Lucile Reviewed in
The Dial: A Monthly Magazine for Literature, Philosophy and Religion.
September 1860 (I:9), p581.
Lucile. By Owen Meredith, author of “The Wanderer,” “Clytemnestra,” etc. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. Cincinnati: G.S. Blanchard. A beautiful love-story, told in verse,-- and very exquisite verse some of it is. It is such a book as one likes to have near to commune with, and derive constant pleasure from, as from a gentle, loving man who has seen much sorrow, but has learned much wisdom through sorrow. Owen Meredith seems to have studied both nature and man deeply, and with a clear, loving eye. His descriptions of scenery are vivid and picturesque, and his men and women have a reality about them rarely found in novels. There is no dreadful villain, and no godlike hero in the book, but the characters are strongly drawn, with great capabilities for both good and evil. The moral reflections are sound, healthy, and full of faith in purity and goodness. The leading idea of the book is the purifying influence of sorrow when received in the right spirit.
There are many beautiful passages which we would like to quote, but must confine ourselves to one:
“The mission of genius on earth? To uplift,
Purify, and confirm by its own gracious gift,
The world, in despite of the world's dull endeavor
To degrade, and drag down, and oppose it forever.
The mission of genius: to watch, and to wait,
To renew, to redeem, and to regenerate.
The mission of woman on earth ! to give birth
To the mercy of Heaven descending on earth.
The mission of woman : permitted to bruise
The head of the serpent, and sweetly infuse,
Through the sorrow and sin of earth's registered curse,
The blessing which mitigates all : born to nurse,
And to soothe, and to solace, to help and to heal
The sick world that leans on her. This was Lucile.”
The interest in the story is admirably sustained throughout, and you close the book with the feeling that you have a new and valued friend, whom you would like often to meet.
The Dial 2 (1881 May – 1882 April), “Illustrated Poems,” p176. [Reference is the 1882 James R. Osgood "Holiday" edition].
No poet was ever more strengthened by the support of the artist than Owen Meredith has been in the holiday edition of "Lucile." Designers and engravers of the highest order of ability have expended with prodigal spirit their skill and ingenuity in the illustration of this work. Not content with full-page designs, with figure-pieces and landscapes of superb conceit and workmanship, they have scattered profusely among the lines miniature engravings as delicate in finish as they are expressive in sentiment. Such elaborate and elegant illustration has rarely been bestowed upon any product of prose or poetry, and it must be regarded as a flattering tribute to the author thus honored. However critics may protest against the structure and substance of "Lucile," the credit it has with the multitude cannot be easily shaken. It has a host of admirers for precisely the reason that it is not poetry of the loftiest type, but slips easily along in a flowing measure invariably within the comprehension of the reader. Its rhymes are smooth, its figures do not escape the average capacity, and its philosophy, always trite and commonplace, is shrewdly couched in apposite phrases which hit the popular taste. More than this, the poem is steeped in an atmosphere of romance which is captivating to the great majority. Lucile is a heroine who wins universal homage. She has been met with repeatedly in fiction, but never adorned with more subtle graces than Owen Meredith's muse has thrown about her. In England, the poem, in its present exquisite form, has been received with such favor that the first edition was immediately exhausted. Its sale in America will, without doubt, be correspondingly rapid. (Published by J. R. Osgood & Co.; price $6.)
The Dial 10, #116 (Dec. 1889), p219.
The fluency with which the numbers flow in the metrical writing of Owen Meredith, together the romantic sentiment to which they are ever allied secure the perennial popularity which “Lucile” enjoys. It has been published in a great variety of elegant and enticing forms, and their extended success prompts still other new and successive editions. The latest is presented by F.A. Stokes & Brother, and is a comely example of the book-maker's art. Print, paper, and binding are in scrupulous taste. The illustrations, exhibiting versatility of composition, are the work of Frank M. Gregory. Inserted in the text as flowers are set on a branch, a free and irregular growth, they enhance the charm of one of the world's favorite poems.
A holiday edition of another of Owen Meredith's poems, “The Earl's Return,” is brought out in attractive style by Estes & Lauriat. The poem is less widely known than “Lucile” but has the likeness to the latter of a younger sister. It is a much shorter poem, but with picturesque qualities which the illustrator, W.L. Taylor, has seized as material for the exercise of his imagination. The chief pleasures of the unhappy Earl's wife are strong in pathos and beauty.
The Dial 10 (1889 May – 1890 April), “Holiday Publications,” p220
A holiday edition of another of Owen Meredith's poems, “The Earl's Return," is brought out in attractive style by Estes & Lauriat. This poem is less widely known than “Lucile," but has the likeness to the latter of a younger sister. It is a much shorter poem, but with picturesque qualities which the illustrator, W. L. Taylor, has seized as material for the exercise of his imagination. The chief pictures of the unhappy Earl's wife are strong in pathos and beauty.
The Dial 11 (1890 May – 1891 April), “Holiday Publications,” p. 249
Three comely duodecimo volumes, bound in orchid flowered cloth with backs and half sides of white vellum cloth contained in the “Vignette Series" (Stokes), merit the attention of those seeking tasteful yet moderate-priced gifts. The volumes comprise: “Lucile," with 100 illustrations by Frank H. Gregory; “The Princess, and Other Poems," by Tennyson, illustrated by Chas. Howard Johnson; and the ever popular “Lalla Rookh,” illustrated by Thomas McIlvaine. The poems are well printed on good paper, and the vignettes are liberally scattered through the text in the French style.
The Dial 15 (1893 July 1 – December 16), “Holiday Publications,” p397
The ever-popular “Lucille" makes its periodical appearance, this time in imperial 8vo. and resplendent in a cover of white vellum-cloth decorated with rich tracery and medallions in gilt, red, and blue. (Estes). The text is largely and clearly printed on rather thick paper, and there are a goodly number of illustrations, partly illustrative drawings, and partly photographic views of scenery, works of art, etc., touched upon in or suggested by the text. The volume is showy without being tawdry, and it should attract attention.
The Dial 16 (1894 January 1 – June 16), “Briefer Mention,” p338
A new edition of "Owen Meredith's" "Lucile," and a selection from his poems by Lady Betty Balfour, have been published in two handsome and uniform volumes (Longmans). The "Lucile" includes the preface to the third edition, in which the author defended himself against the charge of plagiarism. The other volume has a lengthy introduction bv Lady Balfour. She gives us selections from all of her father's books except "The Wanderer" (which has been republished in a volume by itself), "Orval" (which no one cares to remember), "Marah," and "King Poppy." There are also a few hitherto unpublished poems.
Note: This edition is also reviewed in The Quarterly Review ( London ) 206 (April 1907), p437-456. "The inscription on Robert Lytton's monument in St. Paul 's, written by his judicious friend Elwin, describes him as a ‘poet of many styles, each the expression of his habitual thoughts.'" (p444). "His father tells him, in sending back the proofs of ‘Lucile,' ‘The fault is incurable. It is in the wonderful excess of richness. There are too many words to one truth. But, so far as I have thus read, I feel more and more the ease, brightness and lightness of the whole. It has the indefinite thing, Charm.'" (p445).
The Dial 23 (1897 July 1 – December 16), “Holiday Publications,” p397
It was a happy idea to have Madeleine Lemaire illustrate "Lucile" (Stokes), -- if the idea of reprinting the poem can be said to be happy, -- for her pretty sentimentality is well adapted to the false emotions and sing-song rhythm of Owen Meredith's great effort. The water-colors are well reproduced in color, and the drawings in black-andwhite, by Mr. C. McCormick Rogers, are fairly good.
Last revised: 23 August 2010