« AnkstesnisTęsti »
It is just on this account that Sir Walter Scott's poetry is so poor and (in Mr. Ruskin's sense) so merely picturesque as contrasted with what is essentially beautiful or sublime, namely, that his nature seems to have had none of this involution of sentiment as we may call it; he only described what he saw by a single sense or sentiment; and then to enhance the interest, he is obliged to seek out non-essential incidents, strange and grotesque collocations, vivid meeting-lines of different and disconnected feelings, which are called picturesque, rather because they rivet the attention by the novelty and wonder of their coincidence than because they are in themselves imaged forth as beautiful and fine. In this sense the picturesque is a combination that may result from mere intellectual imagination, not from the imagination that is caused by inwardly associated emotions: and accordingly we often see that the most picturesque writers are nearly devoid of poetry. They conceive of new and startling combinations of forms, colours, sentiments, and thoughts, without being led to them by any inward connection of the feelings themselves, and so they produce striking effects, and contrasts, that are artificially artistic, and not a consequence of inward feeling. This is in a very great degree true of Mr. Browning; his poetry and his descriptions are picturesque, not beautiful; there are sharp divisions in his thought, and vivid outlines in his sensations, that give anything but the blended effect of true poetical description, and yet his descriptions are vivid and striking. Mr. Ruskin is, on the other hand, a high example of one who describes natural beauty not with intellectual keenness, but by inward sympathy with the influences of the scene. The description of a scene in the Jura, in his Seven Lamps of Architecture,* is one of the most exquisitely poetical we have ever read; the thoughts fly after each other, not in the order of intellectual observation, but of closely-associated feelings; and instead of the halfstartled and novel interest with which we read a description by Scott, we experience as we read, those strange mysterious feelings that the actual presence of majestic natural beauty always excites.
Keats, whose poetry is almost purely sensuous, still * Chap. vi. Lamp of Memory, § 1.
always writes under the influence of the natural associations of fine senses, never from the analogies of intellectually associated thoughts; and in Shelley, the charm may be always traced to the wonderful play of all the finer emotions in the ever-varied tints of his fascinating lyrics. Wordsworth too, so universally regarded as a poet of meditation, not of emotion, owes all his finest passages to the quiet and subtle transition from sentiment to sentiment secretly connected by some tie that we know not of: so that one is made to illustrate and shine upon another, and the scattered rays of different affections are brought to a focus in the scene or thought of which he sings. Thus what is the exquisite delight with which we turn to such lines as the following from his often wearying goodness of mind and calmness of thought, unless it be that here he weaves together many threads of the finest feeling into one beautiful web, while elsewhere he spins out a single sentiment, or drops the sensitive altogether for the mere intellectual nature:
"The Stars of midnight shall be dear
To her; and she shall lean her ear
In many a secret place,
Where rivulets dance their wayward round,
And beauty born of murmuring sound
The mere fine expression of a single sentiment or sensation is not yet poetry, it is only beginning to be so; just as music is not yet music when only a single note has been struck; but when many feelings are gathered together by the spontaneous affinities of the mind, or at the very least according to the same laws by which the spontaneous affinities might draw them together, and not by the mere intellectual effort of volition, then poetry may be said to arise.
It appears easily from this view of Poetry what is the reason which makes it the tendency of the poet to impersonate or humanize the objects of nature and the world of thought if that be the essence of poetry, to express the intimate connection of the sensitive faculties of the soul in their collective and simultaneous activity, yet in that wellordered harmony which gives prominence to the highest,
and only calls in the lower sensations to add a fringe of brightness to the whole, then it is obvious that this end can fully be attained only when the object delineated is a person. Towards persons only, are the higher sentiments of the mind awakened, so that their various and transfiguring presence must be lost, if the thoughts are fixed only on passive and lifeless things. And above all, a religious poem gains all its beauty and grandeur from realising everywhere the divine personality: from regarding all the quiet brightness, and gentle shadows of life as unfolded from sentiments yet more mysteriously blended than those of man; and from throwing across all, that infinite shadow of power, which mingles even the profoundest trust with the sublimity of wonder, and softens the narrow intensity of earthly purpose, by revealing beyond its poor horizon that vista of diviner things which must unfix, at last, the gaze of the most downcast soul, and show the boundless spiritual world, in which it has been treading, unaware, its dangerous, though not unguarded way.
ART. VII.-RAGGED SCHOOLS.
Ragged Schools: their Principles and Modes of Operation By a Worker. London: Partridge and Oakley, Paternoster Row.
IN strange, gentle and hopeful contrast to the Latter-Day Pamphlets of Mr. Carlyle, appears this cheap little Book on Ragged Schools, by a Worker. Children who are brought up and taught, by those whom Nature constitutes their guardians and guides, to lie and steal, to be filthy and idle, are not criminals. They obey in this conduct the instincts of ambition and even duty. They are subjects of a Reformatory-punishment is only due when that has failed. As they have taken one set of notions that have been taught them, see if they will take another by teaching. Thus the fit objects of restraint and severity will be distinguished from the unfit. But if ever there was a class of human beings, for whom a merely intellectual training is insufficient, this is the class. Simple schooling will only fit them for entering the higher ranks of their profession-render them more largely, powerfully mischievous. There may be unwisely conducted ragged schools, then. The discriminating and Christian-hearted writer of this book is fully aware of this fact.
"We know that unwise efforts to do good, do harm, unmixed harm it would be if the love which prompted them did not soften it: we are now fully assured that the abundant alms-giving of our ancestors fostered the mendicity they would have destroyed; and that the gigantic and costly efforts of our country to repress the slavetrade by armed force, are fearfully aggravating the evil;—it is worse than useless to have zeal without knowledge, and we must try 'who loving best, can wiseliest love.'"
But where, as in the course recommended in these pages, the miserable children are only taught reading and writing as one among several instruments of changing the current of their thoughts, habits and ambition-where they are led to imbibe a disgust for filth, and a shame of dishonesty,
when a new standard of honour and duty is created in their minds by a new code of morals-we cannot see how they can avoid returning at least a balance of good. Even the honest poor, living in the same neighbourhood, and paying for the education of their own children, must feel the benefit of benefitting these outcasts, and making them a little less fierce, a little less dirty, and a little less dishonest and must rejoice in the proximity to their own households and families being an improved one. No doubt therefore in doing something for the "young scoundrel-class," we are doing much for the young honest-class, -and (a consideration that appears to occupy a conspicuous place in our tax-hating days) much also for the taxpaying class-as such. Mr. Burnall is here declared to have stated that the 18,000 prisoners in the prisons of Middlesex alone (1849) cost, on an average, first and last, £120 to £150 each.
Why, then, will the public continue to support thieves, at a cost of £150 per annum, and the government to maintain them, if committed to its charge, at an expense of from £20 to £30 per annum, besides the enormous cost of prosecution; while the young offender, if placed at once in a Reformatory School, and retained there until he had given evidence of altered conduct, would not be a third of the expense, and would restore the wandering to be useful members of society ?"-P. 93.
It may be further asked, How long will the public consent to devote large sums annually to army, navy and prisons, and to require that the comparatively trifling sums required for reformatory-schools shall be painfully and uncertainly collected by amateur labourers in their spare hours from door to door, by half-crowns and sovereigns-and the salary offered to the Teacher be such at last as will rarely enlist the services of any persons with feelings, education and objects much above those of an ordinary workingman? If ragged-schools do not answer, it is because the right persons are not sent to conduct them. If "workers" like the present writer could be procured in sufficient abundance, the letters in the Morning Chronicle had never been written. But people so highly endowed with united judgment, charity and piety as this "Worker" are rarely to be met with in our present state of society. Let this CHRISTIAN TEACHER.-No. 48.