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LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON was born in London, on the fourteenth day of August, 1802. Her father, who was of a respectable Herefordshire family, died when she was very young, and his widow and children were left in a great degree dependent upon the exertions of LETITIA, whose habit of writing had commenced in childhood, and who now exhibited indications of that genius which soon made her initial signature of L. E. L. everywhere familiar.
Her first appearance as a poet was in the pages of the Literary Gazette, to which she was long a frequent contributor; and her first volume was The Fate of Adelaide, a Swiss romantic tale, published in her eighteenth year. In the spring of 1824 it was followed by the Improvisatrice and other Poems, and about the same time began her permanent connection with periodical literature and criticism. The constant and exhausting drain of the press she bore with cheerfulness, and her duties were fulfilled carefully and earnestly. For fourteen years she was one of the most industrious and successful authors of England. In this period, besides her reviews, essays, and other contributions to literary journals, she wrote three novels, Romance and Reality, Francesca Carrara, and Ethel Churchill; and The Troubadour, the Venetian Bracelet, the Golden Violet, the Vow of the Peacock, and several volumes of shorter poems. Mr. BLANCHARD, her biographer, remarks of her opinions of books and authors, that there may be seen in them the results of much miscellaneous reading, research in several foreign languages, and acuteness and brilliancy of remark, with hastiness of judgment and prejudiced and inconclusive views, but no ungenerous or vindictive sentiment or trace of an unkindly or interested feeling. She often went far out of her way, indeed, to recommend the productions of rivals who abused her; and towards those by whom she conceived herself obliged, though in the slightest degree, she was ever ready to act the friend where she should have been the critic only. Her failings as a reviewer leaned to virtue's side; and the
young writer, with but a spark of the poetic fire in his lines, was as sure of a gentle sentence, of appreciation and sympathy, as the established favourite of a grateful welcome, and an honouring tribute.
Many of her poems were in their nature ephemeral; but others, especially those of later years, were written with care, and are distinguished for true feeling and a delicate fancy. From the beginning she sung in songs of a sad tone of love; nearly all her works are pervaded by a gentle and touching melancholy; yet she is said to have been as gay as she was brilliant, delighting her friends by her apparent happiness as well as by her genial wit. But they who write most rapidly write oftenest from the heart, and the solitary musings of the study are more real than the manner or the opinions exhibited in society. Miss LANDON became, with what reason we cannot tell, the subject of harsh judgments by the world; her associates "began to wish her health and happiness in set terms;" and she gave expression to disappointment, impatience, and scorn, in writings of too genuine a stamp to be regarded as the issues of only imagination. Yet she had many intimate and unchanging friends, among whom were some of the most eminent of her contemporaries.
In June, 1838, Miss LANDON was married to Captain GEORGE MACLEAN, Governor of Cape Coast Castle, and soon afterward left England for Africa. On arriving at her new home she wrote letters to her friends in London, which told of happiness and cheerful anticipations, but they were followed soon by intelligence of her death. A mystery hangs over her last days. There were rumours of suicide and of poisoning. According to the verdict of a coroner, her death was caused by prussic acid, taken in too large a quantity, to cure some slight disease.
The career of Mrs. MACLEAN commenced brilliantly, but the promise of her earlier efforts was scarcely fulfilled in her subsequent productions, which were generally written under circumstances that prevented study and elaboration. She had a deep feeling of affec
There the bee heaps his earliest treasures of honey, Or sinks in the depths of the harebell to sleep. Like prisoners escaped during night from their prison,
The waters fling gayly their spray to the sun; Who can tell me from whence that glad river has risen? [not one. Who can say whence it springs in its beauty? O my heart, and my song, which is as my heart's flowing, [own!
Read thy fate in yon river, for such is thine Mid those the chief praise on thy music bestowing, Who cares for the lips from whence issue the tone?
Dark as its birth-place so dark is my spirit,
Whence yet the sweet waters of melody came: "Tis the long after-course, not the source, will inherit
The beauty and glory of sunshine and fame.
THE FEAST OF LIFE. BID thee to my mystic feast,
Each one thou lovest is gather'd there; Yet put thou on a mourning robe
And bind the cypress in thy hair. The hall is vast, and cold, and drear;
The board with fairest flowers is spread; Shadows of beauty flit around,
But beauty from which bloom has fled; And music echoes from the walls,
But music with a dirgelike sound; And pale and silent are the guests,
And every eye is on the ground. Here, take this cup, though dark it seem, And drink to human hopes and fears; "Tis from their native element,
The cup is fill'd-it is of tears.
What, turn'st thou with averted brow?
Thou scornest this poor feast of mine; And askest for a purple robe,
Light words, glad smiles, and sunny wine. In vain the veil has left thine eyes,
Or such these would have seem'd to thee; Before thee is the Feast of Life, But life in its reality!
My very heart is fill'd with tears! I seem
Our early friends, where are they? rather, where The fond belief that actual friends there were, Not cold and false as all must find they are?
We love-may have been loved-—but ah! how faint
Ah! then, farewell, ye lovely things that brought
Quiets the anxious spirit's fond desiring.
To be too soon forgot,
Or to leave memory but to one sad keeping.
Oh, folly of a loving heart that clings
And yet finds mocking scope
Which would appear despair to any other!
She knows the hopelessness of what she seeks,
What once so oft they brought, the false one's letter.
In sorrow worn away;
Youth, joy, and bloom have no more sure entombing.
That now a few brief parted days are loosing.
Of passion forced to bear
Its deep and tender offering rejected.
Poor girl! her soul is heavy with the past; Around the shades of night are falling fast; Heavier still the shadow passing o'er her. The maiden will no more
Watch on the sea-beat shore
The darkness of the grave is now before her.
SUCCESS ALONE SEEN.
FEW know of life's beginnings-men behold
When hope deferr'd was sickness to the heart.