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poised against that of the author's confidential
Urbe ego, tu silvà simul incipiamus utrique;
Et simul adventum veris uterque canat.
Veris, et hoc subeat Musa perennis opus.
ON THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING.
divine my laboring bosom fires:
pupil and nephew, the latter must be considered as too weak and uncertain to be intitled to any great regard.
When he celebrates the inspiration of spring, Milton seems to be only following the example of his poetic predecessors, and to be writing with the taste of a classic rather than from his experience as a man. This season, when nature starts from her slumber and appears to exult in a species of new life, has always supplied the Muse with a favourite topic of description and panegyric. Even in our northern climate, this prime of the year has sufficient charms to allure the susceptible imagination of the poet; but under the glowing skies of Greece and Italy it is accompanied with so many striking and fascinating beauties as to be pos. sessed of irresistible attraction. We are not therefore surprised when we see it in the classic page displayed with so much delightful ima. gery, and find its' vivifying efficacy extended from the vegetable and the animal races to the intellectual and imperial dynasty of man.
In praise of Spring, sweet biru! you charm the plains:
Charles Symmons, jun.
By man indeed subsisting in an absolute state of nature, if we can imagine him in such a state, its influence would
probably be very sensibly felt; and the same genial virtue, which awakens the music of the woods and kindles the desires of the field, would excite, as it is likely, the torpid instincts and faculties of the human savage. On artificial man however, withdrawn as he is frorn nature by institution and by habit, we do not believe that the seasons, otherwise than as they may incidentally affect the health, can be productive of the slightest consequence. With respect to his body, we are not sensible of any change which they effect, and it is inconceivable that they can come into contact with the mind through any other medium than that of his corporeal organs. The complete independence of the human intellect, on the vicissitude of the seasons and the varying aspect of the external world, seems to be fully established by the experience of mankind, which has assured us that the imagination has taken her loftiest flights, and has painted her most brilliant scenery in the close retirement of the writer's study, when substituted light and heat have supplied the absence or the deficiency of the sun.
We are satisfied therefore that the information which Toland followed was neous, and we have only to consider with what limitation we shall receive the account given by Milton himself, as it is communicated to us by his biographer and kinsman, Philips.
That Milton's poetic power was subject to those inequalities of flow, to which the human fancy in its strongest or its weakest existence is inevitably liable, cannot for an instant be doubted. Like every man, who has ever solicited this faculty of the mind, the author of Paradise Lost would find it sometimes disobedient to his call, and sometimes preventing it. Labour would often be ineffectual to obtain what often would be gratuitously offered to him; and his imagination, which at one instant would refuse a flower to his most strenuous cultivation, would at another shoot up into spontaneous and abundant vegetation. In the intercourse with the fancy this has been uniformly experienced; and, without the information supplied by Richardson, we should have concluded that with Milton some days would elapse undistinguished by a verse, while on others the great poet would dictate thirty or forty lines under the impulse, as it were, of instant in
spiration. This must be admitted therefore not only as credible, but as certain; and, proceeding a step farther, we may reasonably suppose that, during the augmented heats of summer, in the close streets and under the oppressive atmosphere of a large city, these luminous moments would occur more rarely and would glow with less efficacious splendour.
Of the summer season then, during which he was so seldom sensible of the sparkling influences of fancy, he might be allowed to speak as of a period in which “ his vein never flowed happily:" though we cannot believe that for the whole interval between the vernal and the autumnal equinox his power of poetic composition was suspended and his work absolutely at rest. Even if his fancy were inert, his judgment would still be in action; and when no part of the finishing could be happily executed, the subject might be revolved and the plan digested. In the least brilliant instant the canvass might be prepared to receive the future births of the pencil.
Richardson, who records with affectionate reverence the minutest circumstance which he could discover respecting the object of his biography, relates that the author of