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Of calling shapes, and beck’ning shadows dire,
And airy tongues, that syllable men's names
On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses.
These thoughts may startle well, but not astound,
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong-siding champion, Conscience.
Oh! welcome pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope,
Thou hovering angel, girt with golden wings,
And thou, unblemished form of Chastity;
I see ye visibly, and now believe
That He, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glist'ring guardian, if need were,

To keep my life and honour unassailed.” Again, there are passages which blend with a music of their own the melody of both Spenser and Shakespearethe music of their words and of their thoughts-as when the brother speaks :

“I do not think my sister so to seek

Or so unprincipled in Virtue's book,
And the sweet peace that goodness bosoms ever,
As that the single want of light and noise
(Not being in danger, as I trust she is not)
Could stir the constant mood of her calm thoughts,
And put them into misbecoming plight.
Virtue could see to do what Virtue would,
By her own radiant light, tho' sun and moon
Were in the flat sea sunk. And Wisdom's self
Oft seeks to sweet, retired solitude,
Where, with her best nurse, Contemplation,
She plumes her feathers, and lets grow her wings,
That in the various bustle of resort
Were all too ruffled, and sometimes impaired.
He that has light within his own clear breast

May sit in the centre, and enjoy bright day.” When the lady is at last rescued from the wicked magic that encircled her, the good attendant spirit, his guardianship achieved, speeds away like Ariel, set free to the elements, and leaves in poetry words of encouragement and promise to humanity :

“Now my task is smoothly done,

I can fly or I can run
Quickly to the green earth's end
Where the bow'd welkin slow doth bend,
And from thence can soar as soon
To the corners of the moon.
Mortals, that would follow me,
Love Virtue; she alone is free:
She can teach ye how to climb
Higher than the sphery chime,
Or if Virtue feeble were,
Heaven itself would stoop to her.”

One cannot part with this poem, radiant as it is with what is bright and pure and lofty in poetry and philosophy, without thinking how little that high-born woman, when her heart was throbbing in the loneliness of Haywood Forest—how little could she have thought that a young poet's words were to win for her more enduring honour than wealth or beraldry could bestow.

The most distinct foreshadowing of Milton's great epic poem, and of his own independent genius, is an earlier poem—“The Hymn on the Nativity"—which gives the poet the fame of having composed almost in his youth the earliest of the great English odes, the like of which had not, I believe, been heard, since Pindar, two thousand years before, had struck the lyre for assembled Greece. It is a lyric that might have burst from that religious bard of paganism, could he have had prophetic vision of the Advent.

It is a poem that revealed a new mastery of English versification, disciplined afterward to such

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power in the blank verse of Paradise Lost. Nothing in the way of metre can be grander than some of the transitions from the gentle music of the quiet passages to the passionate parts, and their deep reverberating lines that seem to go echoing on, spiritually sounding, long after they are heard no more.

The universal peace at the time of the Nativity is told with the very music of peace :

“No war or battle's sound
Was heard the world around;

The idle spear and shield were high up hung:
The hooked chariot stood
Unstain'd with hostile blood;

The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sovereign Lord was by.
But peaceful was the night
Wherein the Prince of Light

His reign of peace upon the earth began :
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,

Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,

While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.” The stanzas that tell of hopes of a golden age again are followed by that solemn one:

“ But wisest Fate says no,
This must not yet be so;

The Babe lies yet in smiling infancy,
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss,

So both himself and us to glorify;
Yet first to those ychained in sleep
The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the deep."

The grandest portion of this poem is that which tells

of the flight of the false deities of heathendom, the panic of the priests, the silencing of the oracles, and the cessation of the services of superstition, when the star was seen over the infant Saviour. The profusion of mysterious epithets and the dim imagery seem to blend the magic of the dark incantations of Shakspeare's witchcraft with the splendours of Greek mythology. Paganism and superstition-Europe's, Asia's, Africa's—all, with all the host of their ministry, are vanishing like witches at the touch of music—a babe's cry heard from the manger at Bethlehem throughout the spiritual uni

verse :

The oracles are dumb;
No voice or hideous hum

Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,

With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
No nightly trance, or breathed spell,
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.
The lonely mountains o'er,
And the resounding shore

A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
From haunted spring and dale,
Edged with poplar pale,

The parting Genius is with sighing sent:
With flower-inwoven tresses torn,
The nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.

And sullen Moloch, fled,
Hath left in shadows dread

His burning idol all of blackest hue :
In vain with cymbals' ring
They call the grisly king,

In dismal dance about the furnace blue :

The brutish gods of Nile as last
Isis and Orus and the dog Anubis haste.

Nor is Osiris seen,
In Memphian grove or green,

Trampling the unshower'd grass with lowings loud;
Nor can he be at rest
Within his sacred chest;

Nought but profoundest hell can be his shroud:
In vain with timbrel'd anthems dark
The sable-stoled sorcerers bear his worshipt ark.

He feels from Juda's land
The dreaded Infant's hand."

Of Milton's various prose-writings, and of his epic poems, it would hardly be possible to say much in a general lecture on the literature of the century. What I have to say respecting the Paradise Lost, I propose to put in this course in another connection.

I have ventured to include, in the subject of this evening's lecture, some suggestions on Sunday reading; and, in turning aside to this topic, let me first explain why I have connected it with this portion of my course.

The literature of the seventeenth century includes that which is most generally regarded as the great sacred poem of our language-I mean, of course, the Paradise Lost; and, again, it is the most illustrious age of English pulpitoratory and of theological literature. Let me, in the next place, say, that I trust it will not be thought presumptuous or impertinent in me to introduce, even somewhat casually, into a course like this, the subject of Sunday reading. I am truly solicitous, on the one side, not

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