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rich tapestry as divers poets have done ; neither with so pleasant rivers, fruitful trees, sweet-smelling flowers,—nor whatsoever else may make the too-much-loved earth more lovely.”
But, notwithstanding that this treatise is perfect in itself, it is difficult to make selections from its pages, that will do justice to the eloquence of its author. It is good that the reader peruse it for himself, - it is better that he make it his study: If he be friendly to the Muses' skill, he will look even more complacently on their votaries ; and if he have ever been soothed by the “ Eternal Melodies," he will love to linger with the Arcadian teacher among the rocks and pines—the springs and fountains, which are their unchanging home.
To look upon the reverse of the picture is not unfair. Let us use Sir Philip Sidney's words :
“ If you be born so near the dull-making cataract of Nilus, that you cannot hear the planet-like music of poetry; if you have so earth-creeping a mind, that it cannot lift itself up to look to the sky of poetry,--or rather, by a certain rustical disdain, will become such a mome, as to be a Momus of poetry; then, though I will not wish unto you the ass's ears of Midas, nor to be driven by a poet's verses, as Bubonax was, to hang himself; nor to be rhymed to death, as is said to be done in Ireland; yet thus much curse I must send you in the behalf of all poets ; that while you live, you live in love, and never get favour, for lacking skill of a sonnet; and when you die, your memory die from the earth for want of an epitaph.”
Ye who would avert such doom, read Spenser and Milton, and Burns and Wordsworth ! While
upon the subject of this most meritorious essay, we must remark upon a passage which ever seemed to us to bear a strong affinity to another in the Phædo :
“ This purifying of wit, this enriching of memory, enabling of judgment, and enlarging of conceit, which commonly we call learning, under what name soever it come forth, or to what immediate end soever it be directed; the final end is, to lead and draw us to as high a perfection as our degenerate souls made worse, by their clay lodgings, can be capable of.” Thus Sir Philip Sidney, and similarly Plato :
μη γαρ ουχ αύτη ή η ορθή προς αρετην αλλαγή, ηδονας πρός ήδονας και λύπας προς λύπας και φόβον προς φόβον καταλλάττεσθαι, , και μείζω πρός ελάττω, ώσπερ νομίσματα, αλλ' ή εκείνο μόνον το νόμισμα ορθόν, ανθ' ου δεί άπαντα ταύτα καταλλάττεσθαι, φρόνησις.
Sir Philip Sidney was one of those men who are born, not for their own generation, but for all time. To the age in which he lived, and to the mode of writing which was then prevalent, must we ascribe the many faults which are to be discovered in the works which he has bequeathed--as a warrior's legacy-to posterity. His poetry is deformed by conceits and extravagancies, but there is much of the beautiful to redeem them. His Arcadia, partaking of the puerility of the imported school which equally
distinguished and disfigured the prose-writers of the Elizabethan era, is not doomed to remain for ever on the shelves of our great libraries. For there are many exquisite things to be found in it, and many a wreath to be twined by those who would garland its pages. As the pearl-fisher rescues the precious gem from the uncomely shell of the oyster, and sets it to the adorning of some peerless brow, so shall some intellect, gifted with taste and adequate discernment, snatch from amidst ponderous and dusty tomes, this blossom of an all-poetic soil.
We are writing of Sir Philip Sidney—the flower of chivalrythe warrior-bard of England. On such a subject it is almost impossible to be calm. We behold him fastened with the silken cords of love, and longing to repose as in the lap of some fair Dalilah. And the Muses are his companions, and Venus in her dove-drawn chariot, more stately than Juno with her snow-flaked swans. Anon, he is active on the field of battle, mighty like the son of Thetis ; but, generous in the arms of death, slaking the thirst of the wounded soldier, with the draught which should have bubbled at his own parched lips.
And Penshurst still remains; though Philip fell upon the plain of Zutphen, and the blood of Algernon flowed upon the scaffold. The oak which was planted at the birth of the former, is not destroyed. We were wrong in our affirmation; for the stately tree still flourishes. Howitt, in his interesting " Visits to Remarkable Places," has substantiated the fact.
The groves of Penshurst. Sidney here was born."-SOUTHEY. Among those groves-haunts of the woodland choir-was the classic muse of Spenser fostered; and Ben Jonson, with his adoration of Grecian Poesy,-meet associate of the accomplished Sidney. And in a later day, Waller pined there for his Sacharissa, —wailing the lot of unrequited love, and hopeless for the charms of a proud beauty.
r. Phillisides is dead. O luckless age!
O widow world; O brookes and fountains cleere!
So sang Edmund Spenser,--and so Sir Philip Sidney died, whose greatest praise might have been inscribed on his monument, that, when wounded on the field of battle, as he was being borne to his tent, he resigned to another the draught proffered to him. self, with the memorable sentence
"THY NECESSITIES ARE YET GREATER THAN MINE.
A PICTURE OF CONSTANCY.
'Tis true our sex are known as rovers,
Like wint'ry sun-beam on her brow,
That wasted in the shade below.
The sire that lapped her infant head,
His grave with fairy tread :
She was a fair and cherub child -
The flowers that open to the sun,
Mingling their channels into one,-
An airy form that scarce would press
To earth the grass on which she trod;
Some lover in his lone abode-
C. B. W
A ROMANCE FROM WESTMINSTER-HALL.
A STRONG and attractive interest is sometimes thrown about that usually most dry and barren of all proceedings—a judicial contest for disputed property. Generally, it is only the rival claimants who, for the tedious progress of the wearying suit, feel aught beyond an instinctive disgust: and the mass of mankind are too much engrossed in the multifarious pursuits of individual enterprise, to look but with cold indifference on struggles for the issue of which they have no personal concern. Yet, when (as rarely indeed is the case) peculiar circumstances give an air of romance to the contest for an inheritance, the strength of human sympathy, which is never more likely to be roused, or more powerfully enlisted, than in a combat for the right—will be found strikingly exemplified even in the ordinarily chilling precincts of a civil court.
By nothing is our interest more often excited, than by the melancholy retrospection so commonly associated with the emphatic monosyllable “ last;" and if it be applied to some venerable vestige of antiquity-above all, to some valued memento of a nation's early days,fondly do we attach ourselves to the relic, and reluctantly bid it adieu. That reverential regard for antiquity–which we love to think of as a fine feature in the national character—is most remarkably manifested in the forms of our law, which from age to age are preserved, as though in a shrine, consecrated to the past ;- longest unaffected by centuries of vicissitude; the most enduring of those links by which, in common customs and ordinary observances, far distant generations are united ; — they stand by themselves—alone-like monuments bearing the aspect, and speaking the language of times long since gone by. And certainly, if in anything this tenacious regard for what is ancient and prescriptive should be sacredly maintained, it is in these legal institutions, on the stability of which their value mainly depends, and upon the integrity of which alone the great social fabric securely rests. Still, the mutability which works on all things human, at last does reach even to these strong fortresses of antiquity; and one after another, they slowly, but surely, moulder away. With the successive epochs in a nation's history, the nation's character changes ; the national forms, which ever must eventually index the national spirit, alter too: in the citadel of the law, the alteration, though more tardy, is not less inevitable; and even there, the precedents of the past are to the improvements of posterity ultimately sacrificed.
Few of those even perhaps not unversed in legal technicalities, will know what the “Writ of Right" once was, and whence it was derived. To many at least it may be interesting to learn, that among the oldest institutions of our law, there existed a proceeding-introduced into this country by the Norman.conqueror, but descended from an age so remote, that of its origin, historic research has discovered no memorial—for the discussion (among others) of questions relative to real property; and the manner in which these “Writs of Right,” as they were termed, were tried, was by “battle,” according to the following description, furnished by the old chroniclers of the times.
The “ tenant,” that is, the holder of the disputed property, and the “demandant," or the rival claimant, selected champions, who, on a certain day, came into a piece of ground sixty feet square, enclosed with lists ; on one side being a court erected for the Judges of the Common Pleas, who attended in their scarlet robes, and a Bar for the learned Sergeants in the law. The court sat at sun-rise; and proclamation being made for the parties, their champions were introduced (by two knights in coats of armour), with red sandals, barelegged from the knee downwards, bare-headed, and with arms bare to the elbow. The weapons allowed were batons, or staves “of an ell long," and a four-cornered leather target; so that death rarely ensued in these combats. They each swore to the truth of the cause they undertook, and took this oath against sorcery and enchantment: “ Hear this, ye Justices, that I have this day neither eat, drunk, nor have upon me bone, stone, ne grass, ne any enchantment, sorcery, ne witchcraft, whereby the law of God may be abused, or the law of the devil exalted. - So help me God and his saints." The “ battle " then began; and the combatants were bound to fight “till the stars appeared in the evening;" and if the champion of the tenant could keep his ground till then, he had supported his cause; if either party yielded, and uttered “ craven," with that fatal word he lost his right, and was for ever disgraced. The piety and wisdom of our ancient legistators displaced this remnant of Gothic barbarism in the reign of Henry II., by the substitution--as an alternative, however, only-of the “Grand Assize” for the “ Trial by Battle,” which so lately as the reign of Elizabeth indeed we are not sure if not much later—was demanded, and granted; and which certainly was abolished by law at comparatively a recent period. By the Grand Assize, the Sheriff summoned four knights, who chose twelve others; and these together formed the Recognitors” by whom the cause was tried. Even this became, in the progress of centuries, too“ clumsy" and “inconvenient” to keep pace with the “ march of intellect;" and the session before last, the improving spirit of our legislature swept away this relic of old English law, without a dissentient voice--for none heard of the measure, and, amidst the contests of political partisans, few would have cared about it; but not without some regretful thoughts from such as loved the harmless remnants of antiquity, and would preserve them, as useless and venerable Gothic ruins, if only for antiquity's sake. What would be thought of a man who would throw away a heirloom, which had been for many a generation in his line, because it grew old and useless ? Would he not be thought of somewhat as a wretch who had cast from him an old and faithful friend that could no longer serve himn ? Is less respect due to national than to individual ancestors ? We say, No! and we went sorrowfully to witness the trial of the last "Writ of Right.”
Gladly did we find that the circumstances of the trial itself invested it with no ordinary interests, – they were really romantic. The possessor of an immense estate ; the lord of a princely revenue, which from father to son had for three generations been transmitted through the uninterrupted line of inheritance, was suddenly disturbed by a rival claim, -urged within a few hours only of the expiration of the