Page images
PDF
EPUB

APPENDIX.

sleep, and shaking her invincible locks: methinks I see her as an eagle muing her mighty young, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full mid-day beam; purging and unscaling her long abused sight at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance; while the whole noise of timorous and flocking birds, with those also that love the twilight, flutter about amaz'd at what she means, and in their envious gabble, would prognosticate a year of sects and schisms.”

Milton's Speech for the Liberty of

unlicensed Printing.

“ Wisdom hath always a good conscience attending it, that purest delight and richest cordial of the soul; that brazen wall and impregnable for tress against both external assaults, and internal commotions.

“If a fool prosper, the honour is attributed to propitious chance; if he miscarry, to his own ill management: but the entire glory of happy undertakings, crowns the head of wisdom ; while the disgrace of unlucky events falls otherwhere. His light like that of the sun, cannot totally be eclipsed; it may be dimmed but never extinguished, and always maintains a day though over

APPENDIX.

clouded with misfortune. Who less esteems the famous African captain for being overthrown in that last famous battle, wherein he is said to have shewn the best skill, and yet endured the worst success ? Who contemns Cato, and other the grave citizens of Rome, for embracing the just, but unprosperous cause of the commonwealth ? A wise man's circumstances may vary and fluctuate, like floods about a rock; but he persists unmoveably the same, and his reputation unshaken: for he can always render a good account of his actions, and by reasonable apology, elude the assaults of reproach."--BARROW.

These passages which I have quoted, are selected from numbers in the same authors equally solid and lustrous. The expressions which appeared to me most striking, are designated by italics. The political and miscellaneous productions of the writer of Paradise Lost, are mines of intellectual gold; they contain, perhaps, as many burning thoughts. of Genius as his poems. Barrow, the predecessor of the great Newton, in the mathematic chair of Cambridge, is justly entitled to a rank among the most copious and energetic divines of the Christian church. There is a remnant of antiquity in the stile and manner of both these original authors,

APPENDIX

which may displease the ear, attuned to the lulling
harmony of the periods of the present day: but the
strength and spirit of their figures, their boldness
and elevation of thought, no one can mistake.
· Let the reader of discernment and feeling exa-
mine particularly the prosaic works of Milton---let
him become familiarised with his manner---let him
learn to follow his vigorous and ascending wings-
and he will probably say that he is not only the first
poet, but one of the most eloquent rhetoricians, and
gigantic reasoners, that the English nation has ever
produced.

“ In our little journey up to the grand chartreuse, I do not remember to have gone ten paces without an exclamation, that there was no restraining: not a precipice, not a torrent, not a cliff, but is pregnant with religion and poetry. There are certain scenes that would awe an atheist into belief, without the help of other argument, one need not have a very fantastic imagination to see spirits there at noon-day: you have death perpetually before your eyes, only so far removed as to compose the mind without frighting it. I am well persuaded St. Bruno was a man of no common Genius, to choose such a situation for his retirement; and I perhaps should have been a disciple of his, had I been born in his time. You may

-

APPENDIX.

believe Abelard and Heloise were not forgot on this occasion: if I do not mistake I saw you too every now and then at a distance among the trees; you seemed to call me from the other side of the precipice, but the noise of the river below was so great that I really could not distinguish what you said; it seemed to have a cadence like verse.? ----GRAY.

This extract from one of Gray's letters to his friend West, exhibits a painting exquisite, and sublime. It discovers the vigour and imagination of the Poet without his numbers.

“Many works of genius and learning, have been performed in states of life, that appear very little favourable to thought or enquiry: so many, that he who considers them, is inclined to think that he sees enterprise and perseverance predominating over all external agency, and bidding help and hindrance vanish before them. The Genius of Shakespeare was not to be depressed by the weight of poverty, nor limited by the narrow conversation to which men in want are inevitably condemned; the incumbrances of his fortune were shaken from his mind, as dew-drops from a lion's mane."

JOHNSON. “He, whose soul reposes on his firm trust in God, like the halcyon that builds on the waves, if

APPENDIX.

storms arise, may be tossed, but not endangered. Or, grant the worst, those tumultuous billows that devour others, rock him to rest eternal.”-YOUNG.

“ While your majesty looks down from that eminence to which Providence has raised you: while you behold all your flourishing provinces, reaping the harvest of happiness, and enjoying the blessings of peace ; while you behold your throne encompassed with the affections of a loyal people-what have you to fear? Where is that enemy who can injure your felicity? Yes, Sir! there is an enemy who can injure your felicity; that'énemy is yourself; that enemy is the situation you adorn ; that enemy is the glory which encircles you! It is no easy task to submit to the rule that seems to submit to us. Where is the canopy of sufficient texture to screen you from the penetrating and scorching beams of unbounded prosperity.”---Bossuet.

“Religious truth was exiled from the earth, and idolatry sat brooding over the moral world. The Egyptians, the fathers of philosophy, the Grecians, the inventors of the fine arts, the Romans, the conquerors of the universe, were all unfortunately celebrated for the perversion of religious worship, for the gross errors they admitted into their belief, and the indignities they offered to the true

« PreviousContinue »