« PreviousContinue »
linked and woven with other scenes and remembrances, to be forgotten. When I think of you, reclining against some old tree in the play-grounds, surrounded by your young friends, as you used to call them, doling from moist lips the poetic garnerings of your unwasted treasury, collected at your own Harrow, and in time of boyhood, or in moments of partial ebriety, with bitter tears recounting the past, then comes up again all that familiar group of familiar faces, and with these a thousand scenes in which they bore their part. Your draughts, it is true, were deep, and often repeated; and for that reason, it is well that you flourished when you did. Perhaps no mercy had been shown you now; no milk of human kindness mingled in your cup; no mantle of charity thrown over your sins. Methinks, if I could find out by what hedge or by-way you were laid, I should be inclined to drag some rough slab upon the mound, and in no
• Florid prose, or honeyed lies of rhyme,' but in good old style, and in the spirit of all truth, I would scratch upon it thus :
Listen! A stately bark, at early morn,
A worthless hulk, lay on the sleeping waters.
I am often disposed to sum up all my philosophy in the simple precept, 'See things as they are.' If I were to reduce my efforts to à single aim, it would be to live in reality;' to be rid of the phantasms and illusions of life. Mankind seem, to my view, so little aware of the realities in and about them, that to this, their most prevailing error, I ascribe their greatest misfortunes. I behold the world in pursuit of gilded phantoms, in love with shadows, and I ask if there is, indeed, nothing real, substantial, intrinsic, to embrace. I behold man the sport of chance ; his character the result of adventitious circumstances. I see him truckling to the world; dependent upon its capricious charities for his happiness; and I see him become the image of its frown. I see him in the hot chase for wealth, station, fame, and either sinking on the course, or dropping for ever from his impotent grasp the prize, but just now, and so hardly, won. And I ask again, Is there no reality ; nothing permanent, nothing sure, which man can obtain ? Is he, alas! the creature of times and situations; more transitory than the world, and its slave? Is happiness a goddess in pursuit, but a cloud in possession ?'
To live in reality, is to keep constantly before the mind, as the guide of life, the sober convictions of the understanding. It is to know at all times, what we know surely, at some. It is to feel our con
victions, and to give their relative importance to every object, which we know belongs to it, and which are of infinite reality and worth.
I know that I have a soul; that it is immortal; that its highest happiness depends upon its purity; that its worth is beyond all account; that it is capable of endless improvement, and that its purity and progress are committed to my care. Shall I forget or neglect this truth, because I have appetites, and the world has pleasures ? — because the trust demands watchfulness and industry, and because indolence is enticing ? Shall I dim this glorious reality with the reeling eye of sensuality and passion ? Shall I delude myself with the fancied permanency and sufficiency of the world's delights ? Shall I strive to reason away what I know, and make the uncertainty of life's duration an uncertainty of its end ? Shall I make my own and my soul's interests separate concerns, and evade its demands, soothe its clamors, and cheat it of its sustenance; and live, with what poor peace I may, with this mysterious, inward something, this different self, that ever dogs my steps, and with shrouded form and hollow voice, blames my ways, warns my councils, and curses memory?
The same questions, which are their own answer, might be put with regard to the lofty relations of man to God — to futurity. Can a man be said to live in reality, who regards these so carelessly, as to surrender his highest privileges for the paltry indulgence of passion, more immediate, but of infinite worthlessness ?.
When I ask to live in reality, I do not so much pray for a deeper conviction of the great truths of life and religion for I think that myself and a good portion of the world believe them fully — as for that self-possession of soul, that dignity of mind, which never loses sight of its lofty relations; which permits not the pleasures of the world to beguile it of its gaze at reality. We need that fixedness and earnestness of view, which no allurements can distract; no mists bedim; no shadows deceive; no spectres scare. We need the courage to look the realities of life full in the face, note their features, and recognise their acquaintance, for ever. If the world is indeed a stage; if we all sit gazing but upon painted boards, diamonds of glass, and paper crowns, with vulgar men and women for kings and queens, the light of fætid tallow for the illumination of heaven, and horns, and trumpets, and fiddles, for angelic choirs, let us amuse ourselves with the exhibition, but without forgetting that it is not real ; that we are not indeed in the regions of bliss and peace; that it is all a fleeting show. Let us look, now and then, at least, at the spectacle by day-light, and strain our eyes, if need be, to see through the golden foil
, and the tinsel drapery, of mock royalty. Let us not forget, that the sun in heaven is worth, countless times, all the beams that ever streamed from the torch of art, and that the green earth outvalues, by more than can be told, all the Elysian fields that fancy and cunning ever devised.
I willingly enter the lists with all whose art it is to deceive the world, and whose policy supports the source of its delusion, by gloryfying a false imagination. The matter-of-fact man,' in the true use of that language, is mine, before all the poets. Imagination, when devoted to its native purposes, is divine; and he who lives in reality, needs it, and has it, most. If imagination is that power which tricks out in borrowed and unsubstantial finery the nudity and homeliness of all things present, and thus decoys the affections of man toward unsatisfying and transitory objects; if it teaches him to transform tremendous and ever-present realities into dim and distant shapes, lost in the importance which it lends to the unsubstantial yet unspiritual forms that flatter his passions, and gratify his appetites, then it is the greatest foe to human happiness.
Not such the beneficent goddess that befriends the man of reality; who strives to see things as they are, and to give their due importance to his respective relations to God, the world, and his own nature. Imagination is the genius of Faith. She embodies and makes alive and present, distant, passive, and impersonal objects. She transports us to the golden streets of the heavenly city. She bears up the fervent spirit upon her downy and rapid wings, and sets it down at the very gate of heaven. She assists us to rob death and the grave of their natural and mortal horror, by presenting to the mind the beauty, purity, and peace, of a life hereafter. She traverses ocean; pierces the past, and fastens her wings to unfledged thought, till it mounts and rises into form and presence. This is reality.
During all the time of the foregoing reflections, the play had been going on; the actors came and went, in due time and succession ; the scenes changed; the music struck up, and pit and galleries clapped their hands, and shouted. Kings were deluded and slain ; lovers were thwarted and miserable ; Hate planned, and Revenge accomplished. The whole matter was declared to be well done, and the papers said it was a wonderful performance. My evening's employment, though I had a good right to look at the pageant, having paid my admittance fee, was the foregoing reflections, which I have attempted to write out, for the benefit of the reader.
THE LOVE R's SONG
FROM 'KITTENHAWTEN: AN UNPUBLISHED POEM, BY THE LATE J. H. BRIGHT, ESQ.
Oh, it is sweet to sail the deep,
With the broad pennant gaily spread;
And the last blush of day hath fled;
To roam when only one is near;
The tale which Beauty stays to hear.
That guides him on the stormy wave;
It shines upon his sea.wrought grave :
Which beams from under Beauty's brow,
The given and exchangéd vow.
From the main-royal tops on high,
'Land! land! the wished-for land is nigh!
When Beauty at my side shall stand,
To me a willing heart and hand!'
Ev'n could I hope that when this clay was cold,
Start as I hear its notes discordant ring;
Oh Nature, mighty mother! who didst mould
This clay, which clogs me, that I may not fiy
THE WHITE SQUALL.
A SKETCH : BY ROBERT BURTS, ESQ., U. S. N., AUTHOR OF
THE SCOURGE OF THE OCEAN.'
All hail to thee, dark blue Ocean! Once more I sweep along thy flashing waters; once more I gaze upon thy broad expanse, whence the eye can turn to naught but heaven, as if indeed there were nothing beneath it, whose sublimity could rival thine. Nor is there! Of all nature's terrestrial wonders, thou art the most stupendous, the most imposing, the most beautiful, the most terrible! I have stood upon the loftiest mountains of the earth, and from the eternal snows that cap their summits, have looked down upon the green hills and fertile valleys, that spread smiling in the sunshine below me; and my soul bowed down in acknowledgment of the unwonted loveliness of the
Then as I gazed, dense clouds gathered around me, and all below was shut out from my vision. A broad curtain of impenetrable haze, through which the lightning was flashing, and along which the thunder was rolling, was alone before me; and as I stood above all this, like some solitary being in the infinity of space, I trembled, for it was fearfully magnificent. Again, I have looked from the shores of the most beautiful river of my native land. Before me swept the richlyfreighted argosies, spreading their white wings on high, curling the crystal waters around their prows, and sending their gay banners aloft, to coquet with the summer breeze; behind me, rose the tall spires and glittering domes of a proud, a glorious city; and far as the