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the desecrated city, have never been hushed elsewhere, but to this day are heard, and their never-ending echoes will rise up to heaven from every side of the round earth as long as this planet of ours shall roll glittering in the sunlight through the boundless spaces of the sky. And thus it is that in all true worship there is incorporated forever the large influence of imagination.

Now, I have spoken of the combination of the practical and the poetical as a character of our English race, of the greatest English minds, and above all, as observable in Holy Writ; and such authority might be all-sufficient; but let us further seek a reason why this combination should be cherished, and prose and poetry studied in welladjusted proportion. I speak of them as distinct, but let it be remembered that they are not contra-distinguished, for the best prose and the best poetry are but varied forms of uttered wisdom. The perfection of a literature is in the true combination of its poetry and prose, which bear to each other a relation which has been imaged with equal truth and fancy in these simple stanzas :

I looked upon a plain of green

That some one called the land of prose,
Where many living things were seen


In movement or repose.

I looked upon a stately hill,

That well was named the mount of song,
Where golden shadows dwelt at will,

The woods and streams among.
But most this fact my wonder bred,

Though known by all the nobly wise
It was the mountain streams that fed

The fair green plain's amenities.*

Anonymous.—“Poetry, Past and Present,” p. 194.

The prose literature leads us along into the region of actual truth, that which has manifested itself in action, in deeds, in historic events, in biographic incidents. It tells us what men have done, and said, and suffered, or it reasons on the capacity for action and for passion, and so it gives power to the mind, in making us the better know ourselves and our fellow-beings. But most inadequate are his conceptions of truth, who thinks it has no range beyond the facts and outward things which observation and research and argument ascertain. Beneath all the visible and audible and tangible things of the world's history, there lies the deeper region of silent, unseen, spiritual truth-that which was shadowed forth in action, and yet the action, which to some minds seems every thing, is but the shadow, and the spirit is the reality. The experience of any one's own mind may teach the inadequacy of mere actual truth: has not every one felt, at the time when any deep emotion stirred him, or any lofty thought animated him, what imperfect exponents of such emotion or thought, his words or actions are ? Nay, the more profound and sacred the affection, how it shrinks from any outward shape, as too narrow and superficial for it! Is it not in your daily consciousness to recognise the presence of emotions, yearnings, aspirations of your spiritual nature, which baffle expression, even if you wished to bring them forth from the recess of silence-motions of the soul, which word nor deed do justice to? Do you not know that there are sympathies, affinities with our fellow-beings, and with the external world of sight and sound, which pass beyond the reach of argument or common speech? So true is it, that there are powers,

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“ That touch each other to the quick-in modes T

Which the gross world no sense hath to perceive,

No soul to dream of."* This whole range of subjects, of deepest moment in the science of humanity, belongs to the imaginative portion of literature, toward which the prose literature is always tending, whenever it approaches the deep and spiritual and mysterious parts of human nature. When Mr. Lockhart, at the conclusion of his admirable biography of Sir Walter Scott, devotes a chapter to a delineation of Scott's character, with all his familiarity with his subject and his powers as an author, he prefaces his attempt with this remark : “ Many of the feelings common to our nature can only be expressed adequately, and some of the finest can only be expressed at all, in the language of art, and more especially in the language of poetry.”† When Arnold, in his History of Rome, portrays the character of Scipio, and especially that deep religious spirit in it which baffled the ancient historians—feeling the inadequacy of his effort in dealing with character, which, like Scipio's and the Protector Cromwell's, are the wonders of history,” he adds, “the genius which conceived the incomprehensible character of Hamlet would alone be able to describe with intuitive truth the character of Scipio, or of Cromwell.”I Now observe how two authors, of the finest powers in these two high departments-biography and history-after carrying those powers to the farthest, profess their sense of how much remains unaccomplished; and, moreover, their conviction that all of higher or deepei achievement which lies beyond is left to poetry, or left to

* Wordsworth’s “Address to Kilchum Castle,” collective ed. p. 242. † Lockhart's Scott, vol. x. p. 22. | History of Rome, vol. iii. p. 385.


silence; not that it is less true or less real, but because there is truth which prose can never reach to-truth to which a form can be given only by imagination and art, whether using the instrument of words, the pencil, or the chisel the hand of poet, of painter, or of sculptor. We ought to remember, then, that when we let imaginative studies drop out of our habits of reading, we neglect a whole region of truth and reality which the highest prose authority acknowledges itself unequal to.

The propensity to partial prose reading is attended with further loss, inasmuch as it not only separates us from much of the highest truth human nature can hold communion with, but it makes one lose the finest and deepestreaching discipline our spiritual being is capable of. Two thousand years ago, the great philosopher of criticism gave his well-known theory of tragic poetry, that it purifies our feelings through terror and pity. But in the large compass of its power, poetry employs also other and kindlier agencies of good. It deals with us in the spirit of the most sagacious morality: it does not single out this or that faculty, and tutor the one till it grows weary or stubborn, or stupid under the narrow teaching and the dull iteration, but it addresses good sense, (which true poetry is never heedless of the intellect, the affections, and what has been well called “the great central power of imagination, which brings all the other faculties into harmonious action.”* Instead of ministering to the mind diseased or the mind enfeebled one drug, or hard, unvaried food, it carries poor suffering humanity to the seaside, or up to the mountain-tops, for the larger contemplation which leads to infinity, and for the health and strength and life of sublimer and purer thoughts and feelings. Were it possible to fathom the mystery which dwells in the serious eyes of infancy, we should learn, I believe, that nature leads the young spirit on to its sense of truth through wonderment and faith; and we do know how the imagination of childhood puts forth its powers into the region of the marvellous, the distant, the shadowy, and the infinite, -Robinson Crusoe's lonely island, the Arabian wonders, fairy fictions, fables without the “morals," which are skipped with better wisdom than they were put there, or travels in far-off lands. These things wear away as the work of life comes on, and, unhappily, the loving, faithful, imaginative spirit wears away too. The imagination is suffered to grow torpid, instead of being cultivated into a wiser activity, and our souls become materialized and sophisticated. There is enough in life to make us practical, but what we more need is to study how to be wisely visionary, to carry the freshness and feelings of childhood and this has been said to be a characteristic of genius) into the mature reason, for

* Talfourd's Literary Sketches and Letters, being the Final Memorials of Charles Lamb, p. 255.

We live by admiration, hope, and love;
And, even as these are well and widely fixed,

In dignity of being, we ascend. This is the poetic process of our spiritual growth, and when the poet teaches or chastens, he, at the same time, elevates and brings forth into life and light all of great and good that lies hidden in our nature. “Wouldst thou,” says that earnest but rigid writer, Carlyle, "plant for eternity, then plant into the deep, infinite faculties of man his fantasy and heart; wouldst thou plant for year and day, then plant into his shallow, superficial faculties, his self

Excursion, collective ed.-587.

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