Billeder på siden

their vices and follies.*

The great enemy of mankind, notwithstanding his wit and angelic features, is the most odious being in the whole creation.

SIR R. BLACKMORE. Quoted Spect., No. VI.

ALL false practices and affectations of knowledge are more odious to God, and deserve to be so to men, than any want or defect of knowledge can be.†

How beautiful is genius when combined
With holiness! Oh, how divinely sweet


The tones of earthly harp whose chords are touch'd
By the soft hand of piety, and hung
Upon religion's shrine, there vibrating,
With solemn music in the ear of God.


"THE great art to learn much," says Locke, "is to undertake a little at a time."

SOME people will never learn anything, for this reason, that they understand everything too soon.

FOR who knows all that knowledge contains?
Men dwell not on the top of mountains,
But on their sides, or rising's seat;

So 'tis with knowledge's vast height.


Hudibras, Part II., Canto 3.


HE made an instrument to know

If the moon shine at full or no;

That would as soon as e'er she shone, straight
Whether 'twere day or night demonstrate.

Ibid., Part II., Canto 3.

*To compliment vice is but one remove from worshipping the devil. COLLIER. On the Stage.

Feed no man in his sins: for adulation
Doth make thee parcel-devil in damnation.


†The abuse of any advantage is much more uncreditable than the want

of it.

COLLIER. Essays, Honesty.


CHLORIS, yourself you so excel,

When you vouchsafe to breathe my thought,
That, like a spirit with this spell

Of my own teaching, I am caught.

That eagle's fate and mine are one,

Which in the shaft that made him die

Espy'd a feather of his own,

Wherewith he wont to soar so high.

Had Echo with so sweet a grace
Narcissus' loud complaints return'd,

Not for reflexion of his face,

But of his voice the boy had burn'd.



POETRY is musick in words: and musick is poetry in sound: both excellent sauce, but they have lived and died poore, that made them their meat.

[blocks in formation]

POETS alone found the delightful way,
Mysterious morals gently to convey

In charming numbers; * so that as men grew
Pleased with their poems, they grew wiser too.
DRYDEN. Essay on Satire.

Thither thou know'st the world is best inclined,
Where luring Parnass most its sweet imparts;

And truth convey'd in verse of gentle kind
To read perhaps will move the dullest hearts.
FAIRFAX. TASSO. Jerusalem Delivered, Book I.

Thou, whose sweet youth and early hopes enhance
Thy rate and price, and mark thee for a treasure,
Hearken unto a verser, who may chance

Rhyme thee to good, and make a bait of pleasure :

A POET's mind should be clear and unsullied; and the Muses being virgins, their performances should agree with their condition.

[ocr errors]

COLLIER. Essay on the Immorality of the Stage.

THE common things of sky and earth,

And hills and valley he has view'd:

And impulses of deeper birth,

Have come to him in solitude.

From common things, that round us lie
Some random truths he can impart :

The harvest of a quiet eye,

That sleeps and broods on its own heart.


FORGETTING the great end

Of Poesy, that it should be a friend

To soothe the cares, and lift the thoughts of men.

Is there so small a range

In the present strength of manhood, that the high
Imagination cannot freely fly

As she was wont of old? prepare her steeds,
Paw up against the light, and do strange deeds
Upon the clouds? Has she not shown us all?
From the clear space of ether, to the small
Breath of new buds unfolding? From the meaning
Of Jove's large eye-brow to the tender greening
Of April meadows? Here her altar shone

[merged small][ocr errors]

Ay, in those days the Muses were nigh cloy'd
With honours; nor had any other care
Than to sing out and soothe their wavy hair.
Could all this be forgotten? Yet a schism
Nurtured by foppery and barbarism,
Made great Apollo blush for this his land.

Men were thought wise who could not understand

His glories with a puling infant's force

A verse may find him, who a sermon flies,

And turn delight into a sacrifice.



They sway'd about upon a rocking-horse,
And thought it Pegasus. Ah, dismal-soul'd!
The winds of heaven blew, the ocean roll'd
Its gathering waves-ye felt it not. The blue
Bared its eternal bosom, and the dew
Of summer night collected still to make
The morning precious: Beauty was awake!
Why were ye not awake? But ye were dead
To things ye knew not of,-were closely wed
To musty laws lined out with wretched rule
And compass vile: so that ye taught a school
Of dolts to smooth, inlay, and clip, and fit,
Till, like the certain wands of Jacob's wit,
Their verses tallied: Easy was the task:
A thousand handicraftsmen wore the mask
Of Poesy. Ill-fated, impious race!

That blasphemed the bright Lyrist to his face,
And did not know it.

MANY are poets who have never penn'd


Their inspiration, and perchance the best.


They felt and loved and died, but would not lend
Their thoughts to meaner beings; they compress'd

The god within them, and rejoin'd the stars
Unlaurell'd upon earth, but far more blest
Than those who are degraded by the jars

Of passion and their frailties link'd to fame;
Conquerors of high renown, but full of scars.
Many are poets but without the name;
For what is poesy but to create

From overfeeling good or ill; and aim
At an external life beyond our fate.

Oh! many are the poets that are sown
By nature; men endowed with highest gifts,
The vision and the faculty divine;
Yet wanting the accomplishment of verse.

These favour'd beings

All but a scatter'd few live out their time,
Husbanding that which they possess within,

And go to the grave unthought of. Strongest minds
Are often those of which the noisy world

Hears least.

WORDSWORTH. The Excursion, Book I.

And be the new Prometheus of new men

Bestowing fire from heaven; and then too late
Finding the pleasure given repaid with pain
And vultures to the heart of the bestower,
Who having lavish'd his high gift in vain,
Lies chain'd to his lone rock by the sea shore!
So be it we can bear.-But thus all they
Whose intellect is an o'ermastering power
Which still recoils from its encumbering clay
Or lightens it to spirit, whatsoe❜er

The form which their creations may essay,
Are Bards: the kindred marble's bust may wear
poesy upon its speaking brow

Than aught less than the Homeric page may bear:
One noble stroke with a whole life may glow,

Or deify the canvas till it shine

With beauty, so surpassing all below

That they who kneel to idols so divine

Break no commandment, for high heaven is there,
Transfused, transfigurated; and the line

Of poesy which peoples but the air

With thought, and beings of our thought reflected, Can do no more: then let the artist share

The palm, he shares the peril, and dejected Faints o'er the labour unapproved.-Alas! Despair and genius are too oft connected.

IN foreign universities,

BYRON. Prophecy of Dante.

When a king's born, or wed, or dies,
Straight other studies are laid by
And all apply to poetry:

Some write in Hebrew, some in Greek,
And some, more wise, in Arabic.
T'avoid the critic, and th' expense

Of difficulter wit and sense;

And seem more learnedish than those
That at a greater charge compose,
The doctors lead, the students follow;
Some call them Mars, and some Apollo,
Some Jupiter, and give him th' odds,
On even terms of all the gods:

« ForrigeFortsæt »