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But, dear me ! how much work all this private criticism involves ! An editor has only to say “respectfully declined,” and there is the end of it. But the confidential adviser is expected to give the reasons of his likes and dislikes in detail, and sometimes to enter into an argument for their support. That is more than any martyr can stand, but what trials he must go through, as it is !
Great bundles of manug scripts, verse or prose, which the recipient is expected to read, perhaps to recommend to a publisher, at any rate to express a welldigested and agreeably flavored opinion about; which opinion, nine times out of ten, disguise it as we may, has to be a bitter draught; every form of egotism, conceit, false sentiment, hunger for notoriety, and cagerness for display of anserine plumage before the admiring public ; — all these come in by mail or express, covered with postagestamps of so much more cost than the value of the waste words they overlie, that one comes at last to groan and change color at the very sight of a package, and to dread the postman's knock as if it were that of the other visitor whose naked knuckles
door. Still there are experiences which go far towards repaying all these inflictions. My last young man's case looked desperate enough ; some of his sails had blown from the rigging, some were backing in the wind, and some were flapping and shivering, but I told him which way to head, and to my surprise be promised to do just as I directed, ‘and I do not doubt is under full sail at this moment.
What if I should tell my last, my very recent experience with the other sex? I received a paper containing the inner history of a young woman's life, the evolution of her consciousness from its earliest record of itself, written so thoughtfully, so sincerely, with so much firmness and yet so much delicacy, with such truth of detail and such grace in the manner of telling, that I finished the long manuscript almost at a sitting, with a pleasure rarely, almost never experienced in voluminous communications which one has to spell out of handwriting. This was from a correspondent who made my acquaintance by letter when she was little more than a child, some years ago. How easy at that early period to have silenced her by indifference, to have wounded her by a careless epithet, perhaps even to have crushed her as one puts his heel on a weed ! A
very little encouragement kept her from despondency, and brought back one of those overflows of gratitude which make one more ashamed of himself for being so overpaid, than he would be for having committed any of the lesser sins.
But what pleased me most in the paper lately received was to see how far the writer had outgrown the need of any encouragement of mine; that she had strengthened out of her tremulous questionings into a selfreliance and self-poise which I had hardly dared to anticipate for her.
Some of my readers who are also writers have very probably had more numerous experiences of this kind than I can lay claim to ; self-revelations from unknown and sometimes nameless friends, who write from strange corners where the winds have wafted some stray words of theirs which have lighted in the minds and reached the hearts of those to whom they were as the angel that stirred the pool of Bethesda. Perhaps this is the best reward authorship brings; it may not imply much talent or literary excellence, but it means that your way of thinking and feeling is just what some one of your fellowcreatures needed.
I KNOW nothing in the world tenderer than the pity that a kindhearted young girl has for a young man who feels lonely. It is true that these dear creatures are all compassion for every form of human woe, and anxious to alleviate all human misfortunes. They will go to Sunday schools through storms their brothers are afraid of, to teach the most unpleasant and intractable classes of little children the. age of Methuselah and the dimensions of Og the King of Bashan's bedstead. They will stand behind a table at a fair all day until they are ready to drop, dressed in their prettiest clothes and their sweetest smiles, and lay hands upon you, - to make you buy what you do not want, at prices which you cannot afford; all this as cheerfully as if it were not martyrdom to them as well as to you. Such is their love for all good objects, such their eagerness to sympathize with all their suffering fellow-creatures ! But there is nothing they pity as they pity a lonely young man. — From “ The Poet at the Breakfast-Table.”
When we are as yet small children there comes up to us a youthful angel, holding in his right hand cubes like dice, and in his left spheres like marbles. The cubes are of stainless ivory, and on each is written in letters of gold, - TRUTH. The spheres are veined and streaked and spotted beneath, with a dark crimson flush above, where the light
falls on them, and in a certain aspect you can make out upon every one of them the three letters L, I, E. The child to whom they are offered very probably clutches at both. The spheres are the most convenient things in the world ; they roll with the least possible impulse just where the child would have them. The cubes will not roll at all; they have a great talent for standing still, and always keep right side up. But very soon the young philosopher finds that things which roll so easily are very apt to roll into the wrong corner, and to get out of his way when he most wants them, while he always knows where to find the others, which stay where they are left. Thus he learns — thus we learn — to drop the streaked and speckled globes of falsehood and to hold fast the white angular blocks of truth. But then comes Timidity, and after her Good-nature, and last of all Politebehavior, all insisting that truth must roll, or nobody can do anything with it; and so the first with her coarse rasp, and the second with her broad file, and the third with her silken sleeve, do so round off and smooth and polish the snow-white cubes of truth, that, when they have got a little dingy by use, it becomes hard to tell them from the rolling spheres of falsehood.
The schoolmistress was polite enough to say that she was pleased with this, and that she would read it to her little flock the next day. But she should tell the children, she said, that there were better reasons for truth than could be found in mere experience of its convenience and the inconvenience of lying. — From “ The Autocrat at the Breakfast-Table.”
UNDER THE VIOLETS.
Her hands are cold ; her face is white;
No more her pulses come and go;
Fold the white vesture, snow on snow,
But not beneath a graven stone,
To plead for tears with alien eyes ;
say, that here a maiden lies In peace beneath the peaceful skies.
gray old trees of hugest limb Shall wheel their circling shadows round, To make the scorching sunlight dim
That drinks the greenness from the ground, And drop their dead leaves on her mound.
When o'er their boughs the squirrels run,
And through their leaves the robins call,
The acorns and the chestnuts fall,
For her the morning choir shall sing
Its matins from the branches high,
That trills beneath the April sky,
When, turning round their dial-track,
Eastward the lengthening shadows pass,
The crickets, sliding through the grass,
At last the rootlets of the trees
Shall find the prison where she lies,
In leaves and blossoms to the skies.
If any, born of kindlier blood,
Should ask, What maiden lies below?
That tried to blossom in the snow,
- a com
ALFRED TENNYSON, unquestionably the first of living poets, was born in Lincolnshire, Eng. land, in 1810. He is the youngest of three brothers, all of whom were educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and gave promise of marked intellectual greatness. Indeed, Wordsworth, estimating a volume of poenis, published in 1829, and the joint work of Charles and Alfred Tennyson, found the contributions of Charles to be entitled to the highest praise. Alfred Tennyson's first volume, Poems, chiefly Lyricul, was published in 1830, and had a favorable reception, though its merits hardly warranted the expectation of his later masterpieces. Two editions of his Poems followed, in 1832 and 1842, the latter showing a marked increase of strength in the poet. The Princess, appearing in 1847, elicited various comment, though there was but one opinion among critics as to the delicacy and grace of its execution. In 1850 Tennyson gave to the world a poem which instantly quieted all doubts as to his title to the highest rank among contemporary poets, and which was universally received as an ample warrant for liis appointment to the post of Poet Laureate, which was made in the same year. This was In Memorium, a lament for the poet's friend, Arthur Hallan. In it noble thoughts are conveyed in a guise of ideal beauty, bination which has hardly, if ever, been surpassed in our literature. Maud, published in 1855, added nothing to the poet's fame; and the same may be said of the many short poems from his pen which preceded the publication of The Idyls of the King, in 1859. These poems must be regarded as his masterpieces, and can fairly be compared with no compositions less lofty than Milton's. It should be remarked, however, that they are unequal in merit, the earlier Idyls being superior to their successors. Yet to the mass of readers the Laureate is best known by his shorter pieces, some of which are familiar as household words. Among them are The Queen of the May, Locksley Hall, Lady Clara Vere de Vere, and the exquisite songs which are scattered through The Princess, and some of the longer poems. The charm of Tennyson's poetry lies mainly in his unequaled felicity of diction : his choice and arrangement of words and adjustment of epithets almost seem to be the result of inspiration, so happy are they. The most striking characteristic of his verse is refinement, - a delicacy of sentiment and expression that has rarely, if erer, been attained by any poet. His influence upon the poetical spirit of his age has been very potent, and to the purity of his muse is due, in a great degree, the comparative health of our poetical literature.
CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE.*
HALF a league, half a league,
* The poem refers to a celebrated cavalry charge of the British at the battle of Balaclava, 25th October, 1854, in the war in the Crimea between Russia on the one side and England and France on the other.