« AnteriorContinuar »
The Editor of the volume now offered to the public has found his task one of some delicacy and difficulty.
In selecting from among the recent poets of Great Britain two, whose works had not been hitherto presented collectively to the American reader, to be published with a new edition of Keats, it was, of course, his object to give the preference to those which would be most acceptable to the public—most popular. He chose Mary Howitt and Henry Hart Milman; and in doing so, obeyed the dictates of his own judgment as to their merits, compared with those of their contemporaries; and he believes that, considered with reference to richness of imagination, fertility of invention, grace and elegance of diction, and the interesting character of the subjects which they have chosen for their various poetical works, they will bear comparison with any of the living British poets. Milman is in the classical style. His chaste and beautiful compositions remind one of a Grecian temple, towering towards Heaven in the severe majesty of its just proportions; while those of Mrs. Howitt, redolent of middle age lore, and rich in catholic associations, have rather the semblance of some venerable Gothic cathedral,
“ With storied windows richly dight,
Shedding a dim religious light” upon the kneeling devotees below. Each has a peculiar beauty, such as may render them counterparts to each other, and not inappropriately, it is believed, are they grouped opposite to each other in this volume.
The many editions already published of Keats's works have sufficiently attested his popularity. His reputation has been continually advancing since the period of his lamented death.
No pains have been spared to render the respective collections embraced in this volune complete and accurate; and it is hoped they may prove acceptable to the public.
Mary Howitt was born at Coleford, in Glouces. continued to reside till about twelve months ago, tershire, where her parents were making a tem- and are now living at Esher, in Surrey. porary residence; but shortly after her birth they Mary Howitt published jointly with her husreturned to their accustomed abode at Uttoxeter, band two volumes of miscellaneous poems, in in Staffordshire, where she spent her youth. The 1823; and, in 1834, she gave to the world “The beautiful Arcadian scenery of this part of Staf. Seven Temptations," a series of dramatic poems ; fordshire was of a character to foster a deep love a work which, in other times, would have been of the country; and is described with great ac- alone sufficient to have made and secured a very curacy in her recent prose work, “ Wood Leigh- high reputation : her dramas are full of keen per. ton.” By her mother she is descended from an ceptions, strong and accurate delineations, and ancient Irish family, and also from Wood, the ill. powerful displays of character. She afterwards used Irish patentee, who was ruined by the selfish prepared for the press a collection of her most malignity of Dean Swist,—from whose aspersions popular ballads, a class of writing in which she his character was vindicated by Sir Isaac New- greatly excels all her contemporaries. She is also ton. A true statement of the whole affuir may be well known to the young by her “Sketches of seen in Ruding's “ Annals of Coinage." Charles Natural History," “ Tales in Verse,” and other Wood, her grandfather, was the first who intro- productions written expressly for their use and duced platina into England from Jamaica, where pleasure. he was assay-master. Her parents being strict Mrs. Howitt is distinguished by the mild, unmembers of the society of Friends, and her father affected, and conciliatory manners, for which “ the being, indeed, of an old line who suffered perse- people called Quakers” have always been remarkcution in the early days of Quakerism, her edu- able. Her writings, too, are in keeping with her cation was of an exclusive character; and her character: in all there is evidence of peace and knowledge of books confined to those approved good-will; a tender and a trusting nature; a genof by the most strict of her own people, till a tle sympathy with humanity; and a deep and later period than most young persons become ac- fervent love of all the beautiful works which the quainted with them. Their effect upon her mind Great Hand has scattered so plentifully before was, consequently, so much the more vivid. In those by whom they can be felt and appreciated. deed, she describes her overwhelming astonish. She has mixed but little with the world; the ment and delight in the treasures of general and home-duties of wife and mother have been to her modern literature, to be like what Keals says his productive of more pleasant and fur happier refeelings were when a new world of poetry opened sults than struggles for distinction amid crowds; upon him, through Chapman's “ Homer,”- --as to she has made her reputation quietly but securely; the astronomer,
and has laboured successfully as well as earnestly " When a new planet swims into his ken." to inculcate virtue as the noblest attribute of an Among poctry there was none which made a English woman. If there be some of her constronger impression than our simple old ballad, temporaries who have surpassed her in the higher which she and a sister near her own age, and of qualities of poetry,—some who have soared higher, similar taste and temperament, used to revel in, and others who have taken a wider range,—there making at the same time many young attempts are none whose writings are better calculated to in epic, dramatic, and ballad poetry. In her delight as well as inform. Her poems are always twenty-first year she was married to William graceful and beautiful, and often vigorous; but Howitt, a gentleman well calculated to encourage they are essentially feminine: they afford evi. and promote her poetical and intellectual taste,- dence of a kindly and generous nature, as well himself a poet of considerable genius, and the au- as of a fertile imagination, and a safely-cultivated thor of various well-known works. We have rea- mind. She is entitled to a high place among the son to believe that her domestic life has been a Poets of Great Britain; and a still higher among singularly happy one. Mr. and Mrs. Howitt spent those of her sex by whom the intellectual rank the year after their marriage in Staffordshire. of woman has been asserted without presumpThey then removed to Nottingham, where they tion, and maintained without display.