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For thee I pour this unaffected lay;
To thee these simple numbers all belong :
Thy memory still inspires my childish song.
Thy fingers sweep my trembling hearl-strings o'er,
And bid its wakened music sleep no more!
Hung o'er thy grave, in death's unbroken rest;
One answering echo lingered in my breast.
Accept these lines, unworthy though they be,
By thee inspired, and dedicate to thee!'-p.311. These stanzas, though rather diffuse, and here and there deficient in rhyme, are tender and elegant ; and our readers will have observed two thoughts which seem to us not only beautiful but original; and on the whole, we believe, we may assure them that this last extract is a favourable specimen of Margaret's best poetry.
Mrs. Davidson seems to reproach herself, and Miss Sedgwick—who had become acquainted with Margaret in the last years of her rapid transit-adopts in some degree the same tone —that the case was not judiciously treated. There is no doubt that, with the example of Lucretia before their eyes, and with their opinion of the causes of her premature decay, the treatment of Margaret was, logically speaking, inconsistent and injudicious : but physically and really, we are satisfied that her friends have nothing to reproach themselves with; and that the process pursued did not accelerate, and that no treatment could have averted, the catastrophe of either of the sisters. They had run their racein a shorter time than ordinary persons-but they had run it. These girls at fifteen and seventeen had, in the premature exertion of their intellects and the unceasing activity of their pens, lived as long as Miss Landon or Mrs. Hemans--if they had lived longer they might have outlived themselves. There are numerous instances in which nature condenses, as it were, its intellectual as well as its physical bounties into a limited space—but premature bodily growth rapidly decays, and the brilliancy of many a youthful genius, if not closed in death, subsides into mediocrity or
lullness. Genius is itself almost a disease, and who can say of the three greatest geniuses lately removed from this world
Talleyrand, Scott, and Byron—whether the mortal ingredient had not under the indulgence of Providence subsided into the club-foot ?*
Our readers cannot fail to have observed, 'both of Lucretia and Margaret, that their advance in poetry was by no means proportioned to their advance in years—their first written and dated verses are nearly as good as the last, and, even when they are positively better, they appear inferior relatively to the circumstances in which they were produced. There is also, it will be observed, an almost undistinguishable similarity between the style of the two sisters, and in the individual pieces of each a constant recurrence of the same ideas and expressions, and a too frequent approach, as we before observed, to the wrong side of the very verge of meaning,' so that they assume, when read consecutively, a growing character of monotony,t repetition, vagueness, inflation-and force upon us the reluctant conclusion that they belong rather to versification than poetry, and that the writers were, by the very qualities which excite so much admiration, destined to no higher flights. At five and six they were miracles—at ten and eleven wonders—but at fifteen and seventeen their productions did not remarkably surpass those of many a girl of that age. Those who begin early will end early; and if Lucretia and Margaret bad lived to bodily maturity, they would probably have appeared to recede to mental mediocrity.
We cannot better describe our sensations in reading these volumes than by Margaret's own criticism on Mrs. Hemans :
'She was a woman of deep feeling, lively fancy, and acute sensibilities-but there is one thing I have often remarked: the mind soon
* Some ingenious moderns have found reason to suspect that Shakspeare himself, the greatest imaginative genius that ever illustrated our sphere, was club-footed : but however such a fact might strengthen the theory hinted at in the text, we candidly own that we can see no ground whatsoever for the suspicion.
This appears strongest in Margaret, probably because she came last and had her mind imbued with recollections of her sister, but we do not think that she was naturally inferior to Lucretia. There is a pretty imitation of a Scotch song by her, two verses of which we are tempted to copy as a specimen of her lighter style:* Fair as the simmer flower,
Grief may bedim the while
Joy's glowing flame;
Sorrow may steal the smile
From its sweet hame;
But the sweet flow'ret-Love-
Native of heaven above,
In the dark storm shall prove
Ever the same.' Perhaps this little piece has more melody than meaning: but Lucretia also had her • Imitation of the Scotch,' of which we need give but the last couplet :
* But Norman still lives! his Marion is found;
By the adamant chains of blythe Hymen they're bound And this is published by Miss Sedgwick!
wearies in perusing many of her pieces at once. She expresses those sweet sentiments so often, and introduces the same stream of beautiful ideas so constantly, that they sometimes degenerate into monotony. I know no higher treat than to read a few of her best productions, and comment upon
and feel their beauties: but perusing her volume is to me like listening to a strain of sweet music, repeated over and over again until it becomes so familiar to the ear that it loses the charm of variety.'
- p. 77.
This is nearly our opinion of both Margaret and Lucretia ; and our readers will admire not only the justness of the criticism, but the clearness and propriety of the expression. Indeed, there is nothing in either of the volumes more remarkable than the ease and purity of the idiom, both in prose and verse. We have not observed one provincialism; all-including Mrs. Davidson's memoranda—is genuine English. Most educated Americans, we know, speak and write very good English, but that of this family is excellent: it is evident that their contemplative and imitative intellects conversed much more with English authors (Addison and Cowper being especial favourites) than with their country neighbours; and, accordingly, these children of the Saranac write at least as well as if they had been born on the banks of Trent or Severn.
On the whole we think that a useful moral as well as physiological lesson may be derived from the history of these two interesting and amiable young creatures :--that the gifts of Providence are dispensed with a certain equitable equality--that early precocity should inspire no confidence, and early mediocrity create no discouragement—that precocity is itself rather a malady than a merit—that a premature exertion of talents is generally a fatal fallacy—and that plants which are forced, by natural or accidental causes, to produce fruits in spring, will either fade away in the summer, or, at best, be barren in the autumn.
We are surprised and vexed that in an age so prone to bookembellishments, we should not have been favoured with portraits of these two lovely and intellectual' countenances. It would indicate a strange apathy if, after the fame of Lucretia, that, at least, of Margaret had not been taken.
Art. IV.-1. An Historical Essay on Architecture. By the late
Thomas Hope. 2nd edition. London, 1835. 2. A Glossary of Terms used in Grecian, Roman, Italian, and
Gothic Architecture. 3rd edition, enlarged. Oxford, 1840. 3. Architectural Notes on German Churches. A new edition.
By the Rev. W. Whewell, M.A. Cambridge, 1835. 4. Remarks on the Architecture of the Middle Ages, especially of
Italy. By R. Willis, M.A., F.R.S., late Fellow of Caius
College. Cambridge, 1835. 5. An Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of Architecture in Eng
land from the Conquest to the Reformation. By Thomas
Rickman, Architect. 3rd edition. London, 1825. 6. The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture set forth in Two Lectures delivered at St. Marie's, Oscott. By
A. Welby Pugin. London, 1841. 7. Report for 1841 of the Cambridge Camden Society. Cam
bridge, 1841. 8. The Rules and Proceedings of the Oxford Society for Pro
moting the Study of Gothic Architecture. Oxford, 1841. THE ancient Greek and Roman architecture answers all the
perfections required in a faultless and accomplished building, such as for so many ages were so renowned and reputed by the universal suffrages of the civilised world, and would doubtless have still subsisted and made good their claim, and what is recorded of them, had not the Goths, Vandals, and other barbarous nations subverted and demolished them, together with that glorious empire where those stately and pompous monuments stood ; introducing in their stead a certain fantastical and licentious manner of building, which we have since called modern, or Gothic. Congestions of heavy, dark, melancholy, and monkish piles, without any just proportion, use, or beauty, compared with the truly ancient; so as when we meet with the greatest industry, and expensive carving full of fret and lamentable magery, sparing neither of pains nor cost, a judicious spectator is rather distracted, or quite confounded, than touched with that admiration which results from the true and just symmetry, regular proportions, union and disposition; and from the great and noble manner in which the august and glorious fabrics of the ancients are executed.'
Such was the opinion of the accomplished Evelyn of the merits of Gothic architecture. Let us now turn to another authority, by whom he is quoted:
• It was after the irruption and swarms of those truculent people from the north, the Moors and Arabs from the south and east, overrunning the civilised world, that wherever they fised themselves, they soon began to debauch this noble and useful art; when, instead of those beautiful orders, so majestical and proper for their stations, becoming variety and other ornamental accessories, they set up those slender and misshapen pillars, or rather bundles of staves, and other incongruous props to support incumbent weights and pouderous arched roofs without entablature; and though not without great industry, as M. D'Aviler well observes, nor altogether naked of gaudy sculpture, trite and busy carvings,—'tis such as gluts the eye rather than gratifies and pleases it with any reasonable satisfaction. For proof of this (without travelling far abroad), I dare report myself to any man of judgment and that has the least taste of order and magnificence : if, after he has looked awhile upon King Henry VII.'s chapel at Westminster, gazed on its sharp angles, jetties, narrow lights, lame statues, lace, and other cutwork and crinkle-crankle—and shall then turn his eyes on the Banqueting-house built at Whitehall by Inigo Jones after the ancient manner, or on what His Majesty's surveyor, Sir Christopher Wren, has advanced at St. Paul's, and consider what a glorious object the cupola, porticoes, colonnades, and other parts present to the beholder, or compare the Schools [i.e. the Divinity School] and Library at Oxford with the Theatre there, or what he has built at Trinity College, in Cambridge--and since all these at Greenwich and other places- by which time our home-traveller will begin to have a just idea of the ancient and modern architecture :I say, let him well consider, and compare them judicially, without partiality and prejudice, and then pronounce which of the two manners strikes the understanding as well as the eye with the more majesty and solemn greatness, and accordingly determine to whom the preference is due. Not, as we have said, that there is not something of solid and oddly artificial too after a sort; but then the universal and unreasonable thickness of the walls, clumsy buttresses, towers, sharp pointed arches, doors and other apertures without proportion, nonsensical insertions of various marbles, [tombs?] impertinently placed turrets, and pinnacles thick set with monkeys and chimeras, and abundance of busy work and other incongruities, dissipate and break the angles of the sight, and so confound that one cannot consider it with any steadiness where to begin or end ; taking off from that noble air and grandeur which the ancients had so well and judiciously established. But in this sort have they and their followers ever since filled not Europe alone, but Asia and Africa besides, with mountains of stone, vast and gigantic buildings indeed, but not worthy the name of architecture.'Life of Sir C. Wren, p. 308.
These, indeed, are not the words of Sir Christopher Wren himself; but they occur in the memoirs of his life by his son, and accurately enough represent the taste of the age in which he lived. And we have quoted them for the purpose of marking strongly the change, which has taken place not only in England but in France and Germany, within the last few years, on the subject of Gothic architecture. The works before us exbibit an interest and research in this