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unhappy, far-off things” the new wine of her youth and the immediate loveliness of this present life mingled an intoxicating cup. And suddenly the spell of the past would fall from her, and she would be as irresponsibly alive to the bright beauties of the challenging day as a dryad on holiday out of her tree.
As a girl, she was uniquely dear to the older men and women pleasurably stirred by the literary event of her early blossoming into essays and verse, and charmed anew, when they had found her out in her shy fastnesses, by the unstudied simplicities of her modest behavior. Mrs. James T. Fields and Sarah Orne Jewett were hers admiringly, Mrs. Louise Chandler Moulton, known by the affectionate brevet of Godmam, adopted her into a special sanctity of literary and personal regard, and T. W. Parsons hailed her as a compeer with whom he was eager to count over the pure coin out of their scholarly acquisition. It was he who, in some form of words not to be precisely recalled, confirmed her right to legitimacy in a bright succession in the arts, by telling her she was, in the
genius of her, “Hazlitt's child." Edmund Clarence Stedman, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Richard Watson Gilder, Henry Mills Alden, gave her work that generous welcome the noblesse of any art have in waiting for the acolyte bringing the cup new filled. And les jeunes, poets or pretenders, were hers to command. There were banners waving; only this was not in the fashion of present day acclaim when a new actor challenges his due. These were the dark chaplets and fragrant posies the Muses love: no canopies and red carpets and the blare of jazz. There were individual voices, low-pitched, grave, and their verdict holds. Time may have snowed it under and his jealous lichen sought to eat it up, but still it holds.
In those early years she published a bit of work, anonymous but signalized by her unique charm, and a magnate of the critical world saluted it.
“Your praise," she wrote him, "is a charming Cinderella slipper, and here's my shy foot to fit it."
To rehearse the names that were her spon
sors at this entrance into recognition would give you a brilliant list, with hardly a gap, of the intellectuals of some thirty to thirty-five years gone. In her simplicity of response to this rare quality of praise, her genius of fancy and acquisition flowing, like a magic ichor, through the veins of her artless Americanism, there was something as new as it was piquing. She belonged to the “dewy beginnings" of a fresh decade of literature, a phase authoritative and unique. If her head was not turned by the response she got to the fine timidities of her first achievement, it was because that symmetrical treasury of perfectly classified fact and fancy was permanently set, eyes to the past, where dwell the ever-living forerunners of literary glories, the authentic names that are "eternal blazon," the exemplar and despair of lesser men. timid, not before the contemporary critic, but the great witnesses of all time-simply, and in her reverent mind tremulously, a child of promise, heir to those old authentic glories, but not presuming on that lineage. Tremendously believed in, she trod her
earth lightly, yet becomingly, and carried her full cup with steady hands. No taint of ambition was in her, no trace of the base alloy of prize-getting and wearing. She had seen the “cloud capp'd towers” of the halls of light where the blessed everlastingly dwell, she had guessed at the shades and green valleys, the refuge of those "ordained to fail," and she knew thus early, through reverent intuition, that "it has become almost an honor not to be crowned.” Even then at the beginning, when chaplets were being woven for her, she might have written that later recital of her secular creed:
"To fear not possible failure
Nor covet the game at all.” At that time the game was in her hands: the game of youth and gayety and a blameless resolve to make the most of it all in the only way the great unseen censors, the Fates that spin and weave, allow.
She was a goodly picture of girlhood, Diana not so likely to be enamoured of Endymion as sandalled for the chase. Not tall, yet long-legged enough to give her advantage
on the road or the English downs, she had a free grace of movement, untrammeled by the awkwardness of fear. Even so early, she was slightly deaf, and one of her prettiest individual poses—yet how unstudied !—was, standing, bent slightly forward like Atalanta ready for the race, the rounded cup of her palm behind her ear, beseeching almost whimsically in the low voice that was half whisper without its sibilance: “Please !" Her misfortune was not a blemish; she made it a grace. Over that and the drawback of eyes ineffectual without the help of glasses she never wasted a breath of impatience: she adopted instead a humorous acceptance of these latter extraneous servitors as personified faculties of her own. The act of vision she ascribed to her spectacles alone, and took a never diminished joy in reminding you how Thackeray did it before her.
“If one dastard of a misplaced comma has escaped me," she writes, of printers' proofs corrected to the last degree of accuracy, “these spectacles fail to find it." Upon one victorious error, chased down