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fashions of the world, that of Shakespeare's dramatic characters, when they speak of love is not only offensive to modern ears, but degrading to the sentiment itself-a sentiment which always maintains the most elevated character where the proprieties of life are most scrupulously observed, and the standard of moral feeling is the highest. Yet Shakespeare has left a striking proof that he could reverence this feeling, in the following beautiful stanza.
“Let me not to the marriage of true minds,
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Or bends with the remover to remove.
That looks on tempest and is never shaken:
Whose worth's unknown although its height be taken.
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.”
It would be wholly at variance with nature, were the poet to make his characters speak in tropes and metaphors, with classical allusions, and rounded periods, of the passion whose powerful influence was ihen upon them. No man ever yet could speak or write poetically, for any length of time, of the love he was then experiencing. Thus it is only by occasional touches of feeling that burst upon us in all their genuine intensity, that ihe depth of the sentiment is discovered. Our language may be forcible and affecting, but it is impossible that it should be elaborate when we are feeling acutely; and there is a certain identity with self; an exclusiveness, giving something like sacredness to the sensations which belong to love, that renders an open, full, unsparing exposure of it repulsive, even in the pages of the poet. It is this sacredness, which, above all other things, constitutes the poetry of love. Those who live under its influ
ence possess, so long as that influence lasts, a secret treasure, and often betray by their inadvertent expressions, and by a speaking smile, that they believe themselves to be enjoying an inward source of satisfaction, which their companions know not of. Imagination invests with a peculiar importance and a mysterious charm, all the minutiæ of life, as it is connected with one individual being, and the mind broods over its own private and particular hoard of joy, with a constant watchfulness and jealousy lest the world, that fell spoiler, should break in and pollute, even if it had no inclination or ability to steal.
Under the influence of love, we are suspicious even of ourselves. We shrink from making it the common topic of conversation. It is a feeling which admits of no participation. We would not, if we could, make converts, any farther than our admiration extends ; and as there is no sympathy to be obtained by commuoication, no one at all acquainted with the world, or with the principles of human nature, would ever tell Their love, were it not for their power which this passion possesses to overthrow the rational faculties, to blind perception, and to silence experience, holding he wise man captive in the leading strings of second childhood, and drawing him on from one folly to another, until at last he awakes from his dream, and feels, like the unfortunate bellows-mender, that he is wearing an ass's head. No sooner is the spell dissolved, than he turns upon his fellow-creatures the weapons of ridicule, dipped in the venom of his wounded pride; he laughs the more in order that he may appear to make light of his recent bonds, and thus revenges himself for his own mortification.
Those who are wise enough to profit by the experience of others, learn to keep silence on this theme, but it pervades their thoughts and feelings not the less. It is present with them in the morning when they awake, and in the evening when they scek repose.
It is cradled in the bosom of the scented rose, and rocked
the crested waves of the sea. It speaks to them in the lulling wind, and gushes forth in the fountain of the desert. It is clothed in the golden majesty of the noonday sun, and shrouded in the silver radiance of the moon. It is the soul of their world, the life of their sweet and chosen thoughts, the centre of their existence, which gathers in all their wandering hopes and desires. Here they fix them to one point, and make that the altar upon which all the faculties of the soul pour out their perpetual incense.
Burns, who has written of love more frequently, yet with more simplicity of sweetness than any other of our poets, strikingly illustrates the potency of this sentiment in associating itself with our accustomed amusements and avocations. There was no object in pature which he did not find it possible to compare or contrast with the reigning queen of his affections but the memory of one, above all others he has imě mortalized in strains as touching and poetical, as ever flowed from a faithful recollection, a warm imagination; and a too fond heart.
The lines beginning
“ Thou lingering star with less'ning ray,”
are, or ought to be, too familiar to every reader of tasto and sensibility to need repetition here, as well as those to Highland Mary, equally expressive of ardent and poetical feeling, a feeling which all the rough usages of the world were unable to deprive of its tenderness, and which all the allurements of vice and folly were unable 10 divest of its purity. in glancing over the pages of this genuine bard of nature, we are every moment struck with the particular pathos with which he speaks of love. Read as an instance the following lines, so unlike anything that we meet with in the productions of the present day.
And where in the records of feeling can
we find a more affectionate description of love and poverty contending against each other, than in the following song; the first and last stanza of which I shall quote for the benefit of those who are loo wise to think of love, who are too happy to have ever been compelled to take poverty into their calculations, and who are consequently unacquainted with the fact that both together struggling for mastery over the wishes and the will, create a warfare as fearful and desolating as any which the human heart is capable of enduring.
Moore has done much, perhaps more than any other man was capable of doing, to render this hackneyed theme agreeable to modern tastes, by arraying the idol whose divinity the public had begun to question, in every kind of drapery, graceful and gorgeous, and placing it in every possible variety of light and shadow. Yet throughout the many elegant lines which he has devoted to this subject, there are none which occur to my recollection more poetically simple and touching than these.
" A boat sent forth to sail alone
In the pages of Shelley we find more freshness, and sometimes more pathos. There is a vividness in his thoughts, and in the character of his mind, which we may well believe to have proved too keen and restless for the mortal frame in which his delicate, sensitive, and ethereal spirit was inclosed—too refined for the common purposes of life, too brilliant for reason, and