« 前へ次へ »
Observe, that various states of the soul are in themselves so excellent-and so ready for the reception of virtue—such, for example, as self-command, patience, and steadfastness of purpose—that to the imagination, which conceives not merely what is, but what is possible to be, which can hardly represent to itself the soul so full of powers, without supposition, at the same time, of their noble application, these very powers themselves receive a part of that esteem which is due to them only when they are applied in the service of virtue. Now, may we not, without violence, extend the spirit of this remark to those intellectual powers and dispositions which we are always accustomed to contemplate with a feeling resembling that of moral approbation? They belong to the highest state of the soul; to the exaltation of that spirit, of which the highest exaltation is virtue. How much of that nature, which is indeed moral, must be unfolded in bim, in whom either the creative or meditative powers of the mind have attained to great perfection! They are not, strictly speaking, moral indeed; for they may exist apart from all morality. But they have prepared so many faculties of the whole being to be in harmony with virtue, that we can scarcely regard them without something of the reverence which is justifiable only towards virtue itself.
In respect, then, to these and other similar qualities, there is always one feeling prevalent in the mind. We regard the soul in the excellence of all its highest powers, as that object to which our moral reverence and love are due. But none of its nobler powers can appear to us in great strength, without giving intimation to our thoughts of something beyond what appears to us. That ennobled state of one power appears connected with the ennobled state of the whole being to which it belongs; and our forward admiration awakes to excellence which is dimly apprehended, but not manifested to our eyes.
Is it not in this way, we ask you, that we look upon the highest genius, imaginative or meditative, as kindred to the highest virtue? When we think of Newton in the silence of midnight reading the radiant records of creative wisdom in the sky, and with something of a seraph's soul, enjoying a delight known but to intellect alone, we can.
not but transfer the admiring thoughts with which we have regarded the contemplative philosopher, to what we feel to be the virtue and piety of the man. It is the will of God for which he is searching among the stars of heaven. In the laws which guide those orbs along in their silent beauty, he feels still the presence of the one Great Spirit; so that with the name of Newton are not only associated ideas of vastness and sublimity in our imagination, but thoughts of divine love and mercy in our hearts. Thus every thing low and earthly is dissevered from that majestic name. It rises before us pure and beautiful as a planet ; and we may be almost said to feel our own immortality in the magnificent power bestowed by the Deity upon a child of dust.
So, too, when we think on the highest triumphs of imaginative genius, and see it soaring on its unwearied wings through the stainless ether. The innocence of a yet unfallen spirit, and the bliss of its yet unfaded bowers, as breathed upon us in the song of Milton, seems to consecrate to us that great poet's heart; and we feel the kindred nature of the intellectual and moral spirit of genius and virtue when shown by his sacred power the image of a sinless world, or, mixed with human, celestial shapes,
Crowning the glorious hosts of Paradise.”
Well, there is indeed an exquisite bit of still life! Had we been haranguing vivâ voce, instead of currente calamo, we should have attributed to our oral eloquence that trance of profound repose. Often has it been our lot, by our conversational powers, to set the table on a snore ! The more stirring the theme, the more soporific the sound of our silver voice. Why, the very day after the great public meeting of the citizens of Edinburgh, called by our most gracious Lord Provost, at the requisition of a hundred men, as he wittily said, of all parties—that is to say, ninety-seven Whigs, two Tories tottering on the threshold of Liberalism, and one nondescript, who, by the coarse insults he brutally heaped on “that gray discrowned head," proved that he was of the class of the king-killers —the very night, we say, after that spirit-stirring, soulrousing, man-ennobling assemblage of all most patriotic in the land we live in, did we, in our own house, descant with such overwhelming eloquence on the new French Revolution, as to set the whole audience, men, women, and children, asleep over their tumblers—all except one of the aforesaid Whigs, and one of the aforesaid tottering Tories; and they had the very narrowest escape we ever witnessed, from what might have been a most melancholy accident. For, at the close of a most complicated paragraph about Prince Polignac, the one fell backwards, chair and all, with a tremendous crash on the floor, and the other fell away forwards, chair and all, on the table, to the destruction of much crystal, and the imminent danger of the great jug. Never was there such a revolution ! But look there! In a small spot of stationary sunshine while we have been scribbling in the shade of the sheepfold—Jie Hamish, and Surefoot the shelty, O'Bronte, and Ponto, and Piro, and Basta, all sound asleep! Such has been the power of the breath even of our written metaphysics! If ever they be printed, we pity the poor public. Ourselves even are beginning to be cornatose. Dogs are troubled dreamers—but these four are like the dreamless dead. Horses, too, seem often to be witch-ridden in their sleep. But at this moment Surefoot is stretched more like a stone than a shelty in the land of Nod. As for Hamish, were he to lie so braxy-like by himself on the hill, he would be awakened by the bill of the raven digging into his sockets. We are Morpheus and Orpheus in one incarnation—the very pink of poppy—the true spirit of opium, and of laudanum the concentrated essence.
THE SEASON S.
(Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1830.)
Thank Heaven! Summer and Autumn are both dead and buried at last, and white lie the snow on their graves ! Youth is the season of all sorts of insolence, and therefore we can forgive and forget almost any thing in Spring. He has always been a priviledged personage; and we have no doubt that he played his pranks even in Paradise. To-day, he meets you unexpectedly on the hill-side; and was there ever a face in this world so celestialized by smiles ? All the features are framed of light. Black eyes are beads-blue eyes are diamonds. Gaze, then, into the blue eyes of Spring, and you feel that in the untroubled lustre, there is something more sublime than in the heights of the cloudless heavens, or in the depths of the waveless seas.
More sublime because essentially spiritual. There stands the young Angel, entranced, in the conscious mystery of his own beautiful and blessed being; and the earth which we mortal creatures tread, becomes all at once fit region for the sojourn of the immortal son of the morning. So might some great painter image the first-born of the year, till nations adored the picture. To-morrow you repair, with hermit steps, to the mount of the vision, and,
“ Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,"
Spring clutches you by the hair, with the fingers of frost; blashes a storm of sleet in your face, and finishes, perhaps, by folding you in a winding.sheet of snow, in which you would infallibly perish but for a pocket-pistol of Glenlivet. The day after to-morrow, you behold him— Spring-walking along the firmament, sad but not sullen - mournful, but not miserable-disturbed but not despairing—now coming out towards you in a burst of light —and now fading away from you in a gathering of gloom -even as one might figure in his imagination, a fallen angel. On Thursday, confound you if you know what the devil to make of his Springship. There he is, stripped to the buff-playing at hide-and-seek, hare-and-hound, with a queer crazy crony of his in a fur-cap, swandown waistcoat, and hairy breeches, Lodbrog or Winter. You turn up the whites of your eyes, and the browns of your hands in amazement, till the two, by way of change of pastime, cease their mutual vagaries, and, like a couple of hawks diverting theirselves with an owl, in conclusion buffet you off the premises. You insert the occurrence, with suitable reflections, in your Meteorological Diary, under the head-Spring. On Friday, nothing is seen of you but the blue tip of your nose, for you are confined to bed by rheumatism, and nobody admitted to your sleepless sanctum but your condoling Mawsey. 'Tis a pity. For never since the flood-greened earth, on her first resurrection-morn, laughed around Ararat, spanned was she by such a rainbow! By all that is various and vanishing, the arch seems many miles broad, and many, many miles high, and all creation to be gladly and gloriously gathered together without being crowded plains, woods, villages, towns, hills, and clouds, beneath the path way of Spring, once more an angel-an unfallen angel! While the tinge that trembles into transcendent hues—fading and fluctuating-deepening and dyingnow gone, as if for ever—and now back again in an instant, as if breathing and alive-is felt, during all that wavering visitation, to be of all sights the most evanescent, and yet inspirative of a beauty-born belief, bright as the sun that flung the image on the cloud, —profound as the gloom it illumines——that it shone and is shining there at the bidding of Him who inhabiteth eternity. The grim noon of Saturday, after a moaning morning, and one silent intermediate lour of gravelike stillness, begins to