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with human character familiar to us all, and claim our attention through the universality of those elements of our nature, which they clothe in the beautiful garments of their inventive fancy. And what can science do here? It can never explain away the freedom of the human will, can never show us to be systematic pieces of mechanism, who are living voluntary agents, and, accordingly, the portraiture of man, with all his passions and wilfulness, his nobleness and sin, his joys and sorrows, his speculative thought and ardent sympathy, will remain for ever, and among all people, a subject of deep interest and profound study and while the poet is penetrating the mysterious veil of the soul by a quick perception and ready experience, he may display his characters so completely in the true light of nature, as to leave no apprehension upon the reader's understanding of the mysteries which he grasps and rules and though he is really treading in a land, the rise and growth of which he cannot possibly explain, still it cannot be called a land unknown, being, as it is, one which he has so carefully and so fully surveyed, though by means which he himself cannot comprehend. And, again, were the theory true that mystery must be the companion or nurse of poetry, the omniscient Creator, the great Пoinτns of the Universe, could claim no such title at all; and indeed, according to some, He is but a wondrous mechanician of surpassing science, who performs His great works by availing Himself of His perfect knowledge of the properties which He has Himself invented. We, however, are wont to look upon His creations as produced at the same moment, and by the same spontaneous exercise of volition, with which their coherent properties are first conceived. We are wont to regard the Deity as the great and sublime poet; for what is the bright vision of this earth's beauty but the glorious realization of His grand imaginative thought? and what are His diviner works-the spirits of heroes and of saints, but the expression of His pure desire and wakeful affection? what the great ideal of humanity himself, but the fulness of the Deity's conception and the offspring of His perfect love? And yet there can be no mystery with God. Poetry, therefore, which would seem to be, in all its higher phases, the expression of affections through the medium of imagination, may con

cern itself with things intelligible and familiar, that lie immediately within the region of experience: it does not necessarily require the aid of mystery; and yet we freely confess, that the noblest strains of man are those in which he rises above the actual and demonstrable to the invisible and unknown.

Now because poetry and mystery are perceived to be often closely bound together, therefore it has been alleged that the ancients only (Homer and Hesiod, e. g.) could indulge their imaginations with full freedom and success ;that they could sing of the dusky air and the pure ether, as we cannot do, who are taught to think of the atmosphere as an elastic fluid, composed for the most part of nitrogen and oxygen, in the proportion of 79 to 21: that Horace or Virgil could celebrate with effect the wandering moon or stormy winds, a task impossible for us to undertake with advantage, who know all about them, since we are able to predict and explain the eclipses of the former and even to describe its interior, and to account for the incursions and changes of the latter by the processes of rarefaction and condensation. But surely if the poet can no longer indulge his fancy upon these themes,-in picturing, e. g., the earth's real shape and limits (now discovered), or in conceiving brilliant theories about the stars, and their relative positions, and modes and periods of revolution, his eye is but opened to a vaster region of the infinite mysteries around him, which the discovery of nature's secrets but enables him more keenly to discern. The old bards looked on earth and man with eyes unenlightened by the now explored wonders of creation, and the constantly increasing revelations to the wakeful soul, with which our modern poets must be familiar. The position from which inspired men of former times looked out upon the world, was certainly one girt closely with thick clouds and dense mists, which we may say have now been swept away; but if those clouds and mists once precluded the possibility of man's perceiving the law and system of the universe (unfavourable to poetry), of which we of the present day have become conscious, they also must have disabled him from perceiving, or even surmising, the power and grandeur of creation, and the vast infinitude of that realm of mystery beneath which he stood. The region of the unknown

being boundless, the changing of the point of sight of different generations can but alter the quality of their wonder and observations, and leave them still but as insect-spirits on the ocean's verge. Indeed, so far are we from thinking that there is any truth in the idea that there is less room for poetry now than formerly, that we entertain a strong and vivid hope, nay a lively trust, that the coming ages will give to the world strains of inspiration such as Homer never sung, nor Dante wrote, nor Milton dictated in his most rapt and elevated hour. The more that man discovers thoughtfully, the more does he become conscious of the height, and breadth, and depth of being, through which no eye or penetrating mind can measure the infinitude of Deity. The further the ages bear us, the more light that is poured upon us from the growing past, just so much the more is the mind lifted up by cultivation and refinement, reading, and study and expanding wisdom, to see the smallness of visible realities, and the immensity of the unsearchable dwelling-place of God. It is assuredly the narrow and material mind that sees in the increase of our learned expositions of the congruities and consistencies and possible scheme of created things (and our science is nothing more than this) the encroaching limits of all truth.

Paley, in the utilitarian spirit of his age, could see the revelation of a God only in the recognition of contrivance and the adaptation of means to an end: he did not see that the existence of a supreme mind was still more simply shown by the evidence in creation of that same love of beauty, and order, and general harmony, which is an instinctive property of the human soul. His arguments were framed to answer the cui bono question characteristic of his time and (alas!) of our own also; and in the same spirit it has been reasoned, that, according as we can carry our answers to this question further and further into the visible creation, is there less and less scope remaining for the play of the imagination, the materials of the poet becoming rapidly extinct. Now we believe that this view is decidedly false. His themes naturally change their character, but become neither narrower in extent nor of a lower order; on the contrary, we believe that they become continually more and more elevated, and that far

from his being deprived of the ground upon which he stands, he is only removed a stage higher in the realm of thought, advanced another step through the daylight of wisdom, and another step into the dark cloud of unfathomable mystery.

The utilitarian habit of thought is the only real check upon the spirit of poetry in any age: had it pervaded Homer's country in his day, no rhapsodists would ever have preserved for us the Iliad or the Odyssey; the fact that little was known then of science, would in no way have assisted the lucubrations of genius when chilled by selfishness and bound down by mean ambition. Wherever is found a love of everything beautiful, and sublime, and pure, and good, for its own sake, and not because it is adapted to some rational purpose, and satisfies some definite earthly craving, there the spirit of the poet exists; and he who is inspired to weave the fair web of language into pictures, and arrange the rich notes of sound in the sweet lines of melody, failing not to do so, will find an eager response in many a breast. To our minds the theory we have been combating shows, in the first place, a strange blindness to the relation borne by humanity to the invisible world so vast and so mysterious, and also entirely ignores the action of the Deity upon the soul, which is ever constant, belonging as much to later as to earlier times; for it is by His immediate inspiration, we believe, that the poet, acting ordinarily by the influence of the Deity, though sometimes more peculiarly visited by the divine afflatus, alike with the musician and the religious teacher, and every good and earnest man, expresses himself with rare and signal success. And who shall say that when our scientific research has reached its ultima Thule (if the time should ever come), poets shall cease to be, not because the universal Father can no longer inspire men, but because subjects and materials will be wanting for the exercise of such inspiration? In this mechanical, matterof-fact age of toil and acquisition, beneath the tyranny of material things, we lose sight of the sublime mysteries that encompass all mortal life, overshadowing the present time and veiling the dim lights that shoot their fitful gleams into the future: and we forget that this must ever be; that the very constitution of finite natures implies the

necessity of an ignorances ever during, that can only shift its ground. Let the mo t practical man in the world reflect for awhile upon his powers, origin and destiny; let him ask himself what his nature is,-how he exists,whence he came, and whither he is going,-and in what all his eager pursuits for wealth or comfort, enjoyment or reputation, will really end? how far his calculations of profit and loss, of to-day's receipts and to-morrow's expenditure, will turn to account, when he feels his spirit throwing off its mortal coil? and he must become conscious that the realities about him, which he holds at so high a value, -contemplated, it may be, under the calm eye of evening, or the serene brow of night,-when earth shrinks into its hollow shell, and eternity presses on the living soul and expands before the upturned gaze,-are as the dust upon the whirlwind,-or the shadows of summer clouds, the most insignificant semblances of things, and no veritable realities at all. While, then, our spirits move through this vast sphere of the unfathomable, and we cannot learn by what means or to what issue our struggling wills, and strange fortunes, and soaring hopes, and deep affections, bear us through the labyrinth of life,-surely the truth contained in the theory that poetry exists only where mystery is found, corroborates instead of disproving the fact, that we may look for poets in the present and the future, as well as in the past. So long as the landscapes of earth and the colours of air, the everlasting play of ocean and the serene deeps of the firmament, still retain the eternal traces of majesty or beauty, grace or grandeur, given them by the creative thought of the Almighty, and so long as man,-awake to a lively and grateful perception of these phenomena of the supreme will, can combine with his impression of their glory, the tale of his human experience,those far deeper interests which concern the soul on its mysterious transit from silence again to silence, the day of the poet can never wane. Fancy and Imagination have materials enough for whole cycles of centuries; Thought and Faith will always find things new and old to furnish subject for the poet's contemplation; and till Enthusiasm be quenched, and Love grow cold, there will be well-springs -fresh and deep-of poetic inspiration, to carry on the solemn symphony of the ancient world, and fill up the

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