« AnteriorContinuar »
all such objections to its publication have vanished, and that the revered friend to whom it was addressed, will receive it as the heart-tribute of one to whom flattery was unknown—as consecrated by the solemn truth of a voice from the grave. Intended Dedication of the “Scenes and Hymns of
Life,” to William Wordsworth, Esq. “My dear Sir,
“I earnestly wish that the little volume here inscribed to you, in token of affectionate veneration, were pervaded by more numerous traces of those strengthening and elevating influences which breathe from all your poetry •a power to virtue friendly.' I wish, too, that such a token could more adequately convey my deep sense of gratitude for moral and intellectual benefit long derived from the study of that poetry—for the perpetual fountains of serious faith and inward glee' which I have never failed to discover amidst its pure and lofty regions—for the fresh green places of refuge which it has offered me in many an hour when
- The fretful stir Unprofitable, and the fever of the world
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart;' and when I have found in your thoughts and images such relief as the vision of your Sylvan Wye,' may, at similar times, have afforded to yourself.
“May I be permitted, on the present occasion, to record my unfading recollections of enjoyment from your society-of delight in having heard from your own lips, and amidst your own lovely mountain-land, many of these compositions, the remembrance of which will ever spread over its hills and waters a softer colouring of spiritual beauty ? Let me also express to you, as to a dear and most honoured friend, my fervent wishes for your long enjoyment of a widelyextended influence, which cannot but be blessed-of a domestic life, encircling you with yet nearer and deeper sources of happiness; and of those eternal hopes, on whose foundation you have built, as a Christian poet, the noble structure of your works.
“I rely upon your kindness, my dear Sir, for an indulgent reception of my offering, however lowly, since you will feel assured of the sincerity with which it is presented by 6* Your ever grateful and affectionate
« FELICIA HEMANS."
The manner in which this work was received, was calculated to inspire its author with every feeling of emulation and encouragement. “I find in the Athenæum of last week,” she wrote," "a brief, but very satisfactory notice of the Scenes and Hymns. The volume is recognised as my best work, and the course it opens out called •à noble path. My heart is growing faint-shall I have power given me to tread that way much further? I trust that God may make me at least submissive to his will, whatever that may be.”
One of the many literary projects contemplated by Mrs. Hemans at this time, was a series of German studies, consisting of translations of scenes and passages from some of the most celebrated German authors, introduced and connected by illustrative remarks.
Vol. I. - 24
The only one of these papers which she ever completed, was that on Goethe's Tasso, published in the New Monthly Magazine for January, 1834; a paper which well deserves attention, as it embodies so much of her individual feeling with respect to the high and sacred mission of the Poet; as well as regarding that mysterious analogy between the outer world of nature and the inner world of the heart, which it was so peculiarly the tendency of her writings to develope. “Not alone,” to quote her own words, “ from the things of the everlasting hills,' from the storms or the silence of midnight skies, will he (the poet] seek the grandeur and the beauty which have their central residence in a far more majestic temple. Mountains and rivers, and mighty woods, the cathedrals of nature --these will have their part in his pictures; but their colouring and shadows will not be wholly the gift of rising or departing suns, nor of the night with all her stars; it will be a varying suffusion from the life within, from the glowing clouds of thought and feeling, which mantle with their changeful drapery all external creation.
- We receive but what we give,
And in our life alone does nature live.' Let the poet bear into the recesses of woods and shadowy hills a heart full-fraught with the sympathies which will have been fostered by intercourse with his kind, a memory covered with the secret inscriptions which joy and sorrow fail not indelibly to write-then will the voice of every stream respond to him in tones of gladness or melancholy, accordant with those of his
own soul; and he himself, by the might of feelings intensely human, may breathe the living spirit of the oracle into the resounding cavern or the whispering oak. We thus admit it essential to his high office, that the chambers of imagery in the heart of the poet must be filled with materials moulded from the sorrows, the affections, the fiery trials, and immortal longings of the human soul. Where love, and faith, and anguish, meet and contend — where the tones of prayer are wrung from the suffering spirit — there lie his veins of treasure ; there are the sweet waters ready to flow from the stricken rock.”.
The news which arrived from India in the summer of this year (1834), of the death of her friend Mrs. Fletcher (the late Miss Jewsbury), affected Mrs. Hemans very deeply. The early removal of this gifted and high-minded woman was, indeed, an event to excite the most sorrowful and startling reflections. On the 1st of August, 1832, she was married, in a little quiet church amongst the Welsh mountains,' to the Rev. W. K. Fletcher, one of the chaplains to the H.E.I.C. Fourteen months afterwards, she was laid in her last resting-place, at Poonah, in the “far East," having fallen a victim to cholera, whilst travelling with her husband back to Bombay, from Sholapore, their first station, which they had been obliged to quit, in consequence of its extreme unhealthiness. It is affecting to retrace passages in her letters, fraught with forebodings which are now invested with a sad
* At Penegoes, in Montgomeryshire, then the happy home of Mrs. Hemans's sister.
solemnity-with “ something of prophetic strain." In the very first letter written after her marriage, describing the journey through a desolate tract of country between Aberystwyth and Rhaiadr, she thus expressed herself :-“ We travelled for seventeen miles through the most solitary land I ever saw-high, green, bare hills, inhabited only by sheep; no trees, no houses, no human beings—it gave us on the land, a feeling similar to being on the sea—and I believe our hearts were mutually full of that strange, deep sadness, that unutterable melancholy, which childish minds would say was incompatible with happiness, but which thinking natures know to be inseparable from enjoyment. It is not the skeleton at the Egyptian feast, but the voice of the Macedonian herald, bidding the conqueror remember his mortality."
In another letter, written shortly before her departure from England, she says, in alluding to her own compositions,——"In the best of everything I have done, you will find one leading idea-Death: all thoughts, all images, all contrasts of thoughts and images, are derived from living much in the valley of that shadow.
“My poetry, except some half-dozen pieces, may be consigned to oblivion; but in all, you would find the sober hue which, to my mind's eye, blends equally with the golden glow of sunset, and the bright green of spring, and is seen equally in the “temple of delight, as in the tomb of decay and separation."
Still more striking are the words of one of the last letters ever received from her, dated only six weeks before the writer was called away, in which she speaks of living in a land “where death is such a