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The book club, guarded from your modern Of disputable virtae (nay not, sin) trick
When Christian doctrine was enforoed at Of shaking dangerous questions from the church.
My mother's bater."
Fancy the life that the Italian child Dear heaven, how silly are the things that was to live with this British aunt, and live
you will strike the key-note of all the In thickets, and eat berries!
story of Aurora Leigb. “ I, alas,
It did not kill her, this life, as it does A wild bird scarcely fledged, was brought to
so many, chilling all the warm woman's And she was there to moet me. Very kind.
soul within them, nor did it drive her Bring the clean water; give out the fresh mad. What it did do for her, her cousHood.
in Romney Leigh learned, one June
day, when he surprised her crowning "She stood upon the steps to welcome me, Calm, in black garb. I clung about her
her own brows with ivy-leaves, and neck
would have taken her in his band to Young babes, who catch at every shred of be his dear and docile wife, and belp
wool To draw the new light closer, catch and cling him in his philanthropic works. He Less blindly. In my cars, my father's word was a proud, calm, earnest man, this Hummod ignorantly, as the sea in shells, cousin Romney, the unwilling heir of 'Love, love, my child.' She, black there with
all the Leighs, a dreamer of dreams, not my grief, Might feel my love she was his sister once
for himself but for his race, and sleepI clung to her. A moment, she seemed less at heart until, by personal sacrimoved,
fice, and personal toil, he should have Kissed me with cold lips, suffered me to cling, done something to bridge over the And drew me feebly through the ball, into The room she sate in.
dreadful chasm between the helpless
horrible multitudes of the poor and vile, “There, with some strange spasm and his own stately order of the rich Of pain and passion, she wrung loose my hands
and great. He asks his cousin's hand Imperiouely, and held mo at arm's length, to help him in his work, and when she And with two gray-steel, naked-bladed eyes speaks to him of her own dreams, of Searcbed through my face-ay, stabbed it that artistic life she longs for, that
through and through, Througle brows, and cheeks, and chin, as if to
service of beauty to which she had find
vowed herself when her soul, A wicked murderer in my innocent face, If not bere, there, perhaps. Then, drawing " At poetry's divine first finger-touch, breath,
Let go conventions and sprang up surprised, She struggled for her ordinary calm,
Convicted of the great etornities And missed it rather told me not to shrink, Between two worlds," As if she had told me not to lie or swearshe loved my father, and would love me, too, ho smiles sadly, as upon the folly of a As long as I deserved it.' Very kind.
child, and speaks of woman's sphere in
the old-fashioned, maddening way, and “ I understood her meaning afterward; She thought to find my mother in my face,
80, unconsciously, reéchoing with his And questioned it for ibat. For she, my aunt, deep voice the tedious, dreary draw). Had loved my father truly, as she could, ings of her dismal aunt, rouses all the And bated, with the gall of gentle souls, scornful soul within Aurora's beart, and My Tuscan mother, who had fooled away A wise man from wise courses, a good man
wins for himself a dismissal as poignant From obvious duties, and, depriving ber, and as positive as ever man received. His sister, of the household precedence,
Unutterable is the wrath of the dis Had wronged his tenants, robbed his nativo
mal aunt on hearing this, and very land, And made him mad, alike by life and death,
sharply does she set before Aurora the In love and sorrow. She had pored for years facts, that all her father's fortune, by the What sort of woman could be suitable
conditions of the entail in the house of To her sort of hate, to entertain it with : And so, her very curiosity
Leigh, must pass away to Romney, Became bate, too, and all the idealism
since no child of a foreign marriage She ever used in life, was used for hate,
could inherit of their race. And so the Till late, so nourished, did exceed at last aunt and the niece face each other at The love from wbich it grew, in strength and beat,
last; but, before either can give way, And wrinkled her smooth conscience with a death comes and drops his baton on
the tourney. In the night the aunt dies, and, in the morning, they find leaves Romney on the point of being her sitting upright near ber bed, and wedded, at last, to Lady Waldemar. holding in her hand a letter with un- In Paris, Aurora, wandering on the broken seal. This letter contains a quays, meets Marian-Marian, but ah! dood of gift, from Romney to his aunt, how changed! A shame-faced, sorrowof theirty thousand pounds, intended by stricken shadow of that fair young Mahim to be left for a provision to the else rian she had known before, and bearing disinberited Aurora. But Aurora will in her arms the sad burden of a fatherbave no such gifts; and, as the letter had less child. How came she there, and in never been opened, she resolutely ro- such plight? Prose must not tell the fuses to regard it as received, and, put- dreadful tale from which the muse berting back her cousin's purse as she had self recoils with shuddering. Enough that put back bis band, she goes her way to she is there, betrayed beyond redempLondon, there to win for herself the tion, trampled, excommunicate of men broad of daily life, and the ivy-wreath and women,
and there, because a lovely of immortality.
widow, the Lady Waldemar must have Romney, meanwhile, pursues his her way and wed the man she willed to dream with equal faith and equal hope. love. Aurora, as the reader of discroHe becomes a leader of the Christian tion will have long ago faforred, is Socialists ;" is foremost in every effort, neither moek nor over mild of temper, anywhere made, to raise the fallen, and and when she takes her pen to write the to steady the tottering, and consecrates things which she has seen and heard, to bis gifts, his fortune, and his life to the ber friend and the friend of Romney, poor.
the painter, Vincent Carrington, she The cousins do not meet till one day puts such words upon the paper as there comes to Aurora's study a cer- well prepare the way for the indescribatain lovely widow-Lady Waldemar- ble letter that follows to the address of who, bolding her gay booth in May “Lady Waldemar." Fair, has seen and loved the high-souled From Paris to Italy she then wends Romney, and now seeks bis cousin's her way, back to bor Italy, her mother's intervention to save him from contract- and her father's grave, and takes with ing a marriage with a poor outcast girl, her the hapless Marian and Marian's Marian Erle. Romney, it seems, means poor child." In that fair lard of light to wed this Marian, partly as a protest and fragrance, she breathes a wbile from against the wicked spirit of caste, and the feverish activity of her life and the partly because he has found her to be a multitude of her emotions. And there noblo-hearted, pure-souled, affectionate again June finds her- June, that once and obedient girl, who is ready to wore brought to ber its freshest roses, when ship bim, and to do bis generous will. she turned from them to clasp her ivyAurora goes to see Marian, finds her in wreath-June comes again with more the dismalost places-borself a flower of immortal roses, and now not in vain. spring-loves ber for her gentleness, Romney Leigh stands before her, humpitios her for hor terrible story, and, bled, but more manly proud than ever. when Romney comes in upon their in- His dreains have faded—the creatures, terview, gives him her hand, and wel- before whom the pearls of his life were comes bis humble bride to the haughty thrown by him. with lavish bands, have house of Leigh. The wedding is ap- turned again and rent him; the society pointed to take place at St. James's he would have healed bas spurned him. church, where all the fashion of Lon- Leigh Hall bas been laid in ashes by don are convened to meet all London's the besotted mob, and be, its lord, has wretchedness, and witness this strange come to take for his own wife, before union. The guests arrive, rich and the world, that desolate Marian, wrongod poor, fine and foul. The parson comes beyond redress through him and, for his and the bridegroom; but they wait and own that fatherless child of shame. look and wait in vain for the bride, who But Marian has learned something in appears not. She has gone, it seems, this strange, dreadfal life as well as he, gone away with some evil woman, and and she knows now too well wbat love brought to shame the proud philanthro- is, not to know that never did she love py of Romney.
the Romney, whom she bad so blindly When, in a little while after this sad worshiped, so well as when she refuses business, Aurora goes to Franoo, she to be his, and puts back the hand he proudly offers her, with a pride more It is not well that Aurora Leigh should subtle yet and more serene. To her 80 often interrupt the interest of her her child remains : to Romney–what? passionate and earnest narrative with The roses of that old June-day made reflections artistic and philosophical, now immortal! Blinded in the fire which, however good in themselves, which had consumed, in one flame, the only disturb the roader's mind and imhome of his fathers and the dream of portune him, like bores at a marriagebis youth, the high-souled Romney sees feast. Neither is it well that Mrs. with clearer iuward sight than ever. Browning, after casting away so many And Aurora sees, too-sees the mean- of her old quaintnesses of speech, should ing of her life as she would not see it in adopt new phrases, to which no objecthose old, defiant days, when she had tion can be made, indeed, on the score all things yet to prove, and, more, her- of their pedantry, but which are only self to try. And, seeing, she comes to too flatly and coarsely vernacular. If Romney, and lays her hand in bis, and, these phrases were fower in number lo! "the morning and the evening than they are, and, still more, if they made his day." Upon which day let were not accompanied by images of the Do clouded words of ours intrudo, but same kind, we should have made no Nonly the song of Aurora's self, singing lusion to their existence. But, as it is.
we cannot help taking them as evidence "O, great mystery of love!- that Mrs. Browning has picked up some In which absorbed, loss, anguish, treason's self Enlarges rapture, -as & pebble, dropt
where a realistic theory of her art, which In some full wine-cup, over-brims the wine !
is sure to lead her, unless she quickly While we two sate together, leaned that night abandons it, into some new and very So close, my very garments
crept and thrilled positive faults. Nothing but a theory, With strange electric life; and both my cheeks Grew red, then pale, with toucbes from my hair
for instance, we are sure could have In which his breath was; while the golden moon
induced a woman of genius and fine perWas hung before our faces as the badge ceptions to compare the human soul and Of some sublime inherited despair,
its little obstinacies to a dog snapping Since ever to be seen by only one A voice said, low and rapid as a sigh,
at a bone, in spite of all the_slaps of Yet breaking, I felt conscious. from a smile- reason and nature ! Mrs. Browning *Thank God, wbo made me blind to make me should remember her own fine defense
see! Shine on, Aurora, dearest light of souls,
of the living age, and reflect that if, in Which rul'st for evermore both day and night! Homer's time, men washed neither their I am happy.'"
hands nor their words, in our time, men
wash both, yet need not, for that, be Thus was crowned the life of Auro- less heroic than Achilles, nor less poetio ra Leigh-thus were the June roses than a Homer. twined with the ivy in her wreath. What shall we say, too, of the injust
Tamely enough have we passed over ice which Mrs. Browning, no doubt the way which the poet treads with fiery- unintentionally, does to the “Christian winged feet! Wo have but sought to Socialists” of England, in her portraitshow you, reader, what manner of way ure of the opinions and purposes of it is, and in what company you shall Romney Leigh? Simply that it is unjourney upon it. Taking in either hand intentional, and yet much to be regretted. the band of Aurora and of Romney, you It is clear that Mrs. Browning's acwill not find the road tedious nor the quaintance with Englishmen of that end of it unprofitable.
stamp must be very slight and super, So much for the story's significance! ficial, or she could never have imagined Shall we be ungracious, now, and quar- that her odd compound of Owenism, rel a little with our poet? Since she is Fourierism and St. Simonism, repreour poet, we think we must.
sented the doctrines of the high-spirited, And let us begin by saying the clear-headed, Christian gentlemen, of worst thing we have to say of Aurora wbom Frederio Denison Maurice may Leigh. The poem is too long, and this be taken as the type. not because the story is diffusely told This philosophic blunder brings with for the absolute narrative of the work is it an artistio imperfection; for nobody singularly concise and nervous, por en. over held such notions as Romney Leigh cumbered with a dozen superfluous ad- is made to hold, and yet worked such jectives in the whole-but, because too work for others and for himself. The many things are told besides the story. thing is out of nature. Out of nature, too, do we hold it to be, that Aurora an immediate perusal of the poem itself, Leigh should bave supposed that Rom- whether we are in the right or in the noy bad married Lady Waldemar when wrong he came to her in Florence. Perhaps For, however they may pass upon it was necessary, for the purposes of the our criticisms we are confident that poem, that Aurora should be made to they will agree with us in our commisunderstand him in so abject a way ; mendation of this earnest and beautiful but we cannot belp entering our mascu- work. They will rejoice that we have line protest against the customary de- anticipated, by quotation, so little of preciation of masculine magnanimity in the pleasure reserved for them in its which all our lady-writers indulge. pages; they will believe, with that
Doubtless, we men are a very selfish the age cannot be so very hopeless an set of creatures ; but are we so utterly age after all, in which such a woman as incapable, as a body, of high-souled a Mrs. Browning can live such a life as tions, that a young lady, herself of very is borne witness to by fruits like the noble mind, should be fairly represent: noble thoughts and glorious aspirations ed as doing violence to the language of of “Aurora Leigh ;" and they will echo a very intellectual man, in order to in- our hope that many a Christmas yet to terpret it away from its natural and como may be gladdened, and many a simply noble significance? We do not New Year made memorable, by now explain our allusion more fully, because songs from one who sings so wisely, 80 wo leave it to our readers to judge from womanly, and so well.
ODORS OF PLANTS.
Court with sweet breath the pleased and passive air."
the children of the North delight to there starts a bold boy with eager glance, hear, that tells of the revenge some flow- and he steps up to the maid and pressos ers took on a fair maiden. She lies sweet- his hot kisses upon her half-parted lips. ly slumbering on her couch, and by her His friends and companions surround side stands the vase filled with fragrant them and sing their plaintive song, how flowers. And, as night sinks deeper and they rested so warm on their mother's doeper on all that lives upon earth, the bosom, where the bright sun played silence is suddenly broken by a gentle with their leaves, where gentle breezes rustling and rushing among the flowers. cooled their heated crowns, and dow and Dressed in garments not woven by hu- blessed rains fed them with heavenly man bands, and crowned with golden food, until the cruel maid came and diadems, strange, unearthly beings flut- tore them from their beloved home. ter faintly through the chamber. From And they sing, and they whisper, and the crimson bosom of the rose there dance around her couch, until morning rises a lofty lady, her curls unloosened dawns and they vanish in the dim twi. and strewn with pearls as if with bright light. But when the sun's first rays dow-drops. From the helmet of the gild the maiden's soft cheek, they fall blue aconito, a knight steps forth with upon life no more-a faded flower, she bold brow, his sword shining brightly, bas joined her witbered sisters, and the his crest crimson with blondy plumes. morning breeze has borne with their last A gentle maiden glides softly from the sweet fragrance her soul also to healily's white chalice, veiled with a silky, gossamer web; but the proud tulip sends Weird is the legend and wild, and forth a dark blackamoor, and high on bis yet there is truth in it, as in most of green turban glistens a golden crescent. the stories that live on the lips of the The crown imperial opens its gates to a people, and follow a race, through long stately monarch with sceptre in hand, and ages, from one generation to another. all the irises around send well-armed For, sweet as the fragrance of flowers sword-bearers to guard him. But from the is all day long, it becomes poison at night, and fatal to life. A single mag- and even the boldest and bravest cannolia-blossom, a single daphne, even,
not but feel, when he passes at night placed in a bedroom, is said to suffice to through a dense underwood, or an ancause death in a night. How few of us, cient forest, that oppressive and anxious however, are aware of the strange and feeling, which is the result of the im. powerful effect which even the common mense mass of nitrogen exhaled from oxhalations of plants have upon our such bosts of living and breathing health and our minds. We hardly ever plants. remember that the atmosphere affects The children of Flora, however, are our physical well-being and our tem- not the same at the varying seasons of per mainly through the agency of the year, and hence, the atmosphere plants. Travelers notice it first, of also will, by the force of those ties which course, where the contrasts are most bind even “lifeless nature" together surprising. Thus there are parts of in sweet friendship, assume a different our globe entirely destitute of all vege- quality, and exert a different influence on table life, like the African deserts, our mind. Every season has not only those true seas of sand, made still its own peculiar colors, as represented more desolate by the wooded shores by the changing bues woven in the carclothed with perpetual verdure that sur- pet that covers our earth, by spring, round them on all sides. On the coast summer, and autumn, but it has likewise of the Pacific, also, similar regions, de- its own and exclusive fragrance. How prived of all life, stretch far along the could it be otherwise, when, as we know, lofty chains of the Andes. The impres- plants are the very lungs of our globesion produced by such dead and rigid lungs not carefully hidden, as with man, deserts, like that of the wide expanse within the secret parts of the body, but of the melancholy ocean, is so grand freely laid open, and ever active, within and severe, that an uneasy sensation will the reach of all our senses. Through Boon creep over the most joyous traveler, them tbis mighty earth breathes out although at first the breathing of a free, in the daytime her superfluous oxygen; pure air may appear like a relief from through them, at night, the fatal nitroheavier duties. Even the air, that has gen, and so also, in every season of the long been hanging over the burning year, whatever she has then been prosands or the silent waves, and is then ducing in her dark bosom. It is true carried off upon the wings of the storm, we cannot seize it with hands, nor weigh has a wearying, exhausting effect, and it with balancos, but it is there, and rests heavily both upon body and mind. centres only the more thoroughly, beA still, stagnant atmosphere, such as cause so secretly and unconsciously, we feel before the coming of a thunder- into all our life. Our blood and our storm, is ever oppressive and painful, nerves, now lulled into dull, drowsy and this is the permanent condition of slumber, and now raised to their fuli, the air that rests on plantless regions, healthy activity by the varied influit is not kept in healthy activity by the ences of the vegetable world, thus replife of the vegetablo kingdom beneath resent in each of us the pulsations of it. Do we not feel the same difference our great mother earth. Whose heart even in common life? During day does not swell with high hopes in time, whilst all plants exhale life-gir- spring; who has not félt the exciting ing oxygen in blessed abundance, we effect of long draughts of rich summor breathe an air of strength and comfort. air, or the sweet melancholy that is How different is it at night! The bea- wafted to us in every autumn-breeze! ven-born mind, it is true, will struggle With the soft falling snow, all our exlong and bravely against the influences uberance sinks down to the silent earth, of the material world, but, bound as it and the locked-up ground keeps, with is to this physical body, it can never its own riches, also our more boyant entirely shake off its fetters. No feelings for a time in icy fotters. activity at night-brief and spasmodic In like manner, we shall find, when we etforts alone excepted-will bear the observe the influence of such apparent character of that energy and hearty trifles with a sharper eye and a warmer good-will, which is supplied to us only heart, that even the presence of large by the bright light and healthy air of masses of certain plants may be felt in the day. It is the struggle of despair, its effect upon the atmosphere. Meaor, at best, a blind, stubborn exertion, dows and forests exhale very much the