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laws; if those principal and mother-elements of the world, whereof all things in this lower world are made, should lose the qualities which now they have; if the frame of that heavenly arch erected over our heads should loosen and dissolve itself; if celestial spheres should forget their wonted motions, and by irregular volubility turn themselves any way as it might happen; if the prince of the lights of heaven, which now as a giant doth run his unwearied course, should, as it were, through a languishing faintness, begin to stand and to rest himself; if the moon should wander from her beaten way, the times and seasons of the year blend themselves by disordered and confused mixtures, the winds breathe out their last gasp, the clouds yield no rain, the earth be defeated of heavenly influence, the fruits of the earth pine away, as children at the breasts of their mother, no longer able to yield them relief; what would become of man himself, whom these things do now all serve? See we not plainly, that obedience of creatures unto the Law of Nature is the stay of the whole world ? Not withstanding, with nature it cometh sometimes to pass as with art. Let Phidias have rude and obstinate stuff to carve, though his art do that it should, his work will lack that beauty which otherwise in fitter matter it might have had. He that striketh an instrument with skill, may cause notwithstanding a very unpleasant sound, if the string whereon he striketh chance to be uncapable of harmony. In the matter whereof things natural consist, that of Theophrastus takes place, Πολύ το ουχ υπακούον ουδε δεχόμενον το εύ. Much of it is oftentimes such, as will by no means yield to receive that impression which were best and most perfect. Which defect in the matter of things natural, they who gave themselves to the contemplation of nature amongst the heathen, observed often: but the true original cause thereof, divine malediction, laid for the sin of man upon these creatures, which God had made for the use of man, this being an article of that saving truth which God hath revealed unto his church, was above the reach of their merely natural capacity and understanding. But howsoever, these swervings are now and then incident into the course of nature; nevertheless, so constantly the laws of nature are by natural agents observed, that no man denieth but those things which nature worketh are wrought either always, or for the most part, after one and the same
If bere it be demanded, what this is which keepeth Nature in obedience to her own law, we must have recourse to that higher law, whereof we have already spoken; and because all other laws do thereon depend, from thence we must borrow so much as shall need for brief resolution in this point. Although we are not of opinion therefore, as some are, that Nature in working hath before her certain exemplary draughts or patterns, which subsisting in the bosom of the Highest, and being thence discovered, she fixeth her eye upon them, as travellers by sea upon the pole star of the world, and that according thereunto she guideth her hand to work by imitation : although we rather embrace the oracle of Hippocrates, That each thing, both in small and in great, fulfilleth the task which destiny hath set down. And concerning the manner, they know not, yet is it in show and appearance as of executing and fulfilling the same. What they do, though they did know what they do ; and the truth is, they do not discern the things which they look on: nevertheless, for as much as the works of Nature are no less exact, than if she did both behold and study how to express some absolute shape or mirror always present before her; yea, such her dexterity and skill appeareth, that no intellectual creature in the world were able by capacity to do that which Nature doth without capacity and knowledge; it cannot be, but Nature hath some director of infinite knowledge to guide her in all her ways. Who is the guide of Nature, but only the God of Nature? In him we live, move, and are. Those things which Nature is said to do, are by divine art performed, using Nature as an instrument; nor is there any such art or knowledge divine in Nature herself working, but in the guide of Nature's work. Whereas therefore things natural, which are not in the number of voluntary agents, (for of such only we now speak, and of no other,) do so necessarily observe their certain laws, that as long as they keep those forms which give them their being, they cannot possibly be apt or inclinable to do otherwise than they do; seeing the kinds of their operations are both constantly and exactly framed, according to the several ends for which they serve, they themselves in the mean while, though doing that which is fit, yet knowing neither what they do, nor why; it followeth, that all which they do in this sort, proceedeth originally from some such agent, as knoweth, appointeth, holdeth up, and even actually frameth the same. The manner of this divine efficiency being far above us, we are no more able to conceive by our reason, than creatures unreasonable by their sense are able to apprehend after what manner we dispose and order the course
of our affairs. Only thus much is discerned, that the natural generation and process of all things receiveth order of proceeding from the settled stability of divine understanding. This appointeth unto them their kinds of working; the disposition whereof, in the purity of God's own knowledge and will, is rightly termed by the name of Providence. The same being referred unto the things themselves, here disposed by it, was wont by the Ancients to be called Natural Destiny. That law, the performance whereof we behold in things natural, is as it were an authentical, or an original draught, written in the bosom of God himself; whose Spirit being to execute the same, useth every particular nature, every mere natural agent, only as an instrument created at the beginning and ever since the beginning used to work his own will and pleasure withal. Nature therefore is nothing else but God's instrument. In the course whereof, Dionysius, perceiving some sudden disturbance, is said to have cried out, Aut Deus naturæ patitur, aut mundi machina dissolvitur; either God doth suffer impediment, and is by a greater than himself hindered; or if that be impossible, then hath he determined to make a present dissolution of the world; the execution of that law beginning now to stand still, without which the world cannot stand. This workman, whose servitor Nature is, being in truth but only one, the Heathens imagining to be more, gave him in the sky the name of Jupiter; in the air, the name of Juno; in the water, the name of Neptune; in the earth, the name of Vesta, and sometimes of Ceres; the name of Apollo in the sun; in the moon, name of Diana; the name of Aeolus, and vers other, in the winds; and to conclude, even so many guides of Nature they dreamed of as they saw there were kinds of things natural in the world. These they honoured, as having power to work or cease accordingly as men deserved of them: but unto us, there is one only guide of all agents natural, and he both the Creator and the worker of all in all, alone to be blessed, adored, and honoured by all for ever.
23.—THE GOOD LORD CLIFFORD.
WORDSWORTH. SONG AT THE FEAST OF BROUGHAM CASTLE, UPON THE RESTORATION
OF LORD CLIFFORD, THE SHEPHERD, TO THE ESTATES AND HONOURS OF HIS ANCESTORS.
[The greatest name in the literature of our own age is William Wordsworth. Twenty years ago we should have been sneered at for this opinion ; no one now ventures to doubt its truth, who has outlived the poetical creed of the first Edinburgh Reviewers. Hazlitt, a critic in many respects before his age, writes thus of Wordsworth : He is the most original poet now living, and the one whose writings could the least be spared, for they have no substitute elsewhere. The vulgar do not read them; the learned, who see all things through books, do not understand them; the great despise, the fashionable may ridicule them; but the author has created himself an interest in the heart of the retired and lonely student which can never die.” The tastes of the retired and lonely student have triumphed over the pedantry of the learned and the coldness of the great and fashionable; and by dint of better education, and a familiarity with good models, the class whom Hazlitt calls “the vulgar” do read the poems of the secluded thinker, who has made the earnest cultivation of the highest poetry the one business of his life. We will not say that he has lived to see his reward;—his reward, his own exceeding great reward,” has been in the tranquil but satisfying course of his contemplative life. Content with competence of worldly goods, he has lived apart from the world ;and has at last influenced the world more enduringly than any of his contemporaries, although his power has been slowly won. The secret of Wordsworth's success is his universality—a secret only known to the very highest of human intellects,—the secret of Shakspere.
Mr. Wordsworth was born in 1770. The poet of seventy-seven is still strong in his intellectual and bodily vigour. He is one, that with - blind Mæonides,” and with Milton, might be apostrophized in his own beautiful lines :
Brothers in soul! though distant times
High in the breathless Hall the Minstrel sate,
“ From town to town, from tower to tower,
They came with banner, spear, and shield;