« AnteriorContinuar »
and, alas! fewer helps, to use the expressive American word.”
In reference to a project for having one of her sons initiated into mercantile pursuits, she thus touchingly alludes to her own precarious state :" I know not that I can make for him any better choice; and the many warnings which my health gives me, and the increasing reluctance of my spirit (which seems withdrawing itself more and more from earthly things as my health declines) to cope with worldly difficulties, make me very anxious to do what I can,' whilst it is yet day.'”1
The following was addressed to a dear friend in Scotland :-" I could not but feel much affected by your account of the visit to the tomb of your dear children. A peculiar feeling mingled, however, with my sympathy ;—to me there seems something almost
In alluding to the same subject some time afterwards, she thus expressed herself to a long-tried friend :-“ You have heard, I conclude, that a path has been opened for Claude in America, for which land the poor fellow sailed last May. I the less regretted his destination thitherward, as his inclinations had always been pointed decidedly to that country. I dare say you remember his statistical tastes in early childhood; they continued, or indeed rather grew upon him, and rendered him far more fit for such' a scene of action than any of his brothers.” In the same letter she spoke with maternal pride and fondness of her son Willoughby (the “ little George,” of former days), then lately returned from the Military College at Sorèze, and engaged on the Ordnance Survey in the North of Ireland. “His superiors,” she wrote, “make the best reports of him. He never loses an opportunity of writing me the most affectionate letters, and takes a delight in my poetry, which, I trust, may be attended with better and higher results than those of mere delight.”
blessed, and holy, and tranquillizing, in our sorrow for the dead-so heart-rending are at times the struggles caused by our passionate affections for the living. With those who are gone, the future cannot contradict the past;' and, where no self-reproach is connected with the memory of former intercourse, the thoughts arising from their graves must all tend to elevate our nature to the Father of Spirits. Your description of your dear sister's life and death, was full of beauty. I remembered well the lovely picture I had seen of her in Edinburgh; her mind must indeed have resembled that sweet and radiant countenance. Such a loss may well have left a void place in the circle of which she was the central light.
“ Alas, for our dear old friend, Sir Robert Liston! and the lovely Milburn, with all its rich array of flowers! I think I could scarcely bear to look on that place again, where I have been so happy.
“I sincerely hope my kind friends the Alisons are not to be visited by any more domestic trials. What a shock was the removal of that bright, affectionate spirit, Dr. James Gregory! Oh, what would this world be, but for the reflected light from another !” - The autumn of this year (1833) witnessed a happy meeting between Mrs. Hemans and her sister and brother-in-law, after a five years' separation. The ravages of sickness on her worn and faded form were painfully apparent to those who had not seen her for so long; yet her spirits rallied to all their wonted cheerfulness, and the powers of her mind seemed more vivid and vigorous than ever. With all her own cordial kindliness, she busied herself in forming various plans for the interest and amusement of her visiters; and many happy hours of delightful converse and old home communion were passed by her and her sister in her two favourite resorts, the lawn of the once stately mansion of the Duke of Leinster (now occupied by the Dublin Society), and the spacious gardens of Stephen's Green, which, at certain times of the day, are almost as retired as a private pleasure-ground. There was something in the antique and foreign appearance of this fine old square, which made her prefer it to all the magnificence of modern architecture, so conspicuous in other parts of Dublin; and she would describe, with much animation, the striking effect she had often seen produced by the picturesque and quaint outlines of its irregular buildings, thrown into dark relief by the fiery back-ground of a sunset sky. She spoke at this time, with steadfast earnestness of purpose, of the many projects with which her mind was stored, referring to them all in the same spirit which dictated, not long afterwards, what may be considered as a lasting record of the intended dedication of her powers, had it pleased God to allow of her continuance in this imperfect state of being. “I have now," are her memorable words, “ passed through the feverish and somewhat visionary state of mind, often connected with the passionate study of art in early life: deep affections and deep sorrows seem to have solemnized my whole being, and I now feel as if bound to higher
aside, I could not long wander from without some sense of dereliction. I hope it is no self-delusion, but I can. not help sometimes feeling as if it were my true task to enlarge the sphere of sacred poetry, and extend its influence. When you receive my volume of Scenes and Hymns, you will see what I mean by enlarging its sphere, though my plans are as yet imperfectly developed.”
In another letter, alluding to the same series of poems, she continues thus :" I regard it, however, as an undertaking to be carried on and thoroughly wrought out during several years; as the more I look for indications of the connexion between the human spirit and its eternal source, the more extensively I see those traces open before me, and the more indelibly they appear stamped upon our mysterious nature. I cannot but think that my mind has both expanded and strengthened during the contemplation of such things, and that it will thus by degrees arise to a higher and purer sphere of action than it has yet known. If any years of peace and affection be granted to my future life, I think I may prove that the discipline of storms has, at least, not been without a purifying and ennobling influence.”
Early in the year 1834, the little volume of Hymns for Childhood (which, though written many years before, had never been published in England)' was brought out by Messrs. Curry of Dublin, who were also the publishers of the National Lyrics, which appeared in a collected form about the same time.
1 They had been printed at Boston, New England, in 1827, at the recommendation, and under the kind auspices of Professor Norton, to whom they had been sent merely for the use of his own children,
Of the latter, Mrs. Hemans thus wrote to her friend Mrs. Lawrence, in the note which accompanied the - volume:-“I think you will love my little book, though it contains but the broken music of a troubled heart-for all the hours it will recall to you beam fresh and bright as ever in my memory, though I have passed through but too many of sad and deep excitement, since that period.”
And of what she called “the fairy volume of hymns,” she wrote to the same friend :" you will immediately see how unpretending a little book it is ; but it will give you pleasure to know that it has been received in the most gratifying manner, having seemed (as a playful child itself might have done) to win criticism into a benignant smile."
The long-contemplated collection of Scenes and Hymns of Life was published soon after the two little volumes above alluded to. In her original dedication of this work to Mr. Wordsworth, Mrs. Hemans had given free scope to the expression of her sentiments, not only of veneration for the poet, but of deep and grateful regard for the friend. From a fear, however, that delicacy on Mr. Wordsworth's part might prevent his wishing to receive in a public form, a testimonial of so much private feeling from a living individual, the intended letter was suppressed, and its substantial ideas conveyed in the brief inscription which was finally prefixed to the volume. It is now hoped that
* Some of the most interesting pieces in this volume are connected with associations of Wavertree Hall; particularly, “ Books and Flowers," " The Haunted House,” and “ O'Connor's Child.”