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THOMAS BUCHANAN READ.
HAT more fitting illustration of the possibili
ties of the American boy than is given in the history of Thomas Buchanan Read. The traditional 'silver spoon' was lacking in this case. In place of it was given genius, though I doubt if the possessor of it ever guessed at his own abilities. Certainly his mother could not have foreseen anything in the future for her son beyond the acquiring of a comfortable business through the agency of a desirable trade; or, being a widow, perhaps her own necessities were the task-master. However it may be, he was apprenticed, at an early age, to a tailor, but the work evidently was uncongenial, as he ran away to Philadelphia and took up the trade of cigarmaking, and when fourteen years of age made his way to Cincinnati, where he found a home with Shobal V. Clevenger, the sculptor. His biographers do not state upon what terms the home was secured, and one can only conjecture that Mr. Clevenger must have taken an interest in the boy and given him the aid which should finally redound with such credit to both donator and donatee. While living with Mr. Clevenger, young Read learned the trade of sign-painter, attending school at intervals. He had also learned something of the art of painting and sculpture from Mr. Clevenger. Upon that gentleman's departure to Europe, Mr. Read went to Dayton, where he secured an engagement in a theater. He returned to Cincinnati a year later, and, with the assistance of Nicholas Longworth, opened a studio for portrait painting. He remained but a short time in Cincinnati, and from then on until 1841, when he finally located in Boston, he lived a migratory existence, going from one town to another, painting portraits or signs, giving public entertainments, and, as a last resort, cigarmaking. It was in 1843 Mr. Read's poetical talent blossomed forth, and he published in the Boston “Courier" several lyric poems. In 1846 he removed to Philadelphia. In 1850 he visited Europe, and from 1853 to 1858 he lived in Florence
and Rome, studying and practicing art. Although he after spent some time in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, Rome was his preferred residence. He was born in Chester county, Pa., March 12th, 1822, and died in New York, May 11th, 1872, while on a visit to this country. Mr. Read also possessed some dramatic talent. During the Civil War he gave public readings in aid of the soldiers, and many times recited his war-songs in camp. As a painter, Mr. Read cannot be considered so great a success as a writer. His pictures are graceful and poetic, but they lack fine technique. No doubt, had he received training in early life, he could have been classed with some of the great artists of the century. As it is, he has left some pleasing conceits in “The Spirit of the Waterfall," "The Lost Pleiad,” “The Star of Bethlehem,” “Undine," Cleopatra and Her Barge” and “Sheridan's Ride.” Some of his best portraits are those of George M. Dallas, the ex-queen of Naples, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Henry W. Longfellow, while his group of Longfellow's daughters was exceedingly popular. His literary productions include "Poems” (Philadelphia, 1847); “Lays and Ballads” (Phildelphia, 1848); “Female Poets of America " (1848); “The Pilgrims of the Great St. Bernard,” prose, published as serial,” “The New Pastoral” (Philadelphia, 1854); “The House by the Sea" (1856); “Sylvia, or the Lost Shepherd and Other Poems,” (1857); “A Voyage to Iceland” (1857); “The Wagoner of the Alleghanies" (1862); “A Summer Story" (1865), and “The Good Samaritan” (Cincinnati, 1867). His complete poetical works were published in three volumes in Philadelphia (1865 and 1867). Some of his poems have been issued in England.
N. L. M.
THE PILGRIM TO THE LAND OF SONG.
The dews are dry upon my sandal-shoon
Which bathed them on the foreign hills of song, And now beneath the white and sultry noon
They print the dust which they may wear too long.
The first that the general saw were the groups
Then striking his spurs, with a terrible oath,
He dashed down the line, 'mid a storm of huzzas, And the wave of retreat checked its course there,
because The sight of the master compelled it to pause. With foam and with dust, the black charger was
gray; By the flash of his eye, and the red nostril's play, He seemed to the whole great army to say, “I have brought you Sheridan all the way From Winchester, down to save the day!”
Sat up at his table,
Lay down in his bed: Oh, cold was the bridegroom, But colder the dead! – The Wagoner of the Alleghanies.
THE BRAVE AT HOME.
Hurrah! hurrah for Sheridan!
“Here is the steed that saved the day, By carrying Sheridan into the fight,
From Winchester, twenty miles away!”
The maid who binds her warrior's sash
With smile that well her pain dissembles, The while beneath her drooping lash
One starry tear-drop hangs and trembles, Though Heaven alone records the tear,
And Fame shall never know her story, Her heart has shed a drop as dear
As e'er bedewed the field of glory.
Not with a bondmaid's hand, but housewife's care, Who holds chaste plenty better than rich waste.
- The New Pastoral.
The wife who girds her husband's sword,
Mid little ones who weep or wonder, And bravely speaks the cheering word,
What though her heart be rent asunder, Doomed nightly in her dreams to hear
The bolts of death around him rattle, Hath shed as sacred blood as e'er
Was poured upon the field of battle. The mother who conceals her grief
While to her heart her son she presses, Then breathes a few brave words and brief,
Kissing the patriot brow she blesses, With no one but her secret God
To know the pain that weighs upon her, Sheds holy blood as e'er the sod Received on Freedom's field of honor.
And let thy stature shine above the world, A form of terror and of loveliness.
Oh, cold was the bridegroom,
All frozen with pride; He first slew her lover,
Then made her his bride.
Beneath a green willow,
And under a stone, The buried her lover,
And left her alone.
With naught but the bridegroom's
Proud breast for her head, Oh, how could she live when
Her lover was dead?
I saw two beautiful children
Of one fair mother born, Playing among the dewy buds
That bloomed beneath the morn.
The same in voice and size,
The same shade in their eyes.
In the self-same silvery tune,
Toward the fields of June.
The beautiful vales amid,
- The Twins.
Her body they buried
Beside the church-wall; Her ghost with the bridegroom
Sat up in the hall: