« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
reason, to which the mind cannot sink gently of itself, but to which it must descend by treading the steps of thought. And for the sublime, if we consider what are cares that occupy
the passing day, and how remote is the practice and the course of life from the sources of sublimity, in the soul of man, can it be wondered that there is little existing preparation for a Poet charged with a new mission to extend its kingdom, and to augment and spread its enjoyments ?
Away, then, with the senseless iteration of the word popular, applied to new works in poetry, as there were no test of excellence in this first of the fine arts, but that all men should run after his productions, as if urged by an appetite, or constrained by a spell. The qualities of writing best fitted for eager reception are either such as startle the world into attention by their audacity and extravagance, or they are chiefly of a superficial kind, lying upon the surfaces of manners; or arising out of a selection and arrangement of incidents, by which the mind is kept upon the stretch of curiosity, and the fancy amused without the trouble of thought. But in everything which is to send the soul into herself, to be admonished of her weakness, or to be made conscious of her power; wherever life and nature are described as operated upon by the creative or abstracting virtue of the imagination; wherever the instinctive wisdom of antiquity and her heroic passions, uniting, in the heart of the Poet, with the meditative wisdom of later ages, have produced that accord of sublimated humanity which is at once a history of the remote past and a prophetic annunciation of the remotest future, there the Poet must reconcile himself for a season to few and scattered hearers. Grand thoughts (and Shakspeare must often have sighed over this truth), as they are most naturally and most fitly conceived in solitude, so can they not be brought forth in the midst of plaudits without some violation of their sanctity.— WORDSWORTH. From 1770 to 1850.
SOME OF THE REFORMERS.
CRANMER and his colleagues have been pronounced by our great Puritan poet, "time-serving and halting prelates ;' happily, in one sense, they were so. Wickliffe would have been a man more after Milton's heart; but, “ the wisdom which is from above,” we read, “is gentle ;' and if there be one thing more than another that fixes the attention of sober-minded and considerate men, when contemplating the progress of the Reformation, it is the calmness, the temper, the prudence, the presence of mind, with which Cranmer endeavoured to direct (like a good and guardian angel) the tempest on which he rode; and whilst he felt how much the fierce element was imperatively commissioned to destroy, he never for a moment forgot the still nobler part, how much it was permitted to spare: he steered the ark of his church with wonderful dexterity through a sea of troubles, avoiding the scattered Cyclades, when it is probable that, had his great predecessor been the pilot, he would have run it aground, and left it a wreck.
Wickliffe, as a sincere believer, was naturally vexed at the scandals by which he saw Christ's religion brought into contempt; as a secular churchman and a champion of the seculars, he hated the friars with a cordial hatred, and took pleasure in exposing, if not exaggerating, their covetousness and frauds; as an academician, he could not tolerate their encroachments on the rights and privileges of the universities, and their surreptitious abduction of four-fifths of the students ; as a man of learning, the first of his day, he would give no quarter to monastic ignorance; as a subject of the King of England, he would not allow of a divided allegiance in a Church of England; but whilst he stood up the advocate of these principles, the impetuosity of his temper drove him on to extravagant lengths, and now exhibits him not so much
in the light of a religious reformer as of a religious revolutionist. Perhaps he blinded himself to the necessary consequences of many of his own opinions, and, like Wesley, was carried further, both in himself and in his followers, than he at first meant to go: but assuredly in him, and still more in his school, may be traced the elements of a character destined afterwards to attain to a bad eminence in our history, that of the Puritan; and the various sects which, though not fully fledged till the civil wars, were tumbled forth like bats out of their hiding-places at the first shock of the Reformation, owed their origin perhaps to this vigorous, sincere, but incautious antagonist of the Church of Rome.
When we see him opposing the doctrine of transubstantiation, that fruitful mother of mischief, howbeit wavering, as it should seem, in his own mind, between what was afterwards the “real presence as understood by Luther, and the same as understood by our own church; denying the superiority of the Church of Rome over other churches, and the power of the keys as pertaining to the Pope rather than to any other priest; when we see him maintaining that Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation, and that all have a right to read it for themselves; that pilgrimages and indulgences are vain and unprofitable, the worship of saints unauthorised, and forced vows of celibacy unlawful; above all, when we find him proclaiming though here he does not speak with the emphasis of Luther, who made this article the test of a standing or falling church), that justification comes by faith in Christ alone ; 'we praise the man, for we find him labouring strictly in his vocation, purifying the word of God from many traditions and additions which had made it of less effect, and disabusing the people of dangerous and deadly errors.Blunt's Reformation in England. Died 1855.
AUTOBIOGRAPHIC SKETCHES. MRS. LOVELL was the widow of Mr. Robert Lovell, who had published a volume of poems, in conjunction with Southey, somewhere about the year 1797, under the signatures of “ Bion” and “ Moschus.” This lady, having one only son, did not require any large suite of rooms; and the less so, as her son quitted her at an early age, to pursue a professional education. The house had, therefore, been divided (not by absolute partition, into two distinct apartments, but by an amicable distribution of rooms) between the two families of Coleridge and Southey. Coleridge had a separate study, which was distinguished by nothing except by an organ amongst its furniture, and by a magnificent view from its window (or windows), if that could be considered a distinction in a situation whose local necessities presented you with magnificent objects in whatever direction you might happen to turn your eyes.
In the morning, the two families might live apart; but they met at dinner, and in a common drawing-room; and Southey's library, in both senses of the word (viz., as a room or as a collection of books), was placed at the service of all the ladies alike. However, they did not intrude upon him, except in cases where they wished for a larger receptionroom, or a more interesting place for suggesting the topics of conversation. Interesting this room was, indeed, and in a degree not often rivalled. The library—the collection of books, I mean, which formed the most conspicuous part of its
I furniture within—was in all senses a good one. The books were chiefly English, Spanish, and Portuguese : well-selected, being the great cardinal classics of the three literatures ; fine copies; and decorated externally with a reasonable elegance, so as to make them in harmony with the other embellishments of the room.
This effect was aided by the horizontal arrangement, upon
brackets, of many rare manuscripts—Spanish or Portuguese. Made thus gay within, the room stood in little need of attractions from without. Yet, even upon the gloomiest day of winter, the landscape from the different windows was too permanently commanding in its grandeur, too essentially independent of the seasons, to fail in fascinating the gaze of the coldest and dullest spectator. The lake of Derwentwater in one direction, with its lovely islands- -a lake about nine miles in circuit, and shaped pretty much like a boy's kite; the lake of Bassenthwaite in another; the mountains of Newlands, shaping themselves as pavilions; the gorgeous confusion of Borrowdale, just revealing its sublime chaos through the narrow vista of its gorge : all these objects lay in different angles to the front; whilst the sullen rear, not visible on this side of the house, was closed by the vast and towering masses of Skiddaw and Blencathara—mountains which are rather to be considered as frontier barriers, and chains of hilly ground, cutting the county of Cumberland into great chambers and different climates, than as insulated eminences, so vast is the area which they occupy.
This grand panorama of mountain scenery, so varied, so extensive, and yet having the delightful feeling about it of a deep seclusion and dell-like sequestration from the world— a feeling which, in the midst of so expansive an area, spread out below his windows, could not have been sustained by any barriers less elevated than Skiddaw or Blencathara ; this congregation of hill and lake, so wide, and yet so prisonlike, in its separation from all beyond it, lay for ever under the eyes of Southey. His position, locally (and, in some respects, intellectually), reminded one of Gibbon's. The little town of Keswick and its adjacent lake bore something of the same relation to mighty London, that Lausanne and its lake may be thought to bear towards tumultuous Paris. Southey, like Gibbon, was a miscellaneous scholar ; he, like Gibbon, of vast historical research; he, like Gibbon, signally indus