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No females louder, fiercer, worse.
Now contemplate the bright reverse;
And say amid the countless names
Borne by cotemporary dames,—
Exotics, fetched from distant nations,
Or good old English appellations,—
Names hunted out from ancient books,.
Or found 'mid dairy-maids and cooks,
Genteel, familiar or pedantic,
Grecian, Roman or romantic,
Christian, Infidel or Jew,
Heroines, fabulous or true,
Ruths, Rebeccas. Rachels. Sarahs,
Charlottes, Harriets, Emmas, Claras,
Auroras, Helens, Daphnes, Delias,
Martias, Portias, and Cornelias,
Nannys, Fannys, Jennys, Hettys,
Dollys, Mollys, Biddys, Bettys,
Say is there one more free from blame,
One that enjoys a fairer fame,
One more endowed with Christian graces,
(Although I say it to our faces,
And flattery we don't delight in,)
Than Catherine at this present writing!
Where then can all the difference be1
Where but between the K and C 1
Between the graceful curving line
We now prefix to atherine,
Which seems to keep in mild police,
Those rebel syllables in peace,
Describing in the line of duty
Both physical and moral beauty.
And that impracticable K
Who led them all so much astray1
Was never seen in black and white
A character more full of spite!
That stubborn back to bend unskillful,
So perpendicularly willful!
With angles hideous to behold
Like the sharp elbows of a scold,
In attitude, when words shall fail
To fight their battles tooth and nail.
In page the first you're sagely told
The simile was injudicious.
* * * *
Besides these genial pleasantries, many shorter poems on local and temporary subjects enlivened the brilliant circle of which Miss Catherine Fanshawe formed so precious an ornament. Many have perished as occasional verses will perish, however happy. I insert one specimen to show how her lively fancy could embellish the merest trifle.
When the Regent's Park was first laid out she parodied the two well-known lines from Pope's "Elegy on an Unfortunate Lady:"
"Here shall the spring its earliest sweets bestow,
and by only altering one word of the first line, and a single letter of the second, changed their entire meaning, and rendered them applicable to the new resort of the Londoners:
"Here shall the spring its earliest coughs bestow,
One wonders what Pope would have thought of such a parody. It is really a great honor. But would he have thought so?
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING ROBERT BROWNING.
Married poets! Charming words are these, significant of congenial gifts, congenial labor, congenial tastes;—quick and sweet resources of mind and of heart, a long future of happiness live in those two words. And the reality is as rare as it is charming. Married authors we have had of all ages and of all countries; from the Daciers, standing stiff and stately under their learning, as if it were a load, down to the Guizots, whose story is so pretty, that it would sound like a romance to all who did not know how often romance looks pale beside reality; from the ducal pair of Newcastle, walking stately and stiff under their strawberry-leafed coronets, to William and Mary Howitt, ornaments of a sect to whom coronets are an abomination. Married authors have been plentiful as blackberries, but married poets have been rare indeed! The last instance, too, was rather a warning than an example. When Caroline Bowles changed her own loved and honored name to become the wife of the great and good man Robert Southey, all seemed to promise fairly, but a slow and fatal disease had seized him even before the wedding-day, and darkened around him to the hour of his death. In the pair of whom I am now to speak, the very reverse of this sad destiny has happily befallen, and the health of the bride, which seemed gone forever, has revived under the influence of the climate of Italy, of new scenes, new duties, a new and untried felicity.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning is too dear to me as a friend to be spoken of merely as a poetess. Indeed such is the influence of her manners, her conversation, her temper, her thousand sweet and attaching qualities, that they who know her best are apt to lose sight altogether of her learning and of her genius, and to think of her only as the most charming person that they have ever met. But she is known to so few, and the peculiar characteristics of her writings, their purity, their tenderness, their piety, and their intense feeling of humanity and of womanhood have won for her the love of so many, that it will gratify them without, I trust, infringing on the sacredness of private intercourse to speak of her not wholly as a poetess, but a little as a woman. When in listening to the nightingale, we try to catch a glimpse of the shy songster, we are moved by a deeper feeling than curiosity.
My first acquaintance with Elizabeth Barrett commenced about fifteen years ago. She was certainly one of the most interesting persons that I had ever seen. Every body who then saw her sai<? the same; so that it is not merely the impression of my partiality, or my enthusiasm. Of a slight, delicate figure, with a showei of dark curls falling on either side of a most expressive face, large tender eyes richly fringed by dark eyelashes, a smile like a sun beam, and such a look of youthfulness, that I had some difficulty in persuading a friend, in whose carriage we went together to Chiswick, that the translatress of the "Prometheus" of jEschylus, the authoress of the "Essay on Mind," was old enough to be introduced into company, in technical language was out. Through the kindness of another invaluable friend, to whom I owe many obligations, but none so great as this, I saw much of her during my stay in town. We met so constantly and so familiarly that in spite of the difference of age intimacy ripened into friendship, and after my return into the country, we corresponded freely and frequently, her letters being just what letters ought to be—her own talk put upon paper.
The next year was a painful one to herself and to all who loved her. She broke a blood-vessel upon the lungs which did not heal. If there had been consumption in the family that disease would have intervened. There were no seeds of the fatal English malady in her constitution, and she escaped. Still, however, the vessel did not heal, and after attending her for above a twelvemonth at her father's house in Wimpole street, Dr. Chambers, on the approach of winter, ordered her to a milder climate. Her eldest brother, a brother in heart and in talent worthy of such a sister, together with other devoted relatives, accompanied her to Torquay, and there occurred the fatal event which sad