« PreviousContinue »
flecting the heavens and the earth! And no one knows what the heavens and the earth are, till he has seen them there-for that God made the beavens and the earth we feel from that beautiful revelation-and where feeling is not, knowledge is dead, and a blank the universe. Love is Life. The unloving merely breathe. A single sweet beat of the heart is token of something spiritual that will be with us again in Paradise. « O, bliss and beauty ! are these Our Feelings"-thought we once in a dream_" all circling in the sunshine-fair-plumed in a fight of doves !” The vision kept sailing on the sky-to and fro for our delight-no sound on their wings more than on their breasts—and they melted away in light as if they were composed of light-and in the hush we heard high-up and far-off musicas of an angel's song.
That was a dream of the mysterious night; but now we are broadawake and see no emblematical phantoms, but the mere sights of the common day. But sufficient for the day is the beauty thereof--and it in. spires us with affection for all beneath the skies. Will the whole world, then, promise henceforth to love us—and we will promise henceforth to love the whole world ?
It seems the easiest of all easy things to be kind and good and then it is so pleasant! “ Self-love and social are the same,” beyond all question ; and in that lies the nobility of our nature. The intensest feeling of Self is that of belonging to a brotherhood. All Selves then know they have Duties which are in truth Loves—and Loves are Joys-whether breathed in silence, or uttered in words, or embodied in actions-and if they filled all Life, then all Life would be good-and heaven would be no more than a better earth. And how may all men go to heaven ? By making for them. selves a heaven on earth, and thus preparing their spirits to breathe empyreal air, when they have dropped the dust. And how may they make for themselves a heaven on earth? By building up a happy HOME FOR THE HEART. Much, but not all-oh! not nearly all-is in the Site. But it must be within the precincts of the Holy Ground-and within hearing of the Waters of Life.
Pleasures of Imagination I Pleasures of Memory! Pleasures of Hope! All three most delightful Poems-yet all the Thoughts and all the Feelings that inspired them-etherealized-will not make-Faith! “ The day-spring from on high hath visited us !" Blessed is he who feels the beauty and the glory of that one line-nor need his heart die within him, were a voice to be heard at midnight saying—“ This New-Year's Day shall be thy last !”
Singing ? One voice-one young voice-all by its sweet, sad, solitary self, singing a Christmas Hymn! Listening to that music is like looking at the sky with all its stars! Was it a Spirit ?
" Millions of spiritual creatures walk unseen,
Hymning their great Creator." But that singer, like ourselves, is mortal; and in that thought, to our hearts, lies the pathos of her prayers. The angels, veiling their faces with their wings, sing, in their bliss, hallelujahs round the throne of heaven; but she, a poor child of clay, with her face veiled but with the shades of humility and contrition, while
“Some natural tears slie drops, but wipes them soon,”sings, in her sorrow, supplications to be suffered to see afar-off its everlasting gates-opening not surely for her own sake-for all of woman born are sinful-and even she-in what love calls her innocence_feels that her fallen being does of itself deserve but to die! The hymn is fading and fading away, liker and liker an echo, and our spirit having lost it in the distance returns back holier to the heart-hush of Home!
Again ! and with the voice of a lute, “ One of old Scotland's songs so sad and slow !” Her heart is now blamelessly with things of earth. “ Sad and slow !" and most purely sweet! Almost mournful although it be, it breathes of happiness--for the joy dearest to the soul has ever a faint tinge of grief! O innocent enchantress! thou encirclest us with wavering haze of beautiful imagery, by the spell of that voice awaking after a mood of awe, but for thy own delight. From the long dim tracts of the past come strangely-blended recognitions of woe and bliss, undistinguishable now to our own heart-nor knows that heart if it be a dream of imagination or of memory. Yet why should we wonder? In our happiest hours there may have been something in common with our most sorrowful-some shade of sadness cast over them by a passing cloud, that now allies them in retrospect with the sombre spirit of grief; and in our unhappiest hours there may have been gleams of gladness, that seem now to give the return the calm character of peace! Do not all thoughts and feelings, almost all events, seem to resemble each other-when they are dreamt of as all past? All receive a sort of sanctification in the stillness of the time that has gone by-just like the human beings whom they adorned or degraded-when they too are at last buried together in the bosom of the same earth.
We are all of us getting old—or older ; nor would we, for our own parts -if we could-renew our youth. Methinks the river of life is nobler as it nears the sea. The young are dancing in their skiffs on the pellucid shallows near the source on the Sacred Mountains of the Golden East. They whose lot it is to be in their prime, are dropping down the longer and wider reaches, that seem wheeling by with their silvan amphitheatres, as if the beauty were moving mornwards, while the voyagers are stationary among the shadows, or slowly descending the stream to meet the meridian day. Many forget
“ The torrent's smoothness ere it dash below !” and are lost in the roaring whirlpool. Under Providence we see ourselves on the river expanded into a sea-like lake, or arm of the sea-and for all our soul has escaped and suffered, we look up to the stars in gratitudeand down to the stars—for the water too is full of stars as well as the sky
-faint and dim indeed—but blended, by the pervading spirit of beauty, with the brighter and bolder luminaries reposing on infinitude!
And may we even have a thought now of the labours of our leisure-of but small avail perhaps for others' instruction or delight, yet blameless at least -and not altogether without a salutary influence on our own life, thus sometimes saved from “thoughts that make the heart sink,” and to our own imagination enveloped in no unlovely light-such as from clear or clouded moon sleeps quietly or fitfully on a river seeming subdued by the radiance, and forgetful of all its own native noise. Maga surely is no ungentle Being—and her countenance at this moment wears something of the sweetness of Calypso's smile. We have begun again, you see, to turn over the leaves of old Homer. Yet we confess it is with sadness-for Sotheby, the accomplished, the kind, the good, and the venerable, is dead-and at the thought
“ Drops a sad serious tear upon our playful pen.” Our commentaries on the Iliad were approved by him the noblest of all its translators-his praise was far pleasanter to us than ours could be to bim -and shall be treasured up among our most friendly remembrances of the gifted spirits with whom we have held converse here below, and who have now gone to their reward. In the lliad, Homer's genius was said by Longinus to resemble the rising-in the Odyssey, the setting sun. And the image is as true as it is magnificent; for who can say–when lost in gazing on the luminary-or thinking of him in the East or in the West, in which season and which region he is the more beautiful and sublime ? It is gratifying to us to know that along with us thousands have studied Homer
who, being no Greek scholars, had read him before with unaroused spi. rits. Nor have we not been cheered by the commendations of not a few of the most illustrious in classical literature in all the land. Fair fields lie yet before us, and we shall take many a travel yet through the god-haunted regions of old heroic Greece. The Greek Drama! And from the high passions kindling or expiring there, we shall find sweet relief among the shepherds of Sicily-and with Theocritus list to them piping among the rocks all a summer's day.
Some of our friends seem to think that our articles on the Greek Anthology are at an end—but it is not so ; and like a flush of flowers they will be seen brightening the banks and braes of Spring. Thanks in thousands to our numberless contributors won by the novel beauty of those lovely little poems; But oh! would they but in their kindness think how impossible 'tis for us to return upon our steps, however rich the region, when so many sweetest spots are wooing us to their untrodden dews! Let them precede us as guides through the yet un visited scenery before us—if they will--or accompany us as new companions ; but pleasant as are their presents, we fear we cannot accept them, when composed of the same flowers we ourselves have gathered, and have woven into many a garland of no transient bloom. Wbat has become-it has been asked by many-of our promised papers upon Spencer? We have feared to enter the haunts of Faëry, and have remained long sitting on the edge of the Wood of Wonders. Erelong we shall venture in; but have you not been charmed with the Hindu Drama ? And remember though the world of poetry is bound. less, not so our Numbers, and that our promises must wait their accomplishment in the fulness of time, which they continue to brighten as it sails by on dusky wings. Now and then a few of the feeble—nay, one or two of the strong-long to persuade themselves that sometimes our articles are - too long ! So, no doubt, thinks a wren or a tom-tit, perched between an eagle's wings, as in high far flight he soars the sky or sweeps the sea. But there lies the secret of our success; avail yourselves of it all ye who can; but never could we have gained the ascendency it is universally acknowledged we possess over so many strong monthly competitors, and so swayed the mind of our country, but by such putting forth of our own power and that of our noble coadjutors, without whom we could not have won and worn the crown; and by the same means by which we have ascended our throne will we keep it—and seated firmly there, look gra. ciously around us upon the flourishing Republic of Letters.
January - , 1834,)
Printed by Ballantyne and Company, Purl's Work, Canongate.
The Liberty of the Press is like the ced and bigoted as we are thought air we breathe—if we have it not to be, and enthralled beyond rewe die. The Whigs have long laid demption, we appeal to our bitterest exclusive claim to the privilege of foes, if ever once, during his career, vindicating that noble sentiment- Christopher North has expressed and how often on festal anniver- pleasure in the punishment of his saries and commemorations have political opponents by fine and im. wide walls and lofty roofs re- prisonment, or on any occasion, dia echoed the cheers that drowned the rectly or indirectly, recommended closing peroration of some speech it? worthy of modern Cicero or De. It has been our lot to enjoy mosthenes, “ his arm extending more liberty of life than millions Jike immortal Jove, when guilt of our more deserving brethren; brings down the thunder.” We and we should be miserable to think Tories--slaves, forsooth, as we were, that we had ever shewn ingratitude as well as tyrants—dared not suffer to heaven by striving to abridge in such sentiment to escape our lips; others the greatest of all blessings nay, we denied it access to our - without some portion of which, inhearts, that would have been all deed, life itself must be a burden. too narrow for its reception; and But all liberty is not liberty of the sought to fortify our usurped Press. There must first be liberty power over opinion, by imposing of thought, which is impossible in fetters on its greatest instrument, heads unenlightened by education; which, if left free, would have dash- and there must be liberty of feeling, ed us to the ground, and destroyed which is impossible in hearts tyranour empiry for ever. Such has long nized over by the passions. Perfect been the language made use of liberty of life may well be in a land against us by our enemies; some. where that which alone is called times perhaps not altogether without by foolish people the Liberty of the truth-but generally with entire and Press is unknown; for there may conscious falsehood. The Conser- be thousands of the best books there, vatives are not now at least seeking and there they may be daily perused to shackle the Press; they are not by the people; wbile in countries shewing any bymptoms of fear or where it is known, and thought to hatred of that magnificent engine; flourish, the worst kind of ignorance they are neither themselves abusing, may be prevalent-that half-glimmer nor wishing others to abuse it; and and half-gloom, through which nofor our own humble selves, prejudi- thing is seen distinctly, and all ob
VOL. XXXY, NO, CCXIX,
jects seem either increased far be. that prosecuted what they thought yond, or diminished far below, their sedition or treason at the commencereal magnitude--so that men's minds ment of the revolutionary war, behave no true and steadfast know- lieved that the existence of the moledge, and keep perpetually fluctu. narchy was threatened; whether right ating on a sea of troubles. So moved, or wrong in the measures they pur. the National Will loses all its power sued to quell the danger, they were and all its grandeur; and its disturb. sincere; nor are they accused by any ed and uncertain movements, obey. but a few stray idiots, of having ing no moral and intellectual laws, purposely caused the danger, and cannot be for good.
instigated to crime the wretches But to seek to control it by exter. whom they sought afterwards to nal force-by menace or infliction punish. They were not revoluis a' vain thought at all times and tionists turning round on revolu, in all places-especially so now and tioniste--and dooming their followhere - for knowledge henceforth ers to imprisonment, expatriation, or must be the stability of the State. death. The Whigs in those days Some protecting enactments there were all for the liberty of the Press; must be against popular fury; but and every man who suffered by the the war of words is like the war of law for his political sins, whether waves and winds, that will soon de- they were in words or in acts, was stroy ill-constructed and injudicious. a “ great patriot-hero, ill-requily placed embankments, but waste ted chief," --for the truth a martyr. their wildness along even low and With many of the sentiments of level shores, with a gentle places, the few noble and high-minded bosoms, nooks, and bays” provided men of that party, we never were, by gracious nature, while science nor are we now, unable or unwiland art assist her working for peace, ling to sympathize; we abhor the and build up defences that the tides suppression, by mere power of the themselves obey, mounds that time law, even of the pernicious exercise strengthens as their “ feet beat back of evil thought; and would far ra. the ocean's foamy surge.”
ther wither wickedness by the lightTrue liberty is by nature calm. nings launched against it by IntelShe is not surely at all times like lect, the Prime Minister of Patriot“ loud-throated war.” “ Agitate! ism, than confine it by the lock and Agitate! Agitate !” that may be in- key of the Jailer, or cut it down by deed a good war-cry-but society the axe, or strangle it by the cord of cannot be in a sane state, when all the Executioner. men are battling-even, as they may But though we have always loved think, for the right for that is not the Liberty of the Press of the the temper of Intellect -- which, Periodical and Political Press-we while it can “ ride on the whirlwind have never felt that it was so essenand direct the storm," knows that tial to our existence as the air we its best region is a region of peace. breathed - or that without it we Worst of all when Intellect comes to should have died. We do not indeed enjoy the tumult and turmoil which doubt that we should soon expire in it has itself created, and lives rather an exbausted air-receiver ; but milto be a destroyer and a puller down lions of human beings, as good or than a guardian and a builder-up; better than ourselves, have lived to when it scorns its natural and happy old age, and been happy beneath the office of restoration and renovation, skies, and not under a Whig governand keeps open the wounds it has ment. Nay, the Whigs themselves torn open, rather than deal gently bare not died when deprived of the with them, and “ with a hand of air they breathed, and which they healing."
averred was necessary to their very The conduct of any Government existence ; but have kept bawling that punishes people for the public with lusty lungs, as if they would cation of political opinions can be live to all eternity, against Tory Mijustified or condemned but on a nistries, that, according to them, bad right understanding of the danger of not only corrupted, but annibilated, the times-and of the share which the said vital air; and now that they that Government may have had in have become “ angels and ministers creating it. The Tory Governments, of grace" themselves, they find that