Alfred H. Miles, ed. Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.
Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles
Christina Catherine Fraser-Tytler (Mrs. Edward Liddell) (1848 )
MRS. EDWARD LIDDELL, perhaps better known as C. C. Fraser Tytler, published in 1881 a small volume of poems entitled Songs in Minor Keys. This volume soon reached a second edition, and we might almost have expected, as we could certainly have hoped, that the reception of the first might have encouraged the issue of a second volume, but it has not been so, and at the time of this writing the Songs in Minor Keys remains Mrs. Liddells one published volume of poetic work.
The qualities of this volume are well illustrated by the poems given in the following pages:Absolution is a sweet story of English lovers parted by circumstances, yet cherishing the old love, and meeting again after years of separation at the confessional where the woman confesses the wrong she does her husband and children by cherishing the memory of the old, far, happy time. The story, which is simple in its construction, is told with a pathos and beauty which makes even its sadness sweet, and irresistibly enkindles the sympathy of the reader for those whom love unites but fate divides. The passage in which the unconscious penitent, all unknowing yet all known, concludes her confession rises to a high point of dramatic interest and power:
The Highland Glen is another pathetic story, told in dialect by an old Scotch wife, who cheers herself amid the smoky surroundings of an old Scotch town by thoughts of the Highland Glen in which she spent her happy youth.
Naomi touches another phase of home sorrow, and with the same true and tender hand, a hand gifted with the touch of Nature which never fails to find the key-note of human interest, and finds it, by reason of its greater sensitiveness, oftenest in the minor scale. And yet, as Mr. Hall Caine has remarked, although the atmosphere of the book is distinctly an atmosphere of sadness, it is not of sadness prolonged until it becomes painful, but brightened by hope, and losing nothing of its natural effect from an undue dwelling on the night side of nature. The devotional pieces have sometimes a power that recall Christina Rossetti (Thou too hast Suffered is a beautiful exposition of ascetic passion), while the descriptive passages have an autumnal sweetness that reminds us occasionally of Mrs. Webster.