« AnteriorContinuar »
The popularity of these poems has been perhaps entirely unexampled in the history of literature of this description. The extraordinary newspaper popularity of her later writings, is itself an indication of the fact.
But why need we occupy time and space to prove that which has everywhere been conceded? Who will deny that Mrs. Hemans has enjoyed, in her own life-time, a true fame, even the truest, dearest, best of all its spices, — though only as the dim beginning of the brightness which awaits her name? Her success was complete, and the lovers of the muse everywhere confessed it. She addressed herself, not to passion, or fashion, or the public, or any particular class of the community or country in which she lived, but with truth's transparent and glowing passport ir her hand she sung; and wherever there was civilization, there did she find grateful and responsive hearts.
That she enjoyed this reputation while on earth, and that the seal of immortality awaits her name, is not strange; for her aim was God-like: it was none other than to be the worthy interpreter of worthy truth, deeply concerning the happiness of her race; and the vital spirit of virtue she invoked, inspired her equal to the task.
This is her praise; and it is praise enough. She did not seem to feel the high dignity of her profession, nor forget to observe it. It was not her misfortune to make a vain display of genius faithless to its trust; but rather did she cultivate self as the means, than the end.
This was her praise; and the greater for its rarity. Apparently under the conviction that there was too much extravagant excitement abroad, she chose to take the reasonable medium, which her native sense and sensibility alike approved, in painting faithfully the humanity around us as it is, rather than weaving a dreamy web of things that should be.
Calmness was her aim, that she might not only feel, but feel rightly; that the mind may the more faithfully mirror the impressions which meet it in a state of composure, and thereby that it may learn to be true.
It is this calmness which so eminently characterizes the poetry of Mrs. Hemans, and which tended so much to establish her reputation - written as it was, for the most part, in the midst of a stormy time in the revolutionary history of the civilized world. It was a self-possession which never forsook her in the heat of her highest enthusiasm of joy or sorrow.
Mrs. Hemans did not attempt everything, though the ambition of most authors would have been content
with the range she occupied. Her only limits were nature, principle, and truth. With these, combined with her song-inspiration, who could fail of conviction and admiration!
Of the perfect transparency and lofty bearing of the poetry of Mrs. Hemans, much might be said ; but from the sketch already presented, the fact is deemed inferrable. In these attributes she has not been surpassed, if equalled, by any writer of the loftiest school. None could be more alive than she was to the respectability (so to speak) of all that reason discovers and religion reveals of the spiritual meanings of the universe around us, in the least as well as the grandest of its parts.
In introducing this volume to the public, the writer would say, that the space allotted forbids a more elaborate notice of the genius and fame of her who sang, • Thus let my memory be with you, my friends!
Thus ever think of me!
So let it be !"
He would only add, that he feels that in getting out
this volume, his office is as one who throws “ water upon ancient paintings, reviving their forms and colors, like any sound or circumstance reviving images of the past.”