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novel for the dramatic poem. Considered as a "novel in verse," it is a failure by lack of either constructive talent or experience on the author's part. Few great poets invent their myths; few prose character-painters are successful poets; the epic songsters have gone to tradition for their themes, the romantic to romance, the dramatic to history and incident. Mrs. Browning essayed to invent her whole story, and the result was an incongruous framework, covered with her thronging, suggestive ideas, her flashing poetry and metaphor, and confronting you by whichever gateway you enter with the instant presence of her very self. But either as poem or novel, how superior

the whole, in beauty and intellectual power, to contemporary structures upon a similar model, which found favor with the admirers of parlor romance or the lamb's-wool sentiment of orderly British life! As a social treatise it is also a failure, since nothing definite is arrived at. Yet the poet's sense of existing wrongs is clear and exalted, and if her exposition of them is chaotic, so was the transition period in which she found herself involved. Upon the whole, I think that the chief value and interest of "Aurora Leigh" appertain to its marvellous illustrations of the development, from childhood on, of an æsthetical, imaginative nature. Nowhere in literature is the process of culture by

means of study and passional experience so graphically depicted. It is the metrical and feminine complement to Thackeray's "Pendennis"; a poem that will be rightly appreciated by artists, thinkers, poets, and by them alone. Landor, for example, at once received it into favor, and also laid an unerring finger upon its weakest point: "I am reading a poem," he wrote, "full of thought and fascinating with fancy. In many pages there is the wild imagination of Shakespeare. I had no idea that

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any one in this age was capable of such

poetry. . . . . There are, indeed, even

....

here, some flies upon the surface, as there always will be upon what is sweet and strong. I know not yet what the

story is. Few possess the power of

construction."

The five remaining years of Mrs. Browning's life were years of self-forgetfulness and devotion to the heroic and true. Her beautiful character is exhibited in her correspondence, and in the tributes of those who were privileged to know her. What poetry she wrote is left to us, and I am compelled to look upon it as belonging to her period of decline. However fine its motive, "we are here," as M. Taine has said, to judge of the product alone, and "to realize, not an ode, but a law." Physical debility was the main cause of this lyrical falling off. Her exhausted frame was now, more than ever, what

Hillard had pronounced it, "nearly a transparent veil for a celestial and immortal spirit." Her feelings were again more imperative than her mastery of art; her hand trembled, her voice quavered with that emotion which is not strength. She now, as I have said, unconsciously began to yield to the prolonged influence of her husband's later style, and it affected her own injuriously, though it must be acknowledged that her poetry acquired, toward the last, a new and genuine, but painful, dramatic quality. Her "Napoleon III. in Italy," and the minor lyrics upon the Italian question, are submitted in evidence of the several points just made. Some of her later poems were contrib

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