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Of her character and her poetry, a distinguished critic' thus speaks: "She was endowed with considerable genius, and with an ample portion of that fine enthusiasm which sometimes may be mistaken for it; but her taste was far from good, and her numerous productions (a few excepted) are disfigured by florid ornament and elaborate magnificence."


December Morning, 1782.

I love to rise ere gleams the tardy light,

Winter's pale dawn; and as warm fires illume
And cheerful tapers shine around the room,
Through misty windows bend my musing sight,
Where, round the dusky lawn, the mansions white,

With shutters closed, peer faintly through the gloom
That slow recedes; while yon gray spires assume,
Rising from their dark pile, an added height
By indistinctness given.-Then to decree

The grateful thoughts to God, ere they unfold
To Friendship or the Muse, or seek with glee

Wisdom's rich page: 0 hours! more worth than gold,
By whose blest use we lengthen life, and, free

From drear decays of age, outlive the old!


From thy waves, stormy Lannow, I fly;

From thy rocks, that are lash'd by their tide;
From the maid, whose cold bosom, relentless as they,
Has wreck'd my warm hopes by her pride!
Yet lonely and rude as the scene,

Her smile to that scene could impart

A charm, that might rival the bloom of the vale-
But away, thou fond dream of my heart!
From thy rocks, stormy Lannow, I fly!
Now the blasts of the winter come on,

And the waters grow dark as they rise!
But 'tis well!--they resemble the sullen disdain
That has lower'd in those insolent eyes.
Sincere were the sighs they represt,

But they rose in the days that are flown!
Ah, nymph! unrelenting and cold as thou art,
My spirit is proud as thine own!

From thy rocks, stormy Lannow, I fly!

Receive me, and shield my vex'd spirit, ye groves,
From the pangs of insulted desire!

To thy rocks, stormy Lannow, adieu!


When life is hurried to untimely close,

In the years of crystal eyes and burnish'd hair,
Dire are the thoughts of death;-eternal parting
From all the precious soul's yet known delights,
All she had clung to here;-from youth and hope,
And the year's blossom'd April ;-bounding strength,
Which had outleap'd the roes, when morning suns
Yellow'd their forest glade ;-from reaper's shout
And cheerful swarm of populous towns;-from Time,
Which tells of joys forepast, and promises
The dear return of seasons, and the bliss
Crowning a fruitful marriage;-from the stores
Of well-engrafted knowledge;-from all utterance,
Since, in the silent grave, no talk!-no music!-
No gay surprise, by unexpected good,
Social, or individual!-no glad step

Of welcome friend, with more intenseness listen'd
Than warbled melody!-no father's counsel!-
No mother's smile!-no lover's whisper'd vow!-
There nothing breathes save the insatiate worm,
And nothing is, but the drear altering corse,
Resolving silently to shapeless dust,
In unpierced darkness and in black oblivion.


MRS. CHARLOTTE SMITH, the daughter of Nicholas Turner, Esq., of Stoke House, Surrey, was born in King street, St. James' Square, London, May 4, 1749. Her father possessed another house at Bignor Park, on the banks of the Arun, where she passed many of her earliest years, of which she speaks in the following beautiful stanza:

Then, from thy wildwood banks, Aruna, roving,

Thy thymy downs with sportive steps I sought,
And Nature's charms with artless transport loving,
Sung, like the birds, unheeded and untaught.

"How enchanting must have been the day-dreams of a mind thus endowed, in the early season of youth and hope! Amid scenery which had nursed the fancies of Otway and of Collins, she trod on sacred ground: every charm of Nature seems to have made the most lively and distinct impression on her very vivid

1 The Arun is a river of Sussex county, on the southern coast of England.

mind; and her rich imagination must have peopled it with beings of another world."

From a very early age she had an insatiable thirst for reading, and devoured almost every book that fell in her way. From her twelfth to her fifteenth year, her father resided occasionally in London, and she was, while still a child, introduced into society. She lost her mother when quite young, and, when her father was about to form a second marriage, the friends of the young poetess made efforts, most foolishly, to "establish her in life," as it is called, and induced her to accept the hand of a Mr. Smith, the son and partner of a rich West India merchant. She was then but sixteen, and her husband twenty-one years of age. It was a most ill-advised and rash union, and productive of the most unhappy results. The first years of her marriage she lived in London, which was not at all congenial to her tastes. Subsequently her father-in-law purchased for her husband, who was negligent of his business in the city, a farm in Hampshire. Here, if possible, he did worse, keeping too large an establishment, and entering into injudicious and wild speculations. She foresaw the storm that was gathering, but had no power to prevent it.

In 1776, Mrs. Smith's father died. A few years after this event, her husband's affairs were brought to a crisis, and he was imprisoned for debt. With great fortitude and devoted constancy she accompanied him, and by her untiring exertions was enabled to procure his release. During his confinement, she collected her sonnets and other poems for publication. They were much admired, and passed through no less than eleven editions. In the following letter, she describes, most graphically,


It was on the 2d day of July that we commenced our journey. For more than a month I had shared the restraint of my husband, in a prison, amidst scenes of misery, of vice, and even of terror. Two attempts had, since my last residence among them, been made by the prisoners to procure their liberation, by blowing up the walls of the house. Throughout the night appointed for this enterprise, I remained dressed, watching at the window, and expecting every moment to witness contention and bloodshed, or perhaps be overwhelmed by the projected explosion. After such scenes, and such apprehensions, how deliciously soothing to my wearied spirits was the soft, pure air of the summer's morning, breathing over the dewy grass, as (having slept one night on the road) we passed over the heaths of Surrey! My native hills at length burst upon my view! I beheld once more the fields where I had passed my happiest days, and amidst the perfumed turf with which one of those fields was strown, perceived with delight the beloved group from whom I had been so long divided, and for whose fate my affections were ever anxious.

The transports of this meeting were too much for my exhausted spirits. After all my sufferings, I began to hope I might taste content, or experience at least a respite from my calamities!

But this state of happiness did not long continue. Mr. Smith's liberty was again threatened, and he went to France. His wife and their eight children accompanied him, and they spent an anxious and forlorn winter in Normandy. The next year she returned to England, and by her great and persevering exertions, enabled her husband to follow her. They hired a mansion at Woolbeding, in Sussex, a parish of which Otway's' father had been rector. Here she wrote her twenty-sixth Sonnet:


On thy wild banks, by frequent torrents worn,

No glittering fanes or marble domes appear;
Yet shall the mournful Muse thy course adorn,

And still to her thy rustic waves be dear!
For with the infant Otway, lingering here,

Of early woes she bade her votary dream-
While thy low murmurs soothed his pensive ear;
And still the poet consecrates the stream.
Beneath the oak and beech, that fringe thy side,
The first-born violets of the year shall spring;
And in thy hazels, bending o'er the tide,

The earliest nightingale delight to sing:
While kindred spirits, pitying, shall relate
Thy Otway's sorrows, and lament his fate!

It now became necessary for her to exert her talents as a means of support, and she translated two or three stories from the French. Her husband being again obliged to leave the country, she removed with her children to a small cottage in another part of Sussex, and, while residing here, published a new edition of her Sonnets, with additions. She then tried her powers in another line of literature, and 1788 gave to the public her "Emmeline, or the Orphan of the Castle," which novel was exceedingly popular. In the following year, she published another novel, entitled, "Ethelinda ;" and to this succeeded, in very rapid succession, "Celestina," "Desmond," "The Old Manor House," "The Wanderings of Warwick," "The Banished Man," "Montalbert," and others, besides several beautiful little volumes for young persons, entitled, "Rural Walks," "Rambles Farther," "Minor Morals;"-in all about forty volumes! During all this time, she suffered severe family afflictions, in the loss of three children, as well as pecuniary trials in the adjustment of her husband's affairs. But the hour was arriving when grief was to subdue this long-tried victim. Her husband, it is said, died in legal confinement in March, 1806; and on the 28th of October following, she herself died, after a lingering and painful illness, which she bore with the utmost patience, retaining her faculties to the last.

As a poetess, Charlotte Smith has been excelled by few of her country-women. Her Sonnets are "most musical, most melancholy, and abound with touches of tenderness, grace, and beauty; and her descriptions of rural scenery are particularly fresh and vivid." "But while we allow," says Sir Walter Scott, "high praise to the sweet and sad effusions of Mrs. Smith's muse, we cannot admit that by these alone she could have ever risen to the height of eminence which we are disposed to claim for her prose narratives." But, however this might have been during her life, and when Walter Scott included her in his library of British Novelists, Charlotte Smith is now most known and most valued for her poetry, which is distinguished by great grace and elegance.


Queen of the silver bow!-by thy pale beam,
Alone and pensive, I delight to stray,
And watch thy shadow trembling in the stream,
Or mark the floating clouds that cross thy way:
And while I gaze, thy mild and placid light

Sheds a soft calm upon my troubled breast;
And oft I think, fair planet of the night,

That in thy orb the wretched may have rest;
The sufferers of the earth perhaps may go,

Released by death, to thy benignant sphere,
And the sad children of despair and woe

Forget, in thee, their cup of sorrow here.
Oh! that I soon may reach thy world serene,
Poor wearied pilgrim in this toiling scene!


Sweet poet of the woods, a long adieu!

Farewell, soft minstrel of the early year!
Ah! 'twill be long ere thou shalt sing anew,

And pour thy music on the night's dull ear.
Whether on Spring thy wandering flights await,
Or whether silent in our groves you dwell,
The pensive muse shall own thee for her mate,

And still protect the song she loves so well.
With cautious step the love-lorn youth shall glide

Through the lone brake that shades thy mossy nest;
And shepherd girls from eyes profane shall hide

The gentle bird who sings of pity best:
For still thy voice shall soft affections move,
And still be dear to sorrow, and to love!


Sighing, I see yon little troop at play,

By sorrow yet untouch'd, unhurt by care,
While free and sportive they enjoy to-day,

"Content and careless of to-morrow's fare."
O happy age! when Hope's unclouded ray

Lights their green path, and prompts their simple mirth,

Ere yet they feel the thorns that lurking lay

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