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the toil of investigation - in pastime, or instinctively - as the cygnet rushes to the waters, or the eaglet rises toward the sun. It was doubtless fortunate for her peculiar temperament, that she should have been the subject of private education, rather than of cultivation among the mass of minds — where her imagination might have been fettered, or its essence suffered to exhale without that fostering and exclusive kindness which seemed necessary in the first stages of its existence.
As youth advanced, her situation allowed her social feelings to receive discreet and healthful development. Thus the balance of character was preserved, and the eccentricity which has been sometimes supposed a concomitant of genius, had in her, no place. Shielded alike from that seclusion which leads to diffidence or selfishness, and from those ceremonies of fashionable life which too often pervert simplicity, her heart expanded with her intellect; and the charm of graceful manners, and a beautiful person, were superadded to the fascinations of genius.
Her freedom, for many years, from those cares which usually absorb a wife and mother, and her early participation of the unutterable sympathies which, flowing from those sources of affection, ripen and raise woman to her climax, exerted a decided influence on her poetical character. From the high and hallowed duties which in the bloom of youth she assumed, her lyre caught a deeper and more thrilling tone; while by her prolonged residence under the maternal wing, she was sheltered from the burden of those cares which sometimes press out the life of song. “ The Muses frowned on me, for keeping accountbooks,” said a Spanish poet. Still more coldly may they be supposed to look, on the unending details of household occupation, which are wont to leave but little space for the laborious refinement which their art imposes. Fortunate is it for those who delight in the high strains of this favoured votary, that the weight of domestic duty fell not heavily upon her, until time had settled the equilibrium of her powers, and poetic composition had become an inwrought habit of her existence.
The last of the influences which we shall mention, as having conspired to educate her genius, is the infusion of sorrow. Its high harmonies could have been perfected by no other teacher. How else could she have learned such sympathy with those who mourn? - or become a soothing song-bird to the sad of heart? Her lot of loneliness was an affliction, which every passing year made more palpable and painful. She took the discipline to her heart, as a messenger from Heaven. It taught her lay to “live tremblingly along the line of human sympathies," as the lightning quivers upon the lance's point.” Though her shrinking delicacy, mingling with woman's pride, long drew the veil of silence over her peculiar trials, is it thence to be inferred that they were slightly felt? “ The wounded dove complains not, — but presses her wing to her pierced side, to hide the blood-drops oozing thence.”
6. Thou hast wept, and thou hast parted,
Thou hast been forsaken long, Thou hast watch'd for steps that come not back;
I know it by thy song.
What, but the failure of fondly cherished hopes, could have dictated the exquisite strain, —
“ Is not the life of woman all bound up
For love and grief.” The tendencies of a genius thus thoroughly educated, were pure and holy. With dark and stormy passions it had no affinity. To reveal the loveliness of nature, the endearments of home, the deathless strength of the affections, the noble aims of disinterested virtue, the power of that piety which plucks the sting from death, were its chosen themes. The outline of its pictures was often bold, yet their finishing was the exquisite miniature touch. With equal ease, it could revel on the storm-cloud, or separate the blended beams of the rainbow. Nothing escaped it, from the hermit flower, to the “ burning stars of light.” Striving to clothe all that it beheld, with its own inherent loveliness, it found the link
Which joins mute nature to ethereal mind,
Had its dwelling been in the wilderness, “it would have discovered in the sere herbage, on the rugged and scorched surface of granite rocks, symbols of the Creator.” Or, to borrow the bold and beautiful figure of Miss Jewsbury, — “as the superb creeping plants of America fling themselves across the arms of mighty rivers, uniting the opposite banks by a blooming arch,
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- so has it been, to truth and goodness, a bridge of flowers.”
Another of its striking excellencies was freedom from bigotry. It was the echo of no sect nor party. In an age when it has been pronounced " almost as necessary to pray for Christians that they may be delivered from contentions, as for pagans that they may be converted to Christianity," it embraced no prejudice, condemned no differing opinion. Peace, and good will, were its watch-words. With the true love of charity, it greeted all, who, through varying paths, advanced in Christian faith, towards the same heavenly home. Still, it was not the more latitudinarian in sentiment, the less fervently attached to its own creed, that it hid not beneath the lyre, “a scalpingknife, for those who chanced to differ from it, in the complexion of their thoughts." It saw in its own sweet art, a bond of union, - a green, quiet oasis, in which to hide from the strife of tongues. Simply and earnestly were its true feelings imparted in a letter of friendship, — “surely, there is enough, in the path which we tread together, to make us feel that we are all the children of one Father, and to prevent our allowing differences of opinion to divide our hearts.”
The possessor of this genius evinced both an innate consciousness of its powers, and a determination to devote them to their legitimate purposes. She held on her way, not in self-esteem, but in reverence for the loftiness of her vocation, and with a continually heightening gratitude for the entrusted treasure. She guarded her gift of melody, as the vestal-flame, for whose debasement or extinction she was bound to give
solemn account. So full and entire was she, in this consecration, as to resist the most tempting offers to write prose, – though moved to their acceptance by pecuniary need. She felt that she had a higher and holier calling, and with unwavering confidence pursued its upward promptings. .
“ Her soul was as a star, and dwelt apart.” Both critics and casual readers have united in pronouncing her poetry to be essentially feminine. The whole sweet circle of the domestic affections, — the hallowed ministries of woman, at the cradle, the hearth-stone, and the death-bed, were its chosen themes. Where have the disinterested, self-sacrificing virtues of her sex —
" the eye Lit by the soul's deep truth," been depicted with such graphic power? Who else, with a single dash of the pencil, has portrayed at once, the lot of woman, and her refuge ?
“ To love on, through all things :— therefore - pray.' It has been alleged that the warlike imagery, so predominant in her poetry, is a departure from its feminine elements. Yet was this the emanation of an indigenous, or an acquired taste ? May it not be viewed as the result of classic studies? of warm affections for beloved relatives engaged in the military profession? of early sympathies, following a favourite brother to battle-fields, in that foreign land whose picturesque scenery and romantic history enkindled her enthusiasm? Was not the chivalric strain, though