Abbildungen der Seite

people become an integral part of their But the maintenance of such a conexistence, when moulded into being tinued uniformity seems to be neither by their spirit. They are all that is in our power, nor according to the durable of that existence. How are course of nature. Rather there seems they unimportant if they survive to an adaptation for continual progresbind together, by venerating love, sive change; and it would appear that brotherhoods of men, who are separate by such change only can the greatest ed by the interspace of ages?

good of mankind, or of any nation be But if the genius and cliaracter of a attained. It may be said that we hold people be thus highly derived, is there our welfare under a double law-subno corresponding importance to our- jected, in part, to those from whom selves of our own participation in that we descend-in part free, and deriving character? and what are the means the good of our existence from ourwe possess for augmenting its power selves. As far as we are subjected, over ourselves? We know that the the law of our life would bind us to character and genius of a people are at continual unchanging uniformity. As all times their most important inheric far as we are free, having the meatance from their ancestors. Whatever sure of good in our own intelligence, energies, whatever virtues, whatever it leaves us open, and, indeed, conticapacities and means of happiness we nually solicits us to change, inasmuch possess, are but in part our own, in as the possible or imaginable good greater part they are received by us which lies before us unpossessed, is from those whose offspring we are. always great, as well as that which we But of the importance of those ener- possess and enjoy. It must be the gies, virtues, capacities, there is no wisdom of life, it would appear, duly question ; they are indeed our posses- to combine our subjection and our in-. sion of life, the natural powers that dependence, the principle of stability determine to us the good of existence and the principle of change. It is to The obligation therefore which each be desired that the living generation mind owes to the society from which should derive as much as possible of it is sprung, its connexion with that good from those which have preceded, society, its derivation from it of good, without being so far subjected to them is in kind and degree not appreciable. as to lose the good which is open to it To the genius, the character of those to acquire. But it ought not, in successive generations to which we eagerness for acquisition of its own, to succeed, we owe OURSELVES. It may forego the good which may be inheritbe a question of some interest how far ed. In what manner this difficult it may be in our power to heighten combination may be affected, is a disthe beneficial influence which derives tinct question. But it is important to us from those preceding us; rather towards affecting it, that the danger of what power there may be in ourselves deviation either way be distinctly unto determine the degree of the benefit derstood. Among ourselves, the tenwe will receive.

dency of deviation seems to be towards If our derivation of power, sensibi- too great relaxation of the subjection lity, and virtue, be from others, it may of our minds to the great generations seem evident that the derivation will from which we spring; and it appears, be greatest the nearer we approach, in on that account, of more need to urge character of mind, to those from whom the consequences of that deviation. we inherit. The quality we derive It seems of necessity, if we hold at will be transfused in more vigour the all in our hands the courses of our more nearly our whole temper of own minds, the prospects of our own mind, and all that influences it, our welfare, that we should understand whole frame of life approaches to the how much of our welfare, or of that temper and life of those from whose character in which our welfare is deminds it issues to us. It is known termined, depends on our adherence to accordingly, that the most powerful the spirit and life of our forefathers. derivation of character, from age to To possess and to enjoy life as it arises age, is among those nations, whose before us, is not all that is required of simple forms of life, and purity from us. We must look reflectingly, not on foreign intercourse, maintain the near- ourselves merely, but on generations est a continual uniformity of the state that have preceded us. We must and disposition of the people.

know, from thoughtful examination, VOL. IV.

3 B

what there is great, good, beautiful, ture is subjected to conditions of life, that has descended to us in their line, who, in his sensibilities, his knowand which it is in our power to possess ledge, his productions, is under reor to forego; and once enlightened to straint and limitation of his individual an intelligent love and veneration of nature, and of his place among manthat excellence in any kind, which has kind. What it requires for its most been in such transmission tendered to perfect energy, is, that its free and our acceptance, it only remains for us, ideal intelligence and conception should so far as the moulding of our minds is be blended in the highest degree with in our own hands, to frame them to its individual constitution or character. that excellence we love and admire. He who, in consciousness of the powers But that is the less difficult, because that are discovered to him in his manlove and admiration do of themselves, hood, slights and foregoes the sensibiby their own strong affection, produce lities of his earlier life, rejects the best in the mind the qualities on which they half of his power; and he who, in the fix their impassioned contemplation. pride of his own age, believes himself

It would be interesting to consider independent of the ages to which he in what way the derivation of good succeeds, shuts out from himself the from one generation to another, in highest influences under which it was the ordinary course of nature, is ef- given to his mind to live. To each fected. Indeed, without such a con- nation—to each individual, there is sideration, even much at large, all the given peculiar good. That is their fepreceding observations and suggestions licity, Sua si bona "nôrint. To intelof argument must be very imperfectly lectual genius there is given its own intelligible. Yet it is itself an argue discernment of the nature and qualiment of far too great extent to be ties of things. merely involved in the discussion of He who belongs to a people of other questions. It would be curious thoughtful moral spirit, will, by his and important in such an inquiry, if place among them, possess peculiar there were here room to enter upon it, moral insight. He lives in a world to observe in things of the greatest and which to many is unrevealed ; and if the least magnitude the same deriva- his subtle and searching intellectif tion; to behold it in the great national his mighty and creative soul delight virtues and powers by which a people itself in such knowledge in such imsubsists, and to trace it in its minuter agination, he derives a power to himcurrents, in the smaller pleasures of self out of the blood from which he life, and the subtlest play of intellect. springs, which he could have found in The question that has been brought no other sphere of thought. Is his forward, more or less, in all that has work in vain? or does he exalt and been said above" of the influence prolong to his people that moral upon a people of adherence in the pro- thought which he has embodied in ductions of genius in the arts, to the most beautiful and unperishing forms? character of preceding times,”-holds If the people of a country are endowed somewhat of a middle place of import- with peculiar sensibility to the beautiance amongst such topics. What be- ful face of existenee; if their exquilongs to virtues of public action-what site sense apprehends, with a delight belongs to the virtues of domestic life, known only to themselves, the beauty is far greater. These are the great with which shape and colour have insubstantial parts of our inheritance, vested all living and insensate things, with the loss of which we forfeit our- and the harmonies that breathe in selves. But connected with these, and sound, shall genius, by intellectual participating even in their importance, pride, separate itself from the lot of its is the character which genius main- people, refuse the bounty of nature, tains in the works it brings forth to and imagine to itself sources of power adorn and delight a country.

opened up to it in its own bosom The human intellect, searching life, alone? It cannot shake off the nature nature, and itself, and re-moulding in which it lives; it cannot hold its what it has seen into forms of its own, power in independence of the bounty is not an unfettered intelligence, rang- that nourished it up. Not the syming through absolute existence, and pathy alone of the people for whom it creating ideal form. It is the power exists, requires of it the recognition of a being who in all parts of his na, and acceptance of their own common

being ; but the maintenance of its own hard to tell in words how intellect can power speaks the same dictate. The carry over its severe energy into the sensibilities which were opened up in forms and colours of the pencil; yet the life of its childhood, are those of those who have looked with underthe whole nation. The numberless, standing eyes on the shapes which unfathomable springs of delight which sprang from Michael Angelo's stern well up through its whole nature, and and giant thought, on the dim and sefrom which are the impulses of living rious hues which shadow out the energy that feed and animate its power, workings of Pousin's studious mind, were all unlocked by the touches of they know well that intellect will delight which struck in earliest years bring out upon these materials its own on those native sensibilities. Let him impress, that it can find in them fit dread lest those springs subside into matter for its own labours, and require their own silent depths, if the power of others minds energy, toil, and exbe withdrawn which first solicited altation of thought kindred to its own, them to play. In those sensibilities rejecting from the circle of its sympahe has possessed his power. Can he thy all those who approach unprepared tell what that power may become with to the contemplation of its works. out them? Let the Italian painter Who would wish an Indian philosodare to trust to his magic pencil, not pher, if the iron age of India can yet his fame alone, but his power over the teem with the sacred birth, to found minds of his people. Has he himself his speculations of wisdom on the almost a moral will, or intellectual aspiration? material logic of Hartley or Locke? or To these his art shall find a way. who would counsel her poets to arrest From nature he shall acquire her own the sympathy of their countrymen solemn spells; from the face of earth by spreading before them in vivid picand sky, from the wondrous universe, ture, the burning strife, and angry tuhe shall take those aspects of things, mult of ordinary mortal life? This those mighty scenes, by which the may be philosophy to our intelligence, spirit of nature holds dominion over and poetry to our imagination. But the human soul. He shall not use a India has hid her spirit of thought in skill of vain delight; but, true to invisible worlds, and held her power highest purposes, he shall seize, by in the spiritual being of man. There mysterious powers, the imaginations of is the strength she still offers to her men, and through their imagination sons: the powers with which she shall bind their hearts. Unknown to broods over the continual arisings of themselves, covering his moral end, in their life. Wo to the degenerate son the beauty of his genius, he shall woo who should sever himself from her them by delight from the lower bent ancient might! She has darkened of their frailer nature, and draw them truth, and said heavy oppression upon over to rejoice and to dwell in higher groaning life. But if ever her teacher sensibilities, and in more solemn of truth shall arise, let him speak to thought. As nature herself gives no her in the might of her own spirit-in tongue to her most dread admonitions, the voice of her own tongue. If the as her sweet persuasive influences fall avenger of prostrate life should ever silently on the heart; so genius, in the lift up her head into liberty, let him hour of its dominion, has no need to remember the ages of the past, and declare the end for which it works. give her strength which her nature can It fulfils its own spirit, and trusts the embrace, and powers in which her consequences to the might of that na- spirit can walk! Alas! our civilizature, for, and with which it humbly tion, our knowledge, wars with her uses its own frail instruments and spirit; and subjugated as her strength feeble skill. It is scarcely to be doubt- is by our arms, her ancient mind will ed, that genius thus working will not perhaps, be yet more prostrate under only find itself richest in its own power, the ascendancy of our conquering intelbut will most powerfully infuse its lect. own virtue into other hearts. It is


Hushed were the tones of mirthful revelry,
Stayed were the music and the dance, as tell
On Croydon's Gothic towers and battlements,
The shades of dreary midnight. In the hall
The hearth's brands were decaying ; but a flame
Lambently lighted up the vaulted roof,
And circling walls, where antlers branehing wide,
And forehead skins of elk and deer were seen,
And fox's brush; the trophies of the chase;
And warriors cloaks depending, and the gleam
Of burnished armour.-

In her chamber, one
Sleepless alone remained, where all was still ;
Reclining on a couch, and dreaming o'er
The thoughts—the happy scenes of other years ;
And, with a sweet, seraphic countenance,
Shining in beauty and in solitude,
Like morning's rosy star, when from the sky
Her sisters have in silence disappeared.
Sorrowful Emma! were not thine of yore
Thoughts of unrest, and mournful countenance !
But sparkling eyes, that matched unclouded heaven
In their deep azure ; and carnationed cheeks,
Round which the snow-drops like a halo spread ;
And an elastic footstep, like the nymph
Health, when in very wantonness of play,
She brushes from the green the dews of morn.

And why, wrapt up in cloak of eider-down,
Chilling thy beauty in the midnight air,
Breathing, in solitude, the deep-drawn sigh,
Con'st thou, unheard of all, the love-born tale,
The tale of hapless lovers, soft and sad;
And why, when all is still, and balmy sleep
Should seal the weary eyelids, dost thou sit
Mournfully beside the lattice, and attend
To the hollow murmurs of the distant sea,
Which fitfully, upon the passing gale
Break in, and die away?.

The winter's breath
Destroys the bloomy flowers—the ocean tide
Is governed by the moon; and, for thy grief,
Although unmarked by all, there is a cause !

And she hath laid her down, and silently, As Retrospection wandered through the past, Have her chaste eyelids closed ; and, in her dream, Lo! forests darken round with gloomy boughs, And wolves are heard to howl; around her path The forky lightnings flash; and deeply loud, The thunders roll amid the blackening skies. Anon her steps have gained a precipice Above the roaring sea, where, waste and wild, The foamy billows chafe among the rocks The rocks whose sable heads, at intervals, Are seen and disappear. Awfully dark Night's shadows brood around; but, in the flash Of the blue arrowy lightnings, far away A vessel is descried upon the deep ;

[ocr errors]

While moaning sounds are heard, and dismal shrieks
O'er the tempestuous billows breaking loud;
Until its stormy fury vented forth,
And the winds hushed to silence and to rest,
And the bright stars appearing, and the clouds
Breaking away, like armies from the field
When battle's clangor ceases,--she beholds,
Pallid beneath a cliff, the form of him,
Her chosen hero, bleached by wave and wind,
Unconscious of the seamew with a shriek
Hovering around-the victim of the storm!

Anon the vision changes ; armies throng
The arid fields of Palestine afar,
And, glittering in the setting sun, she sees
The Moorish crescent over Salem's walls,
The Infidel victorious, and the hosts
Of baffled Christendom dispersed: she sees
Disasters and defeat the lot of those,
Who, 'neath Godfredo's banner, daring, left
On perilous enterprise their native shore.-
The battle's voice hath ceased; the trumpet's note
Hath died upon the west-wind; bird and beast,
From mountain cliff on high, and woody dell,
Lured by the scent of blood, have come to gorge
On the unburied dead. Rider and horse,
The lofty and the low, commingled, lie
Unbreathing, and the balmy evening gale
Fitfully lifts the feathers on the crest
Of one, who slumbers with his vizor 'up !

Starting she wakes; and, o'er the eastern bill,
Lo! beautiful the radiant morn appears,
And, thro' the lattice, steadily streams in
The flood of crimson light; while, sitting there
Upon the outward ivy wreath, in joy
Happy the robin sings; his lucid tones
Of harmony delight her listening ear,
Dispel the gathered sadness of her heart,
And, tell her that her fears are but a dream.

But hark !. why sounded is the warder's horn?-
Doth danger threaten, or do foes approach ?-
The guard are at their station; and, she hears
The ring of brazen arms, as anxious there
The soldiers, girding on their swords, draw up;
The bugle's sound of peace is faintly heard,
Mournfully pleasing, in a dying strain,
Melodious-melancholy-far away!
An answer is returned; heavily down
Sinks the huge drawbridge and the iron tramp
Of steeds is heard fast-crossing. Joy to her,
To long forsaken Emma, joy to her!-
Obscured by tempests dark, and brooding storms,
The sun may wander through the sky unseen
The livelong day; until, above the tops
Of the steep western mountains, forth he glows,
Glorious, the centre of a crimson flood,
In brightness unapproachable : so oft
The span of human life is measured out:
Sorrow and care, companions of our steps,
Hover around us, blotting out the hopes
We long had cherished ; banishing the bliss

« ZurückWeiter »