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CHAPTER XIV.

THE POETESSES.

A.D. 1825-1833.
Helen-Maria Williams - The Margravine of Anspach.

“Each interval of night,
Was graced with many an undulating light.”

CowPER'S • Table Talk.'

HELEN-MARIA WILLIAMS. The author of this Essay regrets that she can add very few particulars to the scanty and vague accounts of HelenMaria Williams, given in the Biographical Dictionaries.

Time and trouble have not been spared, and many probable sources of information have been searched in vain. The following are the generally received facts of her personal history. She was a native of the northern part of England, and born in the year 1762. Dr. Kippis was her early friend, and he first ushered her into the literary world. Craik, in his · Sketches,' mentions Helen-Maria Williams as having published some volumes of verse in 1782, and the two or three following years. Her · Edward and Eltrada,' · Various Poems,' and · Julia, a Novel,' belong to this period.

In 1790, she was living in Paris; and in 1794, being still there, she suffered imprisonment, and narrowly escaped the guillotine, by which many of her most intimate friends of the Girondist party suffered death. Being released, she fied to Switzerland, and remained there until 1796, when she returned to Paris. Her · Letters from France,' detailing the progress of the first French revolution, excited great contemporary interest. In the Fourth Letter of her • Sketches of Manners and Opinions in the French Republic towards the close of the XVIIIth century,' published in 1801, she relates the sudden death of a beloved sister, gifted with most amiable qualities, and possessing many accomplishments; leaving a family of little children, and a sorrowing husband and mother: and she also mentions the arrangements made to secure a separate grave and Christian rites, at a period when democratic frenzy allotted all the corpses of a district to be cast into a common burial pit.

From the same volumes it appears that Helen-Maria Williams was fond of riding on horseback, kept the best company, and interested herself, heart and soul, in the course of those fearful political occurrences which shook the states of the European continent like a succession of earthquakes. Conversant with the ancient and modern history and geography of Europe, seeing and treading the localities of many of the most memorable events of her troublous times, and obtaining a knowledge of political conjunctures, either as an eye-witness, or from persons who took part in them, she was enabled to draw some curious historical parallels, to note down anecdotes and witticisms, and to relate the course and current of events, in a style distinguished by correctness and perspicuity of expression, often rising into eloquence, and always full of earnestness.

In 1815 she published her “Narrative of Events in France. On the 15th of December, 1827, she died at Paris.*

* See · Annual Register,' 1827, p. 262.

Besides the works already named, she wrote and published a translation of the Personal Narrative of Humboldt and Bonpland.

The following verses, perhaps her best, are now printed from an autograph copy, which was for many years the property of Sydney Lady Morgan. None but an eyewitness, susceptible of receiving, and capable of communicating the impressions of nature's sublimest aspects, could have written them.

A HYMN. WRITTEN AMONG THE ALPS.
“Creation's God! with thought elate

Thy hand divine I see,
Impressed on scenes where all is great,

Where all is full of Thee !
Where stern the Alpine mountains raise

Their heads of massive snow,
Whence on the rolling storm I gaze

That hangs how far below!
Where on some bold stupendous height

The eagle sits alone,
Or soaring wings his sullen flight

To haunts yet more his own;
Where the sharp rock the chamois treads,

Or slippery summit scales,
Or where the whitening snow-bird spreads

Her plumes to icy gales ;
Where the rude cliff's steep column glows

With morning's tint of blue,
Or evening on the glacier throws

The rose's blushing hue;
Or where by twilight's softer light

The mountain-shadow bends,
And sudden casts a partial night

As black its form descends ;
Where the full ray of noon alone

Down the deep valley falls ;
Or where the sunbeam never shone

Between its rifted walls ;
Where cloudless regions calm the soul,

Bid mortal cares be still,
Can passion's wayward wish control

And rectify the will ;

Where 'midst some vast expanse the mind,

Which swelling virtue fires, Forgets that earth it leaves behind

And to its heaven aspires ; Where far along the desert sphere

Resounds no creature's call, And undisturbing mortal ear

The avalanches fall; Where rushing from their snowy source,

The daring torrents urge Their loud-ton'd waters' headlong course,

And lift their feather'd surge ;
Where swift the lines of light and shade

Flit o'er the lucid lake,
Or the shrill winds its breast invade,

And its green billows wake ;
Where on the slope, with speckled dye,

The pigmy herds I scan,
Or sooth'd, the scattered chalets spy,

The last abodes of man;
Or where the flocks refuse to pass,

And the lone peasant mows,
Fixed on his knees, the pendent grass,

Which down the steep he throws;
Or where the dang'rous pathway leads

High o'er the gulf profound,
From whence the shrinking eye recedes,

Nor finds repose around ;
Where red the mountain-ash reclines

Along the clefted rock,
Where firm the dark unbending pines

The howling tempest mock;
Where, level with the ice-ribb'd bound,

The yellow harvests glow,
Or vales with purple vines are wound

Beneath impending snow;
Where the rich minerals catch the ray,

With varying lustre bright,
And glittering fragments strew the way

With sparks of liquid light;
Or where the moss forbears to creep,

Where loftier summits rear
Their untrod snows, and frozen sleep

Locks all the uncoloured year;
In every scene, where every hour

Sheds some terrific grace,
In nature's vast o'erwhelming power,

Thee, Thee, my God, I trace !

So let me in the moral scene

Thy hand directing see,
And 'midst its darkest tempest lean

With confidence on Thee !
'Midst earth's vain joys or passing woes,

Alike in good or ill,
Be the first bliss my bosom knows

Submission to Thy will."

ELIZABETH MARGRAVINE OF ANSPACH. The Lady Elizabeth Berkeley, youngest daughter of Augustus, fourth Earl of Berkeley, was born in December, 1750. Her father died when she was only four years old, and her mother, a daughter of Henry Drax, Esq., of Charborough, married Robert Earl Nugent, three years afterwards. Lady Elizabeth had consequently almost an orphan's lot, and wanted that tender home training of the affections for which there is no compensation.

On the 2nd of May, 1767, being little more than sixteen years of age, this clever and accomplished girl was married to William Craven, Esq., who, two years afterwards succeeded to his uncle's peerage as sixth Baron Craven. Seven children, three sons and four daughters, were the offspring of this marriage. Lady Craven was beautiful and amiable, her manners were fascinating, and her powers of varying and enlivening the monotony of daily existence by the activity of her inventive faculties were admirable.

Her Autobiography, superficially and evasively written, assumes an air of simplicity worthy of an avowed imitator of the guileless innocence of her aunt Lady Suffolk's manner, and throws little true light upon the cause of her domestic disquietudes. From other sources, however, it is evident that if Lord Craven had his faults, Lady Craven was not devoid of her provoking eccentricities; and the separation which ensued in 1781, after thirteen years of

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