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perhaps even spirit, failing. They show not yet their limitatious; in their
eyes shines an infinite hope ; we can imagine it realized in their lives, and this consoles us for the deficiencies in our own, for the soul, though demanding the beautiful and good every where, can yet be consoled if it is found some where. 'Tis an illusion to look for it in these children more than in ourselves, but it is one we seem to need, being the second strain of the music that cheers our fatiguing march through this part of the scene of life.
There was a good deal of prestige about Queen Victoria's coming to the throne. She was young,
66 and had what in a princess might be styled beauty." She wept lest she should not reign wisely, and that seemed as if she might. Many hoped she might prove another Elizabeth, with more heart, using the privileges of the woman, her high feeling, sympathy, tact and quick penetration in unison with, and as corrective of, the advice of experienced statesmen. We hoped she would be a mother to the country. But she has given no signs of distinguished character; her walk seems a private one. She is a fashionable lady and the mother of a family. We hope she may prove the mother of a good prince, but it will not do to wait for him ; generation must do all it can. If he does no harm, it is more than is reasonable to expect from a prince--does no harm and is the keystone to keep the social arch from falling into ruins till the time be ripe to construct a better in its stead.
Mrs. Norton, addressing herself to the Child of the Islands, goes through the circling seasons of the year and finds plenty of topics in their changes to subserve her main aim. This is to awaken the rich to their duty. And, though the traces of her education are visible, and weak prejudices linger among newly awakened thoughts, yet, on the whole, she shows a just sense of the relationship betwixt man and man, and musically doth she proclaim her creed in the lines beginning
The stamps of imperfection rests on all
After an eloquent enumeration of the difficulties that beset our path and our faith, she concludes
Lo! out of chaos was the world first called,
And Order out of blank Disorder came,
In dangers weak, in difficulties tame,
Hath lost the spark of that creative flame
Working out slowly Order's perfect frame;
“ To discern,” ay ! that is what is needed. Only these “la. bourers under God” have that clearness of mind that is needed, and though in the present time they walk as men in a subterranean passage where the lamp sheds its light only a little way onward, yet that light suffices to keep their feet from stumbling while they seek an outlet to the blessed day.
The above presents a fair specimen of the poem. As poetry it is inferior to her earlier verses, where, without pretension to much thought, or commanding view, Mrs. Norton expressed simp!y the feelings of the girl and the woman. Willis has described them well in one of the most touching of his poems, as being a tale
—“of feelings which in me are cold,
The best passages in the present poem are personal, as where a mother's feelings are expressed in speaking of infants and young children, recollections of a Scotch Autumn, and the de. scription of the imprisoned gipsey.*
* This extract was inserted in the original notice, but must be omitted here for want of room.
In the same soft and flowing style, and with the same unstudied fidelity to nature, is the grief of the gipsey husband painted when he comes and finds her dead. After the first fury of rage and despair is spent, he "weepeth like a child” —
And many a day by many a sunny bank,
He wails, his clench'd hands on his eyelids prest;
Stretched prone, as travelers deem, in idle rest,
To such passages the woman's heart lends the rhetoric.
Generally the poem is written with considerable strength, in a good style, sustained, and sufficiently adorned, by the flowers of feeling. It shows an expansion of mind highly honourable to a lady placed as Mrs. Norton has been, and for which she, no doubt, is much indebted to her experience of sorrow. She has felt the need of faith and hope, of an enlargement of sympathy. The poem may be read through at once and without fatigue ; this is much to say for an ethical poem, filling a large volume. It is, however, chiefly indebted for its celebrity to the circumstances of its authorship. A beautiful lady, celebrated in aristocratic circles, joins the democratic movement, now so widely spreading in light literature, and men hail the fact as a sign of the times. The poem is addressed to the “ upper classes,” and, even from its defects, calculated to win access to their minds. Its outward garb, too, is suited to attract their notice. The book is simply but beautifully got up, the two stanzas looking as if written for the page they fill, and in a pre-existent harmony with the frame-work and margin. There is only one ugly thing, and that frightfully ugly, the design for the frontispiece by Maclise. The Child of the Islands, represented by an infant form to whose frigid awkwardness there is no correspondence in the most degraded models that can be found in Nature for that age, with the
tamest of angels kneeling at his head and feet, angels that have not spirit and sweetness enough to pray away a fly, forms the
Around him are other figures of whom it is impossible to say whether they are goblins or fairies, come to curse or bless. The accessories are as bad as the main group, mean in conception, tame in execution. And the subject admitted of so beautiful and noble an illustration by Art !
We marvel that a person of so refined taste as Mrs. Norton, and so warmly engaged in the subject, should have admitted this to its companionship.
We intended to have given some account of Prince and his poems, in this connection, but must now wait till another number, for we have spread our words over too much space already.
MISS BARRETT’S* POEMS.
A DRAMA OF EXILE: AND OTHER POEMS. By ELIZABETH B. BAR.
Rett, author of The SERAPHIM AND OTHER POEMs. New-York: Henry G. Langley, No. 8 Astor House, 1845
What happiness for the critic when, as in the present instance, his task is, mainly, how to express a cordial admiration; to indicate an intelligence of beauties, rather than regret for defects !
We have read these volumes with feelings of delight far warmer than the writer, in her sincerely modest preface, would seem to expect from any reader, and cannot hesitate to rank her, in vigour and nobleness of conception, depth of spiritual experience, and command of classic allusion, above any female writer the world has yet known.
In the first quality, especially, most female writers are deficient. They do not grasp a subject with simple energy, nor treat it with decision of touch. They are, in general, most re. markable for delicacy of feeling, and brilliancy or grace in
In delicacy of perception, Miss Barrett may vie with any of
She has what is called a true woman's heart, although we must believe that men of a fine conscience and good organi zation will have such a heart no less. Signal instances occu. to us in the cases of Spenser, Wordsworth and Tennyson. The woman who reads them will not find hardness or blindness as te the subtler workings of thoughts and affections.
If men are often deficient on this score ; women, on the other hand, are apt to pay excessive attention to the slight tokens, the
* Now Mrs. Browning. ED.