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With his own soul that face endowed,
Gentle, severe, majestic, mean;
But which was Christ, the Nazarene?
Then one who watched them made complaint,
And marvelled, saying, 'Wherefore paint
Till ye be sure your eyes have seen
The face of Christ, the Nazarene?'
And this sonnet is full of suggestion:
The wine-flushed monarch slept, but in his ear
An angel breathed 'Repent, or choose the flame
Quenchless.' In dread he woke, but not in shame,
LITERARY AND OTHER NOTES II 100
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Deep musing 'Sin I love, yet hell I fear.'
Wherefore he left his feasts and minions dear,
And justly ruled, and died a saint in name.
But when his hasting spirit heavenward came,
A stern voice cried 'O Soul! what dost thou here?'
'Love I forswore, and wine, and kept my vow
To live a just and joyless life, and now
I crave reward.' The voice came like a knell
'Fool! dost thou hope to find again thy mirth,
And those foul joys thou didst renounce on earth?
Yea, enter in! My heaven shall be thy hell.'
Miss Constance Naden deserves a high place among our living poetesses, and this, as Mrs. Sharp has shown
lately in her volume, entitled Women's Voices, is no mean distinction.
Phyllis Browne's Life of Mrs. Somerville forms part of a very interesting little series, called 'The World's
Workers' a collection of short biographies catholic enough to include personalities so widely different as
Turner and Richard Cobden, Handel and Sir Titus Salt, Robert Stephenson and Florence Nightingale, and yet
possessing a certain definite aim. As a mathematician and a scientist, the translator and populariser of La
Mcanique Cleste, and the author of an important book on physical geography, Mrs. Somerville is, of course,
well known. The scientific bodies of Europe covered her with honours; her bust stands in the hall of the
Royal Society, and one of the Women's Colleges at Oxford bears her name. Yet, considered simply in the
light of a wife and a mother, she is no less admirable; and those who consider that stupidity is the proper basis
for the domestic virtues, and that intellectual women must of necessity be helpless with their hands, cannot do
better than read Phyllis Browne's pleasant little book, in which they will find that the greatest
woman-mathematician of any age was a clever needlewoman, a good housekeeper, and a most skilful cook.
Indeed, Mrs. Somerville seems to have been quite renowned for her cookery. The discoverers of the
North-West Passage christened an island 'Somerville,' not as a tribute to the distinguished mathematician, but
as a recognition of the excellence of some orange marmalade which the distinguished mathematician had
prepared with her own hands and presented to the ships before they left England; and to the fact that she was
able to make currant jelly at a very critical moment she owed the affection of some of her husband's relatives,
who up to that time had been rather prejudiced against her on the ground that she was merely an unpractical
Blue-stocking.
Nor did her scientific knowledge ever warp or dull the tenderness and humanity of her nature. For birds and
animals she had always a great love. We hear of her as a little girl watching with eager eyes the swallows as
they built their nests in summer or prepared for their flight in the autumn; and when snow was on the ground
she used to open the windows to let the robins hop in and pick crumbs on the breakfast-table. On one
occasion she went with her father on a tour in the Highlands, and found on her return that a pet goldfinch,
which had been left in the charge of the servants, had been neglected by them and had died of starvation. She
was almost heart-broken at the event, and in writing her Recollections, seventy years after, she mentioned it
and said that, as she wrote, she felt deep pain. Her chief pet in her old age was a mountain sparrow, which
used to perch on her arm and go to sleep there while she was writing. One day the sparrow fell into the
water-jug and was drowned, to the great grief of its mistress who could hardly be consoled for its loss, though [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]