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of the moral sentiment. He describes his own ideal, when he paints in Timæus a god leading things from disorder into order. He kindled a fire so truly in the centre, that we see the sphere illuminated, and can distinguish poles, equator, and lines of latitude, every arc and node : a theory so averaged, so modulated that you would say, the winds of ages had swept through this rhythmic structure, and not that it was the brief extempore blotting of one short-lived scribe. Hence it has happened that a very well-marked class of souls, namely, those who delight in giving a spiritual, that is, an ethico-intellectual expression to every truth, by exhibiting an ulterior end which is yet legitimate to it, are said to Platonize. Thus, Michel Angelo is a Platonist, in his sonnets. Shakespeare is a Platonist, when he writes, “ Nature is made better by no mean, but nature makes that mean," or,
• He that can endure
And earns a place in the story." Hamlet is a pure Platonist, and 't is the magnitude only of Shakespeare's proper genius that hinders him from being classed as the most eminent of this school. Swedenborg, throughout his prose poem of “Conjugal Love,” is a Platonist.
His subtlety commended him to men of thought. The secret of his popular success is the moral aim, which endeared him to mankind. “ Intellect,” he said, “is king of heaven and of earth”; but, in Plato, intellect is always moral. His writings have also the sempiternal youth of poetry. For their arguments, most of them, might have been couched in sonnets : and poetry has never soared higher than in the Timæus and the Phædrus. As the poet, too, he is only contemplative. He did not, like Pythagoras, break himself with an institution. All his painting in the Republic must be esteemed mythical, with intent to bring out, sometimes in violent colors, his thought. You cannot institute, without peril of charlatanism.
It was a high scheme, his absolute privilege for the best, (which, to make emphatic, he expressed by community of women,) as the premium which he would set on grandeur. There shall be exempts of two kinds : first, those who by demerit have put themselves below protection, — outlaws; and secondly, those who by eminence of nature and desert are out of the reach of your rewards : let such be free of the city, and above the law. We confide them to themselves; let them do
with us as they will
. Let none presume to measure the irregularities of Michel Angelo and Socrates by village scales.
In his eighth book of the Republic, he throws a little mathematical dust in our eyes. I am sorry to see him, after such noble superiorities, permitting the lie to governors. Plato plays Providence a little with the baser sort, as people allow themselves with their dogs and cats.
SWEDENBORG; OR, THE MYSTIC.
MONG eminent persons, those who are most dear to
men are not of the class which the economist calls producers : they have nothing in their hands; they have not cultivated corn, nor made bread; they have not led out a colony, nor invented a loom. A higher class, in the estimation and love of this city-building, market-going race of mankind, are the poets who, from the intellectual kingdom, feed the thought and imagination with ideas and pictures which raise men out of the world of corn and money, and console them for the short-comings of the day, and the meanness of labor and traffic. Then, also, the philosopher has his value, who flatters the intellect of this laborer, by engaging him with subtleties which instruct him in new faculties. Others may build cities; he is to understand them, and keep them in awe. But there is a class who lead us into another region, the world of morals, or of will. What is singular about this region of thought, is its claim. Wherever the sentiment of right comes in, it takes precedence of everything else. For other things, I make poetry of them ; bụt the moral sentiment makes poetry of me.
I have sometimes thought that he would render the greatest service to modern criticism, who shall draw the line of relation that subsists between Shakespeare and Swedenborg. The human mind stands ever in perplexity, demanding intellect, demanding sanctity, impatient equally of each without the other. The reconciler has not yet appeared. If we tire of the saints, Shakespeare is our city of refuge. Yet the instincts presently teach, that the problem of essence must take precedence of all others, — the questions of Whence? What? and Whither ? and the solution of these must be in a life, and not in a book. A drama or poem is a proximate or oblique reply ;