Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

And low, where dawning day doth never peepe,
His dwelling is; there Tethys his wet bed
Doth ever wash, and Cynthia still doth steepe

In silver deaw his ever drouping bed,
Whiles sad Night over him her mantle black doth spred.

Whose double gates he findeth locked fast,
The one fayre framed of burnished yvory,
The other all with silver overcast;
And wakeful dogges before them farre doe lye,
Watching to banish care their enimy,
Who oft is wont to trouble gentle sleep.
By them the sprite doth pass in quietly,

And unto Morpheus comes, whom drouned deepe,
In drowsie fit he findes ; of nothing he takes keepe.

SECTION LXXXII. - SPECIMENS OF MODERN ENGLISH.

SIR PHILIP SIDNEY. 1554-86.

DESCRIPTION OF ARCADIA. There were hills which garnished their proud heights with stately trees; humble valleys, whose base estate seemed comforted with the refreshing of silver rivers; meadows, enamelled with all sorts of eye-pleasing flowers; thickets, which, being lined with the most pleasant shade, were witnessed so to by the cheerful disposition of many well-tuned birds; each pasture stored with sheep, feeding with sober security, while the pretty lambs, with bleating oratory, craved the dam's comfort; here a shepherd's piping, as though he should never be old; there a young shepherdess knitting, and withal singing; and it seemed that her voice comforted her hands to work, and her hands kept time to her voice music.

G E O R GE HERBERT. 1593-1632.

RELIGION.

All may of thee partake;

Nothing can be so mean,
Which with this tincture, for thy sake,

Will pot grow bright and clean.
This is the famous stone

That turneth all to gold,
For that which God doth touch and own

Can not for less be told.

SIR WALTER RALEIGH. 1552-1618.

THE STRENGTH OF KINGS. They say the goodliest cedars which grow on the high mountains of Libanus thrust their roots between the clefts of hard rocks, the better to bear themselves against the strong storms that blow there. As reason has instructed those kings of trees, so has reason taught the kings of men to root themselves in the hardy hearts of their faithful subjects; and as those kings of trees have large tops, so havo the kings of men large crowns, whereof, as the first would soon be broken from their bodies, were they not underborne by many branches, so would the other easily totter, were they not fastened on their heads by the strong chains of civil justice and martial discipline.

ROBERT HERRICK. Born 1591,

TO FIND GOD.
Weigh me the fire; or canst thou find
A way to measure out the wind;
Distinguish all those floods that are
Mixed in that watery theatre,
And taste thou them as saltloss there
As in their channel first they were.

[ocr errors]

Tell me the people that do keep
Within the kingdoms of the deep;
Or fetch me back that cloud again,
Beshivered into seeds of rain.
Tell me the motes, dusts, sands, and spears
Of corn, when summer shakes bis ears:
Show me that world of stars, and whence
They noiseless spill their influence.
This if thou canst; then show me Him
That rides the glorious cherubim.

a

BEN JONSON. 1574-1637. Language most shows a man: speak, that I may see thee. It springs out of the most retired and inmost parts of us, and is the image of the parent of it, the mind. No glass renders a man's form or likeness so true as his speech. Nay, it is likened to a man; and, as we consider feature and composition in a man, so words in language, in the greatness, openness, sound, structure, and harmony of it. Some men are tall and big, so some language is high and great. Then the words are chosen, their sound ample, the composition fair, the absolution plenteous, and poured out, all grave, sinewy, and strong. Some are little and dwarfs; so of speech, it is humble and low, the words poor and fat, the members and periods thin and weak, without knitting or number. The middle are of a just stature. There the language is plain and pleasing; even without stopping, round without swelling; all well turned, composed, elegant, and accurate. The vicious language is vast and gaping, swelling and irregular; when it contends to be high, full of rocks and mountains, and pointedness; as it affects to lie low, it is abject, and creeps full of bogs and holes.

SIR TIOMAS BROWNE. 1605-1682.

LIGHT THE SHADOW OF GOD. Light, that makes things seen, makes some things invisible. Were it not for darkness and the shadow of the earth, the noblest part of creation had remained unseen, and the stars in heaven as invisble as on the fourth day, when they were created above the horizon with the sun, and there was not an eye to behold them. The greatest mystery of religion is expressed by adumbration, and in the noblest part of Jewish types we find the cherubim shadowing the mercy-seat. Life itself is but the shadow of death, and souls departed but the shadows of the living. All things fall under this name. The sun itself is but the dark simulacrum, and light but the shadow of God.

J E R E MY TAYLOR. 1613-1667.

THE AGE OF REASON AND DISCRETION. We must not think that the life of a man begins when he can feed himself or walk alone, when he can fight or beget his like, for so is he contemporary with a camel or a cow; but he is first a man when he comes to a certain steady use of his reason, according to his proportion; and when that is, all the world of men can not tell precisely. Some are called at age at fourteen, some at one-and-twenty, some never ; but all men late enough ; for the life of a man comes upon him slowly and insensibly. But, as when the sun approaching toward the gates of the morning, he first opens a little eye of heaven, and sends away the spirits of darkness, and gives light to a cock, and calls up the lark to matins, and by-and-by gilds the fringes of a cloud, and peeps over the eastern hills, thrusting out his golden horns like those which decked the brows of Moses when he was forced to wear a veil because himself had seen the face of God; and still, while a man tells the story, the sun gets up higher, till he shows a fair face and a full light, and then he shines one whole day, under à cloud sometimes, and often weeping great and little showers, and sets quickly ; so is a man's reason and his life. He first begins to perceive himself, to see or taste, making little reflections upon his actions of sense, and can discourse of flies and dogs, shells and play, horses and liberty ; but when he is strong enough to enter into arts and little institutions, he is at first entertained with trifles and impertinent things, not because he needs them, but because his understanding is no bigger; and little images of things are laid before him, like a cock-boat to a whale, only to play withal: but before a man comes to be wise, he is half dead with gouts and con- sumption, with catarrhs and aches, with sore eyes and worn-out body. So that, if we

must not reckon the life of a man but by the accounts of his reason, he is long before hissoul can be dressed ; and he is not to be called a man without a wise and adorned soul, — a soul, at least, furnished with what is necessary toward his well-being.

JOIN MILTON. 1608-74. Truth, indeed, came once into the world with her Divine Master, and was a perfect shape, most glorious to look upon ; but when he ascended, and his apostles after him were laid asleep, then straight arose a wicked race of deceivers, who, as that story goes of the Egyptian Typhon with his conspirators, how they dealt with the god Osiris, took the virgin Truth, hewed her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds. From that time, ever since, the sac friends of Truth, such as durst appear, imitating the careful search that Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down, gathering or limb by limb still as they could find them. We have not found them all yet, Lords and Commons ! nor ever shall do, till her Master's second coming ; he shall bring together every joint and member, and mould them into an immortal feature of loveliness and perfection.

JOHN DRY DEN. 1631-1700. To begin, then, with Shakspeare. He was the man who, of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul. All the images of nature were still present to him, and he drew them, not laboriously, but luckily. When he describes any thing, you more than see it, you feel it too. Those that accuse him to have wanted learning give him the greater commendation. He was naturally learned ; he needed not the spectacles of books to read Nature ; he looked inward, and found her there. I can not say he is every where alike : were he so, I should do him injustice to compare him with the greatest of mankind. He is many times flat, insipid ; his comic wit degenerating into clinches, his serious swelling into bombast. But he is always great when some great occasion is presented to him ; no man can say he ever had a fit subject for his wits, and did not raise himself as high above the rest of poets,

Quantum lenta solent inter viburna cupressi.”

66

ALEXANDER POPE. 1688-1744.

TO HRS. MARTUA BLOUNT.

a

Nothing could have more of that melancholy which once used to please me, than my last day's journey ; for, after having passed through my favourite wood in the forest with a thousand reveries of past pleasures, I rid over banging hills, whose tops were edged with groves, and whose feet watered with winding rivers, listening to the falls of cataracts below and the murmuring of the winds above ; the gloomy verdure of Stonor succeeded to these, and then the shades of the evening overtook me. The moon rose in the clearest sky I ever saw, by whose light I paced on slowly, without company or any interruption to the range of my thoughts. About a mile before I reached Oxford, all the bells tolled in different notes ; the clocks of every college answered one another, and sounded forth (some in a softer tone) that it was eleven at night. All this was no ill preparation to the life I have since led among those old walls, venerable galleries, stone porticoes, studious walks, and solitary scenes of the university. I wanted nothing but a black gown and a salary to be as mere à book-worm as any there. I conformed myself to the college hours, was rolled up in books, lay in one of the most ancient, dusky parts of the university, and was as dead. to the world as any hermit of the desert. If any thing was alive and awake in me, it was a little vanity, such as even those good men used to entertain when monks of their own order extolled their piety and abstraction. For I found myself received with a sort of respect which this idle part of mankind, the learned, pay to their own species, who are as considerable here as the busy, the gay, and the ambitious are in your world.

DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON. 1709-1784. Junius burst into notice with a blaze of impudence which has rarely glared upon the world before, and drew the rabble after him as a monster makes a show. When

he had once provided for his safety by impenetrable secrecy, he had nothing to combat but truth and jastice, enemies whom he knows to be feeble in the dark. Being, then, at liberty to indulge himself in all the immunities of invisibility ; out of the reach of danger, he has been bold; out of the reach of shame, he has been confident. As a rhetorician, he has had the art of persuading when he seconded.desire ; as a reasoner, he has convinced those who had no doubt before ; as a moralist, he has taught that virtue may disgrace ; and, as a patriot, he has gratified the mean by insults on the high. Finding sedition ascendant, he has been able to advance it ; finding the nation combustible, he has been able to inflame it. Let us abstract from his wit the vivacity of insolence, and withdraw from his efficacy the sympathetic favour of plebeian malignity; I do not say that we shall leave him nothing: the cause that I defend scorns the help of falsehood ; but if we leave him only his merit, what shall we praise ?

LORD FRANCIS JEFFREY. 1917. Every thing in him (Shakspeare) is in unmeasured abundance and unequalled perfection, but every thing so balanced and kept in subordination as not to jostle, or disturb, or take the place of another. The most exquisite poetical descriptions are given with such brevity, and introduced with such skill, as merely to adorn, without loading the sense they accompany. Although his sails are purple, and perfumed, and his prow of beaten gold, they waft him on his voyage, not less, but more rapidly and directly, than if they had been composed of baser materials. All excellences, like those of Nature herself, are thrown out-together, and, instead of interfering with, support and recommend each other. His flowers are not tied up in garlands, nor his fruits crushed into baskets, but spring living from the soil, in all the dew and freshness of youth ; while the graceful foliage in which they lurk, and the ample branches, the rough and vigorous stem, and the widespreading roots on which they depend, are present along with them, and share in their places the equal care of their Creator.

RUSKIN. 1845. And yet people speak, in this working age, when they speak from their hearts, as if houses, and lands, and food, and raiment were alone useful, and as if sight, thought, and admiration were all profitless ; so that men insolently call themselves Utilitarians, who would turn, if they had their way, themselves and their race into vegetables ; men who think, as far as such can be said to think, that the meat is more than the life, and the raiment than the body; who look to the earth as a stable, and to its fruit as fodder ; vinedressers and husbandmen, who love the corn they grind and the grapes they crush better than the gardens of the angels upon the slopes of Eden ; hewers of wood and drawers of water, who think that the wood they hew and the water they draw are better than the pine-forests that cover the mountains like the shadow of God, and the great rivers that move like his eternity. And so comes upon us that woe of the preacher, that though God “ hath made every thing beautifal in his time, also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”

G E O R G E BANCRO FT. 1854. Go forth, then, language of Milton and Hampden, language of my country ; take possession of the North American continent ! Gladden the waste places with every tone that has been rightly struck on the English lyre, with every English word that has been spoken well for liberty and man! Give an echo to the now silent and solitary mountains ; gush out with the fountains that as yet sing their anthem all day long without response; fill the valleys with the voices of love in its purity, the pledges of friendship in its faithfulness; and as the morning sun drinks the dew-drops from the flowers all the way from the dreary Atlantic to the peaceful ocean, meet him with the joyous hum of the early industry of freemen! Utter boldly, and spread widely through the world, the thoughts of the coming apostles of the people's liberty, till the sound that cheers the desert shall thrill through the heart of humanity, and the lips of the messenger of the people's power, as he stands in beauty upon the mountains, shall proclaim the renovating tidings of equal freedom for the race.

SECTION LXXXIII.

We have, in this chapter, exhibited the English language, in its successive stages of Saxon, Semi-Saxon, or Norman-Saxon, Old English, Middle English, and Modern English, from its birth to its maturity, in the age of Queen Elizabeth, when it passed from the stage of Middle English to that of Modern English, and from that epoch, by a few examples, to the middle of the present century. It ought, however, in passing, to be remarked, that though during her reign the capabilities of the language were fully developed in the forms of strength and elegance, both in prose and poetry, it was somewhat Latinised by such writers as Sir Thomas Browne, as afterward it was somewhat Gallicised by Dryden and the wits of Queen •Anne's time, and as now, in certain quarters, it is becoming somewhat Germanised. Having thus seen what the English language is in its purity, and beauty, and strength, in its full development, we are now prepared to pass to a consideration of its dialects and

provincialisms.

QUESTIONS UNDER CHAPTER IV. 1. Will you mention the several periods of the English language ? 2. To what is the term Semi-Saxon applied ?

3. What is the grammatical distinction between the Anglo-Saxon, the Old English, and the Modern English ?

4. What was the last characteristic distinction of Middle English which passed away? 5. In whose reign was Modern English introduced ?

6. In what three several ways has the language been somewhat injured-in Queen Elizabeth's reign ? in Queen Anne's reign ? in our times ?

1

CHAPTER V.

1

SECTION LXXXIV.DIALECTS AND PROVINCIALISMS,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

A DIALECT is one branch of a language peculiar to a province, state, or kingdom. Thus, in the Greek language, there were the Attic, the Doric, the Æolic, and the Ionic dialects. A dialect has certain prominent idioms in its vocabulary, pronunciation, or orthography,

An examination of the dialects of the English language is indispensable, in order to understand its present condition, and also to learn historically, how it came to its present condition. It is among the provincial dialects, too, that we discover many beautiful archaisms, which explain the obscurities of our ancient writers, which have so often bewildered the most acute commentators of works like SHAKESPEARE's. These provincial modes of speech, however much they may be despised by fastidious critics, have actually preserved for us the origin of English phraseology, and enlightened the philologist in his efforts to walk in paths hitherto unexplored.

SECTION LXXXV. - EXISTING DIVERSITIES OF LANGUAGE IN ENGLAND.

Besides the Lowland Scotch, and the Gaelic, and the Welsh languages, there are certain peculiarities which mark the language in different quarters of the island. Thus the language in the western

« AnteriorContinuar »