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Mary Howitt published jointly with her husband two volumes of poems, “ The Forest Minstrel,” in 1823; and “The Desolation of Eyam, and Other Poems," in 1827. In 1834, she published “ The Seven Temptations," a series of dramatic poems; a work which, in other times, would have been alone sufficient to have made and secured a very high reputation : her dramas are full of keen perceptions, strong and accurate delineations, and powerful displays of character. She is now preparing for the press a collec. tion of her most popular ballads, a class of writing in which she greatly excels all her contemporaries; many of them are favoura. bly known to the public through the periodicals in which, at vari. ous times, they have appeared. She is also well known to the young by her “ Sketches of Natural History,” “ Tales in Verse," and other productions written expressly for their use and pleasure.
Mrs. Howitt is distinguished by the mild, unaffected, and con. ciliatory manners, for which “ the people called Quakers” have always been remarkable. Her writings, too, are in keeping with her character : in all there is evidence of peace and good will; a tender and a trusting nature; a gentle sympathy with humanity; and a deep and fervent love of all the beautiful works which the Great Hand has scattered so plentifully before those by whom they can be felt and appreciated. She has mixed but little with the world : the home-duties of wife and mother have been to her productive of more pleasant and far happier results than struggles for distinction amid crowds; she has made her reputation quietly but securely ; and has laboured successfully as well as earnestly to inculcate virtue as the noblest attribute of an English woman. If there be some of her contemporaries who have surpassed her in the higher qualities of poetry,—some who have soared higher, and others who have taken a wider range,—there are none whose writings are better calculated to delight as well as inform. Her poems are always graceful and beautiful, and often vigorous; but they are essentially feminine : they afford evidence of a kindly and generous nature, as well as of a fertile imagination, and a safely. cultivated mind. She is entitled to a high place among the Poets of Great Britain; and a still higher among those of her sex by whom the intellectual rank of woman has been asserted without presumption, and maintained without display.
AN OLD MAN'S STORY.
THERE was an old and quiet man,
And by the fire sate he; “ And now," he said, “ to you I'll tell A dismal thing, which once befell
In a ship upon the sea.
6 'Tis five-and-fifty years gone by,
Since, from the river Plate,
I sailed as second mate.
“She was a trim, stout-timbered ship,
And built for stormy seas,
Before a steady breeze.
“For forty days, like a winged thing,
She went before the gale,
Turn'd helm, or alter'd sail.
“ She was a laden argosy
Of wealth from the Spanish main, And the treasure hoards of a Portuguese
Returning home again.
“ An old and silent man was he,
And his face was yellow and lean; In the golden lands of Mexico
A miner he had been.
“ His body was wasted, bent, and bowed
And amid his gold he lay; Amid iron chests that were bound with brass,
And he watched them night and day.
“No word he spoke to any on board,
And his step was heavy and slow; And all men deemed that an evil life
He had led in Mexico.
“ But list ye me-on the lone high seas,
As the ship went smoothly on,
I sate on the deck alone;
A sound like a dying groan.
" I started to my feet, and, lo !
The captain stood by me; And he bore a body in his arms,
And dropped it in the sea.
“ I heard it drop into the sea,
With a heavy, splashing sound, And I saw the captain's bloody hands
As he quickly turned him round; And he drew in his breath when me he saw Like one convulsed, whom the withering awe
Of a spectre doth astound.
“ But I saw his white and palsied lips,
And the stare of his ghastly eye,
Yet he had no power to fly;
And the blood that was not dry.
6. 'Twas a cursed thing,' said I, “to kill
That old man in his sleep! And the plagues of the storm will come from him
Ten thousand fathoms deep !
6 • And the plagues of the storm will follow us,
For heaven his groans hath heard ! Still the captain's eye was fixed on me,
But he answered never a word.
" And he slowly lifted his bloody hand,
His aching eyes to shade; But the blood that was wet did freeze his soul,
And he shrinked like one afraid.
“ And even then-that very hour
The wind dropped, and a spell Was on the ship,—was on the sea; And we lay for weeks, how wearily,
Where the old man's body fell.
“ I told no one within the ship
That horrid deed of sin;
And punishment begin.
“ And when they spoke of the murdered man,
And the El Dorado hoard, They all surmised he had walked in dreams,
And had fallen overboard.
“ But I, alone, and the murderer,
That dreadful thing did know,
A thousand fathom low.
“ And many days, and many more
Came on, and lagging sped; And the heavy waves of that sleeping sea
Were dark, like molten lead.
" And not a breeze came, east or west,
And burning was the sky;
Of the air so hot and dry.
“Oh me! there was a smell of death
Hung round us night and day;
Where the old man's body lay.
“In his cabin, alone, the captain kept,
And he bolted fast the door ;
And wished that the calm was o'er.
“The captain's son was on board with us,
A fair child, seven years old,
And a spirit kind and bold.