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ness. These very qualities, united with an intensely acute sensitiveness and almost morbid sensibility, which made her keenly alive to injuries, and slights, and misrepresentations, were made instrumental to the designs of malevolent people, who inflicted wrongs and insults on her, and persecuted her for years with calumnies and slanders, rendering a great part of her brief but most unhappy career one continued scene of unmerited annoyances and sufferings.
The extent to which these vexations went would almost seem incredible; but facts have come to my own immediate knowledge which leave the matter beyond all possibility of doubt. Her anonymous and mysterious tormentors for years together, before her unhappy marriage, worried her almost continually with anonymous letters, filled with accusations, menaces, and invective.
Her peace of mind was more than disturbed by these diabolical efforts to annoy her-it was destroyed by them; and when laboring under recent inflictions of outrages of this sort, all her energies, bodily and mental, were disordered and impaired by them the first paroxysms of suffering were usually followed by syncopes, spasms, tremors, and convulsive attacks, approaching to epileptic seizures; and when the violence of this nervous agitation would cease, then would come intervals of the most. profound dejection of spirits. If the wretch or wretches whose wicked machinations produced those melancholy results had only witnessed them, on a single occasion of the infliction of these torments, nothing could be wanting to the triumph of their artifices save the unhappy marriage to which this poor lady was driven by despair, and the catastrophe that might be expected for the sequel of such a union.
Many traces of that deep-seated melancholy and dreariness of mind, and weariness of life too, are to be found in the writings of Miss Landon, and even in some of the earliest as well as in the latest of them.
In 1838, "Flowers of Loveliness," with poetical illustrations, were edited by L. E. L.; and one of the most exquisite of her small poems, full of poetic feeling, but indicative of profound
melancholy, appeared in that volume. In this poem, entitled "The Clematis," there are some stanzas well worthy of being recalled:
"Around the cross the flower is winding,
The arch with which it soon must fall.
Shiver'd its wondrous rainbow panes,
Of all its former pride remains.
The desert's wind to heaven may bear;
The faith has left the fallen cell;
Were thankful in their shades to dwell!
"Still is the quiet cloister wanted
For those who look with weary eye
For love it dreams but never meets,
That life's harsh, feverish dreams deny;
The Annual from which these lines are extracted was for the year 1839; but it was published in December, 1838. It is to be borne in mind that her death took place on the 15th of October, 1838.
Miss Landon had the necessity forced on her, at a very early age, of.pursuing literature for a livelihood (and for the support too, for many years, of an aged mother)—a necessity, for a woman, which it is impossible to exaggerate the miseries of. No amount of emolument acquired, or fame achieved by a young literary woman, ever compensated for the penalties of the struggle of female talent, modest worth, and feminine gifts and graces of intellect, of the strife in the arena of "the trade," in the press, in the public gaze, in literary circles, in cliques of critics, and coteries of patronizing people of fashion.
The popularity of Miss Landon suffered no abatement by the frequency of her appearance before the public. It appeared rather to augment than to decline in the latest years of her literary career in London. And this is the more surprising, as no extensive poem approaching to an epic character, nor any detached pieces of hers of any sort, in verse, of considerable length, have appeared. Still, she had the power of seizing hold of the public esteem; an affectionate interest was felt in her; her very name inspired kindly feelings and expectations of meeting amiable sentiments associated with beautiful imagery in her productions.
The chief characteristics of the poetry of L. E. L. consist in imaginative power, tenderness, and geniality of feeling, and harmony of versification.
The principal productions of Miss Landon before her departure for England, besides her poetical contributions to the leading periodicals of the day under the signature of L. E. L., were the following:
A volume of poetry, the first published by Miss Landon, appeared in 1820, entitled "The Fate of Adelaide, a Swiss romantic tale;" and "The Improvisatrice, and other poems," was published in 1824; "The Troubadour," to which were added poetical and historical sketches, in 1825; "The Golden Violet, and other poems," in 1826; "The Venetian Bracelet,' "The Lost Pleiad," &c., in 1829; her first novel, "Romance and Reality," in 1830; "Francesca Carrara," in three vols., followed in 1834; "The Vow of the Peacock, and other poems," in 1835.
A volume of sketches, entitled "Traits and Trials of Early Life," in 1836; "Ethel Churchill," a novel in three vols., in 1837; "Duty and Inclination," a novel in three vols., in 1838.
After her death in 1842, a novel appeared with her name, entitled "Lady Anne Granard," but the very early part only of the work was written by her.
A few months before her most ill-assorted union with Captain Maclean, I was in her company at the house of Colonel Stanhope, in London. She was there "the admired of all admirers," the great object of attraction, surrounded by many of the most eminent literary men and artists of the day.
Few persons, with so few pretensions to beauty as she had at that period, could inspire the same warm interest, and make one feel there was such a power of fascination about her that was irresistible, in spite of plainness of looks and diminutiveness of form. Her features, when not lit up by conversation, had a pensive cast of expression in them. They were not sombre, but there were dark illuminations in them, like the effects, rich and beautiful, of the lights transmitted through stainedglass windows-tints of thought, that showed
""Twixt light and shade the transitory strife."
Mr. J. S. Heraud must have had some such impressions of her appearance when the following most appropriate and beautiful lines were written, which appeared in "The English Bijou Almanac" for 1838:
"Yet, if thou be sad, 'tis well;
Sad, indeed, had been the plaintive strain, and melancholy had been the mood of poor L. E. L. at the period when those lines were written, and even for some years previous to that
Her unknown tormentors had been already too successful for real cheerfulness and gayety ever more to come back to her bosom. They had prevented her union with one of the most eminent of living sculptors.
Proposals of marriage, too, had been made to her by one whom she could have loved, who was worthy of her-a man of exalted intellect and honor, as well as of a kindly nature; who was capable of appreciating her genius and warm-hearted kindness of disposition; but the terrors of the persecution she had been long subject to, and feelings of extreme sensitiveness on a subject that she imagined might possibly admit of the shadow of a doubt in the mind of one by whom she was held dear, as to her entire frankness in dealing with that matter at any future time, led her to break off the proposed marriage, though one in every respect most desired and desirable.
In the mean time, her annoyances continued; the difficulties of her literary position augmented; her health and spirits had begun to suffer from the arduous mental occupation she had long been engaged in; and at this juncture, about October, 1836, a gentleman from the west coast of Africa-styled the Governor of Cape Coast Castle, Captain Maclean-was frequently met by her in London society, and the result of that acquaintance was an offer of marriage, which was accepted by her in an evil hour, and in a frame of mind that rendered any resolution, however desperate, in regard to change of scene and country, a course rather to be adopted than considered.
When the time came for fulfilling his engagement, in the summer of 1837, Captain Maclean manifested no anxiety or impatience for its accomplishment. He had proceeded to the Gold