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In vain shalt thou, or any, call
The spirits from their golden day,
Except, like them, thou too canst say,
Imaginations calm and fair,
The memory like a cloudless air,
And doubt beside the portal waits,
They can but listen at the gates
And hear the household jar within.” We must draw these extracts to a close. We had designed to say much more of our own, but as we turned the pages something exquisite forced itself upon us and extinguished our thought. We do not regret this. The best review of such a book is that which will draw the reader into some sympathy with the spirit which, out of such circumstances, breathes such sweetness and sacredness. The key-note of the whole is struck at the beginning :
“I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most ;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”* And the same sentiment seeks strength to sustain and justify itself in the last prayer :
"O living will that shalt endure
When all that seems shall suffer shock,
Rise in the spiritual rock,
A voice as unto him that hears,
A cry above the conquer'd years
These lines remind us of Monckton Milnes', than whom none has developed more worthily the Religion of Sorrow. The coincidence of the words that form the rhyme is curious :
“ He who for Love hath undergone
The worst that can befall,
Who never loved at all."
With faith that comes of self-control
The truths that never can be proved
Until we close with all we loved,
There is added to the volume a Marriage Lay ; but the old strain returns at the remembrance of another marriage that was to have been: and when through those fair portals he beholds the unspoiled Future, and the unborn races that in the long succession of the ages are to have their origin in Love, and God giving with every new generation a new hope and a new trial to mankind, his faith in the far-off Perfection, which would seem thus secured, is still strengthened by the remembrance of what has been :
“Whereof the man, that with me trod
This planet, was a noble type
Appearing ere the times were ripe,
One God, one law, one element,
And one far-off divine event,
CHRISTIAN TEACHER.- No. 49.
ART. III.-A CRITICAL HISTORY OF THE LAN.
GUAGE AND LITERATURE OF ANTIENT
A Critical History of the Language and Literature of An
tient Greece. By William Mure, of Caldwell. Vols. 1-3. London: Longmans. 1850.
The Poet and the Poet-lover, are certainly very different persons from the critic and the critic-lover. The former bear to the latter the same relation that the spiritualist or religious man does to the Theologian, or the accomplished Physician to the skilful Anatomist and operator. Judgment is essential to perfection in the originator, but the perfect originator will not be fond of judging. The creative and the critical faculties, though the existence of the last be necessary to the perfection of the first, never find co-ordinate expression, without being mutually injurious. The great Poet must be a great Critic, but he sits in judgment on others for his own benefit, not for theirs, or for that of the public. He treasures up the results of his judgment, but he does not express them—except in the indirect way which occasions his avoidance of some things, and his cultivation of others, in his own works. In the proportion in which Aristotle was the Prince of Critics, and Homer the Prince of Poets, would one have found it impossible to be the other. This would not prevent Aristotle from writing Poetry, or Homer from pronouncing his opinion on the defects and excellences of past or contemporaneous poetry. The existence of a certain amount of power in these directions would be essential to the perfection of the specific genius of each, but a large expression of this power in either direction, must have injured completeness in the other. Horace is one of the few great Poets who has signalized himself as a publishing Critic of Poetry; and even in him, the criticism which he offers seems to confirm the general truth of these remarks, because it was more a self-revelation than anything else -a declaration of those rules which he felt should regulate his own judgment and action as a Poet, and which (having evolved them for his own use) he was thus enabled to apply to the critical measure of others. The poetical faculty then must exist in the successful critic, and the critical faculty in the successful poet, but they must be entirely subordinate to the more absorbing and specific object of each-and seek but a secondary expression : for the poetical temperament is averse to critical employment, inasmuch as this employment is the opposite to itself, is eminently uncreative, and lives upon the life of others. Thus the two faculties, in great prominence, destroy each other. As Southey began to write more reviews, he necessarily began to write fewer poems. He thought it was because the fire of his youth was cooling by the progress of time : it was really, because from necessity he had been calling into exercise a set of faculties and feelings, which were counteractive, and, indeed, eventually destructive of poetry. No doubt the observer might have seen the marks of the critical faculty in full play upon the brow and mouth of Shakespeare, as he listened to some Drama of another author, but the expression which his judgment found, was in the indirect, but positive form of his own Plays. Even the clever scenes of the actors and the introduced play in “Hamlet,” in which the Poet is the critic, we feel to be something of a trespass upon the idealism of the rest. Poor Byron was never less a Poet—had the genial, all-embracing, all-apprehending spirit of a Poet never lessthan when he thought himself most of a critic. Thus therefore in all past time, and we suppose in all future, the great poets will stand on one shelf, the great critics on another.
Obvious as this distinction has ever practically been, it has to be much more widely applied than it has hitherto been, before the principle it involves will be fully understood. It lies at the root of many of the mistakes that some men are now making, and many of the sorrows that other men are now suffering, in the region of religious thought. Foreseeing the certainty of many of these, unless provided against, we have long been earnestly deprecating the tendency to confound critical with real theology -the subject-matter of religion with the science of its exposition. While we have observed writer after writer
placing the whole burden, the very existence, of religion upon the authenticity, genuineness, and inspiration of a certain collection of books, admitting, nay asserting with all the intensity of entire conviction, that there was no communion of the Spirit of God with man, no revelation made to his soul, no certainty in duty, no assurance of immortality, unless these books proceeded from the exact age and quarter, and in the exact manner predicatedwe always lamented the rashness of this folly, and trembled for the result in matters of the highest possible moment to man. We saw in these critical questions much most importantly connected with the subject-matter of religion, but much more that was entirely separate and distinct from it. We never rested the existence of religion on their settlement, one way or the other. We were ready to meet, to avail ourselves of, and to consider the results, whatever they might be, for the service, the advancement, and the better assurance of religion, but never to subject religion to them. We saw that the logical faculty was not the only portion of our nature that was to be consulted in the matter of religion, and therefore were by no means prepared to adopt in their solitariness and isolation, the apparent results of pure reason, and would not consent to stake the issue upon them. We saw that many present conceptions of religion, our own among the number, might be liable to considerable modifications, according to the issue of several of the critical questions under consideration, and we were prepared to consider those results, and to receive them in as far as they were well-founded, but we could not believe that any questions of literary evidence involved the essence of religion. If the conclusions arrived at were according to the received assumptions, they might confirm the received conception of religion as connected with, and dependent upon literary documents and evidence; if they were not, our conception of religion would have to undergo modification, according to the character of the new elements of judgment. We wished, therefore, to make use of the critical faculty and the fruits of its exercise, as of the purely logical faculty and its results, but certainly not to place the existence and the doctrines of religion at their absolute control, so that these