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THE CHILD ANGEL. — A DREAM.
[The gentle tone of tranquillity and poetic beauty, of tenderness and
admiration, prevail throughout this piece. The “ movement” is moderately slow, — the “stress” a very delicate “ median.” “ Pure” 6 oral” tone characterizes the “ quality" of voice.]
I CHANCED upon the prettiest, oddest, fantastical thing of a dream, the other night, that you shall hear of. - I had been reading the “Loves of the Angels,” and went to bed with my head full of speculations, suggested by that extraordinary legend. It had given birth to innumerable conjectures; and, I remember, the last waking thought which I gave expression to, on my pillow, was a sort of wonder, “ what would come of it!"
I was suddenly transported, how or whither I could scarcely make out, — but to some celestial region. It was not the real heavens neither, — but a kind of fairy-land heaven, about which a poor human fancy may have leave to sport and air itself, I will hope, without presumption.
Methought — what wild things dreams are !—I was present, — at what would you imagine ? — at an angel's “ gossipping!”
Whence it came, or how it came, or who bid it come, or whether it came purely out of its own head, neither you nor I know ; — but there lay, sure enough, wrapped in its little cloudy swaddling-bands, - a child angel.
Sun-threads, - filmy beams, — ran through the celestial napery of what seemed its princely cradle. All the winged orders hovered round, watching when the new-born should open its yet closed eyes; which, when it did, first one, and then the other, - with a solicitude and apprehension, yet not such as, stained with fear, dim the expanding eyelids of mor- , tal infants, but as if to explore its path, in those its unhereditary palaces, — what an inextinguishable titter, that time, spared not celestial visages ! Nor wanted there to my seeming, -oh! the inexplicable simpleness of dreams! — bowls of that cheering nectar,
“Which mortals caudle call below.” Nor were wanting faces of female ministrants, - stricken in
years, as it might seem, — so dexterous were those heavenly attendants to counterfeit kindly similitudes of earth, to greet with terrestrial child-rites the young present which earth had made to heaven.
Then were celestial harpings heard, not in full symphony, as those by which the spheres are tutored, but, as loudest instruments on earth speak oftentimes, muffled; so to accommodate their sound the better to the weak ears of the imperfect-born. And, with the noise of those subdued soundings, the angelet sprang forth, fluttering its rudiment of pinions, — but forthwith flagged, and was recovered into the arms of those full-winged angels. And a wonder it was to see how, as years went round in heaven, - a year in dreams is as a day, - continually its white shoulders put forth buds of wings; but, - wanting the perfect angelic nutriment, — anon it was shorn of its aspiring, and fell fluttering, — still caught by angel hands, – forever to put forth shoots, and to fall fluttering, because its birth was not of the unmixed vigor of heaven.
And a name was given to the babe angel, and it was to be called Ge-Urania, because its production was of earth and heaven.
And it could not taste of death, by reason of its adoption into immortal palaces: but it was to know weakness and reliance, and the shadow of human imbecility; and it went with a lame gait; but in its goings it exceeded all mortal children in grace and swiftness. Then pity first sprang up in angelic bosoms; and yearnings, (like the human,) touched them at the sight of the immortal lame one.
And with pain did then first those intuitive essences, with pain and strife to their natures, (not grief,) put back their bright intelligences, and reduce their ethereal minds, schooling them to degrees and slower processes, so to adapt their lessons to the gradual illumination, (as must needs be,) of the half-earth-born; and what intuitive notices they could not repel, (by reason that their nature is, to know all things at once,) the half-heavenly novice, by the better part of its nature, aspired to receive into its understanding; so that humility and aspiration went on even-paced, in the instruction of the glorious amphibium.
But, by reason that mature humanity is too gross to breathe the air of that super-subtile region, its portion was, and is, to be a child forever.
And because the human part of it might not press into the heart and inwards of the palace of its adoption, those full
matured angels tended it by turns, in the purlieus of the palace, where were shady groves and rivulets, like this green earth from which it came. So Love, with voluntary humility, waited upon the entertainment of the new-adopted,
And myriads of years rolled round, - in dreams time is nothing, -and still it kept, and is to keep, perpetual childhood, and is the tutelar genius of childhood upon earth, and still goes lame and lovely.
By the banks of the river Pison is seen, lone-sitting by the grave of the terrestrial Adah, whom the angel Nadir loved, a child; but not the same which I saw in heaven. A mournful hue overcast its lineaments; nevertheless, a correspondence is between the child by the grave and that celestial orphan whom I saw above; and the dimness of the grief upon the heavenly, is a shadow or emblem of that which stains the beauty of the terrestrial. And this correspondence is not to be understood but by dreams.
And in the archives of heaven I had grace to read, how that once the angel Nadir, being exiled from his place for mortal passion, upspringing on the wings of parental love, such power had parental love, for a moment to suspend the else irrevocable law, - appeared, for a brief instant, in his station; and, depositing a wondrous birth, straightway disappeared; and the palaces knew him no more. And this charge was the self-same babe, who goeth lame and lovely; - but Adah sleepeth by the river Pison.
CHARACTER OF LUCRETIA DAVIDSON. Miss Sedgwick.
(An example of " serious” style, requiring the “ moderate” force of
“pure tone,” — “ pitch,” moderately “low,” — “ movement,” deliberate. The style of enunciation should be gentle, but perfectly clear and distinct.]
We copy the subjoined paragraph from the biographical sketch of Lucretia, prefixed to her poem, “ Amir Khan.” “ Her poetical writings, which have been collected, amount in all to two hundred and seventy-eight pieces of various lengths. When it is considered that there are among these
at least five regular poems, of several cantos each, some estimate may be formed of her poetical labors. Besides these were twenty-four school exercises, three unfinished romances, a complete tragedy, written at thirteen years of age, and about forty letters, in a few months, to her mother alone.” This statement does not comprise the large proportion, - at least one third of the whole, — which she destroyed.
The genius of Lucretia Davidson has had the meed of far more authoritative praise than ours. The following tribute is from the “ London Quarterly Review," — a source whence praise of American productions is as rare as springs in the desert. The notice is by Mr. Southey, and is written with the earnest feeling that characterizes that author, as generous as he is discriminating. “In these poems,” (“ Amir Khan,” &c.) “there is enough of originality, enough of aspiration, enough of conscious energy, enough of growing power, to warrant any expectations, however sanguine, which the patrons, and the friends and parents, of the deceased, could have formed.”
But, prodigious as the genius of this young creature was, still marvellous, -- after all the abatements that may be made for precociousness and morbid development, — there is some-, thing yet more captivating in her moral loveliness. Her modesty was not the infusion of another mind, not the result of cultivation, not the effect of good taste; nor was it a veil cautiously assumed and gracefully worn; but an innate quality, that made her shrink from incense, even though the censer were sanctified by love. Her mind was like the exquisite mirror, that cannot be stained by human breath.
Few may have been gifted with her genius, but all can imitate her virtues. There is a universality in the holy sense of duty, that regulated her life. Few young ladies will be called on to renounce the muses for domestic duties; but many may imitate Lucretia Davidson's meek self-sacrifice, by relinquishing some favourite pursuit, some darling object, for the sake of an humble and unpraised duty; and, if few can attain her excellence, all may imitate her in gentleness, humility, industry, and fidelity to her domestic affections. We may apply to her the beautiful lines, in which she describes one of those
"- forms, that, wove in fancy's loom,
Float in light visions round the poet's head.” "She was a being formed to love and bless,
With lavish nature's richest loveliness;
Such I have often seen in fancy's eye,
[This extract exemplifies the emotions of pathos and tenderness, ex
pressed in the “subdued” form of “pure tone.” The “ force” of utterance, in the reading of the following lines, is gentle, — the "pitch” high, — the “ movement” slow. “ Median stress," with a prolonged and delicate swell, prevails throughout.]
O Thou whose care sustained my infant years,
And taught my prattling lip each note of love; Whose soothing voice breathed comfort to my fears,
And round my brow hope's brightest garland wove;
To thee my lay is due, - the simple song,
Which Nature gave me at life's opening day;
Whose heart indulgent will not spurn my lay.
Oh! say, amid this wilderness of life,
What bosom would have throbbed, like thine, for me ? Who would have smiled responsive? — who, in grief,
Would e'er have felt, and, feeling, grieved like thee?
Who would have guarded, with a falcon eye,
Each trembling footstep, or each sport of fear ? Who would have marked my bosom bounding high,
And clasped me to her heart, with love's bright tear ?
Who would have hung around my sleepless couch,
And fanned, with anxious hand, my burning brow? Who would have fondly pressed my fevered lip,
In all the agony of love and woe?