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men of the same manner. It is one of that class of compositions which Mrs. Osgood has made almost exclusively her own. Had I seen it without her name, I should have had no hesitation in ascribing it to her; for there is no other person-in America certainly--who does anything of a similar kind with anything like a similar piquancy.
The point of this poem, however, might have been sharpened, and the polish increased in lustre, by the application of the emory of brevity. From what the lover says much might well have been omitted; and I should have preferred leaving out altogether the autorial comments; for the story is fully told without them. The “Why do you weep?" "Why do you frown ?" and "Why do you smile?” supply all the imagination requires; to supply more than it requires, oppresses and offends it. Nothing more deeply grieves it—or more vexes the true taste in general, than hyperism of any kind. In Germany, Wohlgeborn is a loftier title than Edelgeborn; and in Greece, the thrice-victorious at the Olympic games could claim a statue of the size of life, while he who had conquered but once was entitled only to a colossal one.
The English collection of which I speak was entitled “A Wreath of Wild Flowers from New England.” It met with a really cordial reception in Great Britain--was favorably noticed by the “Literary Gazette," " Times,” “ Atlas,” “Monthly Chronicle," and especially by the “Court Journal," "The Court and Ladies' Magazine," “ La Belle Assemblée,” and other similar works. “We have long been familiar," says the high authority of the “ Literary Gazette," " with the name of our fair author. .... Our expectations have been fulfilled, and we have here a delightful gathering of the sweetest of wild flowers, all looking as fresh and beautiful as if they had grown in the richest of English pasture in place of having been 'nursed by the cataract.' True, the wreath might have been improyed with a little more care-a trifling attention or two paid to the formation of it. A stalk here and there that obtrudes itself between the bells of the flowers, might have become so interwoven as to have been concealed, and the whole have looked as if it had grown in that perfect and beautiful form. Though, after all, we are perhaps too chary; for in Nature every leaf is not ironed out to a form, nor propped up with a wiry precision, but blown and ruffled by the
refreshing breezes, and looking as careless and easy and upaffected as a child that bounds along with its silken locks tossed to and fro just as the wind uplifts them. Page after page of this volume have we perused with a feeling of pleasure and admiration.” The "Court Journal” more emphatically says:
" Her wreath is one of violets, sweet-scented, pure and modest; so lovely that the hand that wove it should not neglect additionally to enrich it by turning her love and kindness to things of larger beauty. Some of the smaller lyrics in the volume are perfectly beautiful-beautiful in their chaste and exquisite simplicity and the perfect elegance of their composition." In fact, there was that about “The Wreath of Wild Flowers"—that inexpressible grace of thought and manner -which never fails to find ready echo in the hearts of the aristocracy and refinement of Great Britain ;-and it was here especially that Mrs. Osgood found welcome. Her husband's merits as an artist had already introduced her into distinguished society, (she was petted, in especial, by Mrs. Norton and Rogers,) but the publication of her poems had at once an evidently favorable effect upon his fortunes. His pictures were placed in a most advantageous light by her poetical and conversational ability.
Messrs. Clarke and Austin, of New York, have lately issued another, but still a very uncomplete collection of “ Poems by Frances S. Osgood.” In general, it includes by no means the best of - her works. “The Daughter of Herodias”-one of her longest compositions, and a very noble poem, putting me in mind of the best efforts of Mrs. Hemans—is omitted :-it is included, however, in the last edition of Doctor Griswold's “ Poets and Poetry of America.” In Mrs. C. and A.'s collection there occur, too, very many of those half sentimental, half allegorical compositions of which, at one period, the authoress seemed to be particularly fondfor the reason, perhaps, that they afforded her good opportunity for the exercise of her ingenuity and epigrammatic talent :no poet, however, can admit them to be poetry at all. Still, the volume contains some pieces which enable us to take a new view of the powers of the writer. A few additional years, with their inevitable sorrow, appear to have stirred the depths of her heart. We see less of frivolity-less of vivacity--more of tenderness earnestness--even passion--and far more of the true imagination
as distinguished from its subordinate, fancy. The one prevalent trait, grace, alone distinctly remains. “ The Spirit of Poetry," "To Sybil," " The Birth of the Callitriche," and "The Child and its Angel-Playmate," would do honor to any of our poets. “She Loves Him Yet,” nevertheless, will serve, better than either of these poems, to show the alteration of manner referred to. It is not only rythmically perfect, but it evinces much originality in its structure. The verses commencing, “ Yes, lower to the level,” are in a somewhat similar tone, but are more noticeable for their terse energy of expression.
In not presenting to the public at one view all that she has written in verse, Mrs. Osgood has incurred the risk of losing that credit to which she is entitled on the score of versatility—of variety in invention and expression. There is scarcely a form of poetical composition in which she has not made experiment; and there is none in which she has not very happily succeeded. Her defects are chiefly negative and by no means numerous.
Her versification is sometimes exceedingly good, but more frequently feeble through the use of harsh consonants, and such words as " thou'dst” for “thou wouldst," with other unnecessary contractions, inversions, and obsolete expressions. Her imagery is often mixed ;-indeed it is rarely otherwise. The epigrammatism of her conclusions gives to her poems, as wholes, the air of being more skilfully constructed than they really are. On the other hand, we look in vain throughout her works for an offence against the finer taste, or against decorum—for a low thought or a platitude. A happy refinement—an instinct of the pure
and delicate -is one of her most noticeable excellencies. She may be properly commended, too, for originality of poetic invention, whether in the conception of a theme or in the manner of treating it. Consequences of this trait are her point and piquancy. Fancy and näiveté appear in all she writes. Regarding the loftier merits, I am forced to speak of her in more measured terms. She has occasional passages of true imagination-but scarcely the glowing, vigorous, and sustained ideality of Mrs. Maria Brooks—or even, in general, the less ethereal elevation of Mrs. Welby. In that indescribable something, however, which, for want of a more definite term, we are accustomed to call “grace"—that charm so magical, because at once so shadowy and so potent—that Will o' the Wisp which, in its supreme development, may be said to involve nearly all that is valuable in poetry—she has, unquestionably, no rival among her countrywomen.
Of pure prose--of prose proper-she has, perhaps, never written a line in her life. Her usual magazine papers are a class by themselves. She begins with a resolute effort at being sedatethat is to say, sufficiently prosaic and matter-of-fact for the purpose of a legend or an essay; but, after a few sentences, we behold uprising the leaven of the Muse; then, with a flourish and some vain attempts at repression, a scrap of verse renders itself manifest; then comes a little poem outright; then another and another and another, with impertinent patches of prose in between-until at length the mask is thrown fairly off and far away, and the whole article---sings.
Upon the whole, I have spoken of Mrs. Osgood so much in detail, less on account of what she has actually done than on account of what I perceive in her the ability to do.
In character she is ardent, sensitive, impulsive--the very soul of truth and honor; a worshipper of the beautiful, with a heart so radically artless as to seem abundant in art; universally admired, respected, and beloved. In person,
she is about the medium height, slender even to fragility, graceful whether in action or repose ; complexion usually pale; hair black and glossy; eyes a clear, luminous grey, large, and with singular capacity for expression.
LYDIA M. CHILD.
Mrs. Child has acquired a just celebrity by many compositions of high merit, the most noticeable of which are "Hobomok,"
Philothea," and a History of the Condition of Women.” “Philothea," in especial, is written with great vigor, and, as a classical romance, is not far inferior to the “ Anacharsis ” of Barthelemi ;-its style is a model for purity, chastity, and ease. Some of her magazine papers are distinguished for graceful and brilliant imagination—a quality rarely noticed in our country
She continues to write a great deal for the monthlies and other journals, and invariably writes well. Poetry she has not often attempted, but I make no doubt that in this she would excel. It seems, indeed, the legitimate province of her fervid and fanciful nature. I quote one of her shorter compositions, as well to instance (from the subject) her intense appreciation of genius in others as to exemplify the force of her poetic expression :
MARIUS AMID THE RUINS OF CARTHAGE
Pillars are fallen at thy feet,
Fanes quiver in the air,
And thou alone art there
Though ruin is around thee;
As when the laurel crowned thee.
Though friends and fame depart-
Nor crush thy Roman heart.
Which earth can never tame;
Its flash is still the same.
May melt like mist away;
Like Carthage in decay;
May be to ruin hurled,
Heaped on a sleeping world;
Where life hath once been fair;
Some Roman lingers there. Mrs. Child, casually observed, has nothing particularly striking in her personal appearance. One would pass her in the street a dozen times without notice. She is low in stature and slightly framed. Her complexion is florid; eyes and hair are dark; features in general diminutive. The expression of her countenance, when animated, is highly intellectual. Her dress is usually plain, not even neat-anything but fashionable. Her bearing needs ex