Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

which a woman's genius needs to make it rounded and complete. There is a pretty story of her first meeting with the poet Browning, based upon the lines referring to him in "Lady Geraldine's Courtship." This, however, is not credited by Theodore Tilton, her American editor, who wrote the Memorial prefixed to the collection of her "Last Poems." Four lyrics, thrown off at this time, entitled "Life and Love," " A Denial," "Proof and Disproof," and "Inclusions," go far to show Miss Barrett's humility, and inability to comprehend the happiness which had come to her. But, nevertheless, the poet wooed and won her; and in 1846, her thirtyseventh year, she was taken from her

couch to the altar, and at once borne away by her husband from her native land. Some facts in my possession with respect to this event have too slight a bearing upon the record of her literary achievements to warrant their insertion here. It is well known that the marriage was opposed by her father, but she builded better than he knew. Her cloister-life of maidenhood in England was at an end. Fifteen happy and illustrious years in Italy lay before her; and in her case the proverb Cælum, non animum, was unfulfilled. Never was there a more complete transmutation of the habits and sympathies of life than that which she experienced beneath the blue Italian skies. Still, before all and

above all, her refined soul remained in allegiance to the eternal Muse.

III.

HE is but a shallow critic who neglects to take into his account of a woman's genius a factor representing the master-element of love. The chief event in the life of Elizabeth Barrett was her marriage, and causes readily suggest themselves which might determine the most generous parent to oppose such a step on her part. The dedication of her edition of 1844 shows how close was the relation existing between her father and herself, and I am told by one who knew her for many years, that Mr. Barrett " was a man of

intellect and culture, and she had been his pride, as well as the light of his eyes, after he became a widower." To such a parent, now well in the vale of years, a marriage which was to lift his fragile daughter from the couch to which she had been bound as a picture to its frame must have seemed a rash experiment, and a cruel blow to himself, however eminent and devoted the suitor who had claimed her. But when the long-closed tide-ways of a woman's heart are opened, the torrent comes with double force at last, sweeping kith and kin away by Nature's inexorable law. If the old West India merchant had not afterwards acted with utter selfishness in respect to the marriage of

another daughter, I should be disposed to estimate his wounded love for Elizabeth, as she herself did, by his steadfast refusal, despite her "frequent and heart-moving" appeals, to be reconciled to her throughout the remainder of his darkened life.

Wedlock was so thoroughly a new existence to her, that her kindred well might fear for the result. A veritable Lady of Shalott, she now entered the open highways of a peopled world. She left a polar region of dreams, solitude, introspection, for the equatorial belt of outer and real life. The beneficent sequel shows how wise are the instincts of a refined nature. To Mrs. Browning, love, marriage, travel, were happiness,

« AnteriorContinuar »