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May slighted woman turn, And, as a vine the oak hath shaken off, Bend lightly to her leaning trust again? O No! by all her loveliness-by all That makes life poetry and beauty, no! Make her a slave; steal from her rosy cheek By needless jealousies; let the last star Leave her a watcher by your couch of pain; Wrong her by petulence, suspicion, all That makes her cup a bitterness-yet give One evidence of love, and earth has not An emblem of devotedness like her. But oh! estrange her once-it boots not how By wrong or silence—anything that tells A change has come upon your tenderness, And there is not a feeling out of heaven Her pride o'ermastereth not.
NATHANIEL PARKER WILLIS.
AGE, 47 YEARS.
N. P. Willis is a native of the city of Portland, where he was born on the twentieth day of January, 1807. His early years were mostly spent in Boston and vicinity. He received his preparatory education at the Phillips Academy, in Andover, Mass., and entered Yale College, New-Haven, at an early age, and was graduated from it in 1827. Before he had attained the age of twenty, Mr. Willis won for himself a then extended and somewhat enduring popularity, by his sacred poems and sketches. He soon after published, in 1828, a “ Poem, delivered before the Society of United Brothers of Brown University," and his “ Sketches,” which were well received. For two years succeeding, he was editor and proprietor of a literary periodical, under the title of “The American Monthly Magazine,” which, in 1830, was merged into the New-York Mirror, with which he became connected. The following year he went to England, where he became very familiar with the leading literary men, and many of the most distinguished personages, of whom he wrote with an unlicensed familiarity, in his “ First Impressions” of the country, people, &c., in a series of letters published in the “Mirror,” and which were afterwards collected and issued in a volume, in London. The freedom with which he gave private gossip with distinguished men, to the public, caused the volume to be justly and very severely criticised, and also led to unfriendly troubles. It is one of Mr. Willis' greatest faults, that he allows himself to give to the public eye, what his own mind should tell him was intended only for his private ear.
In 1837, Mr. Willis returned to the United States, bringing with him his wife, an accomplished English lady, to whom he was married in 1835. In a poem to his mother, he affectionately refers to her as follows:
But there's a change, beloved mother!
To stir far deeper thoughts of thine;
To share the heart once only mine!
One star arose in memory's heaven-
Water'd one flower with tears at even-
Is darkened to lend light to ours !
And hearts-that languish more than flowers;
Room, mother! in thy heart! place for her in thy prayer!
This lady is said to have been a most excellent wife, and made the poet's home a place of happiness and love. She died a few years after, and he married for a second wife, a Miss Grinnell, of NewYork city. On his return, he retired to a beautiful country retreat,“Glenmary," situated on the Susquehanna river, and in one of the most beautiful and romantic portions of the Empire State. He thus alludes, with a beautiful thankfulness, in a “Reverie at Glenmary,” to the prosperity and happiness that he there enjoyed.
I have enough, O God! My heart to night
Rich, though poor;
O Thou who lookest
Since then, time and fortune have changed his lot, and other feet now wander amid those once loved scenes, and other voices resound within the walls of that low roofed cottage, once so full of happiness. Mr. Willis made a second visit to England, in 1839, and while there, published several popular works, which were well received, and had an extensive sale. The following year he returned home
again, and soon after published " Letters from under a Bridge,” and a volume of his “ Poems.” Since then he has published numerous volumes, among
“ Life Here and There”—“ People I Have Met” — “Hurry Graphs” — “Fun Jottings" –" Health Trip to the Tropics"_"Summer Cruise in the Mediterranean”—“Famous Persons and Places;”—also a number of illustrated volumes of History, &c., for London houses. He now resides at “ Idlewild,” his beautiful summer residence, situated upon the bank of the Hudson, and where he is still devoted to the literature of fashionable life. He is also connected with George P. Morris, the poet, as editor and proprietor of the “Home Journal,” one of the ablest literary weeklies in this country.
Since writing the foregoing brief sketch, we have received the painful intelligence that Mr. Willis is now in very feeble health, and failing daily, and we are fearful that the pen that has often beguiled our leisure hours with a sprightly, charming interest, will soon be laid aside, never more to be resumed. We shall miss him. He has written as no other can. There was an originality,—in fact, a particular and peculiar branch of literature that suited his talent, and in which he was excelled by none. But now the blighting influence that heralds the approach of death, has silenced, perhaps forever, his fruitful
pen. He is a bright star in the literary firmament, that going out, still retains its brilliant light, glowing with a purer and holier softness as it disappears from our view. We cannot refrain from including here, a brief portion of Mr. Willis’ last letter, and the remarks of the poet Bryant, of the New-York • Evening Post:
“ But consumption, mourned over as it is, seems to me a gentlc untying of the knot of life, instead of the sudden and harsh tearing asunder of its threads by other disease—a tenderness in the destroying angel, as it were, which greatly softens, for some, his inevitable errand to all. It is a decay with little or no pain, insensible almost in its progress, delayed sometimes, year after year, in its more fatal approaches. And it is not alone in its indulgent prolonging and deferring, that consumption is like a blessing. The cords which it first loosens are the coarser ones most confining to the mind. The weight of the material senses is gradually taken from the soul with the lightening of their food and the lessening of their strength. Probably, till he owns himself an invalid, no man has ever given the wings of his spirit room enough—few, if any, have thought to adjust the min
isterings to body and soul so as to subdue the senses to their secondary place and play. With illness enough for this, and not enough to distress or weaken—with consumption, in other words, as most commonly experienced—the mind becomes conscious of a wonderfully new freedom and predominance. Things around alter their value. Estimates of persons and pursuits strangely chinge. Nature seems as newly beautiful as if a film had fallen from the eyes. The purer affections, the simpler motives, the humbler and more secluded reliances for sympathy, are found to have been the closest-linked with thoughts bolder and freer. Who has not wondered at the cheerfulness of consumptive persons ? It is because, with the senses kept under by invalid treatment, there is no “ depression of spirits.” With careful regimen and the system purified and disciplined, life, what there is of it, is in the most exhilerating balance of its varied proportions. Death is not dreaded where there is, thus, such a conscious breaking through of the wings of another life, freer and higher.”
“ And here the · Letters from Idlewild' come to an end. The author has thus long, not too long, he trusts—made the readers of the Home Journal guests at his home.
• He assures these kind thousands that the memory of their sympathetic feelings will be tenderly cherished in his heart, though the gate of .Idlewild' is here shut upon the pen, that is their servant.”
The reader cannot fail to observe the calm and yielding resignation to his fate, that is revealed in the foregoing closing portion of Mr. Willis' farewell letter from • Idlewild.' Mr. Bryant says of it,
“We have read with deep emotion, the valedictory letter of Mr. Willis, from Idlewild.' Death, after all, with all the gilding from the sunlight beyond, is a dark cloud to pass through ; and the last parting with those who have done much to brighten this side of the mysterious valley for us, as they step down into its shadows, is not easy. Mr. Willis is one of the most fascinating writers in the English language—and who, to-day, will remember anything of his productions but their excellences ? This letter will moisten eyes in widely-scattered homes, where the face and form of the author are unknown, but where his writings have beguiled many an hour of its weariness. It is like the love music of a long familiar harp, whose chords we know are breaking."