Imagens das páginas

ment was made on the south-eastern extremity of Madagascar, and a fort built, which was called Fort Dauphin. We have no space to follow the narrative of the repeated attempts made by the French to effect a permanent settlement. Bad or weak-minded men were too often at the head of the infant colony; quarrels and wars with the natives were frequent; and M. Lescallier, who was deputed, in 1792, by the French National Assembly, to visit Madagascar, thus reports :-"Europeans have hardly ever visited this island but to ill-treat the natives, and to exact forced services from them; to excite and foment quarrels amongst them, for the purpose of purchasing the slaves that are taken on both sides in the consequent wars; in a word, they have left no other marks of having been there but the effects of their cupidity. The French government has, at long intervals, formed, or rather attempted to form, establishments amongst these people, but the agents in these enterprises have attended exclusively to the interests and emoluments of the Europeans, while the interests and well-being of the natives have been entirely forgotten."

Robert Drury's interesting narrative of his fifteen years' detention in Madagascar gave to the English a better idea of the climate, natives, and resources of the island, than they had hitherto obtained. Robert Drury was the son of the landlord of the King's Head in the Old Jewry, London; and having, at the age of 14, a passionate wish to go to sea, was sent out in a vessel to the East Indies, his careful mother providing him with all comforts, in the hope that a single voyage would cure him of his sea-faring inclination. On the homeward voyage the vessel was wrecked on the coast of Madagascar in 1702. A large number of the people on board got safe to land, where they were, on the whole, kindly treated by a native chief; but becoming furious at their detention, violent counsels were adopted, the chief was seized as a prisoner, and the whole party undertook a perilous march, or rather flight, pursued and harassed by the natives. Drury details the subsequent proceedings with some minuteness; the natives repeatedly overtook the flying party; the chief was restored to his people on a promise of no further molestation being given, but still the pursuit was continued; the fatigued and the stragglers were cut off; and at last, the more hardy and resolute having got greatly a-head of the pursuers, those who remained behind were assaulted and slain, Drury being preserved, his youth having saved him.

Drury spent fifteen years in Madagascar, "suffering almost every kind of privation and distress, became a domestic slave, and as such passed from the hands of one proprietor to another, sometimes experiencing kindness, but more frequently being treated in a manner, which, though not regarded as cruel by his masters, must often have embittered the regrets with which he remembered the reckless desertion of his own pleasant home." He at one time made his escape, for the purpose of reaching St. Augustine's Bay, in the hope of meeting with some of his countrymen ; and his description of his lonely wanderings in the country can only be compared to the narrative of Ross Cox, when, without arms or food, he lost the party with which he was travelling across the American continent, from the Colombia River to Canada. Ross Cox tells us that at one time a wolf faced him, and he had no other resource but to boldly face it too, while he shouted out all the names of all the acquaintances he could recollect, to make the animal believe he had friends at hand. At another time he went to sleep in the hollow trunk of a tree, which proved to be a bear's nest, and was awakened by Bruin returning home. Confounding his visitor by a sudden blow with a stick, he got time to ascend a tree: but the bear watched him with persevering attention, and it was only when it went off to get a meal, that Ross Cox had an opportunity of escaping from the unpleasant neighbourhood. Robert Drury was not troubled with bears or wolves; but one night, as he lay asleep between the decaying embers of two fires he had kindled, a fox began to pull away at his heel; and when Drury started up and struck it with a brand, the audacious creature flew at his face, and was with difficulty beaten off. At another time, as he was trying to cross a river, he was chased by a crocodile. "As I was searching," he says, "for a proper place to wade through, or swim over, I spied a large crocodile ; I still walked upon the banks, and in a short time saw three more. This was a mortifying stroke, and almost dispirited me. I went on until I came to a shallower place, when I entered the river about ten yards: but seeing a crocodile make towards I ran directly back. He pursued me until I got into very shallow water, and then he turned back into the deep, for they will never attack a man near the shore." He afterwards crossed


the river when it was dark, carrying with him a lighted firebrand to scare those dreaded monsters. Drury was brought home to England by a vessel which came to Madagascar for slaves. Domestic slavery has been, from time immemorial, a part of the constitution of society in Madagascar; and, like the Britons at the time of the invasion of Julius Cæsar, or the New Zealanders of the present day, the various tribes consigned their prisoners of war to slavery. But early in the eighteenth century, the exportation of slaves grew into a great trade. Madagascar had been for many years a resort of reckless sailors, who turned pirates*, and infested the Indian seas. But their establishments having been broken up, many of them became slave factors. Enormous was the mischief thus inflicted on the natives; internal wars were excited; and all the evils followed which spring from cupidity, violence, and lawless indulgence. Yet even amid the horrors of that detestable trade, we can perceive something like good springing from it. In return for slaves, various commodities were imported; new wants were created, and some of the advantages as well as the evils of civilisation began to be diffused among the people.

It appears that Madagascar has been peopled by different races at different periods. We perceive from Marco Polo that the island was frequented by Arabians, and some of the tribes on the eastern coast are of Arabian descent. A great immigration has also evidently taken place from the African continent, a large proportion of the natives being black, with "woolly" hair. But there is also an olive-coloured race, which has exercised nearly as much influence on the civilisation of Madagascar as the Normans did on that of England. Whence they came, and when, are matters for speculation; they are not aborigines; they now Occupy chiefly the central portion of Madagascar, which is an elevated and hilly country, not so fertile, but far more salubrious than the coast. The tradition is, that they came from the southeast, and dispossessed or conquered the aborigines, who are traditionally known as the Vazimba, and whose graves are objects of idolatrous veneration to their conquerors, as the barrows of the ancient Britons are objects of curiosity to ourselves. The name of this olive-coloured race is the Hovahs; the central province which they inhabit is called Ankova, the" country of the Hovahs," the h being changed into k; and this province contains Tananarivo, which, within the last half century, has become the capital of Madagascar.

"In the early part of the reign of the father of the late Radama, a period not more than seventy years ago, the Malagasy were divided into not fewer than fifty distinct tribes, governed by their respective chieftains, and independent of each other; the chief of each tribe exercising absolute power over the lives, property, and services of his subjects. Since that period the processes of amalgamation have been rapid and effectual, and the principal divisions now recognised are those already named. All the rest are either subdivisions of these, or people belonging to one or the other intermixed. That they are all nearly the same, is manifest from their general colour, language, customs, and the names of towns, rivers, hills, and productions."

The father of Radama, mentioned in the preceding extract, from Mr. Ellis's recently published "History of Madagascar," was a Hovah chieftain, who began that acquisition and centralization of power which was still farther carried out by Radama himself, and will probably result in making the people of Madagascar united, national, and subject to one government. Radama's father is "universally represented as having been a man of great energy of character, bold, brave, and adventurous, yet possessing an eminent share of prudence, sagacity, and shrewdness." He died in 1808. Of Radama, who was a second son, (his elder brother having been put to death for a conspiracy against his father,) the following characteristic anecdote is told:

"When quite a child, having observed that his father and mother had some dispute, and that the latter had been sent from home divorced, he contrived one day during his father's absence to get a chicken, which he tied to the leg of a chair in the house. His father on his return inquired who had done this, and was told Radama. The child was called, and asked why he had so treated the little animal. He replied, it was a little chicken crying for its mother.' Impoina took the hint, sent for his wife home, and the dispute which had separated them terminated."

We now arrive at an important era in the history of the civiliOne of Defoe's works is, the Life, Adventures, and Piracies of the famous Captain Singleton, containing an account of his being set ashore at Madagascar, his settlement there, with a description of the place and inhabitants.

sation of Madagascar. The enlightened governor of the Mauritius, Mr. afterwards Sir Robert Farquhar, sent, in 1815, a party of English to form a settlement on Madagascar. The settlers, having inconsiderately offended a badly-disposed chief, were all treacherously slain by his contrivance. Governor Farquhar despatched Captain Le Sage to inquire into the matter. The other chieftains in the neighbourhood not only disavowed all participation in the affair, but gave a proof of their sincerity by causing the offender to be apprehended, tried, and executed. Captain Le Sage then went on an embassy to Radama, who, though but a mere youth, was making himself famous as the most powerful chieftain in the island. Radama received Captain Le Sage with great attention. Two of his brothers were sent to the Mauritius to be educated; and Governor Farquhar, in looking out for a preceptor, selected a man who had been a common soldier, and was now a non-commissioned officer. This was the late Mr. Hastie, a worthy and an honourable name. He was the son of Quakers in Cork; grieved his parents by his gay disposition, and still more by enlisting in the army; and came, in the providence of God, to occupy a position, where what he did will yet ripen into fruit, and shed its influence over unborn generations. Mr. Hastie attracted the attention of Governor Farquhar by his exertions in aiding to extinguish a fire which broke out in the governmenthouse, at Port Louis, and was recommended for a commission in the army. Meantime, in 1817, he went over to Madagascar with the young princes; and found that a soldier of the name of Brady, whom Captain Le Sage had left behind him, had greatly improved Radama's troops. Mr. Hastie returned to the Mauritius; but, after an interval, was settled at Tananarivo as British agent, and acquired great influence over the mind of Radama, though for a time that influence was put to a severe trial. One of Sir Robert Farquhar's objects was to procure a treaty with Radama, to abolish the slave-trade. This was not only opposed to the pecuniary interests of the slave-traders, but Radama's principal revenue was derived from the traffic, and his subjects looked to it as a commercial staple. But Mr. Hastie induced him to agree to a treaty for its abolition, on the condition of certain annual supplies being paid by the English government. The treaty was faithfully kept for a time by Radama, and he put to death some of his subjects for daring to disobey his orders. But the supplies never came; Governor Farquhar had gone home on leave of absence, and the acting governor of the Mauritius broke off all connexion with Radama; the slave-trade was resumed, and "false as the English" became a proverb amongst the Hovahs. On Sir Robert Farquhar's return in 1820, he re-opened the communication; and Mr. Hastie returned to Madagascar, accompanied by the missionary Mr. Jones, from the London Missionary Society, who had been for several years watching for an opportunity to occupy this interesting field of labour. Mr. Hastie had an arduous task to remove the impression which had been made. But the activity of a straight-forward, manly mind, managing a rude, energetic, and ambitious one, and directing all its appeals with admirable judgment, dexterity, and tact, at last triumphed over all opposition, and the Madagascar slave-trade was abolished.

Mr. Hastie died in 1826, at Tananarivo, having met with a series of accidents and illnesses before his death, which broke up his constitution. He died at the early age of forty. Radama watched his sick bed, and wept over his grave; and the following testimonial, truly eloquent in matter, is inscribed by Mr. Ellis to his memory :

"It would be fruitless to attempt anything like an account of the individual instances in which Mr. Hastic endeavoured to promote the great work of civilisation in Madagascar. The introduction of the first Protestant missionaries to the capital; the wise, humane, and judicious counsels he gave to Radama; and the faithful, laborious, persevering efforts made to effect the abolition of the slave-trade, and the suppression of the piratical attacks on the Comoro islands, have been already detailed. His successful efforts with the king to induce a commutation of capital punishments, by substituting hard labour in chains, is as creditable to his humanity, as the reduction of money from 70, 80, and 100 per cent. to 33, is to his sound policy, in a country where capital is small, and requires encouragement. Besides the good already stated, Madagascar is indebted to Mr. Hastie for the introduction of the horse, and many other useful and valuable animals, and of seeds and plants of various descriptions. He had made arrangements with the king for the manufacture of sugar, and, a short time before his decease, ordered apparatus from England for that purpose. He had also introduced two ploughs, a harrow, and some wheel-carriages, with various implements of industry; and to him the people are indebted

for the method of training oxen for the yoke, and to carry burdens. Though passionately and avowedly fond of amusements, he neither introduced nor encouraged them in Madagascar. His constant aim was to set an example of industry; and hence, although a billiard-table was opened by a European at Tananarivo, he neither played himself nor gave it his sanction.

"The Protestant mission in Madagascar is deeply indebted to the support and countenance of Mr. Hastie. He was not only ready on all occasions to sanction its labours when solicited, but voluntarily embraced every opportunity by which he could manifest the cordial interest he felt in its prosperity, believing it to be among the most important means for securing his favourite object-the civilisation of Madagascar."

Two years after Mr. Hastie's death, Radama followed him to the grave. at that of thirty-six; he found Tananarivo, not what its name He succeeded his father at the age of sixteen, and died would imply-" a thousand towns"-but a mere village, and he left it adorned with many excellent houses, roads, plantations, and with an increased and increasing population; his father left him a reputation to be sustained, and the "beardless boy," as a rival chief termed him, surpassed his father's fame, for he was the first to reduce Madagascar to a real or nominal dependence; and having a proud, ambitious spirit, being keenly sensitive to reputation, and quick to perceive his country's good, he adopted improvements even of the most novel description, and carried all his purposes with a high hand. It is to be deeply regretted that such a man should have given way to self-indulgence, to the ruin of his constitution, in the very prime and best estate of his life. On his coffin was placed the following inscription-(Manjaka signifies king)-the first of the kind that with any justice could have been inscribed to the memory of a Madagascar prince :— Tananarivo-1 August, 1828,

RADAMA MANJAKA. Unequalled among the Princes, Sovereign

Of the Island.

Great confusion followed the death of Radama. But at last one of his queens, Ranavalona, a woman, doubtless, of energy and spirit, however they may be directed-was proclaimed his successor, to the exclusion of his favourite queen and daughter. The usurpation was immediately marked by blood. Prince Rataffe, who was married to Radama's sister, and who had created considerable interest in London by his visit to our capital in 1821, was put to death, after a mock trial, and his wife was speared. Several of Radama's ablest chief men shared the same fate. During Radama's lifetime the party opposed to innovation-who hated the Missionaries and their schools-had been kept in check, though their complaints compelled their imperious monarch on one occasion to tell the Missionaries that they were going on too fast. Now, with the accession of Ranavalona, an opposite policy was introduced; and the first victims to it were the illustrious natives who had patronized the new system. But Ranavalona went farther-she annulled the treaty with Britain, and permitted Mr. Hastie's successor, Mr. Lyall, to be driven out of the country with indignities for which Radama would have exacted a plentiful crop of heads.

Meantime the coronation of the new queen was celebrated with a splendour unknown before in Madagascar, showing, in a most decided manner, the progress that had been made during the late reign. Ranavalona was crowned on the 12th of June, 1829. Upwards of 60,000 people were assembled to witness the ceremony, which took place in a large open space near the capital, where the Kabaries or public assemblies are held. The Europeans in Tananarivo had a place reserved for them behind the platform, with a guard of two hundred soldiers to protect them from the crowd. We cannot give the whole of the coronation ceremonial, as detailed by Mr. Ellis; it would really appear to advantage beside our own; but we may find room for the following passage :—

"When the queen entered the place of assembly, she was carried towards the sacred stone, which stands about one hundred yards from the platform on which the sovereign usually appears. Alighting on the south side of the stone, her majesty ascended it, and stood with her face towards the east, being surrounded by five generals, each holding his cap or helmet in one hand, and a drawn sword in the other, the band at the same time playing the national air. The queen, standing upon the sacred stone, exclaimed, Masina, masina, v'aho?' i. e. ' Am I consecrated, consecrated, consecrated?' The five generals replied, Masina, masina, masina, hianao! You are consecrated, consecrated, consecrated!' Then all the crowd shouted, Trarantitra

hianao, Ranavalomanjaka !' i. e. ' Long may you live, Ranavaloman-
jaka!' The queen, then descending from the stone on the cast side,
took the idols Manjakatsiroa and Fantaka into her hands, and addressed
I put my
them, saying, 'My predecessors have given you to me.
She then delivered them into
trust in you; therefore support me!'
the hands of their respective keepers, entered her palanquin, and was
borne towards the platform."

The New

The Missionaries, after the accession of Ranavalona, did not immediately experience any inconvenience, farther than the loss of court favour and patronage. But their proceedings were strictly watched; restriction after restriction was placed on their preaching and teaching; the natives were restrained from free communication with them; and one Sunday, as the queen passed the chapel, and heard the congregation singing, she exclaimed that these people would not stop till they had lost their heads! The Missionaries, notwithstanding, continued cautiously their operations, endeavouring to avoid cause of offence. Testament was finished in 1830, and a printing-press and types brought from London in 1834. But at last the queen's mind was roused by insinuations that the objects of the Missionaries were ulterior and political, tending to the overthrow of the government; and at a great "kabary," or assembly of the people, held early in the year 1835, the decree was issued for the suppression of Christianity. All things considered, this decree is a very remarkable state document; the following passage contains the whole spirit of the objections of the Madagascar government to the propagation of Christianity :

"As to baptism, societies, places of worship, distinct from the schools, and the observances of the sabbath, how many rulers are there in this land? Is it not I alone that rule? These things are not to be done, they are unlawful in my country, saith Ranavalomanjaka, for they are not the customs of our ancestors, and I do not change their customs, excepting as to things alone which improve my country."

This decree completely stopped the operations of the Missionaries, who seeing no change in the sentiments of the government, left Madagascar in 1836, and went to the Mauritius. The native Christians, who were numerous, have been subjected to a bitter persecution, have been obliged to read their copies of the Scriptures in secrecy, and to meet by stealth; and many have lost their Mr. Ellis records the fate of an interesting and nobleminded lady. Indeed the whole reign of Ranavalona has been hitherto marked by the blood of the best and bravest of her people.




Ir is one of the beauties of Christianity that it not only warns the soul of the future, and fits it for the life to come, but also It is sheds its kindly influence over the relations of the present. adapted to every situation and circumstance in which we may be placed. Interwoven with the best habits and dispositions of our nature, its gentle graces, like the dews of heaven, water every fertile soil. It is serious in the solemn worship of the sanctuary; it is tender and familiar in the affections of the household; it is the friendly companion amid the scenes of nature; it is the stay of adversity, and the best comfort of prosperity: it never deserts us. Wherever a man has a true source of enjoyment, it is present to sanctify and increase the happiness. Christianity embraces all the conditions of our state. It nerves the arm of the artisan at his daily labour; it strengthens the soldier in patriotism; it enlightens the study of the philosopher; it teaches the scholar his just end and aim; it seconds the call of duty; it invigorates every faculty to its most perfect exercise. Nor does it fail the mere man of letters in his pursuit of literature, but it meets the author in his closet and infuses into his page the real and natural interests of life. For it lays before him in the Bible the best model of composition ever penned, and awakes in him the influence of noble precept and example. It enlarges his understanding. It shows him effects not in themselves, but linked to a first Great Cause. It unfolds futurity, and thus gives the necessary completion to the history of man. It creates new sympathies in the kind, for it teaches that all men are brothers, and humility the

corner-stone of virtue.

It It cultivates the love of nature. cherishes the domèstic ties, and reads a brighter memorial in the It is tear of affection than in the most successful effort of policy. spiritual, and looks to the emotions of the soul above the great acts of fortune. In fine, it embraces the very spirit of literature; dwelling in the heart, and rendering every thought sensitive to the claims of humanity.

These remarks might be pursued, but we hasten to illustrate them by the example of Mrs. Hemans. By observing the superiority of her verse to that of the poetesses of the day, and of her later to her early writings, in connexion with her history, we must be led to attribute the different character to the influence of religion inspiring her later poetry with a more natural interest, and fitting it for its just end—an intimacy with the religious principles of our nature.

Mrs. Hemans set out in life with all the ardour and enthusiasm But there is hope for Madagascar. The very circumstance of a well-appointed embassy being sent to Paris and London in 1836, of genius. She showed her individual character almost in her shows what progress the nation is making. The language has childhood. Her parents' residence in Wales, surrounded by lofty been written; the foundation of a literature laid; the Scriptures hills, and bordering on the ocean, brought her under poetic inhave been translated; useful arts have been introduced; and if fluences she was formed to experience and retain. Often do we find her in after life, recurring in her imagery to the scenes of her Christianity be not utterly exterminated, it will revive with more power. If the comparison does not appear too far-fetched, we youth. Living apart from the world, her soul dwelt in a sphere may term Radama the Henry the Eighth of Madagascar, and his of its own-weaving peculiar associations into an ideal world for its May we abode. She cultivated only the imagination; all her thoughts successor a combination of the Mary and Elizabeth. were tinged with romance. This, as her biographer remarks, has not hope that this "Great Britain of Africa," as Mr. Ellis terms its evils as well as its advantages. While she was looking on it, is yet destined to be a great nation? all things in a poetic light, seeing only the fanciful and romantic separated from the gross and actual, her affections were lost to the thousand social sympathies with mankind, which only an actual participation in their joys and sorrows, a mingling with the common routine of life, can confer. But this was destined to be remedied in the sad experience of life, loosing one by one these ties, and fastening them to more real objects of interest.

The natives, customs, and physical characteristics of Madagascar afford ample materials for another article. We shall therefore, at an early period, return to the island.

OVER deserts wide and far
They have traced the guiding star;
Still with eyes of faith they gaze
On the mystic meteor's blaze.
To Bethlem's stable points the sign,
Rude cradle for a babe divine!
There the Virgin-mother mild,
Gazed upon her heavenly child,
While all around the Shepherds bent
Honouring him their God had sent,
The bearer of his gracious will
Who his promise should fulfil,
And in this his wondrous birth
Give hope and happiness to earth.

The poetical character of Mrs. Hemans' mind being thus early established, her muse was never silent; but sent forth to the world a long series of works which, undergoing some curtailment—as what modern poets shall not?-will be remembered with the language. Her first pieces were little more than specimens of skilful versification; as she advanced, her individual manner appeared in the truly woman-like feeling which marked her poetry. The selection of subjects, the delicacy of taste, the nice perception of beauty, the heroic ardour shown in her writings, nay even their fluency, evince the feminine nature of her mind. Her women share the grace and softness with the high-toned spirit of her disposition. In great trials they are courageous with the boldest, and where they may not do or die, they can submit with heroism. The "Records of Woman" are a trophy for her sex; its constancy, devotion, patriotism, and love, are commemorated in strains that should be dear to every female heart. It was reserved, however,

From the New York Review.

for her later works to add to these a still nobler memorial-the strength and endurance of woman's piety.


Another of the early characteristics of Mrs. Hemans' verse was its patriotic tone. Her mind clung to every trait of national character wherever it might be found. Her fine martial and lyric Lays" are of "Many Lands." They embrace the northern legend of "Runic rhyme" with the tradition of the south. Songs of ancient Greece awake in the stirring pages with the old English war message. The German harvest song equally with the Indian tale enlists her sympathy, while America owes her a debt of gratitude for the bold and picturesque

"Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers."

But her attention became awakened to simpler objects. In a gay mood she could always surrender herself to an "Hour of Romance," and live over some old dream of chivalry; but as the pressing interests of life closed around her, she gave herself to more real though less ambitious topics. The poetry of domestic life, as it appears in the excitement of joy, the calm sufferance of affliction, or the hope of hereafter, arrested her thoughts. She felt that this came home to the hearts of all; that while other themes might attract the fancy or imagination, this was buried deep in the soul with an interest permanent as our nature. She knew that other associations of man would lose their force-the storied castle perish with the record of human glory-while this remained a part of our common humanity

"There may the bard's high themes be found,

We die, we pass away:

But faith, love, pity-these are bound
To earth without decay.

The heart that burns, the cheek that glows,
The tear from hidden springs,

The thorn and glory of the rose-
These are undying things."


This change in the poetry of Mrs. Hemans, caused by a devotion to real life, may in no slight degree be attributed to the study of Wordsworth. When she had once become acquainted with his works, they were ever after her chosen oracles. What she says in one of her letters of the lake scenery, My spirit is too much lulled by these sweet scenes to breathe one word of sword and spear, until I have bid Winandermere farewell," may be extended to the mighty genius of the place. The poetry of Wordsworth opened her a new being. She had before looked upon the world with an eye to the fanciful and romantic; she now saw the simple and religious. Her thoughts of the affections had been always blended with the woman's love of excitementthe interest of battle and engagement, the knightly banquet and the aged minstrel, the tilt and tourney, the masquerade, and all the ancient retinue of chivalry; now they were attempered to a kindlier feeling. Her harp had echoed to the notes of glory and adventure: it was now responsive to the vibrations of the soul. She became acquainted in his pages with

"The still sad music of humanity

[ocr errors]

is hardly any scene of a happy, though serious domestic life, or any mood of a reflective mind, with the spirit of which some one or other of them does not beautifully harmonize. This author is the true Poet of Home, and of all the lofty feelings which have their root in the soil of home affections. His fine sonnets to liberty, and indeed all his pieces which have any reference to political interest, remind me of the spirit in which Schiller has conceived the character of William Tell -a calm, single-hearted herdsman of the hills, breaking forth into a fiery and indignant eloquence, when the sanctity of his hearth is invaded." After this introduction, Mrs. Hemans became a student of Wordsworth, so that, at least during the later years of her life, a single day never passed without a reference to his works. It was indeed a source of pleasure to her when she lived a summer at "The Lakes," during part of the time an inmate at Rydal Mount. Her acquaintance with the man did not detract from the idea of his writings.

Intimacy with the poetry of Wordsworth doubtless led the way to the change to a more serious character in Mrs. Hemans' verse, which the severe school of affliction afterwards matured. The "Quarterly Review" of 1820, in a notice of her poems, says, " In our opinion, all her poems are elegant and pure in thought and language; her later poems are of higher promise, they are vigorous, picturesque, and pathetic." There was yet a third stage to which they afterwards attained-they became sublime and religious. It was not till sickness had touched her frame, and sorrow tamed the wildness of her spirit, that she reached her worthiest efforts in song. As her heart was purified from the world, her mind was freed also, and soared to a better element. Its purpose was fixed, for it had found an appropriate object in the religious sympathies of life. Not only the domestic affections, but even the beauties of nature, ever familiar to her verse, were coloured with a new aspect. They were not only holy or fair in themselves, but they reflected the qualities of their Creator. The passions of life, before so imperfectly represented in their brief hour of excitement, were, by the prospects of Revelation, connected to an endless existence hereafter. There, just poetry, like true morality, must find its end; all else falls short of its proper aim. This is well illustrated by our authoress herself in one of her letters. She is speaking of a character in her verse. "It was with some difficulty that I refrained from making Alcestis express the hope of an immortal re-union. I knew this would be out of character, and yet could scarcely imagine how love so infinite in its nature could ever have existed without the hope (even if undefined and unacknowledged) of a heavenly country, an unchangeable resting-place. This awoke in me many other thoughts with regard to the state of human affections, their hopes, and their conflicts, in the days of did, so much of grace and beauty to the imagination, yet held out the 'gay religions, full of pomp and gold,' which, offering, as they affections owed to a deeper and more spiritual faith, to the idea so little comfort to the heart. Then I thought how much these of a God who knows all our inward struggles, and pities our sufferings."

The best corollary on what we have written is to be found in the stealing gently from the heart of every human being, the simple as actual experience of Mrs. Hemans, as recorded by herself. She well as the learned, the cottager and peasant alike with the noble-writes, the year before her death, serious with the solemn purpose man, the humblest with the most elevated. Here she found something like repose. The tempest of the passions was stayed, the airy visions of fancy were called home, and she came to learn the calm of true poetry. In her own language her earlier works had been

"Sad sweet fragments of a strain-
First notes of some yet straggling harmony,
By the strong rush, the crowding joy and pain
Of many inspirations met, and held
From its true sphere."

It may not be uninteresting to the reader to quote Mrs. Hemans' own words with respect to Wordsworth. Her first acquaintance with his writings is celebrated in a letter to Miss Jewsbury:

"The enclosed lines (those to the poet Wordsworth) are effusions of deep and sincere admiration, and will give you some idea of the enjoyment, and I hope I may say, advantage, which you have been the means of imparting by so kindly intrusting me with your precious copy of Wordsworth's Miscellaneous Poems. It has opened to me such a treasure of thought and feeling, that I shall always associate your name with some of my pleasantest recollections, as having introduced me to the knowledge of what I can only regret should have been so long a "Yarrow Unvisited.' I could not write to you sooner, because I wished to tell you that I had really studied these poems, and they have been the daily food of my mind ever since I borrowed them. There

of life," I have now 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 and holier tasks, which though I may occasionally lay aside, I could not long wander from without some sense of dereliction." And about the same period-" 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." These few sentences unfold the true secret of Mrs. Hemans' later success. It is the "discipline of storms" that must elevate the human character. Prosperity may be joyful to the sense, but adversity is healthful to the soul. "Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed."

Under the combined influence of improved taste, much sorrow, and a firmly infixed religious principle, Mrs. Hemans wrote her last work, "The Scenes and Hymns of Life." It is certainly, as

a literary composition, her best production, and justifies her confidence, had her life been prolonged, of giving to the world something far superior to her other writings. As admirers of her verse, we would point to this, and show Christianity to be the best instructor in literature. It will bear the test of criticism. To note an occasional beauty-she has a power of condensed expression rarely acquired by the female writer, which appears in single lines of great force. Calling poetic inspiration

"The gift, the vision of the unseal'd eye,"

she approaches Wordsworth's "Vision and the faculty divine." Her allusions in these poems are incidental, and far more vigorous than in her earlier works. When she speaks, in "The Prayer of the Lonely Student," of

"The grave sweetness on the brow of Truth,"

we fancy almost that the dream of Plato has been realized, and that we are looking upon the countenance of Truth, so lovely, that all fall down and worship her. The Sonnets entitled "Old Church in an English Park," and "A Church in North Wales," are picturesque and thoughtful. In the sketch of the " English Martyr," there is a fine ode on the Passion.

"The sun set in a fearful hour,

The stars might well grow dim; When this mortality had power

So to o'ershadow HIM."

duced them. We see one walking to and fro among us, mingling with us in the business and the charities of life, apparently superior to ourselves in no internal endowment, and perhaps inferior to ourselves in external advantages and possessions. This man remains among us, or perhaps we lose sight of him for several years, after which he comes upon us all unawares, as one more respected and distinguished than ourselves-one who receives more greetings in the streets and market-places-one who can afford to fare and dress better than ourselves. Most people are content to account for this by exclaiming, "Some people are born with silver spoons in their mouths!" This may be a very short and easy If one way of reaching a solution; but it is not a just one. inquire minutely into the history of such a person, we shall generally find that conduct, and not chance-conduct more than even ability-has been the source of his welfare. If we could acquaint ourselves intimately with the secrets of his heart and of his chamber, and see how all things were made subservient to one chosen pursuit-how carefully every fragment of time was employed-what discouragements were borne-what difficulties were overcome, and how, in the midst of trial and sorrow, the eye looked steadily forward to the brighter and better days to come at last:-if we could see this, we should not be so ready to think too bright when they came.

The Sabbath Sonnet, her latest work dictated from her bed of that these more prosperous and better days came too soon, or were death, was a noble last strain for a Christian poetess.

"How many blessed groups this hour are bending,
Through England's primrose meadow-paths their way
Toward spire and tower 'midst shadowy elms ascending,
Whence the sweet chimes proclaim the hallow'd day.
The halls from old heroic ages gray,

Pour their fair children forth; and hamlets low,
With whose thick orchard blooms the soft winds play,
Send out their inmates in a happy flow,
Like a free vernal stream. I may not tread
With them those pathways,-to the feverish bed

Of sickness bound; yet, oh my God! I bless Thy mercy, that with Sabbath peace hath fill'd My chasten'd heart, and all its throbbing still'd To one deep calm of lowliest thankfulness." Our task is now briefly performed. We have asserted our argument, not that all poetry must be religious, but that the best poetry, and worthiest the name, that which enters into the nature

of man, his passions and affections, which represents his character, must be essentially so. Let the poet, then, who would write for man, study to be taught of Heaven. Let the envy, malice, and selfishness of his disposition be supplanted by Christian charity. Let his life breathe the spirit of the New Testament. Let his inspiration be from Heaven.

SILVER SPOONS AND WOODEN LADLES. "SOME people are born with silver spoons in their mouths, and others with wooden ladles." Every one knows what this proverb means, and how it is applied; and we are constrained to say that we admire neither the proverb nor its application. Spenser says:

"It is the mynd, that maketh good or ill,
That maketh wretch or happie, rich or poore;
For some, that hath abundance at his will,
Hath not enough, but wants in greater store;

And other, that hath little, asks no more,

But in that little is both rich and wise;
For wisdom is most riches; fooles therefore
They are, which fortunes doe by vows devize
Sith each unto himselfe his life may fortunize."

That every one may in this manner "fortunize" his inner life by
the cultivation of habits, feelings, and acquirements, which tend
to happiness by strengthening the mind, and humanizing the cha-
racter, is not much questioned. But perhaps there are not many
readers who would be quite ready to concede that chance has in general
very little to do with even a man's external prosperity in life.
What the wooden-ladle people call the "luck" of the silver-spoon
people is assuredly nothing more than the proper use of some
common quality, such as industry, perseverance, self-denial, which
all men, if they choose to tax their own energies, are capable of
exerting. We allow our minds to dwell too much on contrasts
to look too much on effects, separately from the causes which pro-

We, who are now privileged to address the readers of the London Saturday Journal, have ourselves been regarded as a silver-spoon man by many of the friends and associates of our boyhood. Not that we have attained to any positive eminence among men, but that our circumstances and employments are in strong contrast to those of our early life; and the stronger such contrast is, the stronger at all times will be the disposition to attribute the alteration to happy chances, or to a peculiarly happy tact in bending circumstances, or in bending to them. We see no reason to imagine that the most destitute reader of this Journal has experienced circumstances of greater destitution than ourselves, or has been less favourably situated for the improvement of his mind, or his personal circumstances. The very worst of the discomforts and privations which the poorest and most destitute are obliged to bear, formed but the least portion of our discouragements and difficulties: and while it is denied that they were overcome through fortunate chances, it is admitted that there is no man to whom victories more signal are not open, if he will but fight for them.

Our own prevailing desire in early life was to gratify a strong thirst for knowledge, under circumstances of physical obstruction which made it difficult to procure books, while books were soon rendered the only means by which that knowledge could be obtained. Almost the earliest thing we can remember, is, that we were the possessor of an ingenious cabinet of our own manufacture, being a box six inches long, by about four in breadth and depth, made of deal board nearly an inch thick, secured by a hasp of shoemaker's thread, a staple of wire, and the padlock of a stable door. Through the kindness of one whose kindness availed not in the cloudy and dark days which came after, and through much abstinence of our own from apples, gingerbread, and barley-sugar, this box was stored with a very extensive collection of halfpenny, penny, and two-penny books. There was Cock Robin and the House that Jack Built; Cinderella

[ocr errors]

and Goody Two-Shoes; the Giant-killer and King Pippin; with many other works of less note, the very names of which have escaped our recollection. These, certainly, were not works of the most informing description; but on the same principle that the sports of children satisfy the child," exciting and amusing reading of this sort, in the want of something more fitted to the use, forms an early love of reading, the value of which in maturer years cannot be too highly estimated. The sanguine hope and expectation with which we look forward to the doings and conduct of the rising generation, is principally founded on the consideration of the happier auspices under which their minds have been formed. During the first fifteen or twenty years of this century, such as

« AnteriorContinuar »