It has been our pleasing task, on several late occasions, to notice the distinguished literary abilities of our fair countrywomen; and assured as we are that, among the causes of the prosperity and honour of a nation, the character of its females ought principally to be considered, we must be excused for repeatedly rejoicing at such unequivocal symptoms of the exaltation of that character in our empire. We cannot, indeed, be too often reminded that the natural consequence of an increase of knowledge is an accession of moral as well as of intellectual strength; and, although this wholesome effect be occasionally frustrated by a wilful perversion of the best means of improvement, — although the stores of the imagination have sometimes been disgracefully applied to the pollution of the heart, — yet is not the general correctness of the maxim affected by these deplorable exceptions. Nor have we, in modern times at least, and in our own country, to lament the unnatural union of depraved morals and cultivated talents, in more than one or two females; though we may blush to own that the degrading phaenomenon has more frequently appeared among the men. To judge, however, of the soundness of the position, which we seize every opportunity of laying down, we must follow the only method which can lead to the establishment of any important and extensive truth: we must collect as many facts as the subject affords; and we must cast our eyes over the comparative state of those countries in which the condition of the women is elevated or depressed. Pursuing the path, in a word, so admirably chalked out by a recent female writer [author's note: See the Epistles on the Character of Women, by Miss Aikin], we must trace in antient and in later ages the correspondent vigour and renown of nations with the moral excellence o their women; and we must see the general glory, and this large constituent part of it, decline together. We shall be satisfied, at present, with referring to our critique on the work in question, in the M. R. for April last; and to our remarks on the posthumous volumes of another most accomplished female [author's note: See Miss [Elizabeth] Smith's Fragments]. Over her early tomb we presumed to entwine a perishable garland; and we are now again called to add to the recorded honours, which are gathering round the monument of beauty and of genius.
The fair writer of "Psyche, or the Legend of Love," after six years of protracted malady, expired on the 24th of March 1810, in the 37th year of her age. This simple statement is sufficient to excite all the interest in the fate of that author which we could desire; and we shall not, we think, be suspected of a disposition to exaggerated panegyric, when our readers have perused the extracts which we shall transcribe from her beautiful poem, although we should assert that for elegance of design and accuracy of execution it much exceeds any poetical composition of the present day. We are so often compelled to deplore the want of a corrected taste among our contemporary writers of acknowledged genius, that, when we see these sister-qualities united in one extraordinary mind, we must be allowed to indulge in unusual congratulation to the country which has produced so rare an example. — Having proposed to herself the noble model of Spenser's versification, but having judiciously avoided all his antiquated phraseology, our poetess has composed a work which is calculated to endure the judgment of posterity, long after the possessors of an ephemeral popularity shall have faded away into a well-merited oblivion. While the hearts of our countrymen shall beat at the sweetest sounds of their native language, conveying, as nature dictates, the feelings of the purest passions, so long shall this tale of Psyche dwell on their ears and they shall think he angel still is speaking!
"Castos docet et pios amores!" is the appropriate motto prefixed to this "Legend of Love:" but we should not render justice to the author, if we omitted to insert a quotation from her preface, in which she apologizes for her selection of the subject. Although the apology, strictly speaking, be perfectly unnecessary, (from the exquisitely delicate manner in which she has treated that subject,) yet, as a tribute to female timidity, it was natural; and we own ourselves pleased to witness so engaging an example of frankness and modesty combined, as that which the following passage exhibits:
"In making choice of the beautiful ancient allegory of Love and the Soul, I had some fears lest my subject might be condemned by the frown of severer moralists; however, I hope that if such have the condescension to read, through a poem which they may perhaps think too long, they will yet do me the justice to allow, that I have only pictured innocent love, such love as the purest bosom might confess. 'Les jeunes femmes, qui ne veulent point paroitre coquettes, doivent jamais parler de l'amour comme d'une chose ou elles puissent avoir part,' says La Rochefoucault; but I believe it is only the false refinement of the most profligate court which could give birth to such a sentiment, and that love will always be found to have had the strongest influence where the morals have been the purest."
Who can differ from the foregoing sentiment? We wish that it were equally possible to anticipate the acquiescence of our readers in the apology subsequently offered for the allegorical texture of the story. That story, in our opinion, is very interesting, and not the less for the moral and instructive allegory which it so slightly yet elegantly veils: but on this subject we shall not dispute: it is obviously and entirely such a matter of taste, as cannot be decided by any criterion of judgment. If the competent reader of Psyche be gratified, and feel no drawback in his pleasure from the allegory, (we state it at the lowest,) what becomes of the argument of the objector? If otherwise, what avails the defence of the advocate? To us the fair writer appears
Simul et jucunda et idonea dicere vitae;—
and, without extending our prolegomena, we shall advance to the developement of her plan, and to the justification of our praise.
"The loves of Cupid and Psyche," says the author, "have long been a favourite subject for poetical allusion, and are well known as related by Apuleius: to him I am indebted for the outline of my tale in the two first cantos; but even there the model is not closely copied, and I taken nothing from Moliere, La Fontaine, Du Moustier, or Marino. I have seen no imitation of Apuleius except by those authors; nor do I know that the story of Psyche has any other original." — In pursuing the course of her allegorical tale, the writer would have derived (according to our conception of the subject) much assistance from the ingenious hypothesis concerning this Platonic reverie of Apuleius, which is to be found in Warburton's "Divine Legation:" but, as an attempt to support our notions relative to this hypothesis would lead us too far from our purpose, we shall be contented with the hint which we have thrown out; and though we are persuaded that the poem before us would have benefited considerably, in its sublimer passages, by reference to the digression in question, let us proceed to consider it in the attractive dress which it already wears.
After an introduction, of short extent, but replete with those beautiful common-places which constitute a principal charm of poetry, and which occur in every canto of Psyche, we are introduced to the heroine. She is faint and weary with long and solitary wanderings through "untrodden forests," and rests, at length, in "a woodland shade" of uncommon beauty; laying herself down, exhausted, and desolate of heart.
Oh! how refreshing seemed the breathing wind
To her faint limbs! and while her snowy hands
From her fair brow her golden hair unbind,
And of her zone unloose the silken bands,
More passing bright unveiled her beauty stands;
For faultless was her form as beauty's queen,
And every winning grace that Love demands,
With mild attempered dignity was seen
Play o'er each lovely limb, and deck her angel mien.
Yet, although so wretched now, the maid was of royal origin, nay, was the rival of the Queen of Beauty herself, and had innocently and unwittingly extorted from the erring crowd those divine honours
Which, Goddess! are thy due, and should be only thine.
Cytherea, indignant at this impious neglect, calls her son "with unaccustomed voice;" and complaining of the insults which she has received, she commands him to seek the fountains of joy and Sorrow in the Island of Pleasure, and there prepare the means of her revenge. The obedient son of Beauty fulfils her instructions, and, hastening to the chamber of the sleeping Psyche, drops on her lips the fatal dew of grief: but, as he wounds her gently with his dart, he is so conquered by her charms as inadvertently to wound himself also, and is anxious to repair the mischief which he has effected:
He shed in haste the balmy drops of joy
O'er all the silky ringlets of her hair;
Then stretched his plumes divine, and breathed celestial air.
Psyche catches a sort of half-entranced view of his retreating figure; and thrilled with an extasy unknown before, yet agitated by restless anxiety, she reveals her dream ("nor was it quite a dream!") to her mother. The oracle is consulted, and Psyche is abandoned on a rock by its decree. Thence she is conveyed by Zephyrs to the Island of Pleasure. The palace, and the banquet of Love, with the marriage of Cupid and Psyche, are successively described; and the happiness of the latter is clouded only by the invisibility of her lover, and by his continual absence from her, "from dawn to dewy eve." — She requests his permission to revisit her father and mother, and to assure them of her safety and delight. He reluctantly consents and thus ends the first canto.
We could extract several stanzas of great excellence, considered as specimens of descriptive poetry, from this canto: but, though the taste of the age has evidently a bias towards this species of composition, and the present writer, we think, excels all her competitors in this their favourite department, yet, as she possesses talents of a far superior nature, we shall only offer a few proofs of her minor qualifications. Let us take, for example, the following sketch of the Island of Pleasure:
'Mid the blue waves by circling seas embraced
A chosen spot of fairest land was seen;
For there with favouring hand had Nature placed
All that could lovely make the varied scene:
Eternal Spring there spread her mantle green;
There high surrounding hills deep-wooded rose
O'er placid lakes; while marble rocks between
The fragrant shrubs their pointed heads disclose,
And balmy breathes each gale which o'er the island blows.
Pleasure had called the fertile lawns her own,
And thickly strewed them with her choicest flowers;
Amid the quiet glade her golden throne
Bright shone with lustre through o'erarching bowers:
There her fair train, the ever downy Hours,
Sport on light wing with the young Joys entwined;
While Hope delighted from her full lap showers
Blossoms, whose fragrance can the ravished mind
Inebriate with dreams of rapture unconfined.
Beautiful as the above lines assuredly are, how easy of composition do they appear, compared with such passages as agitate the heart rather than soothe the imagination! How true to nature, and how true to delicacy, are the touches also of the following address:
Oh, you for whom I write! whose hearts can melt
At the soft thrilling voice whose power you prove,
You know what charm, unutterably felt,
Attends the unexpected voice of Love:
Above the lyre, the lute's soft notes above,
With sweet enchantment to the soul it steals
And bears it to Elysium's happy grove;
You best can tell the rapture Psyche feels
When Love's ambrosial lip the vows of Hymen seals.
As well understood by the poet will the following passage as the preceding must have been warmly felt by the lover:
To charm the languid hours of solitude
He oft invites her to the Muse's lore,
For none have vainly e'er the Muse pursued,
And those whom she delights, regret no more
The social, joyous hours, while rapt they soar
To worlds unknown, and live in fancy's dream:
Oh, Muse divine! thee only I implore,
Shed on my soul thy sweet inspiring beams,
And pleasure's gayest scene insipid folly seems!
Silence and solitude the Muses love,
And whom they charm they can alone suffice;
Nor ever tedious hour their votaries prove:
This solace now the lonely Psyche tries,
Or, while her hand the curious needle plies,
She learns from lips unseen celestial strains;
Responsive now with their soft voice she vies,
Or bids her plaintive harp express the pains
Which absence sore inflicts where Love all potent reigns.
The 2d canto opens with an affecting appeal to the innocent, advising them not to wish for the world and its destructive pleasures. Yet so natural is Psyche's joy at her return to her native roof, that we pity her desertion of heavenly tranquillity, with no mixture of contempt; while the affection of her parents, and the envy of her sisters, add a variety and a fresh interest to the scene. — But now we tremble at the impending ruin of our gentle heroine. She is persuaded by the malicious insinuations of her sisters to suspect her lover; and yet, unknowing why, she doubts and confides at once! How admirably a mistress of the secret springs of passion must she have been, who could have thus drawn the veil over a scene previously worked up to the highest pitch of interest:
While yet irresolute with sad surprise,
Mid doubt and love she stands in strange suspense,
Lo! gliding from her sisters wondering eyes
Returning Zephyrs gently bear her thence;
Lost all her hopes, her joys, her confidence,
Back to the earth her mournful eyes she threw,
As if imploring pity and defence;
While bathed in tears her golden tresses flew,
As in the breeze dispersed they caught the precious dew.
Psyche now unhappily performs the injunctions of malignity, conceals the fatal lamp, and disobeys the commands of her lover. The description of Cupid asleep is most elegantly finished: but the sudden and terrible change of all the realm of pleasure, to desolation, waste, and sadness, calls forth the nobler powers of the author; and, after a display of animation, vigour, and originality, in the rapid picture of a most striking situation, she gently melts into a pathetic tenderness of which we know not a parallel:
The mists of morn yet chill the gloomy air,
And heavily obscure the clouded skies;
In the mute anguish of a fixed despair
Still on the ground immoveable she lies;
At length, with lifted hands and streaming eyes,
Her mournful prayers invoke offended Love,
"Oh, let me hear thy voice once more," she cries,
"In death at least thy pity let me move,
And death, if but forgiven, a kind relief will prove.
"For what can life to thy lost Psyche give,
What can it offer but a gloomy void?
Why thus abandoned should I wish to live?
To mourn the pleasure which I once enjoyed,
The bliss my own rash folly hath destroyed;
Of all my soul most prized, or held most dear,
Nought but the sad remembrance doth abide,
And late repentance of my impious fear;
Remorse and vain regret what living soul can bear!
"Oh, art thou then indeed for ever gone!
And art thou heedless of thy Psyche's woe!
From these fond arms for ever art thou flown,
And unregarded must my sorrows flow!
Ah! why too happy did I ever know
The rapturous charms thy tenderness inspires?
Ah! why did thy affections stoop so low?
Why kindle in a mortal breast such fires,
Or with celestial love inflame such rash desires?
"Abandoned thus for ever by thy love,
No greater punishment I now can bear,
From fate no farther malice can I prove;
Not all the horrors of this desert drear,
Nor death itself can now excite a fear;
The peopled earth a solitude as vast
To this despairing heart would now appear;
Here then, my transient joys for ever past,
Let thine expiring bride thy pardon gain at last!"
Now prostrate on the bare unfriendly ground,
She waits her doom in silent agony;
When lo! the well known soft celestial sound
She hears once more with breathless ecstasy,
"Oh! yet too dearly loved! Lost Psyche! Why
With cruel fate wouldst thou unite thy power,
And force me thus thine arms adored to fly?
Yet cheer thy drooping soul, some happier hour
Thy banished steps may lead back to thy lover's bower.
"Though angry Venus we no more can shun,
Appease that anger and I yet am thine!
Lo! where her temple glitters to the sun;
With humble penitence approach her shrine,
Perhaps to pity she may yet incline;
But should her cruel wrath these hopes deceive,
And thou, alas! must never more be mine,
Yet shall thy lover ne'er his Psyche leave,
But, if the fates allow, unseen thy woes relieve.
"Stronger than I, they now forbid my stay;
Psyche beloved, adieu!" Scarce can she hear
The last faint words, which gently melt away;
And now more faint the dying sounds appear,
Borne to a distance from her longing ear;
Yet still attentively she stands unmoved,
To catch those accents which her soul could cheer,
That soothing voice which had so sweetly proved
That still his tender heart offending Psyche loved!
We have thus endeavoured to give our readers some idea (inadequate as it must be) of the merits of Psyche. So large a space has necessarily been occupied by our remarks and citations, even in so early a part of the volume, that we shall only offer a brief analysis of the contents of each remaining canto; and, consistently with our desire of establishing the high character of this poem on a secure foundation, (as far as we can hope to contribute to such an object), we shall then devote such room as we can afford to extracts from those beautiful common-places which we have previously commended, and to the notice of such errors as, in our judgment, disfigure any pages of so generally correct a composition.
Psyche approaches the Temple of Venus, as directed by Cupid. She is driven from it by an aged priest: but, when she has retired to an awful distance, she is comforted by the holy man, and assured of the ultimate forgiveness of the Goddess on certain conditions. She is adjudged to wander over the earth till she has raised an altar to the offended deity,
Where perfect happiness, in lonely state,
Has fixed her temple in secluded bower,
By foot impure of man untrodden to this hour.
She despairs of attaining this blessed seat of tranquillity, these—
Vaghi colli, ameni prati,
Di Riposo Alberghi veri!
where she is to forget all her sorrows; — when lo!
Sent by the hand of Love a turtle flies,
and, as the emblem of Innocence, precedes and directs her path. She arrives at length, conducted by this unerring guide, at the "woodland shade" which we commemorated before; and here the poem, at the end of the 2d canto, returns to its ex post facto beginning in the first; so far violating the admirable rule of the French, — "Commencez par le commencement."
In the 3d canto, a champion, in complete mail, meets the wandering fair-one. He is attended by a page, named Constance, and assumes the command of Passion, who appears as a Lion. Psyche then proceeds under the protection of her champion. She is persuaded to repose in the bower of Loose Delight: but, after a safe escape, she is led by Innocence to Retirement. She encounters Vanity and Flattery, and is exposed by them to the power of Ambition. Her Knight rescues her.
Canto IV. Psyche is benighted, and meets with Credulity, the prey of the "Blatant Beast," or Slander. The Knight is wounded in a contest with the latter, but puts her to flight. Credulity leads Psyche to the castle of Suspicion. Here we may observe, en passant, that a little confusion occurs in the allegory; and that the qualities of Suspicion and Credulity, which, when put in action, must often be identified, are rather unintelligibly interchanged. Yet although in this, and one or two other instances, the author has been embarrassed by her double design of relating a literal and a figurative story, yet on the whole we know no allegory which has been so clearly conducted through an equal extent of fable. To resume: Psyche, deluded by Suspicion, or Credulity, laments the desertion of her Knight to the train of Inconstancy. She is betrayed into the power of Jealousy, who persuades her that her Knight, by whom she was then abandoned, was Love himself. (This also, by the way, is rather indistinct; for had she. not previously known her Knight to be Love, would she have been jealous of him? — and, to get rid of these trifling objections at once, we may just remark that the name of Geloso suggests Ridicule rather than Jealousy to a classical ear, and that Disfida is a barbarous compound.) Psyche is again delivered by her Knight; and a reconciliation takes place between them.
In the Vth canto our heroine beholds the palace of Chastity. She pleads for the admission of her Knight, and obtains it through the intervention of Hymen. A hymn is introduced, celebrating the triumphs of Chastity; — (of this, we shall speak presently;) and, enraptured with the strain, Psyche desires to devote herself wholly to the service of that Queen, by whom she is intrusted to the continued guidance of the Knight. They are wrecked by a tempest in a voyage which they now take, and are thrown on the coast of Spleen. Psyche is received and sheltered by Patience.
In the VIth and last canto, the heroine is becalmed in prosecuting her voyage, surprized, and carried to the island of Indifference: she is pursued and finally rescued by her Knight. The voyage is concluded; and Psyche, brought home to the Island of Pleasure, beholds again the Temple of Love; is re-united to her lover, who, we need not say, is her faithful Knight; an, is invited by Venus to receive her apotheosis n heaven.
Such is the story of Psyche; of which the author thus farther speaks, with exemplary modesty, in her preface:
"I much regret that I can have no hope of affording any pleasure to some, whose opinion I highly respect, whom I have heard profess themselves ever disgusted by the veiled form of allegory, and yet
Are not the choicest fables of the poets,
Who were the fountains and first springs of wisdom,
Wrapt in perplexed allegories?
But If I have not been able to resist the seductions of the mysterious fair, who perhaps never appears captivating except in the eyes of her own poet, I have however remembered that my verse cannot be worth much consideration, and have therefore endeavoured to let my meaning be perfectly obvious. The same reason has deterred me from using the obsolete words which are to be found in Spenser and his imitators.
"Although I cannot give up the excellence of my subject, I am yet ready to own that the stanza which I have chosen has many disadvantages, and that it may, perhaps, be as tiresome to the reader as it was difficult to the author. The frequent recurrence of the same rhymes is by no means well adapted to the English language; and I know not whether I have a right to offer as an apology the restraint which I had imposed upon myself, of strictly adhering to the stanza which my partiality for Spenser first inclined me to adopt."
So far from thinking that the stanza, as managed by this writer, is tiresome, we are delighted with the variety and beauty of its construction. If it was indeed difficult to her in the composition, we can only say that she has completely concealed that difficulty; and that she has added another example to the scanty list of writers whose works, from the apparent facility of their execution, flatter their imitators with the hopes of arriving at an unattainable excellence;
facile ut sibi quivis
Speret idem: sudet multum, frustraque laboret
We proceed to fulfil the less agreeable part of our task, but which will not detain us long. — Idleness has seldom produced inaccuracy in this poem; and bad taste, we think, is still more rarely to be detected.
She laid her down, and piteously bethought
"Herself" on the sad changes of her fate — page 11.
is a blemish which might easily have been avoided, and is therefore deserving of censure. Of the same stamp are the following passages.
—The angry blast which sweeps along
Sparing the lovely "trembler," while the strong
Majestic tenants of the leafless wood
It levels low, — page 13.
is a bombastic description of a snowdrop escaping from the force of the wind.
For sweet refreshment all inviting seems
To taste celestial food, and pure ambrosial streams, page 13.
is, to us, unintelligible. The word "undistanced," page 130. we believe is of no authority; and, in page 131., two immediately successive stanzas end with the easy rhymes of "attentively" and "sigh;" — "eye" and "mystery." — Page 134. has the barbarism of "had strave," and it occurs again, subsequently. The "Hymn to Chastity," in page 157., is to our apprehension one of the rare instances of false taste in the volume. It is crowded with stale classical allusions, and drest out in al the moth-eaten finery of the mythological wardrobe. We have Bellerophon, and Peleus, and Hippolytus; and the "daring spring" of Dictynna; and the "trembling flight" of Arethusa; and Daphne, and Syringa; not to mention the "true histories" of Clusia, and Clelia, and Sulpicia, and Lucretia, and Virginia,
Cum multis aliis, quas nunc prescribere longum est.
To be received in Castabella's train. — page 164.
a flat and prosaic line, which has few parallels in the poem: but
And torture the too susceptible mind, p. 116.
is still worse; — and in the same stanza,
Lest "he she" loved, unmindful or unkind,
is not much better. In page 193. the coldness with which indifference hears the voice of Affection is compared to the impassibility (if we may here be allowed the term) of an "oiled surface," over which a stream of water glides, without drop gaining admission. The expression "oiled surface" is objectionable in the simile, because it irresistibly suggests an oil-case for the hat in a rainy day, and destroys the effect of comparison which, if the substance to which Indifference is compared had been judiciously chosen and specified, might have produced a very pleasing effect.
We had marked a much more numerous list of faults in the shorter poems subjoined to "Psyche:" but a passage in the advertisement of the editor has induced us to omit our intended criticisms. "These poem," he says, "may perhaps stand in need of that indulgence which a posthumous work always demands, when it did not receive the correction of the author. They have been selected from a larger number of poems, which were the occasional effusion of her thoughts, or productions of her leisure, but not originally intended or pointed out by herself for publication." We deem it equitable, therefore, to pass over such blemishes as we think we have discovered in these compositions; and, for the sake of perfect impartiality, we shall also be silent on the beauties which they certainly contain.
To return to Psyche; and to the completion of our critique. — We have now to lay before our readers some of those passages in which this pathetic writer has spoken to the hearts of all her feeling readers:
Oh! have you never known the silent charm
That undisturbed retirement yields the soul,
Where no intruder might your peace alarm,
And tenderness hath wept without control,
While melting fondness o'er the bosom stole?
Did fancy never, in some lonely grove,
Abridge the hours which must in absence roll?
Those pensive pleasures did you never prove,
Oh, you have never loved! you know not what is love!
They do not love who can to these prefer
The tumult of the gay, or folly's roar;
The Muse they know not; nor delight in her
Who can the troubled soul to rest restore,
Calm contemplation: Yes, I must deplore
Their joyless state, even more than his who mourns
His love for ever lost; delight no more
Unto his widowed heart indeed returns,
Yet, while he weeps, his soul their cold indifference spurns.
But if soft hope illumines fancy's dream,
Assuring him of love and constancy,
How exquisite do then the moments seem,
When he may hide himself from every eye,
And cherish the dear thought in secrecy!
While sweet remembrance sooths his thrilling heart,
And brings once more past hours of kindness nigh,
Recals the look of love when forced to part,
And turns to drops of joy the tears that sadly start.
We shall not anticipate, nor interrupt, the approbation with which such stanzas as the preceding and the following must be received. Nothing is more offensive to readers of taste than to be officiously directed how they are to admire; and nothing is more useless than to point out to others where the secret charm lies, in the passages proposed to their consideration:
There are who know not the delicious charm
Of sympathising hearts; let such employ
Their active minds; the trumpet's loud alarm
Shall yield them hope of honourable joy,
And courts may lure them with each splendid toy:
But ne'er may vanity or thirst of fame
The dearer bliss of loving life destroy!
Oh! blind to man's chief good who Love disclaim,
And barter pure delight for glory's empty name!
The passage at the beginning of the sixth canto,
When pleasure sparkles in the cup of youth, &c.
is of unusual excellence: but, captivating as it is, we must reluctantly exclude it from our pages, of which the limits sternly warn us to forbear. The dreadful power of indifference, that "slumber of the soul," (as it has been well denominated,) is admirably described in this passage; and every Benedict and his Beatrice should lay the lesson to heart which it so strikingly conveys. The growth and progress of this fatal apathy we must omit, as we premised but the two concluding stanzas absolutely demand insertion.
Who can describe the hopeless, silent pang
With which the gentle heart first marks her sway?
Eyes the sure progress of her icy fang
Resistless, slowly fastening on her prey;
Sees rapture's brilliant colours fade away,
And all the glow of beaming sympathy;
Anxious to watch the cold averted ray
That speaks no more to the fond meeting eye
Enchanting tales of love, and tenderness, and joy.
Too faithful heart! thou never canst retrieve
Thy withered hopes: conceal the cruel pain!
O'er thy lost treasure still in silence grieve;
But never to the unfeeling ear complain:
From fruitless struggles dearly bought refrain!
Submit at once — the bitter task resign,
Nor watch and fan the expiring flame in vain;
Patience, consoling maid, may yet be thine,
Go seek her quiet cell, and hear her voice divine!
With one other extract we must conclude. Few of our readers, we hope, will have been displeased with the length of the quotations which we have already made, but will rather thank us for having given them so many additional motives for perusing this attractive composition.
Fond youth! whom Fate hath summoned to depart,
And quit the object of thy tenderest love,
How oft in absence shall thy pensive heart
Count the sad hours which must in exile move,
And still their irksome weariness reprove;
Distance with cruel weight but loads thy chain
With every step which bids thee farther rove,
While thy reverted eye, with fruitless pain,
Shall seek the trodden path its treasure to regain.
For thee what rapturous moments are prepared!
For thee shall dawn the long expected day!
And he who ne'er thy tender woes hath shared,
Hath never known the transport they shall pay,
To wash the memory of those woes away:
The bitter tears of absence thou must shed,
To know the bliss which tears of joy convey,
When the long hours of sad regret are fled,
And in one dear embrace thy pains compensated!
Even from afar beheld, how eagerly
With rapture thou shalt hail the loved abode!
Perhaps already, with impatient eye,
From the dear casement she hath marked thy road,
And many a sigh for thy return bestowed:
Even there she meets thy fond enamoured glance:
Thy soul with grateful tenderness o'erflowed,
Which firmly bore the hand of hard mischance,
Faints in the stronger power of joy's o'erwhelming trance.
It may be objected, perhaps, to this poem, that the author too often occupies the place of the heroine, and speaks more frequently in her proper person than epic canons have allowed to the poet. We know not how this may be; or, at all events, we shall not here contest the point, whether or not the Aeneid would have gained in beauty, if Virgil had given us more such passages as — "Nescia mens hominum," — "Fortunati ambo," — and one or two others. — In an allegorical poem, and in a close though modernized imitation of Spenser's manner, the writer seems to have a sort of hereditary right to be as moral and pathetic as he pleases, in his own person: but we shall say no more in defence or in praise of Psyche. We shall allow the excellent author to make her own impression at parting, on the mind of the reader, and shall only add a warm wish that our native poetry may be improved, as it certainly ought to be, by this "rare example (as we have already expressed ourselves) of united taste and genius."
"I should willingly acknowledge with gratitude those authors who have, perhaps, supplied me with many expressions and ideas; but if I have subjected myself to the charge of plagiarism, it has been by adopting the words or images which floated upon my mind, without accurately examining, or being indeed able to distinguish, whether I owed them to my memory or my imagination,
Si id est peccatum, peccatum imprudentia est
Poetae, non qui furtum facere studuerit.
And when I confess that all I have is but the fruit of a much indulged taste for that particular style of reading, let me be excused if I do not investigate and acknowledge more strictly each separate obligation. M. T."
A portrait of Mrs. Tighe is prefixed to the volume.