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CHARLOTTE SMITH, 1749–1806.

Mrs. CHARLOTTE Smith was the daughter of Nicholas Turner, Esq., of Stoke House, Surrey. Her father possessed another house at Bignor Park, on the banks of the Arun,' where she passed many of her earliest years; of which she speaks in the following beautiful stanza:

Then, from thy wildwood banks, Aruna, roving,

Thy thymy downs with sportive steps I sought,
And Nature's charms with artless transport loving,

Sung, like the birds, unheeded and untaught. “How enchanting must have been the day-dreams of a mind thus endowed, in the early season of youth and hope ! Amid scenery which had nursed the fancies of Otway and of Collins, she trod on sacred ground: every charm of Nature seems to have made the most lively and distinct impression on her very vivid mind; and her rich imagination must have peopled it with beings of another world."'?

From a very early age she had an insatiable thirst for reading, and devoured almost every book that fell in her way. From her twelfth to her fifteenth year, her father resided occasionally in London, and she was, while still a child, introduced into society. She lost her mother when quite young, and when her father was about to form a second marriage, the friends of the young poetess made efforts, most foolishly, to “establish her in life," as it is called, and induced her to accept the hand of a Mr. Smith, the son and partner of a rich West India merchant. She was then but sixteen, and her husband twenty.one years of age. It was a most ill-advised and rash union, and productive of the most unbappy results. The first years of her marriage she lived in London, which was not at all congenial to her tastes. Subsequently her father in-law purchased for her husband, who was negligent of his business in the city, a farm in Hampshire. Here if possible, he did worse, keeping too large an establishment, and entering into injudicious and wild speculations. She foresaw the storm that was gathering, but had no power to prevent it.

In 1776, Mrs. Smith's father died. A few years after this event, her hus. band's affairs were brought to a crisis, and he was imprisoned for debt. With great fortitude and devoted constancy she accompanied him, and by her untiring exertions was enabled to procure his release. During his confine. ment, she collected her sonnets and other poems for publication. They were much admired, and passed through no less tha el editions. In the following letter, she describes, most graphically,

· The Arun is a river of Sussex county, on the southern coast of England.

9 Read a most genial sketch of her life in Sir Egerton Brydges' “Censura Literaria," vol. viii. p. 239; and another in his “Imaginative Biography.”

HER HUSBAND'S LIBERATION.

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“It was on the 2d day of July that we commenced our journey. For more than a month I had shared the restraint of my husband, in a prison, amidst scenes of misery, of vice, and even of terror. Two attempts had, since my last residence among them, been made by the prisoners to procure their liberation, by blowing up the walls of the house. Throughout the night appointed for this enterprise, I remained dressed, watching at the window, and expecting every moment to witness contention and bloodshed, or perhaps be overwhelmed by the projected explosion. After such scenes, and such apprehensions, how deliciously soothing to my wearied spirits was the soft, pure air of the summer's morning, breathing over the dewy grass, as (having slept one night on the road) we passed over the heaths of Surrey! My native hills at length burst upon my view! I beheld once more the fields where I had passed my happiest days, and amidst the perfumed turf with which one of those fields was strown, perceived with delight the beloved group from whom I had been so long divided, and for whose fate my affections were ever anxious. The transports of this meeting were too much for my exhausted spirits. After all my sufferings, I began to hope I might taste content, or experience at least a respite from my calamities!"

But this state of happiness did not long continue. Mr. Smith's liberty was again threatened, and he went to France. His wife and their eight children accompanied him, and they spent an anxious and forlorn winter in Normandy. The next year she returned to England, and by her great and persevering exertions, enabled her husband to follow her. They hired a mansion at Wolbeding, in Sussex, a parish of which Otway's' father had been rector. Here she wrote her twenty-sixth Sonnet :

TO THE RIVER ARUN.

“On thy wild banks, by frequent torrents worn,

No glittering fanes or marble domes appear;
Yet shall the mournful Muse thy course adorn,

And still to her thy rustic waves be dear!
For with the infant Otway, lingering here,

Of early woes she bade her votary dream

· Thomas Otway (1651–1685), the celebrated dramatic poet, author of the " Orphan," and “ Venice Preserved."

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While thy low murmurs sooth'd his pensive ear;

And still the poet consecrates the stream.
Beneath the oak and beech, that fringe thy side,

The first-born violets of the year shall spring;
And in thy hazels, bending o'er the tide,

The earliest nightingale delight to sing :
While kindred spirits, pitying, shall relate

Thy Otway's sorrows, and lament his fate!" It now became necessary for her to exert her faculties as a means of sup. port, and she translated two or three stories from the French. Her husband being again obliged to leave the country, she removed with her children to a small cottage in another part of Sussex, and, while residing here, pub. lished a new edition of her Sonnets, with additions. She then tried her powers in another line of literature, and in 1788 gave to the public her ‘Emmeline, or the Orphan of the Castle,'' which novel was exceeding. ly popular. In the following year, she published another novel, entitled “Ethelinde;" and to this succeeded, in very rapid succession, “Celestina," Desmond,” “The Old Manor House,” "The Wanderings of Warwick," " The Banished Man," “Montalbert," and others, besides several beautiful little volumes for young persons, entitled, “Rural Walks," “Rambles Farther,” “Minor Morals;''-in all about forty volumes ! During all this time, she suffered severe family afflictions, in the loss of three children, as well as pecuniary trials in the adjustment of her husband's affairs. But the hour was arriving when grief was to subdue this long. tried victim. Her husband, it is said, died in legal confinement in March, 1806; and on the 28th of October following, she died herself, after a lingering and painful illness, which she bore with the utmost patience, retaining her faculties to the last.

As a poetess, Charlotte Smith has been excelled by few of her country. women. Her Sonnets are “most musical, most melancholy, and abound with touches of tenderness, grace, and beauty; and her descriptions of rural scenery are particularly fresh and vivid.” “But while we allow," says Sir Walter Scott, “high praise to the sweet and sad effusions of Mrs. Smith's muse, we cannot admit that by these alone she could ever have risen to the height of eminence which we are disposed to claim for her for her prose narratives." But, however this might have been during her life, and when Walter Scott included her in his library of British Novelists, Charlotte Smith is now most known and valued for her poetry.

SONNET-TO THE MOON.

Queen of the silver bow ! by thy pale beam,

Alone and pensive, I delight to stray,
And watch thy shadow trembling in the stream,

Or mark the floating clouds that cross thy way
And while I gaze, thy mild and placid light

Sheds a sost calm upon my troubled breast;

And oft I think, fair planet of the night,

That in thy orb the wretched may have rest :
The sufferers of the earth perhaps may go,

Releas'd by death, to thy benignant sphere,
And the sad children of despair and woe

Forget, in thee, their cup of sorrow here.
Oh! that I soon may reach thy world serene,
Poor wearied pilgrim in this toiling scene!

SONNET-ON THE DEPARTURE OF THE NIGHTINGALE.

Sweet poet of the woods, a long adieu!

Farewell, soft minstrel of the early year!
Ah! 'twill be long ere thou shalt sing anew,

And pour thy music on the night's dull ear.
Whether on Spring thy wandering flights await,

Or whether silent in our groves you dwell,
The pensive muse shall own thee for her mate,

And still protect the song she loves so well.
With cautious step the love-lorn youth shall glide

Thro' the lone brake that shades thy mossy nest;
And shepherd girls from eyes profane shall hide

The gentle bird who sings of pity best :
For still thy voice shall soft affections move,
And still be dear to sorrow, and to love!

SONNET-THE HAPPINESS OF CHILDHOOD.

Sighing, I see yon little troop at play,

By sorrow yet untouch'd, unhurt by care,
While free and sportive they enjoy to-day,

"Content and careless of to-morrow's fare."
O happy age! when Hope's unclouded ray

Lights their green path, and prompts their simple mirth,
Ere yet they feel the thorns that lurking lay

To wound the wretched pilgrims of the earth,
Making them rue the hour that gave them birth,

And threw them on a world so full of pain,
Where prosperous folly treads on patient worth,

And to deaf pride misfortune pleads in vain !
Ab! for their future fate how many fears
Oppress my heart, and fill mine eyes with tears!

ENGLISH SCENERY.

I once was happy, when, while yet a child,
I learn’d to love these upland solitudes,

And when, elastic as the mountain air,
To my light spirit care was yet unknown,
An evil unforeseen ;-early it came,
And childhood scarcely past, I was condemn'd,
A guiltless exile, silently to sigh,
While Memory, with faithful pencil, drew
The contrast; and regretting, I compar'd,
With the polluted smoky atmosphere
And dark and stifling streets, the southern hills
That, to the setting sun their graceful heads
Rearing, o'erlook the frith, where Vecta breaks
With her white rocks the strong impetuous tide,
When western winds the vast Atlantic urge
To thunder on the coast. Haunts of my youth!
Scenes of fond day.dreams, I behold ye yet!
Where 'twas so pleasant, by thy northern slopes,
To climb the winding sheep-path, aided oft
By scatter'd thorns, whose spiny branches bore
Small woolly tufts, spoils of the vagrant lamb
There seeking shelter from the noonday sun:
And pleasant, seated on the short soft turf,
To look beneath upon the hollow way
While heavily upward mov'd the laboring wain,
And, stalking slowly by, the sturdy hind,
To ease his panting team, stopp'd with a stone
The grating wheel.

Advancing higher still,
The prospect widens, and the village church
But little o'er the lowly roofs around
Rears its gray belfry, and its simple vane;
Those lowly roofs of thatch are half conceal'd
By the rude arms of trees, lovely in spring,
When on each bough the rosy.tinctur'd bloom
Sits thick, and promises autumnal plenty.
For even those orchards round the Norman farms,
Which, as their owners mark the promis'd fruit,
Console them for the vineyards of the south,
Surpass not these.

Where woods of ash, and beech, And partial copses, fringe the green hill foot, The upland shepherd rears his modest home; There wanders by a little nameless stream, That from the hill wells forth, bright now and clear, Or, after rain, with chalky mixture gray, But still refreshing in its shallow course The cottage garden; most for use design'd, Yet not of beauty destitute. The vine Mantles the little casement; yet the brier Drops fragrant dew among the July flowers; And pansies ray'd, and freak'd and mottled pinks Grow among balm, and rosemary, and rue; There honeysuckles flaunt, and roses blow

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