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gives new Life for the duties of to-morrow. The faithful, patient soul working with Him for His infinite designs finds itself new-born as each morning struggles up the sky, and, with the freshness of new birth, enters on the new day's duties," as a little child" indeed. But unless the soul accept the condi tions, and unless it work in the Father's work, it has no such renewal, and it has no continued victory; any Hercules with whom it wrestles can lift it from the ground, and, with all its struggling, it can get no new strength for conflict. Vital power for the objects of life; vital power sufficient to hold in constant check the vagaries of the mind, and the appetites of the body; vital power, again, sufficient to reanimate, every morning, a mind which has new duties to undertake, and a body which is to fulfil meekly an imperial will, — is gained only at the fountain of Life. He has most of that power who drinks deepest at the fountain. He who never drinks — the Machiavel or the Napoleon -finds, before he is done, that body and mind cannot be driven up to the behests of the will. He who works with God has God's breath to renew him every day. He who works without God finds his body give way just when he needs it, or his mind disobedient when a crisis comes. For his vital power is diminished by his every victory; while the faithful child of God receives the promise, and with every day has "Life more abundantly."


Poems. By ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING. From the last London Edition, corrected by the Author. New York: James Miller. 3 vols. 16mo. 1862.


CARLYLE says of the death of Goethe: "In the obituary of these days stands an article of quite peculiar import, the time, the place, the particulars of which will have to be often repeated, and rewritten, and continued in remembrance many centuries, this, namely, that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe died at Weimar on the 22d of March, 1832." The year 1861

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furnishes to many a record as memorable and imperishable. Elizabeth Barrett Browning died at Florence, Italy, on the morning of the 19th of June, half an hour after daybreak. The sad significance of this fact can be fully comprehended only by her contemporaries. Posterity will merely rejoice that such a poet lived and sung. It is for her own age to mourn her departure with a peculiar and personal grief, quite different from the regret usually felt at the death of a favorite author. She has so directly spoken to the hearts of her readers, and won so entirely their sympathy and affection, that to admire and appreciate the poet is with them to love and venerate the Her own heart and life are in her poems, shaping them into wonderful harmony and completeness. Hence in part their fascination; hence, too, the fact that the woman is dearer than the poet, though personally unknown to thousands reverently cherishing her memory. It is not our purpose, however, to dwell upon the loss the world has sustained in her death. We would rather consider what the world has gained by her life, what it owes to her, not only as a poet, but also as a teacher and exemplar. The fitting time has come to do this, and as far as practicable by her own standard. She writes:


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"Measure not the work

Until the day's out and the labor done.

Then bring your gauges. If the day's work 's scant,
Why, call it scant, affect no compromise;

And in that we have nobly striven, at least

Deal with us nobly, women though we be,
And honor us with truth, if not with praise."

The calm dignity of this appeal is statuesque. It is impersonal in its quiet might and majesty, and instinct with a consciousness of power, marred by no light vanity or glorification of self. It does more than command admiration. It rebukes. alike the blind partisan and the narrow hypercritical spirit. The one would be as unworthy and unjust as the other.

In order to get a true conception of "the labor done," it is essential, not only to examine the merits of Mrs. Browning's poems, but likewise to note the revelation in them of her own life and character. The agreeable task which we propose to ourselves, therefore, is. not so much to review critically her

various productions, as to delineate the noble qualities they embody and express.

Mrs. Browning united loftiness of thought to intensity of emotion. As prodigal of ideas as an Eastern poet of images, the ideas are warmed into throbbing life by the inspiration of attendant feeling. Hence she excites in the reader an intellectual and moral vitality responsive to her own,— a twofold effect, that indicates the harmonious sources of her strength, and gives to her writings the vivid power that wins an active sympathy. An author thus endowed could hardly be wanting in vigor of description; and consequently this is among her prominent excellences. She sketches scenes with outlines so strongly drawn, and colors them with tints so richly glowing, that they stand out from the framework like the painting of a great master from the canvas. "The Rhyme of the Duchess May" is an instance of this executive force. A series of pictures pass before the mind's eye in rapid succession, each making a distinct and vivid impression. As illustrations of both the beauty and completeness of the images thus presented, we recall and emphasize a few of the finest passages:"Calm she stood; unbodkined through, fell her dark hair to her shoe, Toll slowly,

And the smile upon her face, ere she left the tiring-glass,
Had not time enough to go.

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"Low she dropt her head, and lower, till her hair coiled on the floor,
Toll slowly.

And tear after tear you heard fall, distinct as any word
Which you might be listening for.

"Oh, and steeply, steeply wound up the narrow stair around Toll slowly.

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Oh, and closely, closely speeding, step by step beside her treading
Did he follow, meek as hound.

Out they swept a vision steady, — noble steed and lovely lady,
Calm as if in bower or stall."

"On the east tower, high'st of all, — there, where never a hoof did fall, Toll slowly.

The scene on the castle wall rivals in intensity and tragic force Coleridge's description of the doomed ship's crew in "The Ancient Mariner," though the subjects and the emotions

they excite are of a widely different nature. The recital which detained "the wedding guest" overawes and chills with a sort of passive horror; for there is no struggle indicated in the story, but simply resistless, remorseless destiny seizing its victims; while Mrs. Browning's narrative is effective from its display of heroic action, and consequently excites less painful emotions. "Twice he wrung her hands in twain, but the small hands closed again. Toll slowly.

Back he reined the steed, — back, back! but she trailed along his track With a frantic clasp and strain.


"Thrice he wrung her hands in twain,- but they closed and clung again, Toll slowly.

Wild she clung, as one, withstood, clasps a Christ upon the rood
In a spasm of deathly pain.

"She clung wild and she clung mute, with her shuddering lips half shut. Toll slowly.


Her head fallen as half in swound, — hair and knee swept on the ground, She clung wild to stirrup and foot.

"Back he reined his steed, back thrown on the slippery coping-stone, Toll slowly.

Back the iron hoofs did grind on the battlement behind,
Whence a hundred feet went down.

They have caught out at the rein, which Sir Guy threw loose, in vain. Toll slowly.

For the horse, in stark despair, with his front hoofs poised in air,
On the last verge rears amain.

"Now he hangs, he rocks between, and his nostrils curdle in! Toll slowly.

Now he shivers head and hoof,- and the flakes of foam fall off,
And his face grows fierce and thin!

"And a look of human woe from his staring eyes did go, Toll slowly,

And a sharp cry uttered he, in a foretold agony
Of the headlong death below.

"And Ring, ring, thou passing-bell,' still she cried, 'i' the old chapelle !'-
Toll slowly.
Then back-toppling, crashing back, a dead weight flung out to wrack,
Horse and riders over fell."

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Great art is shown in concentrating the interest at last upon the steed, and his agony is most vigorously depicted.

The death of Aurora's aunt is another example of tragic intensity in scenic representations.

"There she sate, my aunt,
Bolt upright in the chair beside her bed,
Whose pillow had no dint! She had used no bed
For that night's sleeping, . . yet slept well. My God,
The dumb derision of that grey, peaked face
Concluded something grave against the sun,
Which filled the chamber with its July burst
When Susan drew the curtains, ignorant
Of who sate open-eyed behind her! There
She sate. . it sate. . we said 'she' yesterday."

Mark the significance of the line,

"She sate. . it sate .. we said 'she' yesterday."

The contemplated wedding, in the same poem, where "half St. Giles in frieze was bidden to meet St. James in cloth of gold," is as powerful, if not as terse, a description. So also the sculpturing of the lion in the "Drama of Exile."

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"On a mountain-peak Half-sheathed in primal woods and glittering In spasms of awful sunshine at that hour,

A lion couched, part raised upon his paws,

With his calm, massive face turned full on thine,
And his mane listening."

Here are two pictures of natural scenes, both finely executed; the first from "The Romaunt of the Page," and the other a view of Aurora's English home, seen from her chamber window.

"Our troop is far behind,

The woodland calm is new ;

Our steeds, with slow grass-muffled hoofs,
Tread deep the shadows through;

And in my mind, some blessing kind
Is dropping with the dew."

"First the lime,
(I had enough, there, of the lime, be sure, -
My morning-dream was often hummed away
By the bees in it;) past the lime, the lawn,
Which, after sweeping broadly round the house,
Went trickling through the shrubberies in a stream
Of tender turf, and wore and lost itself
Among the acacias, over which, you saw

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