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Her father, Edward Barrett Moulton Barrett, with his sister, Sir Thomas Lawrence's famous 'Pinkie' and whose real name was Sarah, had come to England from Jamaica, Sarah dying invery soon after her famous portrait was painted, from tuberculosis.
With that slave wealth her father built Hope End innear Malvern, on the Welsh border, which he modeled on a Turkish seraglio Turks also owned slaves and which Elizabeth described as 'crowded with minarets and domes, crowned with metal spires and crescents'.
He encouraged his first-born child, Elizabeth, to share in her brothers' lessons and to explore the library. But he let her know that only the first-born son would inherit the slave wealth, not the daughters, and he even named the last-born sons of his twelve children, Septimius and Octavius, to indicate their place in the succession.
The older sister competed with her younger brother in Latin and Greek, on her own studying French, Italian and Hebrew. Elizabeth, separated from Bro at his departure for Charterhouse, collapsed with tuberculosis.
She nevertheless published poems in journals about Greece and Byron, and in published Essay on Mind, With Other Poems, the printing costs being paid for by a Jamaican family slave, Mary Trepsack.
Her letters on Greek metrics to Sir Uvedale Price, the classical scholar and friend of Wordsworth, were published under his name in The Slave Trade had been abolished the year of Bro's birth, The Barretts were therefore forced to sell Hope End, eventually living in the Marylebone district in London, the residential area popular with West Indian slave owners.
That poem's subject would have excited Elizabeth for she was already addicted, from the treatment for her childhood spinal tuberculosis, to opium in the form of laudanum, which had been invented by Paracelsus. Tragedy struck when Elizabeth, who had become seriously ill again with tuberculosis for the past several years, was sent to convalesce in Devon and begged that Bro stay with her there.
Her poetry during this period is filled with images of death and angels. Elizabeth returned to 50 Wimpole Street in in a carriage with a hundred springs.
Friends came to her help, Miss Mitford giving her the spaniel Flush and Richard Horne commissioning work from her, a translation from Chaucer ina poem 'The Cry of the Children', written in response to his 'Report on the Employment of Children in Mines and Factories'and which influenced legislation in the House of Lords, and essays for A New Spirit of the Age,which included essays upon herself and Robert Browning.
A series of portraits were sketched in June through August by Alfred Barrett Moulton Barrett of the other remaining three brothers, Henry, Septimius and Octavius, and two sisters, Henrietta and Arabella, of the Wimpole Street family.
And one of Elizabeth herself with Flush, the dog to be written about by Virginia Woolf. Elizabeth, at this time, was sealed into her room to protect her from drafts.
Her father prayed with her each night between eleven and twelve. She was attended by her maid Elizabeth Wilson, nicknamed Lily, and by her brothers and sisters.
During the day Elizabeth Barrett read, wrote innumerable sprightly and uncomplaining letters which flew about London with Rowland Hill's penny red stamps upon their tiny envelopes, and she composed poetry and drowsed from opium. Benjamin Haydon, whom she never met, struck up a friendship and wanted her to edit his papers.
He sent her his paintings including this one of Wordsworth upon Helvellyn, now in the National Portrait Gallery which Elizabeth's brothers in had hung in her room.
She sent him this poem which she published in the Athenaeum. He with forehead bowed And humble-lidded eyes, as one inclined Before the sovran thoughts of his own mind, Takes here his rightful place as poet-priest By the high altar. When Robert visited Elizabeth at Wimpole Street she had her brothers turn these engravings to the wall.
They eventually came with her to Italy and were placed in Casa Guidi's salone. In the same year Horne's New Spirit of the Age was published Elizabeth Barrett published ' Lady Geraldine's Courtship ', a work hastily written at the request of her publisher to make up two volumes of her Poems.
In it she described a low-born poet Bertram, being wooed by the Lady Geraldine of landed estates in Sussex.
Elizabeth's poem, in print, proposes marriage to both Tennyson and Browning, neither of whom she had yet met. Robert Browning had already published Bells and Pomegranates.
Elizabeth's proposals are couched in the form of poems read by Bertram to Geraldine: I do, as I say, love these books with all my heart - and I love you too: The letters exchanged between the two were kept by Elizabeth in this collapsible leather binder, by Robert in this inlaid box.
The letters are filled with learning and with love, with images of scarlet poppies, alluding to Elizabeth's opium addiction, with references to pomegranates, for Elizabeth asks Robert about his poems' title 'Bells and Pomegranates', and she guesses that Robert is part Jewish as well as from the West Indies and that the title is from the Bells and Pomegranates embroidered on Aaron's High Priestly robe.
He replies that 'The Rabbis make Bells and Pomegranates symbolical of Pleasure and Profit, the gay and the grave, the Poetry and the Prose, Singing and Sermonizing - such a mixture of effects as in the original hour.
They are filled too with ideas about life and art and Elizabeth says she desires to write a sort of novel poem like 'Lady Geraldine's Courtship' which shall rush 'into drawing rooms and the like "where angels fear to tread"'.
Robert in these letters sneers at women's books, like the novels written by George Sand, and at women's sonnets. Elizabeth, cut to the quick, for she had already begun her sonnet cycle, did not tell him of these poems and waited to give them to him for years.
These Sonnets, too, came with the rest of the luggage from Wimpole Street, along with the framed engravings of Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson, and the collapsible leather binder containing Robert's revered love letters, first to Petrarch's Vaucluse, then to Italy.
In Pisa Elizabeth became pregnant without realising it and wrote a strange poem based on her family's slave background. In it the speaker is a young raped slave who murders her half-white child, yet refuses to curse her own murderers in her broken-heart's disdain.
The pregnancy miscarried, Lily Wilson struggling to get her mistress to cut down on the laudanum in order to have a child. Elizabeth's sonnet speaks out against all forms of slavery, East and West, in Greece, enslaved in Byron's day by the Turks, in Russia, where the nobles owned serfs, and in America and the West Indies where whites, including her own father, owned black slaves shipped over from Africa, in ships such as those owned by her own mother's family and in one of which, the 'David Lyon', Elizabeth herself held a part share.
In this poem she is speaking not only of owners and slaves but also of fathers and daughters, for Edward Barrett Moulton Barrett even treated his children like slaves, particularly his daughters, forbidding any of them to marry.Top 10% Absolutely Positively the Best 30 Death Penalty Websites on the Internet (Top 1%) Death Penalty Information Center Probably the single most comprehensive and authoritative internet rersource on the death penalty, including hundreds of anti-death penalty articles, essays, and quotes on issues of deterrence, cost, execution of the innocent, racism, public opinion, women, juveniles.
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The Spirit of the Age (full title The Spirit of the Age: Or, Contemporary Portraits) is a collection of character sketches by the early 19th century English essayist, literary critic, and social commentator William Hazlitt, portraying 25 men, mostly British, whom he believed to represent significant trends in the thought, literature, and politics of his time.