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allegorical? The waves would close unresistingly over them, though the Faery Queen herself should be submerged. Or the descriptive 4 Windsor Forest and Grongar Hill would disappear, with whole galleries of inferior paintings. Or the witty? In such a tempest even Hudibras would not be rich enough to attract the zeal of the Salvors. Or the moral? Essays on man, with an infinite variety of the “pleasures” of man's intellectual faculties, would sink unwept in the vast whirlpool. There, too, would perish, Lucan, with a long line of heroic cantos, romances in verse, and rhymes—amorous, fantastic, and bacchanalian. But, at whatever cost or hazard, leaves would be snatched, in that universal wreck, from the digressions and interstitial passages of the three great epics of Greece, Italy, and England. The bursts of exultation and agony in the “Agamemnon” would be rescued; with some of the anthologies, and a few of the odes of Anacreon and Horace. There would be a sacred emulation to save, from the all-absorbing flood, “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso;” with the “Odes and Fables of Dryden,” “Henry and Emma,” the “Rape of the Lock,” and “the Epistle to Abelard;” Gray's Bard,” and “Elegy,” Lord Lyttleton's “Monody,” “The Traveller,” “The Deserted Village,” and “The Task,” Mr. Campbell's Shorter Poems, and some of Mr. Wordsworth's Sonnets; while the very spirit of martyrdom would be roused for the preservation of Burns, and the whole Shakspearian theatre; ballads and old songs out of number; much devotional psalmody, and, far above all the rest, the inspired songs of the sweet singer of Israel. No man, says Dr. Johnson, is a hypocrite in his pleasures. At school we learn by heart the De Arte Poetică. At college we are lectured in the poetics. Launched into the wide world, we criticise or write, as it may happen, essays on the sublime and beautiful. But on the lonely sea-shore, or river-bank, or in the evening circle of family faces, or when the hearth glows on the silent chamber round which a man has ranged the chosen companions of his solitary hours, with which of them does he really hold the most frequent and grateful intercourse? Is it not with those who best give utterance to his own feelings, whether gay or mournful; or who best enable him to express the otherwise undefinable emotions of the passing hour? Philosophy is the high privilege of a few, but the affections are the birthright of all. It was an old complaint, that when wisdom lifted up her voice in the streets, none would regard it; but when was the genuine voice of passion ever unheeded? It is the universal language. It is the speech intelligible to every human being, though spoken, with any approach to perfection, by that little company alone, who are from time to time inspired to reveal man to himself, and to sustain and multiply the bonds of the universal brotherhood. It is a language of such power as to reject the aid of ornament, fulfilling its object best when it least strains and taxes the merely intellectual faculties. The
poets, whom men secretly worship, are distinguished from the rest, not only by the art of ennobling common subjects; but by the rarer gift of imparting beauty to common thoughts, interest to common feelings, and dignity to common speech. True genius of this order can never be vulgar, and can, therefore, afford to be homely. It can never be trite, and can, therefore, pass along the beaten paths. What philosophy is there in the wail of Cassandra! in the last dialogue of Hector and Andromache? in Gray’s “Elegy?” or in the Address to “Mary in Heaven?” And yet when did philosophy ever appeal to mankind in a voice equally profound? About fourand-twenty years ago Mr. Wolfe established a great and permanent reputation by half a dozen stanzas. Almost as many centuries have passed since the great poetess of Greece effected a similar triumph with as small an expenditure of words. Was Mr. Wolfe a philosopher, or was Sappho They were simply poets, who could set the indelible impress of genius on what all the world had been feeling and saying before. They knew how to appropriate for ever to themselves a combination of thoughts and feelings, which, except in the combination, have not a trace of novelty, nor the slightest claim to be regarded as original. " In shorter terms, they knew how to write heart language. A large proportion of the material of which the poetry of David, AEschylus, Homer, and Shakspeare is composed, if presented for use to many of our greatest writers in its unwrought and unfashioned state, would infallibly be rejected as common-place, and unworthy of all regard. Our poets must now be philosophers; as Burke has taught all our prose writers, and most of our prosaic speakers to be, at least in effort and desire. Hence it is that so large a part of poetry which is now published is received as worthy of all admiration, but not of much love—is praised in society, and laid aside in solitude—is rewarded by an undisputed celebrity, but not by any heartfelt homage—is heard as the discourse of a superior, but not as the voice of a brother. The diligent students and cultivated admirers of poetry will assign to the author of “Edwin the Fair” a rank second to none of the competitors for the laurel in his own generation. They will celebrate the rich and complex harmony of his metre, the masculine force of his understanding, the wide range of his survey of life and manners, and the profusion with which he can afford to lavish his intellectual resources. The mere lovers of his art will complain, that in the consciousness of his own mental wealth, he forgets the prevailing poverty; that he levies too severe a tribute of attention, and exacts from a thoughtless world meditations more deep, and abstractions more prolonged, than they are able or willing to command. Right or wrong, it is but as the solace of the cares, and as an escape from the lassitude of life. that most men surrender their minds to the fascination of poetry; and they are not dis.
posed to obey the summons to arduous think-, less philosophical, or his philosophy less poing, though proceeding from a stage resplen- ; etical. It is a wish which will be seconded dent with picturesque forms, and resounding by those who revere his wisdom, and delight with the most varied harmonies. They will in his genius; and who, therefore, regret to admit that the author of " Edwin the Fair," anticipate that his labours will hardly be can both judge as a philosopher, and feel as rewarded by an early or an extensive popua poet; but will wish that his poetry had been larity.