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sembles the most excellent things, which all have this rainbow character, defying all attempts at appropriation and use. What else did Jean Paul Richter signify, when he said to music, “Away! away ! thou speakest to me of things which in all my endless life I have found not, and shall not find.” The same fact may be observed in every work of
the plastic arts. The statue is them beautiful, when it begins to be incomprehensible, when it
is passing out of criticism, and can no longer be
defined by compass and measuring wand, but
demands an active imagination to go with it,
and to say what it is in the act of doing. The god or hero of the sculptor is always represented in a transition from that which is representable to the senses, to that which is not. Then first it ceases to be a stone. The same remark holds of painting. And of poetry, the success is not attained when it lulls and satisfies, but when it astonishes and fires us with new endeavours after the unattainable. Concerning it, Landor inquires, “whether it is not to be referred to some purer state of sensation and existence.’ So must it be with personal beauty, which love worships. Then first is it charming and itself, when it dissatisfies us with any end ; when it becomes a story without an end; when it suggests gleams and visions, and not earthly satisfactions; when it seems ‘too bright and good For human nature's daily food;’
when it makes the beholder feel his unworthiness; when he cannot feel his right to it, though he were Caesar; he cannot feel more right to it than to the firmament and the splendours of a Sunset.
Hence arose the saying, “If I love you, what is that to you?” We say so, because we feel that what we love is not in your will, but above it. It is the radiance of you, and not you. It is that which you know not in yourself, and can never know.
This agrees well with that high philosophy of Beauty which the ancient writers delighted in ; for they said, that the soul of man, embodied here on earth, went roaming up and down in quest of that other world of its own, out of which it came into this, but was soon stupified by the light of the natural sun, and unable to see any other objects than those of this world, which are but shadows of real things. Therefore the Deity sends the glory of youth before the soul, that it may avail itself of beautiful bodies as aids to its recollection of the celestial good and fair; and the man beholding such a person in the female sex, runs to her, and finds the highest joy in contemplating the form, movement, and intelligence of this person, because it suggests to him the presence of that which indeed is within the beauty, and the cause of the beauty. If, however, from too much conversing with material objects, the soul was gross, and misplaced its satisfaction in the body, it reaped nothing but sorrow; body being unable to fulfil the promise which beauty holds out; but if, accepting the hint of these visions and suggestions which beauty makes to his mind, the soul passes through the body, and falls to admire strokes of character, and the lovers contemplate one another in their discourses and their actions, then they pass to the true palace of Beauty, more and more inflame their love of it, and by this love extinguishing the base affection, as the sun puts out the fire by shining on the hearth, they become pure and hallowed. By conversation with that which is in itself excellent, magnanimous, lowly, and just, the lover comes to a warmer love of these nobilities, and a quicker apprehension of them. Then he passes from loving them in one, to loving them in all; and so is the one beautiful soul only the door through which he enters to the society of all
true and pure souls. In the particular society of his mate he attains a clearer sight of any spot, any taint, which her beauty has contracted from this world, and is able to point it out, and this with mutual joy that they are now able without offence to indicate blemishes and hinderances in each other, and give to each all help and comfort in curing the same. And, beholding in many souls the traits of the divine beauty, and separating in each soul that which is divine from the taint which they have contracted in the world, the lover ascends ever to the highest beauty, to the love and knowledge of the Divinity, by steps on this ladder of created souls. Somewhat like this have the truly wise told us of love in all ages. The doctrine is not old, nor is it new. If Plato, Plutarch, and Apuleius, taught it, so have Petrarch, Angelo, and Milton. It awaits a truer unfolding, in opposition and rebuke to that subterranean prudence which presides at marriages with words that take hold of the upper world, whilst one eye is etermally boring down into the cellar, so that its gravest discourse has ever a slight savour of hams and powdering-tubs. Worst, when the snout of this sensualism intrudes into the education of young women, and withers the hope and affection of human nature, by teaching that marriage signifies nothing but a housewife's thrift, and that woman's life has no other aim. But this dream of love, though beautiful, is only one scene in our play. In the procession of the soul from within outward, it enlarges its circles ever, like the pebble thrown into the pond, or the light proceeding from an orb. The rays of the soul alight first on things nearest, on every utensil and toy, on nurses and domestics, on the house and yard and passengers, on the circle of household acquaintance, on politics, and geography, and history. But by the necessity of our constitution, things are ever grouping themselves according to higher or more interior laws. Neighbourhood, size, numbers, habits, persons, lose by degrees their power over us. Cause and effect, real affinities, the longing for harmony between the soul and the circumstance, the high progressive idealising instinct, these predominate later, and ever the step backward from the higher to the lower relations is impossible. Thus even love, which is the deification of persons, must become more impersonal every day. Of this at first it gives no hint. Little think the youth and maiden who are glancing at each other across crowded rooms, with eyes so full of mutual intelligence,—of the precious fruit long hereafter to proceed from this new, quite exter