James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

January 3


By Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)

  • Elisabeth Felix, called Rachel, was one of the greatest tragic actresses that the world has ever seen. Of Hebrew descent and Swiss birth she began life as a street singer in Lyons. She began to study music in Paris, but losing her voice turned to the study of dramatic art and ultimately attained enormous success. She visited England and America and it was here that she caught the cold which finally ended her life at Cinnes, January 3, 1858, at the age of thirty-seven.

  • SPRUNG from the blood of Israel’s scattered race,

    At a mean inn in German Aarau born,

    To forms from antique Greece and Rome uptorn,

    Tricked out with a Parisian speech and face,

    Imparting life renewed, old classic grace;

    Then soothing with thy Christian strain forlorn,

    A-Kempis! her departing soul outworn,

    While by her bedside Hebrew rites have place—

    Ah, not the radiant spirit of Greece alone

    She had—one power, which made her breast its home!

    In her, like us, there clashed, contending powers,

    Germany, France, Christ, Moses, Athens, Rome.

    The strife, the mixture in her soul are ours;

    Her genius and her glory are her own.