« PreviousContinue »
And I rose from my matin orison,
And was stepping forth, when the loveliest form
She saw me not, but pass'd and flew
To the spot where the smooth stemm'd lindens grew,
And when she found no fond verse there,
She look'd such a playful and sweet despair,
Of such trembling words and hopes, as they
The maiden at first in terror shrank
Tis vain-'tis vain-I cannot tell
Of days and hours, when such scenes return'd
And then to fade-when my spirit burn'd
Like a light from heaven, and my heart's full swell Labour'd with its own load of sweetness,
-That light is quench'd and that heart grows coldSuch are the raptures of earthly mould!
One moonlight night, when the breeze was sleeping
And sigh'd as in sorrow, and said her youth
'Till my harp's sounds had dared intrude Upon her heavenly sanctitude.
Thus flew our days, when suddenly My royal master called on me
For he was willing that among
His palace high festivities,
My voice should raise an humble song,
Attend a mystic festival
And he had promised that all eyes
At last the evening came and each,
I took my harp and hastened on,
The majesty of Naples' king
Was seated, 'mid a shining ring
Of his high nobles-by his side
The young and princely Aragon
Stood smiling; and behind the throne,
Of silk, whose threads were mix'd with gold,
With jewel'd light, from every eye
Concealing the high mystery.
The king arose and drew aside
The folds, and every quick heart flutter'd,.
And a bright flush of youthful pride
Over the brow of Aragon,
Like the first light of morning shone,
And his lips moved, as though they utter'd
Some words his heart dare hardly own.
I saw the curtain slowly move,
Grew hot; I could not speak nor hear,
1 questioned if I was awake-
He gave it him and then besought her
My love's bright cheek the roses faded-
Ere I became what I had been.
THAT the dispositions of genius in early life presage its future character was long the feeling of antiquity. CICERO, in his Dialogue on Old Age, employs a beautiful analogy drawn from nature, marking her secret conformity in all things which have life and come from her hands; and the human mind is one of her plants." Youth is the vernal season of life, and the blossoms it then puts forth, are indications of those future fruits which are to be gathered in the succeeding periods." One of the masters of the human mind, after much previous observation of those who attended his lectures, would advise one to engage in political studies, exhorted another to compose history, elected these to be poets, and those to be orators. ISOCRATES believed that Nature had some concern in forming a man of genius, and tried to guess at her secret by detecting the first energetic inclination of the mind. Such, too, was the principle which guided the Jesuits, those other great masters in the art of education; who studied the characteristics of their pupils with such singular care, as to keep a secret register in their colleges, descriptive of their talents, and the natural turn of their dispositions. In some cases they guessed with remarkable felicity. They described Fontenelle, adolescens omnibus numeris absolutus et inter discipulos princeps," a youth accomplished in every respect, and the model for his companions;" but when they described the elder Crebellon, puer ingeniosus sed insignis nebulo," a shrewd boy, but a great rascal,'
they might not have erred so much as they appear to have done : for an impetuous boyhood showed the decision of a character which afterwards misanthropically settled in imaginary scenes of horror, and inventing characters of unparalleled atrocity.
In the old romance of King Arthur, when a cowherd comes to the King to request he would make his son a knight, "It is a great thing thou askest,' said Arthur, who enquired whether this intreaty proceeded from him or his son ? The old man's answer is remarkable; Of my son, not of me; for I have thirteen sons, and all these will fall to that labour I put them; but this child will not labour for me, for any thing that I and my wife will do; but always he will be shooting and casting darts, and glad for to see battles, and to behold knights, and always day and night he desireth of me to be made a knight.' The King commanded the cowherd to fetch all his sons; they were all shapen much like the poor man; but TOR was not like none of them in shape and in countenance, for he was much more than any of them. And so Arthur knighted him." This simple tale is the history of genius-the cowherd's twelve sons were like himself, but the unhappy genius in the family, who perplexed and plagued the cowherd and his wife and his twelve brothers, was the youth averse to the common labour, and dreaming on chivalry amidst a herd of cows.
A man of genius is thus dropt among the people, and has first to encounter the difficulties of ordinary men, deprived of that feeble ductility which adapts itself to the common destination. Parents are too often the victims of the decided propensity of a son to a Virgil or a Euclid; and the first step into life of a man of genius, is disobedience and grief. LILLY, our famous astrologer, has described the frequent situation of such a youth, like the cowherd's son who would be a knight. LILLY proposed to his father that he should try his fortune in the metropolis, where he expected that his learning and his talents would prove serviceable to him; the father, quite incapable of discovering the latent genius of his son in his studious dispositions, very willingly consented to get rid of him; for as LILLY proceeds, "I could not work, drive the plough, or endure any country labour; my father oft would say I was good for nothing,"_words which the fathers of so many men of genius have repeated.
In reading the memoirs of a man of genius, we often reprobate the domestic persecutions of those who opposed his inclinations. No poet but is moved with indignation at the recollection of the tutor at the Port Royal, thrice burning the romance which RACINE at length got by heart; no geometrician but bitterly inveighs against the father of PASCAL for not suffering him to study Euclid, which he at length understood without studying. The father of PETRARCH burnt the poetical library of his son amidst the shrieks, the groans, and the tears of the youth. Yet this neither converted Petrarch into a sober lawyer, nor deprived him of the Roman laurel. The uncle of ALFIERI, for more than twenty years, suppressed the poetical character of this noble bard; he was a poet without knowing to write a verse, and nature, like a hard creditor, exacted with redoubled interest, all the genius which the uncle had so long kept from her. Such are the men whose in
herent impulse no human opposition, and even no adverse education can deter from being great men.
Let us, however, be just to the parents of a man of genius; they have another association of ideas concerning him than we; we see a great man, they a disobedient child; we track him through his glory, they are wearied by the sullen resistance of his character. The career of genius is rarely that of fortune or happiness; and the father, who may himself be not insensible to glory, dreads lest his son be found amidst that obscure multitude, that populace of mean artists, selfdeluded yet self-dissatisfied, who must expire at the barriers of mediocrity.
If the youth of genius is struggling with a concealed impulse, he will often be thrown into a train of secret instruction which no master can impart. Hippocrates profoundly observed, that our natures have not been taught us by any master." That faculty which the youth of genius in after life shall display, may exist long ere it is perceived; and it will only make its own what is homogeneous with itself: We may often observe how the mind of this youth stubbornly rejects whatever is contrary to its habits, and alien to its affections. Of a solitary character -for solitariness is the wild nurse of his contemplations he is fancifully described by one of the race; and here fancies are facts:
"He is retired as noontide dew,
The romantic SIDNEY exclaimed, "Eagles fly alone, and they are but sheep which always herd together."
As yet this being, in the first rudiments of his sensations, is touched by rapid emotions, and disturbed by a vague restlessness; for him the images of nature are yet dim, and he feels before he thinks; for imagination precedes reflection. One truly inspired, unfolds the secret story:
"Endowed with all that nature can bestow,
O'er the mix'd treasures of his pregnant breast
From The Indicator."
THE idea generally conveyed to us by historians, of Thomas a Becket, is that of a mere haughty priest, who tried to elevate the religious power above the civil. But in looking more narrowly into the ac