Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

work. There are others of whom the poses, with an air of the jauntiest reverse is true. They are Torsos— kindliness, the relaxation of a farce, a trunks and arms, but no heads. They masquerade, or a stroll in a green field. have quick apprehension and ready On this earth, where men so often wanvigour; but in the higher movements deramid graves and charnel houses, and of the spirit are confused, inert, hospitals, wrapped in funeral mantlescrippled. The business of life for each or stand upon the lonely stormy ridges, is to supply what each wants ; to sentinels armed for fight-he skips strengthen the deep roots for the nou- along with a Jew's harp, and a smell. rishment of the apparent and excessive ing bottle, as if these were divine prebranches; and to take care that the servatives, Moly and Hæmony, against hidden and imperishable root shall all sense of ill and danger. Say to struggle forth into the production of him that, after all his quips and gentle. adequate stem and boughs, leaves, nesses, a living foot of blood and bone blossoms, and fruit. So each may must have something firmer than cobmurmur peacefully in the breeze, and webs pearled with dew to stand upon, calmly shade the soil; and each shall and must spurn those who would deny wave amid the storms with the roar of it any better support, and he is not inall its awakened being — brows, and dignant—he is too soft and sweet a a mantled head, dark with mysterious thing for that - but fretted and hurt umbrage, propped upon an unshaken with a sense of undeserved wrong, and and columnar stem.

is unhappy till he has accomplished a 30.

formal reconciliation, to be celebrated Lies are the ghosts of truths—the with a hecatomb of sugar plums. masks of faces.

In support of his filagree and tinsel 31.

fancies, Dulcidius has no lack of ar. Dulcidius is an extreme example of guments, which sound plausible and a kind of man not uncommon in an specious, and bubble over with ingeage like ours, of hectic, flatulent sym- nuity and prettiness. But his reasonpathies, and præter human humanities. ings buzz and twinkle like summer He shuts his eyes to all that annoy flies, and after all, leave each of them him, or would, if noticed, annoy him, only a puny speck of dirt behind. in the existence of mankind ; and you would not one fancy that he is some

! can work him no sorer injury than to wealthy fop, who has never known say or do any thing which disturbs his the pressure of difficulty ? Yet he has waking dream. If men are not ex. had his pains and crosses ; has lost an empt from labours and sorrows, yet, arm and an eye; and with a face in his eyes, they ought to be ; and we seamed with heavy wrinkles, and a must cheat ourselves and others with head of snow-white hair, he goes prathe pleasant delusion that it really is ting, and quirking, and simmering, and so ; and must forget the miseries flaunting away in all the good-humourwhich we cannot altogether escape ed vacancy of a milliner's girl in the from. In face of the gravest calami- midst of her shreds and gauzes, or a ties and toils he turns away his head doating country barber with bis soapwith a wink and smirk, as if to let froth and gossip. What stern hard us know that he is in the secret, and fierceness, what fantastic bigotry would that these horrors are but empty bug- be as melancholy and repulsive as the bears to frighten children. With a sight of this dreary baseless levity, harlequin's leap, and a clown's grin, and tawdry benevolence ! he whisks out of the throng, and press, So says the high and pure, but and fierce contention; and chirps, or somewhat narrow and haughty mochatters that if people would only ralist. But is there not another side stand still, or lounge about and sip to the question? In a world where sugar and water, all evils under the there are grains of dust as well as sun would disappear. If men stare mountains, and where the thistle-down with blank consternation at the spot of hangs upon the oak, may there not be a shipwreck or a massacre, he tries to room for weak and trivial men beside draw off their attention, and raise their the noblest and most earnest? A fool spirits with a puppet-show, or a penny with cap and bells may jingle away trumpet. And, to one wrestling in his life at the elbow of Rome-crowned the agonies of conscience, or nerved Charlemagne. There are doubtless for severe and heroic effort, he pro- hours of desperate conflict for the

[ocr errors]

ness.

gravest interests of mankind, when doubtless, was mourning for a son, the slight and empty spirits are neces- perhaps for his crimes. But I felt sarily trampled down like sparrows' that to me sublime religion and pereggshells, or swept away like spar- fect art were nothing while I saw so rows' feathers, by the holy will of the close to me a living genuine misery. hero and the prophet. The chaff must

33. fly when the storm blows; and the The forests of utterance, with all frogs of the pool, when its waters red- their rustling raving seas of leaves, den with blood of men, are squelched grow out of the deep and silent soil, unpitied under the hoofs of the war- the immeasurably deep boundlessly borses. So be it, for it must be so. silent bosom of old earth. Yet the But in quiet times, and the long inter. living utterances are better than the spaces of history, there is leave and sublime silence; but for which also license for the growth of weeds, and they could not be. weedlike creatures, which also have

34. their use.

For this weed is an old If men's reason were laid to sleep, woman's remedy, and that a child's no doubt they would do by instinct plaything. The idle creepers grow many more than as at present of the up round the grey stone effigy for a things to which instinct is equal. The century; but when the hour comes, instinctive powers are lost sight of and the figure feels new life, and wakes under the presence of the rational and starts, and flashes out with eyes consciousness, as the stars disappear in and sword, it snaps the fettering sunshine. Hence we may explain growth like worsted threads, and they some of the startling ingenuities of perish rightfully. But while the poor savages. But the delights and capaand puffed-up worthlessness of our cities of the conscious spirit, instinct neighbour does no more harm than never can supply. For instinct is inoffend our more serious thoughts, or telligence incapable of self-consciousjar on our sensitive retiredness, it is justice to pardon him, and charity to

35. endeavour to feel with him, and help Whatever has been seen of Fair and him on.

Fireflies are not stars, but Excellent was first conceived in the neither are they mere nothings. We sacred darkness of the Unseen. But cannot steer by them, we must not because vitally, irrepressibly, fair and worship them; but we need not crush excellent, therefore, must it needs them. The smallest, paltriest human go forth, and so be seen in its true creature may have pains and conflicts beauty. to maintain himself, even in his small

36. paltriness, equal for him to the inward It is not a part, small or great, but strivings of a Luther or a Shakspeare. the very whole of a man's work, ha32.

ving within himself (as all have) a There are looks and gestures of world of dusky unembodied greatness, quiet, unheard of women, a house- to bring this to utterance, first within keeper, a governess, a sodden washer- his heart, clearly, honestly, and therewoman, and of men as commonplace fore, as must needs be, slowly; and as any whom Holborn, or Manches. next at ripe seasons, and with due preter, or May Fair generates, in which cautions, by bold unconquerable flama thoughtful eye will read tragedies to ing mouth and deed outwardly to utter draw deeper, bitterer tears than Shak- it. His utterance must be this thing, speare's Othello, Goethe's Tasso, or and no other which he has truly inti. all the woes of Euripides. I have mately found within himself. Often stood in a group of peasants before this cannot to himself be altogether a painted crucifixion, and there were clear and evident till he has begun to looks of sympathy which mine per- impart it. And thus as the whole haps reflected. But I heard a hard race of man is still but individual man, beavy breathing behind me, and turn- multiplied and completed, so all human ing, I saw a woman who had brought history is but the striving towards full her sorrows thither, not found them and mature utterance of that dark and there. She stood with dull and heavy seething reality which lies hidden and eyes beholding the painted grief of the more or less turbulent in every breast. Holy Virgin Mother. I never knew But as the true utterance of all the what was her calamity. She too, truth is the work and consummation of

[ocr errors]

man's life, so the false utterance of the nent gripe of one long tenacious finger, true, or the true utterance of the false, which does not relax when the flesh is, in one form or other, the whole of fingers fall loose in weariness or sleep; what is ruinous, chaotic, execrable. and it thus displays and exemplifies

Further, it is manifest that at the the uniting power inherent in men's highest point to which man can reach spirits. But as these physical tools there will always be something beyond can work only with the palpable and him, higher, larger, holier, which he visible, and the spirit has another world cannot yet utter, and can only yearn of its own, neither to be touched nor towards and apprehend. This is ne. seen by means of the bodily senses, cessarily the greatest of all greatnesses, there must, in this inner and better which he,—not as yet knows, but region, be kindred operations in which knows of, forebodes, dreamingly the powers that the material images clutches. To hurry headlong towards manifest and apply, work for themthe expression of this which lies as selves and without tools. Thus to yet altogether inexpressible, profanes separate by mental scission is to dis. and mars the divine work, with regard tinguish ; to tie or lash together, is, in to it now the only divine work possi- the region of mere thought, to combine ble, of learning, feeling, embracing, notions or conceptions by an act of not apprehending, but comprehending fancy ; and to list is, in the language it. Unseasonable idle speech, and such of oracles, to raise an object out of upon this matter all must be, scares dark and flat confusion into clear and and irritates the plastic gods, the high individual existence ; that is, to realize working powers in all ; for whom the it for the mind. Now, in proportion universe and our lives are a pliant as men use many and complete tools, material, and with whom our will is, at they are advanced in mechanical civil. its best, a patient and devout fellow- isation. But their higher spiritual culworker and learner. Hence the mean- ture has been forwarded only in the ing and sanctity of silence. But that degree in which they have learnt the same mute mysterious developement, true laws and aims of these inward which may be going on for years, and powers, which are at once the maindecads of years, in any one soul, and springs and the archetypes of all our for ages on ages in the soul of man, instruments. comi's out at last to inevitable utter

38. ance; and the word of some one heart If man be a reality, no empty vision expresses for a thousand years after in the dreaming soul of nature, but, as hin the feeling of countless millions. who shall doubt he is, inwardly subThus do we find that the utterance of stantial and personal, that which he truth out of the infinite into the heart most earnestly desires, which best saof man makes his real inward story; tisfies his whole being, must be real too. and the utterance of the same out of his

39. heart into the world is all his outward Only by an act of arbitrary self-will work and duty.

dare we fancy that we belong to a 37.

system founded on the arbitrary selfAll the instruments that men employ will of any being, however superior to are so many symbols, and, as it were, us in power. materializations of corresponding fa

40. culties; as the works which, by means The fundamental affirmation of all of these instruments, we perform, are reasonable and, therefore, of all right expressions of our analogous tenden- religion, the highest of truths revealed cies, affections, and wants. The knife to man, is this, that the infinite, eternot only divides all separable sub- nal, and absolute Being, wills all good, stances, but exhibits, and, as it were, and only good, and that by good is prolongs into the outermost region of meant not merely whatever we may things about us that dividing faculty dare to fancy that he might choose to of which the rending hands are in. will, but that which suits the wants, termediate agents. So the lever, and completes, in the fullest form, the that is, lifter, embodies and applies existence of all other beings. Every our inward capacity of elevating, and doctrine opposed to this is superstitious consummates the work of our arms fanaticism or blasphemous scoffing. and shoulders. The rope which knots

41. two things together is but the perma- That men would be better than they are if they always chose good instead but the little that a man could learn, of evil is evident. But that they would fancy, and feign of the life of a man. be better, or indeed could have a ra- How far is this excelled by the all that tional existence, if they had not the the life of a man—of every man—is ! power of choosing evil instead of good,

48. is the most foulish and presumptuous It is no uncommon mistake to supof fancies.

pose that exaggeration is essential or 42.

at least proper to fiction. The truth You may indeed add sugar to vine- is rather the reverse. A principal use gar, but cannot make it wine again. and justification of fiction is to reduce 43.

and harmonize the seeming exaggeraA man without earnestness is a tions of real life. mournful and perplexing spectacle.

49. But it is a consolation to believe, as Facts are often extravagant and we must of any such a one, that he is monstrous, because we do not know in the most effectual and compulsive the whole system which explains and of all sekools ; not only with the sad legitimises them. But none bave any sublimity of the stars above him, and business in fiction which are not intelthe haggard yet ever teeming earth ligible parts of the artificial whole that beneath his feet, graves, houses, and they appear in. temples around him, and the voices of

50. hatred and pain, love and devotion, Religion, conscience, affection, law, sounding in his ears, but also with a science, poetry, including the kindred heart, however weak and dull, essen- arts, are for ever rectifying the disortially capable of feeling and under- ders and miseries of mankind. But standing the meaning of all these the mode in which the poetic art does things. He is at worst a boy, slow this is by presenting a mankind, a at learning to read, and thinking more world of its own, in which good and of toys and cakes than of books, but evil, true and false, fair and ugly, harassuredly neither an idiot, nor incu. monious and discordant, and all such rably deaf, blind, and dumb. He is analogous pairs of contrasts, are horrid and disastrous to look upon as mingled by just and intelligible prinwe pass him by, but most when we see ciples of combination, and point to him coloured by the crimson glare of their own solution—not indeed a soluour own passionate vehemence. Every tion always for the understanding, but step forward which we really make, always one adequate for the feelings, gives us a new mysterious power to and purifying and exalting them. draw him too on.

51. 44.

Faith in a better than that which Voltaire thought he was looking appears, is no less required by art through a handsome French window than by religion. at God and the universe, and painting

52. pictures of them, while in truth the The three great perversions of eduglass was a mirror, and he saw and cation are those which tend to make copied only his own scoffing face. children respectively-Dwarfs— Mon45.

keys-Puppets. The Dwarfs are the The religion of all Pagans, indis. prodigies, the over-sharpened, overcriminately, has often been written of excited, over-accomplished, stunted by zealous Christians in the worst In these, as there is no fulness spirit of Paine and Voltaire.

and steadiness, such as belong only to 46.

mature life, and yet there is the apWhether is it nobler to dwell in pearance of these, the very principle Paradise and dream of a cabbage-gar- of the thing is a quackery and falseden, or to live among pot-herbs and hood. The Monkeys are the spoilt ; believe in Paradise ?

the indulged petted creatures of mere 47.

self-will and appetite, in whom the Seldom does a truly divine poet human as distinguished from the aniarise and teach all the poor toiling mal is faint and undeveloped. The men in the land how far nobler an weakness of mind which trains such epic is the life of every one of them— children, and delights in them, is that did he but know it-than that of the which led the ladies of another geneimaginary Ulysses. The Odyssee is ration to keep natural and genuine

men.

apes for their amusement. The Pup- poses, he thus frustrates and dislopets are produced by the plan of dead- cates. ening, petrifying the mind, teaching

56. words by rote, compelling obedience All France, under Louis XIV., was for its own sake, and not for that of a beaten and bribed into courtiership. future moral freedom. These are the Poetry, Law, Theology, all wore courtthings that move in public only as the suits, and smoothed themselves into wires of masters and committees guide. flatterers and liars. The Muses beBut, because the life cannot be alto- came maids of honour, and stage-con. gether crushed and turned back, it as- fidants to royal mistresses ; Religion serts itself secretly in a sense of be. was only permitted to appear masked numbed misery and corroding hatred. in the abhorred disguise of a state The first class spoken of are those in chaplain, or a gold-laced trumpeter of whom a true ideal is misapplied. The sovereign worthlessness; and Truth second, those in whom none is aimed and Conscience, in the meanwhile, at. The third, those in whom the were fasting at Port-Royal, pining in ideal pursued is altogether false and the Bastile, fighting in the Cevennes, wretched.

or emigrating to Spitalfields. Honesty 53.

could not have where to lay its head, Speech is as a pump by which we when Falsehood, Cruelty, and insane raise and pour out the water from the Vanity had for their lacqueys and great lake of Thought—whither it pimps Racine, Bossuet, and Molière. flows back again.

The Regent Orleans was but Louis 54.

XIV. in undress and half-intoxicated, There is a kind of social civilisation and Louis XV. the same type, drunk which rounds the rough and broken to stupidity. But while the family was stones into smooth shapeliness, but sinking from generation to generation also into monotonous uniformity. into utter lethargy, the nation was There is also a farther and better kind awakening from its sleep, till rising which again roughens the pebbles, not, and finding itself starved, bruised, and however, to reproduce their former shackled, it burst the remaining bonds, rude diversities, but to engrave them and strangled for ever the corpse-like with divine heads and figures and sig. royalty which it found lying beside it. nificant mottoes.

57. 55.

Life of any kind is a confounding When we see the place to which mystery; nay, that which we comsome natural Reality is degraded by monly do not call life, the principle of the hands of man,-the stately tree to existence in a stone or a drop of wabe a dead wayside post, the fierce and ter, is an inscrutable wonder. That fleet wild ass of the desert to be a bro. in the infinity of time and space any ken and starved drudge, we cannot thing should be, should have a distinct but reflect that this wreck was once existence, should be more than nogreat and goodly, and possessed a thing! The thought of an immense wondrous inward endowment of inde- abysmal Nothing is awful, only less pendent life and power, was born out so than that of all and God; and of the eternal Infinite into the sad and thus a grain of sand being a fact, a narrow round of Time, where men, reality, rises before us into something its fellow-denizens of Time, have thus prodigious, immeasurable-a fact that crushed and ruined it. But poor as is opposes and counterbalances the im. the place and function of each living mensity of non-existence. And if this thing which men enchain and use, be so, what a thing is the life of man, when thus no longer existing for and which not only is, but knows that it by itself, yet the human order of ex- is ; and not only is wondrous, but istence, with all its wants and contri. wonders! vances, is an immeasurably higher

58. one than any of these systems to which The beauty of physical Nature the weaker, meaner beings of earth strikes us with an immediate impresoriginally belong. In this superiority sion of harmony and completeness. of Man's destiny and rights lies the There is also a sense of harmony, the justification of his subjecting to his result of reflection engaged on scienown purposes that which, for its pur- tific truth; and there is a livelier and

a

a

« AnteriorContinuar »