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other documentary. The generations move so fast and change so much that Mrs. Kemble testified even more than she affected to do, which was much, to antique manners and a closed chapter of history. Her conversation swarmed with people and with criticism of people, with the ghosts of a dead society. She had, in two hemispheres, seen every one and known every one, had assisted at the social comedy of her age. Her own habits and traditions were in themselves a survival of an era less democratic and more mannered. I have no room for enumerations, which moreover would be invidious; but the old London of her talk—the direction I liked it best to take-was in particular a gallery of portraits. She made Count d'Orsay familiar, she made Charles Greville present; I thought it wonderful that she could be anecdotic about Miss Edgeworth. She reanimated the old drawing-rooms, relighted the old lamps, retuned the old pianos. The finest comedy of all, perhaps, was that of her own generous whimsicalities. She was superbly willing to amuse, and on any terms, and her temper could do it as well as her wit. If either of these had failed, her eccentricities were always there. She had, indeed, so much finer a sense of comedy than any one else that she herself knew best, as well as recked least, how she might exhilarate. I remember that at the play she often said, “Yes, they're funny; but they don't begin to know how funny they might be!" Mrs. Kemble always knew, and her good-humor effectually forearmed her. She had more,"habits” than most people have room in life for, and a theory that to a person of her disposition they were as necessary as the close meshes of a strait waistcoat. If she had not lived
by rule (on her showing), she would have lived infallibly by riot. Her rules and her riots, her reservations and her concessions, all her luxuriant theory and all her extravagant practice, her drollery that mocked at her melancholy, her imagination that mocked at her drollery, and her rare forms and personal traditions that mocked a little at everythingthese were part of the constant freshness which made those who loved her love her so much. “If my servants can live with me a week they can live with me forever," she often said; "but the first week sometimes kills them." I know not what friends it may also have killed, but very fully how many it spared; and what dependants, what devotees, what faithful and humble affections clung to her to the end and after. A domestic who had been long in her service quitted his foreign home the instant he heard of her death, and, travelling for thirty hours, arrived travel-stained and breathless, like a messenger in a romantic tale, just in time to drop a handful of flowers into her grave.
English Poets." By ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
THOSE days of, Elizabeth! We call them the
days of Elizabeth, but the glory fell over the ridge, in illustration of the half-century beyond: those days of Elizabeth! Full were they of poets as the summer days are of birds:
No branch on which a fine bird did not sit,
We hear of the dramatists; but the lyric singers were yet more numerous,—there were singers in every class. Never since the first nightingale brake voice in Eden, arose such a jubilee-concert: never before nor since has such a crowd of true poets uttered true poetic speech in one day. Not in England evermore! Not in Greece, that we know. Not in Rome, by what we know. Talk of their Augustan era--we will not talk of it, lest we desecrate our own of Elizabeth. The latter was rightly prefigured by our figure of the chorus of swans. It was besides the milky way of poetry: it was the miracle-age of poetical history. We may fancy that the master-souls of Shakespeare and Spenser, breathing, stirring in divine emotion, shot vibratory life through other souls in electric association: we may hear, in fancy, one wind moving every leaf in a forest-one voice responded to by a thousand rock-echoes. Why, a common man walking through the earth in those days, grew a poet by position-even as a child's shadow cast upon a mountain slope is dilated to the aspect of a giant's.
If we, for our own parts, did enact a Briareus, we might count these poets on the fingers of our hundred hands, after the fashion of the poets of Queen Anne's time, counting their syllables. We do not talk of them as "faultless monsters," however wonderful in the multitude and verity of their gifts: their faults were numerous, too. Many poets of an excellent sweetness, thinking of poetry that, like love,
It was to be all made of fantasy,– fell poetry-sick, as they might fall love-sick, and knotted associations, far and free enough to girdle the earth withal, into true love-knots of quaintest devices. Many poets affected novelty rather than truth; and many attained to novelty rather by attitude than altitude, whether of thought or word. Worst of all, many were incompetent to Sir Philip Sidney's ordeal—the translation of their verses into prose--and would have perished utterly by that hot ploughshare. Still, the natural healthy eye turns toward the light, and the true calling of criticism remains the distinguishing of beauty. Love and honor to the poets of Elizabethhonor and love to them all!
REFLECTIONS IN WESTMINSTER
WESTMINSTER ABBEY. From “The Spectator."
THEN I am in a serious humour, I very often
walk by myself in Westminster Abbey; where the gloominess of the place, and the use to which it is applied, with the solemnity of the building, and the condition of the people who lie in it, are apt to fill the mind with a kind of melancholy, or rather thoughtfulness, that is not disagreeable. I yesterday passed a whole afternoon in the churchyard, the cloisters, and the church, amusing myself with the tomb-stones and inscriptions that I met with in those several regions of the dead. Most of them recorded nothing else of the buried person, but that he was born upon one day, and died upon another; the whole history of his life being comprehended in those two circumstances that are common to all mankind. I could not but look upon these registers of existence, whether of brass or marble, as a kind of satire upon the departed persons; who had left no other memorial of them, but that they were born, and that they died. . They put me in mind of several persons mentioned in the battles of heroic poems, who have sounding names given them, for no other reason but that they may be killed, and are celebrated for nothing but being knocked on the head.
The life of these men is finely described in holy writ by “the path of an arrow,” which is immediately closed up and lost.
Upon my going into the church, I entertained myself with the digging of a grave; and saw in every shovelful of it that was thrown up the fragment of a bone or skull intermixed with a kind of fresh mouldering earth that some time or other had a place in the composition