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Was a whole empire; that devoted train Must war from day to day with storm and gloom (Man following, like the wolves, to rend the slain), Must lie from night to night as in a tomb, Must fly, toil, bleed for home; yet never see that home. To the Memory of a Lady.
Thou thy worldly task hast done.'-Shakspeare. High peace to the soul of the dead,
From the dream of the world she has gone! On the stars in her glory to tread,
To be bright in the blaze of the throne.
In youth she was lovely; and Time,
When her rose with the cypress he twined, Left the heart all the warmth of its primc,
Left her eye all the light of her mind. The summons came forth-and she died!
Yet her parting was gentle, for those Whom she loved mingled tears at her sideHer death was the mourner's reposc. Our weakness may weep o'er her bier,
But her spirit has gone on the wing To triumph for agony here,
To rejoice in the joy of its King.
LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON.
This lady, generally known as L. E. L.,' in consequence of having first published with her initials only, has attained an eminent place among the female poets of our age. Her earliest compositions
L. E, Landon.
were Poetical Sketches, which appeared in the Literary Gazette: afterwards (1824) she published the Improvisatrice, which was followed by two more volumes of poetry. She also contributed largely to magazines and annuals, and was the authoress of a novel entitled Romance and Reality. From a publication of her Life and Literary Remains, edited by Mr L. Blanchard, it appears that her history was in the main a painful one; and yet it is also asserted that the melancholy of her verses was a complete contrast to the vivacity and playfulness of her manners in private life. She was born at Hans Place, Chelsea, in 1802, the daughter of Mr Landon, a partner in the house of Adairs, army agents. Lively,
Birthplace of Miss Landon.
world of letters, but it also gave rise to some reports injurious to her character, which caused her the most exquisite pain. Her father died, and she not only maintained herself, but assisted her relations by her literary labours, which she never relaxed for a moment. In 1838 she was married to Mr George Maclean, governor of Cape-Coast castle, and shortly afterwards sailed for Cape-Coast with her husband. She landed there in August, and was resuming her literary engagements in her solitary African home, when one morning, after writing the previous night some cheerful and affectionate letters to her friends in England, she was (October 16) found dead in her room, lying close to the door, having in her hand a bottle which had contained prussic acid, a portion of which she had taken. From the investigation which took place into the circumstances of this melancholy event, it was conjectured that she had undesigningly taken an over-dose of the fatal medicine, as a relief from spasms in the stomach. Having surmounted her early difficulties, and achieved an easy competence and a daily-extending reputation, much might have been expected from the genius of L. E. L., had not her life been prematurely terminated. Her latter works are more free, natural, and forcible than those by which she first attracted notice.
I would not care, at least so much, sweet Spring, For the departing colour of thy flowersThe green leaves early falling from thy boughsThy birds so soon forgetful of their songsThy skies, whose sunshine ends in heavy showers; But thou dost leave thy memory, like a ghost, To haunt the ruined heart, which still recurs To former beauty; and the desolate Is doubly sorrowful when it recalls It was not always desolate. When those eyes have forgotten the smile they wear now, When care shall have shadowed that beautiful brow; When thy hopes and thy roses together lie dead, And thy heart turns back pining to days that are fled
Then wilt thou remember what now seems to pass
Or, like meteors at midnight, make darkness more dark:
I saw him once before; he rode Upon a coal-black steed,
And tens of thousands thronged the road,
His helm, his breastplate, were of gold,
The sun shone on his sparkling mail,
Came from that lip of pride;
A wild shout from the numbers broke
The Grasp of the Dead.
"Twas in the battle-field, and the cold pale moon Looked down on the dead and dying;
And the wind passed o'er with a dirge and a wail, Where the young and brave were lying.
With his father's sword in his red right hand,
And the hostile dead around him,
Lay a youthful chief: but his bed was the ground, And the grave's icy sleep had bound him.
A reckless rover, 'mid death and doom,
Lay alike in their life-blood reeking.
The soldier paused beside it:
He wrenched the hand with a giant's strength,
He loosed his hold, and his English heart
Took part with the dead before him; And he honoured the brave who died sword in hand, As with softened brow he leant o'er him.
'A soldier's death thou hast boldly died, A soldier's grave won by it:
Before I would take that sword from thine hand, My own life's blood should dye it.
Thou shalt not be left for the carrion crow,
Or the wolf to batten o'er thee;
Who in life had trembled before thee.'
Then dug he a grave in the crimson earth,
[From The Improvisatrice.']
I loved him as young Genius loves,
Reckless of sorrow, sin, or scorn:
That, with him, I could not have borne! I had been nursed in palaces;
Yet earth had not a spot so drear, That I should not have thought a home In Paradise, had he been near! How sweet it would have been to dwell, Apart from all, in some green dell Of sunny beauty, leaves and flowers; And nestling birds to sing the hours! Our home, beneath some chestnut's shade, But of the woven branches made: Our vesper hymn, the low wone wail The rose hears from the nightingale; And waked at morning by the call Of music from a waterfall.
But not alone in dreams like this,
In tears, in bondage by his side, Than shared in all, if wanting him,
This world had power to give beside! My heart was withered-and my heart Had ever been the world to me: And love had been the first fond dream, Whose life was in reality.
I had sprung from my solitude,
Like a young bird upon the wing,
Wanton droll, whose harmless play
Backward coiled, and crouching low,
Its shadow throws, by urchin sly
The featest tumbler, stage-bedight,
Do rustics rude thy feats admire;
Whence hast thou, then, thou witless Puss,
Or is it, that in thee we trace,
Nor, when thy span of life is past,
Address to Miss Agnes Baillie on her Birthday.
[In order thoroughly to understand and appreciate the following verses, the reader must be aware that the author and her sister, daughters of a former minister of Bothwell on the Clyde, in Lanarkshire, have lived to an advanced age constantly in each other's society.]
Dear Agnes, gleamed with joy and dashed with tears O'er us have glided almost sixty years
Since we on Bothwell's bonny braes were seen,
By those whose eyes long closed in death have been-
A long perspective to my mind appears, Looking behind me to that line of years; And yet through every stage I still can trace Thy visioned form, from childhood's morning grace To woman's early bloom-changing, how soon! To the expressive glow of woman's noon; And now to what thou art, in comely age, Active and ardent. Let what will engage Thy present moment-whether hopeful seeds In garden-plat thou sow, or noxious weeds From the fair flower remove, or ancient lore In chronicle or legend rare explore,
Or on the parlour hearth with kitten play,
Thou still art young, in spite of time gone by.
*The Manse of Bothwell was at some considerable distance from the Clyde, but the two little girls were sometimes sent there in summer to bathe and wade about.
'Twas thou who woo'dst me first to look Upon the page of printed book,
That thing by me abhorred, and with address
Or hear thee say, as grew thy roused attention, "What! is this story all thine own invention?'
Then, as advancing through this mortal span,
With thee my humours, whether grave or gay, Or gracious or untoward, have their way. Silent if dull-oh precious privilege!I sit by thee; or if, culled from the page Of some huge ponderous tome which, but thyself, None e'er had taken from its dusty shelf, Thou read'st me curious passages to speed The winter night, I take but little heed, And thankless say, 'I cannot listen now,' 'Tis no offence; albeit, much do I owe To these, thy nightly offerings of affection, Drawn from thy ready talent for selection; For still it seemed in thee a natural gift The lettered grain from lettered chaff to sift.
By daily use and circumstance endeared,
A sober charm they did not always own-
The change of good and evil to abide,
Shall feel such loss, or mourn as I shall mourn?
This earthly house, though gentle friends may grieve,
And he above them all, so truly proved
Thou ardent, liberal spirit! quickly feeling The touch of sympathy, and kindly dealing With sorrow or distress, for ever sharing The unhoarded mite, nor for to-morrow caringAccept, dear Agnes, on thy natal day, An unadorned, but not a careless lay. Nor think this tribute to thy virtues paid From tardy love proceeds, though long delayed. Words of affection, howsoe'er expressed, The latest spoken still are deemed the best: Few are the measured rhymes I now may write; These are, perhaps, the last I shall indite.
WILLIAM KNOx, a young poet of considerable talent, who died in Edinburgh in 1825, aged thirty-six, was author of The Lonely Hearth; Songs of Israel; The Harp of Zion, &c. Sir Walter Scott thus mentions Knox in his diary:- His father was a respectable yeoman, and he himself succeeding to good farms under the Duke of Buccleuch, became too soon his own master, and plunged into dissipation and ruin. His talent then showed itself in a fine strain of pensive poetry.' Knox spent his latter years in Edinburgh, under his father's roof, and, amidst all his errors, was ever admirably faithful to the domestic affections-a kind and respectful son, and an attached brother. He experienced on several occasions substantial proofs of that generosity of Scott towards his less fortunate brethren, which might have redeemed his infinite superiority in Envy's own bosom. It was also remarkable of Knox, that, from the force of early impressions of piety, he was able, in the very midst of the most deplorable dissipation, to command his mind at intervals to the composition of verses alive with sacred fire, and breathing of Scriptural simplicity and tenderness. The feelings of the poet's heart, at a particular crisis of his family history, are truly expressed in the two first of the following specimens: