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do honour to her woman's heart. These portions of L. E. L.'s writings require to be yet more truly appreciated.
There is another characteristic of her prose writings which is peculiar. Never were the feelings and experiences of authorship so cordially and accurately described. She tells us freely all that she has learned. She puts words into the mouth of Walter Maynard, of which all who have known anything of literary life must instantly acknowledge the correctness. The author's heart never was more completely laid open, with all its hopes, fears, fatigues, and enjoyments, its bitter and its glorious experiences. In the last hours of Walter Maynard, she makes him utter what must at that period have been daily more and more her own conviction. "I am far cleverer than I was. I have felt, have thought so much! Talk of the mind exhausting itself!-never! Think of the mass of materials which every day accumulates! Then experience, with its calm, clear light, corrects so many youthful fallacies; every day we feel our higher moral responsibility, and our greater power."
They are the convictions of "higher moral responsibilities and greater power," which strike us so forcibly in the later writings
of L. E. L.
But what shall we say to the preparation of prussic-acid, and its preservation by Lady Marchmont? What of the perpetual creed of L. E. L., that all affection brings woe and death?
Whether this melancholy belief in the tendency of the great theme of her writings, both in prose and poetry,-this irresistible annunciation, like another Cassandra, of woe and desolation,-this evolution of scenes and characters in her last work, bearing such dark resemblance to those of her own after experience, this tendency, in all her plots, to a tragic catastrophe, and this final tragedy itself,whether these be all mere coincidences or not, they are still but parts of an unsolved mystery. Whatever they are, they are more than strange, and are enough to make us superstitious; for surely, if ever
"Coming events cast their shadows before,"
they did so in the foreboding tone of this gifted spirit.
The painful part of Miss Landon's history is, that almost from the first outbreak of her reputation, she became the mark of the most atrocious calumnies. How far any girlish thoughtlessness had given a shadow of ground on which the base things said of her might rest, is not for me, who only saw her occasionally, to say. But my own impressions, when I saw and conversed with her, were, that no guilty spirit could live in that bright, clear, and generous person, nor could look forth through those candid, playful, and transparent eyes. It was a presence which gave you the utmost confidence in the virtuous and innocent heart of the poetess, however much you might regret the circumstances which had diverted her mind from the cultivation of its very highest powers. In after years, and when I had not seen her for a long time, rumours of a like kind, but with a show of foundation more startling, were spread far and wide. That
they were equally untrue in fact, we may reasonably infer from the circumstance, that they who knew her best still continued her firm and unflinching friends. Dr. and Mrs. Todd Thomson, Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall, Mr. Blanchard, General Fagan and his family, and many others; amongst them, Lady Emmeline Stuart Wortley, Miss Jane Porter, Miss Strickland, Miss Costello, and Mrs. and Miss Sheldon, whose inmate she had been for so many years; who began with prejudice against her, and who soon became, and continued to the last, with the very best means of observation, her sincere friends.
These calumnies, however, must for years have been a source of anguish to her, haunting, but, happily, not disabling her in the midst of her incessant exertions for the holiest of purposes. They put an end to one engagement of marriage: they very probably threw their weight into the decision which conducted her into the fatal one she ultimately formed.
The circumstances connected with her marriage and death are too well known to require narrating here. Time has thrown no clear light on the mystery. Mr. Laman Blanchard, in his memoir of her, has laboured hard to prove that she did not die by the poison of prussic-acid. His reasoning will not bear examination. That she died with a bottle in her hand, which contained it, he confesses is proved by other evidence than that of Mrs. Bailey, who first found her dead.
But the question still remains, whether she took it purposely; and it may be very strongly doubted that she did. From all that has transpired, it is more probable that she had taken it by mistake.
That she was likely to take this poison purposely, there is no ground to imagine. On the contrary, to the very last, her letters to England were full of a cheerfulness that has all the air of thorough reality. It is true, there are many circumstances that we could wish otherwise that her husband had, it is believed, a family by a native Fantee woman; that he insisted on the marriage with Miss Landon in England remaining a secret till just before sailing, as if fearful of the news preceding him home; that he went on shore in the night, through the surf, and at great risk, as if to remove this woman from the spot, or to see that she was not on it; that the last two letters written to her family in England were de tained by her husband; that the Mrs. Bailey, who attended on Mrs. Maclean, and was about to sail the next day with her husband for England, not only gave up these letters, but stayed there a year longer; and that she turned out to be anything but truthful in her statements. Besides these, there are other facts which surprise us. We are told that Mrs. Maclean married under the impression that she was not to go out to Cape Coast at all: that on discovering it, it was stipulated that she was to stay only three years. Mr. Maclean knew the position L. E. L. had held here-that she had been occup ied with writing, and not with cooking. He must have been sensible that a woman who had been, for the greater part of her life, the cherished and caressed favourite of the most intelligent society of London, could not make, for the man of her choice, a more entire
sacrifice than to go out to a distant barbarous coast and settlement, in which was no single Englishwoman, except the wife of a missionary; and we might, therefore, reasonably expect that he should make every arrangement possible for her comfort; that he should not object to her taking an English maid; that he should, at least, have pots and pans in his house, where his celebrated wife was to become housekeeper, and almost cook; that he should not lie in bed all day, and leave her to entertain strange governors and their suites. There are these and other things, which we must always wish had been much otherwise; but all these will not induce us to let go the belief to which we cling, that L. E. L., though she unquestionably died by her own hand, died so through accident, and not through resolve or cause for it.
The circumstances connected with this last home of the young poetess are strange enough in themselves, independent of the closing tragedy. That she who was educated in, and for, London; who could hardly bear the country; who says she worshipped the very pavement of London; who was the idolized object of the ever moving and thronging social circles of the metropolis, should go voluntarily out to the desert of an African coast, to a climate generally fatal to English women, and to the year-long solitude of that government fort, was a circumstance which astonished every one. The picture of this home of exile, and of herself and her duties in it, is drawn livingly by her own pen. Before giving this, we may here simply state that Cape Coast Castle is one of the eight British settlements on the Gold Coast. The castle stands on a rock of gneiss and mixed slate, about twenty feet above the level of the sea, in 5° 6' N. lat., and 1° 10′ W. long. Outside there is a native town; and the adjacent country, to a considerable distance, has been cleared, and rendered fit for cultivation. The ruling natives are the Fantees, a clever, stirring, turbulent race.
In one of her letters, she gives this account of the situation and scenery of the castle :-"On three sides we are surrounded by the sea. I like the perpetual dash on the rocks-one wave comes up after another, and is for ever dashed in pieces, like human hopes, that only swell to be disappointed. We advance,-up springs the shining froth of love or hope,-'a moment white, then gone for ever! The land view, with its cocoa and palm trees, is very striking -it is like a scene in the Arabian Nights. Of a night, the beauty is very remarkable; the sea is of a silvery purple, and the moon deserves all that has been said in her favour. I have only been once out of the fort by daylight, and then was delighted. The salt lakes were first dyed a deep crimson by the setting sun, and as we returned they seemed a faint violet by the twilight, just broken by a thousand stars; while before us was the red beacon-light."
We may complete the view, exterior and interior, by other extracts. "I must say in itself the place is infinitely superior to all that I ever dreamed of. The castle is a fine building the rooms excellent. I do not suffer from heat: insects there are few, or none; and I am in excellent health. The solitude, except an occasional
dinner, is absolute from seven in the morning, till seven, when we dine, I never see Mr. Maclean, and rarely any one else. We were welcomed by a series of dinners, which I am glad are over,-for it is very awkward to be the only lady; still the great kindness with which I have been treated, and the very pleasant manners of many of the gentlemen, made me feel it as little as possible. Last week we had a visit from Captain Castle of the Pylades. We had also a visit from Colonel Bosch, the Dutch governor, a most gentlemanlike man. But fancy how awkward the next morning!-I cannot induce Mr. Maclean to rise; and I have to make breakfast, and do the honours of adieu to him and his officers-white plumes, mustachios, and all. I think I never felt more embarrassed."
"The native huts I first took for ricks of hay; but those of the better sort are pretty white houses, with green blinds. The English gentlemen resident here have very large houses, quite mansions, with galleries running round them. Generally speaking, the vege tation is so thick, that the growth of the shrubs rather resembles a wall. The solitude here is Robinson Crusoeish. The hills are covered to the top with what we should call calf-weed, but here is called bush on two of these hills are small forts, built by Mr. Maclean. The natives seem obliging and intelligent, and look very picturesque, with their fine dark figures, with pieces of the country cloth flung round them: they seem to have an excellent ear for music. The band seems to play from morning to night.
"The castle is a fine building, a sort of double square, shaped like an H, of which we occupy the middle. A large flight of steps leads to the hall, on either side of which is a suite of rooms. The one in which I am writing would be pretty in England. It is of a pale blue, and hung with some beautiful prints, for which Mr. Maclean has a passion.
"You cannot imagine how different everything is here to England. I hope, however, in time to get on pretty well. There is, nevertheless, a deal to do. I have never been accustomed to housekeeping, and here everything must be seen to by yourself; it matters not what it is, it must be kept under lock and key. I get up at seven, breakfast at eight, and give out flour, butter, sugar, all from the store. I have found the bag you gave me so useful to hold the keys, of which I have a little army. We live almost entirely on chickens and ducks, for if a sheep be killed it must be all eaten that day. The bread is very good: they use palm oil for yeast. Yams are a capital substitute for potatoes; pies and puddings are scarce thought of, unless there is a party. The washing has been a terrible trouble, but I am getting on better. I have found a woman to wash some of the things, but the men do all the starching and ironing. Never did people require so much looking after. Till Mr. Maclean comes in from court at seven, I never see a living creature but the servants. * * 崇 The weather is now very warm; the nights so hot that you can only bear the lightest sheet over you. As to the beds, the mattresses are so hard, they are like iron. The damp is very destructive: the dew is like rain, and there are no fire-places: you
would not believe it, but a grate would be the first of luxuries. Keys, scissors, everything rusts. * I find the servants civil, and not wanting in intelligence, but industry. Each has servants to wait on him, whom they call sense boys, i. e. they wait on them to be taught. Scouring is done by the prisoners. Fancy three men employed to clean a room, which, in England, an old woman could do in an hour, while a soldier stands over them with a drawn bayonet."
Such was the last, strange, solitary home of L. E. L.; such the strange life of one who had been before employed only in diffusing her beautiful fancies amid her countrymen. Here she was rising at seven, giving out flour, sugar, &c., from the stores, seeing what room she would have cleaned, and then sitting down to write. In the midst of this new species of existence, she is suddenly plunged into the grave, leaving the wherefore a wonder. The land which was the attraction of her childhood, singularly enough, thus became her sepulchre. A marble slab, with a Latin inscription, is said to be erected there by her husband.
We may now add that Captain Maclean hanself died at Cape Coast on the 22d of May, 1846.