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advanced into the same line with our own in the order of progression. The perfection of art does not look like the infancy of things. Or those times are prominent, and, as it were, confront the present age, that are raised high in the scale of polished sosiety,--and the trophies of which stand out above the low, obscure, grovelling level of barbarism and rusticity. Thus, Rome and Athens were two cities set on a hill, that could not be hid, and that every where meet the retrospective eye of history. It is not the full-grown, articulated, thoroughly accomplished periods of the world, that we regard with the pity or reverence due to age ; so much as those imperfect, unformed, uncertain periods, which seem to totter on the verge
of non-existence, to shrink from the grasp of our feeble imaginations, as they crawl out of, or retire into, the womb of time, and of which our ut. most assurance is to doubt whether they ever were or not!
To give some other instances of this feeling, taken at random : Whittington and his Cat, the first and favourite studies of my childhood, are, to my way of thinking, as old and reverend personages as any recorded in more authentic history. It must have been long before the invention of triple bob-majors, that Bow-bells
Second Series. VOL. II.
rung out their welcome never-to-be-forgotten peal, hailing him Thrice Lord Mayor of London. Does not all we know relating to the site of old London-wall, and the first stones that were laid of this mighty metropolis, seem of a far older date (hid in the lap of “chaos and old night”) than the splendid and imposing details of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire ?Again, the early Italian pictures of Cimabue, Giotto, and Ghirlandaio are covered with the marks of unquestionable antiquity ; while the Greek statues, done a thousand years before them, shine in glossy, undiminished splendour, and flourish in immortal youth and beauty. The latter Grecian Gods, as we find them there represented, are to all appearance a race of modern fine gentlemen, who led the life of honour with their favourite mistresses of mortal or immortal mould,—were gallant, graceful, welldressed, and well-spoken; whereas the Gothic deities long after, carved in horrid wood or misshapen stone, and worshipped in dreary waste or tangled forest, belong, in the mind's heraldry, to almost as ancient a date as those elder and discarded Gods of the Pagan mythology, Ops, and Rhea and old Saturn,—those strange anomalies of earth and cloudy spirit, born of the elements and conscious will, and clothing them
selves and all things with shape and formal being. The Chronicle of Brute, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, has a tolerable air of antiquity in it; so in the dramatic line, the Ghost of one of
: the old kings of Ormus, introduced as Prologue to Fulke Greville's play of Mustapha, is reasonably far-fetched, and palpably obscure. A monk in the Popish Calendar, or even in the Canterbury Tales, is a more questionable and out-of-the-way personage than the Chiron of Achilles, or the priest in Homer. When Chaucer, in his Troilus and Cressida, makes the Trojan hero invoke the absence of light, in these two lines
Why proffer’st thou light me for to sell ?
Go sell it them that smallé sele's grave! he is guilty of an anachronism; or at least I much doubt whether there was such a profession as that of seal-engraver in the Trojan war. But the dimness of the objects and the quaintness of the allusion throw us farther back into the night of time, than the golden, glittering images of the Iliad. The Travels of Anacharsis are less obsolete at this time of day, that Coryate's Crudities, or Fuller's Worthies. “ Here is some of the ancient city,” said a Roman, taking up a handful of dust from beneath his feet. The ground we tread on is as old as the creation, though it does not seem so, except when collected into gigantic masses, or separated by gloomy solitudes from modern uses and the purposes of common life. The lone Helvellyn and the silent Andes are in thought coeval with the Globe itself, and can only perish with it. The Pyramids of Egypt are vast, sublime, old, eternal; but Stonehenge, built no doubt in a later day, satisfies my capacity for the sense of antiquity; it seems as if as much rain had drizzled on its grey, withered head, and it had watched out as many winter-nights; the hand of time is upon it, and it has sustained the burden of ` years upon its back, a wonder and a ponderous riddle, time out of mind, without known origin or use, baffling fable or conjecture, the credulity of the ignorant, or wise men's search.
Thou noblest monument of Albion's isle,
Studious to trace thy wondrous origin,
So it is with respect to ourselves also; it is the sense of change or decay that marks the difference between the real and apparent progress of time, both in the events of our own lives and the history of the world we live in.
Impressions of a peculiar and accidental nature, of which few traces are left, and which return seldom or never, fade in the distance, and are consigned to obscurity,—while those that belong to a given and definite class are kept up, and assume a constant and tangible form, from familiarity and habit. That which was personal to myself merely, is lost and confounded with other things, like a drop in the ocean ; it was but a point at first, which by its nearness affected me, and by its removal becomes nothing; while circumstances of a general interest and abstract importance present the same distinct, well-known aspect as ever, and are durable in proportion to the extent of their influence. Our own idle feelings and foolish fancies we get tired or grow ashamed of, as their novelty wears out; “ when we become men, we put away childish things ;" but the impressions we derive from the exercise of our higher