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'Tis not easy to know, seeing it is so difficult to define it, whether this or that youth who thinks he has genius, has it or not; the only proof he may have given of it is, perhaps, a few copies of verses which breathe the animal gladness of young life, and are tinged with tints of the beautiful, which joy itself, more imaginative than it ever again will be, steals from the sunset; but sound sense, and judgment, and taste, which is sense and judgment of all finest feelings and thoughts, and the love of light dawn. ing on the intellect, and ability to gather into knowledge facts near and from afar, till ihe mind sees systems, and in them understands the phenomena which, when looked at singly, perplexed the pleasure of the sight-these, and aptitudes and capacities and powers such as these, are indeed of promise, and more than promise ; they are already performance, and justify in minds thus gifted, and in those who watch their workings, hopes of a wiser and happier future when the boy shall be a man.
Perhaps too much honour, rather than too little, has been shown by this age to mediocre poetry and other works of fiction. A few gleams of genius have given some writers of little worth a considerable reputation; and great waxed the pride of poetasters. But true poetry burst in beauty over the land, and we became intolerant of “ false glitter." Fresh sprang its flowers from the “ dædal earih,” or seemed, they were so surpassingly beautiful, as if spring had indeed descended from heaven, " veiled in a shower of shadowing roses ;” and no longer could we suffer young gentlemen and ladies, treading among the profusion to gather the glorious scatterings, and weaving them into fantastic or even tasteful garlands, to present them to us, as if they had been raised from the seed of their own genius, and entitled therefore 6 to bear their name in the wild woods." This flower-gathering, pretty pastime though it be, and altogether innocent, fell into disrepute; and then all such florists began to complain of being neglected, or despised, or persecuted, and their friends to lament over their fate, the fate of all genius, “ in amorous ditties all a summer's day.”
Besides the living poets of highest rank, are there - not many whose claims to join the sacred band have been allowed, because their lips, too, have sometimes been touched with a fire from heaven? Second-rate indeed ! Aye, well for those who are third, fourth, or fisih-rateknowing where sit Homer, Shakspeare, and Millon. Round about Parnassus run many parallel roads, with forests of “ cedar and branching palm" between, overshadowing the sunshine on each magnificent level with a sense of some. thing more sublime still nearer the forked summit; and each band, so that they be not ambitious overmuch, in their own region may wander or repose in grateful bliss. Thousands look up with envy from “ the low-lying fields of the beautiful land” immediately without the line that goes wavingly asweep round the base of the holy mountain, separating it from the common earth. What clamour and what din from the excluded crowd! Many are heard there to whom nature has been kind, but they have not yet learned 6 to know themselves,” or they would retire, but not afar off, and in silence adore. And so they do ere long, and are happy in the sight of the beauty still more beauteous” revealed to their fine perceptions, though to them was not given the faculty that by combining in spiritual passion creates. But what has thither brought the self-deceived, who will not be convinced of their delusion, even were Homer or Milion's very self to frown on them with eyes no longer dim, but angry in their brightness like lowering stars ?
But we must beware-perhaps too late-of growing unintelligible, and ask you, in plainer terms, if you do not think that by far the greatest number of those who raise an outcry against the injustice of the world to men of genius, are persons of the meanest abilities, who have all their lives been foolishly fighting with their stars? Their demons have whispered to them not “ have a taste," but “ you have genius,” and the world gives the demons the lie. Thence anger, spite, rancour, and envy eat 'their hearts, and they rail “ against the Lord's anointed.” They set up idols of clay, and fall down and worship them-or idols of brass, more worthless than clay ; or they perversely, and in hatred, not in love, pretend reverence for the fair and good, because, forsooth, placed by man's in. gratitude too far in the shade, whereas man's pity has, in
deep compassion, removed the objects of their love, because of their impersections not blameless, back in among the veiling shade, that their beauty might still be visible, while their deformities were hidden in “a dim religious light.”
Let none of the sons or daughters of genius hearken to such outcry but with contempt—and at all times with suspicion, when they find themselves the objects of such lamentations. The world is not-at least does not wish to be an unkind, ungenerous, and unjust world. Many who think themselves neglected, are far more thought of than they suppose ; just as many who imagine the world ringing with their name, are in the world's ears nearly anonymous. Only one edition or two of your poems have sold—but is it not pretty well that five hundred or a thousand copies have been read, or glanced over, or looked at, or skimmed, or skipped, or fondled, or petted, or tossed aside, “ between malice and true love,” by ten times that number of your fellow.creatures, not one of whom ever saw your face ; while many millions of men, nearly your equals, and not a few millions your superiors far, have contentedly dropt into the grave, at the close of a long life, without having once " invoked the muse," and who would have laughed in your face, had you talked to them, even in their greatest glee, about their genius?
There is a glen in the Highlands (dearly beloved southrons, call on us, on your way through Edinburgh, and we shall delight to instruct you how to walk our moun. tains) called Glencro-very unlike Glenco. A good road winds up the steep ascent, and at the summit there is a stone seat, on which you read “ Rest and be thankful." You do so—and are not a little proud--if pedestrians-of your achievement. Looking up you see cliffs high above your head, (not the Cobbler,) and in the clear sky, as far above them, a balanced bird. You envy him his seem. ingly motionless wings, and wonder at his air-supporters. Down he darts, or aside he shoots, or right up he soars, and you wish you were an eagle. You have reached Rest-and-be-thankful, yet rest you will not, and thankful you will not be, and you scorn the mean inscription, which many a worthier wayfarer has blessed, while sitting on
that stone he has said “ give us this day our daily bread," eat his crust, and then walked away contented down to Cairndow. Just so has it been with you sitting at your appointed place-pretty high up-on the road to the summit of the Biforked Hill. You look up and see Byronthere “ sitting where you may not soar,”—and wish you were a great poet. But you are no more a great poet than an eagle eight feet from wing-tip to wing-tip-and will not rest and be thankful that you are a man and a Christian. Nay, you are more, an author of no mean repute; and your prose is allowed to be excellent, better far than the best paragraph in this our Morning Monologue. But you are sick of walking, and nothing will satisfy you but to fly. Be contented, as we are, with feet, and weep not for wings; and let us take comfort together from a cheering quotation from the philosophic Gray
" For they that creep and they that fly,
Just end where they began !
POETRY BY OUR NEW CONTRIBUTOR.
(Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1837.)
AGE is the season of imagination, youth of passion : and having been long young, shall we repine that we are now old ? They alone are rich who are sull of years, the Lords of Time's Treasury are all on the staff of Wis. dom ; their commissions are enclosed in furrows on their foreheads, and secured to them for life. Fearless of fate, and far above fortune, they hold their heritage by the great charter of nature for behoof of all her children who have not, like impatient heirs, to wait for their decease, for every hour dispenses their wealth, and their bounty is not a late bequest but a perpetual benefaction. Death but sanctifies their gifts to gratitude; and their worth is more clearly seen and profoundly felt within the solemn gloom of the grave.
And said we truly that age is the season of the imagi. nation? That youth is the season of passion your own beating and bounding hearts now tell you—your own boil. ing blood. Intensity is its characteristic; and it burns like a flame of fire, too often but to consume. Expansion of the soul is ours, with all its feelings and all its “thoughts, that wander through eternity ;” nor needeth then the spirit to have wings, for power is given her, beyond the dove or the eagle, and no weariness can touch her on that heaven. ward flight.
Yet we are all of "the earth earthy," and, young and old alike, must we love and honour our home. Your eyes are bright-ours are dim; but “it is the soul that sees," and this diurnal sphere” is visible through the mist of tears. In that light how more than beautiful-how very holy-even this world appears ? All sadness, save of sin,