred in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, where she died in 35, while on a visit to her brother, Major Browne.
The closing years of the eighteenth century gave birth to a succession of men of genius, some of whom still linger among us. Every year, our obituaries record the death of some among these illustrious and gifted poets and scholars who have long won our admiration and influenced our taste. Yet still we number among our contemporaries such distinguished survivors of a former generation as SAMUEL ROGERS, JOHN WILSON, HENRY HART MILMAN, and JAMES MONTGOMERY, all of whom have contributed to the high character of the poetic literature of the age, and helped to influence the styles of younger poets.
ROGERS, the author of “The Pleasures of Memory," and of “ Italy,” as well as of many beautiful minor poems, has enjoyed the luxuries and privileges of life, as a wealthy banker, and has added to his just reputation as a poet, by the character of a liberal and enlightened patron of art, and a most generous encourager of genius and worth in
John Wilson, the author of the “Isle of Palms,” was born at Paisley in 1789, and now, after long and honourably filling the chair of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, he has resigned it, to retire into private life, and spend his remaining days in the enjoyment of that country life which he has so often delighted to picture. His genius and worth have been honourably recognised and rewarded by a pension of £300 from the crown.
Milman, the author of “The Martyr of Antioch,” now fills the distinguished ecclesiastical appointment of Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral; while JAMES MONTGOMERY—an Ayrshire poet by birth, though the son of English Moravians who settled there only for a brief period - the author of “The Pelican Islands,” and many other beautiful and highly popular poems, still lives at Sheffield, where he has spent the greater part of his life, honourably supporting himself by literary labour.
JOANNA BAILLIE, one of the most vigorous of female poets, had long ceased to contribute to our poetic literature; but in her retirement, in the neighbourhood of London, her society was anxiously courted by most of the distinguished literary men of the age, and her correspondence has produced many interesting memorials of her great contemporaries. One after another of these survivors of a former age are disappearing from among us, and she, too, has gune
"Into the land of the great Departed." It is not necessary to attempt a biographical sketch of
each of the contributors to modern English poetry, from whose writings selections have been made to enrich this volume. Some of these, such as LOCKHART, MACAULAY, and BULWER, are familiar as the most distinguished among our prose writers; and also, along with others, such as the Earl of Carlisle, have borne a prominent place among British statesmen; while others, again, who are only known as the authors of a few occasional pieces of poetry, occupy a prominent place among the literary men of the day.
The poets of America have also furnished valuable additions to the standard poetry of the English language; and no collection of its choicest specimens will be complete without a liberal selection from the writings of such poets as LONGFELLOW, WHITTIER, BRYANT, WILLIS, LOWELL, and SIGOURNEY.
To all of these, as well as to a few fine single pieces of poets otherwise unknown to fame, we also add a selection from those modest productions of the muse, which are left to win their place in public estimation without the influence of a name; and which, while they enrich the treasures of the copious and varied poetic literature of our age with their rare and unassuming additions, may also serve, with an allowable license, to confirm, in part, the beautiful exclamation of the author of the Excursion :
“0, many are the poets that are sown
By nature; men endowed with highest gifts,
JAMES BEATTIE.............1735...1803 THOMAS MOORE.............1780...1852
JOHN LOGAN,...............1748...1788 EBENEZER ELLIOT,.........1781...1849
THOMAS CHATTERTON, ...1752...1770 ALLAN CUNNINGHAM......1784...1842
REV. GEORGE CRABBE,...1754...1832 BARRY CORNWALL, ........1784...1842
ROBERT BURNS,............1759...1796 HENRY KIRKE WHITE,...1785...1806
JAMES GRAHAME...........1765...1811 | LORD BYRON,..........
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD,....1766...1823 PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, 1792...1822
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, 1770...1850 CHARLES WOLFE...........1792...1823 SIR WALTER SCOTT,.......1771...1832 FELICIA HEMANS..........1793...1835
SAMUEL TAYLOR, COLE
KIDGE... ................1772...1840 THOMAS HOOD, .............1796...1845
JAMES HOGG.................1773...1835 ROBERT POLLOK,...........1799...1827
.1774...1843 L. E. LANDON,.................1804...1838
JOHN LEYDEN...............1775...1811 JOHN BETHUNE, ............1812...1839