« AnteriorContinuar »
you experience also), gradually returning to my employments.”—The same letter contained copies of her two sonnets to Silvio Pellico, to which she thus alluded, _“I wrote them only a few days ago (almost the first awakening of my spirit, indeed, after a long silence and darkness), upon reading that delightful book of Pellico's,' which I borrowed in consequence of what you had told me of it. I know not when I have read any thing which has so deeply impressed me: the gradual brightening of heart and soul into “the perfect day” of Christian excellence through all those fiery trials, presents, I think, one of the most touching, as well as instructing pictures ever contemplated. How beautiful is the scene between him and Oroboni, in which they mutually engage to shrink not from the avowal of their faith, should they ever return into the world! But I could say so much on this subject, which has quite taken hold of my thoughts, that it would lead me to fill up my whole letter.”
In another letter she spoke further of this book, as “ a work with which I have been both impressed and delighted, and one which I strongly recommend you to procure. It is the Prigioni of Silvio Pellico, a distinguished young Italian poet, who incurred the suspicions of the Austrian government, and was condemned to the penalty of the carcere duro during ten years, of which this most interesting work contains the narrative. It is deeply affecting from the heart-springing eloquence with which he details his varied sufferings. What forms, however, the great charm of the work,
? Le mie Prigioni.
is the gradual and almost unconsciously-revealed exaltation of the sufferer's character, spiritualized, through suffering, into the purest Christian excellence. It is beautiful to see the lessons of trust in God and love to mankind, brought out more and more into shining light from the depth of the dungeon-gloom; and all this crowned at last by the release of the noble, all-forgiving captive, and his restoration to his aged father and mother, whose venerable faces seem perpetually to have haunted the solitude of his cell. The book is written in the most classic Italian, and will, I am sure, be one to afford you lasting delight.”
The same letter, speaking of several books which she had read with strong and varied interest, proceeds thus :-“ Amongst the chief of these has been the Correspondence of Bishop Jebb with Mr. Knox, which presents, I think, the most beautiful picture ever developed of a noble Christian friendship, brightening on and on through an uninterrupted period of thirty years. Knox's part of the correspondence is extremely rich in original thought and the highest views of enlightened Christian philosophy. There is much elegance,“ pure religion,' and refined intellectual taste, in the Bishop's letters also, but his mind is decidedly inferior both in fervour and power.”
Another affecting allusion to Silvio Pellico's narrative occurs in a subsequent letter—"I have read it more than once, so powerful has been its effect upon my feelings. When the weary struggle with wrong and injustice leads to such results, I then feel that the fearful mystery of life is solved for me."
“ A friend kindly brought me yesterday the Saturday Magazine containing Coleridge's letter to his godchild. It is, indeed, most beautiful, and, coming from that sovereign intellect, ought to be received as an invaluable record of faith and humility. It is scarcely possible to read it without tears."!
* As it seems impossible for such a composition to be read too often, the letter is subjoined, for the benefit of those who may not have the means of referring to it. Coleridge's Letter to his godchild Adam Steinmetz Kinnaird,
written only a few days before his death :“My dear Godchild,—I offer up the same fervent prayer for you now, as I did kneeling before the altar when you were baptised into Christ, and solemnly received as a living member of His spiritual body, the church. Years must pass before you will be able to read with an understanding heart what I now write. But I trust that the all-gracious God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Mercies, who, by his only-begotten Son (all mercies in one sovereign mercy!) has redeemed you from evil ground, and willed you to be born out of darkness, but into light; out of death, but into life ; out of sin, but into righteousness; even into the Lord, our righteousness,'—I trust that He will graciously hear the prayers of your dear parents, and be with you as the spirit of health and growth, in body and in mind. My dear godchild ! you received from Christ's minister, at the baptismal font, as your Christian name, the name of a most dear friend of your father's, and who was to me even as a son—the late Adam Steinmetz, whose fervent aspirations, and paramount aim, even from early youth, were to be a Christian in thought, word, and deed-in will, mind, and affections. I, too, your godfather, have known what the enjoyments of this life are, and what the more refined pleasures which learning and intellectual power can give; I now, on the eve of my departure, declare to you (and earnestly pray that you may hereafter live and act on the conviction), that health is a great blessing, competence
The following extract is from a letter of acknowledgment, on receiving a present of Retzsch's Outlines to Schiller's Song of the Bell :-“ This last noble production of Retzsch's was quite new to me, and you may imagine with how many bright associations of friendship and poesy every leaf of it is teeming for me. Again and again have I recurred to its beauty-embodied thoughts, and ever with the freshness of a new delight. The volume, too, is so rich in materials for sweet and bitter fancies, that to an
obtained by honourable industry a great blessing, and a great blessing it is, to have kind, faithful, and loving friends and relatives; but that the greatest of all blessings, as it is the most ennobling of all privileges, is to be indeed a Christian. But I have been, likewise, through a large portion of my later life, a sufferer, sorely affected with bodily pains, languor, and manifold infirmities; and for the last three or four years have, with few and brief intervals, been confined to a sick-room, and at this moment, in great weakness and heaviness, write from a sick-bed, hopeless of recovery, yet without prospect of a speedy removal. And I, thus on the brink of the grave, solemnly bear witness to you, that the Almighty Redeemer, most gracious in his promises to them that truly seek Him, is faithful to perform what He has promised; and has reserved, under all pains and infirmities, the peace that passeth all understanding, with the supporting assurances of a reconciled God, who will not withdraw His Spirit from the conflict, and in His own good time will deliver me
are they who begin early to seek, fear, and love their God, trusting wholly in the righteousness and mediation of their Lord, Redeemer, Saviour, and everlasting High Priest, Jesus Christ. Oh! preserve this as a legacy and bequest from your unseen godfather and friend,
"S. T. COLERIDGE.” “ Grove, Highgate.” VOL. I. 25
imaginative nature it would be invaluable, were it for this alone. But how imbued it is throughout with grace—the delicate, spiritual grace breathed from the domestic affections, in the full play of their tenderness ! I look upon it truly as a religious work; for it contains scarcely a design in which the eternal alliance between the human soul and its Creator is not shadowed forth by devotional expression. How admirably does this manifest itself in the group of the christening - the first scene of the betrothed lovers, with their uplifted eyes of speechless happiness—and, above all, in that exquisite group representing the father counting over his beloved heads, after the conflagration! I was much impressed, too, by that most poetic vision at the close, where the mighty bell, no more to proclaim the tidings of human weal or woe, is lying amidst ruins, and half mantled over by a veil of weeds and wild flowers. What a profusion of external beauty!—but, above all, what a deep inwardness of meaning' there is in all these speaking things !"
Very soon after the date of the above letter, that fatal cold was caught, which, following up, as it did, so many trying attacks, completed but too effectually the wreck of a prematurely shattered constitution. Having been recommended, as already mentioned, to be as much as possible in the open air, Mrs. Hemans passed a good deal of time in the Gardens of the Dublin Society, which have been before alluded to, as amongst her most favourite resorts. One day, having repaired there, as usual, with a book, she unfortunately became so absorbed in reading, as to forget how the hours were wearing away, till recalled