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FRANCIS SALTUS SALTUS.
never so strongly demonstrated, as in the life and work of Francis Saltus Saltus, whose silent form has just been laid at rest amid the cool greenness of the cemetery in Sleepy Hollow. Born in New York, Nov. 23, 1849, educated at a leading institute of that city, and also in Paris, France, he early evinced his literary gift, by winning prize after prize in those schools. At the completion of his studies, he traveled extensively in Europe, extending his journeyings to Siberia, the classic portions of Western Asia, and Egypt. During this time, he made himself familiar with the languages of the countries he visited, speaking and writing fluently in French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish and Russian, as well as in many of the different dialects common to those nations, and he was also a thorough Greek, Latin and Hebrew scholar. Thus it will be seen that he was better equipped for the litetary life, both by acquaintance with other languages and literatures, and personal observations of the life and surroundings of different people, than are most authors; and the phenomenal amount of work that he left, shows that he made good use of his opportunities. His literary life may be said to begin with the appearance of his first volume of poems, “Honey and Gall," published in 1873, and since then he has written incessantly, the list of his unpublished work being simply immense. Here it is: Volumes of poetry ready for the press: “The Witch of Endor, and fifty long poems on Biblical Subjects;” “ Flask and Flagon;" Poems of Places;” “ Pastels and Profiles;”. Flower and Thorn;" “ Flesh and Spirit; · Moods of Madness;" Songs of Sin;” “ Sonnets;" an un-named volume of French poetry, and two volumes of humorous poetry. In prose, he has written, and left ready for publication, “A Life of Donizetti,” an exhaustive work that will make eight hundred printed pages; a “Life of Rossini;” “Kings of Song;” monographs on Bellini and Mercadante; “Great Baritones;” “ Ro. mance of the Opera;” a musical dictionary, and over one thousand musical sketches. In humorous prose, comic histories of France, Greece, Germany, England and Rome, and a comic Robinson Cruso," and more than one thousand comic sketches. His published works are “ Honey and Gall," a volume of poems; a comic history of the C'nited States; a large number of humorous poems over the pseudonym of Cupid Jones; many stories, sketches, novelettes, editorials and reviews; and innumerable skits of from three to five lines, such as are now so current in our light literature journals.
But while so fertile in literature, his brain was equally active in music, and as a pianist he was
surpassed only by the great performers, while as an improvisatore he had no rival. His musical compositions, which follow the pure Italian school, are always melodious and touching, and often evince a grandeur and nobility that is indeed soulmoving. He wrote a grand opera in four acts, entitled “ Joan of Arc;" a serious opera entitled
Marie Stuart;" four comic operas, and six hundred pieces of fugitive music.
When it is considered that the real literary life of Saltus began in 1873, and that it ended June 25, 1889, when death's shadow fell across his path, the amount of work that he did was simply wonderful. His readiness in all branches of literary work, was. astonishing. A half dozen sonnets at a sitting; fifty or one hundred witty skits in an afternoon; a poem of a thousand lines in a week, with stories, sketches, editorials and reviews thrown off during the time as rests. To give a full judgment of his work in any limited space is impossible, and a rapid summing up is all that can be accomplished. As a poet, it is not too much to say that his was the greatest poetic genius that America has produced. That it has not won to that recognition which this statement would seem to demand, is the result of circumstances easily explained. Educated in France, his mind early seized upon the strangely weird work of Baudelaire and Gautier, and his strong imagination made his treatment of the themes he chose, antagonistic to the received thought of his native land. He had no reveration for the things known as sacred, but this must not be considered to imply that his poetry is not pure and noble. That he gave new and strange versions of the old Biblical records, did not prevent these melodious and imaginative poems from being as delightful in imagery and language
can be desired. His command of language was marvellous, and his use of rhythm was a revelation. Words, rhythms and melodies were as plastic in his hands, as is clay to the touch of the potter. If the poems of Saltus are ever published in complete form, they will win even greater praise than has been here accorded them, for while they run far beyond the ruts, and have an andacious originality of thought and theme that will awaken antagonism, the beauty of their workmanship, and the poetic fire that inspires them, will have to be acknowledged.
But while the poetry of Saltus is undoubtedly his highest gift, the beauty and strength of his music is even as wonderful. Melody in word or tone was the ruling essence of his spirit. The operas, “Joan of Arc,” and “Marie Stuart,” are superb specimens of musical composition. There are solos, duets and choruses in them, as beautiful and harmonious as are those of the great masters of melody.
T. S. C.
Thrilled by his touch, a sense I never knew Sudden within my callous fibres grew,
Warning my spirit he was pure and good. And I could feel that he was Christ divine, And that a deathless honor then was mine,
In one dark instant I had understood!
But on one eve, strange me'n with shining blades, Passed like a boisterous tempest thro' the glades,
And paused before my beauty fair and tall: And one, rough-voiced, with large, admiring eyes, Counting my branches that assailed the skies,
Cried "Seek no further, this good tree must fall!" Then to the core they struck me with sharp steel; I felt the sap within my veins congeal,
I writhed and moaned at every savage blow. And I whose strength had braved the fiercest
storm, Tottered and fell, a mutilated form,
While all the forest waved its leaves in woe!
Thraucous shouts of thousands rent the air, When on his outraged shoulders, scourged and
bare, He bore to dismal Calvary and night My pondrous weight, my all-unhallowed mass, While I, God-strengthened, strove and strove, alas,
Without a hope, to make the burden light.
He perished on my heart, and heard the moan That shuddered thro' me, he, and he alone,
But no man heard the promise he gave me Of sweetest pardon, nor did any mark His pitying smile that aureoled the dark
For me, in that wild hour on Calvary!
Then fashioning from my boughs with rough, swift
hands, A cross colossal, girt with iron bands,
They dragged me in my pitiful disgrace, Down to the holy town Jerusalem, There to give death to those the laws condemn,
And placed me in a sad, accurséd place.
When tender women's hands that sought to save, Had carried his sweet body to the grave,
A streak of flame hissed forth from heaven and
My trunk with one annihilating blow,
That I was nothing, and God was content.
Defiled, I stood there, mourning for my leaves, While on my breast they nailed the city's thieves,
With livid martyrs and assassins grim, Who rent the air with horrid cries of pain, Lingering upon me, calling death in vain, Crow-gnawed and shivering in each tortured
But He who punished my sad sin with fire,
And mercifully bade my soul revive,
Once more with resurrected leaves to thrive!
Severe and constant were the dread decrees Of PONTIUS PILATE, and the agonies
Of countless victims granted me no rest:
A maid is seated in a dreary room,
Her drearier thoughts are far, ah! far away, While with a heart immersed in utter gloom
She weaves a cerement till the close of day.
Fair flowers are sleeping in the frozen ground
Until spring beckons them in ways unseen, To aid the giory of new Nature crowned,
And, star-like, light the meadow's dewy green. A block of marble in a quarry lies,
Inert, unfeeling, in its silent sleep,
The wintry winds their doleful vigils keep.
No bizarre brain as yet had ever wrought
This odd, wierd wonder into shape, and few
Could from the stores of Fancy bring to view A whim to equal this, to me untaught! Its radiant advent thrilled me with delight, But, as I dreamed, I heard a sad voice say:
“I who am living in a spirit home With the same thought that pleasures thee to-night Charmed grim Tiberius through a festal day, And made tumultuous laughter roar through
From that same tree my coffin will be wrought, Kind hands will place that flower upon my
head; The maiden's work will be the shroud I sought,
The marble block will hold me with the dead.
GRAVES. The sad night-wind, sighing o'er sea and strand,
Haunts the cold marble where Napoleon sleeps; O'er Charlemagne's bones, far in the northern
land, A vigil through the centuries it keeps: O'er Grecian kings its plaintive music sweeps,
Proud Philip's dust is by its dark wings fanned. And near old Pharaoh's, deep in desert sand, Where the grim Sphinx leers to the stars, it
creeps. Yet weary it is of this chill, spectral gloom,
For moldering grandeur it can have no care. Rich mausoleums in their granite doom,
It fain would leave to wander on elsewhere, To cool the violets upon Gautier's tomb,
And lull the long grass over Baudelaire.
(A SONG.) Joy stood upon my threshold, mild and fair, With lilies in her hair. I bade her enter, as she turned to go.
She answered, “No."
Fortune once tarried at my porch,
She answered, “ Nay.”
Fame, robed in spotless white, before me came,
Love came at last. How pure! how sweet!
She answered, “No,”
NEAR strange, weird temples, where the Ganges'
tide Bathes domed Delhi, I watch, by spice-trees
With redolent roses in her jeweled hand!
Before some haughty Rajah, mute and grand, Her flexile torso bends, her white feet glide!
The dull kinoors throb one monotonous tune, And, mad with mo as in a hasheesh trance, Her scintillant eyes in vague, ecstatic charm,
Burn like black stars below the Orient moon, While the sauve, dreamy languor of the dance Lulls the grim drowsy cobra on her arm!
Since then, Joy, Fortune, Love and Fame.
But do not care.
ORIGINALITY. ONCE, as I pondered o'er strange books, and
sought From secrets of the past a knowledge new,
Within my mind enthralled there sudden grew The perfect germ of a stupendous thought!
Toil on, poor muser, to attain that goal
Where Art conceals its grandest, noblest prize; Count every tear that dims your aching eyes,
MARTHA PEARSON SMITH.
Count all the years that seem as days, and roll
The death-tides slowly on; count all your sighs; Search the wide, wondrous earth from pole to pole, Tear unbelief from out your martyred soul;
Succumb not, chase despondency, be wise; Work, toil, and struggle with the brush or pen, Revel in rhyme, strain intellect and ken;
Live on and hope despite man's sceptic leers; Praise the Ideal with your every breath,
Give it life, youth and glory, blood and tears, And to possess it pay its tribute-Death.
ARTHA PEARSON SMITH is a native of
North Conway, N. H., daughter of John M. and Laura Emery Pearson. Her earlier years were spent in the beautiful region of the White Moun. tains. At the age of seven her parents removed to Boston, Mass., where they remained four years. At the age of ten the family removed to Covington, Ky. Mrs. Smith remained in Kentucky until the fall of 1857, when she went to Minnesota. In 1859 she was married to Edson R. Smith of Le Sueur, and has resided there ever since. They have three sons. Mr. Smith is a prominent banker and mill-owner, and has filled various responsible places of trust, among them that of state senator.
In personal appearance, Mrs. Smith is of medium height and weight, with brown hair and eyes (though the former is now threaded with silver), with a sweet, noble face.
Mrs. Smith has written much for publication, and many of her poems have been set to music. She is a warm champion of the cause of temperance, and has done much to advance the movement in her adopted state.
E. M. S.
JENNY AND I.
Among the blooming heather,
My love and I together.
Oh! never skies were bluer!
Oh! never hearts were truer!
DEATH. Down, down into the solemn depths and dim, Onward through oozing vaults and windings
drear, To please the morbid fever of my whim,
I wandered, resolute, and without fear. Enormous Golgothas of mildewed bones,
With reeking skeletons, corrupt and bare, L'pon the Ossuary's humid stones
In awful symmetry, lay everywhere. And, in the slimy horror of the sight,
My heart grew warm, while trepidation fled; And the vague dawning of a strange delight Came o'er me there among the crowded dead.
- The Catacombs of Paris.
LONGFELLOW. Thou art gone to join the countless hosts of
shadows, But thy sweetness will triumphantly remain, Like the perfume of the violets on the meadow, Made refreshing by the ripple of a rain!
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
And when we reached the rustic bridge
That spanned the brooklet over, Where breezes from the meadow fields
Brought up the scent of clover, And robins sang the livelong day
Their love-songs, bright and cheery, Somehow, before I knew, my heart
Ran o'er with love's sweet query.