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the exception of “ Monaldi,” twenty-eight years afterwards, his only publication. This was a small volume, entitled “The Sylphs of the Seasons, and other Poems,” published in London; and, during the same year, republished in Boston under the direction of his friends, Professor Willard of Cambridge and Mr. Edmund T. Dana. This volume was well received, and gave him a place among the first poets of his country. The smaller poems in that edition extend as far as page 289 of the present volume.
Beside the long and serious illness through which he passed, his spirit was destined to suffer a deeper wound by the death of Mrs. Allston, in London, during the same year. These events gave to his mind a more earnest and undivided interest in his spiritual relations, and drew him more closely than ever before to his religious duties. He received the rite of confirmation, and through life was a devout adherent to the Christian doctrine and discipline.
The character of Mr. Allston's religious feelings may be gathered, incidentally, from many of his writings. It is a subject to be treated with the reserve and delicacy with which he himself would have had it invested. Few minds have been more thoroughly imbued with belief in the reality of the unseen world ; few have given more full assent to the truth, that “ the things which are seen are temporal, the things which are not seen are eternal.” This was not merely an adopted opinion, a conviction imposed upon his understanding; it was of the essence of his spiritual constitution, one of the conditions of his rational existence. To him, the Supreme Being was no vague, mystical source of light and truth, or an impersonation of goodness and truth themselves; nor, on the other hand, a cold rationalistic
notion of an unapproachable executor of natural and moral laws. His spirit rested in the faith of a sympathetic God. His belief was in a Being as infinitely minute and sympathetic in his providences, as unlimited in his power and knowledge. Nor need it be said, that he was a firm believer in the central truths of Christianity, the Incarnation and Redemption ; that he turned from unaided speculation to the inspired record and the visible Church ; that he sought aid in the sacraments ordained for the strengthening of infirm humanity, and looked for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
After a second residence of seven years in Europe, he returned to America in 1818, and again made Boston his home There, in a circle of warmly attached friends, surrounded by a sympathy and admiration which his elevation and purity, the entire harmony of his life and pursuits, could not fail to create, he devoted himself to his art, the labor of his love.
This is not the place to enumerate his paintings, or to speak of his character as an artist. His general reading he continued to the last, with the earnestness of youth. As he retired from society, his taste inclined him to metaphysical studies, the more, perhaps, from their contrast with the usual occupations of his mind. He took particular pleasure in works of devout Christian speculation, without, however, neglecting a due proportion of strictly devotional literature. These he varied by a constant recurrence to the great epic and dramatic masters, and occasional reading of the earlier and the living novelists, tales of wild romance and lighter fiction, voyages and travels, biographies and letters. Nor was he without a strong interest in the current politics of his own country and of England, as to which his principles were highly conservative.
Upon his marriage with the daughter of the late Judge Dana, in 1830, he removed to Cambridge, and soon afterwards began the preparation of a course of lectures on Art, which he intended to deliver to a select audience of artists and men of letters in Boston. Four of these he completed. Rough drafts of two others were found among his papers, but not in a state fit for publication. In 1841, he published his tale of • Monaldi,” a production of his early life. The poems in the present volume, not included in the volume of 1813, are, with two exceptions, the work of his later years. In them, as in his paintings of the same period, may be seen the extreme attention to finish, always his characteristic, which, added to increasing bodily pain and infirmity, was the cause of his leaving so much that is unfinished behind him.
His death occurred at his own house, in Cambridge, a little past midnight on the morning of Sunday, the 9th of July, 1843. He had finished a day and week of labor in his studio, upon his great picture of Belshazzar's Feast; the fresh paint denoting that the last touches of his pencil were given to that glorious but melancholy monument of the best years of his later life. Having conversed with his retiring family with peculiar solemnity and earnestness upon the obligation and beauty of a pure spiritual life, and on the realities of the world to come, he had seated himself at his nightly employment of reading and writing, which he usually carried into the early hours of the morning. In the silence and solitude of this occupation, in a moment, “ with touch as gentle as the morning light,” which was even then approaching, his spirit was called away to its
THE SYLPHS OF THE SEASONS, A POET'S DREAM
THE TWO PAINTERS, A TALE