Lapas attēli

them busy about, with the very serious ones which await them—which await every one. There are those two strangers busy gathering cowslips, and perhaps thinking of nothing beyond the fresh pleasure of the air and the grass, and the scent of their flowers—their minds quite filled with the spirit of the spring, when who knows what may be awaiting them! Love may be just at hand. The tempest of passion may be brewing under this soft sunshine. They think themselves now as full of happiness as possible ; and a little while bence, upon a few words spoken, a glance exchanged, they may be in such a heaven of bliss that they will smile at their own ignorance in being so well pleased to-day.' Or—but I pray they may escape the other chance. Neither of them knows any thing of that misery yet, I am confident. They both look too young, too open, too free, to have really suffered. I wonder whether it is foolish to fancy already that one of them may be settled here. It can hardly be foolish, when the thought occurs so naturally; and these great affairs of life lie distinctly under the eye of such as are themselves cut off from them. I am out of the game, and why should not I look upon its chance? I am quite alone; and why should I not watch for others ?. Every situation has its privileges and its obligations. What is it to be alone, and to be let alone, as I am? It is to be put into a post of observation upon

others; but the knowledge so gained is any thing but a good, if it stops at mere knowledge-if it does not make me feel and act. Women who have what I am not to have-a home, an intimate, a perpetual call out of themselves, may go on more safely, perhaps, without any thought for themselves than I with all my best consideration ; but I, with the blessing of a peremptory vocation, which is to stand me instead of sympathy, ties, and spontaneous action-1 may find out that it is my proper business to keep an intent eye upon the possible events of other people's lives, that I may use slight occasions of action which might otherwise pass me by. If one were thoroughly wise and good, this would be a sort of divine lot. Without being at all wiser or better than others-being even as weak in judgment and in faith as I am--something may be made of it. Without daring to meddle, one may stand clearsighted, ready to help.”

The influence of happiness in elevating the mind, is admirably displayed in the following passage :

• There needs no other proof that happiness is the most wholesome moral atmosphere, and that in which the immortality of man is destined ultimately to thrive, than the elevations of soul, the religious aspiration, which attends the first assurance, the first sober certainty, of true love. There is much of this religious aspiration amidst all warmth of virtuous affections. There is a vivid love of God in the child that lays its cheek against the cheek of its mother, and clasps its arms about her neck. God is thanked (perhaps unconsciously) for the brightness of his earth, on summer evenings, when a brother and sister who have long been parted, pour out their heart-stores to each other, and feel their course of thought brightening as it runs. When the aged parent hears of the honours his children have won, or looks round upon their innocent faces as the glory of his decline, bis mind reverts to Him who in-them prescribed the purpose of his life, and bestowed its grace. But, religious as is the mood of every good affection, none is so devotional as that of love, especially so called. The soul is then the very temple of adoration, of faith, of holy purity, of heroism, of charity. At such a moment the human creature shoots up into the angel : there is nothing on earth

too degled for its charity-nothing in bell too appalling for its heroism ---nothing in heaven too glorious for its sympathy. Strengthened, sustained, vivified by that most mysterious power, union with another spirit, it feels itself set well forth on the way of victory over evil, sent out conquering and to conquer. There is no other such crisis in human life. The philosopher may experience uncontrollable agitation in verifying his principle of balancing systems of worlds, feeling, perhaps, as if he actually saw the creative hand in the act of sending the planets forth on their everlasting way; but this philosopher, solitary seraph as he may be regarded amidst a myriad of men, knows at such a moment no emotions so divine as those of the spirit becoming conscious that it is beloved-be it the peasant girl in the meadow, or the daughter of the sage reposing in her father's confidence, or the artisan beside bis loom, or the man of letters musing by his fireside. The warrior, about to strike the decisive blow for the liberties of a nation, however impressed with the solemnity of the hour, is not in a state of such losty resolution as those who, by joining hearts, are laying their joint hands on the whole wide realm of futurity for their own. The statesman who, in the moment of success, feels that an entire class of social sios and woes is annihilated by his hand, is not conscious of so holy and so intimate a thankfulness, aš they who are aware that their redemption is come in the presence of a new and sovereign affection. And these are many—they are in all corners of


land. The statesman is the leader of a nation—the warrior is the grace of an age—the philosopher is the birth of a thousand years; but the lover-where is he not? Wherever parents look round upon their children, there he has been—wherever children are at play together, there he will soon be wherever there are roofs under which men dwell--wherever there is an atmosphere vibrating with human voices, there is the lover, and there is his lofty worship going on, unspeakable, but revealed in the brightness of the eye, the majesty of the presence, and the high temper of the discourse.'

The following extract cannot fail to come home to the feelings of those who have endured the weary restlessness of affliction:

• The unhappy are indisposed to employment : all active occupations are wearisome and disgusting in prospect, at a time when every thing, life itself, is full of weariness and disgust. Yet the unhappy must be employed, or they will go mad. Comparatively blessed are they, if they are set in families where claims and duties abound, and cannot be escaped. In the pressure of business there is present safety and ultimate relief. Harder is the lot of those who have few necessary occupations, enforced by other claims than their own harmlessness and profitableness. Reading often fails. Now and then it may beguile ; but much oftener the attention is languid, the thoughts wander, and associations with the subject of grief are awakened. Women who find that reading will not do, will obtain no relief from sewing. Sewing is pleasant enough in moderation to those whose minds are at ease the while; but it is an employment which is trying to the nerves, when long continued, at the best; and nothing can be worse for the harassed, and for those who want to escape from themselves. Writing is bad. The pen hangs idly suspended over the paper, or the sad thoughts that are alive within write themselves down. The safest and best of all occupations for such sufferers as are fit for it, is intercourse with young children. An infant might beguile Satan and his peers the day after they were couched on the lake of fire, if the love of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


7月 樹训m

RT. VIII.—The Poetical Works of Percy BYSSHE SALLEY. Edited by Mrs SHELLEY. 4 vols. 12mo. London: 1839.

MICH sucu disappointment has been felt and expressed at the appear

ance of a professedly complete edition of Shelley's poems, om the hand of his dearest and now only surviving companion, hich furnishes no addition whatever to our biographical know:dge respecting him. Whether Mrs Shelley means to supply ais deficiency at some future time, we do not know. Hints are "rown out in her preface and elsewhere, that this is not the time o relate the truth: which means, we suppose, that there are still ome to be grieved or embarrassed by the narration of particular vents in his history. We, for our own parts, shall feel no regret f' the same difficulties should continue to stand in the


of these evelations, until the opportunity for them has passed away for ver. The vulgar curiosity of some readers to pry into the donestic circumstances of an unhappy life, and the morbid desire of others to witness the whole anatomy of a spirit incurably diseased, will thus for once be frustrated. It is surely enough to have learned that he was one whom no one could know without loving; -whose ardent love for his species was united, as is not always the case, with the most unaffected kindness and forbearance towards individuals:- that perfect simplicity seemed to form the first characteristic of his intellect, and perfect freedom from selfishness to equally distinguish his natural disposition ; and yet, that his whole existence was involved in one strange cloud of error ;-that he was no Tess miserable himself, than the cause of wretchedness in others ;--that he lived at open war with society, and that the laws of society were turned against him, to make his domestic affections, which had produced all that was left to him of pleasure, sources of the most acute pain ; and that, just when better prospects were beginning to open, when his mind was assuming a somewhat firmer tone, and his convictions a more definite shape, —when his solitary life began to be varied by new interests, and a sort of truce to be established between himself and his enemies, internal and external, he was called suddenly and fearfully

" To the realm without a name,

Out of this valley of perpetual dream.' We can imagine no benefit to be derived from any further exposure of the particulars of that most melancholy history. To such as will not rest contented with the common theories about the madness of poets, and the mysterious evil destiný attached to the poetical temperament, it furnishes already sufficient cause for

reflecting on those weak points in our social institutions, which seem to render them inadequate to serve the purpose of taming and training minds of this extraordinary class.

Proud as we are, and justly so, of our national education for youth of the higher ranks, it cannot be denied that there is a great deficiency of fit modes of discipline for sensitive, and wayward spirits, such as are often combined with the greatest natural powers. We refer more particularly to those cases (Shelley's, we fear, was one of them) in which the young student has not enjoyed the inestimable benefit of a steady and affectionate domestic education ;-where the absence, or unkindness, or unfitness, of those who should bave watched over the first expansion of the mind, has left the moral principle and the affections uncultivated. The additional experience of every day tends more and more strongly to convince us, that it is to this first training that nine out of ten of the ordinary citizens of the world owe what is really sound and good in their moral development. The lessons there acquired, do not appear to sink so deep as in fact they do : esse quam videri is the first characteristic of the good seed sown in early life. The boy is thrown, prepared or unprepared, into the bustling world of a public school. Selfishness, tyranny, recklessness, and a disregard of truth, except so far as it is connected with the point of honour, are the first characteristics which strike his observation ;-developed as they are far more nakedly than on the theatre of adult society itself, to which this odd little stage of action forms the vestibule. He proceeds to the university, which, to the great body of those destined by their circumstances to fill a prominent place in lise, is little more than a continuation of the public school for a somewhat older class of pupils. He finds there somewhat less of the rough and marked features of the society which he has left; but with greater profligacy, greater idleness, and more subserviency. He finds, too, for the first time, a disposition to use philosophy and literature, in those who really devote themselves to study, not as an end, but as a means ; for the sake of system, or favour, or advancement;-a desecration of truth which, to the more precocious minds, is peculiarly revolting. Such at least was the state of things in Shelley's time at Oxford: whether it is much better now, when college tutors have discovered all at once that a tendency to make good churchmen is the only apology to be urged in favour of any study whatever, it is not for us to determine. Now, when the mind has been in the outset thoroughly formed by home education--we do not mean only by precept and learning, but by the instruction of example and circumstances, and of that strong mutual love which is acquired round the domestic

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »