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Full text of "Memorials of Mrs. Hemans : with illustrations of her literary character, from her private correspondence"

MEMORIALS 



OP 

MRS. HEMANS 

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS 

OF 

HER LITERARY CHARACTER 

FROM HER 

PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE. 



BY N\ 

*jr 

HENRY F. CHORLEY. 



IN TWO VOLUMES. 
VOL. II. 



LONDON 

SAUNDERS AND OTLEY, CONDUIT STREET. 
1836. 




LONDON : 

IDOTSON AND PALMER, PRINTERS, SAVOY STREET, STRAND. 



CONTENTS, 

VOL. II. 



CHAPTER I. 

Character of the poems written by Mrs. Hemans 
whilst residing at Wavertree Peninsular Melodies 
Familiar correspondence Lord Colling wood's 
Life and Letters " The Song of Night" Moore's 
" Lines on certain Memoirs of Lord Byron" " Let- 
ter with a symphony" Spanish cathedrals Note 
from Seacombe Lord Byron's hair Remarks and 
illustrations Page 1 

CHAPTER II. 

Mrs. Hemans' visit to Scotland Her funereal poetry 
Her reception in Edinburgh Anecdotes Letters 
from Chiefswood The Rhymour's Glen Walk 



IV CONTENTS. 

with Sir Walter Scott The Rhine Song" Yarrow 
visited" Lines to Rizzio's picture Letter from 
Abbotsford Visit of the Due de Chartres Anec- 
dotes Letters from Edinburgh Moonlight walk- 
Scotch pulpit eloquence Visit to Mackenzie- 
Remarkable group of sculpture Letter from Mil- 
burn Tower - 25 

CHAPTER III. 

The " Songs of the Affections" Extract from familiar 
correspondence Haunted Hamlet near Melrose 
" Rhine Song" Lewis's " Tales of Terror" Dr. 
Channing Ballad on the Death of Aliatar New 
Year\wishes " The Fall of Nineveh"" A Spirit's 
Return" Analysis of character The Rev. Edward 
Irving De Lamartine's Poems Mr. Roscoe Per- 
golesi's " Stabat Mater" New songs by Moore and 
Bishop Manzoni's "Cinque Maggio" Godwin's 
" Cloudesley'' Projected journey to the Lakes 
Dramatic Scene New volume of Poems - 69 

CHAPTER IV. 

Mr. Wordsworth's poetry Mrs. Hemans' visit to the 
Lakes Her letters from Rydal Mount Passage 



CONTENTS. V 

: from Haco Genius compatible with domestic hap- 
piness State of music among the Lakes Mr. 
Wordsworth's reading aloud Anecdote Dove Nest 
-Accident on horseback Letters from Dove Nest 
-Winandermere The St. Cecilia Whimsical letter 
Letter of counsel Commissions Anecdote of a 
bridal gift Readings of Schiller Second journey 
into Scotland M. Jeffrey Six Mrs. Hemans 
Change of residence - - 106 

CHAPTER V. 

Fragments of correspondence Journey through An- 
glesey Aurora Borealis Light-house Passage 
from Mr. Bowdler's writings Monument by Thor- 
waldsen Personification in art and poetry Goethe 
Rogers ' " Italy " Titian's portraits Longevity 
of artists Lessons in music Evening spent with a 
celebrated linguist Mr. Roscoe Mr. Hare's pam- 
phletsGibbon's " Sappho'* Character of Mrs. He- 
mans in the " Athenaeum " Life and Letters of 
Weber The repose of old portraits Young's Ham- 
let The Cyclops' proved light-houses Howitt's 
"Book of the Seasons "Poetical tributes Wan- 
dering female singer Wearisome dinner-party 
Mrs. Hemans' pleasure in composing melodies 
f( Prayer at Sea after Battle" Preparations for her 



VI CONTENTS. 

departure from England Shelley's poems Vulgar 
patronage Collection of drawings " Tancredi" 
Discontinuance of pensions from the Royal Society 
of Literature . - 152 

CHAPTER VI. 

Mrs. Hemans' departure from England Letters from 
Kilkenny Catholic and Protestant animosity Pic- 
tures at Lord Ormonde's Visit to Woodstock 
Parallel between the poems of Mrs. Hemans and 
Mrs. Tighe Raphael's great Madonna Kilfane 
Water-birds Deserted churchyard Visit to a Con- 
ventPassage in Symmons' Translation of the 
Agamemnon Kilkenny Irish politics " The 
Death-song of Alcestis "Dublin Musical Festival 
Paganini " Napoleon's Midnight Review" Fur- 
ther Anecdotes of Paganini Letters from the county 
Wicklow Glendalough The Devil's Glen Wood 
scenery Letters from Dublin Miniature by Robert- 
sonSociety of Dublin" The Swan and the Sky- 
lark " Difficulty in procuring new books - 203 

CHAPTER VII. 

The last days of Poets Their duties Mrs. Hemans' 
favourite books Extracts from familiar correspon- 
denceScriptural studies Miss Kemble's tragedy 



CONTENTS. v 

Thoughts during sickness Extracts from " Scenes 
and Hymns of Life" " Norwegian Battle Song " 
Cholera in Dublin Mr. Carlyle's criticism Irish 
society in town and country u The Summer's Call " 
New Year's Eve Triumphal entry of O'Connell 
Repeated attacks of illness Fiesco Second part of 
Faust Translation of the first part Visit from her 
sister Excursion into Wicklow New volumes of 
poems Sacred poetry Coleridge " Scenes and 
Hymns of Life " Letters to a friend entering lite- 
rary life Stories of Art Philip van Artavelde 
Death of Mrs. Fletcher Visit to a mountain tarn- 
Projected visit to England Anticipations of death 
" A poet's Dying Hymn" Jebb and Knox's corres- 
pondence Silvio Pellico's " Prigione " Coleridge's 
letter to his godchild Retszch's outlines to Schiller's 
"Song of the Bell" - - 254 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Increase of illness Mrs. Hemans* calmness and resig- 
nation " Thoughts during Sickness" " Despon- 
dency arid Aspiration" Projected poem "Antique 
Greek lament" Removal to Redesdale Last ex- 
tract from her correspondence Appointment of her 



Vlll 



CONTENTS. 



son Her cheerfulness Messages to her friends 
Her love of books Further notices of her last hours 
Conclusion . 337 



MEMORIALS 



MRS. HEMANS. 



CHAPTER L 

Character of the poems written by Mrs. Hemans 
whilst residing at Wavertree Peninsular Melodies 
Familiar correspondence Lord Collingwood's 
Life and Letters "The Song of Night" Moore's 
" Lines on certain Memoirs of Lord Byron" " Let- 
ter with a symphony" Spanish cathedrals Note 
from Seacombe Lord Byron's hair Remarks and 
illustrations. 

ENOUGH has been already said and shown, 
to give a tolerably complete picture of the na- 

VOL. II. B 



2 MEMORIALS OF 

ture and manner of Mrs. Hemans' life, during 
the three years (far from her happiest) spent by 
her at Wavertree. She had only just reached 
the fame, which, from its novelty no less than 
its height, was sure to expose her to curiosity 
and adulation. She had never before been sub- 
jected, alone, to the cares and vexations of do- 
mestic life, the presence of which, by contrast, 
increased her eagerness to escape to those ex- 
treme regions of fancy and speculation which 
nothing earthly or practical was permitted to 
enter. She had never till then been called 
upon to bear her part in general society ; and 
while she felt its requisitions irksome, and its 
enjoyments barren of compensation for time 
sacrificed and self-restraint enjoined, her desires 
of home-companionship were stayed, if not 
satisfied, by the acquisition of a few attached 
friends to whom she could " show all that was 
in her heart." Among these, Mrs. Lawrence, 
of Wavertree Hall, and Miss Park, also of 
Wavertree, may, without any indelicacy, be par- 



MRS. HEMANS. 3 

ticularized : of the "brightly-associated hours" 
she passed with the former, herself an elegant 
Spanish and Italian scholar, a record remains in 
the dedication to one of her last volumes the 
" National Lyrics and Songs for Music :" the 
latter lady, too, was a zealous and disinterested 
counsellor and comforter : it was chiefly at her 
instance that Mrs. Hemans made trial of the 
neighbourhood of Liverpool as a residence. 

The state of Mrs. Hemans' mind as yet 
struggling without the threshold of its last and 
greatest change is, I think, to be traced in the 
poems written by her during these three years, 
if I am not reasoning from memory rather than 
from inference. They are more exclusively and 
sadly individual (with the exception, perhaps, 
of the " Songs for Music") than any of her former 
works : they treat more undividedly of the 
deeper workings of a sensitive and tender, and 
yet high-toned spirit: they exhibit, to the ut- 
most, its unquiet desire to penetrate the mys- 
teries which on this side of the grave are not 

B 2 



4 MEMORIALS OF 

penetrable : they point unceasingly to the 
wounds which the world inflicts, rarely to those 
which it heals. So aware were her friends of this 
disposition of her mind, prevailing almost to 
unhealthiness, that they urged her to throw her- 
self upon some work, in the progress of which 
she should be obliged to forget, rather than em- 
body, thoughts of so melancholy a hue. They 
urged her in vain : she would sometimes, it is 
true, playfully talk of writing a fairy masque : 
what a charming and fanciful poem would this 
have been ! or she would linger for a moment 
on some historical sera or character, as if about 
to concentrate her powers round it and again, 
and yet again, return to her own heart, not 
merely for her subjects, but also their colouring. 
One legend which she took up, (I believe from 
the German,) she was compelled to abandon in 
consequence of the injurious influence its con- 
templation exercised upon a frame so fragile as 
hers. This was the tale of an enchantress, who, 
to win and secure the love of a mortal, sacrifices 



MRS. HEMANS. 5 

one of her supernatural gifts of power after an- 
other: her wand first, then her magic girdle, 
then the talismanic diadem she wears, last of 
all, her immortality. She is repaid by satiety^- 
neglect desertion. 

During these three years, in proportion as 
Mrs. Hemans' love for, and understanding of, 
music increased, she indulged herself in the fas- 
cinating occupation of song-writing. Among 
many other sets of songs,* some of which were 
set to music by her sister, the rest by different 
friends, the " Peninsular Melodies" should be 
mentioned. The work failed, because many of 
the airs selected were so thoroughly unvocal as 
to render the adaptation of characteristic words 
impossible : some of the Zorzicos (an old Moor- 
ish melody) are as rapid and as un tameable as 
the wildest bag-pipe tunes. The ease with 
which she wrote her songs amounted almost to 
the fluency of improvvisation. I remember being 

* Further allusion to these will be found in a sub- 
sequent series of letters. 



6 MEMORIALS OF 

present when some words were returned to her, 
as being unsuitable for the particular melody to 
which she wished them adapted. She sat down, 
and in a few moments, by the insertion of as many 
lines as the original had at first contained, gave 
the verses an entirely different and very peculiar 
rhythm and at once changed and completed 
the song without any verbiage being apparent in 
its language, or dislocation in its structure. 

I may now proceed with the extracts from 
her familiar correspondence. The latest among 
them, it will be seen, refer to the journey into 
Scotland undertaken by her in the summer of 
the year 1829. 

" My dear Sir, 

" Having to send a messenger into the town, 
I return you, with many thanks, the tale by 
' our esteemed friend,' William Howitt, which 
perhaps you may want. I think it possesses a 
good deal of originality, and I have read it with 
much interest. I could almost imagine he had 



MRS. HEMANS. 7 

been pourtraying some features of my early life 
in his heroine's, which could scarcely have been 
more unfettered. 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 oftener it seems to me as a sort of rainbow, 
made up of light and tears, yet still the pledge 
of happiness to come. How very beautiful are 
those letters of Lord Collingwood's to his 
family ! more touchingly so, I think, than even 
Reginald Heber's ; for 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 father-land. 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 a letter such as this !' I am ex- 
ceedingly obliged to you for making this delight- 



8 MEMORIALS OF 

ful book known to me. To be sure, his lordship 
does seem a little ' notional,' as the Americans 
call it, sometimes, on the subject of female edu- 
cation now does he not? geometry and the 
square-root O words of fear !' " . . . . 



My dear Sir, 

" You will scarcely yet, I suppose, be collect- 
ing your materials for the ; but as the 

enclosed piece has been some time destined for 
you, I may as well send it now. It was sug- 
gested by a relievo of Thorwaldsen's, which 
represents Night hushing a babe upon her bo- 
som.* I received a most pathetic appeal, a 

* The poem in question is the " Song of Night/' 
afterwards published among the " Songs of the Affec- 
tions." It is full of lofty imagery and striking con- 
trast ; and may perhaps be singled out as one of the 
best lyrics written by Mrs. Remans about this time. 



MRS. HEMANS. .9 

short time since, from , in behalf of a 

young lady, a friend of his, who had taken it 



A few stanzas may be cited in corroboration of this 
judgment. 



I come with every star; 

Making thy streams, that on their noon-day track, 
Give but the moss, the reed, the lily back, 

Mirrors of worlds afar. 



I come with mightier things ! 
Who calls me silent ? I have many tones 
The dark skies thrill with low mysterious moans 

Borne on my sweeping wings. 



I come with all my train : 

Who calls me lonely ? Hosts around me tread, 
The intensely bright, the beautiful, the dead, 

Phantoms of heart and brain ! 

# # * . * 

B 5 



10 MEMORIALS OF 

into her head to want some of my writing. I 
must transcribe some of his rhetoric for your 
admiration, and I am sure you will agree with 
me that it is enough ' to soften rocks i 1 Can 
you, dear madam, refuse this young, engaging 

girl, the daughter of , the pupil of , 

the friend of , the innocent gratification 

she thus timidly solicits?' No, to be sure I 
could not ; one must have had a heart of stone 
to resist such moving words, so away went the 
autograph." ...... 



I, that with soft control, 
Shut the dim violet, hush the woodland song, 
I am the avenging one ! the arm'd the strong, 

The searcher of the soul ! 

I that shower dewy light, 
Through slumbering leaves, bring storms I the tern- 

pest-birth 
Of memory, thought, remorse: Be holy, Earth! 

I am the solemn Night ! 



MRS. HEMANS. 11 

" Jan. 1829. 

..." 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 ex- 
treme 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 weakness, 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 enabled 
to obtain it." 



* " My dear , 

" I ought to have acknowledged both your 
kind notes ere now, and thanked you for the 



12 MEMORIALS OF 

copy of Moore's lines,* which are certainly 
more witty than elegant perhaps the very 
coarseness from which one cannot help rather 
shrinking, renders the satire the more appro- 
priate to its object. Do you remember that the 
other evening (which I assure you I enjoyed as 
much as you could have done) we were speak- 
ing of the pleasures of memory ; and I thought 
they resembled those shadowy images of flowers 
which the alchymists of old believed they had 
the power of raising from the ashes of the plant ? 
I send you a few lines f which that conversation 
suggested, and which, in consequence, will per- 
haps interest you. I do hope I shall be able to 

* The satirical verses upon Leigh Hunt's Personal 
Reminiscences of Lord Byron. 

t This was a lyric which appeared in one of the 
Annuals, beginning, 

'Twas a dream of olden days 

That art, with some strange power, 
A visionary form could raise 
From the ashes of a flower. 



MRS. HEMANS. 13 

come to you on Saturday evening. .... 
But, 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 hardly know why I should bestow my 
tediousness' upon you in this manner, only that 
I am just returned from a large party of 
strangers, in which feeling myself more alone 
than when alone, because there was no one who 
interested me in the least, I grew especially 
weary, duller than any pumpkin or 'fat weed' 
whatsoever, and exceedingly inclined to rush 
out of the room without any conge to host or 
guest. From this rash act, however, some 
sense of decorum restrained me, and so here I 
am, making amends to myself by pouring out 
my ennui upon your devoted head, which I will 
now spare any further infliction, as it is grow- 
ing late enough to carry one's disgusts qui- 



14 MEMORIALS OF 

etly to bed. Good night, therefore, and be- 
lieve me 

" Affectionately yours, 

F. H." 



. . . " I must also thank you for the very 
kind note which I received by little Henry : I 
was much better when it arrived. . . My 
complaint is indeed most pertinacious, if not 
hopeless, as I am assured, and indeed convinced, 
that it is caused by excitements, from which, 
unless I could win ' the wings of a dove and flee 
away' into a calmer atmosphere, there is no 
escape. I have therefore only to meet it as 
cheerily as I may and there is a buoyant spirit 
yet unconquered, though often sorely shaken, 
within me. 

" I trust I shall have the pleasure of seeing 
you here on the evening of the day which I 
have begged your sister to pass with me. Do 
you know that I have really succeeded in giving 






MRS. HEMANS. 15 

something of beauty to the suburban court of 
my dwelling by the aid of the laburnums and 
rhododendrons, which I planted myself, and 
which I want you to see while they are so 
amiably flowering. But how soon the feeling 
of home throws light and loveliness over the 
most uninteresting spot ! I am beginning to 
draw that feeling around me here, and conse- 
quently to be happier. 

" Did you ever see a letter with a symphony ? 
I call the enclosed, one of that class. After 
many and long wanderings, it reached me this 

morning with that awful Titanic poem the , 

the sight of which really renews all the terrors 
of c Charlemagne/ 

" May I request you to present to your 
sister, with all possible oracular solemnity, 
the accompanying inestimable collection of 
aphorisms, particularly recommending to her 
notice 'the short miscellaneous sentences al- 
phabetically digested, and easily to be retained 
in the memories of youth, 1 with which the work 



16 MEMORIALS OF 

closes. I shall expect her to have learned per- 
fectly the two first pages for repetition the next 

time we visit the 'happy valley/ tells 

me, that you wished for the lines to the Rhine 
song, a copy of which I have now the pleasure 
of sending you.* In explanation of their very 
pugnacious character, I must mention that they 
were written at the request of my eldest bro- 
ther, who wished them to commemorate the 
battles of his yoimg days. 

" Ever truly yours, 

F. H." 






" I thought there was something which I 
wished to show you the other evening, but, as 
usual, I did not remember it until you were 
gone, and therefore send it now. It was Lock- 
hart's description, in ' Peter's Letters,' of our 
cathedral, and also of the glorious Spanish 

* The "English Soldier's Song of Memory," published 
among the "National Lyrics and Songs for Music." 



MRS. HEMANS. 17 

churches, which his language arrays in such 
'religious light,' that I know you will enjoy the 
passage with your whole heart. I also send my 
copy of the 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 ob- 
scurity of female suffering on such stormy days 
of the lance and spear as the good Fray Agapida 
describes so vividly ? Has not Goethe beauti- 
fully developed the idea in the lines which I en- 
close ? they occur in Iphigenia's supplication to 
Thoas for her brother. 11 . 



"Dear , 

" I really should give you a lecture, if I did 
not know, from intimate conviction, how very 
useless a thing wisdom is in this world. But I 
wish you could keep down that feverish excite- 
ment, as it is so hurtful even to intellectual 
power, that I am convinced we have not more 



18 MEMORIALS OF 

than half command even of our imaginative 
faculties whilst under its influence. I want you 
to fix your heart and mind steadfastly on some 
point of excellence, and to go on pursuing it 
'soberly,' as Lady Grace says, and satisfying 
yourself with the deep consciousness that you 

are making way. I know this may be, dear , 

because it was my own case, with feelings ex- 
citable as you know mine are, and amidst all 
things that could most try and distract them. 
I send you a little collection of stories which I 
made about two years ago, and amongst which 
I think you might, perhaps, find some materiel. 
. . . I almost think I would recommend the 
Kunstroman, to be deferred till you know 
German. 

" Ever yours very sincerely, 

F. H." 



MRS. HEMANS. 19 

Dated from Seacombe.* 

* " I hope you have not staid in for me this 

morning, my dear , and I hope your brother 

did not wait long, as he had kindly promised to 
do, for my landing. I had fully intended to be 
with you a little after twelve, but neither steam- 
packet nor sail-boat was attainable : the whole 
Seacombe fleet was gone to convoy some vessels 
down the river. I crossed the water at last, 
between one and two, with some thoughts of 

proceeding to street; but the pier was 

crowded with shaggy Orson-looking men, and I, 
having only little Charles with me, really had 
not resolution to effect a landing. I must return 
home on Saturday, having much to arrange 
before my flight to Scotland, and I now write 
to ask if you could come over here to-morrow 
should the weather be fine, and pass the day 
with me ? There really are some pretty dells 
and bournes about here, though you would not 

* A suburban bathing-place on the Cheshire side of 
the Mersey. 



20 MEMORIALS OF 

imagine it, and I should very much enjoy a 
quiet walk with you, therefore if you can come, 
do let it be earlier than the last time. There 
will be an outpouring of spirit of Pumpkinism 
upon me the moment I get back, and I shall 
not have half the pleasure in seeing you there 
amidst the interruptions we generally have ; it 
is quite delightful to know that a river broad 
and deep is flowing between one's-self and the 

foe Will you give the enclosed to 

with my kind remembrance ? tell him he 

must not feel any ' compunctious visitings ' 
on receiving it, because I have reserved quite 
as much as I shall want, for a brooch in which I 
mean to wear it; I do not know any one 
who can value it more than he will, and I have 
no sort of pleasure in keeping a relic all to 
myself. 

" Were you not astonished to hear of the 
sudden spirit of enterprise which took posses- 
sion of me when I determined to visit Chiefs- 
wood ? I really begin to feel rather Mimosa-like 






MRS. HEMANS. 21 

when I contemplate the desperate undertaking 
a little more closely. How I do wish you were 
going with me !" 



The relic in question was a small lock of 
Lord Byron's hair ; the brooch which contained 
the portion reserved for herself was one of her 
favourite ornaments till the Memoirs of the 
poet appeared. An illustrative trait or two 
which have reference to these may be here 
introduced, though chronologically out of place. 
Some idea of the extraordinary power and 
clearness of her memory may be conveyed by 
the fact, that, after having heard those beautiful 
stanzas addressed to his sister by Lord Byron 
which afterwards appeared in print read aloud 
twice in manuscript, she repeated them to us, 
and even wrote them down with a surprising 
accuracy. On two lines, I recollect, she dwelt 
with particular emphasis, 



22 MEMORIALS OF 

" There are yet two things in my destiny, 
A world to roam o'er, and a home with thee." 

Her anxiety to see the memoirs was extreme, 
her disappointment at the extracts which ap- 
peared in the periodicals so great as to pre- 
vent her reading the work when published. 
" The book itself," says she, in one of her notes, 
" I do not mean to read ; I feel as if it would 
be like entering a tavern, and I shall not cross 
the threshold." She found the poet whom she 
had long admired at a distance invested with 
a Mephistopheles-like character which pained 
and startled her ; for the unworldly and imagi- 
native life she had led, rendered her slow to 
admit and unwilling to tolerate the strange 
mixture of cruel mockery and better feeling, 
which breathe through so many of his letters ; 
and the details of his continental wanderings 
shocked her fastidious sense as exceeding the 
widest limits within which one so passionate and 
so disdainful of law and usage might err and be 
forgiven. From this time forth she never wore 






MRS. HEMANS. 23 

the relic ; indeed, her shrinking from any thing 
like coarseness of thought, or feeling, or lan- 
guage, (which will be traced in the following 
note,) may by some be thought to trench upon 
affectation, whereas it was only the necessary con- 
sequence of her exclusive and unchecked devo- 
tion to the Beautiful. If any passage in one of 
her most favourite writers offended her delicacy, 
the leaf was torn out without remorse ; and every 
one familiar with her little library will have been 
stopped by many a pause and chasm, of which 
this is the explanation. 



My dear 



" Upon looking over the dramatic specimens 
which I had promised to send you, I was dis- 
tressed to find the titles of some of the plays so 
very coarse, though the scenes have been care- 
fully chosen, that I really did not like to for- 
ward you the book. If, however, you do not 
take alarm at 'the word of fear,' Lectures, I 
think you will find in the accompanying volume 



MEMORIALS OF 



of Hazlitt's a great deal that is interesting, and 
many selections from those olden poets which 
will give you an idea of their force and sweet- 
ness 'drawn from that well of English unde- 






MRS. HEMANS. 25 



CHAPTER II. 

Mrs. Hemans' visit to Scotland Her funereal poetry 
Her reception in Edinburgh Anecdotes Letters 
from Chiefs wood The Rhymour's Glen Walk 
with Sir Walter Scott The Rhine Song" Yarrow 
visited" Lines to Rizzio's picture Letter from 
Abbotsford Visit of the Due de Chartres Anec- 
dotes Letters from Edinburgh Moonlight walk 
Scotch pulpit eloquence Visit to Mackenzie 
Remarkable group of sculpture Letter from Mil- 
burn Tower. 

IT was early in the summer of 1829, that Mrs. 
Hemans, urged by numerous invitations, visited 
Scotland, accompanied by her two youngest 
sons. This was the first of the only two periods, 
during which she was received and distinguished 
VOL. ii. c 



26 MEMORIALS OF 

as a guest by those, personally strangers to 
her, whom the interest inspired by her works 
had made her friends. Mrs. Hemans' name, 
indeed, was singularly popular in Scotland; 
she had written some of her best poems for its 
principal literary periodical, Blackwood's Maga- 
zine ; she was already regarded as a friend in 
more than one noble house, from having been 
summoned in times of affliction to perform those 
melancholy, but soothing offices for the dead, 
which survivors could only entrust to one as 
genuine in feeling as she was delicate in ex- 
pression.* , 

* Mrs. Hemans' funereal poems are among her most 
impressive works: the music of her verse, through 
which an under-current of sadness may always be 
traced, was never more happily employed than in 
lamenting the beloved and early called, or in bidding 

" Hope to the world to look beyond the tombs." 

I need only mention a few lyrics, te The Farewell to 
the Dead," (in the Lays of Many Lands ;) " The 






MRS. HEMANS. 27 

The events and pleasures of this Scottish 
journey will be found pleasantly described in 
the following letters, which were written under 
the immediate impulse of the moment, and in 
the artlessness of perfect confidence. An 

Exile's Dirge," (in the Songs of the Affections ;) The 
Burial of an Emigrant's Child in the Forest," (in the 
" Scenes and Hymns of Life;") and the "Burial in 
the Desert," a noble poem, published among her 
poetical remains. The introduction of the two follow- 
ing stanzas of a more concise and monumental cha. 
racter, though they have already appeared in print, 
will not, I am sure, be objected to, as illustrating the 
above remark. 

INSCRIPTION FOR A TOMB. 

Earth ! guard what here we lay in holiest trust ; 

That which hath left our home a darkened place, 
Wanting the form, the smile now veiled with dust, 

The light departed with our loveliest face! 
Yet from thy bonds our sorrow's hope is free, 
We have but lent our beautiful to thee ! 

c2 



28 MEMORIALS OF 

anecdote or two may be added to bear out the 
occasional references to the honours and humours 
of lionism which they contain. Mrs. Hemans 
had scarcely arrived in Edinburgh, when her 
name being recognised at her hotel, a plentiful 
bouquet of flowers was brought into her room, 
nor could any welcome have been devised half 
so acceptable as this to one who used gaily to call 
one of the long graceful branches of the 
Convallaria (Solomon's seal) "her sceptre," and 
whose passion for flowers (the word is not too 
strong) increased with every year of her life.* 

But thou, O Heaven ! keep, keep what thou hast taken, 
And with our treasure keep our hearts on high ! 

The spirit weak, and yet by pain unshaken, 
The faith, the love, the lofty constancy.' 

Guide us where these are with our sister flown, 

They were of thee, and thou hast claimed thine own ! 



* " I really think that pure passion for flowers is 
the only one which long sickness leaves untouched 



MRS. HEMANS. 29 

She would tell too, with infinite humour, how 
she had been abruptly accosted in the castle 
garden by an unknown lady, who approached 
her " under the assurance of an internal sym- 
pathy that she must be Mrs. Hemans*" Ano- 
ther, whose own literary reputation was not 
inconsiderable, when introduced to her, fanci- 
fully asked, " whether a bat might be allowed 
to appear in the presence of a nightingale." 
An anecdote, too, has appeared in one of the 
Edinburgh Journals, which is worth recording. 
After a visit paid by Mrs. Hemans to the sanctum 
of a courtly bibliopole of the modern Athens, 
he was asked by some friend whether he had 

with its chilling influences. 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 renovated childhood, 
which seems to me one of the mysteries of our being." 
Mrs. Hemans to Mrs. Lawrence from Redesdale, near 
Dublin, 1833. 



39 MEMORIALS OF 

yet chanced to see the most distinguished 
English poetess of the day. " He made no 
answer," continues the narrator, "but taking 
me by the arm in solemn silence, led me into 
the back parlour, where stood a chair in the 
centre of the room, isolated from the rest of 
the furniture ; and, pointing to it, said, with the 
profoundest reverence, in a low earnest tone, 
6 There she sat, sir, on that chair.' " 

After a few days' stay in Edinburgh, Mrs. 
Hemans proceeded to Roxburghshire, whence 
the following letters are dated. It is hardly neces- 
sary to say that Chiefswood, the residence of the 
accomplished author of Cyril Thornton, with 
whom she had long maintained a correspon- 
dence, is in the immediate neighbourhood of 
Melrose and Abbotsford. 

" Chiefswood, July 13. 

* "How I wish you were within reach of a 
post, like our most meritorious Saturday's Mes- 
senger, my dear Amidst all these new 



MRS. HEMANS. 31 

scenes and new people I want so much to talk 
to you all ! At present I can only talk of Sir 
Walter Scott, with whom I have been just 
taking a long, delightful walk through the 
' Rhymour's Glen." 1 I came home, to be sure, 
in rather a disastrous state after my adventure, 
and was greeted by my maid, with that most 
disconsolate visage of hers, which invariably 
moves my hard heart to laughter ; for I had got 
wet above my ancles in the haunted burn, torn 
my gown in making my way through thickets 
of wild roses, stained my gloves with wood- 
strawberries, and even direst misfortune of all ! 
scratched my face with a rowan branch. But 
what of all this ? Had I not been walking 
with Sir Walter Scott, and listening to tales of 
elves and bogles and brownies, and hearing 
him recite some of the Spanish ballads till they 
4 stirred the heart like the sound of a trumpet ?' 
I must reserve many of these things to tell you 
when we meet, but one very important trait, 
(since it proves a sympathy between the Great 



32 MEMORIALS OF 

Unknown and myself,) I cannot possibly defer to 
that period, but must record it now. You will 
expect something peculiarly impressive, I have 
no doubt. Well we had reached a rustic seat 
in the wood, and were to rest there, but I, out 
of pure perverseness, chose to establish myself 
comfortably on a grass bank. ' Would it not 
be more prudent for you, Mrs. Hemans,' said 
Sir Walter, ' to take the seat ?' 'I have no 
doubt that it would, Sir Walter, but, somehow 
or other, I always prefer the grass/ And so 
do I,' replied the dear old gentleman, coming 
to sit there beside me, 'and I really believe 
that I do it chiefly out of a wicked wilfulness, 
because all my good advisers say that it will 
give me the rheumatism. ' Now was it not 
delightful ? I mean for the future to take 
exactly my own way in all matters of this kind, 
and to say that Sir Walter Scott particularly 
recommended me to do so. I was rather agree- 
ably surprised by his appearance, after all I had 
heard of its homeliness ; the predominant ex- 



MRS. HEMANS. 33 

pression of countenance, is, I think, a sort of 
arch good-nature, conveying a mingled impres- 
sion of penetration and benevolence. The 
portrait in the last year's Literary Souvenir is an 
excellent likeness 



" Chiefs wood, July 13th. 

" Will you not be alarmed at the sight of 
another portentous-looking letter, and that so 
soon again ? But I have passed so happy a 
morning in exploring the ' Rhymour's Glen ' 
with Sir Walter Scott, that, following my first im- 
pulse on returning, I must communicate to you 
the impression of its pleasant hours, in full con- 
fidence that while they are yet fresh upon my 
mind, I shall thus impart to you something of my 
own enjoyment. Was it not delightful to ramble 
through the fairy ground of the hills, with the 
6 mighty master ' himself for a guide, up wild 
and rocky paths, over rude bridge, and 
along bright windings of the little haunted 

c5 



34 MEMORIALS OF 

stream, which fills the whole ravine with its 
voice ? I wished for you so often ! There was 
only an old countryman with us, upon whom Sir 
Walter is obliged to lean for support in such 
wild walks, so I had his conversation for several 
hours quite to myself, and it was in perfect har- 
mony with the spirit of the deep and lonely 
scene ; for he told me old legends, and repeated 
snatches of mountain ballads, and showed me 
the spot where Thomas of Ercildoune 

' Was aware of a lady fair, 
Came riding down the glen/ 

which lady was no other than the fairy queen, 
who bore him away to her own mysterious land. 
We talked too of signs and omens, and strange 
sounds in the wind, and ' all things wonderful 
and wild ;', and he described to me some gloomy 
cavern scenes which he had explored on the 
northern coast of Scotland, and mentioned his 
having heard the deep foreboding murmur of 



MRS. HEMANS. 35 

storms in the air, on those lonely shores, for 
hours and hours before the actual bursting of 
the tempest. We stopped in one spot which I 
particularly admired ; the stream fell there down 
a steep bank into a little rocky basin overhung 
with mountain ash, and Sir Walter Scott de- 
sired the old peasant to make a seat there, kindly- 
saying to me, c I like to associate the names of 
my friends and those who interest me, with na- 
tural objects and favourite scenes, and this shall 
be called Mrs. Hemans' seat.' But how I 
wished you could have heard him describe a 
glorious sight which had been witnessed by a 
friend of his, the crossing the Rhine at Ehren- 
breistein, by the German army of Liberators on 
their return from victory. ; At the first gleam of 
the river,' he said, they all burst forth into the 
national chaunt 6 Am Rhein, am Rhein f They 
were two days passing over, and the rocks and 
the castle were ringing to the song the whole 
time, for each band renewed it while crossing, 
and the Cossacks with the clash and the clang, 



36 MEMORIALS OF 

and the roll of their stormy war-music, catching 
the enthusiasm of the scene, swelled forth the 
chorus ' Am Rhein, am Rhein /' I shall never 
forget the words, nor the look, nor the tone, 
with which he related this ;* it came upon me 
suddenly, too, like that noble burst of warlike 
melody from the Edinburgh Castle rock, and I 
could not help answering it in his own words, 

1 'Twere worth ten years of peaceful life, 
One glance at their array/ 

" I was surprised when I returned to Chiefs- 
wood to think that I had been conversing so 

* Upon this anecdote Mrs. Hemans after wards based 
one of the most spirited of her national lyrics, " The 
Rhine Song of the German Soldiers after Victory." 
The effect of this when sung with a single voice and 
chorus, is most stately and exciting. The air had never 
before been mated with suitable words ; the German 
Trink-lied, (drinking song,) which belongs to it in the 
original, falls far behind the music, which is high-toned 
and spirited. 






MRS. HEMANS. 37 

freely and fearlessly with Sir Walter Scott, as 
with a friend of many days, and this at our first 
interview too ! for he is only just returned to 
Abbotsford and came to call upon me this morn- 
ing, when the cordial greeting he gave me to 
Scotland, made me at once feel a sunny influ- 
ence in his society I am going to 

dine at Abbotsford to-morrow how you would 
delight in the rich baronial-looking hall there, 
with the deep-toned coloured light, brooding 
upon arms and armorial bearings, and the fretted 
roof imitating the faery sculpture of Melrose 
in its flower-like carvings ! Rizzio's beautiful 
countenance has not yet taken its calm clear 
eyes from my imagination ; the remembrance 
has given rise to some lines, which I will send 
you when I write next. There is a sad fearful 
picture of Queen Mary in the Abbotsford dining- 
room. But I will release you from further de- 
scription for this time, and say farewell. 
" Ever faithfully yours, 

F. H." 



38 MEMORIALS OF 

" I really have been careless in not saying to 
you anything on the subject of my health . . 
. . . but besides that I fear I must plead 
guilty to never thinking about the matter when 
I wrote to you, I could not have said any thing 
then which would have given you much pleasure, 
as I suffered much for several days after my ar- 
rival here from those strange attacks of sudden 
palpitation of the heart. They have, however, 
been much less frequent during the last week : 
but how is it possible for such an aspen-leaf as 
myself, constantly trembling to the rush of some 
quick feeling, ever to be well? I sometimes 
enjoy a buoyancy both of frame and spirit, 
which, though fitful, is the utmost I can ever 
hope. .... Thanks for your kind re- 
ception of my little sketch the brother or sister 
of which in my present packet hopes for as 
cordial a greeting I find I have not left myself 
room to send you the lines upon Rizzio, but I 
feel so instantaneous an impulse to communicate 



MRS. HEMANS. 39 

to you whatever interests me, that I know I shall 
write from Abbotsford, and I will send them then. 
You are quite right ; it was the description of 
that noble Rhine scene which interested me 
more than any part of Sir Walter's conversation, 
and I wished more that you could have heard 
it, than all the high legends and solemn scenes 
of which we spoke that day." .... 



" Chiefswood, July 20th. 

" Whether I shall return to you all ' brighter 
and happier,' as your letter so kindly prophecies, 
I know not : but I think there is every prospect 
of my returning more fitful and wilful than ever ; 
for here I am leading my own free native life of 
the hills again, and if I could but bring some of 
my friends, as the old ballads says, ( near, near, 
near me,' I should indeed enjoy it; but that 
strange solitary feeling which I cannot chase 
away, comes over me too often like a dark sudden 



40 MEMORIALS OF 

shadow, bringing with it an utter indifference 
to all things around. I lose it most frequently, 
however, in the excitement of Sir Walter Scott's 
society. And with him I am now in constant 
intercourse, taking long walks over moor and 
woodland, and listening to song and legend of 
other times, until my mind quite forgets itself, 
and is carried wholly back to the days of the 
Slogan and the fiery cross, and the wild gather- 
ings of border chivalry. I cannot say enough 
of his cordial kindness to me ; it makes me feel 
when at Abbotsford, as if the stately rooms of 
the proud ancestral -looking place, were old 
familiar scenes to me. Yesterday he made a 
party to show me the ' pleasant banks of Yar- 
row,' about ten miles from hence : I went with 
him in an open carriage, and the day was lovely, 
smiling upon us with a real blue sunny sky, and 
we passed through I know not how many storied 
spots, and the spirit of the master-mind seemed 
to call up sudden pictures from every knoll and 
cairn as we went by so vivid were his descrip- 



MRS. HEMANS. 41 

tions of the things that had been. The names 
of some of those scenes had, to be sure, rather 
savage sounds ; such as ' Slain Man's Lea] 
' Dead Man's Pool," &c., &c. ; but I do not 
know whether these strange titles did not throw 
a deeper interest over woods and waters now so 
brightly peaceful. We passed one meadow on 
which Sir Walter's grandfather had been killed 
in a duel ;* fi had it been a century earlier,' 
said he, ' a bloody feud would have been trans- 
mitted to me, as Spaniards bequeath a game of 
chess to be finished by their children/ And I 
do think, that had he lived in those earlier days, 
no man would have more enjoyed what Sir 
Lucius CTTrigger is pleased to call 'a pretty 
quarrel ,-' the whole expression of his benevo- 
lent countenance changes if he has but to speak 
of the dirk or the claymore : you see the spirit 

* A notice appeared in one of the periodicals of 1835, 
alluding to this letter, which was published in the 
Athenaeum, for the purpose of correcting this state- 
ment. I regret that, after much search, I have not 
been able to find it. 



42 MEMORIALS OF 

that would e say amidst the trumpets, ha ! ha !' 
suddenly flashing from his gray eyes, and some- 
times, in repeating a verse of warlike min- 
strelsy, he will spring up as if he sought the 
sound of a distant gathering cry. But I am for- 
getting beautiful Yarrow, along the banks of 
which we walked through the Duke of Buc- 
cleugh's grounds, under old rich patrician trees; 
and at every turn of our path, the mountain 
stream seemed to assume a new character, some- 
times lying under steep banks in dark trans- 
parence, sometimes 

c crested with tawny foam, 
Like the mane of a chestnut steed.' 

And there was Sir Walter beside me, repeating, 
with a tone of feeling as deep as if then only first 
wakened 

' They sought him east, they sought him west, 
They sought him far with wail and sorrow ; 

There was nothing seen but the coming night, 
And nothing heard but the roar of Yarrow.' 



MRS. HEMANS. 43 

It was all like a dream. Do you remember 
Wordsworth's beautiful poem ' Yarrow visited ?' 
I was ready to exclaim, in its opening words 
6 And is this Yarrow ?' There was nothing to 
disturb the deep and often solemn loveliness of 
the scenery : no rose-coloured spencers such as 
persecuted the unhappy Count Forbin amidst 
the pyramids Mr. Hamilton, and Mrs. Lock- 
hart, and the boys, who followed us, were our 
whole party; and the sight of shepherds, real, 
not Arcadian shepherds, sleeping under their 
plaids to shelter from the noon-day, carried me 
at once into the heart of a pastoral and mountain 
country. We visited Newark tower, where, 
amongst other objects that awakened many 
thoughts, I found the name of Mungo Park, 
(who was a native of the Yarrow vale,) which he 
had inscribed himself, shortly before leaving his 
own bright river never to return. We came 
back to Abbotsford, where we were to pass the 
remainder of the day, partly along the Ettrick, 
and partly through the Tweed ; on the way, we 



44 MEMORIALS OF 

were talking of trees, in his love for which, Sir 
Walter is a perfect Evelyn. I mentioned to him 
what I once spoke of to you, the different sounds 
they give forth to the wind,* which he had ob- 

* . . . ' The arrowy spire 

Of the lone cypress as of wood-girt fane, 
Rests dark and still amid a heaven of fire. 
The pine gives forth its odours, and the lake 
Gleams like one ruby, and the soft winds wake, 
Till every string of Nature's solemn lyre 
Is touched to answer ; its most secret tone 
Drawn from each tree, for each hath whispers all its 
own.' 

Forest Sanctuary, Canto ii. verse 72. 

Many other happy and distinctive allusions to the 
sounds of the trees will be remembered by every one 
who is familiar with Mrs. Hemans' works. She was, 
indeed, peculiarly sensitive to the significance of natural 
sound. " If I were an enchantress," says she, in one of 
her letters, " I would certainly put a spell and a voice 
in all the trees, and streams, and flowers, and make 
them say the prettiest things imaginable about me to 
those in whom I am interested." 



MRS. HEMANS. 45 

served, and he asked me if I did not think that 
an union of music and poetry, varying in mea- 
sure and expression, might in some degree imi- 
tate or represent those ' voices of the trees ;"* and 
he described to me some highland music of a 
similar imitative character, called the ( notes of 
the sea-birds * barbaric notes truly they must 
be ! In the evening we had a good deal of 
music : he is particularly fond of national airs, 
and I played him many, for which I wish you 
had heard how kindly and gracefully he thanked 
me. But, O ! the bright swords ! 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 gal- 
lant blades to show me ; one which had fought 
at Killicrankie, 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 



46 MEMORIALS OF 

block of steel in Saladin's tent. What a number 
of things I have yet to tell you ! I feel sure that 
my greatest pleasure from all these new ob- 
jects of interest will arise from talking them over 
with you when I return. I hope you have re- 
ceived my letter with an account of the ' Rhy- 
mour's Glen,' and the little drawing of Chiefs- 
wood, for which I now send you a pendant in 
one of Abbotsford, which is, at least, recom- 
mended by its fidelity Pray do not 

let me be forgotten amongst you while I am far 
away. I have always the strangest fear of being 
forgotten. 

" Ever faithfully yours, 

F. H." 



* " Thanks, many thanks, my dear - , 
for your kind and welcome letter. You do 
not know how much I am cheered always by 
the sight of a packet from - - street. . . . 
But away with all these ominous thoughts, for 



MRS. HEMANS. 47 

the sun yes, indeed, in spite of all your bro- 
ther's southron sauciness a real Scottish sun is 
shining cheerily, and the little burn glancing 
brightly past and, better than all I think Sir 
Walter will be here this morning, and then I 
shall go and walk with him through the Rhy- 
mour's Glen, or the ' Hexel's Cleuch,' (which 
means, as he tells me, the Witch's Dell,) or by 
some of his own woods, which he so loves and 
delights in. I am going to Abbotsford for some 
days on Saturday, and expect to carry away 
many delightful recollections and tales to tell by 

the fireside when I return to you all 

How I wish I could give you some idea of 

whom I have heard preach how he dives, with 
an actual bodily diving, down into the abysses of 
his sermon, to fish up an argument ; and how 
he nails the argument, with a resolute Jael-like 
gesture to the pulpit, when fairly caught and 
how he complimenteth me, after a most solemn 
and delectable fashion. . . . All this must be 
matter for the discussion of future evening hours. 



48 MEMORIALS OF 

Nathless, let me not forget to tell you now, lest, 
peradventure, it should escape me, how, in dis- 
coursing upon the various excellencies of that 
somewhat overrated insect, the ant, he exhorted 
his hearers to look upon ' thatgifted individual,' 
and take pattern by her virtues. . . . 

" I am afraid I must give up the idea of as- 
cending the Eildon Hill, though I have really 
felt better within the last ten days ; those violent 
breathings of the heart have been much less fre- 
quent ; but I have ominous warnings of them 
whenever I over-exert myself. I have written 
your brother a long account of a day I passed 
on the banks of lovely Yarrrow. I hope he 
has received it long ere this. Now farewell for 
the present in the house I cannot remain one 
moment longer, 

" Ever your very affectionate 
F. H." 






MRS. HEMANS. 49 

TO A REMEMBERED PICTURE.* 

They haunt me still those cairn, pure, holy eyes ! 

Their piercing sweetness wanders thro' 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 ! 

Could it oh ! could it be meek child of song ? 

The might of gentleness on that fair brow 
Was the celestial gift no shield from wrong ? 

Bore it no talisman to ward the blow ? 
Ask if a flower, upon the billows cast, 
Might brave their strife a flute-note hush the blast ? 

Are there not deep sad oracles to read 
In the clear stillness of that radiant face ? 

Yes, ev'n like thee must gifted spirits bleed, 

Thrown on a world, for heavenly things no place ! 

Bright exiled birds that visit alien skies, 

Pouring on storms their suppliant melodies. 

* I have departed from my original plan in quoting 
one of Mrs. Hemans' poems entire : it was necessary, 
in the present instance, for the clear understanding of 
the following letter. 

VOL. II. D 



50 MEMORIALS OF 

And seeking ever some true, gentle breast, 

Whereon their trembling plumage might repose, 

And their free song-notes, from that happy nest, 
Gush as a fount that forth from sunlight flows ; 

Vain dream ! the love whose precious balms might 
save 

Still, still denied : they struggle to the grave. 

Yet my heart shall not sink ! another doom, 
Victim ! hath set its promise in thine eye ; 

A light is there, too quenchless for the tomb, 
Bright earnest of a nobler destiny. 

Telling of answers, in some far-off sphere, 

To the deep souls that find no echo here. 

" Abbotsford, 26. 

" I helieve I have embodied in these lines my 
idea, not only of Rizzio's fate, but of Mary's : 
you, I recollect, thought the latter rather an 
imaginary view, and it may well be ; for I have 
so often found a kind of relief in throwing the 
colouring of my own feelings over the destiny of 
historical characters, that it has almost become 



MRS. HEMANS. 51 

a habit of my mind But how can I go 

on thus, speaking of myself, here in this faery 
realm of Abbotsford ? with so many relics of 
the chivalrous past around me, and the presiding 
spirit which has gathered them together still 
shedding out its own brightness over all ! I 
have now had the gratification of seeing him in 
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 by 
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? I must say a few 
words of the Due, who is a very elegant young 
man, possessing a finished and really noble grace 
of manner, which conveys at once the idea of 
Sir Philip Sidney's high thoughts seated in a 
heart of courtesy,' and which one likes to con- 
sider as an appanage of royal blood. I was a 

D 2 



52 MEMORIALS OF 

little nervous when Sir Walter handed me to 
the piano, on which I was the sole performer, 
for the delectation of the courtly party. Son 
Altesse Royale made a most exemplary listener ; 
hut my discovery that he was pleased to con- 
sider one of Count Oginski's polonaises as a 
variation upon that beautiful slow movement of 
Hummers which you copied for me, and which 
is one of my especial favourites, very much 
neutralized the effect which his 'paroles d'or et 
de soie' might otherwise have had upon my 
dazzled intellect. To-day, Lord is ex- 
pected, with his eldest son, here called the 

e Master of .' How completely that title 

brings back Ravenswood and Lucy Ashton to 
one's imagination ! If the { Master ' have not 
something of the stately Edgar about him, I 

shall be rather disappointed I am 

so glad you are going on so diligently with 
Spanish, and anticipate so much pleasure from 
your further acquaintance with the beautiful 
Letrillas and romances I have collected myself. 



MRS. HEMANS. 53 

I have never had any companion in my Spanish 
studies, or any person who has taken the least 
interest in them before, so that you will be the 
only friend associated with them in my recollec- 
tion. I suppose these Abbotsford pens are all 
spoiled by the Waverley novels. I am really ' a 
woman to be pitied ' for the one with which I 
write, and your lot in reading will not be much 
more enviable." 



Mrs. Hemans returned from Abbotsford filled 
with grateful recollections of the kindness she 
had received within its walls, and of her inter- 
course with its master as frank and simple- 
hearted as he was richly-gifted beyond the rest 
of his race. Some of his antiquarian treasures 
took a strong hold of her imagination ; in parti- 
cular, that picture of Mary Stuart which was 
painted after her execution ; nor had she dwelt 
so long within the magician's precincts without 
having gathered up some of his legends. I re- 



54 MEMORIALS OF 

member her repeating, with great effect, the 
tradition of the Wild Huntsman being heard 
in the streets of Valenciennes shortly before the 
battle of Waterloo, which he had told her. Her 
mind was thoroughly awakened and kindled by 
this visit, to which she referred as one of the 
brightest passages of her life. She might well 
say, in one of her letters, " I shall bring with 
me many bright recollections from Scotland, 
and hope they will be the means of adding en- 
joyment to your fireside also." 

Little more remains to be told of Mrs. Hemans' 
sojourn at Abbotsford. To one of her sons, 
however, who was her companion in this inte- 
resting visit, I am indebted for an anecdote or 
two, which complete the picture. " She used to 
spend the mornings chiefly in taking long walks 
or drives with Sir Walter ; in the evenings she 
used to play to him,* principally her sister's 

* " I have marked all the music in my book which 
Sir Walter particularly enjoys; the ' Rhine Song' is 



MRS. HEMANS. 55 

music, and sometimes sing (for at an earlier 
age, when her health was strong, she had pos- 
sessed a very good voice) and I remember his 
saying to her, on one of these occasions, ' One 
would say you had too many accomplishments, 
Mrs. Hemans, were they not all made to give 
pleasure to those around you !' He was affected 
to tears by her reading aloud a little French 
poem, describing the sufferings of the Bourbons 
in the Conciergerie, and begged her to discon- 
tinue .... I never heard Sir Walter 
make any allusion to his own fame, except on 
one occasion when we visited Newark Tower, 
and, on seing two tourists make a precipitate 
retreat at our approach, he said, smiling, < Ah, 
Mrs. Hemans, they little know what two lions 
they're running away from !' " 

Further letters of the same series contain 



one of his very great favourites, and a f Cancionella 
Espanola' another: and of the ' Captive Knight' he is 
never weary." From a letter. 



56 MEMORIALS OF 

accounts of Mrs. Hemans' visits to Hawthorn- 
den, Roslin, and other equally celebrated scenes 
of Scottish song and story. After she left Ab- 
botsford, she paid several visits to noble houses, 
and I regret much that I have been unable to 
find a letter, one of her liveliest, written from 
Hopetoun House, in which was described, with 
inimitable grace and liveliness, an adventure in 
a haunted chamber belonging to that mansion 
a tapestried chamber, too : how she had retired 
to her pillow, conjuring up a thousand weird 
and shadowy images, till she became almost 
afraid of the phantoms of her own imagination ; 
and when she looked round the room, started at 
the fantastic figures on the walls : how, in the 
true heroine style, she must needs rise and exa- 
mine these by the light of her taper ; when lo ! 
instead of prince or paladin or bearded magician 
with fatal eyes, the object of her fear proved a 
Jemmy Jessamy shepherd, tranquilly plucking 
cherries in a tree, for the benefit of some equally 
Arcadian Silvi or Corisca below. 



MRS. HEMANS. 57 

The three letters which follow were written 
upon her return to Edinburgh. 

" Albyn Place, Edinburgh, August 21st. 
" I hope you have not felt anxious on account 
of my silence, which, indeed, has been unusually 
long ; but for several days after I last wrote, I 
was so languid, from over-fatigue, that I could 
only 'think to you,' as I always do when any 
thing interests me. I am now better again, hav- 
ing been allowed a little more repose, and find- 
ing myself much more protected in Lady 's 

house (where I have passed the last fortnight) 
from the inconveniences of celebrity, which, to 
me, are often painfully oppressive. I cannot 
tell you how very welcome your letters are to 
me; how much they always seem to bring me 
back of pure and home-feeling 'the cup of 
water,' for which my spirit pines in the midst of 
excitement and adulation, and to which I turn 
from all else that is offered me, as I would to a 
place of shelter from the noon- day. , . I 

D 5 



58 MEMORIALS OF 

have lost the Castle now, and its martial music, 
being removed to a much less inspiring part of 
the town ; but 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 con- 
trast to the fair pillars of the Hill, which looked 
more pure and aerial than ever as they rose 
against the moonlight sky. fi Mais quils se pas- 
sent des orages dufond 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 strange- 
ness and loneliness came suddenly over me, sur- 
rounded as I was, amidst all this dusky magni- 
ficence, 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 unaccountable emotion. Had I possessed 
any power of * gramarye? you would certainly 



MRS. HEMANS. 59 

have found yourself all of a sudden transported 
through the air. I am sure you would have en- 
joyed the scene, with all its bold outlines, 

gleaming lights, and massy shadows 

Since I last wrote to you, I have been hearing 
preach, and am almost ashamed to tell 
you of the sense of disappointment I brought 
away with me. I really went prepared to yield 
up my whole spirit to the powers of his genius 
but, alas, for my fastidious taste ! With 
every disposition, with indeed the most anxious 
desire to be wholly subdued, I could not over- 
come the effect of his most untuneful voice, 
plebeian aspect, and dialect, illustrating Shak- 
speare's idea of having been at a feast of lan- 
guages and brought away the scraps,' the 
scraps of all that you can imagine most coarse 
and repelling. I was really angry with myself 
to find that the preacher's evidently deep con- 
viction, and unquestioned powers of thought, 
could never quell within me that provoking 
sense of the ludicrous which this 'scrannel- 



60 MEMORIALS OF 

pipe ' of a voice and barbaric accent perpetually 
excited. I have just returned with much more 
pleasing impressions from visiting a fine collec- 
tion of pictures, in which a Magdalen of Guide's, 
with the fervent expression of the up-raised eye, 
and the desolate flow of the long hair, particu- 
larly struck me, and brought to recollection 
some passages of our favourite Correggio.' I 
hope I shall have an interesting visit to describe 
to you when I write again, as Mr. Mackenzie, 
' the Man of Feeling,' who is now very old and 
infirm, has sent to beg I would come and see 
him." 



" I have just returned from paying the visit 
I mentioned, to old Mr. Mackenzie, and have 
been exceedingly interested. He is now very 
infirm, and his powers of mind are often much 
affected by the fitfulness of nervous indisposi- 
tion; so that his daughter, who introduced me 
to his sitting-room, said very mournfully as we 



MRS. HEMANS. 



61 



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, 

' 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 
furrowed countenance seemed kindling with re- 
collections 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 carried back at least 
a century. 

" c Ah T said he, half playfully, half sadly, 
' there were men in Scotland then !' I could not 
help thinking of the story of ; Ogier the Dane,' 
do you recollect his grasping the iron crow of 



62 MEMORIALS OF 

the peasant who broke into his sepulchre and 
exclaiming, 4 It is well ! there are men in Den- 
mark still.' Poor Miss Mackenzie was so 
much affected by the sudden and almost unex- 
pected awakening of her father's mind, that on 
leaving the room with me, she burst into tears, 
and was some time before she could conquer 
her strong emotion. I hope to have another 
interview with this delightful old man before I 
leave Edinburgh." 



" 8, Albyn Place, Edinburgh, August 26'th, 1829. 
... "I have now quite given up the idea of 
returning home by the lakes, as the weather is so 
very unpromising, and I do not feel myself equal 
to the fatigue of so much travelling by coaches. 
.... Since 1 last wrote I have become ac- 
quainted with Mr. , with whose works 

you are probably familiar, and have heard him 



MRS. HEMANS. 63 

preach ; the general impression was a very de- 
lightful one, the more so, perhaps, as my fasti- 
dious taste had been so much disturbed by 

, that it really was glad to repose upon 

Mr. 's venerable countenance, graceful 

manner, and gentle earnestness of voice ; there 
is something of classic elegance about him forming 
as strong a contrast to the harsher style of the 
Scotch kirk as a Doric temple would to the 
grim bleakness of a Methodist chapel. There 
is a tone of refinement in his conversation which 
quite answers the expectations awakened by his 
manner in the pulpit; indeed, his 'courtly grace' 
is rather against him here ; for my part, I must 
own I found its effect very ' comfortable? I 
wished for you yesterday when 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 excit- 
ing much interest here. Its effect, standing as 
it does quite alone in the midst of a large hall 



64 MEMORIALS OF 

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. The 
men of hats and great coats who were standing 
round it looked so mean and insignificant, that I 
quite longed to blow them away, and to surround 
the heroic vision with a stately solitude. I al- 
ways forgot to send an inscription which I co- 
pied for you from a silver urn at Abbotsford 
sent by Lord Byron to Sir Walter Scott. I 
though it might interest you, and enclose it 
now." 



In the next letter of the series, Mrs. Hemans 
alludes to the bust executed by Mr. Angus 
Fletcher, whilst she was on a visit to her friend 
Sir Robert Listen, which, as a graceful and faith- 
ful work of art, deserves an especial mention, 
no less than for its being the only model taken 



MRS. HEMANS. 65 

of her features. Few celebrated authors, indeed, 
have caused so little spoliation of canvass or 
marble as Mrs. Hemans. She never sat for 
her picture willingly, and the play of her fea- 
tures was so quick and changeful, as to render 
the artist's task difficult almost to impossibility. 



" Milburn Tower. 
" Instead of requiring you to be ' made of 

apologies/ dear cousin < I really think 

you are too kind in writing to me again after 
leaving your former letter so long unanswered. 
I am very glad you are returned home, as I 
look for much delight from meeting you all to- 
gether once more after my wanderings. I be- 
gan to think some little time since that I really 
never should disentangle myself from the ' wily 
Scotchmen.' After many struggles, however, I have 
at last extricated myself, and hope to be with you 
ail again in the course of a very few days; and if 
it were not for the thoughts of returning to friends 



66 MEMORIALS OF 

so kind and dear, I might well regret leaving the 
land where I have been so warmly welcomed. 
Will you give my kind love to your sister, with 
thanks for her interesting letter, and tell her 
that sitting for a bust, 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 per- 
formance of much talent : it is so very graceful 
that I cannot but accuse the artist of flattery, the 
only fault he has given me any reason to find. 
I am glad to think that you will probably see it, 
as Mr. Fletcher talks of exhibiting it in Liver- 
pool. I should like to have witnessed your ex- 
ploits but, believe me, cou- 
sin, they are nothing to what I have achieved in 
the 6 north countrie' with my mazourkas, and po- 
lonoises, and another waltz which my good old 

host, Sir is pleased to call one of my 

'wildnesses,' and which have actually won from 



MRS. HEMANS. 67 

a grave clergyman of the Scottish kirk a sonnet, 
yes, a veritable sonnet inspired, as he de- 
clares, by my ' flying fingers' soft control/ With 

this, and the admiration of to boot, it is 

not marvellous that my head retains any sort of 
equilibrium ? Treat me with due reverence, Sir 
and my cousin, when next we meet, that I may 
be let down to the familiarities of ordinary life 
by gentle degrees. Your visits to Boscobel and 
Hodnet must have been delightful the latter 
especially ; I admire your resolute spirit of faith : 
for my part, so determined is mine, that if I 
went to Rushin Castle, I should certainly look 
for the giant, said to be chained and slumbering 
in the dark vaults of that pile. Well, mon 
cousin, we shall meet so soon, that it is now 
scarcely worth while to talk over one's adventures 
in writing ; besides, I feel myself in a state of 
dulness, having been obliged to entertain a party 
of leeches to my head last night, who seem to 
have drawn therefrom whatever brilliance it 



68 



MEMORIALS OF 



might have contained. I will therefore only add 
Charles and Henry's love to my own, and beg 
you to believe me, 

" Ever most truly yours, 

" F. H." 



MRS. HEMANS. 69 



CHAPTER III. 

The " Songs of the Affections" Extract from familiar 
correspondence Haunted Hamlet near Melrose 
" Rhine Song" Lewis's "Tales of Terror" Dr. 
Channing Ballad on the Death of Aliatar New 
Year's wishes" The Fall of Nineveh"" A Spirit's 
Return" Analysis of characterThe Rev. Edward 
Irving De Lamartine's Poems Mr. Roscoe Per- 
golesi's *' Stabat Mater" New songs by Moore and 
Bishop Manzoni's "Cinque Maggio" Godwin's 
" Cloudesley" Projected journey to the Lakes- 
Dramatic Scene New volume of Poems. 

IT was towards the close of the year 1829, that 
Mrs. Hemans began to contemplate the pub- 
lication of a new volume of poems. She had 



70 MEMORIALS OF 



t 



already made some preparation for this by con- 
tributing a series of lyrics under the title of 
" Songs of the Affections" to Blackwood's Ma- 
gazine; together with the long ballad, " The 
Lady of Provence," which, for the glowing 
pictures it contains, the lofty yet tender affection 
to which it is consecrated, and the striking but 
never uncouth changes of its versification, must 
be considered as one of its author's finest cM- 
valresque poems. She had still, however, to 
produce some work of greater importance than 
these, suitable for the commencement of a 
volume. The subject at length fixed upon by 
her, as peculiar as it was almost dangerously 
fascinating, was suggested by a fire-side conver- 
sation. It had long been a favourite amusement 
to wind up our evenings by telling ghost stories. 
One night, however, the store of thrilling nar- 
ratives was exhausted, and we began to talk of 
the feelings with which the presence and the 
speech of a visitant from another world (if, in- 
deed, a spirit could return,) would be most 



MRS. HEMANS. 71 

likely to impress the person so visited. After 
having exhausted all the common varieties of 
fear and terror in our speculations, Mrs. Hemans 
said that she thought the predominant sensa- 
tions at the time must at once partake of awe 
and rapture, and resemble the feelings of those 
who listen to a revelation, and at the same mo- 
ment know themselves to be favoured above all 
men, and humbled before a being no longer 
sharing their own cares or passions ; but that 
the person so visited must thenceforward and for 
ever be inevitably separated from this world and 
its concerns : for the soul which had once enjoyed 
such a strange and spiritual communion, which 
had been permitted to look, though but for a mo- 
ment, beyond the mysterious gates of death, must 
be raised, by its experience, too high for common 
grief again to perplex, or common joy to enliven. 
She spoke long and eloquently upon this sub- 
ject, and I have reason to believe that this con- 
versation settled her wandering fancy, and gave 



72 MEMORIALS OF 

rise to the principal poem in her next volume. 
Of her smaller occupations and cares during the 
autumn and winter, the following fragments will 
supply sufficient record. 

" I must tell you how much pleasure I have, 
my dear sir, in renewing the long suspended 
intercourse by our own * post,' who is, I hope, 
prepared with due resignation for the days of 
toil that await her. I seem scarcely to have 
seen you since my return , . . Would you 
have the kindness either to bring or send me, 
when you have leisure to find it, the number of 
the Edinburgh Review containing Mr. Carlyle's 
remarks on Burns, with which I much wish to 
renew r my acquaintance .... 

" I always forgot to tell you that I had the 
comfortable satisfaction of beholding with my 
own eyes, near Melrose, the site of a little ham- 
let which had been deserted, not many years 
ago, on account of the visits of a spirit The 



MRS. HEMANS. 73 

ghost used to come about (whistling, I believe) 
at night from one house to another, and the in- 
habitants never could accustom themselves to 
his incursions ; so they one and all migrated ; 
and I believe he still retains possession of the 
territory. This was told me by Sir Walter, and 
very satisfactorily attested by an old shepherd, 
whose uncle or aunt had been one of the ag- 
grieved natives, therefore I hope you will re- 
ceive it in a proper spirit of faith." .... 



" Would you be so kind as to write for me 
again those lines of Catullus on the return 
home, which you gave me some time since ? I 
cannot at present find the copy. I should like 
them to be transcribed at the end of the MS. 
book which I send, and to which, recording as it 
does the various tastes and fancies and feelings 
of several years, I think they will form a not 
inappropriate conclusion. I am still enjoying, in 
much quiescence, the comparative stillness of 

VOL. IL E 



74 MEMORIALS OF 

my home, only I find it rather difficult to return 
to the dinner-ordering cares of life, and should 
think a month's sojourn in the Castle of Indolence 
with 'nought around but images of Rest,' the 
most delightful thing in the world. How very 
truly you have often said that society could 
never be the sphere for me ! I am come to a 
sort of comfortable conviction that you generally 
speak oracles on such subjects, at least as far as 

regards myself. Will you come 

here some evening early next week and read to 
me of 'Paynim chief and Christian knight;' 
shall it be Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday ? 
or this evening, if you are disengaged ? but, if 

not, will you tell I should be very glad 

to see him here. Can you divine on what days 
the musical lectures are to be given, which I 
wish to attend ? They were the three on Na- 
tional, German, and Church music, but I quite 
forget in what order they were to come. 
" Ever most truly yours, 

F H." 



MRS. HEMANS. 75 

*" I am delighted that you were all so much 
pleased with the Rhine song, but I could not 
satisfy myself it is a very weary feeling, that 
striving after the ideal beauty which one never, 
never can grasp. I am going to be quite alone 
this evening : how I wish you could come !" 



*" I had various fortunes in the world after 

I left you, my dear , and but little of 

the ' gentle satisfaction' I had proposed to my- 
self from taking out my card-case. However, 
I do not consider the morning as entirely lost, 
since, at one house, where the lady was some 
time in making her appearance, I edified my- 
self by the study of ' Pascal on the weakness 
of man.' .... I do not send Lewis's 
Tales of Terror, because I mean to have the 
pleasure of bringing them myself some evening 
if you should be disengaged, the week after 
next I shall make myself look as ghostly as 
possible, and come in the character of the 

E 2 



76 MEMORIALS OF 

'grim white woman.' Can you imagine one of 
my ballads, I do not know which, made into a 
sort of musical drama, and performed with 
scenery, &c. ? I saw an account of it in an Irish 
newspaper, which my brother George sent me. 
It was performed at Lord F. Leveson Gower's, 
and the music, by an Italian professor, is said to 
be very beautiful. 

" I return the ' Fair maid of Perth* with many 
thanks. Do not forget to tell me when you 

wish to send the Rhine song to : I can 

get it franked if you like. 

" Ever your affectionate 

" FELICIA." 



- " I send you all the writings of Dr. Channing 
which I have yet been able to find, but I regret 
that amidst the revolutions of my little state 
during my absence, the ' Essay on Fenelon,' 
which, perhaps, you would most wish to have, 
has for the present disappeared. The ordina- 



MRS. HEMANS. 77 

tion discourse, with which I do not know whe- 
ther you are acquainted, is, in my opinion, the 
noblest and most spirit-stirring of all these 
works. And yet, though the voice of Chan- 
ning's mind be both a winning and a mighty 
one, 'like to a trumpet with a silver sound/ 
I almost doubt the power of any voice to re- 
awaken a spirit in the state you describe : is 
it not 

' As violets plucked, which sweetest showers 
May ne'er make grow again ?' 

I wish I could think otherwise, because the 
idea of such a state is one which often occurs 
to me, and which I contemplate in fear and 
sadness. I have found the Spanish ballad on 
the death of Aliatar, since you were here ; and 
have been surprised, notwithstanding all the 
proud music of the original language, by the 
superior beauty of Southey's translation. The 
refrain of 



78 MEMORIALS OF 

f Tristes marchando, 
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 tender- 
ness and sadness ? I shall bring it with me 
to-morrow, and then we can decide. I shall be 

in Street soon after twelve, and I 

mean to come armed for the lecture, by envelop- 
ing myself in Prince Charles Edward's < escape 
tartanj as they call it, in Scotland, which I do 
think must have some power to assist me in 

evading the pursuit of the s. I mention 

this circumstance in order to prepare * you for 

* In explanation of this pleasantry, it may be as 
well to state that the party addressed was accused of 
sharing, to the full, in Doctor Johnson's Southron pre- 
judices and antipathies. 



MRS. HEMANS. 79 

my Avatar in such a costume, which I fear, 
notwithstanding this precaution, may come 
upon you with all the effect of * Roy's wife,' or 

< Scots who hae wi' Wallace bled; " 

# # * * 



" I am sure I should have been 

much better, but for an alarm of invasion, 
which occurred late in the night, and the dis- 
turbance occasioned by which has somewhat 
increased my nervous tremors, as you may 
judge by the ridiculous hand I am writing. 
Some of the letters put me in mind of Sir 
Walter Scott's description of an octagon, which 
he calls 6 a circle in an ague-fit* I thought I 
had a great many things to speak to you about 
and to show you yesterday evening ; but, some- 
how or other, they were all driven out of my 
foolish head, and have found a place, I would 
fain hope, in your planet, where, perhaps, they 
may one day be found with other lost ' sub- 



80 MEMORIALS OF 

tleties.' I send you 6 Garcilaso,' whose volume 
pray keep, as long as your reading it without 
interrupting other studies may require; it is 
not new to me. I wish you would mark any 
passages that strike you." .... 



" I think I must have seemed very ungrateful, 
in not having more warmly thanked you for all: 
your good wishes on the approach of another 
year, which have been so kindly expressed. 
But there is something in the expression of 
such wishes, when I know them, as I do know 
them, from you to be cordial and sincere, which 
awakens within me a feeling at once too grateful 
and too sorrowful to find utterance in language. 
They come to me almost as joyful music from 
shore might come to one far on the waters, 
speaking of things in which he has 'neither 
part nor share,' and yet the sound is welcome. 
Will you believe how unfeignedly I would 
return such wishes to you, whose path yet lies 



MRS. HEMANS. . 81 

before you, and yet I fain hope would lead to 
happiness ? And wherever that path may take 
you, or whatever my fate may be, when you 
would seek pleasure or comfort from the idea 
that you are followed by many and earnest 
thoughts of kindness, will you then think of me, 
as one who will ever feel in your welfare the 
faithful interest of a sisterly friend ? * 

" Ever most truly yours, 



" My dear sir, 

" .... I hope we shall have a German 
evening soon; I have found some fine old 
ballads in the c Wunderhorn,' which 1 want 
to show you, and we must read a little of Iphi- 
genia ; I had no idea that those awful iambics, 

* I hope it is hardly necessary to point to the singular 
beauty of expression and feeling of this note, as an 
excuse for printing one so exclusively personal in its 
subject. 

E5 



82 MEMORIALS OF 

(if iambics they be, for I am in the profoundest 
ignorance on such subjects,) could have retained 
so much harmony in our language. 

" On calling up and reconsidering my impres- 
sions of Martin's picture,* 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. 

"I should like you to read over my Spirit 
song to yourself, when you have leisure, and 
then tell me your impression of it ; I will send 
it in a day or two. Sometimes I think that I 
have sacrificed too much in the apparition scene, 
to the idea that sweetness and beauty might be 
combined with supernatural effect ; the cha- 
racter of the Greek sculpture, which has so 
singular a hold upon my imagination, was much 

* The Fall of Nineveh. 



MRS. HEMANS. 83 

in my thoughts at the time. You must tell 
me anything that occurs to you on the subject. 
Have you read Manzoni's noble ode on the 
death-day of Napoleon, translated by Arch- 
deacon Wrangham ? It has just been sent me 
by Signer Grimaldi, and I know not when I 
have met with Italian poetry so rich in deep 
thought and powerful expression. 

" Ever believe me faithfully yours, 

F. H." 



* I regret that your kind note should have 
remained so long unanswered, but as some 
compensation, if indeed, I may call it such, 
I send you a few songs to read, which I have 
lately been writing for music, and which I 
thought you would, perhaps, like to see before 
they are sent to the composers. You will, 
perhaps, trace the last to some of the associa- 
tions awakened by our Utilitarian friend, though 

* This letter has been accidentally displaced : it be- ' 
longs to the memorials of the ensuing 1 winter. 



84 MEMORIALS O* 1 

I think his pretensions to that title are as 

dubious as very contemptuously said 

Mr, 's were to the character of a 

gourmand. I do not know when I have been 
more amused than by his grotesque flights of 
conversation the evening I met him at your 
house, though I was a little startled at the idea 
of <my grandfather's head? which his fancy 
wanted to set before me in a charged I hope 
you have at last run the gauntlet through all 
the Rontim-Bontims, and are allowing yourself a 
little rest ; otherwise, I must say, with my parti- 
cular favourite e Daniel O'Rourke,' I think you 
' a man to be pitied among them :' my own inti- 
mate conviction being that ' of all dull things, 
the dullest is festivity,' I am prepared to give 
you as much sympathy on the occasion as you 
may require. Pray do not ask about my ' Fan- 
tasy-piece,' or I shall think you an embodied 
conscience, (a sort of demon, which, by-the-bye, 
I think I might introduce with appalling effect 
whenever the work is written.) I am sojourning 
at present in the Castle of Indolence, and I will 



'MRS. HEMANS, 85 

not be disturbed. There is a queenly sentence 
for you ! Wake me not ! 

" Have you looked at Moore's Byron yet ? I 
must say that what I have seen of it in the 
papers, is to me so inexpressibly disgusting, that 
I shall certainly not read the book until I hear 
your report." 



. ..." I rather think that I write to you this 
morning solely pour promener mes degouts, on 
which I expect you will bestow as much sym- 
pathy as may "reasonably be demanded. I am so 
thoroughly tired of criticism and analysis, and 
sharp two-edged swords of sentences, that I 
really begin to look upon Goethe's currant wine 
making women, as the true and fitting models 
for feminine imitation. QiCen pensez-vous? 
For my part, I have serious thoughts of going 
over to this side, and I hereby invite you to 
come and partake of the first metheglin, hip- 
pocras, or pigment, in which my genius may 
find its proper and natural channel, and flow 



86 MEMORIALS OF 

forth to the gladdening of all my happy friends. 
" In the mean time, however, and as the ma- 
terials for these my designs cannot be imme- 
diately collected, I send you part of the conver- 
sation 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 world, which 
were I to designate it by my own experience, I 
should call a wilderness of beauty and of sor- 



" Many thanks for all your kind remembrance 
of me. I really think the music beautiful, par- 
ticularly at the close, and only wonder it has not 
made a fuller impression upon you. As for the 
launch,* provided the weather will allow of my 

* This was one of the sights which Mrs. Hemans 
had expressed the strongest wish to see. She had 
always, it may be remembered, a more than common 



MRS. HEMANS. 87 

witnessing it, I have no fear of disappointment. 
My imagination generally does me one good 
service on such occasions, that of 

' Clothing the palpable and the familiar 
With golden exhalations like the morn.' 

I believe it is only where the feelings are deeply 
interested that the imagination causes such per- 
petual bitterness of disappointment. Do you 
remember St. Leon's dissatisfaction at the 
manner in which his daughters receive the 

interest in the things of the sea ; and the spectacle not 
only touched her enthusiastic English feelings, but ex- 
cited her imagination, by suggesting to her the many 
chances and changes which must befall the traveller of 
the ocean, whose birth, as it were, she witnessed. 
Something of this nature she had previously expressed 
in her lyric, " The parting ship." But the vessel she 
saw launched was but a second-rate merchantman; 
and I cannot but think she must have been disap. 
pointed, because no allusion to the sight (with her, a 
natural and necessary consequence of any addition 
made to her store of pleasures) is, as far as I am 
aware, to be found in any of her later poems. 



88 MEMORIALS Of 

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 scarcely 
think you have had an opportunity of observing 
the most amusing peculiarities in my guest, who 
has now, left me. I almost thought she would 
herself have called out a person by whom I 
latterly considered myself aggrieved, and I do not 
believe that he could, consistently with any re- 
gard for his personal safety, have crossed the 
threshold during his stay with me. Truly it is 
very pleasant to be so well guarded ; but I can- 
not reconcile myself to that prevailing habit of 
analysing every thing, fancies, feelings, even 
Mends which is the favourite occupation of her 
mind. Now I can bear being analysed with 
perfect indifference ; but my friends are so com- 
pletely severed and set apart in my eyes from all 
the gentile world, that I have no idea of their 
being subjected to this desecrating process, ac- 
tually made studies of character to be examined 



'MRS. HEMANS; 89 

< in the light of common day.' No, it is not to 
be endured, whatever skill and science may be 
brought to the work of dissection. 

I was told yesterday by Mr. Scoresby, that 
Mr. Irving is to preach in Liverpool next Sun- 
day. I wish very much to hear him. Would 
you go with me ? I must own, in all contrition 
of spirit, that I have never been very much 
affected by any pulpit eloquence, and hoping 
that the cause does not lie in my own incor- 
rigible hardness of heart, I am really anxious to 
give myself another trial, and should be delighted 
to find my mind thoroughly subdued." . . . 



.TO MR, L- . 

"March 30, 1830. 
" My dear Sir, 
" I send the two songs * which I beg you to 

* " The Muffled Drum" and the '" Spirit's Song;" 
both of these have been recently published with their 
very characteristic and expressive music. 



90 MEMORIALS OF 

accept as a token of the real delight your music 
has afforded me. As I have written them ex- 
pressly for you, pray tell me candidly whether 
you find difficulties from any parts of the mea- 
sure, and would like to have some alterations ; 
because I really wish to make them what you 
will feel most pleasure in setting. I should 
not so much ask whether you find difficulties, 
because those I know you could soon overcome, 
as whether you think any passage unsuitable to 
music. . . . ". 

" I send ' the Beacon,' which I hope will not 
disappoint you, and I believe you also wished to 
look at Lamartine's poems; they certainly pos- 
sess a much deeper feeling than I have ever met 
with in French poetry, excepting perhaps, that 
of Casimir Delavigne." ..... 



TO MR. L . 

"April, 1830. 



" My dear Sir, 
" I write to tell you that I passed some time this 



MRS. HEMANS. 91 

morning with Mr. Roscoe, and on mentioning to 
him your wish of calling, he gave me leave to say, 
that he should have much pleasure in receiving 
you any day between the hours of twelve and 
three. I told him of the interest you took in 
Italian literature, and he said he should like 
much to show you a splendid edition of the life 
of Lorenzo, lately sent him by the Grand Duke 
of Tuscany. As his health is extremely un- 
settled, and he happens just now to have a bright 
interval, I should think you had better avail 
yourself of it, for he is often obliged to pass 
months in entire seclusion. ... I enclose 
the altered verse of the Spirit's Voice," in 
which I hope the difficulties are now obviated. I 
have found so very few brothers-in-rhyme to the 
unhappy word ' never,' that I thought it better 
to excommunicate him at once. 

" Very sincerely yours, &c., &c. 
" F. H." 



92 MEMORIALS OF 

Earlier allusion should have been made, in 
enumerating the pleasures and privileges of Mrs. 
Hemans' residence in Liverpool, to her occasional 
intercourse with Mr. Roscoe, who was then pass- 
ing through an old age of such serenity and cheer- 
fulness, as can never be forgotten by those who 
were permitted to look upon it. In spite of 
the inroads made by repeated illness, his mind 
remained bright and benevolent to the last ; so 
long as they were permitted to approach him, 
he appeared to take pleasure in the visits of the 
young, would interest himself in their little 
plans and prospects, and talk to them of his own 
past labours with the conscious pleasure of one 
who feels that " his work hath well been done." 
In the poetry of Mrs. Hemans Mr. Roscoe had 
always taken great pleasure; he was fond of 
having it read in his hearing. I know that she 
felt the full value of his approbation, and used 
to speak of him with almost filial regard, and of 
her visits to him as among the happiest and 
most salutary hours she passed. In general, 



MRS. HEMANS. 93 

she was singularly fond of the society of old 
mem 



TO MR. L . 

" April, 1830. 
" My dear Sir, 

"I am quite sorry that you should have dis- 
tressed yourself about the 6 Ricciarda,' which 
I found this morning in the room where you had 
left your cloak, and I was regretting that I had 
no means of sending it to you. I am sure that 
I shall be delighted with your arrangement of 
the ' Parting words/ because I never find any 
music embody, like yours, all those shades and 
fluctuations of feeling which I so often vainly 
strive to fix in language ; and whenever I try 
to write anything of deeper and more fervent 
character than usual, I shall always wish for you 
to give it expression. 

" It is quite impossible for me to tell yon the 



94 MEMORIALS OF 

impression I have received from that most spi- 
ritual 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 ! 

" I shall read the life of Haydn with great 
interest. An Edinburgh journal, which I have 
just received, gives an account of a new work by 
Moore and Bishop, which, perhaps, you may 
like to see, and I therefore send it : though the 
poetry seems to me of but a tinkling character : 
one verse of The stilly night,' or Those 
evening bells,' I should say was worth it all. 



* His " Stabat Mater." The earnest, enthusiastic, 
affectionate character of Pergolesi, and his early death, 
hastened, it was said, by the delay of that success 
which was the due of his splendid genius, was sure to 
interest Mrs. Hemans. She once thought, I believe, 
of making his feelings and fortunes the subject of a 
poem. 



MRS. HEMANS. 95 

. . . , . I have just had a very amus- 
ing visit from a Spaniard, who told me that 
he used to write poetry, but 6 that the Muses 
looked cross at him for keeping account-books.' 
" Very sincerely yours, &c. &c. 

" F. H." 

" I have found the music to the ' Burial of 
Sir John Moore,' which I send you to look at, 
though I think it very inferior to the words, 
which would require something dark and deep 
and Beethovenish^ 



TO MR. L . 

"April 8th, 1830. 
" My dear Sir, 

" I am predetermined not to give Mr. * 

*a single sous' of praise, and it must have 
been with the view of confirming me in this re- 
solve that you have communicated the opinion 



96 MEMORIALS OF 

of . Pray accept my best thanks for the 

songs, the music of which I am sure must give 
me pleasure, though it may increase my regret 
for the privation of my voice. I shall be very 
glad to become acquainted with part of your 
opera. As for those most Arcadian decorations, 
I should as soon have suspected you of the sug- 
gestion f Write an ode to music.' That fearful 
word ode, reminds me of Manzoni, whose splen- 
did poem, the ' Cinque MaggwJ I enclose, and 
beg you to keep, as I can now procure another 
copy : some of its verses remind me of Sir 
Philip Sidney's idea with regard to Chevy 
Chace, which he said stirred the heart like the 

sound of a trumpet.' 

" I fear I shall have detained your servant an 
unconscionable time ; I have had some difficulty 

in finding s s volume, which my Folletto 

{did I ever tell you that I had a Folletto quite 
as mischievous as Tasso's?) had provokingly 
hidden. You are further to attribute to the 
agency of this wicked sprite the various blots 



MRS. HEMANS. 97 

and erasures with which my note seems to 
abound. 

" Very sincerely yours, 

"F. H/' 



TO MR. L . 

" May 10th. 
" My dear Sir, 

" How much you must have enjoyed that 
spirit-stirring music of * Guillaume Tell !' Oh ! 
that I could have been there ! but the nearest 
approach to musical sounds which has greeted 
my ear since you went, (for I have been too un- 
well either to go out or to play myself,) has been 
the gentle ticking of Dr. R 's watch, regu- 
larly produced on the portentous occasion of 
feeling my pulse. So vegetative a life, indeed, 
have I been leading, that if I had lived in the 
old mythological days, I should certainly ima- 
gine I was undergoing a metamorphose into 
some kind of tree. The doctors have announced 

VOL. II. F 



98 MEMORIALS OF 

that, without very great care, another winter in 
this climate will be dangerous to me : truly, a 
comfortable sentence to me who never could 
take care of myself in my life; indeed it is a 
thing which I am convinced requires a natural 
genius for care to succeed in at all. I have been 
reading Godwin's ' Cloudesley :' it does not, I 
think, carry away the imagination with any 
thing like the mighty spirit of his earlier 
works, but is beautifully written, with an occa- 
sional flow of rich and fervent eloquence, remind- 
ing me of the effects he attributes to the con- 
versation of his own old alchemist in ' St. Leon.' 
Pray tell me if you have composed anything 
since your arrival in town. Your being able to 
compose there at all is to me little less marvel- 
lous than alchemy itself, or any other of Mr. 
Godwin's phantasies. I wonder whether the 
enclosed lines will remind you at all of Pergo- 
lesi. I had his music full in my imagination 
when I composed them. I was very ill and 
faint ; not exactly fancying myself arrived at life's 



MRS. HEMANS. 99 

last hour, but longing to hear such a strain as 
the < Stabat Mater: " v 



In the spring of 1830, Mrs. Hemans pro- 
jected that journey to the Lake district, of 
which so delightful a record will be found in the 
following chapter. She made her escape from a 
neighbourhood, outwardly always distasteful to 
her, for its total want of beautiful scenery, 
all the more gladly, from having been more 
than usually pressed upon by the claims and the 
curiosity of strangers, To a visitation from one 
of the latter, the humours of which were more 
than usually ludicrous, reference is made in the 
two following fragments. 

* " My dear , 

" Will you come and see me to-morrow even- 
ing with your brother? do, there is a good 
girl ! and shall I come and see you on Wednes- 
day evening? You would all get wofully tired 

F 2 



100 MEMORIALS OF 

of me at this rate, but I am going away so soon 
that the danger will for the present be obviated. 
I wish you were going with me what a great 
deal of mischief we might accomplish together ! 
the very rumour of it would startle Mr. De 
Quincy out of his deepest opium-dream. What 
a pity such brilliant exploits are to remain lost 
among the things that might have been ! 4 The 
ibis and the crocodile would have trembled to 

hear of them/ Now, dear , be sure you 

come to-morrow evening. ... 

" Oh ! the . . . . ! she came and laid her 

friendship at my feet the morning of her de- 
parture, and I, 'pebble-hearted* wretch that I 
am ! never stooped to pick it up." 



" I had given up the weary task of attempting 
to curtail those hundred-footed speeches in the 
dramatic scene,* before I received your note. 

* " Don Sebastian/' a fragment of a dramatic poem, 
published among the " Poetical Remains." 



MRS. HEMANS. 101 

I only altered one line, having made sufficient 
progress in natural history, since I wrote, to 
discover that lions do not attack people who are 

asleep ! Heaven be praised ! really has 

evaporated ! she paid her farewell visit the other 
morning after you were here, and made so 
formal, serious, and solemn an offer of her 
friendship, c for ever and a day,' that I, secretly 
conscious of my own un worthiness, was perfectly 
bewildered, and can only hope that my blushes 
on this trying occasion were attributed to an 
excess of sensibility." 



The "Songs of the Affections" were pub- 
lished in the summer of 1830. This collection 
of lyrics has been, perhaps, less popular than 
other of Mrs. Hemans' later works. It was 
hardly, indeed, to be expected, that the principal 
poem, " A Spirit's Return," the origin and sub- 
ject of which have been already described, should 



102 MEMORIALS OF 

appeal to the feelings of so large a circle as had 
borne witness to the truth of the tales of actual 
life and sacrifice arid suffering contained in the 
" Records of Woman." But there are parts of the 
poem solemnly and impressively powerful. The 
passages in which the speaker describes her youth 
the disposition born with her to take pleasure 
in spiritual contemplations, and to listen to that 
voice in nature which speaks of another state of 
being beyond this visible world prepare us 
most naturally for the agony of her desire, 
when he, in whom she had devotedly embarked 
all her earthly hopes and affections 

. . . . " till the world held nought 
Save the one being to my centred thought/' 

was taken away from her for ever to see him, 
if but for a moment to speak with him, only 
once again ! The coming of the apparition, too, 
is described with all the plainness and intensity 
of the most entire conviction, so difficult, in these 



MRS. HEMANS. 103 

days, for a writer to assume.* As the crisis of 
interest approaches, the variety given by alter- 
nate rhymes to the heroic measure in which the 
tale was written, is wisely laid aside, and it 
proceeds with a resistless energy. 

" Hast thou been told that from the viewless bourne 
The dark way never hath allowed return? 

* Might it not almost be said, so impossible to be 
assumed by those who have wholly and scornfully 
cast off those superstitions, so distasteful to reason, 
but so dear to fancy? It is impossible, in reading 
Sir Walter Scott's incomparable descriptions of super- 
natural visitations, the episode of the " Bodach 
Glas," for instance, or " Wandering Willie's tale," or 
the vigil of Master Holdenough in the Mirror Cham- 
ber, (though this is afterwards explained away,) -to 
imagine that the creator of these scenes did not, in 
some measure, believe in their possibility, though it 
might be but with a poetical faith. Were it otherwise, 
they must strike us as unnaturally as the recent French 
revivifications of the antique Catholic legends and 
mysteries as merely grotesque old fables, adopted as 
studies by clever artists, for the sake of their glaring 
contrasts and effective situations. 



104 MEMORIALS OF 

That all, which tears can move, with life is fled, 
That earthly love is powerless on the dead ? 
Believe it not ! there is a large lone star 
Now burning o'er yon western hill afar, 
And under its clear light there lies a spot 
Which well might utter forth, 'Believe it not!' 

I sat beneath that planet, I had wept 
My woe to stillness ; every night- wind slept ; 
A hush was on the hills ; the very streams 
Went by like clouds, or noiseless founts in dreams, 
And the dark tree o'ershadowing me that hour, 
Stood motionless, even as the grey church-tower 
Whereon I gazed unconsciously ; there came 
A low sound, like the tremor of a flame, 
Or like the light quick shiver of a wing, 
Flitting through twilight woods, across the air ; 
And I looked up ! oh ! for strong words to bring 
Conviction o'er thy thought ! Before me there, 
He, the departed, stood! ay, face to face 
So near, and yet how far !" * * * * 

The conclusion of this fine poem is far from 
fulfilling the promise of its commencement : but 
it was impossible to imagine any events, or give 



MRS. HEMANS. 105 

utterance to any feelings, succeeding those so 
awful and exciting, which should not appear 
feeble, and vague, and exhausted. Mrs. He- 
mans would sometimes regret that she had 
not bestowed more labour upon the close of 
her work : this, it is true, might have been more 
carefully elaborated; but, from the nature of 
her subject, I doubt the possibility of its hav- 
ing been substantially improved. 



F 5 



106 MEMORIALS OF 



CHAPTER IV. 

Mr. Wordsworth's poetry Mrs. Hemans' visit to the 
Lakes Her letters from Rydal Mount Passage 
from Haco Genius compatible with domestic hap- 
piness State of music among the Lakes Mr. 
Wordsworth's reading aloud Anecdote Dove Nest 
Accident on horseback Letters from Dove Nest 
Winandermere The St. Cecilia Whimsical letter 
Letter of counsel Commissions Anecdote of a 
bridal gift Readings of Schiller Second journey 
into Scotland M. Jeffrey Six Mrs. Hemans 
Change of residence. 

EARLY in the summer, Mrs. Hemans put into 
execution her long-cherished plan of finding rest 
and refreshment for a weary spirit among the 
beautiful scenery of the Lakes. She was drawn 



MRS. HEMANS. 107 

thither by the additional motive of a wish to en- 
joy the personal intercourse of one whom, for 
the sake of his writings, she had long loved and 
reverenced as a friend and a counsellor. And thus 
it is, indeed, that all poets who are true to the 
divine gifts bestowed upon them, must ultimately 
be regarded by the sincere and faithful-hearted : 
though, for a while, their voices may be drowned 
by the outcries which the world idly raises 
against what it will not take the trouble, or fears, 
to understand. The feelings which impressed Mrs. 
Hemans on being first introduced to the poetry 
of Mr. Wordsworth, have been already shown 
in her own confession : I must insist upon the 
fact that her conviction of his great and noble 
powers grew upon her with every year of her 
life ; and, I am persuaded, ultimately exercised 
a beneficial and calming effect upon a mind, 
by nature eager, and by circumstances rendered, 
for a time impatient, and ill at ease, and subject 
to the most painful alternations of mood. Mrs.He- 
mans' copy of Mr. Wordsworth's works might be 



108 MEMORIALS OF 

called her poetical breviary : there was scarcely 
a page that had not its mark of admiration or 
its marginal comment or illustration.* She was 
unwearied in recommending the study of his 
poems, and in pointing out and repeating 
their finest passages. Then, too, her political 
biases (gentle as they were, and never for a mo- 
ment made manifest in controversy) made her 

* It was a habit with Mrs. Hemans, to illustrate 
her favourite books with the thoughts excited by their 
perusal, and with such parallel passages from other 
writers as bore upon their subject. If one of her inti- 
mate friends lent her a book which she chanced to 
adopt, it was sure to return thus enriched. I remem- 
ber, in particular, that her copy of Mr. Auldjo's "As- 
cent of Mont Blanc" which, fortunately, had the am- 
plest of margins was positively written over with 
snatches of description, and quotations of poetry, for 
some of which, I suspect, it would have been no more 
difficult to find their owner, than it was to assign the 
delightful fragments from " Old Plays," which headed 
the chapters of the Waverley novels, to their real 
source. 



MRS. HEMANS. 109 

look up to him as one of the few, in whose reve- 
rence for the wisdom of our ancestors, and 
manly religious feeling, and deep wisdom, lay 
the hope and the safety of our country. 

On all these grounds, it will be readily ima- 
gined with what delight Mrs. Hemans looked 
forward to enjoying such companionship for a 
brief summer-season. She had been worn out 
with empty flattery and vulgar curiosity, and 
longed for shelter, and silence, and repose, 

. . . . " in sunny garden bowers 
Where vernal winds each tree's low tones awaken, 
And bud and bell with changes mark the hours." 

With what a natural eloquence of gladness she 
poured forth her delight in finding her expectations 
more than realized, the following letters will show. 
They are purposely given with fewer omissions 
than any of the previous series, as offering a per- 
fect picture of her mind, when under its best in- 
fluences, and least shaken by the cares which, at 
times, weighed it down so heavily. Nor will the 



110 MEMORIALS OF 

pleasantries they contain in which the poet of 
thought and daily life, and the poetess of the 
affections and of the imagination, are so happily 
contrasted be misunderstood by those who 
love a mind none the less for its changes from 
grave to gay, and who find a security for its 
truth, in the artless expression of all its moods 
and fancies. 

Mrs. Hemans was accompanied on this jour- 
ney by her youngest son the other two still 
under her care joining her when she was settled 
among the Lakes. As usual, she was unwearied 
in communicating her impressions to those with 
whom, when at home, she shared every thought 
and feeling of the passing hour. 

"Rydal Mount, Monday, June 22nd, 1830. 
"You were very kind in writing to me so 

soon, , and making the remembrance of my 

journey with you one of unmingled pleasure, by 
your assurance that all was well on your return. 
For myself, I can truly say that my enjoyment 



MRS. HEMANS. Ill 

of your society and kindness, and the lovely 
scenery by which we were surrounded, made 
those pleasant days seem as a little isle of sun- 
shine in my life, to which I know that memory 
will again and again return. I felt very forlorn 

after you were gone from Ambleside: 

came and went without exciting a smile, and 
my nervous fear at the idea of presenting my- 
self alone to Mr. Wordsworth, grew upon me so 
rapidly, that it was more than seven before I 
took courage to leave the inn. 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 be- 
nignant-looking old man greeted me in the 
porch: this was Mr. Wordsworth himself; and 
when 1 tell you that, having rather a large party 
of visitors 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 



112 MEMORIALS OF 

both like and appreciate. In half an hour I 
felt myself as much at ease with him as I had 
been with Sir Walter Scott in half a day. I 
laughed to find myself saying, on the occasion 
of some little domestic occurrence, * Mr. Words- 
worth, how could you be so giddy ?' He has, 
undeniably, a lurking love of mischief, and 
would not, I think, be half so safely intrusted 
with the tied-up bag of winds as Mr. in- 
sisted that Dr. Channing might be. There is an 
almost patriarchal simplicity, an absence of all 
pretension, about him, which I know you would 
like ; all is free, unstudied the river winding at 
its own sweet will ' in his manner and conversa- 
tion 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 me- 
ditative life : frequently his head droops, his eyes 
half close, and he seems buried in quiet depths 
of thought. I have passed a delightful morning 
to-day in walking with him about his own 



MRS. HEMANS. 113 

richly-shaded grounds, and hearing him speak 
of the old English writers, particularly Spenser, 
whom he loves, as he himself expresses it, for his 
4 earnestness and devotedness/ It is an immea- 
surable transition from Spenser to , but 

I have been so much amused by Mr. Words- 
worth's characterizing her as a 'tumultuous 
young woman,'* that I cannot forbear trans- 
cribing the expression for the use of my Mends. 
I must not forget to tell you that he not only 
admired our exploit in crossing the Ulverston 
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 pas- 
sage of what he calls its majestic barrier. Let 
me write out the passage from Haco, before I 
quite exhaust my paper : this was certainly the 
meaning we both agreed upon; though I did 
not recollect your translation sufficiently well to 
arrange the versification accordingly. 

* This refers to the party alluded to in the last 
fragments of correspondence in the last chapter. 



114 MEMORIALS OF 

' Where is the noble game that will not seek 
A perilous covert, ev'n from wildest rocks, 
In his sore need, when fast the hunter's train 
Press on his panting flight ?' " 



" Rydal Mount, June 24th, 1830. 

" My dear Mr. L , 

" I was on the point of migrating to the land 
of Lakes when your former letter reached me ; 
I delayed acknowledging it until I had arrived 
at my place of destination, Mr. Wordsworth's 
house, where I now am, and where I have just 
had the pleasure of hearing from you again. . . . 
You can scarcely conceive a more beautiful 
little spot than Rydal Mount ; my window 
is completely embowered in ivy and roses, and 
Winandermere lies gleaming among the hills 
before it: what a contrast to the culinary 
regions about Liverpool ! I am charmed with 
Mr. Wordsworth himself; his manners are dis- 
tinguished by that frank simplicity which I 



MRS. HEMANS. 115 

believe to be ever the characteristic of real 
genius ; his conversation perfectly free and un- 
affected, yet remarkable for power of expression 
and vivid imagery ; when the subject calls forth 
any thing like enthusiasm, the poet breaks out 
frequently and delightfully, and his gentle and 
affectionate playfulness in the intercourse with 
all the members of his family, would of itself 
sufficiently refute Moore's theory in the Life of 
Byron, with regard to the unfitness of genius 
for domestic happiness. I have much of his 
society, as he walks by me while I ride to ex- 
plore the mountain glens and waterfalls, and he 
occasionally repeats passages of his own poems 
in a deep and thinking tone, which harmonizes 

well with the spirit of these scenes 

The state of music here is something of the 
darkest. Rossini, Beethoven, Weber, are names 
that have never awakened the mountain echoes, 
here at least. And a lady was so charmed the 
other day with the originality of Ah perdona,' 
that with the view, as she said, of obtaining ' a 



116 MEMORIALS OF 

little new music,' she instantly, in the innocence 
of her heart, set about transcribing the whole." 



" Rydal Mount, June 24th, 1830. 

" Will you favour me by accepting this copy 

of the little volume, in the preparation of which 

I was so greatly indebted to your kindness ? 

I have written your name in it, and in the other 

two that of Dr. , to whom I wish you would 

present them with my grateful respects. 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 
scarcely 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 



MRS. HEMANS. 117 

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 poney 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 read- 
ing to me a great deal from Spenser, and after- 
wards his own 'Laodamia,' my favourite < Tintern 
Abbey,' and many of those noble sonnets which 
you, like myself, enjoy so much. 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 : 



118 MEMORIALS OF 

* 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 Mortality,' renews 
them from time to time ; I could scarcely help 
exclaiming ' Esto perpetua /' "... 



"Rydal Mount, June 25th, 1830. 
" My dear Sir, 

" The recurrence of the day on which I used 
so often to write to you, makes me wish to com- 
municate with you again. I seem as if I longed 
to hear the voice of a * familiar friend,' amidst 
the deep stillness of these beautiful scenes. 
Beautiful as they are, do you know I have not 
yet seen any thing to my eyes half so lovely as 



MRS. HEM AN S. 119 

our own Coniston ; that first impression of lake 
scenery will never, I think, be effaced by a 
brighter. Grasmere, to which I often ride at- 
tended by Mr. Wordsworth, is exquisite, but, I 
scarcely know why, something of sadness seems 
to overshadow its secluded beauty, whilst all 
my recollections of Coniston are bright and 
fresh and joyous. You will be pleased to hear 
that the more I see of Mr. Wordsworth, the 
more I admire, and I may almost say, love him. 
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 theory of Mr. Moore's with regard to 
the unfitness of genius for domestic happiness. 
I was speaking of it yesterday to Mr. Words- 
worth, 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 



120 MEMORIALS OF 

enable them to see and feel all the beauty of 
domestic ties/ He has himself been singularly 
fortunate in long years of almost untroubled 
domestic peace and union 

" How much I was amused yesterday, by a 
sudden burst of indignation in Mr. Wordsworth 

which would have enchanted . We were 

sitting on a bank overlooking Rydal Lake, and 
speaking of Burns. I said, ' Mr. Wordsworth, 
do you not think his war ode ' Scots who hae wi' 
Wallace bled, 1 has been a good deal over-rated ? 
especially by Mr. Carlyle, who calls it the no- 
blest lyric in the language ? ' I am delighted 
to hear you ask the question,' was his reply, 
6 over-rated ! trash ! stuff ! miserable in- 
anity ! without a thought without an image!' 
&c. &c. &c. then he recited the piece in a 
tone of unutterable scorn; and concluded with 
a Da Capo of wretched stuff !' I rode past De 
Quincy's cottage the other evening. . . . 

" I hope you will write very soon. I really 
long for a ' voice from home. 1 " 



MRS. HEMANS. 121 

" Rydal Mount, July 2nd, 1830. 

" Will you not like to think of me at that 

lovely little Dove's Nest which we both of us 

admired so much from the lake, my dear Mr. 

? I was agreeably surprised to find it a 

lodging-house, and have taken apartments there 
for a fortnight ; probably I may remain longer, 
but I almost fear that its deep though beautiful 
seclusion, would, for any length of time, be too 
much for one upon whom solitude bears back so 
many subjects of melancholy thought. If you 
were but near enough to come and pass the 
evenings with me ! How I should enjoy making 
your coffee at the window, which looks forth to 
that glorious lake with all its glancing sails and 
woody islets ! But I am sure your thoughts will 
sometimes be with me, when you can free them 
from the turmoil of your busy life, and the re- 
sounding streets, and I hope you will write to 
me very often. You may be quite sure that I 
always write to you from impulse, and the 
strong wish of communion rendered even stronger 

VOL. II. G 



122 MEMORIALS OF 

to my nature by beautiful scenery and new im- 
pressions. I am indeed but too dependent on 
those to whom my mind has linked itself. Pray 

thank Dr. for his very kind letter, which 

I will answer as soon as I am established at my 
Dove's Nest, \vhere I shall have more time for 
writing. As you have so particularly requested 
me to tell you about my health, I must own that 
I am not quite so well as I was at the beginning 
of my sojourn here : I was nearly thrown from 
a spirited horse I was riding the other evening, 
and have been as tremulous as an aspen leaf 
ever since. Mr. Wordsworth, I think, was 
more alarmed than myself, for by the time he 
came up to me, though I had with some diffi- 
culty kept my seat, my voice was completely 
gone, and I was unable to speak for many 
minutes. However, I continue to ride every day, 
and hope thus to conquer the nervous weak- 
ness which the adventure had left. Yesterday 
I rode round Grasmere and Rydal Lake; it was 
a glorious evening, and the imaged heaven in 



MRS. HEMANS. 123 

the waters more completely filled my mind even 
to overflowing, than I think any object in nature 
ever did before : I quite longed for you : we 
should have stood in silence before the magni- 
ficent vision for an hour, as it flushed and faded, 
and darkened at last into the deep sky of a 
summer night. I thought of the scriptural expres- 
sion, c A sea of glass mingled with fire;' no other 
words are fervid enough to convey the least im- 
pression of what lay burning before me." . . 



" Dove Nest, near Ambleside, July 6th, 1830. 

" My dear -, 

" I think I was never so glad to hear from 
you, as when Claude and Henry brought me 
your kind and welcome letter on Saturday. I 
had been thinking of you so frequently since 
my arrival here, and so earnestly wishing to tell 
you all my feelings on taking possession of this 
lovely little bower, that I almost seemed, by the 

G 2 



124 MEMORIALS OF 

strong power of mind, to have brought you near ; 
and it really was like hearing the pleasant voice 
of a dear friend to receive your letter just then. 
How shall I tell you 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 all this 
to you to you, because I know you will under- 
stand me. I want nothing here but the spirit 
of a friend to answer the feelings of my own 
that is indeed a want which throws some shade 






MRS. HEMANS. 125 

of sadness over this beautiful world, but I feel 
it far more bitterly amidst the world of society, 
where I find so many things to shrink from. 
Yet I think I never desired to talk to you so 
much and so often, as since I came here. 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 ori- 
ginally meant for a small villa, though it has 
long since passed into the hands of farmers, and 
there is in consequence an air of neglect about 
the little domain, which does not at all approach 
desolation, and yet gives it something of touch- 
ing interest. You see everywhere traces of 
love and care beginning to be effaced : rose-trees 
spreading into wildness ; laurels darkening the 
windows, 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 



126 MEMORIALS OF 

it from art, 1 do not at all dislike : there is a little 
grassy terrace immediately under the window, 
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 Winandermere, which 
seems at this moment even like another sky, so 
truly is every summer cloud and tint of azure 
pictured in its transparent mirror. It is quite 
a place in which to hear Mr. Wordsworth read 
poetry. Have I ever told you how much his 
reading and recitation have delighted me ? His 
voice has something quite breeze-like in the soft 
gradation of its swells and falls. How I wish 
you could have heard it a few evenings since ! 
We had just returned from riding through the 
deep valley of Grasmere, and were talking of 
different natural sounds, which in the stillness of 



MRS. HEMAtfS. 127 

the evening had struck my imagination. ' Per- 
haps,' I said, * there may be still deeper and 
richer music pervading all nature than any which 
we are permitted to hear.' He answered by re- 
citing those glorious lines of Milton's 



' Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth, 
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep/ &c. 

And his tones of solemn earnestness, sinking, al- 
most dying away into a murmur of veneration, 
as if the passage were breathed forth from the 
heart, I shall never forget ; { the forest leaves 
seemed stirred with prayer,' while those high 
thoughts were uttered. I have been writing to 
you in a most child-like and confiding spirit, 
shall I not have tired you out with my details ? 
no, I will not think so. 

" I do not feel as if I had said half that was 
in my mind to say ; I should have thanked you 
sooner for all those spirit-stirring tales from the 



MEMORIALS OF 

early annals of England ; they will afford me 
4 food for thought* some future day, and I have 
always pleasure in knowing what reading in- 
terests you ; 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 Win- 
andermere farewell : Ned Bolton* was the last 
hero by whose exploits I have been in the least 
moved. My boys are so happy here, I wish you 
could see them. Henry out with his fishing-rod, 
and Charles sketching, and Claude climbing the 
hill above the Nest. I cannot follow, for I have 
not strength yet, but I think in feeling I am 
more a child than any of them. 

" Now I must say good-bye, and reserve 
many things till I write again, which will be very 
soon. 

" Ever believe me, 

" Most truly yours, 

" FELICIA HEMANS." 

* The pirate-hero of one of Mr. Kennedy's spirited 
ballads. 



MRS. HEMANS. 129 

The following postscript to one of the letters 
written from Dove Nest may here be inserted ; 
its subject furnishes a pleasant contrast to the 
vivacity of the next extract. 

" I must tell you how very much Mr. Words- 
worth was pleased with ' The St. Cecilia,' par- 
ticularly with the nightingale verse." 

The lines in question (afterwards published 
among the " National Lyrics") were written to 
illustrate a picture of St. Cecilia with attendant 
angels, by Andrea Celesti. Mrs. Hemans had 
been much struck with the mingled calmness 
and inspiration which her apprehensive imagina- 
tion had discovered, and greatly enhanced, in 
the countenance of the principal figure. She 
always loved to trace an under-current of sad- 
ness, some dim intimation of a world unseen 
and spiritual, even in the gayest and most care- 
less music, and the serenity of the countenance 
of St. Cecilia had strongly impressed her mind 

G 5 



130 MEMORIALS OF 

by its contrast with so favourite a superstition ; 
the impression gave its colour to her poem. 
The second verse of the following was Mr. 
Wordsworth's favourite. 



" Say, by what strain, through cloudless ether swell- 

ing 
Thou hast drawn down those wanderers from the 

skies ? 

Bright guests ! even such as left of yore their dwelling 
For the deep cedar shades of Paradise. 

" What strain? Oh! not the nightingale's, when 
showering 

Her own heart's life-drops on the burning lay - 
She stirs the young woods in their time of flowering, 

And pours her strength, but not her grief, away. 

" And not the exile's," &c. &c. 



" But thou ! the spirit which at eve is filling 
All the hushed air, and reverential sky, 



MRS. HEMANS. 131 

Founts, leaves, and flowers, with solemn rapture 

thrilling, 
This is the soul of thy rich harmony. 

" This bears up high those breathings of devotion, 
Wherein the currents of thy heart gush free ; 

Therefore no world of sad and vain emotion, 
Is the dream-haunted music-land for thee !" 



" Dove Nest. 

* " My dear , 

" I have too long left unacknowledged your 
welcome letter, but the wicked world does so 
continue to persecute me with notes, and parcels, 
and dispatches, that, even here, I cannot find 
half the leisure you would imagine. Yesterday 
I had three visiting cards upon which I look 
with a fearful and boding eye left at the house, 
whilst I was sitting, in the innocency of my 
heart, thinking no harm, by the side of the lake. 
Imagine visiting cards at Dove's Nest ! Robinson 
Crusoe's dismay at seeing the print of the man's 



132 MEMORIALS OF 

foot in the sand could have been nothing, abso- 
lutely nothing, to mine, when these evil tokens of 
'young ladies with pink parasols' met my dis- 
tracted sight, on my return from the shore. En 
revanche, however, I have just received the most 
exquisite letter ever indited by the pen of man, 
from a young American, who being an inhabitant 
of No. , , is certainly not likely to trou- 
ble me with anything more than his ' spiritual at- 
tachment,' as Mr. of is pleased to call 

it. He, that is, my American, must certainly not 
be the 6 walking-stick,' but the very leaping - 
pole of friendship. Pray read, mark, learn, and 
promulgate for the benefit of the family, the fol- 
lowing delectable passage. 6 How often have I 
sung some touching stanza of your own, as I 
rode on horseback of a Saturday evening, from 
the village academy to my house a little distance 
out of town ; and saw through the waving cedars 
and pines, the bark roof and the open door of 
some pleasant wigwam, where the young comely 
maidens were making their curious baskets, or 



MRS. HEMANS. 133 

mocasins, or wampum-belts, and singing their 
' To-gas-a-wana, or evening song P How often 
have I murmured ' Bring flowers ' or the * Voice 
of Spring,' as thus I pondered along ! How 
often have I stood on the shore of the Cayuga, 
the Seneca, the Oneida, and the Skanateles, and 
called to mind the sweetness of your strains !' 

I see you are enchanted, my dear , but 

this is not all : 4 the lowliest of my admirers,' as 
the amiable youth entitles himself, begs permis- 
sion to be for once my c cordonnier,' and is about 
to send me a pair of Indian mocasins, with my 
4 illustrious name interwoved in the buckskin 
of which they are composed, with wampum 
beads.' If I receive this precious gift before I 
return to Liverpool, I shall positively make my 
appearance, en squaw, the very first evening I 

come to street ; and pray tell Dr. 

that with these mocasins, and a blanket to cor- 
respond, I shall certainly be able to defy all the 
rigours of the ensuing winter. I am much dis- 
appointed to find that there is no prospect of 



134 MEMORIALS OF 

your visiting this lovely country. I am sure 

that nothing would do so much good as a 

brief return to its glorious scenery: there is 
balm in the very stillness of the spot I have 
chosen. The 'majestic silence' of these lakes, 
perfectly soundless and waveless as they are, ex- 
cept when troubled by the wind, is to me most 
impressive. O 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. Oh ! how I wish 
you were here !".... 



In inserting the following letter, as well 
as two or three others which will be found 
in a later section of these memorials, a word of 
explanation, perhaps of apology, is requisite. It, 
and they are published for the sake of the ex- 



MRS. HEMANS. 135 

cellent truths they contain, too valuable to 
be withheld, by one who has passed through the 
struggle from those who may be aspiring after 
the precarious honours, and are willing to en- 
counter the certain cares of literary life, in 
preference to undertaking the duties of some 
profession less exciting, more steady, and more 
profitable. The following was addressed to the 
writer upon the intervention of an obstacle 
which bade fair to destroy for ever the hopes 
and dreams of many years. 

" Dove Nest, July llth. 

" My dear , 

" I am sure you will believe that I have 
read your letter with a full and most sincere 
participation of the varied feelings it expresses. 
As for your imps, poor dear little things ! so 
great is my compassion for them, that I, even I, 
would at this moment of tender feeling, will- 
ingly uncork them all, though I believe the con- 
sequences would be little less awful than those 



136 MEMORIALS OF 

of emptying the bag of winds. But to speak 
more seriously, 

' Let nought prevail against you, nor disturb 
Your cheerful faith.' 

You will not be ( cribbed and cabined ' by the 
influence of your daily toils : no, you will rise 
from them, as all minds gifted for worthier 
things have risen, with a pure and buoyant joy, 
into a world where they cannot enter. Tell me 

one instance of a generous spirit, 

which has sunk under the mere necessity for 
steadfast and manly exertion. Many, many, I 
believe, have been lost and bewildered for want 
of having this clear path marked out for them. 
I am convinced that you will be all the better 
for having your track so defined, and for know- 
ing when and* where you may turn aside from 
it to gather flowers upon which no soil of earthi- 
ness will have fallen. I could not write thus, if 
I thought that one precious gift was to be sacri- 
ficed to the employment upon which you have 



MRS. HEMANS, 137 

entered. You know that I believe you to be 
endowed with powers for the attainment of ex- 
cellence, and where such powers do exist, I also 
believe them to be unconquerable. How very 
gravely have I written to you ! If you were 
sitting here beside me, I could hardly have 
spoken so: but I really have only wished to 
cheer and comfort 'my trusty cousin,' and I 
know he will not let me prove a false pro- 
phetess. However, I think that there is but 
little danger, and that with the prospect of your 

immediately commencing the and then 

composing the .... and writing out 

the Italian tale, besides about fifty pretty little 
entremets, of which I know nothing, the poor 
imps may take comfort in their bottles on the 
mantel-piece, while the 'Jish do their duty ' in 

the fryingpan below I am now writing 

a rather longer piece, though but slowly, an4 
when it is completed I mean to send up one of 
your poems with it; I hope my compliance 
with his request will have so pleased him, that 



138 MEMORIALS Of 

he will see a thousand beauties in the com- 
position of the ' proper useful young man ' by 
whom mine will be escorted. I wish that 
same useful young man was near me just at 
present: I am going out upon the lake with 
the boys, and if our united giddiness does 
not get us into some difficulty or other, it will 
be sufficiently marvellous. To be sure I shall 
keep the precious mocasin letter it will be 
the very keystone of our edifice.* Do you 
know that I was actually found out here last 
night by a party of American travellers. . . . 
O words of fear ! and they came and stayed all 
the evening with me, and I was obliged to play 
Faimable, and receive compliments, &c. &c. &c., 
here, even here, on the very edge of Winander- 
mere. In other respects, I am leading the most 
primitive life we literally ' take no note of 
time,' as there happens to be no clock in the 

* Mrs. Hemans had often spoken playfully of making 
a collection of the whimsical letters with which she 
was assailed. 



MRS. HEMANS. 139 

house. To be sure we get an eleemosynary 
pinch of time now and then, (as one might a 
pinch of snuff,) when any one happens to call 

with a watch, but that is a rare event 

I shall be anxious to hear from you again, 
and to know that the imps are in a happier 

state 

" Ever your very faithful cousin, 

F. H." 



" I believe I shall have to trouble you and 
and to make me up a parcel before 



long : Mr. Wordsworth wants to read a little of 
Schiller with me, and he is not to be had at 
Ambleside ; and I want some chocolate and 
that cannot be had at Ambleside and a black 
silk spencer, after divers ' moving accidents by 
field and flood,' wants a rifacciamento neither 
can that be had at the all-needing Amble- 
side ; but I must write the affecting particulars 
to ." 



140 MEMORIALS OF* 

" Dove Nest. 

* " My dear , 

" I must frankly own that it is my necessi- 
ties which impel me so soon to address you 
again. From the various dilapidations which my 
wardrobe has endured since I came into this 
country, I am daily assuming more and more 
the appearance of * a decayed gentlewoman ;' 
and if you could only behold me in a certain 
black gown, which came with me here in all the 
freshness of youth, your tender heart would be 
melted into tearful compassion. The ebony 
bloom of the said dress is departed for ever : the 
waters of Winandermere, (thrown up by oars in 
unskilful hands,) have splashed and dashed over 
it, the rains of R^dal have soaked it, the winds 
from Helm-crag have wrinkled it, and it is alto- 
gether somewhat in the state of 

f Violets plucked, which sweetest showers, 
May ne'er make grow again.' 

Three yards of black silk, however, will, I be- 



MRS. HEMANSi 141 

lieve, restore me to respectability of appearance, 
. . . . . if will add a supply of cho- 
colate, without which there is no getting through 

the fatigue of existence for me and if or 

your brother will also send me a volume or 

two of Schiller not the plays, but the poems 
to read with Mr. Wordsworth, I shall then 
have a complete brown-paper full of happiness. 

Imagine, my dear , a bridal present made 

by Mr. Wordsworth, to a young lady in whom 
he is much interested a poet's daughter, too ! 
You will be thinking of a broach in the shape 
of a lyre, or a butterfly-shaped aigrette, or a 
forget-me-not ring, or some such < small gear ' 
nothing of the sort, but a good, handsome, sub- 
stantial, useful-looking pair of scales, to hang 
up in her store-room ! < For you must be 
aware, my dear Mrs. Hemans,' said he to me 
very gravely, ' how necessary it is occasionally 
for every lady to see things weighed herself.' 
' Poveretta me /' I looked as good as I could, 
and, happily for me, the poetic eyes are not very 



142 MEMORIALS OF 

clear-sighted, so that I believe no suspicion de- 
rogatory to my notability of character, has yet 
flashed upon the mighty master's mind : indeed 
I told him that I looked upon scales as particu- 
larly graceful things, and had great thoughts of 
having my picture taken with a pair in my 
hand." 



" Dove Nest Cottage, Ambleside, July 20th, 1830. 
" My dear Mr. L , 

" A letter which I received this morning from 
Liverpool mentions your having returned home, 
and I will therefore no longer delay writing to 
you, as you may perhaps wish to know my pre- 
sent address. I fear you have given up your 
intention of visiting the Lakes, as your last letter 
made no mention of it The weather is indeed 
any thing but alluring, though there are few, 
even of the most lowering days here, among 
which one cannot get out of doors in a paren- 



MRS. HEMANS. 143 

thesis, such as the culinary regions where you 
now are very seldom afford. I am anxious to 
know whether you received my little volume, 
which was sent for you to the Athenaeum : very 
little of its contents would be new to you, 
though the arrangement of the whole might, I 
hope, afford you some pleasure. You were quite 
right about the name of 'my Cid,' as the old 
Spanish chroniclers call him : it is Diaz, and 
not Diar, and he is a personage for whom I have 
so much respect, that it would have grieved me 
to see his c style and title' falsified. I remained 
at Mr. Wordsworth's rather more than a fort- 
night, and then came to my present residence, 
a lonely, but beautifully situated cottage on the 
banks of Winandermere. I am so much de- 
lighted 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 



144 MEMORIALS OF 

thing like sadness. I contrive to see Mr. 
Wordsworth frequently, but am little disturbed 
by other visitors : only the other evening, just 
as I was about to go forth upon the lake, a card 
was brought to me. Think of my be- 
ing found out by American tourists in Dove's 

Nest ! ' I wish , and , and , (for 

they were all impending over me,) were in the 
arms of Helvellyn and Catchedicam !' exclaimed 
I, most irreverently : but however, they brought 
credentials I could not but acknowledge. The 
young ladies, as I feared, brought an Album 
concealed in their shawls, and it was levelled at 
me like a pocket-pistol before all was over. 

When you see Mrs. , will you tell her 

that I have just had a very kind and pleasant 
letter from Lady Dacre : tell her, also, that I 
am going to read some of Schiller with Mr. 
Wordsworth. I know that she will understand 
that high enjoyment." . . . 



MRS. HEMANS. 145 

"Dove Nest, Thursday. 
" My dear Mr. , 

" Having received 's parcel in safety, I 

have now two kind letters to thank you for ... 

Will you tell , with my best remembrance, 

that Mr. Wordsworth thinks he shall be quite 
able to read the small edition of Schiller : he is 
now gone for a few days to his friend Lord 
Lowther's ; but I hope, on his return, to read 
with him some of my own first loves in Schiller 
6 The Song of the Bell,' Cassandra,' or < Thek- 
la's Spirit-voice," 1 with none of which he is ac- 
quainted. Indeed, I think he is inclined to 
undervalue German literature from not knowing 
its best and purest master-pieces. ' Goethe's 
writings cannot live,' he one day said to me, ( be- 
cause ' they are not holy /' I found that he had 
unfortunately adopted this opinion from an at- 
tempt to read Wilhelm Meister, which had in- 
spired him with irrepressible disgust. However, 
I shall try to bring him into a better way of 

VOL. n. H 



346 MEMORIALS OF 

thinking, if only out of my own deep love for 
what has been to me a source of intellectual joy 
so cheering and elevating. I did not accomplish 
my visit to Coniston last Saturday ; the * cloud 
land' was too impervious to be entered. . . . 
Is it not very strange, and hateful, and weariful, 
that, wherever I go, some odd old creature is 
sure to fall in love with me just out of spite ? I 
am quite sure that if I went to Preston, Miss 
(do you remember that long, thin, deadly- 
looking mansion with her name on the door ?) 
would attach herself to me with the adhesive 
pertinacity of the Old Man of the Sea, This 
is really a part of my miseries which I do not 
think you have ever taken into proper con- 
sideration, or sympathised with as the case de- 
serves. If you would but pity me enough, you 
cannot imagine how consolatory I should find 

it 

"You would scarcely know Charles if you 
were to see him now ; he has broken forth into 
almost tameless vivacity. He wants very much 



MRS, HEMANS. 147 

to write to you, but I thought, as you hear from 
me so often, it would not be necessary to impose 
upon you so juvenile a correspondent. I was 
greatly shocked a few days since to hear of the 

death of Mrs. at Florence. It seemed 

quite suddenly, in one of those spasms of the 
heart which the physicians had predicted would 

end fatally ; and Mr. has returned alone 

to England. Just at this time last year I was 
with them, witnessing all their preparations for 
their Italian journey. I remember his being 
very much affected by a verse which I played 
and sung 

' She faded 'midst Italian flowers, 
The last of that bright band/ 

I have got into a shocking habit, for which you 
will not thank me, of crossing my letters ; but I 
always fancy I have so much to say when I 
write to you, that the paper is never half long 
enough. Will you tell that I shall cer- 
tainly make her first lady of the wardrobe, for 
her skill in choosing silks, whenever my long- 

H 2 



148 



MEMORIALS OF 



expected accession to the throne takes place. I 
am going this evening, for two or three days, to 
Grasmere ; but if I do not fall into Dungeon 
Ghyll, which I am to visit thence, I shall be 
back at Dove's Nest on Sunday. 

" Ever faithfully yours, 

" FELICIA HEMANS." 



After having remained for some weeks at 
Dove Nest, Mrs. Hemans was induced, by 
pressing invitations, again to visit Scotland. Of 
this second northern journey, I have but few 
memorials: the greater part of her time was 
spent at Milburn Tower, the seat of her vene- 
rable friend, Sir Robert Liston, whence the 
following fragments were written. 

" Mr. Jeffrey called upon me yesterday, and 
I was unluckily gone to Edinburgh, but we dine 
with him on Friday. I anticipate much enjoy- 
ment from his brilliance, but do hope he will not 



MRS. HEMANS. 149 

quiz Wordsworth.* I could not bear that after 
the affectionate interest shown me by the latter, 
and continued to the very last moment of my 
stay in the neighbourhood. . . I rejoice that 
you have been so much pleased with Miss Kem- 
ble, it is so delightful to submit one's mind, fully, 
entirely to the spell of genius. I never could 
understand the pleasure of criticising. I have 
one thing more to say before I conclude. You 
will probably, in consequence of my visit to 
Scotland, hear reports with regard to a change 
of residence for me ; be assured, that feeling 
towards you as towards a most valued friend, I 

* The following extract from a subsequent letter 
refers to the visit in question. 

" We passed a delightful day, our host being in the 
full glow of conversation, unequalled in rapid bril- 
liance of imagery and illustration, (something like 
Paganini's lightning passages ;) yet so easy, playful, 
and natural, that its brightness never seemed in the 
least fatiguing, which that of almost all the other spark- 
ling people I ever met, at some time or other appeared 
to me." 



150 MEMORIALS OF 

should communicate to you any change of im- 
portance on which I had resolved, and therefore 
believe nothing that you do not hear from my- 
sel 

" Most truly yours, 

F. HEMANS." 



..." Imagine my dismay on visiting Mr. Flet- 
cher's sculpture-room, on beholding at least six 
Mrs. Hemans, placed as if to greet me in every 
direction. There is something absolutely fright- 
ful in this multiplication of one's self to infinity. 
Apropos de bottes, Mr. Fletcher is anxious to 
know whether his ( images', as Mr. 's ser- 
vants call them, are well placed in the Liverpool 
exhibition, and I promised that I would ask you 
to call there some day and judge for him. Will 
you write and let me know ? Oh how I wish you 
could be here ! how you would love this fair 
place with all its gorgeous flowers and leafy 
stillness !" 



MRS. HEMANS. 151 

It was during this visit at Milburn Tower, 
that Mrs. Hemans formed a friendship, which 
led her to visit Dublin on her way homeward ; 
and ultimately to decide on removing her resi- 
dence from Wavertree to that city. The change, 
it will be seen, was, on the whole, beneficial. 
She was sure to attach to herself kind and 
energetic friends wherever she went ; and no re- 
sidence in a town could be more thoroughly 
exhausting and unprofitable than was hers at 
Wavertree a village, but possessing not one 
single privilege or advantage which belongs to 
the country. Before, however, this step was 
finally arranged, Mrs. Hemans passed over into 
Wales, the last time she ever visited the home 
of her youth, to consult her brother upon the 
subject : and it was late in the year ere she re- 
returned to us, with the saddening news that 
her departure from our neighbourhood was 
determined upon. 



152 



MEMORIALS OF 



CHAPTER V. 



Fragments of correspondence Journey through An- 
glesey Aurora Borealis Light-house Passage 
from Mr. Bowdler's writings Monument by Thor- 
waldsen Personification in art and poetry Goethe 
Rogers ' " Italy " Titian's portraits Longevity 
of artists Lessons in music Evening spent with a 
celebrated linguist Mr. Roscoe Mr. Hare's pam- 
phlets Gibbon's " Sappho" Character of Mrs. He- 
mans in the "Athenaeum" Life and Letters of 
Weber The repose of old portraits Young's Ham- 
let The Cyclops proved light-houses Howitt's 
"3ook of the Seasons "Poetical tributes Wan- 
dering female singer Wearisome dinner-party 
Mrs. Hemans' pleasure in composing melodies 
" Prayer at Sea after Battle" Preparations for her 
departure from EnglandShelley's poems Vulgar 



MRS. HEMANS. 153 

patronage Collection of drawings "Tancredi" 
Discontinuance of pensions from the Royal Society 
of Literature. 

THE winter which followed this long absence, 
so important in its consequences to the happi- 
ness of the few remaining years of Mrs. Hemans' 
life, on the whole, passed over rather sadly. 
The state of a person about to make any change 
in life, be it only a change of residence, must 
always be one of unsettlement and restraint: 
the mind is strangely divided between what it is 
giving up, and what it is hoping to gain ; and it 
is difficult to sit down and undisturbedly enjoy 
the passing hours when they are felt to be last 
hours. It is true that Mrs. Hemans constantly 
spoke of frequent visits to England; that she 
fancied the distance between Liverpool and 
Dublin was not so great as finally to close, 
though it might interrupt, her intercourse with 
those who, for so long a time, had been' almost 
her daily companions ; but the old communion 
was broken, and we could not but feel, that 

H 5 



154 



MEMORIALS OF 



though she still remained among us, as gracious, 
as affectionate as ever, her thoughts were ho- 
vering round the new home, in which she looked 
to find the repose and the shelter which had 
been denied to her in our busy, commercial 
neighbourhood. In procuring the advantages of 
education for her sons, she expected, and with 
reason, to be more fortunate than she had been 
in Liverpool. 

Of the fragments of correspondence, which 
follow, the larger portion were addressed to one 
of her new Irish friends. They require no fur- 
ther prefatory remark. 



" I thought Anglesey, through which I tra- 
velled the next day, without exception, the most 
dreary, culinary-looking land of prose I ever 
beheld. I strove in vain to conjure up the 
ghost of a Druid, or even of a tree, on its wide 
mountainous plains, which, I really think, Na- 
ture must have produced to rest herself after the 



MRS. HEMANS. 155 

strong excitement of composing the Caernarvon- 
shire hills. But I cannot tell you how much 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 su- 
perior, I assure you, in c shape and feature,' to 
our friend Ben Lomond,) maintaining his 'pride 
of place 7 above the whole ridge. And the 
Menai bridge, which I thought I should scarcely 
have noticed in the presence of those glorious 
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 appearance, 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 looks so fragile, to the immense 

depth below My journey lay along 

the sea-shore rather late at night, and I was 
surprised by quite a splendid vision of the 



156 MEMORIALS OF 

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 delicate green : and sometimes 
the motion was changed, and they chased each 
other along the edge of the cloud, with a daz- 
zling 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 some- 
thing to me particularly stern and solemn in its 



MRS. HEMANS. 157 

appearance, as it rose darkly against a very wild 
sky, like a 'pillar of cloud' with a capital 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." 



"Your opinion of the 'Spirit's Return' has 
given me particular pleasure, because I prefer 
that poem to anything else I have written : but 
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." * 



* " I have just been much struck with this 
passage, from a work of the late John Bowdler's : 

* I cannot but point to this passage as indicating 
the first dawning of that healthier and loftier state of 
mind, to which Mrs. Hemans rose during the few last 
years of her life. She had always been submissive to 



158 MEMORIALS OF 

I cannot help, in some measure, applying it to 
myself: ' Could the veil which now separates 
us from futurity be drawn aside, and those re-^ 
gions 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.' " 



" Truly, in this capital to the land of Prose, 
there is not much to gratify a feeling for the 
beautiful; but I should have liked you to have 
been with me a few days since, when I went to 

the vicissitudes of her lot : but she had yet to learn to 
contemplate them with serenity. 



MRS. REMANS. 159 

visit a monument by Thorwaldsen, lately arrived 
here. It represents a dying female, supported 
by her husband, who is bending over her. No- 
thing can be more admirable than the perfect 
abandon of her figure, the utter, desolate help- 
lessness of the sinking head and hands, so true 
and yet so graceful: it is like looking at a 
broken flower. But, unfortunately, the sculptor 
has thought proper to introduce a man with 
wings and an hour-glass, at the foot of the 
couch, looking not one bit more ideal than the 
man without wings at the head. Now I never 
could, in my severest illness and most visionary 
state of mind, imagine either Time or Eternity 
entering my room with the doctor or one of my 
brothers, and standing at my. bed-side: and I 
heartily wish that some skilful exorcist would 
banish these evil genii from the realms of paint- 
ing and sculpture altogether, and lay them qui- 
etly, with other goblins, at the bottom of the Red 
Sea." 



160 MEMORIALS OF 

Mrs. Hemans' dislike to all allegorical per- 
sonification was great. I hardly remember, even 
in her very earliest poems, written at the time 
when, paradoxical as it may seem, the most ar- 
tificial forms and images are most in request a 
single instance of her having recourse to the 
Muses, or the Graces, or the Virtues, or any of 
the established divinities. In another letter, 
written about this time, she gaily says, " I quite 
agree with you as to personification in poetry. 
I would send them all, from the ' Nymph with 
placid eye,' even to c Inoculation, heavenly maid," 
along with the marble Times and Eternities, 
down the Red Sea, for ever and a day." 

The next note, it will be seen, refers to the 
same subject. 

" My dear , 

"I was very remiss in not sooner acknow- 
ledging the arrival of the little parcel duly con- 
veyed by Claude, and thus causing you so much 
additional trouble ; but I came home late and 



MRS. HEMANS. 161 

tired on Friday evening, which prevented my 
writing, and I had a vague idea I should see 
some of you on Sunday. 

" I went with Mrs. to town the other 

day, and found she was going to visit Thorwald- 
sen's work. I was sorry to relinquish the idea 
of seeing it with you, but its beauty, truth, and 
simplicity charmed me greatly. The only thing 
I disliked was the man with wings, whom I 
thought very inferior to the man without them, 
on the other side of the monument ; but the per- 
fect abandon of the dying figure is admirable. 
I think the subject you suggested for sculpture, 
though a very noble one, would rather want 
some central point, something for the eye and 
mind to rally round at once. What can we have 
for the principal figure ? We must decide upon 
this point when next we meet, which I hope will 
be very soon. Poor Goethe ! how sad to think 
that so calmly bright a career should have so 
stormy a close ! It will be almost like parting 
with a familiar face to know that he is indeed 



162 MEMORIALS OF 

gone. I had read the passage to which you re- 
fer in e Carlyle,' and mentioned it to my informant, 
on the subject of his infidelity ; but no argument 
could pierce through the thick mantle of self- 
complacency in which he had been pleased to 
wrap himself." . . . 



The prospect of Goethe's death was a thing 
deeply to affect one who valued his writings with 
such entire and reverential sincerity as Mrs. 
Hemans. A few months previous to this time, 
she had collected the best of her poems, with 
the intention of offering them to the sage of 
Weimar: some chance or misadventure, how- 
ever, prevented their reaching their destination. 



. . . " Have you seen Rogers' { Italy, 1 
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 moon-lit vestibules and pillared arcades, the 



MRS. HEMANS. 168 

shadows of which seem almost trembling on 
the ground as you look at them, really might be 
fit representations of Armida's enchanted gar- 
dens : and there is one view of the temples of 
Paestum, standing in their severe and lonely 
grandeur on the shore, and lit up by a flash of 
lightning, which brought to my mind those lines 
of Byron, 

f 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, 
6 which gives the superiority to those portraits 
over all others, and stamps them with a living 
and permanent interest. Whenever you turn to 
look at them, they appear to be looking at you. 



164 MEMORIALS OF 

There seems to be some question pending be- 
tween you, as if an intimate friend or an invete- 
rate foe were in the room with you. They 
exert a kind of fascinating power, and there is 
that exact resemblance in individual nature 
which is always new and always interesting/ 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 
history!'" 



" The account which you sent me 

i 

of the longevity of artists, (a privilege which I, 
at least, am far from envying them,) seemed con- 
firmed or rather accounted for, in some degree, 
by a paper I was reading on the same day. It 
is written, with great enthusiasm, on the ' Plea- 
sures 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 com- 
munion with nature as sufficient to fill the void, 



MRS. HEMANS. 165 

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 extremely disagreeable." . . 



* " I am taking lessons in music 

from James Z. Herrmann, who comes to me 

* This gentleman, an artist in the best sense of the 
word, had already set two of Mrs. Hemans' songs to 
music of a very high order. The " Far away" is one 
of the most exquisite things we have in the shape of 
music joined with English words ; and the " Dirge at 
Sea," (though almost placed out of popular reach by 
the difficulty of its accompaniment,) is a noble and 
characteristic song to some of her most spirited words. 
Opportunity and energy are alone wanting to place 
Mr. Herrmann in the first rank of modern composers. 



166 MEMORIALS OF 

every week, and I should like him as a master ex- 
ceedingly, 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. I am 
learning Pergolesi's noble * Stabat Mater,' which 
realizes all that I could dream of religious 
music, and which derives additional interest from 
its being the last work in which the master- 
spirit breathed forth its enthusiasm." . . . 



" Since I last wrote to you, I 

have received a visit from a remarkable person, 
with whom I should like to make you acquaint- 
ed His mind is full, even to over- 
flowing, of intelligence and original thought. It 

is , the distinguished linguist, of whom I 

shall speak : besides his calling upon me, I also 
passed an evening in his society, and he talked 
to me the whole time. I do not know when I have 



MRS. HEMANS. 167 

heard such a flow of varying conversation odd 
original brilliant animating; any and every 
one of these epithets might be applied to it ; it 
is like having ajlood of mind poured out upon 
you, and that, too, evidently from the strong ne- 
cessity of setting the current free, not from any 
design to shine or overpower. 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 Jill the airs of the south, from the 
constant 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 anec- 
dotes of a bandit chief in Murcia, a sort of 
Spanish Rob* Roy, who has carried on his pre- 
datory warfare there for many years, and is so 



168 MEMORIALS OF 

adored by the peasantry, for whose sake he 
plunders the rich, that it is impossible for the 
government ever to seize upon him. Some ex- 
pressions of the old Biscayan language, the 
Basque he called it, which he translated for me, 
I thought beautifully poetical. The sun is 
called, in that language, 6 that which pours the 
day,' and the moon, ' the light of the dead/ 
Well, from Spain he travelled, or rather shot 
offi like Robin Good-fellow, who could 

{ put a girdle round about the earth 
In forty minutes.' 

away to Iceland, and told me of his having seen 
there a MS. recording the visit of an Icelandic 
prince to the court of our old Saxon king, Athel- 
stan then to Paris (not the Iceland prince, 

but ) Brussels Warsaw with a sort of 

' Open Sesame,' for the panorama of each court 
and kingdom. All I had to complain of was, 
that, being used to a sort of steam-boat rapidity, 
both in bodily and mental movements, , 



MRS. HEMANS. 169 

while gallantly handing me from one room to 
another, rushed into a sort of gallopade which 
nearly took my breath away. On mentioning 
this afterwards to a gentleman who had been 
of the party, he said, ' What could you expect 
from a man who has been handing armed Croats 
instead of ladies, from one tent to another ? for 
I believe it is not very long since my ubiquitous 
friend visited Hungary.' A striking contrast to 
all this, was a visit I lately paid to old Mr. 
Roscoe, who may be considered quite as the 
father of literature in this part of the world, 
though it must be owned that his child is at 
present in anything but a flourishing state. 
However, 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 

VOL. II. I 



170 MEMORIALS 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 subject. I must, however, confess my 
ill-behaviour, notwithstanding all the respect 
with which the scene inspired me. The good 
old gentleman was showing me a series of en- 
gravings from the early Italian masters, and 
pointing out very gravely the characteristic dif- 
ferences of style, when, all at once, upon his un- 
rolling one which represents Hercules distress- 
ingly placed between a dowdy Virtue, and a 
great fat Pleasure, I was so strongly reminded 
of a scene which you may remember, that I 
burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Mr. 
Roscoe, a good deal perplexed apparently, asked 
the cause, and as it was impossible to ex- 
plain to him the whole mystery, I could only 
reply, looking as good as I could, 6 that it really 
was impossible to help laughing at Pleasure's 
gouty-looking feet/ " 



MRS. HEMANS. 171 

. ..." I send you two pamphlets by 
Mr. Julius Hare, (a friend of Wordsworth's,) 
which I think you will admire for their high 
tone of eloquence ; although the subject of one 
of them, the Defence of Niebuhr,* will probably 
not interest you much more than it did myself. 
There are, however, some noble passages, trans- 
lated from ' Niebuhr's Appeal to the German 
People,' which almost, as Sir Philip Sidney 
said of Chevy Chace, ' stir the heart like the 
sound of a trumpet.' The other work of Mr^ 

* At this time Mrs. Hemans only regarded Niebuhr 
as one of the iconoclasts as merely a sceptical in- 
quirer into the traditions of antiquity ; and it will be 
remembered with what small complacency or tolera- 
ration she was prepared to regard any destroyer of the 
ancient legends in which her imagination took such 
great delight. The details of the Roman historian's 
private life, the traits of his character, which have 
shown to us the simple and amiable man, as well as 
the severe and laborious scholar, had not then been 
given to the public. 

I 2 



172 MEMORIALS OF 

Hare's is a sermon called c the Children of 
Light."' .... 



. . . . " 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 ex- 
quisite piece of sculpture, which has been lately 
sent to this neighbourhood from Rome, by Gib- 
son, with whose name as an artist you are most 
likely familiar. It is a statue of Sappho, repre- 
senting her at the moment she receives the 
tidings of Phaon's desertion. I think I prefer 
it to almost anything 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 



MRS. HEMANS. 173 

piercingly and sorrowfully of the nothingness of 
fame, at least to woman. There was a good col- 
lection of pictures in the same house, but they 
were almost unaccountably vulgarized in my 
sight by the presence of the lonely and graceful 
statue." 



. ..." I send you a number of the Athenaeum, 
(which seems almost the best literary journal of 
the day,) for the sake of an account it contains 
of the Necker family and Madame de Stae'l, 
which I think particularly interesting. From the 
style, I imagine it to be written by a friend of 

mine, Miss Jewsbury I send another 

number, in which I think you will read with 
interest a paper, by the sudden appearance of 
which, with the portentous title Felicia He- 
mans,' I was somewhat startled yesterday morn- 
ing. Some parts of it are, however, beautifully 
written, though I hope you will quite enter into 
my feelings when I utterly disclaim all wish for 



174 MEMORIALS OF 

the post of ; Speaker to the Feminine Literary 
House of Commons."* 



. . . . " 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, f with extracts from his letters ; 

* In spite of the fault of taste in its very first sen- 
tence, here alluded to by Mrs. Hemans, the character 
in question (from the pen of Miss Jewsbury) is written 
with great truth, and elegance, and discrimination. It 
would be superfluous to quote from it, save, perhaps, 
the fanciful simile in its closing paragraph. " She is a 
permanent accession to the literature of her country ; 
she has strengthened intellectual refinement, and 
beautified the cause of virtue. The superb creeping- 
plants of America often fling themselves across the 
arms of mighty rivers, uniting the opposite banks by 
a blooming arch : so should every poet do to truth and 
goodness so has Felicia Hemans often done, and been, 
poetically speaking, a bridge of flowers." 

t In the Foreign Quarterly Review. 



MRS. HEMANS. 175 

the flow of affectionate feeling in these, the 
love he everywhere manifests of excellence for 
its own sake, the earnestness and truth of heart 
revealed 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 admire ? I shall play the waltz, 
and those beautiful airs from Der Freischutz, 
with tenfold pleasure after reading the me- 



. ..." 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 pre- 
dominant trait in every one of them ; not any 



176 MEMORIALS OF 

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 sweet- 
ness in the expression of modern portraits; 
they all look so eager, so restless, so trying to 
be tveillt; I wonder if this is owing to the 
feverish excitement of the times in which we 
live, for I should suppose that the world has 
never been in such a hurry during the whole 
course of its life before." .... 



.... "I wish I could be with you to see Young's 
performance 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 men- 
tion to you Goethe's beautiful remark upon it ? 
He says, that Hamlet's naturally gentle and 
tender spirit, overwhelmed with its mighty tasks 



MRS. HEMANS. 177 

and solemn responsibilities, is like a China vase, 
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 characterize 
the writings of his celebrated relative." .... 



.... " Some Quarterly Reviews have lately 
been sent to me, one of which contains an article 
on Byron, by which I have been deeply and sor- 
rowfully impressed ; his character, as there 
pourtrayed, 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 

i5 



178 MEMORIALS OF 

fearfully mingled character is but ruin the 
wreck of what might have been. 1 ' .... 



. ..." I hope you observed in one of the Edin- 
burgh Journals, which I lately sent you on that 
account, a precious theory of a distinguished 
engineer, that all the Cyclops of old were 
Light-Houses. So I suppose Ulysses only 
blew out the lantern, on a memorable occasion 
celebrated in the Odyssey: but then how the 
light-house Polyphemus came to run about the 
shore in that extraordinary manner, and made 
such a noise that he awoke all his brothers and 
cousin-beacons along the coast, Mr. Stevenson, 
the engineer, ought, I think, to have explained." 



Mrs. Hemans writes of Hewitt's " Book of the 
Seasons" as " a little book which has quite 
charmed me. Do you know, I think that the 



MRS. HEMANS. 179 

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 everything 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 
6 as the hart for the water-brooks.' " . 



. ..." I think you will have pleasure in reading 
the lines which have been lately addressed to 
me, by Dr. Butler, of Shrewsbury, whose name, 
as that of an elegant classic scholar, I dare say 
is familiar to you : I should be sorry not to dis- 
tinguish such a tribute from ..... and other 
effusions of the Poly-treacle school." 



Few writers have been approached with so 
much homage in rhyme as Mrs. Hemans. Most 



180 MEMORIALS OF 

of it was sickly and foolish enough to merit her 
whimsical epithet: every now and then, how- 
ever, she was touched by an effusion of pure 
feeling uttered in graceful verse, which showed 
all the brighter in contrast with other tributes 
she received. I believe the verses which she 
preferred above the rest, were some lines by Mrs. 
C. G. Godwin, which appeared in one of the 
annuals : but they could hardly be more heart- 
warm or welcome, than the poems, for there are 
more than one, addressed to her by her faith- 
ful and enthusiastic friend, Miss Jewsbury. A 
stanza or two from one of these may not be out 
of place here. 

" I know thee but a form of earth, 

I know thy wondrous mind, 
Linked ever by its tears and mirth 

To all of earthly kind ; 
A flower's thy strength, a child's thy glee, 

And all thy moods of heart, 
Though restless as the billowy sea, 

In beauty come and part. 



MRS. HEMANS. 181 

Thou art of earth in mind and will, 
Yet a soul's spell, a vision still. 



For thee, in knightly days of old 

Would many a lance have rung, 
And minstrels at the revel bold 

Thy beauty's triumphs sung ; 
But nobler far thy present meed, 

Famed with a mother's fame, 
And made to household hearts a need, 

Than all Romance may name, 
I called thee Rose, I called thee well, 
But woman's is thine own sweet spell." 

Lays of Leisure Hours. 



The next extract is without a date, but 
may be introduced here as accompanying 
a short series of letters to the same corres- 
pondent. 



182 MEMORIALS OF 
, TO MR. L 

" My dear Sir, 

" I could not but pity the unhappy state in 
which you must have concluded your last letter, 
with such a chorus as you describe 'beneath the 
windows ; in similar circumstances I lately sent 
out a servant to say that there was a sick lady 
in the house, who would infallibly expire at the 
very next blast of song, and the bagpipe, (for 
such was the leader of the barbaric crew,) with 
a humanity greater than could have been ex- 
pected from its savage education, immediately 
departed. One sometimes does hear a sweet 
female voice among a wandering band, and then 
I think the ideas of desolation and homeless- 
ness, with which it is associated, makes the 
sounds very touching : one such voice came 
to my ears lately on a very stormy evening : it 
was uncultivated, as you may suppose, but had 
a mournful and piercing sweetness, which, ming- 
ling as it did with the fitful gusts of the storm, 
lingered some time in my imagination, and 



MRS, HEMANS. 183 

gave rise to the little song* I enclose : if you 
think it suitable to music it shall be your own, 

as no one has yet seen it I dined the 

other day O what a day ! what 

a crew of men ! Had I possessed the power of 
the Enchantress Queen in the Arabian Nights, 
I should certainly, like her majesty, have taken 
a little water in my hand, and throwing it by- 
turns in the face of each, have exclaimed, 
according to the necromantic formula, ' Quit 
the human form which thou disgracest, and 
assume that of an ox :' by these desirable means, 
had they been in my power, some insufferable 

* This was " To a wandering female singer." 

* * 

Thou hast wept, and thou hast parted, 

Thou hast been forsaken long, 
Thou hast watched for steps that came not back,, 

I know it by thy song. 

* * * * 

These lines are published among Mrs. Hemans' 
Poetical Remains. 



184 MEMORIALS OF 






men would have been got rid of, and some very 
good oxen (I have no doubt) joined to society.* 
I long to see your song of the Cid, which I feel 
assured will be, as Sir Walter Scott somewhere 
says, ' a strain to turn back the flight ;' neither 
the words of that or the other piece have been 
promised to any one, and you know I prefer 
their being accompanied by your music to any 
other attendance." 



About this time, Mrs. Hemans began to de- 
rive great pleasure from the discovery of a power 
which is always more or less possessed by those 
of a nature as musical as hers; that of com- 
posing melodies ; or, to speak critically, 

* In referring to a similar party in another letter, 
she says quaintly, " I can well conceive your suf- 
ferings yesterday ; the remembrance of my own on 
a nearly similar occasion, when I was ' bounded on the 

east, as geographers say, by , is yet but too 

vivid." . 



MRS. HEMANS* 185 

of putting together into a rhythmical form, 
such wandering and unclaimed fragments of 
music as float through the memory in fact, 
the difficulty is always rather to note down 
such fancies than to originate them. 

" The newly-discovered power," she says in 
a letter, " if such it may be called, to which I 
have alluded, is that of composing melodies, by 
which I have been visited in the strangest man- 
ner. I have really succeeded in putting down 
a great many airs to lyric pieces of my own, 
which, though simple, as you may suppose, yet 
seem to me to express the character of the 

words. Mr. L , to whom I showed them, 

was so much pleased, that he has kindly ar- 
ranged them with symphonies and accompani- 
ments, arrayed in which drapery they really 
make quite an imposing appearance, and I anti- 
cipate much pleasure in playing them to you, 
though I dare say I shall be visited with some 
nervous terrors when that awful moment arrives. 
But they have been really a great delight to me, 



186 MEMORIALS OF 

amidst a thousand annoyances which, as the 
Latin Grammar sagely observes, ' now to enur 
merate would be tedious.' I dare say Columbus 
was not much more rejoiced on discovering the 
New World, than I, when I had really caught 
and caged my first melody." . . . 



TO MR. L . 

" March 5th, 1831. 

" My dear Sir, 

" I send you the last song of our set. I re- 
member you wished for a boat-song, and I think 
this will be susceptible (I am sure that it is a 
wrong word, but I have no other word at hand) 
of good musical effect, which you will give so 
well. I hope you will find no family likenesses 
between tfs and Vs and v's strong enough to 
produce a Comedy of Errors. I return your 
musical Bijou; and feeling myself the happy 
possessor of two copies of last year's, I beg 
your acceptance of the one which accompanies 



MRS. HEMANS. 187 

your own back. The stream of melody has been 
in such full flow since you were here that I 
think my being on the eve of departure is ra- 
ther a fortunate circumstance for you, as other- 
wise these new inspirations would leave you no 
prospect of a quiet life. If you have no better 
engagement, do you think you could come here 
on Sunday evening? That monster known by 
the name of the People is tormenting me at pre- 
sent to such a degree, that I scarcely know when 
I shall have another evening. That 'mighty 
minster's bell,' really sounds so magnificent, that 
I am sure my story of the French artiste with 
the sauce piquante and the old slippers, must 
be a case exactly in point. . . A painful sus- 
picion is flashing over my mind that I am be- 
ginning to write more illegibly than ever. 
Before my words, therefore, are lost in a vapour 
of sublime obscurity, 

" Believe me very truly yours, 

F. H." 



188 MEMORIALS OF 

TO MR. L . 

"March 20th, 1831. 
" My dear Sir, 
" I have been making a noble effort to put 
down some of these melodies intelligibly, so as 
to save you some part of the very irksome task 
you have so kindly imposed upon yourself. I 
tried to perform this mighty deed according to 
the plan you recommended, and shall be very 
glad if you think I have given some token of 
dawning reason, and if any of the airs seem to 
you worth arranging. My own favourite is the 
Italian girl's hymn, though I cannot make my- 
self at all certain that it does not belong to 
some injured person whom I have uninten- 
tionally plundered. Do tell me if this measure 
would be intractable for composition. 

' A voice of prayer arose 
Through evening's bright repose, 

When the sea-fight was done : 
The sons of England knelt, 
With hearts that now could melt, 
For on the wave the battle had been won. 



MRS. HEM AN S. 189 

Round their tall ship the main 
Heaved with a dark red stain, 

Caught not from sunset's cloud ; 
While with the tide swept past 
Pennon and shivered mast, 
Which to the Ocean Queen that day had bowed.' 

" I wrote the piece a short time since with the 
title of 4 Prayer at Sea,' and was more pleased 
with it than I often am with my own perform- 
ances. I should particularly like to have it set 
by you, if you do not object to the matter, as 
otherwise I fear it will be caught and sacrificed 
by some ignoble hand. 



" A parenthesis in my letter occasioned by a 
visit three hours long, has completely driven out 
of my mind all the rest that I had to say. I 
am so wearied now, that I conclude like an 
Italian scena non posso piti. 

" Ever truly yours, &c. 

F. H." 



190 MEMORIALS OF 

TO MR. L . 

" March 22nd, 1831. 
My dear Sir, 

" I am very glad that you perceive some signs 
of advancing intellect in my musical MS. and 
still more rejoiced that you consent to rescue the 
lines I now inclose from their impending ruin. 

" I have the pleasure to inform you that you 
have attained a degree of indistinctness posi- 
tively 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, ( ter- 
ribly ill off for mysteries,' before the arrival of 
your note ; but this deficiency is now most hap- 
pily supplied. Reasoning from analogy instead 
of wisdom, (is not that a sentence worthy of 

himself?) 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 



MRS. HEMANS. 191 

the antiquarian system that 'consonants are 
changeable at pleasure and vowels go for nothing/ 
6 The force of nature can no further go ;' 
therefore, I return the awful hieroglyphic for 
your inspection, and unless it should be intended 
to emulate that celebrated hand of Mr. Jeffrey's, 
4 which is neither to be read by himself or any 
one else,' I beg for some further light/' 



" March 31st, 1831. 

" My dear Mr. , 

" I was not able to send you the book yester- 
day, but it does itself the pleasure of waiting 
upon you this morning, and is accompanied by a 
Literary Souvenir, which I beg you to accept 
and keep 6 for ever and a day' in remembrance 
of me. I also send you a relic which I am sure 
you will value, a note of Reginald Heber's, with 
some advice respecting the plot of a tragedy on 



192 MEMORIALS OP 

which I had consulted him : as I have several 
other papers and letters of his, I can well spare 
you this, and am sure that no one will prize it 
more. 

" I am beginning to be much engaged with 
the troublesome preparations for my departure. 
Certainly poetry is a mere waif and stray" in 
this work-day world of ours ; when I find my 
unfortunate self surrounded by trunks and boxes, 
and packing cases, and bills and accounts, 
and other such uncouth monsters, I get per- 
fectly bewildered, and wonder into what terra 
incognita I have been transported. Is it not 
very disagreeable to waken out of one's plea- 
sant ideal world, and find that one must do 
things for one's self after all, and notwithstand- 
ing all the protestations of a hundred knights 
and squires who declare that their c swords shall 
leap out of the scabbard' at a single word, in 
one's cause ? Pray are you at all superstitious ? 
I am perfectly haunted by an ominous verse of 
Campbell's 



MRS. HEMANS. 193 

' The boat hath left a stormy land, 

A stormy sea before her ; 
*But O, too strong for human hand, 
The tempest gathered o'er her.' 

and wonder what it bodes me. I am expecting 
one pleasure in the midst of all these plagues, a 

visit from my old friend Sir , who is coming 

to see me next week on his way to town. If I 
have an opportunity, I should like to introduce 
him to you. He is to dine with the King on the 
1st of April, and with me I hope (what a pi- 
quant contrast !) on the 6th." . . . . . 



TO MR. L . 

"April 3rd, 1831. 
" My dear Sir, 
" I send you the other volume of Shelley, 

* The two last lines have been added to make the 
quotation clear to those, if such there be, who may 
not happen to be familiar with the verse it is from 
" Lord Ullin's Daughter." 

VOL. li. K 



194 



MEMORIALS OF 



which I stupidly forgot to bring yesterday. I 
think you will admire the earnest eloquence of 
Mrs. Shelley's preface ; and the lines written in 
the Bay of Naples seem to me quite a union of 
music and picture in poetry. Can anything be 
more beautiful than 

' The lightning of the noon-tide ocean 
Is flashing round me, and I hear 
The music of its measured motion ?' 

I do not think I can leave this citta dolente 
(Wavertree, I mean, for I must remain in Liver- 
pool some days longer) until Saturday next, so 
that I hope you will have quite time to read all that 
is interesting in the volume. When I returned 
home yesterday, I indulged the incendiary tastes 
I had confessed to you, by making a large bonfire 
of letters. The quantity of sentiment that went 
to heap the pyre was prodigious, and would, I 
am sure, have filled c twelve French romances, 
neatly gilt.' Did you observe any lurid tinge of 
conflagration in the skies above ? Amongst 



MRS. HEMANS. 195 

these records, half-melancholy, half ludicrous, of 
past follies and fancies and dreams, I found two 

letters from , which I thought had been 

destroyed long since. I was going to add them 
to my beacon-fire, but I thought, as curious 
traits of character, I would show them to you 
first. Can you conceive anything so innately, 
so unutterably vulgar, as the style of mind they 
betray ? the attempt at patronage, the low-bred 
enumeration of great names, which, so arranged, 
almost remind me of the list in the Bath Guide, 

' Lord Cram and Lord Vultur, 
Sir Brandish O'Cultur, 
With Marshal Carowzer 
And old Lady Mouser.' 

I answered these precious documents, certainly 
without unpoliteness, but with some portion of 
what Miss Jewsbury calls my 'passive disdain,' 
a quality in which she considers me particularly 
rich. If you will bring them with you to- 
morrow evening, we will make another confla- 
gration/' . ... 

K 2 



196 



MEMORIALS OF 



TO MR. L- 



"April 6th, 1831. 
" My dear Sir, 

" I return [to you the very interesting collec- 
tion of Mr. 's drawings, which I had great 

pleasure in looking over yesterday evening. I 
only regret that there were no names to them, 
as I am prevented from particularising those 
which I most admired ; but I recognized Tivoli, 
and was especially struck with one representing 
the interior of a church. There is also an ex- 
quisite little hermitage buried among trees, 
where I should like to pass at least a month 
after all 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 Henry 
brought me about the dedication or advertise- 
ment to those drawings. Did Mr. wish 

to ask my opinion of it ? I am just the reverse 
of lago, who calls himself ' nothing if not cri- 



MRS. HEMANS. 197 

ticalj but it seems to me that there is some little 
awkwardness in the commencement. ' Making 
the following drawings,' has rather an abrupt 
sound for the opening of a sentence, has it not? 

I cannot help feeling interested in Mr. 

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. I could not do it very soon, as I am 
likely to be hurried for some time, but probably 
he does not wish to publish his work imme- 
diately I fear I must give up the 

concert, I feel so inexpressibly weary from 
having to superintend a thousand things which 
I never thought of in my life before. I will try 
to have my harp sent to your care in a day or 
two, and I will also trouble you with the charge 
of some music-books. I send you a letter of 
Campbell's for your collection. I must only beg 



198 MEMORIALS OF 

you to keep it for yourself, and not to give it 


away." 



TO MR. L . 

" April 10, 1831. 

" I find that I must trouble you with the care 
of several more Italian books. I was compelled 
to choose between Tasso and Ariosto, and fear 
you will hardly approve my preference of the 
former, but there is much in the story of his 
sufferings which intensely interests me, and, 
perhaps, deepens my reverence for his poetry. 

" Will you laugh, or pity me a little, when I 
tell you that I absolutely cried this morning 
from mere fatigue? I think I never, not even 
in times of real affliction, felt my spirits so 
exhausted as at present. I would give anything 
to be going into the country, and to live among 
trees and flowers till I feel the spirit of poetry 
come back again it is quite put to flight by 
petty cares, which I think are almost as much at 



MRS. HEMANS. 199 

variance with it as fashionable dinners. There 
is a most severe and really well-written review 
in Eraser's Magazine this month, upon Moore's 
life of Byron." 



TO MR. L. . 

" April 19, 131. 

" My dear Sir, 

" I cannot tell you how much I shall value 
your beautiful token of remembrance :* nothing 
could be at once so acceptable to my tastes, and 
so delightfully associated with all my recollec- 
tions of you as this glorious opera 5 and I quite 
agree with you that it is impossible for anything 
so essentially full of beauty, so composed 'for 
eternity,' ever to become hackneyed to feeling 
and imagination, notwithstanding its countless 
wrongs from the hands of Goths, Vandals, and 
young ladies. You must not suppose, however, 
though I shall treasure this book more than 
all the others of my musical library that I shall 

* The Opera of Tancredi. 



200 



MEMORIALS OF 



need anything to remind me of you. One so 
haunted as I am by the ceaseless cry of Alone, 
alone,' retains no transitory remembrance of 
those who have had power sometimes to bid 
that voice be silenced. 

" You will be surprised to hear, that not- 
withstanding my healthful looks, of which you 
so cruelly informed me yesterday morning, Dr. 
, who visited me after you were gone, posi- 
tively forbid the intended excursion to Ince,* 
and gave me most serious admonitions with re- 
gard to that complaint of the heart from which 
I suffer. He says that nothing but great care 
and perfect quiet will prevent its assuming a 
dangerous character; and I told him that he 
might as well prescribe me the powdered dia- 
monds which physicians of the olden time or- 
dered for royal patients. I must own that this 
has somewhat deepened the melancholy impres- 
sions under which I am going to Ireland, for I 
cannot but feel assured that he is right. 

* The seat of Henry Blundell, Esq., famous for its 
fine collection of statuary. 



MRS. HEMANS. 201 

" Will you not dislike .... more than ever 
when I tell you that our friend Mr. Roscoe is. actu- 
ally to be deprived of a pension which he received 
from the Royal Society of Literature ? I learned 
this from the Mr. , whom I told you I ex- 
pected to see, but he begged me not to make it 
generally known at present. Mathias also, one 
of our most distinguished Italian scholars, now 
a very old man in narrow circumstances, is to 
undergo a similar privation. Is it not a miser- 
able piece of economy in an English king to re- 
trench a thousand a-year (for all these literary 
pensions amounted to no more) from men of let- 
ters in advanced age ? I feel quite grieved about 
Mr. Roscoe, for besides that I am afraid he can 
ill spare it, the wound to his feelings seemed to 
be so great. I can scarcely think of it without 
tears, when I recollect his touching expression of 
feebleness united with so much that is venerable. 
I mean to sail, if I possibly can, to-morrow, and 
shall write to you as soon as I am a little settled 
in Dublin, where I hope we shall meet in the 

K 5 



202 



MEMORIALS OF 



autumn. I have had a very good account of 
my two boys ; I am quite amused to hear from 

their master, that little has already excited 

a general musical taste in the school, and has 
actually persuaded all the boys to subscribe for 
a music-master." . 



MRS. HEMANS. '2Q3 



CHAPTER VI. 

Mrs. Hemans' departure from England Letters from 
Kilkenny Catholic and Protestant animosity Pic- 
tures at Lord Ormonde's Visit to Woodstock 
Parallel between the poems of Mrs. Hemans and 
Mrs. Tighe Raphael's great Madonna Kilfane 
Water-birds Deserted churchyard Visit to a Con- 
vent Passage in Symmons' Translation of the 
Agamemnon Kilkenny Irish politics " The 
Death-song of Alcestis" Dublin Musical Festival 
Paganini " Napoleon's Midnight Review" Fur- 
ther Anecdotes of Paganini Letters from the county 
Wicklow Glendalough The Devil's Glen Wood 
scenery Letters from Dublin Miniature by Robert- 
sonSociety of Dublin" The Swan and the Sky- 
lark " Difficulty in procuring new books. 

IN the spring of 1831, Mrs. Hemans took leave 
of England, for the last time. From this point, 



204 



MEMORIALS OF 



therefore, my memorials of her life and literary 
pursuits (always inseparably connected) must, of 
necessity, be slighter than those of the time of 
daily personal intercourse. But it was her 
happy fortune, wherever she went, to attach a 
few faithful friends to her, and it was her nature 
to prefer the society of those few to the suc- 
cess and celebrity which she might, at will, 
have commanded in wider and more brilliant 
circles. To one of the small household band 
which she drew around her in Dublin, I am 
largely indebted for details of the manner of 
her life and the direction of her mind, during 
the last years of her pilgrimage ; and for extracts 
from that familiar correspondence, in which she 
loved to journalize the thoughts and impressions 
of the passing hours, for the benefit of those for 
the time nearest and dearest to her. Her more 
general letters to her friends in England will 
readily be distinguished from these. 

After a short stay in Dublin, Mrs. Hemans 
paid a visit to her brother, who was then sta- 
tioned in the county of Kilkenny. The follow- 



MRS. HEMANS. 205 

ing letters were written while she was under his 
roof. 



TO MR. L . 

" Hermitage, near Kilkenny, June 21, 1831. 
" My dear Sir, 

" The sight of your letter awoke in me, I can 
assure you, not a few ' compunctious visitings,' 
as I think you must have imagined I had forgot 
past times and all your kindness to me. This 
is, however, far from having been the case; I 
have again and again both spoken of you and 
thought of you, and intended to write ; but I can 
give you no idea of the strange, unsettled, agi- 
tated life I have been leading since I came to 
this country : obliged, amidst a thousand inward 
anxieties, to give my time and attention to the 
claims of a new society; and perpetually inter- 
rupted by a state of health more tremulous than 
usual. I must not lead you to suppose that I 
have been altogether unhappy since my leaving 



206 MEMORIALS OF 

England : I have, on the contrary, found more of 
happiness and true kindness here than I have 
expected still peace and leisure have been far 
from me, and I have scarcely been able to write 
a line." 



" Hermitage, Kilkenny, June, 22nd, 1831. 
. . . . "I arrived here on Saturday last. 
I left Dublin with great regret, for amidst many 
anxieties much and unexpected happiness had 

met me there My brother is 

still in Clare, but we expect him very shortly. 

is a perfect heroine : she has sent her 

men servants out of the house to make room 
for my boys ; and we are quite unprotected ex- 
cept by my brother's name. I must say, / feel 
sometimes a little nervous at night, particularly 
after hearing of the attacks made upon houses 
to procure arms, with which our dwelling is 

known to be amply supplied This 

county is, however, tolerably quiet; but the 
spirit of hatred existing between Protestant and 



MRS. HEMANS. 207 

Papist, is what I could never have conceived 
had I not visited these scenes. Yesterday even- 
ing I was taking a quiet walk beside the beau- 
tiful river Nore, everything looking bright, and 
still, and peaceful around me, when I met one 
of my brother's men there with pistols stuck in 
his belt, which I was told he always carried, on 
account of his being a Protestant. I asked a 
young clergyman who visits us to attend me to 
a Catholic place of worship, as I wished to hear 
the service ; he said that he would most will- 
ingly escort me anywhere else, and, as far as 
his own feelings were concerned, would go with 
me even there, but probably the consequence 
would be the desertion of almost all his con- 
gregation. You may imagine that I did not 
choose to press the point. I hope in my next 
letter to send you the lines on Naples. I can- 
not tell you how much I regret being of so little 
use to you this year ; but my life, in this land of 
agitation, has partaken of all that characterises 
the country. I have indeed found some hap- 



208 MEMORIALS OF 

piness, for which I am grateful, but no peace, 
no leisure and have been scarcely able to write a 
line. Still I love Ireland, and feel that I shall do 
so, still more. My health has not improved lately. 
" I am most faithfully yours, 

" F. H." 



. . . . "I saw a few beautiful pictures 
at Lord Ormonde's the other day. One of those 
which struck me the most was a Madonna of 
Corregio's ; so still, so earnest, so absorbed in its 
expression of holy love, that it realized my 
deepest conception of the character. What I 
thought most remarkable was, that all this ex- 
pression is given to a countenance with nearly 
closed eyes, for the eyelids fall so heavily j l 
should rather say softly, over them." . . . 



. . . . " I wish to give you an account 
of a rather interesting day which I lately passed, 



MRS. HEMANS. 209 

before its images become feint in my recollec- 
tion. 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 magnifi- 
cent, 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 lighting up the 
deep woods with sudden flashes of its waves. 
Altogether it reminded me more of Haw- 
thornden, than any thing I have seen suice 
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 re- 
ception. The Chief Justice and many other per- 
sons had been invited to meet me, and I was to 
be made completely the lady of the day. There 
was no help for it, though I never felt so much 
as if I wanted a large leaf to wrap me up and 






210 MEMORIALS OF 

shelter me from all curiosity and attention. 
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 
version is very elegant We went to the tomb, 
' the grave of a poetess,' where there is a 
monument by Flaxman : it consists of a recum- 
bent female figure, with much of the repose, the 
mysterious sweetness of happy death, which is 
to me so affecting in monumental sculpture. 
There is, however, a very small Titania-\ook- 
ing sort of figure with wings, sitting at the head 
of the sleeper, and intended to represent Psyche, 
which I thought interfered wofully with the 
singleness of effect which the tomb would have 
produced : unfortunately, too, the monument is 



MRS. HEMANS. 211 

carved in a 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 

. " 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 lan- 
guage in which it is thus embodied, 

' Si nihil ulterius mundo, si sola voluptas 
Esset terrenis quid feret omnis Amor ?' 

I suppose the idea of an affection powerful and 
spiritual enough to over sweep the grave, (of 
course the beauty of such an idea belongs not 



212 MEMORIALS OF 

to me, but to the spirit of our faith,) is not to 
be found in the loftiest strain of any classic 
writer." . 



It could hardly be expected that such a visit 
as the one described in the foregoing extract 
should pass without its record. In an earlier 
letter, Mrs. Hemans had said, " I think I shall 
feel much interest in visiting 'the grave of a 

poetess.' her poetry has always 

touched me greatly, from a similarity which I 
imagine I discover between her destiny and my 
own." The lyric* which was written after 
she had seen a place already visited by her 
in imagination, contains little more than the 

* Published among the " National Lyrics," and 
beginning 

" I stood where the lip of song lay low, 
Where the dust had gathered on beauty's brow, 
Where stillness hung on the heart of love, 
And a marble weeper kept watch above." 



MRS. HEMANS. 213 

thoughts intimated in the letter, versified with 
some additional incident and imagery : and it 
may be noted as amongst the curiosities of au- 
thorship, that the earlier verses, produced under 
the strong influence of the imagination alone, 
are happier, because simpler, than those which 
may be called the offspring of memory. " The 
Grave of- a Poetess," (published among the 
" Records of Woman,") is throughout full of 
feeling, and of a spirit more cheerful, because 
better able to raise itself above the cares, and 
changes, and partings of earth, than that which 
breathes in the poems of the gifted but melan- 
choly author of " Psyche." Its moral is com- 
prehended in the two last stanzas. 

" Thou hast left sorrow in thy song, 

A voice not loud, but deep ! 
The glorious bowers of earth among, 

How often didst thou weep ! 

Where couldst thou fix on mortal ground, 
Thy tender thoughts and high ? 

Now peace the woman's heart hath found, 
And joy the poet's eye ! ' 



214 MEMORIALS OF 

On turning again to the " Psyche," a poem 
full of musical verse, delicate thought, and 
happy personification, it has been impossible 
not to recognise the great general simila- 
rity of mind which existed between its author 
and Mrs. Hemans : whether in her mood 
of hope and buoyancy, and complete aban- 
donment to the art in which she was so well 
skilled, or in her sadder hours of lonely thought, 
and night-watching, and melancholy " panting 
upon the thorns of life.' 1 The stanza, for in- 
stance, which opens the fifth canto of the 
" Legend of Love," has an enthusiasm and har- 
mony of numbers common to both. 

" Delightful visions of my lonely hours, 
Charm of my life, and solace of my care ! 

Ah ! would the muse but lend proportioned powers, 
And give the language, equal to declare 
The wonders which she bids my fancy share, 

"When, wrapt in her, to other worlds I fly, 
See angel-forms unalterably fair, 

And hear the inexpressive harmony, 

That seems to float on air, and warble through the sky." 



MRS. HEMANS. 215 

Again, in the " Verses written at the com- 
mencement of the Spring of 1802," there is a 
remarkable coincidence of sentiment, and even 
of imagery, with Mrs. Hemans' " Breathings of 
Spring ; v * one of those poems in which her 
deepest and most abiding feelings were uncon- 
sciously uttered. In both the sights and sounds 
of the season are invoked in both is wrought 
out Byron's most beautiful, yet most bitter 
thought, 

' I turned from all she brought, to all she could not 
bring !' 

but far the most fully and sweetly by the later 
poetess, as, turning from the "fairy-peopled 
world of flowers " and " the bright waters," and 

. . . * . " the joyous leaves 
Whose tremblings gladden many a copse and glade/' 

she asks, earnestly and sadly, 

" But what awak'st thou in the heart, O spring ! 
The human heart, with all its dreams arid sighs., 

* Published with the " Records of Woman." 



216 MEMORIALS OF 

Thou, that giv'st back so many a buried thing, 

Restorer of forgotten harmonies ; 
Fresh songs and scents break forth where'er thou art, 
What wak'st thou in the heart ? 

" Too much, O there too much ! We know not well 

Wherefore it should be thus but, roused by thee, 
What fond, strange yearnings, from the soul's deep 

cell 

Gush for the faces we no more shall see ; 
How are we haunted in the wind's low tone, 
By voices that are gone ! 

" Looks of familiar love, that never more, 
Never on earth, our aching eyes shall greet, 

Past words of welcome to our household door, 
And vanished smiles and sounds of parted feet ; 

Spring, 'mid the murmurs of thy flowering trees, 
Why, why reviv'st thou these ? 

" Vain longings for the dead !".... 

The parallel between the writings of Mrs. 
Tighe and Mrs. Hemans might be wrought out 
to a far greater extent ; but it is better to indi- 



MRS. HEMANS. 217 

cate than to exhaust. Those who are interested in 
comparative criticism will, I think, find that 
there is a difference of twenty years of the his- 
tory of poetry between the imagery and epithets 
employed by these two accomplished women. 
In the sonnet, perhaps, Mrs. Tighe has the ad- 
vantage, Mrs. Hemans never having wholly at- 
tained the power of compression which is a 
requisite essential to compositions of this diffi- 
cult but exquisite class. On the other hand, most 
of the poems by the authoress of " Psyche" ad- 
dressed to individuals, or written to commemorate 
some particular domestic trial or blessing, sin- 
cere and earnest though they be, are less touch- 
ing than the more indistinct allusions to the ten- 
derness of a mother, to the sweet confidence be- 
tween sisters, to the reliance of woman upon him 
she loves worthily, and to the desolateness of 
heart when change or death sever any of these 
holy ties, which are to be found in Mrs. He- 
mans' lyrics and scenes, and which may be all 
considered but as so many utterances of her own 

VOL. II. L 



218 



MEMORIALS OF 



feelings. How much more healthy, indeed, is 
the dispensation under which poets live now, 
when feeling and emotion are, as it were, fused 
into verse, while the sacredness of the secret 
heart is respected ; than that under which sorrow 
and joy were openly parcelled out, and paraded 
in the "light of common day ;" when strains of 
lamentation for the heaviest affliction, or of that 
joy with which no stranger should intermeddle, 
were publicly poured forth, without reserve, and, 
may it not almost be surmised, without much deep 
or sincere feeling ? As an instance, let Miss 
Seward's pompous elegy on the death of her 
early-called sister, whose name, for the occasion, 
was refined into " Alinda," be compared with 
" the Graves of a Household," or the " Haunted 
Mansion," and our writers and readers will 
have no cause to regret the more natural days in 
which they live. 

Before returning from this digression to cor- 
respondence and anecdote, it may be mentioned, 
that another proof of the deep and peculiar in- 



MRS. HEMANS. 219 

terest with which Mrs. Hemans regarded Mrs. 
Tighe, may be found in a sonnet, (published 
among the " Poetical Remains,") on " Records of 
immature genius," which was written after 
reading some of her earlier poems in manuscript. 
It might be applied with strict and beautiful 
significance to all but the latest works of its 
writer. 

' Oh ! judge in thoughtful tenderness of those 
Who, richly dowered for life, are called to die 

Ere the soul's flame, through storms, hath won re- 
pose 

In truth's divinest ether still arid high ! 
Let their mind's riches claim a trustful sigh ! 

Deem them but sad sweet fragments of a strain, 
First notes of some yet struggling harmony, 

By the strong rush, the crowding joy and pain 
Of many inspirations met, and held 
From its true sphere." 



, ..." I do not think I mentioned to you hav- 

L 2 



220 MEMORIALS OF 

ing seen, at Woodstock, a large and beautifully 
painted copy of Raphael's ' great Madonna,' 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 the 4 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 beautiful place some 
miles from us. (I am very sorry that the neigh- 
bourhood has lately been seized with quite a 
mania of making parties for me.) Kilfane, how- 
ever, the scene of yesterday's reunion, is a very 
lovely spot, 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 



MRS. HEMANS. 221 

me think of another line of Spenser's, in which 
he speaks of the fair Una, as 

' Making- a sunshine in the shady place.' 

The house contains some interesting works of 
art ; amongst others, a very beautiful bust of 
Raphael, which was new to me. It is rather like 

what I think 's face might be in manhood ; 

the eye mild and earnest, the long hair widely 
parted, and the noble brow with that high intel- 
lectual serenity throned upon it, which I cannot 
but consider as characterizing the loftiest order 
of genius." . . ... 



. ..." I forgot to tell you of a beautiful remark 
that I heard made lately in conversation, (it is 
not very often one hears anything worth record- 
ing,) it came from the Chief Justice, when T met 
him at Kilfane ; I think it was with regard to 
some of Canova's beautiful sculpture in the 



222 MEMORIALS OF 

room, that he said, Is not Perfection always 
affecting f 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 tears." . . . 



" The graceful play of water-birds is 

always particularly 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 seem the lords of two 
elements. The enjoyment of having wings, and 
being able to bathe them too, this to*rrid weather, 
must be enviable : I have heard that in Corsica, 
the sun, during the dog-days, is called the ' Lion- 
Sun f I am sure his present dealings with us 
are quite lion-like in their ferocity." . . 



MRS. HEMANS. 223 

. . . " I have discovered a very striking 
scene in this neighbourhood since I last wrote 
to you a wild and deserted Catholic church- 
yard; but I believe I must describe it when I 
write next, that I may not be too late for this 
day's post." . . . 

. . . " 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 back- 
ground of sloping corn-fields and woods. It ap- 
peared smooth till near the summit, but was 
there crested almost castellated indeed by 
what I took for thickly-set, pointed rocks, but, 
on a near 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 ornaments themselves 



224 MEMORIALS OF 

but ruins. One of these, which had fallen 
amongst thick heath and wild-flowers, was sim- 
ply a wooden cross with a female name upon it, 
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 evening skies." . . '. 



. . . " I paid a visit some days ago to the 
convent here, but was told at the gate that I 
could not be admitted, as the ladies were not to 
speak a word for eight days.' In an unwonted 
spirit of self-congratulation, I turned away, and 
rather think that, actuated by the same spirit, / 
spoke words enough for eight days in the one 
following." .... 



MRS. HEMANS. 225 

. . ."I have just been reading in Black- 
wood some extracts from what seems to be a 
splendid translation of the Agamemnon of 
^Eschylus, by a Mr. Symmons. One passage, 
describing the beacon-fires which announce the 
taking of Troy, and send on the tidings from 
hill to hill, as the light borne in a torch-race, is 
really written I should rather say transfused 
into t words that burn.' * I am going to order 
the book, which I see is much commended for 

* Possibly this magnificent passage, so well ren- 
dered by the translator in question, may have arrested 
Mrs. Hemans' attention more forcibly than even its 
intrinsic power would warrant, by striking a peculiar 
chord of her imagination. Her descriptions of the 
effects of fire are always singularly impulsive and 
spirited. Thus in " The Bride of the Greek Isles/' 
(Records of Woman,) 

" Man may not fetter, nor ocean tame 
The might and the wrath of the rushing flame ! 
It hath twined the mast, like a glittering snake 
That coils up a tree from a dusky brake ; 

L 5 



226 MEMORIALS OF 

the fidelity, as well as poetic spirit, of the trans- 
lation." 



It hath touched the sails, and their canvas rolls 
Away from its breath into shrivell'd scrolls ; 
It hath taken the flag's high place in air, 
And reddened the stars with its wavy glare, 
And sent out bright arrows, and soared in glee, 
To a burning mount 'midst the moonlight sea." . . 

And again, in " The Shepherd Poet of the Alps," 
published among the " Poetical Remains " 

" Thus woke the dreamer one weary night 

There flashed through his dungeon a swift, strong 

light : 

He sprang up he climbed to the grating-bars, 
It was not the rising of moon or stars 
But a signal flame from a peak of snow, 
Rock'd through the dark skies to and fro. 
There shot forth another another still 
A hundred answers of hill to hill ! 
Tossing like pines in the tempest's way, 
Joyously, wildly, the bright spires play, 
And each is hailed with a pealing shout, 
For the high Alps waving their banners out !" 



MRS. HEM AN S. 227 

. " 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-lookiug population, must, I should 
think, be tremendous when in a state of excite- 
ment. Many things in the state of this country, 
even during its present temporary quiet, are 
very painful to English feeling. It is scarcely 
possible to conceive bitterness and hatred ex- 
isting in the human heart, when one sees nature 
smiling so brightly and so peacefully all round ; 
and yet those dark feelings do exist here to a 
degree which I could scarcely have believed 
possible. . . . Religion, or rather religious 
animosity, is carried to a height which I could 
not have conceived possible ; and I am some- 
times painfully reminded 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.' 



228 MEMORIALS OF 

But I will not dwell upon these dark sub- 
jects." . . 



From a further letter, dated Kilkenny, and 
written just before Mrs. Hemans returned to 
Dublin 

. . . " I am very glad to leave this place, 
with its wearisome politics, which seem to weave 
such a net over one's mind, that I have some- 
times felt as I imagine the redoubtable hero 
Gulliver must have done, with the countless, 
tiny threads of the Lilliputians entangling him 
in all directions. How intense is sometimes the 
wish for freedom, for nature, for ' the wings of 
the morning' to fly away, when narrow and 
worldly spirits are contending around one ! 
There is pain in that passionate desire, and yet 
I cannot but see in it the revelation of a higher 
nature, of a being which must have an immortal 



MRS. HEMANS. 229 

home, of a thirst which is not to be quenched 
but by ever-living waters." . . . 



During her visit to Hermitage, Mrs. Hemans 
wrote more than usual, possibly under the happy 
influence of the situation of her retreat and the 
scenery around it; a delightful contrast to the 
barren flatness of the environs of Liverpool. " I 
find it," she says, in one of her letters, " a pretty 
little cottage ; and though the surrounding 
country is rather pleasant than beautiful, still 
there is a sweet view from the upper win- 
dows, and in particular from mine: I see a 
blue range of mountains from where I am 
now sitting to write, and I hear the sounds of 
the river." Here she composed many scenes 
and lyrics, to one of which (the Death -song of 
Alcestis) an interesting allusion will be found in 
the next fragment. She was able to read, too, 
more uninterruptedly than she had done for 
some years. She now, for the first time, made 



230 



MEMORIALS OF 



friendship with Coleridge's collected works, to 
her great delight; and she was so much inte- 
rested with his correspondence with Sir H. 
Davy, which also came before her about this 
time, (in Dr. Paris' life of the philosopher,) 
as to transcribe a great part of it. It will be 
seen by the course of her reading, and the 
occasional notices of books which follow, that 
the tone of her mind was deepening, as well 
as becoming healthier; that an increased dis- 
position to consider the conditions which bind 
man to another and loftier destiny than he 
fulfils in this short-lived world, was taking the 
place of her former more exclusive and ima- 
ginative subjects of contemplation. The great 
truths of religion, in short, (I use the word in no 
sectarian sense,) were beginning to gain a posi- 
tive ascendency over her mind, to be regarded 
no longer as mere matters of speculation, high- 
toned and picturesque, but as the moving prin- 
ciples of her daily life. 



MRS, REMANS. 231 

. . . "It was with some difficulty that I 
refrained from making Alcestis express the hope 
of an immortal reunion : I know this would be 
out of character, and yet could scarcely imagine 
how love so infinite in its 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 of 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 comfort 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 struggles, 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.' Tell me 
if you like the thought." . . . 



232 MEMORIALS OF 

The Musical Festival, held in Dublin in the 
autumn of the year 1831, brought Paganini to 
that city. The humours of his reception there 
will never be forgotten by those who chanced to 
witness them; and it might be told how the 
light-hearted gossoons and girleens of Dublin 
crowded round his carriage, with fervent and 
noisy curiosity, equal, in its effect at least, to 
the more intelligently musical furore of the 
easily-moved population of the Italian cities ; 
how, upon his appearing at the theatre, where 
the performances were held, " the gods" insisted 
upon his mounting the piano-forte, that they 
might be treated with an ample and satisfactory 
view of his spectral and shadowy figure. But a 
more interesting, if less lively, description of the 
effect produced by his appearance, and his won- 
der-working music, will be found in the next 
extracts. 

. . . " To begin with the appearance of the 
'foreign wonder,' it is very different from what 



MRS. HEM AN S. 233 

the indiscriminating 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 
anything else, and his bearing altogether simple 
and natural. His first performance consisted of 
a tema, with variations, from the beautiful 
Preghiera in " Mose :" here I was rather disap- 
pointed, 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 wailing, 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 performance, on all the strings, 
that I could form a full idea of his varied magic 
A very delicate accompaniment on the piano did 



234 MEMORIALS OF 






not in the least interfere with the singleness of 
effect in this instance. The subject was the 
Venetian air, < Come to me when day-light 
sets' how shall I give you an idea of all the 
versatility, the play of soul, embodied in the 
variations upon that simple air? Imagine a 
passage of the most fairy-like delicacy, more 
aerial than you would suppose it possible for 
human touch to produce, suddenly succeeded by 
an absolute parody of itself ; the same notes re- 
peated with an expression of absolute comic 
humour, which forced me to laugh, however re- 
luctantly : it was as if an old man, the 'Ancient 
Mariner' himself, were to sing an impassioned 
Italian air, in a snoring voice, after Pasta. 
Well, after one of these sudden travesties, for 
I can call them nothing else, the creature would 
look all around him, with an air of the most de- 
lighted bonhommie, exactly like a witty child, 
who has just accomplished a piece of successful 
mischief. The pizzicato passages were also 
wonderful ; the indescribably rapid notes seemed 



MRS. HEMANS. 235 

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 inte- 
rest in the evening's performance ; a good deal 
of silvery warbling from Stockhausen, but I 
never find it leave any more vivid remembrance 
on rny mind than the singing of birds. I am 
wrong, however, I must except one thing, 
4 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 mid- 
night, and the peal of a ghostly trumpet arous- 
ing the dead hosts of Napoleon from their sleep 
under the northern snows, and along the 
Egyptian sands, and in the sunny fields of Italy. 
Then another trumpet-blast, and the chief him- 
self arises, c with his martial cloak around him, 1 * 



236 MEMORIALS OF 

to review the whole army; and thus it con- 
cludes ' the pass-word given is France ; the 
answer 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 feel- 
ings. Braham's singing was not equal to the 
instrumental part, but he did not disfigure it by 
his customary and vulgarizing graces." . . . 



In a subsequent letter, Mrs. Hemans again 
lingers upon the delight she had received from 
Paganini's matchless performances. 

. . . . " I enclose you a programme of 
the concert at which I again heard this triumph- 
ant music last night. It is impossible for me 
to describe how much of intense feeling its full- 
swelling dreamy tones awoke within me. His 



MRS. HEMANS. 237 

second performance (the Adagio a doppie corde) 
made me imagine that I was the\\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 languor of the long sostenuto 
notes, that it seemed as if the musician was 
himself about to let fall his instrument, and sink 
under the mastery of his own emotion. It re- 
minded me, by some secret and strange analogy, 
of a statue I once described to you, representing 
Sappho about to drop her lyre in utter desola- 
tion of heart. This was immediately followed 
by the rapid flashing music for the strings 
were as if they sent out lightning in their glee 
of the most joyous rondo by Kreutzer you can 
imagine. The last piece, the 'Dance of 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 scolding, half complaining and then would 
come a burst of wild, fantastic, half-fearful glad- 



238 MEMORIALS OF 

ness. I think Burns' Tarn O'Shanter 5 (not Mr. 
Thorn's by way of contrast to Sappho) some- 
thing of a parallel in poetry to this strange pro- 
duction in music. I saw more of Paganini'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 performance I described to you, but I 

received a very eloquent description from 

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 



MRS. HEMANS. 239 

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 conversation he had held with Paga- 
nini in a private circle. The latter was de- 
scribing to him the sufferings (do you re- 
member a line of Byron's, 

' The starry Galileo, with his woes,) 

by which he pays for his consummate excellence. 
He scarcely knows what sleep is, and his nerves 
are wrought to such almost preternatural acute- 
ness, 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 con- 
suming one ; in fact, he looks as if no other life 
than that etherial one of melody were circulating 
within his veins : but he added, with a glow of 
triumph kindling through deep sadness 6 mais 
c'est un don du ceil !' I heard all this, which 



240 MEMORIALS OF 

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 support them." .... 



The next extracts are dated from the county of 
Wicklow, at a later period of the same autumn. 

" I was very unwell for some 

days after my arrival here, as the mountains gave 
me so stormy a reception, 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 tojlood with its coloured glory. 



MRS. HEMANS. 241 

I could not help thinking that it was like our 
religion, piercing and carrying brightness into the 
depths of sorrow and of the tomb. All the rest 
of the scene round that one illumined spot, was 
wrapt in the most lowering darkness. My im- 
pressions of the country here have not hither- 
to been very bright ones but I will not yet 
judge of it: the weather is most unfavourable, 
and I have not quite recovered the effect of my 
first day's adventures. The day before yester- 
day, 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 ; particu- 
larly that where ' a round tower of other days ' 
rises amidst the remains of three churches, the 
principal one of which, (considered, I find, 
as quite the Holy of holies,) is thickly sur- 

VOL. II. M 



242 MEMORIALS OF 

rounded 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 transparency, 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 
following the course of this fall down very slip- 
pery mossy stones, I received from our guide 
(a female) the very nattering compliment of 
being ' the most courageousest and lightest-foot- 
edest lady ' she had ever conducted there. This, 
I think, is worthy of being recorded with the 
one paid me by Sir Walter Scott's old game- 
keeper, in the woods of Abbotsford. We after- 
wards went upon the lake, the dark waters and 
treeless shores of which have something impres- 
sive in their stern desolation, though I do not 
think the rocks quite high enough for grandeur. 



MRS. HEMANS. 243 

Several parties have been arranged for me to 
visit other celebrated scenes in the neighbour- 
hood, 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 these 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 

M2 



244 MEMORIALS OF 

Christians of old making their last stand, fight- 
ing 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 characteristics 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 Powerscourt. I think I love 
wood-scenery best of all others, for its kindly 
look of shelter." . 



{ s This chapter cannot be better closed than by 
a few letters addressed to her English friends, 
dated at a later period of the year, and in the 
course of the following spring. 



MRS, HEMANS. 245 

" 2, Upper Pembroke Street, Dublin, Nov. 5th. 

" My dear , 

" I cannot for a moment delay telling you of 
the kindly and touching memories which the 

sight of the (only just received) has 

excited in my mind. I am sure your friendship 
will have suggested any reason but forgetfulness 

for my long, long silence Be assured 

that these recollections are there for ever, 
though the sickness of the spirit makes me 
often seem very, very fitful in expressing them. 
I returned from the country rather wearied than 
refreshed, as I unfortunately found myself an 
object of much 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 experienced ; it was accompanied by almost 
daily fainting-fits, and a languor quite indescrib- 
able. From this state I have again arisen, and 



246 MEMORIALS OF 

that with an elasticity which has surprised 
myself. I am now much better: my friends are 
re-assembled for the winter, so that my spirits 
are in a far more composed state, and I do hope 
that I shall now be able to write to you much 

more frequently I shall write to you 

again in a day or two by a young artist, Mr. 
Robertson, whom I wish to introduce to your 
acquaintance, and it will give me pleasure if 
you can in any way serve. I think you will be 
interested in seeing a picture which he has 
lately painted of me, and another of Charles. 
The latter is thought to be a most delightful 
likeness ; in the former, he is considered to have 
succeeded in the face, but to have failed in the 
figure ; indeed, he has proposed, himself, making 
a complete alteration in the latter, but has been 
prevented by a want of time, both on his part 
and my own," .... 



MRS. HEMANS. 247 

TO MR. L . 

" Dec. 9th, 1831. 

. . . " I really was delighted to hear from 
you again, and the more so as you had been 
frequently in my thoughts for several days pre- 
viously, in consequence of my having met with 
a gentleman who seemed to be well acquainted 
with you, though he could not give me your 
present address 

" You know how my health varies with every 
emotion of my mind, and will not wonder that 
it should have suffered severely from my anxiety ; 
but this is now passed, and if it be true that 
there is 

' Nessun maggior dolore, 
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice, 
Nella miseria.' .... 

I think the reverse would be applicable to 
remembered sorrow when the spirit has regained 
peace. I hope our correspondence will not be 
again interrupted for so long a time. Pray 



248 MEMORIALS OF 

come over to Ireland, and let us have some of 
our pleasant hours again. I cannot promise 
that you would find much to attract you in the 
society of Dublin, where there is little of real 
intellectual taste, and more, in my opinion, of 
show and splendour than real refinement; but 
this last is a point on which I am so very fasti- 
dious, that I ought to distrust my own judg- 
ment I go out very little, and find my 

tastes daily becoming more retired and more 
and more averse to the glitter of fashionable 
society. I should not forget to tell you how 
much I was enchanted with Paganini, whom I 
heard at the Musical Festival here : his is cer- 
tainly the most spiritual of music ; such a power 
must be almost consuming to its possessor, and 
his appearance quite confirms this impression : 
it reminds me of some lines of Byron's, referring, 
I believe, to Rousseau ; 

. . . . e Like a tree 

On fire with lightning, with etherial flame. 
Kindled he seems and blasted/ .... 



MRS. HEMANS. 249 

" I am longing to hear some of your music 
again, and to have it again united to my words. 
I lately wrote a little poem, the c Swan and the 
Skylark,' (I think you would find it in this 
month's number of Black wood,) which brought 
you to my mind, because I thought of the power 
and expression you would give to the contrasted 
songs contained in it the death-song of the 
Swan, and the Lark's triumphal chaunt. I have 
also written another, which I should particularly 
like you to set, because I think it one of my 
best efforts ; it is called the ' Death-song of Al- 
cestis,' and is in the Amulet for this year. If you 
think any part of it adapted for music, I should 
be exceedingly gratified by ^its being joined to 
yours. I have not written anything which has 
pleased myself more. . . I shall soon be writ- 
ing to Miss Jewsbury, and will not fail to give 
your message about the songs. I am very sorry 
to say that she is soon going to India, in which 
country Mr. Fletcher has obtained a chaplaincy. 
One can indeed ill afford to lose a friend in this 

M 5 



250 



MEMORIALS OF 



cold harsh world, more especially a gifted friend. 
How few have the least influence over one's feel- 
ings or imagination ! I was truly concerned to 

hear of Mr. "s death, for I felt how much 

you would lose in him, and it is not easy for 
refined characters to attach themselves anew. 
Life has few companions for the delicate 
minded,"' 



" 2, Upper Pembroke Street, Dublin, Dec. 29th 1831 
" Your kind long letter was most welcome, 
arriving, as it did, at a time when I have been 
used to derive cheerfulness, or at least support, 
either from your presence, or some mark of your 
remembrance. It found me quite alone; my 
brother had taken my elder boys to pass their 
holidays at Killaloe, and even little Charles was 
gone on a visit of 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 



MRS. HEMANS. 251 

long time been in my power : my spirits and 
health are both greatly revived, and though I 
am yet unequal to any continuous exertion of 
mind, still I am not without hope, that if I go 
on improving, all my energies may be restored to 
me. I owe much to the devoted kindness of 
a friend, to whom I cannot be sufficiently grate- 
ful. I almost fear being too sanguine ; but how 
often have you urged me to 'hope on, hope 
ever !' 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 Oehlenschlaeger more 
especially, and I think I love them more and 
more for every perusal, so that I cannot re- 
gret the causes which have rendered my con- 
nexion with them more intimate than ever. I 
need scarcely tell you how every page is 
fraught with kindly and pleasant recollections of 
you and all our happy and intellectual inter- 



252 



MEMORIALS OF 



course. If you have had anything new of 
Tieck's indeed, any of his works from Ger- 
many lately, (except c SternbaWs Wanderungen," 
which I possess,) I should be very glad if you 
could lend them to me for a time. I have only 
met with one German scholar since I came to 
Ireland, and with him I had only a few hours of 
passing intercourse. It is very long since I have 
heard from Dr. Channing, or any of my Ameri- 
can friends ; indeed, I grieve to say that I do 
not deserve to hear from them, for the languor 
of mind and heart which has so long been creep- 
ing over me, makes letter-writing, except to the 
very few who understand me, a task more irk- 
some than I can describe ; the consequence has 
been that I have nearly dropped all merely 
literary correspondents. I had, however, lately, 
a very pleasant letter from Mr. Wordsworth, 
though he seems to look upon the present pros- 
pects of both England and Ireland with anticipa- 
tions of the most gloomy character. May I beg 
you would be kind enough to look amongst the 



MRS. HEMANSe 253 

books which I left in your care, for a Dictionary 
of the Bible, in one volume, and also for Cum- 
berland's Observer, in four volumes. I am wish- 
ing for reference to both these works . . . The 
young artist of whom I spoke to you lately has 
greatly altered and improved his picture of me ; 
every one now is struck with the likeness, and 
I can perceive it strongly myself;* he has made 
also a very delightful portrait of little Charles. 
I must tell you of the latter, that he has now 
gone to school, and was very successful in his 
Christmas examination, having won three pre- 
miums. Tell I shall be able to send her 

no account of the court costume this winter, as 
I now enjoy my liberty and retirement so much, 
that I have come to the resolution of not risquing 
them by attendance at the drawing-rooms. 
With affectionate regards to all at your fireside, 
" I am faithfully yours, 

F. H." 

* This is the portrait prefixed to these f< Memo- 
rials" a faithful and graceful likeness. 



254 MEMORIALS OF 






CHAPTER VIL 

The last days of Poets Their dutiesMrs. Hemans' 
favourite books Extracts from familiar correspon- 
dence Scriptural studies Miss Kemble's tragedy 
Thoughts during sickness Extracts from " Scenes 
and Hymns of Life" " Norwegian Battle Song " 
Cholera in Dublin Mr. Carlyle's criticism Irish 
society in town and country tf The Summer's Call " 
New Year's Eve Triumphal entry of O'Connell 
Repeated attacks of illness Fiesco Second part of 
Faust Translation of the first part Visit from her 
sister Excursion into Wicklow New volumes of 
poems Sacred poetry Coleridge " Scenes and 
Hymns of Life " Letters to a friend entering lite- 
rary life Stories of Art Philip van Artavelde 
Death of Mrs. Fletcher Visit to a mountain tarn 
Projected visit to England Anticipations of death 



MRS. HEMANS. 255 

A poet's Dying Hymn Jebb and Knox's corres- 
pondenceSilvio Pellico's " Prigione " Coleridge's 
letter to his godchild Retszch's outlines to Schiller's 
"Song of the Bell." 

THERE is no subject of contemplation more in- 
teresting or more impressive than the last years 
of the lives of poets. It is saddening, indeed ? 
to consider how many gifted ones have been 
summoned from earth before their mission was 
accomplished ; some, as it were, snatched away 
in the midst of a whirlwind, leaving nothing be- 
hind them save wild and forlorn fragments of 
songsome, sinking down exhausted by long 
wanderings through snares and mazes which 
they had wilfully and deliberately entered some 
smitten with death in life, the victims of a brood- 
ing or angry madness. But, in proportion as these 
examples of noble spirits quenched wasted 
shattered humble our pride in human genius 
and human intellect, it is gladdening to regard 
the progress of those, too sensitive or scornful 
by nature, who were permitted to live till calm- 



256 MEMORIALS OF 

ness, and thought, and humility, had taken the 
places of passion, and waywardness, and self- 
approval ; who became not only willing to wait 
their appointed time, but earnest to do their part 
in serving their fellow-men, by opening the 
innermost treasure-chambers of truth and 
poetry, to the few who have eyes to see and 
hearts to conceive; or by singing simple and 
fanciful songs in the ear of the plainer day- 
labourer, winning him by gentle influences from 
the too exclusive and narrowing cares of his me- 
chanical calling. 

It is with such a feeling of satisfaction that the 
four years spent by Mrs. Hemans in Ireland are 
to be contemplated. In outward circumstances 
and comforts, indeed, she gained little by her 
change of residence. If not positively com- 
pelled to make her poetical talent available as a 
source of profit, she still felt honourably bound 
to exercise it unceasingly, though, by putting it 
forth in a fragmentary form, she was hindered 
from producing a work such as she felt she could 



MRS. HEMANS. 257 

now mature and execute, were time permitted 
her. " It has ever been one of my regrets," * 
says she in one of her latest letters, " that the 
constant necessity of providing sums of money 
to meet the exigencies of the boys' education, 
has obliged me to waste my mind in what I con- 
sider 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 complete work : something of pure and holy 

* I have ventured to extract this letter from the 
slight but graceful remembrances of Mrs. Hemans, 
which Mrs. Lawrence has added to a volume of her 
poems recently published. Was it necessary, how- 
ever, to their completeness or authentication, that 
all similar memorials should be denounced as trea- 
cherous ? 



258 MEMORIALS OF 

excellence, (if there be not too much presump- 
tion 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." . . . 
Mrs. Hemans' health, from the time she left 
England, was increasingly impaired by the re- 
currence of severe attacks of illness, with 
periods of convalescence few and far between ; 
while the advancing age of the sons remaining 
under her care, added a new anxiety to those 
which already burthened her. But the years 
spent by her in Dublin were probably the 
happiest as well as the last of her life. As her 
mind became graver, more serene, more con- 
sistently religious, those small outward singula- 
rities, which are remembered against her by 
some who can jealously or ignorantly forget the 
counterbalancing nobleness and guilelessness of 
her nature, and the beauty of her genius fell 
away from her, imperceptibly. She had learned 
patience, experience, resignation, in her dealings 



MRS. HEMANS. 259 

with the world in communing with her art, 
her mind was more than ever bent on devotedly 
fulfilling what she conceived to be its duties. 
Her idea of these may be gathered from a passage 
in the papers on Goethe's Tasso (almost the 
one solitary prose composition of her later years) 
which was published in " the New Monthly 
Magazine" of January 1834, as the first of a 
series of " German Studies." She is speaking of 
the poet : " His nature, if the abiding place of 
the true light be indeed within him, is endowed 
above all others with the tenderest and most 
widely-embracing sympathies. Not alone from 
the things of the everlasting hills: from the 
storms or the silence of midnight skies, will he 
seek the grandeur and the beauty, which have 
their central residence in a far more majestic 

temple We thus admit it essential 

to his high office, that the chambers of imagery 
in the heart of the poet must be filled with the 
materials moulded from the sorrows, the affec- 
tions, the fiery trials, and immortal longings of 



260 



MEMORIALS 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. But he will not seek them through the 
gaudy and hurrying masque of artificial life ; 
he will not be the fettered Sampson to make 
sport for the sons and daughters of fashion. 
Whilst he shuns no brotherly communion with 
his kind, he will ever reserve to his nature the 
power of self-communion, silent hours for 

' The harvest of a quiet eye 

That broods and sleeps on his own heart, 

and inviolate retreats in the depths of his 
being fountains lone and still, upon which only 
the eye of heaven shines down in its hallowed 
serenity." 

The prevailing temper of her mind may be 
also gathered, not merely from the poems she 
wrote, but from the books in which she took 



MRS. HEMANS. 261 

her chief delight during the closing years of her 
life. She fell back with eagerness upon our 
elder English writers, without losing her plea- 
sure in the works of such of her contemporaries 
as she esteemed heart-sound and genuine : and 
while a memorandum before me records the 
strength and refreshment she found in the dis- 
courses of Bishop Hall, and Leighton, and 
Jeremy Taylor, in the pages of Herbert, and 
Marvell, and Izaak Walton, in the eloquence and 
thought of two modern serious authors (I mean 
the Rev. Robert Hall, and the accomplished 
and forcible author of " the Natural History of 
Enthusiasm ;") it speaks also of the gratification 
she derived from the translations and criticisms 
of Mrs. Austin, from Mrs. Jameson's liberal 
and poetical notices of modern art, and her 
" Characteristics of Women," from Mr. Bul- 
wer's passionate and gorgeous fictions, in par- 
ticular his " Last Days of Pompeii," and from 
the " Helen " of Miss Edgeworth. A tale called 
the " Puritan's Grave," by the late Mr. Scar- 



262 MEMORIALS OF 

gill, shoald also be mentioned as one of her 
favourite works of imagination. A few scattered 
notices of other books which she read and 
adopted, will be found in the following letters : 
and it must not be forgotten, that, to the last, 
she took an extraordinary pleasure in all such 
works as describe the appearances of nature 
in the sketches of Gilpin, and White of Sel- 
borne, and Miss Mitford, and the Howitts. She 
used fancifully to call these her " green books," 
and would resort to their pages for refreshment 
when her mind was fevered and travel-worn. A 
word or two more from the recollections of 
the chief companion of her latest years may 
be here introduced, as completing the pic- 
ture. 

" The scriptures were her daily study, and 
she also passed much time over the writings of 
some of our old divines, particularly Jeremy 
Taylor, for whom she had the greatest venera- 
tion, As to the poetry she then loved best and 



MRS. HEMANS. 263 

read oftenest, it was, beyond all comparison, 
Wordsworth's. Much as she had admired his 
writings before, they became more than ever 
endeared to her ; and it is a fact, that during 
the four last years of her life, she never, except 
when prevented by illness, passed a single day 
without reading something of his. I have heard 
her say, that Wordsworth and Shelley were once 
the spirits contending to obtain the mastery 
over her's : that the former soon gained the 
ascendency, is not, I think, to be wondered at; 
for much as she delighted in Shelley, she pitied 
him still more. In defining the distinction 
between the genius of Wordsworth and that of 
Byron, I remember her saying, that it required 
a higher power to still a tempest than to raise 
one, and that she considered it the part of the 
former to calm, and of the latter to disturb the 
mind." 

" While all these studies had evidently the 
effect of rendering her more peaceful and re- 
signed to sorrow and pain that extreme viva- 



264 MEMORIALS OF 



city of spirits she had formerly possessed entirely 
vanished, and her delicate wit only flashed forth 
at intervals of rare occurrence. She seldom 
played during this time, save for the amusement 
of others ; music, she said, made her so sorrow- 
ful as to be quite painful to her." 

It may be thought by some that these trifling 
details are dwelt upon too much at length. But 
I have felt them necessary to the perfect under- 
standing of the mind whose history I have 
attempted to trace. The extracts from her 
familiar correspondence may now be resumed. 

" February 3rd, 1832. 

. . . " I was vexed that the packet which 
I wished to return to you, was not ready for 
either of your two last messengers. I had been 
prevented from making it ready and writing to 
Miss Jewsbury, with a drawing by Charles, by 
the dangerous illness of my servant, (the one 
whom you remember as travelling with me, and 






MRS. HEMANS. 265 

for whom I have a great value,) which engrossed 
my attention both painfully and inconveniently 
almost from the day after I last wrote to you. 
Not liking to trust her to the care of other ser- 
vants, I thought it right to nurse her a good 
deal myself, and had not even Charlie at home to 
assist me in the office of attendance. She is now, 
however, recovered, though I still feel the effects 
of the anxiety and fatigue. I received the Ob- 
server/ quite safely, and subsequently, also, the 

volume by , of which I think exactly as 

you do : it certainly possesses much cleverness, 
nothing more, and I was thoroughly tired of 
that same Phoenix , who seemed 

' To lay her chain- stitched apron by, 
And have a finger in the pie' 

whenever any body had any thing to do which 
did not concern her. She appears a sort of 
general friend of c every-body's grandmamma :' 
from all which collateral claims upon one I 

VOL. II. N 



266 MEMORIALS OF 

shrink too feelingly not to shudder at their in- 
troduction into works of fancy. The Bible 
dictionary must, I imagine, be reposing in the 
mysterious chest, and I should be very grateful 
if, at your leisure, you could try to disinter it, 
as it would be particularly useful to me just at 
present If, in the course of the same research, 
you should happen to meet with an American 
translation of the book of Job, which, I think, 
may be in the same repository, I should be very 

glad to have it also. Now, my dear Mr. , I 

hope you will not imagine that any abstruse 
polemical discussions are to be the fruit of these 
requests for tomes of theologian lore : the truth 
is, that I am at present deriving great enjoyment 
from the attentive study of the Bible, in the 
society of a friend who reads with me, and every 
thing that can throw new light upon our pur- 
suit is a source of very high gratification to 
both. 

" Is it possible that I never mentioned Paga- 
nini to you ? I ought, indeed, to have told you, 



MRS. HEMANS. 267 

how completely, and for the first time, my * 

of music was realized in hearing him ; how I 
seemed to be borne up into 6 an ampler ether, a 
diviner air,' whilst the spell of the mighty 
master was upon me. I am glad that you also 
felt and recognised it, as I was sure you would, 
because you know I have always considered you 
a 'much -enduring man,' in having your real 
feeling of music questioned, ( probed, vexed, and 
criticised.' I wish I could have been near you 
when you thus entered the true < music-land,' 
where I felt that I breathed for the first time in 

hearing Paganini I think ere long 

of writing a little dramatic poem : I should be 
very glad to know how you like the little scene I 
have taken from the life of Blake the painter, 
which appears in this month's Blackwood. My 
kindest love to all the home circle." 



* The word is illegible. 

N 2 



268 MEMORIALS OF 



TO MR. L- 



" Upper Pembroke Street, Dublin, 
"April 18th, 1832. 

"I have just recovered from a long illness, 
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, re- 
citing to myself almost all the poetry I have 
ever read. J 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 should like to know what you 
have been lately composing, and to what poetry. 
I wished much that you should have set my 
4 Swan and Sky-lark/ but think you cannot 
have received the letter in which I mentioned 
this desire. I have lately written what I con- 
sider one of my best pieces ' A Poet's dying 
Hymn :' it appeared in the last number of 



MRS. HEMANS. 269 

Blackwood : I wish that a few of the verses 
might strike you as being suitable for music. . . . 
. . . " Have you not been disappointed in 
Miss Kemble's tragedy ? to me there seems a 
coarseness of idea and expression in many parts, 
which, from a woman, is absolutely startling. I 
can scarcely think that it has sustaining power 
to bear itself up at its present height of popu- 
larity. But I must not allow my pen longer 
indulgence. I only wrote from an impulse to 
inquire after your health and welfare, and to 
remind you of an old friend, who is always 
" Faithfully yours, 

" FELICIA HEMANS." 



The spirit of the last letter, and of others 
following, in which their writer speaks of the 
manner in which, even upon her sick bed, she 
drew comfort and relief from old associations 
and enjoyments, found beautiful utterance in 



270 MEMORIALS OF 

many of her later poems. Thus, in one of the 
" Scenes and Hymns of Life," we find a dying 
girl addressing her mother : 

. . . " I had lain 
Silently, visited by waking dreams, 
Yet conscious of thy brooding watchfulness, 
Long ere I heard the sound Hath she brought 

flowers ? 

Nay, fear not now thy fond child's waywardness, 
My thoughtful mother ! in her chastened soul, 
The passion-coloured images of life, 
Which, with their sudden, startling flush, awoke 
So oft those bursting tears, have died away : 
And night is there still, solemn, holy Night, 
With all her stars, and with the gentle tune 
Of many fountains, low and musical, 
By day unheard. . . ." 

In this tone of melancholy resignation the 
poem proceeds. Then follow some descriptions 
of natural scenes and objects, fresher and more 
minutely-faithful than any which are to be 
found in Mrs. Hemans' earlier works. 



MRS. HEMANS. 271 

. . . " this foam-like meadow sweet 
Is from the cool, green, shadowy river-nook, 
Where the stream chimes around th' old mossy 

stones, 

With sounds like childhood's laughter. Is that spot 
Lovely as when our glad eyes hailed it first ? 
Still doth the golden willow bend, and sweep 
The clear brown wave with every passing wind ? 
And thro' the shallower waters, where they lie 
Dimpling in light, do the veined pebbles gleam 
Like bedded gems ? And the white butterflies 
From shade to sun-streak, are they glancing still 
Among the poplar boughs ? . . . 
Ah ! the pale briar-rose ! touched so tenderly, 
As a pure ocean shell, with faintest red 
Melting away to pearliness ! I know 
How its long, light festoons o'erarching hang 
From the grey rock, that rises, altar-like, 
With its high- waving crown of mountain-ash 
'Midst the lone grassy dell. And this rich bough 
Of honey'd woodbine tells me of the oak, 
Whose deep midsummer gloom sleeps heavily, 
Shedding a verdurous twilight o'er the face 
Of the glade's pool. Methinks I see it now : 
I look up through the stirring of its leaves * 



272 MEMORIALS OF 

To the intense blue, crystal firmament. 
The ring-dove's wing is flitting o'er my head, 
Casting at times a silvery shadow down 
'Midst the large water-lilies. . ." 



"April 4th, 1832. 

. . . "You will grieve to hear that I am 
again writing under the pressure of fever, having 
had a relapse since my last letter. Dublin is 
very full of illness, to say nothing of the dreaded 
cholera, which is, indeed, spreading most rapidly : 
the alarm is, indeed, indescribable; but you 
know / am not one ' to die, many times before 
my death,' of fear at least, and my spirits are, on 
my own account, perfectly composed. I did 
indeed enter into all your feelings of regret and 
indignation, excited by those miserable remarks 

in ! and to think they should proceed 

from the pen which afterwards wrote ' Poets 
are the guardians of admiration in the hearts 
of the people ;' but I am not now equal to the 



MRS. HEMANS. 273 

expression of all I feel on a subject of such deep 
interest to us both." 



TO MR. L- 



"Upper Pembroke Street, May 9th, 1832. 

" My dear , 

" I was delighted to hear from you again, 
especially as the letter to which you allude 
never reached me, and I had therefore been an 
unusually long time without any tidings of you. 
I am writing to you, literally, from a ' city of the 
plague/ I cannot describe the strange thrill of 
awe which possessed me, on seeing, a few days 
since, one of the black covered litters which 
convey infected persons to those places over 
which might almost be inscribed Dante's 

' Lasciate ogni speranza, voi che'ntrate.' 

The gloomy vehicle went past my windows, 
followed by policemen armed with staves to 
keep off the populace. Nothing ever pressed 

N 5 



274 MEMORIALS OF 

so forcibly upon me the dark reality of some 
evil power sweeping by, like the destroying 
Angel of Scripture. My spirits are, however, 
perfectly composed, and I have not the least 
intention of taking flight, which so many others 
are doing in all directions ; the idea of terror 
for myself would never occur to me, and I 
should suffer far more from leaving those I love 
in any danger, than from sharing it with them. 

" To pass from this dreary subject. . . . The 
next time I write, I will send you ' a very fierce 
thing,' as my little boys used to call such com- 
positions, a Norwegian battle-song, which I 
lately wrote, and which was suggested by an old 
northern tradition. I am sure it will find 
accordant tones in your music, or rather a power 
to give it life. I am much pleased to hear that 
the melody of c Go forth, for she is gone,' in- 
debted as it was greatly to you, has met with 
some approbation. The 6 Good-night,' is so 
simple, both in words and melody, that it might 
perhaps please the public taste, which does not 



MRS. HEMANS. 275 

seem very recondite. My sister is quite en- 
chanted with the music of the Chevalier Neu- 
komm, and mentions it in every one of her 
letters. As I have chosen you for my musical 
guide in taste, I should be glad to hear your 

opinion of it I have not yet made an 

attempt to cage any of my lately-composed 
melodies. My illness has left me with such a 
tendency to head-ache, that I am obliged to 
give myself up still in a great measure to the 
' dolce far niente,' for which it is at least satis- 
factory to have so good an excuse. 

" Ever believe me most truly yours. 

F. H." 

" If you have not yet read ' Eugene Aram,' 
pray do so. It is a work of power and pathos." 



" 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 



276 



MEMORIALS OF 



thing with unsheathed nerves ; a most trouble- 
some increase of capacities to which I can only 
hope that my dying some day c in aromatic 
pain,' will effectually put an end. There is a 
line of Coleridge's 

' O ! 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." 



Aug. 27th, 1832. 
" My dear Friend, 

" Do not imagine that I am worse because of 
these pencilled characters, but the act of stoop- 
ing to write has been for several months so 
hurtful to me, that I have at length determined 



MRS. HEMANS. 2/7 

on adopting this method, until the painful 
tendency of blood to the head from which I 
have been suffering seems to be conquered. 
. * ... If you find my letters legible in this 
present form, they will not retard my recovery, 
as I can write them whilst reclining backward. 
How I thank you for trusting me as you do ! 
If I were not to write for a twelvemonth, you 
would never doubt my faithful remembrance, 

and you would have no cause . ' I 

thank you for directing me to the paper on 
Boswell's Johnson in Fraser : had it not been 
for your recommendation I should never have 

opened the Magazine But this one 

article, with its manly, sincere, true English 
feeling, did indeed well repay me ; I prefer it to 
anything I have read of Carlyle's since that 
delightful paper on Burns : but I must own 
I am sometimes out of patience with the fan- 
tastic /a/so-Gothic of his style; it makes all 
his writings seem like a very bad translation 
of fine German thoughts. I have been living 



278 



MEMORIALS OF 



amid fearful scenes since I last wrote to you : 
the dark angel of the pestilence has been 
sweeping down high and low; and is again 
returned among us, apparently after having 
retreated. There is every reason to suppose, from 
the habits of this strange and reckless people, 
that it will take deep root among them, and 
long be the upas-tree of Irish soil. Your 
Polish chief would interest me greatly, but do 
not advise his coming to Dublin unless he has 
private or personal reasons. The public atten- 
tion of this place is wholly divided between 
party politics and fashionable rivalries, nothing 
else has the least chance of awakening it. 
You will long ago, I think, have discovered that 
I dislike Ireland. I have, indeed, continued 
but for one or two friends, but they are very 
dear ones, ( a stranger and a sojourner in this 
land,' and I daily withdraw more and more 
from its glaring, noisy, and unintellectual 
society. Pray tell me when you write whether 
you can decypher my hand in this form. It will 



MRS. HEMANS. 279 

spare me much suffering if my friends will for a 
time receive my correspondence thus. 

" Ever most faithfully yours, 

F. H." 



In another letter, dated from the country 
where she was casually visiting, Mrs. Hemans 
writes with something of her old playfulness. 

" The society of the neighbourhood seems 
as borne as usual in most country places. I 
appear to be regarded as rather a 'curious 
thing;' the gentlemen treat me as I suppose 
they would the muse Calliope, were she to de- 
scend amongst them ; that is, with much solemn 
reverence, and constant allusions to poetry ; 
the ladies, every time I happen to speak, look 
as if they expected sparks of fire, or some other 
marvellous thing, would proceed from my lips, 
as from those of the Sea-Princess in Arabian 



280 MEMORIALS OF 

fiction. If I were in higher spirits, I should be 
strongly tempted to do something very strange 
amongst them, in order to fulfil the ideas I ima- 
gine they entertain of that altogether foreign 
monster, a Poetess, but I feel too much sub- 
dued for such capricci at present" 



After recording the opinion here expressed 
of Irish society, there is every temptation to 
name the exceptions, " the near and dear 
friends," whose companionship was a compen- 
sation for its deficiencies. But those only 
whose names are already before the world, can, 
with any propriety, be particularized. With the 
family of Sir William, then Professor Hamil- 
ton, Mrs. Hemans held frequent and friendly 
intercourse : in Colonel D'Aguilar, she found 
an accomplished companion in the hours of 
health, a steadfast friend in the time of sickness ; 
and one of the sonnets, published among her 
Poetical Remains, addressed to the venerable 



MRS. HEMANS. 281 

Dr. Percival, commemorates another highly- 
prized intimacy. It is affecting to think, that 
he to whom it is addressed, should have sur- 
vived the writer. 

" Not long thy voice amongst us may be heard 
Servant of God ! thy day is almost done, 
The charm now hung upon thy look and word, 
Is that which lingers round the setting sun, 
A power which bright decay hath meekly won, 
Still from revering love." .... 



" August, 1832. 

"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. But enough of this 
long explanation, the very length of which, 
however, you must consider as a proof how 
much I desire you to think of me as unchanged. 
How sorry I was not to see your 



282 



MEMORIALS OF 



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,* I assure you it quite 

* The song is " The Summer's Call," afterwards 
published among the National Lyrics. In the music 
of its versification and the luxury of its natural 
imagery, it would be difficult to find its superior in 
modern poetry. The following two verses, I think, 
justify this high praise. 



" All the air is filled with sound, 
Soft, and sultry, and profound ; 
Murmurs through the shadowy grass, 

Lightly stray ; 
Faint winds whisper as they pass 

Come away ! 



MRS. HEMANS. 283 

consoled me for the want of natural objects of 
beauty around to heap up their remembered 
images in one wild strain. The dark pestilence 
has re-appeared among us. ' Oh ! there have 
been such sights within our streets ! ' Well, 
dear Cousin, farewell, most kindly; I do beg 
you to trust in your unchanged friend, 

F. H." 



Where the bee's deep music swells 

From the trembling fox-glove bells, 

Come away ! 



" Now each tree by summer crowned 
Sheds its own rich twilight round ; 
Glancing there from sun to shade, 

Bright wings play ; 
There the deer its couch hath made 

Come away ! 

Where the smooth leaves of the lime 
Glisten in their honey-time 

Come away away !" 



284 MEMORIALS OF 

20, Dawson Street, Jan. 29, 1833. 
" I had begun a letter to you so long 
since, that having been interrupted both by 
illness and the weariness of another removal, 
it appeared quite passte when I again looked 
at its commencement, and I determined upon 
writing another ; I was, indeed, grieved to think 
of your having been so seriously ill, and to feel 
that distance now prevented me from trying to 
cheer you more effectively than by a letter ; and 
my own state of health is such as to cause me 
frequently great distress and inconvenience. 
I do not mean so much from the actual suffering 
attendant upon it, as from its making the exer- 
tion 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 oppressive fulness, 
and sudden flushing of the cheeks and temples. 
All my pursuits are thus constantly interfered 
with ; but I do not wish this to convey to you 
the language of complaint, I am only anxious 




MRS. HEMANS. 285 

that it should give assurance of kind and grate- 
ful recollection ; that it should convince you of 
my being unchanged in cordial interest, and 
silent only from causes beyond my power to 
overrule. I thought of you ah 1 , and of you 
especially, on New Year's-eve, which I always 
used to pass at your hearth. I remembered my 
own place on the sofa, my little table, and the 
kindly ' familiar faces' which used to surround 
it, and I spoke affectionately of these things to 
a friend who passed the evening with me. Do 
not suppose it possible that my mind could be 
alienated from these memories, though circum- 
stances the most singular, perhaps, in all my 
troubled life, have bound me to a land of stran- 
gers, a land of storm and perplexity. ... I 
witnessed some days since a very remarkable, I 
might say portentous, scene the procession of 
O'Connell through the city after his victory. 
He was attended by not less, it is computed, 
than a hundred thousand followers. There is 
something fearfully grand in the gathering of 



286 MEMORIALS OF 

such a multitude. A harper, with harp of the 
old national form, and many insignia of ancient 
Ireland, preceded his triumphal car, and the 
tri-color (much at variance with all these 
antique associations) was displayed in every 
form around him. But nothing struck me more 
in the whole strange procession than the coun- 
tenance of the demagogue himself; it was stern, 
sullen, full of suppressed storm, instead of any 
thing like triumphal expression ; it is said, that 
he feared an attempt at assassination that very 
day; certainly the character of his countenance 

was dark and inscrutable I am at 

present lodging in the house of some devoted 
Catholics ; they have an altar in the house, with 
a Madonna, before which candles are set every 
night I could almost have fancied myself in 
Mrs. Ratcliffe's visionary world when I first 
made the discovery. I wish you were likely to 
visit Dublin again ; but pray write if it be not 
hurtful to you, and tell me of yourself, and that 
you think of me with the same interest as ever. 



MRS. HEMANS. 287 

I am commencing a volume of sacred poetry, 
'Hymns of Life' I call them, as they are to 
take a wide range of thought and subject If 
you have seen any of my late pieces tell me 
your thoughts of them. My kindest regards 
to ; I will write to him in a day or two. 
When he knows that I was obliged to remove 
almost immediately after hearing from him, he 
will not wonder that I did not write before. 
My love to and dear ." 



Early in 1833, Mrs. Hemans was again se- 
verely attacked by illness, which interrupted 
her correspondence with her English friends. 

Dawson Street, March 17, 1833. 
" I am sure you will have real pleasure in 
hearing that I begin to feel something like 
symptoms of reviving health ; perseverance in 



288 MEMORIALS OF 

the quiescent system, which seems almost essen- 
tial 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, medi- 
tative 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 re- 
movals, and these Irish removals, for me, be- 
tween October and January ! Each was unavoid- 
able, but I am now, I trust, settled with people 
of more civilised habits, and think myself 
likely to remain here quietly. How difficult it 
is, amidst these weary, heart-wearing, narrow 
cares, to keep bright and pure the immortal 



MRS. REMANS. 289 

spark within ! Yet I strive, above all things, to 
be true in this, and turn, with even deeper and 
more unswerving love, to the holy 6 spirit-land,' 
and guard it with more and more of watchful 
care, from the intrusion of all that is heartless 
and worldly. I find Milton, and Wordsworth, 
and Channing, my ministering angels in this 
resolve. I scarcely pass a day without com- 
munion with some of their thoughts thoughts 
fit indeed to ' hand down the lamp of life ' from 
one age to another ; and oh, how much needed 
in this! Dr. Channing, I fear, is not pleased 

with me for my long silence I am 

very glad you kindly told him of my present 

illness You cannot conceive the 

difficulty of procuring respectable, and at all 
private, lodgings in Dublin; everything is for 
show and fashion, nothing for domestic feeling 
and delicate health. I could not help making 
an observation to an Irish friend this morning, 
which was admitted to be most characteristic of 

this country, that domestic tastes and habits 
VOL. u. o 



290 



MEMORIALS OF 



here require as much apology as dissipated ones 
in England. Fiesco* was performed in the 
public theatre here, and, considering the undra- 
matic taste of the place, very well received ; it 
was splendidly got up as to scenery, &c. &c. 
but the closing scene has a very bad effect in 
performance, and quite convinced me that a 
hero should never be seen tumbling down. The 
whole was, of course, greatly curtailed. I wish 
I had room to describe to you the ludicrous 
effect produced by a rouged, stuffed man, who 
recited my poor prologue, flourishing a large 
cocked-hat in an irresistible manner, to grace all 
my best passages. But my head will not allow 
me to add more than that I am ever, 

" most faithfully yours, 

R H." 



" Do remember me kindly to the Howitts. 
I quite love all they write." 

* This play, it will be remembered, was translated 
by Colonel D'Aguilar. 



MRS. HEMANS. 291 

The next letter of the series speaks more de- 
spondingly of the future. After having entered 
at length into the question of establishing one of 
her sons in mercantile life, Mrs. Hemans writes 

" I know not that I can make for him any 
better choice than that of this profession, and 
the many warnings which my health gives me, 
and the increasing reluctance of my spirit (which 
seems withdrawing itself more and more strongly 
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.' . . . 
To speak of brighter things, I cannot deny my- 
self the pleasure of sending you, as in the good 
days of the Saturday's post, the enclosed letter 
for your delectation. When you have read and 
laughed at it for laugh you cannot help pray 

give it to to enrich a little store of such 

originalities, which I believe he is collecting. Is 
my geranium still blooming? You have not 

told me of it for a long time." 

o 2 



292 



MEMORIALS OF 



" June 15th, 1833. 



" My dear Mr. , 

" How grieved and vexed I was to miss 

you may well imagine, and to miss him, too, in 
consequence of so complete a mistake, for I had 
only driven for a few miles into the country on 
the morning of his visit. Will you tell him that 

my friend went on the same evening to 

the hotel where his note was dated, in order to 
make every inquiry respecting him, but could 
get no further intelligence until I received his 
second note. I troubled you lately with the 

care of a letter to , from the sight of which 

you would augur some improvement in my 
health, which, indeed, I have cause gratefully 
to acknowledge, though I continue my habit of 
writing as much with pencil as I can, finding 
the attitude far less injurious to me than that 
required by pen and ink. I longed for you 
very much a few days since, when the newly- 
published conclusion of Faust ' was sent to 



MRS. HEMANS. 293 

me by a very kind German acquaintance I have 
lately met with. But, alas ! alas ! my poor 
feminine intellects were soon nearly as much 

bewildered as those of our good , by c that 

celestial colloquy sublime ' once held with Cole- 
ridge, and though I do not, like him, pique my- 
self upon the clearness of my ideas,' I really 
was obliged to give up the perusal, finding the 
phantasmagoria it called up before my eyes, 
rapid and crowded enough almost to give me a 
fever. I mean to try it again, as my German 
friend advises me, but I shall need the assistance 
of the fairy Order herself to clear my way 
through the mazy dance of Ariel, the Sylphs, 
Helen of Greece, Thales, Xenocrates, Baucis, 
Philemon, the Sphinx, Mary Magdalen, the 
woman of Samaria, and all the other person- 
ages, divine and human, whose very names 
throng the pages so as to make me dizzy. Have 

you seen 's prose translation of the earlier 

Faust ? What think you of its spirit ? He 
seems, in my opinion, to have rather too much 



294 



MEMORIALS OF 



of the Mephistophiles spirit about himself, to 
enter fully into the spirit of Faust. At least, 
there is something so very ungracious in his 
heaping together the blunders of all former 
translators, in order to raise himself upon the 
pile, (like the bridge of dead men, in one of 
Joanna Baillie's tragedies, described as the path 
over which to enter the besieged city,) that I 
am not inclined to give him ' a single sous ' of 

my good will Do tell me whether 

you find any difficulty in reading my pencil de- 
spatches. I certainly ought not to add to your 
plagues in this way." .... 



The autumn of the year 1833 was most hap- 
pily varied to Mrs. Hemans, by a very short visit 
from her sister. " Delightful, indeed," writes 
the latter, " was it to meet after so long a sepa- 
ration ; but I found my dear sister sadly worn 



MRS. HEMANS. 295 

and faded, and her health very fragile, though 
she rallied wonderfully, and was quite her old 

self while we were with her She 

is at present occupied, when at all able to write, 
on a collection of sacred lyrics, and what she has 
named ' Hymns of Life,' and her mind is stored 
with many other projects, if it please God to 
grant health for their accomplishment." In 
another letter, written after Mrs. Hemans' de- 
cease, reference is made to this visit. " It 
is indeed true, that she had not reached 
the full strength of her powers. Much as I had 
previously known of the wonderful resources of 
her mind, I was impressed and astonished, 
during our visit to Dublin a year and a half 
ago, by its developements and inspirations. . . 
. . . Little did I think how soon that 
awful curtain was to fall, which separates us, 
still busied from our earthly cares, from those 
who 

' Their worldly task have done, 
Home have gone, and ta'en their wages.' 



296 



MEMORIALS OF 



These very words she repeated to me one day 
while I was with her, as what might soon be 
applicable to herself, and the circumstance of 
her sinking to rest on the Saturday evening, 
brought them most touchingly back to my re- 
membrance." 

The later months of this year were busily 
spent by Mrs. Hemans in arranging and pre- 
paring for publication the three collections of 
poems which made their appearance in the 
course of the following spring and summer. The 
first of these were the " Hymns for Childhood," 
and the " National Lyrics, and Songs for Music." 
Having already spoken of Mrs. Hemans' skill 
and sweetness as a song-writer, and of her hap- 
piness in perceiving and appropriating the most 
striking traits of national character, I shall only 
linger over the last-mentioned volume to point 
out one poem of singular beauty which it con- 
tains "The Haunted House." The "Scenes 
and Hymns of Life," however, must not be passed 
so hastily. The strong desire which had recently 



MRS. HEMANS. 297 

possessed their author, to devote her powers to 
compositions of the highest and holiest order, 
has been indicated in the foregoing letters. It 
is almost needless to observe, that her mind, 
naturally of too fine a structure and too keen a 
vision to be possessed for an instant by secta- 
rianism, was expanded, and not narrowed, by an 
increased conscientiousness of motive and lofti- 
ness of aim ; that she was more than ever inca- 
pable of adding to the number of those familiar 
and fulsome versions of Scripture so presump- 
tuously thrust forward, and so ignorantly ac- 
cepted as sacred poetry. She wished to enlarge 
its sphere, to use her own words, (t by asso- 
ciating with its themes, more of the emotions, the 
affections, and even the purer imaginative en- 
joyments of daily life, than had hitherto been ad- 
mitted within the hallowed circle." And the 
fulfilment of this high purpose was beautifully 
shadowed forth, if not wholly executed, in the 
" Scenes and Hymns of Life." None, however, 
who have ever written, have suffered from self- 

o 5 



298 MEMORIALS OF 

distrust more severely than she did, from feeling 
the impossibility of doing justice to her own 
conceptions, of giving adequate utterance to the 
thoughts which arose within her, all the more 
brightly and fervently as she approached the 
close of her career. 

* " They float before my soul, the fair designs 
Which I would body forth to life and power, 
Like clouds, that with their wavering hues and lines 
Pourtray majestic buildings: dome and tower, 
Bright spire that through the rainbow and the 

shower 

Points to th' unchanging stars ; and high arcade, 
Far sweeping to some glorious altar, made 
For holiest rites : meanwhile the waning hour 
Melts from me, and by fervent dreams o'erwrought 
I sink." 

And in a letter written about the same time as 

* " Desire and Performance," written in the autumn 
of 1834, and printed among Mrs. Hemans' " Poetical 
Remains." 



MRS. HEMANS. 299 

the sonnet whence the above lines are taken, 
she says, " I find in the Athenaeum of last week, 
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. 1 My heart is growing 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 
maybe." She would also say, that could she 
ever equal Coleridge^s " Hymn in the Valley of 
Chamouni," which she considered as the per- 
fection of sacred poetry, she could desire no- 
thing more. It cannot be said that she ever 
reached the excellence of that noble production, 
but she approached it in some of her latest 
poems in the " Easter Day in a Mountain 
Churchyard," and yet more closely in the last 
and greatest of her lyrics, " Despondency and 
Aspiration." 

This volume of " Scenes and Hymns of Life" 
contains also manv beautiful sonnets, or, more 



300 MEMORIALS OF 

strictly speaking, quatuorzains ; for in none of 
them are the rigorous and characteristic forms 
of the legitimate sonnet observed. In this vein 
of composition, hitherto unworked by her, Mrs. 
Hemans found a welcome resource. She could 
often record her passing thoughts, the precious 
solace of her sick bed, in the small compass of 
a sonnet, when she would have been unable to 
summon her energies for the completion of a 
longer work. It had now become her habit to 
dictate her poems ; and she would sometimes 
compose and perfect long passages, or even en- 
tire lyrics, and retain them in her memory many 
days before they were committed to paper. 

But the interest with which she threw herself 
upon these new projects did not so far engross 
her, as to prevent her from sympathising in the 
good or evil fortune which befel her friends ; or 
from bearing a part, when it was possible, in 
forwarding their plans and wishes. Of this the 
letters with which the memorials of the year 
1 834 open, offer a sufficient proof ; the apology 



MRS. HEMANS. 301 

for the publication of passages so exclusively 
personal, has been already made, and I hope 
accepted. 

The next passage, the last lively extract that 
these pages will contain, refers to an ex- 
cursion into Wicklow, undertaken about this 
time. 

"August; 1833. 

" I did not forget my promise to write last 
night, but the weariness following another day of 
difficulty and disappointment, took away from 
me all power of fulfilment. I am sure you will 
be sorry to hear that I have not yet been able 
to leave the inn, as all the places to which I had 
been directed proved so many will-o'-the-wisps, 
only luring me on to one fatigue after the other. 
Mr. Martin's lodge, Mr. Keegan's cottage, &c. 
&c., have all vanished from the earth (if ever they 
had c a local habitation and a name ') as com- 
pletely as Aladdin's palace ; and as for Messrs. 
Martin and Keegan themselves, I suspect them 



302 



MEMORIALS OF 



verily to be cavern-haunting rebel leaders, of 
whom it is thought politic to be entirely igno- 
rant; so stoutly did the people in the neigh- 
bourhood of the waterfall deny any knowledge 
of any such characters. Had I been in better 
spirits, I could have been much amused with 
the humours of my driver, which far out-Herod- 
ed even those of Mr. Donelly himself; he was a 
loquacious old man, combining into singularly 
original harmony, the several characteristics of 
Methodist, Irishman, and sailor, in each of which 
capacities he seemed to conceive a sort of 
paternal interest for the welfare of my soul and 
body Aye, ma'am dear, I'll do my best for 
you; I'll help you to quiet quarters; truly, an 
hotel that gentlemen come into singing their 
sinful songs all through the night, is no place 
for a lady like you." 1 ' Now look to your star- 
board side, ma'am, and tell me, would you just 
like that cottage ?' Then his piece of parting 
advice ' Now just get yourself a comfortable 
dinner, and don't ask for any port wine, for it's 



MRS. HEMANS. 303 

confounded bad you 11 get it. I '11 tell you the 
truth, that I will ; it's little encouragement my 
master gives me to tell anything else for him.' 
I am afraid I have lost a great many precious 
pearls of eloquence, but the above will give you 
some idea of their character. The scenery 
round the waterfall, though of exquisite beauty, 
is much spoiled, to my taste, by the lounging, 
eating, and flirting groups, who disturb what 
nature meant to be the depth of stillness and se- 
clusion. I have heard of another cottage this even- 
ing, respecting which Anna is gone to inquire : 
whether it be called up solely by the Irish spirit 
of invention, (which I am now convinced can 
raise up cottages and lodges when demanded, 
as readily as a southern improvisatore calls up 
rhymes,) remains to be proved. If I am again 
disappointed, I think I shall perhaps examine 
the neighbourhood of Bray to-morrow. I dis- 
like an inn so much, and always feel so parti- 
cularly forlorn in such places, that I shall, if un- 
successful, return very soon to Dublin. I am 



304 



MEMORIALS OF 



certainly in all things of this nature, at least 
since I came to Ireland, a female ' Murad the 
Unlucky/ and nature evidently intended me for 

his wife I hope you will not find 

this, written with the very worst pen (I will not 
say ' the worst inn's worst pen') an inn can pro- 
duce, wholly illegible." ... . 



" Jan. 26th, 1834. 

. . . " I scarcely know, my dear ? 

whether or not to congratulate you on having at 
last so gallantly launched yourself upon the 
tumultuous yet dazzling sea, which has been so 
long the arena of your hopes. ... I only fear 
that you may sometimes want some one like 
your old friend to be near you, c to babble of 
green fields' and primroses, and win you back 
occasionally to childhood and nature, and all 
fresh and simple thoughts, from those gorgeous 
images of many-coloured artificial life by which 
you will be surrounded, and which may possibly, 



MRS. HEMANS. 305 

at first, seize on your spirit with irresistible 
sway. But I am convinced that nothing really 
worthy and permanent in literature (such as I 
sincerely think you have the power with steadfast 
purpose to achieve) is ever built up except on 
the basis of simplicity ; and I am sure that the 
widest reach of knowledge will always have the 
blessed tendency to make us more and more 
like ' little children* in this respect. But you 
will think I am going to take up one of my old 
lectures on your love of the gorgeous^ to which 
you used so dutifully to listen in the days of the 
Imp Mazurka. Have you forgotten that last 
precious flight of fancy, which still startles all 
my musical visitors when they open the 'litel 
boke' from which its necromantic visage stares 
into their astonished eyes ? . . . You will not, 
1 think, be sorry to hear that many of your 
favourite old friends among my compositions, 
such as * The Rhine Song,' 6 The Song of Delos,' 
' The last Lay of Sappho,' &c. &c. are about to 
appear in a little volume published here, and 



306 MEMORIALS OF 

entitled ' National Lyrics, and Songs for Music.' 
. . . I have many literary plans, which I am 
sure would interest you. I have to thank my 
God, who keeps the fountain of high thoughts 
still, I trust, unsoiled and unexhausted in my 
secret soul. Accept my sincere, I may say af- 
fectionate, wishes for your well-being in all 
things ; and believe me, with an interest in 
your career of which you must never doubt, 
" Your faithful friend, 

"F. H." 

" When you write to the Hewitts, I wish you 
would give my very kind remembrance to Mary : I 
read every thing of theirs that I can meet with." 



" Feb. 9th, 1834. 

..." I cannot now enter into many par- 
ticulars of your letter, which gave me sincere 
pleasure, and have satisfied me that many of the 
dangers I feared for you no longer exist. I de- 



MRS. HEMANS. 307 

light in the idea of your Stories of Art,' parti- 
cularly the thought rekting to the Middle Ages, 
the spirit of which, in art, particularly in some 
of their grand, thoughtful, monumental memo- 
rials, has never, I think, been duly appreciated. 
Did you ever read a description of that majestic 
and singular monument, of Maximilian IL, I 
think, surrounded with its awful battalion of 
colossal bronze figures, in a church at Inspruck ? 
I think you might connect some very striking 
tale, with a work so impressive and compara- 
tively so little known." . . . 



"May 8th, 1834. 

..." Let me not forget to tell you how sen- 
sibly I was touched by your kind offer of resign-' 
ing to me your long-cherished fancy, the ' Tales 
of Art.* ... I could not, however, for many 

* A rumour had gone abroad that Mrs. Hemans 
was meditating- a prose work ; and the writer was 
anxious to turn her attention to a subject which he 



308 MEMORIALS OF 

reasons, avail myself of this sacrifice on your 
part, my dear friend. I have now passed through 
the feverish, and somewhat visionary, state of 
mind, often connected with the passionate study 
of art in early life; deep affection and deep 
sorrows seem to have solemnized my whole be- 
ing, 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 with- 
out some sense of dereliction. I am sure you 
can well understand, and will not fail to enter 
into, all this : I hope it is no self-delusion, but 
I cannot help sometimes feeling as if it were 
my true task 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 deve- 
loped. ... I am grown, as you will have ob- 
served, extremely fond of the sonnet : I think 

believed to be in consonance with her own tastes, and 
to which none could have done more thorough justice 
than herself. 



MRS. HEMANS, 309 

the practice of writing it very improving, both 
as to concentration of thought and facility of 
language." . . . 



" May 4th, 1834. 

" My dear , 

" A very long interval has elapsed since I last 
wrote to you. I know well that no such inter- 
val will ever lessen your unfailing interest in me, 
and that you will hear with pleasure of its hav- 
ing been one of tranquillity, at least comparative. 
It certainly has not passed without some im- 
provement in my health of body and mind, and 
I sometimes even fancy that a new spring of 
energy is, or yet will be, given to both, from 
the strong hopes and aspirations which occa- 
sionally spring up within me, when the over- 
bearing pressure of external circumstances is a 
little removed. I have been busily employed in 
the completion of what I do hope you will think 
my best volume the ' Scenes and Hymns of 



310 



MEMORIALS OF 



Life ;' though Blackwood's impatience to bring 
it out speedily has rather prevented my deve- 
loping the plan as completely as I have wished. 
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 na- 
ture. I cannot but think that my mind has 
both expanded and strengthened during the con- 
templation 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 purifying 
and ennobling influence. I shall not have 
wearied you, my dear friend, by what would 
have seemed mere egotism to most others, but 
I always feel, with reference to you, that your 



MRS. HEMANS. 311 

regard is really best repaid by a true unfolding 
of my mind, with its changeful inner life." . . . 



" May, 1834. 

" I have been really cheered and delighted 
by some passages of a new work ' Philip van 
Artavelde ' and more particularly by parts of 
its noble preface contained in the Athenaeum of 
to-day. I feel assured that you will greet as gladly 
as myself the rising up of what appeared to be a 
majestic mind amongst us; and the putting 
forth of really strengthening and elevating views 
respecting the high purposes of intellectual 
power. I have already sent to order the book, 
feeling that it will be quite an addition to the 
riches of my mental estate 



It was about this time that, after a long and 
anxious period of suspense and silence, the ru- 
mour of the death of one of Mrs. Hemans' most 
attached friends, which had for some time been 



312 MEMORIALS OF 

whispered about, was confirmed by the arrival 
of letters from India. The last communications 
which had passed between Mrs. Fletcher and 
her English friends, had been so full of life arid 
expectation the artless and graphic journals 
of one to whom every strange object suggested a 
new thought, or supplied a new spring of ex- 
ertion that it was difficult to believe that 
so eager a spirit was laid at rest for ever 
on the threshold, as it were, of scenes and duties 
which must have called forth all its powers. 
The fragments immediately following, from letters 
addressed by Mrs. Hemans to different friends, 
refer to this melancholy event. The repetitions 
they contain evidence the sincerity of their 
writer's regret. 

" June 28th, 1834. 

" I was, indeed, deeply and permanently af- 
fected by the untimely fate of one so gifted, and 
so affectionately loving me, as our poor lost 
friend. It hung the more heavily upon my 
spirits as the subject of death and the mighty 



MRS. HEMANS. 313 

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 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, living 
upon those poor succes de societe, which I think 
utterly ruinous to all that is lofty, and holy, and 
delicate in the nature of a highly-endowed wo- 



. . , . . * c I was ill in bed all yesterday 
from having walked too much and got a little 
wet, but am now a good deal better, though my 
spirits have been depressed ever since the tidings 

VOL. II. P 



314 



MEMORIALS OF 



of my poor friend's death arrived. I never ex- 
pected to meet her again in this life, but there 
was a strong chain of interest 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 
the most rare in all earthly affection. Those who 
feel and think deeply, whatever playfulness of 
manner may brighten the surface of their cha- 
racter, are fully unsealed to very few indeed. 
You must not be surprised to see me wearing a 
slight mourning when we meet; I know she 

would have put it on for me. Dearest , I 

could say much more to you on her character, 
and my own feeh'ngs with regard to her loss 
they have been the more solemn from this cause 
that the subject of death and the mighty 
future had been many times that of our deepest 
conversation. With all my regret, I had rather, 
a thousand times, that she had perished thus 
in the path of her duties and the brightness of 



MRS. HEMANS. 315 

her improving mind, than become, what I once 
feared was likely, the merely brilliant creature 
of London life : that is, indeed, a worthless lot 
for a nobly-gifted woman's nature ! I send you 
the second volume of ' Phantasmagoria,' since 
you liked the first, but it was the production 
of quite an immature mind, in a youth which had 
many disadvantages." 



" July, 1834. 

.... "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 woman had been found lying dead 
in one of the temples at the foot of an idol, and 
with a female child, still living, in her arms. 
She and her husband immediately repaired to 
the spot, took the poor little orphan away with 
them, and conveyed it to their own home. She 
tended it assiduously, and one of her last cares 



316 MEMORIALS OF 

was to have it placed at a female missionary 
school, to be brought up as a Christian. My 
sister informs me that her terror of death seemed 
quite subdued at the last, and that she sank 
away quite calmly, in utter exhaustion." . . . 



" July 4th, 1834. 

" You will, I know, be glad to hear that I am 
now much better than when Charles wrote to 
you. I was not well when the news of our 
poor friend's death arrived, and was much over- 
come by it, and almost immediately afterwards, 

coming to Dublin, I was obliged to exert 

myself in a way altogether at variance with my 
feelings. All these causes have thrown me 
back a good deal, but I am now surmounting 
them, and was yesterday able to make one of a 
party in an excursion to a little mountain tarn 
about twelve miles from Dublin. The strangely 
deserted character of the country long before 



MRS. HEMANS. 317 

this object is reached, indeed at only 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 abso- 
lutely necessary for the safety of Dublin not 
many years since. Then we reached a little 
lake, lying clear, and still, and dark, but spark- 
ling all over to the sun, as with innumerable 
fire-flies, high green hills sweeping down with- 
out shore or path, except on one side, into its 
very bosom, and all round the same deep silence. 
I was only sorry that one dwelling, and that, of 
all things, a cottage orne, stood on its bank ; 
for though it was like a scene of enchantment 
to enter and look upon the lonely pool and 



318 MEMORIALS OF 

solemn mountains, through the coloured panes 
of a richly-carved and oak-pannelled apartment, 
still the charm of nature was in some degree 
broken by the association of wealth and refine- 
ment. But how my imagination is carrying me 
away in the effort to give you some idea of the 
lone and wild Lough Bray ! I must return to 
worldly matters, as I was obliged to do from the 
wild hills and waters yesterday. I was some- 
what surprised at rather an un- 

gentlemanly review of my 6 Lyrics * the first 
indeed of that kind of which I ever knew my- 
self to be the object. Very probably there may 
be more such in existence, but you know my 
habitual indifference to such things, (now greatly 
increased,) and I scarcely ever read any re- 
marks upon myself either in praise or other- 
wise. Certainly no critic will ever have to boast 

of inflicting my death-blow She 

(Mrs. Fletcher) has, indeed, been taken away in 
the very prime of her intellectual life, when 
every moment seemed fraught with new trea- 



MRS. HEMANS. 319 

sures of knowledge and power, but I fully agree 
with you that she was not born for earthly happi- 
ness : alas ! and those who are, can they hope 
to find it ? I shall have wearied you, my dear 
friend, and will say farewell." 



"July, 1834. 

..." Since I wrote last, I have read Philip 
van Artavelde. It is a fine thoughtful work, 
but certainly, I think, rather wanting as one 
might perhaps expect in those ingredients of 
imagination and passion, which, though their 
value as the sole element of poetry has been 
overrated, yet will always be felt to constitute 
essential ones. The intellect is constantly ex- 
cited by this author to examine, reflect, and 
combine ; but the heart is seldom awakened ; 
and I cannot think him a master-poet, who does 
not sway both those regions, though to few is 
given an equal domination over them. Shak- 
speare, however, possessed it; and those who 



320 MEMORIALS OF 

take him for their model, have no right to exalt 
any one poetic faculty at the expense of the 
others." 



" August 6th, 1834. 

" My dear , 

" I fear I shall have caused you a little anxi- 
ety, which I much regret, as you, I know, will 
regret my heavy -disappointment, when I tell you 
that I have been obliged sorrowfully to give up 
the hope of visiting England at present* 

* Mrs. Hemans had been intending to revisit the 
Lakes. Perhaps the natural disappointment at being 
compelled to relinquish a favourite plan, made her 
somewhat uncharitable to the far-famed scenery within 
her reach; for in an extract from another letter, 
written about this time, she says: 

" Last week I was induced to go for four days into 
Wicklow again. We got as far as the Vale of Avoca, 
which I think has been rather over-rated. The only 
thing I can say I enjoyed in the least, was a walk I 
took in the wildest part of Glenmalure, which I 



MRS. HEMANS. 3*21 

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 weather 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 even- 
ing, a few miles into the county of Wicklow, 
for immediate change of air. If my health im- 
prove in a day or two, I shah 1 travel on very 
quietly to get more amongst the mountains, the 
fresh, wild, native air of which is to me always 

thought more like Wales than any other part of Wick- 
low : something about the green solitude seemed 
native to me." 

p 5 



322 



MEMORIALS OF 



an eliosir vitce : but I am going under much de- 
pression of feeling, both from my keen sense of 
disappointment, and because I hate wandering 
about by myself. I will not, however, sadden you 
by dwelling upon these things. . . Will you 

give my very kind regards to ? he must 

have known how the ' cares of this world,' 
though without their accompaniment of the ' de- 
ceitfulness of riches,"* have long entangled me, 
and will, I am sure, forgive a silence which has 
thus been caused, and which I have long in- 
tended to break." . . 



A few letters immediately following the above 
are before me, but it is out of my power to pub- 
lish any extracts from them, from their constant 
reference to the party to whom they are ad- 
dressed : and I hardly regret that I am so pre- 
vented, for the melancholy of the series deepens 
as it draws near its close. They speak of 
failing health, accompanied by such depression as 



MRS. HEMANS. 323 

makes " the grasshopper a burden," and of a mo- 
ther's affectionate anxiety concerning those whom 
she was so soon to leave. But it is remarkable 
and soothing to observe the calmness and gentle 
resignation which gathered round their writer 
as she approached the close of her life. At an 
earlier period of her career, it would seem as it', 
in the times of despondency which alternated 
with her gayer hours, she had contemplated 
death as a deliverer the grave a resting-place 
earnestly to be desired. She frequently referred 
to that touching epitaph, " Implora pace" men- 
tioned in one of Lord Byron's letters, as the 
words she would wish to be inscribed on her 
own monument.* In the poems, written in her 
most chevalresque mood, some indication of this 

* This line of Pindemonte's was transcribed by her, 
at a later period, in a book of manuscript extracts, be- 
longing to a friend : 

" Fermossi al fin il cor che balzo tanto." 
Above was written, " Felicia Ilemans' epitaph." 



324 MEMORIALS OF 






sentiment may always be traced. Thus in the 
" Siege of Valencia," 

"Why should not He, whose touch dissolves our chain,, 
Put on his robes of beauty, when he comes 
As a deliverer ? He hath many forms, 
They should not all be fearful ! If his caJl 
Be but our gathering to that distant land 
For whose sweet waters we have pined with thirst, 
Why should not its prophetic sense be borne 
Into the heart's deep stillness, with a breath 
Of summer-winds a voice of melody 
Solemn yet lovely ? . . , 
Joy ! for the peasant, when his vintage-task 
Is closed at eve ! But most of all, for her, 
Who, when her life had changed his glittering robes 
For the dull garb of sorrow, which doth cling 
So heavily around the journeyers on, 
Cast down its weight and slept." . . . 

If such was Mrs. Hemans' feeling with re- 
spect to death, while in the spring-time of her 
genius, (for though the words are Ximena's 
the thoughts were her own,) it may be believed 



MRS. HEMANS. 325 

that it had deepened before she .reached that 
period, when, to use her own words, " deep 
affections and deep sorrows seemed to have 
solemnized her whole being." But though she 
then, as formerly, took pleasure in contemplating 
the resting-place, the shelter, the change from 
a harsh world to the home where 

" no sorrow dims the air," 

she suffered from none of the morbid impatience 
of life which, through their works, is to be traced 
in the minds of those who have had so many 
fewer reasons, mental and bodily, to pray for re- 
lease. To speak fancifully, she seemed to find in 
every object around her, a type of the bright and 
better land to come, which enhanced and gave a 
significance to its beauty. This state of feeling 
is remarkably expressed in a poem already men- 
tioned her " Poet's Dying Hymn," which as 
faithfully reflects the more tranquil current of 
her later thoughts, as the " Mozart's Requiem " 
breathed the feverish and uncurbed aspirings of 



326 MEMORIALS OF 

former years. After many high-toned verses, 
there is a great charm in the gentle yet melan- 
choly resignation of those that follow. 

" Now thou art calling me in every gale, 

Each sound and token of the dying day : 
Thou leav'st me not, though early life grows pale, 

I am not darkly sinking to decay- 
But, hour by hour, my soul's dissolving shroud 
Melts off to radiance, as a silvery cloud. 
I bless thee, O my God ! 

And if this earth, with all its choral streams, 
And crowning woods, and soft or solemn skies, 

And mountain sanctuaries for poet's dreams, 
Be lovely still in my departing eyes : 

Tis not that fondly I would linger here, 

But that thy foot-prints in its dust appear 
I bless thee, O my God ! 

And that the tender shadowing I behold, 
The tracery veining every leaf and flower, 

Of glories cast in more consummate mould, 
No longer vassals to the changeful hour ; 



MRS. REMANS. 327 

That life's last roses to my thoughts can bring 
Rich visions of imperishable spring; 

I bless thee, O my God ! 

Yes ! the young vernal voices in the skies 

Woo me not back, but, wandering past mine ear. 

Seem heralds of th' eternal melodies, 

The spirit-music, imperturb'd and clear ; 

The full of soul, yet passionate no more 

Let me, too, joining those pure strains, adore ! 
I bless thee, O my God ! 

Now aid, sustain me still ! To thee, I come, 
Make thou my dwelling where thy children are, 

And for the hope of that immortal home, 

And for thy Son, the bright and morning star : 

The sufferer and the victor-King of death 

I bless thee with my glad song's dying breath ! 
I bless thee, O my God!" 



The illness to which Mrs. Hemans refers in 
the last extracts, was the scarlet fever. Her re- 



328 



MEMORIALS OF 



covery was imperfect, and her extraordinary per- 
sonal carelessness, in addition to retarding it, 
superinduced another disorder, the ague, which 
never left her, till it was succeeded and outgrown 
by her last fatal malady. In the interval of 
partial convalescence, however, which succeeded 
the fever, her mind seemed to awake to more 
than its usual vigour : she was never so full of 
projects as at this period never so happy in 
the exercise of those powers, over which she 
had gained full mastery. Her interest in the 
things of life, in books, and works of art, had 
never been more vivid, as the following extracts 
from her familiar correspondence, almost the 
last which can be given, abundantly testify. 

"Sept. 12th, 1834. 

" You will now, perhaps, wish for 

some little account of my employments and 
studies. As I laid aside my writing entirely 
(for an interval of repose) about the time of 
your departure, I can only tell you of several 



MRS. HEMANS. 329 

books which I have read with strong and varied 
interest. Amongst the chief of these has been 
the Correspondence of Bishop Jebb with Mr. 
Knox, which presents, I think, the most beau- 
tiful picture ever developed of a noble Christian 
friendship, brightening on and on into 'the 
perfect day,' through an uninterrupted period 
of thirty years. Knox's part of the correspon- 
dence is extremely 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 
work with which I have been both impressed 
and delighted, is one which I strongly recom- 
mend you to procure. It is the ' Prigioni,' of 
Silvio Pellico, a distinguished young Italian 
poet, who incurred the suspicions of the Aus- 
trian government, and was condemned to the 
penalty of the carcere duro during ten years, 
of which this most interesting work contains 



330 



MEMORIALS OF 



the narrative. It is deeply affecting from the 
heart-springing eloquence with which he nar- 
rates his varied sufferings : what forms, however, 
the great charm of the work, is the gradual and 
almost unconsciously-revealed exaltation of the 
sufferer's character, spiritualized through suffer- 
ing 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 dun- 
geon-gloom, and all this crowned at last by the 
release of the noble, all-forgiving 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, in one small 
volume, and will, I am sure, be one to afford 
you lasting delight." 



MRS. HEMAXS. 331 

From a letter to her sister. 

"Sept. 18th, 1834. 

. . . . " I thought you would be interested 
in the two sonnets* which are copied on the 
first page. I wrote them only a few days ago, 
(almost the first awakening of my spirit, indeed, 
after along sickness,) upon reading that delight- 
ful book of Pellico's, which I procured in con- 
sequence of what you had told me of it. I 
know not when I have read anything which 
has so deeply impressed me. The gradual 
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 mutu- 
ally engage not to shrink from the avowal of 

* The Sonnets to lf Silvio Pellico upon reading his 
' Prigioni,' " and " To the same released/' published 
among the " Poetical Remains." 



332 MEMORIALS 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 A friend kindly brought me 

yesterday the Saturday Magazine, containing 
Coleridge's letter to his god-child. 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 !".... 



" Sept. 19th, 1834. 

" My dear , 

" I should have written immediately to you 
on Carl's return, but that he told me something 
of a packet of books which you were about to 
forward in a day or two, and the arrival of 
which he was to acknowledge, and I thought it 
would be best to send you a long united letter 
from us both. I can, however, no longer delay 



MRS. HEMANS. 333 

expressing to you my delightful surprise upon 
opening your precious gift of remembrance, 
for which, I beg you to accept, though too late 
offered, my warmest thanks. This last noble 
production of Retszch's * was quite new to me, 
and you may imagine with how many bright 
associations 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 freshness of a new delight. The 
volume, too, is so rich in materials for sweet 
and bitter fancies, that to an imaginative nature 
it would be invaluable, were it for this alone. 
But how imbued is it throughout with grace, the 
delicate, spiritual grace breathed from the do- 
mestic affections in the full play of their tender- 
ness ! 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 
* His outlines to Schiller's " Song of the Bell." 



334 MEMORIALS OF 

itself in the group of the christening, the first 
scene of the betrothed lovers, with their up- 
lifted 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 woe, 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 mean- 
ing' there is in all these speaking things ! 
Indeed, my dear friend, you have bestowed 
upon me a treasure to thought, to imagination, 
to all kindly feeling, and be assured of its being 

valued at its fullest worth Have you 

read Silvio Pellico's narrative of his ' Prigioni ?' 
it has lately interested me most deeply: how 
beautiful a picture is presented by the gradual 
expansion of the sufferer's mind under all its 
fiery trials to more and more all-enduring cha- 



MRS. HEMANS. 335 

rity, tenderness, and toleration ! I have read it 
more than once, 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. 

" May I trouble you with a little commission ? 
I am anxious to procure those two very small 
American volumes of my poems, which contain 
almost all I have written as far as the c Forest 
Sanctuary.' If you could obtain them for me 

I shall be particularly obliged You 

will not be quite satisfied with this letter unless 
I tell you something of my health. The scarlet 
fever has left me with a very great susceptibility 
to cold ; but if I can overcome this by care, I 
really think (and my physicians think also) that 
my constitution seems now to give promise of 

improvement If God ever grants me 

something of domestic peace and protection, it 
will be received as a blessing for which all my 
future life would be one hymn of thankfulness 



336 



MEMORIALS OF 



and joy. This subject saddens me, therefore 
it is well that I have no room left to dwell 
upon it. 

" Ever believe me, 

" Most faithfully yours, 
" F. H." 



MRS. HEM AN S. 337 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Increase of illness Mrs. Hemans' calmness and resig- 
nation " Thoughts during Sickness" (f Despon- 
dency and Aspiration" Projected poem " Antique 
Greek Lament" Removal to Redesdale Last ex- 
tract from her correspondence Appointment of her 
son Her cheerfulness Messages to her friends 
Her love of books Further notices of her last hours 
Conclusion. 

THE hope expressed in the last letter proved, 
alas ! delusive : the partial return of strength, 
from which Mrs. Hemans augured the possibility, 
if not the promise, of a favourable change in her 
constitution, was but the last fitful quivering of 
the flame of life, before it expired. A neglected 
cold, caught (as has been already mentioned) 

VOL. II. Q 



338 



MEMORIALS OF 



when she was but imperfectly recovered from 
the scarlet fever, took the distressing form of 
ague : and from that time forward her strength 
and health declined steadily. The increasing 
weakness of her frame made it impossible for 
her to throw off this disorder, which was suc- 
ceeded by a dropsical affection. 

It would be fruitlessly distressing to dwell 
upon the scenes of pain, and prostration, and 
decay, which closed her career, had the mind of 
the sufferer yielded with the body, and sunk 
into the arms of death with as much agony and 
as wearily as its mortal tabernacle. Not only, 
however, were its powers of conception and 
fancy undiminished, but it seemed to gain pa- 
tience and tranquillity in proportion as disease 
advanced; to cling with a more entire and 
confiding reliance to the faith which had calmed 
its tumults, and taught it to anchor its hopes 
upon the One " with whom there is no variable- 
ness, neither shadow of turning." Her thoughts 
and imaginations, during the first stage of her 



MRS. HEMANS. 339 

illness, were recorded by Mrs. Hemans in a 
series of sonnets, entitled " Thoughts during 
Sickness," which were intended as a sequel to 
a previous collection, the " Records of the 
Autumn." The " Thoughts," unaccountably 
omitted in the " Poetical Remains " were 
published in the New Monthly Magazine for 
March, 1835. They are intensely individual. 
One of them, on Retzsch's design of the " Angel 
of Death," was suggested by an impressive 
description in Mrs. Jameson's " Visits and 
Sketches." In another, she speculates earnestly 
and reverently upon the direction of the flight 
of the Spirit, when the soul and body shall 
part; in others, again, she recurs tenderly to 
the haunts and pleasures of childhood, which 
had, of late, been present to her memory with 
more than usual force and freshness. To these 
the following sonnet refers, dated May, 1834 ; 
which, as far as I am aware, has not hitherto 
been published. 

Q 2 



340 



MEMORIALS OF 



A HAPPY HOUR. 

" Oh ! what a joy, to feel that in my breast 

The founts of childhood's vernal fancies lay 
Still pure, tho' heavily and long repressed 

By early-blighted leaves, which o'er their way 
Dark summer-storms had heaped but free, glad 

play 
Once more was given them : to the sunshine's 

glow, 

And the sweet wood-song's penetrating flow, 
And to the wandering primrose-breath of May, 
And the rich hawthorn odours, forth they 

sprung, 

Oh ! not less freshly bright, that now a thought 
Of spiritual presence o'er them hung, 
And of immortal life ! a germ, unwrought 
In childhood's soul to power now strong, serene, 
And full of love and light, colouring the whole 
blest scene." 

"Her intense love of nature," writes her 
sister, "seemed to gain strength even as the 



MRS. HEMANS. 341 

sorrowful conviction was more and more pressed 
upon us, that upon the fair scenes of this world, 
her eyes were never more to dwell. One of the 
sonnets in question (the "Thoughts") will far 
better express her feelings than any language of 



" O Nature ! thou didst rear me for thine own, 

With thy free singing-birds and mountain-brooks, 
Feeding my thoughts in primrose-haunted nooks 

With fairy phantasies, and wood-dreams lone. 

And thou didst teach me every wandering tone 
Drawn from the many whispering trees and waves, 
And guide my step to founts and starry caves, 

And where bright mosses wove thee a rich throne 
'Midst the green hills ; and now that, far estranged 

From all sweet sounds and odours of thy breath, 
Fading I lie, within my heart unchanged 

So glows the love of thee, that not for death 
Seems that pure passion's fervour but ordained 

To meet on brighter shores, thy majesty unstained." 

It was after the first violence of her illness 
had somewhat abated, that Mrs. Hemans com- 



342 



MEMORIALS OF 



menced her noble lyric, " Despondency and 
Aspiration."* She was more than usually 
anxious to concentrate all her powers in this 
poem. When a second attack, which again 
greatly reduced her strength, for a while sub- 
sided, leaving her free from pain, she address- 
ed herself to completing it without delay; 
and, when it was finished, expressed, for the 
first time, something like a presentiment of her 
approaching departure. "I felt anxious," she 
said, "to finish it, for whilst I was so ill, I 
thought it might be my last work, and I 
wished, if I could, to make it my best." 
Her wish was granted in its fullest extent: 
this ode, which concludes and crowns so long 
a line of beautiful and eloquent poems, rises 
higher in its aim, its imagery, and its versifica- 
tion, than any of its predecessors. She de- 
signed (for the plans and projects of life did not 
loosen their hold upon her busy mind, till the 
Shadow, as it were, stood on the threshold) to 
* Published among the " Poetical Remains." 






MRS. HEMANS. 343 

make it the prologue to a poetical work 
which was to be called " The Christian Tem- 
ple." The idea of such an undertaking had 
been suggested to her by a recent perusal of 
Schiller's " Die Gotten Griechenlands," and 
it was her purpose, by tracing out the work- 
ings of passion the struggles of human affec- 
tionthrough various climes, and ages, and 
conditions of life to illustrate the insufficiency 
of any dispensation, save that of an all-embrac- 
ing Christianity, to soothe the sorrows, or sus- 
tain the hopes, or fulfil the desires of an im- 
mortal being whose lot is cast in a world where 
cares and bereavements are many. 

The " Antique Greek Lament " * with its 
plaintive burden, 

C( By the blue waters the restless ocean waters, 
Restless as they with their many-flashing surges, 
Lonely I wander, weeping for my lost one !" 

was the only poem of the series which was com- 
* Published among the " Poetical Remains." 



344 MEMORIALS OF 

pleted : for the project, with many others, was 
arrested by the progress of disease, which, be- 
fore the winter closed in, had assumed an alarm- 
ing and unequivocal aspect. It was hoped, how- 
ever, that change of air, and complete retirement, 
might still restore her. With this view Mrs. 
Hemans removed early in December to the 
summer residence of the Archbishop of Dublin, 
which was kindly placed at her disposal ; and, it 
would seem, derived a transient benefit from the 
change. But the following letter was traced 
with a faltering hand, and speaks, unconsciously, 
the language of melancholy presentiment. 

" Redesdale, near Dublin, January 27th, 1835. 

" My dear , 

" I think you will be glad to see a few lines 
from myself, though I can only tell you that my 
recovery if such it can be called proceeds 
with disheartening slowness. I cannot possibly 
describe to you the subduing effect that long ill- 
ness has produced upon my mind. I seem to have 



MRS. HEMANS. 345 

been passing through ' the valley of the shadow 
of death,' and all the vivid interests of life look 
dim and pale around me. I am still at the 
Archbishop's palace, 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 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. 

" This has fatigued me sadly. 

" Believe me every truly yours, 

F. H." 

" Do send my kind love to Miss , when 

you have an opportunity." 



It was in the course of the following month, 
that the necessary exertion and excitement 

Q 5 



346 



MEMORIALS OF 



caused to Mrs. Hemans by the appointment of 
her fourth son to a situation in a government 
office, was succeeded by an exaggeration of every 
unfavourable symptom a greater feebleness 
of frame, and an increase of dropsical affection. 
But she bore these not only placidly, but almost 
cheerfully : so deeply was she impressed by a 
sense of the public kindness which relieved her 
mind from a heavy care, and by the private act of 
generosity by which the nomination in question 
was accompanied. This honourable to thegiver 5 
for its munificence, and for the delicacy with 
which it was tendered: honourable to the receiver, 
for the gratitude with which it was acknowledged 
a gratitude unalloyed by false shame or ser- 
vility is a thing not to be passed over. It 
does the heart good to dwell upon such a proof 
that the cares of statesmanship do not of neces- 
sity destroy the gentler feelings of brotherly kind- 
ness and benevolence. In every note and letter 
which refers to this affair, Mrs. Hemans is de- 
scribed as speaking of it as " a sunshine with- 



MRS. HEMANS. 347 

out a cloud ;" she now felt that her days were 
numbered, and it must indeed have been sooth- 
ing to her, to receive so effectual an assurance 
that she possessed friends unknown as well as 
known willing and active to advance the for- 
tunes of those whom she was so soon to leave 
for ever ! 

The desired improvement in her health not 
having taken place, it was thought prudent 
to remove her to Dublin early in March, in 
order that she might be nearer to her physicians. 
By this time, she had almost entirely lost the 
use of her limbs, and though not wholly confined 
to bed, was scarcely equal even to the exertion 
of reading. She was therefore entirely thrown 
upon the resources of her own mind ; " but 
never," says her companion during these days, 
" did I perceive it overshadowed by gloom. 
The manner in which she endured pain and 
this, during the earlier stages of her illness, 
was very severe surprised even me. She never 
murmured or expressed the slightest impatience 



348 



MEMORIALS OF 



at its long continuance. I remember her say- 
ing to me once, in a moment of unusual anguish, 
4 that she hoped / should never be subject to 
what she was then enduring,' but this was the 
utmost of her complaints." During these 
severest periods of her disorder, she was some- 
times delirious and it was remarkable to ob- 
serve, from the incoherent words she uttered, how 
entirely the Beautiful still retained its predomi- 
nance over her mind. As an illustrative anec- 
dote, I may mention that one of her last casual 
visitors introduced into her sick chamber at her 
own express request, was Giulio Regondi, the 
boy-guitarist in whom she had been more than 
usually interested not merely by the extraordi- 
nary musical genius and acquirement, which place 
him so far above the common range of youthful 
prodigies but by that simplicity and cheerful- 
ness of nature, which rarely remain unspoiled in 
those, like him, perilously exposed to the flat- 
tery and caresses of the world, at an early age. 
Throughout the whole of Mrs. Hemans' ill- 



MRS. HEMANS. 349 

ness, she was visited by vivid and delightful 
dreams, to which, and to the quietness of her 
slumber, she often thankfully referred : and 
in answer to the sympathy expressed by the 
few admitted to her presence, who were dis- 
tressed to see the melancholy state in which 
she was lying, she would say, that she had no 
need of pity, that she lived in a fair and happy 
world of her own, among gentle thoughts and 
pleasant images, which were sufficient to her 
cheerfulness. When haunted by the prompt- 
ings of too quick a conscience, which suggested 
to her, that her life and talents had not been 
rendered useful to their fullest extent, she would 
console herself with that beautiful line of 
Milton's, 

(e Those also serve, who only stand and wait." 

She spoke often of the far-away friends whom 
she valued, and would send them messages of 
kindness and comfort ; she was anxious that one 



350 MEMORIALS OF 

(Miss Mitford) should be told of the delight 
which her country scenes and sketches had given 
her ; that another, the companion of her graver 
hours, should be assured that " the tenderness 
and affectionateness of the Redeemer's cha- 
racter which they had often contemplated toge- 
ther, was now a source not merely of reliance, 
but of positive happiness to her the sweetness 
of her couch."" In short, during this season of 
decline, she was resigned, humble, most 
studious 'to avoid saying or doing any thing 
which might seem said or done for effect, and 
invested by her patience and sweetness with a 
dignity which almost raised her above the reach 
of earthly consolation. The feeling can be well 
understood which made her sister write, " that 
at times it has almost been painful to feel one's 
own incapacity to minister to a spirit so ethe- 
rialised." 

Towards the close of March, her malady 
took one of those capricious turns upon which 
the sanguine are so apt to found hopes; and which 



MRS. HEMANS. 351 

tempt the sufferer, from feeling a momentary re- 
lief, to imagine that a restoration to health is not 
utterly beyond possibility. At this tinfe, her 
sister, who had been in attendance upon her for 
some weeks, left her, recalled to Wales by im- 
perative domestic claims: her youngest bro- 
ther and her sister-in-law remained with her till 
she died. But the change was of short dura- 
tion ; the letters and notes before me only detail 
the return and progress of disease, and soon 
cease to speak of a hope, a chance* Her re- 
lations had now only to stand by and await the 
release of a spirit, ready, if not impatient, to 
depart: of one whose life had been troubled 
and storm-beaten, but whose death-bed was calm 
and most affectionately tended. 
It now remains for me to add a few more notices 

* I have purposely refrained from dwelling upon the 
minute particulars of Mrs. Hemans' case ; these have 
been sufficiently given in the " Recollections," by 
Mr. Lawrence, to which reference has already been 
made. 



352 



MEMORIALS OF 



of the last solemn hours of life ; for these I am in- 
debted to her youngest son. " After all the more 
painfill part of her illness had subsided, she sank 
into a calm and gradual state of decline : I may 
safely say, that I never in my life, saw her so 
happy and serene as then. Her love of books 
became stronger than ever." It has been already 
told, in her own words, that her love of flowers 
remained equally strong till death. " She 
would have a little table placed by her bed-side, 
covered with volumes, one of which would lie open 
before her, even when she was unable to read 
and she liked to be read to for though frequently 
she could not comprehend what she heard, the 
sound of words seemed to lull her to placid 
slumber. The latest volume of Wordsworth's 
poems, which was brought to her about this time, 
excited in her the strongest interest ; and she 
returned, after an absence and forgetfulness of 
many years, to the old pleasure, which, when very 
young, she had taken in the writings of Bowles ; 
the quiet beauty of whose poetry seemed very 



MRS. HEMANS. 353 

congenial to her present state of mind. Almost 
the last book which she turned over with any 
appearance of interest, was Gilpin's " Forest 
Scenery." 

Within a short period of her decease, the 
dropsical symptoms abated ; they were suc- 
ceeded by hectic fever and delirium, the sure 
precursors of dissolution. On the twenty-sixth 
day of April she closed her poetical career, by 
dictating the " Sabbath Sonnet,*' which will be 
read and remembered as long as her name is loved 
and cherished. From this time she sank away 
gently but steadily, still able to derive pleasure 
from being occasionally read to, and on Tuesday, 
the twelfth of May, still able to read for herself 
a portion of the sixteenth chapter of St. John, 
her favourite among the Evangelists. Nearly the 
last words she was heard to utter were, on Satur- 
day the sixteenth of May, to ask her youngest 
son, then sitting by her bed-side, what he was 
reading. When he told her the name of the 
book, she said, "Well, do you like it?" After 



354 MEMORIALS OF 

this she fell into a gentle sleep, which con- 
tinued almost unbroken, till evening, when, 
between the hours of eight and nine, her spirit 
passed away without a sigh or a struggle. 

She was buried in a grave within St. Anne's 
Church, Dawson Street, close to the house in 
which she died ; the funeral service being per- 
formed over her remains by the Rev. Dr. 
Dickinson, the Archbishop's Chaplain, from 
whom she had -received the sacrament on the 
evening of the seventeenth of March. There 
is, as yet, no monument erected to her, save a 
tablet in the cathedral of St. Asaph, placed 
there by her brothers, " in memory of Felicia 
Hemans, whose character is best pourtrayed in 
her writings." 



An elaborate summary of the principal fea- 
tures of Mrs. Hemans' character, or of the 
general and individual merits of her poems, can 
hardly be necessary, if the foregoing memorials 



MRS. HEM AN S. 355 

have fulfilled the design of their editor. The 
woman and the poetess were in her too in- 
separably united to admit of their being con- 
sidered apart from each other. In her private 
letters, as in her published works, she shows 
herself high-minded, affectionate, grateful way- 
ward in her self-neglect, delicate to fasti- 
diousness in her tastes; in her religion, fer- 
vent without intolerance; eager to acquire 
knowledge, as eager to impart it to others, 
earnestly devoted to her art, and in that art to 
the service of all things beautiful, and noble, 
and holy. She may have fallen short of some 
of her predecessors in vigour of mind, of some 
of her contemporaries in variety of fancy ; but 
she surpassed them all in the use of language, in 
the employment of a rich, chaste, and glowing 
imagery, and in the perfect music of her versi- 
fication. It will be long before the chasm left 
in our female literature by her death will be 
worthily filled : she will be long remembered, 



356 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HEMANS. 

long spoken of by those who know her works, 
yet longer by those who knew herself 

Kindly and gently, but as of one, 
For whom 'tis well to be fled and gone, 
As of a bird from a chain unbound, 
As of a wanderer whose home is found. 
So let it be ! 



APPENDIX. 



SINCE these Memorials have been completed, 
I have received notices of two poems, written 
by Mrs. Hemans during her residence in Wales, 
of which no mention is made in any of her let- 
ters, nor any published trace to be found. 
The one was entitled " The Secret Tribunal," 
the other, the work of a later and better period, 
was a dramatic poem, called " The Crusaders," 
in which the popular ballad of " The Captive 
Knight" was introduced. The manuscript of 
this last was unaccountably lost, or destroyed. 



358 



APPENDIX. 



Should it ever be recovered, it might serve as 
the nucleus of a second volume of " Poetical 
Remains." 



THE END. 



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LOWE-MARTIN CO. LIM