« ForrigeFortsæt »
THOUGHTS AND IMAGES.
5. There are countenances far more How many ought to feel, enjoy, and indecent than the naked form of the understand poetry who are quite inMedicean Venus.
sensible to it! How many ought not 2.
to attempt to create it who waste How overpowering are the mingled themselves in the fruitless enterprise ! murmur, clang, tramp, and rattle of a It must be a sickly fly that has no pabody of troops, with all their footsteps, late for honey. it must be a conceithorses, arms, artillery, and varied ed one that tries to make it. voices! How insignificant compared
6. with this uproar the speech of a single There can be poetry in the writings mouth ! Yet the whisper of one of few men ; but it ought to be in the mouth sets in motion and drives on hearts and lives of all. to death and devastation twenty such
7. bodies, comprising, perhaps, a hun- Many have the talents which would dred thousand human lives.
make them poets if they had the ge3.
A few have the genius yet It is trivial to say that geometrical want the talent. truth means only consistency with
8. hypothesis, unless we add, that the No man is so born a poet but that hypothesis is necessary and immutable. he needs to be regenerated into a poe4.
tic artist. Conceive an arch wanting only the keystone, and still supported by the Luxurious and polished life, without centreing, without which it would fall a true sense for the beautiful, the good, into a planless heap. It is now held and the great, is far more barren and up merely by the supports beneath it. sad to see than that of the ignorant Add the keystone, and it will stand a and brutalized. Even as a mere wil. thousand years, although every prop derness would be less dreary to traverse should be shattered or fall in dust. than a succession of farms and garNow, it is idle to say that this change dens diligently and expensively cultiin the principle of the structure was vated to produce no crops but weeds. accomplished by the mere addition of
10. one more stone. The difference is There are minds, or seem to be such, not only that of increase, but also that which we can only compare to a noble of almost magical transmutation. No cathedral of vast size, beautiful prostone before helped to hold up its portions, and covered with graceful neighbour, and each having its own ornaments. Nothing that art can prop, any one might have been remo- supply to devotion appears wanting ved without shaking the support of till we approach the great door and the others. Now, each is essential to try to enter, when we find the seemthe whole, which is sustained not ing building only a solid rock outfrom without but by an inward law. wardly carved into that appearance. So is it with religion. It not only
11. adds a new feeling and sanction to A botanist with a conscience will those previously existing in the mind, understand the saying, that no weeds but unites them by a different kind of grow on earth except in the heart of force, and one for the reception of which all the invisible frame was pre
12. pared and planned, though it may A fierce polemic often pulls down stand for years unfinished, upheld by the temple in order to build a fortified outward and temporary appliances, wall for the defence of its site against and manifesting its want of the true all profane invaders.
What worse bond and centre which it has not yet could they bave done to it? But if received.
he merely uses the sacred shields and
weapons, “ armoury of the invincible of events and the significance of huknights of old,” hung in the sanctuary, man life intelligible and manifest to for the purpose of defending it against all, not merely to a few recluse or destroyers, he does the God service scattered doers and sufferers. who, as the Genius Loci, will surely
16. fight beside him.
What an image of the transitoriness 13.
and endless reproduction of things is What is the one indispensable qua- presented by the gumcistus plant, co. lity for a polemic controversialist ? vered to-day with fresh white flowers, Not learning, nor talents, nor ortho- while the earth around is strewn with doxy, nor zeal. But the Spirit of Love, those which similarly opened but yeswhich implies an anxiety to find good terday. The plant, however, abides in all, and to believe it where we can- and lasts, although its flowers fall and not find it. God admits into his perish. courts no advocates hired to see but
17. one side of a question.
Man is a substance clad in shadows. 14.
18. We look with wonder at the spec- The firm foot is that which finds tacle which astronomy presents to us,
firm footing. of thousands of worlds and systems of
19. worlds weaving together their harmo- The weak falters although it be nious movements into one great whole. standing upon rock. But the view of the hearts of men
20, furnished by history, considered as a Sylburgius is a narrow fierce man; combination of biographies, is immea- a kind of dark lanthern ; a mass of surably more awful and pathetic. iron blast, but still burning hot. With Every water-drop of the millions in little vision or sense for the outward, that dusky stream is a living heart, a and with but weak and scanty sympaworld of worlds! How vast and thies, he wants the awakening and sugstrange, and sad and living a thing he gesting influences of external beings, only knows at all who has gained' which might have given him a conknowledge by labour, experience, and sciousness of Truths not immediately suffering ; and he knows it not per arising from his own character. As fectly.
there is no predominance of Reflection
in his mind, he has not been led to exAll the ordinary intercourse of life pand and deduce to their full extent is big and warm with poetry. The the principles he acknowledges. But history of a few weeks' residence in a with some power of insight he sees circle of human beings is a domestic that there is a Truth to be believed, and epic. Few friendships but yield in with strong zeal he clings to and hugs their developement and decay the stuff it as all that he can trust in. Propose of a long tragedy. A summer day in to him any thing as additional and the country is an actual idyll. And supplementary to this, and he thinks it many a moment of common life something which you would substitute sparkles and sings itself away in a for his own peculiar possession, and light song ; wounds as the poisoned so would rob under pretence of enbarb of an epigram ; or falls as a riching him. And herein is the heavy mournful epitaph. But in all essence of the man's individuality, he who has an ear to catch the sound namely, in his view of Truth as somemay find a continuous underflow of thing which can be his property, and quiet melody, bursting sometimes into under his dominion, and therefore as chorusses of triumph, sometimes into limited, for so all property must be, funereal chants. The reason why and cut off from a larger field left open these archetypal poems of real life are to be divided and possessed by others. so often unfit for the use of the poetic He does not discern Truth as rather a artist, is not their want of the true Law, or Sovereign Constitution, to meaning of poetry, but their unsuit- which we look up, than as areas of clay ableness to the apprehension of any and sand which we may mete out anil except the few, perhaps the one, im- occupy ; as the Law of the Land ramediately concerned. The poet must ther than the Land itself. Hence, in his choose such a sequence of images as maintenance of his Faith, there is all shall make the harmonious evolution the tenacity, the self-assertion, the at
titude of resistance, which men display those who make a trade of honouring in vindication of their material posses. Him. And how many of the selfsions. Noble art thou, O man! who styled, world-applauded holy are mere canst possess Truth as thine own! traffickers in the temple, setting so How far nobler if thou wouldst be by much present self-denial against so Truth possessed, and so ennobled by much future enjoyment ! the Sovereign to whom thou owest
God is the only voluntary Being to 21.
whom we cannot, without absurdity Every man's follies are the carica and self-contradiction, attribute aught ture resemblances of his wisdom. arbitrary and self-willed. And, to 22.
doubt that we can know and compreIf men were not essentially believing hend the principles by which he acts, beings, falsehoods could have no effect is to deny both that our reason is a on them ; for a falsehood operates gleam of his light, and that he has not as known to be false, but only as ever revealed himself to us at all. believed to be true. A falsehood, in
27. its own name and character, is an im- As a sublime statue manifests its pudent nothing. The fictions of the maker's thought, so God's creation artist are only falsehoods, in so far as displays his mind. But conceive, that they depart from literal and partial while the rude mass is shaped into the truth in order to attain to the ideal and lineaments of a man, it grows more universal.
and more conscious of the advancing 23.
work, so that each new outward line A great truth sometimes sets the and trait is accompanied by a new and world in flames; and men afterwards livelier inward sense of the artist's decommemorate the stoppage of the con- sign, and, consequently, of his chaflagration by some such dead monu- racter, and we have a faint image of ment as that which looks down on the scheme which the history of the London, crowned with a dead brazen world unfolds. resemblance of the active living fire.
28. But in another age the symbol may We are, indeed, clay in the hands burst out again with the old life, and of the potter ; but what a weight of the brazen flames become real ones new meaning, what a revolutionary and kindle the land anew. Even the transmutation, transorganization of the sepulchral images and signs of truth whole image arises, when we only add, have a power to suggest and awaken in one word, that we are conscious the reality, so framed are men for clay. I may mould a plastic lump of truth, born into it as their element, earth or putty in my fingers for an vitally akin to it, and sensitive to the hour, shaping it into a hundred forms, least rumour or stir of it. For the a cube, a ball, a crescent, a pyramid. consciousness of truth is nothing else At last the fancy seizes me to give it but the finding of one's self in one's the semblance of a child: and, at the world, and of one's world in one's moment when I have rudely shaped self, and of God in all.
the limbs, they begin to heave and 24.
glow with life; the lips breathe, the God, where the word expresses a faint eyes open, and fix on me with a mere tradition, custom, premise of a gaze of thought and emotion. I thrill theory, or unknown power, is less than with fearful joy and awe. Is the clay to the least of realities; not so much as meany longera mass which I can mould the African's lock of hair, or bunch of and juggle at with pleasure ? Alas! it is rags, which he calls his fetish; but now a sacred, an immeasurable thing; rather the sound, shadow, or dream of itself a man ; almost a god. Its senthis. When known, believed, loved, sations quiver on into my heart. I reverenced-vaster than the universe, am no longer a potter-but a parent. nay, than man ; more than the Infinite
29. and Eternal, even the Author and There is one class of men in whom Fount of these, and of the reasonable the higher powers of insight, love, and mind that knows them.
faith, appear to want a sufficient appa25.
ratus of the meaner faculties, the quick They who deride the name of God perception and sturdy boldness reare the most unhappy of men, except quired for working in this world of work. There are others of whom the poses, with an air of the jauntiest reverse is true. They are Torsos kindliness, the relaxation of a farce, a trunks and arms, but no heads. They masquerade, or a stroll in a green field. have quick apprehension and ready On this earth, where men so often wanvigour; but in the higher movements der amid graves and charnel houses, and of the spirit are confused, inert, hospitals, wrapped in funeral mantles— crippled. The business of life for each or stand upon the lonely stormy ridges, is to supply what each wants ; to sentinels armed for fight-he skips strengthen the deep roots for the nou. along with a Jew's harp, and a smellrishment of the apparent and excessive ing bottle, as if these were divine prebranches ; and to take care that the servatives, Moly and Hæmony, against hidden and imperishable root shall all sense of ill and danger. Say to struggle forth into the production of him that, after all his quips and gentleadequate stem and boughs, leaves, nesses, a living foot of blood and bone blossoms, and fruit. So each may must have something firmer than cobmurmur peacefully in the breeze, and webs pearled with dew to stand upon, calmly shade the soil; and each shall and must spurn those who would deny wave amid the storms with the roar of it any better support, and he is not inall its awakened being — brows, and dignant-he is too soft and sweet a a mantled head, dark with mysterious thing for that — but fretted and hurt umbrage, propped upon an unshaken with a sense of undeserved wrong, and and columnar stem.
is unhappy till he has accomplished a 30.
formal reconciliation, to be celebrated Lies are the ghosts of truths—the with a hecatomb of sugar plums. masks of faces.
In support of his filagree and tinsel 31.
fancies, Dulcidius has no lack of arDulcidius is an extreme example of guments, which sound plausible and a kind of man not uncommon in an specious, and bubble over with ingeage like ours, of hectic, flatulent sym- nuity and prettiness. But his reasonpathies, and præter-human humanities. ings buzz and twinkle like summer He shuts his eyes to all that annoy flies, and after all, leave each of them him, or would, if noticed, annoy him, only a puny speck of dirt behind. in the existence of mankind; and you would not one fancy that he is some can work him no sorer injury than to wealthy fop, who has never known say or do any thing which disturbs his the pressure of difficulty ? Yet he has waking dream. If men are not ex- had his pains and crosses ; has lost an empt from labours and sorrows, yet, arm and an eye ; and with a face in his eyes, they ought to be ; and we seamed with heavy wrinkles, and a must cheat ourselves and others with head of snow-white hair, lie goes prathe pleasant delusion that it really is ting, and quirking, and simmering, and so; and must forget the miseries flaunting away in all the good-humourwhich we cannot altogether escape ed vacancy of a milliner's girl in the from. In face of the gravest calami- midst of her shreds and gauzes, or a ties and toils he turns away his head doating country barber with his soapwith a wink and smirk, as if to let froth and gossip. What stern hard us know that he is in the secret, and fierceness, what fantastic bigotry would that these horrors are but empty bug- be as melancholy and repulsive as the bears to frighten children. With a sight of this dreary baseless levity, harlequin's leap, and a clown's grin, and tawdry benevolence ! he whisks out of the throng, and press, So says the high and pure, but and fierce contention ; and chirps, or somewhat narrow and haughty mochatters that if people would only ralist. But is there not another side stand still, or lounge about and sip to the question? In a world where sugar and water, all evils under the there are grains of dust as well as sun would disappear. If men stare mountains, and where the thistle-down with blank consternation at the spot of hangs upon the oak, may there not be a shipwreck or a massacre, he tries to room for weak and trivial men beside draw off their attention, and raise their the noblest and most earnest ? A fool spirits with a puppet-show, or a penny with cap and bells may jingle away trumpet. And, to one wrestling in his life at the elbow of Rome-crowned the agonies of conscience, or nerved Charlemagne. There are doubtless for severe and heroic effort, he pro- hours of desperate conflict for the
gravest interests of mankind, when doubtless, was mourning for a son, the slight and empty spirits are neces- perhaps for his crimes. But I felt sarily trampled down like sparrows' that to me sublime religion and pereggshells, or swept away like spar- fect art were nothing while I saw so rows' feathers, by the holy will of the close to me a living genuine misery. hero and the prophet. The chaff must
33. fly when the storm blows; and the The forests of utterance, with all frogs of the pool, when its waters red- their rustling raving seas of leaves, den with blood of men, are squelched grow out of the deep and silent soil, unpitied under the hoofs of the war. the immeasurably deep boundlessly borses. So be it, for it must be so. silent bosom of old earth. Yet the But in quiet times, and the long inter. living utterances are better than the spaces of history, there is leave and sublime silence; but for which also license for the growth of weeds, and they could not be. Weedlike creatures, which also have
34. their use. For this weed is an old If men's reason were laid to sleep, woman's remedy, and that a child's no doubt they would do by instinct plaything. The idle creepers grow many more than as at present of the up round the grey stone effigy for a things to which instinct is equal. The century; but when the hour comes, instinctive powers are lost sight of and the figure feels new life, and wakes under the presence of the rational and starts, and flashes out with eyes consciousness, as the stars disappear in and sword, it snaps the fettering sunshine. Hence we may explain growth like worsted threads, and they some of the startling ingenuities of perish rightfully. But while the poor savages. But the delights and capaand puffed-up worthlessness of our cities of the conscious spirit, instinct neighbour does no more harm than never can supply. For instinct is in. offend our more serious thoughts, or telligence incapable of self-consciousjar on our sensitive retiredness, it is justice to pardon him, and charity to
35. endeavour to feel with him, and help
Whatever has been seen of Fair and him on.
Fireflies are not stars, but Excellent was first conceived in the neither are they mere nothings. We sacred darkness of the Unseen. But cannot steer by them, we must not because vitally, irrepressibly, fair and worship them; but we need not crush excellent, therefore, must it needs them. The smallest, paltriest human go forth, and so be seen in its true creature may have pains and conflicts beauty. to maintain himself, even in his small
36. paltriness, equal for him to the inward It is not a part, small or great, but strivings of a Luther or a Shakspeare. the very whole of a man's work, ha.. 32.
ving within himself (as all have) a There are looks and gestures of world of dusky unembodied greatness, quiet, unheard of women, a house- to bring this to utterance, first within keeper, a governess, a sodden washer- his heart, clearly, honestly, and therewoman, and of men as commonplace fore, as must needs be, slowly; and as any whom Holborn, or Manches- next at ripe seasons, and with due preter, or May Fair generates, in which cautions, by bold unconquerable flama thoughtful eye will read tragedies to ing mouth and deed outwardly to utter draw deeper, bitterer tears than Shak- it. His utterance must be this thing, speare's Othello, Goethe’s Tasso, or and no other which he has truly intiall the woes of Euripides. I have mately found within himself. Often stood in a group of peasants before this cannot to bimself be altogether a painted crucifixion, and there were clear and evident till he has begun to looks of sympathy which mine per- impart it. And thus as the whole haps reflected. But I heard a hard race of man is still but individual man, heavy breathing behind me, and turn- multiplied and completed, so all human ing, I saw a woman who had brought history is but the striving towards full her sorrows thither, not found them and mature utterance of that dark and there. She stood with dull and heavy seething reality which lies hidden and eyes beholding the painted grief of the more or less turbulent in every breast. Holy Virgin Mother. I never knew But as the true utterance of all the what was her calamity. She too, truth is the work and consummation of