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hand ; and enthusiasm with indifference and a diseased slowness to action on the other. For the conceptions of the mind may be so vivid and adequate, as to preclude that impulse to the realizing of them, which is strongest and most restless in those, who possess more than mere talent (or the faculty of appropriating and applying the knowledge of others) yet still want something of the creative, and selfsufficing power of absolute Genius. For this reason therefore, they are men of commanding genius. While the former rest content between thought and reality, as it were in an intermundium of which their own living spirit supplies the substance, and their imagination the evervarying form ; the latter must impress their preconceptions on the world without; in order to present them back to their own view with the satisfying degree of clearness, distinctness, and individuality. These in tranquil times are formed to exhibit a perfect poem in palace or temple or landscape-garden ; or a tale of romance in canals that join sea with sea, or in walls of rock, which shouldering back the billows imitate the power, and supply the benevolence of nature to sheltered navies ; or in aqueducts that arching the wide vale from mountain to mountain give a Palmyra to the desert. But alas ! in times of tumult they are the men destined to come forth as the shaping spirit of Ruing
to destroy the wisdom of ages in order to substitute the fancies of a day, and to change kings and kingd sms, as the wind shifts and shapes the clouds.f The records of biography seem to confirm this theory. The men of the greatest genius, as far as we can judge from their own works or from the accounts of their contemporaries, appear to have been of calm and tranquil temper, in all that related to themselves. In the inward assurance of permanent fame, they seem to have been either indifferent or resigned, with regard to immediate reputation. Through all the works of Chaucer there reigns a chearfulness, a manly hilarity, wbich makes it alınost impossible to doubt à correspondent habit of feeling in the author himself. Shakspeare's evenness and sweetness of temper were almost proverbiał in his own age. That this did not arise from ignorance of his own comparative greatness, we have abundant proof in his sonnets, which could scarcely have been
+ “Of old things all are over old,
Of good things none are good enough:
I too will have my kings, that take
WORDSWORTH's ROB ROY.
known to Mr. Pope,* when he asserted, that our great bard“ grew immortal in his own despite.” Speaking of one whom he had celebrated, and contrasting the duration of his works with that of his personal existence, Shakspeare adds :
“ Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
you entombed in men's eyes shall lie.
I have taken the first that occurred; but Shakspeare's readiness to praise his rivals, ore pleno, and the confidence of his own equality with
* Mr. Pope was under the common error of his age, an error, far from being sufficiently exploded even at the present day. It consists (as I explained at large, and proved in detail in my public lectures) in mistaking for the essentials of the Greek stage certain rules, which the wise poets imposed upon themselves, in order to render all the remaining parts of the drama consistent with those, that had been forced upon them by circumstances independent of their will; out of which circumstances the drama itself arose. The circumstances in the time of Shakspeare, which it was equally out of his power to alter, were different, and such as, in my opinion, allowed a far wider sphere, and a deeper and more human interest. Critics are too apt to forget, that rules are but means to au end ; consequently where the ends are dif
those whom he deem'd most' worthy of his praise, are alike manifested in the 86th sonnet.
“ Was it the proud full sail of his great verse
Bound for the praise of all-too-precious you,
his line, Then lack'd I matter, that enfeebled mine. In Spencer indeed, we trace a mind constitutionally tender, delicate, and, in comparison with his three great compeers, I had almost said, effeminate ; and this additionally saddened by the unjust persecution of Burleigh,
ferent, the rules must be likewise so. We must have ascertained what the end is, before we can determine what the rules ought to be. Judging under this impression, I did not hesitate to declare my full conviction, that the consummate judgement of Shakspeare, not only in the general construction, but in all the detail, of his dramas impressed me with greater wonder, than even the might of his genius, or the depth of his philosophy. The substance of these lectures I hope soon to publish ; and it is but a debt of justice to myself and my friends to notice, that the first course of lectures, which differed from the following courses only, by occasionally varying the illustrations of the same thoughts, was addressed to very numerous, and I need not add, respectable audiences at the royal institution, before Mr. Schlegel gave his lectures on the same subjects at Vienna.
and the severe calamities, which overwhelmed his latter days. These causes have diffused over all his compositions "a melancholy grace,” and have drawn forth occasional strains, the more pathetic from their gentleness. But no where do we find the least trace of irritability, and still less of quarrelsome or affected contempt of his censurers.
The same calmness, and even greater selfpossession, may be affirmed of Milton, as far as his poems, and poetic character are concerned. He reserved his anger, for the enemies of religion, freedom, and his country. My mind is not capable of forming a more august conception, than arises from the contemplation of this great man in his latter days : poor, sick, old, blind, slandered, persecuted,
“ Darkness before, and danger's voice behind," in an age in which he was as little understood by the party, for whom, as by that, against whom he had contended ; and among men before whom he strode so far as to dwarf himself by the distance ; yet still listening to the
usic of his own thoughts, or if additionally cheered, yet cheered only by the prophetic faith of two or three solitary individuals, he did nevertheless