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"a glorious apparition." The Rhapsody on Love, and Damon and Musidora, are still according to him, its chief attractions—its false ornaments—and its sentimental commonplaces—such as those, we presume, on the benefits of early rising, and,
“Oh! little think the gay licentious proud !"
What a nest of ninnies must all man and womankind be in Mr. Wordsworth's eyes !-And is the “ Excursion” to be placed by the side of “ Paradise Lost,” only during the Millennium ?
Such is the reasoning! of one of the first of our living (or dead) English poets, against not only the people of Britain, but mankind. One other sentence there is which we had forgotten-but now remember—which is to help us to distinguish, in the case of the reception the “ Seasons” met with, between “wonder and legitimate admiration !" • The subject of the work is, the changes produced in the appearances of nature, by the revolution of the year; and, undertaking to write in verse, Thomson pledged himself to treat his subject as became a poet!" How original and profound! Thomson redeemed his pledge, and that great pawnbroker, the public, returned to him his poem at the end of a year and a day. Now, what is the " mighty stream of tendency" of that remark? Were the public, or the people, or the world, gulled by this unheard-of pledge of Thomson, to regard his work with that “ wonder which is the natural product of ignorance ?" If they were so in his case, why not in every other? All poets pledge themselves to be poetical, but too many of them are wretchedly prosaic—die and are buried, or, what is worse, protract a miserable existence, in spite of the sentimental commonplaces, false ornaments, and a vicious style. But Thomson, in spite of all these, leapt at once into a glorious life, and a still more glorious immortality.
There is no mystery in the matter-Thomson-a great poet-poured his genius over a subject of universal interest and the “ Seasons" from that hour to this then, now, and for ever-have been, are, and will be, loved and
admired by all the world. Mr. Wordsworth ought to know that all over Scotland, “ The Seasons" is an household-book. Let the taste and feelings shown by the Collectors of Elegant Extracts be poor as possible, yet Thomson's countrymen, high and low, rich and poor, have all along not only gloried in his illustrious fame, but have made a very manual of his great work. It lies in many thousand cottages. We have ourselves seen it in the shepherd's shieling, and in the woodsman's bowersmall, yellow-leaved, tatter'd, mean, miserable, calf-skinbound, smoked, stinking copies—let us not fear to utter the word, ugly but true-yet perused, pored, and pondered over by those humble dwellers, by the winter-ingle or on the summer brae, perhaps with as enlightened certainly with as imagination-overmastering a delightas ever enchained the spirits of the high-born and highly taught to their splendid copies lying on richly carved tables, and bound in crimson silk or velvet, in which the genius of painting strove to embody that of poetry, and the printer's art to lend its beauty to the very shape of the words in which the bard's immortal spirit was enshrined. “ The art of seeing” has flourished for many centuries in Scotland. Men, women, and children, all look up to her loveful blue or wrathful black skies, with a weather-wis. dom that keeps growing from the cradle to the grave. Say not that 'tis alone
“ The poor Indian, whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, and hears him in the wind !" In scriptural language, loftier even than that, the same imagery is applied to the sights seen by the true believer. Who is it “that maketh the clouds his chariot ?" The Scottish peasantry_Highland and Lowland-look much and often on nature thus; and of nature they live in the heart of the knowledge and the religion. Therefore do they love Thomson as an inspired bard-only a little lower than the Prophets. In like manner have the people of Scotland from time immemorial-enjoyed the use of their ears.
Even persons somewhat hard of hearing, are not deaf to her waterfalls. In the sublime invocation to Winter, which we have quoted-we hear Thomson recording his own worship of nature in his boyish days, when he roamed among the hills of his father's parish, far away from the manse. In those strange and stormy delights did not thousands of thousands of the Scottish boyhood familiarly live among the mists and snows? Of all that number he alone had the genius to "here eternize on earth" his joy-but many millions have had souls to join religiously in the hymns he chanted! Yea, his native land, with one mighty voice, has, nearly for a century, responded,
SONG - WRITING.
(Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1839.)
How many, we would ask, of the poets of the present day, have proposed to themselves any model of exalted beauty, to which, in their works, they have longed and laboured to conform; any radiant image of the first fair, finished and faultless in all its parts and proportions, that has robbed them of their rest, and haunted them in their dreams, still attracting them to a nearer contemplation of its excellence, and animating them to some effort by which they might gratify in themselves, and in some degree communicate to others, the love and delight with which it has filled their souls ? How many of them even have dwelt with humbler admiration on the reflection of that primary excellence presented in the compositions of time-honoured genius, and have attempted to produce on their own age and country, and with themes of their own choice, analogous if not similar effects to those which have for ever embalmed the memory and influence of their classic prototypes? How many of our poets have asked of themselves with a heartfelt and assiduous importunity
6. What shall I do to be for ever known,
How many have answered the inquiry by the exclamation
“Hence all the flattering vanities that lay
Nets of roses in my way;
And all that is not above fate !"
How many again have been actuated by the still nobler feeling, that the gift of poetry was bestowed upon them as a divine instrument for doing good, as much as for imparting pleasure, to their species, and that of this talent, as of every other, the God who gave it would demand a strict account?
But a few, we suspect, of those who have in our day desired or attained a poetical reputation, could lay claim to feelings or motives such as we have described. Yet, without some of these sources of inspiration, and, perhaps, more particularly without the highest and rarest that we have named, we do not believe that genuine poetical excellence, or lasting poetical fame, can possibly be achieved.
We know not the precise nature of the devotional sentiment that prompted the Pagan poet when he said
“Me vero primum dulces ante omnia Musæ,
But the sentiment, however shadowy, that he was the servant and priest of the virgin daughters of Jove, must, amidst all the errors of heathenism, have supported the sweetest and stateliest of poets in his noble aspirations after piety and wisdom-after the beautiful and the good. In the days of Christianity the poetical office is not less than ever a sacred ministry; and poets are an anointed priesthood, who have still holier and higher truths to proclaim, and feelings to infuse, than even the imagination that led Æneas into Hades could conjecture or comprehend. While living in a clearer light, and under a purer dispensation, it is still to us a virtual truth, that poetry is a virgin daughter of heaven, whose service can only be well and worthily performed by those who remember the sacredness of her origin, and the benevolence of her errand to the earth,