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The dull loneness, the black shade
Therefore, thou best earthly bliss,
my life no longer be
“ The praises of poetry have been often sung in
ancient and modern times; strange powers have been ascribed to it of influence over animate and inanimate auditors; its force over fascinated crowds has been acknowledged; but before Wither no one had celebrated its power at home; the wealth and the strength which this divine gift confers upon its possessor.”
This fine criticism, worthy of the poetry which it celebrates, is by Charles Lamb.
BELOVED, admired, appreciated by the best spirits of her time, it is with no little triumpb that I, who plead guilty to some of that esprit de corps which may be translated into “pride of sex," write the name of our great female dramatist of the first woman who won high and undisputed honours in the highest class of English poetry. The pleasure
Since writing this paper this gifted authoress and admirable woman has passed from this world to the higher and happier state which was ever in her thoughts. A letter from her to a mutual friend, written a very few days before her death, expresses her satisfaction in having received the sacrament with her sister the Sunday previous. In this letter, for the first time during a long correspondence, she breaks off somewhat suddenly, complaining of bodily fatigue, although no one then thought her ill. VOL. I.
of rendering her a faint and imperfect justice is all the greater that I have the honour of claiming acquaintance with this most gifted person, and that she is in her domestic relations the very pattern of what a literary lady should be quiet, unpretending, generous, kind, admirable in her writings, excellent in her life.
And yet of Mrs. Joanna Baillie, the praised of Scott, and of all whose praise is best worth having for half a century, what can I say, but that many an age to come will echo back their applause !
Her tragedies have a boldness and grasp of mind, a firmness of hand, and a resonance of cadence, that scarcely seem within the reach of a female writer; whilst the tenderness and sweetness of her heroines
-the grace of the love-scenes—and the trembling outgushings of sensibility as in Orra, for instance, in the fine tragedy on Fear—would seem exclusively feminine, if we did not know that a true dramatistas Shakespeare or Fletcher-has the wonderful power of throwing himself, mind and body, into the character that he portrays. That Mrs. Joanna is a true dramatist as well as a great poet, I, for one, can never doubt, although it has been the fashion to say that her plays do not act.
It must be above fifty years ago that I, then a girl of thirteen, in company
old and dear friend, Mr. Harness, the bosom friend of Thomas Hope, the friend and correspondent of Lord Byron, (and,
be it observed, of all his correspondents, the one who seems to have impressed the daring poet with the most sincere respect), then a boy considerably younger than myself, witnessed the representation of “De Montfort,” by John Kemble and Mrs. Siddons. Forty years after, we had the pleasure of talking over that representation with the authoress, in Lady Dacre's drawing-room, a place where poets “most do congregate,” and we both agreed that the impression which the performance had made upon us remained indelible. Now, the qualities in an acted play that fixed themselves upon the minds of children so young, must have been purely dramatic. Purely dramatic, too, are many of the finer traits that strike us in reading, as, when De Montfort, with his ear quickened by hatred, announces the approach of Rezenvelt, and Freberg exclaims :
“How quick an ear thou hast for distant sound !
I hear him not--"
and many others scattered through the tragedies.
I concede, however, very willingly, that Mrs. Joanna is a most charming lyrical poetess; as witness the beautiful Morning Song in the “ Beacon," which breathes the very spirit of hope.
Up! quit thy bower ; late wears the hour ;