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A Father reading the Bible
SENTIMENT without passion, and suffering without abjection—these, along with a deep religious sense, and with the gifts of a brilliant mind taking the poetical direction through eager sympathy and some genuine vocation, constitute the life of Mrs. Hemans. Whatever may be the deservings of the poems in other respects, they do not fail to convey to the reader a certain impression of beauty, felt to be inherent as much in the personality of the authoress as in her writings : they show as being the outcome of a beautiful life, and in fact they are so. The impression which the reader will us have received from perusing the poems is not only confirmed but intensified when he knows the events of the writer's life.
Felicia Dorothea Browne, born in Duke Street, Liverpool, on the 25th of September 1793, was daughter of a merchant of considerable eminence, a native of Ireland, belonging to a branch of the Sligo family. Her mother, whose maiden name was Wagner, was partly Italian and
i The Memoir of Mrs. Heinans, written by her sister Mrs. Hughes, and prefixed to the edition of the Poems in 7 vols. published by Messrs. Blackwood, is the best authority for the facts of the poet's life. There are also the Memorials by Mr. Chorley in 2 vols., containing a good deal of Mrs. Hemans's correspondence (reproduced to a large extent by Mrs. Hughes), and mostly bearing on her literary career rather than the circumstances of her private life. The former of these accounts is pleasantly written, in a tone of deep affection, and admiration as well, at which the reader will not be disposed to cavıl.
partly German by extraction, her father having held the post of Consul at Liverpool for the Austrian and Tuscan Governments. The surname Wagner was in reality a corruption from the illustrious Venetian name Veniero, borne ty three Doges, and by the Commander of the fleet of the Republic at the great battle of Lepanto. Felicia was the fifth child in a family of seven, of whom one died in infancy; she was distinguished, almost from her cradle, by extreme beauty and precocious talents. “The full glow of that radiant beauty which was destined to fade so early” is one of the expressions used by the poetess's sister in describing the former at the age of fifteen. This reference to
early fading” appears to be intended to apply rather to the death of Mrs. Hemans when only in her forty-second year, and to the ravages of disease in the few years preceding, than to any loss of comeliness in mature womanhood. An engraved portrait of her by the American artist William E. West, one of three which he painted in 1827, shows us that Mrs. Hemans, at the age of thirty-four, was eminently pleasing and good-looking, with an air of amiability and sprightly gentleness, and of confiding candour which, while none the less perfectly womanly, might almost be termed childlike in its limpid depth. The features are correct and harmonious; the eyes ull; and the contour amply and elegantly rounded. In height she was neither tall nor short. A sufficient wealth of naturally clustering hair, golden in early youth, but by this time of a rich auburn, shades the capacious but not over-developed forehead, and the lightlypencilled eyebrows. The bust and form have the fullness of a mature period of life; and it would appear that Mrs. Hemans was somewhat short-necked and high-shouldered, partly detracting from delicacy of proportion, and of general aspect or impression on the eye. We would rather judge of her by this portrait (which her sister pronounces a good likeness) than by another engraved in Mr. Chorley's Memorials. This latter was executed in Dublin in 1831 by a young artist named Edward Robinson. It makes Mrs.