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I know not, lady, if thy cheek be fair,
Nor what may be the colour of thine eyes; I ask no questions about lips or hair,
But I am sure that thou art good and wise And gentle, and hast kindly tears to spare,
In graver moods, to poet's phantasies; And therefore, lady, shalt thou be enshrined Amidst the holiest visions of
I have a gentle vision of my own,-
Down on her lustrous shoulders; all alone
Mute-listening to the low and dreamy tone Of quiet musings and calm thoughts, enshrined Deep in the inmost temple of her mind.
CXXXIII. Ay! there it is, with radiant garments flowing,
Like summer clouds around the rising sunThe soul-lit eye with heavenly rapture glowing,
The cheek just crimson'd o'er, and leaning on The small and snowy hand-alas! I'm growing
Most eloquently crazy—but I've done; I only mean to say the form's enshrined Amidst the holiest visions of
Meet, lest this picture should receive a taint;
Than aught that my poor phantasy can paint; But then you know, dear madam, if I were
Proud to be thought a poet (which I an't)
The beau ideal of a poet's figure;
Like Milton on the whole, though something bigger:
Not to possess my share of youthful vigour-
And here I pause awhile and wish good bye
To all my readers ; hoping they've perused
And won't disdain to own they've been amused;
I shall be glad to be again abused
END OF CANTO I.
NOTES TO CANTO I.
(1) Keats.-See his beautiful ode to a Grecian urn.
And lay down in her loveliness.”—CHRISTABEL.
Marlyn was Artours counsalere,
He radde hym for to wende
ROMANCE OF LAUNFAL Miles. “This King Ryon, or Ryence, was also King of North Wales, and of many isles. He sent to King Arthur, for his beard, to enable him, with those of eleven other kings, whom he had already discomfited, to purfle his mantle. See Mort d' Arthur, B. 1, c. 24. According however to Geoffrey of Monmouth, this insulting message proceeded from the giant Ritho, whom Arthur slew upon the mountain Arairus. Ryon was afterwards brought prisoner to Arthur (c. 34); and is named among the Knights of the Round Table. The author is singular in making Guenever his daughter."
“ Three things only,” says the Italian proverb, done in haste-flying from the plague, escaping quarrels, and catching fleas.”
In England, perhaps, it may be questioned whether the spirit of this apophthegm is at present much attended to, but at all events slowness in escaping quarrels and in catching fleas, is more than made up by velocity in other matters of more import
In the surpassing illumination of the nineteenth century, we have learnt to perceive and acknowledge the dulness of our forefathers. A truly royal road is now laid open to the summit of
every art and of every science; it is as smooth at its commencement as in its middle and end; it is disencumbered of brambles and quickset impediments; it is variegated with the flowers of the field, refreshed with waters of pleasure, and breathed upon by the winds of an eternal spring. Quadrilles and the Linnæan system may be learnt in six lessons; waltzing and the Gothic in three; mathematics and thorough bass take eight; Hebrew, with or without points, twelve; and Greek,
upon the plan of the late Mr. Porson,” ten, at three shillings and sixpence each!
It is assumed and argued upon as an axiom, that the present generation is more knowing and more enlightened than all those which have preceded it. This belief is entertained by all parties and all descriptions of mortals : on this article the delicate Doctor of Divinity, the dainty modern Whig, and the robust Radical, are unanimously agreed. We have discarded the prejudices, exposed the errors, and improved the truths of our elders ; and, in addition, have invented others, of which they knew nothing. The age that is past, wiser perhaps than its predecessor,
Progeniem sapientiorem! It should seem next to impossible that people can be mistaken in this matter; it comes home to their own business and bosoms; it meets them at church, in the senate, at the theatre; it is an affair of conscience--in fact a mere subject of comparison. It would be weak to doubt the truth of this persuasion; it would be arrogant to deny it; it must be therefore taken for granted, and presumed to be founded on fact. But two questions, of some moment, and connected with each other, arise here ::
I. Where is the superiority ?
It is singular that when almost all agree such a thing does exist, scarcely two can be found to agree upon the important circumstance where it exists. There is no obtaining a general opinion upon this particular ; there is no square inch of the picture which has not its proper blot of reprobation. But the picture is, nevertheless, a chef d'oeuvre, though the touch, the light, and the shade, are, by several judges, respectively pronounced erroneous and defective. Every class in society is disposed to assert the progress of its own pursuits, and to indulge in scepticism with regard to that of others. Hence, if the suffrages of each section be taken, the superiority in question seems to be vindicated by all; if one alone be consulted, to that one alone will the pre-eminence be confined. A man must be very bold who will thrust himself into the midst of poets, doctors, and metaphysicians, to ascertain their various pretensions; and, indeed, there are three things whicli do not call for such an exertion of personal courage and discrimation for the understanding of their excellence ; for whatever may be the disputes concerning Byron, Calvin, and Kant, who doubts that in gas, steam, and political economy, we may with justice and propriety kick our grandsires down the back stairs ?
If there be any unsympathizing sceptic who, entrenched within opinions and principles now justly antiquated, doubts the actual reality of the superior attainments of the present generation, let him cast his eyes around him, and take notice of the splendid exertions of modern genius and civilization. Let him compare times and seasons, men and manners ; let him pause over Botanical Primers and Conversations on Chemistry ; let him examine the inclined plane and the rectangular neckcloth ; let him construe the Morning Chronicle, and let him scan Westminster verses. If he still hesitates, let him go view the Honourable House, and if what he sees and hears there convince him not, it must needs appear that he is incapable of conviction, lost to the power of truth, and a being not to be reasoned withal.
With such persons it is useless to talk. You may, to as much purpose, argue with a Supralapsarian Calvinist, who, do what you will, is still impalpable to touch, is still beyond the reach of your utmost thrust, and smiles upon you with cold benignity from his throne of adamantine obstinacy. Mention to these modern antiques the learning of a Greek professor, and they stare upon you with the eye of the most provokingly doubtful inquiry; expatiate upon Mr. Payne Knight's poem on the Iliad, and they open their mouths as if they would eat you ; quote Hunt's oratory or Hunt's poetry, and they know not what you mean; commend, as it deserves, the blameless consistency of the Whigs of 1823, and the insensible bears will laugh outright in your face.
Upon such men the words of soberness are lost. They will as little acknowledge the excellence of modern education as the reality and value of the fruits which it produces. They ransack our schools and our universities ; they pick holes in lectures and lecture-books ; they doubt the sufficiency of Paley, and grumble at the omnipotency of Locke. They are not better satisfied with the management of young ladies; they take upon them to say that Miss Such-a-one is not educated, when it is notorious she can repeat an Italian and a French vocabulary, can dance quadrilles and minuets, and can enact " Tu che accendi,” to the utter dismay of a hemicycle of black bonnets. They carry their paradoxical coxcombry upon this head so far, as to think that nature could manage for herself without the assistance of inclined planes ; that public unnational waltzing is not modest, and, as a ne plus ultra of audacity, that Signor Maestro Rossini is not a better composer than Corelli, Haydn, Mozart, or even the author of the Messiah.
Upon one subject these curious old prigs affect an extraordinary degree of surprise and indignation; namely the general neglect of the study of history amongst young men, and especially the ignorance so copiously manifested with regard to that of our own country.
Our sensible readers will perceive the folly as well as malignity of this accusation; for, granting it to be true, they, together with all thinking people, must own, that, if there be one thing rather than another in modern education less obnoxious to objection, or which deserves more than another unqualified commendation from all parties, it is precisely this abstinence from the petty disputes about Parliaments, this caution of encumbering infancy with truth, this blameless nescience of the turbulent and sanguinary records of England. Formerly, indeed, when it was the custom to refer to the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement, it was partly necessary to instruct the rising generation in the meaning of those phrases ; but now that the times are altered, when the principles of 1688 are sneered at with justice, and the Constitution is thoroughly rescued from the sophistications of Lord Somers and Sir Joseph Jekyll, to complain now that precious labour and opportunity are not wasted in loading the tender mind of youth with such antiquated technicalities, is clearly the effect of ignorance and malice. The French Revolution, and not the English, is the object to which all eyes ought to be turned, and from which, as from an everlasting fountain, the true principles of policy and politics ought to be drawn. It has the advantage of suiting all parties equally well; the Tories are supplied with a bottomless abyss of mud, stones, and dust to hurl in the face of reform of every description; the Whigs are relieved from the oppressive contrast of their ancestors, and the galling yoke of rational liberty; and the gentle Radicals find in it a precedent and an authority for the most romantic undertakings and the most ingenious speculations. This, therefore, for the general convenience, ought to be considered as the fixed and established boundary, beyond which maxims are to be holden without substance, opinions without foundation, and political history altogether technical and inconclusive.