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though ire take it from one of the most popular — perhaps the. most popular — of his poems, " The Death of the Flowers."
"The wind-flower and the violet, they perished
long ago, And tii> brier-rose and the orchis died amid
the summer glow; Bat on the hill the golden-rod, and the aster
in the wood, And the yellow sunflower by the brook in
autumn beauty stood, Till fell the frost from the clear, cold heaven,
as falls the plague on men, And the brightne>s of their smile was gone,
from upland, glade, and glen. And now, when comes the calm mid-day, as
still such days will come, To call the squirrel and tho bee from out
their winter home, Whtn the tauad of dropping nutt in heard,
thoujh alt the trtes are still, And twinkle in lite $iaoky light the toater! of
the riU, The south - wind searches' for the fluwers
whose fragrance lute he bore, And sighs to find them in the wood and by
the stream no more."
Of the poetry of these exquisite lines, the melancholy sweetness of tin- sentiment, the delicate beauty of the versification, we need not say one woi-d, but we claim a moment's attention to their fidelity to truth, and the accuracy of observation -which they evince. The golden-rod and the aster are the characteristic autumn flowers in that zone of our continent in which New England is embraced, and the sunflower is a very common Uower at that season. That lovely child of the declining year, the fringed gentian, would doubtless have been brought in with her lair sisters, had it not been for her somewhat unmanageable name. Dryant has written some beautiful stanzas to this dower, but in them he only calls it a '. blossom." And how fme a landscape is condensed into the two delicious lines which we have Italicized ! and yet no one ever walked into a New-England wood on a late day in autumn without hearing the nuts drop upon the withered loaves, and seeing the streams flash through the smoke-like haze which hangs over the landscape.
But winter, especially our clear and sparkling New-England winter, has ita scenes of splendor and aspects of beauty; and the poet would not be true to lus calling, if he failed to recognize them.
"Come when the rains Have glazed the snow, and clothed the trees
While the slant sun of February pours
Nodding and tinkling in the breuth of heaven,
There are many more lines equally good, but we have not space for them. This is a description of winter as we have it here, compounded of the elements of extreme cold, a transparent atmosp'>c. u, and brilliant sunshine. No English poet can see such a scene, at least in his own country: Ambrose Phillips did see something like it in Sweden, and described it in a poetical epistle to the Earl of Dorset, which is much the best thing he ever wrote, and has a pulse of truth and life in it, from the simple fact that he saw something new, and told his noble correspondent what ho saw.
But Bryant's claims to the honors of a truly national poet do not rest solely upon the fidelity with which he has described the peculiar scenery of his native land, for no poet has expressed with more earnestness of conviction and more beauty of language the great ideas which have moulded our political institutions and our social life. Before the breaking out of tho Civil War he was a member of that great political party of which Jefferson was the head, and he is still a Democrat in the primitive sense of the word; that is to say, he believes in man's capacity for self-government, and in his right to govern himself. He has full trust in human progress; age has not lessened the faith with which he looks forward to the future; his sympathies are with the many, and not with the few. Though he has travelled much in Europe, his imagination has been but little affected by the forms of beauty and grandeur which past ages have bequeathed to the present. He has not found inspiration in the palace, the cathedral, the ruined castle, the ivyrovered church, the rose-embowered cottage. Indeed, it is only by incidental aud occasional touches that one would learn from his poetry that he had ever been out of his own country at all: his inspiration and his themes are alike drawn from the scenery, the institutions, the history of his native land. His imagination, as was the case with Milton, rests upon a basis of gravity deepening into sternness; and we have little doubt that not a few of the things in Europe, which move to pleasure the lightly stirred fancy of many American travellers, aroused in him a different feeling, as either memorials of an age or expressions of a system in which the many were sacrificed to the few. In his mental frame there i,i a pulse of indignation which is easily stirred against any form of injustice or oppression. His later poems, as might naturally be expected, are those in which the sentiments and aspirations of a patriotic and hopeful American are most distinctly expressed; among them are " The Battle-Field," "TheWinds," "The Antiquity of Freedom," and that which is called, from its first line, "O Mother of a Mighty Race." It would be well to read these poems in connection with the seventeenth chapter of the second volume of l)e Tocqueville's "Democracy in America," which treats of the sources of poetry among democratic nations; and the comparison will furnish fresh cause tor admiring the prophetic sagacity of that great philosophical thinker, who, at the time he wrote, predicted all our future, because he comprehended all our past.
And here we pray the indulgence of our readers to a rather liberal citation from one of theae later poems, because it enables us to illustrate from his own
lips what we have just been saying. It ia also one of those passages, not uncommon in modern poetry, in which the poet admits us to his confidence, and lets us see the working of the machinery as well as its product. It is from "The Painted Cup," a poem so called from a scarlet flower of that name found upon the Western prairies.
"Now, if thou art a poet, tell me not
Amid this fresh and virgin solitude, * /
The morning sun looks hot. Or let the wind
"But thou art of a gayer fancy. Well,
And ruddy with the sunshine,—let him com* On summer mornings, when the blossoms
And part with little hands the spiky gnus, And, touching with his cherry lips the edge Of these bright beakers, drain the gathered
What a lovely picture is this of the Manitou of-flowers, and what a subject for an artist to embody in forms and colors! The whole passage is very beautiful, and its beauty is in part derived from its truth. It meets the requisitions of the philosophical understanding, as well as of the shaping and aggregating fancy. The poetry is manly, masculine, and simple. The ornaments are of pure gold, such as will bear the test of .open daylight.
It is the function of the critic to discriminate and divide, and we have attempted to deal thus with the poems of Bryant; but some of the best of his pro(factions cannot be classified and arranged under any particular head. They breathe the spirit of universal humanity, and speak a language intelligible to every human heart. Among these are "The Evening Wind," "The Conqueror's Grave," and "The Future Life." All of these are exquisite alike in conception and execution. We suppose that most persons have in regard to poetry certain fancies, whims, preferences, founded on reasons too delicate to be revealed or too airy to be expressed. As Mrs. Battles in a moment of confidence confessed to "Elia" that hearts was her favorite suit, so we breathe in the ear of the public an acknowledgment, that, of all Bryant's' poems, "The Future Life" is that which we read the most frequently, and with the deepest feeling. We say read, but we have known it by heart for years. We will not affirm that it is the best of his poems, but it is that which moves us most, and which we feel most grateful to him for having written. The grace and charm of this poem come from regions beyond the range of literary criticism, and the heart shrinks from making a revelation of the emotions which it awakens. We have left ourselves but little room to
Bpeak of the new volume, called "Thirty Poems," which lies before us. While nothing in it was needed for the poet's wellestablished and enduring fame, it will be welcomed by all his admirers as an accession to that stock of finished poetry which the world will not let die. Here we find the same dignity of sentiment, the same fine observation, the same grace of expression, as in the productions of his youth and manhood. The tone of thought is grave, earnest, sometimes pensive, but never querulous or desponding. Declining years have not abated in him a jot of heart or hope. His is the Indiansummer of the mind, made genial by soft airs and golden sunshine, by green meadows and lingering flowers; and ttill far distant is the time, — to borrow a noble image from this very volume, —
"When, upon the hill-side, all hardened into
Howling, like a wolf, flies the famished northern blast."
All honor to the strong-hearted singer who, in the late autumn of life, retain* his love of Nature, his hatred of injustice and oppression, his sympathy with humanity, his intellectual activity, his faith in progress, his trust in God I
ANNESLEY HALL AND NEWSTEAD ABBEY.
The picturesque region of Matlock, with iu cliffs and streams, its deep woods aud romantic walks, is full of attraction. There we not only see the outward graces of Nature, but catch glimpses of her subtler elements. Springs, dripping from hidden sources, transform the fruit, or the bird's-nest with its fragile eggs, into stone with a Medusa touch ; while in deep caverns are found beautiful spars, exquisitely tinted, as if prepared by the genii of the rock for the palace of their king.
Varied and wonderful are the work
ings of earth, air, fire, and water in the Derbyshire valley, where a sensitive nature recognizes more things in heaven and earth than arc dreamt of in the philosophy of many a passing traveller. To this region of beauty and mystery Byron often came in his youth. These cliffs and streams and woods were familiar to the young poet, and his retentive memory must have received here many of Nature's deep and marvellous lessons. Perhaps among these scenes there cam* to him those
"noble aspirations in his youth To make his mind (he mind of other men, Th« enlightener of nations, and to rise 1 It- kaew not whither, it might be to fall, But fall, even as the mountain-cataract, Which, having leapt from its more dazzling
height, Lies low, but mighty still."
In Byron's day, Matlock was a fashionable watering-place; and tho drawingroom of the "Old Bath," with cut-glass chandeliers, old engravings, and cushioned window-scats, looks much the same as when it witnessed many a gav assembly. In this room the wayward and sensitive youth, secretly writhing with mortification at being prevented by lameness from leading Mary Chaworth to the dance, watched her more fortunate partners with moody envy. The young Lady of Annesley little imagined that the lame boy, with his handsome face and troublesome temper, would link her name to deathless song.
On a fair, sunny morning, towards the close of October, we left Matlock for Annesley Hall and Newstead Abbey. The day was in harmony with the poetical associations of our excursion: a gentle mist hung like a veil over hills and groves, giving a dreamy aspect to Nature, and rendering the places we intended to visit creations of fancy rather than actual facts. Very unromantic personages, however, answered our inquiries for Annesley, which reassured us of its reality. Byron's "Dream" had rendered the scenery familiar to our memory.
Green and of mild declivity, the last,
Our approach led us beside those gentle slopes, and we seemed to see the . maiden and the youth standing on the mild declivity, with its crowning circlet of trees.
"And both were young, but not alike in youth: As the sweet moon on the horizon's verge, The mnttl was on the eve of womanhood; The boy had fewer summers.
"... . • She war his life. The ocean to the river of his thoughts. Her sighs were not for him; to her he was Even as a brother, but no more: 't waft much. For brotherless she was, e«re in the name Her infant friendship had bestowed on him. Herself the solitary scion left Of a time-honored race.
"Even now she loved another, And on the summit of that hill she stood Looking afar, if yet lu>r lover's steed Kept pace with her expectancy and flew."
That lover, soon after, became the husband of Mary Chaworth. It is not for us to speculate wherefore Destiny entangled the threads in that web of existence which originally seemed to have woven the fates of Byron and Mary Chaworth together. We are ignorant of spiritual laws, and know little of the origin whence come those strange attractions, mind to mind, heart to heart, which make or mar the life-experiences of us all.
Had events been ordered otherwise, Byron might have been a better and happier man, but the world would never have received the gift of "Childe Harold." Alas, that the soul must be ploughed and harrowed, and the precious seed trodden in, before it can give forth its fairest flowers or its immortal fruit I
When we had last heard of Annesley Hall, it was ruinous and desolate, and we knew not in what condition it might now Ihj found. Passing through an avenue of ancient oaks, thu road winds down to an old picturesque gate-house, and, leaving the carriage, we walked onward. Looking through the arch of entrance, we saw as in a picture, nay, as in the poet's dream, "the venerable mansion," sitting quietly in autumn sunshine on its old terrace. To gray walls and peaks clung a climbing plant, its leaves red with touch of frost, contrasting deliciously with green ivy, and putting a bit of color into darker hues of stone-work. As we passed beyond the gate, we saw that the mansion had been restored and repaired by careful hands guided by tasteful eyes and loving hearts. Above the hall-door was a bay-window, which instinct told us belonged to the "antique oratory," but we waited onward to the terrace, with its stone balustrade, inclosing a bright flower-gardeu. On the other side of the home stretches the lawn and park, with deer feeding quietly in the distance. .No human form appeared; all was silent and peaceful. We walked thoughtfully on the old terrace, recalling the images of the poet and the I.,»I\ of Anuesley ". but looking up at the ancient sun-dial on one of the gables, we perceived that its shadow fell deeper and deeper with the declining day, telling us, as it had told many before, how time waited not, and reminding us that we also were travellers. Passing again round the mansion, and casting a wistful look within, we saw a woman sitting at a low window, sorting fruit . \Ve approached, and asked if strangers were permitted to see the Hall. She replied gently, that it was not "a show-house." We pleaded our cause successfully, however, when we told her how the thought of Mary Chaworth had led us here from a distant land. If the owners of Annesley knew that once an exception was made to a general rule, we trust they also believed that the visitors were not actuated by au idle curiosity.
Our request being granted, our guide laid aside her plums, and with a kind hand admitted us into the entrance-hall. It was low and venerable, with familyportraits on the walls, among them that of the Mr. Chaworth whom the "wick ed Lord Byron" of other days shot in a duel. From the hall we entered the modern part of the house, harmoniously blended with the older portion of the building. In the drawing-room, two noble portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds arrested our attention. The lady (as Miss Burney tells us in her journal) was a beauty and a belle of Sir Joshua's time, and the painter has done justice to his subject, who is drawn at full length, feeding an eagle, — a spirited, -;>-....!-,>i woman, who looks down from the canvas with bright, triumphant eyes. In the next apartment we were shown
a portrait which touched deeper chords in our heart. It wa'- a likeness of Mary Chaworth in miniature, representing a mature and beautiful woman.
"Upon her face there was* a tint of frrief, The settled shadow of nn inwunl strife, And all unquiet drooping of tho eye, As if its lids were charged with unshed tears."
The truth of this description startled us, and revealed instantly how deeply impressed upon the mind of her youthful lover must have been that face which was the starlight of his boyhood. Years had passed since they parted, and chasms of time and gulfs yet deeper and wider than time ever knows had separated Byron from Anuesley and England, and yet, when he wrote those lines, her face rose before him so clearly, wearing on its loveliness the impress of care and sorrow which he knew must be there, that no words but his can truly describe the expression of her features. Turning to our conductress, we asked if she had ever seen the Lady of Annesley. "Yes, I knew and loved her well, for I was her maid many years"; and, with a faltering tone, she added, "she died in my arms." Genius has immortalized Mary Chaworth; yet the tender and heartfelt tribute of one who had been the humble, but daily witness of the beauty of her life, was worth a thousand homilies.
We were conducted through the library' which had been in other days the drawing-room, out of which opens a small apartment, known to the readers of the "Dream" as the "antique oratory." Leading from the old entrance-hall is the favorite sitting-room of Mary Chaworth in her happy childhood and youth; and here, in his boyish days, Byron often sat beside her while she played for him his favorite airs on the piano-forte. Beneath 'he win-dow is a little garden, where she cultivated the flowers she loved best, and which are still cherished for her memory. Our guide gathered a few of these, and gave them to our young companion: they now lie before us, carefully preserved, with some of their gay tints yet \m