Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

MRS. BROWNING.

1807 - 1861.

every educa

ELIZABETH BARRETT was born in Hertfordshire, England, in 1807, and died at Florence in 1861. Her marked precocity was encouraged by her admiring relatives, who greeted her juvenile feats in literature with unbounded commendation, and lavished upon

her tional advantage that wealth could procure. At the age of ten years she began to compose,

and seven years later put forth her first volume, An Essuy on Mind, with other Poems. Although possessing unquestionable merit, these juvenile productions did not warrant the expectation of such literary triumphs as she afterwards achieved. But they must be regarded as preliminary exercises, perhaps essential to the great and enduring work in which she was about to engage. This work is represented to the public by several volumes of poems, issued between 1838 and the year of her death, The Seraphim, The Romaunt of the Page, The Drama of Exile, etc. In 1816 Miss Barrett became the wife of Robert Browning, their marriage marking one of the niost remarkable and felicitous unions on record. Although distinctively a poet, Mrs. Browning was not merely a poet. Her scholarship was extensive and accurate, and some of her critical papers on abstruse subjects entitle her to high rank as a writer of prose. For several years the poetical pair had their home in Italy, and Mrs. Browning, sympathizing ardently with the Italian heart in its struggles toward political independence, wrote many of her finest poems on Italian themes and inspired by Italian enthusiasm. Her last work of magnitude was Aurora Leigh, a long poem, in which she gave vehement, though somewhat mystical and obscure, expression to her very positive opinions as to the nature and mission of woman. Her literary faults are many and giare, the chief of them being intentional obscurity, affectation in style, and carelessness in details ; but with the basic qualities of the poet she was grandly endowed, and her place in the front ranks of English singers is not likely to be questioned.

A DEAD ROSE.

O Rose! who dares to name thee?
No longer roseate now, nor soft, nor sweet;
But barren, and hard, and dry as stubble-wheat,

Kept seven years in a drawer, - thy titles shame thee.

The breeze that used to blow thee
Between the hedge-row thorns, and take away
An odor up the lane, to last all day,
If breathing now,

unsweetened would forego thee.

The sun that used to smite thee,
And mix his glory in thy gorgeous urn,
Till beam appeared to bloom and flower to burn,
If shining now,

- with not a hue would light thee.

The dew that used to wet thee,
And, white first, grew incarnadined, because

It lay upon thee where the crimson was,

If dropping now, — would darken where it met thee.

The fly that lit upon thee,
To stretch the tendrils of its tiny feet
Along the leaf's pure edges after heat,

If lighting now, — would coldly overrun thee.

The bee that once did suck thee,
And build thy perfumed ambers up his hive,
And swoon in thee for joy, till scarce alive,

If passing now, would blindly overlook thee.

The heart doth recognize thee,
Alone, alone! The heart doth smell thee sweet,
Doth view thee fair, doth judge thee most complete, -

Though seeing now those changes that disguise thee.

Yes, and the heart doth owe thee
More love, dead rose! than to such roses bold
As Julia wears at dances, smiling cold !

Lie still upon this heart, which breaks below thee !

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

LOVE: A SONNET.

I THOUGHT Once how Theocritus had sung

Of the sweet years, the dear and wished-for years,

Who each one, in a gracious hand, appears

To bear a gift for mortals, old and young ;
And as I mused it in his antique tougue,
I saw a gradual vision through my tears,
The sweet sad years, the melancholy years,
Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
A shadow across me. Straightway I was ’ware,
So weeping, how a mystic shape did move
Behind me, and drew me backwards by the hair,
And a voice said in mastery, while I strove,
“Guess now who holds thee?Death,” I said; but there
The silver answer rang,

“Not Death, but Love.”

[ocr errors]

THE CRY OF THE CHILDREN.*

Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers,

Ere the sorrow comes with years ?
They are leaning their young heads against their mothers, –

And that cannot stop their tears.
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows,

The young birds are chirping in the nest,
The young fawns are playing with the shadows,

The young flowers are blowing towards the west;
But the young, young children, O my brothers,

They are weeping bitterly!--
They are weeping in the playtime of the others,

In the country of the free.

And well may the children weep before you !

They are weary ere they run ;
They have never seen the sunshine, nor the glory

Which is brighter than the sun :
They know the grief of man, without his wisdom;

They sink in man's despair, without his calm, —
Are slaves, without the liberty in Christdom, —

Are martyrs, by the pang without the palm, Are worn, as if with age, yet unretrievingly

The blessings of its memory cannot keep, Are orphans of the earthly love and heavenly:

Let them weep! let them weep! * This extract is from a very pathetic poem on the factory children of Engiand.

:

AGASSIZ.

1807-1873.

LOUIS JEAN RODOLPHE AGASSIZ, in whose death the nation has lost one of her most honored citizens, and Science one of her ablest representatives, was born in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland, in 1807. While still very young he became a zealous student of scientific subjects, and early gave promise of the eminence which he afterwards attained in that department of intellectual effort. For several years he occupied the chair of Natural History at Neufchâtel, and in the discharge of his duties and the prosecution of independent investigations commended himself to the attention and respect of leading scientists in all parts of Europe. IIe was the intimate and trusted friend of Cuvier, the great naturalist. He was urgently invited by several universities of the highest grade ; but he felt a powerful attraction towards the vigorous young Republic of the West, and when in 1817 there came a call to him from Harvard University, he instantly accepted it. The history of his work in the twenty-five years of his life in this country is too familiar to require a detailed statement; it is sufficient to say that for many years he was esteemed by universal consent the foremost savant in the United States and the peer of the greatest of the brotherhood in Europe. It should be added that the recent rapid growth of popular interest in science and the establishment and gratifying progress of many scientific institutions in this country are fairly attributable to his example and influence. Long before his emigration to America Agassiz had become a famous author, and liad won an enviable fame in connection with the Glacial Theory, which he promulgated in 1837. During his residence here he was a frequent contributor to scientific periodicals, and produced several works of marked originality and permanent value. Conspicuous among these are Methods of Study in Natural History and Geological Sketches. In 1865 Professor Agassiz made a voyage to Brazil in the interests of science. The labors resulting from this enterprise, and his arduous efforts in behalf of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Cambridge, proved too severe for his physical strength, and within the year just preceding his death it was evident to his friends that he was failing. Their forebodings were too soon realized, and near the close of his sixty-sixth year the great naturalist passed away. It is simple justice to his memory to add that he was no less conspicuous and admirable for the qualities of his heart than for the powers and stores of his mind. The first extract is from A Journey in Brazil, the joint work of Professor and Mr's. Agassiz; the second is from Geological Sketches.

A COFFEE PLANTATION IN BRAZIL.

THE Fazenda da Fortaleza de Santa Anna lies at the foot of the Serra da Babylonia. The house itself forms a part of a succession of low white buildings, enclosing an oblong square divided into neat lots for the drying of coffee. This drying of the coffee in the immediate vicinity of the house, though a very general custom, must be an uncomfortable one ; for the drying-lots are laid in a dazzling white cement, from the glare of which, in this hot climate, the eye turns wearily away.

Just behind the house, on the slope of the hill, is the orangery. I am never tired of these golden orchards, and this was one of especial beauty. The small, deep-colored tangerines, sometimes twenty or thirty in one cluster, the large, choice orange, “ Laranja selecta,” as it is called, often ten or twelve together in a single bunch, and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »