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Was a whole empire; that devoted train
Must war from day to day with storm and gloom
(Man following, like the wolves, to rend the slain),
Must lie from night to night as in a tomb,
Must fly, toil, bleed for home; yet never see that home.
To the Memory of a Lady.
Thou thy worldly task hast done.'-Shakspeare.
High peace to the soul of the dead,
From the dream of the world she has gone! On the stars in her glory to tread,
To be bright in the blaze of the throne.
In youth she was lovely; and Time,
When her rose with the cypress he twined,
Left the heart all the warmth of its prime,
Left her eye all the light of her mind.
The summons came forth-and she died!
Yet her parting was gentle, for those
Whom she loved mingled tears at her side-
Her death was the mourner's repose.
Our weakness may weep o'er her bier,
But her spirit has gone on the wing
To triumph for agony here,
To rejoice in the joy of its King.
LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON.
This lady, generally known as 'L. E. L.,' in consequence of having first published with her initials only, has attained an eminent place among the female poets of our age. Her earliest compositions
L. 8, Landon
were Poetical Sketches, which appeared in the Literary Gazette: afterwards (1824) she published the Improvisatrice, which was followed by two more volumes of poetry. She also contributed largely to magazines and annuals, and was the authoress of a novel entitled Romance and Reality. From a publication of her Life and Literary Remains, edited by Mr L. Blanchard, it appears that her history was in the main a painful one; and yet it is also asserted that the melancholy of her verses was a complete contrast to the vivacity and playfulness of her manners in private life. She was born at Hans Place, Chelsea, in 1802, the daughter of Mr Landon, a partner in the house of Adairs, army agents. Lively,
Birthplace of Miss Landon.
world of letters, but it also gave rise to some reports injurious to her character, which caused her the most exquisite pain. Her father died, and she not only maintained herself, but assisted her relations by her literary labours, which she never relaxed for a moment. In 1838 she was married to Mr George Maclean, governor of Cape-Coast castle, and shortly afterwards sailed for Cape-Coast with her husband. She landed there in August, and was resuming her literary engagements in her solitary African home, when one morning, after writing the previous night some cheerful and affectionate letters to her friends in England, she was (October 16) found dead in her room, lying close to the door, having in her hand a bottle which had contained prussic acid, a portion of which she had taken. From the investigation which took place into the circumstances of this melancholy event, it was conjectured that she had undesigningly taken an over-dose of the fatal medicine, as a relief from spasms in the stomach. Having surmounted her early difficulties, and achieved an easy competence and a daily-extending reputation, much might have been expected from the genius of L. E. L., had not her life been prematurely terminated. Her latter works are more free, natural, and forcible than those by which she first attracted notice.
I would not care, at least so much, sweet Spring,
For the departing colour of thy flowers-
The green leaves early falling from thy boughs-
Thy birds so soon forgetful of their songs-
Thy skies, whose sunshine ends in heavy showers;
But thou dost leave thy memory, like a ghost,
To haunt the ruined heart, which still recurs
To former beauty; and the desolate
Is doubly sorrowful when it recalls
It was not always desolate.
When those eyes have forgotten the smile they wear now,
When care shall have shadowed that beautiful brow;
When thy hopes and thy roses together lie dead,
And thy heart turns back pining to days that are fled-
Then wilt thou remember what now seems to pass
Like the moonlight on water, the breath-stain on glass;
Oh! maiden, the lovely and youthful, to thee,
How rose-touched the page of thy future must be!
By the past, if thou judge it, how little is there
But blossoms that flourish, but hopes that are fair;
And what is thy present? a southern sky's spring,
With thy feelings and fancies like birds on the wing.
As the rose by the fountain flings down on the wave
Its blushes, forgetting its glass is its grave;
So the heart sheds its colour on life's early hour;
But the heart has its fading as well as the flower.
The charmed light darkens, the rose-leaves are gone,
And life, like the fountain, floats colourless on.
Said I, when thy beauty's swect vision was fled,
How wouldst thou turn, pining, to days like the dead!
Oh! long ere one shadow shall darken that brow,
Wilt thou weep like a mourner o'er all thou lov'st now;
When thy hopes, like spent arrows, fall short of their
Or, like meteors at midnight, make darkness more dark:
When thy feelings lie fettered like waters in frost,
Or, scattered too freely, are wasted and lost:
For aye cometh sorrow, when youth hath passed by—
Ah! what saith the proverb? Its memory's a sigh.
I saw him once before; he rode Upon a coal-black steed,
And tens of thousands thronged the road,
And bade their warrior speed.
His helm, his breastplate, were of gold,
And graved with many dint, that told
Of many a soldier's deed;
The sun shone on his sparkling mail,
And danced his snow-plume on the gale.
But now he stood chained and alone,
The headsman by his side,
The plume, the helm, the charger gone;
The sword, which had defied
The mightiest, lay broken near;
And yet no sign or sound of fear
Came from that lip of pride;
And never king or conqueror's brow
Wore higher look than did his now.
He bent beneath the headsman's stroke
With an uncovered eye;
A wild shout from the numbers broke
Who thronged to see him die.
It was a people's loud acclaim,
The voice of anger and of shame,
A nation's funeral cry,
Rome's wail above her only son,
Her patriot and her latest one.
[From The Improvisatrice."]
I loved him as young Genius loves,
When its own wild and radiant heaven
Of starry thought burns with the light,
The love, the life, by passion given.
I loved him, too, as woman loves-
Reckless of sorrow, sin, or scorn:
Life had no evil destiny
That, with him, I could not have borne! I had been nursed in palaces;
Yet earth had not a spot so drear,
That I should not have thought a home
In Paradise, had he been near!
How sweet it would have been to dwell,
Apart from all, in some green dell
Of sunny beauty, leaves and flowers;
And nestling birds to sing the hours!
Our home, beneath some chestnut's shade,
But of the woven branches made:
Our vesper hymn, the low wone wail
The rose hears from the nightingale;
And waked at morning by the call
Of music from a waterfall.
But not alone in dreams like this,
Breathed in the very hope of bliss,
I loved my love had been the same
In hushed despair, in open shame.
I would have rather been a slave,
In tears, in bondage by his side, Than shared in all, if wanting him,
This world had power to give beside!
My heart was withered-and my heart
Had ever been the world to me:
And love had been the first fond dream,
Whose life was in reality.
I had sprung from my solitude,
Like a young bird upon the wing,
To meet the arrow; so I met
My poisoned shaft of suffering. And as that bird, with drooping crest And broken wing, will seek his nest, But seek in vain: so vain I sought My pleasant home of song and thought. There was one spell upon my brain, Upon my pencil, on my strain; But one face to my colours came; My chords replied to but one nameLorenzo !-all seemed vowed to thee, To passion, and to misery!
[Last Verses of L. E. L.]
[Alluding to the Pole Star, which, in her voyage to Africa, she had nightly watched till it sunk below the horizon.]
A star has left the kindling sky-
A lovely northern light;
How many planets are on high,
But that has left the night.
I miss its bright familiar face, It was a friend to me; Associate with my native place, And those beyond the sea.
It rose upon our English sky,
Shone o'er our English land,* And brought back many a loving eye, And many a gentle hand.
It seemed to answer to my thought,
It called the past to mind,
And with its welcome presence brought
All I had left behind.
The voyage it lights no longer, ends Soon on a foreign shore;
How can I but recall the friends
That I may see no more?
Fresh from the pain it was to part-
How could I bear the pain?
Yet strong the omen in my heart
That says-We meet again.
Meet with a deeper, dearer love;
For absence shows the worth
Of all from which we then remove,
Friends, home, and native earth.
Thou lovely polar star, mine eyes
Still turned the first on thee,
Till I have felt a sad surprise,
That none looked up with me.
But thou hast sunk upon the wave,
Thy radiant place unknown;
I seem to stand beside a grave,
And stand by it alone.
Farewell! ah, would to me were given
A power upon thy light!
What words upon our English heaven
Thy loving rays should write!
Kind messages of love and hope
Upon thy rays should be;
Thy shining orbit should have scope
Scarcely enough for me.
Oh, fancy vain, as it is fond, And little needed too;
My friends! I need not look beyond My heart to look for you.
*These expressions, it is almost unnecessary to say, are not true to natural facts, as the Pole Star has not a quotidian rising anywhere, and it shines on the whole northern hemisphere in common with England.-Ed.
Wanton droll, whose harmless play
Beguiles the rustic's closing day,
When drawn the evening fire about,
Sit aged Crone and thoughtless Lout,
And child upon his three-foot stool,
Waiting till his supper cool;
And maid, whose cheek outblooms the rose,
As bright the blazing fagot glows.
Who, bending to the friendly light,
Plies her task with busy sleight;
Come, show thy tricks and sportive graces,
Thus circled round with merry faces.
Backward coiled, and crouching low,
With glaring eyeballs watch thy foe,
The housewife's spindle whirling round,
Or thread, or straw, that on the ground
Its shadow throws, by urchin sly
Held out to lure thy roving eye;
Then, onward stealing, fiercely spring
Upon the futile, faithless thing.
Now, wheeling round, with bootless skill,
Thy bo-peep tail provokes thee still,
As oft beyond thy curving side
Its jetty tip is seen to glide;
Till, from thy centre starting fair,
Thou sidelong rear'st, with rump in air,
Erected stiff, and gait awry,
Like madam in her tantrums high:
Though ne'er a madam of them all,
Whose silken kirtle sweeps the hall,
More varied trick and whim displays,
To catch the admiring stranger's gaze.
The featest tumbler, stage-bedight,
To thee is but a clumsy wight,
Who every limb and sinew strains
To do what costs thee little pains;
For which, I trow, the gaping crowd
Requites him oft with plaudits loud.
But, stopped the while thy wanton play,
Applauses, too, thy feats repay:
For then beneath some urchin's hand,
With modest pride thou tak'st thy stand,
While many a stroke of fondness glides
Along thy back and tabby sides.
Dilated swells thy glossy fur,
And loudly sings thy busy pur,
As, timing well the equal sound,
Thy clutching feet bepat the ground,
And all their harmless claws disclose,
Like prickles of an early rose;
While softly from thy whiskered cheek
Thy half-closed eyes peer mild and meek.
But not alone by cottage-fire
Do rustics rude thy feats admire;
The learned sage, whose thoughts explore
The widest range of human lore,
Or, with unfettered fancy, fly
Through airy heights of poesy,
Pausing, smiles with altered air
To see thee climb his elbow-chair,
Or, struggling on the mat below,
Hold warfare with his slippered toe.
The widowed dame, or lonely maid,
Who in the still, but cheerless shade
Of home unsocial, spends her age,
And rarely turns a lettered page;
Upon her hearth for thee lets fall
The rounded cork, or paper-ball,
Nor chides thee on thy wicked watch
The ends of ravelled skein to catch,
But lets thee have thy wayward will,
Perplexing oft her sober skill.
Even he, whose mind of gloomy bent,
In lonely tower or prison pent,
Reviews the coil of former days,
And loathes the world and all its ways;
What time the lamp's unsteady gleam
Doth rouse him from his moody dream,
Feels, as thou gambol'st round his seat,
His heart with pride less fiercely beat,
And smiles, a link in thee to find
That joins him still to living kind.
Whence hast thou, then, thou witless Puss,
The magic power to charm us thus ?
Is it, that in thy glaring eye,
And rapid movements, we descry,
While we at case, secure from ill,
The chimney-corner snugly fill,
A lion, darting on the prey,
A tiger, at his ruthless play?
Or is it, that in thee we trace,
With all thy varied wanton grace,
An emblem viewed with kindred eye,
Of tricksy, restless infancy?
Ah! many a lightly sportive child,
Who hath, like thee, our wits beguiled,
To dull and sober manhood grown,
With strange recoil our hearts disown.
Even so, poor Kit! must thou endure,
When thou becomest a cat demure,
Full many a cuff and angry word,
Chid roughly from the tempting board.
And yet, for that thou hast, I ween,
So oft our favoured playmate been,
Soft be the change which thou shalt prove,
When time hath spoiled thee of our love;
Still be thou deemed, by housewife fat,
A comely, careful, mousing cat,
Whose dish is, for the public good,
Replenished oft with savoury food.
Nor, when thy span of life is past, Be thou to pond or dunghill cast; But gently borne on good man's spade, Beneath the decent sod be laid, And children show, with glistening eyes, The place where poor old Pussy lies.
Address to Miss Agnes Baillie on her Birthday.
[In order thoroughly to understand and appreciate the following verses, the reader must be aware that the author and her sister, daughters of a former minister of Bothwell on the Clyde, in Lanarkshire, have lived to an advanced age constantly in each other's society.]
Dear Agnes, gleamed with joy and dashed with tears
O'er us have glided almost sixty years
Since we on Bothwell's bonny braes were seen,
By those whose eyes long closed in death have been-
Two tiny imps, who scarcely stooped to gather
The slender harebell on the purple heather;
No taller than the foxglove's spiky stem,
That dew of morning studs with silvery gem.
Then every butterfly that crossed our view
With joyful shout was greeted as it flew;
And moth, and lady-bird, and beetle bright,
In sheeny gold, were each a wondrous sight.
Then as we paddled barefoot, side by side,
Among the sunny shallows of the Clyde,*
Minnows or spotted parr with twinkling fin,
Swimming in mazy rings the pool within.
A thrill of gladness through our bosoms sent,
Seen in the power of early wonderment.
A long perspective to my mind appears,
Looking behind me to that line of years;
And yet through every stage I still can trace
Thy visioned form, from childhood's morning grace
To woman's early bloom-changing, how soon!
To the expressive glow of woman's noon;
And now to what thou art, in comely age,
Active and ardent. Let what will engage
Thy present moment-whether hopeful seeds
In garden-plat thou sow, or noxious weeds
From the fair flower remove, or ancient lore
In chronicle or legend rare explore,
Or on the parlour hearth with kitten play,
Stroking its tabby sides, or take thy way
To gain with hasty steps some cottage door,
On helpful errand to the neighbouring poor-
Active and ardent, to my fancy's eye
Thou still art young, in spite of time gone by.
Though oft of patience brief and temper keen,
Well may it please me, in life's latter scene,
To think what now thou art and long to me hast been.
*The Manse of Bothwell was at some considerable distance from the Clyde, but the two little girls were sometimes sent there in summer to bathe and wade about.
'Twas thou who woo'dst me first to look Upon the page of printed book,
That thing by me abhorred, and with address
Didst win me from my thoughtless idleness,
When all too old become with bootless haste
In fitful sports the precious time to waste.
Thy love of tale and story was the stroke
At which my dormant fancy first awoke,
And ghosts and witches in my busy brain
Arose in sombre show a motley train.
This new-found path attempting, proud was I
Lurking approval on thy face to spy,
Or hear thee say, as grew thy roused attention, 'What! is this story all thine own invention?"
Then, as advancing through this mortal span,
Our intercourse with the mixed world began;
Thy fairer face and sprightlier courtesy
(A truth that from my youthful vanity
Lay not concealed) did for the sisters twain,
Where'er we went, the greater favour gain;
While, but for thee, vexed with its tossing tide,
I from the busy world had shrunk aside.
And now, in later years, with better grace,
Thou help'st me still to hold a welcome place
With those whom nearer neighbourhood have made
The friendly cheerers of our evening shade.
With thee my humours, whether grave or gay, Or gracious or untoward, have their way. Silent if dull-oh precious privilege!I sit by thee; or if, culled from the page Of some huge ponderous tome which, but thyself, None e'er had taken from its dusty shelf, Thou read'st me curious passages to speed The winter night, I take but little heed, And thankless say, 'I cannot listen now," 'Tis no offence; albeit, much do I owe To these, thy nightly offerings of affection, Drawn from thy ready talent for selection; For still it seemed in thee a natural gift The lettered grain from lettered chaff to sift.
By daily use and circumstance endeared,
Things are of value now that once appeared
Of no account, and without notice passed,
Which o'er dull life a simple cheering cast;
To hear thy morning steps the stair descending,
Thy voice with other sounds domestic blending;
After each stated nightly absence, met
To see thee by the morning table set,
Pouring from smoky spout the amber stream
Which sends from saucered cup its fragrant steam:
To see thee cheerly on the threshold stand,
On summer morn, with trowel in thy hand
For garden-work prepared; in winter's gloom
From thy cold noonday walk to see thee come,
In furry garment lapt, with spattered feet,
And by the fire resume thy wonted seat;
Ay, even o'er things like these soothed age has thrown
A sober charm they did not always own-
As winter hoarfrost makes minutest spray
Of bush or hedgeweed sparkle to the day
In magnitude and beauty, which, bereaved
Of such investment, eye had ne'er perceived..
The change of good and evil to abide,
As partners linked, long have we, side by side,
Our earthly journey held; and who can say
How near the end of our united way?
By nature's course not distant; sad and 'reft
Will she remain-the lonely pilgrim left.
If thou art taken first, who can to me
Like sister, friend, and home-companion be?
Or who, of wonted daily kindness shorn,
Shall feel such loss, or mourn as I shall mourn?
And if I should be fated first to leave
This earthly house, though gentle friends may grieve,
And he above them all, so truly proved
A friend and brother, long and justly loved,
There is no living wight, of woman born,
Who then shall mourn for me as thou wilt mourn.
Thou ardent, liberal spirit! quickly feeling The touch of sympathy, and kindly dealing With sorrow or distress, for ever sharing The unhoarded mite, nor for to-morrow caringAccept, dear Agnes, on thy natal day, An unadorned, but not a careless lay. Nor think this tribute to thy virtues paid From tardy love proceeds, though long delayed. Words of affection, howsoe'er expressed, The latest spoken still are deemed the best: Few are the measured rhymes I now may write ; These are, perhaps, the last I shall indite.
WILLIAM KNOx, a young poet of considerable talent, who died in Edinburgh in 1825, aged thirty-six, was author of The Lonely Hearth; Songs of Israel; The Harp of Zion, &c. Sir Walter Scott thus mentions Knox in his diary:- His father was a respectable yeoman, and he himself succeeding to good farms under the Duke of Buccleuch, became too soon his own master, and plunged into dissipation and ruin. His talent then showed itself in a fine strain of pensive poetry.' Knox spent his latter years in Edinburgh, under his father's roof, and, amidst all his errors, was ever admirably faithful to the domestic affections-a kind and respectful son, and an attached brother. He experienced on several occasions substantial proofs of that generosity of Scott towards his less fortunate brethren, which might have redeemed his infinite superiority in Envy's own bosom. It was also remarkable of Knox, that, from the force of early impressions of piety, he was able, in the very midst of the most deplorable dissipation, to command his mind at intervals to the composition of verses alive with sacred fire, and breathing of Scriptural simplicity and tenderness. The feelings of the poet's heart, at a particular crisis of his family history, are truly expressed in the two first of the following specimens: