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[Concerning Milton and Dryden.] *S
ANTISTROPHE III. 22 Nor second he, that rode sublime
95 Upon the seraph-wings of ecstasy,
The secrets of the abyss to spy.
100 He saw; but, blasted with excess of light,
Closed his eyes in endless night. Nor inferior in his own course is he who careered aloft, upon the angelpinions of rapture, to inquire into the mysteries of the eternal world. He journeyed beyond the blazing environments of space and calculable periods ; he witnessed the sovereign seat of life, the bright blue brilliancy of those gems on which, while the hosts of the skies look, they exceedingly fear and quake; but blinded by the fierceness of the splendour of its glare, he shut his eyes in the total eclipse of darkness.
Nor the bright stars that night's blue arch adorn,
Shine with such lustre as the tear that flows IL Down Virtue's manly cheeks for others' woes." (95) “The greatly gifted centaur smiled,
Then thus with counsel pure replies :
Unlocks the gates of ecstasy." --Pindar's " Pythian Odes," ix., 65. Rapture, enthusiastic absorption, resistless poetic power :
“ Dissolve me into ecstasies,
Milton's “ Il Penseroso,” 165-6. Winged "as the seraph who adores and burns."-Pope. (97) “ Who shall tempt with wandering feet
The dark, unbottomed, infinite abyss,
Over the vast abrupt?"__"Paradise Lost,” ii., 404–400. (99) “The spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.” “ And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone;" "and it had brightness round about ; as the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezek. i. 20-28).
(101) Withered up, blinded, as if by lightning. “ And, behold, seven 1870.
Behold, where Dryden's less presumptuous ear
105 With necks in thunder clothed, and long-resounding pace. See! whither along the spacious territories of renown, a pair of steeds of heavenly breed, black-maned and powerful, in their speed carry on the less daring chariot of Dryden.
["The poet speaketh modestly of himself.]
110 But ah! 'tis heard no moreListen! his hands bring out the secrets of the harp; clear-seeing Inagination brooding over him besprinkles from her casket of visions ideas that live and expressions that glow. But, alas! these sounds are not again to strike upon
thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them (Gen. xli. 6).
“ The blasted stars looked wan,
(106) “Hast thou given the horse strength ? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder ?" (Job xxxix. 19). (106) « Waller was smooth, but Dryden taught to join
The varying verse, the full resounding line,
The long majestic march, and energy divine."
“Here let me bend, great Dryden, at thy shrine,
Thou dearest name to all the tuneful Nine!
And the whole art of poetry is thine."
“ The Prophet,” by Cowley, 1. 20.
O lyre divine, what daring spirit
115 Sailing with supreme dominion
Through the azure deep of air;
Such forms as glitter in the Muse's ray,
Beneath the good how far!—but far above the great.
O celestial harp, what adventurous genius rouses thy tones at this time? Notwithstanding that, he does not possess by descent, either the high temper or the mighty power which carry the kingly bird of Thebes (Pindar), as he floats in full sovereignty along the blue spaces of the heavens ; still frequently before his youthful vision would such fancies as glisten in the light of poesy-in Eastern splendour underived from the common light of day-flash and rush. Nevertheless, he shall move upward and onward, and preserve the course of his life above the boundaries of the ordinary destiny of mortals—at a lowly distance from the holy and the just, but equally far removed from the life-path of those whose station alone ennobles them.
(114) Gray has a similarly humble, yet confident self-reference and estimate, at the close of his “Elegy written in a Country Churchyard :"
“Here rests his head upon the lap of earth,
A youth to fortune and to fame unknown,
And Melancholy marked him for her own.
“ Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompence as largely send :
He gained from heaven ('twas all he wished) a friend.
“No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, (There they alike in trembling hope repose,)
The bosom of his Father and his God."
(115) “Pindar compares himself to the eagle, and his enemies to ravens, that croak and clamour in vain below while he pursues his flight regardless of their noise." -Gray.
OBJECTIONS TO DEBATING SOCIETIES. By John Stores Smith, Author of " Mirabeau : a Life History." PERHAPS the only generally suc- humanity?” “Does Andrew Marvel cessful portion of the actual ma- deserve the thanks of posterity ?" chinery of literary institutiors are " Whether is Kirke White or the the debating clubs; the few advan- prophet Isaiah the truest poet?” tages, of which are overw!:elmed in while you hear, as I have heard, their disadvantages. They are the in the most florid harangues, the natural result of the employment of most childlike ignorance displayed : associations for the intellect; en- Burns designated as one of our finest couroging, as that must, a showy nineteenth century poets ; Mahomet outside of knowledge with no inner spoken of as the predecessor of the root, rather than well-smelted, well- Saviour! The resolute, independent assimilated information. Beginning knowledge-seeker does not herd with at a late hour in the evening, a young such as these ; knowing the falsity of man is drawn away from home to the gregarious system, he is perfectadmire his own glib utterance, and ing himself slowly, but truly and astonish a few of his fellows by an surely, in his quiet home-not there. exhibition of a miracle peculiar to The general purpose to which our century--the manufacture of such institutions are applied is a glittering texture from perfect va. kind of lounge, where there are comcuity and emptiness. Were he to panions to be met, benches to loll choose from the library any book upon, romances to read; where at random well-nigh, and to retire cane-heads can be sucked and time home and read it, it cannot be but killed until an amusement is decided he would retire to rest a wiser man upon, the casino opens, or the opera than after a month's attendance on begins. The only excuse or palliaa debating club. It would be diffi. tion the warmest supporters of these cult to tuli what result springs from institutions as they are bring forsuch societies, except the augment- ward, is that they keep young men ing of unlimited babble, and the from the tavern and elsewhere. But increase of vain sciolism. Nothing I beliere that the good of such a can be more intensely comical than change is much exaggerated. What the dilletante depth and metaphysics can you call these places hut intelof these debates; the pen of Cervantes lectual taverns ? this debating, conis wanting to describe the Quixotic cert-attending, lounging existence, scene of a meeting of men arguing but mental dissipation? You only with fiercest gesticulations, with in- change the form of the eril, the flated oratoric pomp and self-im- evil is there unmitiga.ed wder % portance, as thouglí pleading for the new phase: and if you simply c'mrights of man before the universe pare the bodily dissipation of the upon some such topic as these :- tavern or brothel with the mental “Have the Crusades really benefited dissoluteness of these places, I ain
by no means convinced that there to reform. The cause is inerely is any gain in the metamorphosis. the calling in the principle of assoTo society it is a gain, certainly, to ciation in matters where their apchange the form of profligacy from plication is hazardous without perthe tavern to the Athenæum ; buti ceiving that, and without bestowivg to the individual himself there is the corresponding care and attention. little or no gain. We always lose The evils arise from having fallen sight of the fact that it is the soul, into ecstasies at the machinery, forand not the body, that it is of import- getting what it was erected to perance to keep active and alive; that form ; in concentrating thought and the body is alone of importance be- energy upon the means, and losing cause of its influence upon the soul. sight of the end.
to People In the actual fact of my pouring do not see that in all these plans down my throat certain potations, and machines, and club with club, or giving myself over to certain and society with society, is no bodily intemperances, is no evil, no beauty, no benefit, except in procrime ; but it is so because the body portion as they spreadi enduring has an indissoluble union with the knowledge among the members of soul, and all bodily pollution reacts the same. They should be regarded upon the soul.
It is no
as necessary evils, not as a positive great achievement to rescue a soul good. For every man to have all from being soiled and dissipated in thebooks he needs, all the instructors taverns by beer and wine, to soil he requires, so that tlie use of inand dissipate it by empty quackeries stitutions would be superseded by in literary institutions. Nay, the individual possession, that would be latter is even a retrogression, inso- the highest state to be attained. much as the tavern-haunter knew For those who feel they want their his dissipation to be 'base, and assistance they supply a good; but blushed while he went astray; while he is the strongest man who requires the other prides himself upon his them not. They are a benefit when conduct, and looks down alike upon they serve to aid a man in his pursuit his grosser and his wiser brethren. after learning, and to teach him how 2311} Are, then, these literary associa- super-eminently great is that, rather tions entirely useless, entirely noxi- than not to bave which he calls in ous? And would it be advisable, if such intricate auxiliaries ; but they possible, that they should be dis- are an inexpressible harm where continued ? By no means; with all they lead any one to consider them their evils they do really accomplish as good in themselves, and so to somewhat; and their evils are only mechanize their minds by mingling so strongly animadverted upon here among objectless mechanism; when because I do not consider that the they cause any one to conceive he question resolves itself to tlie narrow can win, even by the most elaborate point of" to remain as they are, or cramming, the most subtle patent to cease to be." I believe it within medicine system, that which can the compass of human inte to lone be bought by patient investi. see the causes of this lamentable gation and examination, by long vindication of an otherwise mighty nights of laborious studies.-Exand beneficent agency, and seeing, tracted from “ Social Aspects."),} ff is hittin