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MISS MARGIE P. SWAIN.
HIS gifted young writer is a native of Taliaferro County, in the State of Georgia; but in early life she became a resident of Alabama. Her home is with her adopted parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. J. Swain, of Talladega County.
The great civil war, at its inception in 1861, found Miss Swain, then scarcely entered on her teens, a pupil of White Chapel Female Seminary, near Talladega. In common with almost all of her sex, from the youngest to the oldest, resident in the States where slavery existed, she became an ardent Southerner in her feeling. As the contest proceeded to more and more sanguinary horrors and gigantic proportions, her interest deepened accordingly, and the stirrings of genius within her broke forth in poetical expression. At a period of life when most young girls are busying themselves with lessons in geography or algebra, her daring mind actually planned and executed "Lochlin," a regular "romaunt of the war," in iambic verse, unaided by other hands, and urged forward solely by the inspiration of her own genius. It was completed, and put through the press at Selma, Alabama, at an age younger than that at which a vast majority of the poets have made their way into the publication vestibule of the temple of fame. The first edition of this poem abounded with typographical and other errors, resulting in great part from the manifold difficulties experienced by publishers as results of the war. In this first edition, the poem was entitled "Mara," for which the young authoress has substituted "Lochlin " in a new edition soon to appear.
Since the publication referred to in 1864, Miss Swain has spent a portion of her time at school; has mastered an extensive course of literary and historical reading, and has written many other poems, soon likewise to be given by her publishers to the world. The most considerable of these is "Constantius," an historical drama of the times of the immediate successors of Constantine the Great. We venture the prediction that Miss Swain's "Constantius" will prove a decided triumph in the difficult art of dramatic composition, and a faithful portraiture of Roman life in the fourth century. Her minor poems,
sufficient of themselves to form a respectable volume in point of size, display great versatility of powers, range of information, rhythmical aptitude, and rare poetic beauty.
And yet all these works of her genius have been produced while she has so constantly been seen in the school-room, or the gay circle of thoughtless companions, that it is wonder to those who know her best how or when they were written. This fact is of itself a high commentary on the force of her genius, and creates higher hopes for her future great and lasting eminence in literature. A manifest improvement in her later productions is visible; and as she has before her all of that period of life when the full maturity of her intellectual powers may ́ ́be expected to be realized, other works, surpassing those already produced, may be confidently expected.
In person, Miss Swain is about the medium height, of fair complexion, handsome spirited features, and hazel eyes, that, when interested in conversation, glow with singular brilliancy. In conversation, she seldom attempts to display those powers which she seeks to wield through her pen; but when occasionally interested by a congenial companion, her conversation is peculiarly instructive and fascinating. If she can happily steer clear of the maelstrom of matrimony, and life and health be spared to her in the pursuit of literary renown, we confidently predict for her an eminence in the world of letters not excelled by that of any of her country women and we even hope that she may surpass them all.
Ah, vainly we sigh for the summer
That dwells in the land of fair flowers;
For joy is a flower that bloometh
At morning, and fadeth at night;
The mem'ry thereof is outblotted
By thoughts which each day brings to light.
Care roots up the planting of pleasure;
Love rises, entrances, and leaves us,
And hopes drift like leaves before wind;
All bright things and sweet take their leavings,
How vain are the dreams which we cherish -
And die like the music of rhymes!
When all things we have that are given,
And while in the chase of strange visions,
Then, oh! for a land of all beauty,
Where dwelleth the light of old days The soul is not cheated by falseness, And joy has bright, genuine rays.
THE LAST SCENE.
The last gun had sounded defiance to foes,
Our rifles were stacked, and our cannons were laid
Our chieftain and hero in sorrow passed by,
We saw our proud banner, now conquered, fall low,
We felt that its folds should wave o'er us no more,
We looked on our squadrons bowed down 'neath despair,
Gazed, through blinding tears, on our country's black bier,
We thought on our glory-our loved ones afar
The long years of toils and of dangers;
THE SENTINEL OF POMPEII.
Dr. Guthrie tells us a touching story of the fidelity of a Roman soldier at the destruction of Pompeii, who, although thousands fled from the city, remained at his post, because dishonorable to abandon it without being relieved, and died a death of useless, but of heroic devotion. He says: "After seventeen centuries they found his skeleton standing erect in a marble niche, clad in its rusty armor, the helmet on its empty skull, and its bony fingers still closed upon its spear."
Thick darkness had lowered, Vesuvius had sounded,
Far, far in the distance the peal of his thunder
Vibrated, and shook the firm earth with its sound;
Red rivers of lava in fierceness poured down.
And thousands were gazing in fear and in horror,
And thousands, inured to it, dreamed not of doom;
That ashes the city-themselves, would entomb.
Like snow-flakes, those ashes of dire desolation
Came thick, fast, and stifling, with burning-hot stones:
Loomed up in the distance, with death in its tones.
And near to the gate that looked out on the mountain,
He saw the hot lava boil up like a fountain,
He thought of his dear wife alone in her anguish,
The hours passed slowly- none came to relieve him;
He saw the dark ashes entombing the city;
He saw them rise up inch by inch to his chin;
The city was covered, the lava flowed over,
And beauty and manliness, childhood and age, And rich things and beauteous now to discover, Were buried below by Vesuvius' rage.
Years, long years have passed, yet that sent'nel is standing, All helmeted, now disinterred, near his post;
And pilgrims, aweary at Pompeii landing,
Look on him, the strangest of all her strange host!
"CONSTANTIUS: A TRAGEDY."
ACT I.-SCENE VI.
Soliloquy of MAGNENTIUS before assuming the imperial purple.
Mag. If I should fail -- why do I speak of it!
Why do I strive, when conscience bids be still,