Imágenes de páginas

we must look further for the proof of those | fore struck by little rhyming ejaculations of the powers which Mr, Irving seems to consider kind, now handed her writing implements, and as almost preternatural. This must be sought desired her to write down what she had just ulin the literæ scriptæ which she has left be- tered,. She seemed surprised at the request, but hind, and which must be admitted as incon-complied, writing it down, however, as if it had

been prose, without arranging it in a stanza, or trovertible evidence of whatever genius they commencing the lines with capitals; not seemmay show, for there can be no suspicion that ing aware that she had rhymed.'-p. 17. they have been touched by any hand with a view to improving them - the character of the Now it seems to us nearly incredible—not verses themselves, and, still more, the charac- that the child should have composed these ter of all the parties, negative the possibility very childish rhymes—but that she, having of any such practices.

read the blank verse of Milton, Thomson, But though we appeal to the child's poet- Cowper, and the rhyme of Scott, Campbell, ical remains as the only tangible and entirely Byron, should not have known that she had trustworthy evidence of her poetical genius, rhymed, nor should have been able to divide we do not mean to say that her genius may her effusions into couplets, or even into lines, not have been vastly superior to the intrinsic is incomprehensible. It will be recollected merit of the verses. Verses very moderate in that something of the same kind was told of themselves may be, according to the circum- Lucretia—that as early as four years old, and stances under which they are produced, strong before she could write, she contrived to cover, indications of genius, as witness the early po- with a kind of hieroglyphics, a quantity of etry of Milton, and all we have of Chatterton writing paper, so large that its disappearance and Kirk White. We, in our former article, surprised her parents, from whom she careendeavoured to establish this distinction, and fully concealed the use she made of it. while we confessed that Lucretia's produc- These stores of paper were at length accitions were but immature buds and blossoms dentally discovered by her mother's searchshaken from the tree, and green fruit,' we ac-ing for something in a dark and unfrequented knowledged them as a fair promise of future closet, where she found a number of little excellence; and we may say pretty nearly books filled with rude drawings and apparthe same for those of Margaret—they are in ently illegible characters, which, on closer inthemselves of little abstract merit- the curi- spection, were found to consist of the printed osity is the early age at which they were alphabet; some of the letters formed backwritten, and the tone of mind that inspired wards, some sideways, and there being no them. If a young person were to compose a spaces between the words. These writings piece of merely manual mechanism--a watch being with difficulty deciphered, were found for instance—which, however rudely finish to consist of regular verses. She was much ed and worthless in itself

, had got the appear. distressed at this discovery of her treasures ; ance and performed in any degree the func. and as soon as she got them into her

possestions of the perfect instrument-we should sion she took the first opportunity of secretly wonder at the imitative genius without any burning them. (Quarterly Review, vol. xli., reference to the intrinsic value of the imita- p. 290.) We then observed that reports of tion: so it is with this youthful poetry—it is this kind are to be received with some disworth little-perhaps we might say nothing, trust ; and certainly the story is in all its except as an example of the mechanical pre- parts sufficiently wonderful. That the famicocity of the human mind. It is rather a ly residence of people in straitened circumfact in physiology than a contribution to lit- stances'—(very straitened, as we shall see erature. But in this view it is peculiarly presently)-should be so large that paper important that we should be assured of the could be abstracted in quantities to excite cuminute exactitude of the facts—of the pre- riosity, and yet so secretly as to baffle discocise age of the very words.

very,—and then in some secluded place coThe first verses we have of Margaret's were vered secretly with writing by a child of four made about this time ;' that is, we presume, or five years old, -and then again concealed when she had read all those poets. Standing in a dark closet, a different retreat, therefore, by her mother at a window which looked on from that in which the child wrote them ;a lovely landscape, she exclaimed, - that they were then accidentally discovered

by a mother who had all this while been blind • See those lofty, those grand trees,

to all the occurrences which must have been Their high tops waving in the breeze; They cast their shadows on the ground,

for months in progress in different parts of the And spread their fragrance all around.'

house; and,

; and, finally, that all these curious

papers, so precious to a parent's pride, should · Her mother, who had several times been be- I have been secretly burned--not one preserv

ed-all these circumstances, we say, would * Forgiven by my Saviour dear, have justified more distrust than we ventured For all the wrongs I've done; to express. But the story told of Margaret,

What other wish could I have here?though not so complicated, appears to us still

Alas, there yet is one ! less credible ; and with all our respect for

I know my God has pardoned me Mrs. Davidson, we cannot but repeat our for

I know he loves me still ;

I wish forgiven I may be mer opinion—that recollections of this kind

By her I've used so ill. are to be received with some allowance. Mr. Irving does not tell us that he had seen this

Good resolutions I have made, remarkable autograph, which, after what had

And thought I loved my Lord ; befallen Lucretia's early manuscripts, we

But ah, I trusted in myself,

And broke my foolish word. might expect to have been as Mr. Irving tells us all her subsequent scraps were-care But give me strength, O Lord, to trust fully 'treasured up with delight by the mo For help alone in Thee; ther ;' and if it had been preserved, we should

Thou knowest my inmost feelings best ;

O teach me to obey ! equally have expected that he would have published it in its original state rather than

This, though far from being

poetry, is as in the amended form in which he has given good as the general run of Dr. Watts's songs, it. In short, the whole anecdote has thrown and certainly, under all the circumstances, a a painful doubt over our minds, and shaken remarkable production. Her self-examinathe confidence and consequent interest with tion was, however, not a mere poetical exerwhich we entered on the perusal of this bio-cise. On her death her mother found a segraphy. It is, indeed, a slight and in itself ries of memoranda of self-examination, from trivial circumstance; but we need not say a very early period of her life until within a that such slight and trivial circumstances are few days of its close. They are,' says Mr. the best test of truth. We earnestly entreat Irving, some of the most interesting relics Mr. Irving, if this scrap has been preserved, she has left; but they are of too sacred a nato give a fac-simile of it in another edition. ture to meet the public eye' (p. 151), It will be the most curious, and, we think,

e are not surprised at hearing that she important passage in his work.

took little pleasure or share in the common On another occasion, during a thunder- amusements of children. Hers were all instorm towards sunset, Margaret threw herself tellectual. If she chanced to play with a into her mother's arms in great agitation doll or a kitten, it was only to create them not from fear, but from poetic excitement into historic or dramatic personages, and to and she extemporised with extended arm,- carry on with them imaginary dialogues,' al• The lightning plays along the sky;

ways ingenious, and sometimes even brilliant.' The thunder rolls and bursts on high;

The fondness which all children have for stoJehovah's voice amid the storm

ry-telling she alsс indulged, but her extemI heard. Methinks I see his form, poraneous stories were of a very superior As, riding on the clouds of even,

class, He spreads his glory o'er the heaven.'

“and in nothing was the precocity of her mental * This likewise,' says Mr. Irving, ‘her mother powers more apparent than in the discriminamade her write down on the instant ;' but tion and individuality of her fictitious characters he does not say whether it was written like --the consistency with which they were susthe other, as prose, and whether the original the elevation of her sentiments, and the poetic

tained-the graphic force of her descriptionswas among the papers delivered to him. beauty of her imagery.'—p. 21. From the way in which he has printed it, we suppose he has copied it from Mrs. David- So writes, in his own character, Mr. Irving ; son's Memoranda. Another production-of but as it does not appear that he himself heard the same date, we presume, for all this part any of those recitations—indeed he never of the work refers to the period between the saw the child till four or five years after the sixth and seventh years of her age—is more period now referred to—we cannot but think valuable, as Mr. Irving observes, not merely his eulogy somewhat pleonastic, and expressas a proof of early facility at numbers, but ased with more confidence than the circuminvolving a case of conscience creditable to stances seem to warrant; and we make this her early powers of self-examination. She observation the rather because we find in a had been naughty and sullen to her mother, subsequent part of the volume a fragment of but after an hour or two of penance in her a story written in poor Margaret's immature own bedroom, she returned, craving forgive maturity of fifteen, and which has as little ness in these stanzas :

literary merit as any flimsy, sentimental rhap

sody of the Minerva press. One interest it remembrances, the sight of them only indoes possess. The scene is laid in her native creased the affliction of this romantic child village, on the banks of the Saranac, a river for the departure of her friend. She locked which falls into Lake Champlain ; and it them up as relics, and used to visit them with opens with a description of a cottage and its tears. inhabitants, clearly designed for her own 'fa Our readers will recollect that something mily residence' and its inmates—the cottage of a similar kind happened to Lucretia-invery lowly and humble'—the 'grey-headed deed there is, all along, a very extraordinary physician' who inhabited it very poor, and twinness in the two histories. She also had i far in the decline of life'-with a beautiful excited the admiration and the active benefibut sickly family— lovely plants, fading cence of a stranger, and we expressed our reaway one by one from the eyes of their idol- gret that the name of that gentleman was not izing parents' (p. 155). A love-story is of given ;* we now equally regret that we are course superinduced on these materials; but not told that of Margaret's English friendit happily breaks off at the end of about thirty for, besides the pleasure of giving, as we bepages. The style is so over-flowery, and all fore said, 'a local habitation and a name' to the rest so commonplace, that we think it such instances of taste and benevolence, we positively inferior to what might be expected are glad to have as inany witnesses as possifrom almost any girl of fifteen who could ble to the truth of a story which, though inwrite at all, and by no means corroborating dubitable in its main facts, is liable, from the the lofty panegyric bestowed by Mr. Irving most amiable causes, to exaggeration in its on stories composed eight years earlier. details.

'Between the age of six and seven she en In her seventh summer her health became tered on a general course of education, — visibly delicate, and it was thought advisable English grammar, geography, history, and to take her to Saratoga Springs, the waters rhetoric (?), under the direction and superin- of which seemed to have a beneficial effect. tendence of her mother ;' but her constitu- Thence she, for the first time, accompanied tion had already begun to show symptoms of her parents to New York, with which she delicacy, which rendered it expedient to was excited and delighted in a very high check her application.

degree; and on her return home her strength In 1830, an English gentleman,' who had seemed so much increased that she resumed been strongly interested and affected by the her studies with great assiduity, and enjoyed, accounts he had read of Lucretia Davidson, with intense enthusiasm, the beauties of navisited Plattsburg for the purpose of seeing ture along the banks of her native Saranac the place in which she had been born and and the shores of her own beautiful Chamwas buried. Finding her family still residing plain.' there, he waited on Mrs. Davidson, and of Her mother, in her Memoranda, gives a course was surprised and delighted to find in striking picture of her in one of those enthuMargaret a living image, a duplicate as it siastic moods ;were, of her whose celebrity had led him to Plattsburg. This gentleman would naturally • After an evening's stroll along the river bank be kindly received by all Lucretia's family'; we seated ourselves by a window to observe the but the sensitive little Margaret formed for effects of the full moon on the waters. A holy him an enthusiastic friendship, remarkable in calm seemed 10 pervade all nature. With her such a child. His visit to Plattsburg was

head resting on my bosom, and her eyes fixed short ; but he saw her again in her first visit on the firmament, she pointed to a particularly to New York, where he took great pleasure bright star, and said in accompanying her to all the exhibitions and places of intellectual amusement of the city, and in marking their effect on her un * We gather froin a note in this volume, and hackneyed feelings and intelligent mind. more clearly from Miss Sedgwick's recent Life of Once he took her to the theatre, which she Esq.; but Mrs. Davidson seems rather offended by,

Lucretia, that this benefactor was Moss Kent, afterwards remembered as a brilliant dream,' the statement in Morse's • Biography of Lucretia,' and thenceforward her writings frequently that he was a stranger, whose benevolence was at. took a dramatic turn. This gentleman in- tracted by mere admiration of her daughter, and tended to have visited her again at Platts- scruples about accepting. She, on the contrary:

whose favours therefore she might have had some burg; but being called away to England, he says that he was an old acquaintance, and she di. was obliged to lay that design aside. Tbis ninish s somewhat the extent of the obligation conwas a great disappointment to Margaret ; and ferred, though this cxcellent man continued,' she though he accompanied his farewell letter

adds, 'a pure and disinterested friend to the day of

his death.' Margaret used to call hin Uncle with a present of books and various tastefull Kont.'-». 18.

'Behold that bright and sparkling star advisable, for the sake of both mother and Which setteth (sitteth ?) as a Queen afar; schild, to remore them to New York. There Over the blue and spangled heaven she met relatives and young companions, It sheds its glory in the even :

with whose amusements she mingled, but Our Jesus made that sparkling star

generally to give them an intellectual direcWhich shines and twinkles from afar; tion. Amongst other sports she proposed to Oh! 'twas that bright and glorious gem get up a play, which she was to writeThat shone o'er ancient Bethlehem.'-p. 25. in which she was to act, and for which she was

to make all the arrangements-although she If by chance any of our readers recollect had never been in a playhouse but the one the verses of Lucretia quoted in our former evening before mentioned; the lightest part article,

of her task she thought, was the composition Thou bright glittering star of even,

of the tragedy, which, she said, would be Thou gem upon the brow of heaven,' ready long before the dresses-and it was, in

fact, written in two days. they will see that Margaret's first stanza is but a feeble reminiscence of her sister. In • This little drama,' says Mr. Irving, lies truth, except as the extemporaneous burst of before us (we know not why Mr. Irving thus asa child of seven years old, the lines are noth- sumes the style of monarchs and reviewers), a ing; but the sudden turn and pious applica- most ingenious child, and by no means more

curious specimen of the prompt talents of this tion of the last couplet redeem the whole, incongruous in its incidents ihan many current and give it, we think, a superiority to Lucre- dramas by veteran and experienced playwrights.' tia's more matured and polished composi- -p. 32. tion. And what a picture the whole anecdote is !—the glowing landscape—the mother We however must say that, from the sum—the child—the uplifted eye and finger- mary of the plot which he gives us, it seems and above all, the face of the little angelic to have been silly enough, and very little being, inspired by the star with the sudden above the years of the young authoress. recollection of Bethlehem !

Her visit to New York, however, produced In the autumn of 1830 the health of the something better. Their sojourn there was child began to fail again, as did also that of protracted till the heat became oppressive, the mother—who seems indeed never to have and she expressed her yearnings for the been well; and it was thought prudent to banks of the Saranac in the following pretty spend the winter with a married daughter, lines :Mrs. Townshend,* who was settled in

* I would fly from the city, would fly from its care, Canada. We are startled at hearing of invalids,

To my own native plants and my flow'rets so

fair! already living in a more southern latitude To the cool grassy shade and the rivulet bright, than Turin or Venice, removing for the sake which reflects the pale moon on its bosom of of a milder climate, to a Canadian winter. light. The reason given is, that the winds of Lake Again would I view the old mansion so dear, Champlain were too chilly for weak lungs; I would leave this great city, so brilliant and

Where I sported a babe without sorrow or fear. and that Mrs. Townshend's residence, though

gay, in the same latitude as Plattsburg, was an in- For a peep at my home on this pure summerland situation! (p. 25.) The Canadian cli

day. mate, however, did Mrs. Davidson no good, I have friends whom I love, and would leave who continued a helpless invalid, confined to

with regret, ber bed, for eighteen months, during which But the love of my home, Oh 'tis tenderer yet! time little Margaret was her constant com

There a sister reposes, unconscious, in death

'T was there she first drew, and there yielded panion and attendant. But Canada seemed

her breath; to agree with the child, till in January, A father I love is away from me now1833,-the ninth year of her age not yet Oh could I but print a sweet kiss on his brow, expired, she bad a severe attack of scarlet | Or smoothe the grey locks to my fond heart so fever, and on her slow recovery it was thought dear,

How quickly would vanish each trace of a


Attentive I listen to pleasure's gay call, • This lady Mr. Irving always designates as Mrs. But my own darling Home, it is dearer than T- But what possible reason can there be for

all'--p. 32. puzzling distant readers with initials, when the name must be as well known in New York as Broadway-and when the mention of the person is not

But the neighbourhood of Champlain be. merely inoffensive, but complimentary ?

ing thought unfavourable for a family of such

delicate health, they found a new home in spring and the faint return of health it broke the village of Ballston, where she regretted forth with a brilliancy and a restless excitathe wilder scenery of her ‘Native Lake:? bility which astonished and alarmed her

friends; and at this time she poured out in • Thy verdant banks, thy lucid stream, rapid succession many of her best pieces :Lit by the sun's resplendent beam, Reflect each bending tree so light

“We,' says Mr. Irving, ó cannot help thinking Upon thy bounding bosom bright that these moments of intense poetical exultaCould I but see thee once again,

tion sometimes approached to delirium, for we My own, my beautiful Champlain!

are told by her mother that the image of her de

parted sister Lucretia mingled in all her aspiraThe little isles that deck thy breast,

tions; the holy elevation of Lucretia's character And calmly on thy bosom rest,

had taken deep hold of her imagination, and in How often in my childish glee

her moments of enthusiasm she felt that she held I've sported round them bright and free! close and intimate communion with her beatiCould I but see thee once again,

fied spirit.'-p. 42. My own, my beautiful Champlain!

No doubt the extreme and precocious senHow oft I've watched the fresh’ning shower

sibility of both these young creatures was Bending the summer tree and flower, And felt my little heart beat high

out of the ordinary course of nature, and might As the bright rainbow graced the sky!

be almost called a mental disease, which Could I but see thee once again,

to a common observer would seem delirious ; My own, my beautiful Champlain! but we are surprised that a man of Mr. Irving's

taste and talents-if he knows no more than he And shall I never see thee more,

has told us-should have seen anything like My native lake, my much-loved shore ? And must I bid a long adieu,

insanily in either of the girls, and particularMy dear, my infant home, to you?

ly in the very intelligible and natural process Shall I not see thee once again,

by which the enthusiastic recollections of a My own, my beautiful Champlain?' sister, in all points so like herself, should have

blended themselves with Margaret's very exNo-she was never again to see her beau

istence. tiful Champlain ;' and the melancholy trials, with which heaven so frequently ba

In the autumn of 1835 Dr. Davidson relances its highest intellectual gifts

, were about moved his family to a large, commodious, oldto thicken upon this interesting family. Sound, or East River as it is called, about

fashioned house situate at Ruremont, on the The mother a constant sufferer--for ever on

four miles from New York: the verge of the grave ; the child herself alternating between a state of health never

• The wild position and curious structure of better than fragile, and frequent fits of posi- this old-fashioned house,' says her mother, with tive disease ; and now her eldest and only a long gallery, winding staircase, dark and surviving sister, Mrs. Townshend-to whom narrow passages, a trap-door, large rooms with she had looked forward to supply the place of massive doors and heavy iron bolts and bars, set the, as it seemed, dying mother—was her- her mind teeming with recollections of all she self carried off, still young and beautiful, had heard or imagined of old castles, banditti, leaving one orphan “bud of promise.' This perfect ecstacy, peopling every part with images was a severe shock to Margaret, whose own of her own imagination, and fancying it the scene state of health had lately assumed a very of foregone events of dark and thrilling interest.' alarming aspect, but she seemed to rally her -p. 50. energies to alleviate the grief of her mother; and two or three copies of verses, addressed But, strange enough, we do not find in her to Mrs. Davidson on this sad occasion, are

verses any marked traces of this new and, we remarkable, not so much for their poetry as should have supposed, enticing train of for a strain of sober piety and Christian con- thought, except, perhaps, in some Stanzas' solation, much above what we should have given without any note or explanation in an expected from the writer's years.

earlier page, but which are evidently the longSoon after this affliction, and perhaps in ings of a romantic mind for a visit to the old consequence of it, in December, 1834, Mar country, excited probably by the old house garet was again seized with a liver complaint, at Ruremont. We shall extract a few of the

best: which by sympathy affected her lungs, and confined her to her bed for two months, and

Oh for the pinions of a bird, to her room for two more. • During this fit of

To bear me far away, illness her mind had remained in an unusual Where songs of other lands are heard, state of inactivity, but with the opening of And other waters play!

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