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the day preceding that which had Betwixt the generous rich and grateful
successive Sundays; ay, and soubrette, who, whether or not by design of her mistress, took Marian To weep a little (for he's getting old)
stopped over to France, conveyed her to an That such perdition should o'ertake a man infamous house, and sold her, while of such fair acres, -—in the parish, too! under the influence of drugs, to viola- He printed his discourses “ by request;" tion. On awakening to a sense of her And if your book shall sell as his did, then situation and wrongs, the unfortunate Your verses are less good than I suppose. girl became mad, and was allowed to The
of the neighbourhood submake her escape, underwent various scribed, adventures and vicissitudes, and fin. And sent me a copy bound in scarlet silk, nally brought into the world a male Tooled edges, blazoned with the arms of child, in whom her whole existence
I own that touched me.' was wrapt up, and for whom alone
• What, the pretty ones? she lived, when she was recognised Poor Romney! and challenged by Aurora in the
Otherwise the effect was small. streets of Paris. The sequel may be I had my windows broken once or twice easily imagined. Miss Leigh, con- By liberal peasants, naturally incensed vinced of Marian's innocence, insists At such a vexer of Arcadian peace, that sbe, with her child, shall accom- Who would not let men call their wives their pany her to Florence ; and there are some letters and cross purposes, into To kick liko Britons,--and made obstacles which, for the mere sake of the story, When things went smoothly as baby it is not necessary to enter. In fine,
drugged, Aurora, in the full belief that Lady
Toward freedom and starvation; bringing Waldemar, to whom she has sent a
tavern-thieves and most insulting letter, is now the wife
drabs, of her cousin, becomes melancholy To affront the blessed hill-side drabs and and beart-sick, and time drags wearily on, until one night, watching the With mended morals, quothan-fine stars from her terrace, she is startled by the sudden apparition of Romney
My windows paid for't. I was shot at, by her side. Gentler than in his By an active poacher who had hit & hare early youth, and far more humble, From the other barrel, tired of springeing Romney first pays homage to her so long upon my acres, undisturbed, genius, and then confesses that bis And restless for the country's virtue (yet social schemes have proved an utter In riding through the village.
He missed me)-ay, and pelted very oft
“There he failure.
away our Christian gentle
He baits with poisonous cheese, and lock
In that pernicious prison of Leigh Hall
And say Leigh Hell, and burn it with
rotters, ticket-of-leave men, and street
walkers, with whom he bad filled his Or even the squires, Aurora. Do you mind Your ancient neighbours ? The great book- house, thought the proceeding rart club teems
fun, and joined in the incendiarism ; With "sketches," "summaries,” and “last
and Will Erle, Marian's father, tracts" bat twelve,
“tramp and poacher,” whom he had On socialistic troublers of close bonds
attempted to reclaim, struck Romney
on the head with a burning brand as And say..." Come down to Romney-pay my he was leaving the house, inflicting I should be joyful with the stream of joy an injury which brought him nearly sent through me. But the moon is in my to the verge of the grave. In the
I dare not,—though I guess the name he course of conversation Romney unde- loves; ceives Aurora as to his connection I'm learned with my studies of old days, with Lady Waldemar, but declares When soino one came and spoke, or did not
Remembering how he crush'd his under-lip that he considers himself bound, notwithstanding her misfortune, to wed Aurora, I could touch her with my hand,
And ty, because I dare not.' Marian, and to adopt her child. Mari
She was gone." an, who has overheard this, comes forward, and after a passionate scene of great beauty, rejects the offer. Here And so Marian departs. But now we cannot resist a quotation.
comes an awful disclosure—Romney is blind. The blow struck by the
poacher had destroyed the visual "I have not so much life that I should love
nerves; and for that unfortunate Lord -Except the child. Ah God! I could not of Leigh, the glory of the sun, moon, bear
and stars, was but a remembrance. To see my darling on a good man's knees, And know by such a look, or such a sigh,
So Aurora, who had always loved him, Or such a silence, that he thought some- even though she would not allow it to
times, “This child was fathered by some cursed herself—and whom he had wretch"
ceased to love amidst his perverted For, Romney,--angels are less tender-wise
dreams of duty-gives her whole Than God and inothers; even you would
woman's heart to the helpless; and What we think
He is ours,
the the poem closes with the interchange child; And we would sooner vex & soul in heaven
of vows and aspirations. By coupling with the dead body's Such is the story, which no admirer thought,
of Mrs. Browning's genius ought in It left behind it in a last month's grave, Than, in my child, seo other than — my prudence to defend. In our opinion child,
it is fantastic, unnatural, exaggeratWe only, never call him fatherless Who has God and his mother. O my babe,
ed; and all the worse, because it My pretty, pretty blossom, an ill-wind professes to be a tale of our own Once blew upon my breast! can any think times. No one who understands of how I'd have another,--one called happier, A fathered child, with father's love and much value probability is to a tale,
can read the foregoing sketch, or inThat's worn as bold and open as a smile,
deed To vex my darling when he's asked his peruse the poem, without a
painful feeling that Mrs. Browning And has no answer? What! a happier child Than mine, my besty-who laughed so loud
has been perpetrating, in essentials, to-night
an extravaganza or caricature, inHe could not sleep for pastime? Nay, I stead of giving to the public a real By life and love, that, if I lived like some,
lifelike picture; for who can accept, And loved like
you, as truthful representation, Romney's Romney Leigh, As some love (eyes that have wept so much, educated girl whom he does not love;
proposal of marriage to an ignorant ansee clear), I've room for no more children in my arms; or that scene in the church, which is My kisses are all melted on one mouth; I would not push my darling to a stool
absolutely of Rabelaisian conception ? To dandlo babies. Here's hand, shall We must not be seduced by beauty
keep For ever clean without a marriage-ring,
and power of execution from entering To tend my boy, until be cease to need our protest against this radical error, One steadying finger of it, and desert
which appears more glaring as we (Not miss) his mother's lap, to sit with men. And when I miss him (not he me) ou pass from the story to the next point,
which is the delineation of character. And say, “Now give me some of Romney's Aurora Leigh is not an attractive chaTo help our outcast orphans of the world, racter. After making the most liberal And comfort grief with grief.” For you, allowance for pride, and fanaticism for
art, and inflexible independence, she is And open on each other your great souls,- incongruous and contradictory both But strain and touch her in her upper She is not a genuine woman ; one half youIf
meantime, Most noble Romney, wed a noble wife,
in her sentiments and in her actions. sphere,
Am I coarso ?
there's the rub!
of her heart seems bounding with the are not those of a girl reared in the beat of humanity, while the other midst of sordid poverty, vice, and ignorhalf is ossified. What we miss in her ance. This is an error in art which we is instinctiveness, which is the great- are sure Mrs. Browning, upon mature est charm of women. No doubt she consideration, will acknowledge; and displays it now and then, and some- it might easily have been avoided times very conspicuously, but it is by the simple expedient of making not made the general attribute of her Marian's origin and antecedents à nature; and in her dealings with few shades more respectable, which Romney Leigh, instinct disappears still would have left enough disparity altogether. For we hold it absolute- between her and Romney to produce ly impossible that a woman, gifted as the effect which Mrs. Browning deshe is represented to be, would have sires. Lady Waldemar is a disgusting countenanced & kinsman, whom she character. Mrs. Browning intended respected only, in the desperate folly her to appear as despicable ; but it of wedding an uneducated girl from was not therefore necessary to make the lowest grade of society, whom he her talk coarse and revolting. As an did not love, simply for the sake of a example let us cite the following theory; thereby making himself a passage :public laughingstock, without the least chance of advancing the pro- I have not, without struggle, come to this.
“Of a truth, Miss Leigh, gress of his own preposterous opi- į took a master in the German tongue, nions. There is nothing heroic in 1 gamed a little, went to Paris twice;
love! there is nothing reconcilable But, after all,
- you eat of with duty. The part which Aurora And do as vile a thing as if you eat takes in the transaction, degrades of garlic, which, whatever else you eat, rather than raises her in our eyes; Reminds you of your onion.
Tastes uniformly acrid, till your peach Dor is she otherwise thoroughly ami- Well, love's coarse, nature's coarse -
- ab, able ; for, with all deference to Mrs.
We fair fine ladies, who park out our lives Browning, and with ideas of our own
sheep-paths, cannot help perhaps more chivalric than are commonly promulgated, we must main- From flying over, we're as natural still
As Blowsalinda. Drape us perfectly tain that
was created to In Lyons velvet, -we are not, for that, be dependent on the man, and not Lay-ligures, look you! in the primary sense his lady and his Warm, live, improvident, indecent hearts, mistress. The extreme independence As ready for distracted ends and acts of Aurora detracts from the feminine That Romney groans and toils for. charm, and mars the interest which
And other fevers, in the vulgar way. we otherwise might have felt in so
Love will not be outwitted by our wit, intellectual a heroine. In fact, she is Not outrun by our equipages: --mine made to resemble too closely some of Persisted, spite of efforts. All my cards
Turned up but Romney Leigb; my Gerthe female portraits of George Sand,
man stopped which never were to our liking. In At germane Wertherism; my Paris rounds Romney we fail to take any kind of Returned me from the Champs Elysées just
A ghost, and sigbing like "Dido's. interest. Though honourable and generous, he is such a very decided Uncured, --convicted rather to myself
Of being in love--in love! That's coarse noodle that we grudge him his pro
you'll say. minence in the poem, do not feel much I'm talking garlic." sympathy for his misfortunes, and cannot help wondering that Aurora should have entertained one spark In this there is neither truth, power, of affection for so deplorable a milk. nor humour. The offence against sop. Excess of enthusiasm we can taste is so rank that it cannot easily allow; and folly, affecting to talk the be forgiven. words of wisdom, meets us at every In poetry, passages such as that torning: but Romney is a walking which we have quoted are intolerhyperbole. The character of Marian is able, because by juxtaposition with very beautifully drawn and well sus- others exquisite in themselves, they tained, but her thoughts and language impair our capacity for enjoyment VOL. LXXXI.
sempstress of them all
And Camelot to minstrels seemed as flat
Anything very hideous or revolting No character or glory in his times,
Oh not to sing of lizards or of toads
But of some black chief, half knight, half sheep-
lifter, subjects questionable in moralitydo, for the most part, sedulously avoid As dead as must be for the greater part, anything like coarseness of expres- The poems made on their chivalric bones. sion, and frame their language so as And that's no wonder: death inherits death. to convey the general idea without
Nay, if there's room for poets in the world presenting special images which are calculated to disgust. Indeed, whilst their sole work is to represent the age,
A little overgrown (I think there is), reading this poem, which abounds in their age, not Charlemagne's,—this live throbreferences to art, we have been im
bing age, pressed with a doubt whether, with that brawls, cheats, maddens, calculates, asall her genius, accomplishment, and pires, experience, Mrs. Browning has ever And spends more passion, more heroic heat, thought seriously of the principles Betwixt the mirrors of its drawing-rooms, upon which art is founded. For Than Roland with his knights, at Roncesvalles. genius, as we all know, or ought to To flinch from modern varnish, coat or flounce know, is not of itself sufficient for the Cry out for togas and the picturesque, construction of a great poem. Artists, Is fatal,—foolish too. King Arthur's self like architects, must work by rule Was commonplace to Lady Guenever; not slavishly indeed, but ever keep- As Regent Street to poets. ing in mind that there are certain principles which experience has test
Never flinch, ed and approved, and that to deviate But still, unscrupulously epic, catch from these is literally to court defeat. Upon the burning lava of a song, Not that we should implicitly receive The full-veined, heaving, double-breasted Age: the doctrines laid down by critics, That, when the next shall come, the men of scholiasts, or commentators, or pin our faith to the formula of Longinus ; May touch the impress with reverent hand, and but we should regard the works of
Behold, -behold the paps we have all sucked!
art, and revolting to the taste, for
exactness of delineation
will be accepted as a proper excuse.
situations must be idealised. The
language is not that of common life, I do distrust the poet who discerns
main of prose. Therein lies the dis
tinction between a novel and a poem. Is that poetry? Assuredly not. Is In the first, we expect that the lan- it prose? If so, it is as poor and guage employed by the characters faulty a specimen as ever was preshall be strictly natural, not ex- sented to our notice. It would not cluding even imperfections, and that pass muster even in a third-rate their sentiments shall not be too novel, where sense is an element of elevated or extravagant for the occa- minor consideration, and style is sion. In the second, we expect ideal- habitually disregarded. Here is an isation_language more refined, more extract from an epistle by Lady adorned, and more forcible than that Waldemar:which is ordinarily employed; and
"Parted. Face no more, voice no sentiments purer and loftier than find utterance in our daily speech. Whilst like some ill scholar's scrawl from heart.
more, love no more! wiped wholly out dealing with a remote subject the and slate—ay, spit on, and so wiped out poet can easily effect this, but not so utterly by some coarse scholar. I have when he brings forward characters of been too coarse, too human. Have we his own age. We have been told business in our rank with blood in the that both the late John Kemble and veins? I will have henceforth none; his sister Mrs. Siddons had become not even to keep the colour at my lip. 30 accustomed to the flow of blank A rose is pink and pretty without blood, Ferse that they carried the trick of .-why not a woman? When we've played it into private life, and used sorely to in vain the game, to adore,—who have retry the risible faculties of the com
sources still, and can play on at leisure, pany by demanding beef or beer in being, adored: here's Smith already tragic tones and rhythm. That which She. Away with Smith!-Smith smacks
swearing at my feet that I'm the typic would have sounded magnificently on of Leigh, and henceforth, I'll admit no the stage was ludicrous at a modern Socialist within three crinolines, to live table. Mrs. Browning has evidently and have his being. But for you, though felt the difficulty, but she cannot con- insolent your letter and absurd, and quer it. In this poem she has wil- though I hate you frankly, take my fally alternated passages of sorry Smith! For when you have seen this prose with bursts of splendid poetry; famous marriage tied, a most unspotted and her prose is all the worse because Earl to a noble Leigh (his love astray she has been compelled to dislocate on one he should not love), howbeit you its joints in order to make it read should not want his love, beware, you'll like blank verse. Let us again revert want some comfort. So I leave you
Smith; take Smith!" to the experiment of exhibiting one or two of these passages printed in What a rare specimen of a rhyththe usual form :
mical fashionable letter! Still more " We are sad to-night. I saw-good- singular is the effect when the mob night, Sir Blaise! ah Smith-he has
becomes articulate :slipped away) I saw you across the room, “Then spoke a man, ‘Now look to it, and stayed, Bliss Leigh, to keep a crowd coves, that all the beef and drink be not of lion-hunters off, with faces toward filched from us like the other fun; for your jungle. There were three; a spacious beer's spilt easier than a woman is. This lady five feet ten, and fat, who has the gentry is not honest with the poor; they devil in her (and there's room) for walk- bring us up to trick us.' 'Go it, Jim,' ing to and fro upon the earth from a woman screamed back. 'I'm a tender Chippewa to China; she requires your soul; I never banged a child at two autograph upon a tinted leaf 'twixt Queen years old, and drew blood from him, but Pomare's and Emperor Soulouque's; pray I sobbed for it next moment—and I've give it; she has energies, though fat; had a plague of seven. I'm tender: for me, I'd rather see a rick on fire than I've no stomach even for beef, until I such a woman angry. Then a youth know about the girl that's lost—that's fresh from the backwoods, green as the killed, mayhap. I did misdoubt, at first, underboughs, asks modestly, Miss Leigh, the fine lord meant no good by her or to kiss your shoe, and adds, he has an He maybe got the upper hand of epic in twelve parts, which when you've her by holding up a wedding-ring, and read, you'll do it for his boot,-all which then .. a choking finger on her throat I saved you, and absorb next week both last night, and just a clever take to keep manuscript and man."
us still, as she is, poor lost innocent!'”