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of passages that the lowest prostitute would be ashamed to read aloud in the stews. Therefore, let them rot. We have not seen that volume of the Family Dramatists which contains Massinger. But if made fit for female reading, his plays must be mutilated and mangled out of all like. ness to the original wholes. But to free them even from the grossest impurities, without destroying their very life, is impossible ; and it would be far better to make a selection of fine passages, after the manner of Lamb's specimens--but with a severer eye-than to attempt in vain to preserve their character as plays, and at the same time to expunge all that is too disgusting, perhaps, to be dan. gerous to boys and virgins. Full-grown men may read what they choose-perhaps without suffering from it; but the modesty of the young clear eye must not be profaned —and we cannot, for our own part, imagine a family old English dramatist.
And here again bursts upon us the glory of the Greek drama. The Athenians were as wicked, as licentious, as polluted, and much more so, we hope, than ever were the Englishers; but they debased not with their gross vices their glorious tragedies. Nature in her higher moods alone, and most majestic aspects, trode their stage. Buf. foons, and ribalds, and zanies, and “ rude indecent clowns,” were confined to comedies; and even there they too were idealized, and resembled not the obscene samples that so often sicken us in the midst of “the acting of a dreadful thing” in our theatres. They knew that “ with other mi. nistrations, thou, O Nature !" teachest thy handmaid Art to soothe the souls of thy congregated children-congregated to behold her noble goings-on, and to rise up and depart elevated by the transcendent pageant. The Tragic Muse was in those days a priestess-tragedies were religious ceremonies—for all the ancestral stories they celebrated were under consecration—the spirit of the ages of heroes and demi-gods descended over the vast amphitheatre; and thus were Æschylus, and Sophocles, and Euripides, the guardians of the national character, which, we all know, was, in spite of all it suffered under, high indeed, and for ever passionately enamoured of all the forms of greatness. . Forgive us—spirit of Shakspeare! that seem'st to animate that high-brow'd bust—if indeed we have offer'd any show of irreverence to thy name and nature—for now, in the noiselessness of midnight, to our awed but loving hearts do both appear divine! Forgive us we beseech theethat on going to bed—which we are just about to do—we may be able to compose ourselves to sleep and dream of Miranda and Imogen, and Desdemona and Cordelia. Fa. ther revered of that holy family! by the blue light in the eyes of Innocence we beseech thee to forgive us !-Ha! what old ghost art thou_clothed in the weeds of more than mortal misery-mad, mad, mad-come and gonewas it Lear?
We have found, then--it seems—at last—the object of our search-a great poem-ay-four great poemsLear-Hamlet-Othello-Macbeth. And was the revealer of those high mysteries in his youth a deer-stealer in the parks of Warwickshire, a link.boy in London streets ? And died he in his grand climacteric in a dimmish sort of a middle-sized tenement on Stratford-on-Avon, of a surfeit from an over-dose of home-brewed humming ale! Such is the tradition.
Had we a daughter-an only daughter-we should wish her to be
“ Like heavenly Una with her milk-white lamb."
In that one line has Wordsworth done unappreciable ser. vice to Spenser. He has improved upon a picture in the Fairy Queen-making “the beauty still more beauteous," by a single touch of a pencil dipped in moonlight-or in sunlight tender as Luna's smiles. Through Spenser's many nine-lined stanzas the lovely lady glides along the wild-and our eyes follow in delight the sinless wanderer. In Wordsworth's one single celestial line we behold her but for a moment of time, and a point of space--an immortal idea at one gaze occupying the spirit.
And is not the Fairy Queen a great poem? Like the Excursion, it is at all events a long one " slow to begin, and never ending.” That fire was a fortunate one in which so many books of it were burnt. If no such fortunate fire ever took place, then let us trust that the moths drillingly devoured the manuscript and that 'tis all safe. Purgatorial pains—unless indeed they should prove eternal-are insufficient punishment for the impious man who invented allegory. If you have got any thing to say, sir, out with it-in one or another of the many forms of speech employed naturally by creatures to whorn God has given the gift of " discourse of reason.” But as you hope to be saved, (and remember your soul is immortal,) beware of misspending your life in perversely attempting to make shadow light and light shadow. Wonderful analogies there are among all created things-material and immaterial--and millions so fine that poets alone discern them
and sometimes succeed in showing them in words. Most spiritual region of poetry-and to be visited at rare times and seasons-nor long there ought bard to abide. For a few moments let the veil of allegory be drawn before the face of truth, that the light of its beauty may shine through it with a softened charm-dim and drearlike the moon gradually obscuring in its own halo on a dewy night. Such air-woven veil of allegory is no human invention. The soul brought it with her when
“ Trailing clouds of glory she did come
From heaven which is her home.” Sometimes, now and then, in moods strange and highobey the bidding of the soul-and allegorize ; but live not all life-long in an allegory_even as Spenser did-Spen. ser the divine-for lo, and behold! he with his heavenly genius—and brighter visions never met mortal eyes than his “what is he but “ a dreamer among men,” and what may save that wondrous poem from the doom of the dust?
To this conclusion must we come at last that in the English language there is but one great poem. What ! said you not that Lear, and Hamlet, and Othello, and Macbeth, were all great poems? We did--but therein we erred--for all the four have undergone—in the hands of their creator-disfiguration. There is—we repeat it-but one great poem alone in our tongue-Paradise Lost. So go-and
“Gaze on that mighty orb of song,
The divine Milton."
“ Fluxit-Domine!” The sand in the hourglass is still. “ To-morrow for severer thought"-as old Crewe has it at the conclusion of his Lewesdon Hill—but now for bedas he was then “ for breakfast”-yet not till we have said our prayers. Let no man hope to sleep soundly-for many nights on end—who forgets that knees were given along with many other purposes-for genuflection-and that among all mankind is the natural posture of thanks. giving. Eugete et valete, amicæ ! formosissimæ !
BY AN EARLY RISER.
(Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1833.)
KNOWLEDGE is Power. So is Talent-so is Geniusso is Virtue. Which is the greatest ? It might seem hard to tell ; but united, they go forth conquering and to conquer. Nor is that union rare. Kindred in nature, they love to dwell together in the same “ palace of the soul.” Remember Milton. But too often they are disunited ; and then, though still powers, they are but feeble, and their defeats are frequent as their triumphs. What! is it so even with Virtue ? It is, and it is not. Virtue may reign without the support of Talent and Genius ; but her counsellor is Conscience, and what is Conscience but Reason rich by birthright in knowledge directly derived from the heaven of heavens beyond all the stars?
And may Genius and Talent indeed be, conceive, and execute, without the support of Virtue ? You will find that question answered in the following lines, which deserve the name of philosophical poetry—and are divine.
Talents, 'tis true, quick, various, bright, has God
Such is the natural constitution of humanity; and in the