« VorigeDoorgaan »
TO AN OLD COAT.
No sight hadst thou of the glad sun, or smell FROM BERANGER.
Of the fresh flowers in heaven's free breath
that blow. Poor coat, well loved for many reasons, Day was as night to thee, and night as day. Since both of us grow old, be true ;
Yet did thy soul reach out to the upper air, This hand has brushed you for ten seasons, With one sole hope wing sad the earthward E'en Socrates no more could do.
way, Whilst Time your thin and white-seamed stuff To know if still her heart might love thee Keeps on attacking without end,
there, Wisely, like me, his blows rebuff;
And link thee back to life from dead despair : And never let us part, old friend.
Surely thy cry might storin men's ears for aye!
strong My friends around to honor bore you,
And poured their welcome forth in song.
In thine own temple, Lord, I waiting stand, So never let us part, old friend.
Bright stars above, the night is wond'rous
fair, You're patched behind, an ancient rending;
And beauty lingers on the moonlit air, That, too, recalls a past delight:
A holy quiet rests o'er sea and land; One night to run from Jane pretending,
Calm is the face of heaven, peace broodeth I felt her soft hand clutch me tight.
As when a mother gently lifts her hand, Torn were you, and that frightful tear
To hush her child, and bid its murmur cease, It took my Jane two days to mend, Whilst I was held her captive there ;
So yonder forest waves, and whispers
« Peace;” So never let us part, old friend.
Oft have I stood in Nature's solitudes alone,
Breathless, for God was there ; yet ne'er so Have you been steeped in musk and amber,
blest, Which fops sniff, looking in the glass?
Nor felt so near the footstool of his throne, Or pushed along an ante-chamber,
Nor understood how like to prayer is rest, For swells to sneer at as we pass ?
Rest, in his love, which saith, “Thy way is Throughout all France by faction rent,
best ; Ribbons and stars fell strife can send A field-flower is your ornament;
What is, let that be, Lord; thy will be done.”
WALTER BAXENDALE. So never let us part, old friend.
LYNTON, September, 1880.
Sunday Magazine, Fear no more days of idle ranging,
When our two fates became as one, Of pleasure with pain interchanging,
Of intermingled rain and sun.
I was born in my little shroud,
All woolly warm, and white; Cornhill Magazine.
I live in the mist and the cloud,
I live for my own delight.
I see far beneath me crowd
The Alpine roses red,
And the gentian blue, sun-fed,
A VOICE FROM THE BASTILLE. [The following letter was found after the siege of the
Bastilie in 1789, dated “à la Bastille, 7 Octobre, 1752, and signed “Quéret-Démery" : "If for my consolation Monseigneur would grant me, for tlie sake of God, that I could have news of my dear wife, were it only her name upon a card, to show she is still alive, - it were the greatest consolation I could receive, and I should ever bless Monseigneur." - See Carlyle's “ French Revolution,"
I bloom for the eagle's eye,
I bloom for the daring hand,
*“ The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteous!ess." This poem was sent Ly me, in the autumn of 1878, by the land of the late Mr. James McDonell, to William and Mary Howitt, then living in the Tyrol, and was received' by them with pleasure.
From Fraser's Magazine. silent and so subtle that the mere practi. THE PROPHETIC POWER OF POETRY.
cal man entirely ignores or despises them. BY J. C. SHAIRP.
Mere sentiment, sorsooth! who cares for HAZLITT has somewhere said that sentiment? But let the practical man “ genius is some strong quality in the know, those sentiments he despises are mind, aiming at and bringing out some in human affairs more potent than all the new and striking quality in nature.” The physical inventions he so much venerates. same thought seems to have possessed How these changes of feeling arise, Coleridge when, in the third volume of from what hidden springs they come, who “The Friend,” he labors to reconcile shall say? But that they do come forth Bacon's insistence on observation and ex. and make themselves widely felt, and in periment as the tests of truth with Plato's the end change the whole face of society, equal insistence on the truth of ideas inde- none can doubt. They come, as changes pendent of experience. In the prudens in the weather come, as the sky changes quastio, says Coleridge, which the dis- from bright to dark and from dark to coverer puts to nature, he is unconsciously bright, from causes which we cannot feeling after and anticipating some hidden penetrate, but with effects which all must law of nature; and that he does after it till he finds it is in virtue of some “ The thoughts they had were the par. mysterious kinship between the guess of ents of the deeds they did ; their feelings the discoverer's mind and the operations were the parents of their thoughts.” So of nature.
it always has been and shall be. In the In the physical world we observe that movements of man's being, the first and those guesses of genius which are the deepest thing is the sentiment which posparents of discovery arise in some gifted sesses him, the emotional and moral atmominds, here or there, just when some new sphere which he breathes. The causes invention or discovery is required to carry which ultimately determine what this aton the course of human affairs. The mosphere shall be are too hidden, too mariner's compass, whoever may have manifold and complex, for us to grasp, been its discoverer, was introduced into but among the human agents which proEurope the century before Vasco da Gama duce them none are more powerful than and Columbus undertook their voyages, great poets. Poets are the rulers of and, as it would seem, to enable them to men's spirits more than the philosophers,
Newton wrought out his system whether mental or physical. For the reaof Auxions, and published his “Prin- soned thought of the philosopher appeals cipia,” with its announcement of the law only to the intellect, and does not food of gravitation, at a time when physical the spirit; the great poet touches a deeper inquiry must have remained at a standstill part of us than the mere philosopher ever had these discoveries been withheld. In reaches, for he is a philosopher and somethe last generation James Watt's great thing more a master of thought, but it invention and, within living memory, Rob- is inspired thought, thought filled and ert Stephenson's, appeared, just at the made alive with emotion. He makes his time when society was ready to assume a appeal, not to intellect alone, but to all new phase, but could not have assumed it that part of man's being in which lie the till these discoveries were perfected.
springs of life. But there are other social changes,
If it be true that more impalpable but not less real, more
We live by admiration, hope, and love, subtle but piercing deeper than the physical ones. These last, wrought on the that it is the objects which we admire, iyorld's surface, are visible and tangible, love, hope for, that determine our characand all can appreciate them. But the in- ter, make us what we are — - then it is the visible changes wrought in men's minds, poet, more than any other, who holds the the revolutions in sentiment which dis- key of our most secret being. For it is tinguish one age from another, are so he who, by virtue of inspired insight,
places before us in the most true and at-permanent outstanding forms of what hutractive light the highest things which we man nature is. The Homeric vision of can admire, hope for, love; and this he | Olympus and its immortals, splendid does mainly by unveiling some new truth | though it be, was still but transient. It to men, or, which is the same thing, by so had no root in the deepest seats of human quickening and vivifying old and neg. nature. For even in his own land a time lected truths that he makes them live | came when, in the interest of purer moral.
To do this last luires quite as ity, Plato wished to dethrone Homer's much of prophetic insight as to see new gods. But his delineation of heroes and truths for the first time.
heroines remains true to human feeling This is the poet's liighest office - to be as it exists today. Even Shakespeare, a prophet of new truth, or at least an un- when, in his “ Troilus and Cressida,” he veiler of truths forgotten or hidden from took up those world-old characters and common eyes. There is another function touched them anew, was still constrained which poets fulfil, — that of setting forth to preserve the main outlines as Homer in beautiful form the beauty which all see, had left them. It is this permanent truthor giving to thoughts and sentiments in fulness and consistency in the human which all share beautiful and attractive characters of the Iliad which makes one expression. This last is the poet's artis- believe, in spite of all the critics, that one tic function, and that which some would master hand was at the centre of the work, assign to him as his only one.
and that it performed that which no ag. These two aspects of the poet, the glomeration of bards could ever have prophetic and the artistic, coexist in dif- achieved. ferent proportions in all great poets; in Again, Æschylus and Sophocles were, one the prophetic insight predominates, each in their day, revealers of new and in another the artistic gift. In the case deeper truth to their generation. The of any single poet it may be an interesting Greek world, as it became self-conscious question to determine in what proportions and reflective, had no doubt grown
much he possesses each of these two qualities. in moral light since the time of Homer, But without attempting this I shall now and that light, which their age inherited, only try to show by examples of some of these two poets gathered up and uttered the greatest poets, ancient and modern, in the best form. But, besides this, they that to each has been granted some do- added to it something of their own. In main, of which he is the supreme master; the religion of their poems, though the that to each has been vouchsafed a special mythologic and polytheistic conceptions insight into some aspect of truth, a knowl- of their country are still present, you can edge and a love of some side of life or of perceive the poet's own inner thought disnature not equally revealed to any other; engaging itself from these entanglements, that he has taken this home his heart and rising to the purer and higher idea of and made it his own peculiar possession, the unity of Zeus, the one all-powerful and and then uttered it to the world in a form all-wise ruler of heaven and earth; till in more vivid and more attractive than had Sophocles he stands forth as the “centre ever been done before.
and source " of all truth and righteousTo begin with Homer. merely artistic power, but a true and deep Then, as to the life of man, we see in insight into human nature, which enabled Æschylus and Sophocles the Greek mind him to be the first of bis race, as far as for the first time at work upon those great we know, who saw clearly, and drew with moral problems which at an earlier date firm band, those great types of heroic had engaged the Hebrew mind in the character which have stamped themselves Book of Job. The mystery of suffering, indelibly on the world's imagination. especially the suffering of the guiltless, is Achilles, Ulysses, Nestor, Ajax, Hector, ever present to them. The popular conAndromache, Priam — these, while they | ception held that such innocent suffering are ideal portraits, are at the same time was the mere decree of a dark and un.
moral destiny. Æschylus was not con- to the genius of that practical race.
But tent with this, but taught that when the there is at least one of Rome's poets who innocent man or woman suffers it is be is filled with something like true procause there has been wrong-doing some. phetic fire. On the mind of Lucretius where. He sought to give a moral mean there had dawned two truths, one learned ing to the suffering, by tracing it back to from his own experience, the other from sin, if not in the sufferer himself, at least Greek philosophy; and both of these inin some one of his ancestors. The father spired him with a deep fervor, quite unlike has sinned, the son must suffer. “YBpis anything else to be met with in his counthere has been in some progenitor, årn and try's literature. One truth was the misery ruin fall on his descendants.
and hopelessness of human life around Sopbocles looks on the same spectacle him, as it still clung to the decaying phanof innocent suffering, but carries his in. toms of an outworn mythology, and groped terpretation of it a step farther, and makes its way through darkness with no better it more moral. Prosperity, he shows, is guides than these. The other truth, to the individual not always truly gain, gained from the teaching of Democritus but often proves itself an evil by the and Epicurus, was the vision of the fixed effects it produces on his character. order of the universe, the infinite sweep, Neither is adversity entirely an evil, for the steadfastness, the immutability of its sometimes, though not always, it acts as laws. As he contemplated the stately a refining fire, purifying and elevating the march of these vast, all-embracing uninature of the sufferer. Its effects, at formities, he felt as though he were a least in noble natures, are self-control, man inspired to utter to the world a new prudence, contentment, peace of soul. revelation. And the words in which he Philoctetes, after being ennobled by the does utter it often rise to the earnestness things he had suffered, has his reward and the glow of a prophet. He was, as even here in being made the means of far as I know, the earliest and most eardestroying Troy and then returning home nest expounder in ancient times of that healed and triumphant. Edipus, in his truth which has taken so firm hold of the calm and holy death within the shrine of modern mind. In the full recognition by the Eumenides, and in the honor reserved men of the new truth which he preached, for his memory, finds a recompense for he seemed to himself to see the sole remhis monstrous sufferings and his noble edy for all the ills which crush human endurance. Antigone, though she has no life. earthly reward for her self-sacrifice, yet Again, Virgil, though with him the love passes hence with sure hope — the hope of beauty, as all know, and the artistic that in the life beyond she will find love power of rendering it, are paramount, yet waiting her, with all the loved ones gone laid hold of some new truth which none before.
before him had felt so deeply. No one These few remarks may recall to some had till then conceived so grandly of the who read them some suggestive thoughts growth of Rome's greatness, and the which fell from Professor Jebb in his two high mission with which heaven had concluding lectures on Sophocles, given entrusted her.
And who else among last summer in the hall of New College, ancient poets has felt so deeply and Oxford. And all who desire to follow out expressed so tenderly the pathos of human this subject I gladly refer to the admirable life, or so gathered up and uttered the essay on
"The Theology and Ethics of highest sentiment towards which the Sophocles,” which Mr. Abbot, of Balliol, world's whole history had been tending has recently contributed to the book en sentiment which was the best flower of titled “Hellenica."
the travail of the old world, and which We would not naturally turn to Roman Christianity took up and carried on into literature to find the prophetic element. the new? In these two directions Virgil Speculation and imaginative dreaming, made his own contribution to human prog. whence new thoughts are born, were alien ress.
If any other poet deserves the name of It was nothing short of a new revelaprophet, it is he whose voice was heard tion when Scott turned back men's eyes the earliest in the dawn of modern poetry. on their own past history and national In the “ Divine Comedy,” Dante gave life, and showed them there a field of voice to "all the thoughts and specula- human interest and poetic creation that tions, as well as to the action," of the stir- had long lain neglected. Since the days ring thirteenth century. I suppose that of Shakespeare a veil had been upon it, no age has ever been summed up so fully and Scott removed the veil. Quinet has and melodiously by any, singer. On spoken of the impassable gulf which the Dante's work I cannot do better than age of Louis Quatorze has placed between quote the words
which one of the most mediæval France and the modern time. accomplished of its interpreters has ex- It has parted the literature of France, he pressed his feeling regarding it. Dean says, into two distinct periods, between Church, in his well-known essay on Dante, which no communion is possible. Bos. bas said:
suet, Corneille, Racine, Molière, Voltaire,
owe nothing to the earlier thought of Those who have studied that wonderful France, draw nothing from it. Because poem know its austere yet subduing beauty of this separation Quinet thinks that all they know what force there is in its free and
modern French literature, both prose and earnest yet solemn verse, to strengthen, to tranquillize, to console. It is a small thing poetry, is more real and more fitted to that it has the secret of nature and man; that interpret the modern spirit than if it had a few keen words have opened their eyes to grown continuously. We may well doubt new sights in earth, and sea, and sky; have this, especially whether it has not been taught them new mysteries of sound; have the death of French poetry — the cause made them recognize, in distinct image and why modern France possesses so little thought, fugitive feelings, or their unheeded that seems to us poetry at all. It would expression by look, or gesture, or motion; that seem as if at one time a like calamity it has enriched the public and collective mem threatened English literature. In the ory of society with new instances, never to be lost, of human feelings and fortune ; has earlier part of last century, under the incharmed ear and mind by the music of its fluence of Pope and Bolingbroke, a false stately march, and the variety and complete cosmopolitanism seemed creeping over it, ness of its plan. But, besides this, they know which might have done for our literature how often its seriousness has put to shame what the French wits of the Louis Quatheir triling, its magnanimity their faintheart. torze age did for theirs. But from this we edness, its living energy their indolence, its were saved by that continuity of feeling stern and sad grandeur rebuked low thoughts, and of purpose which liappily governs our its thrilling tenderness overcome sullenness literary not less than our political life. and assuaged distress, its strong faith quelled All through last century the_ancient despair and soothed perplexity, its vast grasp spirit was never wholly dead in England, imparted harmony to the view of clashing and it would have revived. truths.
mense sentiment, that turning back of To review the great poets of our own affection upon the past, was coming country, and consider what new elements doubt it would have come — even if Scoit of thought and sentiment each in his turn had never been born. But he was the imported into the minds of his country- chosen vessel to gather up and concenmen, would be an interesting study, but trate within himself the whole force of one not to be overtaken in a single essay, this retrospective tendency, and to pour if it could be in many.
I shall therefore it in full flood upon the heart of European pass at once to that great outburst of society. More profoundly than any other song which ushered in the dawn of the man or poet he felt the significance of the present century in England, and try to past, brooded over it, was haunted by it, show, somewhat more in detail, some of land in his poems and romances expressed the original and creative impulses which it so broadly, so felicitously, with such the poets of that time let loose upon genial human interest, that even in his society. This I shall do by taking the own lifetime he won the world to feel as examples of two poets of that generation. he did. One among many results of Other poets, their contemporaries, were Scott's work was to turn the tide against not without some touch of the prophetic the illumination, of which Voltaire, Didegift; but the two I shall name have ex- rot, and the whole host of Encyclopædists erted an influence, the one wider, the oth were the high priests. Another result er more deep, and both more distinctly was that he changed men's whole view of healthful, than any of their brethren. history, and of the way in which it should