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next to the Almighty? She needs no policies, nor stratagems, nor licensings to make her victorious ; those are the shifts and the defences that error uses against her power. Give her but room, and do not bind her when she sleeps."

Jeremy Taylor, the great ornament of English pulpit eloquence, is the fit successor of John Milton ; yet no two writers, each being so admirable, can be more different. The prelate, with his inimitable grace, his fertility, and his fancy; the poet, with his fulness, his grandeur, and his force. They who would enjoy the pleasure of seeing the life and works of Bishop Taylor related and analysed by a kindred mind, should read the charming work of my friend Mr. Willmott. I content myself with extracting one splendid passage from his sermon on the Marriage Ring.

“ Marriage is the proper scene of piety and patience, of the duty of parents and the charity of relations; here kindness is spread abroad, and love is united and made firm as a centre. Marriage is the nursery of heaven. The virgin sends prayers to God, but she carries but one soul to Him ; but the state of marriage fills up the numbers of the elect, and hath in it the labour of love and the delicacies of friendship, the blessing of society, and the union of hands and hearts. It hath in it less of beauty but more of safety than the single life; it hath more ease but less danger; it is more merry and more sad ; is fuller of sorrows and fuller of joys; it lies under more burdens, but is supported by all the strengths of love and charity, and those burdens are delightful.

“ Marriage is the mother of the world, and preserves kingdoms, and fills cities and churches, and heaven itself. Celibate, like the fly in the heart of an apple, dwells in a perpetual sweetness, but sits alone, and is confined and dies in singularity; but marriage, like the useful bee, builds a house, and gathers sweetness from every flower, and labours, and unites into societies and republics, and sends out colonies, and feeds the world with delicacies, and obeys their King, and keeps order, and exercises many virtues, and promotes the interest of mankind, and is that state of good things to which God hath designed the present constitution of the world.”

Mr. Ruskin's name is not unworthy of being included in this illustrious catalogue. Nothing in modern literature was more remarkable than the appearance of the young Oxford graduate in the great field of art, attacking with fearless boldness all that had been consecrated by the veneration of ages; demolishing old idols, setting up new; often no doubt right, sometimes probably wrong; but always striking, always eloquent, always true to his own convictions and his own noble nature. I am too ignorant of his great subject to venture any opinion upon particular decisions; but it is certain that nothing but good can result from drawing, as he has done, the attention of the English public to the merits of their living countrymen, and sending the patrons of Art from the picture-dealer to the painter: nothing but good either to the taste or the heart from his own written pictures, holy, and pure, and bright, as those of his favourite Wordsworth. Many passages of “ The Modern Painters” are really poems in their tenderness, their sentiment, and their grandeur. Who except a poet could put, as he has done, life into a flower, in his exquisite description of the Soldanella of the Alps, a coarse and common plant, when seen in luxuriant health in a fertile valley, but rising into a touching, almost an ideal grace, when languishing through a faint and feeble existence, on the extreme borders of those eternal snows, where it shows, like a memory of beauty, a consolation and a hope amidst the horrors and desolation of a stern and barren world.

But the greatest triumph of Mr. Ruskin is that long series of cloud pictures, unparalleled, I suppose, in any language, whether painted or written. I transcribe the fine opening of these magnificent chapters :


“ It is a strange thing how little, in general, people know about the sky. It is the part of creation in which nature has done more for the sake of pleasing man, more for the sole and evident purpose of talking

, to him, and teaching him, than in any other of her works; and it is just the part in which we least attend to her. There are not many of her other works in which some more material or essential purpose

than the mere pleasing of man is not answered by every part of their organization ; but every essential purpose of the sky might, so far as we know, be answered if, once in three days or thereabouts, a great ugly black rain-cloud were brought up over the blue, and everything well watered, and so all left blue again till next time, with, perhaps, a film of morning and evening mist for dew. And, instead of this, there is not a moment of any day of our lives when Nature is not

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producing scene after scene, picture after picture, glory after glory, and working still upon such exquisite and constant principles of the most perfect beauty, that it is quite certain that it is all done for us, and intended for our perpetual pleasure. And every man, wherever placed, however far from other sources of interest or of beauty, has this doing for him constantly. The noblest scenes of the earth can be seen and known but by few ; it is not intended that man should live always in the midst of them : he injures them by his presence; he ceases to feel them if he be always with them: but the sky is for all; bright as it is, it is not too bright nor good for human nature's daily food ;' it is fitted in all its functions for the

perpetual comfort and exalting of the heart, for the soothing it, and purifying it from its dross and dust. Sometimes gentle, sometimes capricious, sometimes awful-never the same for two moments together; almost human in its passions, almost spiritual in its tenderness, almost divine in its infinity, its appeal to what is immortal in us is as distinct as its ministry of chastisement or of blessing to what is mortal, is essential. And yet we never attend to it, we never make it a subject of thought, but as it has to do with our animal sensations; we look upon all by which it speaks to us more clearly than to brutes, upon all which bears witness to the intention of the Supreme, that we are to receive more from the covering vault than the light and the dew which we share with the weed and the worm, only as a succession of meaningless and monotonous accident, too common and too vain to be worthy of a moment of watchfulness, or a glance of admiration. If, in our moments of utter


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idleness and insipidity, we turn to the sky as a last resource, which of its phenomena do we speak of? One says it has been wet, and another it has been windy, and another it has been warm. Who, among the whole chattering crowd, can tell me of the forms and the precipices of the chain of tall white mountains that gilded the horizon at noon yesterday? Who saw the narrow sunbeam that came out of the south, and smote upon their summits, until they melted and mouldered away in a dust of blue rain? Who saw the dance of the dead clouds, when the sunlight left them last night, and the west wind blew them before it, like withered leaves ? All has passed unregretted or unseen ; or, if the apathy be ever shaken off, even for an instant, it is only by what is gross, or what is extraordinary; and yet it is not in the broad and fierce manifestations of the elemental energies, not in the clash of the hail, nor the drift of the whirlwind, that the highest characters of the sublime are developed. God is not in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the still small voice. They are but the blunt and the low faculties of our nature, which can only be addressed through lampblack and lightning. It is in quiet and subdued passages of unobtrusive majesty, the deep, and the calm, and the perpetual—that whịch must be sought ere it is seen, and loved ere it is understood

things which the angels work out for us daily, and yet vary eternally, which are never wanting,

never wanting, and never repeated, which are to be found always, yet each found but once. It is through these that the lesson of devotion is chiefly taught, and the blessing of beauty given.”

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