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Who sleeps,' she said, and, having drawn this way,
I heard you speaking, .. friend!- Confirm me now,
You take this Marian, such as wicked men
Have made her, for your honourable wife ?'
The thrilling, solemn, proud, pathetic voice.
He stretched his arms out toward the thrilling voice,
As if to draw it on to his embrace.
- I take her as God made her, and as men
Must fail to unmake her, for my honoured wife.'
She never raised her eyes, nor took a step,
But stood there in her place, and spoke again.
- You take this Marian's child, which is her shame
In sight of men and women, for your child,
Of whom you will not ever feel ashamed ?
The thrilling, tender, proud, pathetic voice.
He stepped on toward it, still with outstretched arms,
As if to quench upon his breast that voice.
-May God so father me, as I do him,
And so forsake me as I let him feel
He's orphaned haply. Here I take the child
To share my cup, to slumber on my knee,
To play his loudest gambol at my foot,
To hold my finger in the public ways,
Till none shall need inquire, Whose child is this,'
The gesture saying so tenderly, 'My own.
She appeals to Aurora; and she too gives her verdict :
“ That Romney Leigh is honoured in his choice,
Who choses Marian for his honoured wife.”
“ Her broad wild woodland eyes shot out a light;
Her smile was wonderful for rapture. Thanks,
My great Aurora.' Forward then she sprang,
And dropping her impassioned spaniel head
With all its brown abandonment of curls
On Romney's feet, we heard the kisses drawn
Through sobs upon the foot, upon the ground-
'O Romney! O my angel! O unchanged
Though, since we've parted, I have past the grave!
But Death itself could only better thee,
Not change thee !- Thee I do not thank at all:
I but thank God who made thee what thou art,
So wholly godlike.'
When he tried in vain
To raise her to his embrace, escaping thence
As any leaping fawn from a huntsman's grasp,
She bounded off and 'lighted beyond reach,
Before him, with a staglike majesty
Of soft, serene defiance,-as she knew
He could not touch her, so was tolerant
He had cared to try. She stood there with her great
Drowned eyes, and dripping cheeks, and strange sweet sinile
That lived through all, as if one held a light
Across a waste of waters,--shook her head
To keep some thoughts down deeper in her soul,-
Then, white and tranquil as a summer-cloud
Which, having rained itself to a tardy peace,
Stands still in heaven as if it ruled the day,
Spoke out again." She renounces him on the grounds we have indicated; and we move on to where, after learning Romney's never failing love and the greatness of his calamity, the floodgates of Aurora's passion are broken down:
“No matter: let the truth
Stand high ; Aurora must be humble: no,
My love's not pity merely. Obviously
I'm not a generous woman, never was,
Or else, of old, I had not looked so near
To weights and measures, grudging you
To give, as first I scorned your power to judge
Aurora : I would have no gifts
Forsooth, but God's—and I would use them, too,
According to my pleasure and my choice,
As he and I were equals,-you, below,
Excluded from that level of interchange
You were wrong
In much? you said so. I was wrong in most.
Oh, most! You only thought to rescue men
By half-means, half-way, seeing half their wants,
While thinking nothing of your personal gain.
But I who saw the human nature broad,
At both sides, comprehending, too, the soul's,
And all the high necessities of Art,
Betrayed the thing I saw, and wronged my own life
For which I pleaded. Passioned to exalt
The artist's instinct in me at the cost
Of putting down the woman's, -I forgot
No perfect artist is developed here
From any imperfect woman. Flower from root,
And spiritual from natural, grade by grade
In all our life. A handful of the earth
To make God's image! the despised poor earth,
The healthy odorous earth,-I missed, with it,
The divine breath that blows the nostrils out
To ineffable inflatus: ay, the breath
Which love is. Art is much, but love is more.
O Art, my Art, thou’rt much, but Love is more!
Art symbolises heaven, but Love is God
And makes heaven. I, Aurora, fell from mine:
I would not be a woman like the rest,
A simple woman who believes in love,
And owns the right of love because she loves,
And, hearing she's beloved, is satisfied
With what contents God: I must analyse,
Confront, and question ; just as if a fly
Refused to warm itself in any sun
Till such was in leone: I must fret
Forsooth, because the month was only May;
Be faithless of the kind of proffered love,
And captious, lest it miss my dignity,
And scornful, that my lover sought a wife
To use . . to use! O Romney, O my love,
I am changed since then, changed wholly,—for indeed,
If now you'd stoop so low to take my love,
And use it roughly, without stint or spare,
As men use common things with more behind,
(And, in this, ever would be more behind)
To any mean and ordinary end, -
The joy would set me like a star, in heaven,
So high up, I should shine because of height
And not of virtue. Yet in one respect,
Just one, beloved, I am in nowise changed:
I love you, loved you . . loved you first and last,
And love you on for ever. Now I know
I loved you always, Romney. She who died
Knew that, and said so ; Lady Waldemar
Knows that; . . and Marian: I had known the same
Except that I was prouder than I knew,
And not so honest. Ay, and, as I live
I should have died so, crushing in my hand
This rose of love, the wasp inside and all, -
Ignoring ever to my soul and you
Both rose and pain,-except for this great loss,
This great despair,-to stand before your face
And know I cannot win a look of yours.
You think, perhaps, I am not changed from pride,
And that I chiefly bear to say such words,
Because you cannot shame me with your eyes?
O calm, grand eyes, extinguished in a storm,
Blown out like lights o'er melancholy seas,
Though shrieked for by the shipwrecked,-0 my Dark,
My Cloud, -to go before me every day
While I go ever toward the wilderness,-
I would that you could see me bare to the soul!-
If this be pity, 'tis so for myself,
And not for Romney: he can stand alone;
A man like him is never overcome:
No woman like me, counts him pitiable
While saints applaud him. He mistook the world:
But I mistook my own heart,—and that slip
Was fatal. Romney, - will you leave me here?
So wrong, so proud, so weak, so unconsoled,
So mere a woman !-and I love you so,-
I love you, Romney.'
Could I see his face,
I wept so? Did I drop against his breast,
Or did his arms constrain me! Were my cheeks
Hot, overflooded, with my tears, or his ?
And which of our two large explosive hearts
So shook me? That, I know not. There were words
That broke in utterance . . melted, in the fire;
Embrace, that was convulsion, . . then a kiss..
As long and silent as the ecstatic night, —
And deep, deep, shuddering breaths, which meant beyond
Whatever could be told by word or kiss."
She learns how he had ever loved her, since he,
“ A boy still, had been told the tale
Of how a fairy-bride from Italy,
With smells of oleanders in her hair,
Was coming through the vines to touch his hand;"
and how the very strength of his devotion, and the greatness of
his worship, had made him feel, too, that she must be made part
of his “ dedication to the human need,” and “prove he kept back
nothing, not his soul.” And again the tide of joy rolls up, and
gives a fuller voice than any other poet has ever done to the in-
tensity of love's rapture in a woman's heart:
“But oh, the night! oh, bitter-sweet! oh, sweet !
O dark, O moon and stars, 0 ecstasy
Of darkness! O great mystery of love,-
In which absorbed, loss, anguish, treason's self
Enlarges rapture, -as a pebble dropt
In some full wine-cup, over-brims the wine!
While we two sate together, leaned that night
So close, my very garments crept and thrilled
With strange electric life; and both my cheeks
Grew red, then pale, with touches from my hair
In which his breath was; while the golden moon
Was hung before our faces as the badge
Of some sublime inherited despair,
Since ever to be seen by only one,-
A voice said, low and rapid as a sigh,
Yet breaking, I felt conscious, from a smile,-
* Thank God, who made me blind, to make me see !
Shine on, Aurora, dearest light of souls,
Which rulst for evermore both day and night!
I am happy.'
I flung closer to his breast,
As sword that, after battle, flings to sheath;
And, in that hurtle of united souls,
The mystic motions which in common moods
Are shut beyond our sense, broke in on us,
And, as we sate, we felt the old earth spin,
And all the starry turbulence of worlds
Swing round us in their audient circles, till
If that some golden moon were overhead
Or if beneath our feet, we did not know.”
He accepts the limits that have been assigned him through
his calamity, and bids the artist assume her true functions, nor
cease from her labour on the earth; and together they turn their
faces to the East, to await God's great coming day of final re-
A noble poem, and every where throughout it the poet shows greater than her work. Indeed, given a poem of certain excellence, and the degree in which it shows defectiveness in the interpretive faculty in which we have described Mrs. Browning
as wanting) is but a measure of the higher order of personal qualities necessarily present in the poet; who by that very defectiveness is thrown back more than another on the resources of his own mind and nature. Mrs. Browning is conscientiously devoted to her art; it is no by-work to her, but the deliberately undertaken business of her life. There is no reason why she should not gain a much higher degree of artistic unity and simplicity than she now possesses. The fountains of her genius show an unfailing freshness and force; and high as Aurora Leigh stands, its author may live to look back on it as only a stepping-stone to the highest things of which she is capable.
Art. II.-SECONDARY PUNISHMENTS.
First, Second, anil Third Reports from the Select Committee on
Transportation ; together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of "Evidence, and Appendix. Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be printed, 27th May 1856, 20th June
1856, and 11th July 1856. Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords, appointed
to inquire into the Provisions and Operation of the Act 16 and 17 Vict. cap. 99, intituled “ An Act to substitute in certain cases other Punishment in lieu of Transportation;" and to report thereon to the House; together with the Minutes of Evidence, Appendix, and Index. Orilered, by the House of Commons, to be printed,
25th July 1856. Report from the Select Committee on Transportation; together with
the Minutes of Ecidence, Appendix, and Index. Ordered, by the
House of Commons, to be printeil, 3d August 1838. England and Wales : Tables showing the Number of Criminal Offen
ders committed for trial, or bailed for appearance at the Assizes and Sessions in each County, in the year 1855, and the Results of the Proceedings. Presented to both Houses of Parliament
by command of her Majesty. The Colonial Policy of Lord John Russell's Administration. By
Earl Grey. 2 vols. London: Bentley, 1853. The London Prisons : to which is aılıled, a Description of the chief
Provincial Prisons. By Hepworth Dixon. London: Jackson and
Walford, 1850. John Howard, and the Prison World of Europe. From Original