The Materialistic Maiden

Where I sip coffee and tirelessly transcribe.

“Woman” by William Herbert

Mr. Herbert was commonly known to the public as the Honourable and Very Reverend William Herbert, as well as being the son of Henry Herbert, the 1st Earl of Carnarvon. He was a botanist, classical scholar, and ornithologist. To us on this blog (i.e. Ann) he is most well-known for being the father of sportswriter Henry William Herbert.

I will expand upon Mr. Herbert’s biography at a later date; however, please accept my brief snippet as an introductory piece, as I will be introducing several of his poems on my blog.

Below, you will find a charming ode to Woman, which, despite having a contradicting tone between the first and last sections of the piece, remains to be a poem of merit in its own right.

William Herbert

FAIREST and loveliest of created things,
By our great Author in the image form’d
Of his celestial glory, and design’d
To be man’s solace! Undefiled by sin
How much dost thou exceed all earthly shapes
Of beautiful, to charm the wistful eye,
Bland to the touch, or precious in the use!
His treasure of delight, while the fresh prime
Adorns his forehead with the joy of youth,
His comfort in the winter of the soul!
Chaste woman! thou art e’en a brighter gem
To him, who wears thee, than e’er shone display’d
Upon the monarch’s diadem ; a charm
More sweet to lull all sorrow, than the tint
Of spring’s young verdure in the dewy morn,
Or music’s mellow tones, which floating come
Over the water like a fairy dream!
Thou hangest, as a wreath upon his neck,
More fragrant than the rose, in thy pure garb
Of blushing gentleness. Thou art a joy
More sprightly than the lark in vernal suns
Pouring his throat to heaven, or forest call
By blithesome Dryads blown ; a faithful stay
In all the world’s mischances ; a helpmeet
For man in sickness, and decay, and death.
Thou art more precious than an only child
In weary age begotten, a clear spring
Amid the desert, an unhoped-for land
To baffled mariners, or dawn of day
To who has press’d all night a fever’d couch.
Oh, wherefore, best desired and most beloved
Of all heaven’s works, oh, wherefore wert thou made
To be our curse as well as blessing! lured
From thy first shape of innocence to become
A thing abased by guilt, and more deform’d
As thing original glory was more bright!


“Cupid and the Rose” from the New-York Mirror

Cupid and the Rose
April 21, 1838
New-York Mirror

WHITHER, lonely boy of love,
Art thou wandering like a dove,
Seeking in each grove and dell
Some fair form on which to dwell?
Hither his and fondly sip
A parting dew-drop from my lip,
Lingering in my morning cup,
Ere saucy Phoebus drink it up.

Too thirsty me!—this dew of thine,
Sweet rose, is most delicious wine;
So sparkling ripe, so freely given,
Vintage of morning’s rosy heaven.
Ah, me! would such but flow for ever,
I’d leave thee—Leave thee, love? Oh, never!
As it is, the vessel’s empty—
I’m off—good-by—I’ve had a plenty.*

*Also published in Bentley’s Miscellany, Volumes 1 and 3, signed with an “F” in Volume 3.

“The Invitation” from The New-York Mirror 1837, 1841

I happened upon this pretty verse today while looking through literature and news of yonder-year in The New-York Mirror. You’ll find two versions of the same poem. I decided to include the second one as it shows improvement and proves to be quite different from the first. I can’t find any evidence of the author, although, as far as I’m able to see, the “W.” initial changes to a more indicative “M. W. M.”[?]. If you have ideas of who the author might be, please do comment, I’m very curious.

The Invitation
October 14, 1837

Come to me ere the sad leaves fall,
And the shrill winds whistle by ;
Ere Autumn’s gorgeous coronal
Changes its ruby dye.

Ere the sunset glories waste away—
Of violet, gold, and pearl—
Ere the streamlet stills its murm’ring lay,
And sweet waves cease to curl.

Ere the song-birds wend their certain flight,
Far through the silent sky,
To where more genial climes requite
Their thrilling melody.

Come, oh, come, to my cottage-home !
Thou’ll find thy Ellen’s heart
Spell-binding as a spirit-gnome—
Nor shalt thou ere depart !

The Invitation
M. W. M.[?]
Dedicated to Mrs. Royal R. Porter, of Boston.
April 10, 1841

Come to me ere the sad leaves fall
And the shrill winds whistle by ;
Ere autumn’s gorgeous coronal
Changes its ruby dye.
Ere the sunset glories fade away
And but in mem’ry glow,
Or th’ streamlet stills its murm’ring lay
And free waves cease to flow !

Ere th’ song-birds wend their social flight
Far through the distant sky,
To where more genial climes invite
Their thrilling melody.
Come, then, through tinted groves we’ll roam,
Where the rainbow’s spirit dwell—
Presiding o’er my peaceful home,
Glad hills, and dreamy dells.

“Spring-Time Is Coming” by Sarah Johnson Cogswell Whittlesey

Spring-Time Is Coming
From Graham’s Magazine, June, 1853
Sarah Johnson Cogswell Whittlesey

SPRING-TIME is coming, I hear its low humming,
Oft where the blue waters sweep;
Sandaled with gold, it breaks the brown mold,
Waking the blossoms asleep.

Down in the bed, where the little bud’s head’
Sunk when its mission was done,
A tiny green sprout, peeping sly out,
Opens its heart to the sun.

Low in the vale, where the winter’s loud wail
Frighted the summer’s soft breeze,
Maiden Spring weaves, of miniature leaves,
Robes for the bare old trees.

‘Neath the white snows, the sorrowing rose,
Through the chill moments hath lain;
Soon its bright face, from out its green case,
Will be uplifted again.

Thus in dark hours, the heart’s buds and flowers
Fade in the winter of sorrow;
Let us not sigh, the little shut eye
Will drink the warm sunshine to-morrow!

So shall it be when the spirit is free
From its close prison of clay;
Life’s withered bud must hide in the sod,
But oh! there is Spring-time away!

“Tasso to Leonora” by Charles Fenno Hoffman

Torquato Tasso was a Romantic Italian poet who, “Although…no more than a footnote today…was once wildly popular, quoted by philosophers, emulated by poets, and a source of inspiration to painters and composers,” according to Philip Kennicott in his article, “Torquato Tasso, a Poet Both Obscure and Ubiquitous.” Kennicott goes on to explain, “Even his sad and tormented life was an obsession for the romantics, inspiring a play by Goethe, a poem by Byron, a painting by Delacroix, and a symphonic study by Liszt.” I will not discuss Tasso’s life in this post (if ever), however I do want to precede Hoffman’s poem with a little context. It was a quickly spread belief in the 19th century that Tasso was romantically connected with Eleonora d’Este, a princess who took Tasso under her protection, alongside sister Lucrezia, during the later years of his life. According to John Devey in his article “Postscript to the Life of Tasso,” found in The Jerusalem Delivered, of Torquato Tasso, “That Tasso’s sonnets to Leonora were something more than the mere vers de societé, which the gallant chevaliers of that age were constantly laying at the feet of high-born dames, is, we believe, past a doubt. That Leonora encouraged his affection is also as readily admitted. The only question is how far the lovers passed the boundary of a discreet Platonism” (lxv). Thus, we find Hoffman’s poem, portraying a maddened Tasso imploring his love for Leonora. A romantic thought, indeed—do you think the two were romantically connected, however? I don’t believe there is enough evidence based on what little I’ve read to definitively lend to the case. Despite some apparently pretty verses written for Leonora, including a dedication in his poem, O figlie di Renata, there is not a lot of evidence to lend to a potential tryst. However, myth aside, Hoffman still retains his merit as an excellent poet, and this poem lends especial credence to his expertise.

Tasso to Leonora
Charles Fenno Hoffman

STILL, still I love thee; Hope no more,
‘Tis true, may light my dungeon’s gloom,
And youth as well as hope is o’er,
Both buried in a living tomb;
And even reason doth forsake me,
So oft that I begin to fear
If not the madman they would make me,
Its utter loss is ever near;
Yet fettered in this hideous cell,
And banned and barred from those sweet eyes,
Unknowing if one memory dwell
With thee of him who daily dies,—
Still, Leonora, still alone to thee
Beneath their shackles still untamably
Love’s pulses beat as if my limbs were free.

Go tell thy brother though the infectious breath
Of my rank prison may be steeped in death,
Though through my veins corrupting now may steal
The accursed taint which day by day I feel
Poisoning life’s tabernacle, regret
For having loved thee, Leonora, never yet,
In spite of all I’ve borne or yet may bear,
Hath wrung one craven tear from my despair.
And thou—thou who from him who’d do and dare,
And suffer all of anguish heart can feel
Thou who in beauty’s pride did shrink to hear
The love that lips could only half reveal;
Blushing, ashamed, because thou wert so dear
To one thy kinsman cared not to approve,—
Thou, Leonora, when I am no more,
Shalt feel the influence of a poet’s love;
In every land my story they’ll deplore,
Pilgrims from all shall make my grave their shrine,
And each who breathes my name shall murmur thine.

“Records” by Henry William Herbert; and, on the Life of His Wife, Sarah Herbert (Barker)




Sarah Barker, wife of Henry William Herbert, from Poems of “Frank Forester” (Henry William Herbert)

The following is a raw and lovingly woven dedicatory piece written by nineteenth-century author and sportsman Henry William Herbert, in memory of his wife Sarah Barker. The tribute mourns the anniversary of her death, and is a moving commemoration of both Barker’s life and Herbert’s grief. Barker, from Bangor, Maine, was the daughter of the town’s mayor and ship captain, George Barker. Herbert, who had gone to Maine on a hunting trip with Barker’s former fiance, Joseph A. Scoville, attended to the home of Barker, where both Herbert and Barker fell in love. Barker called off her engagement with Scoville and she and Herbert married in 1839 (White, Henry William Herbert and the American Publishing Scene, 1831-1858). Herbert’s poem paints a portrait of a devoted wife and mother, one who eagerly anticipated the return of her husband after his long excursions; one who devoutly loved him, despite his turbulent nature; one who most likely filled Herbert’s household with warmth and light. The dream of a lifelong marriage spent alongside Sarah did not last, however, following her death on March 11, 1844. According to White, “After giving birth to a daughter in July 1843, Sarah Herbert developed tuberculosis. In desperation, her husband carried her from one health resort to another, but she grew steadily worse. She was twenty-two years old when she died in Philadelphia…” (40). The aforementioned daughter, Louisa, died shortly after Sarah, on August 19 of the same year. The couple also had a son, William George, who, after the death of his mother, was sent off to England to live with Herbert’s extended family.

Although Herbert later found love in an Adela Budlong (a fleeting actress who may or may not have been swayed to marry Herbert because of his ties to royalty), their marriage crumbled due to its superficiality and Budlong’s unhappiness (as well as possibly Herbert’s uncontrollable temper). Despite the years of toil and grief that Henry endured after Sarah’s death—the financial hardship and the pains of his irreconcilable second marriage to Budlong—it seems the immortal image of Sarah never left his side, for, according to David Judd in the Life and Writings of Frank Forester (Henry William Herbert), “He suspended his dead wife’s portrait, an excellent oil painting, a veritable masterpiece by his friend Inman, in the most prominent position in his study, that his stray glances might constantly rest upon her features,” and, on the night of his death by suicide, “finally carried it with him to the chamber he destined to be that of his own death, that her countenance might catch his closing eyes as the dearest object upon the face of the earth” (85). This portrait by Inman is the one featured at the beginning of this post. For a vague comparison of her “live” presence with that of this painting, you can see her post-mortem photo here.

I feel I cannot properly attribute any further words to the loving union of Herbert and Barker; therefore, please allow Herbert’s own words in “Records” speak as testament to their love.

Henry William Herbert
From Poems of “Frank Forester” (Henry William Herbert)
THIS was a happy day a year ago,
As now most wretched. This day I returned
From absence of one little month—one month
That seemed a year:—returned to feel her heart
Beat against mine, that ne’er shall beat with joy,
Or leap in ecstasy to those blue eyes
So bright and beautiful, or throb again
To mine responsive,
Oh! I see her now,
As she upstarted from her chair in haste
To greet me, with the eloquent warm blood
Flushing her fair white brow, the lips apart,
And radiant with that sunny smile that spoke
The joyous mirthfulness of her pure soul—
Most innocent and artless, and the eyes
That flashed affection out in dazzling beams
Electrical. I hear her soft, low voice
Say, “Dearest, dearest, have you come at last?
Long have I waited for you, and last night
Watched till nigh morning. Had you not come home
To-day, I should have sickened with the ‘hope Deferred.'”
But it is I that now am sick,
Past thought to be relieved; sick not with hope,—
For that disease hath still some saving touch
Of consolation in’t, that nerves the soul
To bear its tortures,—but for very lack
Of anything to hope on earth again.
For she is gone—aye, gone! and that rare form,
Which I see now as palpably as though
It stood there, glowing in the perfect grace
And glory of young womanhood;—a dream,
A trick of memory, lighter than a shade,
And by no sense of mind to be enjoyed
Or apprehended.
Yes, I see her now
As she upstarted, in her purple robe,
Graced by the fair proportions of her shape,
Not gracing them—her bosom of pure snow,
Translucent, with its thousand azure veins
Matchlessly beautiful; her glorious hair
Clustered in many ringlets of rich brown
Lit with a sunny lustre, down her neck
Falling profuse.
I feel her clasping arms
Wound close about my neck; her soft, thick curls
Fanning my cheek; and her sweet, lovely face,
Burning with blushes, hidden on my breast.
I hear her fond voice faltering in my ear
Glad tidings—that our little one—our boy,
Whom I left mute as yet, had found his tongue,
And learned to lisp her name.
It is but one year
Of the threescore and ten which sum the toil,
The lengthened weariness, and transient joy,
Of man’s allotted time, and all is changed—
Withered and cold forever, as my heart;
Which is alone, and desolate, and void,
And hopeless. She was all I had on earth;
The one rare treasure that enriched a life
Quite barren else; the only being that loved
And cherished, aye! and honored me, whose course
Has ever lain among the storms of the world,
The blight of evil tongues, and rancorous spite
Of who, not knowing, load with ill report
That which they comprehend not. She was all—
All that I had or wished. Love, happiness,
Ambition, hope—all, all in her
Were centred; and with her they are all gone,
Ne’er to come back to me.
I have nor home,
Nor country, nor companions; and the grave
Will be a resting-place, a distant end,
Not shunned, but longed for, as the pleasant bourn
Of suffering, and perchance the gate of joy;
Beyond the perishable, where immortal souls
May meet and love each other with a love
Transcending aught mortality has felt
Of best affections.
Oh that it were so!
Oh that I could believe, and in that trust
Be confident and strong, that even now
She looks upon me, and, in perfect bliss,
With something of affection still regards
The lost companion of her mortal joys,
The last attendant of her painful bed—
Him on whose breast her head was propped, on whom
Her glazing eyes were fixed, that yearned to see
When sight had left them; him whose hand yet thrills
At recollection of the entwined caress
Of those poor fingers, in their dying spasm,
Affectionate to the latest; him whose name—
Never, ’tis like, again to greet his ear
From any lips on earth—her lips strove hard
To syllable, but could not!
Life itself
Were not all weary, could I deem that she,
Marking my ways, might see each step more near
To heaven and her; and feel her very bliss
Something augmented by the unchanging love
Of him she loved so fondly; that one day
She might come forth to meet me, as of old,
But robed in beauty that will never fade,
And, radiant with eternal joy, again
Say, “Dearest, dearest, you have come at last;
Long have I waited you; and see your love
Constant and faithful, and fidelity
Hath its reward; and we are met again,
Never to sorrow more, or sin, or die:”
Oh! might I trust in this, I could go on,
In confident humility secure,
And fearless of the future.
But who knows,
Except the Father, and the Son who dwells
Forever in his glory? Who may dare
E’en to dream of that, which He hath left
Obscure, nor by a word of his illumed
The utter darkness that enshrouds the dead?
But thou art merciful, and knowest, Lord,
The weakness of the mortal: banish thou
The cruel thoughts which terrify my soul,
Whispering that she, whose early grave hath closed
Over the sweetest of thy daughters, lies
Forgetful of the life that lived for her,
Or, in her happiness, sees not the woe
That steeps in utter gloom the heart whose light
She was, and is no longer; the dark doubt,
Never to be enlightened till that day
When all shall be revealed—the dread, dark doubt
That we shall meet no more, when but to meet
Would make earth heave—as her sweet smile of old
And soothing voice could win a charm from pain,
Make poverty seem wealth, and sorrow bliss!
Gentlest and mirthfullest of living things,
And sweetest in thy purity of youth,
Thine artless innocence, thy charity
That thought no harm, thy love that knew not self—
To minister with the angels thou art gone,
And never shalt come back to me again,
As the light cometh with the morn, the leaves
With the glad spring-time.
Grant it, God, that I
May go to thee, and know thee, and be known,
There, where the wicked from their troubling cease,
The weary are at rest.
I ask but this:
Could I but think it, I could go my way
Rejoicing, and look forward to my goal
Happy, nor faint nor falter on the road.

Further Articles Regarding Henry Herbert and the Great Brawl of 1836

As promised, here are two more articles regarding the great “fracas,” which occurred at the Washington Hotel in New York City in 1836.

From the Public Ledger, May 14, 1836
The Traveller says: “The parties in the fracas last week at the Washington Hotel, New York, are of the first respectability. Mr. Tompkins is a son of the late Vice President. He was a member of the N. Y. Assembly last year, and very generally esteemed as an honorable young man. Mr. Neile is a son-in-law of the late Gov. Yates. Mr. Herbert is one of the editors of the American Monthly Magazine.” The Traveller, we presume, forgot to tell its readers that the “respectability” of the parties is only an aggravation of the offence. We dislike to see paragraphs go out unfinished.—Boston Times.
So do we dislike to see paragraphs go unfinished, and we will finish our own by saying that respectability consists in true dignity of character; in respect for the laws, and for the rights and feelings of others. According to this definition, the parties concerned in this disgraceful affair are persons of the least respectability, for we have seldom heard of a more scandalous outrage against law, social order, and the feelings of considerate and honorable men. “Mr. Tompkins is the son of the late Vice President.” “What then’ [sic] Such behavior shows that he is far less of a gentleman than his father was.—”Mr. Neale is a son-in-law of the late Governor Yates.” Indeed! Does this palliate conduct that ought to be punished by a visit to the State prison, and would be so punished in a ruffian without ruffles? “Mr. Herbert is one of the editors of the American Monthly Magazine,” and the N. York Herald says he is a bit of English nobility, with a line of ancestors from the Plantagenets downward.
“What of your noble or ignoble blood
Has crept thro’ scoundrels ever since the flood?”
Go and pretend your [family?] is young
Nor own your fathers have been fools so long!”
For fools they must have been from the beginning, to produce such a compound of vulgar folly and brutal ferocity as that exhibited by this editor of the American Monthly Magazine. The literary department of New York is in precious hands! First respectability forsooth! First blackguardism.

From the Public Ledger, May 19, 1836
The Washington Hotel Fracas.—On Friday last the Grand Jury presented bills of Indictment against Messrs. McLeod, Herbert and Staples, for being engaged in the fracas in the Washington Hotel.—Immediately thereafter, bench warrants were issued to take the several individuals therein named into custody to be tried for a disturbance of the peace, with intent to kill, at the next term of the General Sessions. Brink and Welch, the two officers who caught Robinson, have these warrants.
Yesterday at ten minutes past eleven they proceeded to the City Hotel, and enquired “Is Mr. McLeod in?” “He is not,” said Mr. Cruttenden. “Where is he?” “I don’t know.” “Can we look in his room?” “You may, but he is not there.”
The officers proceeded, not to the lodgings of Mr. Herbert. He was not to be found—but we understand the greater portion of a new novel, intended to be published by the Harpers, was safe and sound.
It is highly probable that neither of these young men will be found. McLeod, we understand has gone to Philadelphia—Herbert to Boston, and the others nowhere. The officers intend to start in pursuit to-morrow. They wont[sic] catch them.
All this “hide and go seek,” is wrong. Let the fracas gentlemen one and all, deliver themselves up. They can be convicted of nothing—they are not half so guilty as Webb, who like a mad dog runs at large.—N. Y. Herald.

resisting the intelligence

almost successfully

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The Materialistic Maiden

Where I sip coffee and tirelessly transcribe.

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short prose, fiction, poetry