1828
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hope.

Friendship's Offering. A Literary Album, and Christmas and New Year's Present, for 1828.

Mrs. Cornwell Baron Wilson


Twelve irregular Spenserians (ababcC). Margaret Harries, writing under her married name of "Mrs. Cornwell Baron Wilson," updates the eighteenth-century allegorical ode. Rather than dwelling on the qualities of her subject, she describes the different forms in which "Hope" appears to its devotees, concluding in the devotional vein with the appearance of Hope's sister Faith. Margaret Harries Baron-Wilson later edited The Weekly Belle Assemblee.

Literary Magnet: "This work, originally published by Mr. Lupton Relfe, has this year fallen into new hands, and makes its appearance under the auspices of Messrs. Smith & Elder, of Cornhill. It has been prepared under disadvantages of no ordinary kind, and has therefore a claim to even more critical indulgence than it seems to stand in need of. The plates are on the whole decidedly inferior to those of the preceding volume, although several of them are of great beauty" NS 4 (1827) 372.

Monthly Review: "It is edited by Mr. C. Knight, and considering the advanced period of the season when his duties commenced, we have beens surprised to find, that he got through them with so much expedition and success. He has contrived to collect together a sufficient number of articles, which, though none of them are marked by any great degree of excellence, are all 'readable' enough, and may serve to wile away an hour or two of a winter's evening" S3 7 (January 1828) 71.

New Monthly Magazine: "There is some very sweet and graceful poetry by the Rev. Mr. Moultrie, and a very clever tale in verse, by Mr. Praed; and among the other poetical contributors we may mention the names of Southey, Pringle, Allan Cunningham, Mrs. Opie, L. E. L., John Clare, Bernard Barton, Neele, &c. &c. — a highly attractive list. The embellishments are in general well selected and engraved" NS 24 (January 1828) 7.



Beautiful fairy Spirit! that dost take
More shapes and features than, 'tis said, of yore,
So ancient legends write, (perchance they make
The fabled tale,) PROTEUS, the changeling, wore;
Beautiful fairy Spirit! can there be
A breast that does not ope some vista-light for thee?

No! — for thou stealest on, with subtle art,
Unfelt — unseen — unknown, — till thou hast fix'd
Thy mystic dwelling in the human heart;
But with so many diff'ring passions mix'd,
That oft we know thee by some other name,
But, though miscall'd by us, thine office is the same.

POETS have sung, and PAINTERS fashion'd thee,
In many hues and colors, as, of old,
Cameleons were; — some, with thy vestments free,
And zone loose flowing; — some, with locks of gold,
A fair-brow'd nymph; — some, with thine anchor cast,
Firm in a rock; — but all — all own thee, HOPE, at last!

YOUTH sees thee in the sunbeam's glowing ray,
Or on the dancing stream; for, to the heart,
In that glad season, simplest things convey
Thine image, beyond Bard or Sculptor's art;
The Bird's wild song, the Summer's budding flowers,
All breath alike of HOPE, in youth's unclouded hours!

The LOVER greets thee in an April smile,
Half tears, half sunshine; — thence his fancy draws
A store of Hope, on which his soul awhile
May banquet, till the icy coldness thaws
That maiden bashfulness, or worldly art,
Too often, for man's peace, wraps round the female heart!

The SAILOR hails thee in the fresh'ning breeze
That fills his swelling sail, and wafts him home;
The SOLDIER, 'mid the battle's tumult, sees
Thy form on Victory's helm; and, as the foam
Whitens his gallant steed, he spurs him on,
Till glory's goal is gain'd — and honor's meed is won!

Thou visitest the CAPTIVE'S prison-grate,
In dreams of former years, leaving him free
To fancy's musings; and, though desolate,
Thou giv'st to him ideal Liberty;
For memory becomes Hope: she bids him roam
Back to the forest-glades, that screen his cottage home!

Thou comest to the MOTHER, watching pale
Beside the couch on which her FIRST-BORN lies,
Like a young lily, by the Summer gale,
Too rudely breath'd on; to her anxious eyes
Thou shew'st thyself, in the faint, hectic streak
(Like morning's earliest beam) that kindles o'er his cheek!

But thou deceiv'st her, HOPE! for in the light,
Glancing so wildly from his sunken eye,
In the flush'd cheek, and brow's transparent white,
Less sanguine gazers DEATH'S fell shaft descry;
They know the blush that unearthly bloom
Comes (like a mocking fiend) the herald of the tomb!

HOPE! to the aged and expecting SAINT,
Thou com'st with rays of glory; wearing then
An angel's form, — (as sacred poets paint
Those who, of old, dwelt 'midst the "Sons of men,"
Veil'd in their mortal nature for awhile,
To make the barren waste a second Eden smile!)

Thou dost descend to HIM, radiant with love,
And cloth'd in robes of mercy; at the last
Coming, as did the heaven-directed dove,
To shew the fury of the waters past;
Thou art "the still small voice," within his breast,
Calling the wave-toss'd ark to everlasting rest!

Beautiful holy Spirit! thou dost bring
Thy sister, FAITH, with her meek up-rais'd eyes,
And bearing "peace and healing on her wing,"
To waft the SOUL back to its native skies;
With such blest guides — such "full assurance" giv'n,
God calls the JUST from earth, to perfect him in heav'n.

[pp. 66-69]