THE LIFE AND WRITINGS
BY HER SISTER.
Not for the brightness of a mortal wreath,
Not for a place 'mid kingly minstrels dead,
But that, perchance, a faint gale of thy breath,
A still small whisper in my song hath led
One struggling spirit upwards to thy throne,
Or but one hope, one prayer: for this alone
I bless thee, O my God !
From "A Poet's Dying Hymn" by Mrs. HEMANS,
LEA & BLANCHARD.
PERHAPS there never was an individual who would
have shrunk more sensitively from the idea of being
made the subject of a biographical memoir, than she
of whom, by a strange fatality, so many imperfect
notices have been given to the world. The external
events of her life were few and unimportant ; and
that inward grief which pervaded and darkened her
whole existence, was one with which " a stranger
intermeddleth not." The gradual developement of
her mind may be traced in the writings by which she
alone wished to be generally known. In every thing
approaching to intrusion on the privacies of domestic
life, her favourite motto was, " Implora pace ;" and
those to whom her wishes were most sacred in whose
ears still echo the plaintive tones of her death-bed
injunction, " Oh ! never let them publish any of my
letters!" would fain, as far as regards all personal
details, have " kept silence, even from good words ;"
and in this spirit of reverential forbearance, would
have believed they were best fulfilling her own affect-
" Leave ye the Sleeper with her God to rest." l
1 See " The Farewell to the Dead."
3 * (29)
30 MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS.
But it is now too late to deprecate or to deplore
A part of Mrs. Hemans's correspondence has already
been laid before the public ; and the result has been
one which was, doubtless, little contemplated by the
kindly-intentioned editor, that of creating a very
inadequate estimate, of her character, by " present-
ing, in undue prominence" (to use the words of a
judicious critic,) 1 " a certain portion of the writer's
mind, by no means the portion with which her ad-
mirers will best sympathize, and omitting that othei
and more exalted division of her nature, in which she
was solely or pre-eminently herself."
The spell having thus been broken, and the veil of
the sanctuary lifted, it seems now to have become the
duty of those with whose feelings the strict fulfilment
of her own wishes would have been so far more ac-
cordant, to raise that veil a little further, though with
a reluctant and trembling hand. It has not been
without a painful struggle, that any invasion has been
made on the sanctity of private correspondence, gen-
erously as their treasure-stores have been laid open
by the friends who had hitherto guarded them so
religiously. Such letters only have been selected as
served to illustrate some individuality of character or
temperament, or to exhibit the vivid powers of de-
scription possessed by the writer ; and it is most earn-
estly hoped that these unpretending memorials, feeble
and deficient as they are felt to be, may, at least, be
found free from anything which can give pain to
others, or lead to any wrong impressions of the guile-
1 In the leading article of the " Dublin University Magazine"
for August, 1837.
MEMOIR OF MRS. I1EMANS. 31
less and confiding spirit, whose bright, and kindly, and
endearing graces they so faintly attempt to pour tray.
It is acknowledged, indeed, that as to the points of
highest moral interest and importance, little more than
negative merit is thus attained, and very imperfect
redress afforded to a memory on which such partial
light had been thrown by previous delineations. But
the deficiency is knowingly incurred, as preferable to
the use of the only means by which the picture could
have been made more complete. For it was in a
great measure impossible to render available those
positive testimonies to the generous feelings of her
heart, and the high principles of her nature, which
her correspondence with intimate friends amply sup-
plies, without a breach of those confidences of home
and friendship, which no precedent can justify, and
which can be reconciled to the feelings of an English
family by no increase of public admiration to an in-
dividual member, by no craving, however urgent or
imperious, of the public taste. With a request, then,
that the deficiency thus accounted for may be indul-
gently borne in mind, a close is now gladly put to
these prefatory remarks, and the reader's kind for-
bearance bespoken for the other imperfections of a
biographical sketch, which, it is needless to indicate,
has not been drawn by the hand of an artist.
FELICIA DOROTHEA BROWNE was born in Liverpool,
on the 25th September, 1793. Her father, a native
of Ireland, was a merchant of considerable eminence.
Her mother, whose family name was Wagner, and
who was of mingled Italian and German descent, was
the daughter of the Imperial and Tuscan Consul at
Liverpool. The subject of this memoir (the fifth of
32 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
seven children, one of whom died an infant,) was dis-
tinguished, almost from her cradle, by extreme beauty
and precocious talents. Before she had attained the
age of seven, her father, having suffered commercial
reverses, in common with many others engaged in
similar speculations at that revolutionary era, broke
up his establishment in Liverpool, and removed with
his family into Wales, where, for the next nine years,
they resided at Gwrych, 1 near Abergele, in Denbigh-
shire, a large old mansion, close to the sea, and shut
in by a picturesque range of mountains. In the calm
seclusion of this romantic region, with ample range
through the treasures of an extensive library, the
young poetess passed a happy childhood, to which she
would often fondly revert amidst the vicissitudes of
her after life. Here she imbibed that intense love of
Nature which ever afterwards " haunted her like a
passion," and that warm attachment for the " green
land of Wales ;" its affectionate, true-hearted people
their traditions, their music, and all their interesting
characteristics, which she cherished to the last hours
of her existence. After the loss of her eldest sister,
who died young, her education became the first care
of a mother, whose capability for the task could only
be equalled by her devotedness : whose acquirements
were of the highest order, and whose whole character,
presenting a rare union of strong sense with primitive
single-mindedness, was an exemplification of St. Paul's
description of that charity which " suffereth long and
1 The greater part of this old house has since been taken down,
and Gwrych Castle, the baronial-looking seat of Lloyd Bamford
Ilesketh, Esq., erected on the opposite height.
MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS. 33
is kind," " seeketh not her own," " thinketh no evil."
Her piety was sober, steadfast, and cheerful ; never
displaying itself in high-wrought excitements or osten-
tatious professions, but silently influencing every ac-
tion of her life, and shedding a perpetual sunshine
over all which came within its sphere. How truly
the love of this exemplary mother was returned and
appreciated, may be traced in many affecting instan-
ces through the following pages, from the artless birth-
day effusion of the child of eight years old, to the
death-bed hymn of agonized affection, 1 in the matured
years of the daughter, herself a matron and a mother.
And when that love had been sealed and sanctified
v by death, still more fervent are the yearnings breath-
ed forth in the passionate adjuration to " the charmed
picture" of the
'* Sweet face that o'er her childhood shone ;"
and last and deepest, and best of all, in the sonnet
" To a Family Bible," in which the mourner, chasten-
ed yet consoled, looks back upon the days when her
mother's lips were wont to breathe forth the sacred
lore of those hallowed pages, and meekly and thank-
fully acknowledges it to have been
"A seed not lost for which, in darker years,
O Book of Heaven ! I pour, with grateful tears,
Heart blessings on the holy dead and thee."
It may well be imagined how the heart of such a
mother would be garnered up in a child so gifted as
the bright and blooming Felicia, whose extraordinary
quickness in acquiring information of every kind, was
1 " Hymn by a bed of sickness," written in January, 1827.
34 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
not less remarkable than the grasp of memory with
which she retained it. She could repeat pages of
poetry from her favourite authors, after having read
them but once over ; and a scarcely less wonderful
faculty was the rapidity of her reading, which even
in childhood, and still more in after life, was such, that
a bystander would imagine she w r as only carelessly
turning over the leaves of a book, when, in truth, she
was taking in the whole sense as completely as others
would do whilst poring over it with the closest atten-
tion. One of her earliest tastes was a passion for
Shakspeare, which she read, as her choicest recrea-
tion, at six years old ; and in later days she would
often refer to the hours of romance she had passed in
a secret haunt of her own a seat amongst the
branches of an old apple-tree where, revelling in
the treasures of the cherished volume, she would
become completely absorbed in the imaginative world
it revealed to her. 1 The following lines, written at
eleven years old, may be adduced as a proof of her
. J An allusion to this favourite haunt will be found in the son-
net called " Orchard Blossoms," written in 1834.
" Doth some old nook,
Haunted by visions of thy first-loved book,
Rise on thy soul, with faint-streaked blossoms white
Showered o'er the turf, and the lone primrose-knot,
And robin's nest, still faithful to the spot,
And the bee's dreamy chime 1 O gentle friend !
The world's cold breath, not Time's, this life bereaves
Of vernal gifts Time hallows what he leaves,
And will for us endear spring-memories to the end."
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 35
I love to rove o'er history's page,
Recall the hero and the sage;
Revive the actions of the dead,
And memory of ages fled :
Yet it yields me greater pleasure,
To read the poet's pleasing measure.
Led by Shakspeare, bard inspired,
The bosom's energies are fired;
We learn to shed the generous tear,
O'er poor Ophelia's sacred bier;
To love the merry moonlit scene,
With fairy elves in valleys green ;
Or, borne on fancy's heavenly wings,
To listen while sweet Ariel sings.
How sweet the "native woodnotes wild"
Of him, the Muse's favourite child !
Of him whose magic lays impart
Each various feeling to the heart !
At about the age of eleven, she passed a winter in
London with her father and mother ; and a similar
sojourn was repeated in the following year, after
which she never visited the metropolis. The contrast
between the confinement of a town life, and the happy
freedom of her own mountain home, was even then
so grateful to her, that the indulgences of plays and
sights soon ceased to be cared for, and she longed to
rejoin her younger brother l and sister in their favourite
1 Claude Scott Browne, the brother here alluded to, who was
one year younger than Mrs. Hemans, died at Kingston, in Upper
Canada (where he was employed as a Deputy-Assistant Com-
missary General,) in 1821.
"They grew in beauty, side by side,
They fill'd one home with glee ;
Their graves are sever'd far and wide,
By mount, and stream, and sea."
The Graves of a Household.
36 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
rural haunts and amusements the nuttery wood, the
beloved apple-tree, the old arbour, with its swing, the
post-office tree, in whose trunk a daily interchange of
family letters was established, the pool where fairy
ships were launched (generally painted and decorated
by herself,) and, dearer still, the fresh, free ramble on
the sea-shore, or the mountain expedition to the Sig-
nal Station, or the Roman Encampment. In one of
her letters, the pleasure with which she looked for-
ward to her return home, was thus expressed in
WRITTEN FROM LONDON TO MY BROTHER AND SISTER IN
Happy soon we'll meet again,
Free from sorrow, care, and pain;
Soon again we'll rise with dawn,
To roam the verdant dewy lawn;
Soon the budding leaves we'll hail,
Or wander through the well-known vaie;
Or weave the smiling wreath of flowers ;
And sport away the light-wing'd hours.
Soon we'll run the agile race ;
Soon, dear playmates, we'll embrace;
Through the wheat field or the grove,
We'll, hand in hand, delighted rove ;
Or, beneath some spreading oak,
Ponder the instructive book;
Or view the ships that swiftly glide,
Floating on the peaceful tide;
Or raise again the carolled lay;
Or join again in mirthful play;
Or listen to the humming bees,
As their murmurs swell the breeze;
Or seek the primrose where it springs;
Or chase the fly with painted wings ;
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 37
r Or talk beneath the arbour's shade ;
Or mark the tender shooting blade;
Or stray beside the babbling stream,
When Luna sheds her placid beam;
Or gaze upon the glassy sea
Happy, happy shall we be !
Some things, however, during these visits to Lon-
don, made an impression never to be effaced, and she
retained the most vivid recollection of several of the
great works of art which she was then taken to see.
On entering a gallery of sculpture, she involuntarily
exclaimed " Oh ! hush ! don't speak ;" and her
mother used to take pleasure in describing the inte-
rest she had excited in a party who happened to be
visiting the Marquess of Stafford's collection at the
same time, by her unsophisticated expressions of de-
light, and her familiarity with the mythological and
classical subjects of many of the pictures.
In 1808, a collection of her poems, w^hieh had long
been regarded amongst her friends with a degree of
admiration, perhaps more partial than judicious, was
submitted to the world, in the form (certainly an ill-
advised one) of a quarto volume. Its appearance
drew down the animadversions of some self-consti-
tuted arbiter of public taste, and the young poetess
was thus early initiated into the pains and perils at-
tendant upon the career of an author ; though it may
here be observed, that, as far as criticism was con-
cerned, this was at once the first and last time she
was destined to meet with anything like harshness
or mortification. Though this unexpected severity
was felt bitterly for a few days, her buoyant spirit
VOL. I. 4
38 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
soon rose above it, and her effusions continued to be
poured forth as spontaneously as the song of the sky-
lark. New sources of inspiration were now opening
to her view. Birthday addresses, songs by the sea-
shore, and invocations to fairies, were henceforth to
be diversified with warlike themes; and trumpets and
banners now floated through the dreams in which
birds and flowers had once reigned paramount. Her
two elder brothers had entered the army at an early
age, and were both serving in the 23d Royal Welsh
Fusiliers. One of them was now engaged in the
Spanish campaign under Sir John Moore ; and a vivid
imagination and enthusiastic affections being alike
enlisted in the cause, her young mind was filled with
glorious visions of British valour and Spanish patriot-
ism. In her ardent view, the days of chivalry seem-
ed to be restored, and the very names which were of
daily occurrence in the despatches, were involuntarily
associated with the deeds of Roland and his Paladins,
or of her own especial hero, " The Cid Ruy Diaz,"
the campeador. Under the inspiration of these feel-
ings, she composed a poem, entitled " England and
Spain," which was published and afterwards trans-
lated into Spanish. This cannot but be considered as
a very remarkable production for a girl of fourteen ;
ofty sentiments, correctness of language, and histori-
cal knowledge, being all strikingly displayed in it.
The very time when her mind was wrought up to
this pitch of romantic enthusiasm, was that which
first brought to her acquaintance the person who was
destined to exercise so important an influence over
her future life. Captain Hemans, then in the 4th, or
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 39
King's Own Regiment, whilst on a visit in the neigh-
bourhood, was introduced to the family at Gwrych,
The young poetess was then only fifteen ; in the full
glow of that radiant beauty which was destined to
fade so early. The mantling bloom of her cheeks
was shaded by a profusion of natural ringlets, of a
rich golden brown; and the ever-varying expression
of her brilliant eyes gave a changeful play to her
countenance, which would have made it impossible
for any painter to do justice to it. The recollection
of what she was at that time, irresistibly suggests a
quotation from Wordsworth's graceful poetic pic-
*' She was a phantom of delight,
When first she gleamed upon m)r sight ;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament.
A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay."
That so fair a being should excite the warmest
admiration, was not surprising. Perhaps it was not
more so, that the impassioned expression of that ad-
miration should awaken reciprocal feelings in the
bosom of a young, artless, and enthusiastic girl, readily
investing him who professed such devotion, (and who,
indeed, was by no means destitute of advantages
either of person or education,) with all the attributes
of the heroes of her dreams. Their intercourse at
this time was not of long continuance ; for Captain
Hemans was called upon to embark with his regiment
for Spain ; and this circumstance was in itself uf*
40 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
ficient to complete the illusion which had now gained
possession of her heart. It was hoped by the friends
of both parties, that the impressions thus formed might
prove but a passing fancy, which time and distance
would efface ; but the event proved otherwise, though
nearly three years elapsed before they met again.
In 1809, the family removed from Gwrych to Bron-
wylfa, near St. Asaph, 1 in Flintshire. Here, though
in somewhat less of seclusion than during the previous
years of her life, her mind continued to develope itself,
and her tastes and pursuits to embrace a progressively
wider range. The study of the Spanish and Portu-
guese languages was added to the already acquired
French and Italian. She also read German, though
it was not until many years later that she entered
with full appreciation into the soul and spirit of that
magnificent language, and wrote of it as " having
opened to her a new world of thought and feeling, so
that even the music of the Eichenland, 2 as Korner
calls it, seemed to acquire a deeper tone, when she
had gained a familiarity with its noble poetry."
The powers of her memory were so extraordinary,
as to be sometimes made the subject of a wager, by
those who were sceptical as to the possibility of her
achieving, what she would, in the most undoubting
simplicity, undertake to perform. On one of these
occasions, to satisfy the incredulity of one of her
brothers, she learned by heart, having never read it
1 This place was purchased, some years afterwards, by Mrs.
Heman's eldest brother, Colonel Sir Henry Browne.
a Land of Oaks.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 41
before, the whole of Heber's poem of " Europe" in
one hour and twenty minutes, and repeated it with-
out a single mistake or a moment's hesitation. The
length of this poem is four hundred and twenty-four
She had a taste for drawing, which, with time and
opportunity for its cultivation, would, doubtless, have
led to excellence ; but having so many other pursuits
requiring her attention, she seldom attempted any-
thing beyond slight sketches in pencil or Indian ink.
Her correctness of eye, and the length and clearness
of her vision, were almost as proverbial amongst her
friends as her extraordinary powers of memory. She
played both the harp and piano with much feeling
and expression, and at this time had a good voice,
but in a very few years it became weakened by the
frequent recurrence of affections of the chest, and
singing was consequently discontinued. Even in her
most joyous days, the strains she preferred were
always those of a pensive character. The most skil-
ful combinations of abstract musical science did not
interest or please her : what she loved best were
national airs, whether martial or melancholy, (amongst
these the Welsh and Spanish were her favourites),
and whatever might be called suggestive music, as
awakening associations either traditional, local, or
imaginary. There are ears in which certain melodies
are completely identified with the recollection of her
peculiarly soft and sostenuto touch, which gave to the
piano an effect almost approaching to the swell of an
organ. Amongst these may be mentioned Jomelli's
Chaconne, Oginsky's well-known Polonaise, some of
42 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
the slow movements from the Ballet of Nina, and a
little touching air called the Moravian Nun, brought
from Germany by her eldest brother, who had learned
it by ear.
In after life, when, like " a reed shaken by the
wind," her frame had been shattered by sorrow and
suffering, the intensity of her perceptions was such,
that music became a painful excitement, and there
were times when her nerves were too much over-
wrought to bear it. Allusions to this state of feeling
are found in many of her poems ; and in one of her
letters, referring to a work of Richter's, she thus
expresses herself: " What a deep echo gives answer
within the mind to the exclamation of the ' immortal
old man' at the sound of music. 1 * Away ! away!
1 " Once in dreams, I saw a human being of heavenly intellec-
tual faculties, and his aspirations were heavenly; but he was
chained, methought, eternally to the earth. The immortdl old
man had five great wounds in his happiness five worms that
gnawed for ever at his heart. He was unhappy in spring-time,
because that is a season of hope, and rich with phantoms of far
happier days than any which this Aceldama of earth can rea-
lize. He was unhappy at the sound of music, which dilates the
heart of man with its whole capacity for the infinite; and he
cried aloud, * Away ! away ! Thou speakest of things which,
throughout my endless life, I have found not, and shall not
find !' He was unhappy at the remembrance of earthly affec-
tions and dissevered hearts ; for Love is a plant which may bud
in this life, but must flourish in another. He was unhappy
under the glorious spectacle of the heavenly host, and ejacu-
lated for ever in his heart * So, then, I am parted from you to
all eternity by an impassable abyss ! the great universe of suns
is above, below, and round about me, but I am chained to a little
ball of dust and ashes !' He was unhappy before the great ideas
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 43
thou speakest of things which, throughout my endless
life, I have found not, and shall not find ! ' All who
have felt music, must, at times, I think, have felt this,
making its sweetness too piercing to be sustained.
Some of the happiest days the young poetess ever
passed were during occasional visits to some friends at
Conway, where the charms of the scenery, combining
all that is most beautiful in wood, water, and ruin,
are sufficient to inspire the most prosaic tempera-
ment with a certain degree of enthusiasm ; and it
may therefore well be supposed, how fervently a soul,
constituted like hers, would worship Nature at so
fitting a shrine. With that happy versatility, which
was at all times a leading characteristic of her mind,
she would now enter with child-like playfulness into
the enjoyments of a mountain scramble, or a pic-nic
water party, the gayest of the merry band, of whom
some are now, like herself, laid low, some far away in
foreign lands, some changed by sorrow, and all by
time ; and then, in graver mood, dream away hours
of pensive contemplation amidst the grey ruins of that
noblest of Welsh castles, standing, as it then did, in
solitary grandeur, unapproached by bridge or cause-
way, flinging its broad shadow across the tributary
waves which washed its regal walls. These lovely
scenes never ceased to retain their hold over the
imagination of her whose youthful muse had so often
of virtue, of truth, and of God ; because he knew how feeble are
the approximations to them which a son of earth can make. But
this was a dream. God be thanked that there is no such asking
eye directed upwards towards heaven, to which Death will not
one day bring an answer !" From the German of Richler.
14 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
celebrated their praises. Her peculiar admiration of
Mrs. Joanna Baillie's play of Ethwald was always
pleasingly associated with the recollection of her
having first read it amidst the ruins of Con way Castle.
At Conway, too, she first made acquaintance with the
lively and graphic Chronicles of the chivalrous Frois-
sart, whose inspiring pages never lost their place in
her favour. Her own little poem, " The Ruin and its
Flowers," which will be found amongst the earlier
pieces in the present collection, was written on an
excursion to the old fortress of Dyganwy, the remains
of which are situated on a bold promontory near the
entrance of the river Conway ; and whose ivied walls,
now fast mouldering into oblivion, once bore their part
bravely in the defence of Wales; and are further
endeared to the lovers of song and tradition, as having
echoed the complaints of the captive Elphin, and
resounded to the harp of Taliesin. A scarcely degene-
rate representative of that gifted bard 1 had, at the
time now alluded to, his appropriate dwelling-place at
Conway ; but his strains have long been silenced, and
1 Mr. Edwards, the Harper of Conway, as he was generally
called, had been blind from his birth, and was endowed with
that extraordinary musical genius, by which persons suffering
under such a visitation, are not unfrequently indemnified. From
the respectability of his circumstances, he was not called upon to
exercise his talents with any view to remuneration. He played
to delight himself and others ; and the innocent complacency
with which he enjoyed the ecstasies called forth by his skill,
and the degree of appreciation with which he regarded himself,
as in a manner consecrated, by being made the depositary of a
direct gift from Heaven, were, as far as possible, removed from
any of the common modifications of vanity or self-conceit
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 45
there now remain few, indeed, on whom the Druidical
mantle has fallen so worthily. In the days when his
playing was heard by one so fitted to enjoy its origi-
nality and beauty,
"The minstrel was infirm and old;"
but his inspiration had not yet forsaken him; and
the following lines (written in 1811) will give an
idea of the magic power he still knew how to exer-
cise over the feelings of his auditors.
TO MR. EDWARDS, THE HARPER OF CONWAY.
Minstrel ! whose gifted hand can bring,
Life, rapture, soul, from every string;
And wake, like bards of former time,
The spirit of the harp sublime ;
Oh ! still prolong the varying strain !
Oh ! touch th' enchanted chords again !
Thine is the charm, suspending care,
The heavenly swell, the dying close,
The cadence melting into air,
That lulls each passion to repose.
While transport, lost in silence near,
Breathes all her language in a tear.
Exult, O Cambria! now no more,
With sighs thy slaughtered bards deplore:
What though Plinlimmon's misty brow,
And Mona's woods be silent now,
Yet can thy Conway boast a strain,
Unrivall'd in thy proudest reign.
For Genius, with divine control,
Wakes the bold chord neglected long,
And pours Expression's glowing soul
O'er the wild Harp, renown'd in song:
46 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
And Inspiration, hovering round,
Swells the full energies of sound.
Now Grandeur, pealing in the tone,
Could rouse the warrior's kindling fire,
And now, 'tis like the breeze's moan,
That murmurs o'er th' Eolian lyre:
As if some sylph, with viewless wing,
Were sighing o'er the magic string.
Long, long, fair Conway! boast the skill,
That soothes, inspires, commands, at will !
And oh! while Rapture hails the lay,
Far distant be the closing day,
When Genius, Taste, again shall weep,
And Cambria's Harp lie hush'd in sleep !
Whilst on the subject of Conway, it may not be
amiss to introduce two little pieces of a very different
character from the foregoing, which were written at
the same place, three or four years afterwards, and
will serve as a proof of that versatility of talent
before alluded to. As may easily be supposed, they
were never intended for publication, but were merely
a jeu d' esprit of the moment, in good-humoured raillery
of the indefatigable zeal and perseverance of one of
the party in his geological researches :
EPITAPH ON MR. W , A CELEBRATED MINERALOGIST.
Stop, passenger! a wondrous tale to list
Here lies a famous Mineralogist.
Famous indeed ! such traces of his power,
He's left from Penmaenbach to Penmaenmawr,
Such caves, and chasms, and fissures in the rocks,
His works resemble those of earthquake shocks ;
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 47
And future ages very much may wonder
What mighty giant rent the hills asunder,
Or whether Lucifer himself had ne'er
Gone with his crew to play at foot-ball there.
His fossils, flints, and spars, of every hue,
With him, good reader, here lie buried too
Sweet specimens ! which, toiling to obtain,
He split huge cliifs, like so much wood, in twain.
We knew, so great the fuss he made about them,
Alive or dead, he ne'er would rest without them,
So, to secure soft slumber to his bones,
We paved his grave with all his favourite stones.
His much-loved hammer's resting by his side ;
Each hand contains a shell-fish petrified :
His mouth a piece of pudding-stone incloses,
And at his feet a lump of coal reposes :
Sure he was born beneath some lucky planet
His very coffin-plate is made of granite.
Weep not, good reader! he is truly blest
Amidst chalcedony and quartz to rest:
Weep not for him ! but envied be his doom,
Whose tomb, though small, for all he loved had room :
And, O ye rocks ! schist, gneiss, whate'er ye be,
Ye varied strata ! names too hard for me i
Sing, " Oh, be joyful !" for your direst foe,
By death's fell hammer, is at length laid low.
Ne'er on your spoils again shall W riot,
Clear up your cloudy brows, and rest in quiet
He sleeps no longer planning hostile actions,
As cold as any of his petrifactions ;
Enshrined in specimens of every hue,
Too tranquil e'en to dream, ye rocks, of you.
48 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
EPITAPH ON THE HAMMER OF THE AFORESAID MINERALOGIST.
Here in the dust, its strange adventures o'er,
A hammer rests, that ne'er knew rest before.
Released from toil, it slumbers by the side
Of one who oft its temper sorely tried ;
No day e'er pass'd, but in some desperate strife
He risk'd the faithful hammer's limbs and life;
Now laying siege to some old limestone wall,
Some rock now battering, proof to cannon-ball ;
Now scaling heights like Alps or Pyrenees,
Perhaps a flint, perhaps a slate to seize;
But, if a piece of copper met his eyes,
He'd mount a precipice that touch'd the skies,
And bring down lumps so precious, and so many,
I'm sure they almost would have made a penny !
Think, when such deeds as these were daily done,
What fearful risks this hammer must have run.
And, to say truth, its praise deserves to shine
In lays more lofty and more famed than mine :
Oh! that in strains which ne'er should be forgot,
Its deeds were blazon'd forth by Walter Scott !
Then should its name with his be closely link'd,
And live till every mineral were extinct.
Rise, epic bards! be yours the ample field
Bid W 's hammer match Achilles' shield:
As for my muse, the chaos of her brain,
I search for specimens of wit in vain ;
Then let me cease ignoble rhymes to stammer,
And seek some theme less arduous than the hammer;
Rememb'ring well, " what perils do environ"
Woman or "man that meddles with cold iron."
About this time, also, she wrote, for her second
brother, the following Prologue to the Poor Gentle-
man, as intended to be performed by the officers of
the 34th regiment at Clonmel :
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 49
Enter Captain GEORGE BROWNE, in the character of
To-night, kind friends, at your tribunal here,
Stands "The Poor Gentleman," with many a fear;
Since well he knows, who e'er may judge his cause,
That Poverty's no title to applause.
Genius or Wit, pray, who'll admire or quote,
If all their drapery be a threadbare coat 1 ?
Who, in a world where all is bought and sold,
Minds a man's worth except his worth in gold]
Who'll greet poor Merit if she lacks a dinner?
Hence, starving saint, but welcome, wealthy sinner !
Away with Poverty ! let none receive her,
She bears contagion as a plague or fever;
" Bony, and gaunt, and grim" like jaundiced eyes,
Discolouring all within her sphere that lies.
"Poor Gentleman!" and by poor soldiers, too!
O matchless impudence ! without a sous !
In scenes, in actors poor, and what far worse is,
With heads, perhaps, as empty as their purses,
How shall they dare at such a bar appear 1 ?
What are their tactics and manoeuvres here?
While thoughts like these come rushing o'er our mind,
Oh! may we still indulgence hope to find?
Brave sons of Erin ! whose distinguish'd name
Shines with such brilliance in the page of Fame,
And you, fair daughters of the Emerald Isle!"
View our weak efforts with approving smile !
School'd in rough camps, and still disdaining art,
111 can the soldier act a borrowed part;
The march, the skirmish, in this warlike age,
Are his rehearsals, and the field his stage;
His theatre is found in every land,
Where wave the ensigns of a hostile band :
Place him in danger's front he recks not where
Be your own Wellington his prompter thgre,
VOL. I. 5
50 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
And on that stage, he trusts, with fearful mien,
He'll act his part in glory's tragic scene.
Yet here, though friends are gaily marshall'd round,
And from bright eyes alone he dreads a wound,
Here, though in ambush no sharpshooter's wile
Aims at his breast, save hid in beauty's smile;
Though all unused to pause, to doubt, to fear,
Yet his heart sinks, his courage fails him here.
No scenic pomp to him its aid supplies,
No stage effect of glittering pageantries :
No, to your kindness he must look alone,
To realize the hope he dares not own;
And trusts, since here he meets no cynic eye,
His wish to please may claim indemnity.
And why despair, indulgence when we crave
From Erin's sons, the generous and the brave?
Theirs the high spirit, and the liberal thought,
Kind, warm, sincere, with native candour fraught;
Still has the stranger, in their social isle,
Met the frank welcome and the cordial smile,
And well their hearts can share, though unexpress'd,
Each thought, each feeling, of the soldier's breast.
In 1812, another and much smaller volume, entitled
The Domestic Affections and other Poems, was given
to the world the last that was to appear with the
name of -Felicia Browne ; for, in the summer of the
same year, its author exchanged that appellation for
the one under which she has become so much more
generally known. Captain Hemans had returned to
Wales in the preceding year, when the acquaintance
was renewed which had begun so long before at
Gwrych ; and as the sentiments then mutually awaken-
ed continued unaltered, no further opposition was
made to a union, on which (however little in accord-
MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS. 51
ance with the dictates of worldly prudence,) the hap-
piness of both parties seemed so entirely to depend.
They soon afterwards took up their residence at
Daventry, Captain Hemans having been appointed
Adjutant to the Northamptonshire Local Militia. Here
they remained for about a twelvemonth, during which
time their eldest son, Arthur, 1 was born. The tran-
sition from her " own mountain land," as she would
fondly call it, to a country so tame and uninteresting
as the neighbourhood of Daventry, was felt by Mrs.
Hemans to a degree almost amounting to the heimweh
(home sickness) of the Swiss. The only scenery
within reach of her new abode, which excited any
pleasing associations, was that of Fawsley Park, of
which the woods and lawns, the old Hall, with its
quaint gables and twisted chimneys, and the vener-
able, ivy-mantled church always retained a place in
her " chambers of imagery," as presenting a happy
combination of the characteristic features of an old
English ancestral demesne. Her sonnet " On an
old Church in an English Park," published in the
Scenes and Hymns of Life, though written so many
years after, was suggested by the recollection of this
scenery, of which she had made several sketches.
The unexpected reduction of the corps dissolving
their connexion with a place to which they had no
other ties, Captain Hemans and his family returned
to Wales in the following year, and became domi-
ciliated at Bronwylfa ; from which time, till the death
1 This child of many hopes, the first to awaken a mother's
love, has been the first to rejoin her in the world beyond the
grave. He died at Rome, in February, 1837.
52 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
of her mother, Mrs. Hemans was never again with-
drawn from the shelter of the maternal wing. 1 Early
and deeply was she taught to appreciate the blessing
of that shelter the value of that truest and tenderest
friend, " the mother," to use her own words, " by
whose unwearied spirit of love and hope she was
encouraged to bear on through all the obstacles which
beset her path."
For several succeeding years, the life of Mrs. He-
mans continued to be a scene of almost uninterrupted
domestic privacy, her time being divided between the
cultivation of her wonted studies, and the claims of an
increasing family. Her five children were all sons
a circumstance which many persons profess to have
discovered from her writings, in which allusions to a
mother's love are so frequent, and where the " blessed
child," so often apostrophised or described, is always,
it may be observed, a " gentle" or a " gallant" or a
"bright-haired" boy, whose living image might be
found in the blooming group around her. Her eager-
ness for knowledge of every kind was intense ; and
her industry may be attested by volumes, still existing,
of extracts and transcriptions, almost sufficient to form
a library in themselves. The mode of her studies
was, to outward appearance, singularly desultory, as
she would be surrounded by books of all sizes, in
divers languages, and on every variety of topic, and
would seem to be turning from one to another, like
a bee flying from flower to flower : yet, whatever
1 Her father had, some time before, again engaged in mercan
tile pursuits, and gone out to Quebec, where he died.
MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS. 53
confusion might reign without, all was clear and
well-defined within. In her mind and memory, the
varied stores were distinctly arranged, ready to be
called forth for the happy illustration, the poetic
imagery, or the witty comparison. She continued the
study of languages with undiminished ardour, and
made some progress in the acquisition of Latin. A
volume of translations published in 1818, might have
been called by anticipation, " Lays of many Lands."
At the time now alluded to, her inspirations were
chiefly derived from classical subjects. The " graceful
superstitions" of Greece, and the sublime patriotism
of Rome, held an influence over her thoughts which
is evinced by many of the works of this period such
as, The Restoration of the Works of Art to Italy, 1
Modern Greece, and several of the poems which
formed the volume entitled Tales and Historic Scenes.
At this stage of transition, "her poetry," to use
the words of a judicious critique, 2 " was correct, clas-
sical, and highly polished ; but it wanted warmth : it
partook more of the nature of statuary than of paint-
ing. She fettered her mind with facts and authorities,
and drew upon her memory when she might have
1 This poem is thus alluded to by Lord Byron, in one of his
published letters to Mr. Murray, dated from Diodati, Sept. 30th,
" Italy or Dalmatia and another summer may, or may not, set
me off again.
" I shall take Felicia Hemans's Restoration, &c., with me it
is a good poem very."
2 Written by the late Miss Jewsbury (afterwards Mrs. Fletch-
er), and published in the Athenceum of Feb. 12th, 1831.
54 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
relied upon her imagination. She was diffident of
herself, and, to quote her own admission, " loved to
repose under the shadow of mighty names." This
taste by degrees gave way to one which suggested a
choice of subjects more nearly allied to the thoughts
and feelings of daily life. She turned from the fables
" Distinct, but distant clear, but oh ! how cold I"
to the more heart-warming traditions of the middle
ages ; imbuing every theme with the peculiar colour-
ing of her own mind her instinctive sense of the
picturesque, and her intense love of the beautiful.
Her poetry of this class is so eloquently characterised
by the able writer of the article already referred to,
in the Dublin University Magazine, that in no other
language can it be more truly and gracefully described.
" Tender and enthusiastic, she fed her heart upon all
things noble, and would tolerate no others as the
aliment of imagination. She created for herself a
world of high-souled men and women, whose love had
no outward glitter, no surface-sparkle, but was a deep,
overmastering stream, strong, steady, and unbroken.
The men were made to hold high feast on days of
victory to lead the resolute chivalry of freedom to
consecrate banners in ancient churches, solemnized
with rich evening light to scale the walls of cities or
defend them to strike with courage to endure with
fortitude. The women to sing hymns of pensive wor-
ship to sit in antique bowers, with open missals and
attendant maidens to receive at castle gates the true-
hearted and the brave to rush amid the spears, and
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 55
receive the wound meant for a sterner heart to clasp
the infant snatched from peril at the peril of life to
bear uncomplaining agonies and, above all, to wait
long, long days for the deceiver who will not return ;
to know the deadly sickness of a fading hope, and, at
last, to dedicate a broken heart to him who has
crushed it. These are the people and the achieve-
ments of her pages ; here is the fountain and principle
of her inspirations Honour deepened and sanctified
In the year 1818, Captain Hemans, whose health
had been long impaired by the previous vicissitudes
of a military life, determined upon trying the effects of
a southern climate ; and, with this view, repaired to
Rome, which he was afterwards induced to fix upon
as his place of residence. It has been alleged, and with
perfect truth, that the literary pursuits of Mrs. Hemans
and the education of her children, made it more eligible
for her to remain under the maternal roof, than to ac-
company her husband to Italy. It is, however, unfor-
tunately but too well known, that such were not the
only reasons which led to this divided course. To
dwell on this subject would be unnecessarily painful,
yet it must be stated, that nothing like a permanent
separation was contemplated at the time, nor did it
ever amount to more than a tacit conventional ar-
rangement, which offered no obstacle to the frequent
interchange of correspondence, nor to a constant re-
ference to their father in all things relating to the
disposal of her boys. But years rolled on seventeen
years of absence, and consequently alienation and
from this time to the hour of her death, Mrs. Hemans
56 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
and her husband never met again. In a position so
painful, as must ever be that of a woman for whom
the most sacred of ties is thus virtually broken, all
outward consolations can be but of secondary value
yet much of what these could afford was granted to
Mrs.Hemans in the extending influence of her talents,
the growing popularity of her writings, and the warm
interest and attachment of many private friends.
Amongst the most devoted of these from an early
period of their acquaintance, were the family of the
late Bishop of St. Asaph, the good and lamented Dr.
Luxmore. In this kind-hearted prelate, Mrs. Hemans
possessed a never-failing friend and counsellor, whose
advice, in the absence of nearer ties, she at all times
sought with affectionate reliance, and whose approba-
tion she valued with appreciating respect. His pater-
nal kindness was not confined to herself, but extended
with equal indulgence to her children, who were so
accustomed to the interest he would take in their
studies and sports, that they seemed to consider them-
selves as having an inherent right to his notice and
favour ; and would talk of " their own Bishop" in an
amusing tone of appropriation. Many years after-
wards, in a letter from Chiefswood, their mother thus
alludes to the recollection of former days : " I have
been much at Abbotsford, where my boys run in and
out as if they were children of the soil, or as if it
were < The Palace.'"
The poem of The Sceptic, published in 1820, was
one in which her revered friend took a peculiar
interest. It had been her original wish to dedicate
it to him, bu-t he declined the tribute, thinking H
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 57
might be more advantageous to her to pay this com-
pliment to Mr. Giflbrd, with whom she was at that
time in frequent correspondence, and who entered very
warmly into her literary undertakings, discussing them
with the kindness of an old friend, and desiring her to
command frankly whatever assistance his advice or
experience could afford. Mrs. Hemans, in the first
instance, consented to adopt the suggestion regarding
the altered dedication ; but was afterwards deterred
from putting it into execution, by a fear that it might
be construed into a manoeuvre to propitiate the good
graces of the Quarterly Review; and from the slight-
est approach to any such mode of propitiation, hei
sensitive nature recoiled with almost fastidious deli
cacy. Shortly before the publication of The Sceptic,
her prize poem, The Meeting of Wallace and Bruce
on the Banks of the Carron, had appeared in Black
wood's Magazine 1 for September, 1819. A patriotic
individual having signified his intention of giving
1000 towards the erection of a monument to Sir
William Wallace, and a prize of 50 for the best
poem on the subject above alluded to, Mrs. Hemans
was recommended by a zealous friend in Edinburgh,
to enter the lists as a competitor, which she accord-
ingly did, though without being in the slightest degree
sanguine of success ; so that the news of the prize
having been decreed to her was no less unexpected
than gratifying. The number of candidates for this
distinction w r as so overwhelming, as to cause not a
1 The stanzas on the " Death of the Princess Charlotte," had
been published in the same periodical in April 1818.
58 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
little embarrassment to the judges appointed to decide
on their merits. A letter, written at the time, de-
scribes them as being reduced to absolute despair by
the contemplation of the task which awaited them;
having to read over a mass of poetry that would
require at least a month to wade through. Some of
the contributions were from the strangest aspirants
imaginable ; and one of them is mentioned as being as
long as Paradise Lost. At length, however, the Her-
culean labour was accomplished ; and the honour
awarded to Mrs. Hemans on this occasion, seemed an
earnest of the warm kindness and encouragement she
was ever afterwards to receive at the hands of the
Scottish public. One of the earliest notices of The
Sceptic appeared in the Edinburgh Monthly Maga-
zine ; and there is something in its tone so far more
valuable than ordinary praise, and at the same time
so prophetic of the happy influence her writings were
one day to exercise, that the introduction of the con-
cluding paragraph may not be unwelcome to the
readers of this little memorial. After quoting from
the poem, the reviewer thus proceeds : " These
extracts must, we think, convey to every reader a
favourable impression of the talents of their author,
and of the admirable purposes to which her high gifts
are directed. It is the great defect, as we imagine,
of some of the most popular writers of the day, that
they are not sufficiently attentive to the moral dignity
of their performances ; it is the deep, and will be the
lasting reproach of others, that in this point of view
they have wantonly sought and realised the most pro-
found literary abasement. With the promise of talents
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 59
not inferior to any, and far superior to most of them,
the author before us is not only free from every stain,
but breathes all moral beauty and loveliness; and it
will be a memorable coincidence if the era of a
woman's sway in literature shall become co-eval with
the return of its moral purity and elevation." 1 From
suffrages such as these, Mrs. Hemans derived not
merely present gratification, but encouragement and
cheer for her onward course. It was still dearer to
her to receive the assurances, with which it often
fell to her lot to be blessed, of having, in the exer-
cise of the talents intrusted to her, administered balm
to the feelings of the sorrowful, or taught the despond-
ing where to look for comfort. In a letter written at
this time to a valued friend, recently visited by one of
the heaviest of human calamities the loss of an ex-
emplary mother she thus describes her own appre-
ciation of such heart-tributes. " It is inexpressibly
gratifying to me to know, that you should find anything
I have written at all adapted to } r our present feelings,
and that The Sceptic should have been one of the last
1 " It is pleasing to record the following tribute from Mrs.
Hannah More, in a letter to a friend who had sent her a copy
of The Sceptic. *I cannot refuse myself the gratification of
saying, that I entertain a very high opinion of Mrs. Hemans's
superior genius and refined taste. I rank her, as a poet, very
high, and I have seen no work on the subject of her Modern
Greece^ which evinces more just views, or more delicate per-
ceptions of the fine and the beautiful. I am glad she has em-
ployed her powerful pen, in this new instance, on a subject so
worthy of it ; and anticipating the future by the past, I promise
myself no small pleasure in the perusal, and trust it will not
only confer pleasure, but benefit. 1 "
60 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
books upon which the eyes, now opened upon brighter
scenes, were cast. Perhaps, when your mind is suffi-
ciently composed, you will inform me which were the
passages distinguished by the approbation of that pure
and pious mind : they will be far more highly valued
by me than anything I have ever written."
The sentiments expressed in the same letter on the
subject of Affliction, its design and influence, are so
completely a part of herself, that it would seem an
omission to withhold them. They are embodied in
the following words: "Your ideas respecting the
nature and degree of sorrow for the departed, per-
mitted us by that religion which seems to speak with
the immediate voice of Heaven to affliction, coincide
perfectly with my own. I have been hitherto spared
a trial of this nature, but I have often passed hours
in picturing to myself what would be the state of my
mind under such a visitation. I am convinced, that
though grief becomes criminal when it withdraws us
from the active duties of life, yet that the wounds
made by " the arrows of the Almighty" are not meant
to be forgotten. If He who chastens those whom He
loves, means, as we cannot doubt, by such inflictions
to recall the Spirit to Himself, and prepare the mortal
for immortality, the endeavour to obliterate such re
collections is surely not less in opposition to His inten-
tions, than the indulgence of that rebellious grief,
which repines as if its own sufferings were an excep-
tion to the general mercies of Heaven. Life is but
too dear to us, even \vith all its precarious joys and
heavy calamities; and constituted even as it is, we
can hardly keep our minds fixed upon a brighter state
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 61
with any degree of steadiness. What would it, then,
be, if we were not continually reminded that " our all
does not lie here ;" and if the loss of some beloved
friend did not constantly summon our wandering
thoughts from the present to the future ? I was so
struck, a few days ago, with the concluding passage
in the Memoirs of Mrs. Brunton, that I will not apolo-
gize for transcribing part of it, as I am sure you will
feel its beautiful and affecting coincidence. It is from
a Funeral Sermon on the Death of the Righteous :
" Let me exhort you, as you would rise superior to
the fear of death, to cherish the memory of those
who have already passed from the society of the few
who were most dear to them on earth, to the society
of the blessed in Heaven. How unnatural seems to
be the conduct of many, whose consolation for the loss
of a departed friend, appears to depend upon com-
mitting his name to oblivion ! who appear to shrink
from every object that would for a moment bring to
their recollection the delight they once felt in his
society ! If such conduct be, in any respect, excu-
sable, it can only be in the case of those who have no
hope in God. There are few, if any, among us, who
have not, ere now, committed to the tomb the remains
of some who had been, not only long, but deservedly
dear to us ; whose virtues are in consequence a satis-
fying pledge, that they have only gone before us to
the mansions of bliss. Some of us have but recently
laid in the grave all that was mortal and perishing,
of one who may well continue to live in our remem-
brance whose memory will be a monitor to us of
those virtues, which may qualify us for being re-uni-
VOL. I. 6
62 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
ted to her society. Though the body mingle with the
dust, the spirit, in this case, ' yet spcaketh ;' it invites,
and, I trust, enables us to anticipate more effectually
on earth our intercourse with the spirits of the just
in heaven. Great cause we, no doubt, have to mourn
over that dispensation of Providence, which has, in
the mean while, removed from the sphere of our con-
verse on earth, one, from whose converse we had so
invariably derived at once instruction and delight;
whose piety was so genuine, that, while never osten-
tatiously displayed, it was, as little, in any case dis-
guised, whose mental energies communicated such a
character and effect to both her piety and her active
beneficence, that they often served the purpose of an
example to others, when such a purpose was not con-
templated by her. Not to mourn over a dispensation
of Providence, which has deprived us of such a bless-
ing, would be incompatible with the design of Provi-
dence in visiting us with such a cause of affliction.
But God forbid that we should sorrow as those who
have no hope of being re-united in heaven to those
who have been dear to them on earth ! God forbid
that we should be unwilling in our hearts to conform
to the design of Providence, when, by removing from
us those who have been the objects of our regard in
this world, it would, in some sense, unite earth to
heaven, by gradually weaning us from the world, and
gradually transferring our hearts to heaven, before we
have altogether completed the appointed years of our
pilgrimage on earth ! Let a view of our condition, as
the heirs of heaven, so elevate our minds, as to make
us now join, with one heart, in the language of our
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 63
Christian triumph <O death! where is thy sting?
grave ! where is thy victory V '
In a subsequent letter to the same friend, and in
pursuance of the same subject, there is the following
allusion to a poem, which Mrs. Hemans had even
then begun to appreciate, though her more perfect
and " reverential communion" with the spirit of its
author was reserved for later years. " You may
remember that I was reading Wordsworth's Excur-
sion some time before you left the country. I was
much struck with the beauty and sublimity of some
of the religious passages it contains; and in looking
over the copious extracts I made from it, I observe
several, which I think will interest you exceedingly.
1 mean to copy them out, and send them to you in a
few days: the mingled strain of exalted hope and
Christian resignation, in which the poet speaks of de-
parted friends, struck me so forcibly, that I thought
when I transcribed it, how soothingly it would speak
to the heart of any one who had to deplore the loss
of some beloved object."
In the spring of 1820, Mrs. Hemans first made the
acquaintance of one who became afterwards a zeal-
ous and valuable friend, revered in life, and sincerely
mourned in death Bishop Heber, then Rector of
Hodnet, and a frequent visiter at Bodryddan, the resi-
dence of his father-in-law, the late Dean of St. Asaph,
from whom also, during an intercourse of many years,
Mrs. Hemans at all times received much kindness and
courtesy. Mr. Reginald Heber was the first eminent
literary character with whom she had ever familiarly
associated ; and she therefore entered with a peculiar
04 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
freshness of feeling into the delight inspired by his
conversational powers, enhanced as they were by that
gentle benignity of manner, so often the characteristic
of minds of the very highest order. In a letter to a
friend on this occasion, she thus describes her enjoy-
ment : " I am more delighted with Mr. Heber than I
can possibly tell you ; his conversation is quite rich
with anecdote, and every subject on which he speaks
had been, you would imagine, the sole study of his
life. In short, his society has made much the same
sort of impression on my mind, that the first perusal
of Ivankoe did ; and was something so perfectly new
to me, that I can hardly talk of anything else. I had
a very long conversation with him on the subject of
the poem, which he read aloud, and commented upon
as he proceeded. His manner was so entirely that of
a friend, that I felt perfectly at ease, and did not hesi-
tate to express all my own ideas and opinions on the
subject, even where they did not exactly coincide
with his own,"
The poem here alluded to was the one entitled
Superstition and Revelation, which Mrs, Hemans had
commenced some time before, and which was intended
to embrace a very extensive range of subject. Her
original design will be best given in her own words,
from a letter to her friend Miss Park : " I have been
thinking a good deal of the plan we discussed together,
of a poem on national superstitions. ' Our thoughts
are linked by many a hidden chain ;' and in the course
of my lucubrations on this subject, an idea occurred
to me, which I hope you will not think me too pre-
sumptuous in wishing to realize. Might not a poem
MEMOIR OF MRS. IIEMANS. G5
of some extent and importance, if the execution were
at all equal to the design, be produced, from contrast-
ing the spirit and tenets of Paganism with those of
Christianity ? It would contain, of course, much clas-
sical allusion; and all the graceful and sportive fictions
of ancient Greece and Italy, as well as the supersti-
tions of more barbarous climes, might be introduced
to prove how little consolation they could convey in
the hour of affliction, or hope, in that of death. Many
scenes from history might be portrayed in illustration
of this idea ; and the certainty of a future state, and
of the immortality of the soul, which we derive from
revelation, are surely subjects for poetry of the highest
class. Descriptions of those regions which are still
strangers to the blessings of our religion, such as the
greatest part of Africa, India, &c., might contain
much that is poetical ; but the subject is almost bound-
less, and I think of it till I am startled by its magni-
Mr. Heber approved highly of the plan of the work,
and gave her every encouragement to proceed in it ;
supplying her with many admirable suggestions, both
as to the illustrations which might be introduced with
the happiest effect, and the sources from whence the
requisite information would best be derived. But the
great labour and research necessary to the develop-
ment of a plan which included the superstitions of
every age and country, from the earliest of all idol-
atries the adoration of the sun, moon, and host of
heaven, alluded to in the book of Job to the still
existing rites of the Hindoos would have demanded
a course of study too engrossing to be compatible with
6G MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
the many other claims, both domestic and literary
which daily pressed more and more upon the author's
time. The work was, therefore, laid aside ; and the
fragment now first published, is all that remains of it,
though the project was never distinctly abandoned.
About this time, Mrs. Hemans was an occasional con-
tributor to the Edinburgh Monthly Magazine, then
conducted by the Rev. Robert Morehead, whose liberal
courtesy in the exercise of his editorial office, asso-
ciated many agreeable recollections with the period
of this literary intercourse. Several of her poems
appeared in the above-mentioned periodical, as also a
series of papers on foreign literature, which, with very
few exceptions, were the only prose compositions she
ever gave to the world ; and, indeed, to these papers
such a distinctive appellation is perhaps scarcely appli-
cable ; as the prose writing may be considered subor-
dinate to the poetical translations, which it is used to
introduce. Much has been said of the retirement in
which this part of Mrs. Hemans's life was passed ; but
perhaps the best idea of it may be formed from her
own words, in a letter written in October 1820, during
a visit she was paying to a happy home circle, at
Waver tree Lodge, near Liverpool, the family of the
late Henry Park, Esq,, whose life of unwearied be-
nevolence and scientific distinction, was then, like the
rgolden sunset of a long bright day, calmly drawing
towards its close, in the fullest enjoyment of
"That which should accompany old age,
As Honour, Love, Obedience, troops of friends ;"
amongst which friends none were more favoured or
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 67
more attached than Mrs. Hemans herself. " I cannot
tell you how much I have enjoyed the novelty of all
the objects around me. The pastoral seclusion and
tranquillity of the life I have led for the last seven or
eight years, had left my mind in that state of blissful
ignorance particularly calculated to render every new
impression an agreeable one ; and accordingly, gas-
lights, steam-boats, Mr. Kean, casts from the Elgin
marbles, and tropical plants in the Botanic Garden,
have all, in turn, been the objects of my wondering
admiration. I saw Kean in two characters, Richard
the Third, and Othello, and can truly say, I felt as if
I had never understood Shakspeare till then. I shall
never forget the sort of electric light which seemed to
flash across my mind from the bursts of power he dis-
played in several of my favourite passages."
It was either during the present, or a future visit
to the same friends, that the jeu d 'esprit was pro-
duced, which Mrs. Hemans used to call her " sheet
of forgeries" on the use of the word Barb. A gen-
tleman had requested her to furnish him with some
authorities from the old English writers, proving that
this term was in use as applied to a steed. She very
shortly supplied him with the following imitations,
which were written down almost impromptu: the
mystification succeeded perfectly, and was not dis-
covered until some time afterwards:
The warrior donn'd his well-worn garb,
And proudly waved his crest,
He mounted on his jet-black barb,
And put his lance in rest.
68 MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS.
Eftsoons the wight, withouten more delay,
Spurr'd his brown barb and rode full swiftly on his way.
Hark ! was it not the trumpet's voice I heard 1
The soul of battle is awake within me!
The fate of ages and of empires hangs
On this dread hour. Why am I not in arms !
Bring my good lance, caparison my steed !
Base, idle grooms! are ye in league against me?
Haste with my barb, or by the holy saints,
Ye shall not live to saddle him to-morrow!
No sooner had the pearl-shedding fingers of the young Aurora
tremulously unlocked the oriental portals of the golden horizon,
than the graceful flower of chivalry, and the bright cynosure of
ladies' eyes he of the dazzling breast-plate and swanlike plume
sprang impatiently from the couch of slumber, and eagerly
mounted the noble barb presented to him by the Emperor of
SIR PHILIP SIDNEY'S Arcadia.
See'st thou yon chief whose presence seems to rule
The storm of battle 1 Lo ! where'er he moves
Death follows. Carnage sits upon his crest
Fate on his sword is throned and his white barb,
As a proud courser of Apollo's chariot,
Seems breathing fire.
1 An amusing proof of the success of this imitation has re-
cently appeared, in the selection of the first four lines of this
passage for a motto to one of the chapters of Mr. Cooper's
" Homeward Bound," where they are given as a real quotation
MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS. 69
Oh ! bonnie look'd my ain true knight,
His barb so proudly reining ;
I watch'd him till my tearfu' sight
Grew amaist dim wi' straining.
Why, he can heel the lavolt and wind a fiery barb as well as
any gallant in Christendom. He's the very pink and mirror of
Fair star of beauty's heaven ! to call thee mine,
All other joys I joyously would yield ;
My knightly crest, my bounding barb resign,
For the poor shepherd's crook and daisied field ;
For courts, or camps, no wish my soul would prove,
So thou wouldst live with me and be my love!
EARL OF SURREY'S Poems.
For thy dear love my weary soul hath grown
Heedless of youthful sports : I seek no more
Or joyous dance, or music's thrilling tone,
Or joys that once could charm in minstrel lore,
Or knightly tilt where steel-clad champions meet,
Borne on impetuous barbs to bleed at beauty's feet.
As a warrior clad
In sable arms, like chaos dull and sad,
But mounted on a barb as white
As the fresh new-born light,
So the black night too soon
Came riding on the bright and silver moon,
Whose radiant heavenly ark,
Made all the clouds beyond her influence seem
E'en more than doubly dark,
Mourning, all widowed of her glorious beam.
70 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
Amongst the very few specimens that have been
preserved of Mrs. Hemans's livelier effusions, which
she never wrote with any other view than the mo-
mentary amusement of her own immediate circle, is
a letter addressed about this time to her sister, who
was then travelling in Italy. The following extracts
from this familiar epistle may serve to show her
facility in a style of composition which she latterly
entirely discontinued. The first part alludes to a
strange fancy produced by an attack of fever, the
description of which had given rise to many pleasant-
ries being an imaginary voyage to China, performed
in a cocoa-nut shell, with that eminent old English
worthy, John Evelyn:
Apropos of your illness, pray give, if you please,
Some account of the converse you held on High Seas,
With Evelyn, the excellent author of " Sylva,"
A work that is very much prized at Bronwylfa.
I think that old Neptune was visited ne'er
In so well-rigged a ship, by so well-matched a pair.
There could not have fallen, dear H., to your lot any
Companion more pleasant, since you're fond of Botany,
And his horticultural talents are known,
Just as well as Canova's for fashioning stone.
Of the vessel you sailed in, I just will remark,
That I ne'er heard before of so curious a bark.
Of Gondola, Coracle, Pirogue, Canoe,
I have read very often, as doubtless have you:
Of the Argo, conveying that hero, young Jason ;
Of the ship moored by Trajan in Nemi's deep basin;
Of the galley, (in Plutarch you'll find the description,)
Which bore along Cydnus the royal Egyptian ;
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 71
Of that wonderful frigate (see " Curse of Kehama,"
Which wafted fair Kailyal to regions of Brama,
And the venturous barks of Columbus and Gama.
But Columbus and Gama to you must resign a
Full half of their fame, since your voyage to China,
(I'm astonished no shocking disaster befel,)
In that swift-sailing first-rate a cocoa-nut shell !
I hope, my dear H., that you touched at Loo Choo, ^
That abode of a people so gentle and true,
Who with arms and with money have nothing to do. j
How calm must their lives be! so free from all fears,
Of running in debt, or of running on spears !
Oh dear! what an Eden! a land without money!
It excels e'en the region of milk and of honey,
Or the Vale of Cashmere, as described in a book,
Full of musk, gems and roses, and called " Lalla Rookh."
But of all the enjoyments you have, none would e'er be
More valued by me, than a chat with Acerbi,
Of whose travels, related in elegant phrases,
I have seen many extracts, and heard many praises,
And have copied (you know I let nothing escape),
His striking account of the frozen North Cape.
I think 'twas in his works I read long ago,
(I've not the best memory for dates, as you know),
Of a warehouse, where sugar and treacle were stored,
Which took fire (I suppose being made but of board)
In the icy domains of some rough northern hero,
Where the cold was some fifty degrees below zero.
Then from every burnt cask as the treacle ran out,
And in streams, just like lava, meandered about,
You may fancy the curious effect of the weather,
The frost, and the fire, and the treacle together.
When my first for a moment had hardened my last,
My second burst out, and all melted as fast;
To win their sweet prize long the rivals fought on,
But I quite forget which of the elements won.
72 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
But a truce with all joking I hope you'll excuse me,
Since I know you still love to instruct and amuse me,
For hastily putting a few questions down,
To which answers from you all my wishes will crown:
For you know I'm so fond of the land of Corinne,
That my thoughts are still dwelling its precincts within,
And I read all that authors, or gravely, or wittily,
Or wisely, or foolishly, write about Italy;
From your shipmate, John Evelyn's, amusing old tour,
To Forsyth's one volume, and Eustace's four,
In spite of Lord Byron, or Hobhouse, who glances
At the classical Eustace, and says he romances.
Pray describe me from Venice (don't think it a bore)
The literal state of the famed Bucentaur ;
And whether the horses, that once were the sun's,
Are of bright yellow brass, or of dark dingy bronze,
For some travellers say one thing, and some say another,
And I can't find out which, they all make such a pother.
Oh! another thing too, which I'd nearly forgot,
Are the songs of the Gondoliers pleasing or not?
These are matters of moment, you'll surely allow,
For Venice must interest all, even now.
These points being settled, I ask for no more hence,
But should wish for a few observations from Florence.
Let me know if the Palaces Strozzi and Pitti
Are finished if not 't is a shame for the city,
To let one for ages was e'er such a thing?
Its entablature want, and the other its wing.
Say, too, if the Dove (should you be there at Easter,
And watch her swift flight, when the priests have released her),
Is a turtle, or ring-dove, or but a wood-pigeon,
Which makes people gulls, in the name of Religion ?
Pray tell, if the forests of famed Vallombrosa
Are cut down or not, for this, too, is a Cosa
About which I'm anxious as also to know
If the Pandects, so famous long ages ago,
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 73
Game back, (above all, don't forget this to mention)
To that manuscript library called the Laurentian.
Since I wrote the above, I, by chance, have found out,
That the horses are bright yellow brass, beyond doubt;
So I'll ask you but this, the same subject pursuing,
Do you think they are truly Lysippus's doing?
When to Naples you get, let me know if you will,
If the Acqua Toffana's in fashion there still,
For, not to fatigue you with needless verbosity,
'Tis a point upon which I feel much curiosity.
I should like to have also, and not written shabbily,
Your opinion about the Piscina mirabile;
And whether the tomb, which is near Sannazaro's,
Is decided by you to be really Maro's.
In June 1821, Mrs. Hemans obtained the prize
awarded by the Royal Society of Literature for the
best poem on the subject of Dartmoor. On this occa-
sion, as on every other, her chief enjoyment of success
was derived from the happiness it created in those
around her. That " Fame can only afford reflected
delight to a woman," was a sentiment she unceasingly
felt and expressed; and she never was more truly her-
self than in writing to Miss Mitford. " Do you know
that I often think of you, and of the happiness you
must feel in being able to run to your father and
mother with all the praises you receive." In the
" kind, approving eye," the " meek, attentive ear" of
her own fond mother, she possessed a source of pure
happiness, too soon, alas ! withdrawn. When absent
from her brothers and sister, almost the first thought
that would occur to her, on occasions like the present,
was a longing impatience for them to hear of her good
VOL. I. 7
74 MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS.
fortune ; and the tumultuous exultation of her boys,
was a far dearer tribute than the praise of the might-
iest critic. On hearing of the success of Dartmoor,
she thus wrote to the friends who had been the first to
communicate it to her.
"What with surprise, bustle, and pleasure, I am
really almost bewildered. I wish you had but seen
the children, when the prize was announced to them
yesterday. Arthur, you know, had so set his heart
upon it, that he was quite troublesome with his con-
stant inquiries on the subject. He sprang up from
his Latin exercise and shouted aloud, 'Now, I am
sure mamma is a better poet than Lord Byron !' l
"Their acclamations were actually deafening, and
George 2 said that the ' excess of his pleasure had
really given him a headache.' The Bishop's kind
communication put us in possession of the gratifying
intelligence a day sooner than we should otherwise
have known it, as I did not receive the Secretary's
letter till this morning. Besides the official announce-
ment of the prize, his despatch also contained a pri-
vate letter, with which, although it is one of criticism,
I feel greatly pleased, as it shows an interest in my
literary success, which from so distinguished a writer
as Mr. Croly, (of course you have read his poem of
Paris,) cannot but be highly gratifying."
1 It is scarcely necessary to remark, that the comparison origin-
ated solely with the boy himself.
2 George Willoughby Hemans, the eldest of her survivmg sons,
now a promising young civil engineer.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 75
Mrs. Hemans was at this time occupied in the com-
position of her tragedy, The Vespers of Palermo,
which she originally wrote, without any idea of offer-
ing it for the stage. The sanguine recommendations,
however, of Mr. Reginald Heber, and the equally
kind encouragement of Mr. Milman (to whose corre-
spondence she was introduced through the medium of
a mutual friend, though she had never the advantage
of his personal acquaintance), induced her to venture
upon a step which her own diffidence would have
withheld her from contemplating, but for the support
of such high literary authorities. Indeed, notwith-
standing the flattering encomiums which were be-
stowed upon the tragedy by all who read it, and most
especially by the critics of the green room, whose
imprimatur might have been supposed a sufficiently
safe guarantee of success, her own anticipations,
throughout the long period of suspense which inter-
vened between its acceptance and representation,
were far more modified than those of her friends. In
this subdued tone of feeling she thus wrote to Mr.
Milman : " As I cannot help looking forward to the
day of trial with much more of dread than of sanguine
expectation, I most willingly acquiesce in your recom-
mendations of delay, and shall rejoice in having the
respite as much prolonged as possible. I begin almost
to shudder at my own presumption, and, if it were not
for the kind encouragement I have received from
you and Mr. Reginald Heber, should be much more
anxiously occupied in searching for any outlet of
escape, than in attempting to overcome the difficulties
76 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
which seem to obstruct my onward path." 1 These
misgivings were but too well justified by the ultimate
fate of the piece ; but, as this remained in abeyance
for two years longer, it will be again alluded to in the
proper order of date.
Mrs. Hemans's familiar letters of this period, ex-
hibit a singular mixture of maternal and literary an-
xieties. In one of them, she says " I have not been
able, I am sorry to say, to pay the least attention to
my Welsh studies, since your departure. I am so
fearful of not having the copying of the tragedy com-
pleted by the time my brother and sister return, and I
have such a variety of nursery interruptions, that what
with the murdered Provencals, George's new clothes,
Mr. Morehead's Edinburgh Magazine, Arthur's cough,
and his Easter holidays, besides the dozen little riots
which occur in my colony every day, my ideas are
1 " Oh ! what troubled billows," wrote she to an intimate
friend, " have I launched my paper boat upon, in writing this
play ! If I get through them as well as we did through the awful
hurricane, of which you have given us so many melancholy par-
ticulars, it will be marvellous indeed. We escaped wonderfully,
and, strange to say, every one in the house but myself, slept
quietly the greater part of the night, which, I think, argued great
stupidity. For me, I have ' given too many pledges to fortune,'
as Lord Bacon says, to feel so tranquil, with * such a dreadful
pother o'er our heads ;' and I must say, I never passed a night
of such awful suspense. The deep, rosy sleep of the children
quite affected me to look at. Heaven be praised ! no accident
of any serious consequence occurred in our neighbourhood, and I
do think there never will be such a storm again, because the
winds must have * cracked their cheeks,' so as to be quite unable
to blow any more."
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 77
sometimes in such a state of rotatory motion, that it
is with great difficulty I can reduce them to any sort
In another letter, she writes " You will smile
when I tell you of my having stolen time to-day
from much more serious employments, for the very
important purpose of making garlands for my little
boys to dance with, as it is the birthday of my
About this time, the return of her sister from Ger-
many, and the ample supplies of new books furnished
to her by her eldest brother, then with the embassy
at Vienna (the ever ready minister to her tastes, no
less than the unfailing support in her trials,) induced
her to devote herself with enthusiasm to the study of
German, which from thenceforward she may be said
to have taken to her heart with a kind of affectionate
adoption. She never spoke of it without warmly
acknowledging how many sources of intellectual en-
joyment and expansion it had opened to her ; and
could well have understood the feelings of the cele-
brated Venetian paintress, Rosalba Camera, who, as
we are told by Mrs. Jameson, 1 used, after her return
to Italy from Dresden, to say her prayers in German,
" because the language was so expressive." In this
predilection, as in every other, it was always a true
pleasure to Mrs. Hemans to meet with a correspond-
ing taste in any of her friends. In one of her letters,
she says " I am so delighted when I meet with any
1 See " Visits and Sketches at Home and Abroad," vol. ii. p.
78 MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS.
one who knows and loves my favourite seelenvolle 1
German, that I believe I could talk of it for ever."
And, in another, "I do assure you, that when any
of my friends enjoy what has been a source of enjoy-
ment to myself, I feel all the pleasure of a child who
has found a companion to play with his flowers."
She in general preferred the writings of Schiller
to those of Goethe, and could for ever find fresh
beauties in Wallenstein, with which she was equally
familiar in its eloquent original, and in Coleridge's
magnificent translation, or, as it may truly be called,
transfusion. Those most conversant with her literary
tastes, will remember her almost actual, relation-like
love for the characters of Max and Thekla, whom,
like many other " beings of the mind," she had learn-
ed to consider as friends ; and her constant quotations
of certain passages from this noble tragedy, which
peculiarly accorded with her own views and feelings.
In the Stimmen der Volker in Lieder of Herder, she
found a rich store of thoughts and suggestions ; and it
was this work which inspired her with the idea of
her own Lays of many Lands, most of which appear-
ed originally in the New Monthly Magazine, then
edited by Mr. Campbell. She also took great delight
in the dreamy beauties of Novalis and Tieck, and in
what has been gracefully characterised by Mr. Chor-
ley, as the " moonlight tenderness" of Oehlenschlager.
Of the works of the latter, her especial favourite was
Coreggio ; and of Tieck, Sternbald's Wanderungen,
which she often made her out-of-doors companion. It
1 Full of soul.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 79
was always an especial mark of her love for a book,
and of her considering it true to nature, and to the
best wisdom of the heart, 1 when she promoted it to
the list of those with which she would " take sweet
counsel" amidst the woods and fields.
But, amongst all these names of power, none
awakened a more lively interest in her mind, than
that of the noble-hearted Korner, the young soldier-
bard, who, in the words of Professor Bouterwek,
" would have become a distinguished tragic poet, had
he not met with the still more glorious fate of falling
on the field of battle, while fighting for the deliver-
ance of Germany." The stirring events of his life,
the heroism of his early death, and the beautiful tie
which subsisted between him and his only sister,
whose fate was so touchingly bound up with his own,
formed a romance of real life, which could not fail to
excite feelings of the warmest enthusiasm in a bosom
so ready as hers, to respond to all things high and
holy. The lyric of The Grave of Korner, is, per-
haps, one of the most impressive Mrs. Hemans ever
wrote. Her whole heart was in a subject which so
peculiarly combined the two strains dearest to her
nature, the chivalrous and the tender.
"They were but two, and when that spirit pass'd,
Woe to the one, the last!"
That mournful echo " They were but two," was,
1 " One of our poets says, with equal truth and beauty, * The
heart is wise.' We should be not only happier but better if we
attended more co its dictates." Ethel Churchill, by L. E. L.,
vol. i. p. 234.
80 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
by some indefinable association, connected in her
mind with another and far differing brother and sis-
ter, called into existence by the magic pen of Scott.
The affecting ejaculation, " There are but two of
us !" so often repeated by the hapless Clara Mowbray
in St. Ronan's Well, was frequently quoted by Mrs.
Hemans as an instance of the deepest pathos. The
lyric in question was, it is believed, one of the first
tributes which appeared in England, to the memory
of the author of The Lyre and Sword, though his
name has since become " familiar in our ears as house-
hold words." A translation of the Life of Korner,
with selections from his poems, &c., was published in
1827, by G. F. Richardson, Esq., whose politeness in
presenting a copy of the work to Mrs. Hemans, in-
scribed with a dedicatory sonnet, led to an interchange
of letters with that gentleman, and was further the
means of procuring for her the high gratification of a
direct message, full of the most feeling acknowledg-
ment, from the venerable father of the hero, who
afterwards addressed to her a poetical tribute from
Theodore Korner's Father* Her pleasure in receiving
this genuine offering was thus expressed to Mr. Rich-
ardson, who had been the medium through which it
reached her. " Theodor Korner's Vater ! it is,
indeed, a title, beautifully expressing all the holy
pride which the memory of die treuen Todten ' must
inspire ; and awakening every good and high feeling
to its sound. I shall prize the lines as a relic. Will
you be kind enough to assure M. Korner, with my
1 The faithful dead.
MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS. 81
grateful respects, of the value which will be attached
to them, a value so greatly enhanced by their being
in his own hand. They are very beautiful, I think,
in their somewhat antique and treuherzig 1 simplicity,
and worthy to have proceeded from Theodor Korner's
The following almost literal translation of these
lines, is given by W. B. Chorley, Esq., in his interest-
ing little volume, The Lyre and Sword, published in
" Gently a voice from afar is borne to the ear of the mourner ;
Mildly it soundeth, yet strong, grief in his bosom to soothe ;
Strong in the soul-cheering faith, that hearts have a share in his
In whose depths all things holy and noble are shrined.
From that land once dearly belov'd by our brave one, the fallen,
Mourning blent with bright fame cometh a wreath for his urn.
Hail to thee, England the free ! thou see'st in the German no
Over the earth and the seas, joined be both lands, heart and
There was nothing which delighted Mrs. Hemans
more in German literature, than the cordial feeling
of brotherhood, so conspicuous amongst its most emi-
nent authors, and their freedom from all the petty
rivalries and manoeuvres, on which she herself looked
down with as much of wonder, as of contempt. In a
letter, in which she speaks of the bitterness, and jea-
lousy, and* strife, pervading the tone of many of our
own Reviews, she adds, turning to a brighter picture
with a feeling of relief, like that of one emerging
82 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
from the heated atmosphere of a city to breathe the
fresh air of the mountains. "How very different
seems the spirit of literary men in Germany ! I am
just reading a work of Tieck's, which is dedicated to
Schlegel ; and I am delighted with the beautiful sim-
plicity of these words in the dedication.
" ' Es war eine schdne Zeit meines Lebens, ah ich
dich und deinen Bruder Friedrich zuerst kennen
Icrnte ; eine noch schdnere ah wir und JVovalis fiir
Kunst und Wissenschaft vereinigt lebten, und uns in
mannigfaltigen Bestrebungen begegneten. Jetzt hat
uns das Schicksal schon seit vielen Jahren getrennt.
Ich kann nur in Geist und in der Erinnerung mit
dirleben. 91 Is not that union of bright minds, fur
Kunst und Wissenschaft, a picture on which it is
delightful to repose?"
Mrs. Hemans's familiar correspondence of the year
1822, contains many humorous complaints of the per-
petual disturbance she endured from the inroads of
masons and carpenters, who were employed in cer-
tain alterations and additions at Bronwylfa. It was
in the desperation occasioned by these circumstances
that she was at last, as has been elsewhere record-
ed, driven to seek refuge in the laundry, from which
classical locality, she was wont to say, it could be
no wonder if sadly mangled lines were to issue.
1 " That was a bright era in my life when I first learned to
know you and your brother Frederick ; a still brighter, when
we and Novalis lived united for art and knowledge, and emu-
lated one another in various competitions. Fate has since, for
many years, divided us. I can now live with you only in spirit
and in memory."
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 83
Some of her lamentations over these grievances
were poured forth in such strains as the following :
" I entreat you to pity me I am actually in the
melancholy situation of Lord Byron's * scorpion girt
by fire' ' Her circle narrowing as she goes/ for I
have been pursued by the household troops through
every room successively, and begin to think of es-
tablishing my metier in the cellar ; though I dare say,
if I were to fix myself as comfortably in a hogshead as
Diogenes himself, it would immediately be discovered
that some of the hoops or staves wanted repair.
" When you talk of tranquillity and a quiet home,
I stare about in wonder, having almost lost the recol-
lection of such things, and the hope that they may pro-
bably be regained some time or other. I believe I
told you that I had been obliged to vacate my own
room, and submit to the complete dislodgement of my
books, together with the dust, cobwebs, and other ap-
purtenances thereunto belonging. * If there be any
love of mercy' in you, I hope you will feel a proper de-
gree of commiseration towards me in my extremity."
A few weeks later, she writes " We continue in
the same state of tumult and confusion, wherein we
x have existed, as it appears to my recollection, time
immemorial. There is a war of old grates with new
grates, and plaster and paint with dust and cobwebs,
carrying on in this once tranquil abode, with a vigour
and animosity productive of little less din than that
occasioned by ' lance to lance, and horse to horse.' I
assure you, when I make my escape about * fall of
eve' to some of the green, quiet hay-fields by which
we are surrounded, and look back at the house, which,
84 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
from a little distance, seems almost, like Shakspeare's
moonlight, to ' sleep upon the bank,' I can hardly con-
ceive how so gentle-looking a dwelling can contrive to
send forth such an incessant clatter of obstreperous
sound through its honeysuckle-fringed window. It
really reminds me of a pretty shrew, whose amiable
smiles would hardly allow a casual observer to suspect
the possibility of so fair a surface being occasionally
ruffled by storms.'
During these days of confusion, her two eldest boys,
Arthur and George, had been sent away for a few
weeks to the house of a clergyman, whose pupils they
had been, during his previous residence in "the neigh
bourhood of St. Asaph. It was their first absence
from home, and was consequently considered as an
era of no small importance. Their mother would
often afterwards refer to the day on which she went
with her sister to fetch them home, as one of the
white days of her life. The little journey (about
twenty miles,) was in itself an enjoyable one. The
remote village l at which they were staying, is quite
embosomed amongst the mountains, and only approach-
able by narrow shaded lanes, seldom traversed by a
carriage. It was one of those glorious summer days
when all nature seems to rejoice,
" As if earth contained no tomb."
The quiet beauty of the " hill-country," with its
bright streams and rich verdure smiling in the sun-
shine ; the joyous song of the sky -lark (never heard
so triumphantly as amongst the mountains,) the
1 Bettws Gwerfil goch.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 85
peculiar luxuriance of the ferns and fox-glove l which
fringed the way-side, and even the grotesque rugged-
ness of the road, which gave to the excursion almost
an air of adventure were all felt and enjoyed as
such things must ever be by the lover of nature : and
when at last the little parsonage appeared in sight,
and the two happy boys came rushing down a green
slope behind it, flapping their pinafores in ecstasy,
and uttering a thousand joyful exclamations at the
sight of the carriage, it was indeed a bright picture,
and a moment not easily to be forgotten. Then came
the kind welcome of the host and hostess, the impor-
tant air of ciceroneism with which the two boys pro-
ceeded to do the honours of the village, the church,
the bridge, all the wonders, in short, of the little
world around them and then the charms of the
evening drive home, the thousand questions to be
asked and answered on each side, and finally, the
gladsome meeting with grandmamma, and the three
merry little brothers in the nursery.
About this time, after reading the then new novel
of The Fortunes of Nigel, Mrs. Hemans had inad-
vertently mentioned it, in a letter to a friend, as giv-
ing an admirable picture of the times of James the
Second. On recollecting her mistake, she lost no time
1 This luxuriance was so remarkable, that, by one of the
party, the fox-glove has never been seen since, without a recol-
lection of that day, and of the information then first obtained,
of its pretty Welsh name, Menyg Ellyllon, fairies' gloves, from
which some learned authorities have traced its common appella-
tion as a corruption of folk's glove ; the fairies being designated
as "the good folk."
VOL. I. 8
86 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
in making the following recantation: "I am some-
what uneasy at having committed myself, as I just
now recollect, by telling you that the scene of The
Fortunes of Nigel is laid in the times of James the
Second. If you have read the hook, you are not the
person to treat such
with the smallest degree of compassion. I shall cer-
tainly suffer for it, and be the unhappy subject of one
of the three modes of showing disdain, practised in the
days of good Queen Bess, viz., " the broad flout, the
fleering frump, and the privy nip." If you have not
(that is, not read Nigel), you may be committing your-
self, and that not merely as an individual, but as a
member of the " very noble and approved " Literary
and Critical Society of St. Asaph, by quoting the
anachronism into which I have led you. I therefore
write to-day, for the sole purpose of throwing the bur-
den off my mind, and you may set it down in the list
of my errata, that I told you Nigel described the court
and manners of James the Second, instead of the First,
** Bonnie King James who from Scotland came."
I am sure, the very idea of his quilted doublet is
enough to give one a fever such a day as this. I wish
I were with those people in South America, who hold
their assemblies and conversazioni every evening in a
river. There they sit, gossiping in their elbow chairs ;
and, I dare say, the chief conversation, like that over
our own tea-tables, turns upon the heat or coolness of
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 87
the water. But I am quite forgetting that I had not
a word to say to you except about Nigel, and more-
over, dinner is going in. Dinner ! I wonder if " gen-
teel families" are at dinner now in the dog-star.
" You 're hot if you don't eat at all,
You 're hotter if you do,"
Nevertheless, to the latter alternative, I must sub-
mit at present ; therefore, good bye."
In the autumn of this year (1822), Mrs. Hemans
had the good fortune to make an acquaintance, not
only highly interesting in itself, but most advantageous
in a literary point of view that of William Jacob, Esq.,
the well-known author of Travels in Spain and in
Germany, and of several other valuable statistical
This gentleman, whilst travelling through Wales,
accompanied by one of his daughters, paid a visit to
Bronwylfa, which, leaving nothing to regret but the
shortness of its duration, laid the foundation of a long
series of kind and active services on the one part, and
of grateful appreciation on the other. " Believe me,"
wrote Mrs. Hemans to Miss Jacob, " the few hours
we passed in your society will be long remembered ;
and, to use an expression of our old Welsh bards, we
shall look back to them " as to green spots on the
floods ; " for our paths, in this retired part of the world,
are seldom crossed by those who leave any deeper im-
pression upon our memory than " the little lines of
The bardic expression above alluded to, with many
others, Equally quaint and figurative, was frequently
88 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
quoted by Mrs. Hemans, who took infinite delight in
all that related to the ancient days of Wales, and was
at this time engaged in an undertaking, which, from
the course of reading it led to, initiated her into much
that was striking and original in the legendary lore of
her adopted country. The noble motto for all the pro-
ceedings of the old Welsh bards, " In the face of the
sun, and in the eye of light," was one completely after
her own heart, and in perfect accordance with the
transparent guilelessness of a character to which the
conventional insincerities of e very-day life were so
unutterably distasteful. It is, indeed, impossible to in-
sist too much upon this peculiar characteristic, which,
rendering her as unsuspicious of evil thoughts in others,
as she was incapable of them herself, laid her open in
a thousand ways to the misconstructions of those
" children of this world" who are, "in their genera-
tion, wiser than the children of light." To return,
however, to her favourite ancient Britons, whom she
thus introduced to the notice of her new friend:
" The idea entertained of the bardic character, ap-
pears to me particularly elevated and beautiful. The
bard was not allowed, in any way, to become a party
in political or religious dispute ; he was recognised so
completely as the herald of peace, under the title of
6 Bard of the Isle of Britain,' that a naked weapon
was not allowed to be displayed in his presence. He
passed unmolested from one hostile country to another ;
and, if he appeared in his uni-coloured robe (which
was azure, being the emblem of peace and truth)
between two contending armies, the battle was imme-
diately suspended. One of the general titles of the
MEMOIR OF MRS. IIEMANS. 89
order was, ' Those who are free throughout the world,'
and their motto, ' The truth against the world.' '
The Voice of Spring, perhaps the best known and
best loved of all Mrs. Hemans's lyrics, was written
early in the year 1823; and is thus alluded to in a
letter to a friend, who had lately suffered a severe
and sudden bereavement : " The Voice of Spring
expresses some peculiar feelings of my own, although
my life has yet been unvisited by any affliction so
deeply impressive, in all its circumstances, as the one
you have been called upon to sustain. Yet I cannot
but feel every year, with the return of the violet, how
much the shadows of my mind have deepened since
its last appearance ; and to me the spring, with all
its joy and beauty, is generally a time of thought-
fulness rather than mirth. I think the most delightful
poetry I know upon the subject of this season, is con-
tained in the works of Tieck, a German poet, with
whom you are perhaps acquainted ; but the feelings
he expresses are of a very different character from
those I have described to you, seeming all to proceed
from an overflowing sense of life and joy."
This indefinable feeling of languor and depression
produced by the influence of spring, will be well
understood by many a gentle heart. Never do the
" Fond strange yearnings from the soul's deep cell,
Gush for the faces we no more shall see,"
with such uncontrollable power, as when all external
nature breathes of life and gladness. Amidst all the
bright and joyous things around us, we are haunted
with images of death and the grave. The force of
90 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
contrast, not less strong than that of analogy, is
unceasingly reminding us of the great gulph that
divides us from those who are now " gone down in
silence." Some unforgotten voice is ever whispering
" And I too in Arcadia." We remember how we
were wont to rejoice in the soft air and pleasant sun-
shine ; and these things can charm us no longer,
" because they are not." The farewell sadness of
, autumn, on the contrary its falling leaves, and uni-
versal imagery of decay, by bringing more home to
us the sense of our own mortality, identifies us more
closely with those who are gone before, and the veil
of separation becomes, as it were, more transparent.
We are impressed with a more pervading conviction
that " we shall go to them ;" while in spring, every
thing seems mournfully to echo, " they will not return
to us !"
These peculiar associations may be traced in many
of Mrs. Hemans's writings, deepening with the influ-
ence of years and of sorrows, and more particularly
developed in the poem called Breathings of Spring.
And when it is remembered that it was at this season
her own earthly course was finished, the following
passage from a letter, written in the month of May,
some years after the one last quoted, cannot be read
without emotion. " Poor A. H. is to be buried to-
morrow. With the bright sunshine laughing around,
it seems more sad to think of; yet if I could choose
when I would wish to die, it should be in spring
the influence of that season is so strangely depressing
to my heart and frame."
It was in 1823 that Mrs. Hemans began to be a
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 91
contributor to the Neto Monthly Magazine, then edited
by Mr. Campbell; and in the summer of the same
year, the volume containing The Siege of Valencia
was published by Mr. Murray. Through some mis-
take of the printers, an untoward anomaly occurred
in the arrangement of the contents of this volume
The Last Constantino taking precedence of the poem
which so far exceeded it in importance and interest,
and from which the work derived its name. Belshaz-
zar's Feast, which appeared in the same volume, had
previously been published in the Collection of Poems
from Living Authors, edited for a benevolent purpose
by Mrs. Joanna Baillie. 1
1 This work was thus referred to in one of Mrs. Hemans's let-
ters : " Have you seen a collection of poems by living authors,
edited by Mrs. Joanna Baillie, for the benefit of a friend ] She
was kind enough to send me a copy, as I was one of her contrib-
utors : I mention it to you, principally to call your attention,
should you meet with the book, to a very fine translation, by
Sotheby, of Schiller's magnificent Lied von der Glocke, a piece
so very difficult to translate with effect, that I should have hardly
thought it possible to give it so much spirit and grace in another
language. I never, until very lately, met with a tragedy of Mrs.
Baillie's, which is, I believe, less generally known than her other
works The Family Legend. I was much v pleased with it, par-
ticularly with her delineation of the heroine. Indeed, nothing
in all her writings delights me so much as her general idea of
what is beautiful in the female character. There is so much
gentle fortitude, and deep self-devoting affection in the women
whom she portrays, and they are so perfectly different from the
pretty " unideaM girls," who seem to form the beau ideal of our
whole sex in the works of some modern poets. Have you seen
the lately published memoirs of Lady Griseld Baillie'? She was
an ancestress, I believe, of Joanna's, and her delightful character
92 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
After innumerable delays, uncertainties, and anxie-
ties, the fate of the tragedy, so long in abeyance, was
now drawing to a crisis. Every thing connected with
its approaching representation was calculated to raise
the highest hopes of success. " All is going on."
writes Mrs. Hemans on the 27th November, " as well
as I could possibly desire. Only a short time will yet
elapse before the ordeal is over. I received a message
yesterday from Mr. Kemble, informing me of the
unanimous opinion of the green room conclave in
favour of the piece, and exhorting me to * be of good
courage.' Murray has given me two hundred guineas
for the copyright of the * tragedy, drama, poem, com-
position, or book/ as it is called in the articles which
I signed yesterday. The managers made exceptions
to the name of Procida, why or wherefore I know
not ; and out of several others which I proposed to
them, The Vespers of Palermo has been finally cho-
Under these apparently favourable auspices, the
piece was produced at Covent Garden on the night
of December 12, 1823, the principal characters being
taken by Mr. Young, Mr. C. Kemble, Mr. Yates, Mrs.
Bartley, and Miss R H. Kelly. Two days had to
elapse before the news of its reception could reach
St. Asaph. Not only Mrs. Hemans's own family, but
all her more immediate friends and neighbours were
wrought up to a pitch of intense expectation. Various
newspapers were ordered expressly foi* the occasion ;
seems to have been the model her descendant has copied in some
of her dramas."
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 93
and the post-office was besieged at twelve o'clock at
night, by some of the more zealous of her friends,
eager to be the first heralds of the triumph so undoubt-
ingly anticipated. The boys had worked themselves
up into an uncontrollable state of excitement, and
were all lying awake "to hear about mamma's play;"
and perhaps her bitterest moment of mortification was,
when she went up to their bed-sides, which she nerved
herself to do almost immediately, to announce that all
their bright visions were dashed to the ground, and
that the performance had ended in all but a failure.
The reports in the newspapers were strangely contra-
dictory, and, in some instances, exceedingly liberal ;
but all which were written in any thing like an un-
biassed tone, concurred entirely with the private
accounts, not merely of partial friends, but of perfectly
unprejudiced observers, in attributing this most unex-
pected result to the inefficiency of the actress who
personated Constance, and who absolutely seemed to
be under the influence of some infatuating spell, call-
ing down hisses, and even laughter, on scenes the most
pathetic and affecting, and, to crown all, dying gra-
tuitously at the close of the piece. The acting of
v Young and Kemble in the two Procidi, was univer-
sally pronounced to have been beyond all praise ; and
their sustained exertions showed a determination to do
all possible justice to the author. It was admitted,
that at the fall of the curtain, applause decidedly
predominated : still the marks of disapprobation were
too strong to be disregarded by the managers, who
immediately decided upon withdrawing the piece, till
-mother actress should have fitted herself to under
94 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
take the part of Constance, when they fully resolvec 1
to reproduce it. Mrs. Hemans herself was very far
from wishing that this fresh experiment should be
made. " Mr. Kemble," writes she to a friend, " will
not hear of The Vespers being driven off the stage.
It is to be reproduced as soon as Miss Foote, who is
now unw r ell, shall be sufficiently recovered to learn
her part ; but I cannot tell you how I shrink, after
the fiery ordeal through which I have passed, from
such another trial. Mr. Kemble attributes the failure,
without the slightest hesitation, to what he delicately
calls "a singularity of intonation in one of the actress-
es," I have also heard from Mr. Milman, Mr. J. S.
Coleridge, and several others, with whom there is but
one opinion as to the cause of the disaster."
Few would, perhaps, have borne so unexpected a
reverse with feelings so completely untinged with bit-
terness, or with greater readiness to turn for consola-
tion to the kindness and sympathy which poured in
upon her from every side. It would be doing her
injustice to withhold her letter to Mr. Milman, written
in the first moments of disappointment.
" Bronwylfa, Dec. 16, 1823.
" MY DEAR SIR,
" It is difficult to part with the hopes of three
years, without some painful feelings; but your kind
letter has been of more service to me than I can
attempt to describe. I will not say that it revives
my hopes of success, because I think it better that
I should file my mind to prevent those hopes from
gaining any ascendency ; but it sets in so clear a light
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 95
the causes of failure, that my disappointment has
been greatly softened by its perusal. The many
friends from whom I have heard on this occasion,
express but one opinion. As to Miss Kelly's acting,
and its fatal effect on the fortunes of the piece, I can-
not help thinking that it will be impossible to counter-
act the unfavourable impression which this must have
produced, and I almost wish, as far as relates to my
own private feelings, that the attempt may not be
made. I shall not, however, interfere in any way on
the subject. I have not heard from Mr. Kemble ; but
I have written both to* him and to Mr. Young, to ex-
press my grateful sense of their splendid exertions in
support of the piece. As a female, I cannot help
feeling rather depressed by the extreme severity with
which I have been treated in the morning papers. I
know not why this should be ; for I am sure I should
not have attached the slightest value to their praise ;
but I suppose it is only a proper chastisement for my
temerity ; for a female who shrinks from such things,
has certainly no business to write tragedies.
" For your support and assistance, as well as that
of my other friends, I cannot be too grateful ; nor can
I ever consider any transaction of my life unfortunate,
which has given me the privilege of calling you a
friend, and afforded me the recollection of so much
long-tried kindness. Ever believe me, my dear sir,
most faithfully, your obliged
Notwithstanding the determination of the mana-
gers again to bring forward The Vespers, a sort of
96 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
fatality seemed to attend upon it, and some fresh
obstacle was continually arising to prevent the luck-
less Constance from obtaining an efficient representa-
tive on the London stage. Under these circumstan-
ces, Mr. Kemble at length confessed that he could not
recommend the reproduction of the piece ; and Mrs.
Hemans acquiesced in the decision, with feelings which
partook rather of relief than of disappointment. She
never ceased to speak in the warmest terms of Mr.
Kemble's liberal and gentlemanly conduct, both before
and after the appearance of the piece, and of his sur-
passing exertions at the time of its representation.
It was with no small degree of surprise, that, in
the course of the following February, she learned,
through the medium of a letter from Mrs. Joanna
Baillie, 1 that the tragedy was shortly to be represent-
1 Though Mrs. Hemans had never the advantage of being
personally known to this gifted and excellent lady, the occa-
sional interchange of letters, which, from this time forward, was
kept up between them, was regarded as one of the most valuable
privileges she possessed. It was always delightful to her when
she could love the character, as well as admire the talents, of a
celebrated author; and never, surely, was there an example
better fitted to call forth the willing tribute of veneration, both
towards the woman and the poetess. In one of her letters to
Mrs. Baillie, Mrs. Hemans thus apologized for indulging in a
strain of egotism, which the nature of their acquaintance might
scarcely seem to justify. " The kindly warmth of heart which
seems to breathe over all your writings, and the power of early
association over my mind, make me feel, whenever I address
you, as if I were writing to a friend."
It would have been very dear to her could she have foreseen
how graciously that " kindly warmth of heart" would be extend-
ed to those of her children, who are more fortunate than her-
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 97
ed at the Edinburgh Theatre Mrs. Henry Siddons
undertaking the part of Constance. The play was
brought out on the 5th of April, and the following
particulars of its reception, transmitted by one of the
zealous friends who had been instrumental in this
arrangement, will prove how well their kindly inten-
tions were fulfilled:
" The tragedy went off in a style which exceeded
our most sanguine expectations, and was announced
for repetition on Wednesday, amidst thunders of ap-
plause. The actors seem to have done wonders, and
every one appeared to strain every nerve, as if all
depended on his own exertions. Vandenhoff was the
elder, and Calcraft the younger Procida. The first
recognition between father and son, was acted by
them to such perfection, that one of the most hearty
and unanimous plaudits followed that ever was heard.
# * * * *
" Every re-appearance of the gentle Constance
won the spectators more and more. The scene in
the judgment hall carried off the audience into per-
fect illusion, and handkerchiefs were out in every
quarter. Mrs. Siddons's searching the faces of the
judges, which she did in a wild manner, as if to find
how Raimond's father was to save him, was perfect.
She flew round the circle went, as if distracted,
close up to judge after judge paused before Procida,
and fell prostrate at his feet. The effect was magi-
cal, and was manifested by three repeated bursts of
self, in enjoying the personal intercourse she would have prized
VOL. I. 9
98 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
A neatly turned and witty epilogue, surmised,
though not declared, to be the production of Sir
Walter Scott, was recited by Mrs. H. Siddons. When
deference to a female was there laid claim to, loud
bursts of applause ensued ; but, when generosity to a
stranger was bespoken, the house absolutely rang
" I knew how much you would rejoice," wrote Mrs.
Hemans to a warm-hearted friend, " in the issue of
my Edinburgh trial ; it has, indeed, been most grati-
fying, and I think, amongst the pleasantest of its re-
sults, I may reckon a letter from Sir Walter Scott, of
which it has put me in possession. I had written to
thank him for the kindness he had shown with regard
to the play, and hardly expected an answer ; but it
came, and you would be delighted with its frank and
unaffected kindliness. He acknowledges the epilogue,
" stuffed," as he says it was, " with parish jokes, and
bad puns;" and courteously says, that his country
folks have done more credit to themselves than to me,
by their reception of The Vespers.
To another uncompromising champion she wrote :
"I must beg you will 'bear our faculties meekly :'
you really seem to be rather in an intoxicated state ;
and if we indulge ourselves in this way, I am afraid
we shall have something violent to sober us. I dare
say I must expect some sharp criticism from Edin-
burgh ere all this is over ; but any thing which de-
serves the name of criticism I can bear. I believe I
could point out more faults in The Vespers myself
than any one has done yet."
And then, with that endearing predominance of the
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 99
mother over the author, which formed one of the
loveliest features of her character, she would turn to
some nursery topic in strains such as these: " I am
just returned from a game with one of the English
shuttlecocks (which are pronounced to be much the
best flyers,) in which I have so distinguished myself
by my strenuous exertions, that I feel in some danger
of writing one of the three hands on which I have
heard a distinguished lawyer piques himself I mean
the one which neither he himself nor any one else
can read. * Tant les forces de ma puissante vie 9 (as
Mademoiselle de Stael says of Corinne) ' sont tpui-
And a letter of " high discourse" on the writings
of Dr. Channing, merges in the domestic mood, as
follows: "Now, lest you should forget your ' Aunt
Becky's 1 character, I have two important commis-
sions to keep you in heart and in practice. We are
in the greatest want of two humming-tops ! One is
to be rather a large one, but plain, and as little ex-
pensive as may be ; the other of small dimensions,
even such as will hum upon a table. Sundry teeth
have been drawn in the household, and the tops have
v been promised to reward the fortitude evinced on
these trying occasions."
She delighted, too, in relating little anecdotes of
1 See The Inheritance, by Miss Ferrier. This pet name had
been bestowed upon the indefatigable friend who was, for eigh-
teen years, the purveyor of all things needful, from Italian clas-
sics to huntming-tops ; and, like the Countess of Pembroke and
Montgomery, a reference and authority in everything, from
"predestination down to slea-silk."
100 MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS.
her children, when writing to the partial friends by
whom such " trivial fond records" were most likely
to be prized. " I must tell you," she writes, " a re-
mark of my little George's the other day, not only as
I was much pleased with its discrimination, but as a
proof of the attention and interest with which he has
read our dear Swiss history. 1 He was reading to me
an account of the proceedings of the precious trium-
virate, Antony, Lepidus, and Octavius ; when, sud-
denly pausing, he exclaimed, after a moment's thought
" Oh, mamma ! what a contrast to the meeting of
the three Swiss patriots on the field of Grutli !"
Another of these " Oh, mammas," was somewhat
1 A History of Switzerland, for young persons, published by
Darton and Harvey. This very interesting volume was written
by Mrs. Hemans's accomplished friend, the dear "Aunt Becky"
of the note above ; and she took an interest in its progress, and
a pleasure in its success, which could scarcely have been ex-
ceeded had the work been her own. A little volume of Devo-
tions for Yotith, written by the same friend, and published by
Rivingtons two or three years afterwards, was one she prized
yet more highly, and frequently used with her children. " On
Christmas morning," she wrote, when they had been lent to her
in MS., " I read your prayer for that day with my boys, and I
cannot tell. you the pleasure I have in associating a thought of
you with the feelings excited in such moments. I was pleased
to hear the boys say, ' Mamma, that is the nicest prayer you ever
read to us ;' and could not help thinking that you, too, would
like the approbation of such accomplished critics. In the lines
which I suggested as a motto to the prayers, and which are from
a birthday address to my little George, the idea of the cares of
earth lying dim on the spirit's wings, was meant to imply the
gradual fading of youthful fancy and imagination in the world's
atmosphere, just as the feathers of a bird of Paradise might be
coiled with a mist or shower,"
MEMOIR OF MRS. ti&MANS. 101
more piquant in its character. " I wish you would
make the Bishop laugh with a saying of George's,
which entertained me a good deal " Oh, mamma !
I'm in the most delightful place in my Virgil now
I'm in Tartarus!"
She had always taken great interest in the descrip-
tion of the Christmas domestic festivals in Germany
the " Christmas Tree," the mutual presents between
parents and children, and all the innocent mysteries
and pretty surprises which travellers have described
so often, but none with so much truth and nature as
Coleridge in his letter from Ratzeburg, published in
The Friend. Amongst her own little group, some-
thing of a similar celebration was always attempted.
However wearied or harassed she might be, the claims
of this joyous season were never remitted. The fate
of poetic heroes and heroines would remain in abey-
ance, whilst juvenile mimes and mysteries were going
on at the fireside ; and for the moment nothing seemed
so important as the invention of different devices for
the painted bags of bonbons destined to adorn the
boughs of the " Christmas Tree." Even in the midst
of all her dramatic vexations, she could write com-
"pletely con amore " The boys were very happy yes-
terday evening with a plain twelfth cake of their own,
when, just as it had been despatched, and the little
ones were gone to bed, there arrived a much more
splendid one from the Bishop, so we are to have a
thirteenth night this evening. Charlie lays claim to
what he calls the 6 Coronation,' from the top of the
above-named cake, as he says he * always has the
coronations from the top of the Bishop's cakes.' "
102 MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS.
About this time, Mrs. Hemans was engaged in the
composition of another tragedy, entitled De Chatillon,
or, The Crusaders ; in which, with that deference to
fair criticism which she was always ready to avow,
and to act upon, she made it her purpose to attempt
a more compressed style of writing, avoiding that
redundancy of poetic diction which had been censured
as the prevailing fault of The Vespers. It may pos-
sibly be thought that in the composition in question
she has fallen into the opposite extreme of want of
elaboration ; yet in its present state, it is, perhaps,
scarcely amenable to criticism, for by some strange
accident, the fair copy transcribed by herself was
either destroyed or mislaid in some of her subsequent
removals, and the piece was long considered as utterly
lost. Nearly two years after her death, the original
rough MS., with all its hieroglyphical blots and era-
sures, was discovered amongst a mass of forgotten
papers ; and it has been a task of no small difficulty
to decypher it, and complete the copy now first given
to the world. Allowances must, therefore, be made
for the disadvantages under \vhich it appears, thus
deprived of her own finishing touches, and with no
means of ascertaining how far it may differ from the
copy so unaccountably missing.
In the autumn of 1824, she began the poem which,
in point of finish and consecutiveness, if not in popular-
ity, may be considered her principal work, and which
she herself inclined to look upon as her best. " I am
at present," she wrote to one always interested in her
literary occupations, " engaged upon a poem of some
length, the idea of which was suggested to me by some
MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS. 103
passages in your friend Mr. Blanco White's delightful
writings. l It relates to the sufferings of a Spanish
Protestant, in the time of Philip the Second, and is
supposed to be narrated by the sufferer himself, who
escapes to America. I am very much interested in
my subject, and hope to complete the poem in the
course of the winter." The progress of this work was
watched with great interest in her domestic circle, and
its touching descriptions would often extract a tribute
of tears from the fireside auditors. When completed,
a family consultation was held as to its name. Vari-
ous titles were proposed and rejected, till that of The
Forest Sanctuary was suggested by her brother, and
finally decided upon. Though finished early in 1825,
the poem was not published till the following year,
when it was brought out in conjunction with the Lays
of Many Lands, and a collection of miscellaneous
pieces, most of which had previously appeared in the
New Monthly Magazine, or in some of the various an-
nuals, from whose editors Mrs. Hemans was now re-
ceiving continual overtures. The number and urgen-
cy of these applications was already beginning to be
half tormenting, half amusing, though nothing in com-
parison with the " Vallombrosa"-like showers of these
" autumnal leaves" which used to come pouring down
upon her in after years, when the annual fever had
reached its height.
It was interesting to observe the manner in which
any new idea, accidentally suggested in the course of
her reading, would take hold of her imagination,
1 Letters from Spain by Don Leucadio Doblado.
104 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
awakening, as with an electric touch, a whole train
of associations and developements. Most truly, in her
case, was exemplified Mr. Wordsworth's observation
respecting poetic sensibility, in which he says, that
" the more exquisite it is, the wider will be the range
of a poet's perceptions, and the more will he be in-
cited to observe objects, both as they exist in them-
selves, and as reacted upon by his own mind." l
By her, objects were never seen simply " as they
exist in themselves." Every thing brought its own
appeals to thought and memory ; and every sight and
sound in nature awakened some distinct echo in her
heart. The very rustling of the trees spoke to her in
tones full of "meaning. It was one of her favourite fan-
cies that each tree had its peculiar language, suited
to its character for majesty, solemnity, or grace, and
that she could distinguish with closed eyes the meas-
ured tones of the oak or elm, the funereal sighs of the
cypress, or the sensitive murmurs of the willow or
poplar ! From some particular train of association,
she took great delight in seeing the waving boughs of
trees through a church window. All legends and
superstitions regarding trees and flowers, were pecu-
liarly dear to her. When alluding to these, and sim-
ilar fables, she would often quote the well-known lines
" Wage du zu irren und zu traumen,
Hohen sinn liegt oft in kind'schem spiel." 2
1 See Preface to the First Volume of Wordsworth's Poetical
2 " Oh ! fear thou not to dream with waking eye :
There lies deep meaning oft in childish play."
TheUa's Song Translated by Mrs. Hemans.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 105
One of her favourites amongst the many traditions
of this nature, was the Welsh legend regarding the
trembling of the aspen, 1 which, with a kindred super-
stition relating to the spotted arum, will be found
mentioned in the Woodwalk and Hymn, in Scenes and
Hymns of Life. And in the two sonnets, entitled
" Thoughts connected with Trees," which form part
of the Records of the Spring of 1834, she has revealed
to us yet more distinctly how much " deep meaning"
their " kindly whisperings" and "old sweet leaf sounds"
brought home to her breast.'
The howling of the wind at night had a very pecu-
liar effect upon her nerves nothing in the least
approaching to the sensation of fear, as few were
more exempt from that class of alarms usually called
nervous; but working upon her imagination to a
degree which was always succeeded by a reaction of
fatigue and exhaustion. The solemn influences thus
mysteriously exercised, are alluded to in many of her
poems, particularly in The Song of Night, 2 and in
The Voice of the Wind.
1 A somewhat similar tradition appears to exist in Denmark,
as shown by a poem of Ingemann's, of which a translation was
given in the Foreign Quarterly Review for June, 1830.
a "Among the many congenial ideas she found in the writings
of Richter, the following passage relating to Night was singu-
larly in unison with her own feelings : The earth is every day
overspread with the veil of Night, for the same reason as the
cages of birds are darkened, that we may the more readily
apprehend the higher harmonies of thought in the hush and quiet
of darkness. Thoughts, which day turns into smoke and mist,
stand about us in the night as lights and flames, even as the
column which fluctuates above the crater of Vesuvius, in the day
time appears a pillar of cloud, but by night a pillar of fire.' "
106 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
The sight and sound of the sea were always con-
nected in her mind with melancholy associations ; with
" Doubt, and something dark,
Of the old Sea some reverential fear ;" x
with images of storm and desolation, of shipwreck and
sea-burial : the last, indeed, was so often present to
her imagination, and has so frequently been introduced
into her poetry, that any one inclined to superstitious
presentiments might also have been disposed to fancy
it a fore-shadowing of some such dark fate in store
either for herself or for some one dear to her. These
associations, like those awakened by the wind, were
perfectly distinct from any thing of personal timidity,
and were the more indefinable, as she had never suf-
fered any calamity at all connected with the sea : none
of those she loved had been consigned to its reckless
waters, nor had she ever seen it in all its terrors, for
the coast on which her early years were passed is by
no means a rugged or dangerous one, and is seldom
visited by disaster.
In one of her later sonnets 2 on this subject, a chord
is struck, which may perhaps find an echo in other
" Yet, O blue deep !
Thou that no trace of human hearts dost keep,
Never to thee did love with silvery chain
Draw my soul's dream, which through all nature sought
What waves deny, some bower of steadfast bliss,
A home to twine with fancy, feeling, thought,
As with sweet flowers: But chastened Hope for this,
1 Wordsworth. 2 " A Thought of the Sea."
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 107
Now turns from earth's green valleys as from thee,
To that sole changeless world, where there is no more sea."
The same feeling is expressed in one of her letters :
" Did you ever observe how strangely sounds and
images of waters rushing torrents, and troubled ocean
waves, are mingled with the visionary distresses of
dreams and delirium ? To me there is no more per-
fect emblem of peace than that expressed by the
Scriptural phrase, " there shall be no more sea."
How forcible is the contrast between the essential
womanliness of these associations, so full of " the still
sad music of humanity," and the " stern delight" with
which Lord Byron, in his magnificent apostrophe to
the sea, exults in its ministry of wrath, and recounts,
as with a fierce joy, its dealings with its victim, man !
"The vile strength he wields
For earth's destruction, thou dost all despise,
Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,
And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray,
And howling, to his Gods, where haply lies
His petty hope in some near port or bay,
And dashesl him again to earth : there let him lay !"
Childe Harold, Canto iv. Stanza CLXXX.
In the spring of 1825, Mrs. Hemans, with her mother
and sister, and four of her boys, (che eldest having
been placed at school at Bangor,) removed from Bron-
wylfa to Rhyllon, another house belonging to her
brother, not more than a quarter of a mile from the
former place, and in full view from its windows. The
distance being so inconsiderable, this could, in fact,
scarcely be considered as a removal. The two houses,
each situated on an eminence, on opposite sides of the
108 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMAN3.
river Clvvyd, confronted each other so conveniently,
that a telegraphic communication was established be-
tween them (by means of a regular set of signals and
vocabulary, similar to those made use of in the navy),
and was carried on for a season with no little spirit,
greatly to the amusement of their respective inhabi-
Toothing could be less romantic than the outward
appearance of Mrs. Hemans's new residence a tall,
staring brick house, almost destitute of trees, and
unadorned (far, indeed, from being thus " adorned
the most") by the covering mantle of honeysuckle,
jessamine, or any such charitable drapery. 1 Bron-
wylfa, on the contrary, was a perfect bower of^ roses,
and peeped out like a bird's nest from amidst the
foliage in which it was embosomed. The contrast
between the two dwellings was thus playfully des-
canted upon by Mrs. Hernans, in her contribution to
a set of jeux d' esprit, called the Bronwylfa Budget
DRAMATIC SCENE BETWEEN BRONWYLFA AND RHYLLON. 2
BRONWYLFA, after standing" for some time in silent contempla-
tion O/RHYLLON, breaks out into the following vehement strain
of vituperation :
" You ugliest of fabrics ! you horrible eye-sore !
I wish you would vanish, or put on a vizor!
1 Its conspicuousness has since been a good deal modified by
the lowering of one story, and by the growth of the surrounding
3 Bronwylfa is pronounced as if written Bronwilva ; and per-
haps the nearest English approach to the pronunciation of Rhyl-
lon, would be, by supposing it to be spelt Rulhlon, the u sounded
as in but.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 109
In the face of the sun, without covering or rag on,
You stand and out-stare me, like any red dragon.
With your great green-eyed windows, in boldness a host,
(The only green things which, indeed, you can boast),
With your forehead as high, and as bare as the pate
Which an eagle once took for a stone or a slate, 1
You lift yourself up, o'er the country afar,
As who should say " Look at me ! here stands great R !'
I plant I rear forest trees shrubs great and small,
To wrap myself up in you peer through them all !
With your lean scraggy neck o'er my poplars you rise ;
You watch all my guests with your wide saucer eyes ;
(In a paroxysm of rage)
You monster! I would I could waken some morning,
And find you had taken French leave without warning;
You should never be sought like Aladdin's famed palace
You spoil my sweet temper you make me bear malice
For it is a hard fate, I will say it and sing,
Which has fixed me to gaze on so frightful a thing."
RHYLLON (with dignified equanimity')
Content thee, Bronwylfa, what means all this rage?
This sudden attack on my quiet old agel
I am no parvenu you and I, my good brother,
Have stood here this century facing each other;
And / can remember the days that are gone,
When your sides were no better array'd than my own.
Nay, the truth shall be told since you flout me, restore
The tall scarlet woodbine you took from my door!
Since my baldness is mock'd, and I'm forced to explain,
Pray give me my large laurustinus again.
(With a tone of prophetic solemnity)
Bronwylfa ! Bronwylfa ! thus insolent grown,
Your pride and your poplars alike must come down !
I look through the future (and far I can see,
As St. Asaph and Denbigh will answer for me,)
1 Bronwylfa is here supposed to allude to the pate of JEschylus,
upon which an eagle dropped a tortoise to crack the shell.
VOL. I. 10
110 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
And in spite of thy scorn, and of all thou hast done,
From my kind heart's brick bottom, I pity thee, Bron !
The end of thy toiling and planting will be,
That thou wilt want sunshine, and ask it of me.
Thou wilt say, when thou wak'st, looking out for the light,
"I suppose it is morning, for Rhyllon looks bright."
While I my green eyes with their tears overflow.
Come let us be friends, as we were long ago."
In spite, however, of the unromantic exterior of
her new abode, the earlier part of Mrs. Hemans's
residence at Rhyllon, may, perhaps, be considered as
the happiest of her life ; as far, at least, as the term
happiness could ever be fitly applied to any period
of it later than childhood. The house, with all its
ugliness, was large and convenient ; the view from
its windows beautiful and extensive, and its situation,
on a fine green slope, terminating in a pretty wood-
land dingle, peculiarly healthy and cheerful. Never,
perhaps, had she more thorough enjoyment of her
boys than in witnessing, and often joining in, their
sports, in those pleasant breezy fields, where the kites
soared so triumphantly, and the hoops trundled so
merrily, and where the cowslips grew as cowslips had
never grown before. * An atmosphere of home soon
gathered round the dwelling ; roses were planted,
and honeysuckles trained, and the rustling of the
solitary poplar near her window was taken to her
heart, like the voice of a friend. The dingle became
a favourite haunt, where she would pass many dream-
like hours of enjoyment with her books, and her own
sweet fancies, and her children playing around her.
Every tree and flower, and tuft of moss that sprung
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. Ill
amidst its green recesses, was invested with some in
dividual charm by that rich imagination, so skilled in
"Clothing the palpable and the familiar,
With golden exhalations of the dawn." l
Here, on what the boys would call " mamma's
sofa" a little grassy mound under her favourite
beech-tree she first read The Talisman, and has
described the scene with a loving minuteness in her
Hour of Romance.
" There were thick leaves ahove me and around,
And low sweet sighs, like those of childhood's sleep,
Amidst their dimness, and a fitful sound
As of soft showers on water. Dark and deep
Lay the oak shadows o'er the turf so still,
They seem'd but pictured glooms; a hidden rill
Made music such as haunts us in a dream
Under the fern-tufts; and a tender glearn
Of soft green light as by the glow-worm shed
Came pouring through the woven beech-boughs down."
Many years after, in the sonnet " To a Distant
Scene," she addresses, with a fond yearning, this well-
" Still are the cowslips from thy bosom springing,
O far-off grassy dell !"
How many precious memories has she hung round
the thought of the cowslip, that flower, with its " gold
coat" and " fairy favours," which is, of all others, so
associated with the " voice of happy childhood," and
was, to her, ever redolent of the hours when her
" Heart so leapt to that sweet laughter's tone j"
1 Coleridge's Translation of Wallenstein.
112 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
Another favourite resort was the picturesque old
bridge over the Clwyd ; and when her health (which
was subject to continual variation, but was at
this time more robust than usual) admitted of more
aspiring achievements, she delighted in roaming to
the hills ; and the announcement of a walk to Cwm, 1
a remote little hamlet, nestled in a mountain hollow,
amidst very lovely sylvan scenery, .about two miles
from Rhyllon, would be joyously echoed by her
elated companions, to whom the recollection of these
happy rambles must always be unspeakably dear.
Very often, at the outset of these expeditions, the
party would be reinforced by the addition of a cer-
tain little Kitty Jones, a child from a neighbouring
cottage, who had taken an especial fancy to Mrs.
Hemans, and was continually watching her move-
ments. This little creature never saw her without
at once attaching itself to her side, and confidingly
placing its tiny hand in hers. So great was her love
for children, and her repugnance to hurt the feelings
of any living creature, that she never would shake
off this singular appendage, but let little Kitty rejoice
in her "pride of place," till the walk became too
long for her capacity, and she would quietly fall
behind of her own accord.
Those who only know the neighbourhood of St.
Asaph, from travelling along its high-ways, can be
little aware how much delightful scenery is attainable,
within walks of two or three miles distance from Mrs.
Hemans's residence. The placid beauty of the Clwyd,
and the wilder graces of its sister stream, the Elwy,
1 Pronounced Coom.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 113
particularly in the vicinity of " Our Lady's Well/'
and the interesting rocks and caves at Cefn, are little
known to general tourists ; though, by the lovers of
her poetry, it will be remembered how sweetly she
has apostrophised the
" Fount of the chapel, with ages grey ;" 1
and how tenderly, amidst far different scenes, her
thoughts reverted to the
"Cambrian river, with slow music gliding
By pastoral hills, old woods, and ruined towers." 2
Every day was now bringing some fresh proof of
Mrs. Hemans's widely extending fame, and more
especially of the unprecedented favour with which
her writings were regarded in America. Many testi-
monials had reached her from various quarters, of the
high estimation in which she was held on the other
side of the Atlantic ; and she had already been en-
gaged in a pleasant interchange of correspondence
with Dr. Bancroft, the talented author of The History
of the United States, who was amongst the first to
distinguish her works amongst his countrymen, by
public criticism, or rather eulogy. But, in the autumn
of this year (1825,) a still more direct communication
was opened for her with a country to which she was
thenceforward to be bound by so many ties of grate-
ful and kindly feeling. This delightful intercourse
owed its beginning to the arrival unexpected, as
1 Our Lady's Well.
a Sonnet " To the River Clwyd in North Wales."
114 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
though it had fallen from the clouds of a packet
from Boston, containing a letter of self-introduction
from Professor Norton, of Cambridge University, New
England, informing her that a complete edition of her
works was wished for at Boston, and most liberally
offering to superintend its publication, and secure the
profits for her benefit. This packet, which also in-
cluded some interesting specimens of American litera-
ture, after crossing the Atlantic in safety, had a nar-
row escape of being consigned to the " treasures of
the deep," by a disaster which occurred to the party
who had the charge of it, in traversing the Ulver-
stone Sands. But it would seem as if a missive so
fraught with genuine kindness such as could proceed
only from the best and highest feelings of our nature
bore within itself a spell to resist all " moving acci-
dents by flood and field." By the courtesy of a stran-
ger, it was singled out from a motley pile of other
flotsome and jetsome found drying at the kitchen fire
of a little inn on the coast of Lancashire, and care-
fully forwarded to the destination where it was to
'impart so much gratification, and lead to such valu-
able results. Mrs. Hemans took infinite pleasure in
recounting the singular adventures of this memorable
packet ; and the " sea change" which all its contents
had suffered, more particularly a handsomely bound
volume, The Life of Mr. Charles Eliot, written by
the Professor himself made them only the more pre-
cious in her eyes. From this time forward, the arri-
val of such welcome tributes became of continual
occurrence, and she was supplied with all that was
most interesting in transatlantic literature, either
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 115
through the munificence of Mr. Norton, or the kind-
ness of the respective authors, with some of whom
she was thus brought into direct communication. In
this manner she made acquaintance with the noble
writings of Dr. Channing, and entered into a corre-
spondence with that distinguished author, for whose
lofty eloquence and fervent inculcations of truth and
morality, she entertained the highest respect, though
the religious convictions in which she differed from
him so widely, were absolutely a part of her being,
and, if possible, gained strength with every year of
her life. In her letters of this period, there is per-
petual allusion to the enjoyment spread throughout
the household by every fresh arrival from Boston.
The unfolding of the various treasures was a treat to
old and young; and the peculiar odour of the pine
wood which the books used to imbibe from the cases
on their voyage, was greeted as " the American smell,"
almost as joyfully as the aromatic breezes of the New
World were first inhaled by Columbus and his com-
panions. On one occasion, Mrs. Hemans was some-
what ludicrously disenchanted, through the medium
of a North American Review, on the subject of a
self-constituted hero, whose history (which suggested
her little poem, The Child of the Forests) she had
read with unquestioning faith and lively interest.
This was the redoubtable John Dunn Hunter, whose
marvellous adventures amongst the Indians by whom
he represented himself to have been carried away in
childhood were worked up into a plausible narrative,
admirably calculated to excite the sympathies of its
readers. But how far it was really deserving of them,
116 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
may be judged by the following extract from a letter
to a friend who had been similarly mystified: "I
send you a North American Review, which will
mortify C. and you with the sad intelligence that John
Hunter even our own John Dunn the man of the
panther's skin the adopted of the Kansas the
shooter with the rifle no, with the long bow is, I
blush to say it, neither more nor less than an impostor ;
no better than Psalmanazar ; no, no better than Car-
raboo herself. After this, .what are we to believe
again ? Are there any Loo Choo Islands 1 Was there
ever any Robinson Crusoe ? Is there any Rammohun
Roy ? All one's faith and trust is shaken to its foun-
dations. No one here sympathises with me properly
on this annoying occasion ; but you, I think, will know
how to feel, who have been quite as much devoted to
that vile John Dunn as myself."
Thus pleasantly passed the first year of Mrs. He-
mans's residence at Rhyllon ; enlivened by so many
tokens of good will from afar, and blessed by health,
sustaining love, and social enjoyment at home, where
the family circle had lately been increased by the
welcome return of her second brother 1 and his wife,
after an absence of several years in Canada. In this
kindly atmosphere of household affection, she cou-
rageously persevered in her daily routine of duties,
accomplishing them with a facility astonishing even
to those who best knew her powers ; and after long
mornings of application, hours spent first of all in
the instruction of her children, then in answering
1 Now Major Browne, Commissioner of Police in Dublin.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 117
countless letters, and satisfying the pressing claims of
impatient editors, she would shake off the burthen
of care, " like dew-drops from a lion's mane," and
emerge into the fresh air with all the glad buoyancy
of a school-boy released from his tasks, and with that
pure, child-like enjoyment of the world out of doors,
"The common air, the earth, the skies,
To her an opening Paradise."
" Soft winds and bright blue skies" (to quote from one
of her own letters) " make me, or dispose me to be, a
sad idler ; and it is only by an effort, and a strong
feeling of necessity, that I can fix my mind steadily
to any sedentary pursuit when the sun is shining over
the mountains, and the birds singing ' at heaven's
gate ;' but I find frost and snow most salutary moni-
tors, and always make exertion my enjoyment during
their continuance. For this reason I must say I delight
in the utmost rigour of winter, which almost seems to
render it necessary that the mind should become fully
acquainted with its own resources, and find means, in
drawing them forth, to cheer ' with mental light the
melancholy day.' " *
The tranquil cheerfulness of this period of Mrs.
Hemans's life, was destined to be but too soon over-
shadowed by the sorrow and sickness of some of the
dearest objects of her affections. The spring of 1826
was clouded by severe affliction in the house of her
eldest brother, whose once joyous hearth was now left
lonely and deserted ; and this visitation was speedily
followed by an alarming change in the health of that
admirable mother, whose unwearied spirit of active
118 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
self-forgetting, hopeful exertion, had ever been the
mainspring of happiness to all around her. So accus-
tomed were her children to her all-pervading superin-
tendence so indispensable seemed her patient coun-
sels, her ready sympathy, her unfailing love, that the
idea of her ever being taken away from them, seemed
a thing impossible to contemplate : they would have
thought the world (their own little world at least)
could not go on without her. And when, after the
fluctuating symptoms of a tedious illness of eight
months, and all those melancholy gradations which
mark from day to day the increasing weakness of the
sufferer whose dear companionship is first missed
from the daily walk, then from the household meal
and the family prayer, and lastly, to be found only in
the chamber of sickness itself when after a sorrow-
ful familiarity with all these indications of failing
strength, the rapid increase of her danger could no
longer be hid from their eyes there was still, even to
the very end, an obstinacy of hope within their hearts.
Her own extraordinary mental energy and unsubdued
cheerfulness for her death, like her life, was an
exemplification of the beautiful maxim, that
" True piety is cheerful as the day"
were, indeed, almost sufficient to excuse this fond delu-
sion. Her warm-hearted interest in all that was pass-
ing around her, was never extinguished by weariness
or suffering ; and that pure flame of maternal pride
which burnt steadiest to the last, was brightened
within a very few days of her death, by the arrival
of a treasure-store of fresh tributes from the " far
West" tributes, not merely of homage to the genius
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 119
of the poet, but of veneration for the high moral pur-
poses to which that genius was directed. Such records
were fitted to excite feelings far too deep for vanity
in her to w r hom they were addressed, and were meet
offerings to be laid on the dying bed of the mother,
from whom had been imbibed her love for " whatso-
ever things are true, whatsoever things are holy," and
whose fading eyes lighted up with exulting fondness
at these proofs of distant fame, which seemed to her,
as she emphatically declared, " like a bright star in
the West." 1
At length the solemn moment came, when those
kind eyes were sealed for ever. With what feelings
this stroke had been anticipated, may be seen in the
" Hymn by a bed of sickness," written almost at the
last ; how deeply it was felt, yet how meekly borne,
is best shown in Mrs. Hemans's own words, taken from
a letter one of the first she wrote after her bereave-
ment, to an old and much valued friend.
" I cannot suffer you to remain in anxiety about
me, which I know is painful. My soul is indeed
' exceeding sorrowful," dear friend ; but, thank God !
1 One of the last things on which she looked, was a little view
of " Bronwylfa, the residence of Mrs. Hemans," which had been
lithographed in America ; and the last poem she listened to was
the " Domestic Scene," afterwards published with the Hymns
for Childhood. In alluding to these lines some months after-
wards, Mrs. Hemans wrote " I read them to her by her bed-
side, about three weeks before I was deprived of her, and the
tender pleasure with which she heard them, has rendered them
to me a ' thing set apart.' " And the holy scene they record (a
picture from real life) was worthy of being enshrined in recol-
lections so sacred.
120 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
I can tell you that composure is returning to me, and
that I am enabled to resume those duties which so
imperiously call me hack to life. What I have lost,
none better knows than yourself. I have lost the
faithful, watchful, patient love, which for years had
been devoted to me and mine ; and I feel that the void
it has left behind, must cause me to bear ' a yearning
heart within me to the grave ;' but I have her exam-
ple before me, and I must not allow myself to sink.
" You have, I know, been told of the wonderful
collectedness she displayed to the last. Sickness and
suffering, and sorrowful affection we have witnessed ;
but no despondence, no perplexity, nothing which can
in any way connect horror with the awfulness of death.
I was almost in a stupor for a few days after, but it
is past, and I do not think my health will suffer, though
I now feel wearied and worn, and longing, as she did,
for rest. That rest was almost, indeed, perfect in her
last hours, so deep and still was the slumber into which
she had sunk, and which our selfish hearts almost
longed to hear broken even by the renewed sickness
of the preceding night ; for the utter separation from
us implied by such a state of solemn tranquillity,
seemed almost ' greater than we could bear.' Oh !
this earthly weakness, when we should praise God for
one ' departed this life in His faith and fear."
In a subsequent letter she thus alluded to her
mother's room. " I have frequently entered it since
its privation, and, indeed, am in the habit of going
there when my heart is more than usually oppressed.
It seems to me almost a place of refuge from care
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 121
and fear, which too often weigh down my spirit
This passage brings involuntarily to remembrance
the beautiful lines of Young
"The chamber where the good man meets his fate,
Is privileged beyond the common walk
Of virtuous life; quite in the verge of Heaven."
The following letter, addressed to the same friend
(then suffering from sorrows of her own), though not
written till some months later, belongs so completely
to the same train of feeling, as to claim an introduction
in this place.
" I have been haunted, since the arrival of your last
sad letter, by an anxiety to write to you, which it has
not, until to-day, been in my power to fulfil. The
intelligence startled us most painfully ; I almost felt
as if I had known the amiable and beloved friend
who is lost to you ; and words are inadequate to ex-
press what one feels for her sister, who had so much
interested us. So sudden a shock, too ! and yet
they talk of preparation; alas! we are ever unpre-
pared for the stroke which deprives us of those we
love ; it is impossible to believe it at hand ; I sup-
pose from the impossibility of conceiving that we can
and must live without them. I think first, naturally,
of her who is most bereaved ; but I well know what
you too must have felt upon this breaking of a tie of
many years; and wish I were near you to give you
such comfort as I could. I have received a letter of
consolation from Mr. Norton, on my own affliction,
from which I must copy you a part. If any human
VOL. I. 11
122 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
comfort could avail, it would surely be a view so pure
and elevating as this. I think, when the poor mourner
may be supposed to have regained a little calmness, I
shall write and send it to her. ' When one so dear is
taken away, an object of constant reference, respect,
and affection, a principal part of all our enjoyments,
a support in all affliction, one in whom we had lived,
one through whom the Spirit of God had powerfully
operated to produce all that is good within us ; the
whole aspect of things is changed, and the world
becomes a different place from what it was before.
It must ever remain so. But in time perhaps it may
become even a better and a brighter spot. The thick
veil which separates it from the World of Life and
Light, has been broken through for us by the friend
who is gone before ; and beams of glory may find their
way where it has been rent. Between us and that
world, a new and most affecting connection has been
formed ; for one whom we most loved is there. A deep
feeling of the reality and certainty of all which in
truth is real and certain, thus becomes permanent in
our minds, blending itself with all our best affections.
Blessed beyond all our conceptions of happiness are
the Dead who die in the Lord. They have rested
from the labours which we still must bear. They
have gone before us to prepare our place and our
welcome, and are waiting to receive us again, with
more than human love. Amid the trials of life, he
who feels his own weakness, must sometimes almost
wish that he, too, were as secure.'
" This is surely the language of real consolation ;
how different from that which attempts to soothe us
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 123
by general remarks on the common lot, the course of
nature, or even by dwelling on the release of the
departed from pain and trial. Alas ! I know by sad
experience, that the very allusion to those pains and
trials only adds tenfold to the inexpressible yearnings
of the heart when all is over, when Love can do no
There was one little trait which Mrs. Hemans loved
to dwell upon, as having afforded her a bright gleam
of comfort in the darkest hour of her affliction. On
the evening of her mother's death, 1 after long watch-
ing in the solemn stillness of the sick-chamber, she
went down for a while to solace her oppressed spirit
with the looks and voices of her children. She found
them all sitting hushed and awe-struck, round the fire.
They looked at her sad face with sorrowful wonder,
and her " little George" entreated to be allowed to
read her a chapter in the Bible "he was sure it
would do her good." May he never lose the remem-
brance of that holy hour ! tenderly as it was recorded
in the heart of his mother, who thus saw fulfilled her
birthday exhortation to him
" Yet ere the cares of life lie dim
On thy young spirit's wings,
Now in thy morn, forget not Him
From whom each pure thought springs.
" So, in the onward vale of tears,
Where'er thy path may be,
When strength hath bow'd to evil years,
He will remember thee.'
J llth January, 1827.
124 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
It is affecting to remember how soon, with a heart
so deeply wounded, she resumed the daily routine of
her maternal duties, not indulging in the " luxury of
grief," but returning to her appointed tasks with all
her wonted perseverance. In a letter relating to some
French books, which she wished to procure for one
of her boys, she goes on to say, " He has done with
fables, the old Veillees du Chateau, &c., and I have
not really the heart to venture upon Telemaque, which
was always a particular aversion of mine. I think
some parts of the Chateaux Suisses would cheer him
on a little, if you could spare them for a time. I want
to excite such an interest in the language, or rather
to make him feel so much at home in it, that he may
seek his amusement or information in it as readily as
in English. It is well for me, and I ought to be thank-
ful, that I have these objects of strong and permanent
interest, to win me from thoughts too deeply tinged
with sorrow. No less important duties could have
called me back to exertion with a voice at once so
sweet and so powerful."
To say that the loss of her mother was an irre-
parable one to Mrs. Hemans, is saying little. From
henceforth she was to be a stranger to any thing like
an equal flow of quiet, steadfast happiness. Fugitive
enjoyments entrancing excitements adulation the
most intoxicating society the most brilliant all
these, and more than these, were hers in after years ;
but the old home feeling of shelter and security was
gone for ever "removed like a shepherd's tent"
and how many mournful allusions to this " aching
void" were henceforth to be found in her poetry ; how
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 125
many, still more affecting, were poured forth in her
letters! 1 Her health, too, which for many years had
1 There is a very touching analogy between the effects of her
mother's loss upon Mrs. Hemans, and those produced by a simi-
lar cause upon another poetic nature, differing, indeed, from hers
as darkness from light, in all else save this one pure feeling.
The heart-piercing eloquence of the following letter (taken
from an article on the Life and Writings of Werner, in the
Foreign Quarterly Review, for January, 1838,) must find an
echo in so many bosoms, that any excuse for its introduction
" Extract of a letter from Werner to his friend Hitzig : * 1
know not whether thoa hast heard that on the 24th of February,
my mother departed here in my arms. My friend ! God knocks
with an iron hammer at our hearts; and we are duller than
stone if we do not feel it, and madder than mad if we think it
shame to cast ourselves into the dust before the All-powerful,
and let our whole so highly miserable self be annihilated in the
sentiment of His infinite greatness and long-suffering.
" This death of my mother the pure, royal, poet and martyr
spirit, who, for eight years, had lain continually on a sick-bed,
and suffered unspeakable things, affected me (much as for her
sake I could not but wish it) with altogether agonizing feelings.
Ah ! friend, how heavy do my youthful faults lie on me. How
much would I give to have my mother back to me but one week,
that I might disburthen my heavy-laden heart with tears of re-
pentance. My beloved friend ! give thou no grief to thy parents !
Ah! no earthly voice can wake the dead. God and parents
that is. the first, concern all else is secondary.'
The Reviewer then goes on to observe "This affection for
his mother forms, as it were, a little island of light and verdure
in Werner's history, where, amid so much that is dark and deso-
late, one feels it pleasant to linger.
" His poor mother, while alive, was the haven of all his earthly
wanderings ; and in after years, from amid far scenes and crusk-
126 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
been so delicate, and at all times required innumer-
able precautions, of which she was painfully regard-
less, now began to give token of alarming fragility.
The inflammatory symptoms to which she had always
had a tendency, recurred with unwonted frequency,
and she became liable to attacks of palpitation of the
heart, and distressing pain at the chest. These would
cause for a time complete and rapid prostration of
strength ; and then, with that natural elasticity for
which her constitution was so remarkable, there would
be an equally sudden reaction, and she would seem,
for a season, to have shaken off all disquieting symp-
toms. This tremulous state of health was naturally
accompanied by corresponding fluctuations of spirits ;
and their fitful gaiety, through which an under cur-
ing perplexities, he often looks back to her grave with a feeling
to which all bosoms must respond. See, for example, the pre-
face to his Mutter der Makkabaer, written at Vienna in 1819.
The tone of still, but deep and heartfelt sadness, which runs
through the whole of this piece, cannot be communicated in
extracts. We quote only a half stanza, which, except in prose,
we shall not venture to translate.
<Ich, dem der Liebe Kosen,
Und alle Frendenrosen,
Beym ersten Schaufeltosen
Am Muttergrab entflohn.'
I, for whom the caresses of love, and all roses of joy withered
away, as the first shovel with its mould sounded on the coffin of
" The date of her decease became a memorable era in his
mind, as may appear from the title which he gave long after-
wards to one of his most popular and tragical productions -Die
MEMOIR OF MRS. HBMANS. 127
rent of sadness might always be traced, was almost
more melancholy than their frequent depression. " My
spirits" thus she wrote of herself " are as variable
as the lights and shadows now flitting with the wind
over the high grass, and sometimes the tears gush
into my eyes when I can scarcely define the cause."
And in another letter of the same period " My health
is quite renewed, and my spirits, though variable, are
often all that they used to be. I am a strange being,
I think. I put myself in mind of an Irish melody,
sometimes, with its quick and wild transitions from
sadness to gaiety." This comparison was from her a
very expressive one, as she had always a peculiar
feeling for Irish music. " There breathes through it"
(she once wrote, and would often say,) " or perhaps I
imagine all this a mingling of exultation and despon-
dence, like funeral strains with revelry, a something
unconquerable, yet mournful, which interests me
deeply." Even yet more applicable to these " men-
tal lights and shades" are the similes in that well-
known passage from the works of Mrs. Joanna Baillie,
which she loved no less for its beauty, than from feel-
ing how appropriately it might have been written for
"Didst thou ne'er see the swallow's veering 1 breast,
Winging the air beneath some murky cloud,
In the sunn'd glimpses of a stormy day,
Shiver in silver brightness?
Or boatman's oar as vivid lightning flash
In the faint gleam, that like a spirit's path
Tracks the still water of some sullen lake 1
Or lonely tower, from its brown mass of woods,
Give to the parting of a wintry sun
128 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
One hasty glance, in mockery of the night,
Closing in darkness round it? Gentle friend!
Chide not her mirth who was sad yesterday,
And may be so to-morrow." 1
A few original fragments found after Mrs. Hemans's
death in one of her MS. books, may here be given as
belonging to this date.
" Oh, that we could but fix upon one eternal and
unchangeable Being, the affections which here we
pour forth, a wasted treasure, upon the dust! But
they are * of the earth, earthy ;' they cling with vain
devotedness to mortal idols ; how often to be thrown
back upon our own hearts, and to press them down
with a weight of ' voiceless thoughts,' and of feelings
which find no answer in the world I"
" Oh, that the mind could throw from it the burthen
of the past for ever ! Why is it that voices and tones
and looks, which have passed away, come over us
with a suddenness and intenseness of remembrance
which make the heart die within us, and the eyes
overflow with fruitless tears ? Who shall explain the
mysteries of the wprld within ?"
" 'As the hart panteth for the water-brooks,' or as
the captive for the free air of Heaven, so does the
ardent spirit for the mingling of thought with thought,
for the full and deep communion of kindred natures.
The common, every-day intercourse of human beings
how poor it is how heartless ! how much more
1 From the Tragedy of Orra.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 129
does it oppress the mind with a sense of loneliness,
than the deepest solitude of majestic nature ! Can it
indeed be, that this world has nothing higher, nobler,
more thrilling ? and the thousands of minds that seem
to dwell contented within this narrow circle, do they
dream of nothing beyond? I often ask myself this
question in what we call society, and what should be
the answering thought? * I thank thee that I am not
as this man ;' or, < Surely this man is happier than I! 9
Yet, when a sudden spark of congenial thought or
feeling seems to be struck from the mind of another
by our own, is not the joy so great as almost to com-
pensate for hours and days of weariness ? Is it not
like the swift breaking in of sunshine through the
glades of a forest, sending gladness to their very
depths ? Yes ; but * few and far between' are such
moments ; widely severed the fresh fountains at which
we drink strength and hope, to bear us on through
the desert beyond."
" How the name of love is profaned in this world !
Truly does Lord Byron call ' circumstance' an ' unspi-
ritual God.' What strange coarse ties, coarse but
not strong, one daily sees him forming ! not of the
" silver cords" of the heart, but of the homely house-
wifely worsted of interest convenience economical
consideration. One wonders how they are to resist
the wear and tear of life, or how those whom they
link together are to be held side by side through sor-
row, difficulty, disappointment, without the- strong
affection which ' overcometh all things,' and ennobles
all things even the humblest offices performed in
ISO MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
attendance at the sick-bed of one. we love. What
work, what sacrifice is there which a deep, true,
powerful feeling cannot dignify ?"
" Is not the propensity of ardent and affectionate
natures to love and trust, though disappointed again
and again, as a perpetual spring in the heart, ever
throwing out fresh buds and flowers, though but to be
nipped by the ' killing frost ?' Far better thus, than
to be bound in the lifelessness of winter."
" What is fame to a heart yearning for affection,
and finding it not ? Is it not as a triumphal crown to
the brow of one parched with fever, and asking for
one fresh healthful draught the ' cup of cold
water V "
" Is it real affliction ill health disappointment
or the ' craving void that aches within the breast' for
sympathies which perhaps earth does not afford that
weans us most from life ? I think the latter. If wt
could only lie down to die as to sleep, how few would
not willingly throw off what Wordsworth calls
< The weight
Of all this unintelligible world !'
and ' flee aw r ay, and be at rest.' "
" ' The ancients feared death; we, thanks to
Christianity, fear only dying ;' so says the author of
the Guesses at Truth, and surely it is even so. I, that
have seen a spirit pass away in sleep, in soft and
solemn repose that almost melted into death, should
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 131
scarcely fear even the latter ; and yet, the very still-
ness of such a parting is almost too awful for human
nature to sustain. It seems as if there should be last
words of love, and tears, and blessings, when the
strong ties that bound soul to soul are broken ; but
to call and not to be answered by the voice that ever
before spoke kindness and comfort ! who can sound
the deep gulf of separation that must be ' set between,'
when that moment arrives V'
" Our home ! what images are brought before us
by that one word ! The meeting of cordial smiles,
and the gathering round the evening hearth, and the
interchange of thoughts in kindly words, and the
glance of eyes to which our hearts lie open as the
day ; there is the true ' City of Refuge ;* where are
we to turn when it is shut from us or changed ? Who
ever thought his home could change I And yet those
calm, and deep, and still delights, over which the
world seems to have no breath of power, they too are
like the beautiful summer clouds, tranquil as if fixed
to sleep for ever in the pure azure of the skies, yet
all the while melting from us, though imperceptibly
passing away !' '
Innumerable are the projects contained in these
MS. volumes/ where ideas were written down at the
moment they occurred, to be worked out at future
leisure. Sometimes the whole outline of a long poem
is drawn out ; then follows a list of subjects for lyrics ;
or some suddenly awakened association, or newly sug-
gested simile is recorded in hasty and unstudied phrase.
132 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
It may be interesting to give a few specimens of these
memoranda. The following was the plan of " The
Picture Gallery," designed to be a connected series of
poems, of which the only one ever completed was that
called " The Lady of the Castle."
"A young Bride leads her husband through the cas-
tle of her ancestors, an ancient chateau in Provence
or Languedoc. Her favourite haunt is the Picture
Gallery, where she passes hours with him every day,
relating to him the stories of the sons and daughters
of her house. These tales are :
" That of the celebrated Countess of Tripoli, for
whom a troubadour died of love.
" Of the haughty Lady of Montemar, who will not
weep at the death of her son, but falls down dead
upon his bier.
66 Of a youth of that house, who dies for his king,
like Herbert de St. Clair. He had been brought up
with a young king as his friend and companion ; they
come down together on a visit to the father of the
youth ; the castle is besieged by rebels, and the youth
receives in his own heart an arrow aimed at that of
his king. The king laments him bitterly, and visiting
his tomb many years after, on his return from a great
victory, weeps over it like a child.
" Story of < The Lady of the Castle.'
" Of two brothers, who are represented in the same
picture. After living together in the greatest har-
mony, they become attached to the same lady, who
returns the affection of the younger. Their marriage-
day is fixed, and she, after apparently languishing in
sickness a few days previously, falls dead at the altar.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 133
not without suspicions of poison, which attach to the
elder brother, who has disappeared, and is not heard
of for years. The younger, in despair, retires to a
Carthusian monastery, the regulations of which are
most severe. Here, after several years' seclusion, he
finds himself dying, and implores the abbot, if ever
the brother on whom so dreadful a suspicion has fallen,
should visit that abode, to assure him that he had died
in charity with him. The abbot, moved with com-
passion, introduces his brother, who had been some
time in the convent unknown to him. They are re-
conciled the younger dies.
" Of a beautiful Saracen female, who comes to the
castle as the bride of the eldest son, by whom she has
been brought home from the East. Her being a
Saracen, though converted, causes discord between
the father and son ; and one day, during the absence
of the latter, she throws herself at the old man's feet,
with her infant daughter, and entreats him to dispose
of her at his will, and send her back to her own land,
so that she may no longer be the cause of dissension
between him and his son. This softens his heart ; he
takes her to his bosom blesses her as his daughter
is tended by her in his last illness, and expires in
" Of a fair girl, who watches from the battlements
the combat in which her brother is engaged. She
sees him fall, and left deserted as the army are charg-
ing onward. She rushes down to his assistance, and
is killed herself whilst binding up his wounds.
" Of Constance, a daughter of the house, who being
left motherless at an early age, devotes herself to the
VOL. I. 12
134 MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS.
care of her infant sisters, and refuses to marry, though
tenderly attached to a noble youth, worthy of her
affection. Her lover falls in a distant land, and after
all her duties are fulfilled, she goes on a pilgrimage
to his grave, returns, and closes her days in peace.
She possesses a gift of sacred song, and the young
bride, Azalais, concludes her tales with an evening
hymn of Constance's. She then bids the portraits of
her ancestors farewell, as the day is come on which
she is to leave the dwelling of her father for that of
" Plan of a Poem to be called ' The Death-led of
St. Louis. 9
" Encampment of St. Louis in Carthage under pros-
perous auspices. The Oriflamme. The plague, which
is most dreadful when all nature is smiling, attacks
his army. Death of warriors in a foreign land while
the troubadours and minstrels are singing in their
distant homes. The mysterious power of Africa in
repelling all invaders thousands buried beneath the
sands. Marius Scipio Dido Sophonisba Wife
of Asdrubal Cato. Evocation of the gods of Car-
thage. Those shores had still another and a nobler
lesson to learn. Morning of the death of St. Louis
tillness of the camp warlike and triumphant sounds
upon the sea during his last moments. Address to the
Mediterranean. Disembarkation of Charles of Anjou.
Bitter feelings occasioned by turning from the bed of
death to the duties of active life. Mournfulness of
the victory gained over the infidels, after the death
of St. Louis. Departure of the Crusaders."
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 135
" Fountain superstitions. Different marvellous pro-
perties anciently attributed to the waters of fountains.
Those are lovely spots of earth where they rise, whe-
ther amongst the laurel groves of Greece, or the
citrons of Italy. It is no marvel if man, in darker
ages, has bestowed a presiding genius on each of
" A Norwegian Legend. A traveller in Norway,
standing amongst some Hunengraber (ancient northern
tombs,) and gigantic stone altars, is told the legend
of the scene. That during a time of great public
calamity, the Priests of Odin had declared it to be
necessary for the king of the country to offer up the
treasure he most valued. They had accordingly seiz-
ed upon his son, a gallant boy of eight years old. He
was about to be bound upon the stone of sacrifice,
when his mother, a Scandinavian princess, rushed in,
declaring that she was the being whom the king loved
best, and must therefore be sacrificed instead of her
son. The King having darted forward to drag her
away, she appealed to this as a proof, gave her son
into his arms, and rushed upon the sacrificial knife of
" A traveller, sleeping on the banks of the Oronoco,
has heard the mysterious sounds of the Laxas de
musica. 1 He wakens his Indian guide, who congratu-
lates him on having heard them, and tells him they
are the voices of his departed friends from the regions
1 Rocks which are said to emit musical tones at sunrise.
136 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
of the dead, giving him assurance that they are happy,
and that they watch over him : that he need not now
fear the paw of the tiger, nor the hite of the serpent,
for he is thus protected ; but far happier are they
who so guard him."
" A scene of surpassing beauty in Switzerland, with
a cottage, inhabited by the wife of a chamois hunter.
Soliloquy of a wanderer, who imagines that no human
passions can ever have disturbed the repose of that
sublime solitude. The chamois hunter is brought in
"The maid before the wizard's glass her mind,
wearied with the excitement of its scenes, turns in
joy to the green fields and the skies."
" On leaving a church full of sculpture, and coming
into the open air. The blessing of those feelings
which withdraw us occasionally from thoughts too
high and awful."
"THOUGHTS AND SIMILES.
"Distance to be dreaded by those who love, as
so completely dividing the current of their thoughts
and sympathies. One may be revelling at a banquet,
whilst the other lies on a bed of pain, one walking
at evening in the summer woods, whilst the other is
tossing on the stormy wave, at the moment of ship-
" Our search into the futurity of the grave, after
the excitements of life, compared to the first going
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 137
forth into the darkness, after leaving a brilliant hall,
with lights and music ; but, by degrees, we become
accustomed to the obscurity; star after star looks
through it, and the objects begin to clear."
" Virtues and powers concealed in the mind, com-
pared to the landscapes and beautiful forms sometimes
found in the heart of a block of marble."
" Ruins of a magnificent city seen under the waves,
(as those of Tyre are said to be), like the traces of
man's lofty original, obscured and faintly discernible
through the shadows of mortality."
" Water thrown upon ancient paintings and reviving
their forms and colours, like any sound or circum-
stance reviving images of the past."
" Strong passions, discernible under a cold exterior,
like the working of water, seen under a crust of ice."
Such are a few specimens, selected from amongst
hundreds thus recorded, of the " struggling harmonies"
which filled that ever peopled and ever busy imagina-
tion. Various as are these themes of song, it will be
seen how completely they are all attuned to the key-
note of her own woman's heart; affection pure,
holy, self-sacrificing ennobling life, surviving death,
and sending Back " a token and a tone" even from
the world of spirits. 1
1 Amongst the many subjects of a graver cast are the follow
A Jewish funeral at midnight in the valley of Ajalon.
138 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
Mrs. Hemans's literary correspondence was now
continually on the increase. Scarcely a day passed
without bringing some new communication, interesting
either from its own originality, or from the distin-
guished name of the writer. It was with no less
truth than kindliness that Mrs. Gran,t of Laggan thus
wrote to her : " Shenstone complains of his hard fate,
in wasting a lonely existence, ' not loved, not praised,
not known.' How very different is your case I Praised
by all that read you, loved by all that praise you,
and known, in some degree, wherever our language
It is pleasing to dwell upon the generous apprecia-
Maronite procession round the Cedars of Lebanon.
These " Cedar Saints" had always a great hold upon her ima-
gination, and she eagerly sought out all the descriptions of them
given by Eastern travellers. How truly after her own heart,
would have been the reverential spirit and poetic feeling with
which the sublime scenery of Lebanon has been described by
Lord Lindsay, whose graphic touches, " the stately bearing and
graceful repose of the young cedars," contrasted with " the wild
aspect and frantic attitude of the old ones, flinging abroad their
knotted and muscular limbs like so many Laocoons," 1 bring the
impressive scene so completely before the mind's eye ! And how
she would at once have transferred to some one of her " Books
of Gems," that lovely picture, which haunts one like a dream,
the " view of the Red Sea from the plain where the children of
Israel encamped after leaving Elim ;" and where the rocks, " now
so silent, must have re-echoed the song of Moses, and its ever
returning chorus, ' Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed
gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the
sea! 1 " 2
J Lord Lindsay's Letters, Vol. I. p. 212. Idem, Vol. I. p. 315.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 139
tion with which she was regarded by the gifted of her
own sex, and the frank, confiding spirit which always
marked her intercourse with them. She would rejoice
in their success with true sisterly disinterestedness ;
and the versatility of her tastes, to which every thing
really good in its kind was sure to be acceptable
(always excepting science and statistics, from which
she stood aloof in silent awe), gave her a capacity for
enjoying with equal zest, the noble simplicity of Mrs.
Joanna Baillie, the graphic reality of Miss Mitford,
the true-hearted originality of Mary Howitt, or the
exquisite tenderness of Miss Bowles. The Sunday
Evening of the latter that pure and pious little
poem, which, in its own sweet language,
"Falls on the heart like dew
On the drooping heather-bell,"
was first introduced to Mrs. Hemans through a
strangely circuitous medium, having been sent to her
from Canada by her brother, in a Montreal gazette.
Long before they knew even the name of its author,
it had gained for itself the love and favour of the
whole household. It was copied by the elders, learnt
by the children, and is now consecrated by recollec-
tions far dearer than belong to the finest monuments
of genius; and which involuntarily excite a feeling
of affectionate intimacy with the writer. Miss Bowles's
Solitary Hours were often made by Mrs. Hemans the
companions of her own ; and had she lived to read
The Birthday, its simple pathos and deep tenderness
would have awakened many an answering tone in her
The letter in which she introduced herself to Miss
140 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
Mitford, describes what she would have expressed to
others even yet more warmly the thorough relish
with which she enjoyed the unrivalled powers of
description and fine old English feelings of that delight-
ful writer, who Is as completely identified with " the
greenwood tree," and all the fresh, free thoughts
belonging to it, as Robin Hood himself.
"Rhyllon, St.Asaph, June 6th, 1827.
" I can hardly feel that I am addressing an entire
stranger in the author of Our Village? and yet I know
it is right and proper that I should apologize for the
liberty I am taking. But really, after having accom-
panied you again and again, as I have done, in ' vio-
letting' and seeking for wood-sorrel; after having been
with you to call upon Mrs. Allen in ' the dell,' and
becoming thoroughly acquainted with May and Lizzy,
I cannot but "hope that you will kindly pardon my
intrusion, and that my name may be sufficiently known
to you to plead my cause. There are some writers
whose works we cannot read without feeling as if we
really had looked with them upon the scenes they
bring before us, and as if such communion had almost
given us a claim to something more than the mere
intercourse between author and 'gentle reader.' Will
you allow me to say that your writings have this effect
upon me, and that you have taught me, in making
me know and love your Village so well, to wish for
further knowledge, also, of her who has so vividly
impressed its dingles and coppices upon my imagina-
tion, and peopled them so cheerily with healthful and
MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS. 141
happy beings? I believe, if I could be personally
introduced to you, that I should, in less than five min-
utes, begin to enquire about Lucy and the lilies of the
valley, and whether you had succeeded in peopling
that shady border in your own territories * with those
shy flowers.' My boys, the constant companion of my
walks about our village, and along our two pretty
rivers, the Elwy and Clwyd, are not less interested in
your gipsies young and old, your heroes of the cricket-
ground, and, above all Jack Hatch! woeful and
amazed did they all look, when it was found that Jack
Hatch could die ! But I really must come to the aim
and object of this letter, which I fear you may almost
begin to look upon as * prose run mad.' I dare say
you laugh sometimes, as I am inclined to do myself, at
the prevailing mania for autographs : but a very kind
friend of mine in a distant country does no such thing,
and I am making a collection for him, which I should
think (and he too, I am sure) very much enriched by
your name. If you do me the favour to comply with
this request, it will give me great pleasure to hear
from you, under cover to the Bishop of St. Asaph.
With sincere esteem, I beg you to believe me, Madam,
your faithful servant,
This application was answered by Miss Mitford in
just the kind and cordial tone which might have been
expected from her ; and Mrs. Hemans had the pleasure
of transmitting to Mr. Norton, the friend for whom
she was making the collection of autographs, " that
pretty and joyous song" (as she called it in her letter
142 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
of acknowledgment), " The Welcome Home," in Miss
Mitford's own hand-writing. " Your autograph," she
wrote some months later, " which 1 transmitted to my
American friends, was very gratefully received, and is
enshrined in a book amidst I know not how many
other ' bright names :' for aught I know, Washington
himself may be there, side by side with you ; and not
improbably is, for they are going to send me an origi-
nal letter of his, which I shall prize much."
Several years after, when this song was published
in the fifth volume of Our Village, the following note
was appended to it by the warm-hearted writer. " I
have a kindness for this little song quite unconnected
with any merit of its own if merit it have since it
formed one of the earliest links in my correspondence
with the richly gifted poetess, the admirable and
delightful woman, Mrs. Hemans. She will remember
the circumstance. Our correspondence has sometimes
languished since, but the friendship that sprang from
it I humbly hope can never alter."
The correspondence had indeed " languished," with
many others not less valued ; for by that time (1833)
the delicacy of Mrs. Hemans's health had obliged her
in a great measure to give up letter writing, her
reclining posture making it necessary to adopt the use
of the pencil instead of the pen. But the warmth of
her feelings towards those she loved and admired con-
tinued undiminished, and when this affectionate little
notice was unexpectedly brought before her, she
described herself as having been moved almost to
tears by the genuine cordiality of its tone, while it
gladdened her heart like a sudden meeting with a
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 143
friend. It was one of her many projects at that
period to write a volume of prose sketches Recollec-
tions of a Poet's Childhood, and descriptions of scenes
which had most interested and struck her in after
years and this she intended to dedicate to Miss Mit-
But this is anticipating. To return to the year
1827, and to a letter to Mrs. Joanna Baillie, in which
she writes " You say, my dear madam, that you
wish you had something to send me. May I, thus
emboldened, ask you for something which I have long
wished to possess, but have not been able to procure,
as I believe it is at present out of print, your de-
lightful little drama of The Beacon? or perhaps
you can guide me as to where I may meet with it. I
have an edition of your works, containing the Plays
1 That little song, with its name of happy omen, " The Wel-
come Home," does not cease to be identified with the pleasantest
recollections. Mr. Norton will forgive the liberty that is taken
in making the following extract from one of his letters, for the
sake of showing how such remembrances are cherished in a far-
distant land. " Most of my autographs have a peculiar value to
me from their associations with the donors as well as the writers ;
and as I shall record the names of the former in the volume (the
first) which I am just about completing, it will be to me a book
full of deeply interesting recollections. I have a particular value
for some pieces in my collection, but for none more than a song
sent by Miss Mjtford to Mrs. Hemans, and given by the latter to
me, which Miss Mitford mentions in the last volume of Our Vil-
lage in a manner to make it an object of curiosity and feeling as
long as Our Village or Mrs. Hemans's poetry is read ; that is, as
long as English literature exists." Cambridge, N. E. 24th May,
144 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
on the Passions (with the exception of Orra), Ethwald,
Rayner, and Constantine, and I have The Family
Legend separate; but The Beacon I have not met
with since I read it almost in childhood, and made
some extracts from it which would amuse you if you
could see them in the school-girl hand of fourteen or
fifteen. That heart-cheering song,
* The absent will return the long, long lost be found,'
I remember being more especially pleased with it
breathes such a spirit of hope and joy ; and I am by
nature inclined to both, though early cares have
chastened and subdued a mind, perhaps but too ardent
" I have another favour to request ; it is the per-
mission to dedicate to you, of whom my whole sex
may be proud, a work which I shall probably publish
in the course of this present year, and which is to be
called Records of Woman. If you do not object to
this, I will promise that the inscription shall be as
simple as you could desire.
" My children were much pleased by your kind
mention of them ; the one who had been reading
Ethwald with such interest, was not a little amused
to find himself designated as a girl : I have none but
boys, a circumstance I often am inclined to regret ;
for I married so young that they are even now be-
ginning to spring from childhood into youth them-
selves, and, in the course of a few years I must expect
that they will long for, and be launched into, another
world than the green fields in which they are now
contented to play around me. Let me, however, be
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 145
thankful for the happiness I at present enjoy, and for
the privilege which peculiar circumstances have
afforded me, and which is granted to so few mothers,
of being able myself to superintend their education,
and give what I hope will be enduring impressions to
their minds. Now that I am upon this subject, dear
madam, I am strongly tempted to relate a little anec-
dote which I think will interest you (mammas are
always prone to believe their children must be inter-
esting) of one of them at eleven years old. I had
been reading to him Lord Byron's magnificent address
to the sea
'Roll on, thou deep and dark-blue ocean, roll!'
He listened in almost breathless attention, and ex-
claimed, the moment I had finished it 'It is very
grand indeed! but how much finer it would have
been, mamma, if he had said at the close, that God
had measured out all those waters with the hollow
of his hand !' I could not help being struck with
the true wisdom thus embodied in the simplicity of
The same remark may be applied to an anecdote
related in a letter to another friend, about this time.
" Charles" (then eight years old) " is sitting by me,
reading Warton's Death-bed Scenes, with which he is
greatly delighjfced. One of the stories is called < The
Atheist,' and on my explaining to him what the word
meant, which he did not know, he exclaimed, with
the greatest astonishment " Not believe in a God,
mamma ! Who does he expect made the world and
his own body?' "
VOL. I. 13
146 MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS.
These little traits call to mind the concluding verse
of Wordsworth's " Anecdote for Fathers ;"
"O dearest, dearest boy! my heart
For better lore would seldom yearn,
Could I but teach the hundredth part
Of what from thee I learn."
In the autumn of 1827, at the urgent request of
Mr. Alaric Watts, who was then forming a gallery
of portraits of the living authors of Great Britain,
Mrs. Hemans was prevailed upon to sit for her pic-
ture. The artist selected on this occasion was Mr.
W. E. West, an American by hirth, who had passed
some time in Italy, and painted the last likeness ever
taken of Lord Byron, and also one of Madame Guic-
cioli, which was engraved in one of the annuals.
During his stay at Rhyllon, where he remained for
some weeks, he finished three several portraits of
Mrs. Hemans; one for Mr. Alaric Watts, one which
is now in the possession of Professor Norton, and a
third, which he most courteously presented to Mrs.
Hemans's sister, to whom it was even then a treasure,
and is now become one of inestimable value. This
likeness, considered by her family as the best ever
taken of her, is the one which suggested Mrs. He-
mans's affecting lines, " To my own portrait." The
first-named of these pictures has now, it is understood,
passed into the hands of Mr. Fisher, the proprietor of
The Drawing-room Scrap-Book. Engravings from it
have appeared in that work and in The Christian Keep-
sake ; but they are any thing but satisfactory ; and
give the idea of a sallowness of complexion and stern-
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 147
ness of countenance, as different from the original as
possible. It is, however, only fair to repeat the re-
mark already made, and in which all those who were
accustomed to study the play of her features must
concur that there never was a countenance more
difficult to transfer to canvas; so varying were its
expressions, and so impossible is it to be satisfied with
the one which can alone be perpetuated by the artist.
The great charm of Mr. West's picture is its perfect
freedom from any thing set or constrained in the air ;
and the sweet, serious expression, so accordant with
her maternal character, which recalls her own lines,
" Mother ! with thine earnest eye
Ever following silently," 1
and which made one of her children remark, in glan-
cing from it to the bust, executed some years after by
Mr. Angus Fletcher, " The bust is the poetess, but the
picture is all mother"
Even yet more difficult than to depict the anima-
tion of her countenance, would it be to give any ade-
quate idea of the brilliant versatility of her conversa-
tion ; its delicate wit, its engaging playfulness, and
that perpetual flow of allusion and illustration, which
proved her possession of inexhaustible stores of know-
ledge, far more general than her writings, from the
individuality of their character, ever brought into
evidence. Many people, who had prepared them-
selves to see in the author of The Sceptic, and The
Forest Sanctuary, a " potent, grave, and reverend"
1 From The Hour of Prayer.
148 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
personage, whom it would be necessary to approach
with a solemn air, and a formal complimentary ad-
dress, were as much astonished by her frankness and
vivacity, as by her thorough freedom from preten-
sion, and everything approaching to the technicalities
of a " learned lady." All these she held as much in
detestation as she did the duty compliments and con-
ventional homage of those by whom every intellec-
tual woman is indiscriminately treated as a bas bleu,
and saluted in some such strain of hyperbole as used
to prevail in the Delia Cruscan coteries of Hayley
and Miss Seward ; whilst no one could be more alive
to the delight of being really understood and appre-
ciated, or of knowing that anything she had written
had found its way into the depths of any kind, and
true, and loving heart.
She had that quick sense of the ludicrous, which is
the frequent concomitant of an intense perception of
the beautiful, and few could have wielded the shafts
of ridicule more effectually ; yet it has been truly
said, that " no sharp or scornful speech is on record
against her." Sarcasm she deprecated as unwomanly
and unamiable ; personalities were ever distasteful to
her, and, from the sensitiveness of her own nature,
she instinctively learned a " thoughtful tenderness" for
others. Sincerity, in however grotesque a guise,
always insured her respect ; and its contrary, though
clothed in "paroles d'or et de sole" was, of all others,
the thing of which she was most intolerant. The
blended loftiness and simplicity of her nature a union
so little to be understood by the commonplace and the
worldly exposed her to perpetual misconstructions.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS* 149
None but her most intimate friends could fully appre-
ciate her varied powers, and frank, deep affections.
Amongst those chosen few, her endearing guilelessness
her uncomplaining sorrows her susceptibility to
kindness, on which her peculiar position made her
lean so trustingly her high aspirations and gentle
charities her very self-forget fulness, which seemed
to require the presence of some ever watchful and
tenderly ministering spirit all these awakened a
mingled feeling of admiration, honour, anxiety, and
protecting care, which amounted j:o ajbsolute enthu-
siasm. In this spirit, one who knew her long and well,
wrote of her, with an honest warmth at which few
could have the heart to cavil. " Nothing but igno-
rance or ill-nature could point out a marring trait in
a woman's nature, in which there were no faults that
were not better in themselves, and more engaging,
than the virtues or merits, whatever people choose to
call them, of most others." When amongst those she
loved and trusted (and with her, indeed, these terms
were synonymous), she would give herself up, with
childlike abandon, to the mood of the moment, what-
ever it might be. Her first impulse was to impart to
her friends whatever had delighted or amused herself;
and in this way, she would good-humouredly enjoy
with them the strange proofs of celebrity the whim-
sical tributes, the adulatory letters, the overstrained
compliments, which were showering down upon her
daily. Yet nothing would have distressed her more
than the idea of any of these communications ever
being held up to public ridicule nothing could be
more repugnant to her feelings than to give pain to
150 MEMOIR OP MRS. REMANS.
any one who had wished to give her pleasure, or to
incur the charge of requiting with ingratitude any-
thing meant in kindness.
During the winter of 1827, her health was very
variable, and the inflammatory attacks to which she
was always subject, were unfortunately increased both
in frequency and violence, by her personal careless-
ness, which no warnings or entreaties could control,
and by her unconquerable dislike to the adoption of
the necessary remedies, and the being laid up as an
acknowledged invalid. This made her unwilling to
confess what she suffered, as long as it was possible to
bear on in silence. " Entre nous," she wrote to a
friend, " my chest and side have begun to burn again
fiercely. I have not yet mentioned the recurrence of
this pain at home, because they would make me put
blisters on, and I am in hopes, if I keep quiet, that I
shall get rid of it without such abominations."
" Do not be uneasy about this fiery pain of mine ;
I am told that it is not from the lungs, but only nervous,
and in this opinion I am inclined to agree, because it
generally attacks me after I have been thinking
intently, or after any agitation of mind."
All this time, her imagination was at work more
busily than ever; new thoughts and fresh fancies
seemed to spring up "as willows by the water-courses,"
and the facility with which her lyrics were poured
forth, approached, in many instances, to actual impro-
visation. When confined to her bed, and unable to
use a pen, she would often employ the services of
those about her, to write down what she had com
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 151
posed. " Felicia has just sent for me," wrote her
amanuensis on one of these occasions, " with pencil
and paper, to put down a little song, 1 which, she said,
had come to her like a strain of music, whilst lying in
the twilight under the infliction of a blister ; and as I
really think, ' a scrap' (as our late eccentric visiter
would call it) composed under such circumstances, is,
to use the words of Coleridge, a ' psychological curio-
sity,' I cannot resist copying it for you. It was sug-
gested by a story she somewhere read lately, of a
Greek islander, carried off to the Vale of Tempe, and
pining amidst all its beauties, for the sight and sound
of his native sea."
One of the pieces of this date is thus mentioned by
herself. "I am so glad you liked 'Fairy Favours.'
It is, indeed, filled with my own true and ever yearn-
ing feeling ; that longing for more affection, more con-
fidence, more entire interchange of thought, than I
am ever likely to meet with. However, I will not
repine, whilst I have friends who love me as you do."
To Mrs. Joanna Baillie, she wrote, " with the return
of the violet," " It seems very long since I have had
any communication with you ; but this privation has
been my own fault, or rather my misfortune ; for a
good deal of illness during the winter compelled me to
give up all other occupation, for that particularly
uninteresting one taking care of myself, or rather
allowing others to take care of me. I know not how
it is, but I always feel so ashamed of the apparent
egotism and selfishness attendant on indisposition
l " Where is the Seal"
152 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
the muffling one's self up, taking the warmest place,
shrinking from the mirthful noises of those who are in
full health, &c. &c., that I believe I am apt to fall
into the contrary extreme, and so, in the end, to occa-
sion ten times more trouble than I should have done
with a little proper submission. But a truce to the
remembrances of indisposition, now that the Spring is
really come forth with all her singing-birds and violets.
It seems as if sadness had no right to a place amongst
the bright and fair things of the season.
" Dr. Channing has lately published a very noble
essay on the character of Napoleon, occasioned by
Sir Walter Scott's Life of that dazzling but most
unheroic personage. I wish you may meet with it ; I
am sure that the lofty thoughts embodied by its writer,
in his own fervid eloquence, could not fail to delight
you ; and his high views of moral beauty are really
freshening to the heart, which longs to pour itself
forth in love and admiration, and finds so little in the
everv-day world whereon such feelings may repose.
" The little volume, Records of Woman, which you
kindly gave me permission to inscribe to you, is now
in the press, and I hope I shall soon be able to send
you a copy ; and that the dedication, which is in the
simplest form, will be honoured by your approval.
Mr. Blackwood is its publisher."
Mrs. Hemans always spoke with pleasure of her
literary intercourse with Mr. Blackwood, in whose
dealings she recognised all that uprightness and liber-
ality which belonged to the sterling worth of his cha-
racter. The Records of Woman, the first of her
works published by him, was brought out in May,
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 153
1828. This volume was, to use the words of its
author, the one in which " she had put her heart and
individual feelings more than in anything else she had
written ;" and it is also, and perhaps consequently, the
one which has held its ground the most steadily in
The following extract is from a letter of this date,
to Mrs. Howitt, who had lately had to mourn the loss
of one of her children :
" I can feel deeply for the sorrow you communicate
to me ; it is one which Heaven has yet graciously
spared me ; but the imagination within us is a fearful
and mysterious power, and has often brought all the
sufferings of that particular bereavement before me,
with a vividness from which I have shrunk almost in
foreboding terror. And I have felt, too (though not
through the breaking of that tie,) those sick and
weary yearnings for the dead, that feverish thirst for
the sound of a departed voice or step, in which the
heart seems to die away, and literally to become ' a
fountain of tears.' Who can sound its depths ? One
alone, and may He comfort you !
" When you write to Mr. Bernard Barton, with
whom, most probably, you are in frequent communi-
cation, will you mention, with my kind regards, that
many months of languishing health have caused the
interruption in my correspondence with him, but that
I am now reviving, and hope shortly to resume it. I
sent a copy of your delightful little volume, The Deso-
lation of Eyam, a short time since, to some very intel-
ligent friends, whom I am fortunate enough to possess
154 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
in America ; they will, I know, be able to appreciate
all its feeling and beauty."
Early in the summer of this year, Mrs. Hemans
accomplished a long-projected visit to her old friends
at Wavertree Lodge, under whose hospitable roof,
and more than affectionate care, she remained for
several weeks. The state of her health appeared to
them so serious, that she was at last persuaded to
resign herself to medical discipline ; and amongst
many other precautionary measures, the almost entire
adoption of a reclining posture was prescribed to her.
One of her objects in this visit, besides the pleasure of
being once more in the society of those she valued so
truly, was, to make the necessary arrangements for
engaging a residence in that neighbourhood, to which
she was inclined to remove, on the approaching dis-
persion of the family circle at Rhyllon, occasioned by
the marriage of her sister, and the appointment of her
second brother to an official situation in Ireland. The
possession of such attached friends in that vicinity
(amongst whom she already numbered Mrs. Lawrence
of Wavertree Hall, in herself a host), with the antici-
pation of superior advantages for the education of her
boys, and of more literary communion for herself,
combined to influence her in selecting this spot for her
new abode ; and the eager delight with which her
project was hailed by those who were ready with open
arms to receive her amongst them, contributed not a
little to confirm her in the decision. She was not long
in fixing upon a suitable house, situated in the village
of Wavertree, but a little apart from the road ; and
arrangements were accordingly made for her removal
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 155
in the following September. During her present visit,
notwithstanding the medical restrictions she had to
submit to, her spirits were refreshed and cheered by
much enlivening society, and the formation of many
new acquaintances; one of which, that with the Chor-
ley family, soon ripened into friendship. Some of its
members were, at that time, interested in the superin-
tendence of that pretty Annual, The Winter's Wreath,
for which Mrs. Hemans's contributions had been solic-
ited ; and the correspondence which had begun on
editorial subjects, led first of all to personal communi-
cation, and then to the discovery of so many congenial
tastes and pursuits (more especially with reference to
music and German literature), that a cordial intimacy
was speedily established, and Mrs. Hemans looked for-
ward to its cultivation as one of the pleasant features
of her new perspective. This anticipation was well
borne out by the reality ; many of her happiest hours
of intellectual and social enjoyment during the next
two years, were passed at Mrs. Chorley's friendly fire-
side, where the zealous and considerate kindness that
always awaited her, made a little bright realm of
home-like sunshine, which was just the atmosphere in
which she shone " brightest and best" in which her
mind expanded like a bower, and her conversation
flowed forth like a gushing stream. Though the inter-
course thus mutually enjoyed was afterwards dissolved
by her final change of residence, she always reverted
to it with undiminished pleasure. To the thoughtful,
steady, indefatigable friendship of Mr. W. B. Chorley,
more particularly, shown in a thousand acts of service
to herself and her children, she would often allude
156 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANSo
during her last illness, and desire he might be assured
how gratefully she cherished the remembrance of it.
Amongst other interesting acquaintances made by
her at this time, was that of Mary Howitt, best known
by her own sweet and simple designation, of whose
writings she had long been a sincere admirer, and
whose society derived an additional charm from her
being the first member of the Society of Friends whom
Mrs. Hemans had ever known personally, though she
had been in correspondence with more than one of the
fraternity. A still brighter smile of good fortune
awaited her, in the unexpected arrival in Liverpool
of her kind New England friends, Mr. and Mrs. Nor-
ton. They had written to announce their coming, but
the letter had not been received, so that their appear-
ance was quite unlocked for. " I assure you," wrote
Mrs. Hemans, in detailing the lucky coincidences
which led to this meeting, " the delightful surprise was
almost too much for me. I had the greatest difficulty
in refraining from tears when I first met them."
The short personal intercourse she was permitted
to enjoy with these interesting friends, was a source
of the truest gratification to her both in the reality
and the retrospect. She had the pleasure of renewing
it for a few days on her return into Wales, as, after
making a tour through the most remarkable parts of
Great Britain, they paid a visit to St. Asaph before
re-embarking for America.
This period, so rich in friendships and recollections,
was also the one which brought Mrs. Hemans into
immediate communication with another bright spirit,
now, like her own, passed away from earth. This
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 157
was the late Miss Jewsbury, afterwards Mrs. Fletcher
whose extraordinary mental powers, and lofty,
ardent nature, have never been appreciated as they
deserved were never, in fact, fully manifested except
to the few who knew her intimately. She had long
admired the writings of Mrs. Hemans with all the
enthusiasm which characterised her temperament ;
and having been for some time in correspondence with
her, she eagerly sought for an opportunity of knowing
her more nearly, and with this view, determined upon
passing a part of the summer and autumn of 1828 in
the neighbourhood of St. Asaph. No better accom-
modation could be found for her than a very small
dwelling called Primrose Cottage, a corruption (meant,
perhaps, for a refining) of its original appellation of
Pumrhos (The Five Commons). The place in itself
was as little attractive as a cottage in Wales could
well be, and its closeness to the road took away even
from its rurality ; but it possessed the advantage of
being not more than half a mile from Rhyllon ; and it
had its little garden, and its roses, and its green turf,
and pure air ; and these to an inhabitant of Manches-
ter, which Miss Jewsbury then was, were things of
health and enjoyment. Thither then she repaired,
with the young sister and brothers to whom she had
long and well performed the duties of a mother ; and
there Mrs. Hemans found her established on her own
return from Waver tree at the end of July. It may
well be conceived how soon a feeling of warm interest
and thorough understanding sprang up between two
minds so rarely gifted, and both so intent upon conse-
crating their gifts to the highest and holiest purposes.
VOL. I. 14
158 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
Yet it was scarcely possible to imagine two individual
natures more strikingly contrasted the one so intense-
ly feminine, so susceptible and imaginative, so devoted
to the tender and the beautiful ; the other endowed
with masculine energies, with a spirit that seemed
born for ascendency, with strong powers of reasoning,
fathomless profundity of thought, and feelings, like
those of her own Julia, 1 " flashing forth at intervals
with sudden and Vesuvian splendour, making the
beholder aware of depths beyond his vision." No less
an authority than Mr. Wordsworth has said of her,
that " in one quality, viz., quickness in the motions of
the mind, she had, within the range of his acquaint-
ance, no equal." 2 With all this, she possessed warm
and generous affections, a peculiar faculty for identi-
fying herself with the tastes and predilections of those
she loved, and in conversation, when embodying the
conceptions of her own " ever salient mind" (to quote
an expression from Bishop Jebb), a singular talent for
eliciting thoughts from others, which reminded one of
the magic properties of the divining rod. From early
years she had had to contend with that precarious
and suffering state of health, so often the accompani-
ment of the restless, ardent spirit, which
" O'er-informs its tenements of clay."
She came into Wales, indeed, completely as an
invalid, but was soon sufficiently recruited to enter
3 In The Three Histories.
9 See the Note to the Poem of " Liberty," in the fifth vol. of
Wordsworth's Poetical Works.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 159
with full enjoyment into all the novelties around her,
to pass long mornings in the dingle, to take distant
rides on her donkey, surrounded by a troop of juve-
nile knights-errant, and to hold levees in the tent
she had contrived as a temporary addition to her
tiny dwelling, whose wicket gate can now never be
passed, by those still left to remember the converse of
those bright hours, without a gush of mournful recol-
Many of the poems in her Lays of Leisure Hours,
which she dedicated to Mrs. Hemans " in remem-
brance of the summer passed in her society," were
written in this little cottage. Some of them were
immediately addressed to her, particularly that " To
an absent one ;" and the first of the series of " Poet-
ical Portraits," in the same volume, was meant to
describe her. The picture of " Egeria," in The Three
Histories, written by Miss Jewsbury some time after-
wards, was avowedly taken from the same original ;
and allowing for a certain degree of idealization, is
drawn with no less truth than delicacy, and may well
claim an introduction in this place. " Egeria was
totally different from any other woman I had ever
seen, either in Italy or England. She did not dazzle,
she subdued me. Other women might be more com-
manding, more versatile, more acute ; but I never
saw one so exquisitely feminine."
* % % # #
" Her birth, her education, but above all, the
genius with which she was gifted, combined to inspire
a passion for the ethereal, the tender, the imaginative,
the heroic, in one word, the beautiful. It was in
160 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
her a faculty divine, and yet of daily life it touched
all things, but, like a sun-beam, touched them with a
6 golden finger.' Any thing abstract or scientific was
unintelligible and distasteful to her ; her knowledge
was extensive and various, but, true to the first prin-
ciple of her nature, it was poetry that she sought in
history, scenery, character, and religious belief,
poetry, that guided all her studies, governed all her
thoughts, coloured all her conversation. Her nature
was at once simple and profound ; there was no room
in her mind for philosophy, nor in her heart for am-
bition ; the one was filled by imagination, the other
engrossed by tenderness. She had a passive temper,
but decided tastes ; any one might influence, but very
few impressed her. Her strength and her weakness
alike lay in her affections; these would sometimes
make her weep at a word, at others, imbue her with
courage ; so that she was alternately ' a falcon-hearted
dove,' and ' a reed shaken with the wind.' Her voice
was a sad, sweet melody, and her spirits reminded me
of an old poet's description of the orange tree, with its
" Golden lamps hid in a night of green ;"
or of those Spanish gardens where the pomegranate
<*rows beside the cypress. Her gladness was like a
burst of sun-light ; and if, in her depression, she re-
sembled night, it was night bearing her stars. I
might describe and describe for ever, but I should
never succeed in portraying Egeria ; she was a muse,
a grace, a variable child, a dependent woman, the
Italy of human beings."
Miss Jewsbury's enthusiasm for the poetry of Mr.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 161
Wordsworth, whose friendship she regarded, and with
reason, as one of the highest privileges she possessed,
was the means of leading Mrs. Hemans to a more
close and intimate acquaintance with the treasures
she had hitherto reverenced rather with vague and
general admiration than with earnest and individual
study. How readily this obligation was acknowledged
appears in a letter, the date of which was considera-
bly prior to that of Miss Jewsbury's visit to Wales.
" The inclosed lines, 1 an effusion of deep and sin-
cere admiration, will give you some idea of the enjoy-
ment, and I hope I may say advantage, which you
have been the means of imparting, by so kindly
entrusting me with your precious copy of Words-
worth's Miscellaneous Poems. It has opened to me
such a treasure of thought and feeling, that I shall
always associate your name with some of my pleasant-
est recollections, as having introduced me to the know-
ledge of what I can only regret should have been so
long a 6 Yarrow unvisited.' I would not write to you
sooner, because I wished to tell you that I had really
studied these poems, and they have been the daily
food of my mind ever since I borrowed them. There
is hardly any scene of a happy, though serious, domes-
tic life, or any mood of a reflective mind, with the
spirit of which some one or other of them does not
beautifully harmonize. This author is the true poet
of home, arid of all the lofty feelings which have
their root in the soil of home affections. His fine son-
nets to Liberty, and indeed all his pieces which have
1 Those addressed " To the Poet Wordsworth."
162 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
any reference to political interest, remind me of the
spirit in which Schiller has conceived the character
of William Tell, a calm, single-hearted herdsman of
the hills, breaking forth into fiery and indignant elo-
quence, when the sanctity of his hearth is invaded.
Then what power Wordsworth condenses into single
lines, like Lord Byron's ' curdling a long life into one
' The still, sad music of humanity'
'The river glideth at his own sweet will'
4 Over his own sweet voice the stock-dove broods'
and a thousand others, which we must some time (and
I hope not a very distant one), talk over together.
Many of these lines quite haunt me ; and I have a
strange feeling, as if I must have known them in my
childhood ; they come over me so like old melodies. I
can hardly speak of favourites among so many things
that delight me ; but I think ' The Narrow Glen,' the
6 Lines on Corra Linn,' the ' Song for the Feast of
Brougham Castle,' ' Yarrow Visited,' and ' The Cuc-
koo,' are among those which take hold of imagination
the soonest, and recur most frequently to memory.
# * # # # #
" I know not how I can have so long omitted to
mention the Ecclesiastical Sketches, which I have read
and do constantly read, with deep interest. Their
beauty grows upon you and developes as you study it,
like that of the old pictures by the Italian masters."
In one of her letters of this autumn, Mrs. Hemans
makes mention of an interesting visit she had received
from the Poet Montgomery (not the new aspirant to
that name, but the " real Peter Bell"), who had just
MEMOIR OF MRS. IIEMANS. 163
come from Snowdon, full of animation and enthusiasm.
" He complained much in the course of conversation,"
she writes, " and I heartily joined with him, of the
fancy which wise people have in the present times,
for setting one right ; cheating one, that is, out of all
the pretty old legends and stories, in the place of which
they want to establish dull facts. We mutually grum-
bled about Fair Rosamond, Queen Eleanor and the
poisoned wound, Richard the Third and his hump
back ; but agreed most resolutely that nothing should
ever induce us to give up William Tell."
There was nothing she disliked more than the dis-
turbance of any old associations, or the reasoning
away of any ancient belief, endeared to our hearts by
the childish recollections with which it is interwoven.
" I admire your resolute spirit of faith," she once
wrote to a friend who had been visiting some scenes
consecrated by tradition ; " for my part, so determined
is mine, that if I went to Rushin Castle, I should cer-
tainly look for the giant, said to be chained and slum-
bering in the dark vaults of that pile."
She would often speak with delight of the taste she
had discovered in Bishop Heber for fairy tales and
fantastic legends ; and it is needless to say how heartily
she entered into the congenial predilections of Sir
Walter Scott. Her own enjoyment of such fanciful
creations was fresh and childlike. The " Irish Fairy
Legends" were always high in her favour, and the
" German popular Stories" were as familiar to her
young auditors at the fireside readings, as to those of
Mr Crabbe. 1
1 See the Life of Crabbe," p. 304.
164 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
"Alice my wife,
The plague of my life,"
was in quite as bad repute amongst them, as she could
have been at Pucklechurch, and little voices would
make the hearth ring with manly threats of " what /
would do, if I had such a wife !"
" I am very much enjoying myself," she wrote in
one of her notes from Wavertree, " in the society of
certain Luft und Feuergeister, Wasser und Wald-
geister, and Feen und Feldgeister? introduced to me
by the worthy Herr Dobeneck, in a book of Deutschcn
Volltsglauben. 2 These geister of his, are, to be sure,
a little wild and capricious in their modes of proceed-
ing ; but even this is a relief, after the macadamized
mortality in which one has to pass all the days of one's
life. I like your superstition about good wishes, and
am very much inclined to agree with him who says
* Es ist alles wahr wodurch du besser wirst. 9 " 3
There was one German tradition in particular,
" Die Sage vom Wolfsbrunnen" (The Legend of the
Wolf's Well,) which had made a deep impression
upon her imagination, and at one time she had
thought of making it the subject of a poem of some
length ; but the train of feeling it suggested was too
painfully exciting, and she wisely decided upon laying
it aside. 4
1 Air and Fire Spirits, Water and Wood Spirits, and Fairies
and Field Spirits.
2 German Popular Superstitions.
3 Every thing is true by which thou art made better.
4 The Wolfsbrunnen, a place of real existence, is situated in
a romantic little valley near Heidelberg. The secluded and
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 165
The time had now arrived for Mrs. Hemans's leav-
ing Wales, and this removal, which had been contem-
plated at a distance with more of hope than of dread,
proved in the reality a heart-rending trial, increased
in bitterness, too, by the additional sorrow of parting
with her two eldest boys, who were sent at this time
to join their father at Rome. " I am suffering deep-
ly," she wrote to her late kind hosts, " more than I
could have dreamt or imagined, from the ' farewell
sadness.' My heart seems as if a night-mare weighed
somewhat melancholy air of the spot accords well with the tra-
dition belonging to it, which relates, that in ancient days, long
before the building of the present Castle of Heidelberg, there
existed, on the mountain where the ruins called the Jetthe
Buhl are still to be seen, an enchanted Castle, which was in-
habited by a maiden of surpassing beauty, generally regarded
as a sorceress. A young hunter, named Ferrand, famed alike
for his daring deeds and manly beauty, had one day the hardi-
hood to penetrate into the magic precincts of the Castle. He
became enamoured of the fair Enchantress, by whom his love
was in time returned. Yielding to his incessant importunities
that she would reveal to him the secret of her supernatural
powers, she at last disclosed to him that she was not a fairy, but
the daughter of a Northern King, and that it had been predicted
at her birth that she was to become the prey of a wolf. Her
mother, who was of Southern origin, had consigned her, when
on her own deathbed, to the care of an enchanter, who had pro-
mised to transport her far from the rugged regions of the North.
He had placed ,her in this Castle, and invested her with Talis-
mans to ward off the approach of evil. These were the white
bird which perpetually hovered round her, the girdle cf gems
which she always wore, and the golden Tiara which encircled
her beautiful hair. But the imperious Ferrand insisted upon her
throwing aside all these appendages, which he regarded as the
spells of some malignant spirit, and making an assignation with
166 MEMOIR OF MRS. H3MANS.
it down. Seriously and truly, I am most careful of
myself, though too many conflicting thoughts and feel-
ings are at work upon me now, and I have to say
too many of those ' words which must be and have
been/ to admit of my making the progress I other-
wise might. You know it is impossible I should be
better till all these billows have passed over me. The
improvisatore talent has scarcely deserted me yet, but
it is gushing from a fountain of tears Oh ! that I
could but lift up my heart, and sustain it at that
height where alone the calm sunshine is !"
The description of her feelings, when the actual
parting took place, proves that there was no exagge-
ration in the affectionate sadness of her " Farewell
him to show herself to his parents as a simple mortal, divested
of all supernatural attributes. The gentle Welleda consented,
though dark inward forebodings whispered but too plainly of the
fatal consequences that would ensue: these warnings she im-
parted to her ungenerous lover, but without shaking his purpose.
She promised, therefore, to meet him in the evening, by the side
of this fountain, under the shade of its overarching lime trees.
Thither she repaired at the appointed hour, and Ferrand, hasten-
ing to the rendezvous, arrived at the very moment when the
fang of a ravenous wolf had inflicted a mortal wound on his
hapless Welleda. Frantic with horror and remorse, he anni-
hilated the ferocious animal on the spot, and then turned to
receive the last sighs of the fond being who had sacrificed her-
self to his exacting tyranny. He buried her beside the fountain,
and quitted the spot no more till his own death, which followed
erelong. A kind shepherd then laid him beside his Welleda,
and planted a Linden tree on the mound of turf which covered
the remains of these unfortunate lovers.
This legend has been worked up into a pretty little prose
romance in German by Madame Von Helwig.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 167
to Wales, 5 ' and the blessing she thus fondly left with
" The sound of thy streams in my spirit I bear
Farewell ! and a blessing be with thee, green land !
On thy hearths, on thy halls, on thy pure mountain air,
On the chords of the harp, and the minstrel's free hand!
From the love of my soul with my tears it is shed,
As I leave thee, green land of my home and my dead."
"Oh! that Tuesday morning!" (thus she wrote in
her first letter to St. Asaph.) " I literally covered
my face all the way from Bronwylfa until the hoys
told me we had passed the Clwyd range of hills. Then
something of the bitterness was over.
" Miss P. met me at Bagillt, and on board the
packet we found Mr. D., who was kinder to me than
I can possibly tell you. He really watched over me
all the way with a care I shall not soon forget ; and
notwithstanding all you may say of female protection,
I felt that of a gentleman to be a great comfort, for
we had a difficult and disagreeable landing. As we
entered the port, a vessel coming out, struck against
ours, and caused a great concussion ; there was no
danger, I imagine, but it gave one a faint notion of
what the meeting must have been between the Comet
and the Aire. We had a pretty sight on the Water ;
another packet, loaded, clustered all over with blue-
coat boys, sailed past. It was their annual holiday,
on which they have a water excursion ; and as they
went by, all the little fellows waved their hats, and
sent forth three cheers, which made our vessel ring
again. Only imagine a ship-load of happiness ! That
word reminds me of my own boys, who are enjoying
168 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
themselves greatly. Of myself, what can I say to
you ? When I look back on the short time
that has elapsed since I left this place, I am astonish-
ed ; I seem in it to have lived an age of deep, strong,
After remaining for a time with her ever consider-
ate friends at Wavertree Lodge, Mrs. Hemans at
length took possession of her own little domicile,
where she was surrounded by all that the most sedu-
lous kindness could devise, to foster and shelter, and
reconcile her to the new soil in which she was now
to take root. Not only by the old friends on whose
regard she had a claim, but by numbers hitherto
strangers, she was overwhelmed with offers of service
and marks of courtesy. From the overtures of the
latter, however, she was, in a great measure, obliged
to withdraw, as her habits, her health, the urgency
of her literary occupations, and the indescribable
pressure of correspondence, of which words can
scarcely give any adequate idea for of letters and
notes it might really be said that
"Each minute teems a new one"
made it absolutely impossible for her to keep up the
conventional forms and etiquettes of an extensive gene-
ral acquaintance. Nothing could be further from her
nature than ungraciousness or incivility ; yet, from
circumstances quite beyond her own control, for which
few were disposed to make sufficient allowances, she
often incurred the charge of both, through an utter
want both of leisure and physical energy, to cope with
all the bewildering claims upon her attention.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 169
A few extracts from notes written soon after her
establishment at Wavertree, will best express her own
views and feelings.
" I have no taste, no health, for the enjoyment of
extensive society. I have been all my life a creature
of hearth and home, and now that the mother that
looked on my childhood' is gone, and that my brothers
and sisters are scattered far and wide, I have no wish,
but to gather around me the few friends who will love
me and enter into my pursuits. I wish I could give
you the least idea of what kindness is to me how
much more, how far dearer than Fame. I trust we
may pass many pleasant evenings together this winter
at my little dwelling, which I hope to see often cheered
and lit up by happy and familiar faces."
" Generally speaking, I cannot tell you how painful
going out is to me now. I know it is a weakness which
I must conquer, but I feel so alone, so unprotected,
and this weary celebrity makes such things^ I believe,
press the more bitterly."
" I can well imagine the weariness and disgust with
which a mind of intellectual tastes must be oppressed
by the long days of * work-day world ' cares, so utterly
at variance with such tastes; and. yet, perhaps, the
opposite extreme is scarcely more to be desired. Mine,
I believe, has been too much a life of thought and
feeling for health and peace. I can certainly quit this
little world of my own for active duties ; for, however
I may at times playfully advocate the cause of weak-
VOL. I. 15
170 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
ness, there is no one who has, with deeper need for
strength, a fuller conviction of its necessity ; but it is
often by an effort, and a painful one, that I am ena-
bled to obtain it."
The following letters will equally speak for them-
"Nov. 10th, 1828.
" MY DEAR MlSS MlTFORD,
" Accept my late, though sincere and cordial con-
gratulations on the brilliant success of Rienzi, of
which I have read with unfeigned gratification. I
thought of your father and mother, and could not help
imagining that your feelings must be like those of the
Greek general, who declared that his greatest delight
in victory arose from the thought of his parents. I
have no doubt that your enjoyment of your triumph
has been of a similar nature. I ought to have acknow-
ledged long, long since, your kind present of the little
volume of plays, valued both for your sake and theirs,
for they are indeed full of beauty ; but I have been a
drooping creature for months, ill, and suffering much
from the dispersion of a little band of brothers and
sisters, among whom I had lived, and who are now all
scattered ; and, strange as it may seem to say, I am
now, for the first time in my life, holding the reins of
government, independent, managing a household my-
self; and I never liked anything less than ' ce triste
empire de soi-meme.' It really suits me as ill as the
southron climate did your wild Orkney school-girls,
whom perhaps you, the creator of so many fair forms
arid images, may have forgotten, but I have not. I
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 171
have changed my residence since I last wrote to you,
and my address is now at Wavertree, near Liverpool,
where I shall, as the Welsh country-people say, ' take
it very kind' if you write to me ; and I really cannot
help venturing to hope that you will. I have yet
only read of Rienzi a few noble passages given by the
newspapers and magazines, but in a few days I hope
to be acquainted with the whole. Every woman
ought to be proud of your triumph in this age, too,
when dramatic triumph seems of all others the most
difficult. How are May, and Mossy, and Lucy, and
Jack Hatch ? no, Jack Hatch actually died, to the
astonishment of myself and my boys, who thought, I
believe, he had been ' painted for eternity' and Mrs.
Allen, and the rest of the dear villagers? I trust
they are well. Your mother, I believe, is always an
invalid, but I hope she is able fully to enjoy the suc-
cess of her daughter, as only a mother can enjoy it.
How hollow sounds the voice of Fame to an orphan ! l
Farewell, my dear Miss Mitford long may you have
the delight of gladdening a father and mother !"
Wavertree, Dec. llth, 182a
" MY DEAR MRS. HOWITT,
" You will not, I trust, have thought me very
ungrateful for your delightful letter, though it has
been left so long unanswered. I am sure I shall give
1 In one of Mrs. Hemans's MS. books is an extract from Rich-
ter, of which she must have felt the full force. " O thou who
hast still a father and a mother, thank God for it in the day when
thy soul is full of joyful tears, and needs a bosom whereon to
died them !"
172 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
your heart greater pleasure by writing now, than I
could have done by an immediate reply; for I had
suffered so deeply, so much more than I had imagined
possible, from leaving Wales, and many kind and ' old
familiar faces' there, as well as from the breaking up
of my family on the occasion of my sister's marriage,
that my spirits were, long after my arrival here, over-
shadowed by constant depression. My health, also,
had been much affected by mental struggles, and I
thought within myself, ' I will not write what I know
will only sadden so kind a heart ; I will wait till the
sunshine breaks in.' And now, I can tell you that it
begins to dawn ; for my health and spirits are decidedly
improving, and I am reconciling myself to many things
in my changed situation, which, at first, pressed upon
my heart with all the weight of a Switzer's home
sickness. Among these, is the want of hills. Oh ! this
waveless horizon ! how it wearies the eye accustomed
to the sweeping outline of mountain scenery ! I would
wish that there were, at least, woodlands, like those
so delightfully pictured in your husband's Chapter on
Woods, to supply their place ; but it is a dull, unin-
ventive nature all around here, though there must be
somewhere little fairy nooks, which I hope, by degrees,
to discover. I must recur to the before-mentioned
Chapter, it delighted me so particularly by the fresh-
ness of its spirit, deep feeling, and minute observation
of nature. ' The fading of the leaf, which ought
rather to be called the kindling of the leaf,' how
truly and how poetically was that said ! That I might
become better acquainted with his writings, I have
lately borrowed some volumes of Time's Telescope, in
MEMOIJl OF MRS. HEMANS. 178
which I believed I could not fail to discover the same
characteristics; and I anticipate much enjoyment
from The Book of the Seasons, which, I am sure, will
be a rich treasury of natural imagery and pure feel-
" I hear, with great pleasure, my dear friend, that
the place of your lost one is to be supplied, < the hol-
low of his absence' filled up. All the kindly wishes
of a woman's and a mother's heart attend you on the
* * * * #
" I trust your dear little girl is well. Has she quite
forgotten ' Felicia Hemans ?' I cannot tell you with
how much pleasure I read your praises in the Noctes
Jlmbrosiance. They were bestowed, too, in language
so delicate and appropriate, that I think you must
have felt gratified, especially as you have one to
gratify by your success."
A remarkable instance of Mrs. Hemans's powers
of memory, is recorded about this time, in the fact
of her having repeated, and even written down, with
extraordinary accuracy, the beautiful stanzas address-
1 In this anticipation she was not disappointed ; for she wrote
of it two years after as " a little book which has quite charmed
me. Do you know," she continued, " I think that the rumours
of political strife and convulsion now ringing round us on all
sides, make the, spirit long more intensely for the freshness, and
purity, and stillness of nature, and take deeper delight in every-
thing that recalls these lovely images. I am sure I shall forget
all sadness, and feel as happy as a child or a fawn, when I can
be free again amongst hills and woods. I long for them * as the
hart for the water brooks.' "
174 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
ed by Lord Byron to his sister, after hearing them
only twice read aloud in manuscript
A few extracts, bearing more particularly on lite-
rary subjects, will give some idea of her predominant
tastes at this period.
" I send Herder's beautiful ballads of The Cid, and
I wish you may take as much pleasure as I have al-
ways done in their proud clarion music. I often
think what a dull, faded thing life such life as we
lead in this later age would appear to one of those
fiery knights of old. Only imagine my Cid, spurring
the good steed Bavieca through the streets of Liver-
pool, or coming to pass an evening with me at Waver-
" I owe you many thanks for so kindly introducing
me to all those noble thoughts of Richter's. I think
the vision in the church magnificent both in purpose
and conception : it is scarcely possible to stop for the
contemplation of occasional extravagances, when
borne along so rapidly and triumphantly, as by * a
mighty rushing wind,' some of the detached thoughts
are so exquisite."
"Now, let me introduce you to a dear friend of
mine, Tieck's Sternbald, in whose Wanderungen,
which I now send if you know them not already
I cannot but hope that you will take almost as much
delight as I have done amidst my own free hills and
streams, where his favourite book has again and again
been my companion."
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 175
" We have been talking much of French poetry
lately. Do you know the Dernier Chant de Corinne ?
I sent it, marked in the third volume of the book, and
you shall have the others if you wish. If the soul,
without the form, be enough to constitute poetry, then
it surely is poetry of the very highest order.
"That book (Corinne), in particular towards its
close, has a power over me which is quite indescrib-
able. Some passages seem to give me back my own
thoughts and feelings, my whole inner being, with a
mirror more true than ever friend could hold up."
" How very beautiful are those letters of Lord Col-
lingwood to his family ! there is something in all
those thoughts of hearth and home, and of the garden
trees and of the . ' old summer-seat/ which, breathing
as they do from amidst the far and lonely seas, affect
us like an exile's song of his fatherland. The letters
to his wife brought strongly to my mind the poor
Queen of Prussia's joyous exclamations in the midst
of her last sufferings * Oh ! how blessed is she who
receives such a letter as this !' "
" I send my copy of Iphigenia, because I shall like
to know whether you are as much struck with all
that I have marked in it as I have been. Do you
remember all we were saying on the obscurity of
female suffering in such stormy days of the lance and
spear, as the good Fray Agapida describes so vividly ?
Has not Goethe beautifully developed the idea in the
lines which I inclose? They occur in Iphigenia's
supplication to Thoas for her brother."
376 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
" I have been delighted with the paper on Burns, 1
which you were kind enough to lend me. I think
that the writer has gone further into * the heart of
the mystery' than any other, because he, almost the
first of all, has approached the subject with a deep
reverence for genius, but a still deeper for truth: all
the rest have seemed only anxious to make good the
attack or the defence. And there is a feeling, too, of
* the still sad music of humanity' throughout, which
bears upon the heart a conviction full of power, that
it is listening to the voice of a brother. I wonder
who the writer is : he certainly gives us a great deal
of what Boswell, I think, calls ' bark and steel for the
mind.' I, at least, found it in several passages; but
I fear that a woman's mind never can be able, and
never was formed to attain that power of sufficiency
to itself, which seems to lie somewhere or other
amongst the rocks of a man's."
" I send you the Moravian air ; and this is the old
Swedish tradition of which I was speaking to you last
night. There is a dark lake somewhere among the
Swedish mountains, and in the lake there is an island
of pines, and on the island an old castle, and there is
a spirit-keeper, who lives far down in the lake, and
when any evil is going to befall the inhabitants of the
castle, he rises to the surface, and plays a most mourn-
ful ditty on his shadowy harp, and they know that it
is a music of warning. I met with it in Olaus Mag-
nus such a strange wild book !"
1 That by Carlyle in the Edinburgh Review.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 177
" Did it ever strike you how much lighter sorrow's
' pining cares' become, out in the free air, and under
the blue sky, than * beneath a smoky roof/ as the sea-
kings of old used to say ? For my part, I am never
the least surprised to hear of people becoming fasci-
nated with Indian life, and giving up all our boasted
refinements for the range of the tameless forests.
This reminds me of some American books, which I
send you ; in one of them, New England's Memorial,
I wish to call your attention to the beautiful map at
the beginning, with all those gallant ships, and groups
of armed men, and wolves and bears wandering about,
to express, I suppose, the dangers which the pilgrim
fathers so bravely encountered. The other, Made-
moiselle Riedesel's Memoirs, I send for Mrs. C., whom,
I think, it will interest: the heroine goes through
many trials, but, sustained as she is by ' the strong
affection which overcometh all things,' who can look
upon her with pity?"
" I am quite surprised at your liking my ' Storm-
Painter' so much : as an expression of strong and per-
turbed feeling, I could not satisfy myself with it in the
least ; it seemed all done in pale water-colours."
" Will you tell your brother, I regretted, after you
and he had left me the other evening, that, instead of
Werner's Luther, which I do not think will interest
him much, I had not lent him one of my greatest
favourites, Grillparzer's Sappho. I therefore send it
him now. It is, in my opinion, full of beauty, which
I am sure he will appreciate, and of truth, developing
178 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
itself clearly and sorrowfully through the colouring
mists of imagination."
" I have been thinking much of the German scenes
for translation, respecting which you paid me the
compliment of wishing for my opinion. The inter-
view between Philip the Second and Posa 1 is certainly
very powerful, but to me its interest is always de-
stroyed by a sense of utter impossibility, which haunts
me throughout. Not even Schiller's mighty spells can,
I think, win the most ' unquestioning spirit' to suppose
that such a voice of truth and freedom could have
been lifted up, and endured, in the presence of the
cold, stern Philip the Second that he would, even
for a moment, have listened to the language thus fear-
lessly bursting from a noble heart. Three of the most
impressive scenes towards the close of the play, might,
I think, be linked together, leaving out the intervening
ones, with much effect; the one in which Carlos,
standing by the body of his friend, forces his father to
the contemplation of the dead : the one in which the
king comes forward, with his fearful, dreamy remorse,
alone amidst his court,
Gieb diesen todten mir heraus, cj-c. 2
and the subsequent interview between Philip and the
Grand Inquisitor, in which the whole spirit of those
fanatic days seems embodied.
" There is a scene in one of Oehlenschlager's dra-
mas, Der Hirtenkndbe? which has always affected me
1 In Schiller's Don Carlos. a " Give me this dead one back "
8 The Shepherd Boy.
MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS. 179
strongly. It has also the recommendation of telling
its own tale at once, without need of any prelimina-
ries. An aged priest wishes by degrees, and with ten-
derness, to reveal to a father the death of his only
child. The father, represented as a bold and joyous
character, full of hope, and strength, and muth des
lebens, 1 attributes all the ' dark sayings/ and mournful
allusions of his visitant, to the natural despondency
of age, and attempts to cheer him by descriptions of
his bright domestic happiness. " Starke dich," he
says, " in meinen sonnenschein !" 2 The very exulta-
tion of his spirit makes you tremble for him, and feel
that fate is approaching : at last, the old man unco-
vers the body of the child, and then the passionate
burst of the father's grief is indeed overpowering :
then the mother enters, and even amidst all her
anguish, the meekness of a more subdued ^and chas-
tened being is felt, and beautifully contrasted with her
" In Goethe's Egmont, the scenes in which Clarchen
endeavours to rouse the spirit of the bewildered citi-
zens, and in which Brackenburg communicates to her
the preparations for Egmont's execution, seem to
stand out from the rest in the bold relief of their
power and passion ; and the interview between Eg-
mont in prison and Ferdinand, the son of his enemy,
who soothes even the anguish of those moments by
the free-will' offering of his young heart's affection
and reverence, I have always thought most deeply
1 Spirit of life. 8 Strengthen thyself in my sunshine.
180 MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS.
It may here not be out of place to introduce a few
recollections regarding Mrs. Hemans's progressive
tastes, supplied by the friend already described, as
having been for so many years her indefatigable lite-
" My book beckifications in the days of old were
multifarious enough; in English, French* German,
Italian, and Spanish poetry ; or prose (not prosy prose),
grave or gay, lively or severe, history or fiction (the
history chiefly of feudal ages), essay or criticism ; only
nothing in the service of science ever found a place in
them. 1 At a later period, during her Waver tree resi-
dence, I was often struck with the change of her
tastes, which then seemed to have retreated from the
outer world, and devoted themselves exclusively to the
passionate and imaginative. The German poets were
always on her table, especially Goethe. Wordsworth
was ever growing in her favour, yet I think at that
time she oftener quoted Byron, Shelley, and Madame
de Stael, than any other. This was aliment too
stimulating for an organization that so much needed
1 All the works of Sismondi, particularly the Litter ature du
Midi, and Republiques Italiennes, held a high place in her esti-
mation ; perhaps she prized them all the more from their having
been especial favourites of her mother. Fauriel's Chants Popu-
laires de la Grece Moderne, opened out to her a world of new
ideas and feelings, and suggested, as the books she loved always
did, some of her sweetest lyrics.
Amongst the old household favourites, none wab more popular
than the Narrative of a Ten Years 1 Residence in Tripoli, by
the sister-in-law of Mr. Tully ; and in one of Mrs. Hemans's
letters, she says ** What will you think of our wanting to bor-
row, for the sixth time, the dear old letters from Tripoli 1"
MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS. 181
more sedative influences and while her poetry at
that period was deeper, tenderer, more touching than
ever, it was like the pelican's heart-blood, poured
forth (if naturalists would let these pretty stories pass)
to feed her brood."
One of the peculiar features of the increased sensi-
tiveness of her temperament at this time, was an
awakened enthusiasm for music, which amounted to
an absolute passion. " I do not think," she wrote,
"that I can bear the burthen of my life without
music for more than two or three days." Yet, with
sensibilities so exquisite as hers, this melomania was
a source of far more pain than pleasure ; it was so
impossible for any earthly strains to approach that
ideal and unattainable standard of perfection which
existed within her mind, and which she has shadowed
forth with a mournful energy in " Mozart's Requiem."
Like perfumes on the wind,
Which none may stay or bind,
The beautiful comes rushing through my soul ;
I strive, with yearnings vain,
The spirit to detain,
Of the deep harmonies that past me roll.
Therefore disturbing dreams
Trouble the secret streams
And founts of music that o'erflow my breast ;
Something far more divine
Than may on earth be mine,
Haunts- my worn heart, and will not let me rest.
From time to time, however, she had enjoyment of
music of a very high character, for much of which
she was indebted to her acquaintance with Mr. Lodge,
the distinguished amateur, by whom so many of her
VOL. I. 16
182 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
songs have been set to melodies of infinite beauty and
feeling. At a somewhat later period she derived
much delight from the talents of Mr. James Zengheer
Herrmann, from whom, for a time, she took lessons,
for the express purpose of studying, and fully under-
standing, the Stabat Mater of Pergolesi, which had
taken an extraordinary hold of her imagination.
This fine composition was first brought to her notice
by Mr. Lodge, to whom she thus expressed her appre-
ciation of it: "It is quite impossible for me to tell
you the impression I have received from that most
spiritual music of Pergolesi's, which really haunted
me the whole night. How much I have to thank you
for introducing me, in such a manner, to so new and
glorious a world of musical thought and feeling !"
And she wrote of it again, some time after, with no
less deep a feeling. " I am learning Pergolesi's Stabat
Mater, which realizes all that I could dream of re-
ligious music, and which derives additional interest
from its being the last work in which the master-spirit
breathed forth its enthusiasm."
The state of her health had long obliged her to
discontinue the practice of her harp, but the same
friend whose recollections have been already quoted
from, recalls a singular instance of sudden and tran-
sient return to it. " I remember," she writes, " her
stringing and tuning it one day, just after she settled
at Waver tree, and pouring forth a full tide of music
all without notes, and with as much facility of execu-
tion as if she had had the instrument daily under her
hand for years. Having listened and wondered for
about half an hour. I said, ' Really. Felicia, it seems
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 183
to me that there is something not quite canny in this ;
so, especially as it is beginning to be twilight, I shall
think it prudent to take my departure.' The harp,
however, required more physical exertion than she
could well afford, and it soon fell into neglect again."
The " brightly associated hours" she passed with
Mrs. Lawrence, have been alluded to by Mrs. He-
mans, in the dedication to the National Lyrics, and
recorded by " her friend, and the sister of her friend,
Colonel D'Aguilar," in her own affectionate Recollec-
tions. The " Books and Flowers" of Wavertree Hall,
were ever fondly identified with their dear mistress ;
and years after the enjoyment of them had passed
away from all senses but memory, she who was then
herself, too, " passing away," thus tenderly alluded to
them from her sick couch at Redesdale. " When I
write to you, my imagination always brightens, and
pleasant thoughts of lovely flowers, and dear old
books, and strains of antique Italian melody, come
floating over me, as Bacon says, the rich scents go * to
and fro like music in the air.' '
The reviving influences of these intellectual enjoy-
ments were, however, but too powerfully counter-
balanced by the constant pressure of inward sorrows,
and daily anxieties. The experience of a first winter,
moreover, occasioned Mrs. Hemans many misgivings
as to the healthiness of her new residence ; and the
illness of her three boys, who were seized with the
hooping cough, very soon after their establishment at
Wavertree, was anything but an encouraging inaugu-
ration to one so new to the cares of household man-
agement. The fatigue she endured in nursing them,
184 MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS.
was far more than she was equal to ; and at length it
proved, by way of climax, that she had actually
caught this harassing and tedious complaint herself.
Change of air was, of course, recommended; and
early in the spring, the whole party of invalids re-
paired for a short time to Seacombe, a small bathing-
place on the Cheshire side of the Mersey. Here they
speedily derived all the benefits anticipated from the
sea air ; and the cheerful tone of some of the follow-
ing extracts, exhibits once more the naturally elastic
spirits of the writer.
" You will rejoice to hear that we are going on
extremely well, and are able to be out a great deal.
It is very strange to me to be here. You know how
rapidly my thoughts and feelings chase each other,
like shadows of clouds over the mountains ; sometimes
I feel quite forlorn at others, and those, I think, the
most frequent, enjoying with child-like pleasure, the
moving picture of the waters, the thousand sails and
streamers glancing and gleaming past ' like things of
life/ I can hardly leave this animated sea-beach,
when once I have reached it ; and at this distance
'The city's voice itself
Is soft as Solitude's.' "
" The boys and I passed a most comic yesterday,
sitting in a sort of verdant twilight, as we were
obliged to have the outworks of green blinds fastened
over the windows, to keep them from blowing in.
Then the wind kept lifting the knocker, and perform-
ing such human knocks all day, that we thought
friends must be coming to see us in the shape of
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 185
meteoric stones for certainly in no other could they
have approached us. However, Charles cut out and
painted what he pleases to call the Weird Sisters
from Macbeth ; and Henry set to music ' The Homes
of England,' in a style only to he paralleled by
Charles's painting ; and I read The Robbers ; and the
knocks at the door were thought so full of happy
humour, that they made us laugh aux eclats. 9
" Last Sunday I visited a very interesting scene
the Mariners' Church, on the Liverpool side of the
water. It is the hulk of a ship of war, now fitted
up for divine service, which is performed by Mr.
Scoresby. The earnest attention of the hardy, wea-
ther-beaten countenances, all steadfastly fixed upon
the preacher, connected with the images of past
danger by flood and fire, which such a scene would
naturally call up these things were very deeply
impressive, and I am glad to have borne away a
recollection of them. I had a good deal of conversa-
tion with Mr. Scoresby, in the vestry (the ci-devant
powder-room, I suppose) of his church.
" We are very dissipated indeed, as far as receiving
visiters can make us so, for we have only been alone
two evenings since we came here. Our guests, to
be sure, are obliged to depart at most patriarchal
hours, having to set off with the speed of Harold
Harefoot, at' eight o'clock in the evening, in order to
be in time for the steam-boat which is to convey
them back, and which they do not always overtake.
Charlie's despatch, which I have left open for your
amusement, will, I think, rather entertain you. His
186 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
consternation on seeing the advertisement of the rival
work on Dogs, was most comic. I am thankful to say
that he looks better, and can now take exercise again
without * sick knees.' "
" I really know nothing that so tempts one into
idleness as a beach like this, with all its gay pictures.
I am sure you will rejoice that I am able to derive
so much pleasure from it; and to be out a good deal
in the open air, after the long weary confinement of
the winter. I shall quite regret leaving Seacombe ;
the broad river between me and Liverpool, gives me
so comfortable a feeling of security in the morning ;
and in the evening, those whom I really like to see
think nothing of crossing it to visit me.
" I meet with so many offers of service, that the
boys sometimes laugh and say, ' Mamma, you are like
the young lady who could not dance with the King
of Prussia, because she was engaged to the Emperor
of Russia.' l Yesterday I had an American gentle-
man here, introduced by Mr. Norton, a clergyman of
Boston, very mild and pleasing, with a highly intellec-
tual countenance. Do you know he had never seen
a primrose, and upon my desiring Charles to bring me
some from the hedges, as we were walking down to
the beach, he asked if that was the flower so often
celebrated by English poets.
" Mr. Blackwood has just sent me a delightful
book by one of his contributors, Miss Bowles; it is
1 This actually happened to the burgomaster's daughter at
Berlin, on the occasion of a ball given by the municipal authori-
ties of that city, to the Emperor Alexander.
MEMOIRS OF MRS. HEMANS. 187
published without her name, and only called Chap-
ters on Churchyards. Pray read the work : I know
you will enjoy its depth of feeling and playfulness of
wit I must return home next Monday, hav-
ing now been here a month. I certainly have derived
benefit from the change, and Charlie, about whom I
was getting very anxious, is wonderfully improved;
able to be out almost all day, and coming in with a
bright, clear, brown complexion, instead of the sickly
transparency it had begun to assume."
The following extracts, from letters written in a
far different and deeper tone, will need no comment,
excepting the explanation that they were severally
addressed to the two friends to whom she was most
wont to lay open her heart, in all its strength and
" You speak * high words' to me, dear friend ! I
gratefully feel them, and own their power. . They
remind me of Wordsworth's beautiful expression
'To teach us how divine a thing
A woman may be made.'
And I, too, have high views, doubt it not. My very
suffering proves it for how much of this is occasioned
by quenchless aspirations after intellectual and moral
beauty, never to be found on earth ! they seem to
sever me from others, and make my lot more lonely
than life has made it. Can you think that any fer-
vent and aspiring mind ever passed through this world
without suffering from that void which has been the
complaint of all ? ' Les ames dont Pimagination tient
188 MEMOIRS OF MRS. HEMANS.
a la puissance d'aimer et de souffrir, ne sont-ils pas
les bannis d'une autre region ?' I know that it must
be so ; that nothing earthly can fill it, and that it can-
not be filled with the infinite, until infinity shall have
opened upon it : for these intense affections are
human : they were given us to meet and answer
human love ; and though they may be ' raised and
solemnized' even here, yet I do believe that it is only
in the * Better Land' they ever did, or will approxi-
mate to what is divine. Fear not any danger for me
in the adulation which surrounds me. A moment's
transient entertainment scarcely even that at times,
is the utmost effect of things that ' come like shadows,
so depart.' Of all things, never may I become that
despicable thing, a woman living upon admiration !
The village matron, tidying up for her husband and
children at evening, is far, far more enviable and
"Why should you try to wean yourself from me,
my dear friend, because our paths are divided, and
because the burthen of fragile health and over-occu-
pation laid upon me, prevents my giving more time in
return for all your affectionate anxiety. Be assured
that, in the midst of constant excitement, homage,
ideal wanderings, and real cares, which so strangely
6 weave the warp and weave the woof ' of my ' mystic
thread of life,' my heart is ever true to the past a
heart of home, though no home be for it here ; and
never to forget all your love and care for me and mine.
So think of me still, and often as ever, and in some
points (strangely as I am placed, and surrounded with
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 189
things that might, I frankly confess, a little turn my
head, but for the deep remembrances of my heart)
think of me with less anxiety ; for I do feel, notwith-
standing all this, my mind in a more healthful state,
and more open to happy influences than it has been
the fever of the mental nerves is subsiding."
" 'Safe in the grave, 9 what deep meaning there is
in those words, and how often does the feeling they
convey come over me amidst the varied excitements
of my strange, unconnected life ! How I look back
upon the comparative peace and repose of Bronwylfa
and Rhyllon a walk in the hay-field the children
playing round me my dear mother coming to call
me in from the dew and you, perhaps, making your
appearance just in the ' gloaming,' with a great bunch
of flowers in your kind hand ! How have these things
passed away from me, and how much more was I
formed for their quiet happiness, than for the weary
part of femrm celebre, which I am now enacting ! But
my heart is with those home enjoyments, and there,
however tried, excited, and wrung, it will ever
In the month of July, 1829, Mrs. Hemans was pre-
vailed upon to make the very unwonted exertion of
undertaking a journey, or rather a voyage, to Scot-
land. To this she had a thousand inducements, in the
attractive invitations continually pressed upon her by
her friends and admirers in that hospitable country,
where her name had long enjoyed an extraordinary
degree of popularity, mingled with strong and afibc-
190 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
tionate personal interest. She had, for some time,
numbered amongst her most valued correspondents,
Mr. Hamilton, the accomplished author of Cyril Thorn-
ton, then residing with his lady at Chiefswood, near
Abbotsford ; and the visit they had for many months
been kindly urging her to make them, with the pecu-
liar allurements it held out, was the primary object of
what, to a person of her usually quiescent habits, was
somewhat of an adventurous enterprise.
" Now, I am going to excite a sensation," wrote
she, in announcing this wonderful project to her friend
at St. Asaph " I am actually about to visit Scotland
going to Mr. Hamilton's at Chiefswood. Charles
has been longing to communicate the important intel-
ligence, as he and Henry are to accompany me ; but
I could not possibly afford the pleasure of the surprise
to any one but myself. And you are about as much
surprised at this moment, I am sure, as if I had writ-
ten you word I was going to the North Pole. The
cause of this marvellous exertion on my part, is, that
Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton are going to Italy in the
autumn, and are very anxious that I should visit Scot-
land before they set out. Altogether, I thought the
occasion quite worthy of rousing my energies."
In her first letter from Chiefswood, Mrs. Hemans
speaks of having had a good deal of illness on the
road, visiting her chiefly in the form of faintness and
violent beating of the heart ; " but I do not feel," she
continues, " as if my general health would be at all
the worse for the journey, as I have had very refresh-
ing sleep since I reached this still and lovely place."
The next affords a proof of that rapid accession of
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 191
vigour and energy, which, under happy and kindly
influences, was yet a characteristic of her buoyant
" You will be pleased to think of me, as 1 now am,
in constant, almost daily, intercourse with Sir Walter
Scott, who has greeted me to this mountain land in
the kindest manner, and with whom I talk freely and
happily, as to an old familiar friend. I have taken
several long walks with him over moor and brae, and
it is indeed delightful to see him thus, and to hear him
pour forth, from the fulness of his rich mind and peo-
pled memory, song, and legend, and tale of old, until
I could almost fancy I heard the gathering-cry of
some chieftain of the hills, so completely does his spirit
carry me back to the. days of the slogan and the fire-
cross. The other day, he most kindly made a party
to take me to the banks of Yarrow, about ten miles
from hence. I went with him in an open carriage.
We forded Ettrick river, passed Carterhaugh (the
scene of the wild fairy legend of ' Tamo' Linn'), and
many a cairn and field of old combat, the heroes of
which seemed to start up before me, in answer to the
' mighty master's' voice, which related their deeds as
we went by. And he is, indeed, a fitting narrator:
his whole countenance the predominant expression
of which is generally a sort of arch benevolence
changes at the slightest allusion to any 'bold emprize.'
'As the stream late conceal'd
By the fringe of its willows,
When it flashes, reveal'd
In the light of its billows ;*
or like the war-horse at the sound of the trumpet
192 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
Sometimes, in reciting a verse of old martial song, he
will suddenly spring up, and one feels ready to ex-
' Charge, Chester, charge ! on, Stanley, on !'
so completely is the electric chain struck by his own
high emotion. But Yarrow ! beautiful Yarrow ! we
wound along its banks, through some stately ground
belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch ; and was it not
like a dream to be walking there with Sir Walter
Scott by my side, reciting, every now and then, some
verse of the fine old ballad? We visited Newark
Tower, and returned to Abbotsford through the Tweed.
The rest of the day was passed at that glorious place,
the hall of which, in particular, is a scene to dream
of, with the rich, purple light streaming in through its
coloured windows, and mantling its stately suits of
armour and heraldic blazonries. We had a great deal
of music in the evening Sir Walter is particularly
fond of national airs and I played many of my
waltzes, and mazurkas, and Spanish melodies, for
which I wish you could have heard how kindly and
gracefully he thanked me. 1 I am fortunate in seeing
him, as I do, surrounded only by his children and
grandchildren, wandering through his own woods,
taking the fresh delight of an uriquenchably youthful
spirit in the creations of his own hands. It is all so
healthful to see and feel ! The boys, too, are quite at
home with him, and he sometimes sings to Charlie
1 His words, treasured up by her boys, were, " I should say
you had too many gifts, Mrs. Hemans, were they not all made to
give pleasure to those around you."
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 193
Charlie is my darling, my darling, my darling,
Charlie is my darling, the young Chevalier.' 1
" We are going to Abbotsford on Saturday, to pass
some days, and then I return to Edinburgh.
"I have said nothing of the Dominie even the
original Dominie Sampson, with whom I have lately
become acquainted nor of my American friends, the
Wares, who dined at Chiefswood the other day (I hav-
ing been introduced to Mrs. Ware on the very pinna-
cle of Melrose Abbey, by moonlight) nor of Mr.
Hamilton himself, whose mind developes so delightfully
but all these will be amongst the bright recollec-
tions I shall bring away with me."
A few days later Mrs. Hemans wrote : "I have
now had the gratification of seeing Sir Walter in
1 One day, when he had taken them both out to walk with him,
they were so emboldened by his condescending good-nature, that
one of them, thinking it an excellent opportunity to settle a ques-
tion which he had often heard speculated upon at home, daringly
inquired " Sir Walter, what did you mean by those two lines
in The Lady of the Lake
'Fox-glove and nightshade, side by side,
Emblems of punishment and pride V
Mamma has always been dying to know, and aunt Harriet has
been puzzling about it all her life."
" Why, my dear little fellow," answered the benignant bard,
" I can only hdpe when you write poetry, that you will make
much better sense of it ; for those emblems, in fact, are very bad
ones. I merely chose the fox-glove to exemplify pride, from its
being so tall and stately ; and nightshade, you know, is poisonous,
and so might be made the means of punishment ; but I believe
hemlock would have been more to the purpose."
VOL. I. 17
194 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
every point of view I could desire : we had one of the
French princes here yesterday, with his suite the
Due de Chartres, son of the Due d'Orleans, and there
was naturally some little excitement diffused through
the household hy the arrival of a royal guest. Sir
Walter was, however, exactly the same, in his own
manly simplicity- kind, courteous, unaffected 'his
foot upon his native heath ;' and his attention even
to Henry and Charles, and their little indulgencies,
considerate and watchful as ever. I must say a few
words of the duke, who is a very elegant young man,
possessing a finished and really noble grace of man-
ner, which conveys at once the idea of Sir Philip Sid-
ney's high thoughts, seated ' in a heart of courtesy/
and which one likes to consider as an appanage of
royal blood. I was a little nervous when Sir Walter
handed me to the piano, on which I was the sole per-
former, for the delectation of the courtly party."
One of the things which particularly struck her
imagination, amongst the thousand relics at Abbots-
ford, was the " sad, fearful picture of Queen Mary
in the dining-room." l And " Oh ! the bright swords !"
she breaks forth in one of her letters " I must not
forget to tell you how I sat, like Minna in The Pirate
(though she stood or moved, I believe), the very ' queen
of swords/ I have the strongest love for the flash of
glittering steel and Sir Walter brought out I know
not how many gallant blades to show me ; one which
1 Fearful, indeed representing her head in a charger, like
John the Baptist's ; and painted the day after her execution av
Fotheringay, by Amias Canrood.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 195
had fought at Killiecrankie, and one which had
belonged to the young Prince Henry, James the First's
son, and one which looked of as noble race and tem-
per as that with which Cceur de Lion severed the
block of steel in Saladin's tent."
This visit to Abbotsford was a bright passage in her
life, never referred to without a rekindling of chival-
rous and affectionate enthusiasm. She had contem-
plated recording her recollections of it in the little
volume of prose sketches already alluded to, as one
of the many projects she was not permitted to accom-
plish. With this view, she wrote down the slight
notes which follow (and which have never been hith-
erto in any way made use of), intending to amplify
them at some future opportunity.
"July, 1829. I walked with Sir Walter Scott
through the Rhymour's Glen. He showed me the
site of a little hamlet, which had been deserted on
account of the supposed visits of a spirit. He de-
scribed to me some extraordinary cavern scenes he
had explored in his voyage round the northern coasts
and isles of Scotland ; mentioned his having sometimes
heard the low, rolling murmur of storms in the air
along those dreary coasts, for hours before the burst-
ing of the tempest ; told me of a friend of his, a man
of by no means an imaginative mind, who had heard
the Wild Huntsman in the air at night, at Valen-
ciennes. So persuaded was this gentleman that a
real chase was sweeping past him through the streets,
that he turned aside into the porch of a church in
order to make way for it. Nothing, however, was
visible ; and he at last became affected with feelings
196 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
of supernatural fear. On mentioning the circum-
stance to the people with whom he lodged, they were
much awe-struck, and told him it was fortunate that,
heretic as he was, he had sheltered within the shadow
of a Catholic church. Sir Walter repeated, with
much animation, part of the Spanish ballad of * Dra-
gut' (see Lockhart's Collection)
Row, row, my slaves, quoth Dragut,' &c.
" He gave me a thrilling description of a scene
which had been witnessed by a friend of his at
Ehrenbreitstein the German army of liberators
crossing the Rhine after their victories. Upon the
first gleam of the noble river, they burst forth into
the song of ' Am Rhein, am Rhein !' They were two
days crossing, during which the rock and the castle
rang out 'to the peal of this gallant strain ; and even
the Cossacks, as they passed over, caught the national
enthusiasm, and, with the clash, and clang, and the
roar of their stormy war-music, swelled out the
chorus of ' Am Rhein, am Rhein !' l
1 This anecdote (on which was founded her own " Rhine
Song"), and the look and tone with which it was related, made
an impression on her memory which nothing could efface. The
very name of the " Father Rhine," the " exulting and abounding
river" (how often would she quote that magnificent line of Lord
Byron's !) had always worked upon her like a spell, conjuring up
a thousand visions of romance and beauty ; and Haydn's inspir-
ing Rheinweinlied, with its fine, rich tide of flowing harmony,
was one of the airs she most delighted in. " You are quite
right," she wrote to a friend who had echoed her enthusiasm,
" it was the description of that noble Rhine scene which inte-
rested me more than any part of Sir Walter's conversation ; and
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 197
" I was much struck with a spot, where we paused
a few moments, and where Huntley burn the little
stream running through the Rhymour's Glen falls
down a steep bank into a sort of natural basin, over-
hung with mountain ash. Sir Walter said he liked
to associate the names of his friends with objects of
interest in natural scenery, and, turning to an old
countryman who walked with us, desired him to make
a seat there, and to call it by my name. I repeated
to him the image employed by a Welsh poet (Aneurin)
to describe the advance of an army ' the sound of
their march was like the surly laughter of ocean
before a storm.' He seemed much impressed by it.
He told me that Cattraeth's Vale, the scene of Aneu-
rin's poem, was supposed to be in the Ettrick country.
" A few days afterwards, I walked with him through
the Hexel's Cleugh ;*a name which he derives from
the German Hexe, a witch. He repeated some curi-
ous anecdotes of animals, of the habits of which he is
very observant. He mentioned that sheep always
choose for their sleeping-place in the pasture, a quar-
ter analogous to the one whence they came; for
instance, that sheep from a western country will
always sleep towards the west, and so on. He spoke
of dogs, and of the poor Indian, who thinks
* Admitted to that equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company!'
He laughed, and said, ' What a train I should have
in the other world ! there would be Maida and Nim-
I wished more that you could have heard it than all the high
legends and solemn scenes of which we spoke that day."
198 MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS.
rod, and Spicy and Ginger ; ' black spirits and white,
blue spirits and grey.' He told me that so completely
did his occasional songs and pieces of poetry pass
from his mind, that one day, hearing a lady sing,
* Farewell, farewell, the voice you hear' (from The
Pirate), he admired the music exceedingly, and, after
bestowing due praise upon it, bethought himself, to
the great amusement of the company, of also highly
complimenting the words. His love of music appears
to me entirely the result of association ; he is much
interested in any air which possesses a national cha-
racter, or has a story, or strong feeling connected
with it. I played for him *O Richard, O mon Roi!'
the < Rhine Song' the ' Tragala Perro' of the
Spanish Liberals a Swiss Ranz des Vaches and
other music of similar character, to which he listened
with earnest attention ; but I should not say he had
naturally any strong feeling of music, merely as such,
though he describes, with thrilling power, its effects
in peculiar scenes and hours of public excitement. 1
He took me to see the Yarrow. On our way, he
spoke with much interest and respect of the high and
proud feeling of ancestry sometimes manifested by
peasant men ; and told an affecting story of two bro-
thers, descended from some noble family, but so re-
duced in circumstances as to be labouring for daily
bread. One of these brothers died, and a gentleman,
1 Sir Walter's own admissions on this head went still further ;
for, in a letter written in 1828, to Mrs. Hemans's sister, he com-
pared himself to Jeremy in Love for Love " having a reason-
able good ear for a jig, though solos and sonatas give me the
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 199
much interested in them, said to the survivor 6 You
are, I know, obliged to struggle for your maintenance ;
leave the care of your brother's funeral to me.' ' No,
sir,' was the answer ; * I feel your kindness gratefully ;
but we are of the house of , and, though poor
and forlorn, my brother must sleep amongst his kin-
dred, and it must be at the charge of their last
descendant that he is conveyed there.' Sir Walter
described an amusing rencontre between himself and
PlatofF. They met on the Boulevards at Paris ; Pla-
toff was riding, attended by several Cossacks ; he im-
mediately dismounted, ran up to Sir Walter, threw
his arms round his neck, and kissed him.
" On the banks of Yarrow, I was shown the house
where Mungo Park was born. Sir Walter, in walk-
ing along the stream, one day came suddenly upon
Park, who was employed, and apparently absorbed,
in throwing stones into the water, and watching the
bubbles that followed their descent. 6 Park, what is
it that thus engages your attention ?' asked Sir Walter.
' I was thinking,' was the reply, * how often I had
thus tried to sound the rivers in Africa, by calculating
how long a time had elapsed before the bubbles rose
to the surface/ ( Then,' said Scott, ' I know you think
of returning to Africa.' ' I do, indeed,' was the an-
swer ; ' but it is yet a secret.' We saw Park's name,
inscribed by himself, in Newark tower, to which we
ascended, after winding along the Yarrow through
the beautiful grounds of the Duke of Buccleuch. 1
1 Here, as little Charlie" recollects, on seeing two tourists
make a precipitate retreat when the Abbotsford party approached
200 MEMOIR OF MRS* HEMANS.
" On the way back, we talked a good deal of trees.
I asked Sir Walter if he had not observed that every
tree gives out its own peculiar sound to the wind. He
said he had, and suggested to me that something might
be done by the union of music and poetry, to imitate
those voices of trees, giving a different measure and
style to the oak, the pine, the willow, &c. He men-
tioned a Highland air of somewhat similar character,
called < The Notes of the Sea-birds.'
" Lord Napier, at dinner, made some observations
upon a recent history of the Peninsular War, in which
the defence of Saragossu had been spoken of as a vain
and lavish waste of life. I was delighted with the
kindling animation of Sir Walter's look and tone, as
he replied " Never let me hear that brave blood has
been shed in vainl It sends a roaring voice down
through all time !" In the evening we had music.
Not being able to sing, I read to him the words of a
Bearnaise song, on the captivity of Louis XVI. and
Marie Antoinette in the Temple ; though simple even
to homeliness, they affected him to tears, and he beg-
ged me not to finish them. 1 I think the feeling of loy-
the tower, Sir Walter said, smiling " Ah ! Mrs. Hemans, they
little know what two Lions they are running away from !"
1F This song will -now, perhaps, be read with interest. It is
called " La Complainte Bearnaise,"
"Un Troubadour Bearnais,
Les yeux inondes de larmes, ,
A ses montagnards chantait
Ce refrain, source d'alarmes,
Louis, le fils d'Henri,
Est prisonnier dans Paris.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 201
ally chivalrous loyalty such as must have existed
amongst the Paladins and preux chevaliers of old
seems the truest and deepest in his character; he
"II a vu couler le sang
De cette garde fidele
Qui vient donner en mourant
Aux Francais un beau modele
Mais Louis, le fils d'Henri,
Est prisonnier dans Paris.
"II a tremble pour les jours
De sa compagne cherie,
Qui n'a trouvee de resource
Que dans sa propre energie;
Elle salt Louis, fils d'Henri,
Dans les prisons de Paris.
"Quel crime done ont-ils commis,
Pour etre enchaines de mme?
Du peuple ils sont amis;
Le peuple veut-il qu'on 1'aime,
Quand il met le fils d'Henri,
Dans les prisons de Paris]
" Le Dauphin, ce fils cheri,
Qui fait seul notre esperance,
De pleurs sera done nourri!
Le berceau qu'on donne en France,
,Aux fils de notre Henri,
Est la prison de Paris.
** Francais, trop ingrats Francois!
Rendez au Roi sa compagne!
C'est 1'amour des Bearnais,
C'est 1'enfant de la montagne
202 MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS.
gives me the idea of being born an age too late for its
free scope. This day has been I was going to say,
one of the happiest, but I am too isolated a being to
use that word at least, one of the pleasantest and
most cheerfully exciting of my life. I shall think
again and again of that walk under the old solemn
trees that hang over the mountain-stream of Yarrow,
with Sir Walter Scott beside me ; his voice frequently
breaking out, as if half unconsciously, into some verse
of the antique ballads, which he repeats with a deep
and homely pathos. One stanza, in particular, will
linger in my memory like music.
'His mother through the window look'd,
With all the longing of a mother,
His little sister, weeping, walk'd
The greenwood path to find her brother.
Le bonheur qu' avait Henri
Nous Tassurons a Louis.
"Au pied de ce monument,
Ou le bon Henri respire,
Pourquoi Tairain foudroyant ? *
On veut que Henri conspire
Lui-meme contre ses fils,
Dans les prisons de Paris.
" Seches tes pleurs, O Troubadour !
Bearnais, sechez vos larmes
Entraines par leur amour,
Tous les Fran^ais courent aux armes,
Pour tirer le fils d'Henri
De sa prison a Paris."
1 Canon place au pied du monument d'Henri Quatre a Paris.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 203
They sought him east, they sought him west,
They sought him far with moan and sorrow
They only saw the cloud of night,
They only heard the roar of Yarrow !'
" Before we retired for the night, he took me into
the hall, and showed me the spot where the imagined
form of Byron had stood before him. This hall, with
the rich gloom shed by its deeply-coloured windows,
and with its antique suits of armour, and inscriptions,
all breathing of ' the olden time/ is truly a fitting scene
for the appearance of so stately a shadow.
" The next morning I left Abbotsford; and who can
leave a spot so brightened and animated by the life,
the happy life of genius, without regret I I shall not
forget the kindness of Sir Walter's farewell so frank,
and simple, and heartfelt, as he said to me ( There
are same whom we meet, and should like ever after
to claim as kith and kin ; and you are one of those.'
It is delightful to take away with me so unmingled an
impression of what I may now call almost affectionate
Amongst the numerous friends Mrs. Hemans was
fortunate enough to possess in Scotland, there was
one to whom she was linked by so peculiar a bond
of union, and whose unwearied kindness is so precious
an inheritance to her children, that it is hoped the
owner of a name so dear to them (though it be a part
of her nature to shrink from publicity), will forgive its
being introduced into these pages.
This invaluable friend was Lady Wedderburn, 1 the
1 The Lady of Sir David Wedderburn, Bart., and sister of the
late Visciountess Hampden. The monument on which the lines
are inscribed, is at Glynde, in Sussex, near tord Hampden's seat.
204 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
mother of those " two brothers, a child and a youth/ 5
for whose monument Mrs. Hemans had written an
inscription, which, with its simple pathos, has doubt-
less sunk deep into the heart of many a mourner, as
well as of many a yet rejoicing parent, there called
upon to remember that for them, too,
"Speaks the grave,
Where God hath sealed the fount of hope He gave."
Into the gentle heart, which has found relief for
its own sorrows in soothing the griefs and promoting
the enjoyments of others, the author of this sacred
tribute was taken with a warmth and loving-kindness
which extended its genial influence to all belonging to
her; and during their stay in Edinburgh, whither
they proceeded from Abbotsford, Mrs. Hemans and
her children were cherished with a true home welcome
at the house of Sir David Wedderburn. Her impres-
sions of that queen-like city, and the generous cordi-
ality of her reception amongst some of the most dis-
tinguished of its inhabitants, will best appear in her
" I am quite delighted with Edinburgh it is a
gallant city to behold, full of picture at every turn
of the streets; and I have been greeted with such
attention here, that truly I might begin to fancy my-
self a queen in good earnest, if I remained much
longer. I never can forget the cordial kindness I have
received, and all the impressions I shall carry hence
will be bright and pleasant. I am very glad to have
seen it at this time of the year, when it was repre-
sented to me as a perfect desert. A person must be
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 205
of most gregarious habits indeed, who cannot find
more than enough of society even in these desolate
months. I have made some very interesting acquaint-
ance Mrs. Grant of Laggan, Captain Basil Hall, and,
above all, Mr. Jeffrey, at whose house in the country
I dined yesterday. His conversation is such mental
champagne as I never tasted before rich, full of
imagery, playful, energetic ; certainly one of the most
delightful days I have passed in Scotland, has been
the one at Craig Crook, as his seat is called. To-day
we are going to dine with Mrs. Grant. The boys are
well, and are delighted to see their heroine ' mamma'
so kindly welcomed by every one."
The next extract is from a letter to her son Claude,
who was staying, during her absence, at Wavertree
Lodge. " 1 have just returned from visiting Edinburgh
Castle (the citadel, you know, of this noble town), and
looking at the Scottish regalia, which are kept in one
of the rooms. There is something impressive in the
sight of a crown, sword, and sceptre, which have been
the object of so many gallant struggles ; and I could
have looked at them long with increasing interest.
They are shown by the light of lamps, though at noon-
day, in a small room, hung with dark crimson. Last
Sunday I attended the preaching of Mr. Alison : he
has a countenance of most venerable beauty, a deep
mellow voice, and an earnest gentleness of manner,
which goes at once to the heart, and wins a feeling of
almost filial affection. After the service was ended,
he came forward very kindly to be introduced to me,
and took me, with Charles and Henry, into the vestry-
room, where I had a good deal of conversation with
VOL. I. 18
206 MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS.
him. He gave me an account of his having seen the
hody of James V. (father to Mary Queen of Scots),
several years ago, in such perfect preservation, that
the resemblance of the features to the portraits of that
king, was quite distinct.
" Nothing in Edinburgh delights me so much as
the Calton Hill, which I visit whenever I have an
opportunity, and on which stands the unfinished Par-
thenon, with its graceful pillars. The view from the
summit, of the strange gloomy Old Town, ' piled deep
and massy, close and high,' and all the classic build-
ings and columns of the New, is quite unparalleled.
All this, too, lies set in a frame of hills of the boldest
outline. I have not yet felt strong enough to ascend
Arthur's Seat, and almost fear that I must not think
of it, as I have violent palpitations of the heart when
over fatigued. Charlie goes out every morning, to
draw from nature, as he calls it, some of the fine pub-
lic buildings of Edinburgh, and has now quite a series
of these sketches, which I am sure you will like to see."
" I have just returned from paying the visit I men-
tioned to Mr. Mackenzie, the ' Man of Feeling,' and
have been exceedingly interested. He is now very
infirm, and his powers of mind are often much affected
by the fitfulness of nervous indisposition, so that his
daughter, who introduced me to his sitting-room, said '
very mournfully as we entered, * You will see but the
wreck of my father/ However, on my making some
allusion, after his first kind and gentle reception of me,
to the ' men of other times,' with whom he had lived
in such brilliant association, it was really like the
effect produced on the * Last Minstrel'
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 207
* when he caught the measure wild ;
The old man raised his face, and smiled,
And lighted up his faded eye;'
for he became immediately excited, and all his fur-
rowed countenance seemed kindling with recollections
of a race gone by. It was singular to hear anecdotes
of Hume, and Robertson, and Gibbon, and the other
intellectual ' giants of old,' from one who had mingled
with their minds in familiar converse. I felt as if car-
ried back at least a century.
" < Ah !' said he, half playfully, half sadly, * there
were men in Scotland then !' I could not help think-
ing of the story of * Ogier the Dane' do you recollect
his grasping the iron crow of the peasant who broke
into his sepulchre, and exclaiming, ' It is well, there
are men in Denmark still?' Poor Miss Mackenzie
was so much affected by the sudden and almost unex-
pected awakening of her father's mind, that, on leav-
ing the room with me, she burst into tears, and was
some time before she could conquer her strong emo-
tion. I hope to have another interview with this
delightful old man before I leave Edinburgh.
" Yesterday I went to visit a fine colossal group of
sculpture, Ajax bearing away the body of Patroclus,
which has just been completed by an Edinburgh
artist, and is exciting much interest here. Its effect,
standing as it does, quite alone, in the midst of a large
hall hung with dark crimson, is exceedingly imposing ;
and the contrast of life and death in the forms of the
combating and the departed warrior, struck me as full
of power and thought.
208 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
" A few nights ago, I made a party to walk through
some of the most beautiful streets by moonlight. We
went along Prince's Street, to the foot of the Calton
Hill, and gazed down upon Holyrood, lying so dark
and still in its desolateness, and forming so strong a
contrast to the fair pillars of the Hill, which looked
more pure and aerial than ever, as they rose against
the moonlight sky. ' Mais qu'ils se passent dcs orages
au fond du cceur /' and how little can those around
one form an idea, from outward signs, of what may
be overshadowing the inner world of the heart. Such
a sense of strangeness and loneliness came suddenly
over me, surrounded as I was, amidst all this dusky
magnificence, by acquaintance of yesterday. I felt as
if all I loved were so far, far removed from me, that
I could have burst into tears from the rush of this
The adulation and excitement with which she was
surrounded, however animating and amusing at the
moment, could not but be followed, to a heart and
frame constituted like hers, by a reaction of inward
depression and physical languor. Amidst all her lively
details, there are continual allusions to " the pure and
home-feeling the cup of water to which I turn from
all else that is offered me, as I would to a place of
shelter from the noon-day ;" and she gratefully wrote
of finding Lady Wedderburn's " maternal kindness, as
a ' soft green to the soul' amidst all this excitement."
She was singularly impressed by the picture at Holy-
rood House, shown as that of Rizzio. The authenti-
city of this designation is said to be more than doubt-
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 209
ful ; but hers was not a mind for question or cavil on
points of this nature. The " local habitation and the
name" were in themselves sufficient to awaken her
fancy and to satisfy her faith. As Rizzio's portrait, it
took its place in her imaginatioa; and the train of
deep and mournful thoughts it suggested, imbued, as
was her wont, with the colouring of her own individual
feelings, was embodied in the lines " To a remembered
"They haunt me still those calm, pure, holy eyes!
Their piercing sweetness wanders through my dreams ;
The soul of music that within them lies,
Comes o'er my soul in soft and sudden gleams:
Life spirit life immortal and divine
Is there and yet how dark a death was thine !"
In a very different strain was a jeu d? esprit pro-
duced at this time, which owed its origin to a simple
remark on the unseasonableness of the weather ; made
by Mrs. Hemans to Mr. Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe,
whom she was in the habit of seeing at Sir David
Wedderburn's. " It is so little like summer," she said,
"that I have not even seen a butterfly." "A but-
terfly !" retorted Mr. Sharpe " I have not even seen
a wasp !" The next morning, as if in confutation of
this calumny, a wasp made its appearance at Lady
WedderburnV breakfast table. Mrs. Hemans imme-
diately proposed that it should be made a prisoner,
inclosed in a bottle, and sent to Mr. Sharpe : this was
accordingly done, and the piquant missive was acknow-
ledged by him as follows :
210 MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS.
"SONNET TO A WASP, IN THE MANNER OF MILTON, &c., BUT
Poor insect ! rash as rare ! Thy sovereign, 1 sure,
Hath driven thee to Siberia in disgrace
Else what delusion could thy sense allure,
To buzz and sting in this unwholesome place,
Where e'en the hornet's hoarser, and the race
Of filmy wing are feeble 1 Honey here
(Scarce as its rhyme) thou findest not. Ah ! beware
Thy golden mail, to starved Arachne dear; 2
Though fingers famed, that thrill th' immortal lyre
Have pent thee up, a second Asmodeus,
I wail thy doom I warm thee by the fire,
And blab our secrets do not thou betray us !
I give thee liberty, I give thee breath,
To fly from Athens, Eurus, Doctors, Death ! !"
To this Mrs. Hemans returned the following re-
" THE LAST WORDS OF THE LAST WASP OF SCOTLAND.
Sooth'd by the strain, the Wasp thus mexle reply
(The first, last time he spoke not waspishly)
"Too late, kind Poet! comes thine aid, thy song,
To aught first starved, then bottled up so long.
Yet, for the warmth of this thy genial fire,
Take a Wasp's blessing ere his race expire.
Never may provost's foot find entrance here !
Never may bailie's voice invade thine ear!
Never may housemaid wipe the verd antique
From coin of thine Assyrian, Celt, or Greek !
Never may Eurus cross thy path! to thee
May winds and wynds 3 alike propitious be!
1 Beelzebub is the king of flies.
2 A beautiful allusion to our starving weavers.
9 Alluding to antiquarian visits to these renowned closes.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 211
And when thou diest (live a thousand years!)
May friends fill classic bottles 1 with their tears!
I can no more receive my parting gasp!
Bid Scotland mourn the last, last lingering Wasp!"
In the families of the late revered Baron Hume
and Mr. Alison, Mrs. Hemans formed friendships which
were most affectionately maintained throughout her
life, and of which a grateful remembrance was be-
queathed to her children. Another name, associated
with a thousand pleasant recollections of courteous
services to herself, and indefatigable good-nature to
her boys, was that of the late Dr. James Gregory,
that " bright-minded and most amiable being" (to use
her own words), whose early death, which, only three
years afterwards, removed him from a circle of which
he was the delight and ornament, filled her with sor-
row and sympathy.
She would often playfully boast of the great favour
she had all her life enjoyed with " very old gentle-
men," to whom, indeed, her winning and filial manner
was always peculiarly endearing. This was especially
instanced in the case of the venerable Sir Robert
Liston, who, at that time, though already an octo-
genarian, was yet in the fullest exercise of all his
refined tastes and courtly hospitalities. Nothing could
exceed the enthusiasm of his admiration for Mrs.
Hemans, nor the kindliness of his interest in her chil-
dren. It was at the earnest request of her chival-
rous old friend, that, when on the point of returning
1 Referring to certain precious lachrymatories in the posses-
sion of Mr. Sharpe.
212 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
to Wavertree, she was persuaded to adjourn for a
short time to Milburn Tower, his beautiful retreat
near Edinburgh, for the purpose of sitting for her bust
to Mr. Angus Fletcher. " How happy I shall be,"
she wrote, " to breathe in the green shades of Mil-
burn ! It is a lovely place, and I delight in the
thoughts of its comparative repose, for I cannot tell
you how I am yearning for quiet."
" Sitting for a bust," she wrote in a subsequent
letter, " awful as it may sound, is by no means an
infliction so terrible as sitting for a picture : the
sculptor allows much greater liberty of action, as
every part of the head and form is necessary to his
work. My effigy is now nearly completed, and is
thought to be a performance of much talent."
It is indeed very graceful as a work of art, and
though the likeness is not satisfying at first to homely
and household eyes, it wins its way by degrees into
the heart, and from certain accidents of light or
position, a resemblance may sometimes unexpectedly
be caught, which is almost startling.
After her visit to Milburn Tower., Mrs. Hemans
returned to her own little dwelling, rich in recol-
lections, and eager, as usual, to share them with her
friends. She had, soon afterwards, a cheerful visit
from Miss Jewsbury, who was struck with her im-
proved spirits, and liked her house, and gave a plea-
sant sketch of the evening group. " When night
comes," she wrote, " and the darling boys are arrived
from school, and candles are lighted, and the doors
shut, our cabinet room would make a charming cabi-
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 213
In the Edinburgh Review, for October, 1829, 1 was
an article on the poetry of Mrs. Hemans, from the
master-hand of Mr. Jeffrey. The peculiar charac-
teristics of her style are there touched upon with a
delicacy and discrimination worthy of the mighty
critic, who had in this instance laid aside his terrors,
and may well be said to have " done his spiriting
gently." Her writings are treated throughout as
a fine exemplification of " female poetry ;" and he
brings into beautiful relief " that fine accord she has
established between the world of sense and of soul
that delicate blending of our deep inward emotions
with their splendid symbols and emblems without."
" Almost all her poems," writes this high authority,
"are rich with fine descriptions, and studded over
with images of visible beauty. But these are never
idle ornaments : all her pomps have a meaning ; and
her flowers and her gems are arranged, as they are
said to be among Eastern lovers, so as to speak the
language of truth and of passion. This is peculiarly
remarkable in some little pieces, which seem at first
sight to be purely descriptive but are soon found to
tell upon the heart, with a deep moral and pathetic
impression. But it is a truth nearly as conspicuous
in the greater part of her productions; where we
scarcely meet with any striking sentiment that is not
ushered in by some such symphony of external nature,
1 It should have been mentioned in the proper order of date,
that a very favourable critique on Mrs. Hemans's earlier poems
(including all her publications, from the " Restoration of the
Works of Art," to the " Stanzas to the Memory of the late
King,") appeared in the Quarterly Review, for October, 1820.
214 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
and scarcely a lovely picture that does not serve as a
foreground to some deep or lofty emotion."
Mrs. Hemans's productions, during this winter, were
chiefly lyrics belonging to the series of Songs of the
Affections, and other short miscellaneous pieces. The
principal one of these, " The Spirit's Return," was at
that time preferred by herself to any thing else she
had written. Still it was far from satisfying her, and'
she was worn and excited during its composition, by
what she was wont to call " that weary striving after
ideal beauty which one never can grasp," and yet
more by those awful contemplations of the visionary
world, on which it led her to dwell with an interest
too intense, a curiosity too disquieting.
" Sometimes I think," she wrote of this poem to a
friend, " that I have sacrificed too much in the ap-
parition scene, to the idea that sweetness and beauty
might be combined with supernatural effect. The
character of the Greek sculpture, which has so singu-
lar a hold upon my imagination, was much in my
thoughts at the time." And, referring to the same
piece two years after, she wrote: "If there be, as
my friends say, a greater power in it than I had before
evinced, I paid dearly for the discovery, and it almost
made me tremble as I sounded ' the deep places of
my soul.' "
The following extracts belong to this period:
" I have found the Spanish ballad on the death of
Aliatar, since you were here, and have been sur-
prised, notwithstanding all the proud music of the
original language, by the superior beauty of Southey's
translation. The refrain of
MEMOIRS OF MRS. HEMANS. 215
Las trompas roncas,"
has certainly a more stately tone of sorrow, than
"Sad and slow,
Home they go;"
and yet the latter is to me a thousand times more
touching. Is it that word home which makes it so,
with all that it breathes of tenderness and sadness?"
" On calling up and reconsidering my impressions
of Martin's picture, 1 it seems to me that something
more of gloomy grandeur might have been thrown
about the funeral pyre ; that it should have looked
more like a thing apart, almost suggesting of itself
the idea of an awful sacrifice. Perhaps it was not in
the resources of the painter to do all this; but the
imagination, mine at least, seems to require it."
" Have you read Manzone's noble ode on the death-
day of Napoleon, 2 translated by Archdeacon Wrang-
ham ? It has just been sent me by Signor Grimaldi,
and I know not when I have met with Italian poetry
so rich in deep thought and powerful expression."
" I send you part of the conversation which so
much delighted me in Tieck's Phantasien. I think
you will recognise all the high tone of the thoughts,
and be pleased with the glimpse a bright though
transient one of the dreaming-land that strange
1 The Fall of Nineveh. 2 The Cinque Maggio.
216 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
world, which, were I to designate it by my own ex-
perience, I should call a wilderness of beauty and of
" I believe it is only where the feelings are deeply
interested, that the imagination causes such perpetual
bitterness of disappointment. Do you remember St.
Leon's dissatisfaction at the manner in which his
daughters receive the tidings of his death ? I begin
to think that all imaginative persons are, to a certain
degree, St. Leons, and that they expect what human
nature is very seldom rich enough to afford."
" I have been reading Godwin's Cloudesley. It
does not, I think, carry away the imagination with
anything like the mighty spirit of his earlier works ;
but it is beautifully written, with an occasional flow
of rich and fervent eloquence, reminding me of the
effects he attributes to the conversation of his own
old alchemist in St. Leon."
Early in the summer of 1830, Mrs. Hemans pub-
lished her volume of Songs of the Jffections, which
was dedicated to her revered friend, Sir Robert
Liston. In the month of June, of the same year, she
accomplished a project which she had long had at
heart, of making a visit to the Lakes of Westmore-
land. Her tremulous health, which had undergone
many vicissitudes during the winter, needed repose
and refreshment ; her spirit was wearied out with the
' glare and dust of celebrity,' and she longed to ' flee
away and be at rest,' for a season amongst the green
hills, and beside the still waters. More than all, she
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 217
was attracted to that lovely land by the yet stronger
spell exercised over her mind, by the prospect of im-
mediate communion with Mr. Wordsworth, of whom
she was daily becoming a more zealous disciple, and
whose invitations had been kind and reiterated. Her
son Charles was her companion on the journey to
Rydal Mount ; and the two other boys joined her as
soon as she was established in a temporary abode of
No words but those of her own letters can do jus-
tice to her impressions of society and scenery, which,
by those who have once enjoyed them, can never be
" My nervous fear at the idea of presenting myself
to Mr. Wordsworth, grew upon me so rapidly, that it
was more than seven o'clock before I took courage to
leave the inn at Ambleside. I had, indeed, little
cause for such trepidation. I was driven to a lovely
cottage-like building, almost hidden by a profusion of
roses and ivy ; and a most benignant-looking old man
greeted me in the porch. This was Mr. Wordsworth
himself; and when I tell you that, having rather a
large party of visiters in the house, he led me to a
room apart from them, and brought in his family by
degrees, I am sure that little trait will give you an
idea of considerate kindness which you will both like
"There is an almost patriarchal simplicity about
him an absence of all pretension. All is free, un-
"The river winding at its own sweet will"
VOL. I. 19
218 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
in his manner and conversation. There is more of
impulse about them than I had expected ; but in other
respects I see much that I should have looked for in
the poet of meditative life : frequently his head droops,
his eyes half close, and he seems buried in quiet
depths of thought. I have passed a delightful morn-
ing to-day in walking with him about his own richly
shaded grounds, and hearing him speak of the old
English writers, particularly Spenser, whom he loves,
as he himself expresses it, for his " earnestness and
" I must not forget to tell you that he not only
admired our exploit in crossing the Ulverstone Sands,
as a deed of " derring do," but as a decided proof of
taste : the Lake scenery, he says, is never seen to such
advantage as after the passage of what he calls its
" I have been making you a little drawing of Mr.
Wordsworth's house, which, though it has no other
merit than that of fidelity, will, I know, find favour
in your sight. The steps up the front lead to a little
grassy mound, commanding a view always so rich,
and sometimes so brightly solemn, that one can well
imagine its influence traceable in many of the Poet's
writings. On this mount he frequently sits all even-
ing, and sometimes seems borne away in thought."
" I seem to be writing to you almost from the spirit-
land ; all is here so brightly still, so remote from every-
day cares and tumults, that sometimes I can hardly
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 219
persuade myself I am not dreaming. It scarcely
seems to be ' the light of common day' that is clothing
the woody mountains before me ; there is something
almost visionary in its soft gleams and ever-changing
shadows. I am charmed with Mr. Wordsworth, whose
kindness to me has quite a soothing influence over my
spirits. Oh ! what relief, what blessing there is in the
feeling of admiration, when it can be freely poured
forth ! ' There is a daily beauty in his life,' which is
in such lovely harmony with his poetry, that I am
thankful to have witnessed and felt it. He gives me
a good deal of his society, reads to me, walks with me,
leads my pony when I ride ; and I begin to talk with
him as with a sort of paternal friend. The whole of
this morning, he kindly passed in reading to me a great
deal from Spenser, and afterwards his own Laodamia,
my favourite Tintern Mbey, and many of his noble
sonnets. His reading is very peculiar, but, to my ear,
delightful ; slow, solemn, earnest in expression more
than any I have ever heard : when he reads or recites
in the open air, his deep rich tones seem to proceed
from a spirit-voice, and belong to the religion of the
place ; they harmonize so fitly with the thrilling tones
of woods and waterfalls. His expressions are often
strikingly poetical ; such as ' I would not give up the
mists that spiritualize our mountains, for all the blue
skies of Italy.' Yesterday evening he walked beside
me as I rode 'on a long and lovely mountain-path, high
above Grasmere Lake. I was much interested by his
showing me, carved deep into the rock, as we passed,
the initials of his wife's name, inscribed there many
years ago by himself; and the dear old man, like ' Old
220 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
Mortality,' renews them from time to time. I could
scarcely help exclaiming ' Esto perpetua !' "
" It is delightful to see a life in such perfect har-
mony with all that his writings express
True to the kindred points of Heaven and home ! '
You may remember how much I disliked, and I think
you agreed with me in reprobating, that shallow the-
ory of Mr. Moore's with regard to the unfitness of
genius for domestic happiness. I was speaking of it
yesterday to Mr. Wordsworth, and was pleased by his
remark, ' It is not because they possess genius that
they make unhappy homes, but because they do not
possess genius enough ; a higher order of mind would
enable them to see and feel all the beauty of domestic
ties.' His mind, indeed, may well inhabit an untrou-
bled atmosphere, for, as he himself declares, no wound-
ed affections, no embittered feelings, have ever been
his lot ; the current of his domestic life has flowed on,
bright, and pure, and unbroken. Hence, I think,
much of the- high, sculpture-like repose which invests
both his character and writings with so tranquil a
" Mr. Wordsworth's kindness has inspired me with
a feeling of confidence which it is delightful to asso-
ciate with those of admiration and respect, before
excited by his writings ; and he has treated me with
so much consideration, and gentleness, and care!
they have been like balm to my spirit after all the
fades flatteries with which I am blasee. I wish I had
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 221
time to tell you of mornings which he has passed in
reading to me, and of evenings when he has walked
heside me, whilst I rode through the lovely vales of
Grasmere and Rydal ; and of his beautiful, sometimes
half-unconscious recitation, in a voice so deep and
solemn, that it has often brought tears into my eyes.
One little incident I must describe. We had been
listening, during one of these evening rides, to various
sounds and notes of birds, which broke upon the still-
ness, and at last I said 'Perhaps there may be a
deeper and richer music pervading all Nature, than
we are permitted, in this state, to hear.' He answered
by reciting those glorious lines of Milton's,
4 Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth,
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep,' &c.
and this in tones that seemed rising from such depths
of veneration ! I cannot describe the thrill with which
I listened ; it was like the feeling which Lord Byron
has embodied in one of his best and purest moments,
when he so beautifully says,
'And not a breath crept through the rosy air,
And yet the forest leaves seemed stirred with prayer.'
Mr. Wordsworth's daily life in the bosom of his family,
is delightful so affectionate and confiding. I cannot
but mournfully feel, in the midst of their happiness,
' Still, still, I am a stranger here !' but where am I
not a stranger 'now ?"
" Yesterday I rode round Grasmere and Rydal Lake.
It was a glorious evening, and the imaged heaven in
the waters more completely filled rny mind, even to
222 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
overflowing, than I think any object in nature ever
did before. I could have stood in silence before the
magnificent vision for an hour, as it flushed and faded,
and darkened at last into the deep sky of a summer's
night. I thought of the scriptural expression, ' A sea
of glass mingled with fire :' no other words are fervid
enough to convey the least impression of what lay
burning before me." 1
In the midst of all these enjoyments, a slight acci-
dent, or rather an accident manque, a little interfered
with the improvement in her health, which had before
<been so apparent. " I have been very nearly thrown,"
she wrote, " from a spirited palfrey ; and though I
flatter myself that Di. Vernon herself could scarcely
have displayed more self-possession in the actual mo-
ment of danger, still the shock and surprise, which
were so great as to deprive me of my voice for several
minutes, have brought on severe beating of the heart,
and left me as tremulous as an aspen leaf. They
1 This sweet vale of Grasmere, with its secluded beauty, par-
taking almost of an air of consecration, was one of the visions
she best loved to call up ; and her sonnet, " A Remembrance of
Grasmere," written four years afterwards, describes the peculiar
colouring with which her imagination invested it.
"O vale and lake, within your mountain urn,
Smiling so tranquilly, and set so deep !
Oft doth your dreamy loveliness return,
Colouring the tender shadows of my sleep
With light Elysian: for the hues that steep
Your shores in melting lustre, seem to float
On golden clouds from spirit-lands remote
Isles of the blest ; and in our memory keep
Their place with holiest harmonies."
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 223
have not, however, startled my courage from its * pride
of place/ as I am going to mount the same steed this
After continuing for more than a fortnight the
inmate of Rydal Mount, 1 Mrs. Hemans took up her
1 The description of this lovely spot, in a little poem called
" The Poet's Home," written by Miss Jewsbury, and published
in the Literary Magnet for 1826, is so true and graphic, that it
cannot but add to the interest of these details, and must be
echoed by all who can personally vouch for its fidelity.
"Low and white, yet scarcely seen
Are its walls, for mantling green,
Not a window lets in light,
But through flowers clustering bright;
Not a glance may wander there,
But it falls on something fair;
Garden choice, and fairy mound,
Only that no elves are found ;
Winding walk, and sheltered nook,
For student grave, and graver book:
Or a bird-like bower, perchance,
Fit for maiden and romance.
Then, far off, a glorious sheen
Of wide and sun-lit waters seen ;
Hills, that in the distance lie,
Blue and yielding as the sky;
And nearer, closing round the nest,
The home, of all, the * living crest, 1
Other rocks and mountains stand,
Rugged, yet a guardian band,
Like those that did, in fable old.
Elysium from the world infold.
Poet! though such dower be thine,
Deem it not as yet divine;
224 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
abode at a sweet little retired cottage called Dove
Nest, which had so taken her fancy when she first
What shall outward sign avail,
If the answering- spirit fail ?
What this beauteous dwelling be,
If it hold not hearts for thee ?
If thou call its charms thine own,
Yet survey those charms alone 1
List again: companions meet
Thou shalt have in thy retreat.
One, of long tried love and truth,
Thine in age, as thine in youth;
One whose locks of partial grey
Whisper somewhat of decay ;
Yet whose bright and beaming eye
Tells of more, that cannot die.
Then a second form beyond,
Thine too, by another bond;
Sportive, tender, graceful, wild,
Scarcely woman, more than child
One who doth thy heart entwine,
Like the ever clinging vine ;
One to whom thou art a stay,
As the oak, that, scarred and grey,
Standeth on, and standeth fast,
Strong and stately to the last.
Poet's lot like this hath been;
Such perchance may I have seen;
Or in fancy's fairy land,
Or in truth, and near at hand:
If in fancy, then, forsooth,
Fancy had the force of truth ;
If again a truth it were,
Then was truth as fancy fair;
But whichever it might be,
, 'T was a paradise to me !" M. J. J.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 225
saw it from the lake, that it seemed quite a gleam of
good fortune to find that it was to be let, and that she
could engage rooms there for a few weeks' sojourn.
Here she was joined by the rest of her little group,
and it might have been difficult to say which of the
party was most alive to the " sweet influences'' around
them. " Henry out with his fishing-rod, and Charles
sketching, and Claude climbing the hill above the
Nest. I cannot follow," she continued, " for I have
not strength yet ; but I think in feeling I am more a
child than any of them."
" How shall I tell you," she wrote from this deli-
cious retirement, "of all the loveliness by which I
am surrounded of all the soothing and holy influence
it seems shedding down into my inmost heart. I have
sometimes feared, within the last two years, that the
effect of suffering and adulation, and feelings too
highly wrought and too severely tried, would have
been to dry up within me the fountains of such pure
and simple enjoyment ; but now I know that
'Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her.'
I can think of nothing but what is pure, and true,
and kind ; and my eyes are filled with grateful tears
even whilst I am writing to you.
" I must try to describe my little nest, since I can-
not ' call spirits from the vasty Lake/ to bring you
hither through the air. The house was originally
meant for a small villa, though it has long passed into
the hands of farmers, and there is in consequence an
air of neglect about the little demesne, which does not
226 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
at all approach desolation, and yet gives it something
of touching interest. You see every where traces of
love and care beginning to be effaced rose trees
spreading into wildness laurels darkening the win-
dows with too luxuriant branches ; and I cannot help
saying to myself, 'Perhaps some heart like my own in
its feelings and sufferings has here sought refuge and
found repose/ The ground is laid out in rather an
antiquated style, which, now that nature is beginning
to reclaim it from art, I do not at all dislike. There
is a little grassy terrace immediately under the win-
dow, descending to a small court with a circular grass
plot, on which grows one tall white rose tree. You
cannot imagine how I delight in that fair, solitary,
neglected-looking tree. I am writing to you from an
old-fashioned alcove in the little garden, round which
the sweet briar and moss rose tree have completely
run wild ; and I look down from it upon lovely Winan-
dermere, which seems at this moment even like another
sky, so truly is every summer cloud and tint of azure
pictured in its transparent mirror."
"I am so much delighted with the spot, that I
scarcely know how I shall leave it. The situation
is one of the deepest retirement ; but the bright lake
before me, with all its fairy barks and sails, glancing
like * things of life,' over its blue water, prevents the
solitude from being overshadowed by any thing like
" I visited Elleray, Professor Wilson's house 1 (though
1 Now the residence of Thomas Hamilton, Esq.
MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS. 227
he is not now at home), a few days since. The scene
around it is in itself a festival. I never saw any land-
scape bearing so triumphant a character. The house,
which is beautiful, seems built as if to overlook some
fairy pageant, something like the Venetian splendour
of old, on the glorious lake beneath."
" I should have thanked you sooner for all those
spirit-stirring tales from the early annals of England :
they will afford me food for thought some future day :
but I think my spirit is too much lulled by these sweet
scenes, to breathe one song of sword and spear until
I have bid Winandermere farewell."
" There is balm in the very stillness of the spot I
have chosen. 1 The majestic silence of these lakes,
perfectly soundless and waveless as they are, except
when troubled by the wind, is to me most impressive.
Oh ! what a poor thing is society in the presence of
skies and waters and everlasting hills ! You may be
sure I do not allude to the dear intercourse of friend
with friend; that would be dearer tenfold more
precious, more hallowed in scenes like this."
In dwelling upon these records of pure and health-
ful enjoyment, poured forth so freshly and freely from
the ever-gushing fountain of her heart, it is difficult
to repress the natural pangs that arise, of sorrowful
yearning and tender pity, for one who, with feelings
1 " Where even the motion of an angel's wing
Would interrupt the intense tranquillity
Of silent hills, and more than silent sky."
228 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
so attuned to the sweetest and holiest harmonies of
life, was, by her troubled and bewildering lot, shut
out from all but transient breathings, " few and far
between," of " an ampler ether, a diviner air." Such
instances are fraught with regrets to human hearts,
with sad and strange mysteries to mortal vision ;
regrets and mysteries which can alone be soothed and
solved by unquestioning faith, and serene reliance on
the good providence of God. A passage from the
works of the late John Bowdler, bearing upon this
subject, and quoted in one of her own letters, was
appropriated by her with no less happy effect than
fitting application. It is as follows : " Could the veil
which now separates us from futurity be drawn aside,
and those regions of everlasting happiness and sorrow,
which strike so faintly on the imagination, be pre-
sented fully to our eyes, it would occasion, I doubt not,
a sudden and strange revolution in our estimate of
things. Many are the distresses for which we now
weep in suffering or sympathy, that would awaken us
to songs of thanksgiving ; many the dispensations
which now seem dreary and inexplicable, that would
fill our adoring hearts with thanksgiving and joy."
The soothing and healthful repose which had been
so thoroughly and thankfully appreciated, was, alas !
not destined to be of long continuance. Subsequent
letters speak of the irruption of parties " hunting for
lions in dove's nests" of a renewal of the "Album
persecution" of an absolute Maelstrom of letters
and papers threatening " to boil over the drawer to
which they were consigned ;" till at last the despair-
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 229
ing conclusion is come to, that " one might as well
hope for peace in the character of a shadowless man
as of a literary woman." How heartily could Mrs.
Hemans now have repeated what she had written
some months before, under the pressure of peculiar
irritation " Do you know the song * Where shall
we bury our shame? 9 Change the last word into
fame, and it will express all my present perplexities."
On quitting her pretty Dove Nest 1 about the mid-
dle of August, Mrs. Hemans was prevailed upon to
make a second visit to Scotland, chiefly in compliance
with the urgent invitations of her kind old friend Sir
Robert Liston, whose advanced age made it so im-
probable that she should have any other chance of
ever seeing him again. On this occasion, she and her
little " Carlo dolce," as some of her friends would
affectionately call him, were every where received
with the same gratifying distinction, and still more
1 Her residence at this fairy dwelling 1 was pleasingly recorded
by the magic pen of Christopher North, in the paper called, a
" Day at Winandermere," in BlackwoocTs Magazine, for Sep-
tember, 1830. He is describing the principal features of the
landscape from one favourite point " On the nearer side of
these hills is seen stretching far off to other lofty regions Hill-
bell and High Street conspicuous over the rest the long vale of
Troutbreck, with its picturesque cottag'es, * in numbers without
number, numberless,' and all its sable pines and sycamores ; on
the farther side/ that most sylvan of all sylvan mountains, where
lately the Hemans warbled her native woodnotes wild in her
poetic bower, fitly called Dove Nest ; and beyond, Kirkstone
Fells and Rydal Head, magnificent giants, looking westward to
the Langdale Pikes,
'The last that parley with the setting sun.'
VOL. I. 20
230 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
gratifying kindness, which had marked their sojourn
in the North. Several of the visits were now ac-
complished which she had, at that time, been obliged
to decline ; particularly to those " stately homes of
Scotland," Hopetoun House and Kinfauns Castle.
During her stay at Milburn Tower, she formed a
friendship with the family of the late J. C. Graves,
Esq. of Dublin, who were Sir Robert Liston's guests
at the same time ; and having in view a visit to
Wales in the course of the autumn, she was induced
by them to carry this into effect by way of Dublin
and Holyhead, instead of proceeding from Glasgow to
Mrs. Hemans had been for some time possessed with
the conviction that her situation at Wavertree was
neither suitable to her own health, nor half so favour-
able a one as she had been led to hope, for the edu-
cation of her sons. She had therefore found it neces-
sary to contemplate another change of residence, and
had once serious thoughts of establishing herself in
Edinburgh ; a plan which would have been, in many
respects, most desirable ; but the opinion of her medi-
cal friends was uniform and decided, that her consti-
tution was totally unfit to brave the severity of a
northern climate, and that, in fact, one winter, or
rather spring, in Edinburgh, might be fatal to her.
Having formed very agreeable impressions of Dub-
lin on her present visit, and being much influenced
by the encouraging reports she heard of its climate
and educational advantages, as well as by the circum-
stance of her brother, Major Browne, being settled in
Ireland, she now came to the determination of remov
MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS. 231
ing there in the following spring. Late in the autumn,
on her way back to Wavertree, she paid her last visit
to Bronwylfa, and bade a second, and now an uncon-
sciously final, adieu to the
" Green land of her childhood, her home, and her dead."
The following extracts are chiefly from letters ad-
dressed to her new friends in Dublin :
" I thought Anglesey, through which I travelled,
without exception, the most dreary, culinary looking
land of prose I ever beheld. I strove in vain to con-
jure up the ghost of a Druid, or even of a tree, on
its wide, monotonous plains, which I really think
nature must have produced to rest herself, after the
strong excitement of composing the Caernarvonshire
hills. But I cannot tell you how mach I wanted to
express my feelings when at last that bold mountain
chain rose upon me, in all its grandeur, with the
crowning Snowdon (very superior, I assure you, in
'shape and feature,' to our friend Ben Lomond), main-
taining his 'pride of place' above the whole ridge.
And the Menai bridge, which I thought I should
scarcely have noticed in the presence of those glori-
ous heights, really seems, from its magnificence, a
native feature of the scene, and nobly asserts the pre-
eminence of mind above all other things. I could
scarcely have conceived such an union of strength
and grace ; and its chain work is so airy in appear-
ance, that to drive along it seems almost like passing
through the trellis of a bower ; it is quite startling to
look down from any thing which appears so fragile, to
the immense depth below.
232 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
" Part of my journey lay along the sea-shore rather
late at night, and I was surprised by quite a splendid
vision of the northern lights, on the very spot where
I had once, and once only, before seen them in early
childhood. They shot up like slender pillars of white
light, with a sort of arrowy motion, from a dark cloud
above the sea ; their colour varied in ascending, from
that of silver to a faint orange, and then a very deli-
cate green ; and sometimes the motion was changed,
and they chased each other along the edge of the
cloud, with a dazzling brightness and rapidity. I was
almost startled by seeing them there again ; and after
so long an interval of thoughts and years, it was like
the effect produced by a sudden burst of familiar and
yet long-forgotten music."
" I did not observe any object of interest on my
voyage from Wales, excepting a new beacon at the
extremity of the Liverpool Rock, and which I thought
a good deal like the pictures of the Eddystone Light-
house. There was something to me particularly stern
and solemn in its appearance, as it rose darkly against
a very wild sky, like a ' pillar of cloud,' with a capi-
tal of deep-coloured fire : but perhaps the gloom and
stormy effect of the evening might have very much
aided the impression left upon my fancy."
" Have you seen Rogers's Italy, with its exquisite
embellishments ? The whole book seems to me quite
a triumph of art and taste. Some of Turner's Italian
scenes, with their moonlit vestibules and pillared
arcades, the shadows of which seem almost trembling
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 233
on the ground as you look at them, really might be fit
representations of Armida's enchanted gardens : and
there is one view of the Temples of Paestum, standing
in their severe and lonely grandeur on the shore, and
lit up hy a flash of lightning, which brought to my
mind those lines of Byron
*As I gazed, the place
Became Religion, and the heart ran o'er
With silent worship of the great of old.'
" I have not yet read Northcote's Life of Titian,
but I was much struck with a passage I lately saw
quoted from it, relating to that piercing, intellectual,
eagle-look, which I have so often remarked in Titian's
portraits. ' It is the intense personal character,'
Northcote says ' which gives the superiority to those
portraits over all others, and stamps them with a liv-
ing and permanent interest. Whenever you turn to
look at them, they appear to be looking at you. There
seems to be some question pending between you, as if
an intimate friend or an inveterate foe were in the
room with you. They exert a kind of fascinating
power, and there is that exact resemblance to indi-
vidual nature, which is always new and always inter-
esting.' I suppose it was a feeling of this kind which
made Fuseli exclaim, on seeing Titian's picture of
Paul the Third with his two nephews, ' That is his-
tory !' "
" The account you sent me of the longevity of
artists (a privilege which I, at least, am far from envy-
ing them), seemed confirmed, or rather accounted for,
in some degree, by a paper I was reading on the same
234 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS,
day, it is written, with great enthusiasm, on the
* Pleasures of Painting ;' and the author (Hazlitt, I
believe), describes the studies of the artist as a kind
of sanctuary, a 'city of refuge' from worldly strife,
envy and littleness ; and his communion with nature
as sufficient to fill the void, and satisfy all the cravings
of heart and soul. I wonder if this indeed can be.
I should like to go by night with a magician to the
Coliseum (as Benvenuto Cellini did), and call up the
spirits of those mighty Italian artists, and make them
all tell me whether they had been happy; but it
would not do to forget, as he also did (have you ever
read those strange memoirs of his?) the spell by
which the ghosts were laid, as the consequences were
" I was much interested a few days ago, in looking
over some beautiful engravings of antique English
portraits. I wonder whether you were ever impressed
by what struck me much during an examination of
them, the superior character of repose by which they
are distinguished from the portraits of the present
day, I found this, to a certain degree, the predomi-
nant trait in every one of them ; not any thing like
nonchalance or apathy, but a certain high-minded
self-possession, something like what I think the ' Opium
Eater' calls the ' brooding of the majestic intellect
over all.' I scarcely ever see a trace of this quiet,
yet stately sweetness, in the expression of modern por-
traits; they all look so eager, so restless, so trying to
be vieille. I wonder if this is owing to the feverish
excitement of the times in which we live, for I should
MEMOIR OF MRS. IIEMANS. 235
suppose that the world has never been in such a hurry
during the whole course of its life before."
" Since I wrote last, I have been quite confined to
the house ; but before I caught my last very judicious
cold, I went to see an exquisite piece of sculpture,
which has been lately sent to this neighbourhood from
Rome by Gibson, with whose name as an artist you
are most likely familiar. It is a statue of Sappho,
representing her at the moment she receives the tidings
of Phaon's desertion. I think I prefer it to almost
any thing I ever saw of Canova's, as it possesses all
his delicacy and beauty of form, but is imbued with
a far deeper sentiment. There is a sort of willowy
drooping in the figure, which seems to express a weight
of unutterable sadness, and one sinking arm holds the
lyre so carelessly, that you almost fancy it will drop
while you gaze. Altogether, it seems to speak pierc-
ingly and sorrowfully of the nothingness of Fame, at
least to woman. There was a good collection of pic-
tures in the same house, but they were almost unac-
countably vulgarized in my sight by the presence of
the lonely and graceful statue."
" I wish I could be with you to see Young's per-
formance of Hamlet, of all Shakspeare's characters
the one which interests me most ; I suppose from the
never-ending' conjectures in which it involves one's
mind. Did I ever mention to you Goethe's beautiful
remark upon it ? He says, that Hamlet's naturally
gentle and tender spirit, overwhelmed with its mighty
tasks and solemn responsibilities, is like a China vase,
236 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
fit only for the reception of delicate flowers, but in
which an oak tree has been planted ; the roots of the
strong tree expand, and the fair vase is shivered."
" I have lately met with an exquisite little book,
a work upon the Classics, just published, by Henry
Coleridge ; it is written with all the fervour, and
much of the rich imagination and flow of ' words
that burn,' which characterise the writings of his
" Some Quarterly Reviews have lately been sent
to me, one of which contains an article on Byron, by
which I have been deeply and sorrowfully impressed.
His character, as there portrayed, reminded me of
some of those old Eastern cities, where travellers
constantly find a squalid mud hovel built against the
ruins of a gorgeous temple ; for alas ! the best part
of that fearfully mingled character is but ruin the
wreck of what might have been."
" I have been reading a great deal during all this
gloomy winter, and have been charmed lately by an
account of the life of my favourite musician Weber, in
the Foreign Quarterly Review, with extracts from
his letters. The flow of affectionate feeling in these
the love he everywhere manifests of excellence for
its own sake the earnestness and truth of heart re-
vealed in all his actions these things make up a
character, like his own music, of perfect harmony.
Is it not delightful, a foundation of gladness to our
own hearts, when we are able to love what we ad-
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 237
mire ? I shall play the waltz, and those beautiful
airs from <Der Freischiitz,' with tenfold pleasure after
reading the memoir.'*
" I hope you will be as much amused at the * An-
alysis of a Lady's Tear,' which I inclose for your edi-
fication, as I have been. Only imagine the tear to
have been one shed at parting, and then can you con-
ceive any thing so unsentimental ?"
The inclosure was the following extract, cut out of
a newspaper : " Analysis of a Lady's Tear. This
was really effected by the celebrated Smithson, one of
the fellows of the Royal Society, whose loss the past
week lias had to deplore. Nothing, it seems, eluded
the grasp of this enquiring man, who, not content with
operating on the common objects which nature had
placed before him, presumed to approach the shrine
of beauty itself, wherewith to satisfy his curiosity.
He had analysed more than a dew-drop a lady's
tear ! He caught the pearly treasure as it fell from
its source, and on submitting it to his tests, discovered
that it contained two separate salts.'
" Since I last wrote to you, I have received a visit
from a remarkable person, whose mind is full, even
to overflowing, of intelligence and original thought.
It is Dr. , the distinguished linguist, of whom I
shall speak. I do not know when I have heard such
a flow of varying conversation ; it is like having a
flood of mind poured out upon you, and that, too,
evidently from the strong necessity of setting the cur-
rent free, not from any design to shine or overpower.
238 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
I think I was most interested in his descriptions of
Spain, a country where he has lived much, and to
which he is strongly attached. He spoke of the songs
which seem to fill the airs of the South, from the con-
stant improvisation of the people at their work : he
described as a remarkable feature of the scenery, the
little rills and water-courses which were led through
the fields and gardens, and even over every low wall,
by the Moors of Andalusia, and which yet remain,
making the whole country vocal with pleasant sounds
of waters : he told me also several striking anecdotes
of a bandit chief in Murcia, a sort of Spanish Rob
Roy, who has carried on his predatory warfare there
for many years, and is so adored by the peasantry, for
whose sake he plunders the rich, that it is impossible
for the government ever to seize upon him. Some
expressions of the old Biscayan (the Basque) language,
which he translated for me, I thought beautifully
poetical. The sun is called, in that language, ' that
which pours the day ;' and the moon, < the light of
the dead.' Well, from Spain he travelled, or rather
shot off like Robin Goodfellow, who could
* put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes,'
away to Iceland, arid told me of his having seen there
a MS. recording the visit of an Icelandic Prince to
the court of our old Saxon king, Athelstane. Then
to Paris, Brussels, Warsaw, with a sort of open
sesame' for the panorama of each court and kingdom.
" A striking contrast to all this, was a visit I lately
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 239
paid to old Mr. Roscoe, who may be considered quite
as the father of literature in this part of the world.
He is a delightful old man, with a fine Roman style
of head, which he had adorned with a green velvet
cap to receive me in, because, as he playfully said,
' he knew I always admired him in it.' ! Altogether
he put me rather in mind of one of Rembrandt's
pictures ; and, as he sat in his quiet study, surrounded
by busts, and books, and flowers, and with a beautiful
cast of Canova's Psyche in the back-ground, I thought
that a painter, who wished to make old age look
touching and venerable, could not have had a better
The occasional society of Mr. Roscoe, in such
bright intervals as were admitted by his failing health
(which frequently obliged him to pass months in com-
parative seclusion, though it never impaired his men-
tal energies and cheerful benevolence), was one of the
greatest enjoyments of Mrs. Hemans's residence near
Liverpool. She never spoke of him but with affec-
tionate deference, and had an honest pride in know-
ing that he appreciated her poetry, and took pleasure
in having it read to him. It was during the present
winter and spring that she applied herself with some
diligence to the study of music, under the instruction
of Mr. J. Zeugheer Herrmann, who, as she wrote,
" comes to me every week, and I should like him as a
1 This is not the first instance of the attractions of a green
velvet cap. In one of Alexander Knox's letters, speaking of
the picture for which he was then sitting, he says " Sir Thomas
Acland would have me in my invalid dress my green velvet
nightcap had taken hold of his heart."
240 MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS.
master exceedingly, were it not that I am sure I give
him the toothache whenever I play a wrong note, and
a sympathising pang immediately shoots through my
own compassionate heart."
About the same time, she began to be sensible of
a newly-awakened power of inventing airs, adapted
to the words of some of her own lyrics. The spon-
taneous flow of this stream of melody, was a source
of great delight to her, though she found some dif-
ficulty in the mechanical part of noting down, or
what she called " caging," her musical fancies. In
this task she was most kindly aided by Mr. Lodge,
the accomplished amateur already alluded to ; and
to whom she was indebted for the symphonies and
accompaniments of two of her songs, " Go forth, for
she is gone," and "By the mighty Minster's Bell,"
which were published by Lonsdale and Mills. 1
The following note may be applicable to that
numerous class of hieroglyphical writers, who would
do well to adopt the ingenious device of a certain
French nobleman of the vieille cour : " Par respect,
Monsieur" (he wrote, or rather scrawled, to a person
of equal rank with himself), "je vous ecris de ma
propre main ; mais pour faciliter la lecture, je vous
envoye une copie de ma lettre." "I have the plea-
sure to inform you that you have attained a degree
1 The copyright of four other songs, also composed by Mrs.
Hemans; v;as purchased by the late Mr. Power, not long before
his death ; but it is believed they have never been published.
These were," The Wreck ;" " Thou'rt passing from the Lake's
green side ;" (the Indian song from " Edith," in Records of
Woman} ; " Death and the Warrior ;" and " Good Night."
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 241
of indistinctness positively sublime in the name of the
day upon which you promise to visit me next. I was,
as the Lady Cherubina says, in The Heroine, ' terribly
ill off for mysteries/ before the arrival of your note ;
but this deficiency is now most happily supplied.
Reasoning from analogy instead of wisdom, I should
conclude it to be Tuesday, but then it has, if my
senses fail me not, a dotted i : it seems to have rather
too many letters for Friday, and into Wednesday it
cannot be metamorphosed, even on the antiquarian
system, that ' consonants are changeable at pleasure,
and vowels go for nothing.' ' The force of nature
can no further go ; ? therefore I return the awful
hieroglyphic for your inspection, and beg for some
The next note refers to some of the works of an
amiable young artist, whose distinguished talents
excited in all who knew him a strong feeling of ad-
miration, subdued into sorrowful interest by his early
" I return the very interesting collection of Mr.
Austin's drawings, which I had great pleasure in look-
ing over yesterday evening. I only regret that there
were no names to them, as I am prevented from par-
ticularizing those which I most admired ; but I recog-
nised Tivoli, and w r as especially struck with one
representing the interior of a church. There is also
an exquisite little hermitage buried among trees,
where I should like to pass at least a month after my
late fatigues, and hear nothing but the sound of leaves
and waters, and now and then some pleasant voice of
a friend. I did not quite understand a message which
VOL. I. 21
242 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
Henry brought me, about the dedication or advertise-
ment to these drawings. I cannot help feeling inte-
rested in Mr. Austin, from all I have heard you say
of him ; and if you think it would gratify him, I would
send you a few lines to be prefixed to this work, in
which I should try to express in poetry what I imagine
he wishes to convey that the spirit of the artist was
wandering over the sunny fields of Italy, whilst he
himself was confined to the bed of sickness."
The " late fatigues" referred to in the above note,
were occasioned by all the harassing preparations for
removal, which were now assuming a " form and
pressure" absolutely overwhelming to one so little
used to worldly cares, and whose fitful strength was
so easily exhausted. Mrs. Hemans had continued
to be visited throughout the winter, by those distress-
ing attacks of palpitation of the heart, which caused
her friends so much uneasiness, and were invariably
brought on by any unwonted excitement, or mental
agitation. "My chest is still strangely oppressed,"
she wrote in one of her letters, " and always makes
me think of Horatio's words:
'I, in this harsh world, draw my breath with pain.'"
And the following, written at the point of depar-
ture, now seems fraught with a sad foreboding :
" You will be surprised to hear, that notwithstand-
ing my healthful looks, Dr. , who visited me after
you were gone, positively forbade the intended excur-
sion to Ince, and gave me most serious admonitions
with regard to that complaint of the heart from which
I suffer, He says that nothing but great care and
MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS. 243
perfect quiet will prevent its assuming a dangerous
character ; and I told him that he might as well pre-
scribe for me the powdered diamonds which physicians
of the olden time ordered for royal patients. I must
own that this has somewhat deepened the melancholy
impressions under which I am going to Ireland, for !
cannot but feel assured that he is right."
On the subject of her new plans, she thus wrote to
an attached friend in Scotland : " One of my greatest
inducements to take this step, is the constant want of
protection and domestic support to which my situation
exposes me, and my anxiety to have my brother's
advice and guidance as to my boys, for whose future
prospects in life I begin to feel painfully anxious.
Ireland seems a troubled land to seek, just at present;
but every place is troubled to a woman at once so
conspicuous, so unprotected, and so little acquainted
with the world as, from peculiar causes, I am. I shall
not despair of seeing you again, as Scotland is just as
attainable from Dublin as from Liverpool, and I have
too many kind friends there, ever to forget the beau-
tiful scenes in which I first knew them. Do not fancy
that I was insensible to the external charms of Kin-
fauns, because the treasures of art within its walls
were more attractive to me (who am passionately fond
of such objects, and have had few opportunities of
gratifying my taste for them) than the hills and woods
without. You should recollect that I have been almost
cradled amidst scenes of beauty, and almost all the
forms and colours of nature are familiar to me, but it
is not so with those of art/'
Towards the latter end of April 1831, Mrs. Hemans
244 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
quitted England for the last time, and, after remaining
for a few weeks in Dublin, proceeded to visit her bro-
ther, then residing at the Hermitage, near Kilkenny.
" This/' she wrote, " is a very pretty little spot, and I
should be really sorry that my brother is to leave it in
two or three months, were it not that the change will
be one of great advantage to himself, as he is appoint-
ed to a trust of high responsibility. I have a blue
mountain chain in sight of my window, and the voice
of the river comes in to me delightfully. My health
has been very unsettled, yet my friends are surprised
to see me looking so well. I think that, on the whole,
the soft climate agrees with me ; my greatest foe is
* the over-beating of the heart.' My life in Dublin
was what might have been expected one of constant
excitement, and more ' broken into fragments ' than
ever. I very nearly gave up letter- writing in despair.
I must, however, gratefully acknowledge, that I met
there much true kindness. The state of the country
here, though Kilkenny is considered at present tran-
quil, is certainly, to say the least of it, very ominous.
We paid a visit yesterday evening at a clergyman's
house about five miles hence, and found a guard of
eight armed policemen stationed at the gate : the win-
dow-ledges were all provided with great stones for the
convenience of hurling down upon assailants ; and the
master of the house had not, for a fortnight, taken a
walk without loaded pistols. You may imagine how
the boys, who are all here for the holidays, were
enchanted with this agreeable state of things ; indeed,
I believe, they were not a little disappointed that we
reached home without having sustained an attack
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 245
from the Whitefeet Do not, however, suppose that
we are in the least danger, though there seems just
possibility of danger enough all round us, to keep up
a little pleasant excitement (the tabooed word
again !) There is this peculiarity in Irish disturbances,
that those who are not obnoxious, from party or poli-
tical motives, to the people, have really nothing to
fear ; and my brother is extremely popular. My sis-
ter-in-law and myself are often amused with the idea,
of what our English friends would think, did they
know of our sitting, in this troubled land, with our
doors and windows all open, till eleven o'clock at
The extracts which follow, are from letters written
at the same place.
" I wish to give you an account of an interesting
day I lately passed, before its images become faint in
my recollection. We went to Woodstock, the place
where the late Mrs. Tighe, whose poetry has always
been very touching to my feelings, passed the latest
years of her life, and near which she is buried. The
scenery of the place is magnificent ; of a style which,
I think, I prefer to every other ; wild, profound glens,
rich with every hue and form of foliage, and a rapid
river sweeping through them, now lost, and now light-
ing up the deep woods with sudden flashes of its waves.
Altogether, it reminded me more of Hawthornden
than anything I have seen since, though it wants the
solemn rock pinnacles of that romantic place. I wish
I could have been alone with Nature and my thoughts ;
but, to my surprise, I found myself the object of quite
a reception. There was no help for it, though I never
246 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
felt so much as if I wanted a large leaf to wrap me
up and shelter me. Still, one cannot but feel grateful
for kindness, and much was shown me. I should have
told you that Woodstock is now the seat of Mr. and
Lady Louisa Tighe. Amongst other persons of the
party was Mr. Henry Tighe, the widower of the
poetess. He had just been exercising, I found, one
of his accomplishments in the translation into Latin
of a little poem of mine ; and I am told that his ver-
sion is very elegant. We went to the tomb, * the
grave of a poetess,' where there is a monument by
Flaxman : it consists of a recumbent female figure,
with much of the repose, the mysterious sweetness of
happy death, which is to me so affecting in monu-
mental sculpture. There is, however, a very small
Titania-looking sort of figure with wings, sitting at the
head of the sleeper, which I thought interfered with
the singleness of effect which the tomb would have
produced : unfortunately, too, the monument is carved
in very rough stone, which allows no delicacy of touch.
That place of rest made me very thoughtful ; I could
not but reflect on the many changes which had
brought me to the spot I had commemorated three
years since, without the slightest idea of ever visiting
it; and, though surrounded by attention and the
appearance of interest, my heart was envying the
repose of her who slept there." *
1 It is interesting to compare the ideal visit to " the grave of a
poetess," described in the little poem so named in the Records
of Women, with the real one commemorated in the lines " Writ-
ten after visiting a tomb near Woodstock," which were .published
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 247
" Mr. Tighe has just sent me his Latin translation
of my lines, * The Graves of a Household.' It seems
very elegant, as far as I can venture to judge, but
what strikes me most is the concluding thought, (so
peculiarly belonging to Christianity), and the ancient
language in which it is thus embodied:
'Si nihil ulterius mundo, si sola voluptas
Esset terrenis quid feret omnis AmorT
" I suppose the idea of an affection, powerful and
spiritual enough to overcome the grave (of course the
beauty of such an idea belongs not to me, but to the
spirit of our faith), is not to be found in the loftiest
strain of any classic writer."
Under the influence of similar feelings with those
expressed in the last quotation, Mrs. Hemans thus
alluded to her own lyric " The Death Song of Alces-
tis," which was written at this time.
" It was with some difficulty that I refrained from
making Alcestis express the hope of an immortal re-
union : I know this would be out of character, and yet
could scarcely imagine how love, so infinite in its
in the National Lyrics. The same train of feeling may be
traced in both the same " mournful iteration."
" O love and song ! though of heaven your powers,
Dark is your fate in this world of ours."
But in each solemn picture, " the day-spring from on high" breaks
through the " mists of earth ;" and " visions of brighter things"
win us to heavenly contemplation.
The sonnet " On Records of immature Genius," (published in
Mrs. Hemans's Poetical Remains'), was written after reading
some of the earlier poems of Mrs. Tighe, which had been lent
to her in MS.
248 MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS.
nature, could ever have existed without the hope
(even if undefined and unacknowledged) of a heavenly
country, an unchangeable resting-place. This awoke
in me many other thoughts with regard to the state
f human affections, their hopes and their conflicts in
the days of ' the gay religions, full of pomp and gold/
which, offering, as they did, so much of grace and
beauty to the imagination, yet held out so little com-
fort to the heart. Then I thought how much these
affections owed to a deeper and more spiritual faith,
to the idea of a God who knows all our inward strug-
gles, and pities our sufferings. I think I shall weave
all these ideas into another little poem, which I will
call Love in the Ancient World." l
"I do not think I mentioned to you having seen
at Woodstock a large and beautifully painted copy of
Raphael's ' Great Madonna, 9 as it is called the one
at Dresden. I never was enabled to form so perfect
an idea of this noble work before. The principal
figure certainly looks like the ' Queen of Heaven,' as
she stands serenely upon her footstool of clouds ;' but
there is, I think, rather a want of human tenderness
in her calm eyes, and on her regal brow. I visited
yesterday another lovely place, some miles from us
1 This design was afterwards partly, and but partly, fulfilled,
in the Antique Greek Lament, which was intended as one of a
series of poems, illustrating- the insufficiency of aught but Chris-
tianity to heal and comfort the broken in heart ; and its all-sus-
taining aid to those, " who, going through this vale of misery,
use it for a well," and apply to its living waters for " the strength-
ening and refreshing of their souls."
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 249
Kilfane; quite in a different style of beauty from
Woodstock soft, rich, and pastoral-looking. Such a
tone of verdure, I think, I never beheld anywhere :
It was quite an emerald darkness, a gorgeous gloom
brooding over velvet turf, and deep silent streams,
from such trees as I could fancy might have grown in
Armida's enchanted wood. Some swans upon the
dark waters made me think of that line of Spenser's,
in which he speaks of the fair Una, as
* Making a sunshine in the shady place.'
The graceful play of water-birds is always particu-
larly delightful to me ; those bright creatures convey
to my fancy a fuller impression of the joy of freedom
than any others in nature perhaps because they are
lords of two elements."
" I heard a beautiful remark made by the Chief-
Justice, when I met him at Kilfane. I think it was
with regard to some of Canova's beautiful sculpture
in the room, that he said ' Is not perfection always
affecting V I thought he was quite right ; for the
highest degree of beauty in any art certainly always
excites, if not tears, at least the inward feeling of
1 " Is that strong- passion for intellectual beauty a happy or a
mournful gift, when so out of harmony with the rest of our
earthly lot ] Sometimes I think of it in sadness, but oflener it
seems to me as a sort of rainbow, made up of light and tears,
yet still the pledge of happiness to come." From one of Mrs.
Hemans's letters, written in 1829.
250 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
" I will now describe to you the scene I mentioned
in my last letter, as having so much impressed me.
It was a little green hill, rising darkly and abruptly
against a very sunny background of sloping corn-
fields and woods. It appeared smooth till near the
summit, but was there crested almost castellated
indeed by what I took for thickly-set, pointed rocks ;
but, on a nearer approach, discovered to be old tomb-
stones, forming quite a little * city of the silent/ I
left our car to explore it, and discovered some ruins
of a very affecting character: a small church laid
open to the sky, forsaken and moss-grown ; its font
lying overturned on the green sod ; some of the rude
monuments themselves but ruins. One of these,
which had fallen amongst thick heath and wild-flow-
ers, was simply a wooden cross, with a female name,
and the inscription * May her soul rest in peace!'
You will not wonder at the. feeling which prompted
me to stoop and raise it up again. My memory will
often revert to that lonely spot, sacred to the hope of
immortality, and touched by the deep quiet of the
"Kilkenny is a singular-looking old place, full of
ruins, or rather fragments of ruins, bits of old towers
and abbey- windows ; and its wild lazzaroni-looking
population must, I should think, be tremendous when
in a state of excitement. Many things in the condi-
tion of this country, even during its present temporary
quiet, are very painful to English feeling. It is
scarcely possible to conceive bitterness and hatred
existing in the human heart, when one sees nature
MEMOIR OF B1RS. HEMANS. 251
smiling so brightly and so peacefully all around; and
yet those dark feelings do exist here to a degree
which I could not have credited ; and religious ani-
mosities are carried to a height which sometimes pain-
fully reminds me of Moore's lines, where he speaks of
the land in which
* hearts fell off that ought to twine,
And man profaned what God had given;
Till some were heard to curse the shrine,
Where others knelt to Heaven.' "
Early in the autumn of 1831, Mrs. Hemans took
up her abode in Dublin, where she at first resided in
Upper Pembroke Street. The two elder boys of those
still with her, had been already placed at school, under
the care of the Rev. Dr. Gwynne, of Castleknock ;
and her son Charles had the great privilege of having
his education superintended by Mr. (now the Rever-
end) R. P. Graves, then a student at Trinity College,
from whose valuable instruction he derived advantages
far more permanent and important than any acquisi-
tions of mere worldly learning. Mrs. Hemans entered
very little into the general society of Dublin, but
enjoyed, with a few real and attached friends, that
kindly intercourse most congenial to her tastes and
habits. Amongst these friends must be particularly
mentioned the Graves family, their venerable rela-
tives Dr. l and Mrs. Perceval, the household circle of
1 The Sonnet ' To an aged Friend," published in Mrs. He-
mans's Poetical Remains, was addressed to Dr. Perceval. Its
" Not long thy voice amongst us may be heard,
Servant of God ! thy day is almost done,"
252 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
Colonel D'Aquilar, and that of Professor, now Sir Wil-
From an early period of intimacy she received the
most friendly attentions from the Archbishop of Dub-
lin, and Mrs. Whateley, whose subsequent kindness
can never be forgotten; and she had great interest
and pleasure in the acquaintance of Mr. Blanco White,
who was at that time their inmate ; his delightful con-
versational powers yet unimpaired by the infirm health
which has now unfortunately withdrawn him from
society. Few individuals, as she was herself always
foremost to acknowledge, were ever blessed with more
zealous and devoted friends than Mrs. Hemans ; and
if, in these slight memorials, little has been said of the
constant solace and support she derived from the min-
istering affection of her brothers, it is because the
gentle charities of domestic life are things too sacred
to be held up to the public ; and because all who per-
sonally knew her, knew from her continual and grate-
ful allusions to it, that their kindness was " a foun-
"Whose only business was to flow,
And flow it did; not taking heed
Of its own bounty, or her need ;"
must be read with affecting interest by those who know that that
voice is still heard, though feebly and failingly, whilst the
" Daughter of Music' 1 has long been laid low. The sonnet ' To
the Datura Arborea," in the same volume, was written after see-
ing a superb specimen of that striking plant, in Dr. Perceval's
beautiful greenhouse at Annefield.
Dr. Perceval died 3d March, 1839, shortly after the above note
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 253
Soon after her establishment in the Irish capital,
Mrs. Hemans had an opportunity of hearing the won-
derful performances of Paganini ; and how completely
she was wrought upon by the mighty master, will be
seen by the following letters :
" To begin with the appearance of the foreign won-
der. It is very different from what the indiscrimina-
ting newspaper accounts would lead you to suppose :
he is certainly singular-looking, pale, slight, and with
long, neglected hair ; but I saw nothing whatever of
that wild-fire, that almost ferocious inspiration of mien,
which has been ascribed to him. Indeed, I thought
the expression of his countenance rather that of good-
natured and mild enjouement, than of any thing else ;
and his bearing altogether simple and natural. His
first performance consisted of a Tema with variations,
from the beautiful Preghiera in 'Mose; 9 here I was
rather disappointed, but merely because he did not
play alone. I suppose the performance on the single
string required the support of other instruments ; but
he occasionally drew from that string a tone of wail-
ing, heart-piercing tenderness, almost too much to be
sustained by any one whose soul can give the full
response. It was not, however, till his second per-
formance, on all the strings, that I could form a full
idea of his varied magic. A very delicate accompa-
niment on the piano did not in the least interfere with
the singleness' of effect in this instance. The subject
was the Venetian air ' Oh ! come to me when daylight
sets.' How shall I give you an idea of all the versa-
tility, the play of soul, embodied in the variations
upon that simple air 1 Imagine a passage of the most
VOL. I. 22
254 MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS.
fairy-like delicacy, more aerial than you would sup-
pose it possible for human touch to produce, suddenly
succeeded by an absolute parody of itself; the same
notes repeated with an expression of really comic
humour, which forced me to laugh, however reluc-
tantly. It was as if an old man, the ' Ancient Mari-
ner' himself, were to sing an impassioned Italian air,
in a snoring voice, after Pasta. Well, after one of
these sudden travesties, 1 for I can call them nothing
else, the creature would look all around him, with an
air of the most delighted bonhommie, exactly like a
witty child, who has just accomplished a piece of suc-
cessful mischief. The pizzicato passages were also
wonderful ; the indescribably rapid notes seemed flung
out in sparks of music, with a triumphant glee which
conveys the strongest impression I ever received, of
genius rejoicing over its own bright creations. But I
vainly wish that my words could impart to you a full
"conception of this wizard-like music.
" There was nothing else of particular interest in
the evening's performance: a good deal of silvery
warbling from Stockhausen ; but I never find it leave
any more vivid remembrance on my mind than the
singing of birds. I am wrong, however ; I must except
one thing, * Napoleon's Midnight Review,' the music
of which, by Neukomm, I thought superb. The words
are translated from the German : they describe the
hollow sound of a drum at midnight, and the peal of
a ghostly trumpet, arousing the dead hosts of Napoleon
from their sleep under the northern snows, and along
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 255
the Egyptian sands, and in the sunny fields of Italy.
Then another trumpet-blast, and the chief himself
arises, ' with his martial cloak around him,' to review
the whole army ; and thus it concludes
France !' 'tis their watchword ; and again,
The pass- word, 'St. Helene !' '
The music, which is of a very wild, supernatural
character, a good deal in Weber's incantation style,
accords well with this grand idea : the single trumpet,
followed by a long, rolling, ominous sound from the
double drum, made me quite thrill with indefinable
" I inclose you a programme of the concert at which
I again heard this triumphant music last night. It is
impossible for me to describe how much of intense
feeling its full-swelling dreamy tones awoke within
me. His second performance (the Adagio a doppio
corde) made me imagine that I was then first waken-
ing in what a German would call the ' music -land.'
Its predominant expression was that of overpowering,
passionate regret; such, at least, was the dying lan-
guor of the long sostenuto notes, that it seemed as if
the musician was himself about to let fall his instru-
ment, and sink under the mastery of his own emotion.
It reminded me, by some secret and strange analogy,
of a statue I once described to you, representing Sap-
pho about to drop her lyre, in utter desolation of heart.
This was immediately followed by the rapid, flashing
music for the strings were as if they sent out light-
ning in their glee of the most joyous rondo by Kreut-
zer you can imagine. The last piece, the ' Dance of
256 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
the Witches/ is a complete exemplification of the
grotesque in music. Some parts of it imitate the
quavering, garrulous voices of very old women, half-
complaining, and then would come a burst of wild,
fantastic, half-fearful gladness. I think Burns's * Tarn
O'Shanter' (not Mr. Thorn's by way of contrast to
Sappho), something of a parallel in poetry to this
strange production in music. I saw more of Paga-
nini's countenance last night, and was still more pleased
with it than before ; the original mould in which it
has been cast, is of a decidedly fine and intellectual
character, though the features are so worn by the
wasting fire which appears his vital element."
" I did not hear Paganini again after the perform-
ance I described to you, but I have received a very
eloquent description of a subsequent triumph of his
genius. It was a concerto, of a dramatic character,
and intended, as I was told, to embody the little tale
of a wanderer sinking to sleep in a solitary place at
midnight. He is supposed to be visited by a solemn
and impressive vision, imaged in music of the most
thrilling style. Then, after all his lonely fears and
wild fantasies, the day-spring breaks upon him in a
triumphant rondo, and all is joy and gladness."
related to me a most interesting conver-
sation he had held with Paganini in a private circle.
The latter was describing to him the sufferings (do
you remember a line of Byron's,
*The starry Galileo, with his woesT)
by which he pays for his consummate excellence. He
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 257
scarcely knows what sleep is, and his nerves are
wrought to such almost preternatural acuteness, that
harsh, even common sounds, are often torture to him :
he is sometimes unable to bear a whisper in his room.
His passion for music he described as an all-absorbing,
a consuming one : in fact, he looks as if no other life
than that ethereal one of melody were circulating in
his veins : but he added, with a glow of triumph kin-
dling through deep sadness ' mais c'est un don du
del.' I heard all this, which was no more than I had
fully imagined, with a still deepening conviction, that
it is the gifted, beyond all others those whom the
multitude believe to be rejoicing in their own fame,
strong in their own resources who have most need
of true hearts to rest upon, and of hope in God to
In the course of the same autumn, Mrs. Hemans
made an excursion into the County of Wicklow, some
records of which appear in the following extracts :
" I was very unwell for some days after my arrival
here, as the mountains gave me such a stormy recep-
tion, that I reached this place with the dripping locks
of a mermaid, and never was in a condition so utterly
desolate. In the midst of my annoyances from the
rain and storm, I was struck by one beautiful effect
upon the hills ; it was produced by a rainbow diving
down into a gloomy mountain pass, which it seemed
really to flood with its coloured glory. I could not
help thinking that it was like our religion, piercing
and carrying brightness into the depth of sorrow and
of the tomb. All the rest of the scene around that
one illumined spot, was wrapt in the most lowering
258 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
darkness. My impressions of the country here have
not hitherto been very bright ones ; but I will not yet
judge of it : the weather is most un'favourable, and I
have not quite recovered the effect of my first day's
adventures. The day before yesterday we visited the
Vale of the Seven Churches and Lake Glendalough ;
the day was one of a kind which I like soft, still, and
grey, such as makes the earth appear ' a pensive but
a happy place.' I was a little disappointed in the
scenery. I think it possesses much more for the
imagination than the eye, though there are certainly
some striking points of view ; particularly that where
4 a round tower of other days' rises amidst the remains
of three churches, the principal one of which (con-
sidered, I find, as quite the Holy of Holies), is thickly
surrounded with tombs. I was also much pleased with
a little wild waterfall, quite buried among the trees.
Its many cascades fell into pools of a dark green trans-
parency, and in one of these I observed what seemed
to me a remarkable effect. The body of water threw
itself into its deep bed with scarcely any spray, and
left an almost smooth and clear surface, through
which, as if through ice, I saw its foamy clouds rising
and working tumultuously from beneath. In follow-
ing the course of this, fall, down very slippery, mossy
stones, I received from our guide (a female), the very
flattering compliment of being ' the most courageousest
and lightest-footedest lady' she had ever conducted
there. We afterwards went upon the lake, the dark
waters and treeless shores of which have something
impressive in their stern desolation, though I do not
think the rocks quite high enough for grandeur.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 259
Several parties have been arranged for me to visit
other celebrated scenes in the neighbourhood, but I do
not think that St. Kevin, who, I suppose, presides over
the weather here, seems more propitious to female
intrusion than of old."
" It is time that I should tell you something of my
adventures among these wild hills since I last wrote.
I must own that the scenery still disappoints me,
though I do not dare to make the confession openly.
There certainly are scenes of beauty, lying deep, like
veins of gold, in the heart of the country, but they
must, like those veins, be sought through much that
is dreary and desolate. I have been more struck
with the Devil's Glen (I wish it had any other name),
than all the other spots I have visited ; it is certainly
a noble ravine, a place where you might imagine the
mountain Christians of old making their last stand,
fighting the last battle of their faith a deep glen of
rocks, cleft all through by a sounding stream, of that
clear brown ' cairn-gorm' colour, which I think Sir
Walter somewhere describes as being among the cha-
racteristics of mountain waters.
" To-day has been one of most perfect loveliness.
I enjoyed the change of the wild rough mountains
for the softer wood landscapes, as we approached
Powerscourb I think I love wood scenery best of
all others, for its kindly look of shelter."
" I returned to the country," wrote Mrs. Hemans,
after this excursion, " rather wearied than refreshed,
as I unfortunately found myself an object of much
260 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
curiosity, and, in gratitude I ought to add, attention;
still it fatigued my spirits, which were longing for
full and quiet communion with nature. On my return
to Dublin, I became a sufferer from the longest and
severest attack of heart palpitation I have ever expe-
rienced ; it was accompanied by almost daily fainting
fits, and a languor quite indescribable. From this
state I have again arisen, and that with an elasticity
which has surprised myself."
A few weeks afterwards, she thus wrote of her-
" Your kind long letter found me quite alone : my
brother had taken my elder boys to pass their holi-
days at Killaloe, and even little Charles was gone on
a visit for a few days, which I could not be selfish
enough to refuse him. But I can give you a better
account of myself than has for a long time been in
my power : my spirits and health are both greatly
revived; and though I am yet unequal to any con-
tinuous exertion of mind, still I am not without hope,
that if I go on improving, all my energies may be
restored to me."
* # * * #
" You ask me what I have been reading lately :
the access to new books here is not nearly as easy as
in England, at least for me; and, in consequence, I
have been much thrown back upon our old friends,
especially the Germans Goethe, and Schiller, and
Oehlenschliiger more particularly and I think I love
them more and more for every perusal, so that I can-
not regret the causes which have rendered my con-
nexion with them more intimate than ever,"
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 261
The improved health announced in the above let-
ter, was, unfortunately, of very short continuance. In
another, written not long afterwards, she describes
herself as having just recovered from " a weary low
fever, from which I think I should scarcely have
revived, had not my spirits been calmer, and my mind
happier, than has for some years been the case.
During part of the time, when I could neither read
nor listen to reading, I lay very meekly upon the sofa,
reciting to myself almost all the poetry I have ever
read. I composed two or three melodies also, but
having no one here who can help me to catch the
fugitives, they have taken flight irrecoverably. I have
lately written what I consider one of my best pieces
' A Poet's dying Hymn.' It appeared in the last
number of Blackwood."
It is impossible to read this affecting poem without
feeling how distinctly it breathes the inward echoes
of the soul to the frequent warnings of the Summoner;
those presentiments which must have long silently
possessed her, here for the first time finding utterance.
Still more strongly does it evidence that subdued and
serene frame of mind, into which her once vivacious
temperament and painfully vibrating sensibilities were
now so gently and happily subsiding. A delight in
sacred literature, and particularly in the writings of
some of our 'old divines, became from henceforward
her predominant taste ; and her earnest and diligent
study of the Scriptures was a well-spring of daily
increasing comfort. In these pursuits she derived
invaluable assistance and encouragement from the
262 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
friend already mentioned as so kindly directing the
education of her son Charles. She now sought no
longer to forget her trials (" wild wish and longing
vain !" as such attempts must ever have proved) but
rather to contemplate them through the only true and
reconciling medium ; and that relief from sorrow and
suffering for which she had once been apt to turn to
the fictitious world of imagination, was now afforded
her by calm and constant meditation on what can
alone be called " the things that are"
It was about this time that a circumstance occurred,
by which Mrs. Hemans was greatly affected and
impressed. A stranger one day called at her house,
and begged earnestly to see her. She was then just
recovering from one of her frequent illnesses, and was
obliged to decline the visits of all but her immediate
friends. The applicant was therefore told that she
was unable to receive him ; but he persisted in en-
treating for a few minutes' audience, with such urgent
importunity, that at last the point was conceded. The
moment lie was admitted, the gentleman (for such his
manner and appearance declared him to be), explained,
in words and tones of the deepest feeling, that the
object of his visit was to acknowledge a debt of obli-
gation which he could not rest satisfied without avow-
ing that to her he owed, in the first instance, that
faith and those hopes which were now more precious
to him than life itself; for that it was by reading her
poem of The Sceptic he had been first awakened
from the miserable delusions of infidelity, and induced
to " search the Scriptures." Having poured forth his
thanks and benedictions in an uncontrollable gush of
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 263
emotion, this strange, but interesting visitant took his
departure, leaving her overwhelmed with a mingled
sense of joyful gratitude and wondering humility.
The following letter was written during the awful
visitation of cholera in Dublin, in the summer of 1832 :
" I cannot describe to you the strange thrill that
came over me, when, on accidentally going to the
window yesterday, I saw one of the black covered
litters, which convey the cholera patients to the hos-
pital, passing by, followed by policemen with sabres
in their hands. This last precaution is necessary to
guard the litters from the infatuated populace, who
imagine that the physicians are carrying on some
nefarious work (smothering is, I believe, their favour-
ite theory) within the vehicle. But the sight I have
described to you was so like the actual presence of
some dark power sweeping past, that I was for the
moment, completely overcome ; and oh ! the strange
contrasts of life ! there were May-dancers in the
street scarcely a moment afterwards ! Notwithstand-
ing the sick sensation of which I have spoken, my
spirits are perfectly composed, and I have not the
least intention of taking flight, which many families
are now doing. To me there is something extremely
solemnizing, something which at once awes and calms
the spirit, instead of agitating it, in the presence of
this viewless danger, between which and ourselves, we
cannot but feel that the only barrier is the mercy
of God. I never felt so penetrated by the sense of
an entire dependence upon Him ; and though I adopt
some necessary precautions on account of Charles, my
rnind is in a state of entire serenity."
264 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
The difficulty of keeping up any thing like regular
correspondence, and the fear that her old friends
might consequently think her negligent or ungrateful,
would press upon her, at times, very painfully.
" You have judged me rightly and kindly," she
wrote to one always considerate and indulgent. " I
should have written to you before, but I have been in
a state which made writing most painful, and you
know too well how the calls for writing shower upon
me sometimes till my heart dies within me : and what
I dread most are the reproaches of those who know
not how the unsupported and lonely one is often borne
down. The state of nervous suffering through which
I have passed, is now again quietly subsiding. Yes-
terday I was able to go to church and receive the
sacrament, and to-day, I am commencing an under-
taking of which I think you will hear with pleasure
a volume of sacred poetry. My heart is much in
it, and I hope to enshrine in its pages whatever I may
have been endowed with of power and melody ; so
that, should it be my last work, it may be a worthy
close. 1 was grieved to hear that our dear, kind Nor-
tons had been so severely tried; 1 but they are still
blessed in each other and what earthly happiness
can equal, what earthly sorrow counterbalance, that
'full bliss of hearts allied?' None there is none.
Do say how affectionately I think of them how grate-
fully ; but it is vain for me, situated as I am, to think
of keeping up distant correspondences. My burthen
is. in these things, greater than I can bear.'
1 By the loss of children, and other dear relatives.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 265
" I have removed here (36, Stephen's Green), much
for the sake of having back rooms, as I suffered
greatly from the street noises, where I lived before.'
" I have been in a state of great nervous suffering
ever since I last wrote to you ; it is as if I felt, and
more particularly heard, every thing with unsheathed
" There is a line of Coleridge's
1 Oh ! for a sleep, for sleep itself to rest in !'
I believe I shall require some such quintessence of
repose to restore me. I have several literary plans
for fulfilment as soon as my health allows. I enjoy
much more leisure here than was the case in England,
which is at least one great advantage.
" My state of health is such as to cause me fre-
quently great distress and inconvenience. I do not
mean so much from the actual suffering attendant
upon it, as from its making the exertion of writing
at times not merely irksome, but positively painful
to me ; this is, I believe, caused entirely by irregular
action of the heart, which affects my head with op-
pressive fulness, and sudden flushing of the cheeks
and temples. All my pursuits are thus constantly in-
terfered with ; but I do not wish this to convey to you
the language 'of complaint ; I am only anxious that it
should give assurance of kind and grateful recollec-
tion ; that it should convince you of my being un-
changed in cordial interest, and silent only from causes
beyond my power to overrule.'*
VOL. I. 23
266 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
" In my literary pursuits, I fear I shall be obliged
to look out for a regular amanuensis. I sometimes
retain a piece of poetry several weeks in my memory,
from actual dread of writing it down.
" How sorry I was, not to see your friend Neukomm !
We were playing at cross-purposes the whole time of
his stay in Dublin ; but I did hear his organ-playing,
and glorious it was a mingling of many powers. I
sent, too, for the volume you recommended to me
the Saturday Evening : surely it is a noble work, so
rich in the thoughts that create thoughts. I am so
glad you liked my little summer-breathing song. 1 I
1 " The Summer's Call." This faculty for realising images
of the distant and the beautiful, amidst outward circumstances
of apparently the most adverse influence, is thus gracefully illus-
trated by Washington Irving in the " Royal Poet" of his Sketch-
book : " Some minds corrode and grow inactive under the loss
of personal liberty ; others grow morbid and irritable ; but it is
the nature of the poet to become tender and imaginative in the
loneliness of confinement. He banquets upon the honey of his
own thoughts, and, like the captive bird, pours forth his soul in
'Have you not seen the nightingale,
A pilgrim cooped into a cage,
How doth she chant her wonted tale,
In that her lonely hermitage ?
Even there her charming melody doth prove,
That all her boughs are trees, her cage a grove/ "
Indeed, it is the divine attribute of the imagination, that it is
irrepressible, unconfinable ; and that when the real world is shut
out, it can create a world for itself, and with a necromantic power
can conjure up glorious shapes and forms, and irradiate the gloom
of the dungeon. Such was the world of pomp and pageant that
lived round Tasso in his dismal cell at Ferrara, when he con-
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 267
assure you it quite consoled me for the want of natural
objects of beauty around, to heap up their remember-
ed images in one wild strain."
The mention of Neukomm's magnificent organ-play-
ing brings to remembrance one great enjoyment of
Mrs. Hemans's residence in Dublin the exquisite
" Music of St. Patrick's," of which she has recorded
her impressions in the little poem so entitled. Its
effect is, indeed, such as, once heard, can never be
forgotten. If ever earthly music can be satisfying,
it must surely be such as this, bringing home to our
bosoms the solemn beauty of our own holy liturgy,
with all its precious and endeared associations, in
tones that make the heart swell with ecstasy, and the
eyes overflow with unbidden tears. There was one
anthem, frequently heard within those ancient walls,
which Mrs. Hemans used to speak of with peculiar
enthusiasm that from the 3d Psalm "Lord, how
are they increased that trouble me !" The consum-
mate skill exhibited in the adaptation of sound to
sense in this noble composition, is, in truth, most ad-
mirable. The symphony to the 5th verse "I laid
me down and slept" with its soft, dreamy vibrations,
gentle as the hovering of an angel's wing the utter
abandon, the noting into slumber implied by the
half-whispered words, that come breathing as from a
world of spirits, almost " steep the senses in forgetful-
ceived the splendid scenes of his Jerusalem; and we may con-
sider The King's Quair, composed by James of Scotland during
his captivity at Windsor, as another of those beautiful breakings
forth of the soul from the restraint and gloom of the prison-
268 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
ness ;" when a sudden outbreak, as it were, of life
and light, bursts forth with the glad announcement,
" I awaked, for the Lord sustained me ;" and then the
old sombre arches ring with an almost overpowering
peal of triumph, bearing to Heaven's gate the exult-
ing chorus of the 6th and 8th verses.
The spring of 1833 brought somewhat of "healing
on its wings," to the gentle invalid, after all the dis-
tressing fluctuations of the winter. " I am sure," she
wrote, " you will have real pleasure in hearing that 1
begin to feel something like symptoms of reviving
health ; perseverance in the quiescent system, which
seems almost essential to my life, is producing, by slow
degrees, the desired effect. You must not think that
it is my own fault if this system is ever departed from.
I desire nothing but a still, calm, meditative life ; but
this is exactly what my position, obliged as I am to
* breast a stormy world alone,' most precludes me
from. Hence, I truly believe, and from no original
disorder of constitution, arises all that I have to bear
of sickness and nervous agitation. Certainly, before
this last and severest attack, I had gone through
enough of annoyance, and even personal fatigue, to
try a far more robust frame. Imagine three removals,
and those Irish removals, for me, between October
and January. Each was unavoidable ; but I am now,
I trust, settled with people of more civilized habits,
and think myself likely to remain here quietly. 1 How
difficult it is, amidst these weary, heart-wearing, nar-
row cares, to keep bright and pure the immortal spark
1 This expectation was fully realized. The house to which
she had now removed (No. 20, Dawson Street,) was destined to
be her last earthly home.
MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS. 269
within ! Yet I strive above all things to be true in
this 9 and turn with even deeper and more unswerv-
ing love to the holy < Spirit-land,' and guard it, with
more and more of watchful care, from the intrusion
of all that is heartless and worldly."
There was, indeed, no fear that she would ever
become " heartless or worldly." No part oT her cha-
racter was more remarkable than her placid indiffer-
ence to those trifling annoyances, about which the
unoccupied and the narrow-minded are for ever " dis-
quieting themselves in vain." She would often quote
the words of Madame 1'Espinasse " Un grand cha-
grin tue tout le reste" " You know it is part of my
philosophy," she once wrote, in allusion to some such
every-day troubles, " not to let these kind of things
prey upon my peace. Indeed, I believe, deep sor-
rows, such as have been my lot through life, have not
only a tendency to elevate, but in some respects to
calm the spirit ; at least they so fill it, as to prevent
the intrusion of little fretting cares. I have an ample
share of these too, but they shall not fret me."
It is scarcely necessary to dwell more emphatically
than has been already done, on another strong trait
in her nature her unfeigned dislike to every thing
approaching invidious personality to gossip, literary
or otherwise, in any shape, however modified or dis-
guised. Most warmly did she echo the sentiment of
"I am not one who much or oft delight
To season my fireside with personal talk
Of friends who live within an easy walk,
Of neighbours, daily, weekly in my sight"
270 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
The following passage from Madame de StaeTs
Jlllemagne might, with perfect truth, have been ap-
plied to her, exemplifying, as it does, the natural kind-
liness (resulting from real superiority) which is, or
ought to be, -the unfailing attribute of genius, and
which may perhaps be considered as a counter-balanc-
ing prerogative for that vain, quenchless yearning for
sympathy which is but too often its penalty. " II y a
quelquefois de la mechancete dans les gens d'esprit ;
mais le genie est presque toujours plein de bonte. La
mechancete vient non pas de ce qu'on a trop d'esprit,
mais de ce qu'on n'a pas assez. Si 1'on pouvait par-
ler des ides, on laisserait en paix les personnes ; si 1'on
se croyait assure de 1'emporter sur les autres par ses
talens naturels, on ne chercherait pas a niveler le par-
terre sur lequel on veut dominer. II y a des me'dioc-
rites d'ames deguisees en esprit piquant et malicieux ;
mais la vraie superiorite est rayonnante de bons senti-
mens comme de hautes pensees."
" Do not be surprised at these pencilled characters/'
wrote Mrs. Hemans to a friend, after a long silence.
" I am obliged to write in a reclining posture, and can
only accomplish it by these means, without much suf-
fering. I pass a great deal of my time lying on the
sofa, and composing my sacred pieces, in which I do
hope you will recognise the growth of a more health-
ful and sustained power of mind, which I trust is
springing up within me, even from the elements of
deepest suffering. I fear it will be some time before
I shall have completed a volume, as, notwithstanding
all the retirement in which I live, I have, I think,
more claims upon my time and thoughts than ever;
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 271
and, alas ! fewer helps, to use the expressive American
In reference to a project for having one of her sons
initiated into mercantile pursuits, she thus touchingly
alludes to her own precarious state : " I know not
that I can make for him any better choice; and the
many warnings which my health gives me, and the
increasing reluctance of my spirit (which seems with-
drawing itself more and more from earthly things as
my health declines) to cope with worldly difficulties,
make me very anxious to'do what I can, ( whilst it is
yet day.'" 1
The following was addressed to a dear friend in
Scotland : " I could not but feel much affected by
your account of the visit to the tomb of your dear
children. A peculiar feeling mingled, however, with
my sympathy ; to me there seems something almost
*In alluding to the same subject some time afterwards, she
thus expressed herself to a long-tried friend : " You have heard,
I conclude, that a path has been opened for Claude in America,
for which land the poor fellow sailed last May. I the less regret-
ted his destination thitherward, as his inclinations had always
been pointed decidedly to that country. I dare say you remem-
ber his statistical tastes in early childhood ; they continued, or
indeed rather grew upon him, and rendered him far more fit for
such a scene of action than any of his brothers." In the same
letter she spoke with maternal pride and fondness of her son
Willoughby (the " little George," of former days), then lately
returned from the Military College at Soreze, and engaged on
the Ordnance Survey in the North of Ireland. " His superiors,"
she wrote, " make the best reports of him. He never loses an
opportunity of writing me the most affectionate letters, and takes
a delight in my poetry, which, I trust, may be attended with bel
ter and higher results tlian those of mere delight."
272 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
blessed, and holy, and tranquillizing, in our sorrow for
the dead so heart-rending are at times the struggles
caused by our passionate affections for the living.
With those who are gone, * the future cannot contra-
dict the past;' and, where no self-reproach is con-
nected with the memory of former intercourse, the
thoughts arising from their graves must all tend to ele-
vate our nature to the Father of Spirits. Your de-
scription of your dear sister's life and death, was full
of beauty. I remembered well the lovely picture I
had seen of her in Edinburgh ; her mind must indeed
have resembled that sweet and radiant countenance.
Such a loss may well have left a void place in the
circle of which she was the central light.
" Alas, for our dear old friend, Sir Robert Liston !
and the lovely Milburn, with all its rich array of flow-
ers! I think I could scarcely bear to look on that
place again, where I have been so happy.
" I sincerely hope my kind friends the Alisons are
not to be visited by any more domestic trials. What
a shock was the removal of that bright, affectionate
spirit, Dr. James Gregory ! Oh, what would this
world be, but for the reflected light from another !"
The autumn of this year (1833) witnessed a happy
meeting between Mrs. Hemans and her sister and bro-
ther-in-law, after a five years' separation. The rav-
ages of sickness on her worn and faded form were
painfully apparent to those who had not seen her for
so long; yet her spirits rallied to all their wonted
cheerfulness, and the powers of her mind seemed more
vivid and vigorous than ever. With all her own cor-
dial kindliness, she busied herself in forming various
MEMOIRS OF MRS. HEMANS. 273
plans for the interest and amusement of her visitcrs ;
and many happy hours of delightful converse and old
home communion were passed by her and her sister
in her two favourite resorts, the lawn of the once
stately mansion of the Duke of Leinster (now occu-
pied by the Dublin Society), and the spacious gardens
of Stephen's Green, which, at certain times of the
day, are almost as retired as a private pleasure-ground.
There was something in the antique and foreign ap-
pearance of this fine old square, which made her pre-
fer it to all the magnificence of modern architecture,
so conspicuous in other parts of Dublin ; and she would
describe, with much animation, the striking effect she
had often seen produced by the picturesque and quaint
outlines of its irregular buildings, thrown into dark
relief by the fiery back-ground of a sunset sky. She
spoke at this time, with steadfast earnestness of pur-
pose, of the many projects with which her mind was
stored, referring to them all in the same spirit which
dictated, not long afterwards, what may be considered
as a lasting record of the intended dedication of her
powers, had it pleased God to allow of her continuance
in this imperfect state of being. " I have now," are
her memorable words, " passed through the feverish
and somewhat visionary state of mind, often connected
with the passionate study of art in early life : deep
affections and deep sorrows seem to have solemnized
my whole being, and I now feel as if bound to higher
and holier tasks, which, though I may occasionally lay
aside, I could not long wander from without some sense
of dereliction. I hope it is no self- delusion, but I can-
not help sometimes feeling as if it were my true task
274 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
to enlarge the sphere of sacred poetry, and extend its
influence. When you receive my volume of Scenes
and Hymns, you will see what I mean by enlarging
its sphere, though my plans are as yet imperfectly
In another letter, alluding to the same series of
poems, she continues thus : " I regard it, however,
as an undertaking to be carried on and thoroughly
wrought out during several years ; as the more I look
for indications of the connexion between the human
spirit and its eternal source, the more extensively I see
those traces open before me, and the more indelibly
they appear stamped upon our mysterious nature. I
cannot but think that my mind has both expanded
and strengthened during the contemplation of such
things, and that it will thus by degrees arise to a
higher and purer sphere of action than it has yet
known. If any years of peace and affection be
granted to my future life, I think I may prove that
the discipline of storms has, at least, not been without
a purifying and ennobling influence."
Early in the year 1834, the little volume of Hymns
for Childhood (which, though written many years
before, had never been published in England) 1 was
brought out by Messrs. Curry of Dublin, who were
also the publishers of the National Lyrics, which
appeared in a collected form about the same time.
1 They had been printed at Boston, New England, in 1827, at
the recommendation, and under the kind auspices of Professor
Norton, to whom they had been sent merely for the use of his
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 275
Of the latter, Mrs. Hemans thus wrote to her friend
Mrs. Lawrence, in the note which accompanied the
volume: "I think you will love my little book,
though it contains but the broken music of a troubled
heart for all the hours it will recall to you beam
fresh and bright as ever in my memory, though I
have passed through but too many of sad and deep
excitement, since that period."
And of what she called " the fairy volume of
hymns," she wrote to the same friend : " you will
immediately see how unpretending a little book it is ;
but it will give you pleasure to know that it has been
received in the most gratifying manner, having seemed
(as a playful child itself might have done) to win
criticism into a benignant smile."
The long-contemplated collection of Scenes and
Hymns of Life was published soon after the two little
volumes above alluded to. In her original dedication
of this work to Mr. Wordsworth, Mrs. Hemans had
given free scope to the expression of her sentiments,
not only of veneration for the poet, but of deep and
grateful regard for the friend. From a fear, however,
that delicacy on Mr. Wordsworth's part might prevent
his wishing to receive in a public form, a testimonial
of so much private feeling from a living individual, the
intended letter was suppressed, and its substantial
ideas conveyed in the brief inscription which was
finally prefixed to the volume. It is now hoped that
1 Some of the most interesting pieces in this volume are con-
nected with associations of Wavertree Hall ; particularly, " Books
and Flowers," " The Haunted House," and " O'Connor's Child."
276 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
all such objections to its publication have vanished,
and that the revered friend to whom it was addressed,
will receive it as the heart-tribute of one to whom
flattery was unknown as consecrated by the solemn
truth of a voice from the grave.
Intended Dedication of the " Scenes and Hymns of
Life," to William Wordsworth, Esq.
" My dear Sir,
" I earnestly wish that the little volume here in-
scribed to you, in token of affectionate veneration,
were pervaded by more numerous traces of those
strengthening and elevating influences which breathe
from all your poetry * a power to virtue friendly/ I
wish, too, that such a token could more adequately
convey my deep sense of gratitude for moral and
intellectual benefit long derived from the study of that
poetry for the perpetual fountains of ' serious faith
and inward glee' which I have never failed to discover
amidst its pure and lofty regions for the fresh green
places of refuge which it has offered me in many an
'The fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart;'
and when I have found in your thoughts and images
such relief as the vision of your ' Sylvan Wye, 5 may,
at similar times, have afforded to yourself.
" May I be permitted, on the present occasion, to
record my unfading recollections of enjoyment from
your society of delight in having heard from your
own lips, and amidst your own lovely mountain-land,
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 277
many of these compositions, the remembrance of
which will ever spread over its hills and waters a
softer colouring of spiritual beauty ? Let me also
express to you, as to a dear and most honoured friend,
my fervent wishes for your long enjoyment of a widely-
extended influence, which cannot but be blessed of
a domestic life, encircling you with yet nearer and
deeper sources of happiness; and of those eternal
hopes, on whose foundation you have built, as a Chris-
tian poet, the noble structure of your works.
" I rely upon your kindness, my dear Sir, for an
indulgent reception of my offering, however lowly,
since you will feel assured of the sincerity with which
it is presented by
" Your ever grateful and affectionate
The manner in which this work was received, was
calculated to inspire its author with every feeling of
emulation and encouragement. " I find in the Atlie,-
nceum of last week," she wrote," " a brief, but very
satisfactory notice of the Scenes and Hymns. The
volume is recognised as my best work, and the course
it opens out called * a noble path/ My heart is grow-
ing faint shall I have power given me to tread that
way much further ? I trust that God may make me
at least submissive to his will, whatever that may be."
One of the many literary projects contemplated
by Mrs. Hemans at this time, was a series of German
studies, consisting of translations of scenes and passages
from some of the most celebrated German authors,
introduced and connected by illustrative remarks.
VOL. I. 24
278 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
The only one of these papers which she ever com-
pleted, was that on Goethe's Tasso, published in the
New Monthly Magazine for January, 1834; a paper
which well deserves attention, as it embodies so much
of her individual feeling with respect to the high and
sacred mission of the Poet ; as well as regarding that
mysterious analogy between the outer world of nature
and the inner world of the heart, which it was so
peculiarly the tendency of her writings to develope.
"Not alone," to quote her own words, "from the
things of the ' everlasting hills/ from the storms or the
silence of midnight skies, will he [the poet] seek the
grandeur and the beauty which have their central
residence in a far more majestic temple. Mountains
and rivers, and mighty woods, the cathedrals of nature
these will have their part in his pictures ; but their
colouring and shadows will not be wholly the gift of
rising or departing suns, nor of the night with all her
stars; it will be a varying suffusion from the life
within, from the glowing clouds of thought and feeling,
which mantle with their changeful drapery all exter-
* We receive but what we give,
And in our life alone does nature live.'
Let the poet bear into the recesses of woods and
shadowy hills a heart full-fraught with the sympathies
which will have been fostered by intercourse with his
kind, a memory covered with the secret inscriptions
which joy and sorrow fail not indelibly to write then
will the voice of every stream respond to him in tones
of gladness or melancholy, accordant with those of his
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 279
own soul ; and he himself, by the might of feelings
intensely human, may breathe the living spirit of the
oracle into the resounding cavern or the whispering
oak. We thus admit it essential to his high office,
that the chambers of imagery in the heart of the
poet must be filled with materials moulded from the
sorrows, the affections, the fiery trials, and immortal
longings of the human soul. Where love, and faith,
and anguish, meet and contend where the tones of
prayer are wrung from the suffering spirit there lie
his veins of treasure ; there are the sweet waters
ready to flow from the stricken rock."
The news which arrived from India in the summer
of this year (1834), of the death of her friend Mrs.
Fletcher (the late Miss Jewsbury), affected Mrs. He-
mans very deeply. The early removal of this gifted
and high-minded W 7 ornan was, indeed, an event to
excite the most sorrowful and startling reflections.
On the 1st of August, 1832, she was married, in a
little quiet church amongst the Welsh mountains, 1 to
the Rev. W. K. Fletcher, one of the chaplains to the
H.E.I.C. Fourteen months afterwards, she was laid
in her last resting-place, at Poonah, in the " far East,"
having fallen a victim to cholera, whilst travelling
with her husband back to Bombay, from Sholapore,
their first station, which they had been obliged to quit,
in consequence of ks extreme unhealthiness. It is
affecting to retrace passages in her letters, fraught
with forebodings which are now invested with a sad
1 At Penegoes, in Montgomeryshire, then the happy home of
Mrs. Hemans's sister.
280 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
solemnity with " something of prophetic strain." In
the very first letter written after her marriage, de-
scribing the journey through a desolate tract of coun-
try between Aberystwyth and Rhaiadr, she thus
-expressed herself: "We travelled for seventeen
miles through the most solitary land I ever saw high,
green, bare hills, inhabited only by sheep ; no trees,
no houses, no human beings it gave us on the land,
a feeling similar to being on the sea and I believe
our hearts were mutually full of that strange, deep
sadness, that unutterable melancholy, which childish
minds would say was incompatible with happiness,
but which thinking natures know to be inseparable
from enjoyment. It is not the skeleton at the Egyp-
tian feast, but the voice of the Macedonian herald,
bidding the conqueror remember his mortality."
In another letter, written shortly before her depar-
ture from England, she says, in alluding to her own
compositions, " In the best of everything I have done,
you will find one leading idea Death : all thoughts,
all images, all contrasts of thoughts and images, are
derived from living much in the valley of that shadow.
" My poetry, except some half-dozen pieces, may
be consigned to oblivion ; but in all, you would find
the sober hue which, to my mind's eye, blends equally
with the golden glow of sunset, and the bright green
of spring, and is seen equally in the ' temple of delight/
as in the tomb of decay and separation."
Still more striking are the words of one of the last
letters ever received from her, dated only six weeks
before the writer was called away; in which she
speaks of living in a land " where death is such a
MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMAN8. 281
swift and cunning hunter, that before you know you
are ill, you may be ready to become his prey where
death, the grave, and forgetfulness, may be the work
of two days ! "
Mrs. Hemans's feelings on this occasion, will be best
shown by the following fragments :
" I was indeed deeply and permanently affected by
the untimely fate of one so gifted, and so affection-
ately loving me, as our poor lost friend. It hung the
more solemnly upon my -spirits, as the subject of death
and the mighty future had so many, many times been
that of our most confidential communion. How much
deeper power seemed to lie coiled up, as it were, in
the recesses of her mind, than was ever manifested to
the world in her writings ! Strange and sad does it
seem that only the broken music of such a spirit
should have been given to the earth the full and
finished harmony never drawn forth. Yet I would
rather a thousand times that she should have perished
thus, in the path of her chosen duties, than have seen
her become the merely brilliant creature of London
literary life, at once the queen and slave of some
heartless coterie, living upon those poor succes de sod-
etc, which I think utterly ruinous to all that is lofty,
and holy, and delicate, in the nature of a highly
endowed woman. I put on mourning for her with a
deep feeling of sadness, I never expected to meet her
again in this life, but there was a strong chain of inte-
rest between us, that spell of mind on mind, which,
once formed, can never be broken. I felt, too, that
my whole nature was understood and appreciated by
her, and this is a sort of happiness which I consider
282 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
the most rare in all earthly affection. Those who feel
and think deeply, whatever playfulness of manner
may brighten the surface of their character, are fully
unsealed to very few indeed."
" Will you tell Mr. Wordsworth this anecdote of
poor Mrs. Fletcher ? I am sure it will interest him.
During the time that the famine in the Deccan was
raging, she heard that a poor Hindoo had been found
lying dead in one of the temples at the foot of an idol,
and with a female child, still living, in his arms. She
and her husband immediately repaired to the spot,
took the poor little orphan away with them, and con-
veyed it to their own home. She tended it assiduously,
and one of her last cares was to have it placed at a
female missionary school, to be brought up as a Chris-
" I was not well when the news of our poor friend's
death arrived, and was much overcome by it; and
almost immediately afterwards, I was obliged to exert
myself in a way altogether at variance with my feel-
ings. All these causes have thrown me back a good
deal ; but I am now surmounting them, and was yes-
terday able to make one of a party in an excursion to
a little mountain tarn 2 about twelve miles from Dub-
lin. The strangely deserted character of the country,
long before this object is reached indeed, at only
1 In The Christian Keepsake for 1838, there is an excellent
likeness of Mrs. Fletcher, with a slight but pleasing Memoir,
written with much feeling and appreciation.
3 Lough Bray.
MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS. ,283
seven or eight miles' distance from the metropolis is
quite astonishing to English eyes ; a wide, mountain
tract of country, in many parts without a sign of
human life, or trace of culture or habitation as far as
the sight can reach magnificent views bursting upon
you every now and then, but all deep solitude, and
the whole traversed by a noble road, a military work
I was told, the only object of which seemed to be a
large barrack in the heart of the hills, now untenanted,
but absolutely necessary for the safety of Dublin not
many years since. Then we reached a little lake,
lying clear, and still, and dark, but sparkling all over
to the sun, as with innumerable fire-flies ; high green
hills sweeping down without shore or path, except on
one side, into its very bosom, and all around the same
deep silence. I was only sorry that one dwelling, and
that, of all things, a cottage ornee, stood on its bank ;
for though it was like a scene of enchantment to enter
and look upon the lonely pool and solemn mountains,
through the coloured panes of a richly-carved and
oak-panelled apartment, still the charm of nature
was in some degree broken by the association of
wealth and refinement."
Mrs. Hemans had projected another visit to West-
moreland in the course of this summer, and a delight-
ful plan had been formed of a meeting there with her
sister and brother-in-law, and of happy days to be
passed together amidst the lovely scenery of the Lakes.
But an attack of fever, by which she was visited in
the month of July, and which reduced her to an alarm-
ing state of languor and weakness, compelled her,
sadly and reluctantly, to relinquish all idea of carry-
284 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
ing this long-cherished scheme into execution. " I
know you will regret my heavy disappointment," she
wrote to one of her friends in Liverpool, " when I tell
you that I have been obliged sorrowfully to give up
the hope of visiting England at present. Whether
from the great exertions I had made to clear away
all my wearisome correspondence, and arrange my
affairs, so as to give myself a month's holiday with a
free conscience, or from the intense heat of the wea-
ther, which has long greatly oppressed me, I know
not ; but my fever, which had not been quite subdued,
returned upon me the very day I last wrote to you,
and in a very few hours rose to such a height, that
my strength was completely prostrated. 'I am now
pronounced, and indeed feel myself, quite unfit for the
possible risk of the passage, and subsequent travelling
by coach, and am going this very day, or rather in
the cool of the evening, a few miles into the county
of Wicklow, for immediate change of air. If my
health improve in a day or two, I shall travel on very
quietly to get more among the mountains, the fresh,
wild, native air of which is to me always an elixir
vitce ; but I am going under much depression of feel-
ing, both from my keen sense of disappointment, and
because I hate wandering about by myself." *
This excursion, far from producing the good effects
anticipated, led, on the contrary, to very disastrous
ones; for, by a most unfortunate fatality, the little
country inn to which Mrs. Hemans repaired for change
of air, proved to be infected with scarlet fever, and
a Her son Charles was gone with a friend into Westmoreland.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 285
this circumstance was concealed by the people of the
house, till both herself and her maid had caught the
contagion. She thus became again a prisoner from
illness, under circumstances of far greater discomfort
than before ; and so entirely were her strength and
spirits subdued by these repeated attacks, that she
afterwards described herself as having passed hour
after hour, in the beginning of her convalescence, sit-
ting in the little garden of the inn, with her senses
absorbed in the tremulous motions of a weeping wil-
low, and tears rolling down her cheeks from absolute
weakness and weariness. Like " Mariana in the
" She said, I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead !' " *
As soon as her removal could be undertaken with
safety, she returned to Dublin, and by degrees attained
once more to a state of partial recovery. " My fever
has left me/ ' she wrote to her sister, "with a very
great susceptibility to coughs, sore throats, and all
that " grisly train," and this, I am afraid, is likely to
continue my scourge for a long time. In order to sur-
mount it, I am desired to pass as much time as possible
in the open air, which I accordingly do, but with a
great sense of languor clinging to me. I went for two
or three days to the Archbishop's country-seat, just
before Charles's return, and my spirits were cheered
by the quiet'and the intellectual society of the place.
I am now, though often with a deep-sighing weariness
(of which, I fear, your own anxieties must have given
* See the poem of Mariana, by Mr. Alfred Tennyson.
286 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
you experience also), gradually returning to my em-
ployments." The same letter contained copies of her
two sonnets to Silvio Pellico, to which she thus alluded,
" I wrote them only a few days ago (almost the first
awakening of my spirit, indeed, after a long silence
and darkness), upon reading that delightful book of
Pellico's, 1 which I borrowed in consequence of what
you had told me of it. I know not when I have read
any thing which has so deeply impressed me : the gra-
dual brightening of heart and soul into " the perfect
day" of Christian excellence through all those fiery
trials, presents, I think, one of the most touching, as
well as instructing pictures ever contemplated. How
beautiful is the scene between him and Oroboni, in
which they mutually engage to shrink not from the
avowal of their faith, should they ever return into the
world ! But I could say so much on this subject, which
has quite taken hold of my thoughts, that it would
lead me to fill up my whole letter."
In another letter she spoke further of this book, as
" a work with which I have been both impressed and
delighted, and one which I strongly recommend you
to procure. It is the Prigioni of Silvio Pellico, a dis-
tinguished young Italian poet, who incurred the suspi-
cions of the Austrian government, and was condemned
to the penalty of the carcere duro during ten years,
of which this most interesting work contains the nar-
rative. It is deeply affecting from the heart-springing
eloquence with which he details his varied sufferings.
What forms, however, the great charm of the work,
1 Le mie Prigioni.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 287
is the gradual and almost unconsciously-revealed exalt-
ation of the sufferer's character, spiritualized, through
suffering, into the purest Christian excellence. It is
beautiful to see the lessons of trust in God and love to
mankind, brought out more and more into shining light
from the depth of the dungeon-gloom ; and all this
crowned at last by the release of the noble, all-for-
giving captive, and his restoration to his aged father
and mother, whose venerable faces seem perpetually
to have haunted the solitude of his cell. The book is
written in the most classic Italian, and will, I am sure,
be one to afford you lasting delight."
The same letter, speaking of several books which
she had read with strong and varied interest, proceeds
thus : " Amongst the chief of these has been the Cor-
respondence of Bishop Jebb with Mr. Knox, which
presents, I think, the most beautiful picture ever deve-
loped of a noble Christian friendship, brightening on
and on through an uninterrupted period of thirty
years. Knox's part of the correspondence is ex-
tremely rich in original thought and the highest views
of enlightened Christian philosophy. There is much
elegance, ' pure religion/ and refined intellectual taste,
in the Bishop's letters also, but his mind is decidedly
inferior both in fervour and power."
Another affecting allusion to Silvio Pellico's narra-
tive occurs in a subsequent letter " I have read it
more than o,nce, so powerful has been its effect upon
my feelings. When the weary struggle with wrong
and injustice leads to such results, I then feel that the
fearful mystery of life is solved for me."
288 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
" A friend kindly brought me yesterday the Satur-
day Magazine containing Coleridge's letter to his
godchild. It is, indeed, most beautiful, and, coming
from that sovereign intellect, ought to be received as
an invaluable record of faith and humility. It is
scarcely possible to read it without tears." 1
1 As it seems impossible for such a composition to be read too
often, the letter is subjoined, for the benefit of those who may not
have the means of referring to it.
Coleridge's Letter to his godchild Adam Steinmetz Kinnaird,
written only a few days before his death :
" My dear Godchild, I offer up the same fervent prayer for
you now, as I did kneeling before the altar when you were bap-
tised into Christ, and solemnly received as a living member of
His spiritual body, the church. Years must pass before you will
be able to read with an understanding heart what I now write.
But I trust that the all-gracious God, the Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, the Father of Mercies, who, by his only-begotten
Son (all mercies in one sovereign mercy !) has redeemed you from
evil ground, and willed you to be born out of darkness, but into
light; out of death, but into life ; out of sin, but into righteous-
ness; even into 'the Lord, our righteousness,' I trust that He
will graciously hear the prayers of your dear parents, and be
with you as the spirit of health and growth, in body and in mind.
My dear godchild ! you received from Christ's minister, at the
baptismal font, as your Christian name, the name of a most dear
friend of your father's, and who was to me even as a son the
ate Adam Steinmetz, whose fervent aspirations, and paramount
aim, even from early youth, were to be a Christian in thought,
word, and deed in will, mind, and affections. I, too, your god-
father, have known what the enjoyments of this life are, and
what the more refined pleasures which learning and intellectual
power can give ; I now, on the eve of my departure, declare to
you (and earnestly pray that you may hereafter live and act on
the conviction), that health is a great blessing, competence
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 280
The following extract is from a letter of acknow-
ledgment, on receiving a present of Retzsch's Out-
lines to Schiller's Song of the Bell: "This last
noble production of Retzsch's was quite new to me,
and you may imagine with how many bright associ-
ations of friendship and poesy every leaf of it is
teeming for me. Again and again have I recurred to
its beauty-embodied thoughts, and ever with the fresh-
ness of a new delight. The volume, too, is so rich in
materials for sweet and bitter fancies, that to an
obtained by honourable industry a great blessing-, and a great
blessing it is, to have kind, faithful, and loving friends and rela-
tives ; but that the greatest of all blessings, as it is the most
ennobling of all privileges, is to be indeed a Christian. But I
have been, likewise, through a large portion of my later life, a
sufferer, sorely affected with bodily pains, languor, and manifold
infirmities; and for the last three or four years have, with few
and brief intervals, been confined to a sick-roorn, and at this
moment, in great weakness and heaviness, write from a sick-bed,
hopeless of recovery, yet without prospect of a speedy removal.
And I, thus on the brink of the grave, solemnly bear witness to
you, that the Almighty Redeemer, most gracious in his promises
to them that truly seek Him, is faithful to perform what He has
promised ; and has reserved, under all pains and infirmities, the
peace that passeth all understanding, with the supporting assu-
rances of a reconciled God, who will not withdraw His Spirit
from the conflict, and in His own good time will deliver me
from the evil one. Oh ! my dear godchild ! eminently blessed
are they who begin early to seek, fear, and love their God,
trusting wholly in the righteousness and mediation of their Lord,
Redeemer, Saviour, and everlasting High Priest, Jesus Christ.
Oh ! preserve this as a legacy and bequest from your unseen
godfather and friend,
" S. T. COLERIDGE."
" Grove, Highgate."
VOL. I. 25
290 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
imaginative nature it would be invaluable, were it for
this alone. But how imbued it is throughout with
grace the delicate, spiritual grace breathed from the
domestic affections, in the full play of their tenderness !
I look upon it truly as a religious work ; for it contains
scarcely a design in which the eternal alliance between
the human soul and its Creator is not shadowed forth
by devotional expression. How admirably does this
manifest itself in the group of the christening the
first scene of the betrothed lovers, with their uplifted
eyes of speechless happiness and, above all, in that
exquisite group representing the father counting over
his beloved heads, after the conflagration ! I was much
impressed, too, by that most poetic vision at the close,
where the mighty bell, no more to proclaim the tidings
of human weal or w r oe, is lying amidst ruins, and half
mantled over by a veil of weeds and wild flowers.
What a profusion of external beauty! but, above
all, what a deep ' inwardness of meaning' there is in
all these speaking things !"
Very soon after the date of the above letter, that
fatal cold was caught, which, following up, as it did,
so many trying attacks, completed but too effectually
the wreck of a prematurely shattered constitution.
Having been recommended, as already mentioned, to
be as much as possible in the open air, Mrs. Hemans
passed a good deal of time in the Gardens of the
Dublin Society, which have been before alluded to,
as amongst her most favourite resorts. One day,
having repaired there, as usual, with a book, she
unfortunately became so absorbed in reading, as to
forget how the hours were wearing away, till recalled
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 291
to herself by the penetrating chill of an autumnal
fog, which had suddenly closed around her. She has-
tened home ; but not, alas ! without having already
imbibed the pestilential influence of the blighting
atmosphere. A shuddering thrill pervaded her whole
frame, and she felt, as she often afterwards declared,
a presentiment that from that moment her hours were
numbered. The same evening she was attacked by a
fit of ague ; and this insidious and harassing complaint
continued its visitations for several weeks, reducing
her poor wasted form to the most lamentable state of
debility, and at length retiring only to make way for
a train of symptoms still more fatal and distressing.
Yet, while the work of decay was going on thus surely
and progressively upon the earthly tabernacle, the
bright flame within continued to burn with a pure and
holy light, and, at times, even to flash forth with more
than wonted brightness. The lyric of " Despondency
and Aspiration," which may be considered as her
noblest and highest effort, and in which, from a feeling
that it might be her last work, she felt anxious to con-
centrate all her powers, was written during the few
intervals accorded her from acute suffering or power-
less languor. And in the same circumstances she
wrote, or rather dictated, the series of sonnets called
Thoughts during Sickness, which present so interest-
ing a picture of the calm, submissive tone of her mind,
whether engaged in tender remembrances of the past,
or in solemn and reverential speculations on the future.
The one entitled " Sickness like Night," discloses a
view no less affecting than consolatory, of the sweet
292 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
and blessed peace which hovered round the couch*
"Mutely and helplessly she lay reposing."
"Thou art like night, O sickness! deeply stilling
Within my heart the world's disturbing sound,
And the dim quiet of my chamber filling
With low, sweet voices, by life's tumult drowned.
Thou art like awful night ! thou gatherest round
The things that are unseen, though close they lie,
And with a truth, clear, startling, and profound,
Giv'st their dread presence to our mortal eye.
Thou art like starry, spiritual night!
High and immortal thoughts attend thy way,
And revelations, which the common light
Brings not, though wakening with its rosy ray
All outward life. Be welcome, then, thy rod,
Before whose touch my soul unfolds itself to God."
The last sonnet of the series, entitled " Recovery,"
was written under temporary appearances of con-
valescence, which proved as fugitive as they were fal-
Early in the month of December, Mrs. Hemans hav-
ing been recommended to try change of air, and the
quiet of the country, her brother and sister-in-law,
who had come up from Kilkenny to see her, and have
a consultation of physicians, were about to remove
her into the County of Wicklow ; when the thoughtful
kindness of the Archbishop and Mrs. Whateley placed
at her disposal their own country-seat of Redesdale,
a delightful retirement about seven miles from Dub-
lin, where every comfort was provided for her that
the most delicate consideration could suggest, and
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 293
where, for a short season, she appeared to derive some
slight benefit from the change. She occasionally
exerted herself to write short letters in pencil, to allay
the anxieties of her friends ; from one of which affect-
ing epistles the following passage is extracted:
" Redesdale, Sunday Evening, Dec. 13, 1834.
" My fever, though still returning at its hours, is
decidedly abated, with several of its most exhausting
accompaniments; and those intense, throbbing head-
aches have left me, and allowed me gradually to
resume the inestimable resource of reading, though
frequent drowsiness obliges me to use this very mode-
rately. But better far than these indications of reco-
very, is the sweet religious peace which I feel gradu-
ally overshadowing me with its dove-pinions, excluding
all that would exclude thoughts of God. I would I
could convey to you the deep feelings of repose and
thankfulness with which I lay on Friday evening, gaz-
ing from my sofa upon a sunset sky of the richest suf-
fusions silvery green and amber kindling into the
most glorious tints of the burning rose. I felt its holy
beauty sinking through my inmost being, with an influ-
ence drawing me nearer and nearer to God. The
stillness here is exquisite ; broken only by the occa-
sional notes of the robin, one of which faithful birds
yesterday paid us a visit."
Her love of flowers not only continued undiminished,
but seemed daily to strengthen into a deeper senti-
ment, realizing the feelings which had been already
depicted in her poem, entitled " Flowers and Music in
a room of Sickness."
294 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
"God hath purified my spirit's eye,
And in the folds of this consummate rose
I read bright prophecies. I see not there,
Dimly and mournfully, the word 'farewell'
On the rich petals traced: No in soft veins
And characters of beauty, I can read
* Look np t look heavenward /' "
** I really think that pure passion for flowers," she
wrote, in one of her notes at this time to Mrs. Law-
rence, " is the only one which long sickness leaves
untouched with its chilling influence. Often during
this weary illness of mine, have I looked upon new
books with perfect apathy, when, if a friend has sent
me a few flowers, my heart has ' leaped up' to their
dreamy hues and odours, with a sudden sense of reno-
vated childhood, which seems to me one of the myste-
ries of our being."
Her son Charles was the inseparable companion of
these solemn, yet blessed hours ; and he will ever look
back with a thankful heart on the privilege granted
to him of being thus constantly permitted to profit by
her example, to soothe her loneliness by his pious devo-
tion, to read to her, to write for her, to be in all things
her gently ministering spirit. During the Christmas
holidays, these grateful offices were affectionately
shared by his brother Henry, then a schoolboy at
Shrewsbury. How often must the earnest eyes of the
languid sufferer have rested on these, her bright and
blooming ones, with all a mother's tenderness and
pride how must her heart have overflowed with
unutterable yearnings at the thoughts of leaving them !
how fervently must she have committed them in
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 295
silent, inward supplication, to the love and care of
their Heavenly Father !
It would be doing injustice to the memory of a
humble, but not the less valuable friend, to omit men-
tioning the great comfort Mrs. Hemans derived from
the indefatigable services of her faithful attendant*
Anna Creer ; a young person whose excellent prin
ciples, undeviating propriety, and real superiority
of mind and manner, would have done honour to any
station, while they made her a perfect treasure in the
one of which she fulfilled the duties so admirably.
She was born of respectable parents in the Isle of
Man, and had been carefully educated in a manner
befitting her line of life. Mrs. Hemans had taken
great pains to improve her ; and from the force of
grateful attachment, and a certain inherent refine-
ment which seemed a part of her nature, she almost
insensibly acquired a sort of assimilation in her ideas
and expressions to those of her kind mistress. The
assiduity of her attendance, cheerful and unwearied
by night and by day, cannot be remembered without
thankful appreciation ; and this is now blended with
a touching interest, excited by many circumstances
of her subsequent illness and death. 1
1 Two years after the death of her mistress, she married a
most respectable tradesman in Dublin, who had been long attach-
ed to her tjie proprietor of the house in which Mrs. Hemans
had latterly resided. In this house she herself died, in May,
1838 (having fallen into a decline, in consequence of a prema-
ture confinement), and was buried in the same vault which holds
the remains of her dear mistress. The subjoined extract is
given, as affording some idea of her warm heart and singularly
296 MEMOIR OF MRS. REMANS.
During her stay at Redesdale, Mrs. Hemans was
continually visited by the benevolent Mrs. Whateley,
delicate mind. It is part of a letter written by her, a few months
after Mrs. Hemans's death: "It is a continual cause of thank-
fulness to me that I was so wonderfully supported, even to the
last sad hour ; sad it must ever be to me ; it is a thing not to
wear off Oh no ! with me it seems to deepen daily remem-
brances grow dearer. My thought of her is like some hidden,
treasured thing, which no power could win from me. I feel it
would be downright selfishness to wish her back : it may well be
said this was not her rest. She ever seemed to me as a wander-
er from her Heavenly Father's mansion, who knew too much of
that home to seek a resting-place here ! She often said to me,
* I feel like a tired child wearied, and longing to mingle with
the pure in heart.' At other times she would say, * I feel as
if I were sitting with Mary at the feet of my Redeemer, hearing
the music of His voice, and learning of Him to be meek and
lowly.' And then she would say, 'Oh, Anna, do not you love
your kind Saviour 1 The plan of Redemption was indeed a
glorious one ; humility was indeed the crowning work. I am
like a quiet babe at His feet, and yet my spirit is full of His
strength. When any body speaks of His love to me, I feel as
if they were too slow ; my spirit can mount alone with Him into
those blissful realms, with far more rapidity.'
" My heart gets too full for utterance when I think of her
affectionate manner to me. She often told me that she believed
I had been sent to her in answer to her earnest prayer, and said
that, whatever might be her fate, I might always feel that my
being with her had not been in vain. These were her words ;
and the Searcher of hearts only knows how thankful, yet hum-
bled, I feel for such an inestimable blessing. It is one for which
I feel I shall have to render an account. May it prove a blessed
one ! I wish I could tell you more of what she said, but my
language is so poor, so weak, that when I would try, it is as if I
were robbing her words of their brightness; but then I know
that none can speak as she did. These are not words of course ;
no, I can truly say my ties to earth are weakened, because she
is no longer here."
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 297
whose gentle sympathy was a balm to her heart
The true brotherly kindness of her excellent friend.
Colonel D'Aquilar his indefatigable and thoughtful
attentions, prompted as well by his own generous
regard as by the affectionate anxiety of his sister,
Mrs. Lawrence, were a source of comfort, the con-
sciousness of which must be its own reward, as words
are inadequate to do justice to it. And the same
must be said of the disinterested zeal and solicitude
of Mrs. Hemans's medical friends, Dr. Graves and Dr.
Not long after her removal into the country, her
sympathies were sorrowfully excited by an event
which plunged into the deepest distress the family
with which she was most intimate, and deprived her-
self, individually, of a valuable and paternal friend ;
the death, after a very short illness, of the late J.
C. Graves, Esq. Most touchingly did she lament her
own inability to minister at such a moment to the
griefs of those for whom she felt so sincerely. " Again
and again have I thought of you," were the words of
her letter on this occasion, to one of his afflicted
daughters, " and wished that my health allowed me
to be near you, that I might make some little efforts
to comfort and sustain. Few can more deeply enter
into all you have suffered than myself, in whose mind
the death-bed scene of my beloved and excellent
mother is still as mournfully distinct as the week when
that bereavement occurred, which threw me to strug-
gle upon a harsh and bitter world. But, dearest C.,
there comes a time when we feel that God has drawn
us nearer to Himself by the chastening influence of
298 MEMO/R OF MRS. HEMANS.
such trials, and when we thankfully acknowledge that
a higher state of spiritual purification the great
object, I truly believe, of all our earthly discipline
has been the blessed result of our calamities. I am
sure that in your pure and pious mind this result will
ere long take place, and that a deep and reconciling
calm will follow the awakening sense of God's paren-
tal dealings with the spirit."
The following words are from a note dated Janu-
ary 27th : " I cannot possibly describe to you the sub-
duing effect that long illness has produced upon my
mind. I seem to have been passing * through the val-
ley of the shadow of death,' and all the vivid inter-
ests of life look dim and pale around me. I am still
at the Archbishop's palace, 1 where I receive kindness
truly heart-warm. Never could anything be more
cordial than the strong interest he and his amiable
wife have taken in my recovery. My dear Henry
has enjoyed his holidays here greatly, as I should have
done too (he has been so mild and affectionate), but
for constant pain and sickness."
The future destination of this " dear Henry," now
of an age to enter upon the active duties of life, and
work out his own path to independence, had been for
some time a subject which pressed heavily upon the
mind of his anxious mother. It may, therefore, well
be imagined with what unspeakable joy and gratitude
1 Redesdale is not, properly speaking, the Archbishop's palace,
but his country-seat ; but there were old and dear associations
attached to the former name, which made it very natural that
Mrs. Hemans should use it in connexion with " kindness heart-
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 299
she hailed the arrival of a boon so utterly unexpected
as a letter from Sir Robert Peel, (expressed in terms
no less honourable to the writer, than gratifying to the
receiver), appointing her son to a clerkship in the
Admiralty, and accompanied by a most munificent
donation, which, emanating from such a quarter, could
create no feelings but those of heartfelt thankfulness,
unmingled with any alloy of false delicacy or mistaken
Mrs. Hemans was at first entirely at a loss to trace
the channel through whose means this stream of bounty
had found its way to her retirement ; but it was with
less of surprise than of grateful pleasure, that she at
length discovered it to have been through the affec-
tionate exertions of her friend Mrs. Lawrence, that
an interest so powerful had been awakened in her
favour. The joyful excitement of a happiness so
unlocked for the relief of having such a weight of
anxiety thus lifted from her heart roused her for a
time from the almost lethargic languor into which her
feeble frame was gradually sinking, and her energies
broke forth once more, " as the tender grass springeth
out of the earth by clear shining after rain." She
exerted herself to write many letters to impart the
glad tidings to her friends, speaking invariably of this
noble act of kindness as having filled her mind with
joy and thankfulness; as being "a sunshine without a
cloud." Again must her own words be quoted from
one of the last of her letters to Mrs. Lawrence :
" Well, my dear friend, I hope my life, if it be spared,
may now flow back into its native course of quiet
thoughtfulness. You know in how rugged a channel
300 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
the poor little stream has been forced, and through
what rocks it has wrought its way ; and it is now long-
ing for repose in some still valley. It has ever been
one of my regrets that the constant necessity of pro-
viding sums of money to meet the exigencies of the
boys' education, has obliged me to waste my mind in
what I consider mere desultory effusions :
* Pouring myself away,
As a wild bird, amidst the foliage, turns
That which within him thrills, and beats and burns,
Into a fleeting lay.'
" My wish ever was to concentrate all my mental
energy in the production of some more noble and com-
plete work ; something of pure and holy excellence
(if there be not too much presumption in the thought),
which might permanently take its place as the work
of a British poetess. I have always, hitherto, written
as if in the breathing times of storms and billows.
Perhaps it may not even yet be too late to accomplish
what I wish, though I sometimes feel my health so
deeply prostated, that I cannot imagine how I am ever
to be raised up again. But a greater freedom from
those cares, of which I have been obliged to bear up
under the whole responsibility, may do much to restore
me ; and though my spirits are greatly subdued by long
sickness, I feel the powers of my mind in full matu-
rity. .... The very idea of possessing such
friends as yourself and your dear, noble brother, is a
fountain of strength and hope I am very,
very weary of writing so long ; yet still feel as if I had
a thousand things to say to you.
" With regard to my health, I can only tell you that
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 301
what I now feel is a state of sinking languor, from
which it seems impossible I should ever be raised. I
am greatly exhausted with this long letter, so fare-
A reaction of still more distressing debility, and an
increase of other alarming symptoms, followed but too
rapidly this temporary revival. " I cannot tell you
how much I suffer," was the reluctant confession of a
pencilled note to her sister, " nor what a state of utter
childlike weakness my poor wasted limbs are reduced
to. But my mind is, as I desired Charlie to tell you,
in a state of the deepest resignation ; to which is now
added a warm thankfulness to God for this His latest
The increased danger of her situation making it
advisable that she should return into Daw son Street
to be nearer her physicians, she quitted Redesdale in
the beginning of March, with a heart full of gratitude
for the kindly shelter it had afforded her. She had
now almost entirely lost the use of her limbs, and had
to be lifted in and out of the carriage by her brother,
who had come up from Kilkenny on purpose to super-
intend the arrangements for her removal, and who
from this time to the hour of her death, never left
her, but when summoned into the country by his offi-
cial duties ; whilst his affectionate wife, who arrived
in Dublin the following week, continued unremitting
in her devoted attendance to the last. The melan-
choly group was soon afterwards joined by her sister,
who remained with her until called away by still more
imperative claims ; and for a few days by her son Wil-
loughby, then employed (as has already been men-
VOL. L 26
302 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
tioned) upon the Ordnance Survey in the north of Iro
From this time, the daily declining invalid could
only leave her bed to he laid upon a couch in the
same room ; and her sufferings, caused by the organic
disease which had succeeded the ague, were occasion-
ally most severe. But all was borne uncomplainingly.
Never was her mind overshadowed with.gloorn ; never
would she allow those around her to speak of her con-
dition as one deserving commiseration. The dark and
silent chamber seemed illumined by light from above,
and cheered with songs of angels ; and she would say,
that, in her intervals from pain, " no poetry could
express, nor imagination conceive, the visions of bless-
edness that flitted across her fancy, and made her
waking hours more delightful than those even that
were given to temporary repose." Her sleep was
calm and happy ; and none but pleasing dreams ever
visited her couch. This she acknowledged as a great
and unexpected blessing; for, in all her former ill-
nesses, she had been used to suffer either from pain-
fully intense wakefulness, or disturbed and fitful slum-
bers, which exhausted, rather than refreshed, the worn
and feverish frame. Changeful as were the moods of
her mind, they were invariably alike in this that
serenity and submission as to her awn state, and the
kindest consideration for others, shed their sweet influ-
ence over all. At times, her spirit would appear to
be already half-etherealized ; her mind would seem to
be fraught with deep, and holy, and incommunicable
thoughts, and she would entreat to be left perfectly
alone, in stillness and darkness, " to commune with her
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 303
own heart," and reflect on the mercies of her Saviour
She continually spoke of the unutterable comfort she
derived from dwelling on the contemplation of the
Atonement. To one friend, for whom she dreaded
the influence of adverse opinions, she sent a solemn
exhortation, earnestly declaring that this alone was
her " rod and staff," when all earthly supports were
failing. To another, she desired the assurance might
be given, that " the tenderness and affectionateness
of the Redeemer's character, which they had often
contemplated together, was now a source, not merely
of reliance, but of positive happiness to her the
sweetness of Tier couch." At less solemn moments she
would converse with much of her own kindly cheer-
fulness, sending affectionate messages to her various
friends, and recalling old remembrances with vivid
and endearing minuteness. Her thoughts reverted
frequently to the days of childhood to the old house
by the sea-shore the mountain rambles the haunts
and the books which had formed the delight of her
girlish years. One evening, whilst her sister was sit-
ting by her bed-side, a yellow gleam from the setting
sun, which streamed through the half-closed shutters,
produced a peculiar effect upon the wall, exactly simi-
lar to what used to be observed at sunset in their old
school-room at Gwrych. They both remarked the
circumstance, and what a gush of recollections was
thus called forth ! The association was like that so
often produced by a peculiar scent, or a remembered
strain of music. 1 Yet in all, save that streak of light,
1 " It may be a sound
A tone of music summer's eve or spring
304 MEMOIR OP MRS. HEMANS.
how different were the two scenes ! The one, a cham-
ber of sickness in a busy city its windows (for a back-
room had been chosen, for the sake of quietness,) look-
ing down into a dull court ; the other, a cheerful
apartment in an old country-house, every thing about
it bespeaking the presence of happy childhood, and
the wide, pleasant window opening out upon fresh
green fields ; beyond them the silver sea ; and far in
the west, the sun sinking behind the dark, bold pro-
montory of the Orme's Head. And in the inmates
of those two rooms, the contrast was no less striking.
Of the two joyous children, one, " the favourite and
the flower," now a worn and faded form, lay on her
dying bed; the other, on the eve of partings worse
than death, destined to feel the sad force of the affect
ing old epitaph:
" Why doe I live, in life a thralle,
Of joye and alle berefte 1
Their wings were growne, to heaven they're flowne
'Cause I had none, I'm lefte." 1
The powers of memory for which Mrs. Hemans
had always been so remarkable, shone forth with in-
creased brightness whilst her outward frame was so
visibly decaying. She would lie for hours without
speaking or moving, repeating to herself whole chap-
ters of the Bible, and page after page of Milton and
Wordsworth. The volume of Yarrow Revisited,
A flower the wind the ocean which shall wound,
Striking the electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound."
Childe Harold, Canto iv. Stanza xxiii.
1 In Crediton Church, near Exeter.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMAN9. 305
which was published at this time, and sent to her by
her revered friend, with an autograph inscription,
afforded her great delight. 1 Amongst the many mes-
sages of cordial remembrance which she sent to her
personal friends, as well as to some of those with
whose minds alone she had held communion, was one
to Miss Mitford, desiring she might be told how often
some of her sweet woodland scenes rose up before
her, as in a camera obscura, filling the dark room
with pleasant rural sights ; with the scent of the new-
mown hay or the fresh fern, and the soothing sound
of waters. Her " Remembrances of Nature," de-
scribed with so deep a feeling in one of her sonnets,
continued equally intense and affectionate to the last.
A passage from a work which had long been high in
her favour, was now brought home to her thoughts
with a truth equal to its eloquence. " O unseen
Spirit of Creation ! that watchest over all things the
desert and the rock, no less than the fresh water,
bounding on like a hunter on his path, when his heart
is in his step or the valley girded by the glad woods,
and living with the yellow corn to me, thus sad and
1 It would have been very dear to her, could she have fore-
seen the delicate and appropriate commemoration awarded to
her by Mr. Wordsworth, in the elegiac stanzas which record the
high names of some of his most distinguished contemporaries,
summoned, in quick succession, " to the land whence none re-
turn :"- '
"Mourn rather for that holy spirit,
Sweet as the spring, as ocean deep,
For her, who, ere her summer faded.
Has sunk into a breathless sleep."
See WORDSWORTH'S Poems (new edition), Vol. V. p. 336.
306 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
baffled, thou hast ministered as to the happiest of thy
children ! thou hast whispered tidings of unutterable
comfort to a heart which the world sated while it de-
ceived. Thou gavest me a music, sweeter than that
of palaces, in the mountain wind thou badest the
flowers and the common grass smile up to me as chil-
dren to the face of their father." l
One of the few visiters admitted to her room, after
she became entirely confined to it, was that most
gifted and gracious child (for such he then was, both
in years and appearance), Giulio Regondi, in whose
wonderful musical genius she had previously taken
great delight, whilst his guileless and sensitive nature
inspired her with a warm feeling of interest. The
lines she had addressed to him in the preceding year,
flowed from that well-spring of maternal kindliness
which was ever gushing within her bosom, and which
made every child still more every loving and mother-
less child an object towards which her heart yearn-
ed with tender sympathy. The little fellow showed
the greatest anxiety during her illness, and was con-
stant in his spontaneous enquiries. Sometimes he
would call to ask for her on his way to play at the
Castle concerts, or at some other evening party ; and
as he .stood in the doorway, with his innocent face, his
delicate form, his long fair hair streaming down his
shoulders, and his whole air and bearing so different
from the everyday beings around him, one might
almost have taken him for a messenger from " the
1 "The New Phsedo," in The Student, Vol. II. p. 355.
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 307
It is impossible to describe the considerate and un
ceasing attentions which were continually bringing
assurance to the patient sufferer, not merely of the
watchful kindness of friends, but of the generous
interest of strangers. 1 All this she would acknow-
ledge with the most grateful emotion, and even when
unable to partake of the luxuries which poured in so
lavishly from every imaginable quarter, they were
still welcomed and appreciated as tokens of thought-
ful recollection. But " flowers, fresh flowers !" these
were ever hailed as things of " deep meaning" and
happy omen ; and never was her couch unblessed by
their gentle presence. For this gratification she was
more than once indebted to the kindness of a fellow
sufferer, at that time under the care of her own
friendly physician, Dr. Croker ; this was the Rev.
Hugh White (the author of Meditations and Ad-
dresses on Prayer, and of several other religious
works), who was then considered to be in a state
little less precarious than her own, though it pleased
God, after long chastening, to " heal his sickness,"
and enable him to resume the duties of a " good and
1 This was particularly shown in the instance of one lady who
was most assiduous in her personal enquiries, and was continu-
ally bringing some new delicacy to tempt the capricious appetite
of the invalid. There was a sort of interesting mystery attach-
ed to these fairy favours, as it never could be discovered from
whom they proceeded. The lady used to alight from an elegant
equipage at the corner of the street, come up unattended to the
door, and ask to see Anna Creer, whose entreaties to be told her
name were proffered in vain, " That" she used to say, " was of
no consequence ; she only hoped that her attentions might be re-
ceived as kindly as they were meant."
308 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
faithful servant." The impressions under which
these tokens were sent and received, as from one
dying Christian to another, invested them with a
peculiar interest. Mrs. Hemans had desired that a
copy of her sonnet to " Flowers in a Sick Room"
should be sent to Mr. White, and was sensibly touch-
ed by the note in which he wrote to thank her for it,
as " so sweetly expressing the pleasurable and pious
feelings their ' pure and lovely forms' are calculated
to awaken in the bosom of one who delights to be
reminded, by every object in creation, of that most
precious and consolatory truth, that ' God is love.' '
Another passage from the same note, was equally in
unison with her own feelings. " I have been sorry, in
one sense, to hear that you have latterly been so
great a sufferer, and I can indeed sympathize with
you in many of the trying feelings attendant on a
broken and declining state of health. But as I believe
I am writing to one who has tasted that the Lord is
gracious, and has been given to know something of
that love which passeth knowledge, I almost feel as if
it were wrong to say I am sorry, that a gracious, and
compassionate, and faithful Saviour is fulfilling to you
His own precious promise ' As many as I love, I
rebuke and chasten.' '
The conviction of the inestimable value of such
discipline, was, indeed, ever present to her mind,
mingled with the deepest humility, the most entire
resignation an equal readiness to live or die a
saying with the whole heart "Behold the hand-
maid of the Lord Be it unto me according to Thy
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 309
** I feel," she would say, " as if hovering between
heaven and earth;" and she seemed, in truth, so
raised towards the sky, that all worldly things were
obscured and diminished to her view, whilst the in-
effable glories of eternity dawned upon it more and
more brightly. Even her affections, warm and eager,
and sensitive as they had been, were subdued into the
same holy calm; and meetings and partings, which
in other days would have thrilled her with joy, or
wrung her very heart with grief, were now sustained
with the sweet, yet solemn composure, of one whose
hopes have " surely there been fixed," where meetings
are for ever, and partings unknown. Of all she had
ever done in the exercise of the talents with which it
had pleased God to intrust her, she spoke in the meek-
est and lowliest spirit ; often declaring how much more
ardently than ever, had life been prolonged, her pow-
ers would have been consecrated to His service : and
if a gentle regret would sometimes intrude, as she
thought of the many literary designs on which her
mind and heart had latterly been bent, but which
were now dissipated for ever, she would console
herself with the line dictated by Milton under ana-
" Those also serve who only stand and wait" l
There was at times an affecting inconsistency in the
words she would let fall to those around her some-
times as if anticipating a renewal of their earthly
intercourse ; at others, revealing, by some allusion or
1 See Milton's Sonnet on his Blindness.
310 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
injunction fraught with farewell tenderness, how com-
pletely all idea of such a possibility had passed away
from her mind. One day, when her sister was beside
her, she repeated, with calm emphasis, the old homely
"Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages,
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone and ta'en thy wages."
adding " Those words may soon be said for me."
And the circumstance of her sinking to rest on the
Saturday night, brought them most touchingly back
On Sunday evening, the 15th of March, it had been
arranged that she was to receive the sacrament from
the hands of the Rev. Dr. Dickinson (one of the Arch-
bishop's chaplains), who was in the habit of visiting
and reading to her. Shortly before the appointed
hour, she was seized with a paroxysm of coughing, so
violent and prolonged, that those who stood around
her bed, scarcely expected she could survive it ; and
the exhaustion which followed was most alarming.
When a little revived, she desired that the sacred rite
might still be performed. Sadly and solemnly did
those holiest words fall on the hearts of the little group
of mourners* assembled in the quiet chamber on one
young heart, more especially, that of the dear, inno-
cent boy, admitted to his first communion beside his
mother's deathbed ; while she alone was calm amongst
the trembling, placid amidst the weeping. 1 A night
*"I came again: the place was bright
* With something of celestial light'
MEMOIRS OF MRS. HEMANS. 311
of intense anxiety followed ; yet not only did it pass
without further alarm, but the morning brought revi-
val, and even some symptoms of improvement, as
though a sort of crisis had been gone through. Once
more the idea of a hope a chance of recovery,
gained unconscious admission in the minds of those
who, a week before, would have thought the mere
mention of such a possibility absolutely chimerical.
The advance of spring appeared to give somewhat of
a fresh impulse to her frame, as soft showers might,
for a season, revive a drooping flower. The images
of external nature haunted her, as by the working
of a secret sympathy, more vividly than ever ; and
her " green books," as she would fancifully call them,
were again laid on the little table beside her bed,
which, with " the ruling passion, strong in death," she
loved to see covered with volumes, one of which would
A simple altar by the bed,
For high communion meetly spread,
Chalice, and plate, and snowy vest
We ate and drank: then, calmly blest,.
All mourners one with dying- breath,
We sate and talk'd of Jesus' death.
" Oh ! soothe us, haunt us, night and day,
Ye gentle spirits far away,
With whom we shared the cup of grace*
Then parted; ye to Christ's embrace,
We to the lonesome world again,
Yet mindful of th' unearthly strain
Practised with you at Eden's door,
To be sung on, where angels soar
With blended voices evermore."
Visitation of the Sick, in KEEBLE'S Christian Year.
312 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
always lie open. Amongst the works of this nature
which she looked over or listened to with the greatest
interest, were Gilpin's Forest Scenery, and Bucke's
Beauties, Harmonies, and Sublimities of Nature. And
the poetry of Bowles, one of her early favourites,
whom for years she had scarcely read or thought of,
was now recurred to with a sort of old home feeling,
and affectionate recognition of its mild and soothing
beauty. Another book must be mentioned as having
been peculiarly pleasing to her at this time the Lives
of Sacred Poets, by R. A. Willmott, Esq. Her mind
dwelt with much comfort and complacency on those
records of the pure and good, whose pious thoughts
and quaint expressions had latterly gained such a hold
upon her heart. Many of the poetical extracts given
in that volume are now tenderly associated with her
remembrance, particularly those lines from Quarles's
elegy on the death of Archbishop Usher :
" Then weep no more ; see how his peaceful breast
Rock'd by the hand of death, takes quiet rest.
Disturb him not! but let him sweetly take
A full repose; he hath been long awake."
And yet more intimately connected with the me-
mory of these latter days, is the account of the death
of Madame de Mornay, in the second volume of the
Lives of Eminent Christians ; which she entered into
with the deepest interest, and earnestly recommended
as a beautiful and consolatory picture, showing in
bright, yet not exaggerated colours, " how a Christian
Under the fond and fugitive delusions into which
this unexpected turn in her malady had beguiled the
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 313
anxious watchers round her, and occasionally, as it
appeared, even the sufferer herself, her sister, recalled
by yet stronger ties, bade her farewell, on the 1st of
April. The same fluctuations of hope and fear con-
tinued to assert their alternate ascendency during the
earlier part of that month ; but it soon became but
too evident that, though many of the most imminent
and distressing symptoms had been subdued, they had
only given place to a consuming hectic fever, which
went on surely and insidiously wasting the last rem-
nants of vitality ; now lending to its victim an aspect
of illusive energy, now sinking her into the deepest
extreme of passive and helpless prostration.
After the exhausting vicissitudes of days when it
seemed that the night of death was indeed at hand
of nights when it was thought that she could never
see the light of morning; wonderful even to those
who had witnessed, throughout her illness, the clear-
ness and brightness of the never-dying principle,
amidst the desolation and decay of its earthly com-
panion, was the concentrated power and facility with
which, on Sunday, the 26th of April, she dictated
to her brother the " Sabbath Sonnet," the last strain,
of the " sweet singer,' 7 whose harp was henceforth
to be hung upon the willows,
"How many blessed groups this hour are bending,
Through England's primrose meadow-paths, their way
Toward spire and tower, 'midst shadowy elms ascending,
Whence the sweet chimes proclaim the hallow'd day!
The halls, from old heroic ages grey,
Pour their fair children forth; and hamlets low,
With whose thick orchard blooms the soft winds play,
VOL. I, 27
314 MEMOIR OF MRS. 1IEMANS.
Send out their inmates in a happy flow,
Like a freed vernal stream; / may not tread
With them those pathways to the feverish bed
Of sickness hound ; yet, O my God ! I bless
Thy mercy, that with Sabbath peace hath fill'd
My chasten'd heart, and all its throbbings stilFd
To one deep calm of lowliest thankfulness." l
Little now remains for the biographer, but
"A soft, sad, miserere chant
For a soul about to go."
After this last effort, the shadows of death began
to close in apace. The wing, once so buoyant and
fearless, was now meekly folded, and the weary,
wounded bird longed only for rest. During the last
week of her life, she became subject to slight wan-
Jerings ; but the images she dwelt upon were always
pleasing or beautiful. She still loved to be read to,
and seemed to feel a tranquillizing influence from the
sound of the words, even when incapable of attending
1 Amongst the many tributes of interest and admiration elicited
by a poem, so remarkable to all readers so precious to many
hearts the following expressions, contained in a letter from the
late venerable Bishop of Salisbury to Mrs. Joanna Baillie (and
already published by the latter), are too pleasingly applicable not
to be inserted here. ^ There is something peculiarly touching in
the time, the subject, and the occasion of this death-bed sonnet,
and in the affecting contrast between the ' blessed groups* she
describes, and her own (humanly speaking) helpless state of sick-
ness ; and that again contrasted with the hopeful state of mind
with which the sonnet concludes, expressive both of the quiet
comforts of a Christian Sabbath, and the blessed fruits of profit-
able application. Her ' Sweet Chimes' on * Sabbath Peace,'
appear to me very characteristic of the writer.*'
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 315
to their import. Four days before her death, she
read to herself the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for
the preceding Sunday the fourth Sunday after Easter.
The gracious and "comfortable words" of that gospel,
mingling the consolations of Divine compassion with
the parting tenderness of human love, were, perhaps,
the most appropriate on which her fading eyes could
have rested ; nor could she fail to apply to herself the
coincidence of some of the expressions " Now> I go
my way to Him that sent me" " I go to my Father,
and ye see me no more" and, " Because I have said
these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your hearts."
And, as her feeble hands still held the cherished book,
how fervently must she have inwardly responded to
the words of the dying George Herbert, when, being
asked what prayers he would prefer, he replied
" O sir, the prayers of my mother, the Church of
England no other prayers are equal to them ! "
In her kind friend Dr. Croker, she was wont to say
that she had at once a physician and a pastor. He
frequently read to her, and particularly out of a little
book which she dearly loved, and which he had first
made known to her a selection from the works of
Archbishop Leigh ton. The last time of her listening
to it, she repeatedly exclaimed, "beautiful! beautiful!"
and, with her eyes upraised, seemed occupied in com-
muning with herself, and mentally praying. She was
attended to the last with the most watchful affection
by her brother and his wife, by her darling Charles,
and her faithful Anna, to whom she said, when all
was fast drawing to a close, that "she had been
316 MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS.
making her peace with God; that she felt all at
peace within her bosom."
On Saturday the 16th of May, she sank into a
gentle slumber, which continued almost unbroken
throughout the day ; and at nine o'clock in the even-
ing, her spirit passed away without pain or struggle,
and, it is humbly hoped, was translated, through the
mediation of her blessed Redeemer, to that rest which
remaineth to the people of God.
And those who loved her best in whose hearts
her departure has left an aching void which they must
bear with them to the grave who feel that a light is
taken from their path which nothing earthly can
restore can yet thankfully and submissively acknow-
ledge that " it is well ! " can rejoice to think of her
in safety and repose ; and, with spirits chastened like
her own, can bless their Heavenly Father, that now,
" of his great mercy," after the toils and trials of her
mortal career, " He giveth his beloved sleep."
Her remains were deposited in a vault beneath St.
Anne's Church in Dublin, almost close to the house
where she died. A small tablet has been placed
above the spot where she is laid, inscribed with her
name, her age, and the date of her death, and with
the following lines from a dirge of her own :
K Calm on the bosom of thy God,
Fair Spirit ! rest thee now !
Ev'n while with us thy footsteps trode,
His seal was on thy brow.
Dust to its narrow house beneath!
Soul to its place on high !
They that have seen thy look in death,
No more may fear to die."
MEMOIR OF MRS. HEMANS. 317
A similar memorial, bearing the following inscrip-
tion, is erected in the Cathedral of St. Asaph, beneath
one which is consecrated to the remembrance of her
PLACED HERE BY HER BROTHERS,
IN MEMORY OF
WHOSE CHARACTER IS BEST POURTRAYED
IN HER WRITINGS.
SHE DIED IN DUBLIN, MAY 16th, 1835.
END OF MEMOIR.
LEA & BLANCHARD,
WILL SHORTLY PUBLISH
A COMPLETE AND UNIFORM EDITION
MRS. HEMANS'S WORKS;
TO WHICH IS PREFIXED
A MEMOIR BY HER SISTER,
In Six Volumes, Royal Duodecimo.
FROM the high reputation which the writings of MRS. HEMANS
have attained, and from the influence which they seem destined
to exercise over the public mind, alike hy their loftiness of senti-
ment, by their purity of moral and religious feeling, and by their
beauty of language, there can be no doubt that their Author has
taken a permanent place amongst the Classics of Great Britain.
Hitherto her compositions have only appeared in compact vo-
lumes, while others have never been presented in an acknow-
ledged form. The Publishers have, therefore, resolved upon
making a complete and uniform edition of the whole, in a style
similar to their recent issue of the Poetical Works of SCOTT, and
his Life, by Lockhart.
In accomplishing this object more satisfactorily, they have
deemed it of importance to adhere, in some measure, to the
chronological order in which the various writings of MRS.
HEMANS appeared that the developement of her mind may be
thus more distinctly shown ; and, as intellectual efforts formed
its epochs, each volume will open with one or other of her more
elaborate productions. It is also here proper to mention, that
such of her MS. relics, as her literary executors think fit will be
now for the first time submitted to the public eye.
VOLUME I., consists of a memoir of Mrs. Hemans, from the
pen of her sister, containing authentic records of her life, to-
gether with such a selection from her correspondence and un-
published writings, as most accurately convey her habits of
thought, her opinions of men and books, and her own literary
plans and occupations Wallace and Bruce. It also compre-
hends a variety of extracts from her juvenile poetry.
VOLUME II. Tales and historic scenes. The restoration of
the works of art to Italy. Modern Greece, &c., &c.
VOLUME III. The Siege of Valencia. The Last Constantine
The Sceptic. Greek Songs. Welsh Melodies, &c., &c.
VOLUME IV. The Vespers of Palermo. De Chatillon, a
tragedy (hitherto unpublished). The Forest Sanctuary. Lays
of Many Lands, &c., &c.
VOLUME V. Records of Woman. Sebastian of Portugal.
Songs of the Affections, and Miscellaneous Poems.
VOLUME VI. Scenes and Hymns of Life, Lyrics and Songs
for music. Despondency and aspiration, &c.
*** A specimen of the type and size of page is here presented.
ENGLAND AND SPAIN. 335
Then crowded round its free and simple race,
Amazement pictured wild on ev'ry face;
Who deem'd that beings of celestial birth,
Sprung from the sun, descended to the earth
Then first another world, another sky,
Beheld Iberia's banner blaze on high!
Still prouder glories beam on history's page,
Imperial CHARLES! to mark thy prosperous age:
Those golden days of arts and fancy bright,
When Science pour'd her mild, refulgent light;
When Painting bade the glowing canvas breathe,
Creative Sculpture claim'd the living wreath ;
When roved the Muses in Ausonian bowers,
Weaving immortal crowns of fairest flowers
When dngel-truth dispersed, with beam divine,
The clouds that veiPd religion's hallo w'd shrine ;
Those golden days beheld Iberia tower
High ,on the pyramid of fame and power;
Vain all the efforts of her numerous foes,
Her might, superior still, triumphant rose.
Thus, on proud Lebanon's exalted brow,
The cedar, frowning o'er the plains below
Though storms assail, its regal pomp to rend,
Majestic, still aspires, disdaining e'er to bend !
When Gallia pour'd, to Pavia's trophied plain,
Her youthful knights, a bold, impetuous train ;
When, after many a toil and danger past,
The fatal morn of conflict rose at last ;
That morning saw her glittering host combine,
And form in close array the threat'ning line;
336 ENGLAND AND SPAIN.
Fire in each eye, and force in ev'ry arm,
With hope exulting, and with ardour warm;
Saw to the gale their streaming ensigns play,
Their armour flashing to the beam of day;
Their gen'rous chargers panting, spurn the ground,
Roused by the trumpet's animating sound;
And heard in air their warlike music float,
The martial pipe, the drum's inspiring note !
Pale set the sun the shades of evening fell,
The mournful night-wind rung their funeral knell ;
And the same day beheld their warriors dead,
Their sovereign captive, and their glories fled !
Fled, like the lightning's evanescent fire,
Bright, blazing, dreadful only to expire !
Then, then, while prostrate Gaul confess'd her might
Iberia's planet shed meridian light !
Nor less, on famed St. Quin tin's deathful day,
Castilian spirit bore the prize away;
Laurels that still their verdure shall retain,
And trophies beaming high in glory's fane !
And lo ! her heroes, warm with kindred flame,
Still proudly emulate their fathers' fame ;
Still with the soul of patriot- valour glow,
Still rush impetuous to repel the foe;
Wave the bright faulchion, lift the beamy spear,
And bid oppressive Gallia learn to fear!
Be theirs, be theirs, unfading honour's crown,
The living amaranths of bright renown !
Be theirs th' inspiring tribute of applause,
Due to the champions of their country's cause !
Be theirs the purest bliss that virtue loves,
The joy when conscience whispers and approves !
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BY J. G. LOCKHART, ESQ.
A cheaper edition of the last work may also be bad in two
volumes octavo, done up in embossed cloth. v
THE NOVELS OF JANE AUSTEN.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY,
MANSFIELD PARK, EMMA, AND
PERSUASION, NORTHANGER ABBEY.
Complete in One Large Volume.
Bound in embossed cloth, or neatly half bound with calf backs
THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS.
To which is now first added,
THE CALENDAR OF FLOWERS.
Revised by the Editor of " FORGET ME NOT."
A New Edition^ with New Plates.
Handsomely done up in embossed leather, with gilt edges.
A New and Handsome Edition of
Picciola, the Prisoner of Fenestrella ;
OR, CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE.
BY M. D. SANTAINE.
In One neat Royal 18mo. Volume.
Complete in Seven Octavo Volumes.
PROUT, CHALMERS, KIDD, BELL, WHEWELL,
ROGET, KIRBY, AND BUCKLAND.
Handsomely bound in half-coloured calf, or embossed cloth.
Illustrated editions of the following works by (BOZ) Charles
Dickens, Esq., printed on fine paper, and handsomely bound in
embossed cloth, to match.
&fje IJostfjtttnotts papers of
THE PICKWICK CLUB,
WITH NUMEROUS DESIGNS,
SAM WELLER, JR., AND ALFRED CROWaUILL, ESQ.
OR, THE PARISH BOY'S PROGRESS.
WITH TWENTY-FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS.
DESIGNED BY CRUIKSHANK^
SKETCHES BY "BOZ,"
Illustrative of Every-Day Life, and Every-Day People.
A NEW EDITION.
COMPRISING BOTH THE SERIES,
Bmbelitetjeti tottl) Humerou* Hlustratfon*
BY GEORGE CRUIKSHANK.
THE POCKET LdiCOJV,
Comprising nearly One Thousand Extracts from the best
Authors, selected toy John Taylor.
A work, that, dip where the reader may, he will find a fund
of knowledge: and which he may continue to peruse, lay down,
and take up at pleasure, without breaking the thread, or inter-
rupting the chain of reasoning.
In two handsome pocket volumes, bound in embossed cloth.
ROB OF THE BOWL.
A LEGEND OF ST. INI GOES.
By the Author of " Horseshoe Robinson" &c.
Two Volumes, 12mo.
THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN DAY.
By the Author of " Calavar," " Nick of the Woods," &c.
In Two Volumes, 12mo.
By the same Author.
OR, A RAMBLER'S RECOLLECTIONS.
In Two Volumes, 12mo.
OR, RECOLLECTIONS OF A MAN OF THE WORLD.
By an Anonymous Writer.
In Two Vols. 12mo.
to a ouns
UPON ENTERING SOCIETY.
By the Author of the Laws of Etiquette."
A small volume, in embossed cloth.
By the Author of " The Spy," " The Pioneers," &c.
" Be wise to-day ; 'tis madness to defer
To-raorrow's caution may arrive too late."
A new edition, revised by the Author. In Two Volumes, 12mo.
OR, THE CHASE.
A STORY OF THE SEA.
BY J. FENIMORE COOPER, ESQ.
Author of" The Pilot," " The Red Rover," &c.
A new edition, in 2 vols. 12mo.
HOME AS POUND;
BEING A SEQUEL TO "HOMEWARD BOUND."
BY MR. COOPER.
In Two Volumes, 12mo.
THE AMERICAN LOUNGER; or, Tales, Sketches and
Legends. By the author of " Lafitte," " Captain Kyd," &c.
One volume, 12mo.
THE LITTLE FRENCHMAN AND HIS WATER LOTS,
and other Hits at the Times. By George P. Morris, Esq., of
New York. With illustrations by Johnson. One vol. 12mo.
A CONTINUATION OF THE DIARY ILLUSTRATIVE
OF THE TIMES OF GEORGE IV., interspersed with
Original Letters from Queen Caroline, the Princess Charlotte,
and other distinguished persons. Edited by John Gait, Esq,
In 2 vols. 12mo.
BROUGHAM'S HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF STATES-
MEN WHO FLOURISHED IN THE TIMES OF
GEORGE III. First and second series. In 4 vols. 12mo.
BIRTHS, DEATHS AND MARRIAGES. By Theodore
Hook. In 2 vols. 12mo. *
BUBBLES IN CANADA. By Sam Slick. In 1 vol. 12mo.
SOLOMON SEESAW. A Novel. In 2 vols. 12mo.
ELVIRA ; or, the Nabob's Wife. In 2 vols. 12mo.
CONCEALMENT. A Novel. In 2 vols. 12mo.
ADAM BUFF. By Douglass Jerrold. In 2 vols. 12mo.
ISABEL, OR SICILY. A Pilgrimage. By Henry T. Tucker-
man. In 1 vol. 12mo.
NICHOLAS NICKLEBY. By Boz. Nos. 1 to 17. To be
completed in 20 numbers.
JACK SHEPPARD. A Romance. By the author of " Rook-
wood," " Crichton," &c.
HORACE VERNON ; or, Fashionable Life. In 2 vols. 12mo.
PASCAL BRUNO. A Sicilian Story. Edited by Theodore
Hook. 1 vol. 12mo.
LIFE OF MATHEWS, THE COMEDIAN. By his Wife.
In 2 vols. 12mo.
ELLIOTT'S TRAVELS IN AUSTRIA, RUSSIA AND
TURKEY. In 2 vols. 12mo.
GURNEY MARRIED. By Theodore Hook. In 2 vols. 12mo.
MARY RAYMOND, and Other Tales. By Mrs. Gore. In
2 vols. 12mo.
A cheap Edition of OLIVER TWIST. By Boz. With two
plates. In one volume.
A cheap edition of SKETCHES BY BOZ. With two plates.
In one volume.
ALTHEA VERNON. By Miss Leslie. In 1 vol. 12mo.
LORD BROUGHAM'S OPINIONS on Politics, Theology,
Law, &c. In 2 vols. 12mo.
THE NAVAL FOUNDLING. By "The Old Sailor." In
3 vols. 12mo.
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