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“ Records of Woman,” by Mrs. Hemans, is a volume of beautiful poetry, dedicated to Miss Joanna Baillie. The subject, style, and thoughts, are alike feminine, and devoted to the celebration of those virtues which in a particular manner adorn the female character. The tenderness and feeling of the fair authoress—those graces which are eminently conspicuous in her writings, and the moral sentiment which pervades them, constitute her the best living recorder of the
virtues of her sex on the plan she has here laid down for that purpose. The “ Records of Woman" embrace various striking instances of her virtues, her fidelity in love, her fortitude in suffering, her constancy in faith, and her triumph in death. The number of pieces which bear the title of “ Records” is nineteen; and we venture to assert, that those who read them and are not impressed with their beauty and pathos, can have no true taste for the better order of poetry.
In the present day, when so many writers of verse are before the public, all aiming at one particular style, and at producing a startling momentary effect rather than enduring excellence, it is pleasant to find Mrs. Hemans pursue the true path to lasting celebrity. Her works do not stand still ; they visibly improve. There are pieces in the present volume superior to any she has before written—they thrill to the heart, and prove their claim to unqualified commendation by the best of all tests, the trial of their operation upon the better sympathies of our nature. Each narration, or tale, breathes purity and tenderness, displays the better passions and the nobler emotions of the soul, and is calculated to interest from its connexion with nature in all bosoms. We are aware how much of fashion and of cant there is even in matters of taste and criticism; and we do not therefore pin our faith upon the crude evanescent colourings of praise with which every-day accident may overlay the works of an ephemeral favourite. It is necessary to examine into their principles of durability—to try them by the example of those which have stood the ravages of time and the caprices of popularity, and to judge accordingly.
“ Arabella Stuart” is the first poem in the present volume. This lady, it is well known, was the descendant of Henry VII. By an act of despotism common to the times, she was separated from her husband, and both were placed in confinement. Both contrived to effect their escape on board different ships; but, unfortunately, Arabella Stuart was retaken, and plunged into a cruel captivity, in which she died bereft of reason.
This is a very delightful poem, worthy, every way, of its touching and mournful subject. “ The Bride of the Greek Isle," the second poem, has adorned our pages.
Properzia Rossi” is full of sweetness and beauty. “ Gertrude Von der Wart,” has been the theme of other poets besides Mrs. Hemans; and it is not to be wondered at, for a more touching subject than a wife watching the last agonies of a husband broken alive on the wheel, can scarcely he conceived, much less judged to have been actually true; but truth is often“ stranger than fiction.” The “ Indian City” is known to the reader ; but it will bear reiterated perusals by all who relish good poetry. But to enumerate each “ Record;” and extract from each what we conceive to be striking and beautiful, would far exceed our limits.
In “ Arabella Stuart," the following strikes us as eminently beautiful. The captive amidst her captivity is lamenting her husband.
“ Now never more, oh! never, in the worth
My friend, my friend ! where art thou ? Day by day,
My silent youth flows from me. Spring, the while,
Comes and rains beauty on the kindling boughs
Fills the green forest :-young hearts breathe their vows;
By some kind hand to cheer my dungeon sent ;
And the lark's nest was where your bright cups bent,
O love and freedom ! ye are lovely things !
And by the streams ; but I-the blood of kings,
Thou hast forsaken me! I feel, I know,
Now with fainting frame,
Farewell! and yet once more,
We shall o'ersweep the grave to meet-Farewell !" The preceding is very charming poetry, worthy the pen of proud names in our poetic annals.
The adieu of “ Gertrude Von der Wart” to her husband on the wheel is deeply pathe tic, and exhibits the power of the writer.
“ Her hands were clasp'd, her dark eyes raised,
The breeze threw back her hair ;
All that she loved was there.
The holy heaven above,
The might of earthly love.
• My Rudolph, say not so !
Peace, peace, I cannot go.
When death is on thy brow?
I will not leave thee now.
Of glory and of bliss ;
To strengthen me through this !
Bear on, bear nobly on !
Whose rest shall soon be won.'
From woman's breaking heart?
She bore her lofty part ;
With such a curdling cheek
Thou, only thou shouldst speak !
Her voice, that he might hear:
To happy bosoms near,
Beside his tortured form,
Forth on the rushing storm.
With her pale hands and soft,
Had still'd his heart so oft.
She bathed his lips with dew,
As hope and joy ne'er knew.
Enduring to the last !
And his worn spirit pass'd.
She knelt on that sad spot,
Strength to forsake it not !” Many of the poems in this volume have appeared in print before; but it is a pleasure to possess them in a collected state. They will, we venture to affirm, increase in public estimation the more and oftener they are perused. Among the shorter pieces in the last half of the volume, “ The Last Wish” is peculiarly touching and sweet.
We have not space to extract more. This volume will recommend itself far better than we can do it. The public taste, if, as some contend, it be vitiated, has enough left in it of what is discerning to relish the simplicity and beauty of Mrs. Hemans's verse, and we confidently leave her “Records of Woman” to its adjudication.
BUY A BROOM.
As nimble jugglers that deceive the eye,
Dutch Epic. Caveat Emptor! This is the age of fraud, imposture, substitution, transmutation, adulteration, abomination, contamination, and many others of the same sinister ending, always excepting purification. Every thing is debased and sophisticated, and “nothing is but what is
. All things are mixed, lowered, debased, deteriorated by our cozening dealers and shopkeepers ; and bad as they are, there is every reason to fear that they are mox daturos progeniem vitiosiorem.” We wonder at the increase of bilious and dyspeptic patients, at the number of new books upon stomach complaints, at the rapid fortunes made by practitioners who undertake (the very word is ominous) to cure indigestion ; but how can it be otherwise when Accum, before he took to quoting with his scissors, assured us there was poison in the pot;" when a recent writer has shown that there are still more deleterious ingredients in the wine-bottle; and when we ourselves have all had dismal intestine evidence that our bread is partly made of ground bones, alum, and plaster of Paris, our tea of sloe-leaves, our beer of injurious drugs, our milk of snails and chalk, and that even the water supplied to us by our companies is any thing rather than the real Simon Pure it professes to be. Not less earnestly than benevolently do our quack doctors implore us to beware of spurious articles ; Day and Martin exhort us not to take our polish from counterfeit blacking : every advertiser beseeches the “pensive public" to be upon its guard against suppositious articles-all, in short, is knavery, juggling, cheating, and deception.
This state of universal dishonesty and substitution would be bad enough were it merely confined to commodities, but it is truly alarming when it is extended to persons. It has become so much the fashion to introduce real characters into our novels, satires, and lampoons, personality has been pushed to such a confounding and confounded excess, that we no longer know who is who, (what is what we have long forgotten,) we are ignorant which is the original, which the copy, the type is supplanted by the antitype, and personal identity is altogether lost. “ Methinks there are six Harries in the field,” cried the disappointed Hotspur. Had he lived in our days, he would have found sixty. Modest authors, who were once content to be anonymous, must now forsooth become pseudonymous, having as many aliases as a professed. swindler, and assuming them with the same petty larceny motive-
July.-- VOL. XXIII. XO. XCI.
that of obtaining other men's goods under false pretences. The dupes who read and admire Sterne's and Lord Lyttelton's Letters, are far from suspecting that they are forgeries; and wiser heads dream not that in these our days we have many a Chatterton and Ireland hitherto undetected. The “nosce teipsum” is an exploded admonition: if we cannot know others, how can we be expected to know ourselves ? It is wiser and safer, and nearer to the truth, to say with Cicero, “All I know with certainty is, that I know nothing."
But the most scandalous imposition, the most cruel quæ pro qua of modern days, is that which is perpetrated by that broad-hipped mocking-bird, who, at the time of the annual migration to England, finds her way hither from Bavaria, Wetteravia, or Westphalia, and impudently passes herself off for the original, genuine Dutch Juffrow, who wending hitherward from the marshy flats of Zealand, Zutphen, and the shores of Zuyder-zee, first made our streets vocal, and, as it were, swept our echoes with the cry of “ Buy a Broom !" Alas! the usurpers have almost pushed them from their stools; the Teutonic counterfeit has nearly superseded the original Flemish or Netherland Vrouw. How the former can find their way hither from such distances as Frankfort, Mentz, and the extremities of the lower Rhine, or the still more remote villages of Bavaria,-upless, like the ancient witches, they fly over upon their own broomsticks; or how they can be adequately repaid for such long journeys by the sale of their three-penny ware, it passes my comprehension to surmise ; but the whole process appears to me so suspicious, to savour so strongly of the black art, that I would as soon handle the besom of destruction, whereof mention is made in the prophecies, as any of their perilous, magic-frauglit commodities. Suppose they were to be suddenly smitten with the amor patriçe, the maladie du pays, to sigh for the dulce domum, who shall assure me that these switch-tailed Bavarian brushes, turning suddenly restive, shall not brush off with me; whisk me up the chimney like smoke; bear me through the air as if I bestrode a Hippogriff
, and "sweep to their revenge” by depositing me in one of the muddy canals of Munich, or on the sedgy banks of " Iser rolling rapidly?" Or how, if they tempt me to the floods of the Rhine, beside which they originally grew, plunge me headlong in, leave me to bob among the willows; or, whenever I rise out of breath, push me down again with my own purchased broomstick till the breath is out of me! Such things have been, if the traditions of Germany, and of the Hartz mountains in particular, are to be credited ; and, for my own part, I would not touch one of these Bayarian brooms, even if the jade who carries them would give them to me for nothing. “ Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.'
And why should we run all these risks? why should we encourage impostors? why should we purchase a spurious article, when the real, original, genuine Dutch “ Buy a broom" is still occasionally encountered in our streets? If the reader wishes to ascertain the real Zayder-zee Juffrow, he has but to look attentively at her features. He will see at once that she has been born below the level of the ocean, nurtured under a dyke, has passed her whole life beneath low-water mark, and that though she may be a stray or waif of Neptune, he has never lost his legal lien upon her, never acknowledged her to be a native legitimate subject of his brother Earth. We dig muscles and