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however, was the fact of his being somewhat ugly. We know that Byron's sense of having a distorted foot influenced the whole of his career from Loch-na-gar to Missolonghi, and that even the heroic Charlotte Bronté suffered many an hour's pain under the consciousness of personal shortcomings; but we still find it difficult to realize fully to our imagination the corroding effects of such a feeling as must have held possession of young Stagnelius, seeing that it led him from early boyhood to fly companionship as something inimical to him, and to make the books of a little library suffice for nearly all his enjoyments.
Not without sunshine, however, was this spring-tide of his life. In one of his odes—“Retrospect of Childhood”—he draws the following pretty picture of his earliest years:
To God I raised my pious sight
And dreamt day's golden joys again. But he tells us that this happiness departed : and no doubt some painful incident in early life prompted the following words :
Why, cruel fate, took I away
While idols all to action move?
On the sea of fate
Till comes a mighty wave, when, help too late,
(iii. 233-235.) The poet's father was a priest of good local standing, and was ultimately made Bishop of Calmar, in the south of Sweden. Being anxious that his son should have a sound, scholarly education, the boy was sent at an early age to the University of Lund. Before this time, however, it was found that the youth had acquired an immense amount of miscellaneous learning : he had an extraordinary memory, and not
vain had he cherished the privacy of his father's library. Like our own Southey and Scott in early boyhood, the lad had read everything that came in his way; but here, instead of the “ Amadis” and other books of chivalry, he found chiefly theology, mysticism, and philosophy. Here, then,-in a spiritual atmosphere touched with every kind of doubt and delusion, and in a physical atmosphere tainted with the mustiness of old tomes, and loaded with the chill dampness of northern winter-here did our young prison-flower gradually unfold itself, and only too soon manifest, by its etiolated outflowerings, how vital was the melancholy which was now tightening its hold upon a frail constitution.
Were any of Swedenborg's writings in that room? The time considered, this is highly probable; and assuredly if they were they must have attracted and influenced a precocious intellect like that of Stagnelius'. Remembering that Swedenborg's views form the substratum both of the poetry and the philosophy of this writer; seeing, too, how soon the latter had outlived his own conception of nature, namely, that the whole visible universe, considered in itself, is a work no otherwise than as a symbol of the order of that moral world which, through the second creation by the Word, ought to be organized,”* (i. 3)—the pro
1" bability comes near to certainty.
From Lund he went to the University of Upsala,-a place to us inseparably connected with Swedenborg and his writings. Here Stagnelius completed his college course; his melancholy still increasing; his sensitiveness and love of solitude growing more and more intense. May we not safely assume that our great seer's works would be perused here, where still lay the bulky manuscripts of some of his unpublished writings ? And would not the pensive young idealist be often invited to join the organization “Pro Fide et Caritate,” where admirers and receivers of Swedenborg's doctrines were then generally found ? Be this as it may, of one thing we are sure : the problem of life in its relation to being and doing was thenceforwards to press his spirit with continually increasing force for clearer solution. With what fitful agonizings the poet's nature was sometimes stirred, and how the antidote to his perplexities lay clear before him and altogether within his reach, let the following poem of his disclose :
Humbled, oppressed, a point for every dart,
“Jesus ! Jesus !” sighs my weary heart. “ The perfection of nature depends upon the perfection of man," is a suggestive thought of Swedenborg's, in “Hierogl. Key,” page 12.
That name I breathe while thickening foes assail,
Inleads the song to Jesus and His Bride.—(iii. 323.) Nothing could express more clearly than these words do, the insufficiency of a personal pantheism,* for an earnest, aspiring soul; and yet how fully alive our young poet was to “the Divine idea which lies at the bottom of appearances,” let the following passage show :
One Word there is, one Sole, Eternal Word ;
Its sphere the heavens sublime, the lowly clod :
* “The Christian is the recipient of a far deeper spirit than Plato knew. There was a veil upon the heart of the heathen world which has been removed."- Quar. terly Review, cxii. 346.
Through thousand dialects its sound is heard;
The Universe declares that word is God.
Earth's flowers reveal it on spring's vesture fair.
The west wind's whisper--all that name declare.
Its holy beams illume the stream of thought.
Decks nation's living, nations sunk to nought.
That word which comforted man's earliest race.
But Truth through mythic veil reveals her face.
Faith's earnest flower alone can pierce time's loam.
Thus through the desert shines our clear way home.—(iii. 63.) But “the Word was made flesh, and tabernacled in us. Stagnelius joyed and wept in the consciousness of this fact; and never did the rhymeless measure of the old Norse singers bear on its rythmic current so solemn a theme, towards so sweet a conclusion, as the following does Evening has come !
To woe a poppy';
To joy a rose.
Why none to me
O star gemmed one ?
No breath of hope
For heart aweary?
No cooling tear
For fevered care ?
Tell me, what sawest thou
Written of my soul,
On golden tablets,
In heaven near God ?
Doth my name shine
In the book of life,
And marked, O angel,
By mercy's hand ?
Thou answerest not!
Mute! ever mute
That visit souls
In the prison-life !
In mirror dark
A pansy modest
To visions gaze :
They show heaven's will
I ask in vain
All nature through:
In vain I seek
Counsel and peace
From boundless space !
But hark! I hear
And sovran word:
While brightly beaming
In breaks the true
Immortal light !
Thorn-decked I bow
Before the Cross,
Lo! heaven reveals
His gentle look
Shows mercy mine !
(iii. 146.) We know not when this was written ; but many are the tender poems which one might fancy had been penned soon after it, sc exultant seems the singer, as if he had but just stepped into the bright and gladsome morn after a lonely, starless walk through the valley and shadow of death, and for very joy must needs break forth in tearful song. Take the following, for instance. While true to Nature as a physical manifestation of the recreating influx of new life, it also beautifully bepictures the new world of joy and peace which the soul, approaching its Sabbath-state,* perceives as the reflex of its own intiding serenity :
The gloomy clouds forsake the welkin's space,
“No other plant but use blossoms from the soil in the heavens, because use is the vegetative soul,” says Swedenborg. —"Ath. Creed," 101.